Reason to moan

May 16, 2019

Jamie McKay challenged Shane Jones on The Country yesterday and got this response:

“I grew up on a farm, my dad was a farmer, I know what farmers are like and if they’re not milking cows or chasing cows, they’re moaning.”

I don’t agree with that, but there is good reason for farmers to moan under the current government.

The Labour and Green parties don’t pretend to like farmers or farming but New Zealand First likes to call itself the champion of the provinces.

How can it champion the provinces when this is how it’s second most prominent MP regards farmers?

You can listen to the interview and the response from Don Nicolson and Craig Wiggins here.

 


IHC cans calf scheme

July 4, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis has claimed another victim – the IHC Calf Scheme:

Due to the very real risk of spreading the Mycoplasma bovis disease, IHC has decided for the first time in 33 years to suspend crucial aspects of its Calf and Rural Scheme.

This includes picking up calves and organising IHC sales, simply because we cannot be part of something that puts farmers’ livelihoods at risk.

IHC has had a long and important partnership with farmers, which means together we have been able to make a real difference to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities – particularly those people living in rural communities.

We’ve spoken to many farmers, including at this year’s Fieldays, many of whom were concerned about the spread of Mycoplasma bovis.

Since the eradication programme was announced by Government, IHC has been in ongoing talks with the Ministry for Primary Industries – and based on information provided to us we have had to make some very tough decisions.

Over many years, IHC has tightened its practices – only picking up animals with National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) ear tags and Animal Status Declaration (ASD) forms.

IHC National Manager Fundraising Greg Millar says despite significant improvements in these systems, the risk remains too high.

“We have determined there should neither be IHC-organised transportation of weaned calves to sales, nor IHC calf sale days,” says Greg.

“IHC looked at every possible way to keep the scheme running as is, but after deliberating with MPI we determined it was too much of a risk.

“This is an important decision and one that we have not made lightly – the Calf and Rural Scheme is a long-standing fundraising programme that is now in its 33rd year, and generates more than $1 million annually for people with intellectual disabilities.

“We have a real obligation to do what is right for New Zealand farmers, their livelihoods and long-term sustainability.

“We are keeping up to date with the latest findings, and are working to gather the best data possible, to determine how the scheme will operate in the future.”

IHC would like to encourage people who want to continue to support people with intellectual disabilities to donate and take part in our virtual calf scheme, donating $300 in lieu of a calf, by visiting www.ihc.org.nz/pledge.

“We would also like to acknowledge what a tough time this has been for farmers, and we’re making a commitment to those in rural communities around New Zealand who have supported those with intellectual disabilities over the past 33 years.

“IHC is very grateful for the ongoing support in this difficult year of the key sponsors, in particular PGG Wrightson, who has supported us from the beginning of the calf scheme.” 

On The Country today, Jamie Mackay was encouraging everyone to donate money in lieu of stock.

We will be.

IHC was wonderfully supportive of our son who was profoundly disabled, and us.

Their attitude was summed up by the response to a query about what help was available.

The local IHC manager said, “You tell us what you need and we’ll make our system work for you.”

It’s more than 20 years since we needed that help but there are lots of other disabled people and their families who still need IHC’s assistance.


M Bovis spread

May 12, 2018

This map shows how far stock with, or from farms with, Mycoplasma bovis, have spread.

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The Country For those interested in M. bovis – here’s the map showing properties under legal controls and surveillance. Valid as of yesterday (10 May).


Rural round-up

May 10, 2018

Farmers’ guilt ‘a crying shame’, with 30 jobs created by every farm – Jill Galloway:

Wairarapa farmer Matt Wyeth reckons if New Zealanders knew how many people were employed upstream from farms they would be more appreciative of farming.

Wyeth, from Spring Valley Enterprises near Masterton, said 30 people had jobs as a direct result of a farm.

“Each farm is responsible for the income for 30 households,” said Wyeth at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North attended by about 180 people. “Our identity in the community is largely not known. You hear about people going to a barbecue and they are almost ashamed to say they are in the farming industry.”

He said truck drivers, stock agents, and meat workers were just some of the people earning employment from farming, as well as agricultural scientists and soil scientists. . . 

Government water plans ‘almost economic suicide’:

Jane Smith did not mince words when discussing David Parker’s new water plan, calling the Environment Minister “an angry little man on a power trip in Wellington”.

Smith, a former winner of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay saying Parker’s reasoning was “barely fit for consumption.”

“You know I just sort of wonder if he’s running a democracy or a dictatorship.”

Parker’s reformed National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management could bring a halt to intensive dairy farming intensification; a move that Smith says has a lack of metrics, rationale and facts. . . 

(If you click the link above you’ll get to the audio for The Country’s Panel with Jane and environmental consultant Megan Hands which is well wroth listening to).

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In 1920 each farmer fed 19 mouths. In 1970 each farmer fed 26 mouths. In 2013 each farmer feeds 155 mouths and counting  . . .  No Farms, No Food, No Future.

Alliance backs origin meat brand – Neal Wallace:

The country’s largest sheep meat exporter has lent its support to the Beef + Lamb NZ red meat story brand, saying it provides a valuable insight to the needs of consumers.

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said the Taste Pure Nature origin brand is also an example of how meat companies and the wider industry are working together for the common good, having earlier successfully co-operated on the chilled meat trial to China.

Developing the origin brand provided a valuable understanding of what is important to consumers and he agrees with the B+LNZ initiated pilot marketing programmes in China and the United States. . . 

Tuapeka farm in family 150 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Cummings family, of Tuapeka Flat, will celebrate more than 150 years of farming on the same property at the New Zealand Century Farm and Station awards dinner in Lawrence on May 26.

Peter Cummings said the family’s history could be traced to Patrick Cummings, who left Ireland and sailed to the Victoria goldfields in 1857, before arriving in New Zealand in 1861.

Patrick eventually leased 28 acres near Lawrence, which is now part of the family farm. . .

Confidence drives deer farmers – Annette Scott:

Confidence is driving the rebuild of New Zealand’s deer herd as the industry records one of its best-ever seasons and looks to stay ahead of the game at its upcoming conference.

Existing deer blocks are being expanded and subdivided to run more stock, feeding systems are being upgraded and more weaners are being kept for breeding – all on the back of soaring venison prices that traditionally peak in spring for the European chilled game market but this season reached records highs pre-Christmas and continue to hold up well above average.

The South Island schedule for venison is $11 a kilogram while the North Island is about $10/kg. . . .

Worm farm impresses councilors – Yvonne O’Hara:

Using worms to turn dairy shed waste into worm castings, which can ultimately be used to grow feed and food, was the focus of a field day at Robbie Dick’s Central Wormworx field day in Cromwell on April 27.

Mr Dick hosted a group of Otago Regional Council and Environment Southland councillors and talked to them about possibly establishing more worm farms in Otago and Southland to deal with dairy waste.

He runs the 1ha worm farm, which has about 100 million stock units. . .

New biosecurity safety advertisement applauded:

Federated Farmers applauds the Australian Government’s intention to take border security more seriously by launching a new compulsory biosecurity safety video aimed at all incoming aircraft and cruise line passengers.

The safety video depicts people trying to use everyday excuses to get past Australian border officials with fish, wooden objects, plants and other material hidden in their luggage.

“This video is an example of what is needed at every New Zealand point of entry,” Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says. . . 


Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


Rural round-up

January 2, 2018

Ethical sustainable agriculture: Who sets the parameters? – Bob Freebairn:

Farmers increasingly are subjected to various heads of companies, pressure groups, media and others demanding we must produce our food and fibre “ethically”, “sustainably” and various other buzz word that have connotations of grandeur and purity. Commonly these people/groups, including city based multi-national company heads, have no idea of what they are talking about but they may aim to direct our way of farming via their authority.

The challenge I believe is who sets these standards. Are they to be based on science, or someone’s misguided perception on what is pure, natural and ethical. Like most farmers we aim to run a profitable and better than sustainable (sustainable definition is “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level”) business. We aim to improve aspects such as soil quality, soil health, good biodiversity (including adding strategic clumps of trees), clean water runoff into dams and creeks, control weeds and invasive pasts and prevent soil erosion.  . . 

Capital gains tax proposal sends nervous tension through farming – Gerard Hutching:

A capital gains tax (CGT) will not go down well with farmers, but it might also not earn a lot of revenue, a tax specialist says.

Tax advisory partner for Crowe Horwath, Tony Marshall, said most farmers made more out of their farms when they sold them than they earned from operating them

In Australia where there has been a capital gains tax for the last 30 years, it accounts for about 2 per cent of tax revenue. . .

NAIT responsibility – the buck stops with farmers – Chris Irons:

 Let’s be frank – the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme is not working as well as it should, and the blame lies with farmers.

Yes, NAIT could be easier to use but that’s not an excuse for not keeping animal tracking data up to date.

There are a lot of farmers who say NAIT is waste of time and money. If you have that view then I’m sorry, but I don’t think you care about the farming industry and are probably guilty of not being compliant. . . 

Why we should celebrate farmers

Year in Review: “Every one of us that’s not a farmer, is not a farmer because we have farmers.”

Fomer Secretary of Agriculture for the US, Tom Vilsack’s impassioned speech about farming went viral on The Country’s Facebook page this year, reaching more than 2 million people.

You can watch former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s speech in the video below: Tom Vilsack served as United States Secretary of Agriculture from 2009 until 2017. . . 

Mucking around with perfect maure fork – Rachel Wise:

Well it’s happened again.

Barely months after my search for – and discovery of – the perfect manure fork for mucking out my horse paddocks, tragedy has struck.

It had been coming for a while, I must admit. My initially perfect manure fork had, in the past few weeks, lost one of its tines and it was dropping the odd wee clod as we travelled. I could see the end of our happy partnership looming and I had started thinking, in a casual sort of way, about starting to search for a replacement. . . 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2017

Don’t let the blowtorch burn you:

The recent political blowtorch on farming is affecting the morale of younger farmers, says Ngatea farmer Mark Townshend.

But dairy farmers should feel “very proud’ of their achievements, he says.

A notion is gaining ground that some younger dairy farmers do not now feel proud to be dairy farmers in mixed company, Townshend says.

“This is against the backdrop of an election process where political parties on the left used farmers, in particular dairy farmers, as political footballs. . . 

Laser throws light on emissions – Richard Rennie:

As farmers and researchers grapple with nitrate losses into waterways and nitrous oxide to the air, half the challenge has been how best to measure them to even begin to better understand their behaviour. Richard Rennie spoke to scientist Louis Schipper.

A quantum cascade laser sounds like something from Dr Who and like his police box popping up in odd places, one has appeared in a Waikato paddock.

It’s got Waikato University biogeochemistry Professor Louis Schipper excited.

He is co-lead in the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre’s research programme into nitrous oxide. . .

Tatua targets growth in value-added business:

Waikato milk processor Tatua will use retentions to grow its cream and protein based value-added products, says chief executive Brendhan Greaney.

He says Tatua will be making more specialty nutritional products for key markets China, Japan and the US.

The co-op has announced a final payout of $7.10/kgMS to farmer shareholders for the 2016-17 season; it has retained 50c/kgMS to help fund capital projects and maintain a strong balance sheet. . . 

Ballance Farm Environment Awards positive experience for Otago finalist:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a positive experience from start to finish for Otago finalist Simon Paterson.

Simon, his wife Sarah and parents Allan and Eris from the Armidale Merino Stud in the Maniototo were finalists in this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and won the WaterForce Integrated Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award. . . 

Carrfields’ Just Shorn rugs reach artwork status in the US:

American interior designers have elevated humble New Zealand wool to artwork status in a recent rug design competition in San Francisco.

Carlisle, which distributes Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool)’s range of premium New Zealand wool carpets and rugs in North America under the Just Shorn® brand, invited designers from the California Bay Area to submit their designs for rugs that could be crafted from 100% Just Shorn® New Zealand wool.

Colin McKenzie, CP Wool Group CEO, said the results were “stunning”. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Jeremy Rookes – Claire Inkson:

Proud to Be A Farmer NZ Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Hawkes Bay Proud Farmer Jeremy Rookes. You can catch Jeremy on The Country talking Farming with Jamie Mackay between 12-1pm every second Friday on Radio Sport Newstalk ZB , also on I Heart Radio.

How long have you been Farming?

I am a City Boy originally, but I have been farming on my own account since 1992. I finished a B.Com at Lincoln in June 1992, but started leasing a block in Waikari earlier that year. In 1998 my wife Mary and I bought a small farm at Waipara and added to that before selling it in 2013, we then bought 467ha here in the Hawke’s Bay at Flemington which is 20km South East of Waipukurau. . .

 

French sheep farmers protest against protection of wolves:

LYON, France (Reuters) – Farmers trucked hundreds of sheep into a central square in the French city of Lyon on Monday in protest against the government’s protection of wolves, which they blame for livestock deaths and heavy financial losses.

European wolves were hunted to extinction in France in the 1930s but a pair crossed the Alps from Italy in the early 1990s and they now number about 360 in packs scattered across the country, according to wildlife groups.

As their population has rebounded, they have encroached increasingly on farmland.

“10,000 animals killed every year by the wolf,” read one banner. . .

Fonterra’s farmers to vote on four directors after process to address ‘skills matrix – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group shareholders will vote on four new directors – one-third of the board – after the dairy company’s exhaustive new selection process that rates candidates against a ‘skills matrix’.

Shareholders will be asked to ratify the appointment of Bruce Hassall as an independent director at the company’s annual meeting in Hawera on Nov. 2. He replaces David Jackson, one of the four independents on the 13-member board (one seat is vacant), who retires at the AGM. . . 

 


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