Rural round-up

June 28, 2020

One billion . . .  wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

Is this simply the dumbest waste of Government money to be spent in New Zealand?

The Government has committed $100m​ dollars to tackle wilding pines infestations during the next four years but under the One Billion Trees Fund, it’s also paying for the invasive species to be planted in the first place.

In Southland, a trust that has worked hard to eradicate wilding pines has written to Government ministers asking why they allow, under the fund, the planting of wilding species.

The Mid Dome Wilding Pine Trust has spent more than $10m​ clearing wilding contorta pines from northern Southland since 2007. . .

Farming vs Forestry: carbon credit  policy ‘idealistic’ :

The Government’s carbon credit policy is “idealistic” and missing “the big picture” says Mike Cranstone.

“Allowing an overseas fund manager to use our productive land to grow carbon credits – that’s like cutting off a finger of our productive hand,” the Whanganui Federated Farmers president and hill country farmer told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Cranstone was also not a fan of giving up profitable sheep and beef land to forestry.

“Let’s have the government set the incentives and the policy to actually encourage farmers to think about their marginal land and plant that”. . . 

Govt underestimating Labour shortage – National :

The government is underestimating the size of the labour shortage rural contractors are facing, according to National’s ag spokesperson David Bennett.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says he expects rural contractors generally require 350 foreign workers to get through the season. But contractors dispute this, saying many more will likely be needed to fill the labour shortage,’ claims Bennett.

“He also admitted the Government’s Covid-19 training programme is only training 40 people across the country to fill these highly-skilled roles.

“The Minister implied that if someone is capable of driving a van then they are qualified to drive a tractor. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account the complexities of rural contracting and the high-value crops that are at stake. . .

Farms rich family heritage recognised – Molly Houseman:

A Taieri farm, owned by the same family for 150 years, has been given a New Zealand Century farm award.

Despite the cancellation of the usual awards dinner due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Janefield farm and its rich family history did not go unnoticed.

The 220ha farm is owned by father and son Ian and Simon Bathgate.

To be considered for the award, an application including photographs and documents supporting the farm’s history had to be submitted. . .

Selling makes no sense when you’re living the dream – Hugh Collins:

The drive between Arrowtown and Queenstown contains arguably some of the most sought-after high-country land in the South Island.

With no shortage of wealthy developers moving into the area in the past decade, many would be adamant the region’s rich farming days are numbered.

But for Malaghans Rd farmer Chris Dagg, it would be a cold day in hell if he ever chose to sell his 404ha sheep and beef farm beneath Coronet Peak.

“I’ve had countless people say ‘why don’t you just sell and go sit on a beach?,” Mr Dagg said when asked about selling. . . 

Pig farmers feed million bees in wildlife project :

Two pig farmers have succeeded in feeding one million bees after participating in a project that saw them turn over half their land to wildflowers.

Four years ago brothers Mark and Paul Hayward decided to farm 33ha – the equivalent of 83 football pitches – in the most wildlife positive way.

This involves planting nectar-rich blooms around the pig site at Dingley Dell Pork, Suffolk with the aim of embracing a sustainable way of farming. . . 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2020

Book puts farming at centre of NZ’s story :

Brian Easton says his new book could not ignore farming’s contribution to the history of NZ.

William Soltau Davidson is not usually considered one of New Zealand’s great 19th century heroes. He came to New Zealand in 1865 as a 19-year-old farm cadet at the Levels in South Canterbury. By the age of 32 he was general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, which held some 3,000,000 acres in the South Island, in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, some of which Davidson sold off to small holders.

In 1882 he supervised the loading of the first exports of frozen meat at Port Chalmers and welcomed the Dunedin when it reached London. That Davidson does not appear more prominently in our general histories reflects their neglect of the central role of farming.

It is a strange omission, probably the result of the urban base of the writers, the tendency to imitate foreign histories with their focus on industrialisation and their lack of interest in the economy. . . 

Farmer is game for a challenge – Colin Williscroft:

Two-time women’s Rugby World Cup winner Bex Mahoney is these days putting her energy into running a Tararua farming business with her husband Luke but she’s also breaking new ground on the rugby field. There are synergies between the two, as Colin Williscroft reports.

Bex Mahoney likes to challenge herself to have a go at different things because that gives her an edge.

Is a simple philosophy but one that has paid off for the Pahiatua farmer. 

Only the fourth New Zealander to have played 50 first class games of rugby and gone on to referee 50 first class games, both men’s and women’s, the mother of two young girls spends much of her time getting her hands dirty on-farm while also exploring new farming opportunities online and on the phone.  . . 

Farmstrong hits 5th birthday:

Rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong is celebrating its fifth birthday.

More than 18,000 Kiwi farmers and growers have engaged in the last year alone. 

Farmstrong helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming by sharing things farmers can do to look after themselves and the people in their business.

It offers practical tools and resources through its website, workshops and community events, inviting farmers to find out what works for them and lock it in. Farmers using good techniques to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy are regularly featured in stories in Farmers Weekly.  . . 

Queens Birthday honours: cattle breeder Bruce McKenzie:

Bruce McKenzie is proud of his Queen’s Birthday Honour, even though rumour has it, he thought it was a joke at first.

The Wairarapa beef breeder was awarded Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the cattle industry.

“It’s a great honour to receive this. I think agriculture is going to be a part of the future in New Zealand and I feel very proud to have this honour” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . .

Research finds sheep eyes are the window to their stressed out souls :

Kiwi researchers have found the temperature of a sheep’s eye is linked to the animal’s level of stress.

Thermal imaging technology is being used by AgResearch scientists to gain greater insights into how livestock experience stress, and how that knowledge can help enhance animal welfare.

Research in which the technology is focused on sheep has been published today in the PLOS ONE scientific journal, entitled “Evaluation of infrared thermography as a non-invasive method of measuring the autonomic nervous response in sheep“. . . 

Partners in agritech innovation – Niall Casey:

While it may sound like a cliché to say that Ireland and New Zealand both punch above their weights, it’s clear from the figures that it’s true.

Ireland, a country of less than 5 million people produces enough food to feed over 50 million people, while NZ’s agri-food is known across the world for its food – with its dairy farming passing $15b in export earnings annually.

Both countries are united by their shared commitment to quality, traceability and the highest standards in production and safety.


Rural round-up

February 22, 2020

Workshops to build strong work places – Annette Scott:

Free workshops on building great workplaces are rolling out around the country this week.

The workshops, facilitated by the Dairy Women’s Network, are structured to help build great workplaces on dairy farms.    

Chief executive Jules Benton said the interactive workshops understand how valuable it is for dairy farmers, their teams and their communities to flourish in a positive, supportive environment. . . 

Kiwis hit home at agritech expo – Richard Rennie:

One of the agritech sector’s international leading lights in venture financing has given New Zealand an unequivocal thumbs-up for its ability to punch above its weight in the competitive global scene.

Addressing delegates at the EvokeAg agritech expo in Melbourne, Silicon Valley investment and tech firm SVG Ventures founder John Harnett said he is seeing more NZ agritech start-ups meeting farmers on the ground and integrating well with them to find solutions to their problems.

He also urged Australian counterparts to move further afield in the way NZ, Israel and Irish agritech entrepreneurs have done. . . 

Aussie farmer’s heartfelt message for drought-stricken Kiwis :

A photo shared on The Country’s Facebook page showing severe drought in the Waikato region has struck a chord with one Australian farmer.

After seeing NIWA weather forecaster Chris Brandolino’s post, which featured Sarah Fraser’s sobering image of parched fields, Cindy Bruce left a heartfelt message of support for her Kiwi counterparts.

Bruce, who runs a beef and wheat farm in Central inland Queensland, said the drought had so far cost her over $100k in feed and lost cows and calves, along with a failed wheat crop “which ironically, provided feed for the cows in October”. . . 

Drought’s mixed effects on sectors :

Prolonged dry weather will have mixed effects on commodity prices, says ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny.

For dairy, the drought will put upward pressure on prices as milk production will fall.

“Currently, we forecast 2019-20 production to be flat on 2018-19, but we are reviewing this forecast next week,” says Penny.

Meat changes coming – report – Pam Tipa:

New ideas of what equates to ‘premium’ in red meat are expected to change significantly in coming years, according to a new report from Beef+Lamb (B+LNZ). The traditional characteristics of premium today are marbling and exotic provenance such as Japanese Wagyu, which has been stable for some time.

So says the report called ‘Shaping the future of New Zealand’s Red Meat Sector’ released late last year.

Consumption of acorns by finishing Iberian pigs and their function in the conservation of the Dehesa agroecosystem – Vicente Rodríguez-Estévez*,
Manuel Sánchez-Rodríguez, Cristina Arce, Antón R. García, José M. Perea and A. Gustavo Gómez-Castro :

1. Introduction
The dehesa is an ancient agrosilvopastoral system created by farmers to raise livestock, mainly on private lands. This system is highly appreciated by society and enjoys legal
protection of the authorities because it is rich in biodiversity, a home to critically endangered species (Iberian lynx, imperial eagle and black vulture); a significant carbon
sink; ethnologically and anthropologically valuable (culture and traditions); and is known for its scenic value. The dehesa also underpins rural development and is valuable for, inter
alia, ecotourism and rural tourism; hunting and shooting; fire prevention; wood and charcoal; and for fodder (grass and acorns). However, most of these values do not produce
any benefit to farmers and they do not receive any kind of support from these contributions.

The dehesa is both a resilient and a fragile system; its resilience derives from the perseverance of its operators, and its fragility is its susceptibility to unfavourable economic
factors that influence its profitability (Siebold, 2009). . .


PM too busy for The Country

January 30, 2020

Jamie Mackay, host of The Country, (formerly known as The Farming Show) has interviewed leaders of the National and Labour parties every week for years, with one exception.

That exception was then-Labour leader David Cunliffe who declined the opportunity because he thought he wouldn’t get a fair hearing.

There’s now a second exception, one of Cunliffe’s successors, Jacinda Ardern who has said she’ll now only be doing a monthly slot.

The Country is the most expensive advertising hour on radio which indicates the size of its audience.

The show goes nationwide, with a sizeable number of urban listeners and it’s a must-listen for most rural people.

Interviews with party leaders are almost always pre-recorded at a time that’s convenient to them and last about five minutes.

What does it say about a PM who doesn’t have a very few minutes to spare for an audience that big?

People wanting to listen to interviews with the PM will no doubt be able to find others but the ones on The Country deal with rural issues in a way others don’t.

If she’s not available for weekly interviews on The Country she’s not interested in talking to country people.


Rural round-up

October 29, 2019

How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke says her community is under threat if the government’s Essential Water policy passes into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . .

Farmers only lukewarm on plan :

Farmer and new Environment Canterbury councillor Ian Mackenzie is cautious in his enthusiasm for the Government’s about-turn on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a world-first government-industry partnership the Government has backed down on taxing farmers and brokered a deal with the agricultural sector to manage and mitigate on-farm emissions.

It will avoid farmers being included in the ETS if they can commit to a new sector-led plan.

“Clearly, this is good news but it doesn’t necessarily send me skipping across the spring green paddocks with joy,” Mackenzie, an Ashburton cropping and livestock farmer, said. He was also Federated Farmers environment spokesman and a member of the Land and Water Forum. . .

MIA big guns next up in China – Alan Williams:

It follows a successful visit by a smaller technical team in late September that made clear NZ’s keenness to partner with the Chinese industry to help modernise and improve supply chain systems, including cold store infrastructure, the association’s trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva said. . .

 

Synlait Milk buys Canterbury’s Dairyworks :

Synlait Milk is buying Canterbury’s Dairyworks for $112 million as part of its push into the consumer market.

The speciality milk producer said Dairyworks was a good fit for its everyday dairy strategy, and complemented the recent purchase of cheese manufacturer Talbot Forest.

Dairyworks supplied New Zealand with almost half of its cheese, a quarter of its butter, as well as milk powder and Deep South ice-cream. . .

90-year-old Northland Kiwifruit farmer feeding the world – Susan Botting:

Northland grower Zela Charlton, 90, enjoys feeding the world from her Glenbervie kiwifruit orchard.

“My reward is feeding the people of the world. Even if it’s a bit of a luxury, kiwifruit is a very nourishing food,” Charlton said.

The nonagenarian loves kiwifruit – both green and gold.

“You can’t imagine what a perfectly ripe kiwifruit taken straight off the vine tastes like – it’s out of this world.” . . 

Win for prime agrcultural land – Mitchel Clapham:

NSW Farmers has lobbied long and hard to protect our prime agricultural land and water resources in the face of increased mining and CSG activity.

On May 1, 2012, NSW Farmers spearheaded the ‘Protect our Land and Water Rally’ in Macquarie Street, joining with many other organisations like the CWA to galvanise support for local food and fibre production.

In response, the state government developed a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and Gateway process, which was supposed to map and protect Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL), which comprises only 3 per cent of NSW. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 23, 2019

Todd Muller: This Government thinks farming is ‘yesterday’s industry’ :

Todd Muller says the current Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand’s economy.

National’s primary industries spokesman told The Country’s Jamie Mackay that this philosphy “runs deep” within the Labour Party, saying Helen Clark once described agribusiness as “a sunset industry” when she was Prime Minister.

“They have a philosophical view the primary industries, somehow, are not part of New Zealand’s future and I totally reject that view. I always have. I think food and fibre are going to be critical for New Zealand in the future”. . . 

(You’ll find a link to the interview if you click on the headline above).

Regenerative Farming: Can meat save the planet? – Bonnie Flaws:

Grazing animals are vital to addressing the climate crisis. Blink. Yep, you read that right. 

Cows, sheep, bison, even pigs, goats and chickens are part of the solution, not the enemy.

But ever since the 2006 UN report on livestock that blamed meat production for contributing to climate change, it’s been taking some flack.

However, a growing body of research shows that livestock, managed properly, help build organic matter and store carbon in the soil which is the second largest carbon sink after our oceans, according to the European Environment Agency. . . 

 

Understanding business empowers busy farmer – Sally Rae:

Jess Lamb loves being busy.

That is just as well, given the amount of things going on in her life, whether it is farming, children, part-time work as a beauty therapist or her involvement with the local fire brigade.

Mrs Lamb farms with her husband Greg in the Wendon Valley, near Gore, where their children Stevie (6) and Mac (5) are sixth-generation on the land.

She recently completed the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Understanding Your Farming Business programme, which aimed to equip and support women with the knowledge, skills and confidence to lift the performance and profitability of their farming business. . . 

Roadshows define agtech strategy – Colin Williscroft:

Farmers are being encouraged to have their say on the types of technology that will be of most benefit to the primary sector.

The Agritech Strategy Roadshow is travelling around the country seeking feedback to help identify key priority areas for Government action to support the sector.

Agritech New Zealand is partnering with several government agencies to develop a range of industry-led initiatives and actions to help the agricultural technology sector, lift export earnings and provide more innovation.  . .

Vegan food’s sustainability needs to give the full picture

The IPCC special report, Climate Change and Land, released last night, has found a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the “land”: largely farming, food production, land clearing and deforestation.

Sustainable farming is a major focus of the report, as plants and soil can potentially hold huge amounts of carbon. But it’s incredibly difficult as a consumer to work out the overall footprint of individual products, because they don’t take these considerations into account.

Two vegan brands have published reports on the environmental footprint of their burgers. Impossible Foods claims its burger requires 87% less water and 96% less land, and produces 89% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than a beef version. Additionally, it would contribute 92% less aquatic pollutants.

Similarly, Beyond Meat claims its burger requires 99% less water, 93% less land, 90% fewer greenhouse emissions and 46% less energy than a beef burger.

But these results have focused on areas where vegan products perform well, and do not account for soil carbon or potential deforestation. This might change the picture. . .

Red meat and the environment: the facts:

Red meat is not only important for a balanced diet – it has an important role in balanced, natural farming, too.

There is a lot of talk at the moment about sustainable food and the impact eating red meat has on the environment.

We’ve teamed up with the Meat Advisory Panel to provide some useful, fact-based messages to help you have positive, engaging conversations about agriculture, red meat and the environment.

Without livestock, the landscape would change significantly, as we reported in the Landscapes without Livestock project.

This visualised the impacts of a reduction in beef and sheep farming on some of England’s most cherished landscapes over a 30-year period. You can explore one example with the image slider above. . . 


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.

No automatic alt text available.

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).

No automatic alt text available.

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. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 28, 2017

NZ primary sector commentators argue for genetic modification –  Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand could not pretend to be an agricultural Silicon Valley if it did not embrace genetic modification, farming leader Malcolm Bailey has said.

“It would be Silicon Valley without the silicon,” he told the Future Farms conference being held in Palmerston North.

Bailey, who is chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and former Federated Farmers president, said there were a number of different types of GM. He was not advocating the use of transgenics, where genes from a plant are mixed with those from an animal. . .

Elite soils sprouting houses – Bernard Orsman:

Pukekohe market gardeners, the Bhana family, live in a rural zone but across the road houses are sprouting up on a paddock they were cropping potatoes two years ago.

In the past 10 years, about 16 per cent of Pukekohe’s dark brown, volcanic soil has been taken over for houses, and more is under threat from the city’s new planning rulebook.

More than 5000 new houses are in the pipeline in Pukekohe and neighbouring Paerata – and another 9000 are planned in the two areas over the next decade.

“We are genuinely worried the elite soils are getting eaten up for housing,” says Bharat Bhana, whose family have been growing vegetables in Pukekohe since 1957. . . 

Dam water would be useful in an emergency – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I am a sheep and beef farmer and was on the farm on Monday the 13th just gone.

When Jamie Mackay of The Country radio show rang me at midday for our regular chat on farming in Hawke’s Bay and wanted to talk about the drought I told him and his listeners that we had a far more pressing situation to discuss.

I spoke that in 33 years of farming I had never been more alarmed at the risk of fire. Conditions out on my farm and elsewhere were terrifying.

The wind was blowing around 100km. It was hot. Very hot, over 30 degrees. Humidity was very low with the air flow coming across from a scorching and dry Australia. And there was plenty of fuel on ground and dry scrub and trees. I said folk needed to take great care not to use machinery or anything that could cause sparks. . . 

Special gene makes heat-resistant cows – Alexa Cook:

A New Zealand company has produced a new breed of dairy cow which can keep producing decent amounts of milk in hot and humid conditions.

Most cows struggle to maintain milk production if they are under stress from heat. The “Slick” gene bulls are believed to be the first type of dairy bull in New Zealand to pass on heat tolerance to their daughters.

The bulls are named Slick Pathos, Slick Eros and his brother, Slick Himeros, after the Greek gods of love and sexual desire. Their genetics have been 10 years in the making.

New Zealand company Dairy Solutionz and STGenetics launched their Kiwipole breed in the US at the Tulare World Ag Expo. . . 

Living Water and Fonterra Farmers help give more Kiwi a safe haven:

Two more kiwi have found a safe haven in Northland thanks,in part, to a group of Fonterra farmers and Fonterra’s Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation. 

The two birds, Geoff and Charlie, were transferred from Limestone Island near Whangarei to the Tanekaha Community Pest Control Area last weekend to join 12 others released there about a year ago.

Fonterra farmers have worked for years to rid stoats and other predators from the area, work that has been part-funded in over the past two years by the Living Water partnership. . . 

Fonterra’s Australian Business is on Track And Investing for the Future:

Fonterra’s Australian business is in good shape and performing well, says Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker.

The Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd announced its half-year results for its global operations, posting a NZD$418 million net profit after tax, up two per cent.

Fonterra Australia has contributed to this overall result which René says comes on the back of “all the hard work with our turnaround, making sure we’re focussing on areas where we have a clear advantage.

“We had to make tough decisions with our transformation. Our three businesses are now delivering good results for us, although there are headwinds ahead,” René says. . . 

 


Where even the PM gets a bargain

December 12, 2016

It’s official: the National Party caucus has voted for Bill English to succeed John Key as leader and Paula Bennett to be his deputy:

Today I have been elected Leader of the National Party and will become New Zealand’s 39th Prime Minister. I am both excited and humbled by this opportunity.

I’m also proud to have Paula Bennett as Deputy Leader. She’s a smart, accomplished and energetic woman and is National’s first ever female deputy leader.

Later today, we will head up to Government House to be sworn into our new roles by the Governor-General.

As Prime Minister, I will be committed to building a New Zealand which rewards hard work and enterprise and which cares for our most vulnerable. I recognise the aspiration of all New Zealanders to flourish and this Government will continue working hard to help them do so.

I would like to thank the outgoing Prime Minister for his dedicated and outstanding service to this country. His intelligence, optimism and integrity as Leader of the National Party and Prime Minister means he will be judged by history as one of New Zealand’s greatest leaders.

It’s fantastic to lead a strong unified team of MPs bursting with ideas about how we can make New Zealand an even better place to live, work and bring up families and we will work hard to do just that.

The new PM and deputy will be sworn in this afternoon.

Jamie Mackay was one of the first to interview him. On The Country today Jamie asked Bill to give a recent example of being a man of the people.

Bill said that he was on the way to Saturday’s night boxing match with his father-in-law and son when he realised he’d forgotten to bring black shoes.

There are very few options for shoe-buying on Saturday evening so Bill called in to a Warehouse to buy new footwear.

Its advertising does say where everyone gets a bargain, it can now boast that it’s where even  the PM gets a bargain.

The interview will be here later.


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