Rural round-up

April 14, 2020

Winter is coming – Tom Hunter:

Rabobank provides a regular newsletter to its farming clients and the latest one makes for grim reading.

They’re forecasting a milk payout next season (20/21) of $5.60 per kg. Currently it’s at $7+.

Ouch.

The farmers I talk to don’t accept Rabobank’s analysis. Yet. And Fonterra, Open Country and other dairy companies are still optimistic that next season’s payout will still be well north of $6, even at not at this season’s level. The trouble is that their forecasts have often missed the big swings, notably the $4.30 payout of 2014/15, which came so rapidly after the record $8.40 payout, and I don’t have much confidence in Fonterra in general. . . .

Farmers: “cool” not to be unique. When they started farm environmental improvements, couple were unique – but not any more:

Eastern Southland dairy farmers Chris and Lynsey Stratford fielded a lot of questions on the environmental improvements being made when the property they manage was converted from sheep farming 10 years ago.

“Initially there was a lot of interest from other farmers,” Lynsey said.  “We were unique at the beginning – but not now…and that’s cool.”

That was in Southland – and Lynsey believes there’s been a much greater national understanding by farmers of action leading to big impacts on the environment over the last 10-20 years. . .

 

New Zealand onion growers celebrate multimillion-dollar export success in Indonesia:

New Zealand onion growers are celebrating being able to export their world class crop to Indonesia again.

‘Indonesia has just re-opened its market to New Zealand onions after some clarification was required for the new import rules,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘This follows months of negotiations, but with the support of key figures such as Director General Horticulture, Indonesia, Prihasto Setyanto and the Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, the regulations have been clarified and exports have resumed.’ . .

Sheep conference going ahead via virtual technology :

The stage is set for an international sheep conference, thanks to virtual technology.

Called Head Shepherd, the event on April 16 has been organised by neXtgen Agri, whose team usually spent most of its days visiting clients and assisting with breeding programmes both in Australia and New Zealand.

It had come to a “screaming halt” with the Covid-19 lockdown and the team was now providing that support via video and phone calls, founder and agricultural geneticist Dr Mark Ferguson said. . . 

Straight off the tussock, farming at Okuku Pass – Tim Fulton:

Jack’s mother Winifred knew the Latin name for every plant in the garden but Bill Blain did most of the work. Bill came out to New Zealand from London in 1882 on the same ship as the English cricket team, who were heading to Australia for the first ever Ashes series.

He had been working in the tramway stables in London, where at one stage he had been in charge of feeding about 7000 horses, but came out because of his lungs were crook. Despite his apparent poor health, Bill’s first big job in New Zealand was draining the Coldstream swamp for John Macfarlane – and then working a paddock for him at Loburn. He also drove traction engines, and apparently went to the Boer War as a fully qualified steam engine driver – but he had a long, narrow trenching spade which he prized for the rest of his life.

He worked for both the Macfarlanes and Fultons from the moment he arrived in New Zealand. He was with us at Broomfield and then went into a boarding house in Rangiora. . .

Primary sector needs more govt support:

The Government needs to urgently engage with the meat industry to look at ways to allow increased productivity over coming weeks, otherwise there will be a significant animal and farmer welfare issue, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“While farmers are an essential business, they are still experiencing significant disruption from COVID-19 and are grappling with the ongoing effects of drought.

“Meat processing plants are an essential service and have taken the appropriate steps to enact social distancing and other precautions for staff, but this has also led to productivity constraints.

“Meat Industry Association Chairman Tim Ritchie told the Epidemic Response Committee there was 75 per cent less venison being processed, 50 per cent less sheep meat and 30 per cent less beef. . . 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2020

Parker’s readiness to relax the RMA rules should be extended to freshwater constraints on farmers – Point of Order:

Environment  Minister   David  Parker  has directed  officials to find ways  to fast-track consents  for infrastructure and  development  projects. He says   his  goal  is to  help create a pipeline of projects  so that some can  start immediately once  Covid-19 restrictions  are  lifted “so people can get back into work as fast as possible”.

Parker sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact on almost every part of  the economy for some time.

He recognises many New Zealanders have lost their jobs, or may do so in coming months, and many businesses are doing it hard. . .

Pork Industry leaders continue talks with government over surplus problem

Government officials and pork industry leaders have met again today via conference call to try and resolve concerns about a looming animal welfare crisis facing the sector.

As RNZ reported during the week, the pork industry has been getting increasingly worried about the growing number of surplus pigs on farms that cannot be sent to independent butchers. It has been urging the government to help.

Last night, the government decided butchers will be allowed to process pork, but only to supply supermarkets or retailers that are allowed to open.  . .

Milk tankers get clear run – Annette Scott:

The day of a milk tanker driver is different under covid-19 but without the traffic jams and roadworks it’s a lot easier.

Fonterra lower North Island depot manager Paul Phipps said being an essential service means milk is still being collected and processed and collection volumes are not wildly different to previous seasons.

That’s also considering this season’s challenges that have included a significant drought in the North and flooding in the South.

“Being an essential service means we are busy. We take our status as an essential service very seriously. . . 

New Zealand’s apple and pear harvest continues under strict rules:

Like many other horticulture sectors, the 2020 harvest of New Zealand’s apple, pear and nashi crop is well underway, with more than 14,000 workers harvesting around 600,000 tonnes of fruit destined for domestic and global consumers, and for processing.

The government has deemed the production and processing of food and beverages as an essential service, which means that the picking, packing and shipping of fruit can continue but with very strict protocols in place.

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc chief executive Alan Pollard says that the industry understands and acknowledges the privileged position it is in, particularly when other businesses cannot operate.   

Straight Off The Tussock chapter 3 – Tim Fulton:

A continuation of a family story, as first told in 2005 – Straight off the Tussock

James Fulton, Jack’s grandfather, was a teacher on the Isle of Bute, half an hour by ferry from Glasgow. The island is only about eight by four miles wide but when he was headmaster there at Rothesay in about 1845, the school had around 1000 children, stuck out in the Firth of Clyde.

  In 1847, James was appointed director of Edinburgh’s historic Moray House, Scotland’s first teachers’ college and the first in the world to train women. A year later, the institution took a dramatic turn when it mounted a rebellion against the Church of Scotland. Moray House – now part of the University of Edinburgh – started in 1618 and it became a training college in 1813, when the Church of Scotland established a sessional school in the city. In 1835, that school became the Edinburgh Normal and Sessional School. In 1843, however, the disruption of the churches led to the foundation of The Free Church Normal and Sessional School nearby, while the Church of Scotland continued separately. In 1848, one year after James moved there, pupils and teachers of the Sessional School carried their desks down the Royal Mile to the new premises at Moray House. . . 

Food waste costs agriculture billions – Kim Chappell:

THIRTY ONE per cent of produce is being wasted before it even gets off farm – that’s lost income for farmers and lost product for supermarket shelves.

But the $1.1 billion to $2b wastage doesn’t have to be this way – there are gains that can be made to boost farmers’ returns per hectare which will in-turn boost the product hitting supermarkets and reduce waste.

In these times of high-demand as people panic-buy on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the solutions are already coming into play by necessity, in what is possibly the only silver lining to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, says Food Innovation Australia Limited special adviser Mark Barthel, one of the voices behind the Roadmap for reducing Australia’s food waste by half by 2030 . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 14, 2020

Time for Trans-Tasman agritech co-operation? – Pam Tipa:

Should New Zealand and Australia be working more closely together in the agritech space to present a regional offer to the world?

Callaghan Innovation’s agritech group manager, Simon Yarrow certainly thinks so.

It could be similar to the way the Scandinavians have established a regional reputation in other fields. . . 

Bloody Good Boss workshops being run throughout New Zealand:

How to be a bloody good boss workshops are being run throughout New Zealand by the Dairy Women’s Network.

Delivered in conjunction with DairyNZ, PaySauce and Primary ITO, these four hour information workshops will cover the whole recruitment process.

The five employment pillars of skills needed on farm, recruitment, the interview process, contracts and orientation will be discussed in these sessions designed to support the Good Boss campaign that was launched last month in Wellington. . .

Turning rhetoric into reality – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth analyses the points made at this year’s Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre workshop.

The Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre (FLRC) workshop held at Massey University each February starts the year with a hiss, roar, new research and the latest from overseas.

The three-day workshop is one of the places where scientists, researchers, rural professionals, farmers and national and local policy makers can engage in rigorous debate. . .

‘Bringing Brand New Zealand Home’ At AgriFood Week 2020:

New Zealand AgriFood Week is enlisting several international thought-leaders to address the Week’s 2020 theme, ‘bringing brand New Zealand home.’

The week-long series of events, workshops and forums across the Manawatū covers the intersection between agriculture, science, food and technology and runs from March 16 to 22.

Adding international perspective to some of New Zealand’s biggest agri-food challenges is Dr Jessica de Koning, a rural sociologist from Wageningen University speaking on strengthening rural communities in the face of regulatory and environmental challenges. . .

Straight Off The Tussock chapter 2 – Tim Fulton:

HARD LESSONS

The Okuku Range is a cluster of hills 900m-1100m high, rising from the northern limit of  the Canterbury Plains and treading north-westwards to meet the foothills of the Puketekari Range. Jack grew up in the Okuku Pass which runs between it. 

I used to walk down to the White Rock limeworks to talk to the people over there or the men on the station, but I suppose I was a lonely kid in a lot of ways. I’d sit on the tractor with our neighbour Harry Gudex – helping with the farmwork. Used to go there for mercy every now and again. I was a loner but I enjoyed the men – seemed to get on with them and they didn’t seem to worry too much what I did.

For six weeks each summer from 1932 to 1934, we went to a holiday house at Leithfield Beach. But it was an awful place, with no conveniences whatsoever – an outside loo, kerosene lamps and primus cooker. I was absolutely infuriated with this – couldn’t stand the salt water or the sea, and I was a permanent pest there… perennially in trouble. Whenever we were there I couldn’t get back to the shearing quick enough. I loved it in the shed – flat out with the men – cutting dags off wool, whatever I could find. . .

Kiwifruit hold golden glow:

With the new season’s SunGold kiwifruit licensing tender due to open next month, expectations are that orchardist interest in the 750ha area being made available will be at least as strong as last year.

Last year’s SunGold allocation of planting rights averaged $290,000 a hectare, with a number of orchardists missing out on their desired allocation simply due to over demand for the popular planting option.

Snow Williams, Bayleys specialist rural and kiwifruit agent based in Te Puke says he would not be surprised to see the licence values at least match or even exceed last year’s values. . .


Rural round-up

March 13, 2020

The challenge for NZ food production is keeping up with the science while Fonterra restores its financial health – Point of Order:

Technology  is  opening  a  whole  new direction for  food production, reports  The  Guardian.

Robotics   and drones are reducing   the need for humans to be on the  land,  while  vertical  farming,  in which  vegetables  can be grown in sunless  warehouses using  LED  lighting, gene editing and metagenics are delivering new definitions of  food.

According to a  recent  report  by the think tank  RethinkX, within  15  years  the rise of  cell-based meat – made  of animal cells  grown in a bioreactor – will bankrupt  the US’s  huge  beef industry,  at the same time  removing the  need to grow soya  and maize  for   feed. . . 

Can new crops crack down on cow methane? Meet the scientists finding out – Alex Braae:

The debate about methane emissions from farming is both ongoing and polarising, and many are pinning their hopes on scientific advances to avoid both de-stocking and climate breakdown. But how effective can these measures actually be? Alex Braae visited a research lab on the front lines of this fight. 

At a sprawling campus on the outskirts of Palmerston North, research is taking place that could shape the future of New Zealand’s rural economy. 

It is here that the grasslands facility of crown research entity AgResearch is based. And it is here where one of the most important scientific questions in the country is being thrashed out – can science help meaningfully lower the methane emissions of cows and sheep?  . .

Wairarapa ‘heading into a drought’ – Fed Farmers – Marcus Anselm:

Wairarapa farmers are seeking central government backing as the threat of a drought moves closer.

Dry conditions in neighbouring Manawatū and Tararua and other nearby areas have led to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor confirming a “medium sized adverse event” for the regions.

“Many parts of the country are doing it tough due to a substantial lack of rain,” O’Connor said. . .

Parched conditions in Hawke’s Bay hitting hard amid calls for drought declaration – Anusha Bradley:

Hawke’s Bay farmers and leaders are urging the government to declare a drought as parts of the region experience the driest period on record.

Central Hawke’s Bay and Hastings were the worst hit with farmers saying the lack of water had not only hit summer crops but winter feed was now at risk if it did not rain soon.

For some parts of Hawke’s Bay, the four months between November and February have been the driest in 50 years. . .

Drought for North Island, Chatham Islands, part of South unlocks $2m relief funding :

The entire North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands have been declared as being in drought by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

O’Connor said the large-scale adverse event declaration, announced this morning, would unlock up to $2 million of funding to help farmers and growers from now until June 2021.

Medium-scale drought declarations had already been announced in Northland, Auckland and Waikato, Gisborne, Manawatū, Rangitīkei, and Tararua – but this new classification covers the entire North Island along with Tasman, Marlborough, Kaikōura, North Canterbury and the Chathams. . .

Moves to make horticultural water available to Kaikohe residents – Susan Botting

Far North District Council is aiming to tap into new government-funded Kaikohe water storage to permanently supply the mid-north town.

Far North District Council (FNDC) mayor John Carter said the council had already been working with Government and Northland Regional Council (NRC) on using the water from storage to be built in the North through the region’s $30 million Provincial Growth Fund project.

Carter said FNDC wanted to set up a scheme like had been developed for Kerikeri in the 1980s. This had been developed with the dual purpose to permanently provide water for horticulture and Kerikeri township. . .

Straight Off The Tussock chapter 1 – Tim Fulton:

Broomfield in North Canterbury was a quiet pond, but Jack was the stone that skipped across it.

 I was constantly in trouble. My father Gordon was away most of the time, always busy, so I rarely saw him.

And my mother Winifred, well, she was 45 when I was born and totally incapable of looking after children, so during the day I was usually left to my own devices. One of the first things I did on the farm was paint one of our white calves red with house paint. I’d noticed how the calves got marked at certain times of the season so I painted the whole calf. Terrible job they had getting the paint off…nearly killed it. Another time, father had shorn about 20 wethers ready to go to market. Back in the 1920s you had to brand your sheep for shearing, but he’d left these ones alone because they were going to be sold about three weeks later. I decided they hadn’t been branded properly so I got the dog and away I went; mustered them into the top paddock, down the road into the yards, into the front pen of the shearing shed and proceeded to brand them. As far as I could tell there wasn’t a space left on them untouched. Well, that was the last time I was in the pen with a branding iron. Father was so ashamed of the sheep he kept them stuck out of sight in the paddock until they were ready to shear again. I could have only been three or four…

After the bushfires, what now? – Roger Franklin:

The usual controversy about fuel reduction burning in forested parks and reserves has erupted in the wake of the “Black Summer Bushfires” (as they have become known) in NSW, Qld and Victoria. Predictably, two broad camps formed up on opposite sides of the blackened and shrivelled no-man’s land that, until a few months ago, had been beautiful eucalypt forests and havens for wildlife.

On one side are the land and bushfire managers, land owners and volunteer firefighters, people who deal with fire in the real world. They are all calling for more prescribed burning, knowing that it will  mitigate bushfire intensity, making fires easier and safer to control.  Loud in opposition are the green academics and environmentalists, usually supported by the ABC, claiming that fuel reduction does not work, and even if it did, this would be a pyrrhic victory, because the burning would have destroyed our fragile biodiversity. . . 

Meat and dairy sales surge in December quarter:

Meat and dairy boosted the total volume of manufacturing sales to its strongest quarterly rise in six years, Stats NZ said today.

The volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.7 percent in the December 2019 quarter, after a flat September 2019 quarter, when adjusted for seasonal effects. It was led by a 7.9 percent lift in meat and dairy products manufacturing sales, following falls in the two previous quarters.

“This quarter’s rise is the largest increase in total manufacturing sales volumes in six years,” business statistics manager Geraldine Duoba said. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 5, 2020

Tears for a life’s work – Tim Fulton:

Farming with Mycoplasma bovis is an alien experience, one full of officials and strangers in full-length protective jumpsuits washing down yards and troughs, for the Wobben family. Tim Fulton reports.

Despite being a hard-nosed man with a bent for confrontation Roel Wobben is crying for his cows.

The family will lose their 2700 cows and have already lost nearly as many young stock and bulls to a Mycoplasma bovis cull.

They milk through two sheds on their irrigated 710ha North Canterbury farm, doing about 500kg MS a cow and calving twice a year. There’s also a second 285ha farm nearby milking 900 cows, run by a contract milker. . . 

Open Farm day draws 5,500 visitors:

Over 5500 people spent the day on farms around the country on Sunday.

45 farmers opened their gates to visitors on Sunday for New Zealand’s inaugural nationwide open farm day.

Farms of all types and sizes participated: from high-country sheep stations in Otago to dairy farms in the Waikato and even an indoor, vertical microgreens producer in Wellington.

A wide range of activities were on offer for visitors, says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb. . .

Shearer is up for a challenge :

Colin Watson-Paul shore sheep for 30 years. 

Now he trains others, including seven women who recently learned to shear to raise funds for Farmstrong.

He says he got a real buzz out of teaching the novice shearers.

“Shearing’s easier said than done but they can all shear a sheep now. There’s been a lot of humour. They’re a great bunch of women, who will have you in stitches. Now when they go out they talk about sheep shearing, believe it or not.” . . 

New Zealand grass-fed butter in Whole Foods first:

Premium butter produced by Lewis Road Creamery has become the first New Zealand dairy product to be stocked US-wide by American supermarket giant Whole Foods.

The New Zealand grass-fed butter is now on Whole Foods shelves in 37 states, including in flagship stores in Union Square, New York, and Austin, Texas.

The butter is made from milk that meets a stringent 10 Star Premium Standard that covers grass-fed, free-range, animal welfare, human welfare, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation. . . 

Bega value-add strategy helps combat drought impact – Carelene Dowie:

Bega’s milk intake has fallen 13 per cent on the back of drought and increased competition for milk supply, hitting the company’s earnings.

But the half-year statutory profit of NSW-based dairy and grocery business lifted 3.5pc to $8.5 million, due to growth in its branded consumer and food-service business.

The company also pointed to improved performance at the former Murray Goulburn Koroit, Vic, milk-processing plant, which it acquired last year, the improvement in milk returns following the closure of its Coburg, Vic, factory and new toll-processing arrangements as contributing positively to the result. . . 

Farmers angry after senior government adviser says UK could import all food ‘like Singapore’ – Greg Heffer:

The UK has a “moral imperative” to produce its own food, the chief of the farmers’ union has said after it emerged a senior government adviser argued Britain could import all produce.

Minette Batters, the president of the National Union of Farmers, hit back at suggestions the UK could copy nations such as Singapore and import all its food.

In emails obtained by The Mail On Sunday, Dr Tim Leunig – an economic adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak – wrote that the food sector “isn’t critically important” to the UK and farming and fishing “certainly isn’t”. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 12, 2020

New risks for dairy, meat products – Sally Rae:

The sun is setting on the “golden run” for New Zealand’s food exports.

While the global supply of dairy and meat products was expected to remain constrained, new global risks were now impacting demand, ANZ Research’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Lamb prices had dropped sharply in the past couple of months but were still at record levels for this time of the season.

A lift in slaughter numbers, weaker prices in certain markets and a slightly stronger New Zealand dollar were the main drivers in the reduction in farm-gate price, the report said. . . 

Dry conditions and fires making life hard for Rangitikei farmers :

Local farmers are struggling to re-home livestock with fires and dry conditions engulfing several hectares of land, Rangitikei’s mayor says.

A fire spanning around 80 hectares near Lake Alice was reported on Saturday, and contained today, but by Sunday evening fire-fighters wre still trying to put it out.

Two helicopters and nine fire trucks were at the scene today dampening hot spots and monitoring for any flare ups.

Fire and emergency says crews were able to contain the blaze faster thanks to help from the public. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to ask for help :

Authorities are concerned that some flood-affected farmers in Southland are not asking for help.

Emergency Management Southland (EMS) controller Bruce Halligan says this is despite a huge effort to talk to Southland farmers affected by last week’s flooding.

“We are concerned that some farmers who may have already been contacted, and said they were coping, will need help as they assess the damage to their properties and begin to realise the amount of work and resource required.”   . . 

Nelson’s prospects rise on new dam’s development – Tim Fulton:

Horticulture is set to grow in Nelson as the clock ticks down on a long-awaited dam in Lee Valley.

The Waimea Community Dam, due to be commissioned in February 2022, will release stored water from the headwaters of Lee River to the Waimea Plains. It’s set to be a boon for pipfruit, which already generates high returns from a scarce supply of flat land in the region.

Waimea Irrigators Ltd (WIL) chairman, Murray King, is one of just two dairy farmers in the planned irrigation zone.  . . 

Proposed Oceania pipeline draws irrigators’ ire – Daniel Birchfield:

A North Otago-based irrigators’ collective has slammed Oceania Dairy Ltd’s proposed pipeline project in a submission to Environment Canterbury against its construction.

Oceania Dairy, owned by Chinese dairy giant Yili group, lodged six consent applications with Environment Canterbury for the construction of a 7.5km pipeline that would allow it to discharge up to 10,000cum of treated wastewater into the sea per day.

Waitaki Irrigators Collective Ltd filed one of 117 submissions opposed to the project. Six submitters supported it, and three were neutral. . . 

Medigrowth NZ plan Central Otago medicinal cannabis business:

A Central Otago-based company is forging ahead with plans to develop a medicinal cannabis cultivation, research and manufacturing business in the heart of wine country.

Medigrowth New Zealand, based in Cromwell, plans to provide pure and safe New Zealand-grown cannabinoid medicines to a market that recent research shows is “crying out” for alternatives to existing pain medications.

Queenstown businessman Aaron Murphy has been joined by Medigrowth Australia directors Todd McClellan and Adam Guskich in the New Zealand venture. . . 


Rural round-up

October 28, 2019

‘We have not suddenly woken up’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

For dairy farmer Peter Dobbie, learning about what affects his farm’s environment and how to remedy or improve it has been a continually evolving journey that has taken almost three decades.

”We have not suddenly woken up and realised we need to do this or that,” he said.

He has been farming since 1991, and was a financial consultant before that.

By 2001 he had moved to dairying in partnership with his brother William. . .

Helping farmers make green dough – Tim Fulton:

A team of agricultural innovators wants to help farmers take clever ideas to market across at least 100,000ha of mixed Kiwi farmland. Tim Fultonreports.

The self-described social enterprise-plus, Leftfield Innovation, is helping farmers explore alternative land uses and contracts.

Funding the enterprise mostly from trust grants, processing companies, farmers and science funds the co-founders Nick Pyke and Susan Goodfellow and four colleagues are exploring commercial opportunities for farmers to convert low-yield farmland to grow high-yield crops. . . .

Gas calculator gets support – Samantha Tennent:

With data scientists and software developers at their disposal Jo Kerslake and Mark Teviotdale from AbacusBio are keen to help farmers understand their on-farm emissions.

When Kerslake heard the call for projects from the Rural Innovation Lab she applied without a clear picture of what an end product could look like.

“We were a little unsure about what farmers wanted to know,” she said. . .

New Zealand’s wallaby problem tough to tackle, fears hunters spreading them – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s wallaby problem could become a full-blown plague unless efforts to control them are ramped up and ‘shortsighted’ hunters start playing by the rules.

Forest and Bird says the pests could spread to cover a third of the country unless the Government steps in to fund a beefed-up control programme.

Central North Island regional manager Rebecca Stirnemann said wallabies were like giant rabbits, eating their way through native bush, damaging tussock grasslands and devouring pasture and young pine trees. . .

Record cattle kill at Pukeuri :

The Pukeuri meat works near Oamaru processed a record number of cattle in the past season.

The Alliance Group announced the achievement for its North Otago plant on Wednesday, saying more than 71,000 cattle were handled there in the beef season that finished on September 30.

The record was the result of hard work and commitment from staff and from farmers who supported the co-operative, chief executive David Surveyor said. . . .

Potential shake-up of GE restrictions – Pam Tipa:

Current restrictions on genetic modification regulation in New Zealand could be reviewed if National were to form the next government.

The party says it will be ready to go out and consult on a proposed review of the legislation and our current regulations if elected.

National leader Simon Bridges says if NZ is serious about tackling climate change that will require biotech answers.  . .


Rural round-up

October 25, 2019

Leader has passion for deer industry – Sally Rae:

Deer Industry New Zealand’s new chief executive Innes Moffat is well versed in the industry.

He has been with the organisation for 14 years and replaces Dan Coup, who is now chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

During his first week in the new role, Mr Moffat said he was conscious his knowledge of the industry and its people was a strength and he could provide continuity as he stepped up to lead the organisation. . . .

Cut nitrates make money – TIm Fulton:

Catch crops and oats don’t usually figure highly in a dairy farmer’s plans but that might change as new nutrient management regulations come into force. Tim Fulton reports.

Clinging to the northern bank of the Rakaia River the last of three Canterbury catch crop trials for this season is growing on a Te Pirita dairy winter forage block that forms part of a three-year Sustainable Farming Fund project to show the benefit of catch crops to reduce nitrate leaching. . .

Shearer aims for world record – Alexa Johnston:

Nine hours of “heart and concentration” is ahead of Alexandra-based shearer Stacey Te Huia, as he attempts to break a world record.

Te Huia aims to claim the 9-hour merino wethers record on December 7, in a shearing shed near Ranfurly.

The record is one of the longest-standing in the books, held by Rakaia shearer Grant Smith, who shore 418 sheep within the allocated time in November 1999. . . .

Nuts? Research says ‘significant’ potential for Rotorua nut crops – Samantha Olley:

Could nuts be the next big thing for Rotorua? It is an idea that has been described by researchers as “radical” – and one that could bring millions of dollars to the region. There is 5000ha of land in the district suitable for growing nut crops and three farms are investigating how it could work for them. Journalist Samantha Olley looks into how nut crops could benefit Rotorua economically, what it would take to get the idea off the ground – and how they could improve the district’s environment.

An idea to bring new edible nut crops to Rotorua is capturing wide interest and could bring at least $20 million a year into the district.

Newly published Crown research says there is “significant” potential for industrial edible tree nut crops in the Rotorua area – but it will require “radical” collaboration. . .

Scholarships address need for farming and horticulture apprentices:

Primary ITO is responding to the urgent need for skilled workers in agriculture and horticulture by launching a scholarship programme for apprentice fees.

Applications for the scholarships are open for October and November and will cover fees for the whole duration of the apprenticeship programmes, which generally take 2-3 years.

“Our industries are facing unprecedented challenges right now and we believe scholarships for apprentices will help business gain the skills they need,” says Primary ITO’s incoming chief executive Nigel Philpott. . .

 

National Farmers Federated to mobilise support for expansion of ag – Mervyn F Bendle:

Finally! The National Farmers Federation has announced that it will implement a long-term public relations campaign to mobilise public and political support for a major expansion of the agricultural industry in Australia and combat the zealotry of animal rights activists and green extremists.

Such a response is well overdue. As I discussed over six years ago in a Quadrant Online article, Australia faces an epoch-defining challenge. With the global population projected to exceed nine billion people by 2050 our country is well placed to become a major food supplier to the world, doubling — even quadrupling — agricultural production, and generating an additional $1.7 trillion in aggregate export earnings over the next four decades. Estimates vary, but global food supply will have to increase by between 60 per cent and 100 per cent by 2050 to satisfy requirements. This is not idle musing: hundreds of millions of people will starve if the global food supply is not greatly increased. . .


Rural round-up

September 5, 2019

Time for a grownup conversation about gene-editing – David Hughes:

 In the late 1990s public scepticism cast genetic modification as “The answer to the question no-one was asking”. Today, the new technology of gene editing is emerging as a real option in facing some of our world’s biggest challenges in food production, medicine, conservation and climate change.

The Institute I lead, Plant & Food Research, has committed our science to helping New Zealand’s agri-food sector deliver the best quality foods from the world’s most sustainable production systems. We believe gene editing can help us meet that commitment. 

Today, Plant & Food Research breeds only 100 per cent GM-free fruit, vegetables and grains. We have never developed GM foods for commercial use and industry does not fund us to do so. Yet our discovery-focused teams routinely use gene technologies to further our knowledge. 

They’ve learned that gene editing can help us achieve our traditional breeding targets around sustainability and nutrition much faster. That means consumers get more healthy whole foods sooner.  . . 

Trees debate ratchets up – Colin Williscroft:

Large swathes of agricultural land need not be planted in trees for New Zealand to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets, NZ’s largest carbon farmer says.

In presenting NZ Carbon Farming’s submission to the Environment Select Committee on the Zero Carbon Bill, company founder and managing director Matt Walsh was questioned by MPs who said they had been told by officials that 30% of NZ’s agricultural land will need to be planted in trees to meet the Bill’s carbon dioxide emissions target of zero by 2050.

Walsh said he has heard the 30% figure before and is puzzled where it came from. He does not believe it is correct.

NZ Carbon Farming has asked officials how they got the number but has not had a definitive answer. . . 

Shear happiness for young women – Yvonne O’Hara:

”Shearing is an art.”

So says Ariana Te Whata, of Mossburn, who was taking part with three other young women in a course run by Elite Shearer Training on the Dowling family’s farm near Gimmerburn last week.

Three of the women, Tatjiana Keefe, of Raupunga, Cheyenne Howden, of Feilding, and Ariana work for Dion Morrell Shearing. They all intend to go shearing full time.

Ariana grew up in a shearing shed and her parents, Vanessa and Mana Te Whata, are shearing contractors and run Shear Tech. Mr Te Whata is a champion competitive shearer.

”I love shearing,” Ariana said.

”I love the art of it and it is beautiful to watch. . . 

Promoting eucalypts– David HIll:

Gary Fleming’s efforts to advocate for the value of eucalyptus trees has been recognised.

The North Canterbury farmer was named South Island Farm Forester of the Year at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association conference held in Rotorua.

‘‘It’s a good award to get, as it takes a fair bit of dedication,’’ Mr Fleming said.

‘‘There’s a lot of people in the South Island who grow trees and anybody in farm forestry can apply for it.’’

The North Canterbury branch chairman was nominated by his branch committee earlier this year, after missing a meeting due to illness. . . 

Food tourism helps farmers survive – Tim Fulton:

A group of Queensland farmers is making the most of food tourism, proving town and country can work in harness for culinary satisfaction.

Maleny calls itself a hinterland town though, by Australian standards, it’s only a skip from the big smoke.

Perched on the Blackall Range, about 40 minutes from Sunshine Coast beaches, the area catches day trippers on Queensland’s hinterland tourist drive. . . 

 

Love lamb week to encourage better use of carcase :

Yorkshire farmer’s daughter and Great British Menu chef Stephanie Moon is calling on chefs to make better use of the lamb carcase as the country prepares for Love Lamb Week.

The annual campaign, commencing from the 1st of September to the 7th, aims to change perceptions of when to eat lamb.

It highlights that the highest volume of UK product is actually available during the last six months of the year, despite many consumers typically choosing to enjoy lamb around Easter time.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) will be involved in the industry-wide campaign, alongside AHDB Beef & Lamb and other UK levy bodies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 1, 2019

Spring venison spike back – Annette Scott:

The return of the spring peak in venison prices is not expected to reach the unprecedented highs of last year.

Deer farmers are starting to see a return of the seasonal venison price increase that traditionally occurs each spring, Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Dan Coup says. 

It follows an unusual 2017-18 season when venison prices climbed steadily from January 2017 before peaking in October last year. 

The return of the spring peak doesn’t come as a surprise but Coup hopes the peaks and troughs in the seasonal price curve will be less marked than in the past.  . . 

Chasing the rainbow – Tim Fulton:

He can play it for laughs and he can play it serious. There’s a discerning side to social media star farmer Tangaroa Walker. Tim Fulton reports.

Media sensation Tangaroa Walker has X-factor in spades and he wants to use it to lift other farmers out of the mire.

Walker has a virtual arena for the job, his vividly upbeat and out-there Facebook page, Farm 4 Life.

He is a contract milker on a 550-cow farm at Invercargill.

The page is a funny but sometimes poignant look at the industry’s challenges. . .

Crown to net $5 million from Westland Milk sale – Eric Frykberg:

The profit made by the country’s largest farmer from the sale of its shares in Westland Milk Products, will disappear into government coffers via a special dividend.

Pāmu, or Landcorp, owns 10 farms supplying to Westland and is its second-largest shareholder.

Earlier this month Westland’s 350 farmer shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of selling Westland to China’s Yili dairy conglomerate at a rate of $3.41 per share.

This will net the Crown $5m from a sale that ministers always strongly opposed.

The payment of the dividend is being made despite the fact that overall, state-owned Pāmu suffered a big loss. . . 

Important to choose right crop for right animals on right land – Yvonne O’Hara:

Sediment traps, back fencing, portable water troughs and buffer zones are some of the key elements of good winter grazing practices that Wilden sheep and beef farmers Simon O’Meara, and Peter Adam, recommend.

By careful management, both farmers ensure their sheep and cattle are well fed and as sheltered and comfortable as possible during winter break feeding and adverse weather events.

At the same time, by using the same principles, they can also reduce nitrate and sediment loss and enhance water quality on their properties. . . 

Women in wool take on shearing challenge – Linda Hall:

THE ACRYLIC nails are gone, so has the nail polish, their high heels replaced with moccasins.

They don’t meet for coffee on a Saturday morning, instead this group of amazing women dressed in black head to a woolshed ready for some hard yakka.

Every Saturday since March this group of professional women have been training hard. They call themselves Women in Wool and their goal is to raise as much money as possible for Farmstrong — a nationwide rural wellbeing programme for farmers and growers to help them live well to farm well. . . 

Kea playground to be installed – Kerrie Waterworth:

Complaints of missing gloves, stolen food and shredded windscreen wipers at Treble Cone skifield could soon be a thing of the past when a new kea playground is installed.

The familiar mountain parrot has been a regular visitor to Wanaka’s closest skifield for many years, attracted primarily by the prospect of food scraps.

Treble Cone brand manager Richard Birkby said despite erecting signs and staff educating guests about the thieving habits of kea, the skifield still received regular complaints about kea knocking over mugs, flying off with trays of chips and destroying gloves.

Health and safety officer Jessica Griffin said the idea for the kea playground at Treble Cone skifield was prompted by the kea gyms in Nelson and at the Homer Tunnel and Manapouri power station at West Arm, established primarily to keep kea away from roads and damaging cars. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2019

Big tick for farmers – Neal Wallace:

The red meat industry hopes to ramp up its Taste Pure Nature brand campaign on the back of the latest international climate change report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is being welcomed by New Zealand farming leaders as an endorsement of our low impact systems and the importance of maintaining food production.

The IPCC says land on which we rely for food, water, energy, health and wellbeing is already under pressure and climate change will exacerbate that through desertification . . .

OAD milking offers labour solution – Peter Burke:

Once-a-day (OAD) milking could open a whole new labour market for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ Wairarapa Tararua consulting officer Gray Beagley.

He says OAD farmers can choose what time they milk, so a later milking time may attract workers who find early mornings hard, and people getting young children off to school. About 9% of dairy herds nationwide are on full season OAD, but Beagley says this is just an average.

In Northland about 25% of all herds are OAD. This variation is partly, but not exclusively, due to the weather.  . .

The father and son shearing duo who both have world titles :

Sir David Fagan is known as the best shearer in the country, with over 600 wins, a number of world records and many world titles. 

His 27-year-old son Jack has just touched down in the country after winning the World Shearing Championships Speed Shear in France. 

The father and son duo have not only competed head to head in the shearing sheds, but they also own a dairy farm together.  . . .

First time dairy farmers take the plunge – Gerard Hutching:

“To buy or not to buy” – that’s the question on dairy farmers’ minds as they weigh up whether now is the right time to invest in some rural real estate.

Milk prices are up, land values are flat or falling, cow prices trending down, interest rates low and Fonterra shares in decline – all ingredients for dipping a toe into ownership.

“There’s a lot of opportunity out there. We looked at over 20 farms and we became pretty good at doing budgets quickly to figure out if a farm could work with the budget we had. We put offers on a few of farms which weren’t accepted, before finding the Tirau farm where our offer was accepted through the tender process,” Mark and Cathy Nicholas say. . .

Kellys keep balance and belief – Tim Fulton:

Even if locusts land on their post-earthquake property the Kelly family will be ready. Tim Fulton reports.

Rebekah and Dave Kelly have an eye for the upside.

In November 2016 the hill country farmers lost most of the infrastructure on their 2000ha North Canterbury property to the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake.

Half a hillside slipped into the Leader River, creating a dam the family christened Lake Rebekah. . .

Walking the talk for safe farming through spring:

With spring just around the corner, farmers will be spending more time out on the farm preparing for the new season’s jobs.

Lambing and calving, tailing and docking, lice treatments, vaccinations, BVD testing for bulls, drenching young heifers, spreading fertiliser and preparing for shearing make it an incredibly busy time.

“Many of these jobs require close contact with animals, including lifting, chemical use and using heavy machinery,” says Mark Harris, Beef + Lamb New Zealand lead extension manager. . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2019

Can we make stone soup for rural wellbeing? – Michelle Stevens:

Executive Summary

The fable of Stone Soup tells the tale of a weary stranger arriving at a village. He convinces the villagers to each contribute an ingredient in order to make a meal for everyone to enjoy. The weary stranger elaborately makes use of a simple stone as the key ingredient, to start creating the soup, as a catalyst for the village coming together. As the stranger leaves, the villagers plead for the soup recipe. It is at this point the stranger reveals they have always had the recipe. Simply put, it took each of them making a small contribution which ultimately provided a significant result.

The moral of the story is that there is value in collaboration to achieve a better outcome. The question is – can we make Stone Soup for Rural Wellbeing? Mental health and wellbeing is a wicked problem for New Zealand. This report serves to explore if there is sufficient interest within the agricultural sector to pursue a working arrangement, commercial interest’s aside, in collaborating for the betterment of rural wellbeing. . . 

Zero Carbon Bill targets ‘unachievable’ – retiring National MP :

Outgoing National MP Nathan Guy says the public and government have got quite a way to go to see what shape or form the Zero Carbon Bill ends up in.

Ōtaki MP and opposition agriculture spokesperson Mr Guy told Morning Report the Zero Carbon Bill targets were “too extreme”.

“That methane target range from 24 to 47 percent is unachievable. It’s going to take some magic to get there,” he said.

“Yes, we need to do our part” but it slows down the economy. . . 

Plan threatens lowland farms – Tim Fulton:

A Canterbury farmer is quitting a top land and water post, fearing lowland agriculture is being regulated out of existence.

Rangiora dairy farmer and farm management consultant Dave Ashby is chairman of the Waimakariri zone committee, which recommended policy to Environment Canterbury for a local land and water plan change. The proposed plan change 7 is now up for public submissions. 

Ashby is meantime stepping down as zone committee chairman.

“I need to concentrate on my farm and business. Over 80 meetings and workshops over two years is a large commitment and it’s now time to stick to the knitting,” he said.

He will remain on the zone committee at this stage but is very concerned about the direction the plan is taking. . . 

Central Otago rural midwife crisis worsens

The Government must step up and help the Southern District Health Board as Central Otago’s chronic midwife shortage worsens, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“The board is struggling to fill staffing gaps, with a shortage of relief midwifes affecting Charlotte Jean Maternity, in Alexandra, midwives in Wanaka and the Lakes District Hospital Maternity Unit, in Queenstown.

“I understand board staff are currently working day to day to ensure rosters are filled and that they are really struggling to find staff across the region. . .

Feds scorn firearms register

The practicality and cost of a firearms register will be a waste of money and resources, Federated Farmers says.

The second tranche of proposed Arms Act amendments features a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing, some of which beg serious questioning. Federated Farmers rural security spokesman Miles Anderson said.

Feds has previously opposed the compulsory registration of all firearms based on the complexity and cost of the process, questionable safety benefits and the likelihood of success.

“We haven’t had a firearms register in New Zealand for almost 40 years.

“The successful re-establishment of one now would require a considerable investment, both economically and socially,” Anderson said. . . 

Grass fed beef can help SOLVE climate change – Dawn Gifford:

150 years ago, much of the Midwest was still covered with chest-deep prairie grassland, providing valuable food and habitat for billions of plant and animal species, including millions of elk, bison and deer. These lands also supported natural environmental processes like carbon sequestration and seasonal flood control.

When Americans first settled the Midwestern prairies, they killed off the natural bison and other ruminants that lived there and began to farm highly fertile, virgin soil that was about 10 percent organic matter. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2019

Leading the world and saving it, too – but let’s brace for a drop in our standard of living (and wellbeing) – Point of Order:

So  how  “transformational”  will  the   zero  carbon  legislation  prove to be?

Many  New Zealanders  have come to believe  global  warming  poses  a  real danger  to  their lives – but will the new legislation remove, or even lessen, the danger?

Under the legislation, agriculture   for the first time is brought into the emissions trading  scheme.  That’s won  support from Green lobbyists, but many  say it’s too little, too late –  “a  weak-ass  carbon  reform”.

On  the  other side,  the  criticism is  just as pointed.  There are  no tools to  measure  on-farm emissions and what  the  government proposes   could   shrivel  NZ’s growth rate  by  up to  $50bn   a year. . . .

Planting a billion trees by 2028:

What’s not to love about a billion trees?

Plenty, if you farm in rural New Zealand. For a start, trees require land.

And it’s the fear that farmland will be turned into pine forest that has some worried about the government’s ambitious target of getting a billion trees in the ground by 2028. . . .

Warning of green desert of trees – Tim Fulton:

Incentives for tree-planting credit schemes could create a great, green desert of radiata pine and trample native bush, officials have heard.

The Government proposes taxing farm livestock emissions and fertiliser emissions from 2025.

A Primary Industries Ministry public consultation meeting in Christchurch debated the policy linked to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), a closed, government-managed carbon credit market that’s changing agricultural land use. . . 

Small gains mount up – Colin Williscroft:

Taking small but simple steps on farms can help cut greenhouse gas emissions without biting too deeply into the bottom line, Tirau farmer Adrian Ball says.

With Parliament’s Environment Select Committee hearing views on the viability and fairness of agricultural greenhouse gas reduction targets in the Zero Carbon Bill and debate building on how best to move towards on-farm emission charging, what’s been missed is the work already done by farmers.

However, Ball and others are making incremental changes to reduce their emissions while keeping their eye on the bottom line. . .

Reduction of Johne’s disease possible – Sally Rae:

A case study involving Otago-based DRL Ltd has demonstrated that effective reduction in the prevalence of Johne’s disease is possible for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The study has been completed, in collaboration with Temuka veterinarian Andrew Bates, and a paper accepted for publication in the journal BMC Veterinary Research.

It described the control of Johne’s disease – a chronic wasting disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis – on a large South Canterbury dairy farm with an ongoing Johne’s problem. The farmer was culling between 80 and 100 cows a year on the 1200-cow farm. . . .

Outlook remains for sheepmeat producers -Sally Rae:

Sheepmeat prices are expected to stay at elevated levels over the remainder of this season and into the next, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

Pricing levels out to the end of the season in October were expected to be at least as high as the mid $8 mark per kg seen last year and there could even be some “upside potential” on top of that.

Sheep meat supply from both New Zealand and Australia – the key exporters of sheepmeat to international markets – was expected to remain tight over the coming year.

New Zealand had limited capacity to lift domestic production, given where ewe numbers were at. . .

Women of the Irish food industry- Susanna Crampton, farmer and educator  – Katia Valadeau:

I first met Suzanna Crampton, at her farm, in leafy Kilkenny, a couple of years ago.  She was one of the first small food producers I visited when I started branching out from recipes. She welcomed me at her home and I was lucky enough to meet Bodacious, the wonderful Cat Shepherd and Ovenmitt, the cuddliest cat I’ve ever met. I wrote all about my visit to the zwartbles farm at the time. The hour at Suzanna’s kitchen table is an hour I often think about when I try to explain why I’m so passionate about small food producers in Ireland. 

I am still just learning about the many aspects of life of a farm, the sacrifices, the hard work, the rewards and the glorious food. The conversations I had that day with Julie of Highbank Orchardsand with Suzanna Crampton have stayed with me and I think of them as the true start of my education in all things Irish food. Before, food writing was a hobby. It has since become a full blown passion and has gone into all sorts of directions.  . .

 


Rural round-up

July 21, 2019

Meeting the gas challenge – Tim Fulton:

New legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will hit farmers in the pocket. Tim Fulton reports.

Waikato farmer George Moss, who operates two dairy farms, believes running a small business can be just as difficult when meeting environmental targets as large scale farming.

Moss and wife Sharon operate two small dairy farms at Tokoroa in south Waikato. One is 72ha milking 180 Friesians and the other is 67ha milking 175 crossbreds. They also own an adjoining 40ha drystock block. . .

Fonterra co-op leader Miles Hurrell – we can turn this around – Jamie Gray:

Nearly a year into his job as chief executive of Fonterra, Miles Hurrell is a man on a very public mission.

Since late last year, the co-op has been pulling out all the stops to streamline itself, improve earnings and trim debt.

There has been no shortage of criticism and there’s a lot at stake. The livelihoods of about 10,000 farmer-shareholders depend on it, and Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest exporter by far.

Stung by the co-op’s first-ever loss last year, Hurrell’s job is to turn around the supertanker that is Fonterra. . .

Berry farm gets government help to expand hydroponic operation – Esther Taunton:

A $2.37 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund will allow a Northland company to expand its hydroponic berry-growing operation, creating dozens of new jobs in the process. 

However, not everyone is happy about the arrangement, with the Taxpayers’ Union saying Maungatapere Berries should have got a bank loan.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the partnership on Friday, saying it would allow the Whangarei-based business to add four hectares of berries to its existing operation. . .

Fingerprinting food :

AgResearch is finding new uses for a machine that uncovers the unique fingerprint of food.

The Crown agency’s lab at Lincoln is using a mass spectrometer to quickly analyse the interaction of genes and the environment.

In a sign of technology advances in the field, work that previously took over an hour can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine.

It will open up new opportunities for food science and industry, AgResearch senior research scientist Dr Alastair Ross, who leads the metabolomics platform, says. . .

Handpicked is judges’ top pick

Meat co-op Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has won international honours in the World Steak Challenge for the second year running.

Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef, which combines selection for exceptional quality and marbling with extensive wet ageing, took out a gold medal for ribeye and a bronze medal for fillet at the event in Dublin, Ireland, on July 10.

The latest honours repeat the premium product’s success at last year’s contest, which helps benchmark the quality of beef production against global competitors. There were more than 300 entries from 25 countries in the competition. . . 

A 20% drop in methane emissions would cause global cooling, says expert – Lauren Dean:

A leading environmental professor has said farming can become completely ‘climate neutral’ if agricultural methane emissions are reduced by just 20 per cent over the next 30 years. . . 

Myles Allen, a professor from the University of Oxford, who has served on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claimed this kind of gentle reduction in methane emissions would be enough to fully compensate for the warming impact of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from agriculture.

Farmers have already been cutting methane emissions by 10 per cent every 30 years, through measures such as better slurry storage and application. . .

Ongoing stable methane emissions from cattle doesn’t change the climate – Alan Lauder:

Could it be that a lot of cattle producers world-wide are being unfairly blamed for progressing climate change because of the methane released by their cattle? Going one step further, in this contributed article Alan Lauder, long-time grazier and author of the book Carbon Grazing – The Missing Link,  suggests that the methane emissions of the Australian sheep and cattle industry are not changing the climate, because they have been stable since the 1970’s.

WE have to ask the question, is the current way of comparing methane and carbon dioxide, using the Global Warming Potential (GWP) approach, the best way to assess the outcome of the methane produced by ruminant animals like sheep and cattle?

I raise the point, keeping in mind that the debate is about “climate change”. We keep hearing the comment that we have to limit “change” to two degrees.

I am not suggesting that the science the IPCC and the world is relying on is wrong, but maybe it is worth having another look at how we are interpreting it in the area of ruminant animals. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 13, 2019

AFB spread prompts burning of hives – Laura Smith:

Watching bees burn would have to be one of the most difficult things a beekeeper could do – it is also an experience more Southland apiarists will have to face.

It is the consequence of the spread of destructive bee-killing disease American foulbrood (AFB).

Southland commercial beekeeper Geoff Scott said ignorance was a major contributor to the disease spreading.

”And we’re doing it – it’s us beekeepers doing it.” . .

Hinewai revival worth every cent – Tim Fulton:

Hinewai Reserve was once dismissed as a fantasy of fools and dreamers. 

Now, as the 1250ha native sanctuary on Banks Peninsula flourishes it has about $1m of carbon credits plus income from a walking track and public donations.

But Hugh Wilson’s neighbours let rip when his plans for Hinewai Reserve became clear. . .

Possum is scourge of farm and forest: – Nick Hancox:

Managing disease in farmed cattle and deer is one stream of the TBfree programme’s work. It underpins the value and reputation of the meat and milk New Zealand exports.

The other essential work the programme manages is possum control — taking and keeping numbers down at a level where disease can’t keep cycling in wildlife.

That possum control work has two big benefits for New Zealand: eradicating bovine TB to protect the primary sector while supporting the goals of the predator-free movement.
The TBfree programme managed by OSPRI aligns with programmes designed to protect and defend New Zealand’s biodiversity and environmental health, such as the Department of Conservation’s Battle for Our Birds and Predator Free 2050. . .

Ploughman straight on to Minnesota – Chris Tobin:

”You don’t go to the Olympic Games and wear someone else’s track shoes and you don’t go to a Formula race in someone else’s car.”

Champion ploughman Bob Mehrtens is explaining his approach to the upcoming world ploughing championships at Baudette, Minnesota.

After placing eighth in Germany last year and second in Kenya in the reversible section of the world championships, he is aiming for gold this time round in the United States. . .

Avocado prices plunge as new season starts – Esther Taunton:

Avocado fans, rejoice – you can now buy two for less than the cost of a flat white.

Supplies of the popular toast topping have surged and those who have struggled through the avo off-season can again feast on the fruit.

On Thursday avocados were were selling for $2.70 each or two for $5 at Countdown supermarkets around the country. . .

Boarding school allowances – rural families deserve better – Ann Thompson:

The cost of sending children to boarding school is placing a big burden on rural employees, and it’s well past time a change was made to make the boarding allowance system fairer, writes Federated Farmers policy adviser Ann Thompson.

Over the past few years Federated Farmers has made requests to both the National and Labour-led governments to increase the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance.

This allowance is provided for pupils who live so far away from school that boarding school is the only realistic option.

As at June 2019, the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance was $3200 per annum while the Multiple Barriers Boarding Allowance was $7500 (plus $500 for pastoral care). . .


Rural round-up

July 3, 2019

Snowstorm inspires stock-saver – Tim Fulton:

A shattering snowstorm changed David Brown’s life and inspired a life-saving product.

The founder of the Woolover started out as a sheep and cropping farmer at Clandeboye in South Canterbury, near the Fonterra milk factory. 

Running 3500 ewes he had lost his fair share of new-born lambs over a couple of decades, especially in three-day southerly storms. . . 

Iwi milk plant delivers value – Richard Rennie:

The skyline of the small Bay of Plenty town Kawerau has been dominated for the past 40 years by the big Tasman paper mill but now has another profile in the form of the new Waiu Dairy plant.

The joint iwi-Cedenco plant has been commissioned and its first commercial milk collection this week will be processed through the 900kg-an-hour drier.

Waiu chairman Richard Jones said the plant is the result of a bar-side conversation in 2012 with iwi business representatives when they were kicking around options for revitalising eastern Bay of Plenty. . . 

 

One Plan changes should bring relief to nearly 180 unconsented farmers – Jono Galuszka:

Nearly 180 farms in the wider Manawatū are operating without a consent and cannot get one without changes to contentious planning rules.

But even if the changes are made, the region’s economy is expected to lose tens of millions of dollars.

Horizons Regional Council is putting proposed changes to its One Plan out for consultation, with people having 60 days from July 22 to make a submission. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk expanding plant near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

Infant nutrition formula producer Mataura Valley Milk has begun work on a $5m expansion to its plant at McNab near Gore, less than a year since it began operations.

General manager Bernard May said the company had secured a 37 per cent increase in milk supply for the coming season and needed to expand the plant.

New silos would be constructed and a new tanker bay were included in the expansion, and there was the possibility of more jobs being created. . . 

Application to import wilding conifer herbicide :

Views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Your views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has applied for approval to import the herbicide. . .

Agri-tech sector to pioneer govt industry transformation strategy Pattrick Smellie

(BusinessDesk) – Agricultural technology should be one of New Zealand’s leading sources of high-value jobs, exports and improved farming practice, but has failed to grow much in the last decade, prompting the government to make it the focus of the first of four new industry sector transformation plans.

In what was probably his last public act as Economic Development Minister before handing the portfolio to Phil Twyford after last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, Parker released both a general guide to the industry transformation plan concept and a draft ITP for the agri-tech sector this morning.

The other sectors targeted for such plans are food and beverages, digital technology, and forestry and wood processing.

Speeding breeding and other ways of feeding 10 billion people

Improvements to make crops more nutritious, disease resistant and climate smart are essential to feed a burgeoning world population.

While a host of fascinating innovations are primed to change the face of agriculture, there remains a stubborn limiting factor for plant breeding.

This is the long generation times of crops that allow only one or two generations per year. Unless this changes it is unlikely that we will be able to feed the 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet by 2050.

This roadblock to progress has been alleviated by speed breeding protocols developed by research teams at the John Innes Centre and the University of Queensland. . .


Rural round-up

May 21, 2019

Farmers are right to ask questions – Bryan Gibson:

Last week Regional Development Minister Shane Jones called farmers a bunch of moaners for voicing concerns about the billion trees policy and the Zero Carbon Bill.

We’ll put aside the fact that it’s not a great way to engage with a large and important constituency for now. But Jones must realise his policies have consequences that are going to alter rural New Zealand forever.

In last week’s editorial I urged farmers to get on board with the Zero Carbon Bill as a concept because it provides a path to sustainability and can ensure our customers continue to be happy to hear our farming story. That means they’ll also be happy to keep buying our food. The details of it, which are not yet set in stone, can be challenged but the concept is sound. . .

Merit award acknowledges shepherd’s class:

Nic Blanchard’s happy place is running around the hills with her team of dogs.

Ms Blanchard is a shepherd at Long Gully Station, at Tarras, where she also classes the property’s hogget clip.

Earlier this month, her classing prowess was acknowledged when she was presented with a merit award for the mid micron category at the New Zealand Wool Classers Association’s annual awards.

It was PGG Wrightson Wool Central Otago representative Graeme Bell who thought the clip was worthy of nomination for the awards and put it forward. . .

Dairy can protect water gain – TIm Fulton:

Water carried Graeme Sutton’s forebears to a life of freedom in New Zealand and it keeps doing the same for them on land. Tim Fultonreports.

Five generations ago, in 1842 Graeme Sutton’s English family landed in Nelson. 

It was the start of a family partnership that has endured and expanded into several irrigated dairy ventures.

“The reason they came out, I understand, is that New Zealand gave them an opportunity for land ownership. They never had that in England. They just worked for a Lord,” Graeme says. . . .

Exciting journey to Grand Final – Sally Rae:

As Georgie Lindsay prepares for the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer Contest in July, she admits it had been an exciting yet unplanned journey.

Ms Lindsay (24) has been working as a shepherd in North Canterbury. When she “tagged along” with a couple of members of her local Young Farmers Club who were competing in the district final, she never dreamed she would reach the pinnacle of the event.

In the past, she had been playing a lot of sport and she never had a spare weekend to have a crack at the competition. This year was the first time that she could do it justice and she decided to give it a go. . .

Regional population surge puts pressure on rural GPs:

Medical practices around Northland are closing their doors to new patients – as they struggle with a shortage of GPs and a surge in population growth.

It’s a perfect storm of sorts – with many GPs reaching patient capacity just as a wave of retirees cash in on house prices in cities like Auckland – and move north.

In the Far North, medical centres in Kaitaia and Coopers Beach – a popular retirement location – are no longer accepting new patients, and in Whangarei, only two GP practices are taking new enrolments. . .

Warning predator free goal faces ‘conflicts’ and uncertainty – Kate

The goal of becoming predator free in 30 years could be hampered by conflicts, inadequate planning and uncertainty, a report warns

Predator Free 2050 aims for a coordinated, nationwide eradication of New Zealand’s most damaging introduced predators – rats, stoats and possums – compared to the current piecemeal controlling of limited areas.

A just released report from the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge looks at the predator free target as a large social movement, but said there were gaps that need to be addressed on social, cultural and ethical issues . .


Rural round-up

May 10, 2019

Trade water NZ Initiative says – Neal Wallace:

A trading scheme for water, similar to that for emissions, will improve water quality, the New Zealand Initiative says.

Its chief economist Eric Crampton’s report, Refreshing Water: valuing the priceless, advocates a cap and trade market system backed by hard-wired environmental constraints to manage and sustain freshwater resources.

A well-functioning system can ensure all users follow best practice but cannot choose between the merits of competing water and land uses. . .

Bid to assess ‘M. bovis’ scheme surge – Sally Rae:

An independent report has been commissioned into the cause and effects of the current surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme and to identify additional immediate improvements.

Last month, the Ministry for Primary Industries announced the programme was increasing activity before autumn and winter stock movements.

About 300 farmers would be contacted as a priority and it was expected 250 of those would have notice-of-direction movement controls placed on them immediately and, following testing, that 10% to 12% might become confirmed properties. . . 

 

Dairy can protect water gain – Tim Fulton:

Water carried Graeme Sutton’s forebears to a life of freedom in New Zealand and it keeps doing the same for them on land. Tim Fulton reports.

Five generations ago, in 1842 Graeme Sutton’s English family landed in Nelson. 

It was the start of a family partnership that has endured and expanded into several irrigated dairy ventures.

“The reason they came out, I understand, is that New Zealand gave them an opportunity for land ownership. They never had that in England. They just worked for a Lord,” Graeme says. . .

Giant new painting reflects Tauranga’s rich horticulture history :

New Zealand’s largest rural art collection that tells the stories of provincial communities has a giant new painting.

Award-winning artist Erika Pearce completed her striking mural on the side of Tauranga’s Farmlands store on Taurikura Drive off State Highway 36.

Pearce started work on April 28 and managed to finish by her May 4 deadline, despite the project being rained off earlier in the week.

The finished product is an impressive 23 metres long. . .

Southland TeenAg member puts love of tractors to work

Southland student Hamish Goatley is using his love of tractors and machinery to make hay while the sun shines.

The 18-year-old spent six weeks over the summer school holidays driving for an agricultural contractor.

“It was an amazing learning experience. I really enjoyed it. It was my first season operating a round baler,” said Goatley.

Goatley is the vice-chair of Gore High School’s thriving TeenAg club. . .

The erosion of trust in society’s food regulators – Scott McPherson:

In a twist of remarkable irony, the very agencies that were put in place to protect each nation’s food supply, health, and environment are now often viewed with suspicion. This follows an overall trend in where, in general, trust in the expertise of society’s authorities appears to be at an all-time low.

What psychology repeatedly tests as the most fearful, anxious, and worried generations in history did not happen by accident. World War II had developed in the previous generations a genuine sense that citizens were united in making society happen. The natural deterioration of that sense happened over time, to everyone except farmers. They still needed their neighbors.

By the 1980s, cities were getting so disconnected that impressionable parents were teaching their children the concept of stranger danger. Considering the fact that modern parents were taught as children that strangers were potentially lethal, today’s lack of trust makes more sense. . .


Fonterra has a heart

May 8, 2019

The world’s biggest dairy exporter shows  it has a big heart:

Fonterra’s milk tankers are Andrew Oliver’s favourite thing in the world and local tanker drivers have long known that Andrew won’t go to bed until they’ve been on the farm.

But when it became unmanageable for his 65-year-old parents, the world’s biggest dairy exporter stepped in to help.

They changed their milk tanker schedule in the entire district so that Andrew would go to bed on time.

Andrew Oliver is one of about eight people in the world living with Fryns-Aftimos syndrome – he’s the oldest known to have it and the only one in New Zealand with the condition.

The extremely rare syndrome is the result of a mutation in one of his chromosomes which means that, at 35 years old, he has the mental age of a 6-year-old and suffers many other symptoms.

For the past 15 years he’s had a special relationship with Fonterra tanker drivers.

Ken Oliver, his father, said Andy discovered the tanker when the farm went onto the night shift for milk pick up.

“[He] learned what it was, came out to see it occasionally and once in awhile would talk to a driver. But then with Andy, the normal thing is with something like this – it would become a habit. And so he had to be out to see the tanker. That became part of his nightly routine.”

Andy’s nightly routine consists of a list of things he has to tick off.

Every night he draws a picture to give to the tanker driver, he has to watch the weather report on the 6pm news, then he has dinner and a bath.

But the last thing to tick off – is the tanker.

Ken said that if the tanker hadn’t come, Andy wouldn’t go to bed. For him, waking up at 5am to tend the farm, it became a struggle.

“We simply didn’t know when the tanker was coming. You might get 2am in the morning or something like that and he wouldn’t go to bed until the tanker had come.”

For over a decade, Andrew’s parents managed his tanker visits until one day Ken says he came to a breaking point.

“Deirdre had just been diagnosed with having had a minor stroke, I was absolutely out on my feet trying to keep the farm going. Surviving on three or four hours sleep and I’d just run out. I’d hit the wall and so I phoned the call centre and actually started crying on the phone, I was just so shot.

“I just said look, my life has just become impossible and just explained what was going on. I need sleep and I can’t get sleep until this boy’s in bed.”

The person at the call centre decided to help. . .

The company changed its tanker schedule for the whole Te Rapa district so that Andy could go to bed on time.

Tanker drivers have also given Andrew a hi-vis Fonterra jacket and raised money to buy him a bike.

I’m delighted to be a shareholder in a company with employees who care.

UPDATE: TIm Fulton wrote about this in NZ Farmers Weekly several years ago.


Rural round-up

March 31, 2019

We cannot take food supply for granted – Neal Wallace:

News the Government will protect elite soils is welcome but by no means signals the resolution of broader challenges facing land use and the productive sector.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1As reported in Farmers Weekly’s Land Squeeze series, the Ministry for the Environment has started the process of preparing a national policy statement for high-value soils, which will be finalised after consultation later this year.

That protection is needed because urban sprawl and lifestyle blocks swallow up to 100,000 hectares a year including Auckland paving 10,500 hectares of high-quality soil in the last 35 years.

Domestic food demand will only increase as New Zealand’s population is expected to hit five million in 2020 and 5.5m in 2025 while demand will also rise from an ever-expanding global population. . . 

Spud family name’s on the packet – Tim Fulton:

James Bowan grows potatoes for a nationwide paddock-to-packet potato chip brand.  Nearly a decade after the business started he’s still happiest in the paddock. Tim Fulton reports.

The Bowan family farms more than 600ha at Orari in South Canterbury. Down the road at industrial Washdyke, in the slipstream of Timaru, the family also runs the Heartland chips processing plant.

Fallgate Farm includes 250-odd hectares of spuds, 320ha of combinable cereals,150ha of grass seed and a few other bits and pieces, especially seeds.

It adds up to a lot of business from farm to shop shelf but James isn’t bothered with the trappings of corporate hierarchy. . . 

Action groups following different paths – Sally Rae:

More than 900 farmers have signed up to the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network to help make their farming businesses more productive and profitable.

Each of the Action Groups involved chose a different pathway in the search for solutions to the challenges they faced.

Four action groups in the Milton and Lawrence districts had a lot in common, both in their origins and their goals.

They grew out of two large discussion groups of sheep and beef farmers running in these areas for several years before the RMPP programme kicked into action.

The common link between all four was Simon Glennie, a sheep, beef and deer farming consultant with AbacusBio. . . 

Fonterra’s new management team gives hope – Sudesh Kissun:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is happy to see Fonterra back in the black.

He hopes that changes heralded by the new management team signal the start of “some green shoots” for the co-op.

“As a Fonterra farmer I am happy to see that they have posted a net profit and I am happy with some of the rhetoric from board and management about the consolidation of the business,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Support for biosecurity levy:

A big majority of 1794 submissions received by DairyNZ on the biosecurity response levy were supportive.

Sixty-one percent of submissions from farmers backed DairyNZ managing the levy on their behalf and raising the maximum cap to 3.9 cents/kgMS. That totalled 1088 supportive submissions and 706 against.

“We appreciated the candid conversations and the opportunity to discuss not just the proposed levy, but also DairyNZ more widely,” DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says in a letter to farmers. . . 

Win proves area’s wine can age well: manager:

Wild Earth Wines’ success at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards earlier this month proves Central Otago wines can age gracefully, marketing and sales manager Elbert Jolink says.

The boutique winery in Cromwell won the Best Pinot Noir trophy of the show during the formal awards dinner in Auckland on March 9.

Mount Pisa winery Ata Mara won both a gold medal and the Red Badge Security Champion Riesling trophy for its Central Otago 2018 Riesling. . . 

 


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