Rural round-up

September 15, 2018

No I in Murphy – Robin gives back – Tim Fulton:

A career in dairying and the irrigation sector is only a start for Robin Murphy. The South Canterbury farmer gives heart and soul to his community. Tim Fulton reports.

On Sundays Robin and May Murphy used to travel the back tracks of Waimate District looking for seal and shingle in need of repair. 

Murphy was a local councillor so they figured they had to do their bit.

He reckons he got to know 95% of the roads. . .

Research will be first of its kind for NZ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Now results from the first cohort of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Beef Progeny Test have been released, researchers will begin collecting data for the next stages of the project, including data from cows and heifers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics national beef genetics manager Max Tweedie said some of those studies would be ‘‘a first for New Zealand’’.

‘‘Now we are looking for on-going information about cows: their maternal performance; constitution; fertility and stayability [in the herd],’’ Mr Tweedie said.

‘‘That is the long game.’’ . .

What is dairy cow breeding worth and why does it matter? – Esther Taunton:

It’s a hard road finding the perfect cow, especially when changing consumer demand redefines what “perfect” even is.

Increasing demand for high-fat dairy products means Kiwi farmers will earn more from milkfat than protein in the 2018/19 season.

With the upward trend expected to continue, high-fat breeds and animals will become more valuable as farmers aim to get as much fat in the vat as possible. 

But how does a farmer, let alone a townie, pick an animal likely to produce high-fat milk from a paddock full of swinging tails and stomping hooves? . .

Pie in the sky – Mel Poulton:

Farmers such as Mel Poulton struggle day in day out with poor digital connectivity and want service providers to up their game.

New technology, providing innovative solutions to the challenges and demands we all face today, is exciting.

We want to embrace it, adopt and adapt this technology to our needs. . .

Shot sheep mum too committed to die – George Block:

A sheep shot through the head near Dunedin has made a stunning recovery and continues to raise her three lambs.

Roy Nimmo awoke last week to find three of his lambs had been shot dead in a paddock near his home in Cemetery Rd, beside the East Taieri Church.

They were only 1 or 2 weeks old.

A ewe had also been shot, through the head just below its droopy ears, but had somehow survived, he said. . .

Final report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.69 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2017/18 dairy season. The report does not cover Fonterra’s forecast price of $6.75 for the 2018/19 dairy season.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said no issues had been raised in submissions to the Commission’s draft reportthat warranted a change in the conclusions.  . .

Winning with help from a mentor – Brenda Schoepp:

The editor at Country Guide asked, “After meeting someone who could be a potential mentor, what makes a farmer pursue a full mentorship? When do they make the decision, and why? What is the impact of the relationship for themselves and their business? How do we relate this to leadership?”

I didn’t have the answers so I went to 25 individuals who have experienced mentorship through their industry, business or education.

The questions I asked were:

  • How and why did you choose to contact a mentor? . .

Rural round-up

June 25, 2018

Mycoplasm bovis can transfer to sheep, goats, deer, pigs and poultry – Keith Woodford:

Currently, there is a fervent ‘behind-the-scenes’ debate as to whether eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is feasible.

It is well over a month, possibly close to two months, since the international Technical Advisory Group (TAG) voted six to four in favour of eradication being feasible. This would have been based on information supplied to them by MPI and assessed over a telephone hook-up. New evidence since then provides further complexity and concerns.

First, there is extensive evidence from overseas that Mycoplasma bovis can transfer between species and that it can infect sheep, goats, pigs, deer and even poultry. Strictly speaking, this is not new evidence as it was sitting there all along in the scientific literature and easily found. However, the implications of this within the New Zealand environment have not been considered to date. . .

A killer worse than M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

A cattle disease prevalent on 100% of New Zealand farms is much more serious than Mycoplasma bovis, a veterinarian says.

Lincoln University Dairy Farm veterinarian Chris Norton told farmers at a recent focus day there that though M. bovis dominates the news, another disease — Johne’s — affects more farms and kills more cattle.

Johne’s was discovered first in Taranaki 100 years ago in one cow, Norton said. . . 

DoC explains game export process – Tim Fulton:

Deer and other game animal products are getting a new export process and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is trying to ensure exports aren’t stopped at foreign ports because of it.

Japanese border authorities last month stopped a New Zealand velvet exporter’s shipment at an airport because they did not recognise DOC’s approach to certifying legally hunted and farmed game animals.

DOC has been issuing certificates of export for deer, tahr and chamois products.

A new form letter from DOC director general Lou Sanson will list seven species of introduced deer plus Himalayan tahr, chamois and possums. 

They are introduced species that can be legally hunted and exported as trophies, velvet, fur and meat. . . 

Nats out building rural bridges – Annette Scott:

Life is not going to get easier anytime soon for rural New Zealanders, National Party leader Simon Bridges told a meeting of 300 people in Ashburton.

Bridges, as part of his Connecting with Communities regional roadshow, said increased intervention in people’s everyday lives and policies that will make it harder for regional businesses to operate are becoming reality under the Labour-led Government.

And changes to industrial relations law will directly affect regional economies.

The big increase in the minimum wage and amendments to the 90-day employment trial were prompting employers to think twice about taking on new staff. . . 

Nominations Documents Ready for 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Friday, 6 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

This year John Wilson, Ashley Waugh and Nicola Shadbolt retire by rotation. They may all stand for re-election if they wish – none have announced their intentions at this stage. . .

Record entries for Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower competition:

Eight of Hawke’s Bay’s top young horticulturists will face off in the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year competition in Napier on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June.

This year’s entrants are:
Lisa Arnold, orchard operations assistant at Bostock NZ
Tom Dalziel, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Ryan Gittings, York Group assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd
Wade Miller, leading hand at Bostock NZ
Luke Scragg, senior leading hand at T&G
Philip Siagia, general orchard hand at Mr Apple NZ
Anthony Taueki, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Lincoln Thomson, assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd

Critical elements to maintain member loyalty in co-operatives :

To fully engage the members of co-operative and mutual enterprises, managers and directors of CME’s must understand their members wear four hats when engaging with their co-operative, according to a study conducted by researchers from The University of Western Australia.

The study analysed three Australian producer co-operatives including Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd (CBH), Murray Goulburn Co-operative (MGC), and Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative Ltd (GFC), and examined the nature of member commitment and loyalty in co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs).

Professor Tim Mazzarol from UWA’s Business School and Institute of Agriculture says directors and managers of CME’s should recognise that members do wear multiple hats with which they engage with the enterprise. These hats are Investor, Patron, Owner and Community Member. . . 


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

November 24, 2017

NZ food shortages in 5 years – report – Pam Tipa:

New Zealand has no food security policy and will be short of some foods within five years, says a Horticulture NZ report on domestic vegetable production.

“We complacently believe we will always be able to sustainably grow enough food to feed ourselves and contribute to the country’s economic wellbeing,” the report says.

“However with prime production land being lost, climate change, competition for water resources, extreme weather events and the constant threat of pests and disease we must turn our minds to food security issues for the future of NZ’s domestic production.” . . 

Young Farmers search for talent – Tim Fulton:

Young Farmers is re-inventing itself as an agency for talent attraction from schools, helping farming to compete for staff in towns and cities.

The organisation was pitching for funding from industry groups and corporates to inject more farming-based curriculum into the education system.

The project would cost $1.5m, chief executive Terry Copeland said.

Once in place Young Farmers staff would manage the relationship with schools and commercial backers of the project like a sales account, he said. . .

Sweet success in manuka honey – Peter Burke:

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka. . .

Possums sorted – look out Omaui rats – Kate Guthrie:

A few years back, John Collins of Omaui got sick of shooting possums every night. He decided more needed to be done.

Omaui is a small village of about 30 houses in Southland, located right at the mouth of the Oreti River estuary, opposite Oreti Beach.

“I’ve always been environment-minded,” says John, who is now Chairman of the Omaui Landcare Group, “But until I came to Omaui I’d never settled in a place where that feeling for the environment came out. . .

IrrigationNZ back to help improve irrigation management:

IrrigationNZ will be back on farms this summer testing irrigation systems and helping farmers improve the efficiency of their irrigation.

Last summer, IrrigationNZ in partnership with Environment Canterbury, developed a new testing programme which saw 131 Ashburton farms have their irrigation systems tested to see how they were performing.

Over the next three months, IrrigationNZ will be testing irrigation systems in Selwyn district. As part of the testing process, farmers and farm staff are also interviewed to find out how they manage their irrigation systems. . . 

Can we sustainably meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?—Yes, says Louise Fresco – Susan MacMillan:

The following argument for continuing to use livestock to use the planet’s full ecological potential is made by Louise Fresco, a Dutch writer and food and agricultural scientist specializing in sustainable tropical agriculture. President of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research, Fresco is a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors and holds many other distinguished appointments and honours.

Fresco says that the short answer to the question of whether livestock production can meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries is ‘yes’.

‘Livestock production cannot only meet the growing demand for animal proteins, but we absolutely need livestock to use the planet in a sustainable and healthy way. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 18, 2017

Fruit early but shortage of workers – Yvonne O’Harra:

Cromwell and Roxburgh orchardists are intending to start harvesting cherries this week, which is up to 10 days earlier than usual.
However, there is also a shortage of workers.

Orchardists spoken to by Southern Rural Life said at this early stage of the season, the region’s crops of cherries and apricots were shaping up as some of the best there had been for a few years, thanks to the milder spring.

Cromwell orchardist Mark Jackson, of Jacksons’ Orchard, said everyone he had talked to was ”pretty happy” with the season so far and with the way the crops looked. . .

The new post-quake normal for south Marlborough – NZ’s biggest cul de sac – Oliver Lewis:

In a pair of towns straddling a major highway, the sound of engine noise at night has become a curiosity.

People prick up their ears from inside earthquake-damaged homes, wondering about a noise that until a year ago was a near-constant hum in the background.

Any road big enough to matter is called arterial, but for the south Marlborough towns of Seddon and Ward the description is particularly apt for State Highway 1.

Winding its way through the surrounding vineyards and gold-coloured rolling hills, the highway pumped through a steady stream of travellers and trade – lifeblood for businesses in the area. . .

Mustering courage – Alex Cook:

Stretching along both sides of the Clarence River and straddling the Clarence Fault, which runs between the seaward and inward Kaikōura Ranges, is Muzzle Station.

It’s New Zealand’s most isolated high country station, and when the Kaikōura earthquake struck, its most precariously placed.

No time to read? Listen here now

It’s also the home of managers Fiona and Guy Redfern, and when the 7.8 quake hit just past midnight on 14 November, the couple could hear the horrific sound of rock walls around the house tumbling down, and the house cracking with the movement. . . .

Gardner makes it a double – Tim Fulton:

Mid Canterbury Texel breeder Paul Gardner is a second-time winner of the Canterbury A&P Mint Lamb competition.

Gardner, farming at Mayfield, won the supreme prize in 2014 and has previously headlined other categories.

The competition was open to all breeds and celebrated the quality and variety of lamb available in New Zealand. . .

Dr Dirt gets due reward:

Dr Ants Roberts has been awarded the Ray Brougham Trophy for his outstanding contribution to pastoral farming.

Nicknamed Dr Dirt by his colleagues, Roberts is a soil scientist and Ravensdown’s chief scientific officer.

“I’m deeply humbled to be recognised amongst my peers in this way for effectively doing something that I love and am passionate about. . . .


Rural round-up

September 23, 2017

North Otago water scheme expansion finally turned on – Yvonne O’Hara:

The $57 million pipeline expansion of the North Otago Irrigation Company’s project has been turned on this week, a year later than planned.

The first stage of the scheme was completed 11 years ago and the expansion was expected to be up and running this time last year, but was held back by problems with the new pipe.

North Otago Irrigation Company chair Leigh Hamilton said the water scheme has been talked about since the 1980s and the first stage of the scheme was built in 2006. . 

Back in business – Tim Fulton:

It was dry for so long Iain Wright started to forget the feel of mud at his feet.

But a “fantastic” amount of rain since autumn has turned his family’s fortunes after three years of Canterbury drought.

“It’s nice to know you can actually grow stuff.

“For so long you couldn’t grow anything,” the sheep and beef farmer said. . . 

Fonterra fails diversity test says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner – Gerard Hutching:

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has given Fonterra a serve for having so few women on its board.

But Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said he couldn’t care if board members were transgender or of any race or colour, as long as they advanced the interests of Fonterra and farmer/shareholders.

Fairlie dairy farmer and current board member Leonie Guiney has been not selected to stand as a candidate for a second term, reducing the numbers of women on the 11-person board to two – Professor Nicola Shadbolt and Donna Smit. . .

New woolhandling event – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of the most prestigious events on the shearing calendar is only two weeks away and this year it will include a new competition featuring the top woolhandlers in the country.

The 56th annual New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships will be held at Molyneux Stadium, Alexandra, on October 6 and 7 and will be open to the public from about 7.30am.

Organising committee member Graeme Bell said the Merino Shears was one of the highlights of the shearing year. . .

One more chance for viticulturist – Yvonne O’Hara:

Annabel Bulk, of Felton Road Wines, has one more chance to win the national Young Viticulturist of the Year title next year before she is too old to enter. She intends to give it her best shot.

Ms Bulk has worked on the Bannockburn vineyard for about six years, and entered the regional competition for the past five.

This year, the vineyard’s assistant viticulturalist won the Central Otago competition and represented the region at the national final at Villa Maria, Marlborough on August 29, coming a close second to winner Tim Adams, from Obsidian, Waiheke Island. . .

Please no more meat regulation says NSW Farmers – NSW Farmers cattle committee chairman Bill Stacy:

The final report from the red meat senate inquiry was released last week. Its conclusions highlighted there are competition issues within the red meat industry, which generally act to the detriment of producers.

The report contained two key recommendations to improve competition. . .


Rural round-up

August 26, 2017

Farmers’ voices must be heard – Nigel Malthus:

Heading into an election that will be won or lost in the towns and cities, farmers must get a hearing on environmental issues, says Meat Industry Association chair John Loughlin.

He says with environmental issues “quite significant” in this election year, any changes to environmental regimes must be balanced and fair.

“The outcomes in our rivers don’t just reflect farming; they reflect towns and cities and industries as well.”

He was speaking after the recent two-day Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, jointly hosted by the MIA with Beef + Lamb NZ. . .

Urban invaders hurting hort – Sudesh Kissun:

Uncertainty over continued access to fertile land and irrigation water are potentially forcing some vegetable growers out of business.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Brent Wilcox says land and water are the main issues facing many of its member businesses; ranging from smaller single property units to large operations with diverse land holdings.

“Over time we are seeing consolidation of many small growers into fewer larger growers; there is uncertainty and many growers are faced with a decision trying to figure whether they can justify the cost of taking land and water issues on,” he told Rural News. . .

Dairy industry tackling shortage of quality environmental advisers -Stephen Macaulay:

Quality advice is key to whether farmers sink or swim in an environmental tsunami, writes Stephen Macaulay.

 A wave of unprecedented environmental compliance is crashing over New Zealand’s primary industries and it’s not just farmers who are working hard to stay afloat.

The implementation of farm environmental plans represents one of the most significant changes in how farmers think about and undertake their work. Solutions now and into the future will involve a fundamental rethink in the way we farm and manage our natural resources.

How the industry deals with those regulations and the associated scrutiny of urban New Zealand and international consumers will impact on the production and profitability of farming operations into the future, as well as farm property values. . .

Farmers are adding value to wool – Tim Fulton:

Home spinning entrepreneurs are defying wool’s doldrums.

Tracey Topp started the Cosy Toes children’s Merino sock range on a kitchen table at Rotherham, North Canterbury, more than 10 years ago.

Recently she branched into bigger sizes for adults and a variety of tights, blankets and clothing.

Topp grew up on a sheep farm at Summerhill, in the Canterbury foothills near Oxford. She still soaks in the smell and the memory of lanolin, tossing fleeces and the banter of the boards.

A Kiwi company makes Cosy Toes’ socks but it took years of hard work to build business credibility.

Fabricators wanted consistent wool supply, including minimum wool weight for dyeing. . . 

Don’t judge a conversion by its cover – Tim Fulton:

Ngai Tahu’s forest-to-farm conversion near the North Canterbury town of Culverden is about beef and dairy support, the developer says.

The iwi’s farming group had transformed part of the old Balmoral Forest over the past two years but it wouldn’t be milking, Ngai Tahu Farming chief executive Andrew Priest said.

The iwi had already transformed Eyrewell Forest on the north bank of the Waimakariri River, (Te Whenua Hou) into dairy farms and drystock units.

In 2016, 360 hectares of land at the west of the Balmoral block was put into irrigated pasture and was now being used for beef finishing. . . 

Cancer survivor, author donating proceeds – Alexia Johnston:

Ex Glenavy farmer Allan Andrews is topping up Cancer Society funds thanks to his many book sales.

His book titled Allan Andrews 70 Years On features a range of subjects, including farming, cricket and his battle with cancer.

It was his family’s history of cancer that prompted Mr Andrews to donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to the Cancer Society.

So far that includes $1000 – $400 to the South Canterbury division, $400 to North Otago and $200 to Ashburton.

The book was launched in late September to early October last year, with the aim of donating a portion of the proceeds from every book to the Cancer Society. . .  

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Farm Girl 1. A person who solves problems you can’t. 2. One who does precision guess work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge. See also Wizard, Magician.


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