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. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2019

South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam an example for the country – Joanne Holden:

Opuha Dam is a water storage “success story” National MPs would like to see adopted around the country.

The 20-year-old dam was the first stop on Friday for National’s Primary Industries Caucus Committee – hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon – as they toured Mid and South Canterbury’s primary industry spots.

On the trip were MPs Nathan Guy, Jacqui Dean, Matt King, Hamish Walker, and List MP Maureen Pugh, who also visited Heartland Potato Chips in Washdyke, the Managed Aquifer Recharge in Hinds, and spoke to South Canterbury community members about the future of primary industries. . .

 

Farm conflicts in tourist hotspot – Neal Wallace:

A billionaire lives on a lifestyle property on one side of Chris and Emma Dagg’s Queenstown farm. On the other is a multi-millionaire.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The exclusive Millbrook Resort is nearby and actor Tom Cruise was a neighbour while filming in New Zealand.

The Daggs’ 424ha farm in the Wakatipu Basin between Queenstown and Arrowtown includes some of NZ’s most sort after land for residential development.

A short drive from Queenstown, the rural setting provides a desirable place for the rich and famous to live, putting pressure on landowners in a region short of land, houses and sections. . . 

Rain in Waikato a good start – more please, farmers say:

Rain in Waikato was good news for farmers but more is needed to keep the threat of drought at bay. 

Until the weekend, the region had only received 0.4 millimetres of rain leaving soil moisture levels dangerously low. 

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said the 10 millimetres of rain received over the weekend “was a good start”.  . . 

Lanercost open to all farmers – Tim Fulton:

The first Future Farm is contributing to the rehabilitation of a bruised Canterbury farm and community. Tim Fulton reports.

Visitors to Lanercost can see its potential as a sheep and beef demonstration farm, the lessees say.

The North Canterbury hill country property near Cheviot is 1310ha modelled on a farm at Lincoln that has allowed the dairy industry to assess innovation.

Farmer Carl Forrester and Mendip Hills manager Simon Lee have a lease to run the 1310ha Lanercost in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Lanercost’s owner, the T D Whelan Trust. . .

Loneliness in farming community is ‘heart-breaking’, police officers say

Police officers have highlighted how ‘heart-breaking’ it is to see some farmers suffer from extreme loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness in the farming community has been highlighted by Dyfed-Powys Police, who have a small team of specialist rural officers. PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are working closely with mental healthy charity the DPJ Foundation. They have referred several farmers to the charity for counselling and mental health support. . . 

Soil ecologist challenges mainstream thinking on climate change – Candace Krebs:

How cropland and pastures are managed is the most effective way to remedy climate change, an approach that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, according to a leading soil ecologist from Australia who speaks around the world on soil health.

“Water that sits on top of the ground will evaporate. Water vapor, caused by water that evaporates because it hasn’t infiltrated, is the greenhouse gas that has increased to the greatest extent since the Industrial Revolution,” said Christine Jones, while speaking at the No Till on the Plains Conference in Wichita in late January. . . 


Rural round-up

February 11, 2019

Farmers in fear – Annette Scott:

Farmers were living in fear of the unpredictable Tasman fire today as they talked of narrow escapes while worrying about their stock.

They were also grappling with the difficulty of dealing with bureaucrats and concern about water for the immediate future.

Farmers caught up in the fires just needed to talk to someone who understood their plight, farming leader and Redwood Valley farmer Graeme Sutton said. . . 

Carbon price makes trees valuable – Tim Fulton:

A rising carbon price under the Emissions Trading Scheme has changed a Canterbury sheep farmer’s attitude to exotic forestry and native regrowth. Tim Fulton reports.

Spray them? 

No way, Romney breeder Hugh Taylor says now when he inspects his redwood and regenerating native trees.

But it wasn’t always that way. 

He did once consider spraying the 600ha plantation. 

Five years ago Taylor and family moved from gentle country at Oxford to harder North Canterbury hill country hoping to show clients how well their stock could shift. . . 

 

Sheep, beef farms main finalists:

Sheep and beef farms dominate the Southland finalists in the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Farmer Michael Bashford has a 528ha sheep and beef-finishing farm at Tokanui in southern Southland. Mr Bashford’s property encompasses the original site of the Progress Valley sawmill and a 51.7ha native bush block on the property is about to mark 30 years under a QEII covenant.

Duncan and Kerralie Falconer farm in Eastern Southland, on a 591ha property at Waimumu. The farm is a classic family farm which has grown as parcels of land were bought and added to the property. Stock run on the property include 5500 sheep – Wairere and Texel-Suffolk – as well as 125 R1 heifers.

Travis Leslie and Catriona Cunningham manage Kepler Farm near Te Anau, which is part of Landcorp’s genetic programme. The property covers 1640ha, of which 1503ha is farmed. . . 

Nightcaps Young Farmers celebrate 500 meeting milestone :

It may not be the oldest but the Nightcaps Young Farmers group is certainly in the top three in New Zealand.

At the weekend, the Southland group celebrated in style to mark its 500th meeting.

It was a significant milestone from the group, as especially about 10 years ago the club only had five members. . . 

Q’town man launches world first deer milk beauty product:

Milking deer could open up a new high-value dairy industry for New Zealand, reckons Queenstown entrepreneur Graeme Shaw, who is launching a world first, locally made deer milk skincare range.

His Kotia beauty brand will be presented to more than 70 industry buyers and media flown into the resort town this month.

A significant distribution deal for the skincare has already been arranged here and in Australia in partnership with McPhersons Consumer Products. This will see the products in the big Priceline pharmacy chain and locally in selected Green Cross (Life and Unichem) pharmacies and Farmers stores.

But it is the vast Asian market which ultimately offers the most export potential. . .

Sheep entries high at Waiau A&P Show – Shirley Whyte:

Sheep numbers were high at this year’s 80th Waiau A&P Show in Tuatapere on Saturday.

Waiau A&P Show Secretary Isobel Devery said the committee was delighted with the day’s events.

“It has been a great day with perfect weather, not too hot and not too cold. Horse entries were well up on previous years,” Devery said. . . 


Rural round-up

January 11, 2019

World-first water quality project improves test stream – Emma Dangerfield:

Nitrate levels have significantly reduced at a North Canterbury stream less than two months into a pilot project to improve its water quality.

The Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR)-led denitrification wall trial at Silverstream Reserve, near Kaiapoi, has resulted in nitrate levels in groundwater dropping from 7.1mg/l to 0.5 mg/l.

The 25 metre-long wall, installed in November, is a world first, having never been tested in a fast-flowing gravel aquifer system before. . .

Wide ranging quake projects remodelled – Tim Fulton:

The earthquake recovery project for the upper South Island has been shaken up for better relevance and helpfulness to farmers.

The Government and farming and other landcare groups approved new work areas for the Post Quake Farming Project at a meeting on December 3.

“Thank you to everyone for your patience in waiting for things to get to the point they are now,” new project manager Michael Bennett wrote in a project update.

“We have a great project stacked up in front of us which will hopefully pay dividends to the rural community for many months to come.” . . 

 

New deal for Cross Slot – Hugh Stringleman:

Cross Slot No-Tillage Systems of Feilding has agreed to licence a new seed drill manufacturer in the United States to supply all the Americas.

Company principal and agricultural engineer John Baker said Appleton Marine in Wisconsin was the planned manufacturer and marketer.

It would be the first venture into agricultural machinery for the big heavy-duty manufacturer and fabricator of marine and mining equipment.

Baker said the agreement had not yet been signed but a US no-tillage website had publicised the deal, including a mistaken claim that intellectual property had been sold. . . 

British farmers demand ‘mutual respect’ from NZ trade negotiators:

United Kingdom sheep farming leaders have warned that British producers could lose out badly under a post-Brexit free trade deal struck between the New Zealand and the UK.

In an official response to the NZ Government’s consultation on free trade deal proposals with Britain, the UK National Sheep Association (NSA) has appealed for ‘mutual respect’ for UK sheep farmers from NZ.

“Any new UK/NZ trade deal will cover all products, industries and services and it is crucial to recognise that for sheepmeat it is an entirely one-way trade,” NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said. . . 

 

Honey price tumble hurts producers – Richard Rennie:

Beekeepers are smarting at lower returns on all honey types, including the much touted manuka variety, despite reports it continues to sell strongly in overseas markets.

Downunder Honey owner Jason Prior, of Cheltenham, said honey producers face the prospect of being paid 20-25% less than 2017 by processors as the market reshapes after a shakedown in numbers over the past two years.

“The smaller, second-tier honey buyers have disappeared and then the next tier down, the fly-by-night operators, have gone too. Between these guys they would account for 30% of the market. They were often small individually but combined were quite a portion of that buying market.” . . 

Tasman apple growers expect bumper crop, hope for enough workers to pick them – Cherie Sivignon and Hannah Ellis,:

Some apple growers in Tasman district worry there may be a repeat of the 2018 labour shortage as a bumper crop is tipped for the coming season. 

“I think, we’ve got a very, very good crop,” said long-time grower David Easton.

Fellow grower and New Zealand Apples & Pears board member Matthew Hoddy said crop projections were up 9 per cent on 2018. . .  


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