Rural round-up

20/09/2021

Lean on a gate, chat to a mate – Toni WIlliams:

‘‘Lean on a gate and talk to a mate’’ is the call from rural health advocate Craig Wiggins.

Mr Wiggins, who farms at Dromore, near Ashburton, has put the message out as a simple mental health campaign to help farmers and others out there struggling.

‘‘I’ve been doing a fair bit of work around farmer support and helping people through some tough times, and especially through Covid,’’ he said.

‘‘We are really, really trying to bridge gaps and talk to people, but it’s just not getting through to some people, and I know that one of the things we can do is just keep checking on each other and talking to those people that you haven’t talked to for quite a while.’’ . .

Agriculture industry voice needs reviewed – Robin Bistrow:

The agricultural industry is being let down in the environmental regulation space, Rural Advocacy Network (RAN) chairman Jamie McFadden says.

Mr McFadden said while Beef+Lamb, Dairy New Zealand and Federated Farmers all operated efficiently in the research space, through on-farm management, environmental issues, floods and gave good sound employment advice, no-one was looking after the farmers at the grassroots level of coping with the avalanche of environmental regulation.

‘‘Farmers are getting cross. Farmers are trying to work with a flood of regulations, but they are having to deal with way too many unworkable regulations,’’ he said.

‘‘They are struggling with the sheer volume of regulations — impractical stuff that is coming through.’’ . . 

Business booming in ‘wop wops’  – Ashley Smyth:

Bex Hayman has made country cool again with her jewellery and accessories brand Whistle & Pop. She makes time to speak to Ashley Smyth, while juggling farm life, lockdown and running a business with three small children.

Talking to Bex Hayman over the phone during lockdown, you can’t help but be buoyed by her enthusiasm.

As we bond over the joys of working from home with three children, she takes a peppering of Nerf bullets from 3-year-old William in her stride. . . 

Young Mackenzie inventors may hold answer to common farming frustration – Keiller MacDuff:

A trio of young inventors from Mackenzie College may have solved an age-old farming problem.

Year 11 and 12 students Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, invented the Flexi Mat Frostease, a device that can be inserted into water troughs to prevent them from freezing over, as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (Yes).

The Flexi-Mat is a circular-shaped bladder constructed out of layers of outdoor grade canvas and plastic welded together.

Amy said animals can push the mat down with their nose, allowing water to come up through the milk bottle lid-sized holes. . . 

Jordan Moores from Valli wins award:

Congratulations to Jordan Moores from Valli for becoming the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year.

He is thrilled to have taken out the title and very excited to go through to the National Final which will be held in Central Otago for the first time this year in late November. No doubt there will be a large local crowd supporting him in the build up and on the day. “I’m going to give myself the weekend off” he said “and then get back into the study and preparation. It’s really exciting to be going through.”

Congratulations also goes to Hannah Lee for coming second. Hannah is currently on maternity leave, so not only did she impress judges with her great winemaking skills and knowledge, but also her multi tasking skills as in between challenges she managed to check in with her little one who was there with her babysitter. Great work! . . 

UN calls for reform of $540bn farming subsidies to help climate – Emiko Terazono:

The UN is calling for reform of the world’s $540bn in farming subsidies to help the climate and promote better nutrition.

Livestock and food production are among the biggest emitters of carbon but also enjoy the most state support, it says in a new report. Financial support to farmers accounted for 15 per cent of agriculture’s total production value globally, with the figure expected to more than triple to $1.8tn by 2030 if subsidies continue to grow at their current pace, the UN warned.

Agriculture is a big contributor to climate change due to greenhouse gases emitted by deforestation, manure, agricultural chemicals, rice cultivation and burning crop residues. Yet farmers are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, be that extreme heat, rising sea levels, drought, floods or locust attacks. . .


Rural round-up

09/09/2021

We need to step up water resilience resourcing and leadership  :

News that development work on the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme has been halted should be deeply troubling to every resident of the Wairarapa, the region’s Federated Farmers President David Hayes says.

“Water storage is critical to the future of our towns and rural hinterland, to employment, production and the health of our rivers and wider environment.”
The Wakamoekau scheme was seen as a foundation block of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy.

“It’s highly concerning we have stumbled at the first step,” David said.
“I grew up in South Australia – the driest state on the driest continent. I’ve seen how severe water shortages undercut so many aspects of life.

“The Wairarapa must not underestimate the shock that climate change-accelerated lack of water will mean to our Wairarapa communities and to the environment. It is time to act! . . 

Grape shortage to hit winegrowers in pocket – Maja Burry:

The wine industry is bracing for two consecutive years of falling export revenue due to tight grape supplies.

Latest industry figures show in the year to June export value was down 3 percent to $1.87 billion, the first fall in export value in 26 years.

New Zealand winegrowers chief executive Phillip Gregan said the sector had experienced strong growth over a number of years, but it was now being constrained by a lack of supply.

“Despite the fact that we had a record harvest in 2020, our winery simply did not have the volume of wine available to them to support market growth for the whole for the whole year. And so we saw the first decline in wine exports.” . . 

Long hours at a busy time of year – Toni Williams:

Husband and wife Vincent and Rebecca Koopmans, like their farming peers, have been putting in some long hours during Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Mr Koopmans is a dairy farmer, near Methven, and Mrs Koopmans a primary school teacher reaching out to pupils about ongoing learning under Covid restrictions.

‘‘Although it is business as usual during lockdown and we are very proud to be an essential service, it’s not life as normal and lockdown does still add pressure on farmers,’’ Mr Koopmans said.

‘‘We are lucky to be in a position to continue working, and providing work for our team as well, but like everyone else we are hoping this [Covid] outbreak is contained soon.’’ . . 

Comvita partners with celebrity brand promoter Caravan:

Mānuka honey exporter Comvita is teaming up with one of America’s most powerful sports and entertainment agencies to market a new line of products.

Comvita has announced a new partnership with the US brand development company Caravan, which is a joint venture with talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents celebrities and sports stars such as Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Caravan helps high profile individuals build companies around their personal brands. . . 

Lockdown auction achieves record sale price :

The sale of a Tatua dairy supply farm has just set a new price-per-hectare record in the Waikato.

The rural property has also set an agency record as the most expensive property sold by Bayleys via live virtual auction since lockdown restrictions were put into place more than two weeks ago.

Alert level four lockdown restrictions didn’t allow Bayleys country real estate agent Mike Fraser-Jones much time to come to grips with the technological nuances of live virtual auctions. . . 

 

Property investors buzzing as honey warehouse up for sale:

The land and building housing the regional operations for one of New Zealand’s premier honey harvesting and retail companies has been placed on the market for sale.

The substantial site in the Waikato township of Te Awamutu features a 1,885-square metre building sitting on 5,226 square metres of freehold land zoned commercial 8A. The modern warehousing and administrative premises at 249 Bruce Berquist Drive is located in the heart of Te Awamutu’s industrial precinct – a wedge of properties between Bond Road and Te Rahu Road.

Leading New Zealand native honey harvesting and retail brand Manuka Honey occupies the rear 1,125-square metre portion of the building premises. The remaining 600 square metres of high-stud warehousing and 160 square metres of office space at the front of the property are currently vacant. . . 


Rural round-up

06/08/2021

Brainless idiots’: Mountain bikers criticised over cattle deaths – Marjorie Cook

Mountain bikers have been blasted as “brainless idiots” for causing the deaths of three pregnant cows after ignoring multiple signs and spooking them on a remote Lake Hawea station.

The accident happened last week on a notorious stretch of Dingleburn Station road while station farmers Nick Mead and Tim Lambeth were mustering a herd of 60 pregnant cows.

Nine cows plummeted off the remote Dingleburn Bluff.

Six were able to swim to safety, helped by people in boats. . . 

Compensation management concerns – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmer Laurence Rooney will likely be left with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of flood-damage on his Winchmore farm and it’s left a bad taste in his mouth.

He predicts the half-a-million-dollar flood clean-up from the May 31 flood will result in a $1m loss of income and no chance of compensation.

The government’s $4million fund pays up to 50% of non-insured damage but only on productive land.

It is not the weather Mr Rooney is frustrated with, it is paying a river rate to Environment Canterbury for river management that he, and a growing number of others, say is not happening. . . 

Innovative woollen plasters company Wool+Aid attracts big guns of Kiwi investors – Marta Steeman:

Lucas Smith’s brainchild, Wool+Aid, making biodegradable woollen plasters and bandages, has attracted the big guns of the local investment world like Sir Stephen Tindall and marketing guru Geoff Ross.

The startup launched five years ago by the then 21-year-old mountain guide has drawn $1.5 million in its first capital raising, valuing the company at about $7m.

Hailing from Tekapo, Smith wants to play his part in reducing the amount of plastic used and protect the environment, taking on the ubiquitous plastic-derived sticking plasters and bandages.

As a mountain guide he was frustrated there was nothing else on offer other than plastic bandages littering the great outdoors. . . 

Helius gains NZ’s first licence to manufacture cannabis medicines :

New Zealand’s largest licenced medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, has been issued with the industry’s first GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) Licence to Manufacture Medicines by MedSafe. It allows the company to begin manufacturing locally made medicines for New Zealand patients.

“This is our most significant milestone yet at Helius. The GMP Licence means Helius can now move forward to manufacturing high-quality, affordable Kiwi-made medicinal cannabis products. New Zealand doctors will be able to confidently prescribe in the knowledge that Helius meets stringent quality standards,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Based in Auckland’s East Tamaki, Helius began the rigorous and complex journey for the GMP Licence as a start-up in 2018. Through an international recognition scheme, MedSafe’s latest approval also meets European standards, known as EU-GMP, opening future export possibilities for the 100% privately-owned Kiwi company. . . 

Feds heartened by QEII funding boost:

Federated Farmers is relieved to see the government put more money towards the Queen Elizabeth II Trust, to help landowner endeavours to protect and enhance areas of special native biodiversity on privately owned land.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has pledged $8 million to go to the Jobs for Nature programme. This should allow the QEII Trust to increase the number of sites protected by covenants by 264 during the next four years.

Federated Farmers board member and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says Feds has been asking for more help for the Trust for years, and the extra funding is very welcome.

More than 4600 unbreakable covenants have been established since 1977, covering 180,000 hectares of private land. . . 

Fighting fire with fire – Amanda Monthei, Zoeann Murphy , Lo Bénichou , Shikha Subramaniam and Dylan Moriarty :

It’s a clear, sunny spring morning in Seeley Lake, Mont., and 34 firefighters are gathering on a road east of town, drip torches in hand. They are here to set a fire, not stop one.

One of the primary defenses Western land managers have against large uncontrollable wildfires are small controlled fires like the one firefighters are setting this day, May 17.

The greater northwest Montana region has a long familiarity with wildfire, cultural fire and fire suppression. The landscape is peppered with fire lookouts, some staffed, some used for recreation, and all an evocation of a time before aircraft were widely available to spot new fire starts.

The terrain here is like much of Northwest Montana, defined by mountainsides rising steeply from a chain of glacial lakes before giving way to rugged ridgelines, all blanketed with brush and towering swaths of ponderosa pines, Douglas firs and western larches. . . 


Rural round-up

25/07/2021

Why farmers protested in NZ towns and cities – Shelley Krieger:

 Last week’s Howl of a Protest inspired Balclutha dairy stock agent Shelley Krieger to write the following post on Facebook, explaining why rural people took to the streets.

In case anyone was confused as to why the farmers were protesting on Friday, I thought I would just put something here so people have an idea of why.

Firstly SNAs (Significant Natural Areas).

These are areas of people’s farm land or lifestyle blocks that the Government is getting the councils to survey. . . 

Labour cannot afford to ignore rural concerns – Mike Houlahan:

For something set up as an apolitical organisation, farmer advocacy group Groundswell is having a heck of a political impact.

Yesterday the group, set up by Greenvale farmer Laurie Paterson and his Pomahaka colleague Bryce McKenzie in October last year, held its first national event, Howl of a Protest.

Farmers and sympathetic townies both were encouraged to fetch up to a town centre near them to show how fed up they were with increasing Government interference in their lives and businesses.

There is a long shopping list of government policies Messrs Paterson and McKenzie and co are riled about, which includes fresh water management, stock grazing regulations, promotion of electric vehicles, Resource Management Act reform, emission standards, and significant natural areas regulations. . . 

‘Farmers need to stick together’– Toni Williams:

“Farmers need to stick together, work together and help each other along,” dairy farmer Willy Leferink says.

Mr Leferink, speaking at the Howl of a Protest in Ashburton on Friday, said farmers were sick and tired of all the regulations and needed a change where farmers would make a difference.

“The ink is not even dry on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” he said, and changes were already afoot.

“We as rural communities don’t get listened to,” he said. . . 

M. Bovis eradication efforts on track :

A just released report shows efforts to rid the cattle disease M-Bovis from the country are on track and eradication is likely to be achieved.

The disease which can cause lameness and mastitis was first detected on a South Canterbury farm in July 2017.

In 2018 the government committed to eliminating the disease over 10 years.

The latest report from the independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) shows only three active infected properties remain, down from 34 two years ago, and once cleared the programme will move onto surveillance. . . 

Science helps cook ‘perfect steak’; artificial intelligence creates recipes

AgResearch scientists have taken their skills into the kitchen to identify the ideal cooking conditions for the “perfect steak”; while also harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create new food combinations and recipes.

The scientists used a unique approach of analysing biochemical changes in beef steak during the cooking process.

They worked with world-class development chef Dale Bowie, whose career included working at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin three-star restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK.

When being cooked, steak releases compounds emitted as gases called volatiles, which can be captured and analysed. . .

Angus Youth inspires industry’s next generation – Edwina Watson:

ANGUS Youth protege Damien Thomson reckons there’s never been a better time to be in beef.

At home at Shaccorahdalu Angus, Berremangra, NSW, the Thomsons received the equivalent to their 2019 total rainfall in the first three months of 2021.

Mr Thomson said the good season was now showing in the stud’s pastures and weaners.

“It’s great to see the optimism and confidence in beef cattle after such an extreme drought. The quality of our herd improves year-on-year and we can’t supply enough to our existing clients.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/06/2021

Was the cost really worth it – ODT editorial:

Albert Einstein once said, “I don’t need to know everything, I just need to know where to find it, when I need it.”

In the case of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ response to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, it plundered on, ignoring those with the practical knowledge it desperately needed, and leaving a path of trauma in its wake.

A two-year University of Otago-led study has recently been completed on the psychosocial impact of the bacterial cattle disease on rural communities in the South.

Excerpts make harrowing reading, including the farmer interviewed who struggles to remember the birth of his fourth child in the midst of the outbreak, and the dominant theme of the “intrusive, inpractical and inhumane” nature of the MPI eradication programme. . .

The human side of M bovis – Nicola Dennis:

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Many South Island farmers got a very good look at that road as the Government “helped” them through the Mycoplasma bovis (M bovis) eradication programme. So far, there have been over 171,600 cattle forcibly slaughtered from 260 farms. 

A recent University of Otago study found that the “poorly managed government response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak inflicted significant and lasting trauma on farmers”. 

If you farm in the South Island, where 75% of the culled properties were located, then this finding is no surprise. The heavy-handed, whole-herd eradication strategy that MPI adopted cast a very wide net. In addition to “depopulating’’ farms, a further 2000 properties were thwarted by movement restrictions and many more were under the scrutiny of “active surveillance”.

If Southern farmers weren’t directly involved, or consoling someone who was, then they were at least feeling it via the sluggish cattle prices over the past three years. . . 

Nurturing New Zealand’s future farmers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I want to tell you about a great initiative out there because it’s a good idea and it’s an uplifting story.

Like many industries, the sheep and beef sector has struggled to get enough quality young folk to enter the industry as a career choice.

Near here we have Smedley Station, which has a two-year cadet training programme and has 13 cadets graduate from the course each year.

Up in Gisborne is the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust, which sees five young people graduate from their course annually. And there are other worthy cadet courses scattered around the country too. . .

New business hits spot at right time – Toni Williams:

Lucy Gilbert has a bounce in her step and a shine in her eyes.

She and friend Tash Andrews, of Timaru, started grazing table and platter business Fern & Feta Platters, bringing joy and wonder where it matters: via clients’ stomachs. And business is booming.

It belies a turbulent ride the 31-year-old has been on over the past 18 months.

While married to dairy farmer Nick Gilbert, Lucy has gone from being a top-performing travel agent, managing Flight Centre Ashburton, to losing her job as a Covid casualty then welcoming a much-loved newborn into the world but suffering postnatal depression. . .

Truffle hunt in full swing with expectations of supply outstripping demand – Hugo Cameron:

Truffle hunters are putting nose to the dirt as the harvest for the elusive fungus gets into full swing, with some expecting to find more than they can sell this season.

According to the Tuffle Association, there are over over 300 truffle farms, known as truffières, in New Zealand, including dozens of growers who supply to the hospitality industry.

Maureen Binns, husband Colin and trained truffle-hunting dog Jed collect the fungus from beneath more than 200 trees on their Paengaroa property near Tauranga.

Binns said the harvest started weeks early this year due to requests from a prominent Auckland chef – and supply might outstrip demand. . .

Grain-fed beef’s big potential hinges on knowing the customer and the competition – Shan Goodwin:

As cattle producers rebuild their herds, many are looking towards the promising potential emerging from fast-growing and lucrative global grain-fed beef demand.

Those turning off steers producing some of the best daily weight gains in feedlots say the unfolding dynamics in export markets at the moment are presenting some of the best opportunities for grain-fed beef they’ve seen in their lifetime.

Producers who entered steers in this year’s Royal Queensland Show Paddock to Palate competition notched up average daily gains in the late 2 kilograms and some in excess of 3 kilograms. . .


Rural round-up

15/05/2021

Why are we making life harder for farmers? – Mike Hosking:

The Fonterra capital changes announced last week have a story behind them.

It’s a complex business, and Andrew Kelleher explained them very well to us Friday, look it up if you missed it.

This is important because the farmer is gold to this country, Fonterra is our biggest business, and dairy and agriculture are saving us, given the other big game in town is closed.

Now, as Andrew put it, Fonterra have come to the conclusion they have reached peak milk. That doesn’t mean the world is over milk and dairy, because it isn’t. As the world grows, the middle class want good food, and that’s what we do.

So, Fonterra’s move means producing things in this country is getting harder. Between the rules and attitude of the government, making stuff is an uphill battle. . . 

The big dry: Drought hits farmers hard as winter looms – Kurt Bayer:

Up the brown hill where his grandfather lies, Stu Fraser’s epic view tells two stark tales.

Down on the flat of Amuri basin, the local irrigation scheme flaunts its lush rewards: emerald swathes of dairy land, crisscrossing the scenic North Canterbury landscape.

And down by the meandering Hurunui River, Fraser has some green strips too.

But up here on the steep hill country and rolling downs, where 5600 ewes scratch around and trot hopefully behind the red ATV, it’s a different story. . . 

Photographs spur journey from Argentina to Mid Canterbury farm – Toni Williams:

Maria Alvarez was drawn to New Zealand by photographs of a friend’s working holiday.

Those photographs started her on a journey from Argentina to working in the New Zealand dairy industry.

She arrived in New Zealand in 2013 and spent the first few years getting settled in.

“Everyday I get to see a sunrise. It’s beautiful,” she said last week from her home in Mid Canterbury. . . 

Sri Lankan dairy workers move up – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmers Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage are living the dream.

They are passionate share farmers on a 245ha Dairy Holdings farm at Ealing, milking 980 cows, and are finalists in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, Share Farmer of the Year category.

They won the final of the Canterbury-North Otago region and will find out this weekend how they fared. The national finals are in Hamilton on Saturday.

Dinuka and Nadeeka love being their own bosses and working with animals in the outside environment. . . 

Collaboration key to meat assurance programmes – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers may be behind Ireland in their ability to measure farm-level carbon footprints but that is set to change, Beef + Lamb NZ general manager market development Nick Beeby says.

Beeby was responding to comments by Lincoln University agribusiness senior lecturer Dr Nic Lees who spent three months in Ireland looking at the Irish Origin Green programme, which claims to be the world’s first national level, third-party verified sustainability programme and brand for agriculture.

As part of the programme, farm-level carbon footprints and other sustainability measures have been available to Irish farmers since 2011.

Lees says in contrast, NZ is only beginning to implement a comprehensive farm-level carbon footprint measurement system. . . 

Safer farm equipment creates happy vets:

All good livestock farmers know the value of having a good relationships with their vets. And while vets expect to be on call to help with birthing issues, give vaccinations, or check any number of health concerns of farmers’ animals, a breach of safety could lead to vets fearing accepting such calls when they come in. Farmers should be aware, then, that if vets do not feel safe when administering their services, chances are, the farmers themselves may suffer in the long run as a result of high vet turnover or even possibly being sued for negligence.

It is imperative, therefore, to ensure the safety of all vets, along with all other farm workers, who attend to livestock. By ensuring high overall safety standards on farms, farmers are more likely to build robust relationships with those responsible for their animals’ wellbeing. Good relationships, in turn, could ensure higher profits due to trading in healthy stock, lower employee turnover, and the peace of mind that everyone on the farm – both people and animals – is happy and healthy. . . 


Rural round-up

16/04/2021

Feds: live export ban ‘surprising’ – Simon Edwards:

The government’s announcement this morning that live export of animals will be banned after a transition period of up to two years has come as a surprise to Federated Farmers, Feds animal welfare spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“The Minister has said this is all about protecting New Zealand’s reputation as the most ethical producer of food in the world.

“Those farmers who support livestock exports would point out our trade in this sector operates to some of the highest animal welfare standards anywhere – standards that were further bolstered after last year’s Heron Report,” Wayne said.

“Our farmers care deeply about animal welfare. The government has seen fit to bring in this ban but Federated Farmers has no information about any breaches of the high standards relating to livestock exports.” . . 

Better safe than sorry – Ross Nolly:

Health and safety on the farm is an obligation which many farmers are meeting but an online tool is helping to simplify their recording practices.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And never is that saying truer than when it comes to Health and Safety (H&S) protocols on a farm.

Being proactive with H&S is always better than reactive and can potentially save you money. But more importantly, it could save a life or prevent a serious injury to family and employees on the farm.

With this in mind, Megan Owen started her business Orange Cross. Created by farmers for farmers, it is a tool to help farmers fulfil their H&S obligations. She and husband Jason are 50:50 sharemilkers on a 185ha dairy farm near Hamilton, Waikato, where they milk 520 cows. . . 

Dairy not sold on CCC advice – Neal Wallace:

The Climate Change Commission is being overly optimistic by claiming dairy farmers can produce the same volume of milk from less cows and in the process generate less methane, says DairyNZ.

The commission suggests a 15% reduction in farmed livestock numbers below 2018 levels is possible without compromising production due to improved animal performance, enabling biogenic methane targets to be met without new technology.

It claims farmers can run fewer cows on less land yet achieve the same or more milksolids per cow, generating less methane per kilogram of milksolids.

DairyNZ disagrees. . . 

Still trialling, despite his 80-plus years – Toni Williams:

Elder statesman Harvey Eggleston is the oldest member of the Mayfield Collie Club.

Mr Eggleston (82) was at Hakatere Station, in the Mid Canterbury high country, last month to celebrate the club’s centennial dog trial event.

He has been with the club 34 years but has a 60-year history in dog trials, having earlier been involved with the Oxford Collie Club.

He and wife Annette were seeking the sun when they moved from a 283ha sheep and beef farm at View Hill, near Oxford, to farm firstly at Valetta in Mid Canterbury, then to a sheep and beef farm, with dairy grazing, at Alford Forest. . . 

Horizons decision on Plan Change 2 brings certainty for farmers – Simon Edwards:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are pleased the Horizons Regional Council has adopted the recommendations of the Independent Hearing Panel for Proposed Plan Change 2.

“This gives some certainty for farmers who have been in limbo,” Federated Farmers National President and Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard says.

“Importantly, PC2 is an interim measure, intended to address the pressing issue about the One Plan’s workability while a more fundamental, region-wide work programme is completed to give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.” . . 

Study shows consumers view ag as part of the solution to climate change :

When it comes to climate change, consumers view agriculture as a part of the solution rather than the problem. Among participants in Cargill’s recent global Feed4Thought survey, those who indicated climate change as important to them also rated livestock and agriculture lowest in negative impact compared with other industries generally regarded as significant contributors. More than one-third of respondents expressed confidence in the industry’s ability to limit its contributions to climate change.    

“Farmers are critical to feeding the world sustainably and responsibly,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, who leads Cargill’s animal nutrition & health business. “With a growing population and rising consumer interest in climate change, they are also part of the solution to address some of the toughest environmental challenges. At Cargill, our focus continues to be advocating for farmers by supporting and amplifying efforts to reduce their environmental footprint, methane emissions and, in turn, climate impact.”

Cargill’s Feed4Thought survey included responses from 2,510 consumers representing the U.S., France, South Korea, and Brazil. From among all participants, transportation and deforestation were ranked as the greatest contributors to climate change. According to consumers surveyed, who’s most responsible for accelerating change? Fifty-nine percent said that federal and national governments bear the highest responsibility for addressing climate change, while 57 percent saw companies involved in beef production and 50 percent saw cattle farmers as responsible for reducing the impact of livestock. . . 


Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


Rural round-up

21/01/2021

Covenanters queue up for Trust action – Hugh Stringleman:

The QE11 National Trust is getting close to 5000 approved and registered covenants over nearly 200,000 hectares at the beginning of its fifth decade in existence.

The trust also has a new chair, former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, and three new directors appointed by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage towards the end of an eventful year.

The 2020 annual report to June 30 disclosed a total of 4761 registered and formalised covenants, up 110 during the financial year, with a further 342 underway. . . 

Jerseys fit the environmental bill :

Jersey cows have featured prominently over the years among the four generations on John Totty’s 465ha property at Staveley.

The Jersey stud on farm was founded by Mr Totty’s grandfather — a passionate Jersey breeder — in the early 1960s. Back then the farm milked 150 cows and ran dairy replacements, sheep, beef and crop.

When Mr Totty’s parents took over the business the farm was expanded. They bought a neighbouring property in 1995 which was converted the following year.

A Friesian herd was bought and for 20 years the property supported a 750-cow herd while continuing to run young stock. . . 

Japan warns it will block NZ honey shipments if glyphosate limits breached – Charlie Dreaver:

Japan is warning it will stop importing New Zealand honey if it continues to find the weed killer glyphosate during border testing.

New Zealand’s global honey exports totalled $490 million last year, with almost $68m of that sent to Japan.

Japan is now testing all honey from New Zealand at the border, after it detected glyphosate for the second time through random testing.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has told the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that if 5 percent of imported honey exceeds its glyphosate limit, it will stop the honey coming into Japan. . . 

Gulls take to new life on the farm – Toni Williams:

Thousands of endangered black-billed gulls that usually nest at Ashburton’s State Highway One bridge have found a new home on a dairy farm at Lauriston — or at least some of them have.

The land-locked site is nowhere near the Ashburton River, their former home, and its risky riverbed, where flooding, human or canine activity disrupts nests.

Rather the birds are happily tucked in between an effluent pond and the dairy shed.

Sharemilkers Ali van Polanen and Andrew Black said the birds were first noticed on November 14. . . 

Fewer possums on Mt Pironga following 1080 drop – Doc :

A successful 1080 operation has led to fewer possums on Mount Pironga near Te Awamutu, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says.

DOC dropped 1080 over 14,000 hectares of land in September.

The work was part of long-term conservation efforts at the site, an important home to forest birds, insects, lizards and plants. . . 

Early positive start to onion season:

The 2021 New Zealand export onion season is off to an early and positive start.

‘Amongst all the turmoil created by Covid and the weather, it’s great to be able to report that exports of New Zealand onions to Indonesia are underway, two months earlier than last year,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘This is thanks to New Zealand government trade officials’ efforts to keep trade open and a decision by Indonesian officials to release quota early.

’78 tonnes of onions harvested earlier in January left for Indonesia last week. While this is small, it signals the season is underway early, and prices reflect the additional costs of growing and exporting during a pandemic.’ . . 

Autogrow announces spin-out of AI farming company WayBeyond to accelerate growth:

Autogrow has unveiled a corporate reorganization as part of a long-term business strategy which will see the organization split into two separate entities with the launch of digital farming company WayBeyond.

WayBeyond Limited (WayBeyond) led by CEO and Founder Darryn Keiller, will focus on the global expansion of digital farm solutions for large scale, multi-site farms to optimize farming productivity. Autogrow, now under the management of Acting General Manager Rod Britton, will focus on continuing the global growth of the automation and control business for small to medium growers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and one I’m proud to have brought to fruition – the growth of an existing business in Autogrow and the creation of a new and transformational one in WayBeyond. A journey like this is a team sport, with a highly talented team, committed investors, and government and industry collaborators; the dream has become a reality,” explains Mr. Keiller. . . 


Rural round-up

21/11/2020

European potato ‘dumping’ hurting– Toni Williams:

An influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses.

Hewson Farms, in Mid Canterbury, grows on average around 350ha of potatoes a year as part of its operation. It grows a large tonnage for McCain Foods, but it also grows onions, wheat, ryegrass, clover, hybrid vegetable seed, seed carrots, beetroot, hybrid rape kale and linseed.

Director Ross Hewson said the influx of European fries into New Zealand, as shown in New Zealand trade figures, resulted in more than 40 containers of product flooding into the domestic market.

There was an even larger influx into Australia, he said. . . 

Lewis Road: a tale of two butters – NIkki Mandow:

The (true) story of how a former global advertising guru with a passion for making patisserie and a former international banker and property investor with a passion for dung beetles may just have produced that rare prize – a New Zealand value-add dairy export brand

Anyone shopping at the gourmet Central Market grocery store in Austin, Texas last year might have been surprised to know that the middle aged man handing them a slice of bread and butter to taste wasn’t a down-on-his-luck casual retail worker, but a high net worth Kiwi businessman on a mission to reform New Zealand dairy.

Former Saatchi & Saatchi global boss Peter Cullinane, better known in New Zealand as the guy that sparked that chocolate milk madness in 2014, was accompanied on those trial-by-in-store-tastings by his Lewis Road colleague and company general manager Nicola O’Rourke.  . .

2020 Agricultural Journalism Awards:

Winners of the 2020 NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists & Communicators Awards were announced at the eighteenth anniversary dinner, sponsored by Ravensdown, in Wellington on Friday 16 October.

Following are the award-winning entries. Most are linked to online items, but some are in pdf format requiring Acrobat Reader.

Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award

This award is for excellence in journalism in the primary sector. . . 

Tech-Talk – supporting supply chain transparency :

Consumers are increasingly calling for more transparency within supply chains and University of Canterbury PhD student Pouyan Jahanbin wants to do something about it.

Jahanbin knew that issues such as sustainability, child-labour and animal welfare were impacting consumer choices so he decided to develop a tool which will give people information about products at the point of sale, in real time.

Part of his research in Information Systems (IS) aims to comprehend the needs of all participants in the food supply-chain in order to develop an app that allows suppliers, growers, packers and distributors to share product information with consumers.

Pouyan says using blockchain technologies will improve trust and transparency of information and make verifying and sharing it easy. . . 

Producer prices whey down for dairy manufacturers:

Prices paid to dairy product manufacturers fell sharply in the September 2020 quarter, reversing gains in the March and June quarters, Stats NZ said today.

Despite falling 13 percent in the September quarter, the price level remains relatively high, similar to the highs observed in 2013.

“In the three months to September, prices fell for a variety of dairy products traded in the Global Dairy Trade auction, dipping from higher levels seen earlier in the year,” business prices delivery manager Bryan Downes said.  . . 

Significant Queenstown station up for sale:

One of New Zealand’s most prominent alpine properties has been listed on the open market for the first time in 40 years.

Halfway Bay Station – a phenomenal 18,000-ha station located on the shores of Queenstown’s majestic Lake Wakatipu – is now up for sale through premium real estate agency New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty (NZSIR). A large and unique landholding of this scale is likely to receive offers in excess of $50 million.

NZSIR sales associates Matt Finnigan and Russell Reddell say they are anticipating interest in the property from Kiwi residents and syndicates, expats and internationals. . .


Rural round-up

11/10/2020

Meat processing and exporting jobs in jeopardy unless specialist migrants are allowed to remain :

New Zealand’s meat processing and exporting sector faces being forced to limit production and let people go unless the Government recognises the essential role of its skilled migrant workforce.

Around a third of the country’s 250 essential halal processing workers, who help generate more than $3 billion in export earnings every year, will have to leave New Zealand next year due to the Government’s one-year stand-down policy.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA), said the loss of halal processing people — alongside hundreds of other essential meat workers — could result in reduced production and job losses in the sector, which is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Most of the 42 halal processing plants in New Zealand now operate between 10-12 months per year. A shortage of skilled halal processing people could result in production at many plants being limited to six months in the year, which would mean processing of livestock for farmers is severely disrupted and employees might be let go. . . 

Breeding beef to reduce N leaching :

Ben and Yvonne Lee weren’t born into farming but have taken it up with vigour.

They run Bluestone Herefords, 30 minutes inland from Timaru, on 600ha of tussock and rolling foothills, ranging from 300-550 metres altitude. The South Canterbury farm will mate about 300 cows this season. 

Yvonne, once a police officer, manages the farm day-to-day while Ben, formerly a lawyer, runs an animal health firm in Timaru. As stud owners, their cattle genetics are based squarely on client demand, typified by a growing call for cattle with low nitrogen output. . . 

Dairy data should delight Covid recovery monitors while discouraging industry detractors – Point of Order:

Farmers  are   back in the  frame  as  the  backbone  of  NZ’s  export economy,  after the  Covid-induced collapse of  the foreign  exchange earning capacity  of the  tourist  and international education industries.  But  it  is not  only  the  rural  industries themselves which  are  scrutinising bulletins  on  the  prices  being  earned  abroad  for  commodities.  Those data have  become a  vital  item  for  New Zealanders eager  to  monitor the recovery of an economy  battered  by a  one-in -100  year  event.

This  week  the  ANZ  reported  its  world commodity  price  index   had  eased  0.2%  in September as lower dairy and meat prices were largely offset by stronger prices for logs and fruit.

In local currency terms the index fell 1.3% as the NZ$ strengthened by 0.6% on a trade weighted index  basis during  the  month.

Hard on the heels  of those figures came   the  results   of  the latest  Fonterra  global  dairy   trade auction  where  the   average  price   strengthened  to  $US3143  a  tonne  and  wholemilk  powder (which  plays a  significant  role  on  Fonterra’s payout to  suppliers)  rose  1.7%  to  $3041  a  tonne. . . 

Clinton Young Farmer wins Otago contest – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Otago district skills final for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition was contested at Gimmberburn on Saturday.

Organised by the Maniototo Young Farmers Club, the competition attracted 10 entrants who completed 10 modules and later a quiz round.

The winner was George Blyth, of Clinton, with Josh Johanson, of Ida Valley, second, Adam Callaghan, of St Bathans, third and Matt Sullivan, of Oturehua, was fourth.

Club chairman Josh Harrex said the top four would go forward to compete in the regional final in Southland in March. . . 

Primary Industries NZ Awards finalists named:

Judges faced tough decisions choosing finalists for the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards, with no shortage of contenders.

The six independent judges deliberated over 40 nominations across the six award categories for the second annual PINZ awards, which are to be held at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington on November 23.

“More than ever New Zealand needs the primary sector to be innovative and enterprising,” Federated Farmers Chief Executive Terry Copeland says. 

“For our farmers, growers, foresters and fishers to continue to be at the top of their game as producers of quality goods exported to the world, we need suppliers and support agencies of the calibre of these finalists who can help us with cutting-edge technology and back-up.”

The finalists are: . . 

Piper in the paddock – Toni Williams:

The skirl of the pipes can be heard among the cows in Lagmhor as dairy farmer Joseph Williams plays a warm-up tune to his captive audience.

The cows are unfazed and continue grazing.

Mr Williams learned to play the bagpipes during his primary school years in his homeland of Scotland and, since relocating to New Zealand for work opportunities, has taken up with the Ashburton Pipe Band.

“There is a strong music culture at school,” he said, and the bagpipes were taken up in primary and secondary school, first learning finger movements on a practice chanter (similar to a recorder) before advancing to the bagpipes.

Mr Williams admits he wasn’t as committed to the bagpipes as he should have been through his teenage years and then flatting while at university in Aberdeen, Scotland. . . 


Rural round-up

08/05/2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro is concerned for the wellbeing of farmers as they negotiate the ongoing effects of a dry season and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said last month’s rain was “a great morale booster” for farmers in the drought-affected area in North Canterbury.

“Since that rain four weeks ago, things went pretty quiet. But it’s just a pity we haven’t had a follow-up rain and we really need a good warm follow-up rain, particularly for the farmers from Waipara north to get some growth before winter.

“It’s starting to get dry and cold in that northern part, but other than that it’s business as usual. . . 

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

The Government’s drought recovery advice fund announced today is merely a drop in the bucket for supporting farmers affected by drought, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The fund is specifically for providing affected farmers with recovery and planning advice, but does not contribute to farmers’ rising feed costs or general business costs.

“Most farmers already know what is needed to help their business recover and it is insulting for the Government to tell them they simply need to seek more advice to get through the drought. . . 

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden is disappointed that the Government is treating rural general practices the same as any other business in the community.

Bolden told Rural News that rural GPs were expecting to get two payments from the Government to assist them financially.

However, she says while they had received the first payment, Cabinet vetoed the second payment – just days before it was expected to be paid.  . .

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

The country’s meat processors have followed two distinctly different paths in response to the government’s wage subsidy scheme which is available to all businesses for 12 weeks, providing they can substantiate a 30% drop in revenue during the period. Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, ANZCO, Taylor Preston and Blue Sky Meats have all claimed the subsidy to varying extents, whereas AFFCO, Greenlea and Wilson Hellaby have decided it is not justified or necessary, at least partly on ethical grounds.

The contrast in approach has already been commented on by independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, who has slammed the two largest claimants, SFF which has claimed $43 million and Alliance $34 million, for taking advantage of taxpayer funding when they are classified as an essential business, operating in lockdown. Equally Bagrie complimented those companies not making a claim because they were getting on with business as usual. Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, he said “the wage subsidy is out there to support businesses that are getting clobbered, that are effectively in lockdown.”

I am not convinced this interpretation is either totally fair or even correct. Both SFF’s Simon Limmer and Alliance’s CEO David Surveyor are clear the wage subsidy is not a company entitlement, but is paid directly to various categories of employees: firstly it maintains standard wage rates at normal processing speeds despite the 30-50% reduction to meet distance requirements, it retains those who would have to have been terminated seasonally, and it is used to pay those who cannot work e.g. because of age,  compromised immunity or family circumstances. . .

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

CharRees Vineyard owners Charlie and Esma Hill put a call out on social media for help to harvest during lockdown.

They were so overwhelmed by community response, including some from Christchurch, they had to turn people away.

The lockdown harvest, approved by Ministry for Primary Industries as essential for food and beverage production, attracted about 20 people from Ashburton and Methven — many who had never harvested grapes before — to put their hands up to help.

The pickers worked alongside family members of the couple and vineyard workers to pick the first of three annual grape harvests. . . 

Red meat exports top $1 billion in March 2020, a first for monthly exports:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports topped $1 billion for the first time, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12 per cent on March 2019.

While overall exports to China for the month of March were down by nine per cent compared to last March as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased, demonstrating the agility and resilience of the New Zealand red meat sector. . . 

Time to take ag reform out of the “too hard basket” – Fiona Simson:

Regional Australia is well placed to be the engine that powers Australia’s COVID-19 recovery. The bush has done this before, with strong exports helping keep recession at bay during the Global Financial Crisis.

And, after a challenging period of drought, bushfires and floods, widespread rainfall has seen the fortunes of farmers begin to improve. Agriculture is ready and raring to grow.

As we dare to cast an eye to the world post-COVID-19, now is the opportune time to consider the changes agriculture and regional Australia needs to best contribute to the recovery task. . . 


Rural round-up

28/04/2020

Farmers must bide their time – Annette Scott:

The probability of a global recession is growing along with the likelihood of reduced consumer spending in all red meat markets.

The covid-19 pandemic has shifted demand for red meat away from food service to eating at home, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt said.

Just how long that will take to reverse will depend on how long it takes people to be comfortable to eat out in restaurants again.

The key for New Zealand across the supply chain will be maintaining integrity, reliability and consistency. . .

Disaster plans made – Toni Williams:

Vicki and Hamish Mee are planning a ‘‘worst case scenario’’ for stock at their Mid Canterbury free-farm piggery.

The Mees run Le Mee Farms and also have a cropping operation.

Their planning follows restrictions during the lockdown period which stop independent butchers from opening, and make any sale of pork limited to supermarket stores, other processors or retailers which were open.

As imported pork was still allowed, the Mees were preparing themselves for a different future market post-lockdown. . .

Backing ‘best fibre in the world’ – Sally Rae:

Long-time wool advocate Craig Smith says his new role as chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests is about “championing the cause of wool”.

The council is an association of organisations engaged in the production, testing, merchandising, processing, spinning and weaving of wool and allied fibres.

Mr Smith, who is general manager of Devold Wool Direct, was the first New Zealander to be appointed to the global executive committee of the International Wool Textile Organisation, and he has also been heavily involved with Campaign for Wool, a global project initiated by Prince Charles. . . 

Meat plants back to near normal – Neal Wallace:

Meat processing throughput could be back at close to maximum on Tuesday when the country’s covid-19 response level drops to level three.

Final protocols are still to be confirmed but level three restrictions should enable meat processing to be close to full production, helping address the backlog of stock waiting to be killed, which has blown out to six weeks, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Danny Hailes says.

At level three social distancing between workers drops from 2m, to 1m.

That should allow throughput for sheep to rise from  50% to 90% of plant capacity and beef from 70% to 100%. . . .

Online auction takes off – Annette Scott:

A handshake still carries weight for livestock trading firm Peter Walsh and Associates but with covid-19 it has been forced to change tack.

The lockdown changed that handshake to a tap on a keyboard as the company held to its first Livebid online auction last week. 

“With no saleyard operation we had to find new ways of moving livestock so we said ‘let’s keep it on the farm’,” Peter Walsh said.

With a smart back office team and the latest technology the independent livestock broker came up with Livebid. . .

Full fields, empty fridges – Laura Reiley:

Farmers in the upper Midwest euthanize their baby pigs because the slaughterhouses are backing up or closing, while dairy owners in the region dump thousands of gallons of milk a day. In Salinas, Calif., rows of ripe iceberg, romaine and red-leaf lettuce shrivel in the spring sun, waiting to be plowed back into the earth.

Drone footage shows a 1.5-mile-long line of cars waiting their turn at a drive-through food bank in Miami. In Dallas, schools serve well north of 500,000 meals on each service day, cars rolling slowly past stations of ice chests and insulated bags as food service employees, volunteers and substitute teachers hand milk and meal packets through the windows.

Across the country, an unprecedented disconnect is emerging between where food is produced and the food banks and low-income neighborhoods that desperately need it. American farmers, ranchers, other food producers and poverty advocates have been asking the federal government to help overcome breakdowns in a food distribution system that have led to producers dumping food while Americans go hungry. . .


Rural round-up

03/02/2020

Worst time for virus – Neal Wallace:

Coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for meat processors, analysts say.

With no one dining out, Chinese cold storage facilities are flooded with product, AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said.

“From a New Zealand perspective the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“Large-scale buying for the Chinese New Year festivities meant processors’ inventories were well-stocked going into the outbreak. 

“A large portion of the Chinese workforce remains on leave too, further slowing down the movement of product.” . . 

Fighter for free trade will be sorely missed – Federated Farmers

Many farmers will remember Mike Moore as a man who rolled up his sleeves to fight for global trade liberalisation and making things better for New Zealanders in general.

“He was brimming with talent and positivity and wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said. “Who can forget his tireless efforts to promote the lamb burger? He took quite a bit of stick for that but was ahead of his time in terms of creating markets for our products.”

For his roles with the World Trade Organisation and as our ambassador to the United States he was away from the home shores he loved, but he continued to strive for the interests of Kiwis. . .

Farmers encouraged to open their gates to connect with urban New Zealand:

Greg and Rachel Hart are opening their Mangarara Station gates on Open Farms Day (Sunday 1 March), and inviting urban Kiwis to learn about their how they farm first-hand.

The Hart family are on a mission to connect New Zealanders with what they eat, how they live, and back to the farm where it all begins.

Greg Hart says, “When we learned about Open Farms Day, it was a no-brainer for us.”

“We love sharing Mangarara Station and offering the farm as a place where people can connect back to the land.” . . .

Walking a mile in her gumboots – Cheyenne Nicholson :

Matamata farmer Ella Wharmby feels more at home in the back paddocks than shopping in the high street. Farming was not her first choice but fate had different ideas. She tells Cheyenne Nicholson how she found her calling.

As the saying goes, you can’t fully understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And if you swapped the shoes for gumboots, Waikato farmer Ella Wharmby could tell you a thing or two about that.  

Looking at her now, it is hard to believe that she had barely stepped foot on a farm before embarking on a career that would see her combine her passion for food, animals and the outdoors. 

“Having not come from a farming background I now realise how far removed we’ve become from the food chain,” Ella says. . . 

Kiwigrowers to help pay for $18m Queensland fruit fly response:

Kiwifruit growers will fork out around a million dollars toward a year-long operation to eradicate the Queensland fruit fly.

An $18 million biosecurity response in Auckland finished on Friday, with New Zealand declared once again free of the pest.

The total cost will mostly be covered by the government, but industry groups will also have to chip in. . . 

Rothesay Deer operation grew to take over entire farm – Toni Williams:

Rothesay Deer owner Donald Greig has been building up the genetics of his English and composite deer operation for more than three decades.

The farm, near Methven, is spread over three sites but the home block has been in the family for two generations.

The land the stag block is on is an extension of the original farm secured by his father, Tom Greig, following World War 2.

That land was part of a rehabilitation block for ex-servicemen to use for farming after the war. . .

 

Site builds under way at Southern Field Days near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

As trucks roll into the Southern Field Days site at Waimumu to start setting up the South Island’s largest agricultural trade fair, the event secretary has a lot on her plate.

There’s phone calls from exhibitors, a third reprint of 4000 day passes to organise, and a gale warning from the Metservice which may have slowed down progress on putting marquees up.

It’s still two weeks until the crowds begin to flock to Field Days, but the site was a hive of activity already. . . 


Rural round-up

22/11/2019

Jane Smith on what urban people really think about farmers:

Although the Government may be “factose intolerant” when it comes to farming, urban people are hungry for more information says Jane Smith.

The North Otago farmer told The Country’s Jamie Mackay that she had “some really robust conversations with urbanites” in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown recently.

“I’ve in effect sort of run my own referendum of what they really think about farmers and gosh, it’s been really insightful”. . .

Farmers fear significant losses – Toni Miller:

As farmers anxiously await the outcome of the Government’s Essential Freshwater plan, Ashburton farmer David Clark has outlined the significant losses it could have on his arable farm operation.

It includes crop income losses of 92%, sheep gross income losses of 62% and an expenditure decrease of 70%, affecting businesses, contractors and services in the district used by the farm.

He questioned how any government could suggest a plan that resulted in ”such economic vandalism”.

Mr Clark, attending a public meeting in Ashburton, organised by National Party opposition agricultural spokesman Todd Muller, said it was a comparative analysis based on a report done by Environment Canterbury’s head scientist Dr Tim Davie in 2017, using similar cutbacks for the Waihora Selwyn Zone. . .

Farmers fear loss of millions as slip repair wait continues – Aaron van Delden:

Waikura Valley farmers face missing out on millions in income during one of their most lucrative seasons of the year following a road slip three months ago.

Access to about 9000 hectares of some of the country’s most isolated productive land – about four hours’ drive north of Gisborne – was completely severed for several days when a slip came down on Waikura Road about 15km from the turnoff on State Highway 35.

The slip on 22 August left 36 valley residents from 13 households stranded in a part of the country that averages up to 3m of rain a year. . .

OAD milking brings environmental, financial benefits – Yvonne O’Hara:

Milking once a day year-round has both environmental and financial benefits, Dipton dairy farmer Jim Andrew says.

Mr Andrew and his wife Sandra bought and converted the Lumsden-Dipton highway property specifically for once-a-day milking full time, about 10 years ago.

He was born and bred on a Wairarapa sheep and beef farm before moving to Southland to become a rural manager for the Bank of New Zealand.

The Andrews then bought their own farm as part of a syndicate before buying the Dipton property. . .

Apple industry changes prompt some growers to get environmentally creative with plastic waste:

Significant growth and redevelopment in the apple industry has prompted some growers to get environmentally creative with the way they dispose of kilometres of plastic irrigation pipes.

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand, pulled out 80 kilometres of irrigation pipes during winter and has teamed up with Aotearoa New Zealand Made to recycle it into black damp-proof film for the building Industry and black rubbish bags.

Bostock New Zealand Orchard waste coordinator Lisa Arnold said the initiative is a good way to give a new meaningful life to orchard waste. . .

Promising signs for drive for milling wheat self-sufficiency:

A big drop in the amount of unsold cereal grain since July, and continuing strong demand for milling wheat, are key features of the latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey.

It is estimated unsold stocks of cereal grain, summed over all six crops, reduced by 44% between 1 July and 10 October.  “That’s a good sign, even if deliveries hadn’t happened by the time of the October survey, that people have been meeting the market and getting product sold,” Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

Total production from the 2019 harvest (wheat, barley and oats) was 799,900 tonnes, about 25,000t up on the 2018 harvest. . .


Rural round-up

11/11/2019

Farmers back Fonterra mostly – Neal Wallace:

The prevailing mood might have been optimism among Fonterra shareholders at the annual meeting but a residual bitterness lingered, evidenced by two calls for chairman John Monaghan’s resignation.

About 200 shareholders attended the meeting in Invercargill on Thursday at which shareholders Jan-Maarten Kingma and Peter Moynihan both called for Monaghan’s head, saying there needs to be accountability for the decisions leading to Fonterra’s poor financial performance.

After the meeting Monaghan said he was not surprised by the resignation calls or the contrasting mood of the meeting, which reflected the broad church that is the co-operative. . . 

Learning from experience – Colin Williscroft:

Working the land is a challenging business at the best of times and for Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Ben and Libby Tosswill it’s important to focus on what they can change and try not to loose too much sleep over what they can’t, as Colin Williscroft found.

Ben and Libby Tosswill have been farming at Birch Hill Station for about 10 years, having returned to New Zealand from London where they worked in corporate finance and banking.

Trading the bright lights of the big city for the open landscape of Hawke’s Bay hill country has been a big change but the couple relish the lifestyle it’s provided them and their three boys – Fletcher, 8, Alex, 6, and Jack, 2. . .

Fit bits for cows? Tracking collars aim to reveal bovine personalities – Maja Burry and Simon Rogers:

It’s hoped new research looking at the different grazing personalities of Hereford cows will help high country farmers better use their land.

Lincoln University PHD candidate Cristian Moreno is using GPS tracking collars to monitor the differences in how some cows in the same herd graze and to establish which genetic and environmental factors influence their behaviour.

Mr Moreno said while he was still in the early stages of analysing the five million GPS data points that he had collected, he’d already found some cows would tend to walk about 2km in a day, while others would more than double that. . . 

New chairwoman in charge at trust – Toni Williams:

Jane Riach has taken over the helm on the board of Kanuka Mid Canterbury Regeneration Trust, helping to balance biodiversity, predator control and planting for purpose in the district.

Mrs Riach, who was approached to take on the chairwoman’s role, is equipped with organisational skills to help keep trust members on track and moving in the right direction.

She says the trust team was full of people already passionate about the work they were doing and had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.

She, and husband Hamish, who is chief executive officer at Ashburton District Council, have been in town for just over a year, and Mrs Riach is already an active member in the Ashburton community. . . 

Meet Steve the seaweed man

As a horse-riding musterer on the wild Wairarapa coast, Steve Matthews used to watch deer gathering on the beach to feast on seaweed thrown up by the rough seas.

On retirement, he was inspired to start his own small business foraging and selling the stuff. Demand is huge but he plans to stay small-scale unless new regulations put him out of business.

Steve was brought up in Titahi Bay and has lived on rugged Wairarapa coast most of his life, shepherding and later managing a couple of farms.

“I was always on the beach as a kid… I love the sea.” . . 

Farmers helped to come up with carbon reduction plans – Conan Young:

Moving dairy cows indoors could be part of the answer to bringing down emissions on farms.

Farmers faced having five years to come up with their own tool to price and pay for the carbon and methane coming off their properties or being forced by the government to join the Emissions Trading Scheme.

For the first time since the ETS was introduced over a decade ago, there was a very real prospect of farmers being charged for their climate change inducing emissions. . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2019

Meetings show farm frustration – Colin Williscroft:

High farmer turnouts at meetings trying to explain the Government’s freshwater proposals show the degree of frustration the sector is feeling, Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Robinson says.

Robinson, who attended a meeting a meeting in Napier that attracted 300 to 400 farmers and growers said he and just about everyone else there do not disagree with the proposals’ objectives. It is the approach causing frustration among farmers.

Frustration was also the overwhelming feeling at a meeting in Carterton, targeted specifically at farmers and growers, Farmers Weekly columnist Alan Emerson said. . .

Fonterra faces painful reality – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra has confirmed a farmgate milk price of $6.35/kg MS for last season while recording a net loss after tax of $605 million, an improvement on the forecast loss of up to $675m.

It had sales revenue of $20.1 billion, down 2% with operating expenses of $2.3b, down 7% and capital spending of $600m, down 30%.

Th co-op is reshuffling its management team with its global operations chief operating officer Robert Spurway the only casualty. Fonterra said he chose to leave to return to directly running a company.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell said 2019 was incredibly tough for the co-op but also the year Fonterra made decisions to set it up for future success. . .

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell: ,I knew 100% what I was getting in to’ :

Financial results media scrum over, two interviews with journalists down and a swag more scheduled, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell’s baby face is starting to take on some harder edges.

It’s been a marathon couple of months leading to Thursday’s formal presentation of the dairy cooperative’s grim annual results, tempered only slightly by the simultaneous unveiling of a bright and shiny new business strategy.

There are only so many times a man can smile while saying “mea culpa New Zealand”. . .

From city to country: Award-winning shepherd kicks career goals.

It’s a brisk winter’s night as Kristy Roa and her teammates jog onto a floodlit sports field in Gisborne.

The 20-year-old shepherd heads for the nearest goal, pulling on a clean set of goalkeeper’s gloves as she goes.

A whistle sounds and it’s not long before a muddy soccer ball is hurtling towards the left corner of the goal. . .

Farmers look after rare mudfish – Toni Williams:

Arable farmer Ian Mackenzie and his wife Diana, opened their Eiffelton property in Mid Canterbury to Foundation for Arable Research’s Women In Arable group, to have a close up look at how farming and environmental protection can work hand in hand.

Mr Mackenzie, a third generation farmer on the Akaunui Farm site, spoke about the efforts to help protect the endangered mudfish which live in the farm’s Purakaunui Creek.

The Mackenzies, even after more than 25 years dealing with mudfish on farm, were still learning about the rare breed, as there were few people who knew a lot about them. . .

Dubbo to host life facilitator Viv Adcock who can talk to animals including livestock – Lucy Kinbacher:

A life facilitator who says she can talk to animals will visit Dubbo in October to offer livestock producers an opportunity to better understand their animals needs.

Sunshine Coast based woman Viv Adcock will visit the property of Merino sheep breeders, the Coddington family, from October 11 to 13 to talk to their animals about a range of topics including nutrition, handling and welfare. Her work is based on building a connection with animals, along with using body language, to perceive an animal’s behaviour.

Ms Adcock said often failure to fall pregnant, lack of production or low yields for either meat or fleece were signals of bigger problems. . .

 


Rural round-up

27/09/2019

Southland farmer pens powerful open letter to Jacinda Ardern – Esther Taunton:

A Southland farmer has written a powerful “open letter” to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, urging her to hear farmers’ concerns over proposed freshwater standards.

Ashley Lester’s letter said the eight-week consultation period on the Government’s policy reforms fell during the farm’s busiest time of year.

“To clarify, my team are working 12-hour days to take care of my stock, seven days a week,” she wrote. . .

Water, Protest and Engaging with the Process — September 2019 – Elbow Deep:

The Ministry for the Environment is holding a series of meetings around the country as part of their consultation process for the discussion document Action for Healthy Waterways.

Once the consultation has finished and all the submissions have been summarised, the Ministry will pass their advice on to Cabinet who will then issue a National Policy Statement for Freshwater.

That’s it. There’s no select committee hearing and no need for a law change, the NPS will provide direction to regional and district councils as to how they should carry out their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act.

Realising I needed to learn a lot more about the proposals I attended the Ashburton meeting along with some three hundred other concerned locals, and I’m very glad I did because I learned a lot. Not from the officials giving the presentation, as you might expect, but from the well informed members of the audience. . . 

 

Can Fonterra find a fresh future from a curdled past? – Gyles Beckford:

In 2001 the country’s dairy industry elite unveiled plans for a colossus to bestride the globe.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter needed a name – and the ad-men dreamed up Fonterra – a word derived from the Latin phrase ‘fons de terra’ meaning “spring from the land”.

Inaugural chairman John Roadley said the new name would initially mean little to shareholders, staff and the public.

“Our challenge is to ensure Fonterra means something special to our shareholders, our staff and all New Zealanders within our first year,” he said. . .

Fonterra creates jobs in South Taranaki after job cuts, $605 million loss announced – Jane Matthews:

As it struggles to deal with record $605 million losses, dairy giant Fonterra has set out a plan create more than 30 jobs at its South Taranaki site.

But Eltham’s 34-job gain has come at the cost of 65 in Paraparaumu, north of Wellington, where the company is closing a speciality cheese factory.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell announced the move on Thursday as the company revealed its massive losses during the last financial year. . .

Family turns boutique cheese maker – Toni Williams:

A boutique sheep-milking operation on the edge of Ashburton town is making cheese in the district while the sun still shines.

But decisions on its future will need to be made soon.

Hipi Cheese, owned and operated by Jacy and Allan Ramsay, of Ashburton, started more than four years ago as they worked through their sheep milking processes. Their first milking was in November 2017.

The couple, who both work other jobs, have a micro-farm block of just under 2ha which stocks 24 mostly East Friesian milking ewes but in the past few seasons has included Dairymead genetics with ”a dash of Awassi” . . .

Crops thirsty for more rain – Matt Wallis:

With no substantial rain and the forecast leaving us forever guessing, crops have “hit the wall” as soil moisture reserves have all but depleted coinciding with above average daytime temperatures, wind and multiple frost events.

The current state of the NSW crop is far from perfect and at a crucial stage now of pod filling and flowering while northern Victoria is now beginning to experience symptoms of the NSW crop as the conditions push further south.

While time may be on the side of those further south of the Murrumbidgee, much like Geelong’s chance of adding another premiership to the cabinet, the hour glass is quickly running out. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/09/2019

‘Cut the red tape binding Fonterra’ – Pam Tipa:

The time has come to reduce aspects of Fonterra’s regulatory burden, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

National opposed the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment (DIRA) Bill at its first reading.

Competitive pressure — rather than half-baked regulation — should drive the dairy market forward, Muller says.

“National believes it is vital we have an efficient and innovative dairy industry that supports the long term interests of farmers and consumers. This means having a strong Fonterra, strong smaller manufacturers and a robust domestic liquid milk and retail market.” . . .

Hawke’s Bay shepherd seizes agri-food sector opportunities

Chris Hursthouse is proof you don’t have to grow up on a farm to be successful in the agri-food sector.

The 22-year-old is a shepherd for the R+C Buddo Trust at Poukawa, near Hastings in Hawke’s Bay.

The trust finishes 15,000 lambs and 500 bulls a year across four blocks totalling 825 hectares.

“The operation has a big emphasis on using plantain and clover forage.  . . 

Poultry virus likely at Otago chicken farm

A poultry virus is highly likely to be present at an Otago egg farm which is now under voluntary biosecurity controls.

Biosecurity New Zealand is managing the possible outbreak of Infectious Bursal Disease Virus type 1 at the Mainland Poultry egg farm in Waikouaiti.

The virus poses no risk to human health or the health of other animals, but can affect the health of infected chickens.

Testing of other South Island layer and meat chicken farms is underway.
In the meantime Biosecurity New Zealand has stopped issuing export certificates for the export of chicken products to countries which require New Zealand to be free of the virus. . . 

MPI pair helping farmers through `M. bovis’ process– Toni Williams:

Empowering farmers working through the Mycoplasma bovis process involves Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) regional managers Charlotte Austin and Lydia Pomeroy working long hours.

But, as a way of being prepared to fight for their cases and keeping up to date with the issues, it is something they are only too happy to do.

”We certainly lose sleep, but we also understand that it’s not nearly as big an impact on us.

”That’s why we will quite happily work a 12, 13 or 14-hour day ‘cos we understand that these individuals are living it,” said Ms Austin, speaking to media after the recent Mid Canterbury Mycoplasma bovis Advisory Group meeting in Ashburton.

Included in the group are others from MPI, Federated Farmers, Canterbury District Health Board, Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury and Ashburton District Council. . . 

Expect more disruption – Nigel Malthus:

Food and fibre is the most “activist disrupted” sector globally, second only to petroleum, says KPMG’s global head of agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot.

“People desperately want us to grow more food, but how it’s being grown is challenging people and causing them to think clearly about what they expect,” Proudfoot said.

He told the Silver Fern Farms annual farmers’ conference that they could choose to see disruption as either a threat or an opportunity.

The fourth industrial revolution is underway, melding the biological, physical and digital, he said.  . .

Rain-resistant wheat variety developed using genome editing :

Scientists have created a rain-resistant wheat variety using genome-editing technology, a breakthrough that could lead to the development of higher-quality flour.

The research team from the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and Okayama University said genome editing enabled them to develop the variety in just about a year.

It takes nearly 10 years to develop such a wheat species using conventional breeding technology because the plants must be bred over generations.

The wheat used for the study is not a species currently sold on the market, but the team believes the method utilized could someday succeed in developing an edible variety resistant to rain. . .


Rural round-up

30/08/2019

Dairy farmers have ‘stepped up’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy farmers are not getting the credit they deserve for stepping up their game to improve their practices, dairy farmer and industry climate change ambassador Dean Alexander believes.

He and wife Suzanne winter 1200 cows on two flat 179ha and 242ha platforms effective near Winton.

”As an industry, we have made huge innovations in the past 10 to 15 years, which has been driven by regulations,” Mr Alexander said.

”Changes needed to happen and we have stepped up our game and ought to get credit for the progress we have made.”

He said the quality of water into waterways and estuaries had improved compared to 20 to 30 years ago. . .

Role of red meat in a healthy diet is globally recognised – Rod Slater:

I was saddened to read the article Hospitals should lead the way by cutting out meat (August 20) by Professor John Potter. He has a huge amount of experience and, unfortunately, he used every ounce of it to produce a thoroughly disingenuous and misleading piece of writing.

Firstly, I would like to address his criticisms of Dietitians NZ (DNZ). DNZ provided a statement in response to the Ministry of Health (MoH) releasing a report which suggested less meat and dairy in the health sector to reduce the impact on the environment, in what seems to be a move by the MoH that is severely deficient in local context. 

DNZ is entirely independent and performs a vital role in representing the nutrition scientists who have made it their life’s work to understand and advise on diet and health matters. For Prof Potter to discredit its response on the basis of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s “support” of DNZ is ludicrous. . . .

New grass could reduce methane emissions from animals – Maja Burry:

New Zealand scientists trialling a potentially environmentally sustainable grass in the United States hope to study its effects on animals in the next two years.

The genetically modified ryegrass has been developed by the Crown Research Institute, AgResearch, at its grasslands centre in Palmerston North.

Modelling has found it can grow up to 50 percent faster than conventional ryegrass, it is more resistant to drought and could reduce methane emissions from animals.

Trials are now progressing in the mid-west of the US, where genetically modified organisms can be field tested outside of the lab. . . 

 IrrigationNZ responds to Waitangi Tribunal report on national freshwater – changes to New Zealand’s water allocation framework:

IrrigationNZ says that the timing of the Waitangi Tribunal report and recommendations on freshwater and geothermal resources puts Māori rights and interests in freshwater firmly back in the public spotlight, just when the Government is set to release a raft of policy changes under the ‘Essential Freshwater’ package.

“We are in favour of the Waitangi Tribunal report’s recommendation to establish a body to oversee future water governance and management, including whether a Water Act is required to provide a new framework for freshwater,” says Elizabeth Soal, Chief executive of IrrigationNZ.

“We agree, and firmly believe, that New Zealand needs a national water strategy and a body to oversee this strategy so that this precious resource can be used and allocated for the benefit of all,” says Ms Soal. . . 

MPI pair helping farmers through `M. bovis’ process – Toni Williams:

Empowering farmers working through the Mycoplasma bovis process involves Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) regional managers Charlotte Austin and Lydia Pomeroy working long hours.

But, as a way of being prepared to fight for their cases and keeping up to date with the issues, it is something they are only too happy to do.

”We certainly lose sleep, but we also understand that it’s not nearly as big an impact on us.

”That’s why we will quite happily work a 12, 13 or 14-hour day ‘cos we understand that these individuals are living it,” said Ms Austin, speaking to media after the recent Mid Canterbury Mycoplasma bovis Advisory Group meeting in Ashburton. . .

What’s our beef with beef? – Helen Browning:

Red meat is not inherently unsustainable, despite recent headlines – it’s how it is farmed that matters.

A new report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for us to make radical changes to the way we farm and eat to prevent further global warming. But what did the IPPC report actually say on meat eating? Were the NFU and others right to say reporting was misleading?

As ever, the issues are complex, hard to convey accurately in an eye-catching headline or a snappy tweet.

The IPCC is clear that, on a global level, ruminant livestock – that’s cattle and sheep – carry a high greenhouse gas footprint. This leads to the conclusion that if we eat less red meat, we can reduce these emissions. . .


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