Rural round-up

November 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

September 29, 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

September 27, 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

September 4, 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

August 30, 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. . .


Rural round-up

June 22, 2019

Making a bigger boom – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Jacqueline Rowarth contemplates the best way to create the next big noise, whether revolutionary or disruptive, in the agricultural sector.

Before the iPod, there were boomboxes. ‘Cool’ people held large-speaker music machines on their shoulders polluting the environment with their choice of music noise as they rocked past.

A man named Jonathan Ive changed all that. His ear buds and compact devices revolutionised the music experience. Jonathan Ive also invented the iMac, iPhone and iPad.

He had a team of about 15 people working with him, but he is the design genius. And he says that to truly make a difference, you have to think about the problem, identify how to make the experience better, and then be prepared to pour money into it. . . 

Iwi land makes strong income -Richard Rennie:

Maori business investment through iwi ownership is playing an increasing role in the primary sector.

Statistics New Zealand said Maori authority businesses generated a record surplus before tax of $720 million in 2017. 

Iwi assets have grown on average 7% a year between 2012 and 2017 to total $20 billion. 

Maori agricultural assets comprise 13% or $2.6 billion with the bulk held as land. 

Iwi agricultural assets generated income of $337m in 2017 with a surplus before tax of $56m, up from $42m in 2012. . . 

Institute member for 50 years honoured – Toni Williams:

After a lifetime of helping others in her community, and beyond, Mid Canterbury Federation of Women’s Institutes president Mavis Wilkins has been awarded the highest honour in the Women’s Institute (WI), a Gold Honours Badge.

Mrs Wilkins, a member of Lowcliffe WI, was one of just five women around the country to be awarded the national badge this year. The others were from the West Coast, Buller, Manawatu and Papamoa Beach.

The award, nominated by Netherby WI president Denise Clark and former-Mid Canterbury Federation president Jude Vaughan, acknowledged Mrs Wilkins’ 52 years of active service with WI, including work with Rural Support Trust, Civil Defence Emergency Management Canterbury, on the Suffrage 125 Steering Group, 20 years with ACWW Pacific Region Projects group and her WI Good Service Badge, presented in 1990. . . 

Pāmu commits to wool insulation in housing stock:

Pāmu has committed to upgrading the insulation in its South Island farmhouses and all new house stock with insulation produced with recycled wool.

Pāmu has over 500 houses on farms across New Zealand, housing its workers and their families, and Chief Executive Steve Carden says it is important that all homes are well insulated.

“As landlords, we are committed to ensuring our staff accommodation is well insulated against the extreme weather many of our farm housing experiences.” . . 

Congratulations to George Bunnett from Craggy Range – Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019:

George Bunnett from Craggy Range became the Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019 on 20 June following the competition held at Te Kairanga in Martinborough.

Congratulations also to Hilary Forster from Matahiwi for being Runner Up.

It was a bright, frosty start but lovely blue skies for the contestants to compete amongst the vines as they rotated around a range of practical and theoretical challenges as well as going head to head in the BioStart Hortisports race at lunchtime. This race included viticultural challenges such as pruning, netting and putting together some irrigation, but also included some fun elements such as bread & cheese tasting as well as creating a bunch of grapes from play dough. . . 

Argentina to authorize a new GMO stacked cotton

AgroIndustry secretariat opened the public hearings before to release new GMO cotton. In this occasion, it treats about the SYN IR 102-7 trait that confers to the crop insect resistance via VIPCot technology and the stacking of this trait with other four that confers cotton resistance to glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides, and insects (lepidopters) via three action-modes.

The public hearings (non-binding) will be open until May 25th. Since the first GMO cotton released in 1998 (MON 1445 or insect resistance), in 2009 Argentine Government authorized the stack MON 531 x MON 1445 or glyphosate and insect resistance, in 2015 the BCS-GHØØ2-5 x ACS-GHØØ1-3 GHB614xLLCotton25 (glufosinate, glyphosate and insect resistance by Bayer), and in 2019 the HPD and glyphosate herbicide-resistant cotton (solicited by BASF).

“This means that biotechnology companies have confidence in the future of the cotton production in the country”, a http://www.eFarmNewsAr.com source told after knew the public hearing. “We are expecting the soon commercial launching of this necessary technologies”, they added. . .


Rural round-up

May 25, 2019

Plant patties may not be any healthier than beef burgers, expert says – Esther Taunton:

They’re touted as better for both people and the planet, but highly-processed plant-based “meats” may not be healthier than red meat, an expert says.

BurgerFuel this month became New Zealand’s first nationwide burger chain to add plant-based patties made by California-based company Beyond Meat to its menu.

Based on pea protein, the patties are free from gluten, soy, dairy and genetically modified organisms. . .

Science to fore in reducing stress – Toni Williams:

Our brain is working 10 times faster than ever predicted possible. We’ve lost control,” says resilience speaker and crisis negotiator Lance Burdett.

It has led to overthinking with increased negative thoughts, sleep problems and much worse.

And people needed to learn how to turn their brains off, he said.

Mr Burdett, the founder of WARN International, was in Ashburton May 9 to speak at an event hosted by the Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury. It was part of a national tour. Around 130 people attended . . 

BrightSIDE offers career advice for farm workers

It’s not ”rocket science”, South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) committee member Amy Johnston says.

She and other committee members have put together BrightSIDE, an afternoon session during the dairy conference on June 25, which is specifically for farm workers, and focuses on career progression.

Mrs Johnston, who, along with husband Graeme, is a 50/50 sharemilker on two farms with 900 cows, wants to encourage dairy farm owners and employers to pay the $100 fee for their staff to attend. . . 

Farm replacing beef with koura :

A Maori farming partnership near Lake Taupo, which began to diversify 10 years to lower nitrogen impact, is experiencing wide-ranging benefits and opportunities.

Tuatahi Farming Partnership, which farms 6000 hectares of high country land in the catchment above Lake Taupo, was one of the first and largest landowners to strike a deal with the newly established Lake Taupo Protection Trust to protect the long-term future of the lake.

Tuatahi sold 28 tonnes of its nitrogen footprint to the trust for $10 million and sold carbon credits from tree planting to Mercury Energy. . .

Harvesting the benefits of diversity – Jenny Ling

A Northland couple run a diverse operation consisting of three business units. Jenny Ling reports.

Northland farmers Shane and Dot Dromgool already run a successful dairy and beef operation but recently branched out into the world of viticulture in a bold bid to diversify their business.

The couple run a robust operation, Longview Shorthorns, farming pedigree beef Shorthorn cattle on the outskirts of Kerikeri. It consists of a 300ha beef unit and a 200ha dairy operation. . .

Big Data has arrived for commercial sheep production. Can the effort required to harness it pay dividends? – Jamie Brown:

Big data is coming to a small production enterprise near you. Is it worth the time and money to embrace it?

Speakers at Saturday’s Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association conference in Armidale gave numerous examples of how computer assisted problem solving will directly benefit producers, and smooth speed bumps along the supply chain – with potential to bring premium prices. . .


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