Rural round-up

February 3, 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

November 22, 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

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. . .


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