Rural round-up

June 12, 2020

Experts call for review of regenerative farming ‘mythology’ –  Sally Rae;

Two prominent plant science academics have called for the establishment of an expert panel of scientists to review claims made about regenerative agriculture.

In a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Dr Derrick Moot, a professor of plant science at Lincoln University, and retired senior lecturer Dr Warwick Scott said they were concerned about the “mythology” of regenerative agriculture “and its worrying increased profile in the New Zealand media and farming sectors”.

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers had world-leading agricultural practices and the underpinning scientific principles of the country’s current agricultural systems were in danger of being devalued by a system they believed had several serious shortcomings, they said.

They were particularly concerned the “erroneous publicity” about regenerative agriculture would divert the limited New Zealand agricultural science resources from more important, substantive issues.

To define regenerative agriculture was difficult, the pair said. . . 

Dairy industry needs skilled, willing workers, wherever they’re from – Esther Taunton:

“New Zealand’s dairy industry has a shortage of skilled and willing workers.”

It’s a simple sentence so why does such a large chunk of the non-dairy farming population seem to have a problem understanding the key words – “skilled” and “willing”?

When Stuff ran the story of two South Island farmers desperately trying to get their skilled migrant workers back across our closed borders before the start of calving, it took just minutes for the keyboard warriors to roll out the same tired accusations and arguments.

“Serves them right for choosing migrants over Kiwis!” they cried.

But they didn’t. Not without trying to find Kiwi workers first, anyway. Because even if they didn’t want to employ New Zealanders, farmers have a legal obligation to advertise for local staff before they’re able to start recruiting offshore. . . 

Strong 2019/20 financial result for Zespri helps support regional New Zealand:

2019/20 Financial Results Summary:
• Total Operating revenue: NZ$3.36 billion
• Total fruit sales revenue: NZ$3.14 billion
• Total New Zealand-grown fruit and service payments: $1.96 billion
• New Zealand and Non-New Zealand trays sold: 164.4 million trays
• Zespri’s net profit after tax NZ$200.8 million
• Expected Total Dividends: NZ$0.94

Almost NZ$2 billion was returned to New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry following Zespri’s 2019/20 season, helping support thousands of businesses, workers and regional communities around the country.

Zespri’s 2019/20 Financial Results show total fruit and service payments, which are returns direct to the New Zealand industry, increased by 8 percent year on year to NZ$1.96 billion. . . 

Meating’ the need:

While COVID-19 lockdown rules have now been eased, many New Zealand foodbanks remain under huge pressure as breadwinners lose their jobs and savings run dry.

To help keep up with this demand and to provide something a bit different from the regular food box items, a charity set up by farmers is connecting donated produce from farmers with processors and foodbanks.

‘Meat The Need’ was founded by South Island farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley. Since it started in mid-April, meat from more than 200 animals, including cattle, sheep and deer, has been donated to food banks around the South Island, enough for a staggering 90,000 meals for vulnerable families! . . 

Expos aimed at creating win-win – Tracey Roxburgh:

A Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) initiative is hoping to create a win-win from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

The SIT is holding two Agricultural Redeployment Expos, one each in Queenstown and Te Anau, this week, hoping to attract people who may have lost jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector to retrain in the agricultural sector, which is facing a shortage of about 150 skilled machinery operators this year.

Annually, the agriculture sector has sought fill those roles with workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, in particular, but given border closures this year due to the global pandemic, that will not be possible. . . 

Native plants sequester carbon for longer – Marc Daalder:

A new study indicates native plants, despite their tendency to grow more slowly than exotic species like Pinus Radiata, are better at storing carbon in the soil for longer periods of time, Marc Daalder reports

Exotic plant species release 150 percent more carbon dioxide from the soil than native New Zealand plants, according to a new study from the Bio-Protection Research Centre published in Science.

The research is the latest development in an extended scientific debate over whether to prioritise planting native or exotic species to increase biodiversity and fight climate change.

While it doesn’t upset the longstanding scientific consensus that faster-growing plants sequester more carbon – and that exotic species planted outside their usual range will grow faster – the study does complicate the picture of the carbon cycle. . . 

Time for EU to commit to level playing field for trade:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU.

Details leaked ahead of the 8th round of EU-NZ FTA negotiations have revealed the EU is seeking to maintain an extreme level of market access restriction against New Zealand dairy exports. The leaked EU market access offer comes despite both parties having committed to ‘work towards a deep, comprehensive, and high-quality Free Trade Agreement’.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, says the reported EU offer, comprised of miniscule quota volumes and high in-quota tariffs, could never credibly form part of a free trade agreement between the economies. . . 


Rural round-up

February 5, 2018

Markets in danger – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is at risk of causing global market jitters if its biosecurity doesn’t stand up to international scrutiny, Anzco livestock and agribusiness general manager Grant Bunting says.

Lack of accountability, farmer confusion, inadequate animal traceability and too many pushing their own agendas were key factors contributing to a situation with potential to end in disaster for the meat industry. 

Bunting called for accountability and was not alone.

“There are wider industry stakeholders and other processing facilities that share the same concern.”

While Mycoplasma bovis and the Ministry for Primary Industries response was clearly the topic of the moment, the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme had much to answer. . . 

Camp vision brought to life – Tracey Roxburgh:

Almost four years to the day after United States philanthropists Debbi and Paul Brainerd bought a 1.6ha site in Glenorchy, the doors will officially open on their pioneering Camp Glenorchy project, which will be the most sustainable camping ground in the southern hemisphere, if not the world. Queenstown reporter Tracey Roxburgh got a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the project at the head of the lake is progressing.

It’s one thing to take a tour of a building site crawling with contractors erecting frames, digging holes and assembling roofs, and hear about what it will eventually look like — it’s quite another to go back 12 months later and see the vision brought to life.

In March 2014 Debbi and Paul Brainerd, United States-based philanthropists, bought the 1.6ha  Glenorchy Holiday Park and then  four surrounding properties which now comprise the “Glenorchy Marketplace Project”.

It will open to the public in March. In December  the first certificate of public use certificates were issued by the Queenstown Lakes District Council for five of the camp’s cabins ahead of the first guests arriving on December 20 — part of a “soft opening” to test everything and make sure it was up to scratch.  . . 

Greater penalties for stock thieves:

A Bill designed to deter livestock theft will be introduced to Parliament today under the name of National MP Ian McKelvie.

Mr McKelvie says his Bill intends to introduce stricter measures for sentencing judges to draw on when sentencing thieves caught stock rustling.

“The current law offers no deterrent and the penalties don’t reflect the gravity of the crime or the likely suffering of an animal being slaughtered by a rank amateur. . . 

Second Highest Karaka Yearling Sale result:

The National Yearling Sales has recorded its second highest turnover in its 91 year history.

Over 900 horses were sold at Karaka for a combined aggregate of $97,017,750, smashing last years total of $82,015,500.

The highest combined aggregate was reached in 2008 when $111,148,850 was spent at the iconic New Zealand Sale. . . 

Can Australia’s feedlots compete? -John Carter:

It is invariably said that most of a beast’s breeding goes down its neck. A tour of a feedlot, beginning at the inception pens, confirms the saying. “Genetics” improves with the days on feed. 

Good nutrition is essential in producing good meat. However, Australia is heavily handicapped in the world’s food production race.

Ours is, in general, a tired, burnt out, continent with soil poisoned by our eucalyptus trees. 

Our city-centric governments have allowed developers to cover some of our most productive land with concrete. . . 

 

French seed group says GMO protests could force R&D relocation:

Limagrain, the world’s fourth-largest seed maker, will consider moving its research activities out of France if field trials in its home market continue to be sabotaged by opponents of genetically modified crops.

The French cooperative group was targeted last month by protestors who invaded test fields southeast of Paris and scattered non-commercial seed. That was the latest in a series of actions by opponents of gene-editing technology, which they say will herald a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Limagrain said the incident ruined a 37-hectare trial of wheat based on conventional breeding and showed the risk of a repeat of virulent debate over GMOs. . . 

It’s all aobut inches in farming life and football – Andrew Osmond:

Do you ever wonder what NFL football coaches say to their players during a big game? That’s the challenge for Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles, the men whose teams will compete this Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Perhaps they’ll turn to the words of a fictional counterpart. In the 1999 movie “Any Given Sunday,” veteran Coach Tony D’Amato [Al Pacino] delivers one of the greatest inspirational sports speeches, ever.

Pacino challenges his team to win the game “inch by inch, play by play.”

This is a football speech, in a locker room, at half time.  For me, it’s also a speech about farming. And life.

Please hear me out on this and let me explain, the idea’s not as strange as it sounds.

Pacino’s character begins by calling the game “the biggest battle of our professional lives.” Then he makes an almost philosophical point: “You find out life’s this game of inches.”

The same is true for farming. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 20, 2016

43 jobs axed at Mossburn works – Simon Hartley:

Silver Fern Farms has axed more 43 Mossburn meatworkers’ jobs as it rationalises killing shed numbers across the country.

While the closure is vaunted as an ”opportunity” for Silver Fern Farms, the Northern Southland job losses will gut the micro-economy of Mossburn, with its population of barely 200.

The new killing season at Mossburn was just about to start; now, plant decommissioning will start next month. . .

Devastating news for small town – Tracey Roxburgh:

The Deer Capital of New Zealand received a body blow yesterday when news broke of Silver Fern Farms’ plans to close its venison plant.

The mood in Mossburn yesterday afternoon was sombre and while no-one spoken to by the Otago Daily Times seemed surprised by the proposed closure of the plant, which employs 43 staff, all agreed it was devastating for the small town.

Silver Fern Farms announced in a statement it was consulting staff at its South Island Mossburn venison plant and at its North Island Wairoa mutton processing plant, on ”options for closing the two small sites”. . .

Silver lining in overseas efforts to ditch meat diet:

Meat exporters are unfazed by a campaign to shift the world away from meat to plant protein.

A group of 40 investment companies, managing about $1.8 trillion in assets, have launched a campaign to encourage 16 major companies including WalMart, Unilever, Nestle, Kraft Heinz, and Tesco, to change the way they source protein for their products, in an effort to reduce environmental and health risks.

The investment companies, brought together by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative, have warned about the impact of meat production on the planet.

“The world’s over reliance on factory farmed livestock to feed the growing global demand for protein is a recipe for a financial, social and environmental crisis,” said Jeremy Coller, founder of the FAIRR Initiative and chief information officer of Coller Capital, one of the investment firms involved in the campaign. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon Lists on NZX & ASX

Aquaculture – a “healthy” portfolio ingredient

Salmon is on the menu at both the NZX Main Board (NZX) and the ASX with the listing today (19 October) of the world’s largest aquaculture producer of King salmon.

The initial public offer (“IPO”) for Nelson / Marlborough-based New Zealand King Salmon was for 69.2 million ordinary shares, quoted under the ticker NZK.

With the government supporting well-planned and sustainable aquaculture growth, New Zealand King Salmon sought $30.0 million in new capital to repay debt, and to fund future investment and working capital.

As a result of the fully subscribed IPO, and based on the $1.12 price per share, the company’s market capitalisation is $154.5 million, excluding certain shares offered under an employee share ownership plan. . . 

The reds have it in South Island Farmer of the Year finals

Three red meat producers and a Central Otago wine business will be up against each other for the finals of the Lincoln University Foundation 2016 South Island Farmer of the Year at Lincoln University on November 16.

The four finalists are:

James Dicey, a viticulturist and owner of Grape Vision Limited based in Bannockburn, Central Otago.

Lauren and Geoff Shaw, sheep and beef farmers in Central Otago, near Ranfurly.

Lyn and Neil Campbell, Campbell Farms, Middle Valley, near Fairlie in South Canterbury farming sheep, beef, bulls and deer, and arable crops.

Simon Lee, Manager Mendip Hills Station, Parnassus, North Canterbury, farming sheep, beef and deer.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says he’s looking forward to a great finals night on November 16. . . 

When it comes time to hang up the gumboots:

With the average age of New Zealand farmers pushing 60, and land values on a steady increase, it’s no surprise succession planning is currently top-of-mind for the agricultural industry.

In fact, leading commentators see private farm succession as the single biggest challenge for the industry to overcome during the next decade.

Dairy Women’s Network and its partners ASB and Crowe Horwath are coming together to offer support to farmers around this daunting and extremely personal, but important issue, over the next few months.

The partners will be delivering free succession planning workshops across the country, over the next six months. . . 

Timber industry upbeat despite challenges:

“Challenges facing the NZ timber industry are real and significant but the industry is generally in a good demand cycle and sentiment is positive” says New Zealand Timber Industry Federation (NZTIF) president, John McVicar.

“Domestic demand for timber is very strong at the moment” he said.

“However the upside was tempered with a number of very real challenges facing the industry.” . . 

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2016/17 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on its annual statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual for the 2016/17 dairy season. The Commission’s draft finding is that the 2016/17 Manual is largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (the Act).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg noted that most of the Manual remains unchanged.

“The most significant amendment introduced this year is the inclusion of Fonterra’s sales outside the GlobalDairyTrade auction platform for whole milk powder, skim milk powder and butter milk powder. This shift could result in an increase in the milk price for the 2016/17 season of five cents per kilogram of milk solids,” Ms Begg said. . . 

Fonterra Receives Awards for Tanker Safety:

Fonterra’s GM Transport and Logistics Barry McColl has been named Road Risk Manager of the Year at the Australasian Fleet Safety Awards.

The award recognises his role in maintaining the safety of more than 1,600 drivers in 500 tankers travelling more than 90 million kilometres a year.

Fonterra Director New Zealand Manufacturing Mark Leslie said the award is a great tribute to the outstanding work of Mr McColl and his team. . . 

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