Rural round-up

September 22, 2020

Water and labeling high on hort sector’s election wish-list – David Anderson:

New Zealand’s horticulture industry has set out its wishes for the upcoming election campaign, covering water, climate change, country of origin labelling and labour issues.

Industry body Hort NZ is asking that any future government ensures the horticulture sector can develop “within a supportive framework that enables sustainable growth”.

It says the sector currently contributes more than $6 billion to NZ’s economy, is the country’s third largest export industry and employs approximately 60,000 people.

“What horticulture needs in order to continue its success in producing fresh and healthy food for New Zealand and export markets is quite simple.” . . 

Rural environment grows ideas just fine – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Two years ago when he was playing for the Southland Sharks, Clinton man Lydon Aoake struggled to stay motivated.

The now 30-year-old was in the team that took out the 2018 New Zealand Basketball League. That year he juggled training, a full-time job at Danone Nutricia, and fatherhood.

“When I was working out trying to get fit for the Sharks, I wanted to get a personal trainer, but Clinton was pretty rural,” Mr Aoake said.

“So I had a little bit of a fitness background, I knew what I needed to do — it was just the PT motivation that I wanted.” . . 

Fonterra’s dividend – my five cents – Elbow Deep:

It has been quite the year for Fonterra, the co-operative not only won unanimous parliamentary support for the changes they sought to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, they also returned to profit after last year’s first ever financial loss. That profit, a stunning $1.3 billion turnaround from the previous season, saw Fonterra pay suppliers their fourth highest payout in the Co-op’s history; $7.14 per kg of milksolids and a 5c dividend on shares.

As dairy farmers we have been pretty well insulated from the worst financial effects of the pandemic, it has been business as usual thanks largely to Fonterra’s ability to navigate the strict requirements of operating under various levels of lockdown and to quickly react to changes in demand caused by Covid-19.

It struck me as curiously ungrateful, then, that the first response I saw on social media to Fonterra’s excellent result was a complaint the dividend was too low. This, it turns out, was not an isolated expression of that sentiment. . . 

Fonterra stabilises finances with back to basics model, selling assets and retaining profits – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has stabilised its finances with more asset sales forthcoming. It now operates a conservative model supported by its farmer members. But the model will not create the ‘national champion’ that the Labour Government has always hoped for

Fonterra’s annual results announced in 18 September for the year ending 31 July 2020 indicate that Fonterra has made good progress in stabilising its financial position. A key outcome is a reduction in interest-bearing debt by $1.1 billion, now down to $ 4.7 billion. This has been brought about through asset sales and retained profits.

Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers told a media conference immediately after release of the results that further debt reductions were desired.  The key measure that Fonterra is now using for debt is the multiple of debt to EBITDA, which now stands at 3.4. The desired level in the newly conservative Fonterra is between 2.5 and 3. . . 

Self-shedding sheep study:

Massey University is examining the economic impact and the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock.

Coarse wool sheep farmers are struggling with the cost of shearing in relation to the value of the wool clip. Many are considering if changing to a self-shedding flock, such as a Wiltshire, is a better way forward.

However, the cost of purchasing purebred Wiltshires – and the limited numbers available – means this is not a viable option for many. However, there are examples of farmers successfully grading up to Wiltshires by continual crossing.

But there is a general lack of accurate recorded information on the costs, benefit and pitfalls from doing so. . . 

Plug pulled on 2021 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival – Tracy Neal:

Organisers of next February’s Marlborough Wine & Food Festival have pulled the plug early.

It is the first time in the event’s 36-year history it has been cancelled, but the potential lingering challenges over Covid-19 posed too much risk.

Marlborough Winegrowers Board Chair Tom Trolove said it had been a really tough decision that would impact businesses in our community.

“But the board was clear that in these unprecedented times, it had to prioritise the safety of the harvest. . . 


Rural round-up

August 28, 2020

Wool boom from footrot research – Sally Rae:

The development of a commercialised breeding value for footrot resistance represents a “huge opportunity” for the expansion of fine wool sheep production, the New Zealand Merino Company says.

While “not a silver bullet” against the disease which results in lameness and loss of production, it would allow growers to make genetic gains and establish flocks that were footrot resistant, NZM chief executive John Brakenridge said.

Growers would save money from reduced treatment costs and chemical inputs, would not be hit with lower production, all while improving animal welfare.

It was the result of work by the New Zealand Sheep Transformation Project, co-funded by NZM and the Ministry for Primary Industries with a contribution from Merino Inc, to look at ways to contribute to a more productive, profitable and high animal welfare future for fine wool. . . 

From Devine intervention to total faith, highland calf birth adds new blood to line – Laurel Ketel:

Two years ago, Devine, a highland cow living at Plum Tree farm in Glenhope, couldn’t walk.

She had fallen down a bank and with her leg caught in wire fencing, the circulation to her foot was cut off causing severe damage. The rehabilitation costs were huge but owners Lisa and Mal Grennell were determined she wouldn’t be put down.

They worked around the clock for weeks, hoisting her every few hours and after four weeks she was finally able to walk unaided but it took a further six months for her to recover fully.

Last week Devine gave birth to a healthy calf and with the birth came not only new life but the introduction of a new bloodline into New Zealand highland cattle. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ joins call for new national nutrition surveys:

As World Iron Awareness Week kicks off today, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are joining the growing number of calls for the government to conduct new national nutrition surveys, with the most recent in 2008 for adults, and 2002 for children. 

Iron deficiency is the world’s most prevalent nutrient deficiency with two billion sufferers globally. It greatly impacts young children and women, with symptoms often being mistaken for the impacts of a busy life (tiredness, feeling grumpy, lack of focus). This hidden hunger is impacting a growing number of Kiwis, but the true scale is virtually impossible to quantify.  

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Head of Nutrition Fiona Windle points out that such a large data gap leaves a lot to be desired when trying to tackle the impacts of low iron levels among other nutrient deficiencies.  . .  

Prospectors out in force as gold prices reach fever pitch – Tracy Neal:

Since retiring last year as the Grey District’s long-serving mayor, Tony Kokshoorn says he has been good as gold – he just wishes he had joined the recent rush on prospecting for it.

“I generally nowadays invest in sharemarkets and that type of thing, but I wish now I’d taken up the gold-panning and gone out there because it’s a far better payer at the moment, with the gold price going through the roof and the share price of most companies really in the doldrums.”

Record high gold prices have prompted hobby prospectors to dust off spades and pans and head to South Island rivers in the hope of striking it lucky.

The precious metal recently hit $NZ3000 an ounce, as global investors looked to safer bets in shaky economic times. . . 

Comvita posts reduced annual loss :

The honey manufacturer and exporter Comvita has posted a reduced annual loss as it restructures and looks to capitalise on a lift in sales.

The company’s loss for the year ended June was $9.7 million, most of it caused by restructuring costs, compared with a loss of $27.7m a year ago, which had writedowns in asset values.

However, a second half year revival, as Comvita moved to slim and simplify its business and increase margins, resulted in a profit but not enough to overturn a first half loss. . . 

Validation of agriculture as an essential and sustainable industry – Roberto A. Peiretti:

Did you know that our most basic foods could be totally consumed around the world in just a few months?

This is why governments everywhere have labeled agriculture an “essential” activity during the Covid-19 crisis.

It was gratifying to see this appreciation during the social and economic lockdowns because farmers are often overlooked or even abused.

I hope the awareness of what farmers do continues after we recover from the pandemic.

Over the last several months, we’ve learned to live without a lot of the things that we once took for granted, such as sports, dining in restaurants, and going to church. The rules have varied from country to country, but we’ve all learned to cope with new restrictions so that we can prevent the transmission of a dangerous disease. . . 


Rural round-up

June 15, 2020

South Island winter tomato growers hit by carbon charges – Tracy Neal:

Parts of New Zealand might soon struggle to find tomatoes in winter.

Much of the South Island’s supply is grown in glasshouses heated by coal-fired burners, while gas-fired burners, diesel units or geothermal power is used mainly by North Island growers.

Some South Island growers said they faced oblivion through record high carbon charges – the government’s main tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions . .

Fonterra to pay some vendors within 10 working days to help with Covid-19 recovery – Stephanie Ockhuysen:

Fonterra is going to start paying the invoices for 3000 small and medium-sized vendors faster to help with their Covid-19 recovery.

From July 1, 2020, Fonterra will aim to ensure businesses are paid within 10 working days from the receipt of invoice.

Currently, the dairy giant’s payment terms for SMEs is the 20th of the month following the invoice date.

In the past, Fonterra has caused controversy around its payment terms, which once saw it wait up to 90 days to pay invoices from its thousands of trade suppliers. But in August 2018 it changed to the 20th of the month policy. . .

Catch crops after winter forage grazing a win-win for farmers, environment:

Hardy catch crops such as oats are showing major promise for mopping up excess nitrogen after winter grazing and could create a win-win for farmers in terms of their environmental footprint and profitability.

Dr Peter Carey, a Lincoln Agritech Field Researcher, is leading a three-year Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) research programme, in conjunction with Plant and Food Research, to apply the use of catch crops more widely in winter forage rotations.

Dr Carey, who completed a PhD at Lincoln University on the use of catch crops, found that they can reduce nitrate leaching by as much as 40%. This study looks to extend his research and apply it directly to commercial farms in Canterbury and Southland. The project aims to adapt their use to the different soils and climatic conditions of each region. . . 

Use wood to achieve zero carbon construction:

As the spotlight falls on Forestry, as one of New Zealand’s biggest industries to help revive the economy post lockdown, the New Zealand Forest Sector Forum is asking the question – why isn’t NZ using more locally-sourced wood, and getting behind its zero-carbon construction properties?

We’ve got to use more wood in NZ, reversing the reliance on concrete and steel in our construction. Only by doing this will we mitigate the effects of climate change, increase the use of a naturally renewable resource and strengthen regional economies.

Not only is wood locally produced, supporting approximately 30,000 jobs, but wood is the best choice for the environment. For every tonne of wood material used in construction, it is estimated that 5.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide are saved from release into the atmosphere, and wood requires less energy to produce than any other building material. Basically, trees eat carbon out of the atmosphere and lock it up in wood. The more wood you use, the more carbon is removed from the atmosphere. . . 

Silver Fern Farms searches for food heroes as Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships 2020 launch:

Silver Fern Farms welcomes applications for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships for 2020.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the scholarship programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers.

“During this time of disruption, we have seen that our industry needs food heroes to ensure the continued success of the red meat industry. The Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarship programme gives us the chance to hear directly from the creative young people who want to make a contribution to sustainable food production.” . . 

Organic Products Bill must settle on a definition of organics:

New Zealand’s longest-running association devoted to organics is calling on the government to amend it’s landmark Organic Products Bill to include a definition of organics.

Speaking to the Primary Production Select Committee today, Soil & Health Association Deputy Chair Jenny Lux said the lack of a definition risked undermining the whole enterprise.

“Organic production isn’t currently defined in the Bill despite there being a clear international definition that our trading partners know and will understand. . . 


Rural round-up

May 29, 2020

Oxford research: Livestock emission calculations could be ‘unfair and inefficient’ – Sylvester Phelan:

The way that governments are setting targets for different greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could be “unfair, inefficient and dangerous”, according to researchers at Oxford University – referencing the calculations of livestock emissions such as methane in particular as inaccurate.

Researchers from the LEAP (Livestock, Environment and People) project, based at the Oxford Martin School, made the argument in a paper published in Environmental Research Letters last month.

In the paper, the scientists say the commonly-used GWP100 (Global Warming Potential) method “obscures how different emissions contribute to global temperature change”. . . 

Forestry reform bill ‘cumbersome and unworkable’ – industry– Eric Frykberg:

There has been scathing criticism of the government’s latest forestry reforms at a parliamentary select committee.

The reforms are part of the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on Budget night] and has already surfaced for consideration at a parliamentary select committee.

This law would require forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to join a register and agree to work on nationally agreed standards.

The aim was to reduce the number of logs being exported raw and to direct more towards New Zealand sawmills and create jobs as a result. . .

Farm Environment Plans come out on top for growers and the environment:

Farm Environment Plans have come out on top as the best way for vegetable and fruit growers to manage their environmental impact and at the same time, provide evidence to regulators. 

That’s the finding of independent research called Joining the Dots, conducted by Agrilink NZ and New Zealand Good Agricultural Practice (NZGAP) for the New Zealand horticulture industry.  (Farm Environment Plans are part of the horticulture industry’s GAP programmes.)   

Horticulture New Zealand Sustainability and Extension Manager, Ailsa Robertson says the research is exactly what the industry has needed to support the use of Farm Environment Plans. 

‘Joining the Dots shows what we knew all along, which is that Farm Environment Plans are the best tools for growers to use to understand their environmental impact and put in place actions to reduce that impact, where necessary.  . . 

Federated Farmers – Rabobank remuneration survey shows good growth in farmer pay:

Strong growth in pay packages in the last two years is another reason for New Zealanders to consider a career in agriculture, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. 

The 2020 Federated Farmers – Rabobank Farm Remuneration Report, released today, shows that between 2017/2018 and 2019/20, the mean total remuneration package (i.e. salary plus benefits such as accommodation, meat, firewood, Kiwisaver, etc) has increased significantly for farm employees across all sectors groups. 

Based on survey responses relating to nearly 3,000 on-farm positions, the report shows the mean farm employee remuneration package for dairy farm workers rose by 9.7% to $57,125, across sheep/beef farm roles it was up by 7.6% to $55,568, across grain farms it was up by 3.1% to $58,800 and in ‘other’ specialist farm roles outside standard position descriptions, it was up by 16% to $61,288.  . . 

After seven years Alison Gibb steps of Dairy Women’s Network board:

After seven years Alison Gibb will pull up her chair as a Trustee at next week’s Dairy Women’s Network board meeting for the last time.

“It’s time to step back and let fresh eyes and input take the organisation to the next level, and it’s also important for me that I move on to new challenges,” she said.

“I was on the appointments committee for the three replacements (for the Dairy Women’s Network Board) and believe that they will bring a different set of skills and provide an exciting freshness to the board.” . . 

Wine growers hope harvest fortunes will remain golden – Tracy Neal:

Marlborough winemakers are hoping the best harvest in a decade will help shore up exports and cellar door sales.

Covid-19 hit hardest as the harvest was in full-swing, forcing a rapid shift in how it was managed.

Now the grapes are in, some say the hard work is only just starting as they strive to maintain markets.

On a late autumn morning, as the fog was just lifting off the hills above the Wairau River, Huia Winery’s team of three – Claire Allan, husband Mike and daughter Sophie, were taking a break amid the tanks and wooden barrels in their organic winery. . .


Rural round-up

May 6, 2020

Turning the environmental table on urban households – Cameron Bagrie:

Farmers have worn the pointed fingers on the envirionment despite most playing by the rules and many doing even better than what the rules require. It is rural communities we can thank for much of the environmental progress we’ve already made.

There are isolated instances of poor behaviour – just as in any industry, but in aggregate, farmers are moving forward.

Increasingly, farmers have been required to operate under Farm Management Plans (FMPs), against which their environmental performance is audited.

City folk should consider what their equivalent of an FMP – call it a Household Management Plan – would look like. . .

New Zealand Agricultural Show cancelled  – Tracy Neal:

The South Island’s largest springtime event, the New Zealand Agricultural Show, has been cancelled for the first time since World War 2.

Organisers said public safety concerns and a fragile financial position were behind the decision to cancel this year’s November show.

The Canterbury A&P Association made the announcement today, saying the likelihood of a lingering response to the Covid-19 crisis made planning for such a large event untenable.

It was now also calling for public help to secure the event’s long-term future. . .

Two-pronged approach needed to address dairy staff shortfall:

DairyNZ is calling on the Government to work with the dairy sector to address a looming staff shortage for the coming season, that has been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19.

By the end of September around 2500 visas are due to expire for migrant staff currently working on dairy farms. Many are based in Canterbury, Waikato, Southland and Otago. Both farmers and farm staff are desperately seeking certainty.

“We estimate that even if all migrant dairy workers currently in New Zealand were retained, there could be a shortfall of up to 1000 employees for the coming dairy season,” said Dr Tim Mackle, DairyNZ chief executive.

“This suggests that we are going to need to take a two-pronged approach to address the staffing shortfall that will include both retaining our migrant workforce and recruiting new Kiwis into our dairy sector. . .

NZ coconut and avocado oil producer to expand into the Pacific :

A New Zealand coconut and avocado oil producer, who is promising Pacific farmers much higher returns than they currently get, hopes to start operating within just months.

Whangarei-based Cocavo is headed by Chris Nathan who has been trying to set up operations in Fiji since 2018.

He said it’s taken awhile to find the right piece of land, and there were other difficulties, but they now have equipment, and building should soon be underway.

Mr Nathan said there is also strong interest from Luganville on Vanuatu’s Espirito Santo. . .

Safe domestic travel should be considered at Level 2:

The New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association and Game Animal Council are joining other tourism and recreation organisations in calling for an easing of domestic travel restrictions at Alert Level 2.

“Hunting guides, helicopter operators, accommodation providers and outfitters have suffered considerably through the lockdown,” says New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association President James Cagney. “Domestic travel will allow some of these businesses to restructure their offerings to New Zealand customers and keep operating.”

“While the industry has missed out on this year’s roar there is still fantastic late-autumn and winter hunting available, particularly for bull tahr, chamois, red stags and late rut sika. It would be fantastic if New Zealand hunters were able to get out and enjoy these opportunities and at the same time support the livelihoods of those in the industry.” . . 

Dairy processors warn on coronavirus disruption – Carlene Dowie:

Executives from two of Australia’s biggest dairy processors have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting markets in ways not seen before.

Bega chairman Barry Irvin and Fonterra chief financial officer Marc Rivers told the Pac Partners/Westpac 2020 Agfood Virtual Conference on Wednesday having diverse manufacturing options had allowed them to adapt.

Both pointed to immediate lower commodity prices but saw glimmers of positivity for the future.

And both said there was a need for further rationalisation of Australia’s dairy manufacturing base. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 29, 2020

Young film-maker shines spotlight on mental health challenges facing the rural sector – Nikki Preston:

Farmers are baring their souls about battling with mental health issues in what can be a lonely and isolating industry in a bid to encourage others to do the same.

A short video called The Monkeys On Our Backs looks to address the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector than those in urban areas by encouraging people to talk about the struggles they may be facing, and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Director Hunter Williams said he had his own mental health issues growing up so it was something that was close to his heart.

But it was after a conversation he had with a farmer at his mum’s wedding about how he also had “monkeys on his back” before sharing his story that inspired the video. . .

Covid-19 prompts iwi-owned producer to speed new planting projects – Tracy Neal:

The head of iwi-owned Wakatū Incorporation says the Covid-19 crisis demonstrates the value of staying local, of food sovereignty and the strength of community networks.

Wakatū employs up to 500 people on orchards, farms, vineyards and factories across Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough, on a seasonal and permanent basis.

It has been able to continue food harvest and production during the level 4 lockdown, with some restrictions in line with new WorkSafe practices which will continue under level 3.

Chief executive Kerensa Johnston said they were wanting to step away from conventional farming, and focus more on regenerative farming techniques in what she said was one of the country’s best growing districts. . . 

Hunters urged to follow rules :

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) is urging hunters to follow the new anti-COVID rules with a shift to Level 3.

“Under Level 3, hunting and some other outdoor recreation will be permitted, although with tight rules around what is allowed,” says NZDA national president Trevor Chappell.

“Those include only allowing hunting on private land within your own immediate region and bubble, and with the landowner’s permission. “Overnight trips are not allowed, and hunting must be on foot. Helicopters, quad bikes and other motorised vehicles are not permitted.”  . .

 

Meat industry stalwart signs off – Peter Burke:

A man who has spent more than 40 years in the meat industry says the best thing that happened to the industry in NZ was the UK joining the European Union in 1973.

Tim Ritchie, who has just retired as Meat Industry Association chief executive – a position he held for the last 11 years. He says Britain joining the EU forced NZ to look at the world as its marketplace and not just rely on what was essentially a single market. It also forced us to move away from primarily sending frozen lamb carcasses to the UK.

Richie told Rural News this meant the NZ meat industry had to move from being a commodity supplier of meat to producing specialty packaged cuts, which could be sent to new, high-end markets.

Buying local critical to survival of Kiwi pork industry:

 A leading Wellington smallgoods producer is urging people to buy only NZ raised and farmed pork, to help keep Kiwi’s pork farmers going during the COVID-19 response; and is launching an online store to drive demand and support the local industry.

The NZ Pork Board estimates NZ has an oversupply of up to 5,000 pigs per week. Angus Black says farmers have been under mounting pressure with the closure of cafes, restaurants and butchers during Level 4.

“Before Level 4 restrictions around 60% of NZ pork went to cafes, restaurants, producers like ourselves and independent butchers. With most of these avenues closed over recent weeks farmers are struggling to feed their stock and provide enough space to house them and ensure their welfare. . . 

Appointment of independent director to Fonterra board:

Fonterra today announced the appointment of a new Independent Director, Holly Kramer, who will join the Fonterra Board as an Independent Director on 11 May 2020.

Ms Kramer is based in New South Wales and has extensive governance, multinational, and retail business experience.

She currently holds a number of significant governance positions, including the Board of Woolworths where she is an Independent Non-Executive Director and Australia Post where she is Deputy Chair and an Independent Non-Executive Director. . . 

Coronavirus: EU proposes €80m agricultural support package:

British farmers could benefit from measures included in a new €80m package of support for the EU agri-food sector impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

The UK could apply to take part in one measure included in the support package – the private storage aid (PSA) scheme.

The European Commission proposed to grant private storage aid for dairy and meat products, such as beef, sheep and goat meat.

While the UK left the bloc on 31 January 2020, it still participates in certain policies which will expire at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. . .


Rural round-up

April 19, 2020

Dairy farmers committed to water quality – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers are committed to protecting New Zealand’s environment and taking action on-farm to support that, says DairyNZ.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for environment, Dr David Burger says the dairy sector is on the journey to improve and protect water quality outcomes.

His comments came at the release of Our Freshwater 2020 report, highlighting New Zealand’s environmental challenges and where we can all play our part.

“Our farmers have been working toward this for over a decade. We are continuing to do more every year,” says Burger.  . .

Demand in China good news for Fonterra :

China’s economy is “slowly returning to normal”, a fact that is reflected in last week’s positive Global Dairy Trade auction, says Fonterra’s Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers.

“Chinese participation [in the GDT] was pretty strong and it gives us some hope. China’s experience with Covid shows us that overall demand for dairy does recover” Rivers told The Country Early Edition’s Rowena Duncum.

Fonterra was also beginning to see demand for “out of home consumption” returning, as China started to open up more restaurants, said Rivers. . . 

NZ economy – sapped by Covid-19 – gets a lift from exports helped by kiwifruit – Point of Order:

The Covid-19 pandemic has savaged   several   of  New Zealand’s major  foreign exchange  earners,  particularly  tourism.  Even those still  trading  into  markets  that have   held up  well   face  an uncertain  outlook.

Yet the red  meat industry, whose exports earned NZ $9bn last year, and  the  $3bn  kiwifruit   industry  look as if they will be up there with the dairy  industry  as vital  props  underpinning  the  NZ  economy over coming years.

For  meat  producers, after the significant drop at the beginning of the year from the combined effect of Chinese New Year and Covid-19,  the return of China to the market, has been a positive factor compensating for the pandemic-led disruption to traditional European and North American markets. . . 

Lack of market access still a concern for growers in level 3 response – Tracy Neal:

The country’s fruit and vegetable growers say moving to level 3 on the Covid-19 scale will ease pressure on some in the sector, but many consumers still won’t be able to get their greens.

From later next week businesses and industries not considered essential, but able to demonstrate they can operate safely, could be back up and running if the government announces on Monday a move to level 3.

Head of Horticulture New Zealand, Mike Chapman, said that was good news for orchard development programmes as construction, trades and manufacturing look set to be revived. . .

Covid-19 level 3 hunting ban:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc (NZDA) is disappointed that hunting has seemingly been blanket banned following the Government’s release of its Covid-19 Level 3 guidance yesterday.

The NZDA is calling for a re-think and further clarification by Government and strongly recommends that hunting should be permitted at Level 3 subject to the overriding health and safety guidelines imposed on permitted activities and adherence to the “keep it local” and “apply common sense” principles stated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

NZDA National President, Trevor Chappell says, “There are many elements that make up hunting and that needs careful consideration by Government. The NZDA is open to consultation and can help draft a framework for hunters. NZDA also strongly advises that Government urgently seeks the input of the Game Animal Council, Fish & Game, Mountain Safety Council, Professional Guides Association and others like the NZDA who each can offer a deep understanding on the subject because we all represent different stakeholders in the hunting industry”. . .

Economic recovery from Covid 19 through development of infrastructure – Primary Land Users Group:

Currently New Zealand is in the early stages of an economic crisis due to the advent of the Coronavirus and its effects through the level 4 Emergency lockdown provisions and others.

The current coalition government is proposing taking direct action to support the economic recovery from the effects of the lockdown by using infrastructure development in what they are calling “shovel ready projects” to stimulate the national economy.

This is in effect a brilliant strategy “Yeah Right”.

Anybody that truly believes this strategy will give the desired results must be totally divorced from the actual reality of New Zealand’s development constrictions with the most influential one being the Resource Management Act. . .  . . 

NZDIA national judging programme to continue:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) are pleased to announce that Nationals Judging 2020 will continue, within the guidelines of Covid-19 restrictions.

“After consulting our finalists, national sponsors and stakeholders, we have carefully designed a robust judging process that will enable a fair and level playing field, minimise stress to entrants and focus on finding the best farmers,” says NZDIA General Manager, Robin Congdon.

“Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, finalists will be asked to submit their presentations for judging digitally and speak with the judges online rather than face-to-face.” . . 

South Island salmon harvest survey to start:

South Island salmon anglers are being asked for their help in the first east coast wide salmon harvest survey.

The Nelson/Marlborough, North Canterbury, Central South Island and Otago Fish and Game Councils are asking anglers to actively participate in the annual sea-run salmon harvest survey that is about to be undertaken.

The survey comes at a critical time when sea run salmon populations are at depressed levels and the Covid-19 alert level restrictions may compromise the ability of Fish & Game to undertake annual population monitoring in the field, like helicopter-assisted spawning surveys. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 16, 2020

If a tree falls in the forest can it be exported? – Dr Eric Crampton:

We need to be watching closely how the Government proceeds. We risk falling into the same kind of value-added magical thinking that ended badly in the past; messing up our international trading position; and returning to bureaucratic control over domestic industry, warns Eric Crampton.

Last week, Forestry Minister Shane Jones warned of impending restrictions on New Zealand’s international trade in logs.

Even if you don’t really care much about forestry, the Government’s response here may signal what’s in store for the rest of the economy after lockdown.

Will New Zealand continue as a trading nation and open economy, building on the recent success in setting a free trade agenda in essential goods with Singapore? Or, will it retreat to a more Muldoonist policy in which people like Minister Jones decide what can be exported?

This matters.

Processing delays to lengthen :

Already significant waiting times faced by farmers to get stock processed are likely to get worse in the short term, Beef + Lamb’s Economic Service and the Meat Industry Association say.

Processing capacity for sheep has been cut in half while beef is about 30% lower as plants adjust to covid-19 rules.

The latest analysis forecasts South Island lamb processing in April and May to be pushed back another week to five weeks though the backlog is expected to be cleared by the end of May.

In the North Island no further delays are expected on top of what farmers are already experiencing. . . 

Funding pushes efforts to eradicate stoats on Rangitoto ki te Tonga / d’Urville Island – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand’s eighth-largest island is on a mission to become stoat-free.

The island in the western Marlborough Sounds was said to be free of ship rats, Norway rats, possums and weasels, but stoats had led to the local extinction of little spotted kiwi, yellow-crowned kākāriki and South Island kākā.

They also threatened an important population of South Island long-tailed bats/pekapeka. . .

AgTech hackathon:

Pivoting around a global pandemic, the fourth annual AgTech Hackathon team is once again seeking ambitious problem solvers to ideate five Primary Industries challenges – albeit from their bubble.

Originally planned to be the last weekend of March as an active part of New Zealand AgriFood Week, the event was postponed due to COVID-19. True to creative and tech roots, the Hackathon is determined to go ahead but with a twist.

Introducing AgTech Hackathon Lite. . . 

Cauliflower prices on the march:

Cauliflower prices rose more than 60 percent in March, as prices for a wide range of vegetables also increased in the month, Stats NZ said today.

Prices for vegetables rose in March 2020 (up 7.4 percent), mainly influenced by rises for broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, capsicums, and carrots.

Overall food prices were up 0.7 percent, with most other staple foods holding steady, although prices for many meat products fell.

Cauliflower prices rose 64 percent to a weighted average price of $5.75 per kilo. . . 

Avocado orchard conversion block on the market:

A former small-scale dairy farm and maize cropping block set up for conversion into a commercial-sized avocado orchard has been placed on the market for sale.

The 95.8-hectare property at Waiharara, some 28-kilometres north of Kaitaia, was originally established to run as a dairying unit bolstered by the capacity to produce economic levels of stock feed.

However, a decade of cumulative economic, legislative, and environmental changes have motivated the Waiharara, property owners to sell up their dairying interests and the land which previously sustained the dairying-related activities. . . 


Rural round-up

March 18, 2020

Be quick for worker visas :

Dairy farmers relying on migrant labour for the new milking season should get their visa paperwork in early because of expected delays caused by coronavirus.

The disease continues to spread around the globe. In the Philippines, which the dairy industry relies on as a pool of labour, there were 33 confirmed cases the past week with president Rodrigo Duterte declaring a public health emergency on March 10.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis said while he appreciates it is an evolving issue, delays in processing visas have big implications for the workers’ families as well as the wider dairy industry heading into calving in July and August. . .

National Fieldays won’t be going ahead in June – Business Desk and Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand’s National Fieldays – billed as the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere – won’t be going ahead in June due to the covid-19 outbreak.

“As this is an unprecedented environment we request the time between now and March 31 to present our loyal and longstanding exhibitors and stakeholders with potential options for preserving this event,” Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation said in an email to stakeholders. . .

‘Mystical product’ casts a spell on Wine Master to be – Tracy Neal:

A Marlborough wine maker is about to become one of only a few hundred Masters of Wine in the world, and one of a handful in New Zealand.

Sophie Parker-Thomson, who is general manager of Blank Canvas Wines she co-owns with her husband Matt Thomson, has the finish line in sight on years of intensive study.

She is now just a few ticks away from joining a league of people fewer in number than have qualified to go into space. . .

Marlborough winery aiming to be herbicide-free by 2025 :

The technical director of a major Marlborough winery says the tide is turning on the use of herbicides in European viticulture and agriculture.

Jim White of Cloudy Bay Wines said the movement was not as strident here in New Zealand, but it was coming, and they wanted to be ahead of the game.

The company is now running trials in its aim to be herbicide-free by 2025, after Winepress reported its parent company Moet Hennessy said its Champagne would have no herbicide by the end of the year. . . 

2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through their ability to look at the ‘big picture’ and aim to be the employer of choice in the Hauraki district.

Brendan and Tessa Hopson were named the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion on Thursday night and won $11,470 in prizes and six merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Daniel Colgan, and the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Crystal Scown. . .

Winners of 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards use past experiences to move forward:

The 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe the strength of their fourth-generation pure Jersey herd is their biggest asset and believe it will create further value to their business in the coming years.

Simon and Natasha Wilkes were named the 2020 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the TSB Hub in Hawera on Saturday night and won $11,746 in prizes and three merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year Branden Darlow, and the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Sam Dodd. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

January 25, 2020

Innovation for the future – Samantha Tennent:

When the call of the land became too strong Mat Hocken answered by swapping his business suit for overalls and gumboots to champion the agricultural sector and agricultural innovation. Samantha Tennent reports.

Manawatu farmer and Nuffield Scholar Mat Hocken believes innovation will help the agricultural sector unlock some of the issues and concerns it faces.

So when he received a Nuffield Scholarship in 2017 he chose agri-innovation as his research project.

The scholarship is a prestigious rural leadership programme with a global focus, designed to fast-track the development of emerging leaders in the agri-food sector. Each year up to five scholarships are awarded to people who are expected to assume positions of greater influence in their field in the future. . . 

Scientist says methane from farming should be treated differently to CO2 – Kevin O’Sullivan:

It does not make sense that Ireland is regarded as producing more greenhouse gases than Los Angeles, a city of 13 million people, a US scientist has told a conference on climate action in agriculture.

Prof Frank Mitloehner from the University of California, Davis, told the Irish Farmers’ Association event in Dublin that the case for methane arising from farming being treated differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, such as CO2, was undeniable.

He said that methane, the main greenhouse gas in livestock production, only lasts in the atmosphere for 10 years, whereas CO2 persists for up to 1,000 years, he said. Methane was short-lived but carbon from fossil fuels was “a one-way street” to rising emissions. . .

Central Otago farmer comes up with simple idea to help firefighters in an emergency – John McKenzie:

It’s a simple idea that could save both lives and property across Central Otago.

Otago farmer and regional councillor Gary Kelliher has started fitting fire hose fittings to his farms irrigation scheme, in hopes other farmers will follow suit.

“My goal is right across certainly Otago, but even further afield across New Zealand where it’s dry and where we have irrigation schemes,” he said.

The fittings are quick and easy to install, costing just a few hundred dollars. . . 

Marlborough dairy farmer fears logging operation will destroy property – Tracy Neal:

A recently widowed Marlborough dairy farmer says a logging operation that has sprung up on a neighbouring property is likely to destroy her farm.

Lone Sorensen, who farms in a valley between Havelock and Blenheim, is enraged that a paper road through her property could become a major transport route for trucks and heavy vehicles.

The Marlborough District Council said it was doing what it could to smooth the pathway for all. . . 

Valley of the Whales –  Bill Morris:

The North Otago limestone country holds one of the world’s most important fossil cetacean records, a coherent story of how whales and dolphins evolved in the Southern Ocean. It’s a story that one small rural community has embraced as its own.

BURNS POLLOCK AND I stand in the Valley of the Whales, a deep gulch cut by the Awamoko Stream through the North Otago limestone. Formed on the floor of an ancient sea, this terrain is now far from the ocean, its thin skin of agriculture desiccated by drought.

I’ve often been fascinated by the dramatic contours when travelling through this valley. But it also holds narratives, bound into the cliffs and sculpted recesses—Waitaha rock art hundreds of years old, and the story of evolution embodied in the stone itself. I’ve brought Pollock here because I want to see the place through the eyes of someone who knows it as well as he does. He grew up in this district and has farmed here all his life. He is also a noted artist and his work—sere vistas cradling broken fragments of human endeavour—is unmistakably rooted in this landscape. . . 

Eight young Fruit Growers vie for title

• Emily Crum, Orchard Manager, Total Orchard Management Services, Whangarei
• Bryce Morrison, Technical Services and Innovation, Fruition, Tauranga
• Aurora McGee-Thomas, Trainee Orchard Manager, Strathmurray Farms, Tauranga
• Melissa van den Heuvel, Industry Systems Associate, NZ Avocado, Tauranga
• Katherine Bell, Avocado Grower Representative, Trevelyans, Katikati
• Megan Fox, Orchard Technical Advisor, Southern Cross Horticulture, Tauranga
• William Milsom, Machinery Operations Manager, Oropi Management Services, Oropi
• Harry Singh, Orchard Manager, Prospa Total Orchard Management, Opotiki . . 


Rural round-up

January 23, 2020

Farmers, wildlife and residents alike face water shortages as regions dry up fast – Tracy Neal:

Water cuts are looming in pockets of the country drying up fast. 

Councils in affected areas are assembling dry-weather crews, farmers are now giving extra feed to stock, and Northland kiwi birds are now struggling to feed on hard-baked soil, where the dry weather has lingered longer than usual.

Dairy farmer and kiwi conservationist Jane Hutchings said in her 30 years in the area, summer is either saturated by cyclones, or parched dry.

Right now it is the latter, and the kiwi population is struggling. . . 

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

Farmers are on a green binge recycling more waste and unwanted products through the Agrecovery scheme than ever before.

Now the Government and agri manufacturers are working on a plan to make industry hitchhikers pay their way.

Agrecovery’s waste collection rates rose 40% in the past couple of years, the animal health and agrichem lobby group Agcarm says.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said the voluntary returns amount to about 437 tonnes of products, including 11 tonnes of chemicals. The total collected was about half the product in the New Zealand market at any time. . . 

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

Shrink wrapped quail eggs, lifestyle choices and social media are all playing their parts in what and how Chinese will eat heading into the new decade.

Chinese media platform company Radii has analysed latest market trends in the country’s enormous food market as the middle class continues to grow and become a more sophisticated, discerning customer for food imports from the likes of New Zealand.

In its report food journalist Mayura Jain identifies takeout food delivery showing no signs of growth experienced in the past five years slowing down.  . . 

Project aims to give vineyard managers more information in a hail storm – Maja Burry:

Researchers are working to fill the information gap for winegrowers hit by extreme weather events.

The Blenhiem-based Bragato Research Institute has started a two-year project to work out how vineyard managers can best deal with hail storm damage to their vines.

The research follows severe hail in Hawke’s Bay in October last year, which damaged about 600 hectares of vines.

Hail in Central Otago and North Canterbury damaged vines during November. . . 

New market for sunflowers leads to big burst of colour near Timaru– Esther Ashby-Coventry:

It’s hard to miss the stunning burst of yellow in paddocks full of millions of sunflowers just south of Timaru.

They sunflowers may become a five yearly feature on owner Warren Darling’s 70 hectares of land as he takes advantage of a new market.

Usually he grows rape seed, which also produces a radiant yellow display when in flower, as well as wheat and barley, but is now considering sunflowers as part of his crop rotations. . .

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

Tickets are on sale for the Women in Forestry Conference, being held from 30 April – 2 May 2020 in Whangamata.

The Women in Forestry conference will bring together women in the NZ Forestry industry, to connect, learn and share experiences.

The third event of its kind, the conference is organised by the Women in Forestry Network, a grass-roots movement founded to support women in the industry.

Women in Forestry co-founder and General Manager Sarah Davidson says there is a need for more female support in the industry. . .


Rural round-up

December 12, 2018

Inspirational focus in driving NZ wool business honoured – Sally Rae:

Dave Maslen is a reluctant sustainability superstar.

The New Zealand Merino Co’s general manager for markets and sustainability was a finalist in the sustainability superstar category in the recent NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

The category, won by Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown, celebrated people who inspired and led others to make a difference.

Mr Maslen’s own nomination came as a surprise and he was reluctant to be singled out, saying it was “most definitely” a team effort. . . 

Leaders discuss sustainable farming – Sally Rae:

Agriculture, as a whole, needs to be brave.

That was the take-home message for North Otago dairy farmer Lyndon Strang after attending the annual DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Forum in Wellington recently.

The three-day event was attended by nearly 100 dairy farming leaders who discussed sustainable farming and progressed goals for the future.

Mr Strang and his wife Jane milk 450 cows at Five Forks and run a self-contained operation, wintering all cows, rearing young stock and growing the majority of their supplements. . . 

Waimea Dam to aid eels on journey to Pacific – scientist – Tracy Neal:

The Waimea Dam will improve the health of the river downstream, and ensure the path of eels to their breeding grounds in the Pacific is not hindered, a freshwater scientist says.

The Tasman District Council recently voted to go ahead with the $105 million irrigation and urban supply scheme, despite levels of public opposition, mainly over cost.

Scientist Roger Young, from Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, has been involved in the project since its inception. . .

More farmers feel under financial pressure:

Farmer satisfaction with their banks is dropping, and more are feeling they are under financial pressure, the Federated Farmers November Banking Survey shows.

While 73.7% of the 750 farmers who responded to the Research First-conducted survey said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their bank, that was a drop of 5% since the previous survey in May.   It’s also the lowest satisfaction level recorded in any of the 10 surveys conducted since 2015.

“The results show a need for renewed efforts to improve relationships between farmers and banks,” Federated Farmers Economics and Commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

SenseHub monitors treats – Sonita Chandar:

Consumers of Nestle products can be assured the treats they like best have been made with milk from happy, healthy cows.

As part of Nestle’s commitment on animal welfare it has partnered with Antelliq’s Allflex on a pilot programme to monitor dairy cows’ wellbeing through Allflex’s SenseHub on several Nestle farms.

The collaboration aims to provide Nestle with full visibility into the wellbeing of individual cows and the herd according to a set of key performance indicators. . . 

Group of sheep breeders running parasite resistant stock:

A group of leading sheep breeders have formed WormFEC Gold to show farmers that breeding for parasite resistant genetics will strengthen flocks and save time and money on-farm.

Growing concerns from farmers around increasing levels of drench resistance, rising farming input costs, and issues getting farm labour have prompted 10 WormFEC breeders from across New Zealand to join forces. The breeders’ group brings together more than 200 years combined experience breeding highly productive, parasite resistant rams.

Chairman Robert Peacock of Orari Gorge Station in South Canterbury said the WormFEC Gold group aims to show farmers that breeding sheep for parasite resistance is achievable and will save farmers time and money. He said breeding animals with natural resistance to parasites is part of the long-term sustainable solution for parasite management. . . 

Researchers conclude livestock have no detectable effect on climate – Amanda Radke:

Cow burps are destroying the ozone layer — we’ve all heard that one, and frankly, it’s time for the industry to ditch that myth once and for all.

As our industry zeroes in on topics of sustainability and ways we as beef producers can improve for the better, I continue to beat the same drum — cattlemen and women already do a spectacular job of managing our land and water to produce more beef using fewer resources.

Simply stated, beef production isn’t just sustainable; it’s regenerative. And despite what the naysayers claim, cattle grazing and consuming by-products of crop production play a critical role in our ecosystem. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 13, 2018

Grabbing life by the horns:

October 8th- 14th marks Mental Health Awareness Week. Co-op farmer Wayne Langford knows what it’s like to suffer from mental illness. He’s the man behind the YOLO (You Only Live Once) farmer blog. He shares his story about owning up to his illness and how the YOLO project helped him cope with depression.

I was pretty down in the dumps – I referred to it as a rough patch, my wife called it what it really was – depression. We were lying in bed one morning and she said, “well, what are we going to do? Because we can’t go on like this.”

Most people who knew Wayne Langford knew this about him. He was 34, married to his wife Tyler and the father of three boys. He was a 6th generation dairy farmer who owned and ran his Golden Bay farm. He was a proud Fonterra supplier and was the Federated Farmers Dairy Vice Chairman. . .

Farm produce holds up trade deal:

New Zealand trade negotiators are trying to get their European counterparts to recognise Kiwi agricultural exports are small-fry in comparison to the regional bloc’s farming sector.

The second round of free-trade negotiations between NZ and the European Union is under way in Wellington with 31 European officials in the capital to discuss a deal politicians say they’re keen to fast-track. . . 

Kaitiakitanga and technology benefiting farmers, environment:

An innovative approach to monitoring farm effluent runoff is reaping financial rewards for farmers with bonuses for farming excellence.

Miraka, a Taupo-based milk processor with more than 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to farmers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme – people, the environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity
. . .

Farmers build rapport amid Mycoplasma bovis heartache – Tracy Neal:

Despite the fact they are not out of the woods yet, cattle farmers are starting to consider life after Mycoplasma bovis.

Finding that pathway will be helped by a special Beyond Bovis seminar in Hamilton later this month – held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show.

The government is working to eradicate M bovis and so far more than 43,000 cows have been culled. . .

High country station to host agricultural workshops – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a shortage of young people wishing to work in the agriculture sectors, and industry consultant John Bates, of Alexandra, is developing a programme to help address the problem.

Lincoln University owns Mt Grand, a 2127ha high country station near Lake Hawea.

Profits from the farm help fund postgraduate and graduate scholarships.

It is also a teaching facility for university students studying environmental and ecological degrees. . . 

 

PGG Wrightson expects FY19 operating earnings to match prior year’s record – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson expects full-year operating earnings to be on par with last year’s record, including earnings from the seed and grain business that it is selling to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds.

The company said it expects its operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to June 30, will be approximately $70 million. In August, it said its operating ebitda was a record $70.2 million in the year ended June. . . 

Virgin beefing up for transtasman battle

Weeks out from its breakup with Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia says it ready to roll out its “full armoury” in what is shaping up as a three-way battle over the Tasman.

The Australian airline is also trying to establish more of a market presence here after being quiet for much of the alliance with Air New Zealand that stretched more than six years but will end on October 28 after the Kiwi carrier opted to quit the partnership.

Virgin has since upped its marketing and following a search for a New Zealand beef supplier the airline today announced Hinterland Foods from Moawhango in the Rangitikei District had won the “Got Beef” campaign and would supply its meat to the airline for in-flight meals. . . 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2018

Experience big advantage in lamb rearing – Ella Stokes:

Having a pet lamb in the backyard tends to be common at this time of the year; but Kelly Liggett has more than a few at her Clifton farm; in fact this year she has over 90. Reporter Ella Stokes caught up with her and all her pets.

Kelly and Alex Liggett farm in Clifton where they have 2100 ewes, 60 beef calves and 50 yearling bulls. The pair have been farming there for more than 15 years and Mrs Liggett said every year she got more involved.

Over the years she had always reared both calves and lambs but over the past three years has had more of a focus on the lambs. . .

Massey archery champion takes aim at FMG Young Farmer of the Year title:

A two-time world archery champion has joined the race to be the next FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Ben Orchard, 19, has qualified for the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final after finishing second in a district contest in Palmerston North.

“I’m stoked. I only entered because I thought it would be a bit of fun and I like a challenge. I’m really excited,” said Ben. . .

Irrigation company makes offer for Hurunui project’s water consents:

Resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project might now be sold after the scheme failed to attract the support needed to move forward.

The 25-year-old plan to increase water availability around Hawarden suffered a big setback in April when the government blocked assistance from the state agency, Crown Irrigation Limited.

In another blow, the $200 million scheme which aims to irrigate 21ha of land failed to get enough local farmers to back it. . .

Shifting from commodity production styles to meeting targeted consumer demand will require big shifts and a wider view of what the market really is – Guy Trafford:

Farming has provided a great life style and an adequate living for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders for many generations. Over time the products on farms have transitioned from subsistence in the very early years to commodity production to in recent years aiming to produce to meet certain market specifics to gain premiums from consumers.

The move to meet what consumers want is still only in its infancy and by and large most farmers focus on producing the most product at least cost and rely upon processors to find markets for these products. . .

Farmed fish search centre opens at Nelson’s Cawthron Institute – Tracy Neal:

A new research centre at Nelson’s Cawthron Institute aims to improve the resilience and productivity of farmed fish.

The $8 million addition to the Cawthron’s aquaculture park was launched yesterday.

The Finfish Research Centre will focus on selective breeding and how fish might adapt to changing environmental conditions. . . 

Pāmu donates $10,000 to IHC:

Pāmu has made a ten thousand dollar donation to IHC to support its Calf and Rural Scheme.

Pāmu has been a regular donator to the IHC, which picks up weaned calves from Pāmu farms, and sells them at sales yards, with all proceeds going to support IHC programmes.

For the first time in 33 years, IHC have suspended aspects of the Calf and Rural Scheme due to the risk posed by Mycoplasma Bovis (M. Bovis). . . 

 

International study uses new protocol for estimating water productivity:

Calculating gaps between potential and actual water productivity at local to regional scales can help agricultural producers improve crop production. In June, the international Journal of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology published a multi-country study that establishes a first-of-its-kind protocol for estimating water productivity gaps across these spatial scales. In addition, the study confirmed water productivity variations among regions with different soils and climates, and it revealed that non-water-related factors, such as nutrient deficiencies, pests and diseases often limit crop yield more than water supply. . .


Rural round-up

January 1, 2017

New Govt passing up prime opportunity for rural development:

The evidence this new Government will be no friend to farmers continues to stack up, National’s Primary Industry spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“During Question Time yesterday, I asked Regional Development Minister Shane Jones whether his $1 billion fund will support regional water storage and irrigation projects that can grow jobs and exports, and enhance the environment.

“Alarmingly, all he could say was that the final criteria for this fund is yet to be determined. . . 

Expanding global production set to increase competition in animal proteins sector in 2018:

Animal protein production is expected to expand around the world in 2018 increasing both trade competition and competition between different meat types, according to a new industry report from agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

Rabobank’s Global Outlook for animal protein in 2018 says production increases are likely in most regions with Brazil, China and the US expected to record particularly strong production growth. In New Zealand, beef and sheepmeat production is forecast to remain similar to 2017 levels.

The report says beef and pork will be the strongest contributors to global animal protein expansion – with global beef production projected to increase for a third consecutive year in 2018, and a further year of significant growth in pork production anticipated. . . 

CPTPP to the rescue – Allan Barber:

This is truly the age of acronyms – TPP morphed into TPP11 which has now added a couple of initials while actually shrinking in scope from its original intent. But unlikely as it has seemed at several points along its tortuous journey, the mother of all trade deals, or maybe now the stepmother, is still alive in spite of Trump’s and Trudeau’s unsubtle efforts to hijack it.

My major concern before the APEC meeting in Vietnam was the strong possibility the new government would withdraw from TPP11 as it sought to renegotiate the Investor State Dispute Settlement and foreign investment clauses, when all the other signatories were willing to accept them. I freely admit I was wrong to underestimate Labour’s commitment to free trade, while overestimating the influence of New Zealand First. In the lead up to the election all the signs pointed the opposite way, while the concession extracted by Winston Peters to pursue a trade agreement with Russia provided further evidence TPP and its successors may no longer be at the front of the queue. . . 

Beef + Lamb studies threat posed by alternative proteins, considers how to respond – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Beef + Lamb New Zealand is carrying out consumer research into alternative proteins in China and San Francisco in response to the rise of the rival products and wants to report back to the sector before the end of the year.

“What we have discovered is that for better or worse alternative protein is here. We are not seeing it as a replacement for now, but we are definitely seeing it as an alternative for certain types of consumers. The consumer research that we doing is to understand who those consumers are and what’s driving that behaviour,” Damien Cullinan, market innovation manager for Beef + Lamb, told BusinessDesk. . . 

New app to bring in water allowance sharing – Tracy Neal:

Farmers and growers in Marlborough will soon have use of an online tool that tells them how much water they can use on a given day.

The council is grappling with an increasing strain on water supplies, with projections for demand and the effects of climate change showing it is likely to get worse.

A new cloud-based digital system, from which users will be able to download information to a portable device, was presented to councillors at a meeting in Blenheim yesterday.

Gerald Hope of the council’s environment committee said the tool would allow real-time information that would lead to better use of water. . . 

New Zealand farmers and growers welcome EU glyphosate decision:

New Zealand farmers and growers welcome an EU majority decision backing a five-year extension to glyphosate’s licence, which was due to expire next month.

Glyphosate, a herbicide widely-used in agriculture and by gardeners, is “an efficient and cost-effective means to keeping our agricultural economy growing, our environment protected, and our country weed-free,” says Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross.

“The decision is good news for farmers as they won’t be forced to find an alternative solution for use on exports,” adds Ross. . . 

$21 million Government & dairy research collaboration to improve waterways:

The dairy sector welcomes the Government’s announcement today that it will invest alongside farmers in a seven-year $21 million research partnership that will boost the current effort to clean up rural waterways.

Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment, Dr Megan Woods, confirmed today MBIE will provide $8.4 million towards the project which aims to tackle the difficult nitrogen leaching question, nitrogen being one of the nutrients impacting water quality.

A further $11.5 million will be invested by dairy farmers through the levy they pay to DairyNZ, with additional funding support to make up the $21 million coming from CRV Ambreed and Fonterra. . . 

How NZ ag can stop getting beaten up –  St John Craner :

NZ Ag is always on the back foot. Despite the rhetoric from leaders in industry about how we need to tell our story better, we continue to be out-gunned by lobby groups like SAFE, PETA and Greenpeace. Whether it’s bobby calves, PKE, dirty dairying or most recently false free-range eggs, we’re always playing a defensive position that risks our social licence to operate.

NZ Ag could learn from those brands that have had the foresight and planning to build a strong equity. SouthWest airlines is a great example. When 9/11 occurred they were inundated with customers sending them cheques because they were worried about their viability. This was because their customer base had a fond affection for them and what they stood for: everyone has a democratic right to fly. When the botulism scare kicked in for Fonterra they found they had few friends. GSK’s Ribena got caught out after its false claims of Vitamin C was unearthed by two 14 year old school girls from Auckland. I doubt they’ve ever restored consumers’ trust. . .

NZ structural log prices rise to 24-year high, A-grade export logs hit record – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand structural log prices rose to the highest level in 24 years and A-grade export logs hit a record as local mills compete with the export market to secure supply for the domestic construction market amid strong demand from China.

The price for structural S1 logs increased to $130 a tonne this month, from $128 a tonne last month, marking the highest level since 1993, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. Export log prices lifted between $2-to-$5 a tonne for the majority of grades, with the price for A-Grade logs touching $128 a tonne, up from $127 a tonne last month and the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in 2008.. . .

Jason Minkhorst to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients:

Senior Fonterra executive, Jason Minkhorst, has been confirmed as General Manager Sales for Ballance Agri-Nutrients, joining the farmer-owned Co-operative in early March 2018.

Jason is currently Director Farm Source Stores of Fonterra’s rural retail business, Farm Source, and has extensive commercial experience from more than 15 years in senior executive and governance roles in the dairy sector.

Ballance CEO, Mark Wynne, says Jason’s deep knowledge of agri-business and genuine passion for the primary sector will be hugely valuable as Ballance focuses on the changing needs of New Zealand farmers and growers – providing tailored nutrients and advisory services, backed by the best science and technology. . . 


Rural round-up

November 9, 2013

Central Plains Water gets the green light from shareholders:

Thirteen years after it was first mooted, Central Plains Water Ltd (CPWL) Board have given approval for the giant scheme to become a reality after 90% of Stage I shareholders and over 72% of Stage II and III committed to the 60,000ha scheme.

For the scheme to progress it needed commitment for 18,000h of Stage I and 26,000 ha of Stage II and III. Both thresholds have been met fully by existing shareholders.

Chief executive Derek Crombie said that achieving this level of commitment from shareholders is testimony to the phenomenal dedication and hard work put in by so many over the years.

“I’m sure that there were many times when the hurdles seemed too great, so now all that is required is for the board to confirm our construction programme and to allocate shares,which should happen in the next week. To get this high level of uptake for the scheme from the existing shareholders is a fantastic result. This commitment ensures that the ownership remains local. We set a pretty high bar but are now delighted to say that we have managed to clear it,” he said. . .

First water released in irrigation scheme – Tony Benny:

The first water from the Rangitata South irrigation scheme is now available to some farmers as commissioning of the project, that will eventually irrigate 16,000 hectares between the Rangitata and Orari rivers and out to the coast, begins.
One of the project’s seven storage ponds on the south side of the Rangitata, near Arundel, is now 90 per cent full and water has been released into irrigation races to allow leak testing, part of a commissioning process that will take up to four months.

The seven ponds will hold a total of 16 million cubic metres of water, drawn from the Rangitata River when it’s in flood – a flow of more than 110 cumecs, enough to provide 30 days of irrigation storage. Farmer shareholders are also required to have an additional week of storage in their own ponds. . . .

Food safety forum to come to NZ for first time:

A number of food scares, including the botulism scare caused by Fonterra, has inspired the organisers of the Global Food Safety Forum to hold it in New Zealand for the first time.

“NZ has been caught out on a number of occasions and the dialogue and interaction will be focused on preventing further issues,” food integrity consultant Dr Helen Darling said.

The conference, to be attended by the 160 delegates from China, US and Australia, will look at emerging threats and ways to address them before they become a problem she said. . .

Challenges ahead in Ballance awards:

BALLANCE AWARDS organiser, the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, is gearing up for another big year as it strives to help farmers face the challenges of the future.

NZFE chairman Alistair Polson said at the annual meeting that 2013 was a successful year for the trust’s flagship enterprise, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). Regional and national BFEA competitions, ceremonies and field days are popular and well supported.

Another highlight for the trust was the addition of the Taranaki region for 2014, bringing the number of regions involved in the BFEA competition to 10. “We hope to include the remaining regions in future.” . . .

Nelson peony venture blossoming – Tracy Neal:

Growing “big blousy flowers” for America is far from Georgia Richards’ early ambition to grow culinary herbs, but the peony venture is proving highly suited to the quiet block of Dovedale land she farms with partner Dot Kettle.

The business is blossoming in a new direction beyond export grade flowers, to one that utilises the benefits of peonies in soaps, skin creams and even tea blends.

The pair have just launched Dove River Peonies soaps and creams, which like many new creations, was driven by need. In their case it was the lack of any good skin products for their sons’ eczema that drove them to create a product specially for sensitive skins. With the help of Nelson firm Global Soap, the soap range was born combining powdered peony root in an olive oil base for sensitive skin, or citrus blends for an “indulgent” soap. . .

It’s blooming time for quality fruit – Farming Unlocked:

Regular readers of my blog will know that I do not particularly enjoy our cold winters. However as spring envelops us, the weather warms up and the sun’s rays soak into my skin and prise something open from within. My heart feels somehow warmer and I feel invigorated and alive.

This is mirrored in my surroundings. At this time of year, no matter which window I look out, I can see a mass of white apple blossom, contrasted against the lush, green of tender new growth. I find myself in an almost constant state of distraction, drawn to gaze out at the breathtaking beauty with a sense of wonderment and respect.

I find that I cannot adequately put into words the magnificent performance that the orchard puts forward at this time of year, so I will try to show it in pictures instead. . .


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