Rural round-up

22/05/2018

Mycoplasma bovis: The spread, cost and response – Conan Young:

Southland is believed to be the origin of where Mycoplasma bovis first took hold in New Zealand because this is where the earliest known cases of infection have so far been discovered, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

This overturns an earlier theory that a South Canterbury farm belonging to the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group was the first farm to be infected.

While steps have been taken to trace and deal with cattle transported from the Van Leeuwen farm since July last year, controls on cows coming out of Southland have only been brought in much more recently. . .

Rural health workforce reaching crisis point:

The rural health workforce is at crisis point, with more than 40 percent of country doctors due to retire in the next five years.

So could the growing number of nurse practitioners, nurses who have taken extra training to be able to prescribe medicines and make diagnoses, provide a solution?

The nurses themselves say yes, but those working in rural health say there are some professional and bureaucratic hurdles which make it more difficult. . . 

Love of breeds leads to junior judge status – Sally Rae:

Amanda Brown just loves cows.

Her particular passion is for the Ayrshire breed, continuing a long family history which started when her mother’s family — the Morton family — established the Ingleside stud in Southland in the 1940s.

The 29-year-old recently became an accredited junior judge for the breed, which meant she could judge at shows alongside a senior judge and, after a few shows, sit another paper to become a senior judge.

Miss Brown was brought up showing cattle and was leading calves when she was big enough to handle them. . .

Feds Kapiti and Wellington says no to roading rates rip-off:

Federated Farmers fears when the Kapiti Coast District Council says it is interested in equity and affordability, it only means equity and affordability for urban residential ratepayers. 

Last week Federated Farmers’ representatives made a submission to the council’s draft Long Term Plan (LTP) hearing opposing a proposal to change from a flat rate to a property-value rate to fund roading.
This will take the council further away from its stated aim of equity and affordability, says Federated Farmers Wairarapa president Jamie Falloon.

“This is pretty crude consultation when a huge impact like this is not discussed and considered with affected parties well before a hearing process for the LTP. This is a failing of many of the councils in our region.” . . 

Astonishingly high rates hikes proposed:

Tomorrow Federated Farmers will speak to their submission on yet another council proposed rate hike, as Hawke’s Bay Regional Council proposes an average rate increase of 19%.

Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway calls this “excessive and obscene”.

“Farmers are facing increased operating costs and are finding rates an ever-increasing unproductive cost that takes funds away for things like technology and environment spending. . .

Feds hail on-line fibre exchange as useful innovation:

Transparency, ease-of-use and the potential for increasing competition among buyers are among the positives of the Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX), Federated Farmers says.

The NFX, which is owned by shareholders Wools of New Zealand and Alliance Group, kicks off the first of its fortnightly on-line trading events tomorrow. 

Federated Farmers Meat and Wool chairperson Miles Anderson sees NFX as an innovation that potentially can stream-line the selling-buying process, raise awareness of wool and reach a wider buyer market. . . 

Ranching cattle in California  – Teresa O’Connor:

It may be hard to believe but ranching is the number-one land use in the state of California. I was surprised to learn this fact, and I’m certainly not alone.

This complex connection of California ranching to food production is a mystery for many. The public rarely understands the ecological benefits of livestock grazing, nor the tough economic returns, according to Sheila Barry, Livestock Advisor and Director of Santa Clara County for University of California Cooperative Extension.

“Working ranches occupy roughly 40 million acres in California,” says Barry. “Whether these working ranches are public land or privately owned, many ranchers represent the fourth or fifth generations stewarding the land and their livestock. The fact that the most prevalent land use in California goes largely unnoticed by much of the public puts ranching at risk.” . . 


Rural round-up

23/12/2017

Van Leeuwen owner ‘devastated’ by cattle disease outbreak, says business could go under – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Aad van Leeuwen found himself at the centre of a storm when he reported an outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in his South Canterbury herds but said the bacterial cattle disease didn’t originate on his farms and if government compensation doesn’t come through soon his operation could go under.

“It’s been devastating,” the owner of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group told BusinessDesk. “We are struggling at the moment. Because we notified the disease we are eligible for compensation, but it’s a battle. It’s not coming through. The government is very slow and confusing. This could put us under if it doesn’t come through. It’s as simple as that.”

Van Leeuwen Dairy is a large-scale, high-performance dairy business in the South Island with 16 farms and associated business, including silage. . . 

ANZCO is now 100% Japanese owned – Allan Barber:

One of Japan’s two largest meat processing and marketing companies, Itoham Yonekyu Holdings, has received OIO consent to increase its shareholding in ANZCO Foods from 65% to 100%. It will acquire the shares currently held by ANZCO’s management (18.24%) and Japanese food company Nissui (16.76%) as a carefully planned transition which will see founder and chairman, Sir Graeme Harrison, retire at the company’s AGM in March.

Itoham Foods have held shares in ANZCO since 1995 when they combined with ANZCO management to complete a buyout of the New Zealand Meat Producers’ Board, forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, in 1995, having formed a 50/50 JV with ANZCO in 1989 to establish Five Star Beef Limited with its large scale feedlot near Ashburton. Nissui, a joint owner of Sealord with Maori, have also been involved since the beginning, so this latest transaction means the end of a 28 year association. . . 

South Canterbury blackcurrant farm cashes in on superfood buzz – Adriana Weber:

A South Canterbury blackcurrant farm is cashing in on the berry’s “superfood” status.

Tony Howey and his wife bought a blackcurrant orchard near Pleasant Point, about two hours south of Christchurch, 12 years ago.

In the past few years in particular, and since converting their farm into an organic one, their business and brand ViBERi has taken off.

Mr Howey said since blackcurrants were high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, they were able to market their products for their health benefits. . . 

Community calls for more drought support:

National Party Spokesperson for Rural Communities Barbara Kuriger has backed the call for the Government to declare a medium scale adverse event to better support those affected by the rapidly emerging drought conditions in Taranaki.

“Taranaki Regional Council have today met with organisations such as DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Rural Advisory Group, Rural Support Trust, Taranaki Veterinary Association and Beef & Lamb NZ, with those organisations all calling on the Government to declare a medium scale adverse event for the whole Taranaki region,” Mrs Kuriger says. . . 

Rural Support Trust Making a Difference:

National Party Spokesperson for Rural Communities Barbara Kuriger has thanked the Rural Support Trust for the care and support they extend to people who are facing challenges and encourages those in need to reach out.

“This year has seen a number of challenges for the rural community. The Rural Support Trust has worked tirelessly to help support those who are in challenging times.

“The current extreme weather conditions across the country present hard times for farmers for a number of reasons, especially due to the need to source feed for animals. . . 

Allbirds expands to Australia, eyes further global markets for 2018 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Allbirds, the merino wool shoe company co-founded by former New Zealand soccer star Tim Brown, has expanded into its third global market, launching in Australia last month, and it’s eyeing up more markets for next year.

San Francisco-based Allbirds started selling its minimalist woollen sneakers direct to consumers in March 2016 and has online operations in the US and New Zealand, shops in San Francisco and New York, and a steady stream of pop-up outlets. It began selling online in Australia on Nov. 21 in response to customer demand from the world’s biggest merino producing country. . . 

Export log prices hit new record on ocntinued strong demand from China:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices edged higher to a new record, buoyed by continued strong demand from China, a weaker currency and historically low shipping rates.

The price for A-Grade export logs reached $129 a tonne, up from $128 a tonne last month, and $127 a tonne the month earlier, marking the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in 2008, according to the agricultural market specialist’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. All of the main log grades tracked by AgriHQ either held steady or lifted as much as $2 a tonne on the previous month, AgriHQ said. . . 

Sealord operating profit up:

Sealord Group Ltd has reported a profit from continuing operations of $21.8M for its financial year ended 30 September 2017.

Net Profit Before Tax from continuing operations of $28.2M was + 10.2% ahead of the previous year.

This was before a net cost related to discontinued operations of $3.2M. . . 


Rural round-up

14/12/2017

Out of pocket by hundreds of thousands – Sally Rae:

A South Otago farmer who estimates  he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak remains concerned about the future of his main income earner.

It was not just the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group — on whose farms the disease was first detected in the Waimate district — that was affected, Ross Clark said.

“A lot of other people are hurting because of this,” Mr Clark, who farms at Glenore, 5km southwest of Milton, said yesterday while in the middle of weaning lambs on his father’s farm near Lovells Flat.

He said the main part of his income was from providing service bulls to the dairy industry, either by lease or sale.

The business, built up over the past decade, had about 600 bulls destined for properties throughout the South Island.

In June, he bought 52 calves from a property in North Otago that later tested positive for the bacterial disease. . .

We will always be here’ – a young farmer’s passionate message to animal rights activists – Alison Waugh:

Animal rights activists have been staging protests at livestock auction marts across the UK over the last couple of months.

Young farmer and student Alison Waugh, 20, has seen enough…

I, like many of my contemporaries, am proud to be part of British agriculture. Farming is the oldest way of life, and the only way we know.

Practically born wearing wellies, I grew up jumping in puddles and feeding pet lambs. My teens were spent perusing science, eyeing up the strapping great young farmers at the shows, and gaining a voracious appetite for all things agriculture. . . 

Dairy farmers clean up act in response to public pressure – Pat Deavoll:

Public pressure is working and Canterbury’s dairy farmers are knuckling down and making an effort to improve the state of the waterways, says a dairy leader.

There has been a “significant shift” in the attitude of dairy farmers towards water quality over the past couple of years, said Mid Canterbury farmer Tom Mason, a member of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Network.

“The lead up to the last election reminded anyone who was a bit reluctant in shifting their practices that they didn’t have much choice – that’s public pressure,” he said. . . .

Farming needs to cultivate a positive image – Peter Burke:

Telling the real dairy story is crucial in being able to attract the next generation of farm staff, scientists and rural professionals, says DairyNZ consulting officer Anna Arrends.

Arrends gave Wellington secondary school teachers, attending the agri-teachers’ day out, insights into the range of career opportunities in dairy science and business.

The teachers also learnt about future farm systems and the range of skills that will be needed as the dairy sector maintains and increases productivity and profitability, while meeting animal welfare and environmental expectations. . .

Botulism poisonings spark warnings over homekill sold on social media

The increasing amount of hunted and homekill meat being offered for sale illegally over social media is causing concern in Ruapehu.

Phoebe Harrison, environmental health officer for Ruapehu District Council, referred to a recent case of a Waikato family falling gravely ill after eating wild boar.

She said the meat was suspected to be contaminated with the potentially fatal botulism toxin.

“This highlights the dangers in eating meat that had not been prepared properly. . . 

When poor listening, financially phobic and wheel-loving farmers go bad – Pita Alexander:

A few weeks ago I referred to the characteristics of top New Zealand farmers, and the response to that has been both encouraging and strong.

To get some balance here, I need to refer to characteristics that people exhibit who do not survive well in business.

Towards that end, here are some less than desirable traits. All going well, you should tick very few of them. . .

 


Rural round-up

10/11/2017

Westland Milk makes case to be NZ poster-child for clean, green dairy, eyes other ingredients –  Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products says it’s a better poster child for New Zealand’s clean, green image than some of its rivals and having returned to profit it is now focused on ensuring its returns to farmers stay competitive as it grows.

“When people think of New Zealand they think of clean water, green pastures, forest-covered hills and snowy peaks,” said chief executive Toni Brendish, who started in September 2016. “Westland is the exemplar of this landscape. Our shareholders’ farms literally border world heritage national parks. More than 90 percent of our rivers meet or exceed the criteria for ‘swimmable’.” . . .

Cattle disease may be more widespread – Van Leeuwen – Alexa Cook:

The dairy farmer at the centre of the South Island cattle disease outbreak is worried it could be more widespread than thought.

First discovered in July, mycoplasma bovis has been found on seven farms in South Canterbury and North Otago – five of them owned by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group who have 16 farms in the area.

On Wednesday the Ministry for Primary industries (MPI) quarantined two new properties that border a Van Leeuwen farm because of “suspicious” tests. . . 

Breeding company wants standardised testing– Alexa Cook:

Artificial breeding company World Wide Sires New Zealand is calling on the industry to bring in a standard testing process for the cattle disease mycoplasma bovis.

The disease was first discovered in July and to date has been found on seven farms in South Canterbury and North Otago, five owned by the large Van Leeuwen Dairy Group.

About 4000 thousand infected cows are being culled and the Ministry for Primary industries is cautiously optimistic that the disease is contained. . . 

Start of export season best for years – Heather Chalmers:

Record returns of more than $10 a kilogram for venison and more than $4/kg for mutton point to one of the brightest starts to the meat export season for many years.

Demand and pricing for lamb is also strong.

While export returns typically peak in spring, as exporters compete for limited supplies of livestock to fill higher-value chilled markets, prices are still well up on the same time last year. . . 

Taking care of big country business – Andrea Fox:

Keeping his animals content and happy was always a fundamental farming principle for Paparata Farms owner Trevor Johnson. Now he’s passed that baton to his staff, he’s applying the same zeal to looking after them.

“My staff and I are a team and I get a lot of satisfaction out of supporting them and providing an environment where they and their families are happy,” says Johnson, whose 7100-hectare high-performance romney and cattle breeding operation on the Forgotten World Highway west of Taumarunui is gearing up for its 29th annual ram sale.

“It’s rewarding, caring for people and seeing them enjoy the work they are doing.” . . 

Rural Equities eyes investment outside of NZ rural property, citing ‘uncertain’ outlook – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, is eyeing investments outside New Zealand rural property where it sees an “uncertain” future.

The Hastings-based company, which owns 22 farms in New Zealand, told shareholders in its annual report published this week that directors decided to consider new long-term investment opportunities in other asset classes and potentially other jurisdictions to provide enhanced returns and portfolio diversification. . . 

Sheep ‘can recognise human faces’ – Paul Rincon:

Sheep have demonstrated the ability to recognise familiar human faces, according to a study.

Cambridge University researchers were able to train sheep to identify the faces of actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson, former US President Barack Obama and BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce.

After training, the sheep chose photos of familiar faces over unfamiliar ones significantly more often than not.

It shows that sheep possess similar face recognition abilities to primates. . . 

#We are those farmers – Uptown Farms:

Shortly after our oldest was born, I started reading everything the search engine returned about how to feed children the “right way”.  It would be a few more years before I realized this is almost never a good idea.
 
From the first article on, an overwhelming weight was being pushed onto my shoulders.  The weight of fear, fear of our food.
 
Everywhere I looked, I was being told our food was scary.  It wasn’t like it “used to be”.  It wasn’t “natural”.  It wasn’t “simple” or “clean”.
 
His runny nose, my extra baby weight, his occasional rashes, my cough, our inability to sleep well, the mysterious missing other sock – all clearly stemmed from consuming this new “Franken-food”.
 
I was being told this, being sold this, by food manufactures and restaurants and bloggers and even other moms.   I was being told I had to pay more, be more selective, and demand more. I had to “know my farmer” and “buy local” or else…

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

03/10/2017

Mānuka roots found to assist water quality – Alexa Cook:

A new study has found that mānuka and kānuka plants reduce nitrate leaching into waterways.

Researchers planted young mānuka, kānuka, and radiata pine trees in containers, called lysimeters, which measure drainage and evapotranspiration from the soil, and then fertilised the plants with urea for 15 weeks.

They applied the equivalent of 800kg per hectare to each pot to simulate urine patches, because research shows that on grazed land, animal urine adds nitrogen at rates up to 1000kg a hectare, contributing up to 70 percent of nitrate leachates. . .

Westland Milk vows to up game – Simon Hartley:

Beleaguered Westland Milk Products has achieved a profit turnaround and promised co-op shareholders to do better this dairy season.

It has also confirmed its target forecast payout range of $6.40-$6.80.

Westland Milk Products payout to farmers of $3.88 per kilogram of milk solids, was the lowest in the country in the 2015-16 season, as the company booked a $10.3million loss. . . 

One new property positive for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ testing programme has identified one new property as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The newly identified property is a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm which was already under a Restricted Place notice under the Biosecurity Act. . . 

New Zeapri chief picks up reins

Zespri’s chief executive of nine years Lain Jager stepped aside last week for new executive and long-time company man Dan Mathieson. Mathieson spoke to Richard Rennie about where he sees the marketer going after a period that has included the worst of times and the best of times for the industry.

Only four days into his new position Dan Mathieson is having to think hard about how he will balance the local, supply-focused challenges of growing more fruit in Bay of Plenty and beyond with the rocketing market growth being experienced out of the company’s Singapore marketing hub.

To help achieve that he intended to spend his time split evenly between head office in Bay of Plenty and the Singapore base he had headed up as Zespri’s global sales and marketing manager. . .

Beef exports hitting headwinds – Simon Hartley:

Further declines in beef prices have been predicted as the strength of the New Zealand dollar and falling United States prices weigh more heavily on exporters.
Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said beef prices had dropped “marginally lower” during the past quarter.

However, further downward price pressure was expected in the months ahead from increased Japanese tariffs on frozen beef imports, creating additional headwinds for Kiwi exporters, he said. . .

Win propels youngster on confidence track:

The confidence boost from winning the 2010 Dairy Trainee of the Year award is propelling a young sharemilker along a valuable career track, he says.
Blake Korteweg, a young herd manager from Otago, in 2010 entered the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and won the Southland-Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

Later that year at the national awards gala dinner in Rotorua he was named 2010 Dairy Trainee of the Year.. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

04/09/2017

Eradication is still doable MPI says – Annette Scott:

Officials expect to decide by the end of the year whether the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated.

The disease, identified on a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm in South Canterbury in July, had now been traced to six farms including four van Leeuwen farms, one North Otago farm believed to be a calf rearing operation and a lifestyle block at Sefton in North Canterbury.

A fourth community meeting in North Otago on Thursday attracted a crowd of 160 people full of questions. . . 

Urgent need to train rural GPs – Eileen Goodwin:

A decade before Waikato University sparked a public debate on a third medical school, a far-sighted Queenstown GP set up a Rural Medical Immersion Programme to try to fill rural health shortages. Health reporter Eileen Goodwin talks to those involved.

The trust founded to further his brother’s legacy fostering rural health may be redundant when a new rural school of medicine is established, John Farry says. Mr Farry, of Dunedin, chairman of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust, hopes the new school will be awarded to the University of Otago under its joint bid with Auckland. He did not want to see it set up as a new medical school, such as that sought by the University of Waikato. . .

Water Conservation Orders should be abolished says Feds:

Federated Farmers is calling for Water Conservation Orders (WCO) to be abolished because they are no longer relevant and a relic of the past.

Under the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Orders are limited and do not acknowledge farming, horticulture, beverages, manufacturing, and access for human and livestock drinking.

The Federation says the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management has superseded the Orders and made the legislation no longer fitting for future challenges around water conservation. . . 

Farm sector welcomes TPP resuscitation talks:

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) of Australia and Federated Farmers of New Zealand say moves to bring into force the bulk of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is good news for both Australian and New Zealand farm exports.

In Sydney this week, officials from Australia and New Zealand concluded three days of talks with chief negotiators from the other nine TPP countries.

The aim of the talks was to push forward on the development of a ‘regional trade pact’ following the United States’ withdrawal from negotiations earlier this year. . . 

Landcorp back in the black as valuations swing in its favour:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming reported a full-year profit as the state-owned farmer recog-nised a jump in the value of livestock and benefited from strong market prices.

Profit was $51.9 million in the year ended June 30, more than four times the $11.5 million it earned a year earlier. Revenue rose 11 percent to $233.5 million while expenses rose 3.3 percent, which included costs related to the end of its sharemilking contract with Shanghai Pengxin, the company said.

The results include a $20 million increase in the value of livestock, “reflecting strong market prices” while the year-earlier result carried an unrealised loss of $24.8 million on land and improvements. The operating profit in the latest year was about $5.7 million, within its guidance range of between $2 million and $7 million, from a year-earlier loss of $9.4 million. . . 

Terms of trade just shy of all-time high:

Record butter prices and high prices for meat helped lift the merchandise terms of trade by 1.5 percent in the June 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said today. This was just shy of the all-time high set 44 years ago in the June 1973 quarter.

Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and an indicator of the state of the overall economy. The 1.5 percent rise in the June quarter means New Zealand can buy 1.5 percent more imports for the same amount of exports.

“The 1.5 percent rise in terms of trade in the June quarter follows a 3.9 percent increase in the March 2017 quarter,” prices senior manager Jason Attewell said today. “Because the March provisional quarter was revised down from 5.1 percent, the terms of trade didn’t quite reach the record high as expected, but it is very close.” . . 

NZ’s Top Butcher Announced:

The nation’s top butcher and butcher apprentice have been announced this evening at one of the most anticipated events on the meat industry calendar.

Reuben Sharples from Aussie Butcher New Lynn has been named Alto Butcher of the Year and Samantha Weller from New World Rangiora took out the title of Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

Following three highly competitive regional competitions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, 10 finalists from each category went head to head in the Grand Final held at Shed 10 in Auckland earlier today. . . 

T&G Global secures exclusive commercialisation rights for blueberry varieties in Australia:

T&G Global has become the license holder of a suite of 16 proprietary blueberry varieties in Australia, allowing it to better deliver to growing demand for berry fruit worldwide.

The exclusive agreement represents one of the biggest collections of proprietary commercial and pre-commercial blueberry varieties in the world and is the result of an agreement between T&G and Plant & Food Research in New Zealand. The arrangement includes varieties developed by Plant & Food Research and a collection of premium varieties from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in Oregon, USA, for which Plant & Food Research holds the Australian licensing rights. . . 

Farmers feed cities. Support your local farmer before the Labour Party sens him/her out of business.


Rural round-up

10/08/2017

Farmers to Labour: “Tell Us Your Numbers”:

Federated Farmers’ challenge to Labour is: “Tell us what numbers you have in mind.”

Labour yesterday announced proposals for a tax on water for large commercial users, including farmers who rely on irrigation water, but in the absence of detail some eye-watering numbers in the billions of dollars have been floated.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Chris Allen said the pledge to consult with those affected if Labour is part of the new government is appreciated, but it still means voters are sailing blind into the election. . .

Seven farm tests show  no disease – Sally Rae:

The first test results from seven of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group’s farms have returned negative for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The bacterial disease has previously been confirmed on two VLDG properties in the Waimate district, the first time the disease had been detected in New Zealand.

In an update yesterday, response incident controller Eve Pleydell said two further rounds of testing would be required on those seven farms before they could be declared free of the disease. Results were pending for the remaining seven VLDG properties.

Good progress was made during the weekend, as laboratory teams continued to test thousands of milk and blood samples from VLG farms and neighbouring properties, Dr Pleydell said. . . 

‘No evidence’ imported frozen semen cause of mycoplasma outbreak:

Key points
MPI has confirmed no evidence that of resistance to mycoplasma in imports of bovine semen.
World Wide Sires – marketing arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world Select Sires/Accelerated Genetics – reinforce all bulls and semen free of the disease.

The New Zealand arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world – and one of the globe’s major semen companies – is pleased MPI has confirmed there is no evidence that resistance has developed to mycoplasma in imported bovine semen*. . . 

Horticulture election manifesto asks for land and water protection:

Horticulture New Zealand has launched its 2017 Election Manifesto with five key priorities for the new Government, to be elected on 23 September.

“Keeping unique growing land and having sensible policies around access to water are critical to New Zealand’s ongoing supply of safe, healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“One of our main asks for a new Government will be a food security policy for New Zealand. This may sound redundant in such an abundant land, but there are a host of challenges to our food supply including urban encroachment on unique growing land, emotional battles over water, changing weather patterns, access to enough people to grow and harvest our food, and increasing border traffic meaning more potential biosecurity risks. . . 

New national standard for plantation forestry:

A new nationwide set of environmental rules for managing New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of plantation forestry will better protect the environment and deliver significant savings in compliance costs, Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston say.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest primary industry but its efficiency is hampered by the confusing mix of planning rules across New Zealand’s 86 councils. The strength of this national approach is that it will better protect the environment while also improving the productivity of the forestry sector by applying consistent environmental standards to reduce operational costs,” Dr Smith says. . . 

What’s gone wrong with New Zealand farming? – Glen Herud:

New Zealanders were once proud of our farming heritage. But at some point, as agriculture intensified and started spilling into our other source of pride, our clean green image, trust was lost, writes GLEN HERUD.

To the general public, it looked like farmers were getting greedy.

But like Auckland housing, farming has changed from an every man’s game. And the answer is not to tweak the regulations or adjust nitrogen inputs with new technology. These are both fine. The answer is a whole new system.

The number of dairy herds in New Zealand is decreasing but the size of each herd is increasing.

A graph from Dairy NZ shows that in 1986 there were 16,000 dairy herds with an average herd size of 140 cows. Today we have 11,500 herds with an average herd size of 420 cows. . . 

The great food disruption: part 4 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part three of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable.

Tyson Foods – one of the biggest meat producers in the world – sent its principal scientist, Hultz Smith, to the Modern Agriculture Foundation’s Cultured Meat and Path to Commercialisation Conference in Israel this year to learn from the world’s top-tier cellular agricultural and tissue engineering scientists, researchers, academics and industry leaders. A proponent of cellular agriculture, Hultz even openly supports cultured meat research, viewing it as a viable substitute to current meat production and one that gives consumers a broader choice. And in late 2016 the company launched a $150 million venture fund zeroing in on the alternative protein – including cellular agriculture – space. “This fund is about broadening our exposure to innovative, new forms of protein and ways of producing food,” said Monica McGurk, Tyson executive vice president of strategy, at its launch. . .

Australia’s Capilano Honey profits bolstered from capital gain in asset sale to Comvita JV – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Australian honey maker Capilano Honey’s joint venture with Comvita has had an immediate, if unrealised, benefit for the Queensland-based company’s bottom line.

The two honey companies teamed up last year to create Medibee Apiaries in Australia to produce Leptospermum honey, commonly known as manuka, for medical and natural health products. In July last year, Capilano realised a capital gain of A$2.1 million following the sale of its manuka beekeeping assets into the joint venture with no tax attributable to the capital gain on the asset sale, it said. The total assets it sold into the joint venture were worth A$9.2 million. . . 

PGG Wrightson full-year profit gains 5.7% as lower debt costs offset stalled revenue growth –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson posted a 5.7 percent gain in full-year profit, meeting its guidance, as the rural services company benefitted from lower interest costs, offsetting stalled growth in revenue.

Profit rose to $46.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $43.8 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. Sales fell to $1.13 billion from $1.18 billion. . . 

Young Grower of the Year decided next week:

The winner of the New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower and four regional Young Fruit Grower winners will compete next week for the national title Young Grower of the Year 2017.

On August 16 and 17, at the Sudima Airport Hotel in Christchurch, the five finalists will test their horticultural skills and knowledge. This year’s entrants are:

New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2017 – Scott Wilcox, Pukekohe
Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Jordan James, Whakatu
Central Otago Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ben Geaney, Waimate
Nelson Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ralph Bastian, Appleby
Bay of Plenty Fruit Grower 2017 – Erin Atkinson, Te Puke . . 


Rural round-up

08/08/2017

Mycoplasma bovis – update:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) continues to build the picture of where the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present, to contain it and eradicate if possible.

Response Incident Controller Eve Pleydell says good progress has been made over the weekend.

“Our laboratory teams were working at the weekend to continue testing the thousands of milk and blood samples from Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) farms and neighbouring properties. To date 2,610 samples have been received. . . 

Singer really is a country woman – Sally Rae:

Fanny Lumsden finds it ”hilarious” that it is rare for a country singer to actually be from the country.
Unlike many of her counterparts, Ms Lumsden (30) is a true country girl, brought up on a sheep and cropping farm in western New South Wales.

Born Edwina Margaret Lumsden – she got the nickname Fanny at university and it stuck – she enjoyed a typical rural upbringing: riding horses and helping on the farm after school and during school holidays. . .

Continuing strong performance delivers greater returns for farmers :

Ravensdown is paying a total annual rebate of $45 per tonne after a third year of strong results.

The 10% increase in rebate on purchased products compared to last year was due to continued balance sheet strength, growing market share and a profit before tax and rebate of $51 million from continuing operations.

“All-year value is important to farmers, so I’m delighted we were able to deliver this rebate as well as having led major price reductions throughout the year,” said Ravensdown Chairman John Henderson. . .

The great food disruption: part 2 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part two of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable.

  • Read part 1 here.

So what’s driving these bounteous sums of venture capital and the world’s most talented scientists and entrepreneurs into the field of cellular agriculture and synbio? One might think that nabbing a slice of the multi-trillion dollar food pie would be the primary motivation. That’s certainly part of it. But it’s not all of it. By using synbio these startups are hoping to transform conventional agriculture’s woefully flawed business model. And there’s nothing startups like more than inefficient legacy systems (and audacious goals).

Where’s Welly? – Sally Rae:

Last month, Welly the gumboot was dispatched from Bluff to travel the length of the country as part of an initiative by Mosgiel-based technology company TracMap.
The catch was that only social media platform Twitter could be used to secure rides to move Welly up the country and TracMap developed an app so anyone interested in Welly’s adventure could track its progress.

The gumboot arrived at Cape Reinga to be reunited with its ”solemate” only to find that Galosh had headed to a ”wellness retreat” in Samoa, with Ian Handcock from Fit4Farming. . .

 

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And that students is  all the use for baling twine.


Rural round-up

06/08/2017

Rules tweak still leaves migrant dairy workers in a bind – Chris Lewis:

The Government recently relaxed the “mid-skilled” migrant salary threshold to avoid tough new restrictions down to $41,000. So why are farmers still unhappy?

They’re unhappy because in the dairy sector, salary threshold is not the problem. In submissions to the Government the dairy industry did not object to the original threshold of $49,000.

The fact is, unless the migrant worker is a farm manager or earns over $73,000, they’re deemed “low-skilled” and booted out of the country after three years. Hardly an incentive to even apply in the first place, and disruptive and expensive for the farmer, who has to look for someone else to plug the gap. . . 

Alliance targets UK food service – Tony Benny:

Alliance Group has launched a pilot programme in UK targeting high-end restaurants and hotels in a bid to generate more revenue. Tony Benny reports.

Food service is growing globally while traditional retail outlets in many markets are stagnating and marketers often talk of the need for producers to shift their focus to this growth sector. Now Alliance has established a four-person team in the UK tasked with making direct connections to top chefs and building new distribution channels.

“Historically a lot of New Zealand lamb has gone into wholesale in some form and can go through three or four sets of hands before it gets to the end customer and often the end customer doesn’t know where their lamb’s coming from,” says Alliance director of food service Graham Bougen, who heads the team in UK. . . 

Vet praises farming gorup’s reaction – Sally Rae:

The veterinarian who initially signalled the possibility of an outbreak of a bacterial disease not previously found in New Zealand says it has been an ”enormously stressful and harrowing experience” for the farmers involved.

Yesterday, Merlyn Hay addressed a meeting at Papakaio, outlining how confirmation of Mycoplasma bovis in cows on two Van Leeuwen Dairy Group properties unfolded.

Over the past few weeks, her priority focus – as the group’s key veterinarian – had been her client and their cows and she had ”nothing but admiration” for the way the group had conducted itself during the crisis, she said.

The care and concern shown to animals in their charge had been humbling and the group deserved empathy and respect. She hoped the community would support them as the crisis continued. . . 

Neighbouring properties test negative for disease – Sally Rae:

Results have confirmed nine of the farms bordering Van Leeuwen Dairy Group properties,  all  tested negative for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The bacterial disease had previously been confirmed on two Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms in the Waimate district, the first time the disease had been detected in New Zealand.

In a statement last night, Ministry for Primary Industries director of response Geoff Gwyn said the results for the nine neighbouring properties was good news but further tests, over several months, on those farms would be required before they could be declared free of the disease. . . 

Urgency needed over disease tests:

The discovery of Mycoplasma bovis on two South Canterbury farms understandably has the farming community on tenterhooks.

The bacterial disease may be prevalent among cattle globally but it has never previously been detected in New Zealand.

Fortunately, it presents no food safety risk and there are no concerns about consuming milk and milk products.

But the disease has serious effects including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia and arthritis and therefore the ramifications for farmers — both financially and from an animal welfare perspective — are huge. . . 

Dairy farmers still fighting debt – Richard Rennie:

Waikato and Bay of Plenty dairy farmers face a “back to the future” slog into 2020 to get back to their 2015-16 season when dairy prices took a tumble.

The latest AgFirst financial survey for Waikato-Bay of Plenty dairy farmers was released last week.

Survey compiler Phil Journeaux said the model farm used in the budget incurred an additional $126,560 of term debt, or almost $1/kg of milksolids in 2015-16 to cover the hit the farm took when the payout slumped to $3.90/kg MS that season.

“This loan amount was almost an extra $1/kg milksolids and some debt repayment was made in 2016-17 and is budgeted again for 2017-18. . . 

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I tried taking some high resolution photos of local farmland  but they all turned out really grainy.

 

 


Rural round-up

02/08/2017

Survey shows big jump in number of farms making a profit:

A few weeks of winter remain but the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey shows there’s a spring in the step of those who work the land.

The responses to Research First from nearly 800 farmers show the highest level of confidence in current general economic conditions since 2014. Dairy and arable farmers are the most optimistic looking forward and all regions are demonstrating more optimism compared to the last survey, in January this year. . . 

Milk testing for tankers to stop cattle disease spread – Alexa Cook:

Bulk milk tests will be done on tankers across the country to see if the cattle disease outbreak has spread any further than South Canterbury.

The disease, mycoplasma bovis, has been found on two separate properties owned by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in South Canterbury, who have 16 farms in the region.

Ministry for Primary Industries’ Director of Response Geoff Gwyn said it had decided to do a national bulk milk survey. . .

Protesters block Canterbury irrigation project:

Greenpeace protesters have locked themselves to construction equipment to try to block the construction of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme in central Canterbury.

The second stage of building the Central Plains Water (CPW) scheme began in May. The scheme is intended to irrigate 60,000 hectares of dairy, horticulture and stock between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. . .

Captive workforce for hort sector – Pam Tipa:

A pilot scheme helping ex-prisoners and other offenders to find work in the horticulture industry is succeeding and will be expanded, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

Corrections and Horticulture NZ have seen the first year of a pilot scheme succeed in Hawkes Bay and now plan to expand it into Bay of Plenty. It trains prisoners to be work-ready for employers and sets up horticulture work opportunities for their release.

“Corrections appreciates the support and leadership of the horticulture sector, which is helping change the lives of offenders and giving new hope to their families,” Upston says. . . .

Medium scale adverse event declared for Otago flooding:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today officially classified the flooding in Otago as a medium-scale event for Dunedin City, Clutha District, Waitaki District and Central Otago District.

“This is recognition of the damage caused and the challenges faced by the region, and triggers additional Government support,” says Mr Guy. . .

Flood hit Otago farmers appreciate Government assistance:

Federated Farmers applauds the Government’s decision to declare a medium scale adverse event in flooded parts of Otago.

The region was hit by extensive flooding last month with many paddocks especially on the Taieri Plains still under water and reports that supplementary feed has been lost to raging flood waters.

“Farmers are still doing it tough so this should bring some light to the end of the tunnel in what has been a grim week as the extent of damage has become clear,” says Federated Farmers’ Otago Provincial President Phill Hunt. . .

Greenpeace report dies a death by qualification – Doug Edmeades:

 Greenpeace recently released a report entitled Sick of Too Many Cows. In summary, it claims that intensive dairy is endangering our health and ipso facto the Government should stop all the proposed irrigation schemes and that the dairy industry should adopt a new ecological model.

Federated Farmers called it “sensational rhetoric”. Another commentator, Allan Emerson, described it as: “……. hysterical, unfounded allegations by a lunatic fringe group desperate for donations”. Amanda Larsson, a Greenpeace campaigner, retorted that such criticism was cavalier, adding, “I’m happy to have a conversation about the science. Examination and interrogation is central to the scientific process.”

Let’s take her at her word and do a little “examination and interrogation”. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers appoint new Executive Director:

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers is pleased to announce the contracted appointment of Liz Read to the role of Executive Director for the next twelve months.

Liz runs her own consultancy called Reputation Matters, helping organisations to grow, maintain and save their reputation. She advises clients on stakeholder relations, issues and risk management, communications strategy and sustainability strategy. Her clients span the public and private sectors, industry organisations, not-for-profits and social enterprises. Liz’s corporate experience included ten years as External Relations Director for Lion New Zealand.  . . 


Rural round-up

01/08/2017

Mycoplasma bovis – Media Update Monday 31 July 2017:

A second dairy farm in South Canterbury that was already under biosecurity controls has today been confirmed as positive for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

This farm is linked to the initial property under investigation and is part of the 16 farm Van Leeuwen Dairy Group. The detection was not unexpected given close connections between the 2 farms.

MPI is today continuing sampling and testing for the disease on all farms in the enterprise, as well as neighbouring farms. . .

Business beats nostalgia for Elsthorpe sheep breeder Rick Lee – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer has moved away from his dual purpose roots to breed stud sheep focused on meat production. He talks to Kate Taylor.

It’s hard to see the motorbikes from the mud as Rick Lee and his father Charlie pull up to the sheds on their Elsthorpe farm.

It is a wet winter after a dry summer, but there’s a smile on both faces under their woolly hats.

Charlie has been fixing something in the yards and Rick has checked the stock. A team of dogs have also done their duty for the morning and are tied up at the woolshed. It’s morning tea time. . .

Dairy with ‘pasture plus’ – Keith Woodford:

A key and consistent message over many years from DairyNZ to its 12,000 farmer members has been the importance of optimising the use of grass. Aligned to this, has been an ongoing negativity to non-pasture supplementation.

I know of no-one who disputes the ongoing importance of grass to the New Zealand dairy industry. However, there are many who would argue – and I am one of them – that DairyNZ has become blinkered to the opportunities that can arise from ‘pasture-plus’ dairy systems.

Ironically, despite the DairyNZ focus, there has been a steady drift by farmers to increasing use of supplement since the turn of the century, typically by matching stocking rate to peak pasture production and then feeding supplements in the shoulder seasons. . . .

Hamilton leaving SFF in strong position –  Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton is leaving the meat processing group at the end of the year.
He made the announcement yesterday just days after saying SFF has never been in a stronger financial position.

He has been chief executive for three years.

Along with chairman Rob Hewett, Mr Hamilton helped drive the merger deal with Shanghai Maling, giving the Chinese company a 50% stake in the Dunedin-based SFF. . .

Milk ’em instead – Peter Burke:

Massey University sheep milking expert Craig Prichard’s fun exhibit at Fieldays — allowing site visitors to milk a sheep — had seriously optimistic intent.

Behind the fun was positive news about the rapidly growing sheep milk industry in NZ.

He noted that people have a sort of anxiety about food, prompting them to query its health properties and ponder whether it will make them feel better. People want to learn more about products made from sheep milk, Prichard says. . .

Dairy farmers warned to watch out for ergot – Nicole Sharp:

Three dairy farms in Southland and South Otago have been affected by ergot poisoning after feeding infected ryegrass to dairy cattle.

To date, only dairy cows had been affected but ergot poisoning can affect other animals.

Ergot is a naturally occurring fungus which can affect grains and grasses, and produces potent alkaloids poisonous to animals.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman said ergot poisoning occurred sporadically when environmental conditions were suitable in New Zealand. . .

Dyes in poultry feed meet demand for bright yellow egg yolks – Amanda Cropp:

Kiwi consumers are crazy about vividly coloured egg yolks, but Asian customers of an egg exporter prefer a paler version.

The New Zealand Egg Producers Federation confirmed synthetic carotenoid food dyes, or more expensive natural ones made from marigold, turmeric or paprika extracts, were fed to both caged and free-range laying hens.

Federation technical advisor Kerry Mulqueen​ said many commercial egg farms used them because New Zealanders preferred brighter yellow yolks.

The diet of some free range hens also included the colour additive because they did not eat a lot of grass, he said. . .


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