Rural round-up

November 23, 2016

Dog shot after more sheep maulings – Mike Dinsdale:

Four sheep dead, at least 14 more badly mauled and at least one of the dogs responsible dead.

It was a weekend of death near Dargaville as landowners again saw their sheep killed or mauled by marauding dogs, but at least one of those responsible was caught this time.

Overnight on Friday two dogs went onto two properties at Colville Rd and attacked flocks of sheep belonging to Lynley Thompson in one paddock and neighbour Nick Thompson in another. . . 

Search for perfect horse proves fruitful – Sally Rae:

On a farm near Ranfurly, there is a big grey stallion living the life of Brian.
Ballineen Blue Mountain, aka Brian, is making a name for himself in equine circles. As well as the Irish Draught’s own plaudits, success is now coming for his offspring, notably Trevalda Mountain Storm, who was recently recognised as one of five outstanding exhibits at the Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch.

Such an accolade was “pretty cool” and “a little bit unexpected” for Trevalda Mountain Storm’s breeder and Brian’s owner Tracy Crossan. . . 

Silver Fern sale to complete ahead of schedule

The controversial deal which will see meat processor Silver Fern Farms sell a 50% controlling stake to China’s Shanghai Maling for $267 million in cash is to completed before the end of the year.

The transaction, which was approved by farmer shareholders at two separate meetings, was due to proceed by January 4, 2017.

In a statement, SFF said it would now complete the deal prior to mid-December. Silver Fern Farms chair Rob Hewett said there was little merit in ” simply waiting”. . . 

Dairying in Argentina not for the faint-hearted – Pablo Fraga:

Argentina, once seen as a world ‘bread basket’, today faces many obstacles in achieving this. Argentinean student Pablo Fraga reports on the challenges of dairy farming in his country.

Let me first point out some figures, for context: milk production in Argentina is 11 billion litres per year (versus 20.7b L/year in New Zealand) – twice the production of the 1980s but static for the past ten years.

This places the country eighth in the world in milk production. Exports represent only 20% of national production, the balance being consumed domestically; we are big milk consumers. . . .

British Wool: a thriving industry, thanks to running the last marketing board in the country  Julia Bradshaw:

Every sheep is different, so every fleece is different, you open one up and never know what you’re going to get,” says Ian Brooksbank, a senior head grader for the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) – the country’s last surviving agricultural commodities co-operative.

Brooksbank works at its North of England depot, a massive warehouse on the outskirts of Bradford, next to the headquarters of the marketing board. There, he and a team of workers grade and package fleeces from the surrounding counties. Grading takes huge skill, and Brooksbank has years of experience. “I started here in 1990 when I was 16, just pushing the skeps,” he says as he touches the fleece in front of him, pulling out and inspecting the fibres to see how strong and uniform they are. . . 

Iowa farmer challenges activist Vandana Shiva after ‘myth-filled’ anti-GMO lecture – Michelle Miller:

As a farmer, writer, and public speaker, I work very hard to dispel the myths of modern agriculture. Over 90% of certain crop farmers here in the US are growing GMOs for good reasons which I’ve previously outlined here. So when I heard that one of the world’s most famous anti-GMO activists–Indian philosopher Vandana Shiva–was coming to my area in Iowa to speak at Drake University, I felt I need to hear what she had to say and hopefully get the opportunity in a Q&A to speak up.

And, fortunately I got my wish! She had a Q&A and I nervously approached the microphone to speak up on behalf of farmers everywhere. Shiva is known for spreading misinformation about agriculture. . . .


Rural round-up

August 3, 2015

Ballance delivers cash to shareholders up front:

. . . Farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients has fast-tracked its 2014/15 rebate and dividend payment to get much-needed cash to farmers early.

On 31 July, the co-operative will begin its distribution of an average $60 per tonne, seven weeks ahead of its normal payment schedule. The rebate, averaging $55.83 a tonne along with a 10 cent dividend per share will see a total distribution to shareholders of $76 million – equating to 94 percent of its $81 million gross trading result.

Chairman David Peacocke said today that the co-operative’s solid performance meant it could support its shareholders and move quickly to do so. . .

Mixing style, substance and ambition – Sally Rae:

Chanelle Purser is possibly the most stylish calf rearer in Crookston.

Her fur jacket might usually remain in the wardrobe while she is in the calf shed, but brightly painted fingers dispense milk to hungry charges.

Mrs Purser (42) is somewhat of a dynamo, farming with her husband Phil in West Otago and running a successful retail business in Gore, but she takes it all in her well-manicured stride. . .

Strong demand for good farm dogs – Diane Bishop:

A shortage of good working dogs pushed prices up at the Gore dog sale.

PGG Wrightson Gore livestock manager Mark Cuttance said the top heading dogs fetched $5500 to $5700 while the top huntaways made about $5600 at the sale on Wednesday July 29.

Cuttance wasn’t surprised.

“We expect that sort of money for the top end dogs,” he said.

Cuttance said there was a shortage of good working dogs, because of less shepherds on the land, and vendors saw the Gore dog sale as the perfect opportunity to achieve market value for their dogs in a competitive environment. . . .

Mid Canterbury farmland sold to foreign-owned Craigmore Farming – Jack Montgomerie:

A company associated with a South Canterbury rich-lister has bought more Canterbury farmland.

An Overseas Investment Office decision released on Friday stated the 95 per cent foreign-owned Craigmore Farming NZ Limited Partnership had received approval to buy 83 hectares of land.

Craigmore planned to incorporate the cropping land on New Park Rd, located about 15 kilometres southwest of Ashburton, into its Wairepo dairy farm operation. . .

End the squabbling over free range – David Leyonhjelm:

TO scramble the metaphors, various thin-shelled types are running around like headless chooks over free-range eggs, proclaiming the sky will fall if the law doesn’t tell us all what the term means.

Facts and evidence are as scarce as hen’s teeth, while market forces are disappearing faster than a randy rooster.

The cause is the fact that consumers are increasingly choosing free-range eggs over cage eggs. There are no health, welfare, nutritional or environmental advantages to this. Cage and free-range eggs are no different, although free-range eggs are more likely to be contaminated by chook poo. . .

 Pretty Woman protecting soils:

JULIA Roberts is getting dirty with the aim of helping agriculture.

The Academy Award winner and star of such films as Pretty Woman and Mystic Pizza, has become the latest in a line of international VIPs to call for action to protect soils.

The Hollywood actress has become the newest face of the Save Our Soils initiative, following in the footsteps of several dedicated environmentalists including the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, activist Vandana Shiva and conservationist Douglas Tompkins. . .

Green dilemma – a GE rice that reduces greenhouse gas emissions – Kiwiblog:

This will pose a dilemma for the Greens. Scientists have developed a genetically engineered rice crop that has significantly reduced methane (the most powerful greenhouse gas) emissions over normal rice.

So if the Greens truly believe their rhetoric that greenhouse gas emissions are the biggest threat to Earth today, surely this means they will drop their opposition to genetically engineered crops and welcome this GE rice?

Nature Magazine reports:

Atmospheric methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, and is responsible for about 20% of the global warming effect since pre-industrial times1, 2. Rice paddies are the largest anthropogenic methane source and produce 7–17% of atmospheric methane2, 3. Warm waterlogged soil and exuded nutrients from rice roots provide ideal conditions for methanogenesis in paddies with annual methane emissions of 25–100-million tonnes3, 4. This scenario will be exacerbated by an expansion in rice cultivation needed to meet the escalating demand for food in the coming decades4.  . .

Apropos of which with a hat tip to Utopia:


A tale of two conferences

February 12, 2015

 

Lincoln University is hosting an international conference on food science and technology:

The overarching theme of the conference is the future of food innovation, nutrition and technology, and it will bring together more than 250 scientists, government officials and industry representatives from more than 50 countries around the globe.

The conference also celebrates the 50 year anniversary of the International Journal of Food Science and Technology (IJFST) – one of the oldest and most established journals in food science and technology in the world.

The conference theme is a highly relevant one, with food science and technology expected to play an increasingly important role in addressing current and future challenges in food production.

A large and rapidly growing global population, deteriorating agricultural soils, increasing demand for water resources, and the need to rapidly modify production methods based on climate change are all providing a serious challenge to the field of food science.

According to Lincoln University Professor in Food Science, Editor-in-Chief of IJFST, and conference chairman, Charles Brennan, the event is a unique opportunity to facilitate an information exchange that brings together industry, universities and research centres.

“The mix of those attending should allow for some good dialogue between both industry and research, which is tremendously important to ensure that tangible and workable projects are undertaken, the right kind of issues are addressed, and new opportunities are identified.

“The conference will also provide a great opportunity to showcase the pivotal role New Zealand plays in the area of food science and product innovation. . .

This conference will highlight the scientific approach to the challenge of feeding the world.

Offsetting Behaviour posts on another conference which provides a stark and unscientific contrast:

A plucky group of scientific outsiders, presenting results outside of the mainstream consensus, hosts its own conference with presentations mostly from those in their heterodox club. They present themselves as providing the truth that is much opposed by big moneyed interests. They’re celebrated in a reception hosted in Parliament by one of the political parties. The media is expected to highlight their alternative take on reality, with perhaps some offsetting commentary from those in the mainstream; the overall effect, though, is to stoke and legitimise popular misunderstandings. . .

This weekend brings GMO-sceptics to Wellington. Presentations include “Pesticides: scilencing the ecosystem and silencing our children” and “Overweight, undernourished, sterile and dying of cancer. Our food is it sealing the fate of humanity?”

And the Greens are hosting them in Parliament: . . .

Imagine the uproar if another party was to host a pseudo-scientific conference in parliament.

A few further notes:

  • The keynote speaker, Gilles-Eric Seralini, found tumours in mice fed GM crops. But his paper was retracted due to concerns like these. It was later elsewhere republished in a friendlier outlet.
  • Vandana Shiva, also there speaking, earned this profile in the New Yorker, which concluded:

    When Shiva writes that “Golden Rice will make the malnutrition crisis worse” and that it will kill people, she reinforces the worst fears of her largely Western audience. Much of what she says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.

  • On 29 January this year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science released a rather timely survey on scientific support for use of genetic modification techniques in food. Huffington has the summary

    In sharp contrast to public views about GMOs, 89% of scientists believe genetically modified foods are safe.

    That’s the most eye-opening finding in a Pew Research Center study on science literacy, undertaken in cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and released on January 29.

    The overwhelming scientific consensus exceeds the percentage of scientists, 88%, who think humans are mostly responsible for climate change. However, the public appears far more suspicious of scientific claims about GMO safety than they do about the consensus on global warming.

    Some 57% of Americans say GM foods are unsafe and a startling 67% do not trust scientists, believing they don’t understand the science behind GMOs. AAAS researchers blame poor reporting by mainstream scientists for the trust and literacy gaps.

    The survey also contrasts sharply with a statement published earlier this week in a pay-for-play European journal by a group of anti-GMO scientists and activists, including Michael Hansen of the Center for Food Safety, and philosopher Vandana Shiva, claiming, “no scientific consensus on GMO safety.”

The scientific consensus on GMOs is as strong as the scientific consensus on climate change. Will Browning have to retract this like he had to pull back from endorsing homeopathy for Ebola?

The Greens could play at highlighting the heterodox views on GMOs a couple years ago. But when 89% of scientists say GMO food is safe?

Scientific validity isn’t based on popularity.

But if the Greens decry as deniers those who doubt the high percentage of scientists who support the concept of human induced climate change what are they if they doubt the even higher percentage who say GMOs are safe?

And is parliament the appropriate place for such a conference?

 

 

 

 


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