Rural round-up

January 4, 2020

Nature policies an eco disaster – Jamie McFadden:

When government policy goes wrong it can deliver disastrous consequences. Such is the case with the Government’s climate change policies.

North Canterbury is a stronghold of agriforestry and there are many benefits to having exotic forestry integrated on farms. 

However, like the rural lobby group 50 Shades of Green, we have major concerns about the Government’s climate change policies. If the policy direction continues we will see changes to our landscapes and rural communities of a scale not seen since the land clearance subsidy days pre-1980. . .

Agritech worker raising awareness of diverse careers – Jacob McSweeny:

Working in farming doesn’t always mean driving the tractor, herding the sheep or milking the cows, says Next Farm’s Sammi Stewart. She talks to business reporter Jacob McSweeny about her hopes to inspire younger generations to realise the types of futures available in the agritech sector.

Sammi Stewart wants to get kids back into farming but she does not mean chucking on the gumboots and getting up early to milk the cows.

‘‘I grew up on a farm in Southland so my parents had a sheep and beef farm and when you live in rural Southland you either milk cows or shear sheep,’’ said the brand manager of Dunedin start-up Next Farm. . . .

Top seven must dos for employment contracts – Chris Lewis:

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers employment spokesman, lists his top seven “must-do’s” for farmers when it comes to employment contracts.

Recent legal decisions on employment agreements have highlighted the need for farmers to get the fine print right. Here are my top seven considerations from a farmers’ perspective.

1. Get an agreement in place

The first priority is to get a written employment agreement in place to begin with for every employee, even for casual and part time workers. This should outline the terms and conditions of employment fully, be provided to the employee before they start work, and be agreed upon and signed by both parties. . .

Taranaki rural woman Margaret Vickers is a Member of Excellence – Ilona Hanne:

Margaret Vickers is excellent.

That’s official now, as she was formally enrolled as a Member of Excellence of Rural Women New Zealand last year.

Margaret’s years of service to the organisation were recognised when she was enrolled as a Member of Honour and presented with the Olive Craig Tray in recognition of her dedication and commitment.

Only two women received this honour in 2019, and Margaret says it is still only just sinking in as to quite how special the honour is. . . 

Oamaru Meats to resume operations next week – Jacob McSweeny:

Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) is set to open again a week into the new year, after a suspension in the China market forced its closure in September.

The factory will open its doors again on Monday.

The suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard.

The closure put 160 seasonal workers out of work and OML director, Richard Thorp, said it was likely most of them would return.

‘‘I think for this start-up period it won’t be a lot different. There’ll be about 140 to 150 people employed on the site come the sixth. . .

 

The EU’s absurd risk aversion stifles new ideas – Matt Ridley:

With tariffs announced against Brazil and Argentina, and a threat against France, Donald Trump is dragging the world deeper into a damaging trade war. Largely unnoticed, the European Union is also in trouble at the World Trade Organisation for its continuing and worsening record as a protectionist bloc.

Last month, at the WTO meeting in Geneva, India joined a list of countries including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia that have lodged formal complaints against the EU over barriers to agricultural imports. Not only does the EU raise hefty tariffs against crops such as rice and oranges to protect subsidised European farmers; it also uses health and safety rules to block imports. The irony is that these are often dressed up as precautionary measures against health and environmental threats, when in fact they are sometimes preventing Europeans from gaining health and environmental benefits.

The WTO complaints accuse the EU of “unnecessarily and inappropriately” restricting trade through regulatory barriers on pesticide residues that violate international scientific standards and the “principle of evidence”. Worse, they say, “it appears that the EU is unilaterally attempting to impose its own domestic regulatory approach on to its trading partners”, disproportionately harming farmers in the developing nations whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. . . 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2019

New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector is concerned about Government’s freshwater proposals :

The viability of some meat processing plants in New Zealand will be in doubt under the Government’s current freshwater proposals, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“While we generally support the ambition of the proposals for cleaner freshwater, the planned river quality limits are excessively tight and exceed current limits already consented by regional councils,” says Tim Ritchie, chief executive of MIA.

“These limits are likely to result in substantial economic costs to the me . . 

 

Fonterra resolves Chilean dispute with buy-out – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it is purchasing the minority shareholding interests in Chilean dairy company Prolesur solves an acrimonious relationship between Fonterra and the Fundación Isabel Aninat. This may prove to be an early step in the rationalisation and eventual divestment of Fonterra’s Chilean operations.

Fonterra’s Chilean operations are managed under a complex structure. The major asset is the almost wholly-owned Soprole, which in turn owns 70.5 percent of Prolesur. Fonterra also owns additional shares in Prolesur through another structure, giving it a total Prolesur holding of 86.2 percent.

The key minority shareholder in Prolesur is Fundación Isabel Aninat which has ties to the Catholic Church. . . 

Commitment to change lifts audit grades:

A willingness to proactively improve farming practices has seen 89 per cent of Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) shareholders achieve an A or B Farm Environment Plan (FEP) audit during the 2018/19 season; an increase of 21 percent from the 2016/17 season.

C audit grades have decreased from 28 per cent in the 2016/17 season to 9 per cent in the 2018/19, while just one farm received a D audit grade.

Farm Environment Plans help farmers to recognise and manage on-farm environmental risks. Once the plan is in place an independent audit is carried out to check how the risks are being managed and how Good Management Practices (GMP) are being applied to minimise the impact on water quality. . .

Farmstrong: avoid common strains and niggles:

Farming is a physically demanding job and can cause a lot of wear and tear on the body if you don’t look after it so Farmstrong has teamed up with VetSouth to make a series of short injury prevention videos for farmers.

VetSouth director and large animal vet Neil Hume is based in Winton. He and his team have been working with local physiotherapist Dennis Kelly to help staff avoid injury. 

“A lot of the work vets do is repetitive,” Hume says.  . . 

Berries inspire new local brew – Richard Rennie:

A chance conversation over the fence between a blueberry grower and a brewer prompted the men to combine their talents to create a blueberry beer for summer.

Waikato blueberry grower and Blueberries New Zealand chairman Dan Peach said it was a fortuitous encounter with Good George brewer Brian Watson that provided a new market for his crop. 

Watson said it has taken three years to get to the point the beer can be commercialised.  . . 

Young people pitch in at South Arm – Mel Leigh Dee:

One gripe that came out of a bushfire community recovery meeting last week in Bowraville was the lack of young hands being raised to help with the clean up.

Well there’s currently a dozen or so young guns out at South Arm who are working hard to rebuild fences and faith in their generation.

For the past two weeks primary industries students from Macksville High have been volunteering their skills and their brawn to pull down charcoaled fencing and drive in new posts at the Perks’ farm along South Arm Rd. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 10, 2018

Farmer plagued by rabbits in life and grave – Sally Rae:

Sarah Perriam finds it ironic her late grandfather spent his lifetime fighting rabbits – and he is still plagued by them in death.
Looking at signs of rabbits digging on Charlie Perriam’s grave in the Cromwell cemetery yesterday, Ms Perriam recalled how the Central Otago farmer, who died in 2009, even had a team of ferrets to try to keep numbers down on his Lowburn property.

Her own earliest rabbit-related memory was the illegal release of the rabbit calicivirus in 1997, when she was about 12. . . 

Spreading of virus to begin – Hamish MacLean:

The groundwork has begun for the release of a new strain of rabbit virus now approved for use in New Zealand.

A Korean variant of the rabbit calicivirus will be released across the province in about three weeks.

Otago Regional Council staff have started laying the first tranche of pre-feed carrot in select locations around Otago with landowners’ full co-operation and permission.

None of the council’s 100 doses of RHDV1 K5 have been released yet. . .

Defection disappoints – Annette Scott:

A decision by Alliance not to adopt a nationwide meat industry farm quality assurance programme puts the industry’s integrity at risk, Anzco agriculture general manager Grant Bunting says.

Alliance will use its own programme in preference to the red meat industry’s collaborative Farm Assurance Programme (FAP).

The FAP, established to enhance customer confidence in the NZ supply chain, is funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) under a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. . .

Sheep run riot as Hilux Rural Games begin in Fielding – Sam Kilmister & Bethany Reitsma:

Sheep, working dogs and bales of wool stumbled down Feilding’s main street in a celebration of all things rural.

The Manawatū town heralded the start of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games on Friday with an array of events, including the “running of the wools”. The America’s Cup was also paraded by hometown hero Simon van Velthooven, whose pedal power helped drive Emirates Team New Zealand to victory in Bemuda last year.

People came out in force, crowding the barrier-lined streets, while a mob of the area’s finest woolly residents made their way from the saleyards to the clock tower in Manchester Square and back. . .

Smart Farmer: Ashley Wiese:

For Ashley Wiese, who owns and manages 5,000 hectares in Western Australia, sustainable farming is the smartest way to secure optimum output and food quality, but also to survive as a business in a challenging industry.

Ashley Wiese started off working as an accountant in Perth. However, he always intended to use those skills in agriculture and soon decided to go back to his roots, a farm in Western Australia first established by his great-grandfather. Today, Wiese is the Director of Yarranabee farm. Together with his wife Jo, he farms 5,000 hectares in total: 4,000 hectares of grains such as oats, barley, canola and lupins, and 1,000 hectares of sheep for lamb and wool production. . . 

How can NZ agritech feed the world even more?:

How New Zealand can meet the challenge of feeding some of the predicted global population of 10 billion by 2050, will be a major focus at a Techweek event in Tauranga in May.

World-leading meat, dairy and horticultural industries have established New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of food.

But NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the country’s collaborative agricultural ecosystem is shifting its efforts to developing sustainable ways to feed the world. . .


Rural round-up

March 7, 2018

Fonterra High Court gagging action triggers ‘Streisand effect’ :

Fonterra’s high court injunction is causing “the Streisand effect”, with Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders now anxious to know what is being kept from them, says Federated Farmers.

National dairy chairman Chris Lewis said his phone has rung constantly with inquiries since Fonterra late on Friday secured an injunction gagging former director Leonie Guiney and preventing a weekly publication publishing or using any “confidential” information it received from her.

The injunction also prevents other unnamed media, including the New Zealand Herald, from spreading any “confidential” information it may have received from Guiney. . .

 Industry commits $11.2m towards Mycoplasma operating costs _ Gerard Hutching:

DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association will pay $11.2 million towards the costs of combating the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The details of the financial contribution are yet to be worked out.

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said in funding of $85m for operational and compensation costs for the outbreak response, from July 1 last year to the end of the current financial year, was approved by Cabinet on Monday. In December last year, $10m was approved. . . 

M. bovis threat causes heifer competition cancellation –  Brittany Pickett:

Organisers have made the tough decision to drop a commercial dairy heifer competition to avoid the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis.

The Royal Agricultural Society-run dairy heifer competitions for Southland, Otago and Canterbury, as well as the South Island competition, which are run yearly through March and April, will not be held this year.

South Island competition convenor Merv Livingstone said the southern district of the agricultural society had made the tough call to cancel the competition because of the possible risk of further spreading the cow disease. . . 

M. bovis fears surround upcoming Gypsy Day – Alexa Cook:

 A Southland vet says farmers in the region are worried about the spread of the cattle disease when dairy herds are moved around on the upcoming Gypsy Day.

Gypsy Day is officially the first of June, and VetSouth director Mark Bryan said almost all the dairy cows in Southland, Otago, and Canterbury will be shifted to new properties for winter grazing or new sharemilking contracts. . .

Cardboard creativity pays dividends for Fonterra:

Fonterra has claimed an industry first with the launch of its ingenious packaging solution for high-quality milk fats, known as AMF. The solution is the first of its kind in the dairy industry.

Challenging the industry norm for storing the light-shy product in giant drums or in frozen packs, Fonterra has developed small 15L cardboard packs that are easily stackable and manoeuvrable and can be stored at room temperature. A butter alternative, AMF is an ingredient in many foods such as ice cream, confectionary and bakery goods. . . 

Rat traps set to save ‘modern day dinosaur’ frogs – Andrew McRae:

A network of self-resetting rat traps are being laid out in the Whareorino Forest in western King Country to help protect the Archey’s frog.

It is estimated that between 20 and 25,000 of the native frogs remain.

The Archey’s frog can only be found in the Whareorino Forest, Pureora Forest and on Coromandel Peninsular . .

 


Rural round-up

December 31, 2017

Southland vet says animals need to be culled – Rebecca Moore:

Southland VetSouth director Mark Bryan says to get rid of Mycoplasma bovis all affected animals must be destroyed as international vets say the disease can be “devastating”.

In Australia, farmers “lived with” the disease but New Zealand was quite different, with climate and population of cows being larger, Bryan said.

New Zealand was more similar to the United Kingdom. . .

Dairy farmer and rural lifeline Neil Bateup awarded New Year Honour – Thomas Manch:

It was the 1984 Labour government that put dairy farmer Neil Bateup​ through his toughest time.

The New Zealand dollar was floated, Bateup’s interest rate went up 26 per cent, and the 2017 New Zealand Order of Merit recipient faced some serious financial hardship.

“But we got through it,” he says, in that matter-of-fact manner familiar to most. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – Sue Culham:

The Proud to be a Farmer NZ Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer Five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Puripak Avocados Limited Avocado Grower, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Environment Award Winner and Proud Farmer Sue Culham.

How long have you been farming?

Originally a city girl I moved to Glenbervie, Whangarei in 2001. My husband and I were grazing beef on our original 27 hectares whilst working in the family engineering business where I was the Finance Manager. I hadn’t had much to do with country life before this time but once you got me on the land it was hard to get me back into that office. Planting our original 4 hectares of Avocados in 2004, and after having our daughter in 2006 I stepped back from the engineering to focus on the development of the orchard. . . 

Proud to be a Farmer:

The Wool Press: Where we shine the spotlight on a Wool Product or Producer to celebrate wool as an environmentally friendly, innovative, humane and versatile natural fibre of now and the future. Today we talk to Tim Brown, former captain of the All Whites and founder of the worlds most comfortable shoes, Allbirds : The hugely popular runners and loungers made from New Zealand Merino.
1. What made you choose NZ Merino as a textile when you created All Birds?
We wanted to create the world’s most comfortable shoe so it made sense that we would use the world’s finest fibre to achieve that goal. In NZ Merino and their ZQ certification, we found a partner that is the gold standard in the delivery of sustainable and ethically sourced merino and we haven’t looked back since. . . 

Celebrating a season of abundance and choice – John Rigolizzo Jnr:

Not many people around the world eat “local” at Christmas.

At least nobody does in New Jersey, where I live and farm—and where snow commonly covers the fields at this time of year.

We’re already at work preparing a big dinner for our Christmas celebration: We’ll serve hundreds of raviolis to a gathering of two or three dozen members of our extended family.

For the homemade pasta, we rely on flour, eggs, and salt. We add tomato sauce, meatballs, and sausage. Some years we may include veal, which is more expensive. We’re also stocking up on garlic, parsley, and breadcrumbs.

Almost none of these ingredients are produced in New Jersey in December. . . 

How a former vegetarian became a butcher and ethical meat advocate – Debbie Weingarten:

Butcher and author Meredith Leigh encourages consumers to consider the life, death, butchering, and preparation of the animals on their plates.

Before she was a butcher, Meredith Leigh was a vegetarian. She was fascinated by plants and loved vegetables—how they grew, the way they tasted right out of the field, how they changed color and texture as they cooked.

But during a trip to Vietnam in 2004—after Leigh had been a vegetarian for nine years and a vegan for two—a woman named Loi served her water buffalo. Aware that Loi had raised and slaughtered the animal herself, the act of eating it became an act of connecting, and Leigh began to consider the idea of ethical meat. . .


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