Rural round-up

April 21, 2019

Meat bonanza – Alan Williams:

Hang on for the ride, New Zealand – the African swine fever disaster breaking down pork supply in China is creating a huge opening for sheep meat and beef producers, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

The Chinese need for protein will push up both demand and thus prices there and for other customers. 

Pork is easily the number one meat protein in China and research indicating the swine fever impact could create an 8.2 million tonnes gap in total protein supply there this year.  . .

MPI raises restrictions on farms to stop spread of Mycoplasma bovis – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers will need to brace themselves for a surge in the number of properties that cannot move stock off their farms as officials grapple with controlling the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said 300 farmers who had high risk animals move on to their properties would be contacted, of whom 250 would have notices of direction placed on them. . .

Exploring potential of dairy sheep, goats – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Sheep and Goat Dairy Project (SGDP) is to hold a workshop in Invercargill tomorrow to explore the potential for dairy sheep and dairy goats as an alternative income stream for farmers and others along the supply chain.

The national Provincial Growth Fund-funded project was launched in January and will continue until March 2020.

Project leader John Morgan, who is also the manager of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (Fin) at Lincoln University, said there had been pockets of interest and activity to do with sheep and goat milk in the past. . .

Truly outstanding in their fields – Peter Burke:

The East Coast of the North Island features prominently in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Sheep and Beef.

Two of the three men work on farms on the East Coast, the others in the South Island.

The three finalists were selected from entrants NZ-wide: 

Outbreak delays bee project – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Southern Beekeepers discussion group has completed the first two rounds of sampling southern beehives at sites in Mosgiel and Lake Hawea for the American Foulbrood (AFB) research project, Clean Hive.

However, a major AFB outbreak in the North Island is keeping the laboratory they are using busy with samples, so the results have been delayed.

The sampling is part of the beekeeping industry’s research project to trial three different methods to detect the disease in hives before symptoms become visible or clinical. . .

Celebrating women in agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Words spoken during a panel discussion at the Women of Influence Forum in 2016 struck a chord with Chelsea Millar from Grass Roots Media.

The panel consisting of several high-profile women from various sectors was discussing how women don’t get enough recognition for their work, whether it be equality, pay parity or so on.

“It struck me that this was true in the agriculture sector,” Millar says. . .

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Rural round-up

December 3, 2018

Owners of East Coast forests charged over debris damage:

The owners of six East Coast forests are to be prosecuted over damage to farms from flood-borne logging debris in June.

Farmers are still feeling the effects of the Queen’s Birthday man-made floods, when forestry debris washed down and blocked rivers, damaging farms during two bouts of heavy rain in the region.

They put the cost of the damage in the millions of dollars. . . 

Another record high lambing percentage for New Zealand sheep farmers:

Sheep and beef farmers achieved another record high lambing percentage this spring, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Lamb Crop 2018 report

B+LNZ’s Economic Service estimates the number of lambs tailed in spring 2018 was 23.5 million head, down 0.7 per cent (163,000 head) on the previous spring, with the small decline being due to the higher lambing percentage not offsetting the 2.1 per cent decline in breeding ewes.

The average ewe lambing percentage for 2018 was 129.0 per cent, up 1.7 percentage points on last year and up nearly 8 percentage points on the average for the previous 10 years (2008-09 to 2017-18) of 121.4 per cent. . . 

Green light for controversial Waimea dam:

Tasman District Council has approved the $105 million Waimea dam project after a marathon meeting.

Tasman councillors have this afternoon voted nine votes in favour to five against after an almost seven-hour meeting to determine the fate of the Waimea Community Dam.

The decision came after a tense and at times vocal hour-long public forum in the council chamber, that was being monitored by tight security.

Opponents resent supporting a project they say will benefit a few.

However, supporters say the regional economy will be placed at great risk without a secure water supply. . . 

Members may not be prepared for disaster – Yvonne O’Hara:

When the earth moves, are farmers going to be prepared? The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management sent an emergency mobile alert last Sunday as part of its preparedness plans.

While phones rang all over the country that evening, did it encourage farmers to think about their readiness for earthquakes and other adverse events? SRL reporter Yvonne O’Hara investigates.

Federated Farmers provincial presidents, Otago’s Simon Davies and Southland’s Geoffrey Young, are concerned that many of the region’s farmers are not prepared for significant adverse events, such as earthquakes, snow, and flooding.

Mr Young, a sheep and beef farmer of Cattle Flat, said an earthquake in the region could be catastrophic. . . 

Entries close for 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards:

The Canterbury-North Otago region has received the highest number of entries in the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Fifty-nine entries have been received in the Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards including 17 in the Share Farmer of the Year, 30 in the Dairy Manager of the Year and 12 in the Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

NZDIA General Manager Chris Keeping said a total of 393 entries were received for the Awards, an increase of 29 from last year. . . 

We need a bigger rain gague in New Zealand – Patrick Horgan:

November is the last month of spring in New Zealand but there’s no sign of summer around the corner.

After four months placement on a dairy farm in Canterbury, I drove five hours south to see another side of New Zealand dairy farming. I arrived in West Otago in a pair of shorts on 14 October. On 15 October, I ditched the shorts for waterproofs and a rain jacket.

In the past week of bad weather, diversification into water buffalo and water cress farming has been discussed during milking on my new farm while the rain pounded off the tin sheets above our heads. . .

Welsh meat lobby to fight vegan ‘fake food news’ on social media

Hybu Cig Cymru fears too many ‘sensationalist and misleading’ claims are being put forward by critics of meat-based diets.

Wales’s red meat sector is pledging to fight the scourge of “fake food news” on social media that denigrates the likes of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), the meat levy body for Wales, said it will deliver a “fact-based fightback” that champions meat’s nutritional values and environmental credentials.

This will begin today with the launch by HCC of a new healthy eating lamb campaign fronted by Wales rugby legend Shane Williams. . .


Rural round-up

October 17, 2018

Big Nelson irrigators line up to complete finance for Waimea Dam as private investor pulls out – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Large-scale Nelson-based agricultural interests have stepped in to provide the final $11.5 million needed to finance the Waimea dam project, after an unnamed private investor pulled out of the deal.

The irrigators, who had previously said they had no resources of their own to complete the project, appear to have found the money and stepped back in, after deciding the private investor’s demands were becoming greedy.

BusinessDesk understands the Waimea Plains water users, including dairy farmers, horticulturalists and winemakers, became more comfortable about putting up their own capital when they realised they could use the same convertible notes financing formula for reducing their investment risk as the private investor had been proposing. . . 

 Local farmers help fund $102m Waimea Dam plans – Eric Frykberg:

Funding details of the revived Waimea Dam scheme near Nelson have been made public. 

They involve 14 agricultural businesses agreeing to provide an extra $11.5 million to Waimea Irrigators Limited for the project.

The proposed dam would be 53m high and store 13 million cubic metres of water in a 70ha lake in the Lee Valley, inland from Richmond. . .

NZ red meat exports top $6.7 billion in 2017-18:

Latest export figures from Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) show New Zealand’s red meat exports (excluding veal and co-products) were up $1.2 billion (21 per cent) on 2016-17 to over $6.7 billion in 2017-18 on the back of sustained high value per tonne and increased volume for lamb, mutton, and beef.

“While the highlights of the season were record high average values per tonne for lamb and mutton, the average value of beef exports remained high since the marked increase in 2014-15,” says B+LNZ’s Chief Economist Andrew Burtt.

“Good farm-gate prices and strong average values per tonne for exports occurred throughout the season, even during the fast start to the processing season driven by the dry conditions in December 2017.” . . 

Responsibly grown New Zealand wool blazes a new trail:

UK retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) has become one of the first major clothing retailers to launch a menswear range with wool certified under the global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS).

The launch reflects the increasing importance that retailers are placing on developing truly sustainable products, underpinned by ethical land management and animal welfare practices by farmers.

The new range of men’s blazers and waistcoats feature New Zealand lambswool, grown by RWS-accredited, Wools of New Zealand growers. . . 

Brewers hop on to opportunity to boost market gains

Backers of a new $13 million hop breeding programme hope it will bolster exports by creating a signature style of New Zealand beer.

Wellington craft brewer Garage Project and Nelson-based hop grower Freestyle Farms are committing $7.95 million to the seven-year project.

The remaining $5.3m is being delivered by the Ministry for Primary Industries through its Primary Growth Partnership programme. . . 

EPA chemical reassessment rational, says Agcarm:

A strong food supply and healthy livestock are vital for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries and economy. The government reviews the tools that play an essential role in the fight against pests and diseases that threaten these.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) today announced its decision on the chemicals it will reassess. Part of this review evaluates the benefits and potential health risks posed by pesticides – ensuring they meet environmental and health safety standards.

The EPA has ranked 727 chemicals with an A to F ranking, with A being the most harmful. Despite recent attention, Glyphosate has been given an E rating (low risk). . . 

On the farm: What’s happening around rural NZ:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island

In Northland, temperatures have been nice and warm during the day all week but nights have been cooler, which means pasture growth is good but yet to hit full stride. Some farmers have delayed putting in summer crops like maize and turnips for another week while waiting for warmer temperatures. There has been concern about this week’s announcement on Fonterra’s milk prices but our correspondent says overall people are positive – so long as that milk price has a 6 at the front, things should be relatively healthy.

The first of the early potatoes are now being harvested in Pukekohe under dry conditions and in hard soil. The rain arrived on Thursday and Friday. Although the amount may struggle to reach 25milimetres, it will be close and useful for a few days. . . 

Search begins for next Kiwi delegate to ‘plant their path’ at the 2019 Youth Ag Summit in Brazil:

100 young agricultural enthusiasts aged 18 – 25 from across the globe will be chosen to attend the summit in Brasilia, Brazil in November 2019
• One lucky Kiwi delegate will be chosen to represent New Zealand on the world stage
• This year’s theme: how to feed a hungry planet in a more sustainable manner 
• Applications are now open until January 10, 2019

Now’s the time to step up and share your ideas with the world – that’s the call from Bayer New Zealand, which is on the lookout for a Kiwi delegate to represent New Zealand at the Youth Ag Summit in Brasília, Brazil from 4th – 7th November, 2019. . . 

New Zealand’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards – top honours announced:

Winners in New Zealand’s most prestigious competition for olive oil were announced last night at a formal dinner held in Masterton. The New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards are run by Olives New Zealand, the national organisation for olive oil growers.

Loopline Olives from Wairarapa took out the 2018 Best in Show as well as Best in Class in the Commercial Medium Single Varietal Class with their Loopline Picholene. Loopline also took out Reserve Best in Show with their Loopline Picual which was Best in Class in the Commercial Intense Single Varietal Class. . . 

Biosecurity Award finalists reflect huge national effort in biosecurity:

There is a heartening national effort taking place to safeguard the country’s biosecurity, says New Zealand Biosecurity Awards judging panel Chair, Dr John Hellstrom.

“We were excited to receive over 60 very high calibre entries, making the judging task difficult, but rewarding,” Dr Hellstrom says.

The Biosecurity Awards were established two years ago to recognise and celebrate exemplary contributions to protecting our taonga (precious natural resources) and ensuring New Zealand’s biosecurity system remains resilient, effective, and world-leading. . . 


Dam damned, what will plan b cost?

August 30, 2018

The Tasman District Council has voted against funding the Waimea Dam:

The Tasman District Council has decided increased costs for the Waimea Community Dam are unaffordable for ratepayers, meaning the project in its current form will not proceed.

The Council today decided in principle not to fund 51% of a $23 million capital funding shortfall for the dam.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the decision effectively meant the project would not proceed, as public consultation cannot occur before the deadline of 15 December when the Government will withdraw its funding for the dam of over $55 million.

“Unfortunately the additional costs are too high and the Council has decided it must look at other options for resolving our serious summer water shortages.” . .

Horticulture NZ CE Mike Chapman calls it a damning decision:

. . .This dam was going to supply water for urban households, support the area’s thriving horticulture, and ensure minimum river flows during dry periods, sustaining the aquatic life in the river. During floods, the dam would have helped prevent damage by reducing flood waters. Northington Partners, an independent investment bank and business advisory firm, forecast that not building the Waimea Dam could result in nearly $1 billion being lost from the Tasman and Nelson economy over the next 25 years.  Even the Council, which voted against it, has said that urban and rural water users will be facing significant water use cuts from this summer, following the   decision. One of the areas most affected by water cuts is plants. These are the trees, vines and the crops that provide employment and feed this region. If the trees and vines die because of a lack of water, it is unlikely that they will be re-planted and this means taking away economic activities from the district. This will result in job losses because without water there will not be highly productive fruit and vegetable growing.

So why did some of the councillors vote against this decision?  All members of the community, businesses and the environment in this area would be beneficiaries from the dam. I am struggling to understand why you would vote down such a beneficial scheme, as the dam was the most cost effective way to provide a secure water supply.

Did the Councillors consider the impact of climate change? We are looking at a future where there will be more adverse weather events, rainfall will become more variable, and drought and floods will be more frequent. Did they forget that last year, prior to Christmas, this area went onto water restrictions? Water storage is a vital mitigation to climate change so that during dry periods people, animals and plants have water to drink. Jobs and the livelihood and survival of their region depend on water. Without water there is not life.

The Tasman District is a prime horticulture producer of apples, kiwifruit, berries, broccoli, cabbages, lettuce and cauliflowers. Most of the fruit is exported, earning valuable overseas funds for New Zealand. The vegetables feed the region and other parts of New Zealand. How are people going to be able to eat healthy, locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables, if there are none because there is no water?  Do not think that imported fruit and vegetables will fill the demand. As the world’s population grows and climate change turns what were good growing areas into desserts, every country will be struggling to feed their own population, let alone others.

So this is a very short sighted decision that will damn the Tasman District for many years to come and see it most likely go into economic decline.  It is also a lesson for the rest of New Zealand: water storage is vital to mitigate the effects of climate change and make sure we can feed our people. Perhaps the Councillors would like to re-think this decision and think about providing for the District’s future generations.

The dam would have had considerable benefits and not just in providing enough reliable water for irrigators and household supplies.

It would also have provided recreational opportunities and environmental protection.

Water storage is the most environmentally friendly option for both irrigation and river health.

Opponents talked up the dam’s cost but ignored the costs of not building it.

The most obvious are those that come from lost production for farmers, horticulturalists and orchardists who won’t have reliable irrigation; the loss of jobs on farms, orchards and in businesses which service and supply them and lost food for both domestic and export markets.

There’s also the loss of reliable water for existing and future households and businesses.

Then there’s the environmental costs from losing the ability to maintain river flows in dry weather to protect flora and fauna and ensure a healthy ecosystem; and to hold water back during floods.

The problem facing the district isn’t just a shortage of rural water, there’s an urban water shortage too.

Doing nothing isn’t an option.

The council has damned the dam and must now come up with a plan b. What will that cost?

The last tweet from the now defunct Twitter account @WaimeaDam spelled it out:

 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2018

Land use tipped to change on Waimea Plains, near Nelson, if dam gets nod – Cherie Sivignon:

Waimea Irrigators Ltd chairman Murray King is putting his money where his mouth is to support the proposed Waimea dam.

The dairy farmer and long-term proponent of the dam project said he had committed to buy more water shares, at $5500 a pop, than he needed for his 57ha block of land on the Waimea Plains.

“We’re fully subscribed, a little bit over actually.”

His “60-something” shares would cost him more than $300,000. . .

Retaining soil carbon the answer to managing agricultural GHG emissions – Gerald Piddock:

A Matamata dairy farm has become ground zero for a team of Waikato scientists searching for ways to lower agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Soil carbon and nitrous oxide losses are being measured on the 200 hectare farm owned by Terry and Margaret Troughton and managed by their son Ben and wife Sarah.

Their findings so far in a project funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre were outlined at a field day on the farm.

Better pasture management, genetics, feed and nutrition had been done well, but new strategies were needed to take the project the next step forward, Landcare Research’s Jack Pronger​ said. . . 

Farmers give thumbs down to new taxes:

Any move to introduce a capital gains, land or environment tax will meet stiff opposition from farmers, a Federated Farmers survey shows.

The Federation asked its members for their views last month, to help inform the farmer group’s submission to the Tax Working Group. The nearly 1,400 responses indicated strong opposition to some of the new taxes that have been suggested.

Just on 81 percent opposed a capital gains tax excluding the family home, with 11 percent in support. However, 47 percent would support a CGT on property sold within a five year ‘bright line’ test. There is currently a two-year threshold, and the measure is seen by some as a way of discouraging speculators. . . 

NZ farm sales fall 11% in March quarter as mycoplasma bovis keeps farmers nervous –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farm sales fell 11 percent in the March quarter from a year earlier, as the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease outbreak weighed on purchasing intentions and spanned a period where smaller plots of rural land were captured by the regime to screen foreign buyers.

Some 388 farms were sold at a median price of $27,428 per hectare in the three months ended March 31, down from 438 farms at a median price of $27,509/ha in 2017, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show. Fewer dairy and grazing farms accounted for the drop, with gains in finishing farm sales coinciding with strong prices for beef and lamb meat. . . 

Calm ewes produce more than nervous ewes:

A calm temperament in ewes improves ovulation rate and successful pregnancies, according to a study published by The University of Western Australia.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Uruguay, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA and UWA, has implications for the impact of stress in human reproduction.

The team investigated the reproductive outcomes of 200 Merino ewes known to have either a calm or a nervous temperament. They found the ovulation rate and rate of successful pregnancies to be higher in the calm ewes. . .

Shearing at the end of the world –  Tomas Munita and Russell Goldman:

Life at the end of the world can be lonely.

For weeks at a time, Roberto Bitsch and gauchos like him might not see another human being. They see horses, both wild and tame. They see the dogs they work with. But mostly, they see sheep — thousands of them.

Locals mark time by the length of the sheep’s woolly coats here on Isla Grande, the largest of the Tierra del Fuego islands at the tip of South America, closer to Antarctica than to Chile’s capital, Santiago. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 30, 2014

The rising star of beef – Keith Woodford:

With so much focus on the current dairy downturn, it is easy to miss the rising star of beef. This year beef prices have been hitting record highs, both in US and NZ dollars. Young steers and bulls are fetching anywhere between $1100 and $1600 at slaughter, depending on weight and category.

The key driver has been demand for hamburger beef from the United States. Demand from China has also been increasing.

The New Zealand Meat Industry Association has reported beef exports of 380,000 tonnes earning $2.2 billion dollars for the year ending June 2014. Since 2001, these exports have fluctuated between about 325,000 tonnes and just over 400,000 tonnes with no clear trend. Cull cows from the dairy industry have been contributing an increasing proportion of total production. . .

Launch of renewable energy initiative in Southland:

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of New Zealand’s first region-wide wood energy heat hub that will help fuel the Southland economy.

Wood Energy South is a joint initiative between the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland that will partner with local businesses, schools and healthcare facilities to help them convert to cleaner, renewable wood burning technology.

“Southland’s strong forestry and wood processing industry creates a rich source of wood fuel for the region. This project will help local businesses realise the renewable energy potential in their own back yard. . . .

Lee Valley Dam must be affordable:

Federated Farmers is urging the Government to support the Tasman District Council’s (TDC) Waimea Dam Project to prevent the critical shortage of water for urban and farming development.

“It’s not a matter of whether the dam goes ahead, it is how it goes ahead,” says Martin O’Connor, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“We are living in a catch 22, because the build is likely to cost irrigators $520 per hectare and increase rates by 11 cents per cubic metre a year, but our rural and urban communities cannot survive without it. . .

 Testing the mobile cow shed – Milking on the Moove:

It’s been a busy month testing out the mobile cowshed. I took this video about a month ago & I have only now found the time to put it up. I’ve been getting a few requests for a video.

It’s just a quick look at how the system works. I’m still in the testing phase & we are ironing out all the little issues. 

At the moment I’m only milking 8 cows & the neighbours are taking the milk to feed to their calves.
I can’t start selling our milk until I have been approved by the ministry of primary industries. That journey is turning out to be a bit of a drama, but I’ll write about that another day. . . .

Sanford takes on KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover new processing technologies for mussels:

Sanford Limited is taking on a KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover novel proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help it process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels. Today, researchers at New Zealand’s public research organisations will be pitching ideas to improve mussel processing in Nelson at the Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop in a bid to win $5,000 of prototype development funding and the opportunity to work with Sanford to develop their solution for commercial application.

Sanford’s Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley says, “Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential. While we’re looking for a winning idea, we’re keen to investigate all good ideas, so we may end up with more research projects.” . . .

New fund to assist the growth of New Zealand dairy farming:

Dairy farmers looking to grow their family business will soon have access to a new source of funding, with the launch of an innovative new investment vehicle, the NZ Dairy Farming Trusts.

The Trusts – a joint venture between New Zealand farm investment company MyFarm Limited and German alternative-fund manager Aquila Capital – is seeking to raise up to $100 million from international and domestic wholesale investors. **

The initiative is aimed at providing the New Zealand dairy industry with much needed new capital in order to realise its economic potential. The fund plans to lend money at interest rates tied to milk and land prices, providing dairy farmers with alternative to taking on equity partners. . . .

Ballance moves to science specialisation:

With New Zealand farming systems as diverse as farmers themselves, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Science Extension team is making the shift to specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil types and farm types.

Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says knowledge about soils, fertiliser, forages and nutrient budgets is fundamental to support farmers in reaching their goals, and the demand for more specialised knowledge is growing rapidly.

“We have two driving factors. First, higher environmental demands mean farmers are now working within tighter controls around nutrient management and protecting water quality. There is no one simple solution for each farm and it is not just a case of managing fertiliser. Feeding regimes, stocking rates, stock movements and soil types all have an influence and they will vary from farm to farm. . .

 

Ballance Ward B Election draws record field:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ call last month for director nominations for its Ward B has yielded 9 candidates hoping to replace Dean Nikora who resigned as a director ahead of taking up an international posting.

Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke, says he is delighted that Ward B shareholders have such a strong field of candidates to choose from and he believes that 9 is a record.

“The strong field indicates that we have shareholders who recognise this is an excellent opportunity to contribute to the governance of our co-operative, which is close to being a $1 billion business in terms of revenue. Having high quality candidates for director vacancies is vital to the success of our co-operative, and the response to our call for nominations has certainly achieved that. We have a very good mix with six men and three women seeking election. . .


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