Rural round-up

09/06/2021

Drugs, biofuel and handbags: meat byproducts are big business – Bonnie Flaws:

Meat byproducts such as tallow, collagen and blood are increasingly earning money for farmers; last year $1.6 billion worth of byproducts were exported, 17 per cent of the value of total meat exports, figures from the Meat Industry Association show.

Typically, animals are cut into four quarters for butchery of prime and secondary cuts. But it is what is known in the industry as the “fifth quarter” that has become a new focus for the sector.

Farmer co-operative Alliance Group global sales manager Derek Ramsey is responsible for extracting maximum value from the carcass and making sure every part is used.

Byproducts of the meat industry such as animal fat (tallow) are marketed as ‘‘specialty ingredients and materials’’. . . 

Wallaby eradication efforts being boosted – Rebecca Ryan:

Wallaby control efforts in Otago are being ramped up this month.

With funding from the $27 million national wallaby eradication programme, the Otago Regional Council is targeting the Kakanui Mountains, the Shag River (between Kyburn and Dunback), the Dunstan Mountains and from the Lindis Pass to Lake Hawea, using ground and aerial-based contractors to collect data on where wallabies are present, and destroy those sighted.

ORC biosecurity manager and rural liaison Andrea Howard said the long-term goal was eradication — and the council was optimistic it could be achieved.

“We’re in the privileged position of collecting information about the extent of the problem, rather than having to try and contain the problem,” Ms Howard said. . . 

Government should take lead on where carbon farming is allowed – Waitaki mayor :

The Waitaki mayor wants the government to change the rules on where carbon farming is allowed.

This week, more than 150 people attended a public meeting in Oamaru to hear about what the council can do about new proposals for carbon farming.

That is the practice of keeping the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and instead sequestering (or capturing and storing) it in, for example, pine plantations.. . 

The curious case of kill rates – Nicola Dennis:

This season’s steer and heifer kill has been off the chart, with the latest slaughter statistics (current to May 8) showing over 776,000 slaughtered throughout New Zealand since the season started in October. Compare this with last year’s record-high of 649,000hd for the same period or the five-year average of 618,000.

Depending on how you slice it, there has been an extra 127,000-158,000 of prime cattle in the supply chain this season. This is in spite of a very high prime kill last season, which probably tidied up most of the drought-affected cattle from last spring.

A boost in supply will always negatively impact farm gate beef prices. But, this season’s oversupply coincided with a major slump in processor demand driven by the shuttering of most of the world’s restaurants and by major disruptions in international shipping. This is why farm gate beef prices were struggling to surpass last year’s lockdown prices for much of the season. . . 

Meat the Need marks one-year milestone – Annette Scott:

One year on from its inception, Meat the Need has donated more than 400,000 red meat meals to food banks throughout New Zealand.

Meat the Need became a nationwide charity after being successfully piloted in Christchurch amid the covid-19 crisis.

The charity, created by YOLO Farmer Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures, enables farmers to help feed Kiwi families in need by providing the means for them to donate livestock through its charitable supply chain.

Langford says the high level of support from the farming community, alongside the support from meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF), has been key to the charity’s success. . .

New study helps reassess beef’s environmental impacts:

New research has shown how beef from temperate grassland systems provides key nutrients for human health – and how this data could help reassess the meat’s green impact.

The study examined the three pasture systems most regularly used in temperate regions – permanent pasture, grass and white clover and a short-term monoculture grass ley.

Researchers then analysed datasets from each to determine the levels of key nutrients in beef each system will provide.

Results suggest that each temperate system analysed is broadly comparable, which means temperate pasture-based beef could be treated as a single commodity in future impact considerations. . .


Rural round-up

20/05/2021

Farmers may not get much from the Budget but prospects are looking good in export markets – Point of Order:

The agriculture sector may not get the recognition it deserves in this year’s budget, nor much assistance along  the  road  to  reducing  methane emissions — but  at  least farmers  can take  satisfaction (as New Zealand  emerges into  the  post-Covid  era)  that  returns   for the  bulk of the  sector’s output  have  been  strong.  The prospects are that high prices for  most products will be  sustained  next season.

The latest  Global  Dairy Trade  auction this week saw prices  easing  slightly—but  for  the product  that bears  the  greatest influence  on Fonterra’s  farmgate milk price, whole milk powder, it is still 54%  higher  than  at this time  in the  previous season.

Analysts are confident it will stay around that  level next season.

The other encouraging sign for primary producers  is  that  prices  in the  meat  sector  are  buoyant.  This  week  Westpac lifted its farmgate lamb forecast to at least $8/kg, and sees it possibly rising to over $9. . . 

2021 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winners demonstrate perfect progression pathway:

The 2021 Share Farmers of the Year are driven, professional and high-achieving siblings who benchmark excellence within the industry.

Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj from Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa were named the 2021 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Waikato’s Christopher Vila became the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Ruth Connolly from Waikato was announced the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $210,000.

Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, says Manoj and Sumit impressed the judges with glowing reports from current and past employers and employees.

“They have amazing relationships with two sets of owners, who really believe in them and are following the boys’ dream.” . . 

The occupation – Bill Morris:

Wallabies may have evolved in Australia, but they’re so well suited to life in New Zealand that they have reached plague numbers for the second time in a century, eating their way through the landscapes of Canterbury and the Bay of Plenty and escaping from the containment zones created to hold them back.

FOUR-WHEEL DRIVES MODIFIED with custom-built shooting cages and heavy bull bars rumble off State Highway 1, lining up at a roadside reserve near the South Canterbury town of St Andrews. Gorse-scarred men and women drag a cargo of carnage from the vehicles.

Severed wallaby heads are dumped by the sack-load onto the ground to be counted, then turfed into a trailer for disposal. Wallaby carcasses are disembowelled with an axe before being weighed. The sickly reek of death drifts across the reserve, intensified by the late-summer heat. The flames of a stubble fire crackle in a nearby paddock, casting a thick pall of smoke and an orange hue across the scene. . . 

Fonterra’s restructure proposal risks the co-operative – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s decision on 6 May to present an alternative capital structure has opened a can of worms.  The shares have dropped around 15 percent and investor units are down 13 percent. There are no immediate cash implications, but Fonterra’s capital value has declined by more than $1 billion. This transfers through to farmer balance-sheets.  Given that this is just a proposal, the market response is remarkable.

There is close to zero chance that the proposals will be implemented in their present form. But the worms cannot be simply put back in the can. Fonterra has made it explicit that its current structure is no longer fit for purpose.  Those are not the exact words that Fonterra is using publicly, but they are the exact words coming in on the breeze.

Prior to the proposals being announced, there was no immediate need for action. Fonterra could have kicked the can down the road for several years and left it for another governance team, but they decided to front-foot it.  To that extent, their actions are laudable. But shooting themselves in both feet was not needed. . . 

Rating title dilemma for Waitomo farming blocks – Andy Campbell:

Rating changes introduced by the Waitomo District Council six years ago are to be reversed because of demand for rural land.

Councillors were told at last week’s audit, risk and finance committee meeting that the Office of the Valuer General (OVG) would be taking a special interest in farming properties on the outskirts of townships that had smaller titles.

Because of demand for residential land, the OVG said the smaller titles should constitute separate rating units – which may reverse some property amalgamations the OVG required as part of the 2015 revaluation.

In 2015, smaller titles used as part of a single farming unit were amalgamated to reflect the one farming unit. . .

Luxury treehouse – a dairy farm-stay with a difference:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or in the case of this Hakataramea Valley farm, if it ain’t broke – think bigger and think differently.

South Canterbury farmers Liz and Andy Hayes are the sixth generation to farm their beautiful part of the country, and it’s gone through several evolutions over the years (including a conversion from beef and sheep to dairy in 2013) and the latest one was their way of holding on to their farming past, but expanding into different, more adventurous territory.

That’s come in the form of a luxury treehouse accommodation which has just started taking bookings.

It was partly driven by a love for storybook fantastical fun, partly from a desire for diversification and partly them just extending a rural welcome – it was the Hayes’ way of opening their farm for others to enjoy. . . 

Supply and demand report reveals the bulls and bears – Nick Robertson:

As we get close to the end of May, vast tracts of Australia’s cropping area are enjoying favourable conditions.

Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales growers have been the recipients of some very good rain throughout autumn, and are well positioned as they finalise their winter sowing programs.

But it is a different story for Victoria and South Australia, where big parts of those regions are yet to get an autumn break.

It is not too late, but time is running out and crop yields may start to be cut from analysts’ production estimates. . . 


Rural round-up

05/02/2021

Dairy prices and Fonterra’s re-establishment as a global leader should be celebrated far beyond the cowsheds – Point of Order:

The New Zealand economy, although battered  by the  Covid-19 pandemic, has  moved   into 2021  in  better  shape  than  anyone  might have predicted  just six months ago.

To  a degree  this has been due  to  the  continuing vibrant performance  in the export  sector  particularly  by the  primary industries. This  week  there  was a  fresh surge  of  confidence   within that sector  because of the signal from the big dairy co-op, Fonterra, in lifting its  milk payout  forecast.

Fonterra  now expects to pay farmers between $6.90-$7.50kg/MS. That is up 20c a kg from its previous forecast range of $6.70 -$7.30. . . 

Dairy markets have hit a sweet spot but big challenges remain – Keith Woodford:

Global dairy markets continue to grow despite negative sentiment in some quarters. The Climate Change Commission expects less cows to be balanced by more milk per cow. Man-made ‘udder factories’ are yet to emerge.

The combined effect of the three latest global dairy auctions has been that US-dollar prices for dairy have risen eleven percent since Christmas. A farmgate payment above $NZ7 for each kg of milksolids (MS) of fat plus protein for the dairy year ending in May 2021 now looks close to ‘baked in’.

This means that for a second year, farmgate prices will exceed $7. This will be the first time that prices have stayed above $7 per kgMS for two consecutive years.

It will also mean that five years have passed since the two bad years of 2015 and 2016. The bad years were largely driven by EU internal quota removals and a consequent surge in EU production. . . 

Feds survey shows farmer confidence has bounced back:

Farmer confidence has bounced back to where it was pre-Covid19 but attracting and retaining staff remains a headache, the latest Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Of the nearly 1,100 farmers who completed the Research First survey in the second week of January, a net 5.5% considered current economic conditions to be good. That’s a 34-point jump from the July 2020 survey when a net 28.6% considered them bad, marking the lowest level of farmer confidence in the 12 years the six-monthly survey had been conducted.

“Looking ahead, a net 43.8% expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months. That sound a bit grim, but just six months ago 58.7% of survey respondents expected a deteriorating economy,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“I think farmers, like other New Zealanders, are feeling buoyed by the way we’ve handled the pandemic despite the torpedo to international tourism. The agricultural sector is willing and able to maintain production so long as regulatory and other stumbling blocks don’t trip us up.” . . 

Positive attitude asset during lockdown:

A new study* has found a strong ‘can do’ attitude and cooperative spirit in the agricultural industries were significant factors in minimising losses and uncertainties during the COVID restrictions last year in New Zealand and Australia.

Co-authored by Lincoln University’s Dr Lei Cong, with contributors from a number of institutions including AgResearch, The University of Queensland, NZ Institute of Economic Research, and Plant and Food Research, it measures the immediate impacts of COVID-19 control measures to June 2020 on the agri-food systems of Australia and New Zealand and how resilient those systems were.

It found the effects on both countries were broadly similar, and there were relatively minor economic impacts across the surveyed industries.

It stated the high level of ingenuity in the rural communities, both in Australia and New Zealand, was likely a key element of their resilience and capacity to overcome movement restrictions and the disruption of value chains. . . 

Kiwi conservationists count wins in war on wallabies – Nita Blake-Persen:

Pest control experts say they are finally starting to make a dent in New Zealand’s exploding wallaby population, as a battle to stop them destroying native forests rages on.

Checkpoint cameraman Nick Monro and reporter Nita Blake-Persen headed out on a hunt to see how it’s all going.

The government last year allocated $27 million towards culling wallabies as part of its Job for Nature programme.

Among those to receive funding is Dr Tim Day, a pest control expert working in the Bay of Plenty.

Wallaby numbers have been growing in the area in recent times, and Day described them as a “little known villain”. . . 

Scientists have taught spinach to send emails and it could warn us about climate change – Marthe de Ferrer:

It may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, but scientists have managed to engineer spinach plants which are capable of sending emails.

Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/05/2020

Kiwi lamb in limelight – Annette Scott:

Changing consumer demand in China has opened an opportunity for New Zealand lamb to take centre stage.

In a move to encourage online sales of NZ lamb in China, Beef + Lamb and Alliance have joined forces to launch a digital campaign aimed at leveraging the new consumer behaviour.  

The e-campaign is focused on driving online red meat sales as Chinese consumers seek out healthier food options in the wake of covid-19.   

“Alliance and B+LNZ are co-investing in the initiative to drive the awareness of NZ’s healthy and natural grass-fed lamb but ultimately to drive sales,” B+LNZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

Wallaby curse – Farmer refuses to be caught on the hop – Sally Brooker:

Wallabies have been marketed as a cute local attraction in Waimate, but farmers curse the day they crossed the Ditch.

The problems began soon after Bennett’s wallabies from Tasmania were taken to The Hunters Hills in the Waimate District in 1874 for recreational hunting.

Their population boom led to damaged farm pasture, crops and fencing, and native bush and forestry plantings.

A 2017 Ministry for Primary Industries report predicted the cost to the economy of not controlling wallabies in the South Island could be $67million within 10 years.

Anecdotal reports say the numbers are increasing again in the Waimate area. Many farmers are upset about it, but few would go on the record.

Walter Cameron had no such qualms. He has been dealing with wallabies at his family’s 3900ha Wainui Station, near Hakataramea, for most of his life and knows how to keep them in check.  . . 

High paying environmental jobs not realistic:

The Government’s $1.1 billion idea of redeploying people into environmental jobs is great in concept but difficult to turn into reality, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“It’s a struggle to get Kiwis to take well-paying jobs in the horticulture or farming sector, so convincing people to become rat-catchers and possum-trackers in the numbers the Government is hoping for will be an enormous challenge.

“It’s all very well allocating the funding, but there’s no detail on how the job numbers will be achieved and this Government has a poor track record of delivering on their big policies.

“The $1.1 billion for 11,000 jobs means they’ve allocated $100,000 per job. There is no detail about how much of this is going to workers on the ground doing the environmental work and how much of this is going to added bureaucracy in Wellington offices. . . 

Training our rural doctors – Ross Nolly:

Attracting general practitioners to work in small rural areas has been challenging at times, which has led people to delay seeking medical care. Ross Nolly caught up with one Taranaki rural GP who says there are a lot of benefits to working in small communities.

In recent years finding doctors willing to work in rural general practices and rural hospitals has been difficult.

The Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme is a subset of the Royal New Zealand GP College. It’s a relatively new programme and its aim is to give doctors an experience of rural hospital medicine. 

The programme has been operating at Hawera Hospital in South Taranaki for three years and shares some elements with general practice with many doctors practising rural GP and rural hospital medicine simultaneously. . . 

The power of community – James Barron:

Chairman of Fonterra Shareholders Council, James Barron on Fonterra, COVID-19, and the importance of community.

He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. It’s a phrase that seems to be coming up a lot lately, and it reminds me how powerful community can be.

For wider New Zealand, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 have been significant.

But they have also presented some unexpected opportunities – to rediscover community spirit, spend quality time with our families, and do what’s best for the greater good. . . 

Tree planting is not a simple solution – Karen D. Ho and Pedro H. S. Brancalion:

A plethora of articles suggest that tree planting can overcome a host of environmental problems, including climate change, water shortages, and the sixth mass extinction (13). Business leaders and politicians have jumped on the tree-planting bandwagon, and numerous nonprofit organizations and governments worldwide have started initiatives to plant billions or even trillions of trees for a host of social, ecological, and aesthetic reasons. Well-planned tree-planting projects are an important component of global efforts to improve ecological and human well-being. But tree planting becomes problematic when it is promoted as a simple, silver bullet solution and overshadows other actions that have greater potential for addressing the drivers of specific environmental problems, such as taking bold and rapid steps to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. . . 


Faith first for Folau

16/04/2019

Rugby Australia has issued a breach notice to Israel Folau:

Folau sparked outrage after posting to his Instagram account last Wednesday night that “hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” — adding they should “repent”. . . 

What he said is not just a tenet of fundamental Christianity, Muslim and Jewish religions would also regard these as sins.

At its core, this is an issue of the responsibilities an employee owes to their employer and the commitments they make to their employer to abide by their employer’s policies and procedures and adhere to their employer’s values,” Rugby Australia said in a statement.

Freedom of expression, outside work, obviously isn’t one of those values.

“Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations. It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action. . .

This is an employment issue. Folau had been warned and ignored the warning. But was what was required of him fair?

In doing ignoring the warning, he’s chosen to put his faith before football:

Israel Folau is sticking to his guns no matter what it costs the embattled Wallabies superstar.

And he is continuing to place his faith in his religion, despite the storm airing his beliefs on social media has caused within both the Australian rugby and society in general. . . 

It’s obviously a decision that’s in the process right now but I believe in a God that’s in control of all things,” Folau told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do.”

Folau said he would not mind one bit if his rugby career was done as long as he got to do The Lord’s work.

“First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it.

“In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.” . . 

It’s not that long ago that not doing anything against which Folau is warning, would have been a code of conduct that was generally accepted as the right one and the condemnation of people who didn’t follow it would not have been remarkable.

Even now, while some have used social media to confess to being guilty on several of these counts, how can speaking out against any of them that hurt others be wrong?

But of course it’s not Folau’s condemnation of drunkenness, adultery, lying or thieving that’s caused the furor, it’s the inclusion of homosexuality.

Bob Jones points out:

First, these remarks are totally consistent with the Bible (and the Koran) so why the uproar?

Second, why did the critics, including the Prime Minister, solely complain about the reference to homosexuals? What about us drunks and fornicators? Doesn’t she care about our pain? We know the answer to that, namely unlike fairydom we’re not fashionable at the moment.

I can understand journalists concentration on homosexuals as few are whereas make no mistake, the vast majority I’ve known are drunks, adulterers, liars and fornicators to various degrees, so too heaps of MP’s.  A double-standard here methinks.

My contact with journalists and MPs hasn’t involved drunkenness, lying and fornicating but I don’t move in Sir Bob’s circles.

This whole episode is a classic pack-hunting media contrivance. I have difficulty believing a single drunk, fornicator, homosexual, adulterer or liar reading Israel’s remarks gave a damn. He’s entitled to express his religious beliefs as much as I for example am, to continue pursuing my life-long mockery of religion. . . 

An employment breach is between Rugby Australia and Folau but how many would have known about it if the media hadn’t picked up the post?

Only those who follow his account, at least some of whom no doubt agree with him, and others would be following him because of his footy fame and not be troubled by his faith.

But the mainstream media, as happens too often, picked up the post and broadcast it to the world. They then reported the outrage they’d stirred up and also the concern about people who might be upset by it who probably would have been oblivious had the media not generated the publicity.

The offenderati reacted predictably by condemning him and wanting to silence him.

Why when, as Michael Redell points out,  few share his beliefs?:

. . . If –  as most New Zealanders and a large proportion of Australians now claim to –  you don’t believe in the existence of God, let alone of eternal separation from God or Hell, it is hard to know why what Folau is saying should bother you.   You surely believe he is simply deluded and wrong, as he will discover (or rather not) when he dies.

If you don’t believe what he says why not ignore it, or counter it with rational argument?

That probably is the view of a fair number of people in New Zealand and Australia today.  But it isn’t the view of those holding the commanding heights –  MPs, leader writers, columnists, business leaders and so on –  who have demanded that it be stopped.  They simply cannot abide the thought that someone of any prominence should openly affirm that sin is sin, and that homosexual acts are among the things labelled as sin.

Here I’m not mainly interested in the Australian Rugby Union. I have a modicum of sympathy for their position, even if (as I noted in an earlier post elsewhere on these issues) the problem was partly one of their own making.   Rugby could just be rugby, but that’s not enough for today bosses.

My interest is more in what it says about our society – New Zealand and, it appears, Australia –  that no prominent person is free to express centuries-old Christian belief (views backed, rightly or wrongly, by the law of the land until only a few decades ago) when it trespasses on the taboos and sacred cows (“homosexuality good”) of today’s “liberal” elite.  And if no prominent person can –  and it is interesting to note that not a single church leader has been willing to stand up openly for Folau, and the Scriptures –  how will those less prominent be positioned.   Folau may lose a multi-million dollar contract, but he’ll already have earned much more than many ordinary working people make in their life.   But what of the ordinary employee of a bank or of one of those right-on government agencies.  It might not even be a personal social media account, or a speaking engagement at the local church.  It might be nothing more than a reluctance to participate in celebrations of what (in their belief, in the tradition of thousands of years) sinful acts.   The issue here isn’t someone proselytising across the counter of the bank, any more than Folau’s “offence” involved activity in the middle of a game, but a totalitarian disregard for any view –  no matter of how longstanding –  that doesn’t fall into line with today’s orthodoxy.

This is what concerns me too.

I don’t share Folau’s fundamental version of faith.

I find a lot of the Bible contradictory and when I do I choose the option that shows love and grace – turn the other cheek rather than an eye for an eye, for example.

But Folau’s are honestly held beliefs. They don’t impact on his playing ability, he wasn’t preaching during a game, why shouldn’t he be allowed to express them?

And there’s also the niggling thought that some religions are more equal than others and if his was another faith rather than Christian, he would he have been given a little more leniency.


Rural round-up

22/12/2018

Alliance chairman queries Govt’s subsidy stance – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart has expressed concern over what he sees as the Government’s apparent determination to subsidise forestry plantings at the expense of low environmental impact sheep and beef farming.

Addressing the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Mr Taggart said it was occurring just when it looked like the ”bureaucratic playing field” was being levelled up for sheep and beef and recognising the sector’s lower environmental footprint relative to dairy.

”The apparent lack of rigour in relation to the social, economic and environmental impacts of this strategy is disturbing,” he said. . . 

Telford future in doubt following liquidation -Chris Morris:

The training institute running the Telford campus in South Otago has been placed in interim liquidation at the request of its board.

Taratahi, a private training establishment and agricultural education provider, runs residential campuses in Wairarapa and Reporoa in the North Island, as well as Telford.

It employs about 250 staff and boasted about 2850 students across all three campuses this year.

Today’s announcement was made by David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton, who were appointed interim liquidators by the High Court.

The liquidators, in a statement, said Taratahi was facing “financial and operational pressures caused by declining student numbers”, which had resulted in a reduction in funding. . . 

Risk of spreading Wallabies sparks pest action plan – Tess Brunton:

Fears Wallabies are placed to become the possum problem of the 21st century has prompted plans to create New Zealand’s first national wallaby management programme.

A business case has been submitted to the Treasury as part of a collaboration between regional councils, government and crown research agencies in the last couple of weeks.

Department of Conservation threats technical advisor Alastair Fairweather said New Zealand could not afford to wait before acting. . . 

Super cute sheep deliver Christmas lambs – but not for eating:

The sheep dubbed the world’s cutest have given birth to their first lambs in New Zealand.

Wairarapa farmer Christine Reed and her business partners imported Swiss Valais Blacknose sheep as embryos from the United Kingdom about 18 months ago.

Over the past two weeks, Ms Reed’s sheep have brought five tiny bundles of fluffy cuteness into the world, while her business partners had similar numbers of newborn lambs arrive. . .

New agreement to protect fresh tomato industry:

Biosecurity New Zealand and Tomatoes New Zealand have reached an agreement on the pathway forward to better prepare for future biosecurity responses.

Both parties signed a Sector Readiness Operational Agreement today (21 December).

“The agreement demonstrates both organisations’ commitment to strengthen readiness for incursions of specific pests and pathogens,” says Andrew Spelman, Biosecurity NZ’s Acting Director, Biosecurity Readiness & Response Services. . . 

Kiwi investors snap up cherry orchard investment:

Over 60 New Zealanders have invested $10.5 million to become the proud new owners of the largest modern cherry orchard development in Central Otago.

Central Cherry Orchard Limited Partnership will begin development of the 96 hectare bareland block in the Waikerikeri Valley north of Alexandra in autumn 2019.

New Zealand export cherries are recognised for their exceptionally high quality and freshness. This season it’s estimated 1.9 million 2kg boxes of cherries will be picked and airfreighted fresh to China and the rest of Asia to arrive in time for Chinese New Year on February 5. . . 


Rural round-up

13/03/2017

Red meat needs change – Sally Rae:

Red Meat Profit Partnership chairman Malcolm Bailey has a simple message for farmers – ”nothing changes unless you’re prepared to change something on your farm”.

”You have to be involved and make changes,” Mr Bailey said, referring to the future of the red meat sector during a recent visit to Dunedin.

RMPP is a seven-year Primary Growth Partnership programme working to help the red meat sector increase productivity and profitability. . . .

Rural spirit shines bright as Olympians star:

The third annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games began on The Square, Palmerston North today with Olympians Dame Valerie Adams and Mahé Drysdale making guest appearances in an unfamiliar sport.

The double gold medallists swapped shot puts and rowing oars for Red Bands as they competed as wild card entries in the New Zealand Gumboot Throwing Championship in association with Skellerup.

Mahé finished an uncharacteristic last in the men’s competition that was won by James Kellow of Whanganui with a throw of 42.24m. James just edged reigning champion, Olympic decathlete Brent Newdick into second place but couldn’t take Brent’s national record of 44.97m set in 2015. . . .

Tree climbers, coal shovellers and shearers take centre stage on final day of Hilux New Zealand Rural Games 2017:

The final day of the third annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North saw national champions decided in ‘sports that built the nation’ including speed shearing, coal shovelling and tree climbing plus an attempt on the egg throwing and catching world record.

News of yesterday’s action, including Dame Valerie Adams winning the NZ Gumboot Throwing Championship, brought even greater numbers to The Square in the city centre to watch top rural sportspeople and have a go themselves. . .

Changes made after 2015 bovine Tb outbreak:

Testing and surveillance changes have been made around Mt Cargill, near Dunedin, after a bovine Tb outbreak in 2015.

TBfree has increased the testing requirements for cattle and deer and designated the area a movement control area to avoid the spread of Tb through movement of stock.

As of March 1, all cattle and deer in the wider Mt Cargill area need a Tb test within 60 days before being moved to another property. . . 

Elusive wallabies prompt pest control campaign

A privately owned Otago pest-control company and the regional council are working to tackle the growing problem of wallabies in the region.

Two of the pests had been shot near Ranfurly in the last few months, one on the golf course.

Maniototo Pest Management said the problem was getting worse and the animal could be devastating to farmers’ crops and pastures.

Company manager Ossie Brown said wallabies were mobile creatures and could travel long distances. . . 

Rockit Global Limited Positioned for Significant International Growth

Havelock North Fruit Company (HNFC), home of delicious, miniature Rockit™ apple snacks, today announced exciting and significant company changes. Effective immediately, the Hawke’s Bay based company will begin trading as Rockit Global Limited. Two experienced growth equity investors have taken a significant stake in the new company and Austin Mortimer has been appointed as its Chief Executive Officer. . . 

Seeking new members – Yvonne O’Hara:

Increasing membership in Young Farmers’ Clubs in Otago and Southland is one of the key goals for the new Otago-Southland regional chairman James Heslip.

The Moa Flat farm manager was voted into his new role at the region’s annual meeting on February 19.

He replaced Chris Pemberton, of Teviot.

”I want to make it so Otago-Southland is the best region in the country,” Mr Heslip said. . . 

 


Black to black back to back

01/11/2015

What a game, what a win – the All Blacks are world history making third-time Rugby World Cup winners.

New Zealand withstood a gutsy Australian fightback to claim victory 34-17 in the Rugby World Cup final and create history as the first side to win three titles.

The All Blacks were given a Halloween night fright by the Wallabies, who battled their way back from 21-3 with two tries to get within four points of Richie McCaw’s side at 21-17. . . 

Well worth getting up early to watch.
All Blacks's photo.
All Blacks's photo.
"532598971JD00382_New_Zealan LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Richie McCaw of New Zealand lifts the trophy after victory during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on October 31, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)"

 


In a fairy tale . . .

31/10/2015

In a fairy tale the All Blacks would win tomorrow morning’s match and claim the Rugby World Cup again.

As Gregor Paul wrote before last week’s semi-final, the ABs are the better men:

. . . Results have been hugely important, but he doesn’t want them to be the sole mechanism by which his team is judged. Nearly as important is the manner in which his team conduct themselves.

Whatever the result tomorrow, the All Blacks won’t rush to leave Twickenham. There is post-match protocol to observe and that is not just the media and drug-testing obligations.

The All Blacks post-match protocol looks just like it did 30 years ago, because Hansen has placed considerable importance on his team embracing what can only be called old-school values.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, the pressure couldn’t be greater but Hansen can’t see why that should prevent rugby tradition from being observed.

The game was fostered on a spirit of fraternity and shared experience and to not observe that is to disrespect a core tenet of the game. The third half, as the French call it, has always been rugby’s greatest point of difference.

If no one bothered to engage with the opposition; to put aside the past 80 minutes and realise that everyone involved is chasing the same dream and united by the same beliefs, how long before rugby would morph into football in regard to culture and attitudes?

How long before players would leave the ground with barely a nod and a handshake, jump into expensive sports cars, already having forgotten who they have played and still not certain they know the first name of all the players in their own team?

Hansen has made a stand to preserve the parts of rugby that make it the game it is. “One of the important things to me about rugby is enjoying it,” he says. “When you are in such a big pressure cooker as the All Blacks, it can easily be lost.

“The first thing we had to acknowledge was to stop and enjoy each test. We do that sensibly but we acknowledge we have played another group of men who have tried to do what we have done. So we say, ‘would you guys like to come in? [to our changing room]’.

“Not all teams accept that. Some do and South Africa are one that always comes in. When we are over there we go in. When I played, some of the best moments in rugby were with the guys who you have just gone 80 minutes with and you find out they are just like us. They are ordinary guys and you make lifelong friendships.”

The extent to how the old-school culture pervades has been striking at this World Cup. The All Blacks, tournament favourites and loaded with superstars, have been impeccably professional on the field, proudly amateur in ethos off it. . . .

For the last part of the past decade things were worse because the All Blacks’ schedule was dominated by tests against the Wallabies.

The relationship between the two was strained, awkward and, at times, plain awful. The Wallabies rejected an invitation to join the All Blacks in their changing room after a 2010 test in Christchurch. A few months later in Hong Kong they accepted – after they had won in the last minute and had aggressively and endlessly celebrated. The invitation hadn’t been accepted so they could genuinely reflect on the test but seemed to be more about taking the opportunity to gloat. It was a powerful moment – confirming for Hansen that if he ever landed the top job, he would instil in his players the courage and depth of character to be the same person regardless of outcome.

When you play really well and get beaten you have to accept it,” he says. “You can’t change it – it has happened, you have had your chance and you have to do that with the same humbleness that you do winning. We have got to respect the way we want to be respected ourselves and there is nothing worse than seeing a winner gloating or a team that loses sulking.

“It is okay to hurt but you don’t have to be arrogant and I think rugby is a great game in teaching you some core values of being grateful and being humble.

“I don’t think it is driven by being liked. It is driven by that’s how we want to live. That’s the identity we believe the legacy of the All Blacks has demanded from us. It is really important to us that we live that way – that identity and those values all the time.” . . 

Both teams have so much to play for but the All Blacks have the added incentive of giving captain Richie McCaw a win and several others a win in what is expected to be their final game in the team.

Life isn’t always like a fairy tale but all fingers and toes are crossed that tomorrow’s match will finish that way for the All Blacks.

 


Campaign openings vs All Blacks

23/08/2014

Political party campaign opening broadcasts start with the National Party at 7:30 this evening.

What’s the bet even political tragics will be tuned to the Bledisloe Cup game between the All Blacks and Wallabies instead?


Schadenfreude

18/08/2013

All Blacks 47 – Wallabies 29.

Just wondering if Robbie Deans is experiencing schadenfreude and whether Wallabies fans want him back now?


Vamos Los Pumas

07/10/2012

My farmer has taken some of our staff and a few strays to a Beldisloe Cup test in Australia for several years.

When asked why I didn’t go too, I’ve always said we’d both enjoy it more if I didn’t.

But the idea of going to Argentina with the All Blacks was different.

We hosted an AFS student from there and his family is now ours. Our links to Argentina have been strengthened by the marriage of a nephew to a woman from Buenos Aires; we’d had six trips there and I was very keen on a seventh visit.

We joined the 300-strong Air New Zealand All Black entourage which left New Zealand a week before the Rugby Championship test against the Pumas.

The nine of us in our group were all country people and included four farmers and a stock agent. We could have stayed in Buenos Aires and gone to an All Black practice but the call of the country was stronger so we headed out of town for four days to catch up with friends and visit farms.

We returned to the city on Thursday in time to join the entourage’s evening with the Club Atlético Ferrocarril General San Martín, home of the San Martin Rugby Club where we were entertained by  a three-part contest between former Pumas prop Serafin Dengra and former All Black Frank Bunce (Dengra won the haka, Bunce won the tango and I’m not sure who won the banner erection.)

The locals were very welcoming,  forgiving of my rusty Spanish and treated us to a delicious meal featuring meat cooked on the asado.

Saturday’s test was in La Plata about 40 minutes from Buenos Aires. We arrived there mid-afternoon for a couple of hours of pre-game build-up which included talks by Olympic gold medalist Mahe Drysdale and Frank Bunce.

Our journey from there to the stadium was eased by a police escort which amused us and gained the attention of people we passed, most of whom gave us big smiles and friendly waves.

Estadio Unico, which is covered,  seats 52,000 and had a capacity crowd.

It is alcohol-free which appeared to have no impact on the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the crowd.

All week advertisements had been encouraging people to hug each other while the All Blacks did the haka and most of those in the stadium did.

The noise from the crowd was deafening, especially when the Pumas scored first. They quietened down a bit as the All Blacks took control but continued to be good humoured and polite even though it was obvious the home side wasn’t going to win.

The only noise while the Puma’s player too a shot at goal was from New Zealanders which earned shocked looks from the locals. When thy were noisy while an All Black was taking a shot, the announcer asked them to show respect.

It was an amazing experience and while I still think my farmer and I would both enjoy the Australian excursions more if I didn’t go, my fears about what happens on rugby trips weren’t realised.

Air New Zealand looked after us well with good pre-tour communication, excellent communication and organisation in Argentina and their usual friendly but professional service. They finished by putting on a special flight from Auckland to Christchurch for southerners when a later departure than anticipated from Buenos Aires meant we’d miss the scheduled connection.

If they offer a similar trip in future I’d be very keen to go again.

The 54-15 score secured the All Blacks the Rugby Championship trophy but the Pumas didn’t give up and given the Wallabies’ injury woes could well beat them when they meet in Rosario this afternoon.

With Robbie Deans as coach my heart would usually back the Wallabies if they were playing anyone but the All Blacks. But with memories of the wonderful experience in La Plata so fresh, today I’m saying vamos Los Pumas.

P.S. Jame Ihaka covered the tour for the Herald: Day 1,  day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, day 6, day 7 and day 8.


Air NZ looking to South America

27/02/2012

Air New Zealand is trialling flights to South America with a charter flight for fans going to the first four nations Rugby Championship match between the All Blacks and Pumas in Argentina.

Radio NZ reports the company is watching developments in the region before scheduling regular flights.

. . . But the airline did announce its first foray into South America, with a flight in September using its black Boeing 777-300.

The charter flight will be aimed at All Blacks fans travelling to Buenos Aires for the team’s first game against Argentina in the expanded Four Nations competition.

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe says the airline is very interested in South America as a potential route in its global network.

He says the company hasn’t yet made a decision about its overall strategy for South America.

Mr Fyfe says the Brazilian airline TAM is about to go through a merger with Chile’s LAN and Air New Zealand wants to see which alliance the new airline LATAM ends up in before finalising its preferred strategy.

When we went to Argentina a couple of weeks ago there were no Star Alliance airlines flying to South America.

The options were a direct flight from Auckland to Buenos Aires with Aerolineas Argentina, Lan Chile which goes Auckland-Santiago-Buenos Aires, Qantas which would have necessitated flying east to Sydney before flying west or Emerites which is the long way round and required a two-day stop in Dubai en-route.

The Aerolineas flight is 11 1/2 hours there and 13 home which isn’t too bad but an Air New Zealand flight or a Star Alliance option would be even better.

Football is the most popular sport in Argentina but we met some rugby fans when we were there who were pleased the Pumas were joining the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in the Rugby Championship.


And then there were two

22/10/2011

Australia claimed the bronze with a 20-18 win over Wales in this Rugby World Cup’s second last match last night.

I’m pleased the Southern Hemisphere team won and I’ll be even happier if the south beats the north tomorrow.

Twenty teams started the tournament six weeks ago, now there are just two left, the All Blacks and Les Bleus, who will play in the final.

On paper the All Blacks are the stronger team but the French are unpredictable.

They’ve beaten us before and could do it again so I’m pleased to read that Rich McCaw and his team understand there are no guarantees for the All Blacks.

While the All Blacks captain knows exactly what rugby’s greatest prize looks like, he has never laid a hand on it.

“I don’t think you should touch it until you’ve earned it,” he said.

On the eve of the big match against France, that may well change for the 30-year-old.

For McCaw, however, Sunday night’s clash at Eden Park is all about the men who wear the All Blacks jersey with him.

“It’s not about personal stuff,” he said. “It’s about this team having an opportunity and not wasting it. Going out and performing, playing the best game we’ve ever played in a World Cup final. That’s the opportunity that’s there and from our point of view we don’t want to let that slip by.”

They’ve got preparation and determination, we’ve all got optimism and hope but there will be no certainty until the final whistle blows.

 


Supporting our neighbours

21/10/2011

Australia or Wales? Dragons or Wallabies?

They meet tonight to decide third and fourth place in the Rugby World Cup and it’s not easy to decide which team to support.

Both teams have New Zealand coaches but if I take them into account I’d opt for Robbie Deans who made such a wonderful contribution to Canterbury rugby – even if several of their wins were against Otago teams.

I know Wales deserved to win last week, and maybe the All Blacks would have a less daunting task on Sunday if they had, but if I have to pick a side, it will be the Wallabies.

It’s not personal, the Welsh are lovely people but most of them are on the other side of the world and Australia’s just next door so I’m opting for our neighbours.


There’s optimism . . .

20/10/2011

. . .  and there’s over optimism.

Irish bookie Paddy Power is so sure the All Blacks will win Sunday’s Rugby World Cup final he’s paying out already.

I’m optimistic but only cautiously so. On paper the All Blacks are a much stronger team the Les Bleus but anything could happen on the night.

Even when the Wallabies had to score two points a minute in the last seven minutes to even the score in the semi-final I couldn’t relax and even if the All Blacks are well ahead of France in the final I’ll be on the edge of my seat with all digits crossed until the final whistle blows.


There’s still one more game

17/10/2011

Several commentators said the match between the All Blacks and Wallabies would be the final.

We won it, but it was only the semi-final.

Several commentators have said whichever team won the All Blacks versus Wallaby match would win the Rugby World Cup.

The odds are on that but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The All Blacks deserved to win last night’s game and the French didn’t really deserve to win Saturday’s.

That makes us the favourite but it doesn’t make us winners.

Let’s enjoy last night’s victory but let’s not get cocky.

There’s still one more game to play.


Phew

16/10/2011

All Blacks 20- Wallabies 6.

I hope Julia Gillard enjoys the apple she agreed to eat in a bet with John Key.


Not tonight Robbie

16/10/2011

Otago rugby teams have won a lot of first halves.

To the disappointment of fans they’ve not been as good at winning second halves.

When Robbie Deans was coaching Canterbury, it was very good at wining second halves, often in the final moments of a match.

Australia has always been good at doing that too, and did it again in last week’s semi final.

But not tonight, please Robbie.

For the sake of the nation’s blood pressure, tonight’s the night your team should play well but not too well and the All Blacks should win both halves.


Matilda will waltz again

09/10/2011

I’m pleased for Robbie Deans that Australia managed to beat the Springboks – albeit just and against the run of play.

Matilda will waltz again in next week’s semi final.


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