Rural round-up

22/09/2022

Finalists announced for prestigious Trans Tasman Agricultural Award :

The Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced their 2023 Award finalists, comprising of six passionate young professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

Now in its ninth year, the coveted award recognises future leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around tailored mentoring and education. The six talented finalists – three from Australia and three from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making to the primary sector. One winner will be chosen from each country.

The New Zealand finalists are Harriet Bremner, 33, author and health, safety and wellbeing advocate for Rural New Zealand, and farmer at Jericho Station, Southland; Jacques Reinhardt, 34, Station Manager at Castlepoint Station Wairarapa; and Monica Schwass, 31, Future Farming Manager at The NZ Merino Company, based in Christchurch.

The Australian finalists are Charles Vaughan, 29, Queensland Operations Coordinator/Group Veterinarian for Australian Cattle Enterprises and Director of Charles Vaughan Veterinary Services Pty Ltd; Mitch Highett, 33, Founder and Managing Director of farm management company Bullseye Agriculture, from Orange NSW; and Sarah Groat, 34, Development Officer for government Agtech programme “Farms of the Future”, for the Department of Primary Industries, who lives on the family farm near Rankin’s Springs NSW. . . 

Asparagus growers hoping to overcome flooding troubles ahead of harvest :

The asparagus harvesting season has just begun, but some growers’ fields are still partly underwater from recent flooding.

It’s hoped this season will outperform last year’s, when just a third of the spears were harvested because Covid lockdowns disrupted the restaurant trade right up until Christmas.

Cam Lewis of Horowhenua’s Tendertips Asparagus said they cranked up their packhouse last week, but they had to get to the produce first.

“There’s still quite a few of our paddocks underwater at the moment, but we’re hoping for a good spring,” he said. . . 

Feds MP face off in John Luxton memorial match – Hamish Barwick :

Three Federated Farmers board members make up the front row of the dairy sector rugby team in this Saturday’s John Luxton Memorial Match in Morrinsville.

Facing off against MPs and parliamentary staff, the rugby match is a memorial for the late Hon John Luxton, the founding chair of DairyNZ and former Agriculture Minister. A netball game is also held in Luxton’s memory.

“We’ve got a full front row from Federated Farmers – president Andrew Hoggard, vice-president Wayne Langford and dairy chair Richard McIntyre – and I’ll be pulling on my boots to play on the wing,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

In the rugby team, Southland farmer Tangaroa Walker is flying up to pull on the number 8 jersey – Tangaroa runs his own Farm4Life programme with how-to information for people starting out in dairy farming. Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award winner Quinn Morgan will be playing mid-field – Morgan takes an active role encouraging other young people to join the sector. . . 

A fair shears share on both sides of the Tasman :

New Zealand wool harvesting trainer Elite Wool Industry Training has taken a big step to address global shortage of skilled woolshed labour by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with two of Australia’s major players in the industry.

The other parties are woolgrower-owned Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Australia’s largest shearing and wool handling training organisation, SCAA Shearer Wool Handler Training (SCAA SWTI).

The MOU is in response to the global shortage of shearers and skilled woolhandlers, which New Zealand wool and sheep meat producers have endured for the past two years, resulting in the costs of shearing increasing by at least 15-20 per cent. . . 

Land Co head: slow investors forcing us toward offshore investors :

Local investors are sitting on their hands, an NZX-listed land management company says, and they are now on the hunt for foreign investors.

NZ Rural Land Management (NZL) chair Rob Campbell said in the company’s annual report that its manager had been doing an ‘excellent job’.

The initial public offering of shares (IPO) were followed by a record full year net profit and a strong increase in the value of shares.

The entity was created to manage the new NZ Rural Land Company Limited (NZRLC), which buys rural land to lease to farming operators. It first listed on the NZX in late 2020. . .

Parasitic worm pesticide approved for use :

A new pesticide to combat parasitic worms in carrots, kūmara, parsnips, and potatoes has been approved for use in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Plant-parasitic worms, or nematodes, are considered a major risk to some of our most popular root vegetables, with producers sometimes experiencing complete crop failure from the damage they cause.

The applicant, Adama New Zealand Limited, said Nimitz will be an important tool to ensure the economic viability of these important crops.

“EPA staff conducted comprehensive risk assessments and found the risks to people and the environment to be negligible, with appropriate rules in place,” says Dr Lauren Fleury, Hazardous Substances Applications Manager. . . 


Rural round-up

20/07/2022

Former Ministers critical of PM’s comments – Nigel Stirling:

More voices have joined the chorus of condemnation aimed at the Prime Minister for comments they feel hurt New Zealand’s chances of getting a meaningful deal with the European Union.

Two former trade ministers have joined the dairy industry in condemning comments made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a critical point in trade talks with the European Union.

The Dairy Companies Association believes Ardern scuppered the industry’s last chance of a commercially meaningful outcome from the talks by revealing a weakening in New Zealand’s negotiating position.

Before flying to Brussels for the final few days of the talks last month Ardern told media that NZ was ready to accept an improvement on the “status quo” market access NZ exporters already had in the EU. . .

NZ’s European Union free trade agreement – was a better deal left on the table? – Jane Clifton:

Our recently signed free-trade deal with the European Union has upset the dairy and beef sectors. Was a better deal left on the table?

As a country, we’ve just flunked that test psychologists set for small children, offering them one marshmallow now, or two if they wait five minutes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided delayed gratification wasn’t the right strategy for the much-anticipated European Union free-trade agreement (FTA) and returned from her travels with just the one marshmallow.

After a couple of days’ hearty talk about how marvellous the deal was, Trade Minister Damien O’Connor conceded, “It’s probably fair to say that no one likes it, so we probably have it about right.” . . .

Farmers farm because it’s a way of life, they’re not asking for sympathy – Kerre Woodham:

I wanted to have a look at our farming sector this morning, because I think the grumpiness from a number of farmers over a Country Calendar show featuring Lake Hawea station probably gave us a heads up on where farmers’ confidence is at.

And it’s low, very, very low. According to a Rabobank quarterly rural confidence survey, it’s the lowest since the pandemic began. Back in March, farmers’ confidence was the lowest it had been since Federated Farmers began a twice a year survey in 2009. 

When you think about the reality of farming for most Kiwis, I guess you can understand and empathise with their frustration. It’s a cold, wet, miserable job in winter and a hot, dry dusty one in summer. Most farmers can’t delegate their farm chores, no matter if they’ve got the flu or if they’re feeling under the weather with a head cold, or if they’ve got Covid, they have to drag themselves up or call in favours from neighbours, which they will then repay. . . 

Council candidates deserve searching questions Feds says :

With sweeping changes facing local government, and the very existence of some councils under threat, Federated Farmers is urging rural New Zealanders to step up their interest in the election campaign this year.

“The Three Waters juggernaut is gathering steam despite a great deal of opposition,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. “Unchanged, it will put control of critical infrastructure in the hands of unelected and hard to hold to account entities, likely headquartered far away from rural New Zealand.”

This, plus moves for district planning functions to be regionalised, will leave some provincial councils with little left to do, “and thus ripe for forced amalgamations, given the review of the future of local government doesn’t wind up until next year,” Andrew said.

Local body elections happen again in September/October and Federated Farmers has just released its 2022 Local Elections Platform. It’s on the Federated Farmers’ website and sets out the federation’s position on the major issues swirling around local government, with questions and advice for voters and candidates. . . 

Food charity run by farmers says demand increasing nationwide

A food charity set up during the first wave of Covid-19 says two years on demand is outstripping what they can supply.

The Meat the Need charity takes donated livestock from farmers and processes it into premium mince, which is then donated to food banks nationwide.

Since it was founded in early 2020, the charity said it had supplied meat for more than 760,000 meals across the country.

Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford co-founded Meat the Need with Motueka Valley-based sharemilker Siobhan O’Malley. . .

Chance, choice and the avocado: the strange evolutionary and creative history of earth’s most nutritious fruit – Maria Popova:

In the last week of April in 1685, in the middle of a raging naval war, the English explorer and naturalist William Dampier arrived on a small island in the Bay of Panama carpeted with claylike yellow soil. Dampier — the first person to circumnavigate the globe thrice, inspiring others as different as Cook and Darwin — made careful note of local tree species everywhere he traveled, but none fascinated him more than what he encountered for the first time on this tiny island.

Dampier described the black bark and smooth oval leaves of the tall “Avogato Pear-tree,” then paused at its unusual fruit — “as big as a large Lemon,” green until ripe and then “a little yellowish,” with green flesh “as soft as Butter” and no distinct flavor of its own, enveloping “a stone as big as a Horse-Plumb.” He described how the fruit are eaten — two or three days after picking, with the rind peeled — and their most common local preparation: with a pinch of salt and a roasted plantain, so that “a Man that’s hungry, may make a good meal of it”; there was also uncommonly delectable sweet variation: “mixt with Sugar and Lime-juice, and beaten together in a Plate.” And then he added:

It is reported that this Fruit provokes to Lust, and therefore is said to be much esteemed by the Spaniards. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

14/07/2022

PM misleading in EU trade deal claims :

This morning, the Prime Minister said that the Free Trade Agreement we signed with the European Union was “arguably one of the best dairy deals that anyone has had with the EU”. This isn’t arguable; it’s just false, National’s Trade & Export Growth spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Not only is this incorrect, but this deal isn’t close to the best. The UK has complete tariff elimination on dairy and meat, Canada has complete tariff elimination and can still use the name Feta, and the Mercosur trade agreement has better combined outcomes for dairy and meat than New Zealand.

“This comes after revelations that the Government had told negotiators weeks before the agreement was signed to stop pushing for commercially meaningful access for dairy and meat, and to simply do better than the status quo.

“This is incredibly infuriating and shows that the Prime Minister went to Europe to sign a deal irrespective of the outcome for dairy and meat. The EU knew this and offered us very little in return. . . 

Feds urges extreme vigilance on FMD:

As Biosecurity New Zealand continues to closely monitor the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Indonesia, Federated Farmers is urging holiday makers to also be extremely vigilant.

“Travel restrictions have eased and many families are keen to escape our winter for some sun overseas. But if FMD reached our shores it would be devastating for agriculture and our economy,” Federated Farmers vice-president and biosecurity spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“The FMD virus can live on footwear for 48 hours. Before returning to New Zealand please, please clean your shoes and jandals, or better still, buy cheap footwear while on holiday and dispose of them before you leave, and abide by the one week stand-down before visiting a farm here.”

Indonesia reported two outbreaks of FMD to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on May 9th, after being free from it for 30 years. . . 

Farmers asked to go back to school :

Farmers across the country are being asked to go back to school as a part of a new educational programme for children called Farmer Time.

The initiative, which originates from the UK, links farmers with primary and intermediate school children through virtual classroom sessions using video call technology.

Students regularly chat live with their matched farmer, gaining an understanding of farming across the seasons and providing real-world examples of what they’re learning during the school year.

Kit Arkwright, CEO of Beef + Lamb Inc, which is driving the initiative, is keen to see food producers from all sectors get involved. . . .

South Canterbury dairy farms sell for more than $70 million :

Two South Canterbury dairy farms as part of a portfolio have been sold for more than $70 million in one of the country’s largest ever rural transactions.

The portfolio, Ellis Lea, was made up of two large dairy farms – Grandview Farm, which covers 420ha and Lamorna, which covers 524ha – as well as Collett Farm, a support block covering 249ha.

It was purchased by an unnamed New Zealand-based investor.

Colliers rural advisor George Morris, who negotiated the sale alongside Mark Parry, said such was the scale of the portfolio, it was unlikely a local buyer would purchase it. . . 

Dairy Companies Association to welcome new chair :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is set to welcome Matt Bolger as its new Independent Chair upon the retirement of Malcolm Bailey from the role on 16 August 2022.

DCANZ provides an important mechanism for dairy manufacturing and exporting companies to work together and speak with one voice on pre-competitive matters of importance to the New Zealand dairy industry. The DCANZ Executive Committee, comprising CEO’s and senior executives of the Associations’ 13 member companies, is pleased to have Matt coming on board.

Matt will bring an important independent perspective and deep knowledge of the New Zealand and global dairy industry to the role. He is the current Pro Vice Chancellor of the Waikato Management School at the University of Waikato and held a variety of New Zealand and internationally based roles with Fonterra Co-operative Group between 2002-2020.

In welcoming Matt to this role in August, DCANZ will farewell Malcolm Bailey who has Chaired the Association since 2008. . . .

Giesen Wines win big at 2022 International Wine Challenge:

Giesen has been awarded the Champion Trophy for Champion Organic Wine at the International Wine Challenge. The 2019 Clayvin Single Vineyard Syrah is from the renowned Clayvin Vineyard in Southern Valleys, Marlborough, a vineyard that has historically set the standard for premium wines from the region.

The recent trophy win adds to the haul for this spectacular wine. It has already won the Marlborough Syrah Trophy and 1 x gold medal, with 96 points awarded at the 2022 International Wine Challenge. Across a global field, there were only 22 Champion Wine Trophies awarded.

Described by the judges as “Fragrant, lifted aromas of spice, violets, plump ripe blackberries and black pepper. The palate is elegant and quite rich with fine tannins, polished damson fruit and black cherries with a suggestion of bacon on the finish.”

Giesen Group Chief Winemaker, Duncan Shouler said, “we’re delighted to have won this prestigious international award for our Clayvin Organic Syrah. The Clayvin vineyard is an important part of our company DNA and enables us to create some very special organic wines, which will continue to evolve over the next decade.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

25/01/2022

NZ’s climate planting asking for trouble – Anne Salmond:

Dame Anne Salmond lays out the fundamental problems with this country’s strategy to use pine forests and overseas offsets to help wish away our climate emissions

New Zealand’s strategy for responding to climate change is fundamentally flawed. Much of the nation’s carbon debt is to be addressed by ‘off-setting’ – planting trees to sequester carbon, either at home or abroad.

On one hand, the government proposes to spend billions of dollars on international carbon credits – in other words, paying people in other countries to plant trees to sequester the carbon emitted in New Zealand.

On the other hand, the Emissions Trading Scheme has been designed as a ‘market’ for the owners of trees in New Zealand to sell the carbon they sequester to buyers who want to offset the carbon they generate.

Since most of the plantations in New Zealand are owned offshore, we’re paying even more to people in other countries to sequester the carbon we’re emitting. . . 

Here for the long game – DairyNZ:

In the sector we know that caring for the land, investing in the future, and making long-term plans are all part of dairy farming in New Zealand. To be a dairy farmer is to be in it for the long game; to create a better future for our farms, our families, our communities, and the country.

With that said it can often be hard to get this across to the wider public – to show we all share the same values, and we all want the best for New Zealand.

We want to help New Zealanders better understand and connect with dairy farmers – what drives you, the common values, and how we are seeking to create a better future for ourselves, our families, our communities, and the country we are proud to call home.  Most of all, we want you to feel proud of your work and vocation, and be confident your story is being proudly told to Kiwis. . . 

New Zealand cheers Canada’s loss in dairy dispute and calls for ‘significant reform’ – Cloe Desirée Juarez:

New Zealand said Canada needs to overhaul its approach to dairy imports because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has repeatedly broken its promise to let foreign cheese and butter flow more freely into the country.  

The public criticisms are the first in what trade lawyers expect could become an international pile-on following Canada’s loss to the United States this month in a long-running dairy dispute. Canada’s approach to dairy imports has long been a sore spot for trading partners, and the success of the U.S. in challenging that approach could embolden copycat actions under trade agreements Canada signed with the European Union and a group of mostly Asian countries that includes New Zealand, a major dairy exporter.

New Zealand’s ministry of foreign affairs and trade, “is currently considering its next steps to address these serious concerns,” spokesperson Susan Pepperell said in an email on Jan. 17. The trade ruling that got New Zealand’s attention involved U.S. complaints that Canada was using a work-around to dull the impact of extra dairy imports allowed under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USCMA), the pact that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2020. . . .

Rider (86) readying for 30th cavalcade – Sally Rae:

“She’s just a treasure.”

That’s how Chris Bayne describes fellow cavalcader Alice Sinclair (86) who is preparing for her 30th consecutive Otago cavalcade next month.

The adventure-loving great-grandmother of 15 has ridden every cavalcade since the inaugural event in 1991 and is somewhat of a legend on the trail. She might rue her knees were “starting to give out” but she made few concessions for her age, including bungy jumping when she turned 85. 

When contacted last week, she was preparing to grub thistles in the hay paddock of her Taieri property.“. . . 

Grapes a bunch of history – Shannon Thomson:

More than 150 years after Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud first made his mark on Central Otago, his legacy lives on.

The goldminer turned winemaker is widely credited as the original commercial winegrower in Central Otago. He planted more than 1200 vines in the Alexandra Basin at his Clyde winery, Monte Christo.

When viticulturalist Sam Wood recently discovered an unidentified grapevine at the original site of Feraud’s winery — the present-day Monte Christo Winery — he turned to the Bragato Research Institute, a specialist research centre for the New Zealand wine industry, for DNA testing.‘

‘We weren’t sure what it was, and I was talking to someone in the industry and they suggested we get it DNA tested,’’ Mr Wood said. . .

 

 

‘Animal sentience committee’ could ‘attack’ farming, MPs fear :

MPs and rural groups have warned that the proposed ‘animal sentience committee’ could be used to ‘attack’ farming, pest control and wildlife management.

Concern has been raised over the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, with one MP this week referring to it as ‘a bad bill’ and ‘an unnecessary one’, during its second reading in the Commons.

The bill, which is only six clauses long, recognises that animals are sentient beings and creates a body to oversee UK ministers’ efforts to take account of their welfare needs when drawing up and implementing policy.

However, much of the controversary to date has centred on the proposed creation of an animal sentience committee. . . 


Rural round-up

26/09/2021

Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Shearer shortage looming – Hamish Clark:

A shortage of shearers has cost farmers this coming summer, with kiwi and Aussie shearers stuck on the other side of the Tasman due to closed borders.

It’s not just shearers but also shed hands and wool handlers that could be in short supply.

That could lead to longer working hours in the woolshed and potentially more injures due to a bigger workload.

There are many New Zealand shearers that live in Australia who would normally travel backwards and forwards between the two countries during the shearing season. . . 

Labour ignores 15,000 rural New Zealanders:

By refusing to back a practical change that would lessen the regulatory load on farmers, Labour have shown they remain completely out of touch with rural New Zealand, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“Labour had the opportunity to support National’s sensible amendment to the Water Services Bill which would have exempted water suppliers with 30 or fewer endpoint users,” Mr Luxon says.

“This would have prevented rural water schemes from being exposed to massive, burdensome compliance and costs.

“Instead, Labour’s bill will now require at least 70,000 small farm supply arrangements to meet onerous, disproportionate duties like producing drinking water safety plans and establishing consumer complaints processes. On top of that, Taumata Arowai will need to track down these tens of thousands of schemes and register them. . . 

Anaesthetic requirements put Northland vets at forefront of farm operations – Donna Russell:

Farmers are adapting well to new animal health regulations, according to Kamo vet Luke (Lurch) Goodin.

He said in most cases his clients had been early adopters of the broad-ranging changes, so it was business as usual at a busy time of year on farms – apart from the not-so-small matter of working through a Covid-19 level 4 lockdown.

Key among the latest changes, introduced in May this year, are new rules around surgical procedures on animals.

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018 cover a large range of topics and types of animals, including farm husbandry, companion animals, stock transport and surgical procedures. . . 

Sheep milk research could be a game-changer – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand’s expanding sheep milk sector may soon be able to benefit from former Massey University student Jolin Morel’s PhD research, which looked at developing a new way of freezing ovine milk. Colin Williscroft reports.

The patent process is in motion and work is under way to build prototype on-farm units for freezing ovine milk that could take the NZ dairy sheep industry to the next level.

Jolin Morel graduated with a PhD from Massey earlier this year, his research focused on finding a better way to freeze sheep milk, something that will benefit the smaller players in NZ’s dairy sheep industry and open the way for more farmers to get involved in a sector that has been identified as one with a smaller environmental footprint than traditional dairy farms.

Morel says the genesis of his project involved a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) programme called Food Industry Enabling Technologies, which aims to create new technologies within the NZ food industry. . . 

Labour’s inaction putting animal welfare at risk :

The shortage of veterinarians in New Zealand is reaching critical heights and is now compromising animal welfare, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Tim van de Molen says.

“Three months ago the Government attempted to show it was taking the issue seriously by granting a token 50 border exemptions for vets to enter the country. But it never provided the MIQ allocation grant to go alongside it and without going through MIQ vets can’t come to New Zealand.

“So while theoretically a small number of vets are now able to come to New Zealand to help fill our critical shortage, the Government’s inability to act practically has meant they are sitting in the MIQ virtual lobby trying their best to get a spot alongside tens of thousands of other people desperate to enter New Zealand.

“New Zealand is short several hundred vets and it’s putting the welfare of animals at risk. We’re now entering spring which is a particularly busy time for vets in rural areas but practises for domestic pets are also feeling the pinch. . . 

Veggie growers call on government to allow on-farm quarantine – Bryce Eishold:

A Victorian vegetable grower who was forced to destroy $150,000 worth of celery this year due to a lack of labour to harvest it has issued an impassioned plea for the government to allow on-farm quarantine.

Lindenow grower Kane Busch was set to receive 22 workers from Vanuatu later this year to help with his crop harvest, but says a lack of Tasmanian quarantine facilities meant the workers would not arrive in Victoria until at least February.

Mr Busch, along with industry body AUSVEG, said the extension to the international worker program which allows overseas workers to fly to Australia to quarantine before they started their seasonal work was “flawed”.

“There is no quarantine facility available so despite the announcement for an extra 1500 workers, we have no chance of getting those workers until February next year so it’s just useless,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/09/2021

A shepherd’s warning – Wayne Langford:

Pink sky in the morning is a shepherds warning, but today I’d like to give a little warning of my own.

This time last year in New Zealand we had five deaths on farm. That’s five families that are absolutely heartbroken this year as they are forced to relive the tragic events that struck their families and wider communities last year.

I implore you to please be safe right now, everyone’s getting tired and slow. Please think about safety on the farm, on your bike – wear your helmet. It is easy to get busy and forget, but we simply have to stop and think about it. . .

Govt secretive on Groundswell correspondence:

It is really disappointing to see that Prime Minister has not fronted up and engaged with Groundswell NZ following their nationwide protests in July, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Joseph Mooney says.

“The Groundswell protests sent a clear and direct message to the Government that rural communities are fed up with its unrealistic and impractical approach to a range of important issues. An estimated 60,000 people lined the streets of 57 towns and cities across the country in one of New Zealand’s biggest ever protests and they shouldn’t be ignored.

“I was at Groundswell NZ’s protest in Gore alongside Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson, who founded the group in the Southland Electorate. I have been in regular contact since and I met them when they presented a petition seeking to amend the National Policy Statement For Freshwater Management to the Environment Select Committee in Wellington last month. . . 

Why no response Prime Minister?:

“When some 60,000 people converge on towns and cities around New Zealand, in protest at government proposals and regulations, a response from the Prime Minister is a reasonable expectation.

“Or even one from her ministers,” says National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“We are a week shy of two months since July 16’s Howl of Protest and organisers still haven’t heard from anyone running this country.

“Now the PM’s office is refusing to release any information — letters, emails, documents and/or advisories concerning Groundswell to or from her office, her deputy’s, or the ministers of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change — to a media outlet making the request under the Official Information Act.” . . 

Here’s why you should take a farmer out for lunch – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Lockdown has brought the essentials of life to the fore again – family and food. People rushed to their home base. People already at home base rushed to the supermarket. This time perishables topped the list – broccoli, bananas, milk, avocado, butter.

Food matters

Food producers, processors and distributors are essential workers, once again, with the ongoing debate about supermarket chains staying open while independent outlets are closed. For the independents, the issue is survival. Margins are slim. It is often because their products are less expensive that people go to them for purchases.

Farmers and growers are feeling the pressures of slim margins, too. Countrylife on April 20 highlighted concerns. The interviewer was pleased that dairy prices are high; the farmer pointed out that costs have increased. The data support his case. Input prices increased 4.3 per cent for the year to June for dairy farmers and 3.4 per cent for the primary sector as a whole. . . 

Research shows dairy cows can be part of the solution to nitrogen leaching:

New Lincoln University Pastoral Livestock Production Lab research, is defining how to get the maximum benefit from cows predisposed to urinate nitrogen (N), resulting in less leaching to the waterway.

PhD student Cameron Marshall, has just published two new articles in top scientific journals as part of his doctoral thesis, showing that what cows with phenotypically lower milk urea N eat, and how they eat, is important to reducing their environmental impact.

He said inefficient N use from pastoral dairy production systems has resulted in concern regarding environmental degradation.

“This is a result of excessive urinary N leaching into waterways and nitrous oxide emissions from urination patches into the atmosphere. . .

Busy time for family farming together – Alice Scott:

Last week, as the nation took a deep breath and ventured down the well-trodden path of lockdown 2.0, newborn animals were none the wiser and the work still needed to be done.

Like many around Southland and Otago, Clinton-based calf-rearer Laura Allan is right in the thick of calf feeding and with 2-year-old Otis, 6-year-old Freddy and 8-year-old Juno at foot, she concedes homeschooling is a little “looser” this time around.

Mrs Allan and her husband James rear 50 to 60 beef calves each season and graze 150 rising 2yr-old dairy cows on their 80ha farm. Mr Allan is also a topdressing pilot and at this time of year they are like “ships in the night”, as he leaves early and gets home late.

“James usually gets up early and shifts a break fence in the dark before he leaves, to ease the pressure a bit,” she said. . . 

Help a retired working dog find its forever home :

If you have a working dog that needs to be retired, Retired Working Dogs NZ (RWD) can help. RWD is a charity re-homing retired working dogs throughout New Zealand into forever homes.

The charity, set up in 2012, have re-homed more than 634 working dogs who are either at retirement age or aren’t cut out to be working on farm anymore.

“Retired working dogs make great pets for families. Many of them have been trained with basic commands and are often trusted around stock, other animals, and children,” says Natalie Smith.

The charity works with the SPCA, vet clinics, and farmers to find, advertise, and re-home dogs. . .

NZ’s first homegrown out milk company launches ‘1% fund’ supporting Kiwi farmers to grow more oats:

Otis, the first New Zealand oat milk made from homegrown oats, will now be available to buy nationwide thanks to a new supply deal inked with Countdown. The deal will see Otis cartons lining shelves around the country in Countdown, New World, Farro and Moore Wilson, and its online store.

The announcement coincides with the company’s launch of its 1% Fund today.

The 1% Fund is an initiative by Otis to help diversify farming by supporting New Zealand farmers to grow oats.

“Otis wants to help Kiwi farmers lead the way in farming for the 21st century – a way of farming that’s more diverse, more plant-based and one that works in harmony with nature, not against it,” says Otis co-founder Chris Wilkie. . . 


Rural round-up

13/08/2021

Nats’ proposal on migrants welcomed – Richard Rennie:

National’s proposal for a clean out of New Zealand’s daunting migrant visa application backlog has been given a thumbs up from dairy farmers still grappling with labour shortages.

National party leader Judith Collins has proposed Immigration NZ be required to clear the backlog of skilled migrant workers already here and seeking residency status. 

These are estimated to be over 30,000 and include vets and dairy farm herd managers. 

National has also proposed a “de-coupling” of skilled migrant staff from specific employers, instead making them tied to a sector or a region. . .  

Concern over ‘rushed reforms’, lack of detail – Neal Wallace:

The hectic pace of Government-initiated reform will result in poorly drafted legislation that will create a windfall for lawyers, warns National Party Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson.

Replacement draft legislation, such as for the Resource Management Act (RMA), lacks detail or an understanding of unintended consequences, he says, which will be determined by litigation.

“Either way the legislative changes coming at us like a steam train do not have that detail,” Simpson said.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) acknowledges it has a heavy workload developing policy to reform the RMA, climate change, indigenous biodiversity and water. . .

Water sampling technology on trial – Shawn McAvinue:

It is a data stream with a difference.

AgResearch Invermay senior scientist Richard Muirhead is developing new technology to help farmers wanting to improve water quality to make better decisions.

For the past two years, Dr Muirhead has been working on a project to get sensors to measure the levels of nitrogen, sediment, E.coli and phosphorus in waterways.

Sensor technology had been imported to measure the first three contaminants but the search continues for technology to measure phosphorus. . .

Tekapo -the Dark Sky Project is the place to stargaze – Jane Jeffries:

In the heart of the Mackenzie country is the small, quaint town of Tekapo, famous for the Good Shepherd church and the stunning vista through its window behind the altar. However, when the lake and mountain views disappear after dusk and the skies darken our twinkly solar system is exposed. It’s paradise for star gazers and a wonderful sight for young and old.

Whether you are a star gazer or just want to find out more about our solar system the Dark Sky Project in Takapo (Tekapo), is the place to start.

But before I talk about Tekapo’s terrific night sky, the town’s name needs an explanation. Tekapo was originally called Takapo. Takapō is the name the Ngāi Tahu tribe ancestors recorded. At Dark Sky Project they are extremely proud of their region and use the name Takapō, so that’s what we will call it.

Firstly, Takapo is one of the best places in the world to observe the night sky and it’s easily accessible. Minimal light pollution means the night sky views stretch as far as the eye can see. . . 

Farmland director elections nominations open :

Nominations are being sought for this year’s Farmlands Director Elections.

Two seats – one North Island and one South Island – are being contested. Farmlands Directors Dawn Sangster and Gray Baldwin are retiring by rotation in 2021 and both have indicated they are standing for re-election.

Farmlands Chairman Rob Hewett says having a say in governance is crucial to the ongoing success of the co-operative.

“Having high calibre shareholder representatives is critical not only to Farmlands but all rural co-operatives,” Mr Hewett says. “We have made tremendous strides in growing the talent pool of rural governance, alongside Silver Fern Farms, through the To the Core programme. . . 

Grazing cattle can improve agriculture’s carbon footprint – Adam Russell:

Ruminant animals like cattle contribute to the maintenance of healthy soils and grasslands, and proper grazing management can reduce the industry’s carbon emissions and overall footprint, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Richard Teague, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management and senior scientist of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon, said his research, “The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America,” published in the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Journal of Soil and Water Conservation presents sustainable solutions for grazing agriculture.

The published article, authored by Teague with co-authors who include Urs Kreuter, Ph.D., AgriLife Research socio-economist in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Bryan-College Station, was recognized at the society’s recent conference as a Soil and Water Conservation Society Research Paper for Impact and Quality.

Teague’s research showed appropriate grazing management practices in cattle production are among the solutions for concerns related to agriculture’s impact on the environment. His article serves as a call to action for the implementation of agricultural practices that can improve the resource base, environment, productivity and economic returns. . .


Rural round-up

02/08/2021

Dairy farmers sell: ‘We didn’t feel proud to be farmers anymore’ – Carmen Hall:

”Staring down” a $700,000 barrel of compliance, regulation and other costs proved to be the last straw for Welcome Bay dairy farmer Andrew McLeod.

In May 2020, he sold up and walked away from dairying and a farm that had been in his family for more than 50 years.

He’s not alone.

Farming leaders say the ”family farm is struggling to survive” amid an ”avalanche of regulations” and syndicates motivated by ”money”. . .

Precious memories of daughter, grandson – Alice Scott:

In the wake of the report on the death of Dunback farmer Nadine Thomlinson and her son Angus, Alice Scott talks to Nadine’s mother, Ann Restieaux.

Even when Nadine Tomlinson was young, she relished the physical nature of farming. She was a down-to-earth Southern girl; shy as a youngster who came out of her shell when she went to boarding school.

Her mother, Ann Restieaux, recalled her and her sister drenching lambs for their dad, Alex, while still at primary school.

“Alex would just trickle the lambs up to them and they chipped away. Nadine loved it. She was full speed ahead, she set incredibly high standards for herself and as a mother she achieved so much in her day because she just got up earlier if she needed to.” . . 

Farmers feeding thousands of Kiwis through Meat the Need:

Through the Meat the Need charity, farmers have provided more than 408,783 meals from over 883 donations in just one year. Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) talks to co-founder Siobhan O’Malley to reflect on a successful year and what’s next for the charity.

Since its inception early last year, Meat the Need has provided over 408,783 meals from over 883 donations to vulnerable people. The charity is nationwide and works to supply foodbanks with much-needed meat which is donated by farmers and processed and packaged with the help of Silver Fern Farms.

The charity was founded by South Island based farmers, Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures and Wayne Langford, also known as the YOLO farmer. Together they discovered that while there was a need for such as organisation, there was never anyone connecting willing farmers and community foodbank together to create a regular supply chain. . .

The wahine winemaker hunting for a sense of place – Charlotte Muru-Lanning:

With few Māori in the winemaking industry, and even fewer Māori women, Jannine Rickards is a rare breed. Charlotte Muru-Lanning visits her in Wairarapa.

An eye-catching bone hei matau adorns Jannine Rickard’s neck.

A fishhook symbolic of journeys that are interwoven into journeys, it’s been worn for the last 20 years, since her parents gifted it to her on her 21st birthday.

Those unexpected twists and turns that have unfurled along the way have coloured her own journey, which has brought her to where she is now, making wine in the Wairarapa.

There are just a handful of female Māori winemakers in the country, so, like her own small-batch wine, Rickards is something of a rare breed. . .

Testing efforts to keep family farm – Shawn McAvinue:

South Otago “primary school sweethearts” David and Ailsa Mackie have kept their farm in the family for more than 100 years.

The Mackie family run sheep, beef and deer on their 500ha farm Kuriwao Downs at Clinton, about 40km east of Gore.

Mrs Mackie (80) has never lived anywhere else. She was a girl when she met her future husband at Clinton School. He was a year older than her.

The couple raised five children on the farm — Brent, Copland, Jane, Rachel and Arthur. . . 

Craft and the love of learning kept this couple up late at night

Eric and Lois Muller have always loved timber and lace and the proof is in their home, which they completed themselves and which looks out on paddocks of tropical pasture. Here grows Santa Gertrudis/Hereford cross cattle, along the southern slopes of the Border Ranges at Rukenvale near Kyogle.

The interior glows with timber hues contrasted by velvet curtains backed by fine white lace and all up the presentation shows devotion to craft.

“As a kid I was self taught,” recalled 92 year Eric. “As a 12 year old I did woodwork one day a fortnight at the rural technology school at Boonah, Qld.

I went to lots of different schools in the depression. My father was a share farmer and worked wherever he could.” . . 


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

16/04/2021

Feds: live export ban ‘surprising’ – Simon Edwards:

The government’s announcement this morning that live export of animals will be banned after a transition period of up to two years has come as a surprise to Federated Farmers, Feds animal welfare spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“The Minister has said this is all about protecting New Zealand’s reputation as the most ethical producer of food in the world.

“Those farmers who support livestock exports would point out our trade in this sector operates to some of the highest animal welfare standards anywhere – standards that were further bolstered after last year’s Heron Report,” Wayne said.

“Our farmers care deeply about animal welfare. The government has seen fit to bring in this ban but Federated Farmers has no information about any breaches of the high standards relating to livestock exports.” . . 

Better safe than sorry – Ross Nolly:

Health and safety on the farm is an obligation which many farmers are meeting but an online tool is helping to simplify their recording practices.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And never is that saying truer than when it comes to Health and Safety (H&S) protocols on a farm.

Being proactive with H&S is always better than reactive and can potentially save you money. But more importantly, it could save a life or prevent a serious injury to family and employees on the farm.

With this in mind, Megan Owen started her business Orange Cross. Created by farmers for farmers, it is a tool to help farmers fulfil their H&S obligations. She and husband Jason are 50:50 sharemilkers on a 185ha dairy farm near Hamilton, Waikato, where they milk 520 cows. . . 

Dairy not sold on CCC advice – Neal Wallace:

The Climate Change Commission is being overly optimistic by claiming dairy farmers can produce the same volume of milk from less cows and in the process generate less methane, says DairyNZ.

The commission suggests a 15% reduction in farmed livestock numbers below 2018 levels is possible without compromising production due to improved animal performance, enabling biogenic methane targets to be met without new technology.

It claims farmers can run fewer cows on less land yet achieve the same or more milksolids per cow, generating less methane per kilogram of milksolids.

DairyNZ disagrees. . . 

Still trialling, despite his 80-plus years – Toni Williams:

Elder statesman Harvey Eggleston is the oldest member of the Mayfield Collie Club.

Mr Eggleston (82) was at Hakatere Station, in the Mid Canterbury high country, last month to celebrate the club’s centennial dog trial event.

He has been with the club 34 years but has a 60-year history in dog trials, having earlier been involved with the Oxford Collie Club.

He and wife Annette were seeking the sun when they moved from a 283ha sheep and beef farm at View Hill, near Oxford, to farm firstly at Valetta in Mid Canterbury, then to a sheep and beef farm, with dairy grazing, at Alford Forest. . . 

Horizons decision on Plan Change 2 brings certainty for farmers – Simon Edwards:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are pleased the Horizons Regional Council has adopted the recommendations of the Independent Hearing Panel for Proposed Plan Change 2.

“This gives some certainty for farmers who have been in limbo,” Federated Farmers National President and Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard says.

“Importantly, PC2 is an interim measure, intended to address the pressing issue about the One Plan’s workability while a more fundamental, region-wide work programme is completed to give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.” . . 

Study shows consumers view ag as part of the solution to climate change :

When it comes to climate change, consumers view agriculture as a part of the solution rather than the problem. Among participants in Cargill’s recent global Feed4Thought survey, those who indicated climate change as important to them also rated livestock and agriculture lowest in negative impact compared with other industries generally regarded as significant contributors. More than one-third of respondents expressed confidence in the industry’s ability to limit its contributions to climate change.    

“Farmers are critical to feeding the world sustainably and responsibly,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, who leads Cargill’s animal nutrition & health business. “With a growing population and rising consumer interest in climate change, they are also part of the solution to address some of the toughest environmental challenges. At Cargill, our focus continues to be advocating for farmers by supporting and amplifying efforts to reduce their environmental footprint, methane emissions and, in turn, climate impact.”

Cargill’s Feed4Thought survey included responses from 2,510 consumers representing the U.S., France, South Korea, and Brazil. From among all participants, transportation and deforestation were ranked as the greatest contributors to climate change. According to consumers surveyed, who’s most responsible for accelerating change? Fifty-nine percent said that federal and national governments bear the highest responsibility for addressing climate change, while 57 percent saw companies involved in beef production and 50 percent saw cattle farmers as responsible for reducing the impact of livestock. . . 


Rural round-up

25/03/2021

Pastoral lease review untenable – farmers – David Anderson:

High Country farmers are questioning the Government’s motives and the legality of its proposed reforms to pastoral land legislation.

“The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill is a solution looking for a problem, and is unnecessary, counterproductive and potentially unlawful,” Federated Farmers South Island policy manager Kim Reilly told the Environment Select Committee that is overseeing the bill.

“The existing contractual relationship [under the Crown Pastoral Land system] based on trust and reciprocity would be replaced by an approach of regulation, policing and enforcement.”

Reilly says the bill – as proposed – reduces the certainty of leases and the incentives for farmers to continue to invest in enhanced environmental outcomes. . . 

Beef up carcasses: Researcher – Shawn McAvinue:

Beef carcass weights need to rise after decades of “disappointing” results on the hook, a genetics researcher told a room of farmers in Gore last week.

Zoetis genetics area manager Amy Hoogenboom, speaking at a “What’s the Beef” roadshow at Heartland Hotel Croyden last week, said cattle carcass weights in New Zealand had increased by 4% on average in the past 30 years.

“Does that surprise anyone? Does that disappoint anyone?” she asked a room of about 40 beef farmers.

Dr Hoogenboom, of North Canterbury, said the increase was “not a great improvement”. . .

Are you roar ready? – Grace Prior:

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council is calling for greater awareness about hunting safety this season.

MSC said it was predicting that this year’s Roar, the biggest event in the deer hunting calendar, would be a big one with hunters itching to get out in the hills after covid-19 cancelled their chances to get out last year.

This year, MSC’s message was simple, “be the hunter your mates want to hunt with”.

MSC said there had been a death in Wairarapa in 2012 during the Roar season, where someone had been misidentified. . .  

Feds proud to back NZ Dairy Story:

Sip that fresh glass of New Zealand milk, cut a wedge of our cheese, and know the farmers behind it are world leaders in animal welfare and climate change. And unlike producers in many other nations, they do it without direct, free-trade distorting subsidies.

Federated Farmers is proud to endorse the messages in The New Zealand Dairy Story. It’s a resource launched this week that draws together facts and figures our exporters, government representatives, educators and others can use to continue to grow our global reputation for producing quality, highly-nutritious milk and more than 1500 other products and product specifications made from it.

“New Zealand’s farmers and dairy companies produce the equivalent of two and a half serves of milk per day for around 90 million people each year, many of whom are in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where there are not the same natural resources to produce milk,” Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Wayne Langford says. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Story: dairy goodness for the world:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is proud that dairy has joined other export sectors in telling its story through the New Zealand Story initiative to ‘make New Zealand famous for more good things’.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been added to the New Zealand Story online toolkit (https://www.nzstory.govt.nz/) and is one of dairy goodness for the world.

“The New Zealand Dairy Story sets out New Zealand’s unique combination qualities as a country – our natural advantages, our care, our ingenuity and our integrity – and how they come together to make New Zealand a great source of milk, and therefore of dairy nutrition for a sustainable diet” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. . . 

Westland unveils Project Goldrush: a $40 Million investment to access global consumer butter market:

Westland Milk Products is embarking on an ambitious $40 million plan to double capacity of its consumer butter manufacturing facility.

The plan to increase production of premium grass-fed consumer butter brand Westgold has been five years in the making and is backed by new owner, global dairy giant Yili.

Westland resident director Shiqing Jian said Westland was transitioning from a supplier of mostly bulk commodities to play a greater role in the production of consumer goods in an expanding global butter and spread market.

“The investment highlights the important role Westland plays in Yili’s ongoing plans to supply international industrial and consumer markets,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 

Water crisis highlights need for new solutions, technologies to drive conservation in Asian agriculture:

As World Water Day is recognized in Asia and around the globe today, CropLife Asia is marking the occasion by calling for more intensive efforts and collaborative work to drive water conservation in regional agriculture.

“There is no natural resource as precious as water, and how we work together to ensure it’s conservation will play a large part in determining the future for all of us,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. “Food production requires far too much of this precious resource. Thankfully, plant science innovations are reducing the amount of water needed to drive agriculture. Access to these technologies and other tools that support sustainable food production with less dependence on water are critical for Asia’s farmers.”

With the recent release of new water security data as part of UNICEF’s Water Security for All initiative, the critical importance of the availability of this resource is more evident than ever. Specifically, the analysis revealed that more than 1.42 billion people worldwide live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability – this includes 450 million children. . . 


Rural round-up

09/12/2020

Natural fibres could be a game changer – Annette Scott:

The launch of a new natural fibre company is set to re-emerge wool and hemp to the forefront of a global sea-change in consumer preference.

In a move to innovate for a greener tomorrow, NZ Yarn, a subsidiary of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), and hemp processing company Hemp NZ have joined forces to create New Zealand D a natural fibres and materials business with global ambitions.

NZNF chair Craig Carr says the new company is aiming to be a pioneer in the global natural fibres revolution.

Products will be made from renewable NZ-grown hemp and wool, as well as blends of the two fibres using proprietary technology to prototype, produce and market a wide range of consumer and industrial options. . . 

How do we brand differently? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The marketers are telling us that they have no choice – but to pursue it.

Big names like Danone, Cargill and Walmart are all trying to show they are being environmentally responsible by sourcing regenerative agriculture (RA) products. Danone is planting trees to offset activities. Cargill is encouraging farmers to move from permanent cropping monocultures in areas bigger than most New Zealand farms to no-till rotations. Walmart is aiming for ‘beyond sustainability’ across its supply chain – including agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

To support the move, environmental auditors are growing in number. . . 

Getting off the land and into the waves – Rebecca Ryan:

North Otago and South Canterbury farmers are being encouraged to get off their farms and into the waves this summer.

Surfing for Farmers, a mental health initiative which helps farmers manage stress by teaching them to surf, started in Gisborne in 2018. It has since spread to 15 other locations across the country, and will launch in Kakanui at Campbells Bay on December 9.

Surfing for Farmers founder Stephen Thomson got the idea from the Netflix documentary Resurface, about US soldiers with PTSD using surfing to help their rehabilitation.

He secured some sponsorship from local businesses, found a surfing instructor and put the word out to local farmers. . . 

Proposal to bring bubbles of 300 RSE workers to Hastings for managed isolation – Marty Sharpe:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is considering a proposal to turn a former Hastings motel into a Managed Isolation and Quarantine facility specifically for 300-strong bubbles of returning fruit pickers from the Pacific Islands.

The proposal was included in a plan submitted by Hawke’s Bay councils and local horticultural and viticultural industries to the government last month.

The industry and councils are concerned about the huge shortage of workers and the “significant social and economic impact for New Zealand and the Hawke’s Bay region”.

The RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme usually brings in 14,000 workers. The government has agreed to allow 2000 workers in under strict conditions. These would add to the 5000 still in the country, meaning there would be roughly half the usual number of RSE workers for the upcoming picking season. . . 

‘Meat the Need’ way for farmers to help most vulnerable – Sally Rae:

Farmers feed people.

That, as West Coast dairy farmer Siobhan O’Malley succinctly puts it, is their job. And, in the case of “Meat the Need”, the charity she co-founded, farmers are helping feed those particularly in need.

Last month, Mrs O’Malley and Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford received the industry champion award at the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards for Meat the Need, which kicked off during the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Originally focused on supplying meat to City Missions and foodbanks, Meat the Need receives meat given by farmers, which is then processed and packed by Silver Fern Farms and delivered. . . 

 

What if the United States stopped eating meat? – Frank Mitloehner:

If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the problem of global warming and distracts us from more impactful mitigation opportunities.

But that’s not what certain people, companies, and news outlets would have you believe. Businesses invested in plant-based alternatives and lab-grown meat continue to exaggerate the impact of animal agriculture in efforts to convert meat-eaters to their products, mostly in the name of environmental health. But if Americans choose to forgo meat, it would have a minimal and short-term impact on the climate.

In 2017, Professors Mary Beth Hall and Robin White published an article regarding the nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from U.S. agriculture. Imagining for a moment that Americans have eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they concluded such a scenario would lead to a reduction of a mere 2.6 percent in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the United States. Subscribing to Meatless Monday only would bring about a 0.3 percent decrease in GHG emissions, again in the U.S. A measurable difference to be sure, but far from a major one.

As an aside, the solely plant-based agriculture hypothesized by Professors Hall and White would result in various negative results, economic and nutritional among them. For example, we would be able to produce 23 percent more food by volume, but the plant-based food would fall short of delivering essential nutrients to the U.S. population, they concluded. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/09/2020

Storm reminiscent of 2010 mega-storm that killed hundreds of thousands of lambs, say Fed Farmers – Bonnie Flaws & Rachael Kelly:

Farmers in the Otago and Southland regions of the South Island say any lambs born overnight on Monday could not have survived.

Federated Farmers Southland vice-president Bernadette Hunt said it was beginning to look a lot like 2010, when a nasty storm followed by days of rain left an estimated 250,000 to one million lambs dead.

“Before this event started, the province was already wet, now there’s this ongoing event with snow and wind, and there’s a wet forecast to follow.

“Farmers were well-prepared, but as this drags on, the sheltered areas are turning to mud, making conditions awful for lambs and ewes. Coupled with the windchill, this is tough even on lambs that are several days old, and on ewes whose milk production will be affected,” she said. . . 

Think rural mental health while drafting policies – Sudesh Kissun:

The effects of government policies on rural communities and farmer wellbeing must be considered when drafting them, says Federated Farmers dairy section chair Wayne Langford.

“As we move from a quantity to quality form of agriculture, having a clear mind is key and will result in amazing increases in productivity, profitability and passion for farming,” he told Dairy News.

Langford made the comments to mark the Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand last week. He joined other sector leaders in urging rural mental health to be a priority.

Langford, who farms in Golden Bay, says mental health support for farmers and others working in agriculture has improved immensely over the last ten years. However, he says there is an opportunity to increase training through inter-personal skills and personality profiling. . . 

Tough times called for tough decisions – Sudesh Kissun:

Retiring Fonterra chairman John Monaghan steps down from the cooperative’s board, satisfied at leaving behind a business in good stead.

Monaghan took over as chairman in July 2018, right in the middle of Fonterra’s financial struggles and just months before the departure of then-chief executive Theo Spierings.

After two years of financial losses, Fonterra this month announced a $659 million annual profit, turning around a $605m loss the previous year.

Regarded as a safe pair of hands, Monaghan –backed by a management team led by chief executive Miles Hurrell – steered the co-op back to profitability.

Complex family legacy – and name – continued on farm – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Scottish lairds and ladies, ancient deeds, unimaginable wealth, the slave trade.

The Glassford family history reads like an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, the British genealogy documentary series on the BBC.

Central Otago farmer Antony William Gordon Glassford chuckles at the suggestion that his descent from a Scottish tobacco lord could make him “Tony the Toff”. No silk frockcoats for this fifth-generation New Zealander, who farms near Omakau.

Tony Glassford’s family have farmed Dougalston, the name taken from his ancestors’ long vanished Scottish estate, at Drybread for 156 years. They have been recognised twice in the Century Farm Awards, which is given to properties in continuous ownership for 100 years, or in their case for more than 150 years. . . 

FarmIQ appoints chief executive officer:

FarmIQ is pleased to announce the appointment of Will Noble in the role of Chief Executive Officer, starting in late September 2020.

Mr Noble is an experienced strategic and operational leader. He is a strong all-rounder with a background in a range of areas such as digital, software-as-a-service, niche market, management consulting, advisory, and project management. His most recent role was as the Client Services Director at Fujitsu New Zealand.

FarmIQ’s Chairman John Quirk says, “Mr Noble is a customer-orientated New Zealand business leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and solutions-focused approach. Will has demonstrated he can transform organisations to achieve growth in complex environments through a focus on innovation, customers and his team. . . 

Farmers warned to check fuel tanks after driver seriously injured:

Farmers are being warned that poorly maintained tripod tanks are a serious health and safety risk to fuel users.

The safety alert from the Fuel Distributors Industry Safety Committee and WorkSafe New Zealand follows a recent incident where a fuel tanker driver was seriously injured on a farm where a tripod overhead tank collapsed while he was filling it.

The root cause of the collapse was significant rust corrosion on one of the tank legs. Farm implements close to the tank also contributed to the driver’s injuries.

“No farmer wants to be responsible for an incident like this happening on their farm,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe Agriculture Lead. . .


Rural round-up

09/07/2020

Wool, trees, rules threaten sheep – Annette Scott:

Sheep farming is under serious threat from incentives to grow trees and more crops, retired Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson says.

In his six years on the national executive, the past three as section chairman, Anderson said the biggest single frustration has been wool.

“We have got a product we have selectively bred for generations and generations, it ticks all the environmental boxes and many of us are dumping crutchings, bellies and pieces on-farm because it costs more to get them to the woolstore than you get for it – it’s ridiculous.

“If there was ever a time for the wool industry to get its act together and work collaboratively to improve the fortunes of everyone in the industry, now is the time. . . 

We don’t know how lucky we are – Gerald Piddock:

New Federated Farmers dairy chairman Wayne Langford says the next few years will be critical for the industry as it navigates freshwater reform, climate change and Mycoplasma bovis.

The Golden Bay dairy farmer takes over from Chris Lewis, having served as his vice-president for the past three years.

“I think with the state of the Government and potentially them doing another term, I think these are all going to start to come to a head. 

“They have made their intentions pretty clear on that so I think these next three years are pretty crucial in that, making sure our farming sector, where we are still profitable and where there are still vibrant communities and a bunch of young farmers still on the ground.” . .  

A shake-up for the land and her export billions – Tim Murphy:

The Government wants to accelerate improvements to production and sustainability on the land to greatly increase export earnings over the next decade. But big change will be needed, Tim Murphy reports.

A new package to grow our agriculture, food and fibre industries, improve the environment and stimulate jobs has a huge financial target and an even bigger set of challenges for farmers and growers.

The final report of the Primary Sector Council – Fit for a Better World – sets an ambitious agenda to ‘transform’ farm and forestry practices sustainably and in keeping with Te Taiao (the natural world) to address the climate crisis, while finding new $1 billion export products and saving and developing free trade for our products.

After a long period of consultation and research, the council’s vision for New Zealand’s primary industries is all encompassing: “We are committed to meeting the greatest challenge humanity faces: rapidly moving to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity and, at the same time, feeding our people.” . . 

Grief over grain drain – David Anderson:

A whole generation of farmers don’t seem to know about the advantages of feeding NZ-grown grain to livestock, claims Jeremy Talbot.

Talbot is a South Canterbury arable farmer and long-time proponent of farmers using more NZ-grown grain to feed their livestock.

believes the current drought in many parts of the country, and the resulting shortage of hay and baleage, is an ideal time for the practice of grain feeding livestock to be highlighted. . . 

Government Sells Taxpayers Down The River:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is sceptical that 61% of taxpayer funding for waterway clean-up just happens to be focused on the Northland electorate.

Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says: “The Government has announced that $162 million of taxpayers’ money will be spent on cleaning our waterways. There are 23 projects, but one will receive $100 million, 61% of the total allocation. It is also the only project set to run more than one year.”

“The Kaipara Moana Remediation programme is predicted to create 1,094 jobs over the six-year life of the project surrounding the Kaipara Harbour, most of which sits within the key electorate of Northland.  . . 

How bush fire management is saving the Carpentaria grasswren – Derek Barry:

Aerial fire management is helping save the Carpentaria grasswren in North West Queensland.

The project at Calton Hills at Gunpowder, north of Mount Isa has been running for three years replicating land management that used to be done for centuries before Europeans arrived and a new video produced by Southern Gulf NRM is showing how it is working.

Michael Blackman, a fire management consultant with Friendly Fire Ecological Consultants said the aerial burns was carried out in older age spinifex.

“This country here has a lot of large wildfires come through in 2011 and 2012 and the main reason for doing this project is to assist in the recovery of the Carpentaria grasswren which lives in the old age spinifex,” Mr Blackman said. . . 


Rural round-up

12/06/2020

Experts call for review of regenerative farming ‘mythology’ –  Sally Rae;

Two prominent plant science academics have called for the establishment of an expert panel of scientists to review claims made about regenerative agriculture.

In a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Dr Derrick Moot, a professor of plant science at Lincoln University, and retired senior lecturer Dr Warwick Scott said they were concerned about the “mythology” of regenerative agriculture “and its worrying increased profile in the New Zealand media and farming sectors”.

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers had world-leading agricultural practices and the underpinning scientific principles of the country’s current agricultural systems were in danger of being devalued by a system they believed had several serious shortcomings, they said.

They were particularly concerned the “erroneous publicity” about regenerative agriculture would divert the limited New Zealand agricultural science resources from more important, substantive issues.

To define regenerative agriculture was difficult, the pair said. . . 

Dairy industry needs skilled, willing workers, wherever they’re from – Esther Taunton:

“New Zealand’s dairy industry has a shortage of skilled and willing workers.”

It’s a simple sentence so why does such a large chunk of the non-dairy farming population seem to have a problem understanding the key words – “skilled” and “willing”?

When Stuff ran the story of two South Island farmers desperately trying to get their skilled migrant workers back across our closed borders before the start of calving, it took just minutes for the keyboard warriors to roll out the same tired accusations and arguments.

“Serves them right for choosing migrants over Kiwis!” they cried.

But they didn’t. Not without trying to find Kiwi workers first, anyway. Because even if they didn’t want to employ New Zealanders, farmers have a legal obligation to advertise for local staff before they’re able to start recruiting offshore. . . 

Strong 2019/20 financial result for Zespri helps support regional New Zealand:

2019/20 Financial Results Summary:
• Total Operating revenue: NZ$3.36 billion
• Total fruit sales revenue: NZ$3.14 billion
• Total New Zealand-grown fruit and service payments: $1.96 billion
• New Zealand and Non-New Zealand trays sold: 164.4 million trays
• Zespri’s net profit after tax NZ$200.8 million
• Expected Total Dividends: NZ$0.94

Almost NZ$2 billion was returned to New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry following Zespri’s 2019/20 season, helping support thousands of businesses, workers and regional communities around the country.

Zespri’s 2019/20 Financial Results show total fruit and service payments, which are returns direct to the New Zealand industry, increased by 8 percent year on year to NZ$1.96 billion. . . 

Meating’ the need:

While COVID-19 lockdown rules have now been eased, many New Zealand foodbanks remain under huge pressure as breadwinners lose their jobs and savings run dry.

To help keep up with this demand and to provide something a bit different from the regular food box items, a charity set up by farmers is connecting donated produce from farmers with processors and foodbanks.

‘Meat The Need’ was founded by South Island farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley. Since it started in mid-April, meat from more than 200 animals, including cattle, sheep and deer, has been donated to food banks around the South Island, enough for a staggering 90,000 meals for vulnerable families! . . 

Expos aimed at creating win-win – Tracey Roxburgh:

A Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) initiative is hoping to create a win-win from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

The SIT is holding two Agricultural Redeployment Expos, one each in Queenstown and Te Anau, this week, hoping to attract people who may have lost jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector to retrain in the agricultural sector, which is facing a shortage of about 150 skilled machinery operators this year.

Annually, the agriculture sector has sought fill those roles with workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, in particular, but given border closures this year due to the global pandemic, that will not be possible. . . 

Native plants sequester carbon for longer – Marc Daalder:

A new study indicates native plants, despite their tendency to grow more slowly than exotic species like Pinus Radiata, are better at storing carbon in the soil for longer periods of time, Marc Daalder reports

Exotic plant species release 150 percent more carbon dioxide from the soil than native New Zealand plants, according to a new study from the Bio-Protection Research Centre published in Science.

The research is the latest development in an extended scientific debate over whether to prioritise planting native or exotic species to increase biodiversity and fight climate change.

While it doesn’t upset the longstanding scientific consensus that faster-growing plants sequester more carbon – and that exotic species planted outside their usual range will grow faster – the study does complicate the picture of the carbon cycle. . . 

Time for EU to commit to level playing field for trade:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU.

Details leaked ahead of the 8th round of EU-NZ FTA negotiations have revealed the EU is seeking to maintain an extreme level of market access restriction against New Zealand dairy exports. The leaked EU market access offer comes despite both parties having committed to ‘work towards a deep, comprehensive, and high-quality Free Trade Agreement’.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, says the reported EU offer, comprised of miniscule quota volumes and high in-quota tariffs, could never credibly form part of a free trade agreement between the economies. . . 


Rural round-up

04/05/2020

An apple harvest no-one will ever forget – Nikki Mandow:

Apple growers have filled our fruit bowls and bolstered our export coffers, while harvesting a bumper crop and maintaining strict social distancing for their workforce. It’s been a nightmare.

Simon Easton sounds relaxed. The fourth-generation apple farmer grows 61 hectares of fruit outside Motueka with his brother. They are nearly at the end of this year’s harvest – a week more picking, a month more packing and they’re done.

Easy as. Not.

On a scale of one to 10, Easton reckons his stress levels this season have been up around 9.8. Particularly at the beginning of the pandemic. . .

Coronavirus: Alliance Group adapts to changing global markets -Louisa Steyl:

The rural sector is tipped to help Southland’s economy pull through the coronavirus lockdown. What does that mean for the Alliance Group? Louisa Steyl reports.

Being agile and responding to markets’ rapid changes both domestically and on a global scale will help some companies come through the downturn in the economy.

The Alliance Group, with processing plants in Dannevirke, Levin, Nelson, Oamaru, Timaru and its two Southland-based plants Lorneville and Mataura, has been affected during the lockdown.   . . 

 

Fish and Game review change to refocus:

The recently announced review into Fish and Game needs to ensure the organisation’s focus returns to working in the best interests of anglers and hunters, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“Over recent years there has been tension between Fish and Game and farming groups that has contributed to a rural-urban divide.

“Many prized fishing and hunting spots are on privately owned farmland and there is a lot of goodwill between individual farmers and recreational hunters and anglers in negotiating access. . . 

Kiwis left scratching their heads as butter turns white – Esther Taunton:

Something’s happening to our butter.

Usually a deep yellow, it’s been getting progressively lighter and even farmers are puzzled by its now barely off-white hue.

In a recent tweet, Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford pointed out the change, comparing a block of Anchor butter to his “tan free legs.” . .

Act now, plan ahead – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling through extended drought and increasing feed shortages are being told to act now and plan for winter.

It’s a message farmers in other parts of the country should heed as well, with feed shortages likely to be wide-ranging. 

The southern half of Hawke’s Bay is entering its seventh month of below-normal rainfall and there is no sign of the drought breaking. . .

Learning from Covid: How biosecurity lessons in Asia will help Australia :

As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, a consortium of Australian and New Zealand veterinary scientists has been established to train a new generation of ‘animal disease detectives’ in 11 countries across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“A year after African swine fever wiped out more than a quarter of the global pig population and with more than 200,000 people dead from COVID-19, equipping veterinarians with the tools for disease outbreak investigation and surveillance has never been more important,” said program leader Associate Professor Navneet Dhand from the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science and Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. . .


Rural round-up

22/04/2020

Meating needs of hungry Kiwis:

Two farmers have stepped up to help the growing number of families affected by food poverty.

Meat the Need is a new charity set up by Siobhan O’Malley and Wayne Langford to provide a way for farmers to give livestock to food banks and city missions.

The livestock is processed by Silver Fern Farms where it is turned it into mince and distributed to charity groups.

O’Malley said it is not quite right that farmers can feed millions of people overseas but there are still people hungry in New Zealand.  . .

Fonterra chairman’s milk price caution – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra farmers are being told to brace for a lower farm gate milk price next season.

In an email to farmer shareholders last night, Fonterra chairman John Monaghan pointed out that milk production in key markets around the world is up.

This could affect global supply/demand balance that supported “solid” milk price this season.

Fonterra is forecasting a milk price range of $7 to $7.60/kgMS this season. It will announce the opening forecast for the 2020-21 season late May. . . 

Essential food processors take massive wage subsidies – Brent Melville:

Primary food processors deemed essential under government’s lockdown restrictions, have received wage subsidies totalling about $90 million.

The Ministry of Social Development’s online tool, developed to promote transparency of payments under the scheme, shows that the two major meat companies account for a combined $77.7 million.

Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have been paid subsidies of $43.3 million and $34.4 million respectively to supplement wages for a combined 11,000 workers. . .

NZ Food processing sector’s key role in NZ’s post Covid-19 recovery :

NZ’s processed food sector is well placed to support New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from the global COVID-19 crisis, according to the head of food science and innovation hub, FoodHQ.

FoodHQ CEO, Dr Abby Thompson says under Level 4 there has been unprecedented examples of collaboration and innovation in the NZ food industry, in order to overcome the obstacles of lockdown at home and abroad.

“The level of activity and enthusiasm that companies, scientists and entrepreneurs have applied to the problem of processing and supplying food has been outstanding.” . .

Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards champions named:

At a time when kiwis are rediscovering home cookery, the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards is delighted to announce its 2020 Champions – the best of the country’s locally grown and made food and drink products.

Organic farmers, Bostock Brothers, were named Supreme Champion for theirOrganic Whole Chicken. Hawke’s Bay brothers Ben and George Bostock have their chickens roam free on their parents former apple orchard. They pride themselves on letting their chickens grow naturally, feeding them home-grown organic maize and giving them longer, happier lives. As well as how they grow their chooks it’s what they don’t do which adds to flavour. Bostock’s chicken is free of chemicals and antibiotics and when it comes to processing their product does not receive chlorine baths. The judges raved about the product saying, ‘Outstanding flavour, succulent and delicious.’ .  .

Dairy farmers to cast milk solids levy vote:

Dairy farmers are encouraged to have their say in the milksolids levy vote 2020, which is now open for voting. It is a one-in-six year vote for industry good organisation, DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said the milksolids levy funds industry good activities through DairyNZ which delivers dairy sector research, development, advocacy and expertise.

“The milksolids levy has been part of New Zealand dairy farming for 17 years. Its roots are in funding work that enables farmers to continue thriving in an ever-changing world. With the challenges of COVID-19, the changing nature of farming has never been more real,” said Mr van der Poel. . .

Blue chip East Coast station placed on the market for sale:

The rare opportunity to purchase an iconic, high-performing East Coast station is drawing strong interest from farmers and investors throughout New Zealand.

Mangaheia Station near Tolaga Bay is on the market for the first time in many years, offering a unique opportunity for buyers to tap into on-going strong returns anticipated from the red meat market in a prime winter growing location.

Simon Bousfield, Bayleys Gisborne agent says Mangaheia’s uniqueness is due as much to its scale as to the strong level of investment the property has enjoyed in recent years. . . 


Rural round-up

15/04/2020

New research indicates NZ’s sheep and beef greenhouse gas emissions have been overstated:

AgResearch has developed a more accurate calculation of the nitrous oxide emissions from sheep, beef and dairy production, which shows that nitrous oxide emissions are two thirds and one third respectively lower than previously thought.

The new nitrous oxide measurement will reduce each sector’s total greenhouse gas emission by the following:

    • Total sheep emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide emissions) will be around 10.6 percent lower than previously reported. 
    • Total beef cattle emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide emissions) will be 5.0 percent lower than previously reported. . . 

Workers give up Eater break to clear logjam at meat plants – Eric Frykberg:

Staff at 12 meat plants run by Silver Fern Farms worked on Good Friday and Easter Monday to try to catch up with a serious backlog of animals needing to be processed.

The company won’t give any numbers because of commercial confidentiality but says a dent was made in the logjam of stock at hardpressed processing plants.

The problem arose even before the Covid-19 crisis, when drought killed off grass growth on many New Zealand paddocks, leaving little feed available for livestock.

To solve this problem, farmers sent their stock to the works early, creating a backlog of stock in waiting yards. . . 

Shearing not cut out – Pam Tipa:

Shearing has been deemed an essential service, but people must come first, says Mike Barrowcliffe, NZ Shearing Contractors Association president.

“The last thing an 80-year-old farmer wants is a whole lot of young people who haven’t been self-isolating turning up to his place to shear his sheep,” he says.

Everyone should put safety first throughout the whole supply chain – from the farmers themselves to contractor employees, Barrowcliffe told Rural News.

“They need to ask the questions, is it essential and can it wait?” he says. . . 

Vet firm uneasy over what services to offer – Sally Rae:

It’s not business as usual for vets — despite what the public’s perception might be, Oamaru vet Simon Laming says.

Mr Laming, of Veterinary Centre Ltd, which has clinics throughout the region, expressed concerns about the services the business should continue to offer, and the public perception of continuing to operate as an essential service.

A visit from police recently followed a complaint from a member of the public who had seen two people in one of the Veterinary Centre’s trucks.

What had been difficult to establish was exactly what services should be offered as guidelines were not very specific, Mr Laming said. . . 

Meat Industry Association calls for fair treatment in renewable energy targets:

New Zealand’s meat processing sector will need more time if it is to meet proposed targets for renewable energy, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sirma Karapeeva, Chief Executive of the MIA, said the vast cost of converting coal-fired boilers to alternative heating by the proposed deadline of 2030 would place huge pressure on an industry that is already facing significant headwinds.

If the proposals go ahead in their current form, the sector would not be able to absorb the estimated $80 million capital cost of converting to direct electric, heat pump or biomass options in such a short time frame. . . 

Wattie’s is setting production records to help supermarkets meet consumer demand:

Teams of employees in Wattie’s factories in Hawke’s Bay, Christchurch and Auckland have been working as never before to help keep supermarkets stocked in their efforts to satisfy consumer demand in these unprecedent times of the Covid-19 crisis.

The range of products include Wattie’s tomato sauce, Wattie’s baked beans & spaghetti, soups and canned and frozen meals, frozen peas and mixed vegetables, and dips. On top of these are the seasonal products like peaches, pears and beetroot.

All this while, the country’s largest tomato harvesting and processing season is underway in Hawke’s Bay. Harvesting started on February 21 and is scheduled to continue until April 22. With social distancing requirements extending to the fields, the job of harvest operators can become very lonely with 12-hour shifts. . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2019

Sustainability sparks new role :

A 4400ha central Hawkes Bay dairy farming operation is taking sustainability so seriously it has created a senior role specifically to oversee its environmental planning.

The Waipukurau-based BEL Group operates nine dairy farms, milks 9440 cows and employs 70 fulltime staff and has appointed Robert Barry in a new position as its sustainability lead.

Barry’s brief is to look after 16 farm environmental plans and nine dairy effluent consents to work towards a more sustainable future. . . 

Alliance is aiming for the top – Alan Williams:

Alliance has signalled a more aggressive stance on moving up the value chain and a nationwide footprint, including possible North Island expansion.

The Southland-based, farmer-owned co-operative is now targeting a top one or two market share across all its processing species of lamb, beef and venison, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The caveat is that North Island expansion will be attempted only if it will add value to all existing shareholders, Surveyor told about 50 shareholder-suppliers at Rotherham in North Canterbury at the group’s first new season roadshow.

Alliance is the biggest lamb processor and strong in venison but is only fifth or sixth biggest in beef processing and will need a major North Island presence, from one beef plant now in Levin, to be a top-two operator.  . . 

Farm has traffic lights for pooh :

Otago dairy farmers Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells have traffic lights on their farm.

It’s nothing to do with congestion – at least not of the car variety. The Wells’ traffic lights are designed to deal with one of the biggest challenges facing many dairy farmers: effluent.

In the ongoing effort to improve water quality up and down the country, efficient effluent systems are needed to manage the risk of effluent reaching waterways. . . 

Farmers give thumbs up:

Fonterra’s new strategy and honesty are a hit with its dairy farmers despite the massive balance sheet losses and the lack of a dividend for the past 18 months.

Farmers and marketers have welcomed the scaled back and more realistic strategy with triple-bottom line reporting targets, chief among them sustainable earnings and a good return on capital.

Golden Bay Fonterra supplier and Federated Farmers national dairy vice-chairman Wayne Langford echoed many shareholders’ support for their co-operative’s plans to down-size and refocus on New Zealand milk supply while still smarting over the massive losses.

Southland farmer Don Moore, of McNab, had some unease about the ambition of the previous strategy but is more comfortable with the new version and its more modest goals. . . 

Fonterra strategy positive but light on detail – Jarden :

Dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group’s intent and direction is good but lacking in detail, says Jarden research analyst Arie Dekker.

Fonterra yesterday unveiled a new strategy that puts greater emphasis on extracting value rather than pursuing volume. Key elements include bringing the focus squarely back to New Zealand and a pull-back from its consumer brands.

“We are disappointed by the lack of detail accompanying Fonterra’s strategic reveal,” Dekker said in a note to clients . . 

 

Farmers make the case for pasture-raised animals with Pro-Pasture Fridays campaign :

When you think of a farm, do you imagine cattle grazing on rich, green pasture grass and chickens pecking around in the dirt, looking for bugs? Do you envision lambs bounding around on legs like springs and pigs rooting through the soil and rolling in cool, delicious mud?

The reality is that scenes like this are rare exceptions, not the norm. Animals are typically raised in crowded conditions in closed-in barns called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). They’re fed a diet of “mash — a blend of cereal grains that can include corn, barley, sorghum or wheat,” according to

by Oregon writer Lynne Curry. Because of the crowded conditions in the CAFOs and the need to maximize growth, Curry writes that cattle “receive daily doses of additives that improve digestion and are injected with slow-release pellets of synthetic estrogen that can add up to 40 extra pounds.” . . 


Rural round-up

08/07/2019

Katie Milne addresses national conference:

Kiwis can be proud of the rural women and men who produce the top quality food that arrives daily in supermarkets, and the extra which is shipped offshore as exports that help fuel our economy.  Over 65% of our exports come from agricultural food production and we produce it with a lower carbon footprint than any other country in the world.  

Biosecurity threats, geopolitics, alternative proteins, robotics, disruptors, food and environment sustainability…there’s no shortage of challenges and change confronting us. 

But you should also know – especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to catch some of the keynote addresses and panel discussions of the inaugural Primary Industries Summit that Federated Farmers organised and has hosted Monday and Tuesday – that New Zealand also has a wealth of ideas, talent and drive to deal with these big issues coming at us. . .

Tougher bank capital rules could slice 10% from dairy profits – Rabo NZ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Stricter bank capital requirements would severely dent dairy farm profits if the Reserve Bank goes ahead as planned, warn dairy interests in submissions on the contentious proposals.

“Our initial estimates are that the proposals could – at least in the short term – result in approximately a 10 percent decrease in profit for the agriculture sector,” Rabobank New Zealand said in its submission. . .

Trees replace top cattle – Annette Scott:

As far north as sale yards get in New Zealand the Broadwood selling centre in Northland hosted one of the country’s more notable capital stock clearing sales last week.

On behalf of Mark and Michelle Hammond of Herekino, Carrfields Livestock held the sale of a Hereford beef herd that put 50 years of top-quality genetics under the hammer, the animals’ grazing land destined for pine trees. . .

Ruapehu rural reading scheme spells out a winning idea  –  Katie Doyle:

A pair of librarians from the central North Island town of Taumarunui are bringing a love of reading to rural school children.

Fiona Thomas and Libby Ogle have started their very own mobile library – each month ferrying a load of books to two isolated primary schools in the Ruapehu District.

The idea came to life eighteen months ago when Mrs Thomas realised some kids in the region couldn’t access the library because they lived too away. . .

Blue Sky reports best result in 8 years – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Southland meat processor and marketer Blue Sky Meats says the year to March was its best result in eight years as a strategic plan bore fruit.

The company, which is due to release its annual report shortly, said the March financial year ended with revenue up by 34 percent to a record $140 million. Pre-tax profit was up 36 percent at $5 million. . .

Overseas investors fined almost $3 million for illegal purchase of Auckland properties:

The High Court yesterday ordered the overseas owners of two rural properties at Warkworth, north of Auckland, to pay $2.95 million to the Crown after an Overseas Investment Office (OIO) investigation found they were bought without consent. The properties were bought in 2012 and 2014.

The court ordered the owners to sell the properties and pay penalties, costs and the gain made on the investment.

The overseas owners – Chinese businessmen Zhongliang Hong and Xueli Ke, and IRL Investment Limited and Grand Energetic Company Limited – should have applied to the OIO for consent to buy both properties because they are rural land of more than five hectares. . .

Latest technology to be demonstrated at the Horticulture Conference 2019:

Technology that will help fruit and vegetable growers now and in the future will be demonstrated at Our Food Future, the Horticulture Conference 2019 between 31 July and 2 August at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.   

‘We’ve gone all out to ensure that this year’s conference features demonstrations of technology that can help growers tackle some of the challenges that they face,’ says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘From biological control products for crop protection to robots for asparagus harvesting and greenhouse spraying, they will all be demonstrated during the morning of second day of the conference.  . .

Ben Richards becomes Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of Year 2019:

Ben Richards from Indevinbecame the Bayer MarlboroughYoung Viticulturist of the Year 2019 on 4 July following the competition held at Constellation’s Drylands Vineyard.

Congratulations also to Jaimee Whitehead from Constellation for coming second and Dan Warman also from Constellation for coming third. . 


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