Rural round-up

September 1, 2020

Primary sector keen to streamline rules with govt – Neal Wallace:

Primary sector groups shut out of the final development phases of the Government’s freshwater policy are urging politicians to work with them to make the regulations workable.

Since late May, sector groups have been excluded from the formation of the policy other than a three-day opportunity to respond to the final draft.

“We had limited opportunity as an industry to provide feedback during the final rule writing process,” Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison said.

Until then, industry groups were working effectively with the Government and were getting concessions. . . 

Government refuses to act on workers – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are still struggling to fill the huge hole of workers it needs, despite recruiting 300 locals to the industry.

Meanwhile, the Government is refusing to allow more operators from overseas into the country. Read: Locals only will not ‘cut the mustard’.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has dashed any hopes of this happening, saying there will not be any special accommodation made for overseas agriculture contractor workers.

“The door won’t be open in time for the new season,” he concedes. . .

From Boeing to baling: pilots fly to the rescue of heavy agriculture industry for upcoming harvest:

New Zealand pilots waiting for international aviation to restart will be able to use their aviation transport skills to help meet the urgent need for heavy agriculture machinery operators throughout the country.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) Medical and Welfare Director, Andy Pender said that the Association had been working for several months with the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Rural Contractors’ Association, other government departments and training providers to match pilot expertise with the immediate needs of the agricultural sector.

“By matching skills and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) licences pilots already hold, we’ve found almost 200 opportunities for pilots to put their skills to use with land-based machinery and do their bit for New Zealand’s essential agriculture economy,” Andy Pender said. . . 

Innovation-led LIC launches ‘Ag-celerator’ investment fund:

Leading agritech and herd improvement cooperative LIC has launched a new fund to support innovations with the potential to positively impact New Zealand’s valuable dairy sector.

LIC has launched an early-stage investment fund, named the LIC AgCelerator™ Fund, for individuals and entities seeking to develop innovations that will deliver value to the dairy industry from generating higher yields, improving animal health, diagnostic tools and improved traceability to sustainability, advancements in breeding techniques and leveraging big data for improvements to farm management.

LIC Chief Executive, Wayne McNee says annual investment in upstream agritech companies grew 44% year-on-year from 2012 to 2018 and a further 1.3% from 2018-2019 highlighting both the opportunities and need for expansion. . .

Creating opportunities for New Zealanders with hemp:

The NZHIA are using “Innovation as a Service” to identify opportunities for industrial hemp in the food, fibre and processing sectors.

Hemp has long been known for its properties as a food, strong fibre, and an environmental super crop now, it could spell opportunity for New Zealand farmers.

As part of their agriculture super node strategy, Christchurch NZ, with the support of NZHIA (New Zealand Hemp Industries Association), Webtools Agritech, and Hemptastic, are hosting the “Hemp Ideation Challenge” from 5-18 September 2020. . .

Top End station hand Ricky Wilson spent 15 weeks in ultimate isolation on a remote cattle property – Jon Daly:

Ricky Wilson, 33, voluntarily spent almost four months on a remote cattle station without seeing another human and completely cut off from civilisation.

His bizarre and uniquely Territorian tale takes social isolation to the extreme, thanks to a can-do attitude and wanton disregard for personal safety.

“I don’t think many people could handle it,” Mr Wilson said.

“I’ve been metres from a crocodile, I’ve been metres from buffalo, I’ve been in a cyclone, and I’ve been metres from lightning hitting the ground.” . .


Rural round-up

July 3, 2020

Rock bottom crossbred wool prices pose dilemma for farmers – Maja Burry:

Crossbred wool prices have plummeted to new record low levels in the wake of Covid-19, with some farmers receiving less than a dollar a kilogram for their wool.

Coarse wool makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s total wool clip, but prices have been low for years.

South Canterbury sheep farmer and former Federated Farmers meat and wool chair, Miles Anderson, said the problems facing the sector had been exacerbated further by the coronavirus.

Miles Anderson said at the moment returns to farmers didn’t even come close to covering the costs of shearing and in some cases, it wasn’t even worth sending the wool off farm. . . 

Environmental devastation at Tolaga Bay may take a century to recover, says councillor – Bonnie Flaws:

Forestry waste has again flooded the beaches of Tolaga Bay.

A video of a log-covered Tolaga Bay beach had been shared widely on social media on Tuesday.

A storm hit the district on Queen’s Birthday weekend 2018, washing over 40,000 cubic metres of wood onto beaches.

“We had 300 millimetres [of rain] up there over the weekend and a total new amount of wood has come down,” local farmer Henry Gaddum said. . . 

Hunting & Fishing New Zealand calls for genuine government consultation over tahr kill:

New Zealand’s largest outdoor recreation retailer, Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, today called on the Government to get back around the table and genuinely work with the hunting community to develop a pragmatic and long-term solution for the management of the South Island’s tahr population.

Hunting & Fishing New Zealand Chief Executive Darren Jacobs says it is extremely disappointing that a lack of consultation has once again required legal action, with the Tahr Foundation seeking an injunction this week in the High Court to stop a widespread cull due to start on 1 July.

“This is the second time in less than two years that hunting groups have had to take court action to stop plans for an extreme tahr cull and force the Government back around the table to talk with hunting groups, and other interested parties, to develop a collaborative approach to managing the tahr population,” says Jacobs. . . 

Anger at DoC’s ‘sham consultation’ over tahr slaughter plans:

The Tahr Foundation is condemning the Department of Conservation for what it describes as DOC’s “sham consultation” over plans to kill thousands of Himalayan tahr.

DOC’s kill operation is due to start today but the final version of its plan was only released just before midnight, minutes before it came into force. The plan confirms that DOC aims to exterminate tahr from national parks and kill thousands more through the Southern Alps.

The Tahr Foundation says that is outrageous and confirms that the already suspect consultation process was a farce.

Foundation spokesperson Willie Duley says DOC’s tactics are cynical. . . 

LIC strengthens partnership to support future farming leaders:

LIC has strengthened its support for growing the next generation of primary sector leaders with the signing of a three-year agreement with Rural Leaders which runs the highly-respected Nuffield Farming Scholarship and Kellogg Rural Leadership programmes.

Farmer owned co-operative LIC is committed to further enabling rural business professionals and farmers to flourish at a time when career opportunities on and around farms are strong says LIC Chief Executive Wayne McNee.

“We’re proud to have strengthened our partnership with Rural Leaders having previously had an association for five years,” he explains. “We’re excited to further cement our support for the future leaders our sector needs to retain and grow if we are to maintain global status as a world-class provider of agritech, food and products. We need leaders with passion and depth to navigate the challenges and opportunities being faced. Like Rural Leaders, LIC is focused on empowering people to grow and we’re delighted to be working with Rural Leaders to support more talented Kiwis to embark on forthcoming Nuffield and Kellogg programmes.” . . 

Overwhelming support to continuing seed levy:

Growers have overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the Non-Proprietary and Uncertified Herbage Seeds Levy order for another six years.

“In fact, from 82 percent in favour at the last levy vote in 2014, support shown during the vote last November had risen to 91 percent,” Federated Farmers Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection Chairperson Hugh Wigley says.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and the rest of Cabinet have approved continuation of the levy, and it will be gazetted this week.

“Grasses and clovers are vital to our sector but contracts for growing from proprietary seed are not always available and are more expensive. This levy safeguards supply of non-proprietary and uncertified seeds and provides different options to our farmers,” Hugh says. . .

 Wine industry, researchers and educators mark milestone with MOU:

Three institutions offering wine and viticulture courses have signed an agreement that will see them collaborate on research and student learning with the Marlborough Research Centre and Marlborough-based Bragato Research Institute.

The Memorandum of Understanding brings together tutors and students from Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawkes Bay, Otago Polytechnic, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, whose Budge St campus also houses Bragato’s research winery, as well as the Marlborough Research Centre.

MRC Chief Executive Gerald Hope says the MOU is another milestone towards the development of the campus as the national centre for wine-making and viticulture, following on from the opening of the Bragato research winery in February. . .


Rural round-up

October 7, 2019

Regenerative agriculture – context is everything – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Jacqueline Rowarth discusses the pros and cons of regenerative agriculture and finds that, in this case, one size does not fit all.

Regenerative agriculture is being promoted as the saviour for New Zealand.

The suggestion that it can produce the food that is needed without creating environmental impacts is perfect.

Add an income, and it is the goal for most farmers, whatever the label of their production system. . .

Who’s the last rural knight standing? – Craig Wiggins:

With the loss of our two elder statesman, Sir Brian Lochore and Sir Colin Meads, who had a direct connection to the land and were seen as legends by rural and urban people have left a big hole as far as rural ambassadors, leaders, mentors and boys’ own heroes.

This leads me to ask who is left as rural sirs and dames.

The only one who springs to mind who has made the world take notice in his sporting and professional life is Sir David Fagan. 

He is recognised for his achievements in shearing and his support of many things rural. A true knight or sir. However, is Sir David to be our last knight standing?

Rural New Zealand is in desperate need of mentors and outstanding people recognised for their abilities and human spirit to be showcased in our schools and inspire our youth, someone to rub shoulders with in life be it in a pub or walking down a street, in media commenting and carrying the mana earned across all facets of NZ culture. . . 

Fonterra factory built to make ‘secret recipe’ mozzarella sitting all but idle – Maria Slade:

As disappointed farmers deal with Fonterra’s poor performance it emerges a new multi-million dollar cheese plant is hardly being used. Business editor Maria Slade reports.

Fonterra once called it “the single largest foodservice investment in New Zealand’s dairy industry”.

Now its $240 million mozzarella cheese plant at Clandeboye near Temuka is sitting close to idle thanks to lack of demand.

The Clandeboye dairy factory’s third line making Fonterra’s “secret recipe” mozzarella was opened to much fanfare a year ago, with the co-operative claiming it was able to produce enough of the cheese to top half a billion pizzas a year. . .

18-year-old Austin Singh Purewal wins 2019 Young Vegetable Grower of the Year:

The youngest finalist of this year’s Young Grower of the Year competition, Austin Singh Purewal, beat the field to win this year’s Young Vegetable Grower of the Year.

At only 18, Austin has managed to achieve a lot in his horticulture career already. After winning the Pukekohe regional competition, Austin was looking forward to taking part in the finals.

“It’s almost like another job, to be honest,” says Austin. “It takes up a lot of your time if you are really dedicated to it.

“If you put a lot of effort in, you get lots out of it. From meeting new people to opening up my mind to opportunities within the industry, that’s what I wanted to get out of the competition. I didn’t necessarily want to win. I wanted to come out of it with more opportunities.” . .

LIC ascending into cloud for technology – Pam Tipa:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is undergoing a digital transformation in the cloud, says chief executive Wayne McNee.

It is developing products and services for customers on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform.

The tailored cloud strategy will markedly shorten the time it takes to analyse the range of data from different sources across a farm. It will provide real time insights via its Minda application to help guide farmers’ decision making.  . .

 

Kenya set to rescind GMO ban -John Njiraini:

Genetically modified organism (GMO) crops and products soon will be allowed in Kenya, where a ban on the technology has been in place since 2012.

In a development that has ignited optimism among companies and organizations that front for the adoption of GM crops, Kenya has revealed intentions to lift the ban to allow the country to accrue the benefits of the technology. 

While Kenya has made significant progress on GMOs in terms of enacting watertight regulations and controlled research on crops such as Bt maize, Bt cotton, cassava, sorghum, and sweet potato, the ban has meant the country cannot progress to the commercialization stage. . . 


Rural round-up

November 25, 2018

Love of cattle leads to stud – Fritha Tagg :

Determined 14-year-old Waikato girl Tayla Hansen who is putting her stamp on the Speckle Park beef breed is quite possibly once of the youngest stud owners in the land.

Hansen, who lives with her mum Brenda, dad Andrew and siblings Cooper, 12, Alexis, 9, and Mitchell, 7, on a small lifestyle block at Orini near Huntly is the proud owner of Limited Edition Speckle Park stud.

As a young girl attending a country school she always had a calf for calf club but had to give them back to the farmer. She wanted a calf of her own that she could keep.  . . 

Science and complexity a great challenge – Barbara Gilham:

Creating the perfect cow for New Zealand herds is at the heart of LIC’s work. Barbara Gilham reports.

THERE are three things Wayne McNee looks for in a job – complexity, challenges and science.

As the chief executive of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) he is in charge of overseeing the nation’s herds and their reproductive performance so deals with all three daily.

Add to that about 700 staff throughout New Zealand, increasing to 2500 during the peak dairy breeding season and LIC’s offices in Britain, Ireland, Australia and the United States and agents in South America and South Africa and he has plenty to keep him occupied. . . 

Meet DairyNZ’s biosecurity team:

Diversity and reach come to mind when talking about DairyNZ’s biosecurity team, as each member comes from a different background and works with many others from DairyNZ and beyond. We put our biosecurity senior adviser Dave Hodges under the spotlight.

What does your team do and why?

There are four people in our team: Liz Shackleton started as biosecurity manager last month, based in Wellington, while Nita Harding and I are in Hamilton, and Katherine DeWitt is in Invercargill.

We work across science, policy and farmer engagement, focusing on insect pests, weeds and diseases and preventing new organisms getting into New Zealand. We talk directly with farmers and work with (and are supported by) DairyNZ staff across the business, plus others in the sector and elsewhere. . . 

Large scale mānuka investment a first for New Zealand:

Comvita has partnered with rural investment company MyFarm to offer New Zealanders the opportunity to own mānuka plantations for honey production.

MyFarm chief executive Andrew Watters said the collaboration was the first large scale mānuka investment of its kind in New Zealand and signalled a new era for North Island hill country profitability for specific locations.

“This partnership and investment opportunity ticks all the boxes. It will increase export returns from high value mānuka honey and generate excellent returns for investors. From an environmental perspective, we are storing carbon, reducing soil sediment loss and improving biodiversity. We don’t foresee a more green investment than this.” . . 

Achieving target weights in hoggets:

Veterinarians and farmers working together to improve stock performance must emphasise two aspects of hogget growth, say the authors of a guidebook published by Massey University Press.

These are, firstly, regular recording of bodyweight from weaning to first mating; and secondly, the monitoring of animal health and feed requirements.

Guessing the thrift and weight of ewe lambs and hoggets is not reliable; many a farmer who claims to have a ‘good eye’ for stock has been astonished when confronted with ‘hard data’ of weighed sheep. . . 

Red meat’s structure “a burning platform” – Shan Goodwin:

THE possibility the way the red meat industry is set up and run could be driving division between sectors of the supply chain is what has fuelled a review of the document that governs it, the Memorandum of Understanding.

In a rare and comprehensive insight into what is behind the forming of a high calibre taskforce to pick through the structure and operations of the industry, the man at the helm of industry umbrella body the Red Meat Advisory Council has spoken candidly about how resources and investment levels are perhaps being constrained.

Don Mackay says it is supply chains that produce food for customers, not farmers or processors operating in isolation. . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2017

Nominees announced for inaugural Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards:

National and world champions in traditional sports like shearing, wood chopping, fencing, tree climbing and gumboot throwing feature among the nominees for the inaugural Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards taking place next month in Palmerston North.

Organisers announced the full list of finalists in four separate categories today ahead of the awards dinner at Awapuni Racecourse on Friday 10th March, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games where several of the nominees will be competing. . . 

A spectacular event:

Puns aside, last week’s World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill were sheer brilliance.

It has been widely lauded as the best event in the championship’s 40-year history, with ILT Stadium Southland – dubbed the $40million shearing shed – a most spectacular venue.

Hats off to the organisers for making the big call to bring it south for the first time and to the Southland community for embracing it wholeheartedly.

Christchurch was originally to be the venue but, when it became evident that guaranteeing the required supply of sheep at the right time could be a problem, Invercargill was mooted. . . 

Emotional shearing win – Nicole Sharp:

”This one’s for Joanne Kumeroa,” an emotional Joel Henare said winning the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships woolhandling title in Invercargill on Saturday night.

Dedicating the win to his mentor and friend who passed away in 2015, the Dunedin-based woolhandler, originally from Gisborne, had a tear in his eye as he accepted the winning trophy.

The now two-time world woolhandling champion proved he is the best in the world, beating fellow New Zealand team mate Mary-Anne Baty, Cook Islands representative Tina Elers, of Mataura, and Sophie Huff, of Australia, by 50 points to fulfil his life long dream – again.

”This is a life long dream, to become the world champion.” . . 

Mongolian shearer’s challenge – Sally Rae:

When Enkhnasan Chuluunbaatar began learning how to shear a sheep, it was a two-fold challenge.

Not only did he have to come to grips with using a shearing machine but he was also learning to speak English at the same time.

Fast forward a few years and Mr Chuluunbaatar represented Mongolia at the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill last week, in a one-man team which was managed by his Kiwi wife Zoe Leetch.

It was the first time Mongolia had had a team in the championships and it was a proud moment for the pair, who were accompanied by their children Tushinbayar (4) and Temulen (2). . . 

Remarkable success story to go on – Sam McIvor:

There’s been a bit of talk lately about the decline of the sheep industry. In particular, that the sheep flock is half what it was in 1990.

But there’s a story hidden in the numbers and it’s not a bad one.

In fact, it’s a most remarkable story about the transformation of an industry from behind the farmgate and into the market.

The rise and rise of New Zealand sheep numbers was caused by a number of things dating back to the early 1930s.

Our dramatic expansion of farm exports started as post-war demand was strong from the home country, Britain, for meat and wool. . .

New report shows benefits of investing in stock water systems:

A new study released today on the use of reticulated stock water systems shows major environmental and economic gains for farmers, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“This is the first study that has ever been done to quantify the benefits of installing an on-farm stock water system on hill country, and it shows excellent results,” says Mr Guy.

The study involved investment analysis of 11 hill country sheep and beef farms across New Zealand who had invested in stock water systems on their properties. . . 

LIC Innovation Farm to host Farming2020 during Techweek17:

Drones, robotic technologies, and automated on-farm sensors – they’re all on display near Hamilton, as LIC’s Innovation Farm plays host to the agricultural showcase ‘Farming2020’.

Farming 2020 is among the signature events included as part of an inaugural three-day event, Techweek17, which takes place from Tuesday 9 May.

Wayne McNee, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) chief executive, said the company was delighted to host Farming2020 at its unique Innovation Farm in Rukuhia.

The LIC Innovation Farm included sensor technology that provided instant information on milk content being produced by its cows (commercially farmed on-site). The farm also included automated in-shed technology, including leading-edge Protrack™ herd management systems and in-line milk meters. . . 

Leadership change at Young Farmers:

A farmer is at the helm of Taranaki’s rapidly-growing Young Farmers clubs for the first time in four years.

Kaponga contract milker Matthew Herbert was elected district chairperson of Young Farmers at an AGM on Saturday.

“There’s a great vibe within our clubs currently, and I’m keen to build on that,” said Mr Herbert.

The 26-year- old was handed the reins by former insurance advisor Warwick Fleming, who held the post for a year.

Mr Fleming’s predecessor, Paul Duynhoven, is an accountant. .  

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Rural round-up

November 25, 2016

ASA ruling supports IrrigationNZ’s advocacy advertisement:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today ruled that IrrigationNZ did not publish misleading information regarding the Ruataniwha Dam project.

Over the week of 23 September 2016, IrrigationNZ placed full-page advertisements in a number of daily and community newspapers. The advertisements were a response to misinformation being widely circulated about the proposed Ruataniwha dam and followed media statements made by NGOs regarding the source of contamination to the Havelock North water supply.

The advertisement: ‘Dam Right! Why the Ruataniwha Dam is good for the Hawkes Bay community, the economy and the local environment’ generated three complaints to the ASA, all alleging it contained misleading and deceptive information. . . .

From avocado indexing to working with top red meat farmers  – Ali Spencer:

Following her interests has led a young horticulture student to a challenging and enjoyable role at one of New Zealand’s largest red meat co-operatives. She talks to Ali Spencer.

Shona Frengley, then Greenhalgh, was born in Invercargill, Southland to a sheep farming couple. Sadly, her father died when she was just four months old, leaving her late mother, Colleen, to raise her and her five older sisters single-handed on the Ringway Homestead in Otautau, with the help of a farm manager.

“She was an inspirational woman, like many farming women,” Shona reminisces.

The girls didn’t miss out on anything, she says. As the youngest, happy childhood memories of the 1970s include riding horses around the farm, checking all the creeks and pulling out ewes heavier than themselves when needed and sessions shifting sheep during floods by torchlight at night.  . . 

Letterbox flyer credited with saving ill husband:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Jo Cregoe remembers every tiny detail of the week her husband Phil contracted leptospirosis and is adamant without a flyer that arrived in the mailbox the previous week she would have lost him.

Phil and Jo Cregoe bought 704ha sheep and beef property Hafton Farm at Waiwhare on the Napier-Taihape road, in 1999 and went on to win the Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title in 2004. But that all changed in the spring of 2009.

A Massey University flyer warning farmers of the symptoms of leptospirosis had caught Jo’s attention in a pile of mail. Little did she know how important that tea break reading was going to be. . . 

Huge man-made lake reduces stress on farming operation – Kate Taylor:

Irrigation on rolling hill country has given flexibility to a farming operation near Omakere. Kate Taylor reports.

The capacity of a 110-year-old dam has been tripled to allow for more flexibility on Rangitapu Station, home to James Aitken and Caroline Robertson.

“We were thinking about reducing the stress of feeding stock under drought conditions and also evening out the highs and lows financially,” says Robertson. Five droughts in nine years had taken its toll.

“At that point we set out to extend the size of a pre-existing dam on the farm. It was about 300,000 cubic metres and it’s about a million now… winter harvest for summer use. It was a traumatic resource consent process that took a long time as we were one of the first to go through it although we were lucky we had an existing clay dam that required very little construction.” . . 

Farmers health and safety group launches:

Many of the big names in New Zealand agriculture have launched a new health and safety group at Parliament in an effort to make farming safer.

In the year to date, 43 people have died on the job – the same number for the whole of last year.

Of that 15 were in the agriculture sector, more than in any other industry.

The 24 founding members of the new Agricultural Leaders’ Health and Safety Action Group have committed to learn from each others’ experiences in health and safety and to improve the performance of their own businesses. . . 

Neither rain nor earthquake will stop the semen getting through:

If, as the saying goes “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” stops the mail getting through in the US, then in New Zealand an earthquake is no impediment to the delivery of bull semen.

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) made two helicopter flights into Kaikoura during the week after road access to the township was cut off by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake just after midnight on Monday.

Semen taken in on the two flights – on Tuesday and Friday – was picked up by technicians in Kaikoura, who delivered it by road to a total of about 25 farmers who had artificial breeding bookings, LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said. . .

Price of Lab-Grown Burger Falls from $325K to $11.36 – Natalie Shoemaker:

Lab-grown meat could be on your plate within the next five years. For the past few years, the barrier to getting test-tube meat into the hands of consumers has been the cost of production. In 2013, it was around $325,000 to make this stuff in a lab, but the process has been refined, and the cost now is just $11.36.

“And I am confident that when it is offered as an alternative to meat that increasing numbers of people will find it hard not to buy our product for ethical reasons,” Peter Verstrate, head of Mosa Meat, told the BBC. . . 

Top award for young East Cape farmer – David Macgregor:

A young Alexandria farmer who turned a rundown farm into a major dairy producer in less than 10 years, has scooped a prestigious agricultural award for his hard work and vision.

When Tshilidze “Chilli” Matshidzula,29, was appointed Little Barnet deputy farm manager nine years ago, it had fewer than 50 dairy cows and was another failing example of government attempts to transform the agricultural sector by giving land to rural communities.

Fast forward almost a decade and the farm now has 549 cows that produce 11000 litres of milk a day and has just made history by becoming the first black managed and owned commercial farm to win a top agricultural award in over 50 years.

“Winning the prestigious Mangold Trophy has given us something that money cannot buy. . . 

New Zealand’s organic food industry to benefit from new arrangement with China:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has welcomed the signing of an arrangement with China that will benefit the organic food industry for both countries.

The Mutual Recognition Arrangement for Certified Organic Products was signed in China by MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne and by Vice Minister Sun Dawei last week (14 November).

MPI Director Plants Food and Environment, Peter Thomson, says this arrangement supports the growth of the organics industry in New Zealand and provides greater assurance for consumers in New Zealand. . . 

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Rural round-up

June 12, 2015

Commission opens consultation on dairy competition review:

The Commerce Commission today released a consultation paper outlining its proposed approach, timeframes and scope for its review of the state of competition in the New Zealand dairy industry.

Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said the Commission was now seeking submissions on its proposed approach.

“Our review will look at whether the regulations are helping or hindering the efficient operation of the New Zealand dairy industry. To do this we intend to examine how competition has developed since Fonterra was established and what it might look like in the future,” Dr Gale said. . .

 Te Kuiti farmer appointed to Deer Industry New Zealand board:

William Oliver of Te Kuiti has been appointed to the Deer Industry NZ board for a three-year term.

One of three candidates for a vacant producer position on the eight-strong board, he was appointed yesterday following interviews by the Deer Farmers Association’s Selection and Appointments Panel.

Panel chair Paddy Boyd says a “robust” interview process highlighted the skills of the candidates.

“It is very reassuring in terms of governance and succession to have people of William’s calibre standing for the board, especially at a time when Deer Industry NZ has major initiatives underway to build deer farm profitability and to halt the decline in the national herd,” he said. . .

 Centrus 84 takes out International Innovation Award:

Waikato Milking Systems has taken out the International Innovation Award with its Centrus 84 Rotary Platform at Fieldays® 2015.

The Centrus 84 is the first fully-composite rotary platform and is 80% lighter than previous platforms and five times stronger.

“Sometimes you get a feel for something,” says Executive Manager Dave Cassells. “When I saw the concept drawings for this one, I knew we had something unique.

Federated Farmers Fielday Seminar: ‘Precision agriculture’ :

Agri Innovation expert, Mark Burgess, has told Federated Farmers seminar at the Mystery Creek Fieldays this morning that automation is king amongst the technology options for farmers.

He said that automation is the primary driver for farmers investing in new technologies on-farm whereas technologies that support improved farm management are lagging.

“Farmers are at risk of being overwhelmed with more data than they can make use of, however we are beginning to see integration through increasingly sophisticated farm management software, which is removing barriers enabling farmers to use more technology in support of their farm management decisions.” . . .

Cow sickness not from genetic modification:

Federated Farmers’ President and science spokesperson William Rolleston says recent stock sickness or deaths are likely to have been caused by a high sugar content in the fodder beet they have been eating.

“It’s got nothing to do with genetic modification as GE Free New Zealand has speculated.  Fodder beet has only recently been brought into widespread use in New Zealand and unfortunately some farmers are still coming to terms with how to best feed it to their stock.”

“We know there is a problem with stock feed transition and there is some cautious advice, such as that from Dairy New Zealand, on how to manage feed of fodder beet without complications.” . .

Fieldays a pathway into the primary industries – Chris Lewis:

Today marked the start of Fieldays, an event I have enjoyed going to since a kid, now I take my two children to experience it. I guess it’s a pathway into the primary industries where you start as a young one looking at all the agriculture equipment, eventually graduating to talking shop with sales reps and renewing relationships with your key suppliers.

My children remember the farm servicing people that came on farm to help us and then recognise them again at Fieldays when we talk business. This is how relationships start for generations and good companies recognise this with many businesses I deal with being family owned and generational. . .

New partnership to provide enhanced pasture management for farmers:

Farmer-owned co-operative LIC has entered into a partnership with Precision Farming Ltd, supplier of GIS-based systems that manage the application of farm nutrients to optimise pasture growth including fertiliser and effluent.

The two companies have signed an agreement whereby Precision will share its nutrient management functionality for integration with the co-op’s MINDA farm management system used by more than 90 per cent of NZ dairy farmers.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said it would provide enhanced information for farmers about their pasture and feed availability. . .

 

KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015 highlights the importance of improved rural broadband:

Today’s release at NZ National Field Days by TUANZ member, KPMG, of the Agribusiness Agenda 2015 highlights the importance of improving access in the rural sector to high speed broadband. The Agenda notes that since the last release in 2014 there has been an increased priority attached to delivering high speed rural broadband. This year it has risen four places in a list of strategic issues of concern to be the second equal along with food safety. The first issue of concern being ensuring a world-class biosecurity system.

Ian Proudfoot, KPMG Global Head of Agribusiness, said that “Fast connectivity in rural areas not only supports economic growth. It enhances healthcare delivery, overcomes isolation, and enables the unemployed to develop skills and become productive.” . .

 


Rural round-up

March 11, 2015

Federated Farmers receives threat to contaminate dairy infant formula product:

Federated Farmers has confirmed it has received a threat to sabotage New Zealand infant formula with the pesticide 1080.

The anonymous letter was received at Federated Farmers Wellington offices in late November.  It was addressed to the Chief Executive Graham Smith.

The letter was accompanied by an enclosed plastic bag containing a powder.

Federated Farmers gave the letter and bag to the Police. . .

Fonterra Acknowledges Threat Investigation:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited acknowledges the announcement by the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Government about an investigation into a criminal threat relating to the Government’s use of Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) poison as pest control to protect the country’s native flora and fauna.

The Government said today that there was no health risk to consumers. It has assessed the likelihood of the threat being carried out as ‘extremely low’. For further information please go to: http://www.foodprotection.govt.nz

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the criminal threat targeted New Zealand and the entire dairy industry. . .

Westland says its products are safe:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative, says there is no evidence that the safety of its products has been compromised by a threat to contaminate infant and other dairy formula with sodium monoflouroacetate (1080).

CEO Rod Quin says, “We are very confident that our products are secure while within our manufacturing and distribution systems,” he says. . .

 

Synlait Milk confident in its food safety systems:

Synlait Milk is confident that its food safety systems and security standards protect the integrity of its products.

They have been specifically designed to protect against threats such as that announced today by the New Zealand Police and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Managing Director Dr. John Penno.

“Food safety and product quality is our highest priority. Our standards and systems reflect this,” said Dr. Penno. . .

NZ infant formula among safest in world:

Mothers in New Zealand and around the world can be assured that infant formula sourced in New Zealand is among the safest available anywhere, says the Infant Nutrition Council.

Chief Executive Jan Carey deplored the anonymous threats made to Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

She says infant formula manufacturers and exporters in New Zealand have full confidence in the safety of their products and in the security of their manufacturing processes.

“These products made in New Zealand are safe and always have been safe.

“We are absolutely confident about the safety of infant formula manufacturing in New Zealand and the products sold in supermarkets. . .

Nominations Open for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards 2015:

Nominations are now open for this annual event that champions the country’s top performing sheep farmers, breeders, and industry innovators.

The fourth Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards will take place in Invercargill on Wednesday 1 July 2015.

“It’s fitting that the New Zealand sheep industry recognises and rewards its top performers, and in doing so profiles the significant contribution it makes to the New Zealand economy,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive, Dr Scott Champion.

“Productivity levels have improved dramatically over the past 20. Lambing percentages are 20 per cent higher than they were in 1995, and lamb carcase weights are up 28 per cent. . .

 Future of Farming – NZ Landcare Trust:

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and current Chair of WWF-NZ Dr Morgan Williams was the guest speaker at a recent Community Catchment Management Workshop organised by NZ Landcare Trust in Murchison. The programme also included presentations from community farming representatives, who highlighted the benefits and successes of community involvement within projects in this region.

Dr Williams began by voicing his support for the work rural communities are doing in sustainable catchment management projects, before outlining his perspectives on broader global and national issues shaping agriculture. . .

 

Career Changes Clean-up in Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The three major winners in the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards had all switched careers to dairy farming in recent years.

The 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Evan and Jan Billington had been in the New Zealand Police and teaching until seven years ago, while the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, James Foote, had been a professional rugby player, and the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Royce King, was a plumber and gas fitter. . .

 All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title:

The 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, has it all – he’s a young, fit, professional, married man with a plan. He’s also persistent and great to have in the community.

Mr Price, aged 29 years, took out the major title at last night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, with his win netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Claudelands Events Centre were Paul and Kate Manion, the 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, and Brett Steeghs, the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Housing cows not the only way to increase production –  Wayne McNee:

The recent visit by Professor Aalt Dijkhuizen, the president of Topsector Agri and Food in the Netherlands, raised some interested points about how New Zealand dairy farmers can learn from their Dutch counterparts.

But there was a flaw in his argument – profitability and efficiency did not seem to feature highly.

The two go hand in hand here. Profit is the ultimate goal for New Zealand dairy farmers, regardless of the system or technology utilised.

The best way to make a profit is by breeding animals that will efficiently, and repeatedly, convert feed into quality, high-value milk. . .

 Fledgling agri-food course whetting student appetites:

A new multi-disciplinary degree course taking food production beyond the farm gate and onto the world stage is experiencing 150 per cent growth in new enrolment numbers in only the second year it has been offered at Lincoln University.

Developed to meet the needs of an industry decrying a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.

It is one of the success stories at Lincoln University’s Te Waihora campus which has seen good growth in new student enrolments in 2015, both for New Zealand and international students. . .

Moving stock? Think about your Theileria risks:

Industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to assess the risks to their herds from the tick-borne disease Theileria if they are moving stock this autumn and winter.
.
DairyNZ veterinarian and technical policy advisor, Nita Harding, says stock out at grazing such as heifers that will be coming onto the farm could pose a risk, or be at risk of Theileria, depending on the situation on farm.

Nita says farmers can help the industry and veterinarians manage and prevent the spread of the disease if they are moving cattle between Theileria zones this season. . .

Giesen stamps mark in China:

Giesen Wines is earning a growing following in China, where it has been exporting for the past five years.

Its wines recently won acclaim at China’s largest and most prestigious wine competition, CWSA (China Wines & Spirits Awards), which brings together winemakers from all over the world to compete in a blind tasting. Giesen’s haul included a trophy, two double golds, five golds, and it was named the CWSA Marlborough Winery of the Year.

General manager Kyle Skene said Giesen’s total wine portfolio is exported to China, including Giesen Estate, The Brothers (Reserve) and Single Vineyard series. Its wines are sold across 12 Chinese cities and seven provinces. . . .


Rural round-up

December 14, 2014

Sweet success for bee team:

A group of Whangarei high school students has won the top award in the Enterprising Primary Industries Career challenge on how to attract young people into working with bees.

The competition requires students to identify different careers within the primary industry sector and market them to their peers.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy presented the Year 10 students from Huanui College the award for their entry ‘Bee in the Scene’. . .

Designer genes on show:

Designer genes will be the focus of a field day in Central Otago today for fine wool growers on the hunt to find the perfect fit.

The event is organised by the New Zealand Merino Company.

Production science manager Mark Ferguson said as well as animal health and forage being discussed, 40 groups of sheep would be on show in Cromwell to highlight genetic differences. . .

Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders Council is “broadly supportive” of plans for the cooperative to start sourcing milk from South Island suppliers who are not also shareholders, with a couple of caveats.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, yesterday announced a new milk sourcing subsidiary, mymilk, which would try to get milk in the Canterbury, Otago, and Southland regions where competition for milk supply is most intense from new suppliers on contracts on up to five years without the obligation to purchase shares. The feedback, particularly from new farmers who have recently spent a large amount of money converting farms to dairy, is that they can’t currently afford to now buy shares in the cooperative but would do so at a later date. . .

 

Who owns the rain? – Gravedodger:

Well apparently in Oregon State of the US, not the land owner whose land it falls on.

Gary Harrington 64, owns 170 acres and has constructed three ponds that accumulate and store around three million liters of snow melt and rain runoff. One of the ponds has been stocked with large mouth bass and the whole resource is available for fire fighting.
My understanding is Harrington did not dam waterways in his water conservation scheme.
Poor old Gary is or has recently spent 30 days in the clink for continuing his storage of water falling on his acreage.
Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan
What  in Oregon State has done, is common across NZ farmland where stock water is a restraint on production. There are countless Dams across NZ pastoral lands and the most efficient and longer lasting are built to collect rainfall from very small catchments and not from damming waterways. . .

CRV Ambreed opens new bovine semen production and distribution facility:

Primary Industries Minister Hon. Nathan Guy officially opened CRV Ambreed’s new world-class domestic and export-approved bovine semen production and logistics centre today.

The CRV Bellevue Production and Logistics Centre, based on the outskirts of Hamilton, is a purpose-built facility which future-proofs the company with additional capacity to meet the market’s growing demand for its bovine semen products.

The Centre houses a semen collection facility, a semen processing laboratory, storage space for export and domestic products, a warehouse with farmer AI banks, and 38 hectares of grazing paddocks. . .

 

Leading farm automation businesses to merge:

LIC is merging its farm automation and milking sensor businesses to deliver more integrated technology and meet demand from farmers.

The co-op’s Protrack business will transfer into subsidiary Dairy Automation Limited (DAL) in 2015.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said the move follows the co-op’s acquisition of DAL in February, and a lot of discussion between both businesses on how they would work together as one.

“Since the acquisition of DAL we have witnessed a number of key market developments that we will be better placed to leverage as one entity. . . .


Rural round-up

May 8, 2014

Despite Strong Currency, New Zealand Winemakers Are Thriving  – Neena Rai:

New Zealand’s wine exports hit a record high in the year through end-March, led by rising demand for new-world wines from British, American and Canadian consumers.

New Zealand wine exports reached more than NZ$1.3 billion in value in those 12 months—up around 9% on the year-earlier period, according to data from Statistics New Zealand.

The gain was fueled by a bumper harvest in 2013, which has made it possible for New Zealand’s vintners to ramp up wine sales overseas.

“The very robust export performance reflects the continued demand in key markets and increased availability of the wine from the 2013 vintage,” said Phillip Gregan, chief executive officer of industry body New Zealand Winegrowers. “We expect further strong growth in the year ahead when the 2014 vintage wines are released” he added. . .

Dairy firm wants restrictions removed:

Dairy livestock genetics company LIC is asking the Government to consider removing regulations that were imposed on it when it had a monopoly on national dairy herd testing.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has started consultation as the dairy industry prepares for the transfer of its core br 3_news.4_web_news.air

eeding database from the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) to DairyNZ.

MPI said it needs to decide whether it’s appropriate to continue regulating LIC once that’s happened.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said its farmer owners agree it’s time to do away with the restrictions. . .

Part A of WPC Ministerial Inquiry initiated:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today that the final part (Part A) of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident will begin on 12 May.

“Part A will examine how the potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate entered the New Zealand international markets and how this was subsequently addressed,” Mr Guy says.

“Part A could not begin until the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance investigation was complete, sentencing had occurred, and the appeal period had expired.

“Inquiry Chair Miriam Dean QC has been conducting preliminary work with the Department of Internal Affairs on a suitable date to begin the inquiry to ensure availability of other inquiry members and that a secretariat is available,” Ms Kaye says. . . .

Black beetle numbers on the rise:

AgResearch scientists warn that one more mild winter could result in a population explosion of black beetle.
 
“Recent AgResearch trial work shows that black beetle populations are on the increase and development is more advanced in autumn 2014 than in the previous five years,” says AgResearch Science Team Leader Biocontrol and Biosecurity Dr Alison Popay.
​“This means that the adult black beetles will have plenty of time to feed and build up fat reserves to help them through the winter.  If warm conditions continue through autumn and spring conditions are right, some farmers could be facing another serious black beetle outbreak next summer.” . . .

 

Food and beverage sector driving growth:

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry is well positioned for substantial growth, with exports on track to double in value in the next 15 years to US$40 billion, according to reports released today.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today released the 2014 edition of the Investors’ Guide to the New Zealand Food and Beverage Industry. The Investors Guide showcases the key factors driving New Zealand’s food exporting success: high-quality ingredients, disease-free status, comprehensive network of free trade agreements, world-leading business environment, and strong food science capability.

“The Investors Guide shows significant investment and acquisition activity which indicates a dynamic and growing industry, and we are seeing the results in export performance,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Timber products exported without chemicals:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the expansion of a trial which has successfully exported timber products to Australia without chemical treatment.

“Forest product exporters are normally required to fumigate with methyl bromide or other chemical treatment during the summer flight season of the burnt pine longhorn beetle,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The non-chemical solution requires that inspected timber is either kept within an insect-proof environment until it is put in a container and sealed, or put in a container during daylight hours of the same day to avoid the nocturnal beetle. . . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2014

Happy Earth Day! If you see a farmer, say thanks for being an environmental steward not just today, but every day!

LIC sets course to $1b horizon:

FARMER CO-OP Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is revamping its executive team and aiming to raise revenue 500% by 2025.

Directors and farmer shareholders have given chief executive Wayne McNee the go-ahead to trim executive numbers from 11 to 8. The post of chief operating officer is abolished and four new management positions are advertised. Several current executives may settle for non-executive roles or quit.

Staff learned this month of a strategy to earn $1 billion in revenues by 2025; the animal breeding and farm technology service provider earned $200m last year. . . .

Focus shift for Landcorp:

STATE-OWNED FARMER Landcorp is seeking to make subtle but significant changes to its strategic direction.

Outlining the changes to Rural News, chief executive Steven Carden said the SOE wants people to realise there is a direct correlation between a strong Landcorp and a strong New Zealand farming sector.

Directors and staff know about the proposed changes, due for further discussion during another strategy session at a board meeting in a few weeks.

Historically the organisation has been relatively inward looking, he says. Now he’d like to see Landcorp working more collaboratively with other partners and looking well beyond the farmgate and engaging with others. . . .

Why scientific method sorts weak from chaff – Doug Edmeades:

According to my dictionary an anecdote is “a short narrative of an incident of private life”. Anecdotes are frequently used to sell dubious products to unsuspecting farmers. Their use is rife among fertiliser products.

You will all have heard them. “The chap at the end of the road put on some of that stuff – my word his lambs looked good this year”. Or, “This guy sold me some humate, I chucked it on a bad paddock down the back – now there are earthworms everywhere”. And one that has always intrigued me comes from the south, “Joe put some of that seaweed liquid fertiliser on and now hundreds of seagulls follow his plough”.

The seductiveness of anecdotes is that they are derived from observation and only a fool would dare tell a farmer that his observations are BS .. .

Farm Manager Finalists Milking 5000 Cows:

The eleven 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists are together managing 5200 cows producing more than two million kilograms of milksolids.

“These finalists represent a group of dairy farm employees that work extremely hard and put in long hours to harvest the country’s sought after fresh milk in the most cost effective, sustainable and efficient manner,” National Convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The finalists are also passionate about what they do and are keen to progress their dairy industry career.” . . .

Ten Farming Ambassadors Hailed In 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have finished another successful year, with Supreme winners from 10 regions recognised for their outstanding contribution to agricultural sustainability.

David Natzke, General Manager of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, says the 2014 competition drew a “wonderful group of entrants” and the high standard made it a real challenge for judges to pick out the final Supreme winners.

“Attendance at all the regional award ceremonies was well up on previous years. This reflects a great recognition of the awards and how well they are managed and promoted in the regions.”

Taranaki was welcomed into the competition for 2014 and the announcement of the first Taranaki Supreme winner was another highlight, says Mr Natzke. . .

 

Rural Contractors NZ hits the road during May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of road shows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says rural contractors need to get to grips with proposed changes to health and safety regulations following the recent introduction of the Health & Safety in Employment Reform Bill into Parliament.

“There are some really major changes planned which will most definitely affect rural contractors,” he explains.

“The penalties for getting it wrong, should someone suffer a bad accident at their workplace, are very severe.” . . .

Great turnout for last Regional Final:

Crowds gathered at the Mackenzie Showgrounds in Fairlie Monday 21 April for the final stop of the AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg competition series.

The Aorangi Regional Final saw Hinds Agris, Ella Yeatman, William Ward and Hayden Jefferson from Hinds School take home the top honour for the AgriKidsNZ competition and High Country Hillbillies, Holly Malcolm and Ella Sanderson from St Kevin’s School were first in the TeenAg event.

The competitions test skills, strength and stamina while introducing youth to the fun side of agriculture. Primary and high school students from all walks of life are welcome to join in. . .

Get Your Entries In For NZ’s First Gaia Awards:

Over recent months, the debate on water quality has reached boiling point with reports and commentary from prominent figures such as Dr Jan Wright Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Sir David Skegg President of the Royal Society of New Zealand and Dame Anne Salmond calling for a shift in farming practices.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of producers bucking a trend of declining water quality and profitability through a focus on soil health. The Association of Biological Farmers (ABF) are hosting NZ’s first Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) this August in recognition of these timely innovations. Entries for the Awards are closing soon! ABF wants to congratulate and celebrate not only the farmers and growers but also consultants and bio-fertiliser companies that, at a mushrooming pace, are changing the face of food production in New Zealand. . . .


Rural round-up

March 2, 2014

CPW shocked by ECan’s mistakes on nitrate loads – Tim Fulton:

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has admitted critical mistakes in calculating the nitrate loads for newly irrigated land in the Central Plains Water scheme.

Central Plains Water (CPW) has been stunned by a recommendation to halve its nitrate allowance under a land and water plan for the Selwyn-Waihora catchment.

The allocation was adjusted three times as CPW sought commitment from farmers to its scheme. Even though irrigators had been advised the calculations were subject to change, the nitrate allocation has bounced from 520 tonnes to 850t and back to 434t. . . .

The Heilala Vanilla story – Caitlin Sykes:

John Ross got a whole lot more than he was expecting for his 60th birthday.

 

A retired dairy farmer, Ross’ birthday wish was to sail to Tonga on a boat he’d built himself, have a family holiday and indulge his passion for spearfishing.

 

But he fell in love with the place. So much so that when a cyclone ravaged the Vava’u island group the year after he’d stayed there, Ross rallied a group of Rotary club friends to travel back to Tonga to help with the clean-up.

 

In thanks, a local family gifted him a plot of land, in exchange for him using it to provide employment for those living there.

 

The gift sent Ross on a journey of discovery, travelling around the globe to learn all he could about vanilla – a crop that only grows naturally 20 degrees either side of the equator and is perfectly suited to growing conditions in Tonga. . . .

Preparing a winner beats milking cows – Mike Dillon:

John Morell is one of a rapidly dying breed – rural owners who train their own racehorse from a farm.

 

Not only is that a rare group these days but farming owners who send their horses to professional trainers to be prepared are also becoming as rare as Len Brown supporters.

 

When Hall of Fame champion trainer Dave O’Sullivan was a year or so from putting his feet up he declared he had just one horse in his stable who was owned by a farmer.

 

“A few years ago half my team was owned by farmers,” he declared at the time. . .

Countdown to the NZ Product Wars – Bruce Wills:

What Shane Jones told Parliament regarding Countdown will probably not be news to thousands of current and former Australian dairy farmers.  You see they’re the ones who have footed the real cost of Australia’s A$1 a litre supermarket milk war.

Last May, the head of Coles warned its suppliers Australians were paying too much for groceries at the same time a A$1.5 billion full-year profit was announced.  Several months later Woolworths, its arch rival, revealed a A$2.3 billion net profit.  Combined, the two groups were making a net profit of A$7,229 every minute.  I do not begrudge successful businesses given many pension funds rely upon success like this.  What I do begrudge is if high profits come from breaking smaller businesses through predatory, anti-competitive practices.  Something I see in the Australian dairy industry.

If the 2011 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation into the supermarket milk war is anything to go by, it may leave some people on this side of the Tasman feeling deflated with our Commerce Commission about to look into things.  . .

 

McNee to ring changes at LIC – Andrea Fox:

Big job changes and expansion are planned at LIC as Wayne McNee, the new chief executive of the genetics and information heavyweight, starts flexing his muscle.

McNee, formerly chief executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is proposing structural change that could affect 56 jobs – many of them executive positions – and create 17 new roles.

His plan is expand LIC in the South Island, target international markets and focus the business on farmer needs for the future, instead of head office decisions. . .

$15 billion bonanza – Hugh Stringleman:

Record dairy prices and milk payout forecasts have a strong tail wind, which should carry them through the rest of the season.

Competing countries have their own weather woes and are unable to increase supply in response to the favourable worldwide demand.

Most New Zealand dairy farmers are seeing a double benefit – more production and the record prices– although some are contemplating a premature end to milking because of drought. . . .

Good turn-out at field days – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland Field Days filled all exhibitor spaces for the first time on its new home site as the regional economy recovers strongly.

Early last week Northland was reported by ANZ Bank to have the best economic activity numbers among 14 regions nationwide.

The activity index was up 2.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, following a similar-sized rise in the third quarter.

The six-monthly surge was the biggest since 2004. . . .

 

 

The Heilala Vanilla story


Rural round-up

November 5, 2013

Fireworks blamed for death of horse – Delwyn Dickey:

Calls for fireworks restrictions in rural areas follow the deaths of several horses.

The deaths are being blamed on fireworks and a row has erupted between neighbours.

Alice Hayward says her horse Lucas panicked, tried to jump a fence and was impaled on a broken railing after a Silverdale fireworks display in August. . . .

NZ commodity prices rise for fourth straight month, wool at 22-month high:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand commodity prices rose for a fourth straight month, and are now just 1.8 percent below the record set in April, as wool extended its rally to a 22-month high.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index rose 1.3 percent in October to 327.6 for an annual increase of 23 percent. In April the index reached 333.5.

Eleven of the 17 commodities tracked rose last month, five fell and one was unchanged. Wool rose 10 percent, adding to a September gain of 13 percent. Beef, aluminium, butter, pelts and wood pulp rose 3 percent, whole milk powder rose 2 percent and sheep meat and logs rose 1 percent. Seafood and casein rose about 0.25 percent.

Skim milk and kiwifruit fell 2 percent, apples were down 1 percent, cheese fell 0.5 percent and sawn timber fell 0.25 percent. Venison was unchanged for a second month. . . .

 New LIC boss eyes up export potential – Andrea Fox:

Exporting is on the mind of new Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) chief executive Wayne McNee.

It’s hardly surprising given his recent background, but could signal a major new chapter in the journey of the New Zealand genetics and dairy information systems heavyweight.

The former pharmacist then career public servant says he spent a lot of time thinking about how to grow New Zealand exports in his immediate past post as chief executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

He says the fact that LIC was an exporting company – albeit in a very small capacity – was one of the attractions of the job. . .

Information shared at merino field day – Sally Rae:

Barbara Annan admits she knew very little about farming when she found herself widowed with three young children and a station to run.

Until her husband John’s sudden death in 1990, her role on Lindis Peaks Station, a 3759ha property near Tarras, had been limited to driving an old Austin truck feeding out, helping with tailing, and driving the Land-Cruiser, with the children on board, raking hay.

While she had wonderful help from friends and neighbours, she felt ”extremely inadequate”.

”I was devastated and didn’t quite know what to do,” Mrs Annan recalled, during a field day organised by the Otago Merino Association at Lindis Peaks on Friday. . .

Gold medals reward stock skills – Sally Rae:

Young Glenavy sheep farmer Ross McCulloch has proved he has an eye for stock.

Mr McCulloch (24) won Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand gold medals in both the sheep and wool sections at the recent Hawkes Bay A&P Show in Hastings, securing him a trip to Australia next year.

He will compete in a stock-judging competition at the Royal Queensland Show (also known as the Ekka) in Brisbane, a 10-day event which attracts about half a million visitors, in August. . .

Facing Facial Eczema and Raising the Bar:

New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics company is raising the bar in an effort to reduce the impact of facial eczema heading south and becoming more prevalent throughout New Zealand.

Focus Genetics chief executive Gavin Foulsham says they are upping the game and testing more sheep than ever before to breed rams which are resistant to facial eczema.

“We have been testing for facial eczema resistance for over 20 years and we are now seeing the benefit of continued selection. But we need to keep improving our genetics and keep on top of facial eczema, which is becoming more prevalent in many areas throughout the North Island.

“Facial eczema resistance is a highly heritable trait so farmers can significantly manage the disease in their ewe flocks by selecting for facial eczema tolerant rams.” . . .

Sunny start to NZ summer delivering bumper crop of blueberries

Growers say weather has created the sweetest fruit in recent years

An early, sunny start to summer is promising to deliver one of New Zealand’s best and maybe biggest blueberry crops in several years.

Blueberries are one of Kiwis’ favourite summer fruits, with supermarket sales surging upwards by a massive 36.3% from May 2012 to May 2013. New Zealand blueberries are increasingly in demand overseas, too, with exports growing from 850,000 kgs in 2012 to over 1,000,000 kgs in 2013.

NIWA is forecasting above average temperatures through until the end of December, and industry experts predict this will help create even more demand for blueberries. . .

Landmark winery sale falls through so property goes back on the market:

The receivership sale of a pioneering winery and hospitality venue has fallen through after the potential purchaser failed to obtain the necessary Overseas Investment Office approval in time.

Ascension Wine Estate has now been placed back on the market for sale through Bayleys Real Estate in a tender process closing on November 28th 2013. Bayleys senior sales person Scott Kirk, who was involved in marketing the property initially, said those parties interested in buying the land, building, assets and business earlier this year would be contacted shortly to assess if they were still motivated to buy the Ascension land and business.

Mr Kirk said a full advertising campaign would also be re-initiated immediately to generate additional interest from any new potential buyers. . .

Green Meadows Beef Challenges Kiwis to Stuff the Turkey This Christmas with Launch of Festive Blitzen’s Beef Box:

Green Meadows Beef, producers of 100% grass-fed, free-range Angus beef from South Taranaki are calling on New Zealanders to ditch roast turkey and other traditional meals this Christmas in favour of something more exciting. To celebrate this, the family owned brand is launching a special 7kg festive beef box in the run up to Christmas. The $139 Blitzen’s Box will contain a range of aged Green Meadows Beef cuts so New Zealanders can be ready for their Christmas roasts and barbecues over the holiday season.

“Most people associate Christmas with roast turkey or a glazed ham but beef is definitely becoming more popular,” says Green Meadows Beef director, Nick Carey. “In the UK, festive surveys have shown that turkey is actually falling out of favour and roast beef has now climbed to the second most popular Christmas dinner. It’s great to see people considering more options and we’re hoping Kiwis will follow suit.” . . .


Rural round-up

April 30, 2013

New Lincoln Hub plans unveiled:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today unveiled concept plans for a world-class agricultural research and education facility to be sited at Lincoln, near Christchurch.

The Lincoln Hub concept plans and business proposal have been developed by a partnership of Lincoln University, DairyNZ and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research.

“The Lincoln Hub has the potential to transform New Zealand’s farming productivity by providing a one-stop shop allowing information and ideas to be shared more easily,” Mr Joyce says. “Internationally, science and innovation parks that collect together public and private organisations in one place drive a lot of education, science and innovation. The Lincoln Hub can achieve this for New Zealand farming.” . .

AgResearch capitalises its strengths to boost science:

A mammoth $100 million investment in AgResearch’s core science resource will help boost its potential to support exports from the primary industries in reaching $60 billion by 2025, on current policy settings.

“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure is getting a bit creaky,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“It was a genuine pleasure to be at the unveiling of an impressive roadmap that will also see the “hubbing” of primary research capabilities at and with Lincoln University. . .

Meat Industry excellence Group campaign warms up – Allan Barber:

The MIE organised farmer meeting in Feilding on Friday was attended by about 700 farmers which one speaker from the floor compared unfavourably with 2000 at the Drought Shout. However there is obviously an increasing level of support for substantial change to the meat industry’s operating method which results in volatile market returns.

Alliance and Silver Fern Farms were both represented and the respective chairmen, Owen Poole and EoinGarden, spoke in support of the group’s aims. Poole told the meeting the industry was working constructively to develop an improved model which was simpler than MIE’s plan and it was important to ensure the two plans were complementary. . .

MPI’s loss is LIC’s gain but Primary still comes out on top:

The resignation of Wayne McNee, Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General, to take up the position of Chief Executive at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), will still see this talented person working in and for New Zealand’s primary industries.

“This role shows the versatility of Wayne who has performed to a very high standard with the public service and now departs for a high profile leadership role in a company important to New Zealand agriculture,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“Wayne has put the Ministry on the right path for farmers following the merger of the old MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries. I feel disappointed in one regard because he leaves it, just when we are starting to see the fruits of his work appear in this new and dynamic Ministry. . .

Budget 2012; support for frontline conservation work:

An additional $20 million over four years has been allocated to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2013 to provide for additional frontline roles and the upgrade of recreational facilities, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The four year funding package complements the Government’s recently announced tourism investment. It recognises that DOC is the Government’s primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry,” Dr Smith says. . .

Innovative Dairy Companies Form Partnership to Boost Exports:

Two of New Zealand’s most innovative dairy companies are forming a partnership to boost exports to one of the world’s fastest growing consumer markets.

Synlait Milk will next month despatch the first consignment of a2® Platinum™ infant formula destined for mothers and infants in China. a2 milk™ contains only the A2 version of the beta casein protein which is more comparable to protein that mothers naturally produce than other versions of the beta casein protein found in standard milk.

Synlait Milk will be processing a2 milk™ from 10 suppliers from August this year and will further expand production to meet the requirements of A2 Corporation when a2® Platinum™ infant formula becomes available to mothers in New Zealand and Australia later this year. . .

Brancott Estate Celebrates the End of a “Sensational” Vintage:

Vineyard beats the weather to harvest pristine, flavoursome fruit

Early predictions of an outstanding vintage have proven true for Brancott Estate, the pioneers of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, who have successfully completed harvest ahead of autumn rain, and with fruit that bears all the characteristics of the region.

“The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough” says Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker for Brancott Estate. “While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of Growing Degree Days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.” . .


MPI founding DG moves to LIC

April 29, 2013

The man who oversaw the creation of the Ministry of Primary Industries and became its first Director General, Wayne McNee,  has resigned to take up the role of chief executive of Livestock Improvement.

. . . After becoming the General Manager of PHARMAC in 1998, then Chief Executive of PHARMAC in 2001, Mr McNee became Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) in 2008. He was appointed as Chief Executive of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) in 2010 and then as Chief Executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2011, following the merger of MAF and MFish. . . 

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said:

“I’ve enjoyed working with Wayne over the last two years. He has overseen the merger of MAF with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Ministry of Fisheries to create the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in 2012,” says Mr Guy.

“The merger has resulted in savings of over $20 million a year and created a new strategy of ‘grow and protect’. MPI now has the ambitious target of doubling exports from the primary sector from $30 billion to $60 billion by 2025.

“Wayne has created great relationships with key stakeholders, both here and internationally. He knows that businesses are the engine room of economic growth.

“I’m sorry to see Wayne go but his new role as Chief Executive of the Livestock Improvement Corporation will utilise his skills, experience and knowledge. . .

MPI’s loss is LIC’s gain.


Rural round-up

March 19, 2013

Patchy rains helped some areas, others left dry, Landcorp’s Kelly says – Kristen Paterson:

Patchy rains have provided relief for some farming areas and left others without substantive moisture, says Chris Kelly, chief executive of state-owned Landcorp, New Zealand’s biggest farmer.

The west of the North Island saw higher rainfall, with 15-40mm from Northland to Waitomo down through to Taranaki. The West Coast, which applied for drought status last week, received 20-40mm with more expected to come. The East Coast fared the worst, experiencing no substantial rains, MetService says. . .

Govt awards more than $4m to environmental projects:

A project that will use recycled potato starch to produce more than 17 million compostable packaging trays annually is among the successful recipients of more than $4 million in government funding.

Environment Minister Amy Adams today announced funding of more than $4 million to 11 innovative waste minimisation projects around New Zealand.

Earthpac receives $2.1 million for a project to manufacture compostable meat and vegetable trays. The trays are produced by capturing starch generated from washing potatoes. . .

DCANZ Cautiously Welcomes Japan To TPP:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) today cautiously welcomed Japan to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey said it is a significant achievement to have Japan enter into the TPP. However, at the same time he hopes that Japan’s entry won’t delay the conclusion of negotiations beyond the October 2013 timeline and that they will support the basic premise of TPP.

“We encourage Japan to uphold the commitment made by TPP leaders in Honolulu back in 2011, which was the comprehensive elimination of market access barriers like tariffs on traded goods,” Mr Bailey said. . .

NZ Pork Disappointed With Appeal Dismissal:

The New Zealand pork industry is very disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of its appeal regarding the Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) proposed new Import Health Standard (IHS), Chairman Ian Carter said today.

“We are disappointed as we have concerns about the level of risk the new IHS constitutes.”

MPI welcomes judgment on pork imports

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is pleased with today’s Court of Appeal judgment which found that MPI followed the correct decision-making process before allowing imports of raw pork from countries where the disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is present.

At issue in this case was MPI’s response to an Independent Review Panel report and the process that led to the Director-General’s decision to issue four new import health standards for raw pork.

NZ Pork had alleged MPI did not follow the correct decision-making process.

“Agriculture is vitally important to our economy. In order to protect our primary producers from biosecurity risks, it is essential that we do the right thing when developing import health standards and that we base them on the best available science,” MPI Director-General Wayne McNee says.

NZPork appealed against the introduction of a new IHS relaxing the border standards for importing pig meat from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). . .

Hard yards pay dividends in Methven:

Matthew Bell is the latest Grand Finalist to be named for the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Matthew will be joining six other contestants at the Grand Final in Auckland 16-18 May.

“It’s still all sinking in…I’m over the moon!”, commented Matthew on his triumph on Saturday (16 March) in the Aorangi Regional Final at the Methven A&P Showgrounds and Heritage Centre.

Sam Bryan was runner up followed by Phil Campbell and Phil Wilson placing third and fourth respectively. . .


Milk DCD free

February 22, 2013

Ministry of Primary Industries tests have confirmed no traces of DCD in milk since November.

“MPI and the New Zealand dairy industry have conducted voluntary testing of New Zealand dairy products to build a comprehensive picture of the presence of DCD in New Zealand’s milk supply,” MPI Director General Wayne McNee said.

The tests have found no traces of DCD in milk collected from New Zealand farms after mid November 2012.

“We are releasing the core findings of the testing today to be as open as we can be with our markets and customers, despite the fact that the quantities of DCD found in our dairy products creates absolutely no food safety risk whatsoever,” Mr McNee said.

With the co-operation of the dairy industry, nearly 2000 samples of dairy products have been tested from all the major dairy companies.

Testing has specifically targeted dairy products using milk collected during the New Zealand spring last year from the less than five percent of dairy farmers who used DCD on pastures. Results have been coming in as recently as last week.

As expected, minute traces of DCD have been found in various dairy products already in the supply chain from a variety of companies. However, there remains no food safety risk – all traces have been significantly below the European Commission’s daily intake level for DCD.

“Importantly, tests on products made from milk collected from farms after mid-November show no traces of DCD at all,” Mr McNee said.

“These findings confirm our expectations. We have informed markets of them.”

There never was a food safety issue.

The problem was there was no international standard for DCD but the tiny traces found in some milk products late last year were well below the EU standard.

There was a perception problem but the prices have continued to increase in Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auctions since the announcement traces of DCD were found.

This shows that markets weren’t concerned, in spite of some opposition politicians attempts to manufacture a scandal.

It’s also a vote of confidence in New Zealand’s very high food safety standards and a reminder of why maintaining them is so important.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2013

NZ food is safe and our systems work:

Federated Farmers says New Zealand’s continual testing for impurities and open disclosure is why New Zealand primary exports are of the highest quality.

“We are aware some media reporting seems to have moved beyond facts and into uninformed opinion,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on food safety.

“Residues of DCD (Dicyandiamide) nitrification inhibitors were detected but the levels recorded were in the order of parts per million. These residues only came to light because New Zealand continually tests for and refines testing for impurities.

“I doubt many countries test to the level we do but once DCD was verified our consumers and trading partners were notified. We take this seriously, very seriously and any suggestion otherwise is scurrilous. . .

DCD scare will ‘enhance’ NZ’s reputation:

The head of Federated Farmers says Fonterra only had to report the presence of agricultural chemical dicyandiamide in its milk because of a “technicality”.

Both the Government and Fonterra have reassured the public and our trading partners that there is nothing to fear from dicyandiamide, also known as DCD, which is used to prevent nitrogen seeping into waterways.
Fonterra says the traces of the substance – found four months ago – were so small they were not worth mentioning. Federated Farmers CEO Conor English agrees, saying there has been a “massive overreaction”.

Red Meat PGP Collaboration Programme for Greater Farmer Profitability

The red meat industry has agreed to work together to promote and assist in the adoption of best practice by sheep and beef farmers, as part of a new $65 million dollar sector development project with Government co-funding.

Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has just approved a commitment of up to $32.4 million from MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership Fund (PGP) for the red meat sector’s new Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

This seven-year programme will bring together a number of participants in New Zealand’s red meat sector including co-operatively owned and privately owned processing companies that together account for a substantial majority of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports, two banks and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Government Support For PGP Programme

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen has welcomed the announcement by Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), of the Ministry’s commitment of up to $32.4 million from the Primary Growth Partnership Fund (PGP) for the red meat sector’s proposed $65 million, seven year, Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

“This will be a huge boost for the sector and will accelerate progress in an increasingly collaborative approach across a range of issues that are important for sheep and beef farmers,” Mr Petersen said.

The Collaboration programme involves industry participants AFFCO, Alliance Group Ltd, ANZCO Foods, ANZ Bank, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Blue Sky Meats, Deloitte, Progressive Meats, Rabobank and Silver Fern Farms, who following approval and contracting processes will match MPI’s investment and establish a joint venture entity to undertake the programme. The programme is open to new investors who can join once the programme starts. . .

Start networking with the farming world don’t become isolated – Pasture to Profit:

There is a new opportunity to network with the farming world. Farming can be a very isolated profession. Farms can be remote. The very nature of the profession means that you are often working alone. It’s that same feature which of course attracts people to farming. Farming gives you the ability to be your own boss and to make your own decisions. Running your own business can be both exhilarating & very stressful.

You don’t have to farm alone or in isolation! Today there are some very good online farming Discussion Groups. Social media won’t ever replace face to face talking with other farmers. However on for example; Twitter forums like #AgchatNZ, #AgchatOZ, #Agchat, #AgrichatUK provide an opportunity for talking to likeminded farming professionals. . .

 

2013 – Tipping Point Year for the ‘Blackcurrant Renaissance’:

Over the last 500 years the blackcurrant has gone from being one of the most respected health foods of the medieval era to a staple household beverage, to being overshadowed by trendy new berries in recent times. But a Renaissance is underway and 2013 looks set to be a pivotal year for the blackcurrant industry, says global blackcurrant industry leader, Svend Jensen.

“For hundreds of years the blackcurrant has been a staple of the berry basket in European civilisation, as a health tonic and as a food. But over the last 30 years scientists have started to unveil the true health potential of the “king of berries”. New generation research started in Japan in the 1980’s and then the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Now exciting projects are also being undertaken by research teams in Scandinavia, France, Eastern Europe, and the USA,” says Jensen, President of the 5-year old industry group, the International Blackcurrant Association. . .

And from a new-found blog, The Farming Game, which aims to give an insight into the real world of farming in Australia, a bit of variety:

Wednesday night was the last night of this irrigation cycle with day shift wrapping up the final field Thursday afternoon, so it was an early start on Friday to go chipping. Volunteer cotton from last season was coming up in one of the refugee crops and needed to be removed, the only way to remove it is to chip it out so we had to walk up and down the rows and chip out the volunteer cotton and weeds with a hoe. Its not the best job to do but it needs to be done. . . .

And from the northern hemisphere – life of the farmer in January from the Peterson Farm Bros:


NZ milk is safe – MPI, Fonterra

January 28, 2013

Ministry of Primary Industry Director-General Wayne McNee says there’s  confusion about the suspension of a pasture treatment, DCD, in New Zealand and what this means for the safety of New Zealand milk products.

“Use of DCD was suspended by its manufacturers because very small traces of residue were unexpectedly detected in New Zealand milk. DCD residues have been only found in some milk powder products and not in other dairy products such as butter and cheese.

“The detection of these small DCD residues poses no food safety risk. DCD itself is not poisonous,” Mr McNee says.

“DCD is not used directly in or on food in New Zealand and never has been. It is a product used on pastures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the leaching of nitrogen into waterways.

“DCD manufacturers have voluntarily suspended DCD because New Zealand’s international dairy customers expect New Zealand products to be residue-free, where there is no internationally accepted standard for residues for particular compounds. An international standard has yet to be agreed for DCD.

Mr McNee says the European Commission has set an acceptable daily intake for DCD, and based on the highest DCD residue that was detected in New Zealand milk products, a 60 kg person would have to drink more than 130 litres of liquid milk or consume some 60 kg of milk powder to reach the Commission’s limit for an acceptable daily intake, and considerably more to have any health effects.

The Ministry says there is only a small amount of dairy product potentially involved in this issue. DCD has been used by less than five percent of the country’s dairy farmers who applied it only twice a year. Each application leaves only traces of residue on the grass for no more than a few days. This means only very small numbers of New Zealand cows could have come into contact with DCD in very limited time frames.

“The chance of any residues of DCD being present in milk products processed now is minimal,” Mr McNee assures.

“There has been no use of DCD on New Zealand pastures since September 2012, and now that its use has been suspended, it is not possible that any New Zealand dairy produce currently in production will have DCD residues in it.”

There has been absolutely no restriction on dairy sales in New Zealand because of this suspension of DCD use on pasture.

DCD is not melamine. It is a different chemical and has none of the toxicity that melamine has.

Fonterra is also reassuring consumers our milk is safe:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited Chief Executive Theo Spierings has today reassured global customers that New Zealand dairy products are safe to consume.

“We know some of our customers and regulators have questions.

“We need to answer them, and that’s exactly what we are doing.

“We have strong science and we are providing assurances about the safety of our products.

Let’s keep it in perspective. Our testing has found only minute traces of DCD in samples of some of our products.

“It is important to remember that the minute traces detected were around 100 times lower than acceptable levels under European food safety limits.

“The Ministry of Primary Industries has confirmed that the minute traces pose no risk to human health.

“DCD has never at any point been a food safety issue – and if it had been, we would have been the first to speak out. Fonterra has one of the highest standard food supply chains in the world, and safety is part of our DNA.

“Since November we have been closely involved in a working group with the Government, the fertiliser companies, scientists and other dairy industry representatives gathering information, scientific opinion, and undertaking tests.

“The bottom line? Our products are safe. Customers can rest assured,” said Mr Spierings.

Those are the facts.

DCD was only found in some milk powder products, not in butter or cheese. It poses no food safety risk and it’s not poisonous.

But when it comes to food safety perception and emotion will trump facts.

Overseas media is a carrying the story and that will be enough to make some consumers wary, regardless of the facts.

The risk isn’t a food safety one. It’s a perception and marketing one and will be higher in countries where people can’t trust their government and businesses to tell them the truth.


Someone else’s school reunion

November 11, 2012

Going to the reunion of someone else’s primary school wouldn’t normally make my list of enjoyable outings.

But when I’ve lived in the Enfield School’s catchment for nearly 30 years and know lots of the people who were going to it so was happy to accompany my farmer who is an ex-pupil to the reunion dinner.

The school opened in 1876 and closed a few years ago as a result of a declining roll.

This weekend’s reunion wasn’t to mark a particular anniversary, it was just to bring former pupils, staff and parents together and it was fun.

One of the ex-pupils, Wayne McNee, now heads the Ministry of Primary Industries.

He gave the toast to the school and did it well – lacing his speech with humour and keeping it short.

One of the messages he left us with was the way a teacher can influence a pupil’s life.


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