Rural round-up

July 10, 2017

Family’s vision for property vindicated – Sally Rae:

Excellence in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated in Southland this week with the annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards, as Sally Rae reports.

When Alan and Jean Hore bought Beaumont Station in 1972, they were told they would never fatten a lamb on the property.

Fast forward 45 years and the Hore family — Alan and Jean and son Richard and his wife, Abby — won  supplier of the year at Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill.

Richard Hore yesterday acknowledged his father’s vision, adding that what had been achieved on the 28,000ha Otago high-country property had been through family determination and development. . . 

Farmers few in number but big on generating money-making food – Joyce Wyllie:

 All fine folk who produce food to feed peoples of the world please put your hand up. Then bend it behind your head and over your shoulder, then with a backwards and forwards motion of the wrist give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

In a Fieldays speech farmers were encouraged to call themselves “food producers” and become “louder and prouder” at telling their good stories. The presenter was Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy. Rather than preaching to the converted at an agricultural gathering, he’s in a prime position to loudly spread that message of pride in food production – and tell this great story – along the corridors of power and city streets.

Championing all the committed people diligently producing food for both local and overseas consumers through all cycles of weather, challenges of changing expectations and undulating prices would be mighty encouraging. . . 

Big kiwifruit growth plans for Maori – Pam Tipa:

About 8% of total kiwifruit production comes from Maori orchards, and now there is an ambitious goal to get up to 20%, says Maori Kiwifruit Growers Forum chairman Tiaki Hunia.

That growth can come in a number of ways, he told Rural News. It can come from new developments on bare land or from mergers or acquisitions, and a large proportion of Maori land is leased to outside investors. . .

Weka farmer takes on DOC: ‘I’m prepared to go to jail’ – Charlie Mitchell:

Decades after he began farming and eating weka, renegade conservationist Roger Beattie is ready to become a martyr.

The Christchurch man has long dreamed of commercialising endangered species as a means of saving them.

He believes weka and kiwi should be farmed like sheep and cattle, cooked and served on dinner plates for a premium price. . . 

All well with Waitaki dairy farms – Sally Brooker:

Waitaki’s dairy farmers and their cows are wintering well.

North Otago Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Lyndon Strang told Central Rural Life that conditions before calving were ”pretty good”.

Heifers on many farms would begin to calve in mid to late July.

Although the mating period had been ”a bit of a problem for most people”, since then there had been good crop and grass growth, Mr Strang said.

”There’s plenty of feed for winter.

”What little rainfall we’ve had has been hanging round. The cows are still on top of the paddocks and wintering quite well.” . . 

City slicker Lisa Kendall a hot chance in rural-dominated Young Farmer of the Year finals

She may be a city girl known as the “Karaka kid”, but Lisa Kendall is holding her own against a bunch of country blokes in the finals of New Zealand’s Young Farmer of the Year.

With the final round of the competition about to get underway, Lisa says acceptance among her fellow farmers was a little more work for her than some of her rivals.

“I get teased a bit for being an Aucklander in the farming community,” Ms Kendall laughs. . .

Living and farming well in the Marlborough region:

Farming well and thinking healthy go together like sheep and shearing.

So, take a breather from the farm on Wednesday 19 July – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust have two free events on how healthy thinking can help you live well and farm well.

If you’re a farmer, grower or work in the farming community (including as a rural professional providing support services to farming), you can hear medical doctor and author Dr Tom Mullholland speak in Blenheim first thing over breakfast or over dinner in Ward. . . 

Ag media the pick of choice for Elise:

THE rich tradition of Australian rural journalism is being celebrated once more through the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation’s JB Fairfax award.

Applications have now opened for the 2018 JB Fairfax award for rural and regional journalism, the scholarship now entering its 10th year.

This year there is a new twist to the award, with the traditional request to write on a subject selected by the RASF replaced with an invitation to write an inspirational piece about a member of rural or regional Australia. . . 


Rural round-up

May 12, 2017

Canterbury director and shareholder is Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

A Canterbury woman who has dedicated her career as a rural professional to New Zealand’s dairy industry is 2017’s Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor, won the coveted title out of a group of three finalists which included CEO of Sirona Animal Health Claire Nicholson and agribusiness consultant Jolene Germann. The awards ceremony was held tonight in Queenstown as part of a gala dinner at the Dairy Women’s Network’s annual conference. . . 

Farmers set to benefit from new high-tech weather stations:

Fonterra farmers will come together to trial innovative technology that will allow them to take insights from the weather and bring greater precision to New Zealand dairy farms.

Fonterra is playing its part in fuelling the revolution of on-farm weather forecasting by working with MetService and BloomSky – a smart weather camera station that delivers hyperlocal weather information in real-time to any laptop, tablet or smartphone. . . .

Rebel with a cause – Eric Crampton:

I love Roger Beattie.

Weka are endangered, but they breed easily on his farm at Banks Peninsula. He’s just prohibited, by dumb rules, against breeding them for profit. Whether this is DoC bloodymindedness, Vogonity, or refusal to be shown up by somebody doing a better job of conservation that DoC is – that’s anybody’s guess.

And so, annoyed with silly DoC rules around farming weka, Roger’s making a point. He’s adding weka feathers to some hats and selling them. . .

UK supermarkets ban fresh NZ lamb – Alexa Cook:

A decision by UK supermarkets to ban fresh New Zealand lamb is bad news for the industry and could turn consumers away from the meat, says Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

Supermarket chain Co-op Food, which is the UK’s fifth largest retailer, is banning fresh New Zealand lamb in response to lobbying from the British Sheep Association. . .

Dairy herd up in North Island but down in South Island:

After a decrease in 2015, the dairy cattle number increased 2 percent in 2016 to reach 6.6 million, Stats NZ said today. However, this was not back to the 2014 level (6.7 million).

The North Island dairy herd increased by almost 250,000 cows last year, led by a rise in Waikato. In contrast, the number of dairy cattle in the South Island fell more than 100,000 in the year to 30 June 2016.
The results also show continuing declines for sheep and deer numbers, with beef cattle being relatively unchanged
. . .

Call to action to save threatened species:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has issued a “call to action” for the nation to get behind efforts to protect New Zealand’s threatened native plants and animals.

Minister Barry launched the Department of Conservation’s draft Threatened Species Strategy at the Threatened Species Summit in Wellington this morning.

“Our unique plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth and help to define who we are as New Zealanders, adding immeasurable value to our culture, our identity and our landscapes,” Minister Barry says. . .

Cutting nitrogen loss in winter – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter’s a much riskier season for nitrogen leaching from urine patches on pasture to waterways.

Milking cows will excrete, in urine, about 70 per cent of the nitrogen they consume. The chance of nitrogen leaching from urine patches is much higher in winter due to weather conditions.

Also, farmers should be particularly cautious when applying nitrogen fertilisers to pasture or crops during winter due to the extra risks winter weather poses for nutrient loss. . .


Rural round-up

September 19, 2014

Farmers have spent millions in the Horizons region:

A Federated Farmers survey has revealed the average dairy farmer in the Horizons Region has spent over $110,000 on environmental management in the past five years.

“There are huge numbers being invested in the region, which tells a really positive story about where we are heading environmentally and the buy in that is coming from the farmers,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“As people vote tomorrow I genuinely hope they will realise that farmers are doing a lot to farm more sustainably.

“It is very difficult to put a number on environmental spending, but we wanted to try, so we sent a survey out to all 918 dairy farms via the Horizons Regional Council. We were stunned by the response, not just the figures but how many people replied during their busiest time of year, calving season. . .

 

Working group focused on clear advice:

The industry-led working group looking at the issues with swedes affecting dairy cattle in Southland says a key priority will be developing clear and agreed advice for farmers.

The group met for the first time this week, with DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader, Richard Kyte, chairing the meeting. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It also has specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.

“Evidence and science-based information is crucial and will be the focus of this group. Gathering this information is a work in progress and will involve all parties,” says Richard. . .

Dairying business woman takes top role:

Delwyn Knight has taken the role of general manager of Liberty Genetics where she is leading a team that’s making headway in the competitive dairy genetics market.

Although modest about landing the top job, Knight admits that she is one of very few women working in top dairy genetics roles, and she is excited about taking on the position.

“It’s great to be in a position where I can provide value and support to farmers when they are making important farming business decisions,” said Knight.

“I’m really looking forward to working directly with our farming clients, understanding what their needs are and supporting them to get the best results for their herds.” . . .

Robotic sheepdogs unlikely Kiwi farmers say:

At the risk of being out of step with technology, Federated Farmers is dubious robotic sheepdogs will replace the real thing anytime soon.  Reported late last month, European academics believe they have created an algorithm simulating sheepdog behaviour.

“I am not saying it won’t come to pass but it’ll be more like one farmer robot and its droid than dog trials being replaced by droid trials,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“Anyone who works with dogs and sheep knows there’s more to this than an algorithm.

“For starters, there is a primordial instinctive connection between the two animals.  How you simulate that I have no idea. . .

Landcorp completes  full purchase of Focus Genetics:

Landcorp Farming Ltd. is now sole owner of livestock genetics business, Focus Genetics. The announcement comes after Landcorp successfully acquired the remaining 33% shareholding from
Rissington Breedline.

Hawkes Bay based Focus Genetics is New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics business with 17 breeding partners throughout New Zealand.  Formed in 2011, Focus Genetics has since grown its
market share, serving more than 750 commercial farm operations. 

Last year the company sold over 4,000 rams, 800 bulls and 400 stags to farmers in New Zealand and overseas.
Gavin Foulsham, Focus Genetics CEO, said having one owner provided certainty for the company’s plans to invest more towards achieving greater rates of genetic improvement. 

It also means Focus could explore more sales opportunities offshore. . .

I want to eat a weka – Offsetting Behaviour:

It’s been more than five years since I first posted on Roger Beattie’s felicitous “Eat them to save them” campaign. And I still am not allowed to buy a weka for dinner.

Roger is one of New Zealand’s great enviropreneurs: the National Farming Review called him an Eco Anarchist. He loves the environment and sees the best way of saving it as ensuring that it’s profitable to save it. Weka are endangered, but they’re easily farmed and tasty. Why aren’t we raising them for the restaurant trade and conserving an endangered species in the process? The Department of Conservation says no. They say no incredibly incoherently. But their “No” is what matters. . .

Two gold medals for Goldie Wines:

Goldie Wines on Waiheke Island has won its first gold medals for new owners, University of Auckland and winemaker, Heinrich Storm.

Two Goldie Syrah wines from the 2013 vintage took two of the eight gold medals awarded in the Syrah category at the recent NZ International Wine Show.

The Goldie Syrah 2013 and Goldie Reserve Syrah 2013 were awarded gold in what Heinrich says is a significant achievement for the new operation.

“These medals are the first won since the University took over ownership of the vineyard in 2011 from Goldwater Wines,” he says. “Also for me it is significant, because they are my first as winemaker for Goldie Wines.” .  . .


Take market approach to green issues

March 16, 2011

Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers national president, said in his address to the Act conference:

. . . Some believe we ought to be the Rolls-Royce of agriculture. But having been on farms around the world, these artisan like Rolls-Royce’s already exist.

We should instead be the Toyota of agriculture. Trusted food and fibre with an integrity built from excellent animal health delivering safe, reliable and wholesome products. . .

. . . Let’s find out what truly motivates our consumers instead of overlaying the desires of local policy analysts upon them . .

This is why I believe there is scope for a political movement to tackle green issues from a disciplined market approach.

Do you know that led by farmers, 111,000 hectares have been voluntarily protected under QEII National Trust covenants since 1977. If that was a country, it’d be the 184th largest on earth. Who started it? Among others, Federated Farmers.

Being a Scot by descent I can’t abide waste. I know market principles and farming can vastly improve environmental and biodiversity outcomes.

Look at Roger Beattie, Mr Weka Weka Woo.

His weka programme massively out performs DoC’s because he uses farming principles. No farmed species I should add has ever become extinct.

You’d think he would get a trial license to sell weka to high end restaurants or at this weekend’s Hokitika Wildfoods Festival. No siree. Weka could be our turkey but is DoC interested in increasing its numbers by way of commercial farming? No siree.

How about trout? Sanfords has said to us that if the ban on commercial trout farming was lifted Monday, they’d start farming trout on Tuesday.

At US$5.00 a kilogram exported, it could be a US$50 million export within five or so seasons but are we farming trout? No siree, because the funding for a certain lobby group comes from a license ticket. Is its Chief Executive interested in exports? No siree.

This is despite faring would lead to much larger and exciting wild trout under catch and release. Farming salmon hasn’t stopped people from buying licenses to catch a wild one.

While trout is largely farmed in sea cages, it being a member of the salmon family, it can be farmed in artificial ponds that in turns demands water with nutrients. It’s about integrated farm management because our food export potential is vast. . .

Green initiatives and economic progress aren’t mutually exclusive. In general wealthier countries have better environmental standards.

Providing it’s done carefully, lifting the prohibition on farming some native species and introduced ones like trout could create jobs and contribute to economic growth without harming the environment.


Why not farm weka?

February 4, 2010

When Central Otago farmer Gerry Eckhoff was an Act MP he suggested changing the law to allow kiwi farming.

He pointed out that farmed animals don’t number among the endangered species;  and it would be better for the future survival rate of the birds and relieve the taxpayer of a cost if farmers looked after kiwi than leaving their fate to DOC and nature.

The idea of farming another native species, the weka, has now been raised by Roger Beattie.

Federated Farmers is supportive. Game spokesman Donald Aubrey said:

It’s ironic that the Chatham Islands take a far more enlightened view to the consumption of weka and to the farming of trout.  Crazily, despite having one of the world’s most easily farmed and popular fish to consume, mainland New Zealand treats an introduced species as being more of a native than our native eels.

“It’s time to unleash our entrepreneurs, represented by Mr Beattie. Domesticating some native species – aquatic or terrestrial – actually removes pressure off the wild populations.

“I see Roger Beattie as being in the same mould as the likes of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta’s Richard Taylor.  Those two were told a big budget Hollywood film would never be filmed in New Zealand but have proved the naysayers wrong.

“Roger Beattie is told can’t but he replies can and without any subsidies too.  Let’s face it, if the weka was instead a turkey, it would make us look like one for not trying,” Mr Aubrey concluded. 

I agree.

We need to stop being precious about native species, it will be better for the birds and the economy.

Trout aren’t native to New Zealand and the arguments against farming them hold as little water as those against farming weka.

Offsetting Behaviour  is unimpressed that vague unease enables the idea to be vetoed and Roarprawn gives a guide to how some native birds taste.


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