A top cheese company is relying on rapid antigen tests (RATs) to keep it going as New Zealand heads into phase two of the Omicron response.
Whitestone Cheese has sourced the rapid antigen tests itself and is waiting to be confirmed as a critical business.
Under the test to work scheme, critical staff who are close contacts of cases can bypass isolation as long as they return a daily negative RAT test.
The aim is to keep food production and critical infrastructure operating as Omicron spreads.
But for Whitestone it has been a maze of rules and an expense to get this far. . .
Urgent national policy changes are required to ensure the increase in carbon farming to meet New Zealand’s climate change obligations does not come at the expense of the country’s rural communities, according to a discussion paper released today.
The Green Paper by former Hastings Mayor and MP Lawrence Yule, Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon, calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.
It has been released ahead of a workshop next month involving a range of key stakeholders including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Local Government New Zealand.
Mr Yule said the paper outlines the real risk that short-term land-use decisions will be made to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . .
Mixed message – Rural News:
Farmers and growers can rightly feel somewhat confused about the mixed messaging coming from the Government about the risks to the sector from Omicron.
On the one hand, last week Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced that the Government had allocated $400,000 to support primary producers for contingency planning and response if farmers or growers get Covid-19.
“The Government is committed to keeping vital workforces going. Primary producers have always been essential workers throughout the pandemic, but as Omicron reaches further into our communities, we are stepping up to ensure we can protect the wellbeing of our rural communities,” the Minister claimed.
“Contingency planning by farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners will minimise the risk of further Covid-19 related disruptions, which can occur anywhere along the supply chain.” . . .
Sheep genetic potential holds challenges – Richard Rennie:
Growing pressure on sheep farmers over welfare concerns and climate change are demanding some shifts in what defines the ideal sheep. Richard Rennie spoke to AgResearch animal genomics scientist Patricia Johnson about her team’s work in trying to redefine sheep genetics in a shifting world.
Patricia Johnson likens the recent review she headed on New Zealand sheep and the potential to improve them through genetics as something of a “genetic warrant of fitness” for the species here.
“The work has really been a chance to reflect on where we are going with our sheep in NZ. After generations of breeding for more production, the industry is having to consider the complexities of breeding now for climate change and its impact,” Johnson said.
She acknowledges the significant and world-leading advances made in identifying methane inhibiting genetics in sheep. . .
Multiple potential benefits from planting native shrubs for use as sheep fodder are being researched as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.
The project, led by Dr James Millner, Academic Dean – Agriculture, at Massey University, was launched in 2019. It currently has three trial sites for a range of native shrubs, looking at palatability, digestibility, protein content and other nutritional charactersistics as well as the Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) for a range of species.
Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m programme focused on future proofing the profitability, sustainabiity and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities.
Overall, the research focuses include improving animal productivity, animal welfare, biodiversity and soil health, while mitigating soil eroision and climate change. . .
Ag tech to drive labour efficiency no longer a now a must – Shan Goodwin:
ADOPTION of agtech that drives labour efficiency is fast becoming a necessity, rather than an option, in the cattle production business.
From drones doing water runs, fence checking and mustering to spraying weeds using artificial intelligence or remote devices removing the need for on-the-ground water and animal monitoring, the need for technology that replaces or improves labour has never been more intense.
Consultants and livestock agents say labour shortages are arguably the single largest issue producers are currently facing.
“It doesn’t matter whether you are in the rangelands or in a high rainfall area close to services – labour shortages are real,” said NSW farm business consultant John Francis, Agrista at Wagga Wagga. . . .