Rural round-up

September 12, 2019

Nurture our nature workers – Dr Tom Mulholland:

Over the past 20 years I have had the pleasure and privilege of working as a doctor in rural communities and, more recently, in my mobile ambulance. From D’Urville Island to the Chathams, Kaitāia to Bluff on remote sheep stations and arable farms I have seen how farmers toil and, more recently, boil at the ever-increasing pressure put on them.

None was more evident than on a recent trip to a remote valley that must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It was picture-perfect, completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains under a crisp blue sky and with gurgling azure rivers. The air was clean and, with not a person or car in sight, it was the antithesis of urban life. I relaxed instantly as I  took in  the vista,  my lungs filling with mountain air.

However, the humans trying to  make a living in this stunning but harsh environment are far from relaxed. Scanning ewes, compliance and pastoral chores dealing with stakeholders, and the ever-increasing demands of conservation and people’s opinion make it an even tougher life. . .

Taming the black dog – Luke Chivers:

In the past year 685 people died by suicide. But the number of Kiwis affected by those deaths is almost immeasurable. Elle Perriam, 22, knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

The last memory Elle Perriam has of her boyfriend Will is of him laughing, making jokes and creating plans for the weekend.

Days later, he died by suicide. He was just 21.

It was a loss that came out of the blue for everyone who knew him, with aftershocks of grief and loss that rippled from his immediate family and through the wider community. . . 

Struggling youth ‘didn’t want to be judged‘ – Sally Brooker and Gus Patterson:

If Sam Robinson had his way, talking about your feelings would be a school subject.

The 29-year-old who grew up on a farm near Methven is itching to get his message across to mental health professionals and educators, as well as the rural people he spoke to during the recent Will to Live Speak Up tour.

Sam joined Will to Live founder Elle Perriam on the tour of 17 towns throughout the country.

Agricultural worker Elle established Will to Live last year to boost awareness of rural mental health issues after her boyfriend, shepherd Will Gregory, took his own life.

Sam told the Kurow gathering he had battled depression since 2008 but kept it to himself for a long time. That just compounded it.

”I was head boy, in the First XV and First XI – on the outside it looked like I had it all. . . 

Sustainability audits are next – Alan Williams:

Beef farmers will increasingly have to prove their farming systems meet sustainability rules, Rabobank says in its latest quarterly report.

The last 12 months has seen a noticeable step-up in the number and variety of mostly market-led initiatives as beef production comes under more scrutiny over the impact on animals and environment.

The impetus is coming from food retailers, food service companies, processors and producers in response to the changing dynamics, it said. 

And the pace of change will increase further. . . 

Fifty farms to take action:

New nitrogen-reducing project protecting waterways in Canterbury has nationwide relevance.

In the next two years, it is hoped 50 Canterbury dairy farms will be playing a leading role in some key research to further reduce nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Along with all the work dairy farmers are doing to look after their waterways, farmers nationally will be able to follow the project, called Meeting a Sustainable Future, which will focus on how farmers in Hinds and Selwyn can meet nitrogen loss limits and maintain profitable businesses under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The project will build on sustainable farming initiatives many farmers have already begun and an official project launch event was held recently on a Canterbury dairy farm.

Under the LWRP, Selwyn farmers must reduce nitrogen losses by 30 per cent by 2022 and in Hinds by 15 per cent by 2025, 25 per cent by 2030 and 36 per cent by 2035. . . 

Hawke’s Bay: Rockit apple’s China store takeover earns top accolade :

Innovative Hawke’s Bay apple company Rockit Global Limited has received top international honours at the Asia Fruit Logistica Expo 2019.

The company, recognised across the world for its miniature Rockit apple variety, went home with the Asia Fruit Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year from the Hong Kong event last week.

The company’s general manager global marketing Sandi Boyden said it was a huge thrill to have been acknowledged for the impact Rockit has had within Asia’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, principally in China, which now accounts for around 50 per cent of Rockit’s global sales. . . 

Kempsey high school students go on farm for work placement –  Samantha Townsend:

At a time when dairy farmers are faced with low milk prices and high input costs due to the ongoing drought – there is a ray of hope.

High schools students at Kempsey are opting to do work placement on farms including dairies where they see first-hand where their food comes from.

According to 2019 figures from Education Minister Sarah Mitchell’s office there are 3835 year 11 and 12 enrollments for agriculture, 1903 for marine studies (including aquaculture) and 2727 studying primary industries. . . 


Rural round-up

August 26, 2019

Time to stop shaming farmers – Rowena Duncan:

The recent Will to Live Tour gets The Country Early Edition host Rowena Duncum thinking about rural mental health.

Just last month I had a bad day. We all get them. I felt like there’s so much negativity out there aimed at farmers.

A few hours later though, I got a swift reality check in the form of a passionate and switched-on 21-year-old imploring more than 200 people in Balclutha to remember “how good we are at what we do” and to “be bloody proud to be a farmer”.

By the time you read this, the Will to Live charity’s ‘Speak Up Tour’ will have just completed its 13th event, with four still to come later this month. . .

Restored wetland in the Waikato shows how farmers can hugely improve water quality.:

Gray Baldwin has spent five years undoing work his grandfather did on the family’s South Waikato farm – and he’s thrilled with the result.

He and wife Marilyn own 713ha south of Lichfield, near Putaruru. They have a 200ha dairy farm running 900 cows and 160ha planted in maize. The rest of the property is in forestry or retired land.

“We’ve been there since 1955,” Gray says. “I’m the third generation, my son runs the farm and we’ve got three grandsons running around the place now.” . . 

The rest of the story about animal agriculture and climate:

Frank Mitloehner is on a mission.

In the wake of a United Nations report pinning much of human-caused global warming on animal agriculture and promoting veganism as the logical alternative, Mitloehner, a professor of animal science and air quality specialist at the University of California-Davis, wants to set the record straight.

In doing that, he is encouraging farmers and ranchers to tell the public, as radioman Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”

While the U.N. report pointed out that cattle and other animals do indeed produce the greenhouse gas methane — no secret there — he says the U.N. and “special friends” such as anti-animal agriculture activists and vegan promoters leave out important facts. . .

Estuary ‘riddled’ with whitebait:

Key to improving water quality is increasing NZ’s wetlands – after 90 per cent were drained.

It’s not everyone who can relax after a hard day’s work, throw out a line and hook a snapper for dinner from their own backyard.

Tapora dairy farmer Earle Wright can. Yet his good fortune is not due to luck or some inside knowledge about a secret fishing spot.

Rather it is a payback for years of effective environmental stewardship of his 120ha farm, a property backing on to an estuary in the Kaipara Harbour north of Auckland. . .

Cost should not shut borrower out of mediation sharemilkers say:

The Sharemilkers Section of Federated Farmers strongly supports the Farm Debt Mediation Bill (No 2) but would like to see changes to ensure a borrower isn’t shut out of the process because they can’t afford it.

The legislation could make it compulsory for lenders to make funds available to farmers to fund their share of mediation costs, Sharemilkers Chairperson Richard McIntyre told the Primary Production Select Committee this morning.

Alternatively, it could require the lender to fund the mediation, “which we as a sector would no doubt fund indirectly through increased fees”. . . 

Zanda McDonald Award winners have bright futures – Jessica Johnston:

TWO young guns are making great strides in the northern beef industry, proving the future of agriculture is in safe hands.

The passion and commitment to their chosen careers has seen Queenslander Shannon Landmark and the NT’s Luke Evans offered a unique mentoring opportunity under the Zanda McDonald Award, which recognises outstanding young professionals in the ag sector.

Ms Landmark, 28, was born in Mount Isa to a mining family, and garnered an interest in agriculture throughout her time in regional Queensland. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 14, 2019

Mainland venison marketer calls China home – Sally Rae:

When Hunter McGregor established a business in China four years ago, it was pioneering stuff.

Mr McGregor runs a Shanghai-based venison importing and distribution business, working with specialist New Zealand venison producer Mountain River Venison.

There was no market for venison in China and so it had been about creating both interest and demand for the product – “because it doesn’t sell itself”.

What he has also found is that running a business in China is getting harder. And that, quite simply, was “because it’s China”. “It’s the way things are,” he said. . . 

Looming 6A plan deadline pushed out – Sally Rae:

A significant milestone looms for rural landowners in April next year when new obligations are scheduled to come in to play to comply with the Otago Regional Council’s 6A plan change for rural water quality. But if a proposal from staff, headed to a council meeting this month, gets approval from councillors, that date will be pushed out to April 2023, as rural editor Sally Rae reports.

In a nutshell, Otago Regional Council chief executive Sarah Gardner says parts of the much-discussed 6A are working really well – but other parts are not.

And with the deadline just months away, the council did not believe it could enforce what was due to come into effect.

Talking to the Otago Daily Times ahead of the council meeting, Ms Gardner stressed the ORC was “absolutely not” walking away from its responsibilities around water quality, which remained its number one priority. . . 

Fonterra’s losses provide more questions than answers – Keith Woodford:

The forthcoming asset write downs of more than $800 million announced on 12 August by Chairman John Monaghan are clearly damaging to Fonterra’s balance sheet. It also means that Fonterra will now make a loss for the year of around $600 million. However, the implications go much further than that.

The losses mean that Fonterra will need to sell more assets to bring its ‘debt to asset ratio’ under control. The losses also ping back to the balance sheets of its farmer members, where the Fonterra shares are assets against which these farmer members have their own debts. Many dairy farmers are already struggling with their balance sheets, with banks now requiring debt repayments on loans that used to be interest-only.

If these write downs are the full story, then Fonterra will survive. The big question is whether these are all of the write downs, both for now and the foreseeable future. . . 

Farmers are getting more milk from each cow – they deserve a much better performance from Fonterra  –  Point of Order:

This   is the second  chapter  in the  woes  of  Fonterra, and  behind  it   the  dairy industry,  on  which the  New Zealand  economy is  so  dependent.

Point of Order   listed  some of those  woes    last  week.  Now, in the  wake  of  the latest  revelation,  Fonterra  will  have to absorb a loss of between $590m and $675m for the current financial year.

Critics   of the industry have  sprung  to the attack:  Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones is calling Fonterra’s management “corporate eunuchs” and labels Fonterra’s board as “grossly inept”. . . 

Meat prices drive increase in overall food price index:

Rising meat prices drove food prices up in July 2019, Stats NZ said today.

Meat and poultry prices rose 2.8 percent, with higher prices for chicken, lamb, and beef, partly offset by falling pork prices.

Chicken pieces were a big driver of the monthly price rise, up 7.0 percent. The weighted average price in July was $8.61 per kilogram compared to June ($8.05 per kilo). As well as being a big contributor to the monthly change, chicken pieces were up 8.8 percent annually. In July 2018, the weighted average price for chicken pieces was $7.91 per kilogram.

Lamb chop prices reached an all-time high in July, up 1.7 percent. The weighted average price was $17.70 per kilogram compared with $17.41 in June and $16.33 a year ago. . . 

Finding the Will to Live

When Elle Perriam’s partner ended his own life in 2017, she set about changing the lives of others, embarking on a national tour in June to encourage farmers to ‘Speak Up’

New Zealand is in what can only be called a mental health crisis. Around 500 New Zealanders per year die by suicide, and we have some of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD. The statistics are even worse in the rural demographic, where suicide rates are 20–50 per cent higher than in urban areas. The pressures of agriculture, coupled with the typical stoic, silent culture that permeates rural New Zealand can mean that those who are struggling often find it difficult to seek help, or to talk about their private battles. Geographical isolation can also be a factor, with some farm workers employed on remote high-country stations for months at a time with limited off-farm contact.

In December 2017, 21-year-old North Otago farm worker Will Gregory tragically ended his life, leaving his family, friends and girlfriend Elle Perriam devastated. Following Will’s death, Elle, a Lincoln University student, looked for a way to create positive change in the rural mental health sector, and the idea for the ‘Will to Live Speak Up Tour’ was born. Elle, with the help of her sister Sarah, launched the tour at the Hunterville Huntaway Festival in October 2018, with Will’s black Huntaway Jess as mascot. . . 

It’s a tough time being a farmer these days – Kate Hawkesby:

It’s a tough time to be a farmer these days. I really feel for them. Sure, they’ve been through lots of good and bad times, that’s the nature of farming, but it feels like this current climate is really tough.

Farming seems under fire from the government in a changing climate of new taxes, regulations, rules. it costs more to be on a farm these days. And that’s before we even get to Fonterra.

After massive write-downs of its assets, Fonterra’s forecasting a huge loss this financial year of around $675 million. That’s the second biggest loss since it began 20 years ago. No dividends will be paid to shareholders this financial year. . .


Rural round-up

August 9, 2019

Plans to expand dairy farm school into Oamaru – Gus Patterson:

It will not just be pilots training at Oamaru Airport next year.

The National Trade Academy (NTA) has announced plans to establish a dairy farm school at the airport, next to the NTA-affiliated New Zealand Airline Academy.

The dairy farm school, which is expected to become operational next March, will take up to 11 students in each intake and teach them the basics of dairy farming during a 12 week course, getting them ready to fill the labour shortages on farms in Canterbury and Otago.

Initially, the school would aim to train between 30 and 40 students a year, with a classroom at the airport and surrounding farms used for practical aspects, NTA managing director Craig Musson said. . .

Big turnout and ‘fabulous’ response to Will to Live tour – Yvonne O’Hara:

The importance of ”speaking up” when feeling depressed or down, is emphasised at each of Elle Perriam’s Will to Live Speak Up meetings, two of which were held in Winton and Balclutha last week.

Ms Perriam’s boyfriend Will Gregory took his own life in 2017.

She, her sisters Kate and Sarah and others, raised money to undertake a tour of nearly 20 small rural venues throughout New Zealand to promote the importance of ”speaking up” about mental health issues.

Will’s dog Jess is the tour’s mascot. . .

Cadet scheme gets started in Northland – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland livestock farmers have been challenged to offer farm cadetships to address what they say is a persistent problem of unfilled farming vacancies.

Whangarei A&P Society has devised a modern live-in, on-farm training course called a farm intern programme and 50 farmers have responded, 20 of them willing to start next year.

“Northland farmers say they can’t find trained farm staff so this is their opportunity to do something about it,” society manager Chris Mason said.

The new course was conceived by the A&P Society with input from former Federated Farmers field officer and agricultural tutor Malcolm Fuller and the resources of NZ Land-Based Training, an established private education provider in Whanganui.  . . 

What beyond meat investors should know – Richard Berman:

Following its initial public offering (IPO) in May, the alternative meat company Beyond Meat has seen its stock skyrocket. This week, the share price climbed past $230, putting the company’s valuation above $13 billion, as the market anticipated its upcoming quarterly earnings. That’s billion with a “B,” as they say. 

Here’s another “B” word: Beware. Despite all of the hype, there’s a soft side to Beyond Meat’s underbelly. 

Beyond Meat’s valuation is greater than the entire U.S. market for all plant-based foods — which are produced by dozens of companies. It’s also bigger than Wendy’s, Shake Shack, Red Robin and Jack in the Box— combined. This is perplexing given that, in the words of one analyst, Beyond Meat is merely “a small maker of fake-meat hamburgers and hot dogs.” The company reported $67 million in sales and $6.6 million in losses last quarter after a decade in business. . .

Unique farming technique brings splash of colour :

A Yorkshire farmer has used a unique farming technique to turn 74-acres of his land into an impressive wildflower woodland.

A picture perfect swathe of wildflowers has swept across farmland close to York, but the scene does not tell the whole story.

The flowers are blooming as the result of Alwyn Craven and his mother, who own more than 120-acres of land at Home Farm, at Huby, and are turning most of it over to nature.

As well as planting hundreds of trees, they are using a technique known as “soil inversion” – using a one metre deep plough to turn over the soil burying weed seeds and fertile soil. . .

Leaft Foods announces plans to produce protein from leafy crops:

• Plant protein ingredients company, Leaft Foods has been launched in Canterbury by Dr John Leyland Penno and Maury Leyland Penno

• Leaft Foods are combining existing and new technology with the aim of producing a range of high value leaf protein concentrate ingredients for leading food companies around the world

• The paddock to product business seeks to play a role in agricultural sector transformation, partnering with farmers to reduce on-farm net emissions, targeting nitrogen and methane. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 7, 2019

Plant milk’s worse for the environment than cow milk:  Fonterra  – Gerard Hutching:

If you are drinking plant-based “milks” because you think they are better for the environment, think again says a Fonterra scientist.

Nielsen Scantrack data shows sales of alternative milks have taken off in the past two years, with 25 per cent of total market share of all milk categories. In 2017 Kiwis spent $52 million on them, but that has risen to $144m in the last 12 months, with almond milk the most popular, followed by soya.

The value of the alternative milk market is growing at 7.6 per cent a year, while cow milk value is flat. . .

Speak Up experience transforming – Sally Rae:

If she was to look back at the person she was nearly two years ago, Elle Perriam reckons she would not recognise herself.

Miss Perriam is the very public face of rural mental health awareness campaign Will to Live, which was launched following the death of her boyfriend, Will Gregory, in December 2017.

Speaking during a Speak Up tour – events were held in Balclutha, Winton and Hawea last week and more were planned for Kurow on August 15 and Middlemarch on August 16 – she said it was rewarding and motivating. . .

Contemplating the big numbers in exports and imports – Joyce Wyllie:

 Whenever you sit in the car and turn the key in the ignition you simply expect the engine to start. No thoughts to carburettors, sparks, fuel, explosions, pistons, drive shaft, moving parts, wheels going round and how it all happens. Just taken for granted that one small movement of the hand initiates amazing mechanics causing movement in the machine.

Occasionally it doesn’t work which creates concern and limits immediate travel choices. Also when going places in the car not much thought is given to the place where that vehicle came from to where it’s now being used. Supply, imports, transport, trade, money going round and the privilege of ownership are, generally, all taken for granted.

After seeing the last of our season’s lambs mustered, drafted, weighed, loaded on trucks and driven away from the farm I wondered where they may have ended up. Our meat company provided some interesting information on markets and destination from the Nelson plant.  . . 

No scheme to manage hundreds of dams, but regulations concern farmers – Phil Pennington:

New Zealand lacks any scheme to monitor and maintain the structural integrity of hundreds of dams nationwide, but is now playing catch up trying to bring in controversial safety regulations.

The risks are illustrated at the town of Whaley Bridge in the UK, where thousands of people have been evacuated because an old clay dam holding a billion litres of water is cracking.

“Dams are still failing in highly developed countries in this day and age, and the Whaley Bridge example – it’s still happening,” vice chair of the New Zealand Society on Large Dams, Dan Forster, said. . .

Real characters at indoor dog trials – Sally Rae:

It could well be worth a trip to this week’s Southern Indoor Charity Dog Trial at Waimumu just to meet Jack and Mack.

In a sport which is littered with characters, 80-year-old Jack Condon could only be described as one out of the box.

Mr Condon is making the trip from Bruce Bay in South Westland, where he has been staying recently, towing a caravan in case he could not find accommodation in Gore.

After only taking up dog trialling in his 70s, he was bringing Mack – his “champion dog”, he laughed – whom he described as a “nice fella“. . .

2019 Plate to Pasture youth scholarships:

Silver Fern Farms has presented six young people from around New Zealand with Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships as recognition for their ideas to further the sustainability of the red meat sector.

Each recipient received $5000 to go toward their careers in the red meat sector. Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says this year’s applicants were asked to explore the issues of sustainability in the red meat sector and present their solutions for farms, processing and in-market. . .


Rural round-up

October 23, 2018

Mental health drive launched – Sally Rae:

The symbolism of inheriting her late boyfriend’s black huntaway, Jess, is not lost on Elle Perriam.

Mental illness is often referred to as the black dog and Jess will play a pivotal role in the newly launched Will to Live campaign.

Will to Live is a mental health awareness campaign targeting young rural men and women which has been launched following the death of Will Gregory in December last year.

Mr Gregory (20), who was working as a shepherd on Awakino Station, near Kurow, and was  an accomplished rodeo competitor, took his own life.

The campaign has been driven by Miss Perriam, Mr Gregory’s sister, Sam Gregory, and his best friend, Adam Williams. . . 

New advisor enjoys being ‘on the ground‘ – Sally Rae:

Growing up in Singapore, Ray Mohan always liked the idea of having a farm.

It was an unusual notion, given the island was about as far-flung from a farming nation as you could get.

But that dream has, in some ways, been fulfilled with her new role as a farm environmental adviser for Ravensdown which has her visiting farms throughout Otago and Southland. Ms Mohan (24) was 12 when her family moved to New Zealand, settling in Whakatane, which was a huge contrast to Singapore.

But the transition from city girl to country girl was not a difficult one to make, and she and her siblings embraced their new lifestyle. Interested in resource management, Ms Mohan headed to Massey University to study environmental science. . . 

Super Fund is sure of agri sector – Neal Wallace:

The New Zealand Super Fund has spent only a third of the $1.2 billion it has earmarked for Australasian primary sector investments but its holding might now veer from stock to crops and horticulture.

So far it has $400 million invested in New Zealand’s and Australia’s primary sectors, mostly in dairy, which shows its confidence in food production.

But its NZ direct investment portfolio manager Neil Woods said its 22 dairy and two beef farms could be the extent of its livestock holdings and future investments could be in cropping and horticulture. . . 

Noodles, milk and ale win awards – Richard Rennie:

Vegetable noodles from Marton, deer milk from Southland and a sour ale from Matakana captured the podium positions at this year’s Massey Food Awards. 

The eclectic food basket of category winners was topped by a range of vegetable noodles from Marton business the Whole Mix Company, a subsidiary of Spiers Foods, claiming the Massey University Supreme Award at this year’s competition.

Other category winners included the Clevedon Buffalo Company picking up the artisan award for its marinated mozzarella, the only produced by a New Zealand herd, while The Apple Press won the non-alcoholic section for its cold pressed apple juice and Alliance Group took the Frozen Award for its Te Mana Lamb range. Matakana based brewery 8 Wired claimed the alcoholic beverages award with its unusual sour beer Cucumber Hippy. . . 

Driving dairy careers – learning on the job: Jackie Harrigan:

A Rangitikei farming operation has set up an apprenticeship scheme to train dairy workers. Jackie Harrigan reports.

On Bella Archer’s first day at work as a dairy farm assistant, she learned how to ride a two-wheel motorbike, and rode around and around the tanker track until she had mastered it.

On her second day she learned to drive the tractor.

And on day three she learned how to bring the cows up to the dairy shed on the Santoft farm.

A town girl and school leaver, 18-year-old Bella was casting around for a career, having decided against her earlier idea of sports psychology, and decided farming was worth a try as she liked working outside. . . 

The story behind your glass of milk – Georgina Gutierrez:

I’m a dairy farmer who loves to tell the story behind a glass of milk!  Every story about the food we eat is important, but I think it has become even more important for those of us raising cattle.

For example:  Have you ever heard that humans are the only species to drink milk after infancy?

Actually, there are a lot of things only humans do. That’s not necessarily the point this question is often intended to raise.  People who say this usually aren’t trying to engage in thought-provoking small talk. Instead, they often have an agenda to shut the dairy industry down.

Earlier this year, I became so frustrated by these dumb claims that I promised myself not to engage in debates about them. . . 

https://twitter.com/ranchingaround/status/1054136629059739648

 


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