Rural round-up

13/01/2021

Rural lobby group wants cheques until broadband rollout completed – Tom Kitchin:

Some rural communities fear the phasing out of cheques this year is coming too fast, too soon.

They say reliable internet must come first before they rip up their chequebooks.

Sharron-Davie Martin, who lives on a farm in Loburn near Rangiora in Canterbury, sometimes has to pay $500 a month for her internet, even though she has serious problems with using it.

She said she received a tax fine because her unreliable internet hampered her ability to do a GST return. . .

Sheep and beef farmers ‘dodged a nuclear warhead’ in 2020 – Piers Fuller:

Prospects at the start of last year were looking bleak for farmers with one of the worst droughts of a generation and sudden, massive disruption brought on by Covid-19.

Now fresh into 2021 with lots of grass and high market demand for meat products, the sheep and beef sector has experienced a remarkable turnaround.

Wairarapa farmer William Beetham said they feel incredibly fortunate to have weathered the 2020 storm.

“We probably didn’t dodge a bullet, we dodged a nuclear warhead. What could have been a terrible season last year, has actually turned out really, really well.” . . 

Farming company adapts technology for Covid-19 sanitation :

A farming company is ready to roll out new sanitising technology if Covid-19 returns to the community.

Palmerston North’s Saflex Pumps primarily uses a spray technology to keep the teats of dairy cows clean before milking to reduce mastitis.

But co-founder Mark Bell Booth said the same technology – along with an automated fly spray – inspired the design of a new system which can sanitise indoor areas to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

A dry fog machine pumped sanitiser in microns smaller than the size of a human hair into a closed room, he said. . . 

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead to take on world record :

A Gore shearer will this week tackle a world shearing record that has stood for more than 13 years.

Megan Whitehead, 24, will attempt the solo women’s nine-hours strongwool lamb shearing record of 648 (72 an hour), set on November 27, 2007, by Waikato shearer Emily Welch. The previous record of 541 had been set in 1989.

Whitehead has been shearing in recent months in Hawke’s Bay and King Country.

The attempt will take place at the Grant Brothers woolshed at Gore on Thursday, starting at 5am and finishing at 5pm. . . 

When a farm becomes a school :

Prize-winning dairy farm doubles as environmental “classroom”.

Schoolkids in New Zealand’s deep south may soon be attending lessons in a different kind of classroom – on a dairy farm.

Farmer Chris Giles and his wife Desiree are looking at establishing a “learning hub” on their 206ha property near Gore in Southland as a place to teach young Kiwis about sustainable farming.

The couple, who milk 550 cows at Waimumu Downs, are part of the Southland Enviroschools programme. Every term they host hundreds of students from schools in the district who spend a day at the farm involved in a myriad of activities such as testing water quality, native seed sourcing and learning about what to plant and where. . . 

 

Share the lamb campaign 2021 MLA ad begins – Mark Griggs:

Evocative as usual and expected, the 2021 summer season Australian lamb promotion began today.

Each year leading up to Australia Day, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), release its masterpiece promotion of lamb, especially cooked on a barbecue. This year’s promo is no exception after a year that has seen Aussies more divided than ever.

Building on the ‘Share the Lamb’ brand platform, MLA’s integrated campaign reflects upon 2020 as a pivotal time in our history where, for the first time, Australia was physically distanced due to the pandemic.

The new TV advert takes us to the year 2031 – where division between states has escalated to new heights and a once united nation is separated by a great wall, towering over every state border – offering a tongue-in-cheek look at what could be if state borders are shut for good. . . 

(If you haven’t seen the ad, scroll back and you’ll find I posted it yesterday).

 


Rural round-up

20/11/2020

Animal welfare clock ticking on cheater boarder decision:

Federated Farmers and the Shearing Contractors Association are looking for an urgent decision from the government to allow experienced sheep shearers into the country.

“We’ve been reminding the government since late winter we are going to have increasing urgency around the need for shearers this summer,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

As the weather heats up, the urgency increases.

Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chair and Wairarapa farmer William Beetham says animal welfare is becoming an issue. . .

Farmers continue protest momentum with group petition – Sally Rae:

A group of farmers is planning its next move — including a petition to Parliament and a farmer meeting in Gore — in a bid to seek changes to the national policy statement (NPS) for freshwater management.

Groundswell NZ stemmed from last month’s tractor trek in Gore, which was organised by farmers Laurie Paterson, of Greenvale, and Bryce McKenzie, of Pomahaka.

Yesterday, Mr Paterson said the group was looking at what it could do to “make our voice heard” and it was buoyed by the support already received.

There had been an overwhelming response to the tractor trek and he and Mr McKenzie felt they could not leave it there. . . 

Horticultural training offers high-value career options to Northland youths:

Thanks to a partnership between Plant & Food Research and Orangewood Packhouse, over the last four years 51 students from five Northland secondary schools have graduated from a horticultural programme that offers hands-on training and NCEA credits.

The Kerikeri Gateway Horticulture Schools Programme has recently secured additional funding from Te Taitokerau Trades Academy to continue its 5th session in 2021. Championed by Plant & Food Research, the programme is an investment in the future of science and horticulture and supports the organisation’s Māori strategy TONO and its goal to foster Māori talent, particularly rangatahi Māori (Māori youth).

“It’s very encouraging news to us and everyone who has worked towards making this happen despite the challenges brought by COVID-19,” Stacey Whitiora, Group GM Māori, Plant & Food Research, says. . . 

Millions of New Zealand flowers now sold on livestream auction platform:

Millions of dollars worth of New Zealand flowers are being traded using a virtual auction platform which has seen a surge in buyer usage since lockdown.

The digital platform is being credited with supporting the resilience of the local flower industry – providing continuity during raised alert levels and helping connect growers and retailers when attendance at physical marketplaces was not possible.

The locally designed online auction took more than three years to build and beta test – and now allows retail buyers to enter an auction remotely, review and purchase their flowers through live streaming cameras – a first for the New Zealand market.

Flowers auctions in New Zealand are based on a Dutch auction or ‘clock auction’ model where the price counts down in intervals from a reserve or starting value to a price where a buyer is willing to purchase. . . 

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership applauded by NZ Onion’s growers and exporters :

The country’s onion growers and exporters are welcoming the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

‘This agreement will ensure that New Zealand’s onion exports continue to grow. Without improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult for a small country like New Zealand to export to larger economies like Asia and Australia,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘The agreement will reduce complexity by developing a single set of trade rules across all markets within the agreement. It provides a process for addressing non-tariff barriers within clear timeframes.

‘Of immediate benefit is the expectation that customs authorities will release perishable goods within six hours of arrival. This will help ensure that our onions arrive in market in the best possible condition.’ . . 

Tantalise your tastebuds with tangy cheddar with caramelised onion:

The new, tasty Castello® Cheddar with Caramelised Onion, also known as Red Onion Cheddar, offers a rich and salty flavour, rounded with the addition of caramelised onions for a cheese that can stand on its own, be used as an ingredient or become the star of a cheese board.

Castello’s Red Onion Cheddar is tangy and sweet with a crumbly texture so is perfect for grating onto pizzas or flatbread for a wonderful, sweet onion boost. It complements grilled chicken or turkey burgers with its unique sharpness and delivers an incredible layer of flavour to your toasted sandwich.

You will find the new Castello® Red Onion Cheddar in the dairy case throughout Countdown stores nationwide and New World stores, North Island, RRP $8.00. . .


Rural round-up

27/09/2020

Southland Federated Farmers ‘farmer morale at an all-time low’ – Logan Savory:

A Southland farming leader says the morale of farmers is at an all-time low as they navigate their way through “impractical” freshwater policy rules.

The new rules aim to improve freshwater quality within a generation, but they’ve proven controversial with farmers, many of whom will have to apply for resource consent to winter graze stock.

Speaking to a gathering of rural professionals in Invercargill on Monday, Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there was a massive divide between the understanding of farming from officials in Wellington to the reality of farming.

She said Federated Farmers had a difficult dilemma where they wanted to publicly raise concerns attached to the freshwater policy rules, but were wary of what it was doing to farmers’ mental health. . .

New Feds man keen to build – Peter Burke:

New Feds board member, William Beetham wants the organisation recognised for its significant contributions to NZ farming and society as a whole.

The sixth-generation farmer runs a major farming business, Beetham Pastural.

He says Federated Farmers has a long and proud legacy and has been involved in setting up a number of organisations – such as the insurance company FMG and the Golden Shears competition.

“We need to remember that we are not just an advocacy organisation and we need to tell the complete story about the inspiring contribution our farmers have and are making. We need to talk about the positive legacy of NZ farming and NZ Feds,” Beetham told Rural News.  . . 

Candidates for Fonterra election announced:

There are six candidates standing for two places on the Fonterra Board in 2020.

Brent Goldsack, Cathy Quinn, Mike O’Connor and Nathan Guy were announced on 14 September as the Independently Assessed candidates.

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack is seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. As a re-standing Director Brent automatically goes through to the ballot.

Nathan Guy, Mike O’Connor and Cathy Quinn were recommended by the Independent Selection Panel after their assessment process. . .

Building up potential of bumble bees:

Plant and Food Research scientist Dr David Pattemore would love to see orchards buzzing with bumblebees.

He’s part of a team that has developed a way to successfully breed bumblebees and now he’d love to see commercial beekeepers pick up the technology and run with it.

Dr Pattemore says bumblebees complement honey bees. He says they work at different times of the day and can work in higher winds and in the rain.  

And he says it makes sense to diversify pollination options. . . 

Raising meat rabbits proves food for thought for aspiring author :

Dana Thompson and her family are living off the land in South Otago and helping others who want to do the same.

Their property is perched on a barren hilltop behind Taieri Mouth, about 40 minutes south of Dunedin.

The family moved there to be self-sufficient four years ago. When they bought the land it was attractively priced for a reason.

“It’s pretty steep, we’ve got a big gully that runs down it and it’s covered in gorse,” Dana says. . . 

Fence – Uptown Farm:

“There’s always fence to be fixed.”

People say this all the time about life on a farm.

I don’t know if I heard it before I married a farmer or not. But if I did, I didn’t get it. Much like a lot of the people who say it, I wouldn’t have understood just how true it is. I didn’t know it wasn’t an over exaggeration in the least. If I had understood that, I might have thought twice before I said , “I do.”

But true it is. Fence isn’t a one and done kind of thing. You put it up. You fix it. You adjust it. Weeds and trees grow into it. You tear it down and build it new. Just when you do that a crazy cow comes along and rips it all down. . . 


Rural round-up

29/07/2020

New farmer training programme being rolled out– Sally Rae:

Wanted — farmers to inspire the next generation of farmers to perform at their best.

That is what Growing Future Farmers (GFF), a training programme for young people interested in entering the sheep, beef and deer industry is looking for — providing a career pathway for farmers of the future.

A pilot programme has been held the Gisborne and Wairarapa regions and it will be rolled out to six regions next year, including two in the South Island.

The aim was to have 10 farmer trainers in each area.

Gisborne farmers Dan and Tam Jex-Blake spoke at information evenings in Winton and Kurow last week, outlining the programme to potential farmer trainers. . .

Ag contractors frustrated – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of skilled workers available.

The frustration comes amid growing concerns for the industry and farm production in the face of a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators.

Industry body Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) is calling on the Government to allow overseas-based operators back into New Zealand to help alleviate the growing problem.

The end of a golden career :

Russell Lowe has spent almost 50 years selecting, observing, propagating and tasting kiwifruit at Plant and Food Research in Te Puke. Earlier this year Russell was recognised for his role in developing Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.

Forty-eight years ago, research scientist Russell Lowe moved to Te Puke to work at the DSIR’s new research orchard.

There was not a crop in the ground and Russell’s first job was to bang in posts so kiwifruit could be planted.

Now there are more than 40 hectares of fruit planted for research, greenhouses, eight coolstores, purpose-built labs, a packhouse and an office block on site. . . 

Pork surplus crisis averted by measures- Sally Rae:

It could have been an unmitigated disaster for the pork industry.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions earlier this year meant independent butchers were not allowed to open fully for retail customers.

That meant a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue, the worst-case scenario being the euthanasing of pigs on-farm.

However, such a crisis was averted through various solutions, including an innovative food bank initiative. . . 

Feds applauds carpet maker’s wool focus:

Federated Farmers congratulates the leadership shown by New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corporation in announcing last week it will to return to its roots as a wool and natural fibres-only business.

Cavalier said in February that profit margins selling synthetic carpets were getting thinner but sales of its wool carpets were steadily rising.

“Choosing to concentrate on New Zealand-produced natural wool, with its superior durability, warmth, sound-dampening and fire-retardant qualities is a smart decision for any company,” Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson William Beetham says. . . 

Aroma NZ buys leading NZ flower supplier:

New Zealand’s biggest green-lipped mussel health food company has bought one of the country’s largest flower growing companies.

Aroma NZ has successfully purchased Moffatt’s Flowers, which has been growing roses and other flowers in their Christchurch glasshouses since 1949.

As one of the largest rose growers and flower wholesalers in New Zealand, Moffatt’s grows 35 varieties of roses in a network of more than 20,000 square metres of climate-controlled glasshouses. This results in an annual output of more than three million rose stems, along with other flowers.

Aroma NZ director Ben Winters says they have been looking to diversify into different industry sectors. .  .


Rural round-up

16/09/2019

Farmers despair :

Rising stress levels among farmers struggling to digest a deluge of regulatory changes while weathering constant attacks by critics, have community leaders worried.

BakerAg director Chris Garland says morale is as low as he has ever known it and he is seeing experienced, stoic farmers burst into tears, worn down by constant public attacks on the industry while trying to comprehend the impact of new rules.

He is worried about the mental wellbeing of farmers, a view shared by the heads of several rural support trusts.

Rural Support’s national chairman Neil Bateup says demand for help in his region of Waikato has increased. . . 

The increasingly uncompromising Todd Muller – Alex Braae:

National’s new agriculture spokesperson finds himself in one of the party’s most important portfolios, at a time of dramatically increasing tensions in the sector. Will Todd Muller, a man regularly mentioned as a future leader contender, find common ground?

Todd Muller’s obsession with politics began with an American encyclopaedia, which his parents bought from a door to door salesman in 1979. 

The long biographies of US presidents jumped out at him. He copied their signatures, and drew pictures of them. In time, Muller even came to write a book about his future political dreams. 

“The short synopsis is that I go to America when I’m about 21, I become the vice-president of the United States when I’m 28, and then of course some tragedy befalls the president, and I become the president. And I serve as the United States president for 13 consecutive terms.”  . . 

Data and science do the work – Neal Wallace:

The topography of The Ranch in south Otago is steep to rolling hill country but it is managed and performs like an intensive breeding and finishing farm. Farm managers Maurice and Renee Judson tell Neal Wallace much of the performance comes down to decisions based on science and data.

The impact of data on agriculture has been reckoned to be comparable to that of fertiliser.

The challenge is to decipher that volume of data about farm performance and parameters into a workable form and that is where south Otago farm managers Maurice and Renee Judson have an ace up their sleeve.

The farm is owned by Canterbury-born Lincoln University-trained lecturer and plant physiologist Dr David Ivory who has spent about 30 years working for the United Nations on sustainable agricultural programmes around the world and his wife Wichanee. . . 

Let’s get behind our rural community – Kerre McIvor:

A couple of years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a column calling for there to be a Cockietober – a month to celebrate farmers and their invaluable contribution to the economy.

I felt, back in 2017, that farmers had got a rough ride during the election campaign, and that farmers were getting it in the neck unfairly. They were being blamed for the poor water quality in New Zealand despite the fact that city dwellers are letting literal and metaphorical crap flow into their harbours and rivers. They were being told how to manage their stock by people who’d never set foot on a farm. They were told they didn’t pay their workers enough, they were being told they were destroying the planet by providing milk and meat for consumers, they were told they mistreated their animals.

I thought things were bad two years ago. But it appears things have got much, much worse.

In an open letter to the nation, BakerAg, a rural business consultancy firm, has called for people to get in behind our rural community. . . 

Sheep water ban stuns farmers – Colin Williscroft:

Farmers have been broadsided by a rule in a proposed regional council plan that will cost some of them $1 million each.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s proposed Natural Resources Plan includes sheep among stock to be excluded from waterways throughout the region, including hill country, a rule neither farmers nor the council saw coming.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham said the rule was not raised during the plan’s hearings process.

But the proposal is unworkable. . . 

Launch of the New Zealand Agritech Story:

New Zealand has a new story to tell, one that highlights the nation’s ingenuity, development of cutting-edge technology, and care for its people and place.

The New Zealand Agritech Story provides a compelling way of promoting New Zealand’s agricultural technology internationally, to build awareness and preference for New Zealand solutions and ultimately help more New Zealand agritech businesses succeed on the world stage.

The NZ Agritech Story, launched today, includes a comprehensive suite of free promotional materials that highlight New Zealand’s leading edge in the sector.

Peter Wren-Hilton, the executive director of Agritech New Zealand, said the story would make a key difference for export companies. . . 

Brazil’s fires and biofuels – Jim Steele:

From leaf cutting ants that cultivate fungus gardens to flowers that fool potential pollinating insects into having sex, the magic of rainforest ecology always inspired my love for nature’s creativity. So, it’s no surprise that any and every report of burning rainforests would rally deep concerns across the globe. Nonetheless I am disturbed by dishonest gloom and doom regards recent Amazon fires. NASA reports since 2003 the square kilometers of forest burned each year has dropped by roughly 25 percent. But such good news doesn’t get headlines.

Although the NY Times wrote the fires have no climate connection, meteorologist Eric Holthaus, who writes numerous catastrophic climate articles for Slate and the New York Times, suggested the fires show, “We are in a climate emergency”. As of August 16, 2019, an analysis of NASA satellite data indicated that total fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years, but Holthaus dishonestly tweeted, “The current fires are without precedent in the past 20,000 years.”

To heighten global hysteria, French president Macron and actor Leonardo deCaprio, tweeted photographs of forest infernos. But those photos were taken 20 years ago. Likewise, Madonna tweeted wildfire photos taken 30 years ago, and others tweeted flaming photos from regions far from the Amazon.

Activist vegetarians denounced meat-eaters for deforestation, arguing forests are burnt to create pastures for cattle. But they failed to mention pastures previously created for grazing without deforestation, are now being usurped by biofuel cultivation. Indirectly, it’s the biofuel fad that has driven cattle grazers to carve out new pastures in the rain forests. . . 


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