Rural round-up

20/10/2021

NZ primary sector best performer in global emissions survey :

The New Zealand agriculture, land use and forestry sector has been ranked No 1 of 32 nations for the way it is getting to grips with climate change issues.

“With environmental NGOs and commentators regularly pointing the finger of blame at our farmers it’s pleasing to see an independent and in-depth assessment tell a very different story,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

For its just-published Net Zero Readiness Index (NZRI), global consultancy KPMG examined 103 indicators of commitment and performance on decarbonizing in 32 countries, which together are responsible for around three-quarters of global emissions.

It ranked our overall national performance at No 9, with Norway, the UK and Sweden taking out the top three places. . . .

 Rising costs eat into dairy payout – Tim Cronshaw:

Rising costs are taking some of the fun out of a high payout forecast for Mid Canterbury farmers.

Farmers still recovering from June floods are facing on-farm inflation that is pushing out the break-even point.

Fonterra’s unchanged forecast for a milk price range is $7.25 to $8.75, with a mid-point of $8.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Nick Giera said most farmers would end up with five years of strong payouts if this held up. . . 

Young Farmers launch new club on West Coast :

Networking, events, working bees, and socialising are back on the calendar for Young Farmers on the West Coast.

The brand-new Westland Young Farmers’ Club has been launched for anyone from rural communities in the district aged 15 to 31-years-old to join.

Tasman Regional Chair Cheyenne Wilson said the decision was made to form a new Club to service the West Coast, based in Greymouth, after a number of people expressed interest about getting involved.

“This is really exciting for all young people on the West Coast because you don’t have to work on a farm to join as a member, you could work in any part of a rural community or just want to sign up to make new friends,” she said. . . 

Independently assessed candidates for Fonterra’s Board of Directors election announced:

Incumbent Directors Peter McBride, John Nicholls and Leonie Guiney have been announced as the Independently Assessed Candidates for the 2021 Fonterra Directors’ election. This year there are three Board positions up for election.

The three incumbent Directors are seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. The Panel’s assessment of Peter, John and Leonie will be included in the voting pack and as re-standing Directors they automatically go through to the ballot. No other candidates put themselves forward for the Independent Assessment Process. . . 

T&G Global lowers full year profit expectations :

Persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs has forced produce grower and exporter T&G Global to lower its full-year profit expectations.

The company is now forecasting earnings of between $4 million and $10m, compared with $16.6m a year ago.

It said the disappointing outlook reflected updated forecasts in the results of a number of T&G business units.

They include apples, due to shipping challenges and associated impacts on pricing and costs, particularly in the northern hemisphere. . .

Organic Dairy Hub announces New Zealand’s first free organic dairy farming ambassador:

Organic Dairy Hub (ODH), the only farmer-owned organic co-operative in Aotearoa, has announced Te Aroha farmer Gavin Fisher will be joining the team as its official Farmer Ambassador.

Fisher has been a key figure in creating a shift towards organic farming in the dairy industry, paving the way for other organic dairy farmers after becoming one of the first farmers to supply Fonterra with organic milk, explains Clay Fulcher, ODH Chief Executive.

“With over 20 years of organic farming experience, Gavin is an absolute expert in organic and regenerative farming, and his role as ambassador gives us the opportunity to educate and advise our other farmers on best practices in these areas – with no cost to them. We expect that our farmers will see a vast difference through the rest of this farming season,” says Fulcher. . . 


Rural round-up

06/09/2021

New Zealand workers find greener pastures on Canadian farms – Kate MacNamara:

Grant Coombes doesn’t usually have trouble keeping staff. He pays well, provides decent accommodation, and his North Waikato dairy farm is within easy reach of Hamilton. But there wasn’t much he could do when his herd manager left for Canada in June.

Originally from the Philippines, the manager, Syrell, was in New Zealand on an essential skills visa, which was set to expire. Coombes says renewing the visa wasn’t the problem – he’d renewed one for another employee just months before. The difficulty was that Syrell, who earned $70,000 a year working 45 hours per week, didn’t just want a job. He wanted a future.

“It’s about a pathway to residency for these guys and there’s just no clear pathway at the moment,” Coombes says.

Which is a shame because the man’s skills are in huge demand in New Zealand. . .

Wairarapa water scheme project canned – Piers Fuller:

After 20 years in the pipeline and more than $12 million spent, a major Wairarapa dam project has been abandoned.

Wairarapa Water Ltd announced on Friday that development of the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme would stop immediately.

The scheme northwest of Masterton was designed to harvest high winter flows of the Waingawa River into a 20 million cubic metre dam for use in summer.

Wairarapa Water chairman Tim Lusk said the scheme was no longer viable to continue. . . 

 

Hawke’s Bay dry predicted to deepen as 10 days of sun loom – Doug Laing:

The spectre of another drought on the east coast of the North Island is on the horizon, rather than the rain farmers badly need.

The latest monthly rainfall figures released by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council show why there are concerns.

Almost no rain is forecast for any part of Hawke’s Bay in the next week. That may not be good news for farmers, but will be for the rest of the population wanting a little local exercise under alert level 3 restrictions.

The council’s release of the figures comes also as climate agency Niwa reveals that nationwide it’s been the driest winter on its records – beating a previous record set just last year. . . 

Wetlands could combat nitrates :

The Waimakariri Water Zone Committee in Canterbury is considering a pilot wetlands project which would aim to reduce nitrate, phosphorus, sedimentation and E. coli levels in local waterways, while improving biodiversity in the district.

This follows a recent presentation on the benefits of integrated constructed wetlands by wetland scientist Dr Michelle McKweown of science and engineering consultancy Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA).

An integrated constructed wetland is an engineered water treatment system that uses vegetation and micrbes in the soil to treat water from farms and other sources, while also integrating the wetland structure into the surrounding landscape fabric.

These wetlands, which have been used in Ireland, the USA, and the UK since around 2007, act as a biofilter to remove suspended solids, pathogens, and nutrients from waterways. . . 

Nurseries struggling to keep up with ‘extreme’ demand for native plants – Will Harvie:

The demand for native plants is “just insanity”, according to a prominent grower. Where are these all these plants and trees coming from? WILL HARVIE reports.

Eco-Action Nursery Trust​ started out a few years ago as a plan to landscape Christchurch’s new Shirley Boys’ High School​ with native vegetation.

Students would learn about biology and horticulture – seeds to seedlings – and then plant them around the school’s new grounds – a nice touch in community building. Meanwhile, the school would get almost-free plants.

​“This is a good idea,” Shirley Boys’ teacher and Eco-Action co-founder Dave Newton thought at the time. There were even some plants left over, which were donated for planting in Ōruapaeroa-Travis Wetland.​ . . 

What crop growers say about vegan food labels – Shan Goodwin:

CROPPING industry representatives have responded in mixed fashion to the debate over vegan food labels using words like beef and meat.

Submissions to the senate inquiry investigating labelling of plant-based protein have now closed and public hearings kick off next week.

GrainGrowers believes the current food labelling provisions are not adequate and do lead to confusion and unfair outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

It’s submission said food labelled with an animal product descriptor must be derived from an animal. . .


Rural round-up

31/08/2021

Groundswell NZ have had a win, but they won’t stop their campaign– Rachael Kelly:

They’ve had a win, but the battle is far from over.

Groundswell NZ is pleased the Government has ‘’seen some sense’’ and decided to consult on some of the winter grazing rules the group campaigned against because they were unworkable for the nation’s farmers, co-founder Bryce McKenzie says.

But there were still rules that had been introduced that needed to be changed, such as those around significant natural areas and the ‘ute tax’ and Groundswell would continue to fight for change, he said.

“It’s taken 12 months of bickering and arguing and protests to get to this point, when they could have just read the 17,000 submissions that people made that told them they were wrong in the first place,’’ McKenzie said. . . 

Setting up for a strong future :

Every summer, carloads of people arrive at Lyndon and Jane Strang’s Five Forks farm in North Otago, trying to access a swimming hole near the bottom of their property.

Brush, gorse and blackberry had taken over the 50m-wide fenced berm between the 290ha farm and the Kakanui River and public access had all but been blocked.

‘‘We wanted to open it up and create a walkway along the entire length,’’ Mrs Strang said.

With the help of funding from the Otago Regional Council’s Eco Fund and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Jobs for Nature Fund, they have done just that. . . 

The future of farming could be up not out – Daniel Smith:

Unlike most people in the agricultural industry, Matt Keltie​ plants his crop upwards, not outwards.

Keltie’s​ business 26 Seasons​ first farmed microgreens in vertical farms in a former Wellington nightclub, but has recently expanded his operation to Auckland.

Vertical farming grows food on vertical surfaces, unlike traditional farming which produces on a single level such as in a field or a greenhouse.

But Keltie​ said it was not just about stacking plants on top of each other, but using technology to farm smarter. . .

Farming the seabed for weed – Jessie Chiang

The global seaweed industry is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion. New Zealand would like a slice of it.

“There are times I have to ban the s-word in the house.”

Lucas Evans lives and breathes seaweed. It took one introduction to it while he was on holiday in New Zealand, for the fascination to grow and blossom into a decade-long journey.

Originally from Australia, Evans went on to learn everything he could about growing and selling algae and crossed the ditch to settle in Coromandel. He’s now the co-founder and chief executive of his own seaweed company, Premium Seas. . . 

GO NZ: Cycling the Alps 2 Ocean trail with Adventure South – Elisabeth Easther:

The 356km of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, from Tekapo to Ōamaru, can be tackled no matter the season… just make sure you wear your waterproofs.

People asked if I was crazy when I told them I was headed to the South Island to ride the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. It was June and the weather was packing up all over the place. A fortnight prior to departure, Twizel, one of our waypoints, recorded a nippy -8C and just one week out, Ashburton was hit by some of the worst flooding on record. But cyclists are optimists by nature – you have to be to pedal in Auckland – so, when I finally set off, I resolved to accept the weather, whatever it was. Besides, on a fully supported tour with Adventure South NZ, if worst truly came to worst, I’d still be cosy and cared for.

Here’s why you don’t need to wait for good weather to tackle the ride yourself. . . 

Basil farm yet to reach its full potential – Marian Macdonald:

It’s already a very profitable business that produces more than 30,000 bunches of fresh basil a week but Honeysuckle Farm also has a commercial kitchen and a site ready for planting macadamias or berry crops.

The 91.55-hectare property is close to the coast at Avondale, midway between the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton.

Woolworths is an important customer for Honeysuckle, which also sells basil puree as an ingredient.

Owner Jenny Grant says the business, which has its own commercial kitchen, has the potential to generate significant margins by value-adding the puree with products like pesto. . . 


Rural round-up

18/08/2021

Ongoing battle for river draining experience – Sally Rae:

As the microscope continues to focus on the Manuherikia River in Central Otago and its future minimum flows, rural editor Sally Rae talks to award-winning Omakau farmer Anna Gillespie about the stress the rural community is under.

They are two farmers farming – literally.

Central Otago couple Ben and Anna Gillespie trade under Two Farmers Farming, running a 400ha property at Omakau comprising a dairy grazing and beef finishing operation.

It was a challenging environment to farm in, with an average rainfall of about 450mm, temperatures in winter as low as -10degC and summer hitting more than 30degC, Mrs Gillespie said. . . 

Govt reforms ‘absolutely punishing’ – Neal Wallace:

Local authorities and industry groups warn they are being driven to breaking point by the volume and pace of Government legislation reforms.

One described the pace and scale as “absolutely punishing” and warned “it has the potential, unless managed very carefully, to break the system”.

Karen Williams, a former planner and current Federated Farmers vice president, says that pace shows no letting up, with parties given just one month to comment on the exposure draft of the first of three documents to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

“The RMA is 30 years old, so you don’t start looking at its replacement with one month of submissions,” Williams said. . . 

Carbon-farming economics are also attractive on easier country – Keith Woodford:

Given current carbon prices, the march of the pine trees across the landscape has only just begun. The implications are massive

My previous article on carbon farming focused on the North Island hard-hill country. If financial returns are to be the key driver of land-use, and based on a carbon price of $48 per tonne, then the numbers suggested that carbon farming on that class of country is a winner.

By my calculations, sheep and beef farms on this hard-hill country provide an internal rate of return (IRR) of around 2%, whereas my recent estimate for carbon farming was 9.7%.

Here I extend the analysis, still using a price of $48 per tonne, by looking at the easier hill country that Beef+Lamb (B&L) categorise as ‘Class 4 North Island Hill Country’. This fits between their ‘Class 3 North Island hard-hill country’ and the ‘Class 5 North Island intensive finishing farms’. . . 

Efficiency key to simple, profitable A2:A2 farm– Samatha Tennent:

A Waikato farmer has succeeded in creating a top farming business, as well as a career in the corporate world.

The desire to have a dynamic farming business as well as an exciting career off the farm, a Waikato farmer has come out on top in both.

And he got there by focusing on creating a simple, profitable farming operation with an efficient Jersey herd.

Zach Mounsey who is an equity partner and sharemilks 440 Jersey cows on 161ha at Te Kawa near Otorohanga on the family farm, which was the most profitable Waikato 50:50 sharemilker in Dairybase for 2018. He is also the general manager of milk supply for Happy Valley Nutrition (HVN), a new dairy processor aiming to produce high-quality infant formulas. . . 

NZ grower’s squash milk creates new export patch :

One of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers is diving into Asia’s alternative proteins market with a plant-based milk.

Kabochamilk is a collaboration between Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Sachie Nomura, a Japanese celebrity chef who also developed a world first avocado milk.

Kabocha, a Japanese variety of squash, is a staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and New Zealand is one of the largest exporters of kabocha to Japan and Korea.

The Ministry for Primary Industries contributed more than $95,000 through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to help boost Kabocha Milk Co’s efforts to formulate, manufacture, and market a shelf-stable kabocha milk recipe that would appeal to consumers in Japan, Korea, China, and beyond. . . 

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price:

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report concluding that Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season is consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra set a forecast price for the season of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids according to rules set out in its Farmgate Milk Price Manual. DIRA requires the Commission to review Fonterra’s methodology for calculating the price and to conclude on whether the calculation is consistent with the purpose of DIRA and the rules set in the Manual.

The regime is designed to provide for the setting of a base milk price that is consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 


Rural round-up

08/08/2021

Labour shortage causes apple grower profits to go rotten :

Fresh produce grower and marketer T&G Global has reported a sharply reduced half year profit as labour shortages left fruit unpicked causing a fall in sales and rise in costs.

The company’s net profit for the six months ended June fell 64 percent to $3.4 million, as revenue dipped 3 percent to $652.1m.

Chief executive Gareth Edgecombe said Covid-19 remained a problem for the business causing uncertainty and volatility.

“Despite this, continuing international supply chain challenges, including disrupted shipping schedules, had more of an impact than we experienced proportionately last year. This affected our ability to get fresh produce to market on-time.” . . 

Competition concerns spook bread wheat growers:

Uncertainty over restrictive new buying practices and competition from the feed wheat industry has seen the nation’s arable growers cut back on sowing milling wheat – the wheat used for bread.

“It’s worrying that buying practices we believe may be anti-competitive, coming at a time when growers are able to receive better prices for animal feed wheat, may result in New Zealand becoming more reliant on imported milling wheat for a staple food,” Federated Farmers Arable Industry Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

Feds are keen to discuss the situation with the Commerce Commission and have also approached Commerce Minister David Clark. . . 

Farmers, Greenpeace look to different stats to measure emissions – Jordan Bond:

Greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming have increased to an all time high, according to Stats NZ.

But emissions from the dairy cows themselves have dropped year-on-year, according to Ministry for the Environment, which the industry says is the best measure to look at. It said statistics which show dairy farming emissions have increased capture too many irrelevant categories.

Stats NZ figures show dairy cattle farming emissions rose 3.18 percent (up 546.2 kt CO2-e to 17,719.4 kt CO2-e) between 2018 and 2019, the most recently reported year. This is the highest figure on record, dating back to at least 2007.

The Stats NZ figures count all emissions produced on dairy farms, regardless of what the emissions stem from. . . 

Mike Chapman wins Bledisloe Cup for horticulture:

Mike Chapman, until recently Chief Executive of Horticulture New Zealand, has won the Bledisloe Cup for significant services to horticulture for more than 20 years. 

HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil, says Mike’s advocacy for the horticultural industry has been untiring, forceful, and balanced.

‘Mike always acts with the aim of achieving the best outcomes for growers and orchardists, and indeed, the New Zealand economy and health of its people through access to nutritious, locally grown food.

‘Mike has firmly stood for growers on key issues such as protecting elite soils, ensuring growers maintain their social license to grow and, hand in hand with that, ensuring growers remain economically viable in a fast-changing environment.’  . .

Several other winners announced at the Horticulture conference:

Several other people important to the New Zealand horticulture industry – in addition to Mike Chapman who was awarded the Bledisloe Cup for horticulture – received awards at the Horticulture Conference gala dinner on 5 August at Mystery Creek.

Environmental Award

Emma and Jay Clarke of Woodhaven Gardens in the Horowhenua won the Environmental Award. 

Woodhaven Gardens are leaders in sustainable growing, investing significantly in reducing environmental impact, adopting a science-led approach that balances conservation with commercial success. . .


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

20/07/2021

Farmers are riled up over everything and they’ve got a point – Kerre McIvor:

It takes a lot to get farmers off their land. But Friday’s Howl of Protest saw a goodly representation of every man and his dog fire up the Massey Fergs and John Deeres aroundthe country and take to the streets in protest.

There wasn’t just one issue that had got them so riled up.

Farmers don’t see why they should be taxed to assist high-income city dwellers into electric cars when the rural community has no alternative right now but to use internal combustion engine 4WDs to do their work. . .

Can you hear us now? –  Annette Scott:

The deluge of new regulations and costs from the central government spilled over into protest on Friday when farmers, contractors and tradies across the country rallied for the Howl of a Protest.

Trucks and harvest machinery, tractors, utes, transport companies and dogs took to Ashburton’s streets – just one of more than 45 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill – to host the peaceful protest rallies.

Organised by Groundswell NZ, in an effort to stand up for farmers, food producers, contractors and tradies against what it claims to be a tsunami of unworkable rules imposed by the central government.

Groundswell is seeking the scrapping of the freshwater, SNA, biodiversity and ute tax policies, changes to immigration, climate change and the Crown Pastoral Lease Act policies. . . 

Faith in farming future shaken – Colin Williscroft:

Future increases in the price of carbon will push hill country farmers off the land, a Central Hawke’s Bay farmer says.

Clem Trotter, who farms with his wife Mickey west of Ongaonga, questions what sort of future sheep and beef farmers on the east coast of the North Island face.

The couple attended last month’s carbon forestry conference in Rotorua and prior to that they believed that targeted tree planting on-farm, while retaining productive areas for agriculture, offered plenty of opportunities for farmers but the wholesale planting of regions needed to stop and something had to be done about it.

From what Trotter heard at the conference, which he says attracted far more lawyers, accountants and investment managers than it did farmers, he now thinks it’s too late for that. . . 

Another protest coming – Sudesh Kissun:

Another nationwide protest by farmers will be held on August 16 unless the Government listens to their concerns.

This was announced at the Groundswell protest in Morrinsville where over 2500 people backed by 250 tractors and 100 utes took part in a rally.

There were calls for the Government to review its policies around farming, especially those related to sustainability and water. Tradies are also unhappy with getting hammered with a clean car tax on utes, vehicles considered an integral part of their job. . .

Palmerston North farmer makes up to $4000 weekly giving virtual tours :

Palmerston North farmer Arthur Chin makes about $4000 in a “good week” hosting virtual tours of his one hectare property.

He told Seven Sharp in his first year of doing it he has hosted 358 tours for more than 4000 people in 32 countries.

Forty-five per cent of his customers come from the US and about 25 per cent from Europe. . .

US and Canada heatwave hammers crops, forcing up global grain prices – Michael Condon, Angus Verley, and Belinda Varischetti:

A heatwave across the United States and Canada is having a devastating effect on crops and pushing grain stocks low.

It is good news for Australian farmers, though, as the price of canola is rocketing.

In the United States, temperatures in some regions have risen to 50 degrees Celsius, smashing previous records, while Canada is in the grip of its worst drought in two decades.

Temperatures have risen to record levels in the Pacific North West and parts of California. . . 


Rural round-up

19/07/2021

Dismiss protesting farmers as rednecks at your peril, Prime Minister– Claire Trevett:

The rules sheet issued by organisers of Friday’s Howl of a Protest showed farmers have learned from the errors of past protests.

It warned those taking part not to get into “heated arguments with people.”

“We want to be the sensible persuaders, not a bunch of rednecks.”

It is a valuable lesson, which was learned in the 2017 farmers’ protest in Morrinsville over Labour’s policy to charge for the commercial use of water. . . 

Farmers are riled up over everything and they’ve got a point – Kerre McIvor:

It takes a lot to get farmers off their land. But Friday’s Howl of Protest saw a goodly representation of every man and his dog fire up the Massey Fergs and John Deeres around the country and take to the streets in protest.

There wasn’t just one issue that had got them so riled up.

Farmers don’t see why they should be taxed to assist high-income city dwellers into electric cars when the rural community has no alternative right now but to use internal combustion engine 4WDs to do their work.

It’s not just the ute tax, though. It’s the moves to pricing on agricultural emissions. It’s the higher environmental standards on water. It’s the protection of sensitive land aka the land grab. It’s all of the everything. . . 

Mayor slams Shaw’s SNA claim – David Anderson:

Grey District’s mayor is unhappy at the lack of response from government ministers about concerns from West Coast leaders and iwi on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs).

Tania Gibson is seeking the support of all rural and provincial mayors around New Zealand in the battle to protect landowners from having their land locked up by the Government’s proposed SNA process in the new National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB).

In a letter to her fellow mayors, Gibson lambastes the attitude and response of Environment Minister James Shaw to opposition to the SNA process and the rural sector in general.

She told her fellow rural mayors that Shaw’s comments – “It is only a few Pākehā farmers down south whipping this up, spreading misinformation because they have always pushed back against the idea of any kind of regulation of protecting environmental conditions on their land…” have angered and disgusted her.

Still working to breed better sheep – Shawn McAvinue:

Texel stud breeders Alistair and Karen McLeod sold their grazing block in Central Otago to move to the Maniototo to continue their dream of breeding a better sheep.

Mr McLeod said people had been telling him he might be ‘‘getting a bit too long in the tooth’’ to be buying another farm to continue stud breeding.

‘‘When it’s your passion and you love doing it, it’s in your blood.’’

The McLeods had known fellow Texel breeders Mac and Mary Wright for about 25 years, meeting as New Zealand Sheepbreeders’ Association members, Mr McLeod said

Waitaki winemakers beat overall trend – Ashley Smyth:

Waitaki winemakers have been among the lucky ones this year, reaping a solid harvest despite a challenging year for New Zealand growers as a whole.

Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association chairman Andrew Ballantyne said this year’s harvest was good.

“I think us and Central [Otago] were the only ones that were sort of up … We’ve actually had a pretty good run here in the Waitaki. It was a good harvest.”

Ostler co-owner and managing director Jim Jerram said there was a widespread problem with some frosts in the spring, which caused “major reduction in crops” in some South Island regions. . . 

 

Jimmy’s Farm hailed for protecting UK native breeds :

Jimmy’s Farm has gained Rare Breeds Approved Associate accreditation for its efforts in educating about the importance of the UK’s endangered native breeds.

The Suffolk farm, run by celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty, has become the first recipient of accreditation, issued by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST).

The charity has administered am accreditation scheme for farm parks for many years, creating a network which makes an important contribution for rare breeds survival.

The new Approved Associate scheme provides the opportunity to extend the benefits of RBST Approval for the UK’s rare breeds. .  .


Rural round-up

09/07/2021

Towns rally for a howl of a protest – Neal Wallace:

More than 40 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill will reverberate to the sounds of tractors and utilities on July 16, as farmers and tradies protest multiple government policies.

Howl of a Protest is organised by pressure group Groundswell NZ, which says it is standing up for farmers, food producers, contractors, tradies and councils against what they claim to be a host of unworkable rules imposed by central government.

Organiser Laurie Paterson cannot say how many people will participate but says interest in the movement and the protest is growing with people frustrated by the deluge of government policy.

“They are sick of the avalanche of unworkable rules being dumped on them and the idea is to make a statement,” Paterson said. . . 

Rural group’s ‘wild conspiracy theories’ criticised

A Southern mayor and Federated Farmers president are alarmed a rural action group is taking advantage of valid concerns to push “wild conspiracy theories”.

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan attended an Agricultural Action Group (AAG) meeting in Balclutha last Wednesday, which Mr Patterson described as “unsettling and unhelpful”.

About 200 attended.

The former New Zealand First list MP said the content of the meeting conflated “valid concerns” of rural communities about current government policy with “wild conspiracy theories“. . .

Good work ethic goes a long way – Rebecca Greaves:

Hard work and personal drive led Joe McCash to take out the Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition recently. Rebecca Greaves reports.

Demonstrating a high level of personal drive helped Joe McCash over the line in a Hawke’s Bay shepherd competition.

Combined with his experience across multiple farming systems, it set him apart from other competitors to win the Rural Directions Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition.

Joe, 25, has been shepherding at Te Aratipi Station, a sheep and beef farm in the Maraetotara Valley, near Waimarama Beach, in Hawke’s Bay for 18 months.

Employed by Ed and Ro Palmer, Joe is focused on the stock side of the business. “I’d say it’s 90% stock work, all the handling, rotations, general yard work.” . . 

This Raglan couple rolled up their sleeves to transform their 14ha block into a tiny-home retreat – Nadene Hall:

There’s no power, no phone lines, and no cellphone coverage. It’s hilly to steep, mostly covered in trees, and ends at a cliff-face. The grass quality isn’t great, so there’s no point grazing stock, even if its vegetarian owners wanted to.

But this block just southwest of Raglan is a profit-making venture for Tara Wrigley and Guillaume Gignoux, thanks to hard work and a little serendipity.

They run Tiny House Escapes, with three unique accommodation options. There’s the LoveNest, a little cabin at the top of the property surrounded by a pine forest; the LoveBus, a converted bus that sits in a paddock with expansive ocean views; and the Treehouse, one of the most wish-listed places on Airbnb NZ. . .

New scientific officer passionate about solutions to N loss :

Ravensdown has appointed Dr Will Talbot to the newly created position of Scientific Officer, supporting the Chief Scientific Officer Ants Roberts in an ongoing programme of innovative science and technology projects.

Will brings strong soil knowledge to the innovation challenge from his undergraduate agricultural science and post graduate soil science studies as well as lecturing at Lincoln University in soil erosion, cultivation and physical properties.

It was through Ravensdown’s many projects with Lincoln that Will saw first-hand the co-operative’s innovative approach to solving production and environmental challenges simultaneously. . . 

New Zealand horticulture exports resilient in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic:

New Zealand horticulture exports weathered the effects of COVID-19 to reach new heights, climbing to a record-breaking $6.6 billion in the year ending 30 June 2020. This is an increase of $450 million from the previous year, and more than 11% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand publish ‘Fresh Facts’ annually to provide key statistics that cover the whole of New Zealand’s horticulture industries. According to latest edition, the value of the total New Zealand horticulture industry exceeded $10 billion for the first time in 2020.

New Zealand horticultural produce was exported to 128 countries in 2020. The top five markets were Continental Europe, Japan, the USA, Australia and China. Exports to Asia were $2.76 billion, 42% of total NZ horticulture exports. . . 

Celebrating primary sector people and innovation :

The Primary Industry New Zealand (PINZ) Awards are all about acknowledging and celebrating teams, individuals and organisations that are leading the way towards a better future through investing in science, innovation and communities.

“We were proud to be a finalist in three out of the seven categories – it’s real recognition of the leadership and innovation across our Ballance team,” says Mark Wynne, Ballance Agri-Nutrients CEO.

“The competition was tough in each category, highlighting the depth of talent and drive within the sector, and making the fact we and Hiringa Energy won the award for Innovation & Collaboration and Surfing for Farmers won the Team award even more fulfilling, knowing we were up against the best of the best.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/07/2021

Southland MP Joseph Mooney invites Green Party co-leader James Shaw to Southland to meet Groundswell NZ – Rachael Kelly:

Farmer protest group Groundswell NZ said it would ‘’most definitely’’ meet with Green Party co-leader James Shaw if he accepted an invitation to visit Southland.

Southland MP Joseph Mooney wants to extend an invitation to Shaw to the province to meet with the group, who he says Shaw ‘’unfairly vilified in the media this week”.

A spokesperson from Shaws’ office said: ‘’Joseph Mooney is welcome to send an invitation to the Minister, and it will be considered alongside all the others we receive.’’

Shaw admitted for the first time this week that it was Groundswell he was referring to in an interview with Ngati Hine FM last month, when he referred to ‘’a group of pākehā farmers from down south’’ who were ‘’always pushing back against the idea that they should observe any kind of regulation about what they can do to protect the environment”. . . .

B+LNZ launched emissions calculator – Neal Wallace:

The sheep and beef industry have taken a significant step towards managing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission obligations, with the launch of an emissions calculator for farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has released the free-to-use calculator, which takes information about a farm and stock numbers and applies science and data about average emissions at national, regional and farm system level to calculate on-farm emissions and sequestration.

It has been funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership and endorsed by the Meat Industry Association (MIA), AFFCO NZ, Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea Premier Meats, Ovation NZ, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms, Taylor Preston, Te Kuiti Meats, Universal Beef Packers and Wilson Hellaby NZ.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the calculator has been independently assessed as meeting the requirements for calculating emissions under the He Waka Eke Noa programme and agreement with the Government. . . 

Fences fixed first as farmers count cost of flooding – Country Life:

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury say it could take months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up the mess on their farms following last month’s massive flooding.

It’s been an extremely challenging situation for neighbouring farmers Anne-Marie Allen and Chrissie Wright, who say they are still trying to get their heads around the scale of the damag of Anne-Marie and her husband Chris’s farm resemble a bombsite.

Their six-hectare water storage pond is destroyed, fences are buried, machinery has been damaged and logs, branches, rocks, gravel and up to a metre of silt have been dumped on the Ashburton Forks property. . .

M bovis eradication on track – Annette Scott:

The next few months will be busy for the Mycoplasma bovis programme as it winds closer to a successful nationwide eradication of the disease.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is confident the programme is on track to eradicate the disease from New Zealand in the next five years.

“The programme has been refined and improved, the science and practice on the ground has helped get us to where we are now, just a pocket of five infected properties,” O’Connor said.

But, he says, the next few months will be busy and crucial. . . 

Farmers helping Meat the Need charity via Silver Fern Farms – Linda Hall:

Mince — it must be the most versatile red meat you can buy.

Most people would be able to come up with a nutritious meal by just adding some flavour and vegetables. It goes a long way and it’s reasonably priced.

However, there are many people out there who still can’t afford to buy enough food to feed their family.

It’s not surprising that the need for food parcels is growing with the price of housing and accommodation skyrocketing — and there’s no end in sight. . .

Scottish pig sector ‘at risk’ due to unfair supply chain practice :

The future of the Scottish pig industry is at risk due to continued unfair supply chain practices, NFU Scotland has warned.

It has written to Pilgrim’s, the processing partner of Scotland’s largest abattoir in Brechin, to urge them to stop operating pricing practices that ‘threaten’ the sector.

Farmers had ‘serious concerns’ resulting from the ‘uncompetitive price’ paid by Pilgrim’s for pigs going to the Brechin abattoir.

“The price is uncompetitive compared to alternative market routes,” NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/07/2021

Former homeless men pay it forward to flood hit Canterbury farmers – Nadine Porter:

They were once homeless and in need of a helping hand, so when flood-affected farmers asked for assistance six men living in Christchurch City Mission’s transitional housing were amongst the first to step up.

Working to help clear fences on Chris Allen’s debris-laden farm at Ashburton Forks, the men were inspired by a nationwide scheme that had supplied them with meat direct from New Zealand’s farms.

Meat the Need launched during the Covid-19 lockdown to supply much-needed mince to city missions and foodbanks.

Donated by farmers, the meat is processed, packed and delivered to those most in need. . .

Halal butcher shortage could cost NZ billions – industry chief – Sally Murphy:

The meat processing industry says a shortage of halal butchers could see billions of dollars of export earnings lost.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva made the comments in a submission to the Primary Production Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

This year the industry was short about 2000 workers both skilled and unskilled, she said.

“The industry needs about 250 halal butchers each season.” . .

Federated Farmers calls for support to get rates rise reviewed – Chris Dillon:

When times get tough, we all have to tighten our belts right? Unless, you’re Environment Southland it seems.

In fact, councillors have just voted to do the complete opposite, passing a 20 per cent rates increase.

Federated Farmers submission questioned the need for a substantial rates hike, called the council out for lack of detail in consultation documents, and provided alternative solutions to avoid the huge rise.

Ignoring that and the fact that only 10 of the 52 submissions received supported the 20 per cent increase, the majority of councillors voted for it. . .

Farm 4 Life givensupreme honour at KUMA Māori Business Awards:

Trailblazing Kiwi ‘edutainment’ business Farm 4 Life was announced the kaitiaki or guardian of the top 2021 Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA) Māori Business Award last night.

Farm 4 Life, an online learning platform that delivers on-demand education for the dairy industry and owned and founded by Māori farming identity Tangaroa Walker, became the seventh recipient of the Suzanne Spencer Tohu Maumahara Business Award at the KUMA Māori Business Awards. The judges based their decision on the impact Tangaroa was having on his local community using his experience and farming skills to support young people in particular, and the meteoric growth of his online community that puts Southland farming in the spotlight.

KUMA board member and judge Karen Roos (Te Puni Kōkiri) says Tangaroa’s personality and joy in being in front of the camera was an obvious entertainment factor, but particularly that “his life story, his dedication to being on the land, and his manaaki towards others” were significant factors in being honoured on Friday night. “Tangaroa is a strong role model in the community and especially for our rangatahi.” . . .

Operation cheese lollipops a most unusual snack – Michael Andrew:

Eager to discover Fonterra’s milky secrets, Michael Andrew infiltrated the dairy giant’s restricted R&D facility under the guise of a respectable journalist. The mission? Sample the cheese lollipops.

When most New Zealanders think of Fonterra they think of milk – thousands and thousands of tonnes of milk sloshing around in tankers on their way to supermarkets, dairies and cafes across New Zealand every day. They don’t necessarily think about gut-health probiotics being made from billions of strains of bacteria or high protein liquid superfoods being engineered for the convalescing or the elderly.

And why would they? Much of that stuff is being developed behind closed doors at Fonterra’s research and development complex in Palmerston North. But on the day the dairy giant opened its facility to the media for the first time, it wasn’t the probiotics I was most interested in. Nor was it the superfoods. It was the cheese lollipops . .

St Joseph’s Primary Quarry Hills create Bessie for Picasso Cows programme – Alex Gretgrix:

Students at St Joseph’s Primary in Quarry Hill in Bendigo were in the mood for painting during their latest study unit this term.

Over the past few months, prep, grade one and two students learnt all there is to know about dairy farming while designing their new bright bovine as part of Dairy Australia’s Picasso Cows program.

“We wanted our students to learn all about farming life while also honing in on their creative skills and I think they’ve really loved it,” P/1/2 teacher Nathan Walsh said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

17/06/2021

Floods highlight farmers’ vulnerability – Nigel Malthus:

The vulnerability of the roads has become a major concern for Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury president David Clark over a week into the clean-up following the region’s damaging floods.

Many road closures were still in force several days after the event.

“Delivering grain to the feed mill for us has gone from being a 30km trip to an 80km trip each way,” Clark told Rural News.

“We’ve got the [State Highway 1] Ashburton River bridge severely damaged and the slumping arguably is continuing to get worse,” he adds. . . 

Concern over SNA costs – Neal Wallace:

It will cost an estimated $9 million or $3000 per site for the Southland District Council (SDC) to map significant natural areas in its territory as required by the Government’s proposed biodiversity strategy.

The cost to ratepayers of councils having to identify significant natural areas (SNAs) is starting to materialise, but resistance is growing from private landowners concerned at the imposition on their property rights.

Although the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity is not yet Government policy, the Far North District Council is suspending its SNA identification process after protests from Māori landowners, including a hikoi.

The Far North District Council estimates 42% of the district on land owned by 8000 landowners could have areas of high ecological value. . . 

Council pausing SNA identification work – Rebecca Ryan:

The Waitaki District Council is pushing pause on its work to identify significant national areas (SNAs).

Last month, the council sent letters to nearly 2000 landowners about proposed changes to mapping in the district plan review, advising them the new district plan would increase the level of protection for SNAs, “outstanding and significant natural features”, “outstanding natural landscapes” and wahi tupuna (sites and areas of significance to Maori) on their private land. The letters also included maps of the proposed new protective overlays on the properties.

Waitaki landowners hit back at the council, criticising the mapping process and saying the letters did not contain enough information about what the proposed changes meant for them. Many expressed fears about losing productive land and the impacts changes could have on the value of their land.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher announced the pause in the council’s SNA work yesterday. He said there was “too much uncertainty” as the national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity (NPSIB) was still being developed. . .

Zero-injuries goal major investment for Alliance -Shawn McAvinue:

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker takes it personally when anyone gets injured at the meat processing plant, about 8km north of Oamaru.

The days of telling staff “to take a concrete pill and harden up” were over, he said.

Nearly 19 injuries were sustained for every 1million hours worked at Alliance sites across New Zealand.

The injury rate had fallen 80% in the past five years, he said. . . 

Back up the bus! – Sudesh Kissun:

Work together and stop throwing each other under the bus. That’s the message farmers delivered last week to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) at its first roadshow meeting in Glen Murray, Waikato.

About 35 farmers heard BLNZ chief executive Sam McIvor and director Martin Coup outline work being done by BLNZ on their behalf.

However, former Federated Farmers Auckland president Wendy Clark told the meeting that “there was a lot of throwing under the bus” during the Plan Change 1 consultation process.

Plan Change 1, introduced by Waikato Regional Council, is about reducing the amount of contaminants entering the Waikato and Waipā catchments. . .

Project pitches benefits of working with wool – Stewart Raine:

A new initiative focused on the recruitment, training and retaining of shearers and shed hands is expected to help ease the shortage of shearers across Tasmania.

The Wool Industry Workforce Development Project, funded by Skills Tasmania and coordinated by Primary Employers Tasmania, aims to attract young people into the industry.

It will provide coaching and mentoring throughout their developmental journey, and support farmers and contractors to improve workplaces to remove retention barriers. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/06/2021

Canterbury flooding: best friend safe but pain lingers – Adam Burns:

Dave Stewart and his family may have emerged from the floodwaters safe and well.

But the heartache of a flooding catastrophe which ravaged the Mid-Canterbury district has not subsided for the Greenstreet dairy farmer who was evacuated alongside wife Maree and son TJ on Sunday 30 May.

The image of 10-year-old dog Max being guided onto a truck by a member of the New Zealand Defence Force during the evacuation circulated across national and international channels as news broke of the Canterbury region being lashed by a one-in-100-year rain event.

As Stewart, 67, surveyed the damage to the 200ha family farm yesterday, which he said was going to absorb significant time and costs, there was only one feeling that came to mind. . . 

We are good at agriculture and we can be proud of it – Derek Moot:

Prof. Derrick Moot, head of the Dryland Pastures Research team at Lincoln University and a keynote contributor to MakingMeatBetter.nz, gives his thoughts on the NZ farming industry.

The adage ‘the consumer is king’ has never been more pertinent than it is today for New Zealand’s animal agriculture sector. What consumers think about our products, how they feel when they eat them, and their perceptions of how it’s produced, have become something of a national obsession.

After all, 40 per cent, or $17.4 billion worth of our annual export income, relies on global consumers continuing to place value on the animal-sourced products we produce – and preferably at a premium.

In this Covid-ravaged world, that export income has never been more important for Aotearoa. . .

Fears for productive farmland – Shawn McAvinue:

An overseas investor is seeking to buy a sheep and beef station in South Otago, sparking fears the productive farmland could become a carbon forestry block and force families out of the community.

A Land Information New Zealand spokeswoman said an application had been lodged at the Overseas Investment Office for the acquisition of the 5499.25ha sheep and beef farm Wisp Hill Station in Owaka Rd in Owaka Valley.

“The application is currently being processed and we do not know when a decision will be made.”

All other information relating to the application remained confidential, she said. . . 

LIC announces deal to divest automatum business:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) announces it has entered into an agreement to divest its automation business to MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (NYSE:MRK) for an amount of NZ$38,100,000 and subject to a working capital adjustment.

The LIC Automation product portfolio joins Allflex Livestock Intelligence (a business unit within MSD Animal Health which has manufacturing facilities at Palmerston North New Zealand).

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary requirements and the transaction is expected to complete on or about 11 June 2021.

The transaction includes the following: . . 

HortNZ welcomes Government Integrated Farm Planning (IFP) guidance:

Horticulture New Zealand says fruit and vegetable growers can meet new farm planning requirements, through adapting existing Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) programmes.

‘The farm planning principles and requirements announced by the Agriculture Minister today largely mirror existing GAP plans, which are integrated farming planning programmes,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘That said, as an industry, we will be reviewing our GAP programmes to see if there are any areas that we need to strengthen.’

Barry says that HortNZ and industry bodies have been working closely with growers on integrated GAP plans for more than 20 years. . .

Waikato Milking Systems at Fireldays 2021: Introducing CowTRAQ collars and  DairyHQ dairy management system:

Dairy farmers operating in a complex, modern industry can find the solutions to the challenges they’re facing, by partnering with Waikato Milking Systems at this year’s National Fieldays.

The dairy technology company will showcase new products aimed at helping farmers make decisions on how to improve efficiency and productivity, to meet the unique conditions of their operation.

There will also be a focus on helping farmers improve the milk quality of their herds, with labour-saving and data collection technology already tested around the world, from large-scale commercial operations to the traditional family-owned farms. . . 


Rural round-up

23/05/2021

Water plan, rates draw farmers’ ire – Hamish MacLean:

Court costs for water plan changes at the Environment Court could easily run into the millions and should be paid from Otago Regional Council reserves, Federated Farmers says.

The farmer group also slammed rates increases proposed by the council yesterday.

Regional councillors heard submissions on their 2021-31 long-term plan in Dunedin, Queenstown, and via videoconferencing in the first day of two days of scheduled hearings yesterday.

About 560 submissions were received, and about 100 people and organisations wanted to deliver their submission verbally. . .

Generation Next graduate shares passion for farming with school leavers :

As part of B+LNZ’s commitment to attracting talented and motivated young people into the red meat sector, we co- funded the Leaving School magazine received by senior school students in every secondary school throughout the country. In this story, young and eager farm worker, Alex De’Lay shares his passion for farming and advice to school leavers.

This story was published in the Leaving School magazine which gets distributed for free to senior school students in every secondary school throughout New Zealand.

Working on a farm in Southland has been a positive change of lifestyle for English-born Alex De’Lay.

He arrived from his home in Northumberland, England in October 2017 on a working holiday. 

It seems nothing can stop his commitment to farming and learning as much as he can about the industry – not even losing an eye in an accident involving a firework just three weeks after he arrived in New Zealand. . . 

Agribuisness career the goal – Shawn McAvinue:

Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and their future plans. This week, he speaks to Otago University student Dominic Morrison (18), of Queenstown.

University of Otago student Dominic Morrison is targeting a career in agribusiness — in between “jumping and twirling” in an all-male ballet troupe.

The first-year law and economics student used his $5000 Meat Industry Association scholarship to pay for his stay at residential hall Selwyn College on campus in Dunedin.

The price to stay in the hall includes the cost of a ballet uniform. . . 

Industry advocacy far from muted!– Andrew Morrison, Jim van der Poel, and Andrew Hoggard:

Agricultural organisations are often at the pointy end of criticism.

We exist to act in the best interests of our farmers – as individuals and the sector’s future as a collective. That can be a hard balancing act. To secure a future where the sector thrives and supports our communities and the New Zealand economy, we have to advocate with government.

We all know dairy, sheep and beef sectors have seen their fair share of regulatory changes in recent times. That’s tough and we all know it brings challenges which are confronting and not always welcome.

In the face of significant proposed change, we have advocated clearly for policies that work on the farm. Are we going to win them all? No. And have the outcomes been perfect? No.

Weather adds to trial and tribulations at sheep dog comp – Hugo Cameron:

Man’s best friend has been battling through rain, wind and snow to get the job done at the national Sheep Dog Trial Championships in Southland this week.

More than 500 dogs and 300 trainers were vying for the top spot at the almost week-long trials, hosted on a farm north of Gore by the Greenvale club.

Southland Dog Trial Association spokesperson Maria Hurrell said, despite some rough conditions, everyone had been having fun.

The week had been plagued by frost, rain, “cold, bitterly” wind, and some snow – but that hadn’t stopped competitors from flocking to Greenvale from around the country, she said. . . 

Mice plague ravaging farms in NSW and southern Queensland scurries south to Victoria .-

As the worst mouse plague in decades continues to ravage farms across New South Wales and southern Queensland, large numbers of mice are travelling south and making their way into Victoria.

Don Hearn owns a beef cattle farm and vineyard just east of Barham, in New South Wales near the Victorian border.

He said over the past three to four weeks, mice numbers had increased on his property and were causing damage. 

“It’s certainly not as bad as a little further north, but with most plagues, they start in the north and work their way south.” . . 


Rural round-up

09/05/2021

McBride leads Fonterra with the heart – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra chair Peter McBride has jumped into the biggest job of his considerable co-operative governance life – changing the giant dairy processor’s capital structure to suit the times.

“The issues raised through this review need to be addressed early,” McBride said.

“We have a misalignment of investor profiles and we have to avoid a slippery slope towards corporatisation.

“Waiting for the problem to be at our feet will limit our options and likely increase the cost of addressing them, at the expense of future opportunities for us.” . . 

Meat collaboration benefits all – Hugh Stringleman:

Resilience and collaboration within the red meat industry underpinned the response to covid-19 and managing drought issues across much of the country, according to the latest Red Meat Report.

It is the second in a series by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, after the first was published last August.

Respective chief executives Sam McIvor and Sirma Karapeeva said collaboration had never been stronger and the recently renewed sector strategy was a strong platform to maximise the contribution to the New Zealand economy.

The report contains sections on the Red Meat Profit Partnership, Mycoplasma bovis, global trade worth $9.2 billion in 2020, free-trade agreements, the Taste Pure Nature origin brand, industry efforts in the environment, innovation and research and the 90,000-strong workforce. . . 

Rabbits: a seaside town over-run – Melanie Reid & Jill Herron:

A small South Island town is under siege from a plague of rabbits that has taken up residence over the entire area

The seaside village of Mōeraki in North Otago paints a pretty picture from a distance but up close, under the buildings, on the hills and along roadsides, things quickly get less attractive.

The place is infested with thousands of rabbits and residents are fighting a losing battle.

“They’re living under houses, they’re living under trailers, water tanks, boats, they’re literally everywhere. It’s ridiculous,” says local resident Ross Kean. . .

Champion of Cheese Awards 2021:

This year’s New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards has recognised long term favourites as well as newcomers among its 27 trophy recipients.

The four Supreme Champion awards went to Kāpiti and Mahoe, two highly awarded cheesemakers with a proud history; The Drunken Nanny with 11 years of cheesemaking, as well as Annie & Geoff Nieuwenhuis of Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese who were named MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker after only three years of commercial cheesemaking.

The trophies were awarded at a Gala Awards Dinner at SkyCity in Hamilton last night (Wednesday 05 May 2021) and followed judging of more than 310 cheeses from 35 cheese companies at Wintec in February. Chief Judge Jason Tarrant led a panel of 32 judges to assess the cheeses. . . 

2021 Peter Snow Memorial Award Goes To Kerikeri GP:

Kerikeri GP Dr Grahame Jelley has been announced as the 2021 recipient of the Peter Snow Memorial Award.

The award was announced at the National Rural Health Conference at Wairakei Resort in Taupō on Friday 30 April 2021.

The Peter Snow Memorial Award honours Dr Peter Snow and his contribution to rural communities as well as recognising an individual for their outstanding contribution to rural health either in service, innovation or health research.

Grahame, currently a GP in Kerikeri, was nominated for his service as a rural General Practitioner and his dedication to rural health for more than 30 years. . .

Stunning high-country grazing farm with multiple recreational benefits placed on the market for sale:

One of the most picturesque livestock farms in the South Island – with landscape for hosting a plethora of recreational activities and stunning views in conjunction with a sheep and beef grazing operation – has been placed on the market for sale.

The Larches – located at the entrance to the Cardrona Valley some seven kilometres south-west of Wanaka in Central Otago – is a 976-hectare farm spread over a mix of irrigated Cardrona River flats, along with lower north/north-west facing terraces and rocky outcrop hills climbing up to the skyline of the Pisa Range.

The Larches currently runs half-bred sheep and Angus-cross cattle. Located at 446 Cardrona Valley Road on the outskirts of Wanaka leading into the Crown Range, The Larches freehold farm is now on the market for sale by deadline treaty through Bayleys Wanaka, with offers closing on June 4, 2021. . .


Rural round-up

28/04/2021

Migrants adding value to NZ dairy industry – Sudesh Kissun:

Migrant workers add value to the dairy industry and Philippines-born Waikato farm manager Christopher Vila is a prime example.

In two weeks, he joins 10 other regional farm manager winners at the New Zealand Dairy Awards national finals in Hamilton. Vila is Waikato’s Farm Manager of the Year and will be gunning for the national title.

A trained vet, he moved to New Zealand 13 years ago.

Starting as a farm assistant on a 1,200-cow farm in Reporoa he worked his way up to his current role sevent years ago – farm manager on a 340-cow family trust farm in Ohaupo, outside Hamilton. . . 

$8 opening forecast may be on the cards – Sudesh Kissun:

Strong dairy prices point to a record opening forecast farmgate milk price for the next season.

Westpac is forecasting an $8/kgMS opening forecast and ASB has boosted its opening forecast by 20c to $7.50/kgMS.

With five weeks left to run, the 2020-21 season is wrapping up and the next two Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions are likely to have little impact on this season’s farmgate milk price. Last week’s GDT auction saw a 0.4% rise in whole milk powder prices.

Dairy prices are holding most of their gains from earlier in the year and remain remarkably high, a good omen for the coming season. . . 

Fruit picking subsidy fails to lure kiwis – Business Desk:

The Government’s Seasonal Work Scheme (SWS) subsidising jobseekers has lured just 195 new fruit pickers to move to where work is.

Pre-pandemic, temporary migrant workers from the Pacific Islands were the backbone of the horticultural seasonal workforce but with border closures preventing their entry, the Government tried to attract New Zealanders to where the work was.

Announced in November, the SWS aimed to fill the shortage by giving financial aid and support to people relocating for horticultural work. This was alongside other measures, such as bringing beneficiaries into picking jobs.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni is hesitant to label the scheme a success or a failure. . . 

Heifer winner encouraging others – Mary-Jo Tohill:

When you have won as many heifer titles as David Wilson, you would be forgiven for thinking why bother with all the effort of entering competitions.

He has won the South Island-wide title three times and been runner-up twice.

However, the gongs are not everything, says the South Taieri dairy farmer who has lost count of the number of southern district competitions he has won with his purebred Friesian calves.

To the fourth-generation farmer, it is all about taking part. . . 

Farmers encouraged to look to hemp to improve sustainable farming practices :

Representatives of New Zealand’s industrial hemp industry are encouraging farmers to move to growing hemp as a way to reduce their impact on the environment.

Chair of the New Zealand Hemp Industry Association Richard Barge says that the hemp industry offers a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and urges farmers to learn more about hemp at the upcoming iHemp Summit & Expo in Rotorua this May.

“For years now the Government has been pushing for farmers to publicly address their sustainability – from the pollution of waterways to their greenhouse gas emissions. Hemp can help alleviate some of these issues, working to create a smaller environmental footprint.”

Barge says that hemp has impressive cleansing properties which could help tackle polluted farmland and filter runoff that’s going into our waterways. . . 

Industry groups work with tertiary sector to attract jobseekers into horticulture jobs:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc. and GoHort have teamed up with eCampus NZ to launch 10 free online courses to attract New Zealanders into roles in the horticulture industry.

The short, online taster courses introduce learners to the career opportunities available in horticulture. They cover a range of topics, from health and safety to leading a team in an orchard or packhouse.

The courses are being promoted through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Opportunity Grows Here campaign, which was launched last year to help New Zealanders find employment opportunities in the primary sector.

The course content was developed collaboratively by horticulture industry groups, with support from eCampus NZ. . . 


Rural round-up

01/03/2021

Hawke’s Bay farmer ready to repay feed favour if dry conditions worsen this summer :

A Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer is emphasising the importance of having a buffer of feed to get through tough seasons.

Bruce Goldstone farms 4000 breeding ewes, 1000 hoggets and 450 cattle on 1045 hectares at Putorino, north of Napier.

He started running short of feed for his livestock as a drought gripping the entire North Island early last year continued to worsen.

Goldstone turned to the national feed coordination service, funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), for help. . .

Trek has kept him coming back for 29 years – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Gold fever hits Otago and South Canterbury as the annual Otago Goldfields Cavalcade gets under way this weekend, finishing in Twizel on March 6. Among the participants is Catlins farmer Marty Miller (79) who is saddling up for the 29th time. He talks to Mary-Jo Tohill.

Marty Miller gingerly eases himself into the saddle.

This year will be the Owaka farmer’s 29th Otago Goldfields Cavalcade.

He has had a bit of back trouble in the past few weeks and has been on a stick, not to mention painkillers. . . 

Too many beehives, not enough buyers. New Zealand’s great honey glut – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits of selling pots of gold in recent years, but now there’s a surplus of non-mānuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. The NZ Herald’s Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey, in this Herald Premium article.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar.

Today, monofloral mānuka honey is still a good earner at $55/kg compared to less than $20/ kg, and in some cases as low as $5/kg, for non-mānuka varieties like the staple clover honey. . .

Records fall at Lawrence dog sale – Shawn McAvinue:

Farmers were loving bidding for working dogs as records were broken in South Otago on Valentine’s Day.

The highest price paid for working dog at the Lawrence Gymkhana Club dog sale was $8700 for huntaway Lace.

The 3-year-old bitch was sold by Ali Brenssell.

Mr Brenssell, of Ardgowan, north of Oamaru, said he was “very happy” with the sale.

“She was well worth the price.” . . 

Massey student wins scholarship :

Massey University student Sophie Ridd is this year’s recipient of Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

The 19 year-old is about to start her second year of study towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus. She says the scholarship will reduce her financial burden and open up new opportunities for her to pursue tertiary study at higher levels.

“I am absolutely stoked to receive this support as it will enable me to pursue my passion even further.”

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship provides the recipient with $5,000 per year for each year of a student’s undergraduate study in agriculture or horticulture disciplines at Lincoln or Massey University. The recipient will also be offered the opportunity for paid holiday work at Ravensdown if available. . . 

Non dairy ‘milks’ say they’re ‘healthier’. That’s mostly wrong – Paul Kita:

First, deep breath.

And now…

Soy, pea, almond, cashew, potato, oat, hemp, peanut, lactose-free, coconut, rice, flax, pistachio, banana, “plant,” hazelnut, quinoa, annnnnnnd unless there’s another alternative milk out there (and there’s probably another alternative milk out there), that’s all the alternative milk out there.

Then, to further leave you winded, within each of these styles of non-dairy milk alternatives, there exists several brands each marketing that they’re somehow better for you than whatever dreck the competitors offer. . .


Rural round-up

16/02/2021

Hackles rise over stock reduction numbers – Hamish MacLean:

A possible 15% reduction in livestock numbers on red meat and dairy farms by 2030 could break New Zealand’s under-pressure agriculture industry, some farmers fear.

While industry groups are taking a cautious approach to the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice package, its preferred path includes reduced livestock numbers by 2030.

And the already weary farming sector feared an urban-centred Government could again make changes for rural New Zealand that did not match what was happening on the ground, Riverton sheep farmer Leon Black said.

Mr Black, a former Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director, said any policy that led to fewer farms in the South would be catastrophic for rural communities. . . 

Concern over land reform changes – Annette Scott:

Changes proposed in the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill threaten the viability of high country farming for pastoral lessees.

The Bill proposes to amend the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and the Land Act 1948, to end tenure review and redesign the regulatory system to deliver improved Crown pastoral outcomes.

But farmers say the Bill is poorly drafted, placing unreasonable limitations on day-to-day farming activities for pastoral leaseholders.

Farmers will be bogged down in red tape and environmental outcomes would go backwards. . . 

Zespri faces a China conundrum – Keith Woodford:

China is New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit market. Growth of this market has been spectacular with the Zespri-owned SunGold variety much-loved by Chinese consumers. The problem is that the Chinese are also growing at least 4000 hectares of SunGold without the permission of Zespri. 

That compares to about 7000 hectares of SunGold grown in New Zealand.

The question now facing Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is what to do about it.  There are no easy solutions.

This issue is something I discussed with local folk in the kiwifruit-growing regions of China way back in the years between 2012 and 2015. It did not need an Einstein to work out that the SunGold budwood was already there. . . 

Kiwifruit settlement a token, but an important one – Nikki Mandow:

This weekend’s settlement over PSA kiwifruit disease compensation is good news for the taxpayer, but bad news for business owners, particularly farmers. 

On Saturday morning, a group of kiwifruit growers announced they had reached a settlement with the Crown over damages they suffered after virulent kiwifruit vine disease PSA entered New Zealand. The bacteria arrived in 2009 in imported Chinese pollen because of a Ministry of Primary Industries biosecurity blunder at the border, and it devastated the industry.

The growers wanted $450 million, plus interest, to compensate them for the destruction of their orchards; in some cases the destruction of their livelihoods. 

But late on Friday night, with the final stage of a seven year-long court battle due to start in the Supreme Court today, they settled for $40 million. . . 

‘Absolutely gutted’: Maniototo A&P Show cancelled over alert level move – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Maniototo A&P Show, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled.

Secretary Janine Smith said organisers made the tough decision to cancel the show after the Government moved the nation to Alert Level 2 and Auckland to Alert Level 3 on Sunday night.

The situation was being assessed by the Government every 24 hours. . . 

Cattle game is trusted; but society still wants oversight – Shan Goodwin:

Cattle producers enjoy a high level of trust by the Australian community but that does not equate to support for a relaxed regulatory environment.

This is the key finding from first-of-its-kind independent research into public perceptions of the cattle industry’s environmental performance, from a team headed up by The University of Queensland.

The work points to the need for a rethink of how the industry sometimes frames the relationship between environmental regulation and community trust.

A well-designed regulatory framework that is developed with the engagement of key stakeholders enables the demonstration of sound environmental performance and should not be framed as a burden, or the result of society being ‘on our back’, says lead researcher Dr Bradd Witt. . . 


Rural round-up

29/01/2021

Covid minces meat prices – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmgate red meat prices are taking a hit as Covid continues to disrupt dining out businesses around the world.

Beef prices are down 16% on a year ago, lamb prices down around 18% in New Zealand dollar terms.

ASB economist Nat Keall says it’s a more muted start to the year for beef and lamb prices when compared to dairy.

Keall notes that lamb prices in particular aren’t too far above the lows seen in the immediate post-pandemic churn.

Dog detective sniffs out pest plants in Wairarapa – Marcus Anselm:

New Zealand’s leading dog detective was unleashed in Wairarapa’s wetlands on Tuesday as part of the fight against invasive toxic weeds.

Bailey is part of the Department of Conservation’s [DOC] Conservation Dogs Programme.

The seven-year-old boxer-short haired pincer cross, and her pal Wink, are trained by Graeme Miller, a 38-year DOC veteran and canine specialist based in Invercargill.

The age-old partnership of man and dog is augmented by high-speed technology. . . 

 

High dairy prices push up Synlait payout forecast by 13% :

Speciality dairy company Synlait Milk is lifting its milk payout forecast by nearly 13 percent following strong world prices.

The company has increased its base milk price by 30 cents to $7.20 a kilo of milk solids from $6.40/kg.

Synlait national milk supply manager David Williams said dairy prices had risen strongly in recent months and were expected to stay around current levels for the rest of the season. . . 

New Years honours recognise QEII covantors:

A new year brings with it the New Year’s Honours list, where New Zealanders who have made significant contributions to their communities are recognised and thanked for their workWe are incredibly honoured to have several QEII covenantors on the New Year’s honours list this year and are proud to celebrate their achievements along with the rest of the amazing individuals on the honours list.  

Gillian Adshead and Kevin Adshead 
Gillian and Kevin Adshead were both awarded The Queen’s Service Medal for their services to conservation.  
 
The Adsheads are conservation champions in their community, connecting with other landowners and farmers to support and encourage conservation practises. They are both QEII covenantors and started the Mataia Restoration Project in 2005, which focuses on pest control on their 1,300-hectare family farm.  
 
Their efforts allowed for kiwi to return to Mataia in 2013 and following this, the pair foundethe Forest Bridge Trust.  . . 

Pernod Ricard winemakers selects Trellis to dynamically predict yield, quality and timing of grape harvest:

 Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the premium wine division of Pernod Ricard, today announced that food system intelligence innovator Trellis will support its business and supply chain operations by providing accurate grape yield, quality, harvest timing and procurement cost prediction across Australia and New Zealand.

“As we continue to lead the wine industry into the digital era, we are committed to working with artificial intelligence (AI) innovators that are reimagining global supply chains. We were impressed by Trellis’s expertise in the industry and proven ability to scale across complex business units and multiple geographies,” noted Alex Kahl, who is leading the project and the optimization of technology across operations for Pernod Ricard Winemakers. “We are excited to give our teams the ability to more accurately predict risks and uncover new opportunities for efficiency.”

A leading advocate for advanced supply and demand prediction, Pernod Ricard Winemakers expanded the deployment of Trellis across its grape supply network throughout New Zealand and Australia.  . . 

View From the Paddock: Ag – lead the exodus we need – Bess O’Connor :

I can hardly bring myself to talk about 2020 or the stupidity that continues to go on with borders.

They somewhat resemble the dozen, hair-trigger mouse traps around my house, snapping closed in the dead of night for absolutely no reason, as a hollow and unproductive threat to the mice going about their business around them.

Last year demonstrated clearly how overlooked and disregarded our ‘small community’ of 2 million rural Australians is.

Yet, in the rubble of a country that no longer knows who it is, where it’s going, or how the hell to get there; we might be the only unified, borderless team left. . . 


Rural round-up

21/01/2021

Covenanters queue up for Trust action – Hugh Stringleman:

The QE11 National Trust is getting close to 5000 approved and registered covenants over nearly 200,000 hectares at the beginning of its fifth decade in existence.

The trust also has a new chair, former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, and three new directors appointed by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage towards the end of an eventful year.

The 2020 annual report to June 30 disclosed a total of 4761 registered and formalised covenants, up 110 during the financial year, with a further 342 underway. . . 

Jerseys fit the environmental bill :

Jersey cows have featured prominently over the years among the four generations on John Totty’s 465ha property at Staveley.

The Jersey stud on farm was founded by Mr Totty’s grandfather — a passionate Jersey breeder — in the early 1960s. Back then the farm milked 150 cows and ran dairy replacements, sheep, beef and crop.

When Mr Totty’s parents took over the business the farm was expanded. They bought a neighbouring property in 1995 which was converted the following year.

A Friesian herd was bought and for 20 years the property supported a 750-cow herd while continuing to run young stock. . . 

Japan warns it will block NZ honey shipments if glyphosate limits breached – Charlie Dreaver:

Japan is warning it will stop importing New Zealand honey if it continues to find the weed killer glyphosate during border testing.

New Zealand’s global honey exports totalled $490 million last year, with almost $68m of that sent to Japan.

Japan is now testing all honey from New Zealand at the border, after it detected glyphosate for the second time through random testing.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has told the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that if 5 percent of imported honey exceeds its glyphosate limit, it will stop the honey coming into Japan. . . 

Gulls take to new life on the farm – Toni Williams:

Thousands of endangered black-billed gulls that usually nest at Ashburton’s State Highway One bridge have found a new home on a dairy farm at Lauriston — or at least some of them have.

The land-locked site is nowhere near the Ashburton River, their former home, and its risky riverbed, where flooding, human or canine activity disrupts nests.

Rather the birds are happily tucked in between an effluent pond and the dairy shed.

Sharemilkers Ali van Polanen and Andrew Black said the birds were first noticed on November 14. . . 

Fewer possums on Mt Pironga following 1080 drop – Doc :

A successful 1080 operation has led to fewer possums on Mount Pironga near Te Awamutu, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says.

DOC dropped 1080 over 14,000 hectares of land in September.

The work was part of long-term conservation efforts at the site, an important home to forest birds, insects, lizards and plants. . . 

Early positive start to onion season:

The 2021 New Zealand export onion season is off to an early and positive start.

‘Amongst all the turmoil created by Covid and the weather, it’s great to be able to report that exports of New Zealand onions to Indonesia are underway, two months earlier than last year,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘This is thanks to New Zealand government trade officials’ efforts to keep trade open and a decision by Indonesian officials to release quota early.

’78 tonnes of onions harvested earlier in January left for Indonesia last week. While this is small, it signals the season is underway early, and prices reflect the additional costs of growing and exporting during a pandemic.’ . . 

Autogrow announces spin-out of AI farming company WayBeyond to accelerate growth:

Autogrow has unveiled a corporate reorganization as part of a long-term business strategy which will see the organization split into two separate entities with the launch of digital farming company WayBeyond.

WayBeyond Limited (WayBeyond) led by CEO and Founder Darryn Keiller, will focus on the global expansion of digital farm solutions for large scale, multi-site farms to optimize farming productivity. Autogrow, now under the management of Acting General Manager Rod Britton, will focus on continuing the global growth of the automation and control business for small to medium growers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and one I’m proud to have brought to fruition – the growth of an existing business in Autogrow and the creation of a new and transformational one in WayBeyond. A journey like this is a team sport, with a highly talented team, committed investors, and government and industry collaborators; the dream has become a reality,” explains Mr. Keiller. . . 


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