Rural round-up

20/03/2021

NZ apple volumes fall: millions will be lost in exports:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing all apple, pear and nashi growers in New Zealand, has released an updated crop estimate for 2021.

In January, the industry was forecasting a gross national crop of 558,672 metric tonnes, 5% down on the 2020 harvest. The export share of the gross crop was forecast to be 374,751 metric tonnes (20.8 million cartons), 7% down on 2020, reflecting a shortage of available labour and significant hail events in the Nelson and Central Otago regions.

“As we near peak harvest, it has become increasingly clear that we will not achieve those initial forecasts”, NZAPI CEO Alan Pollard said. . .

Hort industry wants workers not workshops :

“What a slap in the face to the horticulture and viticulture sectors today’s $350,000 ‘wellbeing support package’ is as they face losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron and Immigration spokesperson James McDowall.

“These people don’t need workshops, they need workers,” says Mr Cameron.

“To get this pitiful news in a week when it’s become clear that Hawke’s Bay is short of thousands of workers and estimates its apple losses alone will run to between $100 and $200 million this year is just sickening.

“The Government doesn’t seem to understand the lifecycle of plants, having rationalised that a sector that had ‘had it good’ for a number of years could suck up one rotten harvest. . . 

Immigration NZ overturns decision on sheep scanners’ work visas – Riley Kennedy:

Immigration New Zealand has given the green light to 11 foreign sheep scanners to help New Zealand farmers.

Sheep scanning happens around April and May and is the pregnancy test for ewes due to give birth this coming spring.

It comes after the scanners’ applications for critical worker visas were previously denied, however, an Immigration NZ spokesperson said it recently received new information about the availability of sheep scanners in New Zealand.

The department then informed employers who had applied for workers and had been declined, that their requests would be reconsidered. . .

Make sureyou have a grazing contract in time for winter:

The Winter Grazing Action Group (WGAG) is stressing to farmers the importance of having grazing contracts in place for the coming season.

The group was set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last year in response to a report from the Winter Grazing Taskforce, which made 11 recommendations to help ensure that animal welfare became a key part of all winter grazing decisions in the pastoral supply chain.

He said the action group’s job was to recommend ways to improve animal welfare following what he called “a lot of concern about managing winter grazing for cattle, sheep, and deer across the country”. The group’s 15 members represent industry organisations, government, vets, farmers, and other rural professionals. It is supported in its work by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

WGAG Chair, Lindsay Burton said the group was keen to emphasise the need for grazing contracts for livestock when grazed off farm to make sure health, nutrition and welfare needs are understood and managed especially during periods of greater risk like winter. . . 

MPI seeks feedback on new organic regime:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seeking feedback on proposed regulations for organic primary sector products.

“The proposals set out the details of the proposed regime for organic food, beverages, and plant and animal products,” said Fiona Duncan, director of food skills and science policy.

The proposals outline the processes that would apply to businesses marketing organic products. Producers and processors of organic primary products, as well as importers, exporters and domestic-focused businesses, will be interested in how these proposals could apply to them.

“With these proposals, consumers would be better able to tell which products are organic and make more informed choices about what they buy,” said Ms Duncan. . . 

 

Harness the power of earthworms – Paul Reed Hepperly:

When moist, practically all soils from tundra to lowland tropics support the activity of earthworms. Largely unseen, earthworms are a diverse, powerful workforce with the capacity to transform soil into fertile ground.

Found in 27 families, more than 700 genera and greater than 7,000 species, earthworms vary from about 1 inch to 2 yards long. Their living mass outweighs all other animal life forms in global soils. Although we may view earthworms as being both prolific and productive, do we fully appreciate our human capability to favor their beneficial efforts as allies allowing farms and gardens to flourish? I think not.

Earthworms’ powerful activities include promoting favorable soil structure, increasing biological diversity, improving soil function, balancing nutrients needed by plants and animals and optimizing living soil. . . 


Rural round-up

01/06/2020

Forestry Bill lambasted at select committee – Gavin Evans:

Forest owner Ernslaw One says the Government’s planned regulation of the industry may stall four projects the firm was considering to expand its processing capacity.

The potential powers the Government was seeking – to intervene in the log sales and contracts of forest owners – were ‘‘absurd’’ and went against any sensible business practices, chief executive Paul Nicholls told Parliament’s environment select committee this week.

Ernslaw One has forests throughout the country, including in the Coromandel, Gisborne, Ruapehu and Manawatu-Rangitikei regions, and Otago and Southland. . .

Hawke’s Bay $1m drought funding ‘doesn’t go very far’ – Rural Advisory Group – Tom Kitchin:

$1 million will be divided between thousands of Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with one of the worst droughts in a century.

The mayoral relief fund is expected to get the final sign off today and be on its way to farmers.

Hadley Boyle of Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay has been working through the night to make sure his farm survives.

His trees are turning orange, his dams have dried up and his cattle are not reaching their target weight. . . 

We must protect our soil, it is precious – Selva Selvarajah:

Elite soil is a disappearing priceless national asset, writes  Selva Selvarajah.

During the unprecedented and unexpected Covid-19 crisis, the supermarkets and our supply chains have served us well with an ample supply of fruits and vegetables.

Who produces our fruits and vegetables? Our horticultural farming sector, which employs more than 60,000 workers.

In 2016, we consumed $2.1billion worth of our own fruits and vegetables and exported $3.1billion worth. We consume more than 90% of our vegetables produced in New Zealand. We do import small amount of selected fruits and vegetables. With our growing population and our annual vegetable demand nearing one million tonnes, we are likely to import more. . .

Good winter grazing urged as cold weather closes in:

The Winter Grazing Action Group says farmers are taking steps to improve wintering systems despite the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions and weather events.

Action group chair Dr Lindsay Burton said it was important everyone worked together to ensure farmers had the right tools to get through winter.

“Ensuring you follow a gradual transition plan when moving your animals from pasture to crop and back again will help prevent issues. This is particularly important for cattle wintered on fodderbeet,” says Dr Burton. . . 

Proper nutrition pre-calving boost yield – Natalie Chrystal:

If milk fever is keeping you or your staff awake at night, you are not alone.

Many New Zealand dairy farms grapple with down cows at calving with research showing that on average between 2-4% of all cows across New Zealand exhibit the typical clinical signs of milk fever – so called ‘downer cows’.

Most farmers recognise that it is not only these clinical cases that cost time and money, but the estimated 30 to 40% of cows that are sub-clinically hypocalcaemic that really impact your bottom line as a result of significant negative effects on milk production.  . . 

Why do we fear the food we eat? – Jack Bobo:

Our food has never been safer, so why is it that consumers have never been more concerned? And here’s another paradox: At a time when consumers have never known more about nutrition, why is it that obesity is at an all-time high?

From fad diets to panic buying, the decisions we make about the foods we buy and the foods we eat are often the result of hidden influences of which we are little aware. The rise of “clean eating” and the marketing of “natural” foods has not made us feel safer. Instead, these trends leave us less certain and less confident in the food choices we make.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made people think a lot about where their food comes over the last few months. Consumers are asking: 1) who produced their food and where 2) who picked, processed and packaged it 3) how did it get to the food processor and then to the grocery store, and, finally 4) who placed it on the shelves? . .


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