Rural round-up

June 30, 2019

Bovis takes a human toll – Sally Rae:

Next month will mark two years since bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was first confirmed on a South Canterbury dairy farm. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae speaks to Waimate farmer Carl Jensen, who has first-hand experience of the outbreak.

“As soon as you get that phone call, ‘hi, it’s MPI’, the anxiety journey has started.”

Carl Jensen has traversed that road – with many twists and turns – since becoming caught up in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in April last year.

The Waimate farmer has come out the other side; restrictions to his farming operation have been lifted, compensation has finally been paid and his business is back on track. . .

‘M. bovis’ anguish: ‘frank’ feedback helping in long process – Sally Rae:

For those farmers most affected by Mycoplasma bovis, the cure may very well seem worse than the disease, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

“We all need to do everything we can to support them, and that starts with us continuously making sure our systems and processes are working well, and then working in partnership with farmers to get this job done,” he said.

MPI regularly talked to the likes of Waimate farmer Carl Jensen and other farmers, who gave “frank and robust” feedback on how it could improve and that was a very important part of making the programme work. . .

Rat numbers are at a 48-year high and the environment is suffering – Leah Tebbutt:

Rat numbers have exploded across New Zealand and it is no different in Rotorua with some saying numbers are at a 48-year high.

Pest controllers’ phones are ringing off the hook due to an outbreak caused by a mega mast Forest and Bird say.

A mega mast is an over-abundance of plants that have a high seed production, in turn providing food for pests.

The problem began close to four months ago and there are ways to avoid a problem like this in future said Alpeco managing director Heiko Kaiser. . . 

Robust process vital in DIRA review – John Aitkinson:

A robust review process is needed for the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), writes Rotorua/Taupo Federated Farmers Dairy Section chairman John Atkinson.

DIRA is a major part of dairy farming.

It is an important tool in the food chain that allows you to enjoy your cheese, your latte or if you’re partial to it, New Zealand made dairy milk chocolate.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) was a special Act passed by the Helen Clark-led Government enabling the formation of Fonterra in 2001. . . .

A tractor for every day of the week – Samantha Tennent:

Manawatu farmer Reuben Sterling would much rather be behind the wheel of a tractor than at the shed milking.

His preference for tractors goes back to when he was growing up on the family farm at Rangiotu. He would often head out with his dad Rob and sit next to him while he mowed paddocks and did other jobs.

“I guess every farm kid wants to be like their dad and drive the tractor,” Sterling says.

“I remember being about six and going to get the cows in for milking on my own with the four-wheeler. . . 

Shearing and Woolhandling World Championships: Meet the Kiwi team

The 18th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are being held at Le Dorat, France, next week.

Teams from around the world, including New Zealand, will compete. The competitions take place on July 4-7.

The Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Team will be there. Check out their profiles below. . . 

‘Our small towns are toppling like dominoes: why we should cut some farmers a checkRobert Leonard and Matt Russell:

How we address an expanding list of crises related to global warming is the most demanding question of our day. So far, our approaches have been piecemeal, enormously costly and largely unsuccessful.

A common denominator for many of these crises is in how we use the land, and that is where we will find the solution. A simple, cheap and relatively quick fix is to pay farmers and ranchers for environmental services. Not traditional government cost-share programs; we mean cut them a check when they provide measurable environmental services. It would cost Americans pennies per meal.

We already provide enormous taxpayer support for farmers to stabilize our food supply. The Trump administration’s trade bailouts for farmers to the tune of $28 billion in 2018 and 2019 are examples. Unfortunately, right now, farmers who invest in conservation practices are at a competitive disadvantage to those who don’t.  . . 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2017

Young Kiwis needed to help shift NZ’s primary industry focus to environmentally friendly horticulture:

OECD warns New Zealand’s current economic growth model approaching environmental limits

More young Kiwis are needed to roll up their sleeves and help save New Zealand’s environment, particularly our waterways, by participating in careers that expand horticulture as the higher value land use activity of choice. This needs to be given considerable urgency following last month’s warning from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) that New Zealand’s economic growth model is approaching its environmental limits.

Chair of the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 Competition’, Elle Anderson, says she hopes that the OECD’s warning that New Zealand’s economic growth model was approaching its environmental limits will make more young people choose to make a difference with a career in horticulture . . . 

More can be done to protect New Zealand’s waterways:

Protecting New Zealand’s waterways are a priority and dairy is one of many sectors that needs to play a role.

The Ministry for the Environment’s Our fresh water 2017 report released today, Thursday 27 April, identified that more needs to be done to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen and E.coli entering the waterway, in both rural and urban settings.

New Zealand’s dairy farmers have been on this journey for many years now, and the improvements to the quality of their waterways are beginning to show. Over the past five years, dairy farmers have built 26,000 kms of fences to protect waterways on their farms. That’s the equivalent of a journey from downtown Auckland to the steps of the United Nations in New York – and almost all the way back again. . . 

‘Our fresh water 2017’ highlights the need for collective action:

The release of ‘Our fresh water 2017’ is a call to action for all New Zealanders, says IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis. The report measures fresh water quality, quantity and flows, biodiversity and cultural health.

“This report highlights the impact we all have on fresh water resources. I have no doubt it will provoke further finger-pointing at the rural sector, but the reality is, all human activities are placing pressure on our fresh water environments and we must all do our bit to limit and reverse those impacts. ‘Our fresh water 2017’ is a call to action for communities to work together to implement sustainable solutions.”

Mr Curtis said that whilst the report contained some good data on the impacts of certain activities in specific catchments, it was constrained by a lack of consistent data and knowledge gaps – particularly around irrigation. While the report shows 51% of the water allocated by councils is for irrigation, it was not able to determine how much of the allocated water was actually used because data quality and the completeness of records on actual takes is inconsistent. . . 

World Championships big earner for region:

The 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, held in Invercargill in February, was widely heralded as the best event in the competition’s 40-year history.

Now, independent analysis has backed that up, revealing a $6.78 million to $7.48 million economic impact to the Southland economy.

The economic impact report, commissioned by the event and undertaken by Venture Southland, has revealed that international visitors to New Zealand for the event stayed an average of 31.3 days in New Zealand, 14.5 of those in Southland. . . 

Lactoferrin receives GRAS Notice for use in Infant Formula:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) has been given the green light to export its lactoferrin to the United States for use in infant formula and toddler formula.

Synlait is the second company in the world to receive a GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) notice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use lactoferrin in these applications.

A GRAS notice is added to the FDA Register once a food ingredient is scientifically proven to be safe for its intended use. . . 

US food guru to speak at horticulture conference:

American food and agribusiness guru Roland Fumasi has today been announced as one of the keynote speakers for the Horticulture Conference 2017, on 14 July in Tauranga.

“Roland Fumasi is well-known worldwide for his work for Rabobank’s RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness group,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“He understands the consumer-led market that growers are providing for and the challenges around that, so his presentation will be of great interest at our conference and beyond. . . 

Dairy and lamb to China boost March exports:

Exports rose $446 million (11 percent) when compared with March 2016 to reach $4.6 billion in March 2017, Stats NZ said today.

Exports to China in the March 2017 month were valued at $1.1 billion, up $326 million (43 percent). Milk powder, butter and cheese (dairy), and lamb led the rise. Dairy rose $114 million and lamb rose $57 million.

“China continues to be our top destination for goods exports, and accounts for a quarter of the total dairy exports value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “This March, exports to China exceeded $1 billion for the first March month since 2014.” . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2017

Nominees announced for inaugural Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards:

National and world champions in traditional sports like shearing, wood chopping, fencing, tree climbing and gumboot throwing feature among the nominees for the inaugural Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards taking place next month in Palmerston North.

Organisers announced the full list of finalists in four separate categories today ahead of the awards dinner at Awapuni Racecourse on Friday 10th March, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games where several of the nominees will be competing. . . 

A spectacular event:

Puns aside, last week’s World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill were sheer brilliance.

It has been widely lauded as the best event in the championship’s 40-year history, with ILT Stadium Southland – dubbed the $40million shearing shed – a most spectacular venue.

Hats off to the organisers for making the big call to bring it south for the first time and to the Southland community for embracing it wholeheartedly.

Christchurch was originally to be the venue but, when it became evident that guaranteeing the required supply of sheep at the right time could be a problem, Invercargill was mooted. . . 

Emotional shearing win – Nicole Sharp:

”This one’s for Joanne Kumeroa,” an emotional Joel Henare said winning the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships woolhandling title in Invercargill on Saturday night.

Dedicating the win to his mentor and friend who passed away in 2015, the Dunedin-based woolhandler, originally from Gisborne, had a tear in his eye as he accepted the winning trophy.

The now two-time world woolhandling champion proved he is the best in the world, beating fellow New Zealand team mate Mary-Anne Baty, Cook Islands representative Tina Elers, of Mataura, and Sophie Huff, of Australia, by 50 points to fulfil his life long dream – again.

”This is a life long dream, to become the world champion.” . . 

Mongolian shearer’s challenge – Sally Rae:

When Enkhnasan Chuluunbaatar began learning how to shear a sheep, it was a two-fold challenge.

Not only did he have to come to grips with using a shearing machine but he was also learning to speak English at the same time.

Fast forward a few years and Mr Chuluunbaatar represented Mongolia at the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill last week, in a one-man team which was managed by his Kiwi wife Zoe Leetch.

It was the first time Mongolia had had a team in the championships and it was a proud moment for the pair, who were accompanied by their children Tushinbayar (4) and Temulen (2). . . 

Remarkable success story to go on – Sam McIvor:

There’s been a bit of talk lately about the decline of the sheep industry. In particular, that the sheep flock is half what it was in 1990.

But there’s a story hidden in the numbers and it’s not a bad one.

In fact, it’s a most remarkable story about the transformation of an industry from behind the farmgate and into the market.

The rise and rise of New Zealand sheep numbers was caused by a number of things dating back to the early 1930s.

Our dramatic expansion of farm exports started as post-war demand was strong from the home country, Britain, for meat and wool. . .

New report shows benefits of investing in stock water systems:

A new study released today on the use of reticulated stock water systems shows major environmental and economic gains for farmers, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“This is the first study that has ever been done to quantify the benefits of installing an on-farm stock water system on hill country, and it shows excellent results,” says Mr Guy.

The study involved investment analysis of 11 hill country sheep and beef farms across New Zealand who had invested in stock water systems on their properties. . . 

LIC Innovation Farm to host Farming2020 during Techweek17:

Drones, robotic technologies, and automated on-farm sensors – they’re all on display near Hamilton, as LIC’s Innovation Farm plays host to the agricultural showcase ‘Farming2020’.

Farming 2020 is among the signature events included as part of an inaugural three-day event, Techweek17, which takes place from Tuesday 9 May.

Wayne McNee, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) chief executive, said the company was delighted to host Farming2020 at its unique Innovation Farm in Rukuhia.

The LIC Innovation Farm included sensor technology that provided instant information on milk content being produced by its cows (commercially farmed on-site). The farm also included automated in-shed technology, including leading-edge Protrack™ herd management systems and in-line milk meters. . . 

Leadership change at Young Farmers:

A farmer is at the helm of Taranaki’s rapidly-growing Young Farmers clubs for the first time in four years.

Kaponga contract milker Matthew Herbert was elected district chairperson of Young Farmers at an AGM on Saturday.

“There’s a great vibe within our clubs currently, and I’m keen to build on that,” said Mr Herbert.

The 26-year- old was handed the reins by former insurance advisor Warwick Fleming, who held the post for a year.

Mr Fleming’s predecessor, Paul Duynhoven, is an accountant. .  

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Rural round-up

February 13, 2017

Johnny Kirkpatrick wins World Shearing Championships title – Brittany Pickett:

Napier shearer Johnny Kirkpatrick has finally won the elusive world machine shearing title.

The World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were on at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on Saturday night..

The 46-year-old had competed at the world championships three times prior to this year’s competition and said it was a hard final. . . 

Farm growth relies on good staff – Richard Rennie:

Rural employment specialist John Fegan has seen big changes in his time in the industry but yet issues he tried to address 20 years ago have still not been fundamentally fixed. While recruiting staff he also spent much time educating farmers and encouraging them to treat staff well. Richard Rennie spoke to him before his semi-retirement.

HE SPENT time in his youth skiing southern slopes as a self-confessed adrenaline junkie but John Fegan’s career was more about avoiding the cliffs and crevasses that accompany employing farm staff.

Zespri to license more SunGold kiwifruit in Italy to meet rising demand – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, New Zealand’s kiwifruit marketer, it will licence more production of its SunGold variety in Italy to meet rising demand and ensure 12-month supply.

The Tauranga-based company today said it will allocate an additional 1,800 hectares of European SunGold licence over the next three years. The first 1,200 will be in Italy and the remaining 600 hectares are still to be allocated.

Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer said the move is driven by growing year-round demand for Zespri kiwifruit. It has established supply in several northern hemisphere countries, particularly Italy and France, to ensure supply when New Zealand kiwifruit is not available. It currently exports and markets premium New Zealand kiwifruit to 56 countries around the world. . . 

New Zealand Winegrowers releases first Sustainability Report:

New Zealand Winegrowers has released the first ever report on the wine sector’s achievements in sustainability. The Report presents data collected from vineyard and winery members of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand – one of the first and world-leading sustainability programmes in the international wine sector.

The Sustainability Report highlights actions undertaken by the wine industry such as enhancing biodiversity, reducing and recycling by-products, optimising water and energy use, investing in people, protecting soil, and reducing agrichemical use. . . 

Shifting climate and Sauvignon blanc style – Can you taste the future?  – Dr Glen Creasy:

Wine is a fascinating beverage. It is the culmination of a myriad of effects on the grapevine and its fruit, decisions made by the winemaker, handling of the bottles and the time until it’s poured into your glass. It is an expression of the environment it was made in, and so therefore as the environment changes, so must the wine.

My career has focussed on how to improve the way we grow grapes so that they can be made into better wine, and more recently, how factors relating to climate change alter the way grapevines grow and subsequently, how the wine smells and tastes. The factors I’m most interested in are increases in temperature and changes in rainfall patterns, because these have a large impact on grapevines and the wine made from their fruit. . . 

The truth about coming back to the farm –  What young farmers are dying for you to know.Uptown Farms:

I just wrapped up a week of being on the road, talking with young farmers throughout the Midwest. I had committed to speaking at three different events this week, all of which catered to young farmers.

During my presentations , I shared with them the questions that consumers share with me, and tips for how they can tell their own farm story.

Without fail, this presentation evokes passion and sparks conversation among farmers, but even more noticeably among young farmers.

This week there were some very clear themes that emerged – realities of farming that our young farmers are dying for you to know. . . 

Little Brick Pastoral tells agriculture story with lego – Jennifer King:

A tiny plastic farmer wearing a wide-brimmed hat and green overalls is doing his bit to raise awareness of Australian agriculture.

He is the Lego Farmer, 4.5cm tall and becoming quite a national, if not international, celebrity as he sows the message of agriculture in schools and via social media.

The farmer spends his day working hard, fixing machinery, baling hay, checking the harvest, planting crops or hanging out with his working dog. . .

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Sir David vs PM

February 11, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has accepted champion shearer Sir David Fagan’s challenge to a sheep shearing contest.

. . . After being publicly challenged late last year by the world’s most-decorated shearer, Sir David Fagan, Bill English has duly accepted and will shear on-stage at the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at ILT Stadium Southland.

Sir David said the Prime Minister’s attendance was great news for the event.

We’re rapt. He’s always been supportive of agriculture and our industry and sport. We’re looking forward to having him and we are pretty excited to be able to host him in this venue at ILT Stadium Southland. To have the PM support the event, let alone have him take up the challenge of shearing a sheep is pretty impressive. He will be the first World leader to shear a sheep and having seen him shear before he’s going to do very well,” he said. . . 

The championships are being streamed live here. The PM and Sir David are scheduled to shear at 1:45.


Rural round-up

January 30, 2017

Farmers speak up for industry during a hostile year – Gerald Piddock:

Being named as one of Waikato’s top environmental farmers has given a platform for John Hayward and Susan O’Regan to show that agriculture is not the villain it is made out to be.

Nearly a year after being named supreme winners of the Waikato Farm Environment Awards, the couple’s farm has hosted countless individuals and groups, ranging from the former United States ambassador Mark Gilbert to cabinet ministers, MPs and school children.

O’Regan said they had tried to do their best to improve people’s understanding and perspective of dairying in what had been a pretty hostile year. . . 

Dairy strategy about more than just producing extra milk – Andrew Hoggard:

All manner of self-appointed experts have recently been making claims around the dairy industry’s strategy, and how we associate with others.

About the only thing they got right is that we actually do have a strategy. Its official title is The Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming. Its purpose is firstly to inform DairyNZ’s funding priorities, but also to co-ordinate industry action on the various strategy objectives.

The strategy is focused primarily around on-farm, but also covers domestic issues that will take into account the processors. So it’s not about telling the various processors which markets to operate in, and what products to sell. . . 

Shearing champs labour of love falling into place – Sally Rae:

“Imagine the biggest roller coaster in the world and being on it.”

That is how World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships organising committee chairman Tom Wilson describes preparing for the event in Invercargill next week.‘‘Some things have happened easily and the next minute you’ve got to really dig in with something a bit more challenging. ‘‘It is a bit of a labour of love but you work through it. Everything’s falling into place,’’ he said.

Mr Wilson, shearing great Sir David Fagan and Gavin Rowland, from Shearing Sports New Zealand, made the bid at the previous world championships in 2014 to hold the 2017 event in New Zealand. The bid was successful and planning began in earnest for the championships which will be held at the ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11. The championships have a 40-year history, dating back to when they were first held at Bath and West in England in 1977.Mr Wilson’s involvement stretches nearly as far, contesting his first world championships in Masterton in 1980. . . 

Finalist looks forward to tough competition – Sally Rae:

Alan Harvey is looking forward to next month’s Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

He is one of eight regional finalists who will compete in the event in Roxburgh on February 18. The winner will go on to the grand final in the Manawatu in July.

Organisers have touted it as shaping up to be the toughest competition of the seven regional finals nationwide. Mr Harvey (25) was fourth in the Tasman regional final last year. Brought up on a sheep and beef farm in North Otago, he joined the Five Forks Young Farmers Club when he was 15 and was involved in setting up a club at Waitaki Boys’ High School.

Summer heats up for Hawkes Bay farmers – Alexa Cook:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay are selling stock because they don’t have enough food or water for them, livestock agent John Kingston says.

Mr Kingston, who works for Carrfields, said although the region had had a good spring, weeks of wind had dried out the land.

“We normally have a dry season here but it’s getting beyond a joke now.

“Stock water is the biggest issue. Some people have had to buy water for houses. The feed is absolutely swept around most of Hawkes Bay.”

Dry weather spells trouble for Northland farmers – Sarah Robson:

Extra blankets and raincoats haven’t been far from reach in many parts of the country this summer, but farmers in Northland are worried they’re in for another prolonged dry spell.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said while there was a welcome burst of rain last week, strong winds have whisked most of the moisture away from the soil.

Dairy farmers were trying to source extra feed and looking at culling their herds. A lot of sheep and beef farmers had already de-stocked, while a wet October meant many crops had failed. . .

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