Rural round-up

03/10/2021

Don’t be complacent about agriculture’s ability to rescue us – Gareth Kiernan:

The massive increase in tourist numbers coming to New Zealand between the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is well documented, lifting from under 2.5 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2019.

But it’s perhaps less well-known that agriculture and forestry exports held their own during this period, with their share of total exports increasing from 44 per cent to 49 per cent.

The drop in “other goods” in this chart implies that the squeeze was felt more by manufactured exports than the primary sector – a trend that is not unique to the last decade.

Since Covid-19 struck, a reliance on agriculture has been the defining feature of the best-performing regional economies. . . 

New visa some relief for rural communities :

The Government’s announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa will provide some welcome relief to rural communities, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Today’s announcement of the one-off 202 Resident Visa, which creates residence pathways for approximately 9,000 primary industry workers, is excellent news and will relieve some of the stress in our rural communities,” says RWNZ board member Sharron Davie-Martin.

Davie-Martin says that RWNZ understands the one-off visa will support workers elsewhere in New Zealand in retail, teaching, health care, construction and aged care which she says must be a great reassurance to all migrant workers and their families.

“However, RWNZ is acutely aware of the pressure on the health and well-being of rural communities caused by stressed migrant workers and staff shortages. . .

Sensible solution to desperate time keeping workers on farm :

Sighs of relief all round at Federated Farmers after the announcement of a clear and achievable residency process for international workers and their families.

“I am delighted. This gives 9000 of the workers who have stayed on to help run our farms some certainty about their future,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“And they deserve it. They’ve supported us through exceptionally difficult times on farm and we are going to need them even more in the future.

“There will be big smiles in cowsheds and tractors across the country after this announcement.” . . 

Alliance welcomes decarbonisation investment

Alliance Group says decarbonisation projects at three South Island processing plants is a major boost to its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

Alliance Group and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will co-fund the projects at the co-operative’s Lorneville and Mataura plants in Southland and at Smithfield plant in Timaru. Together, the plants employ approximately 3,000 people at peak season.

As part of the decarbonisation project, Alliance will install an electrode boiler to reduce the use of existing coal fired boilers at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill, saving 11,739 tonnes of carbon per annum. . .

Soaring demand for beef drives 26 per cent increase in New Zealand red meat exports in August:

New Zealand’s red meat exports increased by more than a quarter in August compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports for August 2021 reached $650 million with the 26 per cent increase largely driven by a growth in beef exports, up 39 per cent to $299m year on year.

Exports to the top three beef markets all increased, with China up 89 per cent to $117m, the United States by 31 per cent to $102m and Japan by 31 per cent to $15 million.

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA chief executive, said volumes of beef exported during August were also historically high. . . 

‘TRY A NEW CHEESE, NEW ZEALAND!’ October’s NZ Cheese Month encourages Kiwis to try a new cheese:

Kiwis are being encouraged to try a new cheese this month to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month.

A regular event on the country’s food calendar, New Zealand Cheese Month is an initiative created and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, to draw attention to the value of the local cheese industry. NZ Cheese Month occurs in October because it’s ‘spring flush’ the early days of spring, with warmth and soil moisture creating lush, green grass for animals to feast on. Sheep and goat milking resumes and there is plenty of fresh cheese available for cheese lovers.

NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara says the country’s cheesemaking industry is constantly evolving and she’s encouraging cheese lovers to take a fresh look and try something new.

“From its beginnings with the European settlers in the early 1800s, through to the present day; the art of cheesemaking has thrived in Aotearoa thanks to the environment producing some of the world’s best milk. This is reflected in the success small and large New Zealand cheese producers have enjoyed on the international stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/08/2021

Dairy farmers sell: ‘We didn’t feel proud to be farmers anymore’ – Carmen Hall:

”Staring down” a $700,000 barrel of compliance, regulation and other costs proved to be the last straw for Welcome Bay dairy farmer Andrew McLeod.

In May 2020, he sold up and walked away from dairying and a farm that had been in his family for more than 50 years.

He’s not alone.

Farming leaders say the ”family farm is struggling to survive” amid an ”avalanche of regulations” and syndicates motivated by ”money”. . .

Precious memories of daughter, grandson – Alice Scott:

In the wake of the report on the death of Dunback farmer Nadine Thomlinson and her son Angus, Alice Scott talks to Nadine’s mother, Ann Restieaux.

Even when Nadine Tomlinson was young, she relished the physical nature of farming. She was a down-to-earth Southern girl; shy as a youngster who came out of her shell when she went to boarding school.

Her mother, Ann Restieaux, recalled her and her sister drenching lambs for their dad, Alex, while still at primary school.

“Alex would just trickle the lambs up to them and they chipped away. Nadine loved it. She was full speed ahead, she set incredibly high standards for herself and as a mother she achieved so much in her day because she just got up earlier if she needed to.” . . 

Farmers feeding thousands of Kiwis through Meat the Need:

Through the Meat the Need charity, farmers have provided more than 408,783 meals from over 883 donations in just one year. Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) talks to co-founder Siobhan O’Malley to reflect on a successful year and what’s next for the charity.

Since its inception early last year, Meat the Need has provided over 408,783 meals from over 883 donations to vulnerable people. The charity is nationwide and works to supply foodbanks with much-needed meat which is donated by farmers and processed and packaged with the help of Silver Fern Farms.

The charity was founded by South Island based farmers, Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures and Wayne Langford, also known as the YOLO farmer. Together they discovered that while there was a need for such as organisation, there was never anyone connecting willing farmers and community foodbank together to create a regular supply chain. . .

The wahine winemaker hunting for a sense of place – Charlotte Muru-Lanning:

With few Māori in the winemaking industry, and even fewer Māori women, Jannine Rickards is a rare breed. Charlotte Muru-Lanning visits her in Wairarapa.

An eye-catching bone hei matau adorns Jannine Rickard’s neck.

A fishhook symbolic of journeys that are interwoven into journeys, it’s been worn for the last 20 years, since her parents gifted it to her on her 21st birthday.

Those unexpected twists and turns that have unfurled along the way have coloured her own journey, which has brought her to where she is now, making wine in the Wairarapa.

There are just a handful of female Māori winemakers in the country, so, like her own small-batch wine, Rickards is something of a rare breed. . .

Testing efforts to keep family farm – Shawn McAvinue:

South Otago “primary school sweethearts” David and Ailsa Mackie have kept their farm in the family for more than 100 years.

The Mackie family run sheep, beef and deer on their 500ha farm Kuriwao Downs at Clinton, about 40km east of Gore.

Mrs Mackie (80) has never lived anywhere else. She was a girl when she met her future husband at Clinton School. He was a year older than her.

The couple raised five children on the farm — Brent, Copland, Jane, Rachel and Arthur. . . 

Craft and the love of learning kept this couple up late at night

Eric and Lois Muller have always loved timber and lace and the proof is in their home, which they completed themselves and which looks out on paddocks of tropical pasture. Here grows Santa Gertrudis/Hereford cross cattle, along the southern slopes of the Border Ranges at Rukenvale near Kyogle.

The interior glows with timber hues contrasted by velvet curtains backed by fine white lace and all up the presentation shows devotion to craft.

“As a kid I was self taught,” recalled 92 year Eric. “As a 12 year old I did woodwork one day a fortnight at the rural technology school at Boonah, Qld.

I went to lots of different schools in the depression. My father was a share farmer and worked wherever he could.” . . 


Rural round-up

13/07/2021

State likely to mismanage nature – Gerry Eckhoff:

Should the people be protecting New Zealand from the Government, asks Gerrard Eckhoff.

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain may enter but the King of England cannot enter — nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” — William Pitt the elder, 1763.

Two hundred and fifty years later we still have people in New Zealand (politicians and the botanical puritans) who simply do not understand the importance of that statement on the rights of the common man or women to hold property against the Crown and all its forces.

The recent controversy over significant natural areas has erupted over the identification of unmodified Maori land in Northland. The use rights to vast areas of private land have been identified for political seizure and effectively removed from private control. Most reasonable people assumed that Maori land rights were finally recognised as belonging to, and the property of, various iwi and individuals who wish little more than to exercise their rights to their land just as the rest of us do, or thought we could do. . .

Australia lures NZ”s migrant dairy staff – Gerald Piddock:

Migrant dairy workers are being lured from New Zealand to Australia by promises of residency for themselves and their families.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilkers chair Jason Herrick says his Filipino staff told him it was occurring among the migrant community.

It was also confirmed to him by farm owners he had contacted who had placed new advertisements over the past week wanting staff.

Four out of 15 of these new advertisements were due to workers leaving for Australia. The rest were because the staff had been poached by other farmers. . .

Lack of skilled staff at meat processors – Neal Wallace:

Meat processors will have to forgo further processing cuts due to a lack of skilled labour following Government changes to immigration rules, industry leaders warn.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is already short about 2500 people, including halal slaughtermen, skilled boners and butchers who have previously been recruited from overseas.

The staffing issue meant plants could not run at full capacity last season.

“What is new now is that it’s been made worse because of covid-19 and the borders being shut, meaning we can’t supplement the workforce with skilled migrant workers as we have previously been able to do,” Karapeeva said. . .

US buying up our primary industries – Farrah Hancock:

United States citizens and companies are buying up New Zealand land for farming, forestry and wine-making, an RNZ analysis reveals.

Almost 180,000 hectares of farming land was purchased or leased by foreign interests between 2010 and 2021.

During the 11-year period almost 460,000ha – a little under the size of the Auckland region – shifted out of New Zealand control through purchases, leases or rights to take forestry. For simplicity’s sake, this is referred to as bought land throughout this article.

More than 70,000ha of land was bought for dairying operations and more than 100,000 for farming other types of animals, such as beef, sheep or deer. . .

Will going meat-free really save the planet? :

Independent research by some of the world’s leading scientists shows the climate change benefits of substituting meat from the average New Zealander’s diet would only lead to a 3–4 percent decrease in an individual’s lifetime global warming impact from all activities, and could risk individuals missing out on key essential nutrients, such as iron.

The peer-reviewed research paper was developed by climate, nutrition and environmental scientists from the University of Oxford, Massey University, University of Auckland, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Riddet Institute, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka and the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has been published by the Switzerland-based Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) in the Sustainability Journal.

Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is often billed as one of the most effective ways for an individual to lower the climate impact of their lifestyle.

However, methane is a short-lived gas, whereas carbon dioxide is long-lived and, therefore, accumulates in the atmosphere. . .

Farmer to donate crop profit to mental health charities after mate’s death – John Dobson:

A Western Australian farmer touched by suicide will donate the profits from 60 hectares of his crop for the rest of his farming life to help mental health charities.

Sam Burgess, who farms near Arthur River — about 200km south-east of Perth — lost a friend to suicide last week and has dealt with his own mental health struggles in recent years.

Following his friend’s death, Mr Burgess decided to donate all profits from his 52 hectare crop to two mental health charities.

“I just want to do something,” he told ABC Great Southern. . .

 


Rural round-up

09/06/2021

Drugs, biofuel and handbags: meat byproducts are big business – Bonnie Flaws:

Meat byproducts such as tallow, collagen and blood are increasingly earning money for farmers; last year $1.6 billion worth of byproducts were exported, 17 per cent of the value of total meat exports, figures from the Meat Industry Association show.

Typically, animals are cut into four quarters for butchery of prime and secondary cuts. But it is what is known in the industry as the “fifth quarter” that has become a new focus for the sector.

Farmer co-operative Alliance Group global sales manager Derek Ramsey is responsible for extracting maximum value from the carcass and making sure every part is used.

Byproducts of the meat industry such as animal fat (tallow) are marketed as ‘‘specialty ingredients and materials’’. . . 

Wallaby eradication efforts being boosted – Rebecca Ryan:

Wallaby control efforts in Otago are being ramped up this month.

With funding from the $27 million national wallaby eradication programme, the Otago Regional Council is targeting the Kakanui Mountains, the Shag River (between Kyburn and Dunback), the Dunstan Mountains and from the Lindis Pass to Lake Hawea, using ground and aerial-based contractors to collect data on where wallabies are present, and destroy those sighted.

ORC biosecurity manager and rural liaison Andrea Howard said the long-term goal was eradication — and the council was optimistic it could be achieved.

“We’re in the privileged position of collecting information about the extent of the problem, rather than having to try and contain the problem,” Ms Howard said. . . 

Government should take lead on where carbon farming is allowed – Waitaki mayor :

The Waitaki mayor wants the government to change the rules on where carbon farming is allowed.

This week, more than 150 people attended a public meeting in Oamaru to hear about what the council can do about new proposals for carbon farming.

That is the practice of keeping the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and instead sequestering (or capturing and storing) it in, for example, pine plantations.. . 

The curious case of kill rates – Nicola Dennis:

This season’s steer and heifer kill has been off the chart, with the latest slaughter statistics (current to May 8) showing over 776,000 slaughtered throughout New Zealand since the season started in October. Compare this with last year’s record-high of 649,000hd for the same period or the five-year average of 618,000.

Depending on how you slice it, there has been an extra 127,000-158,000 of prime cattle in the supply chain this season. This is in spite of a very high prime kill last season, which probably tidied up most of the drought-affected cattle from last spring.

A boost in supply will always negatively impact farm gate beef prices. But, this season’s oversupply coincided with a major slump in processor demand driven by the shuttering of most of the world’s restaurants and by major disruptions in international shipping. This is why farm gate beef prices were struggling to surpass last year’s lockdown prices for much of the season. . . 

Meat the Need marks one-year milestone – Annette Scott:

One year on from its inception, Meat the Need has donated more than 400,000 red meat meals to food banks throughout New Zealand.

Meat the Need became a nationwide charity after being successfully piloted in Christchurch amid the covid-19 crisis.

The charity, created by YOLO Farmer Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures, enables farmers to help feed Kiwi families in need by providing the means for them to donate livestock through its charitable supply chain.

Langford says the high level of support from the farming community, alongside the support from meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF), has been key to the charity’s success. . .

New study helps reassess beef’s environmental impacts:

New research has shown how beef from temperate grassland systems provides key nutrients for human health – and how this data could help reassess the meat’s green impact.

The study examined the three pasture systems most regularly used in temperate regions – permanent pasture, grass and white clover and a short-term monoculture grass ley.

Researchers then analysed datasets from each to determine the levels of key nutrients in beef each system will provide.

Results suggest that each temperate system analysed is broadly comparable, which means temperate pasture-based beef could be treated as a single commodity in future impact considerations. . .


Rural round-up

06/05/2021

Rabbits: ‘It’s as bad as it’s ever been’ – Melanie Reid:

Rabbits are once again over-running parts of New Zealand. This week, in a series of short videos, Newsroom Investigates lays out the remarkable impacts in the south.

Farmers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on rabbit control, with some employing full time shooters. But what if you control the rabbits at your place, and next door they don’t?

For Phillip Bunn, a third generation farmer on 149 hectares of Central Otago family land, there are a lot of things that make farming in the Queenstown Wakatipu Basin tough.

But dealing with rabbits is by far the hardest part. . .

Truckers at risk crossing Mt Ruapehu bridge with ‘severe’ defects – Phil Pennington:

A century-old wooden bridge full of holes that carries masses of the country’s potatoes and carrots is jeopardising truckers’ safety and farmers’ livelihoods.

But government funding changes make it less certain the local council can get the bridge, on a back road on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, replaced.

Between a 10th and one-fifth of the washed carrots and potatoes used in the North Island come across the one-lane timber Mangateitei rail overbridge near Ohakune.

There is no other public road out from the farms. . . 

Rein in rates and show some backbone over water rules, Feds urges ECan:

Federated Farmers is strongly urging Environment Canterbury to demonstrate financial discipline and stick with current water plans developed with the community, rather than cave in and start a $25 million exercise re-writing them.

Feds Mid-Canterbury President David Clark and fellow Ashburton farmer and national board member Chris Allen said the Federation’s Canterbury membership of around 3000 are outraged and hugely disappointed with the very large rates increases proposed.

Most farmers face bigger hikes than the overall average of 24.5% in the financial year starting July 1.

“No business has the luxury of unlimited income, especially farmers who as price takers cannot just increase their prices. ECan should be no different,” Clark told councillors at a hearing this morning. . . 

Log exports high prices create New Zealand trucking backlog – Maja Burry:

Strong export prices for logs are creating bottlenecks in the local supply chain, with forest owners reporting problems securing log truck drivers and in some cases, harvesting contractors.

Forest Owners Association’s president Phil Taylor said when log prices were high, smaller forest owners, including farmers, seized the opportunity to maximise returns.

“It’s a very good opportunity to realise their investments and for those farmers that have trees to provide them with a significant boost to their incomes.”

The shortage in log truck drivers was a developing concern and the association was keen to work with Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service to encourage more people into the industry, Taylor said. . .

Nadine Tunley is HortNZ’s new Chief Executive :

Nadine Tunley has been announced as Horticulture New Zealand’s new Chief Executive. 

‘We are very pleased to have been able to appoint a candidate of Nadine’s calibre, with her level of horticulture and wider food and fibre sector experience.  This was after an extensive recruitment process,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘Nadine will lead HortNZ into new territory, as horticulture adapts to Covid and the operation of industry changes.  Over the next decade, climate adaption, freshwater quality improvements, and increased use of technology and automation will result in significant change to the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand. 

‘HortNZ’s role will be to help steer the industry through this change, advocating for growers to be given the time and support to adapt.  This is so our growers can remain viable during the transition, and do what they do best: feed New Zealand and the world healthy, good tasting and safe food. . . 

Rob Hewett appointed Silver Fern Farms co-op chair:

At the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 29 April, Richard Young announced that he was standing down as Co-operative Chair to facilitate transition to the next generation of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative leaders.

To bridge this transition period, the Co-operative Board has requested that Rob Hewett step back into the Co-operative Chair role that he relinquished two years ago, together with continuing in his role as Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited.

Mr Hewett said “Firstly I want to thank Richard for his significant contribution as Co-op Chair for the past two years. Over that time, he has led the development and establishment of a clear vision and purpose for the Co-operative, which ensures we continually work cohesively with our investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited, but also ensuring the voice of our farmer shareholders is heard. I also know he will continue to make a significant contribution for the balance of his current term. Over the next three years there will be significant managed transformation in our Board composition as several of our farmer elected directors come to the end of their maximum terms as allowed for in our Constitution – myself included. While the Constitution does allow for term extensions on a case by case basis for Directors who have reached their maximum term, it is the clear intention of the Co-operative board to manage succession proactively.” . . 


Rural round-up

15/03/2021

Office staff asked to help out in apple packhouses due to labour shortages  –

The corporate fruit and vegetable firm T&G Global is asking its office based staff to help out in apple packhouses.

This year all apple growing regions are facing severe labour shortages for both picking and packing the crop.

As a result T&G Global, originally known as Turners and Growers, is asking Hawke’s Bay staff to swap computer terminals for apple trays.

Its operations director Craig Betty said the firm was under real pressure to meet export schedules and needs 70 more people right now, so salaried staff and family members were being asked to help out. . . 

Covid-19 exposes global biosecurity systems as ‘fractured’ – expert – Riley Kennedy:

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fractured global biosecurity system and a new approach is needed, a biosecurity expert says.

The paper by distinguished professor Philip Hulme from the government funded Bio-Protection Research Centre has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience.

Hulme said Covid-19 had shown there needed to be an approach to biosecurity that integrated threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health, recognising that disease or invasions in one sector often spilled over into the others.

He said the Covid Tracer app and the National Animal Indenification and Tracing (NAIT) system, were two examples of where lessons can be learnt and shared among different industries. . . 

Duck shooting season in doubt for many this year:

Many hunters and farmers will miss out on this year’s duck shooting season because the Police are failing to address a backlog of firearms licence applications, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There are 10,000 applications waiting to be processed with 3000 of those just licence renewals.

“With opening weekend for duck shooting season fast approaching the Police should be adding more resources to help clear the backlog.

“Hunters missed out last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They’re understandably itching to get back out on the pond, but they may miss out again this year because of an administrative backlog. . . 

FarmIQ links to Lead with Pride :

For Darfield dairy farmer Dan Schat, the decision to supply Synlait and participate in the company’s Lead with Pride initiative has proven to be a good one three years into farm ownership.

The Schats enjoy the double premium of supplying A2 milk and being on the Lead with Pride initiative, both making the company payments worth the extra effort the initiative involves.

Lead with Pride encompasses the four pillars of supply to Synlait, recognising and rewarding best practice in environment, animal health-welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. . . 

Produce industry launches UN initiative in New Zealand to address hunger and increase wellbeing:

Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to highlight the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

The official launch this evening at Parliament will be hosted by the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, in partnership with United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will showcase the government-funded Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative which addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM5 in August last year. . . 

This California start up has a meat test it says can help prevent the next pandemic – Chloe Sorvino:

Food ID, a San Mateo, California-based startup, has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will help improve the safety and transparency of the U.S. meat supply.

The funding comes from S2G Ventures and will be used to commercialize the company’s rapid-result tests that can detect antibiotics in animals and a range of other adulterants, like heavy metals in seafood. Food ID says it has been working inside some industrial slaughterhouses for more than a year and that its tests are finding many of the meats being sold as “antibiotic-free” are not.

“There’s a feeling that consumers understand what they are buying and there’s authenticity,” says Food ID cofounder Bill Niman, the legendary grass-fed beef rancher in Northern California. “We know that’s not totally true, and when that becomes clear to the suppliers and to the brands that depend on antibiotics costing a premium to consumers, we’re gonna be very busy.”

Niman says he is offering the meat industry its first comprehensive testing platform and can provide more accuracy and transparency for consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, and paying on average $1 more per pound for it. . . 


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