Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Rural round-up

29/04/2021

Marlborough firm looks at marketing reject apples for stock feed: Sally Murphy:

A Marlborough company is looking whether using excess or reject apples from Nelson orchards could be used as stock feed in dry areas along the east coast.

Farmers around Seddon and Ward are struggling with extremely dry conditions. Many have started to feed out early, with concerns supplementary feed will run out before the winter.

Kiwi Seed owner Bruce Clarke said apples were used as feed by some farmers last year and with difficulties getting peas and barley more are interested in the fruit this year.

Before marketing apples to farmers, Clarke is investigating what nutritional benefit the fruit may have. . . 

Sam Vivian-Greer crowned New Zealand winner of top agri-award in impressive setting:

The future looks extremely bright for Sam Vivian-Greer of Masterton, who received the coveted 2021 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award this morning, at a dawn ceremony at Whangara Farms, north of Gisborne.

Vivian-Greer, 31, is a Farm Consultant at BakerAg in the Wairarapa, working alongside farmers who are keen to improve and better their farming operations, and has developed mentoring groups to further develop farm managers and agricultural professionals.

The annual Award, regarded as a badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Vivian-Greer will receive an impressive prize package centred around mentoring, education and training that is 100% tailored to his needs.

Zanda McDonald Award Patron Shane McManaway says “Sam is a warm and professional person, who has a strong passion for agriculture, and is having a really positive influence on the sector. The judging team was really impressed with his dedication to his role, his leadership and spirit. We’re excited to see what the future holds for Sam, and look forward to helping him carve out his path through the opportunities provided by the Award, in particular the trans-Tasman mentoring package.” . . 

Winter grazing rules show Wellington doesn’t understand farming:

“Today’s release of the winter grazing standards again show a Government out of touch with the primary sector,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“It’s in a farmer’s best interest to look after their land and their animals but Government can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this.

“Farmers are continually improving their practices but the Government is intent on sharing the virtues of what it thinks should be on farm practices, without ever having done it.

“Farmers are the best custodians of the land and hold animal welfare to the utmost standards. Sadly here politics often suffocates practicality. . . 

Public access group takes LINZ to court to protect access to iconic back-country road:

Public Access New Zealand (PANZ) has launched legal proceedings to improve and protect public access to one of New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes.

Molesworth Recreation Reserve is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular backcountry areas and the iconic Acheron Road which runs through it has been used by the public for over 150 years. But public access to the area is being unlawfully restricted by the Department of Conservation (DOC), which manages the reserve.

PANZ has filed proceedings in the High Court in Wellington to seek declarations confirming the status of the public roads running through Molesworth Recreation Reserve, with the aim of guaranteeing public access.

PANZ spokesperson Stewart Hydes says Molesworth occupies a special place in New Zealand history and must be protected. . . 

Dark sky park an option to extend tourism in Fiordland:

Fiordland’s brilliant night sky could soon be as much an attraction to domestic and international visitors as its stunning daytime scenery.

Great South has been working with the Fiordland community and stakeholders on the possibility of it becoming an accredited Dark Sky Park with the International Dark Sky Association.

Great South GM Tourism and Events Bobbi Brown said the night sky over Fiordland was of exceptional quality and early indications suggest it would meet the required level for international designation and potentially add another string to the bow for tourism operators.

“If Fiordland National Park received IDA Park designation it would make it the second largest Dark Sky Park in the world, second only to Death Valley National Park in the USA.” . . \

Beef farm on verge of destocking due to all-Wales NVZ :

A beef farming family in Glamorgan have warned they may have to give up keeping cattle if the Welsh government’s new all-Wales NVZ rules are not adjusted.

Beef and sheep farmers Richard Walker and Rachel Edwards run Flaxland Farm – a 120 acre farm outside of Barry, Glamorgan.

They have warned they may have to sell their cattle if the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) rules are not amended to incorporate recommendations made by industry groups.

In January the Welsh government announced that it will introduce an NVZ designation across the whole of Wales. . . 


Rural round-up

13/02/2021

Hawke’s Bay apple growers face peak picking season crisis – Tom Kitchin:

Apple growers fear they will face carnage as the picking season hits its peak in the next few weeks.

Border closures have meant few overseas workers, and locals were just as hard to find.

Yummy Fruit general manager Paul Paynter told RNZ he was only sleeping four hours a night these days, even with the help of tranquillisers.

“I think there’s going to be a point of crisis. I mean, physically and mentally I feel it now but I think the pain is really to come down the track. But [I’m] certainly super anxious at the moment, I’m not sleeping and I’m really worried about our future.” . . 

Picker debacle will leave a rotten stench :

The Government’s dismal failure to be flexible and pragmatic about immigration to support the primary sector means hundreds of millions of dollars of losses for apple, wine and other growers is a near certainty,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“That a scheme of financial inducements to get people off the dole and into the fields has resulted in an increase to the workforce of just 54 is the cruel reality of what happens when this Government says it’s coming to the rescue.

“ACT has been on the farmers’ side from the beginning. . . 

New NZ apple brand signals early start to season:

T&G Global has launched a new early ripening apple brand which will be one of the first New Zealand apples of the 2021 season to arrive in key Asian markets.

T&G Global’s Poppi™ apple is a sweet flavoured, medium sized apple with a rich red colour.

With its thin skin, crisp sweet flavour and stunning appearance, it’s the first variety to ripen on Hawke’s Bay trees, enabling an early entry of New Zealand apples in highly competitive Asian markets. . . 

Passionfruit glut expected after limited exports this year

Consumers are set to enjoy a glut of passionfruit after export woes hit the industry.

Seventy percent of the crop would normally be sold in the United States, but that has been limited this year by high airfreight costs and greater competition in the US market.

The NZ Passionfruit Growers Association said about 50 commercial growers produce 120 tonnes a season between February and April.

The cost of air freight meant most of this summer’s crop would be appearing on New Zealand grocery shelves. . . 

Rebuild the RMA but give community time to contribute Feds say :

Federated Farmers has long believed Resource Management Act reform is overdue but is concerned by the speed and scale of the rebuilding proposed today.

“We should be able to get to the end of this process and feel the work has been completed over timeframes that will ensure we deliver the outcomes we want to achieve as a country,” Federated Farmers resource management act spokesperson Karen Williams says.

Environment Minister David Parker has announced his intention to replace the RMA with three new pieces of legislation before the end of this Parliamentary term, with a special select committee looking at a draft of the main Bill by the middle of this year.

“This gives very little time for the community to absorb, consider and submit on the contents of the Bill,” Karen says. . . 

Holbrook’s Rozzie O’Reilly wins Zanda McDonald Award :

Rozzie O’Reilly, 28, from Holbrook, NSW, has an exciting year ahead of her, after being crowned the 2021 Australian winner of the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award at tonight’s award dinner in Orange, NSW.

As the breeding manager at Australia’s largest prime lamb seedstock business, Lambpro, Ms O’Reilly is responsible for managing the database for over 6000 performance recorded stud ewes, co-ordinating staff and providing numerous client services.

She has a Bachelor of Animal Science and runs a sheep and cattle business on agistment and lease country with her fiancé.

Ms O’Rielly said she was excited by her win and couldn’t wait to use the proceeds from the award to learn about other industries. . . 

 


Rural round-up

06/12/2020

B+LNZ has ‘farmers’ backs’ over new rules:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it has “farmers’ backs” and will not stop advocating for them over the controversial freshwater rules.

In an update to farmers, chief executive Sam McIvor said the organisation had met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker in the past couple of weeks and it would seek meetings with Climate Change Minister James Shaw and newly appointed Forestry Minister Stuart Nash.

“Our focus has been on changes to the essential freshwater rules, making progress on the certified freshwater farm plan, holding them to their promises on issues like carbon farming and asking for a pause on new environmental rules. We’re also collaborating with other industry groups on these issues,” Mr McIvor said.

Farmers had identified three key issues with the freshwater rules, including arbitrary resowing dates for winter grazing on forage crops which many farmers were not able to meet because of climatic and soil conditions. . .

Fruit growers ‘doing their best’ to hire suitable NZ workers – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago fruit growers are rubbishing claims they’re turning down New Zealanders for local fruit picking work as they would prefer cheap foreign labour.

It follows union concerns that plenty of people are applying for jobs, but are waiting weeks for replies if they get them at all.

Orchard owners have been calling for the government to allow in more seasonal workers from Pacific countries to help with the summer fruit harvest.

Stephen Darling runs Darlings Fruit in Ettrick, Central Otago, growing mainly apples and apricots. . .

New chair of Safer Farms and two new directors announced:

Safer Farms has welcomed three new Directors to its Board, including Lindy Nelson who has also been announced as the organisation’s new Chair.

The Agri Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) co-founder has taken over from Justine Kidd, who has chaired Safer Farms’ since its formation in 2017 and will remain on the Board.

Federated Farmers’ Vice President Karen Williams and Zanda MacDonald Award Winner Jack Raharuhi were named as the new Directors at the organisation’s AGM.

Kidd said the high calibre and large number of applicants for the positions were a true testament to the passion the industry has for its people. . . 

GO NZ: Waitaki Valley girls’ weekend – hiking high country wine region – Anna King Sahib:

Getting high in the Waitaki back country, hot-tubbing and gin – all the ingredients for a great girls’ away weekend, writes Anna King Shahab

A couple of days in the Waitaki Valley, inland from Ōamaru provided the chance to follow the footsteps of those who farm our food, and to taste the fruits of the country’s youngest wine region.

Our girls’ weekend away had been built around a simple, wholesome concept: a walk on the farm. We’d booked in with new guided walk operator Sole to Soul Hiking – the passion project of Sally Newlands Juliet Gray, best friends making a living on neighboring farms in the Hakataramea Valley, a 50-minute drive inland from Ōamaru. The impetus of Sally and Juliet’s business is to share the numerous benefits they experience daily when walking the high country they farm – a workout, yes, and also a connection with the land and environment, an awareness of where and how our food is raised, and a chance to practise mindfulness. . . 

Silver Fern Farms celebrates Plate to Pasture Award winners:

Coromandel beef producers Brent and Kara Lilley have received the Silver Fern Farms 2020 Plate to Pasture Award for their exceptional consumer focus.

The Awards, now in their 7th year, celebrate suppliers of lamb, beef, venison, and bull beef who consistently supply quality stock and produce food with the consumer front of mind.

All Silver Fern Farms suppliers are assessed on the specification & presentation of stock, their Farm Assurance status, supply direct via Silver Fern Farms Livestock agents, Shareholding, Supply volume & timing and use of FarmIQ tools. . .

A dairy solution to Australia’s out of control feral camels – Denise Cullen:

Australia has the biggest feral camel population in the world, but one farmer is working to change public perception of this ‘pest’.

Ten years ago, Australian cattle grazier Paul Martin decided that he couldn’t stand to see another camel shot.

In the 1800s, camels were shipped to Australia from the Middle East, India and Afghanistan to help open up the country’s vast remote interior. They were later released into the Australian wilderness en masse with the advent of mechanised transportation.

With their energy-storing humps, broad toes that support their weight on sand and ability to eat 85 percent of even tough and thorny vegetation, they were perfectly suited to the dry, desert conditions which make up more than one-third of the continent.  . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

08/11/2020

Clarity on rules wanted – Yvonne O’Hara:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand continues to seek clarity from the Government on the new Essential Freshwater rules, including requirements concerning low slope maps for stock exclusion, winter grazing regulations and farm plans,chief executive Sam McIvor says.

BLNZ had extensive consultation with about 4500 farmers across the country during the submission process and got a “good measure” of farmers’ views and concerns.

“We did get some positive changes made, particularly around restrictions on land use changes for sheep and beef farms.”

However, there are still three key issues with the rules. . .

Award winner takes value from farm tour – David Hill:

Winning the Zanda McDonald would have been beyond Jack Raharuhi’s wildest dreams when he left school.

“I left school at a very young age and chose the wrong pathway in life — drugs and cars. So my dad put me on one of his friend’s farms for a few months and I absolutely hated it.”

But after a while, Mr Raharuhi found “riding around on a farm bike” wasn’t so bad, so he put his head down, studied hard and worked his way up.

The 27-year-old dairy farm manager for Pamu (formerly Landcorp) recently enjoyed a farm tour around New Zealand last month after winning the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award. . . 

The winds of change :

When New Yorkers Anders and Emily Crofoot took over Castlepoint Station on the eastern Wairarapa coast in 1998 they had to make some big adjustments, quickly.

Gone were the freezing winters and reliable summer rains – replaced with year-round growth, frequent summer droughts and relentless wind.

The Crofoots quickly discovered that looking after their farm’s soil required a shift from traditional thinking and practice.

Two attempts at sowing pasture in a conventionally cultivated paddock—and two spring gales that blew about a third of the seed straight out to sea each time—convinced them that there had to be a better way to establish pasture in this climate. . . 

Zespri weighs up partnership with Chinese kiwifruit growers – Susan Murray:

Zespri is considering co-operation with Chinese kiwifruit growers who are illegally growing New Zealand’s gold G3 kiwifruit.

Since late 2019, unlawful plantings of the variety in China have almost doubled to 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare to grow it and Zespri will continue looking at legal channels to protect its plant variety rights.

But Zespri chief grower and alliances officer Dave Courtney said it had been advised to trial working with the small growers in China, in the hope this would prevent more plantings. . . 

MBIE investigating frozen fries import threat:

The New Zealand potato industry are relieved that the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) trade remedies team has now launched an investigation into the proven threat of surplus frozen fries being imported into New Zealand.

This MBIE decision was based on the positive evidence the New Zealand potato industry provided in their application completed in September this year, as part of the Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) Pandemic Industry Recovery Plan.

The application was in response to the threat of increased dumped imports of surplus European frozen fries, to the NZ potato processing sector. The dumping and threat, combined with the effects of supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19, created an extraordinary situation that required investigation. . .

Harvesting downgrade fears allayed – Gregor Heard:

FARMERS throughout the northern cropping zone generally received good news when they returned to their harvesters last week after rain delays, with limited reports of weather damaged grain.

Yields continue to please, while farmers in southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia retain confidence of strong yields, although harvest will be some time off yet for many due to the cool finish to the cropping season allowing crops to mature slowly.

Meanwhile, the Queensland harvest is edging closer to completion, with good quality grain partially making up for slightly disappointing yields.

“A lot of people in my area on the Darling Downs have just about finished their harvest,” said Brendan Taylor, Agforce grains section president. . . 


Rural round-up

25/09/2020

Lower sheep and beef farmers sentiment chief contributor to rural confidence fall – Rabobank – Maja Burry:

Waning sentiment among sheep and beef farmers has pushed rural confidence deeper into negative territory in Rabobank’s latest rural confidence survey.

The survey, completed earlier this month, found net farmer confidence has slipped to -32 percent, down from -26 percent previously. In the last quarterly survey there had been a strong recovery from historic lows recorded early in the year.

Rabobank said the chief contributor to the lower net reading was markedly-lower sheep and beef farmer sentiment. That negated higher confidence levels reported among dairy farmers and horticulturalists, who were bouyed by improving demand for products.

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive, Todd Charteris, said sheep and beef farmers reported lingering concerns over government policy and the on-going impacts of Covid-19. . . 

2021 Zanda McDonald Award to crown two winners:

In an Award first, the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced today that they will crown not one, but two winners – one from each side of the Tasman – for the 2021 Award.

Eight passionate and talented young individuals in the primary sector have been named in the shortlist for the prestigious trans-Tasman award – four from Australia, and four from New Zealand.

The award, now in its seventh year, recognises talented and passionate young professionals working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package. The shortlist have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making in the primary sector.

The change for 2021 comes as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, which prevents the award judges from being able to interview the usual shortlist of six together in one place, to determine the overall winner for Australasia. . . 

The case for trout farming – Clive Barker:

Anglers have long resisted the idea of commercial trout farming but a select committee recently recommended the Government give the idea “serious consideration”. Clive Barker makes the case for trout farming.

The species of fish used for aquaculture were at one time very limited. Carp were the fish used in pond culture originally in China. The method was transferred and developed in Europe during the Middle Ages. This was to help inland populations to follow the centuries-old law of meat abstinence on Fridays. In addition, there was the period of Lent during which eating meat was also prohibited. The 15th and 16th centuries were called the ”Golden Age” of Carp pond farming.

By the 1700s, river trout stock depletion had become a problem and in 1741 Stephen Ludwig Jacobi established the first trout hatchery in Germany. From this time, anglers have started to depend on cultured supplies of trout to increase or substitute the natural wild trout production. . . 

Feds suitably impressed with week of agriculture and horticulture announcements:

This has been a promising week for farmers.

Federated Farmers says it started with an excellent agriculture policy from ACT announced on Monday, followed by Labour’s positive farm plan policy announced by the Prime Minister and Agricultural Minister yesterday and finishing today with a well-researched and well thought out National Party Agriculture and Horticulture policies today.

National’s policy outlines a situation where the border is effectively closed, and New Zealand has lost almost a quarter of foreign earnings in the form of tourism and international education, leaving primary industries keeping the economy afloat.

Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard says all these policies are the shot in the arm that our primary industries require. . . 

Shrek 2 found in Gisborne

First there was the South Island Shrek who came to our attention in 2004 – now a rival has been found in Gisborne.

She’s finally been caught at Wairakaia Station and has been given a name – Gizzy Shrek.

Farmer Rob Faulkner has been on her tail for years, he says.

“She’s been eluding me for about four or five years now and she finally came in through the back paddock”, Ron told Jesse Mulligan.

Empty meat counters – Uptown Farms:

Have you ever had your washer breakdown? It’s a real pain, and can cause a real issue around the house.
Finding someone to fix it is tough – skilled labor is hard to come by.

While you’re waiting, the laundry doesn’t stop coming. Everyone in the house keeps sending more your way. But without the washer – you’re stuck. There’s literally no where for the clothes to go.

Meanwhile, with huge piles of clothes stacking up on one side, clean clothes are becoming pretty scarce. Everyone in the house is wearing their jeans multiple times and getting nervous as they watch their underwear drawer slowly empty out…

This is what’s happening in our meat industry right now. Instead of washers and laundry it’s packing plants and livestock.
Many packing plants have been forced to shut down or run at lowered capacity because of Covid outbreaks and sick employees. Enough that it has created a massive backup on one side. . . 


Rural round-up

05/08/2020

All well and good – Sam Owen:

Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen has learned from experience about the importance of looking after his mental health. Sam shares his story and his tips for maintaining wellbeing.

An overwhelming sense of joy or happiness doesn’t sound like depression or anxiety, but to me this is one of my triggers. That’s because I know it will usually be followed by an impending sense of ‘the only way is down from here’.

My wife Jacqui and I are 50:50 sharemilkers. We live on-farm with our kids Abbie (13) and Rhys (11). We’re milking 260 cows on 70ha (effective), on the W and T van de Pas farm at Eureka, just east of Hamilton.

I’m a DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leader (DEL), and a board member for the Port Waikato School Camp. I’m very focused on getting young people into the sector. Jacqui is also a qualified lawyer who contributes time to the Rural Support Trust. Both of us are passionate ambassadors for mental health and wellbeing. . .

‘Blown away’ by response to wool petition – Sally Rae:

South Otago sheep and beef farmer Amy Blaikie has been “absolutely blown away” by the response to her wool petition.

In June, Mrs Blaikie launched a petition calling on the House of Representatives to ensure all publicly funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes were built or refurbished with New Zealand wool carpet and insulation.

Tomorrow, Mrs Blaikie, her husband Victor and their children are due to head to Wellington, where she has asked New Zealand First list MP and Lawrence farmer Mark Patterson to present the petition, which has been signed by more than 14,000 people.

She said she was not only overwhelmed by the number of signatures but also by the phone calls and communication she had received. . . 

Is regenerative agriculture the real deal – Keith Woodford:

Regenerative agriculture is in vogue as a concept but what does it really mean?

I often get asked my opinion about regenerative agriculture.  My standard rejoinder is to ask what does the questioner mean by ‘regenerative agriculture’? That typically gets a response that it is somewhat of a mystery to them, but it is a term they keep hearing, and supposedly it is the way we need to act to save the planet.  My next rejoinder is that I too am struggling to know what it means.

Then some two weeks ago I was asked to join a focus group for a research project looking into what regenerative agriculture means specifically in the New Zealand context. The project has considerable backing, including from the Government-funded ‘Our Land & Water National Science Challenge’.

I was unable to participate in the focus group on account of another commitment. But it did make me think it was time for me to do my own research and find out what the term actually stood for. . . 

Application for prestigious agricultural award open:

Being mentored by some of the greatest leaders in the Australasian agriculture industry might sound appealing, but how about travelling by private jet as part of the experience? This very opportunity will be available to one young Kiwi or Aussie again next year, when they take out the 2021 Zanda McDonald Award.

The search is once again on for talented young individuals across Australia and New Zealand, with registrations opening for the annual award today.

Now in its seventh year, the award recognises those who are passionate about agriculture, wanting to make a difference in their sector, and looking to take their career to the next level. There’s an impressive prize package up for grabs, that will put the winner in the passenger seat with some of the biggest and best agriculture operators across both countries, through the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) network. . .

A love letter to the mighty Mataura River :

Dougal Rillstone’s new book, Upstream in the Mataura details his 70-year fascination for the Mataura River from his childhood in Gore through until the present day. 

Rillstone said he became fascinated by the river when he was still a child and at that time it was a place of recreation for swimming and picnicking.

He said one particular incident is imprinted in his memory.

“A memory of swimming in the river, a place we called the bend just on the north side of Gore, on a flat calm pool into the evening, sun dropping and my father was swimming near me because I couldn’t really swim properly, but I was in the river up to my shoulders and trout started to rise all around us and I was totally mesmerised by it – it’s what I later came to realise is called the ‘mad Mataura rise’.” . . 

 

Farm biosecurity a good BVD insurance:

Biosecurity is high on most New Zealanders’ minds this year, thanks largely to Covid-19 and the need to keep it firmly on the country’s border edges to avoid it spreading throughout the community. For New Zealand farmers there is another disease that does not affect humans which can, also with good biosecurity, be avoided.

Estimates are about 80% of this country’s dairy and beef herds have been exposed to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). Over the past decade as more herds have cleared it, they have again become susceptible, or “naïve”. This leaves them with no resistance to a disease that can account for a variety of undiagnosed ailments.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager says comprehensive control of BVD relies upon three key planks in any farm campaign – testing/culling, vaccination, and biosecurity. . . 

Ballance’s financial results are a positive sign for New Zealand primary sector:

New Zealand is looking to, and counting on, the primary sector to underpin our economy. The sector provides opportunities for thousands of kiwis every day.

Owned by 19,000 farming families, Ballance Agri-Nutrients is well positioned to support the sector to drive the prosperity of NZ with a strong balance sheet and another year of consistent farmer and grower rebates. Leading into 2021, the Ballance team continues their unrelenting focus on nutrient leadership and leading by science.

“I want to acknowledge all the individuals that come together to form the Ballance team, we are fortunate to have an extremely talented and passionate group focused on delivering value for our shareholders, customers and all kiwis,” says Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke. . . 


Rural round-up

12/05/2020

Accidental farmer now a winner–  Gerald Piddock :

Dairy farmer Ash-Leigh Campbell has come a long way in a short time and now wants to encourage young people into the dairy sector and do what she can locally while travel restrictions limit what she can do with the $20,000 prize she took home as the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Ash-leigh Campbell didn’t set out to have a career in dairying.

Instead, she stumbled into the industry, starting out relief milking for a local farmer to earn extra cash for her first car while still at high school in Canterbury.

She was an accidental dairy farmer, she says.

Ten years on the 29-year-old has had a meteoritic rise, capped off by being the youngest person to become Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network Awards. . .

Rural fok rally round – Colin Williscroft:

Rural communities are banding together to help Hawke’s Bay farmers dealing with drought and a feed shortage.

Wairarapa farmers Daniel and Sophie Hansen are gathering feed in their region to send to their northern neighbours.

They hoope if farmers there have a bale or two of hay or balage they can do without then, despite it being a small amount individually, combined it could provide a real lifeline to Hawke’s Bay farmers.

Initially, the Hansens aimed to get every farmer on their road to either give or sell one or two bales to make a unit load but the idea has grown. . . 

Red meat exports pass $1b – Sally Rae:

Exports of New Zealand red meat and co-products in March passed the $1billion mark, a first for monthly exports.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed total exports reached $1.1billion, an increase of 12% on March 2019.

While overall exports to China in March were down 9% on the corresponding month last year, due to Covid-19, exports to all other major markets increased, a statement from MIA said.

Sheepmeat export volumes were up 4% and value up 13% compared with last March. And while sheepmeat exports to China were down 11% by volume compared with last March, they still recovered significantly from February, doubling to nearly 25,000 tonnes. . . 

Keytone Dairy a secret Kiwi success – Rebecca Howard:

Keytone Dairy may not be listed on the NZX but it’s one to watch as it inks new orders and ramps up production.

The ASX-listed stock took a tumble on global panic hitting 20.5 Australian cents on March 19.

Since then it’s more than doubled to 43 cents as investors buy into its growth story that Covid-19 triggered “significant” global demand for its products. Appetite for its formulated milk powders is four times greater than before the crisis, it said.

The company was incorporated in September 2017 to buy and run New Zealand’s Keytone Enterprises. It wrapped the deal up in July 2018 and listed on the Australian stock exchange at the same time, choosing Australia because of its proximity to a larger pool of funds. . .

Current grower meeting challenges – George Clark:

Hamish McFarlane is a third-generation blackcurrant grower with a farm 10 minutes north of Temuka.

He grows the superfood, with a mix of cattle and the odd vegetable, for Barkers of Geraldine.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 allowed business to continue for the McFarlane family but there were challenges.

‘‘We were pretty uncertain what the future was going to hold for us. Once we went into lockdown we were unsure with what government levels immediately meant,’’ he said. . . 

View form the Paddock: don’t fall for plant-based meat hype – Trent Thorne:

In 1787, Catherine the Great toured the recently annexed Crimean Peninsula with her conquering Commander-in-chief, Grigory Potemkin.

In an effort to thoroughly impress the Tsarina with the work he had done in the south of Russia (which for many years had been a desolate area ravaged by constant warfare) following the annexation, Potemkin constructed pasteboard facades of fake village.

As a result of his artifice, the term ‘Potemkin village’ is now used to refer to an impressive show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.

You may well ask what does modern Russian history and the COVID-19 pandemic have in common? . . 


Rural round-up

27/03/2020

Farming must step up, sector heads say – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s lockdown over Covid-19 is an opportunity for the agricultural sector ‘‘to step up and remind our country how great we are’’, Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie says.

The farm supplies co-operative has been identified as an essential service and will remain open, although customers have to call or email orders first, and a contactless collection process will then be arranged.

Yesterday, Mr Reidie said the world would still need to be fed and New Zealand was very well placed in terms of the quantity and quality of its produce .

‘‘Provided we can get things on boats … we should keep on keeping on. That’s got to be the ambition,’’ he said.

It was a reminder of the importance of landowners, farmers and orchardists. . . 

Kiwi Jack Raharuhi takes the crown in top Australasian award:

Jack Raharuhi from Pāmu Farms in Westport, and Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year 2016, has been crowned the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award winner.

Raharuhi, 27 years old, is the Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu, where he oversees 4 dairy farms and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind, and Health and Safety leadership for 10 dairy farms. He is also Chair of the West Coast Focus Farm Trust, and heavily involved with training and mentoring staff as part of the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.

The annual Award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented young individuals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013. . . 

Carrying on farming and consider grain options for stock feed:

Farmers can carry on doing what they do best – putting high quality food on people’s tables and earning export revenue – with confirmation direct from the Prime Minister that they are an ‘Essential Service’ that can continue operating under the Covid-19 lockdown from midnight Wednesday.

Services associated with the primary sector, including food processors, diagnostics, farm suppliers, freight and trucking can also go about their business, while taking all practical steps to limit people to people contact.

This confirmation they are vital to helping the nation survive the virus crisis will be a relief and reason for pride for many farmers and workers in those associated industries. But for some, there remains a pressing concern – the drought, and how to feed stock. . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year spots all go to women :

Women won all three placings in the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

The awards were presented at the West Coast Events Centre in Shantytown on Tuesday last week.

Alexis Wells won the trainee section, Dallas Bradley was second and Stephanie Gray claimed third place.

Ms Wells (21) is a farm assistant on a 307ha, 670-cow Pamu Farms of New Zealand property in Reefton. She is studying level 4 husbandry and feeding with Primary ITO and said she was proud to have made it to the dairy awards finals three years in a row. Her goal is to the win the national title. . . 

Pandemic postpones DoC predator control – David Williams:

The Conservation Department will halt operations to kill bird-eating pests during the four-week national shutdown. David Williams reports

Pest control operations to protect rare and vulnerable native species are about to cease.

The Department of Conservation will halt all biodiversity work during the upcoming four-week national shutdown, director-general Lou Sanson confirms.

“We debated that seriously but when we heard the Prime Minister [on Monday], and we understood the seriousness of the lockdown, the number one focus for New Zealand is to stop people moving, and that means all our biodiversity work stops, our construction work stops. About the only things we’ll be doing is the operation of sewerage schemes, search and rescue, and fire.”

(DoC acts as the local council, providing utilities like drinking water and sewerage schemes, in places like Aoraki/Mt Cook Village.) . . 

Exports rise as dairy gains while logs and fish fall:

Total goods exports increased in the February 2020 month due to an increase in the value of dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

The total value of meat exports was little changed, but higher quantities were exported to the United States instead of China.

The increase in total good exports was despite falls in exports of logs and fish, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The value of total goods exports rose by $212 million (4.5 percent) from February 2019 to reach $4.9 billion in February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

11/02/2020

All that’s missing is the workforce :

Mid-Canterbury farmer Ryan Esler enjoys an enviable lifestyle – working in the scenic foothills beneath Mt Hutt, jet boating on the Rakaia River, and fishing for fresh salmon.

But it’s becoming harder to attract young people to a career in farming and he believes the industry has a perception problem which needs to be addressed.

“If you start looking at petri dish meat, you’d think farming is doomed but there’s a lot of scope for a lot of different directions.

“When you look at the marketing of wool and merino, the range of products being made now is absolutely incredible. . .

Dry hits hard – Colin Williscroft:

As dry starts to ratchet up the pressure on farmers Central Hawke’s Bay farmer John Waldin has been lucky enough to get some of his stock away to the works but there’s still more that needs to go.

Waldin was pleased to get a call confirming he will be able to send 240 lamb to the works.

Though he’s experienced conditions just as dry as now on his Ashley Clinton property Waldin can’t remember a time when he’s seen such a shortage of grass.

He normally aims to kill lambs at a carcase weight of 18kg-plus but a couple of weeks ago he decided there was not enough feed so drafted at 15kg-plus, with anything lighter likely to be worth more as stores. . . 

Is grass-only still feasible in New Zealand farming? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Nobody, least of all farmers, wants animals to be hungry – but is grass-only best? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Drought is affecting the country. Holiday makers have been able to enjoy warm temperatures and sunny barbecues, but towns and cities are already on restrictions for watering gardens and washing cars, particularly in the north and east of the North Island.

The situation for farmers is different – it is animals and crops that are the focus.

Farmers in some areas have access to irrigation, but most don’t, and they are increasingly worried about when rain might come. . .

Aussies get a taste of Kiwi – Tony Leggett:

Two enterprising young Australian rural professionals received an amazing insight into New Zealand agriculture during a two-week whistle-stop tour of the country last November.

The pair were joint winners of the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award which is presented annually by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP), a group of 150 larger scale and influential farm owners and agribusiness professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

The award is open to anyone under 35 and winners receive $2000 in prize money plus a flying trip around properties and agribusinesses on both sides of the Tasman, hosted by members of the PPP group. . . 

 

U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73 percent of producer returns, says new report :

Comparing government support for Canadian versus American dairy farmers is not a simple black and white process. While Canada’s dairy sector operates under a regulated supply management system, the U.S. government’s support for its dairy farmers is less direct.

Support, in its various forms, equaled 73 percent of U.S. dairy farmers’ market returns in 2015, according to a report published by a Canadian trade consulting firm on Thursday.

The 588-page study by Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates — commissioned by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) — says the American government contributed around $22.2 billion in direct and indirect subsidies to the dairy sector in 2015. . . 

2019 GB potato crop fifth lowest on record :

Total potato production in Great Britain for the 2019 crop has been estimated to be the fifth lowest on record, according to latest figures.

AHDB estimates the figure to be 5.10Mt, which is an increase of 182Kt from last season, but 7% below the five-year average (2014-2018, 5.49Mt).

While total GB production is 4 percent more than last season, it still comes in at the fifth lowest on record.

The 2019 estimated average net yield is 45.6t/ha, up 3.9t/ha from last season and 2% below the five year average (2014-2018, 46.6t/ha). . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/11/2019

Australian pair are here to learn – Sally Rae:

When 2019 Zanda McDonald Award joint winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans visited Omarama last week, it truly was a flying visit.

The Australian pair flew into the Waitaki Valley township on a Pilatus aircraft that had been chauffeuring them around the country on a mentoring trip, as part of their prize package.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014, in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property. . .

Seaweed products pioneer named supreme winner in rural women business awards – Angie Skerrett:

A company that has pioneered the use of seaweed products has won the supreme award in this year’s NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards. 

The annual awards celebrate and showcase entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women.

At a function in the Banquet Hall at Parliament, AgriSea Business Development Manager Clare Bradley accepted the supreme award for the Paeroa-based family business.  . . 

AgriSea specialises in the manufacture of macro-algae concentrates and bioactive extractions to add high-value nutrition for soil, plant, animal and human health.  . . 

Seeking sustainability at scale – Neal Wallace:

Ross and Jo Hay are typical of thousands of young farming couples who work hard and continually search for a chance to grow and get ahead. Neal Wallace met the North Otago couple to find out how they are establishing their careers. 

Ross and Jo Hay are not oblivious to the uncertainty associated with the clouds of rules looming on the farming horizon but they have decided to take a glass half full approach.

Fuelled with enthusiasm and determination to pursue a farming career the Hays are confident there will be opportunity among the plethora of Government rules bearing down on the sector.

“People got through the 1980s,” Ross says. . .

Blueberry picking looms – Abbey Palmer:

As leaves fall and berries begin to change from green to blue, Southland’s only blueberry farm is gearing up for another season of hand-picked fun.

With 220 hectares of land planted in bushes, Otautau’s Blueberry Country will be opening its gates to the public this summer for the eight-week season.

Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon said the 10 staff members were hoping to be able to welcome visiting pickers from early January through till the end of February.

“One of the best parts of blueberry picking season is seeing all of the families out and kids knackered from running up and down the orchards,” Mr Bardon said. . .

 

Happy Cow Diaries part 4: We’re back, and ready to take on industrial dairying – Glen Herud:

Happy Cow Milk is poised to relaunch with a new business model and an invention that could revolutionise dairy production, explains founder Glen Herud, in the latest instalment of his Spinoff series documenting the company’s fall and rise again.

Just as we were chilling the beers for our equity crowdfunding launch last Thursday we crossed the line. We cracked those beers instead, because by the time I got home we had fulfilled our target of raising $400,000. After months of work it was a huge relief to reach our goal, and we did it in just 8 hours and 8 minutes.

It was a rare day of success in what sometimes feels like an endless start-up slog. The best part for me is the confirmation that New Zealanders are ready for change. They want solutions that reduce emissions, look after animals, protect waterways and reduce plastics. And they want to connect with farmers and food production in a more positive way . .

Staring into oblivion: People of the drought lands watch their world disappear – Rob Harris:

It’s 5.45am in Casino, just over an hour’s drive inland from Byron Bay in northern NSW, and the smoke from weeks of bushfires lingers, casting a gloomy haze over the sunrise.

The early shift at the town’s meat works has filed in and the piercing noise of an electric hand saw cutting its way through carcass after carcass drowns out the Monday morning chatter.

The Northern Co-operative Meat Company is the town’s biggest private employer with 1000 people – 10 per cent of Casino’s population – relying on a constant flow of cattle to make ends meet. . .


Rural round-up

10/11/2019

Pressure on Jacinda Ardern over water quality amid farmer well-being concern – Pattrick Smellie:

Suddenly, farmers’ mental health is in the news again.

It’s not sensationalist or alarmist. It’s a fact.

A growing number of farmers are feeling massive personal pressure from several directions, with the greatest source of that pressure being felt as the Government’s agenda to make agriculture contribute to cleaner water and climate change action.

It may not be totally rational. Global prices for our key agricultural commodities are currently high and include a very healthy-looking dairy payout in the season ahead. Export returns are further assisted by a weak Kiwi dollar. . .

2020 Zanda McDonald Awards finalists announced:

Things are heating up for the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award, with one Australian and two New Zealanders announced today as the three finalists for the 2020 trophy.

The trans-Tasman award is widely seen as a badge of honour in agriculture, recognising passionate and outstanding young professionals working in the sector.

The 2020 finalists are Dr Elle Moyle, 29, from Victoria, Jack Raharuhi, 27, from Westport NZ, and James Robertson, 22, from Auckland NZ. The three were selected from a shortlist of six applicants, who were interviewed by the judging panel last month in Wellington. . .

“Farmers barely covering interest costs’ – Westpac boss David McLean :

Some heavily indebted dairy farmers are barely covering their interest payments despite relatively strong prices for several seasons, Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean says.

“The ones who’ve got more leverage, most of those are still covering their cost of production but some of them are close to the edge,” he says.

“Their interest cover isn’t that great – there are a lot of farmers who are doing it tough and there’s not a lot of buffer.” . . 

Dairy prices should bring some cheer as bankers get tougher on farmers and govt further burdens them – Point of Order:

The sun  may be shining  again  on  NZ’s  dairy industry:  spirited  bidding  at  the latest    global  dairy trade  auction  backs  up Fonterra’s move  last  month to  lift the  projected  payout  range to $6.55-$7.55 kg/MS.

The  average GDT  price  rose 3.7% to $US3446 a  tonne,  with the  key products  WMP up  3.6%  to $US3254, and SMP  6.7% to $US2924.

WMP prices, after dipping mid-year, have remained above the important $US3000/tonne level since July.  ANZ  in a market commentary   noted the auction outperformed expectations. Futures prices have steadily lifted since the previous GDT event in October. . . 

BioBrew delivers probiotic technology to support dairy farms:

CalfBrew improves profitability while reducing the need for antibiotics and other problematic synthetic inputs.

A small NZ company, BioBrew Ltd, has developed a novel approach to probiotics that delivers a very strong ROI and increases the sustainability of NZ dairy farms.

Developed with the assistance of Lincoln University and with funding from Callaghan Innovation and the Sustainable Farming Fund, CalfBrew delivers the finest probiotic technology available. CalfBrew improves profitability while reducing the need for antibiotics and other problematic synthetic inputs. . .

Meet the winners of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019:

A Canterbury business creating a high-value, top-dollar future for merino wool has won the Supreme Award at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019, leading a stellar list of category winners.

Based in Christchurch, The New Zealand Merino Company Limited is an integrated sales, marketing and innovation company for merino wool, and the world’s leading supplier of ethical wool through its accreditation brand, ZQ Merino.   

The company aims to help transform merino wool from a commodity into a high-value fibre, working with brands to create unique design-led and R&D-based products that incorporate merino wool, and in turn helping growers to get better returns. . .

 


Rural round-up

26/08/2019

Time to stop shaming farmers – Rowena Duncan:

The recent Will to Live Tour gets The Country Early Edition host Rowena Duncum thinking about rural mental health.

Just last month I had a bad day. We all get them. I felt like there’s so much negativity out there aimed at farmers.

A few hours later though, I got a swift reality check in the form of a passionate and switched-on 21-year-old imploring more than 200 people in Balclutha to remember “how good we are at what we do” and to “be bloody proud to be a farmer”.

By the time you read this, the Will to Live charity’s ‘Speak Up Tour’ will have just completed its 13th event, with four still to come later this month. . .

Restored wetland in the Waikato shows how farmers can hugely improve water quality.:

Gray Baldwin has spent five years undoing work his grandfather did on the family’s South Waikato farm – and he’s thrilled with the result.

He and wife Marilyn own 713ha south of Lichfield, near Putaruru. They have a 200ha dairy farm running 900 cows and 160ha planted in maize. The rest of the property is in forestry or retired land.

“We’ve been there since 1955,” Gray says. “I’m the third generation, my son runs the farm and we’ve got three grandsons running around the place now.” . . 

The rest of the story about animal agriculture and climate:

Frank Mitloehner is on a mission.

In the wake of a United Nations report pinning much of human-caused global warming on animal agriculture and promoting veganism as the logical alternative, Mitloehner, a professor of animal science and air quality specialist at the University of California-Davis, wants to set the record straight.

In doing that, he is encouraging farmers and ranchers to tell the public, as radioman Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”

While the U.N. report pointed out that cattle and other animals do indeed produce the greenhouse gas methane — no secret there — he says the U.N. and “special friends” such as anti-animal agriculture activists and vegan promoters leave out important facts. . .

Estuary ‘riddled’ with whitebait:

Key to improving water quality is increasing NZ’s wetlands – after 90 per cent were drained.

It’s not everyone who can relax after a hard day’s work, throw out a line and hook a snapper for dinner from their own backyard.

Tapora dairy farmer Earle Wright can. Yet his good fortune is not due to luck or some inside knowledge about a secret fishing spot.

Rather it is a payback for years of effective environmental stewardship of his 120ha farm, a property backing on to an estuary in the Kaipara Harbour north of Auckland. . .

Cost should not shut borrower out of mediation sharemilkers say:

The Sharemilkers Section of Federated Farmers strongly supports the Farm Debt Mediation Bill (No 2) but would like to see changes to ensure a borrower isn’t shut out of the process because they can’t afford it.

The legislation could make it compulsory for lenders to make funds available to farmers to fund their share of mediation costs, Sharemilkers Chairperson Richard McIntyre told the Primary Production Select Committee this morning.

Alternatively, it could require the lender to fund the mediation, “which we as a sector would no doubt fund indirectly through increased fees”. . . 

Zanda McDonald Award winners have bright futures – Jessica Johnston:

TWO young guns are making great strides in the northern beef industry, proving the future of agriculture is in safe hands.

The passion and commitment to their chosen careers has seen Queenslander Shannon Landmark and the NT’s Luke Evans offered a unique mentoring opportunity under the Zanda McDonald Award, which recognises outstanding young professionals in the ag sector.

Ms Landmark, 28, was born in Mount Isa to a mining family, and garnered an interest in agriculture throughout her time in regional Queensland. . . 

 


2020 Zanda McDonald Award entries open

03/08/2019

Applications for the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award have opened:

Flying around Australia and New Zealand in a private jet, and being mentored by some of the greatest leaders in the agriculture industry might sound like a bit of a pipe dream, but it will be a dream come true for one young Kiwi or Aussie again next year.

Applications for the prestigious 2020 Zanda McDonald Award open today, and the search is on to find talented and passionate young individuals working in the ag sector to apply.

Now in its sixth year, the award provides the winner with an impressive personal development package that includes an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip, $2000 cash, and the ability to get up close and personal with leaders in the Australasian ag sector through the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group. Some travel takes place in a privately chartered Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, enabling the winner to reach diverse and remote farming operations.

Richard Rains, Chairman of the Zanda McDonald Award, says the award is widely seen as a career and life-changing experience, that can really help take them to the next level.

“We’ve been lucky to discover some inspiring young people since the award began, with quite diverse backgrounds. But the one thing they all have in common is a real passion for the industry, and a hunger to make a difference. I’m really excited to see who will be uncovered this year. The prize is quite something, but even if you don’t win, there are still some wonderful opportunities if you make it into the top three, so I’d encourage anyone considering it to throw their hat in the ring.”

Previous winners have included a dairy farmer, a sheep and beef farmer, a business manager of a sheep milk company, and a beef extension officer. Earlier this year, for the first time, two people were crowned with the title – Queenslander Shannon Landmark, 28, and Luke Evans, also 28, from the Northern Territory.

Landmark is a trained vet and the coordinator of the Northern Genomics Project at the University of Queensland, where she focusses on improving genetic selection and reproductive technology. Evans, 28, is the Station Manager at Rockhampton Downs Station, a 450,000-hectare beef property in Tennant Creek. For Evans, it came as a huge surprise.

“I’m just a bush kid, and I wasn’t that comfortable putting myself out there, but my boss encouraged me to put an application in. And I can honestly say it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve already met some really great people, everyone has been so welcoming. I can’t wait to spend some time with them on my mentoring trip later this year, to find out how they’ve succeeded in business, and how I can further develop my skills.”

Applications are open to individuals aged 18 – 35 years, who live and work in the agriculture sector in Australia or New Zealand. Entries close on Friday 30th August 2019.

Further details and an online application form can be found on the PPP Group website – www.pppgroup.org


Double winners for Zanda McDonald Award

22/05/2019

A media release from Allflex:

For the first time in the award’s five-year history, not one but two young Australian agriculturalists have been crowned as winners of the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award.

Queenslander Shannon Landmark, 27, and Luke Evans, 29, from the Northern Territory will share this prestigious badge of honour, which seeks to recognise young professionals in the primary sector from Australia and New Zealand.

Landmark is a trained vet, and the coordinator of the Northern Genomics Project at the University of Queensland. Her work focusses on improving genetic selection and reproductive technology, and sees her working with beef producers, beef extension officers from state governments, consultants and vets, and university researchers and scientists.

Evans, 29, is the Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture, based at Rockhampton Downs Station, a 450,000-hectare beef property in Tennant Creek Northern Territory. He not only runs this significant operation, but also mentors’ youth, and provides on-the-job training and employment opportunities at the property.

Richard Rains, Chairman of the Zanda McDonald Award, says “The judges were faced with a very tough decision when it came to singling out one winner, as both Shannon and Luke are carving out their own distinct and different paths in their careers. However, we just couldn’t separate the two on their leadership qualities, determination and spirit,”

We felt that both would get immense value from the prize, particularly the tailored mentoring package, which will provide them with a great insight into some of the best agriculture farms and companies in the industry. We’re committed to recognising and supporting talented young individuals in the ag sector, and this prize package will really help take both of their careers to the next level.”

Landmark and Evans were initially shortlisted with four other candidates, with interviews held in Brisbane last October. Following these interviews, they were named as finalists alongside kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms, a 6300-hectare dairy operation in Oamaru, North Otago NZ.

The award, sponsored by Allflex, Pilatus, CBRE Agribusiness, Zoetis, MDH and Rabobank, was presented last night in Port Douglas at the annualPlatinum Primary Producers (PPP) Gala Dinner. This was part of the group’s annual PPP Conference, a group comprising of 150 influential agri-business men and women from across Australasia, of which Zanda McDonald was a foundation member.

Landmark and Evans will each receive a prize package which includes a trans-Tasman mentoring trip to farming operations and businesses from within the PPP network, $1,000 cash, a place on Rabobank’s Farm Managers Program,  and membership to the PPP Group. The pair will each travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of their Australian mentoring trips, enabling them to reach diverse and remote farming operations.


Rural round-up

14/11/2018

Mackenzie Country and Waitaki: Balancing the extremes – Sally Rae:

Over the past two decades, the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley have undergone significant change.

The region has gone from a little known backwater to one of the highest profile battlegrounds over environmental protection and agricultural intensification, farmer Annabelle Subtil says.

The Omarama woman  addressed  delegates at the New Zealand Grassland Association’s 80th annual conference in Twizel last week. . . 

Farmers find irrigation can be controversial -Sally Rae:

For Glenn and Sarah Fastier, farming Simons Hill Station  on the eastern side of State Highway 8 between Tekapo and Twizel  is like living in a glasshouse.

The Mackenzie district was an area  many New Zealanders felt connected to and, when it came to land use, there were a lot of differing opinions as to what was appropriate, Mr Fastier said.

They farm next to Simons Pass Station, where a high-profile dairying operation is being established by  Dunedin businessman Murray Valentine,  attracting the ire of environmental activists.

“There’s definitely a different public perception on anything related to dairy. I don’t often think it’s justified. . . 

Guiney for the protest and McBride for the promise – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra shareholders have spoken loudly with the re-election of Leonie Guiney and election of soon-to-be-former Zespri chairman Peter McBride.

One director position is unfilled because incumbent Ashley Waugh, Maori farming leader Jamie Tuuta and multi-farm Canterbury candidate John Nicholls did not reach the required 50% approval of votes cast.

Waugh’s failure to reach the threshold is another aspect of the protest vote and the mood for change among farmer-shareholders after Fonterra’s worst year in financial results and setbacks. . . 

Details vague on proposed rewards scheme – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra will introduce a single on-farm assurance and recognition scheme including the existing milk quality, animal welfare and environmental requirements.

The scheme will begin next season, farmers at the annual meeting in Lichfield were told.

Chairman John Monaghan said the new scheme has not been named and Farm Source employees will interview farmers on the types of recognition and rewards it should contain.

“Once the commercial value is better understood we will decide whether to expand the programme to include financial incentives.”

A small minority of farmers who do not meet minimum standards will be subject to demerits, as is the case now. . . 

Profits up at Westland Milk pre-tax – Brendon McMahon:

Westland Milk Products yesterday posted a before-tax profit of $3.25million as it tries to claw its way to profitability.

Last year’s before-tax profit was just $29,000.

On releasing its annual report the West Coast farmer-owned co-operative acknowledged it was still not industry competitive and lacked “financial flexibility” due to high debt levels and the need for more working capital. . . 

Four Mycoplasma bovis myths busted:

Many farmers are going through a challenging time with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. But the Ministry for Primary Industries says their stress and anxiety is being compounded by some misinformation. Here the MPI dispels some of those myths:

Myth 1: Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand since around 2004

All of the available research, as well as data collated during on-farm investigations, indicates that Mycoplasma bovis is likely to have arrived in New Zealand in late 2015 to early 2016. Although investigations are ongoing, two pieces of evidence give MPI confidence about that: . . 

Three young leaders up for major agribusiness award :

THREE young agriculturalists from Australia and New Zealand are through to the final for the prestigious 2019 Zanda McDonald Award. 

The award is widely recognised as a badge of honour in the agriculture industry, recognising future leaders and innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

The 2019 finalists are made up by two Australians and one New Zealander, who were described by judges as ‘diverse and equally impressive’.  . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2018

2019 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced: 

Six young agriculture professionals from both sides of the Tasman have been announced for the prestigious badge of honour for the primary industry, the Zanda McDonald Award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognises innovative young professionals in agriculture from across Australasia. Five Australians and one New Zealander have been selected as finalists for the 2019 award based on their passion for agriculture, strong leadership skills, and their vision for the primary industry.

The shortlist is made up by Australians Alice Mabin 32, owner of Alice Mabin Pty Ltd in Linthorpe Queensland, Harry Kelly, 26, Manager of Mooramook Pastoral Co. in Caramut Victoria, Luke Evans, 28, Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture in Tennant Creek Northern Territory, Nick Boshammer, 30, Director of NBG Holdings Pty Ltd in Chinchilla Queensland, and Shannon Landmark, 27, Co-ordinator of the Northern Genomics Project of the University of Queensland. Kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms in Oamaru, North Otago rounds off the six. . . 

Kiwi farmers take on growing South American super food – Catherine Groenestein:

Growing Taranaki’s first commercial crop of quinoa was challenge enough, but finding a combine harvester in a district devoted to dairying proved tougher.

Luckily for Hamish and Kate Dunlop of Hāwera, they found someone who owns the only suitable machine in the region living just down the road.

The couple’s journey into growing a crop native to South America on their sheep and beef farm began with a discussion about whether quinoa, a food the health-conscious family was already familiar with, would grow in South Taranaki, Kate said. . .

 The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers – Point of Order:

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. . .

Much more mozzarella – Chris Tobin:

Cutting-edge technology used in Fonterra’s new mozzarella line at its Clandeboye plant is the first of its kind in the world, and being kept under wraps.

”It’s the result of years of investment into R&D and hard work at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre,” Clandeboye cheese plant manager Chris Turner said.

”The work has been supported in part by the Primary Growth Partnership between the Government, Fonterra and Dairy NZ.

”Other than that we can’t tell you too much more. . .

Fonterra steers clear of consultants after paying millions to McKinseys – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will not use external consultants for its newly-announced everything-on-the-table asset review, the dairy processor says. This follows allegations it paid up to $100 million a year between 2015 and 2017 to global consultancy giant McKinsey as part of its “Velocity” cost-cutting and restructuring programme.

It also forked out millions of dollars in CEO and other staff bonuses as part of its Velocity Leadership Incentive scheme. . .

Balle and Coull to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ shareholders have chosen Dacey Balle and Duncan Coull from an unprecedented field of 19 candidates to join the Co-operative’s Board, representing the North Island.

Murray Taggart, who retired by rotation this year, was unopposed in the South Island Ward and re-elected to the Board – while the decisions of Gray Baldwin to not seek re-election and Donna Smit to step down in the North Island Ward, opened a rare opportunity to secure a governance role with a leading rural business. . .


Rural round-up

04/07/2018

Dairy prices tumble 5% at latest auction – Gerard Hutching:

Prices plunged at the latest global dairy auction by 5 per cent per cent to reach an average of US$3232, the most dramatic decrease seen in the index this year.

The price for New Zealand’s key export whole milk powder (WMP) was US$2905, a fall of 7.3 per cent. Futures markets had suggested WMP might fall by 1 per cent. 

AgriHQ said Fonterra’s latest Global Dairy Update appeared to have given the market the jitters, especially for WMP. . . 

Trade dispute causes dairy prices to tumble – Fran O’Leary:

Dairy markets appear to be reacting negatively to President Donald Trump’s decision to place tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, and on a number of Chinese products.

“In retaliation, Mexico announced that they will place a tariff on U.S. cheese, and China announced tariffs on some dairy products, corn, soybeans and other products. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. cheese,” says Bob Cropp, University of Wisconsin Extension dairy economist.

“In 2017, Mexico accounted for 28.3% of U.S. cheese exports. While these tariffs didn’t take effect until July, and the degree of impact on U.S. dairy exports is unknown at this time, dairy product prices have already fallen.” . . 

2019 Zanda McDonald Award now open:

Talented young agri-leaders from Australia and New Zealand are being urged to apply for the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award. Applications for this prestigious award open today, with an impressive prize package worth over $50,000 up for grabs.

Now in its fifth year, the award provides the winner with an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip, $1,000 cash, a place on Rabobank’s Farm Managers Course, and access to the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group – a network of over 150 influential agri-business men and women from across Australasia.

Richard Rains, Chairman of the Zanda McDonald Award, says the award provides a fantastic opportunity for young agricultural leaders to further their career and their personal development. . . 

Backing our Southern men:

There’s something magical about having a hometown advantage.

But that advantage comes with a twist for two southern men who are competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Invercargill this week.

Technically, there are two southerners competing in the final, but they represent different regions in the contest. 

Logan Wallace, 28, leases his parents farm at Waipahi in south Otago and is the Otago-Southland regional finalist, while Cameron Black, 25, who is based in Christchurch as a rural consultant for New Zealand Agri Brokers is the Aorangi regional finalist. . . 

A2 Synlait agree to extend infant formula supply deal – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy marketer A2 Milk and milk processor Synlait Milk have agreed to extend their infant formula supply deal and increase the volume of formula Synlait will supply as the two continue to focus on sales in the lucrative Chinese market.

A2 and Synlait first signed a supply agreement in 2012 to support the milk marketing firm’s plans to launch infant formula sales into China, and inked a new deal in August 2016 providing for increased scale if market demand warranted it.

The companies’ arrangements were for a minimum of five years from 2016, with a rolling three-year term from August this year, but have been extended by two years so will last until at least July 2023. Synlait will increase the volume of infant formula products it is A2’s exclusive supplier for and increase its committed production capacity. . .

Latest report from Land and Water Forum:

The Government has said it will act immediately on some recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. This includes prioritising action in the most “at-risk” catchments.

Advice was sought by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor on a number of issues on waterways and the primary sector.

“The Government will act on some of the Forum’s recommendations immediately, while the remaining recommendations will be considered in more detail as part of our work programme,” David Parker said. . .

First female arable chair joins Feds national board:

Federated Farmers has a new board member as a result of elections held during last week’s national conference in Wellington.

Karen Williams, who was elected arable chairperson at that industry group’s annual meeting in Timaru in June, was elected to the national board by delegates from Federated Farmers’ 24 provinces. She replaces Guy Wigley, who stepped down after three years as arable leader. . . 

A new chapter in the history of Vidal – one of New Zealand’s oldest wineries:

On June 30 the doors of the Vidal Estate winery and restaurant in Hastings closed for the last time. It was a historic moment for the winery established by pioneer Anthony Vidal in 1905, but the future of Vidal Estate looks bright with the relocation to a new state-of-the-art winery located in the Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay.

To make great wine, the closer to the vineyards the better, said Hugh Crichton, winemaker at Vidal Estate. “It was an exciting time to move our winemaking base out to the Gimblett Gravels for vintage 2018. While it has been immensely satisfying to ferment and age our wines in the historic cellars in Hastings there’s no denying there were challenges. Being closer to our vineyards and working within a winery designed for quality will without a doubt further push us into the premium market”. . . .

Leading New Zealand winery-based hospitality business placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest winery-based tourism and hospitality operations – encompassing vineyards, a function centre, restaurant, and high-end accommodation – has been placed on the market for sale.

Mahana Estates just west of Nelson generates income from four revenue streams which operate both independently and conjunction with each other.

The Mahana Estates property portfolio encompasses:
• A 21-hectare vineyard planted in pinot noir, pinot gris, Riesling and chardonnay
• A nine hectare sauvignon blanc vineyard in the nearby region of Hope
• A 2,589 square metre four-level winery capable of crushing 500 tonnes of grapes annually and sustained by its own on-site cellaring facility and bottling plant which operates on a gravity feed system to minimize the need for pumps . . 

Aussie grain giant puts mega farm up for sale – Chris Mccullough:

The owner of the 495,000 acre farm is asking $72 to $82 million
for what is one of Australia’s largest arable operations

One of Australia’s biggest arable farms extending to 495,000 acres is up for sale at a price tag of $72 to $82 million.

Western Australian grain giant John Nicoletti decided to retire from grain farming at 64 years old. . .


Rural round-up

07/04/2018

Consumers drive winner’s farming – Richard Rennie:

His work has earned him an award that will allow him to mix with Australasia’s agribusiness elite on an equal footing but Thomas Macdonald, now involved in the developing sheep milk sector, never forgets the consumers who make it all possible. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

This year’s Zanda McDonald award winner is no stranger to collecting scholarships and awards for his efforts to look longer and harder at the challenges and opportunities in the pastoral sector.

Thomas Macdonald, business manager for Spring Sheep Milk Company, has been awarded the prestigious Platinum Primary Producer (PPP) Zanda McDonald award valued at $50,000 in recognition of his work in the sector and his continuing contribution to the innovative sheep milk company. . . 

Scenic outlook part of Coop family farm on Mahia Peninsula – Kate Taylor:

A Mahia farming couple won three awards in the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Kate Taylor reports.

Okepuha Station has a bird’s eye view of the Rocket Lab launching pad on Mahia Peninsula and Richard and Hannah Coop love farming the windswept Hawke’s Bay coastline.

Richard and Hannah are the fourth generation Coops to farm at Mahia in more than a century. The family’s long association with the peninsula began back in 1905 when land was bought by Richard’s great grandfather.

The 940ha Okepuha Station was farmed by Richard’s parents, Will and Cathy, from the 1970s until recently when Richard and Hannah took over the farm business. . .

Otago University research revives dry-aging of meat – Rob Tipa:

Dry aging meat concentrates the flavour. Rob Tipa reports on a scientist who is working on an electrifying new aspect.

Meat researchers at the University of Otago are reviving an ancient technique to age and tenderise meat by exploring new technologies to make the process more efficient for commercial meat processors.

Tanyaradzwa Mungure, a PhD student in the Department of Food Science at Otago, won an award for his presentation of research into dry aging of meat at an international meat science conference recently in Ireland. . .

Farmers donate hay bales to other farmers in need –  Maja Burry:

Midhirst dairy farmers in Taranaki are donating any hay bales they can spare to farmers in coastal parts of the region who are facing a feed shortage.

The dry summer has had a significant impact on pasture and crops across the drought-hit region, with growth rates estimated to be down by at least 40 percent.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust chair Mike Green said coastal Taranaki had been particularly hard hit, with many farmers having to dry off their herds early and reduce stock numbers as they did not have enough feed. . . 

Book details history of Alexandra basin wine – Yvonne O’Hara:

It will be 30 years this year since the first modern-day wine made in the Alexandra basin was sold.

In his new book Latitude 45.15S – among the world’s southernmost vineyards journalist, Otago Daily Times columnist, bed and breakfast co-owner and author Ric Oram said 2400 bottles of Black Ridge gewurztraminer and riesling and 2000 bottles of assorted William Hill varieties were sold in 1988.

Bill Grant, of William Hill vineyard, and Verdun Burgess, of Black Ridge, sent their grapes to Rippon vineyard in Wanaka to be made into wine by Tony Bish. . . 

NZ carpet maker Cavalier on growth path after emerging from ‘tough’ restructuring – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corp is emerging from a “tough” period after an influx of cheaper synthetics forced it to restructure its business to compete. It has now streamlined its operations and with most of the pain now behind it, is stepping up investment in innovation and marketing as it eyes rising consumer demand for natural woollen products.

The carpet market has undergone rapid change over the past 20 years, with woollen carpets in New Zealand shrinking to about 15 percent of sales from 80 percent as cheaper synthetics made inroads. In response, Cavalier sold uncompetitive assets like its carpet tile business in Australia, began manufacturing its own synthetic range, and consolidated its woollen felting and yarn spinning operations. . . 


Thomas Macdonald wins Zanda McDonald Award

21/03/2018

Thomas Macdonald is the 1918 winner of the Zanda McDonald Award:

Thomas Macdonald, 24 year old Business Manager of Waikato-based Spring Sheep Milk Company, and Sir Don Llewellyn scholar, has scooped the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.

The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Now in its fourth year, the award is run by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group – a network of over 150 of Australasia’s influential agri-business men and women, of which Zanda McDonald was a foundation member.

Thomas Macdonald was initially shortlisted with six other candidates, after the award attracted the largest number of applicants received so far.

Following interviews in Auckland in November, Macdonald was named as a finalist alongside fellow kiwi Lisa Kendall, 25 year old owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd and vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club, and Australian Janet Reddan 33, former agronomist now cattle producer from Roma, Queensland.

The award, sponsored by Allflex, Rabobank and Pilatus, was presented last night in Taupo at the annual PPP Conference. Macdonald receives a prize package valued at $50,000, which includes a trans-Tasman mentoring trip to farming operations and businesses, a place on one of Rabobank’s Business Management Programs and $1,000 cash prize. Macdonald will travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of his Australian mentoring trip, enabling him to reach diverse and remote farming operations.

Mr Macdonald said he was thrilled to have been chosen, and is particularly excited about the opportunity to get direct access to the wealth of knowledge that exists within the PPP group’s membership.

“It’s a real privilege to win the 2018 award, and I’m humbled to be associated with Zanda’s name. I’m looking forward to spending time with some of agriculture’s top business professionals, and expanding my horizons and networks.

Shane McManaway, Chairman of the PPP Group, says: “Thomas is a remarkable young man. To have achieved as much as he has in 24 years is quite something, and a great credit to him. His intelligence, understanding of agriculture and big-picture thinking make him well placed as a future leader in our industry. I feel confident that Thomas will embrace the mentoring opportunities provided by winning the Zanda McDonald Award, and look forward to seeing his career progress”.

The award is named after Zanda MacDonald, a Queensland Farmer and founding member of the PPP Group who died in 2013.

In his honour the PPP group launched the Zanda McDonald Award. This award aims to recognise young people working in the primary industry sectors in New Zealand and Australia, and support their future career development. The total prize package is valued at $50,000.

Zanda was proud to be a farmer and worked tirelessly to encourage young people to work in the industry that he loved. As part of his role in the PPP group he led a number of initiatives to promote his industry to the next generation.

The inaugural was won by Emma Black from Queensland in 2015. Dean Rabbidge from Southland was the 2016 winner and Morgan Easton from North Otago won last year.


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