Rural round-up

June 20, 2019

Resilient farmer moves on to new fields:

Doug Avery, author of The Resilient Farmer, has launched a new workshop to help farmers improve their mental health and their businesses.

Avery is changing direction in his life, hitting the third age with a new venture.

Over two decades, Avery took his family farm – Bonavaree, near Lake Grassmere in southern Marlborough – from a 206ha struggle to a 2600ha multi-million venture thanks to “God’s own plant” lucerne. . . 

Fully automated milking several decades away – Dairy NZ – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Industry body Dairy NZ sees fully automated milking as a major opportunity to lift on-farm productivity, but doesn’t expect it to be commonplace for several decades.

About 44 percent of the country’s dairy herd are milked in more efficient rotary dairy sheds, despite the style accounting for just over a quarter of the nation’s sheds. About 72 percent of the country’s dairy sheds are the less efficient herringbone style.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the impact of technology on the future of work, Dairy NZ said rotary dairy sheds have the highest uptake of automation, with 77 percent using automated technology. However, out of New Zealand’s 12,000 or so dairy farmers, there are just 25 fully robotic dairy sheds. . .

More sheep with facial eczema amid prolonged Autumn conditions:

Prolonged, mild weather in Autumn appears to have caused high rates of facial eczema in sheep in some parts of the North Island.

The disease is caused by toxin in a fungus that grows in grass. The toxin affects cattle, sheep, goats and deer and can result in liver and skin damage and weight loss, which can stop animals from falling pregnant and in some cases result in death.

It is estimated that production losses caused by the disease are around $200 million annually in New Zealand. . .

Awards call for biosecurity champions:

Entries are now open for the 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards. These Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to protecting our country against pests and diseases.

The Awards acknowledge people and organisations across New Zealand who are contributing to biosecurity – in our communities, businesses, iwi and hapū, government, in the bush, our oceans and waterways, and in our backyards.

“Some New Zealander’s don’t understand that the work they’re doing is part of our biosecurity system – from trapping, to pest and disease management in our forests, rivers and oceans, these are all biosecurity actions,” Roger Smith, Head of Biosecurity New Zealand said. . .

Primary ITO gains fresh recognition:

Primary ITO has received the Minister of Education’s seal of approval to continue its work as an industry training organisation.

Under the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act, ITOs apply for “recognition” every five years, undergoing a thorough check by central agencies and requiring them to seek indications of support from relevant sectors.

“It is great news that the Minister has approved Primary ITO’s ongoing coverage of our agriculture, horticulture, processing and services sectors,” says Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons. . . .

Pastoral sector poised to cope with gas limits:

As the government’s rules on managing green-house gases becomes clearer, New Zealand’s pastoral sector is well positioned to handle the changes that the rules will bring to it.

Announced in early May, the Zero Carbon Bill aims to differentiate between carbon dioxide release and methane losses from livestock, and has set separate targets for each.

Farmers are required to reduce methane losses from livestock by 10% by 2030 and 24-47% by 2050, while the economy’s entire carbon dioxide emissions have to drop to zero by 2050. . .

Land O’Lakes CEO: Farmers are in crisis—and America isn’t paying attention – Beth Ford:

Imagine, if you can, a computer virus that cut the productivity of AppleGoogle, and Facebook in half. Or try to imagine Wall Street’s investment bankers seeing a season’s worth of deals washed away. Such calamities would dominate our nation’s news and drive swift political action. Yet that is precisely what America’s farmers face right now. And, as a country, we aren’t paying nearly enough attention.

Farmers are generally too proud and humble to speak out, but the truth is we are living through an extremely difficult period of market turmoil and natural disasters. Due largely to sustained low commodity prices, average farm income in 2017 was $43,000, while the median farm income for 2018 was negative$1,500. In 2018, Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the farm states across the Midwest that are responsible for nearly half of all sales of U.S farm products rose to the highest level in a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2019

New machine to help export traceability:

AgResearch is developing a method of giving New Zealand exports a “unique fingerprint” that scientifically proves their provenance and could be used to deter supply-chain fraud.

The technology is so accurate that it can differentiate New Zealand, English and Welsh lamb using a measurement that only takes a few seconds. It can also detect what feed – such as grain, grass or chicory – a carcass was reared on, an increasingly important trait driving consumer spending. . . 

Click here for more: https://vimeo.com/340251207/7367c5e18b

Dr Alastair Ross said the new rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) machine being used at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus detects the “molecular phenotype” of a sample, a unique “fingerprint” made up of molecules resulting from the interaction of genes and the environment. This measurement, which previously took over an hour of lab work, can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. . . 

Farmer submissions encouraged on ZCB:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle is encouraging dairy farmers to speak up and make a submission on the Government’s proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

“DairyNZ welcomes the opportunity to engage constructively and share our perspective on this Bill and are encouraging dairy farmers right across New Zealand to do the same” says Dr Mackle.

“The potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for our sector. That’s why farmer engagement is so important. . .

New Zealand women’s meat industry group launched – Angie Skerrett:

A group for women working in the meat industry in New Zealand has been launched, in an effort to attract more women into the sector.

The New Zealand launch of Meat Business Women (MBW) is the latest in a rapid expansion of the organisation which was started in the UK.

The group held its inaugural meeting in Napier, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector. . .

Farmer satisfaction with banks continues to slide:

Farmers’ overall satisfaction with their banks remains strong but it is declining steadily, the Federated Farmers 11th biennial banking survey shows.

Satisfaction rates are at their lowest since the survey began in August 2015.

“More than 1300 of our farmer members responded to the survey we commissioned from Research First and overall satisfaction with banks has dropped over the last six months from 74% to 71%,” Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Proceed with caution on speed limit changes:

Safety of people on our roads is a top priority but any move to reduce speed limits should not be an excuse to skimp on road maintenance and upgrading, Federated Farmers says.

“There are some rural roads which are too windy, narrow and bumpy to drive on safely at 100 km/hr,” Feds transport spokesperson Karen Williams says. “It may indeed be wise to post a lower speed limit on such routes, though the overriding rule ‘drive to the conditions’ springs to mind.”

However, the blanket and widespread speed limit reductions being suggested in the wake of data from a new NZTA mapping tool could cause far more harm than good. . .

Comvita CEO to step down, Hewlett to lead strategic review Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita’s chief executive for the past four years, Scott Coulter, is stepping down in September and, while it searches for a replacement, former CEO Brett Hewlett is taking on a temporary executive role to review the company’s underperforming assets.

Coulter will retain a governance role in the manuka honey products company’s business in China business.

“Scott’s commitment to Comvita since joining the company in 2003 has been outstanding,” says chair Neil Craig. . .


Rural round-up

June 2, 2019

National’s support ends if methane targets don’t change – Simon Edwards:

National will not support the Zero Carbon Bill passing into law if “ridiculous” methane targets are not wound back, the party’s climate change spokesperson Todd Muller said.

“I totally reject the view that when there is no ability to mitigate (methane emissions), you just push on regardless,” he told the Federated Farmers Taranaki agm in Stratford on May 24.

Farmers had some tough questions for him on why National had supported the bill in its first reading.  Muller said he achieved “about eight of the ten things I wanted” in terms of the framework for a new Climate Change Commission, and it was “better to be in there wrestling for something sensible” than throwing rocks from the outside . .

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters – Point of Order:

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China. . . 

The value of meaningful protest – Gavin Forrest:

I value the right to protest. Without protest and people standing up for a better society or against threats to their current way of life many of my friends would not be able to exist in the way they do today.

Farming wouldn’t  be the way it is today if it were not for the actions of those who came before us.  

While still in shock farmers protested in the streets of Wellington against a background of having subsides ripped from them with little to no consultation and at breakneck speed in the 1980s. . .

Woman makes history at dog trial championships – Sally Rae:

Sheer grit helped former Otago woman Steph Tweed make history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship.

Miss Tweed (27) won both the North Island and New Zealand championship straight hunt at the New Zealand championships in Northland this week with Grit, whom she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime” dog.

It was an all-male final, apart from Miss Tweed, who topped the first round with 97 points to clinch the North Island title, and then won the run-off with 95.5 points to secure the national title. . .

Women set to drive change in New Zealand’s meat industry :

Woman working in the meat industry have gathered for an inaugural meeting of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women (MBW) in Napier this week, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector.

Ashley Gray, General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Chair of MBW New Zealand has been instrumental in launching the professional networking initiative here in Aotearoa and says there is plenty the group can achieve once underway.

“Once I began on this journey, the interactions I had with women working in the supply chain, were for me – revolutionary. Women in our sector are incredibly passionate. They are forward thinkers, conversation starters, game changers, shakers and movers and I believe, collectively, have a huge role to play in shaping how the meat industry is perceived and operates in years to come. . . 

Appropriate rural midwifery resourcing must be addressed:

The College of Midwives is calling on health officials and the Minister to urgently address the shortage of midwives and facilities in the Southland DHB region.

The College’s Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says contrary to the DHB CEO, an ambulance is not an entirely appropriate place to have a baby – something that happened earlier this week between Lumsden and Invercargill.

“I’m not going to repeat the issues related to having a baby on the side of a road in an ambulance however this is something that underlines significant ongoing issues in this area of New Zealand,” she says. . . 

Jersey cows star in new single-breed milk launch:

Lewis Road Creamery today launched a new range of milk sourced solely from Jersey cows, as it unveiled the first single-breed standard milk to go on sale in supermarkets nationwide.

“The Jersey cow is rightly famous for her milk. It is richer, creamier, with higher butterfat and a more velvety texture,“ said Peter Cullinane. “A single-breed milk really lets those qualities shine.”

Mr Cullinane said as a dairy producing nation, New Zealanders deserved to have access to the best possible drinking milk, free from PKE and permeate. . . 

New directors elected to Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board welcomes re-elected directors Barry O’Neil and Hugh Ritchie, as well as new director Kathryn de Bruin, after four candidates contested three vacant Director roles.

Kathryn de Bruin joins the Board with a wealth of experience in the vegetable sector. Based in Dargaville, she splits her time between an accountancy practice focused on the primary sector, and growing 40ha of kumara with her husband Andre.

Katikati kiwifruit grower and Chair of Tomatoes NZ, Barry O’Neil offered himself for re-election, and has served as Board President since the departure of former President Julian Raine at the end of last year. . . 


Subsidies ignore science

May 29, 2019

The Carbon Zero Bill isn’t being led by science when it comes to methane:

Farmers should be able to use forests to offset methane and nitrous oxide emissions, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton says.

And he says fossil fuel emitters should not be allowed to use forest to offset their gas.

That will lead to better quality land use change.

Upton was responding to farmers’ concern the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will lead to wholesale afforestation with inevitable land use change in response to climate change.

But the shape of that land use change can be better managed by farmers working together and taking a landscape approach to establishing forests rather than blanket planting by those seeking to simply offset their emissions, Upton said.

“That’s the bit I think needs to be thought about a bit harder.” . . 

Farmers are more than concerned about this.

We’re all exhorted to follow the science on climate change but the government is going against the science in allowing fossil fuel emitters to offset their gas with forests.

It’s doubling the damage by not allowing farmers to offset methane emissions with trees.

It’s also going against the Paris Accord which said emissions mitigation shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

The sale of productive farmland for forestry is already having a negative impact or rural communities:

Subsidies for forestry are distorting the market for farmland, killing jobs and the science says it won’t work to offset fossil fuel emissions.

Politics, bureaucracy and emotion trump science and facts again and farmers and rural communities will pay the cost.


Rural round-up

May 21, 2019

Farmers are right to ask questions – Bryan Gibson:

Last week Regional Development Minister Shane Jones called farmers a bunch of moaners for voicing concerns about the billion trees policy and the Zero Carbon Bill.

We’ll put aside the fact that it’s not a great way to engage with a large and important constituency for now. But Jones must realise his policies have consequences that are going to alter rural New Zealand forever.

In last week’s editorial I urged farmers to get on board with the Zero Carbon Bill as a concept because it provides a path to sustainability and can ensure our customers continue to be happy to hear our farming story. That means they’ll also be happy to keep buying our food. The details of it, which are not yet set in stone, can be challenged but the concept is sound. . .

Merit award acknowledges shepherd’s class:

Nic Blanchard’s happy place is running around the hills with her team of dogs.

Ms Blanchard is a shepherd at Long Gully Station, at Tarras, where she also classes the property’s hogget clip.

Earlier this month, her classing prowess was acknowledged when she was presented with a merit award for the mid micron category at the New Zealand Wool Classers Association’s annual awards.

It was PGG Wrightson Wool Central Otago representative Graeme Bell who thought the clip was worthy of nomination for the awards and put it forward. . .

Dairy can protect water gain – TIm Fulton:

Water carried Graeme Sutton’s forebears to a life of freedom in New Zealand and it keeps doing the same for them on land. Tim Fultonreports.

Five generations ago, in 1842 Graeme Sutton’s English family landed in Nelson. 

It was the start of a family partnership that has endured and expanded into several irrigated dairy ventures.

“The reason they came out, I understand, is that New Zealand gave them an opportunity for land ownership. They never had that in England. They just worked for a Lord,” Graeme says. . . .

Exciting journey to Grand Final – Sally Rae:

As Georgie Lindsay prepares for the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer Contest in July, she admits it had been an exciting yet unplanned journey.

Ms Lindsay (24) has been working as a shepherd in North Canterbury. When she “tagged along” with a couple of members of her local Young Farmers Club who were competing in the district final, she never dreamed she would reach the pinnacle of the event.

In the past, she had been playing a lot of sport and she never had a spare weekend to have a crack at the competition. This year was the first time that she could do it justice and she decided to give it a go. . .

Regional population surge puts pressure on rural GPs:

Medical practices around Northland are closing their doors to new patients – as they struggle with a shortage of GPs and a surge in population growth.

It’s a perfect storm of sorts – with many GPs reaching patient capacity just as a wave of retirees cash in on house prices in cities like Auckland – and move north.

In the Far North, medical centres in Kaitaia and Coopers Beach – a popular retirement location – are no longer accepting new patients, and in Whangarei, only two GP practices are taking new enrolments. . .

Warning predator free goal faces ‘conflicts’ and uncertainty – Kate

The goal of becoming predator free in 30 years could be hampered by conflicts, inadequate planning and uncertainty, a report warns

Predator Free 2050 aims for a coordinated, nationwide eradication of New Zealand’s most damaging introduced predators – rats, stoats and possums – compared to the current piecemeal controlling of limited areas.

A just released report from the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge looks at the predator free target as a large social movement, but said there were gaps that need to be addressed on social, cultural and ethical issues . .


Rural round-up

May 20, 2019

Focused on fixing the Zero Carbon Bill – Sam McIvor:

Sheep and beef farmers are on the frontline in dealing with the impacts of climate change and we’ve been ahead of the ball in responding to it.

That’s why we’ve publicly said the government’s Zero Carbon Bill is far from perfect, and we’ve been telling the government that things need to change in order to ensure that the bill treats all sectors of the economy equitably and justly in responding to climate change.

We’ve put together a comprehensive factsheet on the Zero Carbon Bill that I encourage you to read, as it’s vital that farmers understand why getting this bill fixed is so important for our sector.
There’s elements of the Zero Carbon Bill we do support, as they’re sensible and based in sound science:  . . .

Farmers air frustrations over climate change blame – Abbey Palmer:

Tension lay heavy in a room full of farmers this week, many of them feeling as though the whole country had been pointing the finger at them.

Climate change initiated an emotive response at the Southland Federated Farmers annual meeting at the Invercargill Working Men’s Club on Wednesday.

An attendee said he could no longer turn on the TV or radio without facing backlash from the public for being a farmer.

Federated Farmers member Stuart Collie said it seemed Parliament was encouraging the public to “attack” the farming and agricultural industries for the state of the environment. . .

More notices issued in Southland in relation to bovis – Blair Jackson:

The Ministry of Primary Industries say 22 Southland farms have been given notices of direction relating to Mycoplasma bovis in the past two weeks.

MPI regional recovery manager Richard McPhail said 22 more farmers now had restricted movement of cattle from their properties.

The news was announced at the Federated Farmers Southland AGM in Invercargill on Wednesday. . . 

Dairy with a delicate touch – Gerhard Uys:

The business of milking sheep is all about happy, skipping and jumping sheep for Felicity Cameron and at her Waikato dairy the welfare of her sheep seems to be paying off. Gerhard Uys reports.

If ever there was a Jill of all trades who ended up master of one, Felicity Cameron is it.

Cameron grew up in a Hawke’s Bay farming family. From a young age she took every opportunity to gain farming experience from family members and friends who also made a living from the land.

At 17 she began dairy farming full time. . .

Summerfruit NZ plans big spend for industry growth – Yvonne O’Hara:

Summerfruit New Zealand (SNZ) is planning to spend nearly $17 million during the next seven years to grow the summerfruit industry.

SNZ board chairman Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said the strategy was designed to move the industry forward as well as make money.

Two consultation meetings with growers and other industry stakeholders were held in Alexandra and Napier last week to outline its Sensational Summerfruit:A bold plan for growth programme and ask for feedback. . .

Bay of Plenty animal feed company Fiber Fresh Feeds in receivership:

A Bay of Plenty animal feed company which employs about 45 people has gone into receivership.

Fiber Fresh Feeds is based in Reporoa and has developed high-performance animal feed formulas, predominantly for horse and calf feed.

The company has more than 30 years’ experience in the field, receivers from financial advisory firm KordaMentha said in a statement.

It sells both within New Zealand, and to Japan, Australia and the Middle East. . .

Farm launches therapeutic horse meditation sessions

A Cumbrian hill farm has launched workshops that offer visitors meditation and therapy sessions with horses.

According to the farm, visitors can ‘escape for the day’ to an environment where the ‘stresses of the modern world are stripped away’.

Each retreat begins with a session of yoga, followed by meditation with the horses. . .


Rural round-up

May 14, 2019

Zero Carbon Bill is just the start for agriculture’s greenhouse gas adaptation – Keith Woodford:

The Zero Carbon Bill introduced to Parliament this week answers some questions but raises many others.  There are big challenges ahead for everyone, but particularly for farmers and their leaders.

As always, the devil will be in the details. These details have yet to be spelled out. More importantly, it is apparent that many of the details have yet to be determined.

If rural leaders wish to have some influence on these details, they will need to be much better skilled-up than in the past.  The next few months will be crucial as the Bill works its way through the committee stages for enactment. . . 

Brit chefs tell good lamb tales – Neal Wallace:

Kiwi lamb is once again featuring on British restaurant menus, earning its place because of its provenance and quality.

Six chefs from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore and four from New Zealand have spent the last week touring South Island farms as guests of Alliance.

The visitors said price had forced the lamb off some UK restaurant menus.

It is returning because of its provenance, consistent quality and portion size. . . 

Celebrating farming mothers – Trish Rankin:

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

I did not think I had a chance of winning. The other women were outstanding and I probably suffered from ‘imposter’ syndrome – not believing I deserved the title. . . 

Saffron a growing business – Gus Patterson:

Often regarded as the world’s most expensive spice, saffron is now being grown in the Waitaki Valley.

Kurow Saffron is a venture run by sisters Sarah Hines and Joanna Towler, who planted their first bulbs in January 2017.

The bulbs multiply over time, and this year had been more than twice as productive as last year, Mrs Hines said.

Saffron comes from the threads of the flower of Crocus sativus

It is a labour-intensive process, as about 100 flowers are needed to produce 1g of the spice. . . 

Third Time Lucky for 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award Winners:

The 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are a smart, humble and practical couple who are doing very well at dairy farming on a challenging property in Northland.

In front of a capacity audience of 580 people at Wellington’s TSB Arena last night, Colin and Isabella Beazley from Northland were named the 2019 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Canterbury’s Matt Redmond became the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Nicola Blowey, also from Canterbury was announced the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $210,000.

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the Beazley’s impressed the judges with their resilience, team work and attention-to-detail. “They are such a great team and complement each other with their roles on farm.” . . 

New Zealand Olive Oils score in New York:

Results announced today show four New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oils were among the top winning oils in the world as judged at the 2019 New York International Olive Oil Competition

Loopline Picholene, which was Best in Show at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Gold.

Juno Picual, which was Best Boutique at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Silver. . . 

Why NZ ag needs many stories rather than just one – St John Craner:

Telling the same story over and over again gets boring. It becomes tiresome for the listener and then they stop listening. That’s the concern I have with all the talk I keep hearing about one NZ Ag Story when I attended this week’s fantastic ASB AgriFood Week (run by the very competent CEDA team).

Don’t get me wrong. A platform is great. Just look at the diversity of New Zealand wine brands who are prospering under the NZ banner. All the successful vineyard brands carve out a unique story that folds in the NZ narrative but they do it in a differentiated way, not a homogenous one. Stories can get stale with a limited shelf life just like our food.

This is why NZ wine are able to claim some of the highest price points around the world. The story they wrap around their product makes them brands that more people want to pay more for. . . 

Egg prices crack $4.43 a dozen:

The price of eggs reached a record high of $4.43 a dozen in April 2019, after rising for the past nine months, Stats NZ said today.

A national egg shortage may be one of the reasons for the rise in retail egg prices. Industry reports suggest that farmers are switching away from caged hens to more expensive free-range egg production, meaning that egg supply is down as hen flock sizes are reduced.

As a result, the weighted average price of both caged and  . . 


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