Rural round-up

July 29, 2020

New farmer training programme being rolled out– Sally Rae:

Wanted — farmers to inspire the next generation of farmers to perform at their best.

That is what Growing Future Farmers (GFF), a training programme for young people interested in entering the sheep, beef and deer industry is looking for — providing a career pathway for farmers of the future.

A pilot programme has been held the Gisborne and Wairarapa regions and it will be rolled out to six regions next year, including two in the South Island.

The aim was to have 10 farmer trainers in each area.

Gisborne farmers Dan and Tam Jex-Blake spoke at information evenings in Winton and Kurow last week, outlining the programme to potential farmer trainers. . .

Ag contractors frustrated – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of skilled workers available.

The frustration comes amid growing concerns for the industry and farm production in the face of a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators.

Industry body Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) is calling on the Government to allow overseas-based operators back into New Zealand to help alleviate the growing problem.

The end of a golden career :

Russell Lowe has spent almost 50 years selecting, observing, propagating and tasting kiwifruit at Plant and Food Research in Te Puke. Earlier this year Russell was recognised for his role in developing Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.

Forty-eight years ago, research scientist Russell Lowe moved to Te Puke to work at the DSIR’s new research orchard.

There was not a crop in the ground and Russell’s first job was to bang in posts so kiwifruit could be planted.

Now there are more than 40 hectares of fruit planted for research, greenhouses, eight coolstores, purpose-built labs, a packhouse and an office block on site. . . 

Pork surplus crisis averted by measures- Sally Rae:

It could have been an unmitigated disaster for the pork industry.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions earlier this year meant independent butchers were not allowed to open fully for retail customers.

That meant a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue, the worst-case scenario being the euthanasing of pigs on-farm.

However, such a crisis was averted through various solutions, including an innovative food bank initiative. . . 

Feds applauds carpet maker’s wool focus:

Federated Farmers congratulates the leadership shown by New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corporation in announcing last week it will to return to its roots as a wool and natural fibres-only business.

Cavalier said in February that profit margins selling synthetic carpets were getting thinner but sales of its wool carpets were steadily rising.

“Choosing to concentrate on New Zealand-produced natural wool, with its superior durability, warmth, sound-dampening and fire-retardant qualities is a smart decision for any company,” Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson William Beetham says. . . 

Aroma NZ buys leading NZ flower supplier:

New Zealand’s biggest green-lipped mussel health food company has bought one of the country’s largest flower growing companies.

Aroma NZ has successfully purchased Moffatt’s Flowers, which has been growing roses and other flowers in their Christchurch glasshouses since 1949.

As one of the largest rose growers and flower wholesalers in New Zealand, Moffatt’s grows 35 varieties of roses in a network of more than 20,000 square metres of climate-controlled glasshouses. This results in an annual output of more than three million rose stems, along with other flowers.

Aroma NZ director Ben Winters says they have been looking to diversify into different industry sectors. .  .


Rural round-up

June 12, 2020

Experts call for review of regenerative farming ‘mythology’ –  Sally Rae;

Two prominent plant science academics have called for the establishment of an expert panel of scientists to review claims made about regenerative agriculture.

In a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Dr Derrick Moot, a professor of plant science at Lincoln University, and retired senior lecturer Dr Warwick Scott said they were concerned about the “mythology” of regenerative agriculture “and its worrying increased profile in the New Zealand media and farming sectors”.

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers had world-leading agricultural practices and the underpinning scientific principles of the country’s current agricultural systems were in danger of being devalued by a system they believed had several serious shortcomings, they said.

They were particularly concerned the “erroneous publicity” about regenerative agriculture would divert the limited New Zealand agricultural science resources from more important, substantive issues.

To define regenerative agriculture was difficult, the pair said. . . 

Dairy industry needs skilled, willing workers, wherever they’re from – Esther Taunton:

“New Zealand’s dairy industry has a shortage of skilled and willing workers.”

It’s a simple sentence so why does such a large chunk of the non-dairy farming population seem to have a problem understanding the key words – “skilled” and “willing”?

When Stuff ran the story of two South Island farmers desperately trying to get their skilled migrant workers back across our closed borders before the start of calving, it took just minutes for the keyboard warriors to roll out the same tired accusations and arguments.

“Serves them right for choosing migrants over Kiwis!” they cried.

But they didn’t. Not without trying to find Kiwi workers first, anyway. Because even if they didn’t want to employ New Zealanders, farmers have a legal obligation to advertise for local staff before they’re able to start recruiting offshore. . . 

Strong 2019/20 financial result for Zespri helps support regional New Zealand:

2019/20 Financial Results Summary:
• Total Operating revenue: NZ$3.36 billion
• Total fruit sales revenue: NZ$3.14 billion
• Total New Zealand-grown fruit and service payments: $1.96 billion
• New Zealand and Non-New Zealand trays sold: 164.4 million trays
• Zespri’s net profit after tax NZ$200.8 million
• Expected Total Dividends: NZ$0.94

Almost NZ$2 billion was returned to New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry following Zespri’s 2019/20 season, helping support thousands of businesses, workers and regional communities around the country.

Zespri’s 2019/20 Financial Results show total fruit and service payments, which are returns direct to the New Zealand industry, increased by 8 percent year on year to NZ$1.96 billion. . . 

Meating’ the need:

While COVID-19 lockdown rules have now been eased, many New Zealand foodbanks remain under huge pressure as breadwinners lose their jobs and savings run dry.

To help keep up with this demand and to provide something a bit different from the regular food box items, a charity set up by farmers is connecting donated produce from farmers with processors and foodbanks.

‘Meat The Need’ was founded by South Island farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley. Since it started in mid-April, meat from more than 200 animals, including cattle, sheep and deer, has been donated to food banks around the South Island, enough for a staggering 90,000 meals for vulnerable families! . . 

Expos aimed at creating win-win – Tracey Roxburgh:

A Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) initiative is hoping to create a win-win from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

The SIT is holding two Agricultural Redeployment Expos, one each in Queenstown and Te Anau, this week, hoping to attract people who may have lost jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector to retrain in the agricultural sector, which is facing a shortage of about 150 skilled machinery operators this year.

Annually, the agriculture sector has sought fill those roles with workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, in particular, but given border closures this year due to the global pandemic, that will not be possible. . . 

Native plants sequester carbon for longer – Marc Daalder:

A new study indicates native plants, despite their tendency to grow more slowly than exotic species like Pinus Radiata, are better at storing carbon in the soil for longer periods of time, Marc Daalder reports

Exotic plant species release 150 percent more carbon dioxide from the soil than native New Zealand plants, according to a new study from the Bio-Protection Research Centre published in Science.

The research is the latest development in an extended scientific debate over whether to prioritise planting native or exotic species to increase biodiversity and fight climate change.

While it doesn’t upset the longstanding scientific consensus that faster-growing plants sequester more carbon – and that exotic species planted outside their usual range will grow faster – the study does complicate the picture of the carbon cycle. . . 

Time for EU to commit to level playing field for trade:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU.

Details leaked ahead of the 8th round of EU-NZ FTA negotiations have revealed the EU is seeking to maintain an extreme level of market access restriction against New Zealand dairy exports. The leaked EU market access offer comes despite both parties having committed to ‘work towards a deep, comprehensive, and high-quality Free Trade Agreement’.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, says the reported EU offer, comprised of miniscule quota volumes and high in-quota tariffs, could never credibly form part of a free trade agreement between the economies. . . 


Rural round-up

June 10, 2020

Why we need a national food strategy – Lindy Nelson:

Lindy Nelson says now is the time to come together to form a national food strategy and shape the future of New Zealand.

Belonging is a fundamental human need. When this need is not met, it is hard to feel a sense of purpose. Right now, farmers and food producers are starting to feel they belong again; they have a clear sense of purpose – to feed the nation and deliver economic stability.

The things that have threatened to divide urban and rural New Zealand – water, environment, reaching Carbon Zero – have faded for the time being as we have developed a more intimate awareness of our interdependence.

Food is vital for sustaining life. During the past few weeks, we have begun to realise just how much it shapes our sense of self, family and community and forms part of our cultural identity. . . 

Farmer picked for National in Wairarapa – Peter Burke:

The man who led the Fifty Shades of Green campaign is now going to be advocating for the one shade of blue – the National Party.

Mike Butterick, a Wairarapa sheep and beef farmer and Feds Meat and Fibre chair in the region, has been selected as the National candidate for the region. He beat off two other nominees including Mark Bridges, the brother of former leader Simon Bridges.

Butterick has been a vocal critic of plans to convert livestock farms to forestry and was one of the leaders of a protest at parliament on this subject last year. He replaces Alastair Scott who has held the seat since 2014 and is standing down at the election. . . 

High prices for gold kiwi fruit licenses :

The Kiwifruit industry is being given a huge vote of confidence, with stunning prices being paid for gold kiwifruit licences this year.

Each year Zespri releases new gold licences, and this year 700 hectares was up for grabs.

Successful bidders have been told the lowest price paid for a gold licence was $378,000 a hectare. That’s $100,000 more than last year’s lowest price. . .

From willows to whitebait :

Stu and Kim Muir take the long-term view of working their dairy farm in the Waikato River delta – the tangle of waterways, islands and wetlands close to the river mouth on the west coast.

“In the farming community, we usually think everything that’s done on the farm has an impact three months, six months, or a year ahead. We’re thinking six or seven generations ahead,” Stu says.

His family have been farming in New Zealand since the 1850s. His great-great grandparents bought  the present property in the 1890s; Stu and Kim’s children are the sixth generation to live and work on the land. . .

Wool plan delays frustrate sector – Annette Scott:

Frustration has set in as wool industry stakeholders await the release of a Government report they fear has lost momentum to pull the industry out of its doldrums.

In July 2018 the Wool Working Group (WWG) was tasked by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor with creating a sustainable and profitable wool industry action plan to revitalise the languishing sector.

Now wool industry stakeholders claim the work, due to be completed last September, is not happening fast enough. . .

New study: climate impact of grazing cattle over estimated – Dr David Whitehouse:

The climate impact of grass-fed cattle may have been exaggerated as scientists find emissions of a powerful greenhouse gas from certain types of pasture are lower than previously thought.

Researchers from Rothamsted Research found urine from animals reared on pasture where white clover grows – a plant commonly sown onto grazing land to reduce the need for additional nitrogen fertiliser – results in just over half the amount of nitrous oxide previously assumed by scientists to be released. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas some 265 times more harmful than CO2 and can account for 40% of beef supply chain emissions.

Co-author of the study, Dr Laura Cardenas said:

“Due to technical and logistical challenges, field experiments which measure losses of nitrous oxide from soils usually add livestock faeces and urine they have sourced from other farms or other parts of the farm, meaning that the emissions captured do not necessarily represent the true emissions generated by the animals consuming the pasture.”


Rural round-up

February 21, 2020

Drought, coronavirus rattle dairy – Sally Rae:

Westpac has cut its farmgate milk price forecast from $7.40 to $7.20 and ASB has trimmed its forecast by 10c to $7.40, as economists keep watch on the effects of coronavirus and drought.

At this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction the headline index was down 2.9% and most products fell. Key export product whole milk powder fell 2.6%.

The result was unsurprising given the continuing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, Westpac market strategist Imre Speizer said in a note.

The steps China had taken to contain the outbreak, such as limiting the population’s movement, had kept many factories closed. . . 

Fonterra ramps up emergency water deliveries to parched Northland– Andrea Fox:

Dairy heavyweight Fonterra is trucking, free of charge, hundreds of thousands of litres of emergency water supplies daily to the drought-stricken Far North.

The drought relief effort will see tankers carrying 90,000 litres of water a day each to Kaikohe and Kaitaia, and new water deliveries just started to Dargaville and Rawene, a spokesperson said.

Sixty tankers a week have been delivering water to emergency holding tanks in Kaikohe and Kaitaia, while Dargaville will get 10 tankerloads or 300,000 litres every two days and Rawene one tankerful or 30,000 litres daily. . .

Rain lifts river levels in Marlborough but region not out of the woods yet – Maia Hart:

A drop of February rain has given water irrigators in Marlborough an extended grace period. 

Several rivers in Marlborough were days away from being “shut off” from irrigators on February 6. 

Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said Rai Valley irrigation had been shut off for a week but the river had “quite a good lift” earlier this week, which meant it had been turned back on. 

“In some places there was quite a bit of rain, in the Rai Valley there was 50mm,” Wadsworth said.  . . 

Balclutha hens rule the roost on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

In Balclutha, there’s a family rearing some of the happiest hens you’re likely to find.

These merry cluckers are ‘pasture free range’, meaning they have the run of the land.

“There’s 1200 acres that we’re roaming around on here and there’s 6300 chooks, so there’s a lot of space,” says Michelle Pringle who, along with husband Tony, sells their eggs under the Agreeable Nature label.  . . 

Fresh producers must yell loudly – Richard Rennie:

Fresh fruit and produce companies around the world risk having their long-held and proven health claims stolen by the new arrivals on supermarket shelves, plant-based food products.

One of the biggest emerging trends in consumer behaviour in six regions surveyed globally is healthy living, Cathy Burns, chief executive of giant United States trade organisation Produce Marketing Association, told Zespri’s Momentum conference.

“This includes a desire to shed things from the diet that are not good for me and it has become a proxy term for intelligence and social acceptance. . . 

Stratford breaks SI drought -:

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford won the Southern Shears open final in Gore at the weekend, his first in the event after 24 years of trying.

The result brought him 70 open final victories as he became the first South Island shearer to win the event since 1994 when Edsel Forde, from Winton, won the final for a fifth time . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2020

No sense – Rural News:

How can you be green when you are in the red?

That is the very question many rural communities and farmers around the country should be asking the Government.

Its proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – dropped just before Christmas with a very truncated submission period – has all the hallmarks of the Government looking like it is consulting; when it has already made up its mind.

In submissions to the parliamentary select committee on environment, which is overseeing the ETS changes, Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) highlighted the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the ETS amendment to farming and rural communities. . .

New law won’t solve money woes – Colin Williscroft:

Reluctance by some farmers to make tough decisions based on their balance sheets is becoming the elephant in the room in some farming circles, Feilding-based BakerAg farm consultant Gary Massicks says.

The situation is not one that has happened overnight but changing influences such as banking policy, pressure exacerbated by social media, new environmental demands and regulations and increasingly irregular weather patterns are changing the world farmers operate in so they need to adapt.

Massicks has spoken to his peers around the country and though the problem is not widespread it exists. . .

New Zealand wine exports continue their steady growth going into the new decade

New Zealand wineries are continuing their steady growth on the world stage, driven largely by the famed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. According to NZWine.com, the wine industry recorded its 24th consecutive year of export growth in 2019.

This figure puts New Zealand on track to hit a $2 billion target for 2020, driven largely by an explosion of popularity in the United States and Europe. There are about 500 wineries in New Zealand, the bulk of whom produce Marlborough Sauvignon as their primary wine. . .

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments:

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments including move to 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has announced a new commitment to make all of its packaging 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The announcement is one of a suite of sustainability commitments shared today with growers, consumers and suppliers at the New Zealand kiwifruit industry’s marquee conference – Momentum 2020: Standing Up and Standing Out. . . .

Meaty increases push up annual food prices:

Higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish contributed to a 3.5 percent increase in food prices for the year ended January 2020, the largest annual rise in food prices in over eight years, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat, poultry, and fish prices have increased 6.0 percent in the year. Restaurant and ready-to-eat meals increased 3.4 percent, while fruit and vegetable prices were up 2.7 percent,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

“Both beef mince and blade steak prices reached all-time highs in January, while bacon and lamb prices have increased sharply in the past 12 months. Decreased pork production in China during 2019 has increased export demand for New Zealand meat products, pushing prices up.” . .

 

“I can’t imagine myself anywhere but horticulture”, Bay of Plenty Young Grower Of The Year:

Melissa van den Heuvel, an Industry Systems Associate at NZ Avocado, has been named Bay of Plenty’s Young Grower for 2020 at an awards dinner in Tauranga.

The competition took place last Saturday, 8 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing ‘how can we as growers be better members of the wider community’ at the gala dinner on Wednesday night.

Melissa also excelled in individual challenges, including the Horticultural Biosecurity challenge and Avocado Tree Planting challenge, and especially impressed judges with her speech on passing knowledge to future generations. . .


Rural round-up

February 8, 2020

Cost of meeting freshwater standards could cripple farm business – Esther Taunton:

Fourth-generation sheep and beef farmer Daniel Mickleson says the cost of meeting proposed freshwater standards could mean the end of his family farm.

The Government is expected to make its final decisions on the details of a plan to clean up the country’s waterways early this year with the new rules coming into effect in June.

The plan includes several measures to improve farming practices, and ensure all farmers and growers have a plan to manage risks to freshwater. . . 

Southland property likely to be ‘unfarmable’ for sometime after floods – Louisa Steyl,:

A sea of water sits above the Scobie’s farm. 

It’s one of the worst affected areas on the Wyndham Rd between Wyndham and Mataura, but the family who own it haven’t had a chance to assess the damage properly yet. 

Instead, they’ve been busy helping people in Wyndham where Pam Yorke, nee Scobie, used to be the community board chair. . . 

New study finds pine forest link to fine sediment in Waimea, Moutere estuaries – Cherie Sivignon:

Almost 90 per cent of the environmentally-damaging fine sediment at the mouth of the Moutere River came from pine forest, a new study has found.

Tasman District Council and NIWA have been investigating the effects of sediment on the district’s river systems. The resulting report, which is not yet available in full, also found that recently harvested pine forests along with bank erosion were responsible for a high proportion of sediment in the Waimea Inlet.

Council resource scientist Trevor James said the study represented a “snapshot in time” but he hoped to organise a meeting with the forestry companies as well as sediment experts from NIWA and Landcare Research to discuss its findings. . . 

Hope coronavirus impact on dairy will be short-lived – Sally Rae:

A 4.7% overall fall in this week’s Global Dairy Trade auction ‘‘could have been worse’’, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny says.

There were signs the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on dairy markets would prove short-lived; Chinese buyers remained active at similar levels to recent auctions, while three product prices rose.

Those signs were consistent with the bank’s view the impact on dairy markets and prices would be modest and short-lived, Mr Penny said in a note.

However, the bank remained vigilant as the outbreak situation was fluid and dairy price implications were subject to change. . . 

Central Otago cherry growers hit by second tough season in a row – Maja Burry:

Central Otago cherry growers are reporting a tough 2019-20 season, with yields about half the normal size due to poor weather conditions.

The majority of cherries are harvested in the region between mid-December to early February.

Summerfruit NZ chair and general manager of the cherry exporter 45 South, Tim Jones, said yields were about half, or maybe even a little bit less, of what a full crop would be in the district. It was the second tough season in a row for growers, he said.

“So two years in a row of low yields, I think growers will be looking forward to next year and [getting] back to some good volumes.” . . 

New partnership to develop bigger, tastier blueberries:

Consumers across the world may soon be experiencing tastier, fuller-sized blueberries year-round, thanks to a new breeding partnership in blueberries that will bring premium quality berries to customers across the world. 

Plant & Food Research and global fresh produce company T& G Global have announced they are entering into a new agreement to breed and commercialise exciting new varieties of blueberries to be sold globally. 

The breeding programme will produce new varieties of blueberry that will provide improved yield and resistance to disease while also delivering consumers larger, tastier berries over a longer period, with an extended harvest season. 

The first new commercial varieties could be launched globally in the next 12 months under T&G Global’s Orchard Rd brand.  . . 

Zespri reveals bold new brand identity:

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has unveiled its first new look in its 22-year history, with a refreshed brand providing a strong platform for the company to continue its recent growth.

With operating revenue of $3.14 billion in 2018/19, Zespri continues to make excellent progress towards its goal of reaching $4.5 billion in sales by 2025, driven by the commitment of its 2,800 New Zealand and 1,500 offshore growers to produce premium-quality kiwifruit.

Revealed at the world’s leading fresh produce exhibition, Berlin Fruit Logistica, the new brand better reflects the company’s purpose which is to help people, communities and the environment thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit. . . 

Trust Board opportunity as Brown steps down from Dairy Women’s Network:

An exciting opportunity at board level has opened up as Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown steps down from her role as a Trustee of the Dairy Women’s Network.

Brown, who farms with her husband Wynn at Tiroroa Farms near Matamata, says the time was right to move on after over four years on the Trust Board.

“I joined in November 2015 with a vision to provide support to women in the dairy industry to better reach their potential and to help Dairy Women’s Network become an organisation which could help drive transformational change for our industry,” Brown said.  “I feel I have had a big input into both of these areas.” . . 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2019

Action needed now:

Houston – or more correctly Wellington – we have a problem.

And that problem is a shortage of workers right across New Zealand’s primary sector.

The latest example is the apple sector (click here for the story), which is facing a potential $80 million loss in the coming season because of a looming labour shortage.

Apples and Pears NZ chief executive Alan Pollard told Rural News that the main reason for this is the Government’s decision not to allow the numbers of overseas workers required under the RSE (recognised seasonal employer) scheme to meet the needs.  . . 

Analysis of regenerative ag needed – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The groundswell supporting the restoring powers of regenerative agriculture is mostly based on examples from overseas.

The big question should be, do the examples stack up in New Zealand? If yes, no problem. If no, what might happen? Would there be any unintended consequences?

Answering these and similar questions is the goal of scientific research.

The foundation for advancing knowledge is laid by identifying the problem and then analysing what has gone before . . .

Setting up for the future:

Key changes made by Waikato dairy farmers Sam and Jacqui Owen have laid their on-farm groundwork for 2020 and beyond. They’re also focused on growing dairying’s next generation.

The Owens stepped up to 50:50 sharemilking in the 2014/15 season at Walton – then the milk price more than halved. That’s when Sam became chair for MP3, a DairyNZ-supported three-year project focusing on ‘profit, planet and people’, starting with 35 Matamata-Piako farms.

“I wanted to help others make their way through that price drop. MP3 also enabled us to grow our budgeting and financial skills to work out that doing that would be profitable for us. . .

Hail limits summer fruit supply – Riley Kennedy:

Some stonefruit will be in short supply this season after a severe hailstorm damaged Hawke’s Bay orchards in October.

The storm hit the region at the most vulnerable time for growers when the fruit was in early spring growth. 

SummerfruitNZ market support manager Richard Mills said the storm was very unusual for the time of year.

“An October hailstorm this bad had not been witnessed before by growers. . . 

Production of red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit is under way:

Zespri expects it will take two years before it can meet demand for its new red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit. 

The company has been trialling the fruit in New Zealand and Singapore, and chief executive Dan Matheson said it had sold well even when priced at 25 percent above green and gold varieties. 

“The response has been quite exciting. We’ve had incredible feedback from our consumers who have been buying the fruit at the supermarket shelf.

“In fact we’ve just had letters coming in from consumers both here in New Zealand and Singapore asking for more of that and ‘why it was only available on the shelf for such short period of time’.” . . 

Imported insect predator to help bees and willow trees to thrive – Eric Frykberg:

Beekeepers are keenly awaiting the arrival of a tiny insect from California which preys on the giant willow aphid.

They say it will help willow trees survive and provide essential food for bees.

Their response follows approval of the parasitoid insect Pauesia nigrovaria by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Scion entomologist Stephanie Sopow said the insect was an an effective control agent. . . 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2019

Hocken wins Rabobank Emerging Leader award:

Manawatu dairy farmer Mat Hocken is the winner of the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award for 2019.

Hocken is director and owner of family business Grassmere Dairy, a 1000-cow dairy operation on the banks of the Oroua River in the Manawatu.

He becomes the first Kiwi to win the award since its introduction in 2013. The awards ceremony was held in Auckland last night. . . 

New Zealand arable farmers face unfair competition from imported grain – Gerard Hutching:

Arable farmers have appealed to their dairy farmer colleagues to buy their grain rather than importing it from overseas.

Federated Farmers arable spokeswoman Karen Williams complained about the lack of a level playing field over grain sales.

She was commenting on the Feds’ latest banking survey showing 30 per cent of the arable farmers surveyed felt under pressure and they also had the lowest percentage feeling very satisfied or satisfied (60 per cent). . . 

Boomer year for OAD farmers – Peter Burke:

A leading once a day (OAD) farmer says her farm is set to have a record year thanks to a combination of favourable circumstances – especially the weather.

Christine Finnigan who farms near Rongotea, Manawatu says the warm winter has seen good pasture growth into spring and her 220 Kiwi cross cows are in good condition.

She says the original target for this season was 78,000kgMS, but says if conditions stay favourable the record of 82,500kgMS could be reached. . .

Alliance pays out $15.2m:

Alliance Group says it has paid farmer shareholders a further $1.67 million in loyalty payments.

This brings the total bonuses it has distributed for the season to $15.2m.

The latest quarterly payments were made to the co-operative’s ‘platinum’ and ‘gold’ shareholders who supply 100% of their livestock to Alliance. The latest payments cover the July to September period. . . 

Last of Zespri’s 2019 New Zealand kiwifruit crop heading to markets:

The last of New Zealand’s successful 2019 kiwifruit crop has been shipped, with four containers of Zespri Green leaving Tauranga for North Asia, unloading in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Around 70 tonnes of the Bay of Plenty-grown kiwifruit was loaded onto the APL Denver this week which is expected to reach the first port in 15 days.

Blair Hamill, Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer, says 147 million trays of kiwifruit were shipped offshore this season to more than 50 countries, with record numbers of consumers creating unprecedented levels of demand.

“Our premium Zespri SunGold and Green Kiwifruit are more popular than ever, and over the course of the season we’ve moved 44 full charter shiploads and 17,160 containers, or more than 500,000 tonnes in total, to our markets,” Mr Hamill says. . . 

Women in Scottish farming ‘downplayed’ and ‘unseen’

A ‘fundamental cultural change’ is needed to ensure that women in the Scottish farming industry are valued more, a new report has revealed.

Women’s contribution to the sector can be ‘undervalued, downplayed, or simply unseen’, it explained.

The findings are included in a Women in Agriculture Taskforce report which was commissioned by the Scottish government. Taskforce co-chair Joyce Campbell said the the report has shone light into the ‘very dark corners of Scottish agriculture.’ . .

 


Rural round-up

October 27, 2019

Dirty birds are fouling waterways – Ron Frew:

New Zealand’s waterways are mostly pretty good in terms of being safe to swim in. 

Certainly, I know of no deaths or even serious illness directly or indirectly attributed to swimming in a NZ river because of contamination from industrial, agricultural or municipal causes. 

The discussion has largely been about contamination from dairy farms and that was driven by Fish and Game, possibly to divert attention from the fact that E coli contamination from water fowl, eg game birds, is very high in some locations.  . .

Passion for workers’ wellbeing – Yvonne O’Hara:

Serena Lyders, of Tokanui, comes from five generations of shearers, grew up among shearers, is married to a sheep and beef farmer, her three sons are shearers and her 2-year-old granddaughter already has her own miniature woolshed broom.

As a result, Mrs Lyders is passionate about the wool­harvesting industry and the health and wellbeing of its workers.

She is a Manukura navigator leader and mentor, working for Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu, which is the Whanau Ora commissioning agency for the South Island . . 

Farmers ramp up gun action – Neal Wallace:

Farmers are ramping up their campaign to change new firearm laws to allow some of them to use otherwise  banned firearms for pest control on their properties.

The legislation as proposed will compromise the ability of landowners with significant pest problems to do control so Government officials were invited to hear the concerns from some affected Central Otago farmers, Federated Farmers board member Miles Anderson says.

The federation wants an exemption for a small number of farmers who need semi-automatic firearms with large capacity magazines, of the type the bill will outlaw. . . 

Sheep recognition step closer – Sally Rae:

The world’s first sheep facial recognition software, developed in Dunedin, is set to be prototyped this year.

Sheep NN, a project created by artificial intelligence and machine learning company Iris Data Science, has received a $40,000 grant from Callaghan Innovation towards the $100,000 project that will take the model to prototype by the end of the year.

Iris Data Science was co-founded by Greg Peyroux and Benoit Auvray, who have been working on the project to cheaply re-identify sheep, potentially removing the need for ear-tags while also solving other farm management and broader issues. . .

Zespri tries to whet US appetite :

Research has become a bigger part of Zespri’s marketing mix as it reverts to basics to increase sales in the United States.

The US is a comparatively recent market for Zespri, which has previously looked to China and Japan for growth. The kiwifruit marketer opened a pan-American office in 2017. 

Last year US sales reached almost $100 million, an annual increase of 50% and Zespri chief grower David Courtney says this season will see even more fruit sold.  . . 

Rookie women shearers raise funds :

A group of Hawke’s Bay women have organised a shearing competition among themselves to raise awareness about mental health in rural communities.

The catch is that none of them – an accountant, a dental therapist, an optical technician, a police officer and a rural insurance manager – have ever shorn before.

The Women and Wool Farmstrong Fundraiser is the brainchild of shearing contractor Colin Watson-Paul who worked alongside rural insurance manager Harriet Partridge and other women in the community to organise it.  . . 

Open for Business in a Small-Town: 5 things everyone can do to support small-town business – Uptown Girl:

I grew up with a family in the restaurant business and as a kid, loved everything about hanging out in our local, downtown business. So, when my husband climbed on board with the idea of running a small agritourism business on our farm, I jumped in. During that time, it’s become clear a few things people can do to support small-town businesses.

1. Shout the good out and whisper the bad in. This is the complete opposite of how we normally behave, and I am just as guilty as anyone. Think about the last time you had a bad meal in a restaurant. The server comes by and says, “How is everything?” Most people respond, “Fine.” Then, when they walk out, they literally tell everyone how awful the meal was… everyone except the one person who needs to know in order to change it – the business owner!

On the flip, when someone has a good experience, they will often rave to the business owner and then forget about it shortly after leaving. According to Andrew Thomas on Inc.com, a dissatisfied customer will tell 9 to 15 people. Only one out of every 10 satisfied customers will share about their experience. . . 


Rural round-up

June 26, 2019

Farmers urged to submit on carbon bill – Pam Tipa:

Both DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are urging farmers to have their say on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill by July 16.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for the agriculture sector.

“That’s why farmer engagement is so important,” he says. He is encouraging dairy farmers to make a submission.

The bill’s full name is the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. . . 

Kiwi’s quinoa dream now a reality – Andrew Stewart:

A liking for a particular food on a foreign trip is paying dividends for Dan and Jacqui Cottrell and providing extra income for their Taihape farm. They told Andrew Stewart how they discovered quinoa and set about growing it in the central North Island.

Dan and Jacqui Cottrell didn’t realise an overseas adventure would change their lives forever. 

The year was 2012 and the couple were making the most of their South American odyssey when they had an epiphany in Peru. 

They had been eating a lot of quinoa, of which 80% of the global supply is grown in Peru, on their trip.  . . 

 

DIRA changes fall short – farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers want dairy industry regulations to apply equally to all milk processors in New Zealand.

They still want an end to the open entry/exit provisions of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) and an end to Fonterra providing subsidised raw milk to rival processors.

However, in proposed DIRA changes the Government has retained the open entry provisions but has allowed Fonterra the right to refuse milk from suppliers who are “not compliant with the co-op rules and from new dairy conversions”. . . 

Small kiwifruit have big taste – Richard Rennie:

Fruit size is providing the headwind to the new kiwifruit season while taste is the tailwind thanks to an exceptional late season ripening period that has left Zespri marketers with a paradigm for foreign markets.

Zespri’s grower alliance manager David Courtney said Green fruit size this season is 2.5 sizes smaller than usual and SunGold two sizes down on usual with the long, dry, ripening period scaling fruit down but pushing up drymatter levels to create exceptionally well flavoured fruit.

“We have had one grower who has been growing kiwifruit for 40 years who said he has never reported better drymatter levels in his crop.” . . 

New Zealand’s most fertile land dug up for housing – Indira Stewart:

Over the last decade more than 200 produce growers in Auckland have closed up shop as more rural land has been rezoned to residential to keep up with the demand for housing.

Now, after 60 years of growing vegetables in South Auckland, celery farmer Stan Clark has decided to close up as well.

Mr Clark’s celery farms were re-zoned from rural to residential in 2009 and the rising land rates are making business unsustainable.

The family is preparing to sell their much-loved farms in Pukekohe, a suburb that holds some of the country’s most fertile land, much of which is being dug up for housing. . . 

Large-scale dairy conversion farm with its own lake-sized reservoir placed on the market for sale:

A large-scale dairy conversion farm – complete with a huge lake-like reservoir –which has seen primary sheep and beef production replaced over the past decade in favour of milking, has been placed on the market for sale.

Strathallan Station some 26-kilometres north-west of Gisborne is a 1,213-hectare property currently milking a herd of 1,000 cows. Towards the centre of the property is a two-and-a-half-metre-deep ‘reservoir’ lake large enough for recreational kayaking and duck hunting. The reservoir sustains not only the farm’s irrigation needs, but also its milk shed requirements. . .


Rural round-up

June 21, 2019

FARMSTRONG: industry digests wellbeing lessons – Luke Chivers:

No one can be under pressure all the time, Farmstrong ambassador Sam Whitelock told farmers at Fieldays.

“Pressure is a good thing but only the right amount.”

“That right amount will change depending on what’s happening – whether you’re tired, you’re eating well or you’re sick.”

Whitelock, who grew up on a Manawatu farm, said locking in small improvements in lifestyle helps manage the ups and downs of farming.

“Rural wellness is a big deal right now. It’s growing in importance as demands and challenges increase on the rural community. . . 

Westland Milk shareholder Southern Pastures to abstain on Yili vote – Jamie Gray:

Westland Milk’s biggest shareholder, Southern Pastures, said it would abstain on the vote called to decide on whether the co-operative can be sold to China’s Yili.

Southern – an investment fund – said the move would allow West Coast farmer-shareholders to decide its future.

Hokitika-based Westland said in March that it had signed a conditional agreement for the sale of the co-op, which will see the Chinese dairy giant pay farmer-suppliers $3.41 a share. The deal is worth $588 million. . . 

Zespri signals profit growth, trims expected fruit and services payment – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is forecasting annual profit growth of up to 7 percent.

The firm, which markets kiwifruit on behalf of 2,500 New Zealand growers and another 1,200 in Italy, Japan, Korea and France, is expecting net profit of $182-$192 million in the current year, including licence release income.

That is up from the $179.8 million net profit reported for the year ended March, which was a 77 percent increase from the year before as the firm shipped more fruit for better prices. Total trays sold climbed 21 percent to 167.2 million last year – 85 percent of which was New Zealand-grown green or gold kiwifruit. . . 

New lobby chairman: voice for farmers – David Hill:

 A new Federated Farmers dairy-farming leader hopes to be a voice for farmers.

Karl Dean was elected as the federation’s North Canterbury dairy chairman during the provincial annual meeting at Oxford in April, replacing Michael Woodward, who bought a farm in the North Island.

”It was sprung on me a little bit when Woody got a good opportunity up north.

”But I see it as a good way to get more involved and tackle some of the issues which are going to arise with climate change and make sure farmers are aware of the legislation, and that Feds are fighting it.’ . . 

Buy-back scheme must work for rural firearms owners:

The firearms buy-back process for what are now prohibited semi-automatic firearms must work for rural firearms owners, Federated Farmers says.

The process will require farmers to travel to collection points to hand over firearms and agree on the value of the surrendered firearm. A member survey showed that at least twenty percent of Feds members had a firearm impacted by the new regulations, and these owners will be looking for good access and a smooth process for the hand-over of firearms and payment of fair compensation.

“The sooner the details of the process, including the number and geographical spread of collection points/events, are clear the better,’’ Federated Farmers Rural Security Spokesperson Miles Anderson says. . . 

In farm children, I see virtues that one sees too rarely these days – Mitch Daniels:

Mitch Daniels, a Post contributing columnist, is president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana.

Along with the rise of women and the expansion of civil rights, the most important social transformation of America’s first quarter-millennium has been the triumph of modern agriculture over famine and the ceaseless, backbreaking effort simply to feed one’s self that had been the dominant fact of human life throughout history. Most of those who preceded us lived their entire lives on the farm. A little more than a century ago, a third of all Americans were farmers.

Successive revolutions in mechanization, horticulture and biotechnology have been an enormous blessing, enabling a tiny percentage of Americans — today fewer than 2 percent— to feed the rest of us and much of the world. Incalculable human talent has been liberated to invent all the other miracles we enjoy. We spend less of our income on food than any society ever. . .


Rural round-up

May 24, 2019

RWNZ leader encourages rural women – Sally Brooker:

Rural women are underpaid and undervalued despite their multiple contributions to their farm, family, home and community, Fiona Gower says.

The national Rural Women New Zealand president spoke in Oamaru this month at a workshop called ”A Leading Voice”. Organised by local Rural Women members, it aimed to help women gain confidence, express themselves, and network with like-minded people.

Ms Gower said women’s input to the farm and household should be recognised by their peers and family.

And women should take the words ”just” and ”only” out of their vocabulary when describing themselves. . .

Feed grain not among good options – Annette Scott:

Good returns for store lambs and strong signals from the milling industry mean arable farmers are opting out of autumn feed grain plantings.

Growers are hunting out their best options and after a good year last year with lambs they are at the top of the priority list for many arable farmers again this year, Federated Farmers grains vice-chairman Brian Leadley said.

The market signals coming from the mills are also encouraging for New Zealand’s drive towards self-sufficiency. . .

Dairy’s top woman backs recycling – Pam Tipa:

Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin has a message for all farmers: recycling systems work and it is worth doing your bit.

“There is a misconception that recycling just gets stockpiled somewhere,” Rankin told Rural News.

“Actually, it doesn’t. Everything that is sent to AgRecovery gets recycled. I think if people knew that they may take the time to triple rinse their containers and take them to their local AgRecovery depot to drop them off to recycle.” . . 

Edible bale wrap developed to reduce farm waste :

Three PhD students have invented an edible bale wrap to reduce farm waste.

The patent-pending BioNet biopolymer was developed specifically for farms to wrap hay and silage.

It is the brainchild of three Imperial College London PhD students: Nick Aristidou, Will Joyce and Stelios Chatzimichail.

The trio came up with the idea after Mr Joyce, who grew up on a farm in Rutland, noticed his parent’s beef herd was creating a lot of wrapping waste. . . 

2018/19 season results: Zespri operating revenue exceeds $3 billion:

Zespri’s returns to growers and the industry reached new levels on the back of strong growth in both volume and value and across all fruit categories last season, with operating revenue from global kiwifruit sales and licence release revenue exceeding $3 billion for the first time.

The results reflect continued strong international demand, with Zespri selling a total of 167.2 million trays of kiwifruit in 2018/19, a 21 percent increase on the 138.6 million trays sold in the previous season. Revenue generated by global kiwifruit sales and SunGold licence release increased by 26 percent to $3.14 billion. . .

A recollection – Adolf Fiinkensein:

When Adolf graduated from Lincoln as a valuer and farm consultant he went off to Australia and, by accident, fell into commerce where he remained for forty or so years.  Many of my colleagues had come over and introduced Canterbury farming techniques.  Some did very well, others not so well

I well remember a crusty old West Australian wheat cocky remarking that ‘those bastards charged us a fee for telling us when we would go broke. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2019

Industry confronts big issues – Luke Chivers:

How to grow primary industries sustainably, changing consumer expectations, technological transformation of growing and selling we issues confronted at the BOMA Grow 2019 Agri-Summit in Christchurch.

More than 600 people ranging from farmers, producers and researchers to educators and students and those working in government and finance met to discuss ways the food and fibre sector can be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and in future.

Event organiser Kaila Colbin said the two-day summit was a chance to learn about future trends affecting the agriculture sector and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. . . .

Food and agri sector’s leap into the future

An agricultural revolution is taking place in Australia as the food and agri sector explores innovative ways to feed a growing global population using more sustainable methods.

It’s a revolution that kicked into even higher gear at Rabobank’s Farm2Fork Summit at Sydney’s Cockatoo Island on March 28, when cutting-edge ideas were unveiled, probed and prodded by producers, food and agri entrepreneurs, and industry trailblazers from around the world.

They left no stone unturned as they delved into everything from robotics and ag tech to sustainable farming methods, food waste reduction and alternative foods. . .

Give me the local government I deserve – Jim Galloway:

If you have ever wanted to make your mark in a positive and constructive way, please consider standing in the local body elections writes Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president Jim Galloway.

When I cast a vote, I have never felt as though doves are released – that I’m taking part in anything extra special.

But I know that it is an important right and privilege of being part of a democratic society – we can have input into how we are governed.

This October we all get to cast votes for our local and regional councils. . .

Pre-lamb shearing necessary in certain circumstances – Simon Davies:

Pre-lamb shearing is necessary in certain circumstances, but it must be carried out using best practice writes Federated Farmers spokesperson Simon Davies.

Pre-lamb shearing has its place in farming.

It is a necessary activity in certain situations and locations.

From a shearing industry point of view it is a necessity, as it allows shearing to be spread over almost 12 months of the year. . .

Course aims for future leaders :

Northland student Devlin Gurr wants to land a coveted cadetship at Smedley Station in Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s quite prestigious. They accept only 11 cadets each year so it’s really hard to get into,” Gurr said.

The 16-year-old has spent the start of the school holidays honing skills he’ll need to help land the two-year cadetship. . .

Zespri signals upside for grower payments  in 2020 – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is forecasting a potential lift of up to 6 percent in payments to growers this season.

The firm, which markets kiwifruit on behalf of 2,500 New Zealand growers and another 1,200 in Italy, Japan, Korea and France, is expecting total fruit and service payments of $1.775 billion to $1.875 billion in the year ending March 2020.

Zespri is yet to publish its March 2019 year results but in February forecast a total payment of almost $1.77 billion for that year. . .


Rural round-up

March 13, 2019

Tax recommendations threaten future prosperity:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to reject the majority of the raft of new taxes proposed by the Tax Working Group.

“Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day,” Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says.

“There is possibly an argument for a Capital Gains Tax aimed at rental properties if there was some sound evidence it would dampen investor speculation, and reduce price pressure and first home buyers being out-bid. But even with that, we haven’t given the tougher ‘bright line’ test rules a chance to really kick in. . .

Despite rising prices farmers are feeling oppressed from all sides and confidence is low. FIckle urban voters are driving a flood of rules and imposing costs that make little sense to the business of farming – Guy Trafford:

The results of the January Federated Farmers farmer survey have recently been published and makes fairly sober reading – especially in the context that prices for most commodities are reasonably sound.

Only 5.1% of respondents expected economic conditions to improve and but nearly 46% expect economic conditions to worsen, this is the worse result since July 2009.

Given the recent rises in milk prices and solid returns coming for sheep and beef farmers this level of pessimism is somewhat surprising and perhaps is a reflection of where farmers heads are at rather than a measure of what the ‘true’ economic conditions are. . . 

Looking to Generation Z for the future of  food – Sarah Perriam:

The rural sector is rapidly changing.

Consumer demand and global trends means New Zealand farmers need to embrace innovation to be able to compete and thrive in this new and exciting environment.

The next generation is vital for success. . . 

Greenpeace billboard ruled misleading  :

Federated Farmers is pleased the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a Greenpeace billboard aimed at fertilizer companies and the dairy industry is misleading and takes advocacy a step too far.

“Federated Farmers believes everyone has the right to express strong views but as the ASA Complaints Board ruling underlines, over-simplification of issues and targeting of two farmer-owned companies is misleading and overly provocative,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says. . .

Zespri. Appoints Bruce Cameron as chairman – Luke Chivers:

While the kiwifruit industry is having its day in the sun it is not short of challenges. Luke Chivers spoke to new Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron about the future.

New Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron is taking over at a time of strong continuity and volume in kiwifruit exports.

He replaces Te Puna grower Peter McBride who has stood down to pursue other primary industry interests, including a Fonterra directorship. . .

Butter prices go into meltdown :

Butter prices fell 10 percent in February 2019 to a 19-month low, Stats NZ said today.

The average price for a 500g block of butter fell to $5.20 in February 2019, down from a record high of $5.79 in January 2019.

“In January we saw milk prices fall to a 19-month low. This price fall now looks to be flowing on to other dairy products,” consumer prices manager Gael Price said. . . 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2019

Guy Trafford assesses how the Tax Working Group report would change signals to farmers, and how they are likely to respond – Guy Trafford:

Given the signals that have been coming out from the Tax Working Group over the last few months there haven’t been too many surprises as to what was revealed today. That may, probably will, come after the politicians have had their play with it.

From a farming perspective there are some pluses and minuses.

Succession planning
The roll over clause is attractive, but liable to alter land/business selling behaviour. It is only available as a succession tool in the event of the assets being passed on after the death. It is then made a liability in the event of the next generation deciding to sell at which point the value goes back to 2021 or whenever the older generation first took over the land. . . 

Grass on the A2 side of the dairy fence is looking greener – and the profits plusher – Point of Order:

The  contrasting   fortunes of  Fonterra  and  A2 Milk came into the  spotlight   this  week,  after the  latter  reported a  startling 55%  rise in  half-year net profit  to  $152m.  Fonterra  shareholders will be ruefelly recalling  their  company’s  performance last year  when  it  reported its  first-ever  net  loss  of  $196m.

A2 Milk  shareholders  are  marching to a  very  different  tune.  Despite  one market  analyst  reckoning its share price had  become over-priced, buyers  pushed  it up  by  more than  a dollar to  $13.95  as they absorbed  news  of   strong sales growth in all key product segments – infant formula, liquid milk and milk powders. . . 

Fatty milk Jersey cows in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

”Fat is back” and no longer the ”ogre” it used to be, and that is good news for Jerseys as they have a higher fat content relative to protein than many other breeds.

DairyNZ’s New Zealand Animal Evaluation Unit (NZAEL) released its annual Economic Values (EV) index last week to reflect the increased global demand for high fat dairy products, compared to protein.

Economic Values is an estimate of a trait’s value to a dairy farmer’s production and profitability and contributes to cattle breeding worth (BW). . . 

LIC welcomes Fonterra’s a2 announcement:

The farmer-owned co-operative, which breeds up to 80% of the national dairy herd, says this increase in supply matches the demand it has experienced for its A2 genetics and testing services.

Last year, the co-operative introduced dedicated A2 bull teams and extended its test offering in anticipation of Fonterra’s next move with The a2 Milk Company.

LIC’s General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis, who is also a Fonterra shareholder and farm owner, comments:

Fonterra scours world for $800m cash injection – Hugh Stringleman:

Where in the world will Fonterra get $800 million to reduce its debt while returning to profitability and making enough money to pay a good dividend on the $6 billion dairy farmers have invested in the co-operative? Hugh Stringleman looks for answers.

March 20 looms as the next milestone in Fonterra’s return to financial health and wellbeing when it declares first-half results for the 2019 year.

It will also say where asset sales, joint ventures and partnerships will be made or amended to improve the balance sheet. . .

Kiwifruit sector front-foots campaign to find pickers:

The kiwifruit industry is pulling out all the stops to make sure the 2019 harvest, which starts mid-March, isn’t short of workers – ensuring that quality Zespri kiwifruit is sent to overseas customers in premium condition.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says the amount of green and gold kiwifruit on the vines is forecast to be even higher than last year’s harvest, meaning around 18,000 workers will be needed. “Last year, the harvest was at least 1,200 workers short at the peak – we don’t want a repeat of that.” . . 

Central Districts Field Days has something for everyone:

More than 26,000 people are expected to flock to Manfeild in Feilding this month for New Zealand’s largest regional agricultural event, Central Districts Field Days.

Now in its 26th year, the 2019 event has plenty to offer all – from farmers and foodies to tech heads and townies.

“We’re really excited about this year’s event,” says Stuff Events & Sponsorship Director David Blackwell. “There are a record number of exhibitors and we have some great new areas and activities that are sure to make this year’s Central Districts Field Days a community event to remember.” . . 

Give it a go” – Bay or Plenty Young Grower of the Year  :

Alex Ashe, a technical advisor at Farmlands Te Puna, was named Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2019 at an awards dinner in Tauranga last night.

The practical competition took place last Saturday, 9 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing future disruptors to horticulture at the gala dinner last night. . .

Wine survey reveals profit, innovation and price on the up :

For only the third time in the history of the annual survey, all five winery tiers featured profitable results in 2018

Survey results indicate a positive correlation between innovation and financial performance.

2018 saw a 1.8 percent lift in average prices received by Kiwi wineries. . .

Veganism is on the rise, but experts say the cons of the diet outweigh the pros – Martin Cohen and Frederic Leroy:

After decades in which the number of people choosing to cut out meat from their diet has steadily increased, 2019 is set to be the year the world changes the way that it eats. Or at least, that’s the ambitious aim of a major campaign under the umbrella of an organisation simply called EAT. The core message is to discourage meat and dairy, seen as part of an “over-consumption of protein” – and specifically to target consumption of beef.

The push comes at a time when consumer behaviour already seems to be shifting. In the three years following 2014, according to research firm GlobalData, there was a six-fold increase in people identifying as vegans in the US, a huge rise – albeit from a very low base. It’s a similar story in the UK, where the number of vegans has increased by 350 per cent, compared to a decade ago, at least according to research commissioned by the Vegan Society. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2019

The story of genetics and Mt Albert’s forbidden fruit – Farah Hancock:

A controversial new apple created by New Zealand scientists has to be seen to be believed – and has to be eaten offshore. Farah Hancock reports.

The red-fleshed apples developed by Plant and Food Research’s scientist Professor Andrew Allan and his team are so contentious they’re not allowed to eat them in New Zealand.

“In the end we had to take them to America.”

The cores were removed from the apples so no seeds were present. They were triple-bagged and sealed. Phytosanitary certificates were gained to get approval to move the apples from their glasshouse in Auckland’s Mount Albert to the airport, and then on to the United States. Allan and the science team flew the precious cargo to San Francisco where a taste-testing panel of 50 people waited. . . 

Good grass growth but drought on horizon if rain delayed for Taranaki farmers – Mike Watson and Leighton Keith:

Taranaki dairy farmers are keeping an eye out for rain clouds with the summer heat taking a toll on grass cover.

Favourable growing conditions since spring, following a devastating one in 40 year drought last summer, meant many farmers had good supply of feed to prepare an extended dry period.

“The conditions have been good, in fact fantastic, to date but it is starting to get dry now and we will be looking for some rain by the end of the month,” Okato farmer Ray Barron said. . . 

Plant pines, not natives to make money from carbon farming, says consultant – Heather Chalmers:

Landowners planting forests for carbon credits should plant pine trees rather than natives to achieve the best returns, a carbon consultant says.  

Ollie Belton, a partner of Permanent Forests NZ a Christchurch-based carbon consultancy, said that the rate that natives absorb carbon dioxide was much lower than for pinus radiata. 

Sequestration calculations used by the Emissions Trading Scheme for forests under 100 hectares showed that pinus radiata absorbed almost 1000 tonnes of carbon over 25 years, while native forests absorbed less than 300 tonnes.     . . 

Short stature corn on the way from Bayer Cropscience – Gil Gullickson:

Farmers who have waded and stumbled through corn decimated by green snap or stalk lodging may be in luck in a few years. Bayer CropScience is developing what it calls short-stature corn that company officials say will likely debut early next decade. Bayer officials discussed this development and others on a conference call this week with agricultural journalists. 

“Over the next two to three years, we will demonstrate them (short-stature hybrids) to growers and give them a feel and sense of how they will work on their farms,” says Bob Reiter, Bayer CropScience head of research and development. “I think this is a little like what was experienced with the Green Revolution in rice and wheat through Norman Borlaug, which is the foundational shift in how crops are produced and how growers will be able to unlock and enjoy additional productivity value.” . . 

Help for SMEs to accelerate Health & Safety appreciated:

Extra investment in workplace injury prevention, with a focus on small to medium businesses, will pay dividends not only in reducing pain and suffering but also in economic terms, Federated Farmers says.

“We see the announcement by ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway this morning of a $22 million, five-year programme to incentivise SMEs to boost Health & Safety efforts as very useful,” Feds President Katie Milne says. . . 

Te Pa Family Vineyards & Cloudy Bay Clams team up for Marlborough Wine & Food Festival 2019:

Two award-winning, family-owned local Marlborough producers, te Pa Family Vineyards and Cloudy Bay Clams, are teaming up for the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival for 2019 and the companies are celebrating their collaboration with a series of exciting events, competitions and food pairings.

The two flourishing Marlborough companies, will be selling award-winning wine and sustainably harvested clams, marking their collaboration at the much-loved festival, which attracts around 8000 guests each year. Attendees can expect to see beautiful fresh clams on the half shell, paired with lively and expressive Marlborough te Pa Sauvignon Blanc, and crispy and decadent fried popcorn clams served with light and effervescent Pa Road Sparkling Rosé. . . 


Rural round-up

January 2, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly — 2018 year in review – Rural News editorial team:

As we bid farewell to another year it’s time for the annual review of 2018 in the primary sector as seen by the Rural News editorial team.

The good:

The great start award: to outgoing Zespri chairman Peter McBride for his level-headed, down-to-earth approach on taking up Fonterra directorship. An independent thinker and experienced hand. Is he the next Fonterra chair in waiting?

Straight talking award: kumara grower and Vegetables NZ chairman Andre De Bruin for honest opinion on drugs and employment issues – rather than the usual PR massaged ‘never say anything controversial’ comment that does not face issues head-on. . . 

Sodden, mouldy fruit dumped after rainfall destroys Canterbury harvests – Maddison Northcott:

Southern berry growers are feeling the squeeze as hundreds of kilograms of sodden, mouldy fruits are thrown away after the most devastating season in decades.

Paul Tapper, from Tai Tapu’s Tram Road Fruit Farm, said the unseasonably heavy rain throughout November and December destroyed crops and caused up to 300kg of strawberries to go mouldy before they could be collected. . . 

Japanese farmers set to face-off against NZ imports :

Japanese farmers are set to compete with cheaper agricultural products imported from New Zealand and Australia as the first tariff cuts under the re-jigged Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal take effect tomorrow.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that tomorrow Japan will axe tariffs on kiwfruit, grapes and melons, and cut tariffs on imported beef from the current 38.5 percent to 27.5.

It reports the number of stores selling New Zealand beef are likely to increase and a big company – Itoham Foods – is planning to sell more beef from its New Zealand subsidiary. . .

Fonterra strives for better year in 2019 – Samesh Mohanlal:

South Canterbury’s dairy industry has experienced a turbulent year with an increasingly “impaired” public perception adding to its woes, but Fonterra’s head of Farm Source for Canterbury, Marlborough and Tasman, Charles Fergusson plans to take the bull by the horns and clear the air in 2019.

The biggest hurdle of the year, the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis proved devastating for individual farmers, businesses and the wider community, and Fonterra posting its the first ever loss this year has also kept Fergusson busy.

“The year 2018 has been a tough one for the co-operative,” Fergusson says. . .

Extra production does not necessarily mean extra dollars – Pam Tipa:

The extra and hidden costs of bringing in feed can often mean increased milk production, but not increased operating profit.

In fact, sometimes producing the extra milk can cost money, DairyNZ research scientist Dr Jane Kay told a Northland Dairy Development Trust field day at Wellsford. . .

NFU brings industry together to discuss no deal Brexit:

The NFU brought more than 70 representatives from the agri-food supply chain together in London in December to discuss the impacts of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The NFU has been clear that the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘catastrophic’ and is ‘not an option’ for UK agriculture.

The whole supply chain was represented – from seed to shop shelf – representing from pre and post farm gate. . .


Rural round-up

October 30, 2018

Italian connection links North Otago with high fashion – Sally Rae:

Italian textile company Reda Group hosted an annual conference for its New Zealand wool growers at Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka, last week. Sally Rae was invited to
attend.

Reda Group is in the enviable position of having first-hand knowledge of the entire production chain – from the fleece to the finished fabric.

The Italian textile company, owned by the Botto Poala family, owns 30,000ha in the Waitaki Valley and the Mackenzie, farming merino sheep on Rugged Ridges, Otamatapaio and Glenrock stations. 

That meant the company knew the problems and challenges that their grower suppliers were encountering. . . 

Central Otago family recognised for excellence of their wool – Sally Rae:

The Jones family, from Matarae Station, have been recognised for the hard work and effort that goes into producing their high quality merino wool.

Willie and Emily Jones, along with Mr Jones’ mother Juliet, who classes their wool, were presented with Reda Group’s Marque of Excellence 2017-18 – or top supplier – at a function in Wanaka last week.

Elliott and Nikki Heckler, from Olrig Station, near Galloway, were second and Bevan and Tiffany McKnight (Merino Ridges), in the Ida Valley, were third.

Mr Jones was delighted to receive the award, which included a trip to Italy. . . 

 

Electricity key to Fonterra’s 2050 net zero target – Gavin Evans:

 (BusinessDesk) – Electricity is probably Fonterra’s best long-term energy option, but the company says it will need a combination of fuels at its sites as it works toward its 2050 net zero emissions target.

New Zealand’s biggest exporter operates 30 plants nationally and is a major user of gas and coal for its milk powder drying.

It expects to start running its Brightwater plant near Nelson on a mix of coal and wood chip next month. In August it announced plans to convert the boiler fuel at its cheese plant at Stirling – south-east of Balclutha – from coal to electricity. . . 

Ground spreaders take biosecurity risk-prevention seriously:

The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) has developed a set of bio-security guidelines to prevent the spread of weed and pest diseases between farms. The biosecurity protocol gives both farmers and ground spreaders sound practical advice to minimise the risk of spreading any unwanted seeds or bacterial disease on fertiliser spreaders.

While the outbreak of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has raised general awareness of on farm biosecurity, the fertiliser groundspread industry has long been aware of spreader truck hygiene between farms. M.bovis is the latest biosecurity incursion but is less likely to be transferred from farm to farm than weeds like Velvet Leaf or Chilean Needle Grass. . . 

Here come the Sharp Blacks: NZ butchery team announced:

New Zealand’s butchery team – The Sharp Blacks – has been announced as they kick off their journey to the 2020 World Butchers’ Challenge (WBC) in Sacramento, California. The seven-man team, which includes one reserve, is made up of the best butchers from across the country and preparation will now start in earnest as they plan for the ‘Olympics of Butchery’ in September 2020.

The Sharp Blacks squad is made up of the following members;
• Corey Winder (Team Captain, Product Developer) – Elite Meats Bush Inn, Christchurch
• Jeremy Garth (Product Developer) – New World Ferry Road, Christchurch
• David Timbs (Product Developer) – Peter Timbs Meats, Christchurch
• Riki Kerekere (Breaking & Boning) – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland
• Reuben Sharples (Breaking & Boning) – Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland
• James Smith (Garnishing & Display) – PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland
• Luka Young (reserve) – New World Eastridge, Auckland . . 

Northern Hemisphere kiwifruit harvest well underway for Zespri:

The harvest of Zespri Kiwifruit from Northern Hemisphere orchards is well underway, with total volumes expected to reach more than 19 million trays this season.

Zespri Chief International Production Officer Sheila McCann-Morrison says the increased volumes demonstrate the progress being made on Zespri’s global supply strategy of providing consumers with Zespri Kiwifruit for all twelve months of the year. . . 

Hamilton to host 2019 Champion of Cheese awards:

Waikato – long recognised as the country’s dairy capital – will host The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) NZ Champions of Cheese Awards in May 2019.

The Specialist Cheesemakers Association has been running the awards since 2003 and will host the 16th annual NZSCA Gala Awards Evening at the Distinction Hamilton Hotel and Conference Centre on Tuesday 21 May 2019. The awards ceremony will be preceded by the association’s AGM and followed the next day with a cheesemakers seminar all hosted at Distinction Hamilton Hotel and Conference Centre. It’s the first time the awards ceremony has been hosted out of Auckland. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 21, 2018

Purpose, strategy before structure – Pam Tipa:

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says he has highly transferable and unique skills and experience to bring to the Fonterra board table.

He is stepping down from his governance career with Zespri in the new year. Also chief executive of dairying and kiwifruit operation Trinity Lands, McBride says there are concerns about some Fonterra decisions and direction.

“We can either throw rocks at Fonterra or we can try to make a positive contribution.” . . 

Farm rescuer protects nature – Hugh Stringleman:

 Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith wants to bring kiwi back to 47ha of regenerating native bush on Greenhill (Rehia) overlooking Ruawai in Northland. He owns the 430ha farm Greenhill in which the reserve is the centre and embodies a blend of history, family, farming and community service that impressed Hugh Stringleman.

Fifth-generation Kaipara sheep, beef and cropping farmer Jason Smith has brought his family’s farms back into profitable, sustainable production in just six years.

From a worse-than-standing-start he had to contend with some boundary fences that weren’t stock-proof, large paddocks up to 30ha, a huge area of old-man gorse, no recent fertiliser history, completely inadequate livestock handling facilities and a theoretical carrying capacity of 2500 stock units. . .

Urban consumers – do they want anything to eat or not? – Gray Baldwin:

You’ve got to feel sorry for the townies – locked up in postage stamp sized sections in suburbia. The neighbours to the south have loud parties, the northern neighbours have a Pit-Bull cross with a bad habit of biting you in the backside whenever you walk past the gate. The kids over the back fence keep kicking their rugby ball into your windows. In such environments, you yearn for the wide open spaces, for some room to flap your wings, for some farm life like you remember on Grandad’s farm.

But Grandad sold the farm back during the tough years in the eighties. No-one in the family wanted to carry on the daily chores of milking the cows, dagging the ewes and digging four foot deep post holes. Everyone went to town, there’s food enough in the supermarket right? Well yes there is food in the supermarket but because of the disgraceful behaviour of a few farmers and some media mischief making, townies don’t buy the argument from the supermarkets that the instore food is clean, sustainable and good for you. Instead some myths about farmers have developed in the minds of townies. Lets examine some of those myths: . . 

Noodles, milk and ale win awards – Richard Rennie:

Vegetable noodles from Marton, deer milk from Southland and a sour ale from Matakana captured the podium positions at this year’s Massey Food Awards.

The eclectic food basket of category winners was topped by a range of vegetable noodles from Marton business the Whole Mix Company, a subsidiary of Spiers Foods, claiming the Massey University Supreme Award at this year’s competition. . .

Historic Hawke’s Bay: Where the A&P show began – Michael Fowler:

The first Hawke’s Bay A&P show was held in 1863 in a paddock in Havelock North. An agricultural and pastoral society and its annual show was recognised as being important to Hawke’s Bay by the early pioneers as they knew the future wealth of the province would be generated by agriculture and horticulture.

By the 1920s, the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society’s annual show had been based at the Hastings Racecourse for more than 40 years. . .

Explaining agriculture to consumers using emotion not science – Eric Sfiligoj:

According to book author Michele Payn, Principal at Cause Matters Corp., the U.S. agricultural industry has a serious negative perception problem with the general public. “The anti-agricultural community has a very loud voice, especially on social media,” said Payn, speaking at the 2017 Mid America CropLife Association meeting in Kansas City, MO. “I don’t understand for the life of me why agricultural companies don’t do a better job at fighting back against this.”

And while Payn acknowledged that some agricultural entities have tried to refute anti-agricultural sentiment, many others have remained relatively quiet on the subject. “And when you sit in silence, we all lose,” she said.

Part of the challenge in reaching the general public is the fact that less than 2% of the U.S. population knows anything whatsoever about agriculture and how it operates. “Most consumers have never shaken hands with a farmer,” said Payn. “But based upon what they might know, they probably trust farmers. They don’t trust farming, however.” . . 


Rural round-up

October 7, 2018

Quite and capable – Richard Rennie:

A farm apprenticeship course now a year old is starting to have an influence on getting more Kiwis in jobs on dairy farms.

Tirau farm apprentice Kadience Ruakere-Forbes is among the first year’s intake under the Federated Farmers’ Apprenticeship Dairy Programme, a pilot programme supported by PrimaryITO, the federation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . . 

Dairy database rules under review – Hugh Stringleman:

The valuable core database of the New Zealand dairy industry is subject to a regulatory review by the Ministry for Primary Industries, to which organisations and people can make submissions.

Consultation will run for six weeks until November 12 and any submission becomes public information, MPI said.

The key issue is whether the regulated dataset remains well aligned with the dairy industry’s current and future animal evaluation needs. MPI said there has been some concern expressed among dairy genetics companies about the management of herd improvement data. . .

Huge costs of pasture pests – Peter BUrke:

Grass grub and porina are causing $2.3 billion of damage to New Zealand pastures annually, according to an AgResearch study.

Of the total estimated annual losses in average years, up to $1.4b occurs on dairy farms and up to $900m on sheep and beef farms.

But scientist Colin Ferguson says this figure relates only to the damage to pasture and doesn’t include the cost of replacing the pasture, destocking and restocking and the long lasting damage to affected pasture. . . 

$11m study dives into high value milk products – Peter Burke:

A five year, $11 million research project has begun, aimed at producing new high value milk products.

Led by Professor Warren McNabb, of the Riddet Institute, Palmerston North, the project will seek better mechanistic understanding of the various milks produced in New Zealand including cow, goat, sheep and deer.

A particular aim will be to develop new products for babies, very young children and elderly people in New Zealand and, especially, for export. . .

 

First failed WorkSafe prosecution:

Athenberry Holdings Ltd grows Kiwifruit near Katikati. Zespri buy the fruit, brand, market and sell the fruit. Zespri engaged Agfirst to sample and test maturity and quality of fruit.

Agfirst use a local packhouse Hume to collect the samples. AgFirst’s sample collector died during the collection of fruit when her quad bike overturned on rough ground next to Athenberry’s kiwifruit block.

She was employed by AgFirst who had contracted a local packhouse – Hume Pack-N-Cool Ltd (Hume). It appears the rider had taken the quad bike over steep and rough terrain away from the area where she was required to collect samples.

Her training and industry practices are that you stick to the offical and mown access paths. No-one was sure why she deviated. . . 

Gene edited food is coming to your plate, no regulation included – Lydia Mulvany:

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a “Frankenfood” future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in several states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet-unknown peril.

In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there. . . 


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