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Can grass-fed Wagyu beef become a new health food?

Zoonoses prone should raise their hygiene game. PAGE 38

New land ownership regulations causing uncertainty in the rural sector. PAGE 16



Answers raise more questions DAVID ANDERSON

TAXPAYERS WILL fork out about half a million dollars a year to fund the new Primary Sector Council (PSC), the brainchild of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. This information comes to light after a series of questions asked by Rural News under the Official Information Act (OIA) about the costs and formation of the PSC. The OIA was request sent to the Minster of Agriculture’s office in early June, but passed on to MPI to answer as it was deemed “an operational matter”. “It’s because the details you requested in your OIA were operational matters and the responsibility of MPI. The ministry is tasked with the administration of this council; under the Act the Minister has a duty to transfer

[the request],” the minister’s office responded. Rural News’ request for details of the costs and spending to set up the PSC was refused by MPI. “The specific information requested for establishment expenditure and costs is not available,” MPI responded. “Accordingly, I am refusing your request under section 18(e) of the

OIA.” However, despite MPI’s refusal to provide details of these costs, the minister’s office confirmed to Rural News that the PSC will have an “estimated annual cost of $400,000 - $500,000” and two MPI staff will administer it “not full time, [only] estimated 0.75 FTE (full time equivalents)”. MPI confirmed that $300,000 -

Milk processing A farmer feeds out hay to a herd of cows wintering on a block near Mount Somers, Mid-Canterbury, on a fine winter’s afternoon late last week. While much of the country has endured wet wintry weather, Canterbury has generally escaped the mud so far.


$350,000 had been budgeted annually for the cost of meetings, room hire, airfares and accommodation for the council. Administration is expected to cost $100,000 - $150,000 a year on top of this, but this is only an estimate. “A cost estimate has been provided as, at this stage, no firm decision has been made on the number of council TO PAGE 5

NORTHLAND REGIONAL Council (NRC) has inspected an illegal offal pit at a farm in Northland that is also the subject of a separate complaint about animal abuse. Animal rights group Farmwatch sent media photographs of dead, rotting cows lying in an open paddock near a stream behind the farm. Farmwatch spokesperson John Darroch claims that when the activists arrived at the scene, rats were running over the carcases. He says the gully was about 10m from a stream and 20m from a swamp. NRC’s group manager regulatory services, Colin Dall, told Rural News the so-called offal pit did not comply with its regulations requiring pits to meet certain standards, one of which is that animals must be covered. He also says the pit on the Mangapai dairy farm did not have a consent and so is illegal. Dall says the council told the farm owners last week that dumping dead stock in the open near a stream is illegal. The owners then removed the stock and buried them at a site which met council rules. The council has not yet decided whether the farm owners will be prosecuted. @rural_news



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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


EU FTA talks begin PETER BURKE

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HEAD OFFICE Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Phone: 09-307 0399 Fax: 09-307 0122 POSTAL ADDRESS PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: PMP Print CONTACTS Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 80,580 as at 31.03.2018

NEW ZEALAND this week begins negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU in Brussels, despite the chaos over Brexit in London. Up to 20 NZ officials are at the EU headquarters to work on the details of an FTA, as formally launched a month ago in Wellington by the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and NZ Trade Minister David Parker. Their stated aim was a comprehensive 21st century FTA including, notably, a 50% increase in trade, higher wages for NZers and cuts in tariffs to benefit our producers. Both Malstrom and Parker expressed delight that the talks were underway and waxed lyrical about what an FTA could do for both parties. However, Malstrom freely acknowledged that the negotiations will have their moments, especially on the issue of agriculture. Troublesome issues such as tariff rate quotas (TRQs) on meat, and geographical indication GIs will be on the agenda. Negotiators will likely deal

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom and NZ Trade Minister David Parker at the launch of FTA discussions last month.

with the easy issues at the start and leave the sticky problems until later. This week’s discussions are the first round; signing the deal is likely to take two years. Both sides have prepared detailed papers and the general scope and framework of the talks have been

known to both sets of officials for some months. The next round will be held in NZ later in the year. Meanwhile, over the past week British Prime Minister Teresa May’s attempt to get her Cabinet to agree on an exit plan from the EU has turned

into a political nightmare, with two high profile resignations and criticism of her leadership from the Tory backbench. Some commentators see it as the worst crisis in British politics since WWII. May has been seeking a ‘soft Brexit’ – code for ‘we can leave the EU but still enjoy many of the benefits of the EU Customs Union’. A key element in this is to get a ‘soft’ border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Irish Republic. The present proposal by May is similar to others put up and is seen by the EU negotiators unacceptable. “We will bend the EU’s rules for the sake of Ireland, but don’t think for a minute that we will unravel the single market for a departing UK,” the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said recently. However, despite all the shenanigans in London, NZ trade officials don’t believe this will interfere in any way with our FTA negotiations in Brussels this week. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom gave a similar guarantee in Wellington recently.

Kiwifruit case setting a precedent? PAM TIPA

THE KIWIFRUIT claim decision in favour of growers has wide implications for biosecurity, says Dr Nic Lees, a senior lecturer in agribusiness at Lincoln University. The decision is that MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) had a “duty to exercise reasonable skill and care when undertaking their responsibilities in relation to biosecurity”, but that it had failed to exercise this skill

and care, Lees told Rural News. “This means MPI can be liable for its decisions on the importation of any product that may have biosecurity risks,” he says. “In the past, MPI has done risk assessments on importing products but the risk of a biosecurity failure has rested with the industry, not MPI. This [decision] fundamentally changes that. Now MPI [and by proxy the Government] is legally liable for a biosecurity failure.” The Government Industry Agree-

ments (GIA) to some extent recognise this in that there is now joint risk in biosecurity breaches, Lees says. “It is likely that MPI will be more cautions in their risk assessment on imported goods and more vigilant about incursions. “Significant incursions [have occurred] recently: myrtle rust and Mycoplasma bovis, which indicate the need for more risk assessment of importation of plant and animal products and better surveillance. This decision and the GIAs are likely

to help that.” MPI said in a statement when the High Court decision was released that the 500-page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the setting up of MPI and required a thorough examination. “Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.” @rural_news

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Fonterra faces ‘crisis of confidence’ SUDESH KISSUN

FORMER FONTERRA director Leonie Guiney says the co-op is facing a crisis of confidence. She says the dairy co-op’s balance sheet is no longer in a position to handle more of the investment culture, while its leadership continues to deny there are any issues with strategic direction. Guiney, a director for three years, says because the current

leadership is overseeing recruitment of a new chief executive, farmers face more of the same from the co-op. “We have no indication of any review of Fonterra’s strategic direction, however, before they make this choice,” Guiney told Rural News. “It’s hard to know what type of person you need if you haven’t articulated where you are going. When Fonterra has clarified a strategic direction shareholders can support with their capi-


tal, we will be able to employ the appropriate management and we will retain our milk supply. “That may be specialist ingredients experience, for example, an area in which we have competitive strengths. “Whatever the choices, Fonterra shareholders aren’t fools; they’ve heard the rhetoric on offshore milk pools for example, but they can read the numbers; these are not delivering to NZ farmers,” Guiney says. “I firmly believe we must

UNDECIDED ON STANDING FOR BOARD LEONIE GUINEY remains undecided about contesting the upcoming Fonterra board elections. “Fonterra has managed to conveniently push the defamation case out beyond the elections, keeping me silenced and unable to clear my name in the interim,” she says. Nominations for three farmer-

elected seats are open; three sitting directors -- Nicola Shadbolt, Ashley Waugh and co-op chairman John Wilson -- are retiring by rotation. They may all stand for re-election if they wish; none has so far announced any intention. The independent nomination process will be run first, with nominations needing to have

been received by the returning officer by July 23. The self-nomination process where farmers can put themselves forward as a candidate for the board outside the independent nomination process runs from September 10 to 20. The returning officer will confirm all candidates on Monday, September 24.

Former Fonterra director Leonie Guiney

work together to retain our competitiveness and that our future is a cooperative one, but not without accountability for board and management’s performance with the owners’ capital.” Guiney claims that if shareholders are not convinced, they will leave with their milk,

which ultimately leaves Fonterra uncompetitive within NZ and in a destructive procurement-war cycle. “We don’t need to let ourselves get to that position; what we do need is better targeted investment in our areas of comparative advantages.”

Kiwi farmers paid best of all SUDESH KISSUN

CORPORATE FARMER Earl Rattray says the co-op model is working wonders for New Zealand farmers, who get paid much more for their milk than farmers in the other big milk producing and exporting countries. Rattray, a former Fonterra director with farming interests in NZ and overseas, points out that with the co-op’s forecast milk price of $7/kgMS for this season, NZ farmers are getting about US41c/L for milk. Farmers in the US get 34c/L, in Europe US37c/L and in Australia US34c/L. “It’s a good example of the co-op working well for farmers; it’s a milk price no one can argue with,” he told Rural News.

“Around the world, farmers are arguing about the milk price, wondering why theirs is going down, while in NZ it’s going up. “But in NZ, no one can argue with the Fonterra milk price because it is set from externally verifiable prices, set by the market every two weeks at auction. “NZ farmers can see what their milk is earning; it means it’s a milk price Fonterra has to pay farmers before it makes a profit and that puts us in a unique position.” Transparency also means Fonterra is unable to quietly take into the milk price such market write-downs as its loss on Beingmate. Rattray says in days gone by few farmers ever knew of such write-downs. “Today, it is exposed for what it is; such losses are taken out of the profit


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rather than the value of milk.” He also applauded Fonterra’s ability to switch its milksolids between different earning streams, maximising the value of milk. “It’s an extraordinary situation where Fonterra is Earl Rattray able to get the full value of milk fat, which is now worth 1.3 times more than protein. Not every farmer in the world is getting those values passed back to them but Fonterra supplying farmers are getting them. I think this shows the true value of having a farmer-owned organisation

of scale with product mix flexibility and a completely independent milk price.” Fonterra is achieving a higher payout despite not having a massive high value domestic market like EU, US and even Australia, where the home market consumes at least 60% of production. Meanwhile, Rattray says the NZ dairy industry must maintain sustainable farming practices. “Today’s consumers want food produced with a soft environmental footprint and a strong ethical footprint. Tightening environment standards are a given – that’s the price of being in business. We have to embrace it because the market values it.”



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LEONIE GUINEY, who is embroiled in litigation with Fonterra over alleged confidential board information leaked to the media, heads back to court on September 15 for a substantive hearing. Fonterra obtained an injunction against media outlets publishing ‘confidential information’ which it claimed they had obtained from Guiney. “The media and myself remain in a position where no one knows what the so called ‘confidential information’ is that they are not allowed to report,” she says. However, there is no law against people offering their opinions in NZ, she adds. “This is particularly true for co-op members offering input into their own cooperative which, perhaps some forget, exists to serve its members’ interests,” says Guiney. She believes Fonterra can succeed as a co-op, but doesn’t rule out the current leadership pushing for a market float of the co-op, with shares and milk supply delinked to demutualise the co-op. “We must put leadership in place that shows respect for farmer capital and can articulate the cooperative solutions with a simpler strategy. “Those options exist and that conversation needs to be out there; the defensive ‘oh we had some bad luck in China but everyone does’ arguments are unsustainable.”





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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018

NEWS 5 Elders mum on PGW

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Minister’s half million-dollar-ayear baby FROM PAGE 1

meetings that will be held over the next 12 months.” The OIA also reveals that no formal process was used to select the council members. “A formal process was not established,” MPI said. It says the process for identifying candidates included nominations by industry groups, interest groups, MPs and MPI. “Candidates were approved by the Cabinet appointment and honours committee prior to the minister making the appointments.” The council is chaired by former Zespri chief executive Lain Jager. This cost information is at odds with claims by chair Lain Jagger in an interview with another media outlet earlier this month “that the operating costs for the council’s two year reign are yet unknown”. The 14 other council members are Nadine Tunley, Puawai Wereta, Tony Egan, Julia Jones, John Brakenridge, Stephanie Howard, Shama Lee, Mark Paine, Julian Raine, Neil Richardson, Mirana Stephens, John Rodwell, Steve Saunders and Steve Smith.

The OIA response also shows the council members will not receive an annual payment but a daily rate of “$800 for the chair, $500 for members and $650 for members acting as chair or leading a sub-group”. This contravenes claims made by Jager, in the same interview, that council members will be “paid the normal government meeting rate of $450 a day”. The newly revealed costs of the PSC and revelations of no formal selection process comes on top of earlier criticism of its member appointments, which centred on farmers and scientists not being fairly represented on the council. Questions about meeting frequency, timetable and proposed agendas for the council over the next 12 months also drew a blank from MPI. “The meeting timetable and agendas for the Primary Sector Council for the next 12 months have not yet been established,” was its response. “Meetings are likely to be monthly for the next few months and thereafter quarterly.” Rural News understands the PSC first met on May 23 and its next meeting is scheduled for July 23.

AUSTRALIAN RURAL services company Elders has downplayed media speculation it is raising funds for a buyout of New Zealand’s largest agricultural services company PGG Wrightson (PGW). In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, last week, Elders said had not made “any definitive proposal” to buy PGW. This came after a report in The Australian  newspaper that it is seeking to raise A$300 million – speculating that Elders – along with Dutch seed company Barenbrug (a corner-stone shareholder in NZ Agriseeds) – are interested

in buying all or part of PGW. However, in the ASX statement, Elders chief executive Mark Allison says the company will only make

acquisitions that make compelling strategic and financial sense. Rumours about PGW’s future have been triggered by claims that Chinese-owned Agria Corp wants to quit its 50% stake in the NZ rural services company. Agria is being investigated by the Overseas Investment Office

(OIO) for its “good character”, following its delisting from the New York Stock Exchange in 2016 after the NYSE announced it allegedly uncovered evidence a “top executive and other intermediaries” artificially inflated the company’s stock price. PGW said it had nothing to add to a statement it made in May, that the company had been conducting a strategic review of its business, including growth opportunities, capital and balance sheet requirements, and potentially shareholding structure. @rural_news

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Outlook for meat remains rosy PAM TIPA

THE APPARENT ease with which the global lamb markets have been able to absorb extra volumes from New Zealand and Australia indicates demand remains very strong, a Rabobank report says. The bank latest Agribusiness Monthly says strong global demand, together with local procurement competition for declining supplies, ensured schedule prices kept lifting throughout June. As of the start of July, the slaughter price in the North Island averaged $7.85/kg cwt (4% higher month on month), while

over this period, with South Island lamb averongoing drought forcaged $7.70/kg cwt (5% higher month on month).     ing many farmers to destock, leading to record NZ exported 35,620 kill numbers. The appartonnes of lamb in May, ent ease with which the up 21% on volumes global lamb markets have exported in May 2016, been able to absorb this says Rabobank animal extra volume from NZ proteins analyst Blake and Australia indicates Holgate. global demand for lamb Despite the increased remains very strong.” volume, average export Holgate says NZ’s values surged to $10,199/t domestic lamb supplies (up 8% on May 2016). will remain tight through “China continues to the remainder of the lead market demand, 2017-18 season ending taking about 40% of NZ’s September 30. May exports. The US is “Rabobank expects another market providcompetition for the ing strong returns for NZ remaining lamb supply exporters, with US lamb to continue to put some export receipts surpassupward pressure on ing NZ$40m for the first prices, although further time,” says Holgate. upside will be limited by “Australian exports the processors’ ability to have also lifted sharply

extract further value the market.” Holgate says the lower NZD/USD, and seasonal decline in cattle supplies, will put some upward pressure on beef prices also. However, over the next month, he expects this to be limited by softening US imported beef prices. Rabobank says continued depreciation of the NZD/USD, combined with the seasonal reduction in cattle kill numbers, led to a marginal increase in schedule prices during June. As at the start of July, the North Island bull price is 1% higher month on month, averaging $5.30/kg cwt, with the South Island bull price

Rabobank says the ease in which global markets have absorbed extra meat volumes shows demand remains strong.

up 3% month on month, averaging $5.05/kg cwt. The NZD/USD has fallen 3.5% since the start of June, dropping below 0.68 for the first time since June 2016. “This currency movement has helped to offset weakening US imported beef prices, which are starting to trend downwards as supplies of US domestic beef production increase. “While the end of

NZ’s cow kill season traditionally provides some lift in US imported beef prices, as available import supplies tighten, any jump in prices this season is likely to be limited by the increased supply out of Australia, as drought in their key cattle producing regions forces them to increase their cow slaughter rates.” Holgate says with the peak of the season’s kill now done, NZ’s total pro-

duction for the 2017-18 season is on track for the first season-on-season increase since 201415, with the total beef kill now 7% ahead of where it was at this stage last season. Rabobank believes available supplies of cattle for slaughter will now drop off through to the season end at the end of September with prime cattle making up the bulk of the remaining kill.     

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Beetles provide an answer While scientists and farm consultants in laboratories try to solve the problem of nitrogen loss on farms, a large force of creatures works underground 24/7 on the issue. Peter Burke reports on the work of the dung beetle and a man passionate about their progress. DR SHAUN Forgie, an entymologist who has studied dung beetles in various countries, is one of a small group of international experts. Having seen what these small black creatures were doing overseas, he decided to bring them to New Zealand. This began in 2010 and, as expected, required a detailed proposal to a government agency (now the Environmental Protection Agency) to get permission. Forgie says NZ has its own native species of dung beetle, but they are confined to the high country and some specific habitats. “We had to look at places in the world that had the beetles that would suit our environment,” he told Rural News. “The ones we have are from south-

west Europe, Germany, France, Spain, southern England and parts of southern Africa. In the end, we brought in 11 different species.” Forgie says there are 7000-plus species of dung beetle worldwide, but he chose species that are tunnellers. In Africa it is common to see dung beetles rolling balls of dung down a road, but these were not considered appropriate for NZ. “The tunnelling dung beetles we have don’t look as glorious as the ball rollers of Africa, but they are very effective,” Forgie explains. “They go straight to piles of manure and immediately go to work making huge networks of tunnels in the soil, some down as far as 45cm. “They make these tunnels and take all the manure off the soil surface and

Shaun Forgie

then bring up the soil from their tunnels so you get a mixing of soils.” Forgie says the lifestyle of the dung beetle simply revolves around burying manure and turning it into small sausage-like balls then laying an egg in it,

then the larvae feed on it and the new beetle repeats the process. “So we get all the benefits of removing surface manure to beneath the ground which means fewer contaminants go into waterways,” he says.

READY FOR SALE SHAUN FORGIE has a facility near Kaipara and one near Auckland where he breeds the dung beetles. These are normally sold in summer and early autumn to farmers. He also breeds dung beetles for specific environments; some species perform better in dry conditions and others in wetter areas. So far he’s sold tens of thousands of these tiny creatures to farmers and councils, getting strong support from the Greater Wellington Regional Council and farmers in Southland and Waikato; they see the benefits of a friendly tool to reduce contaminant run-off into waterways. “When I sell to famers -- a typical example is a 500-cow dairy farm or a 2500 SU sheep farm -- I would sell four colonies of up to 600 beetles per colony,” he explains. “I encourage the farmer to dump each colony in a paddock close to a pile of manure.” Forgie wishes more councils could see the advantages of using and promoting dung beetles. He says in some places on farms it’s not possible to fence and plant trees close to waterways, but dung beetles can still operate in such places.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Money better spent elsewhere PAM TIPA

MONEY SPENT on adding more layers of bureaucracy to our animal welfare regime would be better spent on addressing our horrific statistics on children, says Federated Farmers animal welfare spokesman Miles Anderson. We already have the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the regulations have just been redone, he says. Anderson was commenting on the Framework for Action on Animal Welfare, released in late June by Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri. Its proposals include appointing a commissioner for animals and a crossparty animal welfare working group in Parliament. “We are concerned that this may well be a knee-jerk reaction to the recent case [in Northland],” Anderson told Rural News. Animal welfare issues tend to go hand-in-hand with human issues. “So it is important to find out first what is happening in those places [where abuse has occurred] before we

Feds’ meat and wool chair Miles Anderson fears the proposal to appoint an animals commissioner is a ‘kneejerk’ reaction.

get carried away with proposals for, for example, putting cameras in buildings that house animals or in dairy sheds. “We are not a police state; we want to be wary of some of these suggestions.” He acknowledges that cameras are not in the proposed framework but they have been discussed by Safe and Farmwatch. In a recently highlighted case the behaviour was illegal under the current rules anyway and certainly not

acceptable. “I don’t see what further regulation would do to pick people like that up.” Farmers treat their animals well with the odd exception. “We are a bit nervous about some statements made by people who have put themselves up as animal welfare crusaders. With most of those outfits their stated aim is to remove farmed animals out of our farming systems. “I question whether their motives are animal welfare related or just their

philosophy.” The odd animal welfare case highlights an issue on a particular property and is not standard behaviour. “Current regulation already covers those issues and what will more regulation do except create more cost? The creation of an animal welfare commissioner is just another burden on the taxpayer for no real gain. “They’d be better off spending the money on people. How about sorting our horrific statistics on the treatment of children? That is where the Government should be focussing.” We have just redone the animal welfare regulations, he says. “A number of those regulations are either in force or will come into force in the next 12 months. “They are very high standards and they have to be. If animal welfare standards are high on the world stage where we are trying to sell our produce we can rightfully claim that our animals live good, full lives and are able to express their natural behaviours. “I am not saying that our animal welfare codes don’t have to be reviewed from time to time but we have just done it.”

TALK, TALK, TALK WHAITIRI, THE first dedicated minister for animal welfare says the framework followed eight months consultation with stakeholders The framework signals the creation of “an independent future-thinking voice on animal welfare, more inclusive decisionmaking and a strengthened, more effectively monitored code of welfare system”. “We are also prioritising the lifting of expectations of achieving animal welfare outcomes and developing the skills of those at the coal-face of this issue, including for those working with our nation’s animals. “With modern consumers more discerning, I want to ensure these strong outcomes contribute to New Zealand keeping its competitive advantage as a safe food producer. “Once the future direction of this framework is complete, I will seek Cabinet approval as part of our commitment to improving animal welfare outcomes across the board.”

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Protests won’t stop Mackenzie dairy development going ahead NIGEL MALTHUS

GREENPEACE PROTESTS and even some opposition from Fonterra are not affecting Dunedin businessman Murray Valentine’s plans for a large state-of-the-art dairy conversion in the Mackenzie Basin. The Simon’s Pass conversion remains on track to begin milk production

will put about 40% of the property into a conservation area. Much of the rest will be irrigated by a pipeline now under construction, bringing water 8km down the side of the lake from the Tekapo canal. Although the farm has resource consent to run up to 15,000 cows, Valentine has said that was never his intention. He

“We’ve been saying for a while now that our strong preference is for no further expansion in the Mackenzie Basin...” on newly irrigated pasture in the coming season. “We’ve been saying for a while now that our strong preference is for no further expansion in the Mackenzie Basin because we’re concerned it will have a negative impact on the region’s sensitive environment,” said Miles Hurrell, chief operating officer for Fonterra’s Farm Source. “However, under the current Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, we are required to accept applications to supply us from farms within our collection zone. “Before we pick up milk, the farms would need to have all required environmental consents.” Valentine said he is working in terms of his consents and did not want to comment further on Fonterra’s position. “They’ve agreed to take the milk and I think I’d just leave it at that,” he told Rural News. “It’s [Fonterra’s] decision to take whatever view they want to. I can’t comment any more on what they’re saying.” The property is 9600ha, about 5500ha in pastoral lease and the balance freehold, straddling State Highway 8 just south of Lake Pukaki. Under the conditions for his consents, agreed to through the Environment Court, Valentine

expects to take about seven years to develop the operation up to a full size of about 5500 cows. Fonterra’s remarks followed a high-profile protest against Valentine’s plans by Greenpeace, which sent 45 activists onto the site in a predawn incursion in early July. Greenpeace claimed in a statement to have stopped construction of the farm’s main irrigation pipeline for nine hours by shackling themselves to the machinery. Twelve people, including an 88-year-old man, were eventually arrested after police moved in. Greenpeace sustainable agriculture campaigner Gen Toop said the “iconic and fragile” area is “no place for cows.” “For the sake of the fragile Mackenzie and our rivers, industrial dairy expansion has to stop. A line is being crossed here in the Mackenzie. If this precious and unique area can be converted into an industrial dairy operation, nothing is safe.” Greenpeace claims 30,000 people had signed its petition calling on the Government to strengthen regulations on freshwater and agricultural pollution, and ban new dairy expansions. Valentine was philosophical about his

chances of preventing further protest incursions. “There’s 50km of

fenceline around the farm so it’ll be difficult to stop anything.”

Police arrest Greenpeace protestors who chained themselves to machinery at the Mackenzie Basin dairy development earlier this month.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Northland orchards on the market PAM TIPA

SEEKA PUT nine Northland kiwifruit and avocado orchards on the market last week, including six it recently acquired from Turners and Growers. The Northland properties totalling 288ha are up

for bidding for five weeks until August 15. This follows Seeka’s $40 million purchase in April of T&G’s post-harvest facilities in Kerikeri for the packing and storing of avocados, kiwifruit and citrus. Additionally, T&G sold its Kerikeri kiwifruit orchards and all its Zespri shares to

Seeka – the latter valued at about $2m. These are also for sale. Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says the company had always intended selling the Northland land as it focussed on refurbishing the post-harvest facility. “And this is an excellent opportunity for

investors to gain a significant stake in prime New Zealand horticultural orchards and land, with a mix of mature orchards in and in development, [growing] kiwifruit and avocados.” The holdings include bare land for future development. Franks says the move to sell is consistent with

strategy and Seeka’s business model. “We are looking for a large scale investor or consortium to own these orchards with professional orchard management and postharvest services in place from Seeka. At the same time, Seeka is investing in the


fundamental post-harvest infrastructure with new packing facilities and coolstorage planned for Kerikeri.” The 288ha for sale include 68ha planted in Gold kiwifruit, including 34ha of the high-returning Zespri SunGold variety. Spread over nine properties, it also includes significant plantings of Hayward Green kiwifruit, Enza Gold and Enza Red kiwifruit, 28ha of Hass avocado, 15ha of

lemons, and 38ha of bare land suitable for kiwifruit development and 4ha suitable for avocado development. Seeka had previously identified the region as a growth area for avocados and kiwifruit. With avocado developments the company is expecting demand for post-harvest facilities to increase. It says growing conditions had also proven favourable for kiwifruit, particularly gold varieties.

2017 Young Farmer of the Year Nigel Woodhead and his 1970 counterpart Allan Anderson cut the birthday cake at the competition’s 50th anniversary celebration.


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THE YOUNG Farmer of the Year competition celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala gathering of former winners, finalists and families held at the national final in Invercargill. About 400 people attended, including the 1970 winner Allan Anderson, the longest-surviving champion, who cut the anniversary cake, and last year’s winner Nigel Woodhead. “This is the first time we’ve had so many grand finalists in one room,” said NZ Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland. The contest was first run in 1969, initially as a radio quiz with no practical elements. In 1981, it set two new milestones with the first television broadcast and the first female finalist, Denise Clemens (nee Brown), a North Otago sheep and cropping farmer and part-time farm consultant. “I admire the women who make it through now because the contest has a much larger practical component,” said Clemens. “I don’t think it will be long until we have a female grand champion. Women can do anything.” “It’s amazing. It’s just like a school reunion isn’t it?” said Levin farmer Geoff Kane, who won the 1981 title. “We were all pretty green about what was required for television,” he said. “We were extremely dressed up and serious. Today the contest is more entertaining and has a bit more audience appeal.” Kane still recalls the modules finalists had to tackle. “Horticulture was just coming into its own in the 80s, so we had to plant and prune a few trees. We also had to hang gates, fix a water pump, repair the chain on a motorbike and deal with a tractor that had run out of diesel.”

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Second time’s a win for Wallace NIGEL MALTHUS

GOING FOR the FMG Young Farmer of the Year title for a second time was incredibly hard, says this year’s title winner, Gore sheep farmer Logan Wallace. “It becomes all-consuming and to put yourself through it a second time is incredibly tough,” Wallace told Rural News. “It’s addictive as well, though. That’s the issue.” Wallace (28) reached the grand final in 2016 then stood back for a year before taking the plunge again. In the interim, he says, he learned a lot about keeping calm and pacing himself, and developing his planning and leadership skills especially through involvement in the local search and rescue organisation. His win, in the competition’s 50th anniversary year, means the title is staying in the south for the second year running, following last year’s win by Milton’s Nigel Woodhead. Wallace, who holds a Certificate in Agriculture and a Diploma in Rural Business from Telford, runs 2300 ewes on a 290ha farm at Waipahi, about 20km east of Gore. The inten-

sive sheep breeding and finishing property also carries 700 hoggets and 400 trading sheep. The farm has been in the family 30 years. Wallace started running it five years ago under a trading partnership with his parents Ross and Alexa. He now leases the land from his parents, having bought their shares in the trading company a year ago. Wallace runs the farm as a oneman operation. He has introduced Texel genetics, running Romney-Texel crosses with the twin goals of low-fuss ewes with strong mothering instincts, and lambs which quickly reach their weight targets. Wallace is heavily involved in his local community, as a leader of Gore’s Calvin Community Church youth group, and membership of the Pomahaka Water Care group, SAR and Toastmasters. He joined Toastmasters because of Young Farmers, after “mincing” a speech in his first regional competition and knowing he needed to do something about it. Wallace’s winning formula this year was to concentrate on his known weaknesses, particularly because of the short time he had to prepare.

The Otago-Southland regional competition was the last of the year, run in April. The week before that, Wallace and his parents had together won the Otago-Southland Ballance Farm Environment Award so he had to prepare for the national Ballance awards at the same time as preparing for the national Young Farmer of the Year. All this while also running the farm?

Logan Wallace in action during the practical session. Below left: Logan Wallace with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

“Yeah, Dad did a fair hunk of that in the last couple of months,” says Wallace. “A lot of faith and a lot of prayer went into it too. A whole heap of support from the Calvin church.” “It’s an amazing feeling, It’s incredibly tough

but what you learn and the skills you build on, even through the district and regional levels – those skills you learn are great and the opportunities just from being involved are really cool.” His prizes include a New Holland tractor, a Honda quad, cash, scholarships, equipment and clothing. “Logan Wallace is an extremely deserving winner,” said Andrea Brunner from FMG.









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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


A weaker NZ dollar won’t buffer impacts of potential trade war PAM TIPA

A WEAKER New Zealand dollar may help offset the decline in Global Dairy Trade prices, but the reasons behind the lower dollar are more significant to dairy, says Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins. Both she and ASB’s senior economist Nathan Penny say ongoing trade friction and the growing US-China trade war contributed to last week’s GDT Event result. That result, where the average price index slid 5% to US$3232/tonne was “ugly”, says BNZ senior economist Doug Steel. Whole milk powder (WMP) took the biggest decline with a drop of 7.3% to US$2905/t.  Higgins says this decline coincides with Fonterra’s announcement of May 2018 collections, which were up almost 7% for the month.  And Fonterra has re-affirmed its “ambitious” expectations for 1.3% growth in milk production this season, to 1525 million kgMS. According to Fonterra’s Global Dairy Update, milk collection across NZ for the 2017-18 season reached 1505m kgMS -- 1% behind the 201617 season. Difficult weather was the prevailing theme last season season. However, collections for the last month of the season – May – reached 71m kgMS, 7% above the same month last season on the back of favourable autumn conditions in most regions. Higgins says the weaker Kiwi dollar seen since the announcement of opening forecasts may help to offset the decline in prices, although individual

DOWN-DRAFT THEFT WESTPAC’S SENIOR economist Anne Bonniface says they had been expecting prices to soften in the coming months, but last week’s fall was a surprise. While it is difficult to pinpoint any one factor, the impact of trade wars on global growth prospects may have played a role. The auction showed “the biggest threat for NZ is that we get caught in the downdraft of a slowdown in global trade which puts downward pressure on commodity prices across the board”. “Certainly this fear has been weighing on financial markets.” The dairy price fall had no immediate impact on currency markets but they expect further falls would. Westpac is maintaining a $6.40/kgMS forecast.

company FX hedging policies may limit the benefit. But the reasons behind it are more worrying. “Clearly, the ongoing trade frictions are having an impact on sentiment and therefore prices in the latest GDT Event,” she says.   Geopolitical volatility continues. The next round of trade war implications looked set to play out late last week, with the introduction of new trade tariffs by China and Mexico likely to be imposed on the US from July 6. ASB’s Penny says the dairy auction price fall reflects nervousness stemming from increased trade tension between the US and China. Ironically the increased Chinese tariffs on US exports will actually make NZ products cheaper by comparison. “For now though, dairy buyers are more nervous about the fallout from the increasing trade tensions and the potential impact this could have on dairy demand.” Currencies for key dairy buyers have fallen: the Chinese yuan is down

about 3% since the last auction and Chinese stock markets have been hit. BNZ’s Steel points out that while WMP fell 7.3% at last week’s auction, longer dated prices fell by at least 11%. “These are material declines and bigger falls than was anticipated on the day -- an ugly result,” he says. Prices are nearly 9% lower than a year ago. “It is also important to note that the NZD has weakened over recent weeks, offering support to prices expressed in NZ dollars – the ones that matter for milk price. NZD/USD was down more than 2% since the previous mid-June auction, taking the edge off the drop in international prices,” he notes. The RBNZ included lower dairy prices in its May monetary policy statement, but with WMP at an average of US$2905/t, prices have dipped below the RBNZ’s medium term view of US$3000/t.   News that Fonterra milk collections were up 6.6% year on year in May shouldn’t have surprised anyone, says Steel. But coupled with product

Rabobank’s Emma Higgins believes the recent drop in the GDT comes from the threatened US / China trade war.

volume picking up seasonally on the auction platform – up 22% on last auction -- the strong milk growth headline may have checked some buyers’ enthusiasm, Steel says. Other factors may have been the EU continuing to unwind its massive stockpile of skim milk powder, India re-entering the world market and renewed weakness in international grain prices. Meanwhile, some growth concerns in China and a softer Chinese yuan may have curbed Chinese demand. “There appeared no sign of extra Chinese demand for NZ or EU prod-

uct as a result of the prospect at week’s end of higher Chinese tariffs on US product (in retaliation to US tariff threats).” BNZ is sticking with its $6.60/kgMS forecast, but with the risk tilted to the downside. “It is worth noting that prices often drop in June and July on seasonal grounds so we wouldn’t over-react to one auction result especially with recent signs that global milk supply growth has been generally underwhelming,” Steel says @rural_news

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IHC latest victim of M.bovis NIGEL MALTHUS

IHC IS hoping farmers who’ve previously supported its annual calf and rural scheme by donating animals for auction will this year give cash. For the first time in 33 years IHC has cancelled the auctions because of the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis. The scheme usually raises about $1 million a year – $1.4m last year – a big chunk of IHC’s $9m annual donations budget. About three-quarters of it comes from live calves collected and sold at about 18 separate auctions. The rest comes from ‘virtual’ calves, straight donations or pledges of donations matching the auction prices. “About 4000 farmers participate and it’s a part of the fabric and culture of rural NZ,” Greg Miller, IHC’s national manager of fundraising, told Rural News. Miller says IHC had thought long and hard – talking with MPI, farmers and auctioneers PGG Wrightson – before cancelling the auctions. There are other ways people can support the

scheme, but there was too much risk in the calf auctions “for this year, anyway,” Miller says. IHC has tightened its biosecurity in recent years, only picking up animals with proper NAIT tags and animal status declaration (ASD) forms. But the risk was too high and IHC could not put farmers’ livelihoods at risk. It was too crucial a time for MPI and the industry as they tried to determine whether Mycoplasma bovis could be eradicated. “It is not right at such a crucial period where they’re assessing whether it’ll work, for us to do such a big calf movement,” he says. “We have determined there should neither be IHC-organised trucking of weaned calves to sales, nor IHC calf sale days.” Miller says IHC must do what is right for NZ farmers’ livelihoods and long-term sustainability. “We are keeping up to date with the latest findings, and are working to gather the best data possible, to determine how the scheme will operate in the future.” He says IHC supports

people with intellectual disabilities and their families in rural communities. To support the virtual calf scheme, by donating $300 in lieu of a calf, can visit pledge

Nyla Lauridsen, 7, of Te Awamutu, won the 7 & Under section of the IHC photo competition run alongside the calf auction scheme with this photo of her sister Evie, 3, being licked by a calf. SUPPLIED


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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Harvesting truffles is a delicate business.

Fledging industry has growing to do NIGEL MALTHUS

NEW ZEALAND boasts the first truffle grown in the southern hemisphere, in 1996, but Australia is now strides ahead in producing and exporting the delicacy. George Wilkinson, president of the NZ Truffle Association, says Australia’s production last year was about 20 tonnes. “Maybe we do half a tonne; that may be pushing it – we don’t know,” said Wilkinson. And while Australia is exporting to 43 countries, individual NZ growers are sending only small orders overseas and no-one knows NZ’s export total. Wilkinson says the Truffle Association opted into the Horticultural Export Authority (HEA) system some time ago but small volumes remain exempt from needing export licences. As the HEA website reveals: “Due to the small volumes of exports there are currently no licensed exporters.” Wilkinson said everything is in place for an export industry. “We’re probably getting close to it. The biggest problem we have is people giving us the information that we need, to understand whether we have an industry that would lead to export.” Gavin Hulley of Amuri Truffiere hopes that the association’s annual conference in August will see some moves towards setting up a joint export structure. “There’s been lots of talk about collective marketing. I think it’s definitely the way to go; it’s going to happen. The market is still out there; we’ve just got to get together and make enough to make it viable.” While most growers still treat truffle growing as a sideline, Kings Truffles, at Waipara, is believed to be NZ’s only fully-commercial stand-alone truffle operation. At 40ha, it is also thought to be the biggest. Kings Truffles founder Bill Lee will speak at the August conference, with the message that truffles are a viable industry. “There’s a lot of angst and disillusionment at the moment because they are tricky little buggers to grow.” But he says he is now happy with his operation after “a fair bit of trial and error”. Quality control and certification make export difficult, as does the Australian competition, says Lee. He is concentrating on the value-added market rather than raw, with products including truffle butter and a planned truffle honey. He is selling through outlets in San Francisco and Hong Kong. “Because of the low volumes you’re better to target one or two and serve them properly.” Lee says a joint marketing structure would be the only way to go “further down the track.” Meanwhile, Kings Truffles’ website offers to market on behalf of smaller producers. “Amateurs always think they can do it better for a start, and it’s not until they’ve had the cold hard lick of reality around them that they realise, ‘perhaps I haven’t got the skills to do this’,” says Lee. • Sniffing out new industry - pg 29

THE NEW presidential team leading Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) says the organisation plays an invaluable role educating and up-skilling contractors and promoting their interests. At its annual conference in Masterton last month, the RCNZ board elected Southland contractor David Kean to be its new president and Waikato contrac-

RCNZ’s subcomtor Helen Slattery mittees including as its new vice-preshealth and safety, ident. training and bioseKean has been curity. on the RCNZ board Both are secondsince 2009 and generation contracserved as vice-presitors. In 2003, Kean dent for the past five took over the sheep years. Incoming RCNZ dipping and weed Slattery has president David Kean. been on the board for six years spraying business his father Leo and serves on a number of the started in 1966. In 2016, his two

sons, Jarrod and Nicol, joined him in the business. Helen and her husband Roger Slattery now run the Matamata contracting business that Roger’s father and uncle started in the mid-1950s. The Slatterys also operate a collection service and compacting unit for Plasback, which recycles waste silage film throughout NZ.

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New land ownership regulations causing uncertainty in rural sector PAM TIPA

THE DOOR has not closed on overseas investment in the rural sector but there is uncertainty, says Christina Lefever, of the law firm Duncan Cotterill. But some market positivity is returning as the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has started to release decisions under new ministerial directives, she told Rural News. “There has been a big delay under the OIO in getting decisions under the new directive,” Lefever says. “There was a period of about six months when no decisions were issued.” The OIO decisions

“There has been a big delay under the OIO in getting decisions under the new directive. There was a period of about six months when no decisions were issued.” bring complex issues to be worked through, but farmers with potential overseas buyers should not be put off, she says. They will need to allow more time for a more comprehensive OIO process. Lefever says new tests were introduced by a ministerial directive letter issued by the Government in December. “That increased the

threshold for determining whether there would be a substantial identifiable benefit under the Overseas Investment Act (OIA) if an overseas investor was looking to buy rural land in New Zealand over the 5ha area threshold,” she says. “We were getting indications from various sources that with a lot of those applications the OIO was contacting

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Duncan Cotterill lawyer Christina Lefever.

the applicants and saying ‘we don’t think this will be sufficient to meet the new tests’. And those applicants were therefore withdrawing their applications. “But now there have been some positive consent decisions coming out of the OIO on rural land, which is great to see and already increasing positivity in the market. It confirms the door has not been closed on rural land investment by the new directive letter.” Lefever says threshold tests have definitely increased but, as more decisions go through the OIO, legal advisers and overseas investors will get more clarity as to where those tests now sit. They can adjust their investment strategy accordingly. “The directive has put the focus of applications

onto five specific factors that the ministers identified in their directive letter. They have said that certain factors are now of higher importance when considering an application for consents. “They are increased export receipts, increased jobs, increased processing of primary products, introduction of new technology and business skills and the degree of New Zealand oversight or participation in the investment through some degree of NZ ownership or NZers on the board of directors.” An application showing a substantial increase in at least one of those areas still has a good chance of getting across the line. “But the test of what is a substantial increase has also increased. What was enough 18 months

ago may no longer be sufficient,” says Lefever. “An overseas investor has to show their investment will bring benefit to NZ. That benefit has to be over and above what would be likely to happen if they didn’t buy the property. What is likely to happen? Is the current owner likely to retain it and if so what are they likely to do? Or is it more likely that it would be sold on to a New Zealander and what would they be more likely to do? “So if an alternative purchaser is likely to carry out development or increased production to the same level as an overseas person, they can’t rely on demonstrating a benefit; it has to be over and above.” That can involve a counterfactual test based on a hypothetical purchaser.

It currently takes at least six months to go through OIO processes. This can be an issue with seasonal businesses which want a settlement date at a particular point in the season. “Some vendors might need to engage with potential overseas purchasers in more detail about what their OIA strategy is before they get on contract with them.” They may need an independent assessment. Some professionals in property were concerned that the new directives will impact prices, particularly when there were no decisions coming out of the OIO. “As more decisions are released we can get greater clarity on exactly what will be enough to meet the new test.” @rural_news

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Pros and cons for forestry changes PAM TIPA

CHANGES COMING through from the Government on overseas investment in forestry have pros and cons, says Christina Lefever, a special council with law firm Duncan Cotterill. Forestry cutting rights are being brought under the overseas investment regime but they are making processes more straightforward, Lefever told Rural News. Currently overseas investors wanting to acquire freehold or leasehold interest in forestry land are screened but overseas investment in forestry rights is not. Some changes to simplify forestry investment were made by ministerial directive to the Overseas Invest Office (OIO) in December but most of the changes will be made through the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, she says. The Government has brought forestry rights under the overseas investment regime whereas previously they were excluded, Lefever says. “Forestry rights will be brought under the OIO regime but they are introducing more streamlined tests to make overseas investment more straightforward for overseas buyers,” Lefever says. One of those is the counter-factual test – where the investment is compared with a hypothetical New Zealand purchaser that may or may not exist. “They have eased up the counter-factual test for overseas buyers buying up bare land to plant new forest. Their investment will be compared with the current land use. There will be no requirement to essentially compare their investment against some possibly hypothetical NZ purchaser who might also plant a forest. “For an overseas buyer

who is looking to purchase an existing forest that will look at the current rules on that forestry investment, whether there are supply arrangements in place with NZers, whether there are environmental protections currently in place on specific areas of the land, and whether the overseas investor is willing to commit to retaining all those arrangements; then in itself that will be enough. “There will probably be a requirement to commit to replanting on harvest as well. But over and above that they don’t need to show some benefit above what any other forestry owner might actually do. That can be difficult to demonstrate when you are buying existing trees that will keep on growing regardless of who owns them.” Lefever says the Government’s announcement that the Overseas Investment Act would be amended to cut out red tape is a positive signal to potential investors. Forestry Owners Association president Peter Weir says though he still can’t see the point of including cutting rights in the scope of the OIO, the deepest objection to the working of the OIO seems to have been removed. “We will welcome a more efficient OIO processing system,” Weir says. “Forest Owners said when the Billion Trees in Ten Years Government target was formulated during the coalition negotiations that it would be very difficult to achieve that many trees planted if there were onerous obstacles to overseas investment imposed at the same time. “Our industry as it is will be planting half of the total but to get to the billion trees New Zealand will need a lot of additional land, labour and investment. Investors are very sensitive to market

signals, and quite frankly the Government signals have been mixed over the past few months.”

There are both pros and cons for the forestry sector in proposed changes to overseas investment, according to Duncan Cotterill Law’s Christina Lefever.

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Clouds lift for Blue Sky profit SUDESH KISSUN

BLUE SKY Meats has turned around two years of losses with a $3.7 million net profit. The company attributes the change in fortunes to hard work and commitment. Blue Sky Meats chief executive Todd Grave is delighted with the result, but says a lot of work lies ahead. For the financial year ended March 31, Blue Sky Meats’ revenue rose to $105 million; the company paid a dividend of 5c/share. Last year the company reported a net loss of $1.9m, following a similar loss in 2016. Total revenue for 2018 rose 7%, driven by a new strategic plan implemented 18 months ago and favourable market conditions. Rendering income was the highest it had been in five years, with income per unit up 80% and volume up 50% on last year. Grave says the result helps to bolster confidence and shows what a small Southland company can accomplish.

About Blue Sky BLUE SKY Meats sells New Zealand sheep and lamb cuts in 40 countries. It sells products under two retail brands -Horizon and Star. It’s Morton Mains processing plant in Invercargill can process 30,000 stock units per week and includes boning and cutting rooms that operate 20 hours per day, seven days a week at the peak of the season.

“A big thanks to our farmer-suppliers who have stuck with us, even in some tough conditions, and who continue to give us great feedback about the ease of working with us.” The company is intent on maximising the value of each carcase, raising revenue by $6.9m with minimal extra operating expense and capital spending. “It’s the people at Blue Sky who have made this possible.... They’ve understood why the changes have been made and embraced the plan fully,”

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Blue Sky Meats returned to profit this year after a number of losses.

says Grave. “We know we’ve worked hard to be in this position, made a lot of changes – some of which have not been easy at times, but it shows in where the com-

pany is today compared to last year. “One positive year is never an indicator on how the coming year will go and we’re concentrating on increasing our profitability and resilience.”


Blue Sky Meats is keen to raise profits further and be more resilient to commodity cycles and weather patterns. The company intends to sell its Gore plant, a decision not made lightly; but with the plant not operating since late 2016 and a focus on investment in the Morton Mains plant, the board saw this as the best option financially. Blue Sky Meats chairman Scott O’Donnell is pleased with the company’s result. He says the next step willl be valueadded, differentiated brand positioning to further increase profitability, including reducing the environmental impact of plant. “We already know that being southern New Zealand our pastures are farmed with care and integrity by our suppliers, but... there’s a lot of pressure on our environment,” O’Donnell says. “As a nation and as an industry we need to be looking at ways of taking pressure off the environment while continuing to be profitable and achieving better returns.” Blue Sky Meats will hold its annual meeting in Invercargill on August 2.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Time to restart GM debate? YOUTH RESPONSE CRITICAL


PROFESSOR SCOTT says there are examples globally of countries having massive crop failures, but still rejecting the use of GM which could provide disease free crops and prevent starvation. He believes the hope lies with future generations who are more accepting of new technologies.

Former government chief scientist Sir Peter Gluckman.

restarted. Gluckman says there are no significant ecological or health concerns associated with the advanced used of genetic technologies. But this doesn’t mean NZ would automatically accept these technologies, he says.

A big issue for the primary sector is whether the use of GM would tarnish the NZ brand in key overseas markets. Scott is unaware of much detailed research on this subject but says Fonterra and Zespri have shied away from develop-

ing GM products. Scott acknowledges the issue is difficult. But a lot of firms are putting GM-free on their products and in some cases this is a bit ridiculous, he says. For example, one was saying its beer had been made from GMfree wheat and that was stretching things. Scott says GM will be a problem for the regulators because crops and animals can now be modified in a very minor way, which will essentially be

indistinguishable from techniques that are not regulated. “That is why we need to have a new conversation about GM and get this information out to the public an d try and progress the issue, rather than going back to the old debates of the late 90s.” The last big debate was in 2000 -- a Royal Commission into genetic modification which canvassed a range of views. Once the public hearings

ahead in synthetic biology and can see exciting possibilities, he says. Scott says GM offers possible solutions for major problems facing the ag sector in NZ, such as methane emission and nitrogen leaching. For example, it may be possible to engineer plants that take nitrogen out of the soil and sequester it.

were over and recommendations of the Commission made public, the debate went quiet. While there have been small, ongoing campaigns for and against GM, there has been no major public debate, which is what Scott and Sir Peter Gluckman are advocating. Scott says some local councils have banned GM in their regions, but he finds this annoying because there is national legislation which already regulates how GM trials

can be run. The Royal Commission in 2001 made it clear that people were much less averse to medical applications of GM and that this came down to benefit, Scott explains. People might have cancer and want a cure and will make use of whatever is available. By contrast with food, it seems that people have different values and are much more sensitive about the security of their food, he says. 13035

AN EXPERT on genetic modification says though young people can see the possibilities with the technology, some people are still living in a time warp in regards to it. Massey University professor of molecular genetics Barry Scott, FRS, co-chairs a panel on GE technology for the Royal Society. He told Rural News that GE technology has moved on a lot in the last 40 years and is now more precise. He believes fresh public discussion is needed on the subject of genetic modification. His comments echo those of the recently retired Government chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman, who called for the debate on GM to be

Young kids can see the possibilities of gene editing and that is just one small part of the whole genetic revolution, Scott told Rural News. Give it another 10 years and kids will use an instrument and sample meat and get the DNA sequence of it and put it in their phone and see what it does. They are excited about what’s


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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Synlait lauded for environmental effort PAM TIPA

GLOBAL BUSINESSES are looking to New Zealand for solutions to tough environmental challenges – especially agriculture, says Abbie Reynolds, executive director of the Sustainable Business Council. He heard this at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development conference in Switzerland in April. “By setting big ambitions, and leveraging its innovation mindset, Synlait is one NZ company well positioned to do that,” he says. Synlait’s programme Lead With Pride, launched in 2013, will be key to progress in farm

AMBITIOUS TARGETS SYNLAIT HAS set itself many ambitious targets: • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 35%/kgMS onfarm (-50% nitrous oxide, -30% methane and -30% carbon dioxide) and 50%/kgMS off-farm by 2028 • Reducing water consumption by 20%/kgMS both on- and off-farm by 2028 • Reducing nitrogen loss onfarm by 45%/kgMS by 2028 • Lifting its support for best-practice dairy farming through increased Lead With Pride premium payments, including a 100% PKE-free incentive • No more new coal-fired boilers, and addressing its existing coal infrastructure • Commissioning NZ’s first large-scale electrode boiler in January 2019 to provide process heat for its new dairy liquids plant at Dunsandel • Joining the global push on sustainability by becoming a Certified B Corporation and adopting several of the United Nations sustainable development goals • Setting up a social investment fund to support communities, organisations and initiatives aligned to Synlait’s sustainability goals.

environments and sustainability, says chief executive John Penno. The programme rewards independently certified dairy farmers for best practice in the environment, animal health and

welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. The aim is to reduce GHGs by 35%/kgMS, water consumption by 20%/kgMS and nitrogen loss by 45% by 2028. Synlait will tailor support to



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each dairy farm. David Williams, Synlait’s milk supply manager, says 28% of its farms are already certified best-practice under Lead With Pride and others are working to get certified. The company encourages this by increasing premium payments in the programme, in three tiers: 1. Gold: All dairy farmers meet good practice standards across the four Lead With Pride pillars. 2. Gold|Plus: Dairy farmers meet additional criteria in each pillar, considered best practice, and are independently certified annually. Premiums will increase from $0.06/kgMS to a potential $0.20/kgMS. 3. Gold|Elite: Dairy farmers can graduate from Gold|Plus after 12 months if they meet additional criteria, considered leading practice, and

Outgoing Synlait chief executive John Penno says the company’s ‘lead with pride’ programme will be key to progress in farm environments and sustainability.

independently certified annually. Premiums will increase from $0.12/kgMS to a potential $0.25/kgMS. Williams explains the premiums include an annual incentive of $0.08/kgMS for certified dairy farmers who choose to produce milk that is 100% PKE-free. PKE use indirectly supports clear-felling of native forests in Indonesia, says Williams. “That results in reduced carbon sequestration, degraded soil health, harmed waterways, and dramatically changed biodiversity.” Dr Harry Clark, director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, says the targets set by Synlait are ambitious, but are achievable within the

timeframe set. “We look forward to working with Synlait suppliers to identify opportunities to reduce their emissions and to help monitor progress against the company targets,” says Clark. Synlait’s start-up of its electrode boiler in January 2019 will be a major step towards reducing GHGs by 50% off-farm by 2028, it says. Not building more coal boilers will also contribute, as will looking at the existing coal infrastructure. “We’re making a start now with [the electrode boiler] for our new advanced dairy liquids facility in Dunsandel,” says Neil Betteridge, Synlait’s director of operations. “[This is] breaking new ground. We’ve part-

nered with Orion and Energy Plant Solutions to make it a reality.” Synlait is aiming to become a Certified B Corporation by meeting rigorous global standards of environmental and social performance, accountability and transparency, says Hamish Reid, Synlait director of sustainability and brand. “There are currently 16 Certified B Corporations in NZ, and most are small-medium enterprises. We will be the first large scale, NZX-listed and near-billion dollar revenue business to join this.” A social investment fund will also be set up to support communities, organisations and initiatives aligned to Synlait’s sustainability goals.

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Dairy expertise could spin-off to plant protein PAM TIPA

EXPERTISE FROM the dairy manufacturing industry could be adapted to develop a new plant-based protein industry in New Zealand, says Plant and Food Research. Many of the requirements for isolating and manufacturing plant proteins are similar to those for dairy protein, says the ‘Opportunities for Plant Protein’ report released last month. “Our challenge is to extract and apply the engineering expertise and manufacturing capabilities currently held within our dairy industry to develop new opportunities in plantbased proteins.” Sustainability limits may mean many niche NZ locations better suit plant-based protein production than animal-based protein production, the report says. “Crops that require fewer inputs than dairy or meat should be integrated into crop rotations to reduce

the future environmental impact of NZ’s annual land use cycle and export food production. “To take advantage of the new consumer trends towards plant-based foods and ‘flexitarian’ lifestyles there are significant opportunities for NZ to expand and develop plant-based protein sources.” NZ-grown crops that could be used as protein sources for human consumption include alfalfa (lucerne), barley, beans, canola, hemp, kumara, linseed, white maize, oats, peas, potato, walnut and wheat. Most plant proteins used in the NZ food industry are currently manufactured overseas, the report says. While soy and lupin are the two highest protein producers, they are challenging to grow in NZ because of their GM status and climatic requirements. A challenge for plant protein ingredients isolated from single crops remains their “incomplete” essential amino acid content. Therefore, combinations of protein sources are often

Expertise from dairy manufacturing could be adapted to develop a plant-based protein industry in NZ.

required to deliver a complete diet. This is one area where NZ’s dairy manufacturing expertise could be adapted to develop new opportunities, the report says. There is significant opportunity for plant-based protein foods with higher consumer acceptability, the report says. “Functional plant proteins with nutritional attributes continue to meet specific market needs and avoid becoming commoditised. This pre-

mium positioning suits NZ’s globally niche food manufacturing sector. “NZ has led the thinking on ‘total utilisation’ from the early 1970s when we pioneered the value-add from dairy waste streams by producing whey. “Following this approach, it is timely also to recognise that isolation of proteins from plant sources is most economical when the protein component is one of a number of products isolated during a manufacturing process.


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“Many of the materials that could be used to produce plant proteins are themselves ‘by-products’ or ‘waste streams’ from the production of other food products (e.g. potato and wheat proteins are generally produced as by-products of the isolation of food starches). “Although there are significant challenges to extracting protein from these materials, the sheer volume of waste streams makes them attractive targets for further R&D of foods and bio-based materials.” There is significant international competition and “trade secret” and patented knowledge of production processes. “To establish plant protein production industries in NZ we need to use our research capabilities to establish our own ‘trade secret’ processes and protocols for premium plant-based protein foods. NZ has capability in protein research, materials isolation and engineering and in food product development and sensory science.”


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Strong demand drives positivity South Island Lamb Price and NZ Lamb Slaughter

New Zealand lamb slaughter (YTD-June) providing strong returns on volumes exported for New Zealand exportin May 2016. Despite 18,000,000 ers, with US lamb export the increased volume, receipts surpassing $NZ average export values 15,000,000 40m for the first time. surged to $NZ 10,199 per New Zealand’s domestonne (up 8% on May 12,000,000 tic lamb supplies will 2016). China continues remain tight through the to lead market demand, 9,000,000 remainder of the 2017/18 taking approximately season (30 September), 40% 6,000,000 of New Zealand’s maintaining the normal May exports. The US is level of procurement another market that is 3,000,000

South Island lamb price 800 750 700 650


of June, dropping below 0.68 for the first time since June 2016. A weaker New Zealand dollar has helped to offset softer US imported beef prices, which are starting to trend downwards as supplies of US domestic beef production increase. While the lower $NZ/$US and seasonal decline in cattle supplies will put some upward pressure on prices, Rabobank expects any price increases over the next month to be limited by

THE CONTINUED depreciation of the $NZ/$US, combined with the seasonal reduction in cattle kill numbers, lead to a marginal increase in schedule prices during June. As at the start of July, the North Island bull price is 1% higher MOM, averaging $NZ 5.30/kg cwt, with the South Island bull price up 3% MOM, averaging $NZ 5.05/kg cwt. The $NZ/$US has fallen 3.5% since the start

NZ c/kg cwt


600 550

500 450 Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep 2015/16



NZc/kg cwt

560 540 520 500 480 460 2015/16 Source: NZX AgriHQ, Rabobank 2018



South Island

North Island


Source: NZX AgriHQ, Rabobank 2018




2017/18 volumes shipped up 20% on 2016/17 June-May, but still lag volumes exported in 2015/16

softening US imported beef prices.


THE 2017/18 selling

Source: NZ Meat Board, Rabobank 2018





Wool Exports Show Improvement 0


North Island Bull Price


competition traditionally experienced at this point in the season. Rabobank expects competition for the remaining lamb supply to continue to put some upward pressure on prices.

Mar 2016/17



Jun 2017/18




STRONG GLOBAL demand, in conjunction with local procurement competition for declining supplies, ensured schedule prices continued to lift throughout

June. As of the start of July, the slaughter price in the North Island averaged $NZ 7.85/kg cwt (4% higher MOM), while South Island lamb averaged $NZ 7.70/kg cwt (5% higher MOM). New Zealand exported 35,620 tonnes of lamb in May, up 21%

10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 Jul














Source: Beef & Lamb NZ, 2018

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trays exported

Peru Avocado Exports to Key Asian Markets and World

trays exported

0 2011

2012 China



China / HK

2015 Japan



World (RHS Axis)

Source: UN Comtrade, Rabobank 2018.

risein in both avocado and exports, absolute growth of over 30m export trays have for the period theA significant 20% lift New Zea-production deals they negotiSince 2011,with Peru avo2011-2017. land’s wool exports for cado exports have growth ated. Peru is already an the season to May 2018. from around 15m trays Although a big year-onto over 44m in 2017. This year gain, export volumes is an absolute growth of still trail 2015/16 (Juneover 200%. The main May) shipments by 14. markets remain NetherNZ/US dollar Cross Rate On the other hand, wool lands, Spain, the US and 0.76 finer than 28 micron has the UK. performed strongly and Sales to countries in 0.74 offers for both 27 and 28 Asia have risen signifimicron wool made some cantly, from below 1% in 0.72 strong gains in the later 2011 or 23,000 trays, to 0.70 South Island sales. The 4% in 2017 or 1.8m trays market in Australia was over the same period. 0.68 electric through May. Of particular interest to New Zealand grow0.66 ers, will be how Peru and Horticulture others – such as Chile PERU CONTINUES to and Mexico – pursue new grow its avocado producSource: RBA, Rabobank 2018 markets under free trade tion and export markets.

established exporter to China – a relatively new market for NZ – and has this year begun exports to India, with the first sea freight shipment due to arrive in early July 2018. Peru recently hosted South Korean officials to continue work on satisfying phytosanitary requirements for entry into South Korea. South Korea and other Asian markets are a focus for NZ avocado exporters as part of a diversification

strategy away from Australia, which comes off the back of Australia’s domestic production growth and other Southern Hemisphere producers seeking market access into Australia.

Exchange rate AFTER TREADING ground in May, the $NZ resumed its slide against the $US in June, losing US cents 2.5 during the month. As Americans were toasting 4 July, NZ

NZ Dollar Slides Further in June


season has come to a close, with the coarse crossbred market, while certainly improved from the early months of the season – quite subdued and steady through the final few sales. As eyes now turn to the 2018/19 season, the improving – albeit slowly – Chinese demand for broad wool will be the key driver for the crossbred market. Broker reports have indicated that good types of second shears and coarse crossbred have been selling well, but lesser quality types have struggled across both North and South Island sales. Clearance in June was down on the relatively strong performance in May. However, positively for the 2018/19 outlook, clearance rates in New Zealand have lifted the bales sold at auction some 37% compared with last year, helping to alleviate some of the stock pressure accumulated in the 2016/17 season. Supporting this is












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exporters were celebrating a currency that had fallen below USc 68: its lowest level in two years. In the US, as anticipated, the Fed raised the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.75%2.00%, from 1.50%-1.75% in June – the second rate hike this year. For now, we are sticking with our expectations that there will be one more US rate hike this year (likely September). We are more sanguine about the outlook for the US economy as it pushes into 2019 than many commentators, and for now expect no rate hike in the first half of that year. The case for any increase in central bank rates in NZ is far weaker. • Want to keep up-todate with the latest food & agribusiness insights? Tune into RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness Australia & New Zealand podcast channel.

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Precedent setting? THE RECENT High Court ruling that the Crown was negligent and breached its duty of care to kiwifruit growers affected by the damaging Psa disease a decade ago has huge implications for future biosecurity outbreaks. While the Government has yet to decide if it will appeal the ruling, if it sticks it will be precedent-setting. Growers who joined the class action argued that the former Ministry of Agriculture (now Ministry for Primary Industries) had allowed Te Puke company Kiwi Pollen to import kiwifruit pollen for the first time in April 2007 through to 2010. They argued the officials should have properly analysed the risk from imports, given that kiwifruit pollen had not been brought into New Zealand before and officials had failed to inform the kiwifruit industry about the imports. Justice Jillian Mallon agreed with the complainants and ruled that MAF owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers because it had responsibility for controlling what goods could be imported into NZ. She ruled that MAF had breached its duty of care in its decision on whether to grant import permits for kiwifruit pollen. Justice Mallon also ruled that the claimants had proven on the balance of probability that the consignment of anthers containing pollen was the cause of the outbreak. As Lincoln University senior lecturer in agribusiness Nic Lees says, this means MPI can be liable for its decisions on importation of any product that may have biosecurity risks. “In the past MPI has done risk assessments on importing products, but the risk of a biosecurity failure has rested with the industry not MPI. This fundamentally changes that. Now MPI (and by proxy the government) is legally liable for a biosecurity failure.” The High Court decision is contained in a 500-page document that traverses events dating back 12 years -- pre-dating the establishment of MPI. Interestingly, it also gives the lie to the current Government’s reaction to the ruling -- putting all the blame for the Psa outbreak on the previous administration. The allegedly infected imports first came into NZ in April 2007 during the previous Labour/NZ First government’s watch. However, petty finger-pointing by politicians will soon mean nothing if this court ruling holds because governments of whatever political colour could be confronted with more hefty compensation claims for current and future biosecurity breaches. Precedent setting indeed.


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Bad taste


A MATE of yours truly has questioned the wisdom of the dairy industry-good group DairyNZ promoting the position of the Northland farmer owner of the infamous cow-bashing sharemilker. After the case blew up in the media, DairyNZ issued a press statement, on behalf of the farm owners, expressing dismay at the sharemilker’s actions and saying he’d been stood down from looking after the cows. DairyNZ stressed that the media release it had issued contained only the farm owner’s views. However, as the Hound’s mate points out, by issuing the statement on the farm owner’s behalf, DairyNZ will not be able to divorce itself from fallout should any investigations find them at fault or culpable. Your old mate questions why DairyNZ chose to put itself and the organisation’s reputation in such an invidious position.

CONCERNS ALREADY exist in regional NZ about how wisely the ‘booty’ from the Government’s annual $1 billion provincial growth fund will be spent. The Hound is already highly suspicious of just how good Shane Jones is with our money, especially since he was caught paying for his own hotel porn on the Government credit card a few years back. This nervousness increases with the news that an East Coast banana growing venture is now tapping into the provincial growth fund ‘hoping to capitalise on NZ’s love for bananas’. While bananas might be the most popular fruit in NZ, you’d have to question whether this is the right country to be growing the fruit – unless climate change really picks up its act. So your old mate questions whether giving taxpayers’ money to help develop a banana growing industry centred on Gisborne is just bananas.

THE HOUND is less than impressed by national airline Air NZ’s latest publicity stunt. The company recently got a whole lot of soft and positive media coverage in what a mate of your canine crusader aptly described as ‘virtual-signalling wank’ over serving foreign-owned, GMO, fakemeat burgers on flights from the US. Your old mate agrees with the chief executive at Beef + Lamb NZ, Rod Slater, who challenged Air New Zealand to help promote local meat to the same extent as the US-made fake product. And how did Air NZ get all the good publicity? It flew (business class) a bunch of journalists to the fake-meat headquarters in the US. Imagine the good publicity for NZ and our world-leading red meat industry if the PR gurus at Air NZ paid for a whole lot of journalists to visit NZ farms and see the best, most sustainably-produced beef and lamb on the planet.

YOUR CANINE crusader reckons Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s half-a-million-dollar-ayear white elephant – the Primary Industry Council (PIC) – is not only a huge waste of money but not even an original idea. According to sources, O’Connor has reversed the Aussie trick of stealing NZ icons – pavlova, Phar Lap and Split Enz to name a few – and pilfered the idea for the PIC from across the Tasman. It appears the only difference between the Aussie original set up in 2014 and O’Connor’s notso-cheap imitation is the name: over there it’s called the Agriculture Industry Advisory Group (AIAC). Meanwhile, the Hound hears reports from Australia that the AIAC is nothing but a glorified talkfest that has achieved very little for the primary sector there. Imagine this old mutt’s surprise – not.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


M.bovis weighs down farmer confidence CONCERNS ABOUT the impact of Mycoplasma bovis on the agriculture sector have seen New Zealand farmer confidence decline over the past quarter, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey shows. While farmer confidence remains at net positive levels, the overall reading dropped to +2% in the latest quarter, from +15% in the previous survey. The latest survey, last month, found the number of farmers expecting the rural economy to improve in the next 12 months had fallen slightly to 26% (from 27% last quarter), while the number expecting the rural economy to worsen rose to 24% (from 12%). A total of 46% were expecting similar conditions (down from 59%). NZ rural confidence is now in the balance with the number of farmers expecting conditions to improve closely matched by those expecting conditions to worsen. The run of strong commodity prices across virtually all sectors continues to support onfarm profitability and farmer optimism but, despite the positive broad-based returns, the uncertainty in the operating environment means many farmers are wary of what the next 12 months will bring. A key contributor to farmer uncertainty, and the chief reason for the 13% slide in the farmer confidence net reading, is the impact of Mycoplasma bovis. Of the 24% of farmers expecting the agricultural economy to deteriorate, 78% of these cited M.bovis and the consequences of the eradication process as the key reason for holding this view. Government intervention is the second main reason for farmer pessimism but this was cited much less frequently than in previous quarters. The survey found overall confidence in the broader agricultural economy had been driven

lower by reduced expectations among sheep and beef farmers and horticulturalists. Net confidence dropped sharply among sheep and beef farmers to -6% (down from +11% previously), while among horticulturalists it fell to -9% (down from +34 per cent previously). Dairy farmer confidence remained robust, rising slightly to +14% (from +11% previously), partly on Fonterra’s strong opening forecast of $7/kgMS for the 201819 season. Spirits have been further buoyed by a weak kiwi dollar relative to the USD, helping to underpin favourable farmgate milk prices. For drystock farmers, particularly those reliant on trading or grazing third-party livestock for the dairy sector, the greater pessimism recorded this quarter was driven by uncertainty about how the decision to eradicate M.bovis would impact on their businesses. Many operations will need to revisit their existing business models in the longer term, but short-term uncertainty remains as testing for the disease continues and the ramifications of the disruption across the supply chain continues. The survey found horticulturalists continued to have the most positive outlook about the performance of their own business in the coming 12 months, recording an unchanged net reading of +46%. Dairy farmer net confidence in their own farm business performance rose to +34 % (up from +33%) while sheep and beef farmer net confidence fell to +19% on this measure (down from +37% previously). Despite lower expectations for the performance of their own businesses, farmers’ investment intentions were marginally up on the previous quarter As well as increased investment intentions there had also been a lift in farmers’ perceptions

of their own business viability. Some 76% of surveyed farmers assessed their business as ‘easily viable’ or ‘viable’ this quarter. This is up by 3% on the March 2018 survey and

is the highest percentage recorded since this survey question was introduced in early 2009. This record reading of selfassessed viability comes at a unique time with the lower confidence levels

among farmers indicating that uncertainty in the industry is taking some of the shine off. • Hayley Gourley is Rabobank New Zealand’s general manager for country banking.

Hayley Gourley




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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Zero to hero in agriculture’s chase for carbon neutrality DAVID EVANS

THE CURRENT political climate has increased the emphasis in the media on how New Zealand will meet its international climate change

commitments. The Zero Carbon Bill is the Government’s mechanism for ensuring we do so, with a new 2050 emissions reduction target in the pipeline to ensure we succeed.

Few people in agriculture argue about which of the three proposed options the sector should support. Ignoring methane altogether is a sceptic’s game.

A target which splits the different types of gases (long-lived carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide versus short lived methane) with a view to reducing carbon dioxide to net zero and

stabilising methane is the only ambitiously achievable option that won’t coincide with obliterating the primary sector. The question farmers should be asking is,




















at what level should methane be stabilised? Instead, we are being inundated in the media with alternative commentary arguing that due to the closed cycle of methane we shouldn’t even be including it in our greenhouse gas inventory. While some climate change commentators may believe there are alternative ways to account for our emissions, ultimately unless there is consensus at the international level these alternative metrics cannot be used domestically. New Zealand’s greenhouse gas inventory must conform to the same rules as the rest of the world when recording and reporting our emissions. In NZ this means 48% of our greenhouse gas emissions are allocated to agriculture (the responsible gases are biological methane and nitrous oxide). Science shows that although methane is short-lived in the atmosphere, the warming effect it causes continues for many decades; so stabilising methane emissions below current levels would prevent more contribution to global warming. We are as interested as everyone else in other options for methane accounting, as more

David Evans

science on methane and its warming impacts emerges, but this won’t happen overnight. DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and many other primary sector stakeholders understand that methane must stabilise and are supporting a new 2050 target which proposes this option. Rather than putting our heads in the sand, we all need to get engaged in the Zero Carbon Bill and understand the issues at play. Whether methane should be a consideration is not on the table. How methane is to be treated under this new legislation is. Let’s work together to ensure the final legislation that becomes law is as workable as possible for the rural community. • David Evans is acting chief executive of DairyNZ. @rural_news




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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Can grass-fed Wagyu beef become a new health food? PETER BURKE

A THREE-YEAR research project to try to discover whether grass-fed Wagyu beef has significant health benefits is in its final stages. The project, initiated by the Government, involves Firstlight Farms, which produces the Wagyu beef, AgResearch and Auckland University. The object of the trial, says a Firstlight Farms founder Jason Ross, is to validate their assumptions that grassfed Wagyu beef has more of the good fats than grain-fed beef, with consequent health benefits for consumers. Ross says a healthy diet would contain a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6. Grass-fed Wagyu beef has a higher proportion of Omega 3 than grainreared meat, he says. “The modern diet has a higher

proportion of Omega 6 to Omega 3 because we have more grain or corn in our base diet than we did historically,” Ross told Rural News. “You get Omega 3s from fish and grass-fed meat amongst other things. In grain-fed beef, the ratio of Omega 6 was significantly higher than Omega 3, whereas in the grass-fed Wagyu beef it was almost 1 for 1.” Ross says having found out the composition of Omega 3 in Wagyu, the trial has now entered the final stage of seeing whether the grass-fed Wagyu can benefit human health. “We are targeting the ‘at risk’ group – men aged 50 and older -- in our trial group. Three times a week we are giving them grass-fed Wagyu beef in various forms. We are trying to mimic their diet; so we are not giving them three burgers a week, but rather a steak and burger and other portions of grass-

fed beef. “At the same time, we are giving a similar number of people in the target group grain-fed beef and then taking blood samples to see if there is a difference to their health and, in particular, their cholesterol levels and heart condition.” Ross says this is taking place at the Riddet Institute under strict research conditions. A discovery that Wagyu beef is good for health would be good news. “We wouldn’t have a sticker or claim put on the meat,” he says. “We just want to be reassured that we are doing the right thing.” About 90% of Wagyu beef produced in NZ is exported, mainly to the US and Europe. It is also sold in about 100 NZ supermarkets. Wagyu beef was on show at Fieldays last month with AgResearch run-

AgResearch senior scientist Matthew Barnett serving up Waygu treats to the punters at this year’s National Fieldays.

ning a public cooking demonstration and sampling. Senior scientist Matthew Barnett says their research has shown the health benefits of grass-fed Wagyu beef, in particular the presence of beneficial fats not found in other meats. This is not lost on consumers who “are now much more health aware,”

Barnett says. “And we know consumers in export markets are interested in health and in knowing that the food they eat is good for their health. Firstlight agyu recently won a gold medal at Steak of Origin (retail brand) and another gold in London at the World Steak Challenge.

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Dairy farmers profitable sideline



THE JERSEY-cross beef business at his Whangarei Heads dairy farm is a sideline – but it is a valuable sideline, says Murray Jagger. Last year beef sales – not including bobbies – totalled $155,000 returning back about $30,000 - 40,000, he told the recent Jersey NZ conference in Whangarei. Jagger says they have run a Jersey-Angus cross programme at the 550ha farm on the Whangarei Heads coast for 30 years, assisted initially by his father’s Angus herd. He believes Jersey dairy farmers should pay more attention to breeding and marketing Jersey cross as a valuable sideline for their industry and also to help with the bobby calf issue. A sixth-generation farmer, Jagger had a grandfather who ran a cream/passenger service up the harbour to Whangarei. With amalgamations the farm has grown to milking 650 Jersey cows on 230ha and running a dairy beef operation and support block on the balance. As part of the dairy beef operation they carry about 250 head of Jersey/Angus-cross cattle. “If you hadn’t realised, fat is back…. But it is not just about milk, this about the fat that affects flavour in meat.” He claims Jersey is well placed as a breed for that and Jersey-cross calves need to be treated as part of Jersey dairy farmer’s herd improvement plan. “We need to look at a herd improvement plan that identifies the cows that we don’t want to take replacement calves from and use better quality bulls over them and… have more of a beef focus on them because there is opportunity in that.”

Whangarei Heads-based farmers Murray and Helen Jagger.

Jagger says “we want cows in milk, but we can have both if we focus on the right areas”. His farm makes ease of calving a priority. “It doesn’t matter if it is a living bull or it is an AI bull; calving ease is paramount and a 600day growth rate. “I have just made my selection for bulls this year; we run all AI programme and last year we used short gestation Angus bulls. This year I am not using

them because the EBV figure for birth weight was too high. It was at the upper end of what I was prepared to take so I have reverted back to an Angus beef pack that had a more acceptable birth weight. “So I am quite critical on my birth weight EBVs. “And I want a 600 day growth weight that is pushing that 100kg level. So somewhere from 90-100 is what I am looking for because I have a programme

where I want to grow animals out at two and a half years old and I don’t want something that is not going to grow.” The Jaggers mate the bottom percentage of cows and heifers to easy-calve high-EBV bulls. They select the cows they don’t rear any replacements from and mate them during the mating process using AI. “We mate [most] of our topend heifers for three weeks to AI then the balance go to

Angus. We are focussing on the highest genetic material that we want. We tail off with high EBV bulls.” Jagger says farmers should not be scared to use decent quality beef genetics with calving ease across the bottom end of the herd. He says dairy farmers are terrible for just wanting the cheapest bull they can finish off with. “We have to set our sights a bit higher.”

THE PERCEPTION needs to change of Jersey growth rates and finishing times, says Jagger. “They grow as well as any other animal, the cow has an efficiency in its smaller body size so it is able to be more efficient in what can be stocked. “Its finishing time suits us because we can get our two and half year cattle away before Christmas so we are not carrying through a dry summer and we are not carrying through another winter. “We generally quit one third prior to Christmas, another third straight after. And the last lot go March-April. So we have a good flow in moving the stock on.” Asked about problems with getting smallframed animal up to 300kg weight, Jagger says the first cut of cattle they send to the works about November at two and a half years old are 260 - 290kg. The last ones are 300 - 320kg. But with a smaller animal you can carry more stock. He says the industry needs to reinforce that the Jersey breed enhances the marbling effect. Another customer who buys the second cut of heifers mates them to Wagyu. He sees the advantage of the Jerseycross in adding to the Wagyu programme.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Sniffing out a new industry Winter is the truffle harvesting season for Gavin Hulley and his truffle-hunting dog Sophie, an eight-year-old poodle-spaniel cross. Gavin runs the 2ha Amuri Truffiere at Waikari in North Canterbury, primarily servicing some of Christchurch’s high-end restaurants. RURAL NEWS GROUP


AT UP to $250 retail for a well-shaped 80-90g black perigord truffle, growing the gourmet delicacy has its obvious rewards. But it is also a highrisk business, says Amuri Truffiere’s Gavin Hulley. The truffiere is based on a 2ha hillside plot overlooking the North Canterbury township of Waikari. Run as a joint venture with the landowner and another investor, it was planted out in 1997 as one of the first truffle farms in New Zealand. At that time, says Hulley, there had only been one truffle harvested anywhere outside Europe, at an experimental plot near Gisborne. Now be believes there may be about 200 truffle farmers in the country but not all of them are yet producing. Even among his own 900 trees,

Hulley says about 200 trees have yet to produce a truffle. “We approached it on a semi-commercial, retirement-fund, supplementary-income basis, which hopefully we’re

finally getting there, 20 years down the track,” says Hulley. “But what we know now about truffle growing, compared to what we knew 20 years ago, is huge. When we did

Freshly-harvested truffles at Gavin Hulley’s Amuri Truffiere in North Canterbury. RURAL NEWS GROUP

it there was no manual. We knew the basics but there were a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle. I think I’ve now sorted out the puzzle so all I’ve got to do is manage it.” Hulley’s regular customers include high-end Christchurch restaurants and he sells direct though a website. On the day Rural News visits, he is accompanied by his truffle-sniffing dog Sophie, an eight-year-old poodle-spaniel cross, filling an order for half a kilo to be made into truffle-flavoured salt. The Amuri Truffiere was originally planted in hazel, oak and some evergreen holm oaks. Truffles need alkaline soil but Hulley found that plain oaks were not good at absorbing trace elements at 7.8pH and about


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half of them died. He now recommends holm oaks for Canterbury conditions. Holm oaks are hardy and, unlike the hazels, do not send up suckers or drop drifts of leaves in autumn which need to be cleared away to prevent smothering the truffles. Weeds are first managed with herbicide but truffles eventually kill weeds, particularly

around holm oaks’ shallow roots. Truffles grow on tree roots in a symbiotic relationship, taking carbohydrates from the trees and giving back water and nutrients from the soil. The life cycle starts in late summer or autumn when rain will prompt spores to start growth of the fruiting body. Truffles quickly grow to full size, then spend the next three to three-and-a-half months filling with spores as they mature. In the early season, Hulley walks through the truffiere every two weeks or after rain, looking for immature truffles pushing up through the soil. “It’s a time-consuming but quite pleasant activity, walking in a forest looking at the ground, and it’s quite therapeutic,” he says. He will cover any immature truffles he sees to prevent sun, insect or other damage, and maybe mark the spot with a couple of stones. At that early stage not even Sophie the dog can smell them. When ripe,

the truffles are black and white speckled inside, the black being the spores. Unlike windborne mushroom spores, wild truffles rely on being eaten to spread. Only when the spores are matured do the truffles send out an aroma saying ‘come and eat me,’ Hulley explains. Through the winter harvesting season Sophie and Hulley work in tandem. The dog pinpoints ripening truffles but Hulley gets down on hands and knees, trusting only his own nose to tell when a truffle is truly ready for lifting. The truffiere is dripline irrigated but from a very restricted water supply. It is bouncing back from North Canterbury’s severe three-year drought. In the third year of drought the trees had “basically run out of puff” and last year’s crop was less than half the previous year’s. But only a few weeks into this season, he has already harvested about 80% as much as last year’s entire crop.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Farm in the middle of Auckland wins prestigious beef award JULIET YOUNG

THE FOUR million people who annually visit the idyllic Cornwall Park Farm in central Auckland are now seeing some of the best-farmed livestock in New Zealand, confirmed in the farm’s win in the recent Steak of Origin cuisine competition. Produce from the Simmental cattle won a bronze medal in the steak competition at Fieldays. Cornwall Park came third in the European breeds section; its cattle are bred from Kerrah Simmental at Tangiwai Station, which won the grand prize for the best steak against finalists from around New Zealand.

It’s the first time in 16 years that Simmental steaks have won the grand prize, which usually goes to Angus or Angus-cross. Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Rod Slater says while the Simmental win may have surprised some on the day, the breed has been a consistent finalist and won placings in the European breed section for years. Cornwall Park farm manager Peter Maxwell says the farm switched to Simmental cattle 20 years ago after cows escaped the property a couple of times and ran loose on nearby high-traffic streets. “We had them running around on Greenlane Road and Great South

Visitors walk freely among the Simmental cattle at Auckland’s Cornwall Park Farm.

Road and that became unacceptable.” Those cattle were different breed that had come to Cornwall Park after a quiet start to life

on rural stations. “They were not used to being exposed to so many people and dogs on the loose.” So the farm tried Sim-

mental and found success due to their quiet temperament. “After that it was decided to continue with a quiet line of breed cows.”

Eight years ago they began using Kerrah Simmental from the East Coast, finding them a quieter animal for the public to enjoy and better overall for the herd. “It is a big deal to be able to buy in those bulls. We have measured it and it has lifted the standard of everything we do,” Maxwell says. That includes quieter temperament, improved growth rates, ease of calving, higher meat quality and better polling. Delighted with the award, Maxwell says the temperament of cattle contributes directly toward meat quality. “If an animal is of bad temperament when it is trucked, the meat quality can be negatively

affected, so good temperament helped with the award.” The cattle must be comfortable in the environment and safe for the public. “Every bull we have had has settled in well. They have got used to the situation very well,” Maxwell says. And the visitor experience is enhanced because the cattle adapt well to the hustle and bustle of city life. “We get positive comments every day about the sheep and the cattle. Overseas visitors love seeing the livestock up close, and NZers often say how it brings back memories of when they used to help their father or uncle on the family farm.”


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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Keeping calves M.bovis free M.bovis can lead to serious conditions in cattle and causes animal welfare and productivity issues. Calves can contract M.bovis through direct contact with infected cattle or by



Calves can get M.bovis by drinking contaminated milk.

with NAIT tags and promptly record all movements. Ask your trucker to avoid mixing calves with other cattle in holding

on the farm for the past two seasons. Avoid buying from saleyards because of the cattle mixing that occurs there; buy only calves

yards or on the truck; keep purchased calves isolated from the main group for seven days and monitor them for signs of disease.

Find a buyer now for your future weaned calves, if possible, and tell buyers about efforts to reduce risk of M. bovis exposure.



WHENEVER CALVES leave the farm on a truck, working with your trucker to make their job as easy as possible will help to ensure your calves are treated with care. The position of your bobby calf pick-up point and slink collection point can improve onfarm biosecurity and reduce the risk of exposure to pests, weeds and disease. Use the red, orange, green system to map out zones on your farm. Bobby calf and slink pick-up point should be in the green zone, and the bobby calf and slink truck should remain in the green zone while on farm. Bobby calf rearing facilities are in the orange zone. If you have to load out of the bobby shed then ensure as little cross over as possible between the truck and drivers and the inside of your bobby calf sheds. Ensure all slinks are covered and out of public view. Red: No-go areas for visitors, tankers, livestock trucks, for example, paddocks and heifer rearing sheds. Red zones can only be entered after carrying out visitor biosecurity procedures. Orange: Areas that are accepted to have a mix of cows, farm staff, visitors and equipment, e.g. the milking shed. Green: Areas that have unrestricted access to visitors, their vehicles, tankers and livestock trucks but restricted access by cows, e.g. the milk tanker track and access tracks to houses on the farm.

consuming milk from infected cows. Farmers buying or selling calves or milk can take simple steps to reduce the risk of spreading M.bovis and other diseases. Stock movements are the highest risk for spreading M.bovis. DairyNZ’s advice is to buy from as few sources as possible; deal directly with the source farm or via an agent. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about any M. bovis test results available for the farm, or whether the farm has been subject to M.bovis tracing by MPI. Ask about the stock trading practices of the farm and whether all stock movement records are up to date and recorded in NAIT. Ask about cow and calf health

THE BACTERIAL disease Mycoplasma bovis now infects more than 4o properties in various regions and Biosecurity NZ expects to find more further infected properties.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


New approach on animal welfare SUDESH KISSUN

A NEW Framework for Action on Animal Welfare released last month sets out a better approach, says Associate Agriculture

Minister Meka Whaitiri. She says the new framework, drawn up after eight months of discussions, is “clear, transparent and inclusive”. Whaitiri, the first dedicated minister for

animal welfare, foreshadowed plans for a new way forward at the Animal Welfare Advocate Hui held in South Auckland last month. This event was also attended by the Greens’ Gareth Hughes

and New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson. “New Zealanders take animal welfare very seriously and in response this Government is committed to improving animal welfare outcomes


Government MPs Meka Whaitiri, Gareth Hughes and Mark Patterson at the recent Animal Welfare Advocate Hui held in South Auckland.

in Aotearoa,” Whaitiri says. “This framework for action is the result of eight months of discussions with stakeholders; conversations which signalled it is time for a more open and engaged relationship -- one where Government, industry, farmers, campaign advocates and New Zealanders work together to improve our animal welfare system.” At the hui, some animal rights lobbyists called for a clampdown on the dairy industry. However, Whaitiri says the Government has no plans to ban dairying or push for a reduction in cow numbers. She says the dairy industry is working very hard to improve animal welfare, pointing out the work done on bobby calf treatment onfarm as directed by new regulations.

“There has been a significant reduction in bobby calf mortality rates -- down to 0.06% in 2017, the lowest rate yet recorded,” she says. About 1.77 million bobby calves are sent for slaughter every year. The new framework moots the creation of an independent voice on animal welfare, more inclusive decisionmaking and a stronger, more effectively monitored code of welfare system. “We are also prioritising [better] animal welfare outcomes and developing the skills of those at the [forefront] of this issue,” says Whaitiri. “With modern consumers more discerning, I want these outcomes to contribute to New Zealand keeping its competitive advantage as a safe food producer.” The framework will go to the Cabinet for approval.


9 9 9

Ensure all your NAIT contact details including email are accurate and up-to-date


If you are receiving animals on-farm – create or confirm a receiving movement within 48 hours

9 9

Make sure your NAIT account is consistent with your farm management application account


Register all animals in NAIT within 7 days of tagging or before they move off-farm

Make sure all of the locations you manage where NAIT animals are kept are registered with NAIT If you are sending animals off-farm – create a sending movement within 48 hours, and complete an animal status declaration form (ASD)

Tag and register your animals within 6 months of birth or before moving off-farm, whichever comes first

DO YOU NEED HELP? Go to or call 0800 482 463.

NAIT is an OSPRI programme

THE NEW Framework for Action on Animal Welfare aims to: ■■ Have an independent voice to ensure advice on animal welfare is future-thinking, timely and trusted (looking at a commissioner for animals) ■■ Establish a cross-party animal welfare working group in Parliament ■■ Identify animal welfare information by MPI and make it publicly available ■■ Ensure greater participation of interest groups ■■ Strengthen animal welfare codes ■■ Review the use of animals in entertainment ■■ Keep watch on breeding standards for companion animals ■■ Bring focus back to good animal husbandry ■■ Ensure local government is well placed to meet its responsibilities for animal welfare.

Check out our websites

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Plan for M.bovis failure – expert SUDESH KISSUN

AGRIBUSINESS EXPERT Keith Woodford is warning that the chances of eradicating Mycoplasma bovis are not high. The retired Lincoln University professor told the Federated Farmers dairy conference in Wellington two weeks ago that a contingency plan is needed in case the eradication fails. “It’s incredibly impor-

tant that it’s thought through in advance; if this eradication doesn’t work, how are we going to manage it and who is going to take responsibility for it?” he asked. “Is it the Government’s responsibility or should the industry take control?” Woodford believes the dairy industry won’t be able to control M.bovis in the way it has controlled TB. He also rubbished

claims that the Government’s technical advisory group had recommended eradication. The 10 scientists and experts on the group were divided: four members took the view eradication wasn’t feasible while the remaining six said it was technically feasible. Woodford says the six experts backing eradication “added a whole lot of caveats why it was not practical and why it may

RISK TO OTHER STOCK KEITH WOODFORD told Federated Farmers dairy leaders that Mycoplasma bovis can spread from cattle to other farm animals. He says in a case documented in Austria M.bovis jumped from a cattle herd into pigs and in the following years found its way into a dairy herd grazing in an alpine region. A lesson learned from the M.bovis outbreak was NZ’s lack of awareness: MPI had no programme in place to deal with it. Woodford says the MPI executive in charge of the response team “had to go and google it to see what M.bovis was all about”. “Everyone has been caught out including the veterinary profession.”

Keith Woodford makes a point to Feds president Katie Milne at the conference.

or may not happen”. He also criticised the decision to forward trace M.bovis and not to trace the disease back to its origin. Woodford also asked Federated Farmers dairy leaders whether they had heard of battle fatigue. “This is a 10-year

battle; the decision to go ahead with it was a decision of the Government and the industry groups together.” Woodford questioned whether anyone knows how long M.bovis has been in the country. In late July last year, the Ministry for Primary

Industries announced the detection in a South Canterbury herd of a cattle disease never before seen in New Zealand. The ministry said 14 cows in the herd of 150 had tested positive for M.bovis – a potentially deadly disease that caused mastitis, pneumonia,


It’s important to follow your pre-lamb plan all the way through. From the vital pre-lambing period, through to when lambs exit the farm, a plan with correct vaccination and targeted drenching ensures maximum success with healthier and heavier lambs at weaning. Talk to your animal health advisor or ask in store today. Download your free pre-lamb plan at

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abortions and lameness. But Woodford says three weeks after the first case international experts said this was highly likely to be the first case in NZ. “Right from the start I have been saying to MPI, ‘backtrace, backtrace don’t just forward trace’.” MPI has now backtraced to 2015 but Woodford says the disease may have been present even before that. Woodford knows of one farmer who strongly suspects he had M.bovis on his farm in 2014; heifers raised on the farm have been sold all over the country and bulls used on the farm have moved elsewhere. “MPI knows about this and apart from one conversation with the farmer no one else has come back to the farm.”

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Baby Ram no toddler! MARK DANIEL

The new Ram 1500 was unveiled at Fieldays last month.

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THE RAM 2500 and 3500 utes have a name for big load-carrying and towing capability but come with a hefty price tag. So the arrival of the new Ram 1500 at Fieldays should bring the brand into the scope of the high-end ute buyer, a sector that seems to know no bounds in New Zealand. The new Baby Ram 1500 is obviously nothing of the sort: 6m long, 2m wide and just short of 2m high. It’s powered by a 5.7L V8 Hemi engine pushing out 291Kw and 556Nm torque, mated to a Torque-flite 8-speed automatic; this ‘baby’ can haul up to 4.5 tonnes and is best in its class for power, cab size and cargo space. The new 1500 range is offered in six configurations centred on two trim/cab formats – the Express/Quad Cab or the Laramie/Crew Cab. The Express/Quad seats five – confusing given the title – and looks sportier and aimed at dual-purpose use. Colour-coded grille, bumpers and headlights combine with a load bed of 1939mm long x 1295mm wide between the wheel arches; it carries a standard pallet and has a payload of 912kg. The higher-specification Laramie also has five seats, but the rear cabin offers as much leg space

as the front cabin – over 1m of legroom. Add to this leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats (heated in the rear), a heated steering wheel, touchscreen display and lots of chrome and you’ll get the idea of the Laramie. At the rear, the tray shrinks slightly to 1712mm long and has payload capacity of 885kg. But it retains the 1295mm between the wheel arches. Standard in the whole range are 20-inch wheels, a sprayed-on bed liner, side-steps and fog lights. Safety is via vehicle stability control, brake assist, ABS, traction control, trailer sway control, hill start assist and hill descent control. Also available in the range is a RamBox – clever secure storage lockers built into the sidewalls of the tray and above the wheel arches. Combined storage is reckoned 243L -- in ‘rural Kiwi’ terms 140 drink cans per side. Also in the RamBox format is a clever bedextender frame and divider system that allows loads to be carried safely over the lowered tailgate. All Ram vehicles sold in NZ are switched to right-hand drive at a dedicated facility in Melbourne: the cabs are removed, steering reengineered and a host of RHD required modifications are made, all to factory standards. A three-year/100,000 km warranty applies.

BIOSECURITY TO BOOT HEIGHTENED BIOSECURITY means rural professionals on farm visits must arrive and depart without raising disease risk levels. Exhibited at the Innovation display at Fieldays was the Jacson Cube, a portable all-in-one boot cleaning and disinfecting system that folds to go into a ute or car boot. Jacson3 business partners Rusty Knutson and Jacqui Humm have spent two years developing the idea after Knutson – whose work was collecting calves for export – saw many farmers struggling to prevent rotavirus and cryptosporidium spreading between mobs of animals. Cleaning and disinfecting boots on and off farms was hard to do thoroughly with only a bucket, brush and spray bottle combo. Hence the Jacson Cube for any kind of footwear cleaning and disinfecting. The polypropylene Cube has three main components: body, lid and car-boot tray/footbath, which weighs 10kg empty and 15kg filled with water or disinfectant. It has a rotating brush mounted on an aluminium spindle, in turn attached to a rhino-plastic grating designed to keep debris and contaminants away from the boot. A hand-brush can be used to shift stubborn debris while using the integrated handle in the lid for support. The unit’s spray applicator draws disinfectant from a 3L reservoir and has a spray tip with enough pressure to shift debris. It takes about one minute to set up and a couple more to pack away. A ball-valve trap controls liquid flow and the body of the unit has storage for disinfectant, gloves, wipes and hand sanitiser. For set-up the unit is connected by a 13-15mm hose-tail which directs liquid up to the brush assembly where it cascades over and under the footwear, with the motion causing the brush to rotate. A tray is provided for holding the unit in a car boot; this can double as a footbath if used with an optional integral disinfectant mat. The Cube can operate without a water source by using the integral reservoir. Price $549 + gst.

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Kinder, gentler mowing possible MARK DANIEL

FOR THE 2018-19 grass season Power Farming is introducing a Kverneland 3.2m mounted Mo-Co with rubber-like conditioning rollers, specifically designed for use in fragile crops. The 3332MR joins the 3332MT, a steel tine conditioner for general use, so offering growers a greater choice, says Shane Cox, grass machinery specialist at Power Farming. “It incorporates KV technology, such as the cutter bar and QuattroLink suspension and now the rubber chevron roller format.” Said to be ideal for handling delicate crops such as clover, sorghum and lucerne, roller conditioning provides gentle yet effective handling by effectively cracking stems and abrading the wax coating while still preserving the high-value, nutritious leaves and promoting an even drying pattern. Two 225mm diameter rollers are made from durable polyurethane vul-

canised onto a steel core. The construction guarantees rollers that will not twist out of shape regardless of the force transmitted onto them. Positioned in a staggered layout, with the upper roller ahead of the lower, the full-width chevron pattern directs the crop away from the cutting discs, ensuring cutting quality, while a thinner mat of material also increases roller contact and helps to reduce power requirements. A spring-controlled tensioning system exerts pressure on the two rollers for uniform conditioning regardless of the amount of crop passing through the rollers. Should an obstacle be encountered, roller pressure will be momentarily disabled, allowing obstacles up to 60mm to pass without damage and without having to stop mowing. As the required conditioning intensity varies from field to field, manual adjustment allows fine tuning to suit all conditions. Like the broader 3300 series range of mower

conditioners, the 3332MR has the KV QuattroLink suspension concept. This is designed to provide a high degree of contouring ability and a highly flexible working range. The system allows the mowing unit to float independently over the paddock, adjusting continuously to any changes

in the ground contour. It has a working range of 400mm up and 300mm down, as well as a lateral adaptation range of 30°. In operation, the mowing unit does the work while the carrying arm remains fixed in a horizontal position, with ground pressure easily set from the tractor seat.


Meanwhile, the unit’s automatic, nonstop BreakBack function prevents damage from unseen obstacles. Designed to be used with the 3632FR front-

mounted mower conditioner, the KV 3332 MR

can provide an overall cutting width of up to 6.2m.



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FINNISH TYRE manufacturer Nokia has released a new tractor tyre for heavy machinery in agriculture, forestry and earthmoving. The company says its Nokian Tractor King tyres suit machines operating in severe terrain and road construction. Demands placed on tractor tyres have grown difficult to meet since machine weights, power and road speeds have all increased. However, Nokia says the new tyre is highly durable and able to transfer power to the ground for greater traction. Steel belts, extra cord layers and Aramid-reinforced sidewalls, plus its strong rubber compound, make the tyre extremely resistant to cuts and punctures – particularly handy for forestry, earthmoving and road construction. Unlike many tyres that suffer from vibration problems that tend to worsen with speed and wear, the Traction King is said to offer smooth riding at high speeds and wear resistance. Key features include 50% more tractive edges than conventional patterns. The tyres offer more grip in sandy or sticky clay conditions, with a maximum speed of 65km/h and a load capacity of up to 320kPa. On sale in late 2018 or early 2019, the new tyre range will be available in most popular sizes from 540-65R28 to 710-70R42.


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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Cultivation choices broadened MARK DANIEL

THE NEW Kuhn Performer 3000 (3m working width) extends the existing Performer 4, 5, 6 and 7m tine/disc, deep

cultivator range, allowing cutting, mixing, soil loosening and consolidation in one-pass. The Performer 3000 is also among the first farm machines to get new European road certifica-

tion guaranteeing a road speed of up to 40km/h. The Performer allows the farmer, when time is short, to tackle all types of crop residues, thanks to its ability to use individual or combinations

of its discs, tines or roller assembly -- the latter also being removeable for autumn cultivations. As part of the standard equipment, a new hydraulic non-stop safety tine that can be adjusted

The new Kuhn Optimer XL’s larger discs provide deeper working capacity.

up to 900kg helps penetration in tough conditions, with the benefit of overload protection if any immovable obstacles are encountered, avoiding any slippage even in difficult conditions. At the rear of the machine, a choice of two roller assemblies sees the HD-Liner 700 roller designed for consolidation deeper into the soil profile, or a new U-double roller that has a lighter firming effect, but still maintains a high degree of soil crumbling. Elsewhere in its range, Kuhn has added to the 3m - 7.5m wide Optimer + range with 510mm diameter discs. It has introduced the Optimer XL 100 and 1000 series with larger, 620mm diameter

discs, said to provide a 5 - 15cm deeper working capacity. It achieves excellent penetration thanks to an independent elastomer safety device and wide flange; soil slippage is avoided, suiting the machine to all soil conditions. Meanwhile, a single disc on each support arm offers greater underframe clearance that in turn helps to reduce blockages. Available in 3, 3.5 and 4m mounted and 4 and 5m trailed versions, the new Optimer XL range suits tractors from 100 300hp. A wide range of rollers, including the new U double roller, allows adaptation to all types of terrain, with hydraulic adjustment from the cab.


Drop into an ITM store today. Get a quote for that shed and turn your idea into a reality. | 0800 FOR ITM

TWO NEW products added to the hum on the Rurtec stand at Fieldays last month. In fact, the Lanati cordless handpiece was such a hit that all stock sold out and the product is now on back order, says Rurtec founder Ian Carr. The handpiece is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, making jobs quick and easy. “Convenience is the key for knocking dags off sheep in the yards before loading them for transport or prior to running them into the shed for shearing,” he says. “There was positive reaction to the Lanati, to the point where we’ve had to organise another shipment to keep ahead of orders.” Carr says the handpiece is also handy to have in a ute or on a bike for use in the backblocks. “It’s great for quickly cleaning up flystruck sheep.” Dairy farmers also liked it, many buying it for tail trimming. Frank Fransen and his son Tim were amazed how quick and easy tail trimming can be, with little chance of cutting into the skin. Also new at Fieldays was Rurtec’s new Adlam harness, which combines the prolapse functionality of the Bearin harness with restraint as enabled by the Adopta harness.

RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Disco mowers have all the moves

Headers updated


NEW CLAAS Disco Move 3600 and 3200 mowers, with mowing widths of 3.4 and 3m respectively, are designed for 1m of vertical travel and 30 degrees lateral movement, allowing efficiency and safety in rough paddocks. And a highly manoeuvrable headstock allows the mower to move independently of the tractor front linkage. Likely to appeal to contractors, the Move has 600mm of travel upwards and 400mm down, making it ideal for uneven fields; and it can pivot up to 30 degrees laterally to better follow contours or swing backwards to avoid obstacles. The headstock includes several proven features found on existing Disco models, including Active Float integrated hydraulic suspension and the low pivot point from the Profil range.

Active Float eliminates the need for suspension spring coupling points on the tractor and suspension pressure can be adjusted during operation using a singleacting hydraulic service. Coupled directly to the tractor front linkage or by using an a-frame, the front linkage remains fixed during operation, with the mower raised and lowered by integrated hydraulics.

Convenient Kennfixx hydraulic couplings are fitted as standard on the left or right-hand side of the headstock to suit the tractor, and the suspension pressure gauge can be mounted similarly for optimum visibility. The Disco Move 3600 and 3200 units can be configured as mower only with a tine conditioner, or as a roller conditioner.

JOHN DEERE has announced several updates to its S-series headers for 2019, to improve performance, ride quality and small grain harvesting efficiency. The additions include a new suspension track system, flex draper header and harvest-specific enhancements to the MyOperations mobile app. Model year 2019 S-series headers can be optioned with a factoryinstalled suspension track system in 24, 30 or 36-inch belt widths. The redesigned JD track system incorporates changes to the track belts, integrated final drive, suspension cylinder and tandem bogie wheels that work together to improve floatation, ride quality, transport speed and durability. The new track system has a unique tread design with wider and taller tread bars angled to improve traction, balance and ride comfort while extending tread life. Unlike previous systems, headers equipped with the new track systems can travel up to nearly 40km/h. In addition, the 700FD HydraFlex Draper has a dual V-guide belt and

thicker, corrugated front edge for improved crop flow and four times longer belt life. A dual-position 16 and 18-inch centre-feed drum will give greater harvesting versatility and processing of bushy crops like canola. This also includes an 18-inch top crop auger for smooth feeding and fewer plugs under tough conditions. To improve ground sensing on uneven terrain – and to automatically adjust header position accordingly – Deere has added a fourth sensor to the automatic header height control option on 35, 40 and 45-foot header attachments. – Mark Daniel

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Zoonoses prone should raise their hygiene game WHILST NEW Zealand’s rural and lifestyle communities seem to have a better awareness of the “physical” safety issues of farm equipment, PTO shafts and ATVs, in many cases other, “more invisible” safety issues can be overlooked. A point in case is the zoonosesinfections that can pass naturally from animals to people, so easily contracted by those who work as dairy farmers, shearers and veterinarians. These include a host of infections with familiar names such as leptospirosis, cryptosporidiosis, campylobacter, salmonella and ringworm. Well known in New Zealand, Lepto, despite many years of vaccinations, is still found in around 30% of the nation’s dairy herd that pass the infection in their urine. Indeed, the problem has a larger incidence than many other countries, with about 100 reported cases each year, but a likelihood that between 4000 and 5000 cases go unreported. Initial symptoms are said to be flulike, but can also manifest as tiredness, severe, persistent headaches, high temperatures or chills, sweating, muscle or abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. Whilst levels of infection can be variable, symptoms can develop rapidly, and in some instances lead to permanent complications such as renal failure. Those severely affected might require two months away from work but can take up to twelve months to regain pre-infection energy levels. Easily transferred via animal urine, particularly through cuts, scratches or grazes, via the mucous membranes of the eyes, the nose and mouth, it follows that those working with stock are at risk. Infections can eventuate from a fine spray of urine, urine-contaminated water in clean down areas of cow-sheds or stockyards, urinesoaked wool, and out on the farm from contaminated rivers, lakes, and floodprone areas.

Although cows, and to some extent sheep, are often seen as the main ‘carriers’, but rats and mice are also important primary hosts, alongside mammals including dogs, deer, rabbits, and hedgehogs who are able to carry and transmit the disease as secondary hosts. Dogs in particular, may lick the urine of an infected animal off grass or soil, or drink from an infected puddle. Habitats most likely to carry the bacteria are muddy riverbanks, ditches, gullies, or muddy areas where there is regular passage of either wild or farm mammals. Interestingly, there is a direct correlation between the amount of rainfall and the incidence of leptospirosis. Best management practise, besides vaccinating at-risk animals and controlling rodents should centre around good personal hygiene always, using equipment such as face masks, waterproof gloves and boots, alongside raising overall awareness of everyone on the farm, and understanding how to manage that risk. The culture on the farm should see ready access to running water, soap, and a drying method such as disposable paper towels, followed by a good hand sanitiser or disinfectant- the days of a bucket and water and a cake of soap at calving, just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. On the farm, workers should dry off urine splashes immediately, wash with soap and water, while any cuts and grazes should be washed thoroughly, then dried and disinfected. Likewise, it is critical that any splashes to the mouth, eyes, exposed skin and facial hair should be cleaned quickly and completely. Persons who are “splashed” should inform their supervisors, with the event being noted in the farm incident register. Those experiencing symptoms, should see a doctor at the earliest convenience, to allow testing and treatment, while also informing

Contrast the protective clothing and equipment being used at a typical meat works, for personal and end-product hygiene, with that in a typical dairy shed where aprons are used to keep the torso of the operator dry, but hugely deficient in protecting against urine splashes

the physician that “Lepto” is suspected. At the same time, if the infection is confirmed as being contracted in the workplace, the incident should

be reported to WorkSafe NZ. As we move into the calving season, and a working day that is time-poor, it is vital that hygiene is not overlooked,

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RURAL NEWS // JULY 17, 2018


Flexiskin Max - we reckon it’s pretty good! In fact we haven’t had a single complaint about it in the 2 years weve been selling it. That’s why we supply one of the country’s largest horticultural operations (over 600 staff). It’s great in the dairy shed too. A similar quality jacket will cost you around *$230 in your rural supply store. So why not save yourself $174? That’s a lot of beer money, especially if you have staff. Also our garments are extremely comfortable! PHONE 9am-5pm

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IT HAPPENS MORE OFTEN THAN YOU’D THINK. At FMG, we’ve been looking after rural people for over 100 years now. So we’ve become really good at recommending the kind of cover that looks after the most important piece of equipment on the farm – you. It’s the sort of advice that really makes a difference in the country. If you’d like to know more about it, go to Or better still, call us directly on 0800 366 466.

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Rural News 17 July 2018  

Rural News 17 July 2018

Rural News 17 July 2018  

Rural News 17 July 2018