Tag Archives: farmers

NEW ZEALAND – South Island Dairy Event – Challenging The Future – June 24, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – There’s no doubt this year’s been a positive one for most in the dairy industry, but there is a lot on the horizon for farmers to keep their eye on. Helping them to see the bigger picture will be presentations and discussion at this year’s South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference on June 27 to 29 at Lincoln University near Christchurch.

The “Challenge your future” theme of SIDE will cover many of the concerns facing the industry now and into the future. Organising committee chair Simon Mackle said it will be the ideal place to bring some of those issues forward for discussion, and he’s hoping for a big farmer turnout this year.

Some of those challenges farmers need to be aware of are external political and economic influences, and sustainability in resources like people, as well as environmental sustainability including climate change.

“As an industry, and as individual farmers, we have to be increasingly aware of the environmental impact of farming, and what we have to do to still have our families farming in 50 year’s time. At the same we have be conscious of meeting the consumers needs and public expectations. What we do to attract and retain new generations into the industry also needs to be aired.

“Many of the global economic fluctuations are things we can’t change, but being aware of the climate we operate in and what’s going on beyond the farm gate helps each of us with long-term decision making.”

Having speakers and discussion forums to address just some of those concerns assists to understand the issue better, hear new ideas, focus the thinking, and make better-informed choices. “If we don’t talk about these things and plan our own future we lose control of our own direction.”

But as well as looking at what is facing the industry, challenging your future is also looking at what individual farmers can do to challenge themselves.

“So it’s the perfect opportunity for all farmers to take some time out, assess what we’re doing well, where there’s room for improvement and what we need to do next. And as well as stimulating the brain, farmers tell us it’s a great chance to chat with people and have a good time.”

“We’re also looking forward to having the event at Lincoln, something that will help the Christchurch area economically,” Mr Mackle added.

As always, SIDE has secured top speakers, this year including All Blacks coach Graham Henry talking about high performance leadership and Finance Minister Bill English on the importance of dairying to the New Zealand economy. Other keynote speakers address sustainability, climate change, and world macroeconomic conditions and trends, while a panel discussion looks at how South Island dairy growth can be sustainably managed.

SIDE Workshops have traditionally been popular, but new this year are some with a longer format and extended presentations prior to open discussion. Thirty-one topics across five workshop sessions over three days range from career progression to employment law and understanding financial statements, to wet weather management and OAD milking and low cost grazing systems.

Information presented at Business SIDE 2011 is pitched at owners, sharemilkers and equity partners looking to improve the governance, strategy and risk management of their businesses.

More than 400 registrations have already been received for this year’s event, and organisers are encouraging farmers to register promptly and avoid disappointment, as venue capacity will limit numbers.

SIDE 2011 is on 27-29 June 2011 at Lincoln University, Christchurch.

Full registration is $290 (including GST) with a discounted rate of $265 if more than one registration is received at the same time from the same farm. Business SIDE is an additional $100 with a full registration.

A copy of the programme and registration form can be downloaded from http://www.side.org.nz

Information TheDairySite

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CHINA – China Dairy Has Lowest Quality Standards – June 20, 2011

CHINA – China’s dairy industry has the lowest quality standards in the world and much of the blame is down to the large companies that dominate it and the rock-bottom prices they pay farmers for raw milk, industry experts told China Daily.

“Milk processors and farmers all know that the problems of low protein content and high bacteria counts in milk are easy to solve with money but they have instead reduced investment because of the low profit margins,” said Wang Dingmian, the former vice-chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association.

Mr Dingmian told China Daily on Sunday that, if cows are fed enough, the protein content of the milk they produce would rise within a week. He said dairy farmers have instead reduced the amount of feed they give their animals because of the low price they get from the big dairy companies for the milk they produce.

The high bacteria count in milk is also caused by insufficient capital investment.

“The prolonged duration and high temperature during milk processing has caused the multiplication of bacteria in the milk,” he said.

China relaxed its national milk quality standards in 2010, increasing the maximum limit of bacteria acceptable in raw milk from 500,000 per milliliter to 2 million per milliliter and lowering the minimum requirement for protein content from 2.95 grams per 100 grams of milk to 2.80 grams.

Statistics show that international standards for protein content call for 3 grams per 100 grams of milk. The acceptable amount of bacteria in raw milk in Europe is 100,000 per milliliter.

“The revised standards for raw milk, normal-temperatured milk and pasteurized milk were drafted by two Chinese dairy giants – Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd and Yili Industrial Group,” Mr Dingmian said.

Food safety experts claimed the dairy giants helped ensure there were looser standards in place because some of their branch plants could not meet higher standards.

“It’s common that branches don’t keep up with the standards of the parent company,” said Sang Liwei, a food-safety lawyer and the China representative of the NGO Global Food Safety Forum.

In April, 251 children at Yuhe township primary school in Yulin, Shaanxi province, fell ill after drinking school milk manufactured by one of Mengniu’s local plants in the province. Test results released later said the milk met China’s national standards.

“This shows the national standards for milk quality are imperfect,” Mr Liwei said.

“A lot of bacteria in milk may mean microbiological problems occur more easily,” Mr Liwei said. “If companies handling the milk do not strictly follow procedures for the storage and transportation of the milk, there will be food safety incidents.”

Mr Dingmian suggested that a flexible policy be brought in under which high prices are paid to farmers for high-quality milk, so farmers are motivated to ensure their farms produce better quality raw milk.

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

NEW ZEALAND – Mowing In Rain Controls California Thistle – June 06, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – For years farmers have had anecdotal evidence that mowing pasture in the rain helps to reduce the abundance of Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense), which is the most destructive pastoral weed in New Zealand. Now, research has provided quantitative evidence to show that mowing in the rain really works, as well as uncovering a potential biological basis for the effect.

This work which is the latest product of twenty years of collaborative research on weed control methods by a team of scientists from the Crown Research Institutes AgResearch and Landcare Research, the Bio-Protection Research Centre, industry organisations and community groups will feature at the AgResearch exhibit at the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek on 15-18 June 2011.

Project leader Dr Graeme Bourdôt, Senior Scientist at AgResearch Lincoln, says the finding emerged from a national survey of diseases found on Californian thistle, funded by Meat and Wool NZ (now Beef + Lamb NZ). The team collected samples from hundreds of farms throughout New Zealand and found several pathogens of particular interest.

One of these, the vascular wilt fungus Verticillium dahliae, a pathogen that causes diseases in many crops, was common on the thistle in this survey. The fungus produces spores inside the thistle that are released by mowing, dispersed by splashing rain and then gain entry into other thistle plants through wounds.

The team thought that the spread of the fungus by splashing rain and wet mower blades could be the explanation for the mowing in the rain phenomenon.

To investigate, Beef + Lamb NZ funded an experiment on twelve farms throughout New Zealand over two years. The experiment showed that mowing in the rain produced a 30 per cent reduction in the ground cover of thistle in the spring compared to mowing in dry conditions.

The team also sampled for the wilt fungus, but found no correlation between its abundance and the mowing effect. It may be that more samples were needed to show the effect, or it is possible that a combination of pathogens contributes to the effect, or even that it is caused by a different pathogen altogether.

For now, the biological basis of the mowing in the rain effect remains unproven. However, the research does show conclusively that mowing in the rain works to reduce Californian thistle abundance. As Dr Bourdôt says: “It is a simple technique that farmers can use right now at little cost.”

The team’s next step is to apply the fungus to some plots and not to others, and then mow the paddocks in the rain and in the dry. If the fungus is found to be the reason behind the mowing in the rain effect, it could potentially be formulated and marketed as a biological herbicide that farmers would apply when they mow paddocks in the rain to increase the effect.

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

AUSTRALIA – UK Dairy Expert To Meet NSW Farmers – May 17, 2011

AUSTRALIA – A dairy expert from the UK will tour dairy farms across New South Wales (NSW) to speak with farmers worried about the future impact of Coles’ decision to cut the price of milk.

Mr Begg has 40 years of experience in the UK dairy industry, which experienced its own milk price war three years ago.

NSW Farmers’ Association Dairy Committee member, Terry Toohey, commented that the aim of Mr Begg’s visit is to help the Association provide further details to the Senate Committee looking into Australian milk prices.

He continues: “We have gone one step further, inviting Mr Begg to Australia to meet with dairy farmers first-hand to see if the UK experience is being mimicked here”.

“The Committee has delayed the release of its final report to October, noting that there may be parallels with the UK experience”, Mr Toohey said.

Mr Begg’s observations will help the Association urge the Senate Committee to focus on the long-term sustainability of the dairy industry in delivering its final report.

A number of public forums have been set up to allow dairy farmers to meet with Mr Begg. Media are also invited to attend.

For more information see www.nswfarmers.org or contact Olivia Suzanski (Media Adviser) 0429 990 21

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

NEW ZEALAND – Sustainable Farming Fund Grants Announced – May 09, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) has approved funding for 71 new grants totalling $9.5 million over three years to support grass roots action by farmers, growers and foresters.

New grants are spread geographically across the country and focus on issues ranging from new pest management tools, organic production, improving nutrient management, promoting pastoral persistence, improving water use efficiency and eliminating quarantine pests to the introduction of biological controls and the investigation of non-chemical controls.

The Fund was set up in 2000 to fund projects that contribute to the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of New Zealand’s land-based primary industries. To date the SFF has supported nearly 700 projects involving all sectors and interests.

This funding has been matched in cash and in-kind by industry, community groups and individuals. Each year the fund is heavily oversubscribed and only the top applications are funded.

MAF’s Director of Natural Resources Mike Jebson says the SFF partners with all of New Zealand’s land-based primary industries and continues to be driven by strong collaboration.

“All projects receiving government funding are underpinned by significant contribution from the industry, community groups and individuals.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) continues to be driven by strong communities of interest. It has a keen focus on environmental sustainability and plays a crucial role in attempting to plug a gap in transferring knowledge and technology to our farmers, growers and foresters throughout the country.

Find out more about successful SFF Fund Projects at http://www.maf.govt.nz/agriculture/funding-programmes/sustainable-farming-fund

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NEW ZEALAND – National Policy Statement Threatens Farming – April 26, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – Farmers on the east coast of the North Island, only just recovering from several seasons of drought, could be dealt a crippling blow if a planned Government policy on managing biodiversity goes ahead unchanged.

“Farmers care about biodiversity but what we’re up against is poor policy making that makes the importance of farm pasture a distant second to regenerating native scrubland,” says Hamish Cave, Federated Farmers Gisborne-Wairoa provincial president.

“The Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) proposed national policy statement (NPS) on managing native biodiversity sounds innocent enough, but it would force councils to introduce rules limiting our ability to clear regenerating scrubland.

“I’m not being melodramatic, but this could shut down farming not just on the East Coast but in other parts of New Zealand.

“Someone has not thought through this very well. We need to clear regenerating scrubland from pasture because that’s what our stock feed upon and it’s our stock that helps pay for the likes of healthcare and education.

“The flow on effect to support businesses could be significant over time, leading to further depopulation of rural towns much like Wairoa.

“While we hear about supporting an export led recovery from one part of Government, another part seems hell-bent on shutting down farming.

“Late last week, 90 farmers met in Wairoa to discuss this NPS as they were worried. This follows on from a similar meeting in Taranaki earlier that week, where, I understand, 70 farmers expressed the same concerns.

“Farmers care about protecting quality native vegetation but quality and not quantity is the key word here.

“Federated Farmers was a driving force behind the QEII National Trust’s formation 34 years ago. That now has more than 111,000 hectares voluntarily protected – not far off Egmont and Tongariro National Park’s combined.

“Policy makers have to understand that farms, just like cities, are modified working landscapes. We must balance protection with productive sustainable farming and on the east coast, this means farmers having to manage regenerating manuka and kanuka.

“It’s time MfE officials put on their gumboots and talked to farmers about what will work and what won’t. It’s also time we get due recognition for being the front line fighting weed and animal pests that provides real benefits to our native fauna and flora.

“Gisborne-Wairoa farmers have given me a strong mandate to oppose this NPS and we’ll be taking this mandate direct to Government,” Mr Cave concluded.

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NEW ZEALAND – New Tools To Help Dairy Farmers Budget – April 19, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – DairyNZ has told farmers that it is not too late to start on next season’s farm budget and it has launched several online tools to make the farm budgeting process easier.

DairyNZ Development Team Leader – People & Business, Geoff Taylor, said many dairy farmers have used the new tools over the past few months and have found them very useful.

“We have developed some great templates that take a farmer through the step-by-step process of developing an annual cash budget, monthly cashflow budget, personal budget and more. Plus, we’ve put together guides that teach farmers how to develop these budgets.

“We’ve used these new templates during our recent series of Cashflow Budgeting Workshops, held throughout the country during February, March and April. Hundreds of dairy farmers have found these tools extremely helpful and they are now available on our website,” said Mr Taylor.

Dairy farmers can download the new budgeting templates and guides for free at: http://www.dairynz.co.nz/budgets.

DairyBase Manager Dr Adam Barker says he has seen the power of the budgeting process multiplied for those farmers who are also using DairyBase.

“Budgeting is a critical process for any successful business. Putting together a budget allows you to take control of all your spending decisions.

“However, where we’re seeing dairy farmers gain even better results is when they use their budget and their DairyBase reports hand-in-hand to make business decisions on farm.

“For instance, farmers are using DairyBase to benchmark farm working expenses. They can determine if their expenses are above or below the average on other farms, and then make decisions to change based on their individual farm business goals,” said Dr Barker.

DairyBase is a tool that helps farmers analyse the resources they have, the way they are using them and, by way of benchmarking, compares their use of resources with other farm businesses.

Information TheCattleSite News Desk