Week in Review

In Aotearoa, the deer industry is reporting that demand for New Zealand venison will likely exceed supply this year, resulting in firm or slightly higher farmgate prices for producers. Exporters are reporting strong international demand, and processors suggesting they may struggle to keep up with demand as supply levels remain lower following last year's heavy hind kill. Velvetleaf has been detected on two maize farms in the Waikato. One of the world's most invasive weeds, if left uncontained, can outcompete arable crops and significantly reduce their yield. The last velvetleaf outbreak was in 2019, authorities are working to manage the risk of the weed spreading further by tracing machinery and crop movement. The finalists for the Ahuwhenua Trophy, the award celebrating excellence in Māori farming and horticulture, have hosted their on-farm field days to showcase their dairy operations, with both events attracting over 250 attendees each. The finalists this year are Wairarapa Moana Incorporation, based at Mangakino in the Central North Island, and the Whakatohea Māori Trust Board based near Opotiki. The winner of the trophy will be announced in May. Meanwhile, the annual Christchurch Agricultural Show, which has been running since 1863, has been cancelled this year due to financial constraints. The livestock judging and competitions will still take place this year without public attendance, as was the case in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

In international news, in the Australian state of Queensland, farmers will give evidence at an inquiry into supermarket pricing. The hearing will be held in person in Bundaberg as a closed hearing, to give farmers the opportunity to speak freely about allegations of supermarket profit distributions and price gouging. Cleanfarms, a Canadian not-for-profit group that focuses on sustainability related agriculture initiatives, will host a panel to discuss establishing a circular economy for agricultural plastics in Canada. The panel is being held in collaboration with Canada’s Plastic Action Zone. Meanwhile, Greece will become the first European country to ban bottom trawling in marine protected areas by 2030. Bottom trawling involves dragging heavy fishing nets across the ocean floor and can destroy habitats. The ban will be enforced in three national marine parks by 2026. German supermarket chain, Rewe, has opened its first fully vegan supermarket in Berlin. Last year, a survey commissioned by Rewe revealed that 58% of their customers have purchased vegan products. The store, “Rewe Fully Plant-Based” aims to showcase the large and varied selection of vegan products by selling over 2,700 products from more than 300 brands.

Spotlight Stories

Innovation Spotlight:

a shoe cobbler working with a sheet of leather

Plastic-free vegan leather that dyes itself grown from bacteria [3 April, Science Daily]

Researchers from Imperial College London have successfully modified bacteria to grow leather that is free of animal products and plastics, with an added feature of self-dyeing. Microbes have already been utilised by researchers and companies to produce sustainable textiles and dyes, but this is the first time a material can be grown and develop its own pigment at the same time. In collaborating with designers, the researchers were able to grow the upper part of a shoe, taking 14 days to grow the material, and another two days of gentle shaking at 30°C to trigger a self-dyeing process, turning it black. Using blue light and genes from other microbes, researchers can also engineer bacteria in the material to produce other colours that can either be a pattern or a logo. The whole process takes only a fraction of the time required to farm cows for leather, and unlike plastic-based leather, it does not use petrochemicals and is biodegradable.  Original full article here

Tags: sustainability; microbes; innovation, leather

Emissions Spotlight:

an image of ryegrass

BioLumic gets funds to fatten up ryegrass [18 April, Farmers Weekly]

BioLumic, an agricultural biotech company, has secured funding of $5 million from AgriZeroNZ (the investment fund focused on reducing pasture-based agricultural emissions) to develop a ryegrass that is highly productive and can lower emissions, using ultraviolet light to regulate the plant's genetic expression. BioLumic’s goal is to apply their technology to ryegrass, amplifying its fat content by 2-3%, thereby reducing methane emissions by 12% from the animals that consume it. Studies reveal that an increase of 1% in the fat (lipids) content of feed, reduce methane emissions by around 5%. Original full article here

Tags: pasture; low emissions; methane; genetic expression; genetic manipulation

Headline Stories

a form being signed for approval

EPA delays hamstring NZ tech uptake [19 April, Farmers Weekly]

A recent independent report on the performance of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has shown the approval process for agrichemicals is taking almost three times longer than it did ten years ago. Despite stable demand in the last ten years for new product applications, the rate of approval has declined from 47% of all decisions in 2013 to just 13% in 2023. The report also showed that the EPA is underfunded compared to its international counterparts. The EPA will not get additional funding in this year’s budget, but a proposed approach from the agrichemical sector to mitigate this is the "rule of 2" which would simplify the process of approving new products if two major overseas countries have already authorised its release in their respective markets. Original full article here

Tags: agrichemicals; regulation

a grocery shelf with food

Nestlé rejects proposal to cut reliance on unhealthy products [19 April, ESG Dive]

A proposal from Nestlé shareholders to change the company’s portfolio strategy has been voted down by a large majority (88%). A small group of shareholders had submitted the proposal through ShareAction, a responsible investment NGO, to reduce the company’s reliance on unhealthy products, set targets to increase sales of healthier products, and thereby improve the company’s impact on public health. However, Nestlé responded to ShareAction’s assessment of its portfolio, arguing that consumers can enjoy indulgent products through moderation, such a move would dilute other parts of their portfolio and also could give competitors opportunities without actually improving public health benefits. Original full article here

Tags: AGM; ESG impacts; healthy food products

workers in a meat processing line

Beef Carbon Reduction scheme opens today for NI farmers [15 April, Farming UK]

The Beef Carbon Reduction scheme (BCR) has opened in Northern Ireland. The scheme is a payment support initiative to motivate farmers to decrease the slaughter age of cattle as a means of enhancing the beef sector and mitigating livestock emissions. Over a four-year period BCR will compensate a progressive slaughter age reduction each year. In January, February, and March of this year, eligible animals that are slaughtered will receive payments of £20, £40, and £60 (NZ $42, $84 and $126) respectively. Furthermore, each eligible animal slaughtered under this scheme will entitle farmers to receive funding of £75 (NZ $157). From 2024 onwards, businesses would only need to opt into the scheme once, after which they will receive an annual BCR payment if they meet eligibility conditions each year. There will be no penalties incurred by farm businesses if they choose to opt-in, but do not possess any eligible animals during that specific scheme year. Original full article here

Tags: carbon reduction; payment scheme; beef

Get in touch


Audit – Auckland
Ian Proudfoot
09 367 5882
Agri-Food – Auckland
Andrew Watene

09 367 5969
Management Consulting – Wellington
Justine Fitzmaurice
04 816 4845
Private Enterprise – Hamilton
Hamish McDonald 

07 858 6519
Farm Enterprise – South Island
Brent Love

03 683 1871
Agri-Food - South Island
Paulette Elliott
+64 2788 61744