Rural round-up

September 20, 2014

New products to help meet regulations:

Agri-companies are under pressure to come up with innovative new products to assist dairy farmers as they struggle to comply with tough new environmental regulations.

For example, if a farmer fails a water quality test, they face stringent conditions such as wash down before and after every milking, as well as increasing fines.

At present, the most popular method of treating water is to run it through an UltraViolet lamp, but this can sometimes cause problems if it is not cleaned regularly. . .

Kick start your career with Balance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is calling for applications to its 2015 agricultural and process engineering scholarship programme.

Specialist skills in the areas of engineering, science, precision agriculture and agri-business have been identified, by a Ministry of Primary Industries report, as key areas to support the future of New Zealand’s primary sector. This is a view shared by Ballance.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) released a research paper ‘People Powered – building capabilities to keep New Zealand’s primary industries internationally competitive’, on 6 June 2014, in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ. The report summarises the expected capability needs for each of the primary industries and associated support services. . . .

A market for all except for the roar of the stag:

Pampered pooches in America and pizzle hot pots in China are helping support venison prices to farmers.

While the top priority for the deer industry is building restaurant demand for farm-raised venison, it also caters for customers eager to source every part of the animal except, perhaps, the roar of the stag.

“In the United States, venison and other game meats are now vital ingredients in gourmet pet foods. The inclusion of 10 per cent venison in a chicken-based formula can give it serious cachet, dramatically increasing the price consumers are willing to pay for the product,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive officer Dan Coup. . . .

 

Increase in milk production drives additional rail services for Hokitika:

Westland Milk Products has reached an agreement with KiwiRail for an additional daily rail service between Christchurch and Hokitika to meet the dairy company’s increasing freight needs.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin says the move will have substantial benefits for Westland, road users and the environment.

“During the last few years Westland’s rail freight requirements have increased substantially,” Quin says. “This has been driven by record increases in production by our shareholders, up nearly 22 percent in the 2013/14 season alone, along with an expanding product range and growing sales success in international markets. When our new nutritionals dryer comes into production in August next year, we can expect our demand for additional freight to increase further.” . . .

 

ASB Farmshed Economics Report

Mixed fortunes for long term commodity prices

• ASB revises its milk price forecast down to $5.30/kg of milk solids

• Beef prices could hit record high by year’s end.

• Lamb price gains running out of steam

The dairy markets can’t seem to catch a break, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“With bumper production driving down prices, the recent Russian dairy import ban will further add to the sluggish dairy price woes,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. . .


Environment first for farmers

September 20, 2014

Lincoln University research shows environmental stewardship is a high priority for farmers:

Farmers on properties with a net annual profit less than $50,000 list ‘minimising pollution’, ‘improving the condition of the property’ and ‘ensuring employees enjoy their job’ as more important objectives than ‘expanding the business’ or ‘making a comfortable living’.

That’s according to the latest results from research conducted by Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Farm Management Research, Dr Kevin Old, and Research Fellow, Dr Peter Nuthall, who sought opinions and preferences with regard to farm succession and governance.

According to the researchers, the prioritised objectives of less profitable farmers may reflect a mindset which has largely dismissed the idea of achieving larger returns or expanding the business on grounds that these are essentially unobtainable. As such, job satisfaction or meaning comes from notions of environmental stewardship or quality of life.

Interestingly, farmers on properties with lower returns also placed ‘attending field days’ as one of the lowest objectives.

There could well be a link between this apparent unwillingness to learn and low returns. But it could also be that these farmers don’t feel they can afford the time off their farms.

For more profitable farms (those with a net annual profit of $100,000-$150,000) the same objectives appear as top choices, albeit in a slightly different order. These farmers put ‘it is important to make a comfortable living’ at the top of the list. However, the other top ranked objectives are in the same order with ‘minimise pollution’ fitting in after ‘ensuring employees enjoy their job’.

Of great surprise to the researchers was the objective ‘it is important to pass the farm to family’ being placed at the bottom of the list as the lowest ranked objective. . .

I think this has changed after the ag-sag of the 80s when farms couldn’t afford to have adult children come home and they got work elsewhere.

New Zealand has historically had an orientation toward the family farm: ownership systems were simple, and most farms kept one or two people fully occupied. Likewise, objectives were orientated toward farming ‘as a way of life’. The research aimed at ascertaining whether this traditional model has changed and to what degree.

It was found that the average age of farmers in New Zealand in 2006 was 50, but in 2013 this had edged up to 53. The average farm size has similarly increased, from 557 hectares in 2006 to 591 hectares in 2013.

The average number of people working on the farms has also increased. In 2006 it was 2.05, whereas the figure for 2013 sits at 2.76.

The researchers noted that changes in employment levels per farm are most pronounced in the dairy sector. This is no doubt due to growth in the sector which has seen dairy production increase from 951.5 kilograms of milksolids per hectare in 2006 to 1134.3 kilograms of milksolids per hectare in 2013 (compared with a drop in lambing productivity from 130.3 percent to 127 percent).

The South Island in particular has seen a notable increase in average farm size, which has gone some way to contribute to the fact that 3.2 percent of all farms in New Zealand – all of which are dairy operations – now have eight or more people working on them.

Across all farm types, 25 percent are run by a single person. Farms with two people make up a further 41 percent, with three person farms covering an additional 13.5 percent. As such, close to 80 percent of farms in New Zealand are still low labour operations.

Of note, 20 percent of all New Zealand farms are sheep farms and have three people or fewer working on them.

It was also found that sheep farms experience less of a problem finding sufficient labour than dairy operations.

That reflects our experience.

Along with the increasing age of farm managers, the number of years which farmers own their farms is probably increasing. Currently the average length of ownership is 25 years.

Another change is likely to be in the number of farms each farmer has an interest in. While nearly 60 percent of farmers are involved with only one farm, the average across all farm types is 1.75 farms. This number is increasing, however, largely due to the growth in dairying, with some farmers holding an interest in more than seven farms.

It was found that family farms have a variety of ownership systems. Private companies are becoming important, with 14 percent of the respondents noting they have such a company. This might be combined with various other ownership systems, of which a trust could be one. In fact, the results showed that trusts factor into 47 percent of all properties in one form or another. Of the respondents, only 1.24 percent reported a public company ownership model.

Of all partnerships, around 70 percent involve a spouse. An additional 25 percent also involve one or more family members, but partnerships with non-family members are uncommon. A farmer’s spouse is also an important person in the case of trusts.

The researchers found that, on the whole, family ownership systems are such that the farmers themselves make most of the decisions. Indeed, the farmers reported they were the main decision maker on 71 percent of the farms, although they do frequently consult other family members before acting. It is suspected that this has probably changed over the years. Overall, it is likely that family members and other ‘important people’ are increasingly consulted.

All in all, while farms are certainly getting larger and farmers are staying longer on their farms, ownership systems largely remain relatively simple, and farmers continue to make most of the decisions on their own. Likewise, farmer objectives probably haven’t changed much, although the extra emphasis on the environment and sustainability was surprising.

“If you believe all that you read you would get the impression that New Zealand farming is going corporate,” says Dr Peter Nuthall. “But, while it is true that some corporate or quasi-corporate family arrangements exist, by far the majority of farms are simple family affairs.”

Farming doesn’t provide a high return on capital so is more suited to family operations than corporate ones which generally are more focussed on the bottom line over a shorter time period.


Rural round-up

September 19, 2014

Farmers have spent millions in the Horizons region:

A Federated Farmers survey has revealed the average dairy farmer in the Horizons Region has spent over $110,000 on environmental management in the past five years.

“There are huge numbers being invested in the region, which tells a really positive story about where we are heading environmentally and the buy in that is coming from the farmers,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“As people vote tomorrow I genuinely hope they will realise that farmers are doing a lot to farm more sustainably.

“It is very difficult to put a number on environmental spending, but we wanted to try, so we sent a survey out to all 918 dairy farms via the Horizons Regional Council. We were stunned by the response, not just the figures but how many people replied during their busiest time of year, calving season. . .

 

Working group focused on clear advice:

The industry-led working group looking at the issues with swedes affecting dairy cattle in Southland says a key priority will be developing clear and agreed advice for farmers.

The group met for the first time this week, with DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader, Richard Kyte, chairing the meeting. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It also has specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.

“Evidence and science-based information is crucial and will be the focus of this group. Gathering this information is a work in progress and will involve all parties,” says Richard. . .

Dairying business woman takes top role:

Delwyn Knight has taken the role of general manager of Liberty Genetics where she is leading a team that’s making headway in the competitive dairy genetics market.

Although modest about landing the top job, Knight admits that she is one of very few women working in top dairy genetics roles, and she is excited about taking on the position.

“It’s great to be in a position where I can provide value and support to farmers when they are making important farming business decisions,” said Knight.

“I’m really looking forward to working directly with our farming clients, understanding what their needs are and supporting them to get the best results for their herds.” . . .

Robotic sheepdogs unlikely Kiwi farmers say:

At the risk of being out of step with technology, Federated Farmers is dubious robotic sheepdogs will replace the real thing anytime soon.  Reported late last month, European academics believe they have created an algorithm simulating sheepdog behaviour.

“I am not saying it won’t come to pass but it’ll be more like one farmer robot and its droid than dog trials being replaced by droid trials,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“Anyone who works with dogs and sheep knows there’s more to this than an algorithm.

“For starters, there is a primordial instinctive connection between the two animals.  How you simulate that I have no idea. . .

Landcorp completes  full purchase of Focus Genetics:

Landcorp Farming Ltd. is now sole owner of livestock genetics business, Focus Genetics. The announcement comes after Landcorp successfully acquired the remaining 33% shareholding from
Rissington Breedline.

Hawkes Bay based Focus Genetics is New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics business with 17 breeding partners throughout New Zealand.  Formed in 2011, Focus Genetics has since grown its
market share, serving more than 750 commercial farm operations. 

Last year the company sold over 4,000 rams, 800 bulls and 400 stags to farmers in New Zealand and overseas.
Gavin Foulsham, Focus Genetics CEO, said having one owner provided certainty for the company’s plans to invest more towards achieving greater rates of genetic improvement. 

It also means Focus could explore more sales opportunities offshore. . .

I want to eat a weka - Offsetting Behaviour:

It’s been more than five years since I first posted on Roger Beattie’s felicitous “Eat them to save them” campaign. And I still am not allowed to buy a weka for dinner.

Roger is one of New Zealand’s great enviropreneurs: the National Farming Review called him an Eco Anarchist. He loves the environment and sees the best way of saving it as ensuring that it’s profitable to save it. Weka are endangered, but they’re easily farmed and tasty. Why aren’t we raising them for the restaurant trade and conserving an endangered species in the process? The Department of Conservation says no. They say no incredibly incoherently. But their “No” is what matters. . .

Two gold medals for Goldie Wines:

Goldie Wines on Waiheke Island has won its first gold medals for new owners, University of Auckland and winemaker, Heinrich Storm.

Two Goldie Syrah wines from the 2013 vintage took two of the eight gold medals awarded in the Syrah category at the recent NZ International Wine Show.

The Goldie Syrah 2013 and Goldie Reserve Syrah 2013 were awarded gold in what Heinrich says is a significant achievement for the new operation.

“These medals are the first won since the University took over ownership of the vineyard in 2011 from Goldwater Wines,” he says. “Also for me it is significant, because they are my first as winemaker for Goldie Wines.” .  . .


Rural round-up

September 18, 2014

The most boring bankrupt economic argument–“we export raw logs when we could be adding value and making jobs” : Eye to the Long Run:

The rot set in in the late 1940s on this. Jim Anderton was maybe the first in the modern era to believe we wantonly refused to profit from the blindingly obvious money and jobs to be had from processing timber.

In recent times only Winston Peters has been bright enough to see what the entire business sector has apparently completely missed.

Now, joining him as a value add timber processing expert we have the lawyer from Herne Bay – Mr Cunliffe who has spotted the opportunity.

It is, you understand, not so profitable that any of them would give up their day job… it never is, is it? . . .

Future of red meat promotion under threat – Allan Barber:

Next year’s Commodity Levy Act referendum is one of the factors concentrating meat industry minds on the question of red meat promotional investment. B+LNZ is currently conducting a consultation round with individual meat companies to find out how this critically important, if contentious, topic should be agreed for the benefit of all industry participants.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Scott Champion told me it’s too early to make any predictions about the outcome, at least until after completion of the consultation round at the end of September. With the referendum about 12 months away, the process is geared to providing time to gather enough detail for promotional strategy development before taking this out to farmers to test it in advance of the vote. . . 

New Zealand’s Hake and Ling Join Top 8% of World’s Sustainable Fisheries:

Hake and ling from New Zealand are now among the top 8% of global sustainable fish species after being recognised by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Each of the three New Zealand hake trawl fisheries, five ling trawl fisheries and five ling long line fisheries have been certified as sustainable against the MSC standard – the ‘gold standard’ for sustainable seafood production.

Only 8% of the world’s wild-capture harvest is certified through the global MSC programme which sets high internationally-accepted standards for sustainable fishing and provides consumers with assurance that MSC certified seafood is sustainable, based on sound, independent science. . .

 

Rural New Zealand wants gigabit equality:

Federated Farmers and TUANZ believe it is essential the next Government delivers better connectivity to rural New Zealand, and is keen to work with them to make that happen.

“We are encouraged by the National Party’s further commitment of $150million, if they’re re-elected, and hope to see a similar commitment from our next Government announced this Saturday” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Telecommunications Spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers and TUANZ support a Gigabit Agenda for Rural New Zealand that doesn’t leave our productive sector behind. We need to talk about gigabit speeds, where farmers can eventually get their gigabytes as fast as the townies do. . . .

 The right people trained the right way -  Craig Littin:

Our recently released Manifesto talks about building a sustainable farm system giving us the collective means to go forward as a nation.  We can and we will be more than we are today, but to do that we need the right people trained the right way.

Firstly we need to look at what we are trying to achieve. We need to have the young people of New Zealand believing that farming is the attractive career option that it is. We also need to put our money where our mouth is in terms of investing in education, science, research and innovation.

There are some great stories out there of the highly skilled people in our industry who have worked through the agricultural industry to now run multimillion dollar businesses, on very attractive salaries. These opportunities are available to anyone with the enthusiasm, intellect and discipline required to make it in the dairy industry, but we need sound education systems to get the right people into the industry. To do this we need to align the requirements and standards to fulfil job roles with the qualifications offered within primary industry training/education institutes. . . .

Molkerei Ammerland Completes First Sweet Whey Powder Auction on Globaldairytrade:

Sweet whey powder has been sold for the first time on GlobalDairyTrade (GDT), the world’s leading online dairy auction platform, with Molkerei Ammerland selling the product they offered at their first trading event.

Molkerei Ammerland CEO Ralf Hinrichs said the company was pleased with the results from the first SWP online auction.

“Through GDT we have been able to extend our reach to a larger number of customers, and to transact with them much faster. We’re looking forward to using GDT to grow our export market,” he said. . .

Tasman Tanks Appoints Craig Hemmings as Dairy Effluent Sector Manager:

Leading New Zealand and Australian storage tank company Tasman Tanks, has appointed Craig Hemmings as dairy effluent sector manager.

Mr Hemmings brings to his position more than a decade of management experience with nationally and internationally recognised agricultural companies.

As dairy effluent sector manager for Tasman Tanks, Mr Hemmings will oversee the operational management of the company’s dairy effluent division in New Zealand.

“From small beginnings in 1996, Tasman Tanks has built its reputation on designing, manufacturing and installing fully engineered and certified tanks,” said Mr Hemmings. . .

 Central Otago Wine Industry no longer a “One Trick Pony”:

As we have come to expect, Central Otago wines dominated the medals for pinot noir at the 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show, taking out 10 of the 15 Gold Medals awarded. But what is more interesting about the results of this show is that Central Otago wines won medals in a total of 10 different wine categories – Methode Traditionelle, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Dessert Wine, Rose, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Now in its tenth year, The New Zealand International Wine Show is firmly established as the largest wine competition held in New Zealand each year. The 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show was judged from 8th to 10th September in Auckland and attracted a total of 2130 entries. Trophies will be awarded at the Awards Dinner on 27 September. . .


NZIER: water taxes will suck Otago & Canterbury dry

September 18, 2014

Water taxes could become a regional tax on Canterbury and Otago, seriously impacting those regional economies.

This is the conclusion of a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report for Federated Farmers.

Care needs  to  be  taken  when  considering  taxing  competitive  agricultural  sectors since  countries  which  have  done  so  without  strong  justification  have  performed poorly (e.g. Argentina).

While there is little policy relevant data to tell us how much water is being used by the rural sector, preliminary estimates suggest that for every cent (per cubic metre of water) the rural sector is charged, $39 million will be taken out of rural communities.

This assumes  that  the  policy  is  enforceable  and  that  any  exceptions  could  be adequately  accommodated.1

Further, if  focused  on  irrigation  only,  the  tax  will predominantly fall on Canterbury and Otago  water users  (see following table), while traditional dairying areas such as Taranaki and Waikato will pay a minimal water tax.

While water  quality  is  reasonably  good,  maintaining  water  quality  is  a  major challenge that needs  to be overcome  with the  spotlight firmly on non-point  source agricultural run-off. Farmers need to be proactive in addressing this issue or others (e.g.  over-zealous  regulators, foreign consumers)  will do so  instead, possibly in ways that are less efficient for farmers and the country than an industry-driven initiative.

Doing nothing about water quality  is  not a sensible  option.  Neither is rushing ahead without sufficient information.  

But this is not a new problem. New Zealand can learn from other countries’ water quality regulatory experiences here and hopefully avoid making their mistakes. Some key lessons are:

  •  Addressing water quality that impacts on agriculture is a long term game. Rash decisions made now could have significant and costly unintended consequences
  •  Use science to determine minimum flows to sustain healthy water ways, and be flexible and adaptive in the management of the environment as scientific knowledge improves
  •  Using markets to allocate water between competing uses can be efficient and effective when conditions allow, but be aware that market forces alone will not solve all problems
  •  Water taxes will not be an effective allocation mechanism if significant physical, regulatory or information barriers exist. Specifically, further work is required in understanding the detailed water use trade-offs since we lack the necessary policy-relevant information, data and institutional capability
  •  Where possible, including urban areas within the same water allocation and trading framework will improve efficiency. . . .

It compares the policies of the National, Labour and Green parties and says:

There certainly  needs  to  be  a  step  up  in  primary  sector  –  and  other  sectors’  – responsiveness to this issue. But durable, effective water  trading  solutions take time to develop and must be based on robust analysis and facts, not rhetoric and ideology.

Voters should  be  wary  about  promised  policy  outcomes  when  the  evidence  base around  the  economic,  environmental,  social  and  cultural  impacts  of  the  proposed policies is far from complete. . .

There are no credible arguments against the importance of good water quality, the need to prevent degradation of water ways and clean up the dirty ones.

But imposing a water tax on Canterbury and Otago farmers to address problems all over the country, some of which have nothing to do with irrigation or farming, is not the answer to poor water quality in some areas and will create other problems.

It will also impose huge costs on a relatively small number of farmers in two regions:

“Let’s not kid ourselves that the road Labour and the Greens are travelling down with Water Taxes, looks more like regional farming taxes to us,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“The NZIER have calculated that a water tax of one cent on every cubic metre (m3) of water used for irrigated and stock purposes, means $39 million would need to be paid by farmers. 

“While Labour and the Green Party won’t confirm what they are considering, in 2011, the Greens campaigned on ten cents a cubic metre.

“If that happened then Canterbury’s farmers would foot 62 percent of the cost ($248 million) while 21 percent of the cost would fall on Otago’s farmers ($82 million).  Those two regions being where most of New Zealand’s irrigation happens.

“This represents something like a 13 percent bite out of agricultural GDP in Canterbury and 12.5 percent out of Otago’s agricultural GDP.  That’s one heck of a wallop and for what?

“These taxes have little to do with the political rhetoric of tackling water quality. There are plenty of regions with little or no irrigation, which have water quality challenges due to agriculture, industry and municipal influences.  

“It seems more about revenue generation to plug big spending promises and farmers, horticulturalists and vintners in Otago and Canterbury are being lined up to foot the bill.

“There’s no mention that these same businesses already pay thousands of dollars each year in ‘taxes’ to regional and district councils for the privilege  of accessing water.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that water taxes will only drive up the cost of food production, especially locally grown fresh vegetables and fruit.

“Are Kiwis really prepared to gift our domestic food market to other countries by pricing ourselves off the market?

“Labour and the Greens claim it will drive better and more efficient use of water. Well they are too late. Over the past ten years or so, farmers have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading on and off-farm irrigation infrastructure to more efficiently use water.

“This is plainly obvious for all to see in Canterbury with the proliferation of centre pivot irrigators.  With each one costing some $250,000, they allow the farmer to use substantially less water producing more food and fibre over traditional border dykes.

“There’s only so much money to go around for farmers to invest.  These proposed tastes will only slow down or stop a farmers’ ability to invest in new technologies.

“You’ve got to remember that we’re only using a fraction of New Zealand’s renewable freshwater resource, but the proper word is renewing.

“As the NZIER also notes, there are large informational, institutional and implementation gaps on water taxes. In our view, water tax proposals should have ‘use with caution’ in flashing red lights.

“If you want an example of a country with ill-founded and ill-thought out taxes that are like a wrecking ball through the primary industries then Argentina provides it.  Dr William Rolleston visited it earlier this year and saw for himself how everyone loses out there.

“By attacking Canterbury and Otago irrigators, there is such a dislocation between who you tax and the problem you want to solve, that the only thing you hurt is the economy.

“That’s why the media, politicians and commentators need to heed NZIER’s advice that, “care needs to be taken when considering taxing competitive agricultural sectors since countries which have done so without strong justification have performed poorly”.

“With some trading partners increasingly believing we are not responsibly harnessing our water resources to guarantee production, this is no place for policy experiments,” Mr Mackenzie finished by saying.

We don’t need an expensive experiment the direct costs of which will be carried by a relatively small number of farmers and the indirect costs of which will impact on Otago and Canterbury.

We need more of what’s already working.

This includes independently audited environmental plans for farms, which is what the North Otago Irrigation Company requires of all its water users.

Farmers already had lots of reasons to vote for another National-led government. This report provides them with more.


Rural round-up

September 17, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Outlines Priorities Ahead of General Election:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has outlined what it sees as the policy priorities for the incoming government.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons says the policy manifesto covers a range of issues that will support a confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

“The red meat sector is hugely important to the New Zealand economy – worth $8.5 billion a year, so it’s critical that the incoming government is aware of the issues that affect our sheep and beef farmers,” Parsons said.

“Our first priority is securing investment in research and development that will increase farm productivity and continue adding value to our sheepmeat and beef products. . . .

 

It all depends on China – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand agribusiness, led by dairy, has hit a rough spot. Some will see this as confirmation that dependence on China involves big risks. More important, is the need to recognise that China is also the solution.

Chinese demand for dairy products in particular has grown so rapidly that it was inevitable there would be speed wobbles. With hindsight, we can see that it was the New Zealand drought of autumn 2013, combined with increasing Chinese demand, that led to shortages of milk products in Chinese supermarkets during late 2013. The Chinese importers then over-reacted, and purchased heavily during our summer months. Increased autumn production in the current year has then coincided with Chinese inventories already fully replenished. . .

Water quality rules ‘work in progress’:

The national water industry body says rules on water quality are not set in concrete and will develop further.

New national fresh water standards which, for the first time, set minimum quality requirements for rivers, lakes and aquifers were announced earlier in the year.

Water New Zealand is holding its annual conference in Hamilton from today. Chief executive Murray Gibb said the rules are a work in progress and would be reviewed in 2016.

“There’s been debate as to whether or not it’s sufficiently tight and there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not the corner-stone policy that it imposes a requirement on councils to maintain and improve overall water quality within their regions might lead to declining water quality in some water bodies. . . .

Make a fuss of scheme:

    The prime minister was in Ashburton last Thursday. He then visited Timaru to wander up and down the main street, talking to voters.

A slight detour between those two destinations would have taken him to the seven massive ponds that are the Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme, at the very time they were being filled to capacity for the first time.

It would have been a great photo op for the prime minister, and a fitting tribute to the scheme’s backers, to have the PM officially “open” the out-of-river storage project.

Maybe such a function is planned but chances are it’s not. And that’s not a snub to the prime minister, but a reflection more of the personality of the man behind the scheme, Gary Rooney.

He’s a doer, not a talker. He doesn’t go looking for pats on the back.

Where the Herald had plenty of coverage of the Opuha Dam as it was being built in the 1990s, with this project it has been like drawing teeth to get updates.

It’s not that Rooney and his workers were being obstructive, they just did not see the need to speak to the media. They were too busy building the thing.

But if he’s not going to blow his trumpet on the project, we will. . .

Generations of shearing in Brett’s family blood – Sally Rae:

Brett Roberts was destined to a shearer.

Not only does his grandfather, Cliff Waihape, have a shearing contracting business based in Mataura, but four of his uncles, Chad, Chop, Cliff jun and Cody, are also shearers.

”Our family, it’s in our blood,” he said.

Mr Roberts (20) started shearing at a young age, while still at school in Menzies College, Wyndham, with his family members showing him the ropes. . .

 

Southland swede group underway:

A cross-sector industry-led working group is coming together to co-ordinate research and advice to farmers following an issue with swedes affecting dairy cattle this season.

Across Southland, there has been a number of cases of cows becoming ill, and in some cases dying, while (or shortly after) grazing on swede crops.

A joint working group with representatives from a range of sector groups will be chaired by industry body DairyNZ and meet for the first time on Wednesday September 17. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It will also bring in specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.
DairyNZ has already sent an email survey to more than 2,600 Southland and South Otago farmers seeking information on whether they have been affected by the issue. It has also been advising farmers to be vigilant if their cows are feeding on swede. . .

 

New appointments at Dairy Women’s Network:

As Dairy Women’s Network grows from strength to strength, so too does its number of professionals grow.

The organisation has most recently acquired an events manager in Kym Gibson of Hamilton and a third regional convenor coordinator in Megan Edmeades of Manawaru (near Te Aroha).

Creating environments and experiences that resonate is a passion for Gibson, and something she is looking forward to fulfilling at the organisation’s 30-plus annual events.

Learning more about the “diverse and dynamic” organisation that is DWN is Gibson’s first challenge in the role, which she started in earlier this month. . . .

 

 


Whatever the weather

September 17, 2014

From Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s Facebook :

This morning I attended the opening of the Tasman Valley Road with Conservation Minister, Hon Dr Nick Smith. This significant upgrade was a collaboration of NZTA and DoC to improve safety and accessibility to one New Zealand’s most beautiful alpine regions. It will have great benefits for the surrounding communities.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

Jacqui Dean MP's photo.

This is #TeamKey working for New Zealand whatever the weather.

The announcement on the road says:

The completed $3 million upgrade of Tasman Valley Road at Aoraki/Mount Cook was officially opened today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The major upgrade of the Tasman Valley Road is about improving the safety and accessibility to New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine environment. This new road will enable over 100,000 visitors annually to enjoy the magnificent mountain, lake and glacial views of the Tasman Valley, and the unique flora and fauna including mountain lilies and daisies, and our unique mountain parrot, the kea,” Dr Smith says.

“The upgrade unveiled today – a partnership project between the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) – will improve one of New Zealand’s iconic ‘must-visit’ destinations, and provide significant benefits for the local tourism industry.

“The original road previously ran over a very dangerous and busy 2.2-kilometre bluff section, which has now been moved and realigned to run along the Tasman Valley floor, where it follows the contours of the nearby Blue Stream. This addresses a number of safety concerns associated with high traffic volumes on a narrow and winding section of road used by large buses and campervans. The new section also reduces the potential exposure to rock falls and avalanches.”

The capital costs of the upgrade have been shared by the Department and NZTA.

“This project is a great example of the Department working in partnership with other agencies to meet the aims of all involved. The upgraded road meets the strategic investment priorities for the Department with the area being an iconic site, while also meeting the NZTA’s priorities to make improvements where there are road safety issues and high traffic volumes,” Dr Smith says.

“I encourage many New Zealanders and other visitors to the area to make good use of this new road, and enjoy one of the great sights our country has to offer.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,364 other followers

%d bloggers like this: