Rural round-up

January 31, 2014

Auckland siphoning Waikato’s future:

Federated Farmers is concerned that the Auckland Watercare firm’s application to take water from the Waikato will see lost opportunities for economic growth in the Waikato.

“This part of the Waikato River is already nearly full allocated with water takes, at 10 percent of its one in 5 year low flow (Q5), so if this application is approved, Waikato ratepayers lose out,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers provincial president for Waikato.

“Watercare are asking for a further 200,000 cubic meters a day on top of the 150,000 they already take, to supply a city that doesn’t pay rates in the Waikato. Our council needs to be thinking about the long game here and what benefits there are in giving away Waikato’s resources, which are needed to maintain and build Waikato’s economy. If this consent proceeds under the current rules it is going to strangulate Waikato’s ability to grow. . .

Grassland science leader rewarded - Annette Scott:

More intensive farming has increased demand for greater pasture performance in New Zealand but Professor Syd Easton is confident there is technology and expertise to keep farmers well served. He talked to Annette Scott.

Emeritus Professor Syd Easton has been awarded the Ray Brougham Trophy for his significant contribution to grassland farming.

The AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North-based scientist is the third AgResearch scientist to win the prestigious pastoral science award. . . .

Bottom lines of animal welfare James Houghton:

A key component of farming is animal welfare and what influences that is culture and legislation. What we see in every industry is a bottom and top percent that stand out from the rest.

As is common in business and society, we focus on the bottom percent because they are the ones that need to change. In agriculture, the majority are doing a fine job of farming but there is still room for them to improve – looking to our top percent who are the game changers and leaders of the industry. However, our bottom dwellers are letting the industry down, and it is time for them to shape up or get out. We don’t want you if you can’t manage the basic requirement of treating your stock with respect and care. Likewise, this goes for those who disrespect and neglect the environment.

Animal welfare cases are never cut and dry, we need clear-cut standards and a fair and balanced approach to employment law cases, if we want to make those who are letting the industry down to be accountable. The Federation is proactive in educating its members about best practice and how to meet animal welfare requirements. We work well with key stakeholders on this issue, such as WSPA, The New Zealand Veterinary Association and DairyNZ, because we all have a vested interest in the welfare of animals. . .

Farmers back the battle for birds:

Federated Farmers is backing the Department of Conservation’s ‘Battle for Birds’ by extending the use of Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) to 500,000 hectares of the DoC estate, ahead of an anticipated explosion in mice, rat and mustelids due to the 2014 mast season.

“With one million tonne of seed due to fall in the 2014 mast season we are almost certain to see an explosion in rodent numbers and with them, their major predators,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Game & Pest spokesperson.

“Once this easy food supply ends in the spring, this plague of pests will turn on our native fauna as an easy meal. 

“When we have a tool that works, like Sodium fluoroacetate, then we must use it to keep these pest populations in check. . .

Lifestyle sells rural work – Stephen Bell:

Rural employers need to provide a good lifestyle and demonstrate a path exists for career advancement to attract young people to the countryside, Victoria University researcher Dr Michael Sloan has found.

Sloan surveyed 24,000 people as part of his thesis and found people moving from urban areas to the country had less social life satisfaction after the move but had greater outdoor satisfaction with the man-made and natural environments.

He spent three years comparing people’s expectations of moving to urban and rural areas with the reality after the move. . .

Farmers to put reputation at steak:

Nationwide, farmers are preparing their entries for the annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

The event, entering its twelfth year, recognises New Zealand’s most tender and tasty steak, an award taken seriously by industry professionals.   

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is an opportunity to showcase the dedication and skill so evident in New Zealand beef farming.

“The quality of New Zealand beef is a product of the hard-work and dedication of our farmers and this event rewards these efforts, making it a competitive and highly regarded award,” says Champion. . .


1080 myths dispelled

January 24, 2014

Wilderness magazine says it’s time to end the 1080 debate once and for all:

Opponents to the aerial use of 1080 should stop scaremongering and start thinking of better alternatives, say leading independent experts.

The experts, interviewed in the February issue of Wilderness magazine, have categorically dispelled many of the myths surrounding use of the poison. These myths include the idea that it kills kiwi, gets into our water supplies, threatens native bird populations and is no more effective than trapping and hunting.

Editor of Wilderness Alistair Hall believes it’s vital to stamp out rumours especially at a time when beech mast threatens many of the country’s rarest species. DOC’s preparing to launch a 1080 attack on rats, mice and stoats after predictions a bumper summer of beech flowering will lead to a huge increase of the predators later in the year.

“It’s time to get a few things straight,” said Hall. “1080 has never killed a kiwi, it has never been found in a drinking water supply and only one person has ever been killed by the poison – and that was in the 1960s.

“It’s not us who are saying this, it’s every expert we’ve spoken to. We made sure we picked people who are independent, rather than those who represent one side of the argument. The experts were unanimous in saying there’s currently no viable alternative when it comes to controlling pests on a large scale and that, without 1080, many of our native species would only exist on off-shore islands and intensively protected pockets on the mainland.”

Wilderness spoke to Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr James Ross, senior lecturer in wildlife management at Lincoln University, and Penny Fisher from Landcare Research.

Each expert was presented with 10 commonly held beliefs and asked to state whether they’re true or not based on what is currently known about the toxin.
“It’s fascinating to read what they have to say,” said Hall. “I often hear the argument that there hasn’t been enough research conducted on 1080 to determine whether it’s safe or not. In actual fact, there’s been continuous research since the 1950s.

“It’s so important to get this message across. As a tramping community we want to hear and see native birds and plants when we head into the backcountry. It’s clear to us, having spoken to those in the know, that using 1080 is the only way to ensure we can continue to do this.”

Full interviews with the experts are in the February issue of Wilderness magazine, available in shops from today and online here.

Animals targeted by 1080 endanger native flora and fauna they also carry TB which is a risk to animal and human health.

Where alternatives to 1080 can be used they are. But in many areas, including those of dense bush, there is no viable alternative to it.


No substitute for 1080 in some areas

July 18, 2013

Environment commissioner Jan Wright advocated for wider use of 1080 two years ago and is disappointed there’s been so little action since then.

. . . Dr Wright says time is running out for native species on the mainland.

“There are three predators that are inflicting enormous damage on our native birds and plants – possums, rats, and stoats. The only way we can control them over large areas is to use 1080. We are lucky to have it.

“When I released my report two years ago I called for greater use of 1080 because I was extremely concerned about the future of kiwi and other native birds.

“Currently the Department of Conservation is spending more on research into 1080 and its alternatives than it is on actually using it.

“While I’m happy this research is being done, I would like to see more money being spent on frontline pest control.

“While I am heartened by the public support for a pest-free New Zealand there is no way that it could currently be achieved without 1080. I will continue to recommend its use is increased. “

Dr Wright’s report is here, her update is here.

Forest and Bird agree with her.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the PCE’s latest report reinforces Forest & Bird’s stance that 1080 remains the most cost effective way of controlling the three “key pests of possums, rats and stoats” over large areas.

“Pests are decimating our native forests and killing an estimated 25 million birds a year, pushing some of them towards extinction. We need to get on top of the pest situation if we want to reverse the decline of our native wildlife.

“We fully agree with the Commissioner in that aerial 1080 drops over large areas are the best way to do that,” he says.

“Other methods of pest control, like trapping and ground-based poison operations, are expensive, time-consuming, cover small areas, and often fail to get into the heart of the back country where it’s most needed. Aerial 1080 drops, at this stage, offer the most cost-effective way to tackle New Zealand’s pest problem,” Kevin Hackwell says.

Forest & Bird is disappointed that the Department of Conservation has not acted on the PCE’s key recommendation from the initial 2011 report to increase the use of aerial 1080 operations.

“DOC should move resources from the less effective ground-based control to the more effective use of aerial 1080. There’s no need for any more delay, we should be acting on the PCE’s recommendations now,” Kevin Hackwell says.

It is impossible to safeguard native birds when 1080 is dropped and it can kill them. But populations recover very quickly when their predators are killed.

Trapping and hunting animal pests works well in some places.

But in many areas 1080 is the best way to kill the pests which destroy native flora and pray on the fauna.

Some of these pests also carry TB which can spread to farm animals and people.


Rural round-up

January 27, 2013

Maori Trust beats 1080 opponent in court:

A veteran oponent of using 1080 poison to kill possums has lost his latest bid in the courts to stop a Maori organisation using the compound.

David Livingston asked for a review of the Lake Taupo Forest Trust, after the Maori Land Court previously refused to grant an injunction against the trustees . . .

The use of dicyandiamide (DCD) to control nitrogen pollution in NZ - Bob Wilcock:

For the last 20 years New Zealand has been undergoing a rapid expansion in dairy farming, driven by commodity prices. New Zealand’s dairy exports, although small on a global scale of production, comprise 30-40% of internationally traded dairy products and are a major component of our gross domestic product (roughly 3%). Dairy farming is an intensive form of agriculture and its expansion into areas that were previously used for sheep and beef farming, combined with increased stocking rates in established dairy farming regions, has resulted in much greater leaching of nitrate to groundwater, and to surface waters receiving inputs of groundwater. . . .

Cargill to idle Plainview, Texas, beef processing plant; dwindling cattle supply cited:

Cargill today announced that it will idle its Plainview, Texas, beef processing facility effective at the close of business, Friday, Feb.1, 2013, resulting primarily from the tight cattle supply brought about by years of drought in Texas and Southern Plains states.  Approximately 2,000 people work at the Plainview facility, and they will receive company support.  Federal, state, county and city government representatives, as well as Cargill customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders were informed today of Cargill’s decision, concurrent with Cargill employees being notified.

“The decision to idle our Plainview beef processing plant was a difficult and painful one to make and was made only after we conducted an exhaustive analysis of the regional cattle supply and processing capacity situation in North America,” said John Keating, president of Cargill Beef, based in Wichita, Kan.  “While idling a major beef plant is unfortunate because of the resulting layoff of good people, which impacts their families and the community of Plainview, we were compelled to make a decision that would reduce the strain created on our beef business by the reduced cattle supply.  The U.S. cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1952.  Increased feed costs resulting from the prolonged drought, combined with herd liquidations by cattle ranchers, are severely and adversely contributing to the challenging business conditions we face as an industry.  Our preference would have been not to idle a plant.” . . .

Brazillian beef imports doubled in 2012 – Gemma Mackenzie:

UK imports of Brazilian beef doubled during 2012, but trade restrictions mean import levels are still 85% lower than in 2007, said Quality Meat Scotland.

Speaking at a recent “EU Imports and CAP” seminar in Bridge of Allan, QMS head of economic services Stuart Ashworth said that since trade restrictions were placed on Brazil in 2008, beef imports to the UK fell by 80% between 2007 and 2008, and continued to fall until 2011.
 
The European market was shielded from these imports as a result of significant import tariffs, however if trade restrictions were lifted, Scottish farmers faced the prospect of lower and more volatile beef prices, he warned. . .

Fonterra CFO announces retirement:

 One of the chief architects of Fonterra’s successfully launched listed units, chief financial officer Jonathan Mason, is to leave the co-operative.

The softly spoken former senior executive for the American wood products giant International Paper first came to New Zealand from 2000 to 2005 to be cfo at Carter Holt Harvey, which IP owned at the time, before returning to the US. . .

And a media release from the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust:

Competition to boost awareness of pasture renewal:

Over 80% of New Zealand dairy farmers intend to renew run-out pastures this season, regardless of their financial outlook, reports a dairy farm survey released recently from CINTA.

This result highlights farmers know that annual pasture renewal is vital to their operations and yet actions do not always follow those intentions.

To encourage more action on pasture renewal, agribusiness organisations have the opportunity to get alongside farmers to discuss and encourage their annual pasture renewal programmes through the “Win a Free Paddock” campaign which runs from 20 January through until the closure date of 28 February.

Open to all farmers (from both the dairy and sheep/beef/deer sectors) the three prizes, valued at $8,000 each, will be drawn on 5 March 2013. The prizes consist of products and technical advice used in the pasture renewal process and may be redeemed direct from the winners’ nominated rural retailer.

On-line entries are encouraged at http://www.pasturerenewal.org.nz. Entry forms are also available from most rural retailers or direct from their representatives. Winners will have the option to undertake their pasture renewal in either autumn or spring depending on their farming system and location.

Run by the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust (PRCT), the competition is an excellent chance to be “in the money” and “do something about the difference” between the best producing paddock on farm and the worst”, to boost overall farm productivity, says PRCT project manager Nicola Holmes.

“PRCT recognises the importance of trusted, long-term working relationships between rural retailer representatives, contractors, consultants and farmers and having them plan programmes and timing of pasture sowing to ensure the best results,” says Nicola.  “Right now plans for autumn pasture renewal activity for 2013 will be well underway on many North Island dairy farms.”

Farmers not committed to an annual pasture renewal programme miss the chance to significantly improve pasture quality on their farm, which in turn will ensure greater productivity, increased returns, improved animal health and more farm management options.

Nicola says The CINTA survey of 600 dairy farmers nationwide shows cropping programmes, not finances, are the biggest barrier to increased areas of pasture renewal on New Zealand dairy farms.

Around New Zealand the total percentage of pasture renewal falls well behind the 10-12% annually recommended by the Trust. Dairy farmers renew around 6-7% annually and the sheep and beef sector 2-3%.


Rural round-up

January 7, 2013

Rabbit rise may bring 1080 response – Gerald Piddock:

Environment Canterbury’s annual count shows that rabbit numbers are on the rise in the Mackenzie Basin and Omarama.

The regional council monitors rabbit trends every year and the latest draft analysis showed a noticeable increase of rabbits in the Mackenzie Basin, eastern Mackenzie around Haldon Rd and in Omarama.

ECan’s biosecurity team leader, Brent Glentworth, expected there would be some large 1080 operations this summer, particularly on the eastern side of the Mackenzie, as land owners battle to keep rabbit numbers down. . .

UK biofuels influence NZ wheats:

European, notably UK, breeding programmes, growers at PGW’s agronomy group field day last week heard.

 Europe is normally a regular exporter of wheat, but three massive biofuel plants have created an extra 2mt of demand for wheat, preferably high starch soft milling types that maximise ethanol yield, Limagrain’s UK director of sales and New Zealand coordinator, Alastair Moore (pictured), explained.

“We’re seeing quite a drive to the soft wheat end and a lot of the new varieties recommended [in the UK] were in that category.” . .

Insecticide removal would hit crops hard – Gerald Piddock:

Seed and cereal farmers face a major risk to their productivity and profitability from the removal of organophosphate insecticides from the market.

Current control practices used by farmers, particularly during crop establishment rely heavily on organophosphates which are currently the subject of a review and re-regulation by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Organophosphate insecticides are used by farmers to control grass grub, one of the country’s most destructive plant pests. . .

Van der Heyden works till end:

OUTGOING FONTERRA chairman Henry van der Heyden will be using the next five months as a director to help execute the co-op’s strategy refresh.

Van der Heyden is defending his decision to stay on the board after relinquishing the chairmanship to John Wilson. He says the decision has been taken in the interest of the co-op. Some shareholders have questioned the decision.
Van der Heyden says he has always done what is right for Fonterra. . .

Kirkwood takes vote for council – Gerald Piddock:

Oamaru dairy farmer Greg Kirkwood is the new Fonterra Shareholders councillor for ward 32 in Southern Canterbury.

Mr Kirkwood was elected to the council ahead of Geraldine dairy farmer Ad Hendriks.

He takes over from Desiree Reid, who retired from the position by rotation.

Mr Kirkwood said he put his name forward for the Shareholders Council because he wanted to get involved more in the co-operative.

Raw milk health risks under review:

Since the 1950s, New Zealand’s commercial milk supply has been pasteurised – treated with heat to kill bacteria – and most of us have swallowed the official position, that untreated milk is potentially dangerous to drink.

But there’s a growing trend of consumers wanting their food in a natural state, and that includes milk. They say raw milk is not only safe, it’s better for you, and a major study is underway to see if they’re right.

Most of us buy our milk pasteurised and from a dairy or supermarket fridge. But for mums like Angela Jones that’s changing. She’s one of thousands of townies making a regular trek to a trusted farmer to buy raw milk at the farm gate. . .


Rural round-up

July 8, 2012

1080 doesn’t contaminate waterways new study shows:

New research by NIWA scientists shows 1080 poison does not contaminate waterways.

1080 is used throughout New Zealand to control animal pests – mainly possums – which spread the livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Over the past three months, scientists have placed large amounts of 1080 in a trial catchment on the West Coast and then simulated rainfall in the area.

The aim is to understand how 1080 – a natural toxin – moves through or across soil into waterways and if the run-off degrades the quality of water.

Dr Alastair Suren is the freshwater ecologist who led the research and says the study found that during rainfall 1080 diluted to the point where it became nearly undetectable. . .

Rabobank runs masterclass - Hugh Stringleman:

Some “scary numbers” on world food security were addressed by 50 participants, including six New Zealanders, in the inaugural Global Masterclass held by Rabobank in the home country, Netherlands.

Speakers from the United Nations and giant agribusinesses such as Unilever and Cargill impressed upon North Island sheep, beef and deer farmer William Oliver the need for greater efficiency in farming with labour, energy and capital.

“I came home to see the opportunity in everything and bring more passion and inspiration to my farming,” Oliver said.

The theme of the vent was to promote rural entrepreneurship to fill the world’s food needs . .

My farmer was one of the six New Zealanders at the Masterclass. You can read more about it here and here.

Pear investment coming up rosy - Peter Watson:

In more than 30 years growing pipfruit, Bruce Fraser hasn’t seen a pear with such promise.

Shaped more like an apple and bright red, PremP109 has been stirring up a storm since being released in tiny amounts last year.

Dubbed a “papple” in Britain, it has been selling at Marks and Spencer stores for an eyewatering 1GBP (NZ$2.10) a piece and returning growers back here more than $100 an 18kg carton, a staggering sum at a time of hardship in the industry. . .

Fontera eyes up Studholme plant – Andrea Fox:

The small size of New Zealand Dairy’s Studholme plant means it is well-suited for use in short and specialised manufacturing runs, Fonterra says in an application eyeing up the factory.

Fonterra has a deal to buy the dairy-processing assets of New Zealand Dairies, which is in receivership. But while awaiting a Commerce Commission decision, the dairy giant wants to buy the milk of the failed company’s contracted farmers and operate the plant.

Exporter New Zealand Dairies was founded six years ago to build a wholemilk powder processing plan on 55ha at Studholme. The plant was commissioned in 2007 at a cost of $108m. . .

Winemaker introduces smaller bottles:

Mission Estate has been commended by anti-alcohol campaigners for introducing New Zealand’s first 500ml bottle of wine.

The Hawke’s Bay winery, the nation’s oldest, is now selling sauvignon blanc and syrah in the smaller bottles in a bid to make wine more attractive to modern lifestyles. The standard bottle of wine is 750ml, or 7.7 standard drinks.

Mission chief executive Peter Holley and winemaker Paul Mooney read research that showed New Zealanders were becoming older, increasingly urban and living in smaller family units. . .

Sanford sells virus hit Northland oyster farms  -

Fishing company Sanford has sold its Pacific oyster farms in Northland to Aotearoa Fisheries.

Sanford closed its Kaeo processing plant in December because of a virus that killed many of the juvenile oysters and the likely reduced oyster harvest.

Despite having confidence that there was potential to breed new oysters that have some resilience to this virus, it had decided that it made more sense for it to concentrate on its expanded Greenshell mussel business, Sandford said. . .

“Meating” of minds on advancing sector - Shaan Te Kani:

INDUSTRY ORGANISATIONS and commercial companies will work much more closely together in future, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman Mike Petersen.

“There has been a bit of discussion certainly since Keith Cooper’s resignation from our board around election time – about the value of industry organisations,” Petersen said at the Federated Farmers conference in Auckland.

“Our view is we are a farmers’ organisation…. It should be up to the farmers to decide whether they want to invest in research programmes, extension work, economic anaylysis, skills and trade programme or market access. . .

Growers fear limits to their water take -

SETTING limits on irrigation use in the Poverty Bay Flats was one of the main concerns raised by farmers and growers at the Fresh Water Advisory Group community meeting yesterday.

More than 50 people attended the meeting at Bushmere Arms, which discussed the draft freshwater management plan with Waipaoa users.

Advisory group representatives delivered the plan’s vision, which is to ensure the long-term sustainability of freshwater resources as well as considering economic and social activities. . .

So You Think (NZ) Reitred to stud:

The curtains have been pulled on the racing career of one of New Zealand’s most successful racehorses seen in recent times with the New Zealand bred Karaka graduate So You Think (NZ)officially retired to stud.

Announced by Coolmore yesterday, So You Think (High Chaparral x Triassic) has subsequently been withdrawn from Sunday morning’s Group 1 Eclipse Stakes where he was odds on to claim his 11th Group 1 race.

The son of High Chaparral was found to be lame after exercising yesterday morning in Ireland and it appears he has pulled a muscle in his hind quarter which precludes him from running in the Eclipse Stakes. So You Think will enter quarantine this week as originally planned before making his trip back to Australia to commence stud duties. . .

Potatoes NZ welcomes step towards fresh potato exports:

Potatoes New Zealand has welcomed an Australian Government draft report which is expected to open the door to the export of fresh potatoes for processing from New Zealand to Australia.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) draft report proposes that the importation of fresh potatoes for processing into Australia from New Zealand be permitted subject to import conditions.

Potatoes New Zealand Chairman Stuart Wright said that the news was very encouraging for the New Zealand potato industry and it was hoped the Australian market could be open to New Zealand for the 2012-13 season. . .


Rural round-up

July 1, 2012

The risks of global worming:

FOR decades, the overuse of antibiotics has encouraged the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria which, though they have never broken out and caused an epidemic in the way that was once feared, have nevertheless been responsible for many deaths that might otherwise have been avoided. Now something similar seems to be happening in agriculture. The overuse of drugs against parasitic worms which infest stock animals means that these, too, are becoming drug-resistant. That is bad for the animals’ health and welfare, and equally bad for farmers’ profits.

This, at least, is the conclusion drawn by Ray Kaplan, a parasitologist at the University of Georgia who has just published a review of research on the problem. His results, which appear in Veterinary Parasitology, make grim reading. . .

Young man on a mission – Sally Rae:

Tangaroa Walker is a young man with a very clear and bold vision for his future.   

By the time he is 40, Mr Walker (22) wants to own holiday homes in Queenstown and Mt Maunganui, a dairy farm in Southland and be living on a beef farm at Whakamarama, in the Bay of Plenty, the area where he grew up.   

They might be hefty goals but, given what the Southland-based lower order sharemilker has already achieved, you get the feeling he will most likely achieve them . . .

Dad’s death led to organis shift – Sally Rae:

Southland dairy farmer Robin Greer always had a desire to    process his own milk.   

He did some research and spent one day a week for 18 months in his kitchen, making cheese from recipes he found on the internet and in books.   

 He taught himself to make most of the cheeses now produced at the factory he and his wife Lois established on their farm.

They market their products – milk, cheese and yoghurt - throughout New Zealand, under the Retro Organics label, and  are looking at export opportunities. . .

Tests uncover way to cut use of 1080 poison – Gerald Piddock:

Landcare Research scientists are cautiously optimistic they have discovered a method of killing rabbits as effective as current methods but using significantly less 1080 poison. 

    The breakthrough came after Landcare and the Otago Regional Council carried out experiments on two high country stations in Central Otago last winter. 

    The experiments were based around refining how bait was sown on rabbit-prone country from fixed-wing aircraft by altering the volume of bait used for rabbit control. . .

Helicopters only way to cull deer:

It took sweat, precision and millions of dollars to make Highland Cuisine Ltd a venison exporter but owner Bill Hales fears a game council will put its deer procurement and customer relationships to the sword.

Parliament is mulling legislation for the council as part of a national wild game management strategy.

Submissions to the bill have poured in to the Environment and Local Government select committee, including those dismissing it as excess political baggage from MP Peter Dunne.

Yes, the council and wild game strategy is part of the Government’s confidence and supply agreement with Dunne’s one-man United Future Party. But that political history doesn’t change much for people like Hales. . .

Young agribusiness team from Massey competes in China – Pasture to Profit:

Massey University(NZ) had a team competing in theInternational Food and Agribusiness Management Association student case study competition, held in Shanghai,China.

The competition is in its 7thyear and is held in conjunction with the IFAMA annual forum and symposium. The late “Daniel Conforte” (an inspirational lecturer at Massey University) had a long standing association with IFAMA and at the opening of the Symposium was made a fellow of IFAMA the highest honour, a well deserved tribute recognising his passion and contribution to the organisation.  . .

Young farmer contest announces first ever patron:

A career in education and working with young people provided an excellent foundation for Dr Warwick Scott’s involvement with The National Bank Young Farmer Contest.

After 12 years of close association with the event, Dr Scott has recently been appointed as the first Contest Patron.

“I am deeply honoured,” he says. “It is a privilege to work with this amazing event which, year after year, showcases the on-going talent New Zealand has among its young famers, both men and women.”

ANZ Bank, DairyNZ partner on financial benchmarking of farms - Peter Kerr:

DairyNZ is partnering with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group to boost the financial performance of dairy farms.

Under a memorandum of understanding, DairyNZ’s business performance analysis tool, DairyBase, will be available to ANZ Bank economists and agri managers when working with farmers, they said in a statement.

DairyBase consolidates the financial results from more than 1,800 farmers, allowing like with like comparisons. Some 41% of dairy farmers currently use benchmarking . . .

First ever ‘Green 50’ list shows booming green sector:

New Zealand’s first definitive list of companies making money improving the environment has just been launched by strategic research company New River.

Top of the New River Green 50 list is Auckland-based Chem Recovery, which recovers and recycles heavy metals to produce 99.9 per cent pure re-usable metals; followed by Stonewood Homes, builder of a 7-star green building; and Reid Technology, a New Zealand leader in solar power. Other companies on the list include Flotech, a technology pioneer allowing organic waste to be converted into methane for pipeline gas; and Outgro an innovative fetiliser company enabling farmers to reduce phosphorous and nitrogen run-off into waterways while increasing their yields. . .


1080 killing pests, helping birds

April 27, 2012

Opponents to the use of 1080 to poison pests say it also kills to many native wildlife but a scientific study challenges that contention:

A 50-tonne drop of 1080, carried out by DOC over 25,000 hectares of the Waitutu Forest in southwest Fiordland in October 2010, drew criticism from anti-1080 activists despite what DOC claimed to be “exceptional” findings.

The DOC 1080 programme leader for the Waitutu drop, Colin Bishop, said it came as no surprise that the study was challenging claims about the negative impact on native wildlife.

“The results from the study certainly back up our findings as well as anecdotal evidence from recreational users to what has been happening in the Waitutu Forest since the 1080 drop,” he said.

“It will take a few breeding seasons before the scientific data is conclusive but hunters in particular have said bird life has been the best in a long time.”

Predator numbers, including possums, stoats and rats, have been drastically reduced and this has allowed native birds to respond, Mr Bishop said.

Breeding was less successful in an area where no 1080 was used and predator numbers were higher.

Shooting and trapping are preferable to poison where they can be used but there are vast areas of bush where 1080 is the only practical way to get rid of the predators which threaten native birds.

Opponents claim it takes too big a toll on the species it’s supposed to be protecting but this study indicates that 1080 gets the predators and saves the birds.


More deaths without 1080

September 18, 2011

Peter Dunne reckons the death of seven keas from 1080 poisoning is unacceptable.

“DoC currently spends less than $2 million a year on researching and developing alternatives. With that level of investment taxpayers dollars will still be killing kea for many years to come.”

“If we are to save our native bird populations we need to substantially increase the amount of funding available to develop anti-1080 alternatives. DoC and other agencies responsible for pest control need to significantly contribute to this out of their existing budgets,” said Mr Dunne.

DoC’s budget is already overstretched. One of the reasons for that is the large amount of extra land added to the conservation estate by the previous government in which Dunne was a minister.

Alternatives to 1080 would be good but until we get some using the poison is the lesser of two evils.

While no deaths of native birds should be considered acceptable, not using 1080 would result in more death and destruction.

Trapping and shooting is used to kill possums and other pests where possible but they can’t be used in dense bush and rough terrain.

At the moment 1080 is the best method of control in these areas. Without it uncontrolled populations of pests would kill many more native birds and trees.

He wants DoC


1080 still needed

June 8, 2011

Banning 1080 would damage native forests, birds, insects and reptiles parliamentary commissioner for the environment Jan Wright says:

“Possums, rats and stoats are chewing up our forests to the point that we are only a generation away from seeing regional extinctions of kiwis and other native species where no pest control is carried out.

“There are other pest control methods that are more suitable than 1080 in certain circumstances but on much of our conservation land there is currently nothing else that will effectively kill possums, rats and stoats.

“While there may be an alternative to 1080 one day, if we want to keep our forests for future generations we simply cannot afford to stop using 1080. Time is not a luxury we have.

“So many of our native forests, birds, reptiles and insects are unlike those found anywhere else in the world and form a distinct part of our identity. It would be a travesty to allow these to disappear.”

Possums and stoats also carry TB which is a danger to cattle.

There are places where alternatives to 1080 can and are used to good effect. We visited a farm in Marlborough in March where an extensive pest trapping programme was making a big difference to pasture, native bush and birds.

But Dr Wright is right – there are some places where 1080 is the best option. Vast tracts of native bush are inaccessible and aerial drops of 1080 are the only way to kill the pests which will kill the plants, insects, birds and reptiles there.

The full report is here.


Possums down, birds up

November 28, 2009

What’s bad for possums is good for native birds.

The extermination strategy has resulted in a drop in possum numbers from 60 to 70 million in the 1980s to around 30 million and as possum numbers have decreased, native bird populations have increased.

Forest and Bird spokeswoman Helen Bain said the drop was a factor in exploding numbers of tui in the Wellington area. “We’re getting a lot of anecdotal reports that numbers are up. I was in town the other day and I would have seen about 20 of them.”

Possums would raid the nests of native birds, such as tui, taking eggs, chicks and sometimes even adult birds, she said. “If we get possum numbers down, native birds and plants come back big time.”

One of the methods used to control possums is drops of 1080 poison which is controversial. Hunting and trapping are used where possible but 1080 is the only practical method of extermination in some areas.

Possums not only destroy trees, they eat birds eggs and compete with some native species for food.

They also carry bovine tuberculosis which can infect farm animals.

Their fur, now known as paihamu in the fashion industry, is wonderful by itself or mixed with merino wool. But the animals are pests and if 1080 is the only way to protect our forests, native birds and farm animals from them then this is one case when the end justifies the means.


Feds’ election wish-list pt 3

November 4, 2008

Federated Farmers 42 page election manifesto is certainly comprehensive.

I looked at the first 16 pages a couple of posts back and pages 17 – 24 in the last post.

Page 25 continues with a list of what it wants local and central government to do:

Local government should:

* Take better account of inter-generational equity through prudent use of debt . .

* make greater use of uniform annual charges.

* Make greater use of targetted rates to ensure that there is a better link between the funding of services and a resident’s acces to an benefit from such services.

* Provide ratepayers with itemised tates assessments.

*Report financial information consistently to enable comparisons.

*Participate in performance benchmarking.

Central government should:

* Enable councils to move away from having to fully-fund depreciation.

*Provide more revenue from petrol taxes and road user charges to ensure that local roads (like state highways) are funded according to road use rather than property value.

Given how little use some country roads get this might mean very little funding for them.

* Commit funds to councils if it is imposing increased roles, responsiblities and costs on them.

* Commit one cent of the 12.5 cents of GST as a general revenue share for local government to recognise new legislation obligations.

* Remove all rating exmpetions on land, including Department of Conservation land.

* Issue a clear policy direction that central government retains all responsbilitiy for income redistribution and that this is not a role for councils.

Rates have increased far more than the rate of inflation and one of the reasons for this is the imposition of extra responsbilities by central government without any extra funding.

The policy then moves on to pest management and asks for:

* Management plan to deal with bee pests not currently in New Zealand.

* The removal of restrictions on management of Canada Geese.

* Action plan to make New Zealand TB free and reduce rabbit population.

* The continued use of 1080 poison and public information campaign spearheaded by government.

* Research into alternatives to 1080 to ensure the msot effective tool is being used.

* Remove all rating exemptions on land, including Department of Conservation land, to fully fund pest management at a regional level.

I don’t think any party is prepared to remove the rating exemptions on government land so an alternative would be central government funding for pest management in lieu of rates.

* A Regulatory Responsibility bill to be introduced and passed in the next parliament.

* An independent agency, modelled on the Toronto Red Tape Commission, to revisit all primary legislation, statutory instruments and by-laws for unnecessary compliance cost implications.

I’d add unnecessary rules and laws, especially those eneacted nationally to solve a local problem, to the last point.

* A staged uplift in science and research from 1.2% of GDP to 3% of GDP by 2029.

* A focussing of research funds into the primary sectors which underpin the New Zealand economy.

* Flexibility for Crown research Institutions to reward the best scientists commensurate with their abilities.

* A ring fencing of investment to prevent its access by social scientists and related practitioners.

 If we want to retain our place as one of the world leaders in agriculture adequately funded research is essential.

 * Full market compensation for landowners if land use is restricted under the RMA.

*  Compulsory consultation with affected landowners.

* Clear policy direction for the Department of Conservation in respect of its advocacy role.

* The streamlining of resource consents and the plan processes to minimise activities that need consents and to clamp down on vexatious submitters.

* Long-term economic viability enabled by using transferable development rights, trade offs and creative subdivision policies.

*The changing nature of landscapes acknowledged by reworking the Act’s

emphasis on the protection of amenity.

The theory behind the RMA is good but it needs an overhaul to ensure it works more fairly, effectively and less expensively.


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