Class of 2014

September 23, 2014

Prime Minister-elect John Key, his deputy Bill English and the new national MPs:

Bill English and I were proud to welcome National’s 15 new MPs to Parliament this morning.

 


Rural round-up

September 3, 2014

Scientist warns of soil biodiversity loss:

The scientist responsible for making next year the United Nations International Year of Soils says far too little is known about the microscopic life forms which are critical to healthy soil.

Stephen Nortcliff is the Emeritus Professor of Soil Science at the University of Reading in England.

He said there has been a massive loss of biodiversity across the globe thanks to human intervention and it was not clear how much of that loss had happened beneath our feet. . . .

Be Good to Bees Because … September is Bee Aware Month:

September is Bee Aware Month and the National Beekeepers Association is urging all Kiwis to promote and protect the New Zealand bee population.

“We want Kiwis to Be Good to Bees Because … they support over $5 billion annually of the country’s agri-industry exports and they help to grow one third of all the food we eat, never mind helping our home gardens to flourish,” says NBA chief executive, Daniel Paul.

“The bees in New Zealand are faring a lot better than in many other countries, where bee populations are often under threat, but we still need to promote and protect our Kiwi bees. . .

University of Canterbury to help with forestry safety:

The University of Canterbury is to launch a new research project to make sure New Zealand’s new forestry roads are safe and are established with minimal environmental impact.

The New Zealand forestry industry is building more than 1400km of new roads a year and the research, to be conducted by Dr Kris Brown, will help improve design standards.

“The importance of infrastructure is widely recognised by forestry stakeholders, but the New Zealand Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel has heard that the quality and adequacy of forestry roads, bridges and skid sites are variable and often not up to the mark.

“I hope our research at the university’s School of Forestry will help raise standards for design, construction and maintenance of forestry roads. . . .

 Irrigators under pressure are offered help:

IrrigationNZ is helping irrigators respond to increasing public pressure by educating them on how they can reduce their impact on New Zealand’s waterways.

The ‘Great Irrigation Challenge’, a training and information event, will also help irrigators understand what the government’s new freshwater policy means and how to respond to it with practical and technical solutions.

“In the context of extreme public scrutiny on water use for agriculture as a dairy farmer or industry investor, sharemilker, farm manager or staff member, your livelihood and business continuity more than ever requires a high level of knowledge, expertise and skill,” says Andrew Curtis IrrigationNZ CEO. . . .

 Five vying for DairyNZ director position:

Five nominations have been received for the farmer-elected director position on the DairyNZ board:

The five farmers seeking a four year term as a DairyNZ director are:

* Donna Smit (Whakatane, Bay of Plenty)

* Murray Jamieson (Okaihau, Northland)

* Greg Maughan (Marton, Manawatu),

* Jim van der Poel (Ohaupo, Waikato) and

* Dirk Sieling (Whitianga, Waikato)
The election follows the resignation of Taranaki farmer Barbara Kuriger, who is standing down from the board to dedicate herself to her new role as the National Party candidate for the Taranaki-King Country electorate in the September General Election. . . .

 

Farmers Don’t Have to Wait for Rural Broadband

Farmers who want to harness rapid advancements in agricultural technology don’t have to wait for rural broadband to reach their property, with internet service provider Wireless Nation working with PGG Wrightson to make slow and unreliable rural internet a thing of the past.

Wireless Nation has already been receiving positive feedback from rural customers since it started rolling out satellite broadband through the Optus satellite network, earlier this year.

Paul Sheridan, Vice President, Optus Satellite, says, “We operate dedicated transponders on our D2 satellite that provide very good line-of-sight to New Zealand’s landmass. This means that Wireless Nation can be confident in the delivery of quality broadband services to their customers regardless of where they are based.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 31, 2014

Vet helps sheep death probe – Rebecca Ryan:

Oamaru police want some ”definitive answers” on the cause of death of about 215 sheep in Ngapara, and will get a second opinion from a forensic vet.

Last month, about 195 sheep were killed on Peter and Janine Stackhouse’s farm, and about 20 sheep were found dead on Wendy and John Dodd’s property, about 1.5km away, the following weekend. . .

Changes to East Coast erosion grant scheme:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has announced changes to the funding programme supporting East Coast landowners with erosion issues.

“The Gisborne region has a severe erosion problem. A quarter of the land is susceptible to severe erosion, compared with only eight per cent of all land in New Zealand,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Since 1992 landowners have been able to use the funding programme to help treat soil erosion, but 60,000 hectares of eligible land remains prone to erosion across the region. It is clear landowners need a more user friendly funding programme to help them tackle this issue.”

The programme has undergone a transformation as a result of two reviews by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in 2011 and 2012, and consultation held earlier this year. . .

 

Director election for DairyNZ:

Nominations will open next month for a new farmer-elected director for DairyNZ’s board following the resignation of current board member Barbara Kuriger.

DairyNZ board chairman John Luxton says Mrs Kuriger, who is from Taranaki, is standing down from the board to dedicate herself to her new role as the National Party candidate for the Taranaki-King Country electorate in the September General Election.

“Barbara has served on dairy industry boards for 11 years and has made a significant contribution through her links with the Dairy Women’s Network. She was the first person to win the Dairy Woman of the Year title in 2012 and was a founding member of DairyNZ’s board when it was formed in 2007. She has been a passionate advocate for driving improvements in our industry’s training systems. She has also worked hard to increase understanding between urban and rural communities. . . .

Dairying’s legal footprint continues to improve:

Federated Farmers is happy to see the legal footprint of New Zealand’s dairy industry continue to improve based on figures obtained by The Dominion Post.

“We are very happy to see prosecutions heading in the right direction,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“While 21 prosecutions is 21 too many, we need to remember that there are some 12,000 dairy herds in New Zealand. In pure percentage terms it is 0.175 percent of all herds.
“It affirms our view that there is a genuine change of culture in farming. A decade ago the main topic would be stocking rates but today it is dominated by environmental factors.

“When you’ve got weather beaten dairy farmers in their late 50’s comparing notes on riparian plantings and ground sensors, you know there’s a cultural change afoot. . .

Fonterra and Abbott working together in China - Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s recent announcement that it will partner with the multinational Abbott in the development of its next hub of China dairy farms is significant on two counts. It affirms Fonterra’s previously announced intentions to press ahead with further farm hubs in China now that the second hub in Shanxi Province is under way. That means that Fonterra retains its confidence about long term prospects in China. The announcement also means that Fonterra has found a top notch partner for some of its China operations.

Fonterra is already a supplier to Abbott of base powder ingredients for its Asian infant formula factories, but the new co-investment in China heralds a much closer relationship. On the surface it looks like an ideal match.

Fonterra’s expertise lies in producing high quality milk and in the first stage processing thereof. Abbott’s expertise lies in value-added nutritional products and marketing these to health conscious consumers.  . .

New model predicts pasture response to nitrogen:

A new model that can more accurately predict pasture responses to nitrogen is now available for farmers throughout the country.

The model is the first product resulting from farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s $19.5 million, seven year Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme, jointly funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Backed by sound science and extensive research, N-Guru™ is decision support software, designed in partnership with AgResearch, to improve the efficiency of nitrogen use on New Zealand pastoral farms. . .

Future of horticulture industry looks bright as national vege champion prepares for Young Grower of the Year 2014 final:

One of New Zealand’s top young vegetable growing talents will go head-to-head next month for the title of Young Grower of the Year 2014.

Brett Parker, from Pukekohe, beat six other young vegetable growers from across the country to be crowned the Young Vegetable Grower 2014 in April.

Brett will be looking to impress judges as he goes up against three regional Young Fruit Grower finalists for the national title in the final, run by Horticulture New Zealand in Christchurch on 14 August. The three young fruit growers, from the Nelson, Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty regions will also compete for the Young Fruit Grower of the Year 2014 title, at the same time. . .


“Typical MP looks male”

July 29, 2014

Rob Salmond thinks he knows why National has more male candidates:

. . . National leaves everything to its local branch, to simply vote up the candidate they like. They vote in complete isolation from the broader needs of the party – they focus only on their area.

A simple vote in a single seat election like this (the “seat” here is the right to stand for National in a particular electorate) is well known to advantage males. It is a lowest common denominator effect, where a male candidate – by virtue of entrenched mental images of what a “typical” MP look like – is more likely to be the one that the fewest people object to. As a psychological level, candidates who in any way represent a change to the status quo face an uphill battle in a single-seat election, as people who have no reason to object to the status quo (through either disinterest or design) feel some level of threat. . .

What utter tosh.

How could anyone think a typical MP looks male in the 21st century?

We’ve had two women Prime Ministers, several other female co-leaders, lots of women ministers and MPs. We’ve also had and have MPs of both genders of a variety of ethnicities.

If there ever was a typical MP look-alike there is no longer.

If Salmond had looked at the two women candidates selected by National electorates this year he’d realise how silly his supposition is:

Sarah Dowie who won the Invercargill selection could hardly look less like sitting MP Eric Roy:

shoes 2

Taranaki King Country  candidate Barbara Kuriger looks very different from retiring MP Shane Adern.

Both women were selected in a transparent and democratic process by members in the electorate.

And while both look very different from the men they are working very hard to replace they do share their National Party values, commitment to their electorates and strong desire to serve them well.

The problem with gender balance is not National’s fair and democratic selection process.

As a party insider I can say unequivocally that there is no preconceived notion of any typical MP look-alike among members. In any selections I’ve been involved in, delegates didn’t care about gender they were seeking to get the best people for the job.

One reason other parties have a better gender balance is that they have more list MPs.

Good list MPs work hard. But electorate MPs have less choice about the demands on their time and energy and women who want a more active role in parenting can find it too difficult to balance them both.

Parliament and life as an MP aren’t family-friendly.

Improving that would do more to help attract more women than reducing democracy within the National Party.


Barbara Kuriger Nat candidate for TKC

April 7, 2014

National party members have selected Barbara Kuriger, who was the inaugural Dairy Women of the Year, as its candidate for Taranaki King Country.

 . . . Mrs Kuriger said she was honoured to receive the nomination to contest the seat.

 “It’s a tremendous privilege to be able to contest the seat for National and for Taranaki – King Country communities,” said Mrs Kuriger.

 “John Key and National are delivering real opportunities for regional New Zealand. I will be working hard to ensure our communities keep a strong voice in National at the election.”

 Barbara is a shareholder and Director of 3 family owned farming businesses.

 Focused succession planning has created the opportunity for Barbara to transition from full time farming to follow her passion for the Agribusiness industry into the roles of governance, coaching, and leadership.

 In 2012 she was awarded the Inaugural Dairy Women of the Year which came with a Fonterra scholarship to participate in the Global Women’s Breakthrough Leadership Program, from which she graduated in September 2013.

Barbara is currently on the Board of Directors for DairyNZ, Dairy Training Limited, Primary ITO, New Zealand Young Farmers, Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, Te Kauta, Venture Taranaki Trust, and the Dairy Women’s Network. She is Chair of the Primary Industries Capability Alliance.

She is highly regarded in the agricultural industry and is seeking more opportunities to collaborate with other industries to promote regional growth. 

Barbara is a sought after speaker for conferences and events both within New Zealand and internationally, and is involved in many community activities. She is also a regular columnist with the NZ Farmers Weekly and does regular opinion pieces on radio.

There’s more on her website.

Rural electorates are supposedly more conservative but members in TKC have, like those in Waitaki (held by Jacqui Dean), Rangitata (Jo Goodhew) and Selwyn (Amy Adams)  in earlier years, selected a woman in a safe blue seat.

Anyone reading her biography will realise that she was chosen on her merits and has the skills and experience to make a positive difference to her electorate, in parliament and for the country.


Rural round-up

January 14, 2014

 Three vie for award’s top spot:

A Northland woman among three finalists for the 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year Award is helping train other women to take on leadership roles in agricultural organisations.

Whangarei farm accountant and 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme award winner Charmaine O’Shea is vying for the Dairy Woman of the Year Award with Waikato veterinarian Joyce Voogt and Hauraki Plains farmer Julie Pirie. They were individually interviewed by a judging panel consisting of Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board chairwoman Michelle Wilson, Global Women managing director Faye Langdon, Fonterra leadership and talent director Janette Rosanowski, DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Jenny Jago and 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year award winner Barbara Kuriger. This year’s winner will be announced at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Hamilton on March 19. . . .

Irrigation nominations sought:

Entries close at the end of this month for IrrigationNZ’s ‘Innovation in Irrigation Award’ in association with Aqualinc. The prestigious award, which comes with a $2500 prize, celebrates, encourages and promotes innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation industry.

Previous recipients include the North Otago Irrigation Company in 2012 for its ground-breaking Environmental Farm Plans which guide shareholders in good management practice for irrigation, riparian, soil, fertiliser and effluent use.

Fielding-based Precision Irrigation won the award in 2010 for its variable rate irrigation systems which more effectively target water application through the use of GPS. . .

The impact the dairying ‘revolution’ is having on New Zealand, the consequences, and the prospects - Rodney Dickens:

There is nothing new about the current high dairy export prices in that the current levels are similar to earlier peak levels in 2007/08 and 2010/11.

The left chart below shows the ANZ dairy commodity price indices measured in NZD terms and world price terms.

The much higher world prices than NZD prices in recent years reflect the negative impact of the high NZD.

In world price terms current prices are well above the levels that existed prior to 2007, with this related to a large extent to increased Chinese demand that was revealed in a Raving that looked at the massive impact China is having on a wide range of NZ commodity exports and tourism. Based on the 7 January Fonterra auction results, dairy product prices in USD terms remained high (right chart). . . .

Why should farmers and ranchers invest time in advocacy? - Agriculture Proud:

Last week, I posted an article from Forbes that is very accusatory of modern global agriculture. It’s like a laundry list of activist claims used demonize modern agriculture practices. We could spend time angrily responding to articles like this, but defensively reacting to accusations like this aren’t getting us very far. Hence my emphasis on the importance of being PROactive in reaching out, answering questions, and sharing our story with audiences willing to listen.

Part of that proactive response includes farmers, ranchers and members of the agriculture community investing time in reaching out and engaging. Often when I propose this investment to various ranchers groups across the country, I get either a blank stare or a response similar to this: . . .

Top ram’s DNA revived 30 years on - Sally Rae:

Offspring of a Romney ram, owned by Otago stud breeder David Robertson, will go through the sale ring in Gore tomorrow.

Aurora 105-84 might be long gone, but his genetics live on three decades later, thanks to what was initially a practice exercise in artificial insemination for Mr Robertson’s veterinary surgeon son.

Mr Robertson, who farms at Palmerston and is a third-generation stud-breeder, admitted it was an unusual situation. . . .

International year of family farming kicks off in Australia:

The National Farmers’ Federation and its members have hailed the start of the new year, encouraging all Australians to join with them in celebrating the International Year of Family Farming during 2014.

NFF President Brent Finlay, a family farmer from south east Queensland, said family farms remain the heart and soul of agriculture in Australia.

“Ninety nine percent of Australian farms are family owned and operated – and this year, the United Nations-declared International Year of Family Farming, gives us the opportunity to celebrate the enormous contribution these farmers make,” Mr Finlay said. . .


Rural round-up

June 8, 2013

Rules more of a worry - Marty Sharpe:

Farmers are more concerned about the economic and regulatory impacts from climate change than its physical and climatic effects, a study has found.

The study, by University of California PhD candidate Meredith Niles, involved 313 farmers in Hawke’s Bay and 177 in Marlborough.

Niles found that:

- When it came to concerns for the future, farmers were “very concerned” about more economic and policy matters such as regulation, higher fuel and energy prices, new pests and diseases and more volatile markets. . .

Meat consolidation is happening already – Tim Fulton:

The number of New Zealand sheep meat exporters using European lamb and beef quota in the past decade has fallen on the back of mergers, financial failures and new tactics. Tim Fulton reports.

A shake-up of meat processing has been churning away for years with barely a farmer involved, New Zealand Meat Board figures indicate.

The evidence for this, if not the explanation, is in the annual record of companies granted access to European sheep and goat meat quota – and also in the pattern for quota-linked United States beef and veal.

In 2003 the tally of our sheep and goat meat merchants in Europe could fill a sheet of A4 paper, listed alphabetically from Abco Meats to Wrightson. . .

Farming through future eyes - Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farmers planning the transition of their farms to the next generation can get help at a forum later this month.

A scheme that provides training for farmers in areas like governance, transition planning, financial systems and establishing health and safety programmes will be explained at a seminar in Hawera on June 20.

It is being hosted by the Taranaki branch of the Institute of Directors, and speakers will include 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year Barbara Kuriger, of New Plymouth, and Bay of Plenty corporate farmer Trevor Hamilton. . .

No deal likely for Feds, Transpower - Richard Rennie:

Despite Horticulture NZ reaching an agreement with Transpower over power line buffer zones on growers’ properties, Federated Farmers is not intending to follow the same path.

The grower group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Transpower agreeing to work with it on issues of access and land use under lines and pylons.

The memorandum follows long-running conflict between growers, farmers and Transpower as it seeks to adjust council district plans to ensure buffer zones exist around transmission infrastructure.

The conflict has been most intense in Western Bay of Plenty, with the issue about to be heard by the Environment Court. . .

Appointment of CEO At Deer Industry NZ:

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dan Coup as its new chief executive.

DINZ Chairman, Andy Macfarlane, noted that Coup, currently Trade and Economic Manager at the Meat Industry Association (MIA), has a unique background, combining an honours degree in genetics and molecular biology with an MBA. Together with his experience at MIA dealing with trade and market access issues, he is well-positioned to leverage off the outstanding work completed by outgoing chief executive, Mark O’Connor. O’Connor departs after 13 years to run his family-owned investment business. . . .

‘Mantis’ and ‘Shrimp’ the new farming robots in Oz:

Moving carefully along a row of apple trees, two of Australia’s newest agricultural workers check if the fruit is ripe or the soil needs water or fertilizer.

Meet “Mantis” and “Shrimp”, agricultural robots being tested to do these tasks and more in a bid to cut costs and improve productivity in Australia’s economically vital farm sector, which exported the U.S. equivalent of $38.8 billion of produce in 2012.

Australia is one of the leaders in the field and, with a minimum wage of about $15 U.S. an hour and a limited workforce, has a big incentive to use robots and other technology such as unmanned aircraft to improve efficiency. . .


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