Rural round-up

May 29, 2014

Speech to the B3 Better Border Biosecurity Conference - Nathan Guy:

Thank you to Better Border Biosecurity (B3) for hosting this important conference. The theme is “10 years on – Adding Value to New Zealand’s Plant Biosecurity System through Research”.

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of biosecurity to New Zealand, and the importance of scientific research to back it up.

I want to start by acknowledging the B3 partnership as a great model for working together on research.

The signed up partners include four Crown Research Institutes (CRI), a university based research entity, three government agencies, and an industry group. It’s important that it involves end-users from both government and industry.

The importance of biosecurity

Everyone here has probably heard me say many times that “biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.” Today I want to say a few words to remind why that is, and why this agreement today is so important.

The primary sector is the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy, accounting for over 70 percent of our export earnings.

It helps pay the bills for our schools, hospitals and social services, and supports many jobs in our regions and cities. . .

Farmers cream productivity profit:

ANZ Bank economist Con Williams says many people are overlooking the huge improvements in productivity dairy farmers have achieved recently.

Fonterra on Wednesday set next season’s initial forecast farmgate milk price at $7 per kilo of milk solids, which was higher than some had expected.

However, the dairy giant has cut this season’s forecast payout by 25 cents to $8.40 per kilo of milk solids. That would reduce farmers’ incomes by nearly $400 million but Mr said it represented just a little less cream from what was still a record payout.

The average annual yield per cow was close to 381kg of milk solids – a new record and about 7.5 percent ahead of trend. . .

NIWA gets down to brass tacks with farmers - Tony Benny:

National Fieldays seminar host Niwa is taking its science directly to farmers to optimise water use and lessen the negative impacts of dairy effluent.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief scientist, environmental information, Jochen Schmidt, said the organisation has moved its focus to the one-on-one farmer level gradually over the past five years. 

“This is definitely an area that we’re strategically pushing at the moment. The minister [Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce] is our shareholder and that’s what he told us because the growth agenda is out there and we want to ensure our primary sector is growing while sustainably managing the environment. . .

 

StockSense workshops take pressure off calving:

DairyNZ is running 19 StockSense events in June and July to help farmers prepare for the calving season.

The events are split into two workshops – one for junior staff and one for senior staff – with each workshop focusing on developing skills to help the calving season go well and reduce stress.

Humane slaughter on-farm and udder health will be the focus of the senior level workshop.

DairyNZ’s animal husbandry and welfare team manager, Chris Leach, says the humane slaughter topic is particularly timely due to the expected change in the animal welfare code and the implications for farmers.

“Farmers need to understand what’s expected of them,” says Chris.

The senior workshop will also focus on actions owners and managers can take to reduce stress for themselves and their teams, to help calving go smoothly.

“The workshop will provide tips and tricks to stay healthy during the busy period. Being prepared and staying healthy eases stress and will make for an easier spring,” says Chris. . .

New report shows PGP delivering major benefits:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the findings of an independent report into the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), which estimates it will add $6.4 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The NZIER report further concludes that the PGP has the potential to achieve an additional $4.7 billion per annum by 2025 if all the R&D is successful, the aspirational stretch of PGP programmes is achieved, and the innovations are widely uptaken. 

“This would add up to $11.1 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The PGP is about supporting innovation in the primary industries, which are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy – accounting for over 70% of our merchandise exports. There are currently 18 announced programmes jointly funded by industry and government.” . .

Steak stakes double success:

Ballyhooley Beef has done it again – winning best retail brand with the Murray Grey meat at the Steak of Origin competition last week in Feilding.

But this year, Winton farmer Barry Macdonald and his beef have done one better, as his steak was chosen as the tastiest by the public, also winning the people’s choice award.

In what was a first for the competition, Mr Macdonald’s steak was put up against the other 19 finalists to see which the public liked best. . .

2013 winner a bachelor no more - Sonita Chandar:

Sorry ladies, it’s official – 2013 Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Simon Washer is now spoken for.

However, a whole new group of eligible young men are set to strut their stuff at the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays in June.

Washer only entered the competition by default as his fellow members of the local young farmers’ club balked at the idea of entering.

“I was the chairman of the club at the time the entry form came through and when I asked the guys if anyone was interested in entering, they all gave me a dirty look,  pointed the finger at me and then nominated me so I didn’t really have much of a choice. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 7, 2014

Farmers ‘need to meet minimum standards’:

Farm employment issues will be high on the agenda at Dairy New Zealand’s farmers forum in Waikato on Wednesday and Thursday.

Dairy NZ is responding to farmers’ requests to provide some practical guidance following a recent survey by labour inspectors found most of the farms checked were breaking employment rules. Most of the breaches related to record-keeping.

The organisation, along with Federated Farmers, is seeking changes to the minimum wage order so farmers can average out their employee’s pay over a fortnight rather than a week. . .

Rural lending growth may slow after dairy-fuelled expansion – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s rural lending, which more than doubled to an all-time high of $50.6 billion in the past decade on dairy farm expansion, may slow as farmers use record milk payouts to reduce debt, spurred on by rising interest rates.

In the past 10 years to June 30, 2013, agricultural debt has risen mostly due to the dairy sector where lending has almost tripled to $32.4 billion. The surge in lending to the dairy industry far exceeds the $1.4 billion debt owed by sheep farmers and $1.2 billion accrued by beef cattle farmers, according to Reserve Bank figures.

Dairy sector lending has soared as farmers have invested in converting land to dairy farming to take advantage of high milk prices and the associated strong growth in farm land prices, the central bank said in its last Financial Stability report in November. Indebted dairy farmers will be weighing up using high dairy payouts to pay down debt or increase farm investment in anticipation of a positive outlook, it said. Since then, the bank has begun to raise interest rates, hiking the benchmark twice in as many months, and milk prices have weakened in response to increased production. . .

Passionate about the Perendale – Sally Rae:

Ask Duncan Smith why he has stuck with the Perendale breed and the answer is succinct.

”They are just so tough and they just don’t die,” Mr Smith, who farms Islay Downs, on the Pigroot, said.

Mr Smith and his wife Claire are among the four entrants in the Sir Geoffrey Peren Cup competition, judged on farm last month and held in conjunction with Perendale New Zealand’s national conference in Otago this week.

The winner will be announced during the conference. It was Mr Smith’s late father, Ross, who took up the Perendale breed in the late 1970s. He was a ”very staunch Perendale man”. . .

Breed event in Otago – Sally Rae:

More than 60 registrations from throughout New Zealand have been received for Perendale New Zealand’s national conference in Otago this week.

Planning for the annual event, which alternates between the North and South islands, began nearly a year ago. The conference begins on Thursday with registrations and a dinner.

On Friday, there is a bus tour to South Otago, visiting the Mitchell family’s Hillcrest stud at Clinton, and the Gardner family’s stud near Balclutha. There will also be a visit to AgResearch’s Invermay research centre, and to the Elders woolstore to view a wool competition. . . .

 

NAIT helping graziers keep up to date:

Farmers grazing stock this season can keep track of their animals by ensuring their NAIT records are up to date.

“It’s important to record all off-farm movements of stock to grazing blocks and confirm with NAIT when the animals arrive back on your property,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI New Zealand Group Manager, Programme Design and Farm Operations.

“NAIT tags provide a unique identification number for each animal, which can help farmers verify that the same animals they sent for grazing are the ones they are getting back.” . .  .

Small-scale pest control still helps:

A study of rat poisoning in small forest blocks has shown that pest control on a small-scale can still provide a huge boost to native bird populations.

The six year study was carried out by Massey University researchers who analysed the effects of rat control in 19 blocks near Bennydale in the King Country.

It showed that small-scale control increased the number of North Island robins by 50 percent on average each year and also helped other species favoured by rats . . .

Federated Farmers initiative makes employing easy:

Federated Farmers has developed a New Employers Pack to help first time employers meet their employment obligations and develop better working relationships on farm.

“We want all employers to be able to put their best foot forward and this pack allows them to do that,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson.

“The New Employers Pack is in response to an overwhelming demand for it from our members. In a member survey 97 percent wanted an employment pack produced. So Federated Farmers has created one, which helps farmers get it right from the very start, and that ticks all the boxes.

“As a farmer myself, I know farmers would prefer to know they are doing it right and understand what is required of them. This pack is designed for all farm types so I know all farmers will jump at this innovative employment pack. . . .

Rural Equities lifts stake in Tandou to 21% after rights issue:

Rural Equities, the farming group controlled by the Cushing family, has lifted its stake in Tandou after taking up its entitlement in the ASX-listed agribusiness’s three-for-eight rights offer.

Entities associated with Rural Equities now hold 21 percent, up from the 17.7 percent owned in August. Tandou’s offer at 47 Australian cents a share closed on April 28. Shareholders subscribed for about A$13.5 million of the A$25.2 million sought. Underwriter Petra Capital made up the shortfall of about A$11.7 million, placing the stock with institutions and professional investors.

Tandou shares last traded at 46.5 Australian cents on the ASX and have gained about 12 percent in the past year. They are rated a ‘strong buy’ based on two analysts polled by Reuters. . . .

Zabeel Mares Highlight NZB Broodmare Sale:

A prime opportunity for new players to enter the breeding game and for existing breeders to expand their portfolio is presented by New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Broodmare Sale, next week (13 May) at Karaka.

There are 209 broodmares catalogued for sale by leading damsires from New Zealand, Australia and further afield, in foal to proven and exciting young sires.

One of the highlights of the Sale will be the 12 broodmare entries by legendary sire Zabeel. The recently retired Cambridge Stud stallion is the damsire of 24 individual Group 1 winners including Dundeel (High Chaparral), Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock),Silent Achiever (O’Reilly), Go Indy Go(Bernardini) and O’Marilyn (O’Reilly) this season. . . .


Rural round-up

February 26, 2014

Govt invests $540,000 in Lake Horowhenua clean-up:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government will invest $540,000 towards cleaning up Lake Horowhenua.

Combined with funding from Horizon’s Regional Council and Horowhenua District Council, as well as in-kind contributions from Dairy NZ and the Tararua Growers’ Association, the total funding for the project will be $1.27 million.

The project will improve the water quality through sediment and nutrient management on the lake and its tributaries, improving water quality for recreation and wild life.

The project includes stream fencing, planting, building a wetland, harvesting lake weeds, and developing farm plans. . .

Irrigation supplies shut-down begins:

Irrigation water supplies to some parts of Marlborough are being shut down as the continuing hot, dry weather takes its toll on river levels.

The Marlborough District Council is advising property owners that water for irrigation is being shut off to about 5000 hectares of farmland and vineyards along the Wairau River.

Further Wairau consents, including all those from the Southern Valleys Irrigation Scheme, were expected to be cut off by today.

Waihopai consents will be suspended in the next day or two.

The shutdown is necessary slightly earlier than last year because there has been no real rain since Christmas. . .

 

Safety group astonished as farmers flout helmet law - Sue O’Dowd:

Worksafe New Zealand has savaged organisers of a farmers’ day out for failing to require helmets on quad bikes in Taranaki hill country.

About 200 people visited Aotuhia Station when Beef + Lamb New Zealand – the farmer-owned industry organisation representing New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers – hosted what it called a Big Day Out last week.

Only about five people on a cavalcade of bikes touring the 2240ha Aotuhia Station, 65km east of Stratford, wore helmets, and many riders carried passengers.

Worksafe New Zealand would have issued enforcement notices to the organisers, those not wearing helmets and those carrying passengers if it had been there, quad bike national programme manager Francois Barton said yesterday. . . .

Eyes wide open – James Houghton:

Employment relationships are a key factor in setting a positive working environment and ensuring your farm is productive. The general work relationships in rural New Zealand have been traditionally informal. This has had to change with stronger workplace protection for employees.  It means the farm employer has had to learn new skills, involving contractual agreements and human resources.

When it comes to dairy agreements with sharemilkers, who are arguably what makes New Zealand dairying so successful; there have been breakdowns between some employers and their sharemilker.  Sharemilking is a hybrid between self-employment and employment but that hasn’t stopped some harsh treatments of sharemilkers. Such as an employer not honouring either a handshake agreement or misusing clauses in their agreement, which causes sheer misery for the sharemilker involved.

Over the past year, Federated Farmers has been revising the industry standard Herd Owing Sharemilking Agreement, looking to remove outdated clauses and with it, issues within the industry like harsh treatment, which may deter new entrants. . .

Strong growth and profitability increases from PGG Wrightson:

PGG Wrightson Ltd* (PGW) has announced a strong half-year performance under its new Chief Executive.

For the six-months ended 31 December 2013, PGW achieved operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Operating EBITDA)** of $22.3 million, up from $18.0 million for the corresponding period last year.

Mark Dewdney, who took up the role of PGW Chief Executive on 1 July 2013, called it a strong result with increases recorded across most areas of the business. . .

New Zealand Drives Global Pet Addiction:

Imagine a Singaporean company making premium pet food from possums in the Bay of Plenty and exporting successfully for eight years. That’s what Jerel Kwek of Addiction Foods has accomplished, along with a vision to improve pet nutrition globally.

While cats and dogs around the world have fallen for Addiction, it’s only now with a recent plant upgrade in Te Puke that Kwek can make his natural NZ pet food available in the NZ market.

Addiction use a selection of premium proteins and game meats, including New Zealand possum to produce a range of dry and raw dehydrated natural foods designed to prevent allergies and promote long-term health in cats and dogs. . .

Loan package to grow pasture productivity:

New Zealand’s largest rural lender today launched a lending package for farmers wanting toboost farm productivity by improving pasture and forage growth.

ANZ Bank’s Pasture Productivity Loan offers an interest rate of 4%* p.a with a maximumloan amount of $100,000. The maximum loan term is five years, principal reducing, andthere are no establishment fees.

“Renewing pasture and forage is one of the key things red meat farmers can do to improveproductivity and profit,” said Graham Turley, ANZ Managing Director Commercial & Agri. . .


Rural round-up

November 1, 2013

Drone helps Southland farmers check on stock – Dave Goosselink:

A Southland farming family have employed a set of digital eyes to help keep track of their stock.

They’re using a remote-controlled drone fitted with cameras to fly over their large farm, counting sheep and looking out for problems.

There are over 4000 sheep and cattle on the Gardyne family’s farm, and it was 13-year-old Mark who suggested turning to technology.

“Dad and I were watching TV and we saw the drones in Afghanistan for the military purposes and we decided how we could use that in agriculture,” says Mark Gardyne. . . .

Allan Barber:

The announcement by Silver Fern Farms of the reopening of its Finegand, Balclutha, casings plant eight years after it closed is an interesting example of history repeating itself. Of particular interest are the reasons behind resuscitating an operation which nobody would ever have foreseen as likely.

The first part of the explanation is both simple and inexplicable: simple because China has stopped accepting any shipments of green runners (sheep and lamb intestines) which were processed into sausage casings, inexplicable because nobody seems to know why. The second component of the explanation is belief by SFF that it can amalgamate substantial volumes of green runners from its South Island plants and add value to them profitably in the new facility. . . .

Progress for irrigation in Otago and Rangitikei:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Government on their commitment to sustainable irrigation in New Zealand.

“The Government’s $850,000 investment into the Central Otago and Rangitkei projects, through their Irrigation Acceleration Fund, will go a long way to improving these provinces economically and socially. It also bodes well for getting it right from the beginning,” says Ian MacKenzie, Federated Farmers Water Spokesperson.

“The potential for these provinces to develop and profit from a more reliable irrigation source is huge – with only two percent of our rainfall used for irrigation right now. It also will play a major part in reaching the goal to double our exports by 2025. . .

Iconic lake benefits from weed control:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says great progress is being made to improve the health of Lake Wanaka through efforts to rid it of a noxious weed.

Lagarosiphon, also known as South African oxygen weed, chokes waterways, smothers native aquatic plant communities and it establishes quickly if left untreated.

Weed control at Lake Wanaka is carried out by a lagarosiphon management committee, led by Land Information New Zealand. . .

Stable wool pricing needed – Wools of New Zealand:

At an estimated average production cost of $4.50/kilo of greasy wool, cross bred wool growers have had only two years of profitable returns over the past decade, continuing a 30-year downward cycle.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, says the numbers make for sober reading. “The industry’s primary concern has to be with price volatility. When there’s a price spike manufacturers switch away from wool, eroding demand and fuelling further volatility. Wools of New Zealand have developed a stable pricing model designed to stabilise prices for growers and customers alike, which over time will provide incremental growth in demand and ultimately returns at farm gate.”

Writing in the just released Wools of New Zealand annual report – the first since the company’s successful capital raise was completed in February this year – Mr Shadbolt notes that the company has developed two six month stable price contracts direct with customers. . .

New programme to unlock Northland’s primary industry potential:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched a new programme to help unlock the potential for primary industry growth in Northland today.

“This is the start of a wider programme by the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with regions to help them further develop industries like agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and aquaculture.

“We chose to start with Northland because it has significant potential, with a good climate and a vast tracts of land suitable for further development,” says Mr Guy.

MPI is already working with two Māori-owned farms in Northland. One involves the conversion of 270 hectares of Māori land to a dairy farm. The other involves providing technical support for a 2480 hectare dairy and beef farm to increase productivity, with the support of key partners including Landcorp, Dairy NZ and Te Tumu Paeroa. . .

Special Year as 2014 Dairy Awards Entries Open:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are accepting entries in what is likely to be the most memorable awards competition to date.

National convenor Chris Keeping says the 2014 awards coincide with the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition – the country’s longest running dairy farming contest.

“We are taking some time to celebrate this achievement and are enjoying the trip down memory lane as we see where some of our past winners, entrants, judges and organisers are now. What has become apparent is the long lasting effect and impact their association with the contest has had on them and their dairy farming career.” . . .

Give it up for the dairy industry’s Oscars – Willy Leferink:

What do you call the dairy industry’s Oscars, Emmy’s or the Canon Media Awards all rolled into one? It’s the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

These awards are much more than a night for farmers to don a tux and hit the big smoke, although Auckland is where the finals are being held in 2014. Next year also happens to be the 25th Anniversary of the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition. For those who don’t know much about sharemilking it is a unique New Zealand pathway into farming. There is lower order sharemilking which is the first rung on the ladder before progressing onto 50/50 sharemilking. There is also equity partnership, where a farmer manages the farm and draws a salary but also has an equity stake in the farm business. All three forms are businesses and mean people with little money but a great work ethic can make a great future for themselves and their family.

In order to recognise the best in our industry is why 25 years ago, Federated Farmers ran the very first Sharemilker of the Year competition in Stratford. . .

Award-Winning Amisfield Wine Company Ownership Returns to Its Roots:

Leading New Zealand businessman John Darby recently announced he has become the sole shareholder of multi award-winning Amisfield Wine Company.

Mr Darby, who was previously a majority shareholder, assumed full ownership following the buyout of other shareholders.

Founded in 1988 and originally known as Lake Hayes Wines, vines were first planted on 110 hectares of vineyards in Gibbston Valley in the early 1990s. . . .

New HALO reds show Hawke’s Bay’s class:

Hawke’s Bay’s classic red wine characteristics shine through in two Sacred Hill HALO premium red wines from the 2012 vintage, released this week.

Named after the distinctive halo in Sacred Hill’s logo, the HALO range has earned a reputation for handcrafted, richly textured wines and the Sacred Hill HALO Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2012 and HALO Syrah 2012 continue that tradition.

Chief winemaker Tony Bish says the wines are made from small parcel selections of fruit from Sacred Hill’s best vineyards. . .


Rural round-up

May 4, 2013

How to drought-proof NZ as drought gets worse – Waiology:

For the most part, droughts are natural events. Rainfall and river flows wax and wane, and there will be times when there just isn’t enough water to fully meet our needs, whether to grow crops or to quench a city’s thirst.

And when it comes down to it, that’s really the best definition of a drought: when water supply is insufficient to meet demand. If no rain falls on the land, and there is no-one there to go thirsty, is it a problem? But there is a growing part of drought that isn’t natural. Increases in water use, beyond the capacity of the environment to supply the water, have led to what are called “demand-driven droughts”. . .

Sheep and Beef Sector Increases Eco-efficiency:

New research shows the New Zealand sheep and beef sector has a much lighter environmental footprint than in the past.
 
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says a recent paper by Dr Alec McKay, published in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Grasslands Association, used the Overseer model to look at the changes in the relationship between inputs (eg, livestock numbers, nutrients) and outputs (eg, meat and fibre, greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate).
 
The research was conducted using the Ministry for Primary Industries sheep and beef farm monitoring models that cover hard hill country (Gisborne and Central North Island) and easy hill finishing (Manawatu) over the last 20 years. . .

Feilding Meat Industry Meeting Generates More Meetings:

So successful was the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) meeting in Feilding last Friday, 26 April, where 700 farmers met  to establish a mandate for meat industry change, that further meetings are to be held in Gisborne and Te Kuiti..
 
Local organising Chairman and newly elected MIE executive member, John McCarthy, said that there was great support at the Fielding meeting from all over the lower North Island; “we got twice as many farmers to the meeting than we had originally planned for,” he added.
 
As a consequence, further meetings are being planned for Gisborne on 15 May and Te Kuiti on 17 May.  Details of these will be released next week. . .

Career Progression Support For Keen Dairy Farmers:

Registrations of interest have opened for DairyNZ’s popular Progression Groups taking place nationwide in 2013.

Since their launch, specialist discussion groups Biz Start and Biz Grow, have attracted more than 500 dairy farm managers, sharemilkers and owners, who are keen to build their skills and progress their career in the dairy industry.

Attendees at one of the first Biz Grow groups, Russell and Charlotte Heald (lower order sharemilkers from Central Hawke’s Bay) said the group was particularly good for meeting others who also want to get ahead and achieve more. . .

Skellerup cuts annual earnings forecast as drought hits agri business:

Skellerup, the industrial rubber goods maker, has cut its annual earnings guidance for a second time after the drought across the North Island sapped demand at its agri business as farmers put off buying until next season.

The Auckland-based company expects net profit of $17 million in the year ended June 30, down from trimmed down guidance of $20 million it gave in February, from a previous forecast range of between $22 million and $24 million. The manufacturer blamed the drought for weaker local demand, and also signalled its North American and European sales were tracking below forecasts. . .

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Land & Water Forum’s final report generally welcomed

November 16, 2012

The Land and Water Forum’s final report fleshes out the detail of a new consensus for a major reform of water laws and practices in New Zealand,”  Forum chair, Alastair Bisley, said.

“The breadth of this consensus provides a once in a generation chance to resolve the entrenched problems surrounding fresh water.”

The Forum is recommending integrated decision-making in catchments, continuous improvement of management practices and clearer rights to take and use water within set limits.

Mr Bisley said: “Our reports together provide a comprehensive and detailed blueprint to maximise opportunities from fresh water for us all – farmers and fishers, power generators and recreationalists, citizens and tourists, cities and industries.

We want to grow the economy and improve the environment. Our recommendations apply to both urban and rural catchments. They provide for iwi to play their role as Treaty Partners and stakeholders.

“We call for community decisions at catchment level – within national frameworks and bottom lines from central Government.”

The Forum proposes a collaborative approach at both national and catchment levels to set and implement objectives for waterways, prescribe limits for takes and discharges where these are required, and to find fair, efficient and accountable ways to implement the limits.

“The Forum believes all water quality solutions should be tailored to individual catchments,” said Mr Bisley.

“Good management practice by land and water users is the basic tool. Incentivising it is the preferred approach. Regions are accountable for managing within limits. Industry schemes, catchment-wide initiatives and regulation may all help to ensure the limits are achieved within the agreed timeframes.

“Water available for users once limits have been set should be allocated with long-term economic welfare in mind.

“All authorised takes should be brought progressively within the allocation system.

“As catchments become fully allocated, consents should be clarified and strengthened to preserve their value. Water should be made more easily transferable between users while limits are preserved.” . . .

He described the report as a once in a generation opportunity :

 . . . While there were some notable non-signatories to the outcomes of the four year experiment in consensus decision-making, the forum managed to get 95 percent of its 60-plus members from industry, local government, iwi, environmental groups, recreational users and farmers across the line on 67 recommendations.

Among signatories are the national farming lobby, Federated Farmers, although their objection to any system requiring water rents saw the forum make no recommendation in that area.

The system it promotes would see the government establish national guidelines and standards for freshwater catchment management, which would be used by regional councils as the foundation for collaborative processes at a local level to establish “scarcity thresholds” for freshwater resources. . .

Dairy NZ has welcomed the report:

DairyNZ says the key to setting and managing to water quality limits is collaborative decision-making at a catchment level.

Commenting today on the release of the final Land and Water Forum (LAWF) report, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says, “We recognise, as the LAWF report does, that this kind of community-driven catchment process needs to become the centre of water quality and quantity management.

“That is how we will make a difference to water quality – catchment by catchment across the country. Communities understand that, because people can relate any impact to the place where they live and work and their local waterway, so will take some ownership of the actions.”

He says that dairy farmers are already involved in these kinds of processes throughout New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Third Land And Water Forum Report:

The final report from the Land and Water Forum strikes a balance between preservation and production, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

As a member of the forum we sought recognition for sheep and beef farmers as stewards of our rural land, while preserving opportunities for those who manage water sustainably.

It has been a long and complex process, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand Western North Island Farmer Director, Kirsten Bryant. “But, ultimately, one in which the voices of water users of all different types have been heard and in which we have all worked together for the good of all of New Zealand.”

She welcomed the emphasis throughout the process on local people making local decisions, within a national framework. . .

Meridian Energy also welcomes the report:

Meridian Energy today welcomed the release of the Land and Water Forum’s (LAWF’s) third report.

Chief Executive Mark Binns congratulated the Forum for pulling together a complex and diverse group of water interests.

“There are a range of views on the right approach to manage New Zealand’s fresh water resources. This forum has enabled all parties to put their views on the table,” says Mr Binns.

“Recognition should go to Chair Alistair Bisley and all Forum members for their four year collaboration. The result is three quality reports that will help improve water management for New Zealand.”

The water allocation report marks the conclusion of the Forum’s work. “LAWF’s collaboration provides an opportunity for making positive change to the way New Zealand manages its water. This framework is capable of protecting the environment and enabling economic growth,” says Mr Binns.  . .

Business NZ says the recommendations are positive:

The third report of the Land and Water Forum brings useful recommendations for improving New Zealand’s freshwater management, says BusinessNZ.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said water was essential for many business activities which drive New Zealand’s economy and on which many New Zealanders rely for employment and income growth.

“Businesses require the confidence to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects knowing their rights to use water are clearly understood and secure.

“Investors are risk averse and any changes in the right to take or use water over time need to be clearly understood.

“It is important that transfer and trade in water rights are facilitated to the extent possible allowing water to move to its highest valued use, without unnecessary restrictions from regulators.”

Fish and Game says cherry picking would derail a water clean up:

Fish & Game NZ says the release of the third and final Land and Water Forum (LWF) report will only have an impact on improving freshwater management if the Government accepts all of the Forum’s recommendations, which are interconnected, and not pick and choose those which suit.

In these three reports the Government now has the bones of a blueprint – reached by consensus – for how to manage the public water resource, says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“All three reports must be treated as a package deal,” he says. “LWF’s second report recommended the need for a national objectives framework for water quality but the Government took it upon itself to develop these outside the forum framework. We’ve never had reasonable justification for that decision, which is odd given all the expertise was around the LWF table.

“LWF has been deliberating on these issues to reach a consensus for fouryears now and during that time freshwater quality and quantity has continued to deteriorate,” says Mr Johnson. . .

Federated Farmers supports the recommendations:

“Despite what is said at times about our environment, we must never forget we still enjoy some of the highest quality water on earth,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesman.

“LawF recommendations are about setting a pathway to protect and over time, improve our already high water quality. It is about better managing our most precious natural resource to fulfil our social, economic, environmental and cultural needs.

“Farmers support this aspiration and Federated Farmers is committed to playing our part in achieving it.

“We know the way we farm will need to change. Perhaps what needs to be fully understood is that change is also needed beyond agriculture. LawF covers all water, rural or urban, so we are all in this together.

“At the heart of LawF recommendations is for communities to adopt a collaborative process in setting water quality limits. This mirrors the one we have gone through on LawF itself. It is a very good way to understand issues in depth.

“Any collaborative process must be genuinely informed by what limits mean for individual communities. It is about striking a balance between what is feasible and what is not.

“Federated Farmers does take issue with some regional councils rushing to set limits. This fails to inform or involve the community in what will affect jobs, a community’s standard of living, or for that matter, its makeup.

“There are also some local councils who believe they ought to be exempted because they cannot achieve limit objectives and therefore, shouldn’t have to. It is the kind of thinking some farmers may have harboured decades ago, but not now.

“For agriculture, the regulatory process should embed Good Management Practice (GMP), the inclusion of farm environmental plans and where appropriate, Audited Self Management (ASM).

“Good Management Practice provides a holistic way to address water quality issues than the nitrate myopic approach suggested by many regional councils.

“Good Management Practice should further help communities decide where limits should be set, so as not to cause social and economic damage. I guess this is about empowering communities to find the right balance.

“LawF recommendations are a roadmap and Federated Farmers supports them,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

Te Wai Maori Trust says the report is a practical and sensible solution to fresh water management:

New Zealand’s future as a leading primary sector producer as well as our nation’s 100% Pure New Zealand brand depends on our ability to sustainably manage the valuable fresh water resource. The third report of the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), released today, provides a responsible yet practical way forward to freshwater management, the Te Wai Maori Trust says.

Te Wai Maori Chairman Ken Mair today called on the Government to implement the recommendations, which found that iwi rights and interests must be resolved for any freshwater management regime to be stable and durable in the future.

“There are a range of competing uses for fresh water throughout the country – from dairying to crop farming, urban demands to tourism uses. But the Government will not be able to resolve them in a durable manner until it engages with iwi over Maori rights and interests in fresh water,” Mr Mair said. . .

Regional councils say the report cements their role:

Chair of the regional sector group Fran Wilde said the report cements the role of regional councils in managing New Zealand’s freshwater resource and highlights the need for a more supportive national framework for collaborative decision-making.

“Regional councils are at the forefront of water management and use a variety of methods to manage and enhance water quality,” said Ms Wilde.

“There is strong support among councils for collaborative decision-making regarding water quality management and we have a number of successful examples of this in action.” . .

Environmental Defence Society endorses Land and Water Forum Report:

The release of the third and final report from the Land and Water Forum has been welcomed and endorsed by the Environmental Defence Society.

The Forum originated at the 2008 EDS Conference where an initial support group from a wide range of interests, including farming and environmental, agreed to try and find a better way of managing freshwater.

“It’s been a long road since then, with the Government getting behind the exercise and the core group expanding to include representation from all key stakeholders and from iwi. Four years on there is now a package of measures that need to be taken together and implemented by Government,” said EDS Chair Gary Taylor. . .

However, Irrigation NZ says last minute changes weaken the report:

IrrigationNZ says last minute changes to the Land and Water Forum’s Third Report, ‘Managing Within Limits’, have weakened its integrity.

“IrrigationNZ has spent the past year collaborating in good faith to reach agreement on how water quantity and quality is best managed in NZ. A package that provided a sound platform to support sustainable future growth in New Zealand had been produced. However, last minute changes, particularly to the water allocation section, mean IrrigationNZ now questions whether the Land & Water Forum is the collaborative consensus- based process it claims to be?” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

While Mr Curtis says there are many positives within the final report, including the need for; community-driven catchment-based water management; industry ‘Good Management Practice’ as the preferred route; development of community water infrastructure to address over-allocation; and a move to plan-led water management – IrrigationNZ has major concerns about parts of the water allocation chapter.

Certainty is the key if irrigators are to invest in sustainability. Irrigators need long-duration consents and an explicit right of renewal,” says Curtis. “Short durations and uncertainty of renewal will produce reactive and high- risk thinking which creates scenarios prohibitive to capital investment. If the community wants environmental gains without job losses or food price increases, then New Zealand must implement a resource management system that allows for long-term investment and thinking.”

There is also a need for community-driven water infrastructure solutions to be consented for over 50 years. This would improve the viability of initial and on-going capital investment. In return for this, IrrigationNZ agrees consents need to adapt in a timely manner to environmental limit changes. “This is the most logical package for water allocation,” says Curtis. Having recently returned from an overseas study tour of irrigation developments in the UK, Israel and Australia he says, “It is also consistent with water allocation internationally.”

“Irrigators have committed to more sustainable farming practices. Certainty, long-term thinking and catchment-based water management are the only way water quality and quantity objectives set by the wider community will be achieved in New Zealand.”

The full report can be downloaded  here.


Rural round-up

May 20, 2012

Good news for sheep farmers – Sally Rae:

Rabobank animal protein analyst Rebecca Redmond has a message for New Zealand sheep farmers – stay positive and remain confident.   

Ms Redmond spoke about global sheep meat price rises and the potential flow-on effects on international production and  competition during a recent client focus field day at Newhaven Perendales in North Otago.   

The year 2012, worldwide, was probably going to be the lowest point in terms of sheep meat production, but Ms Redmond expected that by 2015, volumes would be back to 2010 levels. . .   

PM says agriculture must focus on quality:

QUALITY agricultural produce coming out of New Zealand is critically important and we have got to maintain that quality and leverage it for all it’s worth, said Prime Minister John Key in his address to Gisborne-Wairoa Federated Farmers’ AGM in Gisborne.

Intensification, the use of new science and technologies to combat global warming and market access are the key ways the government can help NZ farmers meet the  demands of the world rapidly increasing requirement for protein, Mr Key said.

“Both Fonterra and Federated Farmers have clearly understood the need to be mindful of the environmental outcomes from intensification, and how bad outcomes can affect our markets. . .

Vaccines are in his blood - Marg Willimott:

PRODUCING innovative products using sheep and cattle blood is an example of a successful farming business taking farm products to the high end of the value chain.

South Pacific Sera is a company that produces top quality donor animal blood, serum and protein products for use in therapeutic, cell culture, microbiology and immunology applications around the world.  . .

New Zealand and Australia join forces at World Farmers’:

Federated Farmers of New Zealand and the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) have today announced that they will both apply for membership of international agricultural advocacy body, the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO).

The WFO will bring together national farming bodies from across the globe to create policy and advocate on behalf of the world’s farmers – providing benefits to both Australian and New Zealand farmers, says NFF President Jock Laurie and Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills.

“Since the demise of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers two years ago, farm representation on an international scale has been at a crossroads,” Mr Wills said. . .

Innovative Kiwi company revolutionises viticulture practices worldwide:

An innovative New Zealand company has developed a pruning system that recently won two major European trade awards and has been described by European media as a revolutionary step in mechanising viticulture that has the potential to change vineyard practices.

Marlborough based KLIMA developed the world’s first Cane Pruner, a machine that cuts, strips and mulches grapevines – jobs that until now have always been carried out by hand.  In addition to giving grape growers better control over vine quality, The KLIMA Cane Pruner reduces labour costs associated with pruning by around 50 per cent. 

KLIMA Managing Director Marcus Wickham says the KLIMA pruning system and machine have proven popular because they take the pain out of pruning, substantially reduce grape growers’ pruning costs and provide a rapid return on their investment. . .

Centuries of farm ownership marked – Helena de Reus:

About 200 people gathered in Lawrence at the New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards on Saturday night, to honour families who have owned the same farm for a century or more.   

Twenty-five families attended the official function at the Simpson Park complex, with four families receiving  sesquicentennial awards marking 150 years or more of farm ownership.   

Two appointments made to Dairy Women’s Network Board:

The Dairy Women’s Network has appointed two new independent Trustees to join its board – including the first male to join the Board’s ranks since the Network was established in 1998.

The two new voluntary Trustees are Neal Shaw from Ashburton, and Leonie Ward from Wellington. . .

Pastoral Dairy Investments cans public offer:

Pastoral Dairy Investments, a company associated with farm management firm MyFarm, has canned plans for an initial public offering after failing to attract its minimum $25 million subscription.

The company won’t extend its closing offer from today after indications of interest didn’t translate into actual investment, it said in a statement. PDI was offering 25 million shares plus oversubscriptions at $1 apiece, and was also seeking $50 million from high net worth individuals.

“We suspect that this lack of demand is mainly due to general investor caution related to the current uncertain economic climate and a lack of familiarity with dairy farming as an asset class,” spokesman Neil Craig said. . .

Milestone in pasture evaluation to be unveiled:

A rating system for pasture grasses based on economic performance, to be known as the DairyNZ Forage Value Index, will be unveiled to dairy farmers in Hamilton this Thursday [May 24] at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum.

The creation of the Forage Value Index is considered a significant and valuable milestone for the future profitability of the dairy industry in New Zealand.

DairyNZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Productivity, Dr Bruce Thorrold, will be presenting the new Forage Value Index to the Farmers’ Forum along with the President of NZPBRA (New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association) Dr Brian Patchett. . .

NZ producers receive lower prices in 1Q on falling commodity prices, strong dollar:

New Zealand producers were squeezed in the first quarter, receiving lower prices for their products as global commodity prices fell and the kiwi dollar remained strong, while their input prices rose.

The Producers Price Index’s output prices, which measure the price received for locally produced goods and services, fell 0.1 percent in the three months ended March 31, Statistics New Zealand said.

Prices received by food manufacturers fell 1.4 percent in the quarter, leading the decline, due to “lower international prices for meat and dairy products compounded by the appreciating dollar during the period,” Statistics NZ said. . .

Producers’ Price index: March 2012 key facts:

In the March 2012 quarter, compared with the December 2011 quarter:

Prices received by producers (outputs) fell 0.1 percent. • Manufacturing was the key contributor to the fall, with meat and dairy product prices down.
• Sheep, beef, and dairy farming output prices were down. • Electricity and gas supply prices were up 6.9 percent. . .

Prices paid by producers (inputs) rose 0.3 percent. • Higher electricity generator prices were the largest contributor to the inputs PPI. • Food manufacturers paid lower prices for livestock and milk. The manufacturing inputs price index was down 1.2 percent. . .


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