Rural round-up

July 29, 2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua - Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands -

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


Rural round-up

July 28, 2014

Farmers make energy and water savings – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers stand to make big savings on both electricity and water if they introduce energy-efficient measures to their irrigation systems.

Twelve farmers who took part in a recent pilot project could save an average of $7444 a year on electricity. On average, they would have to spend $25,888 on upgrading their systems, but the payback period would be just 3.5 years.

The farmers found they could significantly cut the amount of water they used, between 10 and 15 days over a six-month season, providing further energy savings because irrigators were not needed.

Nationwide, irrigation uses about 2.5 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity for pressurised spray systems covering 625,151 hectares. . .

Work starts on Northland flood clean-up – Hugh Stringleman:

Task Force Green work teams will begin clearing up this week after prolonged storms and floods in Northland.

Three teams of four, plus a supervisor, have been trained in equipment safety and will be clearing fences, removing flood debris from paddocks, and cutting up fallen trees in commercial orchards.

Two of the government-funded Task Force Green teams would be based in Whangarei and the other in Kaikohe, Rural Support Trust Northland co-ordinator Julie Jonker said.

Farmers and orchardists with severe damage had been asked to advise the trust to get a clearer picture of the needs, she said. . .

European Union changes might help Kiwi cause – Nigel Stirling:

The inward-looking culture of farming in the European Union is changing.

That augured well for New Zealand’s chances of a long-awaited free-trade agreement (FTA), but the case still needed to be made how such an agreement could benefit Europe, the union’s top official in this country said.

NZ’s large footprint as an agricultural producer has been a big factor in it being put at the back of the queue for a trade deal with the EU.   . .

Eye-in-the-sky scrutiny monitors winter crops – Allison Beckham:

Environment Southland staff are assessing the most cost-effective way to map land planted in winter forage crops using satellite imagery, after a pilot study last year showed the most accurate method was also the most expensive.

The council wanted to map the extent of crops such as kale and swedes, the use of which was known to lift levels of soil contaminants including nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E.coli, council soil and science programme co-ordinator George Ledgard said. . . .

Paddock to plate, and smart roads possible:

New Zealand’s international brand and exports could grow significantly with the creation of a data sharing ‘eco-system’ according to paper released by the NZ Data Futures Forum today.

Food traceability or ‘paddock to plate’ tracking is one of a number of kick start projects recommended in the paper that would see New Zealand become a world leader in the trusted use of data.

 “New Zealand has got a real opportunity here. If we can create an ‘eco-system’ for data, we can unlock huge value, but to do this we need to treat data as a national asset,” says Forum Chair John Whitehead.

The paper suggests a range of initiatives including the establishment of an independent data council and an open data champion to drive innovation through data sharing.  The data council would act as an independent ‘guardian’ to ensure trust, privacy and security are maintained. . .

Extractor hopeful over hemp uses:

Ashburton company Oil Seed Extractions has been waiting a long time for a change in legislation which would enable it to sell food products made from hemp in Australasia.

The producer of seed oils for the food, skin care and health sectors, and its parent company Midlands Seed, were among the first companies in New Zealand to be granted a licence to grow hemp back in 2001-2002.

The companies were also the first to grow and process hemp seed into oil for retail sale and two years ago Oil Seed Extractions became the first New Zealand company to produce hemp seed protein. . .

James had heavenly help with his garden – Bridget Railton:

God has a garden and it’s located near Tokanui.

That’s what 86-year-old Southland man James Pirie says of the expanse of native bushland he’s been preserving since he bought it about 15 years ago.

The Morton Mains sheep farmer is among the 30-odd nominees for the Southland Environment Awards this week for his work preserving a block of native bush fondly dubbed “God’s Garden” about 3km from Tokanui on the Southern Scenic Highway.

“The way I look at it, why put a whole lot of work into planting native trees when you can preserve something that’s already there,” he explains. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 22, 2014

Lepto danger with flood waters:

RURAL WOMEN New Zealand  reminds Far North farming families to be mindful about health issues in dealing with flood waters, including the elevated risk of leptospirosis.

Families should be careful about drinking water, pull on their gumboots, wash hands and faces thoroughly, and cover cuts and grazes before they come into contact with flood water to reduce the chance of getting infections, in particular leptospirosis, Rural Women says.

The leptospirosis bacteria is shed in the urine from infected animals including stock, rodents, dogs, possums, and hedgehogs and is more easily spread about where there is excess surface water as the Far North is currently experiencing. . .

Free lunch for Northland farmers:

WHO SAYS there’s no such thing as a free lunch – or dinner, asks the Northland Rural Support Trust.

It is holding free lunch or dinners for flood-hit Northland starting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 23).

“We can’t stop it raining, but here’s a chance to have a dinner you don’t have to cook and an opportunity to talk to other storm affected folk plus pick the brains of some support people,” the Support Trust says to farmers.

Free food and drink is supplied at each event thanks to the trust and local merchants. . .

Stark difference between NZ and Australian dairying but why? – Pasture to Profit:

The visual & financial differences between the New Zealand & Australian dairy industries at the current time are stark and startling!

Why is the NZ dairy industry booming and Australian dairy farmers under so much pressure & having to dig deep to remain profitable. Both dairy industries supply into the same international market and Australia has a much bigger domestic population and local market. A strong local market is often argued as being a strength and likely to lift dairy farmers farm gate price. The economy in both countries is relatively strong & to a large extent was not greatly affected by the world financial crisis. Yet one dairy industry is hanging in by their fingernails while the other is buoyed (perhaps unrealistically!) by higher milk prices. . . .

AbacusBio finalist in sheep awards – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based AbacusBio and its managing director Neville Jopson both feature among the finalists in this year’s Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.

After being held in the South for the past two years, the awards have been shifted to Napier and will be held on August 6.

Dr Jopson is a finalist in one of two new categories – the sheep industry science award, which recognises a project, business or person undertaking science that is having a positive impact on farming. . .

Decision on effluent area reserved:

An Environment Southland hearing committee has reserved its decision on whether Southland meat processor South Pacific Meats (SPM) can spread effluent on to a larger area of farmland in northern Southland.

SPM, jointly owned by Affco New Zealand and Talleys Fisheries Ltd, opened a plant at Awarua, south of Invercargill, in 2005.

Last year, it gained consent from Environment Southland to spread sludge from the bottom of its wastewater treatment pond on to 55.5ha of a 1033ha sheep farm near Garston. . . .

Farms: the abuse of children –  A Farm Girl’s Fight:

Recently, I was reading some blogs and websites of organizations and individuals that oppose farmers. These websites have “facts” that are outrageous. Luckily, these facts have “sources” attached….that link back to their own website. Anyway, it’s humorous to me, and gives me ideas for my blogs. And let me tell you what. I am fired up.

There was a sentence on one of the websites (which no I will not link to their website) that stated:

“Farmers are awful people that often take advantage of underage children, often their own, forcing them into a life of work and learning of inhumane ways.”
Let me tell you something. With the exception of the “inhumane ways” addition, that statement is damn true and I am darn proud of it. . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2014

India’s massive buffalo exports reflect different approach to food safety – Alan Barber:

India has exported well over 500,000 tonnes of buffalo to Vietnam in 10 months of the latest July to June year. This figure easily exceeds the total of New Zealand’s beef exports to all countries.

Over the same period India’s total bovine (buffalo) exports were 1.45 million tonnes at an average value of US$3041 (NZ$3475), while the average price to Vietnam was US$3489 (NZ$3987), an increase of 40% since 2012. Other main markets in order of importance are Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates.

In comparison New Zealand’s beef exports command an FOB price of between $5000 to the USA, Canada, Korea and China and up to $9000 to French Polynesia, the highest paying market, with other main markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Europe at various points in between. . . .

Consultation opens on infant formula proposals:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the opening of consultation on measures that aim to ensure the robustness of the government’s assurance system for infant formula exports.

“In June last year I announced a work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems, to match rapid growth in infant formula exports,” Ms Kaye says.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.” . . .

Wools of NZ:

It’s not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.Photo: It's not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.

Why politicians shouldn’t be on the field of play – Andrew Hoggard:

In case you were expecting Willy Leferink this week, there has been a bit of a change at Federated Farmers.  My name is Andrew Hoggard and I am the new Dairy Industry Group chair.  That’s not the only change.  Being a North Islander you may get a slightly different perspective on things as I farm with my wife and two children near Fielding in Manawatu. That’s of course the region which gave us that planning beast called “One Plan.”

At Federated Farmers National Conference last week, we heard from political leaders from across the spectrum.

One common theme that annoyed me and the farmers around me was this notion that New Zealand is doing the wrong thing in the marketing of its agricultural products.  That we are not adding value and are just doing cheap and nasty commodity products thanks to industrial farming practices.  Oh and the primary industries are like putting all our economic eggs in one basket.  Now where have I heard that before? . . .

Environment Southland listening to farmers:

Federated Farmers commends Environment Southland for listening to the concerns of Hill and High Country farmers, and delaying notification of the proposed Hill and High Country Development Plan Change today.

“The council’s decision, having engaged and taken on board farmers concerns, will result in better outcomes for farmers and the environment,” says Allan Baird Federated Farmers Southland acting provincial president.

“Taking time to fully consider the issues, potential impacts, inclusive of the whole community and their values, is a fundamental part of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, and needs to be central in all decision making. . .

Finalists of Consultant of the Year Awards announced:

The judges have deliberated and the finalists have been selected for this year’s annual Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

Today Farmax announced the finalists for the DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, and NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said it was great to see such a high standard of talent and skills amongst the nominations. . . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2014

New staff to boost border security:

26 New Ministry for Primary Industries border staff begin training in Auckland today as part of a programme to beef up frontline resources, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Close to 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months and this is another big boost in resources.

“The 26 new staff will graduate around the middle of this year and will be posted around New Zealand.

“While there is increasing use of technology and intelligence to protect our border, we still need people on the frontline.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers. . .

Clover root weevil under attack in Southland - Sally Rae:

An industry-wide effort is under way in Southland to combat the damaging clover root weevil, whose economic damage has been measured in hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide.

Clover root weevil (CRW), identified by distinctive U-shaped notches on clover leaves, was discovered in the Waikato and Auckland in 1996 and has now spread as far as Southland.

A project, involving AgResearch, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Environment Southland, which has been releasing parasitised clover root weevils on Southland farms, is being accelerated. . .

Fonterra Chairman Visits New $126m UHT Milk Processing Site:

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson visited Fonterra’s new $126 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa on the weekend.The site is in its final stages of testing before commissioning Anchor UHT milk and cream products at the end of this month.

Mr Wilson said he was impressed with how quickly it had taken the site to get to this stage with construction completed in 12 months.

“It was great to get the chance to visit and meet the team who have brought our Waitoa site to life. There is a real sense of pride from the team on the ground.  . . .

History repeats itself in Northland:

David Kidd is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old sheep and beef farm manager of Shelley Beach took first place at the Northern Regional Final at the Kaikohe Showgrounds over the weekend, Saturday 15 March.

Thirty years after Mr Kidd’s father, Richard Kidd, became a Grand Finalist David is following in his footsteps. Richard placed third (on count back) in the 1984 Timaru Grand Final representing the Northern Region. “I don’t remember it, but I was at that Grand Final and it was my first Young Farmers experience,” said Mr Kidd. . .

Meet Dr Sunday – Alice Roberts:

A doctor living in rural Queensland says it’s the patients who have kept him in town for the past decade.

Dr Sunday Adebiyi has been a general practitioner in Dysart for 10 years.

He says it’s the friendships you strike up in regional areas that make the job worthwhile.

“I have some very, very good patients and I think about them and they think about me, they are concerned about my welfare and how I’m going,” he says.

“So with such people it would be very difficult to let them down. . .

Rabobank business alumni tour successful South Island farms:

More than 80 New Zealand and Australian farmers toured South Island farms last week as part of Rabobank’s Business Management Programme alumni tour.

They visited a deer operation, an intensive indoor robotic dairy operation and a mixed cropping and birdseed business, which was currently undertaking a dairy conversion.

They also visited North Otago dairy farmer Rogan Borrie’s four properties near Oamaru.

Borrie, a fifth-generation farmer, completed Rabobank’s Farm Managers Programme in 2007.

He said it was a rewarding experience to share the developments and technology introduced on-farm.

“We showed the tour our new computerised irrigation scheme with pivot and fixed grid sprinklers that we have recently installed in order to reduce labour time and energy and improve water efficiency,” he said . .


ES requires consent for dairy farms

March 7, 2014

A plan change by Environment Southland means all new dairy farms will require resource consent:

Owners of all new dairy farms in Southland now have to apply for resource consent after a contentious plan change was approved by Environment Southland.

Plan Change 13 was notified nearly two years ago and trialled in the past year, with Environment Southland adopting it in a public-excluded council meeting yesterday.

Under the new rules, all new dairy farms need a resource consent before becoming operational.

Applicants require a conversion environmental plan, which includes a soil assessment, a nutrient management plan and a winter grazing plan.

This imposes additional fees on top of those already charged for water and discharge permits and could cost farmers about $1000 in total.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the rule would provide the council with a tool to meet the community’s concerns for water quality, while also meeting the council’s national obligations.

The new rules would help to ensure Southland’s water quality did not decline any further, she said. . .

ES is the first council to require consent for dairying.

Other councils could follow, though it would be sensible to wait and see whether the plan change works as it is intended to.

Few would argue with the intention to improve water quality but it will take some time to determine if this is the best way to achieve it.

 


Doing better environmentally and economically

January 22, 2014

The old adage that if you give a dog a bad name it will stick is unfortunately true.

Farming, and dairying in particular, has got a bad name for poor environmental performance even though most are doing all that’s required of them, or more.

Despite 5.7 dairy cattle for every man, woman and child in Southland, the region now boasts some of most environmentally compliant farmers in New Zealand. 

“The compliance monitoring results from Environment Southland, which came out before Christmas, was a real boost for our guys,” says Russell MacPherson, Federated Farmers Southland provincial president.

“It is not just us in the far south but this is a trend throughout New Zealand.  After catching talkback radio recently, the shame is that some people have been suckered in by a clever but increasingly redundant slogan. 

“I mean the Ministry for the Environment’s “River condition indicator Summary and key findings” must be the most non-reported study of 2013.  A 10-year review of water quality found, “of the parameters we [the MfE] monitor, all are either stable or improving at most monitored sites. Four of our parameters show stable or improving trends in 90% of sites”.

“Take the Mataura River, which received the regional award for the most improved river at the first New Zealand River Awards.  There are physical results proving that it is working and it goes to show how Southland’s farmers are hitting their straps environmentally.

“The majority of Southland’s 887 farming effluent discharge consent holders inspected by Environment Southland were fully compliant with their consent conditions.

“While we farm in what seemingly feels like a glass house, the fact is we are doing better each year environmentally and economically.

“In terms of ground and surface water, the vast majority of our farms are doing pretty well here as well. 

“Federated Farmers believes a new attitude shown by Environment Southland, to actively work alongside farmers like in Taranaki, is starting to pay off.  Farmers previously felt like they’d be belted for anything but we’re now seeing partnership and greater understanding.

Councils and farmers working together will achieve better results than if there’s an antagonistic attitude between them.

“The way town and country are coming together is also evidenced by the way the New River Estuary has galvanised Invercargill residents around storm and wastewater. 

“It will upset those who have made a career out of grievance but truth eventually cuts through spin.

“Perhaps that’s the nub of the issue we face as it’s all about perception, much like that Lincoln University survey from last year.  There’s what some people think we do and what we actually do.  Trying to connect the two is going to take time.

“That could start by having the same scrutiny our farms are put under extended to our local councils. 

“. . . there’s been three human sewerage spills within a month into Lake Wakatipu and the latest one closed a 200 metre stretch of beach right where our family, like many, swim and boat when on holiday.

“If town and country had the same level of scrutiny then the national conversation, I feel, would be much better,” Mr MacPherson concluded.

Poor environmental practices in one area doesn’t excuse it anywhere else and there’s no room for complacency about water quality in urban or rural areas.

Some farmers have been far too slow to get the message about their responsibility for water quality and act on it. But the majority are compliant and are working hard to ensure they stay that way.


Rural round-up

January 5, 2014

Dairy farm consent decision delayed – Bridget Railton:

A final decision on whether all new dairy farms will continue to require resource consent has been delayed another month.

Environment Southland’s plan change 13, which required all new dairy farms to obtain a resource consent before becoming operational, will now not be decided until next month.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the decision had been delayed because a key staff member involved in the plan change had become ill.

“It’s better to have some sort of continuity in the process.” . . .

Red meat sector ‘absolute challenge’ – Sally Rae:

Amid challenging times for New Zealand’s red meat industry, there have been changes in the guard at governance level recently at the country’s two largest co-operatives. Silver Fern Farms’ new chairman Rob Hewett speaks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Rob Hewett is well aware his new role is going to be an ”absolute challenge”.

Amid decreasing sheep numbers, calls for industry restructuring and his own co-operative’s unprofitability, the new chairman of Silver Fern Farms knows the road ahead is not going to be easy.

But the South Otago farmer is also optimistic about the future and excited to take on such a pivotal role in the industry. . .

Prince William to study agriculture at Cambridge University -

Clearly worried that a 2:1 master’s degree in geography, a three-year career as a helicopter pilot and a great deal of gap year foreign travel might not quite equip him for running the 130,000 acres of land spread across 23 counties that make up the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince William is going back to college.

Almost three centuries after his ancestor George III was nicknamed Farmer George and mocked for his interest in agricultural improvement and his herd of pedigree sheep, William, second in line to the throne and heir to the Duchy, will be heading for Cambridge University next week to become a full-time student of agricultural management. . .

Celebrating wool and the success of a local lad in the industry -

Creating demand for New Zealand wool is his passion. The enormous efforts of a local lad gone global needs to be celebrated, says Philippa Wright, CEO, Wright Wool and active supporter of the Campaign for Wool NZ.

Sitting on a wool chair at Wool House as a part of the recent Campaign for Wool event in London is Central Hawke’s Bay lad, Craig Smith, Business Development Director for International Wool Trader, HDawson. Smithy is son of Mark and Sue Smith, retired 3rd generation Hawke’s Bay farmers now living in Waipawa. . .

Wool outlook upbeat – Cara Jeffery:

CAUTIOUSLY positive seems to be the catchcry among wool industry commentators when it comes to forecasting what 2014 holds for the market.

In 2013, the Australian Wool Exchange Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) started the year at 1111c/kg and spent most the year above the 1000c/kg mark.

It sank to its lowest point in May at 966c/kg, just after it hit its highest point in April at 1145c/kg. . .


Environmental tax based on perception

May 30, 2013

Federated Farmers says Environment Southland’s plan to increase the differential rate on dairy land use makes no sense:

“It is our view that you are simply imposing an environmental tax on one land use in Southland based entirely on perception,” said Russell McPherson, Southland provincial president.

“Dairy farms comprise only 3.6 percent of the total number of rating units yet, if this proposal goes ahead, will be paying 41 percent of the property value based general rates.

“In total, the dairy sector is already paying their fair share for what are Environment Southland’s public good resource management responsibilities, but it is specifically and solely targeted through the differential as if it was failing to meet its obligations. That could not be further from the truth.

“Taken at face value the dairy differential indicates that if there was no dairying in the region then there would be no water quality issues. Clearly, this is not the case. Nor is it the case that the dairy sector is the only sector which needs to do better to address water quality.

Dairying can lead to a deterioration in water quality but it doesn’t always and it certainly isn’t the only culprit.

“If the differential is nothing about recognising the costs attributed to ES work and a blatant environmental tax then the differential does not recognise or incentivise individual farmer behaviour. It is like handing a speeding ticket to every driver just for getting in the car. It is simply a tax for being a dairy farmer.

A general tax punishes those farmers who are doing all they can to protect waterways and gives no incentive for anyone else to do any better.

“If you are trying to put dairying in Southland on the back foot and alienate farmers then you are on the right track. You will not engage at a farm level with dairy farmers during any response to the NPS for freshwater by telling them they have to pay you to tell them what to do.

“The dairy differential detracts from the goodwill felt towards council from the very dairy farmers council should be supporting – the dairy farmers who are doing things the right way and leading environmental on farm best practice though massive investment and innovation.

“Council’s decision on whether or not to increase the costs allocated to the dairy sector through the dairy differential this year is actually a decision on how it perceives the sector and how water quality issues in Southland will be addressed.

“If the intention is to develop a partnership approach to identifying the mechanisms to best address resource management issues, then the dairy differential is a bad idea.

“If the intention is to recognise and incentivise good practice, then the dairy differential is a bad idea.

“If the intention is to require all sectors of the community to do a better job of resource management then the dairy differential, is a bad idea.

“If the differential is an attempt to identify a scapegoat, distance this council from a key sector in the region and absolve all other resource management users from responsibility, then the dairy differential is a good step,” Mr McPherson concluded.

The council should be developing policies which improve water quality and incentivise good practice.

Increasing the dairy differential isn’t the way to do it.


Only just confident

January 24, 2013

Environment Southland chair Ali Timms has survived a vote of confidence which was called after she made a prank call to Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt on a radio show.

The vote was 7-5, which included her own vote.

That means the council is split 6-5 on her suitability as chair which means the council is only just confident.


Another hoax call gone wrong

December 13, 2012

In a week when the news is full of the fallout from Australian DJs hoax call to a hospital you’d think everyone would think twice before pretending to be someone they weren’t.

Not Environment Southland chair Ali Timms.

Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms is on leave following an “unacceptable lapse of judgement”. . .

. . .  acting chairman Nicol Horrell has issued the following statement: “Councillors have unanimously expressed our extreme disapproval of the unacceptable lapse of judgement shown by Chairman Ali Timms in taking part in the Invercargill City Council’s televised talkback programme under an assumed name last week.

“Councillors have accepted Cr Timms’ application for six weeks leave of absence, effective immediately. We expect to hold an Extraordinary meeting of Council to consider the Council’s Chairmanship in late January.”

This might speak volumes about the relationship between the regional and city councils but it doesn’t reflect well on Timms either.

We all have lapses of judgement but fortunately for most of us, we’re not public figures and they happen in private.


Environment Southland audit

November 6, 2012

Environment Southland is undergoing an independent legal audit of its compliance processes:

Chief Executive Rob Phillips said today that in light of recent allegations in the media, it was essential that there was public confidence that all of the Council’s regulatory practices were sound, and that the processes for taking compliance action were robust.

“Prosecutions are an essential part of our compliance activity, particularly where there has been a serious breach of the law, a regulation or a rule,” Mr Phillips said. “Everyone needs to be confident that compliance action is based on sound processes that have been carried out with integrity.” . . .

And what were those allegations in the media?

The move follows stories in the The Southland Times involving two separate incidents – one surrounding allegations that Environment Southland compliance officer Chris McMillan altered a statement from police after a stock truck sting, and the other where senior Invercargill lawyer Rex Chapman told The Times Mr McMillan effectively acknowledged under cross examination in court the council’s original written case against a farm owner and manager it was prosecuting contained statements that were not true.

Regional councils act as environmental police and wield wide-ranging powers.

Their processes and staff must be above reproach.

 

 

 

 

 


What’s up at Environment Southland?

January 20, 2012

A fixed term contract is just that and employers have the option of renewing it or not.

But why has Environment Southland not taken the option of extending the term of its CEO Ciaran Keogh for another two years when it appears there were no problems with his performance?

At least one councillor appears less than supportive of the move.

Recruitment is not an inexpensive business and seeking a new CEO wouldn’t normally be done without very good reason when the option of extending his term was available.


User pays or council plays?

May 26, 2009

Environment Southland’s Long Term Community Plan proposes imposing a dairy differnetial of $1.08 million to finance more compliance staff, monitoring programmes, stock effluent disposal sites, land sustainability programmes and a new regional discharge plan.

Is this user pays or an attempt to get dairy farmers to finance more than their fair share of the council’s  expansion?

Federated Farmers’ submission says many of its dairy members felt the rate was the regional council’s way of expanding its programmes while insulating the general ratepayer against the effects of an increased rate take.

DairyNZ recommends a partnership between the council and the dairy industry to resolve resource management issues.

That would provide the council with resources from DairyNZ’s own science, local farmer knowledge and dairy industry policy staff, its submission says.

Dairy farmers must pay their fair share of the costs associated with the environmental impact of their business but this looks like the council is playing a growing game and wants farmers to pay for it.

DairyNZ’s proposal would get the results without the need for the regional council to expand its empire at farmers’ expense.


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