Rural round-up

July 14, 2014

Help sought for flooded farms:

Northland Rural Support Trust has put out a call for emergency grazing and feed supplies for farmers whose land is under water after the past week’s storm and prolonged rainfall.

Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said the flood prone Hikurangi Swamp area, north of Whangarei, has been one of the worst affected.

“We’ve got up to 30 farms flooded in the Hikurangi Swamp area, we’ve got nine at least flooded further down in Tangiteroria, and even those that aren’t actually flooded are still cut off”, she said. . .

Greens’ water policy unrealistic:

Irrigation New Zealand (INZ) thinks that there is some merit in the Green Party’s environmental policy relating to water announced today, but is concerned about the economic and social impacts of the policy and about how the Green Party will achieve its outcomes.

INZ agrees that dams must not be built on New Zealand’s pristine rivers and where possible new dams should be located off-river. It also agrees that ‘no go’ areas should be identified.

But INZ does not agree that dams and irrigation destroy rivers or add to pollution if they are designed and constructed properly.

“The reality is that New Zealand needs large scale water storage. This is essential for town and city drinking water supplies, as well as to produce fresh food,” says Andrew Curtis, chief executive of INZ.. .

Green’s need to get on the water policy bus:

Instead of attacking policy that will massively improve New Zealand water quality, Federated Farmers says the Green Party would be more credible if it showed a lot more bipartisan leadership in supporting that policy.

“The new National Policy Statement (NPS) of Freshwater, actually requires regional councils to maintain or improve water quality while giving the wider community the choice of how far they want to go in order to improve our lakes and rivers,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“If the community wants to ensure that certain rivers and lakes are safe for swimming that is supported within the NPS.  But the NPS also requires they be fully informed as to the effect upon jobs, rates and their local economy, when making that choice.

“To leap into swimming as the gold standard for all, without some sort of exceptions regime, will likely cost urban ratepayers massively in the pocket. . .

Fonterra cheese jewel on target - Esther Ashby-Coventry:

The $73 million expansion of the Fonterra mozzarella factory at Clandeboye near Timaru is on track to go online in August 2015.

More than 360 contractors and tradespeople have been working on the project this off-season, with the majority from local companies. Most of the construction materials were bought within New Zealand and the rest manufactured offshore. At any one time there are between 75 and 100 people on the project.

More than 25 new staff members will be required for the factory once it is complete. They are being employed in staggered groups to begin their training. . .

Where is PGG Wrightson heading? -  Keith Woodford:

The last decade has been tumultuous for leading agricultural services company PGG Wrightson. The current company was formed in 2005 with the merger of Pyne Gould Guinness and Wrightson. That merger was led by well-known agribusiness entrepreneur and former Fonterra CEO, Craig Norgate,

Norgate then took PGG Wrightson on a rough ride. It was he who provided the intellectual leadership behind the massive land buying associated with the PGG Wrightson offshoot Farming Systems Uruguay. This subsequently ran into trouble with the coalescence of a major drought and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Norgate also led the proposal for PGG Wrightson to purchase a 50% share in Silver Fern Farms for $220 million. That too ran into trouble due to the Global Financial Crisis. . . .

NZ butchers defend tri-nations title -

New Zealand’s Sharp Blacks have defended their tri-nations butchers title against Australia and the United Kingdom.

The team of six Kiwis battled the Brits and Aussies over two hours at the Royal Yorkshire Show in Harrogate as they turned a side of beef and a whole lamb into 50 products fit for a top shelf butcher’s display.

New Zealand won the tri-nations on home slabs at Wanaka last year and captain Corey Winder, from Christchurch, says winning gold on the other side of the world has been a career highlight. . . 

Japan deal opens FDI money flow - Tony Boyd:

ONE of the least understood aspects of the Australia-Japan trade agreement signed this week is the profound change it will bring to foreign direct investment (FDI) into Australia.

The agreement lifts the screening threshold at which private Japanese investment in non-sensitive sectors is considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) from $248 million to $1 billion.

Japanese takeovers in excess of $250 million have never caused a problem for the FIRB and there have been plenty of those over the past 10 years. Nevertheless, the free trade agreement has reserved policy space to screen proposals for investment in agricultural land and agribusinesses at lower levels than $1 billion. . .

New Zealand bra fence braless again:

A fence with hundreds of bras tied to it in Central Otago is looking a bit bare.

Hundreds of bras were cut from the controversial Cardrona Valley bra fence about four or five days ago, Cardrona Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Barrie Morgan told NZ Newswire.

The whimsical fence has existed for about 14 years and has become a popular tourist attraction but some locals regard it as an eyesore and traffic hazard.

The council took it down in 2006 but it was revived a short time later. Bras were mysteriously removed in 2013. . .


Rural round-up

July 5, 2014

 Proud to be a dairy farmer – Will Leferink:

You could say I started back in the day when no one would likely tweet what you said or even know what a tweet was.

I will probably end my Feds career on the national stage with someone tweeting something right now.

So please Tweet this.

I am so very proud of New Zealand’s dairy farmers.

To use farming vernacular you are good buggers.

I am not talking our immense economic contribution because everyone gets that.

I am talking about the fantastic contribution being made by us environmentally. . .

Minister corrects incorrect claims about national freshwater standards:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today moved to correct incorrect and misleading comments made about the Government’s ground-breaking national freshwater standards.

The Government yesterday announced clear, robust national standards for freshwater that will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

This means, for the first time, New Zealand’s rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

However, some, including the Green Party, the Labour Party and Massey University environmental ecologist Dr Mike Joy, have resorted to making incorrect claims about the freshwater reforms that have gone unchallenged.

“Some of New Zealand’s best freshwater scientists came up with numeric values for the national standards.

“Ministers have not been involved in any way in the scientific detail of the framework. We were deliberately hands-off during this part of the process so we could get the best scientific information. . .

Environment the winner in freshwater reforms:

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, incorporating the National Objective Framework, is the most comprehensive approach to sorting environmental issues for this country’s freshwater resource. While tough on farmers it is equally tough on urban New Zealand.

“Unlike the Green Party, which has the divisive notion the dairy industry should be held accountable for absolutely all water quality, this seminal policy makes it clear that urban and rural water must be treated equally,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Water and Environment Spokesperson, who was also on the NOF reference group.

“Using a local example, this applies equally to the Avon River, the South Island’s most polluted urban waterway even before the earthquakes, as it does to the Hinds River in Mid-Canterbury. . .

Dairy farmers ready to take action to implement water quality standards

Dairy farmers are up for the challenge of working with local communities to fix local water quality problems and deliver on the Government’s new national water quality standards.

“DairyNZ will implement these new standards with farmers. We have a firm commitment from the industry and from our farmers on that front. Where there’s an agreed problem that needs fixing, we’ll get in there and do our bit,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore.

“The dairy industry supports farming to environmental limits to solve identified water quality problems. We’re already doing that kind of work across the country with farmers and councils in 15 priority areas. We also spend more than $11 million a year of dairy farmers’ levy money on environmental initiatives including local water quality studies and supporting farmers to take action to fix issues.” . . .

Earthquake-prone buildings farm exemption welcomed as a first step:

Federated Farmers is delighted Government has seen the logic of exempting farm structures from the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as a first step to ensuring the viability of rural towns is not compromised.

“It was mind boggling to hear the Minister cost the inclusion of farm structures in the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as being an imposition of $170 million,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers new Vice-President.

“We naturally welcome this exemption since no one in the recorded history of farming in New Zealand has ever been killed in a collapsing farm structure during an earthquake. It was a clear case of regulatory overreach. . .

Fonterra Forms Exclusive Partnership with UK-Based Dairy Crest:

Fonterra has entered into an exclusive partnership with UK-based Dairy Crest to market and sell two products for the fast growing global baby food market.

The products – Galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) and Demineralised Whey – are both used in the manufacture of infant formulas, and will be manufactured by Dairy Crest. Fonterra will be the dedicated and exclusive sales channel for the infant formula ingredients produced.

Dairy Crest is entering into a newly-formed joint venture with UK-based Fayrefield Foods to produce the GOS. These plants are expected to begin production in 2015. . . .

First NZ tourism attraction to gain certification:

Rotorua’s Te Puia became the first visitor attraction in New Zealand to have staff certified in rural skills today, with its Environment Team members presented with a National Certificate in General Skills Agriculture (Level 2) – Primary Sector.

The Primary ITO, New Zealand’s largest industry training organisation, officially presented the certificates this morning, after 12 months of training on and off-site. The qualification included training in the use of chemicals; driver training for tractors, forklifts and quad bikes; chainsaw use and health and safety.

Te Puia’s Environment Team are responsible for all maintenance across the 70 hectare geothermal site, including horticulture, hygiene and the conservation of native flora and fauna. Part of their role has involved the removal of undergrowth to expose natural geothermal features, with an ongoing focus on ensuring pathways are clear and safe for visitors. . . .

96 Points Rapaura Springs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Back to Back Double Gold’s:

Marlborough Winery Rapaura Springs is justifiably proud of its recent Double Gold award and 96 point rating at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Challenge 2014.

One of only a handful of wines from New Zealand to achieve this award, it’s made all the better by the fact we received the same recognition from the esteemed panel of judges last year. Both the 2013 and 2012 vintage Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines have been awarded Double Gold medals. Talk about consistent!

Owner Brendan Neylon praises “a great team effort and an unwavering focus on quality, from the vineyard to the winery”. . .

Luring British Wine Professionals to New Zealand’s Largest Wine region:

Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation are proud to announce that applications for the 2014/2015 Wine Marlborough NZ-UK Link Foundation scholarship are now open.

The history of the scholarship began in 2009 when Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation, together with the late John Avery MW, established a scholarship to fund an exceptional wine industry professional from the UK to travel to New Zealand to experience Marlborough’s wine industry. The aim of the scholarship is to further the recipient’s wine knowledge and assist in their personal development as a potential leader in the wine industry. . .


Guard changes at Feds

July 5, 2014

Federated Farmers has a new president and CEO.

Dr William Rolleston, former vice-president was elected unopposed to lead the organisation and Graham Smith takes over as CEO.

As Vice-President since 2011, I am honoured to be entrusted with a leadership role following in the footsteps of some farming greats,” says Dr Rolleston, Federated Farmers new President.

“Federated Farmers is New Zealand’s foremost rural advocate with a proud past and strong future. 

“Our National Council knows that the President must represent the views of all members and Federated Farmers is a broad church. I endorse this principle.

“I believe we can learn from all form of farming systems, including  organic practices, so long as these are underpinned by robust science.

“Given the overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity, including agriculture, plays a significant role in climate change, science and innovation are key to the future of farming. Science and innovation are also key to the water quality sphere.

“I am fortunate that our Grain & Seed Industry Group chairperson, Ian Mackenzie, is staying on the Board for another year.  His work in the Land & Water Forum was publicly acknowledged yesterday by our Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy. 

“Ian is widely respected even among the environmental lobby.  His expertise and wise counsel will be welcome.

“As will be the support of my Vice-President, Wairarapa’s Anders Crofoot.  As our buildings spokesperson, I must acknowledge the success Federated Farmers has had in convincing Government to remove farm structures from its earthquake prone buildings Bill.

“A $170 million saving for farmers is an auspicious start for my tenure and a tangible example of the value Federated Farmers delivers for its members and farming in general.

“I will draw on the myriad of skills that the West Coast’s Katie Milne offers, especially on the high profile areas of rural security, employment and adverse events. 

“As a Board Member at large, she is joined in that capacity by Mid-Canterbury’s Chris Allen, who is fast developing expertise in water policy.

“I look forward to working with my newly elected Industry Group chairs, Rick Powdrell from Bay of Plenty for Meat and Fibre and Andrew Hoggard from Manawatu-Rangtikei for Dairy.

“Both are exceptionally talented farmers with an outstanding grasp of industry issues.

“Speaking of extremely talented people, Bruce Wills has been an inspiration to me.  His focus on environment collaboration and communication has done much to represent the modern face of farming.  These are themes I wish to continue with the new Board.

“As a Board it speaks volumes about Federated Farmers that someone of Graham Smith’s calibre came to us to be our new Chief Executive. 

“As Graham has started the handover process with Conor English I wish to thank Conor for his guidance over the period I was Vice-President and before that as a provincial president.

“I am excited by the future,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

Wills and English have overseen a change for the better in Federated Farmers for which all involved in farming and the wider rural community should be grateful.

They have provided a strong foundation on which the new leadership can build and carry on the much-needed work representing and advocating for farmers, farming and rural New Zealand.


Farmers foster fish

June 6, 2014

This makes a very pleasant change from the usual negative stories about dairying:

Dairy farmers are getting praise from unlikely quarters after the most salmon in 40 years have been seen spawning in a small stream in the middle of dairying country.

After identifying good salmon catches in the area during the angling season and higher spawning rates in lowland streams than normal, fishery officers did a spot check at the spring-fed Waikuku Stream, expecting to see little salmon activity.

In a small stretch of the stream which feeds into the Ashley River they found about 35 salmon and as many nests – redds – containing thousands of eggs.

Among other theories for the high salmon count, Fish & Game New Zealand think the main reason is the work of dairy farmers to fence, plant and protect the stream.

South Island spokesman Andrew Currie said it was pure chance they found so many salmon spawning in the stream and farmers deserve the credit.

“In a 200-metre stretch I walked there were at least 25 to 35 redds and that augurs well for the fishery because each one of these nests contains 3000 to 4000 eggs and we can see the day when the Ashley River returns to a good run. What was particularly pleasing by the find was that the stream was in the heart of a dairy farm.”

Currie said the “textbook” spawning site had free-running water, nice overhangs, little weed and an exposed shingle bed and was an example of top riparian planting by farmers.

“I think a lot more farms in Canterbury could have the same in their backyard if they had similar plantings and fencing.

“This is proof that dairy farming and Fish & Game can co-exist. . .

That is refreshingly positive and is appreciated by Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers is thrilled to hear Fish and Game acknowledge the massive positive effect farmers Good Management Practice (GMP) is having on our waterways.

“Headline news in the Christchurch Press today reports farmers riparian management has resulted in the sighting of the most salmon seen spawning in 40 years, an acknowledgement that is huge for the farming community,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Water & Environment Spokesperson.

“The 35 salmon, nests and thousands of eggs found in the Waikuku stream, was smack bang in the middle of dairy farming land. Feeding into the Ashley River, this bountiful Canterbury stream is testament to allowing reasonable timeframes for farmers to fence and riparian plant their waterways.

“It is encouraging to see the results of farming coexisting with its waterways and heartening to have it acknowledged by Fish and Game. This is not an isolated event with similar reports in Ashburton of large numbers of salmon spawning in Spring Creek, tributary to the Ashburton River.

“This article is timely as I sat down to listen, after speaking at the New Zealand Primary Industry Summit today. It was the perfect parallel to reflect on the big picture of our industry and the correlation that it has with the economy. We are looking for ways to move forward in a sustainable way, as the most successful exporters in the world, but we have to make it right at home first and this is proving to be challenging.

“Each regional council is interpreting the requirements for the National Policy Statement for Freshwater management differently and in some cases every catchment, which will lead to an implementation nightmare. Whilst every region is different there needs to be a cohesive approach here and a standardisation of what is required.

“What we are seeing in the Waikuku stream, Spring Creek, and numerous others throughout the country, could be tenfold with a consistent and organised approach from Central and Regional Government,” concluded Mr MacKenzie.

Farming and healthy waterways which foster fish aren’t mutually exclusive.

Sustainability balance economic, environmental and social concerns and is achievable with good management practice from landowners and councils.


Rural round-up

April 26, 2014

Future farm staff needs a big priority:

To be considered world leaders, the dairy industry needs to lift its game to attract and retain quality staff, says DairyNZ.

As dairy farms get bigger, demands on farm staff are getting greater, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine, a key speaker at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, May 7-8. Farmers are encouraged to register now to attend the forum.

“We need to ask ourselves if we’ve got an industry geared up to accommodate the growing demands,” says Mark. “We have a range of initiatives in place and we’re working hard on all fronts – but is it enough? I’ll be keen to hear from farmers attending the forum about their priorities.

“Our research suggests that for on-farm roles, we need 1000 graduates every year at diploma level and above, and another 250 a year for rural professional and science roles. . .

Crop losses ‘in millions’ – Annette Scott:

Unprecented weather is proving a cropping farmer’s nightmare as Canterbury arable farmers face crop losses in the millions of dollars.

“We are at the tough end of a relatively tough season and the toughest part is we can’t do anything about it,” Federated Farmers national grain and seed chairman and Mid Canterbury arable farmer Ian Mackenzie said.

“It’s worse than frustrating and what hurts most is that it’s the more-valuable crops that are still standing out in the paddocks.”

Ground conditions were very wet, he said. Autumn wheat should be planted but radishes were still in the paddock. . .

Cropping farmers encouraged to seek support:

Federated Farmers is encouraging farmers to help each other as cropping farmers in Canterbury and North Otago seek respite from a prolonged wet spell which is threatening specialist crops and cereals ahead of harvesting.

“Already sodden fields have been shown no mercy from a succession of passing cyclonic fronts” said Mid-Canterbury President, Chris Allen.

“This will have the same impact on cropping farmers as one metre of snow during lambing would have on sheep farmers, it’s very serious.

“Now into autumn with shorter days and less heat, there will be limited opportunities for farmers to recover their crops.  Due to the wet ground conditions, crops aren’t suitable for harvest and when they are, there will be a big demand on resources. . .

Farmer grateful for army help:

Federated Farmers is appreciative of the efforts of the New Zealand Army to help southern Westland clean up the mess caused by former tropical Cyclone Ita.

“Given it is Anzac Day, we are moved to have the New Zealand Army on the ground here in Westland to help us to recover,” says Katie Milne, the organisation’s Westland provincial president.

“It feels like the cavalry has arrived but more accurately, it’s the sappers.”

On Thursday Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said nine New Zealand Defence Force personnel were already in Whataroa and a team of 16 engineers and support personnel from Burnham would arrive on Thursday afternoon. . . .

FMA investigates whether banks breached financial markets laws on interest rate swaps to farmers -

(BusinessDesk) – The Financial Markets Authority, New Zealand’s markets watchdog, is investigating whether the sales and marketing of interest rate swaps by major banks to rural customers may have breached financial markets laws.

The FMA is working with the antitrust regulator, the Commerce Commission, to see if the banks have breached laws including the Securities Act 1978 and the Securities Markets Act 1988, the watchdog said in a statement. It declined to comment further while the investigation is ongoing. . .

NZ infant formula makers likely to get all-clear from China – Andrea Fox:

Nearly all New Zealand’s 13 infant formula manufacturers look likely to pass muster by Chinese authorities to continue exporting to China, which has introduced tough new regulations after food-safety scares.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kay said based on advice from Chinese officials in the past 24 hours following their audits of NZ manufacturers, most, if not all, were expected to achieve registration.

However, one unnamed manufacturer would have to make some changes before registration would be complete, the ministers said.

The Chinese audit was conducted last month. . .


Rural round-up

February 8, 2014

Waikato fast turning waste into wealth:

The Waikato is fast turning waste into wealth, thanks to New Zealand’s first and only independent product development spray dryer and a collection of the country’s world-class researchers.

Waikato Innovation Park is the first organisation in the region to receive funding from Bio-Resource Processing Alliance (BPA). The $28,000 is helping it develop a way to scale up commercial production of pure avocado powder – a project that was started on a small scale in 2013.

The BPA is a government funded initiative that helps New Zealand’s biological-based manufacturing businesses gain maximum value from waste and by-products, while reducing environmental impacts from primary production and manufacturing activities.

According to BPA general manager Trevor Stuthridge, the initiative has $2.5 million per year on offer to New Zealand companies and their research providers over the next five years. . .

Benefits tipped from Synlait takeover - Alan Williams:

New jobs and $6 million coming from overseas for farm development spending are among the benefits of the latest Shanghai Pengxin investment in New Zealand, Cabinet ministers say.

Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin’s majority shareholding in the company that is taking over Synlait Farms in Canterbury was approved by State Services Minister Jonathon Coleman and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson.

In their decision released by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), they also referred to the benefits to NZ of the Shanghai Pengxin investment in 16 former Crafar farms in the North Island and the advancement of New Zealand’s “China strategy”. . .

Controls on fruit and vegetable movement lifted:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that all restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables in Whangarei have been lifted as of yesterday evening, Friday 7 February.

MPI Deputy Director General, Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says this marks the milestone where two weeks of trapping, fruit sampling and testing is completed.

“We have received our final results from trapping and fruit examination and I am delighted to say that our rigorous checks found no further sign of the Queensland fruit fly in the Whangarei area. New Zealand’s fruit fly-free status remains intact, as it has throughout this response. There is no longer any need for residents in the area to be restricted in their movements of produce.” . . .

Whangarei fruit fly operation comes to an end:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has thanked the people of Whangarei for their cooperation over the last two weeks in responding to the find of a single male Queensland fruit fly.



“It’s very pleasing that no other fruit fly has been found and that this appears to be a solitary insect.



“This detection is a very rare event and shows we have a high performing biosecurity system.



“I want to thank the people of Whangarei for their support and patience over the last two weeks.



“Locals have been very supportive of this operation. They realise how important it is to treat this response seriously, and their cooperation has been great,” says Mr Guy. . . .

Good news in seed export growth:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see exports of vegetable and herbage seeds still rising.

“To see total seed exports rise by 14 percent from 2012 levels shows arable farmers in New Zealand are doing their fair share for the economy,” says Ian Mackenzie, the Grain & Seed Chairman of Federated Farmers.

“What makes the $192 million contribution to the economy so good is that this contribution is heavily concentrated in mid and North Canterbury region, with almost all the production done between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

“Dairy is not the only land use that is driving economic activity in Canterbury, and that deserves to be celebrated” . .

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q4: Challenges remain for global industry:

• New Zealand harvest yet to commence, but favourable growing conditions indicate positive signs for the coming vintage.

• New Zealand wine exports are firmly back in growth given the higher supply available from the record 2013 vintage, and the share of bulk wine in the ‘product mix’ is rising.

• Australian harvest underway, expectations of a slightly smaller crop, with the recent severe heatwave potentially impacting yields. . . .

The full report is here.


Rural round-up

November 22, 2013

Farmers welcome the PCE’s water contribution:

Federated Farmers has welcomed the report of Dr Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, entitled, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution and is offering to help ground truth some of the modelled assumptions.

“Federated Farmers has consistently said we need good science to underpin policy decision making,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson.

“As Dr Wright conceded at the launch water is complex and the modelling arguably represents the worst case.  It does however highlight the cumulative effects of land use intensity upon water.  It represents our future if we do absolutely nothing but that is not a future we’d like to be a part of.

“Farmers understand there are some challenges but we mustn’t forget that New Zealand has some of the best quality water on earth.  There is also enormous resource and work being put into finding practical workable solutions and we have made some good progress. . .

Time and tide waits for no man or woman – Jeanette Maxwell:

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Zambia for the inaugural World Farming Organisation Women’s committee meeting, the international day of Rural Women and the Zambian National Farmers Union conference.

This has much resonance for the issues we will be discussing over the next two days.

Travelling to a country like Zambia gave me an opportunity to see how farmers do business in a developing nation.  A working farm there can be anything from 10 hectares to many thousands of hectares.

In Zambia I found that 62 percent of all farmers are women.  Women also make up a large share of the labour force and much of the weeding and crop maintenance is done by women.

For many farmers the land is transferred by succession and while there are opportunities to buy land you do need to know the right people.   In Zambia, succession is seen as being critical for the continuation of farming and for feeding the nation.   Sounds familiar. . . .

New DOC boss signals cultural shift:

Farming leaders are applauding a cultural shift signalled by new Department of Conservation (DOC) boss Lou Sanson.

Mr Sanson, who took over as DOC chief executive about two months ago, told the Federated Farmers’ national council in Wellington on Tuesday that DOC would be focusing more on partnership arrangements with farmers and other community and commercial interests, including fishing and mining.

He said Canterbury’s Hakataramea Basin was an example of what he meant by a cultural change for DOC, with a lot of land taken back into its control through tenure review.

“We’ve also taken a lot of musterers’ huts. Generally a farmer 100 years ago put a poplar or a willow beside the hut to give him firewood for the hut,” Mr Sanson said. . .

Contest gives credit to sharemilking role - Sue O’Dowd:

New Zealand’s premier dairy farming contest can be traced to a Taranaki man who thought a sharemilkers’ competition would provide a window to show off their skills.

Murray Cross was a sharemilker at Ngaere when he suggested the Taranaki Sharemilkers Association should run a Sharemilker of the Year competition. At the time he and wife Ruth were on the farm his father, Sydney Hamilton Cross, had bought after he returned from World War II.

Murray Cross drew his inspiration for the competition from going through the process for a Nuffield scholarship. Although he was unsuccessful, he thought he could apply what he had learned to a competition in Taranaki for sharemilkers.   . .

Meat co-ops see obstacles to merger:

Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group, agree that further consolidation is needed in the meat industry.

But both big farmer-owned co-operatives see different obstacles in the way of the farmer campaign to merge the two co-ops as the starting point for forcing wider changes in the industry.

The Meat Industry Excellence group is frustrated at the failure of the major processors and exporters to agree on any reform measures after months of discussions. It is pushing a merger idea in co-op board elections currently underway.

However, Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart of Canterbury says it does not support the view that the co-operatives should be the main vehicle for consolidation and bear the costs. . .

Sustained crop returns for wheat and maize:

Digging a little deeper into the budget for grain fertiliser has valuable paybacks in terms of crop yields for maize and wheat, according to recent studies funded by Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

Trials were undertaken in Canterbury, Southland and Waikato in spring 2012 to evaluate the performance of standard urea against Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s SustaiN, which is urea coated with the urease inhibitor AGROTAIN®. Agrotain is a nitrogen stabiliser that has been proven to suppress ammonia volatilisation, delivering more nitrogen directly to the soil where it can contribute to plant growth.

The trials showed that the additional cost of $11/ha for SustaiN (applied at 100 kg N/ha) was readily recouped. . .

 


Proposals for freshwater management

November 8, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have released proposals for improving freshwater management, including national water standards.

On-going and reliable supply of healthy water is one of the most important environmental and economic issues facing New Zealand today,” Ms Adams says.

“It is critical that we protect and improve the water quality that we all care so much about.”

“This is an issue that affects us all. We need to work together to create a better way of managing what is New Zealand’s most important natural resource,” Mr Guy says.

In 2011, the Government required regions to maintain or improve the water quality in their lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers.

In March a document was released outlining the Government’s proposed plan of action for improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

In August, the Government announced its intention to create a collaborative planning option for the development of a freshwater plan within a community.

Today, the Government is releasing a document to seek the public’s feedback on more detailed proposals for amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

The discussion document seeks feedback on the Government’s proposals for:

  • a national framework to support communities setting freshwater objectives
  • explicit recognition of tangata whenua values for freshwater
  • ecosystem and human health as compulsory values in regional plans
  • bottom lines for ecosystem and human health that apply everywhere, and

restricted grounds for exceptions to bottom lines; and

  • requiring councils to account for all water takes and contaminant discharges

More than 60 freshwater scientists from public, private and academic sectors across New Zealand have come up with numeric values proposed for national bottom lines for freshwater.

Ministers have not been involved in the scientific detail of the framework.

The numbers have also been tested with a reference group of water users to make sure they are practical. Further water quality attributes and numbers will be added over time.

The framework will be underpinned by good information that supports regional decision-making, including the environmental, social and economic impacts of any proposed objectives and limits.

“As a minimum, councils still have to maintain or improve water quality, but we are proposing a safety net in national bottom lines for ecosystem and human health,” Ms Adams says.

“These are to safeguard aquatic life in our water bodies, and ensure we can enjoy our water for activities like boating and wading.”

“We expect people to debate these bottom lines – that’s the nature of science – but the freshwater scientists’ numbers we are releasing today also reflect the important role of value judgements in choosing how we use our fresh water,” Mr Guy says.

“If we can get agreement now, there will be less arguing and litigation over regional plans and resource consent applications. It will give people more certainty about what is allowed and what is not, and all this will save time and money.”

The discussion document, the draft amended National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and supporting documents and studies are available here.

Public meetings and hui will be held around the country this month and next. Dates and venues will be posted on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

Amy Adams’ speech is here.

Farmers are welcoming the proposals.

“What is being proposed directly comes out of the recommendations of the Land & Water Forum and represent a significant change in how communities will plan for water into the future,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“This is a collaborative response to what has been a collaborative process.

“It is a framework which provides an accounting system for measuring water quantity and quality. This reduces much of the subjective emotion that has typified the discussion and sets bottom lines for water quality.

“This also is about giving communities the power to set their own aspirations for water. For the first time this will be scientifically, culturally and economically informed. It won’t be easy and will need some sacrifice from agriculture and urban communities alike.

“As Minister Adams noted at the launch, some of our most polluted waterways are in our towns and cities. It is why every New Zealander has a responsibility to play their part.

“Just like some farmers may face greater restrictions, some cities and their ratepayers may face wastewater upgrades costing hundreds of millions of dollars. The thing about the proposed amendments is that it introduces the concept of time; many issues may have taken decades to build and may take decades to resolve.

“I can confidently say New Zealand’s primary industries are up for this challenge.

“It is a challenge that rightly starts by giving communities the full facts. This is helped by input provided by 60 of New Zealand’s foremost freshwater scientists. For the first time we can build up a picture for what the impacts are and where they are coming from.

“It will also be helped by giving communities an idea as to what the costs of water options being considered are. As long as the community goes into decisions with its eyes open, as farmers, we cannot really complain.

“Many of the issues we face are long-term and the solutions will equally need an intergenerational approach. That makes it important to get the foundations right.

“While the framework is not complete and needs details to flesh it out, it and the consultation now underway, are important steps towards a more open and honest discussion about water,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

IrrigationNZ says the integration of socio-economic and environmental objectives is the only way New Zealand will achieve long-term sustainability.

“It’s good to see the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum being put into action and IrrigationNZ applauds the scientists and planners behind the framework. It’s a sensible, well-informed first iteration and we look forward to its further development,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

Mr Curtis says communities will now be able to come together and make informed decisions around the values of local waterways. “The framework delivers a more consistent approach to the setting of freshwater objectives and limits throughout New Zealand. IrrigationNZ is particularly excited by the breadth of community values that have been captured. Long term sustainability requires the marrying of socio economic and environmental aspirations and the framework achieves that.”

Another highlight for IrrigationNZ is recognition within the framework that communities need flexibility as they work towards meeting freshwater objectives.

“This is important as there are many factors impacting on water quality and a range of management approaches that can be taken as a result. While much of New Zealand’s freshwater resource is in good shape, there are also hotspots that urgently require attention. For IrrigationNZ, our contribution is working out how we better use water for irrigation and the framework reinforces that with its focus on measurement. Irrigators understand the importance of monitoring and measurement as our industry is founded on it. Our work programme is now based on improving water use efficiency and minimising nutrient losses to groundwater and waterways which will go a long way to delivering improved freshwater outcomes.”

The one jarring note for IrrigationNZ is the continuing debate around what should be included as attributes in the national bottom lines.

“In reality it’s difficult to set national bottom lines for many attributes due to the diversity and complexity of our landscape and waterbodies. Some freshwater attributes, particularly biotic-based indicators that are derived from multiple parameters, are better set at the catchment level where scenario specific analysis can be undertaken.”

Forest and Bird says the proposals are a good first step towards cleaner rivers.

. . . “Currently, regional councils decide their own water quality values. Inevitably, these have been disputed by different sectors all the way to the Environment Court,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“It makes real sense to get consistency and agreement, all at once at a national level, and to have nationally consistent bottom lines.

“While the National Objectives Framework is a good start, as proposed, it would benefit from some more flesh on its bones,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“An obvious omission is that there is no objective that directly relates to the health of freshwater insects, and we hope that they can be included in the national framework that is implemented. Insects provide a direct measurement of how healthy a lake or river is,”
Kevin Hackwell says.

“Where there are still gaps in the regional science – which mean we can’t yet agree on a national set of numbers for particular water quality values – we should still be able to agree on some tight wording on what standards we want to see achieved.

“Tight ’descriptive’ objectives would provide crucial guidance for regional councils to work to, while the figures are worked out,” Kevin Hackwell says.

The Environmental Defence Society also says the proposals are a good first step.

“This is the critically important keystone to the entire freshwater reform process,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“When EDS initiated the Land and Water Forum process in 2008, we had no idea it would take so long to get to this important stage. We finally have a draft of the much-needed national guidance for freshwater management in New Zealand.

“The overall NOF framework appears to be consistent with the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. That much is welcome.

“However the actual standards and bottom-lines proposed are incomplete and those that are there will need strengthening.

“In particular, we are aware the Science Panels and the Reference Group recommended that macroinvertebrates (small living critters in freshwater systems) should be included – but they haven’t been. We think this can and should be fixed in the final version.

“Overall, some of the other bottom-line standards appear weaker than expected and in many cases are considerably lower than current water quality. We will need to take scientific advice on what adjustments are required. We have to have standards that ensure that no further deterioration in freshwater quality occurs and that we are on an overall improvement pathway especially in lowland streams and rivers.

“Overall, New Zealand’s freshwater should be swimmable and fishable as a minimum.

“The government is running a series of workshops and consultation feedback has been sought with a closing date in February.

“On this occasion the government is generally on the right pathway which will be welcomed by my colleagues on the Land and Water Forum as being in accord with the consensus position we arrived at. EDS stands by that consensus,” Mr Taylor concluded.

Getting consensus on the freshwater strategy is far better than imposing something which will result in on-going wrangles and litigation.

Consensus does however, often require compromise.

All parties involved have a strong desire to ensure we have good freshwater standards that result in clean water. If they keep that in mind they ought to be able to build on what they have in common and work around their differences.

 

 

 


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

August 20, 2013

Important not to let China dominate red meat sector – Allan Barber:

It’s a scary thought how quickly things have changed, but China has become one of New Zealand’s biggest markets for red meat, almost without any warning.

After years of thinking of UK/Europe as our biggest market for sheepmeat and the USA for beef with all other countries way down the chart, China has surged to reach the status of our biggest destination by volume for sheepmeat with 60,000 tonnes in the last 12 months compared with 55,000 to the UK.

The rise in beef is less dramatic, although year on year volume increased by more than 600% to 27,500 tonnes. However this volume is larger than exports to any single market other than the USA. The increases are less pronounced if measured in dollars, but the message is the same. . . .

Innovation from grassroots:

Retaining primary sector research and development to maintain competitiveness while at the same time diversifying into other key areas is important, says industry body DairyNZ.

Commenting on the launch of a new book, Get Off the Grass: Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy, by Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says dairying in New Zealand has not been ‘backed’ at the expense of other sectors.

“Its export value has grown by 83% in the last 10 years because our industry is innovative, resilient and highly competitive,” he says. “And I agree that diversifying our economic base is important,” says Mackle.

“Some of the research I’ve seen points to the importance of cities and regions being powerful drivers of knowledge economies. They are associated with significant productivity gains and innovation and high densities of businesses in related industries. The new Lincoln Agri Hub that DairyNZ is a part of is an agricultural response to that for Christchurch and Canterbury. There is a food one in Palmerston North and we are looking to develop a hub in the Waikato too,” he says. . .

Primary industry mobile tech forum draws the digerati - sticK:

Numbers tell a story on their own.

And the fact that over 220 attendees ponyed up at the Mobile Tech Summit 2013 in Wellington on August 7 & 8 underscores the message that our natural resources aren’t as old-hat as some would like to believe.

This new event is designed to showcase current and upcoming mobile innovations in New Zealand’s principle food and fibre sections.

In other words; the application of smartphones and mobile devices across our biological industries – which for all the movies made in New Zealand and talk of standalone digital businesses, still underpin our economy. . .

Farm compliance and water breakthroughs:

Figures obtained by the Dominion Post show a significant fall in the number of dairy farmers receiving infringement and abatement notices.  This follows hard on the heels of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) reporting in 90 percent of monitored sites, water quality over 2000-2010, was either stable or showed improvement

“The numbers from the Dominion Post tell the full story and that is one of marked improvement,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“While the Dominion Post has singled out dairy farming over the past five seasons, we are buoyed to see the number of abatement notices almost halve while infringement notices have more than halved.  . .

Changes to farming regulations on the horizon:

Federated Farmers supports Government proposals to change the Resource Management Act (RMA) but there are some changes still to be made.

“The principles behind the changes are to give certainty to the planning process and to consenting,” said Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers’ Environment spokesperson.

“I’m sure everyone will welcome greater consistency and faster decision making. The changes should make local authorities better to deal with and more accountable.

“We are disappointed that the Government is still not addressing inconsistencies with the framework of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water; devised to protect indigenous aquatic flora, fauna and habitat. The proposed RMA changes continue to protect introduced predator species, such as trout. You cannot have it both ways. . .

Best plants for bees - Raymond Huber:

Honey bees are the glue that holds our agricultural system together…Hannah Nordhaus

It’s Bee Week and Time magazine features The Plight of the Honeybee (hey Mr. Time Editor, it’s ‘honey bee’, two words, not one). One cause of bee decline is monocultural farming: bees are starving because of a lack of flower diversity. You can help by planting bee-friendly fruit trees, bushes, herbs and wild flowers:
  • Plant nectar-rich flowers: clovers and mimosa; rosemary, thyme and sage; koromiko and veronicas; brassicas; dandelion, sunflower, dahlias, cosmos, and zinnia
  • Bees like bluish-purple flowers such as Californian lilac, erica, and lavender . . .

Rural round-up

March 2, 2013

Grain farmers step up to meet stock feed needs:

With the availability of supplementary feed in the North Island becoming tight due to extremely dry conditions, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed is promoting New Zealand feed grains and straw as a major supplementary feed solution.

“North Island dairy farmers in particular are weighing up the economic cost of drying off early,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Grain and Seed chairperson and a dual grains and dairy farmer himself.

“Federated Farmers Grain & Seed believes New Zealand feed grains and straw are solutions, especially out of the South Island.

“These are not only cost competitive to imported feeds but are available in quantity right now. These could help hard pressed dairy farmers in seeing the milking season through to its proper end and could also help out our meat and fibre colleagues too. . .

Happier cows could be one solution to industry’s employment issues:

With more and more dairy farm staff entering the industry from urban backgrounds an animal husbandry expert says there has to be more emphasis placed on stockmanship skills, which start with managers and owners having farm policies that put animal welfare first.

 animal husbandry expert Chris Leach and farm dairying specialist Mel Eden share a passion for interpreting cow behaviour and helping farmers get “inside the cow’s head.” By understanding their animals, they say farmers will improve job satisfaction for farm staff, animal health and the bottom-line.

In March the two experts will present a workshop called ‘Interpreting cow behaviour’ to more than 300 dairying women at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Nelson – most of them farm owners and managers. . .

Bovine TB control achieves less cattle and deer TB testing:

The success of the TBfree New Zealand programme has led to more than 3750 cattle and deer herds having their movement control restrictions, or number of bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests, scaled down.

Animal Health Board (AHB) National TB Manager Kevin Crews said the decrease is due to a strong focus on TB-infected wild animal control, strict movement rules on infected herds and an extensive cattle and deer testing programme.

The AHB is responsible for implementing the TBfree New Zealand programme which is working to eradicate bovine TB in New Zealand. Changes to movement restrictions will affect around 50 herds across Tasman, Marlborough and North Canterbury from 1 March 2013. . .

MPI Applauds Stiff Fine For Border Cheat:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) applauds the stiff fine handed down to a woman who three years earlier tried to deceive an airport quarantine inspector and illegally bring packets of bird nest into New Zealand.

Chen Shar Wong was arrested at the Auckland International Airport on Wednesday after arriving from Taiwan. She faced two charges under the Biosecurity Act 1993 of knowingly making false and misleading statements to an inspector, and knowingly attempting to possess unauthorised goods under the Crimes Act.

On 28 February 2010, an MPI quarantine inspector seized four packets of bird nest from Mrs Wong at the airport. Mrs Wong had claimed the bird nests were sea weed. . .

Biosecurity Report Welcomed By Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the release today, by the Office of the Auditor General, of the report into the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) preparedness and response to biosecurity incursions.

Dr Scott Champion, B+LNZ CEO, said the report made a number of observations and recommendations that have previously been identified by a joint-Government and industry report into the current state of readiness for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), published last year.

“These and other learnings from Exercise Taurus (a FMD incursion simulation) are the ongoing focus of a collaborative process between the affected livestock industries and MPI to make the improvements required in this area,” he said. . .

Ballance closes the loop on investments for growth:

Ballance has taken a further step in its growth strategy, moving to full ownership of animal nutrition company Seales Winslow Limited and farm technology company Farmworks Systems Limited. It has held 51% shareholdings in both companies since 2011.

Ballance Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau says full ownership will see the co-operative better placed to support the growth goals of both business units, enabling Ballance to meet increasing demand from customers for the full range farm nutrients and technology which enable them to farm smarter and more productively.

“Farm nutrients and technology are clearly two growing areas of the market and a natural fit with our core business. We know that farmers are looking towards strategic animal nutrition supplementation and farm technology to get the best returns from their businesses and reduce their environmental footprint. . .

Soil and Health Association applauds new organic research report:

New Zealand’s oldest organic organisation, and publishers of Organic NZ , the Soil & Health Association – Organic NZ, is delighted with the growth in the number of organic producers and consumers over the past three years.

“The results in the latest organic market research report show that organics is definitely moving from the fringe into the mainstream,” says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson, Soil & Health – Organic NZ.

Soil &Health – Organic NZ has sponsored a new section in this year’s report,which covers the organic community sector. “Our National Council was delighted to be able to offer their support to such worthy research” said Ms Swanwick. . .


Rural round-up

January 11, 2013

Labour spokesperson’s quad confusion gets it sort of right:

Federated Farmers welcomes the belated support of Labour to reclassify quad bikes as agricultural vehicles, given the Federation has lobbied for this change.

“While we welcome Labour’s change of heart, it is a shame it did not come when Federated Farmers submitted for quad bikes to be reclassified as agricultural vehicles,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Transport spokesperson.

“Unfortunately for Iain Lees-Galloway, Labour’s Transport Safety spokesperson, he doesn’t seem to know that quad bikes

Gisborne Milk Co-op survival bid washed away by Fonterra ‘perfect storm’

Gisborne Milk Co-op survival bid washed away by Fonterra ‘perfect storm’ – Paul McBeth:

Gisborne Milk Co-op, the 66-year-old Bay of Plenty dairy supplier in liquidation, has lost a last-ditch bid to get back shares and supply arrangements with Fonterra Cooperative Group.

In the High Court in Auckland, Justice Rebecca Ellis turned down Gisborne Milk’s claim that Fonterra breached its empowering legislation, saying the Bay of Plenty firm made its own commercial decisions to surrender shares in the cooperative. The Dec. 17 judgment was published on the Justice Ministry’s website this week.

“It is difficult not to think of the shareholders Gisborne Milk as sailors caught in a perfect storm,” Justice Ellis said. “It is impossible not to have considerable sympathy for them. But none of their claims can succeed.” . .

are not and have never been classed as an agricultural vehicle. They are in fact classed as an ‘all-terrain vehicle.’ . . .

nternet paves way for southern merchants – Tim Fulton:

The days of wool merchants operating like “rag and bone men” have given way to flexible, efficient trading online, a large Canterbury operator says.

As a shed-buyer Mainland Wool is comfortable handling loads from one bale to 1000, using the Wool Online system to keep cost to a minimum.

The five-year-old company has become the biggest wool merchant in the South Island and is convinced of the value in electronic sales, which have become a fixture for southern operators.

One of Mainland’s three owner-operators, Dean Harrison, said online sales were ideal for them as an alternative to auction centres like Christchurch and Napier. . .

Satara boss Wilson takes final jab at Zespri fees in outgoing update – Paul McBeth:

Departing Satara Cooperative Group boss Tom Wilson has taken a stab at Zespri International’s brokerage fees at the expense of growers in his last update to shareholders.

The Te Puke-based kiwifruit and avocado grower is still in talks with Zespri, which controls the nation’s kiwifruit exports, over its 6% brokerage rate on gross sale proceeds and 6% of FOB sales, which Wilson says is costing growers between $60 million and $140 million every year.

“I continue to be amazed at the politics, patch protection and commercial arrogance that prevents this money going to growers – this should have been sorted years ago,” Wilson said. . .

‘Green’ Americans underpin price of beef - Jonathan Underhill:

It is possible to be too cute about cause and effect, but America’s determination to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bolster its fuel security ultimately benefits New Zealand beef farmers.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which contains the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard known as RFS2, calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be added to America’s transport fuel supply (excluding jet fuel) by 2022 from a target of 16.55 billion gallons in 2013.

Of the 2022 target, the amount from corn starch-derived ethanol is capped at 15 billion gallons. The drive for mandatory minimum volumes of biofuels began in 2005 and was a shot in the arm for corn growers. Ethanol from sugar cane and biodiesel from soy are also recognised by the Environmental Protection Agency which administers RFS2. . .

Top International Wine Media Eagerly Anticipating Nelson International Aromatics Symposium:

A select group of the world’s most influential wine commentators will be descending on the small country village of Upper Moutere, near Nelson in early February to taste, compare and discuss Aromatic wines.

They include internationally recognised wine experts Matthew Jukes and Jamie Goode from the UK, David Lawrason from Canada, Alder Yarrow and Jordan McKay from the USA, Cees van Casteren and Cuno Van’t Hoff from the Netherlands, Felicity Carter from Germany and Jan Arrnhenius and Jan Peterson from Sweden alongside some of New Zealand’s top wine commentators. . .

Demand Lifts Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island first wool auction for 2013 resulted in a strong market based on recent increased buying interest particularly from China.

Of the 21,900 bales on offer, 90 percent of the offering sold. The weighted indicator for the main trading currency compared to the last sale on 19th December was practically unchanged, lifting only 0.05 percent and having no impact on prices. . .

The ANZ Contest is heating up:

The District Finals are completed, the Regional Finalists have been found, and the anticipation is building because the next phase of ANZ Young Farmer Contest is about to begin. The ANZ Young Farmer Contest, now in its 45th year, is New Zealand’s Ultimate Rural Challenge, inspiring excellence, showcasing innovation and growing human capabilities.

District Finals are the entry level for the Contest and over 300 New Zealand Young Farmer members from throughout the country entered in one of 23 District Finals held in the last few months of 2012.

Each District Final was organised and run by a team of local volunteers. . . .

Beef + Lamb NZ has a competition to win dinner with the three Iron Maidens here.

And from Medical Humour:

Photo


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.


Water quality concern for all

October 19, 2012

The Ministry of Environment report on water quality shows most of our popular coastal swimming spots are fine for swimming most of the time but there are many freshwater swimming spots which should be avoided.

The immediate response to this was criticism of farmers and “dirty dairying” in particular.

But farmingin genreal and dairying in particular are not the only culprits.

The New Zealand Herald editorial calls for more action from farmers but also points out:

. . . Oil and brake fluid released onto roads is carried by rains into stormwater drains and end up in streams. Too often in heavy rain wastewater systems overflow and add to the contamination. . .

I make no excuses for people who pollute waterways but some of the criticism levelled at farmers is unfair and where farming can be blamed, it’s not necessarily dairying that is causing problems.

The MfE data summary shows the Kakanui River at Clifton Falls as having poor water quality.

This is very near the intake for the rural water scheme which supplies the water we drink but it is upstream of any dairy farms.

Further down the Kakanui from Clifton Falls, below several sheep and dairy farms and some intensive horticulture,  at the estuary the water quality is fair.

We’ve been working with the regional council to ensure we’re doing all we can on our farm to protect waterways. Tests showed high E-coli below a dam and it wasn’t our stock or farming practices which were to blame, it was water fowl.

Some water issues can be laid at the feet of human visitors too  Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesman notes:

“Being a representative farmers’ organisation, we know our members cannot duck or hide that a number of these sites do fall in rural areas. Federated Farmers is aware of this and is why we are working across industry and with our own members to lift agriculture’s game.

“I know farmers ‘get it’ and this is why it is wrong to blame farming for everything. Doing that masks the reality there are very poor sites around settlements and near camp sites. . . 

Some farmers still need to improve their practices but most recognise the need to protect waterways. Feds chief executive Conor English says:

. . . The focus needs to be on finding solutions, based on sound science and profitable and sustainable farming.

Farmers are custodians of the land and water, harvesting for the benefit of today and future generations. They want to leave it better than they found it.

While some still need to pull their socks up, farmers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars putting in effluent systems, excluding stock from waterways, measuring fertiliser and investing in more efficient irrigation. That investment has allowed export growth, earning money to pay the bills for hospitals, schools and other services. It provides jobs and has improved the environment.

Water-quality measures must include all those whose discharge into rivers . . .

Water quality concerns us all and improving it requires improvements in both rural and urban practices.


Rural round-up

June 17, 2012

Rates gouge farm incomes – Tim Fulton:

Thank goodness export prices are strong because a Beef + Lamb New Zealand report says local authority rates have risen cumulatively by just over 30% over the past five years.

“At an average increase of 6.1% each year it defines the expression ‘inflation busting’,” Federated Farmers local government spokesperson David Rose said when The New Zealand Farmers Weekly showed him B+LNZ’s figures.

The rates insight is part of the Economic Service’s regular survey of on-farm costs, combining data from Statistics New Zealand with its own assessments. . . 

Looking beyond the dollars at Winter Dairy Days:

Helping dairy farmers look ‘beyond the dollars’ at their whole farm system management is the goal of a series of winter dairy workshops being held by the Dairy Women’s Network around New Zealand in June and July.

The five workshops are being held in Winton, Rotorua, Cambridge, Hokitika and Nelson at the end of June and beginning of July and are a great follow on from the Essential Farm Finance days run by the Network earlier in the year.

Ngatea dairy farmer and farm consultant, Julie Pirie, will lead four of the workshops, with Te Anau dairy farmer Anna Kempthorne speaking at the Winton event. . . .

NZ Farming Systems cuts FY guidance as dry weather reduces milk production – Hannah Lynch,

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer controlled by Singapore’s Olam International, will miss its target to break even on a pretax basis this year after dry weather stunted pasture growth and milk output.

Farming Systems is now forecasting a loss of US$3 million to US$5 million on an earnings before interest and tax basis. The company will break even once it accounts for a fair value adjustment in the value of livestock, it said in a statement.

“Milk production continues to increase significantly year on year, although the very dry summer and autumn weather in Uruguay along with the later-than-expected completion of the new dairies, has resulted in milk production to date being below forecast,” it said. . .

Arable farmers cut back grain in favour of seed crops:

Arable farmers are cutting back on wheat and barley for next season and planting more seed crops in response to falling grain prices.

Growers cut back on seed production last year in response to higher grain prices but increased wheat and barley production and record yields created high stock levels and reduced prices.

Federated Farmers grain and seed chair Ian Mackenzie says the one contract price offered for milling wheat so far has dropped from about $460 to $420 a tonne.

Feed grain contract prices have dropped from about $410 to $360 a tonne.

Water storage scheme ‘vital’ for Hawke’s Bay farmers:

A central Hawke’s Bay farm consultant says farmers regard a proposed $220 million water storage scheme as being a vital step in the economic growth of the region.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has this week been hearing submissions on the Ruataniwha scheme, which could provide irrigation to 22,500 hectares of farm land.

Consultant Roy Fraser has visited northern Tasmania where he says farmers have been using water storage for more than 70 years. . . 

Dairy breeding a family tradition – Hugh Stringleman:

Stuart Bay retired on May 31 as chairman of the dairy co-operative LIC, the fourth generation of his family to serve on livestock improvement co-operative boards.

After 37 years of dairy herd improvement governance, perhaps Bay has seen and done it all?

No way. Bay would like his 22 years on the LIC board over again, for a ring-side seat for what he believes are the most exciting years to come in dairy genetics.

LIC is beginning to deliver genomics science, which promises dairy farmers routine gene fingerprinting of their calves, to quickly identify the most productive milkers and their predisposition to faults and diseases.

Trees on farms workshop : maximizing marginal land use:

A Trees on Farms workshop particularly designed for Maori landowners and farmers taking an inter-generational view of their land management options is being held in Ohope on Wednesday 20 June.

This workshop will focus on in the opportunities and benefits trees can provide in developing management for the marginal or less productive parts of the farm, and those attending will be able to discuss tree planting options with Maori land owners, experienced farm foresters and regional council staff.

The workshop and field trip will feature the Ohope property of Ngāti Awa Group Holdings, looking at trees as an intergenerational land management tool providing sustainable agribusiness solutions and enhancing long term land use. . . 


Rural round-up

May 26, 2012

Reward for consistency – Rebecca Harper:

The accolade of Producer of the Decade was bestowed upon them at the 2012 Steak of Origin grand final, but for Angus breeders Chris and Karren Biddles, it was the reward for consistently producing a quality product.

“We like to breed good product and sell good product,” Chris Biddles sums up the philosophy that has seen Te Atarangi Angus named Producer of the Decade.

Chris and his wife Karren farm just under 1000 hectares on the Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville in Northland, and have been long time supporters of beef cattle breeding in New Zealand. . .

Plenty of bull topped off with a great feed – Jon Morgan:

Aaaaah, Beef Expo. First to assail the senses is the smell. Bullshit and coffee.

Then it’s the noise. Over the low roar of farmers discussing the weather is the enraged bellowing of caged bulls. And somewhere in the distance a tormented soul is shouting out the same number over and over again.

He’s auctioneer Bruce Orr. “I bid 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000 dollars. I’ve got 4000 to bid, 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000.” And so on at break-tongue speed.

Later, I count him and he gets close to 100 times repeating the same number before a bidder takes pity on him and raises him $200. Then it starts again.

It’s my annual immersion in the world of beef breeding. . .

Shear joy for wool industry -

As a young girl growing up on Mt Nicholas Station, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, Kate Cocks was used to a life of uncertainty. Her parents, Lynda and Robert Butson, were high-country merino farmers, their extensive 100,000-acre property spreading from the edge of the lake to the tops of the distant peaks.

“Twenty years ago our wool cheque could vary from $300,000 one year to $1.2 million the next,” says Cocks, who is now the manager of Mt Nicholas Station. . .

Clicking on the link above will take you to a video.

Forum hailed for brdiging troubled waters – Jon Morgan:

 If I could meet the 80 people representing the 60 organisations and five iwi that make up the Land and Water Forum, I would ask them to turn their backs. Then I would give each one a well-deserved pat.

That’s unlikely, so I’ll do it in print. What these people have achieved, and are still to achieve, is awe-inspiring.

Formed four years ago under the leadership of environmental advocates Gary Taylor and Guy Salmon, the forum now includes the representatives of everyone with a stake in the sustainability of our freshwater resource – a remarkable achievement. . .

Dairy expansion pushes cow total to more than 6 million -Annette Scott:

Dairy expansion in the South Island has driven the national dairy herd to over six million while fewer lambs and breeding ewes saw sheep numbers take another tumble in 2011, according to the latest agricultural production survey.

Final results from the 2011 survey show a continued increase in the national dairy herd. An increase of 259,000 dairy cattle brought the number to 6.17m, up 4.4% from 2010.

More cattle were kept for milk production and future replacement, a result of the high payout and strong international demand for dairy products. The national milking herd was 4.82m, 136,000 more than in 2010. . .

The rise and importance of the US dairy industry – Xcheque:

If you have been watching the dairy industry news over the past month you will have noted a growing nervousness about the state of international dairy commodity markets and the flow on effects of this at farmgate.

It certainly appears that there is a gathering storm, one brought about by the over-exuberance of the global dairy traders. 7 billion litres of extra milk production in 2011 from the EU, US, NZ and Argentina, and no sign of the growth rate easing in the first two months of 2012. Domestic demand growth from these countries is typically less than 1% or about 2 billion litres – the balance needs to go onto world markets. Is this possible?

Not if history is a guide. . .

Ray of hope for dairy industry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are expected to be on average 42,000 dollars worse off this season following yesterday’s announcement by Fonterra that it has to cut its milk payout forecast because of softening global dairy prices.

But a New Zealand product gaining increasing attention in the United States could help offset those losses.

Queen of Calves was invented on a Manawatu family farm and promises to raise milk production by 18 per cent. . .

Southland TB campaigner wins deer industry award:

Retiring TBfree Southland Committee member Kevin Gilmour has been awarded the prestigious Matuschka Award by the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association.

Kevin has been associated with the TBfree committee for 20 years. Until recently, he ran a successful deer farm on the edge of the Hokonui Hills, while working tirelessly to communicate, advocate and support the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme in Southland.

“The award came as a very nice surprise. However, I can’t emphasis enough how important the support and technical expertise of the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association and TBfree committee has been in achieving our objectives,” he said. . .

Farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum to set the agenda:

Hard on the heels of the Land & Water Forum report, Federated Farmers has taken the lead by convening a farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum.  Taking place at the Ashburton Trust Events Centre on 7 June, it gives all farmers a chance to see what the future holds.

“This Water Forum is very much a forum for farmers by farmers.  It’s about looking at water and environmental stewardship through fresh eyes,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

“It’s so important that ATS is helping us put it together.  It’s about issues, yes, but it’s about practical solutions farmers can take inside the farmgate. . .


Money for irrigation and cleaner water

September 18, 2011

Agriculture Minister David Carter  has announced the opening 0f applications for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

“NZIER research suggests the fund could support 340,000ha of new irrigation, which could boost exports by $1.4 billion a year by 2018, rising to $4 billion a year by 2026.

“All successful projects will need to be committed to good industry practice that promotes efficient water use and environmental management, particularly around land-use intensification.  Irrigation good practice is essential if we are to protect our vital water resource for tomorrow,” says Mr Carter.  

The fund will support regional scale rural water infrastructure proposals that address:

  • regional rural water infrastructure
  • community irrigation schemes
  • strategic water management studies.

Mr Carter says the Government will contribute up to 50 percent through the fund to successful proposals.  Applications will be assessed by MAF, with input from a panel of independent experts.  The final decision will be made by the Director General of MAF.

The same day Environment Minister Nick Smith announced the criteria and assessment panel for the new fund to help councils and communities clean-up nationally significant water bodies that have been polluted.

That fund was one of the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum which has been engaged by the Government to progress the next stage of policy work on setting limits on water quality, quantity and allocation.

Progress on fresh water reform stalled for a decade because of highly polarised positions. The Land and Water Forum has done a great job bringing together farmers, environmentalists, industry and iwi to develop an agreed way forward. We are releasing today the Government’s high level response to the Land and Water Forum’s April report and are engaging the Forum to do further work on the complex issue of setting water limits and improving systems for allocation,” the Ministers said.

Federated Farmers says the announcements are about the cleaning up from the  past and looking after the future:

The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will help transform and future proof New Zealand agriculture on the same day another fund, the ‘Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund’, will help communities remedy the legacy of the past. . . .

Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers RMA and environment spokesperson said:

“There’s no coincidence that it is announced concurrently with the ‘Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund’. This is about the future every bit as much as the past.

“The $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund is a positive step forward to developing water as a resource. That’s because 95 percent of the water used in agriculture does not come from storage and when I use the term agriculture, I include horticulture and the wine industry too.

“Federated Farmers has enthusiastically pushed for a ‘new water’ policy because this is about storing what falls from the sky. Economic studies done on the Opuha Dam during the last Labour Government showed an 8:1 economic payback.

“The $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund could well unlock billions of dollars in benefits.

“What’s more, native fish and water fowl can’t prosper in dry river beds. Water also provides recreational and community gains. . . .

Those community gains are environmental, recreational and economic.

Water storage provides opportunities for fishing and water sports, it can enhance waterways to ensure they have a reasonable minimum flow during dry spells and also protect soils from wind erosion.

Storing water for irrigation safe-guards farms during droughts which ensures money keeps flowing through to the people and businesses who work for, supply and service farmers.

We had about 10 mls of rain yesterday, it’s the first significant precipitation since the two winter snow falls. Without irrigation we’d be starting to worry, with reliable water we know we can grow grass whatever the weather.

There is potential for more irrigation here and in other places. The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will help the development of new schemes while the work of the Land and Water Forum will ensure past mistakes are cleaned up and not repeated in the future.


Rural round-up

July 17, 2011

Farming couple move south to live dream – Collette Devlin:

Hannes and Lyzanne Du Plessis travelled to New Zealand from South Africa eight years ago with their child, a suitcase and only $20 in a bank account.

Six weeks ago, they moved to Southland with their three children to contract milk on a dairy syndicate managed by MyFarm at Edendale.

“We had no idea our lives would go in this direction,” Mrs Du Plessis said. “We want our story to inspire others. You do not need a lot of money or experience, because the opportunities to live your dream are all here within the New Zealand dairy industry.” . . .

Self-shedding dorper sheep a growing breed - Collette Devlin:

The dorper sheep, a common sight in most parts of the country, was introduced to New Zealand by a Southland breeder, but it remains a rare breed in the region.

There are 45 registered breeders in New Zealand but only four of these are registered in Southland, the New Zealand Sheep Breeders Association reports. Two are in Gore, one in Balclutha and one in South Otago . . .

Problems facing new grain and seed head - Gerald Piddock:

Ian Mackenzie has taken up the chair of Federated Farmers Grain and Seed at a tumultuous time.

He comes into the role after a tough few years for grain farmers with a grain surplus keeping returns low for many of them . . .

June farm sales up year on year but median price per hectare at 7 year low says REINZ – Gareth Vaughan:

A total of 111 farms changed hands last month, 30 more than in June
last year, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand
(REINZ), with nearly half the sales coming in Canterbury, Otago and
Southland. However, REINZ says the median price per hectare is now at
its lowest level since July 2004.

The June sales included 13 dairy farms and 59 grazing properties and
compares with the 81 farms that changed hands in June 2010, 80 in June
2009, 216 in June 2008, 212 in June 2007 and 158 in June 2006. . .

Radicalsim from the far right – Tony Chaston:

Don Nicolsons foray into politics from a Federated Farmers background
is not new, as many well known politicans have started their political
career via this way.

Just how successful he will be only time will tell, but it is
interesting to note that Bruce Wills the new president has already
stated that his style will be less divisive. Is the political following
by farmers changing, and are they moving further to the right and away
from ther traditional National Party roots? . .

Nestle takes slice of Vital Foods:

A subsidiary of global food giant Nestle says it is taking a minority stake in Vital Foods, a New Zealand company that specialises in developing kiwifruit-based “functional foods” solutions for gastrointestinal conditions.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Nestle Health Science said in a statement that it would take a seat on the board of Vital Foods “to help steer future product development as well as commercial strategy”. . .

It’s time for some friendly persuasion – Jon Morgan:

Bruce Wills has the creased features of an outdoorsman and the dirty fingernails of a farmer who just a few hours before was dagging lambs in the Hawke’s Bay hills. But seated in the Wellington head office of Federated Farmers he looks at home in a suit and tie.

He is a model of the modern farmer – university educated, highly numerate, literate, articulate and computerate, and an agricultural jack-of-all-trades, handy with hammer, fencing pliers, shearer’s handpiece, drenching gun and team of dogs.

Now he wants to add political lobbying to his skillset – the tramping of corridors, handshaking, backslapping, joshing, hard talk, soft persuasion and smiling through clenched teeth . . .

I’ve got farming in my blood -  Eleanor Ainge Roy:

Bruce Wills, the new head of Federated Farmers, talks about a childhood spent taming the wilderness, and the price he paid for returning to the family land.

When the Wills family moved onto Trellinoe Farm in the late 1950s, 45km north of Napier, the only accommodation was a tiny rabbiter’s cottage, stuck on the knob of a hill. There were no gardens, no fences, and no grass. Just acres and acres of blackberry scrub, wild pigs and goats.

After more than 50 years of hard yakka turning the land into an 1100ha sheep and cattle station, Bruce Wills says the family is still in the “breaking in” phase.

Wills, 50, is the new president of Federated Farmers, and spent his first week in the job travelling between Rotorua, Wellington, Trellinoe and Hamilton. It was a hectic mix of attending meetings, talking to the media – and sheep crutching on his farm.

Prime lambs return record sale prices – Sally Rae:

Record prices for prime lambs at southern stock sales are      giving farmers something to smile about after last year’s      shocking season when up to a million lambs died in freezing      conditions.   

A pen of about 20 Dorset Down ram lambs sold for $223.50 each      at a recent Charlton stock sale in Gore. The price was      believed to be a record for the saleyards, PGG Wrightson Gore      livestock manager Mark Cuttance said .  . .

Growth rates beefed up in simple herd home – Sally Rae:

When Mike Elliot could not get the growth rates he    desired through winter to finish beef cattle – despite feeding    as much as they wanted to eat – he looked for an alternative.   

With an 88ha farm in South Otago, although about 11ha of that  was in trees, it was a fairly small property and he needed to   farm intensively.

But he had a “phobia” about making mud and there were also      the increasing costs of planting crops and the amount of time      and effort to feed cattle on those crops . . .   

Support, direction required for rural sector – Dr Marion Johnson:

Sometimes I completely fail to understand New Zealand. As a     nation we trade on a clean green image yet encourage the  desecration of our resources at every turn.   

 We espouse a No 8 wire mentality; yet I wonder how many   citizens even know what No 8 wire is? We no longer support  innovation, unless it is within a prescribed field and then I      would debate the legitimacy of calling such developments innovation . . .   

Bee roads and wildflowers can help save bees in the UK – pasture farmers  are key players  – Pasture to Profit:

Do you know what a “Bee Road” is?
It’s a wild flower planting on farms to attract & protect Bees. I’ve started my own “Bee Road” sowing a wild flower strip of about 40metres x 10m along a roadside on a pasture based dairy farm.  https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/seedmix/wild-flowers-1 

It was sown this spring & is now in glorious techno colour. The bees &
insects love it but there have been some problems like the dry weather &
weed infestation. I am justly proud of my efforts but there are frustrations .  . .

Farmsafe and AgITO launch Quad Bike Farm Licence:

Farmsafe, in association with Agriculture ITO (AgITO), has launched the Quad Bike Farm
Licence.

“On average 35 farmers come off their quad bikes every day,” Grant Hadfield, FarmSafe national manager, says.

“FarmSafe and AgITO are committed to reducing accidents and changing attitudes through training on safe quad bike riding practices.”

The Quad Bike Farm Licence is gained through a practical on job training package that covers safe quad bike riding practices as well as teaching participants to effectively identify, minimise and isolate potential bike riding hazards and make safe riding decisions. . .


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