Nick’s right

July 28, 2014

Fish and Game have their lines snared over Conservation Minister Nick Smith:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has been accused of bullying Fish and Game into ending its campaign for cleaner rivers and lakes.

The minister met with the Fish and Game Council in Wellington earlier this month where he was “deeply critical” of the organisation, says an attendee, Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes.

Mr Haynes told NZ Newswire Dr Smith was “clearly displeased” about the Fish and Game’s current anti-irrigation billboard campaign calling for better water quality in the country’s lakes and rivers.

“He specifically cited those billboards as something he’s displeased with. The minister was firing a very clear warning shot across the bows of Fish and Game that ‘I don’t like that campaign, don’t be noisy and pull your necks in’.”

Mr Haynes said Dr Smith “also said we need to change the Fish and Game model. I have no idea what he meant by that… but it didn’t sound very friendly.”

Mr Haynes said he was highly insulted when Dr Smith told those present at the public meeting that the organisation “sometimes behaves like a rabid NGO, worse than Forest and Bird”. . .

Bullying is an over-used and in this case inappropriate word for what the Minister said.
If the organisation gets political, as it does, it can expect a political response.
Fish and Game does sometime behave like a rabid NGO.

The worst example in recent times was going to court against farmers and the government in an attempt to get unfettered access to farms under pastoral leases.

Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union says the Minister is right to give Fish and Game a serve:

“We agree with the Minister that the election campaigning of Fish and Game is a gross breach of faith for a statutory body.”

“If a group of fishermen want to create an offshoot of the Green Party good on them – but they should pay for campaigning out of their own pocket not use statutory powers to charge for licences to fund political lobbying.”

“Nick Smith is right to be concerned that Fish and Game use its fishing tax to fund billboards endorsing the Green Party. Until Fish and Game put an end to taxpayer funded political campaigning, it should not be entitled to receive income from compulsory fishing and hunting licenses.”

However, the Minister refutes the claims made by Haynes:

. . . “The claims about what I said at the meeting are untrue. I am releasing these hand-written notes taken at the time by the departmental official from DOC’s head office responsible for Fish & Game who was at the meeting. His account is very different from that of Mr Haines, and is an accurate account of what was discussed. The notes are exactly as they were taken down at the time before any controversy arose,” Dr Smith says.

“Mr Haines is a long-time critic of me as Conservation Minister, most recently over 1080. He is not neutral and his deliberate misrepresentation of the meeting is driven by politics and the election season. I am taking legal advice over his statements. I have been a long-term advocate for improving New Zealand’s water quality, including putting in place New Zealand’s first National Policy Statement on Freshwater, and I find his statements offensive and defamatory.”

The notes are here and what they say the Minister said looks very reasonable to me.

I’d back the Minister  and his staff’s notes over Haynes whose outburst will have done nothing to help relationships with many of those who fund his organisation.

Fish and Game is funded by a tax on fishing and hunting licences.

Many of those who pay that tax are farmers who are incensed at the organisation’s blinkered and one-sided approach to issues and what isn’t just political campaigning but partisan political campaigning.


Rural round-up

July 20, 2014

Back agriculture back our Roads:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement to increase investment in our deteriorating rural roads, but has concerns at whether it will be enough.

“A proposed increase of 4.3 percent per annum for local road improvements, and a 2.4 percent increase for local road maintenance, is long overdue but it remains to be seen whether it is enough.” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government Spokesperson.

“To date, the investment in our rural roads has not kept up with inflation and it is evident in each pot hole and/or goat track that farmers, families, school buses and contractors navigate everyday.

“We are pleased this is now being addressed but is it a sufficient recognition of the importance of roading to an economy reliant on primary production, and in turn it’s long rural roads? . . .

More places earmarked for rural medical students:

Health Minister Tony Ryall has today announced there will be an additional 34 medical places for students next year at our two medical schools, including more positions earmarked for rural students.

Mr Ryall made the announcement at Taumarunui Hospital, a busy rural health facility in the King Country with around 100 staff. 

“Research shows that students who grew up in rural areas, such as Taumarunui, are more likely to go back and work in those areas. These extra places will help encourage more doctors to work in our rural communities,” says Mr Ryall.

“Since 2009 this government has now funded 170 extra medical school places. . . .

New Zealand Seafood Industry Assures Australian Consumers that its Seafood is Sustainable:

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) list of imported fish that it’s telling consumers to stay away from, sounds like an ‘underarm delivery’ to the New Zealand industry.

Seafood New Zealand’s Chairman George Clement says it seems that the AMCS is has just gone through a list of imported seafood to arbitrarily warn people against most of it.

“Species by species, as we go through them, we can see how misinformed the AMCS report is. They’ve provided no transparent criteria nor openness in their assessments. There’s no indication that they have actually challenged themselves to examine the facts when they’ve drawn up their list.” . . .

Seafood New Zealand welcomes community funding for seabird conservation work:

Seafood New Zealand today welcomed Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith’s announcement that the Government will provide $300,000 of funding to two community groups to support their work in protecting some of New Zealand’s special seabirds.

The seafood industry is one of the founding partners in the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust which has received $100,000 towards a seabird smart recreational fishing initiative that aims to reduce the number of birds accidentally caught by recreational fishers in the upper North Island. . . .

From the last will and testament of a farmer c1986 – Gravedodger:

To my Wife,  my bank overdraft. Maybe she has an explanation for it.

To my Banker, I bequeath my soul, he has the mortgage on it anyway.

To my nearest and dearest neighbor, my clown suit, he claims he is going to carry on farming.

To The Rural Bank, my grain silo and my Fertilizer Bin, he has them as chattel security anyway.

To the local scrap metal dealer, every item of crap machinery I have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep from his possession. . . .

Otago woman named NZ’s top young amenity horticulturist:

New Zealand’s top young amenity horticulturist has been found after an intense day of competition at the Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year event in Hamilton yesterday.

The annual competition is run by the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) and serves as the qualifier for the prestigious Horticulturist of the Year competition, which will be hosted in Auckland in November.

Otago woman Sarah Fenwick emerged as the judge’s choice after planning, planting and potting her way to victory. The 30-year-old former vet nurse narrowly beat second place getter Josh van der Hulst, from Kamo, to take out the prize. . . .

Tax officials to work with bloodstock breeding industry:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy and Revenue Minister Todd McClay have confirmed that Inland Revenue officials will work with the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association on a number of tax issues raised by the industry.

The issues cover questions the NZTBA has over the application of tax rules for the industry and are expected to be dealt with as part of the normal consultative process between the private sector and tax officials.

“We are confident that the majority of the issues can be worked through, providing a positive result and greater certainty for what is an important industry to New Zealand,” Mr McClay says. . . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s largest A&P Show:

Show organisers for the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show are calling upon showing enthusiasts from throughout New Zealand to send in their entries and compete in the country’s largest Agricultural and Pastoral Show. For over 150 years, The Show has been attracting and showcasing New Zealand’s best animals and talented competitors. In addition to showing success, exhibitors will be competing for over $100,000 in prize money.

More than 3000 animals and close to 1000 competitors are expected to compete in 1700 classes including sections for horse and pony, beef and dairy cattle, sheep, alpaca, llama, wool, goat, dog trials, poultry, shearing and woolhandling, woodchopping and vintage machinery. Entries are also open for two of the feature competitions of The Show – the Mint Lamb Competition where New Zealand’s top lambs are put to a taste test, and the Young Auctioneers Competition where up-and-coming stock agents get to show off their skills. . . .


Rural round-up

July 16, 2014

Tax relief for Northland flood affected farmers:

Revenue Minister Todd McClay has said that flood affected farmers in Northland will be offered assistance through Inland Revenue’s income equalisation discretion following the declaration of a medium scale adverse event by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy this morning.

“The Government recognises that this will be a difficult time for many in Northland as they come to terms with the damage caused by recent severe weather events. This assistance from IRD will give greater certainty to affected farmers and is designed to make the coming months easier for them as they deal with the damage done to their farms,” Mr McClay says. . .

Scope to boost profits:

High levels of labour efficiency, low costs of production and plenty of potential to increase productivity with minimal investment are the good news stories from the 2013 Southern Beef Situation Analysis, commissioned by MLA.

The findings reinforced earlier work about the opportunities for southern beef producers.

The analysis found that average profits per hectare in beef production have lagged behind most alternative enterprises in the southern region, excluding wool, in the past 15 years.

However, it also showed that it would be better for southern beef producers with low profitability to improve efficiencies in their current business rather than switching to an alternative enterprise. . . .

Crown Irrigation Investments Limited reaches financial close on the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme:

Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (Crown Irrigation) today announced it has reached financial close on its first investment with Central Plains Water Limited.

Under the agreement, Crown Irrigation will provide $6.5 million of subordinated debt finance for a period of up to five years, to support the construction of excess capacity in the headrace to be built during Stage 1 that is needed for later stages of the irrigation scheme.

Following the agreement of a terms sheet in March 2014, the transaction has been subject to comprehensive due diligence by Crown Irrigation and all conditions precedent have been satisfied. . .

Molkerei Ammerland to offer Sweet Whey Powder (SWP) on GlobalDairyTrade:

GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) announced today that Molkerei Ammerland will join the seven existing sellers on GlobalDairyTrade beginning September, 2014, offering Sweet Whey Powder for the first time on the world’s leading auction platform.

 Molkerei Ammerland’s participation as a seller on GDT marks yet another significant development in the world’s foremost online dairy commodity trading platform.

 Molkerei Ammerland, one of Europe’s leading dairy cooperatives, gathers milk from over 2000 farmers across northwest Germany, and through its state of the art production facilities it processes more than 1.5 billion kilograms of milk for sale to over 50 countries around the world. Molkerei Ammerland specialises in cheeses, butter, whey powders, milk powders and fresh dairy products, and has capitalised on over 125 years’ experience. . .

New film shows seafood industry and conservation groups working together to protect seabirds:

The New Zealand seafood industry congratulated Southern Seabird Solution Trust’s on its short film “Sharing Worlds, Seabirds and Fishing” which was launched today by the Hon Nick Smith, the Minister of Conservation at the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula.

The film highlights Otago fishing and conservation working together for the benefit of seabirds like the yellow-eyed penguin and sooty shearwater, also known as titi.

“The film is a tangible demonstration of how organisations, often with differing interests, can work together in a positive and proactive way,” says George Clement, Chair of Seafood New Zealand who was at the launch. . .

New CEO for primary industry alliance:

Andy Somerville has been appointed as the new chief executive officer for the Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA).

PICA is a collaboration between New Zealand Young Farmers; DairyNZ; Beef and Lamb NZ; PrimaryITO; Taratahi; Ministry for Primary Industries and Lincoln University, set up in 2012 to develop a capability strategy for the wider agricultural industry.

Chair of the Transition Board for PICA, Mark Paine, says Andy, originally from Otago, is a Lincoln University graduate who comes from a rural and commercial banking background. . . .


Rural round-up

July 4, 2014

Red Meat Profit Partnership tries to answer crucial question - Allan Barber:

Analysis of the objectives and methodology of the RMPP suggests the programme has highlighted the most important issue facing the red meat sector. Briefly stated, it is to work out why there is still such a significant gap between the top farmers and those in the middle of the pack and to lift the average closer to the top performers.

When the Red Meat Sector Strategy identified behind the farm gate specifically as a major area of potential improvement, there was much mumbling about why the industry structure wasn’t being more usefully exposed as the area most in need of improvement. But figures released by the B+LNZ Economic Service show this isn’t the case. . .

 Out of cow muck comes magic – Emma Rawson:

Although it has grizzly beginnings in the blood and gore of the meatworks, there is a fairytale element to the story of biomaterials company Southern Lights.

A little like the Brothers Grimm’s goblin Rumpelstiltskin, who spun straw into gold, the Napier company transforms cow byproducts which would otherwise be destined for pet food and fertiliser into extremely lucrative Type 1 polymeric collagen.

At about $50,000 a kilogram it is no exaggeration to say the polymeric collagen is worth its weight in gold – only a few thousand shy of the price of bullion. . .

Award for science professor:

Lincoln University plant science professor Derrick Moot has won an award recognising the successful application of research or experience to an aspect of animal production.

Prof Moot was presented with the New Zealand Society of Animal Production’s Sir Arthur Ward Award at the society’s 74th annual conference on Tuesday night.

Prof Moot has been identifying plant pasture species which will survive and thrive on the dry East Coast, and developing ways to incorporate them into mostly sheep and beef farming systems – but also some dairying ones.

Lucerne ticked most of the boxes as it was a legume which fixed nitrogen from the atmosphere, was high in protein and energy and also had a deeper rooting system than other pastures, he said. . .

Filthy pigs? Not on our patch … – Sue O’Dowd:

The proud co-owner of a Taranaki piggery is so confident about its cleanliness that he sometimes walks around in it in his socks.

Ron Stanley, of Oaonui, is frustrated at this week’s television portrayal of a Canterbury piggery. Filmed earlier this year, the footage showed squalid conditions, severe overcrowding, and suffering animals.

The Stanley Piggery co-owner found the footage disturbing.

“That’s not the way we keep our animals,” he said. “I always say if I can’t come over to the piggery in my socks on a dry day, then there’s a problem. . .

Farm buildings to be exempt from assessment:

Farm buildings are to be exempt from the requirements for assessments under the Government’s earthquake-prone buildings policy, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“The Government is not satisfied that the risks posed by farm buildings justify the cost of every building being assessed. These buildings have a low occupancy rate and there is no record of a fatality caused by a farm building collapsing in an earthquake,” Dr Smith says.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill requires all buildings to be assessed in the next five years and for those under 34 per cent of the building standard to be upgraded within a period of 15 years, with a further 10-year extension available for heritage buildings. The Bill currently excludes residential buildings except those that are multi-storey and contain more than two homes. . .

Farmers welcome windfall from wind farms - Gerard Hutching:

Wind turbines west of Wellington are not only changing the landscape, they are also transforming landowners’ bank balances.

“They’re music to my ears, actually,” says Ohariu Valley sheep and beef farmer Gavin Bruce, who has a 440-hectare property with eight turbines.

All told there are 88 turbines on two Meridian Energy wind farms: 62 on the West Wind farm, situated on both Meridian’s own property as well as on Terawhiti Station, south of Makara; and 26 on the Mill Creek wind farm on four properties in the Ohariu Valley. . .

Driving safety home to farmers:

Rural retailers are backing government’s safety message to farmers.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), in partnership with Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand, is launching a campaign to increase awareness about the importance of wearing the right safety gear when using farm chemicals.

The campaign directly addresses the “she’ll be right” attitude toward using safety gear.

Agcarm distributor members across New Zealand will display posters and distribute flyers with practical tips about safety gear. . .

US Company churns out cloned cows -

In the meadow, four white-haired Shorthorn heifers peel off from the others, raising their heads at the same time in the same direction. Unsettling, when you know they are clones.

From their ears dangle yellow tags marked with the same number: 434P. Only the numbers that follow are different: 2, 3, 4 and 6.

The tag also bears the name of the company that bred them and is holding them temporarily in a field at its headquarters in Sioux Centre, Iowa: Trans Ova Genetics, the only large US company selling cloned cows.

A few miles away, four Trans Ova scientists in white lab jackets bend over high-tech microscopes in the company’s laboratories. They are meticulously working with the minute elements of life to create, in Petri dishes, genetically identical copies of existing animals. . . .

You Won’t Believe What This Guy Did With Old Farm Scrap Metal. Seriously, WOW:

Farmers of South Dakota, if you see John Lopez going through your garbage, please let him continue to do so. In his hands, what was unfixable or unwanted to you becomes art. Not just any art, though. Big, striking sculptures that celebrate the American Old West. The kind of stuff you’d probably like! At the very least, you’ll be impressed by his work. Who wouldn’t be? . . .

https://twitter.com/Fonterra/status/484566445662027776


Why not make it permanent?

July 1, 2014

Import tariffs on a range of building products will be temporarily suspended from today – a measure which is expected to reduce housing costs and increase competition in the residential construction sector, Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith and Commerce Minister Craig Foss.

“The building materials covered by the tariff suspension comprise about 90 per cent of the cost of the material in an average new house. Currently, these materials attract tariffs and duties that add an estimated $3500 to the cost of a new home. These will be cut to zero per cent tomorrow for at least the next five years,” Dr Nick Smith says.

“The scheme includes a comprehensive list of materials such as roofing, cladding, framing, windows, doors, insulation, plumbing and electrical components, fixed cabinetry, paint and builders’ hardware and fixings,” Dr Smith says.

“New Zealand is a small market for building materials. While we would prefer as much content as possible is locally manufactured, we need the competitive pressure of imported products to ensure we are getting best value for money,” Mr Foss says.

“It is through competition and choice for consumers that we keep costs down.”

The tariff suspension comes off the back of the Budget 2014 initiative to temporarily remove anti-dumping duties for building materials, for which legislation was passed under Budget urgency in May. The temporary suspension of tariffs on building materials will reduce Crown revenue by $5.5 million each year, which was provided for in Budget 2014.

“Suspending import tariffs on building materials is consistent with this Government’s strong public commitment to address housing affordability, particularly given the need for building materials for the Canterbury rebuild and increased construction activity across the country,” Dr Smith says.

“There is no single magical solution to improving housing affordability. We are freeing up land supply, reining in development contributions, cutting compliance costs and investing in skills and productivity in the construction sector. It is about making a whole lot of changes like removing tariffs and duties that aggregate together to make homes more affordable.”

I have just one problem with this – that the removal of tariffs is temporary.

When we spend a lot of time and energy extolling the benefits of free trade to other countries we have to be open to imports ourselves.

Tariffs protect inefficient producers and add costs to everyone who builds something new or repairs something old.

Why not make the suspension of tariffs permanent?


Divided they’re falling

June 27, 2014

Two Labour MPs crossed the floor to support the windblown timber bill being debated under urgency yesterday:

Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene backed the Government’s bill to allow the retrieval of trees felled in Cyclone Ita from some parts of the West Coast conservation estate, while their colleagues opposed it.

O’Connor attacked the bill during the debate on the first reading, but the debate was completed by 72 to 46 with National, NZ First, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

At the beginning of the debate Conservation Minister Nick Smith said the damage done by Cyclone Ita was substantial and an environmental tragedy. It left a dilemma about what to do with the wood.

The West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill
had to be passed urgently as the beech which could be recovered would be too rotten by spring, other wood would last longer and this could be recovered over the five year life of the bill.

It would have been complex to allow the timber retrieval under existing rules and the bill would exclude the high conservation value areas such as National Parks, but it would be allowed in some of the conservation estate. There would be conditions over safety and environmental protections.

Smith said arguments the removal of timber would prevent regeneration was wrong because only a small amount would be recovered. He said Labour was split on the issue and claimed West Coast MP Damien O’Connor could cross the floor.

The wood would provide jobs in the West Coast, Smith said.

Labour’s Ruth Dyson said the bill was not a serious attempt to help West Coast, but a political stunt. The Conservation Act provided for storm felled timber to remain on the ground, so forests could regenerate.

If the bill would provide long term jobs on the West Coast, Labour would support it, but there was no commitment in the Bill to this.

Dyson said the bill would rule out Resource Management Act provisions and it would “devastate” the timber sector who had permits to log native timber as the market would be flooded.

West Coast MP Damien O’Connor said he would support the bill if it guaranteed the jobs created by the log retrieval would stay on the West Coast. The Government wanted the logs exported from his electorate, he said.

There was potential from the logs on the ground, but it would be dangerous to retrieve and much of it would have to be helicoptered out.

He had some “interesting and robust” debates with his colleagues; he believed the logs could be removed without environmental damage. O’Connor said he believed only the rimu would be worth extracting and they would be extracted by logging crews from outside the West Coast and processed elsewhere.

The Greens totally opposed the bill as it believed all the conservation estate should be protected, Eugenie Sage said.

NZ First MP Richard Prosser said the bill should not be passed under Urgency, but it would be supported to committee stage where it wanted changes to made. NZ First wanted the jobs created to go to New Zealand companies and preferably West Coast ones with no logs exported and 25% of royalties to go back to the region. It also wanted the RMA to apply to the operations.

Maori Party Leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the cyclone had caused terrible damage, but this was nature at work. Local Maori felt the felled timber should be used without wasting it. The timber would not be taken from National Parks or other high value conservation land and the conditions would ensure a small proportion of logs were removed in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

After the vote on the first reading MPs moved immediately to the second reading.

The bill completed its second reading by 65 to 51 with National, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

NZ First reversed its initial support in the first reading. . . . 

O’Connor  noisily declined a place on Labour’s list before the last election, he’s back on it this time but if he’s prepared to demonstrate the internal divisions in the party so dramatically he would have been better to keep off it again.

The two Labour votes weren’t needed to pass the Bill so the floor-crossing was playing to the gallery in the electorates they hope will vote for them.

That might help them stay in parliament but confirmation of disunity  will make it more difficult for them, and their party, to get into government.

National is united and standing tall, Labour is divided and falling in the polls:

Support for the Labour Party has dropped 2.2 percent to 27.3 percent in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll – lower than its share of the vote at the last election.

The poll surveyed 750 eligible New Zealander voters between June 19 and 25, amid the controversy over businessman Donghua Liu’s alleged donations to Labour.

Labour leader David Cunliffe received his lowest rating since taking over the role in November last year. Only 26.3 percent of those surveyed think he is performing well as leader of the Opposition.

National is meanwhile polling at 49.7 percent, down 0.6 percent from the last poll – but still indicating it could govern alone with a 63-seat share of a 122-seat Parliament.

John Key has been given his highest rating as preferred Prime Minister since November 2011, with 46.7 percent support.

On this question Mr Cunliffe is polling in single figures, down 0.2 percent to 9.6 percent.

Mr Key has also received his highest rating since November 2011 when it comes to people who think he is a capable leader – 82.3 percent say he is.

NZ First received only 3.6 percent of the vote, dropping 2 percent from the last poll and placing them under the 5 percent party vote threshold for getting into Parliament.

However the Green Party are up 2.5 percent to 12.7 percent, and the Conservative Party are back up at 2.8 percent – equalling their highest-ever poll result so far.

Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom’s project Internet Mana debuts at 1.8 percent.

The full results are here and give a total of 69 seats to National and its coalition partners and only 53 to the combined left.

It is very unlikely the results will be this good for National in the election but with less than three months until the election there’s not much time for Labour to get better.

And if they keep looking divided they’re more likely to continue falling than start climbing.


Who’s putting jobs and people first?

June 20, 2014

The government is to introduce special legislation to enable the recovery of high value native timber blown over in Cyclone Ita on West Coast public conservation land, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced.

“We need to take a pragmatic approach and enable the timber to be recovered where it can be done so safely and with minimal environmental impact. This initiative will provide welcome jobs and economic opportunities for the West Coast at a difficult time, and will provide a financial return to DOC that can be reinvested in conservation work,” Dr Smith says.

Cyclone Ita hit the West Coast on 17 April this year and caused the worst windfall damage in generations, felling an estimated 20,000 hectares of forest and causing significant damage to a further 200,000 hectares.

The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, national parks, ecological areas and the white heron sanctuary reserve at Whataroa. Authorisations are only to be issued where the Department’s Director-General is satisfied the proposed method of removing the timber is safe for workers and the public, and minimises environmental impacts. The recovery of timber is limited until 1 July 2019 when the Bill expires. All revenue from royalties will go to the Department of Conservation.

“A law change is needed because the current Conservation Act makes no provision for timber recovery in this sort of extreme event. The Bill will be introduced and passed by Parliament next week under urgency. This is necessary because the large volumes of beech timber will soon deteriorate with sap stain and borer. I am grateful for the common sense support from the United Future and Māori Parties that are enabling Parliament to quickly resolve this issue.

“It is estimated that several million cubic metres of beech, rimu, matai, totara and miro trees have been felled. Stumpage prices for rimu are $250 per cubic metre, and $60 per cubic metre for beech. It is not possible to estimate the volume and value of timber to be extracted because the safety and environmental constraints may require high cost options like the use of helicopters. This law change will enable the detailed work to be done by operators on recovery proposals so as to determine where recovery is viable and safe.

“It may be appropriate to consider a permanent change to the Conservation Act to enable windblown timber in these sorts of situations to be recovered in future, but I am reluctant to do so with urgent legislation of this sort. The Department of Conservation will be commissioning research on the effects on forest regrowth and ecology by comparing similar windblown areas where timber has and has not been recovered to help make a long-term policy decision on this issue.

“It is a tragedy that so much forest has been wrecked by Cyclone Ita but no good purpose is served by leaving it all to rot. The wood will displace some of the $65 million of tropical hardwoods we import each year and give New Zealanders access to our own beautiful native timbers,” Dr Smith concluded.

The move has the support of the Maori Party:

The Māori Party is thrilled that urgent legislation is to be passed by Parliament to allow for the recovery of native timber that has fallen onto West Coast public conservation land as a result of Cyclone Ita. Co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell joined Dr Nick Smith on the West Coast today to make the special announcement.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the West Coast at a time where the community has had to bear the brunt of the storm. This legislation will open up long-term employment and commercial opportunities for the community and I am proud to be part of today’s announcement,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“The Māori Party support this initiative because we see it as a way for the West Coast to take a silver lining from the storm that hit their community on April 17 this year and caused the most devastating windfall damage in decades.”

“Had we not supported the legislation, the timber would have deteriorated and lost its commercial value. In particular, beech sapwood must be recovered within a month before sap stain fungi and beech borer begin to destroy the value of the timber, which is why there is a need for urgency. The felled rimu can be recoverable for up to five years, providing opportunities for long-term employment,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“Of course, the safety of the workers will be of paramount importance and authorisations to remove timber will require that the operators provide health and safety plans to show their removal methods would be safe for both the workers and the public. The legislation also provides for public exclusion from areas while timber recovery operations are taking place for their own protection.”

“Ngāi Tahu has expressed their support in principle for the opportunities presented by the legislation and we will support their preference for opportunities for the harvesting of the wind-blown timber and its proceeds to be reinvested into the West Coast community. We will also seek to ensure that the recovery is undertaken in a manner that respects and addresses any environmental and cultural matters of concern that the iwi may have.”

“While we are sad to see that so much native timber has been blown over by Cyclone Ita, we are delighted that Ngāi Tahu and the rest of the West Coast community will benefit from the passing of this legislation,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the timber recovery is the logical response:

. . . “It is very unfortunate so many trees were blown down in this storm but there is just no benefit in leaving the timber to rot” said Mr Dunne.

Parliament will consider urgent, special legislation to enable the recovery of the high value native timber.

UnitedFuture will support The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill which confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, National Parks, Ecological Areas and the White Heron colony.

“This timber recovery plan is the common sense, practical, and logical response to a natural process.

“I am satisfied by the environmental protections and health and safety regulations to which operators will be subject when the timber is removed.

“This will ensure that the West Coast’s unique environment will be protected” said Mr Dunne.

“New Zealand’s hardwood is some of the most beautiful in the world and I am pleased Parliament will enable New Zealanders to access it rather than leaving it to rot” he said.

Former Former Westland Mayor and now National Party candidate Maureen Pugh approached the Minister and asked that permission be given for logging:

. . . “It just seems like a very practical solution to an event that’s happened,” says Ms Pugh.

She says the logs, which are a mixture of rimu, totara and beech, could be worth up to $50,000 each. . . .

The proposal’s being welcomed on the coast – Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says it makes sense as it has the potential to create money. . . .

this is a very good example of a candidate being proactive for the people who’s support she’s seeking.

Contrast that with the Green Party which doesn’t attempt to win electorates and therefore doesn’t have to worry what’s best for the people in them:

 . . . the Greens say it would require a law change and they’d never support it.

“Generations of New Zealanders campaigned to protect West Coast forests – allowing trees to be taken from timber would completely cut across that,” says Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage. . . .

Nature dealt the trees the killing blow.

If they are left where they are they’ll rot.

There is a small window of opportunity to recover the fallen trees which will provide work and replace imported timber.

It will be done with safeguards for workers and the environment and all profits will go to the Department of Conservation to fund more conservation work.

But once more the Green Party will put politics and its own blinkered ideology before people and jobs.


Fiordland monorail proposal declined

May 29, 2014

Riverstone Holdings has been refused permission to build a monorail in Fiordland:

The application by Riverstone Holdings Limited to build and operate a $240 million monorail in Fiordland has been declined by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This proposal does not stand up either economically or environmentally. The independent tourism and financial analysis concluded it was not viable. There would be a significant impact on the area’s flora, fauna and natural heritage. The route is not sufficiently defined to properly assess the impacts,” Dr Smith says.

“Developments in an area with World Heritage status and which impact on the Fiordland National Park must meet the highest of standards and I have concluded that the risks of this proposal are too great.”

The Fiordland Link Experience proposed a new link between Queenstown and Milford Sound consisting of a 20-kilometre boat excursion across Lake Wakatipu to Mt Nicholas Station, a 45-kilometre all-terrain vehicle ride to Kiwi Burn, a 43.8-kilometre monorail ride to Te Anau Downs and a 90-kilometre coach journey to Milford Sound. The application included a lease, licence and concession for the monorail and related infrastructure through the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area including the Snowdon Forest and Fiordland National Park.

“This monorail had more merit than the Milford Tunnel proposal and has been a more difficult decision to make. The process has taken some time because I have wanted to consider it very carefully. I have visited the site twice, met its applicants twice, consulted with the New Zealand Conservation Authority, and spent days reading the relevant reports and responses from the applicants. I appreciate my decision will come as a major disappointment to Riverstone Holdings,” Dr Smith says.

“I do not want this decision interpreted as the Government and the Department of Conservation (DOC) being opposed to any proposal for alternative access options in Fiordland. The strategic issue of facilitating better transport options between Queenstown and Milford remains. The door is still open but proposals will need to be both environmentally sustainable and economically viable.

“This conservative decision reflects the cautious approach I have to developments in Fiordland. This World Heritage Area has some of New Zealand’s most highly valued and spectacular landscapes that require I err on the side of nature.”

This was obviously a very difficult decision.

The developers and others who saw the business opportunities will be disappointed.

Those who were concerned about the impact on the conservation values of a wilderness area will be delighted.

 


Wagner new minister

May 5, 2014

Nicky Wagner is to become a Minister outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister John Key has today reallocated the portfolios made vacant by the resignation of Maurice Williamson as a Minister.

Christchurch Central MP, Nicky Wagner, will be made a Minister outside Cabinet and take on the portfolios of Customs, Statistics, Associate Conservation, and Associate Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.

“Nicky has been an MP since 2005, and has done a great job in Christchurch and in chairing the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“As a Minister I expect she will treat her new portfolios with the same hard work and enthusiasm.”

In other changes, Nick Smith will take on the Building and Construction portfolio, and Michael Woodhouse will take on Land Information.

“I would like to thank them for taking on the extra responsibilities,” says Mr Key.

The Governor General will swear in Nicky Wagner on Wednesday 7 May. . .

Nicky won the Christchurch Central seat at the last election after serving two terms as a list MP and is currently a parliamentary Private Secretary.


Rural round-up

April 21, 2014

Taking the crosshairs off farmers - Willy Leferink:

Some politicians and lobby groups hell-bent on making farming a feature of the 2014 general election will be taking names and counting numbers.  Yet if you search online with the words “big targets,” you’ll find the banks are in the gun in the United Kingdom while across the ditch, it is tax cheats.

In the universe which is the European Union, its Climate Commissioner has challenged other carbon emitters to follow its lead.  Those big target emitters are the United States, who contribute 15.6 percent of global emissions and this surprised me, China, which is now up to 23.6 percent.  Then again, a fair chunk of humanity and the global economy resides there and in the other big target emitters; Russia, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Speaking of Russia, I guess Vladimir Putin has made himself a big target for his ‘hostile takeover’ of the Crimea.  While the west rattled less its sabres and more its teacups,you’ve got to wonder if Putin is reassembling old Russia in some kind of geopolitical Lego.

So what’s the lesson here for farmers? . . .

West Coast farms start recovery:

While the South Island’s West Coast bore the brunt of former Cyclone Ita’s wrath, the defining image is that taken by the Otago Daily Times, of past Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president, Robert Borst, using his digger to rescue a motorist trapped by rising floodwaters.

“This is one of the worst storms I can recall,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president and the Federation’s adverse events spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers is working with the West Coast Rural Support Trust and we’d like to ask the media to help us in spreading the Trust’s direct telephone number to affected farmers: 03 738 0038.  I need to stress this applies to the West Coast only.

“Getting the Rural Support Trust’s number (03 738 0038) out there is particularly important to beef farmers or graziers who may be struggling. . . .

Wheat disease develops fungicide resistance – Annette Scott:

New Zealand wheat growers will need to rethink their crop-disease management following confirmation the wheat disease speckled leaf blotch has developed fungicide resistance.

Septoria tritici blotch (STB), or speckled leaf blotch, the principal disease affecting NZ wheat crops over the past four years, has developed resistance to the fungicide group that has been most effective in controlling it.

A research team led by Dr Suvi Viljanen-Rollinson, from Plant and Food Research at Lincoln, working with scientists at Rothamsted in the United Kingdom and Aarhus University in Denmark, has confirmed resistance by the NZ zymoseptoria tritici population to quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs), a fungicide group commonly referred to as the strobilurins. . . .

 

Manawatu River improvement is encouraging:

Federated Farmers is thrilled by the improving health of the Manawatu River. A detailed report for the Manawatu River Leaders Forum reveals that the first three years of the clean up have been a success.

“This report is a huge boost for the farming community,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“While improvements in water quality aren’t able to be measured overnight, we are seeing a downward trend already in nutrient and e-coli levels. With 93 percent compliance and climbing in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, this improving trend will only continue.

“What we can measure is the actions of our community and the numbers are so encouraging it’s something the farming community can take pride in. Well over 100 kilometres of waterways have been fenced, over 60,000 plants planted for erosion control and riparian margins, as well as farm plans and mapping well under way. . . .

Inaugural Game Animal Council appointed:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister Peter Dunne today announced the appointment of 11 members to the inaugural Game Animal Council.

“The new Game Animal Council is about giving hunters of deer, thar, chamois and pigs an active voice in the management of their recreation. These appointments include a diverse range of interests in hunting and a geographic spread across the country,” Dr Smith says.

The 11 members are:
· Donald Hammond (chair)
· Thomas (Mark) Brough
· Roger Duxfield
· Professor Geoffrey Kerr
· Steven McFall
· Alexander (Alec) McIver
· William Garry Ottmann
· Terence Pierson
· Roy Sloan
· Carol Watson

 


Rural round-up

April 1, 2014

Venison industry at the crossroads – Keith Woodford:

In recent years the venison industry has gone backwards. Total farmed deer numbers declined from about 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.1 million in 2011. The most recent 2013 annual slaughter statistics show that 53% of slaughtered animals were females. This is a sure sign of ongoing retreat. So what has gone wrong and what can be fixed?

Back in the 1980s, AgResearch data from Invermay Research Station suggested that red deer were more efficient at converting grass to meat than non-deer species. We now know that on an overall farm system basis that notion was wrong.

The female deer reproductive system has been designed by nature to only produce one progeny per year. This productive disadvantage would not matter too much if the price premium was large, and for a long time this was the case. . . .

New conservation fund announced:

A Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the work of voluntary organisations undertaking natural heritage and recreation projects was launched today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at the opening of the new Hoddy Estuary Park in Nelson.

“Thousands of New Zealanders contribute to conservation by building tracks, controlling pests, planting trees, and restoring native wildlife. This new fund is about the Government providing finance for the plants, traps, poisons, equipment and coordination to support this voluntary work,” Dr Smith says.

The new fund of $26 million over the next four years is to be distributed to community organisations in an annual contestable funding round of between $6 million and $7 million a year. Projects may be funded over multiple years, reflecting the time it takes to complete projects of this sort. . .

Chatham Rock, would-be seabed phosphate miner, files second EEZ marine consent application:

(BusinessDesk) – Chatham Rock Phosphate, which wants to mine phosphate nodules from the seafloor on the Chatham Rise, has submitted a draft marine consent application to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The application is the second to be submitted under new EEZ legislation. TransTasman Resources, which wants to hoover ironsands off the seafloor more than 20 kilometres off the coast from Patea is currently going through the first ever hearings under the new regime.

CRP’s application comes after more than four years’ work and $25 million of investment in environmental impact assessments, market evaluation, and development of relationships with mining partners, most notably Dutch dredging firm Royal Boskalis. . .

Investment over decade shows merit of ewe’s milk - Alison Rudd:

A decade ago, Southland businessman Keith Neylon did not know the first thing about sheep’s milk.

Now his company, Blue River Dairy, milks more than 10,000 ewes daily; runs a factory turning out butter, five cheese varieties, ice cream and milk powder; exports products to seven countries; and has just launched sheep’s milk infant formula on the New Zealand and Chinese markets.

Reporter Allison Rudd spoke to the agricultural innovator.

Keith Neylon nurses a cup of coffee in the cafe and tasting room at the Blue River Dairy factory, formerly the Invercargill town milk supply plant. He’s in the middle of an interview, but he still has his eye on his customers. . .

Pilot training course in deer handling to start :

A training course in how to manage and handle farmed deer has been developed, with a pilot run starting in Southland next month.

For several years, training opportunities had been very limited so a 12-month level 3 training course had been developed to ”fill the gap”, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) producer manager Tony Pearse said.

A pilot block course is being held at Netherdale deer stud at Balfour on April 9, followed by one in South Canterbury in the spring. After that course ended, there would be courses in the North and South Islands in response to a hopefully increasing demand, Mr Pearse said. . .

Fake products risk NZ honey exports:

A Waikato University scientist says there is a risk that fraudulent products will wreck the international reputation of New Zealand honey exports.

Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris says it is extremely urgent that New Zealand sets up standardised labelling of honey, especially the lucrative manuka variety.

New Zealand produced more than 16,000 tonnes of honey in 2012 and 2013 and in 2012 honey exports were worth $120 million with manuka honey making up about 90 per centof that.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has formed two working groups to come up with a robust labelling guideline for manuka honey – one made up of scientists and one from the industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 23, 2014

Irrigator wins Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

IrrigationNZ congratulates Mark and Devon Slee on taking out the main prize at last night’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Mark is a board member of IrrigationNZ with an irrigated dairy farm in Ealing within Ashburton District employing 13 full time and two part time staff.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says Mark and Devon’s sustainable irrigation practices and investment in technology played a large part in their win.

“Mark and Devon are among our top performing irrigators because of their significant investment in technology and personal commitment to reducing their environmental footprint,” says Mr Curtis. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week. . .

Minister signs new conservation accord:

An accord between the newly established $100 million NEXT Foundation and the Government was signed in Nelson today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The NEXT Foundation is an incredible deed of generosity which has the potential to deliver huge steps forward for conservation in New Zealand. This Accord is about providing the right framework for DOC to partner with the Foundation and to ensure we maximise the conservation gains from this huge investment,” Dr Smith says.

“There are two key elements to the Accord. The first is in ensuring these funds go to new projects that are out and above the work the Government would have ordinarily done. The second is in providing a commitment that the conservation gains are maintained into the future. . . .

Ministers leading agribusiness delegation to South America:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are leading an agribusiness delegation to Chile and Colombia from 23-28 March.

“Latin America is a valued trading partner for New Zealand and a fast growing region,” says Mr Groser. 

“Our relationship with Chile is thriving with a high level of engagement in areas such as energy and environment, agriculture and education. They are encouraging New Zealand business to explore future investment opportunities and we hope to build on this.

“In Colombia we are aiming to build a greater understanding of the market, through a range of farm visits and meetings with local Ministers and authorities.” . . .

Arable research body sets strategy:

The Foundation for Arable Research has just launched its next three-year strategy, which aims to keep arable farming a good viable option for farmers.

Chief executive Nick Pyke says the key points include making sure they have the right people doing the research and having leading research that has the ability to make a difference for farmers.

He says arable farming is buoyant at the moment and they want that to continue. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 2): The Definition of a Family Farmer – Greg Peterson:

Chipotle’s videos depict today’s farmers as huge, industrial farmers, concerned not about ethics and animalwelfare, but motivated rather by greed and money. This could not be further from the truth!

There are over 2 million farmers in this country. Each of whom are working long hours, braving extreme weather, and tirelessly caring for land and livestock. How many of those farmers are family farmers? 96 percent of them, according to the USDA, including the farm I work on with my brothers, my parents and my sister. In fact, I’ve never actually met a farmer who isn’t a family farmer! Have you? I’m sure there are a few out there, but even then, do you really think a farm run by non-family members would operate any differently from those that are? . . .

Rural Women™ International Year of Family Farming Roadshow kicks off next week:

Four South Island towns will be celebrating the International Year of Family Farming next week, as the Rural Women NZ roadshow series gets underway. Three North Island events will follow in early April.

“Rural Women NZ has always backed families working on the land, and in the rural communities that surround them,” says Liz Evans, who is promoting the Rural Women NZ roadshow to be held in Marlborough’s Rai Valley on 30 March.

“For this reason, we were ‘first in’ to initiate a nationwide programme of events to support the UN International Year of Family Farming, a timely opportunity to celebrate the dedication and contribution of farming families, past, present and future.” . . .

Lick block increases lamb survival in triplet bearing ewes:

Significant improvements in lamb survival have been demonstrated by using Crystalyx blocks in a University of Auckland trial in Southland.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks were provided as a supplement to ewes from three weeks prior to lambing through to weaning and resulting in an 11% increase in lambs presented for docking, compared to the control flock.

Barry and Julie Crawford’s Rosebank Farm near Gore was the venue for the trial to determine the benefits of targeted supplementation on triplet bearing ewes. . . 

The Rosebank property is part of the FARMIQ programme. . .

Seed Industry Opens New Office in Templeton, Christchurch:

The New Zealand seed industry is pleased to announce the official opening of its new office in Templeton, Christchurch.

The opening on Wednesday was officiated by the Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, and attended by over 100 VIPs and guests including Kelvin Coe, the Mayor of Selwyn District.

“It’s a huge honour for our industry to have the Minister officiate and his acknowledgement of the vital importance of our sector to the wider primary industry,” says General Manager Thomas Chin. . .


Back to failed policies of the 70s

March 20, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe made an announcement of forestry yesterday which would take us back to the failed policies of the 70s:

The Labour Party’s desire to turn the clock back to the 1970s is once again highlighted with their grab-bag of ideas for the forestry industry, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

“Subsidised loans, expensive tax concessions, preferential treatment, and make-work schemes for young people are all a flashback to a time when governments decided which industries succeeded based solely on political whim rather than competitiveness,” Mr Joyce says.

“This is classic 70s ‘government knows best’ interventionism and we all know how badly that ended.  What next, supplementary minimum prices for wood?

“Why should the forestry industry receive preferential treatment over the high tech manufacturing industry, ICT, the services industries, the construction industry or the farming industry? Or is it Labour’s plan to provide subsidies for everyone so we can subsidise our way to success?

“About the only thing they have got right is suggesting a focus on innovation. However it’s like they have been asleep since 2008 and now woken up ‘Rip van Winkle’ like to say we should do some innovation.
 
“While Labour has been asleep this Government has massively lifted its investment in innovation and helped grow private sector R & D across the economy by 23 per cent in just two years. Total government funding since 2010 for forestry-related science, research and product development alone amounts to over $160 million.

“The only sensible way to run a modern successful economy is to provide a strong macroeconomic base, supported by polices that lift the competitiveness of all firms. Our comprehensive Business Growth Agenda, which Labour has still not bothered itself to read, systematically improves access to markets, innovation, natural resources, capital, skills, and infrastructure.

“The results of our policies so far are reflected in strong growth, lowering unemployment, a much improved trade balance, stronger productivity growth, and real wages rising faster than the cost of living. Turning the clock back to the 70s is an amazingly out-of-touch response to some of the strongest economic data New Zealand has produced in many years.

“New Zealanders know they are just starting to see the positive results of five years of sensible modern economic policies and hard work by New Zealand companies. Turning the clock back 40 years would send New Zealand back to the bad old days of sluggish performance, high current account deficits, low productivity, and high inflation that the Labour Party knows so well.”

Acting Prime Minister Bill English highlighted the flaws in the policy too:

Hon David Cunliffe: In relation to the economics of forestry, is he comfortable that the rate of unprocessed log exports has grown at 10 times the rate of processed logs, given that the export of raw logs is really exporting jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I would need to check the member’s figures, but he may also be interested to know that around 60 percent of all forestry production is currently value-added. It may well be that in the light of a rise in prices for export logs there are more logs being exported, but anyone who has been in the industry knows that those prices can drop as fast as they rise. I am sure that there are many people in the forestry industry taking a longer view and keeping that in mind. . .

Hon Dr Nick Smith: My question is to the Prime Minister and it asks what reports has he received on the recent developments in forest processing in Tasmania, where its Labour-Green Government has fallen apart over the very issues of forest processing and where there has been a huge loss of jobs and confidence in that sector because the—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! You have made the point with your question.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have received the same—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: The question was what reports has he received.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister have received the same reports, obviously, which have been to the effect that the Government in Tasmania has overseen the destruction of the forestry industry by trying to get involved in it.

Hon David Cunliffe: Would the Prime Minister support an accelerated depreciation tax including for forestry processing?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, we are not entertaining that. Those kinds of policies were tried consistently, I think, from the 1970s when they were a bright idea, and they lead to unsustainable industries and unsustainable jobs as a whole lot of Australian workers are now finding out, where industries that were subsidised by the Government there are now closing down. . .

Hon David Cunliffe: Does the Prime Minister support a pro-wood Government procurement strategy to assist jobs and value added in New Zealand, including in those South Otago sawmills; if not, why not?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. The member should have more confidence in the forestry industry. It has evolved from the time in the late 1980s when sawmillers used to be able to get very cheap logs from Government-owned forests through to a modern processing industry that is internationally competitive and makes very sophisticated decisions about the balance of financial risk, different types of product, and exchange rate and price risk in export markets. The idea that Labour would do a better job of that is wrong, and it would end up destroying the forestry industry if it gets that involved in it. . . 

Criticism of the policy isn’t confined to parliament:

Labour’s “pro-wood” government procurement strategy will create an inappropriate commercial advantage for one construction sector over another, according to the New Zealand cement and concrete industries.

Announced today by David Cunliffe at the ForestWood conference in Wellington, the policy would mandate that “all government-funded project proposals for new buildings up to four storeys high shall require a build-in-wood option at the initial concept / request-for-proposals stage (with indicative sketches and price estimates).”

Rob Gaimster, CEO of the Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ), believes that policies which appear to be giving preferential treatment to one construction material are misguided.

“It is inappropriate to mandate that those designing new government buildings consider wood as a structural option, and then require an explanation if an alternative material is chosen,” says Mr Gaimster.

“Government should not be picking winners when it comes to the selection of construction materials, which should stand or fall on their own technical, cost, aesthetic and sustainability credentials.

“In addition, the policy does a huge dis-service to the hardworking men and women in the cement and concrete industries. Favouring a single construction material during the design phase of a new government building could seriously impact on their livelihoods and jobs.

“This policy does not create a level playing field for the use of construction materials in government buildings. In fact, materials other than wood will be considerably disadvantaged.

“We are concerned about the wide-reaching implications of this policy and believe it should in no circumstances be adopted.”

Labour’s policy is designed to help one sector but would hurt another.

Gravedodger illustrates other shortcomings in the policy.


$100m foundation for environment & education

March 16, 2014

A $100 million philanthropic foundation to support and invest in high impact New Zealand-based environmental and education projects  has been launhed.

The NEXT Foundation is funded through the benefaction of New Zealanders Annette and Neal Plowman, who have already supported a number of significant philanthropic projects, including the Rotoroa Island Trust in the Hauraki Gulf, Project Janzsoon in the Abel Tasman National Park and Teach First NZ which aims to tackle educational inequality.

The Foundation will make commitments of approximately $5 – $15 million in up to three projects each year. Any individual or group with a high impact, well-structured idea in the areas of education or environment will be able to submit an Expression of Interest for funding consideration.

The Foundation has an Advisory Panel of notable New Zealanders who will help with project selection and a Board of Directors chaired by Chris Liddell.

Mr Liddell, also Chairman of Xero, and previously Vice Chairman of General Motors and CFO of Microsoft Corporation, says education and the environment have been chosen as the two categories for support and investment because they have the greatest potential to inspire and create lasting value for New Zealanders.

“We have a vision of creating a legacy of environmental and educational excellence for the benefit of future generations of New Zealanders,” he says.

“To achieve this vision we will make significant commitments to projects that are aspirational, ambitious and high impact. The Foundation will be a strategic investor in well-managed projects that deliver a meaningful and measurable return toward the education of New Zealanders and the protection of our unique landscape, flora and fauna.

“We admire the foresight of our benefactors,” said Mr Liddell, “and believe their generosity will have a profound impact on the future of our country.”

The Foundation was welcomed by the government:

“This new philanthropic foundation represents a huge commitment to New Zealand’s conservation and environmental challenges that Governments will never be able to fully fund. Its founders, through Project Janszoon and the Rotoroa Island Trust, have already shown a great commitment to New Zealand’s natural environment. This new foundation opens the door to other high impact conservation projects in other parts of our country,” Dr Smith says.

“This exciting development reinforces the merit of the Department of Conservation developing a new partnership approach to its work of protecting New Zealand’s flora, fauna and special places.”

“Education is the best investment New Zealand can make in its future. This new foundation will help drive innovation and excellence, and complement the work the Government is doing to raise standards and provide our children with a modern learning environment,” Ms Kaye says.

“We are committed to working with the NEXT Foundation to maximise the environment and educational gains from this incredible act of generosity towards New Zealand’s future,” the Ministers say.

This is an extraordinary act of generosity  which will make a positive difference for generations.


Rural round-up

March 3, 2014

Golden end to a golden event:

A packed stadium of thrilled spectators were kept on the edge of their seats watching the cream rise to the surface as shearing’s elite battled it out for the prized Golden Shears open crown.
The 54th“Goldies” ended on supreme high after three days of hard slog and sweat, as some of the world’s most skilful shearers and woolhandlers performed out of their skins to make world championship teams, and to take the coverted crowns.
It was high tension in the 20-sheep final, with the top guns of the shearing shearing their flock at a frenetic pace. Four-time shears champ Johnny Kirkpatrick was a sheep behind defending champion Rowland Smith well after the half way mark but it in an absolute humdinger race to the finish, Kirkpatrick’s handpiece just flew as he went a sheep ahead and finished first on the clock.
But there can be only one winner of the ultimate shearing prize and it was the current champ Smith who clinched the open shearing championship for second time in a row.
The win books him one of two spots in the kiwi teamfor the the World champs in Ireland in May. The second spot will be decided at the New Zealand shearing champs in Te Kuiti atthe end of this month. . .

How precision farming is changing UK agriculture – Caroline Stocks:

Just a few decades ago, the idea of robots on farms and tractors that drove themselves would have been the stuff of agricultural science fiction.

But now more than half of the UK’s farmland is reportedly farmed using precision technology in some form, and that figure is expected to rise dramatically during the next few years.

For precision farming consultant Ian Beecher-Jones, precision technology is not a new concept. . .

Joint venture excites Charolais breeder – Sally Rae:

Drew Dundass reckons the Charolais breed of cattle is a ”beautiful animal”.

Mr Dundass, who jokes that he married into the breed, and his wife Carolyn (nee Aitken), manage Glen Ayr, a 1577ha property in the Paerau Valley, home to the Taiaroa Charolais stud.

Glen Ayr Ltd comprises two properties – Glen Ayr, and Glenfield, a 600ha finishing property on the Maniototo Plain which has a 343ha run block in the White Sow Valley, managed by Mrs Dundass’ sister, Dawn Sangster, and her husband David. . .

Invermay’s key role emphasised –  Sally Rae:

Deer farmers attending a recent field day at Invermay were urged to recognise they were ”at the Mecca” for deer biological research.

The AgResearch campus was looked on as the ”fountain of all knowledge” and farmers should realise that and the prospect it might not continue, Prof Frank Griffin, of the University of Otago, said.

Prof Griffin, who has collaborated with researchers at Invermay for three decades on solving animal health problems in the deer industry, has previously expressed major concerns about AgResearch’s decision to cut jobs from Invermay. . .

Katikati Couple Claim Top Title in BoP Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A focus on protecting marginal areas of their farm while lifting productivity of grazeable land helped Katikati farmers Rick Burke and Jan Loney take out the Supreme title in the 2014 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Rick and Jan, who farm 350ha Pukekauri Farms in the foothills of the Kaimai Ranges, also picked up a string of category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on February 28.

BFEA judges praised the couple’s teamwork and excellent people skills, noting the outstanding plantings on riparian areas and marginal land that “look stunning and greatly enhance biodiversity”. . .

North Island iwi join forces to buy into Kaingaroa Timberlands:

Six central North Island iwi have joined forces to buy a 2.5% stake in New Zealand’s largest forestry business, Kaingaroa Timberlands. The investment is one of the biggest ever involving an iwi collective.

The six iwi representative organisations, Ngati Rangitihi, Ngati Whakaue Assets and Te Arawa River Iwi Limited Partnership, Ngati Whare, Raukawa, Te Arawa Group Holdings Limited and Tuwharetoa, have formed Kakano Investment Limited Partnership (Kakano) and purchased the stake from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZ Super Fund) for an undisclosed price.

Raukawa chairperson Vanessa Eparaima has been appointed chairperson of Kakano. Ms Eparaima said the investment was a major strategic and commercial step forward for iwi, and a win-win that ensured iwi were involved in the forestry business itself as well as being the land owner. . .

Seafood industry supports permits for shark tourism:

The seafood industry welcomes the announcement by Conservation Minister Nick Smith on permits for shark cage tourism operators.

Commercial paua divers and other marine users are concerned that the burgeoning
shark cage tourism industry around Foveaux Strait may change the behaviour of great white sharks and increase the risk of shark attack.

The paua industry has, for many years, been urging government agencies and
responsible Ministers to work together to ensure that shark cage diving is safe for tourists, sharks, and other marine users. . . .


Rural round-up

February 3, 2014

Wairarapa Farmer wins NZ Rural Wetland Champion 2014 award:

Combining good farming practices with proactive steps to look after the wetlands on their beef and dairy farm, has earned the Donald family in the Wairarapa, the title of “National Rural Wetland Champion for 2014”.

To celebrate World Wetlands Day 2014 (Sunday February 2) the National Wetland Trust and the Department of Conservation (DOC) worked with regional councils around the country to find New Zealand’s most wetland-friendly farming families.

Wetlands are important to maintaining a healthy environment, playing a key role in water purification and flood control. Protecting wetlands and minimising the impact of farming on these ecosystems benefits everyone. . .

Tighter PKE screening welcomed:

Federated Farmers is pleased 4mm is being proposed as the minimum screening mesh for Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) entering New Zealand.

“From 21 April, when the screening is set to commence, confidence in PKE as an imported animal feed should improve,” says Bruce Wills, the President of Federated Farmers.

“PKE is a recycled waste by-product of Palm Oil production. It does not drive that industry’s demand, just as plastic recycling does not drive demand for petrochemicals.

“If PKE isn’t used as supplementary animal feed, it is otherwise composted, burnt as waste and even sold as fuel for furnaces. . . .

Minister marks World Wetlands Day:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today marked this year’s World Wetlands Day with the launch of a new stamp in the Game Bird Habitat Collection Series.

“The Game Bird Habitat Stamp programme is aimed at raising funds to protect and enhance the habitat of our game birds. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to enable New Zealanders to give direct support to a great cause,” Dr Smith says.

The 2014 stamp features the pukeko, painted by landscape and wildlife artist Jeanette Blackburn, and the background habitat on the stamp is the Para Wetland in Marlborough. As well as the stamp, this year’s collection includes other related items such as a miniature sheet, first day cover and a limited edition signed Artist Print.

The items are sold through New Zealand Post to collectors and also used by Fish & Game to endorse hunting licences, with the funds raised going towards habitat conservation projects.  . . .

Inventor off to Cologne trade fair - Mark Price:

The Lake Hawea man who developed the what he branded the ”Slammertool” is taking it to what he calls the hand tool equivalent of the Olympics.

T. J. Irvin will attend the 142,000sq m international hardware fair Eisenwarenmesse in Cologne, Germany, from March 9-12.

”That No8 wire mentality New Zealand prides itself on – Eisenwarenmesse is the Olympics of that.”

He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he would rather be at the Winter Olympics in Sochi but could not turn down an invitation to put his multi-purpose Slammertool up against the world’s best new tools – even though the trip will cost him $44,000. . .

Synlait’s John Penno explains the company’s success – Jamie Ball:

In the first of a two-part NBR ONLINE interview, primary industries reporter Jamie Ball talks to Synlait’s John Penno on how and why it currently all seems to be going so right for the Dunsandel-based milk company.

Canterbury-based Synlait group was founded in 2000. In February 2013, Synlait Farms and Synlait Milk were separated. Synlait Milk floated last July and is now 39.12%-owned by Chinese company Bright Dairy, 8.4% by Japan’s Mitsui & Co, and 7.5% by Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina. Synlait Milk’s IPO offer price, announced in July, was $2.20. Earlier this week, shares were trading at $3.82, a gain of 74%, valuing the company at $560 million. On January 28, Synlait Milk announced an increase of its forecast milk price for the FY2014 season from $8.00 per kg/MS to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kg/MS.The company also lifted its advance rates for the season effective from January, to be paid February, from $5.00 per kg/MS to $6.40 per kg/MS. Synlait Milk anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July. . .

 

Synlait Milk joins board of leading industry body:

Canterbury dairy product manufacturer Synlait Milk has joined the Board of the Infant Nutrition Council (INC), allowing it to take a greater leadership role in industry issues.

INC, which represents 95% of the infant formula industry in New Zealand and Australia by volume, has welcomed Synlait to the new role and says the move will benefit both consumers and the industry.

“Synlait Milk is a fantastic New Zealand company, we are delighted to have them join our Board,” INC Chief Executive Jan Carey said.

“The Infant Nutrition Council is firmly committed to ensuring the safety and integrity of New Zealand’s infant formula industry. . .

 

Why Australians should support farmers during drought: NFF - Brent Finlay:

A recent editorial on drought assistance (Australian Financial Review 17 Jan 2014  “Don’t subsidise low rainfall”) raised the valid question – should Australians support farmers during drought?

In short, the answer has to be ‘yes’ if Australians want their high-quality food and fibre to continue to be produced on Australian soil.

A Productivity Commission report in 2009 concluded that the Interest Rate subsidies of the past did not necessarily reward farmers who were the best prepared for the droughts – an unavoidable feature of farming in Australia. As a result, it was the Gillard Labor Government, not Barnaby Joyce, as your editorial incorrectly suggested, that introduced concessional loans as a business restructuring support mechanism during severe downturns.

Additionally, it’s incorrect to say the Abbott Government ignored the PC report, or the need for fundamental shifts in the way drought support is structured, when extending this measure to cope with the rapidly deteriorating climatic conditions it faced upon election. . . .

US billionaire Foley may buy Martinborough Vineyard:

(BusinessDesk) – American billionaire Bill Foley may add to his wine interests in the Wairarapa region with the acquisition of pinot noir pioneer Martinborough Vineyard Estates.

Foley, through NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines, hasn’t yet gone through the due diligence process and isn’t at the stage of agreeing a price for the Martinborough vineyard, said chief executive Mark Turnbull. The parties are aiming to complete the transaction by March 31.

The business would add to the Te Kairanga Wines company, just down the road in the town of Martinborough that Foley acquired in 2011. Foley has been expanding his wine interests while building what Turnbull has called a vertical integration strategy which has included taking a 24.9 percent stake in celebrity chef Simon Gault’s Nourish Group restaurant chain. . .


Rural round-up

February 1, 2014

Sock-less shoe idea gets $30k kickstarter – Daniel Lynch:

Tim Brown’s sock-less woollen running shoe idea is one step closer to being a commercial reality after the startup’s wildly successful crowdfunding campaign.

It took just over 24 hours for Brown’s fledgling company Three Over Seven to reach its $30,000 target on crowd funding site Kickstarter.

So far, more than 290 people from around the world have backed the Wool Runners idea each pledging a small financial contribution – and that figure could grow much higher by the end of the month-long funding push.

The former All White’s and Phoenix soccer player said the goal of hitting $30,000 from the Kickstarter campaign was the breakeven point to get the shoes into production.

“It has required an investment of well into the six figures to get to this point with our fabric production and the legal costs of patent filing,” Brown said.

The shoes are made from mid-micron New Zealand sheep’s wool, utilising a patent pending process comprising of knitting together wool fibres, melt-bond fibres, and multifilament yarn to form a unique knitted fabric. . .

Rare Wairarapa forest protected for all to enjoy:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced the Nature Heritage Fund has purchased of seven hectares of rare kahikatea forest on the Wairarapa Plains for $340,000.

“The giant trees that can be seen for miles on the Wairarapa Plains are now guaranteed for everyone to enjoy,” Dr Smith says.

“This area of forest known as Allen’s Bush is next to the 42-hectare Lowes Bush Scenic Reserve, which was purchased by the Fund in 2000. The latest purchase will see the nearby kahikatea forest also protected as a scenic reserve.

“Allen’s Bush is distinctive for the size of its trees, its maturity and ecological diversity. The forest is also home to a number of species uncommon elsewhere in the Wellington region, including a number of native birds, long-tailed bats, and koura and freshwater crayfish in the creeks and pools. . .

High commodity prices boost Synlait’s profit - Alan Williams:

Synlait Milk will have a much higher profit this year than it expected just a few months ago, and some of the credit goes to Fonterra.

Mostly it is a result of very high dairy commodity prices and Synlait’s mix of products.

However, Fonterra’s mix of products has led to a situation where Synlait and the other small competitors are having to pay less for their milk than they would otherwise.

They could pocket the difference as profits, NZX Agrifax dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said. . .

Milk powder exports to China leads to high export levels in 2013:

Milk powder exports, particularly to China, dominated the total goods exported for the year ended December 2013, Statistics New Zealand said today. This led to many new record highs, such as export values for the month, quarter, and year for the grouping milk powder, butter, and cheese.

“For 2013, the value of goods we exported rose by $2.0 billion – to reach $48.1 billion – and most of this increase was from milk powder,” industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said. “Almost half of our milk powder exports went to China.”

Goods exported to China in the year ended December 2013 were valued at $10.0 billion, of which $4.0 billion was milk powder. This is the highest-ever value of milk powder exported to China for any year. . .

Manawatu shows how rural banking works – Lucy Townend:

New Zealand is an agri-commerce powerhouse in the eyes of our Asia-Pacific neighbours, with Manawatu proving to be the best example.

An international delegation got the inside scoop on New Zealand’s agricultural sector this week, touring farms, banks and questioning industry experts in Palmerston North.

As part of a Massey University pilot programme, bank managers and policy makers from the Philippines, India and Bangladesh travelled to New Zealand for first-hand experience of financing in the farming sector.

The trip is part of a programme, led by Massey’s Centre for Professional and Continuing Education (Pace) and the Centre for Training and Research for Agricultural Banking (Centrab). Nearly 60 institutions are involved, including top central and commercial banks, as well as government departments, in more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. . .

New rules to help minimise livestock injury risk:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is introducing new rules which will reduce animal welfare risks in the nation’s livestock – particularly in the dairy sector.

Hardware disease is the perforation of the stomach wall by sharp metal fragments.  It is known to occur in animals fed with contaminated Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) which is imported into New Zealand 

PKE is an animal feed that is important to New Zealand farming.  It is used to supplement feed especially during a drought.

The new rules will be issued by a notice under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicine (ACVM) Act 1997.  These will set the minimum requirements for screening PKE and outline record keeping and traceability requirements for all imported animal feeds, . .

Heading back to school:

As children head back to school, Rural Women NZ  hopes 2014 will be the year when state-of-the-art signage will be approved for use on school buses to help remind passing motorists that ‘Either Way It’s 20K’.

Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan, says “The 20kmh speed limit in both directions must be one of the most flouted rules in the Road Code, often because drivers are simply unaware of the law, or don’t notice they’re passing a school bus until it’s too late.

“We are calling for illuminated 20K signs to be approved for use on school buses.”
During 2013 Rural Women NZ took part in an extensive trial in Ashburton, along with TERNZ Ltd and NZTA, to alert drivers that they’re about to pass a school bus and of the need to slow right down, called ‘Either Way it’s 20K’. . .

Battle for birds

January 30, 2014

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has launched DOC’s largest-ever species protection programme called ‘Battle for Our Birds’.

“Our native birds are in decline and the kiwi will not exist in the wild for our grandchildren unless we do more to protect them. Rats, stoats and possums must be controlled to stop them killing 25 million native birds a year. It is like having a Rena disaster, which killed 2000 birds, every hour,” Dr Smith says.

“This problem is particularly urgent this year because we are facing a one in 10 to 15 year large beech mast that will drop about a million tonnes of seed in autumn. This flood of food will trigger a plague of an additional 30 million rats and tens of thousands of stoats. When the seeds germinate in spring, these starved predators will annihilate populations of our endangered birds.

“This ‘Battle for Our Birds’ programme increases pest control in 35 forests to protect 12 native species, and mainly involves using 1080. An additional 500,000 hectares will be treated in this mast year, increasing the proportion of public conservation land protected from these pests from five per cent to 12 per cent. It also involves expanding DOC’s on-going pest control work by 50,000 hectares each year over the next five years.”

The twelve target species are the great spotted, brown and tokoeka kiwi, kaka, kea, whio (blue duck), mohua (yellowhead), kakaraki (orange-fronted parakeet), rock wren, long and short tailed bats, and giant snails. It will save millions of other native birds like fantails, robins, tui, kereru, riflemen, bellbirds, tomtits and warbles, reptiles like geckos, insects like weta, trees like rata, and plants like mistletoe.

The bulk of the 35 forests where the protection work will occur this year is in South Island beech forests in the Kahurangi, Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Westland, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The other reserves in the South Island are the Catlins and Waikaia in Otago, Mt Dobson and Upper Hurunui in Canterbury, Haast, Maruia and Mokihinui on the West Coast, and Pelorus and Isolated Hill in Marlborough. The five forests in the North Island to receive protection this year are Pouiatoa in Taranaki, the Whanganui and Tongariro National Parks, and at Pirongia and Awaroa in western Waikato.

“The details of the exact areas, timing and mix of pest control tools will be finalised over coming months. We need to monitor the mast seed drop and the resulting pest plague, and engage with affected communities.

“This pest control programme does involve the use of aerial 1080, but does not mean record use. Pre-feeding, improving bait quality to avoid crumbs attractive to birds, helicopter rather than fixed-wing aircraft distribution, GPS, and the development of repellents for non-target species have enabled major improvements in 1080 control methods. Bait application rates have reduced from 30 kilograms to one kilogram per hectare.

“I know there are people, regardless of the science, who will oppose the use of poisons. The comprehensive conclusions of the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Environment Protection Authority make plain that 1080 is safe and the only practical tool that will work. Reason must trump prejudice about poisons when the very species that define our country like kiwi are at stake.”

This programme will cost about $21 million over the next five years out of DOC’s $335 million annual budget and is possible because of savings from last year’s restructuring, partnership funding, efficiency gains from improved pest control technologies, and economies of scale in this large project

“The ‘Battle for Our Birds’ is New Zealand’s largest ever species protection programme. It’s about backing our kiwi, kaka and kea over rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith concluded.

The plan has the backing of parliament’s environment watchdog:

. . . Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright warned of the “pest explosion” in December and she’s welcoming Dr Smith’s move.

“The potential toll on our native wildlife is enormous,” she said.

“I’m delighted with Dr Smith’s considered response to this very major threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.”

Dr Wright says 1080 is the only tool to control the plagues of rats and stoats that follow a mast event.

Forest and Bird says the 1080 plan should be standard:

“Conservation group Forest and Bird says increased pest poisoning in response to an expected boom in rat and stoat numbers should be the new baseline. . .

“Without this increase in predator control, there will be a real possibility that we will lose a bird species this mast year,” said F&B advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

“DOC should be funded properly for dealing with this event. But, if this level of predator control is not maintained, the money could easily be wasted. For this reason the programme over the next five years should become the new standard for DOC’s aerial 1080 operations.” . . .

Native flora and fauna are under threat from imported pests in the best of years.In mast years the increased danger calls for an extraordinary response and the planned 1080 blitz  is necessary.

Beech mast 2014 logo.

There is more on the plan at DOC’s website.


Rural round-up

January 8, 2014

Milk’s carbon footprint cut by 63 percent:Tom Quaife:

Since 1944, efficiencies in the dairy industry have allowed fewer cows to produce more milk. As a result, the carbon footprint per pound of milk produced has fallen by 63 percent, according to a noted expert.

“In 1944, it took four cows to produce the same amount of milk as a single cow in 2007,” Jude Capper, assistant professor of dairy science at Washington State University told those attending a session at Alltech’s 27th Annual International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium on Monday.

Dairy farmers have made major progress over the years, which is something the industry should be proud of, she said.

Capper has researched this subject extensively and published articles in scientific journals, including the Journal of Dairy Science.

She is also at the forefront when it comes to debunking the myth that modern agriculture is worse for the environment than the farms that dotted the landscape in the 1940s. . .

Scientists help farmers make dairies green:

Cows stand patiently in a tent-like chamber at a research farm in western Wisconsin, waiting for their breath to be tested. Outside, corrals have been set up with equipment to measure gas wafting from the ground. A nearby corn field contains tools that allow researchers to assess the effects of manure spread as fertiliser.

Scientists based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have started a slew of studies to determine how dairy farms can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. They will look at what animals eat, how their waste is handled and the effects on soil, water and air.

Their work is part of a government-sponsored effort to help farmers adapt to more extreme weather and reduce their impact on climate change. The studies also will support a dairy industry effort to make farms more environmentally friendly, profitable and attractive to consumers. . .

Bunnies on the run – Lynda Gray:

Cute and cuddly…almost. Meet Newton, one half of Euan Butter’s dynamic rabbit-busting duo.

Newton, a six-year-old ferret, and his white and pink-eyed side-kick Snowy (2) love nothing better than wreaking havoc in rabbit warrens and holes throughout Central Otago.

Euan, a pro-rabbiter for “donkey’s years” says ferrets are a good secondary rabbit control tool he’s used for the past 15 years, flushing out the last of the pest following major control operations.

He keeps the ferrets at his Alexandra base and carts them around Central Otago on the back of his ute in straw-lined boxes. . . .

Distillers grain prices slump as China rejections clog pipeline - Christine Stebbins and Karl Plume:

The price of distillers’ dried grain has slid 20 percent in a week as U.S. exporters shied away from selling the corn-based feed grain to its top customer China after Beijing rejected shipments containing an unapproved GMO corn strain.

“Everyone is just nervous. If you load something no one knows if someone is going to take it or not,” said Ryan McClanahan, a Kansas City-based trader with Commodity Specialists Co, which supplies DDGs to both domestic and export markets.

“People have just stopped loading vessels, containers domestically so the product is just backing up in the domestic market,” McClanahan told Reuters. . .

Oh rats! – Mad Bush Farm:

This morning my poor mum rang me in a terrible state. The panic in her voice was all too real. The problem? One rat sat on her bench making itself comfortable, oblivious to the drama going on just beyond, by the human occupant making a frantic call on the telephone.Call for help made to second to youngest child in her brood of six children, to come up and deal with said Mr Rat.

 
I went straight up there to sort the thing out. Yes there it was, as large as life cleaning its whiskers, unafraid that doom was now overshadowing its very existence. (cue evil laughter)
 
Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those horrible ugly water rats that show up from time to time. It was a native bush rat or Kiore. Even so, it was not welcome in my mother’s home. A few shoves, and it headed out the door. I chucked some rat bait under the deck and that should have been that. . . .

Winter mountain biking on Heaphy Track permanently approved:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced at Karamea on the West Coast the permanent approval of mountain biking on the Heaphy Track from 1 May to 30 September each year.

“The Heaphy Track is New Zealand’s ultimate multi-day mountain biking experience. It traverses dramatic and diverse landscapes from mountain forests, to expansive grasslands and wild West Coast beaches,” Dr Smith says.

“The three-year trial has been a success and it is timely to make it a permanent feature of Nelson and the West Coast’s visitor attractions. Year-round mountain biking has also been approved on two other Kahurangi National Park tracks – the Flora Saddle to Barron Flat and Kill Devil tracks.” . . .


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2013

“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. . . “ Prince Harry.

. . . Whether it is in sport, business, agriculture, the arts, science and the creative industries, or in international fora such as peacekeeping, New Zealanders have repeatedly shown their talent, tenacity, flair and commitment.

That legacy of the new way of doing things was well put by New Zealander and Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts a few years ago when he said: “We were the last to be discovered and the first to see the light. This makes us one of the great experimental cultures. We try things first. Whether it’s votes for women, the welfare state or the market economy, powered flight, nuclear physics, anti-nuclearism, biculturalism. First-isms. The New in New Zealand is our reason to exist.” Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.” Jonny Trevathan, Master Chef entrant.

By 1984 the economy was in a mess, and I hope history will record more positively the decisive actions of both the Lange-Douglas Labour Government and the Bolger-Richardson National Government that followed. The resilience of the New Zealand economy during the recent global downturn owes much to the courage of those Cabinets, at least in their early years, putting New Zealand’s very real needs ahead of political considerations in pursuing necessary reform. – Lockwood Smith

As a former Commonwealth Scholar in Science, I have often regretted that I never got involved in that area during my time here. Science and technology have been so crucial to the advancement of human well-being, yet scientists are a rare breed in politics. Internationally, there is something of a disconnect between the two. In politics, for example, green is the claimed colour of sustainability. Yet in science, the very reason we perceive plants to be green is that they reflect green light. They cannot use it. It is red and blue light that sustain most of our living world. Lockwood Smith

Some commentators assess members on how successfully they play the political game. But to me what sets a member of Parliament apart is how much they care about the impact of the State on an ordinary person, and how far they are prepared to go in representing people whose lives can be so knocked around by the actions of the State. Lockwood Smith

This House, in so many ways, has become a place of political parties rather than a House of Representatives. I am not for one moment trying to make a case for the old system, but I do believe there will come a time when we will need to re-examine that balance of accountabilities. Representation is enhanced when members have to help ordinary people in their local communities, many of whom may never have voted for them. Lockwood Smith.

We aren’t scientists we are farmers, we choose not to debate the science but work hard to deal with changing weather patterns. Bruce Wills.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. The Labour Party has finally adopted one of the very sensible policies of the National Government, and that is the mixed-ownership model. That is right. These days, the Labour Party is 51 percent owned by Labour and 49 percent owned by the Greens. Yes, these two parties have come together in this happy little place, where fruit meets loop. John Key.

. . . Kids who read stay out of jail (unless they grow up to be financial investment directors). Reading gives them words. Words give them the ability to express and clarify themselves to others. How many young guys end up in strife because they don’t have the vocab to explain what they’re doing, and so they move from incoherence to frustration to violence?

Reading helps young people come to terms with themselves and their issues. . .  David Hill

“Oh my god, another cross to bear,” Tim Shadbolt on being told  he was the most trusted mayor in the country in a Readers Digest poll.

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .Sam Johnson

. . . You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be. . .  Sam Johnson

. . . I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that. Sam Johnson

One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.” District Court Judge Russell Callander

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” – Ted Ford

A Government should not be relied upon to create jobs. To bolster our economy and growth, we need the private sector to be creating jobs in the tradeables sector.

Whether they are high-earning export roles, or an entry level company, it is the job of entrepreneurs. Government’s role is to put in place the right conditions for economic growth, so companies can feel comfortable about expanding, growing, or just starting out in the business world.

Local government also has a role, through having plans for economic growth and development that encourage businesses and don’t stifle their creativity. Eric Roy

Politics is a two-stage process: first you’re sworn in, then, inevitably, eventually, you’re sworn at. Denis Welch.

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

. . . within 48 hours it looks very much to us as if it is just another David, another day, and another step to the left, as we see the disloyalty in the Labour caucus slowly beginning to foment. Gerry Brownlee.

But now, of course, under the new leader of the Labour Party, the pledge card, like his CV, will be a living document—kind of like the Treaty but without the principles.Bill English

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” – Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

The big, bad thing is that large parts of the Left have never faced up to the failure of socialism. The nicer Leftists, often very belatedly, deplored Stalin and Mao – the purges, the Gulags, the famines, the invasions. The more intelligent ones detected certain (let us put it gently) problems with state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Yet when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was knocked down by the citizens in whose name it had been erected, few could admit that this was a defeat for socialism as fundamental as that of Nazism in 1945. . . Charles Moore

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé. Tim Minchin

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. Tim Minchin

Parliament applauded Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize for her book ‘The Luminaries’ when it resumed today.

Prime Minister John Key said the success should be celebrated by New Zealanders as much as they did sporting victories. Catton’s feat in becoming the youngest winner of the prize at 28, came as 16 year old Lorde topped the US charts with her music showing New Zealand was blessed with strong, creative young women. Parliament Today

“You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with.” John Key

Not so much a political honeymoon as a naughty weekend with the floating voters. – Vernon Small on David Cunliffe.

. . . Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols. These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused. Judith Collins

. . . considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now?

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. Farming Show host Jamie Mackay on Labour after its leader refused to appear on the show in case he was laughed at.

. . . For the farmer, the business person, the property owner, and the financial investor it’s all pretty straightforward. What’s in it for National’s electoral base is economic growth, low inflation, reduced taxation and a reasonable rate-of-return. What they’re not looking for is more economic regulation, higher taxes, rising prices or inflationary wage demands.

Getting the attention of those who feel that their stake in New Zealand society is much too meagre to matter is a considerably more daunting task. - Chris Trotter

There is a saying that you do not beat New Zealand – you just get more points than them at the final whistle. – Sir Ian McGeechan

“I don’t really believe in Great — insert a country — Novels,” she said. “I don’t see how you can reconcile that with diversity, and I think the diversity is the most important thing in any national literature.” Eleanor Catton

I knew it would never be about zeroes. I’m not a spreadsheet with hair; will never be. I am an artist, an author, with a hunger for showing people what I can do and a talent for making people turn my name into a call while they’re waiting front row. It’s me. I’m here. - Lorde

Imagine if Nelson Mandela was as angry as John Minto when he got out of prison” – Josie Pagani on ‘The Huddle

Beyond the All Blacks being unbeaten for a whole season, and Emirates Team New Zealand coming second in a two-boat race, what put New Zealand on the world’s front pages in 2013 was a novel, a song and a film. – Hamish Keith

It’s one of the oldest cliches in politics – that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it’s not. - Tim Watkins

I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. – Colin Craig

“Tasmanian Devils are renowned for their big mouths, bad behaviour and noisiness, so they will fit in well with the nation’s politicians in the capital,” - Nick Smith

I totally disagree with it. If you’re going to earn money, you earn it. You’re given it by your productivity.” - Sir John Walker on the living wage.

Science is not a bunch of facts. Scientists are not people trying to be prescriptive or authoritative. Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It’s easier, at a dinner party, to say ”science” than to say ”the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias”. Douglas Adams said: ”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality – whatever that is – and you don’t have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world. Tim Minchin

. . . Remember the Government’s $30 million cash injection to secure the immediate future of Tiwai Point?  That helped to protect 3,200 jobs and the smelter’s $1.6 billion annual contribution to the Southland economy. Dairying doesn’t need such support, but in 2009, it injected over $700 million into the Southland economy and employed over 2,300 people.  Dairying may not be number one here but we’re a pretty important second that’s become more important over the past four years. . . Russell MacPherson

All of us pay for some of us to indulge romantic dreams about trains or to feed fanciful beliefs that the government owns these “assets which are valuable”

This stuff is not silver its rust… the best performers can’t perform without laws which force revenue into their pockets, the worst performers are a receivers dream.

Genuine concern for the poor would not see government owning commercial assets. - Eye to the Long Run

. . . If from the time their children could read, parents had introduced them to newspapers, as certainly happened when I was young, rather than addiction to idiotic texting, they would, instead, be addicted to the world in all of its wide-ranging fascination and zaniness (the human factor), as delivered to us daily in the newspaper.

It’s a shame as nothing matches the daily newspaper for sheer stimulation, education, and entertainment value for money. Take a recent Dominion Post. First the pleasure of its crosswords and tussling over the wordgame, this after quickly scanning the front page for later reading. Each news item induced a full spectrum of emotions, from rage to delight, in the latter case from the splendid heading, “Mr Whippy frozen with fear by chainsaw wielding cross-dresser”. That alone was worth the price of the paper and was promptly dispatched to friends abroad. These texting obsessives don’t know what they’re missing. . .  –  Bob Jones

. . .  Seemingly the first duty on rising every morning for Remuerites is to go outside and rake up the $100 notes that have fallen like confetti on them overnight. It must be very tiresome.  . . Bob Jones

. . . But as you go through life when you run into a brick wall, you’ve just got to knock the bastard over. – Sir Peter Leitch.

 


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