Rural round-up

April 20, 2014

High-Performing Sheep Operation Wins Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kaituna sheep and beef farmers Matt and Lynley Wyeth are Supreme winners of the 2014 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges said the couple’s 800ha (effective) farming operation, Spring Valley Enterprises, was exceptionally well run.

“This is an extremely high performing business with a defined aim to stay in the top 10 percent of equivalent farming operations.”

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 16, Matt and Lynley also collected the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award. . .

Getting ready to kill the evil weevil  – Tim Cronshaw

Scientists are nearing the halfway mark of their target of sucking up one million wasps from Canterbury paddocks and sending them to Southland to combat the clover root weevil.

AgResearch teams armed with modified leaf blowers are sucking up weevils infected with an Irish wasp.

After counting their numbers in a laboratory, they are sent down in groups of about 100 to go to as many as 1000 Southland farmers. The wasp is a natural enemy of the weevil, which has attacked Southland clover in pastures and limited sheep, beef and milk production since arriving in 2010.

A mild winter allowed the weevil to take its small foothold on Southland farms to a widespread infestation. . .

Moths, beetles free farm of stock-threatening weed  – Iain Scott:

Once covered in ragwort, a Manawatu farm is now almost free of the stock-threatening weed thanks to the introduction of moths and beetles.

Kiwitea dairy farmer Wayne Bennett credits the cinnabar moth, flea beetle and plume moth for ridding the farm of the yellow-flowered weed that had spread through the farm two years after he bought it.

Ragwort has the ability to compete with pasture species and contains alkaloids that are toxic to stock. A single plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds. . .

Marijuana growers causing ‘level of fear’:

Many people in rural areas are ”living in fear” of drug growers and dealers taking advantage of isolated conditions, Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) executive officer Noeline Holt says.

RWNZ and Federated Farmers New Zealand asked their members for feedback on the Ministry of Health’s New National Drug Policy, which sets out the Government’s approach for tobacco, alcohol, and illegal and other drugs.

Mrs Holt said the main concerns of the almost 400 people who responded were about legal highs, marijuana plantations and methamphetamine manufacturing.

”Some of the most isolated homes and houses can be easily accessed and [drug manufacturers] can discreetly manufacture to their heart’s content. . .

Grape Harvest beats rain -

Nelson wineries are relieved the region’s grape harvest has largely finished ahead of prolonged rain.

Nelson Winegrowers Association chairman Richard Flatman said most people he had talked to had managed to get their grapes in.

He described this year’s harvest as perfect, as it had been early and was big on flavour. “It will be fantastic for Nelson,” he said.

Waimea Estates general manager Ben Bolitho said they had been delighted to have all but finished harvest ahead of 10 days forecast rain. . .

 


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. . .


Family Farming road show

March 17, 2014

Rural Women NZ is running a series of events to celebrate the International Year of Family Farming:

“We are excited to be leading events around the country, with a series of road shows beginning at North Otago’s A&P showgrounds in Oamaru on 27 March,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan.

Similar events will be held at the A&P showgrounds in Rangiora (28 March), Ashburton (29 March), Helensville (5 April), Carterton (6 April), Rai Valley (7 April) and Stratford (9 April). 

Marlborough dry lands farmer, Doug Avery, a passionate advocate for family farming and Landcorp Communicator of the Year in 2013, will co-host the events, giving an inspirational talk on the transformation of his drought-stricken farm into a sustainable venture through visionary changes to his farming system.

Avery predicts farming families will continue to excel in New Zealand.  

“There is one reason they will do that, which is because you can’t replace passion in anything, and people that are working for themselves with their own vision have that element that is called passion, which will lead and beat pretty much anything else that corporate structures will throw at us.”

But farmers can’t operate in isolation.

“Every family needs a farmer, and every farmer needs a community,” says Wendy McGowan. “Our organisation is focused on growing dynamic communities, so celebrating the UN International Year of Family Farming is the perfect fit for us.”

Each of the road shows will have its own local flavour, including seminars on topics such as succession planning, safety on the farm, investing in your farming future and sustainability.

There’ll also be market stalls, crafts and displays by local businesses.  

And we’ll be ending the celebrations on a fun note, with a hilarious romp around the dog kennels courtesy of Kiwi performers The Bitches Box and Mel Parsons, hot from their stellar season at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Worldwide, the UN International Year of Family Farming is focused on sustainability, food security, the eradication of hunger and malnutrition, and helping people step up out of poverty.

These events are open to the public.
There’s more on the year at the International Year of Family Farming website.

The 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

The goal of the 2014 IYFF is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development.  The 2014 IYFF will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers. . .

There’s growing concern here about a takeover by corporate farming and foreign owenrs but the vast majority of farms are still family farms.

Finance Minister Bill English explains why the owner operator model works:

“Often farms that are purchased by foreigners end up reverting to local ownership, as the owners realise you have to live it and love it to make any money out of it,” he said.

Living it and loving it, that explains why a lot of families keep farming and farming successfully.

 


Rural round-up

February 28, 2014

It’s ‘Good Times’ following record dairy forecast:

While the dry summer is starting to bite in parts of Waikato and Northland, Fonterra has delivered excellent news for New Zealand by upping its 2013/14 forecast Farmgate Milk Price to a record $8.65 per kilogram of Milk Solids (kg/MS).

“You can say New Zealand is truly a land of milk and honey with the two being at record highs,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson, speaking from Federated Farmers Dairy Council in Wellington.

“I also think this will put a huge smile on Minister Guy’s face when he speaks to us later this morning.  If the forecast sticks this represents ‘good times’ for all Kiwis.

“In 2010, the NZIER said a $1 kg/MS rise in Fonterra’s payout makes every New Zealander nearly $300 better off.  Given this latest 35 cent kg/MS uplift, every New Zealander could be $100 better off as a result of what we do. . .

Forefront of farming’s great journey - Annette Scott:

Sarah Crofoot is a young woman with a clear vision, who is advocating passionately for farmers in the modern New Zealand economy. She talked to Annette Scott.

Sarah Crofoot grew up on a farm 45 minutes from New York City.

She treasures her rural upbringing and at just 23 she is clear on what she wants for her children and future generations.

“Because I grew up in New York it has made me appreciate how lucky we are in New Zealand, with the amazing opportunities we have in agriculture,” she said.  .  .

More than 5300 farmers to benefit from TB changes:

From 1 March 2014, more than 5300 herdowners across some 1.7 million hectares will benefit from reductions in both Movement Control Areas (MCA) and cattle and deer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests.

Herds throughout parts of the Central North Island, Southern North Island and Northern South Island will no longer require pre-movement TB testing, but will continue to be tested annually.

Farmer and Wellington TBfree Committee Chairman Peter Gaskin no longer has to pre-movement test his cattle. He said the progress made by the TB control programme through movement restrictions and wild animal control has been particularly satisfying.

“It’s been very pleasing for farmers to be able to enjoy another on-farm benefit, resulting from the sustained pressure applied by TBfree New Zealand, as it implements the national TB control plan,” said Peter. . .

Growing Dynamic Leaders with Rural Women NZ:

Eleven women from around New Zealand arrive in Wellington today for the start of a three day leadership course co-ordinated by Rural Women NZ and sponsored by Landcorp.

The women – all Rural Women NZ members – are active in their communities and are now looking to grow their communications skills, enhance their networks, and learn more of the work of our organisation at a national level.

“The women will explore what makes an effective leader, how to influence others and the importance of networks both within the organisation and in the broader rural sector,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan. . . .

ACC announces new forestry sector injury prevention initiative:

ACC announced today that work has begun developing a new injury prevention programme, aimed at encouraging safer practices in the forestry sector.

The ‘ACC Forestry Sector Injury Prevention Programme’ will be developed and implemented in collaboration with WorkSafe NZ, the NZ Forest Owners Association (FOA), the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU).

ACC’s Head of Insurance Products and Injury Prevention, David Simpson, says “For the past eighteen months, the safety record of New Zealand’s forestry industry has lagged behind other New Zealand industries, as well as forestry sectors globally. Recent fatalities, eleven since January 2013, have highlighted ongoing safety concerns. . .

Online tool compares energy efficiency of dairy sheds across NZ:

Dairy farmers could save $42 million through electricity efficiency measures in the dairy shed, and now an online tool is available that gives individual farmers an idea of how well they are making use of the electricity they pay for.

EECA BUSINESS has launched the Dairy Farm Energy Efficiency tool, which compares a dairy farm’s electricity use to other dairy farms in New Zealand, and to best practice.

The average New Zealand dairy farm spends over $20,000 a year on electricity, but dairy sheds vary a lot in how efficiently they use their electricity, says Kirk Archibald, EECA projects and relationship manager.

“Some dairy farms are using three times as much electricity as others for the same milk-solids production.” . . .

Federated Farmers’ Executive an environmental leader:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Executive member, Sandra Faulkner, along with her family business partners, husband Rob and brother and sister in laws, Bruce and Jo Graham, have won the Supreme Award at the East Coast Balance Farm Environment Awards last night, taking them through to the national finals on 24 June.

“We are incredibly proud of Sandra, who is both a national and provincial executive for Federated Farmers, and her business partners for taking out this award. This meat and fibre farm is as diverse as it is environmentally friendly,” says Peter Jex-Blake, Federated Farmers provincial president for Gisborne-Wairoa. . .


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’. . .

Rural round-up

December 12, 2013

Audacious goal on South Canterbury demo farm:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s demonstration farm programme is about testing new and exciting ideas within a real farm context. So, when Andrea and Warren Leslie from South Canterbury were invited to join the programme, they were challenged to share their ultimate on-farm goals during an initial workshop of demonstration farmers. Warren says he made the mistake of standing up first.

“I said ‘I want to lamb 200 per cent’ and people said that’s not such a big deal. Then I added ‘without any triplets or singles’.” That quietened them. He wasn’t finished. The cattle goal was more challenging again: “We breed Murray Greys and sell a lot of bulls into the dairy industry. Wouldn’t it be great if 75 per cent of our progeny were male? I’m just putting it out there, to get the discussion going.” . . .

Fonterra farmgate milk price mixed blessing:

Farmers will have split views on Fonterra Cooperative Group confirming the farmgate milk forecast at $8.30 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS). While they will be pleased with that confirmation they will be less pleased to see the dividend forecast being cut by two-thirds to ten cents per share.

“The dividend is a direct marker to the financial performance of Fonterra as a company,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers will be happy to see the milk price confirmed but since 85 percent of the dividend payout goes to farmer-shareholders, they will have mixed feelings since it’s a 22 cents per share haircut.

“But knowing what my farms have produced in the season to date, it’s no surprise to find that Fonterra has been pushed to process what our farms have produced. . . .

Synlait Milk flags faster growth in 2014 as Fonterra cuts guidance – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which joined the NZX in July, says earnings will beat guidance next year on cheaper raw milk prices and growing demand for its products. That contrasts with Fonterra Cooperative Group, which today slashed its guidance in the face of a margin squeeze.

International demand is favouring Synlait’s milk powder and anhydrous milk fat products, while recent announcements mean the season’s milk price won’t be as high as expected, the company said in a statement. Because of that, Synlait said first-half and annual earnings will probably beat forecasts in 2014. It predicted profit of $19.6 million on sales of $524 million in its prospectus.

“We now expect the company will benefit from both earnings growth in our value added categories, a favourable product mix, and lower than expected milk prices,” chief executive John Penno said. “This is likely to mean Synlait’s earnings for the half and full FY14 will be ahead of forecast.” . . .

Showcasing the best - Rebecca Harper:

It’s show time here in Feilding.

Growing up, the Hawke’s Bay A&P Show was a huge part of our family life. We went to a small country school and they closed the school and gave us all the day off, because we all went to the show.

Dad used to enter lambs every year and there was usually a coloured certificate to take home for a prize on the hoof or the hook.

I rode my pony and competed in the horse events and my brothers and I were given money for the rides. . .

Kiwis take Aussie shield - Tim Fulton:

New Zealand has run away with Australia’s agricultural and pastoral show shield.

The FCAS Shield has been contested by Australian states since 2000, while NZ entered the fray five years ago.

FCAS is the Federated Council of Agricultural Societies, an equivalent of the Royal Agricultural Society in NZ.

First, second, and third placings in premier show competitions are combined to find the shield winner. . . .

Rural women up front and centre – Abby Brown:

Members of Rural Women’s Scott’s Ferry branch showed off their underwear at the Royal A&P show on December 6.

The Y fronts and boxers were decorated as part of their Y Front campaign which encouraged men to be up front about prostate cancer and get checked.

The underwear decorated one wall of the advocacy group’s booth.

Another wall was decorated with plaster cast breasts, as the group also encouraged women to get checked for breast cancer. . .


RWNZ new president

November 26, 2013

Wendy McGowan has been elected as the new national president of Rural Women New Zealand.

She succeeds Liz Evans who has held the position since 2010.

Wendy McGowan previously served a three-year term as national vice president, and has been the national councillor for Bay of Plenty/Coromandel for the last eight years, taking a special interest in land use issues, bio-security and food safety.

Wendy said, “As national president I will build on our organisation’s goals and aspirations to be dynamic, vibrant, leading, innovative and visible at all levels.

“Rural Women NZ’s interest in land, health, education and community issues need our attention and advocacy, just as they did in the 1920s.  As then, encouraging women living in rural communities to voice their concerns and support for one another is what we do well.”

Wendy announced the appointment of Kerry Maw, the Rural Women national councillor for Canterbury, as her vice president.

Looking ahead, Wendy says it is exciting to be taking a leading role in plans to celebrate the UN International Year of Family Farming in 2014.  The organisation is planning a series of events in March and April around the country to highlight the important role of family farms in provincial economic prosperity.

“It’s also an opportunity to strengthen links and understanding between rural and urban.”

The AGM was officially opened by Rural Women NZ’s patron, Her Excellency, Lady Janine Mateparae, who said her decision to take on the patron’s role was made easier by the organisation’s commitment to provide a voice for rural women and rural families.  

Prime Minister John Key also spoke at the opening ceremony and answered questions from the floor.

He said there are significant differences between our urban and rural communities and the key question is how we make sure those differences and issues are understood by everybody.  He cited broadband access, the volatility of weather that farmers must cope with and schooling in rural areas as key challenges.

Wendy McGowan and her husband Rusty farm a 260 hectare dairy support unit in Kaharoa in the Bay of Plenty.  She is also an enrolled nurse and works as a casual play specialist at Rotorua Hospital’s Children’s Unit.


Rural round-up

November 23, 2013

Agresearch defends its restructure:

AgResearch executives have fronted at a farmer meeting in Wellington to defended the state science company’s plans to relocate its operations to Palmerston North and at Lincoln.

There are fears in agricultural circles that regional agricultural science programmes will suffer when many AgResearch scientists are uprooted from their bases in Waikato and Otago.

Agresearch chief executive Tom Richardson told Federated Farmers’ national council on Wednesday that a lot of myths are circulating about Agresearch’s new footprint.

He says neither he nor AgResearch chairman Sam Robinson are smart enough to run multiple agendas – there’s been no pressure from the Government to relocate to Lincoln to support the Canterbury rebuild. . .

Rural Women NZ helps launch International Year of Family Farming 2014:

Rural Women New Zealand played a leading role in today’s launch at Parliament of the International Year of Family Farming 2014 (IYFF 2014), to coincide with the global launch at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

As one of five members of the national steering committee, Rural Women New Zealand has helped bring together a broad cross-section of groups from the agricultural sector.

Representatives of fifty organisations met at Parliament to gather information about the key issues facing family farming, develop plans for research and actions based on this information, and agree on programme outline for IYFF 2014.

Today’s workshops highlighted some of the challenges facing family farms, including succession planning and the price of land, establishment costs and the need to upgrade plant and machinery to remain competitive in an evolving market. . .

John Palmer awarded 2013 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal:

Former chairman of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board, John Palmer, was last night awarded the 2013 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal for his tireless efforts to bring the kiwifruit industry through the fiscal crisis in the early 1990’s.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride announced Mr Palmer as this year’s recipient of the kiwifruit industry award at the Hayward Medal Dinner last night, in front of more than 450 people in Mount Maunganui.

“The kiwifruit industry is facing a huge challenge in form of Psa now but we faced a disaster of equal proportions back in early 1990’s. The financial disaster in 1992 saw the bottom drop out of the market, as prices crashed in an over-supplied European market,” said Mr McBride. . .

Taiwan-NZ trade agreement to take force:

An economic cooperation agreement concluded between Taiwan and New Zealand four months ago will enter into force Dec. 1, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs Nov. 20.

The Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC)—signed July 10 in Wellington—is Taiwan’s first free trade pact with a nondiplomatic ally.

“The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Wellington and the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei have completed their respective processes,” MOEA Deputy Minister Liang Kuo-hsin said. . .

Sweet news for cherry growers – Lynda Van Kempen:

Central Otago growers have been served up some ”jolly good news” in time for Christmas – Taiwan has removed its tariff on New Zealand cherries.

About 40% of this country’s export cherries are sent to Taiwan and Summerfruit NZ chief executive Marie Dawkins said the tariff-free agreement would take effect from the start of next month .

The first export cherries to Taiwan this season would be sent within days of the new agreement taking effect. . .

Top Honours for Young Farmers:

New Zealand Young Farmers members are making waves in the agricultural scene at home and abroad.

Former NZYF Chairman, Paul Olsen was recently awarded the prestigious agricultural Nuffield Scholarship for his research topic on potato (cropping) production.

The Nuffield Scholarship is awarded each year to just a few individuals who have been identified as future leaders who want to make a positive difference to their sector of the primary industry. Only 140 scholarships have been awarded over the past 60 years.

“It’s fair to say I was over the moon and slightly humbled given the calibre of the past Nuffield scholars but very much thrilled to be given the opportunity,” said Mr Olsen, a Manawatu potato grower. . . 

Church Road Winemaker Chris Scott named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year:

Hawke’s Bay winemaker Chris Scott has today been named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year 2013 by Winestate Magazine.

With a passion for Chardonnay and red blend winemaking, and the support of an outstanding viticulture and winemaking team, Chris has been crafting award-winning Hawke’s Bay wines for thirteen years.

“Winemaking at Church Road is a team effort,” says Chris, on receiving his award today. “Our vineyard team have an outstanding knowledge of the region and the individual vineyards, and deliver outstanding fruit year after year. Our cellar team has a dedication to wine quality that far exceeds what anyone could hope for. I know everyone at Church Road is extremely proud of the wines we make and this win reflects the passion and commitment of the entire team.” . . .

6 of 14 Wine Prizes go to NZ Wines:

Six of the total 14 prizes in the Wine of the Year for Australia & New Zealand went to NZ wines in the 2013 Winestate Awards announced this week.

Australia’s Wolf Blass Platinum Label Barossa Shiraz 2010 was declared Wine of the Year for Australia & New Zealand.

Winestate NZ Winery of the Year 2013: Villa Maria Ltd Highest scored results audited across the year with wines achieving points across all categories.

Winestate Winemaker of the Year, NZ: Chris Scott (Church Road) Highest score from the top 10 different wines judged throughout the year. . .


5 day rural post 3 day urban

October 23, 2013

The Updated Deed of Understanding between the government and New Zealand Post has agreed to retain rural mail deliveries at five a week but urban deliveries could go down to three a week.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams says changes were required to ensure the postal service remains viable.

Under the agreement reached between the Government and New Zealand Post, changes to the Deed will not apply until 30 June, 2015.

“Around the world postal volumes are declining. In New Zealand this is at a rate of about 8 per cent per annum,” Ms Adams says.

“It is clear that if changes are not made to the Deed, then significant and on-going government subsidisation in excess of $30 million per year may be required.

“The decision to update the Deed reflects the need to balance the immediate interests of postal users with the longer term need for greater flexibility for New Zealand Post, given the dramatic reduction in the volume of postal items over the past 11 years.

“From their peak in 2002 mail volumes have dropped considerably, with about 328 million fewer items being posted in 2013 compared to 2002.”

New Zealand Post had sought the flexibility to reduce the frequency of mail delivery for standard delivery letters to a minimum of three days per week nationwide.

However, the Government was concerned about the sustainability of rural delivery services and rural contractors in general through fewer deliver days.

“Through negotiations, I have secured agreement from New Zealand Post that it will limit any introduction of a minimum three-day delivery to only urban areas, maintaining five-day delivery in rural delivery areas.

We currently get mail six days a week unless it’s a long weekend when there’s no delivery on Saturdays and Mondays.

Newspapers will be grateful that five-day deliveries are to be maintained because in most rural areas papers are delivered with the mail. If deliveries reduced to three a week most people wouldn’t bother subscribing.

“It is important to note that three-day delivery is the minimum standard New Zealand Post must meet. This means that New Zealand Post may continue to provide a higher frequency of delivery in some non-rural areas.

“The minimum standards in the Deed only apply to basic or standard postal services. The Deed does not apply to other types of postal products or services such as express mail, courier post, parcel post or premium services such as Fast Post.”

Changes to the Deed will also require New Zealand Post to continue to maintain a retail network of at least 880 points of presence, but permit this to be comprised of self-service kiosks, well as physical postal outlets.

Of the 880 points of presence, New Zealand Post has agreed to maintain at least 240 outlets where customers can receive personal assistance from an employee or agent of New Zealand Post.

“This will give comfort to members of the public who may feel anxious at the prospect of the introduction of self-service kiosks.”

The 880 and 240 figures are unchanged from the current Deed, but the specifics in each case have been modified to meet current requirements.

The timeframe for implementing any changes will be a commercial decision for New Zealand Post, after 30 June, 2015.

Minimum service requirements for New Zealand Post are set out in the Deed of Understanding it signed with the Crown in 1998. The Deed has not been significantly reviewed since it was signed.

Federated Farmers welcomes the announcement.

“This is great news for rural people, as many businesses are still heavily reliant on a five day service,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“New Zealand Post and the Government have clearly listened to our members concerns and we are pleased that they have recognised the uniqueness of the rural business model in their Deed of Understanding.

“Whilst technology is changing the way we communicate and eventually we will see a decline in postal deliveries, we are not there yet. There are still some 86,000 rural people off-line, where rural post is a daily fixture in the running of their business and household.

“We would like to thank all parties involved for highlighting the unique situation that rural New Zealand is in when it comes to postal delivery,” concluded Mr Wills.

Rural Women NZ is also pleased:

“In our submission, which Minister Amy Adams has acknowledged, we highlighted that the rural delivery is so much more than just a mail service and anything that threatened its sustainability would have widespread unintended consequences,” says Rural Women national president, Liz Evans.

“It is a wraparound distribution service that is part of the fabric that holds rural communities together.

“Our rural delivery contractors provide a lifeline, delivering supplies, repairs and spare parts, animal health remedies, medicines, and courier parcels.

People pay for these services but it would be more expensive and less regular if the rural delivery contractors weren’t able to provide them five days a week.

“The five day service ensures people are able to run their farming enterprises and other rural businesses effectively, even from remote locations.”

Rural delivery contractors also pick up mail and parcels, meaning that it’s feasible to run a production-based business from a rural location. These businesses breathe life into rural communities, as we have seen through our Enterprising Rural Women Awards. Rural Women NZ’s plea to preserve the existing rural delivery service was also based on the limitations of other communications facilities, that urban people take for granted.

“In many rural areas there is limited or no cellphone coverage and we are still dealing with dial-up broadband connections in many cases.”

The mail service is used a lot less than it used to be and the decline is likely to continue.

That decline will be hastened by NZ Post’s reduction in service.
Mail is much slower than it used to be and people are using alternatives because of that.
We used to get killing sheets in the mail but now we can’t rely on timely deliveries we’re getting them emailed.
There will always be some things that can’t be delivered electronically but as technology improves the need for mail services will drop.

Rural women’s empowerment crucial for end of hunger, poverty

October 15, 2013

Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty.

This is the message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the International Day of Rural Women which is celebrated on October 15th each year.

Rural women produce much of the world’s food, care for the environment and help reduce the risk of disaster in their communities. Yet they continue to face disadvantages and discrimination that prevent them from realizing their potential. For too many rural women, their daily reality is one in which they do not own the land they farm, are denied the financial services that could lift them out of poverty, and live without the guarantee of basic nutrition, health services and amenities such as clean water and sanitation. Unpaid care work imposes a heavy burden and prevents their access to decent wage employment.

Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future. This is why the United Nations recently launched a programme to empower rural women and enhance food security. The joint programme of the three Rome-based food and agricultural organizations and UN Women will work with rural women to remove the barriers they face, and to boost their skills as producers, leaders and entrepreneurs

When food and nutrition security are improved, rural women have more opportunities to find decent work and provide for the education and health of their children. With equal access to land, credit and productive resources, rural women can increase their productivity and sell their goods. As equal members of society, rural women can raise their voices as decision-makers and propel sustainable development.

The world has increasingly recognized the vital role that women play in building peace, justice and democracy. As we approach the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, it is time to invest more in rural women, protect their rights, and improve their status. On this International Day, I call on all partners to support rural women, listen to their voices and ideas, and ensure that policies respond to their needs and demands. Let us do everything we can to enable them to reach their potential for the benefit of all.

The day day recognises the contribution of women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating poverty.

In line with this, seven Rural Women NZ members have just returned from an enriching and rewarding experience connecting with village women near the Indian city of Chennai.

The group was attending the triennial world conference of the Associated Countrywomen of the World (ACWW), an organisation with a worldwide membership of over a million that has had consultative status at the United Nations since 1949.

But it was meeting the rural women of India that had most impact, Rural Women NZ national president, Liz Evans, said.

“The women, many of whom worked in the rice paddies, were so hospitable and so keen to tell us about their everyday lives, their aspirations and family ambitions. None of them had many financial resources, but, through project based aid organisations like ACWW, they were able to demonstrate their successes – especially around establishing small businesses.”

At the conference, which was attended by about 500 women from around the world, Rural Women NZ’s resolution calling for “well trained and resourced quality maternity services and best outcomes for mother and baby, giving particular regard to the special needs and isolation of rural women” was adopted unanimously.

Other adopted resolutions included a call to ban the use of the “hazardous” chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used in many plastic products; the need for governments to record the births of all children to ensure they are recognised as citizens, and a call to stop the practice of female genital mutilation, female circumcision and cutting, which endangers the health and lives of young girls.

Members are expected to take these adopted resolutions back to their home countries and advocate for their governments to action them.

‘Grow locally, benefit globally’ was the theme of the women in agriculture workshop, where some speakers expressed concern at the large increase in heart disease, diabetes and obesity as a result of changing diets. What to do with the growing volumes of food waste was also a hot topic.

ACWW has been leading on water issues for many years, funding and supporting water storage and purifying projects in many countries.

Recognising the importance of education to help raise families out of poverty, Rural Women NZ members gave $1000 worth of books to local Indian school children, with funds raised earlier in the year at our ‘Women Walk the World’ events. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

October 10, 2013

TPP a matter of when not if says farming leader:

Having returned from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Federated Farmers believes the logic for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is so strong and its advantages so apparent, that the absence of President Obama from negotiations will not unduly dent its progress.

“The talk at the WTO in Geneva was when the TPP will happen and not if,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President, who attended the WTO’s 2013 Public Forum where he co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s new trade policy.

“Naturally, there was much talk about the United States Government shutdown and what that may mean if a default does take place in just nine-day’s time.

“I sense the Obama Administration is frustrated that domestic political brinkmanship means the President had to stay in Washington. The focus of his administration is building the U.S. economy by exports and that’s the focus of both Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and TPP negotiations. I must say that U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, is a handy substitute. . .

Special agricultural trade envoy hails TPP progress:

New Zealand’s special agricultural trade envoy is hailing what he sees as the progress made at the latest Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks in Bali.

But Mike Petersen agrees with the prime minister that the target of getting an agreement by the the end of the year is still going to be hard work.

John Key chaired Tuesday’s TPP meeting in the absence of the American president, says there’s plenty of political momentum among the 12 countries to get a deal.

The Agricultural Trade envoy, Hawke’s Bay farmer Mike Petersen, says getting trade reforms for agriculture was always going to be challenging, because it will take a political will in countries where there are still high levels of subsidy and tariff protection. . .

First registration of a sustainable agrichemical for the SFF minor crops project:

A new sustainable agrichemical that controls the leafroller pest on New Zealand’s blueberry crops is the first of many registered products to be released as part of the Government lead Sustainable Farming Fund.

The Minor Crops project team coordinated by Horticulture NZ announced the recent release of the insecticide ‘Prodigy™’ Trademark of the Dow Chemical Company (Dow) or an affiliated company of Dow for use on blueberries.

This is the first product to be registered as a result of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) project ‘Registration of sustainable agrichemicals for minor crops’. . .

Mental health courses for rural professionals:

The Nelson and Marlborough Public Health Service, in association with Federated Farmers, Like Minds and Rural Support Trust are hosting a seminar to help participants recognise the signs of depression.

“We are targeting rural professionals that work with farmers, so they are able to identify if a farmer is stressed, anxious, angry or sad, which are all sign signs of depression. This way they will be better placed to know how to help the farmer in question,” says Gavin O’Donnell, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“Rural professionals such as rural bankers, vets, contractors and so on are far more likely to be in a position to identify if there is a problem because they encounter farmers more frequently and in their natural environment. . .

Rural Women NZ Leads on International Year of Family Farming 2014:

Rural Women New Zealand is excited to play a key role in organising a programme of events to celebrate the UN International Year of Family Farming in 2014.

As a member of the steering committee that will liaise directly with the UN, Rural Women NZ has hosted the first meeting in Wellington to start the planning process.

Convened by Organic Systems and Adams Harman, others taking part in the meeting included DairyNZ, Horticulture New Zealand, the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association, Young Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Family farming has been the backbone of New Zealand’s rural economy for more than a century, and Rural Women New Zealand has led advocacy and growth for farming families and rural communities since 1925,” says Rural Women NZ’s national president, Liz Evans. . .

NZB Caulfield Championship Finale:

The New Zealand Bloodstock Spring WFA Championship at Caulfield is set to conclude this weekend with the running of the Group 1 A$400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes over 2000m.

With (It’s a) Dundeel (NZ) now out of contention, the Championship winner is a forgone conclusion with Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock) holding an unassailable lead having won Race 2 in the Championship Series – the New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes – and placing second in the Group 1 Underwood.

The champion mare may have scared many away with Saturday’s feature race only attracting a small field of six runners, but it carries plenty of quality with the field winning a total of eight Group 1 races between them. . .


Rural round-up

September 6, 2013

Record number of Rural Women members step up as candidates in local elections 2013:

A record number of Rural Women NZ members are standing in this year’s local elections, motivated by the need for better understanding by councils and District Health Boards of the challenges facing rural communities.

At least 14 Rural Women NZ members are standing around the country, with three already certain of their seats, being unopposed.

Rural rates are a hot issue, particularly the disproportionate share of rates being shouldered by farmers, which is a top priority for many.

Sharyn Price, a Kauru Hill Rural Women member standing for the Corriedale Ward of Waitaki District Council, says, “Rates fairness and value for money are utterly essential. Rural ratepayers have seen much larger percentage increases in rates than council’s averages, thanks to farm development increasing capital values, while town values fail to keep pace. Paying ever more for a shrinking share of services is not reasonable.” . .

$25m invested in new forestry technologies:

The Government is investing $2.5 million over a maximum of five years to support research that will increase the productivity of the forestry industry, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

The funding will support the development of new technologies that can be used by pine tree breeders to reduce the time it takes to breed and plant new improved trees by 15 years.

The Radiata Pine Breeding Company, which has formed a partnership between 16 forestry organisations, Scion and the University of Canterbury, is researching and developing the new technologies. . .

RMA reform bill third reading ‘a reform entrée’:

 Federated Farmers is welcoming some parts of the Resource Management Reform Bill 2012, which recently passed its third reading in the Parliament. 

 “While some parts of the Bill relate to Auckland, other parts are an economic and environmental appetizer for farmers,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment Spokesperson.

 “There are some aspects we welcome, some we have reservations about and some we do not think go far enough.

 “A few environmental activists have irrationally fought tooth and nail against having a robust cost benefit analysis in the RMA.  Without one, however, the RMA was increasingly trending towards perfection as a benchmark and that is as unaffordable as it is unobtainable. . .

Hoorah for Rotorua lake water quality!:

Federated Farmers applauds a recent Bay of Plenty Regional Council report showing water quality improvement in the Rotorua Lakes catchment has improved significantly.

“This gives a good, accurate illustration on the state of water quality within Rotorua Lakes,” says Neil Heather, past provincial president Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo.

“It highlights all the good work done through collaborative partnerships with landowners and the community undertaken to improve the lakes’ water quality. Federated Farmers supports the regional council’s use of the Trophic Level Index (TLI), which has undoubtedly led to an overall increase in water quality of the lakes catchment.

“A major impact on these results was the decision to apply alum dosing, which is key for algal growth meaning there are now less favourable conditions for weed growth and algal blooms. . .

New Zealand Young Farmers Appoints New CEO, Terry Copeland:

New Zealand Young Farmers is pleased to announce the appointment of the new CEO, Terry Copeland. After twelve years of service to NZYF as CEO, Richard Fitzgerald is stepping down.

Mr Copeland, comes to Young Farmers with an arsenal of experience from management, sales and marketing and supply chain management to tertiary teaching, journalism and being a brand ambassador.

His latest post was with Treasury Wine Estates, the second largest wine company globally. He led the export strategy and the supply chain team for four years. . .

MPI To Work with Farmers On Blackgrass Biosecurity Response:

Federated Farmers is working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and other stakeholders to ensure that blackgrass is not established in New Zealand, following the news of a potential blackgrass incursion in mid-Canterbury.

“The seed was spilt between Ashburton and a seed dressing plant in the Methven area and is a serious threat to arable farming in New Zealand,” says David Clark, Federated Farmers mid-Canterbury Grains Chairperson.

“We have just one chance to get this right and we commend MPI for identifying and informing us of this restricted weeds presence.

“Federated Farmers is firmly committed to working collaboratively with MPI and the Foundation of Arable Research to mount a credible response. . .

Synlait joins the ‘Good News Club’

Federated Farmers is thrilled that Synlait has increased their forecast milk price of $8 per kilogram of milk solids.

“Synlait has joined the ‘Good News Club’ at a time when dairy farmers needed some reassurance in the strength of the market,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“It has been a tumultuous time for the dairy industry this past month, but it is clear from Fonterra, Westland and Synlait that the demand for New Zealand milk is stronger than ever. . .

Wool Prices Continue to Rise:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the 9,400 bales of North Island wool on offer this week saw a 98 percent clearance and significant price lifts in some sectors compared to the last sale in the South Island on 29th August.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies lifted by 1.05 percent, however resurgence in wool prices in other markets coupled with limited supply locally, bypassed any currency impact with the market lifting between 3 and 10 percent.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears were 3 to 6 percent dearer. Good Style Coarse Full Fleece were 5 to 6 percent stronger with poorer styles lifting by 7 to 10 percent. . .

Rural Equities annual profit slides 31% on property revaluations, drought; lifts dividend:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group controlled by the Cushing family, reported a 31 percent drop in annual profit as property revaluations lagged behind those from a year earlier, and as the North Island’s worst drought in seven years ate into operating earnings.

Net profit fell to $10.9 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $15.8 million a year earlier, the Hastings-based company said in a statement. Profit included a gain in the 27-farm property portfolio of $4.9 million, smaller than the $14.3 million revaluation in 2012. Operating earnings declined to $2.1 million from $2.9 million as the drought increased the cost of feed, and the farms received lower prices for milk, sheep and wool. . .

 Eastpack Celebrates 30 Years of Packing Kiwifruit:

Leading kiwifruit post harvest supplier, EastPack has celebrated 30 seasons of packing kiwifruit. EastPack, which began in Edgecumbe and was originally called Rangitaiki Fruitpackers Co-operative, is now New Zealand’s largest post harvest kiwifruit operator, following its merger earlier this year with Satara.

Chief Executive Tony Hawken has led the company through 30 years of continuous growth.

“From day one, we have always had, and continue to have, a reputation for looking after our growers no matter how challenging the circumstances,” Mr Hawken said.

“As a grower-owned company, EastPack growers share in the company’s financial success. We consistently deliver industry-leading orchard gate returns (OGR) through our operational efficiencies, inventory management and our grower-owned structure.” . . .

Sacred Hill scores high in Gimblett Gravels Vintage Selection:

Hawkes Bay’s Gimblett Gravels has selected its top wines from an outstanding 2011 line up and Sacred Hill Vineyards is the only producer to have two wines make the grade in the prestigious Annual Vintage Selection (AVS), recording the highest scoring wines in two categories.

The selection of wines from the 2011 vintage was made this week following a tasting by one of the world’s most highly respected Masters of Wine, Andrew Caillard of Australia.

Gimblett Gravels producers were allowed to put forward no more than three wines each for the tasting with a maximum of two from any winery eligible for the final selection of 12 wines. Only wines scoring 93 points out of 100 or more were selected. . .


All about balance

July 9, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . . Policy wise we are fully engaged.

Organisations from government to private businesses want us on board. They want to know our views and have our input. We are an advocacy body which is keen to engage positively and constructively. We want outcomes that are good for farming, good for the environment and good for our country.

This does not mean acquiescence. The massive investment we are putting into regional and district planning is all about balancing the social, the cultural, the environmental and the economic. This is vital not just for our industries but for all New Zealanders. . .

This is an extract from Federated Farmers’ president Bruce Wills’ speech to Feds’ annual conference.

He  also said membership is up – and it should be.

Feds and Rural Women NZ both do very valuable work in advocacy and support for farming people and the wider rural community.

This role is even more important now the imbalance between rural and urban populations is big and growing.


Either way it’s 20 k

June 16, 2013

On my way to town a couple of days ago I was following a car that was following a school bus.

The bus indicated to show it was pulling over. As it stopped the car behind it sped up and passed it.

I was tempted to follow the car but I remembered  either way it’s 20k – whether you’re following a school bus or passing it going the opposite direction it’s mandatory to slow to 20 kph.

It’s a rule many people are either unaware of or ignore, especially when they’re going in the opposite direction from the bus.

Rural Women NZ are doing their best to educate drivers and that’s what this picture is designed to do:


Enterprising rural women

April 10, 2013

Even in the 21st century, some women who fall for farmers have to choose between their careers and their men.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities outside town boundaries and there’s no better illustration of that than the 20 finalists in Rural Women New Zealand’s Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

MAKING IT IN RURAL ENTRANTS

Saskia Missaar
Aotea Embrace
Saskia’s business is based on the remote Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf.  With little local employment and just 852 people living on the island, Saskia began the business in 2009 making soaps, massage oils, calendula balm and lip balms.  She now also makes a range of body lotions, hand cream and face moisturizers, made with essential oils and home grown ingredients such as manuka honey, herbs, flowers, native plants and clay, giving her products the ‘Barrier’ touch.  Her market is the gift market and those with sensitive or dry skin and she keeps her prices affordable.  Starting the business was a real challenge with no banks on the island, limited water and limited transport to the mainland.

 

Angela Payne
Agri-Lab Co-Products Ltd
www.agri-lab.com

Angela’s business is based in Waipukurau, where she has become a successful exporter of animal products, achieving consistent growth even in the face of the world economic downturn.  The business specialises in supplying ingredients for the medical, pharmaceutical and dietary supplements markets, including placenta, glands, membranes, tendons, eyes, brains, blood products and glandular.  90% of the products are exported to countries such as Japan, USA, Korea, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.  Angela, who has taken the business from conception through to the internationally recognised company it is today, says her location is a significant competitive advantage in the export and pharmaceutical and biomaterial market, with NZ being a BSE free country, and having good access to freezing works, farms and essential services, as well as easy transport on SH2.

 

Lee Lamb
Lee Lamb Publishing

Facebook:  On the farm books

Lee’s business is based at Waikaia, Southland, where she is an author and illustrator of children’s picture books about NZ farming practices.  She lives with her husband and two young sons on a sheep and beef station and has to date written and illustrated four books in the ‘On the Farm’ series.  Keeping the stories true to life, they are educational as well as entertaining for children.  She was an entrant in the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards and the Storylines Book Awards.

 

Christina Perriam
Christina Perriam Fashion Design Ltd

www.christinaperriam.co.nz; www.surpinobambino.co.nz

Christina’s business is based at Tarras in Central Otago.  Her passion for merino wool and fashion has grown out of her upbringing on Bendigo Station, where she was influenced by her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and her mother’s love for merino.  As a qualified fashion designer, she took over her mother’s business in 2010, after her mother passed away and is focused on completing her mother’s dream and vision of making the small village a ‘must visit’ destination.  Christina Perriam manufactures and retails affordable luxury merino wool products that are proudly NZ made, targeting the woman, baby and child market.  The designs are aimed at 30-70 year old discerning women and have a classical and elegant element.  The emphasis is on sustainability, quality and affordable luxury.  The range includes clothing, accessories, sleepwear and home wears.  Suprino Bambino is Christina’s new child and baby clothing range, which is making a big splash and increasing sales month on month.

 

Jules Smith
WashBar Limited

www.washbar.co.nz

WashBar is based in Whangarei, and specialises in NZ made natural pet care products.  Jules targets the equine and canine market, producing animal coat care products.  The products evolved from a soap making hobby, when dog lovers approached Jules to make soaps for dogs with skin problems.  Allergies in dogs primarily manifest as itchy skin, and Jules’ market research revealed a market opportunity, which led to producing her specialist soaps in commercial volumes.  She now focuses on wholesale supplies to pet stores and vets and has continued to expand the range of products.  She now has 349 retailers across NZ and is exporting to Australia.  From dog soap, Jules has gone on to develop horse soap and natural flea repellent for dogs.  She recently developed a range of spritzers for dogs to freshen their coats, producing what she believes to be the first 100% natural, alcohol-free spritzer commercially available.

 

Jan Shoemark
Bell Cottage Crafts Limited

www.janshoemarkglassartist.co.nz

Jan Shoemark  is a glass artist based in Waitoa, Waikato.  Her work is all exclusive, and is characterised by her distinctive style of cutting glass, shaping it as desired.  She produces a wide range of products from memorial stones to plaques and signs, giftware and artwork.  She has won a bronze award at the Auckland Ellerslie flower show and best site at the National Fieldays.  Working with rural themes, all the timber and glass she uses is recycled.

 

LOVE OF THE LAND

Heather Wilkins
The Vege Shed

www.atholvalleymeats.co.nz

Heather Wilkins’ fresh produce and gourmet foods business is based on the family farm in Athol in Southland, where a 100 year old disused woolshed was converted first into The Vege Shed, and then selling Athol Valley lamb and venison sourced from the farm.  Athol Valley Meat is couriered throughout NZ into restaurants and this year the company was placed fourth in the NZ Beef+Lamb Golden Glammies in the retail sector.  The Vege Shed is on SH6 in Athol, an hour south of Queenstown en route for Milford Sound.  The vintage shop frontage has been maintained as an authentic 100 year old woolshed.  Heather’s aim is to give customers the chance to step back in time and slow down, enjoying genuine Kiwi hospitality, the opportunity to try NZ lamb and venison, local produce, preserves, sauces and gifts.

 

Diana Baird
Fairview Enterprises Ltd

www.dianasfruit.co.nz
www.kvw.co.nz

Diversity is the key to Diana Baird’s business Fairview, based in the Kawhatau Valley in the Rangitikei, where she and her husband run a sheep and beef farm, orchard, farm forestry and cereal cropping operation.  Summer fruit production includes traditional style peacharines, plums and quinces, (there is no other commercial fruit production for 100km). They also have a Drysdale sheep stud and promote and market specialist carpet wool.  The farm has two-tier forestry, with trees and grazing beneath, as well as multi-species forestry and amenity tree planting.  They have a walking route for private tours (Kawhatau Valley Walks), run on-farm research (current interests include bumble bees, Ume, succession and aquaculture), and are involved in Massey University case studies and tutoring.  They have previously been successful in the NZ Balance Farm Environment Horizons Awards.

 

Heidi Rosewarne
Blueberry Corner

www.blueberrycorner.co.nz

Heidi and her husband purchased a small blueberry orchard just outside Whakatane in 2002, knowing nothing of horticulture or blueberries, having previously been Taranaki livestock farmers.  It was a steep learning curve to develop a business from ‘honesty box’ roadside sales to the business that now supplies a range of blueberry products direct to the public, as well as internationally and domestically.  Each year new specialty blueberry lines are introduced, and now include james, relishes, juices, chocolate, soap, tea and blueberry honey.  Increasing to three growing properties, the retail business is now open for six months a year.  30 percent of the harvest is exported, 30 percent is sold on the domestic NZ market, and 40 percent is sold at the shop.

 

Diane Coleman
Treeline Native Nursery

www.treelinenursery.co.nz

Diane Coleman’s business is based 20km north of Rotorua in the small community of Kaharoa.  Treeline Native Nursery grows and supplies native trees, shrubs and grasses for revegetation and ornamental purposes.  Established in 1996, in its first 12 years of operation production grew from 10,000 trees to 300,000 trees produced and sold.  An essential part of the nursery production is seed collection, and eco-sourcing seed has become a major factor in customer requirements.  Diane travels through BoP and Waikato, contacting farmers for this task.  The nursery’s location at 419m above sea level ensures plants are hardy and relatively pest free. An interesting development over the last three years has been joining a bio-dynamic group and exploring planting by the moon, using an old Allied Farmers Co-op lunar calendar, which has streamlined the company’s propagation with surprisingly good results.  Plants are supplied in bulk to councils, farmers, landscapers, developers and the home gardener.

 

Stephanie Lynch
Sweetree Honey

www.sweetreehoney.co.nz

Stephanie Lynch’s business is based in Horsham Downs, near Hamilton.  The business involves every aspect of honey production, from caring for bees in 150 beehives, harvesting, packaging and direct selling at farmers markets, as well as through retail shops and the company website.  The bees have access to a wide range of flowering plants, and honeys from different areas are not blended with each other, meaning customers can choose a honey based on the location shown on the jar, such as Horsham Downs, Marokopa, Four Brothers Reserve and Hakarimata, with each having its own special characteristics.  The company also produces bee pollen.

 

HELP I NEED SOMEBODY

Lesley Armstrong-Jennings
Shopenzed.com

www.shopenzed.com

Lesley’s business is an online customer-driven Kiwiana gift store which has evolved since 2000 when she began supplying Kiwi goods to overseas customers on eBay.  Shopenzed.com is now one of the largest online retailers of New Zealand-inspired gifts and collectables.  The business caters for tens of thousands of customers worldwide, carrying over 3000 items, with more being added every week.  All purchases carry a 365 day money back guarantee.  The customers are often ex-pat Kiwis, or people who want to travel of live in New Zealand or who have holidayed here.  90 percent of orders are shipped overseas, with Australia a growing market.  Products include sheepskin boots, slippers, possum merino knitwear, NZ jewellery, rugby gear, souvenirs, books, cosmetics, food and more. Customer service is key to the business’ success, with ‘mad dashes’ to the nearest courier depot (a 50km round trip) to deliver a last minute order the norm.  Free gift wrapping in exquisite wrapping paper adds that special touch.

 


Lynne Johnston
Herd About Hair & Beauty

www.herdabouthairbeauty.co.nz

Lynne Johnston’s hair and beauty salon business is based at Riversdale in Southland.  It began in 2008 when she realised the need to diversify the family’s reliance on dairy share milking income after the downturn.  She first re-opened a hair salon in Riversdale that had ceased trading a year and a half earlier, growing the business to employ staff to work alongside her.  In response to the success of the hair salon she rented a second shop next door and employed a beauty therapist, offering a range of beauty treatments in addition to hair dressing.   Both the hair and beauty salons are now open six days a week.  In the meantime, Lynne has grown her own family, with a fourth child born in February 2011.  She is also still involved on the farm, rearing calves through the spring.  The success of Herd About Hair is based on offering rural people everything a city salon could offer, with exceptional service, with the mission statement ‘a little bit of luxury close to home’.

 

Jill Hollingum
Occsafe Services Ltd

Jill’s business is based near Picton, and involves workplace health and safety services, training and education.  She has put her background as a registered nurse to good use, and takes her occupational health services to the client base which has grown to almost 60 regular clients.  These include factories, vineyards, aquaculture, wood mills, engineering, construction sites and aviation.  She works with clients to help them build and maintain a healthy and safe work environment, to achieve legislative compliance, reduce employee down time, and cost effectiveness.  Services include health monitoring, such as workplace hearing tests, lung function tests, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and vision screening; pre-employment work fitness assessments; workplace drug and alcohol testing, rehabilitation programmes; ergonomic workstation office assessments; noise and hygiene surveys and pre-audits for ACC audits.

 

Stephanie Evans
Oasis Beauty NZ Ltd

www.oasisbeauty.co.nz

Stephanie’s business is based at Oxford in Canterbury, where over the last 14 years she has developed a range of products for sensitive skin and sun protection.  Beginning by making products in her own kitchen, they are now manufactured in a factory in Christchurch.  This financial year the business has grown by almost 60 percent, and employs four women from the rural community who help look after the office and customer orders.  Stephanie’s story shows how one enterprising rural woman with very few resources can build a successful business in a very competitive market and provide long term rewarding jobs for other rural women in the community.

 

Jan Harper
Bluespur Butchery and Deli

Jan’s business is based at Lawrence in Otago.  When the deli opened in 2009 it was a ‘dream come true’ for Jan, who’s been in the butchery trade since she left school.  Jan sells meat to the public, but the main focus is on processing meat for farmers and hungers.  Lambs, pigs and venison are butchered and made into sausages, saveloys, burgers etc.  A popular service is gourmet lamb, where Jan creates barbequed cuts, marinated kebabs, mint glased lamb cutlets and ‘legendary’ burgers.

 

 

STAY, PLAY, RURAL

Deborah Hambly
Astronomy Adventures

www.skydome.org.nz

Deborah runs her business from Baylys Beach, Northland where she takes people on tours of the night sky with NZ’s largest hands-on telescope open nightly to the public.  With a passion for astronomy, Deborah arrived in NZ in 2005 with a plan of offering astronomy facilities for tourists and astronomers.  Acquiring her first second-hand giant telescope and dome, she set up on her front lawn, and has since acquired five more telescopes and caters for groups of up to 40.  The Skydome Observatory was fully operational by early 2006.  The telescope to guest ratio is kept at no higher than 1 to 4, so visitors observe at leisure.  Added to this Deborah tells stories and adds fun facts, myths and legends to the experience.

 

Linda Morrison
Tairoa Lodge

www.tairoa-lodge.co.nz

Linda runs boutique accommodation company Tairoa Lodge, which includes a Victorian villa built in 1875 in Hawera, Taranaki.  She and husband Steve bought the old homestead on four acres in 2000, which has Historic Places Trust rating, but was in need of renovation.  Over four years they worked on the property creating three luxury guest rooms, each with private ensuite, and decorated with a mix of antiques and country-style furniture.  In 2003 they relocated Tairoa Cottage to the grounds to offer self-contained accommodation for guests, and in 2007 purchased an adjacent property, The Gatehouse, to cater for the corporate market.  To compliment the business the couple added a secluded retreat, Kingfisher Cottage, in a rural farm setting, to their portfolio.  Finally they purchased Tairoa Church Hall, previously the Gospel Church, with stained glass and matai floors, which is used as an exclusive venue for private functions.  Tairoa Lodge has Qualmark accreditation 4star plus, and Linda’s mission is to provide exceptional customer service.  The business has seen robust growth though Linda says it has been ‘hard won’ and they have had to respond to shifts in the market by offering different accommodation options.  The catering and functions business has grown strongly, based on its reputation and a very strong client focus.

 

Tina Masters
Pure Cruise

www.purecruise.co.nz

Tina’s business, Pure Cruise, operates with a vision to be the foremost sailing product in the central North Island.  It offers a superior sailing experience on Lake Rotoiti, with high end sailing charters on board the 53 foot catamaran Tiua (run with the wind) to travellers, corporate and other groups.

 

Kylie Stewart
Rangitikei Farmstay

www.rangitikeifarmstay.co.nz

Kylie’s business, Rangitikei Farmstay, offers accommodation for up to 19 guests and a range of activities on and off the 1560 acre sheep and beef farm at Pukawa, Lake Taupo.  Kylie and her husband Andrew moved on to the farm in 2005, surrounded by beautiful landscape and scattered, largely unused buildings filled with ‘treasures’ – saws, stencils, pack saddles, and a push mower to name a few, used by the Stewart family on the farm for the past three generations.  The couple began renovating the old buildings and first opened up a bunkhouse and farm museum.  They have since converted three other buildings and have developed their farmstay and catering business with farm tours, shearing and mustering demonstrations, horse riding, farm walks, clay bird shooting and hole in one golf.  They now have school groups, birthday parties, and overseas guests.  Continuing to develop, the couple are presently building a lake to begin water activities on the property.

The winners will be announced at Rural Women’s national conference in Christchurch on May 23rd.


Rural round-up

March 28, 2013

Strong contenders for Enterprising Rural Women Award 2013:

Twenty exciting and innovative businesses are in the line up for the Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2013.

The judges now face the challenging task of choosing finalists in the four entry categories: Love of the Land (sponsored by Agrisea Limited), Help I Need Somebody (sponsored by Telecom), Making it in Rural (sponsored by Fly Buys) and Stay, Play, Rural (sponsored by Access Homehealth Ltd).

These four category winners will go on to compete for the title of Supreme winner, Enterprising Rural Women Award 2013.

“This is the fifth year we’ve run the Enterprising Rural Women Awards,” says RWNZ National President, Liz Evans. “Each year it’s rewarding to see the diversity of businesses successfully run by women in rural areas and the significant inputs they make into the wider economy.

“Through these awards Rural Women NZ aims to celebrate their success and raise awareness of women’s entrepreneurship, which helps to grow dynamic rural communities.” . . .

Alliance boss is buoyant on prospects - Alan Williams:

Price falls have helped increase demand for lamb in world markets and this will help New Zealand processors avoid the big build-up in stocks that hurt them last year, Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff says.

The country’s biggest lamb exporter has cleared the high inventory levels from last year and is managing to move this season’s kill through the market despite higher processing tallies caused by the severe drought conditions. . .

 

 

Opportunity missed on goat meat exports - Rob Tipa:

ONE of the world’s leading judges of the South African Boer goat breed believes New Zealand has missed an opportunity to capitalise on huge worldwide demand for goat meat.

Celia Burnett-Smith, stud director of Australian Breeding Services and a partner in the Terraweena Boer Stud in Queensland, has judged Boer goats at livestock shows in South Africa, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand and has been invited to set up a classification system for the breed in England. . .

 

Managing our freshwater responses in a changing climate - Waiology:

While water management is challenging enough as it is, climate change makes it harder. No longer can we rely solely on experiences from the past to guide our actions, but we must also consider forecasts of the future. And with New Zealand’s water resources expected to change in the coming decades – well within resource management planning horizons – it would be prudent to start to adapt sooner than later. So how does climate change affect the ways water may be governed, and how are current governance systems placed to deal with climate change?  . . .

Celebrity Cook Takes Up The Fight For Kiwi Bees:

New Zealand’s famous Free Range Cook, Annabel Langbein, has become an ‘ambassador’ for New Zealand bees.

The cookbook author and television presenter has joined forces with the National Beekeepers Association to work on projects that help promote and protect our kiwi bees. She will work officially with the NBA to help spread the message that bees are vitally important and that they need our help to survive.

“My father kept bees as a hobby, so I grew up watching him tend the hives in our Wellington backyard. And as a free range cook who uses nature as my pantry I thoroughly appreciate the importance of bees and the hugely critical role they play in our everyday lives – not to mention the value they add to our economy through pollination.” . . .

And from Smile Project:


Rural crime and safety survey

March 25, 2013

Rural Women NZ has a survey on rural crime and safety:

Rural Women New Zealand has today launched a rural survey on crime and safety that is aimed at making rural communities safer places to live. 

 
“The online survey goes live today, and we are hoping for a wide response from all sectors of the rural community,” says Rural Women NZ executive officer, Noeline Holt. 
 
“You may have already taken part in a recent survey around crime occurring on your farming properties. However, the focus of this survey is broader and we urge you to take part.”
 
We have worked with Crimestoppers and the Police to develop questions that cover a range of issues including theft, drink driving and speeding as well as violence to people or animals.” 
 
“The survey will help us understand how people feel about crime and safety ,” Ms Holt said. The survey also seeks people’s views on police responsiveness and involvement in rural communities. 
 
“Given the nature of small rural communities, we believe there are occasions when people are hesitant to contact the police, and for that reason we are promoting the work of Crimestoppers, where people are able to pass on information anonymously.” 
 
The survey is open for three weeks, then results will be analysed by an independent research company and the key findings will be used by Rural Women NZ to work with Crimestoppers and Police to make rural communities safer. 
 
“We strongly encourage people to take part in this survey. Participants are anonymous and it’s a good opportunity for people living in rural New Zealand to provide valuable feedback about these important issues.”

The survey is here.

When I first moved to the country we never locked doors or vehicles unless we were away overnight.

Nothing happened to make us change but for some years we have taken a more prudent approach and lock up at night and if we’re away during the day.

There are still some areas where not everyone feels the need for this precautionary approach to home security.

We had some Argentinean visitors with us last week when we called on friends. They weren’t at home but we tried the door, which was unlocked, and went in to use the loo.

Our visitors were amazed and we had to explain that this probably isn’t the norm here any more.

When we caught up with our friends yesterday we mentioned our visit and wondered if the door had been unlocked by mistake.

They said no and they weren’t even sure they could lay their hands on a key easily.

I hope their trust isn’t misplaced. It’s a good reflection on their community that they feel safe with doors unlocked whether they’re home or not.


Rural round-up

March 21, 2013

MPI investigates GM breach:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating how a genetically modified (GM) fungus came to be used outside approved containment facilities at Lincoln University’s campus.

All samples and plant materials known to contain the modified fungus have been secured. MPI is now checking if any other materials may have been inadvertently exposed to the fungus.

“Based on what we know at present, the potential biological risks from this discovery appear very low,” says Roger Smith, MPI Deputy Director General, Verification and Services. 

“At this stage, we believe it is unlikely any potentially genetically modified Beauveria bassiana fungus has spread further. The fungus in question was found indoors in glass houses and laboratories with restricted access,” says Mr Smith. . .

Grasmere water plan request declined – Tim Fulton:

Resource consent has been declined for a plan to irrigate a high-country station in central Canterbury, on the basis it would potentially have too much impact on landscape values and water quality.

The hearing commissioner said it was one of the most difficult, finely balanced decisions he had had to make.

P&E, run by Pete Morrison and Liz Nattrass, from Darfield, wanted permission from Environment Canterbury to divert, take and use water from Cass River to irrigate pasture for sheep and beef cattle. The 35-year consent would have required disturbance to the river-bed.

The land involved was on both sides of State Highway One, just east of Arthur’s Pass. P&E owns more than 550 hectares at Lake Grasmere. . .

Leadership skills programme an ‘eye-opener’ – Sally Rae:

When Amanda Hasselman returned home to Glenorchy after attending a leadership skills programme in Wellington, she admits her brain was ”fizzing”.

Mrs Hasselman, of Temple Peak Station, was among 16 rural women who attended the course run by Rural Women New Zealand.

During the three-day programme, the group heard presentations from leaders as diverse as Fish and Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson and former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast. . .

Tree lucerne planting should be widely encouraged – Alan Diak:

Present drought conditions are spreading and will remain with us for some time.

Short term, dairy production will suffer as will the welfare of cattle. Long term, sheep, beef and dairy production will be affected into next year.

There is little that can be done with this drought for animal welfare and production. However, let us look positively to the future.

I am of the opinion that the benefits of establishing tree lucerne as a fodder crop on farms to support livestock during stress periods because of feed shortages from whatever cause should be encouraged and supported by everyone. . .

A big call on imported pig meat:

With the Court of Appeal dismissing NZPork’s appeal over the Import Health Standard for imported pig meat, Federated Farmers believes this now leaves considerable uncertainty.

“We were not surprised at the outcome because the Court of Appeal case was limited to an examination of process and not science,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Food Production spokesperson.

“It seems inevitable raw pork will be imported from countries which have the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). . .

Waikato Times letter of the month – Quote Unquote:

The skinny: we’ve had a drought over the whole country because farmers use PKE as a stock-feed supplement, which causes climate change. And something about chocolate. I have passed this on to my wife’s colleagues at AgResearch in Ruakura as the connection probably hadn’t occurred to them.. .


Let’s not be petty

March 14, 2013

A reading often used at weddings concludes with the words, in marriage the little things are the big things.

This also applies to politics.

Petty issues become more important than major ones.

So it is with the suggestion that car parks provided for employers be subject to fringe benefit tax.

A tax system should be fair and there is no doubt that a free car park is a fringe benefit.

But would the costs, to the IRD and employers, justify the money raised?

I doubt it and  Finance Minister Bill English says that if compliance costs prove too onerous the Government may reconsider the proposal.

The government got rid of gift duty in its first term because the costs didn’t justify the revenue it brought in. It would be silly to impose other taxes where the benefit isn’t worth the cost in this term.

National has an ambitious Business Growth Agenda, it shouldn’t be sabotaged by petty taxes.

Rural Women NZ”s creed begins:

Keep us, O God, from pettiness;
Let us be large in thought, in word, and deed. . .

That’s good advice for governments too.


RWNZ “Feeling Rotten” survey

February 4, 2013

Rural Women New Zealand has launched a “Feeling Rotten” survey on the causes and effects of anxiety and depression in rural communities.

“In 2006 our “Feeling Rotten” survey revealed a high level of anxiety and depression in rural areas,” says Rural Women NZ executive officer, Noeline Holt. “Causes varied, but for women, post-natal depression was reported as a significant factor.”

“We’d like to know what’s changed in the six years since then, to help guide us in our advocacy role, and in providing practical help in rural communities.”

Rural Women NZ is working with agricultural-based organisations such as Federated Farmers and Dairy Women’s Network to find ways of combating depression following recently released figures from the Ministry of Health showing there are significantly more suicides per head of population in rural than in urban areas. . .

“We recently provided funding for extensive counselling services to rural families in Canterbury following the earthquakes, for example,” says Ms Holt.

She says most people have felt the blues or been pessimistic or unfulfilled at some point in their lives.

“These feelings may be driven initially by anxiety, particularly if we have no control over what is causing our anxiety. While it is normal to feel these emotions, if they continue for too long they may be signs of depression.”

Anyone who lives in a rural areas is invited to participate in the survey which is here.


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