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. . .


Case for FTAs

February 13, 2014

Trade Minister Tim Groser puts the case for Free Trade Agreements:

Over the last 30-40 years, NZ has suffered grievously, perhaps more than any other developed economy, from lack of trading opportunities. This is the consequence of massive protectionism and subsidies on the products where we are internationally competitive.

This was not an issue for NZ until 1973. That was the year when our dominant market, the UK, which had been completely open to us, joined the then EEC. From that date, protectionism became a huge constraint on our growth and incomes. I have no doubt this is one major reason why NZ was still the 6th richest country in the world in 1975 but then started to slip sideways in the last quarter of the 20th Century. As a consequence, Trade Policy has been a very large part of any sensible NZ economic policy over the past decades. And frankly, to anticipate what I am going to say, we did not need then (or need now) any econometric model to tell any responsible NZ Government that they needed to negotiate new trade agreements to provide our people with opportunities and space to compete.

A simple way of looking at it is that NZ tends to sell what we do best to middle income and high-middle income consumers. In the past, by and large, they lived only in Europe and North America and there we faced historically huge barriers and massive unfair subsidisation, until successful trade negotiations in the last GATT Round, the Uruguay Round, started to chip away at these trade barriers. But NZ is no longer totally dependent on what happens in Europe and North America and thus access to their middle class customers. Today, the middle class of Asia is emerging. It is estimated today around 500 million and as soon as 2030 will be some 3.5 billion. This is simply a phenomenal opportunity and what is driving NZ Trade Policy.

But economic opportunity is one thing. As an exporter you still need access to those consumers and this is about trade agreements.

To the New Zealanders present, I will put it bluntly. We will never persuade certain people who are trying continually to foment opposition to NZ’s participation in these agreements in spite of New Zealand’s demonstrable need for trade opportunities and a fairer deal in world trade. They have been opposed to the GATT and WTO. They opposed the NZ/Singapore FTA, the origin of both TPP and the AANZFTA Agreement which is merging the contiguous FTAs of Australia/NZ with the ten countries of ASEAN. Some of them opposed the recent deal with Taiwan and most of all – because it involves the United States – they are opposed to TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. When they wake up and realise there is another TPP-like negotiation going on – RCEP, or Regional Closer Economic Partnership Agreement which involves 16 countries including crucially China – I am sure they will be opposed to that too.

I am not going to talk about them directly, because they are not my concern. In fact, I can go further: I think they feel the same way about us – we are not their concern either. I don’t believe for a minute that either I, as Trade Minister, or the National-led Government of which I am a part, is their real audience. They are trying to influence other people, and other political constituencies. They are hoping that they would, if given the political opportunity, take NZ in a different direction on trade, when historically NZ has had a strong and highly successful bipartisan approach to trade for at least three decades.

It is not that we, and people with the same pro-trade views, have not thought closely about the issues. Start, not with models, which try to look forward, but with empirical work done on the link between open trade policies and growth, which looks backward to measure practical results.

The Gains from Trade: Empirical Work

The most comprehensive survey of hundreds of scholarly articles over the last decade or two was put together in 2011 in a collective study by the world’s pre-eminent international economic institutions – the OECD, the World Bank, the WTO, the ILO, UNCTAD. It was called ‘Policy Priorities for International Trade and Jobs’.

I only have time to give you their overall conclusion. Their conclusion is dripping in irony, which is rare for such organisations:

“Despite all the debate about whether openness [on trade] contributes to growth, if the issue were truly one warranting nothing but agnosticism, we should expect at least some of the estimates to be negative…The uniformly positive estimates suggest that the relevant terms of the debate by now should be about the size of the positive influence of openness on growth….rather than about whether increased levels of trade relative to GDP have a positive effect on productivity and growth”.
Even that will not stop some outlier academic coming out with a different view. But such views are extreme views. The overwhelming majority of economists support open trade policies. As the OECD caustically said, the debate should be only about the size of the positive gains from trade. . .

This is a relatively small extract from a long speech which concludes:

. . . Trade is vital to jobs, to a growing economy that can provide New Zealanders with a range of good choices. NZ is a country which has suffered grievously from the sovereign right of other countries to cut us out of their markets, to subsidise relentlessly their companies and competitive sectors not just in their domestic markets but in other markets through export subsidies, and to refuse to recognise our technical or quarantine standards as legitimate for sale to their consumers.

Protectionism has been a disaster for NZ over the past 30-40 years. Thanks in part to these pretty well designed trade agreements I am very optimistic about this country’s long term future. We are in a much better space today and I see every reason to believe it will get better still.

Tariffs and other protectionist measures restrict choice, add costs for consumers and taxpayers, reward inefficiency and encourage corruption.

Free trade is fair trade and without it New Zealand’s economy would be stuffed.


No exceptions for tariffs under TPP

January 31, 2014

The Trans Pacific Partnership must eliminate all tariffs on agricultural and seafood products:

A coalition of 18 New Zealand agricultural and food organisations, led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Fonterra Cooperative Group, has written to the Ministers of Trade and Primary Industries outlining its concern that some TPP members are seeking to avoid tariff elimination on some products.

The letter sets out to Ministers Tim Groser and Nathan Guy that the coalition will not support a TPP agreement that does not include comprehensive liberalisation in the agricultural and seafood sectors by all participating countries.

The group says it is vital that the agreement provides comprehensive tariff elimination as set out in the objectives of the 2011 TPP Leaders meeting in Honolulu. The group is concerned that:

  • If any one country is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unravelling of the agreement.
  • Allowing any one country to claim an exception for “sensitive” products sets a dangerous precedent for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region seeking to join the TPP Agreement at a future date.

A Ministerial meeting to discuss TPP issues is expected to be held in late February 2014.

A little exception for some tariffs would be like being a little bit pregnant – it wouldn’t stop there.

Tariffs protect the inefficient at the cost of better producers .

They also add costs for consumers who pay more and have less choice.

An immediate end to all tariffs might be unrealistic but the TPP must ensure that is the goal that must be reached sooner rather than later.


Welcome progress on TPP

December 15, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the significant progress made during the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial meetings in Singapore.

“I am pleased to report that we have substantially advanced the negotiation here in Singapore.  My colleagues and I were able to make good progress across the negotiating agenda, keeping true to the objectives Leaders have set for the negotiation.  In many areas we have identified potential landing zones that will guide the final phase of work.”

While more work remains to be done, Mr Groser said that momentum is accelerating in the negotiation and he was confident that conclusion of a comprehensive, high quality, 21st century agreement was in sight. 

“However, we will not short change ourselves.  We will take as long as needed to achieve a deal that eliminates trade barriers for New Zealand exporters and can advance our vision of regional economic integration in the Asia Pacific.  The gains a high quality TPP would generate for the New Zealand economy demand we get this right.”

TPP Ministers and negotiators have agreed to next meet in January.

Business organisations in New Zealand have reacted positively to the announcement of substantive progress.

“If it takes longer for TPP to be concluded so be it,” said Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director of the both the NZ International Business Forum and NZ US Council.

“Trade Minister Tim Groser and his officials deserve congratulations for their perseverance in continuing what we know is a challenging negotiation.”

Mr Jacobi said New Zealand businesses wanted to see a high quality, substantive and comprehensive outcome to TPP.

“It’s positive that Ministers have been able to identify what they call “landing zones” in the majority of areas under negotiation. To land TPP clearly requires additional work. We should continue to do all we can to support the achievement of a TPP that meets New Zealand’s interests and makes a strong contribution to growth and jobs.”

Former Labour leader and former Trade Minister Phil Goff says New Zealand would be a winner with the TPP.

New Zealand would benefit more than most countries from a concluded Trans Pacific Partnership deal, former Labour trade minister Phil Goff told the Herald last night.

“We have the least barriers and therefore we have the least we have to give away,” he said. “Other countries have to give away much more.

“While there are all sorts of problems involved in this negotiation, you have to look at the wider picture and the wider picture is that each country will benefit from a successful conclusion to it but New Zealand will benefit more than most.” . . .

This view isn’t shared by all his colleagues nor by potential coalition partners the Green and Mana Parties.

It’s a pity opponents to the deal can’t see past their ideology to the benefits free trade brings to producers and consumers.

The only losers will be the favoured few businesses which benefit from lack of competition and the bureaucrats and politicians who gain power, and money, from tariffs and subsidies.


Subsidies bad for environment

December 8, 2013

New Zealand is calling for action on fisheries subsidies.

Trade Minister Tim Groser has led a call at the WTO’s 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali for urgent action to protect global fish stocks. New Zealand has been coordinating a group of countries that includes Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, Pakistan, Peru and the United States.

The purpose of the meeting, which included a wider range of Government representatives, international media and international environmental NGOs, was to issue a joint statement drawing political attention to how subsidies contribute to the destruction of wild fisheries and to reiterate the group’s commitment to negotiate ambitious and effective disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

In presenting the statement today on behalf of the group, Mr Groser emphasized that that over 85% of the world’s fish stocks were fully exploited, over exploited, depleted or in recovery.

“The depletion of the world’s fish stocks is the clearest example today of what is called ‘the tragedy of the global commons’. Obviously, no country individually seeks the destruction of the wild fisheries of the world, but this is exactly the danger facing certain critical fish stocks in parts of the world unless there is more effective international cooperation to deal with the problem.

“We need action on a variety of fronts, but reduction of harmful subsidies which contribute to over-fishing is a central part of any solution,” Mr Groser said.

“This is a trade issue – fish products are one of the most highly traded commodities in world trade, and subsidies contribute to distorting this trade – but it is about far more than just trade. This is a pressing issue for the entire international community due to its environmental, economic and development consequences.”

“As a development issue, it is of particular importance to developing countries in the Pacific – the source of about half the global wild catch. Fish is part of these countries’ food security. Beyond that, it is also one of their great economic assets, offering Pacific countries significant economic development opportunities.”

The scale of subsidization is huge – around US $25-30 billion per annum.

“The countries which have signed this statement represent a diverse group of developing and developed countries. We have come together to reaffirm the pledge we made within the UN Rio+20 conference in 2012 to not introduce or increase harmful fisheries subsidies, and we will work within the WTO and other fora to improve fisheries subsidies reform and transparency.”

It’s not hard to explain the economic perils of subsidies.

This illustrates the environmental harm they can do too.


Rural round-up

December 4, 2013

Govt stepping up on forestry safety:

The Government has stepped up its efforts to improve forestry safety and Labour Minister Simon Bridges is calling on those in the industry to do the same. 

“The Government is committed to implementing the major step change in workplace health and safety that we need to see in New Zealand, which will help bring down fatalities and serious injuries in the forestry sector,” Mr Bridges says. 

“WorkSafe NZ, the new Crown agency dedicated to workplace health and safety, will go live on 16 December.  It has a very clear mandate to bring down the death and injury toll – by 25 per cent by 2020 – in our workplaces.  The Government has allocated an additional $30 million to WorkSafe to strengthen education and enforcement. . .

The science behind white clover decline - Doug Edmeades:

I’m hearing a cacophony of denial out there in farm-land. I am not talking about the local sports teams or politicians. I am referring to my pet hobby-horse – white clover.

We give ourselves so many reasons to justify why white clover no longer thrives on our farms like it did back in Dad’s day – it must be the dreary droughts, or the fickle flea, the evil weevil, miss’s management or mister drug, fertiliser N. The list goes on.

I have no doubt that these events, practices and insects have some effect – sometimes all of them – but I’m not willing to concede that we should take an early shower, pack the kit and retire to our clover-less farms. . .

Minister welcomes resumption of trade negotiations with Korea:

Trade Minister Tim Groser welcomed Korea’s decision to resume formal negotiations toward a free trade agreement, following a meeting today in Bali with his Korean counterpart, Minister of Trade Yoon Sang-jick.

“The resumption of negotiations was discussed by Prime Minister John Key and Korean President Park Geun-hye during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Korea in July. I am pleased that their shared determination to conclude a free trade agreement has led to this point,” Mr Groser says.

“This is an important step. Korea is one of New Zealand’s biggest and most important trading partners.” . . .

Shareholders welcome Synlait Milk plans for growth:

Synlait Milk’s performance for the 2013 financial year and its plans for the future were welcomed at its Annual Meeting of Shareholders, held today in Christchurch.

Managing Director Dr John Penno said FY13 had been a good year.

“The IPO was successful and we are very pleased to welcome all new shareholders. During the year product volumes and margins continued to grow. This helped the business deliver on its forecast which was a significant improvement over performance for the previous financial year.” . .

New pesticide approved for use:

The Environmental Protection Authority has approved an application for a new pesticide to control sucking insects including aphids and greenhouse whitefly.

Dow Agro Sciences Limited applied to import and manufacture GF-2032, a pesticide containing the chemical sulfoxaflor, for use on a variety of commercial crops.

GF-2032 provides a more effective and less toxic means of pest control compared to some other pesticides currently available, such as organophosphates. . .

Agria repays $5 million loan, interest owed to Livestock Improvement:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement, the farmer-owned bull semen and dairy genetics company, said China’s Agria has made early repayment on the balance of a loan that allowed it to take control of PGG Wrightson.

LIC provided the loan as part of Agria’s $144 million partial takeover of Wrightson in 2011 and last year gave the Chinese company until March 2014 to repay the balance, extending an earlier deadline. The funding allowed Agria to take control of New Zealand’s biggest rural services company including its valuable portfolio of proprietary seeds. . .

The Sheep Deer and Cattle Report: Vote for your future meat Co-Op shareholders urged – Tony Chaston:

Lamb schedules continue to ease as the emphasis changes from chilled to frozen as processing volumes build, but prices are at least $10 a head better than last year and demand is good with low stocks on hand.

Pre Christmas weaning drafts are common and operators are keen to market all killable lambs while procurement premiums are still in place.

Demand for early cull ewes is strong at the saleyards with many yardings of good cutting animals averaging $90-$100 a head. . . .

 


Rural round-up

November 14, 2013

End in sight for TPP talks – Nigel Stirling:

Trade Minister Tim Groser says negotiators are on track for an end-of-year deadline to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks but whether it is met will depend on the leaders of the countries involved.

At last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Bali TPP leaders, including New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, exhorted negotiators from the dozen Pacific Rim countries involved to step up efforts for the deal to scrap trade and investment barriers.

Groser said NZ’s chief negotiator David Walker had been involved in an intense round of meetings since the Bali talks. . .

Record price in N Canty:

An irrigated 129ha North Canterbury farm has sold at auction for $6.7 million, or $52,300 a hectare, a record price for a North Canterbury dairy farm.

PGG Wrightson Christchurch agent Peter Crean said Gairloch, sold by his colleague Athol Earl, was converted to dairy in 1995 and has milked about 450 cows, with production peaking at 188,000kg milksolids last season.

“We have a strong board of motivated buyers at present with few local dairy properties of this calibre available, so it was no surprise that the sale achieved such a positive result,” Crean said.

Five bidders took part in the auction and the room was full of others including bankers, farm valuers and neighbours, he said. . .

Minister pays tribute to drought heroes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has paid tribute to Rural Support Trust members at a function in Parliament tonight, thanking them for their work during the drought earlier this year.

“This was the worst drought in 70 years and a very tough time for many rural communities.

“Rural Support Trusts worked tirelessly to lift farmer and community morale. I want to salute them for the work they did in sitting around the kitchen table with so many farmers, supporting them to find a way through.

“They opened doors to vital support service and helped people to make better decisions for themselves, their families and their livelihoods.

“Many farmers are staunch and reluctant to ask for help. Their farms can be geographically isolated, and the stress can affect the whole family. . .

Speech to the Global Food Safety Forum - Nathan Guy:

. . .I’m very pleased that the Global Food Safety Forum has chosen New Zealand as the location for its first such event outside China.  New Zealand is a fitting choice, given the strength of the relationship between our countries, the importance of China as a growing market for New Zealand’s high-quality food exports, and our well-deserved reputation for having a world-class food safety system.   

Today I want to emphasise the critical importance of food safety – for the environment that supports us all, the health of consumers, and the strength of our economy. In particular, I want to emphasise how critical it is that we all play our part in that system.

New Zealand is in the business of food. We produce, process, retail, import and export food. Agriculture, fisheries and forestry, are central to our economic wellbeing, contributing 12.7% of GDPand representingover 11.8% of employment.

Food exports account for 54 per cent of New Zealand’s total export value and our food and beverage exports go to around 200 markets. . . .

New Zealand’s fisheries performing well:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has now released its 2013 summaries of the Status of New Zealand’s Fisheries which confirms most New Zealand fisheries are performing well.

Highlights from the 2013 review show that:

Both stocks of hoki have now increased for seven consecutive years and both are now well within or above their management targets. As a result it has been possible to increase the quota from 90,000 tonnes to 150,000 metric tonnes

The recent discovery of a new aggregation of Chatham Rise orange roughy has led to a favourable revision of the status of this stock. . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry- Dr Jon Hauser:

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . . .

New CEO for Dairy Women:

The Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board has appointed Zelda de Villiers as its new chief executive.

De Villiers, managing director of DeLaval New Zealand, has more than 20 years’ experience in the international agricultural industry.

She has also worked for DeLaval International in Sweden and NZ, where she has been based since 2009.

Before joining DeLaval, she spent the first 10 years of her career in the agricultural finance and rural banking sector in South Africa. . .

Farm Open Day showcases transformation of sunshine into food:

One of Canterbury’s most productive and most visited farms will open its gates to the public of Christchurch on Saturday 23 November 2013, with its inaugural Farm Open Day.

The Farm Open Day to be held at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) from 1.30pm to 4.30pm will enable visitors to find out how grass becomes milk, milk gets to the supermarket and all the bits in between.

“Farming is the amazing transformation of sunshine, nutrients and water into food (and fibre)” says Dr Andrew West , Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University and Chairman of SIDDC (South Island Dairy Development Centre). “The Farm Open Day will showcase that transformation from sunshine, nutrients and water through plants, into animals and into our kitchens, dining rooms and cafés.” . . .

Getting school students to cherish our water:

With the summer break just around the corner, us Kiwis will be heading to the beaches, rivers and streams to relax, swim and have some fun. But all that depends on the quality of the water. Lincoln University’s extension programme, Waterwatch, is an interactive programme that involves school students monitoring the ‘health’ of their local rivers or streams.

According to the 6th biennial survey Peoples’ Perceptions of the State of the New Zealand Environment released in 2011, the most important environmental issue facing New Zealand is ‘water pollution and/or water’. So freshwater is an area of particular concern to New Zealanders.

Thanks to the support of The Canterbury Community Trust, Waterwatch is able to provide a fun, flexible and accessible programme of hands-on activities that encourage the sustainable management of, and responsibility for, our waterways. . .


NZ will win with TPP

October 14, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser said there was no need for concern about the content of the Trans Pacific Partnership:

“When this deal is done, I am certain that I and the Prime Minister will be able to come in from of New Zealanders and say: ‘this is virtually all upside’.”

“In relative terms, New Zealand will gain more than any country in TPP … the structure of these massive protective barriers that will come down will benefit New Zealand more than any country in this negotiation.” . . .

. . .  Mr Groser . . . said concerns about intellectual property and patents under the TPP had been “wildly exaggerated”.

He said the United States is the “most innovative country in the world” so their intellectual property law could hardly chill innovation.

New Zealanders would not be paying more for drugs as a result of TPP, Mr Groser said.

“I’ve said categorically Pharmac is not on the table.”

ANZCO Foods chair Sir Graeme Harrison said New Zealand has a lot more to gain from the TPP now Japan’s in the negotiations.

He said:

New Zealand could bring in $5 billion per year in our exports now Japan was involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), compared to $3.5 billion without Japan.

The increase in exports to Japan could mean a 2% gain in GDP, with many of the gains in the primary industries, he said. . .

He said Japan’s inclusion has made the TPP more worthwhile for the United States, which in turn will work in New Zealand’s favour.

“All of this comes together with two countries, the world’s first and third largest economy, both believing in a rules-based trading system, that are on our side, and we can have quite an influence in that process.”

Both were speaking on The Nation yesterday. You can watch the full interviews here.

New Zealand has a very small domestic market and we have one of the most open economies in the world.

We’ve already gone through the hard part of giving up protection and puts us ahead of most of the other countries which are negotiating the TPP.

We have a lot to gain and very little to lose from the successful completion of the TPP agreement.


Prevent, reverse and/or prepare?

September 30, 2013

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded there’s a 95% certainty climate change is human-induced.

There are several possible responses to that including work to prevent or reverse it, panic and/or preparing for it.

New Zealand contributes such a tiny amount to global emissions there’s little we can do to prevent or reverse it, but Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said we’re doing our bit:

. . . “New Zealand has been an active participant in the IPCC process. It is important that we contribute as addressing climate change demands collective action, and it keeps our scientists and officials up to date with the latest in climate science. This assists policy development and decision making at home.

As well as making an important contribution to the IPCC scientific process, New Zealand is playing its part to achieve fair and binding international rules around greenhouse gas emissions.

“New Zealand actively participates in international climate change negotiations and supports collective, collaborative action. We recently convened and hosted an informal dialogue to inject some fresh thinking into negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol, by the end of 2015.

“New Zealand is committed to doing our fair share without imposing excess costs on households and businesses, while the Government focuses on jobs and strengthening our recovery,” says Mr Groser.

“The Government recently made an unconditional commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to five per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and maintains a conditional commitment to a reduction target range of 10% to 20% below 1990 levels.

“We have implemented the Emissions Trading Scheme, we are making progress towards our 90% renewable electricity target, and have launched the Global Research Alliance, committing $45 million to research ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions.”

As well as playing our part in prevention and reversal we need to prepare for the consequences should the forecast effects eventuate.

One way to prepare for the increased heat and droughts which are predicted is irrigation some of which requires water storage.

Federated Farmers vice president William Rolleston has been calling for more water storage systems for some time.

He says the Opuha dam in Canterbury has proven to be effective in times of dry weather, and more opportunities for water storage around the country need to be sought.

Dr Rolleston says the discussion around a proposal by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to build the Ruataniwha dam needs to continue and the dam could be positive for the economy and the environment.

The Ruataniwha dam is controversial, because of concerns it could lead to an intensification of farming, with nutrient run-off potentially proving toxic for the Tukituki River and its fish species.

But Dr Rolleston says climate implications need to be considered.

He says farmers need to prepare, and water storage systems, like the Ruataniwha dam, could help mitigate extremes of climate.

Dr Rolleston says like the Opuha dam, the Ruataniwha dam could prove effective in times of dry weather.

While New Zealand has plenty of water, he says it’s not always in the right place at the right time.

“Certainly in South Canterbury we’ve had the Opuha dam for some years and it’s proven to be a real bonus for both the economy and the environment and we need to be aware that water storage can have a positive effect on both.”

Dr Rolleston says discussions about the Ruataniwha dam need to continue.

Ironically  the people who are most vociferous about climate change and adamant we must do something about it are often the ones who are most vehemently opposed to irrigation and the water storage which enables more of it.

They fail to see the benefits which aren’t just economic but environmental and social too.

Whether or not climate change eventuates as forecast, droughts have always been with us and will continue to occur.

Water storage can insure against that and should be pursued where at all possible, with the necessary safeguards to ensure that increasing the quantity of water available doesn’t compromise the quality.


Market recovery plan to help minnows

September 13, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy have outlined an initial market recovery plan following the reported potential contamination of Fonterra-produced whey protein concentrate.

“Minister Guy and I have been in close contact with the affected primary sector business throughout the past weeks. We all agree that a coordinated, all of Government response is needed,” says Mr Groser.

“New Zealand’s highest priority is to protect the safety of consumers. The Government will be working in close consultation with affected New Zealand companies to help rebuild trust with their in-market partners and customers.

“We need to restore full market access to those markets where restrictions have been put in place, re-establish confidence in the robustness of our food safety system, and reaffirm the positive image of New Zealand brands.”

A key component of the recovery plan will be an intense programme of targeted visits to key markets by Government Ministers as well as senior officials once essential technical issues are resolved.

“Our response needs to be fine-tuned and targeted to the particular needs of each key market. We already enjoy close relationships with overseas regulators at a technical level but where appropriate, Ministers themselves are prepared to engage to assist resolutions,” says Mr Guy.

“These visits will be complemented by incoming visits of overseas Ministers, regulators and media to demonstrate first-hand the robustness and professionalism of New Zealand’s regulatory framework and production processes.”

A dedicated New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Market Connections Fund of up to $2 million will also be established to support companies to contact existing customers and shore-up business relationships impacted by the whey protein concentrate issue.

“This fund is intended to help the smaller companies re-establish their position in China,” says Mr Groser.

“Face-to-face contact will be crucial to both Government and businesses. We can’t allow this incident to halt the growth of our food export industry, particularly our innovative small and medium size companies,” says Mr Guy.

The Government earlier announced plans to place more officials in overseas markets, particularly China. The recovery plan will be developed to take into account lessons learned from various investigations and inquiries.

Key actions from the plan are:

  • Intensify engagement with food safety authorities in a range of overseas markets, including a projected visit to China during September by the Acting Director General of MPI, to roll back restrictive measures and to restore normal trading conditions.
  • Use opportunities for Ministerial engagement to reinforce at high levels the messages conveyed through intensified engagement with food safety authorities.
  • Organise a programme of visits to New Zealand by Ministers, senior regulators and media from key overseas markets focused on improving knowledge of, and confidence in, New Zealand’s food regulatory systems.
  • Utilise existing regular official dialogues, such as those established under the NZ/China FTA, to explain how New Zealand’s regulatory systems work
  • Use forthcoming high level political events, including the East Asia Summit, APEC, and the WTO Ministerial Conference, to pursue dialogue with Ministers representing key markets.
  • Utilise, and potentially add to, cooperation agreements that are in place with key markets, including China.
  • Provide support from New Zealand government agencies offshore to New Zealand exporters to assist them in their meetings with overseas customers and commercial partners.
  • Progress longer-term measures to ensure that New Zealand government agencies and New Zealand’s overseas posts are resourced with staff trained to be able to promote New Zealand’s  reputation as a safe producer of food.
  • Establish a dedicated NZTE Market Connections Fund to support companies with market recovery, similar to the Christchurch Market Connections Fund.

Fonterra is a big fish in the international dairy market.

Its recall of potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate turned out to be a false alarm.

The incident has been expensive in terms of both finance and reputation but Fonterra is big enough to deal with that.

However, a lot of smaller companies were caught up in the wake of Fonterra’s problems through no fault of their own and these minnows are less able to cope with the cost to their business.

The government initiative to help restore New Zealand’s reputation for food safety will be a big help to them.


US ag lobbies back TPP

August 31, 2013

The fight for free trade has taken a leap forward:

The fight for open access for New Zealand farm exports into the United States has taken a big step forward, with key American agricultural lobbies giving their backing to a comprehensive Pacific Rim trade deal with no exclusions for agriculture.

Thirty-seven of the US’s peak agricultural and farming lobbies have written to their government pledging support for the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade talks, which aim to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade between 12 countries.

In a letter sent to new US Trade Representative Mike Froman and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, the industry groups gave their backing to US negotiators to pursue a comprehensive deal, with no exclusions for agriculture in any country involved in the talks.

“There must be no product or sector exclusions, including in agriculture. Exclusions would limit opportunities in each of the member countries to reach new markets, grow business and generate economic growth and jobs,” it said.

Importantly the letter was signed by the US Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Council.

Both groups have in the past been sceptical about the US joining the TPP and have highlighted the threat to American farmers from opening their domestic market to competition from NZ exports. . .

This is very good news.

Agriculture has been one of the major sticking points for US support of the TPP.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said the backing from the US dairy industry could be critical in getting a deal past American lawmakers that included agriculture and therefore was beneficial to NZ.

“The political game here is pretty obvious. The way Congress works is through these sorts of letters and people add up the number of lobbies for and add up the number against and that is the political process under way,” Groser said. . . 

Fonterra, with assistance from the NZ Government, is leading efforts to get industry groups in other TPP countries to send a similar letter to their governments.

Other countries in the talks include Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.

If all countries agree to cut tariffs to zero the benefits to the NZ economy have been estimated to be as high as $2.1b by 2025.

We have a lot to gain from the TPP but so do producers and consumers in other countries.

Trade protection ultimately benefits the few at the expense of many and the few it benefits are principally politicians who buy votes with it and bureaucrats who are employed because of it.

There is still a lot of work to be done but the support of the powerful US agricultural lobbies is a very big step towards the goal.


How do minnows manage Fonterra fallout?

August 30, 2013

Fonterra’s precautionary recall of products containing potentially contaminated whey concentrate protein has been proved to be just that – precautionary.

Exhaustive tests have found nothing to cause any concern about food safety.

That Fonterra raised a red flag, traced the product and recalled it is reassuring.

However, there are still questions over the way it handled the problem and its communications strategy, and the fallout isn’t confined to Fonterra.

Radio NZ reports that up to 20 infant formula exporters have lost up to $1 million each as a result of the botulism scare.

I know of four other companies which have also been caught in the fallout and there will be many more directly or indirectly affected.

Large companies will be better able to cope with any loss of business, but how do the minnows manage?

Those which had to recall product should be covered by insurance but others which weren’t directly affected but which have lost business won’t be.

In an address to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce this week, Trade Minister Tim Groser said:

. . . In the market place, some damage has been done, and we are not in clear and calm water yet. Some companies, particularly those without heavyweight balance sheets, are unquestionably feeling the pressure. The Government is very conscious of that and we are developing with the smaller commercial players – many of whom would be considered significant NZ companies but for the comparison with Fonterra, the only Fortune 500 company we have – a strategy to deal with their very real problems. There is a whole range of discussions underway – technical, political and commercial – addressing related but often quite distinct aspects of the problem, some of which (the administrative mistakes over meat certification to China for example) have absolutely nothing to do with food safety but which are part of the mix.

I have said on many an occasion that the least we can expect, metaphorically speaking, is a bloody nose. But frankly, while I know it will take a lot of further hard work and some re-calibration here and there, I am optimistic we will indeed recover from this and fully. As the Prime Minister has said, we have over 100 years of an unmatchable international record of putting high quality, safe food on the tables of families around the world. That did not disappear overnight. . .

Our reputation for high quality, safe food isn’t quite as shiny as it was but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Perhaps we were too complacent.

This scare has given the food industry a warning about the importance of high standards and good communication.

That will be good in the long run if it results in improved practices which ensure our reputation is based on the highest possible standards.


Fonterra caught by non-tariff barriers

August 14, 2013

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have banned products from most Fonterra plants .

Trade Minister Tim Groser’s office today confirmed the three former Soviet states had banned all Fonterra dairy products, despite none of the potentially affected product being shipped there.

Dairy exports in the three countries are worth $133 million a year.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said officials were working to rectify the ban.

“We’ve got our ambassador from Moscow working around the clock with Russian authorities to provide them with the information they are demanding,” he said. . .

Fonterra confirmed it sent none of the potentially affected why protein concentrate (WPC80) to these countries and no Fonterra products sent there used the affected WPC80 as an ingredient. . .

This is a non-tariff barrier.

It’s almost certain that Sri Lanka’s recall of Fonterra products is too.

Sri Lankan test results for agricultural chemical Dicyandiamide in Fonterra milk products were “off the charts” in comparison to other “extensive” testing according to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
 
Officials in Colombo have ordered a recall after they say DCD, a nitrate inhibitor used in fertiliser, was found in two batches of imported milk powder.

Fonterra disputes DCD traces were present in the product in Sri Lanka and says testing regimes are flawed. . .

This is disappointing when so much effort has been put into getting a toe-hold in these markets but non-tariff barriers can be just as difficult to combat as blatant protectionism.

 


How important is food safety?

August 5, 2013

Food safety is first and foremost a matter of health.

That is the first priority for Fonterra and the government as Trade Minister Tim Groser made very clear on Q&A yesterday:

Today our sole concern is on the health of infants and other users of these products, both our own and in the countries’ that we’re exporting to. So it’s not that we don’t think there’s some very important questions, but we’re focusing on the essential problem of today.
 
“We don’t want Fonterra worrying about their long-term reputation or risks right now. We want everybody focused on the health of the little babies.”

Once the health concerns have been dealt with attention can turn to what happened, how it happened, why it happened, how to make sure it doesn’t happen again and what to do if – as there will be one day – there is another food-safety problem.

This must be done thoroughly and quickly to restore trust not only in Fonterra but in all our food because while health is the first and most important concern, food safety is also an economic matter for New Zealand.

Just how important it is can be seen in the impact on the New Zealand dollar:

The kiwi fell to a month low of 76.99 US cents, and recently traded at 77.15 US cents from 78.31 cents at the New York close and 78.87 cents at the 5pm market close in Wellington on Friday. The trade-weighted index dropped to 73.71 from 75.16.

Lots of people have been wanting a lower dollar.

No-one who understands the importance of food safety and food exports would have wanted it to happen this way.


Why did it take so long?

August 4, 2013

The Ministry of Primary Industries is advising people to avoid Nutricia Karicare follow on formula products from 6 months.

The Ministry for Primary Industries today announced the details of one product in New Zealand potentially containing contaminated whey protein from Fonterra’s Hautapu manufacturing facility.

“Since we were informed by Fonterra yesterday afternoon that three batches of concentrated whey protein contain Clostridium botulinum, MPI has been working intensively to identify what, if any, products on the New Zealand market may be contaminated,” Acting Director General Scott Gallacher said.

“The batches of whey product have been on sold and mixed with other ingredients to form 870 tonnes of consumer products sold in a variety of markets. I am now publishing a statement under the Animal Products Act 1999 and Food Act 1981 identifying the following products in New Zealand:

  • Nutricia Karicare follow-on formula products for children from 6 months old.

“MPI has been advised that in the case of the Nutricia Karicare, five batches of follow-on formula were manufactured using the contaminated whey protein,” Mr Gallacher said.

“Nutricia has advised that three of those batches are in a warehouse in Auckland, one is on a ship, and the other is in storage in Australia. Nutricia has advised it has locked down those batches, and they will not be sold on the market.

“MPI is still in the process of verifying this information, and today sent a team to Nutricia’s Auckland warehouses” Mr Gallacher said.

“Until this process is completed, I advise parents and caregivers with infants consuming Nutricia Karicare follow on formula products from 6 months, to use infant formula for children aged 0-6 months, ready-made formulas or alternative brands.”

Mr Gallacher said the government had last night advised regulatory authorities in markets where affected product had gone.

“MPI and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are continuing to work with overseas regulators to provide information as it becomes available. Clearly, a number of markets are very concerned about this situation.”

MPI Acting Director General, Scott Gallacher, says he’s been informed that no batches of formula which may contain the contaminated whey are in New Zealand retail stores. MPI is still verifying where the batches are and he is taking a cautionary approach.

That is sensible.

The government is being similarly cautious.

Trade Minister Tim Groser has today confirmed New Zealand is working closely with our trading partners to keep them informed of the potential contamination of some products, including follow-on infant formula, made from whey protein concentrate contaminated with the bacteria that causes botulism.

 “As soon as New Zealand authorities were notified of this risk, we immediately acted to inform relevant authorities around the world,” says Mr Groser.

 “This has included formally notifying Infosan, the World Health Organisation’s international food safety regulators network. As more information on this issue is confirmed we will provide our trading partners with further updates.

 “We understand that the markets to which contaminated whey protein concentrate, or products using this ingredient, has been exported are Australia, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Viet Nam.

 “New Zealand authorities are working with Fonterra to identify and trace all potentially affected products and then inform regulators around the world,” says Mr Groser.

Fonterra says none of its branded products are affected.

That will be reassuring to people who use these products but of no comfort to companies which use ingredients which might have been contaminated, or to the people who consume products using these ingredients.

. . . The whey protein is used to make a range of products, including infant formula and sports drinks.

A dirty pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant has been blamed for the contamination.

The dirty pipe suggests a failure of process which has now been addressed.

But I’m still left with a question – why did it take so long to act on the risk?

Fonterra’s first media release and an email to shareholders said,  the affected batches were produced in May last year and the potential issue was identified in March this year,.

Shouldn’t there have been some action before now?

Even though there are hundreds of different strains of Clostridium, the majority of which are harmless, wouldn’t recalling such a small amount of product as a precaution have been better than waiting until the contamination was confirmed?


Opportunities to the east

June 29, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . .Don’t forget: the boundaries between trade in goods and trade in services are becoming increasingly porous. If you measure NZ exports of services conventionally, our services exports amount to around a quarter of our goods exports. If you use the new models being developed by the OECD working in close collaboration with the WTO – that is ‘Trade in Value Added’ – 46% of NZ exports are services exports. It is just that our services are incorporated in our exports of everything from milk powder to niche manufactured products. The trade policy implication is clear: you need liberal access to world priced and first world quality services to be competitive as an exporter of manufactured, agriculture or any goods. . . Trade Minister Tim Groser.

This is an extract from an address to the Latin American Business Council.

He began by saying there are some fundamental lessons to be derived from our long-term success in Asia that we can apply in Latin America.

He concluded by saying:

. . . The objective is, at least in my mind, clear: we want free trade with all Members of the Pacific Alliance. The precise means or pathways to achieve this are another matter. But clearly, having already been accepted as an ‘observer’, with TPP in a mature state of negotiation, with the existing FTA with Chile already in the bag, and our proposal for a separate bilateral FTA with Colombia, we are in exactly the right space as the Pacific Alliance strategy unfolds.

I think it is exciting and could become the next ‘new project’ for NZ trade policy strategy.

There are opportunities to our east as those countries develop and grow.

The key to unlocking them is free trade.


Rural round-up

June 27, 2013

New Agricultural Trade Envoy appointed:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced the appointment of Mike Petersen to the position of New Zealand Special Agriculture Trade Envoy (SATE).

The role is to advocate for New Zealand’s agriculture trade interests, from the perspective of a practising farmer.

“In the immediate term, Petersen’s priority will be to coordinate support among international farmer groups for a comprehensive outcome on agriculture in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations,” says Mr Groser.

“More broadly, he will be tasked with telling the story of New Zealand’s agriculture success in a post-subsidy world. New Zealand farmers are the least subsidised in all OECD member countries.”

Mike Petersen is a sheep and beef farmer from the Hawke’s Bay, and is currently serving as Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. He has held a variety of other governance roles in the primary sector. . . .

International Dam Expert Confident Hawke’s Bay Dam Site Ticks All the Boxes:

The man who could be leading one of New Zealand’s largest water storage projects has just inspected the Ruataniwha Dam site and given it the thumbs up.

Leading European Contractor, Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand’s largest privately owned construction company, have joined forces to bid for the design and construction phase of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Santiago Carmona is likely to be appointed construction manager if the OHL Hawkins bid is successful. He was among several experts from the OHL Hawkins team to inspect the site last week and says he’s very happy with the data he collected. . . .

Relief PKE animal part not foreign but systems needed:

Federated Farmers is relieved that DNA testing on an animal part found in Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) is now confirmed to be a local sheep. Originally suspected by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to be foreign, its discovery still shows the need for system improvements.

“Confirmation by DNA testing that the animal limb is local and a sheep is a huge relief for all farmers,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“Can we again stress that the Bay of Plenty dairy farmer who discovered the contaminant did the right thing in calling the Biosecurity hotline; 0800 80 99 66.

“If any one finds something untoward then calling the Biosecurity hotline is the correct response. An additional measure is to take photographs; almost all modern mobile telephones have in-built cameras. . .

Peak effort getting stock down – Stephen Jaquiery:

Ida Valley farmer Lochie Rutherford moves a sheep one sapping heave at a time, 1200m up Mt St Bathans yesterday. Trudging through the snow behind him is neighbour David Hutton.

The pair’s properties were not badly affected by last week’s snowfall and the two farmers have been helping rescue stock on nearby St Bathans Station.

Thick snow which blanketed inland Otago is thawing quickly on the flat but the race is still on to rescue stock trapped on the hill country. . .

Two new primary growth projects announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $6.88 million in Government funding for two new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes, which will deliver a major boost to productivity and environmental outcomes.

“A project led by the Whai Hua group will work to develop new probiotic dairy health products. This will help to add value to what we export by targeting high value niche markets. . .

Top 10 annoying cows to milk – Freddy Lawder On the Udder Side of the World:

Here is the list of the most frustrating, infuriating and unpleasant types of cows to milk. There is always at least one of each in the herd.

 
If you milk cows for a living, there is a good chance this will resonate with you!
 
10. ‘The Low Udder’
 
The Low Udder is as you might have predicted when the teats are particularly close to the floor. This is due to the cow being either very short or having a huge udder. It means there is not much room for the cluster and your hand when cupping on. The rubber pipes get kinked and stops the vacuum which prolongs the annoyance as your knuckles are scraped against the concrete.
 
9. ‘The Nervous Dancer’
 
The Nervous Dancer will not stand still whilst cupping on. She hops from one foot to the other, it is neither aggressive or likely to cause injury but it is incredibly irritating. It is if she is desperate for a wee and is trying to hold it in, or maybe she is just dancing to the music of The Rock FM.
 
8. ‘The Mud Grater’ 
 

The Mud Grater is often combined with the Nervous Dancer, and occurs when there is a load of dry mud on her legs. . .

(This is a post written by a young Englishman who spent last season working on a North Otago dairy farm. I’m working my way through all 59 posts, the first of which is here, and thoroughly enjoying his observations on dairying,  and sightseeing).

First Viognier for Clearview Estate takes out silver:

The first-ever Haumoana Viognier produced by Clearview Estate Winery has taken out a silver award at the Spiegelau International Wine Awards announced this week, while the Te Awanga winery’s star, its Reserve Chardonnay won another gold.

The 2012 Viognier is a special one-off limited release, while the Reserve Chardonnay adds to its consistent long pedigree of gold awards or five-star ratings; 50 in total since the first vintage won a gold award in 1991.
Clearview sourced grapes sourced from Black Bridge Vineyard on the gravel banks of the Tukituki River near Haumoana for the Viognier wine. Only 2000 bottles of the inaugural release were bottled last year. . .


Rural round-up

June 18, 2013

Address to New Zealand National Fieldays - Tim Groser:

This arresting phrase – ‘Agriculture: New Zealand’s Silicon Valley’ – is not mine. It is Sir Graeme Harrison’s and I can’t improve on it. Sir Graeme, you will recall, is the founder and Chairman of ANZCO Foods, one of New Zealand’s largest exporters.

I like the phrase for three complementary reasons:

· First, it conveys a real sense of optimism – and we have every reason in this country to be optimistic about our future in the first quarter of the 21st Century.

· Second, it captures the reality that agriculture will be as important to New Zealand’s future as it has been to our past.

· Third, it also captures a more subtle idea about our agriculture future. Yes – agriculture will continue to be the economic backbone of our country’s export future. But it will be a vastly more sophisticated agriculture with innovation at its centre. . .

Major New Zealand presence at the International Maritime Organisation:

New Zealand has stepped up its engagement with the International Maritime Organization, with the appointment this week of the Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith as New Zealand’s first Permanent Representative.

The Director of Maritime New Zealand, Keith Manch, also participated in the first-ever Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety, held at IMO headquarters in London.

Sir Lockwood, New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, presented his credentials to the IMO’s Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu, today (London time). . .

Winter shearing has payoffs – Jill Galloway:

Sheep might want their wool on their backs for the cold winter months, but farmers say they shear in winter to get heavier lambs and better wool.

However, many urban people see shorn sheep in the winter and are sure they must be feeling the cold.

Shearers have been working at David and Helen Worsfold’s farm near Kiwitea, in Manawatu. He said 700 of his ewes were being shorn with a “cover comb”. . .

Beekeepers Assn turns 100:

The National Beekeepers Association is 100 this year. And the centenary is being celebrated at the association’s annual conference in Ashburton this week.

The national president, Barry Foster, says the industry has had its ups and downs since regional groups of beekeepers formed the national body in 1913. . .

Farmer uses IRB to save stock – Thomas Mead:

A Dunedin farmer was forced to mount an aquatic rescue mission this afternoon to save a herd of cows stuck on his flooded farm.

In a change from the normal four-wheel-drive, farmer Chris Ryalls used an inflatable rescue boat to move around 20 heifers and their calves away from the deep water.

The nearby Taieri River hit record levels following torrential downpours in the region and left much of his Outram farm submerged. . .

Allan Scott Pinot Noir – The Perfect Dinner Guest This Winter

The table is set, the logs are on the fire and delicious, rustic aromas fill the air – so complete the scene and take your annual seasonal soirée to the next level with Allan Scott Pinot Noir, the ultimate dinner guest!

Boasting rich Marlborough dark cherry and raspberry notes with hints of wild herbs, Allan Scott The Hounds Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 offers a soft and well balanced palate with subtle oak influences – the perfect indulgence for elegant winter dining. . .

 


Grosser misses WTO job

April 26, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser is out of contention for the Director General of the World Trade Organisation.

Only two candidates, Mexico’s Herminio Blanco and Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo, remain in the running to replace outgoing Director General Pascal Lamy after two of three election rounds, Reuters reports.

Groser was well qualified for the position and a determined advocate for free trade.

He will continue to put his talents into working for New Zealand’s interests in trade.


Rural round-up

March 23, 2013

Forestry helps economy grow at fastest pace in three years – Paul McBeth:

The New Zealand economy grew at the fastest quarterly pace in three years in the tail end of last year as demand for forestry exports underpinned gains in the primary sector. The kiwi dollar climbed on the figures.

Gross domestic product grew 1.5 percent to $36.81 billion in the three months ended December 31, from a 0.2 percent pace in the September period, according to Statistics New Zealand.

That is almost twice the 0.8 percent pace of expansion predicted by the Reserve Bank in its latest forecasts published last week and the fastest pace since December 2009. . .

Dairy price rise not the breaking dawn:

Federated Farmers is warning against overstating the 14.8 percent rise in the latest GlobalDairyTrade online auction, saying the increase is driven solely by supply and demand.

“New Zealand’s drought needs to be taken with the one that the United States suffered and unexceptional production out of Europe,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“When you look at the global picture it is no wonder prices have spiked upwards. Westpac is forecasting New Zealand’s production may actually decline for the first time in years. The truth is that the supply of milk and global demand is finely balanced.

“This makes markets skitty and while any increase in international price is welcome, it is moot when you are yet to be fully paid-out for what you have produced. In the North Island many herds have either stopped production or are in the process of drying off early. . .

Local TBfree stalwart retires after three decades:

Well-known Helensville farmer John Glasson will retire from the TBfree Auckland Committee this month after 30 years at the forefront of the region’s mission to control bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Mr Glasson played an important role in reducing possum numbers and cattle and deer herd TB testing requirements in the South Kaipara Head area. “I recall my first experience with bovine TB in 1953 when 48 out of my father’s 100 cattle tested positive to the disease,” said Mr Glasson. These kinds of figures are unheard of today in the Auckland region.

His father’s encounter with the disease, and the experiences of others, prompted Mr Glasson to become involved with the TB control programme as a member of the Regional Animal Health Committee in the early 1980s. He recalls large numbers of possums that were passing the disease to farmed cattle and deer in the region. . .

East Coast still dry – 11mm not enough Fed head says – Kristen Paterson:

The huge low that spread across New Zealand days ago brought rain and relief to most areas of the country but the East Coast is still dry after a minimal fall.

The region is in the grips of what is a 70-year serious drought event, Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills told BusinessDesk.

“There’s a long way to go yet. All the rain did was give us some hope and a bit of a reprieve,” he says. But even after the rain it’s going to take two to three weeks to grow grass on the dry, parched paddocks. . .

Kiwifruit helps maintain muscles at optimum levels -

Researchers at the University of Otago, Christchurch, have found a daily vitamin C intake equivalent to eating two kiwifruit a day is required to ensure muscles maintain optimal levels.

Professor Margreet Vissers and her team at the Centre for Free Radical Research gave 54 males aged 18-35 either half a kiwifruit or two kiwifruit a day over a six-week period.

They then measured the vitamin C content in muscle and elsewhere in the body. . .

Lincoln University experts on tourism and water:

Potential water shortages and water stress will present a significant threat to the future growth and development of the tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region states a white paper on Tourism and Water released today in Singapore.

The international white paper was prepared by a leading research consortium supported by the EarthCheck Research Institute and EcoLab international a global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies.

Susanne Becken, Adjunct Professor at Lincoln University and Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University, together with Dr Raj Rajan, Vice-President of Global Sustainability for Ecolab, presented the findings of the white paper at the Singapore International Water Festival.  . .

World Wine Trade Group conclude Treaty Protocol on wine labelling:

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the new Treaty Protocol on Wine Labelling, agreed today by members of the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG).

In 2007, the WWTG negotiated a Treaty on Wine Labelling which set new standards in the field. The Protocol takes this further by requiring participant countries to allow the importation and sale of wine from other signatories, provided it meets minimum standards for labelling (relating to alcohol tolerance, variety, vintage and wine region), and the exporting country’s laws and regulations.

The key benefits of the Protocol for New Zealand producers are that, once in force, it should provide enhanced access to overseas markets, enhanced predictability about regulation in key markets; and will set a useful benchmark for WWTG observer countries and other non-members. . .

Waikato Times letter of the month: runner up – Quote Unquote:

Another drought-related letter, this time blaming gay marriage rather than PKE, as the winner did. From yesterday’s issue, 21 March:

God and the drought

I have a thought about the drought in this country, which affects our country at its grass roots.

Perhaps a contributing factor is the new marriage law proposed in Parliament. . .


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