Threats to NZ’s meat exports – Rob O’Neill:
No-one knows exactly how much New Zealand meat and produce is smuggled into China, but a recent crackdown on the “grey channel”, as it’s called, and the seizure of a US$10 million frozen meat cargo highlight not just a trade mystery, but potential threats to our meat exports.
On June 12, Chinese authorities descended on an inbound ship, seizing more than 1800 metric tons of frozen goods. Five crew members were put in detention by Shenzhen Customs.
The 60-container cargo was described as including beef, chicken wings and pork from the United States, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. . .
Sustainability possible –
Kirsty Kirsten Byrant:
Sustainability is a word that we hear bandied about on an ever-increasing basis. But what does it really mean?
To some people, it means all things environment. But, to me, sustainability encompasses more than just our physical surroundings. To be truly sustainable, there are four strands to be considered: the environment, economic, social and cultural factors all interact to determine sustainability.
Last month, I attended the grand final of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Nine farming operations from throughout New Zealand underwent a gruelling programme of judging, lined up against these four pillars of sustainability. The judging criteria covered the spectrum – from on-farm profitability and ethical staff management, through to community participation and demonstrating a commitment to ecological stewardship. . .
The crusade to encourage more farmers to adopt no-tillage techniques on their properties has been taken to Europe.
No-Tillage New Zealand was set up in 2000 to promote the direct-drill system developed in Manawatu by John Baker and is marketed by Bunnythorpe-based Baker No-Tillage. The factory is in Feilding.
Baker said the company held a bus tour, a “moving conference”, each year, visiting people with Cross-Slot, no-tillage equipment, and this year it was in Germany and France. . .
US drought rising food prices – Andrew Stern:
US corn and soybean crops, the world’s largest, are in the worst condition since the last major drought in America’s breadbasket in 1988, the government said on Monday, pushing up grain prices and raising the prospect of global food-price inflation.
Corn and soybean prices soared at the Chicago Board of Trade, based on forecasts that thirsty crops will get no relief for at least another week, although a record-shattering heatwave abated over the weekend in the eastern half of the country.
On Monday, the US Agriculture Department said its surveys showed only 40 percent of the corn and soybean crops were rated in good to excellent condition, the lowest rating at this stage of the season since the last severe US drought in 1988. . .
There’s something going on in the dairy farming pastures of New Zealand and a team of Waikato University scientists is determined to find out exactly what.
They know the amount of carbon in dairy soils has reduced in recent years but they don’t know if it is still declining. They also want to find out what management practices will best restore those carbon levels. The university says the work is important because carbon supports life in the soil, and declining amounts mean declining returns for farmers.
On a Waharoa dairy farm near Morrinsville, 20 times a second two special machines are recording the amount of carbon dioxide going in and out of the soil. They will keep measuring it at the same rate for the next year. . .
Water clean-up a challenge – Jon Morgan:
We are about to enter a new phase in this country’s development, one that farmers will have to be involved in, whether they like it or not.
It is as momentous as the last big change that swept through the country in the 1980s – the removal of subsidies.
Farmers were hard hit by that change and they will be again by this one. It is the setting of a firm programme of how to clean up New Zealand’s soils and waterways.
Such a programme could be laid out in a matter of months, two years at most. . .