Rural round-up

Dairy industry ‘paper’ flawed

Federated Farmers is disappointed to see Massey University supporting attempts to use academia to tarnish the dairy industry by pretending a student’s academic hypothesis is established fact.

“The paper is being discredited by the authors’ academic peers as being sloppy,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“Unfortunately Joy, Death and Foote’s conclusions are drawn off assumptions, which are out in the world now and we have to rely on the intellect of its readers to see through its many untruths.”

“We support the authors’ desire to have ‘accurate reporting of real costs’ but the student’s thesis only looks at the negative externalities under very poor and inaccurate assumptions of the dairy industry while ignoring the positives. Therefore it could not possibly arrive at an accurate conclusion.” . .

 Downward revision for Westland Milk Products’ pay-out to shareholders:

The decline in international prices for milk has resulted in Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, revising its predicted pay-out for the 2014-15 season.

Westland’s board has advised shareholders that the predicted pay-out is now $4.90 – $5.10 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS) before retentions. This is down from the previously announced range of $5 to $5.40 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says prices were such that a $5.20 pay-out seemed possible before the recent auctions, as buyers looked to New Zealand to secure supply ahead of the dry conditions during January and February. . .

 

Rates a balancing act of who’s going to foot the bill – Chris Lewis:

Rates are being set across the country as local government prepare their Long Term Plans (LTP) for the next three years.

These plans set out the council’s long term focus, describe the activities it intends on providing and specifies which community outcomes are to be achieved. More importantly, from the rate payer’s perspective, who is going to foot the bill for these activities?

Across the country Federated Farmers staff and elected members are busy squirrelling away on council’s plans. One of the things members don’t fully understand is where our membership money is spent. It has taken me a while to get my head around all the different activities the Federation covers and the effort that geos in to keeping 85 councils around New Zealand honest and fair for rural communities. . .

Ministers welcome scientific progress in cutting agricultural greenhouse gases:

Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have welcomed news of a breakthrough by New Zealand researchers which offers the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent without cutting production.

This breakthrough in methane inhibitors was made by researchers working through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.

“Livestock methane is New Zealand’s single largest greenhouse gas emissions source, making up 35 percent of our total emissions in 2013,” says Mr Groser. . .

Tight times force farmers to adopt new tactics – Tony Field:

Dairy New Zealand is warning farmers to prepare for tough times next season as well as this one.

It says the average farmer needs $5.40 in income per kilogram of milk solids just to cover farm working expenses and interest and rent this season. Fonterra is forecasting a payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season.

Industry body DairyNZ says “bank balances for most dairy farmers will be heading south this winter and spring, producing some short-term but significant cashflow management challenges for farmers”. . .

Secret recipe through the seasons:

There’s a lot to be said for a fertiliser which does double duty, giving an instant boost of nitrogen to promote autumn growth, followed by the slower release of sulphur.

That’s the verdict of King Country sheep and beef farmers, George and Sue Morris who followed advice from their Ballance Agri-Nutrients representative to give PhaSedN a try.

The product is a granulated combination of SustaiN, elemental sulphur and lime. While the nitrogen offers an immediate boost to pasture, the elemental sulphur delivers a long-term supply of sulphur. It is an ideal combination where there is a high sulphur need such as sandy, peat and pumice soils or if there is high rainfall or a high risk of sulphur leaching. . .

 

 

Snapshots of US agriculture – Conversable Economist:

An extraordinary shift happened in the US agricultural sector during the last century or so. Robert A. Hoppe lays out the facts in his report “Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report,
2014 Edition,” written as Economic Information Bulletin Number 132, December 2014, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Indeed, when I hear arguments about how difficult (impossible?) it will be for the US workforce to adjust to the coming waves of technology, my thought quickly jump to the shift in agriculture.

For example, back around 1910, about one-third of all US workers were in agriculture (blue line, measured on the right-hand scale).  It’s now about 2%. The absolute number of jobs in agriculture declined, too, but the big change was that more than 100% of the job growth in the U.S. was in the non-agricultural sector. I haven’t researched the point, but my guess is that many people around 1910 would have viewed these changes as somewhere between  impossible and inconceivable.  . .  Hat tip: Utopia

6 Responses to Rural round-up

  1. Andrei says:

    “Livestock methane is New Zealand’s single largest greenhouse gas emissions source, making up 35 percent of our total emissions in 2013,

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…….

    Perhaps I’ll just go read some Edward Lear

  2. Will says:

    Here you go.

    The boffins at Lincoln and Massey,

    Reckon our cows are too gassy.

    But with vaccines and drugs,

    They will kill all the bugs,

    That live in the animal’s chassis.

    Deadwood Leer.

  3. Will says:

    One more…

    To some it may seem a bit funny,

    But ruminants don’t smell like honey.

    If we de-fart the cow,

    And the sheep too somehow,

    The Lefties can’t steal all our money.

    Gotweird Hair.

  4. Mr E says:

    “Dairy industry ‘paper’ flawed”

    Interesting the co author, Foote, has teamed up with Dr Joy. A scientist accused of “overstating”, “exaggerating” issues and even of being a “traitor”.

    What are Footes qualifications to criticise the economics and environmental impact of dairying?

    “Geography student Kyleisha Foote”

    Eh? A geography student writing economic/environmental papers?

    This from the Massey Uni website.

    “Kyleisha Foote has a problem. The workings of her trusty mountain bike have failed on the way to a lecture, putting the brakes on her daily ride to Massey University. Stuck at class with a broken bike, the 23-year old geography student decides to take advantage of a campus-based workshop”

    “As well as carrying out repairs, the trust provides bikes to people wanting a cheap and carbon-neutral way to get around the city.”

    “Today the Green Bike Trust is in the process of securing its future by integrating into a broader and more ambitious enterprise. This is the Green Hub, a provisionally named and so-far informally constituted umbrella organisation. Like the bike trust, which was one of its instigators, the Hub is being set up to pursue social and environmental objectives and be financially viable, but it will have the advantage of a much wider remit.”

    Ok.

    In 2012 she co wrote a short film called “Clinically insane – my nemesis” where a girl has something of a breakdown/experience whilst reporting/filming the environment.

    Here in NZ Foote and Joy have published papers titled:
    “The true cost of milk: Environmental deterioration Vs. profit in the New Zealand dairy industry.”

    A paper presented in August 2014

    It starts off- “Over the past two decades, major increases in production have occurred in the New Zealand dairy industry. This has required the use of externally sourced inputs, particularly fertiliser, feed supplements, and irrigation.”

    But over in the US a paper based with the same Authors on the same premise was titled:

    “NZ Dairy Farming — Milking Our Environment for All Its Worth”

    “Over the past two decades there have been major increases in dairy production in New Zealand. This increase in intensity has required increased use of external inputs, in particular fertilizer, feed, and water.”

    The US paper makes much greater controversial statements than the local paper. Why – is it the NZ peer review process diminishes emotive statements from papers? Perhaps it is attention seeking given that disinterest from the first paper? Or perhaps there is some other motivation?

    Whatever the reasons, I suspect Dr Joy will suffer more criticisms for inaccuracy and emotive exaggerations. I just hope the people around him aren’t unnecessarily being dragged into his apparent politicisation of science.

  5. Mr E says:

    This is the opening sentence (and a bit) from the Environment section of the NZ report “The true cost of milk: Environmental deterioration Vs. profit in the New Zealand dairy industry”

    “Evidence shows that agricultural intensification has contributed to environmental deterioration. For example, 96% of rivers in pastoral catchments are too polluted to swim in (Larned et al., 2004);”

    This is the section from Larned et al that they cited.

    Median DRP, NOX, NH4, and E. coli concentrations
    in streams from the pastoral and urban landcover
    classes exceeded recommended guidelines,
    and did not meet the guideline value for clarity (Fig.
    3). In addition, the median E. coli concentration in
    native forest streams, and conductivity in plantation
    forest streams exceeded the guidelines. Urban and
    pastoral stream water quality was particularly low:
    the E. coli guideline was exceeded at all urban sites,
    and DRP, NOX, and NH4 guidelines at 92%, 86%,
    and 83% of urban sites, respectively. The E. coli
    guideline was exceeded at 96% of pastoral sites, and
    DRP, NH4, and NOX guidelines at 88%, 78%, and
    64% of pastoral sites, respectively. When all cover
    classes were combined, the nationwide median DRP,
    NOX, NH4, and E. coli concentrations in low elevation
    streams exceeded recommended
    guidelines, but met the guidelines for clarity and
    conductivity (Fig. 3).”

    Our average native site fails swim ability according to Larned et al 2004. 100% of Urban sites fail, and around 75% or exotic sites fail.

    Most importantly – that swimming standard is now out of date. Actually the 2002 standard being referred to, was out of date in 2003.

    Where the report cites Larned subsequently –
    “Water quality in New Zealand is on a declining trend, driven by agricultural intensification”

    This from Larned et al 2004

    “A caveat is required concerning the preceding
    arguments. No direct comparisons have been made
    between trends in water quality across New Zealand,
    and trends in the land-use attributes that are likely
    to affect water quality, such as human populations,
    livestock densities, irrigated acreage, or clear-felling.
    At present, there is insufficient data about these
    attributes for national-scaled trend analyses.”

    Gosh Foote Joy and Death appear to have been sloppy and to my eye dishonest.

  6. TraceyS says:

    “It’s sloppy research”

    This is actually mainly just a review of literature. The majority of literature being of non-peer reviewed source such as books, reports and conference papers.

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