Ballance Farm Environment Awards entries open

August 1, 2019

Entries for Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened today.

Farmers and growers in 11 regions throughout New Zealand have an exciting opportunity to be part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (“BFEA”) with entries opening today.

The BFEA are managed by the charitable New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and promote sustainable farming and growing. The programme is supported by a range of leading agribusinesses and regional councils throughout the country.

Through the Awards programme, farmers and growers are invited to showcase, benchmark, and improve their operations through a constructive process where agribusiness professionals provide feedback, recommendations, and commendations. 

The judges take a holistic approach to the feedback and award allocation process by evaluating every aspect of the farming/growing business from environmental management, productivity, and profitability through to family and community involvement.

This year, in a first for the BFEA, farmers and growers can be nominated to enter the Awards, provided they give their consent.

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Chair Joanne van Polanen says: “We are proud and privileged to lead an Awards programme that recognises, encourages and incentivises sustainable farming and growing in New Zealand.

“The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are a way for farmers and growers to receive free and independent advice from rural professionals to help them improve the sustainability of their business. It is also a way of sharing positive stories, ideas, and resources with a wider audience.   

“We already have some of the most efficient farmers in the world. Unlike many of our competitors, farmers are investing in environmental improvements without substantial government subsidies as is the case in many other countries. Imagine the possibilities as more farmers and growers commit to producing food and fibre sustainably for the world’s most discerning customers.”

To enter, visit www.nzfeatrust.org.nz from Thursday 1 August 2019. Entries are open until Thursday 31 October 2019. Comprehensive information about the process can also be found on the website.

These  awards are a showcase for New Zealand best farmers and their sustainable – in environmental, economic and social terms – businesses.


Word of the day

August 1, 2019

Hindermate – a companion who is a hindrance.


Thatcher thinks

August 1, 2019


Rural round-up

August 1, 2019

Rural folk – defend yourselves – Robin Greer:

As a proud Southland dairy farmer the wellbeing of our rural families concerns me greatly.

They are constantly bombarded with the hypocrisy of extreme groups and some ministers in our Government.

Many use mistruths to persuade people agriculture needs to be removed from the New Zealand landscape.

We have ministers in the Government who hate dairy farmers and their legacy is to deal with us.

Many of the statements made by some of these people would be called hate speech had it been directed at a different group of the community but farmers are fair game. . . .

First women to graduate from world-leading irrigation design programme :

The latest group of graduates in New Zealand’s Level 5 Certificate in Irrigation Design include the first two women to have done this course.

New Zealand is the only country in the world to have a national qualification in irrigation design.

“IrrigationNZ is proud to have been part of successfully graduating these students from this important course – which will become critical as farmers and businesses increasingly need state-of-the-art irrigation systems to demonstrate efficient and sustainable use of our shared water resources,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal.

“The qualification recognises the specialist skills needed to design technically efficient and environmentally sustainable irrigation systems. . .

New Zealand must learn to talk about ‘evolving technologies’ – Sir Peter Gluckman – Eric Frykberg:

New Zealanders should get to grips with gene technology and not bury their heads in sands of short-term thinking, according to one of this country’s leading scientific thinkers.

Sir Peter Gluckman is a former chief science adviser to the prime minister, who has held many academic posts and currently heads a multidisciplinary think tank at Auckland University.

In a speech to the annual conference of Horticulture New Zealand, Sir Peter said New Zealanders must seriously debate evolving technology such as gene editing, and not leave it mired in rhetoric, and conflated with politics.

Sir Peter told his audience there had been centuries of change in organisms’ genetic make-up, which was speeded up with gene transplants in the 1970s. . . 

Third time lucky for winners – Luke Chivers:

Romney genetics and consistency guide Brian and Anna Coogan’s farming philosophy. They told Luke Chivers about winning the annual, national ewe hogget competition.

Convinced by his wife Anna to enter the national ewe hogget competition Brian Coogan has walked away with the top honours.

The Taihape farmer took out the Romney and flock performance sections, finishing just 0.33 of a point ahead of runners-up Allan and Leeann Woodrow of Waikana before going on to win the overall breeds supreme award in the 23rd annual event in Christchurch. . .

Value of red meat exports up by eight percent :

The value of red meat exports of sheep, beef and co-products increased by eight percent to $8.8 billion for the year to June 2019, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association.

More than 399,470 tonnes of sheepmeat was dispatched, similar to 2018 volumes but the value of these exports increased by six percent.

For beef, export volumes were up by nine percent to more than 453,202 tonnes with a 13 percent increase in value. Co-products exports increased by five percent. . .

Global meat-eating is on the rise, bringing surprising benefits

Things were different 28 years ago, when Zhou Xueyu and her husband moved from the coastal province of Shandong to Beijing and began selling fresh pork. The Xinfadi agricultural market where they opened their stall was then a small outpost of the capital. Only at the busiest times of year, around holidays, might the couple sell more than 100kg of meat in a day. With China’s economic boom just beginning, pork was still a luxury for most people.

Ms Zhou now sells about two tonnes of meat a day. In between expert whacks of her heavy cleaver, she explains how her business has grown. She used to rely on a few suppliers in nearby provinces. . . 

Livestock grazing is vital ‘interference’ to boost biodiversity, new Plantlife study finds – Ben Barnett:

Livestock grazing has a crucial role to play in addressing a dramatic decline in biodiversity-rich wildflower meadows, according to a prominent botanist who warns that totally abandoning land to nature will do more environmental harm than good.

By allowing nature to ‘rewild’ landscapes unchecked, three-quarters of the UK’s most threatened species would decline or disappear altogether within just three years, Dr Trevor Dines said.

Environmentalists have called for the so-called rewilding of parts of the countryside to address historic environmental damage and to help absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but habitats such as wildflower meadows need sufficient levels of grazing and management to prevent them from being lost, Dr Dines said. . .


How old’s old enough?

August 1, 2019

Coroner Tim Scott said that a six year-old should not have been walking to and from school by herself:

Carla Neems was five weeks’ shy of her seventh birthday when she was fatally struck by a rubbish truck outside her Gisborne home on May 2, 2017.

In findings released on Wednesday, Coroner Tim Scott said it was “unacceptable” for Carla’s parents to allow her to walk to and from school with her older siblings, and children her age should be accompanied by an adult. . . 

Coroners have a job to do which includes making recommendations that might prevent future fatalities but there is no such thing as completely safe and blaming her parents for Carla’s death is heartless and wrong.

If six, nearly seven is too young, how old id old enough for children to walk a few hundred metres without an adult in tow?

This was a tragic accident which Carla’s family, their friends and the truck driver will carry for the rest of their lives but it should not be used to further curtail children’s incidental exercise and freedom.

If children can’t walk safely to school, address what makes it dangerous, don’t blame parents and provide yet more reasons for children to be mollycoddled.


Milk comes from udders not nuts

August 1, 2019

Federated Farmers might ask the government to get tougher on the use of dairy and meat terms for plant-based products, if similar moves overseas are successful.

In Europe, legislation is being considered that would restrict the use of descriptions like pattie and steak to apply only to products containing meat and not to vegetarian alternatives.

The case for this, with those examples, isn’t clear-cut.

Pattie applies to a recipe that can be used for a variety of ingredients including whitebait and vegetables; and steak is a cut that applies to both meat and fish, though not traditionally vegetables.

Australian dairy farmers are also seeking to restrict the term to bovine dairy products.

Federated Farmers dairy spokesperson Chris Lewis said it was closely watching what was happening overseas.

“We’ll support our farmers worldwide in their efforts to bring [about] … fair labelling and if they get success we’ll have a chat with out Minister of Ag [agriculture] and engage with him,” Mr Lewis said.

While it was up to consumers to choose what they buy, the terms used to sell some plant-based products, such as almond milk, did not accurately represent what they were, he said.

“Be proud of what you’ve got and call it almond juice, it’s definitely not a milk under the definition in the Oxford Dictionary… so just clearly label what you’ve got,” Mr Lewis said.

“I just encourage other food producers if they’ve got a great story to tell, don’t piggy back off us.”

 The case for restricting the term milk to the liquid that comes from animal’s udders is stronger than the one for terms that apply to ways of cutting or cooking meat. Fruit mince, for example, has been an ingredient of pies for centuries.

But as one of our sharemilkers put it bluntly – milk comes from tits not nuts.

He’s right and what differentiates milk from animals from the plant based pretenders is that the former has only one ingredient, the liquid for which it is named. In contrast to that, the pretenders, with the exception of coconut milk, have multiple ingredients.

The pretenders are also highly processed and often have added sugar, two things which people promoting healthy diets advise should be avoided where possible.

Fonterra chief science and technology officer Jeremy Hill said the dairy company held a firm view that consumers had a right to chose what they ate.

“But that choice should be informed, and at the moment I think these plant-based milks have a positioning that says they’re milk and plant-based, unfortunately from a content basis they’re providing inferior nutrition to what you find in dairy products,” he said. . . 

Calling plant-based liquid with several other ingredients milk, could fool consumers into thinking it has the same nutritional value as the real thing when it doesn’t and that provides solid grounds for the call to restrict the name milk to milk.

There’s a precedence for this in ice cream. The Australia New Zealand Food Code states:

2.5.6—2               Definitions

Note           In this Code (see section 1.1.2—3):

                                      ice cream means a sweet frozen food that is made from cream or milk products or both, and other foods, and is generally aerated.

2.5.6—3               Requirement for food sold as ice cream

                            A food that is sold as ‘ice cream’ must:

                            (a)      be ice cream; and

                            (b)      contain no less than:       

                                      (i)       100 g/kg of milk fat; and

                                      (ii)      168 g/L of food solids.

If ice cream has to be made from cream or milk then it shouldn’t be hard to require milk to be just that – milk and not a highly processed plant based alternative with multiple ingredients and less nutritional value.


Quote of the day

August 1, 2019

The phrase ‘popular science’ has in itself a touch of absurdity. That knowledge which is popular is not scientific.Maria Mitchell who was born n this day in1818.


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