Private property is private regardless of size

April 19, 2018

Increasing numbers of visitors are increasing problems for landowners who may restrict or refuse access.

This was one of the issue identified by Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa in the South Island High Country Access Report.

One landholder, who has a popular walkway that crosses his property, spoke of the numbers of people increasing from approximately 30,000 per year in 2013 to an expected 70-100,000 people in 2017.

While most private landholders, the Department of Conservation and local authorities all agreed that the percentage of poorly behaved visitors wasn’t getting worse, the number increases mean the impact of poor behaviour is still growing.

One noted issue was the impact of the internet making it harder to predict which walks/areas will become popular – one viral Instagram post or YouTube video can result in thousands more people coming to a place previously only known to locals.

Increased numbers and unpredictability are also making landholders warier of opening new access points. A farmer happy to have a track with 1000 people per year might be less willing to do so if they are fearful they will instead have 20,000 people per year.

With more people you get more problems with people who don’t understand outdoor etiquette – leave gates as you find them, don’t disturb stock, take only photos, leave only footprints. . .

Friends have a musterers’ hut near a walking trail. Trampers found the key, went into the hut, turned on the gas, used it and left it on, left rubbish then posted where to find the key on social media.

Many interviewees pointed out that numbersin themselves are not necessarily a bad thing, but rather it is the unpredictability and thelack of control over where people go that can cause problems. Positives of increased numbers include more money owing into regions, and more opportunities for farmers to diversify their income streams to help subsidise bad years in their core operation – such as accommodation on trails, concessions for guided tours, and more. . . 

The lack of appropriate infrastructure to go along with tracks and trails was noted repeatedly, in particular a lack of toileting facilities and the impact that has on the environment. . . 

Who pays for the infrastructure and attends to its upkeep? Landowners who get no return for access don’t want to, nor do councils with small rating bases when most of the visitors aren’t ratepayers.

The report looks at the different wants of cyclists, mountain bikers, day walkers, trampers, horse riders, hunters and fishers and then summerises:

A focus on public access, and the associated infrastructure, is necessary to ensure that locals and domestic tourists can experience and enjoy New Zealand’s great outdoors, and that tourists have a positive experience that turns them into ambassadors for our tourism industry. As well as economic development opportunities, easy and  enjoyable public access opportunities can benefit public health through increased exercise and active transport methods. 

In order to achieve the full benefits, the areas that need to be addressed are:

Numbers
Create new access opportunities through the area, with a focus on opportunities that will prove attractive to people currently using tracks and trails that are over or near capacity. Also focus on activities that are currently under catered for, such as horseriding. 

Pilot new methods of digital and other communication to help direct tourist traffic to areas that have capacity, and away from areas that are over capacity.

Find solutions to manage access, in particular on working farms and in sensitive conservation areas, to ensure negative impact is minimised.

Infrastructure
New funding streams, in particular for lowratepayer base councils, to enable central and local government agencies to build appropriate public access infrastructure such as toilets and carparks.

Clarify who is responsible for access infrastructure where private landholders have gifted secure access, and on tracks and trails that cross multiple land tenure types.

Explore funding options for ‘less sexy’ maintenance and infrastructure that volunteer groups currently find it difficult to fundraise for.

Collect better data that allows for more reliable future modelling, so infrastructure can be built ahead of or alongside increasing demand, rather than always playing catch-up.

Information
Creation of a single, trustworthy digital source of information on where people can go in the outdoors and what they can do there, regardless of land ownership.

Integration of safety information where necessary in this information source.

Behaviour
Funding to address systemic behaviour issues, such as rubbish bins, multi-lingual signage etc.

Explore resources targeted at international tourists on appropriate behaviour – perhaps in conjunction with airlines or rental car companies.

A focus on education at a school and university level to teach people about how to behave in the outdoors from a young age so it stays with them for life.

Connections
Coordination between agencies to do landscape level planning for tracks and trails, to connect existing ones to each other, to local amenities and to population centres, with the authority to work alongside the Department of Conservation, local government, iwi and community groups to coordinate planning and activities.

A role for this agency in Tenure Review and Overseas Investment Act processes, as key ways of creating new access.

That is all very reasonable but overlooks one very important fact.

Private property is private property regardless of size.

No-one would expect open access for recreation on a small private section in town but some don’t understand they aren’t entitled to do that on bigger properties in the country.

Rural landowners has the exact same right to quiet enjoyment of their properties and the exact same rights to allow, restrict or refuse access as urban property owners.

That many are becoming increasingly less open to public access isn’t helped by politically anti-farmer rants like this from Fish and Game although it is calling for curbs on tourism numbers in the high country.

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New beginning for strong wool?

April 12, 2018

Could this signal a brighter future for strong wool and the sheep industry?:

One of the world’s largest producers of synthetic fabrics is coming to the aid of the ailing strong-wool industry.

DuPont, the 216-year-old global agricultural and industrial chemical business, and Wools of New Zealand are collaborating to develop a new, eco-friendly, wool-blend home textile yarn.

Wool ticks a lot of the boxes environmentally concerned customers care about.

It’s a natural, renewable product and in New Zealand comes from free-range sheep.

Contrary to what radical anti-farming activists try to say, wool is shorn from live animals which are treated well in the process.

The new yarn is scheduled to be released later this year or early next, prompting a “cautiously optimistic” Wools of NZ chief executive Rosstan Mazey to predict the industry could be on the cusp of significant change.

DuPont’s involvement provided product development and marketing horsepower Mazey said has been missing from the wool industry.

Initial work is under way developing what he called a super fibre for high-end carpets, which means finding the optimum blend of wool and bio-synthetic fibres.

Other super fibre products for apparel and upholstery could follow.

DuPont also has links, distribution networks and access to retailers throughout the world on a scale not available to NZ wool exporters.

“The exciting thing for us and for our growers is that this is very much a starting point and who knows where it will end.”

Mazey said if successful, the super fibre could use significant volumes of strong crossbred wool.

“It could take on a significant portion of the strong wool clip. 

“It is too early to say how much but it is exciting that it could take meaningful volumes that would lift demand for the overall clip.”

DuPont’s global segment leader John Sagrati said it will allow the creation of a sustainable, eco-friendly yarn with enduring performance.

“Bringing together world-leading source traceability and patented technology from Wools of NZ with DuPont’s global leadership in bio-sustainable, high-performance materials inspired this collaboration of expertise and products scheduled for release in 2018.” . . 

 

Strong wool has struggled against synthetic competitors.

But it is kinder on the environment and its flame retardant properties make it safer for furnishing too.

The aim is to produce a fibre for high-end carpets where cost is less of a concern and that could signal a resurgence in fortunes for strong wool and the farmers who produce it.


Rural round-up

April 1, 2018

Plaque honours irrigation pioneer – Sally Brooker:

The man who brought water to Waitaki farmland has been honoured with a plaque alongside Bortons Pond.

Sid Hurst, who died aged 97 in July 2016, is now officially commemorated as a “Visionary Farmer and Irrigation Pioneer; Champion of the Waitaki”.

The plaque site was chosen for its significance to the Lower Waitaki irrigation scheme, which Mr Hurst instigated. Bortons Pond, just west of Georgetown, is where water diverted from the Waitaki River is held for distribution to thousands of hectares of drought-prone land. . . 

Farmers want clarity – Annette Scott:

The effects of the Mycoplasma bovis response are being felt by a Cambridge farmer whose farms are under Primary Industries Ministry Notice of Direction.

“We are under movement restriction with three properties.

“We were told we were suspect and slapped under restriction on March 5.”

MPI said there are no properties under Restricted Place Notice in the North Island but there might be some on Notices of Direction, effectively a stock movement restriction. . . 

New animal welfare regulations will reinforce New Zealand’s high global standing:

The introduction of regulations to support compliance with New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation will add further weight to New Zealand’s animal welfare standards, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Dave Harrison, General Manager Policy and Advocacy of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) said: “World Animal Protection has given New Zealand an ‘A’ ranking on its Animal Protection Index, one of only four countries to achieve that standard.

“This reflects the fact we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and it is important that these high standards are maintained’” says Harrison. . . 

Central Hawke’s Bay Dairy Farm Wins East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Parkhill Dairy Farm at Ashley Clinton has won the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards -entered by owner Andrea Barry and manager Craig Pennell. The win was announced at an awards dinner at the Napier Conference Centre on Wednesday night (March 28). They will host a field day in April.

Parkhill was one of the first three dairy farms converted by Andrea and her late husband Peter Barry in 1994. Andrea Barry is proud of the work that has been done and is still being done on Parkhill. . . 

Record investment into mouse threat :

THE largest investment into mouse-related research ever made in Australia was announced by the GRDC today.

The GRDC is injecting more than $4.1 million into mouse control research, development and extension initiatives in response to the increasing prevalence of mice in many key grain-growing regions of Australia.

GRDC managing director Steve Jefferies says the GRDC recognises the enormity of the mouse problem and the severe impact it has on our growers’ businesses, their families, their communities and the broader industry. . .


MPI makes warranted searches

March 28, 2018

This is serious:

Warranted officers from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compliance investigations team ran simultaneous searches at 3 locations yesterday as part of an investigation associated with the Mycoplasma bovis response.

The searches were conducted in both the North and South islands.

Manager compliance investigations, Gary Orr, says the searches related to potential breaches of legislation related to the Mycoplasma bovis response.

“We recognise there is strong interest in the rural sector concerning how Mycoplasma bovis may have entered New Zealand,” says Mr Orr.

“We will ensure the outcome of these investigations is communicated to farmers as soon as we are able to provide that information,” Mr Orr says.

The ministry is unable to provide substantive comment while investigations continue.

Mycoplasma bovis is a serious threat to cattle health and farmers’ income. Dealing with it is costing, and will continue to cost, multi millions of dollars.

MPI is aiming to eradicate the disease and that requires all farmers with cattle to act responsibly, and lawfully.


Cull all cattle on M bovis farms – MPI

March 27, 2018

The Ministry of Primary Industries has called for all cattle on properties infected with the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis to be culled.

“The depopulation of entire herds on all 28 Infected Properties (IPs) in New Zealand is a critical measure to control the spread of the disease and we will be working closely with those farmers to plan how this will happen,” says MPI’s response director Geoff Gwyn.

“This will be a big job and won’t happen overnight, but we’ll be meeting with the affected farmers in the coming days to discuss the operation, develop the plans and talk through compensation.”

All IP farmers will be compensated for their verifiable losses. MPI continues to build its compensation team to make sure farmers are compensated as quickly as possible. Once farms are de-populated and cleaned, these farmers can start re-building a disease-free herd from scratch.

“We understand this has been an incredibly difficult time for farmers while they wait for critical decisions to be made about managing and controlling this disease,” says Mr Gwyn.

“This cull will give those farmers back some certainty and control over the future of their farms, their animals and their livelihoods.

“We are able to take this decision now because we are confident Mycoplasma bovis is not well established in New Zealand.

“The testing of milk from every dairy farm in New Zealand is very well advanced and to date has only identified one new infected property.

“This, combined with MPI’s extensive surveillance work tracing every possible movement of animals from infected farms, gives us the confidence to say the disease is not widespread, but is limited to a network of farms connected by animal movements. Culling these animals is now the appropriate action.”

Non-infected farms that are under Restricted Places Notices (RPN) or Notices of Direction (NoDs) are not being asked to cull their herds at this point because infection has not yet been confirmed on those properties. Confirmation relies on the defining genetic test which provides complete confidence that animals on a farm are positive.

Mr Gwyn says MPI will work with farmers to develop individual management plans for each of these properties – until a decision on whether to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis or move to long-term management is made.

“We all want to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis – but it has to be technically possible, practically achievable and affordable for everyone.  Our focus is on the resilience of our dairy and beef industries which are such significant contributors to our economy, and on farmer well-being and the welfare of animals.

“Whatever option is taken, we will need to see some big changes in on-farm biosecurity and NAIT compliance. There remains a big job to do around this disease, and there is no quick exit from this situation.”

Some farmers have been very slack about record keeping. One reason for that is problems with the NAIT system.

Both the system and compliance must improve.

Mycoplasma bovis only affects cattle, it is not harmful to other animals or humans. Up to date, and 100% correct, record keeping is essential for tracing stock if, or when, there is another outbreak of this or any other disease – many of which would have more serious consequences for animal health, farmers and the economy than M. bovis.

While MPI with industry partners will continue to focus on surveillance and tracking the spread of the disease, there is critical work being done to model the potential spread of Mycoplasma bovis under different scenarios and in understanding the costs and benefits of decisions around eradication.

“People will say ‘why haven’t you done this already’.  In fact we have been working on this since the disease was detected and we depopulated 7 farms in December.  We halted further culling until we better understood the spread of the disease. We are now at that point where we have that understanding and can complete this work with confidence,” says Mr Gwyn.

“We now believe the disease is not endemic and we can complete this analysis and planning, but we will take care and time to get it right because decisions about the future management of this disease are too important to rush.”

The Ministry says cattle on 28 properties have been actively identified as having the disease,  22 have cattle remaining on them that will need to be culled.

This will be a huge and expensive undertaking but it is the only way there will be any chance of eradicating the disease.

The cull will be devastating for the affected farmers who will have spent years building up their herds but it has to be done and they must be properly compensated for the loss of their stock and income.

 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2018

Disease leaves pair with nothing – Annette Scott:

In early June last year all was looking rosy for South Canterbury contract milkers Mary and Sarel Potgieter.

By the end of July their lives had been turned upside down and their dairy business was on a rapid downward spiral because of their honesty over Mycoplasma bovis.

Now the self-described Mb founders are in two minds over the call they made to the Ministry for Primary Industries to report untreatable mastitis in their dairy herd.

“We first noticed a problem in early June. By the end of June we had 162 cows showing signs and the vet was flabbergasted,” Mary said.

“By mid-July we had tried everything. We had done tests and milk samples, nothing could be cultured – it was not normal mastitis. . . 

QEII National Trust defending protected land:

QEII National Trust are in the Supreme Court today defending the intentions of the original landowner to protect 400 ha of Coromandel forest land forever against someone who wishes to overturn covenant protection to develop a property for commercial purposes.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “covenants are protected for the benefit of current and future generations because of the vision of the original owner who loved the land and wanted to protect it. Individually and collectively covenants represent a huge legacy to the country.” 

Grumblings on the grapevine – are seasonal workers treated well in NZ? – Johnny Blades:

You see them in small groups, often two or three, walking along Blenheim’s roadsides to the big supermarkets.

Young men from the Pacific Island archipelago of Vanuatu, they stand out in a New Zealand region not known for its multi-culturalism.

But here in grape country, Marlborough, ni-Vanuatu are the driving force behind New Zealand’s growing wine industry.

There are over 4000 ni-Vanuatu, or ni-Vans as they’re known, doing seasonal work this year under New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme  . . .

Women’s group seeks new head – Annette Scott:

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers has called time on the organisation she has helped to grow over the past four years.

De Villiers had solidified the organisation’s systems, structures and reputation in the industry, chairwoman Cathy Brown said.

Her commercial and financial expertise had led the not-for-profit organisation into a strong position.

“We have also grown our membership significantly during her tenure. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Andy Fox – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five:  Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Proud Farmer Andy Fox.
How long have you been farming?

Having been brought up on a farm, I was keen from an early age to go farming. Besides working as a builder, a mechanic, a period on my OE and Uni I have farmed all my life.  Since about 2000, I have farmed only a proportion of the time which allows me time to sit on agricultural boards, contribute to other industry good activities and to undertake volunteer work.

   What sort of farming are you involved in?

I am the 4th generation on “Foxdown” in the Scargill Valley, North Canterbury. We are a sheep and beef protein producer on a dry-land hard hill property. We aim to produce the best base ingredient for a quality eating experience, while maintaining the farm in a way that makes this production sustainable and improves the state of the land for the future. We also have approximately 400 visitors a year to the farm museum and a walking track that is a 4 hour return walk to the top of the farm, Mt Alexander. . . 

Chattan Farm:

Chattan Farm is situated in an idyllic locale approximately 40 minutes south west of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island.

Owners Tim and Jo Mackintosh, along with their children Alice and George, run a livestock operation along with a number of diverse businesses from their 680 hectare farm. Sheep and beef production is the cornerstone of the Chattan Farm operations, where they produce up to 5000 stock units a year of Romney, East Friesian and Texel sheep along with Angus cattle. Along with these stock numbers Tim says they also graze dairy heifers.

“We generally grow out around 400 head of heifer stock from the age of four months through to 18 months,” Tim said. . . 

New fund to help sustainable farming school at Waipaoa:

The trustees have established the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust (WSFCTT) Endowment Fund at the Sunrise Foundation to help build long term financial stability into the organisation.

Ken Shaw, WSFCTT Chair, says although they have been operating for ten years and are pleased with the progress they have made, a reliable ongoing source of revenue is their biggest challenge.

“We are lucky to have had the generous support of many individuals and organisations in the agricultural industry, which has helped us build Waipaoa into the success it now is. Even so we have to secure our sponsorship every year, and we know we can’t rely on the same people and organisations to keep giving year on year.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 27, 2018

Provincial president reflects on future of farming belonging to those who are good at what they do – Pat Deavoll:

South Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Mark Adams has been the provincial Federated Farmers president for the district for almost three years.

His face and opinions are commonplace in online news and the Canterbury farming mags. He farms just north of Fairlie amongst a pleasant, fertile and rolling landscape. In the winter the local ski fields form a snowy backdrop to the farm.

Adams’ term of office with the Feds comes to a close in April. He is reflective on the past three years and says representing farmers in the district has been satisfying. But there’s been a lot to get his head around. . . 

Record temperatures tough on stock – Esther Taunton:

With much of Taranaki hit by drought and other parts of New Zealand experiencing record-breaking temperatures, AgResearch scientists say the pressure is on farmers to carefully manage animal welfare.

The soaring temperatures across the country include the hottest recorded temperature in Dunedin and Invercargill over recent days. The increased heat and humidity raises issues around the welfare of livestock as well as production from those animals.

Over the last 15 years, AgResearch scientists have carried out extensive research into how dairy cows cope with heat. That research has provided important insights for animal management, says senior scientist Dr Karin Schütz. . .

Farmers welcome 90 day work trial retention :

Fears difficulties attracting staff to farming would be exacerbated by employment law changes appear to have subsided with the Government retaining the 90-day trial provisions for small businesses.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis said allowing businesses employing less than 20 staff to retain the trial would give farmers renewed confidence to employ staff, given the main concern for dairy farmers was a lack of available, motivated workers.

“Many employ few staff, but because of the small size of the business, they simply can’t afford the situation or inconvenience when new staff aren’t suited for the job or can’t fit in,” he said.

Retaining the 90-day trial would give farmers confidence to employ staff. . .

Dear neighbor we need NAFTA, love, your local farm family – Uptown Farms:

Dear Neighbor,

You pass by our local business daily, even though we don’t have a storefront on Main Street. You drive by our production lines to and from work each day, although you probably just call them fields. You probably don’t give much thought at all to the corn, cattle and soybeans we are raising.

It would probably surprise you to know, that right here in our own little county, $126.6 million in sales is created each year by the farm families and that 1,173 jobs that are supported by those sales. For a rural county, with total population just over 12,000, those numbers are rather significan . . 


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