Rural round-up

15/06/2021

Rural roads may suffer as transport funding hole opens – Chloe Ranford:

Councils are scrambling to deal with holes in their roading budgets, which they fear could lead to deteriorating roads, particularly in rural areas.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency has told councils not to expect as much road funding as they had sought, although most would still receive more than they had in the last funding round.

The news from the government’s transport agency has left Marlborough District Council “scrambling” to deal with a $10 million hole in its road funding, which could cause “failures across the network”.

The lower funding indication came as the council was hearing feedback on its long-term plan, used to benchmark what the council would do and spend in the coming decade, including $53.6m on its roads. . . 

SNAs – the green movement that cuts farmers deep:

Katie Milne looks over eight hectares of precious native forest from her lounge room on the West Coast dairy farm she runs with her husband Ian Whitmore.

Just metres from her doorstep are kahikatea, mountain cedar and manuka and species of drachafilums which are normally only found higher up.

When it was designated a Significant Natural Area 20 years ago it was contentious but the debate is even more controversial now.

Today The Detail visits Milne at her farm and finds out why West Coast landowners are so angry at latest moves to identify and protect SNAs. . . 

Safety profile – the job’s always going to be there, getting home safely is the main thing :

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Working with ANZ’s rural lending team, Taranaki/Manawatu 2021 Young Farmer of the Year Jake Jarman sees real value in good health and safety practices.

“In my experience, a farm that makes health and safety a priority is a productive and profitable farm,” he says.

Jake’s own health and safety focus began with a solid grounding on his family’s dairy farm and continued through his studies at Lincoln and Massey universities and practical farm placements. . . 

NZ on track for predator-free targets – Ben Leonard:

A new report is giving hope to conservationists hoping to stem New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis

It’s been five years since the Government launched its ambitious goal of ridding the country of rats, possums, and mustelids by 2050. 

The programme aimed to move from piecemeal local projects to a strategic nationwide approach for eradicating the three worst offenders to our biodiversity.

Five years on, the programme is taking stock and reflecting in its first progress report, released at a summit in Wellington last week. . . 

Avocado industry smashes records with 40% sales value rise – Maja Burry:

The season just ended was a record breaker for the avocado industry, with the value of sales lifting more than percent 40 on the year prior.

New figures from New Zealand Avocado show the industry’s revenue from the 2020-21 season totalled $227 million compared to $155 million the season prior.

Overseas markets accounted for $167 million dollars worth of sales, with export volumes up 10 percent.

Industry group chief executive Jen Scoular said the result had been achieved against the odds, with Covid-19 lockdowns and significant freight disruption presenting major hurdles. . . 

Buyers aim high as treetop walkway business goes up for sale:

A leading adventure tourism business which operates a world-class treetop walk has been put up for sale.

Located just south of Hokitika, West Coast Treetop Walk & Café is one of the West Coast’s top visitor attractions.

It attracted more than 45,000 visitors last year with the chance to roam its 450-metre aerial walkway and 45-metre-high viewing tower overlooking stunning native rainforest, or to enjoy a unique food-and-beverage experience in a wild setting.

The business also has approval to install New Zealand’s longest and highest rainforest canopy zipline at the site, which is forecast to boost annual visitor numbers by a further 5,000 to 10,000. . . 


Rural round-up

14/06/2021

Dairy herd monitoring tech set to launch – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-created technology, designed to provide farmers with an “intelligent eye” over the health of their herds, will be launched at Fieldays at Mystery Creek next week.

Iris Data Science, which also created the world’s first sheep facial recognition system, is piloting the technology on five dairy farms in the lower South Island and hopes to extend to about 50, allowing it to develop it further.

The automated on-farm monitoring system, powered by artificial intelligence software, allows for early detection of conditions such as lameness, an issue which costs the dairy industry millions of dollars.

It uses a non-intrusive on-farm camera and monitoring system that collects tens of thousands of data points from every cow, every day, to provide an “intelligent eye” over livestock. . . 

Knees sore, head hurts – Pita Alexander:

The knees are sore, the back hurts and the tractor is noisy. Worse, the cash has gone and the only thing working well is the national superannuation.

Maybe it’s time to look at hanging up the farm boots.

If this is you, then don’t make any rash decisions. Firstly, you need to lead from the front and not get pushed too much from behind or from the side. Leading involves good thinking, planning, decision making, timing and cash. Being pushed from behind involves resistance, frustration and confrontation. Make sure you are on the right end of all of this as nothing well planned tends to happen overnight.

Your son – let’s call him Johnny – has been with you for 10 years and has been very supportive. Johnny’s wife likes shopping but this is his problem, not yours. Johnny has a 20 per cent share of the farm assets – that means land, stock, plant and debt – and is capable of managing the property’s sheep, cattle, vehicles and plant. Johnny works a lot harder than you, but plays a lot harder as well. You do though notice some of your own bad traits showing up in Johnny such as swearing at the wrong dog, being influenced by the tractor colour and feeling that the high overdraft is the bank’s problem. . . 

Good Bosses in action: Peter & Vicki Risi:

Waikato dairy farm owners Peter & Vicki Risi are nailing it at being good bosses, and their team approach has continued paying off despite the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Being a good boss makes perfect sense for our business and our team’s wellbeing. We milk 720 cows, employ four permanent staff, and are proud that our farm supports a good lifestyle for five families, including our own. Being a good boss means communicating well and holding on to valued staff.

The Risis say that in any business, the people you employ and work with are one of your biggest assets, so it’s important to value them because they can make or break your business. “We are very lucky to have this group of guys working for us.” Says Vicki.

Every morning the Risi farm team sits down to breakfast to plan the day. During the COVID-19 lockdown, breakfasts were on hold, and with them the accompanying banter – something everyone missed. . .

New ‘robust’ blueberry varieties available to New Zealand growers:

Eleven new blueberry varieties are being made available to New Zealand growers, with the aim of increasing export opportunities.

The crown research institute, Plant and Food Research, has licensed the new offerings, which it said produced larger fruit with good flavour and had been adapted to grow in a wider range of climates.

Plant varieties manager Emma Brown said the new varieties were more robust, which made them better suited for international freight.

“There’s a range of new genetics, with improved characteristics and a range of adaptability for growing regions across New Zealand,” Brown said. . . 

Vintage 2021: smaller harvest of superb quality:

Although the harvest was smaller than hoped for, the quality of the 2021 vintage is being described as exceptional throughout New Zealand’s wine regions.

There were 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during the 2021 vintage, down 19% on last year’s crop. Regions throughout the middle of the country – including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, and North Canterbury – were impacted the most, down over 20% on 2020. However, there was some variability across different parts of the country, with Central Otago the one region to increase its crop, up 21% on last year’s harvest.

“While the quality is exceptional, the overall smaller harvest means many of our wineries will face tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets. There is going to be some supply and demand tension because of this, with the shortfall in the crop equivalent to roughly 7 million 9 litre cases of New Zealand wine,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Dairy producer shares passion for industry with consumers – Amie Simpson :

Indiana dairy producer Jill Houin has a passion for teaching consumers about the dairy industry and the farmers caring for the animals.

“I absolutely am humbled to be able to share that story from our farm to teach people about the dairy farm families that are out there,” she says. “It’s amazing what they do, how they recycle, how they reuse, and I think it’s very important.”

A New Jersey native, Houin was new to the industry when she married an Indiana dairy farmer in 2004. She retired from teaching in 2016 and became calf manager of the family’s operation, Homestead Dairy.

“I had no idea before I married into it that dairy farming is not a job, it’s a passion, it’s a lifestyle, and they live every moment for the cows, the land, and to produce nutritious milk,” she says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/06/2021

Rising stars of primary industries acknowledged:

A 50 percent jump in the number of nominations for the 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards underpins the amount of innovation and leadership going on in the sector and growing awareness of the need to celebrate it, Terry Copeland says.

The Federated Farmers of NZ chief executive said from 65 nominations, up from just over 40 last year, judges have had the tough task of selecting finalists in seven categories. Winners will be announced at the PINZ Summit in Christchurch on 6 July.

“With a whole set of gnarly challenges in front of us – from global warming, biosecurity threats, cost pressures and demand for more community water storage, to name a few – robust science, entrepreneurial spirit and cross-agency teamwork is needed,” Terry said. . .

Farmers need to better prepare to deal with the barrage of regulations aimed at the sector – Mike Cranstone:

Farmers need to consider how they can have a stronger voice to represent their industry as it faces an endless barrage of regulations.

To be effective, agriculture must identify who it should be lobbying, and what messages are going to garner support. It needs a strategy rather than ad hoc responses, and we need to resource it properly, so we have a serious crack at defending the future of our industry.

The threat is not only to agriculture but to New Zealand’s future prosperity, this is too important for us to continue bumbling along.

Agriculture is facing rules and restrictions on many fronts; Freshwater, biodiversity, animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions and also bearing the brunt of rampant local government rate rises. . . 

Maple syrup in New Zealand: Trial aims to test sap production :

A trial near the Canterbury village of Hanmer Springs aims to see if maple syrup can be produced in New Zealand.

A small plantation of maple trees was planted there last autumn by the University of Canterbury.

Despite Canada’s freezing winters playing a pivotal role in its maple syrup production, research team lead Professor Matt Watson believes sap production can happen here.

“We planted our first maple saplings near Hanmer Springs last autumn and will coppice-prune them to keep them small. . . 

 

Vero urges Canterbury farmers affected by flooding to use mental health benefit on their insurance:

Vero insurance has today urged its rural customers affected by flooding in the Canterbury region to make use of the mental health benefit available on their rural insurance policies.

“The flooding in Canterbury is having a significant impact on our rural insurance customers, with inundation and damage to farming infrastructure like fences, pump and other farm assets and buildings,” says Chris Brophy, Executive Manager SME and Rural Insurance.

Brophy says that a large number of the 350 claims Vero has received due to the storm so far have been from rural customers, and that it expects the number of claims to increase further. . . 

Tough times for wine tour guides ’it is what it is’ :

The border opening with Australia has done little to re-invigorate the fortunes of Marlborough wine tour guides.

Marlborough Wine Tours used to take about 3000 mainly international guests around the region’s vineyards and cellar doors each year.

But this season it was down to less than a fifth of its normal clientele.

Guide and operator of the business Jess Daniell said guides were having to find other work. . .

Premer and Tambar Springs growers unite to tackle alarming wild pig problem – Lucy Kinbacher:

Growers on the Liverpool Plains have eradicated at least 1500 wild pigs in just four months, saving the district around $100,000 in damage.

While the mouse plague dominates headlines right now, this year local farmers around Premer and Tambar Springs faced an even bigger threat to their high yielding crops.

But when Local Land Services surveyed the district about the issue they found they lacked a combined pest management approach against pigs.

It wasn’t until 20 landholders gathered at the Premer pub to hear from Central West Local Land Services biosecurity officer Will Thorncraft that they decided to establish a pest management group and join with National Parks and North West LLS to tackle the problem. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/06/2021

Canterbury flooding: best friend safe but pain lingers – Adam Burns:

Dave Stewart and his family may have emerged from the floodwaters safe and well.

But the heartache of a flooding catastrophe which ravaged the Mid-Canterbury district has not subsided for the Greenstreet dairy farmer who was evacuated alongside wife Maree and son TJ on Sunday 30 May.

The image of 10-year-old dog Max being guided onto a truck by a member of the New Zealand Defence Force during the evacuation circulated across national and international channels as news broke of the Canterbury region being lashed by a one-in-100-year rain event.

As Stewart, 67, surveyed the damage to the 200ha family farm yesterday, which he said was going to absorb significant time and costs, there was only one feeling that came to mind. . . 

We are good at agriculture and we can be proud of it – Derek Moot:

Prof. Derrick Moot, head of the Dryland Pastures Research team at Lincoln University and a keynote contributor to MakingMeatBetter.nz, gives his thoughts on the NZ farming industry.

The adage ‘the consumer is king’ has never been more pertinent than it is today for New Zealand’s animal agriculture sector. What consumers think about our products, how they feel when they eat them, and their perceptions of how it’s produced, have become something of a national obsession.

After all, 40 per cent, or $17.4 billion worth of our annual export income, relies on global consumers continuing to place value on the animal-sourced products we produce – and preferably at a premium.

In this Covid-ravaged world, that export income has never been more important for Aotearoa. . .

Fears for productive farmland – Shawn McAvinue:

An overseas investor is seeking to buy a sheep and beef station in South Otago, sparking fears the productive farmland could become a carbon forestry block and force families out of the community.

A Land Information New Zealand spokeswoman said an application had been lodged at the Overseas Investment Office for the acquisition of the 5499.25ha sheep and beef farm Wisp Hill Station in Owaka Rd in Owaka Valley.

“The application is currently being processed and we do not know when a decision will be made.”

All other information relating to the application remained confidential, she said. . . 

LIC announces deal to divest automatum business:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) announces it has entered into an agreement to divest its automation business to MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (NYSE:MRK) for an amount of NZ$38,100,000 and subject to a working capital adjustment.

The LIC Automation product portfolio joins Allflex Livestock Intelligence (a business unit within MSD Animal Health which has manufacturing facilities at Palmerston North New Zealand).

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary requirements and the transaction is expected to complete on or about 11 June 2021.

The transaction includes the following: . . 

HortNZ welcomes Government Integrated Farm Planning (IFP) guidance:

Horticulture New Zealand says fruit and vegetable growers can meet new farm planning requirements, through adapting existing Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) programmes.

‘The farm planning principles and requirements announced by the Agriculture Minister today largely mirror existing GAP plans, which are integrated farming planning programmes,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘That said, as an industry, we will be reviewing our GAP programmes to see if there are any areas that we need to strengthen.’

Barry says that HortNZ and industry bodies have been working closely with growers on integrated GAP plans for more than 20 years. . .

Waikato Milking Systems at Fireldays 2021: Introducing CowTRAQ collars and  DairyHQ dairy management system:

Dairy farmers operating in a complex, modern industry can find the solutions to the challenges they’re facing, by partnering with Waikato Milking Systems at this year’s National Fieldays.

The dairy technology company will showcase new products aimed at helping farmers make decisions on how to improve efficiency and productivity, to meet the unique conditions of their operation.

There will also be a focus on helping farmers improve the milk quality of their herds, with labour-saving and data collection technology already tested around the world, from large-scale commercial operations to the traditional family-owned farms. . . 


Rural round-up

11/06/2021

West Coast mayors call for halt to all SNA work in wake of Far North protests – Lois Williams:

West Coast mayors are calling for a halt to identifying significant natural areas (SNAs) on private land, after suggestions that the process could be paused in the Far North.

An item on TV One news on Friday night cited a leaked e-mail from the office of Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, indicating that councils which had not already mapped SNAs could hold off until the relevant government policy was finalised later this year.

As recently as 31 May, James Shaw’s office told the Greymouth Star in response to a query that there would be no ‘outs’ for councils when it came to identifying SNAs in their districts.

Since then, there have been strong protests from Māori landowners in the Far North who had received council letters alerting them to potential SNAs on their land. . . 

Can we produce high natural value? Conservation and livestock farming co-existing Prof Iain Gordon – Sarah’s Country:

In this week’s Sarah’s Country’s Opinion Maker we break-down the concept of ‘rewilding’ in a New Zealand concept and the value-add product opportunity with Prof. Iain Gordon, Lincoln University & Australian National University. Iain explains:

  • In Southern Europe, desertification of the land saw farming not financially viable and the farmers moved to the cities. Then there was a build up of biomass, vegetation and large wildfires broke out so the government is paying for farmers to go back and manage the land through grazing livestock!

  • If rewilding approach is adopted, then larger areas can be given over to conservation, because of the potential broader benefits to society from these spaces and the engagement of farmers in practises that are closer to their traditions.

  • In the UK rewilding or conservation grazing is seen as ‘public good’ and good environmental management commanding a premium in restaurants. . .

Orchardist to enjoy weekend sleep-ins – Sally Rae:

Wes Reichel will be entitled to a sleep-in this weekend.

For more than 18 years, Mr Reichel (73) has left his bed at 3.30am on a Saturday, had a coffee and climbed into his produce-laden vehicle and headed to the Otago Farmers Market in Dunedin.

But this past Saturday marked the end of an era, as the Teviot Valley orchardist retired from the market.

While he would continue to grow fruit and vegetables at Te Mahanga Orchard, south of Ettrick, which has been in his family since 1919, he rued he was ‘‘getting too bloody old’’ to continue travelling to Dunedin. . .

Growing professionalism driving awareness of health and safety in shearing industry:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Industry campaigns and growing professionalism are driving awareness of health and safety among shearers,” says national FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalist Joseph Watts. Yet, he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

Joseph, from Waipukurau, will represent East Coast in the national competition. He began his rural career as a shearer, having completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise degree and then played squash professionally for several years.

He went on to gain a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies from Massey University and is now a Technical Field Representative for PGG Wrightson as well as farming some beef cattle on a 30 acre site at Waipukurau, with his partner, vet Lucy Dowsett. . . 

The Co-operative spirit helps Temuka farmer:

When Temuka-based farmer Hamish Pearse suffered a devastating fire in his milking shed in February he witnessed first-hand the benefits of the co-operative spirit of his neighbours, friends and Fonterra.

The fire was discovered around eight o’clock at night and also burnt through the adjoining office and wash room.

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.”

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.” . . 

NZ Apples and Pears chief executive to step down:

NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) chairman, Richard Punter, has announced that the organisation’s chief executive Alan Pollard will step down from his role later this year.

Pollard has been in his role for just over nine years. The industry realised about $340m in export earnings when he started as chief executive in March 2012, and about $920m last year, close to the $1billion by 2022 target that was set in 2013.

“As NZAPI defines what business as usual might look like post-COVID, Alan feels that this is the right time for a new leader to bring their own skills, experience and style to the organisation”, Punter said. “We are deeply appreciative of the contribution that Alan has made to the successful growth of the industry and the grower organisation”. . .


Rural round-up

10/06/2021

Feds says we’ll need more people, more money to take on climate challenges:

Federated Farmers believes the final Climate Change Commission report released today will need to be backed up with significant investment in improving access to science and technology on farm, and the people needed to operate it.

Back in February Feds was relatively upbeat about the report and the challenges it posed for New Zealanders, and their government. But there were areas where Feds felt the analysis and the science was not reliable.

As was said back in February, Feds is wary of any policy direction which assumes tougher regulation will force behaviour change.

“To expect landowners to make land use changes based on the weight of regulation they face, rather than market forces, is unreliable and unlikely to deliver lasting improvements,” Andrew says. . .

Commission advice remain a big ask for farmers :

The Independent Climate Change Commission’s final advice to Government has kept the 2030 methane reduction target at 10 percent, but the job ahead remains a big ask for dairy farmers, according to DairyNZ.

“It is now up to the Government to deliver a credible emissions reduction plan for New Zealand – and the investment in tools and support required to achieve it,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

“A 10 percent reduction for biogenic methane will be incredibly challenging for farmers, but we are committed to playing our part and reducing emissions alongside the rest of the economy.

“We are pleased the goalposts haven’t shifted from the Zero Carbon Act and farmers now have certainty they need to make long-term investment decisions. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand backs Climate Change Commission’s strengthened advice to reduce reliance on carbon farming:

The Climate Change Commission’s advice that New Zealand must cut gross carbon dioxide emissions is encouraging, but still far too many exotic trees are forecast to be planted on productive farmland, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“While we still need to carefully read 400-odd pages of the final advice, we support the Commission telling the Government that New Zealand must reduce its reliance on forestry offsets, in particular from pinus radiata,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“However, the recommended levels of carbon removed by trees is still too high and will lead to swathes of New Zealand sheep and beef farmland being converted to pine trees.

“This will have significant negative impacts for sheep and beef farming and rural communities with knock-on effects for every New Zealand household. . .

A million cows to be slaughtered for what gain?

The Climate Commission’s recommendations that stock number need to be slashed means a million cows will be slaughtered”, said Owen Jennings, Manager of F.A.R.M. – Facts About Ruminant Methane.

“No amount of fancy words and promises hides the grim reality that of the 6.2 million cows currently producing the country’s wealth a million will end up butchered. In fact the Commission and now the Government admit it may be more”.

“F.A.R.M challenges Rod Carr or Minister Shaw to state how much warming will be slowed or stopped by this dastardly move. The cold reality is that they can only truthfully answer ‘none’. . . 

Horticulre’s potential to help New Zealand respond to climate change recognised:

Horticulture New Zealand is pleased that the Climate Change Commission has recognised that land use change to horticulture can help New Zealand respond to climate change, while at the same time providing people with fresh, healthy food.

‘We’re pleased that in its final report to the Government, the Climate Change Commission has increased its estimate of how much land could be converted to horticulture, from 2000 hectares a year to 3500 hectares a year,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘If horticultural can expand more, it will reduce some of the emission reductions required by other parts of the primary sector, and also reduce reliance on forestry offset, which the report acknowledges, ultimately passes the responsibility for achieving reductions to future generations.

‘The report recognises that in order for horticulture to achieve its full potential, investment will be needed to remove barriers such as water availability and access to labour.’ . . 

ExportNZ calls for least cost, high emissions reduction, not high cost:

Catherine Beard, Executive Director of ExportNZ says ExportNZ fully supports New Zealand reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, but emphasises this needs to be an affordable journey to ensure our manufacturers, food producers and exporters maintain their competitiveness internationally.

“New Zealand needs to transition to a low carbon emissions future along with the rest of the world and we already have a great advantage with our high percentage of renewable electricity.

“ExportNZ supports the use of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to cap emissions, allowing trading to find the least cost emission reduction.

“Changes already made to the ETS will ensure the price of units will steadily increase and that free allocations to emission intensive trade exposed businesses will reduce. This will send a price signal to energy users to increase efficiency, lower emissions and offset the ones that are too expensive to reduce until the low emissions technology is available. . . 


There’s a better recipe

10/06/2021

More centralised control, more regulation, more bureaucracy; higher costs, fewer farm animals; less export income, more poverty . . .

That’s the Climate Commission’s recipe.

The New Zealand Initiative has a better one:

The New Zealand Initiative calls on the Government to reject the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations and instead rely on the Emissions Trading Scheme’s cap to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“The Climate Change Commission has based its plan on the idea that the ETS does not cap emissions,” says Dr Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of the New Zealand Initiative. “But an ETS cap is the government’s policy and, since June of last year, it is the law.”

“Only this week, the Climate Change Minister said the government’s reforms of the ETS “put a sinking lid on emissions”,” says Dr Hartwich.

“The Commission’s plan cannot reduce emissions by a single gram since the ETS already caps emissions. You can only cap emissions once,” says Dr Hartwich.

“The Commission’s plan is based on a misunderstanding. The government should ignore the Commission’s advice.”

“The Commission says stockpiled carbon units mean the ETS cap is not fixed. But the government takes that stockpile into account when it decides how many units to auction each year. If the stockpile were not there, the government would auction more units.” The Commission’s claim is wrong.[1]

The New Zealand Initiative supports the commitment to lower emissions and the emissions targets agreed by Parliament.

“Because we support the net-zero goal, we oppose the Climate Change Commission’s plan,” says Matt Burgess, Senior Economist at the New Zealand Initiative.

“The first job of any emissions policy is to reduce emissions. Today’s plan from the Climate Change Commission does not do that.”

“The Climate Change Commission has now made two botched attempts to explain how its plan cuts emissions under an ETS,” says Mr Burgess.

“Households and businesses will unnecessarily pay many times too much to cut emissions because the Climate Change Commission refuses to reduce emissions at least cost,” says Mr Burgess.

“That puts our emissions targets at risk.”

“We can manage afforestation risks without abandoning a least cost approach,” says Mr Burgess.

“Rod Carr had one job, to deliver a credible path to our emissions targets. He has failed in that duty.”

[1] The Ministry for the Environment states auction volumes are set taking into account stockpiled units (April 2021): https://environment.govt.nz/what-government-is-doing/key-initiatives/ets/nz-ets-market/setting-unit-limits-in-the-nz-ets/

The Taxpayers’ Union  says the commission has doubled down on the most egregious and costly aspects of the plan,:

The Climate Change Commission has thrown a bone to a few sectors while doubling down on the most egregious and costly aspects of the plan,” says New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams in response to the release of the Commission’s final report.

The following quotes are attributable to Mr Williams:

High-cost approach: “The Commission doubles down on its decision to avoid a ‘least cost’ approach. In other words, the plan knowingly does far more damage to our economic welfare than is necessary to achieve our emissions targets.”

Obsession with ‘gross’, not ‘net’ emissions: “The Commission barely bothers to justify why it’s focused on slashing ‘gross’ emissions, and not ‘net’ emissions. Slashing gross emissions means radical and costly regulation of local sectors. Meanwhile, affordable ways to reduce net emissions, such as offshore tree-planting, are ruled out.”

Ignores the ETS: “The Commission’s own fine print once again concedes that we are already on track to meet our net zero emissions target using the Emissions Trading Scheme. This should be in the headline of every news story about the plan. If the Commissioners were worried the accuracy of the forecasts, they could have laid out a plan to strengthen the ETS. But instead they’ve used their obsession with ‘gross’ emissions to ignore these forecasts and push new regulations that won’t even reduce emissions due to the way the ETS works.”

If the Commission admits we are on track to meet the zero emissions target with the ETS why does it want to impose such high economic and social costs on us for no environmental gain?

Politicians empowered: “The Commission’s report has been welcomed by the Prime Minister and James Shaw, and it’s not hard to see why. This report urges politicians to be ‘as ambitious as possible in each sector’, and James Shaw is saying that all Ministers will have to think of themselves as Climate Change Ministers. This opens the floodgates for radical interventions at every level of our economy and lifestyles.”

Politicisation by the Commission: “The Commission was set up to ‘take the politics out of climate change mitigation’ but at every turn Rod Carr and his officials have done the opposite. He’s taken it on himself to outline what he has acknowledged are the most radical reforms of the New Zealand economy since the ’80s. Such radical plans deserve real scrutiny, but he’s even politicised that. In today’s lock-up briefings, media and independent analysts were given less than an hour to absorb a 400-page document, and while favoured media were invited, opponents of his draft plan were excluded. That’s outrageous.”

The reforms of the 80s were tough but made the country stronger.

The Commission is prescribing far stronger medicine and it will do little or nothing to treat the environment while imposing unnecessary economic and social pain.


Rural round-up

09/06/2021

Drugs, biofuel and handbags: meat byproducts are big business – Bonnie Flaws:

Meat byproducts such as tallow, collagen and blood are increasingly earning money for farmers; last year $1.6 billion worth of byproducts were exported, 17 per cent of the value of total meat exports, figures from the Meat Industry Association show.

Typically, animals are cut into four quarters for butchery of prime and secondary cuts. But it is what is known in the industry as the “fifth quarter” that has become a new focus for the sector.

Farmer co-operative Alliance Group global sales manager Derek Ramsey is responsible for extracting maximum value from the carcass and making sure every part is used.

Byproducts of the meat industry such as animal fat (tallow) are marketed as ‘‘specialty ingredients and materials’’. . . 

Wallaby eradication efforts being boosted – Rebecca Ryan:

Wallaby control efforts in Otago are being ramped up this month.

With funding from the $27 million national wallaby eradication programme, the Otago Regional Council is targeting the Kakanui Mountains, the Shag River (between Kyburn and Dunback), the Dunstan Mountains and from the Lindis Pass to Lake Hawea, using ground and aerial-based contractors to collect data on where wallabies are present, and destroy those sighted.

ORC biosecurity manager and rural liaison Andrea Howard said the long-term goal was eradication — and the council was optimistic it could be achieved.

“We’re in the privileged position of collecting information about the extent of the problem, rather than having to try and contain the problem,” Ms Howard said. . . 

Government should take lead on where carbon farming is allowed – Waitaki mayor :

The Waitaki mayor wants the government to change the rules on where carbon farming is allowed.

This week, more than 150 people attended a public meeting in Oamaru to hear about what the council can do about new proposals for carbon farming.

That is the practice of keeping the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and instead sequestering (or capturing and storing) it in, for example, pine plantations.. . 

The curious case of kill rates – Nicola Dennis:

This season’s steer and heifer kill has been off the chart, with the latest slaughter statistics (current to May 8) showing over 776,000 slaughtered throughout New Zealand since the season started in October. Compare this with last year’s record-high of 649,000hd for the same period or the five-year average of 618,000.

Depending on how you slice it, there has been an extra 127,000-158,000 of prime cattle in the supply chain this season. This is in spite of a very high prime kill last season, which probably tidied up most of the drought-affected cattle from last spring.

A boost in supply will always negatively impact farm gate beef prices. But, this season’s oversupply coincided with a major slump in processor demand driven by the shuttering of most of the world’s restaurants and by major disruptions in international shipping. This is why farm gate beef prices were struggling to surpass last year’s lockdown prices for much of the season. . . 

Meat the Need marks one-year milestone – Annette Scott:

One year on from its inception, Meat the Need has donated more than 400,000 red meat meals to food banks throughout New Zealand.

Meat the Need became a nationwide charity after being successfully piloted in Christchurch amid the covid-19 crisis.

The charity, created by YOLO Farmer Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures, enables farmers to help feed Kiwi families in need by providing the means for them to donate livestock through its charitable supply chain.

Langford says the high level of support from the farming community, alongside the support from meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF), has been key to the charity’s success. . .

New study helps reassess beef’s environmental impacts:

New research has shown how beef from temperate grassland systems provides key nutrients for human health – and how this data could help reassess the meat’s green impact.

The study examined the three pasture systems most regularly used in temperate regions – permanent pasture, grass and white clover and a short-term monoculture grass ley.

Researchers then analysed datasets from each to determine the levels of key nutrients in beef each system will provide.

Results suggest that each temperate system analysed is broadly comparable, which means temperate pasture-based beef could be treated as a single commodity in future impact considerations. . .


Rural round-up

08/06/2021

Big rain, big pain, big cost – Canterbury’s week of flooding devastation – Martin van Beynen:

An intensively farmed region of Canterbury lying between the north branch of the Ashburton/Hakatere and Hinds rivers was one of the hardest-hit by this week’s floods. Reporter MARTIN VAN BEYNEN spent four days in the area assessing the impact.

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury knew it would be bad.

When the MetService issued a red alert for the Canterbury region on Friday, May 28, they prepared for some sleepless nights and a rough weekend.

The MetService warned that 200-300 millimetres of rain was expected to “accumulate” about the high country between 3pm on Saturday and 11am on Monday. The rain would cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, the agency said. . . 

Flood took my farm – Annette Scott:

The storm has eased and the carnage is emerging on Darryl Butterick’s flood-stricken Ashburton Forks property.

Farming deer, sheep and beef across two separate properties between the North and South branches of the Ashburton River, Butterick was smack bang in the middle, copping the breakout of both rivers.

“We got it right up the ass, that’s for sure,” Butterick said.

Two-thirds of his deer farm, carrying 500 hinds and sire stags, was under water. . . 

Farming leaders focus on Canty clean-up – Neal Wallace:

Offers of help are coming thick and fast for Canterbury flood victims, but farming leaders say they are still trying to collate exactly what is needed and where.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Caroline Amyes says much activity is happening behind the scenes.

“We are all working in the background to collaborate and to have a unified approach,” Amyes said.

The groups coordinating the response include Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trust, rural advisers, Civil Defence, Ministry of Primary Industries, the feed source hotline, Environment Canterbury, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

Amyes says the Rural Support Trust is collating needs and the Government’s $500,000 grant has enabled a co-ordinator to be employed to match offers with need and arrange logistics. . . 

Northland SNA plan: Kāeo residents up in arms at packed public meeting – Peter de Graaf:

A plan to designate more than 40 per cent of the Far North as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) is a big disincentive to people who already look after their land, speaker after speaker told a packed public meeting in Kāeo.

More than 200 people turned out on Thursday evening to share their concerns about a proposed expansion of the district’s SNAs, a day after close to 500 people attended a similar meeting in Kawakawa.

Many of those at the Kāeo meeting said they already protected native bush by planting, pest control and fencing — but the SNA plan, which could limit use of their properties, had given them second thoughts.

Ahipara’s Danny Simms said he loved his land and didn’t need anyone to tell him to look after it. . . 

Global food prices rise at rapid rate in May:

Global food prices rose at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade in May, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has reported.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 127.1 points in May, 4.8% higher than in April and 39.7% higher than in May 2020.

A surge in the international prices of vegetable oils, sugar and cereals led the increase in the index to its highest value since September 2011 and only 7.6% below its all-time peak in nominal terms.

The FAO Cereal Price Index increased 6% from April, led by international maize prices, which averaged 89.9% above their value a year earlier. . .

A season of outstanding quality for New Zealand winegrowers:

After a smaller than usual harvest this year, New Zealand winemakers are excited about the excellent fruit and wine quality, though careful management of inventory is required to meet escalating global demand.

Spring was cooler than usual in 2021, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

The globally renowned wine-growing region of Marlborough was hit especially hard by these frosts. As an area famous for the quality of its wine – particularly Sauvignon Blanc -– this shortage of grapes has created a number of downstream implications for the wine industry, both here in New Zealand as well as internationally. . . 


Rural round-up

07/06/2021

‘More insulting than nothing’ – Govt cash not enough to fix single flood-struck station – Amber Allot:

Farmers in the Canterbury high country are dismissing as “woefully inadequate” a $500,000 fund from the government to restore their stations after they were hammered by rain.

Canterbury was battered by torrential rain on Saturday afternoon, with no reprieve until Monday evening. For some areas, up to half the usual annual rainfall fell in two days.

It has devastated much of the region, leaving huge swathes of land under water, animals dead and properties flooded, forcing many evacuations.

Rail and road infrastructure is also badly damaged, with repairs likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, while the region’s farmers face a huge clean-up bill. . . 

Rabbits not on Government’s radar – Jacqui Dean:

 Last year, $315 million dollars was directed to pest and weed control as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion Jobs for Nature programme. The fact that none of this money has gone towards targeting rabbits leaves me bewildered.

The recent images coming in from Australia of mice in their millions threatening homes and farms across New South Wales has been shocking to many New Zealanders.

But for people across large parts of the South Island, a plague of pests is their reality too, with rabbits running rampant across parts of North Otago, Central Otago and further afield.

Rabbits are an ecological disaster. . . 

Feds survey: Branch closures add to farmers’ bank concerns:

Concern about branch closures can be added to the continued slide in farmers’ satisfaction with their banks, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

More than 1,100 farmers responded to the May survey and 71% of them said they were concerned about bank branch closures. Of those who were concerned, 42% said they needed branches to carry out their business and 56% were worried about the impact of closures on their local communities.

“Provincial towns are under all sorts of pressures, with workforce gaps, farms jobs disappearing as productive land is planted out in pines for carbon credits, competition from on-line sales trends that all traditional retailers face, to name some of the factors,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“Bank branch closures are just another hit on confidence, making doing business in rural areas that much harder, and another reason for young people to look to cities for their future when agriculture is the main way New Zealand earns its living in the world.” . . 

Farmers flock to see Wiltshire wool-less sheep benefits – Maja Burry:

It is hoped a multi-year study on a research farm near Masterton will give farmers a better understanding of the benefits and costs of shifting to a wool-less flock.

Massey University animal science professor Steve Morris said with the increased costs of shearing and ongoing poor returns for strong wool, many farmers were considering a transition to Wiltshire sheep, which naturally shed their fleece.

Morris said farmers were getting about $2-$2.50 a kilogram for crossbred wool and modelling showed prices needed to double for farmers to break even and cover the costs of shearing.

“We’re a long way off that and shearing costs are going up.” . . 

Plant & Food Research mentoring initiative wins HRNZ Award:

Our in-house mentoring initiative won the award for Learning and Development Capability at The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) national awards.

The initiative provides a formal system to create more value and impact from mentoring relationships among staff. Since a successful pilot of the programme in 2018, 70 mentoring relationships have been established

During the programme participants explore their career aspirations with their mentor and create a development plan. Included is a 2-day opening workshop, mentoring sessions throughout the year and a closing workshop. . . 

Biocontrol gene tech set to shred mice population – Samantha Townsend:

A technique that exploits the natural mating process in mice, which has previously been proven in insects is being explored to help reduce populations.

The technology aims to pass on an increased proportion of males genes to reduce the number of females to keep populations at manageable levels.

“The new technology we are trying to develop in mice is the same that we’ve had some success in this area for insects for malaria control,” lead researcher Professor Paul Thomas from the University of Adelaide said.

“The idea is that we using the natural mating process of mice to spread genetic traits through the population.” . . 

 


How little would you pay by EFTPOS?

07/06/2021

A lot of young people don’t carry cash.

When shopping they pay for everything by EFTPOS regardless of how little it might cost.

Rotary Club of Oamaru’s Bookarama taught me that it’s not only the young who do that.

Some older than me used their EFTPOS cards to pay as little as $2.

That surprised me.

I almost always have an emergency $20 note stashed in my wallet, I don’t think I’v every used EFTPOS for anything less than that and I’d always make sure I had cash if I was going somewhere I was likely to pay a small amount.

But the number of people, old and young, paying very small amounts by EFTPOS at Bookarama suggest that this is no longer the norm.


Rural round-up

06/06/2021

Where’s the dollars and sense? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

With all the hype around the benefits of regenerative agriculture, a significant aspect appears to be missing – economics.

We hear about farmer wellbeing. Sometimes we hear about production. But where are the accounts?

If the approach and rethink about systems is so good, why is the income side missing in discussion?

Most of us understand that Country Calendar is now more about lifestyles and people stories than working farms (with the occasional exceptions). RNZ’s CountryLife is tending the same way. Both are focused on motivating an audience, which is mostly urban, to tune in. . . 

Hīkoiof hundreds against far-north SNAs to follow Dame Whina Cooper’s footsteps – Susan Botting:

Panguru great-grandmother Hinerangi Puru (84) will journey in the footsteps of her iconic mother Dame Whina Cooper next week in a hīkoi fighting new Significant Natural Area “land grabs” converging on Far North District Council’s head office.

The Hokianga kuia will be among expected hundreds from across the Far North and beyond in the hīkoi to FNDC’s head office in Kaikohe on 11 June.

“My mother marched to Wellington in 1975 at the age of 83 to the call of ‘not one more acre’,” Puru said of the journey she was also part of.

“Now, nearly 50 years on we’re still having to do the same thing with this hīkoi.” . . 

Carbon forestry’s desirability challenged at meeting – Rebecca Ryan:

“Call it carbon mining.”

Addressing the crowd at a public meeting in Weston on Monday night, Five Forks farmer Jane Smith suggested the word “farming” was no longer used in association with carbon forestry.

“The term farming suggests you are looking after a resource sustainably, long term, into perpetuity — and this certainly is not,” Mrs Smith said.

“So let’s call it carbon mining.” . .

Farmers fill skill gap – David Anderson:

Finding and training skilled workers is a growing problem in many parts of the NZ economy and the sheep and beef farming sector is no exception.

However, instead of sitting around and bemoaning this fact, a number of like-minded sheep and beef producers from around the country have decided to do something about it.

They have established the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) charitable trust, which aims to provide industry-led, on-the-job training and work for young people keen to enter the sheep, beef and deer farming sectors. “Evidence from farm employers and recruitment agencies indicate a considerable shortfall of well-trained people entering the industry over the last decade,” GGF trust board chair John Jackson told Rural News. . . 

Searching for the future on North Island hills – Keith Woodford:

Some weeks back I wrote an article on New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms, focusing on the current situation. I said I would be back as there was more to discuss about both the present and the future. Here, I want to focus more specifically on the North Island hill (Beef+Lamb Class 4) and hard-hill country (Class 3). These land classes comprise around 4000 farms and contain approximately 45 percent of New Zealand’s commercial sheep and beef farms.

Before heading further down that track, I want to share some information supplied by Rob Davison from Beef+Lamb. The 2017 Statistics Department national census indicates there are approximately 26,400 sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, Beef+Lamb estimates that only 9200, or 35 percent thereof, are commercial farms. These commercial farms typically have at least 750 stock units and comprise 97 percent of New Zealand’s sheep production plus 88 percent of the beef cattle production. That means there are another 17,200 lifestyle and hobby farmers.

Although the 17,200 non-commercial farmers may not be particularly important from a production perspective, they are still a very important part of the rural community. Many of these people have a day-job in the agricultural servicing industry. . . 

Cost to beef of China dramas impossible to measure – Shan Goodwin:

It was impossible to measure how much Australia’s geopolitical tensions with China might cost the beef industry because unique market dynamics were at play, senate estimates hearings in Canberra have heard.

Representatives from the red meat industry’s big research, development and marketing provider Meat & Livestock Australia appeared before the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee and fielded questions on everything from global marketing budgets to carbon neutrality.

Managing director Jason Strong said China grew as a beef market for Australia extremely quickly. . .


Rural round-up

05/06/2021

Canterbury flooding: Historic Grigg family farm wiped out by worst rain they’ve ever seen – Kurt Bayer:

Canterbury farmers bordering rivers have been devastated by the hundred-year flood, with lost animals, thousands of kilometres of smashed fencing, and green fields turned overnight into shingle. Surrey Hills Station farmer Arthur Grigg, whose access bridge, driveway and paddocks have been wiped out, says the Government needs to step up after the “extraordinary” event. Kurt Bayer reports.

From the picturesque plateau where he was married just weeks ago in the shadow of the century-old family homestead, Arthur Grigg surveys the damage.

“It’s a kick in the guts,” he says, shaking his head.

The place, Surrey Hills Station near Mt Somers, up until the weekend, had been looking good too. Grigg had been thinking about a mid-winter break, maybe a spot of fishing. . . 

Nothing – not even a hug – Tim GIlbertson:

Jacinda breezed in to town recently, with Damien in tow.

Following his triumphant decapitation of the live export trade, Damien was presumably looking for another prospering rural enterprise to put the taiaha into. But mother nature’s drought is successfully doing the job for him. So, he would have left disappointed.

The PM greeted local councillors and discussed the success of the mayoral task force for jobs, which has created 12 new positions. Loud applause. Then she visited a regenerative dairy farm.

What she did not do was look out the window of the ministerial BMW and say: “My God! You are having another massive drought leading to the massive long term economic and social damage to the entire region. We must act on water storage at once!” . .

Adopting a plant-based diet can help shrink a person’s carbon footprint, but a new study finds that improving the efficiency of livestock production will be an even more effective strategy for reducing global methane emissions.

The study looked at the intensity of methane emissions from livestock production around the world – in other words, how much methane is released for each kilogram of animal protein produced – and made projections for future emissions.

The authors found in the past two decades, advances in farming had made it possible to produce meat, eggs and milk with an increasingly smaller methane footprint.

Some countries, however, had not had access to the technology enabling these advances. . . 

Trophy win elates Trust boss -Peter Burke:

Tataiwhetu Trust chairman Paki Nikora is elated to have won this year’s Ahuwhenua trophy for the top Maori dairy farm. He never thought the trust would reach such heights in the agricultural sector.

Nikora says Maori tend to belittle themselves all the time. However, when push came to shove, the trust decided to give it a go and enter the competition. There were scenes of great excitement as Tataiwhetu, which runs an organic dairy farm in the Ruatoki Valley, south of Whakatane, was announced the winner and presented with the trophy by the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

When Nikora was presented with the trophy there were scenes of great jubilation as whānau came on stage to join in the celebrations, which included waiata and a haka.

Tataiwhetu runs 432 Kiwi cross cows and carries 188 replacement stock on its two support blocks. They milk once-a-day with the herd producing 129,140 kgMS a year. . . 

Calf rearing workshops to run through-out New Zealand:

Practical workshops on successful calf rearing by Dairy Women’s Network and SealesWinslow are ensuring New Zealand farmers are entering the season confidently with the right tools and knowledge to raise healthy calves.

Calf rearing is a critical time for dairy farmers, with success determined by the quality and management of newborn calves from the time of birth through to 12 weeks of age.

Each of the workshops will focus on the best practice behind providing food and shelter for newborns, with SealesWinslow’s Nutrition and Quality Manager, Natalie Hughes, presenting on calf housing and pen design for optimal health and stimulation. 

“During the workshops we’ll explore the latest research and look at how we translate this into practical tips and advice to set you up for a successful calf season,” said Hughes. . .

Farm working to give back more than it takes – Curtis Baines:

A farm on the outskirts of Melbourne is making waves within its local community, and it’s all thanks to an initiative connecting producers with consumers.

Sunbury’s Lakey Farms produces pastured lamb, beef, goat, mutton and wine.

The farm works with the philosophy that it puts back more than it takes, through ethical treatment of livestock and regenerative farming.

Lakey Farms owner John Lakey believes in the ideology that animals – particularly livestock – deserve fair treatment and an abundance of roaming space. . . 


Rural round-up

04/06/2021

Naked, bleeding and frozen: man’s quick thinking saves him from floodwaters – Charlie O’Mannin:

A South Canterbury man’s clear thinking left him naked and cold but alive, after he was swept into floodwaters in the early hours of Monday morning.

David Blair had not slept for 24 hours as he went between his farm and another property he owns in Pit Rd, Arundel, a rural community near Geraldine, 45 minutes before dawn on Monday morning.

Floodwaters were flowing directly under his property and Blair had been working to clear debris that might block the flow. As the flow increased, he decided he needed to take off a board under the house which was being blocked up with flotsam.

Blair drove back to his house to get a pinch bar on his quad bike. On his return he parked in the same place on the road he had previously, put his brakes on, and got off his bike. . . 

Help with roads, rivers and rubble a priority as farmers take stock of flood devastation – Martin van Beynen and Charlie Gates:

Farmer Darryl Butterick has lost five of his sire stags but his neighbour’s cows were the top of his many worries as he surveyed flood damage to his beef, deer and sheep farm in Greenstreet, about 20 minutes inland from Ashburton.

The one-year-old heifers from the neighbouring farm of Paul Adams had been swept onto his property by flood waters, and began to appear as the water continued to recede.

Unfortunately most were dead, many caught in trees.

Butterick said removing the dead heifers was a priority as they would contaminate ponds of water on the farm as they decomposed. Stock were drinking the water and people were working in it. . . 

Winter feed concerns after floods – Sally Rae:

Severe flooding in Canterbury poses a risk for the new dairy season’s production outlook.

In Westpac’s latest dairy update, senior agri-economist Nathan Penny said many farmers had lost winter feed during the floods and feed stores were already low given earlier dry conditions.

While that might not necessarily impact production levels from spring, any additional adverse weather events certainly would, Mr Penny said.

The new season officially began on Tuesday and final production data for the 2020-21 season was still to be released, but recent data suggested the season had ended on a strong note. . . 

Changes forced on them turning out for the best – Alice Scott:

While they may not be farming sheep or milking cows, Warren McSkimming and his wife Jodie have tight connections to the Maniototo, where Mr McSkimming grew up.

Pre-Covid they were running successful businesses servicing the tourism sector. Post-Covid, they have had to dust themselves off and carry on.

Mr McSkimming was born and raised in Oturehua. He has fond memories of a free-range childhood on the family farm and plenty of backyard cricket. He represented the Otago Volts for 12 years and had stints for the New Zealand Under-20 side and New Zealand A team.

“I never got that elusive black cap,” he said. . . 

Fast rise to fame for young farmer – Peter Burke:

He’s only been in the dairy industry for just over a year, but that hasn’t stopped 26-year-old Quinn Morgan from taking out the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer of the year award.

Morgan is in his first season of farming, working as a farm assistant for Sam and Kate Moore on their 155ha farm in Otakiri near Whakatane, where they milk 570 cross breed cows.

The other two finalists were Anahera Hale and Ben Purua. Morgan says he felt humbled at winning the award. He says not everyone gets such a good start as he did – especially getting such good employers.

It was a big week for him and his wife Samantha and he is grateful for the opportunities. . .

Ohaeawai Butchery’s Basil Stewart adapts business through changing times – Donna Russell:

Rural butcher Basil Stewart is a bit of a Northland identity.

Stewart, who runs the Ohaeawai Butchery with his wife, Christine, started learning his craft when he was 18 and worked for the former owner Wyn Penney three times at three different locations before taking over the business in 2010.

He has worked for 32 years in the building, which is at the hub of Ohaeawai. The small village is at the junction of State Highway One and State Highway 12 about 11km east of Kaikohe.

The building was built in the early 1940s and its high ceilings and building features are evocative of the period. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/06/2021

The climate-change dilemma facing dairy farmers – milk more cows or cull the herd – is politically challenging, too – Point of Order:

From one Wellington  platform  Reserve  Bank governor Adrian  Orr is  telling  the  country   strong global demand for NZ primary products is ensuring the economy remains resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic and is helping offset tourism losses. He  says  Fonterra’s  forecast  of a  record opening milk price is “very good news” and is included in the bank’s projections.

From another platform, Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr told hundreds of people – including farmers – at an agricultural climate change conference that for the agricultural sector there would be no way to wriggle out of slashing emissions.

Carr said agriculture made up about half of NZ’s emissions, and this needed to be reduced to meet climate obligations.International customers would go elsewhere, costing the economy billions of dollars in the coming years.

So  here’s  the  problem: . . 

Time for industry to be heard, leader says – Sally Rae:

“Maybe enough is enough.”

Otago Merino Association chairwoman Jayne Reed, from Cloudy Peak Station, near Tarras, was referring to the never-before-seen pressures the agricultural sector was facing, in her address to the annual merino awards.

“Not the usual seasonal weather worries, commodity price fluctuations and the odd flustering visit from the bank manager, which our fathers dealt with, but an increasingly scary onslaught of bureaucratic intervention … written in some cases by young idealistic policy makers who have never stepped on a farm.

“Our urban neighbours are telling us how to manage our outcomes without any real understanding of what 99% of us are working towards and this is the really disappointing part. . . 

Rural leaders plead to NZTA for second Ashburton bridge plans – Adam Burns:

Damaging floods in Ashburton have sparked calls for urgency around a second bridge by the district’s rural leaders, with the town’s sole overpass at risk.

The Ashburton River Bridge had to be closed for most of yesterday after reports of slumping. It has reopened to light vehicles only, but further testing for heavy vehicles is expected later.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not be drawn on questions around the second bridge issue when she fronted media in Ashburton yesterday.

“The priority right now is connecting people with Ashburton,” Ardern said. . . 

Perriam’s vision for breed recognised with family award – Sally Rae:

John Perriam is a man of vision, risk and “you can do it” approach.

Through his love for merino sheep and his home, Bendigo Station, he had “given it his all” and made a significant difference to the New Zealand merino industry.

That was his daughter Christina Grant reflecting on the pivotal role her father has played in the industry, during the Otago Merino Association’s awards evening.

She was presenting him with the Heather Perriam Memorial Trophy, named in memory of his late wife and her mother, and presented for outstanding service to the merino industry. . . 

Synlait braces for heavy loss – Sudesh Kissun:

Listed Canterbury milk processor Synlait is heading towards its first financial loss ever, but is telling its farmer suppliers not to worry.

The company revealed last week that it now expects to make a net loss of between $20 million and $30 million for the financial year ending this July. Last year, Synlait recorded a net profit of $75 million.

The milk processor has had a challenging 18 months. Key stakeholder, and one of its major customers, the a2 Milk company downgraded its forecasts because of disrupted markets and problems with its key Chinese market – leaving Synlait with large inventories of base powder and infant formula.

Synlait co-founder John Penno has returned to his former role of chief executive and is leading a reset of the business. . .

Are we running out of New Zealand wine? :

New Zealand winegrowers are becoming increasingly concerned about running out of wine after a smaller harvest than usual this year. The famous wine-growing region of Marlborough was especially hard hit by this issue. As an area famous for its excellent quality wine – particularly sauvignon blanc – that gets supplied across the country as well as internationally, this lack of grapes could potentially be disastrous for the wine industry as a whole.

Last year, spring was cooler than usual, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

Additionally, the New Zealand wine industry usually relies on the influx of seasonal workers on working holidays who are ready and willing to help with the harvest. With Covid closing the borders, these people have not been able to enter the country in the past year. Attracting New Zealanders into these roles has proved far trickier for many growers, especially those in more rural areas. . . 

 


Perspective

03/06/2021


Rural round-up

02/06/2021

‘You’ve just gotta tough it out’: Heavy rain, flooding challenges high country farmers – Lee Kenny:

Parts of Mid-Canterbury remain completely cut off, but the job of managing huge rural stations continues. LEE KENNY reports.

Graham Jones has worked at Arrowsmith Station for 11 years and says he’s never seen conditions as bad as this.

“I’ve seen big snows, a lot of water up here. It’s very hard farming up here, but you’ve just gotta tough it out.”

“This wet weather’s just made it harder.” . . 

Crop farmer counts high cost of rain – Matthew Littlewood:

Timaru farmer Graham Talbot fears many of his recently sown crops have been “drowned out” by the recent heavy rain.

“There’s just so much rain in the system that the farm is completely waterlogged,” Talbot said.

The Claremont farmer, estimated about 30 hectares of his 600ha farm would have been “completely submerged”.

“That’s probably going to cost us a good $70,000 for that alone when it comes to resowing and repair costs. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to seek support:

DairyNZ is encouraging Canterbury farmers to look out for each other and access support agencies for assistance amid flooding in the region.

“We have seen farmers working well together and supporting their neighbours through this weather event – it’s always encouraging to see farmers and rural communities working together in times of need,” said DairyNZ head of the South Island, Tony Finch.

“Good advance warning did enable many farmers to be prepared but we are working closely to monitor the situation and encourage farmers to keep farm teams and neighbours safe.”

With Moving Day currently also underway, many Canterbury farmers are attempting to shift properties and livestock.

Funding boost for flood-stricken farmers and growers :

A state of emergency has been declared for the flood-stricken Canterbury region, as farmers begin the clean-up after devastating heavy rain.

From Friday to Monday morning, a massive 545mm of rain was recorded at Mt Somers in the Canterbury high country, MetService said, while the main centres of Christchurch (110mm), Ashburton (155mm), and Timaru (105mm) – were inundated over the same period.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today declared an adverse event for the Canterbury region, unlocking government support for farmers and growers.

“My decision to classify this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures,” Mr O’Connor said during his visit to Canterbury with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers today. . .

Whatever it takes – Tony Benny:

An immigrant from Argentina never expected dairy farming would be a mind-blowing yet rewarding career.

Sitting at home in Argentina, Maria Alvarez hit the refresh button on her computer several times before she reached the most important screen of all – payment. At that moment she knew had made it through the process, and would soon be winging her way across the ocean to New Zealand.

Maria grew up on a beef farm in Argentina and graduated from university with a Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering. She worked for a large crop farming company before coming to NZ on a working holiday, having been lucky to secure one of the 1000 working holiday visas granted to Argentinians each year.

“At 7am NZ time on a certain date, they open the visa application and everybody’s sitting at home in front of their computer. You have to refresh and refresh because the system sort of collapses with so many people trying and then if you make it through to the payment, you make it,” Maria says. . .

Zespri lifts profit to $290.5m after selling $3.5bn of kiwifruit but is running into headwinds – Point of Order:

Like  the  dairy  industry’s  Fonterra, the  kiwifruit  industry’s  giant  Zespri  has  had  a  golden  year.  It  has  reported  record returns  for 2020-21, with  a  net  profit  of  $290.5m (up $90m  from the  previous  year)   after  achieving total fruit  sales revenue  of  $3.5bn  (up 14%).

It  further highlights the strength of NZ’s rural  economy during  a  period  when the  Covid-19 pandemic  underlined the  fragility of  global  trade.

Zespri’s  global sale volumes were up 10% on last season to 181.5m trays.

The company said increased sales, the ongoing expansion of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit production and great quality fruit lay behind the strong returns. . . 

Stud properties a valuable part of farm landscape:

The business of cattle breeding in New Zealand is one rich with history and talent, and while remaining highly competitive, the stud breeding sector is also playing a vital role in helping New Zealand beef also remain competitive and sustainable on a world stage.

Collectively the breed societies that stud breeders belong to have also done much to recognise advances in science, taking the process of selecting animals to a deeper level than simply past dam performance and “gut feel.”

Advances in science mean breeders can now call on genomics to identify some of the preferred traits that determine productivity before sire stock even reach maturity.

The passion and commitment breeders bring to their respective animal breeds has meant New Zealand farmers have been blessed with genetics that often reflect the farming environment of a particular region, or even district. . . 


Rural round-up

01/06/2021

Evacuated farmer took no risks after losing 100 cows to flooding in 2009:

A North Canterbury farmer who had to evacuate today says the intense deluge has brought back memories of floods which washed away nearly 100 of his cows 12 years ago.

More than 240 residents in Waimakariri district have been told to evacuate. They include 102 housesholds in the Ashley River area, eight near Kairaki Beach and 133 near Eyre River – including Peter Schouten’s farm.

Schouten’s farm is 800m from the river, and some of his properties share their boundary with the river.

He recorded 150mm of rain up until 7pm on Sunday evening, shortly before he received an alert telling him to evacuate. They were in the process of packing up and leaving, when the police knocked on the door. Schouten has headed to his parent’s place “just around the corner”. . . 

Zespri profit soars to $290m despite ‘incredibly difficult conditions’ :

Kiwifruit giant Zespri has reported record returns for the 2020-21 season.

The company has reported a net profit after tax of $290.5 million – up $90m on the previous year.

Total global fruit sales revenue also grew to $3.58 billion – up 14 percent – and global sale volumes were up 10 percent on last season to 181.5 million trays.

The company said increased sales, the ongoing expansion of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit production and great quality fruit underpinned the strong returns. . .

Chuffed to hand over wool reins – Sally Rae:

Change is in the air at long-established wool business Brian Redding Ltd which has been operating in Gore since the early 1960s, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

When it came to being in business, Jim Paterson’s parents gave him some good advice.

They drilled into him the importance of being “dead straight” in a community like Gore, saying reputation was everything.

And it was advice he heeded during more than four decades in the wool industry . . . 

Feed wheat and barley going strong but uncertainty remains around milling wheat:

Below average rainfall across many regions was a factor in the average 3% drop in yields for the six main arable crops in the 2020/21 season.

The latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) report, based on 1 April survey results, also found that the number of hectares harvested was down 3% (-3183ha), with the net result being a 6% decrease in total tonnage compared to the previous season.

Particularly marked drops in tonnages were seen with feed wheat (down 9%) and malting barley (down 21%) while tonnages of milling oats and feed oats jumped 31% and 60% respectively. . . 

Safety profile – ensure people are well trained for all the tasks they need to do:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Working on massive farming operations in the United States highlighted the importance of New Zealand’s focus on health and safety for Dale McAlwee.

Dale, Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year, grew up near Timaru on the farm that’s been in his family for over a century. After gaining a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, he headed to the US for a year. He is now assistant manager at Singletree Dairies, a 2500 cow farm five minutes north east of Ashburton.

“In the US, I was working in massive farming operations for the wheat harvest. There were very large staff teams and the main focus was on employing experienced people who were expected to already have the knowledge to work safely with heavy machinery.

Nelson’s Seifried Estate takes top honours for sauvignon blanc:

Nelson’s Seifried Estate family winery has taken top honours for its 2020 Sauvignon Blanc at the prestigious Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2021, winning the title of Guala Closures Champion Sauvignon Blanc.

This newest accolade from the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards adds to the impressive medal tally for Seifried Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2020, which has already been awarded ‘Best of Show New Zealand’ at the Mundus Vini Tasting in Germany 2020, Gold in the AWC Vienna 2020 International Wine Challenge, Gold in the Melbourne International Wine Competition 2020, and was rated 95/100 by Oz Clarke of Three Wine Men in the UK – his highest scoring wine of the New Zealand tasting!

“We are really quite blown away by this latest recognition of our 2020 Sauvignon Blanc,” says co-winemaker Heidi Seifried-Houghton. “With Sauvignon Blanc making up 63% of New Zealand’s total wine production, our competition was fierce!” . . 


Happy World Milk Day

01/06/2021

Raise a glass to milk* for its contribution to nutrition and the economy on World Milk Day:

In 2001, World Milk Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food, and to celebrate the dairy sector. Each year since, the benefits of milk and dairy products have been actively promoted around the world, including how dairy supports the livelihoods of one billion people. 

To help create a positive stream of conversation, the 2021 celebrations will begin with the Enjoy Dairy Rally May 29 – 31, culminating with World Milk Day on Tuesday, June 1. This year, our theme will focus on Sustainability in the dairy sector with messages around the environment, nutrition and socio-economics. In doing so we will re-introduce dairy farming to the world. . . 

 

*Or if like me, you don’t’ drink milk, celebrate the day by using it in your cooking or with butter and/or cheese instead.


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


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