Rural round-up

19/05/2022

Drought in rural South Auckland pushing up food prices, growers say – Stephen Forbes:

Vegetable growers in Auckland’s rural south say drought conditions are playing havoc with their day-to-day operations and will only add to increased prices for consumers.

It follows the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) declaring the drought a “medium-scale adverse event” in south Auckland and the Waikato on Monday, along with a support package for affected farmers and growers.

South Auckland’s horticulture industry is centred on the Pukekohe Hub, 4359 hectares of some of New Zealand’s most fertile and productive land.

According to Auckland Council’s Climate Action Framework released in 2019 it generates $327 million a year, which is the equivalent of 26 percent of NZ’s total domestic value of vegetable production. . . 

Mass pig graves being dug as pig industry on point of collapse

Pig farmers say the industry is in crisis, with some fearing they’ll have to kill and dump animals as the pork market falls apart.

Mass imports at cheap prices, along with the pandemic fallout has seen demand for local products all but stop.

Pig farmer Hamish Mee and his wife Vicki are preparing for the worst.

An order for 219 pigs to leave their Methven farm on Sunday  . . 

Traditional German sausage stall stopping traffic in rural Taranaki – Robin Martin:

It has been dubbed the “little butchery in the middle of nowhere” – a traditional German sausage outlet that is stopping traffic in remote North Taranaki.

Bratwurst Bros has set up shop alongside State Highway 3 at Urutī – just under an hour’s drive from New Plymouth.

Urutī – population 800 – is less a settlement than a valley that offers motorists a rare opportunity to pass on this stretch of SH3.

Only about 2000 vehicles pass through on an average day. . . 

Boost for small towns as full calendar of shearing events planned – Kim Moodie:

Hopes are high for the return of competitive shearing events after two years of Covid-19 restrictions saw all but 14 events abandoned last season.

Organisers are confident they can go ahead with all 59 shearing sports competitions this season, which runs from October to April.

New Zealand shearing legend Sir David Fagan, who’s also the chairman of Shearing Sports NZ, said spots were also up for grabs to represent the country at the Royal Highland Show in Scotland next year.

“The places in the team up for grabs are two machine shearers, blades shearers and two woolhandlers in the Wools of New Zealand team,” he said. . . 

Kiwi milk company calls for the government to rethink recycling plan :

A New Zealand milk producer is calling for the Government to standardise kerbside recycling across the country, while sparing thousands of tonnes of packaging from going to landfill.

Otis, the New Zealand oat milk producer, says currently what is accepted for recycling in Hamilton is different to Dunedin, or Invercargill, Auckland or Wellington. The business says standardisation will provide greater clarity to New Zealanders and increase recycling habits.

The Kiwi start-up highlights most plant-based milks like Otis are packaged in Liquid Paper board packaging (LPB, commonly known as Tetra Pak) which has been excluded from the Government’s proposed kerbside recycling plan despite being shown to be the lowest carbon packaging option available, and capable of being made completely free of fossil fuels.

Hayley Pardoe, Otis head of marketing and sustainability, believes the Government’s recycling proposal needs to set the course for how we manage packaging resources through our economy for the coming next decades, yet some of the plan is at odds with the low carbon, circular future that New Zealanders are demanding. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/05/2022

Dairy event will be all about change – Sally Rae:

Dynamic.

That is the theme of the South Island’s largest dairy event, SIDE 2022, which is being held in Oamaru on June 8-9.

It was the first time the event had been held in the town and it was expected to attract more than 350 farmers, rural professionals and sponsors.

Event committee member Rebecca Finlay, who came up with the theme, said dairy farmers needed to be dynamic — they could not be stuck in their ways.

There was constant change as they dealt with the likes of new compliance and regulations and they had to be agile and responsive to that change. . .

Exile on Main Street – Neal Wallace:

This week, Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace investigate how two different districts, Opotiki and Gore, are trying to encourage new workers and address an ageing workforce while facing a static or falling population.

New Zealand’s rural-led economic recovery is being hamstrung by a shortage of working-age staff, an inability to retain people and intergenerational social issues.

Some rural districts already struggling for staff face even greater labour challenges in the coming years if demographic predictions proved accurate.

Work by retired University of Waikato demography professor Dr Natalie Jackson, is forecasting that in the next decade 75% of the country’s regional authorities will experience a decline in their working age population as young people either leave for bigger urban centres or are not being born. . . .

The ag-sector’s Budget 2022 wish list is for science – Business Desk:

If increasing productivity is the name of the government’s game, then the agriculture sector’s wish list for budget 2022 is all about science. 

The farming sector helped bankroll the economy through covid-19, generating 30% of the country’s export income at a time when sectors like tourism were at a standstill.

Rather than being rewarded, however, the sector is under immense pressure from rising costs, scarce labour and, increasingly, regulation and compliance.  

You’d be hard-pressed to find a farmer who doesn’t want to increase productivity and farm for better environmental outcomes but – across the board – they want more research and development to help them get there. . .

A sick joke – Rural News:

When the Covid pandemic broke out over two years ago, Jacinda Ardern waxed lyrical about the importance of the rural-based primary sector and how it would pull the NZ economy through the tough times ahead.

It has delivered on that with interest.

The sector has come together like never before, from workers on farms, in orchards and processing plants – not to mention the marketers and managers who have got our product to market on time and at good prices.

However, it’s come at a price: people in rural NZ are fatigued and are having to cope with the additional burden of a bundle of stressful compliance. . . 

All hands on deck – Peter Burke:

Growers are mucking in and helping staff to pick this year’s kiwifruit crop. At this point, the Ruby Red variety has all been picked and about a third of the gold crop has also been harvested, with workers now starting to pick the green crop.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond told Hort News that everyone in the industry is working together to ensure the crop gets picked this season.

He says many growers themselves have been out in the orchards with the picking crew and also helping out in pack houses.

Bond says there have been instances of staff who normally just pick the fruit, doing shifts in the pack houses on wet days when it’s not possible to pick fruit. . . .

2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winner taking all opportunities:

For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

The 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year is driven, inspirational and a great example of a farmer who is taking every opportunity the New Zealand dairy industry offers.

Will Green was named the 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, the region’s Jaspal Singh became the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on Saturday, in front of more than 540 people, making it the largest dinner to be held at the new venue since opening. . . 

Fonterra responsible dairying award winner lead change through innovation :

Craigmore Farming Services, Canterbury/North Otago were named the 2022 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners during the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on Saturday night and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

 The prestigious award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra to recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are respected by their fellow farmers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

“It was a privilege to engage with all three finalists and the quality of the presentations was exceptional,” says head judge Conall Buchanan.

Fellow judge Charlotte Rutherford from Fonterra, agrees. “The future of the industry feels in such good hands when you are able to spend time with people like our finalists.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/05/2022

Farmers overwhelmed by new regs – Peter Burke:

Farmers are getting overwhelmed by all the new regulations and compliance requirements they are facing now and in the future.

Leading farm consultant Phil Journeaux, of AgFirst, told Rural News that farming is a complicated enough business as it is. But he says the compliance cost on farm – in terms of time and paperwork – is growing rapidly and with the advent of all the water, animal welfare and labour regulations, the pressure is on farmers.

“I have been doing a lot of work in the last few years around greenhouse gas emissions, which is very complicated and this has yet to really hit farmers,” Journeaux explains.

“I don’t think they (farmers) understand how much paperwork and compliance they will be required to do. This whole compliance thing is becoming a really big component of farming and that’s why a lot of farmers are reaching for advisors to help them work it through.” . . 

New regulations compel consents for 2023 crops – Richard Rennie:

As many farmers grapple with a looming feed crisis this winter, planning for next winter may also demand attention sooner rather than later with changes in the winter grazing regulations effective from November 1.

The revised intensive winter grazing (IWG) regulations finalised last month may require some farmers to apply for resource consent to winter graze crops on their farm and timelines are getting tight to ensure consent is granted before crops are sown.

AgFirst director of farm consulting James Allen says time can run surprisingly short for a feed supply that is not needed for another 12 months, once resource consent application processes are factored in.

“Basically, a resource consent is required if you are looking at a new wintering programme, there are a series of conditions you have to meet and it’s likely it will take time to ensure you meet them.” . . 

‘Red wave’ sweeps national dairy awards – Sudesh Kissun:

A red wave swept through the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards last night.

And the 2022 Share Farmer of the Year Will Green rightly pointed out in his acceptance speech that red wave wasn’t about the Labour Party but Canterbury. For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/North Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

Joining Green on the podium last night, Jaspal Singh, the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000. . . 

All hands to the vine for harvest – Ashley Smyth :

A warm, dry autumn has been the saving grace for winegrowers in the Waitaki this season.

Harvest was in full swing in the Waitaki Valley this week, and it had been an ‘‘atypical’’ season for the region, new Waitaki Valley Winegrowers Association chairman Dave Sutton said.

‘‘It’s been more of a La Nina rain pattern this year, which has meant a lot of easterly rainfall, so a lot of the winegrowing regions on the East Coast — for example Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Waiheke Island — they’ve seen a lot more rainfall.

‘‘Things were looking a little bit grim, but we’ve had a beautiful ripening period, late, and it’s actually saved the vintage, I think. . . 

Calmer farming through pressure and change :

A new online programme – Know your Mindset. Do what Matters – is boosting the ability of rural communities to handle pressure and change. Dairy farmer Matt Goodwin discusses how it’s helped him.

Matt Goodwin has plenty on his plate. 

He oversees not just one farm, but two – the family’s South Canterbury dairy operation comprises a 600-cow farm and a 300-cow farm. 

It’s a big job, but Matt loves dairying.  . . 

Glass ceiling obliterated by Taupō dairy farm managers – Rachel Canning:

Three Taupō women are proving their doubters wrong as they prepare for their first season as managers of dairy farms.

The trio will each manage Pāmu Farms dairy farms located just out of Taupō.

When they started out, two had never set foot on a dairy farm and one grew up on a sheep and beef farm. One had family members who doubted she would cope with the mud, the stink, and hours outside in the cold.

Resolution Dairy Unit manager Mona Cable, Quarry Dairy Unit manager Liza Arnold and Burgess Dairy Unit manager Carol Cuttance have worked their way up from the bottom, spent time “riding the train” while their children were young, taken up study opportunities to learn about milking and effluent management systems, and all three say they still experience moments of self-doubt. . . 

 


Redpeace hates cows

17/05/2022

When raging inflation and high debt requires the government to spend every cent wisely, its Emissions Reduction Plan falls short:

National supports the Government’s emissions budgets and emissions targets but is concerned that today’s Emissions Reduction Plan is a poor use of taxpayers’ money, says Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“We support the goal of reducing emissions in the economy, but see little evidence that this Government will be able to deliver.

“Too much of the new spending will go to corporate welfare and more working groups.

“The Government is proposing to give hundreds of millions of dollars to companies for investments they should be making anyway.

“We expect those companies to be cutting their emissions without help from taxpayers. A significant part of the Government’s plan looks like a corporate carbon bailout.

“There are elements of the plan that we welcome, including investment in research to reduce agriculture emissions and in expanding options for carbons sinks including native forests and blue carbon.

“However, much of the plan lacks the details we would expect to see after more than two years of work.

“This plan is classic Labour. In the middle of a cost of living crisis, Grant Robertson’s big idea is to spend millions of dollars for more consultants, more working groups, and poorly focused initiatives, with no real milestones for success.

“It is disappointing to see poor quality spending and corporate welfare at a time when New Zealanders’ back pockets are hurting and they want assurance their money is being carefully spent.

“Today’s plan will only add to the perception that this Government talks a big game but does not deliver – whether for the climate or housing or mental health or anything else.”

The Taxpayers’ Union makes a similar point about misspending:

James Shaw is exploiting the commentariat’s failure to understand the Emissions Trading Scheme in order to justify costly middle class welfare and handouts for big business, says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke.

On cash for clunkers:

“This is brazen middle class welfare dressed up as climate action,” says Mr Houlbrooke. “Giving a fat cash enticement for New Zealanders to switch to electric vehicles is unlikely to benefit poorer households, who will not be in the market for an electric vehicle (even a subsidised one). In fact, scrapping used cars will drive up costs for the poor due to reduced supply in the used market.”

“When this policy was tried in the US, it mainly ended up subsidising purchases that would have happened anyway.”

On corporate welfare:

“Shaw has announced he’s sloshing another $650 million into the ‘decarbonising industry’ corporate welfare fund. This is the pot of money that has seen millions handed over to the likes of Silver Fern Farms, ANZCO, and DB Breweries so that they can upgrade their heating systems. Smaller competitors never seem to get a look in. Regardless, as we have previously pointed out, the funding is redundant: based on the Government’s own numbers, big businesses already have a strong enough incentive to replace boilers and avoid ETS levies.”

Handouts from the GIDI fund so far can be browsed here: Round 1Round 2Round 3.

On the elephant in the room:

“The vast majority of interventions announced today will fail to reduce emissions. That’s because, outside of agriculture, New Zealand’s emissions are capped and traded under the Emissions Trading Scheme. Interventions to force down emissions in say, transport, merely free up carbon credits to be burnt in other sectors.”

“As the United Nations’ IPCC put it: if a cap-and- trade system has a sufficiently stringent cap then other policies such as renewable subsidies have no further impact on total greenhouse emissions. Why does James Shaw think he knows better than the UN’s international climate experts? Of course, simply using the ETS to efficiently reduce emissions would make for fewer announcements and fewer photo-ops with schoolkids, cycleways, and electric vehicles.”

Once again the government shows it doesn’t understand the ETS and the waterbed effect of reductions of emissions in one area allowing increases in another for no net improvement.

However, there is some good in the Emissions Reduction Plan:

Federated Farmers is pleased the government has recognised solutions to agricultural emissions lie in new technologies and tools, and is stepping up investment on that front.

“Nitrate and methane inhibitors, gene editing, animals bred for their lower methane ‘burping’ – they’re the kind of advances that will enable New Zealand’s farming sector to continue to perform for the nation’s economy while maintaining our world-leading meat and dairy carbon footprint,” Feds President and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

It will be important to understand how the proposed new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions fits with existing bodies such as the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Pastoral GHG Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the international bodies New Zealand partners with, such as the Global Research Alliance.

“New Zealand farmers have been funding millions of dollars into greenhouse gas mitigation tools since 2003 via the PGGRC,” Andrew said.

Do we need another organisation when all of these are already doing good work?

It will also be crucial that our regulatory framework is worked on at the same time as acceleration of research and commercialisation of these tools “so that when they’re ready, we can get on with using them.

“At present there is no category to register feed inhibitors for use on our farms, for example,” Andrew said.

“And Feds again make the point we’ve made many times previously – serious investigation and society-wide discussion is needed on the role genetic technologies – particular gene editing – can play in the thorny environmental issues confronting us. Feds supports giving food producers and consumers the choice with gene editing technology.

“If we are not open to all solutions, we risk losing our world-leading emissions footprint as other countries embrace the innovation we are ignoring.”

Andrew said those who continue to claim the answer lies in just cutting fertiliser and going totally organic need to look at what has just happened in Sri Lanka. “That’s the short-sighted path that nation’s government pursued and now they’re in a food and economic crisis they’re desperate to reverse and get back to where they were.”

That short-sighted path is the one that GreenRedpeace wants:

Greenpeace has dubbed the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan an ‘Omissions Ridiculous Plan’, for its failure to address New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – the dairy industry.

Lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose says, “Intensive dairying is the number one cause of climate pollution in Aotearoa, so it’s absolutely staggering to see that the Emissions Reduction Plan fails to include policy that would reduce cow numbers or phase out the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser that drives emissions.””This Emissions Reduction plan is not credible because it fails to deal with the dirty great cow in the room – New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – intensive dairy,” says Rose.

Where’s the evidence that cows are the number one cause of climate pollution. Does Redpeace understand the difference between methane and CO2?

Despite initial Climate Commission recommendations that New Zealand needed to reduce the livestock herd and area farmed, the Government has not included these policies in the plan. Other nations have been taking such steps, including the Netherlands which plans to cut the herd by 30% by 2030.

The Netherlands aren’t nearly as efficient at producing milk as we are, nor is dairying such a big part of their economy.

The Government’s projections show the ERP will reduce agricultural emissions by as little as 0.33 Mt CO2e over the 2022-2025 period which is less than 1% of the industry’s projected emissions.

The ERP’s approach to agriculture relies heavily on industry self-regulation – through He Waka Eke Noa – which is also expected to reduce emissions by only 1%.

“Instead of just cutting cow numbers, the Government is relying on industry promises, hypothetical, and unproven techno-fixes to agricultural emissions, and the freshwater reforms that the dairy industry is undermining at every step,” says Rose.

The Emissions Reduction Plan gifts $710 million to the agricultural industry – a quarter of the entire Climate Emergency Response Fund which it has not contributed towards.

“Despite the climate emergency, industrial dairy has yet again been given a free pass that now comes with a huge subsidy from the rest of New Zealand.

“This is a kick in the guts for New Zealanders who are effectively subsidising the intensive dairy industry due to the industry’s exemption from the ETS.

“To truly deal with the climate crisis the Government needs a far better plan than they have produced today. A plan that cuts cow numbers, phases out synthetic fertiliser and drives the transition to more plant-based regenerative organic farming,” says Rose. 

Can Redpeace present any reputable science backing their prescription as being both better for the environment and sustainable?

How expensive does Redpeace want food to become?

How much a reduction in export income and consequent reduction in living standards does Redpeace think is acceptable?

The organisation probably hasn’t considered those questions and wouldn’t be interested in the answers.

The diatribe above shows, it simply hates cows, doesn’t care that fewer cows here would lead to more cows elsewhere, where production is much less efficient, and has no idea that the high social and economic costs of its policy would do little for emissions here and lead to an increase globally.


Rural round-up

16/05/2022

Government Bill ends high country farming as we know it :

The Labour Government has concluded its campaign to end generations of thoughtful stewardship of the South Island’s high country, National’s spokesperson for Land Information Nicola Grigg says.

“Today’s passing of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill effectively ends a decades-old relationship between the Crown and high country pastoral leaseholders.

“The Bill states its purpose as ‘maintaining or enhancing inherent values across the Crown pastoral estate’, and it will, instead, have the opposite effect.

“These leaseholders have been effective custodians of this land for generations, but the Government will now impose a punitive regime devoid of any knowledge of practical implementation and will see environmental outcomes worsen rather than improve. . . 

India bans wheat exports as heatwave hurts crop, domestic prices soar – Rajendra Jadhav and Mayank Bhardwaj:

India has today banned wheat exports, just days after saying it was targeting record shipments this year, as a scorching heatwave curtails output and domestic prices soar to an all-time high.

The government said it would still allow exports backed by letters of credit already issued, and to those countries that requested supplies “to meet their food security needs”.

Global buyers were banking on supplies from the world’s second-biggest wheat producer after exports from the Black Sea region plunged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Prior to the ban, India had aimed to ship a record 10 million tonnes this year.

The ban could drive global prices to new peaks and hit poor consumers in Asia and Africa. . . 

Can-do approach keeps garage going – Sally Rae:

In the sleepy North Otago township of Duntroon lives a couple who have overcome massive obstacles to continue to operate a business in their much-loved community. Business editor Sally Rae reports.

There’s a quote written in chalk on the blackboard outside the Duntroon Garage.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there,” it tells visitors to the rural business in heartland North Otago.

Inspirational quotes might be a dime a dozen but this one is no twee slogan — it is the perfect summation of the unassuming couple behind the business, for whom the term inspirational seems strangely inadequate. . .

DCANZ welcomes New Zealand Action to Fix Canada dairy import system :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand ( DCANZ) is welcoming the announcement today that New Zealand has invoked dispute settlement proceedings with Canada over the implementation of its dairy obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“Canada has adopted an approach to administering CPTPP quotas which breaks the rules of the agreement and has severely restricted use of the limited market access,” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Trade agreements are only as good as their implementation. We fully support the New Zealand Government in taking this step to ensure the rules are enforced and the agreed access is usable.”

Canada is a highly protected market for dairy products with tariffs as high as 300%. CPTPP outcomes for access to the Canadian dairy market were limited to a series of reduced tariff rate quotas, and the administration system Canada has put in place for these quotas has seen the right to import primarily given to domestic processors who are direct competitors to New Zealand exporters of those products. This has resulted in pitifully low quota fill rates averaging just 8% in the latest quota year. . . 

Vegetable prices stabilising as growers begin to meet demand – industry body :

There are signs fresh vegetable prices are stabilising as winter nears, with growers responding to supply issues, an industry player says.

Food prices have continued to rise, with a perfect storm of Covid-19 related supply chain issues, inflation, a war in Europe and sanctions imposed on Russia, as well as bad weather, all contributing to consumer pain.

But vegetable supplies throughout winter are expected to be good and the prices stable, according to Vegetables New Zealand chairperson John Murphy.

Murphy, a Blenheim-based grower of garlic and shallots, told Morning Report growers had struggled lately, had responded to supply and demand issues that have saw supermarket chains bump up prices. . . 

Successful rural resilience programmes receive MPI funding boost  :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has renewed funding for two successful programmes training farmers, growers and other rural people to manage pressure and adapt to change.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has been allocated $339,000 to expand its popular ‘Know Your Mindset. Do What Matters’ and ‘Our Resilient Farming Business’ programmes.

Piloted across 2020 and 2021, the programmes have already supported more than 300 rural women and men to better manage stress, prioritise wellbeing, and cultivate financial resilience in the face of change.

“Disruptions and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are one of the many challenges facing farmers, growers and whenua Māori owners,” MPI’s acting director of rural communities and farming support Andrew Spelman said. . . 


Rural round-up

13/05/2022

Farmers have good reason to be nervous about the ETS – Campbell Stewart:

As consultation by He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN, the primary sector climate action partnership) has rounded up, there are still a vast number of farmers who are nervous, confused and angry about what the future for managing agricultural emissions in New Zealand might look like, and for good reason.

The fast pace of law-making in New Zealand in recent years is unsettling. Not only for the rural community trying to get their heads around what it all means for them, but for a range of sectors, including participants in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

Farmers are grappling with HWEN’s two options for managing agricultural emissions – an on-farm levy or a processor levy. But the alternative of a blanket inclusion of agriculture in the ETS, which is the option if HWEN cannot convince the Government to adopt its suggested approach, is a particularly frightening prospect.

In its current form, the ETS isn’t working well for participants, particularly foresters. Adding complexity and workload for officials by including agriculture would be a disaster. . . 

Clock ticking on plan to keep agriculture out of the Emissions Trading Scheme – Stephen Ward:

The clock is ticking towards the end of May deadline for finalising a scheme to keep agriculture out the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), an issue of key interest to Waikato’s extensive dairy sector and other agricultural players.

Ngahinapouri dairy farmer Jim van der Poel, the chair of agriculture heavyweight DairyNZ, believes the final proposal from sector group He Waka Eke Noa will ultimately help farmers and others manage emissions-related financial risk better. Overall, he said it would also do more to assist Aotearoa to meet its international emissions reduction obligations as the world tackles climate change.

Besides his organisation, He Waka Eke Noa involves Beef and Lamb NZ, Dairy Companies Association, Federated Farmers, Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ, the Federation of Māori Authorities, Deer Industry Association, Meat Industry Association and Apiculture NZ.

Emissions related to nitrous oxide (from the likes of fertiliser and stock urine) and methane (from cows belching) are covered by what will be proposed by He Waka Eke Noa. It doesn’t cover farmers’ fossil fuel-related emissions. . . 

NZ dairy farmer looks to head up world body

West Coast dairy farmer and former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is making a bid to head up the World Farmers’ Organisation, a Rome-based advocacy group that brings together farmer organisations and agricultural co-operatives from across the world. 

Milne has served on the organisation’s board for nearly five years and is standing for election as president at the upcoming general assembly in Budapest from June 7-10.

She is one of three candidates, something she says is positive.

“It’s healthy to have options and a lot of diversity of thought and debate on the way forward,” she says.  . . 

BNZ launches incentives for ‘green’ farmers

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has launched an Agribusiness Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL) product available to all New Zealand farmers.

The term loan, a SLL available to all farmers no matter the size of their farm or industry, offers interest cost savings for achieving environmental and social targets including: Greenhouse gas reductions; eco-system protection; improved care for staff; protecting waterways; improving biodiversity; and animal welfare.

It is the first time a SLL has been available as a loan product to all New Zealand farmers. Environmental and Social targets are set and agreed with BNZ and progress independently verified annually.

“New Zealand’s farmers are working hard to achieve environmental and social goals and we want to support and incentivise their efforts,” says Dana Muir, BNZ head of natural capital. . . 

Turning theory into practicality – Leo Argent:

Kirsten Duess believes the findings of her research work into soil drainage in Southland will have benefits for other parts of New Zealand as well.

The final-year Lincoln University PhD candidate was the 2021 winner of the NZ Society of Soil Science/Fertiliser Association of NZ Postgraduate Bursary Award. The $5,000 award recognises the efforts and likely contribution to New Zealand soil science arising from a doctorate study.

Duess’ postgraduate research saw her lead a long-term field study on soil and catchment hydrology in Southland. The findings will help understand the role mole and tile drains play in that region’s unique landscape.

“We were interested in understanding the hydrology of a small catchment that is drained by a mole and tile drainage system on a sheep farm near Otahuti in Southland,” she told Rural News. . .

 

Pork industry wants welfare code extended to imports :

More than 3000 people have signed a petition calling for imported pork to meet the same animal welfare standards as pork produced here.

Started by Frances Clement, a policy advisor to statutory industry board, NZ Pork, the petition was presented to parliament on Tuesday.

NZ Pork chief executive, Brent Kleiss said New Zealand’s pork sector had high welfare standards compared to many other countries with less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes.

But over 60 percent of pork consumed in New Zealand was imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country he said. . . 


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Shaz Dagg

13/05/2022

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Today we are speaking to the incredible, ‘limb-it-less’ Shaz Dagg. She is New Zealand’s first elite para-triathlete and Parafed Manawatū’s sport development adviser. 

In 2016, Shaz’s left arm was crushed by a gate while she was working on a goat farm.

After multiple complications, and nine surgeries, the arm was amputated above her elbow. Prior to her farm accident, Shaz represented New Zealand at the 2014 ITU world duathlon championships in Spain and raced in a number of Ironman events.

She also competed as an age-grade triathlete and decided to come back to the sport after her accident.

By 2018 she had qualified to represent New Zealand at the triathlon world champs on the Gold Coast, becoming the country’s first Para triathlete.

In 2021 Shaz was the first ever female amputee to complete the Coast – to Coast.  

If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to visit our Instagram, Facebook, and website, or even become a member! www.ruralwomennz.nz 

 


A better way than uFPAs

13/05/2022

BusinessNZ had full page advertisement in the ODT yesterday seeking support for its alternative to the governments (Un)Fair Pay Agreements (UFPA).

Theirs is a much better way to address employment problems, where they exist,  than the (Un)Fair Pay Agreements proposed by the government:

As the Government continues to push forward with FPAs, BusinessNZ is recommending three policy changes the Government should make instead.

Having passed its first reading, the Government’s FPA Bill will now go to select committee, with public submissions accepted until 19 May 2022.

Last week, BusinessNZ launched a nationwide campaign ‘ Your Work, Your Way’, calling on Kiwis to reject FPAs, a policy they describe as a sledgehammer which punishes all sectors in an attempt to improve a few. CEO Kirk Hope says there is a smarter way, “FPAs are not fair and do not achieve what the Government says they will. That’s why we are advocating for a smarter way of working.

“Unlike the Government’s bill which strips away Kiwis’ rights to negotiate their working conditions with their employers, we are proposing to actively target the sectors needing reform,” says Hope.

The government is following its usual pattern of radical change for everyone instead of addressing problems in the relatively few areas needing attention.

“Our roadmap represents international best practice and is in fact what the Government’s own officials told them to do rather than proceeding with FPAs.”

The three recommended areas of policy reform focus on protecting flexibility, targeting sectors needing reform and cracking down on poor employers:

    • Protect flexible working – make FPAs voluntary.

BusinessNZ is calling for FPAs to be voluntary, not compulsory. Individual employers and employees should have the opportunity to opt-out of them. Voluntary FPAs would at least be more consistent with New Zealand’s obligations under international law.

    • Target problem industries – limited sector based minimum standards to protect vulnerable workers .

As recommended by officials, BusinessNZ supports the development of a limited set of legally binding sector-based minimum standards for industries where a clear and significant labour market problem has been established.

As a major employer in some of the sectors where issues have been identified, the Government can take a leadership role immediately by committing to best practice employment standards in these sectors.

Could it be the government is judging all businesses by its own failings instead of addressing areas where it falls short itself?

    • Crack down on poor employers – beef up enforcement to prosecute those who break the law.
    • BusinessNZ recommends the number of workplace inspectors be increased to protect vulnerable workers. Their powers to access workplaces and work records should also be brought to a level that allows inspectors to better detect inappropriate activity and enforce minimum labour standards.

“FPAs are fast becoming an embarrassment for the Government. It’s time they listen to their own officials, employers, and employees and scrap this flawed policy and instead take action that will make a real difference where it is needed most.

“Our roadmap sets out a common sense way forward to improve workplace relations and crack down on bad employers without taking away people’s rights and breaking international labour laws. We urge the Government to adopt it and we will continue to advocate strongly for all the rights of Kiwi workers and employers throughout the Select Committee process,” says Mr Hope.

Find out more about BusinessNZ’s Smarter Way and sign the open letter rejecting FPAs at www.yourworkyourway.co.nz.

This government has a dreadful habit of imposing whole of sector reform instead of targetting change where it’s needed.

They did it with polytechs, they’re doing it with health and three waters, and they’re trying to do it with (U)FPAs.

Contrary to the name, these are unfair, not least because whole sectors would have to accept FPAs at the behest of just 10 percent of the workforce even if the other 90 percent didn’t want to agree to them.

BusinessNZ’s suggestions are better and fairer to employers and employees.

 


Rural round-up

12/05/2022

Rural health refused priority – Peter Burke:

“Completely and utterly outrageous.”

That’s how NZ Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden describes the Government’s outright rejection of calls to make ‘rural’ a priority in the new Pae Ora Health Futures (POHF) Bill now before Parliament.

The bill is the first major reform of the health service in more than 20 years and paves the way for a completely new structure that is supposed to deliver better health outcomes for NZ. But according to Bolden, who works as a rural GP, it won’t do this for the nearly 750,000 people who live in rural NZ.

The genesis of the changes come from a review of the health service by Heather Simpson. In her review, according to Bolden, rural was seen as a priority and was mentioned some 80 times in Simpson’s report. . . 

Is it time to reconsider the rules on GMOs? – Emile Donovan:

The Productivity Commission says New Zealand needs to take another look at its regulations on genetically modified organisms – or we could risk missing out on important innovations that improve our lives and the environment

Is it time for New Zealand to reconsider its strict regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? 

In a report released in April, the Productivity Commission called for a renewed conversation, saying technology has outpaced the regulatory environment. 

While many still hold serious reservations about genetic modification, the ability to ‘gene edit – altering the genes of an organism which has been sequenced, rather than introducing foreign genes into it – has led to remarkable developments around the world.  . . 

Still some sticking points with new winter grazing rules – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers still have some concerns around the revised grazing regulations released last month.

Restrictions on planting winter forage crops on slopes over 10 degrees and regulation wordings around ‘critical source areas’ exempted from cultivating or grazing cows are being contested by farmers.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt says farmers welcome some parts of the revised regulations – like the removal of specific requirements around pugging depths.

Another amendment requiring grazed annual forage crop paddocks to be re-sown as soon as conditions allow, instead of by a set date, has also been accepted. . . 

Lamb exports outpace averages – Annette Scott:

Despite supply chain challenges and processing delays lamb export prices have soared to an unseasonal all-time high.

Continuing the run of record high monthly lamb average export values (AEV) since August last year, AEV reached $13.49 a kilogram for March. 

This is the highest ever recorded.

Both chilled and frozen AEV reached NZ$20.67/kg and $12.52/ kg, respectively.  . . 

Seven-fold increase in DOC land destroyed by fires concerning :

The area of Department of Conservation (DOC) land burned in unwanted fires is rising rapidly yet the agency is doing just the bare minimum to protect land and has taken no accountability, National’s Fire and Emergency Spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Fire and Emergency New Zealand has responded to at least 109 fires on DOC land since the 2019/20 fire season destroying more than 13,600 hectares of Public Conservation lands over the past three years. To-date, that’s a seven-fold increase on the 2,003 hectares destroyed by wildfires for three years period before 2019/20.

“Cracks in the management of unwanted fires on DOC land started to show when regulatory control over Public Conservation Lands was transferred from DOC to FENZ in 2017.

“Since then DOC has essentially taken a hands-off approach to fire management on its land. DOC has reduced its funding from a ten-year average annual spend of $10.4 million before 2017/18 to a current annual average of $3.6 million for the past three years. . . 

Potential closure to sporting dynasty little golf club’s remarkable plight – Logan Savory:

Six years ago the 100-year-old Nightcaps Golf Club was facing the likely prospect of closure. Fast-forward to 2022 and the club is now home to one of Southland’s more remarkable sporting dynasties. Logan Savory reports.

In early 2016 the few remaining members at the Nightcaps Golf Club found themselves pondering the future.

The club had just seven playing members and discussions had started around leasing the golf course land out for farming use.

The likely closure of the Nightcaps Golf Club, established in 1922, fast become a reality six years ago. . . 

 


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Maria Kuster

12/05/2022

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Today we are speaking with Maria Kuster, a rural businesswoman with a twist, who along with her partner Sean runs the incredible Pure Salt boat charter business in Tamatea/Dusky Sound. 

Originally hailing from Germany,  Maria stepped on a plane as a young woman arriving in the South Island and found that Aotearoa was where her future and heart lay. 

Since then Maria and Sean have created their business to embrace conservation, right from the beginning with a string of successful projects on land and in the sea, in restoring Dusky to its original state. 

If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to visit our Instagram, Facebook, and website, or even become a member! www.ruralwomennz.nz 


Intellectual snobbery in immigration policy

12/05/2022

Credit where it’s due, some of the government’s changes to immigration policy are an improvement, including this:

The Government has agreed to temporarily exempt tourism and hospitality businesses from paying the median wage to recruit migrants on an Accredited Employer Work Visa into most roles.

“Instead, a lower wage threshold of $25 per hour will be required until April 2023. This follows the recent $27 per hour border exception that was granted around certain snow season roles to help the sector prepare for winter tourists.”

New sector agreements for the care, construction and infrastructure, meat processing, seafood, and seasonal snow and adventure tourism sectors will provide for a short-term or ongoing need for access to lower-paid migrants. . . 

That’s better than what’s been required in the past, but still not as good as it could, and should, be.

Requiring migrants to be paid more than locals is a type of unFair Pay Agreement (FPA) by stealth.

It’s supposed to make employing locals more attractive but with unemployment down to the unemployable, those who can’t, or won’t work, it’s simply adding unnecessary costs to businesses.

At least some of those costs will be passed on to customers and fuel inflation.

Requiring businesses everywhere to pay staff the same wages takes no account of cost of living differences in different places.

For example, workers in Oamaru or Duntroon face lower rents than those in Queenstown or Wanaka so don’t need to be paid as much to have a similar quality of life.

Then there’s the intellectual snobbery in the emphasis on skilled workers when there is a huge shortage of workers in so-called low or unskilled jobs.

These include carers in rest homes. Nurses need to be qualified and experienced. Carers do not, but they do need to have high EQ and interpersonal skills which don’t count in the immigration policy.

There are also a lot of jobs, on dairy farms for example, where qualifications and experience aren’t necessary. The skills needed are willingness to learn, the ability to start work on time, do what they have to do within a reasonable time and to the required standard, and do it every day they’re rostered to do it.

People able to do all that might not look like highly skilled to the government, they won’t have qualifications but they will have a good attitude and if the government listened to employers, they’d know that it’s very hard to find local people with that and willing and able to do ‘low-skilled jobs’, and not just on farms.

A restaurant owner in a small town knew there were nearly 200 people registered as unemployed in the area.

He approached WINZ saying he was happy to employ people with no experience as long as they were willing to learn. He was told that he wouldn’t get anyone if he drug tested them.

He said he wouldn’t drug test them and was told that even if they weren’t drug tested no-one on their books would want his jobs.

This example isn’t a one-off.

Employers in a range of businesses the length and breadth of the country are facing the same problems and still the government doesn’t understand the need for migrants who aren’t highly skilled in terms of qualifications and experience,  but are in attitude and other personal strengths and who are desperately needed and would be valuable workers.


Rural round-up

11/05/2022

Leave rural water schemes alone – David Anderson:

Rural water schemes need to be exempted from the Government’s proposed Three Waters reforms.

That’s the belief of West Otago farmer and member on the Glenkenich rural water scheme Hugh Gardyne. In a submission to the Rural Water Supplies Technical Working Group on the impacts of the Three Waters reforms, Gardyne says, “the objectives of virtually every stratum of Three Waters reform are contrary to the achievements and intent of rural water schemes”.

He argues that because rural water schemes (RWS) vary so much, it is so impossible to get consensus and “one size does not fit all”. The working group was set up by Local Government Minister and architect of the reforms Nanaia Mahuta to work with officials from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Taumata Arowai to develop policy options and advice in respect of rural community schemes around the new water entities proposed in her Three Waters reforms.

It was expected to report back to DIA at the end of April. . . 

Feds: inflexible FPAs are a solution looking for a problem :

Federated Farmers is joining the fight against yet another case of politicians intruding with unnecessary, inflexible, one-size-fits-all legislation – this time over workers’ wages and conditions.

“There’s nothing fair about so-called Fair Pay Agreements,” Federated Farmers national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“They’re just a straightjacket that lock employers and employees into a national set of pay and conditions rules that might suit a minority but remove all ability of businesses and staff to agree on terms that suit their own needs and local conditions.”

The threshold for initiating an FPA is 10% of workers or 1000 workers in the identified group, whichever is less. Once an FPA is agreed, all employers and employees across an entire industry or occupation are locked into the conditions of that FPA. . .

Stop restricting food production – Peter Buckley:

Under the Paris Accord on climate change, Article 2 (b) states:

The aim of the agreement is to have a stronger response to the danger of climate change; it seeks to enhance the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change through:

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; . . 

Concern draft code will hurt piglet welfare – Colin Williscroft:

The recently released draft welfare code for pigs will not only have a negative effect on farmers and piglet welfare, it will also affect the staff who look after them and consumers who want to buy fresh NZ pork, Manawatū pig farmer Andrew Managh says.

The recently released draft welfare code for pigs will not only have a negative effect on farmers and piglet welfare, it will also affect the staff who look after them and consumers who want to buy fresh NZ pork, Manawatū pig farmer Andrew Managh says.

Managh, who farms about 700 hectares near Halcombe, with about 6000 pigs on the property on any given day, says despite the draft code seeking to improve pig welfare, in a practical sense it means farmers are being asked to invest money into something that will not achieve that goal.

He says under the proposed changes, farrowing pens at his and his wife Geraldine’s Ratanui Farm property will need to increase from their current 4.5 square metres to 6.5m2 and he can’t see the benefit in that. . . .

Southland turns a corner as dry conditions ease in the region :

The drought conditions plaguing Southland farmers have eased, after some much-needed rain in the region.

NIWA’s latest hotspot watch shows dry conditions have lessened after rain in the region, though it is still dryer than usual for this time of year.

As of 3 May conditions were dry in parts of the upper South Island, much of Otago, eastern Southland, and Stewart Island, NIWA’s New Zealand Drought Index map showed.

Eastern Otago was also very dry, NIWA said. . .

A dog’s journey: my road to recovery – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I know I usually only write one column at the end of the year, but I’ve had a terrible time and just need to share.

It all started back in early February.

Steve, the boss and my mate, noticed I was a bit off. I’m usually full of beans but wasn’t feeling myself.

So, he rested me for the week. . .


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Sophie Hurley

11/05/2022

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Today Sophie Hurley joins us on the podcast, one half of the duo behind Honest Wolf.

Sophie is based in the Turakina Valley in the North Island, where she lives with her husband Sam and son Harry.  

Sophie Sam launched Honest Wolf, a line of accessories made from wool from the family farm, in 2020. Honest Wolf’s goal is to make wool the sustainable go-to fiber in the luggage and accessories industry.

With another baby on the way, Sophie talks to us about her next steps with Honest Wolf, how she juggles running her own business with a young family, and shares her experiences and advice for starting up a business from your passions. 

If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to visit our Instagram, Facebook, and website, or even become a member! www.ruralwomennz.nz 

 

 


Rural round-up

10/05/2022

Concern over widespread dry conditions – Neal Wallace and Gerald Piddock:

Dry autumn conditions are spreading throughout the country, with most regions seeking rain and forecasters warning conditions are likely to remain dry in the coming months.

Recent rain and warm weather has boosted feed on parched Southland and Otago farms which are delicately poised heading into winter, while Waikato and South Auckland farmers are being told to plan for a possible drought.

Dry autumn conditions are widespread through both islands, prompting farmers to reconsider winter feed budgets to account for lower than desired pasture cover.

The south of the South Island and Waikato appear hardest hit, missing the usual autumn flush leaving some farmers with low pasture cover, low supplementary reserves and fingers crossed for a mild winter. . . 

Health restructure ignores rural New Zealand :

The Government is squandering an opportunity to prioritise rural health and enshrine it in legislation, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill sets out the framework for Labour’s ill-timed health restructure and after the second reading in parliament yesterday, there is still a woeful lack of focus on the health needs of rural New Zealand.

“The genesis of this restructure was the Heather Simpson-led review of the health and disability sector. It mentioned rural health at least 30 times and made it very plain that rural services should be specifically planned for, recognising the unique challenges of living rurally.

“This idea is further emphasised by submissions made during the select committee process. . . 

Fonterra’s new capital structure gets closer – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s new capital structure brings its own risks, designed for choppy seas but not for a storm

The Government has been wrestling for many months as to how to respond to Fonterra’s proposed new capital structure, which its farmer-members voted for overwhelmingly.  The Ministry of Primary Industries, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, has now released a discussion paper indicating the Government proposed response. Essentially the Government is conceding to Fonterra’s wishes, but with some shackles proposed to constrain Fonterra‘s subsequent behaviours.

To understand what is happening, it is necessary to go back to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. The Fonterra that was formed at that time, with 96% of the national milk production under its control for processing and marketing, would not have been allowed if assessed under the Commerce Act. It would have run foul of restrictions on monopolies.

Accordingly, special legislation was put in place via the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) by the Labour Government of the day. Regulations were set in place allowing Fonterra to act as an effective monopoly in relation to marketing New Zealand milk overseas, but constrained in exerting monopoly power in the local New Zealand market.   . . 

Steady increase in beef cattle numbers :

Beef cattle numbers increased in 2021, while the number of sheep dipped slightly, Stats NZ said today.

Final figures from the 2021 Agricultural Production Survey showed that the number of beef cattle was up by 2 percent (82,000) from the previous year and there was a total of 4 million at 30 June 2021. Total beef exports were $3.6 billion for the year ended 30 June 2021.

“The total number of beef cattle has been increasing steadily since 2016. Just over two-thirds of all beef cattle are farmed in the North Island,” agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said. 

Sheep Numbers Down Slightly . . 

Smart spade one of new technologies for forest silviculture project :

A ‘smart spade’ which identifies exactly where to plant a tree seedling is just one of the new technologies in the seven-year $25.5 million Precision Silviculture development project.

The newly elected President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the just announced joint government funded project to bring mechanisation and robots to the production of tree seedlings and the tending of plantations covers a wide range of technologies.

“It’s not a single Eureka discovery which is going to make all this work. It’s combining, for instance, a planter with a sensor and linking it to electronic mapping. The map sends a beep signal to the planter that they need to go a couple of metres up or along the slope to put the seedling in. The end result is a much more optimally spaced plantation forest which makes for better growth and easier and safer harvesting.”

Grant Dodson says that the growth in mechanical harvesting over the past decade already shows that using machinery results in greater productivity and a much safer workplace. . . 

The West’s role in Africa’s day of the locusts – Richard Tren & Jasson Urbach,:

Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport. The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead. Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.

The locusts that almost brought down the 737 are part of the worst infestation to hit Africa in 75 years. Swarms of locusts can blanket 460 miles at a time and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation a day; and the grasshopper-like insects increase logarithmically, meaning locust swarms could be 500 times bigger in six months.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the threat “unprecedented,” but attempts at aerial spraying have been too little, too late — largely because of FAO’s own politically-driven agenda to limit pesticides — and experts fear Africa may once again be tilting toward widespread famine.

As poor farmers futilely shoo the voracious insects away with sticks, this modern plague highlights the urgent need for pesticides to protect crops and save lives. It also casts into stark relief the tragic consequences of UN, European and environmentalist campaigns to deny these life-saving chemicals to developing nations. . . 

 


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Sarah Martelli

10/05/2022

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Today, Sarah Martelli joins us on the podcast, who amongst many other things is the incredible woman behind Strong Woman.

Sarah is a mum to three young children and lives with her husband Mathew, her kids, a spoodle puppy, pet pig, and chickens, on a 400 cow dairy farm in Reporoa, New Zealand.

Life is pretty hectic with juggling kids’ activities, helping on the farm, the household, and being actively involved on the PTA committee and as sports co-ordinator at the local primary school.

Sarah had a Molar Pregnancy – a very rare gynaecological abnormality where instead of growing a baby, the cells didn’t form properly and grew into a cancerous tumour called Choriocarsinoma. She very candidly and bravely talks to us about her journey and how this encouraged her to create the Strong Woman community.

In 2017, she qualified as a Personal Trainer. Sarah runs an Online fitness membership platform, group fitness classes, and personal training sessions. In 2020 she completed a Certificate in Exercise Nutrition, and now provides one on one health coaching to women from all over New Zealand, and in 2021 she trained to become a Qualified Pilates Instructor. 


What goes up . . .

10/05/2022

Fonterra has revised its forecast farmgate milk price down:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised its 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from $9.30 – $9.90 per kgMS to $9.10 – $9.50 per kgMS.

This reduces the midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, from $9.60 per kgMS to $9.30 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the change in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price is due to a number of recent events which have resulted in short-term impacts on global demand for dairy products – in particular, the lockdowns in China due to COVID-19, the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“While the long-term outlook for dairy remains positive, and we expect global demand and supply to be more balanced over the rest of the year, we have seen these short-term impacts flow through into pricing on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform. For example, average prices for whole milk powder (WMP), a key driver of the milk price, have decreased by 18% over the past four GDT events.

“As an exporter to 140 countries we deal with these kinds of global events all the time, but right now we’re seeing the impact of multiple events. Coupled with inflationary pressures, it’s not surprising to see buyers being cautious.

“Our scale and ability to move products between different markets and categories remains important, and reinforces our strategic focus on ensuring our milk is going into the highest value products.

“This will be disappointing for our farmers, but the change in global dairy prices is coming off record high levels. At a midpoint of $9.30 per kgMS, this would continue to be the highest forecast Farmgate Milk Price in the Co-op’s history and would see us contribute almost $14 billion into New Zealand’s economy through milk price payments, which supports the wellbeing of our local communities.

“Looking out to the rest of the year, global milk production is expected to remain constrained as high feed, fertiliser and energy costs continue to impact production in the Northern Hemisphere, and we expect demand to recover as the short-term impacts begin to resolve.

“While there is still a high level of uncertainty in global markets, the majority of our milk has been contracted for the season. It’s for this reason that we’ve made the decision to narrow our forecast range to +/- 20 cents.

“As always, there are a number of risks we are continuing to keep a close eye on, including potential impacts on demand from inflationary pressures and rising interest rates, increased volatility as a result of high dairy prices, and further disruptions from COVID-19 and geopolitical events.”

It’s disappointing but not surprising. What goes up eventually comes down, and recently global prices have been going down from the peak reached a few months ago.

Last year some were suggesting this season’s milk price could start with a 10, but China’s Covid lockdown and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine coupled with international and domestic inflation have put paid to that.

However, the low point is still above $9 which is a very good payout.

Uncertainty here and abroad make it unlikely that next season’s forecast will be as high and a rural banker told me that a lot of clients are using the combination of good returns this season and the threat of higher interest rates to pay down debt.

That is prudent. When inflation will boost input prices, reducing the amount borrowed is one way to lower costs without reducing production.

If only the  government understood this prudence and wasn’t so keen on ensuring the only exception to what goes up must come down with tax.


Rural round-up

09/05/2022

Mycolplasma bovis isolated to just one farm :

The world-first attempt to eradicate the disease, which can cause lameness, mastitis and abortions in cows, began after it was first detected in a South Canterbury farm in 2017.

Since then, the disease has been confirmed and cleared from 271 properties, with more than 176,000 cattle culled.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said no working farms we currently infected – the lone property was a large beef-feed lot, and work to clear it will begin later this year.

He marked the milestone as he announced $110.9m funding for biosecurity efforts. . . 

Kiwis endangered by unlicenced occupations – Roger Partridge:

They may not know it, but unsuspecting Kiwis will soon be protected from unregistered log traders and forestry advisers. What a relief that should be.

The Shane Jones-sponsored Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Act was introduced under urgency in the midst of the pandemic in May 2020. Forced along by Jones’s fanciful election-year plans to boost employment in his Northland electorate, the Bill passed into law in August that year.

Jones is long gone from Parliament. But in the intervening two years, the Ministry for Primary Industries has been busily consulting with the forestry industry on a suitable registration regime.

And well they might. Even though the Ministry’s Regulatory Impact Statement could not point to any quantitative evidence of benefits from the proposed licensing regime, tasks as important as regulating log traders should not be rushed. . . 

Saffron grower says industry growth necessary to meet consumer demand – Sally Murphy:

A Southland saffron grower says yields are slightly down this year but the quality of the spice is very high due to dry conditions.

The spice is the red stigma of a small purple flower Crocus sativus and can set you back anywhere from $20 – to $50 a gram.

Kiwi Saffron grows the spice organically across three hectares in Garston, Southland.

Owner Jo Daley said weather conditions had led to an enjoyable harvest this season and they should wrap up in the next week or so. . . 

Geoff Reid poked the bear – Kathryn Wright:

Geoff Reid NZ poked the bear

If you know me, you probably know that I don’t like to say much on social media. And I certainly don’t get involved in online arguments. But when I have something to say, it’s probably important and it’s probably going to be long. The longer it percolates in my mind, the more I will have to say.

This is why, when environmental activist Geoff Reid posted his latest photos in an attempt to shame a Southland farmer that was simply doing his job, I had had enough. I have known about this person for a while – spoken about in both professional and private capacity. I considered sending the post to him privately but no, I wanted others to see the harm this man (and others like him) create. I will include the post below this. Rural people are my heart, and Geoff Reid is hurting them. 

Geoff Reid poked the bear.  . . 

Dairy prices fall sharply but farmers will do nicely thank you from this season’s payout and Synlait has strong half-year – Point of Order:

Only  two  months  ago  Radio NZ  was  airing  a  report “Why  are global dairy  prices  so high?”  Now, the  story  is  rather  different  after  two sharp  falls  at  Fonterra’s  fortnightly  global dairy  auctions,  and  the  pundits   are  pondering  what  has  happened.

But  NZ’s  dairy farmers  can still rest  easy  that  this  season’s  payout  will be  the  highest in Fonterra’s  history.

The  latest fall this  week was  foreshadowed  in  a  report  by ANZ  agri-economist  Susan Kilsby  on commodities. She  noted  dairy prices fell 4% month-on-month in April, driven primarily by lower prices for whole milk powder which is highly influenced by demand from China.

Kilsby  went  on to  point  out market sentiment had deteriorated as the lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing impact consumer buying opportunities. . . 

Biosecurity funding increase a sensible move :

An $111 million injection for biosecurity in the May Budget is a pragmatic acknowledgement of how vital it is to our economy we stop pest organisms at our borders, Federated Farmers says.

“This extra money shows an appreciation by the government pest incursions can wreak havoc in our primary industries, New Zealand’s powerhouse for export earnings,” Federated Farmers Arable Chair and plant biosecurity spokesperson Colin Hurst said.

“Plenty of Budget rounds go by without any bolstering of funding for biosecurity so we congratulate the government for making this a priority.”

The funding announcement comes on the same day that we mark the fourth anniversary of New Zealand’s world-first attempt to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis – indeed the $110.9m in the Budget includes $68 million over the coming year to continue momentum on the M. bovis programme. . . 


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Amber Forrest

09/05/2022

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Today’s guest is our 2021 Supreme Winner at the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards, Amber Forrest.
Amber is based in Wairoa and provides the only full-time beauty therapy clinic with fully qualified staff in the region, a salon called BeautyAntix.
Amber has built an award-winning business which is immersed in the diversity of its clientele and community. It provides a wide range of expert, professional treatments and provides a career path for young women, particularly Māori, through a nationally recognised Beauty and Wellness Training facility.
The Beauty Antix motto is Exceeding Expectation with Expertise. It is an environment that is open, inclusive, and respectful to all customers and serves its community in a uniquely holistic way 

 

 


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Tia Potae

07/05/2022

Today we are very lucky to speak to Tia Potae, the winner of the inaugural Primary Industries award at the 2021 Women of Influence New Zealand Awards. Tia is based in the sunny Coromandel, but hails from Milton at the bottom of the South Island 👏

The Potae name is extremely well known in shearing circles, with her grandfather’s brother George Potae winning the Golden Shears in 1969. Tia herself has been in the shearing industry all her life, representing New Zealand in woolhandling in 2005 and 2013.

Tia has a huge list of achievements and is truly a champion of rural communities ✨

Tia is a Whānau Ora navigator at Tokomairiro Waiora and won the award for supporting shearers and their families through the challenges of Covid-19. During the 2020 lockdown, she developed an online programme for wool, forestry and fishing industry workers who found it difficult to access services after hours. She also helped workers access the Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

Tia is also a rural navigator for Tokomairiro Waiora, a Kaupapa Māori Health Service providing Whānau Ora services in South Otago. Her rural navigator programme was a response to a Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu 2019 survey of wool harvesters which found they needed better access to health and social services.

And if you thought she couldn’t possibly do any more, she also has a small business, Taki Toru Woolshed Services, where she runs her own training programme. . . .


Rural round-up

06/05/2022

Farmer feedback reshaping HWEN :

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) say they are taking farmer feedback on board and working to improve the agricultural emissions pricing options, including driving down administration costs.

Recently, roadshows were held across the country on the two options developed by the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), as alternatives to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the Government has made it clear that the sector need to deliver a credible alternative otherwise the agriculture sector will go into the ETS.

“But that’s not the only reason we need to act,” he says. . .

Landscape like the moon – Sally Rae:

Leo Edginton reckons he landed on the moon this week.

Mr Edginton (39), one of the country’s top dog triallists, is competing at the South Island sheep dog trial championships which being are held amid the vast, rocky landscape of Earnscleugh Station, near Alexandra.

It was a far cry from his home at Mangaheia Station, a large sheep and beef property at Tolaga Bay, on the North Island’s East Coast.

With six dogs qualified for the championships — Larry, Kim, Bully, Robert, Deano and Bert, a mix of both heading dogs and huntaways — it was the most of any competitor. And he has seven qualified for the New Zealand championships in three weeks’ time. . .

Twenty years of forest restoration undone by poor fencing – Diane McCarthy:

One man’s work to restore native bush on Karaponga Reserve over the past 20 years is being undone by inadequate fencing.

Retired dairy farmers Steve and Lesley McCann have taken enormous pleasure in the recovery of native wildlife on and around their McIvor Road property, next door to the reserve.

Even finding the occasional gigantic centipede in the bathtub is a small price to pay.

The McCanns see it as a sign of the resurgence of native biodiversity, due to pest control and planting. . . 

Farmers keen to embrace diverse uses of drones in rural setting – Sally Murphy:

Growing interest among farmers in using drones has led a Southland catchment group to organise a field day to showcase the technology.

Otago South River Care is holding a field day today and tomorrow on a farm in Balclutha with over 80 people expected to attend.

Group co-ordinator Rebecca Begg said catchment group members often talk about innovation on farms and drones keep coming up as something farmers want to try.

“Many are interested but aren’t ready to take the leap yet, so we want to show them what’s available and get some of the technology down to the South Island as most of it is based in the North Island.” . . 

Ready. Set. Rockit – bold new campaign inspires courage  :

As millions of freshly harvested New Zealand-grown Rockit™ apples begin arriving into ports around the world, a bold new brand campaign kicks off harnessing the spirit of bravery.

From artists to fitness instructors to musicians to aspiring basketball players, relatable individuals feature in the compelling campaign, which encourages Rockit’s global consumers to push their limits and go further than they’ve ever gone before (whatever that might look like to them) and “Ready. Set. Rockit.”

With the creative heft of agency Special driving the interpretations of courage that run through this year’s campaign, Rockit’s CEO Mark O’Donnell says the message is bound to inspire. “We love the idea that any challenge – no matter how daunting – can be overcome by taking it just one small bite at a time,” says Mark. “The innovative campaign imagery showcases occasions where a little bit of bravery takes us into territory we’ve never known before – and we can overcome our fear, seize the moment, and really rock it.” . . 

Wattie’s record tomato harvest in 50 years:

Today Wattie’s marks the end of its tomato harvest season with some of the highest yielding tomato paddocks in the company’s 50-year history.

This season, Wattie’s have hit a new record with a crop of 140 metric tons per hectare. That is the equivalent of 5.6kg per plant or 14kg of tomatoes for every square metre and approximately a 5% increase on the highest yield previously achieved.

More impressive is that this is 40% higher than Wattie’s 5-year average yield. Twenty years ago, the 5-year average tomato harvest was 80 metric tons per hectare.

The tomato harvest season started in mid-February and since then, has been going 24 hours a day. Over this time, Wattie’s has harvested and processed 39,000 metric tons of field tomatoes. . . 


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