A Howl of a Protest

16/07/2021

Thousands of people will be convoying through more than 50 towns and cities in a Howl of a Protest today.

Government policies that negatively impact on farms and farmers have compounded and the ute tax is the last straw.

The protest is being organised by Groundswell which is campaigning against the growing pile of unworkable rules and increasing costs that the government is imposing, instead of working with farmers to get practical solutions.

The protest isn’t about better environmental standards, it’s about better ways of attaining them than those the government has devised.

The Pomahaka Catchment Group has shown the good results that come when catchment groups and Regional Councils work together. That’s a far better model than the National Policy Statement on Freshwater that is top down instead of grassroots up.

New regulations for Significant Natural Areas, wetlands and landscapes trample all over property rights. The QEII Trust is a proven system that’s protected 180,000 hectares already and is far better than anything the government wants to impose on landowners.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity is another major concern. This policy punishes all the landowners who have been proactive in conservation, turns biodiversity into a liability and wastes millions of dollars on tick box significance assessments. Councils should be able to work with and support the many landowner initiatives such as the QEII Trust, Landcare and catchment groups.

It’s another land grab that disregards property rights.

Labour shortages were another big issue that are causing a huge amount of stress, impacting production and contributing to food waste.

Overseas seasonal workers should be prioritised  through MIQ for rural contractors, horticulturalists, dairy farmers, orchards and vineyards.

These sectors are doing the heavy lifting for the NZ economy, now more than ever and the mental strain of continuous long hours  and product loss is a growing and unsustainable mental and financial burden.

The government categorises these workers as ‘unskilled labour’ when they are skilled manual workers who are essential for lots of small businesses.

Then there’s the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations. They would add more costs and reduce production while increasing emissions as less efficient producers overseas ramped up production to compensate for less of ours.

The harm from that is compounded by incentives to turn productive food production land, worked by the world’s most efficient farmers, into forests.

The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill is another example of big-stick regulation that would make farming much more difficult.

The ute tax is the last straw. There are no electric alternatives for these vehicles that are essential for farmers, horticulturalists and many other businesses that service and support farmers including vets and tradies. Then there’s emergency services, rural GPs and midwives, councils, power companies and government departments like DoC and MPI.

The government said it would stop paying the rebate on EVs if the tax on utes didn’t make enough to cover it. But it will keep the tax on utes when it exceeds the amount it has to pay out.

They can call that a levy but if they keep taking far more than they need for rebates it’s just another unfair tax on the productive sector and another broken promise from a government that doesn’t understand the significant and positive economic, environmental and social contribution farming and farmers are making.


Rural round-up

13/07/2021

State likely to mismanage nature – Gerry Eckhoff:

Should the people be protecting New Zealand from the Government, asks Gerrard Eckhoff.

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain may enter but the King of England cannot enter — nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” — William Pitt the elder, 1763.

Two hundred and fifty years later we still have people in New Zealand (politicians and the botanical puritans) who simply do not understand the importance of that statement on the rights of the common man or women to hold property against the Crown and all its forces.

The recent controversy over significant natural areas has erupted over the identification of unmodified Maori land in Northland. The use rights to vast areas of private land have been identified for political seizure and effectively removed from private control. Most reasonable people assumed that Maori land rights were finally recognised as belonging to, and the property of, various iwi and individuals who wish little more than to exercise their rights to their land just as the rest of us do, or thought we could do. . .

Australia lures NZ”s migrant dairy staff – Gerald Piddock:

Migrant dairy workers are being lured from New Zealand to Australia by promises of residency for themselves and their families.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilkers chair Jason Herrick says his Filipino staff told him it was occurring among the migrant community.

It was also confirmed to him by farm owners he had contacted who had placed new advertisements over the past week wanting staff.

Four out of 15 of these new advertisements were due to workers leaving for Australia. The rest were because the staff had been poached by other farmers. . .

Lack of skilled staff at meat processors – Neal Wallace:

Meat processors will have to forgo further processing cuts due to a lack of skilled labour following Government changes to immigration rules, industry leaders warn.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is already short about 2500 people, including halal slaughtermen, skilled boners and butchers who have previously been recruited from overseas.

The staffing issue meant plants could not run at full capacity last season.

“What is new now is that it’s been made worse because of covid-19 and the borders being shut, meaning we can’t supplement the workforce with skilled migrant workers as we have previously been able to do,” Karapeeva said. . .

US buying up our primary industries – Farrah Hancock:

United States citizens and companies are buying up New Zealand land for farming, forestry and wine-making, an RNZ analysis reveals.

Almost 180,000 hectares of farming land was purchased or leased by foreign interests between 2010 and 2021.

During the 11-year period almost 460,000ha – a little under the size of the Auckland region – shifted out of New Zealand control through purchases, leases or rights to take forestry. For simplicity’s sake, this is referred to as bought land throughout this article.

More than 70,000ha of land was bought for dairying operations and more than 100,000 for farming other types of animals, such as beef, sheep or deer. . .

Will going meat-free really save the planet? :

Independent research by some of the world’s leading scientists shows the climate change benefits of substituting meat from the average New Zealander’s diet would only lead to a 3–4 percent decrease in an individual’s lifetime global warming impact from all activities, and could risk individuals missing out on key essential nutrients, such as iron.

The peer-reviewed research paper was developed by climate, nutrition and environmental scientists from the University of Oxford, Massey University, University of Auckland, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Riddet Institute, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka and the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has been published by the Switzerland-based Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) in the Sustainability Journal.

Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is often billed as one of the most effective ways for an individual to lower the climate impact of their lifestyle.

However, methane is a short-lived gas, whereas carbon dioxide is long-lived and, therefore, accumulates in the atmosphere. . .

Farmer to donate crop profit to mental health charities after mate’s death – John Dobson:

A Western Australian farmer touched by suicide will donate the profits from 60 hectares of his crop for the rest of his farming life to help mental health charities.

Sam Burgess, who farms near Arthur River — about 200km south-east of Perth — lost a friend to suicide last week and has dealt with his own mental health struggles in recent years.

Following his friend’s death, Mr Burgess decided to donate all profits from his 52 hectare crop to two mental health charities.

“I just want to do something,” he told ABC Great Southern. . .

 


Rural round-up

02/07/2021

Invercargill MP says the Government’s road funding cuts are a bitter blow – Penny Simmonds:

Roads are our lifeblood, and I’m particularly concerned about the economic impact on Southland if our roading infrastructure can’t be kept up to scratch.

The Southland District Council is currently grappling with some tough decisions around the future of our ageing road network after the Government recently cut funding by $7.5 million.

The situation in Southland is dire and the statistics make sober reading.

There are currently 1081 bridges, including 239 stock underpasses, across the province. . .

SNAs cover much of province – report says

It is official — West Coast is pretty much one big significant natural area.

A desktop assessment of native vegetation on private land on the West Coast has identified nearly every site as a potentially significant natural area.

Wildlands Consultants, which researched SNAs for councils working on a new combined district plan for the Coast, have handed in their report in time for the Te Tai o Poutini Plan Committee meeting yesterday.

The team of ecologists did a desktop evaluation of the region’s biodiversity using computerised topographical maps and have cautioned that nearly all the mapped sites will need to be field-checked. . .

David Parker admits wetland rules ‘have gone too far’ but changes will be difficult and expensive – Hamish Rutherford:

David Parker admits new rules on freshwater management have gone too far in defining wetlands, but the difficult path to fixing it shows why the Resource Management Act needs changing.

On Tuesday morning the Herald reported ministers have faced warnings from some of New Zealand’s leading housing and construction companies that the new rules on wetlands effectively mean farm tracks and even the overflow of septic tanks can be captured by the new definition.

As he released the first of three pieces of legislation which will replace the RMA, Parker said the freshwater rules brought into place just prior to the 2020 election would need to be fixed.

“We do accept that that definition’s gone a bit far,” Parker told reporters in the Beehive on Tuesday on the definition of wetlands. . .

Wairarapa durum wheat trial aims to supply NZ bakers:

It’s hoped a trial of durum wheat in the Waiarapa will help supply flour for New Zealand’s growing appetite for pasta.

Durum wheat had been grown in Canterbury and processed in a factory in Timaru, but inconsistency in quality led to the factory moving to Australia.

A Ministry for Primary Industries-funded study carried out between 2017 and 2020 found the wheat could be successfully grown in the Wairarapa thanks to its warm, dry summers and quality soils.

The Foundation of Arable Research is doing further work to see how growers can get the best value for the crop. . . .

Sheep remain dominant on South Island hill and high country –  Keith Woodford:

In previous articles, I first described the North Island’s 4000 commercial hill-country farms (Beef+Lamb Classes 3 and 4). Subsequently, I wrote about the approximately 4400 intensive sheep and beef farms that are spread across both North and South Islands (Beef+Lamb Classes 5, 6, 7 and 8). That left the story of 620 South Island hill-country farms and 200 high-country farms to be told here. It is a contrasting story.

The combined number of South Island hill and high-country farms is modest, comprising less than ten percent of the 9200 commercial sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, these farms comprise more than one third of New Zealand’s total sheep and beef grazing area.

These are big farms both by area and livestock numbers, despite much lower stocking rates than all other farm types.  However, the differences between the hill and high-country farms are sufficient that first I will consider them separately before, drawing out some common themes. . . 

Stoatally different! How the ‘science of individuals’ is changing how we see pests – Jamie McAulay:

It’s just before midday and starting to drizzle as stoat trapper Ana Richards pulls a rotting stoat carcass from a DOC trap and scoops it into a plastic container, dripping.

She’s 4 days into a 6 day trapping trip through Fiordland’s wild Murchison Mountains. From this rugged spur, the stinky stoat will eventually find its way to a University of Otago laboratory, and the forefront of efforts to understand how the ‘science of individuals’ plays out on protection of our native birds. 

We tend to think of pests as pests – a rat is a rat, a stoat is a stoat, right? But we know the types of prey taken by large bodied carnivores, like bears and wolves, actually varies considerably. Individuals have different tastes, or so it would seem. In my research, I joined scientists at the University of Otago, Department of Conservation and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research to see if this was true of the small-sized carnivores too. We set out to understand individual variations in how small carnivores hunt, and how we could use any lessons to our advantage in the fight to protect native species.  . . 


Rural round-up

24/06/2021

Carbon farmers bought swathes of NZ promising to create native forests — but researchers doubt it will work – Eloise Gibson:

A carbon farming business has bought swathes of the country and planted it in pine trees, promising it would one day regenerate into native forest – but researchers who’ve studied the concept doubt it will work.

New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF) has quickly grown to be one of the country’s biggest landowners, with more than 89,000 hectares either owned or leased. NZCF says it is the biggest provider of carbon credits in Australasia, and the biggest participant in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The business model is to find farmland with remnants of native forest nearby to act as a seed stock, then plant pine, which grows quickly and supplies a stream of income from carbon credits. The company says it selects sites with enough rain and decent soil, and that it will thin the pine and control pests, such as deer and possums, to enable indigenous forest to grow underneath (and eventually take over).

But two forestry scientists who helped pioneer the pine-to-native forest concept in New Zealand question whether native regeneration will happen on the scale the business is attempting. . .

DoC’s Mackenzie project dubbed a disaster – David Williams:

A $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project abandoned its business case, lacked oversight, and achieved little. David Williams reports

A drive for greater protection in the fragile South Island high country turned into a “complete disaster”, according to a review ordered by Department of Conservation senior managers.

The external review report, released to Newsroom under the Official Information Act, says the $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project announced in the 2018 Budget had “no formal governance”, the partnerships section of DoC running it did not have “formal project management skills”, and external partners and stakeholders were “disillusioned and have heavily criticised the project”.

Some external parties, such as private landowners, hadn’t been contacted for nearly two years. Relationships with mana whenua were described as strained “at best” . .

Minister not plugged into community signal struggles:

It is unacceptable that a town just 10 minutes from Greymouth has such poor digital connectivity that they are not able to even receive Civil Defence warnings, National’s Digital Economy and Communications spokesperson Melissa Lee says.

Ms Lee has been advocating for rural communities which are being left behind by a lack of digital and communications infrastructure.

Dunollie is a small town on the West Coast and in March, Melissa Lee, along with National List MP based in West Coast-Tasman Maureen Pugh, visited its frustrated residents. Despite having a cell tower on the beach to enable tourists to stay connected, a hill between the beach and the township prevents the locals from accessing the signal. . . 

New Zealand pig farmers demand imported pork measure up to NZ’s animal welfare standard – Lauren Hale:

New Zealand pig farmers are supporting a petition calling for imported pork to be required to meet the same animal welfare standards as New Zealand pork.

Approximately 60 per cent of pork consumed in New Zealand is imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country.

“New Zealand’s pork sector operates to high welfare standards compared to many other countries who have less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes,” says David Baines, chief executive of NZPork, which represents New Zealand pig farmers.

“Our commercial pig herd also has a high health status and is not affected by the diseases that are having a very serious impact on pork industries in many other countries.

Homegrown Butcher named Supreme Champion at 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Dion Kilminster produces top-quality beef and lamb — but the road to success constantly challenges him.

It was by chance that farmer-butcher Dion Kilmister met marketer Ali Scott in a Wellington pub on St Patrick’s Day nine years ago. But together, they’ve overcome the odds in more ways than one.

This year, their mixed box of gourmet beef and lamb took the Supreme Champion gong at the 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producers Awards. “Pure beefiness,” commented one of the judges of the pack, which includes many different cuts of meat as well as gourmet sausages.

In 2018’s honours (see NZ Life & Leisure, May/June 2018), Dion and Ali’s Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion award for its lamb. . . 

Invest Like a Farmer: the surprising similarities between how farmers and venture capitalists think – Sarah Nolet:

As a venture capitalist working in agriculture, I’m constantly surprised by the similarities between how farmers and investors think.

I came to agriculture in a roundabout way. I grew up in Silicon Valley and moved to Boston to study computer science and later work in the defense industry. It was during an accidental gap year in South America, where I was pulling weeds on an organic tomato farm in Argentina, that I first saw the potential to apply my systems background to agriculture.

I realized that much of the technology that was being developed was missing the mark because the people making it — while they were accomplished technologists — didn’t understand the culture, science, or business of farming. That’s when I began to develop my own investment thesis for agtech.

Agriculture has historically been a very different world to the heavily urban-focused startup and technology ecosystem. But though the lines between these two worlds are blurring, there’s still a huge gap between the two; not just in technology application, but also in language, culture and trust. . . .


Rural round-up

22/06/2021

Farmers’ $3500 flood clean-up grants ‘disappointing’ – Sally Murphy:

Canterbury farmers who are still cleaning up after the floods earlier this month are being offered $3500.

Heavy rain caused rivers in the region to flood, ripping out fences, washing away feed and depositing huge amounts of shingle on some farms.

The government declared an adverse event and allocated $500,000 to help those affected; $100,000 to three Rural Support Trusts in the area, $350,000 making up the Canterbury Flood Response Fund and $50,000 set aside for other recovery support.

Staff from the Ministry for Primary Industries, councils and industry organisations have been on the ground assessing flood damage on farms. . . 

Govt’s plan for natural areas a brewing scandal – Mike Hosking:

I have become interested in the government’s Significant Natural Areas debacle.

It’s made news of late because of James Shaw appearing to mislead people over how much is or isn’t going on at local council level and the weekend’s protest at Kaikohe.

By way of background, this all began under Nick Smith in 2017. A SNA is basically what is says, important remnants of native habitat. The problem is the councils get to decide what to do with it; remember this is your land.

Once they decide it’s significant, you’re stuck. Existing activity can continue, but future activity is severely curtailed. . .

Meet the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards winners :

Winners at the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards have shown how Kiwi ingenuity and cutting-edge ideas are tackling the primary industry’s biggest challenges.

The winners were announced June 17, after more than 65 entries were received from across New Zealand.

The awards had a new format for 2021, after Covid-19 saw the 2020 event hosted online, Fieldays Innovation Event Manager Gail Hendricks said.

“Categories were organised to follow the innovation life cycle and provide the support, mentoring and exposure innovators needed to bring their revolutionary products to market or grow market share.” . . 

Taieri holidays inspired career path – Shawn McAvinue:

An Australian boy’s dream of a career in the pastoral industries was born during an annual working holiday on a Strath Taieri farm.

The dream was realised by using the tools of science.

Jason Archer joined the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics team at the start of this month.

Dr Archer was born and raised in Australia. . . 

‘Back from the brink’: Vet pulls out all the stops for calf – Sally Rae:

Warning – this is a heartwarming story.

When Oamaru vet George Smith got called to a sick calf on a North Otago dairy farm late last month, it was a standard callout.

But on arrival, dairy farmer Nathan Bayne told him the 4-day-old heifer was the most valuable calf he had ever had and was possibly worth more than $50,000.

Mr Bayne and his wife Amanda, from Henley Farming Co, own the prominent stud Busybrook Holsteins, near Duntroon, which recently held its “platinum edition” sale which generated turnover of $863,000 and a top price of $38,000. . . 

Rural Aid supports farmers with $1000 grants in mouse plight – Samantha Townsend:

They were there in the drought, bushfires and floods, now Rural Aid is stepping in to help farmers battling the prolonged mouse plague.

The national rural charity has announced a $1 million fund to assist mouse plague affected farmers across the country, opening applications for $1000 grants.

“Whether you are a producer in Queensland or out the back of Wellington in NSW or in Victoria or South Australia, people have the common problem and that’s the mice,” Rural Aid CEO John Warlters told The Land.

Mr Warlters said the ongoing feedback they had been receiving was about the circumstances people have been confronted with in the mouse plague nightmare. . . 

 


Can you believe . . .?

21/06/2021

50 Shades of Green has managed to express their frustration in one sentence:

Can you credibly believe any policy that says plant your food productive land in exotic trees so you don’t have to change your behaviour?

The only answer to that is an emphatic ‘NO!’


Easter bunny hunt tally nearly 12,000

05/04/2021

The Central Otago Easter Bunny Hunt rid the region of nearly 12,000 rabbits:

The message could not be any clearer — when it comes to Central Otago and Wanaka’s countryside there is only one bunny welcome at Easter.

Twenty-five teams of 12 set out to prove that at the weekend.

Yesterday the weary hunters from across the South Island and beyond returned to the Dunstan Equestrian Centre near Alexandra to tally the numbers of rabbits killed as part of the expanded-format Great Easter Bunny Hunt.

Traditionally 24 hours long, this year’s Alexandra Lions Club event ran from 8am on Good Friday until yesterday.

The hunt was last held in 2017.

It was cancelled the following year because of the Otago Regional Council K5 rabbit virus release programme.

Further cancellations followed in 2019, due to an extreme fire risk, and last year, because of Covid-19. 

The three-year hiatus and the longer time frame was reflected in the death toll netted from blocks of land from from Millers Flat, to Wanaka, and to Lauder.

A total of 11,968 rabbits were shot along with 555 other pests — stoats, possums, turkeys, and more, making for a total of 12,523 animals shot. . .

My father recalled hillsides moving with rabbits in the Hakataramea Valley in the 1930s.

It’s not that bad in Central Otago now but rabbit numbers are reaching plague proportions in places.

Landowners will be very grateful to the Easter Bunny Hunt hunters who have put a dent in the population.

 


Rural round-up

26/02/2021

Major task ahead for NZ farming – Matthew Reeves:

New modelling from the Climate Change Commission has outlined a major task ahead for the agribusiness industry in New Zealand.

The Government has committed to an extensive emissions reduction plan in order to combat climate change, involving a 10% decline in agricultural emissions by 2030, and a 24% to 47% decline by 2050.

Achieving this target will require major changes across the agricultural sector, including a significant decline in herd sizes and the uptake of new technologies.

The agriculture sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in New Zealand, accounting for around 40% of current emissions in the country. The bulk of this comes from livestock methane emissions, including 51% from the country’s 6.1 million dairy cattle, and 47% from the country’s 26.2 million sheep and 4 million beef cattle. . .

Milk packs punch agaisnt flu – Gerald Piddock:

We already know milk is good for the bones, but now research shows that drinking milk could help ward off the flu.

New research has found that a protein-based ingredient from milk is an effective antiviral agent against a common influenza virus species.

The study commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, found that Immune Defence Proteins (IDP) was 120% more effective against the virus Influenza A when compared to the protein lactoferrin.

Testing on the herpes simplex virus netted a similar result. . . 

‘RA 20 virus’ a danger to New Zealand farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation.

It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long term than Covid-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA20 but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. . . 

Better connection now – Rural News:

We may now be into the third decade of the 21st century, but unfortunately much of NZ’s rural broadband and mobile coverage remains at third world levels.

That is unacceptable in a modern, first-world country like New Zealand. How is it still the case that many farmers and rural businesses around the country have to buy costly equipment to get broadband, while many others cannot even get mobile phone coverage at all?

As the Technology Users Association of NZ (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young says, rural people should be getting the same level of connectivity in terms of broadband and mobile coverage as the people who live in urban areas.

It is even more important for rural people to have high quality connectivity, given their often remote locations and the fact that they are running significant businesses – not only farming, but other service related enterprises. . . 

Manuka saving honey’s buzz – Richard Rennie:

While demand for Manuka honey continues to surge, other honey varieties remain moribund, with low prices starting to pressure beekeepers out of the industry.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 2020 Apiculture Monitoring report has highlighted how a good harvest season last summer translated into a surge in volumes of all honey produced, with per hive yield of manuka up 39% on the year before in the North Island.

Overall however, the sector experienced a slide of 6% in average export prices despite a weaker NZ dollar, with a significant 28% export volume increase driving the overall 20% increase in total export value.

The report has highlighted the growing gap between high-value manuka and all other multi-floral manuka/non-manuka honeys. . . 

Helping emerging industries is growing Australian agriculture – John Harvey:

Opportunities within the agricultural sector are constantly evolving.

We see consumers hungry for new products and changing requirements and expectations for food production.

You only have to look at shifting attitudes about eating meat to see how quickly things evolve.

And that is one of the reasons I think it is vital that Australia continues to invest in our emerging agricultural and food production industries. . . 


Rural round-up

28/11/2020

IrrigationNZ looks to the future – Annette Scott:

Irrigation New Zealand as an organisation is well-positioned with key influencers and decision-makers but there are still challenges ahead for the industry, its leaders say.

Addressing the annual meeting in Christchurch, chair  said irrigation still, in many circles, has a negative connotation.

“It is automatically seen as a direct enabler of intensification and, therefore, poor water quality,” Johnston said.

“Our job is to change the conversation around irrigation, steering it away from being an emotive conversation to one where our communities recognise its benefits.” . .. 

Remarkable Queenstown property gifted to QEII:

An iconic Queenstown landscape at the foot of the Remarkables Range will be gifted to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII) for the benefit and enjoyment of all New Zealanders, as announced in Queenstown on Wednesday morning.

Dick and Jillian Jardine, owners of Remarkables Station, intend to gift the ownership of 900 ha of the property to QEII, to be held in perpetuity, ensuring the significant landscape and biodiversity on the property is protected on behalf of all New Zealanders.

This generous gift to the nation will ensure that a key landscape component at the foot of the iconic Remarkables will remain unspoilt forever. . .

 The border is NZ’s first defence against Covid-19 – but the rules will be relaxed to ensure our crops are harvested– Point of Order:

Having reminded Parliament that New Zealanders in October elected a majority Government for the first time under our Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, and that the Government enjoys the confidence of a clear majority of members in the House of Representatives, the Speech from the Throne set out the policy programme we can expect to be implemented.

The first objective is to keep New Zealanders safe from COVID and:

“The first layer of defence is our border.  With COVID cases increasing around the world, in a growing number of countries, the risk of travelers arriving at the border with COVID increases.  The Government will continue to strengthen border protections.  Testing, infection control procedures, and professional and quality staffing will remain cornerstones of the response.”

But the speech also signalled the Government’s intention to: . . . 

Plant a Seed for Safety:

With a passion for the dairy industry running through her veins, Hayley Metcalfe savours the sweet memories of her childhood – a honey sandwich in one hand, watching the cows come into the shed and patiently awaiting the bliss of a full-cream hot chocolate, straight out of the vat. Home for Hayley, her partner and her two children is a lifestyle block on ‘Metcalfe Road’, aptly named after her father and not far from the mighty Waikato town of Ngahinapouri. Following in her father’s footsteps – a successful dairy farmer, man in governance and data analyst – Hayley is proud to share her story of working with the Livestock Improvement Cooperation (LIC) to deliver valuable information to farmers, boost milk quality and production while maintaining a strict focus on keeping both her team and the farmers they interact with safe and healthy.

When asked what concerned Hayley about the health, safety and wellbeing of those in rural industries and communities, she spoke of her constant worry during peak herd testing times, where her team are notorious for working extremely long hours at both ends of the day, six days a week. As such, Hayley makes it her prerogative to set each and every one of her people up for success – ensuring everyone is well-versed in the importance of looking for potential problems, assessing the risks and taking preventative action. Colloquially known as ‘change junkies’, her team are completely and utterly free to flex their initiative to find and implement solutions to keep themselves safe, without hassle or question. This, Hayley says, is key to building a culture that values the importance of health and safety. . . 

A circle of care :

Tanya Sanders not only helps to run a 380-cow dairy farm in Northland, but also works as a GP locum in the area.

Over the years, Tanya has attended enough Fieldays, ‘health hubs’ and other rural events to see what really helps farmers manage the ups and downs of farming. She acknowledges it’s been a big year for farmers in the region with drought, floods and covid lockdown, on top of all the usual work demands. There are other pressures too, she says.

“I think most farmers in Northland can manage covid restrictions, floods and droughts, but many families are still struggling with the ongoing impact of M bovis, which tends to get forgotten,” she said.

“The other thing that’s often overlooked is what’s happening to the industry itself – our occupational wellness. Changing regulations are stressful and have a big impact on us and our families. That’s what gets discussed most often over my kitchen bench.” . .

 

Future orchards and sustainable fishing systems recognised in Primary Industry Awards:

Plant & Food Research Rangahau Ahumāra Kai has won two Primary Industry Awards, recognising innovations in orchard design and sustainable fishing systems.

The Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS) science team received the Primary Industry Science and Research Award in recognition of their work in creating a new growing system that increases the productivity potential of New Zealand’s apple, pear and summerfruit orchards.

“The FOPS design, led by Dr Stuart Tustin, was based on our understanding of plant physiology and developmental biology,” says Dr Jill Stanley, Science Group Leader at Plant & Food Research. “Theoretically we knew it was possible to increase the light captured by the canopy and that this would greatly increase productivity”. . . 


Rural round-up

17/11/2020

The wrong investment – Mike Chapman:

House prices across the country have risen nearly 20% to a median $725,000 in the past 12 months. At the same time, New Zealand’s Reserve Bank has announced a $28 billion programme aimed at forcing down borrowing costs and left the official cash rate at 0.25%.

Thankfully though, the Reserve Bank is concerned about the residential property market, with Governor Adrian Orr commenting that the Bank “has seen a marked acceleration in higher risk loans, particularly to investors in the property market”. As a result, the Reserve Bank is considering imposing loan to value ratio restrictions, in a bid to curb risky lending in the residential property market.

Simply put, investing in residential property will not aid New Zealand’s recovery from the current economic downturn. The housing market does not produce products that can be eaten or used by consumers. It does not create jobs, and it does not earn overseas return through exports. It is a wasted investment when what we should be investing in is New Zealand’s economic recovery.

This is, in my view, where the Reserve Bank’s focus should be: enabling significant investment in businesses that will drive our much-needed economic recovery and create jobs. . . 

Counting the toll of the Lake Ōhau fire: Native plants, predator traps went up in smoke – Tess Brunton:

A Lake Ōhau resident says thousands of dollars worth of native plants and 80 predator traps went up in smoke when the fire tore through the village earlier this month.

More than 5000 hectares and multiple properties were burnt in the blaze.

Before the fire, Lake Ōhau was surrounded by dryland with tussocks and shrubs, special plants that could survive the dry summers and bitterly cold winters. Beech forest grew down onto the lakeshore and along three creeks that drain the hills behind the village.

It was home to native birds, lizards and insects. . . 

 

Mission to empower, inspire women – Sally Rae:

When it comes to goals, Steph Matheson dreams pretty big.

Mrs Matheson (27) is on a mission: to make sure women feel they are not alone, that they are confident and comfortable “in their own skin” and that they feel as if they can do anything.

Through Project Steph 2.0, her personal blog, her overarching goal is to spread that message globally online.

It is not all unicorns and fairy dust; her content is realistic and raw as she talks about health, wellness, family and rural living in Gore. . .

Young auctioneer outbids to win coveted title – Annette Scott:

Andrew Sherratt was not just going for the bid, he was gunning for the title when he took up the gavel in the 2020 Young Auctioneer of the Year competition. He talked with Annette Scott.

When Andrew Sherratt was finishing up his studies at Lincoln University he wasn’t certain what career pathway he would take.

But with the prestigious New Zealand Stock and Station Agents’ Association (NZSSAA) Young Auctioneer trophy in hand, he is convinced he eventually made the right decision.

In one of the closest contests yet, Sherratt headed off the seven finalist contestants in the ninth annual 2020 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer competition held at Canterbury Agricultural Park. . . 

Fruit and vegetable prices squashed in October:

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 5.6 percent in October 2020 as the local growing season picked up, Stats NZ said today.

Fruit and vegetable prices follow a very seasonal trend and typically fall in October, with the lowest prices for the year in summer.

“Warmer weather makes it easier to grow many crops, with higher supply making these products cheaper,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said. . . 

50,000 salmon smolt released into Lake Tekapo:

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon and Central South Island Fish & Game Council released 50,000 smolt into the crystal clear waters of Lake Tekapo last week.

The young salmon, which are about two years old, were raised at the nearby Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ohau hatchery on the Ohau Canal. Last week’s release was part of the Fish & Game Council’s “put and take” programme in Lake Tekapo, developed over the past 10 years.

Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams says the release will “reinvigorate” the salmon fishery in the lake, but they will need time to grow to between two and four pounds.

The tanker load of smolt was taken to the outlet of Lake McGregor on the western shore of Lake Tekapo for release. . .


Rural round-up

08/09/2020

Much of the plan is not common sense’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson estimates it will cost him about $1.6 million to comply with the new freshwater rules for fencing off waterways on his Central Otago hill country property.

He will also have to take about 47ha out of use to follow the 5m buffer rule.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 sets out new objectives and policies for farming including waterways, nutrient losses and winter grazing and the rules come into effect tomorrow.

He agrees with Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young that some of the rules are unworkable and supports Mr Young’s recent call for a boycott of the new rules. . . 

Revelations in the cow shed – Peter Burke:

Mental health and connectivity are two of the main issues affecting dairy farmers in this country according to a survey by DairyNZ.

The so called ‘cow shed’ survey shows that 62% of farmers say that they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says he was “quite surprised” at how high this number was.

“I think the stresses that came out in the survey were drought, with two thirds of those surveyed saying they had been affected by drought in the last little while,” he told Dairy News.

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Doc’s revised 2020/21 tahr management plan is ideology hidden in a glossy brochure:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association believes the Department of Conservation’s revised tahr control operational plan released yesterday shows that culling the Himalayan tahr herd as now planned is based on ideology, political interference, a lack of quality data and science, and made to appease the extreme views of Forest & Bird who continue to maintain their threat of bad faith court action.

Deerstalkers Association Chief Executive Gwyn Thurlow says the decision defies good sense and logic and is another example of a string of poor decisions made by this Government.

Gwyn Thurlow says “After reviewing the latest iteration of the plan, we can see no substantive change to the Department’s approach from before the High Court win by the Tahr Foundation because the bottom line is the number of operational hours has not reduced. This means our tahr herd will be decimated, as feared. . . 

$4.7 million in funding for SVSS from MPI:

A project to boost vegetable growers’ efforts to care for the health of the environment while supplying fresh, healthy food, has received $4.7 million in government backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The funding adds to the $2.8 million already invested by industry into Sustainable Vegetable Systems, a four-year project, focused on improving crop nutrient management for the growing of potatoes, onions, brassicas, butternut squash, carrots, and leafy greens.
MPI is investing in the project from the Productive and Sustainable Land Usepackage, which promotes farming and growing practices that deliver more value and improved environmental outcomes. . . 

Campaign to boost British venison amid fall in demend :

An innovative working group has been created across England and Wales to reignite the venison market following a drop in demand due to Covid-19.

The group will focus on strengthening existing markets and opening new channels to counter competition provided by imports and slashed demand.

The Wild Venison Working Group is chaired by the Forestry Commission and has representation from stakeholders in woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping, and venison supply sectors.

In the absence of natural predators, the deer population in the United Kingdom is at its highest level for the last 1,000 years. . . 


Rural round-up

07/09/2020

Farmers surveyed on wildly inaccurate ‘low slope’ maps – Feds:

With the government already agreeing flawed aspects of new freshwater regulations will need to be changed, Federated Farmers is highlighting the case for a review of land deemed ‘low slope’ for the purposes of stock exclusion from waterways.

“We’re about to survey our members to get more specific information on where the Ministry for the Environment’s final low slope maps are wrong, so we can advocate for the best way forward,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“The low slope maps take in some hill and high country that is so steep, the farmers will need to pay for helicopters to lift poles and other supplies in order to fence off the waterways. . . 

Red meat sector issues pointers for politicians – Eric Frykberg:

The red meat sector has given political parties a sharp reminder of what they must do to maintain the industry’s economic strength, and say unbalanced climate change mitigation could threaten productive farmland.

The recommendations included not allowing fossil fuel users who emit carbon dioxide to get a free ride off the forestry sector and risk smothering farmland.

Another was to establish better water storage systems to prepare for dehydrated conditions made worse by climate change.

These and other comments are contained in a new publication, the New Zealand Red Meat Report. . . 

Light at the end of the long winding wool tunnel – Trevor Suthridge:

The trials and tribulations of the sheep wool industry have been well-aired over the years. Anyone who has taken an interest in the industry, specifically in crossbred wool, will know farmers are currently facing such low prices that it has been uneconomic in some cases to even shift the wool off their farms.

Therefore, right now it may be difficult for those involved in the industry to see light at the end of the tunnel. Yet as researchers with a long history of studying this special fibre, we still see reason to be optimistic about its long-term prospects.

The Wool Industry Project Action Group, which one of our Science Impact Leaders Andy Cooper sits on, recently delivered an important report that laid out these challenges and started an important conversation around matters of leadership, coordination, strategy and funding. . .

Strong wool sector gears collaborative and consumer focused :

A renewed focus on stimulating consumer-led innovation will be brought to the strong wool sector with the establishment of the Strong Wool Action Group.

The Strong Wool Action Group is a collaboration of representatives from across the primary sector who have come together to carry out the recommendations of the Wool Industry Project Action Group report, which was released in July this year.

The group’s Chair Rob Hewett said the group would lead change in the sector by bringing a broad range of skills and consumer focus to the challenges facing strong wool. . .

Research highlights lack of female leadership in horticulture industry:

Research commissioned by industry collective Women in Horticulture shows significant gender disparity amongst senior roles in New Zealand’s horticulture industry.

Despite women representing 50 percent of workers in the industry, the UMR study found women held less than 20 percent of leadership positions, with women missing from the top tables of many of our horticultural organisations.

A new website launched this week aims to tackle this imbalance by fostering an environment which will empower, value and support the thousands of women working in the horticulture industry across New Zealand. . . 

Marlborough wine industry to celebrate after hard slog during Covid

The wine industry reacted well to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is now keen to celebrate the wines that resulted from that period, Wine Marlborough says.

Strict lockdown rules struck at the start of this year’s harvest, requiring the industry to adapt rapidly to workforce requirements in order to get the fruit off the vines in time.

Entries open today for the 2020 Marlborough Wine Show.

The competition is the country’s largest regional wine show, and a chance to highlight all of Marlborough’s styles from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir, Rosé to Pinot Gris and Chardonnay to Gewurztraminer, with special emphasis on sub regional diversity. . . 

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ltd is pleased to announce the appointment of Carl Carrington to its board:

Carl was Chief Executive of Moana for six years, previously known as Aotearoa Fisheries. Moana has a major interest in Sealord which in turn owns 100% of Petuna, a Tasmanian salmon company.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Chairman Sir Bill English said he was “pleased to welcome Carl to our board at a time when like all other businesses we face new uncertainties.”

“Carl has deep knowledge of the seafood industry along with marketing experience in New Zealand and overseas,” he said. “He also has established relationships in markets where we export and he will provide a valuable strategic view for our board.” . . 


Rural round-up

11/08/2020

Dry July puts Marlborough farmers at risk of spring drought – Sophie Trigger:

Marlborough farmers are relying on “significant” spring rain to avoid drought, figures show.

Last month’s weather data from the Marlborough Research Centre showed the region had recorded just 26 per cent of the long term July average, with 16.8mm.

Total rainfall in from January to July had been 220.2mm, or 59 per cent of the long term average. This made 2020 the fifth driest year on record so far, in the 91 years of data available. . . 

Carpet company links with NZ Merino:

Cavalier Bremworth has entered into a partnership with the New Zealand Merino Company to launch long-term forward contracts with its ZQ wool certification grower community.

In a statement, it said the partnership would deliver $5million value direct to New Zealand strong-wool growers over the next three years as Cavalier Bremworth moved away from synthetic products in favour of wool and natural fibres.

“Partnerships like this are so important for New Zealand’s economic recovery, adding value in generating local employment with transparency and gives confidence and reward to the growth of the New Zealand strong wool sector.

“It’s great to see local brands like Cavalier shifting the dial and walking the talk in helping counter climate change and carbon emissions with more regenerative fibres,” NZM chief executive John Brakenridge said. . . 

Muster’ brings in the younger generation – Sally Rae:

Georgia Urquhart had a couple of sleepless nights prior to the Nextgen Muster.

Miss Urquhart (24) was a driving force behind the initiative which aimed to get more young people involved in — and learning about — the merino industry.

Initially, she feared no-one would turn up or there might only be five, so she was thrilled when 68 attended the first day at Benmore Station, near Omarama, and about 40 the second at Simons Hill Station, in the Mackenzie district — “way more” than she expected.

Miss Urquhart grew up on Grays Hills Station in the Mackenzie, which includes a merino stud that she has become increasingly involved with over the last several years. . . 

New Zealand’s lesser known honeys to get a boost in international markets:

New Zealand’s apiculture industry has embarked on a collective story-telling drive to educate ‘conscious foodie’ consumers offshore about its diverse range of native honey varieties.

Apiculture New Zealand has joined forces with New Zealand Story to create a suite of compelling promotional material about lesser known honey varieties.

Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand says although mānuka honey continues to yield strong export prices and has provided a ‘halo effect’ for other New Zealand honeys, the shrinking margins for non-mānuka styles mean producers are now competing in a commoditised market. . . 

Permission granted for new potato protector:

A new herbicide that controls potato weeds, like black nightshade, has been approved for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

Boxer Gold contains the active ingredient prosulfocarb, which is new to New Zealand, but already approved in the European Union, Australia, and Japan.

Benefits identified in the application process for this product include reduced resistance in weeds, leading to bigger potato crops, and more product choice for farmers. . . 

AACo rolls out the Wagyu flavour wheel :

THE unique flavour, texture and aroma of Australia’s famous Wagyu beef can now be marketed using a world-first flavour profile.

Developed by The University of Queensland in partnership with the Australian Agricultural Company, the new flavour wheel is designed to provide product descriptors and to differentiate the different Wagyu cuts and marbling grades.

Sensory and flavour expert Dr Heather Smyth said flavour wheels were commonly used by the wine, seafood, coffee, beer and cocoa industries to describe flavour and sensory properties . . 


Rural round-up

18/07/2020

Harvesters fear for industry as temporary workers’ visa expiration looms – Nona Pelletier:

The horticulture industry warns it may have to cut back on the harvest, if the government does not move quickly to head-off a critical labour shortage in spring.

The hospitality, pork, shearing, dairy and agricultural services industries were also concerned about labour shortages, with thousands of working holiday visas expected to expire on or before 25 September.

More of concern was the skilled temporary workers who were unable to re-enter the country.

The minister of immigration promised the horticultural industry that it would be able to recruit up to 14,400 registered seasonal workers from Pacific Islands later this year. . . 

Rural mental health service inundated by women hoping ‘farm speak’ will save men – Pip Courtney and Margot Kelly:

Mothers, wives and sisters have overwhelmed a suicide prevention service with stories of loss and grief after it featured on ABC Landline.

The founder, plant scientist Mary O’Brien, said women left behind after a son, brother, or husband took their own lives, also needed support but often slipped through the cracks.

Ms O’Brien said country women had contacted her to share their stories and thank her for encouraging rural men to ask for help when they were mentally ‘bogged’.

“Many had lost sons and several had lost a father and a brother, or a brother and a husband,” Ms O’Brien said. . . 

Stoat breakthrough could be the key to eradication:

In a country with few living native predators, stoats are the kings of the forest.

Despite appearances, these mustelids are brutal creatures: carnivores who can kill animals many times their size, from rabbits and hares to possums, birds, and even freshwater crayfish.

In many environments in New Zealand, they are the top predator.

As such, they’re a big threat to many of our native species, and the eradication of stoats is a key point in New Zealand’s ambitious goal to be predator-free by 2050.

At the moment, we rely largely on chemical drops and organised trapping missions to get rid of them – but a scientific breakthrough may have changed that. . . 

‘Jaw-droppingly beautiful’: Wanaka winery makes top 50 list

A list of the world’s 50 best vineyards for wine tourism has named a Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay estate as being among the best.

And those two Kiwi vineyards rank in the top 20 in the world in the list out today.

The global list of wine tourism destinations named Argentina’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco in the top spot for the second year running.

Bodega Garzón in Uruguay was second for a consecutive year and Domäne Wachau in Austria jumped 16 places to claim third spot this year.

But Central Otago’s Rippon, on the Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Rd, placed 13th and was also named the best vineyard in Australasia. . . 

Congratulations to Annabel Angland – Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020:

Annabel Angland from Peregrine became the Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020 on 16 July following the competition held at Otago Polytechnic Central Campus in Bannockburn.

Congratulations also goes to Liam Burgess from Viticultura who came second and Jordan Moores from Felton Road who came third.

There were eight contestants competing in total. The other five contestants were Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm, Hannah van Velthoven from Prophets Rock, Daniel Brewster from Akarua, Annabel Wylie from Rippon and Theresa Woessner from Domaine Thomson.

“It was one of the closest competitions, we’ve ever seen” said Nick Paulin, the Regional Organiser, and all judges commented on the high calibre of the contestants. . .

 

 

Burger King’s “breathe the farts of change” not passing the sniff test– Dr Frank Mitloehner:

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, hold the methane?

new communication campaign from Burger King is promising beef that comes from cows that are 33 percent less gassy on average, allowing the international fast-food chain’s consumers to have it their way without guilt.

Burger King, which is part of Restaurant Brands International, has been adding lemongrass to cows’ diets in an attempt to cut down on cattle’s methane emissions. Given the greenhouse gas’ role in global warming, it’s a big deal. If nothing else, decreasing methane would buy us time to try and get a handle on carbon dioxide emissions, the No. 1 elephant in the room – and in the atmosphere.

According to Burger King, cattle that consume the modified diet produce up to one-third less methane than cows that eat a more traditional diet. “ … We found that by adding 100 grams of dried lemongrass leaves to the cows’ daily feed, we were able to see a reduction of up to 33% on average of methane emissions during the period the diet was fed (the last three-to-four months of the cow’s life in the case of our research),” the website states.

It’s a noble pursuit, and such results would definitely be welcome, but has Burger King jumped the gun? . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/07/2020

Farm owner rejects carbon bids to buy East Coast station – Tom Kitchin:

A Gisborne farmer is ecstatic that a large sheep and cattle station in Tolaga Bay – which has just changed hands for the first time in nearly half a century – will not be turned into forestry.

Earlier this week the Labour Party announced plans to introduce legislation limiting forestry conversions of the most productive land, if it wins re-election.

Annette Couper is saying goodbye to Mangaheia Station, a farm that’s been in her family since the 1970s.

She said selling up was tough, but none of her daughters were farmers. . .

Shortage of skilled operators – Yvonne O’Hara:

Invercargill agricultural contractor Daryl Thompson is more than “extremely worried” about finding enough skilled and experienced staff to operate his expensive equipment for the coming season.

“On a scale of one to 10, ranging from not worried to extremely worried, I am sitting at a 12.”

Mr Thompson, of DThompson Contracting, usually employs 50 to 60 people in Southland during the season, including trainees and retired farmers. . .

Tahr Foundation welcomes landmark High Court decision on DoC’s controversial extermination plan:

The Tahr Foundation is welcoming the High Court decision halting DOC’s controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps.

The Foundation asked the High Court for a judicial review of DOC’s plan to exterminate all Himalayan Tahr in national parks and sharply reduce tahr populations in other areas.

The application was heard in the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday and Justice Dobson has just released his decision this afternoon.

In the decision, Justice Dobson says that DOC is to reconsider its decision to proceed with the 2020-2021 plan after consulting with interests represented by the Foundation and other stakeholders. . . 

B+LNZ’s Economic Service celebrates 70th anniversary:

This month marks the 70th anniversary of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service, which was initially set up in 1950 to help a struggling post-war sheep sector.

The Service was established as a joint venture between the Meat Board and Wool Board after a 1947 Royal Commission study recommended establishing a Sheep Industry Board to collect and document factual information about farm production and economics.

This continues to be done today, as it was back in 1950, through the Economic Service’s Sheep and Beef Farm Survey.

As well as giving insight into the state and financial health of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, the information gathered through the Survey is used to inform local, regional and central government policy, underpin forecasts and trends in meat and wool production. It also enables farmers to benchmark their own businesses against others in their cohort. . . 

Property sales to finance wool :

Plans to sell and lease back its portfolio of properties are part of a range of ways Cavalier is financing its natural fibre strategy, chief executive Paul Alston says.

Alston said listing the firm’s three industrial sites in Auckland, Napier and Whanganui is about transforming the company into a high-end, premium flooring brand rather than strengthening the balance sheet.

“We are comfortable with current debt levels,” he said, referring to the sale and lease back plans and noted the firm can access more bank funding to cope with any covid-related impacts. . . 

£2m grant to help Scottish farmers create more woodland :

Over £2 million is being made available to Scottish landowners and farmers to help them play their part in creating more woodland.

The support is part of Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant, which will help farmers and foresters buy specialist woodland equipment.

This could range from poly tunnels, seed trays through to mounding equipment, work site welfare units and small scale sawmills for wood processing. . .


Rural round-up

26/06/2020

Govt’s obsession with planting trees a big mistake – Mike Hosking:

am glad the forestation of this country at the expense of good, productive farmland finally appears to be getting the sort of attention it deserves. The trouble with a crisis, is it takes your eye off all sorts of balls, and  various issues would have had far greater scrutiny if we hadn’t had a virus to deal with.

Planting trees to allow us to meet our Paris accord deal is potentially a catastrophic mistake that is unfolding before our eyes.

Firstly, because our calling card to the world is not our climate credentials, it’s the food we sell. For that you need productive land. Under the Emission Trading Scheme changes, the price of carbon lifts. As it lifts, it becomes more attractive to buy land to plant trees.

Planting trees is easy, and people always take the easy path. And what makes this worse is many who invest in these trees have no intention of harvesting them. They’re simply there to clip the ticket. . . 

Majority of farmers find Fonterra Shareholders’ Council ineffective – survey – Eric Frykberg:

The main watchdog for dairy giant Fonterra has been told it has to lift its game.

The comments came in the first of a two-part inquiry into Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The council is supposed to monitor the company on behalf of its 10,000 farmer shareholders, but it has incurred a lot of criticism including comments from the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that it was “less a watchdog than a lapdog”.

The Shareholders Council commissisoned a review of itself last year, chaired by veteran public servant James Buwalda. . . 

Wool classer receives merit award – Yvonne O’Hara:

Wool has always been part of Anne-Marie Parcell’s life.

“I love it and not a day goes by when I am not staring at sheep or touching wool. If I am not spinning it, I am shearing or crutching or drafting. I never wear polar fleece,” the Bannockburn wool classer said.

And neither did the two lambs that turned up last week wearing wearing wool jackets.

Ms Parcell was delighted when she was given a merino merit award from the New Zealand Wool Classers Association recently, for the clip she classed at Northburn Station, near Cromwell. . .

Fonterra announces Peter McBride as chairman elect:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) has announced that current Farmer Director, Peter McBride has been selected as the Co-operative’s Chairman-elect by his fellow Directors.

Under Fonterra’s constitution, its Chairman is selected by the Board from within its pool of seven elected Farmer Directors.

Mr McBride will replace current Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan when he retires as a Director of the Co-op at its Annual Meeting this November. . .

Adept wool presser will never give up :

Here’s a riddle … If two shearers clip a total of 100 sheep, and one shears three more than the other — what is the tally for each? Turangi Morehu jokes that he has asked this riddle to many in the shearing fraternity over the years, including world champion Sir David Fagan “and I’m still waiting for his answer”, he quips.

Mr Morehu, known to most as Tu, “after one and before three”, is the ubiquitous and hard-working character floating between the gangs of Peter Lyons Shearing, keeping an eye on things for Mr Lyons and wife, Elsie.

Originally from Tuatahuna and spending his younger years in Rotorua, Mr Morehu has worked as a wool presser since he left school at the age of 13 . .

Kauri still waiting for dieback plan – Farrah Hancock:

A pest management plan for kauri dieback is missing in action. Farah Hancock reports.

Thirty months after it was announced, there’s still no National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback.

In 2017, the Government said it was moving immediately to strengthen efforts to protect kauri trees. One of those efforts was creating a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP).

“An NPMP shows how serious we are about protecting kauri. It is by far the strongest piece of regulation available and will ensure mandatory hygiene practices, consistent regulations that apply nationally, stronger governance and access to funding,” said Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor when he announced the plan in December 2017. . .

Britain opens free trade negotiations with New Zealand – Liz Truss:

This week is the start of an exciting new chapter in the shared history of Britain and New Zealand.

Our two island nations are already close friends, bound tightly by cultural, economic and social ties that have stood the test of time.

Britain is the largest ex-pat community in New Zealand. We both share a language, a head of state and a system of common law. We also share a strong commitment to free and fair trade, and believe fundamentally in the rule of law and the power that democracy has to drive forward human progress. . .


Rural round-up

04/06/2020

Market base is strong but . . .  Annette Scott:

Despite significant primary sector disruption from covid-19 and drought Beef + Lamb forecasts a positive outlook for sheep and beef exports this season. 

It’s mid-season update says beef, lamb and mutton farmgate prices will maintain their high levels.

That is supported by a strong start to the first half of the season and an expected weakening of the New Zealand dollar.

While the drought and covid-19 have both had impacts for farmers and meat processors the fundamentals look likely to remain strong for sheep meat and beef exports this year, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt said.  . . 

Govt’s N fertiliser cap ignores basic science – Doug Edmeades:

Dr Doug Edmeades takes a look at the problems with the Government’s nitrogen fertiliser caps.

The Government’s recent decision to cap N fertiliser inputs at 190 kg N/ha/yr is doomed to failure because it ignores the basic science.

When an animal urinates, it applies N at the rate of about 500 to 1000 kg N/ha.

This is too much for the pasture and soil to accommodate and hence results in a huge excess of soluble N in a localised spot of soil, which is then subject to leaching into waterways. . . 

Pioneer in deer industry, conservation dedicates award to supporters – Liz Chen:

A man who received a Queen’s Birthday honour for services to wildlife conservation and the deer industry says the award is shared with everyone who’s made a contribution.

Murray Powell, now 89, established the Hilldale Zoo and Wildlife Park in 1969, now the Hamilton Zoo, and together with his late wife put significant investment towards the zoo’s development over the years.

The zoo is now one of Hamilton’s leading attractions with more than 140,000 visitors a year.

It runs successful breeding programmes as well as conservation and research projects for both nationally and internationally endangered species. . .

Face masks featuring New Zealand wool filters under ‘huge demand’:

A superior face mask product developed by an innovative New Zealand company using New Zealand wool is now under extremely high demand globally.

Farmers contracted to Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) are supplying specialist-breed New Zealand Astino wool to air filter producer Lanaco, which uses it as the key ingredient in a vast range of air filtration applications.

Lanaco’s protective face masks which feature its ‘Helix’ wool air filters have now received a huge surge in demand since the global Covid-19 outbreak began.

Nick Davenport, CEO of Lanaco, says the company only started making face masks last year following significant research and development work, and is now struggling to keep up with global demand for the product. . . 

Rural Weekly to cease operation – Andrea Davy:

MY FIRST day working for the Rural Weekly newspaper I called a grazier in the Northern Territory who left me shocked.

As the Rural Weekly is among the News Corp publications that will cease all operations by June 26, it’s an interaction I have been reflecting on.

Coming from a daily paper where one of the biggest challenges of the role was convincing people to share their story, I had my spiel ready to go; I was geared up to convince this humble, most likely shy, station manager that sharing her life story with the masses was a good idea.

People are often wary of journalists; they consider us a nosy and untrustworthy bunch. . .

FAO sets the record straight–86% of livestock feed is inedible by humans :

As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gases that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) is consumed by livestock. It’s not a lot.

The EAT-Lancet report summarizes scientific evidence for a global food system transition towards healthy diets from sustainable agriculture. The report concludes that a global shift towards a diet made up of high quantities of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein and low quantities of animal protein could catalyze the achievement of both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change. . . 

Anne Mottet, an FAO livestock development officer specializing in natural resource use efficiency and climate change, usefully informs us of incorrect, if widespread, information and understanding about the so-called ‘food-feed competition’. . .


Rural round-up

11/05/2020

Vanishing Lands – Andrea Vance & Iain McGregor:

The rutted track climbs up and up. Short, thick tussocks make the trail hard to discern, and a cold gale howls down the valley.

John Templeton doesn’t break stride. He bends into the wind and forges upwards with the speed and sure-footedness of a mountain goat. A dozen excitable dogs trot at his ankles, and at his side Holly Addison, a 24-year-old shepherd. 

The sun is bright in a clear, blue autumn sky. Far below, strands of the Rakaia river weave their way through grey, shingle beds. Mt Arrowsmith towers high above, snow sparkling on its unforgiving peaks. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers: ‘Help us feed our livestock’ – Suz Bremner & Mel Croad:

In some situations actions speak louder than words, and for Hawke’s Bay farmers who have been hit hard this year we have a simple message that we want heard – help us physically feed our livestock and if that can’t be done, allow us our channels to sell them.

We as farmers prepare for drought – we must, otherwise we will simply make life harder for ourselves.

There are enough farmers in Hawke’s Bay who farmed through the 1982-83 drought and learned from that, and the same will be said for this one.

But what could not be prepared for this year was the combination of drought and a pandemic, which has caused chaos for the wider industry and created issues such as reduced processing capacity and a sudden decline in demand from our international markets that we rely heavily on. . .

Pandemic disruption creates economic opportunity KPMG leader says :

In-house food and fibre production is being touted as one of the ways to claw the economy back post Covid-19.

A report from the business advisory firm KPMG says New Zealand is well-placed to develop greater domestic food production, for its own resilience, and also as a way to market itself as a trusted and reliable exporter.

Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said the pandemic had forced countries to question their reliance on globalisation, and New Zealand was no different.

“I think governments are generally going to look to make themselves a little bit more resilient, and increase the domestic sourcing of key products and critical products to society. So that does mean we are going to see a lot more support for local food systems.” . .

Brothers juggling farm work and studies – David Hill:

Adjusting to the lockdown has proved to be a challenge for students who have returned home to rural areas.

When the lockdown was announced, Lincoln University Young Farmers Club chairman Callum Woodhouse and his brother Archie made the decision to return to the family’s sheep and beef farm at Eketahuna.

“My flatmates are from Canterbury, so when the lockdown was announced they weren’t too worried, but we were stressing about flights and we had to book a last-minute flight and get home.

“The old man was expecting us home anyway in April for the three weeks term holiday, but now he’s getting a few extra weeks’ work out of us.” . . 

A stoat trapper’s guide to elimination – Dave Heatley:

New Zealanders have a lot of experience with islands and unwanted organisms – keeping them away, learning to live with them, and – in just a few cases – eliminating them.

What can that experience tell us about plans to eliminate COVID-19? I can’t claim any expertise on polio, measles, Mycoplasma bovis or thar. But I do have lots of experience trying to eliminate other pests: the stoats, rats, mice and possums that threaten New Zealand’s native birds. At the forefront of that battle are New Zealand’s offshore islands. Following intensive pest-control efforts, many of those islands are now sanctuaries for native birds that are disappearing or gone from the mainland. . .

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2005/S00139/beef-cattle-numbers-up-as-prices-rise.

htmhttps://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/416045/pandemic-disruption-creates-economic-opportunity-kpmg-leader-says

Farmers use flock of sheep in message of support for NHS :

Farmers in Loch Lomond have spent three days trying to round up a flock of sheep to spell out NHS as a message of support to frontline workers.

They creatively paid tribute to health staff who are risking their lives fighting the spread of coronavirus. . .

 

 


The Great Realisation

10/05/2020

Jim Mora is interviewing the poet who wrote and read this.

Kiwi-born Welsh poet Tomos Roberts (aka Probably Tom Foolery) has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world with his video ‘The Great Realisation’. The fairytale-esque poem details the grim realities of pre-Covid life, such as pollution and overconsumption, before imagining a brighter future once the pandemic is over. Since being posted last week, the video has been viewed more than 30 million times, and garnered attention from A-list celebrities including Jake Gyllenhal, Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore.

The interview is here.


Rural round-up

26/04/2020

Mental health during a global pandemic:

Farmers are used to adversity. We are used to our livelihoods, and our families effected by forces beyond our control.

We watch as our entire crop is destroyed in a ten-minute storm. We grieve powerless, as disease rips through our herd. And we have seen our food stores burnt to the ground during times of conflict. We watch market prices tank when global production is good, we pray for rain, for markets, for health and for safety. And, on a daily basis we pray for an understanding of who we are and what we do.

Under the pressure of a global pandemic it is suddenly as if the entire world knows a little of what it is to be a farmer. We are perhaps at once the most connected and disconnected as we will ever be, we are a world experiencing fear, failure, grief, anxiety, and hope. And we are experiencing it together and all too often, alone . . 

Rotorua Lakes Council accused of ‘no show’ on SNAs – Felix Desmarais:

Farmers are “disappointed” after Rotorua Lakes Council failed to independently submit on a piece of government policy they say could result in a six percent increase in rates.

But the council says Local Government NZ submitted on its behalf and it does not submit on all proposed policy and legislation changes.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) closed submissions on 14 March. . .

Review of methane contribution a step in the right direction:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s request to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to review and provide advice to the Government on New Zealand’s international greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Climate Change Commission is best placed to ensure there’s consistency between New Zealand’s international and domestic targets, and to provide scientifically-sound, depoliticised advice to the Government.  We support Minister Shaw’s request to the Commission,” says B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager Dylan Muggeridge. 

“The Government took a world leading split-gas approach to the Zero Carbon Act and we ask that the Commission consider if New Zealand’s international target should be recommunicated as a split-gas target. “ . . 

Independent grocers ask for flexibility to open in alert level 3 – Indira Stewart:

The government has been asked for flexibility to allow more independent grocers and other food outlets to fully open at level 3, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The lockdown has crippled produce supply to New Zealanders despite supermarkets staying open and many independent growers and grocers say their businesses might not survive the next few weeks.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Covid-19 crisis had stopped nearly 30 percent of fresh produce making it to retail shelves. . .

Hunters should be allowed on conservation land:

Hunting restrictions at level 3 should be relaxed even further to allow for hunting on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“It simply doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable to hunt on private land but not conservation land.

“Many hunters don’t have access to private land and rely on their local conservation areas to take part.

“ACC data shows that hunting is a safe recreational activity and that those who participate take health and safety seriously. In terms of fatalities hunting is about six times safer than swimming and three and a half times safer than road cycling. . . .

Farm Environment awards recognise value of NZ farmers:

The Covid-19 lockdown has prompted organisers of New Zealand’s most prestigious farm awards to take an innovative approach when recognising this year’s top farmers.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award’s ceremony schedule was interrupted by the country going into lockdown on March 23, after the announcement of only two regions’ winners, Canterbury and East Coast.

“We were determined to keep up the recognition of our other nine regional winners, even if it meant we had to do away with the ceremony and occasion that accompanies it. So we will kick off on April 22 with our first “on line” ceremony, for the Horizons region,” says James Ryan, general manager for award backers the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 


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