Rural round-up

06/10/2022

Rural internet snag – Jessica Marshall:

Despite its importance to the sector, many farmers and rural customers are still managing with subpar internet and mobile phone service.

That’s according to the recent 2022 Federated Farmer Rural Connectivity Survey. 

The survey found that more than half of the approximately 1,200 farmers who responded had reported download speeds at or less than 20 megabytes per second.

Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesman Richard McIntyre says broadband and mobile are vital to farming businesses. . . 

a2 Milk strikes a distribution deal with Chinese partner and sets sights on 2bn annual revenue – Point of Order:

While  the  big  co-op Fonterra  is  the  dominant force  in the  NZ  dairy  industry,  injecting nearly $14bn into regional  economies  through its payout  to  farmers, some  of  the  smaller  companies  have  become  spectacular performers.

Point of  Order  last week   drew  attention  to  how  the  specialist  Waikato processing company Tatua had  outstripped  Fonterra  with  its  2021-22 payout.

This  week a2 Milk  grabbed  a  headline  by  telling the   market it  had renewed exclusive import and distribution arrangements with a Chinese company for five years. This  triggered   fresh interest in  the  company,  which  is  sitting  on  a cash  pile  of $816.5m  It  plans  to  spend $150m of this in a  share buy-back

China State Farm Agribusiness has been a2 Milk’s strategic distribution partner in China since 2013 and is the exclusive import agent for its China label products, including a2’s China label infant milk formula. . . 

Agricultural emissions MOU a positive step :

The new memorandum of understanding between the Government and agribusiness leaders as part of the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions is a step in the right direction, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“The $172 million over four years committed to tools and technology, including $7.75 million in this financial year, is a constructive spend of committed Budget funds.

“National supports the Government’s current emissions targets and budgets.

“Our agricultural sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand, and our farmers are already the world’s lowest emitters.  . . .

Rewarding to invest in renewable power – Tim Cronshaw:

Solar power is only part of the environmental equation that adds up for a Canterbury vegetable and crop grower, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Robin Oakley’s call to put in 564 solar panels at his Southbridge vegetable and arable operation was done with his head and heart.

The ground-mounted solar line-up sits next to the packing shed and powers 40% of the site’s energy needs each year.

Within seven years, the payback from electricity generated by the panels will have covered the capital outlay of $400,000. . . 

Milestone for NAIT as CRV becomes first accredited provider under new standards :

Dairy genetics company CRV NZ has become the first service provider to achieve NAIT accreditation under OSPRI’s more rigorous five-step process.

Representatives from OSPRI today officially presented CRV with its accreditation certificate in Hamilton.

National Manager Quality, Compliance and Assurance Melissa Bailey says the intention of the new voluntary accreditation system is to give farmers more confidence that organisations handling and managing their NAIT data, such as saleyards and meat processors, meet the highest industry-agreed standards.

Under the old system, more than 150 providers were accredited. Farmers were getting notices for not complying and there were some instances where the movements were recorded incorrectly. . . 

 

NT government releases plan to address banana freckle disease outbreak in the Top End – Alicia Perera:

Since first being detected in May, banana freckle has spread to more than 40 properties across the Northern Territory’s Top End region.

One of those is Julie-Ann Murphy and Alan Petersen’s farm, Rum Jungle Organics.

The only commercial farm caught up in the outbreak, they’re now facing the prospect of losing their entire banana plantation for the second time in a decade, as the NT government takes steps to tackle the disease. 

“It’s pretty devastating to do it a second time,” Ms Murphy said. . . 


Meanwhile on the farm . . .

06/10/2022

 


What does ownership mean?

06/10/2022

Thomas Cranmer raises another problem with the government’s Three Waters’ plan – the vexed question of ownership.

At the heart of the Three Waters debate is a question that has been contentious since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – what does ownership really mean and is it the same as rangatiratanga? . . .

Minister Mahuta has been clear that Three Waters will not lead to Maori ownership of water. At the first reading of the Water Services Entities Bill in the House Mahuta was unequivocal in her position: . . 

Outside the debating chamber following the Bill’s introduction Mahuta completely rejected the idea of Maori ownership describing it as a “mistruth in its entirety”. In one sense of course the Minister is correct – she can point to section 15(2)(a) of Bill which states in plain terms that the “water services entity is co-owned by the territorial authorities in its service area”.

However legal experts, most notably Gary Judd KC and Stephen Franks, have been equally clear that the bundle of rights customarily recognised by lawyers and the public as constituting ‘ownership’ has been stripped away from the shares in question. A legal opinion issued to the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, states that:

Councils are expressly denied the rights of possession, control, derivation of benefits, and disposition that are the defining attributes of ownership.

Judd KC reviewed the opinion and endorsed its reasoning and conclusions, adding:

When all the lying statements are put together, as your opinion does, the government’s effrontery is breath-taking.

The opinion concludes that there is “no substance in the so-called shareholding” and that “Ministers appear to have cold-bloodedly decided to confuse Councils and ratepayers with false statements”.

And this is where the dichotomy between the English concept of ownership and the Maori concept of rangatiratanga becomes apparent. Mahuta of course is not interested in an English law concept of ownership – if it will make the Councils and the public feel good about themselves they can have a share certificate to hang somewhere prominent in the Council Chambers. What really counts is rangatiratanga – what Sir Tipene O’Regan defined as “iwi in control of themselves and their assets in their own rohe” – and as far as that is concerned, Mahuta has been ruthless in ensuring that that is given to iwi.  

Indeed in the 2021 Cabinet Paper ‘Protecting and Promoting Iwi/Maori Rights and Interests in the New Three Waters Service Delivery Model’, Mahuta is far clearer about this ambition than she was in the House. In the Paper she states:

An important part of this work has been to ensure recognition of the rights and interests of iwi/Maori in the three waters. Water can be a taonga of particular significance and importance to Maori, and the Crown has a duty to protect iwi/Maori rights and interests under the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and existing and subsequent Treaty settlements. The Crown has responsibilities under the principles of Te Tiriti to protect such a relationship and allow for an appropriate exercise of tino rangatiratanga alongside kawanatanga. The Crown also has broad responsibilities to protect taonga, the exercise of tino rangatiratanga, and the principles of Te Tiriti.

The Paper goes on to set out the key proposals that are intended to protect and promote those interests as follows:

    1. statutory recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Mana o te Wai in legislation;
    2. a mana whenua representative group at the strategic level of the new water services entities exercising greater tino rangatiratanga than the current system allows, which has equal rights to territorial authorities, and a kaupapa Maori selection method for this group;
    3. Te Mana o te Wai statements, which would be issued to the entity by mana whenua, and to which the entity board would be required to respond;
    4. requirements that the board of each entity, collectively, has competence relating to the Treaty of Waitangi, matauranga Maori, tikanga Maori, and te ao Maori;
    5. requirements that the board of each entity includes members with specific expertise in supporting and enabling the exercise of matauranga Maori and tikanga Maori and kaitiakitanga with respect to the delivery of water services;
    6. requirements that the entities fund and support capability of mana whenua to participate in relation to three waters service delivery.

Minister Mahuta describes these proposals as providing “for increased ability for iwi/Maori to exercise rangatiratanga in relation to the regulation, funding, financing and provision of three waters services”. The comprehensiveness and scope of the Paper is breathtaking. Where did those bundle of rights normally attached to shares go? They have been quite unapologetically handed to iwi as a full-blooded expression of rangatiratanga.

 In my view Judd and Franks are right that there is no substance to the so-called shares and that the Government has confused Councils and the public with their statements. In truth the Government is ruthlessly exploiting the “abyss of meaning” referred to by Dr Ranginui Walker and which lies between the concepts of ownership and rangatiratanga.

I don’t understand how to resolve what is in effect two treaties, the Maori version and the English translation of it and the English version and its Maori translation when the English and Maori versions and their translations are different.

As David Lange said in his Bruce Jesson lecture 22 years ago:

. . . It is with no disrespect for Maori feeling for the treaty that I have to say it means nothing to me. It can mean nothing to me because it has nothing to say to me. When I was in office I understood that the government had succeeded to certain legal and moral obligations of the government which signed the treaty, and that in so far as those obligations had not been met it was our responsibility to honour them. But that is the extent of it.

The treaty cannot be any kind of founding document, as it is sometimes said to be. It does not resolve the question of sovereignty, if only because one version of it claims one form of sovereignty and the other version claims the opposite. The court of appeal once, absurdly, described it as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The signatories are, on one side, a distinctive group of people, and on the other, a government which established itself in New Zealand and whose successors represent all of us, whether we are descendants of the signatories or not. The treaty cannot even resolve the argument among Maori themselves in which one side maintains that that you’re a Maori if you identify as such, and the other claims that it’s your links to traditional forms of association which define you as Maori.

As our increasingly dismal national day continues to show, the treaty is no basis for nationhood. It doesn’t express the fundamental rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and it doesn’t have any unifying concept. The importance it has for Maori people is a constant reminder that governments in a democracy should meet their legal and moral obligations, but for the country taken as a whole, that is, and must be, the limit of its significance.

That is an important point.

Successive governments let Maori down and did not meet their responsibilities under the Treaty.

The remedy for that is Treaty settlements, it is not on-going reinvention of obligations and overriding of democracy.

Here I come to the dangers posed by the increasing entrenchment of the treaty in statute. The treaty itself contains no principles which can usefully guide government or courts. It is a bald agreement, anchored in its time and place, and the public interest in it is the same as the public interest in enforcing any properly-made agreement. To go further than that is to acknowledge the existence of undemocratic forms of rights, entitlements, or sovereignty.

The treaty is a wonderful stick for activists to beat the rest of us with, but it could never have assumed the importance it has without the complicity of others. It came to prominence in liberal thought in the seventies, when many who were concerned about the abuse of the democratic process by the government of the day began to see the treaty as a potential source of alternative authority. It’s been the basis of a self-perpetuating industry in academic and legal circles. Many on the left of politics who sympathise with Maori aspiration have identified with the cause of the treaty, either not knowing or not caring that its implications are profoundly undemocratic.

I don’t think it any coincidence that the cause gained momentum in the eighties and nineties, when the government retreated from active engagement in economy and society and in doing so weakened the identification between government and governed which is essential to the functioning of a democracy. It isn’t in the least surprising that undemocratic ideas flourish when democracy itself seems to be failing.

I think that in practice the present government will find it difficult to draw back from its public commitment to the treaty, and that this will almost certainly rob it of its chance to build a more cohesive society and a more productive economy. It has, in the public mind if nowhere else, adopted a goal whose pursuit is inevitably divisive, and it is spending its political capital on it almost by the hour. The result, if the worst comes to the worst, will be a fractured society in which political power will be contested in ways beyond the limits of our democratic experience. . .

Divisiveness is a hallmark of this government which is in marked contrast to its mantra of kindness and what it is trying to do with Three Waters will only increase divisions.

If I don’t understand how differences that arise from a treaty of different versions  can be resolved, I do understand what ownership means and it is not what is proposed for councils under Three Waters.

This week’s Roy Morgan poll, which is often disregarded but which was closest to predicting the result of the last election, shows Labour support has plummeted from an outright majority at the last election to 29.5%, close to the support that persuaded Andrew Little to give up the leadership.

There will be many factors behind this. One of the major ones is the racial divide that the government is fueling and its ramming through Three Waters is a big part of that.


Rural round-up

05/10/2022

Government ban is cancellation over collaboration :

A future National Government will review today’s law change banning live cattle exports, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“Despite National’s opposition, Parliament has today passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill into law, banning the export of live animals by sea from April next year.

“As New Zealanders grapple with a cost of living crisis made worse by the Labour Government, today’s decision signals more economic pain for farmers and consumers.

“An Infometrics Economic Impact Report says this ban will reduce New Zealand’s gross domestic product by $472 million and cost export cattle breeders between $49,000 and $116,000 per farm, every year. . . .

Live cattle export ban a golden opportunity missed for NZ ag – Nicola Grigg:

New Zealand has been robbed of an opportunity to shape welfare standards in the global trade of live animals, with the upcoming passage of a law that will end exports from this country as of April next year.

Once again, we have before us another example of a government that prefers a cancel culture, rather than a constructive culture. This ban came about on the back of the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 in 2019, in which two New Zealanders died.

That was a tragedy, and I do acknowledge those families involved.

But the livestock trade will continue whether or not New Zealand is part of it. Now, unfortunately, other countries with less rigorous animal welfare standards will make up for the gap in the market as New Zealand withdraws. . . 

 

Another record payout for Tatua’s 101 farmer shareholders –  Point of Order:

It  is  only  a star on the  horizon for  the  bulk  of  dairy  farmers — but  this is  what  they  may  aspire  to.  How  about  a  payout of  $11.30kg/MS?

That’s what the 101 farmer-shareholders in  the Waikato  specialist-product-co-op  Tatua  will receive — a  record — for the 2021-22 year.  Tatua will still retain close to $20m  to reinvest in the business.

Tatua  has reported group earnings equivalent to $12.65kg before retentions for the year ended July 31. This was up on the previous year’s earnings of  $10.43kg and was achieved in spite of Covid-related disruption and shipping issues.

The company said group income was $444m ($395m the  previous year), with earnings available for payout of $186m. Retentions were equivalent to $1.35/kg. . . 

Why keeping tabs of Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India – Point of Order:

Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a  trade deal with India.

Australia has secured a free trade deal with  what  is  the  planet’s  fifth-biggest economy.

In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.

Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019. . . 

Pasture-raised advantage New Zealand :

New Zealand scientists have conducted a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is our pasture-raised meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and have undertaken a ground-breaking new research programme that compared pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives. . . .

 

 

 

New research to future-proof New Zealand’s wine sector :

A new experimental vineyard in Blenheim will help enhance the supply of quality grapes for New Zealand’s wine sector into the future.

The new Experimental Future Vineyard facility, based at the New Zealand Wine Centre – Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa, will provide a unique resource for research into wine grape production. Operated by Plant & Food Research, the Experimental Future Vineyard will support productivity and quality aspirations of the New Zealand wine sector by developing new growing practices with improved environmental outcomes.

The new facility will be based within a 600m2 shelter, allowing researchers to control the vineyard environment and build knowledge that will ensure the wine sector is prepared for future challenges. The facility will enable research to be conducted within the vine and beneath the soil, and allow researchers to control aspects of the environment such as soil type and temperature and water availability.

“We’re excited to be a part of Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa,” says Dr Damian Martin, Science Group Leader Viticulture and Oenology at Plant & Food Research. “We know climate change will add to challenges facing wine production in New Zealand, with warmer days and more insect pests and diseases able to establish here. We also know that consumer expectations will continue to evolve, with increased focus on sustainability credentials. Being able to understand how best to grow excellent grapes that allow winemakers to meet their environmental, financial and societal requirements will ensure our wine sector can continue to grow.” . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2022

Massive stockpiles as mānuka buzz fades – Richard Rennie:

Massive stockpiles of both mānuka and non-mānuka honey are the downside of a decade’s worth of double-digit growth as producers face the reality of disposing tonnes of product at severe discounts just to stay afloat.

Jane Lorimer, Waikato beekeeper and president of New Zealand Beekeeping Inc, said she expects to witness a lot of pain before any real gains come out of the industry’s current situation. 

The country’s total stock of honey in storage is estimated to exceed one year’s entire production.

“There will be pain before we see any real gain, most definitely. There are people who came into the industry thinking they would make money relatively easily out of mānuka, only to find they now have to exit.” . . 

 Mayor contenders agree on water storage and ‘broken’ council funding model – Simon Edwards:

They differed on priorities and approach but mayoral candidates for the Wairarapa’s three councils found some common ground on issues impacting farmers and the wider community.

At a 28 September election event in Carterton organised by Federated Farmers Wairarapa and Business Wairarapa, not one of the 11 would-be mayors had any quibble with an audience member who said more water storage in the region was vital.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he was “laser-focused” on the five key focus areas of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy:  “First is land use, and vital to that is water.  The only way to unlock our future is to unleash the delivery of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy,” Lang said.

There also appeared to be a high degree of agreement that amalgamation of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils – probably as a unitary council (i.e. with both territorial and regional council responsibilities) – is on the cards. . . 

 

English hands to the plough – Shawn McAvinue:

English farm machinery operators are travelling to the South to bridge a “dire” staff shortage, agricultural contractors say.

Hunt Agriculture co-owner Alistair Hunt, of Chatton, north of Gore, said it was hard to find staff.

“It is slim pickings.”

Agricultural contractors would be busy up to Christmas, he said. . .

Winners announced in the  inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand awards  :

The winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre last night.

It was a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world leading.

Andrew Morrison, Chairman of B+LNZ reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of COVID-19. 

“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world with around 24 percent of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints.”  . . 

Highly regulated industry better than complete ban supported by research :

Live Animal Export New Zealand (LENZ) says that the passing of the Act banning live animal exports will damage the New Zealand economy and is out of step with the views of the New Zealand public.

According to an independent research report by science insights company Voconiq, over half of New Zealanders surveyed have confidence that regulation can hold the industry accountable.

Research respondents believe with better regulation the Government can hold the live export industry accountable (55% agree) and that rather than banning live export, New Zealand should raise the standards required of the industry (59% agree).

Eighty-five percent of New Zealanders either agree (54%) or are neutral (31%) that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand. . . 

Industry partnership to launch meat-based vending machine meals in China :

Consumers will soon be able to buy ready-to-eat meals, made with New Zealand beef and lamb, from vending machines in Shanghai.

Major red meat exporters Beef + Lamb NZ, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms are piloting beef and lamb vending machines with meals ready for time-poor consumers.

Beef and Lamb spokesperson Michael Wan said the two Pure Box vending machines will be located in Shanghai’s busy business districts, offering another food option for busy workers.

Wan said buyers would be able to choose from six meals that had been co-designed by Shanghai chef Jamie Pea. They fuse traditional Chinese ingredients and flavours with Western food trends to highlight the taste of New Zealand-produced beef and lamb. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/09/2022

Voluntary sequestration schemes create opportunities as well as confusion – Keith Woodford:

Native forests that began regenerating prior to 1990 are excluded from the ETS. This opens opportunities for voluntary schemes independent of Government.

In a recent article, I wrote how carbon credits are not created equal. This inequality is now leading to game-playing and confusion across society. Terms like ‘greenwash’ as the carbon equivalent of a ‘whitewash’ are increasingly heard and there is increasing talk of ‘hot air’ carbon claims.

Since writing that article, I have been wrestling with the challenge of further deepening my own understanding of how the carbon game is being played. It is a game where different players are playing by different sets of rules, as are the certifying referees.  Many of the certifying rules are far from transparent.

Here in this article my focus is specifically on the rules surrounding sequestration that removes carbon from the atmosphere. That leaves other aspects of the carbon rules for another time. . .

Better free trade outcomes an illusion – EU politician – Sam Sachdeva:

EU trade committee chair Bernd Lange argues the grouping’s trade deal with New Zealand is a “gold standard” agreement – even if Kiwi farmers disagree. Lange spoke to Sam Sachdeva about China’s coercive trade practices, cracking down on forced labour, and how the Ukraine invasion has changed attitudes on trade

Even a typically miserable Wellington spring day can’t shake the good mood of European parliamentarian Bernd Lange.

Speaking to Newsroom at the end of a week-long visit to New Zealand, Lange says the grey skies and rain remind him of his roots in northern Germany – although his cheer may be more down to the free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand he is here to discuss.

Lange visited New Zealand in late 2017 for a “fact-finding mission” with other members of the European Parliament’s international trade committee which he chairs. . . 

Synlait posts $38.5m annual profit

The South Island dairy company Synlait Milk is back in the black as its ingredients division saw higher than normal sales, while its major customer rebalanced inventory levels.

Key numbers for the 12 months ended July compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $38.5m vs $28.5m loss
  • Revenue $1.66b vs $1.37b
  • Total average payment $9.59 vs $7.82
  • Forecast 2023 payout $9.50 per kilo of milk solids

Synlait chair John Penno said the past year was “an important period of refocusing”. . . 

Fonterra trials world first in sustainable electricity storage :

A new organic, low-cost, safe, sustainable and long-life battery being trialled by Fonterra, could support greater energy security and distributed electricity generation for New Zealand.

PolyJoule, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-off, is partnering with Fonterra on the application of the battery made from electrically conductive polymers, an organic based compound with the ability to act like metal.

Late last year the world’s first industrial scale organic battery was installed on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa. The battery was cycled daily, supporting dairy shed operations for 10 months. The Co-op is now moving this battery to its Waitoa UHT site, which can be impacted by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says as a significant electricity user at about 2.5% of the national grid, a sustainable and secure electricity supply is vital to the Co-operative’s local sales and exports. . .

Primary sector exporters buoyed by opportunities for a closer India-NZ relationship but different approach necessary :

Primary sector exporters recently returned from a visit to India are excited about the opportunities for a closer partnership between the two countries, however they are urging the New Zealand Government to adopt a more flexible and focused approach to trade.

New Zealand’s agriculture exporters and industry bodies, including representatives from the red meat, kiwifruit, apples & pears and dairy sectors, were part of an India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) delegation which coincided with a visit from Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.

“India has come out of COVID-19 with growing confidence and strength, and its leaders have a clear focus on accelerating economic growth including through trade,” says INZBC chair Earl Rattray, who has dairy interests in India.

“India is on track to become the world’s third largest economy within the next decade. There is a modern economic miracle unfolding there, with an openness to explore mutually beneficial ways to strengthen trade relationships. This is a good time for New Zealand business to embrace India.” . . 

NZ Young Farmers and Ministry for Primary Industries partner to boost wellbeing :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is supporting NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to fund a series of events for NZYF members as part of an initiative to improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

MPI is contributing funding for the events, which will offer a channel for young people across the country to connect and learn ways to manage mental health and build resilience.

NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says mental health is a key concern in rural communities, where factors such as isolation and high workloads can impact overall wellbeing and mental health.

“The mental and physical wellbeing of young people is a big focus of our organisation and is essential for the ongoing viability of many rural communities,” says Lynda Coppersmith. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2022

Research set to improve safety over calving – Bronwyn Wilson:

Research into sprain and strain injuries over calving has identified some simple ways farmers can reduce injuries on dairy farms.

The three-year DairyNZ project, funded in partnership with ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, is researching the causes of sprains and strains on dairy farms – and developing practical solutions to reduce injuries.

“Around 40 percent of injuries on dairy farms are sprains and strains, with the highest risk from August to October. As calving progresses, fatigue can set in and increase injuries,” says DairyNZ senior scientist and research lead, Dr Callum Eastwood.

As part of the Reducing Sprains and Strains project, 370 farmers were surveyed on how they managed health and safety, and whether injuries had occurred. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Mid Canterbury update – enhanced biosecurity measures in the Wakanui area :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme.

The M. bovis programme is now targeting the remaining known pocket of confirmed infection with depopulation starting on a mid-Canterbury feedlot in Wakanui and strict new biosecurity measures for the surrounding area.

Although further detections across the country are possible in future, the only properties known to have infected cattle are located in this small area, where there are three Confirmed Properties, including the feedlot.

M. bovis is known to be most commonly spread via direct contact between infected and uninfected cattle. However, despite recent thorough investigations, the programme has been unable to confirm the pathway(s) by which disease has been spreading in this area. . .

Gisborne drone spraying trial deemed a success – Hamish Barwick:

Gisborne based vegetable grower LeaderBrand recently trialled the use of drones for spraying at its Makauri Farm with positive results.   

LeaderBrand research agronomist Chris Lambert said the trial took place over three months during winter, an ideal time as the ground was too wet to operate a tractor on.

“We wanted to manage our weeds in winter. Rather than spray over a wide area, which is a big waste of chemicals, the drone was able to target weed clumps.”  

He said the advantage of drones is that they don’t compact soil like tractors do and they’re also more agile than helicopters. . . 

High-tech strawberry farm aims high in Foxton – Country Life:

Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.

“Welcome to our secret laboratory,” Matthew Keltie says.

Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.

A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes. . . 

Meryn Whitehead wins 2022 Young Grower of the Year national final :

Meryn Whitehead, a 28-year-old supervisor at Vailima Orchards, has won the national title of 2022 Young Grower of the Year, held in Nelson.

“It is a real privilege to be named the winner of this year’s competition, especially given the impressive talent on display,” says Meryn.

Meryn was one of six contestants that vied for the grand title in a series of practical and theoretical horticulture modules across two-days. The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrating their success in the industry.

Despite being Meryn’s second year entering the competition, she says the experience has been nonetheless valuable. . . 

Proposed Bill would support wine tourism in New Zealand :

New Zealand Winegrowers is thrilled the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill, proposed by Stuart Smith MP, has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today.

New Zealand Winegrowers has had longstanding concerns about aspects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act as they apply to winery cellar doors. This Bill would help to address some of our key concerns for wineries.

We congratulate Stuart Smith MP on having this Bill drawn from the ballot. As the Member of Parliament for New Zealand’s largest wine region, he understands first-hand the importance of this proposal.

Winery cellar doors are an important part of wine tourism, yet the current legislation does not permit wineries holding an off-licence to charge for tastings. “The current legislation is out of date,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “It either forces wineries to give wine away for free, or forces them to go through significant cost and time to acquire and maintain a separate on-licence.” . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2022

Too many famers still stuck in connectivity ‘slow lane’ :

Coverage, reliability and speed of mobile and internet services for many farming families and businesses are treading water, if not going backwards, the 2022 Federated Farmers Rural Connectivity Survey shows.

More than half of the nearly 1,200 farmers who responded to the survey report internet download speeds at or less than what could be considered a bare minimum (20 megabytes per second/Mbps) and those who said their mobile phone service had declined in the last 12 months jumped from 20% to 32%.

“For a sector that underpins the lion’s share of New Zealand’s export earnings, and one where productivity gains and reporting requirements are increasingly aligned with used of technology, apps and devices, this is really concerning,” Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“It’s a given that it’s easier and more profitable to deliver high standards of mobile and broadband to urban areas. But rural families and farm businesses – who due to remoteness and road travel times can really benefit from strong on-line connectivity access – must not be left behind.” . . 

Why does everyone want to work on a farm? – Brianna Mcilraith:

Job-hunters might be looking for a lifestyle and career change on the farm, if Trade Me data is anything to go by.

The site said agricultural jobs were the most-viewed listings last month.

The top five job listings were for South Island agriculture, fishing and forestry roles, and of the 100 most-viewed listings in August, more than half (55%) were in those categories.

Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said 18 of the most popular listings were for shepherds and a further nine for stock managers. . . 

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

An opposition member’s bill boosting penalties for biosecurity breaches has passed its first reading with near unanimous support.

In the name of National MP Jacqui Dean, the bill is aimed at deterring incoming visitors from bringing in illegal biosecurity items such as fruit or other food.

The Increased Penalties for Breach of Biosecurity Bill would double the existing penalty from $1000 to $2000, upon conviction.

It would also increase the on-the-spot fine for a false declaration from $400 to $1000. . . 

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

Biosecurity New Zealand has welcomed 17 new quarantine officers to help protect Aotearoa’s borders from invasive pests and diseases.

Eleven officers graduated on Friday after completing an intensive 10-week training programme. They will work at frontline border locations in Auckland to ensure international travellers and imported goods comply with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules. The other six new officers have joined Biosecurity New Zealand’s border teams in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The graduates will bolster Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline ranks as international passenger traffic begins to gather pace following the reopening of borders, says Mike Inglis, Northern Regional Commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He says Biosecurity New Zealand will have recruited nearly 60 new quarantine officers by the end of this year. There are plans to recruit a further 20 Auckland officers in early 2023. . . 

Alun Kilby from Marisco wins Marlborough 2022 Young Winemaker of the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco, who came became the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 21st September at MRC and the winners were announced at the Awards Dinner the same evening

Alun, 28, was thrilled to take out the title and the judges commented on his broad range of knowledge and skills as he scored consistently well across all sections.

Congratulations also goes to Thomas Jordaan from Vavasour who came second and to Ruby McManaway from Yealands who came third.

For the first time, there were ten contestants competing in the Marlborough regional competition. “It’s exciting to see how many aspiring Young Winemakers want to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Mick Ahern wins HortNZ’s Industry Service Award for 2022 :

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.’

Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgeling, kiwifruit export industry. . . 

Miriana Stephens wins Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022:

Horticulture industry leader, Miriana Stephens has won the Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022.

‘Miriana is shaping the future of the horticulture industry by example,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘She is a director of Wakatū Incorporation, which grows apples, kiwifruit and pears in its Motueka Orchards under the business, Kono.

‘To Miriana, business is not just commercial – it involves being a kaitiaki of the whenua and moana, as well as being commercially responsible.’ . . 


Who should be ashamed?

27/09/2022

The Spinoff offered Izzy Cook the opportunity to respond to Friday’s interview in which she was laughed at for her hypocrisy.

The journalist could be criticised for her extended laughter, and has been.

Her mother, Rose Cook, asked to respond and wrote that Heather du Plessis-Allan should be ashamed of how she bullied daughter.

I  read what she wrote and thought, if anyone should be ashamed its Cook for buying into the greenwash and the anti-farming, anti-progress rhetoric that is long on emotion, short on science, and that is terrifying chidden:

. . .Our young people are genuinely terrified about the world they are inheriting. That is what matters. . . 

Yes it matters that young people are terrified not because of climate change but because of the calamitous way it’s portrayed by older people who ought to know better and bring more reason to the debate.

This point was made by PDM and Mike Webber in comments yesterday.

Eco zealots are peddling misinformation and false news about climate change, its impact and what can be done about it.

Bjorn Lomborg writes on 50 years of climate panic:

. . . Almost every climate summit has been branded as the last chance. Setting artificial deadlines to get attention is one of the most common environmental tactics. We have continually been told for the past half-century that time has just about run out. This message is spectacularly wrong and leads to panic and poor policies. . . 

In 1972, the world was also rocked by the first global environmental scare, the so-called “Limits to Growth” report. The authors predicted that most natural resources would run out within a few decades while pollution would overpower humanity.

At the time, the future was described by Time magazine as a desolate world with few gaunt survivors tilling freeway center strips, hoping to raise a subsistence crop. Life magazine expected “urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution” by the mid-1980s.

They were all wrong because they overlooked the greatest resource of all: human ingenuity. We don’t just use up resources; we innovate smarter ways of making resources more available.

At the same time, technology solves many of the most persistent pollution problems, as did the catalytic converter. This is why air pollution in rich countries has been declining for decades.

Nonetheless, after fifty years of stunningly incorrect predictions, climate campaigners, journalists and politicians still hawk an immediate apocalypse to great acclaim by ignoring adaptation. Headlines that sea level rise could drown 187 million people by the end of the century are foolish.

They imagine that hundreds of millions of people will remain stationary while the waters lap over their calves, hips, chests and mouths.

More seriously, it absurdly assumes that no nation will build any sea defenses. In the real world, ever-wealthier nations will adapt and protect their citizens better, leading to less flooding, while surprisingly spending an ever-lower share of their GDP on flood and protection costs.

What’s solved past problems and led to better lives and improved life expectancy? It’s not panic, taxing more and doing less. It’s adaptation, research and technology.

Likewise, when activists tell you that climate change will make children face twice as much fire, they rely on computer models that only include temperature and ignore humans. Real societies adapt and reduce fire because fires are costly.

That is why global fire statistics show less burned area over the past 120 years and why a future with adaptation sees less, not more fire.

These unsubstantiated scares have real-world consequences. An academic study of young people worldwide found that most suffer from ‘eco-anxiety’. Two-thirds are scared and sad, while almost half say their worries impact their daily lives.

It is irresponsible to scare youths when the UN Climate Panel finds that even if we do nothing to mitigate climate change, the impact by the end of the century will be a reduction of an average income increase from 450 percent to 438 percent. A problem, but hardly the end of the world.

Moreover, panic is a terrible policy advisor. Activist politicians in the rich world are tinkering around the edges of addressing climate change, showering subsidies over expensive vanity projects such as electric cars, solar and wind, while the UN finds that it can’t identify an actual impact on emissions from the last decade of climate promulgations.

Despite their grandiose statements of saving the world, 78 percent of rich countries’ energy still comes from fossil fuels.

That’s because no-one has yet to come up with affordable, reliable and sustainable alternatives.

And as the Glasgow climate summit has shown (for the 26th time), developing nations – whose emissions over the rest of this century matter most – cannot afford to similarly spend trillions on ineffective climate policies as they help their populations escape poverty.

Fifty years of panic clearly haven’t solved climate change. We need a smarter approach that doesn’t scare everyone and focuses on realistic solutions such as adaptation and innovation.

Adaptation won’t make all of the cost of climate change vanish, but it will reduce it dramatically. And by funding the innovation needed to eventually make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels, we can allow everyone – including developing countries – to sustainably go green.

The eco zealots ignore sustainability which balances environmental action with economic and social concerns.

A home-grown example of that is the calls for halving the dairy herd without taking into account that New Zealand’s milk production has the lowest carbon footprint and that reducing production here would encourage more production in other countries which do it far less efficiently.

It also fails to take into account the disastrous economic and social impact halving the herd would have not least of which would be the jobs lost on farm and in processing and distribution and in the businesses which service and supply farms and processors.

Nor do they have feasible and sustainable uses for the land which would no longer be used for grazing cows.

Some could be used to grow crops, but is that really a greener option when you take into account the fertiliser, sprays and diesel that requires? Where would we find markets when New Zealand’s natural advantage is for growing grass not the crops which many other countries do more efficiently? What else could we do to replace the foreign exchange lost from the milk we’re no long producing?

Calls to halve the dairy herd are, like so many other of the eco-zealots climate change policies, would leave us colder, hungrier and poorer.

That’s because climate change is used by the eco zealots as an anti-capitalist Trojan horse.

Their real agenda isn’t a greener planet it’s a red world.

That’s what should be terrifying all of us.

But we don’t have to be terrified.

Scaremongering won’t solve problems. That will happen with sensible, science-based solutions that address environmental issues without the economic and social sabotage the eco-zealots’ wish-list would inflict on us.


Red meat’s place in diet

26/09/2022

Diana Rodgers answers the question: where does red meat fit in a modern diet?


Do as I say

26/09/2022

It’s not hard to pick holes in the rhetoric of the school pupils who are striking for climate change.

They want the national dairy herd to be halved with absolutely no consideration of the economic and social costs here.

Nor do they show any consideration of the environmental costs as farmers in other countries with far less efficient methods than ours increase production to compensate.

They also want to get rid of fertiliser with no idea of the impact that would have on world hunger.

And this interview by Heather du Plessis-Allan with one of the strikers has to be one of the best examples of do as I say not as I do.

Therehas been criticism of the way the interviewee was treated and I agree the laughter was over the top.

But if a 16 year-old acting politically can’t be treated like an adult in an interview,  16 year-olds should not get the vote.


Rural round-up

23/09/2022

Plant and pollute or right tree, right place for the right purpose? – 50 Shades of Green:

We acknowledge with gratitude the latest comments from the Climate Change Commission. That the ETS allows companies to “plant and pollute” and needs reform. These comments are consistent with 50 Shades of Green long running assertions that indeed, the ETS needs a good overhaul.

We continue to ask the Government. Please pause before the Sheep and Beef sector is challenged out of existence. [1]

What has happened under current policy settings? Instead of driving a change in behaviour, at source, the opposite has resulted in our valuable breeding country, the top of the supply chain, used as a proxy, relying too heavily on planting trees to absorb polluters’ carbon dioxide emissions.

While the government takes its time reviewing the ETS, our issue is they have happily ignored our valid and vindicated concerns. Uncritically relying too heavily on what we can only assume is official advice and not acknowledging the devastating effects on New Zealand Hill country constantly put to them. The recent additional sales confirmed, and in the pipeline of more valuable stations lost from the sector that produces c$10b in receipts for the country are gone for good. Sweeping rural communities away in their path. . . 

Huge gains for industry in 50 years of deer farming science :

From a noxious pest that should be exterminated to livestock providing high value products to the world, the deer industry in New Zealand has come a long way in 50 years – and the research that made it possible is now being celebrated.

An event next week at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin will mark 50 years of deer farming science at the site by AgResearch and its predecessor organisations, always in close partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The half century of research has included major advances in understanding of deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics, and in development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world.

“Fifty years ago, researcher Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter thought it might be a good idea to put some science in behind the newly emerging deer farming industry,” says AgResearch’s programme leader for Deer Science for Success, Jamie Ward.

“With incredible backing by early industry participants, innovation, positivity, and fantastic researchers, Invermay became synonymous with the evolution of the New Zealand deer farming industry and earned an international reputation for its science and research output.” . . 

How CH4 Global is turning seaweed into fodder for farm ruminants – and hopes to cool the climate – Point of Order:

Big  strides  are  being  made in the  development  of  a  seaweed-based   product  which,  it  is  claimed,  reduces  methane  emissions in ruminant animals  by up  to 90%.

The product, which its champions say could resolve New Zealand’s climate change threat  from  methane emissions  in  the nation’s  dairy  herd, has  been sold  for  the  first  time—-to  an  Australian customer.

It has been made by CH4 Global™, Inc., a company which says it is

”… on an urgent mission to address climate change by providing our seaweed-based Asparagopsis products to farmers worldwide so they can dramatically reduce the methane emissions of their livestock and realize significant value in the process.” . . 

Trading trees for cows – Nikki Mandow:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is to report next month on offsetting short-lived methane emissions from livestock by planting fast-growing forests – a bid to address two of NZ’s most vexed climate problems simultaneously

Dr Rod Carr says markets – in this case the Emissions Trading Scheme – have an important part to play sending signals about the real costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

But speaking at the Climate Change & Business Conference this week, the Climate Change Commission chair warns the “plant and pollute” nature of the present trading scheme, where companies can buy their way towards net carbon zero using forestry plantings as offsets, risks allowing them to get away with not reducing their actual carbon emissions.

That’s why New Zealand needs new solutions – and just across Wellington, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is exploring one such. . . 

Volatility and vulnerability in the rural sector :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -126 fewer farm sales (-38.2%) for the three months ended August 2022 than for the three months ended August 2021. Overall, there were 204 farm sales in the three months ended August 2022, compared to 255 farm sales for the three months ended July 2022 (-20%), and 330 farm sales for the three months ended August 2021.

1,545 farms were sold in the year to August 2022 — 278 fewer than were sold in the year to August 2021, with 2.6% more Dairy farms, 25.2% fewer Dairy Support, 21.5% fewer Grazing farms, 13.9% fewer Finishing farms and 17.5% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2022 was $25,690 compared to $27,170 recorded for the three months ended August 2021 (-5.4%). The median price per hectare decreased by 6.5% compared to July 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased 8.3% in the three months to August 2022 compared to the three months to July 2022. Compared to the three months ending August 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 3.6%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . .

Bill drawn to help cellar-door wine tasting:

A law change that will help streamline the process required for wineries to sell samples at the cellar door has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today, MP for Kaikoura and National’s Viticulture spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill will plug an important gap in the old legislation so that winery cellar doors can now charge visitors for wine samples without having to secure a separate on-license and all the costs associated with that.

“While this may be a small change, it will make a big difference to New Zealand’s wineries.

“This Bill has been drawn at an opportune time as wineries have faced significant costs and reduced production as a result of the pandemic. This regulatory change will ensure that they can provide cellar door services without the unnecessary extra red-tape. . .

 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ entries open October 1st:

With just over a week until entries open in the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional programmes are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to learn how to deliver over 48 events and numerous judging days..

General Manager Robin Congdon says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season.

“The conference will be a busy few days, ensuring everyone knows what’s required to deliver the dynamic programme and bring them up to speed on this year’s changes made to the Share Farmer category judging process,” he says.

“The Exec have reviewed extensive feedback on last year’s changes to the Dairy Manager and Dairy Trainee categories, which was overwhelmingly positive. . .


Rural round-up

22/09/2022

Finalists announced for prestigious Trans Tasman Agricultural Award :

The Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced their 2023 Award finalists, comprising of six passionate young professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

Now in its ninth year, the coveted award recognises future leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around tailored mentoring and education. The six talented finalists – three from Australia and three from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making to the primary sector. One winner will be chosen from each country.

The New Zealand finalists are Harriet Bremner, 33, author and health, safety and wellbeing advocate for Rural New Zealand, and farmer at Jericho Station, Southland; Jacques Reinhardt, 34, Station Manager at Castlepoint Station Wairarapa; and Monica Schwass, 31, Future Farming Manager at The NZ Merino Company, based in Christchurch.

The Australian finalists are Charles Vaughan, 29, Queensland Operations Coordinator/Group Veterinarian for Australian Cattle Enterprises and Director of Charles Vaughan Veterinary Services Pty Ltd; Mitch Highett, 33, Founder and Managing Director of farm management company Bullseye Agriculture, from Orange NSW; and Sarah Groat, 34, Development Officer for government Agtech programme “Farms of the Future”, for the Department of Primary Industries, who lives on the family farm near Rankin’s Springs NSW. . . 

Asparagus growers hoping to overcome flooding troubles ahead of harvest :

The asparagus harvesting season has just begun, but some growers’ fields are still partly underwater from recent flooding.

It’s hoped this season will outperform last year’s, when just a third of the spears were harvested because Covid lockdowns disrupted the restaurant trade right up until Christmas.

Cam Lewis of Horowhenua’s Tendertips Asparagus said they cranked up their packhouse last week, but they had to get to the produce first.

“There’s still quite a few of our paddocks underwater at the moment, but we’re hoping for a good spring,” he said. . . 

Feds MP face off in John Luxton memorial match – Hamish Barwick :

Three Federated Farmers board members make up the front row of the dairy sector rugby team in this Saturday’s John Luxton Memorial Match in Morrinsville.

Facing off against MPs and parliamentary staff, the rugby match is a memorial for the late Hon John Luxton, the founding chair of DairyNZ and former Agriculture Minister. A netball game is also held in Luxton’s memory.

“We’ve got a full front row from Federated Farmers – president Andrew Hoggard, vice-president Wayne Langford and dairy chair Richard McIntyre – and I’ll be pulling on my boots to play on the wing,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

In the rugby team, Southland farmer Tangaroa Walker is flying up to pull on the number 8 jersey – Tangaroa runs his own Farm4Life programme with how-to information for people starting out in dairy farming. Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award winner Quinn Morgan will be playing mid-field – Morgan takes an active role encouraging other young people to join the sector. . . 

A fair shears share on both sides of the Tasman :

New Zealand wool harvesting trainer Elite Wool Industry Training has taken a big step to address global shortage of skilled woolshed labour by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with two of Australia’s major players in the industry.

The other parties are woolgrower-owned Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Australia’s largest shearing and wool handling training organisation, SCAA Shearer Wool Handler Training (SCAA SWTI).

The MOU is in response to the global shortage of shearers and skilled woolhandlers, which New Zealand wool and sheep meat producers have endured for the past two years, resulting in the costs of shearing increasing by at least 15-20 per cent. . . 

Land Co head: slow investors forcing us toward offshore investors :

Local investors are sitting on their hands, an NZX-listed land management company says, and they are now on the hunt for foreign investors.

NZ Rural Land Management (NZL) chair Rob Campbell said in the company’s annual report that its manager had been doing an ‘excellent job’.

The initial public offering of shares (IPO) were followed by a record full year net profit and a strong increase in the value of shares.

The entity was created to manage the new NZ Rural Land Company Limited (NZRLC), which buys rural land to lease to farming operators. It first listed on the NZX in late 2020. . .

Parasitic worm pesticide approved for use :

A new pesticide to combat parasitic worms in carrots, kūmara, parsnips, and potatoes has been approved for use in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Plant-parasitic worms, or nematodes, are considered a major risk to some of our most popular root vegetables, with producers sometimes experiencing complete crop failure from the damage they cause.

The applicant, Adama New Zealand Limited, said Nimitz will be an important tool to ensure the economic viability of these important crops.

“EPA staff conducted comprehensive risk assessments and found the risks to people and the environment to be negligible, with appropriate rules in place,” says Dr Lauren Fleury, Hazardous Substances Applications Manager. . . 


Record payout

22/09/2022

Fonterra has announced a record payout:

. . .Fonterra today announced a strong set of results for the financial year ending 31 July 2022, reflecting a 2021/22 Farmgate Milk Price of NZ$9.30 per kgMS and normalised profit after tax of NZ$591 million. 

With a total dividend of 20 cents per share to our fully shared-up farmers – comprising of an interim dividend of 5 cents per share and a final dividend of 15 cents per share – the final cash pay-out for farmers is $9.50.

Total Group normalised Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) was NZ$991 million, up NZ$39 million or 4% on the prior year. 

Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says despite the challenges including increased costs associated with supply chain volatility, 2021/22 was a good year for the Co-op.

“These results demonstrate that our decisions relating to product mix, market diversification, quality products and resilient supply chain, mean the Co-op is able to deliver both a strong milk price and robust financial performance in a tough global operating environment.

“The Co-op is pleased to be able to pay a total dividend of 20 cents per share for our farmer owners and unit holders. And this year’s higher Farmgate Milk Price is the strongest it has ever been, which is great news for our farmers. New Zealand also benefits from this, with $13.7 billion returned into the economy in milk price payments alone this year.

“Importantly, one year on, the Co-op is making tangible progress against our strategy – namely to focus on New Zealand milk, be a leader in sustainability and a leader in dairy innovation and science. . . 

This is good news for farmers, sharemilkers and the wider economy and the outlook for the current season is positive in spite of global uncertainties.

The forecast farmgate Milne price for this season is a range of NZ$8.50–$10.00 per kgMS, with a midpoint of NZ$9.25 per kgMS and a range of  45-60 cents for shares.

 


Rural round-up

21/09/2022

Time to reopen the GE in agriculture debate – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Ideologically-based beliefs are preventing consumers from experiencing the benefits that gene editing in agriculture can bring, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

It is over two decades since the Royal Commission on genetic modification (GM) responded to the task of evaluating the technology within the context of New Zealand.

The major theme of the 473-page report was self-described as “preserving opportunities”.

The authors went to considerable lengths to explain the different concerns and perspectives of New Zealanders who, by and large, were comfortable with GM for medical purposes, but were less so in food production. . . 

Holy cow milk is best!  – Warren McNab:

 Plant-based beverages are expensive and provide only a small fraction of the nutritional goodness of cow’s milk.

These are the findings of a new study, published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal (August 8), which assessed the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based beverages – such as soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks – and compared them to standard bovine milk.

Researchers collected 103 plant-based products from supermarkets in Palmerston North, New Zealand. These drinks were found to have much lower quantities of the 20 nutrients measured – such as calcium and protein – and were significantly more costly than cow’s milk.

The study was carried out by Riddet Institute scientists, from Massey University, in Palmerston North. The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University. . .

HortNZ says National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land is critical :

The National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land will provide protection for the country’s best land and soil so it can be used to produce food.

‘Covid has taught us that we can’t take for granted that there’ll always be New Zealand grown vegetables and fruit on our retailers’ shelves,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Nadine Tunley.

‘HortNZ has advocated for nearly a decade for government policy that recognises the importance of our best soils, and ensures that they are prioritised for what they are best for – producing healthy vegetables and fruit.

‘All along, we have said that with good planning, New Zealand can have fresh vegetables and fruit, and houses.’ . . 

ORC consent map upgraded to be farmer-friendly :

Otago Regional Council (ORC) has upgraded its online consent mapping site in a move designed to make the service more farmer-friendly.

The map, Consents in Otago, now includes a property-by-address, legal description or consent number search function, satellite imagery similar to Google Maps, plus named waterways, a polygon/draw tool and also a print button, says Alexandra King, ORC team leader consents.

“It’s now much more user friendly for farmers who’re working through the mapping part of their applications, specifically intensive winter grazing plans,” she says.

King says the tool allows farmers to easily identify and measure blocks throughout their farms, and help them in identifying risk areas/sensitive receptors on-farm such as critical source areas, waterways, wetlands or water bores. . .

Who will join the next generation of beekeepers? :

Mossop’s Honey and Apiculture New Zealand are looking for the next Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship recipient to get a boost into the apiculture industry.

The scholarship was set up five years ago as a way of giving young people the best possible start in the apiculture industry. It includes $2000 to be put towards best-practice training or set-up costs, membership of industry body Apiculture New Zealand for a year, attendance at the industry’s national conference in the year of the award and an accommodation allowance for Conference.

Last year’s recipient, Alyssa Wilson from Canterbury, is currently finishing off a Primary ITO course the scholarship helped pay for. The course involves writing about and photographing her practical experience working at Gowanleagold with beekeeper James Corson, where she says she is “learning heaps”.

While attending the Apiculture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch this year, Alyssa says she particularly enjoyed listening to Dr Sammy Ramsey, one of the international speakers from the United States. . . 

Fears Australian farm labour woes may worsen with loss of UK backpackers under trade deal – Khaled Al Khawaldeh:

Rosie Bradford arrived from the UK in November 2019 on a working holiday visa ready to trade in some of her youthful energy for the chance to enjoy the Aussie sun for an extra year or two.

“The only reason I went to do it [farm work] was obviously to get my second and third year. I was so focused on that but after doing it, I would definitely say I would have still done it,” she said.

“I absolutely do not regret doing farm work at all. I learned a lot from those experiences. And I met so many amazing people. But to be honest [without the compulsion] I probably wouldn’t have done … I probably wouldn’t have been that interested.”

Bradford would end up spending three years working in parts of the country where most Australian workers do not venture. Picking bananas in Tully, oranges and mandarins in Gayndah, grafting in Tasmania, and even working on a fishing boat in Darwin. Like many of her compatriots, she helped fill a gap in a workforce stretched thin in a vast, but highly urbanised, country. . . 


75% of mayoral candidates opposed to Three Waters

21/09/2022

A super majority of mayoral candidates oppose Three Waters:

A survey of all 291 mayoral candidates reveals there’s little love for the government’s Three Waters reforms.

The ‘2022 Local Democracy Reporting mayoral candidate survey’ also shows that when it comes to this year’s rates rises, those standing in the cities are more unhappy about them than those in the provinces.

Of all the questions asked in the survey, including on climate change, Māori wards and rates, the one on Three Waters elicited the most clear cut response.

Asked if the reforms were the best way to achieve the investment that was sorely needed in water infrastructure in many regions, 75.3 percent said they were not. 

Comments attached to answers were often in caps or accompanied by exclamation marks, including this one from Whakatāne mayoral hopeful Lesley Immink.

“No – absolutely not! I do not have confidence in either the model, delivery of improved water infrastructure services or better value for money,” she said.

The opposition was even more stark comparing North Island to South Island candidates, with just two out of the 58 Mainland candidates (3.4 percent) backing the reforms. . . 

How can the government keep forcing its plan for Three Waters in the face of such opposition?

There is no doubt that there are issues with three waters but the government’s plan is not the right solution to problems which differ from council to council and which won’t be solved by increased bureaucracy and consequent costs.

Central government should set the standards, and audit to ensure they’re met but leave local councils to sort out solutions which work for them.

The government’s process has been undemocratic from the start and made worse by the committee’s refusal to consider the tens of thousands of submissions made through the Taxpayers’ Union.

The  Union was one of the small percentage of submitters permitted to make a verbal submission to the the select committee:


Rural round-up

20/09/2022

Beef, dairy must unite to tackle calf crisis– Gerald Piddock:

Rearers ‘have to become a sustainable part of the supply chain’.

The dairy and meat industries will need to work more closely if a permanent solution is to be found to ensure calf-rearers have a more viable future.

Such a solution may mean compromises and concessions from both industries but will be necessary if rearers are to survive. They are locked into a boom-bust cycle that is simply not sustainable, Silver Fern Farms chief supply chain officer Dan Boulton said.

They need to be protected and become a sustainable part of the supply chain. The meat company is exploring ways to reduce the risks rearers face. . . 

Gary Taylor: this whole notion of large scale permanent exotic forests is something that we need to nip in the bud – Angus Kebbell:

Another week goes by and another farm in this country sells to permanent forestry and taking advantage of the current ETS settings. In just a matter of weeks more than 7,000 ha alone have been sold to international companies for the sole purpose of farming carbon. One is the parent company of Ikea and a Swiss company is another. You have to ask yourself the question, are the current ETS settings and in particular the unlimited offsetting opportunities is in the best interest of New Zealand’s future?

This week Gary Taylor from the Environmental Defence Society joins me to give his views on this all-important challenge we face. The Environmental Defence Society or EDS, was founded 51 years ago, with an aim of bringing together the disciplines of law and science.

The Government is about to release a review of the national environmental standards for plantation forestry, so I asked Taylor what can we expect from it’s release. “I’m expecting there to be a shift towards more requirements for resource consents, for forests rather than having permitted activity status, you know, everywhere. And I’m also expecting in conjunction with the with the National Policy Statement on freshwater management a tightening of controls around erosion and sediment and in slash, my position is that I think that forests or the forest sector as a whole has had a bit of a free ride up until now in terms of its environmental performance.”

Taylor also pointed out that the expansion of permanent exotic carbon forests poses a threat to to small rural communities because they’re essentially plant and walk away forests, “So I think that this whole notion of large scale permanent exotic forests is something that we need to nip in the bud.” . . .

Growing farming’s future :

A programme providing school leavers with a viable career option in agriculture has seen student numbers soar in recent years. T

he number of students joining the Growing Future Farmers programme has seven fold in the last two years. The organisation is now recruiting a new general manager to support its growth. GFF’s current general manager Cyn Smith has been instrumental in the programme’s success, supported by a team of 10 regional liaison managers.

The original GFF pilot programme started in 2020 in the Wairarapa and Gisborne involving just 10 students and 10 sheep, beef and deer farms.

This year, more than 60 first year students started with the programme. Next year, 80 students are expected to take up placements on 80 farms in 12 regions across the country.  . .

Make savings now before you have to – Paul Bird

Rising costs are a concern for households and businesses across New Zealand, and dairy farmers are also feeling the impact of high inflation. 

Many farms have had cost increases in their budgets of about $1 per kg of milksolids (equivalent to around a 19% lift from 2020-21 average operating expenses). 

Higher fertiliser, feed, wages and fuel costs are some of the key drivers of these increasing costs. 

Managing your budget in times of high inflation isn’t easy. Any savings you can make in the current season will continue into future seasons, so it’s worthwhile being proactive now, before a fall in milk prices requires action.  . . 

‘Regular crop failures’ if livestock farms convert to arable, study warns

Converting farms from livestock to arable would lead to regular crop failures, according to analysis of one the UK’s largest beef and sheep rearing regions.

The study focused on the southwest of England in response to questions over what could happen to UK livestock farming if society shifts toward more plant-based diets.

It found that the chances of successfully growing winter wheat on fields once used to raise livestock could be as little as 28% in future, as increased rainfall will make sowing the crop impossible in some years.

Forecasts show that in the absence of climate change, yields could be greater than 14 tonnes per hectare – but when the near certain impact of increased future rainfall on sowing and harvest dates were included, it fell in some situations to less than 3t per hectare. . . 

Bee populations facing multiple challenges as Varroa mite and La Niña make for difficult spring – Rachael Lucas:

As spring flowers begin to blossom and temperatures warm up, vulnerable bee populations are beginning to emerge for what will be their busiest time of the year. La Niña

But the forecast wet La Niña conditions may present a challenge for bees foraging for pollen among limited flowering plants, in their efforts to support healthy hives and nourish hungry swarms.

Gippsland beekeeping enthusiast and educator Bill Ringin said swarming was a common occurrence in spring.

“Swarming is the natural process of bees where principally if the colony gets too crowded, the old queen and about half of the bees will decide that they’re going to make another hive,” the Trafalgar East man said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/09/2022

$100 million cost to another epic failure – Barbara Kuriger:

Putting the cart before the horse’ could have been written especially for this Labour Government.

Time and time again over the past five years, they’ve made regulation announcements and set implementation deadlines but failed to put into place any practical process or reasoning behind them.

A classic example is the fiasco by David Parker and his Ministry for the Environment, to create workable regulations for intensive winter grazing (IWG) on sloping farmland, along with the process to implement them.

The intent of IWG regulations is to protect freshwater resources, the welfare of our animals and our exporting credentials. . . .

Central Plains Water Contributes $1M to local Community :

Over the past five years Central Plains Water Limited (CPW) has contributed over one million dollars to a variety of projects that enhance biodiversity in the CPW operational area. The Central Plains Water Environmental Management Fund (EMF) was established as part of the CPW consent.  CPW provides annual contributions of approximately $115,000 to the fund. 

The funds are administered by a Trust which allows for representatives from the community, iwi, environmental and recreational interests and the local councils. This group of individuals make the decisions around which projects to fund.

“We are delighted that CPW has been able to provide substantial funding for a range of projects within the catchment that make a real environmental difference. Environmental sustainability is a very important part of our business. We have a goal of being a world leader in environmental and sustainable practice and the EMF is just one of the initiatives in place to help achieve this goal,” said CPW Chief Executive, Mark Pizey.

Projects selected for funding by the Trust include wetland enhancement, projects that minimise nutrient losses to lowland streams and riparian planting. . . 

Lochinver Station joins Beef and Lamb NZ genetics programme :

One of the country’s largest farms will be the first in the North Island to take part in a Beef and Lamb NZ genetics programme.

Lochinver Station on the Rangitāiki Plains near Taupō joins Pāmu’s Kepler Farm near Te Anau as a progeny test site for the Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) programme.

The across-breed Beef Progeny Test uses Angus, Hereford and now Simmental genetics to identify the performance of agreed-on traits.

Angus cows will be artificially inseminated at Lochinver in January 2023 with Angus, Hereford and Simmental bulls used at the North Island farm. . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers :

This week at an awards dinner held in Auckland the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) announced the winners of its three most prestigious awards. The 2022 recipients are acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level, to high level policy planning and execution, and academic leadership.

Forestry continues to be a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President, James Treadwell says “the industry is working hard to benefit New Zealand, and we are particularly proud of the high caliber of this year’s award contenders.”

The Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup is awarded to Jake Palmer. This award recognises the achievements of a young New Zealand forest professional who lives and breathes the principles of sustainable forest management. In addition to the sound science based land stewardship, the awardee must demonstrate a commitment to raising the profile, of the wise use and conservation of forests and their ecosystems. Treadwell commented “This award was instigated by Prince Charles in 2017. It’s especially poignant timing this year following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The mantel will pass to a new Prince of Wales, Prince William, to continue to champion environmentally positive forestry practices.”

The New Zealand Forester of the Year Award winner is Don Hammond. This highly coveted industry prize rewards a person for their exceptional contribution to the forestry sector throughout the past year. Hammond’s work this year has been fundamental to ensure that log export markets have remained open to forest owners in Aotearoa New Zealand. Presenting the award, Treadwell said “The entire forestry sector is very fortunate, to have had the right person in the right place. Hammond has navigated through very difficult waters to improve the lot of foresters across the nation.” . . 

Crop Farmer testing research for sustainable farming :

An arable farmer wanting to switch up his methods to become more sustainable is one of the first to participate in a new research project led by the Foundation for Arable Research.

South Canterbury fourth-generation farmer Andrew Darling, who grows wheat, barley, sunflowers and oil seed rape, will trial how he can phase out use of nitrogen over the next 18 months.

He said an ever-increasing fertiliser bill incentivised him to work with FAR to scale back on crop inputs.

“Last year around spring, when crop growth is key and we’re starting to put on urea products and nitrogen, the bill was about $700,” he said. . .

Data Driven agricultural solution are not the future – Eightwire

No, that’s not a misprint! Data-driven solutions are not the future of agriculture — they’re very much part of the present reality for farmers.

The agriculture industry is going through a sea change and data is playing a crucial role. The type of data that is collected and how it is collected, shared and used is a major challenge and opportunity for the sector. The challenges of dealing with data are common to all industries but it’s particularly challenging in the agriculture sector given the large datasets from a wide range of different sources.

There’s so much data involved in farming these days. You’ve got the operational side of things including machinery, sensors and technology that deliver data around the animal performance and wellbeing, pasture management, soil, feed, fertiliser and water. You’ve also got data from contractors and suppliers. It’s mind boggling to think about how much data is involved and how all of that data has to be managed by the farmer. And the thing is, the farmer shouldn’t have to add data management to their list of tasks on farm. . . 


Wear wool not fossil fuel

17/09/2022

In case you missed Woolmark’s video last week, here it is again.

And they’ve taken the fight to Times Square:


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