Rural round-up

April 19, 2018

Zespri says Gold3 licensing tender to generated as much as $195M in 2018 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group said corporate revenue from the 2018 allocation of the Gold3 license release will be $190 million to $195 million, or around $253,000-to-$260,000 per hectare, a figure that is up on the prior year.

The range is the combined revenue estimate resulting from 700 hectares of Gold3 licence, and 50 hectares of Gold3 Organic new development licence, both released under a closed tender bid mechanism, New Zealand’s statutory kiwifruit exporter said in a release. The validation process for all bids is still ongoing and all bidders will be notified of their outcome from May 1. . . .

Water quality results show pleasing improvements:

Federated Farmers says all the hard work being done to improve our freshwater quality is starting to pay off.

The release of the National River Water Quality Trends by Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) show that many more sites are improving than deteriorating for all the river water quality parameters monitored over a 10 year period.

“There are lots of good things going on, both urban and rural, to help improve the quality of our waterways,” Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“It is very good news. To see that the effort being made is starting to show results.” . . 

Bigger role for water companies in farm strategy:

Irrigation companies have a bigger role to play in helping farmers make strategic decisions on land use, future innovation strategist Roger Dennis says.

Dennis is a key-note speaker at Agri Innovation in Ashburton on 2 May, held jointly by MHV Water, Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation and Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation.

He says many organisations influence farmers, but none is more agnostic about how farmers use their land than the company that delivers their water. . . 

Irrigation body confident of big projects despite govt cuts

Irrigation New Zealand is confident that an end to government subsidies will not spell the end of large-scale irrigation projects.

The lobby group is holding its biennial conference this week and looking at the future of the sector now that the tap has been turned off on the $450 million worth of loans the previous government promised.

Under National, irrigation was seen as one of the key ways of driving economic growth, resulting in it setting up Crown Irrigation Investments, a company willing and able to dole out millions in loans to fledgling irrigation schemes.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said in the end it only granted a small portion of money with the most significant contributions still to come. . .

Broken food systems – developing a citizen-centric NZ food strategy – Nadine Porter:

The global devaluation of food in developed countries due to physical, digital and biological advances has been the catalyst for destruction of both social, cultural and economic systems and New Zealand, in the absence of an ethical humanity centred ‘whole food system’ risks the same deterioration and consequences, other first world nations are attempting to reverse.

Lack of understanding around the role of food as a connector in every facet of our lives not only diminishes the importance of food production – it further industrialises and negates the responsibilities of the process, which in turn reshapes the‘economic social, cultural and human context in which welive’.(1)

At a time when discourse and a disconnect between those on the land and those in built up areas is at unparalleled levels, questions and negative scrutiny has and will continue to be levelled at the New Zealand farming fraternity – the scapegoats and the legacy of citizens who have been progressively severed from their local food systems. . . 

Govt risking rural communities’ mental health:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will begin shutting its doors due to a lack of support from the Government and may not be able to provide vital mental health services into the future, National Party spokesperson for Mental Health Matt Doocey and National Party spokesperson for Rural Communities Matt King say.

“It has been confirmed that RHAANZ will begin shutting its doors because they don’t have critical infrastructure to hold Government contacts, including the rural mental health initiative,after the Government failed to commit funding to ensure the alliance could continue,” Mr Doocey says. . . 

Government again targets regional New Zealand:

National stands behind New Zealand’s international commitments to reducing emissions but has cautioned against drastic action which will unfairly impact New Zealand farmers and businesses, spokesperson for Climate Change Todd Muller says.

“The Government has today established an Interim Climate Change Committee that will work on New Zealand’s efforts to meet our international climate change commitments – and right away set it the task of targeting regional New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s international commitments were made by the previous National Government because we believe New Zealand can and should play its part – but that we must do so in a sustainable way. . . 

Wintering practices important for farm economics and environment – Bala Tikkisetty:

The weather already this year has been a mixed bag of wet and dry. The winter season is now around the corner and who knows what that will bring!

Soil health damage during winter has been recognised as a significant issue for the farming community. It coincides with high stock densities and high soil moisture conditions.

It’s general practice during winter to graze stock intensively on winter forage crops supplying large quantities of feed in a relatively small area. . . 

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Private property is private regardless of size

April 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Integration of safety information where necessary in this information source.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Private property is private property regardless of size.

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

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

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


Rural round-up

April 18, 2018

Government should use tertiary funding to push Kiwis into primary industries– Sarah Perriam:

Imagine two high school students.

One drops out to work in a factory.

The other finishes school, and now travels the world with chefs and photographers.

They’re both 25 years old, and earning $100,000.

How did they do it? They chose to work in the ‘food’ industry, which has for too long been called a ‘primary’ industry. . . 

Interim climate change committee immediately asked how to deal with agricultural emissions – Henry Cooke:

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has announced the members of a climate change committee and asked them to look at how to get agricultural emissions down.

The interim committee is chaired by David Prentice, who was most recently CEO and managing director of infrastructure firm Opus International Consultants, and features former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright.

The interim group will be replaced when an independent Climate Change Commission takes over in May of 2019, when Shaw hopes to pass a Zero Carbon Act, with an amendment at select committee to deal with agriculture. . . 

MPI committed to efficient Mycoplasma bovis compensation payouts:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is committed to helping farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis receive their due compensation and is working hard to process all current claims.

MPI’s director of response, Geoff Gwyn says MPI has not yet received compensation claims relating to its decision to direct the cull of some 22,000 cattle on infected properties, which MPI announced last month.

“However, we are aware some farmers are nervous about compensation timeframes and I would like to provide reassurance that we are running as fast and efficient a process as possible. . . 

$35,000 paid for Holstein calf – Sally Rae:

A six-week-old heifer calf from North Otago’s Busybrook Holsteins is believed to have set a New Zealand record, selling for $35,000.

The Bayne family held an on-farm “gold label” sale near Duntroon on Friday. The offering included both North American genetics and high-indexing New Zealand-bred cows.

The sale comprised calves, heifers and in-milk cows, with 45 lots sold in total – averaging more than $6700 and grossing $303,200. Buyers came from Northland to Southland, PGG Wrightson agent Andrew Reyland said. . . 

Providing insight into primary industries – Sally Rae:

She calls herself a multipotentialite.

Primary industries advocate Chanelle O’Sullivan wears a lot of hats and there is so much more to her than her Instagram handle, Just A Farmer’s Wife, would lead you to believe.

Indeed, she is a farmer’s wife, but she is also the mother of two energetic young children, an entrepreneur, a social media specialist, a futurist and someone with a never-ending source of ideas.

“Wherever I see anything, I see an opportunity,” she said.

Now she is getting excited about her latest venture — a business that combines her passion for the primary industries and technology to highlight New Zealand’s produce, careers, environment and skills. . .

Seeing trees for the wood :

The forestry sector is fired up with discussion about how to meet the Government’s One Billion Trees planting initiative. Partnering with red meat farmers to help them achieve what they want to achieve with trees in their businesses will be important to persuade any change of land-use, those attending a recent conference heard.

Delegates from throughout the forestry sector were in Wellington last month at ForestWood 2018 (21 March), a pan-sector conference drawing people from forestry companies to wood and paper manufacturers. . . 


That was then . . .

April 18, 2018

Remember how hard Labour and the Green Party campaigned against the then-National Government’s appointing commissioners to Environment Canterbury?

That was then, this is now:

National Party spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration has welcomed the decision by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to follow the previous National Governments’ approach to keep the current Environment Canterbury (ECan) board.

“Nanaia Mahuta is making a sensible decision to keep the current ECan Board and returning to a full democracy at the 2019 local body election, as the previous National Government had planned,” Ms Wagner says.

“Labour made plenty of noise about the lack of full democracy in Canterbury whilst in Opposition. Both present Ministers Eugenie Sage and Megan Woods led an aggressive campaign to have full elections immediately.

“Yet again, now that Labour is in Government it has abandoned its policy and is continuing with the plan started by National.

“Our long-term approach whilst in Government was designed to improve the standards at ECan. In 2009, the previous Government appointed commissioners to ECan following repeated poor performance by the council in achieving their regulatory requirements.

“Thanks to the hard work of the commissioners and the strong, sensible leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley and David Bedford, Canterbury now has one of the best performing regional councils in New Zealand.

“This has always been about making good decisions for Canterbury. The commissioners were put in to complete the water management plan for Canterbury which had languished under the leadership of the previous council.

“Nanaia Mahuta’s decision shows that the long-term plan started in 2009 has been effective. Half of the members on ECan were elected in 2016 and the plan had long been for the full council to be elected in 2019.”

ECan wasn’t working with elected councillors.

Commissioners have improved performance. Half the board are now elected members and as National planned, all members will be elected at the next local body elections next year.


Farmers want Molesworth to stay as farm

April 18, 2018

Farmers want the country’s biggest farm Molesworth Station to stay as a farm.

. . .The Department of Conservation started an online survey on the future of Molesworth Station, between Marlborough and Canterbury, in January to gauge public appetite for a radical rethink of the farm.

The survey follows up a 2013 management plan for the 180,000-hectare Molesworth, about the size of Stewart Island, which looked to move the station away from its traditional farming focus to include more recreation and conservation activities.

But Molesworth neighbour Steve Satterthwaite, of Muller Station, said getting rid of farming could create “major ramifications” for the environment.

“As far as Molesworth is concerned, I believe it should continue to be farmed and there’s plenty of reasons as to why,” he said.

Without farming, there could be pest problems and weed issues, as well as a huge fire risk, Satterthwaite said.

Weeds, pests and fires don’t observe farm boundaries.

Any weed and pest management and fire prevention measures farmers do can be nullified if their neighbours aren’t doing their best too.

It was concerning the public could weigh in on the future of the Molesworth and potentially “sway” what happened with the station, he said.

“It really concerns me that unaffected people that have no knowledge of the utilisation of Molesworth and the risk associated with not farming it can potentially have the input to sway the politicians or the decision-makers because of their numerical numbers,” he said.

“We are in the east of dry land zones, and if the fuel was allowed to be completely uncontrolled and public have unlimited access, the risk of a major fire in that environment would be one that would need to be considered seriously.” . . 

Middlehurst Station farmer Susan Macdonald said she would like to see farming at the station continue, with the possibility of providing a little more public access.

She said it was “important” for farming at the station to continue for pest and weed reasons.

“I would like to see it continue to be farmed in harmony with the environment and in harmony with people.

“There’s a lot of land there and I think it’s got a huge value in terms of agriculture.” . . 

J Bush & Sons Honey co-owner Murray Bush said the “status quo” needed to continue into the future.

“I think there is a good balance between public access and farming but not having farming would actually make the property go backwards, I believe, and then it wouldn’t have that same appeal to the public,” he said.

Bush said allowing public access to the station year-round could create a safety risk.

“If you open the road 52 weeks of the year and let people just do what they want … if it was never closed and it was open, there’s no communication up there so unless there’s millions and millions and millions of dollars going to be spent on public access safety … it’s not an environment to be taken lightly,” he said.

“Unless you’re going to employ people on the ground 52 weeks of the year just to look after the tourists, it’s a real issue and I think people underestimate that environment.” . . .

The neighbours’ concerns about changing the balance between farming and access are valid.

The road through Molesworth is closed in winter and can be closed in summer if the fire risk rises.

That is necessary for public safety and to protect the environment.

Molesworth is farmed by Landcorp which makes a very small return on capital but income from the farm offsets the costs of weed and pest control, and grazing reduces the fire danger.

The station generates an income, looks after the environment and allows some public access.

If the area farmed is reduced the income will drop, even if DoC lets commercial concessions for access,  and costs will increase.

Molesworth is the country’s biggest farm and it should continue to be farmed.


Rural round-up

April 17, 2018

Station owner hopes for ‘permanent lake’ after landslide stabilised :

A landslide between Gisborne and Wairoa which caused a large lake to form has been stabilised.

On Monday, Gisborne District Council said strategic management of the slip in Muriwai had stabilised the area, and the previously-closed Paparatu Rd had been reopened.

Last month, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence manager Ian Macdonald said the landslide, which was likely triggered by a small, localised earthquake, had become a “significant hazard” and people were warned to stay away from it. . . 

Enthusiasm’ wins award for family:

Waipahi sheep farmers Ross, Alexa and Logan Wallace are this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards winners.

Their win was announced at a dinner at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Friday night. Judges described the family as a supportive, close family unit with clear vision, great goal-setting and financial discipline.

“They have incredible enthusiasm and a passion to learn — taking on ideas, good use of external advice and analysing data for the best outcomes.

“They have a strong environmental focus; land and environment plan, nutrient budgeting, wetland construction, retention of biodiversity and water quality emphasis, as well as an outstanding commitment to community and industry.” . . 

Ploughing in her blood – Nicole Sharp:

Ploughing is not your ordinary type of sport, but national finalist Tryphena Carter, of Riversdale, is not your ordinary type of lady.

Driving a tractor while towing a conventional plough is not a sport most would think of getting into, but Miss Carter was born to plough.

She is now in full preparation for the New Zealand Ploughing Championships, being held at Thornbury, Southland, this weekend, where she will compete in the Silver Plough class.

She started in the sport aged 15 and these championships will be her eleventh. . . 

Environment award winners delight in swimming in rivers around their Tararua dairy farm – Jill Galloway:

The dairy farmer winners of a farm environment award are proud to be sandwiched between two swimmable rivers in Tararua.

Swimming in them was a source of pleasure after media reaction to dairying’s contribution to poor river quality, said Andrew Hardie and Helen Long.

The pair showed off their dairy operation Te Maunga Farm near Dannevirke to about 70 people at a field day celebrating their performance as supreme winners of the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Award.

Hardie said it was a robust, sustainable and profitable farm, which enabled them to fence off almost 14 kilometres of riparian strips. . .

First skin-pack cuts dispatched:

Alliance Group has dispatched its first major shipment of product in vacuum skin tray packaging to Hong Kong following a successful trial.

Skin packaging is technology that hermetically seals right to the edge of the meat cut, extending its chilled shelf life for up to 11 weeks, retaining colour and optimising meat tenderness. . . 

 

Chairman and incumbent director returned to Silver Fern Farms Co-Operative Board:

Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox have been re-elected to the Silver Fern Farms’ Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors.

The results of the election, which closed at 3.00pm on Monday, 16 February 2018, were: . .

A2 shares rise as new distribution deal opens up South Korean market – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has signed an exclusive distribution deal with Yuhan Corp in South Korea, more than a decade after an earlier foray into that country which ended in litigation. The milk marketing firm’s shares rose 1.3 percent.

The Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered company today signed an exclusive sales and distribution agreement with Yuhan to promote and distribute a2 branded products in South Korea, it said in a statement. . . 

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More rivers improving than degrading

April 17, 2018

New Zealand river quality is improving:

National River Water Quality Trends released by Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) today, reveal that for all river water quality parameters monitored over a 10 year period, more sites were improving than deteriorating. This encouraging national picture has been welcomed by scientists and local government who pointed to freshwater ecosystem management practices as likely contributing to the progress.

Trends analysis was led by Cawthron Institute Freshwater Group Manager and Ecologist, Dr Roger Young. He described the overall picture as encouraging and said, “Looking back from 2016 at a decade of data, for every monitored parameter, more sites showed evidence of improving water quality, than degrading.

“My hope is this could represent a turning point in New Zealand’s river health story.

“While this analysis gives us cause for optimism, water quality is just one indicator of river health and there is still more work to be done. While all parameters show there are more sites improving than degrading, there are still degrading sites for all parameters. In order to continue further improvements, we need to invest in freshwater ecosystem management, routine monitoring, and further research and innovation,” said Dr Young.

The National River Water Quality Trends (2007 – 2016) released by LAWA follows a similar 10 year analysis released in 2015 by National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA). Compared with the 2015 report, a change in the trend of nitrogen is particularly noteworthy, with significant progress in the number of improving sites compared with the number that are deteriorating. . . 

This report shows an encouraging trend.

However, it might not persuade the government enough is being done:

The Government is planning a more centralised regulatory approach to fresh water management and Environment Minister David Parker warns farmers he is not afraid to make unpopular decisions.

Parker indicated the shift in approach in an address to a Catchments Otago symposium on water and biodiversity issues, hosted by Otago University. 

He said he will get off the back of rural New Zealand when he sees water quality is no longer deteriorating.

“If we can’t get a collaborative outcome from stakeholders, someone has to make a decision and I’m prepared to be that person.”

The LAWA report shows that rural water quality is improving.

That has been achieved by on-farm improvements with the encouragement and education by regional councils, and industry bodies including Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and dairy companies.

The country’s recent economic growth had been at the expense of the environment, especially through the expansion and intensification of dairy and Parker was unequivocal that will no longer be the case.

Behavioural change will come only through education, regulation and price and Parker said regulation to improve compliance, monitoring and enforcement is the most important instrument.

Price? Does this forebode a new tax in the Budget?

That will be driven through changes to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater.

The document established national standards to be applied locally for emissions such as nutrient and sediment discharges, land intensification and deadlines for improvement.

Parker said he is also seeking scientific advice on appropriate nutrient and sediment loadings, the impact of beef feedlots, intensive winter grazing and cattle in waterways.

He told the 70 delegates his priority is to stop further degradation and said agriculture will have a generation to reverse damage to waterways but he expects to see some material improvement within five years.

Waterways didn’t degrade overnight. It will take time to completely reverse the degradation but the LAWA report shows improvements are happening.

Land use and land management decisions are the most common cause of water quality degradation and it has been exacerbated by agricultural intensification and what he called poor land practice by some.

The speed with which dairying expanded caught local and central government by surprise as the sector sought to produce dairy products for Asia but now exceeds carrying capacity in some areas.

Parker believed possible solutions are to shift to high value horticulture and cropping.

It is the government’s role to set standards, not to dictate how they will be achieved. Horticulture and cropping can degrade water too.

Farmers have a vested interest in ensuring waterways on and near their farms are clean.

That’s the water we drink and swim in.

Any action taken by government to further improve water quality must be based on facts.

It should acknowledge that waterways in irrigated areas is cleaner than those without irrigation and that water quality in urban areas is often much worse than that in the country.

 


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