Quote of the day

April 2, 2015

To their credit, National has already identified that one of the key barriers to progress and development in many parts of the country is the Resource Management Act (RMA). This is certainly the case in Northland, which is rich in natural resources but poor in economic activity and jobs. But ironically for the people of Northland, by electing Winston Peters they may well have blocked the RMA reforms that are required to improve access to such resources.

The RMA is one of those Acts of Parliament that most people have little contact with. They are the lucky ones.

It’s the property owners and business people with initiatives that come into contact with the Act. Most come to dislike it intensely because they encounter first hand the extortionate demands of ‘affected parties’, the manipulation by activists, the huge costs extracted by the RMA industry, and the barriers put up by consenting authorities.

As a result, consents will often take years to go through the process – council hearings, the Environment Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, all costing applicants such vast sums of money, that in the end many are forced to abandon their project altogether. . .

While there are no doubt a multitude of ideas about how best to move resource planning forward to benefit the country – including the use of council case managers as advocates to guide applicants through the regulatory process and gain the cooperation of government agencies – at the heart of this matter is a realisation that holding back progress is not in the country’s best interest. Yes, we must be careful to minimise the impact of development on the environment, but we must also recognise that New Zealand families need economic growth and jobs if they are to thrive and prosper.

The irony is that as a result of the Northland by-election, the fate of the RMA is now in the hands of Mr Peters. Does he truly care about the long-term well-being of Northlanders, or is he too going to deliver more show than substance for his constituents – some new bridges and a bit of tar seal, when what they really need are jobs.  – Dr Muriel Newman,


Rural round-up

April 1, 2015

Big dump culmination of years of worry – David Bruce:

A frustrated North Otago farmer drove 120km on Monday to dump a load of excrement at the Otago Regional Council’s doorstep in Dunedin. David Bruce talks to him about why he did it.

Five Forks dairy farmer Robert Borst says he is at a loss about where to go from here.

He says he faces losing everything he has worked for in an industry he has wanted to be in since he was 15.

He left school and started at the bottom in dairying, shifted from Taranaki to the Waitaki Plains in 1992 then, from 1997, he and wife Sylvia started to build up what are now three dairy farms at Five Forks.

Changes in a water plan by the Otago Regional Council setting new limits on discharges from his farms has put everything in jeopardy, he believes. . .

Positive agriculture Omarama winner – Sally Rae:

Omarama farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil want to help highlight the positive side of agriculture.

Mr and Mrs Subtil were named the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.

The couple farm Omarama Station, a property of nearly 12,000ha, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919. . .

Farmer confidence grows – Dene Mackenzie and Sally Rae:

There is a sense of relief as two surveys show regional economic confidence rose in the three months ended March.

Farmer confidence has taken a ”significant jump” in the first quarterly Rabobank rural confidence for the year. The survey, completed earlier this month, was released the same day as Fonterra dropped its dividend estimate range by 5c to between 20c and 30c to the disappointment of farmers.

The Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey showed rural regions and smaller centres generally showing the biggest gains. Confidence in the main centres was mixed. . .

Can science fix the dairy debate – Kevin Ikin:

The debate continues on whether there should be a moratorium on further dairy farm development.

The Green Party and the Fish and Game organisation are keen on the concept, which they say should be given serious consideration while the impact of intensive farming on the environment is properly assessed.

The issue also came up at a water management forum in Geraldine, South Canterbury, last week.

One of the speakers, Morgan Foundation economist Geoff Simmons said if the Government was serious about water quality then it had to consider a moratorium on further dairy farm conversions.

“Actually, if you are maintaining or improving the water quality, how can you do that when you are still doing conversions? . .

Fonterra’s disappointing performance – Allan Barber:

Fonterra’s interim result announcement contains confirmation of the farmgate milk price forecast of $4.70, but a reduction in the added value dividend.

The steady milk payout forecast was anticipated, although Global Dairy Trade auction results have so far failed to achieve the US$3,500 per tonne average which is estimated to be the minimum needed to underpin the payout. The higher volume being released for auction GDT and likely milk production by competitors such as American and European farmers may actually increase the risk of underachieving the forecast end of year payout. . .

Fonterra says it’s holding its own in Canterbury as farmer suppliers look to new processors - Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, New Zealand’s largest dairy processor, says it’s holding its own in the dairy-intensive Canterbury region, despite reports some of its 10,600 farmers shareholders are lining up to supply milk to its competitors in the wake of its weak interim results last week.

Farmers were disappointed with the half-year results, which included a 16 per cent drop in profit to $183 million and a trimming of the forecast dividend payout for the year by 5 cents to a range of between 20 cents and 30 cents. Faced with a low forecast payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season compared to a record $8.40 kg/MS last season, farmers had been expecting a fatter rather than skinnier dividend from its value-added activities. . .

Search on for 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year:

A nationwide search begins this week for young men and women who exemplify the leadership qualities that have earned New Zealand’s primary products the trust of consumers all over the world.

Starting this April, young horticultural leaders from every corner of New Zealand will compete in six sector competitions to qualify as a finalist in the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’.

2014 overall winner, Northland orchardist and horticultural business owner, Patrick Malley, believes that despite the ups and downs the primary sector has faced in recent times, New Zealand’s value as a leading producer of primary products comes from the high levels of trust this country’s products enjoy overseas. . .


Rural round-up

March 31, 2015

Fonterra’s fed-up farmers risk - Andrea Fox:

Fonterra is facing a supplier crisis of confidence and risks haemorrhaging milk to private companies as fed-up farmer-shareholders react to its latest financial results.

The co-operative turned in disappointing half -year results, with profit and revenue down on last year, and rocked farmers and the sharemarket with its announcement of a deterioration in the forecast dividend.

The dividend tracks how the business is performing and was widely expected to be fattened or at least held steady, given the low milk price it is paying farmers this season. . .

Sheep and beef can match dairy grazing :

Wintering dairy cows may be a useful pasture development tool but once the bulk of the regrassing’s done, sheep and beef can at least match the returns, say award winning North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith.

 They farm near Five Forks, inland of Oamaru, and if their name sounds familiar it’s probably because they won the Ballance Farm Environment Awards national title in 2012, though it may also be through the Newhaven Perendale stud flock.

Newhaven is the name of the home farm, 230ha of rolling country with 193ha effective, while up the road they have Blairgowrie, a 1072ha hill block running from 450m to 650m above sea-level. . .

Upset farmers dump excrement at ORC – Timothy Brown:

An ongoing dispute with a North Otago farmer who says he is at his wit’s end has landed the Otago Regional Council in the poo – literally.

Five Forks farmer Robert Borst says the ORC’s water plan change 6A has ”destroyed us as a family” and provided four years of ”sheer frustration and exhaustion” for him and his wife, Sylvia.

When told last night the ORC still hoped to resolve the dispute, he replied: ”Bull… – absolute bull…”. . . .

Water quality threatens fishing future - Blake Foden:

Poor water quality is threatening the future of one of Southland’s biggest industries, fishermen say.

Seafood exports from New Zealand were worth $1.375 billion in 2014, up 3 per cent on the previous year.

About $150 million could be attributed to the Southland coast, with crayfish accounting for two-thirds of that.

But Bill Chisholm, spokesman for eel and blue-cod fishermen, said the future of the industry was being jeopardised by poor water quality as a result of sediment flowing into the ocean and estuaries. . .

 

Toxins killed Southland cows, Ministry saysEvan Harding:

The death and illness of hundreds of dairy cows in Southland last year was due to the swedes they fed on having high concentrations of naturally occurring toxins, an initial assessment by the Ministry for Primary Industries has found.

A ministry spokesman said the industry-led investigation into factors contributing to the deaths of cattle in Southland was still ongoing.

But an initial assessment undertaken by the ministry supported the agriculture industry’s view that the cause of deaths were due to swedes having higher concentrations of glucosinolates, a toxin which naturally occurs in brassicas and is known to be toxic to cattle. . .

Fifth Grand Finalist Confirmed in ANZ Young Farmer Contest:

Pete Fitz-Herbert is the fifth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The twenty-nine year old stock manager took first place at the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final in Palmerston North on Saturday 28 March.

Mr Fitz-Herbert went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge.

Pete has been competing in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest since 2007 but this will be his first attempt at Grand Final level. Pete stock manages on the family farm and also runs a Dorset Down sheep stud. Pete is an active member of the Marton Young Farmers Club, where he enjoys networking with like-minded people and participating in a range of events. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 28, 2015

Mackenzie Country Station Wins Supreme in 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Omarama high-country farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil are the Supreme Winners of the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a BFEA ceremony on March 26, the Subtils also collected the Massey University Innovation Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award.

Richard and Annabelle run 12000ha Omarama Station – a family-owned property previously farmed by Annabelle’s parents Dick and Beth Wardell. . .

Guardians of the land a family tradition – Jill Galloway:

Broadlands Station has 250 hectares in trees, many of them in gullies or on banks, saving the land from slipping.

The farm goes from the banks of the Pohangina River to the foothills of the Ruahine Range in Manawatu. There are 1650 hectare in all, 1400 of them are effective – running sheep and beef.

Broadlands stood out at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because of its tree programme but also for other reasons. The other finalists for the supreme award were all dairy farms. . .

Is Gypsy Day too disruptive for rural people? :

Discussion is underway about less disruptive methods of moving farms as Gypsy Day looms.

On June 1 thousands of sharemilkers will pack their cows into stock trucks and move equipment and families to new farms. It is a familiar sight which sums up the traditional path of progression in New Zealand’s dairy industry.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader, people and business, Mark Paine said getting away from the traditional Gypsy Day was one of the issues explored at a workshop that focused on improving the reputation and experience of working in dairying. . .

 

 It can only get better – Annette Scott:

Nothing too flash or expansive for farmers came out of Fonterra’s half-yearly report, dairy farmer Chris Ford says.

Fonterra maintained the 2014-15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price at $4.70/kg milksolids (MS) but lowered its forecast dividend by 5c to 20-30c.

“What it means for most is that the tough just gets tougher,” the Mid Canterbury equity manager said. . .

 NZ milk powder futures drop as Fonterra lifts GDT volumes, signalling prices will fall - TIna Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand whole milk powder futures dropped after Fonterra Cooperative Group said it will increase the volume of product it puts up for sale on the GlobalDairyTrade platform, suggesting prices may extend their decline in next week’s auction.

Auckland-based Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has increased the amount of whole milk powder it will offer at the upcoming April 1 auction in Contract 2, which covers product with a June shipping date, by 14 percent to 4,965 metric tonnes. Whole milk powder futures for June delivery dropped US$230 a tonne to US$2,400 a tonne today. At last week’s GDT auction, whole milk powder fell 9.6 percent to US$2,928 a tonne. . .

Bittersweet response to bee code – Rebecca Sharpe:

THE honey bee industry is set to be modernised with the adoption of the industry’s first biosecurity code of practice.

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice is in the draft stage, which has received mixed feelings from beekeepers.

Glen Innes-based Craig Klingner, who is chairman of the industry working group developing the code, said the bee industry had to “step up”.

“All the (states’) Department of Primary Industries are slowly walking away from us so unless the industry steps up, we’re going to go without,” he said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2015

Dairy industry to launch workplace accord:

A new dairy industry workplace accord will be launched in May as part of a range of industry actions aimed at helping farmers attract and retain skilled people to work on farms.

“The Quality Workplace Accord is a commitment to improving the work environment of dairy farms,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine.

“The overarching goal is to achieve quality work environments through helping farmers implement good people management practices. . .

Korea tariff reductions benefit value-added velvet:

The potential to add value to velvet in New Zealand as tariffs reduce is the one big positive for deer farmers to come out of the Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

“It’s no secret that Deer Industry NZ was unhappy with the terms of the agreement in respect to tariffs and taxes on frozen velvet. But we now need to make the most of the opportunity we have gained – elimination of the 20 per cent tariff on processed velvet over 15 years,” says DINZ chief executive Dan Coup.

“It’s a better outcome than some other countries have achieved, and the overall result of the FTA for the NZ primary sector will be very positive. We look forward to the FTA starting as soon as possible because within two or three years the reduction will be quite meaningful.” . .

Deer industry to co-operate with Korean health-food giant:

The New Zealand deer industry is today signing an agreement with one of Korea’s largest health food manufacturers, the Korea Ginseng Corporation (KGC), to help it develop more products containing NZ velvet antler.

The non-binding memorandum of understanding, to be signed by Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup and KGC chief executive officer Kim Jun-gi, will be witnessed by Prime Minister John Key. The signing will take place in Seoul following the signing of the Korea New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

“For seven years our relationship with KGC has strengthened and has increasingly focused on the development of branded consumer products that include extracts from NZ velvet. In that time, KGC has developed a children’s tonic that has become a household name in Korea, taking around 8 per cent of NZ’s velvet production,” said DINZ chief executive Dan Coup. . .

 

Lengthy links in merino field – Sally Rae:

The Merriman name is closely linked with Australia’s merino sheep industry.

Wal Merriman, managing director of the famed Merryville stud, was recently in Otago to judge super-fine and ultra-fine merinos at the Upper Clutha A&P Show in Wanaka.

His family’s association with the New Zealand merino industry extended for 50 years or more, with Merryville’s genetics featuring among the bloodlines of New Zealand sheep, Mr Merriman (62) said. . .

Finalists announced for farm environment awards – Sally Rae:

Five finalists have been named for this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Richard and Kerry France, from Longview Farm, in West Otago, also own the Hazeldale Perendale stud.

The couple bought the 568ha breeding and finishing property, at the northwest end of the Moa Flat area, in 2000.

About 6000 stock units – sheep, deer and cattle – were wintered. Peter and Sarah Adam have been managing Wilden Station, at Moa Flat, since 2000, when the property was purchased by Mrs Adam’s uncle, John Maisey.

It comprises a sheep and beef breeding and finishing operation spread over the home block of 570ha and a run block, 14km away, of 1200ha. About 12,300 stock units were wintered. . .

Mesh cover to fight potato pests:

New research shows a plastic mesh cover laid over potato crops could be the answer to fighting potato pests without using chemical sprays.

Scientists at the Future Farming Centre and Lincoln University say field trials of the mesh cover is showing exciting results in controlling the tomato potato psyllid as well as reducing potato blight.

The psyllid arrived in New Zealand in 2006 and can cause severe crop loss through its bacterium.

Researchers Dr Charles Merfield said the trials over two growing seasons in Canterbury showed potatoes under the mesh covers had reduced numbers of psyllids, increased tuber size and an increase in overall yield. . .

Project brings students back to nature:

As the earth loses biodiversity at a rapid rate and people become increasingly disconnected from nature, we must encourage new generations to take an interest in preserving the natural world, says Lincoln University senior ecology lecturer Dr Tim Curran.

High school students involved in an award-winning biodiversity project aimed at addressing this issue met at Lincoln University last week to examine the plant and animal specimens they collected a year ago during a weekend EcoBlitz near Lewis Pass. 

More than 170 high school students from 21 South Island schools took a trip to the Nina Valley in March last year, accompanied by scientists and students from Lincoln University and many other research organisations.

They found a range of plant, insect, bird, reptile and mammal species, which some of the students set about identifying last Thursday, March 12. . .

Oxfam calls for support as Vanuatu farmers face months without crops:

As aid begins to reach communities across Vanuatu, Oxfam New Zealand have spoken to their development partner Farm Support Association (FSA) to understand the longer term impact Cyclone Pam will have on a society which lives mostly off farming.

Oliver Lato, Senior Extension Officer from FSA was at home in Port Vila when the Cyclone struck. “For me, it was my first time experiencing a cyclone this strong. I was at home. I thought it would take off the roof. There was lots of water overflowing from the creek. Water came into my house, half a meter deep”.

Mr Lato said “Lots of vegetation is destroyed. Root crops are people’s main food. If yam, cassava and taro haven’t been destroyed, they need to be quickly harvested before they rot from flooding. They will need to be eaten quickly, within a week or so they will be spoilt” . .

 Fourth ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist Named:

Sully Alsop is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty-one year old took first place at the East Coast Regional Final in Greytown on Saturday 21 March.

Mr Alsop went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .

 

 


Quote of the day

March 24, 2015

Real people live in places like the West Coast. At the moment we are doing it hard. We know that prices will recover, but we have to ask if there will be an opportunity to benefit. We want to be more than a picture post card on an Auckland coffee table. We want a reasonable future alongside a responsible mining industry that knows that it must look after the environment that we actually live in every day. We want a fair go. New Zealand prides itself on a concept of fairness. Sadly that seems to have gone out the window where mining is proposed.Paul Wylie, chief executive Buller District Council in the foreword to From Red Tape to Green Gold

 


Counting cost of greening ag

March 16, 2015

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are surveying dairy farmers to find out how much money they have invested on-farm in environmental initiatives.

Federated Farmers initiated this research on farmers on-farm environmental spend in the Horizons region last year, and found it was invaluable information to have on hand.

In Horizons the survey results from 900 dairy farmers showed 166 of them had spent a total of $18.5 million on environmental initiatives on-farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry body has now joined the quest for environmental spend data and is working in tandem with Federated Farmers to cover the rest of the country.

“It’s been difficult for the industry to quantify all the investment that has been made across the 12,000 dairy farms in New Zealand in areas like effluent systems, stock exclusion from waterways and riparian planting. We have all these individual businesses doing what they need to do and just getting on with the job but nobody knows how much money that’s involving. There are obviously costs to all this investment in responsible dairy farming and environmental stewardship and we just want to put some numbers against it.

“If we want the public and the regulators to understand what is already happening out there, we need to know the facts and figures. We can only get those from farmers,” he says.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chair, Andrew Hoggard, says that this is as much about giving the industry something to be proud of as it is about showing the public that dairy farmers are serious about the part they play in protecting the environment.

“The more facts we have, the easier it is to tell the story about how the industry has stepped up to play its part and more importantly the significant amount farmers are investing to do that.”

“Meeting our commitments under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and industry strategy is a huge undertaking not just with national resources but with farmer’s time and money.

“We can’t tell the public or others what we don’t know – so we’re trying to understand how much that commitment to the environment is adding up to at a farm level.”

Mr Hoggard added that the Federation and DairyNZ are collecting the data region by region, which they will eventually be able to put together across the country to tell both the regional and national story.

“Now it’s up to New Zealand dairy farmers to take the survey we’ve sent out to them or visit either of our websites to access it.  If they know their environmental spend it’s quick and easy to do.”

“We’re urging farmers to take part in this project if they haven’t already and to complete it by the end of March.”

Farmers need to complete the survey to help those who help us – DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.

Those who do more are more likely to respond than the minority who do little but it will still provide valuable information on what farmers are doing and how much it costs.

Farming to the required environmental standard isn’t negotiable.

Many farmers go well beyond the minimum required. The financial return on that might not justify the expense but there will be environmental benefits and probably social ones too.


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