Rural round-up

24/02/2021

Lucky to be alive – Nigel Beckford:

Sheep and beef farmer Jack Cocks almost died from an aneurysm. Now he’s sharing with other farmers what his recovery taught him about resilience. 

Jack’s part of the team that runs Mt Nicholas, a high-country merino sheep and cattle station, on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu. “I grew up on a sheep and beef farm, went to uni, travelled overseas and came back and worked in an agribusiness consultancy. My wife Kate and I came here to work in 2009. There’s a team of four of us that run the farm. It’s probably more of a democracy than a lot of farms but it works well. It means we can use all our different skills.”

Jack says Mt Nicholas is a great place to work and raise a family (they have two kids). “Although we’re in an isolated situation, there is a team of us here so we might see more people during our working day than many sheep and beef farmers. I really love what farming offers – that mix of running your own business as well as working outside doing practical things. We enjoy a huge variety of work.”

All that was suddenly at risk when he suffered his aneurysm in 2013.  “I’m very lucky to be here,” he says, remembering the night it happened. . .

IrrigationNZ supports Infrastructure Commission assessment that ‘status quo’ for water management no longer tenable:

IrrigationNZ is heartened by the release of Te Waihanga’s (Infrastructure Commission) state-of-play report #3 on water released today and agrees with many insights .

“The report acknowledges that the status quo of water management is unlikely to be sustainable – and we 100% agree,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

“We are pleased the report highlights the need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water to ensure optimal, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. This is long overdue and something we have advocated for. . . 

Regenerative agriculture white paper sets out pressing research priorities :

There is a pressing need for scientific testing of the anecdotal claims being made about regenerative agriculture. A new white paper sets out 17 priority research topics identified by 200+ representatives of New Zealand’s agri-food system.

Regenerative agriculture has been proposed as a solution for some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most acute challenges. Advocates suggest it can improve the health of our waterways, reduce topsoil loss, offer resilience to drought, add value to our primary exports, and improve the pervasive well-being crisis among rural farming communities.

With a groundswell of farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

A new white paper, Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand – Research Pathways to Build Science-Based Evidence and National Narratives, sets out 17 priority research topics and introduces 11 principles for regenerative farming in New Zealand. . . 

Young inventor on mission to transform wool sector – Annette Scott:

The strong wool industry can pin its hopes on a resurgence with $5 a kilogram return for coarse wool fibre in the sights of Kiwi inventor and entrepreneur Logan Williams.

Just 25 years of age and hailing from Timaru, Williams hit the headlines when he developed and successfully exited four revolutionary inventions, including polarised contact lenses to treat photosensitive epilepsy and a system to destroy methane gas produced on farms.

He received awards for his inventions, including a National Merit Award at the Eureka Science and Innovation Competition. . .

Roped in for life by rodeo – Sally Rae:

As the rodeo season continues around the country, Southland farmer and cowboy Greg Lamb has overcome a few hefty obstacles to get back in the saddle again. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Extraordinarily determined.

That sums up Greg Lamb, a Southland sheep and beef farmer and rodeo champion who has battled injury — and a brain tumour — while pursuing and succeeding in the sport he loves.

Mr Lamb (43), who farms near Waikaka, might be a bit banged up at the moment — he hit the ground with his shoulder “fairly hard” at Wairoa rodeo last month, fracturing his shoulder blade, four ribs and a vertebra — but he is focused on making a return this season. . . 

Westland’s new CEO takes reins :

Westland Dairy Company Limited’s new CEO Richard Wyeth is looking forward to bringing the strength of a global dairy giant to the opportunities that lie ahead for the West Coast dairy processor after taking up the leadership role this week.

Mr Wyeth’s arrival at Westland yesterday was welcomed by resident director of Westland Dairy Company Limited, Shiqing Jian, who stepped down as interim CEO. Mr Jian served as interim CEO following the resignation of former Westland CEO Toni Brendish in August last year.

“We hope Richard is as excited as we are about the opportunities that lie ahead for Westland as he takes stewardship of this iconic New Zealand company,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 


Handicapping submitters and sabotaging submission process

24/02/2021

Kate MacNamara says there’s a storm brewing for the Climate Change Commission

Last week a coalition of over a dozen New Zealand business and industry groups – including heavyweight exporters DairyNZ and the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, mining group Straterra, the Motor Industry Association, the New Zealand Initiative, and BusinessNZ – penned a formal letter to Rod Carr, chair of the Climate Change Commission.

“We are pleased that the commission has, in response to requests, begun to release the models and underlying data that supports the commission’s findings,” it said.

“However, to constructively contribute submissions so that the commission is as well-informed as possible, we must be able to thoroughly review and comment on data and models which will influence major decisions about the future of our economy and society.”

“Given the delay in the release of crucial modelling data (not all of which is out yet),” the letter asked for an extension of the March 14th deadline for submissions by at least two weeks.

It’s a considerable failure that the commission neglected to release this data three weeks ago, along with the draft report. And the drip-feed of information, less than three weeks from the submission deadline, now threatens to reduce the window of public consultation to theatre.

So far, the commission has released peer reviews of its modelling approach and some underlying data. On February 10th, it also held a workshop to discuss the modelling, though the models themselves were not released. It also has a second webinar session to discuss “cost conclusions” scheduled for February 23rd.

Critically, the commission has not provided either sensitivity analysis nor the marginal abatement costs, broken out by industry.

That data matters. Sensitivity work helps economists to understand just how precarious that “less than 1 per cent of GDP” figure is. Will it alter significantly with slight adjustments to inputs? And the industry data for abatement cost would allow interested parties to properly test the assumptions the commission has made. . . 

The environmental impact of the CCC’s recommendations will only be known in hindsight but there is no doubt that they will come at a considerable cost which will have a significant economic impact.

Eric Crampton writes:

The Climate Change Commission’s recommendations span the breadth of the economy. They are required to come up with sector-by-sector climate budgets consistent with getting New Zealand with net zero emissions under the Zero Carbon Act. 

The sector-by-sector budgets rest on underlying models. The models build predictions about what will happen as ETS prices rise, and what will happen when some additional constraints are put into the system. Some of the CCC’s recommendations then mandate what they think are their best guesses about what a carbon price would do, subject to those constraints.

The scope is vast. The entire economy, really. 

And the Government has already signaled that it will just do whatever the Commission says to do. 

So getting things right seems to matter and is rather high stakes. 

In that kind of situation, you’d think that the underlying models would be available for checking and testing. Getting bits wrong could be really really expensive, whether you want to frame it as economic costs, or as carbon mitigation forgone. 

But the Commission is not in a sharing mood.  . . 

You might have hoped that plans that have potential to re-engineer the entire economy would have more provably robust underpinnings. . . 

You might in deed.

A media release from the CCC advises that it will extend the deadline for submissions by two weeks. Nothing is mentioned about releasing all its data.

It is impossible for anyone to make a fully informed submission without all the information on which the CCC’s recommendations are made and that includes all the data.

The CCC’s final recommendations and the policy the government implements as a result of that, will have significant and long-reaching consequences. Failing to release all the data in time for submitters to analyse and understand is handicapping them,  sabotaging the submission process and that in turn will make it much harder to gain support for the policy.


Rural round-up

23/02/2021

Miro – bringing jobs home  – Country Life:

At four o’clock every morning Ivy Habib’s alarm wakes her and she gets ready to drive the 45 minutes to work at Te Teko in Bay of Plenty.

Ivy’s a supervisor on a blueberry farm, built on her trust’s land in partnership with Miro, a company set up to improve productivity on Māori-owned land and to create jobs for local people.

Ivy’s daughter, grandsons, cousins and aunties also work on the orchard.

Miro has 30 shareholders, all Māori entities, trusts, iwi and hapū that want to use high-value horticulture to create career opportunities for their people. . . 

Running short of woolhandlers – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the school holidays ended, many shearing contractors were struggling to replace their “uni power”.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said there was a shortage of staff, particularly woolhandlers, as many of those who worked in the sheds returned to university or secondary school.

“We have a lot of students in the North Island, which is fine for us as we are finishing now [the season] and then they go back to university.

“In the South Island they [contractors] have started to get busier and their use of ‘uni power’ does not quite line up as well.”

In previous years, contractors could fill the void by employing woolhandlers from overseas who were in the country as tourists. . . 

Red meat sector crucial to nation’s economy – Sirma Karapeeva and Sam McIvor:

Every day, 35,700 people, the equivalent of the population of Gisborne, play a role in producing something in New Zealand we often take for granted.

They are people from all walks of life, those with a love of the land, those clothed in whites, engineers and scientists, and sales and marketing executives. This product’s origins and means of production are far removed from the cities many of us live and work in.

More importantly, this product is not only essential for a healthy life, but it’s at the heart of the New Zealand economy. . . 

 

Focus on future-proofing market – Shawn McAvinue:

Ageing farmers are a concern for new Otago Farmers Market general manager Michele Driscoll.

The biggest worry for market staff and board members was vendors retiring and stopping selling produce at the weekly market in Dunedin because they had no succession plan, Ms Driscoll said.

“They’re not going to be here forever, and who is coming up the ranks?”

The board members frequently discussed how the farming sector in the region could be future-proofed to ensure there was a supply of fresh produce on sale at the market.

“We are built on primary produce.” . . 

Reaching burn out in their jobs, a couple gave up city life in Australia to go farming in New Zealand – Lawrence Gullery:

City slickers dreaming of giving up their jobs for a better life can take their lead from Nicola Harvey and Pat Ledden.

The couple exchanged life in Sydney to begin a new venture, farming a 130ha lease property north of Taupō, about three years ago.

Nicola, 40, worked in journalism for the ABC and was then managing editor for BuzzFeed. She had met Pat, 41, in Sydney, who worked as a property valuer.

“We were very city-orientated people in our 20s and most of our 30s,” Pat said. . . 

Growers raise concern over imbalance in standards :

As Red Tractor consults on bolstering its standards, some cereal growers have voiced concerns over the requirements they are expected to meet compared with foreign imports.

In January, the UK’s largest assurance scheme, Red Tractor, announced that it was consulting the industry on significant changes to its standards.

The consultation is set to run until 5 March and intends to roll out the proposed changes in November this year.

Red Tractor say they are consulting to ensure their standards remain fit for purpose, evolving to keep up with legislation and best practice, as well as to reflect the issues currently on consumer’s minds. . .


Rural round-up

22/02/2021

EU carbon tax: threat or opportunity? – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand farmers have been quick to claim world champion status for carbon efficiency. So why are they so nervous about a planned European tax on the carbon emissions of imports? Nigel Stirling reports.

It has been described by the European Union’s top bureaucrat as the continent’s “man on the moon moment”.

An ambitious plan to decarbonise the European economy known as the “Green Deal”.

“The goal is to reconcile our economy with our planet,” European Commission president Ursula van der Leyen boldly declared when first revealing the plan in December 2019. . . 

M. Boris review gets underway – Annette Scott:

An independent review of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme is aimed at identifying lessons that can be learned from New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response.

Driven by the programme partners, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), the review is deemed best practice given the scale of the eradication programme.

It will also fulfil a commitment made to farmers at the start of the programme, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says.

“Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is hard work, but with the whole sector working together we have made really good progress,” Van der Poel said. . . .

A winning formula for good cows :

A Waikato dairy farming couple have proven they’re at the top their game, taking out two prestigious titles at New Zealand’s largest cattle showing event.

Tom and Francesca Bennett, Te Hau Holsteins, had both the best Holstein Friesian cow at New Zealand Dairy Event and Tom also took out the World Wide Sires, All Breeds Junior Judging Competition. The family was also named Premier Holstein Friesian Exhibitor.

“It was awesome, I did the Pitcairns Trophy judging competition at the Waikato Show and came second, but Dairy Event was my first really big judging competition to win,” says Tom. . . .

Dairy conversion Otaki style – Peter Burke:

From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. Near the Horowhenua town of Otaki, dairy conversion has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not a case of converting sheep and beef farms to dairy farms, rather it’s a case of just converting old dairy sheds to country style tourist accommodation. Reporter Peter Burke visited two such conversions by two pretty special and creative women.

The two conversions are complementary – one offers an experience on a commercial dairy farm while the other has a focus on horses.

Stacy Faith and her husband Andrew milk 360 cows once a day to supply Fonterra. They separately milk 20 more to supply A2 milk for the vending machine they have installed at their farm gate. It’s a farm that has long been in the Faith family. . . 

From working at the dairy farm to owning it – Ruby Heyward:

Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang is farming with a twist, but not without some help.

Originally from Nepal, Mrs Tamang moved to Waimate in 2010. She bought the Raspberry Cottage business and the attached farm from couple Barry and Margaret Little in 2019.

For the six years prior, Mrs Tamang had worked for Mr and Mrs Little, caring for the berries as though they were hers – and now they are.

Using her experience, and with the help of the previous owners’ continued guidance, Mrs Tamang wanted to grow what the supermarket did not offer. . . 

 

Mental health: young farmer recalls decision to quit farming >

A 23-year-old who had dreamed of being a farmer since he was a child had to quit the industry after his mental health started to slip.

Dan Goodwin from Suffolk has shared his story during the annual Mind Your Head, a week-long campaign raising awareness of farmers’ mental health issues and the support available to them.

When Dan turned 18, he moved from Bury St Edmunds and attended a land-based college in Norfolk.

Throughout his studies, he enjoyed learning and the structure that his apprenticeship with a small family-run farm gave him. . .

 


Rural round-up

21/02/2021

Anxious times – Rural News:

The recent Climate Change Commission discussion document has made many farmers anxious.

Quite rightly, they are keen to know what’s in store for them and DairyNZ has been fielding calls from farmers. The Climate Change Commission was formed alongside work to set the country’s climate targets (including biogenic methane targets).

The establishment of the commission is legislated under the Zero Carbon Act 2019 and its main purpose is to provide evidence-based advice on climate issues.

Under the Act, the commission is required to deliver advice on setting emissions budgets across the entire economy to government. This advice has implications for all sectors of the economy, including farming. . .

Tackling climate change – Andy Loader:

Is it time to take a deep breath and stop to consider the whole climate change debate on a global scale rather than just based on New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Accord?

We should also consider how we measure the climate change impacts on the environment and move from a per capita basis to one where impact is measured against production outcomes, as this will give a truer picture of the direct impacts on the environment from agricultural production on a global scale.

In last week’s Rural News, Waikato farmer George Moss likened the position New Zealand farmers find themselves in to Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup: “Yes, we are the holders of the cup now, but if we don’t keep innovating and be smart, our competitors will take it off us.”

It’s a great analogy. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers not getting enough help with Bovine TB – Sally Round:

A Northern Hawke’s Bay farmer caught up in the response to a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in the area says they’re not getting the support they need to stay afloat.

The animal health agency, OSPRI, works to control the spread of the disease, which is mainly transmitted by possums.

While OSPRI has been working to get the outbreak under control, more than 500 farms have had to spend the last 12 months operating under restricted livestock movement controls. Latest figures released from OSPRI this month showed there were 15 TB-infected herds – down from 20 last year.

Sonya Holloway, who has been farming in the area for 18 years, said the long-running restrictions and additional TB management costs were adding up and they didn’t feel like they were getting enough support. . . 

Gumboot sales booming – Nigel Stirling:

Rubberware sales in export markets and rubber footwear sales in New Zealand boosted Skellerup’s agri division to a record earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) of $15.3 million in the first half of FY2021.

The interim result for the division was an increase on the previous corresponding period of 56% as revenue grew 18%.

The agri division result also contained the first full six-month contribution from the Silclear business in the United Kingdom.

The agri division manufactures dairy consumables and rubber footwear, including milking liners, silicone tubing, teat sprayers and hose nozzles. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours.

Their interest in milking sheep goes back to when Guy was manager of a 3300ha property near Gisborne, owned by Māori incorporation, Wi Pere Trust. They considered sheep milking and went as far as buying some of the first East Friesian sheep embryos brought into New Zealand. . . 

 

While cities are shut down farmers are making hay – Aaron Patrick:

Australia’s greatest ever wheat crop has made history, and offers lessons for policymakers grappling with natural crises, such as droughts and the pandemic.

From the flat West Australian wheat belt to the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, exhausted farming families have hung up their work boots and parked their tractors, quietly satisfied with making history.

After a drought that tested many farmers’ will to work the dusty soil, this year’s winter crop will be the second-biggest in history, at 55 million tonnes, according to an estimate published on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Plenty of rain in NSW and Victoria, and good conditions in Western Australia, helped farmers grow 33 million tonnes of wheat – the largest crop ever. . .


Rural round-up

20/02/2021

Regenerative farming fight sad – Anna Campbell:

The New Zealand Merino Company and wool brands Allbirds, Icebreaker, and Smartwool have announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform, which represents more than one million hectares in New Zealand.

Consumers want products produced through regenerative farming practices. In the United States, the high-end supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, declared that regenerative agriculture was the No 1 food trend for 2020. Given some of the environmental challenges we have in New Zealand farming, regenerative farming surely makes sense from a production and marketing perspective?

Well maybe — it certainly sounds good, but do we understand what regenerative farming means and what it means specifically in a New Zealand farming context? . . .

Native trees come with some caveats – Richard Rennie:

Planting more native trees for carbon sequestration features strongly in the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) recommendations released this month. Scion scientists Dr Tim Payn and Steve Wakelin are leading work to help provide a better understanding of how native trees can be integrated back into New Zealand’s landscape and carbon soaking toolbox. Richard Rennie reports.

While recommending more native trees be planted in coming years, the CCC also notes there is limited knowledge on cashflows and carbon absorption rates for natives.

Steve Wakelin and Dr Tim Payn agree in principle with this goal to plant more natives for carbon benefits, but also want to highlight the additional environmental and biodiversity benefits of this focus.

They also note there is a devil in the detail behind the commission’s recommendations. . . 

Grand house’ hosts eco-tourism business – Mary-Jo Tohill:

You can take the farmer out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the farmer.

Catlins eco-tourism couple Lyndon and Gill McKenzie supposedly left agriculture 21 years ago for pastures new.

Mr McKenzie grew up at Merino Downs at Waikoikoi, between Gore and Tapanui, and Mrs McKenzie at Mataura.

Since they sold the farm in 2000, life has taken the dynamic duo on a series of jobs and ventures in Wanaka, Cromwell, Dunedin and Australia. They’ve done hospitality, mining and even run an outback diner. . . 

Kate Stewart – her story:

The confidence to create my career 

Next Level graduate Kate Stewart on taking charge of her future in agriculture, following the AWDT leadership and governance development programme. 

“I have a checklist now to vet any new opportunities that come my way. It’s called the ‘is this what Kate wants and is good at’ checklist.”

For Kate Stewart, Next Level was about taking ownership of her new career. At 24-years old, the Palmerston North local and Dairy NZ regional consulting officer was considering new leadership opportunities, but unsure of where to turn next. . .

A day in the life of an arable farmer  – Simon Edwards:

New Zealand’s arable industry is worth $2.1 billion each year to the economy, and earns us $260 million in export sales.  It also employs more than 11,300 Kiwis.

It’s a diverse sector, and a world leader in both volume and quality producing the likes of radish seed, white clover seed and carrot seed.

But while many New Zealanders could probably offer some general details about what a dairy or sheep and beef farmer gets up to in working day, the daily tasks facing an arable farmer might be more of a mystery.  So we decided to ask some Federated Farmers arable sector leaders what they’re currently busy with, starting in the deep south… . . 

£1m micro food business scheme to open in NI :

A £1m capital grant scheme will open in March to help small Northern Irish food firms upscale production to secure new markets for their produce.

The aim of the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is to enable firms that are processing primary agricultural produce to expand.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 will be made available to micro food and drink manufacturing businesses.

A micro enterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs less than 10 full time equivalent employees with a total annual turnover of less than £1.8m. . . 


Rural round-up

19/02/2021

Gore estimates cost of $300m to comply with freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

A small Southland council with less than 6000 ratepayers is potentially facing a $300m bill to comply with new freshwater regulations.

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said meeting the cost of the Government’s compliance was “the perfect financial storm.’’

The government’s new rules aim to improve freshwater quality in a generation.

Councils countrywide were now realising the enormity of the costs involved in complying with the rules, Parry said. . .

UK warned to honour FTA commitments – Peter Burke:

Plans for the United Kingdom to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have come with a warning from New Zealand dairy companies.

Dairy Companies of New Zealand (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey says while he welcomes the intent of the UK to join the group, he wants the NZ government to send a strong message to the UK about how it must honour its commitment to freeing up global trade. He says before being admitted to the CPTTP, as the first nation outside the trans-pacific region to benefit from it, the UK must fully embrace free trade. He wants actions, not just words.

Bailey says the UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation.

But he says the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations.

 

Impact of irrigation on the soil – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Soil organic matter was a hot topic for environmentalists, ecologists and primary producers in 2020.

It is likely to remain at the centre of debate this year as well.

All parties agree it is an important factor of soil quality; the arguments are about how to look after it.

Soil organic matter is increased or decreased by management. Because farmers and growers rarely alter one factor of management in isolation, the drivers of an effect on soil organic matter after a change in management can be difficult to identify. . . 

Holgate ready to tackle new role – Neal Wallace:

Long gone are the days of a bank’s sole function to take an investor’s money and lend it to borrowers. Today, banks are becoming intimately involved in the businesses in which they invest. Neal Wallace spoke to Rabobank’s new head of sustainable business development Blake Holgate.

Blake Holgate has some big questions for which he hopes to find some answers.

Rabobank’s newly appointed head of sustainable business development says near the top of the list is defining exactly what sustainability means in the context of New Zealand farming.

Defining the much maligned word is central to the future of NZ agriculture, and Holgate is confident that meeting such a standard, once it is defined, is achievable. . . 

We’ll eat huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples, so why not possum? – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand is famous for its meat exports and love of a Sunday roast but there are some meats Kiwis have never taken to.

Although some like to dabble in the unusual – crowds flock to events like Hokitika’s famous Wildfoods Festival to down huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples – for many, a venison steak is about as adventurous as dinner is likely to get.

But, with a veritable feast of wild and surplus animals on our doorstep, that needn’t be the case.

So, what’s our beef with alternative meats? . . 

The bogus burger blame  – Frank Mitloehner:

One of the most popular meals in America is one of the most maligned.

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our lifetime, which we must address with urgency, but swapping out a hamburger once a month isn’t how we do it. While the burger does have an impact on our climate, which we’re working to reduce, it’s simply not the climate killer it’s made out to be.

Animal agriculture, including ruminant animals like the cows that belch methane as they digest food, has an environmental footprint. That’s a fact. According to the EPA, animal ag is responsible for 4 percent of the United States’ direct greenhouse gas emissions. Of that amount, beef cattle are in for 2.2 percent. If you want to use the more encompassing cradle-to-grave formula, beef cattle still only account for 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The dairy sector is responsible for 1.9 percent. (Lifecycle assessments are the preferred method of measuring a sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s not always the most appropriate, which I’ll explain in a minute.)

The greenhouse gas emissions of our four-legged friends? Clearly, they’re not nothing. But they’re not everything, either.  The elephant in the room (or rather, in the atmosphere) is fossil fuel. Its sectors combined account for nearly 80 percent of direct U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. There are no life-cycle assessments for these sectors, which is why direct emissions is most appropriate when making comparisons between sectors; between animal agriculture and transportation, for example. . . .


Can NZ learn from EU mistake?

19/02/2021

There’s a lesson for New Zealand here:

Europe’s refusal to permit its farmers to cultivate genetically engineered (GE) crops led to the avoidable emission of millions of tonnes of climate-damaging carbon dioxide, a new scientific analysis reveals.

The opportunity cost of the EU’s refusal to allow cultivation of GE varieties of key crops currently totals 33 million tonnes of CO2 per year, the experts say.

This is equivalent to 7.5 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the entire European agricultural sector, or roughly what might be emitted each year by 10-20 coal-fired power stations.

Given that farmers in North and South America adopted GE crops from the late 1990s onward, this analysis implies that over subsequent decades the additional carbon emitted due to the EU’s opposition to genetic engineering will likely be in the hundreds of millions of tonnes.

The findings result from from the fact that GE versions of major crops produce a higher yield because they can better resist damage from insects and competition from weeds.

With Europe’s farmers condemned to lower total agricultural yields because of GE crop non-adoption, more farmland globally has to be kept in production or plowed up which otherwise might be available for forests to sequester carbon in trees and soil. . .

Can our government learn from the EU’s mistake?

If they want us to accept the science on climate change it must base policy on countering it on science and allow us to use tools which science has proved are both safe and effective.


Rural round-up

18/02/2021

Blubbering start – Rural News editorial:

Climate Change Commission chair Rod Carr’s foolish and ham-fisted comment comparing NZ’s farming sector to the country’s defunct whaling industry was an appalling way for him to kick off the consultation period of his organisation’s draft carbon emissions budget.

It is a pity Carr has now blotted his copybook with farmers.

When appointed Climate Commission chair last year, he sounded much more reasonable and measured—even telling the Newsroom website:

“In the agricultural sector, there is no or little denial of climate change…In the agricultural sector there is a growing awareness of the need for change, but also a concern about what is the nature of the change that is needed. I think the agricultural sector is highly innovative, I don’t think they’re in denial. For my money, New Zealand should be substantially increasing its investment in agriculture research.” . . 

The making of a world record :

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead recently set a new women’s world shearing record by clipping 661 lambs in nine hours. A remarkable achievement for a 24-year-old who has only been shearing four years. Farmstrong caught up with her the next day to find out how she did it.

How are you feeling today?

I feel quite normal really. I don’t feel too bad, I’m a little bit tight in some of my muscles but overall, I’m feeling pretty good. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet to be honest. It’s a relief.

Why did you get into shearing?

I love the physical side of shearing and the competitive side, too. In shearing, you get paid on how hard you want to work. I get a lot of satisfaction from pleasing the farmers and leaving work every day after reaching my targets. It’s very satisfying. It’s also fun racing people every day. I love that side of it. . . 

Game changing irrigation system – Sudesh Kissun:

A team of Feilding-based software engineers has helped mastermind a game-changing irrigation prototype that diagnoses its own operating faults and can launch a drone to manage crops at leaf level.

Lindsay, which produces the Zimmatic brand of pivot irrigators, has introduced the concept of the world’s first ‘smart pivot’ to its markets around the globe.

Now, they are inviting New Zealand farmers and irrigation industry colleagues to give feedback so the product can be tailored to their needs. The smart pivot is a new category of mechanised irrigation that moves beyond traditional water application and management to a wide array of crop and machine health capabilities, while also delivering proven water and energy savings.. . .

Born in the USA – Mike Bland:

American-bred and city-raised, he came all the way to the King Country to find his dream job. Mike Bland reports.

Before arriving in New Zealand eight years ago Alex Petrucci, a 30-year-old economics graduate who grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, knew only a little bit about New Zealand and its agriculture.

His father worked for the American Farmland Trust, which employed Kiwi consultants for advice on pasture management. But Alex’s practical skills were limited when he took on his first job milking cows in Reporoa, Waikato.

A year later he met future wife Bronwyn, who was shepherding on Highlands Station, near Rotorua. . . 

Shine a light on Max T – Alex lond:

She had heard about it before, but passed it up. Now Alex Lond is a convert to the Max T method.

Everybody’s talking about it – and I just couldn’t get my head around it. The Max T (maximum milking time) method is becoming more and more popular in and around the Waikato, and I wanted to know why?

After hearing about it from a friend after he won Sharemilker of the Year back in 2018, I somewhat dismissed it as an idea only needed by farmers who didn’t enjoy milking their cows. However, after attending a discussion group last week with a focus on executing the Max T method in herringbone sheds, I have seen it in a whole new light.

I have always enjoyed milking, seeing it as an opportunity to plan my day in the mornings (in my head) and as the final job for the day (most of the time). I am fortunate that milking is not a long, drawn-out affair on my farm. I milk 350 cows through a 29ASHB shed, with recently installed in-shed feeding meaning that the cow flow is always excellent, both in and out of the shed, and the longest milking time this season has been 3 ½ hours from cups-on to taking my boots off for breakfast. . . 

HECS-style loan will encourage more carbon farmers: Menzies Research Centre report – Jamieson Murphy;

THE government could encourage more farmers to take advantage of carbon farming, helping both their bottom dollar and the nation’s emission reduction goals, with a HECS-style loan, a report says.

The policy paper by the Liberal-aligned Menzies Research Centre argues increasing soil carbon within the agricultural sector was a no-brainer, with financial, environmental and climatic dividends.

The report – From the ground up: Unleashing the potential of soil – suggested several practical steps the federal government could take immediately, which could potentially deliver soil carbon gains in a single season

It recommends funding soil carbon baseline measurements through an income-contingent loan scheme, similar to university student HECS loans, which students only have to repay once their wage hits a certain threshold. . . 


Rural round-up

17/02/2021

Cows, coal and carbon – Elbow Deep:

I was once told by someone much smarter than me that the Green Party policy of today will be Labour Party policy in 10 years’ time. Even without that level of insight, nobody who has been paying attention to the political discourse for the past decade will be very surprised at the Climate Change Commission’s recent report, though there do seem to be large numbers of people shaking their heads in dazed bewilderment.

The Commission’s report largely reflects the findings and recommendations of the Royal Society’s 2016 one, Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand. That report was essentially ignored by the government of the day, but it is extremely unlikely the current government will treat the latest version in the same manner.

The report calls for, among other things, an immediate end to the construction of coal fired boilers, an end to the burning of coal for process heat by 2037 and a reduction in the national dairy, beef and sheep numbers of 15% each by 2030.

No matter how climate hesitant you might be or how little New Zealand has contributed to global warming since pre-industrial times, the Commission estimates that figure to be 0.0028 degrees C, the fact remains our share of global warming is 4 times greater than our share of the total population and 1.5 times greater than our share of landmass. . . 

Waterways benefit from farmer’s ‘dream’ :

A Southland dairy farmer has invested $200,000 over the last 10 years in planting and fencing around a river and creeks on his property – an outcome of a dream he had back in his native Zimbabwe.

Edwin Mabonga, who together with his wife Fungai milk 850 cows on a 270ha farm bordering the Aparima River at Otautau near Invercargill, used to spend time in Zimbabwe reading books about New Zealand.

“It was always a big goal of mine to come to New Zealand because I saw it as being the world benchmark for dairy farming,” he says. “We used to read books to learn as much as we could and eventually decided to move to find out what the big deal was.” . . .

Agribusiness icon helping to change dairying :

Project to reduce nitrate run-off from farms attracts critical corporate clout.

A key environmental project on lower North Island dairy farms has attracted renewed corporate backing – and a grandmother is helping bring it about.

Two of New Zealand’s biggest business players, Fonterra and Nestle, have joined a DairyNZ-led project in the Tararua district in which a blend of the herb plantain is being sown in pastures with the aim of both reducing nitrate run-off into waterways and lowering on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The two companies are bringing their muscle to the project by providing additional funding to enable the 50 farms taking part to increase the amount of plantain they grow. . . 

Lasers used as bird deterrent – Jared Morgan:

Using lasers to control birds might sound like science fiction but Ewing Stevens hopes the technology will save his grapes from the peckish pests.

At age 94, Mr Stevens believes he is New Zealand’s oldest vintner but his age is no barrier to being at the cutting edge of technology when it comes to managing his crop at Anthony James Vineyard near Alexandra.

This week three lasers were installed at his Hillview Rd vineyard to replace labour intensive and expensive bird netting.

Mr Stevens said the idea was born out of a conversation with Viticultura co-owner Timbo Deaker, whose Cromwell-based company manages Mr Stevens’ grapes through its vineyard management service, about three years ago. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year Northern Regional Final postponed :

Following Auckland’s move to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2, we have made the decision to postpone the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final based on Government recommendations.

Given the uncertainty around the latest COVID-19 community cases, postponement of the event is the safest and most cautious option despite contingency plans we have in place to run events during an alert level two.

Like other businesses, organisations and events, we need to respond and do our part to limit the potential spread of this virus.

The safety of our competitors, staff, sponsors and spectators is our main priority. It is imperative that we protect our people and do not put anyone at risk. . .

 

Grange visit a flashback for ‘Birley girls’ – Shawn McAvinue:

A former Taieri farm girl got her dying wish to say goodbye to the homestead she was raised in.

Joan King (83) and her sister Patricia Snell (75) were young girls when their family moved on to The Grange farm in East Taieri.

Their parents, Percy and Rita Birley, managed the nearly 300ha sheep, beef and dairy farm.

The women, from Motueka and Auckland respectively, visited the homestead recently to celebrate Mrs King’s birthday. . .


And now for some good news

17/02/2021

The GlobalDairyTrade price index went up again in this morning’s auction.

This supports the expectation this season’s milk payout from Fonterra will be at or nearer the top of the projected range than the bottom.


Rural round-up

16/02/2021

Hackles rise over stock reduction numbers – Hamish MacLean:

A possible 15% reduction in livestock numbers on red meat and dairy farms by 2030 could break New Zealand’s under-pressure agriculture industry, some farmers fear.

While industry groups are taking a cautious approach to the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice package, its preferred path includes reduced livestock numbers by 2030.

And the already weary farming sector feared an urban-centred Government could again make changes for rural New Zealand that did not match what was happening on the ground, Riverton sheep farmer Leon Black said.

Mr Black, a former Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director, said any policy that led to fewer farms in the South would be catastrophic for rural communities. . . 

Concern over land reform changes – Annette Scott:

Changes proposed in the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill threaten the viability of high country farming for pastoral lessees.

The Bill proposes to amend the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and the Land Act 1948, to end tenure review and redesign the regulatory system to deliver improved Crown pastoral outcomes.

But farmers say the Bill is poorly drafted, placing unreasonable limitations on day-to-day farming activities for pastoral leaseholders.

Farmers will be bogged down in red tape and environmental outcomes would go backwards. . . 

Zespri faces a China conundrum – Keith Woodford:

China is New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit market. Growth of this market has been spectacular with the Zespri-owned SunGold variety much-loved by Chinese consumers. The problem is that the Chinese are also growing at least 4000 hectares of SunGold without the permission of Zespri. 

That compares to about 7000 hectares of SunGold grown in New Zealand.

The question now facing Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is what to do about it.  There are no easy solutions.

This issue is something I discussed with local folk in the kiwifruit-growing regions of China way back in the years between 2012 and 2015. It did not need an Einstein to work out that the SunGold budwood was already there. . . 

Kiwifruit settlement a token, but an important one – Nikki Mandow:

This weekend’s settlement over PSA kiwifruit disease compensation is good news for the taxpayer, but bad news for business owners, particularly farmers. 

On Saturday morning, a group of kiwifruit growers announced they had reached a settlement with the Crown over damages they suffered after virulent kiwifruit vine disease PSA entered New Zealand. The bacteria arrived in 2009 in imported Chinese pollen because of a Ministry of Primary Industries biosecurity blunder at the border, and it devastated the industry.

The growers wanted $450 million, plus interest, to compensate them for the destruction of their orchards; in some cases the destruction of their livelihoods. 

But late on Friday night, with the final stage of a seven year-long court battle due to start in the Supreme Court today, they settled for $40 million. . . 

‘Absolutely gutted’: Maniototo A&P Show cancelled over alert level move – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Maniototo A&P Show, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled.

Secretary Janine Smith said organisers made the tough decision to cancel the show after the Government moved the nation to Alert Level 2 and Auckland to Alert Level 3 on Sunday night.

The situation was being assessed by the Government every 24 hours. . . 

Cattle game is trusted; but society still wants oversight – Shan Goodwin:

Cattle producers enjoy a high level of trust by the Australian community but that does not equate to support for a relaxed regulatory environment.

This is the key finding from first-of-its-kind independent research into public perceptions of the cattle industry’s environmental performance, from a team headed up by The University of Queensland.

The work points to the need for a rethink of how the industry sometimes frames the relationship between environmental regulation and community trust.

A well-designed regulatory framework that is developed with the engagement of key stakeholders enables the demonstration of sound environmental performance and should not be framed as a burden, or the result of society being ‘on our back’, says lead researcher Dr Bradd Witt. . . 


Rural round-up

15/02/2021

A tradition of love for the land – Sally Rae:

Maniototo farming families have headed for the hills each summer, moving their sheep into the mountains for summer grazing, in what is believed to now be a unique pilgrimage in New Zealand. This weekend, the Soldiers Syndicate is celebrating its centennial, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

In the first year Phil Smith mustered on the Soldiers Syndicate, the mustering team got snowed in at Blue Duck hut in the remote Otago back country.

It was so cold the men’s hobnail boots froze to the floor and icicles hung around the old tin hut.

“I just thought to myself, what the hell are we doing?” the then 21-year-old recalled. . .

Call from uncle started decades of adventure – Sally Rae:

Tim Crutchley has a humorous explanation for why he keeps turning up for the Soldiers Syndicate musters.

“It’s a bit like working … on the wharf. If you don’t turn up, they all start talking about you. I’m a bit worried they’ll start running me down,” Mr Crutchley (63), who lives in Waikouaiti, quipped.

He would have notched up 40 musters last year — if Covid-19 had not interfered — and he reckoned he would probably keep returning as long as he was physically able to.

Despite being somewhat of a gypsy himself, and moving around, it was one place he kept going back to, and he was looking forward to the centennial celebrations and catching up with people he had not seen for a long time. . .

Kiwifruit growers’ PSA case: Government agrees to pay sector $40 million :

The government has agreed to pay $40 million to kiwifruit sector plaintiffs over the arrival of the vine killing disease PSA.

The disease arrived in New Zealand in 2010 and brought losses to the kiwifruit industry of an estimated $900 million.

Strathboss Kiwifruit Limited, representing a group of growers, and Seeka Limited, a post-harvest operator, and others, have agreed to accept a Crown offer of $40m, which includes a $15m contribution from the Crown’s insurers. The plaintiffs had brought a claim for $450m plus interest.

Legal challenges have been running since 2014, when the claimants filed against the Crown for what they alleged was actionable negligence in allowing PSA into the country. . . 

Banking on hemp becoming mainstream – Country Life:

A Canterbury hemp grower is swinging open his farm gates to showcase the crop.

Mainland Hemp’s Jamie Engelbrecht says people are learning of the plant’s potential but still have lots of questions so they are welcome to attend two upcoming field-day events.

Jamie was born and bred on a sheep and beef property in Waimate then studied farm management at Lincoln University.

The former rural bank manager has recently left his job at ASB to focus on the hemp growing and processing business he started with some Lincoln mates a couple years ago. . . 

Heat stress a priority during busy year for animal welfare work :

A significant amount of work is under way this year to update animal welfare codes and provide updated advice to farmers for issues such as heat stress, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

MPI veterinarian and director for animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell said early next month MPI, in collaboration with industry partners through the Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum, will review its work programme after recently completed shade and shelter research.

Dr Rodwell says that while mitigating heat stress in livestock is complex, MPI is confident that this pan-sector discussion will ensure a joined-up approach is taken.

“The industry has already been proactive on this issue and we are looking forward to keeping that momentum going in order to deliver the best welfare outcomes for outdoor livestock.” . . 

Buoyant year for primary sector with caveats:

New Zealand growers and farmers have kicked off the year with plenty of upbeat news, with strong commodity prices, relatively robust supply lines and continuing strong consumer demand for quality food putting farmers in a positive frame of mind as the new year starts.

The latest Federated Farmers farm confidence survey highlights just how positive farmers are, with a 34 point leap in confidence from last July, when farmers’ confidence was at its lowest in the survey’s 12 year history.

Bayleys national director rural Nick Hawken says the strong prices being received across the primary sector for red meat, milk, horticultural produce and wine is good not only for farmers’ returns, budgets, and frame of mind, but is also positive for the underlying productive value of their rural land investment. . . 

 


Rural round-up

14/02/2021

Stoush brews between Environment Minister and farmers over freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

A stoush is brewing between Southland farmers and Environment Minister David Parker over the Government’s new freshwater rules.

About 94 per cent of farmers that registered to attend a meeting hosted by farming advocate group Groundswell to discuss the freshwater regulations indicated they would not pay their Environment Southland rates in protest against the new freshwater rules introduced by the Government last year.

The group also polled farmers on holding more tractor protests and not applying for resource consents, and which has prompted Parker to again remind Southland farmers that ‘’no one is above the law’’. . . 

Almost half vehicle related deaths on farms could be avoided if seatbelts were used :

WorkSafe is advising farmers to buckle up after an analysis of vehicle-related fatalities found that nearly half those that occur on farm could have been avoided if a seatbelt was being used.

The data analysis, completed by WorkSafe New Zealand, revealed that not wearing seatbelts while on the job was the largest single factor contributing to fatal work-related accidents.

The data analysis coincides with the launch of a new side-by-side vehicle simulator which will spend the next six months travelling New Zealand’s agricultural Fieldays and featuring in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. . . 

Rural contractors say red tape obstructing access to overseas workers – Sally Round and Riley Kennedy:

The rural contracting industry says red tape means they can’t make the most of some overseas workers who’ve been allowed into the country.

Last year, with borders restricted due to Covid-19, the government granted more than 200 critical worker visas to machinery operators to help with the summer harvest.

Rural Contractors New Zealand chief executive Roger Parton said just under 200 came in and the season had progressed reasonably well.

However he said there had been some bureaucratic issues which meant some workers had not been allowed to move to another employer. . .

New Zealand Merino Company launches apparel industry’s first 100% regenerative wool platform:

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and global Merino wool apparel and footwear brands Allbirds®, icebreaker®, and Smartwool® announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform that represents 2.4 million acres (more than one million hectares) in New Zealand. They are doing their part to tackle the impact of the global fashion industry, which is responsible for 10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

“We are on a journey of continuous improvement that recognises and celebrates progress over perfection. Through our industry-leading carbon footprint work with our leading brand partners, and with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, we know on-farm emissions represent approximately 60% of the emissions associated with woollen products and are our biggest opportunity to lower our impacts,” says John Brakenridge, NZM CEO. “ZQRX is an important and necessary evolution of our ethical wool program, ZQ. Through the adoption of regenerative practices that both store more carbon and emit less, we could reduce our on-farm emissions down to zero.” . . 

Small steps boost biodiversity vision:

Farmers discovered that there are many ways to protect and enhance mahinga kai and biodiversity values while visiting Waimak Farm in Eyreton last week.

The 612-hectare farm includes the largest remaining kanuka stand in North Canterbury and due to its important biodiversity values this area is being protected by farm managers Richard and Susan Pearse.

Richard says the kanuka stand provides an important seed source and seedlings have been taken from the area to try and recreate a similar ecosystem in other dryland areas. He is aiming to plant approximately 1000 native trees per year throughout the entire farm. . . 

Farm environment plans optimised on digital platform:

The government’s fresh-water regulations are close to being fully in place, and most in the primary sector acknowledge regardless of which government is in power, the rules will by and large remain in play. Included within them is the need for all farms to complete a farm environment plan (FEP), identifying the farm business’s land management units and how environmental risk within them will be managed and mitigated.

Ideally, farmers want to take ownership of their FEP. They know their farm best, they know its limitations and challenges, and how to work sustainably within them. More often than not, it is simply a case they hold this in their heads, rather than on any formal plan template.

But FEPs have to be more than a compliance driven “box ticking” exercise, and need to deliver real benefits not only to the environment, but to farmers’ profitability, given the time and commitment required to complete them. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/02/2021

Hawke’s Bay apple growers face peak picking season crisis – Tom Kitchin:

Apple growers fear they will face carnage as the picking season hits its peak in the next few weeks.

Border closures have meant few overseas workers, and locals were just as hard to find.

Yummy Fruit general manager Paul Paynter told RNZ he was only sleeping four hours a night these days, even with the help of tranquillisers.

“I think there’s going to be a point of crisis. I mean, physically and mentally I feel it now but I think the pain is really to come down the track. But [I’m] certainly super anxious at the moment, I’m not sleeping and I’m really worried about our future.” . . 

Picker debacle will leave a rotten stench :

The Government’s dismal failure to be flexible and pragmatic about immigration to support the primary sector means hundreds of millions of dollars of losses for apple, wine and other growers is a near certainty,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“That a scheme of financial inducements to get people off the dole and into the fields has resulted in an increase to the workforce of just 54 is the cruel reality of what happens when this Government says it’s coming to the rescue.

“ACT has been on the farmers’ side from the beginning. . . 

New NZ apple brand signals early start to season:

T&G Global has launched a new early ripening apple brand which will be one of the first New Zealand apples of the 2021 season to arrive in key Asian markets.

T&G Global’s Poppi™ apple is a sweet flavoured, medium sized apple with a rich red colour.

With its thin skin, crisp sweet flavour and stunning appearance, it’s the first variety to ripen on Hawke’s Bay trees, enabling an early entry of New Zealand apples in highly competitive Asian markets. . . 

Passionfruit glut expected after limited exports this year

Consumers are set to enjoy a glut of passionfruit after export woes hit the industry.

Seventy percent of the crop would normally be sold in the United States, but that has been limited this year by high airfreight costs and greater competition in the US market.

The NZ Passionfruit Growers Association said about 50 commercial growers produce 120 tonnes a season between February and April.

The cost of air freight meant most of this summer’s crop would be appearing on New Zealand grocery shelves. . . 

Rebuild the RMA but give community time to contribute Feds say :

Federated Farmers has long believed Resource Management Act reform is overdue but is concerned by the speed and scale of the rebuilding proposed today.

“We should be able to get to the end of this process and feel the work has been completed over timeframes that will ensure we deliver the outcomes we want to achieve as a country,” Federated Farmers resource management act spokesperson Karen Williams says.

Environment Minister David Parker has announced his intention to replace the RMA with three new pieces of legislation before the end of this Parliamentary term, with a special select committee looking at a draft of the main Bill by the middle of this year.

“This gives very little time for the community to absorb, consider and submit on the contents of the Bill,” Karen says. . . 

Holbrook’s Rozzie O’Reilly wins Zanda McDonald Award :

Rozzie O’Reilly, 28, from Holbrook, NSW, has an exciting year ahead of her, after being crowned the 2021 Australian winner of the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award at tonight’s award dinner in Orange, NSW.

As the breeding manager at Australia’s largest prime lamb seedstock business, Lambpro, Ms O’Reilly is responsible for managing the database for over 6000 performance recorded stud ewes, co-ordinating staff and providing numerous client services.

She has a Bachelor of Animal Science and runs a sheep and cattle business on agistment and lease country with her fiancé.

Ms O’Rielly said she was excited by her win and couldn’t wait to use the proceeds from the award to learn about other industries. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/02/2021

Plan for feeding New Zealanders fresh vegetables and fruit needed too :

Horticulture New Zealand is calling on the Government to hurry up protection for highly productive land. 

‘While it’s great that the Government is trying to do something to improve housing supply by making land more available through reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the New Zealanders who will live in those houses will also want fresh vegetables and fruit to eat at appropriate prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Reports that “Urban sprawl looks set to eat up to 31,270ha of Auckland’s most productive land over the next 35 years” (‘Stupid and inconsistent’: Urban sprawl set to swallow 31,000 hectares of prime land, NZHerald, 9 February 2021) make distressing and dispiriting reading. 

‘Part of New Zealand’s overall plan to house people and respond to climate change needs to be a plan to feed people fresh, healthy locally-grown vegetables and fruit, at appropriate prices.  . . 

Why our dairy farmers should take their own climate-change initiatives rather than wait for govt regulations – Point of Order:

Is the  Climate Change Commission’s draft proposals to meet  NZ’s emissions targets  as  radical  as right-wing commentator  Matthew Hooton contends, or entirely “doable”  as  leftie Simon Wilson  suggests?

The  draft budgets call on  the government to ensure  the  country emits on average 5.6% less than it did  in 2018 every year  between 2022 and 2025, 14.7% less for every year between 2026 and 2030  and 20.9% less  for every year between 2031 and 2035.  This is designed to get NZ to  zero net carbon emissions  by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Prime Minister  Jacinda  Ardern, who has said dealing with climate change  is her government’s “nuclear  free moment”,  says she will introduce new policies  and a  new international climate target to meet the shrinking carbon budgets set out by the CCC. . . 

Half a billion babies – Gerard Hutching:

Artificial Breeding (AB) technician Dirk van de Ven has an enviable lifestyle.

For about three months of the year the Winton, Southland, man works as an AB technician, earning enough to see him and wife Mieke through the year, albeit with odd jobs supplementing his main income.

“Then I do a little hoof trimming, gardening, walks, get firewood – it all keeps me fit. We work very hard for three months, then do a few little jobs,” Dirk says. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours. . .

Social media could be boosting sales of exotic kiwano fruit from Te Puke – Karoline Tuckey:

Somewhere just outside Te Puke, fields of strange alien-like vines are unfurling their tendrils, and growing large egg-like mottled golden fruits, covered in sharp spikes – and US buyers can’t get enough.

The bizarre harvest is Enzed Exotics’ kiwano crop, which pickers began collecting from the vines last week.

Owner Renee Hutchings said kiwano are horned melons – a type of African cucumber.

She has about 11 hectares planted with 60,000 vines this season. They normally produce about 30,000 trays or 135 tonnes of fruit, mostly for export. . . 

Far North farmers desperate for rain :

Farmers in the Far North are nervously awaiting some rain as dry weather intensifies in the region.

NIWA reports parts of the district are in severe meteorological drought and the region’s farming leaders are meeting this week to discuss what could happen next.

Northland Rural Support Trust chair Chris Neill said the extremely dry conditions in some areas was partly a carryover from last year’s drought.

“We are collecting information from our contacts across the region so we get a much clearer localised view of it,” Neill said. . . 


Rural round-up

11/02/2021

Southland farmers nervous about proposed 15 percent livestock reduction – Logan Savory:

Southland farmers are wary about what impact a reduction of livestock numbers will mean for the agriculture sector in the south.

A Climate Change Commission report has been released which outlines the draft plan to cut New Zealand’s emissions.

Included in the draft plan was the national reduction of livestock by 15 percent by 2030. Exactly how that reduction will be rolled out is not clear.

Paul Turner, who farms between Wreys Bush and Mossburn, when asked, for an example, what a 15 percent reduction might mean on his farm, he replied it would mean losing about 300 cows, which in turn would see about $1m drop out of the economy. . . 

Climate focus highlights the need for water – Vanessa Winning:

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . .

From The Ridge: you don’t get something for nothing – Steve Wyn-Harris:

We had a mini heatwave like many of you last week.

Over a few days, temperatures sneaked into the low 30s and working in the afternoon heat felt like you were in a furnace.

My thermometers are in well-shaded spots, so I’m doubtful about the claims of 40C from near here.

However, I do know that some of you had official recordings in the high 30s, so I guess I have little to complain about.

I made sure I drank plenty of water as I toiled in the afternoon sun, but it was surprising how thirsty I still was in the evenings and despite topping up, the body sucked it up, as little piddling was going on. . . 

Sheep milking to be showcased :

Matt and Tracey Jones will display their sheep milking operation tomorrow at Strathclyde Stud, in an open day event at Kirwee.

Sheep Milk New Zealand will join with the Joneses in running the open day at Tuscany Downs on West Coast Road, from 1pm.

There will also be industry speakers — able to highlight an industry capable of generating $250million in sheep milk export products by 2024, and which is already generating profitability for farmers in the North Island — and sheep milking demonstrations on show.

The Joneses started farming East Friesians in 2011 and established Strathclyde Stud in 2012, after a career in traditional sheep farming practices. . . 

Smash – dairy workshops for everyone – Yvonne O’Hara:

Smash is holding its first workshop in the southern region.

Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (Smash) was originally formed for farmers “at the smaller end of things”, with about 300 cows or fewer, organiser Will Rolton said.

However, the information delivered at its workshops was often also relevant to those with larger herds and all dairy farm owners, sharemilkers and contract milkers were welcome to attend the free workshops. . .

Chatham High School welcomes rare Tarentaise cattle – Lucy Kinbacher:

A Taree agriculture teacher is not only excelling in the classroom but becoming a key figure in keeping a number of near extinct cattle breeds alive.

Yan Kleynhans of Chatham High School has a strong passion for rare domesticated animals and recently managed to secure seven of the last 14 known Tarentaise cattle in the country for his crop of enthusiastic students.

The Tarentaise will join a Drakensberger heifer (also one of a handful left in the country), five Limousins and commercial cattle that run across the school property and another 141 hectares (350 acres) of agistment. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/02/2021

Pandemic disruption highlights challenges looming for farming – Anna Campbell:

Walk into any New Zealand supermarket and life feels pretty normal. The shelves are filled with staples of bread and toilet paper and there is the usual melee of highly packed and processed products vying for attention.

Normality, though, hides the continued disruption many New Zealand food producers and manufacturers face as they experience delays in ingredient and product transport and associated increasing costs.

I have heard of New Zealand companies bringing more of their production processes back on-shore in an effort to mitigate supply chain uncertainty, and many companies are having to buy ingredients in large amounts, at increased costs, to ensure continued supply.

Internationally, food access continues to cause major problems. . . 

Pick Nelson campaign calls on Kiwis to help out with the summer harvest – Tim Newman:

A new campaign is calling on Kiwis to head to Nelson to fill the hundreds of jobs available for the summer harvest in the region.

The Pick Nelson Tasman campaign was launched by Project Kōkiri this week, part of a collaboration between local government, iwi, and business organisations to respond to the economic fallout of Covid-19.

Project Kōkiri spokesman Johny O’Donnell said while the region was renowned for growing some of the world’s best produce, some estimates suggested Nelson/Tasman’s horticulture industry was facing a shortfall of more than 1600 workers.

“These jobs used to be primarily filled by travellers and international workers, but while our borders remain closed there’s a big shortage of staff. . . 

 

Cheese nomenclature in spotlight – Ashley Smyth:

Does a feta by any other name taste as good?

This is the conundrum facing New Zealand cheesemakers, who may have to change the names of some of their cheese varieties, if the European Union (EU) gets its way.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association spokesman and Whitestone Cheese managing director Simon Berry said the topic has come about because of Brexit, and the EU opening up for trade negotiations with “the world”.

“So now our trade ministers are meeting with the UK as well as the EU, and the EU has turned around and said ‘OK, if we’re renegotiating, we now want to protect these names’ . . . and they’ve come out with a list,” Mr Berry said. . .

Repairs connect lavender farm with the world – Rebecca Ryan:

When you live in Danseys Pass, you have to be prepared for anything and take whatever happens on the chin, Jo and Barry Todd say.

After flooding closed Danseys Pass Rd for almost a month at the peak of the lavender season, Mr and Mrs Todd were pleased to finally be able to welcome visitors back to their lavender farm and shop this week. The Waitaki District Council reopened the road on Monday.

The couple started Danseys Pass Lavender on their 4ha property in 2009 and had seen it all living in remote North Otago; they had been snowed in, and flooding had taken out bridges on either side of their home in previous years.

They did not get too stressed about having no customers for almost a month — they had started the business as a way to keep busy as they reached retirement age. . . 

Easing into vineyard ownership – Ashley Smyth:

Kurow is a familiar stomping ground for Alisa Nicholls, but she and husband Paul are venturing into unfamiliar territory by taking the reigns at River-T Estate.

“It’s a completely new industry for us. We’re just sort of taking it all in,” Mrs Nicholls said last week.

The pair took over the vineyard and cellar door from the original owners, Karen and Murray Turner, on January 21 and are easing themselves into their new lifestyle.

“We’re really lucky Karen and Murray are sticking around until February 8, so we’re just sort of learning from them, which is great … they’ve been very helpful.” . . 

Regional Australia ‘should not pay bill for climate target’  – John Ellicott:

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has backed his Nationals leader, saying agriculture had already done much of the heavy lifting on limiting carbon pollution and should not be hit in any future climate target process.

On the weekend Nationals leader Michael McCormack said Australia should follow New Zealand and cut agriculture from any possible 2050 zero emissions taxes or penalties as this would hurt regional Australian communities.

Any move forward to control carbon pollution had to be done through technology advances, he said.

“Well what we need to make sure is that we don’t disproportionately affect regional Australia,” he told Sky News. . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2021

Environmental reforms putting more pressure on struggling farmers – Nadine Porter:

More mental health resources and shorter waiting times to access help will be needed to support dairy farmers trying to follow proposed new environmental rules, industry advocates say.

Rural Support Trust Mid-Canterbury wellbeing co-ordinator Frances Beeston said there had been at least a 30 per cent rise in farmers seeking support since Christmas, and she believed that would increase further as more environmental reforms were introduced.

The Climate Change Commission released a draft plan last week designed to help the Government meet its promise of reaching net zero emissions of long-lived gases by 2050, and reducing biogenic methane emissions by 24 to 47 per cent by 2050.

The plan noted current policies would lead to an 8 to 10 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s livestock numbers, but said a 15 per cent drop would be needed to meet the Government’s targets. . . 

More trees less stock – Peter Burke:

More science and technology, more trees and fewer livestock is the prescription that the Climate Change Commission has offered up in its draft report on how to reduce greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector.

The report covers all aspects of New Zealand society and includes agriculture. In the 200 page chronicle, the Climate Commission sets out a plan for NZ to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.

It is a draft report, based on the commission’s own research and submissions from a wide range of organisations and individuals. It is now out for consultation before a final report is prepared by the end of May.

Commission chair Rod Carr says to achieve the Government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, there needs to be transformational and lasting change across society and the economy. He says the Government must act now and pick up the pace. . .

Will wool go the way of whalers? -Pete Fitz-Herbert:

“Being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.”

That comment from Climate Commission chair Rod Carr about New Zealand’s low-emission beef and dairy production, has Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about the future of the wool industry:

In the future – will farmers be seen as whalers are now?

How long, before the last whale was harpooned off the coast, was the writing on the wall that it wasn’t the career choice that it once was? . . 

Why you should eat your heart out for ‘Organuary’ – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Encouraging people to eat more animal organs for Organuary may seem like a light-hearted response to the vegan movement, but research shows it could reduce greenhouse gases, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Eating the heart of your enemy might seem a bit extreme these days but in the past it was an acceptable part of a surprising number of cultures – surprising until one considers food scarcity, that is.

Eating whatever was available was a matter of expediency and the lore that arose around what each part of the body signified shows an early awareness of basic function.

Eating the brain and tongue gave knowledge and bravery; the heart gave courage and power. . . 

MBIE funds hemp research :

A Taranaki-based medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp venture is part of a group that will investigate ways to turn hemp seed hulls into products for the global market. Greenfern Industries is part of a partnership that was awarded $145,000 in cash and in-kind funding for research into products created from the by-products of hemp seed oil processing. Greenfern will work alongside industry partners Callaghan Innovation and Hemp Connect as part of the project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA).

BPA invests in research and development projects with the aim of generating additional export revenue for New Zealand by working with the primary sector to get better value out of biological by-products.

Boarding school parents sick of borders closing ‘at the drop of a hat’ – Jamieson Murphy:

THE parents of interstate boarding school students are constantly worried that when they drop their children off at school, they may not be able to get home, with state borders slamming shut “at the drop of a hat”.

The Isolated Children’s Parents Association has called for a nationally consistent and long-term approach to border restrictions for boarding students.

ICPA president Alana Moller said while urban schools were closed for weeks during COVID outbreaks, many rural students were not able to return to their boarding school for months, even several terms due to border closures.

“Students from western NSW who board in Victoria weren’t able to go, because they weren’t sure if they could come back,” Ms Moller said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/02/2021

Climate focus highlights need for water storage – Vanessa Winning :

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . . 

Climate hurdle a high bar for farmers – Tom O’Connor:

Farmers in Waikato and across the country are to be commended for their courage in facing up to what they rightly say are the daunting changes ahead them following a report by the Climate Change Commission.

The 800-page report is wide-sweeping, thorough, challenging, hugely ambitious and more than a little frightening for those locked into our extensive agricultural industry and those in wide-spread supporting industries.

In a first draft of the report, dealing with carbon budgets, released last week, the commission has suggested that dairy, sheep and beef cattle numbers must be reduced by 15 per cent by the end of the decade. That is a very short time frame for such a major change and some probably won’t make it.

Fortunately, we seemed to have passed through the phase of blind opposition to the concept of climate change. For about thirty years a number of sceptics challenged almost every scientist who presented evidence of climate change or predicted what climate change would do. . . 

Exports remain strong – Neal Wallace and Gerald PIddock:

Farm gate prices for New Zealand dairy and meat exports have defied economic fallout from the global pandemic and are trading at above long-term averages.

Demand from China and Asian economies emerging from the covid-19 pandemic are underpinning the buoyant prices, but there are warnings a strengthening exchange rate and prolonged supply chain disruption will put pressure on returns.

Fonterra this week lifted its farm gate milk price guidance range from $6.90 to $7.50kg/MS, up from $5.90 to $6.90 at the start of the season, potentially making this the second consecutive year of a $7-plus milk price. . . 

The dream team: Jess, David and Bronwyn Hill :

A Raglan dairy farming family set up a wee milk bottling plant three years ago.

Then, the Hill family produced 30 litres of drinking milk a week and delivered it to local customers. Now they bottle and deliver 5000 litres – in one-litre bottles – from the west coast to the east coast.

Their website has a rolling tally of the number of plastic milk bottles they’ve saved from re-cycling or landfill – over 150,000  and counting.

Jess Hill says customers are loving the glass bottles and the fact they’re supporting a local enterprise.   . . 

Mustering at Molesworth – Sally Round:

It’s an early start for the musterers at Molesworth Station. The bulls are out with the cows for the mating season and the stockmen need to beat the heat. Country Life producer Sally Round spent a day with the musterers, the farmer and the cook, peeling back some of the mystique of New Zealand’s most famous farm.

Duncan, Connell, Josh and Liam  are up before the birds.

Head torches on, they catch their horses before tucking into a pile of bacon and eggs in the kitchen at Tarndale.

The homestead there is one of Molesworth Station’s far-flung camps where the musterers can have a feed and bed down for the night while working on the furthest reaches of the 180,470-hectare property.

Molesworth, in the backcountry of Marlborough, has a mystique and mana which few other high country farms can match. . . 

 

Are cows accelerating climate change? – Stu McNish:

Cows have rapidly moved into the crosshairs of climate change and diet. But Frank M. Mitloehner of University of California, Davis says much – if not most – of what you think you know about ruminants and climate change is inaccurate.

His findings align with those of climate scientist Myles Allen, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor and Oxford professor who says the global warming carbon equivalency formula commonly applied to livestock is incorrect.

Both Mitloehner and Allen point to the impact a stable or declining herd has on methane production. Add in improving dietary and animal husbandry practices, along with methane-capturing systems, and the picture for livestock farms in northern hemisphere countries is positive. . . 


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