Rural round-up

September 22, 2017

Water tax ‘not about bottlers’ – they’d pay less than 3 per cent, says IrrigationNZ:

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern should not answer questions about the party’s proposed water tax by saying it’s about targeting water bottlers, says IrrigationNZ.

When Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was asked in last night’s TVNZ Leader’s Debate whether rural New Zealand had got offside with her over Labour’s proposed water tax, particularly the farming community, Ms Ardern answered: ‘No. I targeted water bottlers. . . I targeted water bottlers as that’s something New Zealanders wanted, for them to pay their fair share.” . .

Farmers should know they are still appreciated:

Rural New Zealand can easily feel ignored or misunderstood in political discussion these days.

Though this has been a predominantly urban country for many generations now, it is perhaps only in the last two generations that most New Zealanders were not familiar with farming life.

Previously, most would have had a family connection with farming and in many cases personal childhood experience of living on or near farms. So it is no wonder that the Labour Party’s proposals to tax farmers for river pollution and climate change should produce the demonstration in Morrinsville on Monday. . . .

Farmers must have say on water tax – Pam Tipa:

The Labour Party’s water tax policy is “pretty short on details,” and the farming sector needs to have input into a final plan, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons.
“If Labour is in government we would want to work with them to work out how we could best deliver on swimmable rivers, while making sure we don’t ‘crucify’ the primary sector at the same time.”

Parsons says Labour leader Jacinda Ardern had been clear that the party would not lay out all the detail until a decent conversation had been held with those who would be affected if they were in government. . . 

Six months has transformed farming country in once drought-stricken North Canterbury – Pat Deavoll:

What a difference six months has made to North Canterbury, which this time last year was still embroiled in drought.

Regular rainfalls since May have turned brown paddocks green, and farmers moods swing from despondent to optimistic about the summer ahead.

Will Wilding of Te Mania Angus stud at Conway Flat, said he was having “the best spring in a long time.” after three years of drought. . .

DCANZ, DairyNZ and MPI endorse Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam: 

DairyNZ, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have today endorsed the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, marking New Zealand’s commitment towards global sustainable dairy development.

The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam signals both a commitment towards feeding the world with safe and sustainable products, and enhancing sustainability. . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards a boost for work in progress kiwifruit orchard:

Entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards encouraged Whakatane kiwifruit growers Iain and Leanne Blackwood to “sharpen their game”.

The couple both work full time on their 7.95ha orchard, which includes 4ha of SunGold, 0.61ha of Sweet Green (G14) and 3.3ha of Hayward Green.

“We entered after talking to our neighbour’s daughter, who worked for Zespri, encouraged us to have a go,” Iain says.

The Blackwoods were still developing the golden kiwifruit when they were judged. . .

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Rural round-up

September 21, 2017

Bronwyn Muir replies to Rachel Stewart:

Dear Rachel,

I don’t really have the time to write this as busy running some rural businesses but here goes….

You probably don’t remember me – I held the Taranaki FFNZ Presidents position for nearly 4 years and sat in the wings biting my tongue while you ran off at the mouth / pen and tried to hold Feds and farmers to ransom time and time again.

Well I don’t hold the position anymore and have had enough of your tripe and personal attacks to put it politely – there is too much at stake for all New Zealanders right at this point! . .

QR code to prove SFF product origin:

Dunedin meat processor Silver Fern Farms is introducing new retail packaging in New Zealand and overseas, to allow consumers better access to proof of origin of the product.

Chief executive Dean Hamilton said the investment in traceability would support the growth of the company’s Silver Fern Farms branded products.

“We want to deliver transparency in the food chain for our consumers who are increasingly interested in knowing where their food has come from and that their food has been produced safely, with care and in a sustainable way.” . . 

First-time environment award entrants encourage others to put their hands up

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards has been a great learning and development experience for new Kaitaia farmers Gay Pembroke and Mark Corby.

“The past 12 months have been great fun. It was a wonderful experience and I think entering the awards and being involved in the process has given us a lot more confidence that what we are doing is on track,” Gay says.

The couple have owned their 102ha dairy support/beef block at Kaitaia for the past three years. Neither Gay nor Mark are from a farming background, and the change that they made in their lives from 4ha to 102ha was exciting but massive. . . 

The time is ripe to transform agriculture and feed the world :

Political and agricultural leaders gathered at the University of Illinois today to see transformative work by Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) that has increased yields by 20 percent.

The research project announced that it will continue work to address the global food challenge with the support of a $45 million, five-year reinvestment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), and the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID)..

The great GMO freak-out expose – Lenore Skenazy:

It all began when a neighbor of filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s sent a text asking if she could borrow some organic milk.

Kennedy texted back, “You can borrow some milk, but I don’t have organic.”

The friend politely declined, which set Kennedy to thinking. His family drank conventional milk. Did that make him a dad who didn’t care about his kids’ safety, or the environment?

That would be odd, since he was nominated for an Oscar for his film about a community garden blooming in South-Central Los Angeles. .

Hurricane Irma wiped out half of Florida’s citrus crop –Kate Yoder:

The Sunshine State expected to harvest 75 million boxes of oranges this year. That number is looking decidedly slimmer after Irma knocked fruit off trees, flooded fields and groves, and broke irrigation pipes.

The hurricane took out an estimated 50 percent of the season’s citrus crop statewide, USA Today reports. Based on reports from the field, losses may be even higher in South Florida. . .


Water tax by the numbers

September 21, 2017

When policy is based on politics rather than logic it’s difficult to work out the cost, but IrrigtionNZ has done the numbers for the water tax:

Recent attempts to estimate the cost of Labour’s proposed water tax to farmers have demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of how irrigation works, says nonprofit membership body IrrigationNZ.

This issue, which is compounded by a lack of detail from Labour about how the tax would be applied, has resulted in some widely varying estimates. Radio New Zealand’s ‘Fact or Fiction’ series calculated the cost for irrigated farms at $13,800 a year, whereas figures from DairyNZ have estimated a figure of $45,000 a year.

On top of this, yesterday Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ there are 12,000 farms in New Zealand and 2,000 of them have irrigation. In fact according to Statistics NZ and the 2012 Agricultural Census there are 58,071 farms in NZ and 10,500 have consent for irrigation. Irrigation NZ estimates the number of irrigated farms is now at around 11,000.

‘The public will rightly be confused by these very different figures,’ says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. ‘But the lack of detail on how Labour would apply a water tax compounded with the sheer number of variables between farms – for example their size, what they produce, and how dry the region is, makes it hard to estimate with accuracy. While recent coverage has focused on the impact on dairy farms – just over half of our irrigated farms are not used for dairy – but for sheep or beef, arable farming, horticulture or vineyards. These farmers and growers will also pay the tax.”

IrrigationNZ has spent the last decade developing a comprehensive suite of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and knowledge resources on irrigation, and now run over 50 training courses a year nationally. IrrigationNZ’s main focus is providing knowledge and training to help irrigators achieve ‘excellence in irrigation.

‘Our figures, based on the average irrigated farm in Canterbury of 220 hectares, show an actual average cost of $24,000 to $29,000 a year (at 2 cents per 1000 litres). We’ve used Canterbury figures because there is no national average figure available for the size of an irrigated farm – but there is for Canterbury, where 60 per cent of irrigated land is.’

‘When this additional cost is put in context of the profit generated by a family farming business – it will create a significant impact, particularly for sheep and beef, arable and vegetable farmers who have reasonably tight operating margins.”

Mr Curtis adds that there will be larger farms and those farmers operating in drier climates who will be facing significantly higher bills of $40,000 to $50,000 or more.

Will non-irrigated farms pay?

While both Radio New Zealand and DairyNZ calculated water tax costs for non-irrigated farms, it remains unclear whether these farms would be paying the tax as it is unclear whether they would qualify as ‘large commercial users of water’. The only users mentioned by Labour are water bottlers and irrigators.

6% of New Zealand farms are irrigated (around 11,000 farms). Regardless of whether other farms may pay some of the tax costs, the majority of the tax will fall on a small subset of farmers.

Calculating a water tax on irrigated farms – key variables:

Type of farming – from dairy, to sheep, arable, or horticulture (DairyNZ’s figures were for dairy farms)
Size of farm
Amount of rainfall
Actual water use vs consented take
Number of days irrigation water is applied
The cost of the tax.
IrrigationNZ has been surprised by the growing number of irrigation experts in NZ.

‘Academics, economists and organisations that wouldn’t have the knowledge to turn on an irrigator are all offering their expert opinions on the cost of a water tax. Anyone talking about the potential cost of a water tax must have some basic understanding of water use by irrigators and not everyone offering an opinion currently seems to have that,” says Andrew Curtis.

‘We’d be happy to run a special course for the growing list of water tax experts – to help people to brush-up on their irrigation knowledge and assumptions.’

Calculating irrigation water use – the backbround

Before entering into the ‘how much will irrigators pay’ debate some basic knowledge of water use by irrigators is required.

‘The key piece of information is 1 mm of rainfall (noting rainfall is measured in millimetres not millilitres) falling over 1 hectare is equivalent to 10m3 which is equivalent to 10,000 litres). This provides some context around the sensationalist numbers being used by some parties around irrigation water use,’ says Andrew Curtis.

“For example over the Canterbury region (4.5 million hectares) an annual rainfall of just under 1,650mm or 74 trillion litres falls. However, we all know this isn’t distributed evenly and that’s why we need to irrigate – to provide additional rain for a crop to grow during dry periods. Under 500 mm falls at the coast, rising to 1,000 mm in the foothills and well over 2,000 mm in the mountains.”

For the 500,000 ha of irrigation in Canterbury (based on a seasonal allocation of 550 mm which is explained below) this means the maximum use for irrigation is 4.5 trillion litres or 6% of the annual rainfall.

“It is important to realise irrigators must hold a consent to take water for irrigation, and this contains a seasonal allocation expressed as a volume in m3. This volume is the maximum amount of water an irrigator is allowed to take and based on 80% application efficiency (the agreed industry standard) and 90% supply reliability,” says Mr Curtis.

Councils use a water allocation tool, such as Irricalc (http://irrigationnz.co.nz/practical-resources/irrigation-development/water-allocation-calculator/) to calculate a farms seasonal irrigation allocation requirements. These tools are based on a daily time step water balance model that uses the local climate and the farms soil water holding properties.

“However, when we case study an individual farm we always base it on the seasonal volume written on their consent – as this is the most likely method through which a water tax charge will be calculated,” says Mr Curtis.

David Clark gives the impact the tax will have on his cropping farm:

 


Rural-round-up

September 20, 2017

Concerned’ over water policy – Daniel Birchfield:

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) believes Labour’s water policy could lead to a growing rural-urban divide and the loss of millions of dollars from the Waitaki and Waimate districts.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher has also let rip at the policy, claiming Waitaki irrigators could lose $25 million to $40 million if there is a change of government on September 23. . .

Embracing old and new:

A North Otago sheep farm uses a mixture of the old-fashioned and new-fangled at lambing time.

Creedmoor is a 50ha block of rolling land at Incholme, west of Oamaru. Owners Julian and Sharyn Price also lease a neighbouring 20ha.

The couple have become lamb whisperers, breeding composite ewes with quiet temperaments that are not fazed by their human handlers in their midst.

Flightiness has been culled out, along with dags.

The Prices call their flock Creedmoor Supersheep – a moniker endorsed by their records. Since 2006 they have exceeded a 200% lambing rate and last year 25% of their surplus lambs were killed at three months. . . 

Tasty bait balls used to poison wallabies:

Waimate’s wily pests are about to be tempted with lethal treats

Green balls flavoured with peanut butter are being placed on stakes in remote Mackenzie district hill country, where they are likely to appeal to the Bennett’s wallaby population. The third batch, following two deliveries of non-toxic balls about a week apart, will contain cyanide that produces a quick death after being eaten by the marsupials.

The project is part of Environment Canterbury’s biosecurity work to reduce pest numbers. . .

Chopping out a career in the mostly male world of butchery – Christina Persico:

Think of a butcher and you generally think of a man – but Kayla Scott thinks it’s a job for anyone.

The 21-year-old is an apprentice at the Kiwi Butcher Shop in New Plymouth, where she has worked on and off for five years.

“It’s quite a full on, energetic kind of job…There’s never a dull moment,” she says.

“It’s usually more challenging because you don’t want it to be labelled as a male’s job, because anyone can do it.

“It is quite tricky trying not to be like, ‘I’m in a male’s job’.” . . .

First crop at New Zealand School of Winegrowing picked and ready – Oliver Lewis:

The first crop of students have signed up to the New Zealand School of Winegrowing, which had its official launch in Blenheim on Wednesday night.

The school, the first of its kind in New Zealand, was set up by Marlborough Boys’ and Marlborough Girls’ colleges with assistance from the wine industry.

About 40 people attended the launch event, which Boys’ College assistant principal James Ryan described as an opportunity to promote the school. . .

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I’ve got mud in my blood.


Rural round-up

September 19, 2017

Guiney misses out on selection – Hugh Stringleman:

One long-serving director and two newcomers are the preferred candidates for three Fonterra board seats this year leaving sitting board member Leonie Guiney out in the cold.

They were former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman and nine-year director John Monaghan, of Wairarapa, former Deer Industry New Zealand chairman and farm consultant Andy Macfarlane of Mid-Canterbury and PWC partner and National Fieldays Society board member Brent Goldsack, of Waikato.

The three were named as independent nomination process candidates for three vacancies among seven farmer-director seats on the Fonterra board. . .

Palmerston North farmer Peter Bills owns more machines than most – Samantha Tennent:

Not many contractors or services agents come through the gate of Te Rata Farm at Linton, owned by Peter and Kim Bills. The Bills try to be as self-sufficient as possible across their business.

The Bills run a pretty taut ship, keeping costs down by doing all their own cultivation, mowing and bailing. They admit they own more gear than the average 260-cow farm; almost the only piece of equipment they don’t have is a harvester.

“It keeps costs down for us but more importantly we aren’t relying on a contractor to get the work done. . .

Weather hits somber pea growers – Annette Scott:

There’s been no compensation for Wairarapa pea growers heading into their second season of a two-year pea moratorium.

And on top of wet weather that meant they could not get crops in the ground put farmers in a pretty sombre mood, Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams said.

Williams, the 2017 Biosecurity Farmer of the Year, was an integral part of the grower group working alongside farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries in the pea weevil response. . .

Restrictions lifted on feijoas in Taranaki after being cleared of myrtle rust threat – Gerald Piddock:

Feijoa lovers can breathe a sigh of relief after ministry officials put the plant in the low risk category for infection from myrtle rust.

Growers will also be relieved after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted restrictions for moving feijoa plants in and out of Taranaki after it concluded there was little risk of them spreading myrtle rust.

Since myrtle rust was found in New Zealand earlier this year, there had not been a single feijoa plant found with the infection, the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated said in a statement. . .

From milk to medicine with DFE Pharma – a farmer’s journey from Taranaki to Europe:

Under the mountain in Kapuni, Taranaki, our farmers’ milk is being made into something pretty remarkable.

Our Kapuni site focuses on producing pharmaceutical lactose, a key ingredient in inhalers helping people around the world manage their asthma.

The lactose we make at Kapuni is the most pure lactose you can make in the world. And in short, gets the medicine in powder inhalers to where it’s needed – the lungs. . . 


Rural round-up

September 18, 2017

DairyNZ slams farm tax proposals – Hugh Stringleman:

All of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy farms face an average $18,000-a-year additional taxes under the carbon and nitrogen taxes proposed by the Green Party, DairyNZ has calculated.

Add in the Labour Party’s proposed water tax and those 2000 farms that also irrigate face more than three times the impost, an average of $63,000 per farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said details on the proposed new taxes were sketchy, but his economists used what was available from Labour and the Greens to come up with the figures. . .

Sell-off surprise – Alan Williams:

A process for the surprise sale of most Landcorp farms to young people will start very quickly if National is re-elected, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Landcorp was unaware of the plan till told just before it was announced.

He hoped to have several farms leased to young farmers during the next term.

That would be the first step towards them buying the farms over the next five to 10 years. . . 

From milk to advanced medical nutrition – a farmer’s journey from Southland to Toronto:

Dylan Davidson was a passenger in a car when the driver lost control after a deer ran out. The car rolled and left Dylan with two broken vertebrae in his back and several other injuries. Dylan lost a lot of weight from being in a coma for three weeks, and Dylan’s parents, Paul and Carol Davidson, said the Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) from Fonterra farmers’ milk played a key part in the healing process. The value of milk protein in human nutrition and muscle recovery has been well known for many years – but, as delicious as milk is, it takes litres of whole milk to do what a small amount of milk protein concentrate (MPC) can. . .

Florida’s Farmers Look At Irma’s Damage: ‘Probably The Worst We’ve Seen’ – Dan Charles:

When the worst of Irma’s fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida’s extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country’s biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. “The eyewall came right over our main production area,” McAvoy says.

The groves of orange and grapefruit were approaching harvest. But after Irma blew through, it left “50 or 60 percent of the fruit lying in water [or] on the ground,” says McAvoy. Many trees were standing in water, a mortal danger if their roots stay submerged for longer than three or four days. . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals. . . 

 


Facts on water tax

September 18, 2017

What will the water tax cost?

It depends.

Businesses, like Coca Cola, which take water from council supplies won’t pay anything.

Food producers which don’t irrigate won’t pay anything.

Farms, orchards and market gardens which do irrigate will pay and the dryer the year, when other costs rise too, the more they’ll pay.

David Clark gives the facts on what he’ll have to pay if Labour is in government ant imposes the water tax:

Today farmers will be marching in Morrinsville to protest against the tax.

I hope they stick to the facts.

There are enough of them to win the argument with anyone prepared to listen properly.


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