Rural round-up


Why farmers are like the All Blacks – Jacqueline Rowarth :

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth agrees with National leader Christopher Luxon’s recent statement that New Zealanders should back farmers the same way they back the All Blacks.

Farmers, the foundation of the economy, the contributors to the kiwi way of life in many more ways than one, and the producers of food and fibre – are under attack whatever they do.

Or so it seems.

The latest is the research implying that they “do the right thing” where people can see the effects… but not so much where the effects are not visible. . . 

Cyclone-struck Waipukurau farmer gets surprise offer from the South Island – Dan Hutchinson :

They say one good deed deserves another.

The thing is, Waipukurau farmer Di Murphy had long since forgotten about the donation of hay she made to a drought-stricken North Canterbury farmer more than 30 years ago.

It was 1992 and Hawke’s Bay truck driver, owner and operator Kevin Isaacson was planning a mercy dash to the South Island with a few loads of hay to help ease the drought.

“He was a lovely man. He was very much a solo driver. Had a truck and trailer. He contacted me. He said he was going to take a load of hay down to those poor unfortunates, have you got any?” . . .

Fonterra completes divestment of Chile business:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its Chilean Soprole business to Gloria Foods – JORB S.A. (Gloria Foods).

When announced in November 2022, the sale was subject to a number of conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and commencement of an irrevocable public tender offer process in Chile for the outstanding shares in Soprole not already owned by Fonterra.

Fonterra is pleased to confirm that these conditions have now been satisfied.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the divestment is a significant milestone in the implementation of Fonterra’s strategy and allows the Co-op to reduce debt and return around 50 cents per share and unit, which is approximately NZ$800 million, to farmer owners and unit holders as previously announced. 

Global passion for avocados celebrated at record breaking event :

The world’s all-consuming love affair with avocados shows no signs of slowing down with record numbers set to attend a global industry congress in Auckland next week.

The 10th World Avocado Congress is expected to attract the single largest international delegation to a horticulture event held in Aotearoa New Zealand with more than 1,100 attendees from 32 countries joining key representatives from our local avocado industry for a packed programme of activities.

Jen Scoular, President of the World Avocado Congress Committee and CEO of New Zealand Avocado, says the Congress offers an unprecedented opportunity to promote our local avocado industry to the world.

“Though we only produce about 2 percent of the global avocado supply and we’re the ninth largest avocado exporter in the world, avocados are Aotearoa’s third largest horticulture export behind kiwifruit and apples. We play a significant part in the country’s horticulture industry, and we’re excited to have this showcased to a global audience,” says Scoular. . . 

Silver Fern Farms annual results 2022 positive performance allows for large-scale investment :

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, have today released their Annual Results for the 2022 year.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chair, Rob Hewett, says the positive result reflects the business’s ongoing orientation towards the end consumer, and the Co-operative has been focused on ensuring that farmer suppliers share in the risk and reward of the Operating Company’s market performance.

“The first half of 2022 saw record returns for our farmer suppliers. The Operating Company’s ability to navigate risks in the market better than expected saw us proactively make over $21 million of reward payments to suppliers over and above the record schedule pricing and other payments they received,” says Mr Hewett.

“Silver Fern Farms has continued to grow new value streams for our farmers. Over $10 million of livestock programme premiums were paid out to suppliers across the year – up almost 50 percent on the previous year. Shareholding suppliers are intentionally over-indexed both in terms of involvement in premium programmes and access to processing space,” he says. . .

Exclusive: mass food fraud and safety scandal engulfs sector – Abi Kay :

British farmers are being ripped off by an industrial-scale country-of-origin fraud in a scandal that has engulfed almost the entire food retail sector, as well as some major food service outlets.

An in-depth investigation by Farmers Weekly has revealed that up until at least the end of 2020, a food manufacturer was passing off huge quantities of foreign pork – sometimes tens of thousands of tonnes a week – as British.

The processor, which cannot be named for legal reasons, has also been accused by former employees of regularly “washing” hams that are visibly off, or mixing rotting pork with fresh product for further processing.

Other products such as ox tongues were not heat treated properly, and meat was sometimes thawed out on the factory floor, posing a serious food safety risk. . . .


Rural round-up


GHG just the start for global farm targets – Neal Wallace:

Global greenhouse gas emission reduction targets could be just the first of several goals that producers and processors will have to meet in the coming years.

Rabobank managing board member Berry Marttin told the Farm2Fork forum in Sydney there is a global move to extend targets for water, biodiversity and social standards that consumers will expect producers to meet.

These are being driven by a global group called Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which so far has commitments from 4764 companies, of which 2431 have approved emission reduction targets.

In New Zealand, 29 companies have signed on, six of them rural. They are: Comvita, Fonterra, Silver Fern Farms, Synlait Milk, Timberline Australia and NZ and WoolWorks NZ. . . 

Soaring costs leave apple exporters unlikely to make profit :

For the second year in a row New Zealand apple growers are unlikely to make money from sales in their traditional export markets of Europe and the UK.

Soaring on-orchard costs, high freight charges because of distance to market, coupled with an unwillingness by key European countries to pay more money, is making exporting apples there financially unsustainable.

AgFirst horticulture consultant Ross Wilson said it has always been a challenge being at the bottom of the world, it costs a lot of money to get products shipped to the export destinations.

“That cost in itself does make us a high cost producer,” he said. . .

Feds: more time needed for the Land Use Inquiry to get it right :

With the resignation of Bill Bayfield and now the sacking of Stuart Nash there needs to be an urgent reset of the Ministerial inquiry into land use on the East Coast, Federated Farmers says.

“Forestry slash and other woody debris washed down in Cyclone Gabrielle caused major damage. Communities on the East Coast need to be given the respect they deserve after such a significant event,” Gisborne farmer and Feds Meat & Wool Chair Toby Williams says.

“Finding someone else to sit on the inquiry panel who has the level of experience and skills that Bill Bayfield brought to the table will be very difficult.”

The land use inquiry didn’t get underway until late February and its report is due April 30. Federated Farmers says this ridiculously short time frame needs to be extended so that the issues can be thoroughly considered and all relevant evidence can be collected and analysed. The panel then needs adequate time to consider the recommendations they will present back. . .

The best and worst of humanity – Colin Miller :

The great pics and stories continue as, of course, does the huge cleanup!

I can recommend the video clip farm suppliers Te Pari produced. If you haven’t seen it, it should come up for you if you Google ‘Te Pari Cyclone Video’.

The very best in people has come to light through all this. Total strangers turning up with shovels and wheelbarrows, putting in untold hours of the toil, helping people they had never previously met. We had a group of skilled guys from our area head across to the Hawke’s Bay for several days to assist, mainly with shearing and fencing repairs, I believe.

Aside from all the hands-on stuff, donations, mostly anonymous, have poured in from all over this great country of ours. Even the key farm-staff members, the working dogs, have not been forgotten, with dog tucker included with the donated support! . .

Aotearoa’s top cheeses named in 20th year of NZ Champions of Cheese Awards :

The country’s top cheeses have been recognised with 162 receiving medals following the 20th year of judging for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

Medals are almost equally split with; 57 Gold, 55 Silver and 48 Bronze being awarded following two days of intensive judging at Wintec Te Pūkenga, Rotokauri Campus in early March.

Master Judge, Jason Tarrant, presided over the panel of 30 judges who came from throughout New Zealand and Australia. Judges are a mix of cheesemakers, cheese retailers, food technologists and food writers who sniffed, tasted a range of New Zealand-made cheese across 20 categories including; ewe milk, washed rind, blue cheese, Dutch style, fresh Italian style, Greek-Cypriot style and cheddar. Judges were supported by a further 20 stewards.

Jason Tarrant congratulated all the NZ Champions of Cheese medal winners saying this year’s competition was hotly contested and every medal awarded was hard won after being assessed by the judges who worked in panels of three. . .

Livestock farming mitigates climate change – Redazione :

New studies review emissions calculation and significantly reduce the environmental impacts of Italian farms.

Italian livestock farming contributes to combating global warming and mitigating climate change. This, in summary, is the result of an Italian researchers’ team who recalculated our country’s livestock sector emissions using a new metric proposed by a group of physicists of the Oxford atmosphere and published in Nature.

“The introduction of these new metrics due to the work of the English physicists is destined to change the frame of the debate on the sustainability of the livestock system,” said Giuseppe Pulina, president of Carni Sostenibili. For the first time, the Oxford study considered the difference in action on global warming between short-lived climate pollutants such as methane and long-lived climate pollutants such as carbon dioxide.


 The researchers have observed that if a greenhouse gas remains in the atmosphere for a short time, its effect on global warming is zero. If emissions remain constant every year, they are negative (the atmosphere cools down) if they decrease. This is because reducing its concentration also reduces its contribution to the greenhouse effect. But it is highly heating if emissions increase because this type of gas has a much more greenhouse effect than CO2. The new metrics, therefore, take into account this difference and, in particular, for how long a gas remains in the atmosphere, a substantial difference if we consider that methane after 50 years has practically disappeared, while carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for over a thousand years. . . 

Rural round-up


East Coast farm collapses after carbon group takes over – Aaron Smale :

The Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme incentivises the planting of pine forest. But a company looking to cash in on the scheme has left a farm on the East Coast prone to significant erosion within months of taking over. Aaron Smale reports. 

Satellite images of a former sheep station on the East Coast show a stark difference from surrounding properties after it was sprayed with the intention of planting pine forest to cash in on the government’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The company that bought the farm for $13 million last year is partly owned by Māori Carbon Collective. The company is among a group of companies started under the umbrella company the Māori Carbon Foundation which was launched last year by Sir Mark Solomon, Hone Harawira, Michelle Boag, Murray McCully, Jevan Goulter and Maru Nihoniho. The directors are Sir Mark, Harawira and Nihoniho and one shareholder is listed, John Muru Walters. 

The Māori Carbon Foundation said at the time of its launch that its aim was to plant on 150,000ha as an initial target, which would see 150 million trees planted. The company covers the cost of planting, maintaining and insuring the forest and landowners would receive an even share of profits after seven years when the start-up cost is covered. The intention was to trade the carbon credits generated by the trees. . . 

Greenwashing and the forestry industry in NZ – Dame Anne Salmond

The inquiry into forestry slash destruction in Tairāwhiti, and review of the Emissions Trading Scheme, should prioritise the state of the planet not the balance sheets of global corporations, writes Dame Anne Salmond.

Over the past few weeks, New Zealanders have been exposed to shocking images of local landscapes ravaged by forestry sediment and slash during Cyclone Gabrielle, from Tairāwhiti to Hawke’s Bay.

They’ve heard heart-breaking stories about the suffering and harm inflicted on individuals, families and communities by surges of mud and logs from pine plantations, putting lives at risk, taking out roads and bridges, fences, crops and animals, farm buildings and family homes, choking streams and rivers, and smothering paddocks, vineyards, orchards and beaches.

At the same time, investigative journalists have begun to explore the story of how this has been allowed to happen, in the face of scientific reports over the past 20 years predicting this kind of damage, and the successful prosecutions of forestry companies which include scathing court judgments about their practices. . . 

Lifting red tape Burdon for cyclone hit farms – Simon Edwards :

For cyclone-hit farmers and growers putting in massive hours to get their land and production back into some sort of working order, the last thing they need is to be tied up in the usual resource consent costs and delays. Every dollar is needed to pay for materials, machinery and labour.

That was Federated Farmers’ motivation to write to Environment Minister David Parker earlier this month to ask for suspension of some of that consent red tape, in the same manner as the very successful emergency legislation enacted after the Kaikoura/Hurunui earthquakes.

The Severe Weather Emergency Legislation Act went through the House and select committee in little over two days mid-March. Andrew said the Federation didn’t get everything it sought, “but we persuaded MPs on some important changes and the door is open to further practical measures via a second Bill”. 

The emergency legislation means farmers in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay regions; and the districts of Tararua, Masterton, Carterton, and South Wairarapa can get on with tasks such as correcting waterways, removing silt, clearing debris and creating the conditions for restored access and animal welfare as a permitted activity. Unfortunately – at this stage – Feds’ argument that cyclone-hit farms in Manawatu-Rangitikei should also qualify fell on deaf ears. . . 

Tractor sales: a warning sign for rural recession – Andrew Bevin :

Economists consider sales of tractors and other machinery an economic bellwether, so a big fall is a worrying indicator.

Dropping tractor sales indicate regional economies could be in for a rough ride, as farmers tighten their belt.

Sales of tractors and farm machinery have fallen off significantly from 2022 highs, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association.

Since the start of 2023, the number of tractors sold was down by a quarter, with notable drops in the horticulture, dairying and lifestyle markets. . . 

Southland dairy farmer crowned Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year :

A Southland dairy farmer has been crowned the Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year and will compete in the Grand Final in Timaru in July.

Hugh Jackson, 24, was announced as the winner of the Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday evening, after spending the day competing in a range of activities at the Strath Taieri A&P Showgrounds.

The Thornbury Young Farmers member was over the moon to get the win with a 60-point lead. This Regional Final was his fourth attempt at securing a spot at the Grand Final.

“I’ve had a few goes and quickly realised that taking out the win isn’t a given. You have to put in the work, so I’m stoked that my prep this year really paid off.” . . 

Changes to Pāmu governance roles :

Pāmu is excited to announce two new appointments to governance roles at the organisation. Libby Tosswill will join Pāmu as an associate director and observer on its board. The state-owned enterprise has also appointed Jillian Laing to the board of Spring Sheep Milk Co, a public-private partnership company jointly owned by Pāmu and SLC Group.

Pāmu CEO Mark Leslie says Jillian brings expertise in marketing and sales, a global lens and connections, and commerciality in the demand generation space.

“Jillian is an international food marketer. She has been the CEO of a tech start-up and had extensive experience in global sales and marketing while she was at Fonterra. Now in her role with the World Macadamia Organisation, she is across consumer trends and customer insights globally. Jillian brings a new perspective, and we are excited to welcome her into the fold,” he says.

Libby has a Bachelor of Commerce from Otago and a financial markets background in New Zealand as well as internationally. She is heavily involved in local community governance and is currently Chair of the Porangahau Catchment Group – Taurekaitai Ki Te Paerahi, Trustee of Connect Youth and Community Trust, and an elected Trustee of the Central Hawke’s Bay Consumers Power Trust. . . 


Rural round-up


Leadership needed as farming faces hard truths –  Neal Wallace :

The food and agriculture sector needs courageous leaders to shepherd growers and farmers to confront some uncomfortable challenges in the coming decades.

And the sector needs disrupters, people who not only challenge but lead the way in the production of food and fibre, was the message to about 1600 people attending the Rabobank Farm2Fork conference in Sydney on Thursday.

Change is real and driven by consumers and retailers who want products that align with their social as well as environmental values and concerns, the conference heard.

The other take-home message was that help is at hand from technology and processes that already exist or are in the works, including artificial intelligence and data. . . 

We need to edit our response on genetics – Alan Emerson :

The recent release on genetic modification by Te Puna Whakaaronui, the independent government-funded food and fibre think tank, makes interesting reading.

For the record, I’m in favour of genetic modification (GM) and believe we should have adopted the technology a long time ago. It is an indictment on spineless politicians that we haven’t.

I’m aware of the anti-GMO brigade but they use emotion, not science, to advance their cause. I’d describe them as modern day Luddites with about the same irrational arguments that Ned Ludd had way back in the 1800s.

In addition, the plaintive cry that it will harm our country’s image is fallacious. There is no credible research to back that up. . . 

‘Just keep working’ – Sally Rae :

When it comes to the farming sector, Ben Purvis has a pretty good philosophy.

The fifth-generation farmer at Cluden Station, a 10,000ha property at Tarras, acknowledged Government regulations made it harder but “at the end of the day, you just keep working”.

Mr Purvis spent an enjoyable two days at the Wānaka A&P Show, one of the plethora of volunteers that ensure the success of the event.

He and his brother Sam were sheep stewards. Entries in the section were up on the last few years which was encouraging. . . 

Mushrooms sprout new lease on life in remote woolshed – Leah Tebbutt :

Kyle Davey is a man with many hats. He’s been a sheep farmer, a builder, a beekeeper and the local postman.

Two years ago, he decided he needed a winter off – but with all those skills under his belt, it’s no surprise he got bored.

But an idea was sprouting, and by happy coincidence, and eventually some pretty fungi turned into a serious horticultural enterprise.

I thought ‘I’ve got to find something to do while I’m at home,” Kyle says. . . .

Change of guard at Fieldays Society :

The New Zealand National Fieldays Society has elected Waikato farmer and businesswoman Jenni Vernon at their recent Annual General Meeting. Their first female President/Board Chair in the organisation’s 55-year history.

Jenni has held the position of Vice President for the past 3 years, while having been on the board for the past 10 years. Jenni was elected unopposed at the Society’s Annual General Meeting held on March 21.

The role of President/Chair governs the Society which owns and operates Mystery Creek Event Centre and is also the owner of Fieldays•, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event.

Jenni farms a dry stock unit in partnership with her husband Gordon and son Simon, at Te Akatea, in northwest Waikato. Initially training as a teacher, Jenni has spent more than four decades in farming and governance. . . 

The world is coming to us bringing the global avocado community to New Zealand :

This time the world is coming to New Zealand. New Zealand exporters are so used to getting on a long haul flight, lap top in hand, to meet and make new customers, understand the market and promote their product or service.

In just over a week the global avocado business community descends on Aotearoa New Zealand for the 10th World Avocado Congress, hosted here in New Zealand for the very first time.

Eight different fielddays will take 760 delegates to South Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty, to visit orchards and packhouses, to hear science presentations and see New Zealand agritech businesses in operation.

“We are showcasing our wonderful country, our growers, our technology and of course our avocado sector” says Jen Scoular, CEO of New Zealand Avocado and President of the World Avocado Congress Committee. . . 

Women feature strongly at Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards :

The adverse weather challenges that wreaked mayhem and destruction upon Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa earlier this year, combined with other challenges on farm this season such as labour shortages, has severely impacted entrant numbers in the region’s dairy industry awards programme, as several entrants withdrew due to the devastating effects on their properties and families.

Traditionally, when a region has low entrant numbers, places are only offered to winner and runner-up, or just the winner only, and when entrant numbers were very low, the category did not proceed.

However, with entrants wanting to take part in the Awards programme and benefiting from doing so, not allowing them to participate goes against the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ philosophy and what the programme is striving to achieve.

That approach also forces a winner of the category when the entrant may not be ready to progress to Nationals. . . 


Rural round-up


Disaster in waiting warn south’s farmers – Vanessa Bellew:

Cyclone Gabrielle’s hammering of Hawkes Bay has ignited fears in Southland of bridges failing and farmland flooding through “mismanagement” of accumulated gravel

Southland farmer Barry Taylor is frustrated gravel is being allowed to build up beneath a bridge on one of the country’s key tourist routes despite his years of pushing for its removal.

He worries the bridge across the Whitestone River on State Highway 94 between Gore and Milford Sound will fail and flood his farm.

As chair of the Te Anau catchment liaison committee, one of eight in the province, he advises Environment Southland on river works and flood management bordering waterways. . .

Last-minute decision sees cyclone-hit farmer bag regional title – Annette Scott:

Cut off from town on his devastated farm, the regional heats were slipping down the list of priorities for one Pātoka farmer.

With no way out and his farm severely battered by Cyclone Gabrielle, the prospect of making it to the East Coast Young Farmer regional final appeared out of reach for Patrick Crawshaw.

He had a couple of contingency plans to get out to Dannevirke to take his place in the regional contest, but what lay ahead of him on his farm was too daunting to even contemplate going.        

The devastation was acute, with his farm’s recovery cost estimated at this stage to be in the vicinity of $200,000. . .

”Magical spot’ for $25m whisky distillery – Sally Rae:

It is a question Scapegrace Distilling co-founders Daniel Mclaughlin and Mark Neal are often asked — why on earth would they build a $25million distillery “in the middle of nowhere?”

But as soon as Mr Mclaughlin set foot on the hillside above Lake Dunstan, between Cromwell and Tarras, he knew their search for a suitable location was over.

The 36ha site ticked all their boxes; it was on the 45th degree parallel which meant extremes of high and low temperatures which were ideal for ageing whisky, there was access to high quality water, the expansive site enabled the business to grow and it was also “a magical spot”, he recalled yesterday.

Mr Mclaughlin was addressing a gathering at the Scapegrace site, where Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan announced a $2.9million convertible loan for its expansion, to meet growing national and international demand and consolidate its three New Zealand production sites into one. . .

Applying old models to modern farming – Sally Rae:

Last year, North Otago-based milk business The Natural Dairy was the very popular winner of the agricultural category and runner-up for the Supreme Award in the Waitaki Business Awards. Business and rural editor Sally Rae talks to owner Glen Claridge about why he ditched a high-flying career to return to his roots.

It’s dairy farming like it used to be.

Cows with story-book names like Buttercup, Dolly and Lily chewing their cud and producing milk which is sold direct from cow-to-consumer in recyclable glass bottles.

And while that might speak to the past, it was also something that The Natural Dairy owner Glen Claridge believed should be the future. . . 

Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards winners announced :

An exceptionally wet spring and summer combined with adverse weather challenges early this year severely impacted entrant numbers in the Manawatū dairy industry awards programme.

Traditionally, when a region has low entrant numbers, places are only offered to winner and runner-up, or just the winner only, and when entrant numbers were very low, the category did not proceed.

However, with entrants wanting to take part in the Awards programme and benefiting from doing so, not allowing them to participate goes against the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ philosophy and what the programme is striving to achieve.

That approach also forces a winner of the category when the entrant may not be ready to progress to Nationals. . . .

Pāmu updates profit forecast due to adverse events and lower milk prices :

State-owned enterprise Pāmu, also known as Landcorp Farming Limited has updated its Net Operating Profit full-year forecast due to impacts from Cyclone Gabrielle on 24 of its farms and softer milk prices.

The company now expects a full year Net Operating Profit of between $34 and $44 million compared to its original budget forecast of $55m contained in its Statement of Corporate Intent.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Leslie said: “Our early assessment of the damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle is $6.5 million over two years, with $2.5 million falling into the current financial year. The cost will be a mixture of operating and capital expenditure.”

The change to expected Net Operating Profit also reflects a reduction in forecast revenue from both dairy and livestock. The forecast milk price falling from $9.00 per kilogram of milk solids in February to $8.50 per kilogram of milk solids, combined with lower-than-expected milk production has reduced forecast milk revenue by $14.6 million. . .

Rural round-up


From ‘hatred and pain to ‘blessed’ life – Sally Rae:

At the tender age of 13, Toria Cummings was doing drugs.

Living in Auckland and in with the wrong crowd, her life was rapidly spiralling downhill. Her mother was barely around — she was in and out of hospital with Toria’s sister — and the teen was filled with “hatred and pain”.

A pivotal moment came when then Child, Youth and Family (CYF) gave an ultimatum that either another guardian be found — her father was given 12 hours to uplift her — or she would be put in CYF care.

So her father took her to Southland and, while in hindsight she was so grateful to him for doing that, she did not give him an easy ride. Angry and resentful, she was stealing and doing drugs — “just doing anything I could to just get myself back to Auckland”. . .

Ag safety advocate recognised for impact on sector – Sally Rae:

Southern farmer Harriet Bremner has been named co-winner of this year’s Zanda McDonald Award, which recognises young professionals in the primary sector.

Ms Bremner and Australian Mitch Highett were presented with the award at a function in Brisbane this week.

Newly married, Ms Bremner farms with her husband Ed Pinckney at Jericho Station, a 1400ha sheep, beef and grazing property at Manapouri.

She is a health, safety and wellbeing advocate for agriculture — particularly around keeping children safe on farms – and has written children’s books, including her most recent edition Wool’s the Word.

Ms Bremner received the Rural Women New Zealand: Rural Champion award in 2021. Mr Highett, of Orange, New South Wales, is the founder and managing director of Bullseye Ag. His farm management company works alongside farms across NSW and Queensland with an area totalling more than 202,000ha. . . .

It’s time for this old dog’s new trick – Steve Wyn-Harris :

Every dog has its day.

This dog’s day has finally come as I contemplate the end of my 40-year full-time farming career.

It has been brought on by an ageing and failing body with a long put-up with lower back injury that gives a bit of sciatica, a crook shoulder from my broken collar bone when I fell off the two-wheeler last year and a couple of arthritic hips. Plenty of people worse, I know, but with more stoicism than me.

Maybe only 64, but the novelty of feeling sore most working days has worn off. . .

Wood petrochemical substitutes one step closer – Andrew Bevin:

Futurity sees forestry waste as a promising source of high-value, sustainable chemicals.

Bio-refinery start-up Futurity is launching a $1.5 million commercialisation study into turning wood by-products into high-value chemicals.

The study will involve working to commercialise technology developed in Europe to turn lignin waste from Oji’s pulp and paper mills into replacements for traditionally fossil fuel-based materials used in automotive, electronics and construction.

Ministry for Primary Industries is putting in $600,000 from its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund towards the pilot, with Futurity, owned by co-founder and chairman Rupert Paterson’s venture capital firm Prospectors, putting up the remainder. . . .

First of New Zealand’s 2021 kiwifruit crop sets sail to Japan :

The first shipment of the 2023 New Zealand kiwifruit season has now departed the Port of Tauranga, carrying around 2,500 tonnes (more than 600,000 trays) of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit to customers in Japan. 

The Southampton Star is expected to reach Tokyo in early April before sailing onto Kobe and is the first of 53 charter vessels Zespri will use this season to deliver around 145 million trays of Green, SunGold and RubyRed Kiwifruit to more than 50 countries. 

Charter vessels will be responsible for delivering around 72 million trays of this season’s New Zealand-grown fruit to Zespri’s global consumers. This season’s charter programme will include three services to Northern Europe, seven to the Mediterranean, two to North America’s West Coast and 41 to Asia, with a further 73 million trays to be shipped using container services. 

Zespri Acting Chief Global Supply Officer Jason Te Brake says that after a really challenging 2022 and a tough start to 2023 given adverse weather events including Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne – the start of the new season represented a reset for the industry.  . . .

Higher than expected demand for NAIT accreditation under the new standards :

OSPRI’s National Manager, Quality, Compliance and Assurance, Melissa Bailey, says the surge in demand came at the end of 2022 which created some challenges in processing all the audits, but overall, it was a good sign for industry that so many individuals/organisations were getting on board with the new accreditation programme.

“The impact of the programme is already being felt. Over 300 individuals have completed online education modules in NAIT legislation and obligations. This means that the industry is more confident in the advice they provide to farmers on how to meet their NAIT obligations, and there are less errors in the NAIT system. Since launching the education modules, errors made by accredited organisations in the NAIT system have reduced by two-thirds.”

Because the demand for audits surpassed our capacity at the end of the year there have been delays in completing the audit process so there are still organisations waiting to become accredited, said Ms Bailey. “We apologise for the delay but rest assured, nobody will lose their accreditation if they have started the accreditation process and completed their education modules. We will not penalise organisations for these delays. Our audit supplier is working as fast as possible to get through the backlog.” . .

Rural round-up


Red meat farmers could see profits fall more than 30% -:

While the outlook for global sheepmeat and beef trade is improving, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says it expects farmer profitability to fall sharply due to reduced livestock prices and continued high inflation.

The B+LNZ Mid-Season Update 2022-23 says that farm profit before tax is estimated at $146,300, a 31% decrease from the 2021-22 season and below the average for the past five years.

“Inflationary pressure is causing on-farm costs to increase sharply, eroding the benefit of what are still historically pretty good farm-gate returns,” says B+LNZ chief economist Andrew Burtt.

The forecast uptick in global sheepmeat and beef trade is supported by generally solid fundamentals in key markets, with demand projected to recover, while global supply levels remain tight. . . .

McClay Nats’ new ag spokesman :

National Party trade spokesman Todd McClay will become the party’s agriculture spokesperson, National leader Christopher Luxon announced today.

The news comes in the wake of the announcement by Todd Muller that he would not seek re-election this year.

Muller, a former leader of the National Party, took over the agriculture portfolio in an acting capacity last year after Barbara Kuriger had to resign the position amid a conflict of interest between her family and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Luxon says McClay’s appointment to agriculture spokesperson will bring together the agriculture and trade portfolios under one spokesperson. . . 

Deer farmers looking out for deer farmers :

Deer farmers across the country are going to great lengths to help their fellow farmers affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. As communities deal with the aftermath, stories about relief efforts continue to highlight the underlying strength of the industry here in Aotearoa.

One such affected farmer, Evan Potter, manages a 720ha property located in coastal Hawke’s Bay and is the 2021 National Ambassador for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

“It took more than a week to get running water and gain access to the property over a hill track. We had to plug holes in the boundary deer fences, having lost a mob of stags that are still on the run – I’m hoping they’ll find their way home eventually,” says Potter.

A drone had been offered to help track the herd. This was just one of the many gestures of support shown by fellow farmers. . . 

Synlait Milk dramatically lowers profit forecast

Dairy company Synlait Milk has warned its full-year profit will take a hit from reduced demand, higher costs and supply chain disruptions.

It has cut its forecast after-tax profit to $15-$25 million, compared to last year’s $38.5m.

In December, Synlait reaffirmed its expectation of ending the year with a “similar level of profitability experienced before FY21”, which had been a net profit of $75.2m.

Chief executive Grant Watson said it was taking longer than expected to restore the company’s finances after the disruptions caused by the pandemic and the problems of its major customer, A2 Milk. . . 

Canterbury North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners driven to succeed :

The winners of the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards are excited to see where the dairy industry will be in the next few years, with technology and science developments driving progress.

Jonathon and Stacey Hoets were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at Wigram Airforce Museum in Christchurch on Saturday evening.

Other major winners were Jack Symes, who was named the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Brayden Johnston, the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Hoets have entered the Awards three times previously and say they have grown their network and upskilled on areas that were challenging through the experience.

Growing up on his parents’ dairy farm in Papakaio, Jonathon entered the dairy industry as a farm assistant when he left school. . . 

Seeka Perfectly Imperfect and Island Gelato collaborate to reduce food waste :

New Zealand produce company Seeka has taken another step forward in its bid to minimise food waste, partnering with Perfectly Imperfect to rejuvenate cherry export rejects.

Seeka’s New Zealand based wholesale market and distribution services, SeekaFresh, were able to work with Perfectly Imperfect’s Founder, Wendy Zhou and her team, to save over half a tonne of cherries deemed both export and local market rejects.

Aaron Leslie, New Zealand Markets Manager for SeekaFresh said, “Waste is something we are always trying to minimise at Seeka. By collaborating with Wendy, we were able to access her connections at DryNZ, and Island Gelato, which has resulted in our cherries being destoned and turned into a new flavour of gelato. We couldn’t be happier to see the product redistributed to market in this way.”

Perfectly Imperfect is a social enterprise whose purpose is to save ‘ugly’ food from going to waste. Founder, Wendy Zhou, reached out to SeekaFresh in January looking for opportunities to repurpose any produce unfit for export or the local market. Wendy Zhou explained, “A staggering 45% of fresh produce is not distributed to market, simply because it doesn’t look a certain way. It’s our aim to reduce this and repurpose the food. We were very happy to work with Seeka and look forward to a continued relationship.” . . 


Rural round-up


Dairy farmer says ‘storm is coming’ as costs soar – Business Desk:

A Waikato dairy farmer says “the storm is coming” as forecasts show the cost of producing milk could be above the midpoint that New Zealand’s major dairy companies are currently paying. However, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says there is still confidence in the medium- to long-term outlook. 

DairyNZ DairyBase data is forecasting the total farm work costs for the current season to increase to around $9 per kilogram of milk solids (KgMS) for the current season – an 11% increase on last season’s $8.13/KgMS.

That’s about 50c higher than Fonterra’s current midpoint of $8.50/kgMS. NZ stock exchange-listed Synlait is   paying the same price.

DairyNZ said the increase was mainly driven by increases in feed, up 21%, fertiliser, up 28%, and interest costs, which saw the biggest increase, up 39%. . . 

Still mixed signals on the export price front with a worrying cloud on the edge of the horizon – Point of Order :

As New Zealand’s  export season gains momentum, there  are some encouraging  signs for the farming  industries  on the price  front.  For good measure, the NZ  dollar  has  eased in value against the  US  dollar.

The ANZ Bank’s world commodity price index increased 1.3% m/m in February, a welcome lift, the bank says, after 10 consecutive monthly falls. Stronger returns for meat and forestry products were the main drivers. In local currency terms the index gained 2.0%.

Dairy prices lifted 0.2% month-on-month in February, with the dairy auctions delivering mixed results. ANZ economist Susan Kilsby says there is a strong expectation that improved economic activity in China will drive increased demand for dairy products, but this is yet to really materialise.

She says there are strong indications that consumer confidence in China is improving, which should support a lift in demand. But price impacts may be tempered by the existing stocks of milk powder in this market and the quantity of milk being produced domestically in China. . . 

Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact on New Zealand’s fruit bowl – Tom Kitchin :

Orchards, vineyards and fields of crops in Hawke’s Bay have been torn apart by Cyclone Gabrielle, destroying people’s homes and livelihoods.

But what are the knock-on effects for consumers?

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association president Brydon Nisbet has apple orchards in Puketapu, one of the worst-hit areas. He finally got to see his orchards three days after disaster struck. 

“We were kind of preparing for the worst, but believing for the best. We got there and we have a little orchard next to a large kiwifruit block that backs right up to the stopbank. That’s pretty much flattened,” he tells The Detail. . . 

Online butcher The Meat Box supports Kiwi farmers impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle :

The Meat Box, an Online Butcher specialising in fresh-cut-to-order meat delivery New Zealand wide, have announced that they will donate 5% of sales to Federated Farmers from 26th February to the end of March, to support farmers impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Cyclone Gabrielle has caused significant damage leaving farmers without homes, land, stock, and essential equipment. As a business that relies on farmers to provide high-quality meat, The Meat Box recognises the crucial role that farmers play in their success. The company is committed to supporting farmers during this difficult time as they face the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle. 

“We want to support our fellow Kiwis during this challenging time,” said The Meat Box CEO Wayne Kennerley. “Farmers are the lifeline of our business, and we owe it to them to provide assistance and help rebuild their livelihoods. We encourage our customers to stock up on their Meat Box favourites and join us in supporting farmers in need.”

Customers can purchase their Meat Box favourites from and know that 5% of their purchase as well as any additional donations made by the customer will go towards supporting farmers impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, thanks to their partnership with GoGenerosity. GoGenerosity is a platform that connects businesses and consumers with charities and causes that align with their values. . . 

Northland Dairy Industry Award winners committed to meeting challenges :

The 2023 Northland Share Farmers of the Year have a passion for growing and breeding animals and are committed to meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the dairy industry

Matthew & Kortne Snedden were named winners of the 2023 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands in Waitangi on Wednesday night. The other major winner was the 2023 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Bill Hamilton.

Due to the impact of the adverse weather conditions in Northland, the last of Northland’s Dairy Manager entrants could not make judging and the category had to be cancelled for this year.

Matthew and Kortne placed third in the Northland Share Farmer category in 2019, while Matthew was named 2014 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

NZDA raises concerns over police’s proposed firearms licensing fee increase during cost of living crisis :

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) is deeply concerned with the recent proposal by the Police to significantly increase firearms licensing fees.

The proposed fee hikes have the real potential to severely impact public safety, Aotearoa New Zealand’s conservation and biodiversity goals, and other community good outcomes, particularly in terms of our ability to educate firearms users in the safe handling and storage of firearms and ammunition.

Additionally, the proposed fees unfairly target lower-income recreational hunters and shooters, many of whom depend on hunting to provide food for their families, especially during the current cost of living crisis.

At the NZDA, we believe that the proposed fee increases will not necessarily improve safety and security of firearms in New Zealand, instead the fee hikes will be used to pay for high-paying government jobs in Wellington. . . 

Rural round-up


Farmers need backing like All Blacks: Luxon– Sally Rae:

Every man and his dog attended the Wānaka A&P Show.

Organisers estimated at least 44,000 people attended the two-day event and thousands crowded around the main ring on Saturday for the ever-popular and ever-chaotic terrier race.

After a false start -one little dog broke early -mounted police officer Ashleigh Smail, of Invercargill, and Bentley dragged the bait around the arena and the usual mayhem ensued.

Constable Smail described it as an “amazing” experience. Admitting to being a little nervous prior to the race, she had her horse since he was young and he was very experienced, so she thought he was “going to be a good boy”. . . 

Energy colonialism will worsen rural-urban divide – Joel Kotkin:

In his drive to conquer China, Mao Zedong and his most famous general, Lin Biao, stoked “a peasant revolution” that eventually overwhelmed the cities. In those days, most Chinese toiled on the land, a vast manpower reservoir for the Communist insurgency. Today, in a world where a majority lives in urban settlements, such a strategy would be doomed to failure.

The small percentage of rural and small-town residents in most advanced countries — generally under 20 percent — lack the numbers to overwhelm the rest of society. Political and economic elites feel free to ignore the countryside, but they may find they do so at their peril. Although now a mere slice of the population, rural areas remain critical suppliers of food, fiber (like cotton), and energy to the rest of the economy.

Residents in agricultural areas have good reason to feel put upon. Their industries are often targeted by regulators and disdained by the metropolitan cognoscenti. They may not be hiding in the caves of Yan’an, but farming communities from the Netherlands to North America are rebelling against extreme government regulations, such as banning or restricting critical fertilizers or the enforced culling of herds. Meat and dairy producers are assaulted in a hysterical article in the New York Times that predicts imminent “mass extinction” caused by humans and suggests that to keep the planet from “frying” we will need to reduce meat and dairy consumption in short order. . . 

New Zealand pip fruit harvest re-estimated after Cyclone Gabrielle :

The New Zealand pipfruit crop has been re-estimated after Cyclone Gabrielle affected parts of the East Coast of the North Island.

While Tairāwhiti Gisborne crop re-estimates are yet to be completed, at this stage, the overall New Zealand crop is estimated to be down 21% on the original January crop estimate, resulting in a volume of 16.1 million TCEs (tray carton equivalent).

Central Otago and Nelson/Tasman continue to experience good growing and harvest conditions, and are on track to meet forecast crop expectations.

On the East Coast, there is a clear distinction between blocks that have been significantly and severely affected by the storm, and blocks that are untouched. For unaffected blocks, the remaining crop harvest is well underway, and conditions for the remaining harvest period look good. . . 

Waikato Dairy Award winner passionate about all farming opportunities :

The major winner in the 2023 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards has a genuine passion for all things farming and believes there are many opportunities within the dairy industry for those who are willing to work hard and push themselves.

For the first time, a sole female farmer has won the Waikato Share Farmer category.

Aleisha Broomfield was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at Claudelands Event Centre on Wednesday evening. The other big winners were Sam Dodd, who became the 2023 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Natasha Price, the 2023 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Aleisha is a 50/50 herd-owning share milker on the Dibble Family’s Tauhei Farms Ltd 86ha Te Aroha farm, milking 245 cows. She won $15,828 in prizes and four merit awards. . . 

Southland Otago Dairy Industry Award winners environment focussed :

The winners of the 2023 Southland/Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year category say they love to see people thrive and progress through the industry and believe there are still many opportunities in the dairy industry.

Michael and Shahn Smith were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category, announced at a dinner at Bill Richardson’s Transport World in Invercargill on Tuesday night. The other big winners were Nicole Barber who was named the 2023 Southland/Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Ann-Kristin Loferski, the 2023 Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Smiths saw the Awards process as an opportunity to reflect on their business. “We wanted to push ourselves with goal-setting and have conversations with like-minded people regarding the future of farming and the legacy we can leave the future generations.”

Prior to entering the dairy industry, Michael worked as a Land Management Officer (Riparian) for the Taranaki Regional Council. “My education is environmental-based, and I’m passionate about leaving the land better than we found it.” . . 

Countdown commits to growing back better with over $750,000 of support for its growers impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle :

Countdown has today announced a range of targeted support to help growers who have been impacted the most severely by Cyclone Gabrielle to get back on their feet.

The package of support includes $700,000 ring-fenced for cash grants, a $50,000 donation to Rural Support Trust, and other in-kind targeted support as well as commitments around future growing agreements.

Countdown’s Commercial Director for Fresh, Pieter de Wet, says that as growers continue to assess their needs three weeks on from the devastating cyclone, the retailer is committed to helping their partners in a practical and meaningful way.

“The weather events over the past few weeks have caused immense destruction that will have a long-lasting impact on many communities and their livelihoods. That includes our growers who play a vital role in ensuring Kiwi have access to healthy fresh fruit and veg” says de Wet. . . 


Rural round-up


Kiwis are open to GMOs but is the government? – Andrew Hoggard :

Kiwis know that technology is the key to solving our problems of the future.

When it comes to reducing transport emissions, we know it’s much better if technology can allow us to switch to electric cars rather than have to reduce how much we drive. We know our future electricity system needs to be one where we have affordable, plentiful, reliable electricity, but that more and more of our electricity is generated with new solar, wind and geothermal technology.

New technologies are the key to achieving this future.

Agriculture will be no different. Our country will be much more prosperous if we can use technology to reduce our agricultural emissions rather than find ourselves in a situation where we simply farm less. . . 

New Zealanders asked to buy local and fresh to support weather hit vegetable growers  :

New Zealanders are being asked to buy local and fresh, to support vegetable growers across the country hit hard by continued bad weather.

‘Vegetable growers have endured exceptionally bad growing weather for several months now,’ says Vegetables New Zealand Chair, John Murphy.

‘Months of wet, humid and unpredictable weather have affected growers’ ability to plant and harvest, which has had a cumulative effect on supply.

‘Most graphic have been the pictures of onions in drains in Pukekohe and on beaches and in drains in Hawkes Bay, plus the news that up to 90% of Northland’s kumara production has been wiped out by Cyclone Gabrielle. . . 

Trust dedicated to helping farmers get back on their feet :

Money donated to the Farmers Adverse Events Trust Cyclone Gabrielle appeal is directly helping the farmers and growers hit hardest by flooding, silt and slips, Trust Chair Dr William Rolleston says.

“It’s paying for supplies and fuel for cross country and helicopter missions to stranded families, as well as for fencing and stock water reticulation gear, some of which will be installed by Farmy Army volunteers.

“Getting fences back up is critical for livestock feed management. Clearing internal farm roads of debris and restoring water troughs helps farming families get back on their feet, and restores the production that is the economic lifeblood of so many rural districts,” Dr Rolleston said.

“We’ll be looking to support the efforts of the many hundreds of Farmy Army volunteers who are generously donating their time and skills.” . . 

Waikato Farmgate security helps Cyclone Gabrielle rural communities sleep at night again  :

New Zealand startup Farmgate Security – a finalist in the 2022 NZ Fieldays Innovation Awards – are partnering up with Vero insurance to donate free security camera tech worth more than $60,000 to farmers caught up in the Cyclone Gabrielle disaster.

“Farmers have made it clear they want more security help – they are scared, sleepless and armed. Please contact Farmgate. Grab one of our free cameras so that you can sleep at night again,” says Andrew Sing, Director, Farmgate.

Farmgate’s purpose driven mandate – to reduce rural crime by 50% – starts with cameras that pick up on stolen vehicles and notify local communities through the free Farmgate APP, says Sing.

“Farmgate Security cameras increase visibility in rural communities. Our 24/7 surveillance centre reports stolen vehicles to NZ Police as well as local communities. We take care of the risk so farmers can focus on get back to supplying the best of New Zealand produce to the world.” . . 

Former Fed aims for parliament – Leo Argent :

Former Federated Farmers Meat and Wool chair Miles Anderson has been selected as the National Party candidate for the Waitaki electorate.

The fifth of eleven children, Anderson was educated at the local Southburn primary school, then at St Kevin’s College boarding school in Oamaru. In 1992 he became involved with a group of local farmers establishing a business scanning livestock for pregnancies in the central South Island, with eventual expansion into South Australia.

Taking over the 220 hectare family farm in Southburn from his father in 2004, Anderson runs 1,500 sheep and about 20 beef cattle, with 10-80 hectares dedicated to cereal crops.

Before entering politics some of Anderson’s former roles included the aforementioned chair of Federated Farmers Meat and Wool sector – formerly Meat and Fibre. Anderson had it renamed to boost wool’s profile in New Zealand. . . 

Low carbon dairy processor Miraka appoints professional director Debbie Birch to board :

Taupō based, dairy processing business Miraka, which has one of the world’s lowest carbon manufacturing footprints, has appointed professional director, Debbie Birch, to the company’s board.

Miraka Chairman, Kingi Smiler, today welcomed Ms Birch to the values based, Māori-owned dairy processing business.

“Debbie is a full-time professional director with over 20 years of experience in senior executive roles managing large global investment portfolios in Asia and Australia.

We’re delighted to have someone of Debbie’s calibre and commitment to the Māori economy join Miraka and very much look forward to her contribution.” . . 

Rural round-up


Can we turn forest slash from waste and risk into a valuable resource? –  Peter Winsley:

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, as in revenge, have sucked up from the sea contagious fogs; which falling in the land have every pelting river made so proud that they have overborne their continents…

Shakespeare, A Midsummer-Night’s Dream

Cyclone Gabrielle has caused death and destruction, and amplified awareness of the need to manage forestry slash.  Slash is the branches, small logs and other woody material left after plantation forests are harvested, typically from low value hill country.  At best slash is waste.  At worst it can do enormous damage when washed downstream, clogging up rivers, harming pastoral farming and horticulture, damaging transport and other infrastructure, cluttering beaches, and impacting on kai moana.

Key events that have triggered downstream problems with slash include cyclones Bola (1988), Gita (2018), Hale (January 2023) and Gabrielle (February 2023).  Climate change is likely to make such storms more frequent and more damaging.

Pyrolysis biochar can convert the slash problem into environmental and economic opportunity.  The focus should be on biochar’s contribution to our climate change policy as well as productivity and wider environmental benefits.  . . 

Hopes to curb rabbit pest go viral – Jill Herron:

Renewed council efforts to control Otago’s most notorious pest are not equal to the task of keeping rabbit numbers down a review has found

A game of whack-a-mole being played against rabbits by Otago Regional Council has seen progress in some trouble spots but new populations emerging elsewhere.

Central Otago, traditionally the main problem area, is now being joined by coastal Otago as rabbits establish seaside strongholds in such places as the Catlins, Otago Peninsula and Waikouaiti.

The pests are a serious threat to biodiversity and the environment, plaguing the region with a costly and seemingly ineradicable problem. . .

Lou Lou the cow whisperer – Cosmo Kentishbarnes:

Cows are Laura Murdoch’s passion and she shares her everyday interactions with them on Facebook and Tiktok.

Some of her Cow Whisperer videos have racked up quite a few hits. One has had 40,000 views and thousands of likes.

“I try and showcase my fun and I like looking at them, so then I think surely someone else might too!”

Murdoch used to be an accountant. Ever since she was a teenager, though, she’d always dreamt of becoming a farmer. . . 

Passion and flexibility successful recipe for Central Plateau winners :

A passion for success, combined with a desire to get ahead and the ability to be flexible in an ever-changing dairy industry is a winning recipe for a Taupo couple.

Kevin and Nicole Oppert were announced the winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Rydges Rotorua on Friday night. The other big winners were Mohammed (Jay) Arifin, who was named the 2023 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Jasmine Hall, the 2023 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Due to entrants withdrawing from the Share Farmer category, Central Plateau Share Farmer entrant scores were benchmarked against the national average, with data collated from the 10 other regions.

This also means merit awards were awarded if the entrant achieved at the right level. . . 

Emma Poole crowned Waikato Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year :

A Pirongia dairy farmer has been crowned the Waikato Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Emma Poole, 28, from Te Kawa West Young Farmers is a second-time Regional Final winner and will be heading to the Grand Final in Timaru in July. She takes the title off her husband, Chris Poole, who was the Season 54 Waikato Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year. Her brother, Tim Dangen took out last year’s Grand Final, making him the current FMG Young Farmer of the Year title holder.

“It’s safe to say we’re pretty competitive in our family,” laughs Poole, who says she has unfinished business going into this year’s Grand Final. She was an FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalist in 2019, so this is her second time going for gold.

Poole was announced as the winner of the Waikato Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year in Morrinsville on Saturday evening, after spending the weekend competing in a range of activities at the Morrinsville A&P Show. . . 


Support network a strength for Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Award winners :

The major winners in the 2023 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Cameron and Jessica Lea, say being surrounded by a strong mentor network has set them on the path for success.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Awakeri Events Centre on Saturday night. The other big winners were Chihiro Hanyuda who was named the 2023 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Caleb Spence, the 2023 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Cameron (32) and Jessica (31) are 50/50 sharemilking over two farms – Colin and Maria Eggleton’s 120ha Opotiki 270-cow property, and Bern and Heather Mcdonals’ neighbouring 100ha, 300-cow property. They won $11,300 and three merit awards.

Entering the Awards previously gave the Leas an opportunity to assess where their business was heading and actively set goals. “It also provided a wonderful environment to network with other farmers and rural professionals.

Cameron grew up on a dairy farm and after a small stint farming after leaving high school, worked in Australia and New Zealand as an agricultural contractor. . . 

Rural round-up


Farmers hitting the wall on East Coast – Jo MOir :

Jim Galloway doubts it will ever be known how many animals died during Cyclone Gabrielle. As the adrenaline runs out, the Hawkes Bay Federated Farmers president told political editor Jo Moir farmers are starting to hit the wall.

Exactly how many animals died when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the East Coast will never be known but rough estimates on the rumour mill have it at about 40,000.

Jim Galloway farms in Raukawa, southwest of Hastings, and counts himself as one of the lucky ones having escaped any damage on his property.

Instead, he’s concentrating on making sure farmers in the region have all the support they need to clean up and start again. . . 

You can’t eat trees says Whanganui’s deputy mayor – Helen Craig:

Government has lost sight of the importance of farming to New Zealand’s wider economy and the fact we actually need food to survive. Farmers are now a threatened species, except foresters and mānuka conversions for honey. Funnily enough, Government legislation is now the biggest risk to farming, even compared to natural disasters.

Provincial local government has also lost sight of their heavy reliance on the farming economy as they focus on towns and services for people. There will be few people and towns if our farmers disappear – we are too reliant on the services and products they buy, the products they supply for further manufacturing and the profits they spend. We fool ourselves if we think art galleries, museums, tourists, events and niche manufacturers keep our provincial towns alive.

Laws and taxes are being passed by Wellington-based politicians who do not understand this and don’t think beyond the growing urban populations. The Carbon Credits scheme managed by the Government is making forestry far more profitable than any other farming industry. A new tax on animal emissions adds to growing costs on-farm. Government approvals for the sale of land to overseas forestry firms have accelerated, not reduced, and it’s harder and harder to get water rights approvals for not only stock, but also cropping, creating growing uncertainty and risk for farmers.

Overdone fencing and riparian planting requirements for anything that might possibly be considered a waterway, tighter regulations on private drinking water schemes, tighter health and safety laws, tighter regulations on chicken and egg farms, and now the possibility of a five-fold increase in firearms licence fees will make pest control and recreational shooting too expensive for most except the most frequent shooters. . . 


Feds back practical bypass solution at Hikuwai :

Federated Farmers is backing a project by a Tolaga Bay contracting company and local residents to reopen vital access to rural communities and farms north of Hikuwai.

“A partial solution proposed by authorities falls well short, in our view,” Federated Farmers national board member and transport spokesperson Mark Hooper says.

“A bypass, across private land, that local residents and Kuru Contracting have underway is a practical response that offers longer-term resilience to impacted families and businesses. In our view Waka Kotahi, Gisborne District Council and others should get on board with it and offer whatever help they can.”

Rural properties, communities and consequently the primary sector in the Tolaga and Tokomaru Bay areas of Tairāwhiti were slammed by Cyclone Gabrielle. For farmers, cut off access is not just about being blocked from making trips that every other family needs to make. It also means disruption to feeding and looking after animals on land damaged by slips and flooding (including being able to move them elsewhere for grazing, or to destock), and removes the ability to get remaining viable product to market – critical to support employment and the local economy going forward. . . 

Kiwis flock to third annual Open Farm Day:

An estimated 2,500 urban Kiwis visited 24 farms this Sunday, part of New Zealand’s third national open farm day initiative, Open Farms.

Farms of all types participated in the nationwide project, from market gardens in Auckland, to dairy farms in the Waikato, regenerative sheep and beef farms near Wellington and organic veges in Christchurch.

“This was a tough year for farmer hosts, so we really appreciate them giving urban Kiwis the chance to touch, feel and taste their way back into food and farming” says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb.

Successive weather events in the project’s target areas around New Zealand’s major cities impacted host numbers, but visitor interest remained high. “About two-thirds of our events were fully booked this year – again proving that, when given the chance, urban Kiwis are keen to get back out on-farm” says Eb. . . 

The amount of farmland converted into forestry revealed – Zane Small :

Newshub can reveal 25 times more land was converted into forestry last year than a decade ago. 

It’s angered farmers who hope the Government’s ministerial inquiry into forestry slash will lead to limits on land conversion. They say the Government needs to answer for incentivising forestry to earn carbon credits.

“We’re not absolutely against off-setting, we’re certainly not against commercial forestry, but our argument is that there needs to be some limits put on it,” Beef + Lamb CEO Sam McIvor told Newshub. 

Figures obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act show a rise in recent years of new forestry area, from 695 hectares in 2013 to more than 18,000 hectares last year.  . . 

New Zealand Rural Land Co FY22 year results demonstrate resilience :

New Zealand Rural Land Co (NZX: NZL) has recorded a net profit after tax of $5.3M for the financial year ended 31 December 2022 along with a further increase in the value of its property portfolio.

The results cover the period 1 July 2022 – 31 December 2022, following a recent change in NZL’s balance date to 31 December (from 30 June).

NZL currently owns 11,710 hectares (28,963 acres) of high quality productive rural land in New Zealand which is fully tenanted on long-term leases with regular CPI adjustment provisions. It generates shareholder value through a combination of asset value appreciation and cash flows from its long-term leases.

Co-founder and New Zealand Rural Land Management director Richard Milsom said that in the current environment the increase in value of NZL’s rural land holdings demonstrated the resilience and quality of NZL’s portfolio. . . 

Making bad worse


The RMA started with good intentions but initial faults and bad revisions have made it so bad there’s widespread agreement that it needs to go.

The government has attempted and failed. Instead of something better, it has come up with something that is far worse than the RMA and, as the Taxpayers’ Union points out, far worse than Three Waters:

Right now, the Government is sneaking through legislation that is almost identical to Nanaia Mahuta’s original plans with Three Waters, but relates to our homes, town planning, consenting, and natural environment.

The short point is, if you thought Three Waters was bad, the Government’s proposed replacement to the Resource Management Act is much, much worse. 

While most New Zealanders looked at the Three Waters shambles with horror, Environment Minister, David Parker, was taking notes. He’s decided to replicate the worst elements of the water reforms in his proposed replacement to the Resource Management Act. 

But you won’t have read much about this issue in the media. Unlike Three Waters, there’s no taxpayer-funded Government ad campaign or even much of a public discussion.

Make no mistake: The Government is trying to sneak this one through. The bills – 891 pages in total – were dumped just before Christmas and the Government closed submissions on Waitangi weekend. That – plus the fact Ministers have deliberately not promoted the bills – has meant that the media is only just starting to wake up to the possible implications of these reforms.

Under this proposed law, powers over planning and when a resource consent is required will be stripped from local councils and handed to 15 new co-governed ‘Regional Planning Committees’. That means the decisions about the building consent for your deck, new home, factory, your farm’s water take, and how your city or town is planned will be made by people you cannot vote out. ‘Regional Planning Committees’ will be tasked with enforcing a litany of costly new rules from Wellington to restrict the way you use your property. 

I need to be clear: The Resource Management Act is broken. Its planning rules have fuelled a housing and infrastructure crisis. But we need to get RMA reform right, and David Parker’s new Soviet-style planning regime is not the answer. Instead of cutting red tape, he’s come up with a cure worse than the disease.

Local control will be lost: Instead of elected decision makers, town, city and environmental planning will handed to co-governed Regional Planning Committees before the end of this year

If you thought dealing with silly rules from your local council was bad, wait until it’s a co-governed Regional Planning Committee that voters cannot sack making the rules. David Parker wants to take responsibility for planning rules away from our 67 democratically elected local councils and hand it to 15 new co-governed ‘Regional Planning Committees’.

That’s right: First your council lost its responsibility for water asset management, and now it’s losing responsibility for planning. At this rate your Mayor will be responsible for little more than the library collection and the annual Christmas parade! 

This government doesn’t like local government and local control.

Unless we act right now, the law will be passed before this year’s election. And with the election result looking so close, the only way to ensure we defeat this is to blow the whistle now, so these proposals become as unpopular as Three Waters.

Think of all the conversations in your local community about zoning rules, intensification, and planning priorities. I’m no fan of my local council, but at least under the current system, voters can hold the decision makers to account. Under this new system, the decision makers will be out of town, beholden to Wellington, and insulated from accountability by layers of bureaucracy.

Each local council – even large metropolitan ones – will have just one representative on the new regional committees. That also means that local voices in, say, Waitaki will be drowned out by other committee members. Decisions over say a proposed geothermal energy plant in Taupo would be made in Hamilton by a co-governed, unaccountable, committee.

The rules even allow the Minister (currently David Parker) to make his own appointments to the Regional Planning Committees so that Wellington has people to ensure that these committees dance to the Government’s tune.

And the new committees will be bound by ‘National Planning Frameworks’ issued by the Minister every nine years, dictating comprehensive environmental targets and limits, and rules governing resource allocation from Kaitaia to the Bluff. That means environmental decisions and regional ‘quotas’ on things like CO2 emissions will be made by Wellington.

We need your support to stop this unaccountable co-governed centralisation by Wellington.

Even more co-governance will make public input meaningless 

Under the proposed regime, all persons exercising planning power must “give effect” to principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. David Parker wants to strictly enforce this rule with three new layers of co-governance: 

    1. Unelected appointees from local iwi/hapū will sit on the new Regional Planning Committees with full voting rights. 
       David Parker is trying to say this isn’t co-governance as the proposed legislation only requires a minimum of two iwi/hapū representatives and the exact number is up to local communities. But it’s not as simple as that. The committees deciding on appointee numbers for local councils and those from iwi will be bound by the principles of the Treaty. A recent Waitangi Tribunal decision makes it explicit that, “nothing less” than a 50/50 split will do in order to satisfy the so-called “partnership” principle.
    2. A new, unelected ‘National Māori Entity’ will put pressure on the new planning committees to ensure that they abide by Treaty principles, and will have priority over public consultation on the new National Planning Frameworks.
    3. At any time, iwi or hapū can produce a Te Oranga o te Taiao (environmental wellbeing) statement, dictating how the Minister of Environment must uphold the “intrinsic relationship” between iwi/hapū and the environment in National Planning Frameworks for which there is no appeal process outlined in the bill.

David Parker is trying to say that these reforms don’t involve co-governance, but, as you can see, that is blatantly untrue.

We need your help to make sure New Zealanders know about these Bills, and step up to protect democratic accountability before it is too late.

Higher costs for ratepayers due to bureaucracy and legal minefields

These reforms mean everything from building a new deck to constructing a new hospital or supermarket will be even harder.

The legislation’s first reading was snuck through just before the Christmas break. The Government wants to have it passed before this year’s election and only gave the summer holiday period for formal submissions.

Of course, our team worked over summer to get their heads around the 891 pages of legislation and made a submission. But the real fight is the political one: We need to raise public awareness.

If New Zealanders were fully aware about the true implications of David Parker’s power grab, it could turn into a real political headache for the Government just like Three Waters. 

18 months ago, the Taxpayers’ Union decided that we had no option but to take on Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters. Back then the vast majority of Kiwis were backing the Government, as very few understood the downsides of what the Government was doing. It was only after a mammoth campaign, hundreds of events, and thousands of banners, signs, and an advertising blitz across TV, radio and online did the National Party (and the media) catch on to the costs of Three Waters. Three Waters would not be the thorn in the Government’s side, had the Taxpayers’ Union not led the fight (and supporters like you making the campaign possible with substantial financial support).

Just like we did not let Nanaia Mahuta get away with Three Waters, we cannot let David Parker get away with these even more radical proposals.

We need to put so much political pressure on the Government that David Parker’s plans become a liability for Labour’s re-election prospects and are therefore scrapped by Chris Hipkins.

You can support the campaign here.

It’s not just the Taxpayers’ Union that’s opposing the proposed legislation.

The New Zealand Initiative explains how submissions expose the horrors of David Parker’s RMA reform proposals

Peter Winsley’s submission is one of those and he asks do we really need a racialised environment and resource management system?

Sandra Goudie adds her voice to those opposed.

National’s Urban Development spokesman Chris Bishop says it puts climate goals at risk and the reforms are falling apart :

And Local Government NZ says the reforms don’t guarantee a better system.

It takes a special kind of stupid to attempt to replace something bad with something worse and this legislation has managed to do that.


Groundswell Radio episode 2


Peter Williams chats to ex-farmer Derek Kirke about the Emissions Trading Scheme, Clutha Vets’ Hamish Moore about the impact on his business from farms selling to forestry, and high country farmer Geoffrey Young who is the Southern South Island candidate for Beef+Lamb NZ elections.

Kiwis backing farmers


Beef + Lamb NZ and 50 Shades of Green have launched a campaign to get Kiwis Backing Farmers:

Today, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) in conjunction with 50 Shades of Green, is launching the Kiwis Backing Farmers campaign.

The Kiwis Backing Farmers campaign will raise awareness of the overwhelming wave of environmental policies and proposals from the Government that are undermining the future of our sector.

The scale and pace of change means we’ve ended up with a lot of poorly crafted and conflicting rules that are particularly bad for sheep and beef farmers and rural communities.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins recently acknowledged that the Labour Government has gone too far, too fast and said he will make changes. We want agriculture included in that list. 

We’re calling on the Government to:

    • press pause on any new regulations like Biodiversity and Resource Management Act reform
    • urgently carry out an assessment of the cumulative impact of all these policies – it must take an integrated approach
    • urgently address the sale of sheep and beef farms into carbon farming (by putting limits in the ETS on the amount of offsetting fossil fuel emitters can do) and commit to doing this before any price on agricultural emissions is introduced
    • take a cautious approach to any price on agricultural emissions and ensure that farmers get proper recognition for the sequestration happening on their farms from trees
    • review the methane targets in line with a warming approach 
    • fix remaining essential freshwater issues, like the low slope map for stock exclusion.

We know there is widespread public support for farmers, particularly in regional New Zealand, and we want to harness this. 

The campaign was initially scheduled to build on the release of our sector’s pre-election manifesto but was delayed by Cyclone Gabrielle. 

The Kiwis Backing Farmers campaign is underpinned by a microsite at  that encourages New Zealanders to easily show their support.

The microsite features:

  • an outline of environmental policies that farmers need to be fixed, covering afforestation, climate change, biodiversity and freshwater
  • an email template that can be sent to Government Ministers asking for changes to policy settings, as well as to opposition party leaders asking them to ensure these issues are covered in their policy platforms in the lead-up to the election 
  • information about the sector’s environmental record.

Farmers can help by:

  • visiting the Kiwis Backing Farmers website at and sending an email to Ministers, and encouraging their friends, family and networks to do the same
  • sharing the campaign’s social media posts and encouraging friends, family and rural businesses to do the same – check out on Facebook and Instagram

Farmers, their families and rural communities are at the heart of the Kiwis Backing Farmers campaign and B+LNZ wants to secure changes to the unworkable and unfair policies.

Dr John Lionel Morris 9.3.42 – 26.2.23


The instigator and inaugural director of the Rabobank Executive Development Programme of Primary Producers, John Lionel Morris, has died.

My farmer did the second EDPPP and our business would not be where it was today without the influence of that course and John’s contribution to it. This would be true for the other course graduates which makes John’s contribution to, and influence on, farmers and farming on both sides of the Tasman immeasurable.

He became a close friend whose advice and company we valued.

When he retired as course director I blogged:

The retirement of Professor John Morris, the inaugural director of Rabobanks’ Executive Development Programme for Primary Producers, marks the end of an inspirational era.

The EDPPP programme started in 1999. The 15th class graduated on Thursday evening and the celebration dinner was also an opportunity to pay tribute to John.

He grew up in Canterbury and graduated from Lincoln  with a B Ag Sci. He then gained an MBA in marketing and finance from Cranfield School of Management and a PhD in food marketing from Cornell University. His business and academic career has included extensive international experience in retailing and food marketing and professorships of food marketing at leading universities.

He always retained a love of farming and rapport with farmers. Add to this a quick wit, an enviable ability to remember names and to make everyone he talked to feel valued and it would be difficult to find anyone better to start and develop the EDPPP.

Counting graduates isn’t hard – there’s been 450 of them – quantifying the positive difference the course has made on their lives and businesses would be much more difficult but there is no doubt it is significant.

Those 449 Australian and New Zealand, and one Dutch, graduates would be the first to say they and their businesses would not be where they are today without what they learned during the programme and that John played a very important role in it.

He will be missed but he won’t be forgotten. On Thursday Neil Dobbin, Group Executive Country Banking for Rabobank Australia and New Zealand announced that the award for the best project which participants complete between the programme’s two modules will now be known as the Dr John Morris prize.

He was awarded a Lincoln Alumni Medal in 2015,

The citation read:

Dr John Morris A passionate commitment towards retailing and food marketing, and the chain from producer to consumer, together with a willingness to share his experience and knowledge, sees Dr John Morris awarded the Lincoln International Alumni Medal.

The Medal is awarded to a former student, or past or current staff member, of Lincoln University who has made an outstanding contribution to their chosen field and brought credit to the University through achievements in a country other than New Zealand.

Dr Morris is director of the Institute of Food and Grocery Management in Australia. He earned a Bachelor of Agriculture Science from Lincoln College in 1964 and a Master of Agricultural Science degree in 1971, before going on to be granted an MBA from Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom and a PhD from Cornell University in the United States in 1978.

He has worked as a senior executive with Safeway Stores, in California, and has consulted with many leading retail, grocery and fresh food companies around the world. Dr Morris has been an international adviser to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the global organisation for food retailers and wholesalers, and conducted FMI operations and customer research in many countries. He was part of the Cornell University Food Executive Program in the United States for 28 years and has been a Visiting Professor of Food Industry Management at a number of international institutions, among them London University and Copenhagen University.

He has been the director of Executive Programs at Monash University and also director of the Rabobank Executive Development Program for Primary Producers. The latter, initiated and run by Dr Morris, has developed a new generation of future leaders for the New Zealand and Australian food and agriculture industry

He has had a significant beneficial impact on all facets of the food production industry— from primary production, processing and manufacturing, to retailing and international marketing. In a distinguished career over almost 50 years he has advised numerous farmers, food processors, retailers and exporters how best to develop and market their products.

Dr Morris is a proud Lincoln alumnus and has always maintained a very close association with Lincoln University, with significant input into marketing courses and seminars over many years. He places high value on the alumni network and has shown a selfless willingness to help other alumni grow their businesses.

Testimony from the letters of support to this nomination illustrate the impact Dr Morris has made, and the helping hand he has offered many. In them he is described as excelling as an educator, mentor, communicator and businessman and is respected by the myriads of people he has been involved with over many years.

Without any request for monetary gain he offered his wealth of knowledge and contacts to expand the export side of a grateful business, and a voluntary talk he gave in the 1980s to a group of senior executives on the structure of the retail food distribution industry in the United States, and how to access that market, was said to remain relevant today.

Parkinson’s disease took a huge toll on John’s body but didn’t affect his mind or his character.

He was an inspiration in so many ways, not least how he demonstrated that physical disability doesn’t have to dim your wit, interest in people or pleasure in life.

He has left the world a better place for his contribution to it.

His funeral service is taking place in Rangiora today.

It is being livestreamed :

Rural round-up


Cyclone aftermath: Keeping tabs on mental wellbeing a top priority – Country Life :

As a Cessna arrives at the aerodrome near Bridge Pa in Hastings, Bel Gunson is there to welcome the load of aid. 

Gunson, of the Rural Support Trust, is in awe of the survival mode people are in.

She explains how those in the back country were ready with barbeques, gas bottles, and water.

But of course, now those water and gas supplies are low. And being virtually cut off by communications and by road, those farmers are relying on help from the skies. . . 

Forestry waste: Slashed – Government announces inquiry, how East Coast forestry lost its social licence – Andrea Fox :

The powerful forestry lobby was marshalling its forces well ahead of the Government’s announcement there would be a ministerial inquiry into destructive forestry debris – but for storm-battered East Coasters, the Beehive is very late to something they’ve known for years.

For them, plantation forestry has not just lost its social licence – its waste has become a lethal weapon that regularly blitzes their homes, land, livelihoods and infrastructure, then drains their pockets to pay for clean-ups.

The fact that forestry is a cornerstone of the Tairāwhiti-Gisborne economy becomes a tired old song when a child dies playing in logs on your beach, your community is cut off by a broken bridge, your property looks like a war zone and you have no power or phone for days.

While local forestry companies – several of them foreign-owned – argue the debris issue is “complex”, that they’re victims of poor decisions about planting on fragile soils, made and incentivised by governments decades ago, and climate change is the real culprit, recent photos and videos of carnage-by-wood are impossible to misinterpret. . . 

Tough infrastructure calls for rural NZ as it rebuilds – Annette Scott:

Rural communities will face some tough decisions on infrastructure in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, says Infrastructure New Zealand policy director Michelle McCormick.

And infrastructure that is fit for the future will not be affordable by the government alone.

“The big question being can we build back more resilience,” she said.

“We need to, and there will be hard decisions for communities.   . .

Farmer resilience will be tested – Hayden Dillon :

Perhaps Captain Bligh’s infamous line, “the beatings will continue until morale improves”, best summed up the mood of New Zealand’s weary agribusiness sector at Fieldays last year.

While there are good things happening for farmers, there are significant headwinds to navigate for New Zealand’s most critical sector heading into 2023. This includes well-publicised rising costs, market and regulatory uncertainties and the familiar ever more acute problem of labour shortages.

While I’d love to be more upbeat, the uncomfortable reality is that we face headwinds – some of which are self-inflicted and some external. But wherever they are coming from, there are strengthening undercurrents holding the sector back.

While there is an inordinate international focus on the Ukraine situation, the big story for New Zealand lies elsewhere. China is our story because China pays our bills. If we look at that country, it is still struggling with its own internal issues, from still strictly enforcing Covid restrictions through to confidence in its own economy. . .

Sheep meat recovery not easy – Hunter McGregor :

There was relief all round when China lifted its Covid restrictions and Hunter McGregor says as the economy slowly recovers, so should demand for New Zealand sheep and lamb.

After nearly three years of ever-increasing restrictive Covid zero rules and mounting costs throughout China, something had to give. And it did. It started in Guangzhou on December 5, 2022 and five days later had spread to Shanghai. These events have significantly impacted New Zealand lamb- and sheep-meat pricing.

I had never before seen the Shanghai locals so angry and frustrated over ever-changing Covid rules and the complexity of how these rules were applied. After the Shanghai two-month lockdown in April and May 2022, you could feel the frustration growing through the rest of the year.

By late November, several large Covid outbreaks occurred in many large cities. On December 5, Guangzhou was the first city to announce, to everyone’s surprise (and relief), they were removing all of the Covid restrictions. The rest of the country quickly followed, with Shanghai on December 10. Whatever the reasons behind the change in policy, it was a massive relief to many others, and me. . . 

Seeka announces results for the year ended 31 December 2022 :

New Zealand produce company Seeka has announced a net profit after tax of $6.5 million, following a difficult year due to Covid-19 and lower yields across the industry.

Michael Franks, Seeka’s Chief Executive explained, “Seeka and its supplying growers experienced a very difficult year last year, with extreme labour shortages, shipping disruptions, lower kiwifruit yields and poor fruit quality all impacting returns.”

The 2022 season saw an industry-wide reduction in Kiwifruit yields, combined with storage performance issues, both onshore and offshore, as a direct result of the pandemic. Franks said, “Despite the challenging season, Seeka achieved an increase in revenues to $348 million reflecting newly acquired business. However, packing operations peaked during the COVID wave resulting in significant labour shortages, higher labour costs and production pressure. This combined with lower yields from the orchards impacted margins contributing to a drop in EBITDA to $46 million and a net profit after tax of $6.5 million.”

Since the 2022 harvest, Seeka has reviewed its supply chain operations from orchard to loadout and is focussed on achieving excellence in fruit handling in 2023.  . . 

Rural round-up


Forestry industry expects major changes lie ahead in wake of inquiry :

There is “no magic wand” to sort the forestry slash problem but a robust science-based inquiry may help, an industry boss says.

Eastland Wood Council chief executive Philip Hope told Morning Report the forestry industry knows change is coming and it is willing to cooperate fully with the government’s newly announced inquiry into forestry slash and land use.

The inquiry was announced on the same day 64 households were evacuated in Tokomaru Bay because of fears a debris dam formed in a river above the town could fail.

But without flow meters on the river Civil Defence have people stationed above the dam watching it with more heavy rain due for the East Coast region. . .

One step at a time for fruit growers who face uncertain future – Sally Round :

You can’t drive down Swamp Road with your car windows open. The putrid smell from silt smothering the orchards here is nauseating and as you drive you’re hit by the greyness of it all.

Instead of lush green trees popping with apples ready to be picked, branches stick out from a sea of drying mud and drooping fences laced with onions look like bizarre art installations.

It’s odd seeing big hay bales sitting wonkily among the vines. They should be together, neatly stacked.

Every few hundred metres, you pass a soggy mash of household contents on the verge – people’s lives tipped out. . . 

Clen-up underway in cyclone damaged regions as the New Zealand wine industry looks towards harvest :

The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle, and the extent of the damage to vineyards in flooded areas in the North Island, is still being assessed but clean-up is underway as winegrowers look towards this year’s harvest says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Cyclone Gabrielle has occurred on the cusp of the busiest time of year for the industry, just as the 2023 vintage is about to begin, and it is a major blow for affected growers and wineries throughout Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne. We have been working with our regional associations and government agencies to support and help them access the resources they need to ensure the future viability of their vineyards.”

As the varied extent of the damage in flooded regions becomes clearer, many winegrowers who have not been as extensively affected in these areas are moving on from the initial phase of response, and are beginning harvest.

“We have a large number of vineyards in both regions that have not been as significantly impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, and these winegrowers are beginning to harvest their crop, with many producers still feeling positive and looking forward to a high-quality vintage.” . . 

Sprightly cavalcader keeps coming back for more – Sally Rae :

“She’s an inspiration. How many 87-year-olds still can lift a saddle up, saddle up a horse and ride for a week?”

Janette Philp is referring to her mother, Alice Sinclair, who is heading off with her horse on her 30th consecutive Goldfields Cavalcade this weekend.

Legend might be an overused word these days, but it is the perfect description for the sprightly octogenarian, who does not see her achievements as anything special.

Whether it is harrowing the paddocks on her Taieri property or riding her horse, Mrs Sinclair just gets on with things, and the cavalcade has been a not-to-be missed event in her busy calendar. . . 

Wool impact and data company Fusca partner to develop strong wool price indicator :

Wool impact and data company, Fusca have partnered for the development of a strong wool price indicator.

Both organisations have recognised the need to develop a representative strong wool price indicator that provides a visible and consistent benchmark for the sector and allows them to monitor the impact of work being undertaken to drive demand and value.

Start-up Fusca has the technology to develop a commercial data platform that will provide farmers and the wool supply chain with more detailed and accurate pricing data based on the weekly wool auction and export data. Fusca’s Chief Executive and co-founder, Ryan Cosgrove, has first-hand experience in the wool sector and knows the importance of reliable and relevant data.

“We need to raise awareness of the value of wool as natural fibre, however, to increase demand and value for wool, we need to better understand what the drivers for value are and be able to monitor these. . .

Tommerup Dairy farm named in Farmer of the Year Awards :

Twenty Jersey Cows. That’s all it took for Kay and Dave Tommerup to take an enormous leap of faith and believe their farm in the Kerry Valley in Queensland’s Scenic Rim could stand alone as a place of extraordinary, independent produce and experiences.

It was a big leap. But fortunately, it paid off. 

They put their business faith, and their family’s future into 20 beautiful, brown-eyed Jersey cows that produce the richest milk. Milk where the cream floats to the top and sits there like a crown.

It’s milk from which Kay makes hand-rolled butter infused with red gum smoked salt that’s demanded by top chefs and spoken of in hushed tones of secrecy across countess commercial kitchens. . . 


Rural round-up


Cyclone Gabrielle: On the ground in Hawkes Bay :

Napier and Hastings are urban centres but the communities that surround them are rural. The bay area is renowned for its vineyards, orchards and farms. The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on this highly productive land has been immense, and restoring these farming areas will take years.

Kev Mitchell from the Rural Support Trust gazes out onto the hills around State Highway 5.

He’s looking at the damage from the catastrophic Cyclone Gabrielle which ripped apart much of Hawkes Bay.

“Well I know all of these landowners and farmers here personally and this is just soul destroying, seeing the way their farms and farm infrastructure has been wrecked,” he says. . .

Hawkes Bay’s grapes of wrath – Bonnie Sumner :

The Hawkes Bay wine industry, along with other primary producers in the area, faces a long road to recovery after Cyclone Gabrielle. Bonnie Sumner talks to a vineyard manager about why some local wines will be short supply for years to come.

Ben Poulter from Sacred Hill reckons wine growers in Hawkes Bay have lost around 500 hectares of grapes to Cyclone Gabrielle.

He stresses that’s not an official number – it’s hard to say when anyone can make that estimation given the destruction in the region. But it seems a fair guess, and it’s a number being bandied about a lot by those in the local industry.

“I don’t know if that’s 500 hectares that has been wiped out – or because you can’t harvest them because they’ve got contamination.” . . 

Policy on forestry slash – Paul L. :

The recent floods have highlighted (again) the problem of forestry slash. It seems only a couple of years ago that there was a washout on the Napier – Taupo highway because of a bridge blocked then blown out by forestry slash. There was talk in the media, then no action.

I see again talk on twitter about this being a problem, but mostly in the context of blaming forestry or blaming global warming. I haven’t seen proposed solutions.

This post proposes a two part potential solution.

Let’s start with the problem. We have lots of pine forests because govt policy encourages them in many situations as compared to alternative farming. Those forests need to be harvested to provide an income both to their owners, but also to the country as a whole. We’re ultimately an agricultural country, and our farmland needs to remain productive. . . 

Pure Advantage calls for a complete pause in government incentives for exotic tree planting :

On the back of the Prime Minister’s enquiry into plantation slash, Pure Advantage is calling for a complete pause in all Government incentives for exotic tree planting in Aotearoa.

Pure Advantage Chair Rob Morrison says we have seen horrific damage caused by exotic plantation slash and other debris. Lives and homes have been lost, critical public infrastructure has been destroyed, and highly productive agricultural and horticultural land has been washed away or buried.

“Slash has been recognised as a major contributor to the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle, most of this has come from the mismanaged exotic tree plantations in the surrounding areas. The Government has incentivised these exotic plantations and is now paying the price for maximising the short-term returns without thinking about long-term consequences.”

Pure Advantage wants an immediate pause to all Government incentives for planting exotic trees like pinus radiata during its enquiry into slash. . . 

Fonterra revises fy23 forecast farmgate milk price and collections :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd today reduced and narrowed its 2022/23 season forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from $8.50 – $9.50 per kgMS, with a midpoint of $9.00, to NZ$8.20 – $8.80 per kgMS, with a midpoint of $8.50.

At the same time, Fonterra updated its forecast milk collections for the 2022/23 season to 1,465 million kgMS, down from its previous forecast of 1,480 million kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the revised forecast Farmgate Milk Price range reflects softened demand at a time of balanced supply.

“Demand for Whole Milk Powder, particularly from Greater China, has been soft with prices down around 5% since the beginning of December.  . .

Delegat hits record wine sales in half-year result :

Delegat Group has released its interim results today, announcing an operating profit of $40.2 million for the six months ending December 2022, a 2% increase from the previous corresponding half year.

The Group recorded operating revenue of $198.8 million after achieving record global case sales of 1.97 million cases over the six-month period. Managing Director Steven Carden said these were pleasing half-year results for the NZX-listed company.

“While there remain ongoing global economic pressures, Delegat Group’s strategy of expanding its winery and vineyard assets, combined with significant investment in in-market distribution and its brands, continues to pay off,” Carden said. “During the half-year Delegat Group purchased a previously leased vineyard in Marlborough for $39.9 million and invested $30.8 million in new vineyard developments and winery expansion to provide for future revenue and earnings growth.”

Revenue is up $20.1 million on the same period due to the increase in global case sales, including an 18% increase in USA and Canada markets, and the favourable impact of foreign exchange. . . 

Delivering local water well


Which is better: a top-down policy that takes locally owned assets and control and adds several expensive and unaccountable layers of bureaucracy or a policy that leaves ownership and control with locals?

The centralised model is the government’s formerly Three Waters, now five.

The alternative is National’s plan to replace the government’s Three Five Waters policy and deliver local water well:

A National Government will scrap Labour’s undemocratic and unworkable Three Waters model and replace it with a sustainable system that ensures drinking water, stormwater and wastewater remain in local control, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“The sub-standard status quo where pipes are too often allowed to fail, creating pollution, wastage and massive bills for ratepayers, will not be allowed to continue under a National Government,” Mr Luxon says.

“But the answer is not Labour’s unpopular Three Waters scheme that the Government has pushed through Parliament. It will take assets off local communities, transferring them to  four mega-entities that no-one asked for, no-one wants and that have mandatory co-governance.

“Instead, a National Government will set and enforce strict water quality standards and require councils to invest in the ongoing maintenance and replacement of their vital water infrastructure, while keeping control of the assets that their ratepayers have paid for.

National will: 

  • Repeal Three Waters and scrap the four co-governed mega-entities
  • Restore council ownership and control
  • Set strict rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure
  • Ensure water services are financially sustainable

“Under National, councils will be required to demonstrate a clear plan to deliver ongoing investment in water infrastructure. Those plans will need to be approved by the Minister of Local Government.

“While water quality regulator Taumata Arowai will set strict standards for water quality, National will establish a Water Infrastructure Regulator within the Commerce Commission to set and enforce standards for long-term water infrastructure investment.

“Councils will be required to ringfence money for water infrastructure and not spend it on other services instead.

This is in effect auditing local bodies for their water infrastructure in much the same was as their finances are audited.

The reason that some council’s water infrastructure is well below standard is because it’s been too easy for them to spend on nice-to-haves rather than the basics.

“National’s plan supports greater access for councils to long-term borrowing, which is an appropriate way to fund long-life water infrastructure. One way to improve access to borrowing would be for neighbouring councils to form Regional Council Controlled Organisations. Ultimately, it is up to the councils but we would envisage it is likely a number of regional groups will emerge to deliver better water services.

“Financial sustainability will enable the long-term investment in infrastructure that will deliver the quality drinking water, cleaner rivers and swimmable beaches that New Zealanders want and expect.

“Resilient, well-maintained, future-proofed modern infrastructure will also mean communities can better cope with mounting pressures due to climate change and accommodate housing growth that is currently being stymied by a lack of infrastructure like wastewater and stormwater services.

“Under National, water stays in local hands and investment in water infrastructure is secured so that New Zealanders can be sure their water is safe and affordable.”

This policy is what most councils have wanted and will retains local ownership, control and accountability.

It sets standards, ensures they are adhered to and that water services are financially sustainable.

It will be far less expensive than Labour’s multi-layered and overly bureaucratic policy.

The party’s policy document is here

It has the approval of the Taxpayers’ Union:

National’s ‘Local Water Done Well’ alternative to Three Waters is bang on what the Taxpayers’ Union and local councils have been calling for. It meets the Taxpayers’ Union’s red lines of respecting property rights, retaining community control, ensuring local accountability, giving councils the ability to opt into shared models of their choosing, and the efficient delivery of water services.

“This policy is almost identical to the model developed by Communities 4 Local Democracy, which the Taxpayers’ Union has been promoting,” said Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams.

“This is a serious challenge to Chris Hipkins who has said he wants to ‘refocus’ Three Waters. Here is the solution.”

“Three Waters will mean higher waters costs, more bureaucracy, no local control, and less democracy. Poll after poll has shown that the reforms face overwhelming opposition from Kiwis.”

“But everyone accepts that doing nothing is not an option. Now the Government can not claim ‘there is no alternative’.”

“This alternative to Three Waters is now a consensus among the Taxpayers’ Union, 31 provincial councils, the Mayors of our two largest cities, and the opposition National Party. There is just one more person to convince: Mr Hipkins.” 

Labour’s centralisation hasn’t worked for polytechs. Its expensive reorganisation of the health system has done nothing for patients or the workforce.

Its Five Waters plan is expensive, overly bureaucratic and undemocratic.

And Councils say it would erode flood response:

Local authorities claim the government’s water reforms will rob them of civil defence capacity

A West Coast council that has previously supported the government’s Three Waters reforms is now raising the alarm over changes it says will undermine civil defence – and its finances.

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine says under the new Water Services Entities Act his council is set to lose the services of more than 20 staff who play vital roles in flood emergencies.

The staff are employed by WestReef Services, a trading subsidiary of the council-controlled organisation (CCO) Buller Holdings, and make up about 20 percent of its workforce.

The act – passed in December – requires the transfer of CCO staff and assets to the regional water entities just as it does of councils that directly manage their water services. . . 

Westland Mayor Helen Lash says her council’s CCO, Westroads, manages all the council’s infrastructure and has staff stationed up and down the coast.

“When there’s an emergency they handle everything. They share machinery, they keep the roads open. They’re not just about water.

“This is the thing the government hasn’t thought about. You take those guys out and we’re all in trouble.”

Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson says under council management, protection work before a potential flood starts well before the event.

“We don’t have a CCO so our guys in the office are the ones who know to call out the crews to raise the flood gates, check pumping systems and so on.”

The workers’ new employer, the South Island water entity, is likely to be based in Christchurch, which could complicate communication and potentially the timeliness of and emergency response on the West Coast, Gibson says.

Cleine agrees.

“In our case, when there’s a forecast event like the recent Westport floods, WestReef calls on all its staff, not just the water guys, to monitor river levels, clear stormwater drains, fill sand bags, build emergency bunds – it’s all hands on deck.

“If the water staff are isolated in a separate business it‘ll be harder to integrate our response.” . . 

The new PM has said it will be reviewed but that is not good enough.

National’s plan is far better and gives voters a real choice at the election – a party that respects local control, local ownership, and democracy and Labour that doesn’t.

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