Still not kind enough

20/04/2021

The government is giving some long overdue relief to migrant families who have been separated for more than a year:

National is pleased a solution has finally been found for some of the migrants split from their families after the Government forced them to endure more than a year of distress and uncertainty, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“News that many migrants, including our critical nurses and health workers, will finally get to hug their children and partners will be an enormous relief to them.

“New Zealand is critically short of nurses and is undertaking the biggest vaccination programme in living memory, so it’s reassuring that migrant nurses caught by a policy anomaly can now stay here and be reunited with their families.

“We can’t afford to lose the highly-skilled migrants who fill gaps in our workforce that we can’t otherwise fill. They are our doctors, our engineers, our tech experts, and our children’s mathematics teachers – we desperately need them in this country.

We need them and they need their families.

“While National welcomes today’s announcement, which is clearly the right thing to do, it is a shame the Government only acted after intense and sustained pressure from the Opposition, the media and split migrant family advocates.

“It should not have taken nurses shedding tears on the 6pm news night after night, having been separated from their babies, for the Government to act after it ignored them for months.

“Today’s move is a good start, but there is more to do. This decision won’t cover many families whose visas were being processed but had not yet been approved.

“Families still left in limbo will be deeply disappointed the Immigration Minister did not give them a roadmap to reunification.

“This overdue announcement, coming after months of pressure, shows the Labour Government does not have a clear plan for our immigration settings.

“National will continue to closely scrutinise the Government’s immigration and border response, and will continue to be the party that values and speaks up for our migrants.” 

The government is acting on its be-kind mantra, albeit belatedly, but it is not yet being kind enough.

Too many families won’t qualify for this and there are a lot of businesses desperate for workers who still can’t get them through the border.

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them.

“When the labour shortage expired last Friday, we laid off 22 staff,” he said. “There simply aren’t the tourist numbers by the time you get into April to find those people [again].” . . 

Fruit growers further south are facing the same problem:

Central Otago’s horticulture sector fears fruit may be left to rot if a labour shortage isn’t filled soon.

The region is suffering from a lack of the usual seasonal workers from the Pacific because of Covid-19 border restrictions.

Many locals who filled in for the summer fruit harvest have left for university or jobs elsewhere.

With the borders creaking open with the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble last week, horticulturists are calling for a Pacific bubble to follow.

Wine grower James Dicey said this year’s vintage would be an expensive one.

“We’ve scrapped through by the skin of our teeth,” he said, of the difficulty of finding workers to pick grapes.

“It’s going to cost us a lot more – not only the minimum wage increase, but the loss of productivity we’ve had has been a double bite. I’ve had to put extra vans on, find accommodation for staff, go to a huge extra level just to make sure we are able to secure the people we need.”

Orchards and vineyards would pay the cost of getting foreign workers into MIQ, if that was an option, but the risk was so low from the Pacific workers should just be let in, Dicey said. 

The five main countries which supplied seasonal workers – known as RSE – had few or no cases of Covid. . . 

It’s not just added stress and loss income for the businesses, less fruit and vegetables picked means less to sell. That will result in less export income for the country and higher prices for households here.

The government needs to reassess its priorities when the cast and crew of The Lion King have been allowed in but the workers needed to pick fruit and vegetables aren’t.

Its current policy is not nearly kind enough.


Rural round-up

19/04/2021

Winter colony loss rates climb – Richard Rennie:

Beehive losses over winter have continued to show an insidious lift in numbers as the industry seeks out more answers on what is afflicting queen bee populations.

Latest survey data has found winter colony loss rates in New Zealand have lifted 10% on last year to afflict 11% of hives, in a continuing upward trend. The losses have crept upwards over the past few years with 2015 losses reported at 8%.

But Apiculture New Zealand Science and Research Focus Group chair Barry Foster says the rate remains comfortably below that of countries like the United States with a winter loss rate of 22%, and an international average loss rate across participating countries of 17%.

“It is hard to draw a real conclusion as to what the exact cause is, but the hard data is that it is largely due to problems with queen bees, along with varroa mite,” Foster said, . . 

B+LNZ seeks region-based slope maps – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is calling on the Government to replace its low-slope stock exclusion map and stocking regulations with a region by region approach.

The map and associated stock exclusion rules were introduced last August as part of the Essential Freshwater regulations but have been deemed unworkable by farmers and farming groups.

Encouraged by the Government’s recognition that the intensive winter grazing rules needed modifying, B+LNZ is seeking the low-slope map to be replaced, saying it is inaccurate and unworkable, and stocking rules should be set regionally.

“Our position has been clear all along,” chief executive Sam McIvor said. . . 

Live export ban wrecks a growing industry – Mike Hosking:

Damien O’Connor has added another industry this Government has destroyed to its growing list.

Live animal exports are done.

While telling us it wouldn’t hurt our GDP, and despite admitting it’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars – he did concede there had been a bit of a “gold rush” of late.

That’s spin for “the industry is growing”. There is increasing demand for it, and in general I thought gold rushes were good. . .

Dairy farm trials app letting staff choose hours they want to work

A Mid-Canterbury dairy farm that is offering staff flexible work hours is seeing major benefits from the change.

Align Farms is trialling an app which lets staff to book in the hours they want to work.

Chief executive Rhys Roberts said a set number of people are needed for milking, but the app gives much more flexibility than a traditional roster where they are on deck from 4.30am until 5pm but only get paid for 10 hours because of meal breaks.

The new system allowed for a 9 hour paid workday in 9 hours. Freeing up 3 and a half hours. . . 

Business plan hatched to keep 320,000 hens in 139ha forest :

A South Waikato free-range egg company is setting up a new model of business – creating a forest for its hens to live in

The 139 hectare property will produce eggs under the Heyden Farms Free Range brand for egg producer and supplier Better Eggs Limited.

Developing over the next five years it will home 320,000 laying hens with eight laying sheds amongst 90,000 native and exotic trees.

Better Eggs chief executive Gareth van der Heyden said it was a whole new way of poultry farming in New Zealand that would enable the hens to live in a natural environment while producing eggs in a sustainable manner. . . 

In the Know – A New Mental Health Program for Farmers :

In the Know is a mental health literacy program developed at the Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph) created specifically to educate the agricultural community. With support from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, several CMHA branches in rural and agricultural communities offer this training.

The four-hour mental health literacy workshop is designed to fit with farmers/producers limited availability owing to rigid daily schedules, distilling critical information and incorporating agricultural community culture. The workshop was developed in collaboration with stakeholder groups, including various agricultural sectors, mental health literacy trainers, government and representatives from social work, psychology, epidemiology, and education.

In the Know is meant for farmers, producers and persons with whom they have regular contact. This may include, but is not limited to, family members, peers and allies in the agricultural industry such as veterinarians, breeders, seed or feed salespeople, financial institutions, accountants or community members who have direct contact with farm owners/operators. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

17/04/2021

Orchard staff may head west – Jared Morgan:

The lure of a transtasman bubble and a reinvigorated hospitality sector may lead backpackers away from Central Otago orchards and vineyards, industry leaders warn.

For a sector already faced with critical labour shortages, the consequences of that could be dire if the long-awaited travel bubble opens as scheduled on Monday.

With hopes of recognised seasonal employer workers from the Pacific being allowed into New Zealand in time to complete the 2020-21 season evaporating, the loss of backpackers before the season was complete would strike another blow.

Seasonal Solutions chief executive Helen Axby said the loss of backpackers to the warmer climes of Australia was a real possibility. . . 

Agrichemicals are a lifesaver – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Many experts regard agrichemicals as a lifesaver and they have the facts to back it up. However, this doesn’t stop people’s concern over their use, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Chemicals used in agriculture are termed “agrichemicals”. They are also called “agrochemicals” which sounds worse.

But while a few people rant about their existence, many experts regard them as just as much of a lifesaver as, for instance, the development of antibiotics and vaccines.

A series of articles published by geneticliteracyproject.org (a website with the strapline “science not ideology”) presents facts clearly. . .

 

Making the most of a move south – Rebecca Ryan:

Life is a balancing act for Celia Van Kampen. The Oamaru vet tells Rebecca Ryan how she successfully fits her busy sporting schedule in around her work.

What’s your background?  Where are you from?

I grew up in the Hawke’s Bay as one of four kids. I went to school at Taikura Rudolf Steiner School, then studied veterinary science at Massey University in Palmerston North, graduating in 2018, then I moved straight from studying down here. I have been working at the Veterinary Centre Oamaru for just over a year and a half. I started in January 2019.

Had you always wanted to be a vet?
I was quite young when I decided that becoming a vet was a good idea. I can’t remember exactly what my reasons were then, but as I got closer to finishing school I liked that being a vet you got to work with lots of different species, the challenge of trying to work out what was wrong and fix it. Now, I really enjoy the variation of getting outside and work with farmers, but also small animals case work-ups and surgery. . . 

Calling NZ Agtech, Food Tech And Food And Beverage Startups: Applications Are Open For Rabobank’s FoodBytes! Pitch 2021 :

Rabobank is kicking off the 2021 Pitch programme for FoodBytes!, the bank’s global food and agriculture innovation platform, which drives connections and collaboration between startups, corporate leaders,investors and farmers to implement solutions to food system challenges.

From now until Sunday 16 May, Kiwi agtech, food tech and consumer food and beverage startups are invited to apply for selection to present at the global virtual pitch competition in November.

FoodBytes! Pitch is an annual multi-week programme helping food and agriculture startups from throughout the world validate and grow their businesses, and their impact, through global industry exposure, tailored mentorship sessions, connection with corporates and investors, pitch refinement, industry awareness and recognition. . . 

Fieldays Innovations forecasting the future of the primary sector :

Entries are open for the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards, that have been refined to clearly represent the innovation lifecycle, resulting in three award categories: Prototype, Early Stage, and Growth & Scale.

Fieldays Innovations Event Manager, Gail Hendricks, says “ its no surprise that innovation has become a top priority for businesses, especially for primary industries in terms of providing sustainable and productive solutions that drive economic progress.

The Fieldays Innovation Awards entries will be on display in the new and enhanced Fieldays Innovation Hub, where entrants can test their innovation and connect with potential customers, industry professionals, investors, and corporate decision makers. In the Innovation Hub, Fieldays visitors will be able to tangibly experience the phases of innovation lifecycle represented by the three award categories.

Sheep assemble into mysterious ‘flock circles’ in Rottingdeam – Harry Bullmore:

WE’VE all heard of crop circles, and the many theories behind them.

Aliens and pranksters are among the explanations given for the intricate patterns which appear in fields and leave farmers scratching their heads.

However, in Sussex, there appears to be a new natural phenomenon – flock circles.

University lecturer Chris Hogg was cycling through the South Downs, behind Rottingdean, when he saw hundreds of sheep arranged into a series of concentric circles on a hillside. . .

 


30 Harvests

17/04/2021

Rural round-up

16/04/2021

Feds: live export ban ‘surprising’ – Simon Edwards:

The government’s announcement this morning that live export of animals will be banned after a transition period of up to two years has come as a surprise to Federated Farmers, Feds animal welfare spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“The Minister has said this is all about protecting New Zealand’s reputation as the most ethical producer of food in the world.

“Those farmers who support livestock exports would point out our trade in this sector operates to some of the highest animal welfare standards anywhere – standards that were further bolstered after last year’s Heron Report,” Wayne said.

“Our farmers care deeply about animal welfare. The government has seen fit to bring in this ban but Federated Farmers has no information about any breaches of the high standards relating to livestock exports.” . . 

Better safe than sorry – Ross Nolly:

Health and safety on the farm is an obligation which many farmers are meeting but an online tool is helping to simplify their recording practices.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And never is that saying truer than when it comes to Health and Safety (H&S) protocols on a farm.

Being proactive with H&S is always better than reactive and can potentially save you money. But more importantly, it could save a life or prevent a serious injury to family and employees on the farm.

With this in mind, Megan Owen started her business Orange Cross. Created by farmers for farmers, it is a tool to help farmers fulfil their H&S obligations. She and husband Jason are 50:50 sharemilkers on a 185ha dairy farm near Hamilton, Waikato, where they milk 520 cows. . . 

Dairy not sold on CCC advice – Neal Wallace:

The Climate Change Commission is being overly optimistic by claiming dairy farmers can produce the same volume of milk from less cows and in the process generate less methane, says DairyNZ.

The commission suggests a 15% reduction in farmed livestock numbers below 2018 levels is possible without compromising production due to improved animal performance, enabling biogenic methane targets to be met without new technology.

It claims farmers can run fewer cows on less land yet achieve the same or more milksolids per cow, generating less methane per kilogram of milksolids.

DairyNZ disagrees. . . 

Still trialling, despite his 80-plus years – Toni Williams:

Elder statesman Harvey Eggleston is the oldest member of the Mayfield Collie Club.

Mr Eggleston (82) was at Hakatere Station, in the Mid Canterbury high country, last month to celebrate the club’s centennial dog trial event.

He has been with the club 34 years but has a 60-year history in dog trials, having earlier been involved with the Oxford Collie Club.

He and wife Annette were seeking the sun when they moved from a 283ha sheep and beef farm at View Hill, near Oxford, to farm firstly at Valetta in Mid Canterbury, then to a sheep and beef farm, with dairy grazing, at Alford Forest. . . 

Horizons decision on Plan Change 2 brings certainty for farmers – Simon Edwards:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are pleased the Horizons Regional Council has adopted the recommendations of the Independent Hearing Panel for Proposed Plan Change 2.

“This gives some certainty for farmers who have been in limbo,” Federated Farmers National President and Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard says.

“Importantly, PC2 is an interim measure, intended to address the pressing issue about the One Plan’s workability while a more fundamental, region-wide work programme is completed to give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.” . . 

Study shows consumers view ag as part of the solution to climate change :

When it comes to climate change, consumers view agriculture as a part of the solution rather than the problem. Among participants in Cargill’s recent global Feed4Thought survey, those who indicated climate change as important to them also rated livestock and agriculture lowest in negative impact compared with other industries generally regarded as significant contributors. More than one-third of respondents expressed confidence in the industry’s ability to limit its contributions to climate change.    

“Farmers are critical to feeding the world sustainably and responsibly,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, who leads Cargill’s animal nutrition & health business. “With a growing population and rising consumer interest in climate change, they are also part of the solution to address some of the toughest environmental challenges. At Cargill, our focus continues to be advocating for farmers by supporting and amplifying efforts to reduce their environmental footprint, methane emissions and, in turn, climate impact.”

Cargill’s Feed4Thought survey included responses from 2,510 consumers representing the U.S., France, South Korea, and Brazil. From among all participants, transportation and deforestation were ranked as the greatest contributors to climate change. According to consumers surveyed, who’s most responsible for accelerating change? Fifty-nine percent said that federal and national governments bear the highest responsibility for addressing climate change, while 57 percent saw companies involved in beef production and 50 percent saw cattle farmers as responsible for reducing the impact of livestock. . . 


Rural round-up

15/04/2021

We just can’t leave it to beaver – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The lucky country is New Zealand.

We have water in abundance. It falls out of the sky and flows out to the sea. It is termed ‘renewable’.

A series of reports from Berl (Business Economics and Research Ltd) make the abundance clear: New Zealand has about twice the quantity of freshwater on its area than United Kingdom, and about four times that of China and the United States of America. On average, New Zealand receives about twenty times the volume of freshwater per square kilometre of area than does ‘unlucky’ Australia.

Per head of population, the figures indicate luxury – far more water per person than is needed to support a population with a mixed economy and a relatively high standard of living. Berl has calculated that New Zealand receives over 24 times the amount of water per person than France, for instance. . . 

Wāhine workers: Changing the face of forestry – Carmen Hall:

Some didn’t get out of the van. Others lasted a day. Some made it through the week. Two originals remain.

Welcome to Truedy Taia’s world. She is the crew manager for an all-female team that work for Mahi Rakau Forest Management – an initiative that became a reality in 2019.

Today the women are out the back of Kawerau with the Tarawera mountain ranges in the distance.

Taia is trudging out of the forest, the back of her hand wipes sweat from her brow as she stamps on bramble and navigates her way through rotting logs and debris. . . 

Agromining: Farming of metal-extracting trees and plants could replace mining :

When scientist Alan Baker made a cut in the side of an exotic plant in the Philippines jungle, the sap that bled out had a jade-green glow.

The shrub was a newly discovered species, soon to be known as Phyllanthus Balgooyi, one of a rare variety of plants that naturally suck high amounts of metallic elements from the soil.

The fluorescent sap turned out to be 9 percent nickel.

It was a welcome finding, but not a surprise, as Professor Baker’s research into so-called “hyperaccumulators” had already uncovered species that seemed to thrive on everything from cobalt to zinc, and even gold. . .

Southern hop growers find ready local market – Sally Rae:

When thinking of hop-growing regions in New Zealand, Garston doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

But an enterprising Southland farming family believes there is great potential in the area — and a craft brewery up the road in Queenstown reckon they are on to a good thing.

The McNamee family first planted hops on their Garston property in 2016. The family has been on the land for more than 140 years and farms mostly sheep and crops.

While having a beer with a mate one day, James McNamee started thinking about how craft brewers in New Zealand were struggling to get New Zealand-produced hops and he thought it was a shame that beer was being made with imported hops. . .

Former Mataura mill to manufacture hemp – Sandy Eggleston:

Growing therapeutic hemp could be a “home run” for Southland farmers, Southern Medicinal managing director Greg Marshall says.

The Dunedin company is setting up a hemp propagating and manufacturing business in the former Mataura Paper Mill.

Mr Marshall said trials showed hemp was a good crop to plant in wet areas of farms and could be part of farmers’ riparian planting plans.

“It sucks up nutrients, it becomes a barrier to stop nitrate flowing into the waterways, it sucks up carbon … it reduces pollution,” Mr Marshall said. . .

Agroecology in Africa: Silver bullet or pathway to poverty? – Joseph Opoku Gakpo:

A model of agroecology that limits farming inputs in Africa to solely indigenous materials is meeting resistance from farmers and others who worry it will most likely force even more people on the continent into poverty and hunger.

“The agroecology promoters will use terms like indigenous foods, indigenous crops, indigenous everything. Like we want to exclude new varieties that are coming. But even the corn we eat today is not from Africa. It’s from America,” observed Pacifique Nshimiyimana, a young farmer and agricultural enterpreneur from Rwanda.

“Corn has been here for many generations,” he noted. “And the varieties my grandma had are no longer responsive to today’s climate situation. This means we need to adapt to new seeds that are resilient to climate change.” . .


Rural round-up

14/04/2021

Time to listen – Rural News:

Now that submissions have formally closed on the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) draft recommendations, released in February, on reducing NZ’s emissions profile, will it actually listen and act on the advice it has received?

It is not hard to get cynical about so-called ‘consultation’. With this Government – more often than not – it is merely a box-ticking exercise, with little or no real changes made to its overall political objective.

One only has to look at its freshwater legislation and the negligible changes it made to this following ‘industry consultation’, for the country’s farmers to be rightfully nervouse about what regulations will be imposed upon them in the emissions reductions space.

The CCC’s draft advice recommended – among a plethora of changes across the economy – the Government should adopt measures that would hugely reduce livestock number on farms and see more good farmland planted in trees. . .

Hitting our target – Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace:

The Climate Change Commission is suggesting we need to reduce livestock numbers by up to 15% to enable agriculture to meet its methane emission targets. This week the Farmers Weekly begins a series looking at the implications of such a drop and what options are available.

A 15% reduction in livestock numbers may be the only way to meet tough new methane targets being recommended by the Climate Change Commission as there is no silver bullet yet available.

Researchers are working on breeding, farm systems and feed technology and the impact of new nitrogen limits will help, but the consensus is it will be tough to meet the commission’s 15.9% reduction by 2035 without some lowering of stock numbers. 

The commission claims that better feeding, breeding and land use change to horticulture, exotic and native forestry, will see farm livestock numbers fall 15% below 2018 levels by 2030, enabling biogenic methane targets to be met without new technology. . .

Local farmers grow quality wheat but most of us aren’t eating it. Here’s why – Bonnie Flaws:

Wheat farmers are some of most productive in the world but the vast majority of it is sold for animal feed while the bread we eat is made using imported Australian flour.

That was not always the case. Historically the country produced its own grain for baked products and not that long ago there were 30 or 40 mills across the country. Going back further there were hundreds of mills, according to the book, Flour Milling in New Zealand.

The country was self-sufficient in wheat production until government control of the industry under the Wheat Board ended in 1987, and led to imports by the mid-1990s.

The Foundation for Arable Research chief executive Alison Stewart said like many other industries, consolidation took its toll and big companies with economies of scale took over milling. . .

Spirit’s are up for makers of NZ’s first tequila – Country Life:

Golden Bay is a long way from home for the agave plant, a native of Latin America and most commonly found in Mexico.

Terry Knight is growing several thousand to produce top-shelf tequila at his Kiwi spirit distillery at Motupipi.

His plantation of Weber’s blue agave tequilana is the only plant stock and plantation in New Zealand.

Terry’s agave adventure started 20 years ago when he bought some seeds from a friend, who got them from a private collection in France. . .

Northland peanut farmers toast to Pic’s growth deal :

It’s crunch time in Northland for a pioneering peanut crop which government agencies hope could provide a viable product for the area.

Most people know the Kaipara region as kumara country, but things are changing. While in recent years there’s been a lot more dairy, things are now starting to look downright nutty.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has teamed up with the makers of Pic’s Peanut Butter to trial growing peanuts near Dargaville.

The hope is to create a totally homegrown peanut product – a perfect addition to toasts across the country. . .

New Countryside Code falls short on sheep worrying :

Sheep farmers have criticised the new Countryside Code for placing little recognition on the rising problem of irresponsible dog ownership and livestock worrying.

Changes in the guidance issued by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales include information on walking only on footpaths and not feeding livestock.

But the National Sheep Association (NSA) says not enough attention has been given to the issue of sheep worrying and out-of-control dogs.

Farmers have suffered an increase in attacks by dogs over the past year, as dog ownership has increased and walking in rural areas has become one of the few activities to be enjoyed during lockdown. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/04/2021

Red meat retreat – Neal Wallace:

This year’s prime lamb production is headed to be the lowest on record, reflecting low farmer confidence, and could result in fewer ewe numbers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is warning.

The number of lambs likely to be processed this season is estimated at 18.2 million, a drop of 4.5%, or 900,000, compared to 2019-20, with total export production of 347,600 tonnes bone-in.

“This will be the lowest lamb production on record. Confidence in the industry is subdued,” the B+LNZ report said.

“Farm gate prices have eased from recent high levels, farmers are wary of the volatility of weather events and environmental regulation is weighing heavily on morale. Forestry is also spreading into sheep farming land. . .

Bills on tax creep and sound law-making deserve public debate – Feds:

A government committed to fairness and responsible law-making should not allow two bills recently drawn from the Member’s Ballot to sink without debate, Federated Farmers says.

“At the very least the Regulatory Standards Bill and the Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill deserve to go to select committee for examination and public submissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

The Regulatory Standards Bill would require any proposed legislation to be subject to clear analysis of the problem the legislation is aimed at solving, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of expected outcomes and adequate consultation with affected parties.

“Quite frankly with such requirements, the Essential Freshwater legislation and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – to name just two recent examples – would not have got through as written,” Andrew said. . . 

Resting in fleece – Annette Scott:

Choosing an end of life in wool has become a popular option as woollen caskets take off in New Zealand.

Ten years ago when Polly and Ross McGuckin launched Natural Legacy woollen caskets in NZ the idea struggled to gain traction.

“We were seen as eco warriors, there wasn’t the interest then, I was flogging a dead horse, but now people are waking up, the public is listening and the table is turning,” Polly McGuckin said.

“The world is changing and funeral homes want to do the right thing by being eco-friendly and sustainable – it’s a lot easier to talk about wool now, every year we are seeing interest grow. . . .

Love of the land a Shaw thing:

Farm Environment Plans are not just about cows, grass and other farm management practices, says Ross Shaw – they are an integral part of any farmer’s connection to the land.

Shaw, along with wife Karla and parents Jim and Helen, have a deep and strongly held philosophy about the land. That dovetails with his recent enthusiastic embrace of a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) – one of the many compulsory (by 2025) calls on farmers’ time and wallets in order to improve nutrient management and reduce farming’s impact on water quality.

Jim and Helen Shaw bought the Reporoa property 36 years ago when it was 62 hectares and with 150 cows; it’s now 400ha, with many more cows and farmed, for the last 13 years, with Ross and Karla.

It is also the subject of a long-held family belief in multi-generational farming and what that means in terms of custodianship of the land: “We are like most New Zealand farmers – we want to be here for multi-generations,” Ross says.  “We were farming in our own right [before joining up with his parents] and our kids will be the third generation on this farm. . . 

Relief in Australia as welcome mat goes out for New Zealand shearers – Sally Murphy:

Australian farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as much needed New Zealand shearers will now be able to travel over for their busy spring season.

Covid-19 border closures have meant nearly 500 New Zealand shearers who normally travel to Australia to help out have been unable to.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said it’s been tough going with farmers paying almost double per sheep to have them shorn.

“It’s been really tough and there’s been months of delays. The standard rate over here for shearing a sheep is $A3.24 [$NZ3.51] but now in New South Wales which has about 40 percent of the country’s sheep it’s hard to get a shear for under $A3.72. . . 

China trade tactics didn’t hurt AUstralia as anticipated – Jamieson Murphy:

CHINA’S aggressive trade tariffs have cost the Australian economy millions of dollars, but the damage isn’t anywhere nearly as bad as originally anticipated, according to leading think tank economists.

Across the affected commodities, trade to China is down about 78 per cent. But the trade sanctions took place against the backdrop of COVID-19 which “significantly clouds the picture”, Lowy Institute lead economist Roland Rajah said. 

Nonetheless, one can parse the evidence to arrive at some conclusions and it would seem the impact has in fact been quite limited,” Mr Rajah said.

“Exports to China have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets.”. . .


Rural round-up

12/04/2021

A victory for common sense – Alan Emmerson:

My views on the original wintering rules are well known. Basically, the original system, the Essential Freshwater Rules on winter grazing, were unworkable and promulgated by a bureaucracy without any knowledge of rural issues.

It was obvious at the start that the rules wouldn’t work, but the civil servants continued at pace.

The Southland farmers protested, backed by the local council.

Then Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage labelled them irresponsible. I’d have called them realistic. I remain unconvinced that Sage has any idea of the practicalities of farming despite the nation relying on the ag sector for its prosperity. I’d have said the same for her department. . . 

Native forestry good for environment and climate – Paul Quinlan:

The Climate Change Commission says NZ should plant 300,000ha of new permanent native forests by 2035, but indigenous forestry advocates argue we should go much further in harvesting indigenous timber.

Nature-based forestry is ‘a blend between art, culture, and science’, where forests are managed on a continuous cover basis and allowed to reach their full potential in terms of the holistic services they can provide, including timber. Harnessing the power of markets is suggested as an effective way to shift land-use towards more natural forest management.

Last year, Dame Anne Salmond articulated an aspirational vision for “intelligent forestry” in Aotearoa. She has clearly been inspired by models of continuous cover forestry – specifically, ‘close-to-nature forestry’ practices, where the emphasis is on management of a whole and healthy natural ecosystem and where timber production is only one objective to be managed in a compatible way with the many other cultural, environmental and recreational values in each part of the forest. . . 

Environmental impact of forestry taking a toll on East Coast communities – Tom Kitchin:

East Coast locals are disheartened by the prospect of more forestry in the area as the industry grows.

The Climate Change Commission is encouraging the planting of thousands of hectares of forestry in decades to come.

But many people in Gisborne and Wairoa say the industry is damaging their pristine environment and ruining communities.

In Tolaga Bay, a small town of about 800 people nearly an hour north of Gisborne, one end of the beach near the famous wharf is almost clear and sandy, with only a touch of wood nearby. . . 

Team of 5 million – Gerald Piddock:

The new DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair says New Zealand as a whole needs to work together to achieve climate goals.

Getting the dairy industry to achieve tough new climate goals is like running an ultramarathon, recently appointed DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair Fraser McGougan says.

Both require small steps to get to the finish line and both are huge undertakings.

McGougan has already accomplished one of these milestones, having completed an ultramarathon in February. . . 

Trusty tractor at farmer’s side over decades, across world – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A tractor, is a tractor, is a tractor … but then there’s Ian Begg’s tractor. The former Wyndham Station owner talks about how this humble piece of farm machinery shaped his life. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

People ask him: “What are you?”

He answers: “I’m still a farmer, cos I’m nothing else.”

Ian Begg, the former owner of Wyndham Station in Southland has been many other things — orchardist, importer, real estate agent and developer. But the farm boy remains.

The 75-year-old was reminded of his roots when he attended Wheels at Wanaka at Easter, and was reunited with the tractor that took him 27,000km across the globe, and set a world record for the longest journey by a tractor in 1993-94. . . 

New chief at VFF eyes closer links with consumers – Gregor Heard:

NEW VICTORIAN Farmers Federation chief executive Jane Lovell believes agriculture has an excellent story to tell, but it needs stronger links to consumers and the community to do so.

Ms Lovell, who has a background in areas as diverse as plant pathology, politics and quality assurance, said providing a solid platform for agriculture to be able to demonstrate its credentials was a key goal in her new role.

“Talking about and demonstrating our sustainability and environmental stewardship are going to become even more important with consumers,” Ms Lovell said.

“Gone are the days when everyone had a farmer as a close relative and sadly, this means many people don’t have that connection to farming and the land,” she said . . .


Rural round-up

11/04/2021

Industries desperate for workers urge government to open borders to Pacific – Tom Kitchen:

Fruit, meat works and food processing industries are calling on the government to open Pacific borders to tackle what they’re calling their worst ever labour crisis.

At a media conference in Napier this morning they demanded more help.

Apples are rotting on the ground at many orchards.

Chestergrove Orchards owner Bruce Mitchell said he could not find enough pickers to pick his royal galas . . 

Government needs to move faster on Pacific bubble :

National supports the call by Hawke’s Bay orchardists and businesses that are reliant on seasonal work to open a travel bubble with the Pacific Islands, Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“Growers and processors have good reason to be frustrated at the Government for not acting fast enough. This frustration boiled over in today’s extraordinary call for help.

“The Minister of Agriculture recently confirmed he has not prepared any papers for Cabinet this year relating to a Pacific bubble, despite calls from the sector. It’s his responsibility to advocate on behalf of horticulturalists who have seen devastating losses this season. . .

Hollywood director James Cameron’s enviro-farm turns to dairy cow grazing:

James Cameron’s plans to convert his Wairarapa properties into organic veggie farms appear to have fallen short – with hundreds of cows now understood to be grazing in his paddocks.

The Avatar film director owns more than 1500 hectares of land in South Wairarapa, and has been outspoken about the need for New Zealand to move away from agriculture to curb carbon emissions.

Locals say he’s not walking the talk – with plans for crop farming giving way to more lucrative dairy grazing.

However, they did note the farm had moved to get away from agriculture, that there was no intensive stock grazing taking place, and that staff did an excellent job with the property. . .

Slowing down and family time key – Maggie McNaughton:

If Pukekohe market gardener and CEO of  The Fresh Grower Allan Fong could dish out one piece of advice to his younger self, it would be to slow down and spend more time with his family.

The 65-year-old has recently stepped back from the job that has consumed his life since he was a youngster.

“My parents were from China and they started their own vegetable growing business in Pukekohe in 1950 and us kids would help out before school and after school every day,” Allan says.

Allan and his younger brother Colin eventually took over the farm and recently Colin’s three sons have taken up the reins. . . 

Ahuwhenua finalist showcases farm :

Pouarua Farms is the largest, single dairy platform in the Hauraki region and it can also lay claim to be one of the best Maori dairy farms in the country.

The farm is one of the finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua trophy for the top Maori dairy farm.

As part of the competition, each of the three finalists have to hold a field day on their respective properties to give other farmers, and all those with an interest in the dairy sector the opportunity to see first-hand just why these farms have made it to the top.

Pouarua’s 2,200ha platform comprises ten farms: nine dairy units and one drystock unit. A total of 4,600 cows are milked across 1,775ha and produce approximately 1.65M kgMS. . . 

 

David Littleproud urges Australian shearers not to take up exemptions to work in the UK – Billy Jupp:

FEDERAL Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has urged Australian shearers not to travel internationally to aid in global workforce shortages.

New Zealand and Australian shearers were recently given an exemption to travel to the United Kingdom to help combat its shearer shortage.

However, the Nationals deputy leader said travelling abroad was ill-advised due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The last place I’d want to go to is the UK,” Mr Littleproud told The Land. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/04/2021

Covid-19 coronavirus: Orchardists plead for Pacific Island travel bubble – Christian Fuller:

Orchardists say more than $600m is set to be lost to from regional economies like Hawke’s Bay’s as a result of the massive shortage of workers to pick fruit.

The region’s orchardists, exporters and growers reliant on seasonal work say they’ve worked through the season with “anxiety and desperation beyond belief”.

And they are calling on the Government to open a travel bubble with the Pacific islands to allow the free flow of what would normally be up to 14,410 workers arriving as part of the recognised seasonal employer scheme, in time for the 2022 season.

Thousands of tonnes of fruit is now being left on trees in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

NZ Pork slams blanket emissions policy – Annette Scott:

The pork industry is calling for the Government to recognise a different emissions policy approach for pigs.

In its submission to the Climate Change Commission (CCC), NZ Pork says a one-size-fits-all approach for livestock does not take into account non-ruminant livestock such as pigs.

New Zealand Pork chief executive David Baines says the unique nature of the pork industry in NZ means policy designed for the pastoral sector and ruminant livestock will not necessarily be the most effective means of facilitating emissions reductions from farmed pigs.

While welcoming many of the recommendations in the CCC’s draft advice to the Government, he says a blanket policy could disproportionately impact NZ pig farmers. . . 

Saleyards a magnet for Knight – Shawn McAvinue:

A retired trucking company owner continues to visit a stock sale in Central Otago to have “a nosey” and shout smoko.

Forbes Knight (89) first visited the Mt Benger Saleyards near Roxburgh after buying trucking company Millers Flat Carrying Company in 1954, aged 22.

Mr Knight, of Millers Flat, said in the 1950s, the footprint of the saleyards was much bigger and stretched across both sides of Teviot Rd.

The stock inside the pens were skinnier then because of a rampant rabbit population eating their feed. . . 

Plant production Young Achiever back for 2021:

Entries open now – are you the next plant producers Young Achiever?

NZ Plant Producers is very pleased to announce that the Young Achiever of the Year competition is back for 2021.

After being forced to cancel in 2020, the next competition will be held on July 14-15, at Growing Spectrum, Hamilton.

Young Achiever allows young people involved in plant production to gain an entry to the prestigious Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition. Entrants are tested on their practical industry skills, knowledge, and public speaking. . . 

Young chef wins ambassador award :

Even before his most recent win a few weeks ago, there was no doubt Sam Heaven was a young chef going places.

Despite border closures late last year, he won the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award for best chef in Australia and New Zealand aged under 25 in a virtual grand final cook-off.

After winning the title Heaven, 23, who works at the Park Hyatt in Auckland, thought that was it for competitions.

“After that last one I thought ‘that’s it, I’ve done heaps, it’s time to focus on my career’,” Heaven said. . . 

Debate over dingo versus wild dog, does the name matter – Chris McLennan:

Scientists who insist virtually all wild dogs are actually dingoes say the term was adopted because it was easier to sell.

They say “killing wild dogs is more palatable than killing dingoes”.

Wild dogs may be fair game for baiting, shooting and trapping programs run by landholders and governments, dingoes are often not.

Wild dogs are estimate to cost Australian agriculture more than $100 million annually. . . 


Rural round-up

09/04/2021

Federated Farmers sees MIQ opportunity for agriculture:

Federated Farmers hopes that the Government will take the opportunity of newly available space in MIQ quarantine to bring much-needed workers for the primary industries into New Zealand.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins estimates that the Australian quarantine-free travel bubble will free up 1000 to 1300 beds in MIQ a fortnight.

“MIQ spacing has been continually quoted as a barrier for getting the workers we need. With more beds becoming available it should now allow those with agricultural skills to enter the country,” Federated Farmers Immigration Spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“With continued low unemployment and the majority of available workers remaining in the urban centres, all of the primary industries are crying out for labour.” . . 

Farmers take up resilience planning for future droughts – Hugh Cameron:

While the country may be heading into winter, the impact of another dry summer is fresh on the minds of some farmers. Some hit by drought say there are steps that can be taken to ease the pressure and planning should start now.

Parts of the Far North were once again hit by meteorological drought this summer. While it wasn’t as severe as the previous summer’s big dry that hit much of the country, it was a set-back for farmers, who were hoping to rebuild feed reserves and make a full recovery.

Chairperson of the Northland Rural Support Trust, Chris Neill, believed drought planning would become even more critical in the future. He encouraged farmers to make a risk management plan that gave them options when tough conditions hit again.

“I think there were some lessons learned last year, in fact there were a lot of lessons learned last year, about being prepared for these dry conditions given the predictions around changes in climate,” Neill said. . . 

A wave of cash is about to transform the agri market – Andrew Lamming:

We are in very interesting times right now.

There are some big forces about to play out in the main trading banks operating in New Zealand. We believe this will culminate into a wave of capital that the Agri sector hasn’t seen for the past 5-7 years.

That wave of capital coming to the Agri sector is going to have some interesting effects on asset values, funding costs and decision making. . .

New Zealand Shears – the show finally on the road:

Organisers of the New Zealand Shears are breathing a sigh of relief as they bounce-back from the cancellation of last year’s event to stage the 2021 championships starting in Te Kuiti tomorrow(Thursday).

More than 200 shearers and woolhandlers will compete in the three-day championships, which 12 months ago became one of the early casualties of the 2021 Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown – called-off for the first time since the New Zealand championships were resurrected initially as the new King Country Shears in 1985.

While a Level 2 alert which cancelled this year’s Golden Shears in Masterton at just four days’ notice a month ago sent shivers up the spines of every event organiser in New Zealand, New Zealand Shears president Claire Grainger said her committee was determined to go ahead, including discussing how it could if the alert had remained in place. . . 

Aussie shearers called to help out in UK but pandemic rules still a worry – Chris McLennan:

Australian and New Zealand shearers have now been given a special exemption to travel to the United Kingdom to help solve their shearer crisis.

Shearers are in demand across the world from pandemic bans on international travel.

Australia has a crisis of its own with the ban on New Zealand shearers traveling across the ditch during the pandemic.

Now international sheep shearing contractors have been given a special concession to travel into the UK. . . 

Freehold high country a rare find:

Extensive freehold station properties are a rare find in New Zealand today, and one’s offering multiple income opportunities even rarer.

Glazebrook Station, located 46km up the Waihopai River valley in Marlborough has a hard-won reputation as a superb hunting property offering international standard game hunting opportunities located approximately one hour from Blenheim airport.

Positioned in the river valley with sweeping high country that runs to 1,600m above sea level, the station’s landscape typifies the iconic vistas that are central to the southern psyche.

Bayleys Canterbury salesperson Garry Ottmann says purchase of the 8,877ha freehold property would mark a rare claim in today’s property market. . . 


Rural round-up

08/04/2021

Potential benefits of fruit harvesting machine hailed – Jared Morgan:

It is called the Tecnofruit CF-105 and the fruit-harvesting machine could prove a game changer for Central Otago’s horticulture sector.

The technology, which carries a $155,000 price tag, may be good news for an industry beleaguered by labour shortages and spiralling costs made more acute by the ongoing fallout from Covid-19 and consequent restrictions on the number of recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers allowed into New Zealand.

The machine was in Central Otago at the 21ha Hollandia Orchard in Earnscleugh, near Alexandra, this last week on a trial basis and after test runs it was unveiled to orchardists and orchard managers on Wednesday.

Hollandia Orchard manager Murray Booth said he was sold on the machine. . . 

Spreading the good word – Rural News:

Hats off to the New Zealand dairy industry for telling its story to the world.

We have a great story to tell. Our farmers are world leaders in animal welfare and climate change. And, unlike producers in many other nations, they do it without direct, free-trade distorting subsidies.

The NZ dairy industry turns milk into more than 1,500 products and product specifications and generates almost $20 billion in annual export returns.

Our cultural characteristics of trust, integrity and ingenuity underpin a strong global reputation for product safety and quality. New Zealand achieved a score of 100 out of 100 for food safety in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Food Security Index. . . 

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists focus on supporting other dairy farmers:

A sharemilker, a Dairy Business of the Year recipient, and a contract milker and farm consultant have been named as this year’s finalists for the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Belinda Price, a sharemilker based in Whanganui, joins Ashburton dairy farmer Rebecca Miller and Chevon Horsford, a contract milker, farm consultant and Māori farm advisor in Whangarei, in the running for the respected industry award managed by Dairy Women’s Network.

Already a celebration of leadership inside and outside the farm gate, this year’s award shows a strong focus on people and highlights the work of the three finalists in leading and mentoring others through their farming journeys. . .

Meet the ex-cop growing wasabi in Canterbury – Olivia Sisson:

It’s notoriously difficult to produce, which is why the vast majority of this pungent condiment isn’t the real deal. So how has a former police officer made a business out of farming wasabi in Lincoln? Olivia Sisson pays a visit.

Even if you think you love wasabi’s signature burn, there’s a high chance you’ve never actually had it. The vast majority of wasabi served with sushi around the world isn’t real – even in its home country, it’s estimated only 5% of the stuff is real, and it’s likely to be less than that outside of Japan.

Real wasabi comes from the rhizome (stem) of Wasabia japonica, a leafy green plant from the same family as broccoli and cabbage. Often called “Japanese horseradish” or “wasabi paste”, the pretenders are usually just a blend of horseradish, mustard, green food colouring and preservatives.  . . 

Galloping on at Castlepoint:

Sand flew and the crowds cheered as hooves thundered along Castlepoint Beach for another year.

The horse races started nearly 150 years ago and apart from wartime and stormy years when the beach was too rocky, they’ve been held every year since, marking the end of summer at this small coastal community in Wairarapa.

The races even outpaced Covid-19, unlike many annual fixtures around the country.

Country Life producer Sally Round and RNZ video journalist Dom Thomas went along to capture a slice of the atmosphere. . .

How the pandemic made lamb more popular in America – Virginia Gewin:

Traditional Easter and Passover lamb-centered meals mark peak season for the often overlooked protein. But one year ago, the arrival of the pandemic sent the U.S. lamb industry into a tailspin.  

Lockdowns had an immediate, catastrophic effect as holiday dinners suddenly became sad Zoom calls. The initial drop in demand at lamb’s biggest time of year dealt a body blow to the industry. The second largest U.S. lamb processing plant, Mountain States Rosen in Greeley, Colorado, filed for bankruptcy on March 19, 2020.

At the time, the outlook for the rest of the year—when lamb sales rely heavily on restaurants and cruise ships, two sectors that were summarily crushed by Covid-19—looked equally grim. By April 2020, live lamb prices had dropped by half.  . .


Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


Rural round-up

06/04/2021

Mayor calls on government to give MIQ spots to RSE workers

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan is calling on the government to offer some of the available MIQ spaces to foreign workers.

MIQ authorities are urging people to return to New Zealand to snap up a sudden glut of vacancies for April. There have not been as many vacancies since October.

In an open letter to ministers, Cadogan said Central Otago’s horticulture industry was desperate for workers and bringing in foreigners under the seasonal employment scheme would bring huge relief.

“I am sure I do not need to draw your attention to the labour shortage we have in Central Otago in our horticultural industry and the desperate need for increased numbers of RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme workers, but I do need to emphasise that things here are getting worse not better,” Cadogan’s letter said. . . 

Continued threat to NZ from severely impacted global supply chains:

  • As an open market economy, NZ is attractive to dumpers
  • Remedies available to local businesses and industries

Potatoes are not the only industry at risk from disrupted overseas businesses looking to dump cheap products in New Zealand, but the tools are there to ensure a level playing field for local businesses.

The longer the Covid-19 pandemic goes on across the world, the greater the risk to New Zealand markets from products imported and sold here at prices below the market price in their country of origin, according to a specialist advisor working with local interests on current anti-dumping cases.

Simon Crampton is assisting Potato New Zealand with its anti-dumping case and believes that other New Zealand industries and businesses are at risk of destabilisation from dumped products as the result of continuing turmoil in global supply chains, amongst other reasons. . . 

Fonterra to end coal use in factories by 2037 – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra has backed the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation pathway to lower industrial emissions by pledging to replace its coal and natural gas to fuel its processing factories with wood biomass by 2037.

Its submission to the commission’s advice to the Government on how to achieve zero emissions by 2050 acknowledged the difficulties in meeting such a target, calling it “ambitious” and “challenging”.

It pointed out that the nature of New Zealand dairy farmers’ milk supply curve gave it an extremely narrow window in which it can undertake changes to its factories.

“Over a six to eight-week period, we go from collecting around four million litres of milk a day to around 82 million litres a day. All of our sites must be working close to full capacity to cope with this volume,” it said. . . 

Silver Fern Farms responds to dynamic global trading environment with strong performance:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $32.4m for the 2020 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $65.4m in the same period.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2020 year is a strong result built off the skill and expertise of its people who navigated the company through a period of considerable uncertainty.

“The performance of the operating company in 2020 was truly commendable across a range of areas. Most important was how they put the health and welfare of their people first. In doing so they set a platform of trust and shared commitment from their staff to stand up as essential workers to service our regional communities, and to service our global consumers.” . . 

Awanui orchard offers step straight into market:

A large scale, well established avocado orchard in the Northland region offers the opportunity for an investor to enjoy immediate returns from the high value sector as demand continues to expand for the fruit.

Awanui orchard near Sweetwater represents 20 years of commitment from its original owner and founder, American-Kiwi Jerry Trussler.

Jerry’s far-sighted vision for the sector had him establish the 36-canopy hectare orchard at a time when the fledgling industry was distinguished by significantly smaller orchards. The entire land area comprises 79ha across an attractive, rolling block. . . .

California relocates mountain lions making a meal of endangered sheep :

Drastic steps taken to protect the Sierra Nevada’s 600 bighorn sheep after another charismatic species developed a taste for them

In order to save one endangered species, California scientists are having to relocate another iconic creature that is, regrettably, eating it.

The California department of fish and wildlife is in the process of moving mountain lions over 100 miles away from struggling populations of bighorn sheep, which are unique to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The herbivores were first listed as endangered in 1999, when their population was estimated at only 125 individuals, according to researchers.

“There’s no expectation that any of the lions we move are going to stay where we put it, regardless of age or sex,” acknowledged Danny Gammons, an environmental scientist for the sheep recovery program. “The goal is to get it away from bighorn sheep.” . . 


Rural round-up

05/04/2021

CCC submissions flood in – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets remain a contentious issue for the livestock sector, which is critical of Climate Change Commission recommendations for an even steeper reduction pathway than proposed in the Zero Carbon Act.

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are labelling the proposed new targets as unrealistic and not backed by robust science, economic or farm system analysis.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the revised target is a 13.2% reduction in biogenic methane emissions below 2017 levels by 2030.

“This represents a 32% increase in the level of ambition compared to the 2030 biogenic methane target contained in the Zero Carbon Act, which is to reduce methane emissions to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030,” McIvor said. . . 

Smith to push for more automation in the hort sector – Peter Burke:

More automation in orchards – that’s what Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says he’s going to push hard for in the coming 12 months.

He told Rural News that there is real growth in horticulture and the opportunity for more, but New Zealand as not solved the labour supply problem.

“Too much of the horticultural industry has been built off the back of immigrant labour and the risk of that is what we see now,” Smith says.

“If anything goes wrong with that supply chain of workers then you have massive problems. That is why there is a need for the investment in automation and we want to see this directed to what can be done in orchards.”

Milking shed ravaged by fire, community spirit gets farmers back up and running – Joanne Holden:

A South Canterbury farmer whose milking shed, built by his father, was ravaged by fire has got his dairy operation back on track, with a little help from his friends.

The 30-year-old Waitohi milking shed was “fully ablaze” when Hamish Pearse, and five of his staff, grabbed a fire hose each and attacked the flames, keeping them at bay until the fire brigade arrived with five appliances about 20 minutes later.

“The staff were pretty shaken up by the whole thing,” Pearse, of Waitohi, said.

“My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself . . . He came back to see his pride and joy burnt down.” . . 

Synlait ponders lack of profit – Hugh Stringleman:

Synlait may not make a profit this financial year because of sharply reduced orders from a2 Milk Company for packaged infant formula, rising dairy commodity prices and global shipping delays.

At the start of the season Synlait directors expected net profit in FY21 to be similar to last year’s $75 million, then in December they said net profit would be approximately half that of FY20.

They have now said the anticipated result for FY21 will be “broadly breakeven”, which includes the possibility of no profit overall and a small loss in the second half, which is already two months old.

When releasing its first-half results, Synlait said the December downgrade from major customer and minority shareholder a2MC was significant and sudden. . . 

Wyeth’s move west welcomed – Peter Burke:

A few weeks ago, Richard Wyeth took over as chief executive of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products and says his first impressions of the company and its people are positive.

It was only a few months ago he was head of the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company Miraka – a company he helped set up from scratch.

However, Wyeth says he’s really enjoying the new job at Westland and what’s really impressed him is the people in the business.

“There is a really strong desire to see the business do well and people are working really hard to do this,” he told Rural News. . . 

Scientists are testing vaccines for flystrike – Chris McLennan:

Scientists believe they are closing in on a commercial vaccine for flystrike.

Prototype vaccines have already been developed half way through a four-year $2.5 million research project between the wool industry and CSIRO.

A potential vaccine against flystrike has been the subject of decades of research work.

Blowfly infestation of sheep wool, skin and tissue results in an estimated $280 million losses to the wool industry. . . 


Easter bunny hunt tally nearly 12,000

05/04/2021

The Central Otago Easter Bunny Hunt rid the region of nearly 12,000 rabbits:

The message could not be any clearer — when it comes to Central Otago and Wanaka’s countryside there is only one bunny welcome at Easter.

Twenty-five teams of 12 set out to prove that at the weekend.

Yesterday the weary hunters from across the South Island and beyond returned to the Dunstan Equestrian Centre near Alexandra to tally the numbers of rabbits killed as part of the expanded-format Great Easter Bunny Hunt.

Traditionally 24 hours long, this year’s Alexandra Lions Club event ran from 8am on Good Friday until yesterday.

The hunt was last held in 2017.

It was cancelled the following year because of the Otago Regional Council K5 rabbit virus release programme.

Further cancellations followed in 2019, due to an extreme fire risk, and last year, because of Covid-19. 

The three-year hiatus and the longer time frame was reflected in the death toll netted from blocks of land from from Millers Flat, to Wanaka, and to Lauder.

A total of 11,968 rabbits were shot along with 555 other pests — stoats, possums, turkeys, and more, making for a total of 12,523 animals shot. . .

My father recalled hillsides moving with rabbits in the Hakataramea Valley in the 1930s.

It’s not that bad in Central Otago now but rabbit numbers are reaching plague proportions in places.

Landowners will be very grateful to the Easter Bunny Hunt hunters who have put a dent in the population.

 


Rural round-up

03/04/2021

See how we’re making meat better:

Knowing how our food is produced, and the implications for our health and the health of the planet, is more important now than ever before.

With growing public concern around the impact of farming, chemicals and additives, there’s a lot to look out for – and a lot of info to chew on!

So get more facts in your diet – and see how New Zealand’s natural production systems make a real difference to the things we all care about.  . .

Why we need agrichemicals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

While it can be seen as “environmentally friendly,” removing agrichemicals and moving to organic farming would have a significant impact on food supply, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Tomatoes at 8c a kg have become a distant memory and concerns about food insecurity and costs are increasing again. Food banks are reporting ever greater demand and shelves are empty.

Around the world, the Global Food Insecurity Index has indicated that most countries are worse off than New Zealand, yet despite the obvious need for food, environmentalists are arguing for a dramatic change in agriculture – removing agrichemicals, such as nitrogen fertiliser and the “cides” that kill weeds, insects and the micro-organisms.

These are the chemicals that boost yields by overcoming nutrient limitations in plants, or controlling the weeds and bugs that reduce yields through competition for resources, or simply by consumption of the food before humans have access. . . 

West Coast sharemilker’s director skills recognised:

Hokitika sharemilker Siobhan O’Malley has received an Emerging Director Award from the Institute of Directors (IoD) Canterbury Branch.  

The IoD presents its Emerging Director Awards annually to people who show leadership, integrity and enterprise in their careers. Along with a year’s complimentary membership of the IoD and funding towards IoD governance development courses, each recipient receives a board internship and mentoring from an experienced director. Siobhan will intern on the board of civil contracting and construction firm Westroads Ltd.  

Siobhan and her husband operate a 400-cow herd-owning sharemilking contract in Kokatahi. They have previously worked on farms in North Canterbury, North Otago, Tasman and Mid Canterbury. In 2017 the couple won the New Zealand Sharefarmer of the Year award at the NZ Dairy Awards. . .

Changing careers fuels passion for dairy:

An aspiring beauty therapist has made the switch to dairy farming, where Waikato woman Tyla Ireland has found her calling.

After finishing high school, Tyla pursued a career in beauty therapy, becoming a qualified therapist two years ago. She was excited to turn her passion into what she thought would be a lifelong career.

“At school I enjoyed having my nails done and doing my makeup, but what really sparked my interest was the opportunity to make others more confident in their appearance,” said Tyla.

“I was excited to start my first job but found there weren’t many opportunities for new graduates. I decided to look at short-term calf rearing opportunities, which was when I was lucky to be approached for a full-time position on farm.” . . 

Aratu Forests announces 90-year riparian forestry scheme with ELandNZ:

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s ten largest freehold forest plantations, has today announced an industry-first, 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The scheme has been under development for two years and is set to create a permanent native forest buffer alongside waterways within Aratu Forests. In May ground will be broken as part of a community launch event involving Iwi, community groups and the Gisborne District Council.

eLandNZ’s Managing Director, Sheldon Drummond, says: “The 90-year agreement for mixed land use within Aratu Forests will see eLandNZ progressively manage revegetation of streamside buffers within the Aratu Forests estate that are unsuitable for timber plantation. . . 

Plans underway for UK”s first school of sustainable farming :

Plans are underway to develop the UK’s first school centred on sustainable food and farming to help the industry reduce its environmental impact.

The school, to be located on Harper Adams University grounds in Shropshire, will research production systems geared towards more sustainable farming.

It will also draw on expertise to develop knowledge and skills for farmers who are committed to sustainable food production.

Research topics initially will include livestock breed choice, diet composition, yield improvement, agricultural building design and on-farm renewable energy. . . 


Rural round-up

01/04/2021

Dairy farmers warn of hidden costs of reducing climate gas emissions – Jonathan Milne:

The dairy industry says its already a world leader on the farm and is improving its factory processing, but worries about the impact of further emissions cut on its communities

Fonterra and Synlait are attempting to shift energy-intensive boilers and other industrial processes to renewables, but farmers are worried that one-in-three will go backwards financially.

Fonterra will publish its submission to the Climate Change Commission this morning. The cooperative, owned by 10,000 farming families, produces 20 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions – the vast majority of those from farming.

New Zealand’s dairy farmers have already reduced their carbon footprints well beyond global benchmarks, and have been consistent in saying they need more R&D investment from Government and industry to make further emissions cuts. . . 

Driven by passion for all things rural – Toni Williams:

Mt Somers farmer and businesswoman Kate Acland is passionate about the rural sector.

She knows it is facing enormous change with environmental reforms set to affect farm businesses, but wants to be at the table as the sector works to address the challenges.

She is on the board of Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand,has past involvement with the Strong Wool Action Group and has just taken a place on the board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand as the northern South Island farmer-director.

“I’m hugely passionate about the sector and future of our family farming businesses.

“Beef and Lamb is a fantastic organisation and I feel very strongly that it has a key role to play in the successful future of those businesses.’’ . . 

Quarter of farmers to measure emissions by end of year – Marc Daalder:

The He Waka Eke Noa primary sector partnership with central government says it is on track for 25 percent of farmers to be measuring their emissions by the end of the year, Marc Daalder reports

As submissions closed on the Climate Change Commission’s historic draft advice on decarbonising New Zealand, the primary sector is hailing the accomplishment of a crucial milestone: Some 11,000 farmers are now measuring their greenhouse gas emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa: The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership was set up in 2019 as an agreement between the primary sector and central government to move towards all farmers measuring their emissions by the end of 2022 and a price on agricultural emissions by 2025.

In order for farmers to pay for the emissions from their livestock and produce, they have to know how much they emit in the first place. Already, 11,000 farmers are able to measure their emissions, He Waka Eke Noa programme director Kelly Forster said, and a quarter of the country’s farmers will be doing so by the end of the year. . . 

Shearing stalwarts lauded – Simon Henderson:

Family tradition and fine wool came together at a meeting of the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society as four stalwarts were awarded life memberships during a ceremony at the Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning in Alexandra on Sunday.

Life member and past-president Graeme Bell, of Alexandra, presented the awards alongside senior vice-president Lane McSkimming and junior vice-president Janet Smith to Greg Stuart, Don Moffat, Allan Paterson, and John Nelson.

Mr Nelson first came as a helper to shearing shows in the late 1960s.

He started competing in shows before becoming a committee member in 1983, a role he had continued to the present day, Mr Bell said. . . 

Leaft Foods announces $20m programme to tackle global plant protein market and signals potential to lower farm emissions:

The programme will develop technology that extracts edible protein from New Zealand grown green leafy crops. Leaft Foods seeks to produce high-quality protein ingredients for use in a range of food products across the rapidly growing global market for plant-based foods.

Leaft Foods’ innovation is the co-production of a low-emission animal feed, optimised for ruminant nutrition that could significantly reduce farm nitrogen losses. On-farm trials will demonstrate a viable pathway to adoption and commercial uptake for New Zealand farmers and credentialing the system’s economic and environmental benefits.

“We are building on New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted producer of high-quality protein. Our vision is to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural systems and to meet the increase in demand for plant proteins that align with consumer values,” says Maury Leyland Penno, Founder of Leaft Foods. . . 

Bill Gates’ farmland buying spree highlights investment appeal – Judith Evans:

With productivity expected to increase, arable land is attractive — and can help meet carbon-neutral targets.

The Horse Heaven Hills in Washington State are known for wines, wind farms and potatoes. And, recently, swaths of the area have been bought up by Bill Gates.

The Microsoft co-founder acquired 14,500 acres of the fertile land in 2018, helping to make him the largest private farmland owner in the US, with total holdings of almost 250,000 acres, according to disclosures in the US publication The Land Report this year.

Gates may operate at a vast scale, but he is not alone. Although the global farmland market is still highly fragmented — in the US, institutional ownership is estimated to account for just 2.2 per cent by the US Department of Agriculture — investment by financial institutions and wealthy individuals has surged since the financial crisis, in relative terms. . .

 


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