Rural round-up

August 27, 2020

‘People, trust’ key to environmental work – Sally Rae:

A group of farmers in the Wanaka area have taken a proactive approach to water quality in  their patch and  are now moving into stage 2 of  their catchment group project. Sally Rae reports.

“Relationships and people. I don’t know why when it comes to the environment, we always forget that. I can wax on about science up to my wazoo — this thing is purely about people, relationships and trust.”

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle is referring to the Wanaka Catchment Group, set up three years ago and comprising 15 large properties that drain into or are upstream of Lake Wanaka.

Representing 95% of the farmed catchment, they range from fourth generation — such as the Aspinall family at Mt Aspiring Station — to overseas owners and everything in between. . . 

Why farmers are talking trees – Sam McIvor:

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says turning productive farmland to plantations for carbon farming will have negative effects on rural communities and the Government should rethink its flawed approach.

Trees have become a hot topic with farmers lately, and with good reason.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supports protecting and restoring native bush and the planting of forestry on farms in a way that complements the landscape. However, we’re concerned about the impact of policies that economically incentivise wholesale land use change from pastoral-based farming into exotic trees for carbon offsetting.

Put simply, we’re not anti-forestry – we’re against policies that will lead to widespread carbon farming, which will have detrimental effects on our rural communities. . . 

Big win for Fonterra in latest DIRA amendments – Keith Woodford:

New DIRA settings give Fonterra what it wanted but make life much more challenging for any new dairy processors.

Fonterra will be feeling very pleased with the final outcomes from the much drawn-out 2018-2020 review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). Last minute changes as a consequence of Fonterra’s lobbying have made it very hard for any new start-ups to nibble away at Fonterra’s dominance.

These latest DIRA amendments were passed in late July and were supported across the political spectrum.  They were inserted at a late stage in the Select Committee process, and were a fait accompli before outsiders realised what was happening.  Someone in Fonterra deserves a job promotion for their lobbying skill. . . 

Sixty hectares of kiwifruit being planted in the Whanganui region – Mike Tweed:

Whanganui dairy farmers Jarrod and Holly Murdoch will soon be turning 20 hectares of their Waitotara land into a kiwifruit orchard.

They’re part of a burgeoning kiwifruit growing industry in the region, which includes Mangamahu grower David Wells who is now adding 16.5ha to his existing 3.5.

These projects, along with another 20ha of kiwifruit planting in the Whanganui region, have resulted in New Zealand company Apata Group Limited, which harvests, packs and stores fruit, signing on to provide infrastructure and oversee the growing of these crops.

Wells, who began growing kiwifruit in 1978, said Apata’s involvement, as well as support from local investors “triggered it all”. . . 

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines –  Rob Picheta:

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines, a new study has found.

Researchers said honey was more effective in relieving the symptoms of cold and flu-like illnesses than the usual commercial remedies, and could provide a safer, cheaper and more readily available alternative to antibiotics.

They encouraged doctors to consider recommending it to patients in place of prescribing antibiotics, which can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance when overused.

The proven health benefits of honey

Honey has long been used as a home remedy for coughs, but its effectiveness in treating common illnesses has not been heavily researched. . .

Award winning Waiheke vineyard for sale offers vintage opportunities for investors:

The land and buildings sustaining an award-winning vineyard in one of Waiheke Island’s most commanding locations have been placed on the market for sale.

Peacock Sky, in the established rural residential area of Onetangi/Trig Hill, features a mature productive vineyard which was planted more than 20 years ago. Owners Connie Festa and Rob Meredith bought it in 2008, and have since developed the property and brand into a multi-award-winning vineyard.

Located at 152 Trig Hill Road in central Waiheke, on one of the island’s highest points, the site offers panoramic views – with available space mooted for development of a luxury residential retreat, destination restaurant or events facility. . . 


Rural round-up

August 14, 2020

The ugly side of forestry clearly exposed for all to see – John Jackson:

I was horrified at the results of a weather event in the East Coast of the North Island on July 18. Forestry – the catch-cry of the current Government for all pastoral ills and the excesses of our modern lifestyles – stood out like an old man caught with pants down.

In this case, obese, ugly and exposed in all areas, which when clothed is touted as a saviour.

The hillsides where pines had been harvested, recently disturbed and long since naked of pasture, had let hundreds of tonnes of topsoil into the creeks below and onwards in a watery slurry out into the Pacific. Those areas where the slash and logs were contained mid river, turned into massive, festering, ugly boils on the landscape – often against bridges, culverts or anything that impeded their progress seaward.

Out around Tolaga Bay, and up the east coast, the carnage was truly gut wrenching.

New venture to train women in agriculture – Annette Scott:

Southern girl Laura Douglas is bubbling with passion and enthusiasm as she heads up an exciting new venture aimed at giving women a leg up into New Zealand’s agricultural industry. She shares her story with Annette Scott.

Laura Douglas grew up on a deer and sheep farm in Southland.

She always loved farming but admits she ignored her gut passion growing up and pursued a career in the corporate world. . . 

Opportunities for New Zealand goat milk products: what are they and how can we win? – Tim Fulton:

A report released recently by The Nutrition Bureau’s Jan Hales, who engaged me to help with the preparation of the material for the project team.

We are pleased to advise that the report “Opportunities for New Zealand Goat Milk Products: what are they and how can we win?” is now available to New Zealand businesses through our website https://sheepandgoatmilk.nz/resources/

This report follows a 14-month Provincial Growth funded project that looked at the opportunities for developing New Zealand’s sheep and goat milk industries to a scale that could bring significant economic benefit to our regional communities.

It includes information on the estimated size, growth and profit potential of consumer ready products sold in five export markets, and the processing infrastructure and farm supply requirements to meet forecast demand, as well as recommendations on how New Zealand can win. . . 

Vegetable prices continue to grow:

Courgettes and cucumbers reached record-high prices in July 2020, rising more than 30 percent in the month, as Queensland imports continued to be banned, Stats NZ said today.

Fruit and vegetable prices were up 9.8 percent in July 2020.

Courgette prices rose 38 percent to a weighted average price of $29.60 per kilo, up from a previous record high of $21.42 per kilo in June. Some reports showed courgettes prices reaching up to $38.99 per kilo (see Would you pay $39 a kilo for zucchini?).

Imports of fresh courgettes, cucumbers, and other cucurbit from Queensland have been banned this year because of a plant virus. . .

LIC wins ‘Choice’ award for being a top employer:

New Zealand’s leading agri-tech and herd improvement cooperative has today been named as a 2020 Employer of Choice through a survey conducted by HRD New Zealand.

The latest accolade from HRD (Human Resources Director) comes six months after LIC won both the Organisational Change/Development and Best Wellness Programme Awards at the 2020 NZ HR awards in February beating out Coca Cola and Xero in the latter category for the wellness programme title.

Now the cooperative, which employers over 750 full-time staff and nearly 2,000 seasonal staff across New Zealand, has become the only agriculture entity to win an Employer of Choice Award from HRD which focuses on analysis of the HR profession across not only New Zealand but also Australia, Canada, America and Asia. . . 

Lanaco founder advises on mask wear and care and says not all masks are made the same:

In response to Government Covid-19 announcement last night and following its launch at Parliament last week, NZ mask filter manufacturer Lanaco’s CEO Nick Davenport is available to demonstrate and discuss mask availability, wear and care.Lanaco supplies filters to more than 30 mask producers in New Zealand.

Lanaco started making Helix filters to specific accredited standards over five years ago, using a high-tech application of NZ wool, for other people to use to make masks and other respiratory devices.

In the past four months, Lanaco has developed formulations for masks to AS/NZS 1716 P2 (NZ’s national gold standard) and N95 (The USA gold standard) and makes masks to these formulations.

In order to sell them to these standards, the devices must be independently tested, and the manufacturing plant audited. The latter process takes months and is a very stringent process. . . 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2020

No place for gender bias in farming – Milne – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says having women in the farmer lobby leadership team is a reminder that NZ ag is about couples working together.

Milne, the first woman president of Feds, stepped down last month after serving her three-year term.

In her final speech at the Feds’ annual meeting, Milne said men and women bring their own perspectives and strengths to farming, neither being more important than the other.

“It’s useful to remind the rest of the country by having men and women – all working farmers – speaking for the organisation that those old newsreels of men out on the land on machinery and women confined to baking scones for the shearers is pre-war history, and even then it was a stereotype rather than the truth,” she said. . .

Election forestry Policy unnecessary:

Right now, we are in a Covid-19 recovery phase and an election year. Farmers feel good about keeping the economy going, but are challenged by climate change, freshwater regulations and afforestation. Some press releases strongly defend pastoral farming against encroaching forests, as if we are fighting over land use. We’re not. What both the farming and forestry sectors are doing is searching for the best way forward, post-covid, in terms of investing and adapting. What neither sector needs are knee-jerk regulations that distract from finding real solutions of mutual benefit. A diverse range of viewpoints is good for innovation, so let’s encourage it. The NZ Farm Forestry Association suggests we should avoid the myths, maintain perspective and share some new ideas.

The long-term perspective is that land use change has and should occur in response to developing markets and scientific guidance. . . 

Dairy prices lift the gloom for farmers but their future meanwhile is being plotted by Beehive planners with a vision:

Fonterra’s  boss  might have been  ultra-cautious   but  out on  the country’s dairy farms there  was a  subdued  cheer  at the  news  that the wholemilk powder price had leapt  14%  at  the  latest  GDT  auction..

The  GDT  index  rose  8.3%,  the biggest  rise   since  November  2016,  and the fourth   successive gain.   Fonterra’s  CEO   Miles  Hurrell  says  it’s  “really  surprising—no-one  saw a number of  this  magnitude”.

It dispels  some of the   gloom generated  by the  Covid-19 pandemic.  And it generates  the  hope  that  Fonterra pitched  its  forecast  for  the season too  low,  in  the  broad range  from $5.40kg/MS  to $US6.90.

Hurrell  suggested   suppliers    should not  get “too excited” by the WMP  result. Fonterra had put out excess product for immediate shipment, which resulted in “a bit of a flurry in that first event” .. . .

Farmers, foresters and fishing folk rejoice – the govt is fixing your wellbeing to a 10-year plan (and film-makers have not been forsaken) – Point of Order:

Latest from the Beehive

The government’s economic engineers were hard at work yesterday.  One minister was set on establishing a base for film production in Christchurch while – much more critically for the wellbeing of the nation – a cluster of others led by the PM were unveiling their grand design for reshaping the primary sector.  If they get it wrong (and we should never be sure politicians will get this sort of thing right), our economy will be dealt a greater mischief than ever was done by a pandemic.

Environment Minister David Parker was busy in the planning business, too, announcing appointments to the newly established Freshwater Planning Process and the Expert Consenting Panels for fast-track consenting.

Wearning his Attorney-General hat he also announced a new Judge of the High Court.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, meanwhile, was announcing immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised. . . 

Accelerating our economic potential: – Primary Land Users’ Group:

The Government plans to increase primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade with a goal of getting 10,000 more New Zealanders working in the sector over the next four years.

Prime Minister Ardern said the sector, which has proven essential for New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic, will be vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery.

HOW?

The plan sets a target of lifting primary sector export earnings to $10b a year by 2030 which would bring in a cumulative $44b more in earnings in a decade. If successful, the plan would almost double the current value of the primary sector. . .

Sustainability stars pick up awards :

Ten kiwi dairy farmers who have shown exceptional care for the environment have been recognised with a DairyNZ sustainability and stewardship award.

The award was part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. 

“The dairy sector has made a commitment under the Dairy Tomorrow strategy to protect and nurture the environment for future generations,” says Dr David Burger, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader – responsible dairy.  . . 

How will we recover from social isolation? – Stephen Burns:

Our species has been put on notice: the natural world will no longer tolerate the abuse it has taken for centuries and only exaggerated by recent avarice.

A minute organism, unable to be seen except through a microscope has brought the world as we have enjoyed to a grinding halt.

Invisible to a naked eye yet more powerful than any despotic politician, more devastating than the Global Financial Crisis and more destructive than a nuclear war head, COVID-19 has the power to threaten our continued existence. . .


Rural round-up

June 26, 2020

Govt’s obsession with planting trees a big mistake – Mike Hosking:

am glad the forestation of this country at the expense of good, productive farmland finally appears to be getting the sort of attention it deserves. The trouble with a crisis, is it takes your eye off all sorts of balls, and  various issues would have had far greater scrutiny if we hadn’t had a virus to deal with.

Planting trees to allow us to meet our Paris accord deal is potentially a catastrophic mistake that is unfolding before our eyes.

Firstly, because our calling card to the world is not our climate credentials, it’s the food we sell. For that you need productive land. Under the Emission Trading Scheme changes, the price of carbon lifts. As it lifts, it becomes more attractive to buy land to plant trees.

Planting trees is easy, and people always take the easy path. And what makes this worse is many who invest in these trees have no intention of harvesting them. They’re simply there to clip the ticket. . . 

Majority of farmers find Fonterra Shareholders’ Council ineffective – survey – Eric Frykberg:

The main watchdog for dairy giant Fonterra has been told it has to lift its game.

The comments came in the first of a two-part inquiry into Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The council is supposed to monitor the company on behalf of its 10,000 farmer shareholders, but it has incurred a lot of criticism including comments from the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that it was “less a watchdog than a lapdog”.

The Shareholders Council commissisoned a review of itself last year, chaired by veteran public servant James Buwalda. . . 

Wool classer receives merit award – Yvonne O’Hara:

Wool has always been part of Anne-Marie Parcell’s life.

“I love it and not a day goes by when I am not staring at sheep or touching wool. If I am not spinning it, I am shearing or crutching or drafting. I never wear polar fleece,” the Bannockburn wool classer said.

And neither did the two lambs that turned up last week wearing wearing wool jackets.

Ms Parcell was delighted when she was given a merino merit award from the New Zealand Wool Classers Association recently, for the clip she classed at Northburn Station, near Cromwell. . .

Fonterra announces Peter McBride as chairman elect:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) has announced that current Farmer Director, Peter McBride has been selected as the Co-operative’s Chairman-elect by his fellow Directors.

Under Fonterra’s constitution, its Chairman is selected by the Board from within its pool of seven elected Farmer Directors.

Mr McBride will replace current Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan when he retires as a Director of the Co-op at its Annual Meeting this November. . .

Adept wool presser will never give up :

Here’s a riddle … If two shearers clip a total of 100 sheep, and one shears three more than the other — what is the tally for each? Turangi Morehu jokes that he has asked this riddle to many in the shearing fraternity over the years, including world champion Sir David Fagan “and I’m still waiting for his answer”, he quips.

Mr Morehu, known to most as Tu, “after one and before three”, is the ubiquitous and hard-working character floating between the gangs of Peter Lyons Shearing, keeping an eye on things for Mr Lyons and wife, Elsie.

Originally from Tuatahuna and spending his younger years in Rotorua, Mr Morehu has worked as a wool presser since he left school at the age of 13 . .

Kauri still waiting for dieback plan – Farrah Hancock:

A pest management plan for kauri dieback is missing in action. Farah Hancock reports.

Thirty months after it was announced, there’s still no National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback.

In 2017, the Government said it was moving immediately to strengthen efforts to protect kauri trees. One of those efforts was creating a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP).

“An NPMP shows how serious we are about protecting kauri. It is by far the strongest piece of regulation available and will ensure mandatory hygiene practices, consistent regulations that apply nationally, stronger governance and access to funding,” said Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor when he announced the plan in December 2017. . .

Britain opens free trade negotiations with New Zealand – Liz Truss:

This week is the start of an exciting new chapter in the shared history of Britain and New Zealand.

Our two island nations are already close friends, bound tightly by cultural, economic and social ties that have stood the test of time.

Britain is the largest ex-pat community in New Zealand. We both share a language, a head of state and a system of common law. We also share a strong commitment to free and fair trade, and believe fundamentally in the rule of law and the power that democracy has to drive forward human progress. . .


Rural round-up

June 16, 2020

Faltering forestry risks NZ’s climate strategy – Marty Verry:

Global headwinds are lining up against New Zealand’s number one climate change mitigation strategy – the one billion trees policy. The coming weeks will tell if the Government has given up or is committed to making that policy a success by backing it with its procurement.

But first let us recap on what is at stake. The country’s plan is to use trees to sequester carbon dioxide over the next 30 years while it finds ways to reduce emissions from our other main pollutant sources: transport, buildings, energy and agriculture. If the forestry strategy fails, we will need a more aggressive approach to meeting carbon zero by 2050 – something consultancy EY calculated in 2018 would cost the country $30 billion. New Zealand cannot afford to add that to the $60b Covid tab, so the forestry strategy simply must succeed.

So let’s look at the prospects for forestry. For New Zealand, the battle ground is China. Like it or not, it takes 80 per cent of our log exports. All our logs are in that basket, you could say. . .

Federated Farmers wants migrant workers on Govt’s COVID exemption ‘A-list’ :

Auckland officials are emphasising the economic benefits of letting in America’s Cup crews, but farmers feel they’re being left off the ‘A-list’. 

The Government has granted border exemptions to cup challengers American Magic and INEOS Team UK, each bringing a couple of hundred crew and staff into the country. 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says they’ll face the same 14-day quarantine rules as New Zealand citizens at the border, to prevent one of them inadvertently bringing in COVID-19.  . . 

Visa uncertainty threatens farm crisis – Richard Harman:

The Government is considering extending temporary work visas due to expire over the next few months so that essential businesses do not lose semi-skilled workers.

But there are big questions about why it won’t announce that it is doing so. POLITIK understands that around 70,000 temporary work visas are due to expire by the end of September.

But following representations from the dairy and aged care sectors POLITIK understands the Minister of Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway favours an extension of six to 12 months for many of the workers. . . 

Why is it taking so long to install fishing cameras? :

“Cameras are all about transparency. They’re all about public accountability and providing proof that the industry – as they state – have nothing to hide. Now if they have nothing to hide, why aren’t we seeing cameras on some of these big boats?”

That’s the question Newshub reporter Michael Morrah has been trying to solve since National decided they were a good idea and promised to introduce them in 2016.

But their introduction has been pushed back again and again, often quietly.

National’s primary industries minister Nathan Guy was attacked by the then Labour opposition over them; but just a few months after Labour came into office and “the whole idea around accountability and transparency is put on the backburner”, Morrah says. . . 

 

Horticulture NZ says New Zealand needs more water storage schemes like Northland:

HortNZ says New Zealand needs more water storage schemes like the one just announced for Northland.

‘New Zealand is not really short of water, it is short of water capture and storage,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘People and plants need water – that’s a basic fact. For years, we have known that our climate is changing – droughts are getting more severe – however, red tape and a lack of capital has seen most parts of New Zealand slow to do anything practical about the situation. . . 

New trial could lead to breeding of low methane-emitting cows – James Fyfe:

A trial is underway in the Waikato to see if there is a link between cows’ genetics and how much methane they produce.

If such a link is found, it could mean it’s possible for farmers to fight climate change by specifically breeding cows that emit less methane.

The trial, involving dairy breeding bulls, is being run by Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) and CRV Ambreed, which between them sire 90 percent of the country’s dairy herd through their artificial breeding bulls. . . 

NZ Food Heroes campaign takes off:

Thousands of free-range chooks have been able to keep on laying rather than getting laid off due to lockdown. It’s just one of the heart-warming stories shared in the ‘NZ Food Heroes’ campaign.

From baking to business models – nominations for the NZ Food Heroes Awardare flooding in. Diverse in nature, the entries all reflect the Kiwi brand of innovation and community spirit that has flourished during the COVID-19 crisis ensuring New Zealand has access to fresh, local produce.

Nominee Olliff Farm north of Auckland faced a dilemma. With 95 per cent of their pasture eggs supplying high-end Auckland restaurants and cafes in normal times, lockdown restrictions presented a complete loss of business income. . . 

Fonterra’s Asia Pacific market gets creative in lockdown :

Fonterra’s Asia Pacific market is living proof of the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” Judith Swales says.

Fonterra’s CEO for Asia Pacific told The Country Early Edition’s Rowena Duncum that Covid-19 restrictions had forced the co-op to rethink its approach to customers.

“Our teams have adapted really quickly and they’ve done a lot of great work. It’s about how we adapt to customers and consumers” Swales said.

One example was a trend that had popped up in Korea – creating new recipes for the garlic cream cheese bun. . . 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2020

Dairy farming courses attract career changers – Esther Taunton:

A builder, a cafe worker and a shop assistant walk on to a farm…

It might sound like the start of a joke but DairyNZ says Kiwis signing up to sample farm life are seriously considering a career change.

The industry group launched an entry-level course for career changers on Monday and has attracted interest from New Zealanders from all walks of life. .  .

Govt ignoring forestry industry’s concerns:

The Government is failing to acknowledge the valid concerns raised about its rushed and unpractical forestry regulation bill, which has led to the industry sending the Prime Minister an open letter pleading for the bill to be delayed, National’s Forestry spokesperson Hamish Walker says.

“The Bill was introduced during urgency and has been rushed through Parliament even faster than the March 15th gun reforms.

“Out of 640 submissions only 11 are supportive of the Bill, meaning almost 98 per cent of submitters oppose it. . . 

Embracing the power of food loss technology and food waste solutions to strengthen global food security:

Today there are 800 million undernourished people in the world, yet the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of the world’s food is either lost or wasted. The New Zealand government’s recent decision to allocate $14.9 million to redirect unused food will go some way to address the issue, but there are broader challenges to address.

Food loss begins in the planted field where, without pest management, up to half of all crops can be lost to pests, diseases, and post-harvest losses. Droughts and natural disasters can also be devastating.

The Treasury estimates that the 2007/08 and 2012/13 droughts jointly reduced New Zealand’s GDP by around $4.8 billion. Globally, droughts were responsible for 83 percent of all global crop losses and damage in the decade up to 2016. Floods, storms, and other catastrophic events meant a loss of approximately US$96 billion (NZ$159 billion) worth of crops and livestock between 2005 and 2015. . .

Departing Synlait SFO’s ‘hell of a journey’  :

Synlait Milk’s outgoing chief financial officer Nigel Greenwood has some simple advice for his replacement: learn to sleep faster.

Greenwood is leaving the business after 10 years that saw the processor go from being in breach of its banking covenants in 2010 to reporting its maiden profit two years later to now having a market capitalisation of $1.3 billion.

His replacement, Angela Dixon, is coming in at a pivotal point in the business,” he said. 

“The time is now right for a transition from me to someone new,” he said. . .

Why collaboration is key to New Zealand’s freshwater future:

As the dust begins to settle over the COVID-19 crisis, New Zealand has an opportunity to address another critical national challenge: the future of freshwater.

A new report by law firm Bell Gully released during Visionweek highlights current freshwater issues and looks at where the key to cleaner water might be found in a sector grappling with complex relationships between the agricultural sector, iwi, government and other stakeholders.

Natasha Garvan, lead author of The Big Picture: Freshwater, and partner in Bell Gully’s environment and resource management practice, said New Zealand requires integrated solutions around freshwater, solutions that provide economic pathways for iwi, farmers and others to make a living in a way compatible with the environment. . .

So fresh, so green: Hophead heaven is harvest time in Nelson – Alice Neville:

An urgent excursion to her hoppy homeland shows Alice Neville why brewers and beer drinkers the world over seek out Nelson’s pungent bounty.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, trainloads of working-class London families would temporarily migrate to Kent to work in the hop fields during harvest time. It was the closest thing many of them got to a holiday.

There’s something romantic about hops. They’ve got a certain olde worlde charm – row upon row of green bines (yes, they’re called bines, not vines) climbing skyward. But the reality for the Kent pickers was anything but romantic; they were often housed in squalid conditions and in 1849, cholera killed 43 hop pickers on a single farm. . .


Rural round-up

June 13, 2020

Farm jobs offer competitive pay rates say industry experts – Bonnie Flaws:

Former sports trainer Tim Wilson had always harboured dreams of working on a farm, and last year changed career to do just that.

Wilson was motived by both the lifestyle and the potential earnings that farming offered, he said.

He took a $20,000 pay cut to start as a farm assistant, but said he knew long term his earning potential was much higher on the farm.

Wilson started out as a farm assistant and was now beginning his first year training in herd management on a farm near Te Puke, close to Tauranga. . . 

Kiwi workers hold the key to vineyards’ survival, but could we cut the mustard? – Maia Hart:

As thousands become beneficiaries, New Zealand’s biggest wine region still has job opportunities. Could white collar workers really earn their keep in the vineyards? Reporter Maia Hart attempted a morning in the vines. She made minimum wage.

Flanked by rural Marlborough’s grapevines before sunrise, 34 overseas workers in their high vis vests are illuminated by headlights from the company car, jogging on the spot to get their blood pumping and stretch their muscles against the autumn chill.

The workers are in the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, a huge labour force doing critical hand pruning over winter. Amongst the group are beginners, who worked in New Zealand during summer, stuck in the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic closing borders.

Thornhill Horticulture and Viticulture supervisor Francis Law said it takes a couple of seasons before workers start to realise how much money they can make. They’re likely to make minimum wage to start with. . . 

How many logs do we need? – Dileepa Fonseka:

A new bill has forest owners fuming, but it could be the tip of the iceberg for them if NZ First are re-elected to Government

Forest owners feel blind-sided by a bill before Parliament, but more changes could be coming.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the owners of forests hadn’t lived up to their end of a social contract to grow the domestic wood processing industry. 

He signalled they could expect harsher treatment next term if NZ First were re-elected to Government.

That could start with reversing forestry’s special exemptions under the Overseas Investment Act, and could see NZ First could join forces with National after the election to make that change. . .

No going Dutch on farms – Gerard Hutching:

A Nuffield scholar from the Netherlands has been researching the difference in the roles women play in agriculture in New Zealand, which is quite different in her native country. Gerard Hutching reports. 

Dutch dairy farmer and Nuffield scholar Heleen Lansink left New Zealand recently with a heightened appreciation of the differences between the roles of women in agriculture in this country and the Netherlands. 

Lansink lives and works with her husband Rogier and their four children on a dairy farm in eastern Holland, close to the German border. They run 85 milking cows on 55ha. . . 

Asian markets bolster red meat exports :

The overall value of New Zealand red meat and co-products exported for April might have been broadly similar to the same period last year, but the impact of Covid-19 resulted in changes to some major markets.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed New Zealand exported $859million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products during the month. Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27% to $39.6million compared with last April, and down 30% to Germany ($22million).

Exports to China continued to recover, up 16% to $353.6million.

There were also increases for other Asian markets, particularly Japan, with total exports up 66% to $46.8million and Taiwan up 36% ($36.4million). . . 

New Ballance recruit is a positive sign for agriculture:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients reputation and great farmer-led culture were just some of the reasons why Auckland based IT professional, David Healy, wanted to join the team.

David Healy, an executive with over 20 years of experience leading change management initiatives for start-ups, public organisations and private companies has accepted the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) with the 100% New Zealand (NZ) owned farming co-operative.

David has a proven track record in operations management and research, product and business development across diverse industries including lifestyle company VF Corporation, Icebreaker (before and after they were purchased by VF) and Kathmandu Ltd. . . 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2020

Deer industry wary on reforms :

The deer industry remains cautious of the Government’s latest freshwater policy decisions given there is little expertise outside of the deer industry about to how minimise the impacts of deer on the environment.

While the revised regulations give deer farmers more certainty about farm compliance there are still several impractical implications for deer farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand chairman Ian Walker said.

“As an industry we have supported the need for farm environment plans so making them mandatory should not be a burden as long as the proposed farm plans address actual environmental risks and auditing reflects deer farming knowledge and understanding of deer behaviours,” Walker said. . .

Giving hill country farmers a voice – David Hill:

Growing up in Rangiora, Teagan Graham never imagined what experiences lay ahead in the sheep and beef sector.

The University of Otago student gained a Silver Fern Farms scholarship last year and then landed a summer internship with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, assisting on a project studying the future of hill-country farming.

Ms Graham is in the final year of a degree in environmental management and ecology, but little did she know when attending Rangiora High School that she could make a career in agriculture, as she was not from a farm.

‘‘You definitely can have a career in agriculture. I one-hundred percent believe it now,’’ she said. . .

Technology collars ewe super mums – Richard Rennie:

A mother’s love might be unconditional but new collar technology for sheep proves love can be determined by an algorithm, helping New Zealand sheep become more productive in the process. Richard Renniespoke to Smart Shepherd director Mike Tate about his company’s cutting-edge tracking device.

Thirty years ago when scanning technology was developed for commercial use in sheep pregnancy detection it was deservedly hailed as a leap forward in helping better measure ewe productivity.

But former AgResearch developer Dr Mike Tate said despite having scanning data sheep farmers have always faced a gap in understanding why scanning percentages are not usually matched by weaned lamb percentages. 

The Smart Shepherd technology will provide the data to fill that gap.  .  .

Horticulture student’s drive to push New Zealand’s high quality produce around the globe is rewarded:

The journey of New Zealand’s high quality nutritious food from farmer to fork is what drives Agcarm’s horticultural scholarship winner, Alexandra Tomkins in her goal to be a leader in food production.

The Massey University student is in her third year of a Bachelor of AgriCommerce degree and will put her winnings towards her student loan, which she says is “fairly daunting”.

Growing up in New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand before finishing her school studies in New Zealand, Tomkins says that, as New Zealanders, we don’t realise how good our produce is – that high quality is the norm.  She intends to share New Zealand’s story and encourage the food industry to be more consumer-centric and sustainable. . .

Big winners featured on small screen:

For the first time ever, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be screened on national television on Saturday 4th July at 7:30pm.

The Awards will be televised on Country TV’s Sky Channel 81 which will be accessible to all viewers without subscription. It will also be available online for those who do not have Sky.

“We’re excited about airing our National awards on Country TV and the additional recognition our finalists, partners and national sponsors will receive,” says NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon. . .

The global forest industry this quarter:

Global Timber Markets

    • There were relatively few price changes for sawlogs throughout the world in the 1Q/20 despite interruptions in trade and uncertainty in short-term lumber demand in many of the key markets.
    • The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) remained practically unchanged from the 4Q/19 to the 1Q/20. This followed a period of two years when the Index was in constant decline.
    • Over the past two decades, sawlog prices in Eastern Europe have gone up the most on the continent, albeit from low levels, while prices in Central Europe have declined substantially, particularly in 2019. . .

Rural round-up

June 1, 2020

Forestry Bill lambasted at select committee – Gavin Evans:

Forest owner Ernslaw One says the Government’s planned regulation of the industry may stall four projects the firm was considering to expand its processing capacity.

The potential powers the Government was seeking – to intervene in the log sales and contracts of forest owners – were ‘‘absurd’’ and went against any sensible business practices, chief executive Paul Nicholls told Parliament’s environment select committee this week.

Ernslaw One has forests throughout the country, including in the Coromandel, Gisborne, Ruapehu and Manawatu-Rangitikei regions, and Otago and Southland. . .

Hawke’s Bay $1m drought funding ‘doesn’t go very far’ – Rural Advisory Group – Tom Kitchin:

$1 million will be divided between thousands of Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with one of the worst droughts in a century.

The mayoral relief fund is expected to get the final sign off today and be on its way to farmers.

Hadley Boyle of Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay has been working through the night to make sure his farm survives.

His trees are turning orange, his dams have dried up and his cattle are not reaching their target weight. . . 

We must protect our soil, it is precious – Selva Selvarajah:

Elite soil is a disappearing priceless national asset, writes  Selva Selvarajah.

During the unprecedented and unexpected Covid-19 crisis, the supermarkets and our supply chains have served us well with an ample supply of fruits and vegetables.

Who produces our fruits and vegetables? Our horticultural farming sector, which employs more than 60,000 workers.

In 2016, we consumed $2.1billion worth of our own fruits and vegetables and exported $3.1billion worth. We consume more than 90% of our vegetables produced in New Zealand. We do import small amount of selected fruits and vegetables. With our growing population and our annual vegetable demand nearing one million tonnes, we are likely to import more. . .

Good winter grazing urged as cold weather closes in:

The Winter Grazing Action Group says farmers are taking steps to improve wintering systems despite the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions and weather events.

Action group chair Dr Lindsay Burton said it was important everyone worked together to ensure farmers had the right tools to get through winter.

“Ensuring you follow a gradual transition plan when moving your animals from pasture to crop and back again will help prevent issues. This is particularly important for cattle wintered on fodderbeet,” says Dr Burton. . . 

Proper nutrition pre-calving boost yield – Natalie Chrystal:

If milk fever is keeping you or your staff awake at night, you are not alone.

Many New Zealand dairy farms grapple with down cows at calving with research showing that on average between 2-4% of all cows across New Zealand exhibit the typical clinical signs of milk fever – so called ‘downer cows’.

Most farmers recognise that it is not only these clinical cases that cost time and money, but the estimated 30 to 40% of cows that are sub-clinically hypocalcaemic that really impact your bottom line as a result of significant negative effects on milk production.  . . 

Why do we fear the food we eat? – Jack Bobo:

Our food has never been safer, so why is it that consumers have never been more concerned? And here’s another paradox: At a time when consumers have never known more about nutrition, why is it that obesity is at an all-time high?

From fad diets to panic buying, the decisions we make about the foods we buy and the foods we eat are often the result of hidden influences of which we are little aware. The rise of “clean eating” and the marketing of “natural” foods has not made us feel safer. Instead, these trends leave us less certain and less confident in the food choices we make.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made people think a lot about where their food comes over the last few months. Consumers are asking: 1) who produced their food and where 2) who picked, processed and packaged it 3) how did it get to the food processor and then to the grocery store, and, finally 4) who placed it on the shelves? . .


Rural round-up

May 31, 2020

Town-country split needs fixing –  Rob Hewett:

March 2020 in New Zealand saw a seismic change in the economic landscape.

Covid 19 here, there and everywhere. For some, the change is likely permanent. Who’d want to have shares in an airline?

Meanwhile in agriculture, the issues of environment, sustainability, emissions, to name a few, have not evaporated. Instead, they are likely to be more important than ever.

Covid-19-disrupted food supply chains made people think carefully about where their food was coming from, probably for the first time in their lives. . . 

Poll finds a growing public appreciation of NZ’s primary exports – and new trade stats underscore their importance – Point of Order:

NZ’s  primary  exports  held  up  well  in   April, again proving  the  country’s  farming  industries are  sustaining  the  economy   despite many  sectors being stricken by the  Covid-19  pandemic.

Almost   coincidentally,  a  UMR  probe  of    public  opinion about farming revealed a sharp swing  in  perception.

Instead  of  the  negativity   that had been  undermining  morale – particularly in  the  dairy industry,  triggered  by  anti-farming  lobby groups which conjured  up the slogan “dirty dairying”  to turn urban opinion against the  industry – the  UMR polling  showed  attitudes have tilted deeper into positive  territory. . . 

Synlait drops forecast milk pirce to farmers as dairy prices fall :

Synlait has dropped its forecast milk price for the season about to end and is predicting of a lower opening price for next season.

The dairy company is forecasting $7.05 per kilo of milk solids, down from $7.25.

This is slightly below Fonterra’s recent forecast of $7.10 to $7.30.

Synlait’s opening forecast for the 2020/21 season has been set at $6.00, which is in the middle-range of Fonterra’s forecast of $5.40 to $6.90.

In the 2018/19 season the company paid $6.40 kgMS to its 280 farmer suppliers. . .

 

Sanford interim results – diversity providing resilience for New Zealand’s largest seafood company:

Sanford Limited (NZX: SAN) has reported statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) for the first half of its 2020 financial year of $19.0 million, 17% behind last year’s result of $22.9 million for the same period. Adjusted (underlying) Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) of $23.2 million for the six months to 31 March, 2020. This represents a 29% decrease on adjusted EBIT from the same period last year ($32.6 million) or a 16% decrease on a comparable basis, when excluding the pelagic business which Sanford sold in March 2019. Total revenue was $245.5 million, a 7% decrease on the same period in 2019 ($265.0 million).

Sanford is New Zealand’s largest and oldest seafood company and has a diverse range of interests across fishing and aquaculture. In recent years, it has made a strategic shift into higher value products such as Greenshell mussel powders and high end branded salmon. . . 

The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick — and shortages may get worse – Taylor Telford:

Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, has transformed its facilities across the country since legions of its workers started getting sick from the novel coronavirus. It has set up on-site medical clinics, screened employees for fevers at the beginning of their shifts, required the use of face coverings, installed plastic dividers between stations and taken a host of other steps to slow the spread.

Despite those efforts, the number of Tyson employees with the coronavirus has exploded from less than 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000 today, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records.

What has happened at Tyson — and in the meat industry overall — shows how difficult it is to get the nation back to normal, even in essential fields such as food processing. .

.

Buy local buy NZ wood:

With the current post-lockdown focus to ‘buy local’, the NZ Forest Sector Forum is posing the question – why isn’t New Zealand consuming more New Zealand wood and wood products?

According to MPI, approximately two-thirds of New Zealand wood is exported. Almost $6.93 billion was exported from NZ in 2018-19. On the flipside, New Zealand imported over $1.5 billion worth of wood products in 2019. So why are we importing a huge amount of wood products when we grow so much ourselves?

Wood products cover products that come from the woody part of the tree, and can be anything from logs to wood chips, sawn timber and railway sleepers to wood pulp. Uses for wood and wood products are constantly being reinvented, from multi-story construction to soft and absorbent toilet paper. . . 


Rural round-up

May 25, 2020

Rural life in lockdown: Farming women’s struggle with mental health and work – Bonnie Flaws:

South Island dairy farmer and company director Jessie Chan went to some pretty dark places during lockdown.

The experiences of rural women often go unheard, she said, and lockdown was particularly tough on them.

Between homeschooling her six-year old while juggling a toddler, farm and board commitments, there were often nights she was up at 11pm doing paper work.

Catching up with women in her local community in Dorie, after lockdown eased, Chan realised she was not alone as others expressed how much they had struggled. . . 

Easier without trampers, climbers, walkers, tourists – Kerrie Waterworth:

Running a high country farm next to a national park has been easier during the Covid-19 lockdown because there are no climbers, trampers, walkers and tourists on the road or property.

Fourth generation farmer Randall Aspinall and his wife, Allison, manage the 2300 ha beef and sheep property, 50km from Wanaka, at the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park.

It is estimated more than 100,000 people travel through the property each year which can present challenges, the most common of which is shifting stock.

‘‘Normally we would try to do it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and often it would be a two-person job to stop traffic at some of the choke points, whereas with no traffic you can just go and do it wherever you want to,’’ Mr Aspinall said. . . 

Coronavirus: Govt buying 2000 pigs a week as industry struggles with surplus – Esther Taunton:

With thousands of pigs unable to go to market during the coronavirus lockdown, the Government is stepping in.

Independent butchers were not allowed to open to the public while the country was at Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4, resulting in a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue.

To help clear the backlog, the Government has agreed to buy some of the surplus pork at cost, up to a maximum of 2000 pigs or 112 tonnes a week.

The meat will then be delivered to food banks by national food rescue network KiwiHarvest. . . 

Covid fails to stop moving day – Gerald Piddock:

Moving day is under way again for many dairy farm workers following several weeks of covid-19 lockdown disruption.

Level four reduced the time farmers had to move because it put on hold much of the shifting and preparation done in the lead-up to the move.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers spokesman Richard McIntyre said the resulting uncertainty caused some issues. 

Moving companies were also booked ahead months in advance and the lockdown did lead to stress, he said.

McIntyre’s sharemilking neighbours had bought a farm and were in the process of moving when the lockdown occurred. . . 

Forestry in blood of Dipton man – Yvonne O’Hara:

Many of Nic Melvin’s ancestors were in the forestry and sawmilling business in New Zealand from the 1860s and he knew from an early age he wanted a career in the sector.

From a dairy farm at Dipton, Mr Melvin (19) is in his second year of a four-year forestry science degree at the University of Canterbury.

He has been awarded this year’s Southern Wood Council’s Scholarship, worth $4500 over three years, which he’ll put towards student fees.

His father used to be a tree feller for whom he started working when aged about 13. . . 

Failed petition aims to spark more farming support – David Anderson:

Te Kuiti-based electrician Terry Waite’s demand that the Government apologise to farmers for the way it has treated them – especially over the last couple of years – has failed.

Waite was so sparked up by what he believes is the Government’s poor treatment of farmers that he started a petition, asking people to support it so it could be presented to parliament.

The petition needed to attract 100,000 signatures. He’d tried to get his petition to ask: ‘The NZ Govt to apologise to NZ farmers’. However, the bureaucrats wouldn’t allow that wording.  . .


Rural round-up

May 1, 2020

Broadband money ‘just a drop’ – Gerald Piddock:

A $15 million fund for ultra-fast broadband in rural areas is not enough to improve the technology for farmers.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” Technology Users Association chief executive Craig Young said.

The Government money will upgrade some existing mobile towers and wireless backhaul that connects remote sites and for the installation of external antennae on houses to improve coverage. . .

Winter grazing drought hits farms – Gerald Piddock:

North Island dairy farmers are struggling to find graziers to take their cows over winter because many don’t have enough feed.

The effects of the drought across Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatu mean demand for graziers outweighs supply this autumn. 

Waikato Federated Farmers dairy chairman Ben Moore said farmers are getting calls from graziers saying they cannot take their cattle as planned.  . .

West Cost Regional Council reverses wetland decision – Lois Williams:

The West Coast Regional Council has reversed its controversial decision on wetlands – giving relief to sphagnum moss harvesters around the region.

The council rejected recommendations in February on a change to the regional plan, identifying significant wetlands and giving them additional protection.

The change would also have taken some wetlands off the list and made moss harvesting a permitted activity in those areas. But the council’s resource management committee voted against it, saying the plan change did nothing for other private landowners whose properties were still on the list. . . 

Forest Growers Levy Trust commits to support industry:

The New Zealand Forest Growers Levy Trust is anticipating borrowing and using reserves to maintain as much of its yearly work programme as possible.

The Trust has decided today (29 April eds) to reduce its work programme by a million dollars, following disruption to forest exports and production caused by the international spread of coronavirus.

But the Chair of the FGLT, Geoff Thompson, says it’s anticipating covering an even larger fall in its revenue and is planning on using reserves and borrowing so as not too significantly disrupt its funding of industry good activities. . . 

Kiwifruit gives March exports a golden glow:

Exports hit a new high in March 2020, driven by kiwifruit, dairy, and meat, even as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, Stats NZ said today.

The value of total goods exports rose $215 million (3.8 percent) from March 2019 to reach $5.8 billion in March 2020. This was a record for any month – the previous high was in May 2019.

The increase in total goods exports reflected a bumper kiwifruit harvest and higher prices for milk powder and meat. This rise was partly offset by a fall in log exports, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. . . 

US could be weeks from meat shortages with shutdowns spreading – Michael Hirtzer and Tatiana Freitas:

Plant shutdowns are leaving the U.S. dangerously close to meat shortages as coronavirus outbreaks spread to suppliers across the nation and the Americas.

Almost a third of U.S. pork capacity is down, the first big poultry plants closed on Friday and experts are warning that domestic shortages are just weeks away. Brazil, the world’s No. 1 shipper of chicken and beef, saw its first major closure with the halt of a poultry plant owned by JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat company. Key operations are also down in Canada, the latest being a British Columbia poultry plant. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 7, 2020

Queues for meat plant space grow :

Meat companies Silver Fern Farms and Alliance report a dramatic lift in livestock numbers waiting to be processed as their plants are down to half capacity under covid-19 rules.

In a note to its suppliers Silver Fern Farms said queue times at its 14 plants have extended exponentially as suppliers book early to avoid congestion and because of colder weather and diminished feed.

Suppliers might be waiting three to six weeks for space, depending on stock class and region. 

An Alliance update to its co-operative members estimates several weeks’ backlog, with processing down to about 30% for beef. . . 

Famously scenic Arcadia Station sold

A Queenstown farmer has bought a scenic rural property near Glenorchy, famous as a setting for TV commercials and films like The Lord of the Rings, for an undisclosed price.

The 257ha Arcadia Station, bordered by Diamond Lake, Mount Aspiring National Park and Dart River and the Paradise property, has been farmed for 60 years by Jim Veint (83), who in turn bought it off his father, Lloyd.

Mr Veint will continue assisting with the farming operation and help recruit and train a new farm manager. . . 

Beware of false prophets – The Veteran:

There have been calls for ‘value added’ to be the driver for our export industry as long as I can remember.    Much of that directed at the timber industry.   All well in theory.   Reality trumps (bad word) theory most times.

So let’s look at timber.   Some would argue the export of raw timber (logs) should be discouraged/banned in favor of the processed product.   That this would lead to an increased number of jobs in the industry particularly now with the economy predicted to contract. . . 

Support set up for farmers facing feed shortages :

Farming groups have set up advice and support for farmers facing shortages of stock feed as they head into winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries worked with the groups on the initiative which includes a feed budgeting service and farm systems advice.

Federated Farmers said drought, the cancellation of traditional stock sale forums and reduced processing capacity at meat works meant many farmers were carrying more stock than they anticipated going into winter.

This was putting a huge strain on already stretched feed resources and farmer morale. . . 

No spilt milk during lockdown – Molly Houseman:

Last Friday looked “bleak” for Holy Cow.

The family dairy farm in Reynoldstown, near Port Chalmers in Dunedin, lost about 70% of its customers as restaurants and cafes closed for the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, and no longer needed their usual milk orders.

Owner Merrall MacNeille was left wondering: “What am I going to do with all this milk?”

However, business quickly took an unexpected turn. . . 

Rural Ambassador program brought a storm of opportunities – James Cleaver:

Is there anything better than hearing rain on the roof?

Or the smell that rolls in 10 minutes before a thunderstorm?

We all love rain for obvious reasons and let’s hope this small break gets bigger in the next few months.

Rain equals opportunity and options. It’s the tangent to allow things to grow to their full potential. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 23, 2020

Farmers, wildlife and residents alike face water shortages as regions dry up fast – Tracy Neal:

Water cuts are looming in pockets of the country drying up fast. 

Councils in affected areas are assembling dry-weather crews, farmers are now giving extra feed to stock, and Northland kiwi birds are now struggling to feed on hard-baked soil, where the dry weather has lingered longer than usual.

Dairy farmer and kiwi conservationist Jane Hutchings said in her 30 years in the area, summer is either saturated by cyclones, or parched dry.

Right now it is the latter, and the kiwi population is struggling. . . 

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

Farmers are on a green binge recycling more waste and unwanted products through the Agrecovery scheme than ever before.

Now the Government and agri manufacturers are working on a plan to make industry hitchhikers pay their way.

Agrecovery’s waste collection rates rose 40% in the past couple of years, the animal health and agrichem lobby group Agcarm says.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said the voluntary returns amount to about 437 tonnes of products, including 11 tonnes of chemicals. The total collected was about half the product in the New Zealand market at any time. . . 

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

Shrink wrapped quail eggs, lifestyle choices and social media are all playing their parts in what and how Chinese will eat heading into the new decade.

Chinese media platform company Radii has analysed latest market trends in the country’s enormous food market as the middle class continues to grow and become a more sophisticated, discerning customer for food imports from the likes of New Zealand.

In its report food journalist Mayura Jain identifies takeout food delivery showing no signs of growth experienced in the past five years slowing down.  . . 

Project aims to give vineyard managers more information in a hail storm – Maja Burry:

Researchers are working to fill the information gap for winegrowers hit by extreme weather events.

The Blenhiem-based Bragato Research Institute has started a two-year project to work out how vineyard managers can best deal with hail storm damage to their vines.

The research follows severe hail in Hawke’s Bay in October last year, which damaged about 600 hectares of vines.

Hail in Central Otago and North Canterbury damaged vines during November. . . 

New market for sunflowers leads to big burst of colour near Timaru– Esther Ashby-Coventry:

It’s hard to miss the stunning burst of yellow in paddocks full of millions of sunflowers just south of Timaru.

They sunflowers may become a five yearly feature on owner Warren Darling’s 70 hectares of land as he takes advantage of a new market.

Usually he grows rape seed, which also produces a radiant yellow display when in flower, as well as wheat and barley, but is now considering sunflowers as part of his crop rotations. . .

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

Tickets are on sale for the Women in Forestry Conference, being held from 30 April – 2 May 2020 in Whangamata.

The Women in Forestry conference will bring together women in the NZ Forestry industry, to connect, learn and share experiences.

The third event of its kind, the conference is organised by the Women in Forestry Network, a grass-roots movement founded to support women in the industry.

Women in Forestry co-founder and General Manager Sarah Davidson says there is a need for more female support in the industry. . .


We don’t need another pest

January 13, 2020

A petition calling for  calling for koala bears to be introduced to New Zealand eucalyptus plantations has gathered more than 4000 signatures.

. . .The Koala Relocation Society started the petition a week ago saying “koalas are functionally extinct in Australia, and could thrive in New Zealand, as many other Australasian species do”.

It’s estimated hundreds of thousands, even millions of animals have perished in the fires ravaging parts of Australia.

“New Zealand has 28,575 hectares planted in eucalypts, most is located in the Central North Island, and are similar to much older forests from Australia, as they grow fast here,” the petition read. . . 

Which other species that functionally thrive in New Zealand would the petitioners be talking about?

The  possums that carry TB and threaten trees and birds? The wallabies that eat native trees and farm pasture?

The toll the bushfires have taken on Australian wildlife is devastating but there are much better ways for New Zealand to help than trying to establish populations of koalas here.

We don’t need another pest.


Rural round-up

December 13, 2019

Pressure on system affecting work visas- Brent Melville:

The measles epidemic in Samoa is affecting New Zealand’s primary sector in the wake of stricter screening regulations for seasonal workers.

Seasonal Solutions co-operative chief executive Helen Axby said pressure on the health systems in Samoa and across the Pacific Islands had contributed to ‘‘major delays’’ in getting workers through the system.

Ms Axby said it was not just the health systems in Samoa that were overloaded. . . 

Taking action rather than talking provided way forward – Alice Scott:

It seems somewhat contradictory to talk about mental health and how one can get through one’s demons without talking about it. Alice Scott talked to Laura Douglas about her mental health journey.

‘‘I didn’t talk about it, but I did something about it’’, is what Laura Douglas says got her through when she found herself deeply unhappy a few years ago while working in a high-paying corporate job in Auckland.

‘‘I was in such a dark place. I was away from all of the things that I loved: farming, hunting, fishing, animals … While I had a lot of belief in my abilities, I lacked self-confidence and self-love. I let men control my decision-making and I surrounded myself with people that enabled my unhealthy habits of self-destruction.’’ she said.

Talking about her issues with close friends and family was the last thing she wanted to do. . . 

Shearing the load: four women, 2000 lambs, one day – Suzanne McFadden:

A gang of four young Kiwi women are sharpening their combs and cutters to set a nine-hour world shearing record, as the call for a women’s shearing world title grows louder.

Counting sheep – it’s supposedly an age-old remedy for fighting insomnia and lulling yourself to sleep.

But the challenge facing Sarah Higgins – of counting off 500 sheep over nine hours – threatens to keep her awake at night for the next month.   . . 

Pig virus on the march – Sudesh Kissun:

A new report warns that a virus decimating parts of the global pork industry could spread to more countries next year.

Rabobank’s Global Animal Protein Outlook 2020 says frequent shipments of feed and live animals and the movement of people and equipment across borders will spread African swine fever (ASF).

However, Rabobank’s animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate doesn’t expect additional countries to experience the same level of impact as China and Vietnam. . . 

Forests must be in land rules – Glenys Christian:

Forestry should be more closely integrated into land use policy to dispel some of the negativity surrounding increased planting on pastoral land, former hill country farmer and forestry consultant Garth Cumberland says.

“More and more of the farming community are realising the good sense and profitability of forestry.

“Its improved prospects on marginal land could potentially compete with the returns from dairying.” . . 

The dark side of plant-based food – it’s more about money than you may thinkMartin Cohen and Frédéric Leroy:

If you were to believe newspapers and dietary advice leaflets, you’d probably think that doctors and nutritionists are the people guiding us through the thicket of what to believe when it comes to food. But food trends are far more political – and economically motivated – than it seems.

From ancient Rome, where Cura Annonae – the provision of bread to the citizens – was the central measure of good government, to 18th-century Britain, where the economist Adam Smith identified a link between wages and the price of corn, food has been at the centre of the economy. Politicians have long had their eye on food policy as a way to shape society.

That’s why tariffs and other trade restrictions on imported food and grain were enforced in Britain between 1815 and 1846. These “corn laws” enhanced the profits and political power of the landowners, at the cost of raising food prices and hampering growth in other economic sectors. . . 


What do we value?

December 3, 2019

50 Shades of Green:

A conversation that NZ needs to have.

Recent comments by Peter Weir of the Forest Owners Association highlight a number of incredibly important points which Fifty Shades of Green would like to reinforce and highlight.

Peter is entirely correct when saying that the Forest Industry in New Zealand would barely exist if it were not for foreign owners. Of the industry total, over 70 percent of forests are owned by foreign companies and these typically operate on a massive scale.

Family businesses and SME’s in the Forest sector are largely restricted to Forest Management, forest services such as managing planting and pruning gangs and harvest management or logging truck drivers. None of these entities have much of a chance to buy a stake in the land they work, many of them operate on tight margins and work huge hours in jobs that require immense and admirable fortitude.

The reason forests are not typically owned by families (unless part of farm forestry) historically is because very few people can afford to wait 25 years between pay cheques. This will no doubt change with the carbon price now creating a type of climate welfare where those polluting can now essentially buy a get out of jail free card from foresters who have credits to sell. Foresters quite rightly see dollar signs in every tonne of CO2 being belched by industry.

So Peter is also right about the country having no chance of being Net Emissions neutral if we don’t plant a third of it in trees. This is because there are currently barely any plans at all to reduce our actual emissions. We are kicking that can down the road for the generation of 2050 to deal with. Let’s hope the log price is especially high then, for their sake.

So that’s essentially what it comes down to. The heart of the matter is that if you want to keep the NZ we have, you need to either screw up the Net Zero Carbon Bill and trade it for a Bill which has ACTUAL emissions reductions (not ‘net’ ones which allow us to not change anything). Or we except that tourists will be visiting the equivalent of Kaingaroa forest and battling logging trucks for the sake of forest which will likely still be exporting raw logs and carbon credits for the benefit of their foreign owners.

Not that foreign ownership matters most in the greater scheme of things, that is an aside to the real issue, the replacing of farms with forests, regardless of who owns them.

It is worth noting the difference here, because it cuts to the heart of what will really change the most in this country outside of our main cities.

A farm requires someone to live there, it needs constant attention and care or it’s ability to remain productive and a farm is lost and animals suffer. Farming families share remoteness that brings them together to create communities around their schools, halls and sports clubs. Contrary to inaccurate reports about the takeover of corporate farming, in this country the vast majority of farms are owned by owner operators and occupied by their families and those who work with them.

They also have a connection to the land which comes with being its custodian. Every paddock has a name, every fence has the history of who built it and the writing on woolshed walls tell who shore the sheep there. This explains why farmers are prepared to ignore the benefits of forestry incentives (the value of their farms goes up) in order to defend their communities.

Few forest owners (and even fewer who live beyond our shores) look at their estates and feel a sense of wanting to live there. The forests are a resource, not a piece of your identity you want to leave for your children.

The points above are not a criticism of foresters, they obviously have places they call their own, they have communities as well and landmarks they relate to, but they all go home at the end of the day and then the forests go quiet. No one swims in the rivers after school, no one starts the bbq up and has the locals over. The gate is closed and often locked.

This is a conversation that New Zealand needs to have. What do we value? And what we want our provinces to look like 30 years from now.

Urban NZ, it’s in your hands.

 Rural New Zealand is bearing the brunt of misguided policies that appease the call to do ‘something’ about climate change even though that ‘something’ is not based on science, will come at a very high economic and social cost.

That the costly ‘something’ will at best produce little environmental gain at best, and may result in higher global emissions, rubs salt into the rural wounds.

Many people from urban New Zealand might get no closer to farms than glancing over fences as they speed down state highways, but they have been vocal about selling land to foreigners.

Their voices have led to a law change that makes it almost impossible for anyone from another country to buy even a run down farm.

We need those urban voices now to join rural New Zealand in condemning the rules that allow foreigners to buy productive farmland for forestry.

We also need those voices to join the rural ones in decrying subsidies that make forestry a more attractive option than food production.

If the right trees are planted in the right places, they don’t need a subsidy.

There is a place for forestry and it’s not on land suited to raising cattle, deer and sheep.

Rural New Zealand knows this and if urban New Zealand doesn’t want the farmland they want kept in New Zealand hands to convert to foreign owned forests they need to join us in the fight for what we all value.

 


Carbon Zero still sabotaging farming

October 22, 2019

The Zero Carbon Bill has returned from the Select Committee without science-based changes:

Controversial biological methane targets in the Government’s much-touted Zero Carbon Bill remain unchanged, despite strong lobbying from both environmentalists and farmers.

After months of scrutiny from MPs from both sides of the political aisle, the environmental select committee today released its much-anticipated report on the Zero Carbon Bill.

It shows the legislation’s original commitment to reducing biological methane – greenhouse emission from cows and sheep – by between 24-47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050, remains in place.

This is despite intense lobbying for the targets to be fixed, not at a range, at either 24 or 47 per cent. . .

National is not happy. Its environmental spokesman Scott Simpson said not nearly enough of the bill had changed. . . .

Simpson said the 24-47 range not changing created uncertainty for industry players.

“It is too high given the current level of technology available to farmers to make meaningful reductions to biological methane.”

He said currently, the only way farmers can reduce this type of biological methane is by reducing their stock count. . .

Reducing stock numbers would come a high financial and social cost for at best no environmental gain and at worse a loss as our less efficient competitors increase production to fill the gap.

It also goes against the Paris Accord which stipulates climate change mitigation shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

The Government unveiled the Zero Carbon Bill in May this year with much fanfare; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a “landmark” piece of legislation.

“New Zealanders have demanded it – and today we delivered it.”

Do those who have demanded it understand the consequences and the cost of undermining food security in this way?

Do they understand they are demanding significant cuts in export income with all the hardship that will follow that?

Do they understand they are demanding steep increases in the price of food?

All the government is delivering is a flawed Bill that will take us on a pathway to misery.

 


Rural round-up

October 10, 2019

Green Rush: will pines really save the planet? – Kate Newton and Guyon Espiner:

Vast new pine forests are being hailed as a solution to New Zealand’s carbon emissions deficit – and promise a lucrative pay-day for investors. But farmers say they’re gutting rural communities, not all environmentalists see them as a silver bullet, and the profits are largely being reaped by foreign owners. 

Want to plant a pine tree? It’ll cost you a dollar. 38 cents for the seedling, a spiky, spindly finger; 55 cents for the labour to plant it; 8 cents for the cost of managing the labour.

John Rogan’s crew have planted about 350,000 of them so far. “Tree here, tree there – it’s like tossing little dollar coins on the ground,” he says. Concentrate on the variations in the grass and, like a magic-eye illustration, the seedlings flip into focus one after the other, every three metres, all the way to the grey horizon at the crest of the hill.

Rogan’s mostly teenage workers, skin burnished by wind and sun, tramp up and down hillsides, lugging 200 seedlings at a time in canvas buckets slung into harnesses. After 10 weeks of planting, their movements with spade, seedling and boot are sparse and sure: stab open a wedge of earth, jab a tree into the ground, stomp the hole closed. Stab, jab, stomp. The crew’s mascot Johnny, a beady-eyed little dog who looks like he was assembled from wispy oddments of wool, scampers behind on short legs. . .

Woman shares partner’s farm death story as lesson – Luke Kirkeby:

Harriet Bremner still struggles to talk about the death of her long-term partner.

But two and a half years on, the Canterbury primary school teacher and children’s author, whose partner James Hayman was killed in a baler in the Hakataramea Valley in 2017, is finding strength in using her grief to prevent other farm workers from putting themselves in harm’s way.

Bremner is working alongside WorkSafe New Zealand, travelling throughout New Zealand to share her story.

She recently stopped in at Putaruru College in the South Waikato where she spoke with a group of horticultural and agricultural students. Since 2013 there have been approximately 16 on-farm deaths in the Waikato alone. . . 

Doug Avery seeks to inspire Yorkshire farmers to adopt power of the positive – Ben Barnett:

Farmers have an “amazing opportunity” despite the challenges that lie ahead, as long as they forge a truly resilient mindset to embrace change, according to the author of a best-selling book about positive mental health.

New Zealand farmer Doug Avery, whose book The Resilient Farmer documents his own journey from debt-heaped depression to one of his country’s biggest agricultural success stories, wants to use his current UK tour to help smash the taboo that stops both farmers, and the wider public, from talking about poor mental health.

A farmer who is empowered by positive mental health can see through their worries and capitalise on opportunities, the 64-year-old told Country Week ahead of a public speaking appearance in Harrogate in 12 days’ time. . .

‘Gran’ shows us how it’s done – Jill Galloway:

It was hard for Suzanne Giesen when her husband John died.

She was just 32, had five children aged from 1 to 11 and had a farm to run. More than 50 years later she is still living and working on the farm.

“When John died, my father-in-law said I should go into town. I have never lived in town and I wanted to stay on the farm,” Suzanne Giesen told Rural News.

The Giesens had leased the farm for 10 years, with the right to buy. When John was around, they set about improving the property. “There was gorse in almost every paddock. I don’t think there was a stock proof fence on the place. The gorse was so thick you couldn’t walk through some paddocks.” . . 

Seeds are earning us big money  – Annette Scott:

Small seeds have yielded big gains for New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agri-food sector.

The quiet achieving seed sector pumped almost $800 million into the NZ economy last year with pasture and vegetable seeds putting food on the table in more ways than one.

A new economic impact report shows NZ’s world class seed production is one of the country’s smallest primary industries but with a modest footprint it contributes much more to NZ’s bottom line than many realise, NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said.

Business and Economic Research (BERL) reports the total output value of seeds grown in 2018 was $798m, adding $329m to NZ’s GDP. . . 

 

Biotech policy a step in the right direction, says Agcarm:

The peak association that represents New Zealand’s animal medicine and crop protection industries welcomes the National party’s new biotech policy.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says that updating New Zealand’s biotechnology regulations to embrace the latest science will “allow life-saving medicines, benefit the environment, eradicate pests and boost food production”.

“New Zealand is being stalled from adopting the latest science due to archaic laws that halt innovation. . . 


Threats & hypocrisy

October 2, 2019

Fresh from a gentle slap on the wrist from the Prime Minister for his vote-for-us-or-else comments, Shane Jones was threatening utu:

Shane Jones has a stern word of warning for foreign-owned forestry companies looking to undermine him: “Political utu is a dish best served cold”.

He said the people who tried to undermine him would learn this lesson closer to the next election. 

Is he not expecting to be a minister closer to the election that he thinks thinks he can say something then his role prevents him from saying now?

Jones made the remarks after he was publicly rebuked by the Prime Minister for trying to solicit votes for NZ First at the Northland Forestry Awards. . . 

But now Jones is firing back. He wants the attendees to know he’s aware of who they are, and their relationship to the National Party. 

“They were playing a dangerous game,” Jones said.

“I know them. A handful work for international forestry companies,” he said. 

“It is wrong for overseas-owned forestry companies to have their staff briefing the media and using the same language as the National Party against me.” . . .

This is appalling for any MP, let alone a Minister, and what makes it worse is the hypocrisy.

His one billion trees policy is encouraging forestry and, while making it all but impossible for foreigners to buy land for farming, the government he’s part of is making it easier for them to buy farms to plant in trees for forestry.

 


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