Ministers paid to do hard stuff

13/01/2022

East Coast farmers are justifiably angry that 5,000 hectares of good pastoral land could be turned into a foreign-owned carbon farm:

Newshub understands the sale is all but final – it’s pending approval from the Overseas Investment Office. 

Locals are devastated and say it’s the beginning of the end for not only farming in the region but the region itself.  . . 

“Buying good land and planting it in trees, with the idea of just shutting the gate, is ridiculous,” says local farmer Dan Griffin.

Under the Emissions Trading Scheme, set up to help New Zealand meet its carbon-neutral goal by 2050, carbon has become a currency. The trees earn ‘credits’ for the carbon dioxide they soak up and those credits can be sold to a company needing to offset its emissions.

It’s a lucrative business, but Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz is worried it will drive out communities because it won’t offer jobs. 

“Those families living there are the lifeblood of our smaller communities. Those are the families that fill up our schools, are the bus drivers, and if you take that away those smaller communities die,” Stoltz says.

Huiarua employs at least eight people, meaning that’s eight families left without work. There’s also the shearing gangs, wool buyers, the meatworks in Wairoa, and even the local school. . . 

The government’s policy of allowing foreigners to buy farmland for carbon forest but not for farming is economic, environmental and social sabotage.

And what does Forestry Minister Stuart Nash say?

“Taking out a 5000-hectare station for carbon forestry, that is not a good use of land. If it was true, I’d be very disappointed,” he says.

It’s why the Government promised to give councils more power to stop fertile land from being converted to forestry. But more than a year later, nothing has changed.

“It’s not as simple as I initially imagined, and I’m the first to concede that. We’re doing a lot of work in this space to get this right,” Nash says. . . 

It was simple enough to enact legislation that allows land sales to foreigners for carbon forests, how hard can it be to reverse it?

Even if sorting out this mess of the government’s own making isn’t simple, Ministers are paid to do hard stuff and the need to correct this very expensive mistake, in social, environmental and economic terms, is urgent.

 


Rural round-up

17/12/2021

Primary producers overcome big challenges (including govt regulations) to lift export revenue in latest forecasts – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  primary  producers  deserve   a  Christmas bouquet – or a big hamper stuffed with goodies – as food  and  fibre  export revenue is projected  to top $50 billion for the  first  time   next  year.  They are achieving this despite  the challenges of regulatory compliance, increasing costs for inputs such as feed and fertiliser, Covid impacts on freight movements and constraints around labour availability.

Total export value is expected to rise 6% to $50.8bn in the year to June 30 2022, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report released today.

Ministers were quick to hop on the bandwagon, despite framing many of the  new regulatory constraints.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the healthy growth forecast across the majority of the primary industries showed the future of the food and fibre sector is bright. . . 

Science New Zealand 2021 Awards :

This year’s annual awards celebrated 24 awardees across three award categories – Early Career Researcher, Individual / Lifetime Achievement and Team. A Supreme Award winner was chosen from the 24 awardees. 

Supreme Award Winner

The AgResearch Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep Team

AgResearch’s Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep leads the world in breeding sheep that produce less methane. This innovation gives farmers practical tools to lower methane emissions on their farms. As methane is a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas, this could contribute significantly in helping to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions.

Gains made by using this technology in sheep flocks are permanent and cumulative. The team’s work is gaining momentum with other livestock industries, particularly cattle and deer. . . 

Student Jo Search helps fill vacancies in agriculture, fishing and forestry – Niva Chittock:

Student Job Search is coming to the rescue of farmers and growers crying out for skilled workers.

There’s been a 76 percent increase in the number of jobs it’s offering in agriculture, fishing and forestry.

At the same time, student earnings from these jobs have more than doubled, totalling just under $7 million in the last financial year.

Student Job Search places around 27,000 students into work every year. . . 

Rockit sees strongest year yet with 45% growth:

Innovative New Zealand apple company, Rockit Global Limited is celebrating its strongest season yet, with forecast turnover up 45 percent year on year in a tough economic environment.

Global demand for its snack sized apples is continuing to grow exponentially, with the high-performing business this year recording 33 percent growth in bin volume, resulting in over 75 million apples being packed and shipped to consumers around the world. Rockit is also forecasting orchard gate returns of around NZD $230,000 per hectare on mature orchards.

Rockit Global CEO Mark O’Donnell puts these impressive results down to a combination of the company ‘doing things differently’ on the global stage through innovation, backed by its disruptive new brand and great product.

“To see such a robust result among this year’s economic challenges is extremely exciting,” says Mark. “As global consumer demand increases – and more Rockit trees are planted to meet this – we’ve implemented leading edge automation and artificial intelligence to meet our strong growth trajectory and reduce reliance on manual labour across all parts of the supply chain– which is also creating higher value, and more innovative roles for our people.” . .

Hawke’s Bay pumpkin milk wins big in New York :

A Hawke’s Bay company making a pumpkin milk has been recognised at the World Plant-Based Awards in New York.

The product, known as Kabocha Milk, is produced by one of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers.

The company said squash is staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and the milk allows them to make use of crops which aren’t export grade due to cosmetic blemishes.

It’s milk is stocked in two high-end Japanese retail store chains which plans to extend to 5,000 stores across Japan, Korea and China in the next couple of years. . . 

Australian manuka industry hails UK trademark decision as a victory for common sense:

The Australian Manuka Honey Association is delighted that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has rejected an application by a group of New Zealand producers to trademark the words “Manuka honey”, recognising that it is a purely descriptive term for a type of honey. The decision will have widespread ramifications in jurisdictions beyond the United Kingdom.

In reaching its decision, the IPO accepted there was significant evidence that the general public understands manuka honey is not produced exclusively in New Zealand, but rather originates from a number of places including Australia.

Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) Chairman Paul Callander said: “This decision is the right decision and a fair decision. The term manuka has been used in Australia since the 1800s and the Australian industry has invested significantly for decades in manuka honey science, research and marketing. It would be deeply unfair – and financially devastating – to deny that reality.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/12/2021

More than 300 lambs worth $40k stolen from Ruawai farm – Sally Murphy:

The Kaipara mayor, who is also a sheep and beef farmer, has had $40,000 worth of stock stolen.

Jason Smith had 307 new season lambs disappear from his Ruawai farm between 17 November and 1 December.

Smith said the farm manager noticed they were missing last week when they were being mustered to the yards to be sold.

“This is not just a small number of like 10 sheep or three steer missing, this is 307 lambs it’s a sizeable mob for someone to walk or drive away. . . 

Forestry on farms fires up speakers – Shawn McAvinue:

Is forestry a threat to rural communities or an opportunity too good to refuse?

About 70 people attended the panel debate “Plantation forestry — threat or opportunity?” in Dunedin last week.

Independent debate chairman Stephen Woodhead, of Milton, gave each of the four panel members 10 minutes to speak.

Ministry for Primary Industries Te Uru Rakau forest and land use senior adviser Duncan Harrison, of Christchurch, said a Ministry for the Environment report published in October estimates up to 1.37million ha of new forest — a mix of native and exotic — could be planted in New Zealand between 2020 and 2050. . . 

Forestry operators hope for recovery after ‘perfect storm’ hits log prices :

Forestry contractors are bracing for a tough summer as they wait for log prices to recover and harvesting to regain momentum.

Prices were at near record levels earlier in 2021, but last month sunk to lows not seen since late 2015.

As a result the amount of logs heading to ports had slowed significantly, with many harvesting crews being told to work at a reduced capacity, or down tools.

China is New Zealand’s largest overseas market for logs, accounting for about 70-90 percent of exports. . .

Golden Shears cancelled for second year due to Covid-19 uncertainty :

New Zealand’s major shearing event has been cut for the second year in a row, with organisers sighting uncertainty due to Covid-19.

The Golden Shears had been held at Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium each March for 60 years.

The 2021 competition was called off at just four days’ notice after a Covid-19 alert level change.

Golden Shears International Shearing Championships Society president Sam Saunders said cancelling for the second time was an extremely tough call, as everyone on the committee knew how important the event was to the farming community and Masterton. . . 

Exploring regen-ag with an evidence driven approach :

Ngāi Tahu Farming will transition an iwi-owned dairy block to regenerative agriculture principles and practices, while measuring multiple variables to build a data set that demonstrates the difference between its conventional and regenerative dairy systems. The trial was influenced by an earlier collaboration with the Next Generation Systems programme.

Ngāi Tahu Farming is designing a farm-scale trial that will transition an iwi-owned dairy block to regenerative agriculture principles and practices. This trial will see Ngāi Tahu Farming monitor and measure multiple variables, to build a data set of information that demonstrates the difference between its conventional and regenerative dairy systems. The farm-scale trial will build on a completed trial of regenerative practices on an iwi-owned 114-hectare dairy support block.

The design of the dairy system trial has also spurred discussion about te ao Māori and farming values within Ngāi Tahu. A new iwi consultancy group has been formed for the purpose of helping Ngāi Tahu shape the mātauranga Māori principles in the trial, and to help filter information coming out of the trial back to the iwi.

The decision to undertake these trials, applying a scientifically rigorous approach, was influenced by Ngāi Tahu Farming’s earlier collaboration on Farm Soil Health with the Next Generation Systems research programme, led by Dr Robyn Dynes, strategy lead and senior scientist at AgResearch, and funded by Our Land and Water. . . 

Waitiri Creek not your usual winery – Cy Sinderson:

It’s said that a business is always a reflection of its leadership. So, a CEO who has been given no mandate to grow his or her business from the shareholders will always cultivate a culture of conservatism within the company. On the other hand, a CEO who has been given a free hand is far more likely to create an atmosphere where risk taking is actively encouraged.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Waitiri Creek is not your usual winery. Having an owner and general manager with the business reputation and overall clout of Alistair Ward means that his family’s boutique Otago winery is never going to follow the same safe path that so many other wineries tread. In his other life as a director on multiple corporate boards and co-owner of corporate advisors Campbell MacPherson, Alistair is used to dealing with weighty business transactions like mergers, acquisitions, divestments, capital raising and debt finance. And when your clients include a rollcall of national heavyweights like Hynds, Fonterra, Holcim and Ravensdown, you are not used to dodging the hard decisions.  So it is of little surprise that Alistair has dared to continually steer guide the family vineyard into new territories. . .


Rural round-up

24/11/2021

Sometimes we forget where our watches come from – Peter Cresswell:

The weekend’s #Groundswell protests, and the #Groundswell movement itself, were intended to highlight the plight of the New Zealand farmer under an unsympathetic regime. Instead, however, the organisers have allowed it to become easily gaslighted as something it’s not. As racist, or anti-vax. 

And the important message has been lost: that it’s NZ farmers who allow us to live in first-world comfort — that it’s their exported produce that allows us to buy, at not unreasonable prices, all the technology of the world. As Ludwig Von Mises explained back before electronics took over:

The inhabitants of [Switzerland] prefer to manufacture watches instead of growing wheat. Watchmaking is for them the cheapest way to acquire wheat. On the other hand the growing of wheat is the cheapest way for the Canadian farmer to acquire watches.

The lesson remains the same. To paraphrase now, for us: . . .

‘It’s getting harder and harder to farm’ – Farmers rally for second protest :

Farmers and their townie mates are determined to keep pressuring the government to back off what they see as unnecessary expensive changes after Sunday’s nationwide Groundswell protests.

Driving tractors and utes, they clogged streets in all of the main centres on Sunday to have their say on the government’s Three Waters reforms.

It was the second time the Groundswell group had organised such action, calling the rally the “Mother Of All Protests”.

It was hard to get a handle on the exact numbers taking part, with everybody mostly remaining in their cars and socially distanced, but one thing was for sure: the protesters were rowdy. . . 

New coalition demands a halt to further large-scale exotic carbon farming :

The Native Forest Coalition representing the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Rod Donald Trust, the Tindall foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Adam Forbes, has released a policy statement and recommendations on native forests, highlighting the urgent need to halt the rapid proliferation of pine plantations driven by high carbon prices and short-term policy settings.

The Coalition strongly favours prioritising native forestry over exotics and argues that before seeking offshore carbon forest credits, government should invest in native forests, for their myriad of benefits, at home. The Coalition’s concerns are summarised in the policy statement below: 

“In tackling the climate change crisis, there’s an urgent need to move away from short-term thinking and siloed government policy. We need a shift towards joined-up strategies that also address the biodiversity crisis, the degradation of waterways and risks to rural communities.  . .

Online job expo hopes to entice seasonal workers for picking season :

A job expo which helps link job seekers with jobs in the horticulture sector is moving online this year.

Last year, Employment and Careers South held a series of expos around Southland and Otago to help those who found themselves unemployed due to the pandemic get jobs in the horticulture sector which was short staffed due to the border closure.

With summer just around the corner and the border still shut – some growers are still facing a worker shortage going into the vital picking season.

With Covid event restrictions the job expo called Super Summer Jobs has gone online this year. . . 

Hill Country Futures programme:

Innovative tools to support farmers and farm consultants in pasture planning are expected to become available next year as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot, who is leading several of the research areas that make up the programme, said findings from a number of projects are now being written up.

These include a simple model to help farmers forecast potential yields of lucerne for their properties, a national database of pasture growth data, and legume production data to help farmers assess the difference in productivity they could achieve by replacing resident pasture with improved pasture.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m partnership programme, co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds. . .

Manawa Honey wins four awards at the London Honey Awards 2021:

A small honey producer from Ruatāhuna, in the remote Te Urewera wilderness, crowned Best Tasting Honey in the World earlier this year, has now won four awards at the London International Honey Awards 2021.

Manawa Honey’s Manuka Honey and Tawari Honey won Gold, and their Rewarewa Honey and Pua-a-Tane Wild Forest Honey won Silver. The London Honey Awards attract hundreds of entries from over 30 countries across the world each year. Entries are judged on a range of criteria including the general sense of enjoyment, taste and appearance.

These achievements and awards are now snowballing for this honey producer that has its community rather than commerce alone at heart. Ruatāhuna is situated deep in Te Urewera forest, home to the Tūhoe tribe. It has a population of only about 350 people residents and is a one-hour drive from the nearest town, Murupara and two-hour’s drive from Rotorua. . . 


Rural round-up

29/10/2021

Tourism reset would hurt agricultural exporters :

The Government’s proposal to reduce future international tourism visitor numbers post-COVID to concentrate on higher spending visitors may solve one problem but create others.

Research by Lincoln University’s Dr Rob Radics, Dr Muhammad Umar, and Associate Professor Anthony Brien, highlighted that most of our agricultural products delivered fresh to market are transported on passenger planes, and tourists contribute to the cost.

The drop in tourism numbers could push up transport costs to the point some businesses do not export at all and are put out of business.

Their work showed that before COVID-19 hit, there were 550 international flights into and out of New Zealand each week, which carried 80% of New Zealand’s overall export airfreight in their belly-holds, and that it was worth $10.8 billion in December 2019. . . 

A fillip for farmers from Fonterra’s milk-payment forecast – Point of Order:

In    a  timely   boost  to  the  rural regions,  Fonterra has raised its forecast milk payment to farmers for this season to match its previous record high  of  8.45kg/MS, as demand for dairy holds up while supply tightens.

The giant co-operative lifted and narrowed its forecast farmgate milk price range for the 2021/22 season to between $7.90 and $8.90kg/MS from the  initial $7.25 to $8.75  kgMS.

The midpoint of the range on which farmers are paid increased to $8.40 kg/MS, from $8 last  season.  That would match the previous record, paid in the 2013/14 season, and would result in almost $13bn flowing into regional New Zealand.

The  country is heading into its peak milk production period in late spring and output so far is below last season, constrained by poor weather and limits on expansion. Milk production is also soft elsewhere, because  of  poor weather and high feed costs. . . 

Log exports to peak before dropping more than a third within decade – Forsyth Barr – Nona Pelletier:

Major changes are looming for the forestry sector as the deluge of raw log exports fades amid dwindling supplies and demands increase from the building industry and other users.

An industry report by investment house Forsyth Barr suggests the mainstay of the industry, log exports, will peak and then drop by more than a third within a decade.

“Export volumes will peak by 2026 then decline as insufficient planting activity after the 1990s boom means total harvest volumes will fall,” report author and head of research Andy Bowley said.

“The use of wood domestically is undergoing a transformation through the use of trees to sequester carbon, power boilers and as a low carbon building material alternative.” . . 

Primary sector returns strengthen export-led recovery:

Farmers’ hard work in leading New Zealand’s export-led recovery from COVID-19 is being rewarded with high prices forecast for milk and very strong returns for meat, says Trade and Export Growth and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Fonterra announced today a record predicted milk price of $7.90 to $8.90 for the coming season. The mid-point of $8.40 would match the previous record set in 2014. The announcement follows continuing high demand for NZ-grown meat.

“Our farmers and growers have been working hard maintaining their volumes and together, through the COVID response, we’ve been able to keep supply chains ticking and freight links open,” said Damien O’Connor.

“The resilience of all export sectors is vital to our ongoing economic strength. Just as we aim to have diversified export markets, we’re also focussed on growing all our export sectors.” . . 

Pāmu and Westpac NZ agree market- leading sustainability-linked loan :

Westpac NZ and Pāmu have signed New Zealand’s most comprehensive Sustainability-Linked Loan to date, also the largest in the agricultural sector, and the first involving a state-owned enterprise.

Pāmu, also known as Landcorp, is New Zealand’s biggest farming business. It will borrow $85m from Westpac NZ over three years. To incentivise continued improvement in sustainability performance, Pāmu will receive a pricing discount from Westpac NZ if it meets material and ambitious performance targets and pay higher interest costs if it fails to reach them.

It is the first Sustainability-Linked Loan in the agricultural sector to include a 1.5-degree Science-Based emissions reduction target that will be validated against global best practice. . .

Farm 2050 coalition names first five nutrient technology trial startups :

 Finistere Ventures and Innovation Endeavors today revealed the first five companies selected for the Farm2050 Nutrient Technology Trialing Platform, a dual-hemisphere agritech testing and validation platform. The Farm2050 Nutrient Trialing Platform aims to identify, validate and demonstrate at scale promising technologies in nutrient management and water contamination reduction across broad acre crops, horticulture and pasture-based dairy in collaboration with agritech investors, farmers, researchers and startup companies around the globe.

The innovators chosen for the first wave of trials in New Zealand include:

– ClimateAi, which uses AI to tackle climate risk across the food supply chain

– CropX, an established farm management platform with soil sensing and nitrogen monitoring solutions. . 


Rural round-up

22/10/2021

Benefits all round in NZ-UK free trade deal:

Federated Farmers says today’s announcement of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand is great news for consumers and farmers in both countries.

“The United Kingdom is walking the talk when it comes to promising a truly global Britain,” Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard says.

“We congratulate the New Zealand team of negotiators, officials and politicians who have tenaciously pursued this deal. The result is impressive. It’s a job well done.”

Federated Farmers has a long history of supporting efforts to free up global trade and it takes every opportunity to get producers in other countries to embrace trade liberalization. . .

UK FTA ‘back to the future’ :

Today’s announcement of a comprehensive new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom will offer some welcome variation in market access to New Zealand exporters, say the EMA.

“It’s great news for many of our export members, particularly in the horticulture, wine and honey sectors. The dropping of 97% of all tariffs from day one is a major success and the access to new investment in both direction is also significant,” says Chief Executive, Brett O’Riley.

“I don’t think New Zealand would have had this level of free access into the UK since before the UK first went into the then European Economic Community (EEC) back in 1973. That was a black day for many exporters, but this announcement is a bit ‘Back to the Future’ in terms of access.” . . 

NZ Apple industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Apples & Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing the country’s apple, pear and nashi growers, has welcomed the announcement from the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Trade Minister, Damien O’Connor, that an agreement in principle has been reached on a Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom.

“We congratulate Minister O’Connor and the MFAT negotiating team for achieving this outstanding outcome”, says NZAPI chief executive Alan Pollard.

“The United Kingdom is a very important market for our apples and pears, regularly featuring in the top two or three markets by volume. . . 

Wrestling with forestry decisions – Keith Woodford:

Carbon and forestry, increasingly linked to overseas investors, continue to outmuscle sheep and beef but nothing about carbon is simple

I had intended this week to move away from forestry to other topics. But once again, I have been drawn back to forestry because it is the biggest issue right now facing rural land-use.

For those who are farming sheep and beef there is the disconcerting reality, but also in some cases exciting reality, that carbon farming is now the most profitable land use.

Somewhat ironically, this changing land-use is also relevant to the dairy industry, which in combination with the other pastoral land uses is supposed by 2030 to reduce methane by 10 percent. It is looking as if much of this might now come from the decline in sheep and beef. . .

Meat industry backs mandatory vaccination for sector workers :

The meat processing industry says it would support a vaccine mandate for staff.

It comes after the Government last week announced it would make vaccinations mandatory for education and health sector employees.

The Meat Industry Association believes the Government should also consider a mandate for other high-risk sectors, such as meat processing.

Association spokesperson Esther Guy-Meakin said it had written to the Food Safety and Associate Health Minister, Ayesha Verrall to make its views clear. . .

Strategically developed farm Eco farm with high regard for the environment is placed on the market for sale :

A strategically developed New Zealand sheep and beef farm aligned to an international award-winning environmental enhancement project has been placed on the market for sale.

The 377-hectare property on the Mahia Peninsula between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay comprises rich pumice soils sustaining a mixture of fodder crops, fertile grazing pasture, and strategically planted native developments.

Over the past two decades, the farm – known as Taharoa – has been developed with a focus on creating an environmentally-sustainable operation. Two kilometres of the Whangawehi River flow through Taharoa. An organisation known as the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group was established to protect some 3,600 of land on Mahia Peninsula where Taharoa is located. . . 


Rural round-up

08/10/2021

Post-1990 forest owners face complex decisions – Keith Woodford:

There are close on 400,000 hectares of non-registered post-1989 forests eligible to join the ETS. Once registered, many owners could within one year earn $7500 or more per hectare in historical credits back to 2018

 This is a further article in a series I have been writing exploring the issues of carbon farming.   The issues are important because we are on the cusp of massive land-use changes. These are driven by the current economics of carbon farming now being far superior to sheep and beef farming on most classes of land.

Carbon farming is part of a virtual market, called the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) in which there is no exchange of a physical product. As such, the ETS is controlled by Government rules and regulations, rather than by physical supply and demand factors.

The carbon farming component of this virtual market relates to post-1989 forests. These are forests on land that was not in forest on 31 December 1989 or in the immediately preceding years.   . . 

From ‘hopeless in the hills’ to hearty hunter – Tracey Roxburgh:

Partly, it’s the thrill of the chase. Mostly it’s spending hours alone in his backyard — the hills around Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes — that puts a smile on Lee Murray’s dial.

Originally from Cromwell, Mr Murray moved to Australia when he was about 11 after his father got a job there in the mines.

After attending high school there, he moved back to Cromwell when he was 17 and decided he wanted to get into hunting.

‘‘I used to try and tag along with the boys that were hearty hunters [such as] Duncan Stewart. He’s a really well-known hunter in the Central Otago region, and I was terrible,’’ the 36-year-old said. . . 

Vet labour shortage at crisis point, recruitment agency says – Sally Murhpy:

Some vet clinics around the country are closing down – because they can’t get enough staff – a recruiter says.

In June the government announced 50 general practice vets would be allowed to enter the country with a border exception – to help with the labour shortage.

But The New Zealand Veterinary Association says only two have arrived – a further 11 are waiting for a spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).

Chief executive Kevin Bryant said they were hearing from overseas vets that they were reluctant to start the visa process due to the delays they are seeing with the MIQ process. . . 

Sunsmart farming is smart farming :

Federated Farmers wants to remind farmers and growers this is a good time to be thinking about getting “sunsmart” for summer.

More than 4000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year, accounting for 80% of skin cancer deaths in New Zealand.

It has been estimated up to 25% of farmers and growers have had a skin cancer.

Farmers and growers are at higher risk of catching melanoma due to New Zealand’s UV radiation intensity, and the time they spend outside. . . 

Lanolin market driven by increase in end-use industries :

Lanolin Market Driven By Increase in end-use industries, such as personal care and cosmetics, baby care products, and pharmaceuticals.

The worldwide market research report Lanolin Market scrutinizes the market’s current trends and growth indicators from 2021 to 2030. The research gives a detailed analysis of global demand, developing trends that are affecting this demand’s potential.

This report covers a variety of crucial but different topics. Moreover, it studies the latest technologies that will influence the Lanolin market future and global acceptance. As efficiency-enhancing technologies are condemning for market progress, our research analysts spoke with key opinion leaders and Lanolin industry players to provide the clients with an extensive picture of the market’s potential. . . 

Experience Comvita’s story of innovation and connection at World Expo 2020 Dubai:

Comvita, global market leader in Mānuka honey, is celebrating the start of Expo 2020 Dubai, with its own Expo experience, including the launch of an immersive digital showcase, designed to create a global movement where bees, people and nature can thrive in Harmony.

Comvita is a member of the Care Collective, one of the key sponsors and suppliers of the New Zealand Pavilion and is proud to share its connection to the New Zealand Pavilion theme of Care for People and Place.

Comvita Group CEO, David Banfield, says “The concept of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship of nature, has been one of Comvita’s guiding principles from the day we were founded in 1974. So for us, there is a genuine sense of alignment and connection with that New Zealand theme, which really embodies our entire purpose as an organisation. . . 


Rural round-up

16/09/2021

‘I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of’ dairy farmers under siege – Joanne Wane:

Dairying has been so demonised for damaging the planet that the children of some Kiwi farmers have been beaten up at school, writes Joanna Wane. Two families who’ve been on the land for five generations talk back.

Northland dairy farmer Hal Harding describes his daughter, Anna, as “a bit of an eco warrior”. The pair work alongside each other on land south of Dargaville that his early-settler ancestors bought back in 1877. But when Anna moved back home just before Covid struck, after a few years in Europe, she was having serious doubts about whether the life she’d been born into was on the right side of history.

“In the UK, there were plant-based cafes popping up left, right and centre,” she says. “I started to think, ‘Is that what we should be doing? Is dairying bad? Is this stuff all these people are telling me true?’ There were facts for one side, and facts for the other that were just as convincing. But it felt too easy to say, ‘Just eat plants and the planet will be saved.’ When I heard about this whole regenerative farming thing, I was like ‘Thank God’. My gut feeling landed; it felt right.”

The Hardings have hand-planted thousands of native trees to reforest parts of the property and adapted their farming practices to nurture soil health by minimising the use of pesticides and commercial fertilisers. They’re also planning to move away from the traditional grazing regime. For Anna, who’s now 30, it’s about believing that a different model of farming can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, at a time when the agricultural sector is increasingly under siege. . . 

Unskilled pruning of labour force is rotten policy :

The Government’s confirmation of the availability of Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from selected countries is not enough to fix its rotten approach to labour supply, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“Prior to the Delta Covid outbreak the Government announced the availability of RSE workers from certain countries.

“While the Government’s decision to approve some RSE workers may provide some token assistance, it won’t change the fundamental flaws in a labour supply policy that’s rotten to the core.

“For example, we see 15 per cent increases in labour costs in the kiwifruit industry, and an apple industry that still has a gap in the loss of the backpacker labour supply. . . 

Low venison prices leave farmers frustrated – Maja Burry:

A deer industry leader is worried farmers will start exiting the sector if venison prices don’t improve.

Covid-19’s impact on the restaurant trade worldwide has come as a major blow, with deer farmers now facing depressed prices for the second year in a row.

The latest figures from AgriHQ show in July 2021 venison average export values fell short of the five-year average of $13.75/kg by $3.67/kg, and was $1.28/kg below July last year.

Deer Farmers Association chairperson John Somerville said the organisation recently shared the concerns of many farmers in a letter to all of New Zealand’s venison marketing company chief executives. . . 

Meat pushes food prices to fifth successive rise:

Food prices rose 0.3 percent in August 2021 compared with July 2021, mainly influenced by higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish, and restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, Stats NZ said today.

Though modest, August’s movement is the fifth consecutive monthly rise. After adjusting for seasonality, prices rose 0.2 in August 2021.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices were up 1.3 percent in August, mainly influenced by higher prices for roasting pork (up 11 percent), sausages (up 3.5 percent), lamb chops (up 5.4 percent), and porterhouse and sirloin steak (up 2.3 percent). This was partly offset by lower prices for chicken pieces (down 3.3 percent).

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.4 percent, influenced by higher prices for some takeaway food. . .

Why would you want to own a forest? – The Detail:

The forestry industry is beset by supply chain issues, port disruptions, oversupply in China, sky-high shipping rates, the Delta disaster …. and that’s before you even look at the difficulties of cutting down the trees.

On top of that the industry gets a bad rap from the rural sector for being a ‘spray and walk away’ business that’s eating up valuable grazing land, for damage done to the landscape, and for contributing to a lack of employment.

So why would anyone invest in a forest?

Forestry is not for the faint-hearted – but for the persistent, there are good rewards. . . 

Netherlands proposes radical plans to cut livestock numbers by almost a third – Senay Boztas:

Dutch farmers could be forced to sell land and reduce the amount of animals they keep to help lower ammonia pollution.

Dutch politicians are considering plans to force hundreds of farmers to sell up and cut livestock numbers, to reduce damaging ammonia pollution.

After the highest Dutch administrative court found in 2019 that the government was breaking EU law by not doing enough to reduce excess nitrogen in vulnerable natural areas, the country has been battling what it is calling a “nitrogen crisis”.

Daytime speed limits have been reduced to 100kmph (62mph) on motorways to limit nitrogen oxide emissions, gas-guzzling construction projects were halted and a new law pledges that by 2030 half of protected nature areas must have healthy nitrogen levels. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/09/2021

No sector agreement on new methane target – David Anderson:

Despite agreement among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). . . 

Visa frustrations push Timaru dairy worker towards Australia – Chris Tobin:

Ariel Ocon has been working on South Island dairy farms for 13 years, but visa frustrations have him seriously considering heading to Australia with his family.

“To stay here legally I had to apply for a work to residence visa. They (Immigration NZ) said you will wait for 16 months from the time you applied. I applied in 2019, and I’m still waiting,” Ocon, who works on a farmer near Timaru, said.

“I just received an email from them saying in two months they would allocate a case officer to process my application. I still haven’t got a case officer.”

Ocon’s frustration comes as Australia has provided financial incentives attempting to attract New Zealand immigrant dairy workers to relocate there. Ocon knows other Filipino workers who have already opted to leave. . . 

Animal welfare crisis looms as Minister butchers opportunity :

An animal welfare crisis is looming as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor fails to pay attention to what’s going on around him, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Last year, during the first Covid lockdown, the Government spent $5.8 million buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating them to charity.

“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had an animal welfare problem of significant scale on our hands.

“Now the issue is looming again in this current lockdown and Minister O’Connor is missing in action.

“The Government’s stubborn refusal to allow butcher shops to open during all Covid levels is based on the reasoning that they are riskier than standing in a queue, or shopping at, supermarkets and dairies. . . 

Native trees to be planted on unusable forestry land to protect waterways – Bonnie Flaws:

One of the country’s largest forestry plantation owners, Aratu Forests, has signed a 90-year agreement with eLandNZ to plant native trees on unusable land, creating permanent buffers alongside waterways.

The partnership, brokered by law firm Anderson Lloyd, plans to stop forestry waste, such as logs, from being washed into waterways by planting native trees on otherwise unusable stretches of land across 33,000 hectares of forestry plantation, mostly in the Gisborne region, forestry law specialist Dan Williams​ said.

About 170 ha of riparian land would be planted this year, according to the eLandNZ website. . . 

Avocado exports face headwinds this year – Hugh Stringleman:

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their fruit harvested this spring and summer, mainly because of avocado oversupply in Australia.

The average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of $23 for fruit that was exported.

Last season was particularly good for growers, who received $26/tray and $42,000/ha OGR across slightly more than 4000ha in production, half of which is in Bay of Plenty.

Primor chief executive John Carroll says the new export season began on September 1, with some air freight to Asian markets and the first shipments to Australian supermarkets. Primor is a partner in the joint venture company Avoco, the majority exporter of avocados. .

No waster farm to plate – Rebecca Fox:

After his first visit to Queenstown, chef Ryan Henley said to himself  that is where he would retire to. But he has not had to wait that long, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Ryan Henley has his butcher’s knife out and is about to start cutting up a side of wagyu beef that has just arrived.

It is an unusual sight in a hotel kitchen to see a 400kg side of beef lying there.

But Henley would not have it any other way. His new job as executive chef at QT Queenstown means he can call the shots.

That means following his no-wastage, farm-to-plate ethos and dealing direct with producers, preferably as local as possible. . .

 

Farm alarm as more taxes spent launching another fake meat company – Chris McLennan:

Another big government authority has spent millions of taxpayer money to launch a fake meat company.

This time it is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has spent $5 million to support Sydney-based startup All G Foods through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

All G Foods plans to soon have plant-based and alternative proteins on the shelves of national supermarket chain IGA including mince, sausages, chicken, bacon and animal-free dairy products.

The new company won $16 million in seed funding. . .


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


Rural round-up

29/08/2021

RTF frustrated by Govt’s ‘she’ll be right’ attitude – Annette Scott:

Road transport operators are frustrated over decision-makers holding up their business of moving essential freight and livestock.

Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett says the “she’ll be right” message from the Government is not good enough.

He says the decision-makers appear to be gripped by timidity and that is not helping to move essential freight around the country.

A key concern is the insurance liability of trucks . . .

Chinese export clampdown threatens Kiwi businesses – Sam Sachdeva :

Exporters already dealing with strained supply lines and the downsides of lockdown face another threat – the suspension of export licences with China if the current Covid-19 outbreak makes its way into their workplace

Kiwi food exporters battling through lockdown have been warned a single positive Covid-19 case within their workforce could lead to Chinese authorities immediately suspending their export rights and forcing a recall of their products.

Sector figures say the advice from government officials has added to the stresses businesses face as they deal with strained supply lines and the public health requirements of operating at Level 4.

In a guidance note to export businesses this week, the Ministry of Primary Industries said it was aware of new import measures being applied by China, covering “all cold chain food products that are normally stored and transported under refrigeration, including vegetables and fruit”. . . 

US foodies drive TPN’s popularity up – Annette Scott:

Taste Pure Nature (TPN) is growing in the United States, as conscious foodies strive to understand where their meat comes from.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand global manager brand and red meat story Michael Wan says brand tracking in the US market shows there is increased awareness of the TPN NZ red meat brand and story.

TPN is a global brand platform designed to enhance the position of NZ grass-fed beef and lamb globally.

Awareness of NZ grass-fed beef and lamb and what makes it unique and special has increased by 17%, as more consumers understand the story behind the brand. . . 

A2 Milk facing 80 percent drop in net profit in year battered by Covid-19 disruption :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk has had a major slump in full year profit caused by pandemic related disruptions to key markets.

A2 Milk’s net profit dropped by 79 percent as excess stock and a slide in sales of infant formula in the key Chinese market battered its earnings.

The company issued numerous earnings downgrades over the past 12 months as Covid-19 closed borders and put an end to the previously lucrative “backdoor” daegou sales channels, while a falling birth rate in China also reduced demand.

Key results for the year ended June vs year ago: . .

 

Forestry waste trial offers lifeline to Huntly power plant – Jonathan Milne:

Until this week, Genesis Energy had steadfastly refused to discuss any future beyond 2030 for the coal and gas-fired plant. That’s just changed.

To most New Zealanders, the twin stacks of the Huntly power station are a Kiwiana icon. But to the people of that community, the electricity generator is a family, and a future.

Yvonne Anscombe runs the town’s community patrol. Her neighbour works at the power station. Her friend’s husband worked there. And when the local Lions Club was fundraising to buy a new car for the community patrol this year, Genesis came to the party with a $10,000 donation.

“Genesis are part of our community,” Anscombe says. “It’s been a big employer over the years. We’re not stupid, we understand the climate issues. But we would be supportive of anything that kept the jobs in Huntly.” . . . 

End  quarantine bickering say ag leaders – Andrew Miller:

Stop the bickering over quarantine.

That’s the message to federal and state governments from farm sector leaders, desperate to get workers into the country.

They say quarantine is the main sticking point to the introduction of the new Australian Agriculture visa, which responds to workforce shortages in the agriculture sector.

“The elephant in the room is this continual bickering, or lack of co-ordination, between state premiers themselves and the federal government,” GrainGrowers chairman Brett Hosking said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

26/08/2021

Why the rush? – Barbara Kuriger:

The pace of regulatory change for rural communities has been relentless under the current government.

It’s the concern I hear most when I move among them around the country and speak with rural advocacy groups.

It’s the reason why Groundswell NZ founders, Otago farmers Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson organised a tractor protest in Gore against the National Policy Statement on Freshwater in November. The group’s overwhelming national support since then led to the Howl of a Protest’ on July 16.

Agricultural, horticultural communities aren’t the types to jump up and down, so when they take to the streets in their thousands, you can bet there’s a reason. . .

Why NZ farmers should hope for positive results from research into the methane effects of lacing stock feed with seaweed – Point of Order:

A warning  bell  sounded  for  New Zealand farmers  when The Economist – in an editorial  last week headed “It  is  not  all  about  the  CO2” – argued  that carbon  dioxide is by far the most important   driver of  climate  change, but methane  matters  too.

The  final  sentence of  the  editorial reads,  ominously:

“Methane  should be  given priority on the  COP26 climate  summit  this  November”.

NZ may  fight  its  corner   vigorously   at the   Glasgow  summit,  but  the   risk is  that  delegates  there   will  seize  on  the  thesis  advanced  by The Economist    that   methane is  a more  powerful  greenhouse  gas  than  carbon   dioxide,  and  decide  to  target  it harshly. . . 

UK releases NZ free trade negotiation details as agreement nears :

The UK government has released more details of how negotiations have been progressing.

Tariffs on exports of honey and apples to the UK would be slashed and wine which faces tariffs of up to 20 pence per bottle would also be expected to be cut.

In return tariffs on British gin, chocolate, clothing and cars we import would be dropped.

Britain trade secretary Liz Truss said teams were working around the clock to get the deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive,” Truss said. . . 

Carbon farmers need to understand the ETS – Keith Woodford:

The price of carbon is determined by Government. There lies the risk for carbon farming. 

Two recent articles of mine have explored the economics of carbon farming on land that is currently farmed for sheep and beef.  Those articles showed that, if financial returns are what matters, then at current carbon prices the development of permanent forests for carbon credits provides significantly higher returns than sheep and beef.

My focus there was on the close to three million hectares of North Island farmed hill country, but a similar situation exists in considerable parts of the South Island. One big exception is the Canterbury Plains, where history shows that shallow soils plus norwest wind storms wreak periodic havoc to forestry operations.

Those findings on the apparent economics of forestry lead to a series of other questions. First, how reliable is this carbon market? Second, what are all the other important things apart from simple economics that need to be considered? . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2021:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) has announced the winners of its prestigious 2021 awards. In what has been an exceptionally volatile year for many, the forestry sector remains a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President James Treadwell says the industry is working hard to benefit Aotearoa / New Zealand and New Zealanders, not only with significant returns to GDP but also to offer social benefits including carbon capture, recreation opportunities, clean water, biodiversity and general wellbeing. “We’re fortunate with our high-calibre industry professionals who set the standards for others to aspire to. The NZIF relishes the opportunity to celebrate with ‘the best of the best’ and to proudly champion the recipients of NZIF’s awards.”

This year’s recipient was acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level to high level policy planning and execution and academic leadership.

The NZ Forester of the Year award, which was presented in Wairarapa on Monday night by Minister Nash (Minister of Forestry) went to Paul Millen. . .

Sponsor support continues for Dairy Industry Awards:

Entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) open October 1st with planning well underway and National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm DeLaval have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years. “It’s a significant commitment and we’re rapt to have world leaders in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers as part of our national sponsor family.” . .

 


Rural round-up

15/08/2021

Farmer who supplies neighbours’ water says he’ll stop if forced to register  – Bonnie Flaws:

Tararua farmer Roger Barton​ supplies his lifestyle block neighbours with water when their rainwater tanks run low. He says it’s “neighbours being neighbours” and he doesn’t charge them.

“They’ve got two tanks and they manage that carefully and are generally fine. But if things get tight they run a hose pipe from our system overnight and over four or five nights the tank gets filled. They don’t have to get the water truck out.”

The water comes from a creek at the fringe of the Tararua ranges. Barton does not treat his water, but uses a filter. His neighbours had an ultraviolet treatment system because they were reliant on rainwater, and this would also treat Barton’s water.

“I think that is fine, sane and sensible. Why I should have to treat it before they receive it I do not know.” . .

200 exemptions for dairy workers took at best – Jason Herrick:

I have been working behind the scenes and in the media around staff shortages and reuniting families of our migrant staff in my sector.

I do this because I see it as part of my responsibility I choose to take on as sharemilker Chair for Southland Federated Farmers,  trying to get the government to see sense and allow staff to come to NZ to fill much-needed roles.

Alongside heaps of others, the government said yes to was the 200 exemptions for dairy workers and their families, I see this as token at best, a gesture to keep us quiet – because they put conditions on the exemptions that have kept the likes of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and MPI busy to negotiate better conditions. . .

Groundswell NZ presents petition on ‘unworkable’ regulations to parliament – Laura Hooper:

A Groundswell NZ co-founder has presented the group’s petition against what it calls “unworkable regulations’’ for farmers to the Government.

Last month, Groundswell NZ took to the streets alongside thousands of supporters in around 50 towns across New Zealand to protest against regulations, including compulsory sowing dates, winter grazing rules and the “ute tax”.

On Thursday, group co-founder Laurence Paterson and Rural Advocacy Network chairman Jamie McFadden presented a petition, calling for a review of some regulations, to the Environment select committee.

The petition originally began to call for a review of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which the group says applies a “one-size-fits-all” approach on sowing dates, winter grazing and best catchment practises. . .

 

Push for govt  incentives to producebio-fuel from local forestry waste – Jonathan Milne:

Warnings that existing ethanol-blended biofuels can’t be used in most storage tanks and pipelines – so new Sustainable Biofuel Mandate will come at a cost.

The clock is ticking at Marsden Point oil refinery. Chief executive Naomi James says they have mere months to reach agreement on converting the refinery to a biofuels production facility, for local forestry waste, before they are forced to begin laying off staff and decommissioning plant.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed interest in the potential to convert the refinery to biofuel production, and James confirms they are in talks with government. But they need quick decisions because once they lose skilled engineers, they won’t be coming back; once they decommission big plant like the hydro-treater unit, there is no turning back.

James confirmed that in its submission on the planned Sustainable Biofuel Mandate, Refining NZ is arguing for government incentives for domestic biofuel production, like grants or Emissions Trading Scheme exemptions. . .

KiwiSaver provider Booster invests over $10m into avocado grower Darling Group – Tamsyn Parker:

The private equity investment arm of KiwiSaver provider Booster has invested more than $10 million into buying a 42 per cent stake in Katikati-based avocado grower and exporter Darling Group.

Booster, which has around $3 billion invested in its KiwiSaver scheme and is the 10th largest provider, is one of the few KiwiSaver schemes which invests in unlisted private companies through its Tahi LP fund.

Private company investment offers the potential for higher returns but are also a less liquid investment as their shares are not traded on a public market making it harder to sell out quickly.

Tahi already owns a number of wineries, as well as having stakes in Sunchaser Avocados, Dodson Motorsport and financial services company Lifetime. . . 

Livestock farm working dogs in Australia and New Zealand tested in Cobber Challenge – Chris McLennan and Daina Oliver:

The endurance athletes of Australia’s sprawling livestock farms are battling it out to claim the title of 2021 champion working dog.

Over three weeks, 12 loyal canines will run hundreds of kilometres in the course of their daily jobs herding sheep and cattle.

The Cobber Challenge celebrates and tests the endurance of working dogs and this year, for the first time, the Australians will be pitted against competitors working across the Tasman.

GPS collars will track their distance, working duration and speed over 21 days from Monday, August 16 and points will be awarded based on daily activity. . .


Rural round-up

07/08/2021

Independent research highlights need for limits on forestry offsetting for fossil fuel emitters:

New independent research confirms a significant amount of sheep and beef farmland has been converted to forestry, underlining the need for limits on carbon offsetting. It also busts myths about trees going on ‘unproductive’ land and reinforces Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s view that the integration of forestry on farms is a better way of managing our landscapes and meeting climate change targets.

The study by BakerAg, commissioned by B+LNZ, reveals there has been a significant increase in the amount of farmland sold into forestry, driven in large part by an increase in the carbon price.  

The report was unable to identify exactly how much of the sheep and beef farmland sold into forestry was intended for pure carbon farming but based on examination of the land titles, it is estimated that about 26,550 hectares of the 77,800 hectares of whole farms sold into forestry since 2017 were to carbon only entities (about 34 percent of the whole farm sales). 

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said the report shows that in 2017, 3,965 hectares of whole sheep and beef farms were sold into forestry; this increased to 20,227 ha in 2018; 36,824 ha in 2019. It declined to 16,764 hectares in 2020 (most likely as a result of COVID-19) but rural intelligence suggests it has regathered momentum this year and moved into new regions, threatening rural communities.   . . 

Opinion divided on climate change advice – Colin Williscroft:

Rural groups generally wanted the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to pull back on some of its recommendations to the Government on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, while many in urban areas thought the targets were not ambitious enough.

The commission received more than 15,400 submissions on the draft advice it released in February, with less than 40 made in hard copy format.

About 900 of the total number of submissions, which were recently made public, were from organisations, with just under 40 from iwi/Māori and the remainder from individuals.

Four organisations provided template submissions sent to the commission’s email address, with members of those groups sending in templated submissions multiple times. . . 

Finally we will have some cohesion – Shawn McAvinue:

The time for two wool companies to merge is now, Eastern Southland sheep farmer Mark Copland says.

A change is needed because the “ridiculously low” price for strong wool is driving him to use the fribs and dag wool as fertiliser.

“I felt it was better value as fertiliser than selling the stuff.”

In November, about 2100 farmers will be eligible to vote on a proposed merger between grower-owned export and marketing company Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative to form a fully integrated supply chain business. . . 

Trials look at the rattling of fewer dags :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial is identifying the genetics that will futureproof this country’s sheep industry. In part one of this two-part series, we take a look at how the trial is set up and the focus on dags.

As consumers are increasingly demanding meat produced with minimal inputs and intervention, B+LNZ Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial aims to identify environmentally-efficient sheep that perform without docking, drenching or dagging.

Run on Orari Gorge Station – a 4,500ha hill country farm in South Canterbury – the trial is testing the genetics put forward by 16 future-focused sheep breeders.

The property is the ideal testing ground for genetics. Orari Station is 75% tussock country, 15% lower hill with only 10% flats. Average annual rainfall is 1,200mm. Owner Robert Peacock says it is wet more than it is dry, so worms are a constant challenge. . . 

Looking back on a life full of rich memories – Alice Scott:

The year is hazy and just what rugby match it was, Sutton farmer Donny Tisdall can’t quite recall, but the day itself has been etched in his memory ever since.

Mr Tisdall, along with mates Tony Markham and Davie Murdoch and brother Larry Tisdall, were horseback cantering down Dunedin’s Forbury Rd, each with a beer in hand and grinning like Cheshire cats. Earlier that day they had been part of a Speight’s Southern Man promotion.

Atop their horses and fitted out in oilskin jackets and hats, they had led a parade of university Scarfies from the Octagon to Carisbrook Stadium where they circulated around the ground, still on horseback, throwing Crunchie bars and T-shirts into an exuberant sell-out crowd.

“We then took off through the city, cantering down the middle of the road, back to Forbury Raceway where the horses were being kept overnight. We got picked up and taken back to the game, where we were treated like royalty for the rest of the night,” Mr Tisdall recalls. . .

Let cows enjoy the taste of grass – Shan Goodwin:

Since biblical times, societies have wrestled with the apparent juxtaposition of treating animals well and ensuring they have a good life at the same time as raising them for food.

Today, that quandary is at the crux of some of the most pertinent issues in the livestock production space, from efforts to garner government support for banning certain sectors to attempts to market animal protein alternatives.

Little wonder then that an Australian Tedx Talk featuring a former country veterinarian turned academic with a PhD in animal welfare on the topic of what makes cows happy has garnered plenty of interest.

Associate professor David Beggs, from the University of Melbourne’s veterinary school, titled his July talk from Warrnambool “Do Cows Think Grass Tastes Good?” . . 


Rural round-up

18/07/2021

Rural living: the good, the bad and the glorious – Nicky Berger:

I never wanted to be a farmer. Growing up on a small sheep and beef farm north of Auckland, I spent many sunny afternoons in the “Pooh Bear Forest” below our house, and others learning how to handle wool from eternally patient shearers.

But I never believed it was my destiny to grow food. Instead, I spent my teenage years imagining myself working in one of the skyscrapers we would see on occasional trips into the city. When I was old enough, off to the city I went.

However, the unexpected death of my dad one sunny evening in 2004 changed everything.

Sitting at the kitchen table in my family home the following morning, I stared in wonder at ute after ute coming down our driveway, past our house, and heading over to the woolshed. . .

Images of distressed animals misleading council says :

Recent publicity surrounding intensive winter grazing in Southland has been unhelpful, the regional council says.

Images of distressed animals deep in mud have circulated on social media in recent weeks.

But Southland Regional Council chief executive Rob Phillips said some of them were not from this winter and many appeared to be taken outside of Southland.

“We want to follow up and address any poor practice, but when those circulating the images aren’t prepared to tell us where the properties are, it lets everyone down and certainly doesn’t help to improve the situation, he said. . . 

Farmers a cut above DOC in caring for Crown land – Jacqui Dean:

There’s some people who are firm in the belief that Crown land can only be properly looked after if it’s under Department of Conservation (DOC) control. In my opinion, that view is misguided and fails to recognise the state of vast tracts of land across the South Island.

I’ve spent the first half of this year visiting Crown pastoral leaseholders in the South Island to better understand the implications of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill that’s making its way through Parliament.

This piece of legislation is touted by its proponents as a way to improve environmental outcomes. It puts an end to tenure review and places heavy-handed restrictions on the most basic of farming activities on crown lease land.

During my visits to these rugged and remote areas I’ve been able to compare high country land being farmed under a pastoral lease with nearby land under DOC administration. . . 

Farmers sent a clear message, Labour should listen:

The immense turnout to yesterday’s nationwide protests by the rural sector sent a clear message to the Government, they are fed up with Labour penalising them at every turn, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“Yesterday farmers up and down New Zealand told the Government they wouldn’t be sitting down and taking the hits Labour is dishing out. All National MPs were with them, showing our support and how much we value the work our farmers do.

“Farmers helped New Zealand get through Covid-19, and Labour is repaying them through unworkable freshwater regulations, failing to deal with serious workforce shortages and now it’s hitting them in the wallet with a Ute Tax.

“The rural sector has rightly had enough. They’re not alone though, almost every other New Zealander is being hit in the back pocket through new taxes, rent increases and costs on businesses. . . 

 

Malaysian firm to convert Southland farm into forestry block – Shawn McAvinue:

A Malaysian company has been given consent to buy a nearly 460ha sheep and beef farm in Western Southland.

The Overseas Investment Office gave the consent to the 100% Malaysian-owned company Pine Plantations Private Ltd to buy the farm – near Tuatapere – from vendors Ayson and Karen Gill for $4 million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 330ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees.

Planting was intended to start in 2021-22, for the trees to be harvested in up to 30 years. . . 

City kids go bush – Sally Blundell:

It’s called real world learning: pine nut pesto, bush tea and home kill. Bush Farm Education is taking kids out of the classroom and into nature.

The classroom is a place of puddles and hay bales, trailers and tractors. Today’s lessons – fire safety, edible mushrooms and the reality of home kill.

“Just imagine if every kid in Ōtautahi Christchurch, or even New Zealand, could have a day a week out on the farm, in nature, learning about it,” says Katie Earle, founder of Bush Farm Education on Lyttelton Harbour. “It would just be incredible.”

Incredible but unlikely. A Sport New Zealand survey in 2019 found that only 7 percent of children and young people aged five–17 met the Ministry of Health guidelines of at least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day. Recent research by Ara Institute of Canterbury into education outside the classroom found a third of schools struggle to get students outside, citing time constraints, added paperwork, education regulations and health and safety rules. . . 

Increased demand for softwood lumber in the US and Asia will change the global trade flows of wood in the coming decade:

Softwood lumber has been in high demand in the US and Europe throughout 2021. The limited supply resulted in temporary price surges to record high levels during the spring, followed by substantial declines in early summer. The outlook for lumber demand is likely to be strong worldwide in the coming decade in most world regions, including North America and Asia. Both these regions are consistently dependent on imported wood.

Few countries in the world can significantly expand lumber exports, and Europe will play an increasingly important role as a wood supplier in the future. Tighter lumber markets will impact not just the sawmilling industry but also forest owners, pulp companies, wood panel manufacturers, and pellet producers.

The latest Focus Report: Global Lumber Markets – The Growing Role of European Lumber from Wood Resources International (WRI) and O’Kelly Acumen examines the forces driving the tightness of global lumber markets, including the demand outlook in the US and China and the supply potential from Europe, Russia, and other regions. It also analyses the possible implications of near-term changes in the lumber markets for all players in the value chain. . . 


Rural round-up

12/07/2021

Govt sends mixed signals on forest cap – Richard Rennie:

Putting a cap on exotic forest plantings is still an option on the table for the Government as it considers its response to the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations.

Last year in the lead up to the election, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor undertook to make resource consent a requirement for landowners seeking to convert over 50ha of higher-quality land into forestry.

The decision came amid mounting concern that greater areas of farmland were being lost to forestry, some to unharvested carbon forest plantings.

But Forestry Minister Stuart Nash signalled recently that the Government plans to back away from planting restrictions. . . 

Calls to diversify and integrate – Annette Scott:

New Zealand agriculture is missing the opportunity to diversify and integrate and come up with one good story.

Sectors are pushing their own barrows and not achieving maximum potential as an industry, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

Speaking at the Primary Industries New Zealand Summit, Stewart urged collaboration.

“We do not work in a cohesive world; when are we actually going to agree to come together?” she asked. . . 

Caution urged for dog owners as lambing season approaches:

SPCA is urging dog owners, particularly those living near lifestyle blocks, to take extra care and keep track of their pets at all times, as early lambing season gets underway.

Every year sheep and lambs are injured or killed by roaming dogs in attacks that are not only traumatic for animals and people involved, but are often completely avoidable through responsible dog ownership.

With 175,000 lifestyle blocks nationwide and rural properties continuing to grow in popularity, SPCA Scientific Officer Dr Alison Vaughan says it’s important for dog owners – particularly those living in rural areas – to make sure their dog is secured and unable to roam. . . 

Emma Boase named emerging leader at Primary Industry Awards:

Horticulture New Zealand People Capability Manager Emma Boase was among a stellar line-up of primary industry excellence at last night’s 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards in Christchurch.

Recognised as one of seven winners from a pool of 65 nominations, Emma took out the title of the Lincoln University Emerging Leaders Award for her efforts in attracting new talent into the horticulture sector.

The award is testament to Emma’s outstanding leadership and ongoing commitment to championing horticultural careers. . . 

Craig Muckle named Wheat Grower of the Year:

The champion wheat grower for 2021 is Craig Muckle.

Craig, who farms at Dorie in mid-Canterbury, was presented with the Champion Cup at the awards ceremony in Christchurch for winning the premium milling wheat award and also won the United Wheat Growers Bayer wheat grower of the year award with his wheat entry ‘Reliance’.

The judges said Craig’s entry’s quality specification was “bang on”. Craig was presented with the Champion Cup, by Garth Gilliam from Champion.

Craig was also the winner of the UWG Bayer wheat grower award. This award is to recognise excellence in the industry. . . 

Agronomist of the year award for what industry announced:

Kerry Thomas from Luisetti Seeds, was recognised as Agronomist of the Year in the United Wheat Growers Bayer Wheat Awards held in Christchurch on Wednesday 7 July.

The award was open to all industry professionals involved in seed and grain crop production.

The inaugural Agronomist of the Year Award, sponsored by the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association, is designed to recognise an agronomist who has an endless knowledge of crop production and goes above and beyond to make sure the best possible crop is produced by growers said NZGSTA Grains & Pulses Chair Ed Luisetti. . . 

Sponsors sustain support for Dairy Industry Awards:

Planning for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continues at pace with National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm Meridian have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years along with a name change to the merit award. . . 


Rural round-up

10/07/2021

Labour shifts goalposts on forestry goal, its first policy of 2020 campaign – Thomas Coughlan:

Labour has quietly shifted the goalposts on its first campaign promise of the 2020 campaign, a policy that would make it more difficult to plant swathes of prime food-producing land in trees to harvest carbon credits.

Last July, Labour’s rural communities spokesman Kieran McAnulty and Forestry spokesman Stuart Nash promised that within six months of the next Government being formed, Labour would amend National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to allow councils to determine for themselves what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.

Resource consent would have been required for plantation forests to be grown on land known as “elite soils”, land which has a Land Use Capability Class of 1-5. Land of a higher ranking, deemed less essential for food production, could still be used for forestry as now. . .

Rural vaccine availability fears:  ‘I think we are being disadvantaged’

There are fears rural communities in the south may be left behind during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Community leaders say there has been scant information about when vulnerable populations in remote areas can expect to be inoculated.

The Southern DHB said more clinics would open by the end of July in remote areas so no one was more than an hour from the nearest clinic.

Fiordland Community Board chair Sarah Greaney said despite group 3 – those over 65 or at greater risk from Covid-19 – being eligible for the vaccine, the nearest clinic at present was 140km away in Gore. . . 

Breakthrough in Hawkes Bay Bay TB response – Sally Murphy:

The animal health agency working to eradicate TB in the Hawkes Bay has gained access to two large forestry blocks in order to cull possums.

OSPRI is working to eradicate the disease – which is spread mainly by possums and can compromise immune systems in stock, causing serious production losses and animal welfare issues.

There are currently 18 herds infected with Bovine TB in the region – but there are also 572 herds under restricted movement controls – which means those farmers can’t move stock off farm without approval – which is a source of great frustration for some in the area.

During the response OSPRI has had trouble getting approval from some land owners to carry out pest control work, which can involve 1080 drops. . . 

David Grant is Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year:

Mid Canterbury Arable Farmer David Grant was awarded the “Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year Award 2021” at the arable industry awards in Christchurch tonight.

David’s contribution to the industry through is work with the Foundation for Arable Research, and in innovation and information sharing, made him an outstanding candidate for this year’s award, Feds Arable chair Colin Hurst said.

The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognise a member who excels at arable farming and to acknowledge the standard of excellence they set for the industry. . . 

Silver Fern Farms commits to its course for a sustainable future:

Net Carbon Zero Certified* Beef, Regenerative Agriculture and the elimination of coal by 2030; today, Silver Fern Farms has committed to several bold initiatives to drive its vision of being the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair, Rob Hewett, said it was after a significant amount of work and with real satisfaction the company was in the position to make these commitments publicly.

“We have set targets to stretch us, but we are ready for the challenge. If anything, we are committed to investing to accelerate our progress to achieve these significant milestones early. . . 

Savvy commercial partners sought for novel Australian oat products :

Australian oat noodles and oat ‘rice’ are set to become popular pantry staples here and overseas, once new manufacturing processes developed by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) are matched with the right commercial partners.

AEGIC is looking for food brands, manufacturers or investors who can fast-track getting the new healthy plant-based products to market, and help move oats beyond the breakfast table to becoming an option for lunch, dinner and snacks.

Developed from Australian oats, which are high in beta glucan, the new products offer superior nutritional benefits.

AEGIC’s oat rice has twice as much dietary fibre than other white and brown rices, fewer carbohydrates, more protein, and a greater concentration of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. . . 

Boosting agricultural insurance based on earth observation data and blockchain technology:

BEACON advances the inclusion of EO satellites within the AgI processes and adopts a smart contract and blockchain technology which will low the operational and administrative costs by transforming traditional processes to automated ones.

Agricultural Insurance (AgI) is the most weather-dependent sector among insurance services. The premiums’ calculations and the development of new products are highly depending on the continuously changing climate and the high variability of extreme weather events, for which such historic records are absent or not sufficiently accurate. In addition, the damage assessment and the handling of claims is rather costly including high operational and administrative costs since the verification of a claim requires on-the-spot inspections. Most of the times, the results of such inspections are controversial, since the final estimations are performed by inspectors who by human nature are less objective. . . 


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

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

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. . .


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