Rural round-up

November 13, 2017

Fresh Food – Out of Reach:

Amy Wiggins writes in the front page of the NZ Herald on Friday November 10th 2017, that as the prices for fresh fruit and vegetables rise they are becoming out of reach for low income families. The article goes on to say that many New Zealanders are struggling to afford to buy enough fresh produce to feed their families a healthy diet.

I agree with both of these statements and in fact when you take into account the land use restrictions on the horticultural industry, contained within the Healthy Rivers Proposed Plan Change 1 (PC1); this is going to create extremely serious food security problems into the future.

A huge percentage of the country’s population rely on the Waikato Region’s fruit and vegetable producers for security of their food supply and with the restrictions on horticultural land use that occur as a result of PC1, they are going to lose the security of supply that they currently have. . . 

TPP back on with new name, Canada apparently back on board – Pattrick Smellie:

Nov. 11 walked away from the deal, but returned to the negotiating table claiming “a misunderstanding”.

Briefing New Zealand media ahead of the APEC Leaders’ Retreat in Da Nang, Viet Nam, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said : “I wouldn’t want to speculate but I think probably we’re in a more stable place than we were yesterday.”

Asked whether Canada was back in the tent and TPP was back on she said: “I would characterise it in that way, yes.” . . 

Red Meat sector welcomes TPP deal and its significant boost to regional growth:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the announcement a deal has been struck to move ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which is now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, says the CPTPP will deliver significant gains to the sector. . . 

The death of rural programmes – Craig Wiggins:

The announcement that NZ on Air funding has been cut for the Rural Delivery television programme has not come as a surprise to me, having witnessed the demise of support for the Young Farmer Contest from those in control of the programming and funding of what we get to watch on television.

The time slot allocations and in turn the lack of viewers engaged in the topics being covered don’t stack up against the mind-dumbing and increasingly popular reality television series we get these days.

It’s a sign of the times that people turn on their televisions to escape reality and be entertained, not really informed now.

I would suggest that if Country Calendar didn’t have as much of an entertainment and voyeuristic content as it does then it would be in for the chop as well. . . 

Sheep shearing in New Zealand -World’s toughest jobs:

If you think you’re tough enough to do sheep shearing in New Zealand, here’s what you need to know…

About the job

Summer (December to March) is usually peak season, but this can vary by location and type of sheep, and there tend to be some opportunities available throughout the year.

The work is physically hard and whilst sheep shearing is a skill that takes years to perfect, the more basic work is ‘crutching’ which is something you can learn in a week or so. Crutchers shave just the rear legs of the sheep to keep them clean through the summer. In general, crutchers get paid around $0.50 per sheep and after a couple of weeks should be churning out around 400 – 600 sheep per day, or $200 – $300 per day (£103-£154).  . .

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Rural round-up

November 12, 2017

Westland Looks to Take Its Wastewater Out of the Hokitika River:

Westland Milk Products said today it is well down the path toward potentially taking its treated wastewater discharge out of the Hokitika River.

CEO Toni Brendish says that in September last year Westland re-opened its investigations into an ocean outfall for its treated wastewater discharge, which would take it out of the Hokitika River two years prior to the existing in-river discharge consent expiring in 2021. A final decision on whether to go with the option will be made early in 2018. The investigations are at the stage that the company is about to go back to the West Coast Regional Council for a minor variation to its existing permit. . . 

Challenging future facing livestock farming – Nigel Malthus:

The disruptive forces facing New Zealand agriculture could mean a tough future for livestock farming, says the new president of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM).

Farm consultant Craig Osborne, from Oxford, North Canterbury, has been named to replace Guy Blundell, heading the institute for the next two-year term.

Osborne says that where NZ farming is heading is the “million-dollar question” and a tough one to answer because of all the competing forces gaining momentum globally. . .

WTO declines Indonesia appeal on ruling over trade barriers that hurt NZ beef trade –  Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – The World Trade Organization has turned down Indonesia’s appeal against a ruling that trade barriers imposed since 2011, which hurt New Zealand’s beef exports, were inconsistent with global trade rules.

New Zealand had invoked WTO dispute settlement consultations with Indonesia in 2013 and 2014 over 18 trade barriers it said had resulted in an 80 percent drop in the nation’s exports to Indonesia of beef and horticultural products such as apples and onions. Prior to the restrictions, Indonesia was New Zealand’s second-largest market for beef, worth $180 million a year, and the accumulated trade impact was an estimated $500 million to $1 billion, according to the complaint. . . 

Icebreaker inks $100M 10-year supply contract for NZ merino wool – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Merino outdoor clothing company Icebreaker has signed the longest ever supply contract with growers of New Zealand merino wool, worth $100 million over 10 years.

The Auckland-based company, which announced this week that it is being bought by US-based VF Corporation, has inked agreements with New Zealand woolgrowers in collaboration with wool marketer The New Zealand Merino Company to ensure it has long-term supply of the fibre. Pricing will be at a premium to market prices to recognise long-term grower loyalty and to enable Icebreaker to use farm imagery and storytelling in its global marketing campaigns, Icebreaker said in a statement. . . 

Fencing best practice showcased – Sally Brooker:

Fencing industry folk from a large part of the South Island converged on a North Otago landmark on October 25.

The Fencing Contractors Association New Zealand ran a demonstration day at Parkside Quarries, the place where Oamaru stone is hewn from the hills.

More than 50 people attended – a mix of fencing contractors and practitioners, suppliers, and industry partners.

Motueka-based fencer and tutor John Noakes said the event showcased fencing best practice – both traditional and modern techniques. . . 

NZ  company Fifth Breath launches woollen yoga mat – Brittany Pickett:

It all started with the idea that traditional yoga mats didn’t align with yogi principles and now Fifth Breath has launched the first yoga mat made from wool.

Co-founders of the New Zealand company Dana McKenzie and Irina Arya have spent the last year working to develop the mat’s design and key technology elements, with the aim to retain the functionality expected by yoga followers.

Both of them are engineers by training and met during studying for a masters in business administration at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2008. Since then, they have both enjoyed corporate careers and growing families, yet a passion for wool and yoga prompted them to build Fifth Breath Ltd, a company with an ethos about offering naturally safe yoga mats. . . 


So close but so far away for TPP

November 11, 2017

Yesterday’s excitement over agreement on the TPP 11 was premature.

It was so close but now it’s far away again, but it’s not dead.

Canada says Prime Minister  Justin Trudeau’s no-show at a leaders’ meeting was due to a misunderstanding over schedules.

And CBC News says partners have reached agreement on core elements of the deal.

All deals require giving and taking. None are perfect.

But New Zealand has more to gain than lose from tariff-free access to markets which currently disadvantage our exporters.

Consumers in other countries will gain too. If Canadians only knew how much better our cheese is than the orange plastic apology for it I saw in their supermarkets, they’d be demanding their government signs the deal.


Made by Many

November 10, 2017


Free trade, fair trade

November 2, 2017

It’s 70 years since 23 countries signed the GATT which provisionally regulated world trade for decades.

That’s something to celebrate.

But it’s frustrating that all these decades on too many people, and governments, don’t understand that free trade is fair trade and how it benefits both buyers and sellers.


Govt business what not how

October 30, 2017

The Green Party is sticking to its plan to reduce dairy farming:

Prior to the election, the Green Party said it would pay more than $136 million for farmers to move to more sustainable practices and if it were in government it would invest in a Sustainable Farming Fund.

Green Party leader James Shaw said a priority would be putting together a package to help farmers make the transition from dairy farming.

He said the Greens wouldn’t be pushing for a cap on the number of cows.

But Mr Shaw said dairy farmers would need help to change.

“A lot of dairy farmers are still heavily in debt from the acquisition of the land and also the conversions and also it’s a pretty difficult time when the price of milk is still somewhat depressed.

“So you know the thing we’re going to be pushing hardest on is making sure that there is a package available for farmers to help them make that transition.”

Mr Shaw said dairy farmers needed to make the transition to more sustainable methods of farming.

Setting standards for water quality is the business of government.

Dictating how that is achieved is not.

It might be that dairying isn’t appropriate in some places. But other land uses aren’t necessarily any kinder to the environment and it could be that a change in management could make dairying a better option than any other form of farming.

Dairying has got a bad reputation, some of which might be justified. But some is based on historical practices no longer in use and some on alternative facts not supported by science.

Some of the latter comes from organisations with an anti-dairying agenda.

Jamie McFadden, a member of Federated Farmers North Canterbury executive, rightly asks is our freshwater fishery really in crisis?

Last year Fish & Game sought and received approval from the Department of Conservation (DoC) to place a winter fishing ban on all North Canterbury rivers below State Highway 1.

At the time, Fish & Game claimed the North Canterbury freshwater fishery was in crisis and it was because of farming.

Both DoC and the Rural Advocacy Network have requested the evidence supporting these claims. After 18 months no evidence has been forthcoming. DoC now realise they have been misled and have said they will not renew the fishing ban unless Fish & Game provide evidence.

Earlier this year I attended a public meeting in Rangiora organised by Fish and Game where the fishing ban was discussed. I presented our submission challenging the lack of evidence behind the fishing ban, particularly for the Hurunui and Waiau rivers. A show of hands was taken and the clear majority of the 70 attendees felt the ban should not apply to these rivers. Of those who fished the Hurunui and Waiau the majority thought these were healthy fisheries. . . 

Clearly there are a range of factors affecting our freshwater fishery and increasing fishing pressure, particularly near Christchurch, is one of them.

A local fishing guide has for several years been undertaking the annual trout spawning surveys in the Waimakariri River. This year he reported better numbers than have ever been seen and some superb stream improvements by many farmers – the future is bright.

In late autumn I checked the middle reaches of the Hurunui River catchment and photographed numerous shoals of 10-20 trout. In one pool alone I counted 65 good-sized healthy trout.

A balanced report on the state of our freshwater fishery would acknowledge there are some healthy fisheries, concerns with some other fisheries and a range of factors affecting both. It is disappointing that Fish & Game has made no attempt to correct their misinformation in the media.

Many farming families are Fish & Game licence holders and enjoy the recreational opportunities our rivers provide. Farmers want to know what they need to do to fix any water quality problems they are causing.

There are many examples of farmers actively engaging in improving water quality and undertaking stream enhancements. Farmers want to work with organisations like Fish & Game but the continual attacks on farmers undermine the ability to achieve this.

We would like to see Fish & Game publicly drop the anti-farming broad brush ‘dirty dairy’ campaign, correct their misinformation in the media and develop a more constructive approach to freshwater issues.

Farmers, and others, are working to improve water quality and this report from Seven Sharp showing definite improvements in Taranaki dairy country.

Meanwhile, science is making progress with pasture species:

Research is in progress but plantain-based pastures may be useful for reducing nitrate leaching while maintaining or increasing milksolids production.

The urine patch is the major source of nitrogen loss to the environment on dairy farms and different forages can be used to reduce nitrate leaching, either by lowering the nitrogen loading in urine patches or increasing the nitrogen uptake from the urine patch.

Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL)

Research in Canterbury and Waikato the FRNL programme has found that urine-N concentration of cows grazing plantain was 56% lower than those grazing perennial ryegrass/white clover pastures, and 33% lower for cows grazing 50/50 pasture-plantain.

Within FRNL, diverse pastures that include plantain were identified as a promising tool for reducing N leaching. Modelling estimated that, at commercial scale, N leaching could be reduced by 10 and 20% when the area of the farm sown in diverse pastures was 20 and 50%, respectively. This was because of lower total urinary N excretion and lower urinary N concentration (Beukes et al. 2014; Romera et al. 2016).

Sustainability balances economic, environmental and social concerns.

Dairying generally gets ticks for its economic and social contributions and farmers and industry bodies like DairyNZ, are making good progress to address environmental concerns .

DairyNZ acting chair Barry Harris said last season saw dairy export earnings reach $13.4 billion, which is on par with the five-year average, and illustrates how well farmers have responded to the low milk prices of previous seasons.

“I see the decade ahead of us to be transformational for our sector. Never before have we had a stronger mandate for the dairy sector to concentrate on productivity – to produce more from less, and to do so sustainably,” says Barry.

“We support initiatives that incentivise farmers to use the best environmental practices. While the 2010s have been about dairy positioning itself for the changes ahead, I see the 2020s as heavily focused on making those changes.

“New Zealand’s environmental reputation, the reputation that gives us an advantage on the global market, relies on us upholding and improving our sustainability.” . . 

Thanks to good science, herd numbers can decrease while production increases.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said in 2016/17 national cow numbers fell to 4.86 million from 5 million previously, with the average herd size dropping five cows to 414.

“Yet production per cow set a new record – increasing by 9kg per cow (381kg MS/cow).” . . 

 

The government and its partners needs to stick to the what, not the how.

Good progress is being made and it will continue to be made not by political dictates but by good practice based on sound research.


Rural round-up

October 27, 2017

Farmer restores whitebait for future generations:

Over the past few years Fonterra dairy farmer Stu Muir has been restoring the once stagnant stream on the boundary of his Waikato farm to create 20 whitebait spawning ponds with grasses, flaxes, kahikatia, kowhai, mahoe and other wetland trees.

“When I saw water quality and whitebait catches dropping, I knew I had to do something. My family has owned this farm for five generations, I went whitebaiting with my grandfather here and I wanted to do the same with my own children,” says Stu.

With numbers of whitebait now increasing, Stu is working to restore other local waterways. He and his extended family have been working on five dune lake restoration projects including Parkinsons Lake which is now fenced to exclude stock and 8,500 native trees have been planted. . . 

Boosting brainpower, flavour & texture in food exports of the future:

AgResearch scientists are leading new research that could revolutionise New Zealand foods – with new ways of boosting flavour and texture, and products designed to make our brains perform better.

Supported by industry and research partners, AgResearch is looking to the future for premium food exports with programmes that have recently been awarded more than $21 million by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund.

“The future for New Zealand food exports to the world is premium quality and adding as much value as possible to our products,” says AgResearch Science Group Leader Dr Jolon Dyer. . . 

New actions to increase Hawke’s Bay primary sector workforce:

New opportunities aimed at improving access to employment in the primary sector will be considered for incorporation into Matariki, Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been leading work in Hawke’s Bay aimed at increasing the uptake of employment in primary industries, one of the region’s largest sectors. The work is part of the Regional Growth Programme. . . 

Dairy industry free-range milk spat – Natalie Kotsios:

FREE-ranging use of the “free-range” label on dairy product will confuse consumers and potentially harm the industry, say farmers.

South Australia Dairyfarmers’ Association said industry should consider developing a free-range standard after Camperdown Dairy recently launched its “free-range milk”.

“I read it and went, ‘What’s that?’ and I’m a dairy farmer,” SADA president John Hunt said.

“We’ve got to be careful not to discredit our industry. We work very hard to keep legitimate  if there isn’t an industry standard they shouldn’t be able to say it. . . 

French winegrowers face poorest harvest since 1945:

France’s winegrowers are preparing for their poorest harvest in decades after frosty weather in April devastated vineyards, with many fearing they will be unable to meet market demand.

Winegrowers in France have finished harvesting their grapes to produce wine for 2017. Yet many fear they will be unable to satisfy market demand after their vineyards perished during the April frosts. Jérôme Despey, head of a governmental wine advisory board at FranceAgriMer, said this year’s harvest will be “the smallest since 1945”.

“At harvests everywhere, in places where we thought there would be a little less, there’s a lot less,” Despey said at a news conference in August. . . 

 


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