Rural round-up

23/11/2022

Feds breaks ranks on HWEN – Sudesh Kissun:

The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and Māori Agribusiness Partners are calling on the Government to change key aspects of its proposal on agricultural emissions pricing.

However, Federated Farmers has decided not to back the joint submission from the 10 partners.

It recommends changes that would develop an emissions pricing system that creates incentives and opportunities to reduce agricultural emissions while maintaining the viability of the primary sector.

The submission recommends changes to price setting, governance and transitional arrangements that would see decision-making on emissions pricing balance the socio-economic impacts on the primary sector and wider economy with emissions reductions.  . .

HWEN partners question methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector wants the government to review its methane targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

This is included in the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) submission on the government-proposed pricing structure, saying new targets that reflect the latest scientific evidence are needed before the sector starts to be charged in 2025.

Methane targets were legislated by Parliament in 2019 as part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act, requiring the sector to reduce emissions 10% below 2017 levels by 2030 and by 24-47% below 2017 levels by 2050.

The HWEN submission pulls few punches, saying the government’s changes are not acceptable to the partnership and the growers and farmers they represent. . . 

Emissions plan: DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ – The Country :

No deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to pricing agricultural emissions, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says

DairyNZ had made a submission in the emissions plan and hoped for a response from the Government, van der Poel told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We had to go into this next stage in good faith because our primary objective is still to get a solution here and put this to bed.

“We’ve been talking about this since 2004 and it’s not going to go away.” . . 

Cherry on top growers feeling “positive”, expecting record volumes of fruit :

Central Otago cherry growers are expecting record volumes of fruit this season.

45 South Cherries chief executive Tim Jones said now that they had survived October’s nasty weather, they had been able to assess crops, and fruit volumes may be double that of past years.

New plantings were coming into their own, he said.

“The last three years have been pretty disappointing crops but all those trees that have been planted in the past five or six will really hit their straps this year.

“Last year the industry exported a little over three thousand tonnes and I would suggest this year it could be at least five or six thousand,” he said. . . 

It’s time to resolve carbon forest conflicts –  Dean Baigent-Mercer :

 Forestry is back in the spotlight. After years of being on the margins, forestry has come full-circle and is again at the heart of discussions about New Zealand’s future. Why? Because of climate change and biodiversity. The opportunity is exciting but there are issues to resolve. A key question is native versus exotic forestry carbon sinks.

The world risks overshooting its climate change targets. We need to stop using fossil fuels, cut emissions and store increasing amounts of carbon in forests, wetlands and other natural carbon sinks for centuries to come.

New Zealand forestry has been quick to act and respond. New Zealand has gone down the pine forest carbon storage route as a relatively fast and cheap way to store carbon.

But it’s clear that this is no longer a viable path. The Climate Change Commission has advised that we must stop relying on pines to store carbon and instead rely on permanent carbon sinks in native forests. Pine planting may appeal in the short term, but a large blaze can release a carbon bomb. There is increasing evidence that pine-based carbon sinks will end up being stranded assets or uninsurable. . .

Rural tourism business finalist at New Zealand Tourism Awards :

“The future of rural tourism is bright”, say Will and Rose Parsons of Driftwood Eco Tours, finalists of the 2022 New Zealand Tourism Awards for community engagement.

The annual New Zealand Tourism Awards, hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa in Hamilton, highlights excellence in tourism and helps operators aspire to greater customer service.

Driftwood Eco Tours was delighted to be one of three finalists for the community engagement category.

Operating since 2004, Driftwood Eco Tours is based in Kaikōura, but runs small group, multi-day tours throughout the upper South Island and on offshore islands, offering guests the chance to visit and experience some of New Zealand’s most isolated rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

16/11/2022

Country roads not taking us home – Richard Rennie :

New Zealand’s long skinny, swampy, steep terrain has never made for easy road building and it’s a tribute to our pioneering forefathers this country has the roads it does, going to the places they do.

But the escalating impact of climate change, bringing rainfall events of ever greater intensity, is making keeping that spiderweb network of 76,000km of rural roads tougher to keep open, let alone improve.  

Rural local roads are already the poor relative to their state highway links. 

For 2021-22 an average of $170,000 per km is budgeted for state highway improvements, compared with only $14,700 a km for local roads. . . 

Low methane sheep coming to a farm near you? –  Esther Taunton

Farmers will soon be able to breed low methane sheep through a “world first” genetics programme. 

Beef and Lamb New Zealand has added low methane production to the list of traits breeders can target when choosing rams.

Farmers already use several “breeding values” (BV) to select animals with characteristics they want to strengthen in their flocks, including meat yield and lamb survival rate.

With the addition of a methane BV, they could also breed animals that produced less of the agricultural greenhouse gas. . . 

The problem with coconut milk – Pete Fitz-Herbert

His father-in-law’s innocent “coconut milk” mistake at the supermarket has Manawatū farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about food labels, “nut juice” and the meaning of communication in relationships.

Every relationship has communication issues at times.

Generally, it comes about because we switch roles temporarily. I know in this modern world we are meant to do everything equally but some days we should just be thankful we aren’t the Taliban.

So, when my father-in-law got released into the supermarket with an essential Covid grocery list (during those interesting times), it was something David Attenborough should have been commentating. . .

Final Zespri charter vessel departs :

Zespri’s last charter vessel carrying some of the final volumes of this season’s New Zealand kiwifruit crop has now departed the Port of Tauranga, bound for Tokyo and Kobe in Japan.

Around 158 tonnes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and 2,231 tonnes of Zespri Green Kiwifruit is onboard the charter reefer vessel MV Kowhai and is expected to reach Tokyo by the end of this month, with the season’s final container shipments scheduled to conclude over the coming weeks. In total, Zespri has used four charter vessels to Northern Europe, eight to the Mediterranean, four to North America’s West Coast and forty-one to Asia, along with almost 17,000 refrigerated containers to ship more than 160 million trays of New Zealand-grown Zespri Kiwifruit this season.

Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer Alastair Hulbert says that there had been a huge effort right across the industry and supply chain to ensure fruit could get to market this season given the headwinds experienced in 2022.

“This has been a really challenging season given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 across the global supply chain, as well as the need to manage our fruit quality. . . 

Orchard sector manager Regan Judd names Young Horticulturist of the Year :

Twenty-six-year-old Regan Judd has taken out the title of 2022 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

Regan, an orchard sector manager at T&G Global in the Hawke’s Bay, represented fruit and vegetable growers across the two-day event in Karaka, Auckland this week.

The competition brings together finalists from all corners of the horticulture sector to vie for the grand title in a series of tasks designed to test their practical and theoretical skills, leadership qualities and more.

Regan says he is “stoked” to have won the grand title, particularly given the calibre of the six other finalists and the effort that went into preparing for the event. . . 

Red meat is not a health risk. New study slams years of shoddy research – Ross Pomeroy:

Studies have been linking red meat consumption to health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer for years. But nestled in the recesses of those published papers are notable limitations.

Nearly all the research is observational, unable to tease out causation convincingly. Most are plagued by confounding variables. For example, perhaps meat eaters simply eat fewer vegetables, or tend to smoke more, or exercise less? Moreover, many are based on self-reported consumption. The simple fact is that people can’t remember what they eat with any accuracy. And lastly, the reported effect sizes in these scientific papers are often small. Is a supposed 15% greater risk of cancer really worth worrying about? 

Study slams lazy research 

In a new, unprecedented effort, scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) scrutinized decades of research on red meat consumption and its links to various health outcomes, formulating a new rating system to communicate health risks in the process. Their findings mostly dispel any concerns about eating red meat

“We found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease. Moreover, we found no evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat and ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke,” they summarized.  . . 


Not what farmers think

07/11/2022

Audrey Young has given Damien O’Connor the highest mark in her annual cabinet ratings:

. . . Damien O’Connor 9

Agriculture, Biosecurity, Land Information, Rural Communities, Trade and Export Growth

Outstanding year. Another FTA under his belt with EU–NZ deal concluded after UK-NZ deal last year. Important role in setting climate change policy in agriculture. Chairing CPTPP next year. Ageists may expect him to retire but why should he when he is at the peak of his career? Previously 9 . .

That isn’t what farmers think.

The UK trade deal is a good one but the EU one is not.

It looks like it was rushed through to give the government a good headline while the PM was in Europe.

It would have been far better to have continued negotiating than to have accepted this deal.

Whatever his role in setting climate change policy was, it hasn’t been good for farming, farmers, rural communities or the country.

Butchering He Waka Eke Noa would, by the government’s own figures, kill off one in five sheep and beef farms with consequent loss of jobs and export income that will make the ag-sag and share market crash of the 80s look like good times.

Turning productive farmland into forests is economic, environmental and social vandalism.

If there was any advocacy from the Minister on unblocking the immigration pathway for agricultural contractors and farm workers it hasn’t been effective.

Then there’s this:

New Zealand has agreed a declaration along with other members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that commits members to working together to boost sustainable agriculture and food systems, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said today in Paris.

The ‘Declaration on transformative solutions for sustainable agriculture and food systems’ was adopted at the OECD Committee for Agriculture on 4 November. . . 

“The Declaration will see OECD countries identify opportunities and challenges facing food production and share ways to tackle them. 

“It includes ensuring food security and nutrition for a growing global population, along with addressing environmental challenges in an inclusive manner. . . 

How does the goal of ensuring food security align with his government’s determination to tax farm emissions that by their own modelling will reduce food production so drastically?

If farmers had been rating the Minister he’d have got a very generous, not achieved.


It’s not just about farming

02/11/2022

Farmers are justifiably angry about the government’s plans to tax animal emissions but it’s not just farmers who are worried about the consequences:

Fish & Game is alarmed at a recently released report which shows the pace and extent of farmland being converted to forestry in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chief executive Corina Jordan says the scale of the land-use change, which is having a massive impact on rural communities, also has negative implications for recreational access and freshwater health.

The accelerated conversion is a result of current government policies, it will be far worse if the proposals to tax methane emissions are enacted.

The Beef & Lamb NZ (BLNZ) report details how vast tracts of farmland are being sold to carbon farming speculators, with a significant amount being bought up by offshore interests.

“Much of the land is going into permanent forestry for carbon sequestering, and this is destroying many rural communities through lost industry and jobs, and rural services and support disappearing. It is creating ghost towns,” says Jordan.

It is almost impossible for foreigners to buy farmland to farm, the hurdles for foreigners wanting to buy farmland to convert to forestry are much, much lower.

“Our anglers and hunters, and the general public, have long relied on the generosity and goodwill of the farmers who allow access to their properties to hunt, fish, swim or recreate. And many farmers are also keen anglers and hunters themselves.

“The rural hospitality they offer is part of the social fabric and culture of our country, but the amount of land we’re losing, and the rate at which it is disappearing into foreign ownership, is a real threat to that.”

Fish & Game, along with environmental NGOs, is also increasingly concerned about the impact of mass monoculture forest plantings on the environment.

“We absolutely agree there’s an urgent need to address the climate crisis, but BLNZ’s report shows the farm to forest conversion rate is far in excess of the recommendations put forward by the Climate Change Commission for the country to reach its emissions reduction targets.

“What’s more, pines take up a huge amount of water, thereby leading to less flowing into streams, rivers, and wetlands. Couple this with the acidic leachate that comes off land under exotic conifers, and an increase in some pollutants, and you’ve got catastrophic impacts on instream biology and the health of our freshwater.”

We were shown a creek in the Wairarapa which, the farmer whose land it meandered through said, never used to dry up, even in droughts until a large area of land upstream was planted in pines.

Now its water quality is degraded and it often dries up leaving water life including eels and koura to die.

Fish & Game believes government policy should actively encourage additional planting and the integration of trees – particularly natives – on farms, rather than pave the way for entire farms to be sold for conversion into exotic forestry.

“If the scale of forest carbon sinks on farms could be achieved to meet our climate change targets, then there are environmental benefits for biodiversity and freshwater health, whilst also keeping the social fabric of rural communities intact – a win all round.”

Meanwhile, with the carbon price forecast to continue to rise, more land purchases from international speculators will continue if the loopholes in our Emissions Trading Scheme and climate change policy are left unaddressed.

“A consortium of green groups recently called on the government to urgently rethink policy that is paving the way for this proliferation of exotic forests. Similarly, Fish & Game supports changes that lead to better environmental and social outcomes.

“Permanent plantation forestry has a place in helping meet New Zealand’s climate change commitments,” says Jordan. “However, more value needs to be placed on integrating indigenous trees on farm and allowing less productive parts of farms to regenerate.”

Environmental, economic and social damage is already being incurred by the misguided policy that allows productive pastoral farmland to be covered in pines.

If the government goes ahead with its plan to tax methane from cattle, deer and sheep the damage will be far greater and not just to rural land, waterways and communities.

Job losses will spread to towns and cities and the loss of export income will be devastating.


What were they thinking?

01/11/2022

Rural News asks : what were they thinking?

The Government’s so-called plan to price agricultural emissions must surely rank as one of the most bewildering decisions in the history of New Zealand farming.

This is about a proposal that could see many sheep and beef farmers’ incomes cut by up to 20%. Making the sheep and beef sector unviable has huge implications. Farmers could well walk off their land and leave it to the ‘plant and walk carbon farmers’.

If this wasn’t bad enough, the group most likely to be affected is Māori. Ardern and her Green mates love to publically display their support for Māori and all the things they are doing for them, which no one can seriously argue about. Traditionally Labour has been strongly supported by Māori – but is this about to end?

Māori produce about 15% of the country’s sheep and beef exports and Māori make up close to 30% of the workforce in meat processing plants. Their asset base in the sheep and beef sector is over $8 billion. . .

All the talk and the little this government has done to materially help Māori will be more than undone if they bulldoze on with their proposal to tax ag emissions.

It won’t just be Maori farmers, it will be the freezing workers, the contractors, consultants, advisors, all the others who service and supply farms and farmers and everyone who eats, regardless of their race.

Freezing works could well close and already poor communities could become destitute. All for the sake, some say, of giving the PM the chance to prance around on the world stage in Red Bands and say, “We are first to tax our farmers”. While the rest of the world will continue polluting on!

The government line is that most of the recommendations by a consortium of the rural sector have been accepted, and that’s probably correct, but it’s the crazy changes it is proposing to these recommendations that beggars belief. How long will it be before we are importing lamb, not exporting it to China, or buying beef, not selling beef to the USA? It might sound dramatic, but the risk is, it could be true – not to mention massive unemployment in rural NZ. . . 

Unemployment won’t just be in rural areas, the loss of farm spending will filter through to towns and cities, jsut as it did during the depths of the ag-sag in the 1980s.

But this will be far worse.

Farmers adapted to the loss of subsidies and other changes foisted on them by the Labour government of the day. While we can debate the way it was done I don’t know anyone who says it shouldn’t have been done nor that farming and the country aren’t better off as a result.

They won’t be able to say that about the pricing of agricultural emissions. Unless and until there are tools farmers can use to combat them, it will impose irreversible and detrimental changes to farming, rural communities and the whole economy.

The government calls it a levy, but with no tools to reduce emissions, it’s a tax, and one that will do immeasurable harm for no more good than virtue signalling to eco-zealots who expect us all to follow their science on climate change but don’t themselves follow any science on mitigation.


Rural round-up

31/10/2022

Farmers count the cost of government regulation – Rachael Kelly:

The rate of change coming at the agriculture industry and the cost of complying with it keeps fourth generation farmer Ben Dooley awake at night.

Dooley is adamant he doesn’t want to come across as a whinging farmer, and he’s keen to do what he can to improve his 250ha sheep farm and the environment.

He is the fourth generation on his family farm at Mimihau, south-east of Gore, but he fears his sons may not be the fifth.

“There’s so much regulation coming at us and costs just keep going up. I wonder whether it will get to the point where it’s not possible to make a living here and then there won’t be farm left here for them to take over,’’ he says. . . 

Key methane technologies misfire – Keith Woodford:

Methane technology breakthroughs cannot stop cannot ruminants from doing what comes naturally

Reducing methane production from pastoral agriculture lies at the heart of efforts to make pastoral agriculture more climate friendly. If only sheep and cattle could be made to stop producing methane!

Here I look at the challenges of making this happen. Unfortunately, those challenges are not easily solved. It is a lot harder than the uninitiated might think.

This is not just an issue for farmers. It is also an issue for all New Zealanders, given that almost half our exports come from pastoral agriculture – currently more than $32 billion per annum.  According to MPI, approximately 82 percent of all exports come from primary industries once timber, fish, horticulture and wine are included. . . 

Land plan in the firing line – Lois Williams :

A regional council head who wants to spare ratepayers the inconvenience of statutory land rules is ready to abandon a Local Government Commission-mandated planning document

Three million dollars and three years of work by West Coast councils will be down the drain if regional council head Allan Birchfield has his way.

The Greymouth gold miner was reinstalled as chair by a unanimous vote at the first meeting of the new-look and all-male council this week. 

High on his to-do list is the scrapping of the recently notified Te Tai o Poutini plan that coast councils and planners have been labouring over amid much angst since 2019.

Farm sales drop by almost 40 percent compared to previous year :

Just released real estate data shows a massive slump in farm sales in the three months to September compared with the same period last year.

There were nearly 109 fewer sales – that is a 39 percent drop compared with 2021, and a 53 percent drop when compared with 2020.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke said the median price also fell nearly 4 percent, down to $23,080 a hectare, compared with $30,890 recorded for the three months ended September 2021.

He said the sales drop was worse than usual for this time of year – which was a generally slower time – and a few factors were at play including inflation and emissions tax. . . 

They don’t care about non-Maori farmers – John Porter:

A new government report to Cabinet, yet again, states Maori are going to be disadvantaged! This time it is Maori farmers.

The Maori Party’s Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said an agriculture emissions pricing system disadvantages Maori-owned beef and sheep farms.

Why, Debbie? Are Maori farmers the only farmers going to be negatively impacted by an agriculture emissions pricing system? Are Maori farmers the only farmers practising regenerative and value-add farming?
I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated with the continual lack of objectivity in pronouncements by the Maori Party. . .

 

New Zealand wine export value hits all-time high :

The value of New Zealand wine in international markets is stronger than ever, with exports for 12 months to September at an all-time high of $2.03 billion, up 6% from the previous year. USA ($727 million) and Canada ($157 million) are at new record levels. The total value increase of 6% is due to a rise in value per litre, with volume for the 12 months to September decreasing 4% from a year ago.

The month of September 2022 has set a new export record of $287 million, this being the first time the export value has exceeded $¼ billion in any month.

“Record export value in September proves that our customers continue to appreciate the exceptional flavours, commitment to quality and sustainability of New Zealand wines, particularly in key international markets such as North America. Consumers around the world select a bottle of New Zealand wine off the shelf as they know it is a premium and unique product that they can trust,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

 

 


Government has sabotaged farming consensus

28/10/2022

The government’s butchering of the agri-sector’s He Waka Eke Noa has led to growing  farmer rebellion:

A large protest meeting of farmers in Invercargill last night heard Federated Farmers President, Andrew Hoggard, withdraw his support for the Government’s proposal for farmers to pay for their emissions.

And he indicated the Feds would leave the He Waka Eke Noa farm sector partnership that had been working with the Government on a farm emissions policy.

“It’s been two and a half bloody years or more of dumb regulation after dumb regulation after dumb regulation, and  for me, it’s just like, Nah, screw it, I’m done with being polite about it,” he told the meeting to applause.

Hoggard last night said the Feds had always opposed the methane reduction target of a reduction of 10 per cent by 2030.

He said his organisation had continued within the HWEN partnership because of its original principles. They were that the agriculture sector would work with the Government to design a pricing mechanism “where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm practice change” and “only to the extent necessary to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities that contribute to lower global emissions.”

“It’s just gotten more and more tenuous as we’ve gone along the process, and finally, the government proposal was the knife that cut that link,” he said.

He said Federated Farmers had never supported pricing in the first place because the alternative would have been farmers going into the Emissions Trading Scheme, which would mean much higher payments and no chance of any rebates for mitigation.  

“We tried to argue that we didn’t want pricing in there, but everyone else was of the opinion that pricing had to be a part of it; otherwise, the government would reject it (the HWEN proposal)”, he said.

“And so we went along with it because we felt at least then if we’re in the team, we could push back, keep providing that sort of tension, keeping that farmer voice in there. “And certainly throughout the process, we have managed to at least get some changes, some wins, keep some stupid things out of it. “But it has been bloody hard work.”

Hoggard argued that what had been intended to be a levy was now a tax because of the failure to allow for sequestration. To achieve the 10 per cent gross reduction in emissions by 2030, the Government would do so by taxing farmers to force them to reduce production.

“And so the way you’ve got to think of it is that they need a gross reduction, and at the moment, without mitigations, a 10% gross reduction only comes from 10% less dry matter going down ruminants throats,” he said. “And so that is a key thing.

“And to me, that is the fundamental change the Government has made is that change to the pricing principles and that singular focus on achieving the targets at all cost to our communities.”

His views were echoed by two South Island National MPs.

“We will not accept the government’s proposal,” said Southland MP Joseph Mooney.

“Yes, we want the research and development to happen, and we want the science and technology to be able to lower the emissions, but we need to be doing it in step, so pricing can’t get ahead of competitor countries, and we can’t put our food security at risk,” said Invercargill MP, Penny Simmonds. . .

 

It took a lot of work to get the He Waka Eke Noa proposal together, there were a lot of reservations about it but most agreed it was less bad than putting farming in the ETS.

The government has sabotaged the consensus. Federated Farmers is leading the charge against the proposal and other organisations that had been part of HWEN are also very critical of the proposed changes for very good reasons.

The economic and social costs are far too high for little, if any, environmental gain.

The meeting also discussed the impractical winter grazing regulations.

A leading Southland farmer says she won’t be getting winter grazing consents and hundreds of other farmers will also refuse to get them.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt, speaking at a meeting about the Government’s controversial farming emissions’ proposal and winter grazing regulations at Stadium Southland on Wednesday night, said consents were supposed to place extra scrutiny where the highest risks were.

But if thousands of people had to get them for an activity, it was not targeting the highest risk.

“That’ll mean councils can’t adequately check them out in advance or enforce them so it makes a mockery of the process. You’ll pay for a piece of paper but there’s nothing behind it, and that’s why we don’t support these ones,” she said.

The Government legislation was shoddy and was not ready to go which was why she would not be getting a consent for winter grazing, she said.

She was not asking everyone to boycott the consents, saying it was each individual’s choice, but suggested there would be safety in numbers.

“They can’t prosecute us all.”

She asked the hundreds of people at the meeting to stand with her in boycotting the consents and almost all did.

Hunt made of point of saying the Feds would not defend farmers who operated without regard for animal or environmental welfare. . . .

The video is a livestream of the meeting, the business starts at about 18 minutes.


“It is not a levy, it is a tax”

27/10/2022

National’s Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg gets it – when research, science and technology have yet to come up with the means to reduce farm emissions, the government’s proposal to charge for them is not a levy, it’s a tax:

NICOLA GRIGG (National—Selwyn): I was thinking, just earlier, after hearing Damien O’Connor’s contribution to the House followed by Meka Whaitiri’s, that we’d heard two valedictory speeches this evening, and I think I can add a third to that list. Yet another five-minute diatribe just proving nothing but what a tin ear the Ministers of this Crown have. We hear nothing but denial and defence coming out from this Government. They are so, so enthusiastic about rewriting history.

The facts of the matter are the industry, the 11 partnership groups of He Waka Eke Noa, took a proposal to the Government. The Government has come back with its response just last week. It has dumped the parts that the farming sector was prepared to sign up to. That is what the so-called “whinging and carping and griping” that Kieran McAnulty talks about is about, because, once again, this industry has been roundly ignored by this Government. And, yes, we do, on this side of the House, stand by the fact that we will not support a pricing mechanism until the science and technology is in place, otherwise it is not a levy; it is a tax. It is a tax on food while our country is in the grip of a cost of living crisis, and this Government is doing nothing but to fan the flames of that crisis.

The government keeps trying to tell us it cares about the poor and wants to help people out of poverty but either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care, that taxing food production will push more people into poverty by increasing unemployment and food prices, and reducing export income.

Nobody on that side of the House is talking about the 20 percent of sheep and beef farms that are going to go out of business. By the Government’s own numbers, one in five sheep and beef farmers in this country will go out of business, and they have the nerve to talk about this side of the House criticising them and not supporting this proposal. We would support this proposal if it was fair and if it was equitable. We have said from the outset that the National Party does support emissions pricing for the agricultural sector if there are fair and reasonable sequestration options in place; if there is the science and technology in place. We will not stand by a proposal that puts one in five of our sheep and beef farmers out of business. We will not stand by a proposal that sees our richest industry, the industry that earns this country some money, sent offshore to high-emitting farming countries. We will not stand by it, we will not support it, and I do not apologise for calling the Government out on it.

If you don’t want to hear it from me, Mr McAnulty, maybe have a look at the latest industry rag out this week. Here we go: “Govt ‘fails fairness test’ on HWEN”. “HWEN has farmers upset over offsets”. “Sector flags ‘immediate concerns’ on HWEN”. There is no balancing of the ledger on the levy; take that from the people in the industry, Mr McAnulty. And while Ms Whaitiri crows away about the farmers inviting her on to their place, I’ll tell you what: it ain’t for tea and tinies. It is to try, in a desperate, final attempt—in the six weeks they’ve got left, it is to try and educate this Government as to what it is doing to our most productive sector. Fifteen percent of this country earns 50 percent of its revenue, and you lot over that side of the House should pay wise words to that.

Every single one of the industry groups, the 11 groups that signed up to this thing, have reacted angrily and have opposed the Government’s response to it. Once again: you took their advice back in May; perhaps you best start listening to them now. As you keep saying, they are the industry. They are the ones at the coal face. They are the ones who should know what they’re talking about. Well, they’re telling you now: this thing does not work, and the National Party wants to work with those groups and find something that will work. We are committed to reducing carbon emissions. We do agree the primary sector does need to pay its way, and it plays an important part in designing a system, designing its own process for recording and pricing those emissions. It can only happen, though, if farmers are allowed all options of sequestration. That includes shelterbelts; that includes riparian planting; that includes native bush and reserves.

A National Government would invest in driving technology. It wouldn’t just announce $300 million technology incentives and funds and just write a press release and put it out; it would actually invest. Come down to my electorate. Come and visit Lincoln Agritech and all those solutions are right there. They have been developed. They need some sort of system to commercialise them and incentivise them. I would suggest, Mr McAnulty, if you want me up in Marlborough having a look at the flood damage, come down to my electorate, take a look at the technology being developed down there, put your money where your mouth is, and start investing behind them.


We’re not going to take it

21/10/2022

Thank you West Coast mayors and chairs:

The combined Mayors and Chairs of the West Coast Region stand strongly in support of the NZ Farmers in today’s protest against the Governments proposed agricultural tax emissions plan.

“We must protect our farming and rural communities at all costs. They are a vital contributor to our economy both regionally and nationally and are some of the most sustainable food producers in the world, having one of the lowest carbon footprints.

“The governments proposed tax emissions have the potential to create food scarcity and higher food prices with a significant volume of farmable land likely to be transferred to growing pine trees.
This tax emission plan is unworkable.

“No government has the right to remove without consent the value of one’s land, production and business which will be the end result.

“Potentially 26% of all NZ farms could disappear due to this tax plan.

We stand strong as a region in supporting and protecting our farmers who are all highly valued contributors to our region.”

Mayor Jamie Cline (Buller)
Mayor Tanya Gibson (Grey)
Mayor Helen Lash (Westland)
Chair Alan Birchfield (West Coast Regional Council) 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

20/10/2022

Genetic modification in New Zealand – scientists call for 20-year rethink – Jamie Morton:

Twenty years after the Corngate scandal turned genetic modification into a political hot potato, leading science figures hope a new review will bring changes. Jamie Morton reports.

It’s called ciltacabtagene autoleucel.

Its trading name, Carvykti, doesn’t roll off the tongue any easier.

But it marks a major milestone in one of our most complex, contentious and enduring debates: genetic modification. . .

Fonterra’s competitors challenges its capital restructuring plan but the co-op has the backing of our agriculture minister – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s   big  dairy  company, Fonterra,  has  come  under  pressure   from  two  directions  this  week.  First,  its  fortnightly GDT auction registered  another   fall  in  prices. Second,  it  faced  fire   from   four  of  its  competitors which  lobbied  the  government against  its  capital  restructuring  plan.

On  the  first issue, the latest  sale  has  taken  the GDT index  to  the  lowest level  since  January  last  year, although  what  may  soften that particular  blow  is  the  devaluation  of  the  local  currency. The  NZ dollar is  now  trading well  down against  the  greenback at US56c ,  from where  it  was  then,  around US70c.

The average price at the  auction fell 4.6% to US$3723 a tonne, after falling 3.5% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March. . .

Sharing story sustainability – Sally Rae:

As Becks Smith prepares to record her podcast The Whole Story, she puts a port-a-cot mattress on the headboard of her bed to help with sound quality.

Her bedroom doubled as a studio, given many of the rooms of the Maniototo farmhouse she shares with husband Jason and their three young children, were too echoey.

Occasionally, their working dogs could be heard barking in the background of the podcast, while rural connectivity issues sometimes also had to be worked through.

But it summed her up; rather than having a slick studio somewhere, it was authentic and real, based on a 700ha sheep, beef and deer property in the heart of rural Otago.

“To resonate with farmers, you don’t need polished and shiny,” she said. . .

Lambs to slaughter  – Clive Bibby :

Any farmer trying to get space for lambs that need to be killed before they cut their teeth will identify with this very apt description which could also be applied to a wider difficulty that is affecting the whole country.

Unfortunately the problem in all its forms is a direct result of the government’s obsession with an ideological target that is being increasingly seen as a misplaced interpretation of world climatic events – particularly in how we in New Zealand should react in mitigation to the perceived threat of global warming.

Most intelligent observers, especially those of us charged with rescuing the nation from the avoidable mistakes made during Covid, will be appalled, if not frightened by the government’s determination to pursue the disastrous path on which we have all been committed. 

As one approaching the twilight years of my life and a keen admirer of the farmers who have time and again over the years come to the rescue of the dangerous halfwits we have mistakenly elected to the highest office in the land, I am worried that this time, our collective effort may not be enough. . .

Southern Pastures measuring dairy for good :

Ethical investor Southern Pastures, the country’s largest institutional dairy investment fund, has been judged to be a Responsible Investment Leader for the seventh year running.

It remains the only organization from New Zealand’s agriculture and food sectors to ever be included in the annual benchmark report released by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).

Southern Pastures owns 19 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury and is the owner of premium dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery and wholesale business NZ Grass Fed Products LP.

“So often the pastoral industry is judged by outputs such as emissions, but we’re not nearly as rigorously measured or assessed for the positive services that some of us provide,” says Prem Maan, Southern Pastures’ Executive Chairman. . . 

New Zealand’s top sausages announced :

New World Te Rapa in Hamilton and Zaroa Meats in Auckland have been announced as the Supreme Award joint winners in the 2022 Great New Zealand Sausage Competition. The judges couldn’t split New World Te Rapa’s Pork sausage and Zaroa Meats’ Aoraki Salami, instead crowning them joint winners of the Supreme Award.

The successful sausages were announced at a special Sausage Mixer event this evening where butchers from across the nation gathered to find out who had taken out the top spot. It’s not the first time there has been a tie, but judges were unanimous that both sausages had all the qualities they were looking for to beat out over 530 other entries.

Porsche Davis, of New World Te Rapa says “I wasn’t expecting this at all. I wasn’t expecting to win gold to start with let alone this” When asked the secret to their Supreme sausage, Porsche Davis was giving nothing away “We did recently update our pork sausage recipe, it’s made from New Zealand pork but I can’t reveal any trade secrets, you have to try it to understand!”

Marc Zabern of Zaroa Meats says “my father is the mastermind behind the supreme salami, he’s been designing the most incredible sausages for years now and when he created this Wagyu and Venison Salami we knew it was special. It’s a taste sensation.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/10/2022

Farmers react to government’s HWENN stance– Richard Rennie & Annette Scott:

Masterton farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ councillor Paul Crick says there’s a fundamental unfairness in the government’s interpretation of He Waka Eke Noa, one that conflicts with its own policy goals.

“Reading the ‘Fit for a Better World’ policy document, in Damien O’Connor’s foreword he writes how its aim is to build a more productive, sustainable and inclusive food and fibre sector. That appears a lot throughout the document, ensuring a better future for farmers and growers. How then do we throw that lens over what we heard on HWEN this week?”

Crick said there is a fundamental unfairness in the removal of the ability to sequester methane against farm vegetation, and in ignoring the 1.4 million hectares of woody vegetation already growing on NZ drystock farms that could be applied.

“It seems they are saying on one hand we will take it, and on the other we will take it as well. There is no balancing of the ledger there.”  . . .

Why blame cows Maori farmer rejects ETS money grab? – James Perry:

Paki Nikora, a trustee of Te Urewera-based Tātaiwhetu Trust, says he can’t fathom why farmers continue to be blamed for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Mēnā tātou ka whakaaro i te wā ka pā mai te mate uruta kia tātou, ka makere mai ngā ēropereina i te rangi, ka makere mai ngā motuka i ngā huarahi ka mārama te kitea atu i te taiao ki te whare rā anō o te atua. Kei te whakapae rātou nā ngā kau kē te hē.
(If we think back to when the covid pandemic hit us and the planes were grounded and cars were off the roads, it was clear to see the improvement in the environment. But they still want to blame the cows.) 

He describes the government’s emissions reduction scheme is a “senseless tax” on the industry.

“Kāore au i te mārama he aha rātou e huri mai nei ki te tāke i a tātou whenua. He mahi moni noa tērā.”
(I don’t know why they keep trying to tax us on our whenua. It’s just a plain money grab) . . 

Why New Zealand meat is outstanding in its field – Annette Scott :

Going from the laboratory to the family dinner table, a multi-year research programme looked into the relative nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef and lamb, and plant-based alternatives. Annette Scott found out why grass is so great.

A New Zealand research programme has found pasture-raised beef and lamb beats both grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives when it comes to health and wellbeing benefits for consumers.

The four-year programme brought together researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland and included two ground-breaking clinical trials to look at the impact of red meat on the diet.

The clinical trials assessed the physical effects on the body from eating beef or lamb raised on grass, grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives, and looked at measurements of wellbeing such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels. . . .

 

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon to build innovative land-based salmon farm :

A prototype for New Zealand’s first sustainable, land-based salmon farm is in the early stages of development, with backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

SFF Futures is committing $6.7 million over six years to the $16.7 million project, which was officially launched in Twizel today. Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker attended the launch and visited the freshwater salmon farms to hear about Mt Cook Alpine Salmon’s plans for building the prototype.

“Demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to boost the supply of this high-quality, high-value product,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

Mr Penno says the project aligns with the Government’s aquaculture strategy, which outlines a sustainable growth pathway to an additional $3 billion in annual revenue. . . 

Fonterra revises milk collection :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its 2022/23 New Zealand milk collections to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its previous forecast of 1,495 million kgMS.

Fonterra last reduced its 2022/23 milk collections forecast in early September. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says this was due to weather conditions in parts of New Zealand causing a slow start to the season.  . . .

 

My food bag launches homegrown taste adventures to celebrate Nadia’s farm :

My Food Bag has released its latest meal kit offering to enable Kiwi foodies the opportunity to recreate dishes featured on Three’s new programme, Nadia’s Farm.

My Food Bag is a proud sponsor of Nadia’s Farm, an unfiltered look at Nadia and her husband Carlos as they re-establish Royalburn Station, airing Wednesday nights on Three and ThreeNow.

Bringing the fresh and high quality ingredients seen on television direct to Kiwi kitchens, My Food Bag is releasing meal kits inspired by meals seen on Nadia’s Farm and has launched a farm shop filled with products from Royalburn Station, and other boutique New Zealand suppliers.

Jo Mitchell, Chief Customer Officer of My Food Bag, says supporting Nadia’s Farmis a way to celebrate the best of New Zealand food and what happens on the farm to make that possible for us. . . 

 


We’re not going to take it

15/10/2022

Matthew Hooton joins the chorus pointing out the government’s stupidity:

. . .If her positioning of the new taxes as a world first was designed to prop up her base, it underlined to everyone else the complete idiocy of her move. New Zealand dairy farmers have the lowest GHG emissions per unit of production of any in the world. The same is broadly true of sheep and beef farmers.

Their climate efficiency is such that a block of New Zealand butter sold in London has a smaller climate footprint than one produced in the UK. Every time a Chinese consumer buys New Zealand milk powder over an American, European or Australian equivalent, the climate is theoretically better off.

Yet, right now, government policies mean our dairy herd is declining while the US herd is growing. Every time there is one less cow in New Zealand and one more in the US, the world gets just that little bit hotter.

Ardern knows this, as do Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who attended her haybarn announcement. In my view they are knowingly reducing the competitiveness of the New Zealand agriculture sector relative to its competitors, threatening the survival of provincial communities while consciously increasing global emissions.

Two arguments are made in response. The first is that New Zealand exporters will gain a premium for having the world’s lowest GHG emissions. Except for a tiny sliver of products that might be sold in specialty stores, everybody in the agriculture sector and hopefully even the Wellington bureaucracy and Beehive know this is nonsense.

Were evidence needed, New Zealand could already advertise that our food products are the world’s most climate-friendly but the reality is that international consumers, let alone the global milk powder and hamburger patty auctions, don’t care.

The second claim is even more ludicrous, that, as claimed by Shaw on Tuesday: “Countries grappling with the same challenges as us are once again looking to New Zealand for climate leadership.”

If any other country is looking at us it’s only to laugh at the idiocy of taxing the world’s most efficient farmers when they haven’t got the tools to reduce emissions, there’s a global food shortage and the Paris Accord states climate change policies shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

Unlike the claim about the alleged market premium, it is possible the likes of Shaw even believe this. But in reality, nobody looks to New Zealand leadership on anything, whether nuclear non-proliferation, free trade or climate-change policy.

That was true even when the rules-based international system prevailed in the 1990s and 2000s, but it has now unravelled.

China’s GHG emissions are now double those of the US and still growing. Those two countries, plus India, the EU, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil, are responsible for 60 per cent of global emissions and growing.

In the current international environment, it is extremely unlikely that Xi Jinping, Joe Biden, Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin are remotely interested in whether or not the world’s most climate-friendly farmers are paying Ardern’s new tax. . . 

Our neighbour has not intention of following this folly:

Groundswell is planning another protest to show to show farmers aren’t going to take it:

In response to the Government’s assault on food production and rural communities with a punitive and counterproductive tax on livestock emissions, Groundswell NZ is holding a nationwide protest at midday on Thursday, 20 October, Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie says.

“The Government’s ideological commitment to punitive and counterproductive emissions taxes on food production is an existential threat to rural communities.”

“After years of faux consultation, the Government has given up on all pretence of a fair and workable agricultural emissions policy.”

“Instead, we have a tax that, on the Government’s own numbers, will result in up to a 20% reduction in production for Sheep & Beef farmers and a 6% reduction for Dairy farmers, while their emissions reductions will be replaced by less efficient foreign farmers due to emissions leakage.”

“Looking good at the UN is not a good enough reason to send rural communities to the wall and drive food prices through the roof. That’s why we’re calling on all New Zealanders to show the Government that We’re Not Going To Take It, this Thursday, 20 October, at midday.”

“Most New Zealanders oppose reducing livestock numbers to meet emissions targets and now we’re going to remind the Government how New Zealand pays its way in the world.”

“As in previous protests, we are asking all those participating to respect private property and support local businesses,” says Mr McKenzie.


Rural round-up

05/10/2022

Government ban is cancellation over collaboration :

A future National Government will review today’s law change banning live cattle exports, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“Despite National’s opposition, Parliament has today passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill into law, banning the export of live animals by sea from April next year.

“As New Zealanders grapple with a cost of living crisis made worse by the Labour Government, today’s decision signals more economic pain for farmers and consumers.

“An Infometrics Economic Impact Report says this ban will reduce New Zealand’s gross domestic product by $472 million and cost export cattle breeders between $49,000 and $116,000 per farm, every year. . . .

Live cattle export ban a golden opportunity missed for NZ ag – Nicola Grigg:

New Zealand has been robbed of an opportunity to shape welfare standards in the global trade of live animals, with the upcoming passage of a law that will end exports from this country as of April next year.

Once again, we have before us another example of a government that prefers a cancel culture, rather than a constructive culture. This ban came about on the back of the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 in 2019, in which two New Zealanders died.

That was a tragedy, and I do acknowledge those families involved.

But the livestock trade will continue whether or not New Zealand is part of it. Now, unfortunately, other countries with less rigorous animal welfare standards will make up for the gap in the market as New Zealand withdraws. . . 

 

Another record payout for Tatua’s 101 farmer shareholders –  Point of Order:

It  is  only  a star on the  horizon for  the  bulk  of  dairy  farmers — but  this is  what  they  may  aspire  to.  How  about  a  payout of  $11.30kg/MS?

That’s what the 101 farmer-shareholders in  the Waikato  specialist-product-co-op  Tatua  will receive — a  record — for the 2021-22 year.  Tatua will still retain close to $20m  to reinvest in the business.

Tatua  has reported group earnings equivalent to $12.65kg before retentions for the year ended July 31. This was up on the previous year’s earnings of  $10.43kg and was achieved in spite of Covid-related disruption and shipping issues.

The company said group income was $444m ($395m the  previous year), with earnings available for payout of $186m. Retentions were equivalent to $1.35/kg. . . 

Why keeping tabs of Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India – Point of Order:

Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a  trade deal with India.

Australia has secured a free trade deal with  what  is  the  planet’s  fifth-biggest economy.

In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.

Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019. . . 

Pasture-raised advantage New Zealand :

New Zealand scientists have conducted a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is our pasture-raised meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and have undertaken a ground-breaking new research programme that compared pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives. . . .

 

 

 

New research to future-proof New Zealand’s wine sector :

A new experimental vineyard in Blenheim will help enhance the supply of quality grapes for New Zealand’s wine sector into the future.

The new Experimental Future Vineyard facility, based at the New Zealand Wine Centre – Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa, will provide a unique resource for research into wine grape production. Operated by Plant & Food Research, the Experimental Future Vineyard will support productivity and quality aspirations of the New Zealand wine sector by developing new growing practices with improved environmental outcomes.

The new facility will be based within a 600m2 shelter, allowing researchers to control the vineyard environment and build knowledge that will ensure the wine sector is prepared for future challenges. The facility will enable research to be conducted within the vine and beneath the soil, and allow researchers to control aspects of the environment such as soil type and temperature and water availability.

“We’re excited to be a part of Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa,” says Dr Damian Martin, Science Group Leader Viticulture and Oenology at Plant & Food Research. “We know climate change will add to challenges facing wine production in New Zealand, with warmer days and more insect pests and diseases able to establish here. We also know that consumer expectations will continue to evolve, with increased focus on sustainability credentials. Being able to understand how best to grow excellent grapes that allow winemakers to meet their environmental, financial and societal requirements will ensure our wine sector can continue to grow.” . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2022

Massive stockpiles as mānuka buzz fades – Richard Rennie:

Massive stockpiles of both mānuka and non-mānuka honey are the downside of a decade’s worth of double-digit growth as producers face the reality of disposing tonnes of product at severe discounts just to stay afloat.

Jane Lorimer, Waikato beekeeper and president of New Zealand Beekeeping Inc, said she expects to witness a lot of pain before any real gains come out of the industry’s current situation. 

The country’s total stock of honey in storage is estimated to exceed one year’s entire production.

“There will be pain before we see any real gain, most definitely. There are people who came into the industry thinking they would make money relatively easily out of mānuka, only to find they now have to exit.” . . 

 Mayor contenders agree on water storage and ‘broken’ council funding model – Simon Edwards:

They differed on priorities and approach but mayoral candidates for the Wairarapa’s three councils found some common ground on issues impacting farmers and the wider community.

At a 28 September election event in Carterton organised by Federated Farmers Wairarapa and Business Wairarapa, not one of the 11 would-be mayors had any quibble with an audience member who said more water storage in the region was vital.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he was “laser-focused” on the five key focus areas of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy:  “First is land use, and vital to that is water.  The only way to unlock our future is to unleash the delivery of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy,” Lang said.

There also appeared to be a high degree of agreement that amalgamation of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils – probably as a unitary council (i.e. with both territorial and regional council responsibilities) – is on the cards. . . 

 

English hands to the plough – Shawn McAvinue:

English farm machinery operators are travelling to the South to bridge a “dire” staff shortage, agricultural contractors say.

Hunt Agriculture co-owner Alistair Hunt, of Chatton, north of Gore, said it was hard to find staff.

“It is slim pickings.”

Agricultural contractors would be busy up to Christmas, he said. . .

Winners announced in the  inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand awards  :

The winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre last night.

It was a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world leading.

Andrew Morrison, Chairman of B+LNZ reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of COVID-19. 

“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world with around 24 percent of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints.”  . . 

Highly regulated industry better than complete ban supported by research :

Live Animal Export New Zealand (LENZ) says that the passing of the Act banning live animal exports will damage the New Zealand economy and is out of step with the views of the New Zealand public.

According to an independent research report by science insights company Voconiq, over half of New Zealanders surveyed have confidence that regulation can hold the industry accountable.

Research respondents believe with better regulation the Government can hold the live export industry accountable (55% agree) and that rather than banning live export, New Zealand should raise the standards required of the industry (59% agree).

Eighty-five percent of New Zealanders either agree (54%) or are neutral (31%) that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand. . . 

Industry partnership to launch meat-based vending machine meals in China :

Consumers will soon be able to buy ready-to-eat meals, made with New Zealand beef and lamb, from vending machines in Shanghai.

Major red meat exporters Beef + Lamb NZ, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms are piloting beef and lamb vending machines with meals ready for time-poor consumers.

Beef and Lamb spokesperson Michael Wan said the two Pure Box vending machines will be located in Shanghai’s busy business districts, offering another food option for busy workers.

Wan said buyers would be able to choose from six meals that had been co-designed by Shanghai chef Jamie Pea. They fuse traditional Chinese ingredients and flavours with Western food trends to highlight the taste of New Zealand-produced beef and lamb. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/09/2022

Voluntary sequestration schemes create opportunities as well as confusion – Keith Woodford:

Native forests that began regenerating prior to 1990 are excluded from the ETS. This opens opportunities for voluntary schemes independent of Government.

In a recent article, I wrote how carbon credits are not created equal. This inequality is now leading to game-playing and confusion across society. Terms like ‘greenwash’ as the carbon equivalent of a ‘whitewash’ are increasingly heard and there is increasing talk of ‘hot air’ carbon claims.

Since writing that article, I have been wrestling with the challenge of further deepening my own understanding of how the carbon game is being played. It is a game where different players are playing by different sets of rules, as are the certifying referees.  Many of the certifying rules are far from transparent.

Here in this article my focus is specifically on the rules surrounding sequestration that removes carbon from the atmosphere. That leaves other aspects of the carbon rules for another time. . .

Better free trade outcomes an illusion – EU politician – Sam Sachdeva:

EU trade committee chair Bernd Lange argues the grouping’s trade deal with New Zealand is a “gold standard” agreement – even if Kiwi farmers disagree. Lange spoke to Sam Sachdeva about China’s coercive trade practices, cracking down on forced labour, and how the Ukraine invasion has changed attitudes on trade

Even a typically miserable Wellington spring day can’t shake the good mood of European parliamentarian Bernd Lange.

Speaking to Newsroom at the end of a week-long visit to New Zealand, Lange says the grey skies and rain remind him of his roots in northern Germany – although his cheer may be more down to the free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand he is here to discuss.

Lange visited New Zealand in late 2017 for a “fact-finding mission” with other members of the European Parliament’s international trade committee which he chairs. . . 

Synlait posts $38.5m annual profit

The South Island dairy company Synlait Milk is back in the black as its ingredients division saw higher than normal sales, while its major customer rebalanced inventory levels.

Key numbers for the 12 months ended July compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $38.5m vs $28.5m loss
  • Revenue $1.66b vs $1.37b
  • Total average payment $9.59 vs $7.82
  • Forecast 2023 payout $9.50 per kilo of milk solids

Synlait chair John Penno said the past year was “an important period of refocusing”. . . 

Fonterra trials world first in sustainable electricity storage :

A new organic, low-cost, safe, sustainable and long-life battery being trialled by Fonterra, could support greater energy security and distributed electricity generation for New Zealand.

PolyJoule, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-off, is partnering with Fonterra on the application of the battery made from electrically conductive polymers, an organic based compound with the ability to act like metal.

Late last year the world’s first industrial scale organic battery was installed on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa. The battery was cycled daily, supporting dairy shed operations for 10 months. The Co-op is now moving this battery to its Waitoa UHT site, which can be impacted by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says as a significant electricity user at about 2.5% of the national grid, a sustainable and secure electricity supply is vital to the Co-operative’s local sales and exports. . .

Primary sector exporters buoyed by opportunities for a closer India-NZ relationship but different approach necessary :

Primary sector exporters recently returned from a visit to India are excited about the opportunities for a closer partnership between the two countries, however they are urging the New Zealand Government to adopt a more flexible and focused approach to trade.

New Zealand’s agriculture exporters and industry bodies, including representatives from the red meat, kiwifruit, apples & pears and dairy sectors, were part of an India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) delegation which coincided with a visit from Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.

“India has come out of COVID-19 with growing confidence and strength, and its leaders have a clear focus on accelerating economic growth including through trade,” says INZBC chair Earl Rattray, who has dairy interests in India.

“India is on track to become the world’s third largest economy within the next decade. There is a modern economic miracle unfolding there, with an openness to explore mutually beneficial ways to strengthen trade relationships. This is a good time for New Zealand business to embrace India.” . . 

NZ Young Farmers and Ministry for Primary Industries partner to boost wellbeing :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is supporting NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to fund a series of events for NZYF members as part of an initiative to improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

MPI is contributing funding for the events, which will offer a channel for young people across the country to connect and learn ways to manage mental health and build resilience.

NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says mental health is a key concern in rural communities, where factors such as isolation and high workloads can impact overall wellbeing and mental health.

“The mental and physical wellbeing of young people is a big focus of our organisation and is essential for the ongoing viability of many rural communities,” says Lynda Coppersmith. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Do as I say

26/09/2022

It’s not hard to pick holes in the rhetoric of the school pupils who are striking for climate change.

They want the national dairy herd to be halved with absolutely no consideration of the economic and social costs here.

Nor do they show any consideration of the environmental costs as farmers in other countries with far less efficient methods than ours increase production to compensate.

They also want to get rid of fertiliser with no idea of the impact that would have on world hunger.

And this interview by Heather du Plessis-Allan with one of the strikers has to be one of the best examples of do as I say not as I do.

Therehas been criticism of the way the interviewee was treated and I agree the laughter was over the top.

But if a 16 year-old acting politically can’t be treated like an adult in an interview,  16 year-olds should not get the vote.


Record payout

22/09/2022

Fonterra has announced a record payout:

. . .Fonterra today announced a strong set of results for the financial year ending 31 July 2022, reflecting a 2021/22 Farmgate Milk Price of NZ$9.30 per kgMS and normalised profit after tax of NZ$591 million. 

With a total dividend of 20 cents per share to our fully shared-up farmers – comprising of an interim dividend of 5 cents per share and a final dividend of 15 cents per share – the final cash pay-out for farmers is $9.50.

Total Group normalised Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) was NZ$991 million, up NZ$39 million or 4% on the prior year. 

Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says despite the challenges including increased costs associated with supply chain volatility, 2021/22 was a good year for the Co-op.

“These results demonstrate that our decisions relating to product mix, market diversification, quality products and resilient supply chain, mean the Co-op is able to deliver both a strong milk price and robust financial performance in a tough global operating environment.

“The Co-op is pleased to be able to pay a total dividend of 20 cents per share for our farmer owners and unit holders. And this year’s higher Farmgate Milk Price is the strongest it has ever been, which is great news for our farmers. New Zealand also benefits from this, with $13.7 billion returned into the economy in milk price payments alone this year.

“Importantly, one year on, the Co-op is making tangible progress against our strategy – namely to focus on New Zealand milk, be a leader in sustainability and a leader in dairy innovation and science. . . 

This is good news for farmers, sharemilkers and the wider economy and the outlook for the current season is positive in spite of global uncertainties.

The forecast farmgate Milne price for this season is a range of NZ$8.50–$10.00 per kgMS, with a midpoint of NZ$9.25 per kgMS and a range of  45-60 cents for shares.

 


Rural round-up

13/09/2022

Research looks at breeding more climate friendly cows :

New research has confirmed bulls’ genetics play a role in how much methane they emit, highlighting the potential for farmers to breed low methane-emitting cows in the future.

The news comes following the first year of a research programme run by major New Zealand artificial breeding companies LIC and CRV.

The research, funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), measures methane emissions from the burps of young bulls set to father the next generation of New Zealand’s dairy cows.

Results from year one, where the feed intake and methane emissions from 281 bulls were measured, found there is genetic variation in the amount of methane emitted after accounting for the feed eaten by the bulls, with the lowest emitting around 15-20% less methane than the average. . .

David Parker must delay winter grazing regulations :

The Government is about to pile up to $100 million of unnecessary compliance costs onto farmers because its freshwater regulations are more than a year overdue, National’s Agriculture spokespeople Barbara Kuriger and Joseph Mooney say.

“Under Environment Minister David Parker’s regulations, farmers must have a certified freshwater farm plan for winter grazing on sloping land. If they do not have a certified plan, they must obtain a resource consent,” Barbara Kuriger says.

“Two years after the regulations were passed, the Ministry for the Environment has not completed the framework allowing farmers to certify freshwater farm plans. Officials have indicated the framework will not be ready this year.

“The regulations have already been delayed by David Parker twice, but are now due to come into force in November. Because the guidelines will not be ready, many thousands of farmers will have no alternative but to apply for resource consents for their winter grazing. . . 

How Miles brings smiles to the nation’s cowsheds this time by upgrading earnings guidance – Point of Order:

The giant  dairy co-op Fonterra  has  sent  a  shiver  of  excitement  through the  country’s   cowsheds     by   upgrading  its earnings guidance to between 45 and 60c per share, up from 30 to 45c per share for the 2022-23  season.

At  a  time  when  other  sectors  of  the  economy   are  under  pressure, and the  dairy industry is  coping with  difficult  climatic  conditions,  Fonterra in effect is signalling  that NZ’s export  mainstay can  do  even  better  than it  did in the  previous outstanding season  in sustaining its  export  earnings.

Some  might   say  Fonterra is  at  last  on  the  brink of  fulfilling  the  promise  its  founders held  for it 20-odd  years  ago.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell foresees  the  possibility  that if  current conditions  persist, the revised guidance  could be raised   again. . . 

Sheep farmers roll out woollen mate for the wellnes market – Country Life:

With crossbred wool prices remaining low, some sheep farmers are having a serious crack at adding value to the fibre they proudly grow.

Canterbury farmers Jane and Mark Schwass are making felted wool exercise mats from their crossbred wool clip.

“A daughter brought a woollen mat home that was made offshore and imported into New Zealand for quite a significant amount of money and we thought, ooh this is something we could be thinking about!”

Most people use the woollen mats for Yoga and Pilates, Jane tells Country Life. . . 

Whaitiri to promote dairy sector’s interests in India while O’Connor deals with the IPEF – but he aims to review dairy quota, too – Point of Order:

Two new announcements  have been posted on the Beehive website since our monitoring yesterday, one dealing with the dairy sector, the other with New Zealand’s trade relationships.

One announcement said Food Safety Minister Meka Whaitiri is headed for India to address the World Dairy Summit in New Delhi, the flagship event of the International Dairy Federation.

The other said Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor is in the USA where he has joined ministerial representatives from 13 other economies across the Indo-Pacific region to launch negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

A week earlier O’Connor had made another trade-related announcement with particular implications for the dairy industry, . . 

Central Australian cattle station saves big in maintenance after employing all-female crew – Hugo Rikard-Bell:

It’s about midday on Umbearra Station, and owners Angus and Kimberley McKay are sitting down for lunch with their crew, who are recapping the antics of the William Creek races held the weekend just gone.

Sixteen years ago, when Mrs McKay first arrived on the remote cattle property, 300 kilometres south of Alice Springs, the dining room set-up looked a little different. 

“I was the only female, and we’d have a whole table of males,” she said. 

Now, the tables have turned, and it is Mr McKay who is sitting at a full table of females, eating a lunch of freshly made quiche and salad. . . 


Rural round-up

07/09/2022

Lamb losses as spring storm brings snow – Neal Wallace:

Two days of snow, rain and bitterly cold temperatures on the east coast of both islands have caused lamb losses and added to already saturated soils.

Snow up to 50mm fell on Monday night in Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay, central North Island and Gisborne Wairoa.

Lambing has started in some lower areas of the North Island and farming leaders said there have been losses.

Snow was lying down to sea level in parts of the South Island on Monday night, and at higher altitude in the North Island where lambing has yet to begin. . . .

High country lessees have high carbon hopes – Richard Rennie:

Lessees of Crown land want clarity – and fairness – when it comes to the carbon work they put in.

High country leaseholders are crossing their fingers the government will see sense in adjusting legislation to better enable them to capitalise on carbon opportunities Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) bring.

Gerald Fitzgerald, legal counsel for the High Country Accord group, said Wellington has repeatedly overlooked high country Crown pastoral lessees when drawing up legislation, whether it be stock exclusion, biodiversity, and more lately new carbon rules.

“Again and again, we have been frustrated there is no recognition in policy design work of the particular tenure of Crown pastoral leases. This is at a technical legal level, and a lack of insight at a practical level on the different farm management systems on high country farms,” Fitzgerald said. . .

 

 

Cheesemaking waste product potential gamechanger for diabetes sufferers :

A New Zealand-based company researching alternative uses for a by-product from cheesemaking has its sights on developing it into a remedy for people with type 2 diabetes.

WheyTech Bionics NZ is partnering with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on a 2-year project that aims to develop technology to process whey permeate as a sweetener product with anti-diabetic properties.

Whey permeate is a by-product from the cheesemaking process. 

“An existing patent from Germany shows the high levels of glucose in whey can create a sugar with properties that are anti-diabetic,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes. . . 

War on weeds – could a wasp join the fight? – Emile Donovan :

We know New Zealand’s ecosystem is precious: our islands are home to flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.

This is special, but it also means we have to be careful. An introduced species from another part of the world can quickly become invasive, take a foothold and wreak havoc.

One way of controlling invasive species is to bring in yet another species to essentially prey on the thing you don’t like.

This is called biological control.  . . 

Agricultural Biotech’ Research Centre for sale goes under the microscope with property investors :

A former equestrian school, wedding and function venue – converted into a high tech’ agricultural biotechnology company’s research headquarters – has been placed on the market for sale.

The property and buildings housing the laboratories and research facilities for ground-breaking rural science company Ecolibrium Biologicals is located in Bombay just south of Auckland, and sits on some 18.55-hectares of land.

The substantial property was originally developed as a kiwifruit orchard in the early 1980s when its owners built a three-bedroom home, while simultaneously converting an old cow shed and building which were later developed into an equestrian riding centre & school.

The venue’s infrastructure was expanded in the early 1990s when a lodge was constructed as a riding school lodge, which later morphed into a wedding reception venue – known as Footbridge, with its own chapel on site, allowing wedding ceremonies to be held on-site. . . 

New Zealand butchery team take third place at world competition :

The Hellers Sharp Blacks have won third place at the World Butchers’ Challenge in Sacramento held over the weekend. The team, made up of six Kiwi butchers, travelled to the U.S.A. last week to compete against 12 other countries in a three-and-a-half-hour showdown at the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento.

Team captain of the Hellers Sharp Blacks, Riki Kerekere says that after two years of covid cancellations it was amazing for the team to finally be sharpening their knives and competing on the world stage.

“To come third is a massive achievement and I am really proud of how well the team performed on the day,” says Riki.

The competition was held on Saturday 3rd September, Californian time, and saw the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento transformed into the world’s largest butchery. Local and international visitors were treated to a spectacular three and a half hour cutting competition where each team had to turn a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts. Teams had to demonstrate their carving, boning and finishing skills underpinned by their own creative and cultural flair. . . 


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