Rural round-up

24/03/2020

Farmers want essential services clarity :

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is urgently seeking clarity from the Government about what primary sector activities will qualify as essential after the Government effectively put the country into lockdown for four weeks to stop the spread of covid-19.

Milne said she has made it clear in conversations with the Government the definition of essential business has to be as wide-ranging as possible so farmers can keep functioning.

“They are part of the food chain and we need them. 

“The people who do service farming, they have an as equally critical role as us who are growing the food.  . . 

Otago farmers nervous about labour from border restrictions :

Uncertainty over travel for the international workforce is compounding what has been a difficult season for orchardists in Central Otago.

Border restrictions and reduced airline capacity in response to Covid-19 are creating anxiety in the industry.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of 45 South – New Zealand’s largest cherry exporter – Tim Jones said traditionally two-thirds of his workforce came from overseas, half on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visas and half backpackers.

“As a grower, I sit here nervous about labour and we know we use as many Kiwis as we can but to supplement that we employ RSE labour and we employ a lot of backpackers and our obvious concerns are they may not be around in the sort of numbers we’ve had recently. . . 

A DIRA decision – Elbow Deep:

As the world is faced with torrents of horrific news as the pandemic sweeps the globe, it feels like there is little to be positive about. But over recent weeks there have been two small gems for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The first piece of good news was Fonterra’s half year financial results, which are a remarkable turnaround from the Co-op’s first ever loss posted last year. The loss wasn’t insignificant or so small it could be dismissed as a rounding error, the Co-op lost over half a billion dollars which only makes the recent turnaround even more impressive.

At a time of mass uncertainty when many people don’t know if they’ll still have a job in a few months, it is somewhat relieving that these results will see Fonterra inject more than $11 billion into the New Zealand economy through milk payments to their farmers. Those farmers will in turn spend over half of that in their local communities, communities which need money now more than ever before. It’s not just Fonterra farmers who will benefit from the Co-op’s strong performance; independent processors around the country will be benchmarking themselves off the Co-op’s strong performance. . .

Rural sector crying out to recruit more staff – Jacob McSweeny:

While thousands of people around the country are facing joblessness a recruiting company is calling out for workers in the primary sector, saying there were 40 jobs in South Canterbury available now.

Agstaff, Canstaff and New Zealand Dairy Careers managing director Matt Jones said the need for workers had increased as a result of implications from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The work does not stop — it’s ramped up as some of our clients in the primary production sector increase production to meet New Zealand’s needs.

“The cows still need milked and the crops must be picked,” Mr Jones said.

He said he had a client in South Canterbury who needed 40 people to start immediately. . . 

Post-quake study reveals hort potential – Nigel Malthus:

Large areas of North Canterbury and South Marlborough – affected by the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquakes – offer wide potential for horticulture.

A Plant and Food Research investigation has found that several crops – in particular, apples, grapes, hazelnuts and walnuts – could be grown in pockets throughout the region.

It identified 41,515 ha of land – or about 9% of the total 466,000ha – that would potentially be suitable. . . 

Vets offer Covid-19 advice:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has some advice for animal owners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association representing New Zealand veterinarians says COVID-19 should not reduce the care owners give to their animals’ health and welfare.

“We appreciate there are many issues that people are dealing with in relation to COVID-19, particularly those self-isolating or with family members taking this precautionary measure,” says New Zealand Veterinary Association chief veterinary officer, Dr Helen Beattie.  . . 

Why cradle-to-cradle needs to be included in fashion’s sustainability rating tools :

A review of a leading environmental impact tool for apparel finds that unless improvements are made, weaknesses in the underlying science could lead to misleading results, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the environment.

What do textile lifecycle assessment tools do?

Textile lifecycle assessment (LCA) tools aim to understand, quantify and communicate the environmental credentials of textiles with the intent of minimising environmental impact.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Material Sustainability Index (MSI) is increasingly being adopted by industry but this LCA method currently fails to account for the complexity of the textile industry.

“Several significant environmental impacts and processes are excluded from the MSI and PM, including recyclability, biodegradability, renewability of resource used, microfibres, abiotic resource depletion (minerals) and abiotic bioaccumulation,” said Dr Steve Wiedemann of Integrity AG & Environment.  . . 


Rural round-up

06/01/2020

Kiwi farmers calling on Anzac spirit to support bushfire-hit Australian counterparts – Michael Daly:

Kiwi farmers are being asked to show their Anzac spirit with a plan to offer relief to counterparts across the Tasman affected by bushfires.

Mates Nathan Addis and Mark Warren on Thursday night launched the Facebook page: NZ Farmers Offer Free Accommodation To Aussie Farmers From Bush Fire Zones. The name sums up their aim.

The plan was to sound out support for the idea among Kiwi farmers first before promoting it in Australia, Addis said. And support was coming in quickly. . . 

Year in Review: How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

 This opinion piece by King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke was one of The Country’s most popular reads of 2019. She wrote that she believed her community was under threat if the government’s Essential Freshwater policy passed into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . . 

Identifying ‘whodunit’ is a freshwater priority – Elizabeth McGruddy:

E coli monitoring tells us that bugs are in the water, but not where they came from. For that we need “faecal source tracking” tools to find out “whodunit”, writes Federated Farmers Senior Policy Adviser Elizabeth McGruddy.

The swimming season is upon us. Are our favourite swimming spots good to go? And if not, why not?

We know that most rivers are safe to swim, but some are not. Currently around 70 per cent of swimmable rivers (rivers with enough water to get wet in) are safe for primary contact. The national target is 80 per cent by 2030, and 90 per cent by 2040.

The Government’s latest freshwater proposals recommend that priority be given to the popular swimming rivers, during the swimming season. . . 

Rain-damage and cold weather hits Central Otago cherry stocks -Jo McKenzie-McLean:

Central Otago’s cherry season is off to a bad start with rain damaging crops, cold temperatures slowing ripening and bad picking conditions driving workers away.

Tim Jones, who is Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of Cromwell-based orchard 45 South, said the “tough” start to the season was one of the most challenging he had seen in his 25 years in the industry.

At 45 South, about 250 tonnes would typically be picked around the New Year period. This year, they picked 100 tonnes. . . 

Forgotten victims of the drought – Lindsay Cane:

OFFICIAL reports released in December show the impact of the drought on our economy and agricultural sector will linger for up to a decade.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) latest forecast show farm production is expected to fall significantly with rebuilding expected to take a decade. And that depends on rain.

The bushfires and drought have taken a toll on many people financially and emotionally.

But one of the most worrying and often unacknowledged aspects of this drought is the long lasting impact on our children. This too will take time to address. And that will depend on urgent action being taken. . . 

Rejoice the earth is becoming greener – Matt Ridley:

Amid all the talk of an imminent planetary catastrophe caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, another fact is often ignored: global greening is happening faster than climate change. The amount of vegetation growing on the earth has been increasing every year for at least 30 years. The evidence comes from the growth rate of plants and from satellite data.

In 2016 a paper was published by 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries that analysed satellite data and concluded that there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation over 30 years. The study attributed 70% of this increase to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lead author on the study, Zaichun Zhu of Beijing University, says this is equivalent to adding a new continent of green vegetation twice the size of the mainland United States.

Global greening has affected all ecosystems – from arctic tundra to coral reefs to plankton to tropical rain forests – but shows up most strongly in arid places like the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification has largely now reversed. This is because plants lose less water in the process of absorbing carbon dioxide if the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher. Ecosystems and farms will be less water-stressed at the end of this century than they are today during periods of low rainfall. . . 


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