Rural round-up

January 7, 2019

The hypocrites at Fish and Game NZ – Alan Emmerson:

I received strong reaction to my blog on Fish and Game’s ‘survey’. Unsurprisingly I stick with everything I said.

I’d now add that the organisation is a rampant hypocrite. I did mention in my last blog that Fish and Game completely ignored the reports of 379 sewerage overflows into our pristine streams and rivers.

Was there any comment from the trade union – in a word no. . .

Pressure is on but dairy farmers’ fundamentals unchanged – Tim Mackle:

On the cusp of the new year, I’ve been thinking about the year gone and what’s head of us.

Having been involved in the dairy sector my whole life, it’s clear that it’s changed significantly since I was a kid. And in the past year, there have been a number of key challenges, whether it’s the talk about nitrogen – both from effluent or the manufactured variety – to help our grass or vegetables grow, our impacts and work to improve water quality or the growing conversation around climate change. And let’s not forget the emergence of new threats, like Mycoplasma bovis.

Here’s the thing about farming. The fundamentals are still the same – looking after cows, grass and people. . . 

Man disgusted at dumping of carcasses in South Canterbury river – Matthew Littlewood:

A South Canterbury man is disgusted to find rotting animal carcasses dumped near a popular swimming spot – and wants those responsible to own up.

Ely Peeti, of Waitohi, inland from Temuka, said he was taking his children to a swimming spot near Albury at Rocky Gully bridge on Friday when he found seven deer heads, a sheep skin and a gutted whole male pig, all lying in the water.

He told Stuff he was so shocked by his find that he posted a video online.

“I couldn’t believe the smell, it was just rotten. . . 

Resurgent collie club to hold SI champs – Sally Rae:

A few years back, the Omakau Collie Club was close to extinction.

It was only due to the tenacity of a couple of club members that it kept functioning and now, it has undergone a remarkable change in fortunes.

The club — now known as the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club — is preparing to host the South Island sheep dog trial championships in 2021.

It will bring an influx of about 500 dog triallists into the Alexandra area for five and a-half days. . .

Meat meals an iron-clad rule – Tom O’Connor:

 In spite of our resolve most of us eat more than we need to and drink more than is good for us during Christmas and New Year gatherings.

That is probably because there is much more to food and drink than merely refuelling the body. We like to combine good food and beverages with the companionship of friends and family in a tradition that goes back a very long way in our history and folklore. . . 

A review of 6,000 studies over two decades delivers its verdict on GMO corn – Chelsea Gohd:

There is a great deal of misinformation out there regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

From monikers like “Frankenfoods” to general skepticism, there has been a variety of biased reactions to these organisms, even though we as a species have been genetically modifying our foods in one way or another for approximately 10,000 years.

Perhaps some of this distrust will be put to rest with the emergence of a 2018 meta-analysis that shows GM corn increases crop yields and provides significant health benefits.

The analysis, which was not limited to studies conducted in the US and Canada, showed that GMO corn varieties have increased crop yields worldwide 5.6 to 24.5 percent when compared to non-GMO varieties. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 5, 2019

Fish and Game do it again – Alan Emmerson:

Here was I listening to the radio to be shocked by the news that 82% of Kiwis saying they were concerned or very concerned about pollution of rivers and lakes.

Then we had Fish and Game chief Martin Taylor telling us that the problem was fair and square farmers fault.

Unsurprisingly I have issues with that.

For a start why don’t you get ten people in a room and ask them their concerns. I’ll lay you dollars to donuts that pollution of our rivers and lakes isn’t the major concern of eight of them.

Let’s take that a bit further. As the vast majority of us live in cities our exposure to rivers and lakes isn’t great. Certainly not eight out of ten. I’d be surprised if it was over two. . .

A-grade farming in a sensitive environment – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury dairy farmer is in tune with his environment. Tony Benny reports.

He says farming in a part of Canterbury regarded by many as too challenging environmentally Tony Dodunski has achieved an A rating for his farm environment plan audit and is achieving his production goals as well.

Tony and wife Clare farm 190ha next to Lake Ellesmere, which is rated the most at-risk in New Zealand with agriculture having a significant impact so farmers in the area are in the environmental spotlight. . .

Telfordstaffremaininlimbo

Uncertainty remains for Telford staff as they approach a critical point in their future with the beleaguered agricultural institute.

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, which provides courses at Telford, in Balclutha, and other on-farm campuses, was placed in interim liquidation on December 19.

At the time, liquidator Grant Thornton said it understood wages and salaries were up to date and the organisation would continue running “as per normal” over Christmas.

However, the Otago Daily Times has learnt Telford staff expect to receive their final wages on Wednesday, leaving them facing an uncertain future. . .

Climate research leads the world:

A government research programme has positioned New Zealand as a world leader in research into mitigating greenhouse gases from agriculture and adapting to climate change, a recent independent review has found.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research programme supports the generation of new climate change knowledge across NZ’s agriculture and forestry sectors. . .

Home buyers warned of sex and smell – Jono Edwards:

A Dunedin pig farmer is warning potential home buyers of the sex and stink that come with rural living.

Recently Pieter Bloem, who lives on the Otago Peninsula, noticed the property across from his on Highcliff Rd was for sale.  

On Boxing Day he decided to place a sign on the road reminding interested parties what they were in for. . .


Rural round-up

July 6, 2018

Milking it for deer – Nigel Malthus:

If the world is ready for deer milk, New Zealand is ready to supply it.

The product, believed unique, was simultaneously launched at Fieldays and at a VIP function in Auckland aimed at high-end restaurants and the food service industry.

It won the Grassroots Innovation Award at Fieldays for Pāmu (the commercial name of Landcorp Farming) and its primary partners Sharon and Peter McIntyre, deer farmers at Gore. . . 

Is deer milk the next big thing?

“I can absolutely see this going global,” says consultant executive chef Geoff Scott, of the deer milk now being pioneered in NZ.

Scott, engaged by Pāmu to help launch its deer milk, says it’s rare for chefs to work with a new ingredient they have never seen before.

He says deer milk’s most noticeable feature is its “phenomenal” texture. And contrary to his expectations, the aroma was not as strong as goat or sheep milk.

“It’s got a lovely gentle slightly savoury nose and when you drink it you get this amazing sensation with the texture of the milk,” said Scott. . .

MPI scotches professor’s blog – Annette Scott:

Cross-species transmission is not a risk in the spread of Mycoplasma bovis, Ministry for Primary Industries response director Geoff Gwyn says.

Animals other than cattle are considered to be dead-end hosts and not important in the ongoing spread of the cattle disease.

“There is no scientific evidence that non-cattle species can act as a source of infection to cattle,” Gwyn said.

He expressed concern the matter continues to be raised given it has potential to unnecessarily heighten farmers’ anxiety. 

“Our firm view is the transfer of M bovis from non-cattle to cattle is not of material concern,” Gwyn said. . . 

Mackenzie Basin: Fonterra dairying criticism rejected – Kate Gudsell:

The Dunedin businessman behind a planned mega-dairy conversion in the Mackenzie Basin is shrugging off criticism from Fonterra about further intensification on the vulnerable landscape.

Murray Valentine has 9600 hectares of land at Simon’s Pass near Twizel and wants to irrigate 4500 hectares of that.

Originally, he was granted resource consent for 15,000 cows, but plans to put 2000 on it by next year, rising to a maximum of 5500 cows when consents are gained for extra cow sheds. . . 

Biodynamic forum held

Maori star lore, the winter solstice and water and earth energy were popular topics for the nearly 100 people who attended the 2018 New Zealand Biodynamic Association’s conference, in Clyde and Wanaka from June 22 to 24.

One of the organisers, Su Hoskin, who is in charge of the organic and biodynamic practices at Domaine-Thomson Wines vineyard near Cromwell, also sits on the association’s council.

”The conference was great,” Mrs Hoskin said.

”The theme was water and light.” . . 

Feds and MPs put on a good show – Alan Emmerson:

I’ve been dealing with Federated Farmers and going to their functions for longer than I care to remember.

I’ve witnessed a strong, focused organisation and one with a distinct lack of focus.

Currently, in my view, Feds are as strong as they’ve ever been. 

They are well led, their staff contains a good mix of youth and experience and the policy and communications teams are second to none.

I believe Federated Farmers is becoming increasingly important because of its advocacy role. That advocacy allows us to continue farming. Without it we would be in some difficulty.

Until this weeks’ conference I hadn’t realised just how busy they are. . . 


Rural round-up

March 6, 2017

Leading by example – Cheyenne Stein

Like many young girls, Megan Hands dreamt of being a vet. Today she’s a farm environmental auditor at Irrigo Centre helping farmers come to grips with environmental policies.

Megan grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Shannon and it was during the early days of the Horizons One Plan that she revised her career path.

“When I was younger there were some resource management battles going on in Opiki near our farm and my dad started to get involved with that and that’s when I started to take an interest in the resource management side of agriculture.”

How many cows are polluting urban harbours? – Alan Emmerson:

I was really interested to read articles in the Herald on Auckland’s polluted beaches. Well-researched and well-written they showed me a problem of massive proportions. We have our nation’s biggest city’s beaches polluted by sewage every time it rains.

It is not an insignificant problem either as the Herald’s coverage showed. One million cubic metres of wastewater and raw sewage, the equivalent of 400 Olympic swimming pools, pours into Auckland Harbour each year.

The waste comes from 41 points around the city almost every time it rains.

As a farmer, albeit semi-retired, I found the story fascinating. Every week we read in the paper that Greenpeace, the Greens, Fish and Game or Massey’s Mike Joy are slagging farmers over water quality.

When it comes to our biggest city, however, it seems that councils can pollute with impunity. . . .

Water quality everyone’s goal – Neal Wallace and Richard Rennie:

Manawatu dairy farmer James Stewart believes the goals the Government has set in its latest freshwater standards are aspirational and should engage entire communities, rather than leave the farming sector on its own to solve.

“The goal to make 90% of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers swimmable is a message for us all as New Zealanders to step up and do our bit to achieve that,” he said. . . 

Walking access cut as cattle spooked  – Chris Morris:

Dunedin city councillor Doug Hall is at the centre of a fresh land dispute, after locking the gates on public access to a walking track crossing his farm.

It was confirmed yesterday the council had closed the Cleghorn St track, above St Leonards, and the Campbell St track, near Bethunes Gully, following complaints from the landowner, Cr Hall, last month.

The Cleghorn St track had since been reopened on a ‘‘restricted’’ basis, and walkers had been cautioned to beware of stock, but it appeared the Campbell St track would remain closed for now. . . 

Sleepy Central Otago town of Omakau comes of age – Rhys Chamberlain:

Remember when you could stop at an intersection and not have to wait for traffic to pass? Remember when cheese rolls weren’t fancy? Remember when you could wear stubbies to the pub? 

Omakau still has this. It might be small and slow-moving but all of a sudden people are taking notice.

Seemingly people are looking for a place where the climate is good, their kids are safe, the people are welcoming and which doesn’t have the overinflated housing hype of other Central Otago towns. . . 

Otago student wins Oceania scholarship – Sally Brooker:

Former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil Tara Willans (18) has been awarded the 2017 Oceania Dairy scholarship.

She will receive an annual payment of $3000 for up to three years, plus the opportunity for paid work experience at Oceania’s milk factory near Glenavy during study breaks.

Tara is starting a bachelor of arts and science majoring in politics and environmental management, with a minor in accounting, at the University of Otago.

”We had more applications this year than any other year we have been doing this,” Oceania Dairy general manager Roger Usmar said.

Award finalists announced:

Six finalists have been named in this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The finalists are sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht (Stoneburn), Nelson and Fiona Hancox (West Otago), Graham and Pam Hunter (Tuapeka West), Simon, Sarah, Allan and Eris Paterson (Gimmerburn), Robin and Emma Wightman (Tuapeka West) and dairy farmers Ben and Tanya Davie (Clydevale).


Where are the protests?

January 31, 2017

Otago rivers are fine for swimming, except for the Kakanui where the cause of poor water quality, once again, is seagulls.

Water quality in Otago has been good so far this summer, Otago Regional Council (ORC) seasonal recreational water quality testing shows.

Three sites have had alert/amber warnings at certain times since the summer round of testing began at the beginning of December, but readings for those sites at other times and for all other sites have been considered safe for swimming. . .

This summer the Kakanui River at Clifton Falls Bridge is the only site to have its most recent reading in the amber/alert range, recording 510 parts of E. coli per 100ml of water on December 28.

ORC duty director Scott MacLean said there was a large colony of nesting gulls at the site, in rugged terrain, about 5km above the Clifton Falls bridge.

“Unfortunately, these nesting gull colonies are likely to continue to cause high E. coli concentrations in the upper Kakanui River, particularly during the breeding season.”

The gulls are natives and can’t be culled, but why can’t something be done, after the breeding season, to deter them from returning next year?

If farming, and particularly dairying, was responsible, the usual suspects masquerading as environmental warriors would be calling for action but they have been silent on this.

They have also been silent on the appalling state of Auckland waterways which are unsafe for swimming.

Kerre McIvor points out hygiene and sanitation are one of the basic requirements for a community to properly function and yet New Zealand’s biggest city is being let down badly on that count.

Whenever Auckland gets more than 5mm of rain, rainwater flows into the shared stormwater pipes and flushes raw sewage into streams or straight into the harbour.

These overflows happen at least 12 times a year.

Newsflash, Auckland gets a lot of rain – and the equivalent of four Olympic swimming pools of raw sewage pour into our waterways every single time.

It’s appalling. And the problem is not new. . .

No business, farming or otherwise, would be able to continue to pollute in this way, why are councils and why aren’t the usual suspects protesting?

Alan Emerson asks that question too:

We are continually told in the most emotive terms about the health problems with dairy and irrigation but I’d venture to suggest those issues would be absolutely minimal when compared with raw sewerage.

I ask again; where are the protesters?

The ongoing problem of raw sewerage continuing unabated for the next 18 years is infinitely worse than anything our farming industry can do.

I went to the Greenpeace website believing I must have missed something but no. There was a headline telling me to stop seismic blasting. Maybe that causes sewerage to go into harbours and on beaches.

There was also a rant about a bank presumably funding forest destruction. I can see the logic there, destroy the forest, build houses and pollute beaches.

Greenpeace also wants the Huntly coal power plant shut down. Maybe it was polluting the Waikato River.

What irritated me most though was a mealy-mouthed release about the shocking vandalising of a North Otago farmer’s irrigation equipment.

Paradoxically, Greenpeace claimed to be a peaceful protester but could understand the vandalism as being “a sign of overwhelming public frustration about polluted rivers”.

Show me the science. . .

We are told ad nauseum about farming’s supposed threat to our clean, green image. There’s an appalling lack of science behind the accusations but the anti-farming rants are extreme.

Correspondingly, we have the country’s largest city with far more people than all the provinces combined pumping raw sewerage into the supposed pristine beaches of Auckland.

Where are the environmental protesters?

The Green Party, always willing to castigate farming and generally show indecent haste in the process, hasn’t said anything about the crap-covered beaches of Auckland.

On its website it accused National of plundering our fisheries, claimed the recent extreme weather was a sign of things to come and pontificated, naively in my view, that a fresh start was needed for European Union trade agreements.

There was nothing I could find about the scandalous pollution of our pristine Auckland beaches and the compromising of our clean, green image.

Again if they can slag off farmers for whatever reason they will do it with alacrity no matter what the facts may be.

When it comes to our largest city they seem cowed by the number of voters there. . . 

Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO, draws a similar conclusion:

A recent meeting between Irrigation New Zealand and Greenpeace failed to resolve differences because the environmental group needs a polarising issue to preserve its Auckland funding base, Irrigation chief executive Andrew Curtis says.

Greenpeace gave scant acknowledgement of the role of irrigation or that farmers were reducing their environmental footprint.

The group’s true agenda was laid bare soon after the meeting in a press release that was understanding of Auckland dumping millions of cubic metres of raw sewage into the harbour each year while again admonishing the dairy industry.

Curtis said it showed Greenpeace was a fundraising body determined to protect its Auckland funding base.

“That point was highlighted by the press release this week about Auckland sewage flowing into the harbour which said it was a concern but not majorly because the Auckland Council recognised it is an issue.

“Contrast that with its view of dairy farming and the irrigation industry, which is that there is no acknowledgement they have an issue and are doing nothing to improve the water quality. . .

Clean water is a fundamental necessity for human health.

It is an issue for both rural and urban New Zealand.

Farmers have collectively spent many millions of dollars cleaning up their acts to safeguard waterways.

Regional councils take their responsibilities to monitor farms very seriously. They have the right to prosecute farmers and have done so not only for polluting waterways but for pollution which could reach a waterway even if it hasn’t.

Yet city councils are given not just years but decades to bring their sewer and waste water systems up to 21st century standards.

If farmers were causing even a fraction of the problems that Auckland faces, protesters would be strident.

Their silence on the city pollution and slower than snails’-pace action on improving it is deafening.

 

 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2016

Training isn’t meeting needs – Neal Wallace:

It requires a liberal dose of lateral thinking to grasp the paradox that is primary sector training.

Recently the Tertiary Education Commission said it wanted to invest more money into primary sector training because there were plenty of jobs.

The primary sector continues to struggle to find staff and this week the Government announced an extension to the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme allowing another 1000 foreigners to work on the coming harvest.

But, incongruously, primary sector training is in upheaval with several high-profile providers responsible for training about 1000 young people, exiting the industry, others looking for a new provider and, in the case of Lincoln University, making 51 staff redundant to balance its books. . . 

Show deal boosts export potential – Colin Ley:

The southern hemisphere’s biggest agribusiness exhibition, the National Fieldays, and Europe’s largest agricultural show, have signed a collaboration deal.

They have signed memorandum of understanding as part of an initiative to boost farm business and trading links between New Zealand and the European Union.

The move would deliver major benefits to NZ’s 130,000-visitor event, held near Hamilton each June, and Eurotier’s 160,000-visitor show held in Hannover, Germany, every second year, Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation said. . .

Govt working with wine industry to secure 2017 Marlborough vintage:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are working with the Marlborough wine industry to respond to the challenges of the November 14 earthquake and assist with the 2017 vintage.

“The Marlborough wine industry faces some challenges,” Mr Joyce says. “The key impact has been damage to around 20 per cent of the wine storage tanks in the region, and the potential that a lack of storage will affect the ability of the industry to process the full 2017 harvest, which commences in around 15 weeks.” . . 

Animal blamers got it all wrong – Alan Emmerson:

I wrote back in September that we needed to stop playing the blame game over the Havelock North water crisis. We needed to find out and quickly how to fix the problem.

Last week that game reached new heights of absurdity with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council issuing proceedings against the Hastings District Council.

What they’re actually doing is suing their own ratepayers, which won’t achieve anything except lining the pockets of lawyers.

The interesting point is that it’s not farmers who are now in the gun but the Hastings council over bore maintenance and siting. . . 

Westland lifts its payout prediction:

Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative, has lifted its total operating surplus ( payout) predictionfor the 2016-17 season to range of $5.50 to $5.90 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS).

This is estimated to produce a net return to shareholders (after retained earnings) of $5.30 to $5.70 per kgMS. The co-operative’s previous estimate for the season was a net range (after retained earnings) of $4.55 to $4.95 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Toni Brendish said the lift in payout prediction has been made possible by two factors. . . 

Synlait Increases Forecast Milk Price to $6.00kgMS:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) has increased their forecast milk price from $5.00 kgMS to $6.00 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season.

Synlait planned to provide an updated forecast at the start of February 2017, however Mr Milne said an update now is more appropriate and beneficial for Synlait’s 200 Canterbury milk suppliers.

“We’ve kept a close eye on the global dairy market and the trending increase in dairy prices can’t be ignored. As a result, we’ve increased our forecast milk price to $6.00 kgMS,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman.

Mr Milne said reduced European production over the past three months shows European dairy farmers are responding to lower milk prices. . . 

Dairy volatility has not gone away – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s recent upgraded estimate of $6 per kg milksolids (fat plus protein) for the 2016/7 milk price has been welcomed by everyone in the industry. Given that it is only six months since Fonterra’s initial for this season of $4.25, the current estimate should also remind us of the impossibility of predicting milk prices with any accuracy.

This level of inaccuracy is typical of the last three years, where Fonterra’s initial estimates compared to the final price were out by $1.40 in 2014, $2.60 in 2015 and $1.35 in 2016.

Currently, we are about half way through the milk season in terms of production, and most companies will have sold about half of their total seasonal production. With some forward selling, they may even be ahead of this.  It is about this stage of the season that I bring in my price-range estimate to about $1.80 (i.e. plus or minus 90c around a mid-point).   . . 

Plan to diversify Southland economy:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced government support for a new regional growth plan to bolster the Southland economy.

The Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan was developed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy Governance Group and is supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, which aims to increase jobs, incomes and investment in regional New Zealand.

“Southland has a relatively small economy which relies on a limited number of industries. While the regional population is growing, for the past ten years population growth has been significantly slower than in the rest of the country,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Predator Free 2050 Ltd board appointed:

The company which will be a key player in achieving New Zealand’s Predator Free 2050 ambition is now up and running, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

“Today marks the official establishment of Predator Free 2050 Ltd and the appointment of a skilled board of nine directors,” Ms Barry says.

“This company, and its leadership, will be absolutely integral to the success of the Predator Free 2050 programme. Their role will be to direct investment into regionally significant predator eradication projects and the breakthrough science solutions we need to achieve predator free status.”

Formation of the company was signalled in July, when the Government committed to the ambitious goal of eradicating rats, stoats and possums from New Zealand by 2050. . . 

HortNZ celebrates 100 years of representing growers:

 

Today, Horticulture New Zealand celebrates 100 years of representing growers, with its foundations in the New Zealand Fruitgrowers Federation formed in 1916.

“Our focus is on uniting fruit and vegetable growers to give a strong and unified voice on matters related to our part of food supply in New Zealand and our export markets,” Horticulture New Zealand President Julian Raine says.

“Looking back at the history of the organisation, there is very much a recurring theme of creating an environment where growers can innovate and grow and in doing so, contribute to the economy with jobs and exports.” . . .

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Rural round-up

March 22, 2014

Chinese trade target sky-high – Hugh Stringleman:

Prime Minister John Key and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to aim for $30 billion of bi-lateral trade between New Zealand and China by 2020.

That would be an increase of 65% over the total of two-way trade last year, when NZ sold China almost $10b of exports, mostly from the primary sector, and imported $8.2b.

In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing they also agreed to modernise the free-trade agreement between the two countries.

“We have great confidence that the coming years will see trade between us increase at a very fast pace,” Key said. . .

No time to penny-pinch on TB – James Houghton:

Looking at the week that was, we have seen Fish & Game come out with a survey full of leading questions, three of our top agricultural science centers lose Government funding, and the Ministry for Primary Industries taking Fonterra to court. One might take that as a bad week, but this is a standard one for agriculture.

What is important to note is that we deal with a lot of negativity on a day-to-day basis and part of that is because we hold ourselves to a very high standard. However, looking at an average week you can get drowned in the negativity and lose sight of the bigger picture. All these things that are happening around us can seem like a blur of madness, some are but some things are for the big picture, for our children, and theirs.

Locally, we are dealing with the Waikato regional draft Annual Plan, which the council are looking to withdraw their direct funding from the national strategy of pest eradication. The National Pest Strategy, funded by the Animal Health Board, has been focusing on high-risk areas, such as Waikato, to rid the country of TB. The work is achieved by eradicating possums, with TB, from the province, and is spear headed by TB Free New Zealand and OSPRI. . .

The nitty gritty of the nitrate debate –   Lynda Murchison:

We are a part of the water quality discussion in some shape or form, and we get our information from many sources.  A major focus has been on nitrogen losses from farming. If nitrogen is one of the key ingredients in this national conversation, it ought to be explained beyond the notion that it is all about cows in streams.  The science can be complex and the explanations mind-boggling; here’s my simple geographer-farmer take on it.

Why should we care how nitrogen loss is managed? Farmers care because their future flexibility and thus viability is at stake, and like most New Zealanders they want a sustainable future that allows for agricultural growth whilst enjoying healthy waterways. The rest of the population should care because the flexibility and productivity of farming, our ability to feed the world, is what makes New Zealand tick.

Recently, the Ministry for Primary Industries revised their projections for earnings in the primary sector for the 2013-14 year, up another $4.9 billion to $36.5 billion. From that, the direct economic contribution farmers make to the Christchurch economy is estimated at $750 million per year, an impressive feat. One can only assume that contribution is even more significant in smaller provincial cities and towns. . .

Let’s Broadcast Rural New Zealand – Jamie Mackay:

It was the only option available but watching the excellent on-line live stream of the Golden Shears Open final was yet another salutary reminder of how  mainstream media in this country, most notably television, pays lip service to farming and rural New Zealand in general.

Country Calendar is an institution on New Zealand television, only bettered by Coronation Street for longevity. Heck, its most loved voice Frank Torley would probably give Ken Barlow a run for his money for length of tenure on the telly.  

I don’t wish to sound dismissive about the iconic Country Calendar because it is a rural flagship and rates well in its 7pm Saturday spot.  However, I would argue it’s a show designed more for townies than rural folk, as can be attested by the prevalence of quirky lifestyle stories it features.

But what Country Calendar does prove is there’s an appetite out there for television featuring rural New Zealand.  However, this message is not getting through the solid craniums (euphemism for thick skulls) of television programmers. . .

Homewood Run – Lashings of meat right way to eat -Alan Emmerson:

Those who have read my columns will know my philosophy of not getting to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

I can remember, as a relatively young journalist, of the panic over saturated fat, the health risks associated with eating meat and dairy products.

Back then the doomsayers were trying to convert the world to mung beans and the like, for the good of their health of course.

Fortunately few listened and we continued eating meat, butter, and cheese.

Now, according to an article in the New York Times, the myths have been dispelled. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)  – Greg Peterson:

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. . .


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