Rural round-up

29/07/2021

‘Groundswell’ expose rural/urban divide in media – Colin Peacock:

At the biggest national protest for years last week, farmers made it clear they are unhappy with the government and they feel unloved by the country – and the media. 

In one sense, the Groundswell protests in 55 towns and cities on 16 July last were poorly timed for farmers. 

It was not a great time to be away with heavy rain on the way that caused flooding in many places the next day. 

But in media terms, the timing was great.  . . 

Farmers’ Howl of a protest should have been front page news in all NZ newspapers – Shane Reti:

Why was one of the biggest protests of recent times relegated to the back pages of print media?

My expectation for print media on the first publishing day after the march (on Saturday, July 17) was that a protest of that breadth and size would have front-page coverage in the major metropolitan and regional newspapers.

I was surprised, then, when one of the biggest weekend papers relegated substantive reporting (assessed as page coverage) to page 5 behind a $20,000 fraud story on page 1, whiteware sales on pages 2 and 3 and free meals for schoolchildren on page 4.

Was a protest about land and fresh water and taxes really less important than whiteware sales? . .

Frustrated farmers ‘giving up’ on costly native bush restoration– Amber Allott:

On the other side of Banks Peninsula from bustling Christchurch, a sprawling, 1250-hectare forest runs almost from hill to sea.

Botanist Hugh Wilson has been restoring Hinewai Reserve from farmland to native bush since 1987 and it stands as a testament to what “letting nature get on with it” can achieve.

Hinewai sucks about 8 tonnes of carbon a hectare from the atmosphere each year and earns about $100,000 a year under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

But the reserve registered for carbon credits before the ETS existed and now similar gorse-covered blocks slated for natural regeneration are having trouble qualifying for much-needed cash. . . 

Standing up for wintering practices – Blair Drysdale:

Recent photos of wintering practices in Southland has Blair Drysdale responding to the trial by media.

In general it’s the same group of people wanting dairy cows inside, who also campaign for pigs and hens to be outside.

Winter certainly has its challenges but it’s a very reliable season as it’s just damned cold every day and that suits me just fine. As farmers though, and especially those with breeding livestock, we like all the inclement weather with its southerly snowstorms to arrive now and not in spring.

The challenges are very real given we’re having a wetter than average winter which on the back of a dry autumn meant winter crops are below average, putting pressure on livestock and farmer.

Throw in some sneaky covert photography of stock on winter crops that get plastered over social and mainstream media by a few environmental activists and it is a pressure cooker situation for some farmers. The reality is that if they were genuinely concerned about animal welfare MPI would be their first port of call. . . 

Shedding sheep – wool you or won’t you? – Lee Matheson:

Are shedding sheep the answer to the wool industry’s woes? Lee Matheson, managing director at agricultural consulting firm Perrin Ag, investigates.

A perfect storm has been brewing.

Low wool prices, increasing shearing costs, dilapidated wool harvesting infrastructure (historically known as woolsheds), a tightening labour pool and an apparent lack of consumer recognition of wool’s inherent values and performance as a fibre, are all contributing to increasing moves towards shedding sheep.

It is a potentially divisive and emotive topic when raised with sheep farmers. . . 

Milking opportunities for dairy markets  :

Technical barriers remain a key challenge for Australian exporters seeking to expand market access across the region.

Dairy Australia have been awarded a $310,000 grant from the Australian Government to reduce technical barriers to trade across six markets in South East Asia.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the grant would enable dairy exporters to build on our trade agreements.

“What this grant will do is identify and reduce the impact of technical barriers to trade,” Minister Littleproud said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/06/2021

‘More insulting than nothing’ – Govt cash not enough to fix single flood-struck station – Amber Allot:

Farmers in the Canterbury high country are dismissing as “woefully inadequate” a $500,000 fund from the government to restore their stations after they were hammered by rain.

Canterbury was battered by torrential rain on Saturday afternoon, with no reprieve until Monday evening. For some areas, up to half the usual annual rainfall fell in two days.

It has devastated much of the region, leaving huge swathes of land under water, animals dead and properties flooded, forcing many evacuations.

Rail and road infrastructure is also badly damaged, with repairs likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, while the region’s farmers face a huge clean-up bill. . . 

Rabbits not on Government’s radar – Jacqui Dean:

 Last year, $315 million dollars was directed to pest and weed control as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion Jobs for Nature programme. The fact that none of this money has gone towards targeting rabbits leaves me bewildered.

The recent images coming in from Australia of mice in their millions threatening homes and farms across New South Wales has been shocking to many New Zealanders.

But for people across large parts of the South Island, a plague of pests is their reality too, with rabbits running rampant across parts of North Otago, Central Otago and further afield.

Rabbits are an ecological disaster. . . 

Feds survey: Branch closures add to farmers’ bank concerns:

Concern about branch closures can be added to the continued slide in farmers’ satisfaction with their banks, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

More than 1,100 farmers responded to the May survey and 71% of them said they were concerned about bank branch closures. Of those who were concerned, 42% said they needed branches to carry out their business and 56% were worried about the impact of closures on their local communities.

“Provincial towns are under all sorts of pressures, with workforce gaps, farms jobs disappearing as productive land is planted out in pines for carbon credits, competition from on-line sales trends that all traditional retailers face, to name some of the factors,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“Bank branch closures are just another hit on confidence, making doing business in rural areas that much harder, and another reason for young people to look to cities for their future when agriculture is the main way New Zealand earns its living in the world.” . . 

Farmers flock to see Wiltshire wool-less sheep benefits – Maja Burry:

It is hoped a multi-year study on a research farm near Masterton will give farmers a better understanding of the benefits and costs of shifting to a wool-less flock.

Massey University animal science professor Steve Morris said with the increased costs of shearing and ongoing poor returns for strong wool, many farmers were considering a transition to Wiltshire sheep, which naturally shed their fleece.

Morris said farmers were getting about $2-$2.50 a kilogram for crossbred wool and modelling showed prices needed to double for farmers to break even and cover the costs of shearing.

“We’re a long way off that and shearing costs are going up.” . . 

Plant & Food Research mentoring initiative wins HRNZ Award:

Our in-house mentoring initiative won the award for Learning and Development Capability at The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) national awards.

The initiative provides a formal system to create more value and impact from mentoring relationships among staff. Since a successful pilot of the programme in 2018, 70 mentoring relationships have been established

During the programme participants explore their career aspirations with their mentor and create a development plan. Included is a 2-day opening workshop, mentoring sessions throughout the year and a closing workshop. . . 

Biocontrol gene tech set to shred mice population – Samantha Townsend:

A technique that exploits the natural mating process in mice, which has previously been proven in insects is being explored to help reduce populations.

The technology aims to pass on an increased proportion of males genes to reduce the number of females to keep populations at manageable levels.

“The new technology we are trying to develop in mice is the same that we’ve had some success in this area for insects for malaria control,” lead researcher Professor Paul Thomas from the University of Adelaide said.

“The idea is that we using the natural mating process of mice to spread genetic traits through the population.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/01/2021

Biosecurity rules add up to $1200 a year to everyone’s shopping bill: Economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Kiwis pay twice as much for fresh chicken as consumers in the United Kingdom or United States would, and around three times as much as someone in Brazil – and it is probably due in part to this country’s biosecurity rules, one economist and supermarket expert says.

New Zealand’s strict biosecurity laws, which are particularly tough for poultry, add an estimated $600 to $1200 a year to the grocery bill of every person, Coriolis director Tim Morris said.

The UK was a good comparison for food prices, given its value added tax (VAT) of 20 per cent on food products, which is similar to GST.

A quick scan of UK supermarket websites show a large (1.9 kilogram) whole fresh chicken costs £3.90 (NZ$7.40) at Sainsbury’s and £3.75 at Aldi. US supermarket H.E.B sells the same for US$5.28 (NZ$7.50). . . 

Freshwater reforms and farmers: two sides of the same coin – Amber Allott:

Canterbury dairy farmer Chris Ford estimates he will have to get rid of around a hundred cows from his 980-strong herd.

But even worse, he fears he will have to make one of his farmworkers unemployed, driving them and their family out of their home.

All to meet the Government’s new freshwater reforms.

The national policy statement for freshwater management – designed to improve freshwater quality by controlling certain farm practices – came into force in September. . .

Lake goers told to keep it clean: ‘One poo can close the lake’ – Riley Kennedy:

Visitors to the Waitaki district are being told they risk losing access to the local lakes if they continue polluting the water.

The regional council Environment Canterbury, along side the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee, launched a campaign saying ‘one poo can close the lake’.

Committee chair Simon Cameron said it will be even more important that everyone does their bit to protect water quality this summer, as Covid-19 international travel restrictions are set to boost lake-side camping and tourism.

“We’ve heard that campgrounds are already fully-booked, so we know there will be a large number of people visiting and being active in and around our lakes. . .

NZ Veterans get a taste of farming at Taratahi :

Partnering with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Universal College of Learning (UCOL) staff at Taratahi hosted New Zealand veterans on a week-long taster workshop.

Each day offered the veterans insights into what could be their next career option.

Simon Bailey, UCOL team leader – primary industires, says the group included veterans from the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

The veteran group started off at the training centre, where their first few days were filled with a range of farming activities – from milking cattle to fixing fences.

 

New trial’s charms come with caveat – Mark Price:

It has been years in the planning and millions of dollars in the making, but the cycle trail through the Cromwell Gorge is finally nearing completion.

Otago Daily Times chief photographer. Stephen Jaquiery and Wanaka reporter Mark Price took a look recently at what is shaping up to be New Zealand’s most spectacular cycle trail accessible to all.

Cyclists using the new Cromwell Gorge cycle trail will have to be careful not to get the wobbles.

They will be tempted to look up at the spectacular rock faces towering over the track – and risk a dip in Lake Dunstan. . .

United Nations using Aussie soil science to change the world – Jamieson Murphy:

The United Nations has cited the work of Australian scientists in an extensive report about the importance of healthy soils for agriculture and human civilization as a whole.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation compiled the findings of more than 300 researchers into a report, titled the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity.

It found soil organisms play a crucial role in boosting food production, enhancing nutritious diets, preserving human health, remediating pollution and combating climate change. . .


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