Rural round-up

01/08/2013

Waikato land likely to be better used now:

Lands owned by two Waikato tribes will be better used thanks to an agreement by the iwi and Lincoln University.

Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Ngati Haua have signed a memorandum of understanding with the tertiary educator.

The document outlines an agreement to create an agricultural training centre in Waikato and to explore a new farm certificate course.

Tribal spokesperson Willie Te Aho, who affiliates to both iwi, says the programme is intended for everyone – not just tangata whenua. . .

Bee Aware Month – Love Our Kiwi Bees:

August is Bee Aware Month and the National Beekeepers Association is urging the government to take the threat to bees much more seriously.

Bees account for over 5 billion dollars of New Zealand’s economy through the pollination of crops and honey exports.

But bees are under threat. All wild bees have been wiped out by the varroa mite which is also threatening the rest of our bees.

“The varroa mite is one of the biggest threats facing our Kiwi bees. It has spread throughout the country and we desperately need to contain this dangerous pest,” says NBA CEO Daniel Paul. . .

Wilding pines cleared from shores of Lake Pukaki:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says the battle to preserve New Zealand’s natural heritage has taken a step forward, with 150 hectares of wilding trees cleared at the iconic Lake Pukaki.

Land Information New Zealand has completed an intensive 18 month eradication programme in an area between the western shoreline of the lake and State Highway 80.  It will enable the shoreline to return to its natural state.

“Wilding trees, including conifers such as lodgepole pine (pinus contorta), pose a significant threat to the environment by competing with native flora and fauna for sunlight and water.

“The Government is committed to minimising the impact of these trees by clearing them from Crown land and contributing to community programmes in areas such as Mid Dome, Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu,” Mr Williamson says. . .

Horticulture New Zealand elects new president:

Fruit and berry grower Julian Raine has been elected president of Horticulture New Zealand.

Julian is Nelson based and has 30 years’ experience in the industry. He takes over from Andrew Fenton who has been president since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

Julian has extensive experience both in growing and wide – ranging roles in industry organisations.

“Julian has been a director of the New Zealand Boysenberry Council and Nelson Seasonal Employers Inc, is chair of the New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust and a trustee of the Massey Lincoln Agricultural Industry Trust,” says immediate past president Andrew Fenton. . .

Southland and Otago Dairy Awards Regions Merge:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will take place in 11 regions, including a merged Southland/Otago region.

National convenor Chris Keeping says organisers made the decision to merge the Southland and Otago regions in late July as it is believed that the merged region will be stronger, creating a better competition for entrants.

“The executive committee has deliberated on the future of the regions for some time, and came to its decision on the basis that it is most important that entrants are guaranteed a competition and the opportunity to compete in the national finals,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. . . .

Taste Farmers’ Markets Award Winners celebrate the real flavours of NZ:

This growing popularity of Farmers’ Markets is something being seen worldwide and for a host of reasons. The awareness of what’s in our food and growing demand for regional, unadulterated produce, climate concerns and the investment into local communities and resources, sustainable agriculture and community hubs are just a few of the influences causing Farmers’ Markets to flourish in New Zealand.

Farmers’ Markets New Zealand (FMNZ) celebrated the real heroes and champions of regional food production at the 2013 Taste Farmers Markets Awards. Localvore Chef Judge Jonny Schwass said “The produce we tasted was fresh, crisp, alive and nourishing. The vegetables, preserves, meats and cheeses are the real produce of Aotearoa” As a Chef and now father, his cooking is about the beauty of well-chosen ingredients and simply prepared food. For Jonny food is the only thing that enlightens all senses. He believes food elevates our mood. It makes us better people. Food is more than energy, food is life. . .

And in celebration of our wine industry:

Looks good!


30% of HortNZ levies used to counter councils

31/07/2013

While Horticulture New Zealand, holds its national conference to celebrate industry growth on one side of Wellington, across town in the High Court it is battling against decisions which could stop the industry in its tracks.

 HortNZ uses 30% of the levy funding it raises from all commercial fruit and vegetable growers to represent grower interests in regional and district council planning across the country.

At the end of 2012 HortNZ was working on 43 different actions with councils. By the middle of this year that number had risen to around 50, at an estimated cost of $750,000 last year alone. 

What a waste of energy, money and time.

This is an indictment on the planning system and a strong argument for continuing reform of local government and the Resource Management Act.

Officials in the Ministry for the Environment are also predicting a significant increase in plan changes between 2016 and 2020, giving even more cause for concern.

The High Court case this week is to hear an appeal against the Environment Court’s decisions on the Horizons Regional Council’s ‘One Plan’.

“What has happened in Horizons is just the tip of an enormous iceberg of misunderstanding, misinformation and misguided old school thinking,” HortNZ president Andrew Fenton said in his speech to the conference this morning.

“The case is being run to try and prevent these mistakes repeating around the country through other councils, affecting growers and the commercial viability of their horticulture businesses.

“Setting a precedent through the courts has become an accepted method of managing rights and interests, and this is unacceptably dangerous for growers and business certainty.

“This means you can’t just say ‘hey, that’s not my region, it doesn’t matter’ because eventually, it will matter, for all of us.”

The One Plan, as it now stands, will impose excessively harsh restrictions on horticulture and have a negative economic impact on the region’s jobs, communities and the price of food production in New Zealand.

Producers and consumers all over the country should be grateful that HortNZ is fighting this battle.

The outcome of their case will have implications for all other councils that will determine how and where agriculture and horticulture businesses operate.


Rural round-up

30/07/2013

HNZ praises biosecurity improvements – Dan Satherley:

More than 400 fruit and vegetable growers will meet in Wellington today at the annual Horticulture New Zealand conference.

Government industry agreements, biosecurity and food safety in the industry will all be discussed over the next two days, and industry newcomers will battle it out for the title of Young Grower of the Year.

The industry is worth $5 billion to the economy and employs more than 150,000 people, so Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says it’s essential that recent improvements to biosecurity are maintained.

“We have a lot more activity with more frontline border security people; we have a lot more focus on electronic and technical surveillance; we have a lot more focus on the dog patrols, which we in fact will be having at the conference today to show growers what is being done,” he says.

“I have to commend MPI for their commitment to increase biosecurity, but we never, never need to relax on it.” . . .

Attitude is everything in sharemilking – Richard Jones:

It has never been easy to achieve farm ownership.

The sharemilking system was established to enable young Kiwis to build up equity to progress through to farm ownership. Sharemilkers gradually build cow numbers, either by raising calves or buying cows, becoming what is known as a herd-owning sharemilker (HOSM). They would then sell some for the deposit on a farm and stock it with the remaining cows.

However, with the rapid increase in farm sizes and the price of land escalating, taking the leap up the progression ladder from contract milker and variable order sharemilker to a HOSM is becoming increasingly difficult.

As a result, sharemilkers need to stay sharemilking longer to build equity, slowing their progression to farm ownership. This holdup also affects farm owners wanting to exit the industry, as fewer sharemilkers have enough equity to pay a decent price for a farm. The only option available for these farm owners may be the faceless multi-national corporate, not the experienced, hands-on sharemilker. . .

Exports grow better when working as a pair

Newly formed avocado exporter Avoco has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia. It now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts late next month.

Avoco director Alistair Young says the latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests an above-average yield.

Formed last month by New Zealand’s two largest avocado exporters, Avoco represents about 75 per cent of New Zealand growers and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales in the Australian market.

“We were forecasting retail and wholesale sales in Australia of about $40 million when we launched Avoco. . .

What is the Meat Industry Excellence Group? – David Burt:

The Federation is keenly aware that if structural change, of whatever form, is to be successful, behavioural issues must also be resolved.

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group was set up to address farmers’ frustration about the parlous state of the red meat sector, particularly the sheep industry.

Established in March, MIE has held a number of meetings seeking a mandate from farmers to work with the meat companies to develop an industry consolidation plan. The group’s executive is chaired by Richard Young.

The group is currently working towards areas such as developing potential new industry models, which would then be considered by stakeholders for possible adoption. . .

Agri-buisness network aims to help economy:

An East Coast farmer says the Gisborne economy is likely to profit from the establishment of a new local Maori agribusiness network.

Te Tairawhiti Maori Agribusiness group was set up recently as a result of a hui for Maori farmers from the East Cape to northern Hawke’s Bay.

The hui discussed the idea of working together and developing and branding products for several niche market opportunities.

Rongowhakaata farmer Stan Pardoe says the network will bring in more profit for the Gisborne region and help to market the area internationally. . .


Counting ETS costs

12/09/2008

Now that legislation which will impose an Emissions Trading Scheme on us has been passed the papers are starting to count the cost.

The ODT says the scheme will hit consumers and exporters:

It seems consumers will bear the cost of the emissions trading scheme while farmers and horticulturists fear their businesses and New Zealand’s key export industries could pay the ultimate cost and be forced out of business.

But Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton has moved to ease the sector’s concerns, saying through a spokeswoman, that if there was no greenhouse gas emission mitigating technology, the sector would get additional time to adjust.

Would you buy a used reassurance from this man?

A BP spokeswoman said yesterday’s international price of carbon credits was $44 a tonne, which would increase the price of petrol 12c a litre.

A Meridian Energy spokes-woman said the company believed the ETS was the best way to change consumer behaviour, and she said the company accepted Government predictions of its impact on energy prices.

Those were: retail electricity price to rise 1c to 2c per kWh, gas 0.9c to 1.7c per gJ and a 20kg bag coal of 90c to $1.50.

Fonterra said the higher production costs would filter through to higher consumer prices.

Meat and Wool New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen warned the $5 billion sheep and beef industry could disappear.

Other than reducing productivity or the number of animals carried, little mitigation technology was available.

Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton feared his members could also go out of business.

The $2.6 billion export earner would lose its competitiveness and consumers become reliant on food imports from Chile, South Africa and China which had higher greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

“As our growers slowly go out of business under the weight of ETS costs, New Zealand consumers are going to end up eating imported product grown in countries with much higher carbon output than ours is now.”

Lincoln University farm management lecturer Guy Trafford, has calculated the cost of ETS in 2013 for a 4000-stock unit sheep and beef farm at $36,088 a year and for a 350-cow dairy farm $40,804.

“The problem for agriculture is that it’s essentially a tax and there is still a huge anomaly, as we seem to be bringing it in for agriculture when most of the world is ignoring agriculture.”

What will be the impact on consumers?

It depends on the international price of carbon dioxide at the time the sector is included, but the general consensus is the cost of everyday items will rise.

BP says if the ETS applied to it yesterday, petrol would rise 12c a litre at the pump.

The Government says retail electricity will increase 1c-2c/kwh, gas 0.9c-1.7c/GJ, coal 90c to $1.50 a 20kg bag.

HortNew Zealand say it will cost the sector an extra $40 million a year and Lincoln University says in 2013 it will cost a sheep and beef farmer $36,000 and a dairy farmer $41,000 a year.

The Southland Times  says the ETS could cost 1000 jobs.

Southland’s economy would be hardest hit by controversial emissions trading legislation, an economic study has found.

 

Economic consultancy the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research found Southland would be hit hardest because of the importance of the dairy industry and the aluminium smelter to the local economy.

In contrast, Auckland and Wellington would be least affected because of the high concentration of service industries and public sector employment.

The Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference Bill passed into law by 63 votes to 57 on Wednesday.

The study, done before select committee hearings on the legislation, found agriculture, in particular, would suffer because costs of the scheme would fall heavily on export industries.

Metals manufacturing would also be hit hard, with capital falls of 6.5 percent and a 3.4 percent reduction in employment, it says.

The impact of the scheme on agriculture and related services and processing in Southland could result in employment reductions of about 1000 jobs, the report says.

And what will the impact on global emissions of carbon be? That too is up in the air but given New Zealand produces just .2% of the world’s emissions and most of that is from animals and the technology to reduce them is not yet available the answer is little if anything.

And, if carbon efficient businesses move from New Zealand to countries without an ETS and with lwoer environmental standards emissions may increase.


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