Rural round-up

April 27, 2020

Farmers claim water law lockout – Neal Wallace:

Federated Farmers says it remains shut out of deliberations on the specifics of the Government’s freshwater legislation after unproved claims it leaked confidential information about the policy last year.

Its water spokesman Chris Allen says the accusation was never proved but resulted in the cessation of what he called a constructive working relationship between the farming body and parties considering the new regulations.

“It really did challenge the integrity of Federated Farmers and we were miffed about that. It did not come from feds,” he says. . . .

Environment moves must be fair – Andrew Morrison:

The past few weeks have served to remind New Zealanders about the importance of the country’s primary sector.

Food has become big news. 

Every day the media brings us stories of supermarket queues, panic buying and supermarket workers going the extra mile to try to keep shelves stocked against a rising tide of worried consumers.

As farmers we are fortunate to be able to continue producing nutrient-rich food for our nation and our export markets.  . .

Rural postie lifts spirits with ‘The Best Dressed Mailbox Competition :

Covid-19 may have everyone in lockdown but that hasn’t stopped one inventive rural postie from keeping people on her route entertained.

Diane Barton wanted to add “a bit of amusement” to her mail run, so she set up a private Facebook group for her RD1 and RD4 route to get the community involved.

First there was a bear hunt, which quickly descended into chaotic fun, with not only bears turning up in letterboxes and windows, but cows and zoo animals as well.

“I had a trusty heading dog that I borrowed from a client’s mailbox and the dog rounded them up and put them back in their paddocks and cages,” joked Barton, who was quick to point out that “no stuffed animals were harmed in the making of this animal hunt“. . .

 

Not your typical sheep paddock: why sunflowers and lentils herald NZ’s regenerative revolution – John McCrone:

Before coronavirus, people were worried about other things. Like the state of New Zealand farming, and climate change. So why were policy makers suddenly getting interested in regenerative agriculture? John McCrone reports.

Wait, are those sunflowers poking their yellow faces above the waist high tangle? Did he just say he loves thistles too? All biodiversity is good?

No wonder Peter Barrett – former campervan entrepreneur and now manager of Central Otago’s 9300 hectare Linnburn Station – has had neighbouring farmers looking askance. . . 

Dairy Women’s Network conference on next month :

As events and conferences throughout New Zealand and around the world cancel and postpone due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Dairy Women’s Network have worked furiously for three weeks to ensure the majority of its annual Allflex DWN2020 Conference will still be held next month.

“While we have had to postpone our face to face conference until 2021, we have adapted to the current situation and are excited to be able to hold four days of online webinars and keynote sessions from the original conference programme,” Dairy Women’s Network Partnerships, Marketing and Communications Manager Zellara Holden said. . .

Beautiful disasters: The wild, wilted world of plant scientists who breed crops ready to thrive on a climate-ravaged earth – Lela Nargi:

A diversity of regionally adapted seeds are in short supply in parts of the U.S. So farmers must increasingly rely on a handful of publicly funded seed breeders to supply them.”

Michael Mazourek led the charge through thick-aired greenhouses, cheerfully tallying the destruction. “We inoculated these with a virus,” he said, stopping beside a table topped with stubby squash plants in square plastic pots. Their leaves were anemic and crisp around the edges.

“This was a beautiful disaster,” Mazourek said as he circumnavigated a miniature forest of wrung out pepper plants dangling shriveled fruits. “Our new fancy heaters didn’t work and we had a frost, which is a very climate change-y sort of event.” . .


Rural round-up

October 26, 2019

The deal’s done – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers now control their emissions destiny but industry leaders warn the hard work starts here.

The Government has adopted He Waka Eke Noa – the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment, which Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said is a good outcome for farmers.

“I hope farmers understand the importance of today,” he said.

“This is a piece of work that empowers us as a sector to put the tools in place to measure the mitigations, the sequestrations against our liabilities. 

“That’s our goal and that will drive the right behaviours.”

But now the office work is done the farm work will start. . .

Water policy stymies green work :

Hill-Country farmers will be deterred from doing environmental protection and enhancement because of limits put on land use by the proposed Essential Freshwater policies, Tararua farmers Simon and Trudy Hales say.

They believe restrictions on farmers’ ability to realise the productive potential of their land will stymie investment in environmental protection.

The couple, this year’s Supreme Award winners in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region Ballance Farm Environment Awards, estimate over the past four years they have spent about $120,000 on environmental protection on their 970ha, 819ha effective, hill country farm. . .

Taranaki farming couple reap benefit after lifetime of responsible land management – Mike Watson:

When Norton and Coral Moller decided to plant trees on a bare coastal dairy farm south of New Plymouth, the response from neighbours was disbelief.

Nearly 50 years later the retired Oakura couple are reaping the benefits.

Last month they were among 17 Taranaki Environment Award winners, for environmental leadership in dairying. . .

New Zealand’s anti-science GMO laws need to change to tackle climate change – Mia Sutherland:

If this coalition government is serious about tackling climate change and ensuring future generations are left with a prosperous planet, GMO law reform must be considered.

A poignant aspect of making a difference to New Zealand’s carbon emissions is discontinuing ‘business as usual’, meaning that the lifestyles we have founded and the way our society operates now needs to change. It’s not sustainable, and doesn’t promise the 170,000 people who took to the streets on September 27 or their children an inhabitable future.

We need to be exploring new methods, changing the way we think, and reevaluating ideas we have while taking into consideration the increasingly fast development of science. We need to reform the law about genetically modified organisms. . .

Kiwifruit pushes onto dairy land – Alan WIlliams:

Two properties destined for conversion to kiwifruit are among the few dairy farms being sold.

The farms are in the Pukehina area, east of the main kiwifruit zone at Te Puke in Bay of Plenty.

It is fringe kiwifruit land away from the main post-harvest infrastructure and indications are the buyers are already in the industry with the knowledge to make the bare-land investment, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.  . .

More Trades Academy places good news for primary sector:

The announcement of up to 4000 more trades training places in schools will help meet demand from students to learn about farming and horticulture, Primary ITO chief executive Nigel Philpott says.

The Government will fund 2000 more Trades Academy places, where secondary students combine full-time study with experience in the workplace, as well as up to 2000 Gateway places, where students have job placements along with classroom learning. The Trades Academies are across a number of sectors.

Primary ITO currently has New Zealand’s biggest Trades Academy, with approximately 830 students, and Mr Philpott says schools have asked for nearly 1100 Trades Academy places for next year. . .

Genetic engineering, CRISPR and food: What the ‘revolution’ will bring in the near future – Steven Cerier:

Humankind is on the verge of a genetic revolution that holds great promise and potential. It will change the ways food is grown, medicine is produced, animals are altered and will give rise to new ways of producing plastics, biofuels and chemicals.

Many object to the genetic revolution, insisting we should not be ‘playing God’ by tinkering with the building blocks of life; we should leave the genie in the bottle. This is the view held by many opponents of GMO foods But few transformative scientific advances are widely embraced at first. Once a discovery has been made and its impact widely felt it is impossible to stop despite the pleas of doubters and critics concerned about potential unintended consequences. Otherwise, science would not have experienced great leaps throughout history­­—and we would still be living a primitive existence


Rural round-up

September 8, 2019

Who needs the Greens when Labour hates farmers this much? – Mike Hosking:

Here’s the irony of David Parker. Parker was once the Minister of Economic Development and is currently the Minister of Trade and Export Growth – and yet he has done more than anyone these past two weeks to achieve exactly the opposite.

It was Parker who stopped the hydro dam on the West Coast despite every council, three of them, iwi, the Department of Conservation and 90 per cent of Coasters all being for it.

And now he’s put out water regulations that may as well come with the headline ‘we hate farmers’.

Tim Mackle’s piece in the Herald on this subject is excellent. It basically starts with him wistfully remembering a time when farmers were liked. Well I have a message to rural New Zealand: you still are, at least by people like me, realists who understand the energy, effort, and risk required to do what you do. . . 

The waters are rising on farming – Kerry Worsnop:

The release of the Essential Freshwater Report, ‘Action for Healthy Waterways’ will undoubtable add further turbulence to an already stormy torrent of proposed Central Government policy effecting Regional Councils and land based industries.

The report’s stated intention is to ‘stop the further degradation of New Zealand’s Freshwater resources and start making immediate improvements so that water quality is materially improving within 5 years’.  The reference to immediacy is no idle threat, with Regional Councils being expected to comply with many of the proposals by June 2020.

No one can argue with the intent of the report, and few would negate the importance of prioritising our greatest natural resource, however the scope and likely implications of the report will be a topic of much discussion in the coming weeks and months. . .

Forgotten aspects of water – Mike Chapman . .

The Government released its consultation on freshwater this week (click here).  We are now busy analysing it in detail and it is really too early to reach a view about the ultimate impact, especially before the consultation. 

Two of the background documents also released make interesting reading and provide insight into the thinking behind these proposals.  Te Kāhui Wai’s recommendations are strident.  They go to the core of the water issues facing New Zealand including: iwi/hapu water rights, a moratorium on additional discharges for the next 10 years, establishing a Te Mana o te Wai Commission, and developing a new water allocation system that conforms with iwi/hapu rights and obligations. 

The Freshwater Leaders Group’s recommendations include: bringing our water resources to a healthy state within a generation, taking immediate steps to stop our water becoming worse, and achieving an efficient and fair allocation system.  They also recommend an immediate stop to poor agricultural and forestry practices, and a complete halt to the loss of wetlands.  In summary, the reports are very similar in the outcomes they are seeking – immediate action to stop further degradation.

In all I’ve read, missing is how much water New Zealand gets each year and how much use we make of that water.  NIWA figures show that 80% of our water flows out to sea, 18% evaporates and only 2% is used.  My point is that there is more than enough water for everyone.  The problem is we are not being smart in our use of water and we are not planning for the impact of climate change – long dry summers.  . . .

Time for change – Neal Wallace:

A one-size-fits-all approach to freshwater management will penalise farmers shrinking their environment footprint, Beef + Lamb chairman Andrew Morrison says.

Farmers, like everyone, want clean, fresh water but the blanket regulatory approach in the Government’s Action for Health Waterways discussion document lumps those who have cut their footprint with those who haven’t.

Federated Farmers’ reaction was scathing.

Water spokesman Chris Allan said proposed nitrogen reduction targets of 80% mean farming will cease in large parts of rural New Zealand. . .

Fonterra’s clean-out is overdue – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholder with the largest number of shares believes the co-operative’s house cleaning and write-downs are absolutely necessary and overdue.

Former director Colin Armer, who with his wife Dale has 10 million supply shares, says over-valued assets mean farmers sharing-up in the past four years paid too much.

He has made a formal complaint to the Financial Markets Authority over inconsistent valuations and executive performance payments. . .

Irrigating farmers record better enviro audit grades – Nigel Malthus:

Irrigating farmers in the Amuri district in North Canterbury are continuing to record improved environmental performance.

The latest round of Farm Environment Plan audits by the Amuri Irrigation Environmental Collective have given 97% of the farmers collective A or B grades, the remaining 3% a C grade and none a D.

That contrasts with 20% rated as C and 6% as D in the first round of collective audits four years ago. . .


We all want clean water but

September 6, 2019

There’s no argument on the goal of clean freshwater but there’s significant angst in rural New Zealand over the way the government plans to get it.

We all want clean water, but not in a way that drastically increases the cost of farming and therefore food, destroys livelihoods and communities, and sabotages the economy.

Federated Farmers says the government’s proposals for cleaner freshwater throw farmers under the tractor:

Federated Farmers estimates large parts of rural New Zealand will have to abandon their reliance on the pastoral sector based on the freshwater proposals released today.

The Essential Freshwater announcements could lead to wholesale land use change to meet unnecessarily stringent targets.

The proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management nutrient levels will require parts of New Zealand to reduce their nitrogen by up to 80%. 

“It becomes very hard to continue economically farming animals or growing vegetables under a regime like this,” Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.   

“The long term targets for nitrogen reduction, are effectively unachievable in some parts of the country, and will end pastoral farming in these areas.”

Federated Farmers continues to be supportive of government effort to improve and maintain water quality, the use of farm environment plans and the continued shift to ‘GMP’ – good management practice policy.

“But with today’s proposals the government seems to be signalling it is prepared to gamble with the viability of food production as the major export earner for New Zealand.”

Feds has one simple message for the government, freshwater quality will continue to improve in rural areas, because farmers and growers are already doing the work.

“Lumping regional councils, with an entirely new regulatory system to implement and manage puts up everyone’s rates, and gives little additional support to actual water quality results,”  Chris says.

“Millions of dollars raised from increased rates which could have been spent on more river and waterway restoration will now be spent on hearings, lawyers and other random water experts,” Chris says.

“Basically your rates will go up, while farmers are doing the work anyway.”

Feds is particularly concerned about the proposed “interim controls” which will have untold ramifications for the New Zealand economy, as there will be an inevitable slump in land values, across all sectors and regions.

“The discussion documents say an ‘interim control’ is not a ban.  But if it stops you from doing something with your own land, without appeal or any achievable recourse, then it’s a ban, pure and simple,” Chris says.

This ban will have a significantly negative knock-on effect for all rural and urban communities where the activity of the primary sector is the lifeblood earner for the cafes, sports clubs, banks, insurance companies, car dealerships, restaurants, shopping malls and all the other people downstream of New Zealand’s largest earner.

“All we ask is for regulation that is based on science and evidence.”

Federated Farmers encourages all farmers to do their best to input into this process despite the short consultation period of six weeks and it being at the busiest time of the year for farmers.

Beef + Lamb NZ says the proposals would make sheep and beef farmers sacrificial lambs:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says plans to lock down current land uses will have a disproportionate effect on the majority of sheep and beef farms that are low input, extensive systems with a light touch on the environment.

“The sheep and beef sector’s vision is for New Zealanders to continue to be able to swim in and collect food from the freshwater surrounding sheep and beef farms,” says B+LNZ’s Chairman Andrew Morrison. 

‘Sheep and beef farmers are committed to protecting the health of our waterways and we’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far, however, we know there is still more work to be done.  

“The Essential Freshwater proposals are comprehensive and will take time to assess, however, we are deeply concerned by some of the analysis we have seen – including modelling that suggests 68 percent of drystock farms in the Waikato/Waipa catchment would be converted into forestry as a direct result of the proposed regulations, while more intensive land uses largely remain the same.

Forestry isn’t necessarily good for water quality with sediment and slash washing into waterways after harvesting.

“These proposals will undermine the viability of a low-intensity sector which supports over 80,000 jobs and generates exports of $9.1 billion a year.  It risks decimating rural communities, especially when coupled with other proposed policies such as the Zero Carbon Bill.

“Ultimately, we are concerned the sheep and beef sector will bear a disproportionate impact of the proposed policies, far outweighing the environmental impact of our farming systems.”

Issues around nitrogen leaching are driven primarily by cattle stocking rates and high loadings of nitrogen fertiliser, leading to greater concentrations of nitrate leaching into waterways. 

“Most sheep and beef farming systems operate within the natural capacity of the land due to our low stocking rates and efficient, low input farming model,” says Mr Morrison.

“Our nitrogen leaching rates are low and in catchments where sheep and beef farms are the predominant farming system, nitrogen levels are not an issue. 

“The sheep and beef sector’s main water health issues are sediment, phosphorus and intensive winter grazing on crops.  We are committed to addressing our contribution to these issues and understand the need for increased oversight for activities which pose a higher environmental risk.

“However, the devil is in the detail and we will be looking to ensure any new requirements are matched to the environmental effects we are looking to manage.

“The Essential Freshwater proposals that will likely have the greatest impact on sheep and beef farmers are a range of “grandparenting” provisions that restrict land use change, and flexibility within a farming system to diversify.

“In doing this, the greatest flexibility is provided for those that currently undertake high intensity, high discharging land uses.

“New Zealand’s most sustainable and low intensity farming systems, those with the lightest environmental footprint, will have no flexibility moving forward to adapt to these and or other environmental pressures.  The success of our farming system has been the ability to adapt and diversify.”

The approach proposed also fails to take into account the other benefits that extensive farming systems provide such as biodiversity and supporting healthy and vibrant rural communities, says Mr Morrison. 

“The government’s objective of “holding the line” is understandable, but the way it would be implemented will lead to a perverse outcome where blanket limits are placed on everyone, even though individual farmers’ contribution to the problem differs wildly.

“While the government says these are interim controls until councils have new plans in place, there are no timeframes and based on our previous experience, councils’ processes will take many years. During that time, the damage will be done.”   

Sheep and beef farmers have been working to address a wide range of environmental issues, he says.  

“We are committed to addressing freshwater quality issues such as erosion, E.coli and phosphorous by working towards all farmers having land and environment plans by 2021.  Our sector has already lifted this from 36 percent in 2017 to 49 percent in 2019, and many farmers are getting involved in catchment communities.

“While there is still more to do, in-stream sediment concentrations have been improving as farmers have been planting native and poplar trees in erosion prone areas and retiring some land from production.   

“It appears from the proposal that many sheep and beef farmers will be punished for doing the right thing.  Over the last 30 years we’ve doubled export revenue from the industry while reducing our land use foot print, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. 

“At the same time our sheep and beef farms are a reservoir for almost three million hectares of native vegetation, making up nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s remaining native vegetation and including 1.4 million hectares of native forest, which co-exists alongside productive agriculture.” 

B+LNZ has extensive resources to support farmers in adopting best management practice for intensive winter grazing on crops and has over the last year led a pan-sector process to develop common policy solutions and build on industry initiatives to manage these activities. 

DairyNZ makes a plea: let’s all improve our waterways without destroying rural communities:

Today’s Essential Freshwater Package shows healthy and swimmable waterways are important to all New Zealanders, including dairy farmers, who share the same aspirations to protect our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the dairy sector and our farmers share the same vision communities, Maori and Government have to protect and improve our freshwater resources.

“The Essential Freshwater Package announced today provides a real opportunity for everyone to have their say in this important conversation. We know we can’t farm without healthy water and land, and we reflect this in our Dairy Tomorrow sector strategy, and we need to acknowledge the work that’s already taken place,” said Dr Mackle.

“Our dairy sector is already on the journey to improve and protect water quality and our farmers have been working towards this for more than a decade.”

Dr Mackle said at the same time it is acknowledged that, in some catchments, community expectations for water quality has not yet been met. Here, further action is required by all land users, including dairy, to halt a decline and longer-term solutions put in place to restore the health of these waterways.

“This policy package focuses not only on dairy but all land use activities, including sheep and beef, horticulture and urban activities, reflecting that we all have a part to play in improving our waterways,” said Dr Mackle.

But it doesn’t focus on bird life. The major contributor to the poor quality of some waterways is birds, for example the seagulls which nest on rocks beside the Kakanui River.

“We agree with a focus on ecosystem health and alongside this, options to better track the impact of improvements farmers are making to work towards this. However, we have serious concerns that the proposed approach of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus may not achieve improved ecosystem health and could have a significant impact on the viability of farm businesses and rural communities. We need to understand this better and what it means for our water quality, farmers and for the country.

“We know from experience that regulation is one tool, but hearts and minds are vital to create enduring change. We also want this to be grounded in facts and science, as well as economic and social analysis.

“Many things impact on ecosystem health, nutrients are often not the key driver. It will be important to recognise a catchment-by-catchment targeted approach as opposed to blanket one-size-fits all rules.

Solutions to problems in one catchment, or even part of a catchment, may not be applicable to all.

“We believe further uptake of Good Farming Practices and Farm Environment Plans across all farms, catchments and land users nationally is an effective way to accelerate further improvements,” said Dr Mackle. “Over 3000 farms already have a comprehensive Farm Environment Plan and we support that every farm has have one by 2025.

“Overall we support the intent of the Essential Freshwater Package but we haven’t been involved in its development, so we need to understand the proposed policies in more detail.

“It is important the policies contribute to meaningful improvements in water quality for the community and there are realistic expectations for all landowners.

“We believe on-farm initiatives are already contributing to maintaining or improving water quality across many catchments and the most recent LAWA report supports this, with almost all water quality measures showing more sites improving, than not.”

Dr Mackle said there is an opportunity to extend on the good work already done by promoting good farming principles across all catchments, farms and land owners. “This should build on successful sector initiatives, including the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, and we don’t want to see our good work undone.

“Our farmers are adaptable and have made significant changes to how we farm over the last 30 years. We will continue to learn and make changes into the future,” said Dr Mackle.

“We recognise that over time, future land use may look different than it does today. It is important that farmers have the certainty, tools and adequate transition time to continue on the journey and make the changes that may be needed over the next generation.

“Looking forward, we are encouraged by the prospect of a vibrant primary sector and rural communities, benefiting from healthy and resilient waterways.”

These proposals are typical of so many of the governments that don’t follow the science and take a balanced approach to sustainability taking into account economic, environmental and social impacts.

Water quality degraded over many years and reversing that will take time.

You can download a copy of Action for Healthy Waterways here.


Primary sector climate change commitment

July 17, 2019

New Zealand farming leaders have agreed to a sector-wide Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment: He Waka Eke:

The primary sector will work in good faith with government and iwi/Maori to design a practical and cost-effective system for reducing emissions at farm level by 2025. The sector will work with government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm practice change, set at the margin and only to the extent necessary to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities that contribute to lower global emissions. The primary sector’s proposed 5-year programme of action is aimed at ensuring farmers and growers are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver emissions reductions while maintaining profitability. . .

Neal Wallace summarises the plan:

Farmers could be about to receive some intensive education on managing greenhouse gas emissions from their farms and orchards.

A proposed five-year programme of action beginning next year has been developed by 11 primary sector groups as diverse as Apiculture NZ, Horticulture NZ, the Federation of Maori Authorities, Federated Farmers and bodies representing the livestock industry.

The Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment demonstrates efforts the sector is prepared to take to reduce emissions as new technology becomes available.

This means that reducing emissions won’t be at the cost of lower production.

That is important not just for producers’ incomes but New Zealand exports and the income they generate, and global emissions which would increase if less food produced here led to more produced less efficiently in other countries.

It also counters the Interim Climate Change Committee recommendation to introduce a tax on livestock emissions to be collected by processors up to 2025 when the tax will be based on individual farm assessments.

A joint statement by the group says a central tenet of the Government’s discussion document is pricing agricultural emissions.

“The primary sector is seeking to work with Government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm change, contributes to lower global emissions and supports farmers and growers to make practical changes on the ground.

“This will be critically important to enable a smooth transition for the agricultural sector.”

The body’s plan will establish graduated, targeted milestones for goals such as farm environment plans and farm-level measurement of greenhouse gases.

A lot of farms already have farm environment plans.

North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) pioneered requiring independently audited FEPs as a condition of supply. Other companies have followed this example and many farmers have chosen to have FEPs as a commitment to best practice.

However, many of those plans won’t yet be measuring greenhouse gases.

For example, by 2022 the aim is for every farmer to know the level of emissions generated from their farms and by 2025 to have an accounting and reporting system for those emissions.

By the same year all farms will have a farm environment plan and 70% of all farmers will be managing their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with their plan.

The commitment said substantial work has been done to develop methodology and tools to calculate farm-level emissions and extension programmes to educate farmers as well as continued research into methane inhibitors, vaccines and animal genetics. . . 

Continued research is essential to provide the tools farmers will need to reduce emissions without reducing production.

. . . The group wants sequestration to be credited to each farm and farmers should not be required to enter the Emission Trading Scheme to get financial credit for that sequestration.

Pricing should incentivise all forms of sequestration from native bush, riparian planting, shelter belts, orchards and vines.

The document says the primary sector invests $25 million a year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change.

It notes the greenhouse gas footprint for New Zealand dairy production is 30% below Europe’s and less than half the world average while for lamb it is 25% that of the rest of the world.

This point is lost on those, including politicians, who erroneously think reducing livestock numbers here will reduce global emissions.

Just like the oil and gas ban, it would have the perverse outcome of increasing emissions as our less efficient competitors increased production to compensate for less food produced here.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chair Andrew Morrison says the sheep and beef sector here has already reduced absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent since 1990 through improved farming practices and things like better lambing percentages and higher carcase weights.

. . .“Today’s Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment is an evolution of one of the Interim Climate Change Committee’s recommendations, and seeks to achieve the same outcomes faster than would otherwise be the case,” says Mr Morrison.

“Both the primary sector and ICCC agree that a farm-based pricing mechanism is the best way to get action on biological greenhouse gas emissions. Where we differ is that we think we can make faster progress by working with farmers from the get-go to help reduce on-farm emissions and prepare for farm-based pricing from 2025, rather than having an interim processor levy.”

Mr Morrison says that the ability of the primary sector to fund work on developing a farm-based pricing system through existing resources will provide a win-win situation for farmers and the climate.

“A new and blanket levy at the processor level wouldn’t incentivise any on-farm changes and would be seen as farmers as a new tax, which would undermine farmer’s efforts to make positive changes, especially as individual farmers wouldn’t reap the benefits of any improvements they may make.” . .

Imposing a tax rather than finding the tools to enable farmers to reduce emissions would add costs without necessarily changing behaviour.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the Commitment doesn’t just identify a problem – it provides a clear pathway forward and a way for the primary sector to work with the government rather than just impose regulation.

. . .We and the ICCC both agree that a farm-based mechanism is the best way to address biological emissions, however, our views diverge when it comes to how we get there.

“Bringing agriculture into the ETS at the processor level amounts to little more than a broad-based tax on farmers before we have the knowledge, support and tools to drive the practice change that will reduce emissions.

“The stakes are high. New Zealand’s primary sector contributes one fifth of our GDP, generates 1 in 10 jobs and produce 75% of our merchandise exports.  We want to avoid shocks like the 80s and make any changes in a stable and considered way. 

Anything which imposes costs and reduces production would re-create the ag-sag of the 1980s with all the economic and social pain with little or not economic gain.

“As an alternative we have put forward a proposed five-year work programme to build an enduring farm-level emission reduction framework and work with farmers and the wider rural sector to provide real options to reduce their footprint. 

“While appropriate pricing mechanisms for incentivising emissions reductions at farm level can have an important role to play in incentivising change, creating an environment that enables and supports farmers and growers to make changes on-the-ground is equally important to prepare for farm-based pricing from 2025. . . 

Education and research to provide tools to enable change will have a positive and lasting impact that taxes won’t.


Rural round-up

July 6, 2019

BLNZ looking into impact of land conversion – Sally Rae:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has expressed concerns about the potential impacts on communities of ”wholesale conversions” of regions into forestry.

There have been growing concerns in the past few months about the increase in sales of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

In an update to farmers, BLNZ chairman Andrew Morrison said the organisation was working to get a better understanding of exactly what was happening, why it might be happening, quantifying the potential impacts on regional communities, and what the solutions might be. . .

Farmers’ returns should reflect value – Alliance – Brent Melville:

Alliance group chairman Murray Taggart is a firm believer in premium returns for premium products.

The North Canterbury sheep, cattle and cropping farmer wants red meat producers to get out what they put in, meaning Alliance needs to be in a position to objectively measure product value.

It has been an important part of the company’s strategic focus over much of his six years as chairman. He and the Alliance board have worked with CEO David Surveyor over the past four years to improve the company’s operational ”fitness”, transform production capacity and reinvent the company’s global marketing focus. . .

Report dodgy fliers :

Dairy farmers are being urged to tell authorities about “concerning activity” by helicopters and drones.

But farmers should also be aware that drones, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft have legitimate business in rural areas, like checking power lines and spreading fertiliser.

DairyNZ head of South Island Tony Finch says it has had reports of helicopters and drones flying low over Southland farms where they disturb stock. . . 

Triple the success:

The Dawkins family are Beef + Lamb New Zealand Innovation Farmers who are striving to maximise triplet lamb survival by developing an indoor lambing system. Now in their third year of the programme, the family are refining a system that has unexpectedly benefited the whole farm system while significantly reducing lamb losses.

In part one of this two-part series, we look at how the indoor system works.

A recipe for maximising triplet lamb survival is like the holy grail of sheep farming but the Dawkins family from Blenheim are getting closer to finding it.

Chris and Julia Dawkins and their son Richard, who farm The Pyramid, a 645ha down and hill country sheep and beef farm, are in the third year of a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Innovation Farm programme looking to maximise triplet lamb performance through an indoor lambing system. . .

Farming the Chathams: the tyranny of distance – Adam Fricker:

Like a small scale model of the challenges New Zealand agriculture faces being so far from its main markets, farmers on the Chatham Islands are far enough from the mainland to make shipping inputs in and livestock out a marginal exercise. Adam Fricker reports.

An Australian coined the phrase ‘the tyranny of distance’ but it certainly applies here. Rural News took the 2.5 hour flight on Air Chathams’ Convair 580, a graceful 1960s turbo prop.

We came courtesy of Holden who were celebrating their 65th anniversary with an SUV adventure on Chatham Island, the main island in the scattered group of 25 islands. It’s not a cheap flight, so most of the non-human freight, including livestock, goes by ship. . . 

A carnivore diet is more vegan than a vegan diet :

Whether you are ready to hear this or not, a Carnivore Diet, a diet comprised entirely of animal products, and more specifically, a diet comprised entirely or almost entirely of large herbivores such as cows and sheep, is more vegan than the vegan diet,  and we’ll prove this to you with incontrovertible facts.

If you thought veganism was just a diet that excludes animals, well, not quite. According to the Vegan Society, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” So, according to them, whatever diet accomplishes this best would be a ‘vegan’ diet, or more correctly THE vegan diet.  . . 


Asking too much of ag

May 9, 2019

The announcement that methane will be treated differently from other gases under the Zero Carbon Bill ought to be good news for farmers, but it isn’t:

New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector is deeply concerned over the proposed treatment of methane and targets in the Zero Carbon Bill and is calling for critical changes to the bill.

The proposed methane reduction targets of between 24-47 percent by 2050 significantly exceed both New Zealand and global scientific advice and the government is asking more of agriculture than fossil fuel emitters elsewhere in the economy.

The government wants to turn productive farm land into forests and it’s also asking too much of farmers in its methane target.

New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector is committed to playing its part in addressing climate change and acknowledges that in some areas the government has followed scientific advice, such as the split gas approach and proposed ambitious net zero target for nitrous oxide.

“Sheep and beef emissions have already reduced by 30 percent since 1990, helping meet New Zealand’s climate change challenge and we accept we still have work to do,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Chairman and Southland sheep and beef farmer Andrew Morrison.

“New Zealand needs a robust science-based and fair approach when setting targets for an issue which will affect future generations.

“It’s unreasonable to ask farmers to be cooling the climate, as the government’s proposed targets would do, without expecting the rest of the economy to also do the same.

It’s also unfair to expect farmers to follow the science on the need to reduce emissions while ruling out genetic modification which could be an affordable and effective tool for doing so.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is calling for a fair approach, where each gas is reduced based on its warming impact. An equitable approach requires carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide to go to net zero, and methane to be reduced and stabilised by between 10-22 percent. This is consistent with the advice from the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment who identified this range as meaning methane would be contributing no additional warming. Any target above a 10-22 percent reduction is therefore asking methane to cool the planet.

“In addition to our 30 percent reduction in emissions, sheep and beef farmers have also conserved 1.4 million hectares of native forest, an area the size of Hawke’s Bay, which is capturing significant quantities of carbon and cooling the planet, which when combined with our free range, naturally-raised farming systems enables our farmers to produce beef and lamb at a lower carbon footprint than many other countries.

“Not allowing trees to offset biological methane, as is allowed for fossil fuel emitters, exacerbates the unequal playing field, and is completely counter to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

It’s even more galling when a lot of those trees are planted on farmland.

As a sector which set a goal of being net carbon neutral by 2050, the ability for farmers to offset biological methane on farm through tree planting is a key tool that farmers should be allowed to access.”

The sheep and beef sector is also urgently calling on the government to be transparent and release all the advice on which they based its decision.

“The government’s decision appears to fly in the face of international scientific evidence, which supports reducing and stabilising methane by 10-22 percent as equivalent to net carbon zero.

“As the Zero Carbon Bill currently stands, it will have a dramatic impact on New Zealand’s regional communities and the entire economy, and the knock-on effect will be felt by every Kiwi.”

New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector is worth approximately $10.4 billion, is the country’s largest manufacturing sector, the second largest export earner, and supports 80,000 jobs across the country, both directly and indirectly.

New Zealand’s emissions are around 0.17% of the global total.

If anything we do was going to make a significant difference the economic sacrifice might – just might – be justified. But when anything we do is insignificant on a global scale there is no justification for economic sabotage.

These jobs form the heart of hundreds of regional communities. The social and economic impacts of these potential changes will reverberate beyond the farm gate and hollow out the many regional communities who rely heavily on our sector,” says Mr Morrison.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand will continue supporting research into greenhouse gas mitigations, as well as its ongoing work with farmers to help them further reduce the methane emissions from their livestock.”

DairyNZ has similar concerns about the methane target:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle has reconfirmed the dairy sector’s commitment to play its part to reduce its biological emissions, and supports the intent of the direction of the Zero Carbon Bill.

“Our farmers are committed to sustainable farming practices, and need long-term certainty to make business decisions based on reduction targets. We are pleased the Government has listened to the science regarding the short-lived nature of methane, recognising it has a different impact on the environment,” says Dr Mackle.

“DairyNZ supports a science-based approach, where each gas is reduced based on its warming impact. We have not yet seen the Government’s analysis behind the 2050 target range. The 2050 target, of reducing methane by 24 to 47 per cent, is based on global scenarios that are not grounded in the New Zealand context. This range for methane, combined with reducing nitrous oxide to net zero, goes beyond expert scientific advice for what is necessary for New Zealand agriculture to limit global warming to no more than at 1.5° C.

“It is very important to get the range right. If we get this wrong it will have significant impacts on not just the dairy sector, but the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of New Zealand. 

“While we can support much of what is in the Zero Carbon legislation, we will be pushing for the range to be reviewed and aligned with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, of 10-22 per cent reduction in methane. When combined with our commitment on nitrous oxide to net zero, this is an equitable, yet ambitious and challenging target, that is grounded in robust science.

“We know our farmers will be concerned by the 47 per cent and what that might mean for their livelihoods. It is not set in stone, and the Bill includes a number of criteria for review including availability of mitigation options, what other countries are doing, and reduction efforts by other sectors. 

“New Zealand is already one of the lowest emissions producers of dairy nutrition in the world per kilogram of milksolids and we want to build on that advantage. Climate change is a global issue and it is good for the world if dairy production stays in New Zealand where we have low emissions for the amount we produce. We believe our premium, grass-based, high nutrition dairy will continue to be in demand well into the future, alongside a range of other options consumers may have.

Sabotaging dairying here will increase global emissions as production from less efficient producers elsewhere is increased to make up the shortfall.

“The 2030 reduction target is the first step, which we know will be very challenging. But there is action that farmers can take, and are already taking, to reduce on-farm emissions. The first step is to understand their emissions and where they come from. As part of our pan-sector Dairy Tomorrow strategy, over the next 5 years each farm will have a farm-specific plan to manage and reduce these emissions.

“DairyNZ remains focused on researching and developing tools to help farmers make choices for how to reduce emissions – through farm systems changes and new technologies. It will take time for some of these tools to develop. We will continue working closely with government to ensure all efforts on farm are recognised, and expert advice and training is made available. This support is a vital part of a fair transition.

Federated Farmers says the methane target will change the country not the climate:

Targets released today for farming’s methane emissions are going to send the message to farmers that New Zealand is prepared to give up on pastoral farming.

“This decision is frustratingly cruel, because there is nothing I can do on my farm today that will give me confidence I can ever achieve these targets”, Federated Farmers vice president and Climate Change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

New Zealand farmers are already playing their part in tackling global warming, and are willing to do more.

“But hearing the government setting arbitrary targets based on a random selection of reports and incomplete data will leave some farmers wondering; ‘what is the point’?

“The 10% reduction target for methane by 2030 gives us a deadline for going beyond net zero more than 20 years earlier than for any other sector of New Zealand. It is unheard of anywhere else on the planet,” Andrew says.

The targets are significantly higher than what is necessary to be equivalent to net-zero carbon dioxide.

The announced methane reduction target for 2050 of 24-50%, when coupled with the target of net zero for nitrous oxide, requires the New Zealand agriculture sector to reduce its emissions by 43-60%.

“Let’s be clear, the only way to achieve reductions of that level, is to reduce production.  There are no magic technologies out there waiting for us to implement.

“At this point in time we have no idea how to achieve reductions of this level, without culling significant stock numbers.

“All Kiwis need to ask themselves one simple question: ‘if we cut our agricultural production by up to 50% over the next 30 years, what is the country going to do for jobs, taxes and community investment, in the future?”

There is no practical, sustainable or viable answer to that question.

 In complete contradiction to the most recent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report, New Zealand farmers will also not be able to offset their methane emissions by planting trees.

“Large fossil carbon dioxide polluters can offset their emissions by continuing to buy up land and putting it into forestry, but farmers will not be able to offset their methane emissions by planting trees on their own land.

“Basically pastoral farming is being used to buy the rest of New Zealand time to deal with the fundamental driver of climate change – increased carbon dioxide emissions. That’s the greenhouse gas the government obviously finds too politically hot to handle.”

This government keeps talking about fairness then introducing policies that are anything but fair.

Q: Isn’t a split gas target what the agricultural sector wanted?
A: A split gas target for long and short-lived greenhouse gases is required in order to reflect the dramatically different reduction needed in order to have each gas no longer contribute to additional warming of the atmosphere. The reduction targets announced by the Government go above and beyond what is required for methane to reach net zero carbon dioxide equivalent. We welcome a split gas target but the target for methane itself is not viable.

Q: Who said biological methane doesn’t need to reduce to net zero by 2050, like the other greenhouse gases?
A: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), the Productivity Commission and most recently the Climate Change Commission in the UK.

Most prominently, the internationally recognised climate scientists from Oxford (including Professor Myles Allen) and Victoria University of Wellington (including Prof. Dave Frame) have published research identifying a 0.3% year-on-year reduction in biological methane would ensure that the gas had no additional warming impact. This equates to a 10% reduction by 2050 (not 2020 as proposed by Government). These scientists have been lead authors in chapters of IPCC reports.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton, in his 29 March 2019 report ‘Farms, forests and fossil fuels’ (pg. 80) said if New Zealand wished to stabilise the contribution of livestock methane to global warming at its 2016 level, it would need to reduce these emissions by 10-22% by 2050. He said: “Unless large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are achieved, efforts to reduce methane and nitrous oxide will be of limited long-term value.”

Q: If farmers aren’t required to get methane emissions down to net zero by 2050, as with the other greenhouse gases, isn’t that letting agriculture ‘off the hook’?
A: No. Methane emissions need to only slightly reduce to have no additional warming effect (equivalent to zero gross carbon dioxide emissions). This is because methane is a relatively short-lived gas in the atmosphere.

Under the Zero Carbon Bill targets farmers are being required to reduce another biological emission, nitrous oxide, to net zero by 2050.  Farmers (and processors) are also big users of transport and electricity to harvest/process/get their goods to market, so like other New Zealanders and industry sectors they will bear the costs of reducing carbon dioxide to net zero by 2050.

Q: What’s wrong with the tougher methane reduction targets and deadlines?
A: The announced targets disregard the core principal of all gases being reduced equally in order to have the same impact in reducing global warming. The 10% reduction target for methane by 2030, goes beyond what is needed to achieve no further contribution to warming from methane. This target is expecting farmers to reduce methane 3 times greater than required for methane to no longer contribute to additional global warming.

Essentially this means the 10% methane target is required to be achieved two decades before the target for all other gases.

Apart from the obvious significant economic impacts this is also likely to have the counterproductive impact of increasing global warming, as no other agricultural exporting country is setting such tough methane targets.  Less efficient trade competitors will fill the market gap created by the reduced food production in New Zealand. This concept is known as “emissions leakage”.

Q: Where does the figure of ‘27% – 47%’ reduction for methane by 2050 come from?
A: Good question. There are no Government reports outlining the reasoning for the figures. The Government cannot provide any analysis of how they arrive at the 24%- 47% figure. The numbers are from the 2018 IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).  Note these are ‘scenarios’, one of which includes a nuclear power option and another allows for an increase in nitrous oxide emissions.

Q: But can’t farmers just plant trees to offset methane?
A:  No, the Government has specifically prevented farmers from offsetting methane emissions. A coal power station will be allowed to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by buying up farms and planting pines trees but a farmer will not be allowed to offset their methane emissions by planting trees on their own land.

This is contradictory to the recent recommendations by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, who recommended a landscape approach to forestry offsets. Under the PCE’s landscape approach the use of forestry offsets would be limited to biological methane, and offsetting nitrous oxide would be limited to native vegetation, and fossil carbon dioxide would not be offset at all by planting trees.

The Government’s Zero Carbon Bill announcement makes no distinction between fossil and biological greenhouse gases and operates in a reality where a carbon dioxide molecule is as theoretically stable in a pine tree in Nelson as one in solid coal a kilometre under the ground.

Q: How can farmers reduce their emissions in order to reach the methane target?
A:  Currently the only way farmers can reduce methane emissions is to feed less dry matter to livestock. The Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG) commissioned work that shows in order to significantly reduce livestock methane emissions in the future without cutting production many currently unavailable and uncertain technologies will need to be developed and commercialized, including genetically modified ryegrass crops.

This is yet another aspirational policy from the government without a plan and without a scientific basis.

It’s also another example of a policy that won’t make a measurable environmental difference but will come at a high social and economic cost.


Rural round-up

August 8, 2018

BLNZ conference offers big choice of topics – Nicole Sharp:

A first for the South Island, farmers will have the future in front of them at Progressive Ag.

The Progressive Ag conference, organised by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ), is being held in Gore next month, on August 9.

Organiser and BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said the idea came from a similar event in the North Island.

”They have an ag innovation and we ran a mini all together in one place here in Gore last year,” she said. . .

Retractable roof a NZ first for Central orchard – Aexia Johnston:

A New Zealand-first development is taking shape at Clyde Orchards — a shed with a retractable roof will house three hectares of cherries.

Owners Kevin and Raymond Paulin, who could not yet confirm how much the development would cost, will plant thousands of cherry trees in the shed, boosting the company’s overall crop to 30ha.

They have been working on the project over winter, with the aim of getting it ready for planting so produce will be available in three years’ time. . .

Nailing the big issues:

Climate change and water quality are two issues the sheep and beef industry has yet to nail, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman, Andrew Morrison.

Speaking to Rural News last week at the Red Meat Sector conference in Napier, he said health and safety was a big issue 12-18 months ago but the industry has moved on from this and is working through these other issues.

“We really want to get the water quality and climate change issues sorted,” Morrison says. “We are working out what tools we can set up to help change the behaviour of people on these issues; not regulation so much as how we can structure policy that gets the necessary outcomes.” . . 

Common ground – Forest & Bird and Pāmu announce new collaboration:

The heads of New Zealand’s largest conservation organisation and largest farming group have agreed to work together to promote best environmental practice in New Zealand’s farming sector.

Forest & Bird and Pāmu have agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on researching, implementing, and promoting agricultural practices that protect the natural environment.

“Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation, and Pāmu is New Zealand’s largest farmer. It makes sense for these two influential organisations to collaborate on one of the country’s biggest challenges – how to reverse the crisis facing New Zealand’s unique natural environment,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague. . . 

New scholarship in beekeeping launched:

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) recently launched a new youth scholarship in beekeeping aimed at encouraging young New Zealanders who wish to take up a career in the industry and undertake training that supports best practice beekeeping.

The Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in Beekeeping is sponsored by Mossop’s Honey based in Tauranga. Ron Mossop was a leading pioneer in the industry, starting out his family beekeeping business in the 1940s and building a values-based family business focused on quality and integrity.

Today, the Mossop family honours those values through the scholarship fund which will be awarded annually. . .

New Zealanders still want meat, just less

Plant-based proteins won’t replace meat as consumers want both, a food scientist says.

Red meat consumption in New Zealand has fallen 57 percent in the last decade and companies like Air New Zealand have started offering meat free burger patties.

But Plant and Food Research scientist Dr Jocelyn Eason told RNZ’s Sunday Morning that did not mean New Zealanders wanted to replace meat with lab-grown meat.

She said consumers were increasingly becoming “flexitarian” – choosing to be vegetarian sometimes and eat meat other times. . . 

New Zealand’s largest alpine resort to be developed between Queenstown & Wanaka:

A new partnership between Cardrona Alpine Resort and Queenstown businessman John Darby will lead to the development of New Zealand’s largest alpine resort, incorporating Cardrona and a new Soho Basin Ski Area.

Soho Basin faces Queenstown and covers all the southern and south-west faces of Mt Cardrona, and includes the two Willow Basins that directly adjoins Cardrona Alpine Resort’s southern boundary. Soho Basin will add an additional 500ha of high altitude skiable terrain, offering up to 500 vertical metres of skiing. . . .

Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

June 20, 2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2018

People first is the goal – Sally Rae:

Loshni Manikam’s passion for the dairy industry is palpable.

Enigmatic and engaging, the lawyer-turned-dairy farmer-turned-professional coach was recently named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year — and it is easy to understand why.

The Southland-based mother-of-three has a big vision; for the dairy industry in New Zealand to have a happy, productive, sustainable culture that puts people “at front and centre” of everything it does.

And, if that could be achieved, it would be “amazing on every level” — not just for the industry but also for families, farming businesses and communities — and it is that vision that excites her.

Ms Manikam has a fascinating back story. Brought up in South Africa, she completed a law degree before heading off on her OE. . . 

Oh brother! Linda in running – Sally Rae:

It could go down in history.

If Linda Taggart wins the Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest, she will join her brother, Roscoe, as part ofthe first brother-and-sister combination to compete in the event’s grand final.

Roscoe Taggart (26) has clinched a spot in the Tasman regional final in Christchurch on April 7 while Miss Taggart (25) will compete in the Otago-Southland final on April 21 in Winton. . . 

Rural communities a focus for new Beef + Lamb NZ chairman:

As Southland farmer Andrew Morrison steps into the role of Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand his focus will be on the strength of rural communities.

These communities reflect the health and prosperity of the farming sectors that surround them so for Andrew, red meat sector growth is helping rural communities thrive – and this is increasingly recognised as a success story within this country and around the world.

Andrew, who was formally elected by the Board on 23 March, will be leading B+LNZ as the levy-funded organisation implements a revised strategy. . . 

Power of the partnership – Anne Lee:

A pioneering Canterbury dairy equity partnership has gone from strength to strength. Anne Lee reports.

Twenty years after its conversion Canlac Holdings is still a model for what can be achieved on an irrigated Canterbury dairy farm in terms of profit, business growth and progression.

It’s one of the country’s longest-running and most-successful equity partnerships with enduring relationships and innovative business structures creating platforms for individuals and the enterprise as a whole to grow and achieve lifelong goals. . .

Kevin Folta’s crusade for science – Jessie Scott:

On Sunday, September 6, 2015, scientist Kevin Folta made the front page of the New York Times. The prominent article wasn’t recognition for his work in understanding which genes control flavor in strawberries or how light can slow down mold in blueberries. Instead, it was an article questioning his ties to Monsanto and whether or not those connections influenced his favorable views toward biotechnology.

Kevin Folta, the chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, has been an agvocator talking about biotechnology since 2000. Or, as he prefers to say, he is a science communicator.

“I don’t feel that this is agvocacy,” he says. “I don’t represent one technology or idea; I represent what the science says. It says biotechnology in agriculture is a good thing.” . . 

A lunch at Ostler Wines vineyard – The Paintbox Garden:

One of the logistical tasks for a tour guide in a country where the attractions are far-flung is to find a place to feed the tour members lunch. In New Zealand, our guide Richard Lyon accomplished this necessary detail with great panache. We had eaten lunch in some of the most beautiful gardens in the country, so we were excited as we drove from Oamaru through the Waitaki River Valley, past the power plant at Waitaki Lake……

to arrive moments later at the beautiful vineyard of Ostler Wine…


Rural round-up

March 28, 2018

WRC Fencing Proposal Breeds Resentment in the Hills:

Drystock farmers have the most water on their land of any farming sector and are therefore key, in any final policy to improve water quality across Waikato. Under the proposed fencing rules contained in the Waikato Regional Council’s Plan Change 1, many hill country farmers will eventually be forced off their land by the costs of installing fencing and water reticulation. Worse than that, the installation such a vast amount of fencing will leave many of our smallest and cleanest streams – clogged and filthy with sediment.

Due to the nature of the ground, some hill country farmers may lose up to forty percent of their total grazing area, if the proposed fencing requirements are implemented without changes. “The absurd idea being espoused by some WRC staff, that farmers can somehow graze sheep on the sides of hills and cattle on the tops of hills is totally impractical and just shows how far out of touch the WRC is, with hill country farming realities” says Mr Andy Loader, Chairman of PLUG.  . . 

Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey Quarter 1:

New Zealand’s farmers have started the year with increasing optimism, with rural confidence edging higher after two consecutive sharp declines recorded in the second half of 2017.

The first quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey for the year – completed earlier this month – has shown the nation’s net farmer confidence index inched up to +15 per cent, from +13 per cent recorded in the December 2017 survey, primarily driven by an optimistic outlook among horticulturalists.

While the latest survey found the number of New Zealand farmers expecting the agricultural economy to improve in the year ahead had declined slightly to 27 per cent of those surveyed (compared with 29 per cent in the previous quarter) – those expecting agricultural economic conditions to worsen had fallen to 12 per cent (from 16 per cent previously). . . 

Why has Fonterra gone a2? – Keith Woodford:

It is now more than a month since Fonterra and The a2 Milk Company (A2M) announced that they are going to work together. After the initial shock, and with Malcolm Bell, National Market Manager from New Zealand-dominant dairy-semen provider LIC describing it as “the biggest announcement to come out of Fonterra since its formation”, there is a need for some analysis as to what it is going to mean.

From the perspective of A2M, there is a simple answer. It will provide a supply base of milk free of A1 beta-casein that A2M desperately needs for the coming years of growth.

For Fonterra, the issues are far more complex.  Why have they made a U-turn after 17 years of condescending denigration of the A2 concept?  And why is Fonterra doing it as a joint venture rather than striking out on its own? . . .

NZ log exports top 1M cubic metres in January, second-highest level ever for the month – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand exported more than one million cubic metres of softwood logs in January, only the second time in the country’s history that such a high volume has been shipped in the month.

The country exported 1.1 million cubic metres of softwood logs overseas in January this year, up 32 percent on January 2017, according to data from Global Trade Information Services published in AgriHQ’s monthly forestry market report. That’s the highest level for the month since 2014 and only the second time volumes have exceeded 1 million for a January month. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand elects new chairman:

Southland sheep and beef farmer Andrew Morrison is the new Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) following a Board election on 23 March.

Morrison takes the Chair after four years on the Board representing the Southern South Island region.

Along with his wife Lisa, Morrison farms a total of 1030ha of breeding and finishing units spread between Southland and Otago.  . . 

Feds and all farmers will be relieved by M.Bovis decision:

The government’s decision to cull all the livestock on properties so far identified as having been contaminated by the Mycoplasma Bovis disease will be a huge relief for all drystock and dairy farmers.

Federated Farmers applauds the Ministry for Primary Industries decision announced today to continue the cull on all the 28 farms so far infected by the nasty disease.

“Basically what this says to us is that the government and MPI are still committed to trying to eradicate this disease. Their determination to do the best we can to get rid of it should be acknowledged by all farmers,” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ welcomes certainty for infected Mp.bovis properties:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has announced that all cattle on properties infected with the Mycoplasma bovis (Mp.bovis) cattle disease will be culled and the farmers’ losses compensated.

“The MPI decision that cattle on all infected properties will be culled provides clarity to farmers that have been living with this uncertainty,” said Dave Harrison, General Manager Policy and Advocacy at B+LNZ.

“This has been a very trying few months for affected farmers who have been restricted from trading, borne extra costs, and suffered worry and anxiety about the future. . . 

Details of FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Invercargill revealed:

In less than four months Invercargill will be buzzing with FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final fever.

The iconic agricultural competition marks its 50th anniversary this year, a milestone worthy of celebration.

The last of the seven grand finalists will be decided at the Otago/Southland Regional Final in Winton on April 21st.

A sell-out crowd is expected at ILT Stadium Southland for the main quiz and awards night in July. . . 

NZ Ag: B+LNZ  future meat report – great on detail, what’s the solution? – St John Craner:

I was eager to read this report. As eager as I am to read their much anticipated Red Meat Story (which by my best guess will be about the provenance of real meat, and rightly so because it’s their only point of difference). Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) should be applauded for commissioning such a thorough analysis on the challenge and opportunities from alternative protein. Its Future Meat Report is a solid piece of work that will be doing the stakeholder rounds and roadshows up and down the country as we speak. However having read it what are the next actions? And does it go far enough?

Its Executive Summary suggests, in regards to our story, “we just need to tell it better”. It’s too simplistic to say this. To be fair and credit the agency Antedote, they recognise this too as they go deeper explaining each of the different strategic scenarios and responses which offers the greatest value to readers.

Being ready for the threat of alternative proteins and their cashed-up Silicon Valley investors will take far more than having a good story.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2018

Paving the way for better wool returns – Peter McDonald:

Is another “wool boom” on its way?

Well that’s a bold question to ask considering the prices we are receiving at this present time for our crossbred wool. If we can park the present and try to look to the future we may find some green shoots of optimism regarding wool.

I’m not going to list off wool’s attributes as most reading this column fully understand them and to a large degree here lies the problem. We know these attributes well but an entire generation of consumers has lost the connection with wool as a fibre. These characteristics I believe should be more relevant in the near future to connected modern consumers who are highly choice savvy.

Why am I optimistic? A growing global movement is expanding rapidly around fixing plastic pollution in our oceans. David Attenborough’s appeal through emotive images has placed the plastic catastrophe in our oceans directly into millions of living rooms. . . 

Record export lamb prices nudge terms of trade to new high:

Record export lamb and butter prices helped boost New Zealand’s terms of trade by 0.8 percent in the December 2017 quarter, to another new high, Stats NZ said today.

Export meat prices rose 7.5 percent in the December 2017 quarter, mainly reflecting high lamb prices (up 12 percent).

Total export prices rose 4.9 percent, with dairy and forestry prices also contributing to the rise. . . 

South Canterbury arable farmers lose $30m from stubble-burn ban – Pat Deavoll:

A fire ban and wet autumn and winter may have cost Mid and South Canterbury’s arable farmers more than $30 million, with several of them showing losses of more than $500,000. 

“I think the $30m loss is true, I’ve done the same calculations. It’s cost me a considerable amount of money,” said Federated Farmers arable industry group Guy Wigley, who farms at Waimate.

Wigley said every week of autumn planting which had been delayed had cost him about a quarter of a tonne of yield . . 

Call for farmers to report high-risk animal purchases:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) urges dairy or beef farmers who believe they may have animals that could be at high risk for Mycoplasma bovis infection to make contact immediately.

The Ministry’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn, says MPI is accelerating its tracing and surveillance programme so that a decision whether to proceed with eradication can be made as soon as possible.

“Right now, we need to hear from any farmers who have bought cows and calves or milk for calf feed from farms that have been publicly identified as infected. . . 

Farmers must voice concerns – Neal Wallace:

The chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a Southlander who believes farming should not shy away from challenges or debate. He brought Neal Wallace up to date on what to expect when he takes over from James Parsons.

Andrew Morrison never intended having an involvement in farmer politics until he was drawn to make submissions on regional and district council plans.

Fearing councils could take control of riparian margins and strips and restrict cultivation on flood plains, Morrison lobbied to preserve landowners’ property rights and soon found himself involved with Federated Farmers.

It was an apprenticeship that taught him plenty and ultimately led to him being chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

High venison prices no big deal – Annette Scott:

European importers are starting to baulk at high New Zealand venison prices but it’s not a major concern – yet, Deer Industry NZ marketing manager Nick Taylor says.

“They are coming over here to negotiate export contracts saying it is very expensive but can we have some more.

“They still want it and they are still buying,” Taylor said.

But some importers are going home empty-handed, reluctant to pay the price some others, both from the United States and the European Union, are paying. . .

 

Richie McCaw’s flying milk run:

Fonterra provided nearly 20 million packs of milk free to 145,000 primary school students last year as part of its Milk for Schools scheme, now in its fifth year.

At the 2012 launch, 119 schools joined and last year 1431 schools took part.

To mark the fifth year, former All Black captain Richie McCaw will fly special helicopter milk runs to schools.

He will visit four schools selected from online entries saying why he should visit. Where possible, he will fly in to deliver milk. Local farmers will also be part of the visit. . .

Fonterra set to make further gains in global market with new Bangladesh partnership:

Fonterra is breaking new ground in South Asia’s rapidly growing dairy market, with the signing of a new distribution agreement that will make Anchor available to millions more consumers in Bangladesh. The deal is part of the Co-operative’s ongoing efforts to win in key overseas markets, by spreading the goodness of dairy nutrition.

The population of Bangladesh has grown by more than 10 per cent in the last 10 years reaching over 160 million people and it now makes up over two per cent of the world’s total population.  Matched by strong economic growth, consumers in Bangladesh are looking for affordable healthy nutrition options, such as high-quality dairy. 

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Sri Lanka and Indian Subcontinent, Sunil Sethi said Anchor is well placed to drive growth, while improving the wellbeing of Bangladeshis. . .

Joint venture company commences operations in Rolleston:

Pure Nutrition Ltd (PNL) the joint venture company formed by Ausnutria and Westland Milk Products, has commenced operation in the Izone business hub near Rolleston.

PNL is a stand-alone blending and canning company. It will can milk powders and other nutritional products sourced from Westland for Ausnutria and other customers. The company was established through an initial investment by Ausnutria of NZ$4.5million cash, and the transfer to Pure Nutrition of land owned by Westland at its Rolleston site, which had a value of NZ$3million. Ownership is 60% Ausnutria and 40% Westland Milk Products. . . 


Rural round-up

July 12, 2017

Young farmer win ‘still sinking in’ – Vaughan Elder:

Winning the title of Young Farmer of the Year was a dream come true for a Milton man who has fond memories of watching the competition as a child.

Sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead was named Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday night after three days of intense competition spread across Palmerston North and Feilding.

Winning the event was ”unbelievable” given the high standard of the six other finalists he was facing, Mr Woodhead said.

He won a prize worth almost $100,000, including a 25hp tractor, a quad bike and $15,000. . .

Inspirational farmers awarded – Andrew Morrison:

We all have people in our lives who inspire us.

They are often the unsung heroes who, through their words and actions, enrich our lives and make us want to be – and do – better.

They may be friends, family, work colleagues or teachers – or the neighbour who isn’t afraid to give things a go. They strive for excellence and lead by example.

Over the past year Southland has been fortunate to host many of agriculture’s most inspirational people. We saw the skills of the world’s-best shearers and wool handlers on display at the World Shearing Championships in January and in May we hosted the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ National Showcase. . .

Dairy hub set to open – Sally Rae:

The Southern Dairy Hub at Makarewa, near Invercargill, will be officially opened on Friday.
The hub, which includes a working dairy farm and centre for science and research, will allow farmer-led and local issues to be researched on southern soils, in southern conditions.

DairyNZ and AgResearch are the principal shareholders, investing $5 million each, while local farmers and businesses contributed a further $1.25 million through the Southern Dairy Development Trust. . . 

Southland farmers concerned proposed Water and Land Plan will cut land use – Brittany Pickett:

Ian and Heather Smith are worried they could lose the use of up to a quarter of their farm if the Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan remains unchanged.

The couple run Erme Hill, at Waimahaka, in Southland, a 413 hectare rolling country dairy and sheep farm and are in the Bedrock/Hill Country physiographic zone.

They have 480 dairy cows, 700 ewes and 650 hoggets and winter almost all of their stock on the farm. . .

Southern entries vie for top steak award:

Several Southern entries are among the finalists in this year’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition.

Judging will be held this week at Auckland’s University of Technology with the winners announced at an awards dinner in Auckland on July 20.

Ceri Lewis (Otautau) and Dougal Stringer (Gore) are both finalists in best of British breed (Angus), Laurie Paterson (Gore) is a finalist in best of British breed (Hereford), and Anita Erskine (Tuatapere) is a finalist in best of British breed (other) with a Shorthorn entry.

Bowmont Meats, in Invercargill, is in the final of best of brand-retail with a Hereford Prime entry. . .

British adults shun dairy farm labour – sector could be threatened if EU labour cut

Questions have been raised over the future of the dairy industry after only 4 per cent of UK adults said they considered all key aspects of work on dairy farms ‘personally acceptable’.

Industry chiefs sounded warning bells over the industry’s ‘image problem’, but said the domestic workforce could not be relied on to plug labour shortages.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) highlighted that of the 2,000 people questioned, many were put off by a role when linked to the dairy industry – such as working with animals or jobs situated in rural locations – with only 9 per cent of skilled or qualified UK adults confident they would consider a job in dairy. . . 


Rural round-up

May 25, 2017

Top dairy woman says industry must ponder its future – Pam Tipa:

A major issue facing the dairy industry is “how much to grow,” says the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Jessie Chan-Dorman.

“What is a sustainable growth aspiration for our industry? [We need to] actually put a stake in the ground about what sustainable growth looks like,” Chan-Dorman told Rural News.

“That conversation [is needed] not just among ourselves but – like it or not – with all the wider parties, the New Zealand public, who have an interest in where the dairy industry is heading. . .

Event manager carves out dairy career niche – Sudesh Kissun:

The first solo woman winner of the Dairy Manager of the Year title, Hayley Hoogendyk, hopes to be a role model for others switching to a career in farming.

Hoogendyk (28) left her job as an events manager and took up dairy farming five years ago.

In March she won the Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year competition; earlier this month she was crowned the national winner at the Dairy Industry Awards final in Auckland.

Hoogendyk told Rural News she had not expected to win. . .

Milk price great news:

Today’s Fonterra milk price forecast of $6.50 for the 2017-18 season, coupled with the revised price of $6.15 for the current season, is great news for dairy farmers, says DairyNZ.

It is great news too for the country as it will boost the regional and national economies.

While welcoming the forecast increase, DairyNZ’s chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says he needs to challenge farmers to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.

“By this I mean that farmers need to take advantage of the milk price increases to pay down debt, and carry out the likes of deferred maintenance,” he says. . .

Fonterra forecast signals dairy industry revival:

The revival in fortunes of dairy farmers has been highlighted today by Fonterra’s announcement that they are increasing the milk price for the current season-lifting its payout from $6.00 to $6.15/kg milksolids for the year ending 30 May 2017.

Fonterra’s favourable forecast wasn’t unexpected and reflects the recent trend of increasing global dairy prices, which has fostered more confidence amongst the markets.

“Many dairy farmers throughout the country will be enjoying their lunch today. This is great news and comes after a turbulent few years where the industry has been under the pump,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chair. . .

Higher milk pay-out puts $3.5bn into farmers’ pockets – Fonterra – Alexa Cook:

A milk pay-out of $6.15 a kilogram of milk solids this season will give farmers an extra $3.5 billion compared to last season, says Fonterra.

The co-operative has lifted its pay-out for the season by 15 cents and announced an opening forecast for next season of $6.50 kg/ms.

Milk prices have come a long way from last season’s pay-out of $3.90, and the dairy index is now at its highest in about three years. . .

Ways to keep nutrients out of waterways – Nicole Sharp:

How can we reduce sediment, phosphorus and E. coli getting in to waterways?

AgResearch scientist Tom Orchiston put the question to farmers along with giving advice on good management practices onfarm at Dairy NZ’s Farmers Forum on May 4.

Sediment in waterways reduced the habitat and disrupted the eco-system in streams, he said. . . 

Lewis shows her class – Alan Williams:

Vivienne Lewis is responsible for the results of one of the biggest shearing jobs in New Zealand and the work has won her the NZ Wool Classers Association crossbred wool merit award.

Her team handled the shearing of the 30,000 ewes, 10,000 two-tooths, 12,000 lambs and 700 rams on the sprawling Ngamatea Station near Taihape in the central North Island.

It was a very big clip and the Canterbury Wool Scour-sponsored award was won for the manner of its preparation and classing and presented at the association’s annual meeting in Christchurch in mid-May. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand confirms board positions:

The Directors of Beef + Lamb New Zealand have re-elected Northland farmer James Parsons as the Chairman for another year.

Parsons has been the Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand since 2014 and has represented the Northern North Island as its Farmer Director since 2009.

The Board has also elected Gore farmer, and Southern South Island Farmer Director Andrew Morrison, as the Deputy Chairman, when it met for its May meeting. . .


Rural round-up

December 21, 2016

Blister protection product designed by Tekapo 21-year-old takes off – Esther Ashby-Conventry:

Fed up with watching his blistered clients being airlifted half way through their once-in-lifetime trip, a 21-year-old former mountain guide has developed a protective product made from merino wool.

Lucas Smith, of Tekapo, has just signed a national distribution deal with retail giant Torpedo 7, and headed overseas this week to work on the development of a new product.

Smith grew up in Timaru and went to Waihi School in Winchester before boarding at Christ’s College in Christchurch for his high school years. He dropped out of Victoria University half way through studying for a degree in anthropology and political science in 2014 to try software application.

Working as a tramping guide for visitors on the Routebourn and Milford tracks for the next two years was the catalyst for Smith to re-interprete an old technique for blister protection using the hyperfine wool of merino sheep and his life went in a totally different direction. . . .

Agriculture’s rebirth as the next sunrise industry – Steve Carden:

At the start of this month, a story ran that worried that New Zealand was on the road to becoming the “Detroit of agriculture”.

It was a provocative headline to a piece outlining the technologies that are disrupting and going to further challenge farming. The author was right. Some of these innovations are quite remarkable, and signal a shift in how food can be produced, as the world grapples with needing more food for more people with an already stressed environment.

But the irony of comparing Detroit with NZ agriculture is quite delicious. Because out of the fossils of Detroit’s waning car industry is the rebirth of the city based on urban farming. From the derelict unused buildings and empty lots are springing up a host of vertical farming companies and urban farming co-operatives. Detroit is emerging as a leader in urban farming. Detroit is being reborn, and the seeds of that rebirth are literal ones. . . 

Rampant rates a sore point with farmers:

Farmers are questioning the priorities and fiscal discipline of New Zealand’s councils as rates takes continue to outstrip cost indexes.

Analysis by Federated Farmers shows the consumers’ price index (CPI) went up 21% between 2006-2016. Local authorities have argued the Local Authority Cost Index prepared by consultants BERL is a fairer measure of cost pressures on local government, and that went up 33% during the past decade.

Both measures are dwarfed by the average 77 percent hike in rates by our 13 city, 54 district and 11 regional councils. New Zealand’s population went up by about 12% in the same period, with consequent growth in the rating base, but Local Government NZ had no figures on how much. . . 

Primary sector outlook stable says MPI – Nick Clark:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released its latest Situation & Outlook for the Primary Industries. 

It considers the outlook across the primary sector to be stable for the current year, as the dairy industry begins to rebound from 2016’s low and growth continues for the horticulture and forestry sectors. However, this is offset by a forecast 10.8 percent decline in meat and wool exports.

Total export revenue is forecast to be $36.7 billion for the year to June 2017, down $0.3 billion from the previous year.

Looking ahead, MPI is forecasting export growth of 5.4 percent per year from 2016 to 2021, when it expects primary sector exports to be $47.9 billion.  Much of the growth will be for dairy products, expected to rise by $7.3 billion (or 55.4 percent) to reach $20.7 billion.  Forestry, horticulture and seafood are all expected to continue posting steady growth over the next five years. . . 

World dairy prices trimmed at GlobalDairyTrade auction – Gerard Hutching:

As the futures market predicted earlier this week, world dairy prices have flat lined following the overnight global dairy auction. 

Nevertheless, after a year when prices for whole milk powder (WMP) soared from US$1952 in January to US$3568 last night, farmers will be able to pop the champagne corks this Christmas – or at the least methode champenoise. 

Federated Farmers dairy spokesman Andrew Hoggard said he had a bottle stored away which he would pull out on Christmas morning.  . . 

No end is sight with compliance demands – Lyn Webster:

Having been a dairy farmer for a long number of years, I have to say I regularly feel put upon by the pressing and never ending demands for compliance in my day-to-day activities.

It is like people or agencies are constantly monitoring my activities, poised to criticise or fine me at my every move. The constant pressure of this actually makes me feel physically ill, despite the fact that I have not actually committed any wrongdoing to date.

Here are two annoying incidents that have happened and expose the confusion and rigmarole surrounding all the red tape that wastes the time and energy I should be expending on my business. . . 

Milk bubbling, beef off the boil – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Another year draws to a close.

We have a New Prime Minister, Bill English, but I feel just the same. Maybe when Bill has a change in the Cabinet next week things may feel different.

These are tough times for those in North Canterbury and the Kaikoura Coast. Keep your chins up as best you can.

At last, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for the unfortunate dairy sector of the last couple of years and now the prospect of at least breaking even for many and a nice little profit for those savvy folks with low-cost production and little debt, which are mostly the mum and dad operations. . . 

Meat exports continue to fall:

Beef and lamb exports fell in November, as the amount of meat sold dropped heavily compared with last year’s record season, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Meat and edible offal exports fell $158 million (31 percent) from November 2015, contributing to a $219 million (5.4 percent) fall in overall exports.

Beef exports fell 41 percent in value and 31 percent in quantity, and lamb exports fell 27 percent in value and 23 percent in quantity.

“Beef exports to the United States, our top beef export destination, fell by around half when compared to November last year” senior manager Jason Attewell said. “When compared to the same month of the previous year, the value of beef exports to the US have fallen in nearly every month since October 2015, only rising once in April 2016.” . . 

New Zealand Set to Dazzle the World with a New Apple Variety:

New Zealand is set to dazzle the world with a new apple variety which has been launched today by Fruitcraft, after being licensed the worldwide rights by Prevar Ltd.

The apple variety PremA129, which will be marketed and known as Dazzle®, is expected to be one of the biggest apple variety launches since Royal Gala decades ago. All New Zealand apple growers will be able to grow Dazzle, and all fruit exporters will be able to sell it.

Dazzle is a large, red, sweet apple which has taken 20 years to develop by Plant & Food Research (PFR) at their research station in Havelock North. . . 

Multiple prosecutions likely after MPI makes series of large-scale paua busts:

Ministry for Primary Industries fishery officers have returned almost 600 undersized paua to the sea near Napier after several large-scale paua busts that occurred over one day.

Team Manager Eastern & Lower North Island, Mike Green, says a routine day last Friday turned into one of a steady stream of discoveries of people taking excess paua as well as undersized paua at Tangoio Beach.

“Officers were involved in at least five incidents over a matter of a few hours where people were caught with very large amounts of paua, most of which didn’t meet the minimum size requirements,” says Mr Green. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Directors elected unopposed:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Directors George Tatham (Eastern North Island) and Andrew Morrison (Southern South Island) have been elected unopposed to the Board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

In line with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Constitution, Tatham and Morrison were to retire by rotation at next year’s annual meeting.

Electionz.com who conducted the election for Beef + Lamb New Zealand said both directors had signalled their intention to seek re-election and had been returned unopposed. . . 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2016

Industry condemns skipper’s actions:

Seafood New Zealand supports the prosecution of a commercial fishing boat skipper over the death of albatross at sea.

“Industry is very disappointed in this skipper’s actions that were totally out of line. We support the Ministry for Primary Industries in the action they have taken against him,” says Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst.

“There is no excuse for his behaviour. He was required to use a tori line, a device using streamers to scare off birds. . . 

Dairy price effect still hurting NZ SMEs:

The dairy downturn is still having an impact on small to medium enterprises in many parts of the country, although there are definite green shoots in the economy according to the latest MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Monitor Survey.

More than one third (34 per cent) of all agribusinesses have been affected by low dairy prices in the past six months, with 12 per cent saying the impact is ‘very negative’.

For the many businesses connected to the agricultural economy, that remains a problem. Compared to a national average of 39 per cent, just 25 per cent of rural SMEs saw their revenues improve in the last 12 months, according to the latest Business Monitor, and 24 per cent reported a decline in income over the period. . . 

New Zealand farming leaders check in on Brexit:

Britain’s arrangements for leaving the European Union (EU) by the summer of 2019 and progress towards an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement, will be on the agenda when Beef + Lamb New Zealand meets British and EU farming representatives during a northern hemisphere visit.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons and Southern South Island farmer director Andrew Morrison are in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to meet with New Zealand’s farming counterparts, to discuss areas of common interest including lamb consumption and maintaining year-round supply for European consumers. . . 

$3m in new projects for High-Value Nutrition:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge is investing $3 million in its Consumer Insights and Science of Food research programmes.

“The research into high-value nutrition is hugely important in moving our food production from volume to value”, Mr Joyce says.  “These projects will help product development that brings maximum returns for New Zealand food exporters.”

The Consumer Insights research programme is focused on understanding consumers’ beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours.

“Up to $1.5 million has been allocated to research the science of consumers, with a focus on health and wellness needs of Asian consumers. It will research what is needed to establish a habitual consumption of high-value nutritional foods, which is vital in ensuring investment is directed in areas that will resonate most with consumers. . . 

Ancient sheep breed alive and well in Wimbledon – Christine McKay:

Jacob sheep are an ancient breed with their story appearing in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

For Wimbledon farmer, Brian Hales, the story of the Jacob sheep is something special.
“Their story and how they came to be in New Zealand, is truly magnificent,” he said.

Jacobs are brown sheep with white spots or white sheep with brown spots. Their breed, Manx Loughtun, is unique for having one, two or three sets of horns. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards offer benefits to farm owners and employers:

Excitement is building as the date for entries to open for the 2017 The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries nears. Entries for the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be accepted online at dairyindustryawards.co.nz from October 20 and will close on November 30, with Early Bird entries closing at midnight on November 9.

The Awards encourage best practice and the sharing of excellence and also identify and promote the dairy industry’s future leaders. They enable people to progress through the awards as a person progresses through the dairy industry – from farm worker to herd manager, farm manager and contract milker to share milker.

The Awards are supported by DairyNZ, De Laval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridan Energy, Ravensdown, Westpac and industry partner Primary ITO. . . 

Sanford gets Marlborough innovation award – Tracey Neal:

Sanford fishing company’s Marlborough operation has received a civic award more than a year after major job losses at the company.

Its Havelock processing facility is one of the largest in New Zealand, employing 300 people and contributing around $15 million annually to the local economy in salary and wages.

The company’s mussel processing operation in Havelock was yesterday given the Marlborough Award, last presented in 2006, which recognises significant contribution to the district through innovation. . . 

Fonterra Moves to Reduce Sugar Content in Kids’ Yoghurt – Anchor Uno:

Fonterra’s Anchor Uno now contains the lowest levels of sugar (per 100 grams) in any kids’ yoghurt brand in New Zealand, with 40 per cent less sugar than the original Uno formulation.

Good nutrition is important for growing children as they are developing nutritional habits that can continue throughout their lives. The Anchor team recognise this and has come up with a way to provide a healthier alternative that kids still enjoy.

Anchor Cultured Brand Manager Nicola Carroll says Anchor is committed to continuously improving its product portfolio to reduce the use of added sugars without compromising the quality, taste and texture of the product. . . 

A day down on the farm: Owl Farm’s first Annual Public Open Day:

Owl Farm in Cambridge is opening its gates to urban communities for its inaugural Open Day on Saturday 15 October, 11am until 4pm.

The theme, ‘From our grass to your glass, how your milk is made’, aims to close the gap between town and country by giving the communities in which Owl Farm operates an up-close experience of a working dairy farm.

“It’s vitally important that the dairy industry engage and demonstrate what dairy is all about, and where our milk comes from,” says Demonstration Manager Doug Dibley. “The event will be a fantastic opportunity for a fun and educational day on the farm for the whole family”. . . 

Auditing Stock – A crucial component to mitigating stock losses:

The recent theft of 500 dairy cows has been another harsh wake up call for the industry as farmers consider if they are taking the right precautions in protecting their second largest asset. Michael Lee, an agribusiness audit specialist at Crowe Horwath, advises how the introduction of simple systems can mitigate potential theft.

The Federated Farmers’ dairy industry chairperson, Andrew Hoggard points out if a bank was robbed there would be uproar, but police don’t tend to see stock as cold, hard cash.

Lee agrees saying, “Stock theft is extremely important for farmers as not only do they lose their capital when stock is stolen, which for a dairy cow can be up to $2,000, they also suffer the loss of revenue from that stock.” . . 

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Rural round-up

December 24, 2013

Proactive approach prevents dog fight – Sheryl Brown:

As a battle about water quality rages between farmers and regional councils throughout New Zealand, a group of farmers in the Lake Rerewhakaaitu catchment have drawn nationwide attention through a proactive approach.

Nestled under Mount Tarawera, Lake Rerewhakaaitu is the southernmost of the 12 Rotorua lakes and is surrounded predominantly by dairy farms.

In 2001 a report by Bay of Plenty Regional Council showed nutrient levels in streams flowing into the lake were increasing.

The report suggested tightening dairy disposal consent conditions and setting a ceiling level of nitrogen fertiliser application. . .

Talley’s to lift Open Country stake to as much as 70.5%:

(BusinessDesk) – Talley’s Group, the privately-held maker of foods ranging from frozen fish to ice cream, agreed to buy up to 14.99 percent of Open Country Dairy from Singapore’s Olam International for as much as $46.5 million.

The deal would lift Talley’s holding of the dairy company to as much as 70.5 percent from 55.5 percent, increasing its control of a business that returned to profit in 2012 while tapping shareholders for funds to repay debt. The sale price is close to the current carrying value of the investment in Olam’s accounts, it said.

Olam’s stake would reduce to as low as 10 percent, leaving it as the second-largest shareholder just ahead of Dairy Investment Fund on 9.99 percent. Talley’s is required to make a partial takeover offer under the terms of the Takeovers Code and its transaction with Olam will be a combination of direct sale of shares and acceptance of the offer, Olam said. . .

Santa delivers farmers the perfect weather present:

While holidaymakers may not be relishing widespread rain over Christmas, it will certainly bring a smile to many farmers one-third of the way into summer.

“The guy in the big red suit is delivering farmers the best present; widespread rain,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson.

“Farmers won’t have an excuse to get out on-farm but will instead have to get stuck into wrapping last minute presents. Aside from essential jobs on-farm, a few day’s weather enforced relaxation with family is the best way to recharge the batteries. . .

Scholar slams stubble burning as bad for soil – Tim Cronshaw:

A Nuffield scholar visiting Canterbury, who would never burn crop stubble on his farm, has criticised the worldwide practice.

Arable farmer Tom Sewell, who grows crops on a 400-hectare farm in southeast England, was one of two scholarship holders studying the long-term benefits of no-tillage in New Zealand.

He left for Australia a week ago convinced farmers could avoid stubble burning, banned in his home country.

“There are loads of problems with it. In the UK it would be a [non-runner] in public relations and would be a shot in the foot. The public perception is it’s bad for the environment, creating carbon dioxide and it’s burning a valuable carbon source for the soil and losing organic carbon.” . .

30 animals on offer at NZ’s first annual game sale

The efforts of South Canterbury man Neville Cunningham, to have game animals such as red deer and white tahr recognised as being of value rather than simply termed a pest to be eradicated, came to fruition yesterday when he staged New Zealand’s first annual game animal sale.

The sale, held at his Timaru property, offered 30 animals by tender including a black tahr and a white tahr, chamois, trophy elk bulls, trophy red stags, a highland bull, two bison and arapawa rams.

All the animals have been bred by Mr Cunningham at one of his two properties, at Timaru or Aoraki/Mt Cook and some, such as the white tahr, have come from animals originally recovered from the bush, but now part of a managed breeding programme. . .

Two new farmer directors elected to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board:

Two new farmer directors will join the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board after the annual meeting in Feilding on 14 March 2014.

They are Waikaka Valley farmer, Andrew Morrison who will represent the Southern South Island electorate and Wairarapa farmer, George Tatham who will represent the Eastern North Island electorate.

They were both elected unopposed.

They replace Beef + Lamb New Zealand directors who had not sought re-election. . .

Bumper crop boosts NZ apple and pear exports:

The largest crop in nearly 10 years has allowed apple and pear growers to crack the $500 million mark for exports.

The pipfruit industry believes the result has placed it on track to reach its export target of $1 billion by 2022.

Pipfruit New Zealand Incorporated (PNZI) chief executive Alan Pollard said the economic impact of apple and pear exports on regions was “extraordinary”.

“North Island centres such as Hawke’s Bay received $350m in export receipts, up $100m on 2012, and South Island centres such as Nelson have received $150m, $50m more than 2012,” he said. . .

The master has not finished just yet – Hugh Stringleman:

The world’s greatest competition shearer believes he has at least one more successful year left in him.

Five-time world champion David Fagan, 52, wants to add to his tallies of 16 titles each at the Golden Shears and New Zealand Shearing Championships.

At the Te Kuiti-based NZ championships David has reached the open final 28 out of 29 times, and the 30th edition in March will provide the best-possible stage for his last hurrah. . .

How do politicians manage to believe such things? – Tim Worstall:

I’m slightly boggled by this statement:

Tim Farron, South Lakes MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary hill farming group, said: “We need to do all we can to support our farming industry, particularly in the uplands where life can be a real struggle. This support and funding could make a massive difference to upland farmers throughout Cumbria and help show the next generation that there is a real future in a career in farming.”

It appears to me to be an example of cognitive dissonance. For we’re also being told this about that same occupation: . .

Vineyards on sustainable, diverse path:

A rapid rise in exports fuelled New Zealand wine industry growth in the 1990s and the industry recognised it needed a proactive approach to sustainable production.

Considerable research led to a holistic programme that eventually became known as Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.

All but 6% of NZ’s producing vineyard area is certified under the Sustainable Winegrowing NZ approach, with a further 3-5% of operating under certified organic programmes.

Members are committed to protecting the unique places that make the country’s famous wines by reducing the use of chemicals, energy, water, and packaging and wherever possible reusing and recycling material and waste. . .


Rural round-up

June 1, 2013

Dairy company looks to process all year round:

Westland Milk Products says its move into higher value nutritional products is paying off with increased orders.

The company makes a range of protein products, buttermilk powder and anhydrous milk fat (AMF).

The dairy co-operative commissioned a new infant formula plant at its Hokitika base last year which will continue processing through June and July to meet the orders it is getting.

The company is also encouraging some of its farmers to milk all year round to make better use of its processing facilities. . .

Central Plains water users to raise $56m

Shareholders of Central Plains Water, set up to draw water for irrigation from Canterbury’s Rakaia and Waimakiriri rivers, have indicated their commitment to the equity component of a looming $140 million capital raising.

The equity component has not yet been finalised but is likely to be 30 percent to 40 percent of the total, chief executive Derek Crombie says. That means shareholders would be tapped for up to $56 million. The company expects to lodge a prospectus by the end of June.

“We’ve approached all the shareholders and have indicative commitments at the 95 percent level,” Mr Crombie told BusinessDesk. The final funding split will depend on feedback from banks and other financiers “but indications from banks are that it’s do-able”. . .

Salmonella hits southern farmers – Annette Scott:

An outbreak of salmonella has left hundreds of sheep dead and many Southland farmers devastated.

“This has been very debilitating for the farmers whose farms have been hit. It is a frustrating thing to get caught in, demoralising and gutting for farmers already struggling with low returns,” Gore sheep and beef farmer Andrew Morrison said.

Morrison’s farm has not been affected but two neighbouring properties have.

“And that leaves farmers asking the question, what have I done wrong? They have done nothing wrong. That is the nature of farming – it can be hellish,” Morrison said. . .

Joe Ludwig launches national food plan to grow industry – Samantha Hawley:

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has unveiled a new plan designed to grow the local food industry and put Australia on the world food map.

First promised in the 2010 election campaign, the National Food Plan includes a multi-million-dollar research fund to help Australian producers capitalise on the so-called Asian “dining boom”.

There is also funding to better brand Australian food exports.

“It’s about helping domestic opportunities find connections in Asia,” Mr Ludwig said. . .

Finding Francoise – Moon Over Martinborough:

“Jared, I have bad news for you,” CJ said.  “Francoise is missing.”

I stared at CJ in disbelief. I had just come back to the property after a week away for work. “Francoise? Missing? What do you mean?”

CJ shook his head. “I’ve looked everywhere. I haven’t seen her in two days.”

“That’s impossible. She can’t just be gone. I mean, chickens don’t just disappear without a trace.” . .


Rural round-up

September 15, 2012

NZ being denied role as leader in biotechnology: Rolleston – Gerald Piddock:

Timid political will is stopping New Zealand from becoming a global leader in biotechnology, according to farming leader-scientist Dr Williams Rolleston. 

    As scientists worked to feed billions more humans opportunities existed for the country to show leadership in biotechnology without causing environmental degradation. 

“By any measure New Zealand ought to be a leader. No, it should be the leader. The fact we are not comes back to a timid political will,” he told an international conference on agricultural biotechnology in Rotorua. . .

Savings vet’s carrot for pig vaccination – Shawn McAvinue:

A Southland vet wants to spread the cost of vaccinating pigs to stop the spread of a deadly disease in humans. 

    Vet South Gore veterinarian Anne Gelling said all the pigs in Southland should be vaccinated to protect humans from leptospirosis. 

    Leptospirosis spread when pigs’ urine came in contact with human skin, eyes or mucous membranes, Dr Gelling said. 

    People become ill after about three to 14 days later. . .

Time now right for farmers, processors to talk – Rob Tipa:

Southland farming leader Andrew Morrison believes the time is right for farmers to talk with their meat companies about Red Meat Sector Strategy initiatives and what appetite both parties have to make changes to future-proof their industry. 

Mr Morrison, who is Southland Federated Farmers’ meat and wool section chairman, said southern sheep farmers and meat companies had experienced two very tough seasons in a row. 

In September 2010, spring snowstorms caused heavy lamb losses in Southland, the Catlins and South Otago and last spring was wet and just as challenging with similar lambing percentages to the previous year of the storm. . .

Dairy union talks action over layoffs – Al Williams:

The New Zealand Dairy Workers Union is considering legal action against Fonterra after eight staff members at the Waimate milk processing plant were given marching orders on Monday. 

    It follows Fonterra’s acquisition of the former New Zealand Dairies operation last week. 

    New Zealand Dairies was placed in receivership in May owing a substantial amount to its supplier farmers. 

    New Zealand Dairy Workers Union southern organiser Murray Kerse said the union was looking at a case for discrimination. . .

Disasters on farms ‘different‘ – Jill Galloway:

Farmers have a different view when it comes to natural disasters, said chairwoman of the Rural Family Support Trust Margaret Millard. 

    She said that in times of floods or earthquakes, farmers were concerned about their family and staff, but also about their stock. 

    “If it floods, they want to shift stock to higher ground before they leave. 

    “Farmers often take a broader view, urban dwellers often take a very people perspective,” Millard said. 

    Rural support trusts are giving their backing to the upcoming Civil Defence “Shakeout” earthquake drill at 9.26am on September 26. . .

Biofuels NZ not ‘mismanaged’ – Gerald Piddock:

The global economic downturn and poor decisions around land use fuelled by the desire to expand quickly led to the failure of profitability for Biodiesel New Zealand, a former senior employee says.

David Geary, who worked as national field operations manager for Biodiesel New Zealand from 2007-2010, said the economic environment meant it was not the ideal time to be starting a biofuel business.

‘‘I think the economics of the fuel industry and the economic downturn worldwide had quite a major impact for a fledgling start-up business.’’  

However he said he was confident the biofuel industry in New Zealand would survive. . .

In search of Australia’s dairy sweetspot – Dr Jon Hauser & Neil Lane:

In the previous two articles I have written about the value of flat milk supply to processors and “the market”. The articles also showed how milk pricing mechanisms have been used to pull southeast Australian milk towards a flatter milk supply curve. In this third article of the series I’ll take a look at the topic from the farmer’s perspective – what are the cost / benefit implications for a farmer who chooses to flatten their milk supply.

To write this article I have enlisted the support of Neil Lane – a dairy farmer consultant and member of the Intelact farm advisory group (www.intelact.com). Neil’s clients include some of the more profitable and successful farmers in southeast Australia and he is well respected for his theoretical and practical understanding of dairy farm economics and management. . .


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