Rural round-up

October 14, 2019

Get on with it – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Politicians might be slow acting on climate change but retailers and consumers who buy New Zealand produce aren’t and they expect Kiwi farmers to reduce their carbon footprint, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

He urges food producers to stop arguing about details and start reducing carbon emissions to preserve demand in lucrative markets.

“It is very real in-market,” he said.

Peterson said “If people think this is being dreamed up by NZ politicians to get at NZ farmers then you need to think again.”

It is being driven by those who buy our food.

“Companies and consumers are driving climate change. . . 

Number of natives under one billions trees anyone’s guess -Eloise Gibson:

How many of the one billion trees planted in the next decade will be native species? Government tree planting agency Te Uru Rakau has clarified that it can’t hazard an estimate. 

The Government’s tree planting agency, Te Uru Rakau, says it can’t estimate what proportion of the one billion trees programme will be native species, saying a previous figure it gave to Newsroom was meant to be purely “illustrative”.

The illustrative figure was used to calculate the estimated climate benefit from the tree scheme, which Te Uru Rakau has put at 384 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the trees’ lifetimes. . . 

Bunds offer phosphorus solution – Richard Rennie:

Capturing phosphate in water spilling off farm catchments has been made easier thanks to work done by a Rotorua farmer group and a doctoral student who have developed detainment bunds on trial properties.

A field day later this month gives farmers the chance to look at work that has largely been under the radar but offers a practical, farmer-focused solution to improving water quality. Richard Rennie spoke to the group’s project manager John Paterson.

While nitrogen mitigation has played on the minds of most regional councils and many farmers, phosphorus losses are also required, under the Government’s latest water quality rules, to be measured and curtailed.  . . 

Exotic breeds offer genetic diversity – Yvonne O”Hara:

Anieka and Nick Templer like a bit of variety in their dairy herd, adding panda-eyed, triple-cross Montbeliarde, Normande, Fleckvieh and Aussie Reds to their mix.

They are are 50/50 sharemilkers on 230ha near Balfour, with 630 cows, and they are targeting 500kgMS/cow and 330,000kgMS production this season. Their herd includes 35 pedigree Ayrshires.

The 2015 Southland/Otago Farm Manager of the Year winners have daughter Maycie (5) and employ two Filipino staff: Emman Orendain and David Lupante.

Mrs Templer grew up on a dairy farm and has always been interested in the more unusual cattle breeds. . . 

‘If we lose these communities we won’t get them back‘ :

AgForce Queensland chief executive Michael Guerin says “if we lose these communities, we won’t get them back”, as “unprecedented” drought conditions continue to affect Australian farmers.

Hundreds of drought-stricken farmers have reportedly stopped receiving payments in the past two years, through a government assistance program, after having reached the four-year limit.

Under the allowance, more than 1,300 households are given $489 a fortnight.

“This federal government is working with us, trying to work with communities that are in incredible trouble” Mr Guerin told Sky News host Paul Murray. . . 

The latest flip-flop on red meat uses best science in place of best guesses – Nina Teicholz:

Eggs are bad; eggs are good. Fat is bad; fat is good. Meat is bad; meat is… OK?

That last food flip-flop made big headlines last week. It was a “remarkable turnabout,” “jarring,” “stunning.” How, it was asked, could seemingly bedrock nutrition advice turn on a dime?

The answer is that many of the nation’s official nutrition recommendations — including the idea that red meat is a killer — have been based on a type of weak science that experts have unfortunately become accustomed to relying upon. Now that iffy science is being questioned. At stake are deeply entrenched ideas about healthy eating and trustworthy nutrition guidelines, and with many scientists invested professionally, and even financially, in the status quo, the fight over the science won’t be pretty.

Red meat is a particularly contentious topic because people have such strong objections to eating meat for a variety of reasons: the environment, animal rights and even religion (Seventh-day Adventists advise against it). . . .


Rural round-up

September 21, 2019

New water policies will hobble farmers – Simon Davies:

Farmers are being hamstrung by well-meaning but poorly targeted regulation, writes Simon Davies of Otago Federated Farmers.

Today, while crutching my breeding rams, I was considering the latest policy package from central government.

To be fair there was not a lot of constructive thought undertaken, as this task is a fairly intense activity as those of you who have done it know. For those of you who have not, crutching rams (removing the wool around the tail and between the legs for hygiene purposes) is a bit like wrestling 80 to 100kg sacks of potatoes that fight back.

As I was struggling with a sore back, the term hamstrung came to mind. . .

How did farmers become public enemy number one? – Rachael Kelly:

Last November, Southland dairy farmer Jason Herrick contemplated taking his own life.

A wet spring had turned his farm to mud, his family was “going through some stuff” and anti-farming messages on social media all affected his self-worth.

They’re our number one export producers, an industry that was once seen as the proud back-bone of the nation.

But farmers are almost becoming ashamed of what they do because they’re being attacked from all fronts, Herrick says. . . .

No quick change to farm systems – Pam Tipa::

People don’t appreciate how difficult it is to change farm systems quickly, says Pāmu chief executive Steven Carden.

“They are difficult biological systems and people who are not in farming expect you to be able to switch on the new system overnight,” he told Dairy News.

“It takes a long time to get those changes right, to embed the new technologies in farm systems to make them work effectively. Farmers fundamentally are small business people who can’t risk their entire business with a big shift in how they operate one year to the next. . .

They like you – Luke Chivers:

Public perceptions of farming are more positive than farmers think, a survey shows.

“The strong theme we have heard from farmers in the past is that they do not feel well-liked by their urban counterparts. However, when you poll the general population, this is simply not true,” UMR research executive director Marc Elliot says.

UMR surveyed more than 1000 people last month and found the response at odds with the view held by many in primary industries. 

New Zealanders are almost five times as likely to hold a positive view of sheep and beef farming than a negative one, the research showed. . .

Tractor protest on Saturday – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland farmers have been asked to join a tractor protest over the costs and effects of Government regulations.

Protest organiser and dairy farmer Mark Dawson said the event will be on the southern side of Ruawai township in the Kaipara District between 11am and 1pm on Saturday.

It will be a symbolic protest aimed at what he believes will be the horrendous effects on farming of the proposed freshwater legislation.

Northland MP Matt King, National, has promised support along with Kaipara mayor and beef farmer Jason Smith. . .

ORC candidates quizzed on future of farming :

How do candidates standing for the Otago Regional Council see the future of farming in Otago? That question and others has been posed to all candidates by Southern Rural Life ahead of next month’s local body election. It is shaping up to be an interesting election, with 28 people vying for 12 positions.

All candidates were asked by Southern Rural Life to respond to the following questions and their responses are below (responses were not received from Matt Kraemer, Andrew Noone, Gail May-Sherman and Gordon Dickson)

Question 1
Why are you standing for council?

Question 2
How do you see the future of farming in Otago?

Question 3
Good management practice and improvements to some farming activities will be needed if Otago’s water aspirations are to be achieved. What approach to regulation and rules do you support and where do you think partnerships,  incentives and industry support might fit in (if at all)?

Question 4
Do you think there should be discretion for regional councils to determine local solutions for local issues or should a centralized response always apply instead? . . .

c


Rural round-up

September 11, 2019

Ten water questions for Jacinda Ardern and Todd Muller – Jamie Mackay:

Today the Country’s Jamie Mackay has 10 questions on the Government’s freshwater proposals for National’s Primary Industries spokesman Todd Muller. Tomorrow, he will ask Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the same 10 questions.

Comment: Everyone wants cleaner waterways. It’s how we get there that’s the contentious bit for me.

But first, I have to declare an interest here. As the host of a rural radio show on Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport, I have a vested interest in going into bat for the primary sector and I’m personally heavily invested in it.

I’m also in the privileged position of having a nationwide radio show that infiltrates urban New Zealand, one of very few such voices. . .

Robots, trees and pushbikes – farming’s ‘bright’ future – Pete Fitz-Herbert:

Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert takes a tongue in cheek look at the future of New Zealand agriculture.

The future is bright.

There is so much negativity around at the moment I thought I would look forward positively to the bright future that awaits New Zealand.

Imagine a country where you can ride your bicycle to the closest hospital to give birth.

Then to save some more of the environment and be a part of the zero waste movement, your first and only hospital meal containing meat is your own gently seared placenta with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt and julienne carrots. . .

Fonterra aims for 750 million-litre annual water saving – Yvonne O’Hara:

Fonterra’s Edendale site intends to reduce its annual water usage by 750 million litres by 2030, as part of the co-operative’s sustainability strategy.

Fonterra’s general manager for the lower South Island, including Edendale and Stirling, Richard Gray, said the co-operative recently announced that six of its manufacturing sites in water-constrained regions would reduce their water use by 30% by 2030 as part of Fonterra’s sustainability plans.

The Edendale site used “close to two billion litres a year” and all its water was taken from the Edendale aquifer, Mr Gray said. . .

Celebrating a life well-lived – Joyce Wyllie:

“The room was a kinder place when Michelle was in it”.

Profound, sincere words to honour a fine, sincere woman. And after many wonderful tributes the final speaker summing up with that simple heartfelt sentence was significant, as we all knew how true it was.

Seeing over 500 people from varied walks of life crammed into the Collingwood Memorial Hall to celebrate the generous, loving life of Michelle Riley showed how many lives  she touched with her wide skills and talents and her great ability to connect with people. Her kindness impacted her community near and far. . .

Hydro exemption from water standards risk two tier system – Trustpower:

Exempting the country’s major hydro catchments from new controls on fresh water quality appears arbitrary and runs the risk of putting disproportionate scrutiny on smaller schemes, Trustpower chief executive Vince Hawksworth says.

The proposal – to allow councils to accept lower water quality in rivers hosting major dams – is intended to maintain flexibility for the country’s biggest providers of renewable energy. But officials acknowledged the move is a compromise that could be unfair to producers of about 10 percent of the country’s hydro-generation.

Hawksworth says everyone has a part to play to improve water quality and most also share an ambition to make greater use of renewable energy to counter climate change. . .

 

The next 30 years will make or break humanity: Farming is a bigger deal than Brexit – Tom Clarke:

Over the next 30 years, farmers will have to produce more food for more people with fewer resources. This is a huge challenge, and much more important than Brexit, says Cambridgeshire Fens farmer Tom Clarke.

Just get on with it.

Everybody wants to get on with it. It’s just everybody disagrees what ‘IT’ is. . .


Rural round-up

September 9, 2019

Accord improves water quality – Hugh Stringleman:

The country’s dairy farmers have made significant achievements in water quality over five years of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, DairyNZ says.

Over 98% of eligible waterways have been fenced to exclude cattle, a total of more than 24,000km of measured waterways.

Almost all, 99.8%, of 36,000 regular livestock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts.

Some 94% of the Accord’s 11,079 dairy farms, or 10,396 farms, had nutrient budgets in the 2017-18 season and just over half of farms with waterways have riparian management plans. . . 

MVM seeks investors as cashflow issues draw near– Brent Melville:

Infant formula producer Mataura Valley Milk (MVM) can pay its bills for about another month.

The Chinese-owned infant formula producer, which moved into production scarcely a year ago and recently began work on a $5million expansion to its McNab plant near Gore, needs an additional $12million in funding to cover expected production and operational costs for the next nine months.

At its current rate of expenditure, the company directors say it will exhaust its existing bank facilities during September.

In an assurance to company directors, creditors and staff, MVM’s financial statements for its first full reporting period to end December 2018, note that it has a letter of financial support from main shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG), valid for a period of 13 months from May 27, 2019. . . 

Seoul restaurant orders NZ goat– Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago goat meat will be on the menu at a new New Zealand-themed restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, next month, and more chevon suppliers are needed to meet expected future demand if franchise plans take off.

The yet to be named restaurant, is part of the Shilla Hotel business, and will be open at the end of October, with the launch to be televised.

In addition to New Zealand goat meat, it will offer beef and lamb as well as wine, initially from Shaky Bridge and Clyde Village vineyards.

New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd, which was recently launched by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra, has been contracted to supply the new restaurant with goat meat. . . 

Forest and Bird calls for Government funding to eradicate wallaby ‘plague’ – Giles Dexter:

It turns out possums aren’t the only Australian invaders posing a major threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem.

The wallaby population is reaching plague levels in some regions, and if nothing is done, the marsupials could cost the country $84 million a year in economic losses.

“In Australia, they’re native. There, it’s a completely different thing. They’re supposed to be there, they’re not supposed to be in New Zealand,” says Forest and Bird’s central North Island regional manager Dr Rebecca Stirnemann. . . 

New owners but training role remains

In a win-win for the Rangitikei farming community and farm-based training, Otiwhiti Station is staying in local hands.

The property was put on the market in June and there were fears its sale could lead to the closure of its training school, which has been operating since 2007.

But it is business as usual for the 1679ha station near Hunterville after a group of local farmers and business people got together and bought the property for an undisclosed price.

The group’s was one of four tenders received for the property. . . 

Northland school’s lambe creche a great learning opportunity – Susan Botting:

Maungatapere School families are getting lambs from as far away as South Auckland for this year’s Ag Day due to a national shortage.

Lambs are typically sourced locally but this year are coming from as far afield as South Auckland, more than 185km away.

Increased demand for lambs because of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, fewer lambs produced than in previous years and later-than-usual lambing are among reasons for the shortage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 2, 2019

Can we make stone soup for rural wellbeing? – Michelle Stevens:

Executive Summary

The fable of Stone Soup tells the tale of a weary stranger arriving at a village. He convinces the villagers to each contribute an ingredient in order to make a meal for everyone to enjoy. The weary stranger elaborately makes use of a simple stone as the key ingredient, to start creating the soup, as a catalyst for the village coming together. As the stranger leaves, the villagers plead for the soup recipe. It is at this point the stranger reveals they have always had the recipe. Simply put, it took each of them making a small contribution which ultimately provided a significant result.

The moral of the story is that there is value in collaboration to achieve a better outcome. The question is – can we make Stone Soup for Rural Wellbeing? Mental health and wellbeing is a wicked problem for New Zealand. This report serves to explore if there is sufficient interest within the agricultural sector to pursue a working arrangement, commercial interest’s aside, in collaborating for the betterment of rural wellbeing. . . 

Zero Carbon Bill targets ‘unachievable’ – retiring National MP :

Outgoing National MP Nathan Guy says the public and government have got quite a way to go to see what shape or form the Zero Carbon Bill ends up in.

Ōtaki MP and opposition agriculture spokesperson Mr Guy told Morning Report the Zero Carbon Bill targets were “too extreme”.

“That methane target range from 24 to 47 percent is unachievable. It’s going to take some magic to get there,” he said.

“Yes, we need to do our part” but it slows down the economy. . . 

Plan threatens lowland farms – Tim Fulton:

A Canterbury farmer is quitting a top land and water post, fearing lowland agriculture is being regulated out of existence.

Rangiora dairy farmer and farm management consultant Dave Ashby is chairman of the Waimakariri zone committee, which recommended policy to Environment Canterbury for a local land and water plan change. The proposed plan change 7 is now up for public submissions. 

Ashby is meantime stepping down as zone committee chairman.

“I need to concentrate on my farm and business. Over 80 meetings and workshops over two years is a large commitment and it’s now time to stick to the knitting,” he said.

He will remain on the zone committee at this stage but is very concerned about the direction the plan is taking. . . 

Central Otago rural midwife crisis worsens

The Government must step up and help the Southern District Health Board as Central Otago’s chronic midwife shortage worsens, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“The board is struggling to fill staffing gaps, with a shortage of relief midwifes affecting Charlotte Jean Maternity, in Alexandra, midwives in Wanaka and the Lakes District Hospital Maternity Unit, in Queenstown.

“I understand board staff are currently working day to day to ensure rosters are filled and that they are really struggling to find staff across the region. . .

Feds scorn firearms register

The practicality and cost of a firearms register will be a waste of money and resources, Federated Farmers says.

The second tranche of proposed Arms Act amendments features a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing, some of which beg serious questioning. Federated Farmers rural security spokesman Miles Anderson said.

Feds has previously opposed the compulsory registration of all firearms based on the complexity and cost of the process, questionable safety benefits and the likelihood of success.

“We haven’t had a firearms register in New Zealand for almost 40 years.

“The successful re-establishment of one now would require a considerable investment, both economically and socially,” Anderson said. . . 

Grass fed beef can help SOLVE climate change – Dawn Gifford:

150 years ago, much of the Midwest was still covered with chest-deep prairie grassland, providing valuable food and habitat for billions of plant and animal species, including millions of elk, bison and deer. These lands also supported natural environmental processes like carbon sequestration and seasonal flood control.

When Americans first settled the Midwestern prairies, they killed off the natural bison and other ruminants that lived there and began to farm highly fertile, virgin soil that was about 10 percent organic matter. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 28, 2019

More good farmland lost forever:

News that two large New Zealand farms have been sold off-shore, largely for forestry is depressing according to 50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick. The same owner has purchased both properties.

One farm is 734,700 hectares at Eketahuna that sold for $3.35 million. The other is 1037,000 hectares in Wairoa sold for $6 million.

“It’s bad enough having the land sold to foreigners but having good productive farmland sold for forestry and subdivision is criminal,” Mike Butterick said. . .

Decision time at Westland for Yili bid – Keith Woodford:

The time has come when Westland’s dairy farmers must make their decision. Do they want to take the money and go with Chinese mega-company Yili, or do they wish to struggle on as a co-operative?  We will know the answer after the July 4 vote.

If farmers vote to take the money, it will then be up to the Government to agree or refuse to accept Yili as the new owner. I will be surprised if they disallow the sale under the relevant OIO provisions. The ramifications of that would be severe.

Also important is whether or not the approval from Government is quick or drawn out. It is in no-one’s interest that it be drawn out, but OIO approvals can be remarkably slow.  Yili could step away if approval is not forthcoming by 31 October. . . 

NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili – Point of Order:

Is   Westland  Milk   one of  NZ’s  “key  strategic assets”?

NZ  First  is adamant  it is and believes the government  should be a  applying a  “national interest test”   to the proposed  sale of the company  to the Chinese  dairy giant Yili.

Those  who  see  heavily indebted  companies  like Westland Milk struggling to  make a profit and  not  even  matching  Fonterra’s payout  to its suppliers might take a  cooler view  to  the proposed  sale. . . 

Minister heaps more costs on farmers:

The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed he hasn’t bothered asking his officials the costs farmers will face as a result of the high methane target the Government is imposing, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“When questioned in Primary Production Select Committee Damien O’Connor scrambled to confirm he’d seen no specific advice for costs per farm, nor has he even asked for any.

“Cabinet have blindly cooked up a methane reduction target of 24-47 per cent, despite scientific evidence suggesting this is too high and without knowing the costs per average farm and the impact it will have on rural communities. . .

Downsizing opens gate to A2/A2 farm:

He’s a dairy farmer with a passion for breeding, striving to be “at the front of the game.” She’s a converted city-girl who fell in love with the dairy farmer, despite her aversion to typical milk.

It doesn’t agree too well with my system,” Stacey White says.

“I used to have soy and almond milk and I’ve tried both them and rice milk; nothing’s really appealed in terms of taste, and baking with those substitutes doesn’t really work either.” 

So when Stacey became aware of A2/A2 milk 18 months ago, she tried it out and found it tasty, creamy, and, crucially, easily digestible.*  . . 

LIC migrates to NZX’s Main Board:

Herd improvement and agritech co-operative LIC will move to the Main Board of the NZX (NZSX) next month, transferring from the Alternative Board.

This comes as NZX announced it will move to a single equities board from July 1 and close the NZAX and NXT.

Of the companies migrating, LIC is the largest by market capitalisation, at approximately $109 million.

There are around 14 agritech companies featured on the NZX Main Board and only one other farmer-owned co-operative (Fonterra). . . 

How NZ farming is like a Steinway piano – Glen Herud:

I wonder if we rely too much on our pasture-based farming or our beautiful scenery or our clean image.

What if the things we think are our strengths are actually weaknesses?

Steinway and Sons had been the leading maker of grand pianos since 1853 when their business was crippled by Yamaha.

Professor Howard Yu explains how Steinway held on to their main strength for far too long and it eventually became a weakness. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 17, 2019

Time for agricultural industry to lead the way – Anna Campbell:

It seems a long time ago that National MP Shane Ardern rode ”Myrtle”, his elderly tractor, up the parliamentary steps in protest at the proposed ”fart tax”.

That was back in 2003 and there have been many iterations of carbon reduction schemes since then with agriculture sliding along relatively unscathed. One did feel that it was only a matter of time before the grace period was over. Climate change has not gone away, a raft of regulations are on their way, but they do look a little different from what we were expecting.

The biggest difference to the current scheme versus previous schemes is the split gas regime, where methane is treated separately due to its shorter lifespan in the atmosphere – the target is a 10% reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, with a provisional reduction of 24% to 47% by 2050. . . 

‘Major reset’ for honey industry – Yvone O’Hara:

There has been strong growth by the honey industry during the past few years but with demand and prices dropping by as much as 50% compared to the previous season, there will be belt tightening and rationalisation, Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos says.

She said the strong growth and good returns in the past few years had attracted a lot of new entrants to the industry.

However, the domestic and international markets have been ”a bit sluggish”. . . 

Katie Milne responds to Shane Jones’ claim that farmers are ‘moaners‘:

Farmers have come under fire this week from MP Shane Jones, who says they need to stop “bitching and moaning”. Jones launched into farmers while talking to host Jamie Mackay on The Country yesterday. But what do farmers say in response? Mackay catches up with one of Jones’ targets, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne, who says the urban/rural divide has damaged people’s opinions of farmers.

“I don’t like the term ‘whingeing’,” says Katie Milne. “But we do like to highlight and try to talk to the issues that do affect us that people do have control over.”

The Federated Farmers president is responding to claims from the Minister of Forestry and Regional Economic Development Shane Jones that farmers are moaners. . . 

Facts ‘overrated’ in farming’s fight for social licence – Glen Herud:

There’s the “thing” and there’s the perception of the “thing” and they are not the same thing.

You could say, there’s the “dairy farm” and there’s the perception of the “dairy farm” and they are not the same thing.

You can change the thing but that doesn’t necessarily change the perception of the thing. . . 

FarmStrong: Shearer’s look after top paddock :

An initiative in the wool harvesting industry is changing traditional attitudes to injury prevention and wellbeing and it’s not just shearing crews who are benefiting.  

Times are changing in the woolshed, Shearing Contractors’ Association spokesman Mark Barrowcliffe says.

He’s been running his King Country business for nearly 20 years, employing up to 50 staff at peak season. . .

Busby takes the feijoa for New Zealand’s oldest sheep – Tracey Neal:

Busby’s genetic roots might lie in the blustery North Sea island of Texel, but the owners of what was possibly New Zealand’s oldest sheep said he has thrived on a more gentle lifestyle.

The Texel-Romney cross wether is estimated by Lynley and Barry Bird to be 24-years-old, measured against the ages of their now-adult children who rescued him as a lamb. . .


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