Rural round-up

November 14, 2017

Landpro director gets time away – Sally Rae:

Otago’s Solis Norton and Kate Scott were recently named among the latest crop of Nuffield scholars. They talk to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about their work and the adventure that lies ahead.

Kate Scott quips that Landpro — the Central Otago-based planning and surveying company she jointly founded a decade ago — is “taking over the world, one small regional town at a time”.

From a staff of one to about 30 now, the business expanded  incrementally as its reputation grew, with more people and disciplines added, and there were long-term goals to maintain that growth.

An office was established in Cromwell 10 years ago and there were now also offices in Gore and New Plymouth. . . 

Passionate about energy – Sally Rae:

“It will be an adventure.”

So says Solis Norton, of Port Chalmers, who has been named a 2018 Nuffield scholar, along with Simon Cook (Te Puke), Andy Elliot (Nelson), Turi McFarlane (Banks Peninsula) and Kate Scott (Central Otago).

He expected it would be a  very busy time but  was looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.

Dr Norton grew up in Dunedin’s Northeast Valley and went to Massey University, where he completed a bachelor in agricultural science degree in 1996, a masters degree in applied science and then a PhD in the epidemiology of Johne’s disease in New Zealand dairy herds. . . 

North Island leaders up for Australasian agri-business award:

Three diverse and inspirational young agribusiness leaders have been selected from across Australasia as finalists for the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.
The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour for the industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

Lisa Kendall, 25, hails from Auckland, and is owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd, a business she established to provide agricultural services to people in and around her home city. She was a Grand Finalist in the 2017 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, and took out the People’s Choice Award, the AgriGrowth Challenge and the Community Footprint Award. Kendall plays an active role in schools, encouraging urban students to consider the career opportunities in agriculture. She is also vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club. . . 

Joint efforts on water quality – Rebecca Nadge:

The Otago Regional Council is working with Central Otago farmers in a bid to monitor and improve water quality in the area.

At a meeting in Omakau last week, local farmers discussed the strategy with ORC environmental resource scientist Rachel Ozanne and environmental officer Melanie Heather.

The plan involves ongoing testing of water at Thompson’s Creek in a cross-section of three tributaries, as well as regular monitoring in Waipiata and Bannockburn.
Ms Ozanne said the project would continue until May, with testing carried out on a fortnightly basis. . . 

Strong interest shown for Future Farm programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for a “Future Farm” is in its final stages and farmers are being urged to get in touch if they’re interested in being part of this unique programme.

B+LNZ is seeking to lease a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units for the Future Farm, which will trial new technologies and farm systems. . .

TPP agreement safeguards New Zealand’s export sector:

Federated Farmers congratulates Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition government for recognising the importance of free trade to New Zealand.

Following a frenetic few days of negotiations at the APEC summit in Vietnam, the New Zealand Trade delegation has succeeded in brokering agreement with 11 countries from the Asia-Pacific region- to move the deal forward.

Federated Farmers thanks all the Ministers and officials involved for their dedication and resolve. . . 

CPTPP important to maintain competitiveness:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the progress made towards realisation of a TPP agreement (now referred to as CPTPP).

“Timely implementation of the CPTPP market access arrangements is necessary to ensure New Zealand exporters do not end up at a tariff disadvantage into one of our largest dairy markets” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther

The trade dynamic for dairy in the trans-pacific region has evolved in recent months with the European Union and Japan concluding negotiation of an FTA agreement which delivers market access gains to European dairy exporters similar to those agreed for New Zealand under TPP.  . . 

Cultivate With Care After Big Wet – Bala Tikkisetty

Following the wettest winter on record, farmers are currently cultivating their paddocks for pasture or crop rotation.

As they do so, it’s important to be aware of and manage the associated environmental risks.

Sediment and nutrients from farming operations, along with erosion generally, are some of the most important causes of reduced water quality and cultivation increases the potential for problems. . . 

Argentina is saying hello to the world again – Pedro

We’re saying hello to the world again.

That’s the simplest way to understand last month’s elections in Argentina, in which the party of reform-minded President Mauricio Macri made important legislative gains, picking up seats in both chambers of our Congress.

 

As a farmer in Argentina, I’m pleased by this political victory—but I’m even more encouraged by what it means for my country’s general direction.

For too long, we’ve faced inward rather than outward. Although Argentina grows a huge amount of food and depends on global trade for its prosperity, we have behaved as if none of this mattered. The previous government slapped huge export taxes on farm products and didn’t consider the consequences. We stepped away from the world market.

This wasn’t my decision, but rather the decision of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the head of the Peronist Party. When she took office a decade ago, export taxes were already high—and she worked to raise them even more.

The American President Ronald Reagan once made a wise observation: “If you want less of something, tax it.” . .

Vietnamese farmers flourish in the Northern Territory to become Top End’s top growers – Kirsty O’Brien:

Michael Quatch arrived in Australia as a refugee of the Vietnam War. Now he is one of the most successful growers in the Northern Territory.

During picking season, work starts well before sunrise and does not end, but Mr Quatch is not complaining — he snags a few hours of rest here and there as he works hard to get the fresh produce from his farm at Lake Bennet in the Top End onto supermarket shelves.

The 45-year-old is the biggest hydroponic farmer in the Northern Territory, running 16 hectares of shaded cropping mainly producing tomatoes and cucumbers.

But Mr Quatch had to overcome obstacles difficult to fathom when you first meet this jovial, optimistic farmer. . . 

 

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Caption competition

September 10, 2012

Without free trade it will only be this big.

You can do better than that.

Usual rules – political is fine, personal isn’t.


Key calls for end to ag subsidies

September 8, 2012

Prime Minister John Key used his opening speech to the APEC forum in Vladivostok to call for an end to agricultural subsidies:

. . . TPP would not be a substitute for World Trade Organisation trade talks, he said. The reality was less-developed countries often weren’t included in trade negotiations like TPP, he said.

And while agreements like TPP dealt with barriers to trade and investment, they did not get to the heart of subsidies.

Key said World Trade Organisation negotiations were the key to tackling high domestic subsidies in many economies’ agricultural sectors. He noted the New Zealand experience through the 1980s and 90s following the removal of subsidies there.

“While there is some pain…farmers responded very quickly to the signals – cut costs, increased productivity,” Key said.

“This level of subsidisation is no longer affordable nor sustainable,” he said.

“Now is the time for leaders around the world to be bold,” Key said, calling on them to eradicate subsidies, and start down the road of deficit reduction. . .

The mid to late 80s were very tough years for farming here. But I don’t know a single farmer who would go back to subsidies and farmers we met in England and Europe in June were looking forward to the end of subsidies there too.

They said they’d rather be answerable to markets than at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats.

Agricultural subsidies distort supply and demand, add to costs for taxpayers and consumers and promote inefficiency.

Getting rid of subsidies will open up trading opportunities to the benefit of producers and consumers.


Key’s debut solid

November 26, 2008

The ODT reckons John Key’s debut on the world stage was solid.

John Key’s entry on to the world stage at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Lima, Peru, has been a solid beginning for the new prime minister, pitched at the right level for a debutant leader.

He was forthright in his views, and reportedly pragmatic rather than flashy in his speeches and presentations. . .

. . . In this display of tough talking, Mr Key signalled that he was intent on establishing a presence internationally as a straight-shooter, but he also took advantage of the occasion to distance himself from his former associations with the banking and finance sectors. Reporters covering the trip also saw another side of Mr Key: at times he “gushed” and at others appeared “gauche”, thus living up to his role as the new kid on the Asia-Pacific block.

But he was, as he has shown several times since winning the election a little more than two weeks ago, refreshingly candid.

There were signs of humility, too, in his preparations: he sought out Helen Clark for a briefing, and appeared grateful.

“She was genuinely good and so knowledgeable about these things. Her personal assessments were highly accurate. Generally I said to [leaders] that I had spoken to Helen Clark before I left and she passed on her warm regards. She is well thought of,” he told the media.

And while he spoke warmly of the achievements of the summit, he was also cautious about timeframes for turning the world crisis around, describing the 18 months, belatedly inserted in the final communique at the behest of Peruvian President Alan Garcia, as “aspirational”.

It was a carefully chosen word, showing that Mr Key is learning fast. . .

. . . New Zealand is more than most dependent on free trade and access to markets, so it was critically important that Mr Key attended the forum.

It is also a healthy sign of a maturing democracy that he was able to leave the country a day after being sworn in as prime minister with advice from his predecessor in his briefcase – no small achievement and one for which both Mr Key and Miss Clark are to be commended.

It is a sign of the maturity not only of our democracy, but of the politicians that they can put aside partisan differences for the good of the country. 

A peaceful hand over of power and a willingness of an outgoing leader to give advice and an incoming one to accept it doesn’t happen everywhere. It is something for which we can be grateful and should not take it for granted.


Silly shirts

November 24, 2008

When New Zealand hosted APEC the leaders were spared the silly shirts and given merino jumpers.

Other countries usually make less conventional sartorial statements, often because what may be appropriate for their cultures, a poncho for example,  doesn’t look quite so good when mixed with suits:


Image: APEC

Hat Tip for photo: Scoop


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