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

March 8, 2019

Test will come when new cattle rustling laws applied

Livestock rustlers could spend up to seven years in prison when new penalties are imposed but a Northland farming official says police need more resources to investigate and take rural crimes more seriously.

The Crimes Amendment Bill, which was passed unanimously by Parliament on Tuesday, makes theft of livestock or any other animal, including beehives and farm dogs, an offence liable for up to seven years in prison.

Also passed was the offence of unlawful entry on agricultural land with the intent to steal livestock or to act unlawfully against specified things such as buildings or machinery on that land — a crime which could see the offender put behind bars for up to a decade.

It makes it the same penalty as for burglary. . . 

Water levels drop and fire dangers rise as drought continues in Nelson – Tim Newman:

Water restrictions in Nelson continue to tighten as the region continues its long dry period into the beginning of Autumn. 

Nelson’s Maitai Dam, which supplies the city with drinking water, has seen its water levels drop significantly during that time. 

Nelson City Council infrastructure group manager Alec Louverdis said the dam was currently 71 per cent full.  . . 

The future of food production from a female perspective:

Nine influential Kiwi women from across the primary industries sector are gathering in Manawatu next week to discuss where-to-next for our food producing nation. They’re coming together as part of the ASB Perspective 2025 round-table discussion, which is a headline event at this year’s New Zealand AgriFood Week in Palmerston North.

It’s the fourth year ASB has been the main sponsor of New Zealand AgriFood Week, which is delivered by the Central Economic Development Agency, and its unique perspective panel is considered a must attend event at the Globe Theatre in Palmerston North. . . 

Majority of beekeepers vote against commodity levy on honey:

Commercial beekeepers have voted not to support the introduction of a honey levy with only 23.56% voting for the introduction of a commodity levy.

Commenting on the result Bruce Wills, Chair of Apiculture NZ, the industry organisation which led the commodity levy proposal says: “It’s no secret that this is not the outcome I, or the Board, wanted to see. I believe it will set back the development of the honey industry, but I understand that at present commercial beekeepers are hurting with the erosion in honey prices as a result of over-supply, for all floral types other than mānuka honey.” . . 

Bids for Fonterra’s Tip Top due in by Monday – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Indicative bids to buy Tip Top ice-cream from Fonterra Cooperative Group are due in by Monday, according to the Australian Financial Review which says it has seen a copy of the confidential information memorandum.

Its Street Talk column says the business is being pitched by First NZ Capital as a “unique opportunity to invest in an iconic New Zealand company with 80 years of heritage.”

While the memorandum talks about Tip Top’s “unrivalled market position,” it also notes that Unilever, which has the rights to Magnum ice-cream and a host of dairy free products, dominates the premium end of the market where the fat margins are. . . 

Fonterra appoints Judith Swales COO Global Foodservice:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell has confirmed Judith Swales to the role of Chief Operating Officer, Global Consumer and Foodservice. This follows her appointment to the role in an acting capacity earlier this year.

Miles Hurrell says “Judith has been providing strong leadership into our Consumer and Foodservice business unit, and the momentum she has gathered deserves to be continued.” . . 

Scales Corporation enters into petfood joint Venture with Alliance Group:

Diversified agribusiness Scales Corporation Limited today announced an agreement to enter into a petfood Joint Venture (JV) with Alliance Group Limited (Alliance). Under the terms of the JV, Alliance will pay $15 million to acquire a 50% interest in Meateor’s New Zealand business and operations.

Managing Director Andy Borland says: “We are pleased to enter into a partnership with one of New Zealand’s leading farmer co-operatives. This venture is about developing New Zealand as the premier supplier of petfood proteins. We think the venture provides a number of benefits to the entire New Zealand petfood-supply industry including as an avenue for the industry to improve scale; improved relationships with customers including the ability to commit to longer-term relationships; an ability to move into higher value and added value ingredients; and ability to leverage extended customer and supplier networks.” . . 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2017

LEGO farmer helps educate about agriculture – Joely Mitchell:

A small Lego farmer has taken the internet by storm, garnering over 13,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

He’s the brainchild of 27 year-old Aimee Snowden, who is passionate about Lego, photography, and agriculture.

Ms Snowden started Little Brick Pastoral in late 2014, as a way to educate a broad range of people about farming by sharing photos of her Lego farmer on-farm. . .

Little Brick Pastoral’s website is here.

Hawke’s Bay winegrowing future uncertain in face of water order – Victoria White:

Although Hawke’s Bay’s wine industry “can live with” some form of water conservation order (WCO) on the upper Ngaruroro River, it may not survive in future if this extends to the lower part.

This is what the special tribunal considering the WCO application was told yesterday, when the hearing reconvened after a week’s break.

The Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association opened the day, represented by legal counsel James Gardner Hopkins and deputy chairman Xan Harding. . . 

Dairy on-farm debt leaves little headroom – Keith Woodford:

The latest statistic for on-farm dairy debt held by banks was $40.9 billion at October 2017. This equates to $22 per kg milksolids.

Despite the major upturn in dairy prices of more than 50 percent that occurred between July and December 2016, and with those improved prices then holding through much of 2017, there were lags for the increase to flow through into farm incomes. Debt therefore continued to climb through to July 2017 reaching $41.2 billion. It then declined by $285 million in the four months through to October 2017. Looking back ten years, the dairy debt remains more than double the 2007 figure of $18.8 billion.

The recent decline in debt is surely a positive sign, but in the greater scheme of things the recent decline is modest. Key questions remain as to the long term financial stability of the dairy industry. . . 

Andrew MacPherson elected to Westland Milk Products Board:

Westland Milk Products shareholders confirmed farm owner, company director and former dairy veterinarian Andrew MacPherson as their newest director at the co-operative’s annual general meeting today (Wednesday 6 December).

MacPherson (BVSc, MBA (Dist), FNZIM) has worked in a range of senior executive roles including as CEO. He has extensive experience across a range of agri-sector businesses as governor, senior manager, business owner and farm owner.

He currently lives in Te Awamutu but is part of an equity partnership, Sewell Peak Farm Ltd, a 365ha dairy property milking 920 cows northeast of Greymouth on the West Coast. . .

Honey producers abuzz overr promisingg harvest – Adriana Weber:

A bumper honey harvest is on the cards for beekeepers around the country, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The industry body said it was early days, but this year’s honey production season was shaping up to be one of the best in years.

The season runs from October to February and the recent warm weather has helped boost production.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said it was a complete turnaround from last year’s poor season. . .

Bronze woolly wether park feature – Sean Nugent:

New Zealand’s greatest sheep will be immortalised in his own Shrek-themed park in Tarras village set to open in March next year.

A new bronze Shrek statue will be the fore figure of the 1ha park, on land beside the Tarras Village car park.

A 50m to 60m path will wind its way up to the statue, lined with native plants from the Bendigo landscape the world famous sheep once called home, as well as storyboards detailing his story and others from the Tarras area. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 13, 2017

Stockmanship and work ethic leads family to win Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

East Otago sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht have won the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The win was announced at a gala dinner at the Glenroy Auditorium in Dunedin on April 7.

The Engelbrechts also won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.

The Engelbrecht’s 7500 stock unit East Otago sheep and beef business is based on their 611ha home farm, Stoneburn, near Palmerston. The couple have four children, Oscar, 19, Sam, 16, Anna, 14 and Charles, 12. . . 

Aim tech at firms not farmers – Richard Rennie:

As the internet of things (IoT) becomes more of a reality for New Zealand farmers its success might lie in promoting it harder to farm service businesses than to farmers themselves.

KotahiNet chief executive Vikream Kumar tipped the usual pitch for farmers to adopt the IoT on its head to delegates at the MobileTech conference in Rotorua.

His company specialised in connecting businesses with sensors and wireless networks that enabled devices to communicate within businesses and beyond, including farms, orchards and processing operations. . . 

Tauranga animal health CEO finalist for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Tauranga woman described as “successful yet so down to earth” is in the running to take out the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

A qualified veterinarian, Dr Claire Nicholson is the Chief Executive of Sirona Animal Health, a company she set up to develop and promote unique products that address current areas of economic loss in the dairy and sheep and beef industries.

She’s also a director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara (PKW), past associate director for AgResearch and has worked with Massey University researching the epidemiology and economic cost of Neospora. Her family farms are in Gropers Bush, Southland. . .

Regions win battle to keep GE-free status but confusion remains – Gerard Hutching:

Lobby group Pure Hawke’s Bay is claiming victory in its fight to be free of genetically modified fruit and vegetables, but Federated Farmers describes the new situation as “a mess”.

Pure Hawke’s Bay feared Environment Minister Nick Smith would remove the powers for local and regional councils to declare themselves GE-free when the Government pushed through the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill this week.

However, in last minute changes, Smith amended the Bill so the minister could not refuse councils the right to become GE-free – but only for crops, which he defined as cereals, vegetables or fruit.

Smith’s definition did not include GE grasses, trees or livestock. . . 

New ground broken on rural fibre:

Federated Farmers has successfully negotiated a significant benefit for rural property owners who allow telecommunications fibre to cross their land.

The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Act, which was passed by the Parliament this afternoon, facilitates the installation of fibre optic cable along overhead electricity lines. It includes a unique provision that provides a quid pro quo to landowners whose land the lines network crosses, Federated Farmers communications spokesperson Anders Crofoot says.

In exchange for the right to string high-speed fibre along existing overhead powerlines, the amendment act guarantees fibre connections to farmers whose land is crossed. . . 

New Zealand mānuka honey science definition:

Food Safety Minister David Bennett has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries’ release of a proposed scientific definition for mānuka honey produced in New Zealand.

“Overseas regulators and consumers have expressed a desire for an independent, Government-backed definition to safeguard the authenticity of mānuka honey products.

“This Government-backed definition will provide an important starting point for the industry to promote New Zealand mānuka honey in world markets,” Mr Bennett says. . . 

Government science definition of mānuka honey an important step forward:

The industry organisation for the honey and beekeeping industry, Apiculture New Zealand, is pleased the Ministry for Primary Industries has released its proposed science definition of mānuka honey for industry review and consultation.

“The introduction of a regulatory science definition is a major milestone in the history of the mānuka honey industry. It is a relatively young industry growing very rapidly and with huge potential.

“We signalled our willingness to work with MPI to ensure its proposed science definition is robust in meeting shared objectives around consumer confidence and authenticity, and will be making a detailed submission on behalf of industry,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture NZ. . . 

Foreign Wine Looking for Greater US Market Penetration:

The US wine market continues to represent an attractive opportunity for many foreign wine companies, according to the Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q2 2017. However, increasing competition and ongoing wholesaler consolidation, among other factors, make it increasingly difficult for small wineries to penetrate, with a particular complexity for foreign wineries. An increasing number are seeking alternative structures and strategies to deliver greater penetration in the market. Each strategy has the potential to achieve success, but also carries risks and pitfalls.

While the US market has attributes that make it attractive to many foreign wineries, it is also a crowded, complex, and daunting market. The traditional approach for foreign wineries looking to enter the US market has been to identify an appropriate importer, and to work the market with the importer and/or distributors to sell their product.. . .

More evidence that the key to allergy-free kids is giving them plenty of dirt — and cows – Rachel Feltman:

People who grow up on farms — especially dairy farms — have way fewer allergy and asthma problems than the rest of us. Now one research team thinks they’ve brought science closer to understanding why.

In a study published Thursday in Science, researchers report that they were able to pinpoint one possible mechanism for the allergy protection in mice they studied. Surprisingly, the protein that they fingered as the likely allergy-preventer doesn’t actually affect the immune system — it affects the structural cells that make up the lining of the lung.

The research is related to something called the hygiene hypothesis, where a lack of exposure to microbes as a tyke leads to more allergy and asthma. . . 

 


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