Rural round-up

28/11/2022

HWEN wants govt review of methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector has asked the government to review its methane targets and the method by which it sets those targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

In its submission in response to government proposals on pricing emissions, the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) partnership is asking for the Climate Change Commission to take another look at the 2050 emission reduction targets to reset methane levels using the GWP* calculation.

HWEN chair Sarah Paterson said this reflects feedback from farmers and growers during consultation on the government’s proposals.

HWEN chief executive Kelly Forster said it “really is a call to ensure the [commission’s] review takes into account the latest science”. . . 

Setting a standard: How our beef and lamb footprint measures up against the world avatar – Liam Rātana :

New research has found that the carbon footprint of Aotearoa-produced beef and lamb is among the lowest in the world. We took a deeper look at what the report says, and why it matters.

So what is this research?

Commissioned by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, and conducted by AgResearch, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study looked at on-farm emissions – which allowed for direct comparisons with other countries – but also went further, looking at the full “cradle to grave” footprint (ie including on-farm, processing and post-processing emissions). The report’s findings showed that despite the additional emissions involved with exporting product, our total footprint was still lower than the majority of countries – even those who had domestically produced meat.

While the report acknowledges that differences in methodologies make it difficult to accurately compare countries’ footprints across the entire process, particularly notable is the difference in the liveweight footprint of our stock. This metric, used to measure emissions before an animal is processed, shows that New Zealand’s average carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) per kilogram of sheep meat is less than half the international average, and about 30% lower than the international average for beef. . .

Immigration red tape frustrates short-staffed farmers  – Robin Martin :

A Northland farmer fears immigration red tape will see an experienced German dairy hand walk away from a job vacancy that she desperately needs to fill.

Katrina Pearson said applying for a work visa under the Accredited Employer Scheme had been a bureaucratic nightmare.

She runs a 250-hectare dairy farm west of Whangārei, milking nearly 500 cows.

Pearson needs two full-time staff, but she is struggling to recruit. . . 

Father and son named national ambassadors :

Ashburton father and son, Phillip and Paul Everest have been named as the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made earlier this week at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Pae in Christchurch.

The event was attended by all the regional supreme winners from the 2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The BFEA is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices hosted by the New Zealand Environment Farm Trust (NZEFT) where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information.

The Everest family run Flemington Farm in Ashburton where they’ve expanded the255ha property into a sustainable dairy and beef farm. They were named the 2022 Regional Supreme winners in the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment awards in July this year. . .

Fonterra confirms timeline for Capital Structure implementation :

Fonterra can today confirm that its new Flexible Shareholding capital structure is set to be implemented in late March 2023, subject to the Board being satisfied that the relevant preparations are completed before then.

The structure, which is laid out in a step-by-step tool for shareholders as well as this Guide to Flexible Shareholding, is intended to make it easier for new farmers to join the Co-operative and for existing farmers to remain, by allowing greater flexibility in the level of investment required.

Chairman Peter McBride says Flexible Shareholding will support Fonterra’s strategy by helping to maintain a sustainable milk supply, protecting farmer ownership and control, and supporting a stable balance sheet.

“Our Co-operative is already making good progress towards our 2030 strategic goals, and we believe moving to our Flexible Shareholding structure will help ensure that we stay on track,” says Mr McBride. . .

 

Innovative uses of forestry and wood products unveiled at Fieldays :

New and innovative uses of forestry and wood products will be on display at 35 stands in the Fieldays Forestry Hub near Hamilton between 30 November and 3 December, including a revolutionary treatment for radiata pine, a super carbon-storer – biochar – and cutting-edge research exploring using woody biomass for aviation fuel.

Planted trees are the raw material for more than 5,000 products we use every day. They also form the foundation of New Zealand’s next-generation bioeconomy, with the demand for new biomaterials only set to grow as fossil fuel-based products are replaced with renewable alternatives.

The revolutionary treatment for radiata pine allows it to be used in place of imported hardwood timber for decking, interior bench tops and as a fortified exterior cladding.

Called Sicaro, this timber treatment technology is being distributed by Motueka-based architectural company Genia. It uses a fortification process that replaces water within the cell structure with a water-borne solution that cures to a resin. . . 


Rural round-up

18/11/2022

No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/11/2022

New taxes put rural communities at risk – Kathryn Wright:

Rural people in New Zealand are under attack.

In the last few weeks, many “experts” have been revealed within the topic of new requirements for New Zealand farms, which will inevitably devastate and diminish rural communities.

New taxes and stock reductions will ensure that around 20% of sheep and beef farms will collapse, and with them, a part of their community.

I’m going to discuss this loss of community and why it matters, rather than arguing the points themselves — which also deserve to be investigated more robustly as they seem to be only telling half of the story. . .

No magic bullet for methane: Prof :

Honorary professor Keith Woodford has doubts about the “hype” around adding seaweed in feed supplements to cut methane emissions from livestock.

Seaweed-based feed ingredients are among future solutions being highlighted to help farmers reduce methane emissions in cattle and their share of climate change.

Prof Woodford said it was hoped that bromoform in the seaweed would reduce methane production, but promoters of technical ruminant solutions were overlooking nutritional issues that made this unlikely.

‘‘Yes they will kill off the methanogens alright, but they will also flow into the milk. …. Some people don’t like that story because it spoils their story and their investment opportunity, but now that it’s there, gosh it’s pretty serious.“ . . .

Industry bodies resolve to advocate strongly for farmers:

This week, leaders from DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Federated Farmers met to discuss emissions pricing.

Leaving it until the last minute, the meeting comes the week before consultation closes on the Government’s proposed emissions pricing plan and follows some criticism that the three groups – via He Waka Eke Noa’s proposal to government – have not advocated strongly enough on farmers’ behalf.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says a united voice on emissions pricing is the best way to ensure positive policy outcomes for farmers.

“All three organisations have reaffirmed nine core principles that we will all be raising in our submissions and through the He Waka Eke Noa partnership,” he says. . .

Inspiring the future of rural health :

The Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme is inspiring the next generation of health professionals, whether they are just beginning tertiary study and have not considered medicine, or if they are medical students who had not considered practicing rurally.

The Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme’s final Rural School Visits for 2022 will take place over multiple regions this November, visiting both schools and medical practices to foster connections with rural communities.

28 tertiary students will embark on tours throughout Northland, Waikato, and Taranaki regions, where they will engage with secondary students from a range of rural schools through interactive presentations, demonstrations, and workshops. From November 14-18, two groups will travel to rural schools throughout upper and lower Northland, while two further groups will meet with rural students in Waikato and Taranaki November 21-25.

In between school presentations, the volunteers will also visit rural medical practices where they will see and experience first-hand the lifestyle and value of rural medicine, as well as engaging with rural Health Professionals. Five practices are booked for visits with more to come. . . .

Farmers proud to be guardians of ancient drawings – Country Life:

In South Canterbury, there are hundreds of Māori drawings on limestone rock – some of which could be up to 1,000 years old.

Peter Evans believes it was his grandfather who discovered the ancient drawings on cliffs that overlook his Pareora Gorge sheep and beef farm.

His grandfather developed an interest in rock art beyond what was on the family farm and passed his curiosity on to his children.

“He and his children in the 1920s went searching the area for rock drawings … as they knew they were special and unique,”  Peter says. . . 

Fed-up farmers: why US government will put us out of business – Mary Kay Linge :

Within the next few months, the United States is projected to import more agricultural products than it exports for the first time in history — a worrisome development for America’s family farmers, who say government meddling threatens their livelihoods and the nation’s food security.

“The United States has never had any trouble feeding itself and much of the world, too,” said upstate New York farmer Tim Stanton. “I guess the politicians just figure we’ll keep going no matter what they do to us.

“But, you know, there is a limit.”

Farmers all over New York and New Jersey say they are being pushed to those limits by President Biden’s attack on energy, Gov. Hochul’s labor betrayal, foreign competition and other woes. Here, five of them describe their challenges. . .

 


Rural round-up

14/11/2022

Repeating mistakes of the past – Kerry Kerry Worsnop :

 In 1984, the last time farming was declared a sunset industry, the newly elected Labour government began the deregulation of what had been a highly regulated pastoral economy.

Between 1982 and 1988, the value of grazing farms fell by 32%. With falling land prices some farmers lost all their equity and, unable to meet the rising interest rates, were forced to sell up. Sheep numbers fell by over 43% from the heights of 1982, to around 40 million in 2002. By 1993 the effective rate of assistance to agriculture had fallen to 3% compared to 52% prior to deregulation. The government viewed pastoral farming as an industry in decline.

Today sheep number fewer than 28 million and – yet again – the sector faces a Labour government hell-bent on reinstating the very regulation and heavy-handed intervention that preceded the economic meltdown of the 1980s.

In He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) – the soon to be adopted mechanism for pricing agricultural emissions – we have the ghost of recessions past come to haunt our already flailing economy. Those of more advanced years will recall the strong arm of government reaching in to guide investment decisions of the past. A little help here, a payout there, some more financial assistance for this – and a handful of subsidies for that. All in all, as mentioned above, the pastoral economy came to rely on as much as 53% of its revenue from taxpayers for adherence with the prevailing view of what ‘good’ looked like. . . 

Agricultural GHG bullets are firing randomly – Keith Woodford :

At times I despair at the GHG debate in New Zealand. There are multiple teams firing firecrackers masquerading as missiles into the debate, thereby creating noise but little substance.

Here my focus is on the agricultural gases, methane and nitrous oxide, for which the Government has recently released a discussion paper outlining its preferred pathway for taxing agricultural emissions. The discussion paper also asks questions and seeks responses as to the specifics of the plan.

This latest Government paper has created outrage within the rural industries. The Government must surely score a zero for the way in which its messaging has been managed. Quite simply, the Government stuffed up mightily in relation to the messaging that it put around the proposals, and has been shocked by the consequent reaction.

The key message received by the sheep and beef industry is that they will carry the main burden with 20 percent loss of production, perhaps by 2030, and with profitability damaged greatly for those who survive. . . 

Carbon farmers feel the heat – Jill Herron :

Farmers looking to plant pines to compensate for methane-emission charges are encountering community pushback 

Increasing interest in planting pine trees for carbon farming has become a flashpoint in ecologically sensitive parts of Central Otago.

The owners of Lammermoor Station, a sheep, beef and grain-growing property near Middlemarch, say they’ve been taken aback by the vitriol directed at them since they applied for consent to plant 66ha of pines.

Wilding pines are a serious problem in Central Otago, where rocky landscapes are highly valued by residents and are a tourism drawcard. . . 

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust welcomes Sarah Harris as general manager :

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust has announced the appointment of Sarah Harris to the role of General Manager. Harris has commenced the role this week and is based in the Manawatu. Sarah will bring to the Trust a strong background in agribusiness and a passion for environmental sustainability.

Having grown up on a farm in the Wairarapa and raised her children on a sheep and beef property near Bulls, Sarah has a lifelong association with the agricultural sector which underpins professional roles encouraging the best in high performance both in New Zealand and abroad. Harris had a long association with High Performance Sport NZ, before she was High Performance Director for NZ Equestrian. Harris leaves her long-standing role as Operations Manager for Primary Partners.

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Chair Joanne van Polanen is delighted to finally, officially welcome Sarah to the Trust, noting the timing is right on cue. ‘We see the value in Sarah and her skills, passion and experience, and feel even more fortunate to have her accept the role of General Manager, with an aligned breadth of project and performance leadership, farm investment, asset management and primary sector industry experience to bring to bear’. . .

Young Hort winner announced :

Regan Judd has been named the Young Horticulturist of the Year.

Speaking after winning the coveted Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title at the finals in Karaka last night, Regan said he was “blown away” about winning, given he was up against “such a strong group of people”.

Regan represents the Young Grower of the Year, Horticulture NZ Fruit & Vegetable Sectors and works as an orchard sector manager with T&G Global in the Hawkes Bay.

The 26-year-old was up against six other finalists representing different sectors within the horticulture industry. . . 

Don’t pull the wool over my eyes – it’s criminal not to value nature’s coziest fiber – Rachel Martin:

When polyester production releases around 700 million tonnes of emissions a year, it seems almost criminal that a natural, biodegradable resource like wool is so quickly shunned.

In a week where policy-makers and the hoi polloi are pondering how many shirts they need to pack for COP27, it feels almost feels like a parallel reality to see masses of shoppers queuing for hours to check out the racks of cheap polyester garbs at the reopening of Primark’s flagship store in Belfast.

Granted, it comes four years on from the Great Primark Fire, which devastated parts of the city. But a lot has changed in that four years – both in society and our awareness of where the planet is heading in terms of global warming: We bring our own bags to the shops, drive electric cars, use water canteens instead of plastic bottles, and attempt to recycle anything and everything in sight – or at least claim to.

You might be wondering what this week’s column has to do with farming – and tellingly, I think that’s actually where the industry in Ireland misses a trick. Not often enough are the connections drawn between the island’s primary produce and how it can help the end user. . .


Rural round-up

11/11/2022

Middle NZ: we might not be able to see the food for the trees –  Linda Hall:

It’s a bit scary, really — thinking about what our beautiful country is going to look like in 50 years.

I won’t be around to see it, but my grandchildren will, and their children.

I wonder where they will grow their food.

Will they be able to drive between Hawke’s Bay and Dannevirke and look out on lush green grass with sheep and cows grazing? Or at paddocks full of pumpkins and sweetcorn? . .

SDC loses major legal battle against Te Anau Downs Station – Michael Fallow :

The Southland District Council has lost a four-year $1m legal battle with Peter Chartres, of Te Anau Downs Station, and now faces the prospect of costs recovery.

The council went to the Environment Court in April seeking an enforcement order to prevent any further indigenous vegetation clearance on the station, and to require significant remedial work.

Chartres welcomed the ruling clearing him of unlawful clearances dating back to 2001 and said the council’s approach had been overzealous.

“These enforcement proceedings are an example of the time and money that gets wasted when poorly drafted, unworkable rules are misinterpreted, implemented and enforced by local councils,’’ he said. . . 

Rural health network calls for action on ‘massive issue of rural inequity’

Hauora Taiwhenua has put together a roadmap for how the rural health service can be pulled off life support.

The rural health network’s document Christchurch Consensus was formed after the National Rural Health Conference attended by about 400 rural health professionals in September.

It includes key priorities such as streamlining immigration rules to get more health workers into the country and boosting investment in training.

Chair Fiona Bolden said the document was fuelled by the sheer frustration of health workers in the rural sector. . . 

Research on carbon footprint of beef and sheep meat published:

Our newly published research into the full life-cycle carbon footprint of New Zealand’s beef & sheep meat has found that it sits at the lower end of published estimates among producers globally, despite distance from markets. Read the published research here.

This research is jointly funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association; and the Beef + Lamb NZ statement today on the research – which also features the use of GWP* as an alternative metric for methane – is here.

AgResearch scientist Andre Mazzetto says:

“Accurately measuring and reporting the carbon footprint of products has never been more critical, especially for New Zealand products such as beef and sheep meat that are exported over considerable distances. Thus, it is important to understand the extent of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the various stages of the life cycle of these products. 

This Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study calculated the cradle-to-grave (i.e. full life-cycle) carbon footprint of beef and sheep meat produced in New Zealand and exported to different markets. The carbon footprint for the cradle-to-farm gate (raising of the animals) represented 90–95 per cent of the cradle-to-grave for both beef and sheep. The meat processing stage contributed 2–4 per cent of the carbon footprint, while post-processing was 2–6 per cent. This standard LCA study showed that NZ beef and sheep meat products have a full life-cycle carbon footprint at the lower end of other published estimates globally, despite the emissions generated from transport and freight to overseas markets. . . .

Not only the frost – Peter Burke :

One long time kiwifruit business person is describing this and probably next year as the worst they can remember.

It’s an unusual situation because the Zespri averages of fruit damaged by the frost don’t paint an accurate picture of what individual growers are facing.

For example, while the RubyRed crops appears the worst affected, it’s likely that the same grower may also have crops of Green or SunGold which could mitigate some of the financial hardship.

It would be unusual, we are told, that a grower would have just one variety. . .

Tech critical to reduce NZ emissions :

The idea that New Zealand can reach its emissions targets without relying heavily on technology and innovation has always struck the tech ecosystem as strange, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

Last week, the lack of any mention of technology in the government’s emission reduction plan was acknowledged as an oversight, according to climate change minister James Minister Shaw.

“This comes as Spark released a detailed analysis of how digital technologies could help New Zealand meet its emissions reduction targets,” Muller says.

“The study found 7.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, or 42 percent of the country’s 17 million tonne reductions needed by 2030, could be found by using enabling digital technologies. . . 


Ag bodies united

11/11/2022

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are speaking with one voice on the government’s plan to tax farm emissions.

Their email to farmers says:

This week the leaders of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, and Federated Farmers met in Christchurch to discuss emissions pricing and to establish common positions between our three organisations so we can move forward together and advocate strongly on behalf of farmers.  

A united voice on emissions pricing is the best way to ensure positive policy outcomes for farmers.

The government’s proposal is so bad it’s achieved something – uniting the agricultural industry against it.

It was a productive discussion and all three organisations have agreed on the following core principles that we will all be raising directly with the Government on your behalf:

    1. The current methane targets are wrong and need to be reviewed. Any target should be science-based, not political, and look to prevent additional warming. 
    2. The methane price should be set at the minimum level needed and be fixed for a five-year period to give farmers certainty.
    3.  Any levy revenue must be ringfenced and only be used for the administration of the system, investment in R&D, or go back to farmers as incentives. Administration costs must be minimised. 
    4. The future price should be set by the Minister on the advice of an independent oversight board appointed by all He Waka Eke Noa partners. 
    5. The system must incentivise farmers to uptake technology and adopt good farming practices that will reduce global emissions. 
    6. All sequestration that can be measured and is additive should be counted. We stand by what was proposed by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership on sequestration. 
    7. Farmers should be able to form collectives to measure, manage, and report their emissions in an efficient way. 
    8. Farmers who don’t have access to mitigations or sequestration should be able to apply for temporary levy relief if the viability of their business is threatened.
    9. We will not accept emissions leakage. The way to prevent that happening is by getting the targets, price, sequestration, incentives, and other settings right.

Our organisations are all united in our determination to get the best possible outcome we can and will continue to work closely together as we advocate for farmers. 

Individual organisations will continue to raise sector specific issues.

This is good progress but will the government listen?

And if it doesn’t will the government do what Richard Harmen says it could?:

. . . However, the Government holds the whip hand; it can simply impose a so-called processor levy on farmers, which would see all milk and meat levied by the dairy company or meat works that processed it.

That would lump everyone in together with no reward for those doing the best work and no extra costs for those doing nothing.

It would add costs that will cripple some farms and lead to thousands of job losses in businesses that service and supply them;  it would also lead to the loss of billions of dollars in export income and for what?

Even if there was no carbon leakage there would be no significant reduction in carbon emissions and if there was carbon leakage emissions would increase.

If climate change is as important an issue as the government says it is, it must listen to the agriculture industry and come up with a policy that will endure.

Its current plans won’t, if it accepts what these organisations are asking for and works with them, it might.

 


Rural round-up

09/11/2022

Young farmers the angriest of all, says Todd Muller – Jo Moir :

It’s been two-and-a-half years since Todd Muller last held the agriculture role for National. He tells political editor Jo Moir the hopelessness and anger in the rural sector right now is palpable in a way he’s never seen before

National’s recently reappointed agriculture spokesperson is determined to find a way to strategically manage water as an asset in a way he says successive governments have failed to do.

“If you had coal in the 19th Century you were rich, if you had oil and gas in the 20th Century you were rich and if you have water then you’re rich in the 21st Century.

“It gives you options and frankly successive governments haven’t been able to appropriately resolve the tension that has existed in the community around how to manage water,” Muller says. . . 

Wairoa uprising over farm emission plans – Peter Burke :

The battle lines are being drawn between the small, isolated northern Hawke’s Bay farming town of Wairoa, pop. 8000, against the big guns of Jacinda Ardern and what they see as her anti-farming government and its plans to unfairly tax agricultural emissions. Peter Burke reports…

So furious were the locals that the mayor, and farmer, Craig Little hastily arranged a meeting of the local community so they could voice their concerns to Labour ministers Stuart Nash and Meka Whaitiri and representatives of MPI and Beef+Lamb NZ.

Helping him do this was Nukuhia Hadfield, a prominent, influential and award-winning local Māori farmer who also heads the committee which organises the prestigious Ahuwhenua trophy for excellence in Māori Farming.

This David and Goliath battle is one that could see other districts in heartland NZ now join the army of protest at what some commentators are saying is one of the worst decisions to be foisted on rural NZ for many decades. . . 

Political leaders missing from the frontlines – Neal Wallace :

The lasting memory is of anger laced with fear.

I began my journalism career in 1983, just in time to cover the heartache of farmers as they weathered the economic reforms unleashed by the David Lange-led Labour government.

Such was the pace and scale of change as subsidies and support payments were axed overnight, many farmers were financially hurting, they were angry, frightened and felt betrayed.

In my subsequent 38 years as a journalist I never again saw that level of sustained anger and frustration – until now. . . 

Ministry bungling costs forest owners millions :

Some foresters could be millions of dollars out of pocket due to a poorly communicated change in application deadlines, National’s Forestry spokesperson Ian McKelvie says.

“Last month, the Ministry of Primary Industries sent an email to foresters announcing that they were moving the effective deadline to register forests for the Emissions Trading Scheme from the last day of the year to 25 October 2022, simply due to long processing times in their office.

“This left forest owners just three working days to submit their applications. After that date has passed, their applications will not be processed until 2023. This change will prevent some forest owners from claiming five years’ worth of backdated credits to 2018.

“Some forest owners stand to lose millions of dollars as a result of this poorly communicated change. An owner of a large native forest in the South Island claims he will lose $6–$8 million. This is more than just incompetence, it is theft. . . 

ANZ’s support of agribusiness recognised with major award :

New Zealand’s agribusiness sector is an economic powerhouse for the country, contributing billions of dollars to GDP. And right now, the industry is undergoing rapid change as it pivots to more sustainable practices and reduces its carbon footprint.

Within this context, business partnerships with banking providers are increasingly important. Banks are supporting the sector with financial products that reflect the industry’s changing needs. Canstar recognises the value of this support with its coveted Agribusiness Bank of the Year Award.

This year, the Canstar assessment panel considered five providers to come up with the winner, which we’re proud to announce is ANZ!

Jose George, Canstar New Zealand General Manager, said given agribusiness’ value to the country, it was important to recognise banks that underpin its growth. “Our farmers are hugely valuable to our country, as are our ambitions for the sector to innovate and show global leadership for a sustainable future. . . 

Grazing is a crucial part of nature – Peter McCann:

In the first part of a three-week series, Peter McCann looks at the basic principles of regenerative agriculture. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/11/2022

A considered refutation of the farm emissions tax and the ETS – Alastair Boyce :

Like many New Zealanders I was bewildered by the Jacinda Ardern government media announcement to tax farmers as the primary tool toward meeting Emission Trading Scheme targets. It seemed anathema to me, and I sought alternative perspectives and a reality and fact check.

By chance perspective presented themselves in the form of farming and forestry friends with conservation, hunting and fishing experience. These guys go all the way back to Rob Muldoon and ‘Think Big’. This group have lived and breathed New Zealand’s mountains, bush, streams, rivers, sea, forests and fields.

In the following discourse I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing, interspersing commentary with documentary narrative recorded in notes from our conversations and discussions.

The Discourse

This is referred to as “the water story”. In relation to the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) the government is providing scant consideration of this valuable resource. Carbon forestry uses considerably more water than farming and in perpetuity (i.e., forever). Hydro electricity generation and efficient farming irrigation are permanent losers. . . 

Feds say farmers just fed up :

Federated Farmers is clear that farmers should carry out winter grazing in a responsible manner and in no way encourages farmers to break the law. But when pathways are limited and full of roadblocks, people simply become frustrated says Federated Farmers Winter Grazing spokesperson Colin Hurst.

For the last two years, the Government has promised that farmers wanting to undertake winter grazing would have three Pathways available to them, Permitted Activity Pathway, a Certified Farm Plan Pathway, and a Resource Consent Pathway. In March 2021 Ministers O’Connor and Parker, and April 2021 Minister O’Connor promised that the farm plan pathway would be available in 2022 ready for the 2023 winter.

“Despite these promises, the alternative farm plan pathway is not available and is not expected to be ready for some time”.

This ultimately leaves thousands of farmers requiring a resource consent to comply with rules. Ministers have delayed the Winter Grazing regulations twice in recognition of the alternative farm plan pathway was not ready. Federated Farmers called for the regulations to be delayed until the farm plan pathway was available to farmers to avoid the enormous consent burden on councils and farmers. . . 

Farm expenditure and inflation set to impact profit margins :

Despite a positive forecast for global sheepmeat and beef demand, an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ profit margins.

That’s according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) New Season Outlook 2022-23 report.

B+LNZ chief economist Andrew Burtt says that with high market prices for sheepmeat and beef globally, and a low NZ dollar, farmgate prices are relatively strong for sheep and beef farmers.

He says beef cattle pricing in particular will drive revenue for the season. . . 

New Zealand’s top butchers announced :

The results are now in from the National Butchery Awards which took place today at the Due Drop Events Centre, in Auckland.

Brad Gillespie from New World Rototuna in Hamilton has won the prestigious Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year title and Rhys Tamanui from Waipawa Butchery in Hawkes Bay was crowned ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year. The Black Gloves – a team made up of butchers from Australia – claimed victory at the Pure South Master Butcher Teams’ Challenge.

Brad says he is beside himself with his win. “The talent was outstanding today and to take out the win is just amazing. I am always keen to do my business proud so to finally tick off winning the Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year is incredible.”

Finalists were chosen from four regional competitions held during September in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, involving over 40 competitors. The final six included wild card entries in each category and with knives sharpened and bandsaws humming, competitors put on a spectacular battle of the butchers while friends and family looked on. . . 

Alun Kilby crowned 2022 Young Winemaker of the the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco in Marlborough for becoming the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year.

Alun, 28, is Production Winemaker at Marisco. He has worked in the New Zealand wine industry for 13 years from Auckland to Central Otago before settling in Marlborough and is thrilled to take out this prestigious title. He is passionate and driven and says he is committed to continuously improving the way we make wine and distribute it to the world.

Congratulations also to Georgia Mehlhopt from Greystone for coming second. Georgia is the first person from North Canterbury to compete in the National Final and did herself and her region proud.

Four talented young winemakers from around the country competed on Thursday 3 November at Kim Crawford winery in Blenheim. The other contestants were Douw Grobler from Trinity Hill in Hawke’s Bay and Eliana Leal from Amisfield in Central Otago. . . 

 

Intelligent farm robot :

The world population will hit 10 billion around the year 2050. We must use our farmland efficiently in order to feed everyone, and one solution is to employ autonomous robots. 

One of these robots is an “intelligent sharpshooter” that can distinguish crops from weeds — and then it shoots them with the appropriate treatment. Because of such high precision, the robot uses 95% less chemicals than traditional sprayers.

The robot also scans the entire farm and is able to geolocate each plant accurately within centimeters.


Rural round-up

03/11/2022

More frustration as southern farmers meet on HWEN – Neal Wallace :

Farmers remain far from convinced of the merits of the government’s response to the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) agricultural emissions charging document.

A second meeting of southern farmers within a week was dominated by anger, exasperation, accusations that levy bodies are not fighting hard enough and claims political ideology is trumping common sense – all underpinned by contempt for the government policy.

About 50 people attended the Beef + Lamb NZ Southern South Island Farmer Council meeting in South Otago on Monday following a BLNZ meeting in Gore on Friday at which about 100 farmers expressed similar sentiments.

Discussion on Monday rapidly switched to the impact of the government’s proposal to cost agricultural emissions. . .

The pile-on effect gets worse – Peter Burke :

Farmers in many parts of the North Island are now facing a looming feed crisis.

The rain has been relentless during winter and spring and the ground is saturated in a way not seen before. This applies not only to dairy farmers but also horticulturalists and anyone who works the land for a living. Not only has there been heavy rain, stifling pasture growth, the lack of sunshine hours has meant that whatever grass that has managed to grow is ‘gutless’ and lacking in nutrition for animals.

Anyone travelling around the North Island in recent months would know: there is simply not enough grass available to animals compared to the norm for this time of the year. Travelling between Horowhenua to Napier over the weekend, I saw just two farms that had or were in the process of making grass silage and the cuts from those two were sparse to say the least.

Farm consultants are worried because dairy farmers are having to use their reserves of supplement to keep cows in condition for mating and the word is that many cows will not be mated on the first cycle due to their condition. . .

World dairy prices tumble further as farmers face the prospect of being charged for livestock emissions – Point of Order :

As debate rages in New Zealand’s farming industries over the Ardern  government’s  plan  for  charges  on  agricultural emissions, prices at Fonterra’s  Global  Dairy  Trade fortnightly auction  have fallen to their lowest level in nearly two years.

The average price at the sale fell 3.9%  to US$3537 (NZD$6054) a tonne, after falling 4.6% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March, and are now at their lowest level since January last year.

Whole milk powder fell 3.4%  to US$3279 a  tonne and  skim milk  powder 8.5% to US$2972  a  tonne, while  butter  was  marginally  up at US$4868  a  tonne  (though  a  long way  down  from  its peak  in  March  above  US$7000 a  tonne)  and cheddar 0.9% to US$4802 a tonne. . . 

NZ Battery Project has air of déjà vu – Jill Herron:

The prospect of Roxburgh having a second go-around as the host town of a major hydro project is starting to feel more real for residents as the government’s Lake Onslow scheme inches ahead

Massive disruption will be on the cards for residents of Central Otago’s Teviot Valley and a “treasure” lost if the government proceeds with the Lake Onslow pumped-hydro scheme, a community leader says.

Compensation should reflect that, says 78-year-old Pat Garden, and it should be structured to create benefits from the scheme that outlive the “boom and bust” of the build.

“The community needs to be recognised as a stakeholder and expects a shared benefit to compensate for the negative impacts,” he says. . . 

Full disclosure: I work to reduce the footprint of animal agriculture – Frank Mitloehner:

My response to The New York Times and Greenpeace articles on CLEAR Center Funding

There’s a shocking revelation out there, and I am at the heart of it. Are you prepared for this?

Animal scientists work with animal agriculture. That’s it. That’s the exposé, the conspiracy that so many activists and journalist want to share with you.

Oh, if you want more, try this on for size: Agriculturists work together to be more sustainable.

If you work in agriculture, these statements probably aren’t surprising. In fact, it would likely be concerning if that were not the case. Sustainability issues are too big to be tackled in in silos – metaphorically speaking, of course. One way the sector has come together to further sustainability is through the CLEAR Center. . .

A more sustainable approach to farming looks better together :

With a future focused on sustainable farming and growing, increasing demand for food products and an increasing regulatory environment, two companies have come together to aid the agricultural and horticultural industries.

Tokoroa based Blue Pacific Minerals Limited (BPM), has joined with AgriFert (NZ) Limited (AgriFert), in what Executive Chairman, Jamie Mikkelson, says “is part of our ongoing strategy to be ready for the future with innovative and science-led solutions. This partnering will benefit the future of farming and growing here in New Zealand. Like our agricultural community, we too are adapting to new trends and finding innovative ways, all while standing true in what we believe in, being clever by nature.”

“The future is exciting for farmers and growers with advances in science and technology. New Zealand farmers and growers are global leaders in efficiency and innovation. We have a part to play driving the sustainable farming and growing solutions” says Mikkelson. . . 


Rural round-up

01/11/2022

HWEN: Hostility as DairyNZ canvasses farmers– Gerald Piddock:

The government’s emissions pricing proposal drew a hostile reaction from Waikato farmers when it was outlined by DairyNZ leaders at a meeting in Morrinsville.

About 70 farmers packed the town’s Rotary Community Centre to learn more about the proposal and for the organisation to get feedback from farmers ahead of the mid-November submissions deadline.

The at-times tense meeting saw farmers vent their frustration at the government’s plan, with one questioning if the government has any notion how upset farmers are.

“We have the Fonterra chairman [Peter McBride] saying they are uneasy about it. For God’s sake, uneasy, we’re more than uneasy,” he said. . . 

Detailed analysis of Government’s agricultural emissions pricing proposal reveals significant flaws and impacts as sheep and beef farmers are urged to have their say :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has delivered a damning verdict on the Government’s emissions pricing proposal following a detailed analysis.

“Sheep and beef farmers are committed to playing their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however we want to ensure that what we’re asked to do is fair,” says Andrew Morrison, chairman of B+LNZ.

“The Government’s proposal will have a disproportionate impact on sheep and beef farmers, impact the livelihoods of Kiwis in rural communities, increase food prices, cost jobs and ultimately reduce New Zealand’s export income. 

“B+LNZ expressed serious concerns about the Government’s proposal when it was released a fortnight ago, however after a comprehensive evaluation of the scheme and talking with our farmers, we’re now more convinced than ever that this scheme will have a disproportionate impact on the sheep and beef sector and may drive some farmers out of business. . . 

Public backs carbon farming limits as report shows soaring sales :

The majority of New Zealanders don’t agree with the Government’s approach of planting our way out of the problem of climate change and want limits on fossil fuel emitters planting exotic trees on productive farmland.

The research commissioned by Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has found 54 percent of New Zealanders support a limit on the amount of fossil fuel emissions that can be offset with new pine forests. Meanwhile, almost two thirds of Kiwis oppose foreign companies buying New Zealand farms to offset their emissions.

The findings by Curia coincide with the release of a new independent report by Orme & Associates, commissioned by B+LNZ, which shows more than 52,000ha of land was purchased by forestry interests in 2021, a 36 percent increase on the previous two years, and up from 7,000ha in 2017.

This is far more than the 25,000ha a year of exotics that the Climate Change Commission has suggested are needed to achieve New Zealand’s climate change objectives. . . 

There is a better way to reduce emissions – Todd Muller :

National was shocked and disappointed to learn last week that the Government has moved away from key elements of the consensus plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

A National government, like Labour, will be committed to reducing carbon emissions and acknowledges that the primary sector has an important role to play in doing that. Pricing emissions gives farmers an incentive to lower them, and National supports agriculture having its own process for recording and pricing emissions.

For three years, representatives of the primary sector and other stakeholders have worked through the He Waka Eke Noa (All in this Together) Partnership, to build a consensus approach to devise a new system.

In May, the partnership sent its recommendations to the Government but when the Government last week reported back its proposals, to apply from 2025, some key points that the partnership had suggested, were missing. In addition, the Government revealed that it anticipated that under its system, up to 20 per cent of the capacity of sheep and beef farming could be lost by 2030 – while seeing emissions increase offshore as production and jobs move overseas. This is as unacceptable to National as it is to farmers. Neither individual farmers, farming communities or the New Zealand economy want or can afford to sustain a blow like that. National believes that cost is unacceptable, especially when, with more care, there will be a better way to reduce emissions without so much damage. . .

Farming without a fence – Sally Round:

Reaching for their phones and clicking on a cow-monitoring app is the first early-morning task for Waikato dairy farm managers Petra Burgess and Lauren Randall.

Instead of a crack-of-dawn quad bike trip following the cows to the milking shed Petra and Lauren are setting up virtual fence lines and checking cow conditions remotely over a cuppa.

It’s a system which has revolutionised the processes on Pete Morgan and Ann Bouma’s 230-hectare dairy farm at Pokuru.

Two years ago the farm signed up for Halter – a system which fits individual cows with solar-powered collars. . .

Miniature apple company takes top honours at New Zealand International Business Awards:

A Hawkes Bay business dedicated to “powering up your day, one bite at a time” is the Supreme Winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2022, announced (27 October) at the Awards’ first in-person event since 2019.

The Supreme Award winner, Rockit Global, is an apple company whose unique product – miniature apples – is now sold in more than 30 countries and grown in 10. Operating for more than 20 years, Rockit Global employs unique growing methods and technologies that are breaking new ground for their business and industry. 

As well as the Supreme Award chosen by a panel of judges, Rockit Global also won the category award for Best Large Business. 

Judges described Rockit Global as a worthy Supreme Award winner, due to an inspiring team with great global expertise that has successfully built their brand around a product that does not typically have a brand.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

26/10/2022

Ag sector not impressed – David Anderson :

NZ’s farming sector has been left disappointed and stunned over the Government’s proposal to price agricultural emissions.

Federated Farmers argues the plans would “rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be”. It accuses the Government of throwing out the years of work the sector put into finding a solution and said it was “deeply unimpressed” with the Government’s take on what He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) put forward.

Modelling done by Ministry for Primary Industries shows that without representation – and assuming farmers paid the levies at the farm gate – using the price proposed by HWEN of 11c a kilo of methane, by 2030 production of milksolids would be down by up to 5.9%, lamb down 21.4%, beef down 36.7% and wool down 21.1%.

The same modelling showed that 2.7% of dairy land would go out of dairy production while 17.7% of sheep and cattle country would cease running livestock, presumably to be converted to forestry. . .

Emissions plan will sound death knell for farmer s – Mayor – Peter Burke :

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says the Government proposal to charge the ag sector for emissions will be the death knell for East Coast farmers.

He says farmers like himself were already being treated like second class citizens and this proposal reinforces that.

“It takes away all hope,” he told Rural News.

Little says farmers are now talking about selling up and going to Australia where he says agriculture is booming. . . 

BLNZ calls out HWEN changes – Annette Scott:

More than two years of cross-sector collaboration with uncomfortable conversations and robust debate on pricing emissions has not been recognised and “I am gutted”, Beef + Lamb New Zealand director Nicky Hyslop says.

“I am gutted as a sheep and beef farmer and as a BLNZ director with the government decision to make significant changes to He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), which now have an unacceptable impact on a sheep and beef farmer,” Hyslop told farmers at the central South Island farmer council annual meeting.

“We get the current farmer anger and frustration but let’s channel that into strong messages that will resonate with the public, build pressure on the government and get constructive changes to make this whole thing workable.

“The bottom line is we are not going to agree to anything that threatens the viability of our industry and of our family farms. . . 

Call for more support for rural communities’ fight against climate change :

Government support for rural communities is vital to realising the potential in mitigating climate change says Rural Women New Zealand.

“Our members care for our land, our people and rural communities and we acknowledge the need to adapt, however, we would like to see more work on empowering rural communities through the provision of resources to effect positive change,” says National President Gill Naylor.

“There is no doubt that the solutions proposed by the He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Change Partnership and the Government’s discussion document on pricing agricultural emissions, will have an impact on rural communities.

“Rural communities include the towns and regional centres which service them – the adverse impact of, and the opportunities afforded by, emissions pricing stretch further than the farm gate. . . 

Trust takes Ahuwhenua Trophy for top farm :

The Wi Pere Trust, a large sheep and beef farming operation at Te Karaka near Gisborne, was awarded the 2022 Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm. 

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor made the announcement at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards dinner in Hawke’s Bay. He said Māori account for 25% of the production of sheep beef and wool in New Zealand, and have brought a highly professional approach to their farming operations. 

He encouraged everyone to go along to Ahuwhenua Trophy field days to better understand the complexity of the farms and passion of the farmers.

Trudy Meredith of Wi Pere Trust said winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy was absolutely amazing – especially given this was the first time they had entered the competition.  . . 

NZ Rural Land diversifies into forestry – Hugh Stringleman :

New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZL) is moving into forestry land ownership at a cost of $63 million for five properties in the Manawatū/Whanganui region.

The listed landlord has entered an agreement with private company NZ Forest Leasing to acquire the forest estate of approximately 2400ha and lease it all back to NZFL for a period of 20 years.

The settlement date for the acquisition is April 15, 2023 and the first year’s lease payment will be $4.98m.

Thereafter annual lease payments are subject to CPI-linked adjustments. . . 


Rural round-up

21/10/2022

Fundamental differences on HWEN flagged   – Gerald Piddock:

“Not our proposal at all’ says DairyNZ chair

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel is distancing the farming sector’s emissions proposal from the government’s, saying the two are fundamentally different.

There are similarities at first glance, but once the organisation started reading through the fine print, it found that the proposal contained big differences to the one outlined by He Eke Waka Noa (HWEN).

“As we have looked into it, and as we have looked at the details of the whole proposal, it’s become more obvious how different it really is. It is fundamentally different and is not our proposal at all,” Van der Poel said. . .

Fonterra unhappy with government’s emission proposal – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra says it has some reservations about the Government’s consultation document on agricultural emissions.

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride had told co-op shareholders that the Government proposal creates “an imbalance within the sector”.

McBride sent an email to shareholders after addressing a primary production select committee in Parliament this morning.

He told Fonterra farmers that Fonterra supports the intent of He Waka Eke Noa – a partnership of 13 members of the agriculture industry, including DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ. . .

QE II celebrates milestone, reaching 5000registered open space covenants :

An 8.9-hectare forest that landowners the McDonald family call ‘The Gorge’, has officially become the 5000th area in New Zealand to be protected with an Open Space Covenant in partnership with the QEII National Trust.

Toby and Charlotte McDonald and their family hosted other local QEII covenantors and local community members at their farm in rural Wairarapa on Wednesday to celebrate the milestone, right next to the newly protected forest.

The newly registered Open Space Covenant protects modified primary forest and a stream system that feeds into Wainuioru River.

The forest contains rare and threatened species including Olearia gardneri(Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable). It also contains one of the few rimu remaining in the district and is home to pōpokotea (whitehead), a Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable species. . . 

Wet weather crop delays costing arable farmers winter and money  :

Wet weather in parts of the North Island over the past few months has been causing huge issues for farmers and growers, who have had to delay planting valuable crops.

A cold snap earlier this month froze the asparagus crop of one of the country’s largest growers, Boyds Asparagus, in Waikato and strawberry crops on the outskirts of Hamilton were decimated by heavy frost.

In Horowhenua, heavy rain and flooding has also delayed potato planting, with growers forced to wait until their fields dry out before planting new crops.

And the variable weather is affecting arable crops too, with farmers also having to delay planting their maize and fodder crops. . . 

Get paid to work in one of the world’s most beautiful places – Andrea Vance:

Working from home could prove difficult – but the daily commute might involve a jet boat or helicopter ride. And your direct reports would include some of the world’s rarest creatures.

It’s a dream job – patrolling some of the world’s most spectacular wilderness, and caring for kiwi, penguins and lizards on the front line of extinction.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is on the hunt for a biodiversity supervisor in Haast, on the western edge of Mount Aspiring National Park.

But in a nation-wide labour market shortage, there have been just three applicants so far for the role, based in New Zealand’s most remote town. DOC are now casting the net wider. . . 

 

Shared knowledge ‘magic ingredient’ – Gordon Davidson:

Farmers and crofters learning from each other is the ‘magic ingredient’ needed to expand sustainable farming practices in Scotland.

So says Nikki Yoxall, of Grampian Graziers and Pasture for Life, who will be speaking at a public webinar about the progress of agroecology in Scotland on November 11.

Over 60 farmers and crofters from Aberdeenshire to Galloway are already meeting up in small local groups to explore sustainable farming practices, from Scottish-grown poultry feed to mob grazing, and discussing how they can improve the financial bottom line. November’s webinar is being presented as the first of a number of upcoming opportunities for other farmers to join them.

“We are learning by doing and trying things out,” said Ms Yoxall. “Being part of a group helps – we get to share what works well, what are the sticking points. Different practices suit different farms, and often you don’t know what will work well until you – or your neighbouring farm – give it a go.” . .


Rural round-up

17/10/2022

Farmers react to government’s HWENN stance– Richard Rennie & Annette Scott:

Masterton farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ councillor Paul Crick says there’s a fundamental unfairness in the government’s interpretation of He Waka Eke Noa, one that conflicts with its own policy goals.

“Reading the ‘Fit for a Better World’ policy document, in Damien O’Connor’s foreword he writes how its aim is to build a more productive, sustainable and inclusive food and fibre sector. That appears a lot throughout the document, ensuring a better future for farmers and growers. How then do we throw that lens over what we heard on HWEN this week?”

Crick said there is a fundamental unfairness in the removal of the ability to sequester methane against farm vegetation, and in ignoring the 1.4 million hectares of woody vegetation already growing on NZ drystock farms that could be applied.

“It seems they are saying on one hand we will take it, and on the other we will take it as well. There is no balancing of the ledger there.”  . . .

Why blame cows Maori farmer rejects ETS money grab? – James Perry:

Paki Nikora, a trustee of Te Urewera-based Tātaiwhetu Trust, says he can’t fathom why farmers continue to be blamed for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Mēnā tātou ka whakaaro i te wā ka pā mai te mate uruta kia tātou, ka makere mai ngā ēropereina i te rangi, ka makere mai ngā motuka i ngā huarahi ka mārama te kitea atu i te taiao ki te whare rā anō o te atua. Kei te whakapae rātou nā ngā kau kē te hē.
(If we think back to when the covid pandemic hit us and the planes were grounded and cars were off the roads, it was clear to see the improvement in the environment. But they still want to blame the cows.) 

He describes the government’s emissions reduction scheme is a “senseless tax” on the industry.

“Kāore au i te mārama he aha rātou e huri mai nei ki te tāke i a tātou whenua. He mahi moni noa tērā.”
(I don’t know why they keep trying to tax us on our whenua. It’s just a plain money grab) . . 

Why New Zealand meat is outstanding in its field – Annette Scott :

Going from the laboratory to the family dinner table, a multi-year research programme looked into the relative nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef and lamb, and plant-based alternatives. Annette Scott found out why grass is so great.

A New Zealand research programme has found pasture-raised beef and lamb beats both grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives when it comes to health and wellbeing benefits for consumers.

The four-year programme brought together researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland and included two ground-breaking clinical trials to look at the impact of red meat on the diet.

The clinical trials assessed the physical effects on the body from eating beef or lamb raised on grass, grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives, and looked at measurements of wellbeing such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels. . . .

 

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon to build innovative land-based salmon farm :

A prototype for New Zealand’s first sustainable, land-based salmon farm is in the early stages of development, with backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

SFF Futures is committing $6.7 million over six years to the $16.7 million project, which was officially launched in Twizel today. Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker attended the launch and visited the freshwater salmon farms to hear about Mt Cook Alpine Salmon’s plans for building the prototype.

“Demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to boost the supply of this high-quality, high-value product,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

Mr Penno says the project aligns with the Government’s aquaculture strategy, which outlines a sustainable growth pathway to an additional $3 billion in annual revenue. . . 

Fonterra revises milk collection :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its 2022/23 New Zealand milk collections to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its previous forecast of 1,495 million kgMS.

Fonterra last reduced its 2022/23 milk collections forecast in early September. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says this was due to weather conditions in parts of New Zealand causing a slow start to the season.  . . .

 

My food bag launches homegrown taste adventures to celebrate Nadia’s farm :

My Food Bag has released its latest meal kit offering to enable Kiwi foodies the opportunity to recreate dishes featured on Three’s new programme, Nadia’s Farm.

My Food Bag is a proud sponsor of Nadia’s Farm, an unfiltered look at Nadia and her husband Carlos as they re-establish Royalburn Station, airing Wednesday nights on Three and ThreeNow.

Bringing the fresh and high quality ingredients seen on television direct to Kiwi kitchens, My Food Bag is releasing meal kits inspired by meals seen on Nadia’s Farm and has launched a farm shop filled with products from Royalburn Station, and other boutique New Zealand suppliers.

Jo Mitchell, Chief Customer Officer of My Food Bag, says supporting Nadia’s Farmis a way to celebrate the best of New Zealand food and what happens on the farm to make that possible for us. . . 

 


More tax, less food

12/10/2022

He Waka Eke Noa didn’t have universal farmer support.

The government’s butchering of it is uniting farmers against it and threatens the sector consensus:

Today’s farm emissions announcement threatens the sector consensus by failing to recognise New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“National is committed to emissions targets, including reaching carbon Net Zero by 2050, the Paris Climate Agreement and reductions in agricultural emissions.

“National recognises New Zealand farmers’ significant contribution to the economy. Agriculture earns half this country’s export revenue.

“We are concerned that today’s announcement puts consensus at risk. The Government’s own figures indicate:

    • Sheep and beef farming could reduce by 20 per cent and dairy by 5 per cent by 2030
    • Two-thirds of the reduction in emissions in New Zealand will be undone by higher emissions overseas as jobs and production shift offshore
    • The plan does not allow farmers to earn extra income from some forms of on-farm planting and carbon capture.

“Worryingly, the large falls in sheep production in New Zealand could lead to higher global emissions as more sheep production moves overseas to less-efficient farms.

“Broad industry support is crucial for any enduring solution to agricultural emissions.

“This plan could have significant implications for our rural towns and communities. The Government has put at risk the consensus built by He Waka Eke Noa Partnership over three years.

“National supports efforts to reduce emissions and we encourage the Government to work with the sector to find an enduring solution.”

In an email to members National leader Christopher Luxon points out the flaws in Labour’s proposal:

. . .I’m very concerned by the massive impacts these proposals could have on our rural towns and communities – which could see sheep and beef farming reduce by one fifth in just five years.

National backs our farmers. Our rural communities are the backbone of our country and agriculture is our biggest export earner. New Zealand’s prosperity is built on the hard work of farmers and growers up and down the country. It’s their work and their businesses that support other rural businesses and suppliers and create employment and jobs in provincial towns. We cannot let Labour and the Greens put that at risk.

I want you to know where National stands.

New Zealand needs to cut its carbon emissions. National supports New Zealand’s emissions targets, including reaching carbon net zero by 2050. And that means reducing agriculture emissions over time.

We backed the sector-led process as a way to introduce emission pricing for agriculture alongside other measures to reduce on-farm emissions and support the uptake of new technology.

We believe consensus with farmers is vital. But the Government has today put that at risk with a different proposal which could gut our rural communities while seeing emissions increase overseas as food production and jobs move off-shore.

Indeed, the Government’s own figures suggest its proposed scaling back of our sheep industry will actually lead to overall higher global emissions. That’s because Kiwi farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world so cutting back food production here just to see demand being met by less-efficient farmers overseas is simply counterproductive. National would ensure Kiwi farmers enjoy regulatory settings that make it easy to develop and adopt new technology to reduce emissions – not just send primary production, jobs and emissions offshore.

National would also allow farmers to earn credit for all forms of on-farm carbon capture. It’s just not right for Labour and the Greens to add extra costs to farmers without allowing on-farm planting and carbon capture to offset new emissions costs they may face.

The Government needs to get alongside rural communities and find an enduring solution that works for everyone – not dictate changes from Wellington.

National trusts farmers to be the best environmental stewards of their own land. I know farmers will use technology, ingenuity and local knowledge to figure out local solutions that work to reduce emissions sensibly.

Any relief that farming won’t be forced into the ETS will be overwhelmed by genuine criticism about what the government has taken out of the industry’s proposal:

The government has accepted most of the proposals put forward by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership to price agricultural emissions, but industry groups are concerned some of the recommendations have been excluded.

The farm-level, split gas approach has made the cut, but modifications have been proposed on how sequestration is calculated.

“We need to further analyse these changes carefully, but one area of immediate concern is the proposed changes to sequestration, which is of real importance to sheep and beef farmers,” Beef + Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison said.

“We know we have a role to play in addressing climate change and our farmers are among the first to feel the effects of it.

“However, if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms.”

Meat Industry Association chair Nathan Guy said although the government proposal is better than agriculture entering the emissions trading scheme (ETS), there is room for further improvement.

“Sheep and beef farmers and the meat processing and exporting sector collectively generate $12 billion in income per year for the country and account for more than 92,000 jobs, almost 5% of New Zealand’s full-time workforce. It’s critical we have the right policy settings so our sector can continue to deliver for our farmers, our processors and exporters, rural communities and the country.”. .

Needing further improvement is an understatement.

He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) programme director Kelly Forster said its partners are pleased the government has listened to the partnership on the need for a farm-level system rather than including agricultural emissions in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). 

“A farm-level system as recommended by He Waka Eke Noa will enable each farmer and grower to clearly see the direct impact of their on-farm decisions and would give them incentives for using new technologies and practices as they become available. Our modelling shows it will be more effective in achieving emissions reductions than including agriculture in the NZETS at the processor level. 

“He Waka Eke Noa’s recommendations were, however, designed as a carefully balanced package that was as equitable as possible across all parts of the primary sector.  

“The government has proposed alternative approaches in some areas, such as how sequestration is recognised, which may fundamentally alter the balance and could have significant implications for sheep, beef and deer farmers. . .

That’s a diplomatic way of saying it will be disastrous, and Federated Farmers points out the costs won’t just be felt on farm and by farmers:

The greenhouse gas reduction plan released by the government this morning will rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be.

The plan aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5% to achieve the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets.

This is the equivalent of the entire wine industry and half of seafood being wiped out.

The government’s rehashed plan to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions throws out the two and a half years of work the industry did to come up with a solution, supposedly all that time in a ‘partnership’ with government to achieve a workable solution which would not reduce food production.

“This is not what we’ve got this morning. What happened to the ‘historic partnership’?

“Federated Farmers is deeply unimpressed with the government’s take on the He Waka Eke Noa proposal and is concerned for our members’ futures,” Federated Farmers National president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut-wrenching to think we now have this proposal from government which rips the heart out of the work we did. Out of the families who farm this land.

“Our plan was to keep farmers farming. Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off.

“Some overseas buyer can plant trees and take the carbon cash.”

The scariest impact from the government’s rehash of the He Waka Eke Noa proposal was that it’s own modelling showed the impact on sheep and beef farming would be as high as 20%.

It also shows that world agricultural emissions would increase, not decrease, under this plan.

“The government’s plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumaranui – pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South – will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say ‘ETS application’.”

So all the small town cafes, car yards, schools, pubs, rugby clubs, hairdressers and supermarkets can say goodbye to the small town business supported by the agriculture around them.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is concerned that the plan will impose costs on farmers who have no cost-effective way to reduce emissions:

. . . The farm-level pricing system the government has announced is in line with the He Waka Eke Noa proposal. However, DINZ remains deeply concerned about the impact of prices on farmers who have no cost effective way to reduce their emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, says Deer Industry NZ chair Mandy Bell. . . 

There is as yet no guidance for the price of methane; there is a recommendation that nitrous oxide would be linked to the ETS NZU, but with a discount.

The government has also released economic modelling to demonstrate the impact on a range of farm types. As was previously communicated to government, the largest impact falls upon the most extensive farming systems. The government has acknowledged that the pricing system has different impacts and is seeking sectors’ views on levy relief and transition mechanisms for farming businesses who are most exposed.

Mandy Bell says “DINZ will be reinforcing to policy makers what they have already recognised – that the farm price needs to allow businesses to remain economically viable until practical tools to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from pastoral farming are available.

“We believe it is essential that government and sector invest in developing and bringing new technologies to NZ farmers to help them reduce their gross emissions as soon as possible. If our farmers have practical technology they can use, they will use it. Our farmers are rapid adopters and are innovative.” 

There is not yet practical technology for our innovative farmers to rapidly adopt.

We are already the most carbon efficient farmers in the world and are paying for research to find ways to become better.

But until that research gets practical and cost-effective results, the only way farmers can reduce emissions is to reduce stock numbers.

That won’t only make some farms uneconomic it will push up the price of food, reduce export income and have the perverse outcome of increasing global emissions as other far less efficient farmers increase their production to take advantage of the gap in the market left by less New Zealand produce.

It doesn’t help that there’s debate over the impact of methane:

There are suggestions we may have been incorrectly measuring methane emissions and the effect they have on overall warming.

Well known climate scientists Adrian Macey and Dave Frame have been looking at our climate change policy in relation to the rest of the world.

What they’ve found is that by using a more accurate metric to replicate what methane does to warming, we see that effects have been overstated by more than three or four times the actual damage.

When it came to introducing the new more accurate metric to climate change advisers within the Government they were either passive or dismissive of it.

Overall, they find the Climate Change Commission and the Ministry for the Environment simply got it wrong.

Methane is responsible for nearly half New Zealand’s emissions, but it’s impact on warming is much less.

The government is putting politics before science, trying to earn praise on the international stage at an enormous domestic cost in economic and social terms with no environmental gains.

It is in effect another tax that will lead to less food produced in contravention of the Paris Accord which states climate change mitigation should not come at the expense of food production.

It will have the perverse outcome of discouraging planting.

This is another example of the government putting the green cart in front of the science and technology horses at a very high economic and social domestically and doing no good for the global environment in the process.


Rural round-up

04/10/2022

Massive stockpiles as mānuka buzz fades – Richard Rennie:

Massive stockpiles of both mānuka and non-mānuka honey are the downside of a decade’s worth of double-digit growth as producers face the reality of disposing tonnes of product at severe discounts just to stay afloat.

Jane Lorimer, Waikato beekeeper and president of New Zealand Beekeeping Inc, said she expects to witness a lot of pain before any real gains come out of the industry’s current situation. 

The country’s total stock of honey in storage is estimated to exceed one year’s entire production.

“There will be pain before we see any real gain, most definitely. There are people who came into the industry thinking they would make money relatively easily out of mānuka, only to find they now have to exit.” . . 

 Mayor contenders agree on water storage and ‘broken’ council funding model – Simon Edwards:

They differed on priorities and approach but mayoral candidates for the Wairarapa’s three councils found some common ground on issues impacting farmers and the wider community.

At a 28 September election event in Carterton organised by Federated Farmers Wairarapa and Business Wairarapa, not one of the 11 would-be mayors had any quibble with an audience member who said more water storage in the region was vital.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he was “laser-focused” on the five key focus areas of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy:  “First is land use, and vital to that is water.  The only way to unlock our future is to unleash the delivery of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy,” Lang said.

There also appeared to be a high degree of agreement that amalgamation of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils – probably as a unitary council (i.e. with both territorial and regional council responsibilities) – is on the cards. . . 

 

English hands to the plough – Shawn McAvinue:

English farm machinery operators are travelling to the South to bridge a “dire” staff shortage, agricultural contractors say.

Hunt Agriculture co-owner Alistair Hunt, of Chatton, north of Gore, said it was hard to find staff.

“It is slim pickings.”

Agricultural contractors would be busy up to Christmas, he said. . .

Winners announced in the  inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand awards  :

The winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre last night.

It was a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world leading.

Andrew Morrison, Chairman of B+LNZ reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of COVID-19. 

“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world with around 24 percent of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints.”  . . 

Highly regulated industry better than complete ban supported by research :

Live Animal Export New Zealand (LENZ) says that the passing of the Act banning live animal exports will damage the New Zealand economy and is out of step with the views of the New Zealand public.

According to an independent research report by science insights company Voconiq, over half of New Zealanders surveyed have confidence that regulation can hold the industry accountable.

Research respondents believe with better regulation the Government can hold the live export industry accountable (55% agree) and that rather than banning live export, New Zealand should raise the standards required of the industry (59% agree).

Eighty-five percent of New Zealanders either agree (54%) or are neutral (31%) that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand. . . 

Industry partnership to launch meat-based vending machine meals in China :

Consumers will soon be able to buy ready-to-eat meals, made with New Zealand beef and lamb, from vending machines in Shanghai.

Major red meat exporters Beef + Lamb NZ, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms are piloting beef and lamb vending machines with meals ready for time-poor consumers.

Beef and Lamb spokesperson Michael Wan said the two Pure Box vending machines will be located in Shanghai’s busy business districts, offering another food option for busy workers.

Wan said buyers would be able to choose from six meals that had been co-designed by Shanghai chef Jamie Pea. They fuse traditional Chinese ingredients and flavours with Western food trends to highlight the taste of New Zealand-produced beef and lamb. . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2022

Research set to improve safety over calving – Bronwyn Wilson:

Research into sprain and strain injuries over calving has identified some simple ways farmers can reduce injuries on dairy farms.

The three-year DairyNZ project, funded in partnership with ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, is researching the causes of sprains and strains on dairy farms – and developing practical solutions to reduce injuries.

“Around 40 percent of injuries on dairy farms are sprains and strains, with the highest risk from August to October. As calving progresses, fatigue can set in and increase injuries,” says DairyNZ senior scientist and research lead, Dr Callum Eastwood.

As part of the Reducing Sprains and Strains project, 370 farmers were surveyed on how they managed health and safety, and whether injuries had occurred. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Mid Canterbury update – enhanced biosecurity measures in the Wakanui area :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme.

The M. bovis programme is now targeting the remaining known pocket of confirmed infection with depopulation starting on a mid-Canterbury feedlot in Wakanui and strict new biosecurity measures for the surrounding area.

Although further detections across the country are possible in future, the only properties known to have infected cattle are located in this small area, where there are three Confirmed Properties, including the feedlot.

M. bovis is known to be most commonly spread via direct contact between infected and uninfected cattle. However, despite recent thorough investigations, the programme has been unable to confirm the pathway(s) by which disease has been spreading in this area. . .

Gisborne drone spraying trial deemed a success – Hamish Barwick:

Gisborne based vegetable grower LeaderBrand recently trialled the use of drones for spraying at its Makauri Farm with positive results.   

LeaderBrand research agronomist Chris Lambert said the trial took place over three months during winter, an ideal time as the ground was too wet to operate a tractor on.

“We wanted to manage our weeds in winter. Rather than spray over a wide area, which is a big waste of chemicals, the drone was able to target weed clumps.”  

He said the advantage of drones is that they don’t compact soil like tractors do and they’re also more agile than helicopters. . . 

High-tech strawberry farm aims high in Foxton – Country Life:

Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.

“Welcome to our secret laboratory,” Matthew Keltie says.

Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.

A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes. . . 

Meryn Whitehead wins 2022 Young Grower of the Year national final :

Meryn Whitehead, a 28-year-old supervisor at Vailima Orchards, has won the national title of 2022 Young Grower of the Year, held in Nelson.

“It is a real privilege to be named the winner of this year’s competition, especially given the impressive talent on display,” says Meryn.

Meryn was one of six contestants that vied for the grand title in a series of practical and theoretical horticulture modules across two-days. The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrating their success in the industry.

Despite being Meryn’s second year entering the competition, she says the experience has been nonetheless valuable. . . 

Proposed Bill would support wine tourism in New Zealand :

New Zealand Winegrowers is thrilled the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill, proposed by Stuart Smith MP, has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today.

New Zealand Winegrowers has had longstanding concerns about aspects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act as they apply to winery cellar doors. This Bill would help to address some of our key concerns for wineries.

We congratulate Stuart Smith MP on having this Bill drawn from the ballot. As the Member of Parliament for New Zealand’s largest wine region, he understands first-hand the importance of this proposal.

Winery cellar doors are an important part of wine tourism, yet the current legislation does not permit wineries holding an off-licence to charge for tastings. “The current legislation is out of date,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “It either forces wineries to give wine away for free, or forces them to go through significant cost and time to acquire and maintain a separate on-licence.” . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2022

Too many famers still stuck in connectivity ‘slow lane’ :

Coverage, reliability and speed of mobile and internet services for many farming families and businesses are treading water, if not going backwards, the 2022 Federated Farmers Rural Connectivity Survey shows.

More than half of the nearly 1,200 farmers who responded to the survey report internet download speeds at or less than what could be considered a bare minimum (20 megabytes per second/Mbps) and those who said their mobile phone service had declined in the last 12 months jumped from 20% to 32%.

“For a sector that underpins the lion’s share of New Zealand’s export earnings, and one where productivity gains and reporting requirements are increasingly aligned with used of technology, apps and devices, this is really concerning,” Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“It’s a given that it’s easier and more profitable to deliver high standards of mobile and broadband to urban areas. But rural families and farm businesses – who due to remoteness and road travel times can really benefit from strong on-line connectivity access – must not be left behind.” . . 

Why does everyone want to work on a farm? – Brianna Mcilraith:

Job-hunters might be looking for a lifestyle and career change on the farm, if Trade Me data is anything to go by.

The site said agricultural jobs were the most-viewed listings last month.

The top five job listings were for South Island agriculture, fishing and forestry roles, and of the 100 most-viewed listings in August, more than half (55%) were in those categories.

Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said 18 of the most popular listings were for shepherds and a further nine for stock managers. . . 

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

An opposition member’s bill boosting penalties for biosecurity breaches has passed its first reading with near unanimous support.

In the name of National MP Jacqui Dean, the bill is aimed at deterring incoming visitors from bringing in illegal biosecurity items such as fruit or other food.

The Increased Penalties for Breach of Biosecurity Bill would double the existing penalty from $1000 to $2000, upon conviction.

It would also increase the on-the-spot fine for a false declaration from $400 to $1000. . . 

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

Biosecurity New Zealand has welcomed 17 new quarantine officers to help protect Aotearoa’s borders from invasive pests and diseases.

Eleven officers graduated on Friday after completing an intensive 10-week training programme. They will work at frontline border locations in Auckland to ensure international travellers and imported goods comply with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules. The other six new officers have joined Biosecurity New Zealand’s border teams in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The graduates will bolster Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline ranks as international passenger traffic begins to gather pace following the reopening of borders, says Mike Inglis, Northern Regional Commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He says Biosecurity New Zealand will have recruited nearly 60 new quarantine officers by the end of this year. There are plans to recruit a further 20 Auckland officers in early 2023. . . 

Alun Kilby from Marisco wins Marlborough 2022 Young Winemaker of the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco, who came became the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 21st September at MRC and the winners were announced at the Awards Dinner the same evening

Alun, 28, was thrilled to take out the title and the judges commented on his broad range of knowledge and skills as he scored consistently well across all sections.

Congratulations also goes to Thomas Jordaan from Vavasour who came second and to Ruby McManaway from Yealands who came third.

For the first time, there were ten contestants competing in the Marlborough regional competition. “It’s exciting to see how many aspiring Young Winemakers want to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Mick Ahern wins HortNZ’s Industry Service Award for 2022 :

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.’

Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgeling, kiwifruit export industry. . . 

Miriana Stephens wins Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022:

Horticulture industry leader, Miriana Stephens has won the Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022.

‘Miriana is shaping the future of the horticulture industry by example,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘She is a director of Wakatū Incorporation, which grows apples, kiwifruit and pears in its Motueka Orchards under the business, Kono.

‘To Miriana, business is not just commercial – it involves being a kaitiaki of the whenua and moana, as well as being commercially responsible.’ . . 


Rural round-up

08/09/2022

In defence of the Kiwi diet – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth disagrees with UK author George Monbiot’s argument that the average New Zealanders diet meat-loving diet could be devastating for the planet.

Overseas experts are not necessarily experts in the New Zealand context.

It seems to be taking us a very long time to realise this, even though we acknowledge that New Zealand is unique.

The country’s geological youth and maritime climate, combined with relatively recent settlement and educated population, mean that the development of the country has followed a different pathway to that of most countries. . . 

Rustling in the spotlight after hundreds of sheep stolen from North Canterbury farm :

The scale of a North Canterbury livestock theft reported to police on Sunday is uncommon, Federated Farmers says, but it estimates rustling is costing New Zealand farmers around $120 million a year.

Farmer Maury Leyland posted on Twitter about the theft of “hundreds” of sheep on Friday and asked for information.

“Beyond gutted, we have had rustlers on our farm in [North] Canterbury,” she wrote.

“Hundreds of sheep stolen. Yards, dogs, and truck must have come in. Someone must have seen something.” . . 

New apricots launching – Stephen Hepburn :

Tastier, juicier and brighter — new types of apricots are to be launched on the domestic and overseas market this summer which, long term, could bring millions of dollars to the Central Otago economy.

The newly established NZ Summer Fresh company announced yesterday it planned to commercialise the first three new apricot cultivars released by Plant & Food Research after nearly two decades of research and development.

Company chairman Stephen Darling said more than 50,000 trees of the new varieties, covering 60ha, were under trial in Central Otago and parts of the North Island.

The three varieties — yet to be properly named — have the potential to give apricot growers a significant boost and lead to increased planting of the fruit. . . 

Forestry conversion: effect on stock numbers expected to become clearer – Sally Rae:

While the increase in farm sales into forestry is yet to lead to a significant reduction in stock numbers, it can be expected very soon, Beef + Lamb New Zealand says.

B+LNZ’s latest stock number survey highlighted the extent of farmland being converted to forestry and said the real impact on livestock numbers was yet to be realised, while the hidden costs were “the demise of rural communities” and labour availability.

In a statement, B+LNZ economic service chief economist Andrew Burtt said there was usually a lag between farm sales and plantings, and planting was constrained by availability of seedlings and labour.

Sheep numbers nationally were steady over the past 12 months and beef cattle numbers fell only slightly, despite unfavourable conditions in some regions. . . 

Milk pick up off to a slow start :

Fonterra says its milk collections for July were 2.4% lower than July last year.

However, this represents only 25 of the full season forecast collection.

“Extremely wet conditions were experienced throughout July, but milk volumes have generally been comparable to the previous season.

“Calving is in full swing in the North Island, with the South Island starting in early August,” it says. . . 

Fonterra launches wellbeing nutrition solutions brand :

Fonterra is taking another step in implementing its strategy to be a leader in nutrition science and innovation with the launch of a new wellbeing solution brand, Nutiani.

The new business-to-business brand is targeted at both the multi-billion-dollar medical and everyday wellbeing nutrition markets.

Fonterra’s Chief Innovation and Brand Officer Komal Mistry-Mehta says the creation of the new brand brings to life concepts that help customers tailor their products to meet consumers’ evolving wellbeing nutrition needs.

“Our health and wellbeing customers are facing growing pressure to accelerate their innovation pipeline to respond to these dynamic consumer demands, yet they face common challenges during new product development and are looking for partners to fill their capability gaps. . .


Rural round-up

05/09/2022

Feds call for halt to Three Waters – Jessica Marshall:

Federated Farmers has called for the controversial Three Waters Reform to be stopped before the legislation bill reaches its second reading.

In a submission to a parliamentary select committee, Federated Farmers expressed concerns about the Water Services Entities (WSE) Bill. If passed, the bill would establish four water services entities in place of more than 70 local authorities that manage the country’s water supplies, storm and waste water management systems.

Federated Farmers argues that the bill should not proceed to a second reading in Parliament.

“Many farmers are either self-suppliers or their water is supplied by private water schemes, meaning they should not be directly affected by the move to WSEs,” it says. . . 

Pastoral farming gets a lift from $26m for regenerative agriculture research but should scientists start by defining it? – Point of Order:

In   a  week  when the Ardern   government  achieved  one of the  biggest  stumbles of  the  modern  era,  with  its backdown over the  KiwiSaver  GST  move,  it  did record  one  positive  outcome   with  a  $26m  research  programme to prove to the world why New Zealand food and fibre should be always the number one choice.

That was the drum Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor   was  beating,  showing  again  he  is  one  of  the  few  Cabinet  Ministers  who  gets  a  pass mark  in his  field.

In  an era  when  climate  change warriors are  casting  doubt  on  New Zealand’s  farming industries, and  calling for the nation’s dairy herd to be culled, O’Connor  says he wants  to  enable farmers to make informed decisions on the financial and environmental benefits of adopting regenerative farming practices.

He said:

“The Government is backing a new $26.1m programme to undertake the most comprehensive study of pastoral farming in New Zealand.” . . . 

Afforestation still a concern :

Afforestation continues to have a negative impact on rural communities, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The statement comes after the release of the B+LNZ Stock Number Survey which showed farmers adapting to challenging circumstances including drought, processing delays and Covid-19.

The report, published this week, also highlights the extent of farmland being converted to forestry.

B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt says that while the increase in farm sales into forestry is yet to lead to a significant reduction in stock numbers, it can be expected to soon. . . 

We’re feeling a bit down on the farm – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Red tape and weird weather are taking their toll on farmers’ spirits but baby boomer farmers have seen tough times before.

I started writing this column back in 1995 so it has spanned 27 years, which is a fair bit of my nearly 40-year farming career – and life, for that matter.

The 1990s were still tough farming years after the change and turmoil, not to mention low returns, of the late 1980s.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the pressure started coming off and instead of just fighting for financial survival here we started making progress with the improved returns. . . 

Deer industry on mission to challenge Russia’s edge in velvet exports :

Representatives from New Zealand’s deer industry are travelling to South Korea this month in a bid to boost velvet sales. 

South Korea is New Zealand’s biggest market for the product, consuming over half of what is produced, but exporters have to compete with well-established Russian products.

The markets manager at Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), Rhys Griffiths, said Russian exporters have an established stronghold in velvet imports into South Korea, where velvet is used in health products like herbal supplements and teas.

“When we look at the traditional medicine market where the Russians have historically dominated, if we kind of segment that out even further, we can look at the older Oriental medicine doctors and the older patients, they’re more attuned to Russian velvet,” he said. . . 

WA’s Wheatbelt Stocky Jarrad Hubbard aims to change negative perceptions of farming though social media – Olivia Di Iorio:

Jarrad Hubbard, a livestock agent in Western Australia, wants to shine a light on the agricultural industry through social media.

The self-proclaimed Wheatbelt Stocky’s Instagram page is full of images and videos of sheep and cattle across regional WA.

He says he shares insights into his life as a livestock agent in the hope of showing that those in the industry “take a lot of care and put a lot of love” into what they do.

In his first post in early 2019, Mr Hubbard wrote, “Whether you are involved or even opposed, I look forward to your input”. . . 

 


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