Rural round-up

July 6, 2019

BLNZ looking into impact of land conversion – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report dodgy fliers :

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

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

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

Triple the success:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A carnivore diet is more vegan than a vegan diet :

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

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


Rural round-up

June 26, 2019

Farmers urged to submit on carbon bill – Pam Tipa:

Both DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are urging farmers to have their say on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill by July 16.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for the agriculture sector.

“That’s why farmer engagement is so important,” he says. He is encouraging dairy farmers to make a submission.

The bill’s full name is the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. . . 

Kiwi’s quinoa dream now a reality – Andrew Stewart:

A liking for a particular food on a foreign trip is paying dividends for Dan and Jacqui Cottrell and providing extra income for their Taihape farm. They told Andrew Stewart how they discovered quinoa and set about growing it in the central North Island.

Dan and Jacqui Cottrell didn’t realise an overseas adventure would change their lives forever. 

The year was 2012 and the couple were making the most of their South American odyssey when they had an epiphany in Peru. 

They had been eating a lot of quinoa, of which 80% of the global supply is grown in Peru, on their trip.  . . 

 

DIRA changes fall short – farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers want dairy industry regulations to apply equally to all milk processors in New Zealand.

They still want an end to the open entry/exit provisions of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) and an end to Fonterra providing subsidised raw milk to rival processors.

However, in proposed DIRA changes the Government has retained the open entry provisions but has allowed Fonterra the right to refuse milk from suppliers who are “not compliant with the co-op rules and from new dairy conversions”. . . 

Small kiwifruit have big taste – Richard Rennie:

Fruit size is providing the headwind to the new kiwifruit season while taste is the tailwind thanks to an exceptional late season ripening period that has left Zespri marketers with a paradigm for foreign markets.

Zespri’s grower alliance manager David Courtney said Green fruit size this season is 2.5 sizes smaller than usual and SunGold two sizes down on usual with the long, dry, ripening period scaling fruit down but pushing up drymatter levels to create exceptionally well flavoured fruit.

“We have had one grower who has been growing kiwifruit for 40 years who said he has never reported better drymatter levels in his crop.” . . 

New Zealand’s most fertile land dug up for housing – Indira Stewart:

Over the last decade more than 200 produce growers in Auckland have closed up shop as more rural land has been rezoned to residential to keep up with the demand for housing.

Now, after 60 years of growing vegetables in South Auckland, celery farmer Stan Clark has decided to close up as well.

Mr Clark’s celery farms were re-zoned from rural to residential in 2009 and the rising land rates are making business unsustainable.

The family is preparing to sell their much-loved farms in Pukekohe, a suburb that holds some of the country’s most fertile land, much of which is being dug up for housing. . . 

Large-scale dairy conversion farm with its own lake-sized reservoir placed on the market for sale:

A large-scale dairy conversion farm – complete with a huge lake-like reservoir –which has seen primary sheep and beef production replaced over the past decade in favour of milking, has been placed on the market for sale.

Strathallan Station some 26-kilometres north-west of Gisborne is a 1,213-hectare property currently milking a herd of 1,000 cows. Towards the centre of the property is a two-and-a-half-metre-deep ‘reservoir’ lake large enough for recreational kayaking and duck hunting. The reservoir sustains not only the farm’s irrigation needs, but also its milk shed requirements. . .


Rural round-up

June 25, 2019

Farmers have a tough time ahead let’s stand with them – Tom O’Connor:

The message from environment campaigner Guy Salmon of the need to adapt farming operations to avoid an eventual environmental catastrophe is not new.

It has been repeated many times in many ways by a growing number of far sighted people for several decades. For most of that time many of these people have been pilloried and ridiculed by those with vested interests or others who refused or were unable to understand the consequences of accelerated climate change.       

When Salmon told a conference of the Waikato Small Milk and Supply Herds Group at Lake Karapiro recently, unlike previous generations of dairy farmers, many of those in attendance would have been well aware of what he was talking about and the situation they face but unsure how to prepare for it. . . 

Farm credits on table – Neal Wallace:

The Government is considering letting farmers use riparian planting and shelter belts to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify now, vegetation must meet area, height and canopy cover criteria which primary sector leaders claim favours plantation forestry and ignores the carbon sequestering function of most farmland.

Livestock and horticulture sector representatives have been lobbying the Government to broaden the definition, saying New Zealand needs every available tool to meet the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 . . .

OIO review brought forward a year – Neal Wallace:

The Government has brought forward by a year a review into the screening of foreign forestry investors in response to concerns from rural leaders that large-scale tree planting is destroying communities.

The review was to be started by October next year but Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has confirmed it has already started and will look at the impact of Government changes to the Overseas Investment Act to identify any areas of concern.

The changes streamlined the vetting by the Overseas Investment Office of foreign forestry companies to reflect the fact about 75% of forest companies operating in New Zealand are owned by offshore entities. . . 

Leading food industry figures point to a positive future for New Zealand red meat:

Listen to the episode of Let’s Talk Food NZ podcast feature discussion panel HERE. Download images of the event HERE.

Last night, an expert panel made up of scientists and food industry experts were tasked with tackling the challenging question; Does New Zealand-produced red meat have a role in a healthy and sustainable diet?

Hosted by the Northern Club in Auckland in front of a crowd of food writers, nutritionists, dietitians and other interested parties, the panel covered a range of topics addressing whether we can meet the nutritional needs of exponential population growth, whilst working within the sustainable limits of planetary health.

The discussion was facilitated by NZ Herald journalist and editor-at-large of the Healthy Food Guide, Niki Bezzant who was joined by Dr Denise Conroy, Senior Scientist at Plant & Food Research; Dr Mike Boland, Principle Scientist at the Riddet Institute; Dr Mark Craig, a Auckland-based GP advocating a whole food, plant-based diet; Jeremy Baker, Chief Insights Officer for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd; and Angela Clifford, CEO of Eat New Zealand. . . 

Ballance partners with Hiringa for Kapuni hydrogen project – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – Ballance Agri-Nutrients is to develop 16 MW of wind generation at its Kapuni site as part of a plan to produce renewable hydrogen there.

The fertiliser maker has partnered with Hiringa Energy to develop the $50 million project at its site in southern Taranaki.

Up to four large wind turbines would provide a 100 percent renewable power supply for the existing plant and to power a series of electrolysers to produce high-purity hydrogen, either for feedstock for the plant or to supply zero-emission trucking fuel. . .

 

Open letter to the non-agricultural community – John Gladigau:

Hi

We need to talk.

Firstly – apologies to you, because we are not always that good at doing this. We all too easily get defensive, up in arms and occasionally confrontational when we are challenged, accused or criticised. The thing is, we get a little sick of being called uneducated and ignorant when we have a lifetime of experience and many of us have qualifications which are similar to (or even exceed) our city cousins. It hurts us when people tells us we are cruel to animals, don’t care for the future of the planet and are blasé about food safety whereas for the majority of us the opposite is true. It frustrates us when people with little agricultural knowledge or experience lecture us on social media about the dangers of chemicals, our contribution to a changing climate, soil health, genetic modification and more when we have spent a lifetime working in, studying, experiencing and developing strategies to not only benefit our businesses, families and communities – but also those we produce for that we don’t even know. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 2, 2019

National’s support ends if methane targets don’t change – Simon Edwards:

National will not support the Zero Carbon Bill passing into law if “ridiculous” methane targets are not wound back, the party’s climate change spokesperson Todd Muller said.

“I totally reject the view that when there is no ability to mitigate (methane emissions), you just push on regardless,” he told the Federated Farmers Taranaki agm in Stratford on May 24.

Farmers had some tough questions for him on why National had supported the bill in its first reading.  Muller said he achieved “about eight of the ten things I wanted” in terms of the framework for a new Climate Change Commission, and it was “better to be in there wrestling for something sensible” than throwing rocks from the outside . .

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters – Point of Order:

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China. . . 

The value of meaningful protest – Gavin Forrest:

I value the right to protest. Without protest and people standing up for a better society or against threats to their current way of life many of my friends would not be able to exist in the way they do today.

Farming wouldn’t  be the way it is today if it were not for the actions of those who came before us.  

While still in shock farmers protested in the streets of Wellington against a background of having subsides ripped from them with little to no consultation and at breakneck speed in the 1980s. . .

Woman makes history at dog trial championships – Sally Rae:

Sheer grit helped former Otago woman Steph Tweed make history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship.

Miss Tweed (27) won both the North Island and New Zealand championship straight hunt at the New Zealand championships in Northland this week with Grit, whom she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime” dog.

It was an all-male final, apart from Miss Tweed, who topped the first round with 97 points to clinch the North Island title, and then won the run-off with 95.5 points to secure the national title. . .

Women set to drive change in New Zealand’s meat industry :

Woman working in the meat industry have gathered for an inaugural meeting of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women (MBW) in Napier this week, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector.

Ashley Gray, General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Chair of MBW New Zealand has been instrumental in launching the professional networking initiative here in Aotearoa and says there is plenty the group can achieve once underway.

“Once I began on this journey, the interactions I had with women working in the supply chain, were for me – revolutionary. Women in our sector are incredibly passionate. They are forward thinkers, conversation starters, game changers, shakers and movers and I believe, collectively, have a huge role to play in shaping how the meat industry is perceived and operates in years to come. . . 

Appropriate rural midwifery resourcing must be addressed:

The College of Midwives is calling on health officials and the Minister to urgently address the shortage of midwives and facilities in the Southland DHB region.

The College’s Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says contrary to the DHB CEO, an ambulance is not an entirely appropriate place to have a baby – something that happened earlier this week between Lumsden and Invercargill.

“I’m not going to repeat the issues related to having a baby on the side of a road in an ambulance however this is something that underlines significant ongoing issues in this area of New Zealand,” she says. . . 

Jersey cows star in new single-breed milk launch:

Lewis Road Creamery today launched a new range of milk sourced solely from Jersey cows, as it unveiled the first single-breed standard milk to go on sale in supermarkets nationwide.

“The Jersey cow is rightly famous for her milk. It is richer, creamier, with higher butterfat and a more velvety texture,“ said Peter Cullinane. “A single-breed milk really lets those qualities shine.”

Mr Cullinane said as a dairy producing nation, New Zealanders deserved to have access to the best possible drinking milk, free from PKE and permeate. . . 

New directors elected to Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board welcomes re-elected directors Barry O’Neil and Hugh Ritchie, as well as new director Kathryn de Bruin, after four candidates contested three vacant Director roles.

Kathryn de Bruin joins the Board with a wealth of experience in the vegetable sector. Based in Dargaville, she splits her time between an accountancy practice focused on the primary sector, and growing 40ha of kumara with her husband Andre.

Katikati kiwifruit grower and Chair of Tomatoes NZ, Barry O’Neil offered himself for re-election, and has served as Board President since the departure of former President Julian Raine at the end of last year. . . 


Rural round-up

May 15, 2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

May 13, 2019

Tip Top to join Froneri global family:

New Zealand’s iconic ice cream company has a new owner, after global ice cream company Froneri today purchased Tip Top from Fonterra for $380 million.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell confirmed the sale, saying it was a bittersweet moment for Fonterra.

“Since we took ownership of Tip Top in 2001, a lot of work has gone into ensuring it remained New Zealand’s leading ice cream company. Over that time, we’ve had strong support from New Zealanders, and I want to recognise and thank them for that.

“Tip Top has always listened to consumers and cared about their changing tastes, as well as their long-time favourites. An average of 340 serves of Tip Top are enjoyed every minute of every day. . . 

Froneri unlocks NZ & Pacific with acquisition of Tip Top:

Froneri has today agreed to acquire the iconic New Zealand ice cream business Tip Top from global dairy co-operative Fonterra with completion expected by the end of the month.

Commenting on the deal, Froneri CEO Ibrahim Najafi explains: “We have always admired Tip Top, which is an iconic brand in New Zealand with a long proud history and we are looking forward to welcoming the team into Froneri. Our vision is to build the world’s best ice cream company; an important part of our strategy is to develop local market successes and roll them out across our other markets.” . . 

RWNZ: communities, opportunities, support – Sally Rae:

“We’re not just tea and scones.”

But as Rural Women New Zealand national president Fiona Gower points out, the social support aspect of the organisation remains as important today as it did when it was established nearly a century ago.

Ms Gower, who was in Oamaru last week for a RWNZ regional conference, wears many hats.

As well as her RWNZ position, she is also chairwoman of the New Zealand Landcare Trust, a qualified lifeguard and instructor, a Scout leader and a mother. . . 

The evolution of lamb:

New Zealand lamb has come a very long way since the first shipment of frozen lamb left Port Chalmers bound for the UK in 1882.  After a 98-day voyage it arrived in London on May 24th (aka #NationalLambDay) and New Zealand lamb’s export market was successfully established. 

I was curious to know how lamb has evolved in New Zealand’s foodservice industry over the years and spoke to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Platinum Ambassador Chef, Michael Coughlin.  Michael has been serving New Zealand lamb in restaurants for more than thirty years and in his current role as chef advisor for Provenance Lamb, he is now at the forefront of the gate to plate story which today’s chefs and their customers are eager to hear.

When Michael started his cooking career, he said the only Spring Lamb that was available to chefs was frozen, pre-cut export grade lamb destined for the European Market.  It was mainly racks from the middle of the saddle which were not Frenched or whole legs.  This meant that chefs needed to sharpen up their butchery skills or have a good relationship with their local butcher to trim down the cuts for their menus.  Slow cuts such as lamb shanks and lamb necks were still seen as dog tucker and it was all about the French Rack or traditional roast on restaurant menus.  Some years later the likes of Gourmet Direct started up which gave chefs more of a variety with vacuum packed individual cuts.  This opened up creativity for chefs and by the early-eighties the Lamb Cuisine Awards were introduced by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to entice and reward chefs for having creative lamb dishes on their menu. . . 

From Aussie jackeroo to Dunedin consultant – Sally Rae:

Sam Harburg may have grown up in the city but his affinity for agriculture developed at a young age.

Mr Harburg recently joined agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio as a consultant, moving from Australia to Dunedin with his wife Liz and their two young children.

Brought up in Brisbane in a non-farming family, he spent his school holidays on the farms of family friends.

As far back as he could remember, he was going to study agriculture at university but, at that stage, he never realised the scope that existed within the sector for careers, he said. . . 

We must become the world’s deli – Annette Scott:

Ashburton farmer Gabrielle Thompson has become the first appointed farmer director of Silver Fern Farms in a move designed to ensure succession and development of skills around the board table. She talked to Annette Scott.

When Gabrielle Thompson was approached to put her name in the hat for the Silver Fern Farms board she saw a chance to be involved in governance of a company that is a big part of her farm business.

A sheep an arable farmer, Thompson farms in partnership with her husband Peter and his brother Chris on 530 hectares at Dorie near Ashburton.

The trio finish up to 14,000 store lambs a year and for three generations the family has been a loyal SFF supplier. . . 

Third time lucky for dairy award winners

Colin and Isabella Beazley from Northland have been named share farmers of the year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards dinner in Wellington.

They are a smart, humble and practical couple who are doing very well at dairy farming on a challenging property in Northland.

Canterbury’s Matt Redmond was named dairy manager of the year and Nicola Blowey, also from Canterbury, is the dairy trainee of the year. 

They shared prizes worth more than $210,000. . . 


Asking too much of ag

May 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DairyNZ has similar concerns about the methane target:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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