Rural round-up

January 16, 2019

SIT plans takeover of Telford – Giordano Stolley:

The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) will submit a proposal to Education Minister Chris Hipkins to take over operations of the troubled Telford agricultural training campus in Balclutha.

A statement from the Clutha District Council yesterday afternoon quoted SIT chairman Peter Heenan as saying that he was “encouraged by the support from all parties at the meeting for SIT to pull together a proposal for the minister’s consideration”.

Mr Heenan made the comments at a meeting at the district council offices.

While the statement provided no details of the the proposal, Clutha Southland National Party MP Hamish Walker, said: “They [SIT] are looking to take over operations at Telford.” . . 

Funding call for Telford training farm campus staff:

The Clutha community is trying to raise funds for staff at a financially troubled rural training campus, mayor Bryan Cadogan says.

Dozens of staff at Telford agricultural training campus near Balclutha are stuck without pay while their employer’s future is decided.

The Telford training farm in South Otago is part of the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture, which was placed in interim liquidation late last year.

More than 30 tutors and support staff at Telford had their wages suspended on Friday. . .

Synlait plant registration renewed – Sally Rae:

Synlait has successfully renewed the registration of its Dunsandel plant, allowing it to continue exporting canned infant formula to China.

The registration was issued by the General Administration of Customers of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC).

Synlait chief executive Leon Clement said GACC had strict criteria that overseas manufacturers must meet to maintain registration.

New pasture legume hard to fault – Jill Griffiths:

THE PERENNIAL forage legume tedera is on track for commercial release in 2019. Dr Daniel Real, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), said difficult seasonal conditions in Western Australia this year had provided the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the potential value of tedera.

“Rain at the end of February created a false break,” Daniel said. “All the annuals germinated but then died, and the dry autumn left nothing in the paddocks. The annuals were non-existent but the tedera was looking good.”

Tedera (Bituminaria bituminosa var. albomarginata) is native to the Canary Islands and was brought to Australia in 2006 through research conducted under the auspices of the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre. . . . 

Deliberate food contamination needs harsher penalties:

A recent member’s bill which seeks to introduce harsher penalties and offences is good to see, but any action from it will have to be funded and resourced adequately to have any real impact, says Federated Farmers.

The bill is from National’s Nathan Guy and it comes in the wake of last year’s Australian strawberry needle scare which triggered copycat offences here and back over the ditch, says Feds Food Safety spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

Thousands of strawberries had to be destroyed as needles started showing up in the fruit across stores. The needle scares crushed spirits and trust. . .

How one innovative company is using bees to protect crops from disease – Nicole Rasul:

Billed as an “elegant solution to a complex problem,” Bee Vectoring Technology, or BVT, is a Toronto-based startup that is using commercially reared bees to provide a targeted, natural disease management tool to a range of agricultural crops.

The bumblebee, one of nature’s hardest workers, is the star of the BVT method. Hives that contain trays of powdered Clonostachys rosea CR-7, which the company describes as “an organic strain of a natural occurring endophytic fungus… commonly found in a large diversity of plants and soils all around the world,” are placed near a fledgling field. . .

Cheaper to get your 5+ a day at the end of 2018:

Avocados and lettuces were much cheaper than the previous summer, but egg prices hit a record high in December 2018, Stats NZ said today.

“Overall, getting your five-plus (5+) a day servings of fruit and vegetables was cheaper in 2018,” consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said. Fruit prices were 3.8 percent lower in December 2018 than in December 2017, while vegetable prices were 7.5 percent lower.

“Bad weather in 2017 reduced the supply of many vegetables, pushing up their prices,” Ms Duoba said. “Growing conditions were mostly more favourable during 2018, boosting supply and lowering prices.” . .


WIll PM keep promise?

May 17, 2018

Children in great need have been let down by the government’s refusal to fund Stand to run its services in Roxburgh.

The closure of the Roxburgh village for vulnerable children has been described as ”desperately sad”.

Yesterday, Stand Children’s Services announced its children’s villages in Roxburgh and Otaki would close.

It would mean the loss of 31 jobs in Roxburgh, about 6% of its population of about 520.

The government has $1 billion to throw into the regional development fund but can’t find $3 million to help vulnerable children and save the jobs of about 6% of the Roxburgh community.

Helping these children and keeping existing jobs would be far better use of the money than anything funded so far.

Stand chief executive Dr Fiona Inkpen said the organisation had been topping up the shortfall in government funding from its own funds for many years but reserves were used up and the organisation would need an extra $3million to keep the villages open.

Dr Inkpen confirmed southern children would be unable to attend the only other South Island Stand village, in Christchurch, as the waiting list was long and only Canterbury children could stay there.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said it was a ”desperately sad” day for the children of the lower South Island.

”Even though I anticipated this news coming today, I still feel physically sick reading it. I’ve got to admit that when we got all the way to the top [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern] last week, and got turned down, I didn’t see how the village could be saved.”

The closure would be a ”huge blow to Roxburgh”, but he had faith the town would survive.

Clutha Mayor and chairman of Local Government Zone 6 Bryan Cadogan, who played a major role in trying to keep the service, said it would mean the withdrawal of the treatment service for the lower South Island.

”I have contacted other organisations who were supposed to pick up the slack and it was an emphatic ‘no’ – they’re stretched like a violin string.”

The government has $1 billion to fund tertiary education for all students, most of whom don’t need it, but it hasn’t got $3 million for children in desperate need of help.

The Prime Minister keeps saying vulnerable children are one of her priorities.

She made a promise to improve their lives and it’s not too late to keep it.

The Prime Minister stands accused of breaking a promise and there would seem some foundation in the accusation.

Labour campaigned on policies aimed at improving the lives of children and, once elected, the focus on social policy was heavy: pledges to end child poverty, provide affordable housing, change parts of the welfare system, improve health delivery, lift the incomes of the “working poor”.

The Stand Children’s Services Roxburgh children’s village — tasked with changing the lives of vulnerable children who have suffered trauma — is sadly familiar with the social and health ills Jacinda Ardern has pledged to fix.

The village’s possible closure, announced last month because of a shortfall in funding, flies in the face of the promise of social focus from Ms Ardern, and the Prime Minister and Minister for Children, Tracey Martin, came in for harsh criticism at a public meeting held in Roxburgh last week to try to stop the closure of the village.

The Labour-led Government said it was serious about the children of New Zealand, but instead had “fallen at the first fence”, Teviot Valley Community Board chairman Raymond Gunn said. . . 

Ms Ardern has been conspicuously silent about the village, refusing to comment about its future, passing the buck instead to Mrs Martin.

Such silence smacked of a “guilty conscience”, Roxburgh staff member and New Zealand Public Service Association delegate Carol Hastie said.

The Government should be revisiting its decision not to bailout the village, and looking harder at what the village provides.

The Roxburgh village helps 380 children a year, and they are some of the nation’s most vulnerable.Luckily, most people cannot imagine the kinds of trauma that means a child needs to be sent to an intensive, residential, wrap-around service such as the Stand children’s village.

But for the children who have ended up there, through no fault of their own, the village can literally change lives.

Ms Ardern’s Government has announced various initiatives with a social focus. These policies will hopefully help some of the root causes that may lead a child to end up in a situation where they require an intensive, residential, wrap-around trauma service.

But why take away that very service?

The Roxburgh children’s village is still needed by the children in the village’s large catchment, which includes everything south of the Waitaki River.

Southern social service agencies have said there is no equivalent to the residential Stand service for the children who need it. . .

The Prime Minister has talked herself up as a champion for children and Shane Jones calls himself the savior of the regions.

The children who need the help of the Roxburgh village and the people who work there don’t need empty words.

They need action and the relatively small amount of money which the government is refusing to provide.


Rural round-up

July 4, 2016

Drought conditions in South Island continue:

The impact of ongoing dry conditions on the eastern South Island means the medium-scale drought classification will be extended until the end of the year, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $88,000 will go to drought recovery coordination and the five Rural Support Trusts in the area, with $30,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust,” says Mr Guy.

The announcement was made by Mr Guy at a meeting with local farmers in North Canterbury today, his fifth visit to the region since April last year.

“This will mean the area has been in drought for nearly two years, since its initial classification on 12 February last year. This will be the longest period of time a classification of this type has lasted for.” . . 

Jobs and land galore in Kaitangata:

Kaitangata has a jobs problem perhaps unique among small New Zealand towns – there are too many.

There are only two people without jobs in the entire town of 800, but at least 100 vacancies waiting to be filled.

Three-bedroom standalone houses are now being offered for only $230,000. There are currently 30 sections available, with the houses being built to order.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan says they come with “stunning views out over the delta”. . . 

Past, present and future of the meat industry (part 3) – Allan Barber:

The future

There are two diametrically opposing views on the meat industry’s future outlook: either the world is short of protein and has an insatiable appetite for what we produce or meat will be replaced by artificial or synthetic proteins, much cheaper and easier to produce.I can’t predict just where on the continuum between these two extremes actual reality will settle or which direction the trend will move. But it’s probably worth hazarding a guess that the top end of the market will continue to prefer the real thing, produced and presented to a high quality, while the poor who are unable to afford much if anything will be happy to accept the cheaper, artificial version. It is also quite possible the increasingly global craze for fast food, especially hamburgers, could be met by synthetic beef, but here again there would be a premium end of the market demanding the real thing. . . 

MPs urged to back no-tillage farming – Alexa Cook:

An international soil scientist is urging the government to reduce carbon by promoting “no-tillage” farming to the primary sector.

The method is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage, which results in carbon being captured in the soil instead of released through ploughing.

Scientist John Baker met with Labour MPs this morning as part of his crusade to get the message across that New Zealand has the machinery and technology to transfer carbon into the soil and keep it there. . . 

Silver Fern Farms announces contract extension and new special meeting date – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms have issued two new media releases announcing a revised completion date for the contract with Shanghai Maling and a new date for the shareholder requisitioned meeting.

The revised date of 30th September for meeting the one remaining condition of the contract has been agreed in principle by both parties and is subject to agreement of both boards. SFF’s CEO Dean Hamilton said “We needed to allow more time to answer the further information requests from the OIO and to then provide sufficient time for the OIO and then Ministers to consider the application. We continue to believe that the investment will be approved given its substantial merits.”

“The agreement to the new date reflects positively on the ongoing commitment of both parties to the transaction.” . . 

  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO Foods has just released its annual result for the 15 month period ended 31 December which shows a reduced profit compared with its 12 month 2014 performance. Pre-tax net profit was $5.702 million ($7.128 million in 2014) while NPAT was $4.49 million, down more than 50% on the equivalent 2014 result which included part of the tax benefit from the 2012 loss.

Notable features of the result were a large increase in inventory and in current bank debt which can be partly explained by the purchase of the remaining 50% of Five Star Beef and the effect of the December quarter. However these factors do not seem to explain fully the extent of the increase. . . 

Super Fund swoops on Southland dairy farms – Mel Logan:

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) is actively buying up dairy farms in Southland, clinching deals on seven properties with more to follow.

The new acquisitions come under a dark industry debt cloud and take the NZ Super Fund’s farm portfolio to 21, following two recent dairy purchases in Canterbury. 

NZSF says while the dairy sector faces some difficult short term challenges, it continues to have strong long-term potential. . . 

Fonterra Enhances Pre-Season Preparation:

A single-minded focus on effectiveness, efficiency and innovation across all aspects of Fonterra’s winter maintenance programme is delivering savings for the Co-operative as it gets match-fit for spring.

Director of NZ Manufacturing Mark Leslie said this “winter shut” period is an important time of year for manufacturing teams as all assets across Fonterra’s network of sites are fine-tuned to ensure they are ready for the season ahead.

“Each year we process around 18 billion litres of milk, with the bulk of this carried out in the spring months. The work we’re doing now will help us get match-fit for that peak period.” . . 

Fonterra Launches The Switch To Z Biodiesel:

Fonterra has taken another step forward in its commitment to environmental sustainability, today launching its switch to new Z biodiesel – as a foundation customer for the ZBioD fuel.

Fonterra and Z were joined by Minister of Energy and Resources Hon. Simon Bridges, Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne and other dignitaries today in celebrating the partnership at the Co-operative’s Edgecumbe site.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations, Robert Spurway said the shift to biodiesel is part of a move towards greater efficiency and sustainability across all operations, and helping Z make cleaner burning biofuel available in New Zealand. . . 

New Zealand Pork, Bacon and Ham Lovers Pay Attention!:

New Zealand pork, bacon and ham lovers pay attention – the ninth annual judging of the 100% New Zealand Pork, Bacon & Ham Competitions kicks of this Friday (1 July) in Wellington.

The Competitions celebrate New Zealand’s finest home-grown pork products and assist customers to identify and appreciate sustainable pork, bacon and ham which is PigCare™ Accredited*. The competitions support our pig farmers, who raise pork solely for New Zealanders.

This year an impressive 210 entries from butcheries nationwide will be scrutinized by an expert and independent panel of 34 judges comprising leading chefs, food connoisseurs and master butchers. The judges will blind-taste each entry to select New Zealand’s best pork, bacon and ham. . .  . . 


Jobs go jobs come

October 31, 2013

Jobs go.

It’s hard for everyone involved but for all sorts of reasons businesses change and the number of people they employ does too,

Sometimes it’s because of the introduction of more automation or the introduction of new technology which improves productivity but reduces the need for so many staff.

Sometimes it’s because a business loses customers or fails completely.

Fortunately while jobs go they also come and there’s good news for the Clutha District with 40 new jobs for Finegand from new casings plant.

A new added value casing facility at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand plant will see 40 new roles created in the Clutha region.

Silver Fern Farms’ Chief Executive Keith Cooper says the million dollar facility will take previously exported part-processed “green lamb runners” through to a processed sausage casing stage for export markets across the world.

“This development will create 40 new full time roles across our Balclutha – Finegand operations. It will create value from a product that will add to the profitability of our sheep meat business in the short-medium term,” Mr Cooper says.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who previously worked in a casing plant, says the move is good news for Balclutha’s Ready Steady Work programme.

“We have a Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs initiative for Clutha, which is aiming for zero unemployment for youth in the Clutha District. Silver Fern Farms have been a supporter of this programme from the start. These 40 new roles in our district will be a great help for our ambitions of realising this goal,” Mr Cadogan says.

Green casings will be brought to Finegand from four Silver Fern Farms’ plants across the country, making it one of the larger casing facilities in New Zealand Mr Cooper says.

“The plant will be operational year-round so our customers can have a reliable and high quality source of clean, salted casings.”

Previously the green runners had been exported in part-processed form to China for further processing.

Finegand previously had a casing facility which closed in 2005 due to the then demand for green runners. The new facility has a process which is forecast to use less than half of the water requirements of the previous system.

Forty new jobs is significant for a small town.

It’s good news for the people who will get jobs and the wider district.

This time next year one town or city in New Zealand will get a boost that will lead to more jobs when it becomes Chorus’s #gigatown.

New Zealand’s sharpest town, Oamaru, is doing it’s best to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown – #gigatownoamaru.


Some old mayors some new in south

October 9, 2010

Two southern mayors lost their seats in the local body elections.

Central Otago District elected Tony Lepper, with sitting mayor Malcolm MacPherson coming in third place behind another challenger Jeff Hill.

Clutha District’s new mayor is Bryan Cadogan who beat the incumbent Juno Hayes who was seeking a fifth term.

Queenstown Lakes District has its first female mayor – Vanessa van Uden . Sitting mayor Clive Geddes didn’t seek re-election.

Waitaki District re-elected Alex Familton with a majority of 1183 over the only serious challenger and former Deputy mayor, Gary Kircher.

Invercargill people gave Tim Shadbolt a majority of more than 11,000 over challenger Suzanne Prentice.

Southland mayor Frano Cardno was returned for her seventh term.

Gore mayor Tracy Hicks was not challenged.

Timaru returned sitting mayor Janie Annear for a third term.

Mackenzie District elected Claire Barlow as its new mayor by only 30 votes.

Further north I’m delighted Christchurch voters returned Bob Parker as mayor – and not just because he defeated Jim Anderton.

Len Brown beat John Banks to be first mayor of the new Auckland council. Voters also delivered a left-leaning council which disproves accusations from the left that uniting Auckland was a right-wing plot.

I think this means Robert Guyton, a regular commenter here, won a seat on the Southland Regional Council. If so, congratulations.


Will polls influence vote?

October 7, 2010

In general elections advertising or polling which might influence voters is not permitted after midnight on election eve.

With postal voting for local body elections campaigning and polling continues after the ballot papers have been distributed.

The ODT published a poll  last weekend of Clutha, Central Otago, Waitaki and Queenstown Lakes Districts which showed a couple of close results but will it influence the vote?

In Clutha Juno Hayes, the sitting mayor, had 34.8% with challengers Hamish Anderson and Bryan Cadogan tied on 31.3%.

In Central Otago sitting mayor Malcolm Macpherson had 38.7% support with Tony Lepper on 37.8% and Jeff Hill on 23.4%.

The Clutha race appears to reflect dissatisfaction with the incumbent but the split in the opposition may let him slip through. However the poll had a margin of error of 11.4% so it’s still anyone’s race.

In Central results show those who support the incumbent should vote for him and those who don’t you’d have a better chance of unseating him if they vote for Lepper than Hill.

In Queenstown Lakes Vanessa Van Uden received 62.5% support with Simon Hayes on 32.8%. In Waitaki sitting mayor Alex Familton had 54.8% support with current deputy mayor Gary Kircher gaining 37.5%.

Both should give the leaders some comfort but with margins of error of 9.6% in Queenstown Lakes and 9.3% in Waitaki there  is still the possibility of an upset.

Did the poll influence my vote? No, I posted my ballot paper on Tuesday after reading the results but they didn’t show change my mind over who I was supporting.

However, had I not already decided who I was supporting the poll may have been a factor I took into account.

UPDATE: The NBR quotes AUT University’s Institute of Public Policy director David Wilson who says those worried about the influence of polls shouldn’t underestimate voters.


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