Rural round-up

July 13, 2015

Savage dog attack kills 21 sheep: – Shannon Gillies:

A savage dog attack on sheep in the Christchurch suburb of Hei Hei has left about 21 animals dead and others injured.

Joshua Olykan said he came home to his parents’ Buchanan’s Road property yesterday morning to discover 14 animals dead, dying or badly injured.

He said two other neighbouring properties also suffered stock losses, with more than a dozen sheep savaged in a paddock between Gilberthorpes Road and Pound Road. . .

Save recreational access plea by Federated Farmers and Fish & Game:

Federated Farmers and Fish & Game are asking Parliament to ensure proposed health and safety legislation does not lead to restrictions on recreational access to farms and forests.

The Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill is presently being considered by the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee, which is due to report back on 24 July.

The bill is aimed at improving safety in all workplaces, including farms, but Federated Farmers and Fish & Game are concerned it will also inadvertently prevent people enjoying farms for recreation.

“We are all for making workplaces safer. New Zealand workers deserve nothing less,” said Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson. . .

 Dairy farmers spend over $1billion on the environment:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ have conducted a survey on New Zealand dairy farmers’ environmental investments, revealing an estimated spend of over $1billion over the past five years.

Five percent of the nation’s dairy farmers responded to the survey and reported on the environmental initiatives they had invested in such as effluent management, stock exclusion, riparian planting, upgrading systems and investing in technology, retiring land and developing wetlands.

“It is encouraging to see the significant investments farmers are putting into protecting and improving the environment,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“Farmers understand the need to get the balance right when it comes to lifting production and profits along with environmental responsibilities. . . “

 OceanaGold sees more life in Macraes goldfield – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp, which is in the process of buying the Waihi Gold Mine, sees more life in the Macraes Goldfield in Otago as cheaper fuel and a weaker New Zealand dollar make the operation more attractive.

The Melbourne-based company discovered a new zone of gold mineralisation which could increase the potential reserves of the Macraes mine after embarking on a drilling programme in the first quarter of the year, it said in a statement. OceanaGold has been investigating ways to extend the mine’s life by three to five years after signalling plans to wind down the operation by the end of 2017.

“Changes to macro-economic conditions such as lower fuel costs and a weaker New Zealand dollar have resulted in significant benefits to our New Zealand operations,” chief executive Mick Wilkes said. “I am pleased to report that initial drilling has produced significant results that demonstrate the potential for increased reserves at the Macraes operations.” . .

Farmer experience ‘bottled’ to help dairying bounce back:

DairyNZ has created a new online resource detailing the financial spending of top performing dairy farms. This is part of the organisations work to help farmers cope with lower milk prices and set the industry up for a speedy recovery.

Economic modelling shows if farmers can decrease their potential loss by up to $1/kg MS this season they could recover from the low milk price three to four years faster.

DairyNZ general manager of research and development David McCall says one of the ways to capture this dollar is by spending on the right things and implementing good budgetary control of costs. . .

 Mexico wants more live NZ sheep, says broker – Eric Frykberg :

Timaru livestock dealer Peter Walsh says Mexico wants more live sheep from New Zealand.

Mr Walsh organised the sale of 45,000 sheep to Mexico.

Listen to Peter Walsh on Checkpoint ( 2 min 45 sec )

He said when they arrived, the Mexican authorities announced that they wanted more.

He said they would like 250,000 head a year in order to build up their national flock from quality New Zealand bloodlines, and he would be interested in doing more business with them. . .

Concern over upping live sheep export numbers – Rachel Graham;

Federated Farmers say the flow on effects of increasing live sheep exports to 250,000 a year would have to be carefully considered before it was given the go ahead.

 A livestock dealer who organised the sale of 45,000 sheep to Mexico for breeding, said the Mexican Government would like it to increase to 250,000 sheep a year.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair Rick Powdrell said the 45,000 sheep were sold by farmers struggling due to drought, and were likely to have been killed anyway.

He said sending a quarter of a million sheep a year would be a completely different situation. . .

Young Farmers Backed by Blue Wing Honda for Four Decades:

As the longest-standing sponsor of the ANZ Young Farmer contest, Blue Wing Honda has seen many talented young people take the title over the years – 40 of them to be precise.

Matt Bell of Aorangi was the latest to be awarded the coveted prize, winning the 2015 Grand Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest at Taupo over the weekend. Now in its 47th year, the contest known as ‘New Zealand’s ultimate rural challenge’ tests competitors’ mental dexterity and physical stamina while showcasing the sophistication of modern farming. . .



Rural round-up

April 6, 2015

Helicopter pilot Simon Spencer-Bower sets high farming and flying standards – Tim Cronshaw:

As a boy Simon Spencer-Bower would crane his neck to the sky to watch the crop dusters flying over his family farm at Eyrewell.

The deep impression their aerial feats made on the youngster was to set him on a lifetime of flying with a healthy mix of farming.

As soon as he left school he gained his fixed-wing pilot license in 1967, aged 18. . .

Anti-dairying rhetoric is out-dated :

Farmers don’t want weaker environmental policies. Ten years ago we were fair game for the ‘dirty dairying’ remarks by Fish & Game, today not so much.

Bryce Johnson recently said his organisation has moved on – that they are not anti-dairying, but rather they are anti-dairying that is harming the environment. But the question remains, why is the focus on dairying, as opposed to any other activity that harms the environment?

Environmental compliance and reducing farming’s impact is now an everyday part of a dairy farmer’s business.  We know there are a few ratbags out there – every industry has them – but while some regional councils try to clean up the tail-end of our industry they overlook their cousins in their own backyards. . .

Otago Regional Council blindsides ratepayers:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Otago Regional Council to properly inform and explain themselves to their ratepayer farmers who are facing huge increases in rates and consent costs this year.

“The Otago Regional Council needs to be held to account on their Long Term Plan consultation document, which is severely lacking in reasoning for their major increase in farmer rates,” Says Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president.

“The Council is proposing a heap of big changes such as new water quality targeted rates for water monitoring, a new dairy monitoring targeted rate, and significant increases in the consent fees they charge all of which will mean increased costs for farmers. For many this will run into the thousands of dollars.” . .

No bull in proper effluent management – Chris Lewis:

I never thought when I entered farming politics that there would be so much talk about the stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow.  The polite term is ‘effluent’ of course; not polite are its effects and the costs of managing it.

Waikato Federated Farmers has the task of holding our regional council to account when warranted, and effluent is a big bone of contention. But they have a job to do, as we do, so it’s sometimes important we celebrate them. Just as farmers often feel criticised by the media, I imagine councils do too, giving the public an ill-informed perspective. . .

  Top farm business an industry leader:

An Omarama couple who run a traditional high country combination of merino ewes and cattle with hydroelectricity generation for good measure have won the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Richard and Annabelle Subtil were the supreme winners announced at a ceremony on Thursday after amassing section awards for innovation, integrated management, soil management and water quality.

They run the 12,000 hectare Omarama Station, a family-owned property previously farmed by Annabelle’s parents Dick and Beth Wardell.

South of Omarama village, the Mackenzie Country property winters 23,000 stock units, including 7500 merino ewes and 310 angus-hereford cows. . .

Earth greening despite deforestation – Albert Van Dijk & Pep Canadell:

WHILE the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade.

Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and South East Asia, we found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Plants absorb around a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people release into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. With a greening globe, more plants may mean more absorption of carbon dioxide. If so, this will slow but not stop climate change. . .

Rural round-up

April 28, 2014

Onwards and upwards for millers – Sally Rae:

When Griffins Foods signed a contract to source flour from South Canterbury-based Farmers Mill, it was a leap of faith in a group of arable farmers.

At that stage, Farmers Mill did not have a mill, let alone the ability to supply a sample. Nor was there a track record in flour production.

”It’s a great story in the sense that Griffins bought into the idea without a mill and no product,” Farmers Mill chairman and South Canterbury farmer Murray Turley reflected.

He attributed the biscuit and snack food company’s confidence in the yet-to-be opened mill to the security of the raw material and knowing the source of it. . .

Recovery but still fragile:

RECENT RAIN IN Waikato and South Auckland has set farmers on the road to recovery from the drought but the situation remains fragile for some, a meeting of farming leaders and central and local Government officials has heard.

The teleconference attended by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and other farming groups, the Rural Support Trust, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Waikato Regional Council was told there had been good rain in the two regions over the past week.

There was general agreement that the drought had been “broken” by the rain but rainfall totals still weren’t that much in some places, some pasture was still brown and that more rain was needed over coming weeks to ensure that recovery continued. . .

Fish & Game calls for public enquiry into the future of farming:

Fish & Game NZ is calling for a public enquiry “to examine the future of agriculture in New Zealand”.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson suggested the move in a presentation to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today where he was invited to discuss the future of farming following the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recent critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways.

In his submission Mr Johnson explained the impact intensive agriculture is having on waterways.

“Two recent public polls confirm the wider public is clearly engaged in the issue now – and the overwhelming majority want the dairy sector to adopt a different way of operating in the future,” he says. . .

Dark horse takes the win in Aorangi:

James Davidson is the last Grand Finalist to be named in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest after earning top spot at the Aorangi Regional Final Monday 21 April in Fairlie.

Crowds packed the Mackenzie Showgrounds as the eight Young Farmers demonstrated their skills, strength and stamina in the practical challenges including constructing drafting gates, digger operation and carving a wood sculpture using a chainsaw. Later in the evening the Mackenzie Community Centre was abuzz for the evening show and quiz round.

It was Mr Davidson’s first attempt at the regional level and admitted he was quite shocked after winning what he says was a rather difficult competition. . .

Rural broadband initiative milestone –  Leeana Tamati :

The sight of Netta Wilton sitting in the middle of a paddock with a laptop would probably seem odd to passersby, but it was a common scene last year.

Mrs Wilton, who lives in Scotts Gap with her husband Karl and three children, had such slow broadband

she would need to sit in a paddock to get any kind of reliable speed to do her online banking.

Mrs Wilton and her household can now successfully watch videos, play games and do the banking online, thanks to the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

The RBI is a partnership between Vodafone and the government aiming to upgrade 387 existing cell towers and build 154 new towers around the country in a bid to give rural residents access to fast broadband. . .

Faster scanner at Invermay :

A new CT scanner at Invermay will provide South Island sheep and deer farmers with faster and more accurate carcass measurements.

The scanner, which uses X-ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, has been provided by Innervision, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch.

It replaces an older scanner that has been in operation for 18 years. . . .


Get a taste for training:

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre is holding a four day Taster course on the Wairarapa campus 28 April – 1 May.

The Taster programme is an opportunity for anyone thinking about getting involved in agricultural training to have a ‘taste’ of what Taratahi training and campus life is all about.   

Taster students will stay at the Wairarapa campus for four nights in student accommodation and enjoy three hearty meals a day.  The days are jam-packed with modules on quad bikes, chainsaws, fencing, stock movement and lots more.

During the four days Taster students will also discover all the study options available at Taratahi and most taster students get an idea early on if they are interested in specialising in sheep or dairy. . . .

Land & Water Forum’s final report generally welcomed

November 16, 2012

The Land and Water Forum’s final report fleshes out the detail of a new consensus for a major reform of water laws and practices in New Zealand,”  Forum chair, Alastair Bisley, said.

“The breadth of this consensus provides a once in a generation chance to resolve the entrenched problems surrounding fresh water.”

The Forum is recommending integrated decision-making in catchments, continuous improvement of management practices and clearer rights to take and use water within set limits.

Mr Bisley said: “Our reports together provide a comprehensive and detailed blueprint to maximise opportunities from fresh water for us all – farmers and fishers, power generators and recreationalists, citizens and tourists, cities and industries.

We want to grow the economy and improve the environment. Our recommendations apply to both urban and rural catchments. They provide for iwi to play their role as Treaty Partners and stakeholders.

“We call for community decisions at catchment level – within national frameworks and bottom lines from central Government.”

The Forum proposes a collaborative approach at both national and catchment levels to set and implement objectives for waterways, prescribe limits for takes and discharges where these are required, and to find fair, efficient and accountable ways to implement the limits.

“The Forum believes all water quality solutions should be tailored to individual catchments,” said Mr Bisley.

“Good management practice by land and water users is the basic tool. Incentivising it is the preferred approach. Regions are accountable for managing within limits. Industry schemes, catchment-wide initiatives and regulation may all help to ensure the limits are achieved within the agreed timeframes.

“Water available for users once limits have been set should be allocated with long-term economic welfare in mind.

“All authorised takes should be brought progressively within the allocation system.

“As catchments become fully allocated, consents should be clarified and strengthened to preserve their value. Water should be made more easily transferable between users while limits are preserved.” . . .

He described the report as a once in a generation opportunity :

 . . . While there were some notable non-signatories to the outcomes of the four year experiment in consensus decision-making, the forum managed to get 95 percent of its 60-plus members from industry, local government, iwi, environmental groups, recreational users and farmers across the line on 67 recommendations.

Among signatories are the national farming lobby, Federated Farmers, although their objection to any system requiring water rents saw the forum make no recommendation in that area.

The system it promotes would see the government establish national guidelines and standards for freshwater catchment management, which would be used by regional councils as the foundation for collaborative processes at a local level to establish “scarcity thresholds” for freshwater resources. . .

Dairy NZ has welcomed the report:

DairyNZ says the key to setting and managing to water quality limits is collaborative decision-making at a catchment level.

Commenting today on the release of the final Land and Water Forum (LAWF) report, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says, “We recognise, as the LAWF report does, that this kind of community-driven catchment process needs to become the centre of water quality and quantity management.

“That is how we will make a difference to water quality – catchment by catchment across the country. Communities understand that, because people can relate any impact to the place where they live and work and their local waterway, so will take some ownership of the actions.”

He says that dairy farmers are already involved in these kinds of processes throughout New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Third Land And Water Forum Report:

The final report from the Land and Water Forum strikes a balance between preservation and production, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

As a member of the forum we sought recognition for sheep and beef farmers as stewards of our rural land, while preserving opportunities for those who manage water sustainably.

It has been a long and complex process, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand Western North Island Farmer Director, Kirsten Bryant. “But, ultimately, one in which the voices of water users of all different types have been heard and in which we have all worked together for the good of all of New Zealand.”

She welcomed the emphasis throughout the process on local people making local decisions, within a national framework. . .

Meridian Energy also welcomes the report:

Meridian Energy today welcomed the release of the Land and Water Forum’s (LAWF’s) third report.

Chief Executive Mark Binns congratulated the Forum for pulling together a complex and diverse group of water interests.

“There are a range of views on the right approach to manage New Zealand’s fresh water resources. This forum has enabled all parties to put their views on the table,” says Mr Binns.

“Recognition should go to Chair Alistair Bisley and all Forum members for their four year collaboration. The result is three quality reports that will help improve water management for New Zealand.”

The water allocation report marks the conclusion of the Forum’s work. “LAWF’s collaboration provides an opportunity for making positive change to the way New Zealand manages its water. This framework is capable of protecting the environment and enabling economic growth,” says Mr Binns.  . .

Business NZ says the recommendations are positive:

The third report of the Land and Water Forum brings useful recommendations for improving New Zealand’s freshwater management, says BusinessNZ.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said water was essential for many business activities which drive New Zealand’s economy and on which many New Zealanders rely for employment and income growth.

“Businesses require the confidence to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects knowing their rights to use water are clearly understood and secure.

“Investors are risk averse and any changes in the right to take or use water over time need to be clearly understood.

“It is important that transfer and trade in water rights are facilitated to the extent possible allowing water to move to its highest valued use, without unnecessary restrictions from regulators.”

Fish and Game says cherry picking would derail a water clean up:

Fish & Game NZ says the release of the third and final Land and Water Forum (LWF) report will only have an impact on improving freshwater management if the Government accepts all of the Forum’s recommendations, which are interconnected, and not pick and choose those which suit.

In these three reports the Government now has the bones of a blueprint – reached by consensus – for how to manage the public water resource, says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“All three reports must be treated as a package deal,” he says. “LWF’s second report recommended the need for a national objectives framework for water quality but the Government took it upon itself to develop these outside the forum framework. We’ve never had reasonable justification for that decision, which is odd given all the expertise was around the LWF table.

“LWF has been deliberating on these issues to reach a consensus for fouryears now and during that time freshwater quality and quantity has continued to deteriorate,” says Mr Johnson. . .

Federated Farmers supports the recommendations:

“Despite what is said at times about our environment, we must never forget we still enjoy some of the highest quality water on earth,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesman.

“LawF recommendations are about setting a pathway to protect and over time, improve our already high water quality. It is about better managing our most precious natural resource to fulfil our social, economic, environmental and cultural needs.

“Farmers support this aspiration and Federated Farmers is committed to playing our part in achieving it.

“We know the way we farm will need to change. Perhaps what needs to be fully understood is that change is also needed beyond agriculture. LawF covers all water, rural or urban, so we are all in this together.

“At the heart of LawF recommendations is for communities to adopt a collaborative process in setting water quality limits. This mirrors the one we have gone through on LawF itself. It is a very good way to understand issues in depth.

“Any collaborative process must be genuinely informed by what limits mean for individual communities. It is about striking a balance between what is feasible and what is not.

“Federated Farmers does take issue with some regional councils rushing to set limits. This fails to inform or involve the community in what will affect jobs, a community’s standard of living, or for that matter, its makeup.

“There are also some local councils who believe they ought to be exempted because they cannot achieve limit objectives and therefore, shouldn’t have to. It is the kind of thinking some farmers may have harboured decades ago, but not now.

“For agriculture, the regulatory process should embed Good Management Practice (GMP), the inclusion of farm environmental plans and where appropriate, Audited Self Management (ASM).

“Good Management Practice provides a holistic way to address water quality issues than the nitrate myopic approach suggested by many regional councils.

“Good Management Practice should further help communities decide where limits should be set, so as not to cause social and economic damage. I guess this is about empowering communities to find the right balance.

“LawF recommendations are a roadmap and Federated Farmers supports them,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

Te Wai Maori Trust says the report is a practical and sensible solution to fresh water management:

New Zealand’s future as a leading primary sector producer as well as our nation’s 100% Pure New Zealand brand depends on our ability to sustainably manage the valuable fresh water resource. The third report of the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), released today, provides a responsible yet practical way forward to freshwater management, the Te Wai Maori Trust says.

Te Wai Maori Chairman Ken Mair today called on the Government to implement the recommendations, which found that iwi rights and interests must be resolved for any freshwater management regime to be stable and durable in the future.

“There are a range of competing uses for fresh water throughout the country – from dairying to crop farming, urban demands to tourism uses. But the Government will not be able to resolve them in a durable manner until it engages with iwi over Maori rights and interests in fresh water,” Mr Mair said. . .

Regional councils say the report cements their role:

Chair of the regional sector group Fran Wilde said the report cements the role of regional councils in managing New Zealand’s freshwater resource and highlights the need for a more supportive national framework for collaborative decision-making.

“Regional councils are at the forefront of water management and use a variety of methods to manage and enhance water quality,” said Ms Wilde.

“There is strong support among councils for collaborative decision-making regarding water quality management and we have a number of successful examples of this in action.” . .

Environmental Defence Society endorses Land and Water Forum Report:

The release of the third and final report from the Land and Water Forum has been welcomed and endorsed by the Environmental Defence Society.

The Forum originated at the 2008 EDS Conference where an initial support group from a wide range of interests, including farming and environmental, agreed to try and find a better way of managing freshwater.

“It’s been a long road since then, with the Government getting behind the exercise and the core group expanding to include representation from all key stakeholders and from iwi. Four years on there is now a package of measures that need to be taken together and implemented by Government,” said EDS Chair Gary Taylor. . .

However, Irrigation NZ says last minute changes weaken the report:

IrrigationNZ says last minute changes to the Land and Water Forum’s Third Report, ‘Managing Within Limits’, have weakened its integrity.

“IrrigationNZ has spent the past year collaborating in good faith to reach agreement on how water quantity and quality is best managed in NZ. A package that provided a sound platform to support sustainable future growth in New Zealand had been produced. However, last minute changes, particularly to the water allocation section, mean IrrigationNZ now questions whether the Land & Water Forum is the collaborative consensus- based process it claims to be?” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

While Mr Curtis says there are many positives within the final report, including the need for; community-driven catchment-based water management; industry ‘Good Management Practice’ as the preferred route; development of community water infrastructure to address over-allocation; and a move to plan-led water management – IrrigationNZ has major concerns about parts of the water allocation chapter.

Certainty is the key if irrigators are to invest in sustainability. Irrigators need long-duration consents and an explicit right of renewal,” says Curtis. “Short durations and uncertainty of renewal will produce reactive and high- risk thinking which creates scenarios prohibitive to capital investment. If the community wants environmental gains without job losses or food price increases, then New Zealand must implement a resource management system that allows for long-term investment and thinking.”

There is also a need for community-driven water infrastructure solutions to be consented for over 50 years. This would improve the viability of initial and on-going capital investment. In return for this, IrrigationNZ agrees consents need to adapt in a timely manner to environmental limit changes. “This is the most logical package for water allocation,” says Curtis. Having recently returned from an overseas study tour of irrigation developments in the UK, Israel and Australia he says, “It is also consistent with water allocation internationally.”

“Irrigators have committed to more sustainable farming practices. Certainty, long-term thinking and catchment-based water management are the only way water quality and quantity objectives set by the wider community will be achieved in New Zealand.”

The full report can be downloaded  here.

Fish & Game internal ructions

October 27, 2009

Fish & Game’s challenge attempt to establish a right to roam on pastoral lease land was an expensive business for pastoral lessees and the Crown who were defendants.

It was also costly for the organisation and not just in financial terms. It has caused serious internal ructions.

The Timaru Herald reports that Central South Island Fish & Game has passed a vote of no confidence in the organisation’s national chief executive, Bryce Johnson.

Fish & Game is funded from fishing and hunting licences. Many pastoral lessees hold licences are were livid that they were paying for the court action three times – through their licence fees for the body taking the action and both as taxpayers and lessees for the defence.  

Anecdotal evidence from people hunting and fishing on their land supported lessees’ contention that Fish & Game didn’t have whole hearted support of its members for the action. This vote of no confidence supports the anecdotes.

Healing the rift in the high country

March 26, 2009

Pastoral  lessees head for court with LINZ today to defend their property rights  against an attempt by Fish and Game to establish the right to roam in the high country.

High Country Accord chairman Andrew Simpson estimated it would cost pastoral lessees $200,000 to defend but said the stakes were high.

“It’s a direct threat to our way of life and the ability of pastoral lessees to farm the land. We can’t farm if we don’t have some form of control over who enters our properties,” he said.

The case is being heard in the High Court at Wellington, and if successful would grant the public as-of-right access to pastoral lease land for recreation – so long as it did not interfere with the lessee’s exclusive right to pasture for grazing livestock.

 . . .  Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said his organisation was seeking a declaratory judgement on whether pastoral leases granted under the 1948 Land Act offered exclusive possession or exclusive occupancy of the land.

He will argue that pastoral leases only grant runholders exclusive rights to the pasture.

I hope the judge is familiar with Shakespeare because I think this argument is similar to the one which prompted Portia’s speech in The Merchant of Venice.

Tarry a little;—there is something else.—
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are, a pound of flesh:

The words expressly, with pastoral leases, are land exclusive of improvements.  The land is publicly owned but the improvements which include the fertility, grass, crops, tracks, trees, fences, gates, and buildings, are the property of the lessee.

I reckon that would preclude the right to roam because no-one could enter the property without touching at least some of those improvements.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, we can be grateful that the government wants to heal the rift which developed between pastoral lessees and the previous administration.

Lands Minister Richard Worth said the relationship between lessees and the previous government had collapsed, with farmers feeling there was no trust between the government as landlord and the lessee.

Mr Worth said in an interview he was committed to a relationship based on three policy planks his party campaigned on at the last election: voluntary, good-faith negotiations between runholders and the Government; ensuring rentals were tied to the earning capacity of the property; and recognition that runholders could be as effective land stewards as the Crown.

The inclusion of amenity values in determining rents for leashold land led to court because some lessees are being charged rentals which exceed their gross income just because the sheep and cattle have a view while grazing.

The case concluded last month but the judgement has yet to be released.

Without pre-empting that, there is no doubt this government has a more reasonable attitude to pastoral leases than the previous one.  As Agriculture Minsiter David Carter says:

“The land is not easy to manage and the fundamental question we now have to ask is how will the Doc manage its already 43% hold of the South Island.”

Mr Carter said Doc and other interested parties needed to work more closely with farming families who, in many cases, had farmed the land for several generations.

“They are the ones who have delivered us the landscapes we see today. They are the ones with the ability to manage it far more sustainably than any government department,” he said.

 The previous government was hung up on ownership. But conservation can be assured and access negotiated without wasting taxpayers’ money on purchasing land and the on-going costs of ownership.


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