Rural round-up

07/07/2021

Farmers contribute much to NZ’s balance of payments and our standard of living – but some ministers don’t grasp this reality – Point of Order:

Global  prices for New Zealand products  from the  agricultural sector, as measured on the ANZ Commodity Price Index,  have risen for eight consecutive months to hit a  new  record in May.  Prices on the world index  are  up 18% this  year, or 17% in  local currency terms.

Some  economists are predicting more  rises  are  in  store  this  year.

The  gains  have  gone  some way in the  balance of  payments to offset big losses on  the  foreign  currency  front  from the overseas tourism and   international education sectors.

Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny says being a food producer has been positive during Covid-19 as people still need to eat in times of crisis. . . 

EU biofuel goals likely behind major deforestation in last decade, report says

European Union targets to boost biofuel use are likely to have led to the deforestation of an area roughly the size of the Netherlands over the last decade to expand soy, palm and other oil crops, a report says.

About 4 million hectares of forests mainly in Southeast Asia and South America have been cleared since 2011 – including about 10 percent of remaining orangutan habitat, according to estimates by campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E).

That suggests efforts to replace polluting fuels such as diesel with biofuels are paradoxically increasing planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, said Laura Buffet, T&E’s energy director.

“A policy that was supposed to save the planet is actually wrecking it,” she said. “We cannot afford another decade of this.” . . 

Primary industry heroes honoured by peers:

A collaboration that will reduce emissions and accelerate green hydrogen infrastructure, a company that has taken our honey to the world and an initiative to boost farmer mental wellbeing by taking them surfing have been recognised by their primary industry peers.

Food and fibre sector achievers were recognised at the 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards dinner at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch last night, with seven winners named from 65 nominations.

A favourite with many of the more than 500 farmers, growers, foresters and fishers present was the winner of the Team Award, sponsored by BASF. Steven Thompson from Bayley’s Rural Real Estate started helping farmers get out on the ocean waves as a way to leave the stress of their busy roles behind them for a few hours. Surfing for Farmers now boasts a team of 50 volunteers and has spread to 16 regions, with nearly 3000 farmers taking part.

“For most farmers it is their first time on a surf-board. Steven says when farmers come out of the water, it’s like a reset for them,” judges noted…

Retaining farming’s voice – Paul Crick:

As farmers, we are skilled at managing what happens inside the farm gate; it is the externalities, the factors we cannot control, that can cause the greatest amount of stress.

There has been a paradigm shift in our sector. So, it is pleasing to see Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s renewed strategy reflecting this change.

Two of the organisation’s three priorities are “outside of the farm-gate”, namely championing the sector and increasing market returns. The third priority, supporting farming excellence, means they will continue to deliver extension and support farmers to run sustainable and profitable farming systems.

This strategy shows that the organisation will do the advocacy and market development work on farmers’ behalf.

Who’s eating New Zealand? – Farah Hancock:

If you imagine New Zealand’s sheep meat as a plate of 10 meatballs, Kiwis would get to eat half of a meatball. So where’s the rest going? In the first story in a new series, Farah Hancock crunches more than 30 years of data to find out who’s eating New Zealand.

New Zealand produces enough food to feed about 40 million people but given our population is just 5 million, who are these people we’re feeding and what are they eating?

And in the land of milk and honey, how much is left behind for Kiwis?

RNZ has looked at some of our biggest merchandise export earners and some of our highest profile products to see who has been eating and drinking New Zealand over the past 30 years. . . 

Cannasouth to buy out cultivation and manufacturing joint venture partners:

Leading medicinal cannabis company, Cannasouth Limited has today entered into two conditional agreements to acquire the balance of the stakes that it does not already own in its cultivation and manufacturing joint venture businesses.

Acquisition of outstanding interest in Cannasouth Cultivation Limited

Cannasouth has entered into a conditional agreement with Aaron Craig and his family interests (Craig Family Interests) to acquire the remaining 50% stake in Joint Venture business Cannasouth Cultivation Limited that Cannasouth does not already own.

Cannasouth Cultivation has built a state-of-the-art growing and processing facility that will produce medicinal cannabis flower biomass at highly competitive production cost. It is energy efficient and more environmentally sustainable than indoor cultivation operations. . . 

Large rural land holding teed up to sell:

A substantial rural land holding in one of Mangawhai’s high growth areas has been placed on the market for sale.

The 50.14 hectare farm, is located near the internationally renowned Tara Iti Golf Course, and within a short drive to the Mangawhai Central development and the area’s famous surf beach.

The property at 213 Black Swamp Road is being marketed for sale via a tender process (unless sold prior) on 21 July, by Bayleys Country property specialist John Barnett. . . 


Rural round-up

17/08/2019

Gas measures bring cost cuts – Neal Wallace:

Winton dairy farmer Dean Alexander stumbled into the world of measuring carbon emissions.

Ironically, he had just spent more than $500,000 on resource consent and infrastructure to increase cow numbers when he realised the expansion meant an increase in his greenhouse gas emissions.

Alexander told the recent Dunedin meeting of the Ministry for the Environment’s Action and Agricultural Emissions public consultation he realised he needed to learn more about climate change.

From that research he concluded it is a real and looming threat, there is no silver bullet and farmers need to start reducing their emissions now.

“You need to do little things well and it is about starting now,” he says. . . 

Farmer who beat debt and depression on a mission to help :

A New Zealand farmer has told how he battled an eight-year drought and mental health issues to become one of the country’s top beef and sheep producers.

After years of spiralling debts and depression, Doug Avery turned his 2,400ha farm into one of New Zealand’s most successful farming enterprises.

It has been a long struggle, but he has since received widespread acclaim for his approach to farming, the environment and mental wellbeing. . . 

Book shares the shearers’ stories – Chris Tobin:

The success of an earlier book on drovers has prompted Timaru author Ruth Entwistle Low to write another, this time on shearers.

The Shearers: New Zealand Legends was launched in Timaru last week following on from her successful On the Hoof: The Untold Story of Drovers in New Zealand.

”It was a risk for my publishers taking on the drovers’ book,” she said.

”It’s a niche subject but the book sold well and was on the New Zealand best seller non-fiction lists for six weeks, which was pretty satisfying.”

That prompted the realisation that there was sufficient interest to warrant another similar book.

”When the dust settled on the first one, Penguin came back and said: ‘Do you want to write a book on shearers?’.” . . 

Minette Batters: Brexit has been “a face-slapping moment” for farming – Julian Baggini:

Minette Batters could not have chosen a more difficult time to become the first female president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). “Things could go massively wrong and it could decimate the industry,” she tells me at the NFU’s London headquarters. “It could destroy lives and livelihoods and families, and that is in the back of my mind at all times.”

The threat comes from a chaotic Brexit, which she has been fighting from the moment of her election in February last year. Her warning is grave: “If the government does forget about agriculture, if they do flood us with cheap ingredients that would be illegal for us to produce here, it would make what happened to coal and steel look like a walk in the park.”

Batters says Brexit has been “a face-slapping moment” for farming. Along with the climate emergency, it has forced the industry to think hard about sustainable agriculture. . . 

Plant-based meat substitutes drive headlines, beef drives sales :

Meat and poultry consumption is expected to hit record highs this year.¹ However, the news about animal proteins’ popularity has been overshadowed by recent headlines generated by plant-based meat substitutes, with national foodservice distribution deals and IPOs garnering attention in both trade and mainstream media. It is important to look beyond the headlines to put these next-generation meat substitutes, as well as the claims made by the companies producing these products, in context with sales numbers and consumer perceptions, as well as environmental and nutritional facts. While some of the companies behind plant-based meat substitutes aim to replace animal proteins, in 2018 beef was the most valuable protein at retail.²

Sales data reveals that last year consumers purchased 14 billion pounds of beef compared with 700,000 pounds of beef substitutes in both retail and foodservice. That is, beef substitutes comprised half of a percent of the overall market in pounds.³  . . 

Cannasouth harvests 1st crop of medicinal research cannabis:

Cannasouth has harvested its first crop of medicinal research cannabis from its purpose-built growing facility in Hamilton.

Cannasouth founders Mark Lucas and Nic Foreman have been growing industrial hemp varieties outdoors since 2002. However, this harvest is significant because of the high THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol) and CBD (cannabidiol) content of the plants, which are grown indoors under tight security.

Until now, Cannasouth has been conducting its research using raw high-grade THC-rich cannabis flower from the Netherlands – imported under a special licence from the Ministry of Health. . . 


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