Rural round-up

October 23, 2019

No change to methane targets – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets are to remain but the Environment Select Committee considering submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill is recommending greater safeguards for using forestry to offset emissions.

The committee recommends the proposed Climate Change Commission be given power to consider the form of greenhouse gas emission targets to ensure targets stay fit for purpose and to consider the impact of forestry offsets.

Another change will allow the commission to recommend changes to the 2050 targets if a significant change is likely to occur. . .

Fonterra’s milk price forecast will cheer farmers but govt has given ample cause for grumbling to persist – Point of Order:

At  last,  a  break in the  clouds for  NZ’s  dairy farmers :  Fonterra  suppliers  could be looking at a  sharp  lift in income,  as the co-op revises   its  forecast  range for the  milk price   to $6.55-$7.55 kg/MS.And  the signals  are   strong enough to underpin projections the  milk price  will rise to its  highest level  since  2014  when the price  hit $8.40.

This  may  diminish, if not completely  halt, the   grumbling in the cowsheds  at  Fonterra’s  dismal  performance  over the last  couple of  seasons, racking  up  losses and  cutting  its dividend.

Whether  it  will  eliminate  the  animosity towards the government,  which  is  proposing to penalise dairy farmers  over  methane emissions and through its freshwater  policy, is  less certain. . .

Digging deeper into soil’s black box – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Could soil organic matter be used for carbon credits?

Organic matter is the black box of the soil: it determines many factors in biological activities but predicting the outcomes of those biological activities is not easy.

With sand, silt and clay, organic matter affects soil structure, porosity, drainage and nutrient availability. It supports soil organisms by providing energy and nutrients for growth and reproduction.  . .

Vaccinations protect people, animals – Mark Ross:

As we struggle to fathom how we ended up in the throes of a measles outbreak again, we’re reminded of the importance of vaccinations to protect us from life-threatening diseases.

This is no less true for animals which can share diseases with people. Vaccination vastly improves the health of people and animals and is vital for continuing to meet the health challenges of growing populations. . .

Is technology a threat to dairy? – Danielle Appleton :

The New Zealand dairy industry is facing major disruption from synthetic dairy, similar to the synthetic fibres that triggered the decline of the wool industry in the 1980s.

Technology companies are now making real dairy products, without cows. 

Their aim is to make real dairy products far cheaper than traditional farming can within the next 10 to 15 years. . .

Dairy price prospects firm :

Prospects for a $7-plus farmgate milk price in 2020 have firmed with the lower New Zealand dollar value and a spring production peak that might not reach any great height.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny believes the NZ dollar falling below US63c is worth up to 50c/kg to the milk price after the delay of the Fonterra currency hedging policy works through.

Fonterra was already forecasting $6.25-$7.25/kg ahead of any currency boost and ASB has pegged $7 before the possible currency upside, Penny said. . .

$2800 a jar: Hawke’s Bay company’s Manuka honey vintage now the most expensive in world :

One single windswept tree block has produced the most extraordinary and expensive Mānuka honey that the world has ever seen.

Ahuriri-based The True Honey Co is now selling its supplies of its 2017 Rare Harvest to luxury retailers such as Selfridges and Harrods in London.

The retailers are buying up to 10 of the 230 gram jars at a time to secure a supply with each jar selling for £1388 (NZD$2815) in the United Kingdom. . .

Why farmers  should avoid magic and opt for science -Phil Holmes and Ian McLean:

Unfortunately, and to its detriment, broadacre agriculture is not always an evidence-based industry at producer level.

Yes, there are areas where evidence drives what is done, but it is far from universal. Too much attention is placed on fads and searches for silver bullets.

By way of contrast, consider engineering. If it was not based on hard evidence, planes would fall out of the sky, buildings would collapse and bridges would cave in. It is the ultimate discipline in everyday life. . .

 


Carbon farming could beat sheep

June 25, 2011

A Waikato study has found that carbon credits from trees grown on poorer hills could provide better returns than sheep.

There can be both economic and environmental gains from planting trees on erosion prone land.

At least some of this steep hill country would never have been developed had it not been for subsidies to boost stock numbers although this was neither economically nor environmentally sustainable.

The circle has turned and trees might now produce a better income with a better environmental outcome.


Counting ETS costs

September 12, 2008

Now that legislation which will impose an Emissions Trading Scheme on us has been passed the papers are starting to count the cost.

The ODT says the scheme will hit consumers and exporters:

It seems consumers will bear the cost of the emissions trading scheme while farmers and horticulturists fear their businesses and New Zealand’s key export industries could pay the ultimate cost and be forced out of business.

But Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton has moved to ease the sector’s concerns, saying through a spokeswoman, that if there was no greenhouse gas emission mitigating technology, the sector would get additional time to adjust.

Would you buy a used reassurance from this man?

A BP spokeswoman said yesterday’s international price of carbon credits was $44 a tonne, which would increase the price of petrol 12c a litre.

A Meridian Energy spokes-woman said the company believed the ETS was the best way to change consumer behaviour, and she said the company accepted Government predictions of its impact on energy prices.

Those were: retail electricity price to rise 1c to 2c per kWh, gas 0.9c to 1.7c per gJ and a 20kg bag coal of 90c to $1.50.

Fonterra said the higher production costs would filter through to higher consumer prices.

Meat and Wool New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen warned the $5 billion sheep and beef industry could disappear.

Other than reducing productivity or the number of animals carried, little mitigation technology was available.

Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton feared his members could also go out of business.

The $2.6 billion export earner would lose its competitiveness and consumers become reliant on food imports from Chile, South Africa and China which had higher greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

“As our growers slowly go out of business under the weight of ETS costs, New Zealand consumers are going to end up eating imported product grown in countries with much higher carbon output than ours is now.”

Lincoln University farm management lecturer Guy Trafford, has calculated the cost of ETS in 2013 for a 4000-stock unit sheep and beef farm at $36,088 a year and for a 350-cow dairy farm $40,804.

“The problem for agriculture is that it’s essentially a tax and there is still a huge anomaly, as we seem to be bringing it in for agriculture when most of the world is ignoring agriculture.”

What will be the impact on consumers?

It depends on the international price of carbon dioxide at the time the sector is included, but the general consensus is the cost of everyday items will rise.

BP says if the ETS applied to it yesterday, petrol would rise 12c a litre at the pump.

The Government says retail electricity will increase 1c-2c/kwh, gas 0.9c-1.7c/GJ, coal 90c to $1.50 a 20kg bag.

HortNew Zealand say it will cost the sector an extra $40 million a year and Lincoln University says in 2013 it will cost a sheep and beef farmer $36,000 and a dairy farmer $41,000 a year.

The Southland Times  says the ETS could cost 1000 jobs.

Southland’s economy would be hardest hit by controversial emissions trading legislation, an economic study has found.

 

Economic consultancy the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research found Southland would be hit hardest because of the importance of the dairy industry and the aluminium smelter to the local economy.

In contrast, Auckland and Wellington would be least affected because of the high concentration of service industries and public sector employment.

The Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference Bill passed into law by 63 votes to 57 on Wednesday.

The study, done before select committee hearings on the legislation, found agriculture, in particular, would suffer because costs of the scheme would fall heavily on export industries.

Metals manufacturing would also be hit hard, with capital falls of 6.5 percent and a 3.4 percent reduction in employment, it says.

The impact of the scheme on agriculture and related services and processing in Southland could result in employment reductions of about 1000 jobs, the report says.

And what will the impact on global emissions of carbon be? That too is up in the air but given New Zealand produces just .2% of the world’s emissions and most of that is from animals and the technology to reduce them is not yet available the answer is little if anything.

And, if carbon efficient businesses move from New Zealand to countries without an ETS and with lwoer environmental standards emissions may increase.


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