Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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Rural round-up

May 13, 2018

Farming programme empowers Maori women in Northland – Bayley Moor:

A programme aimed at upskilling and empowering Māori women in the farming industry has seen its first cohort from Northland graduate.

Graduates from across Tai Tokerau with backgrounds as private farmers, trustees on Māori land and working in the dairy and beef industries were presented with their certificate after completing the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Whenua programme. 

Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Whenua is an intensive programme providing participants with skills from industry experts including measuring farm performance and potential, business planning, finding and accessing financial information – all condensed down into three, full-day workshops, to make it more accessible for time-poor women.  . .

DIRA distorts Fonterra decisions – Hugh Stringleman:

The review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act is well overdue considering the degree of added competition recently, which has implications for the open entry rule, Fonterra says.

“The industry has become highly competitive with a relatively large number of new entrants often backed by deep capital and global businesses,” it said.

“Open entry limits our farmer-shareholders’ and the industry’s ability to maximise value.

“It distorts investment decisions and leaves Fonterra’s farmers underwriting risk for competitors, who cherry-pick their suppliers.” . . 

Farmers want rules for agents – Nigel Stirling:

Mulitple lawsuits being brought by farmers against a South Island livestock firm looks like being the catalyst for regulation of the industry.

Five civil claims against Rural Livestock and a Serious Fraud Office investigation into a former employee of the Christchurch firm have prompted Federated Farmers to call for livestock agents to be licensed in a similar manner to their counterparts in the real estate industry. . . 

Scoring carbon emissions – Brian Easton:

A powerful social law suggests we often explain or do things the wrong way. This may be particularly true when we try to address Global Warming.

Gilling’s Law, one of the most powerful laws in the social sciences, states that the way you score the game shapes the way it is played.* A simple example is that once rugby was boring with a typical score of 9 to 6 – three penalties to two. Later the score for a try was raised from three points to five, bonuses were given for scoring a lot of tries (and also to a loser who gets close to the winner). The changed incentives led teams to take risks to score tries with the result of much bigger scores and a livelier game. . . 

Low cattle pressure, yet an environmental problem in New Zealand – Robert Bodde:

Mark and Pennie Saunders are milking 2,000 dairy cows on the New Zealand South Island. Due to the scale, the cost price is lower than average despite the solid financing. The entrepreneurs see availability of labor and environmental measures as the biggest threats.

Their cows and young cattle older than two months walk 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the meadow. Mark and Pennie Saunders have therefore invested little in buildings. At the home location in Ashburton, 90 kilometers south of Christchurch, there are three pilots, one of which is out of use. One is for the housing of sober calves, and one contains some tractors and machines. The 4 tractors from 45 to 120 hp are 20 to 45 years old. They are, according to Mark, not worth more than € 165,000, including the tools.

The 80-stall rotary milking parlor, an outdoor fancier from 2004, has also been depreciated. In the first years, 1,200 cows went through twice a day. After an increase in business in 2007, 1,650 per day, 10 months per year. Since 2015, there are only ‘1,450’. That year they bought 130 hectares of the neighbor and they started a new location with 600 dairy cows on a 54-stall rotary milking parlor. “The decision to start at the second location was prompted by the scarcity of capable people”, says Mark. “It is certainly financially more attractive to milk for longer in the 80 stands. But with 1,650 cows, the employees were milking for nine hours a day. Then you will not keep your people. You can only bind them to you if they have varied work. ” . . .

(This was translated from Dutch, as internet translations do, it doesn’t get every word right).

Texas ranches manage cattle to improve pasture and watershed health – Sandra Postal:

The following is an edited excerpt from Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity by Sandra Postel, published by Island Press.

Few animals get as bad a rap these days as cattle do. They are blamed for soil erosion, water depletion, overgrazed rangelands, greenhouse gas emissions, and, when eaten, human heart disease. Often missing from such indictments of the mooing, tail-wagging, and, yes, methane-emitting bovine, however, is our role. How we choose to manage cattle determines their environmental impact, not the animals themselves.

“Ninety percent of people think cattle are bad,” said Robert Potts, president of the Texas-based Dixon Water Foundation. “But grasslands need well-managed grazing to stay healthy. We need to educate people about that.” . . 


NZ opts for UN Framework not Kyoto 2

November 10, 2012

New Zealand is committing the the UN’s Convention Framework rather than signing up for stage two of the Kyoto Protocol:

The Government has decided that from 1 January 2013 New Zealand will be aligning its climate change efforts with developed and developing countries which collectively are responsible for 85% of global emissions. This includes the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia and many other major economies, Climate Change Minister Tim Groser says.

In the transition period 2013 to 2020, developed countries have the option of signing up to a Second Commitment Period (CP2) under the Kyoto Protocol or taking their pledges under the Convention Framework. The Government has decided that New Zealand will take its next commitment under the Convention Framework.

“I want to emphasise that NZ stands 100% behind its existing Kyoto Protocol Commitment.  We are on track to achieving our target – indeed we are forecasting a projected surplus of 23.1 million tonnes. Furthermore, we will remain full members of the Kyoto Protocol. There is no question of withdrawing. The issue was always different: where would we take our next commitment – under the Kyoto Protocol or under the Convention with the large majority of economies? We have decided that it is New Zealand’s best interests to do the latter.

“It is our intention to apply the broad Kyoto Framework of rules to our next commitment. This will ensure that at least New Zealand has started a process of carrying forward the structure created under the Kyoto Framework into the broader Convention Framework.  This had been a point of principle of some importance to many developing countries. It would also mean that there would be no changes in domestic policy settings which had been modelled on the Kyoto Protocol rules.” . .

. . . The next decision will be to set a formal target for NZ’s future emissions track through to 2020 to sit alongside our conditional offer to reduce emissions between minus 10% and minus 20% below 1990 levels. “Cabinet has agreed in principle to set that target once we know exactly what the final rules will be on some crucial technical issues, including access to international carbon markets.”

The opposition and others of a dark green persuasion are saying the government has done the as a result of which the sky will fall and the sea will rise.
They’d prefer we stuff  our economy to make token gestures which will have little if any impact on the environment.
Our emissions are so small on a global scale we could kill all our animals and people and the resulting decrease in emissions would barely register.
That could be used as an excuse to do nothing but instead we’re aligning our efforts with those of most of our trading partners – except Australia.
P.S. I note one of those doing as we are is Canada, do I remember correctly that it pulled out of its first Kyoto commitment?

Less meat, better health, less carbon?

September 15, 2012

A British study suggests eating less meat could reduce disease and carbon emissions:

. . . Researchers from the University of Cambridge found that cutting back on red meat consumption could decrease the number of cases of chronic disease by 3 to 12 percent, and make the carbon footprint nearly 28 million tons smaller per year by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The BMJ Open study included data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of British Adults in 2000-2001. Researchers looked at the amount of meat the people in the study consumed, as well as how many green gas emissions were emitted that are linked to 45 different kinds of food.

The BMJ Open study included data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of British Adults in 2000-2001. Researchers looked at the amount of meat the people in the study consumed, as well as how many green gas emissions were emitted that are linked to 45 different kinds of food.

After adjusting for proportions, the researchers found that people who regularly ate red or processed meat in the study also just generally consumed more food than people who didn’t regularly eat red or processed meat. So, they calculated that if people who ate the most red and processed meat in the study were to adjust their eating habits so they ate like the people who consumed the least red and processed meat in the study, that would decrease health risks (such as risk of diabetes, colorectal cancer and heart disease) anywhere from 3 to 12 percent. . .

If I’m reading this correctly, it says people don’t have to just eat less meat, they have to eat less fullstop.

It’s not a matter of replacing red meat with other food but in reducing total food intake.

If eating less still provided a balanced diet there would almost certainly be health benefits. If reduced consumption led to reduced production there would probably be a reduction in carbon emissions too – although that would depend on what food was consumed, how it was produced, transported and stored.

But if the meat was replaced with other food it’s possible there would be no benefits to either people’s health or the environment.


Minnows can’t make big difference

August 2, 2011

Quote of the week from Minister  for Climate Change Negotiations Tim Groser:

“We need some international context around this. I mean, with 0.2 percent of emissions, New Zealand just doing something way out there on its own doesn’t make a damn bit of difference,” says Mr Groser.

He says without buy-in from big emitters like the US and China, the talks are just that.

He was responding to criticism of New Zealand’s progress on reducing carbon emissions.

Not only are our emissions tiny on a world scale, most of them come from farm animals and there’s very little we can do about that.

That doesn’t mean farmers and processors aren’t doing what they can. Fonterra intends to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030.

But Mr Ferrier says the ETS is already costing dairy farmers about $3600 per year in increased energy costs.

He says efficiencies can be made without having to pile more costs onto farmers, who have already reduced on-farm emissions by more than 8% since 2003.

All farmers contribute to research on reducing emissions too.

But we’re still and minnow in the sea of emissions and there’s no point criticising us for doing too little when the whales are being left alone .


Smith speaks sense on emissions targets

December 11, 2010

A friend is developing a farm which has small blocks of forestry.

As the Kyoto rules stand at the moment if he fells the pines re-plants in the same place or fells the trees and leaves the stumps he will have no carbon liability. But if he fells the trees, clears the stumps and replants trees in a different place he will.

Many hectares of land around Taupo were planted in trees because stock grazed there got bush sickness. It has since been recognised that this was caused by cobalt deficiency which can be addressed.

In other areas development incentives encouraged farmers to clear marginal land which is prone to erosion.

It would be better for both the economy and the environment if the land near Taupo was cleared for pastoral farming and the marginal land was returned to forestry but that is unlikely to happen under the current Kyoto rules which were designed with native forests in mind.

New Zealand is one of few, possibly the only, country in the world with a large areas of exotic forestry.

There may be sense in requiring the replanting of trees where they’ve been felled if you’re trying to save rain forests but it makes no difference to carbon emissions if replacement trees are planted in a different place.

New Zealand has put a lot of effort into getting this changed and now Climate Change Minister is sensibly saying New Zealand won’t commit to emissions targets unless forestry rules are clear.

He told the United Nations conference in Cancun New Zealand wants a change to allow pre-1990 forests to be harvested and re-planted elsewhere and also to lock up emissions for wood which is felled and used for building  rather than have it count as being consumed and its emissions released on felling.

It’s such a good idea, Whaleoil, who doesn’t praise lightly, has given him politician of the week on the strength of it.


Risks and opportunities in ETS

June 3, 2010

The ETS will hold both risks and opportunities, Rabobank head of Food and Agribusiness Research Advisory, Justin Sherrard, told farmers in Oamaru.

“New Zealand farmers had proven ability to improve productivity year on year to remain competitive in international markets and the ETS will be another driver for this.”

He said the government has introduced the ETS to:

* meet international obligations,

*play its part in addressing a major global challenge;

*transition the economy to low carbon growth

* preserve our clean, green image.

Sherrard said an  ETS is the most cost effective way of achieving emissions reductions and international retailers are already cutting carbon..

Walmart has introduced a sustainability index target to cut 20m tonnes of carbon by 2015 – that’s about half of what New Zealand produces.

“It will send a signal up the supply chain and ask all supplier to reduce emissions and reward those which do,” Sherrard said.

Tesco has a carbon footprint label on products which show the total life cycle carbon emissions so it can give consumers information on which to base their choices.

The Japanese government has introduced a carbon labelling scheme.

Marks and Spencers is converting 50% of its branded products to Plan A products by 2015 and 100% by 2020 by working with suppliers.

The market is moving and suppliers who don’t move it will be at a disadvantage.

The ETS will impose costs but that’s what it aims to do in an attempt to encourage reductions and Sherrard said carbon could be a driver of innovation.

“Globally the food and agriculture sector needs to cut carbon from food production and New Zealand could be a leader in the agriculture sector,” he said.

“There is an opportunity for New Zealand to gain early access to techniques and technology. This will provide market access advantages and branding advantages.”

Farmers had opportunities to reduce exposure to carbon prices by using alternative fuels and when replacing machinery ensuring it was more fuel efficient.

Alternative energy such as solar or biogas could be used. There are also opportunities for efficiency gains in plant and equipment..

Sherrard said that to prepare for the ETS the food and agriculture sector needs to:

* ensure it understands how the ETS works and the associated risks and opportunities.

* engage effectively in the policy process before agriculture comes into the ETS.

* understand the mechanics of carbon pricing.

* ensure there is sufficient investment in innovation.

Individual farms won’t be participants in the ETS but processors will be.

“Markets hate uncertainty. You may not like what’s going to happen but at least we know what’s going to happen and we’re able to assess the risks and opportunities and act on them, ” he said.


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