Save Huiarua and Matanui stations from forestry

14/04/2022

Toby Williams has launched a petition to save Huiarua and Matanui Stations from being sold to off-shore forestry companies:

Huiarua and Matanui stations, north-east of Gisborne, represent over 6000 hectares of New Zealand’s finest agricultural land.

Much of it is easy rolling and cultivatable.

Land quality such as this is rare in our country

If these farms were located anywhere else in New Zealand, or closer to Gisborne city, they would likely be converted to dairy farms – with a milk processing factory to boot!

These farms are the East Coast’s equivalent of iconic high-country South Island properties

If there was an application to plant pine forests on a South Island high country farm, do you think we would be having this conversation and need this petition? Environmentalists would be in uproar.

If these farms go, so does the East Coast farming community & Mata School

In its heyday Huiarua Station had more than 50 permanent staff and a school of its own. They now host Mata School, which services the families and whānau on the surrounding farms. This saves these children travelling into Tokomaru Bay daily, on the treacherous Mata Road.

The shearing gang they use is already looking for alternate sheds due to many farms being planted in trees.

All of this increases the isolation of the farms that still want to farm up there.

It makes it harder to keep roads open and safe for people. It makes it harder for those farms to attract staff and services.

Who would want to move to the middle of nowhere and live with almost no neighbours?

These are some of the reasons we need to keep the farms as farms, not plant them in forestry.

This needs to stop before it consumes every farm up the East Coast

If Huiarua and Matanui stations go, it increases the pressure on the people who remain farming around there to plant theirs as well. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped before it consumes every farm up on the East Coast.

It is their isolation that is the achilles heel and the reason why there is attraction for forestry.

We don’t believe the off-shore purchaser will harvest the trees

We are told it is the intention of the purchaser to harvest the trees via land-based logging for the most part.

I do not believe this for one second. The Mata Road, which is where the logs will have to come out, is already one of the worst roads in New Zealand.

The farms are approximately 2.5 hours drive from Gisborne, although given the state of the road, that’s probably closer to 3.5 hours.

Together with the distance to port and the cost of transport will make it prohibitively expensive to harvest.

You can listen to Kathryn Ryan interview Toby here.

 

 


Rural round-up

05/03/2022

Climate change and food security: we should act on both because it’s the right thing to do – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers are currently working with a wide range of stakeholders on how to best develop an appropriate pricing mechanism that achieves a wide range of outcomes. This partnership is called He Waka Eke Noa, or The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and the outcomes sought include reducing emissions, maintaining food production, and protecting the wellbeing of rural communities. A core challenge we have faced is that these principles conflict with each other at times. As the Federation undertakes consultation with its members, we have heard from a number of farmers who are frustrated that the Paris Agreement is not being promoted by He Waka Eke Noa as clear reason for why New Zealand should not cut food production to meet climate targets. The two points most often cited by farmers in consultation so far are:

In the Preamble:

“Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change…”

In Article 2:

“(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production…”

To put it simply, we agree. At Feds, we agree with farmers who point to these sections of the Paris Agreement as text that should be carefully considered when attempting to develop an appropriate pricing mechanism for the New Zealand agriculture sector. . .

ACT beats the Greens to support exclusion of radiata pine from ETS subsidies – but it wants the govt to go further – Point of Order:

The first expressions of support for a shift in government thinking about carbon farming, radiata pine and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) came not from the Greens but from ACT.

From 2023, under current rules, a new permanent forest category of the ETS would allow both exotic and indigenous forests to be registered in the scheme and earn New Zealand Units (NZU).

The government is now proposing to exclude exotic species – such as pinus radiata – from the permanent forest category.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw today released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas for better forest management. . . 

New rules proposed for carbon farming of exotic forests in future :

A new proposal to better manage carbon farming could see future permanent plantings of exotic forests like radiata pine excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas to better manage afforestation.

“Climate change is a challenge we cannot postpone. The government wants to encourage afforestation to help meet our climate change targets, offset carbon emissions, and also help farmers, landowners and investors diversify their income streams,” said Stuart Nash.

“We want to balance the risks created by new permanent exotic forests which are not intended for harvest. We have a window to build safeguards into the system, prior to a new ETS framework coming into force on 1 January 2023. . . 

ETS must back native forests not pine monoculture :

Forest & Bird strongly backs the Government’s suggestion that pine forests should not be counted as permanent carbon sinks in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The organisation says the ETS should instead support investment in native forest and wetland restoration, which will provide much better long-term carbon storage than pines and other exotic trees.

“A native tree planted today could still be sucking up carbon in 800 years, but a pine planted today will likely be dead in 100 years and releasing carbon,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

“The Climate Change Commission told the Government that native forests and wetlands are a much better long-term carbon solution, and Forest & Bird completely agrees. Native forests stabilise land, create resilience in a rapidly changing climate, provide habitat for native species, and overall lock in more carbon for the long term.” . . 

New Zealand is world leading in agri-chemical management:

As a leader of sustainable food production, the agrichemical industry will continue to collaborate with the government to safely manage agrichemicals in the environment, following a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, released today.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says, “we’re confident that the measures for managing and using agrichemicals and veterinary medicines are robust and support our environmental outcomes.”

Our industry aims to play a central role in collaborating with government and farming communities to support positive outcomes for our primary sector and environment – and is open to sharing knowledge and innovation to continually improve them.

“The safe and effective use of these tools can protect our environment from invasive weeds, disease and imported pests while providing food security and economic growth,” says Ross. . . 

Growth in Australian ewe numbers associated with non-Merino sheep – Kristen Frost:

The fast paced rebound in Australian sheep numbers, fuelled by the current favourable seasonal conditions, would normally be viewed as a key lever for expected higher Merino wool production.

But according to industry experts, medium Merino wool prices will need to rally in coming months if they are to compete in the fight for mixed farming as well as battle anecdotal reports of a renewed switch to prime lamb production.

Executive Director of NCWSBA Paul Deane said an increasing flock wont necessarily point to an increase in wool supply, with data from MLA’s latest sheep survey revealing most of the growth in Australian ewe numbers are associated with non-Merino sheep.

“The data shows some evidence that the relative proportions of different sheep breeds has changed within the flock in recent years,” Mr Deane said. . . 


Rural round-up

01/03/2022

Guilt trees destroying farming – Peter Andrew:

The potential loss of local stations such as Huiarua, Matanui and sadly many other properties to the carbon pine forest bandwagon are an absolute disgrace and embarrassment to us as human beings/farmers. The pioneers who developed and farmed this land would be spinning in their graves if they knew we were letting this happen.

This farmland is top-performing country and one of the best places to grow grass in this country. There is no better indicator of the quality of the land and its productive capability than when in 2001 Huiarua was announced winner of the Gisborne Wairoa “Farmer of the Year” competition.

This long-term loss of the productive use of the land is in complete conflict with our core role of being kaitiaki (caretakers) for our district for our children. Aren’t we meant to leave this place more productive than we found it, not destroy the opportunity for future generations to use the land?

If we don’t care about the future of this place anymore, how we leave it for our children, we may as well let the weeds go and throw rubbish out the car window! . . 

Farmers urged to plan for processing disruptions :

The Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum is urging farmers to plan ahead for disruption at processors due to COVID-19.

Forum chair Dr Lindsay Burton said it was critical that farmers book space at meat processors well in advance and be prepared to potentially hold stock on farm for longer.

“We have seen overseas the disruption that Omicron can cause to supply chains – particularly meat processing. It is important that farmers talk to their stock agents, processors and transporters if they aren’t already, and have a plan for what they would do if they need to hold onto stock for longer.

“Make sure you consider this in your feed planning and talk to your levy body or a farm adviser if you need support.” . . .

Omicron phase three: Concern for vulnerable rural communities :

There are fears the phase three Omicron response will see already-stretched rural health services in crisis as they try to care for increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients at home.

Questions are being asked about what happens when sole-charge GPs are forced to shut their doors if required to isolate themselves.

It was not uncommon for rural communities to be serviced by a single doctor and nurse.

A fortnight ago, there was no Covid-19 detected in the Southern District Health Board. . .

Honours in the dairy – Karen Trebilcock:

Working on a dairy farm is not what Paige Harris thought she would be doing after university but now it’s exactly where she wants to be.

Milking 550 cows on 310 hectares near Balfour in northern Southland, the 24-year-old says she is still only “scratching the surface” of dairying.

“All my friends and family were saying ‘what are you doing milking cows with a first-class honours degree’ but if I really want to connect with farmers, I need to understand the role and the only way to do that is by milking.

“You need a lot of tools in the toolbox to really achieve at dairying.” . . 

Vertical farming rising to tackle global food crisis :

The world is consuming more food than it is producing. With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, a global food crisis is fast approaching.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report estimated that on average, 768 million people faced world hunger globally in 2020. The high cost of fresh, healthy produce, combined with high income inequality, means that many cannot afford a healthy diet.

This is especially prevalent in Aotearoa, with almost 40 percent of New Zealand households saying they face food insecurity in the last New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey, conducted back in 2008/2009.

A company that is answering the call to this crisis is Intelligent Growth Solutions Limited (IGS). IGS is an Edinburgh-based company that is developing vertical farming systems that may become a common sight in New Zealand in the future. . . 

Plant-based ‘meat’ could be off the table – Maeve Bannister:

Plant-based food manufacturers may have to change the way they label products if recommendations from a new report are taken on by the federal government. 

A Senate inquiry into definitions of meat and other animal products – initiated by the National Party – recommends the government implement mandatory food labelling requirements.

It also recommends a far-reaching review of Australia’s food standards regulator. 

Nationals Senator Susan McDonald says more regulation is needed as consumers are confused by plant products featuring names like ‘chicken’, ‘beef’ or ‘prawns’.  . . 


Rural round-up

24/02/2022

Emissions pricing could put billion dollar hit on earnings but no hit on emissions – Andrew Hoggard:

In discussions on He Waka Eke Noa proposals with farmers I’m often asked “how does this all square with the Paris Agreement, and the multiple mentions the text of the Agreement makes on needing to make emissions reductions but not at the cost of food production?”.

It’s a valid question. The Paris Agreement is crystal clear on this point, with the preamble “Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger…” and article 2 committing signatories to climate adaptation and emissions mitigation “… In a manner that does not threaten food production”.

As we know, New Zealand agriculture has world-leading greenhouse gas footprints. If we reduce our production to meet emissions targets, supply in the world market will initially decrease but demand will not. The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has estimated the world’s farmers will need to increase food production by 70% by 2050 if we are to adequately feed growing populations. Global consumers are not going to stop wanting what New Zealand farmers are producing.

The price will therefore likely rise in response to a decrease in New Zealand output, encouraging other countries to supply more as it will now be profitable for them to do so. If they have a higher emissions footprint per kilo of product, then world emissions will go up not down. This is a poor outcome for all, global consumers, the New Zealand economy and the atmosphere. . .

Carbon farming is back in the melting pot – Keith Woodford:

There is considerable evidence that the Government plans to change the carbon-farming rules and to do so in the coming months. The big risk is that unintended consequences will dominate over intended consequences.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash has made it clear that he does not like the idea of permanent exotic forests.  In an opinion piece published in the Herald on 1 February of this year, he stated there are 1.2 million hectares of marginal pastoral lands that should be planted only in native species. He says that there is another 1.2 million hectares that is also unsuitable for pastoral farming but that is suitable for production forestry.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor states his opinion somewhat differently. On January 26 he was reported in the Herald as saying that he too disagrees with permanent exotic forests, but that it is up to famers not to sell their farms to people planning to plant forests. Instead, they should sell to those who will farm the land.  Well, my experience is that this is not how markets work. . . 

China’s Covid-zero policy forces some NZ businesses to suspend exports – Maja Burry :

A small number of New Zealand food businesses have had to suspend exports destined for China – after positive Covid-19 cases were detected amongst staff.

Despite the risk of catching the coronavirus from food being considered highly unlikely, as part of China’s Covid-19 zero policy food producers who experience positive cases at their sites are expected to halt shipments to the country.

In a 2021 briefing providing guidance to exporters, the Ministry for Primary Industries said China was applying these measures to all imported cold chain food products, including fruit, vegetables and meat.

MPI market access director Steve Ainsworth said so far during the Omicron outbreak a small number of workers in the supply chain had tested positive for the virus, with infection acquired in the community and outside worksites. . .

Hunters targeting feral goats in order to deal with deer problem in Northland forest :

In order to control the wild deer issue plaguing Northland’s Russell Forest, professional hunters are culling feral goats who have been getting in the way.

A small herd of about 40 sika deer in the forest has been designated as top priority for eradication by Northland Regional Council because they can spread tuberculosis and kauri dieback.

But chairperson of the council’s Biosecurity and Biodiversity Working Party Jack Craw said wild goats were getting in the way of the eradication programme.

“A sika DNA survey was undertaken in May last year across sika habitat to enable costs for an eradication to be assessed and techniques to be reviewed in anticipation of a looming eradication project this year. . . 

Jobs and kiwifruit ripe for the picking as industry calls out for workers – Vanessa Phillips:

The top of the south’s upcoming kiwifruit harvest looks set to be a bumper one, with expectations it will exceed the $71 million generated last year.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Colin Bond said this year’s harvest in the Nelson region looked positive, with good volumes and good quality fruit.

Nationally, the kiwifruit harvest kicked off last week with a new red variety, RubyRed, being picked in the Bay of Plenty. However, to Bond’s knowledge, RubyRed was not being grown in the Nelson region, where gold and green kiwifruit would start being harvested from March, he said.

There are about 125 kiwifruit growers in the Nelson region. . . 

Meat-eating extends human life expectancy worldwide -Michele Ann Nardelli :

Has eating meat become unfairly demonized as bad for your health? That’s the question a global, multidisciplinary team of researchers has been studying and the results are in—eating meat still offers important benefits for overall human health and life expectancy.

Study author, University of Adelaide researcher in biomedicine Dr. Wenpeng You, says humans have evolved and thrived over millions of years because of their significant consumption of .

“We wanted to look more closely at research that has thrown a negative spotlight on meat consumption in the human diet,” Dr. You says.

“Looking only at correlations of meat consumption with people’s health or  within a particular group, and or, a particular region or country, can lead to complex and misleading conclusions. . . 


Ministers paid to do hard stuff

13/01/2022

East Coast farmers are justifiably angry that 5,000 hectares of good pastoral land could be turned into a foreign-owned carbon farm:

Newshub understands the sale is all but final – it’s pending approval from the Overseas Investment Office. 

Locals are devastated and say it’s the beginning of the end for not only farming in the region but the region itself.  . . 

“Buying good land and planting it in trees, with the idea of just shutting the gate, is ridiculous,” says local farmer Dan Griffin.

Under the Emissions Trading Scheme, set up to help New Zealand meet its carbon-neutral goal by 2050, carbon has become a currency. The trees earn ‘credits’ for the carbon dioxide they soak up and those credits can be sold to a company needing to offset its emissions.

It’s a lucrative business, but Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz is worried it will drive out communities because it won’t offer jobs. 

“Those families living there are the lifeblood of our smaller communities. Those are the families that fill up our schools, are the bus drivers, and if you take that away those smaller communities die,” Stoltz says.

Huiarua employs at least eight people, meaning that’s eight families left without work. There’s also the shearing gangs, wool buyers, the meatworks in Wairoa, and even the local school. . . 

The government’s policy of allowing foreigners to buy farmland for carbon forest but not for farming is economic, environmental and social sabotage.

And what does Forestry Minister Stuart Nash say?

“Taking out a 5000-hectare station for carbon forestry, that is not a good use of land. If it was true, I’d be very disappointed,” he says.

It’s why the Government promised to give councils more power to stop fertile land from being converted to forestry. But more than a year later, nothing has changed.

“It’s not as simple as I initially imagined, and I’m the first to concede that. We’re doing a lot of work in this space to get this right,” Nash says. . . 

It was simple enough to enact legislation that allows land sales to foreigners for carbon forests, how hard can it be to reverse it?

Even if sorting out this mess of the government’s own making isn’t simple, Ministers are paid to do hard stuff and the need to correct this very expensive mistake, in social, environmental and economic terms, is urgent.

 


Rural round-up

22/12/2021

My thoughts on carbon farming – Pete Fitz-Herbert:

Manawatū farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert is worried about carbon farming and he’s got something to say about it.

As you sit by your prematurely harvested and quickly wilting tree this Christmas, ponder this – have you heard about this carbon farming thing?

I think it’s getting out of hand.

Most people don’t appear to understand it, so they think it doesn’t affect them, but it will very soon. . .

Looking on the bright side for 2022 – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Remembering the good things of life is a great resolution for 2022, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

In October this year, New Zealand was ranked eighth of 167 countries in the Legatum Prosperity Index.

Denmark topped the list, followed by Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg and then New Zealand. The UK is thirteenth and Australia sixteenth. The USA is twentieth.

We sometimes forget how good New Zealand is. . .

Feds ask for flood protection for all :

Canterbury Federated Farmers’ presidents are alarmed to hear urban based regional councillors wildly claiming entire towns should be shifted to avoid flood protection costs.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark warns councillors to remember to focus on flood recovery and river management for all ratepayers, not just a few.

“Proactive management of our flood protection works is essential for the wellbeing of our communities,” David says.

During 2021 most of Canterbury has been challenged by flooding, with Christchurch and Banks Peninsula the most recent areas receiving more heavy rain.   . . 

Feds survey shows slight uptick in farmer bank relationship :

Farmers are feeling slightly more satisfied with relationships with their banks but interest rates are starting to rise and some are reporting a tougher attitude from lenders.

Results from the November Federated Farmers Banking Survey show 67 percent of the more than 900 respondents are satisfied with their bank relationship, up 5.5 points on the May survey and a break in what had been a steady erosion in satisfaction since 2017 (when it was over 80%).

“It’s also pleasing to see that the 13.5 percent of respondents feeling ‘undue pressure’ from banks is down 4.4 points compared to six months ago,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“However, there are hints of more bumpy times ahead, with a quarter of farmers saying their lending conditions had changed since the May survey, and of those with changed conditions most said they were tougher rather than easier.” . . 

Fruit exports dominated by gold kiwifruit :

Gold kiwifruit continues to dominate fruit exports in an otherwise challenging market, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended November 2021, gold kiwifruit made up 47 percent ($1.9 billion) of total fruit export value, while green kiwifruit made up 23 percent ($923 million).

Both increases were quantity driven, with prices falling compared with a year ago. Gold kiwifruit have a traditionally higher unit price than green. Since the kiwifruit season in 2016, which is typically from March to November, gold has overtaken green in terms of value. In the 2020 season, gold kiwifruit also overtook green in terms of volume. . .

Rain dances don’t provide water security – Tom Marland:

Paradise Dam on the mighty Burnett River has now released more water than it can store at its reduced capacity of 170,000 megalitres.

Bundaberg farmers who started the water year on just 22 per cent of their allocations have been provided with a stay of execution, with widespread rainfall across the Bundaberg region and the Burnett River catchment.

Many farmers were facing significant crop losses across the region prior to the much-needed rain.

Despite assurances from the Queensland Labor Government that a decision about the future of Paradise Dam would be made before Christmas, it looks like Santa Clause will have come and gone before we see any leadership on water security in this state. . .


Rural round-up

26/11/2021

Carbon farming – farmer’s poem for the Prime Minister – Graeme Williams:

East Coast farmer and bush poet Graeme Williams is back with another poem for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Today he wants to take the Government to task over carbon farming and shares his poem, written at 2 o’clock this morning – his “least angry period of the day”.

Dear Aunty Jacinda,
From you we have not heard.
I’ve written to you twice before
And this will be my third.

I’m really, really annoyed
And I think it’s only fair,
That the reason for the annoyance
With the country, I should share.

Carbon farming will ruin us all.
Of that, I have no doubt.
I am acutely aware of the issues
And wish to share my views about. . . 

Alliance Group financial performance lifts – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s improved financial performance is a ‘‘favourable result’’ after another challenging year, chairman Murray Taggart says.

The co-operative yesterday announced an operating profit of $41.9million before tax and distributions for the year ending September 30, up from $27.3million last year.

Last year’s result was heavily impacted by a $19.9million provision for back-paying employees for donning and doffing. This year’s result included an allowance of just over $2million for that.

Revenue of $1.8billion was on a par with last year and a profit distribution of $8.5million would be made to farmer shareholders, in addition to $16.7million in loyalty payments already paid over the course of the year. . .

Fish & Game supports calls for forestry refocus :

Fish & Game NZ is supporting calls for an urgent rethink on the rapid proliferation of exotic forests currently being supported by central government, and instead refocus on native plantings for better long-term environmental and social outcomes.

The Native Forest Coalition – comprising the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Road Donald Trust, the Tindall Foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmon and Dr Adam Forbes – recently released a statement urging a shift away from “short-term thinking and siloed government policy” in tackling climate change.

Central to the Native Forest Coalition’s concerns is current policy favouring carbon sequestering in exotic pine plantations over native forests, which is being driven by high carbon prices. This is having a myriad of adverse impacts.

“While Fish & Game is behind initiatives to address the climate crisis, the current short-sighted focus on securing offshore carbon credits ignores significant long-term environmental and social problems,” says Fish & Game spokesman Ray Grubb. . . 

Lake Ohau narrative goes up in smoke – David Williams:

On closer inspection, luck played a bigger part in no one losing their life in last year’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village fire. David Williams reports

It was the country’s most damaging wildfire in living memory.

The early-morning conflagration in October last year destroyed most of the houses in the Mackenzie Basin’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village, burning through more than 5000 hectares, including conservation land.

The costs were eye-watering. Fighting the fire from the air alone cost more than $1.2 million, while insurance losses totalled about $35 million. . . 

The wizard of woolsheds for 41 years – Alice Scott:

If your woolshed has been built by Calder Stewart in the past 41 years, chances are Dave Mathieson probably built it.

Mr Mathieson (61) started out with Calder Stewart at the age of 20 and, apart from a short stint working on commercial builds in the late ’80s, he has enjoyed a career as a foreman specialising in woolshed builds.

Being based in Milton, Mr Mathieson and his crew will travel up to an hour and-a-half for work and in his early years he would often stay away.

“I probably stay away for one job a year, but I’d like to think I am mostly done with that now. After all these years, I am allowed to make that demand,” he laughed. . . 

Unvaccinated shearers continue to work – Annabelle Cleeland:

Unvaccinated shearers are continuing to work, despite Victoria’s sweeping effort to compel most agricultural workers to receive two doses of the coronavirus vaccine before Friday.

Victorian shearing contractors have complained to Shearers Contractors’ Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford about unvaccinated shearers and shed staff continuing work in a “concerning cash economy”.

“I thought the way it would roll would be that unvaccinated shearers would find work in NSW, but the concern I have is they have stayed and they are finding enough work in Victoria,” Mr Letchford said.

“We have tried the positive approach with these people who are resistant to being vaccinated. . . 


Rural round-up

20/11/2021

New twists to carbon farming – Keith Woodford:

Each time I write about carbon farming, I think it will be the last time I do so for quite some time. But then something new comes up and there is a new twist to be explored. Right now, there are two new twists, potentially pulling in different directions.

First, just prior to the COP26 talkfest in Glasgow, James Shaw and Jacinda Ardern issued a joint press release stating that New Zealand will increase the carbon targets to be achieved by 2030. The specifics are more than a little obscure, but the increase is going to be considerable.

The changes are made more complex by changes in the accounting methods. Here, I am talking about carbon accounting, not dollar accounting. 

Sometimes the Government talks about gross emissions that do not include forestry offsets. Sometimes the Government talks about net emissions after allowing for offsets. And sometimes the Government compares different time periods using what is called ‘gross-net’, which gets even more confusing. . .

Isolated rural police face burnout, lack of support – IPCA review:

An Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report has highlighted major issues in the resourcing of small community police stations, with some officers saying they are close to burnout.

The review was done after several people in communities with a one- or two-person police station complained about the way their local officers dealt with them.

The IPCA selected 12 small communities across the country, and interviewed the local officers and residents.

It found officers enjoyed the challenges of working remotely but felt they were constantly on call, and the remoteness made it more difficult for them to access relief or backup. . .

Will New Zealand workers save Central Otago’s summer harvest?  – George Driver:

As the fruit harvest season nears, orchardists are again raising the alarm of an impending worker shortage. So will enough of us head to the country this summer to pick Central Otago’s crop?

Every year I said it would be my last. Every year I came crawling back.

From the age of 14, I spent a decade of summers picking stone fruit under the searing Central Otago sun. I was fortunate to have been born into the iPod generation, but all of the audiobooks on Napster couldn’t stave off the boredom of fruit picking. Working 7am to 4pm seven days a week atop a shuddering Hydralada would put me into fatigue-induced stupor that enveloped every summer of my youth. The only reprieve was the sound of rain on the corrugated iron roof that signalled a long awaited day off.

But for a teenager working at a time when youth rates meant the minimum wage was a little over $7 an hour, the pay was unbeatable. . .

Farm walks lose bookings with Aucklanders unable to travel – Susan Murray:

Private farm walks are taking a financial hit due to cancellations from Aucklanders unable to travel, with some losing 40 percent of their bookings.

Farm walks have blossomed in the past couple of decades as more farmers have looked to diversify farm income and showcase less publicly accessible land.

Shaun Monk runs the the Island Hills Station Walk (formerly called Hurunui High Country Station Walk), a two- to three-day track in North Canterbury.

Monk said he had lost 40 percent of the early season bookings. . . .

Mediaworks join NZDIA national sponsor family :

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) are pleased to announce an exciting new addition to their National sponsor family.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to welcome MediaWorks and is looking forward to working with them to extend the programme’s reach in the traditional rural sector and others via more mainstream channels.

“Just as the dairy industry is evolving, so are the people working in it and we need new ways to connect with our entrants. . .

Celebrate and be in to win with NZ FLowers Week November 22-26:

Spring time is celebration time for the local cut flowers industry and during NZ Flowers Week flower lovers all over the country are invited to join the party.

From Monday November 22 through to Friday 26 the resilience, passion and skill of industry players, from growers to floral retailers will be acknowledged and just as importantly, their customers too.

For the sixth year in a row the event’s organisers Feel Good With Flowers have created a big bunch of great opportunities for people to revel in the beauty of quality, NZ-grown blooms and foliage, and have a chance to win prizes from a pool totalling $30,000.

During the week Feel Good With Flowers will be asking the NZ public to purchase blooms and bouquets from their favourite florists and support them using hashtags #supportlocalflowers and #nzflowersweek2021. . .

Comvita and For the Love of Bees launch a new partnership to help create a world where bees thrive :

Comvita and For The Love of Bees launch a new partnership to help create a world where bees thrive

Comvita, global market leader in Mānuka honey, has today announced a major partnership with social enterprise, For The Love of Bees (FTLOB), which will see the two organisations working together to protect these vital pollinators and the natural ecosystems they live in.

Since its establishment in 1974, Comvita has been guided by its founding principle of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship and protection over nature – building on co-founders Claude Stratford and Alan Bougen’s passion for connecting people to nature, while caring for the environment. . .


Rural round-up

02/10/2021

Carbon farming – what is the end goal? – Mike Firth:

Wairarapa farmer Mike Firth voices his concerns about the effects of carbon farming on sheep and beef land.

It’s a pretty sad day when you sit inside reading an article in a popular farming paper and it’s talking about carbon farming.

Who would have ever thought we could get paid for air?

I have never written about stuff like this before, but this is starting to piss me off. . . 

Leadership is needed as sheep and beef farming face fight – Anna Campbell:

In 1881, the first frozen shipment of red meat left New Zealand for the United Kingdom.

It’s hard to imagine the planning and risks involved in that shipment.

The Government’s New Zealand History website describes how the voyage was organised by William Davidson, who was the British-based manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company. The company sent Thomas Brydone to Britain to study refrigeration technology; he was then responsible for handling the ‘‘experiment’’ in New Zealand.

The passenger sailing ship Dunedin had a complete fit-out with a coal-powered Bell Coleman freezing plant. The first 5000 carcasses originated from the Totara Estate in Oamaru, where they were cooled and sent by rail to Port Chalmers, then frozen aboard Dunedin. When the shipment reached the tropics, the crew on board noticed the air wasn’t circulating properly, so Captain John Whitson crawled aboard to saw extra holes for air circulation, nearly freezing himself in the process. . . 

Forecast positive for farmers – Sally Rae:

Covid-19 uncertainty reinforces the need for stable and predictable domestic regulation, to avoid putting pressure on the red meat sector whose exports are critical to the economy, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief economist Andrew Burtt says.

B+LNZ’s new season outlook, released yesterday, showed the forecast for global sheepmeat and beef demand was positive for the 2021-22 season, supported by solid market fundamentals, strong demand and tight supply.

It forecast average farm profit before tax to lift 9%, reflecting a 4% lift in gross farm revenue and increasing sheep revenue, including a modest lift in wool prices.

However, the forecast for a stronger New Zealand dollar would offset some of the buoyancy and limit increases in farmgate prices. . . 

Feds gives thumbs up for cross-border and jab efforts :

Federated Farmers is giving a shout out to government agencies handling the movement of essential workers across alert level boundaries, and to those DHBs and medical centres reaching out to rural people over COVID vaccinations.

“With Auckland now at Alert level 3 and access to takeaways resumed, there are still essential workers having to cross alert level boundaries south and north of Auckland. Many of them work in or with the primary industries – farmers, vets, stock transporters and food processors to name a few,” Feds national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Quite rightly, essential workers are required to have proper documentation and it might all have been a big hassle.

“However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with the Ministry for Primary Industries, have made the process seamless and sensible. Hats off to them,” Chris said. . . 

New elected director in the western North Island:

Taranaki farmer and former Ravensdown employee, Mike Davey is the co-operative’s newest shareholder-elected director, announced at yesterday’s 2021 annual meeting

Mike Davey has been elected as Director for Area 5, which stretches from New Plymouth to Wellington City and includes southern parts of Ruapehu and Taupō. Mike is a cropping farmer, elected member of the Taranaki Regional Council and has over 40 years’ experience in the fertiliser business.

Ravensdown Chair John Henderson says Mike’s knowledge of the co-operative will be an asset as the co-operative and its shareholders navigate an evolving regulatory environment. . . 

Let’s give thanks to the ‘grassetarians’ – Tom Marland:

It is World Meat-Free Week.

This is a concept thought up by a group of well-meaning, but misinformed, inner-city environmentalists in order to “save the planet”.

A few people skipping a steak this week won’t have a huge impact on our meat protein production industries.

But we must be aware of the growing trend among many Australians and overseas consumers who are going “meat free”. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


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