Rural round-up

August 15, 2015

Central Plains Water irrigation scheme opens in Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official opening of Stage 1 of the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury today, which has the potential to create more than $1 billion in new economic activity.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, when completed, will irrigate 60,000 hectares of dairy, arable, horticulture and stock finishing land between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

“This is an exciting day for the Canterbury region, given that farmers and growers have suffered through a severe drought this year. This shows the clear need for this kind of water storage project. . . 

INZ applauds Central Plains Water for providing farmers reliable water for diversification and efficiency:

“Today marks a big step for irrigation infrastructure in New Zealand. Central Plains Water will help sustain Canterbury,” says Nicky Hyslop, Chair of IrrigationNZ on the official opening of New Zealand’s largest irrigation scheme for some years, by the Prime Minister John Key.

Mrs Hyslop attended the opening with IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Access to reliable water is particularly important at the moment during a dairy downturn as it will allow farmers to diversify and weather the storm,” says Mrs Hyslop. . . 

Fonterra cuts back GDT whole milk powder by a third over the next year – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is reducing by a third the amount of whole milk powder, the key commodity export ingredient, it sells on the GlobalDairyTrade platform over the next 12 months due to persistent low prices.

The Auckland-based cooperative’s forecast cut the offer volumes over the next 12 months for its total New Zealand products by a further 56,045 metric tonnes, following a 62,930 metric tonne decrease in the past three months, it said in a statement.

Fonterra managing director global ingredients Kelvin Wickham said the bulk of that is whole milk powder, and milk collected will be shifted from whole milk powder production into other value-add parts of the business that will achieve a higher margin. . . 

Fonterra ratings on review at S&P in face of high debt levels, low global prices – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s credit ratings were put on CreditWatch with negative implications by Standard & Poor’s, which said there was a risk of weakness in the dairy exporter’s financial metrics given its high debt levels at a low point in the global price cycle.

The Auckland-based company has ‘A’ long-term and ‘A-1’ short-term ratings with S&P, which were put on CreditWatch following its announcement of a lower forecast milk price due to weak demand and surplus supply in the global dairy market.

“This ongoing weakness in the global dairy market has occurred when Fonterra’s debt is at very high levels due to a large acquisition and peak capital expenditure, placing downward pressure on Fonterra’s key financial metrics,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Brenda Wardlaw. . . 

Fonterra – Anchor extends portfolio with additional Kids’ Milk range in China:

Our China Brands business recently hit another milestone with the launch of the ultra-premium Anchor Kids’ Golden Milk.

The new milk has 3.6g/100ml protein, a high calcium content and no added sweeteners or additives other than vitamins. 

Business Development Director of China Brands Manoj Namboodiri said the team designed and launched Anchor Kids’ Golden Milk to meet the growing demand from Chinese parents for ultra-premium quality, nutritious and unsweetened kids’ milk.  . . 

Misery peddlers are milking a crisis – Mike Hosking:

Yes, these are tough times for dairy farmers but we should trust those with the industry’s interests at heart.

My plea this morning is that we give our dairy farmers a break, that we cut them some slack and start to get on board with what they already know. Because, let’s be frank, they know dairy a lot better than all the others who, from the comfort of their urban existence, are lining up to tell us the world is ending.

Just to be clear, this will be a tough season. The return of $3.85 is not flash and it’s a mile away from $8.40.

Yes, most farmers won’t make a profit. Yes, some farmers might not make it out the other side, especially those who have gone in late and borrowed big to do so. But what I admire so much about the farming community is they’re realists. . . 

Is organic farming making climate change worse? Demand for ‘sustainable’ food has increased greenhouse gas emissions – Richard Gray:

It has a reputation for being better for us and the environment, but new research suggests organic food may actually be harming the planet.

Scientists have found that rather than reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released, organic farming may actually be increasing them.

They found the shift to large scale organic farming in order to meet growing demand for organic products in shops has led to an increase in emissions for each acre of land. . .

Fit farmers with Farmstrong – Anna Russell:

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and FMG Insurance, along with support from NZX-Agri, launched the initiative Farmstrong. It is an initiative designed to give farmers the skills and resources to live well, farm well, and get the most out of life.

The three areas they focus on are applicable in any work environment, and particularly can help during times of transformation and change:

Time Out – taking regular breaks is an important part of remaining fresh and positive in day-to-day work. So is getting a good night sleep. . . 

Jordy Nelson’s offseason activity? Farming – Anna Katherine Clemmons:

FOR MANY NFL PROS, the offseason means private islands and poolside cabanas. Not for Jordy Nelson. The 30-year-old, who set the Packers’ single-season receiving record last year with 1,519 yards, swaps his cleats for work boots on his family’s 4,000-acre Kansas farm. For five or six weeks each year, he drives a combine and cuts wheat, sometimes for 12 hours a day, or rounds up some of the 1,000-cow herd. “Working cattle is my favorite farm duty,” he says. “It’s interactive, and you’re on your feet all day.” . . .

 


CPW consent may be appealed

June 4, 2010

Central Plains Water gained 31 consents for its modified irrigation scheme but there is already talk of appealing the decision in the Environment Court.

I don’t know a lot about the specifics of the scheme, which has been contentious, but I am passionate about the need for irrigation to reduce the economic, social and environmental costs of recurring droughts.

Unlike Australia where water shortages mean farmers are facing cuts of up to 65% in irrigation in the Murrumbidgee Valley and 35% cuts in the Murray Valley, there is no lack of water in Canterbury.

The region has plenty of water, the problem is most of it goes out to sea.


Water schemes win

March 14, 2010

Two Canterbury irrigation schemes are among the winners in a competition for projects judged to have the potential to make $1 billion each in sales within 20 years.

Two other projects, a central-city village for international students and a whitebait-farming proposal, were also recognised.

The $150 million Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme (CPW), now a cut-down irrigation project after widespread community opposition, and the Hurunui Water Project, were judged as having big potential.

Together, the two want to irrigate more than 100,000 hectares of farmland in central and north Canterbury.

They involve land acquisition and the construction of canals and a dam.

The competition, which drew 18 entries, was the brainchild of University of Canterbury vice-chancellor Dr Rod Carr.

The winners receive up to 50 days free professional help each, worth about $140,000, to further project development and confirm feasibility.

The competition was a great idea and it’s no surprise that irrigation schemes were among the winners.

The benefits and costs are high for farmers and it takes them many years to get real returns on their investment. But the returns for the people who work for, service and sell to farmers are immediate and so are the boosts to the wider economy.

Irrigation can have both positive and negative impacts on the environment. It will almost certainly lead to an increase in dairying which will concern some people. But dairying in itself isn’t a problem.

The best comment on this I’ve read comes from Daniel Collins at Sciblogs.

In a post entitled It’s Not US or the Cows, worth reading in full, he writes:

In any case, it is the pollution that is the problem, not the cows. More intense dairying would likely lead to worse water quality all else being equal, but there is no need to assume all else will be equal. In conjunction with regional planning to limit the extent of dairying, there is room for on-farm management practices to improve. The question is both how many cows and how to manage them.

Increased concern about the environmental impacts of irrigation and dairying have led to a lot of improvements in management.

One of the conditions for the North Otago Irrigation Company’s consent was that every shareholder must have an environmental farm plan which is independently monitored.

It works well to protect and enhance the health of soil and water and something similar could be adopted in Canterbury to ensure that the economic gains from irrigation don’t come at the expense of the environment.


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