Rural round-up

July 27, 2019

Huge challenge facing RMA review panel:

Federated Farmers believes the Government has set a substantial challenge in its announcement of a review into the Resource Management Act.

The organisation agrees with Environment Minister David Parker that because of frequent amendments, the RMA is now overly cumbersome, costly and complex.

“The review will be no easy task. It will need to consider wide and diverse opinions and concerns. There are few organisations which have been more intricately and routinely involved in resource management processes across the country since the Act first came into force than Federated Farmers, so we consider our active input on the review panel will be vital,” Federated Farmers resource management spokesperson Chris Allen says. . .

Eliminating ‘M bovis’ tough but correct call – Peter Bodeker:

The Ministry for Primary Industries remains confident it can eradicate M.bovis from New Zealand,  Peter Bodeker says.

July marks two years since Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand, kicking off the largest biosecurity response we’ve ever seen.

Along with the entire country, Otago has been affected – facing immense challenges in dealing with this disease, and the ongoing effort to eradicate it. . .

More Miraka farmers win for excellence :

Miraka’s insistence on sustainable farming practices has shown results in more farms winning honours in the recent Te Ara Miraka farming excellence awards.

“Since establishing the awards four years ago we’ve started to see significant change in on farm practices,” says Grant Jackson, general manager milk supply. “

We’re not just meeting the regulations, that’s mandatory for us. Rather we’re going over and above, to achieve excellence in animal welfare, sustainable land management, looking after employees and premium quality milk.”  . . 

Young Farmer passionate about improving dairy’s environmental footprint :

A pair of fantails flit above Robert Barry’s head as he bends down to inspect a predator trap at the base of a totara tree.

The towering native is in a pristine bush block on a farm owned by the BEL Group near Waipukurau in central Hawke’s Bay.

The eight-hectare block is protected by a Queen Elizabeth II Trust covenant and is dotted with almost a dozen traps. . . 

Tenure agreement reached for Canterbury high country station

A tenure review agreement has been reached for the North Canterbury high country station, Island Hills.

Under the soon-to-be scrapped tenure review process, leased high-country Crown land can be signed over to farmers, provided they set aside areas for conservation.

Land Information New Zealand said 1600 hectares would be transferred to the Crown as conservation estate and 3200 will be freehold subject to conservation covenants, that restricts activities such as grazing and vegetation clearance.

The remaining 200 hectares would be freehold without restrictions. . . 

How do riparian strips fare long term – Bert Quin:

Could our riparian systems become overloaded and therefore useless? Riparian strips are correctly promoted as useful tools for reducing environmental pollution, especially for their ability to filter out faecal bacteria and sediment before these enter streams. But there is much more to it, writes Bert Quin.

Many frequently made claims for the ability of riparian strips to improve water quality are based on very short-term studies only. This is particularly true of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) removal.

Unfortunately, we are now in the days of emphasis on short-term, quick-results trials that lend themselves to publication in many different journals to ensure more cash from equally short-sighted funding organisations and companies with vested interests. . .


Rural round-up

May 3, 2019

In defence of the cooperative model – Andrea Fox:

Nearly two decades on from its creation, Fonterra is still handling about 80 per cent of all New Zealand raw milk. But is it time, as some critics say, to chop up this $20 billion beast and create a separate discretionary investment vehicle to chase the money needed to hit the high value, high earning branded consumer product markets? In the second part of her series, Andrea Fox runs the ruler over the cooperative model.

Fonterra’s architects got a lot of backs up when they side-stepped the Commerce Commission, claiming their plan for a super-cooperative to take on the world was beyond the competition watchdog’s scope.

Instead they went directly to the Beehive. The result was the DIRA, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001. It birthed a cooperative dairy industry mega-merger, deregulated dairy exporting and encouraged new manufacturing and export competition, while setting some onerous rules to rein in Fonterra’s market dominance at home. . . 

Opening the farm gate on Opening Weekend:

Federated Farmers reminds duck hunters heading out on Saturday for the season opening that access to farms is a privilege.

The ‘Opening Day’ of the duck-shooting season is a big deal in rural New Zealand, with 40,000 annual participants across the country. Hunters will pay their money to Fish and Game for a duck shooting licence but access is usually reliant on the goodwill of local farmers. Many hunters find themselves beside a wetland built and maintained on private farmland. Many of these arrangements are several generations old, established on a handshake.

“Farmers and visiting hunters alike look forward to the opening weekend of the duck-shooting season,’’ says Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen. . . 

Continuity assured as ‘fresh hands’ take over – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s new chairman, Richard Young, describes his tenure on the board as ”one hell of a ride”.

Incumbent chairman Rob Hewett announced he was stepping down from the role at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday.

However, Mr Hewett will remain on the co-operative’s board and continue as co-chairman of Silver Fern Farms Ltd, which is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling.

It was part of a succession programme and while he would still be ”here for a while”, it was time for ”fresh hands”, Mr Hewett said. . .

Belief company ‘can do better’ – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is confident of an improved financial performance in 2019.

Before Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Mr Limmer reflected on the 2018 financial year.

Silver Fern Farms Ltd is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling. . . 

Scholarship winner passionate about precision agriculture:

Ravensdown are excited to announce this year’s recipient of the Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship, Tom Wilson.

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship was founded to commemorate the late Hugh Williams, a Ravensdown Director from 1987 to 2000. The scholarship provides $5,000 per year for the duration of a student’s agricultural or horticultural studies at Lincoln, Waikato or Massey University.

Currently in his third year at Massey University, Tom is studying his Bachelor of Agricultural Science. He is actively involved in the agricultural sector and presented his research on the feasibility of an updated Spreadmark test at the annual Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre conference in 2019. . . 

Real world ranch restorationMike Callicrate:

In late March, a fascinating group of forward-thinkers, innovators and change-makers converged at Callicrate Cattle Company for a ten-day intensive regenerative farm planning and design workshop led by Darren Doherty, a world recognized consultant and facilitator.

Owner Mike Callicrate met Doherty a few years ago on a business trip to Australia and immediately began a long-term collaboration with the native Australian, who is considered a leader worldwide at shifting farms and ranches from the current “extractive industrial model of production” to sounder approaches based on regenerating and rebuilding soils, landscapes, ecosystems and rural communities.

“I wanted to put together a systematic plan going forward that accomplishes our goals rather than just talking about it and never doing it,” Mike explained. “It’s a complex undertaking. It’s hard rebuilding a broken food system. It’s hard for a ranch even to stay in business without fair markets or a democratic food infrastructure that serves everyone equally.” . . 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2019

Better data will help us do a better job – Federated Farmers:

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report released today will help all New Zealanders, not just farmers, identify the priorities for action.

But we can only manage what we have information on, Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our message during the last central government election campaign, when various candidates and commentators were putting the boot into farmers for environmental impacts, was that all Kiwis were in this together. This new report underlines exactly that. . .

Irrigation sector committed to continuing to improve environmental practices:

IrrigationNZ says the recent Environment Aotearoa report highlights the need for farmers and growers to continue work underway to: improve practices on-farm and upskill farmers; invest in cutting edge technology; and implement Farm Environmental Plans to change the way water is used for production.

“In partnership with national and regional government, it’s essential we continue to research, trial and adopt new practices and technology,” says Ms Soal.

“It is critical that we recognise that water is a precious resource which is essential for primary production and regional resilience in the face of climate change and that we use it in a way that is environmentally responsible,” says IrigationNZ Elizabeth Soal. . .

Dairy committed to a better environment:

DairyNZ says today’s Environment Aotearoa 2019 report gives honest insight into New Zealand’s environment and where the opportunities lie for the dairy sector, particularly for water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

Strategic leader for DairyNZ’s environmental portfolio, Dr David Burger, said while the report shows the dairy sector has work to do, there is no doubt farmers are working hard to look after the environment – with significant work already undertaken over the last 10 years to improve environmental practices across New Zealand. . .

Living affects the environment – Neal Wallace:

Our way of life is putting the environment under pressure.

A report produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand with evidence and trends of what is happening to the environment highlights nine key issues.

It is based on a comparison with previous reports, analysis of more than 60 indicators and new methods.

It found native plants, animals and ecosystems are under threat, changes to land vegetation are degrading soil and water, farming is polluting our waterways and water use affects freshwater ecosystems.

Urban centres create environmental pollution with urban sprawl occupying the best soils and destroying native biodiversity, it said. . .

Water tax decision allows environmental improvements to be targeted:

IrrigationNZ says the government’s decision not to introduce a water tax in the near future is good news for all New Zealanders.

“The Tax Working Group proposed a nationwide tax on all water use including for hydroelectricity, household, business and agricultural use. That would have resulted in higher power and food prices for households and businesses and higher rates bills for everyone,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal. . .

Wrightson gets OIO approval to sell seeds unit, still mulling size of return – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has cleared the final hurdle to sell its seeds division to DLF Seeds for $434 million after securing Overseas Investment Office approval, but still hasn’t figured out how much to return to shareholders.

Now the OIO has signed off on the transaction, the rural services company anticipates the deal to settle either this month or May. . .

Whio ducks make a comeback after predator programme :

A nationally vulnerable duck species is making a comeback following a programme to curb predators in Fiordland.

About 64 breeding whio have been found during surveying of a security site for the blue ducks.

Department of Conservation Senior Ranger Andrew Smart said extended trapping efforts and predator control enabled the whio to make a strong comeback. . .


Rural round-up

April 14, 2019

Owner of M. Bovis-infected farm who had to shoot newborn calves: ‘you just learn to grit your teeth and do it’ – Gerald Piddock:

Henk Smit could handle the bullet in the mail and the death threats.

It was when the dairy farmer had to shoot his newborn calves that the impact of Mycoplasma bovis finally hit him.

Looking back, he now believes it is something no dairy farmer should ever have to put themselves through.

“I think was a really bad call,” he says at his quiet Maungatautari property. “On the other farm, we had a contract milker and that sent him over the edge, killing the calves, and he tried to commit suicide in spring. . .

Changing the face of farming – Stephen Bell:

Alternative proteins and genomics could change the face of New Zealand agriculture, a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment report suggests.

But they come up against the brick wall of the country’s attitude to genetic engineering and editing.

Advances in genomics offer potential to speed up the development of crops and livestock with desirable and valuable traits that meet productivity, quality and environmental goals. . .

Waikato Mycoplasma bovis free after properties cleared to return to farming – Gerald Piddock:

Waikato is Mycoplasma bovis free – for now.

The country’s largest dairying region has no properties infected with the cattle disease after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted the active property classifications on five Waikato farms in the past month.

But that status may change with six farms under a notice of direction (NOD) status and seven under surveillance.  NOD properties are those which have a high risk of being infected, but have yet to return a positive test. . .

Mega mast another reason to continue GE research:

Turning our backs on promising tools for predator control is a massive disservice to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“The ‘mega mast’ in New Zealand’s forests this autumn presents a huge challenge to our pest control agencies and countless volunteers.

“The frequency of these exceptionally heavy tree seeding events is likely to increase with climate change, yet this coalition Government has called a halt on research on genetic engineering technologies.” . .

Veterinarians gear up to help farmers comply with new animal welfare regulations:

Veterinarians are gearing up to help farmers comply with new legal requirements to use local anesthetic during the removal of any horn tissue from cattle that will come into force from October 1 this year.

NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie says the NZVA has been educating members so they are ready to help farmers comply with changes to the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations. . . 

This snap-on sensory could tell farmers exactly how much to water their crops – Nathan Hurst:

In 2010, scientists at California’s Pacific Institute, a global water think tank, defined a condition Earth could face called “peak water.” Loosely, it’s analogous to peak oil, but it’s not just that we’ll run out of water. Fresh water won’t vanish, but it will become still more unevenly distributed, increasingly expensive, and harder to access. Many parts of the world are facing water stress, and 80 percent of the fresh water that gets used around the world gets used for irrigating crops, according to the Pacific Institute’s president emeritus Peter Gleick.

Over the past 40 years or so, total water use in the United States began to level off. Part of that is due to greatly improved irrigation, and part of that is due to remote sensing technologies—satellites, radar and drones—that assess water stress in fields based on temperature or how much light the canopy reflected in different wavelengths. . . 


Rural round-up

March 13, 2019

Tax recommendations threaten future prosperity:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to reject the majority of the raft of new taxes proposed by the Tax Working Group.

“Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day,” Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says.

“There is possibly an argument for a Capital Gains Tax aimed at rental properties if there was some sound evidence it would dampen investor speculation, and reduce price pressure and first home buyers being out-bid. But even with that, we haven’t given the tougher ‘bright line’ test rules a chance to really kick in. . .

Despite rising prices farmers are feeling oppressed from all sides and confidence is low. FIckle urban voters are driving a flood of rules and imposing costs that make little sense to the business of farming – Guy Trafford:

The results of the January Federated Farmers farmer survey have recently been published and makes fairly sober reading – especially in the context that prices for most commodities are reasonably sound.

Only 5.1% of respondents expected economic conditions to improve and but nearly 46% expect economic conditions to worsen, this is the worse result since July 2009.

Given the recent rises in milk prices and solid returns coming for sheep and beef farmers this level of pessimism is somewhat surprising and perhaps is a reflection of where farmers heads are at rather than a measure of what the ‘true’ economic conditions are. . . 

Looking to Generation Z for the future of  food – Sarah Perriam:

The rural sector is rapidly changing.

Consumer demand and global trends means New Zealand farmers need to embrace innovation to be able to compete and thrive in this new and exciting environment.

The next generation is vital for success. . . 

Greenpeace billboard ruled misleading  :

Federated Farmers is pleased the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a Greenpeace billboard aimed at fertilizer companies and the dairy industry is misleading and takes advocacy a step too far.

“Federated Farmers believes everyone has the right to express strong views but as the ASA Complaints Board ruling underlines, over-simplification of issues and targeting of two farmer-owned companies is misleading and overly provocative,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says. . .

Zespri. Appoints Bruce Cameron as chairman – Luke Chivers:

While the kiwifruit industry is having its day in the sun it is not short of challenges. Luke Chivers spoke to new Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron about the future.

New Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron is taking over at a time of strong continuity and volume in kiwifruit exports.

He replaces Te Puna grower Peter McBride who has stood down to pursue other primary industry interests, including a Fonterra directorship. . .

Butter prices go into meltdown :

Butter prices fell 10 percent in February 2019 to a 19-month low, Stats NZ said today.

The average price for a 500g block of butter fell to $5.20 in February 2019, down from a record high of $5.79 in January 2019.

“In January we saw milk prices fall to a 19-month low. This price fall now looks to be flowing on to other dairy products,” consumer prices manager Gael Price said. . . 


Rural round-up

February 1, 2019

Flavours of childhood – Rebecca Fox:

Growing up in Argentina with Italian family heritage, it is not surprising Pablo Tacchini became a chef. Having just become a Beef + Lamb ambassador chef, he tells Rebecca Fox it has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point.

Weekends were feast times in Pablo Tacchini’s childhood home in Argentina.

He would spend his mornings either in the kitchen making pasta with his grandmother or outside helping his father and grandfather barbecue.

”I grew up with that. Food is very important for me. It was an easy choice to see what I wanted to do.”

While he now lives and works thousands of kilometres from home, it is those flavours and experiences he seeks to replicate. . .

Federated Farmers on clean waterways survey: ‘Throwing rocks at farming all the time is just not helping’ – Eric Frykberg:

Federated Farmers has accused Fish & Game of using leading questions in a survey on clean waterways.

The agency commissioned a survey on public attitudes on protecting rivers and lakes from pollution.

The survey, by the research group Colmar Brunton, said 82 percent of respondents would support mandatory environmental standards for New Zealand’s waterways, enforced by local councils.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the group asked leading questions. . .

$15m cherry project announced

Development of Central Otago’s cherry industry is set to continue with another multimillion-dollar venture announced this week.

Cherry investment firm Hortinvest is seeking expressions of interest from investors for a $15.5million orchard project on an 80ha site at Mt Pisa, near Cromwell.

It was the third cherry investment to be led by Hortinvest within the last two years in Central Otago and was to meet “an unprecedented global demand for premium cherries”, a Hortinvest statement said . . 

Recognising a dairy sector champion: Adrian van Bysterveldt:

The dairy sector is recognising the loss of one of its greatest champions, South Island-based Adrian van Bysterveldt.

Adrian was a passionate advocate and leader for pasture-based farm systems and his work helped shape and influence the direction of dairy farming, particularly in the South Island where he was a dedicated leader.

“Adrian was so passionate about all things dairy and really believed in pasture-based farm systems, he had an incredible enthusiasm for the sector and the people in it,” said Tim Mackle, DairyNZ chief executive. . . 

New way of applying fertiliser has potential to benefit the environment:

A new guide has been released which will assist farmers and the irrigation industry to adopt the use of fertigation – a new way of applying fertiliser which is likely to reduce nitrogen leaching and save labour on farms.

Fertigation allows irrigators to be used to apply liquid fertiliser or liquid soluble fertiliser in small quantities at the same time as water. In New Zealand, most fertiliser currently used is solid and applied through ground spreading or aerial top dressing.

Internationally, fertigation is increasingly being adopted as good environmental practice. . . 

Unmodified quad bikes unsuitable for mustering cattle – Kate Dowler:

UNMODIFIED quad bikes have been ruled unsuitable for mustering cattle, in a landmark recent Queensland court decision.

And farmers are being warned the ruling means they could be held liable over quad bike accidents.

The decision has prompted calls from the National Farmers’ Federation for the safety of the bikes to be improved by manufacturers and for riders to also be held more accountable for their own safety. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 21, 2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has been placed into interim liquidation at the request of its board of trustees as declining student numbers saw its funding drop faster than it could cut costs.

The High Court yesterday appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton as interim liquidators after the board sought to protect the position of its staff, students, creditors and other stakeholders, the accounting firm said.

Taratahi is a private training establishment, employing 250 staff, and educating 2,850 students this year. It owns and manages eight farms across the country. . . 

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.” . . 

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

Federated Farmers welcomes Elizabeth Soal as the new chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

Federated Farmers maintains an excellent working relationship with Irrigation New Zealand,” Feds water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Elizabeth has the credentials and background, including her strategy and policy work for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, to help ensure INZ continues its excellent work.” . .

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

There is no proof that E. Coli found in three Canterbury rivers came from cows, according to Federated Farmers.

Research commissioned by Fish and Game found dangerous pathogens in three Canterbury rivers – the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata.

Fish and Game insisted the cause was leaching from dairy farms.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the problem could be caused by wildlife, or human activity, as well as from animals. . . 

Research suggests we should take a harder look at the benefits of organic foods – Point of Order:

The Green Party’s food policy may need revisiting, in the light of research published in the past week.

The policy was introduced in May 2017 by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her list place in Parliament at the general election.

How we produce, distribute and consume food is of critical importance to growing resilient healthy communities, minimising our ecological footprint and maintaining a
stable economy, she said.  That’s why food policy lies at the heart of Green policy. . . 

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

MPI is cautiously optimistic the disease can be eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before anyone can say with confidence that the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for certain, one way or the other. . . 

Guy Trafford finishes 2018 with a GDT review, news of a new Fish & Game river survey, calling out plant-based-milk, and an update on the MPB eradication – Guy Trafford:

An ever so slight increase in the Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder with a +0.3% lift. It may not put much of a smile on farmers faces but at least it is a not a drop.

Overall the GDT went up by +1.7% with both butter and cheddar making gains with lifts of +4.9% and +2.2% respectively so not such a poor result. With this now being the second – be they small – lift in a row and we have to go back almost 12 months before we had a repeat of two consecutive sales lifting. Dairy Futures had predicted a higher 3% lift in WMP for this period and with volumes sold down 0.7% on the previous sale, which was also down, the remainder of the season still looks precarious. The next sale is on the 2nd of January 2019. . . 

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

One of the final jobs of 2018 is to take a look at the 2019 Meat Blacks team that will lead the sector next year.

There haven’t been too many adjustments to make, though the sector has had a couple of big retirements from the leadership, lock Sir Graeme Harrison (ANZCO) and number eight James Parsons (B+LNZ Ltd) have departed this year. Linesman Martyn Dunne also retired from MPI and has been replaced by Ray Smith, fresh from Corrections (Ed: appropriately!).

As a result, we have a new captain Murray Taggart (Alliance), promoted from vice-captain, and new vice-captain Tony Egan (Greenlea Premier Meats) to lead the team. . . 

T&G Global profit dented by cheaper tomatoes, small grape harvest  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global says its annual profit will more than halve this year after cheaper tomatoes and a weather-affected grape harvest in Peru dented earnings.

Net profit will be $8-10 million this calendar year, down from $22.6 million in 2017, it said in a statement.

Lower tomato prices affected T&G’s covered crops unit while its Peru grapes division dealt with a smaller harvest, it said. . .


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