Rural round-up

27/08/2021

Why farmers will be hoping for a better FTA agreement with the Brits than the Aussies secured – Point of Order:

Reports  this  week  indicate that  New Zealand is  getting  closer  to a  free  trade  deal  with  the  UK.  Trade Minister  Damien O’Connor says  NZ’s negotiators  have been working around the clock to reach the shared objective of an FTA agreement in principle by the end of August.

The problem, as  Point of Order understands it,  is that  NZ has  been  offered  the  same arrangements as  Australia  on  agricultural products,  with  a  phase-out  of  tariffs  over  11  years.

As  NZ trade  expert  Stephen Jacobi argues:

“It would be absolutely ridiculous if we were to enter into an FTA with the UK that did not put forward the prospect of free trade, zero tariffs in lamb and beef and dairy within a reasonable timeframe.” . . 

Farmers consider what would happen should they get Covid-19 – Sally Murphy:

Federated Farmers is working with the government around what would need to happen if a farmer gets Covid-19.

Currently all positive cases are transferred to a quarantine facility – but taking a farmer off their property would create a lot of issues especially in a busy calving and lambing season.

Federated Farmers general manager of policy Gavin Forrest said some farmers have raised concerns about catching the virus especially in rural areas where health care is limited.

He said they are working with the Ministry of Health around what would happen if a farmer tests positive. . .  

Feds – pragmatism prevails on winter grazing :

Farmers will breathe a considerable sigh of relief over news the government has accepted most of the Southland Advisory Group’s winter grazing recommendations, and will now consult on proposed revised rules.

“Everyone wants strong protection for our waterways but from the day they came out Feds had said a number of aspects of the Essential Freshwaters winter grazing rules were simply unworkable,” Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

The Southland Advisory Group is testament to how inclusive processes involving local communities and informed stakeholders are able to produce good results.
“It’s good to see the government taking a pragmatic view – a stance we’re also looking for across more of the multitude of issues they are imposing on farmers in the next three years.

“We’ll take this as a win for common sense, and for consistent advocacy for pragmatism by Federated Farmers and others,” Chris said. . . 

Poultry industry having to adapt in face of staff shortages

The poultry industry is feeling the impact of staff shortages during Covid-19 alert level 4, with some processors having to adapt their operations to try and keep supermarkets stocked.

The industry has been grappling with labour challenges since the border closed last year – with the usual supply of migrant workers and backpackers cut off.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said the problem had been compounded further during lockdown, as some workers had to stay home to look after their children and others were isolating while they waited for Covid-19 tests result.

There was plenty of chicken, but without enough staff some products which required more processing were not being made, Brooks said. . . 

Let’s  not kill five more people  on farm this spring :

Last year’s spring saw a spike in fatalities on farm and Federated Farmers is asking its members not to let history repeat this year.

WorkSafe statistics show 20 on farm workplace fatalities in 2020, with a spike of five deaths in August and September during the busy lambing and calving period.

So far this year five people have died in on-farm workplace accidents. One of these deaths was in August.

Federated Farmers vice president and health and safety spokesperson Karen Williams says enough is enough, farmers need to priortise their own, their children’s and their staff’s safety on farm. . . 

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house for sale:

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house, plus three residential rentals placed on the market for sale

A well-managed kiwifruit orchard producing the fruit’s high-value golden varietal – complete with a character home, three residential rental dwellings delivering multiple revenue streams – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 6.2466-hectare property close to Kerikeri in the ‘winterless North’ is known as Puriri Park, and comprises 1.51 canopy hectares of G3 (gold) kiwifruit vines planted in fertile volcanic soil with a good water supply. The orchard has approximately 869 plants.

Production data for the Northland property at 1349B State Highway 10 for the past four seasons show output has grown from 18,596 trays in the 2017/2018 season -to 26,500 trays in the 2020/2021 cropping year. Early bud counts indicate 24-27,000 trays for the next season delivering a great return to a new owner. . . 

 


Rural round-up

06/08/2021

Brainless idiots’: Mountain bikers criticised over cattle deaths – Marjorie Cook

Mountain bikers have been blasted as “brainless idiots” for causing the deaths of three pregnant cows after ignoring multiple signs and spooking them on a remote Lake Hawea station.

The accident happened last week on a notorious stretch of Dingleburn Station road while station farmers Nick Mead and Tim Lambeth were mustering a herd of 60 pregnant cows.

Nine cows plummeted off the remote Dingleburn Bluff.

Six were able to swim to safety, helped by people in boats. . . 

Compensation management concerns – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmer Laurence Rooney will likely be left with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of flood-damage on his Winchmore farm and it’s left a bad taste in his mouth.

He predicts the half-a-million-dollar flood clean-up from the May 31 flood will result in a $1m loss of income and no chance of compensation.

The government’s $4million fund pays up to 50% of non-insured damage but only on productive land.

It is not the weather Mr Rooney is frustrated with, it is paying a river rate to Environment Canterbury for river management that he, and a growing number of others, say is not happening. . . 

Innovative woollen plasters company Wool+Aid attracts big guns of Kiwi investors – Marta Steeman:

Lucas Smith’s brainchild, Wool+Aid, making biodegradable woollen plasters and bandages, has attracted the big guns of the local investment world like Sir Stephen Tindall and marketing guru Geoff Ross.

The startup launched five years ago by the then 21-year-old mountain guide has drawn $1.5 million in its first capital raising, valuing the company at about $7m.

Hailing from Tekapo, Smith wants to play his part in reducing the amount of plastic used and protect the environment, taking on the ubiquitous plastic-derived sticking plasters and bandages.

As a mountain guide he was frustrated there was nothing else on offer other than plastic bandages littering the great outdoors. . . 

Helius gains NZ’s first licence to manufacture cannabis medicines :

New Zealand’s largest licenced medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, has been issued with the industry’s first GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) Licence to Manufacture Medicines by MedSafe. It allows the company to begin manufacturing locally made medicines for New Zealand patients.

“This is our most significant milestone yet at Helius. The GMP Licence means Helius can now move forward to manufacturing high-quality, affordable Kiwi-made medicinal cannabis products. New Zealand doctors will be able to confidently prescribe in the knowledge that Helius meets stringent quality standards,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Based in Auckland’s East Tamaki, Helius began the rigorous and complex journey for the GMP Licence as a start-up in 2018. Through an international recognition scheme, MedSafe’s latest approval also meets European standards, known as EU-GMP, opening future export possibilities for the 100% privately-owned Kiwi company. . . 

Feds heartened by QEII funding boost:

Federated Farmers is relieved to see the government put more money towards the Queen Elizabeth II Trust, to help landowner endeavours to protect and enhance areas of special native biodiversity on privately owned land.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has pledged $8 million to go to the Jobs for Nature programme. This should allow the QEII Trust to increase the number of sites protected by covenants by 264 during the next four years.

Federated Farmers board member and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says Feds has been asking for more help for the Trust for years, and the extra funding is very welcome.

More than 4600 unbreakable covenants have been established since 1977, covering 180,000 hectares of private land. . . 

Fighting fire with fire – Amanda Monthei, Zoeann Murphy , Lo Bénichou , Shikha Subramaniam and Dylan Moriarty :

It’s a clear, sunny spring morning in Seeley Lake, Mont., and 34 firefighters are gathering on a road east of town, drip torches in hand. They are here to set a fire, not stop one.

One of the primary defenses Western land managers have against large uncontrollable wildfires are small controlled fires like the one firefighters are setting this day, May 17.

The greater northwest Montana region has a long familiarity with wildfire, cultural fire and fire suppression. The landscape is peppered with fire lookouts, some staffed, some used for recreation, and all an evocation of a time before aircraft were widely available to spot new fire starts.

The terrain here is like much of Northwest Montana, defined by mountainsides rising steeply from a chain of glacial lakes before giving way to rugged ridgelines, all blanketed with brush and towering swaths of ponderosa pines, Douglas firs and western larches. . . 


Rural round-up

25/06/2021

Canterbury farmworker crushed by 600-kilogram hay bale during recent floods – Nadine Porter:

With a water-logged 600-kilogram hay bale crushing his once strong farming body, Dan began to fight for his life.

He had been sheltering from the heavy rain that flooded much of the Canterbury region late last month, waiting for his boss to finish a phone call before they took the feed wagon out to the cows.

He suddenly saw hay bales falling around him and shouted to his boss to move, but in that split second his choice to run forwards rather than sideways almost cost him his life.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew was in the process of getting Dan on the chopper to fly him to Christchurch Hospital when his partner arrived. . . 

Govt funds sort for Ashburton River shingle removal after floods – Sally Murphy:

Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN) says it needs financial help from central government ==to reinstate the Ashburton River, which flooded this month.

Farmers are frustrated they’ve been left with huge bills to remove shingle off their farms after the river flooded. Some have been offered $3500 from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Minutes of a council meeting in February show concerns were raised over the increasing amount of shingle in the north branch of the river – a compliance report said gravel was a serious concern and was causing flood capacity constraints.

ECAN said 60,000 cu/m of gravel needed to be removed from the river every year to maintain the flood capacity, but that figure was not met between 2009 and 2018 – gravel extraction averaged 38,000 cubic square metres annually. . .

Significant investment underway to help farmers tackle facial eczema :

We’re developing new methods to help farmers tackle facial eczema, a disease which is costing the dairy industry around $30 million in lost production each year.

Facial eczema (FE) is caused by a fungal toxin which is mainly found in summer and autumn pastures in the North Island and Upper South Island. When cattle eat this pasture they ingest the toxin which causes liver damage, lowered production and in some circumstances, skin irritation and peeling.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the co-operative is leveraging its expertise in genetics and diagnostic testing to help farmers combat the effects of the disease.

“We’re focused on helping our farmers optimise value from their livestock by enabling them to produce the most sustainable and efficient animals,” says Spelman. . . 

Feds advocacy on true regulations pays dividends – Simon Edwards:

The new regulations for stockpiling tyres are about to become law, and Federated Farmers is mostly pleased with the way they have landed for farmers.

“We’ve been involved in the consultation with the Ministry for the Environment for almost four years.  But it’s been worth it and shows that it is possible to develop pragmatic regulations to achieve environmental aims and enable common farming practices,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Farmers, like urban residents, do not want used tyre dumps in our neighbourhood.  This regulation makes it clear that outdoor tyre dumps are unacceptable in New Zealand.” . . 

 

Horizon’s workshop a chance for farmers to discuss freshwater issues:

Federated Farmers is calling on farmers in the Horizons region to get out and get involved in community meetings being held this week and next about freshwater and farming.

Feds thinks the venues which have been selected for the workshops give an indication of the areas which need to be aware of increased council concern in the future.

“So it’s worthwhile showing up to the meetings if there is one being held in your patch,” Manawatu Rangitikei Fed Farmers president Murray Holdaway says.

Topics to be covered at the two-hour workshops include Te Mana o te Wai, intensive winter grazing, fish passage, feedlots, stockholding areas, synthetic nitrogen, stock exclusion and wetlands. . .

A breath of fresh air in the debate about carbon – Joanna Blythman;

I have lost count of all the headline stories reporting that livestock farming is an environmental disaster.

You know the script. A team of researchers at some respected university has calculated that the carbon footprint of animal foods is unsustainably heavy.

With our current forelock-tugging attitude to academia, the general public, and even specialist environment and science writers take such statistics at face value because we don’t know how to examine the metrics that underpin them.

Narrow calculations are applied, measurements based on the number of calories supplied, or protein per 100g, water usage and the like. None give a rounded picture. . .


Rural round-up

21/04/2021

Climate change – proposals impossible for farmers – Brian Fellow:

Unfeasible and unfair” — that pretty much sums up the reaction of pastoral farming sector groups to the Climate Change Commission’s draft plan for reducing agricultural emissions out to 2035.

The latest national greenhouse gas inventory, released this week, tells us that enteric methane — belched out by ruminant animals and much the largest source of emissions from farms — made up 37 per cent of national emissions in 2019. That is too large a share to be left in the too-hard basket.

But the inventory also tells us that the increase in annual enteric methane emissions since 1990 has been only 5.5 per cent, when gross emissions from all sources have risen by 26 per cent over that period. Between 2018 and 2019, enteric methane emissions increased at only one-tenth of the pace of emissions generally.

This suggests they are not the most pressing problem; carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use is. . . 

Call a halt to housing eating away at our food production potential – Feds :

While the Ministry for the Environment Our Land 2021 report identifies some challenges in front of us, it also includes plenty of positives, Federated Farmers says.

“The fact that 49% of New Zealand remains native land cover is something to be proud of, especially as we get ready for the release of the National Policy Statement Indigenous Biodiversity,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Our Land 2021, released today, also notes no decline in soil quality from 1994-2018, “and that’s worth acknowledging given the big jump in food production and value from a declining area in farmland. Farmers rely upon good soils, and we’re positive about soil quality improvements to come through good management practices. Federated Farmers would encourage the Ministry for the Environment to use a more current and wider soil data base to determine current soil health across New Zealand, as the data used in this instance seems too small to give an accurate picture. . .

Family does hard yards to transform station – Sally Rae:

The Pavletich family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Station Peak, on the north bank of the Waitaki River. Rural editor Sally Rae speaks to them about their lengthy tenure on the land — and their plans for the future.

Kieran Pavletich always knew that water was the key to the success of Station Peak.

It was his vision to one day see the flats of the property, on the Hakataramea Highway near the Hakataramea township, green, using the valuable resource of the neighbouring Waitaki River.

He and his wife Julie moved to live on the farm in 1982 and, soon after, 120ha was developed into border-dyke irrigation. Unfortunately, that development coincided with the toughest farming climate since the Depression. . . 

James Cameron explains dairy cattle grazing decision for his Wairarapa farm – Nita Blake-Persen:

Film director James Cameron is defending his decision to graze hundreds of dairy cattle on his farm, despite being an outspoken critic of animal agriculture.

Cameron and his wife, environmentalist Suzy Amis Cameron, own about 1500 hectares of land in South Wairarapa, which they are transforming into an organic vegetable farm.

They are big proponents of plant-based diets and have been outspoken about the need to move away from animal products to improve the environment.

That’s prompted some criticism from Wairarapa locals who say they are not walking the talk when it comes to being “animal-free”, given there are hundreds of cows on the Camerons’ farm. . .

Australian farmers attracting Kiwi workers with relocation packages  – Sally Murphy:

An Australian recruiter hopes the trans-Tasman travel bubble will help fill huge shortages of labour on Australian farms.

In November the Australian Government began offering $2000 for New Zealanders to relocate to help with the shortage of horticulture and agriculture workers.

With the quarantine-free travel bubble open, recruiters across the ditch are now stepping up their advertising campaigns – offering free airfares and good wages.

A farm in Western Australia has put the call out for an air-seeder tractor operator – offering free airfares, accommodation, food and $32.50 an hour. . . 

 

Pig farmers urged to ramp up biosecurity measures as illegal importation of pork increases – Jane McNaughton and Warwick Long:

The pork industry is calling on pig owners to boost their biosecurity measures after African swine fever (ASF) and foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus fragments were again detected in pork products seized at Australia’s international mail centres.

Between November 5, 2018 and December 31, 2020, 42.8 tonnes of pork products were intercepted on air travellers, and 9.4 tonnes intercepted in mail items at the Australian border.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said FMD was considered the biggest animal disease threat to Australia’s agriculture.

“An outbreak of FMD in Australia would lead to the closure of major livestock, beef, lamb, dairy and pork export markets with serious economic and social effects in other sectors, including tourism,” he said. . . 


Rural round-up

23/03/2021

Border exemptions for The Lion King show Government is not listening, farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural businesses affected by the severe seasonal labour shortage say the Government is not listening to their concerns, after it was revealed that 126 people involved in The Lion King play had been granted visas under the “other critical worker” category.

Owner of farm work agency, Hanzon Jobs, Richard Houston, said he felt his industry had been “disregarded”.

Kiwifruit grower and packer, Seeka chief executive, Michael Franks, said labour was going to be “very tight” next month, which meant people were working long hours and he was concerned about possible health and safety implications.

“It’s clear that the Government is not listening to us. I predict it’s going to get tighter, particular after Easter when we open our night shifts and we get our processing business up to speed,” Franks said. . . 

Unity needed to tackle rules -Annette Scott:

While it is encouraging that the Government has listened to the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, it is also the trigger reiterating that farmers must keep being heard, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The environmental reset facing the high country farming sector proved the underlying current in the presentations and discussions for more than 100 farmers and industry stakeholders who turned out for a field trip through the Lees Valley, North Canterbury, taking in Richon and McDonald Downs Stations.

The day followed the announcement by Environment Minister David Parker that the Government had accepted some of the group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led intensive winter grazing module to farm plans in the coming year, while also delaying implementation of the winter grazing rules.

In his presentation at the field day, Allen said the announcement was the result of farmers and industry front-footing action for farmer-led practical solutions that will achieve better results than arbitrary rules. . . 

Launching the New Zealand Dairy Story:

Our dairy story is one of Dairy Goodness for the World.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been developed in partnership with the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), with input from DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Dairy Women’s Network; with support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The development of the story established seven defining elements as part of the sector’s story:

Natural
New Zealand is favoured by nature when it comes to making milk, with a climate, soils and abundant water that create a perfect environment for growing grass. Our cows can access pasture year-round. Our geography means New Zealand is free from many pests and diseases, supporting healthy cows and allowing us to farm with a lighter hand. . . 

No more nail polish for woman who gave up life in accounts for organic farming – Lawrence Gullery:

Shannon Wright used to go to work wearing nail polish on her fingers but now she comes home with soil under her fingernails.

It has been almost five years since she swapped out her office job to start a business growing and supplying vegetables for farmers markets, organic food outlets and supermarkets in Hamilton and Cambridge.

“I used to work in accounts, payroll, HR, health and safety for a firm in Te Rapa but things started to change after I had Izabel, my third child.

“I went along to a permaculture course when she was nine months old and that really started the ball rolling. . . 

Farming families celebrate – Richard Davison:

Organisers of an annual celebration of rural history are crossing their fingers Covid-19 will not intervene again this year.

After having to postpone last year’s Century Farms event due to the Covid-19 lockdown, organisers said they were hoping a long list of patient participants would finally be able to celebrate in Lawrence this May.

The event, which celebrates families who have been farming their own land for 100 years or more, held its first and, until now, largest gathering in 2006, but was due to beat that record with 70 attending families spread over two weekends last year.

Century Farms chairwoman Karen Roughan said she was delighted only one family had dropped off that roster since, although it still left the three-day event vulnerable to a change in Covid-19 alert status. . . 

 

Sanatech Seed launches world’s first GE tomato – Maura Maxwell:

Sanatech Seed, the Japanese start-up behind the launch of the world’s first direct consumption genome-edited tomato, says the variety is the first of several it plans to develop with enhanced nutritional benefits.

The company’s Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato was developed using cutting edge CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. It contains high levels of Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.

According to Shimpei Takeshita, president of Sanatech Seed and chief innovation officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the exclusive distributor of the tomato, it contains four to five times more GABA than a regular tomato. . . 


Rural round-up

21/03/2021

B+LNZ defend rules approach – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is defending its dealings with the Government in the face of farmers claiming they are not being hard-nosed enough.

There was an obvious undercurrent from many of the 150 farmers at this week’s B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill that their sector leaders and representatives are not being publicly assertive enough in criticising policy.

Wyndham farmer Bruce Robertson told the meeting the implications for his farm of the intensive winter grazing provisions were huge and he questioned whether bodies like B+LNZ have emphasised the impact of such policy on farm businesses.

Other farmers raised similar concerns, which were echoed by B+LNZ Southern South Island farmer council chair Bill McCall when wrapping up the meeting. . .

Extra time will enable development of practical winter grazing solutions:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Government has taken the time to listen to and understand the practical difficulties that accompanied the Essential Freshwater rules on winter grazing.

“In announcing tonight a temporary delay until 1 May 2022 of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect, Environment Minister David Parker has recognised workability issues need to be sorted, and that extra time is vital to ensure we get this right,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“This is not kicking for touch. The Minister has accepted a commitment from regional councils and the farming sector to use this time to develop, test and deploy an IWG module and practices that will ultimately be a part of a certified freshwater farm plan.”

There is universal recognition that the Essential Freshwater national rules passed in August last year have a number of unworkable parts. The parts that relate to the regulation of intensive winter grazing were one of the first ones to take effect and therefore needed urgent attention. . .

Tropical fruit, coffee crops potential for winterless north :

A Northland family is preparing to harvest the country’s first ever commercial pineapple crop – and they are looking for more New Zealanders to grow the golden fruit and supply the country.

Linda and Owen Schafli moved to Whangārei from Hamilton 10 years ago with plans to grow tropical fruit, specifically bananas and pineapples.

Their vision was initially greeted by laughter from those they told, with not many people convinced it would work.

“Because it’s never been done before here in New Zealand, people thought it could never be done,” Linda said. . . 

2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aim to continue to grow their farming business while protecting the environment through sustainable farming.

Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand in Wigram on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Maria Alvarez, who was named the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Mattes Groenendijk, the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Gamages say the networking, strength and weakness identification and recognition they gain through the Awards process were all motivating factors to enter again. Dinuka was placed third in the 2016 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager category. . .

2021 West Coast/Top of South Island Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

First-time entrants who embrace a sustainable version of farming have been announced as major winners in the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards. 

Mark Roberts and Sian Madden were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Rachael Lind, who was named the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Smithers, the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mark and Sian are contract milkers and 20% share milkers on Stu and Jan Moir’s (Moir Farms Ltd) 215ha and 377ha Reefton farms milking 1300 cows across the two properties. They won $6,500 in prizes and three merit awards.

“We have a genuine passion for the dairy industry and are committed to farming sustainably and showing others how we do this for future generations.” . .

E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri summit set to spark innovation across the food and fibre sector:

Boma New Zealand is proud to present E Tipu 2021 | The Boma NZ Agri Summit, the biggest food and fibre event of the year featuring remarkable local and global guest speakers at the forefront of the industry.

Held on May 11–12 at the Christchurch Town Hall, E Tipu will see a mass gathering of both local and international thought-leaders, game-changers, business operators and like-minded attendees from the primary sector.

Amongst the confirmed guest speakers will be prominent business leader and respected CEO Paul Polman. Formerly CEO of Unilever, Paul is the Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, an organisation that works with CEOs who are building their companies into beacons of sustainable business and leveraging their collective power to drive change on tipping points in their industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

24/10/2020

Fired up over freshwater – Hamish MacLean:

Stop the degradation, show real improvements in five years, restore New Zealand’s waterways in a generation, and infuriate how many farmers? Environment reporter Hamish MacLean checks in on the fight for healthy rivers after 100 tractors rolled through Gore last week in protest over new freshwater regulations. 

Southern farmers are facing reams of new rules and red tape as New Zealand starts to go hard on keeping sediment, E.coli, phosphorous, and nitrogen out of its rivers.

But Federated Farmers calls some of the new rules “unworkable” and prohibitively costly, and says they will need to be amended by Cabinet.

Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says a parade of tractors down Gore’s main street and a gathering of hundreds of farmers in Invercargill last week amid public calls for ignoring the new rules en masse are representative of farmers’ anger about the costs and the extent of the changes being forced upon them.

Measures would squeeze businesses ‘doing it tough’ – Jacob McSweeny:

Business and farming leaders in the South are joining a chorus of similar stakeholders throughout the country hoping the Labour Party forms its own government rather than going into a coalition with the Greens.

Labour won 64 seats according to Saturday’s preliminary results and can govern alone if it chooses.

Farra Engineering chief executive and Southern Otago Regional Engineering Collective chairman Gareth Evans said he was not surprised by the result, just that it was more comprehensive than expected.

“It’s good in a sense that Labour have an absolute majority so that they have to be accountable for everything that they do from here on in.” . . 

Research funded to unlock seaweed’s potential as new ‘superfood‘ –

It is far from a staple on most Kiwi dinner tables, but AgResearch scientists are aiming to unlock the potential of seaweed as a go-to food with proven health benefits. And they have enlisted the services a of a world-class chef to help them do it.

The scientists are joining counterparts in Singapore in a project funded by New Zealand government, in the amount of $3.3 million, alongside parallel funding from the Government of Singapore. The New Zealand funding is from the Catalyst Fund:Strategic – New Zealand-Singapore Future Foods Research Programme.

The research, focused on the Undaria pinnatifida species of seaweed abundant in waters around New Zealand and Singapore, also involves partners the University of Otago, University of Auckland, A*STAR, AgriSea NZ, Ideas 2 Plate and AMiLi. . . 

Waikato berry farm expecting influx of visitors due to strawberry picker shortage:

Strawberries may be harder to come by on supermarket shelves this year due to an expected shortage of pickers, so a Waikato berry farm is gearing up for a big influx of Kiwis wanting to pick their own.

Whatawhata Berry Farm, located five minutes from Hamilton on the Raglan Road will open for the summer this Friday (23 October) and is expecting record crowds during the strawberry picking season, which runs from now until late March or Easter if demand exists.

Owner Darien McFadden says commercial growers are deeply concerned there won’t be enough overseas RSE workers or those on Working Holiday Visas to pick this year’s crop, leaving fruit to go to waste and creating supply and demand issues for both export and domestic markets. . . 

Shearers were among those travelling to Melbourne via Sydney :

New Zealand shearers were on the first flights to Australia and among those who travelled on to Melbourne.

Shearers who boarded the first flights to Melbourne should have been praised for their work ethic not “poo-pooed by the Premier”, an industry representative has said.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford confirmed New Zealand shearers were on the first flights out of New Zealand to Sydney, and they later went on to catch a flight to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.

“Anecdotally I know they were on those flights and there was nothing illegal or incorrect in what they did – they followed process and were sponsored by their employers and had the correct permit to travel from metropolitan Melbourne to rural Victoria,” he said. . . 

HappyMoo developing tools to monitor cow health :

ICBF is participating in a large-scale European research project called HappyMoo. The project aims to develop tools to identify cow welfare issues before they become a problem and affect performance. There are many different aspects to cow welfare and essential among them are freedom from hunger, stress, and disease. These are the areas that the HappyMoo research project is focusing on.

The project will use machine learning to identify patterns in milk spectral data that are associated with undesirable conditions in the cow. Milk spectral data is recorded when milk samples are analysed in a milk recording lab by mid-infrared machines. Essentially a mid-infrared laser is shined into a milk sample and the absorbance levels are recorded. Every analysed milk sample generates 1060 data points and when we consider the thousands of cows in the thousands of milk recording herds it does not take long to add up to Big Data. Therefore, these absorbance levels provide a deep dataset and in the HappyMoo project the spectral data will be correlated with phenotypes. Already, spectral data can be used to measure milk constituents, but it has also been shown to indicate difficult to measure phenotypes such as energy balance. . . 


Rural round-up

17/09/2020

Rethink needed:

Environment minister David Parker has had a long and tempestuous relationship with the farming sector.

His latest fight with farmers has come about due to the new freshwater regulations that recently came into force. Especially aggrieved are southern farmers who have pointed out that many of the new rules concerning winter cropping were “almost unfarmable” in the south.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young even called on farmers in the region to ignore the new requirements on getting resource consents for winter grazing until there was more practicality concerning it. This got Parker’s goat and he came out of hiding to decry Young’s call saying that “no one was above the law”.  . . 

Waikato A&P Show cancelled due to uncertainty around Covid-19 – Maja Burry:

The Waikato A&P Show, due to get underway late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty around Covid-19.

The event was meant kick off in Hamilton on 30 October, marking its 128th year.

Showing Waikato said uncertainty about the Covid-19 alert levels which would apply on the traditional dates meant instead it would be holding a handful of small events open to competitors only.

There would also be an inaugural National Online Show involving other A&P show associations. . . 

Local Government NZ’s manifesto asks the right questions:

Local Government New Zealand is spot on when it says that all political parties’ policies should be assessed on how well they provide for local voices to be heard and taken into account, Federated Farmers says.

“We agree that central government policy and legislation must be able to be tailored for the differing needs, circumstances, capacity and capability of local communities,” Feds national board member Chris Allen says.

Federated Farmers also agrees with the assertion in the LGNZ manifesto released today that successive governments have placed too much weight on the use of top-down, one-size-fits all solutions. . . 

Kiwi dairy innovation leading the way:

Dairy is New Zealand’s top earner following the impact of COVID on tourism and education. Much now rests on the shoulders of busy farmers, some of whom are still struggling to get key staff back through New Zealand’s borders.

Annual breeding is a key pressure-point in the dairy calendar that requires skill and experience. A local Hamilton company is now attracting global attention for an imaginative solution to a perennial farming headache.

Kiwi dairy farmers need to know exactly when to artificially inseminate cows. FlashMate was created to stick to cow hair during the breeding period to interpret cow behaviour. The red light comes on at just the right moment when the cow is on heat and the unit is easily removed after breeding without bothering cows. “Reading body language when you have as many as 1,200 cows isn’t easy” says Matt Yallop, one of the creators of FlashMate. . . 

NZ Plant Producers issues its manifesto for the 2020 election:

Our organisation represents more than 100 plant producers who produce the plants growing food Kiwis eat and export, regenerating New Zealand’s forests, beautifying our urban landscapes, and being planted by millions of Kiwis in their backyards.

New Zealand Plant Producers is a voluntary organisation with more than 100 plant producer members, comprising New Zealand’s most respected nursery leaders and businesses. While our work benefits all New Zealand plant producers, it is funded by our members as proof of their commitment to our industry and the benefits it produces for New Zealand’s economy and well-being.

This election we raise eight issues which much be addressed so our members can continue to thrive and produce the plants New Zealand so badly needs. . . 

Pacific seasonal workers could be a lifeline for horticulture:

John Fiso, Chairman of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF), believes New Zealand can achieve a win-win by providing financial support for Pacific people from neighbouring island nations to head to New Zealand and help our horticultural sector in the upcoming fruit picking season.

“Our brothers and sisters in the Pacific islands are struggling for income due to the collapse of tourism in the region, this is a way to help them – and help our growers who are extremely concerned about labour shortages,” says Mr Fiso.

New Zealand is heading into a busy summer fruit season with a shortage of 60,000 workers. The impact of this on the economy could be $9.5 billion according to New Zealand Apples and Pears.

“Bringing seasonal workers in from the Pacific could be a win-win for the severely short staffed orchardists and fruit growers of New Zealand, and the people struggling in the Pacific,” says Mr Fiso. “The reality is, bringing in the Pacific workers would be hugely beneficial for humanitarian reasons in the Pacific and at the same time prevents millions of dollars of produce in New Zealand going to waste.” . .


Rural round-up

08/08/2020

Expect increased rates costs from new government freshwater laws:

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

“We all want good water quality, that’s why farmers and growers have been spending time and money for decades doing all they can on-farm,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Millions of trees, hundreds of miles of fencing, sediment management, nitrogen controls … all these things are improving rural water quality.”

While there is still a good deal of detail Federated Farmers is working through to get a better understanding of to communicate to its members, “we do have concerns around the wording of the National Policy Statement. . . 

Red meat exports record seven percent increase year on year :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exported $9.4 billion of sheepmeat, beef and co-products for the year ending June 2020, according to the latest analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector saw an increase of $639 million – or seven per cent – compared to the year ending June 2019.

China remained the largest market for the year ending June 2020, accounting for $3.7 billion of New Zealand’s red meat exports. This was an increase of 24 per cent on the previous June year – and was partly driven by China’s demand for red meat protein as a result of the impact of African Swine Fever. . . 

More hands needed for milk processing – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has made a strong start to the dairy season and has more than 150 seasonal vacancies in its processing division spread throughout the country, director of manufacturing, Alan van der Nagel says.

The processing jobs at 30 manufacturing sites are among 770 current vacancies throughout Fonterra, including corporate roles, technicians, field staff and working in the Farm Source stores.

“We do gear up for the peak milk processing demand and we are looking for a wide range of skills and abilities,” van der Nagel said.

“We give the appropriate training and there are opportunities for re-skilling at a time when a lot of people are out of work.” . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s recognition of the importance of  vegetable growing in NZ in freshwater decisions:

Horticulture New Zealand is welcoming recognition of the importance of vegetable growing in the Government’s new national direction on freshwater management.

‘HortNZ has worked with growers in Pukekohe and Horowhenua to demonstrate to central and local government that modern vegetable growing techniques dramatically reduce environmental impact,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘Over the past decade, vegetable growers across New Zealand have been taking practical steps to reduce environmental impact through precision irrigation and fertilizer application, sediment traps and buffer zones, retiring land, and riparian planting. . . 

NZ apple industry on track to become a billion dollar export business :

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the representative industry body for the apple, pear and nashi industry, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Hastings today, with members joining from around the country’s growing regions via Zoom.

With NZAPI’s financial year ending 31 March 2020, the published results were for the 2019 growing season and 2019/20 selling season, meaning that they reflect trading conditions pre- COVID-19.

Gross volume for the 2019/20 crop reached 566,200 metric tonnes (mT), similar to the previous year. The proportion of the crop that is exported rose 5 percent to 395,000 mT. . . 

Resilient Ravensdown responds with strong $69m profit – returning $68 million to farming:

After ensuring essential food-creating nutrients kept flowing during the pandemic, Ravensdown has recorded a profit from continuing operations and before tax, rebate and an earlier issue of bonus shares of $69 million (2019: $52m).

Returning a total of $68 million to its eligible farmer shareholders, the co-operative is confident in its financial strength and cautiously optimistic in the face of uncertainty around Covid-19 and emerging government policy.

“The resilience demonstrated was no accident, but deliberately built over five years of steadfast focus on fundamentals and performance. It meant that we could respond when shareholders needed us most and when New Zealand needed the agsector most,” said CEO Greg Campbell. . . 


Rural round-up

27/04/2020

Farmers claim water law lockout – Neal Wallace:

Federated Farmers says it remains shut out of deliberations on the specifics of the Government’s freshwater legislation after unproved claims it leaked confidential information about the policy last year.

Its water spokesman Chris Allen says the accusation was never proved but resulted in the cessation of what he called a constructive working relationship between the farming body and parties considering the new regulations.

“It really did challenge the integrity of Federated Farmers and we were miffed about that. It did not come from feds,” he says. . . .

Environment moves must be fair – Andrew Morrison:

The past few weeks have served to remind New Zealanders about the importance of the country’s primary sector.

Food has become big news. 

Every day the media brings us stories of supermarket queues, panic buying and supermarket workers going the extra mile to try to keep shelves stocked against a rising tide of worried consumers.

As farmers we are fortunate to be able to continue producing nutrient-rich food for our nation and our export markets.  . .

Rural postie lifts spirits with ‘The Best Dressed Mailbox Competition :

Covid-19 may have everyone in lockdown but that hasn’t stopped one inventive rural postie from keeping people on her route entertained.

Diane Barton wanted to add “a bit of amusement” to her mail run, so she set up a private Facebook group for her RD1 and RD4 route to get the community involved.

First there was a bear hunt, which quickly descended into chaotic fun, with not only bears turning up in letterboxes and windows, but cows and zoo animals as well.

“I had a trusty heading dog that I borrowed from a client’s mailbox and the dog rounded them up and put them back in their paddocks and cages,” joked Barton, who was quick to point out that “no stuffed animals were harmed in the making of this animal hunt“. . .

 

Not your typical sheep paddock: why sunflowers and lentils herald NZ’s regenerative revolution – John McCrone:

Before coronavirus, people were worried about other things. Like the state of New Zealand farming, and climate change. So why were policy makers suddenly getting interested in regenerative agriculture? John McCrone reports.

Wait, are those sunflowers poking their yellow faces above the waist high tangle? Did he just say he loves thistles too? All biodiversity is good?

No wonder Peter Barrett – former campervan entrepreneur and now manager of Central Otago’s 9300 hectare Linnburn Station – has had neighbouring farmers looking askance. . . 

Dairy Women’s Network conference on next month :

As events and conferences throughout New Zealand and around the world cancel and postpone due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Dairy Women’s Network have worked furiously for three weeks to ensure the majority of its annual Allflex DWN2020 Conference will still be held next month.

“While we have had to postpone our face to face conference until 2021, we have adapted to the current situation and are excited to be able to hold four days of online webinars and keynote sessions from the original conference programme,” Dairy Women’s Network Partnerships, Marketing and Communications Manager Zellara Holden said. . .

Beautiful disasters: The wild, wilted world of plant scientists who breed crops ready to thrive on a climate-ravaged earth – Lela Nargi:

A diversity of regionally adapted seeds are in short supply in parts of the U.S. So farmers must increasingly rely on a handful of publicly funded seed breeders to supply them.”

Michael Mazourek led the charge through thick-aired greenhouses, cheerfully tallying the destruction. “We inoculated these with a virus,” he said, stopping beside a table topped with stubby squash plants in square plastic pots. Their leaves were anemic and crisp around the edges.

“This was a beautiful disaster,” Mazourek said as he circumnavigated a miniature forest of wrung out pepper plants dangling shriveled fruits. “Our new fancy heaters didn’t work and we had a frost, which is a very climate change-y sort of event.” . .


Rural round-up

11/04/2020

Smart green growth requires investment :

An effective recovery from COVID-19 requires on the ground investment in projects that will bring immediate employment benefits and lasting environmental benefits.

Federated Farmer has written to Ministers outlining a range of practical, on the ground initiatives that could provide employment and environmental benefits post COVID19, building on existing work

“We need efficient and effective investment which provides both immediate benefits but also lasting environmental outcomes,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our approach to improving the environment needs to recognise the importance of a robust and strong recovery from COVID-19, to mitigate the economic and social impacts.

“The situation has changed significantly since regulatory proposals in respect to freshwater, biodiversity and climate change were released. Our responses to these challenges need to reflect this new reality.  . . 

Foresters say Shane Jones’ all to preference domestic timber supplies can’t work:

Forest Owners Association President Phil Taylor says a harvest of just about any forest will produce higher grade logs for domestic construction, some logs for export and some lower value wood which is only suitable for domestic chipping.

“We just can’t go in and cut down some parts of a tree to cater to one market without harvesting the whole tree for other markets too. That was clearly shown up when forest companies were unable to export earlier in the year and how difficult it physically was to keep our local mills supplied,” Phil Taylor says.

“It’s not true either that we send all our logs overseas. In most years, the majority of the export value of our forest products comes from added value categories, such as sawn timber and pulp and paper.” . . 

An open letter to Shane Jones, Ministry of Forestry – Adrian Loo:

Dear Minister Jones,

Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Adrian. I am an employee in the forestry industry, a Future Forester, a graduate of Canterbury University and, albeit very small, a forest owner.

Since starting out in the forestry industry 4 years ago I have been lucky enough to experience your leadership first-hand and hear your passionate encouragement of the forest industry and forest owners within it. During this time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to speak at the beehive and describe the amazing opportunities for people involved with forestry. For me the forestry industry represents a world of incredible opportunities, amazing people and is an industry that I am extremely proud to be a part of. . .

 

Kiwi fruit growers aggrieved by PSA outbreak decision:

Kiwifruit growers are aggrieved by today’s Court of Appeal decision that finds the Government was responsible for the 2009 PSA outbreak that devastated the industry but is not liable for the losses. The Kiwifruit Claim have confirmed they will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

“The Court of Appeal held that MPI was negligent in allowing a high-risk shipment of pollen anthers infected with PSA from China into New Zealand. But they found the Government does not owe a duty of care to ordinary New Zealanders and can’t be held liable for its actions, simply because it’s the Government,” said John Cameron, Kiwifruit Claim Chairman. . .

Where there’s wool there’s a way:

With shearing gangs mostly stood down under the level 4 lockdown, farmers face some challenges, reports Jill Herron.

Shearers and wool-handlers across the country are “very keen” to get back to work once Covid 19 restrictions ease – and farmers will be pretty pleased to see them.

As Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Industry Group Chairperson Miles Anderson points out, a trained shearer could crutch around 600 or 700 sheep a day, but the untrained far fewer. And he’s not relishing having to do his own crutching at his Timaru property.

“It’s not impossible for some farmers to do their own but with feeding out and lots going on at this time of year it could be difficult and could lead to some very long days. Myself, if I had to do a full belly crutch I’d probably do 200 the first day but only about 50 the next. It’s something you have to get fit to.” . .

 

Coronavirus: Supply chain urged to play its part supporting British livestock farmers :

NFU and NFU Cymru are urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in stores, which are now in high supply due to the complete loss of the food service market.

In an open letter, NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice-chairman Wyn Evans said that the supply chain has a moral responsibility to act in the interests of both consumers and farmers.

They reiterated that British beef and lamb is in plentiful supply but warned that ongoing high demand for products such as mince would soon become unsustainable. . .

 


Rural round-up

28/11/2019

Government is losing the forestry debate with rural New Zealand – Keith Woodford:

The response of Government Ministers to rural concerns about forestry policy is polarising the debate. Describing rural perspectives as ‘fiction’, and upset rural protesters as ‘rednecks’, is counter-productive.

The combination of the Zero Carbon Act and forthcoming Emission Trading Scheme legislation will transform the New Zealand landscape. The Government has done a poor job of educating New Zealanders as to what it will mean. The Government is now on the defensive.

In this article, the focus is on multi-rotation production forestry. The associated story of permanent forests must wait for another article.

The starting point is that New Zealand has a policy goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050. That means, among other things, that either New Zealand has to find new energy sources to replace fossil fuels, or else it has to offset those emission in other ways. The offsetting has to start right now. . . 

Government waterways proposal to move fences could cost millions – farmers – Eric Frykberg:

Farmers who have paid millions of dollars to put fences alongside waterways fear having to pay millions more to move them.

This worry has arisen from the government’s proposed Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, which was released in September.

This plan called for fences to be set back at least five metres from a creek that runs through a farm, to stop nutrients leaking into the water.

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen said many creeks had already been fenced off, and those fences might have to be shifted under the proposed new rules.

“If we have put up fences to exclude stock, the last thing we want, now the goalposts have moved, is to do the whole job all over again,” Mr Allen said. . . 

Debate rages over report findings about meat, health – Brent Melville:

Whether you prefer burgers or beans, it is clear that international lobbying against red meat continues to gain momentum.

The latest volley comes from a recent joint survey by researchers at Oxford University and University of Minnesota.

Their report, “Multiple health and environmental impacts of food”, went further than just the health benefits or otherwise of different foods, linking ingredients associated with improved adult health to lower environmental impacts. And vice-versa.

The researchers picked 15 foods, measuring their impact if they were added to what an average Western adult would eat on a daily basis. . . 

Milk could be carbon-neutral now, says new study – Eloise Gibson:

By boosting how much maize cows eat, modestly reducing stock numbers, shrinking fertiliser use and buying carbon offsets, New Zealand milk could be carbon neutral today, according to a new study modelling changes to a typical Waikato dairy farm.

Researchers at AgResearch have calculated that a typical Waikato dairy farm could go carbon neutral now and still make a profit.

As a bonus, a farm that adopted the changes could also reduce nitrogen leaching by up to 42 percent, improving water quality.

Crucially, the farms profit could also increase, by 15 percent, after factoring in a premium paid by climate-conscious consumers. . . 

More farmers feeling bank pressure, Feds survey finds:

In the last six months farmers’ satisfaction with their banks has continued to erode and the number who feel under pressure from banks has risen from 16% to 23%, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

“While most farmers remain ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their banks, the number giving those ratings have slipped from 71% in May this year to 68% in our November survey,” Feds economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. That’s the lowest since we began the twice-a-year surveys in August 2015.

“This is disappointing but not at all surprising given what we have been hearing over the past several months of banks getting tougher and changing conditions as they seek to contain or even reduce their exposure to agriculture, and also as they respond – prematurely – to the Reserve Bank’s proposals on bank capital,” Andrew says. . . 

 

Dairy, beef, and lamb exports rise in October:

Exports of dairy products, beef, and lamb, particularly to China, increased in value in October 2019, Stats NZ said today.

However, the rises were partly offset by falls in logs and kiwifruit.

In October 2019, the value of total goods exports rose $206 million (4.3 percent) from October 2018 to reach $5.0 billion.

The rise in exports was led by milk powder, up $194 million (32 percent) from October 2018. The rise was quantity-led, but unit values were also up. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2019

Under the sacred mountain

East Cape farmers Rob and Mary Andrews appreciate the opportunities they have been given by people who they have worked for in the past and they enjoy returning the favour to others, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

As the first place in the world to see the sun as it rises every day Mount Hikurangi is on a few bucket lists.

But few people venture to Pakihiroa Farms, about 20km inland from Ruatoria, where Rob and Mary Andrews live and work and which includes the mountain in its boundaries.

The farm is in an isolated spot in a part of the country that does not attract a lot of passing traffic, given it’s not on the way for most New Zealanders.  . . 

Busy gets busier – Cheyenne Nicholson:

An artificial insemination run is just one of many things a West Coast farmer has up her sleeve to generate extra income for the farm. Cheyenne Nicholson reports. 

RUNNING an Airbnb, milking 140 cows and raising two small children keep Hokitika 50:50 sharemilkers Thomas and Hannah Oats busy.

And if that isn’t enough, Hannah, in a bid expand her skills, to benefit their own business and generate some extra income has trained and qualified to become an artificial insemination technician. . . 

Cherry on top for station’s returns :

Twelve hectares of cherry trees planted in September at Mt Pisa Station, Central Otago complete the first stage of a $15.5 million cherry project by the horticultural investment firm Hortinvest.

Mt Pisa Station’s landowners, the MacMillan family, are among the investors who underwrote the planting. The sheep and beef business has set aside 80ha of prime pastoral land for the venture as it diversifies into horticulture.

The orchard will produce cherries for export from the summer of 2021-2022. . . 

Hort export figures challenged – Pam Tipa:

Horticulture’s export revenue growth is likely to be about 10% in the current financial year – not the 3.8% forecast by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Horticulture NZ (HortNZ) chief executive Mike Chapman says he doesn’t know where MPI got its figure in the Situation and Outlook report for Primary Industries.

Growth for horticulture was 13.7% in the year ended June 2019 in the September updated report. But it is forecast to be down to 3.8% in the current year.

HortNZ has asked how MPI arrived at that forecast because the report doesn’t say. . . 

Growth, exports recognised – Luisa Girao:

An Invercargill Blue River Dairy manager believes the company is changing the face of the New Zealand dairy industry and recent recognition adds support to such a view.

Earlier this week, the Southland-based company received awards for fastest-growing manufacturing business and fastest-growing exporter at the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards, held in Auckland, which ranks the country’s fastest-growing businesses.

The company was also announced as the fifth-fastest-growing business overall. . . 

People keep stealing hemp from US farms, thinking it’s weed – Jason Nark:

People see the serrated leaves and the fuzzy buds from afar, but it’s the familiar smell wafting over the field that seals the deal.

They pack a not-so-brilliant idea into their heads and scramble to yank the hardy plants right from the soil. Back home, they light up and sit sober in the smoke, writing off their heist as a bunch of dank weed.

Hemp resembles marijuana, its much more psychoactive cousin, in just about every way except one: It probably won’t get you high. People in the US state of Pennsylvania caught stealing hemp still haven’t figured that out. . . 


Rural round-up

21/10/2019

Awards help farmers put spotlight on environmental progress:

It’s never been more important for farmers to showcase to fellow New Zealanders the work they’re doing to lighten their environmental footprint, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re in the middle of a national debate on the best regulatory settings to help drive improved water quality in our rivers and lakes.  Some of the talk might drive an impression that we’re in some sort of downward environmental spiral, when the truth is many farmers up and down the nation are putting in huge amounts of sustainability and biodiversity enhancement work,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Deadlines for the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Horizons, Wellington and Waikato have already passed, but it’s not too late for farmers in eight other regions around New Zealand. . .

Shearing costs eat wool cheques  – Alan WIlliams:

A fourth straight year of poor strong-wool prices lies ahead for sheep farmers.

After the increase in shearing charges in 2018-19 Beef+Lamb has estimated that combined with continuing abnormally low strong-wool prices that in the North Island, where nearly all the wool clip is crossbred, shearing costs take up 90% of farm wool receipts.

Until the start of the downturn four years ago shearing costs typically accounted for just 45% of wool returns. . . .

Fewer cows produce more milk – Neal Wallace:

An emerging approach to dairying might let farmers obey environment rules while maintaining or growing milk production.

The farm system change project has found farmers can run fewer but higher-performing cows while maintaining or growing milk supply.

It is done by accurately managing costs, feed quality and quantity to maintain cow condition, which results in a more efficient farm and conversion of feed by cows. . .

Seaweed feed could reduce cattle greenhouse gases :

 

The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government, to help it turn a native red seaweed into a greenhouse gas-busting cattle feed supplement.

The money comes from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and was announced by the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister during a visit to the Nelson-based research institute today. . .

Chicken virus can be eradicated MPI says  – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries believes its is possible to eradicate a chicken virus that was recently detected here.

Last month MPI reported routine industry testing at two Otago egg farms owned by Mainland Poultry had identified the likely presence of Infectious Bursal Disease type one.

The virus can affect the immune system of young chickens but doesn’t pose any risk to human health. . .

‘Hyperactive’ 80-yr-old vet Jakob Malmo retires to run two dairy farms – Marion MacDonald:

Jakob Malmo says he’s too old to be lying in the mud delivering a calf so Gippsland’s legendary dairy vet has retired at 80 – to run two large dairy farms with his new wife, Jean.

Admitting others have described him as ‘hyperactive’, Dr Malmo is not one to sit still.

The achievements across his 58-year veterinary career are so many, it’s hard to know where to start but the man himself was most proud of the Melbourne University Rural Veterinary Unit he and Professor Doug Blood established in Maffra. . .


We all want clean water but

06/09/2019

There’s no argument on the goal of clean freshwater but there’s significant angst in rural New Zealand over the way the government plans to get it.

We all want clean water, but not in a way that drastically increases the cost of farming and therefore food, destroys livelihoods and communities, and sabotages the economy.

Federated Farmers says the government’s proposals for cleaner freshwater throw farmers under the tractor:

Federated Farmers estimates large parts of rural New Zealand will have to abandon their reliance on the pastoral sector based on the freshwater proposals released today.

The Essential Freshwater announcements could lead to wholesale land use change to meet unnecessarily stringent targets.

The proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management nutrient levels will require parts of New Zealand to reduce their nitrogen by up to 80%. 

“It becomes very hard to continue economically farming animals or growing vegetables under a regime like this,” Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.   

“The long term targets for nitrogen reduction, are effectively unachievable in some parts of the country, and will end pastoral farming in these areas.”

Federated Farmers continues to be supportive of government effort to improve and maintain water quality, the use of farm environment plans and the continued shift to ‘GMP’ – good management practice policy.

“But with today’s proposals the government seems to be signalling it is prepared to gamble with the viability of food production as the major export earner for New Zealand.”

Feds has one simple message for the government, freshwater quality will continue to improve in rural areas, because farmers and growers are already doing the work.

“Lumping regional councils, with an entirely new regulatory system to implement and manage puts up everyone’s rates, and gives little additional support to actual water quality results,”  Chris says.

“Millions of dollars raised from increased rates which could have been spent on more river and waterway restoration will now be spent on hearings, lawyers and other random water experts,” Chris says.

“Basically your rates will go up, while farmers are doing the work anyway.”

Feds is particularly concerned about the proposed “interim controls” which will have untold ramifications for the New Zealand economy, as there will be an inevitable slump in land values, across all sectors and regions.

“The discussion documents say an ‘interim control’ is not a ban.  But if it stops you from doing something with your own land, without appeal or any achievable recourse, then it’s a ban, pure and simple,” Chris says.

This ban will have a significantly negative knock-on effect for all rural and urban communities where the activity of the primary sector is the lifeblood earner for the cafes, sports clubs, banks, insurance companies, car dealerships, restaurants, shopping malls and all the other people downstream of New Zealand’s largest earner.

“All we ask is for regulation that is based on science and evidence.”

Federated Farmers encourages all farmers to do their best to input into this process despite the short consultation period of six weeks and it being at the busiest time of the year for farmers.

Beef + Lamb NZ says the proposals would make sheep and beef farmers sacrificial lambs:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says plans to lock down current land uses will have a disproportionate effect on the majority of sheep and beef farms that are low input, extensive systems with a light touch on the environment.

“The sheep and beef sector’s vision is for New Zealanders to continue to be able to swim in and collect food from the freshwater surrounding sheep and beef farms,” says B+LNZ’s Chairman Andrew Morrison. 

‘Sheep and beef farmers are committed to protecting the health of our waterways and we’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far, however, we know there is still more work to be done.  

“The Essential Freshwater proposals are comprehensive and will take time to assess, however, we are deeply concerned by some of the analysis we have seen – including modelling that suggests 68 percent of drystock farms in the Waikato/Waipa catchment would be converted into forestry as a direct result of the proposed regulations, while more intensive land uses largely remain the same.

Forestry isn’t necessarily good for water quality with sediment and slash washing into waterways after harvesting.

“These proposals will undermine the viability of a low-intensity sector which supports over 80,000 jobs and generates exports of $9.1 billion a year.  It risks decimating rural communities, especially when coupled with other proposed policies such as the Zero Carbon Bill.

“Ultimately, we are concerned the sheep and beef sector will bear a disproportionate impact of the proposed policies, far outweighing the environmental impact of our farming systems.”

Issues around nitrogen leaching are driven primarily by cattle stocking rates and high loadings of nitrogen fertiliser, leading to greater concentrations of nitrate leaching into waterways. 

“Most sheep and beef farming systems operate within the natural capacity of the land due to our low stocking rates and efficient, low input farming model,” says Mr Morrison.

“Our nitrogen leaching rates are low and in catchments where sheep and beef farms are the predominant farming system, nitrogen levels are not an issue. 

“The sheep and beef sector’s main water health issues are sediment, phosphorus and intensive winter grazing on crops.  We are committed to addressing our contribution to these issues and understand the need for increased oversight for activities which pose a higher environmental risk.

“However, the devil is in the detail and we will be looking to ensure any new requirements are matched to the environmental effects we are looking to manage.

“The Essential Freshwater proposals that will likely have the greatest impact on sheep and beef farmers are a range of “grandparenting” provisions that restrict land use change, and flexibility within a farming system to diversify.

“In doing this, the greatest flexibility is provided for those that currently undertake high intensity, high discharging land uses.

“New Zealand’s most sustainable and low intensity farming systems, those with the lightest environmental footprint, will have no flexibility moving forward to adapt to these and or other environmental pressures.  The success of our farming system has been the ability to adapt and diversify.”

The approach proposed also fails to take into account the other benefits that extensive farming systems provide such as biodiversity and supporting healthy and vibrant rural communities, says Mr Morrison. 

“The government’s objective of “holding the line” is understandable, but the way it would be implemented will lead to a perverse outcome where blanket limits are placed on everyone, even though individual farmers’ contribution to the problem differs wildly.

“While the government says these are interim controls until councils have new plans in place, there are no timeframes and based on our previous experience, councils’ processes will take many years. During that time, the damage will be done.”   

Sheep and beef farmers have been working to address a wide range of environmental issues, he says.  

“We are committed to addressing freshwater quality issues such as erosion, E.coli and phosphorous by working towards all farmers having land and environment plans by 2021.  Our sector has already lifted this from 36 percent in 2017 to 49 percent in 2019, and many farmers are getting involved in catchment communities.

“While there is still more to do, in-stream sediment concentrations have been improving as farmers have been planting native and poplar trees in erosion prone areas and retiring some land from production.   

“It appears from the proposal that many sheep and beef farmers will be punished for doing the right thing.  Over the last 30 years we’ve doubled export revenue from the industry while reducing our land use foot print, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. 

“At the same time our sheep and beef farms are a reservoir for almost three million hectares of native vegetation, making up nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s remaining native vegetation and including 1.4 million hectares of native forest, which co-exists alongside productive agriculture.” 

B+LNZ has extensive resources to support farmers in adopting best management practice for intensive winter grazing on crops and has over the last year led a pan-sector process to develop common policy solutions and build on industry initiatives to manage these activities. 

DairyNZ makes a plea: let’s all improve our waterways without destroying rural communities:

Today’s Essential Freshwater Package shows healthy and swimmable waterways are important to all New Zealanders, including dairy farmers, who share the same aspirations to protect our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the dairy sector and our farmers share the same vision communities, Maori and Government have to protect and improve our freshwater resources.

“The Essential Freshwater Package announced today provides a real opportunity for everyone to have their say in this important conversation. We know we can’t farm without healthy water and land, and we reflect this in our Dairy Tomorrow sector strategy, and we need to acknowledge the work that’s already taken place,” said Dr Mackle.

“Our dairy sector is already on the journey to improve and protect water quality and our farmers have been working towards this for more than a decade.”

Dr Mackle said at the same time it is acknowledged that, in some catchments, community expectations for water quality has not yet been met. Here, further action is required by all land users, including dairy, to halt a decline and longer-term solutions put in place to restore the health of these waterways.

“This policy package focuses not only on dairy but all land use activities, including sheep and beef, horticulture and urban activities, reflecting that we all have a part to play in improving our waterways,” said Dr Mackle.

But it doesn’t focus on bird life. The major contributor to the poor quality of some waterways is birds, for example the seagulls which nest on rocks beside the Kakanui River.

“We agree with a focus on ecosystem health and alongside this, options to better track the impact of improvements farmers are making to work towards this. However, we have serious concerns that the proposed approach of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus may not achieve improved ecosystem health and could have a significant impact on the viability of farm businesses and rural communities. We need to understand this better and what it means for our water quality, farmers and for the country.

“We know from experience that regulation is one tool, but hearts and minds are vital to create enduring change. We also want this to be grounded in facts and science, as well as economic and social analysis.

“Many things impact on ecosystem health, nutrients are often not the key driver. It will be important to recognise a catchment-by-catchment targeted approach as opposed to blanket one-size-fits all rules.

Solutions to problems in one catchment, or even part of a catchment, may not be applicable to all.

“We believe further uptake of Good Farming Practices and Farm Environment Plans across all farms, catchments and land users nationally is an effective way to accelerate further improvements,” said Dr Mackle. “Over 3000 farms already have a comprehensive Farm Environment Plan and we support that every farm has have one by 2025.

“Overall we support the intent of the Essential Freshwater Package but we haven’t been involved in its development, so we need to understand the proposed policies in more detail.

“It is important the policies contribute to meaningful improvements in water quality for the community and there are realistic expectations for all landowners.

“We believe on-farm initiatives are already contributing to maintaining or improving water quality across many catchments and the most recent LAWA report supports this, with almost all water quality measures showing more sites improving, than not.”

Dr Mackle said there is an opportunity to extend on the good work already done by promoting good farming principles across all catchments, farms and land owners. “This should build on successful sector initiatives, including the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, and we don’t want to see our good work undone.

“Our farmers are adaptable and have made significant changes to how we farm over the last 30 years. We will continue to learn and make changes into the future,” said Dr Mackle.

“We recognise that over time, future land use may look different than it does today. It is important that farmers have the certainty, tools and adequate transition time to continue on the journey and make the changes that may be needed over the next generation.

“Looking forward, we are encouraged by the prospect of a vibrant primary sector and rural communities, benefiting from healthy and resilient waterways.”

These proposals are typical of so many of the governments that don’t follow the science and take a balanced approach to sustainability taking into account economic, environmental and social impacts.

Water quality degraded over many years and reversing that will take time.

You can download a copy of Action for Healthy Waterways here.


Rural round-up

22/08/2019

600 farmers in big water project

Large-scale initiative in Southland expected to have big effect on water quality:

You could say it’s “ace” that more than 600 farmers and multiple agencies are working together to improve water quality in the Aparima catchment area in the deep south.

ACE – otherwise known as the Aparima Community Environment (ACE) project – is a farmer-led initiative in Southland aimed at over 600 farms spread over 207,000 hectares – with 81 per cent of that area developed. It has multi-agency participation with DairyNZ, Beef & Lamb and Environment Southland involved.

The ace thing about ACE, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for responsible dairying, Dr David Burger, is its enormous scale and the intent to support all land managers in good farming practice. It will also track what happens on every single farm in the six Aparima catchment groups – Pourakino, Lower Aparima, Orepuki, Mid Aparima, Upper Aparima and Waimatuku – and relate this to water quality downstream. . . 

Federated Farmers hails court ruling as a win for Rotorua community:

The voices of farmers in Rotorua, led by Federated Farmers, have been instrumental in the Environment Court’s rejection of Land Use Capability (LUC) as a tool for nitrogen allocation.

Federated Farmers, along with the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective, has been fighting a proposal by Rotorua Lakes Council, forestry and others seeking to allocate nitrogen discharges using LUC methodology.  With evidence from member farmers in the catchment, as well as by engaging experts and consultants, Federated Farmers demonstrated the LUC proposal would fail farm businesses and their communities to the point of potential ruin, Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

“It would also have had a more uncertain environmental outcome than the original proposal  by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in Plan Change 10,” he said.

“We’re pleased the Court comprehensively rejected the LUC proposal that would have required nitrogen discharge reductions of 80% by dairy farmers and 40% by drystock farmers.  In contrast, the allocation for forestry would have increased six fold. This would have meant that most farmers would have had to lease back nitrogen (that had been transferred to forestry) in order to continue farming.” . . 

Forget about another share trading review – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Fonterra director Nicola Shadbolt says the recent collapse of a few dairy cooperatives should be blamed on their strategy, not their co-op structure.

She says the collapse of Australia’s biggest dairy co-op Murray Goulburn and the demise of Westland Milk co-op on the West Coast is not about their structure.

“It is governance, it is strategy. I mean for every two co-ops that fail there are about a thousand corporates… nobody says of the corporates that it’s their business model. But with co-ops it’s always their business model that is blamed.”

Shadbolt, a fierce proponent of the cooperative model, is aware of moves by some farmers and a few directors to return capital structure to the table. . .

Is there a future for OZ Fonterra as Fonterra’s finances unravel – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it expects a loss of around $600 million or more for the year ended 31 July 2019 has big ramifications for Oz Fonterra.  With overseas-milk pools now lying outside the central focus of Fonterra’s new strategy, and with Fonterra seriously short of capital, the Australian-milk pool and associated processing assets look increasingly burdensome.

If Fonterra were to divest its Australian operations, then it would demonstrate that Fonterra really is retreating to be a New Zealand producer of New Zealand dairy ingredients. It would also reinforce the notion that consumer-branded products are now largely beyond its reach.

This strategic position is close to where Fonterra was in around 2006, when it decided that it was 50 years too late to take on the likes of Nestlé.  It did have both Australian and Chilean operations at that time but they were smaller than now. It also took on an initial shareholding in Chinese San Lu at that time, but essentially Fonterra saw itself as a New Zealand-based co-operative. . .

Agriculture fears it will be milked by EU free trade deal – Mike Foley:

Australia risks trading away hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural earnings if it doesn’t negotiate significant concessions from the European Union.

That’s according to industry groups Australian Dairy Farmers and the National Farmers’ Federation, which warned Trade Minister Simon Birmingham the EU will have to reduce its onerous tariffs and import barriers to make a free trade agreement (FTA).

“There would be no point in doing the deal for Australian farmers if we can’t see a realistic and positive outcome from this FTA,” NFF president Tony Mahar said. . . 

Want to protect the planet? Eat more beef, not less – Patrick Holden:

If students and staff at Goldsmiths University really want to help the environment, they should end their ban on selling beef on campus. Far from being the bogeymen portrayed by environmental campaigners, sustainably farmed beef and dairy cattle are integral to maintaining our green and pleasant land, keeping our waterways free of chemicals and feeding our population in the most efficient manner possible.

Two thirds of UK farmland is under grass and in most cases cannot be used for other crops. The only responsible way to convert this into food is to feed it to cattle, which are capable of deriving 100 per cent of their nutrition from grass and therefore are more efficient on such land than chickens or pigs. Even on grassland where crops could be grown, ploughing it up to create arable farms would release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and require the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser, all of which can devastate biodiversity.

Cattle farming does not just help to maintain grassland – it also works to improve the sustainability of existing cropland.  . . 


One size doesn’t fit all water

22/08/2019

Federated Farmers is sending the government a strong message on water quality:

A ‘one size fits all’, inflexible and punitive regulatory regime for water quality just gets backs – and costs – up and most importantly will not work, Federated Farmers says.

“We have consistently argued that farmers will get alongside and work with sensible, practical and affordable catchment-based solutions based on an accurate assessment of the actual water quality,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Labour and the Greens both tried to sell one-size for all policies before the election and every time they did support for national improved.

Environment Minister David Parker has said announcements on tighter regulations on the agricultural sector are imminent.

“We all want good, fresh water.  All of us – farmers included – need, and have effects on, water quality whether we drink it, use it for some commercial purpose or recreate in it.

“The question is how you drive water quality improvements.  There’s no doubt there is a place for rules and regulation, but they must take into account the circumstances of each catchment – soil types, land uses and community priorities to name a few,” Allen said.

What is needed and what works for one water way is not necessarily what will work and what’s needed for another.

“We must keep up the momentum with the water quality improvements we are already seeing in many catchments, not cut across this with cumbersome, draconian, one-size-fits-all regulations.”

Federated Farmers believes regional councils should be required to go through the nutrient limit setting process as per the current National Policy Statement, “with a stick approach to achieve it,” Allen said.

“Some councils haven’t done it, and that’s a problem.  If the reason is capacity issues for smaller councils, the government could help with resourcing. But we have to bear in mind that these processes are complex and take time.”

On stock exclusion, the issue is about keeping stock out of water, not mandatory and arbitrary setbacks.  A significant amount of work has already been done by farmers applying the appropriate method to achieve stock exclusion.

“In dairy districts, we should build on the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.  Farmers have already invested huge amounts of time and effort, resulting in outcomes including stock being excluded from waterways on 97.5% of dairy farms, and more than 99.7% of regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now having bridges or culverts. We are seeing the improvements form this sort of work coming though. For example, a recent regional council report shows that water quality in Taranaki rivers is showing long-term improvement.  Nearly half the rivers showed significant improvement, which has flowed from the stock exclusion, extensive riparian plantings farmers have done and changes to effluent disposal.

“There are now a lot of regional councils which do have good rules for stock exclusion, based on what is needed for their region.  They are fit for purpose and farmers have gone on and are living with them. Councils that don’t have rules are a minority and need to get on with the job.” 

If councils already have rules which work, they should be left to carry on with them.

Any proposed changes should be underpinned by robust cost-benefit analysis and rather than bald measurements of attributes (nitrogen, turbidity, phosphorus, etc) the catchment-based improvement programmes should be geared around the values the local community rate as the priorities – for example, can you swim in it, can fish and macroinvertebrates thrive in it, Allen said.

They should also take into account nature’s contribution to water pollution, like the nesting seagulls which foul several rivers, including the Kakanui from which we get our drinking water.

“When we do issue national environmental reports, the findings should come with the full picture.  What was the season like – hot, dry, wet…all of those things affect water quality and we need that context, not just bald numbers from a very limited number of sites.”

Farmers would also like to see consistency in approach across the sectors, and appropriate recognition of where changes that have been made, whether by urban or rural sectors, that are delivering improvements to water quality. 

Consistency would be a much needed improvement on current rules, or at least the application of them, that take a much more lenient approach to councils that allow storm water and sewerage to pollute waterways and beaches than it does to farmers.

Recognition of changes already made would help ensure those who are already doing their bit aren’t penalised to help the laggards.

Clean water is essential for human health and plays a big role in recreation.

We all have an interest in making improvements, it’s how it’s done is worrying farmers.

 


Rural round-up

27/07/2019

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

03/05/2019

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

20/04/2019

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. . .


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