Rural round-up

21/12/2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

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

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

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

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

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

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

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

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

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

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

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

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

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

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

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

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

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

08/10/2018

Passion for industry that has a strong future – Sally Rae:

Katrina Bishop was exposed to the fine wool industry from a young age.

She grew up at Mt Otekaike Station in the Waitaki Valley where her father Geoff had a merino stud and a passion for fine wool.

That love of wool was passed on to her — “it’s in my veins, I had no choice” she laughed — and eventually led to a career in wool-classing.

More recently, she moved to a newly-created position with the New Zealand Merino Company as a wool preparation consultant. . . 

Award for “ODT” journalist:

Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae has won the Alliance Group Ltd red meat industry journalism award.

The award recognised the ability to communicate the complexities of the red meat industry.

Ms Rae’s entries included a profile on former Central Otago man Mark Mitchell, who has spent the past 30 years working in the meat industry in the United States, particularly as a pioneer for New Zealand venison, and a feature on the Antipocurean Series which covered a visit to Minaret Station with a group of international chefs and food media. . . 

Adverse events scheme set to go – Neal Wallace:

The Government is planning to repeal the Adverse Events Scheme that smooths tax liability following an extreme event but say the process will be retained in other legislation.

The Adverse Events Scheme lets farmers and rural businesses smooth extreme income earned through an adverse event such as drought, flood or a Mycoplasma bovis cull and later spending for restocking.

Inland Revenue has proposed retaining the scheme by amending an existing law and including improved aspects of the scheme.

An IRD spokesman said a review of the scheme’s provisions found it is inflexible when compared to corresponding schemes. . . 

No surprises in government’s fresh water management strategy:

The government’s announcement this morning of its determination to encourage the entire community, not just farmers, to continue to clean up waterways came as no surprise to Federated Farmers.

The report outlined the government’s intention to keep the pressure on all Kiwis to continue to work towards better fresh water systems, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“All we ask is that the government uses an even hand. For example, the commitment to getting tougher on nutrient discharges to waterways needs to be applied fairly to both councils, corporates and farmers. 

Fast Five: The outdoor life :

Joe Lines grew up in the small seaside community of Tangimoana in Manawatu.

He describes himself as townie who spent most of his youth at the beach.

He left school and went farming because the money was good and he enjoyed working outdoors and with the stock.

He has been dairying for seven years and has worked his way up the progression ladder and is in his fourth season as a 2IC.   . . 

Stratford’s shearing season off to super start – Rachael Kelly:

It’s two from two for top shearer Nathan Stratford.

Fresh from a win at the New Zealand Merino Shears at Alexandra, he won the open competition at the Waimate Spring Shears on Saturday.

It’s only the beginning of the shearing  season but New Zealand representative Stratford said the competition was “top level,” with plenty of shearers from the North Island on the boards.

“There were four North Islanders and two South Islanders in the final.

Farmers lead community to fight local river pollution –  A New Zealand community stands up for clean water:

In New Zealand, the recently completed Pathway for the Pomahaka project showcased an innovative approach to sustainable development. Farmers took responsibility for improving local water quality in partnership with their community.

On its face, the area around the Pomahaka River in South Otago, on New Zealand’s South Island, is typical of the sort of unspoiled landscapes the country is famous for. Local water quality, however, has become a cause for concern. Levels of phosphates, nitrogen and E. coli were getting too high, with sediment entering the river and increasing pollution. The intensification of agriculture in the region, a shift toward dairy farming, and heavy soils coupled with a wet local climate all compounded the problem.

Without action, water quality would have continued to deteriorate. The Pomahaka might have eventually become unsuitable for recreational purposes like fishing, swimming and boating. . . 


1080 or death to natives

12/09/2018

Doc, Federated Farmers, Ospri, Royal Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ are countering the emotion against 1080 with facts:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is fully committed to the use of 1080 to protect our forests and native wildlife in the face of the current campaign of misinformation and is joined by other agencies in standing up for the use of this pesticide.

New Zealand’s native wildlife is in crisis. The flocks of native birds that used to fill our forests have been killed and replaced by vast populations of rats, possums, stoats and other introduced predators. This is not the future most New Zealanders want.

These animals also carry diseases which pose a danger to people, pets and farm animals.

DOC, OSPRI (TBfree NZ), Federated Farmers, Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ all agree that 1080 is an effective, safe and valuable tool in the fight to protect New Zealand’s forests and native birds, bats, insects and lizards.

The agencies above, along with community groups and volunteers, invest huge amounts of time and effort to protect out native taonga from predation. There are multiple tools and technologies used to control predators of which 1080 is one. 1080 is a highly effective toxin and a necessary tool to help protect our native species.

We use a range of methods including the latest self-setting traps and there is significant research being undertaken into pest control technologies. However, Forest and Bird volunteer trappers agree they could never cover the vast and inaccessible areas that aerial 1080 operations can. Biodegradable aerial 1080 is the most effective tool we have for suppressing rats, possums and stoats in one operation over large, difficult to access wilderness areas—where most of our native wildlife lives.

Huge areas of native bush is inaccessible by foot and the only way currently available to kill pests where trapping is impossible is 1080.

Scientific and technological advances, including genetic modification, might provide alternatives in the future but there are no viable alternatives now.

These organisations use or advocate for 1080 because it is backed by years of rigorous testing, review and research by scientists from Landcare Research, Universities, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ministry of Health and the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In 2011, the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright wrote a comprehensive report on 1080 and the current Parliamentary Commissioner, Dr Simon Upton, stands by Dr Wright’s analysis and recommendations.

The results are clear that where 1080 is used, our birds and native wildlife start to flourish.

We understand that some New Zealanders have genuine concerns and fears about 1080 in relation to the environment, water, animal welfare and wild food sources. We urge them to seek out www.1080thefacts.co.nz that addresses these issues.

New Zealanders have a choice: use 1080 to protect our native species over large-scale wilderness areas or end up with collapsing and denuded forests and our native species restricted to pest-free islands and fenced sanctuaries.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/standupfor1080

Lou Sanson, Director-General, Department of Conservation

Chris Allen, Board Member, Federated Farmers

Barry Harris, Chair, OSPRI

Kevin Hague, Chief Executive, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society

Livia Esterhazy, Chief Executive, WWF-NZ

Predator Free 2050 is an ambitious goal which will need a range of pest control measures to achieve, including some not yet invented or feasible.

Until science and technology come up with effective alternatives, the choice is 1080 or death to native birds, bats, insects and lizards, and the destruction of native fauna.


Rural round-up

01/07/2018

Farmers stop cow abuser from working with animals unsupervised – Gerard Hutching:

The Northland contract milker caught hitting cows by hidden cameras has been banned from working unsupervised around animals.

Owners of the dairy farm said “as lifelong and committed dairy farmers we are shocked and deeply saddened” by the reports of the ill treatment of some stock on their farm.

“As of today the contract milker concerned has been removed from all duties requiring unsupervised contact with stock pending the outcome of due process with regard to our contractual obligations,” they said in a statement.

The man had earlier been described as a sharemilker, but the owners clarified that he is a contract milker. Sharemilkers own their own cows, whereas contract milkers work with a farm owner’s livestock. . . 

Reigning Young Farmer grand final winner ready for 50th anniversary – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If he had not won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last year, Lovells Flat sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead would be in Invercargill giving it another go next week.

The 50th anniversary event kicks off in Invercargill on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

“I would be studying my backside off right now to have another go,” the 29-year-old said.

It is now up to another past grand finalist and this year’s Otago-Southland regional winner Logan Wallace, who farms at Waipahi, to have a shot at the Southland-based grand final. . .

Youngsters get say on future :

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers and ask them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative provides tools and resources for farmers, growers and farm workers to help them better cope with the ups and downs of farming.

It will help provide a clearer picture of the things that might work to improve the wellbeing of younger farmers and farm workers.  . . 

Why there’s no rural-urban divide when it comes to caring for the environment – Melissa Clark-Reynolds:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says farmers care just as much about the environment as everyone else, and with its new Environment Strategy and Implementation plan, it plans to help sheep and beef farmers promote reduced carbon emissions, cleaner water, thriving biodiversity, and healthy productive soils. 

I recently spoke at a farmer’s event in Christchurch with a few hundred sheep and beef farmers from the northern part of the South Island. At the end of my talk, an older farmer came up to me and asked why I hadn’t talked about organics. On my way home, someone tweeted me that they’d “always said we should have declared all of New Zealand organic and GMO-free. The price premium could have been whatever we asked for.”

At the Beef + Lamb AGM recently, a group of farmers (mixed ages, from their 20s through to their 60s) asked me why I hadn’t talked more about Regenerative Agriculture – farming that heals the land, the lifeforms that dwell there, and the communities of people too. The fact that I keep being surprised by this stuff says more about me as an urban Kiwi than it does about farmers. . .

Nutrient management valuable tool if handled correctly says Allen:

The National Party’s announcement of bipartisan support for the Climate Change Commission last week made it clear that environmental conservation is currently at the forefront of political and social concern in this country.

Part of that concern is the issue of national water quality, breached by David Parker several weeks ago with his announcement of plans to introduce nationwide farm nutrient limits.

A particular point of contention was the suggestion that destocking would have to take place in certain areas to meet the new limits. However, Federated Farmers national board member Chris Allen says if all else fails, it’s just something some farmers may have to accept: . .

What makes a good farmer – Blue North:

What are the attributes of a really good farmer? Would they include a penchant for order and neatness? A single-minded focus on efficiency and yield maximization? A bullet-proof resolve in the face of risk? What about drive for expansion and scale or technical proficiency? While some or all of these may currently inform our rating of farmers, I want to propose some alternative attributes in response to this question. But before getting there, some context is needed.

One of the formative ideas, probably the most important one, that shaped our thinking when we started Blue North in 2011, and which fundamentally shapes what we do to this day, is understanding farmers as the key role-players in determining the sustainability of food supply-chains, and, by extrapolation, the sustainability of mankind as a whole. . .

What are the challenges facing farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .


Rural round-up

28/06/2018

Improved systems lower dariy’s footprint – Esther Taunton:

The greenhouse gas emissions produced for every kilogram of milk solids have fallen by almost a third in the 25 years to 2015, DairyNZ says.

At a climate change workshop in Taranaki on Thursday, DairyNZ senior climate change advisor Milena Scott said New Zealand’s dairy industry had been increasing its emissions efficiency by an average of one per cent per year since 1990.

Data from the Ministry for the Environment showed that from 1990 to 2015, the emissions intensity of milk solids fell 29 per cent, Scott said. . .

Negative comment undervalues agri-food industry – Sally Rae:

Unbalanced narrative around the agri-food sector is putting both it and the contribution it makes to New Zealand at risk, KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot believes.

In the latest KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, Mr Proudfoot said that narrative had reached a point where it could not longer be ignored ”as an inconvenience or an annoyance” and it should be considerably more positive.

”It is this sector that pays for the schools, roads and hospitals that the whole community relies upon. . .

Devil in the detail of fresh water management:

Key advice from a water report for the Government should be considered, but the devil will be in the detail says the Federated Farmers representative on the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), Chris Allen.

The LAWF report on preventing water quality degradation and addressing sediment and nitrogen has been released to the Government. The data and 38 recommendations are the culmination of a lot of work from many different groups represented on the Forum, Chris says.

“While there are still a range of views, especially when it comes to nitrogen discharge allowances, the fact is everyone is at the table and working on getting it right.” . . 

Lamb exports set new record:

The value of lamb exports hit a new record of $369 million in May 2018, Stats NZ said today. Higher prices and more quantities of lamb exported boosted this month’s level. The previous high for lamb exports was $340 million in February 2009.

“It has been a strong month for meat exports in general, with both lamb and beef increasing in quantities,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. . .

North Island Māori secure a record slice of kiwifruit market:

Three North Island iwi-based entities have successfully purchased one of New Zealand’s largest kiwifruit portfolios.

Te Arawa Group Holdings (Rotorua); Rotoma No 1 Incorporation (Rotorua), and Ngāti Awa Group Holdings (Whakatane) today announced they are the new owners of Matai Pacific’s vast kiwifruit portfolio.

The large-scale property deal includes three Bay of Plenty orchards covering a total of almost 100 canopy hectares. . . 

Fodder insurance – silage pit – Mark Griggs:

For Talbragar River cattle breeder and grazier Brian Bowman, droughts and floods are not new.

The Bowman family at “Shingle Hut”, Dunedoo, experienced three consecutive floods in 2010 to 2012, wiping out each year’s crop.

Mr Bowman said each flood covering all the river flat country was in November and wiped out 486 hectares of wheat crops in each of the first two and a big canola crop in the third year. . .

This start up can make avocados last twice as long before going bad – Caitlin Dewey:

The new avocados rolling out to Midwest Costco stores this week don’t look like the future of fresh produce. But they’re testing technology that could more than double the shelf life of vegetables and fruits.

That technology, developed by the start-up Apeel Sciences, consists of an invisible, plant-based film that reinforces the avocados’ own skin. The company hopes to expand to stores nationwide — as well as to a range of other produce.

Experts say the product, which has quadrupled shelf life in a lab setting, has the potential to make foods less perishable — with huge boons for consumers, the environment and the food industry. .  .


Rural round-up

06/06/2018

Mycoplasma bovis: European semen is the likely culprit source – Keith Woodford:

It is now increasingly evident that European-sourced semen, imported legally but containing live Mycoplasma bovis that survived the antibiotic cocktail, is the likely source of the organism in New Zealand dairy.

The evidence suggests it struck first in Southland, but there is a likelihood that the same semen has struck on other farms, and then spread from there via progeny.

It is also likely that Mycoplasma bovis arrived in New Zealand via this semen by late 2014 or even earlier.  This is an important issue because so far MPI has only focused on events since the end of 2015. . .

Dairy sector told to look to success of alternative products – Sally Rae:

The time is right for the dairy sector to reflect on the success of alternative dairy products and consider applying those lessons to dairy, a dairy expert says.

In an industry report, Rabobank dairy senior analyst Tom Bailey said the key was understanding the consumer.

Marketers of dairy alternatives had been far more successful in connecting with consumers on an emotional level than traditional dairy marketers, he said.

In the past 10 years, global retail sales growth for dairy alternatives had soared at a rate of 8% annually. . .

Action plan accelerates waterway protection efforts:

The Good Farming Practice Action Plan for Water Quality is a tangible illustration of commitment by the primary sector, local and central government to work together to enhance our streams and rivers, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our agriculture and horticulture industries are already a long way down the trail of environmental stewardship but this is an important step towards achieving higher standards,” Chris says. . .

No major impact from ‘M bovis’ cull – Sally Rae:

The long-term influence on the beef schedule from the Mycoplasma bovis cull is not expected to be significant, Rabobank New Zealand’s animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

On Monday, the Government and industry announced phased eradication would go ahead, with a further 126,000 cattle to be culled over the next one to two years.

Given the number of cattle being culled represented only about 5% of New Zealand’s annual beef slaughter, and the cull was occurring over a prolonged period, the negative impact on prices should be limited when compared to external factors, such as export market demand, Mr Holgate said. . .

Young guy with autism believes more people with disabilities should be employed – Jill Galloway:

Palmerston North teenager Jeremy Price just wants to work on a dairy farm.

Diagnosed with autism and  attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) four years ago, he  believes more people with disabilities should be employed.

“Not just on farms, but in other industries as well. People think the worst of any people whose CV shows they have a condition. But most people can do the job and should not be labelled.”

Price,17,  is just a “normal” teenager, other than being open about living with his conditions. . .

Search on for forages that reduce nitrogen leaching – Tony Benny:

The Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching project is delivering better than expected results, says programme leader Ina Pinxterhuis. She talked to Tony Benny.

With public concern over the effect of dairy farming on the environment mounting, DairyNZ has taken the lead in finding ways to reduce farming’s negative effects while maintaining productivity and profitability.

Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching is an MBIE-funded collaborative programme by DairyNZ, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Lincoln University, Foundation for Arable Research and Landcare Research with the aim of cutting nitrate leaching losses by 20 per cent.

It combines field and animal experiments with computer modelling and trials on nine Canterbury monitor farms – four dairy, two sheep and beef, two arable and one mixed arable/dairy. . .

Farmer shoots dog attacking cattle:

A Northland farmer has shot two dogs caught mauling his cattle after the owner was unable to call her dogs off the panicking stock.

The attack showed even well-trained dogs could turn quickly without warning, Hikurangi farmer Stuart Clark said. If there was any doubt, the dogs should be kept on a lead, he added.

He said a couple had been walking two dogs at the Lake Waro Reserve recently when they strayed onto his land at the north end of the lake where cattle were grazing. . .

Trees on farms -DairyNZ:

With good planning and design, trees create a pleasant, diverse and interesting place in which to live and work.

Trees have the power to inspire awe and wonder. For generations they have been used to beautify the landscape.

Trees have many attributes. Plantings for timber, livestock shelter, shade, fodder, soil conservation and biodiversity can deliver significant benefits. Each adds capital value to your farm as well as character and visual appeal. . .

 

x


No snow leopards

26/03/2018

Federated Farmers is saying a definite no to snow leopards in the South Island high country.

Federated Farmers is stunned to learn of a proposal to introduce a snow leopard sanctuary in the South Island High Country.

The Ministry for the Environment has been petitioned by a Hastings man, who is inviting a private landowner to give up their land to create a safe haven for the endangered species.

“This idea, with all due respect, is outlandish and just plain crazy. It’s a poorly thought out concept, ” says Federated Farmers’ Environment Spokesperson Chris Allen.

“As a High Country farmer you’d be worried about your livestock and your own welfare for that matter, this would actually become a health and safety issue.

“The truly worst case scenario for any farmer is a rogue animal on their property or nearby.”

Federated Farmers trusts the Ministry will make a sensible decision and banish this idea. Its widely acknowledged that snow leopards are a pest to landowners in Mongolia – as they are known to attack livestock.

New Zealand is in the fortunate position of being free of native fierce creatures.

Introduced ones like pigs do a lot of damage to farmland and also prey on young stock.

The idea of saving the snow leopard by introducing it to our high country might sound noble from the safety of Hawkes Bay.

To those of us closer to the danger they’d present to people and stock it is as Feds say, crazy.


Rural round-up

19/03/2018

We need a long cool look at water – Andrew Curtis:

As years go, 2017 was dramatic.

In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills in tinder dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to evacuate.

In March, the upper North Island was soaked, with Auckland experiencing its wettest March day in 60 years, and over 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, and snow and strong winds to other areas. . . 

Mix of farming, forestry, engineering keeps McKenzies busy – Sally Rae:

When it comes to thinking outside the square, it would be hard to look past the innovative McKenzie family from Clinton.

Colin McKenzie jokes they have a lot of junk around, but they are incredibly clever at turning that “junk” into all sorts of machinery.

As well as running a large sheep and beef operation, they also do their own forest harvesting, utilising some of their own home-made technology. . . 

Effluent technology set to lift dairy water efficiency – Jamie Thompson:

Nutrient efficiency is vital to Ravensdown as a component of smarter farming — good for the bottom line and the environment.

Water efficiency is now a catch-cry and the dairy sector is being urged to lessen its water ‘footprint’.

Crucial to this challenge is how effluent is managed. Recycling and reusing the nutrients in dairy shed effluent is good practice, showing that dairy farmers are doing the right thing. This comes with a price tag: 70% of dairy farmers’ environmental spending goes on effluent management (see graph). . .

Passion for dairy farming shows through for Canterbury environment award winners:

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards have been won by a dairy farming company showing a fantastic level of passion, pride and promotion for its industry. David and Brenda Hislop, Mark Daly and Janet Girvan are partners in Medbury Farm Limited – milking 1240 cows on 442ha at Hawarden.

The awards judges said the partners show strong awareness of farming practices and how they influence the environment. “They show excellent attention to detail to business planning, governance and policies and how that influences and drives the business, as well as great staff and people management.” . . 

Fonterra close to reaching Argentina deal :

Fonterra is close to reaching a deal with Argentina-based dairy co-operative SanCor, according a media report from Buenos Aires.

The Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Fonterra was anticipated to finalise a deal with SanCor by the end of this month.

La Nacion, in a translated report, said Fonterra and SanCor would form a new company, of which Fonterra would have 80 to 90 percent control. The remaining shares would stay with the dairy farmers in Argentina. . . 

Education doesn’t encourage creativity’ – Jill Galloway:

The education system does not value creativity enough, says a business commentator.

Chanelle O’Sullivan​ was one of five speakers at a creativity breakfast seminar, one of 10 events being held as part of the Manawatū-hosted Agri Food Week.

Described as an entrepreneur who founded the websites Rural Mums and Virtual Insights, O’Sullivan advised people to not rely on anyone else “as no one is coming to rescue you”. However, people should not feel ashamed of failing. . . 

Four candidates for Silver Fern Farms board :

Conor English, the youngest brother of former Prime Minister Bill English, is throwing his hat in the ring for election to the Silver Fern Farms board of directors.

English is the former chief executive of Federated Farmers who started his farming career at the family farm in Dipton. He is also chairman of Agribusiness New Zealand, a company he founded after leaving Federated Farmers in 2014.

Board members Fiona Hancox and Rob Hewett, and chairman, retire by rotation at the company’s annual meeting in Dunedin on April 18.

Four candidates have put themselves forward for the two available positions on the board. Hancox and Hewett have both advised they will stand for re-election, while nominations have been received for Chris Allen and English. . . 


Rural round-up

14/08/2017

“Parallel Parker” Needs to Do A Better Job of Lining Up Labour’s Water Policy:

Federated Farmers wants Labour to honour the commitment it made to only look at charging overseas-owned water bottlers and to permanently park its discriminatory tax on water that will divide communities and undermine regional economies.

On 21 June this year, then Labour leader Andrew Little told the Federated Farmers national conference, in front of the media, that they were not going to tax water across the board – just look at water bottling. When news reports on this started to come out, Labour changed its tune.

At the beginning of this week Mr Parker was telling us it would apply to “large commercial users”, but now, and the end of the week, we hear it won’t apply to the very large companies putting water in bottled products right now in central Auckland. . . 

Labour could have knocked the water debate out of the park; But the economics of its royalties policy just don’t work; Let’s hope they get some nationalistic headlines out of it before questions are asked – Alex Tarrant:

Labour this election had the opportunity to knock the water pricing debate out of the park. Jacinda Ardern’s announcement Wednesday was instead a nod to politics over policy.

On the face it, the headline announcement that all commercial water users would be charged based on usage was a welcome addition to the water allocation and pricing debate in New Zealand this year.

But going beneath the surface throws up more questions than answers. These mainly stem from the policy’s central theme of different royalty rates applying to different water users, and depending on the quality of water used.

I made my views clear on this issue back in March. Let’s have a proper water pricing debate that encompasses all water use. We also need clarification on who owns water before we go about charging for it. . . 

Govt sets out path to better freshwater:

The Government’s new National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management will deliver cleaner lakes and rivers with ambitious new targets for improving their recreational and ecological health, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The new policy confirms the Government’s national target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. The policy has been strengthened following consultation by requiring regional councils to set regional targets and regularly reporting on achieving these. This ambitious plan will require 1000km of waterways be improved to a higher grading each year. It is being supported by new national environmental regulations governing activities like fencing stock out of waterways and forestry. . . 

Farmers welcome support to improve environment:

The Government’s announcement of $44 million to support freshwater improvement projects is welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

B+LNZ Chief Executive Sam McIvor says that over the past two years, in particular, the organisation has responded to farmer demand for support in the environment space. “Through this work, we’ve identified that – while farmers want to take action – knowing where to start and what to prioritise can be a barrier.

“This government funding is timely and will help us better support farmers to deliver on their water quality ambitions.” . . 

California crops rot as immigration crackdown creates farm worker shortage – Chris Morris:

Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California.

Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked. Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.

The ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policies is blamed for the shortage. The vast majority of California’s farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico. However, the PEW Research Center reports more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming here. . .

Collaboration essential for sustainable dairy farming:

If a future in sustainable farming is to be achieved in the coming years, companies in both the private and public sector need to be working both faster and more collaboratively, says dairy farm investment company Fortuna Group.

Southland-based Fortuna Group, along with Dairy Green, are the innovators at the forefront of New Zealand’s methane recovery system.

While there are other methane recovery plants in New Zealand, the partnership’s plant at Glenarlea Farms in Otautau is the only one that is consistently and reliably generating electricity from methane.  . . 

Lower fruit prices bittersweet due to high vegetable prices:

Fruit prices fell 5.2 percent in July 2017, contributing to a 0.2 percent fall in food prices, Stats NZ said today.

Cheaper avocados and strawberries led the fall in fruit prices in July. Avocado prices fell 29 percent in July, coming off a near-record high in June, and strawberry prices fell 23 percent. The average price for a 250g punnet of strawberries was $5.92 in July 2017, compared with $7.71 in June.

“Strawberries are unseasonably cheap for this time of year,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “They typically reach their lowest price in December, but are currently dropping in price due to more imports from Australia.” . . 

NZ wool sale volumes rise at double auction across North, South islands  – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A higher volume of wool was sold at auction in New Zealand this week after organisers skipped a week and held a double auction across both islands.

Some 80 percent of the 15,054 wool bales offered at auctions in Napier in the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island were sold yesterday, AgriHQ said. That’s ahead of the 72 percent clearance rate for the 2016/17 season which ended June 30, and the average 77 percent rate for the first six weeks of the current season. . . .

Sanity prevails over proposed animal manure imports says Feds:

Sanity based on sound science has prevailed says Federated Farmers after the Government confirmed it would no longer be permitting imports of products containing animal manure.

The decision follows a Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) investigation which discovered imported compost from the Netherlands, intended for mushroom growing, contained animal manure.

“This is the right decision and we are glad the Government has taken this step. Federated Farmers made a strong submission earlier in the year against these imports,” says Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers’ Biosecurity Spokesperson. . . 

Synlait Invests in Category Management to Target Growth:

Synlait Milk is investing in category management capability to support increased business development in existing and new categories.

“Building discipline in category management is a crucial step in our pursuit of profitable, and sustainable, growth opportunities,” says John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO.

“We’re here to make the most from milk. Category management will allow us to continue planning our growth into the most profitable categories, products and customers, and to monitor our progress against those plans.” . . 

Fonterra hailed as top NZ co-op:

Fonterra has been judged New Zealand’s top co-operative business of the year, and praised for a “stunning financial turnaround, generous social responsibility programmes and a high profile campaign proudly proclaiming its Kiwi farmer-owned, co-operative status”. 

The sector’s peak body Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) made the award at a function in Auckland last night.

Shareholders’ Council Chair Duncan Coull, who collected the award, says our farmers should take real pride in this special recognition for their co-op.

“Our farmer shareholders set themselves high standards, and it’s their daily hard work and commitment that drives the success of the co-op. I also want to recognise the energy and contribution of our staff in helping build a co-op that returns such value to shareholders, local communities and the New Zealand economy.”  . . 


Labour wants consent to farm

12/08/2017

Labour’s water tax policy holds a sting in its tail:

Farmers and horticulturalists face the prospect of resource consents if they want to make a shift in land use under a Labour government.

Buried in Labour’s water policy announcement was its intention to dump the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management and replace it with a policy based on recommendations made by Environment Court judge David Sheppard in 2010.

Sheppard’s recommendation was any increase in farming intensity including more livestock, irrigation or fertiliser would no longer be permitted under the Resource Management Act unless a resource consent was obtained.

That suggestion was shelved by National when it instead opted for the policy statement on freshwater management now in play.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Chris Allen said he was surprised to learn about the resource consent provision in Labour’s policy, which had less profile than the water royalty charges mooted.

“But take that along with the water charges and they have just added another level of burden and cost on producing food in this country.

“It would seem the $18 cabbage will become more of a reality.”

He also challenged the costs the consent conditions would bring.

“This will require a significant increase in the number of people skilled to work in this area of consenting.

“Even here just in Canterbury right now we cannot get enough of those people, let alone throughout NZ.”

He said Labour’s water package taken in its entirety should have all New Zealanders concerned. . .

Water New Zealand has joined the critics of the policy:

. . . “It is only fair that some of the profits from the taking of water are returned to communities to help restore degraded water quality,” says Chief Executive John Pfahlert.

But it’s not fair that people who are already doing everything they can to protect and enhance waterways and in areas where there aren’t quality problems should pay for clean-ups elsewhere.

In principle it acknowledges the value of water and its huge contribution to our economic security and way of life.”

He says he can understand why voters would be attracted to policies that include charging big commercial users such farmers who rely on irrigation and water bottling companies. But he believes a fairer approach would be to charge everybody who uses water.

“Why target farmers and water bottlers and not industrial and domestic users in order to ensure that water is used efficiently across all sectors?”

John Pfahlert says it is important that there is a consistent approach to any policy on water and water pricing and not a knee-jerk response to opinion polls.

He says although publicly appealing, this policy raises many difficult questions.

“Currently the Government’s view is that nobody owns water. This policy takes the view that everybody owns the water.

“This shift in ownership status would raise questions of the rights of Maoridom who could legitimately claim a share of ownership under the Treaty of Waitangi.”

John Pfahlert says there are also questions around the mechanisms that would be used to impose a charge on water consent holders and irrigators.

“It would probably mean there would need to be retrospective legislation and this would raise many fish hooks for farmers and for the government.”

Massey University agribusiness expert Dr Jame Lockhart says the policy is the wrong solution to the wrong problem:

Dr Lockhart says the policy has been borne out of unsustainable growth by the dairy industry and foreign-owned bottling plants exporting water at no cost and creating little, if any, benefit to New Zealand.

“There is no doubt that some of our waterways have degraded with the intensification of land use,” he says. “This is due to many things – water extraction for irrigation, reducing flow levels, is only one. But if these are the problems that Labour is trying to solve, then the policy cabinet is full of tried and true methods to rectify them.”

He says the impact on farmers will be immense, especially those in regions where water supply is at risk, including the Heretaunga Plains, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury in particular and North and Central Otago.

“If this tax, and it is a tax, is at the levels being mooted, there could be as much as $500-600 billion to be paid by irrigation users, including vegetable growers, vineyards, and orchardists. Agriculture and horticulture is being asked to bear the entire burden for the nation’s water use and the degradation of its waterways.” . . .

The policy also raises questions over property rights and Treaty claims.

“Due to the abundance of water in New Zealand, we have not assigned value to it in the way we should. That means New Zealand has built an agricultural and horticultural sector around water being free, while the volumes used are regulated to some extent, all the costs to date are around access and application, such as storage, pumping and distribution.

“So, if a business has its own harvesting and storage, does it pay the same royalty as a business that takes artesian groundwater or surface water? At that point some fundamental property rights are being removed from those who have invested in their own systems.”

He says the thorny issue of who owns water in New Zealand has, until now, been something that successive governments have tried to avoid.

“Who owns water in New Zealand? Right now, Labour is saying that if they become government they do. At that point, water ownership becomes highly contestable and immediately opens the door for another round of Treaty claims.”

There are also anomalies in the policy, Dr Lockhart says, including during periods of drought.

“Labour appears to be offering some leniency during drought events so when water has the most value to the agricultural and horticultural sectors, and the environmental consequences are greatest, the tax will be either lowered or removed completely. That shows it is not an environmental issue they are trying to solve at all.

“Labour is boldly going where no government has gone before – but this is looking largely punitive as opposed to being a deliberate effort to restore the quality of our waterways.

“The policy simply has not been thought through as anything other than a vote gathering exercise. Our tax system should not be built on the principle that someone has to do worse for you to do better.”

This is echoed by the Taxpayers’ Union:

Labour’s Water Tax policy is quickly becoming the laughing stock of public policy circles with parallels being made to its infamous 2014 NZ Power policy – which, ironically, saw the very industry which escapes the Water Tax whacked with an economic gorilla.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says, “Three week’s ago, if Andrew Little got up and announced a new water tax, but couldn’t answer how much it is, he’d have been laughed off the stage”.

“How can Labour credibly protest against industry claims that cabbages will cost $18 and grocery bills will sky-rocket when they can’t put a single number next to their policy?”

“As much as NZ Power was laughed at, at least David Cunliffe had some numbers.”

Minister for Primary Industries said the policy is like sending farmers a blank invoice.

Labour has little understanding of farming and very few MPs outside Auckland and Wellington.

Perhaps that’s why they haven’t joined the dots between the profitability of farming and those who service and supply the industry, nor between the costs of food production and the cost of food.

 


Rural round-up

10/08/2017

Farmers to Labour: “Tell Us Your Numbers”:

Federated Farmers’ challenge to Labour is: “Tell us what numbers you have in mind.”

Labour yesterday announced proposals for a tax on water for large commercial users, including farmers who rely on irrigation water, but in the absence of detail some eye-watering numbers in the billions of dollars have been floated.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Chris Allen said the pledge to consult with those affected if Labour is part of the new government is appreciated, but it still means voters are sailing blind into the election. . .

Seven farm tests show  no disease – Sally Rae:

The first test results from seven of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group’s farms have returned negative for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The bacterial disease has previously been confirmed on two VLDG properties in the Waimate district, the first time the disease had been detected in New Zealand.

In an update yesterday, response incident controller Eve Pleydell said two further rounds of testing would be required on those seven farms before they could be declared free of the disease. Results were pending for the remaining seven VLDG properties.

Good progress was made during the weekend, as laboratory teams continued to test thousands of milk and blood samples from VLG farms and neighbouring properties, Dr Pleydell said. . . 

‘No evidence’ imported frozen semen cause of mycoplasma outbreak:

Key points
MPI has confirmed no evidence that of resistance to mycoplasma in imports of bovine semen.
World Wide Sires – marketing arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world Select Sires/Accelerated Genetics – reinforce all bulls and semen free of the disease.

The New Zealand arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world – and one of the globe’s major semen companies – is pleased MPI has confirmed there is no evidence that resistance has developed to mycoplasma in imported bovine semen*. . . 

Horticulture election manifesto asks for land and water protection:

Horticulture New Zealand has launched its 2017 Election Manifesto with five key priorities for the new Government, to be elected on 23 September.

“Keeping unique growing land and having sensible policies around access to water are critical to New Zealand’s ongoing supply of safe, healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“One of our main asks for a new Government will be a food security policy for New Zealand. This may sound redundant in such an abundant land, but there are a host of challenges to our food supply including urban encroachment on unique growing land, emotional battles over water, changing weather patterns, access to enough people to grow and harvest our food, and increasing border traffic meaning more potential biosecurity risks. . . 

New national standard for plantation forestry:

A new nationwide set of environmental rules for managing New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of plantation forestry will better protect the environment and deliver significant savings in compliance costs, Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston say.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest primary industry but its efficiency is hampered by the confusing mix of planning rules across New Zealand’s 86 councils. The strength of this national approach is that it will better protect the environment while also improving the productivity of the forestry sector by applying consistent environmental standards to reduce operational costs,” Dr Smith says. . . 

What’s gone wrong with New Zealand farming? – Glen Herud:

New Zealanders were once proud of our farming heritage. But at some point, as agriculture intensified and started spilling into our other source of pride, our clean green image, trust was lost, writes GLEN HERUD.

To the general public, it looked like farmers were getting greedy.

But like Auckland housing, farming has changed from an every man’s game. And the answer is not to tweak the regulations or adjust nitrogen inputs with new technology. These are both fine. The answer is a whole new system.

The number of dairy herds in New Zealand is decreasing but the size of each herd is increasing.

A graph from Dairy NZ shows that in 1986 there were 16,000 dairy herds with an average herd size of 140 cows. Today we have 11,500 herds with an average herd size of 420 cows. . . 

The great food disruption: part 4 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part three of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable.

Tyson Foods – one of the biggest meat producers in the world – sent its principal scientist, Hultz Smith, to the Modern Agriculture Foundation’s Cultured Meat and Path to Commercialisation Conference in Israel this year to learn from the world’s top-tier cellular agricultural and tissue engineering scientists, researchers, academics and industry leaders. A proponent of cellular agriculture, Hultz even openly supports cultured meat research, viewing it as a viable substitute to current meat production and one that gives consumers a broader choice. And in late 2016 the company launched a $150 million venture fund zeroing in on the alternative protein – including cellular agriculture – space. “This fund is about broadening our exposure to innovative, new forms of protein and ways of producing food,” said Monica McGurk, Tyson executive vice president of strategy, at its launch. . .

Australia’s Capilano Honey profits bolstered from capital gain in asset sale to Comvita JV – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Australian honey maker Capilano Honey’s joint venture with Comvita has had an immediate, if unrealised, benefit for the Queensland-based company’s bottom line.

The two honey companies teamed up last year to create Medibee Apiaries in Australia to produce Leptospermum honey, commonly known as manuka, for medical and natural health products. In July last year, Capilano realised a capital gain of A$2.1 million following the sale of its manuka beekeeping assets into the joint venture with no tax attributable to the capital gain on the asset sale, it said. The total assets it sold into the joint venture were worth A$9.2 million. . . 

PGG Wrightson full-year profit gains 5.7% as lower debt costs offset stalled revenue growth –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson posted a 5.7 percent gain in full-year profit, meeting its guidance, as the rural services company benefitted from lower interest costs, offsetting stalled growth in revenue.

Profit rose to $46.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $43.8 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. Sales fell to $1.13 billion from $1.18 billion. . . 

Young Grower of the Year decided next week:

The winner of the New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower and four regional Young Fruit Grower winners will compete next week for the national title Young Grower of the Year 2017.

On August 16 and 17, at the Sudima Airport Hotel in Christchurch, the five finalists will test their horticultural skills and knowledge. This year’s entrants are:

New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2017 – Scott Wilcox, Pukekohe
Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Jordan James, Whakatu
Central Otago Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ben Geaney, Waimate
Nelson Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ralph Bastian, Appleby
Bay of Plenty Fruit Grower 2017 – Erin Atkinson, Te Puke . . 


One week two taxes

10/08/2017

It’s just over a week since Jacinda Arden took over as leader of the Labour Party and she’s already announced two new taxes.

The first was a fuel tax :

The Labour Party might have changed its leaders but where it wants to take New Zealand hasn’t changed, National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce says.

“By resurrecting a decade-old idea of charging Aucklanders another tax it’s now clear why they had to abandon the “fresh approach” line,” Mr Joyce says.

“Regional Fuel Tax was Labour Party policy back in 2007 and it has been rejected by voters many times since then. It’s about as tired as R&D tax credits.

“Labour would make Aucklanders pay at least another 10 cents a litre every time they fill up their tank and that’s just for starters. That would have a real impact on the cost of living for hard-working Aucklanders.

“And it would probably spread around the country. Last time around, Wellington and Canterbury were lining up for regional taxes too. There is also no national price so fuel companies could easily transfer the cost to motorists around the country.” . .

The second is a water tax.

 A Labour-led government would implement royalties for bottled water, irrigation schemes and other commercial uses, leader Jacinda Ardern told the Environmental Defence Society’s annual conference in her first major policy speech on environmental policy since becoming party leader last Tuesday.

Drinking water, stockwater for farms, and ‘non-consumptive’ uses such as hydroelectricity generation would not face the charges, which would be set following a national conference of affected industries and water users within the first 100 days of the new government, Ardern said. . .

What happens when irrigation water is also used for stock?

Why is water for stock to drink seen as a more virtuous use than water to grow grass for stock to eat?

Farmers are understandably worried:

Pledges from Labour to consult on a “proportionate and fair” royalty for irrigation water have eased the concerns of farmers – but only by a tiny margin.

They remain terrified by the potential impacts on farming families, rural communities and the entire economy.

Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said consultation is welcome “but talking won’t allay the fears of farmers of where this could go”.

The Federation remained opposed to any royalty on irrigation water, especially when it remains unclear what purpose it would serve, other than adding another tax.

“At least Labour appears now to be proceeding with caution, recognising the considerable risks. They’ve promised that if they are part of a new government, deciding the levels of any royalty on commercial use of water will be preceded by consultation.”

Mr Allen said the 10 cents a litre figure some had bandied around would bankrupt farmers and cripple our export competitiveness and regional economies. Even one thousandth of that figure, if that’s a level Labour has in mind, would be “eye-watering” given the volume of consumptive water use.

“With any royalty, farmers and growers would have little choice but to pass on the extra cost, if they could, meaning New Zealand consumers would pay more for food, and our products would be at a disadvantage against imports.”

Farmers recognised some positives in the Labour policy announcements. They would applaud that riparian planting would qualify for carbon credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme, “but we hope this is not a hint of a policy announcement to come on including animal emissions in the ETS”.

And the idea of activating young people who are out of work to join water quality improvement projects is worthwhile.

“That will get young people out on the land and more familiar with the farming sector, and they’ll get to experience – and help with – the large amount of environmental enhancement work farmers are already doing.”

But the whole exercise of adding a new tax on water, even if the revenue is shared with regional councils for water quality work, “is counter-productive, and a money-go-round with administration costs added in.

“Farmers are working hard to live within the limits imposed by environmental standards and the desire by all New Zealanders – farmers included – to clean-up water quality hot-spots.

“Adding an extra cost in the form of a water tax drives a perverse incentive for farmers to intensify their activity, and deprives them of income that at worst puts them out of business and at best leaves them with less money to spend on environmental protection work.”

Labour has pledged to consult, and Federated Farmers would take that opportunity, Mr Allen said.

“If we can get round a table with them, we’ll be able to talk them through all the downsides of what they’re proposing in a rational way. This needs to be done without the distraction of a general election.”

Federated Farmers believes an important principle is that if there’s to be a charge for commercial use of water, it should be paid by all, with no room of discrimination.

“If you’re going to be stupid enough to bring this in, it’s got to be fair.”

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said Labour’s proposal to introduce a water royalty for commercial water users would be difficult and require extensive consultation around the regions.

. . .“Within a farming business, just like any business, commercial water rates already apply. Our farmers also pay for access to irrigation, and access to water on their land through council consents. Water royalties could potentially duplicate these costs.

“Labour earlier hinted that such a levy wouldn’t result in a cost increase for farming, but without a robust conversation about how their water royalty policy will work we can’t know exactly how this would affect dairy farmers.” . .

Horticulture NZ says “Let’s not do this“:

“Extra costs on growers of fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables will make healthy food more expensive,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“This seems incongruous with policies around alleviating poverty and the benefits of healthy eating to reduce the economic burden of secondary health issues as a result of obesity.

“Horticulture New Zealand supports sound, consistent water policy to support efficient use of water and we have issued our own such policy (available here).

“But we do not support a blanket tax without due consideration of New Zealand’s water priorities as a nation. These priorities must include water for drinking, sanitation and food production.

“Today’s statement does not provide sufficient detail about Labour’s intentions, which should be made clear prior to the election. We don’t feel it is enough to say that if Labour forms the next Government, there will be a conversation about water within the first 100 days.

“There is already the Land and Water Forum which has been working on the wider issues of water allocation, rights and use for some time.

“Horticulture is a rapidly growing industry, contributing significantly to the economic wellbeing of New Zealand. Our vision is healthy food for all forever. We do not want to see the cost of fruit and vegetables grown in New Zealand, supporting local economies and providing jobs, pushed up higher than the cost of imported or processed food. We do not believe the long-term outcomes from a blanket water tax would benefit New Zealanders.”

The Taxpayers’ Union says a water tax shouldn’t pick and choose:

“Picking and choosing who pays what ‘water tax’ and changing the tax rate based on its use, is economic silliness,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union

“In principle, a case can be mounted for charging users of water. However, Labour’s proposal seems more focused at the users, than the actual use.”

“If Labour is genuine in charging a ‘fair’ amount for water, why hasn’t it backed tradable permits for water? That’s a far more efficient, fair, and environmentally beneficial system than royalties payable by some users.”

“Jacinda Ardern comparison to royalties on oil and gas is a bit silly. Labour’s water royalty policy is akin to saying, they’ll charge oil drillers if the oil is used to make asphalt, but not if it’s used for plastics. Our point is that a water royalty should treat industries the same – rather than pick and choose.”

“The most disappointing thing about today’s announcement is that it’s really just another tax on business and entrepreneurship.

With the Treasury swimming in money, Labour should be explaining how it will lower the tax burden to get Kiwi businesses ahead – not saddling industry with even higher tax bills.”

Taxing water for bottling will be popular with voters even though a tiny amount of available water is involved and there’s a danger of it being regarded as an export tariff.

But why tax water for bottling unprocessed but not the water that is processed into beer, wine and other beverages? Or will the spring water at Speights be taxed too?

Taxing irrigators might be popular in some places until the consequences become apparent – higher costs for milk, meat, fruit and vegetables.

But popular isn’t necessarily good and the water tax is unfairly targeting a small number of businesses, most of which are in Canterbury and Otago.

Most of these will have fenced and planted waterways and already be doing everything else they can to protect and enhance water on or near their farms. It is unfair and unreasonable to take money from them to clean up other people’s messes elsewhere.

It is especially unfair for those of us who have to adhere environmental farm plans which are independently audited each year, where the only problem with nearby water is E.Coli from seagulls and where we pay the costs of water to provide environmental flows in the Waiareka Creek.

Some of the money would go to regional councils the rest would be absorbed into the consolidated fund, to be used for Treaty settlements, where there is no need for it.

The government is forecasting surpluses for years ahead, there is no need for any new taxes unless there are compensatory cuts elsewhere.

The water tax is Labour’s attempt to hide its economic profligacy under environmental camouflage.

Two new taxes in one week prove that the party has a new leader but nothing else has changed including its tax and spend policies.


Hysteria Greenpeace business as usual

30/06/2017

Federated Farmers says Greenpeace’s report is verging on hysteria:

Federated Farmers is disappointed Greenpeace has resorted to sensationalist rhetoric in a report published today that implies agriculture and related activities are a threat to all New Zealanders’ health.

The report which goes by the title “Sick of too many cows”, is a predictable if not misguided attack on the primary sector- the country’s largest exporter and employer of around 160,000 people.

“This is Greenpeace doing a good job of what they do best – plenty of headlines and hyperbole. Let’s be frank, those claims made about New Zealanders’ health being endangered due to livestock is extreme to say the least, says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers’ Water Spokesperson.

“What’s particularly disturbing is their accusation that irrigation and farming causes cancers and infectious diseases.”

Federated Farmers expects plenty of hyperbole and sensationalism and welcomes an open forum leading into the General Election, but this latest anti-farming rant smacks of desperation.

It leaves little room for constructive dialogue with no concrete language throughout the report.

The Federation also finds it ironic that the Havelock North water contamination outbreak is raised, yet it had nothing to do with dairy farming nor so called industrial farming or irrigation.

We note Greenpeace acknowledges most farmers are working hard to improve their environmental footprint. However, it’s unfortunate they have not researched basic facts about irrigation and proposed schemes.

“For example, those that have signed up to the Ruataniwha scheme are horticultural enterprises, arable and sheep and beef farmers.

“The fact is there are no new dairy conversions amongst the 190 farmers signed up, while only one irrigator will expand an existing dairy farm by a mere 100ha.

“What is also overlooked is that irrigation is crucial for many fruit and horticultural crops, and there is evidence that irrigation can have better environmental outcomes. The majority of dams being built are for community water and security of supply for drinking water alongside irrigation,” Chris said.

Federated Farmers otherwise is proud of all New Zealand farmers’ focus and efforts towards managing the environment.

Dairy farmers had spent over $1 billion in the past five years, which meant 97% of the waterways on New Zealand dairy farms are now excluded from dairy cattle.

Sheep and beef farmers meanwhile have been main contributors to the establishment of QEII covenants, protecting private land for conservation at a real and opportunity cost of $1.2 to 1.4 billion dollars.

“Let’s be clear, farmers are not solely responsible for what is raised in this report. We are taking ownership through seeking solutions and acting on them. Scaremongering the public with extreme claims in an election year, is short-sighted and lacks integrity,” says Chris.

This scaremongering and extreme claims aren’t just for election year.

It’s business as usual for Greenpeace, high on emotion and low on facts.

They forget, ignore or simply don’t know that farmers have a very high interest in good water quality.

Waterways which run through and near farms are the source of drinking water and the playground for farming families.

Ensuring they are clean isn’t just an academic concept or political point-scoring exercise, it’s personal and immediate.


Why’s Labour picking on farmers?

28/06/2017

Labour is still planning to pick on farmers:

Labour has vowed to charge a royalty on the use of water for farming.

At last week’s Federated Farmers annual conference, party leader Andrew Little appeared to change stance on its election policy held since 2011, which was to charge a resource rental on farmers who use water for irrigation and discharge too many nutrients.

After Little had delivered his speech to the conference, Feds environment spokesman Chris Allen praised him for saying farmers and politicians were “all in this together.”

“I’d like to congratulate you on your environmental policy where you’ve abandoned the idea of resource rentals. It’s not mentioned but I imagine you have actually abandoned it,” Allen said.

In response Little replied: “If you’re talking about the old water policy, yeah that’s not our policy. And we’re not standing on that and you shouldn’t expect to see that.”

On Sunday Labour clarified its position. Little said in a statement that cleaning up rivers so that they were clean enough to swim in was the most important freshwater issue for the election, but it was also fair that a royalty should be charged where public water was used in large quantities for private gain.

“It was reported following my speech to Federated Farmers last week that Labour has abandoned its policy of charging a royalty on farming uses of water. We haven’t.”

“At the conclusion of my speech I was asked about resource rentals which I thought was a  reference to our NZ Power policy of 2014. I replied that we were not continuing with that policy.  I confirmed we would impose a levy on bottled water.  This was in addition to our focus on water quality, which I had already spoken about.

The idea of charging a royalty on bottled water will be popular.

On the face of it, it’s like royalties on gold or oil. But minerals aren’t used by everyone the way water is and imposing a royalty for some users but not all might be problematic.

“The message of my speech was that we will work with farmers on regulatory change and that there is urgency to act on environmental quality and climate change. We remain committed to setting a resource rental for large water take for irrigation at a fair and affordable price,” Little said. . . .

Why pick on farmers?

What’s the difference between farming and other businesses which use water?

Councils use huge amounts of water which is ultimately for private benefit.

Why is using water to produce food and earn export income less of a public good than using water to process food or any other goods, drink, bathe or shower, wash cars, fill swimming pools or any of the myriad of other uses to which town and city water supplies are put?

If improving water quality is the aim, why not target storm water and other urban contaminants too?

Most farmers have put a considerable amount of effort and money into ensuring they are minimising their environmental footprints which includes cleaning up waterways degraded by poor practices in the past and ensuring they’re doing all they can to protect and enhance them.

Some still aren’t up to standard and water policy should focus on those who aren’t doing the right thing, not make the good pay because some are still bad.

 

 

 


Feds 1st female president in 118 years

23/06/2017

Federated Farmers’ new president, Katie Milne, is the first woman to hold the office.

West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne is the new Federated Farmers’ National President- becoming the first woman in the Federation’s 118-year history to hold the presidency.

Ms Milne succeeds Dr William Rolleston who steps aside after his three-year tenure.

A previous Federation Board member and West Coast Provincial President, Katie was Dairy Woman of the Year and a Rural Woman of Influence in 2015.

She contested the position with Anders Crofoot who was vice-president.

Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard was elected National Vice President while South Canterbury farmer Miles Anderson takes over as National Meat and Fibre chair with Rick Powdrell stepping aside.
Waikato farmer Chris Lewis takes over as National Dairy Industry Chair succeeding Andrew Hoggard.

North Canterbury farmer Lynda Murchison has been elected as one of two Board members at large alongside Chris Allen who was reappointed.

Arable chair Guy Wigley remains on the Board pending next week’s arable sector AGM. . .

Federated Farmers like all voluntary organisations faces challenges with membership but still plays a vital role advocating for the farming industry and rural people.

Feds and its president play a very important role, especially now farmers are such a small minority and the rural-urban gap is widening.


Rural round-up

11/05/2017

Dairy Awards highlight immigrant commitment:

The value of new immigrants to the dairy industry was on show at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland last night.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman Andrew Hoggard says while immigration builds as an election issue, it was particularly significant that runner up to the most prestigious award were 33 year-old Filipino immigrants Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos.

The couple have worked their way up through the dairy industry and are a shining example of the significant contribution and leadership our immigrants can provide. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award. . .

Remuneration survey finds modest lift in farm employee salaries:

There has been a modest rise in farm employee salaries over the last 12 months, the 2017 Federated Farmers-Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration survey shows.

The mean salary for employees on grain farms increased by 2.3 per cent since the 2016 survey, while the mean salary increased by 1.8 per cent and 0.3 percent for employees on sheep and beef and dairy farms respectively.

The survey was completed earlier this year and collected information from 914 respondents on 2834 positions.

Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said it was positive to see farming salaries creeping upwards given the tough economic conditions experienced by farmers in recent years. . .

Sheep and beef farmers make biodiversity contribution through QE11 covenants:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are making a significant contribution to this country’s biodiversity and landscape protection, a new study on Queen Elizabeth 11 National Trust covenants has highlighted.

The study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research quantifies the financial commitment made by landowners who have protected around 180,000 ha since the Trust was established in 1977.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor said the report showed that two thirds ofQEII covenants are on primary production land, with 47% of all covenants being on sheep and beef farms. Some farms have more than one covenant and many farmers open their covenants to the community, often partnering with schools and local community groups. . .

Farmers take a lead in environment protection

Farmers’ environmental credentials have been under attack from some quarters of late but new research highlights just one way those who work the land also strive to look after it.

Federated Farmers welcomes a study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research that highlights the impact and costs of land placed under covenant via the QE II National Trust.

“Farmers have been front and centre in the activities of the QEII National Trust right from the start. We congratulate them on their 40th anniversary, and for commissioning this study,” Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says. . .

New fund launched to support QEII covenantors

A new fund to help covenantors with the management of their covenants was launched today by QEII National Trust Chair, James Guild, at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement aims to support covenantors with strategically important enhancement projects they have planned for their covenants. . .

Irrigation funding for Kurow Duntroon welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $388,000 in new development grant funding for the Kurow Duntroon Irrigation Company (KDIC) from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd.

“This grant is an important step forward for this project which could have major benefits for the North Otago region,” says Mr Guy.

The funding is required to complete the remaining work to reach construction commencement and confirm the commercial viability of the proposed scheme. . . 

New national body to represent Rural Support Trusts:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the election of a national body to represent all 14 Rural Support Trusts across the country.

“Rural Support Trusts do fantastic work supporting our rural communities in tough times, and this new central body will make them more efficient and effective,” says Mr Guy.

“It will provide single point of contact for other national organisations and the Government, and help the different regions share resources and experience.

“Rural Support Trusts operate independently in their areas, staffed by local people who really know their local communities. . .

Moving Day: need to know:

It’s a familiar date in the dairying diary, Moving Day, and here’s what herd owners need to know to meet their NAIT and TBfree requirements when moving their dairy herd to a new farm.
· Update contact details and record stock movements in NAIT
· Check the TB status and testing requirements of the destination area . . 


Rural round-up

05/05/2017

Stop the open season on farmers – Chris Allen:

An open letter to anglers, hunters and farmers – it’s time for meaningful discussion:

This Saturday (6 May) thousands of farmers will open their properties up to hunters for the opening of the 2017 duck shooting season. Throughout the year farmers provide access to waterways across their properties – to enable anglers the opportunity of catching trout.

Farmers, often in partnership with their local fish and game folk, have spent significant time and money creating and restoring wetland habitats. Strong friendships have been established between hunters/anglers and landowners. In recognition of this partnership, resident landowners and their families do not need a Fish and Game licence to shoot or fish on their own properties.

In some regions the Fish and Game licence revenue has been used to make the life of landowners that much more difficult. As a result, some Fish and Game licence holders may not face the same friendly welcome by their farmer friends this year. . . 

Crown Irrigation provides funding for Kurow Duntroon Irrigation Scheme

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd. (Crown Irrigation) has agreed development grant funding of $388,000 for Kurow Duntroon Irrigation Company (KDIC), matching the company’s own financial contribution for this development phase. The funding is required to complete the remaining work to reach construction commencement and confirm the commercial viability of the proposed scheme.

The current community-based scheme was established in 1965 irrigating on the south bank of the Waitaki River below the dam, however it is now in need of major work.

KDIC is seeking to upgrade and expand the existing open canal scheme with a fully piped system capable of expanding irrigation capacity from its existing 1,986ha to potentially 6,000ha. The water supply comprises consented takes from the Waitaki dam and river together with additional supply from the existing McKenzie Irrigation Company. . . 

Response underway following myrtle rust find

A biosecurity response is underway after the detection of myrtle rust on mainland New Zealand for the first time, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry have announced today.

Myrtle rust is a fungal disease which can seriously damage various species of native and introduced plants in the myrtle family, including pohutukawa, rata, manuka, gum, bottlebrush and feijoa.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was notified on Tuesday evening by a nursery in Kerikeri that five pohutakawa seedlings had suspected myrtle rust, and laboratory testing has now confirmed this,” says Mr Guy.

“MPI has moved quickly and initiated a Restricted Place notice to restrict the movement of any plants and people at the site, and is treating nursery stock with fungicide spray as a precaution. Work is also underway to trace any stock that has left the nursery and all other nurseries in Kerikeri are being inspected today. . . 

New Zealand’s fisheries continue to be well managed:

The overwhelming majority of New Zealand’s commercial fisheries are performing well, according to MPI’s latest stock assessments.

The Status of New Zealand’s Fisheries report for 2016 released this week shows a record percentage of the tonnage and value of landings of scientifically evaluated stocks have no sustainability issues.

The report shows ninety seven percent of scientifically evaluated landings were from stocks above or well above sustainable levels, Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said.

“The figures show that New Zealand continues to be a world leader in fisheries management,” he said. . . 

Breeding blue cod brings new possibilities:

Scientists have managed to successfully breed blue cod for the first time, a milestone that will support the development of a new aquaculture industry for New Zealand.

In association with Ngāi Tahu Seafood Ltd, the Seafood Technologies team at Plant & Food Research in Nelson are investigating how to breed different species of native fish in captivity, building knowledge of the conditions required for the fish to successfully reproduce.

For the first time, they have managed to breed and grow blue cod to fingerlings. New Zealand can now consider potential opportunities for this desirable table fish, such as intensive aquaculture grow out or supplementing local populations under pressure from fishing. . .

Ara primary industries restructure:

Ara Institute of Canterbury’s proposal to restructure Primary Industries programmes is designed to adjust provision to align with industry demands, Chief Executive Kay Giles said.

“We are disappointed that the Tertiary Education Union has chosen to portray this review as a ‘betrayal of Timaru’, which clearly does not accurately reflect the facts of the review consultation document.”

“It is our responsibility to the Timaru community and the Primary Industries sector to adjust the portfolio to offer the right programmes for the needs of employers. There has been very little demand for the particular programmes that are under review so we need to put our energy where there will be much more value for the primary sector.” . . 

Showcase Comes to Southland:

Southland is hosting the National Sustainability Showcase of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for the first time at the end of this month.

Up to 400 people will be attending a gala dinner at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on Wednesday May 31. Tickets are on sale on http://www.bfea.org.nz.

Eleven award ceremonies have already been held around the country and each regional supreme winner has been invited to the Showcase to be considered for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy – named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. . . 

When I say goodbye to Farm Credit – Uptown Farms

“I hope we can keep you all here.”

We had just wrapped up a team presentation to our Board of Directors. The comment came across as a compliment, so I smiled and politely responded that I love my work here.

On the drive home, and numerous times since that day, I found myself thinking about his comment.

I’ve never worked anywhere else. Or at least a real “grown-up job” anywhere else.  Since I sat down at my first Farm Credit desk as a 21 year old intern, I’ve never left. The offers have been there. But I could list on a single hand the hours I’ve actually contemplated leaving. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/08/2016

Kiwi world leader in precision farming – Nigel Malthus:

Mid-Canterbury farmer and businessman Craige Mackenzie was recently named the international Precision Farmer of the Year for 2016.

He is travelling to St Louis, Missouri, in early August to receive the award from the US-based PrecisionAg Institute. Nigel Malthus caught up with him before he left.

The award recognises “outstanding people, programmes and organisations making a difference in the precision ag industry”. It is a high honour for a man who was first invited to present a paper at an international conference in 2008 – but who did not then consider himself a precision farmer. . . 

$34-$35 Million FY16 reported earnings forecast for Synlait:

Synlait Milk’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $34 – $35 million.

Underlying NPAT for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $32 – $33 million.

Earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 July 2016 (FY16) has been provided to clarify market expectations around FY16 performance.

“Our IPO growth projects added the capability and capacity to execute our strategy of making more from milk,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman. . . 

Collaborative group to improve nature protection:

A new collaborative group involving environmental and landowner organisations has come together to improve national policy on protecting nature on private land, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today at the Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Wild Places’ conference in Auckland.

“New Zealand is globally recognised as a hotspot environmentally for the loss of unique species. One of the most challenging issues for councils and communities is improving the protection of our native species on private land while respecting the reasonable rights of owners to use their land for farming, forestry and other economic activities. This initiative is about bringing environmental groups and landowners together to develop clearer national policy on protecting the plants and animals that make New Zealand special.” . . 

Feds welcome biodiversity forum:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new national biodiversity forum announced by Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for biodiversity Chris Allen says we now have the opportunity to come to a common understanding of the pressures and priorities for biodiversity, on land and in water.

“From here we chart a way forward. Part of this will be agreeing on a national policy statement. . . 

Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds:

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy. . . 

Entries open for the 2016 Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award:

Rural Women New Zealand is offering the Journalism Award in a partnership with the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

The Award recognises the important contribution women make in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

The Award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities. The award recipient will demonstrate excellent understanding of issues and effectively communicate women’s responses to farming, family and business challenges, in a way which inspires and informs the audience. . . 

Changes to kiwifruit regulations:

The Government is updating kiwifruit regulations to ensure the industry is best structured for future growth, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“New amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments. 

“This will give Zespri more options for managing its shareholding available to any other company operating under the Companies Act, and will ensure that the interests of all shareholders are recognised in any decision affecting them. . . 

Zespri welcomes changes to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

Zespri welcomes the Government’s announcement that Cabinet has approved amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains these regulatory changes represent the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

“The Kiwifruit Regulations have served the industry very well and extensive industry consultation showed more than 97 percent of growers support the industry structure, with minor changes identified to position the industry for the strong growth ahead. . . 

NZKGI welcomes amendments to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Government to approve amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

These changes will ensure a regulatory structure that supports the sustainable, long-term growth of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry into the future.

The announcement today reflects considerable effort and investment by growers into ensuring the industry has the foundations to sustain its future in good and adverse times. . . 

Pahiatua Farmers Enjoy Participating In Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Tim and Nicola Hewitt are proud of the environmental work on their family’s 724ha (640ha effective) property south of Pahiatua. While they were initially reluctant to enter the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they are glad they finally gave it a go.

“We didn’t want to be seen as blowing our own trumpet,” says Tim.

“But ultimately I think farmers have a responsibility to our industry to show that we are trying to do a good job when it comes to the environment.” . . 

New agri-food research centre in Palmerston North:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced that AgResearch and Massey University will jointly build New Zealand’s largest agri-food research centre in the Food HQ Precinct on the Massey University campus in Palmerston North.

As part of AgResearch’s Future Footprint Programme, AgResearch and Massey University are investing $39 million in the Food Science Research Centre and the design for the new buildings is well underway.

“The research conducted at the Centre will span the agriculture sector from farm to consumer, with a focus on dairy and red meat research,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

Association backs ‘thorough’ maunka honey verification – Alexa Cook:

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

“Everyone who puts the word ‘manuka’ on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

“There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say ‘this is manuka’.” . . 

Rodent eradication lies in directed vitamin dose:

Rats die of a heart attack within 48 hours of being sprayed with a new chemical formulation invented by a New Zealand – United Kingdom joint venture.

The formula includes Cholecalciferol, better known as vitamin D3 and used as a health supplement in humans.

But Peter Signal, a director of New Zealand company Advanced Animal Technologies (AAT), says it’s the combination of the chemical formula with a specially designed delivery system, called PiedPiper, that has been shown to deliver outstanding results in trials in the UK, Europe and Kenya. . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/07/2016

Sheep milk company markets to Taiwan:

A New Zealand company has launched two sheep milk powder products in Taiwan which are the first of their kind on the market.

Spring Sheep Milk is a partnership between Landcorp and investment company SLC Group, and milks 3000 ewes on a block of Wairakei Estate on the Central Plateau.

The company specialises in nutritional powders for adults in Asia and gelato for the New Zealand market. . .

Feds disappointed with Local Governmemt’s 8-point programme:

Federated Farmers congratulates Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) for producing a paper that seeks to provide a document for the future but is disappointed that it misses the mark.

Local Government New Zealand released its 8 point programme for a “future-focused resource management system” at their annual conference earlier today.

“We agree that our resource management system needs to be able to address challenges into the future,” says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers spokesperson on resource management.

Fur Industry Looks to Be Part of Government’s Predator-Free Solution:

New Zealand’s $130 million possum fur industry is seeking constructive ways to work with the Government in the wake of its announcement to eradicate rats, stoats and possums by 2050.

Fur Industry Council chair, Neil Mackie says: ” Predator Free New Zealand is a commendable and aspirational goal and we want to be part of the solution to achieve it.’

“We have been working closely with the Department of Conservation after the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment recognised the possum fur industry as having a valuable place in possum control. . .

Have your say on kiwifruit, pipfruit and potato insecticide:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is seeking your views on an application to import an insecticide, called Celsius, to control pests found in kiwifruit, pipfruit and potato crops.

The applicant, Adria New Zealand Limited, is looking to import Celsius, which contains the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, for use as a selective insecticide, targeting specific insects that are known to attack these crops. . .

Factory Farmer? No I’m a family farmer – Lawson Mozley:

You see, every tme I spend a 10+ hour day farming this land I’m weighed down, but more so lifted up, by five generations of my family before me, and the countless generations that I hope will follow.

GM technology, efficiency overshadowed by fear

Apparently all of this history, meaning, and hope is overshadowed by the fact that my father and I use genetically engineered crops to decrease and even eliminate the needs for environmentally impactful pesticides. It’s nullified by our judicious use of herbicides and other pesticides when necessary to produce a safe, wholesome, high quality food product at a reasonable price. It’s undone by my use of vaccines to prevent diseases in my cattle and antibiotics when injuries or acute illnesses do occur . . .

Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Mark Langlands from Te Kairanga who became the Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 on Thursday 28 July.

Langlands also won the competition last year showing he is a consistently strong, bright young viticulturist. However, he was unable to compete in the National Final in 2015 as he was overseas working a vintage in California. He is therefore thrilled that he can go forward and represent the Wairarapa this year and is determined to bring the trophy back to the region . . .


Rural round-up

26/07/2016

Kiwifruit exports reach record levels:

In June 2016, kiwifruit exports rose $105 million (47 percent) from June 2015 to reach $331 million, Statistics New Zealand said today. Overall, goods exports rose $109 million (2.6 percent) in June 2016 (to $4.3 billion).

The June 2016 rise was across all our top kiwifruit export destinations, but particularly Japan (up $55 million) and China (up $39 million). The quantities of kiwifruit exported also rose (up 32 percent), with gold kiwifruit up 49 percent, and green kiwifruit up 21 percent. . . .

New researchers should focus on primary industry:

Federated Farmers wants a plan to attract the world’s top scientists to New Zealand to concentrate on those who will work on primary sector initiatives and the environment.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says it makes sense for the government’s $35 million ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’ programme to build knowledge in areas which are key to New Zealand’s economic and environmental needs.

The four year programme, announced by Minister Steven Joyce on Wednesday, aims to encourage the world’s leading researchers to bring their teams to work in New Zealand.

“This programme will help New Zealand keep up with the scientific developments already going on around the globe. . . 

Feds congratulates government on ambitious pest eradication project:

Federated Farmers fully backs the target to completely eradicate introduced predators from New Zealand by 2050 announced by the government today and agrees with the government that emerging technologies is now making such an ambitious target possible.

This project is going to require a team effort from scientists, farmers, government, politicians and rural communities.

“Our farmers live and work in our natural environment every day and in that sense are stewards of a significant part of New Zealand’s land, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen.

“Farmers already spend a substantial amount of money on pest management. They also pay levies to OSPRI, to control vectors of tuberculosis, such as stoats and possums. . . 

Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts –  Wilhelmina Shrimpton:

Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold – and for very good reason.

“If you’re getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram,” Apiculture New Zealand’s Daniel Paul said. . . 

Profit warning makes Silver Fern Farms’ deal more critical – Allan Barber:

Last week’s profit warning from SFF chairman Rob Hewitt confirmed what industry observers suspected – this season has been affected by a combination of factors which has made achievement of the budgeted profit more remote than ever. At the half year Hewett had already warned the year end result would be materially different from budget without specifying numbers. The latest warning indicates break even at best.

The current season has suffered from reduced livestock volumes, regular rain and grass growth in most parts of the country which even out supply patterns, and an obstinately strong NZ dollar. Processors have been squeezed at both ends, paying too much for livestock and not earning enough from the market. . .

Nervous times at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

Silver Fern Farms announced last week to its farmer suppliers that it now expects no more than a breakeven return for the year ending 30 September 2016.  This should focus the minds of its farmer shareholders, who vote on 12 August as to whether or not Silver Fern Farms should proceed with the partial takeover by Shanghai Maling. 

The disappointing projected financial outcome – which could yet get worse – reinforces the notion that Silver Fern Farms lacks the necessary financial resilience to go it alone. There is increasing risk that without completion of the Shanghai Maling buy-in, that Silver Fern Farms will lose the support of its bankers and be placed in receivership. That is not an attractive option, for what has in recent years been New Zealand’s largest meat processor. . . 

UK milk production drops 10% in a year – Alexa Cook:

Many British dairy farmers are getting out of the industry due to plummeting milk prices and production, says a UK dairy analyst.

Farmers are being paid from 10 to 30 pence a litre at a time when most farms need 25 to 30 pence a litre to meet the cost of production.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – the British equivalent of DairyNZ – has reported more than 1000 farms have closed since June 2013, leaving about 9500 in operation.

The board’s senior dairy analyst Luke Crossman said milk production had fallen off sharply. . . 

Pea growers work with MPI to rid Wairarapa of weevil pest:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and local pea growers, are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.

The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.

The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it. . . 

NZDF-Led Projects Boost Drought Resilience of Tongan Communities:

Community projects undertaken by a multi-national task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are expected to reduce the vulnerability of remote communities to the impact of drought, Tongan officlals say.

The projects, designed to improve water storage in two main islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group, were undertaken as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 and have been formally handed over today to the Tongan Government.

“Tropic Twilight conducted a vast range of activities that will directly improve the resilience of communities in Ha’apai in addressing some water security issues and safety equipment shortages. It was also an opportune time to collaborate with partners to address health issues,” said Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. . . 

Punakaiki Fund Invests in Agtract:

Taranaki rural job management software Agtract has closed a funding round with high-growth investorPunakaiki Fund.

The Agtract software drastically reduces the time it takes for rural contractors to do management tasks and create invoices, saving them up to a week’s work each month.

“Agtract does the administrative grunt work so rural contractors can do what they do best: helping farmers,” says CEO Chris West, who co-founded Agtract with his brother James after feeling the pain first hand of having to do admin work for a rural contractor.

“I was an employee of a contractor in Taranaki and had to fill in job sheet after job sheet. So much of what I did was repetitive, and even more of what the contractor did could’ve been automated. I created an early software solution, saw that it saved time and money, and realised I was onto a winner. Agtract is the result.” . . .


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