Food security must come first

11/07/2022

Ralph Schoellhammer writes about how a popular uprising against the elites is going global:

A popular uprising of working-class people against the elites and their values is underway—and it’s crossing the globe. There is a growing resistance by the middle and lower classes against what Rob Henderson has coined the “luxury beliefs” of the elites, as everyday folks realize the harm it causes them and their communities. . . .

Over 30,000 Dutch farmers have risen in protest against the government in the wake of new nitrogen limits that require farmers to radically curb their nitrogen emissions by up to 70 percent in the next eight years. It would require farmers to use less fertilizer and even to reduce the number of their livestock. While large farming companies have the means to hypothetically meet these goals and can switch to non-nitrogen-based fertilizers, it is impossible for smaller, often family-owned farms. The new environmental regulations are so extreme that they would force many to shutter, including people whose families have been farming for three or four generations. In protest, farmers have been blockading streets and refusing to deliver their products to supermarket chains. It’s been leading to serious shortages of eggs and milk, among other food items. 

But the effects will be global. The Netherlands is the world’s second largest agricultural exporter after the United States, making the country of barely 17 million inhabitants a food superpower. Given global food shortages and rising prices, the role of Dutch farmers in the global food chain has never been more important. But if you thought the Dutch government was going to take that into account and ensure that people can put food on the table, you would be wrong; when offered the choice between food security and acting against “climate change,” the Dutch government decided to pursue the latter. . . .

The  New Zealand government is making the same bad choice in contravention of the Paris Accord’s clause stating climate change mitigation should not be at the expense of food production.

With the reignited demonstrations this year, the authorities have also switched to a more aggressive approach. There have been arrests and even warning shots fired by police at farmers, one almost killing a 16-year-old protestor.

Yet the sympathies of the Dutch are not with their government; they are solidly with their farmers. Current polls indicate that the Farmers Political Party, formed just three years ago in response to the new regulations, would gain a whopping 11 seats in Parliament if elections were held today (it currently holds just one seat). Moreover, the Dutch Fishermen’s Union has publicly joined the protests, blocking harbors with fishing crews holding signs that read “Eendracht maakt Kracht”: Unity Creates Strength.

But while the Dutch people are on the side of the farmers, their elites are behaving much as they did in Canada and the U.S., and not just those in government. Media outlets are refusing to even report the protests, and when they do, they cast the farmers as extremists.

Why the disconnect? Every reliable poll of European newsrooms from Germany to the Netherlands show that climate change is a much more important topic for journalists than it is for ordinary people. It’s not that average citizens don’t care about climate change, but that they have the common sense to know that destroying their farm so the government’s emission goals can be met in 2030 instead of 2035 will not change the planet’s climate. . . 

Too often anyone who questions climate change policies is portrayed as a climate change denier.

It is possible to be concerned about the climate, accept it’s changing and that what people do impacts on that, but disagree about policies to counter it that are based far more on politics and emotion than science; and which put saving the planet ahead of feeding the world.

After all, the Netherlands accounts for just 0.46 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, and while a further reduction might be desirable, it will not be decisive in combating climate change over the next eight years. It may make the country’s elite to feel good about themselves, but it will also result in large parts of the population seeing their living standards decline and their economic existence targeted by the state for ideological reasons.

Anything the New Zealand government does will be even less effective and come at a higher economic and social cost for no environmental gain.

If anything there will be global environmental losses, reducing food production here will provide opportunities for farmers in other countries with less environmentally sustainable practices to increase theirs.

There is a malaise in the West currently, where ideological goals are pursued at the expense of the lower middle and working classes. Whether it’s truckers in Canada, farmers in the Netherlands, oil and gas companies in the United States, ideology, not science or hard evidence, is dominating the agenda, gratifying the elites while immiserating the working class.

Ultimately, there is a risk that climate policies will do to Europe what Marxism did to Latin America. A continent with all the conditions for widespread prosperity and a healthy environment will impoverish and ruin itself for ideological reasons.

In the end, both the people and the climate will be worse off.

It’s easy to advocate for and support higher costs and lower production when you’re in a position to pay more for your food.

But most people aren’t in that position.

Steep increases in the cost of living are a global phenomenon with multiple causes, among which are supposedly planet-saving policies that won’t do that and will leave the world colder, hungrier and poorer.

We’re already seeing how politically unsustainable that is with the government cutting the fuel tax here and Austria, Germany and the Netherlands planning to resurrect old coal burners to keep their counties’ power supplies running.

Even if the tax more and produce less policies worked to reduce emissions, which they too often don’t, they come at far too high economic and social costs.

They are a recipe for increased poverty and food insecurity with the political instability they foster.

If climate change really is the problem, the solutions must be driven by science and technology so that we can save the planet without endangering the world.

 


Rural round-up

21/06/2022

Climate change farming and a timely reminder for decision makers the Paris conventions nod to the need for food – Point of Order:

An earlier post  on Point  of  Order about farming and climate change attracted  some interesting  comments.  The  post  itself  contended  that in view of the world  facing  a  global food  shortage the government  should be  doing everything in its power  to lift  food production — and  not  imposing  taxes  on methane  emissions (in  other words  taxing the   burps on animals}.

In the  wake  of  posting our thoughts, Point of  Order  was reminded  that the  Paris  Convention on Climate  Change  in  2015 finished  with an agreement   where Article 2  read with these  key  lines:

Article 2
1. This Agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention,
including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of
climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by :

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

Massive unjust counter-productive land grab by government :

The latest iteration of the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) is a massive land grab on a scale not seen in New Zealand for 140 years, Groundswell NZ spokesman Jamie McFadden says.

“This policy, as drafted, turns biodiversity into a liability and penalizes those that have done the most in looking after the environment.”

“Under this policy, the more you do to look after nature on your land, the worse off you will be. It is punitive regulation that does nothing positive for the environment.”

“Tens of thousands of both urban and rural property owners will be impacted and millions of dollars will be collectively wiped off property values.” . .

Ag holding strong despite major challenges :

New Zealand is a trading nation. We are respected by the world and the best at what we do.

Despite a pandemic, disruption to global supply chains, rapidly rising inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a lack of RSE workers, our food and fibre exports have outperformed expectations. In fact, by June 30, they will have brought in $52.2 billion in revenue.

I recently returned from a Parliamentary trip to Europe. Zoom is a wonderful invention, but nothing can beat sitting at a table face-to-face with farming representatives to discover areas of collaboration and where we differ.

With the Russian/Ukrainian situation, food and energy security were to the fore, given Ukraine is Europe’s second-largest supplier of corn and wheat to the European Union, as well as countries in Asia and Africa. Growers and their lands will take a long time to recover from the devastating assault they are being subjected to. . . 

Time to build on our competitive advantage, KPMG says – Hugh Stringleman:

The primary sector is doing a remarkable job of trading, growing and keeping delivering record returns to the New Zealand economy when such returns are so desperately needed.

But this year’s KPMG Agribusiness Agenda reports a sector that is muddled, opportunity-packed and risk-burdened, global head of agribusiness and author Ian Proudfoot says.

When interviewing agribusiness leaders this year the first comment was “now, where do we start?”

No single theme or trend stood out in the interviews, unlike past years. . . 

Farming sector touts emissions reducing technology amid He Waka Eke Noa criticism – Hamish Cardwell:

The agricultural sector says big strides have been made in research to reduce climate emissions, but considerable uncertainty remains about when the technology will actually be available for farmers.

The primary sector’s proposal He Waka Eke Noa to price its emissions was  criticised by climate activists for relying far too much on unproven technology to make cuts.

Meanwhile, farmer group Groundswell – which also hates the proposal – says after decades and millions of dollars spent there is still no mitigation technology on the market.

Industry leaders have told RNZ about what tech looked promising, what the challenges were and how long farmers would have to wait. . .

Predator Free 2050 Ltd announces $4.8m for new tech and new jobs :

Thanks to funding from the Government’s Jobs for Nature Mahi mō te Taiao programme, Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) has today announced $4.8 million in funding for seven companies developing predator eradication tools and ‘best practice’ for their use, while creating and supporting jobs.

The funding is being invested through the ‘ Products to Projects’ initiative, launched in 2019 to accelerate development and commercialisation of new tools that will help groups working to achieve mainland eradication of possums, rats and mustelids at landscape scale without the use of fences.

Now, three years on, a number of new tools are already available to buy and are successfully in use, with many more only months away. PF2050 Ltd Science Director Professor Dan Tompkins said it’s crucial to be continually innovating to get New Zealand to the 2050 national eradication goals at pace.

“Products to Projects is providing options for more efficient and cost-effective ways of achieving and maintaining predator eradication. These new investments include smart self-resetting kill-traps that use A.I. to prevent non-target species from being harmed, remote reporting of both live-captures in cage-traps and bait levels in bait-stations, new ways of targeting rats and stoats, and systems to use ‘SWARM’ satellites for device communications in remote regions,” Prof Tompkins said. . . 


Rural round-up

03/05/2022

O’Connor now will support law changes needed for Fonterra’s capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Agriculture  Minister  Damien  O’Connor has  overcome  his objections to  the  capital restructuring of  dairy giant Fonterra  and  says  the  government  will  now  amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The dairy giant wants to make it easier to join the company, while maintaining farmer ownership amid falling milk supply.

O’Connor  recognises  Fonterra as a key part of New Zealand’s world-leading dairy industry and a major export earner for the economy, sending product to over 130 countries.

Around 95% of all dairy milk produced in New Zealand is exported, with export revenues of  $19.1bn a year. It accounts for 35% of NZ’s total merchandise exports and around 3.1%  of GDP. The industry employs around 49,000 people. . . 

Is this the technology to win Kiwis over to genetic engineering? – Nikki Macdonald:

You’ve heard of fermenting yeast to make beer, but what about brewing GM microbes to make bioplastic? Using designer microbes to make stuff in fermentation vats has been described as the next manufacturing revolution, with potential to produce everything from cow-free cheese to sustainable fossil fuel replacements. But is GE-free New Zealand ready for it?

Veronica Stevenson bet her house deposit on a bee.

Before using GM microbes to make stuff was all the talk (Impossible Burger, mRNA vaccines), Stevenson set out to find the genetic recipe for the plastic-like film that lines the nest of a solitary Aussie bee.

All she had to do was work out which bit of the bee’s DNA linked to the nest material and put that code into a micro-organism, which then makes it in a fermentation vat, or bioreactor. . . 

Country Calendar couple put hopes in hemp – Kerry Harvey:

Southland farmers Blair and Jody Drysdale don’t let fear hold them back when it comes to finding ways to make their family farm work.

“You can’t be scared of failing. Give it a go and, as long as you learn by your failures, get up and carry on again,” Blair says.

The couple are the third generation of the family to farm the 320-hectare mixed cropping and livestock farm. Jody and Blair and their three children – Carly, 13, Fletcher, 11, and Leah, nine – took over from Blair’s parents in 2008. . . 

Waikato diary farmers struggling with historic dry conditions

Waikato dairy farmers are struggling with the region’s dry conditions, with no decent rainfall expected to fall anytime soon.

NIWA’s latest hot spot watch shows things have got really dry in the region within the last couple of weeks.

The driest soils across the North Island, compared to normal for this time of the year, are in Northern Waikato – and it doesn’t look like the situation will improve anytime soon, with no decent rain forecast.

Bart Van De ven is a sharemilker in Springdale, near Morrinsville. . . 

Where did we get the idea veganism can solve climate change? – Anthony Signorelli:

Cattle have been denigrated as a major cause of greenhouse gases (GHG) and, therefore, a cause of climate change. When I first heard this as a former farmer, I thought: That’s preposterous! Do cows have more impact than fossil fuels? No way.

Big claims

So, I looked it up. Sure enough, a 2009 report from the WorldWatch Institute claims livestock accounts for 51% of GHG — more than industry, coal-burning electricity generation, and transportation combined. Whatever those guys smoke at WorldWatch, I’d like some for Friday night! That report is no longer available on the WorldWatch site. (Links go to a dead page. A reader sent me this one.) It’s not hard to figure out why.

The original story emphasizing the GHG contribution of livestock came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO published a study authored by Henning Steinfeld in 2006, which claimed that livestock produced 18% of global GHG and concluded that livestock was producing more GHG than the entire transportation sector. Although it is a mystery how WorldWatch inflated that to 51% three years later, the claim in the FAO study was eye-catching. Apparently, many eyes caught it, and then they read WorldWatch, too.

But there was a slight problem. . . 

Ravensdown secures co-funding to eliminate coal from aglime process :

Ravensdown announces today that it has achieved government co-funding to accompany the co-operative’s investment to install a biomass combustor at its Dipton lime quarry. Locally supplied wood fuel will replace coal in the lime-drying process – an important part of preparing the naturally occurring soil conditioner for use by Southland farmers and growers.

The co-operative’s commitment is being matched by funding through the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund. The funding agreement with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) commits Ravensdown to savings of at least 1,107 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum, reducing Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint by almost 10%.

According to EECA, process heat accounts for over a quarter of New Zealand’s energy-related emissions, presenting a huge opportunity for businesses to take a lead in climate change mitigation. The GIDI Fund is part of the government’s Covid Response and Recovery Fund, established to drive economic stimulus and job creation through decarbonisation projects. . . 


West dropped big stick

06/04/2022

Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy was to talk softly and carry a big stick.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan may or may not have talked softly but they carried big sticks – the means and the will to out-muscle the Soviet Union.

That’s what ended the Cold War.

In recent years the Western powers have not only dropped their big stick, they’ve played into Russia’s hands by focusing on the wrong threat.

Jacinda Ardern declared addressing climate change her generation’s nuclear moment but as Bjorn Lomborg explains it’s not climate change but nuclear war we should fear:

Weeks before thermobaric rockets rained down on Ukraine, the chattering classes at the World Economic Forum declared “climate action failure” the biggest global risk for the coming decade. On the eve of war, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry fretted about the “massive emissions consequences” of Russian invasion and worried that the world might forget about the risks of climate change if fighting broke out. Amid the conflict and the many other challenges facing the globe right now, like inflation and food price hikes, the global elite has an unhealthy obsession with climate change.

Yesterday we got another forecast of doom:

After a contentious approval session where scientists and government officials went through the report line by line, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has now published its guidance on what the world can do to avoid an extremely dangerous future.

First, the bad news – even if all the policies to cut carbon that governments had put in place by the end of 2020 were fully implemented, the world will still warm by 3.2C this century. . . 

Back to Lomborg:

This fixation has had three important consequences. First, it has distracted the Western world from real geopolitical threats. Russia’s invasion should be a wake-up call that war is still a serious danger that requires democratic nations’ attention. But a month into the war in Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres—whose organization’s main purpose is ensuring world peace—was focused instead on “climate catastrophe,” warning that fossil-fuel addiction will bring “mutually assured destruction.” His comments come at a time when nuclear weapons are posing the biggest risk of literal mutually assured destruction in half a century.

Second, the narrow focus on immediate climate objectives undermines future prosperity. The world currently shells out more than half a trillion dollars annually in private and public funds on climate policies, while spending from the governments of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on innovation that underpins growth in areas such as healthcare, space, defense, agriculture and science has been declining as a percentage of gross domestic product over recent decades.

Education performance in developed nations is stagnant or declining, and real income growth among OECD countries has almost stalled this century. By contrast, in China, where innovation-related spending is up 50% from where it was in 2000 and education is rapidly improving, average incomes have increased fivefold since the start of the 21st century.

Third, in the world’s poorest countries, the international community’s focus on putting up solar panels coexists with a woeful underinvestment in solutions to massive existing problems. Infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria kill millions; malnutrition afflicts almost a billion people; more than three billion lack access to reliable energy.

These and other issues plaguing the developing world are solvable, but get far less funding from wealthy countries than climate change. Giving the developing world affordable access to consistently available energy—which often requires fossil fuels—is the key to lifting most of the world out of poverty. Yet before the invasion of Ukraine, the developed world was racing to make fossil fuel energy more expensive and less accessible for the world’s poorest.

It’s making fossil fuel energy too expensive in developed countries too.

What underpins this climate fixation? The false and irresponsible idea that global warming poses an immediate existential risk for the world. Climate change is real and man-made; have no doubt about that. But the best economic estimates used by the Obama and Biden administrations, as well as those created by the only climate economist to ever win the Nobel Prize in economics, all show that the total impact of unmitigated climate change—not just on the economy but overall—would be equivalent to less than a 4% hit to global GDP annually by the end of the century.

The U.N. estimates that the average person in 2100 will be 450% as rich as today. If climate change continues unabated, the average person will be “only” 434% as rich—a far from catastrophic outcome.

A world scared witless doesn’t make smart decisions—so it should be no surprise it hasn’t managed to make a dent in climate change. Globally, last year saw the most CO2 emissions ever, despite $5 trillion spent over the past decade on climate policies. The U.N. admitted in 2019 that there has been “no real change in the global emissions pathway in the last decade” despite the global Paris agreement.

One reason for that is that the tax more and do less policies that climate alarmists promote are politically unpalatable.

The European Union has tried to shift to renewables but still gets more than 70% of its energy from fossil fuels. Much of the rest is generated by burning wood chips from trees chopped down in America and transported on diesel ships. Solar and wind produce only 3% of the European Union’s energy, and the technology is unreliable, often requiring backup from gas when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Europe’s refusal to embrace shale gas—which can be found throughout the Continent but remains untapped—has left it at the mercy of Russian gas. The past two months show how dangerous this is.

Well-meaning politicians across the world have been proposing policies to reach net-zero emissions in coming decades. According to McKinsey, the policies will cost $9.2 trillion every year until net zero is supposed to be achieved in 2050. This is equivalent to half the global tax take. Such extremely costly policies are unlikely to be enacted by emerging economies such as India or Africa, whose emissions will skyrocket as their populations and economies grow. Net zero is also likely to fail in the developed world, where its high costs will erode prosperity and thus political support. Achieving net zero would cost every American family $19,300 a year, according to the McKinsey study.

To respond to climate change effectively, the world needs to spend more on green-energy innovation and develop renewables that are reliable and cost-effective. To address their immediate energy problems, Europe and America need to embrace fracking—despite Russian-funded propaganda discrediting it—and help the rest of the world access the oil and gas it needs. There are many serious threats in the world today, but most won’t get the attention they deserve until the political classes drop their hyperbole about climate change and treat it like what it actually is—only one of the many problems to be solved in the 21st century.

And like every other problem the solutions will come from research not crying the sky is falling when it isn’t nor with the political and bureaucratic policies, unsupported by science, that are being promoted to solve the problem, and are failing to do so.


Bright ideas needed

28/03/2022

Reducing the excise tax on fuel shows what happens when politics meets climate change policy – politics wins.

That’s a very good illustration of what’s wrong with so much of the response to climate change – it’s focused far too much on taxing more and trying to force us to do or have less.

That’s not attractive to the wealthy,  it is unaffordable for the poor.

The economic and social costs of too much climate change policy are too high with little, if any environmental benefit.

There is a better way – bright ideas based on the research and science. That’s what’s solved so many other problems.

 

 

You can watch the clip on YouTube here.


Rural round-up

05/03/2022

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

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

In the Preamble:

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

In Article 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ETS must back native forests not pine monoculture :

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

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

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

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

New Zealand is world leading in agri-chemical management:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

02/03/2022

You won’t save the planet by killing NZ farmers – Andrew Hoggard:

Price penalties won’t drive down livestock emissions without affordable and practical new technologies being available to farmers – unless the aim is to kill off the sector.

Federated Farmers is baffled by comments by Climate Change Minister James Shaw that, “Pricing isn’t the only tool in the toolbox, but it remains the best way to reduce emissions directly – and that’s name of the game.”

This an overlysimplistic and domestic focused solution to a complex global problem. The global atmosphere does not benefit from New Zealand shrinking food production, even if our politicians can crow about local emissions reductions. Our farms’ emissions footprint is world-leading; forgone production here would just shift offshore to less efficient farmers.

An overly-high price signal for our livestock emissions would also have severe implications for the agricultural sector, regional economies, and the wider New Zealand economy.  . . 

Questioning is not an attack – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Scientists have been accused of mounting a sustained attack on regenerative agriculture and splitting the science community. Not all, but some.

The words are disappointing and misleading.

What some agricultural scientists have done is continue to ask questions of regenerative proponents. The ongoing questioning is because no answers have appeared – the proponents want money to do the research to answer the questions.

The point that agricultural scientists have been making is that a lot of the ‘needed’ research has been done and results are availableSome has been funded recently by various combinations of Ministry of Primary Industries (the farmer-science funding now termed Sustainable Food and Fibre Fund), Ministry for Business and Employment and levy bodies and has not shown positive results. . . 

Rural fitness campaign launched in NZ and Australia – Sally Rae:

She has curled her biceps on the shores of Lake Pukaki and lifted weights in the shadow of Aoraki-Mt Cook — now Kate Ivey is getting back to her rural roots.

Mrs Ivey is the founder of Kate Ivey Fitness, a business which began in her home in the remote Mackenzie Country in 2016 and has grown to 1600 members.

Established with the aim of helping women lead positive, healthy, fitness-filled lives, it started with a simple e-book which was then followed by the launch of DediKate, an online health and fitness community for women.

Initially, membership was predominantly rural but that demographic had since changed and Mrs Ivey was focusing on rural again, launching DediKate Rural today in both New Zealand and Australia, to officially start on March 21. . . 

Traceability key to alliance between butcher shop and farm – Sally Rae:

It is an alliance with its origins formed on the coastal pastures of the scenic Catlins.

Princes St Butcher and Kitchen owner David Gibson was looking for a supply of lamb with full traceability back to the people who owned the farm that grew the product.

Carey and Tracey Hancox, whose diversification on their busy farming operation near Owaka includes an on-farm butchery, were keen for a retail presence as most of their sales were online.

On Thursday, Mr Gibson took his first delivery of lamb from Mr and Mrs Hancox, some of which was available at the Otago Farmers Market on Saturday. . . 

Fruit and vegetable and wine grape growers welcome increase in workers coming from the Pacific:

New Zealand’s fruit, vegetable and winegrape growers have welcomed the news that the Government has increased the cap on workers from the Pacific under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to 16,000 workers.

‘The increase in the RSE worker cap will give growers some hope for the future,’ says HortNZ chief executive, Nadine Tunley.

‘While the increase won’t benefit the apple, kiwifruit and winegrape harvests that are currently underway, it is good news for the horticulture industry, long term.

‘Growers are under incredible stress at the moment due to the severe shortage of labour that Covid has created. Some growers are saying they only have 50 percent of the workers they need but are continuing to do everything they can, to get the fruit picked, packed and to market. . . 

Key to best beef is green and under your feet -Bob Freebairn:

Lee and Suzanne Young, “Dalyup” Coonabarabran, recently won a Meat Standards Australia award for Excellence in Eating quality.

These awards are issued to beef producers who consistently deliver carcases with superior eating quality. While genetics and animal management are important for quality meat production, Lee Young stresses that high quality pastures are especially important.

“Dalyup”, with the original part of their property owned by the family for almost 50 years, is a 740ha property that includes good quality loamy river flats soil, plus medium to lighter acidic textured hill country. Quality pastures include lucerne on the flats, Premier digit and Consol lovegrass, together with serradella and sub clover on the arable hill country, and upgraded native pasture on the non-arable areas.

Lee and Suzanne Young were early pioneer growers of the legumes serradella and biserrula that comprise the winter component of their introduced and native grass pastures. These are especially valued for their acid soil tolerance, good productivity their bloat tolerance and for building soil nitrogen. Because of soil variability serradella and biserrula are grown in combination with sub clover with each species more dominant in specific areas of a paddock depending on soil type. For over 40 years they have remained persistent across native and tropical grass paddocks. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/02/2022

The folly of carbon farming with pine trees – Dame Anne Salmond:

It’s time for Labour and the Greens to rescue their climate consciences and stop plans to plant vast, environmentally risky pine forests as a way of offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions

Opinion: In New Zealand, we have a Labour-Green government at present. There are many smart, switched on people, both in the Government and in Parliament. For tackling Covid-19, we now have a cross-party consensus that largely follows scientific advice on how best to deal with the pandemic.

Why then, is it so different when it comes to dealing with climate change? It is difficult to imagine a less sustainable set of strategies than those that New Zealand took to COP-26 in Glasgow last November. These were short sighted and cynical, winning New Zealand a second ‘Climate Fossil’ award, for good reason.

Unfortunately, New Zealand’s ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ to COP-26 at home relies on covering our landscapes with short-lived, shallow rooting, highly flammable monocultures of pine trees. This kind of ‘off-setting’ is high risk, socially, ecologically and economically. . . 

Unseasonable rain behind arable ‘harvest from hell’ – Feds :

Three weeks of on and off rain, with the weekend’s storm a sting in the tail, have caused widespread damage to arable crops up and down the country.

“Talking to farmers who have been around for a while, some of them are calling it the worst harvest season in living memory,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

“Normally we’d be most of the way through harvest by now but three weeks of continual rain held everything up, and now many parts of the country were hammered by the remnants of the cyclone.”

Only Southland seems relatively unaffected. . .

Avocado, kiwifruit growers counting costs of Cyclone Dovi’s winds :

The strong winds that lashed the country at the weekend have caused significant damage to some kiwifruit and avocado orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

Cyclone Dovi caused flooding, downed trees and cut power to homes.

Bay of Plenty orchardist Hugh Moore said some avocado trees were completely uprooted by the wind, while others had lost branches full of fruit.

He said both new season fruit and the last of this season’s crop have been impacted. . . 

Upfront: log exports explained – Marcus Musson, Forest360:

If a tree falls in the forest … should it be exported?

Exporting primary products from New Zealand has long been celebrated and underpins our economy and way of life. We all hail increased dairy and meat exports, are more than happy our best fruit and crayfish go offshore but throw our toys out of the cot about log exports.

Most elections will see some ill-informed politician standing in front of a wharf full of logs pontificating about keeping the logs for our local industry. Builders are quick to point the finger at log exporters for high lumber prices and supply issues assuming it’s caused by the log exports.

For perspective, think of trees as sheep and cows. They’re all cut into different products for different markets. Your favourite restaurant in Parnell isn’t likely to serve you up a medium rare sheep bladder and the pet food factory probably doesn’t have much demand for a lamb rack. Logs are no different except, unlike the fruit and fishing industries, we keep most of our good product here for our domestic sawmills and export bladder and brains grades of logs. . . 

New Zealand’s red meat processing and exporting sector announces new scholars for 2022 :

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) has awarded new scholarships to seven young New Zealanders considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector.

Every year, the Meat Industry Association awards a number of undergraduate ($5,000 per year) and post-graduate ($10,000 per year) scholarships. The organisation currently has a total of 21 scholars, with 14 existing scholars also continuing to receive support under the scheme.

This year’s new scholars are studying subjects ranging from food science to agribusiness, food marketing and supply chain management.

The returning scholars include both undergraduate and post graduate students, studying at a range of universities across New Zealand and internationally. . . 

Kacific and farmer Charlie team up to grow agricultural output and support sustainable development across Pacific:

Kacific Broadband Satellites and Farmer Charlie will bring affordable satellite-powered agricultural information and expertise to farmers in remote and isolated places across South East Asia and the Pacific.

The companies have signed an MoU supporting sustainable development and agriculture in small holdings across the region.

Kacific and Farmer Charlie will work together to deliver agricultural advice, localised weather information, and agribusiness information – including data from in-field sensors — to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses, helping them improve land management and food production using smart digital tools. It will also help them reduce post-harvest loss, better manage the risk of drought, floods, and other extreme weather events and address the impacts of climate change. . . 


Some things getting better

03/01/2022


What Shaw should say

02/11/2021

Federated Farmers says the government will be missing an opportunity for real climate leadership at COP26:

Federated Farmers believes the government could work much harder at getting other countries to embrace the latest climate science and to take a ‘split gas approach’ to emissions reduction.

Following the science – that would be a novel approach to climate policy.

“This is what New Zealand should be talking about at COP26 this week,” Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change minister James Shaw announced New Zealand’s ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be updated to reduce net emissions by 50% below gross 2005 levels by 2030.

While it will be technically possible for New Zealand to work backwards and make this all-gas target consistent with the split gas approach taken domestically, Feds is disappointed the opportunity to show leadership on this issue globally has been squandered.

“This all-gases target misses an opportunity for New Zealand to show genuine leadership by promoting the settled science that while long-lived emissions need to reach net zero to halt warming, short lived emissions do not.”

Feds believes this inaccurate and outdated way methane emissions from agriculture are currently being estimated means that despite biogenic methane only needing to reduce by 0.3% a year to be warming neutral, the metric we keep using incorrectly states the gas is responsible for around 80% of the sector’s warming.

“This is not just an issue for New Zealand farmers, but farmers across the globe.

“Agriculture is the primary source of biogenic methane emissions but short-lived biogenic methane is not the same as long-lived carbon dioxide, it may account for 42% of New Zealand’s emissions if you use the blunt CO2 equivalent (GWP100) formulae, but it doesn’t account for anywhere near 42% of this country’s warming, and the issue is, at the end of the day, warming.

“We are still not accounting for biogenic methane correctly and if we don’t, it will lead to massive structural change in our land use, in the wellbeing of rural communities and our economy, all for little to no gain in global atmospheric warming,” Andrew says.

Nobody seems to be taking nutrient density of food when accounting for emissions nor does our government seem to be taking into account the Paris Accord clause about emissions reduction not being done at the expense of food production.

Nor is anyone asking how much more anyone is prepared to pay for food as production drops and the price increases.

If New Zealand and the rest of the world continue to treat biogenic methane as if it accumulates in the atmosphere in the same way as carbon dioxide, there is a real risk emissions budgets and targets will not reflect what is physically happening in the atmosphere.

In recent conversations with government Federated Farmers asked the government to showcase New Zealand’s leadership on biogenic methane reduction at COP26.

“The form of the NDC was one such opportunity to show leadership. While this opportunity has now been missed, we hope that leadership is shown in other areas, such as giving farmers the regulatory framework to use tools that reduce emissions while maintaining food production.”

The government’s recently released draft Emissions Reduction Plan contains very few actual new policies to reach the old 2030 NDC, let alone this new target.

“We want to see New Zealand farmers empowered to innovate their way to climate neutrality. New Zealand farmers are not only being let down by targets that go beyond what is needed for biogenic methane to reach climate neutrality, but also by an inability to use tools, such as the feed inhibitor Bovaer, to reduce emissions,” Andrew says.

“Mitigation tools are being given the regulatory green light internationally but in New Zealand we are constrained by red tape.

“We would be concerned if the government were to increase the ambition of our NDC simply to channel resources offshore into some other carbon-offsetting programme – when this investment could be made domestically.”

New Zealand is the only country in the world with clear and explicit targets for emissions reductions from biogenic methane.

While these split emissions targets need to be followed up with split emissions budgets, politicians and officials should be promoting, and not downplaying, these targets on the global stage.

“We are also alone in having specific policy to manage and reduce agricultural emissions without introducing subsidies, that is world leading,” Andrew says.

The KPMG Net Zero Readiness Index recently rated New Zealand as the world leader in agriculture emissions reduction programmes.

“Now we need our own government to step up, show real leadership, and get other countries to see how biogenic methane needs to be accounted for differently.

“We can show leadership to the world in other fields, like trade negotiation, in sports strategy and in human rights. Why can’t we do it for climate change?”

James Shaw ought to be telling COP26  that it would be better for the planet if New Zealand produced more food, instead its climate change policy could cripple the economy:

The announcement of a Glasgow climate change target of 50 per cent reduction by 2030 goes beyond New Zealand’s fair share and will cost the country billions of dollars, say National’s Climate Change spokesperson Stuart Smith and Energy and Resources spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“The previous National Government took a target of a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 to Paris in 2015, says Smith.

“At the time, National emphasised that, due to New Zealand having almost 50 per cent of our emissions from agriculture and having one of the highest levels of renewable energy in the world, this target was incredibly challenging for New Zealand to achieve.

“Labour has shown time and again it is good at making climate change pronouncements but poor on delivery. We have had a climate change nuclear-free moment, a climate emergency and now this target. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions are going up under Labour and record amounts of coal are being burned at Huntly to keep the power on.

That’s coal that’s far dirtier than that which can no longer be mined here.

“It is true that other countries have announced similar target numbers to this, but we need to consider that New Zealand already has high levels of renewable electricity production and higher levels of agricultural emissions. This makes a 50 per cent target much harder for New Zealand to achieve.

“The Government says it is following the science, but the latest IPCC report states methane need only reduce 0.3 per cent per year. This target goes miles beyond that.

“It is disappointing Labour hasn’t supported our farmers by reflecting this science and taking a split-gas target.

“To put the reduction of 50 per cent of emissions in just nine years in perspective, it requires New Zealand to reduce emissions by about 6 per cent per year, every year, from now until 2030.

“It is estimated that global fossil fuel use fell about 6 per cent in 2020 due to the Covid lockdowns, not only would New Zealand need to achieve this level of reduction next year, we would then have to double that reduction the following year, then another 6 per cent the next. And on and on it goes.

“What advice has the Government received on the ability for agriculture to meet such a target without large cuts in stock numbers?  What advice has the Government received any sector of the economy can reduce emissions by 50 per cent in just nine years?

Kuriger says the target will cost the New Zealand economy billions.

“New Zealand is staring at a mountain of debt right now as we try to lift ourselves up out of Covid. So far it is actually our agricultural sector which has held the economy together. Trying to pay back the Covid debt at a time we cut cattle and sheep numbers is a scary thought.”

Smith says there are major concerns about Labour is likely to need to lean heavily into international carbon markets.

“National supports using global carbon markets to achieve our targets, but there is no sense in setting a target that over-reaches and simply signs New Zealand up to a huge bill as we buy units from overseas.

“Most Kiwis won’t thank the Government for signing them up to a huge carbon markets bill.

“National supports climate action. We are committed to a highly ambitious 30 per cent reduction by 2030. But a 50 per cent target raises huge questions the Prime Minister and the Minister for Climate Change need to answer.”

Our economy, and the planet would both be better off if the money wasted on political initiatives like this was instead directed to research into science-based solutions.


If it’s really a crisis . . .

10/09/2021

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is denying accusations of hypocrisy for his decision to fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 conference on climate change:

The Green Party refused to attend Parliament while Wellington was still at alert level 4 on Tuesday last week.

Shaw at the time had said there was a perfectly serviceable option that would enable MPs to work from home – Parliament via teleconferencing software Zoom – and politicians should be modelling the health advice to stay home. He said the party was reluctant to be returning to the House even at alert level 3.

“I think it’s absolutely irresponsible, I mean it literally risks people’s lives by holding an in-person Parliament,” Shaw said. . .

That was last week in New Zealand.

The conference is a couple of months away in Glasgow, one of the UK’s Covid-19 hotspots.

Shaw will be have to quarantine on his return, taking an MIQ spot away from people who are desperate to return to New Zealand. If staff are going they too will take MIQ spots from people who anyone with a heart would acknowledge had far greater need of them.

National’s climate change spokesman has turned down an invitation to attend.

Covid-19 has meant that New Zealanders have had to sacrifice a great deal. They have missed funerals, weddings, births, and all manner of other special moments, National’s Climate Change spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“It seems a no-brainer to me that now is not the time for me to be jetting over to the other side of the world for a conference, no matter how important the subject. That is why I have made the decision not to attend the 26th Conferences of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow this year.

“The Climate Change Minister James Shaw asked me if I was interested in attending COP 26 in Glasgow some time ago and I indicated that I was interested subject to the details and the circumstances at the time.

“Given I would be required to spend two weeks in MIQ when I returned, taking up a valuable spot that I know Kiwis overseas are desperate for, I could not justify the trip.

“I note Minister Shaw was vocal about the public health risk he considered Parliament sitting in Level 3 and 4 to be. One would think international travel in a pandemic would present a greater risk.

“The COP has been run by the United Nations for nearly thirty years and brings together people from all nations for a global climate summit. It is a worthwhile event and I look forward to hearing of the discussions second-hand.

“Since G20 was conducted online, it is disappointing that a climate change conference run by the United Nations would not also offer online engagement.

“I feel missing out on this particular event, while disappointing, pales compared to the sacrifices made by so many of my fellow New Zealanders.”

The greater hypocrisy isn’t Shaw’s going to Glasgow when he made a fuss about going to Wellington and applies not just to him but to all the people who are flying to Scotland for the conference. It’s that it’s an in-person meeting not a virtual one.

If they want us to take their claims of a climate crisis seriously, they must lead by example.

It doesn’t matter how many trees the conference-goers pledge to plant to offset their emissions, by flying a combined total of many, many thousands of kilometres they’re telling us to do as they say not as they do.

The truly green way to discuss the issue is to have a virtual conference. It worked for APEC, it would work for COP26 and it would show us that they are taking their claims of a climate crisis as seriously as they are exhorting us to.


Rural round-up

06/02/2021

Climate change: farmers should remain calm – Todd Muller:

National’s trade spokesman Todd Muller has advice for Kiwi farmers who may be concerned by the Climate Change report – remain calm.

“I think farmers in New Zealand should take a deep breath,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

The draft advice, released yesterday by the Climate Change Commission, said New Zealand would need to cut livestock numbers by around 15 per cent, halt conventional car imports, decarbonise the energy sector and move Kiwis into electric vehicles – all within 14 years.

In order to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets, the report also suggested an end to coal heating and more forestry. . . 

Climate change report: Focus on tourism not farming – Jim Hopkins:

If the government was serious about climate change it would curb tourism rather than agriculture, rural commentator Jim Hopkins says.

“They would say tourism’s off the table. Not for 12 months, but for 12 years – or longer – until the planet’s cooled down and we’re all happy again,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Last week research showed that New Zealand dairy was the most emissions efficient in the world, something that the government should be promoting, rather than trying to reduce, Hopkins said.

He also disagreed with the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on New Zealand cutting livestock numbers by 15 per cent to reach its ambitious greenhouse gas targets. . . 

Why open farm days matter – Daniel Eb:

Tell our story. That’s a line we hear a lot in farming these days. It’s supposed to be the way that rural New Zealand reconnects with urban Kiwis. How we bridge the divide. But as a marketing guy, I’m not so sure.

Farmer’s stories are everywhere. This very paper is full of them, Country Calendar’s ratings are unbeatable and the NZ Farming Facebook page is one of the country’s largest.

But it’s not enough.

To genuinely connect with people, to make the things that are important to you important to them, farmer storytelling needs to go offline. Videos, news articles and social media play an important role, but they can’t change behaviour alone. . . 

Ngāti Kahungunu joins Ngāi Tahu freshwater court action:

Two powerful iwi, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu, both of the Tākitimu waka, have joined forces in legal proceedings against the Crown.

Ngāti Kahungunu, the country’s third largest iwi, is working with Ngāi Tahu to have the tribe’s rangatiratanga over freshwater recognised, including the Mohaka River in Hawke’s Bay.

Ngāti Kahungunu, like Ngāi Tahu, has seen the traditional waterways and water bodies in its rohe degraded over time through government inaction, overallocation, and lack of environmental protections, including the 2016 Havelock North waterborne disease outbreak. . . 

Sustainably produced beef patties to become new normal:

It’s possible to produce a beef patty sustainably across the supply chain in New Zealand, a year-long trial has shown.

Key players in the red meat industry partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund to develop a model for producing independently verified sustainable beef through the entire supply chain. The project aimed to help meet the growing demand for ethically sourced and sustainable products.

“The project showed that New Zealand can do this, and the model can be scaled up – so this really is an encouraging milestone,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director Investment Programmes. “It provides transparency to customers and the public in a way that hasn’t been possible before.” . . 

DIY shearing seen by some farmers as a quick-fix to shortage – Chris McLennan:

A move by some farmers to cut through the shearer shortage by doing the work themselves has been described as a Band-Aid.

Shearing equipment suppliers from around the country are fielding increased calls from woolgrowers chasing gear with electric handpieces, cutters and combs the popular pick.

Industry leaders say the move is unsurprising given the shortage of shearers, chiefly caused by the loss of New Zealand shearers through the pandemic.

But those same leaders say the pandemic has exposed the industry’s shortcomings. . . 


Policy costs > problem costs

29/12/2020

Bjorn Lomborg, in a peer-reviewed article explains that policies supposed to counter climate change will cost more than climate change:

Climate change is real and its impacts are mostly negative, but common portrayals of devastation are unfounded. Scenarios set out under the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) show human welfare will likely increase to 450% of today’s welfare over the 21st century. Climate damages will reduce this welfare increase to 434%.

Arguments for devastation typically claim that extreme weather (like droughts, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes) is already worsening because of climate change. This is mostly misleading and inconsistent with the IPCC literature. For instance, the IPCC finds no trend for global hurricane frequency and has low confidence in attribution of changes to human activity, while the US has not seen an increase in landfalling hurricanes since 1900. Global death risk from extreme weather has declined 99% over 100 years and global costs have declined 26% over the last 28 years.

Arguments for devastation typically ignore adaptation, which will reduce vulnerability dramatically. While climate research suggests that fewer but stronger future hurricanes will increase damages, this effect will be countered by richer and more resilient societies. Global cost of hurricanes will likely decline from 0.04% of GDP today to 0.02% in 2100.

Climate-economic research shows that the total cost from untreated climate change is negative but moderate, likely equivalent to a 3.6% reduction in total GDP.

Climate policies also have costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, will cost $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030, yet will reduce emissions by just 1% of what is needed to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Each dollar spent on Paris will likely produce climate benefits worth 11¢.

Long-term impacts of climate policy can cost even more. The IPCC’s two best future scenarios are the “sustainable” SSP1 and the “fossil-fuel driven” SSP5. Current climate-focused attitudes suggest we aim for the “sustainable” world, but the higher economic growth in SSP5 actually leads to much greater welfare for humanity. After adjusting for climate damages, SSP5 will on average leave grandchildren of today’s poor $48,000 better off every year. It will reduce poverty by 26 million each year until 2050, inequality will be lower, and more than 80 million premature deaths will be avoided.

Using carbon taxes, an optimal realistic climate policy can aggressively reduce emissions and reduce the global temperature increase from 4.1°C in 2100 to 3.75°C. This will cost $18 trillion, but deliver climate benefits worth twice that. The popular 2°C target, in contrast, is unrealistic and would leave the world more than $250 trillion worse off.

The most effective climate policy is increasing investment in green R&D to make future decarbonization much cheaper. This can deliver $11 of climate benefits for each dollar spent.

More effective climate policies can help the world do better. The current climate discourse leads to wasteful climate policies, diverting attention and funds from more effective ways to improve the world. . . .

The cries for people to accept the science on climate change are loud.

But the voices of those who seek to apply science to solutions are drowned out by politics and bureaucracy which is why the policy costs exceed those of the problem.


Rural round-up

13/12/2020

Totara could be part of the water quality answer:

Tōtara oil and milk might seem strange companions – but a project currently under way could one day see both become products emanating from dairy farms.

The pairing is just one option that could stem from a project looking at productive riparian buffers – native and/or exotic planting that can not only promote better water quality in New Zealand waterways but also create new income streams for farmers.

“We know riparian planting benefits the environment by reducing nutrient losses into farm waterways,” says Electra Kalaugher, senior land and water management specialist at DairyNZ. “However, riparian planting can often mean a loss of productive land for farmers.

“Productive riparian buffers are different – and the project is exploring new and existing plant product options and their ability to deliver environmental, social, cultural and financial benefits.” .

Top RWNZ award for shearer – Annette Scott:

A competitive and world record-holding shearer, Sarah Higgins’ passion for shearing has earned her a top award at the NZI Rural Women NZ 2020 Business Awards. She talked with Annette Scott.

SARAH Higgins’ Marlborough-based shearing business breaks all the stereotypes of how a shearing crew might look and behave.

“We strive to break through the status quo of the shearing industry,” Higgins said.

And, it was her passion and commitment to harness her love of the land that has her Higgins Shearing business now firmly rooted in its local community. . . 

 

Farming through the generations – Colin Williscroft:

Members of Guy Bell’s family have been farming in Hawke’s Bay for five generations, with his sons making it six. Colin Williscroft reports.

The Bells are a family that farms four properties across Hawke’s Bay, from the Central Hawke’s Bay coast to the foothills of the Ruahines.

Guy Bell is the fifth generation of his family on his mother’s side to farm in the area, and the second on his father’s side.

He has two brothers and a sister who also farm in the district. . . 

Cut flower farming grew after few seeds planted – Mark Price:

Anna Mackay, of Spotts Creek Station in the Cardrona Valley, has diversified into cut flowers. She described to Mark Price her experiences so far.

During a family holiday in Matakana a few years back, I purchased a book called The Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein, of Floret Farms, in the United States, and I was totally inspired by her story.

In my past life, I have owned a florist’s shop, have been heavily involved with interior design, worked alongside Annabel Langbein as her prop stylist during her ‘‘free-range cook series’’ and, in later years, operated an event-styling company, Barefoot Styling, with good friend Sarah Shore.

When the younger of our two sons started school in September 2016 I wanted to slow my life down. . . 

Sowing the seeds of success :

Rangiora’s Luisetti Seeds’ warehouses, seed clearing facilities and silos are a constant reminder to locals of the town’s long agricultural history.

The family business was established by Vincent Luisetti in 1932 and while it may be 88 years old, the company is in expansion-mode and is investing in state-of-the art seed cleaning technology.

Edward Luisetti, Vincent’s grandson and Luisetti Seeds managing director says the company is in the process of installing the highest capacity ryegrass and cereal seed cleaning facility outside of America. It will be located in Ashburton.

The machinery has been purchased from Germany and initially, Covid delays put a spanner in the works. . . 

Are cows getting a bad rap when it comes to climate change? – Stu McNish:

A leading climate scientist, Myles Allen, believes the effect of cattle on climate change has been overstated.

“The traditional way of accounting for methane emissions from cows overstates the impact of a steady herd by a factor of four.”

That’s a problem, says Allen. “If we are going to set these very ambitious goals to stop global warming, then we need to have accounting tools that are fit for purpose. … The errors distort cows’ contributions — both good and bad — and, in doing so, give CO2 producers a free pass on their total GHG contribution.”

Allen is a heavyweight in climate circles. The BBC described him as the physicist behind Net Zero. In 2005, he proposed global carbon budgets and in 2010, he received the Appleton medal and prize from the Institute of Physics for his work in climate sciences. . .


Rural round-up

03/11/2020

50 Shades of Green disappointed James Shaw retains Climate Change portfolio:

The conservation group 50 Shades of Green is disappointed that James Shaw has retained his climate change portfolio.

“While we have nothing against Mr Shaw personally, we believe the portfolio needs a fresh perspective,” 50 Shades of Green chair Any Scott said.

“We can’t keep doing what we’re doing and planting good farmland in trees while we extol the virtue of protecting and increasing our biodiversity.

“It’s nothing more than a feel-good factor and will achieve nothing positive. We’ll continue to pollute, and the climate will continue to get warmer. . . 

China has vowed to cut its reliance on foreign food imports. What could that mean for NZ agricultural exports? – James Fyfe:

With China vowing to cut its reliance on foreign food imports in the coming years, experts say while New Zealand exporters shouldn’t start worrying just yet, they should start thinking ahead and not put all their eggs in one basket.

Leaders from the world’s second-biggest economy met earlier this week to lay out a five-year plan for the country. Among the priorities identified was to have a “lower reliance on foreign suppliers for strategic products such as food, energy, semiconductors and other key technologies,” the Associated Press reported.

With China a massive buyer of New Zealand agricultural exports, more self-reliance could have a direct impact on farmers and growers here.

Trade expert Charles Finny, a former senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, says China is an “enormously important market” for New Zealand, twice the size of our next-largest market, Australia.  . . 

Alliance weathers the year’s many challenges – Sally Rae:

It is more important than ever for Alliance Group to invest in Southland in the wake of uncertainty over the future of Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The company was committed to Southland and it had spent significant money at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, in the last couple of years, Mr Surveyor said.

That included spending $12.5million to install the latest processing technology — including new generation primal cutters, middles and fores technology — a major engine room upgrade, and reconfiguration of its venison plant so it could also process beef . . 

New Zealand’s little-told Far North wild horses story :

In 2012 Kelly Wilson’s family saved 12 Kaimanawa horses from slaughter and then two years later they had their TV  show Keeping up with the Kaimanawas when they successfully tamed another 12.

Kelly appeared on the TV series with her sisters, Vicky and Amanda, and has also written four best-selling books about horses.

An adventurer who “loves anything to do with an adrenalin rush”, she enjoys ice climbing, scuba diving and snow boarding wherever she is in the world.

“But a lot of my time now is invested into wild horses and both photographing them in the wild and then taming them first-hand and then writing the books about them.”   . . 

Swings and roundabouts – in defence of animal source foods :

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or?

It seems the religion of old is out the door in favour of belonging and identifying with a food camp, whether it be vegan, plant-based whole food, carnivore, flexitarian, keto or paleo, and it seems there are some people who sit in judgement of those who don’t adhere to their food religion. However, the food agnostics amongst us don’t want to jump on this bandwagon, and quietly prefer to not put a label on it, and simply follow a balanced diet. 

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or? . . .

Mountain Blue Orchards grows from farm and nursery to a globally integrated business – Michelle Hespe:

With the NSW Farmer of the Year awards cancelled for 2020, The Land and The Farmer look back at the past decade of inspiring winners to see how they’ve adapted to current times, as well as what the competition has meant to them.

Ridley Bell of Mountain Blue Orchards is considered the grandfather of Australia’s blueberry industry.

By becoming the 2010 NSW Farmer of the Year he feels he was also put on the map for other farmers and for the horticulture industry in general.

“The awards opened up whole series of different networks and supports,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

20/07/2020

New apple ‘Dazzles’ Chinese consumers :

New Zealand’s largest organic apple producer says it cannot keep up with the Chinese demand for New Zealand’s newest apple, Dazzle.

Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says Dazzle is the best apple he has ever grown organically in his 30 years of growing organic apples.

“Without any doubt, I believe this is the best apple since the worldwide domination of New Zealand Royal Gala. It looks and tastes amazing, it’s bright red and sweet and it also yields and packs well.”

It’s the first year the company has had commercial volumes of organic Dazzle apples available for Chinese retailers.   . .

Nats hit the rural hustings – Mark Daniel:

National’s Waikato team of David Bennett and Tim van der Molen have been spreading the party word at a series of farmer meetings around the region.

Bennett, now the party’s agriculture spokesman, following Todd Muller’s recent move to leader, focused on the issues likely to affect agriculture. He claimed National’s ag polices aimed to drive momentum.

Starting out by commending the current Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett raised the question of how New Zealand will pay its bills in the future. He intimidated that the current Labour/NZ First coalition’s policies were reactionary, rather than visionary.

With all the major political parties agreeing that sustainable agriculture, horticulture and viticulture will be vital in a post-Covid future, Bennett suggested that the current drive for sustainability needs to be addressed.  . .

Honey business finds sweet spot – Colin Williscroft:

When James Annabell’s budding rugby career wasn’t quite going the way he hoped the former Taranaki Bulls hooker put his drive into honey, which has led to the development of a multimillion dollar business, as Colin Williscroft reports.

James Annabell was back in Taranaki on a break from playing rugby in Hong Kong when the chance that changed his life came along.

He’d already tried a law degree in Wellington and played rugby for Taranaki from 2006 to 2008.

But there was no regional contract on offer the following year so he went to Hong Kong and Germany to continue with rugby. . . 

Adventure, experience affords view of pig picture – George Clark:

From his travels and experience in pig farming, Ian Jackson knew he was going to breed pigs in the open air.

A Scot by birth, he was brought up on a pig and poultry farm in the UK. Uninterested in poultry, he specialised in pigs at Usk Agricultural College.

After working in the UK pig industry, he was eager to see the world and set off on an adventure with a tent on his back, wandering across Europe and then to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Jackson met Kiwi wife Linda 21 years ago this month. She had never lived on a farm and did not know anything about pigs. . . 

Food service finds new pathway – Hugh Stringleman:

A refreshed strategy for its food service business is being introduced by Fonterra to counter the disruption caused by covid-19 to eating out in restaurants and hotels.

Food service revenue is bouncing back, especially in the number one market of China, but positioning has changed, Asia and the Pacific chief executive Judith Swales told a webinar for Fonterra shareholders.

Covid-19 has accelerated trends already apparent in the market like more home cooking, outsourcing in food preparation, more home delivery and investment in digital and contactless technologies. . .

Planting trees to fight climate change ‘ not best strategy’ :

Mass tree planting to mitigate climate change is ‘not always the best strategy’ – with some experimental sites failing to increase carbon stocks, researchers say.

Four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland was analysed as part of a new study involving UK scientists.

They found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage.

The team found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil. . . 


Not the time for contentious legislation

07/04/2020

The government is, rightly, expecting the opposition to support it through the lockdown.

In return it ought to hold back on contentious legislation.

Instead we have this:

The Government is using Parliament’s select committee process to sneak climate change provisions into the Resource Management Act, National’s RMA spokesperson Judith Collins says.

“A recently-released report by the Environment Select Committee recommends several changes to the Resource Management Amendment Bill, including provisions for climate change considerations in RMA decisions.

“These late changes are an abuse of the select committee process because they were made after public feedback was called for, meaning submitters have not had the opportunity to properly consider the new bill.

“The climate change considerations were not in the original bill, and it appears only some of the people who submitted were aware of them.

“The amended bill also gives submitters the right to cross-examine each other during RMA applications. This would significantly increase the time and cost of hearings.

“The Government’s expert review panel is likely to recommend significant reform when it reports back in May so it makes no sense to proceed with these changes now.

“Last week, Environment Minister David Parker said he was working on ways to improve the speed and certainty of consenting. This bill will have the opposite effect.” 

Could there be a worse time to add such contentious provisions to the Bill?

Now is not the time to be adding contentious, expensive and time-consuming hurdles to the RMA.

Now of all times, the government should understand the need to relook at everything that could hamper the recovery.

When the lock down is over we’ll be facing a new, and much poorer, normal. We need to be reducing red tape and simplifying regulations not adding to it and complicating them.


Water, water . . .

12/02/2020

We had around 70mms of rain last week – it was welcome for both the timing and amount.

For once North Otago has been blessed with enough but not too much, unlike Southland which was inundated and further north which is suffering from drought.

This photo, taken a week before the rain, shows the difference irrigation makes:

Without irrigation, all of the district would have looked like the hillside in the background, and had it not been for last week’s rain, we’d have been facing drought.

While nothing beats water from above, dry weather here doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to.

Before we had widespread irrigation the district lurched from one drought to the next, playing catch-up in the good years but never making progress.

Enough of the district now has irrigation which allows grass and crop growth in dry weather and gives opportunities for people on dry land to buy feed or grazing or to sell stock to those who have water.

It’s drought-proofed farms and created more jobs on farms and in town.

Many other districts aren’t so blessed.

Large areas of the country are now facing drought and don’t have the option to irrigate. But many places could if there was more water storage.

If predictions of dry weather caused by climate change prove to be right we should be investing in more dams to store water when there’s an excess to use when it’s dry.

It has economic, environmental and social benefits, not just for farms but for towns and cities which are facing water restrictions now as they wait for rain.


Petition against preaching

17/01/2020

Federated Farmers has launched a petition seeking to have the government’s climate change teaching resource withdrawn until it’s corrected:

The Ministry of Education has made a new Climate Change resource available to teachers on the Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website. This is not compulsory but is a ready-made unit of work designed to be picked up and taught by teachers. The “Climate Change: Prepare today, live well tomorrow” unit has significant information missing which would provide important context about New Zealand’s emissions, it makes food choice recommendations that are not supported from a health perspective, it refers to overly simplistic and inaccurate messaging, it refers students and teachers to websites that are not intended for primary school age students and/or are not appropriate for the NZ context, and it encourages activism. In its current form it is not appropriate for use by teachers in classrooms.

Some of the content is scientific but some is inappropriate, simplistic and/or simply wrong.

The resource is also incomplete. It covers the risks with nothing about the remedies that could be available through innovation and technology.

It’s not unlike telling children they will all get diabetes without giving them reliable nutritional information and informing them about insulin.

Sign this petition to demand that the “Climate Change: Prepare today, live well tomorrow” is removed from the TKI website (and any other distribution forms) until such as time as it has been reviewed and amended to ensure completeness, accuracy, and relevance to the NZ context. In particular:
1. Provide information about the short-lived nature of methane in the atmosphere, and the difference between emissions and warming
2. Provide context around NZs agriculture emissions which are largely methane based
3. Encourage critical assessment of “food miles” and “buy local” messaging which is often simplistic and inaccurate
4. Remove suggestions around food choices, beyond “avoid waste”
5. Remove teaching of activism
6. Ensure all material is age appropriate and relevant for the NZ context

Education should be encouraging children to think not stirring up feelings of hopelessness.

Teachers should be encouraging pupils to investigate, question and problem solve, not inciting them to activism.

And schools should be teaching not preaching.


Need right response

16/01/2020

Climate change agitation started on the left.

Some of it was driven by genuine concern for the environment. Some had, and still has, a wider anti-capitalist political agenda.

Climate change is now an issue that spans the political spectrum but most response is still shaped by the left with its usual recipe of less of this here and more tax on that there.

Ironically, given climate change activists’ demands to accept the science, a lot of the response does not follow the science.

Much of the response is also simplistic and does not take into account all the costs and consequences of prescribed actions nor does it follow the prescription for sustainability which requires a balance of economic, environmental and social concerns.

The teaching resource on climate change issued by the Ministry of Education exemplifies this, mixing misinformation and preaching with the science and teaching.

There is a huge opportunity here for the right to promote a much more positive response that will counter the eco-pessimism and provide real solutions with technology and innovation.

That is what has provided answers to problems that have beset the world in the past and that is what is needed if we’re to safeguard the health of the planet for the future.


%d bloggers like this: