Rural round-up

October 17, 2013

Overseas experience to boost FMD preparation:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced that a delegation of 10 veterinarians, farming leaders and MPI staff will take part in foot and mouth disease (FMD) training in Asia next year to experience working with the disease first hand.

“While the major focus is always on preventing FMD, it is also very important that we are prepared to respond to such an outbreak quickly and effectively if it ever did happen.

“The training will develop a larger pool of people in New Zealand with experience in recognising, diagnosing and controlling the disease.

“This is the latest initiative in a major 18-month programme of work, which involves the Ministry for Primary Industries and an industry working group working together on key projects,” says Mr Guy. . .

End of an era for southern cooperatives – Allan Barber:

Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole retired at the end of September after five years on the board and 15 in top management roles, while Eoin Garden, Silver Fern Farms’ chairman since 2007 is retiring at the AGM in December.

Both men in different ways have provided notably determined leadership of their respective companies through particularly difficult times for the meat industry. Although each will retire with some regrets at not being able to lead the way to a permanent recovery, it will be a relief to step back from the limelight and leave the battle to their successors.

Poole has been succeeded by North Canterbury farmer Murray Taggart who ironically was voted off the Alliance board at the same AGM as previous chairman John Turner, resulting in Poole being appointed the company’s first independent chairman. That was a consequence of farmer disaffection with low lamb prices, so in spite of some recovery before the last price drop nothing much has really changed. . .

Rise of corporate dairying in China:

A new report says China’s dairy industry is undergoing a massive restructuring, with traditional small farmers departing to make way for large-scale commerical dairying operations.

Rabobank’s report China’s Raw Milk Supply – Still Dreaming of a White River says the rapid changes taking place in China will have an impact on its demand for imports.

Co-author Hayley Moynihan says the restructuring is limiting China’s domestic milk flow. She says as the supply chain restructures, is it put under pressure in terms of its ability to increase the volume of quality raw milk supplies.

Ms Moynihan says the Chinese Government has taken significant action to improve milk quality since the melamine crisis in 2008. . .

Evolving a truly customer-centric industry:

New Zealand’s primary sector needs to develop a customer-centric approach to its marketing – by creating products with unique attributes that are sought after by global consumers.

That was a key theme of the just-released Volume 3 of the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, titled “Evolving a truly customer-centric industry”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says the sector needs to replace its traditional ‘trading mentality’ with a more targeted approach.

“Those customers who see the most value in what we produce – and are consequently willing to pay a higher price for the attributes they value – must be at the centre of everything we do.” . .

A primer of water quality – Clive Howard-Williams at Waiology:

Society is increasingly concerned over water quality. The means by which this is maintained and enhanced while growing an economy is a major challenge for governments in many places. Here I introduce some underlying concepts around water quality that Waiology followers will need to appreciate when they look at the forthcoming series of blogs.

What is good water quality?

Rather than just being a set of defined scientific numbers, water quality is rather a perception defined by communities and it varies from place to place and between communities. What is seen as poor water quality by some may be adequate for others. Generally however, good quality is usually recognized as water that is safely drinkable, swimmable and from where food may be gathered and that provides for community spiritual and cultural needs and for healthy ecosystems. . .

Happy World Food Day:

We all love to eat, but make sure that as you celebrate World Food Day today you spare a thought today for those who don’t have enough to eat.

‘Across the world 842 million people still suffer from chronic malnutrition, including a growing number in the developed world’, said HRLA chairperson Edward Miller, ‘and the latest New Zealand food security study reported that less than 6 in 10 NZ households are food secure.’ . .


City waterways most polluted

December 30, 2012

Farming’s contribution to water pollution gets a lot of publicity but city waterways are the most polluted:

“Stormwater drains end up in creeks, and creeks end up in bays. Dog poo, litter, all end up in streams, and you might be swimming in the bay the next day,” said National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief freshwater scientist, Clive Howard-Williams.

Agriculture is often blamed for New Zealand’s declining water quality, but the country’s most polluted waterways are found in the inner city. . .

This doesn’t excuse farmers from doing all they can to ensure their practices don’t pollute waterways but it does show improving water quality is an urban issue too.

The biggest issue for cities is chemicals and organic matter being discarded down stormwater drains from individuals and light industry that eventually end up in the sea.

“Paints, poisons and explosives are the things . . . that pollute beaches. At the end of the day a goldfish down the toilet is not going to do any harm,” McIlroy said.

Even dog faeces and discarded ice creams contribute to the degradation of waterways and beaches. So does washing the car.

“A lot of that sort of material causes the loss of oxygen, so fish in streams die. There is just too much organic matter and then you end up with bacteria in places where you swim,” Howard-Williams said.

Many people believe stormwater is treated before it is fed into the sea, he said. It is not.

“Stormwater drains play a fundamental role in removing floodwater. But the problem is that they end up in creeks, bays and lakes and it is untreated,” he said.

City folk needed to appreciate where the stormwater drains end up and be aware of the lengths councils went to keep them clean, he said. “There is a general lack of appreciation of what goes down the stormwater and where it goes. Urban dwellers have a lot to learn.”

Adverse publicity about rural water quality combined with education have prompted most farmers into taking a much more proactive approach to improving water quality.

More publicity and education are needed to ensure urban people take responsibility for keeping water in towns and cities cleaner too.

 


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