Rural round-up

April 19, 2018

Zespri says Gold3 licensing tender to generated as much as $195M in 2018 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group said corporate revenue from the 2018 allocation of the Gold3 license release will be $190 million to $195 million, or around $253,000-to-$260,000 per hectare, a figure that is up on the prior year.

The range is the combined revenue estimate resulting from 700 hectares of Gold3 licence, and 50 hectares of Gold3 Organic new development licence, both released under a closed tender bid mechanism, New Zealand’s statutory kiwifruit exporter said in a release. The validation process for all bids is still ongoing and all bidders will be notified of their outcome from May 1. . . .

Water quality results show pleasing improvements:

Federated Farmers says all the hard work being done to improve our freshwater quality is starting to pay off.

The release of the National River Water Quality Trends by Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) show that many more sites are improving than deteriorating for all the river water quality parameters monitored over a 10 year period.

“There are lots of good things going on, both urban and rural, to help improve the quality of our waterways,” Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“It is very good news. To see that the effort being made is starting to show results.” . . 

Bigger role for water companies in farm strategy:

Irrigation companies have a bigger role to play in helping farmers make strategic decisions on land use, future innovation strategist Roger Dennis says.

Dennis is a key-note speaker at Agri Innovation in Ashburton on 2 May, held jointly by MHV Water, Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation and Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation.

He says many organisations influence farmers, but none is more agnostic about how farmers use their land than the company that delivers their water. . . 

Irrigation body confident of big projects despite govt cuts

Irrigation New Zealand is confident that an end to government subsidies will not spell the end of large-scale irrigation projects.

The lobby group is holding its biennial conference this week and looking at the future of the sector now that the tap has been turned off on the $450 million worth of loans the previous government promised.

Under National, irrigation was seen as one of the key ways of driving economic growth, resulting in it setting up Crown Irrigation Investments, a company willing and able to dole out millions in loans to fledgling irrigation schemes.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said in the end it only granted a small portion of money with the most significant contributions still to come. . .

Broken food systems – developing a citizen-centric NZ food strategy – Nadine Porter:

The global devaluation of food in developed countries due to physical, digital and biological advances has been the catalyst for destruction of both social, cultural and economic systems and New Zealand, in the absence of an ethical humanity centred ‘whole food system’ risks the same deterioration and consequences, other first world nations are attempting to reverse.

Lack of understanding around the role of food as a connector in every facet of our lives not only diminishes the importance of food production – it further industrialises and negates the responsibilities of the process, which in turn reshapes the‘economic social, cultural and human context in which welive’.(1)

At a time when discourse and a disconnect between those on the land and those in built up areas is at unparalleled levels, questions and negative scrutiny has and will continue to be levelled at the New Zealand farming fraternity – the scapegoats and the legacy of citizens who have been progressively severed from their local food systems. . . 

Govt risking rural communities’ mental health:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will begin shutting its doors due to a lack of support from the Government and may not be able to provide vital mental health services into the future, National Party spokesperson for Mental Health Matt Doocey and National Party spokesperson for Rural Communities Matt King say.

“It has been confirmed that RHAANZ will begin shutting its doors because they don’t have critical infrastructure to hold Government contacts, including the rural mental health initiative,after the Government failed to commit funding to ensure the alliance could continue,” Mr Doocey says. . . 

Government again targets regional New Zealand:

National stands behind New Zealand’s international commitments to reducing emissions but has cautioned against drastic action which will unfairly impact New Zealand farmers and businesses, spokesperson for Climate Change Todd Muller says.

“The Government has today established an Interim Climate Change Committee that will work on New Zealand’s efforts to meet our international climate change commitments – and right away set it the task of targeting regional New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s international commitments were made by the previous National Government because we believe New Zealand can and should play its part – but that we must do so in a sustainable way. . . 

Wintering practices important for farm economics and environment – Bala Tikkisetty:

The weather already this year has been a mixed bag of wet and dry. The winter season is now around the corner and who knows what that will bring!

Soil health damage during winter has been recognised as a significant issue for the farming community. It coincides with high stock densities and high soil moisture conditions.

It’s general practice during winter to graze stock intensively on winter forage crops supplying large quantities of feed in a relatively small area. . . 


Govt acts on threat to irrigation

April 6, 2018

The government has acted on its pre-election threat to axe funding through Crown Irrigation Investments.

Three schemes already under way will keep the funding promised.

The government will help fund the construction of irrigation projects on the Canterbury plains and near Kurow and Nelson as it winds back support for large-scale water schemes.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson today said all existing Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd development contracts will be honoured, and that the three named schemes will receive funding for their construction phase given how far down the track they were.  . . 

IrrigationNZ bemoans the lost opportunity.

 . . .“In Crown Irrigation Investments Briefing to Incoming Ministers, the socio-economic gain to communities from planned future irrigation projects in New Zealand was over $1.2 billion per year. With a number of these projects being unable to access loan funding, this is a huge lost opportunity for these rural communities,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis.

“The Hurunui Water Project, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne irrigation projects all have local community support and also meet strict new environmental requirements around river swimmability and nutrient limits. In addition to this they plan to undertake additional activities to help improve existing water quality – for example the Hunter Downs scheme was planning to augment river flows into the Wainono Lagoon which will help to restore this culturally and environmentally significant ecosystem. A recent UNESCO report – Nature Based Solutions for Water, has highlighted the importance of ‘green infrastructure’ initiatives such as this for improving water quality globally,” he adds.

The Hurunui, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne projects aim to provide water security to predominantly beef, sheep and cropping farms in drought prone areas.

Over the past summer we have experienced droughts followed by unprecedented wet conditions. This is indicative of the climate change impacts we can expect to see in the future,” says Mr Curtis. “It is critical for rural east coast farming communities to have access to a reliable water supply in order to help them manage through these effects,” says Mr Curtis.

Mr Curtis says that when farming communities experience significant droughts, it’s not just farmers who suffer but also the rest of the community and local businesses.

“Local councils see the value of investment in water infrastructure and recognise this as one of the most pressing issues for their communities. We would like to see the merits of these projects considered through the Provincial Growth Fund. These projects will build more resilient rural communities and provide significant community benefits.”

Irrigation would be much better use of regional development funding than a Minister’s pet projects.

Axing the fund continues the government’s raid on the regions.

The Government’s confirmation it will axe major irrigation projects is the second major blow it’s dealt to regional New Zealand in a week, National’s Paul Goldsmith and Nathan Guy say.

“Fresh from whacking a major new fuel tax on New Zealand motorists the Government has announced it will leave regional farmers and growers at the mercy of prolonged droughts by canning support for important irrigation projects,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“This is a huge blow to regional New Zealand which is facing an increasingly uncertain future as a result of this Government’s raid on our regions.

“This summer alone saw six regions declared in drought as dry weather hammered primary producers right around New Zealand. These irrigation projects would have given them the certainty they could deal with future dry spells but that certainty’s now been ripped away.

North Otago used to be wracked by recurring droughts which caused widespread financial, environmental and social distress.

Now large areas are irrigated the district is virtually drought-proof.

Irrigation has enabled the production of more food, the provision of more jobs and provides insurance against dry weather.

Mr Goldsmith says the Government’s regional growth strategy is a mess.

“It’s Jekyll and Hyde and seems to come down to which of Labour’s two support parties wins the day.

“One day Shane Jones sticks his finger in the air and doles out taxpayer cash for pet projects, the next day four ministers announce the Government will rip $5b out of regional road funding but tax motorists more and the next it is stripping millions out of important and demonstrably effective regional irrigation projects. . .

It just shows the Government has no clear strategy.

“It says it supports regional New Zealand but it continues to put the boot in. Axing irrigation projects makes it harder for farmers and growers to do their jobs, harder for them to create jobs, harder to grow our exports and harder for New Zealanders to get ahead.”

It’s ironic that the government wants us to take climate change seriously, including the risk of more droughts, yet has striped funding from irrigation projects which could provide insurance against dry weather.


Rural round-up

January 4, 2018

Wanaka fire will take days to put out – Sam Nugent:

Wanaka residents woke to see the fire on Roys Peak had reignited on two separate fronts overnight.

Since first light eight helicopters with monsoon buckets have been attacking the fire.

Fire crews from Wanaka, Hawea, Luggate, Dunstan and Arrowtown have been working overnight to protect homes on the outskirts of Wanaka from a blaze which authorities say could take at least two days to put out.

Around 3am, after the fire flared up again late yesterday evening, crews and police were preparing to evacuate about 30 homes as well as the occupants of the Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park as a precaution due to a wind shift.

However, conditions had changed again and as at 4.30am the fire was not currently burning towards houses. . . 

Fed Farmers urge govt to reconsider irrigation loans – Conan Young:

The new government is being urged not to follow through on its promise to cancel any new loans to irrigation schemes.

Its predecessor pledged $400 million from the sale of state assets towards helping schemes get off the ground as a way to boost economic growth, but all of that was about to end.

Picking up on discontent among voters over declining water quality, Labour campaigned on a water levy on farmers using irrigation and promised to wind up Crown Irrigation Investments, the company that was formed to provide bridging finance to irrigation schemes. . .

Fonterra lowers NZ milk collection forecast for this season on dry weather – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group expects to collect 3 percent less milk from its New Zealand suppliers this season than it did in the prior season as dry weather stunts grass growth and lowers milk production.

Auckland-based Fonterra revised its forecast for its New Zealand milk collection for the current 2017/18 season to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids, down 3 percent from the 1,525 million kgMS it collected in the 2016/17 season, it said. In December it had forecast milk collection would be in line with the previous season. . . 

Rabobank Analysis – GDT Event 203:

Commentary
A mixed result in the commodity bag overnight; but generally a positive auction for New Zealand farmers with the average price index at the GDT auction for up 2.2%. Importantly, the WMP index was up 4.2% taking it to its highest level since October 2017. A total 25,400t of product was sold.

As many of you would be aware, Fonterra has revised its milk intake for the 2017/18 season twice in the past few weeks. Right now Fonterra are predicting milk intake of 1,480 million kgMS – which is down 4% on the 2016/2017 season. The risk of drought flagged in the latest GDQ has clearly come into play. . . 

The hidden powers of a sheep – Judith D. Schwartz:

While the fashion industry continues to produce more and more clothes made from synthetics, we’ve ignored the wonders of wool. Not only is wool unusually cozy and durable, but its creators (the sheep) can also help regenerate the world’s drying, fire-prone landscapes. The good news: a wool revival seems to be underway.

In the early nineteenth century, 70 percent of the forests in my home state of Vermont were cleared, primarily for sheep farming. Vermont’s “merino mania” had begun just a few years earlier, in 1809, when William Jarvis, U.S. Consul to Portugal under Thomas Jefferson, took advantage of Spain’s turmoil under Napoleon’s invasion to import 200 of Spain’s prized Royal Escorial flock. It turned out that our rocky soil and hilly terrain suited sheep farming just fine; Jarvis soon smuggled in more and more Spanish sheep, and, for a time, Vermont became the center of the American wool trade.

At its peak, in 1840, the industry supported more than 100,000 sheep in the town of Bennington, where I live. Our own property was reportedly once a sheep farm. We still have sections of stone wall that marked the pasture boundary. Today there’s barely a handful of small sheep farms left in the county. So, too, with the wool industry at large. Across the country, wool mills—once an American mainstay—have all but disappeared. . . 

Dairies are awash in organic milk as consumers flock to alternatives – Heather Haddon & Benjamin Parkin:

Organic milk sales have cooled as the very shoppers who drove demand for the specialty product not long ago move on to newer alternatives, leaving dairy sellers and producers grappling with oversupply.

A yearslong surge in demand prompted food companies and dairy farmers to invest in organic production, which requires eschewing pesticides and antibiotics and allowing cows to graze freely. Now organic milk supplies have ballooned just as demand has stalled. Many shoppers have moved on to substitutes such as almond “milk” . . .


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