Rural round-up

23/08/2021

Another battle about land is ahead – Mike Houlahan:

Back on August 12, 2021 BD (before Delta), when Parliament rose for what was meant to be an uneventful and restful recess week, MPs had just started the second reading debate on the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.

Back on August 12, 2021 BD (before Delta), when Parliament rose for what was meant to be an uneventful and restful recess week, MPs had just started the second reading debate on the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.

Quite when they will get back to considering the merits or otherwise of the Bill is anyone’s guess.

When that day comes though, it will be keenly watched – the discussion paper on the review attracted 320 submissions, and the 161 submissions the environment select committee waded through to reach this point included a form submission lodged by 1733 individuals. . . 

Plant nurseries rush to save seedlings on eve of lockdown – Sam Olley:

Lockdown has come at one of the worst possible times for nurseries, amid the late winter planting season for native plants and forestry.

Nurseries are allowed to carry out some maintenance but it is far from business as usual.

For Ngā Uri o Hau nursery in Mangawhai it was a scramble to save the trees on the eve of lockdown.

Six thousand native plants sat on pellets in a loading bay ready to go out to clients but they had no irrigation, and wouldn’t be going anywhere at alert level 4. . . 

While the Brits brace for Christmas without turkeys, NZ leads APEC initiative on food security – Point of Order:

Not enough turkeys for Christmas?

Calamity.

Not in this country (so far as we know), but in Britain, where the British Poultry Council is pressing the UK Government to deal with the culinary consequences of shortages of workers resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The British food industry faces huge disruptions that have forced leading restaurants – including Nando’s and KFC – to reduce their service or to close. . .

It’s calving time – Country LIfe:

It’s calving season and dairy farmers around the country are working long hours.

They’re not only doing the usual milking and maintenance but watching over their herds as they calve.

Country Life Producer Sally Round got up before the birds and put on her wet weather gear to meet Wairarapa dairy farmer Jody James and his team to find out what happens.

It’s pitch black and the temperature has plunged. . .

Value your time – Mark Guscott:

After a recent field day, Mark Guscott is asking the question: Do farmers value their time?

Do you value your time? In my experience there are heaps of farmers who don’t. I went to a field day to learn from a cocky who was doing a good job of wintering cattle. He fed them a lot of balage and hay and was asked, “how does that amount of feeding-out stack up financially?”.

He replied that it didn’t cost him anything as the grass grew for free and he owned his own baler! Well, the language in my mind was colourful and I straight away lost concentration. This was unfortunate on my part as he was doing a good job overall. I guess his rationale was that once the payments on the baler were finished then it didn’t owe him anything. Fair call, but what about the diesel for the tractor, the person driving that tractor or the maintenance on the baler?

The point is that what we do every day is important and worthwhile. We should value what we do. The cocky was doing a good job but he needed to account for the wage or drawings that he feeds his family with. There are some that would say that any profit made is payment, but when the coffers are empty at the end of the year, it wouldn’t be very encouraging to think ‘I’ve worked hard all year for nothing’. What we do to look after our land, our animals and our people is bloody important. While sometimes it might not feel like it, there are a lot of people out there who value what we do. . .

Rural areas need a Covid strategy, and fast – Stephanie Stanhope:

It’s fair to say that the people of regional, rural and remote NSW are on high alert as the COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges yet again.

A state-wide lockdown has commenced and communities are grappling with what this means in terms of access to essential supplies and services, keeping businesses afloat and families’ food on the table, in already strained circumstances.

Access to healthcare in regional and rural NSW is already difficult, as the CWA of NSW has been advocating on for some time now.

Last year we surveyed our members and overwhelmingly heard about long wait times to see general practitioners, lack of nurses and health professionals, and ill-equipped hospitals servicing large areas of the regions. . .

 


Rural round-up

18/07/2021

Rural living: the good, the bad and the glorious – Nicky Berger:

I never wanted to be a farmer. Growing up on a small sheep and beef farm north of Auckland, I spent many sunny afternoons in the “Pooh Bear Forest” below our house, and others learning how to handle wool from eternally patient shearers.

But I never believed it was my destiny to grow food. Instead, I spent my teenage years imagining myself working in one of the skyscrapers we would see on occasional trips into the city. When I was old enough, off to the city I went.

However, the unexpected death of my dad one sunny evening in 2004 changed everything.

Sitting at the kitchen table in my family home the following morning, I stared in wonder at ute after ute coming down our driveway, past our house, and heading over to the woolshed. . .

Images of distressed animals misleading council says :

Recent publicity surrounding intensive winter grazing in Southland has been unhelpful, the regional council says.

Images of distressed animals deep in mud have circulated on social media in recent weeks.

But Southland Regional Council chief executive Rob Phillips said some of them were not from this winter and many appeared to be taken outside of Southland.

“We want to follow up and address any poor practice, but when those circulating the images aren’t prepared to tell us where the properties are, it lets everyone down and certainly doesn’t help to improve the situation, he said. . . 

Farmers a cut above DOC in caring for Crown land – Jacqui Dean:

There’s some people who are firm in the belief that Crown land can only be properly looked after if it’s under Department of Conservation (DOC) control. In my opinion, that view is misguided and fails to recognise the state of vast tracts of land across the South Island.

I’ve spent the first half of this year visiting Crown pastoral leaseholders in the South Island to better understand the implications of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill that’s making its way through Parliament.

This piece of legislation is touted by its proponents as a way to improve environmental outcomes. It puts an end to tenure review and places heavy-handed restrictions on the most basic of farming activities on crown lease land.

During my visits to these rugged and remote areas I’ve been able to compare high country land being farmed under a pastoral lease with nearby land under DOC administration. . . 

Farmers sent a clear message, Labour should listen:

The immense turnout to yesterday’s nationwide protests by the rural sector sent a clear message to the Government, they are fed up with Labour penalising them at every turn, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“Yesterday farmers up and down New Zealand told the Government they wouldn’t be sitting down and taking the hits Labour is dishing out. All National MPs were with them, showing our support and how much we value the work our farmers do.

“Farmers helped New Zealand get through Covid-19, and Labour is repaying them through unworkable freshwater regulations, failing to deal with serious workforce shortages and now it’s hitting them in the wallet with a Ute Tax.

“The rural sector has rightly had enough. They’re not alone though, almost every other New Zealander is being hit in the back pocket through new taxes, rent increases and costs on businesses. . . 

 

Malaysian firm to convert Southland farm into forestry block – Shawn McAvinue:

A Malaysian company has been given consent to buy a nearly 460ha sheep and beef farm in Western Southland.

The Overseas Investment Office gave the consent to the 100% Malaysian-owned company Pine Plantations Private Ltd to buy the farm – near Tuatapere – from vendors Ayson and Karen Gill for $4 million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 330ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees.

Planting was intended to start in 2021-22, for the trees to be harvested in up to 30 years. . . 

City kids go bush – Sally Blundell:

It’s called real world learning: pine nut pesto, bush tea and home kill. Bush Farm Education is taking kids out of the classroom and into nature.

The classroom is a place of puddles and hay bales, trailers and tractors. Today’s lessons – fire safety, edible mushrooms and the reality of home kill.

“Just imagine if every kid in Ōtautahi Christchurch, or even New Zealand, could have a day a week out on the farm, in nature, learning about it,” says Katie Earle, founder of Bush Farm Education on Lyttelton Harbour. “It would just be incredible.”

Incredible but unlikely. A Sport New Zealand survey in 2019 found that only 7 percent of children and young people aged five–17 met the Ministry of Health guidelines of at least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day. Recent research by Ara Institute of Canterbury into education outside the classroom found a third of schools struggle to get students outside, citing time constraints, added paperwork, education regulations and health and safety rules. . . 

Increased demand for softwood lumber in the US and Asia will change the global trade flows of wood in the coming decade:

Softwood lumber has been in high demand in the US and Europe throughout 2021. The limited supply resulted in temporary price surges to record high levels during the spring, followed by substantial declines in early summer. The outlook for lumber demand is likely to be strong worldwide in the coming decade in most world regions, including North America and Asia. Both these regions are consistently dependent on imported wood.

Few countries in the world can significantly expand lumber exports, and Europe will play an increasingly important role as a wood supplier in the future. Tighter lumber markets will impact not just the sawmilling industry but also forest owners, pulp companies, wood panel manufacturers, and pellet producers.

The latest Focus Report: Global Lumber Markets – The Growing Role of European Lumber from Wood Resources International (WRI) and O’Kelly Acumen examines the forces driving the tightness of global lumber markets, including the demand outlook in the US and China and the supply potential from Europe, Russia, and other regions. It also analyses the possible implications of near-term changes in the lumber markets for all players in the value chain. . . 


Rural round-up

13/04/2021

Red meat retreat – Neal Wallace:

This year’s prime lamb production is headed to be the lowest on record, reflecting low farmer confidence, and could result in fewer ewe numbers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is warning.

The number of lambs likely to be processed this season is estimated at 18.2 million, a drop of 4.5%, or 900,000, compared to 2019-20, with total export production of 347,600 tonnes bone-in.

“This will be the lowest lamb production on record. Confidence in the industry is subdued,” the B+LNZ report said.

“Farm gate prices have eased from recent high levels, farmers are wary of the volatility of weather events and environmental regulation is weighing heavily on morale. Forestry is also spreading into sheep farming land. . .

Bills on tax creep and sound law-making deserve public debate – Feds:

A government committed to fairness and responsible law-making should not allow two bills recently drawn from the Member’s Ballot to sink without debate, Federated Farmers says.

“At the very least the Regulatory Standards Bill and the Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill deserve to go to select committee for examination and public submissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

The Regulatory Standards Bill would require any proposed legislation to be subject to clear analysis of the problem the legislation is aimed at solving, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of expected outcomes and adequate consultation with affected parties.

“Quite frankly with such requirements, the Essential Freshwater legislation and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – to name just two recent examples – would not have got through as written,” Andrew said. . . 

Resting in fleece – Annette Scott:

Choosing an end of life in wool has become a popular option as woollen caskets take off in New Zealand.

Ten years ago when Polly and Ross McGuckin launched Natural Legacy woollen caskets in NZ the idea struggled to gain traction.

“We were seen as eco warriors, there wasn’t the interest then, I was flogging a dead horse, but now people are waking up, the public is listening and the table is turning,” Polly McGuckin said.

“The world is changing and funeral homes want to do the right thing by being eco-friendly and sustainable – it’s a lot easier to talk about wool now, every year we are seeing interest grow. . . .

Love of the land a Shaw thing:

Farm Environment Plans are not just about cows, grass and other farm management practices, says Ross Shaw – they are an integral part of any farmer’s connection to the land.

Shaw, along with wife Karla and parents Jim and Helen, have a deep and strongly held philosophy about the land. That dovetails with his recent enthusiastic embrace of a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) – one of the many compulsory (by 2025) calls on farmers’ time and wallets in order to improve nutrient management and reduce farming’s impact on water quality.

Jim and Helen Shaw bought the Reporoa property 36 years ago when it was 62 hectares and with 150 cows; it’s now 400ha, with many more cows and farmed, for the last 13 years, with Ross and Karla.

It is also the subject of a long-held family belief in multi-generational farming and what that means in terms of custodianship of the land: “We are like most New Zealand farmers – we want to be here for multi-generations,” Ross says.  “We were farming in our own right [before joining up with his parents] and our kids will be the third generation on this farm. . . 

Relief in Australia as welcome mat goes out for New Zealand shearers – Sally Murphy:

Australian farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as much needed New Zealand shearers will now be able to travel over for their busy spring season.

Covid-19 border closures have meant nearly 500 New Zealand shearers who normally travel to Australia to help out have been unable to.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said it’s been tough going with farmers paying almost double per sheep to have them shorn.

“It’s been really tough and there’s been months of delays. The standard rate over here for shearing a sheep is $A3.24 [$NZ3.51] but now in New South Wales which has about 40 percent of the country’s sheep it’s hard to get a shear for under $A3.72. . . 

China trade tactics didn’t hurt AUstralia as anticipated – Jamieson Murphy:

CHINA’S aggressive trade tariffs have cost the Australian economy millions of dollars, but the damage isn’t anywhere nearly as bad as originally anticipated, according to leading think tank economists.

Across the affected commodities, trade to China is down about 78 per cent. But the trade sanctions took place against the backdrop of COVID-19 which “significantly clouds the picture”, Lowy Institute lead economist Roland Rajah said. 

Nonetheless, one can parse the evidence to arrive at some conclusions and it would seem the impact has in fact been quite limited,” Mr Rajah said.

“Exports to China have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets.”. . .


Rural round-up

25/03/2021

Pastoral lease review untenable – farmers – David Anderson:

High Country farmers are questioning the Government’s motives and the legality of its proposed reforms to pastoral land legislation.

“The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill is a solution looking for a problem, and is unnecessary, counterproductive and potentially unlawful,” Federated Farmers South Island policy manager Kim Reilly told the Environment Select Committee that is overseeing the bill.

“The existing contractual relationship [under the Crown Pastoral Land system] based on trust and reciprocity would be replaced by an approach of regulation, policing and enforcement.”

Reilly says the bill – as proposed – reduces the certainty of leases and the incentives for farmers to continue to invest in enhanced environmental outcomes. . . 

Beef up carcasses: Researcher – Shawn McAvinue:

Beef carcass weights need to rise after decades of “disappointing” results on the hook, a genetics researcher told a room of farmers in Gore last week.

Zoetis genetics area manager Amy Hoogenboom, speaking at a “What’s the Beef” roadshow at Heartland Hotel Croyden last week, said cattle carcass weights in New Zealand had increased by 4% on average in the past 30 years.

“Does that surprise anyone? Does that disappoint anyone?” she asked a room of about 40 beef farmers.

Dr Hoogenboom, of North Canterbury, said the increase was “not a great improvement”. . .

Are you roar ready? – Grace Prior:

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council is calling for greater awareness about hunting safety this season.

MSC said it was predicting that this year’s Roar, the biggest event in the deer hunting calendar, would be a big one with hunters itching to get out in the hills after covid-19 cancelled their chances to get out last year.

This year, MSC’s message was simple, “be the hunter your mates want to hunt with”.

MSC said there had been a death in Wairarapa in 2012 during the Roar season, where someone had been misidentified. . .  

Feds proud to back NZ Dairy Story:

Sip that fresh glass of New Zealand milk, cut a wedge of our cheese, and know the farmers behind it are world leaders in animal welfare and climate change. And unlike producers in many other nations, they do it without direct, free-trade distorting subsidies.

Federated Farmers is proud to endorse the messages in The New Zealand Dairy Story. It’s a resource launched this week that draws together facts and figures our exporters, government representatives, educators and others can use to continue to grow our global reputation for producing quality, highly-nutritious milk and more than 1500 other products and product specifications made from it.

“New Zealand’s farmers and dairy companies produce the equivalent of two and a half serves of milk per day for around 90 million people each year, many of whom are in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where there are not the same natural resources to produce milk,” Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Wayne Langford says. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Story: dairy goodness for the world:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is proud that dairy has joined other export sectors in telling its story through the New Zealand Story initiative to ‘make New Zealand famous for more good things’.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been added to the New Zealand Story online toolkit (https://www.nzstory.govt.nz/) and is one of dairy goodness for the world.

“The New Zealand Dairy Story sets out New Zealand’s unique combination qualities as a country – our natural advantages, our care, our ingenuity and our integrity – and how they come together to make New Zealand a great source of milk, and therefore of dairy nutrition for a sustainable diet” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. . . 

Westland unveils Project Goldrush: a $40 Million investment to access global consumer butter market:

Westland Milk Products is embarking on an ambitious $40 million plan to double capacity of its consumer butter manufacturing facility.

The plan to increase production of premium grass-fed consumer butter brand Westgold has been five years in the making and is backed by new owner, global dairy giant Yili.

Westland resident director Shiqing Jian said Westland was transitioning from a supplier of mostly bulk commodities to play a greater role in the production of consumer goods in an expanding global butter and spread market.

“The investment highlights the important role Westland plays in Yili’s ongoing plans to supply international industrial and consumer markets,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 

Water crisis highlights need for new solutions, technologies to drive conservation in Asian agriculture:

As World Water Day is recognized in Asia and around the globe today, CropLife Asia is marking the occasion by calling for more intensive efforts and collaborative work to drive water conservation in regional agriculture.

“There is no natural resource as precious as water, and how we work together to ensure it’s conservation will play a large part in determining the future for all of us,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. “Food production requires far too much of this precious resource. Thankfully, plant science innovations are reducing the amount of water needed to drive agriculture. Access to these technologies and other tools that support sustainable food production with less dependence on water are critical for Asia’s farmers.”

With the recent release of new water security data as part of UNICEF’s Water Security for All initiative, the critical importance of the availability of this resource is more evident than ever. Specifically, the analysis revealed that more than 1.42 billion people worldwide live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability – this includes 450 million children. . . 


Rural round-up

19/03/2021

B+LNZ’s reaction to the Government’s intensive winter grazing announcement:

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says it’s encouraging the Government has accepted some of the Southland winter grazing advisory group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) module to farm plans in the coming year, and the delayed implementation of the winter grazing rules.

Minister O’Connor made the point to our Annual Meeting that more time is needed to work through the Southland group’s recommendations and to write robust policy as a result. We welcome this commitment to getting it right and look forward to working with the Government on this process.

“B+LNZ has been an integral part of the industry front-footing action on the ground. Our belief has always been that industry-led, tested and practical solutions achieve better results than arbitrary rules.

“B+LNZ led the development of the IWG module, and this module is already part of the B+LNZ farm plan launched today and which is being rolled out in the coming weeks as part of our commitment to supporting resilient, profitable farming businesses while achieving positive and lasting environmental outcomes. . .

Rural health workers decline Covid-19 vaccine due to ‘hours of travel’ – Rowan Quinn:

Some rural doctors, nurses and frontline health workers are turning down their first chance of getting a Covid vaccine because they would have to take hours out of their busy day to get one..

They fear it is a signal for what is to come for the wider rural community.

Whangamata doctor and Rural GPs Network chair Fiona Bolden said frontline health staff in the Coromandel have had the call up to get their first vaccination.

Some had not been able to take it up because they would have to make a return journey to Hamilton to get it, and do that again for the second dose three weeks later . . .

Pastoral lease reform back to the future? – Catherine Irons, Mike Britton, Allan Brent:

Will the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill achieve its objectives or will it turn the clock back, reviving old tensions

The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill, currently before Parliament, will end the 30-year programme called tenure review. Tenure review allows pastoral leaseholders to separate the land they lease from the Crown into two types: farmland where the farm is owned by them freehold and conservation land held by the Crown.

If the Bill becomes law, remaining pastoral leases will continue but with stronger rules limiting the changes leaseholders might make to their farming methods.

We are members of a newly established non-governmental organisation, the Environmental Law Initiative, and we think this Bill will in fact create greater problems in a climate-changed future. . . .

Saving Dolly – Owen Jennings:

The cow has become a much maligned beast of late.  She makes our rivers unswimmable, puts nitrogen in our drinking water, pugs the ground causing erosion and farts and belches poisonous Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere.  No wonder people don’t want to eat her bountiful products anymore.

Of course, most of that, if not all, is blatantly untrue but it makes for selling copy, keeping well paid academics in their job and the green lobby groups’ coffers filled.

Take the bit about farting and belching.  The story goes that cows emit Methane as they chew their cud.  Methane is a potent Greenhouse Gas.  Greenhouse Gases trap heat in the atmosphere and warm our planet.  The story concludes it is going to get so hot we are all going to die.  Leaves Baldacci and Grisham in the dust.

Now for some balance.  Farms use huge amounts of CO2.  Dr Bradley Case at AUT found farms take in about 90% of the Greenhouse Gas they emit in the woody vegetation and trees alone on the farm. That’s not counting the grass which uses even more CO2 in photosynthesis.  Farms are a net sink. . . 

Native plants can boost crop yields new study shows – Hugo Cameron:

New research shows fruit and vegetable growers can utilise native bush to increase yields and protect plants from pests.

The Plant and Food Research study found having more native plants near crops could attract insects that help with pollination and combat some harmful pests.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries showed insect-pollinated crops such as kiwifruit and avocados were worth about $2 billion to the national economy. . .

Foot and Mouth: hoping that painful lessons have been learnt :

SIR, – Your recent articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 2001 foot-and-mouth (FMD) outbreak brought back some bitter and heartbreaking memories for my family.

We had not been farming for long here and were in the process of building up a pedigree flock of 1000 Lleyn ewes when disaster struck as a result of a single ram being purchased at Longtown on that fateful day, February 22, resulting in the entire flock along with my wife’s cherished, prize-winning flock of Jacobs as well as some rare breeds being culled.

The irony for us was that not only was the ram and our flock never infected with the disease, but the nearest outbreak to us was more than 40 miles away

 


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