Rural round-up

24/11/2022

‘Greenie by default’ farmer speaks out against Govt restrictions – Sally Rae :

The Black family have been farming at Ermedale, about 10km north of Riverton, since 1924.

Third-generation Leon Black is currently at the helm of the property, with wife Wendy — the couple have four children — and he would like to see the family there for another century.

‘‘With the current settings, I would say I’m wasting my bloody time,’’ he said succinctly.

Years ago, Mr Black became interested in breeding animals that produced less methane but with higher production. . . 

More time needed – Peter Burke :

Democracy by stealth – that’s how a highly-respected dairy industry leader Ben Allomes is describing the present Government’s consultation with farmers over agricultural emissions and other issues.

“It is overwhelming and unrealistic for us to be able to give honest democratic feedback on every piece of legislation that they are working on the moment,” he told Rural News.

Allomes, a former DairyNZ director, is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take the pressure off farmers and give them more time to properly understand and digest the huge raft of changes that the Government is trying to push through before next year’s election.

He reckons the Government has got a massive number of things they want to achieve before the next election and says most of these seem to be aimed at the primary sector. He says these include greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, animal welfare and labour. Allomes says this is on top of farmers trying to deal with the uncertainties around Covid, such as disrupted supply chains and increasing costs, all of which are creating an uncertain business environment. . . 

Kiwi entity working to change how overseas customers view wool :

A new entity established to promote the strong wool sector is working to change how overseas customers view the product.

Strong wool prices have been subdued in recent years, with the price often not enough to cover the cost of shearing the sheep.

With support from the government, Wool Impact NZ was launched in July with the aim of working with brands to get strong wool products into markets quickly and speed up returns to farmers.

Chief executive Andy Caughey said their work was being helped by the fact that consumers were moving away from fast fashion and synthetic fibres. . . 

Italian label toasts NZ Merino partnership – Sally Rae:

Turn the clock back 25 years and merino growers were told longer wools were a problem and were being heavily discounted by European buyers.

At the same time, the New Zealand Merino Company was formed to specifically champion merino fibre. Chief executive John Brakenridge and Andy Caughey — now chief executive of Wool Impact — approached Italian company Loro Piana and laid down the challenge of finding a way to use those longer wools in a premium product.

As NZM general manager commercial Keith Ovens recalls, it took much investment, trial and error at the Loro Piana processing plant but, in 1997, Pier Luigi Loro Piana issued the first three-year contract for longer wools (90mm-105mm at 18.8 micron), and at a $2 premium to the spinners market of the day.

The Zealander fabric was subsequently launched to Loro Piana’s prestigious client base around the world. It was one of the first fabrics made from 100% New Zealand wool, at a time when growers had been told by the trade that New Zealand wool was only good enough to be used as a blend with wool from other countries, Mr Ovens said. . . 

It’s not the cows, it’s the fossil fuels – Meg Chatham :

A new report shows that greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas facilities worldwide are about three times higher than their producers claim.

Last week, Climate TRACE, a non-profit coalition of researchers, data analysts, and NGOs who use satellite coverage, artificial intelligence, and remote sensing to independently track human-caused emissions, published a new report showing that half of the 50 largest sources of global greenhouse gas emissions are oil and gas production facilities.

From the report:

In no sector is the power of Climate TRACE’s emissions monitoring approach more apparent than in oil and gas. Last year’s Climate TRACE inventory found that emissions from oil and gas production, transport, and refining had been significantly underestimated — owing, in part, to limited reporting requirements and consistent underestimates of methane emissions from both intentional flaring as well as leaks. . . 

Yealands turns green grapes into gree apples with global sustainability awards :

New Zealand premium wine producer, Yealands Wine Group, has won two golds at the 2022 International Green Apple Awards for its ground-breaking Biodiversity Plan, officially launched today.

Yealands attended a special awards ceremony at London’s Houses of Parliament on November 21 to acknowledge the company’s pioneering work to create a more biodiverse environment.

Yealands topped the Regeneration and Carbon Reduction categories at the awards, run by global non-profit The Green Organisation to recognise environmental best practice around the world. Judges were impressed by the company’s 30-year Biodiversity Plan, which will see around 270 ha at its vineyard in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley planted with more than 1,000,000 native trees to improve water quality and protect and enhance sensitive natural areas.

As the first wine producer in the world to be Toitū carboNZero Certified from day one, Yealands has always measured, reduced and offset all emissions. The Biodiversity Plan goes even further to make a positive difference to the environment and community. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/11/2022

Feds breaks ranks on HWEN – Sudesh Kissun:

The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and Māori Agribusiness Partners are calling on the Government to change key aspects of its proposal on agricultural emissions pricing.

However, Federated Farmers has decided not to back the joint submission from the 10 partners.

It recommends changes that would develop an emissions pricing system that creates incentives and opportunities to reduce agricultural emissions while maintaining the viability of the primary sector.

The submission recommends changes to price setting, governance and transitional arrangements that would see decision-making on emissions pricing balance the socio-economic impacts on the primary sector and wider economy with emissions reductions.  . .

HWEN partners question methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector wants the government to review its methane targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

This is included in the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) submission on the government-proposed pricing structure, saying new targets that reflect the latest scientific evidence are needed before the sector starts to be charged in 2025.

Methane targets were legislated by Parliament in 2019 as part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act, requiring the sector to reduce emissions 10% below 2017 levels by 2030 and by 24-47% below 2017 levels by 2050.

The HWEN submission pulls few punches, saying the government’s changes are not acceptable to the partnership and the growers and farmers they represent. . . 

Emissions plan: DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ – The Country :

No deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to pricing agricultural emissions, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says

DairyNZ had made a submission in the emissions plan and hoped for a response from the Government, van der Poel told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We had to go into this next stage in good faith because our primary objective is still to get a solution here and put this to bed.

“We’ve been talking about this since 2004 and it’s not going to go away.” . . 

Cherry on top growers feeling “positive”, expecting record volumes of fruit :

Central Otago cherry growers are expecting record volumes of fruit this season.

45 South Cherries chief executive Tim Jones said now that they had survived October’s nasty weather, they had been able to assess crops, and fruit volumes may be double that of past years.

New plantings were coming into their own, he said.

“The last three years have been pretty disappointing crops but all those trees that have been planted in the past five or six will really hit their straps this year.

“Last year the industry exported a little over three thousand tonnes and I would suggest this year it could be at least five or six thousand,” he said. . . 

It’s time to resolve carbon forest conflicts –  Dean Baigent-Mercer :

 Forestry is back in the spotlight. After years of being on the margins, forestry has come full-circle and is again at the heart of discussions about New Zealand’s future. Why? Because of climate change and biodiversity. The opportunity is exciting but there are issues to resolve. A key question is native versus exotic forestry carbon sinks.

The world risks overshooting its climate change targets. We need to stop using fossil fuels, cut emissions and store increasing amounts of carbon in forests, wetlands and other natural carbon sinks for centuries to come.

New Zealand forestry has been quick to act and respond. New Zealand has gone down the pine forest carbon storage route as a relatively fast and cheap way to store carbon.

But it’s clear that this is no longer a viable path. The Climate Change Commission has advised that we must stop relying on pines to store carbon and instead rely on permanent carbon sinks in native forests. Pine planting may appeal in the short term, but a large blaze can release a carbon bomb. There is increasing evidence that pine-based carbon sinks will end up being stranded assets or uninsurable. . .

Rural tourism business finalist at New Zealand Tourism Awards :

“The future of rural tourism is bright”, say Will and Rose Parsons of Driftwood Eco Tours, finalists of the 2022 New Zealand Tourism Awards for community engagement.

The annual New Zealand Tourism Awards, hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa in Hamilton, highlights excellence in tourism and helps operators aspire to greater customer service.

Driftwood Eco Tours was delighted to be one of three finalists for the community engagement category.

Operating since 2004, Driftwood Eco Tours is based in Kaikōura, but runs small group, multi-day tours throughout the upper South Island and on offshore islands, offering guests the chance to visit and experience some of New Zealand’s most isolated rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

15/11/2022

New taxes put rural communities at risk – Kathryn Wright:

Rural people in New Zealand are under attack.

In the last few weeks, many “experts” have been revealed within the topic of new requirements for New Zealand farms, which will inevitably devastate and diminish rural communities.

New taxes and stock reductions will ensure that around 20% of sheep and beef farms will collapse, and with them, a part of their community.

I’m going to discuss this loss of community and why it matters, rather than arguing the points themselves — which also deserve to be investigated more robustly as they seem to be only telling half of the story. . .

No magic bullet for methane: Prof :

Honorary professor Keith Woodford has doubts about the “hype” around adding seaweed in feed supplements to cut methane emissions from livestock.

Seaweed-based feed ingredients are among future solutions being highlighted to help farmers reduce methane emissions in cattle and their share of climate change.

Prof Woodford said it was hoped that bromoform in the seaweed would reduce methane production, but promoters of technical ruminant solutions were overlooking nutritional issues that made this unlikely.

‘‘Yes they will kill off the methanogens alright, but they will also flow into the milk. …. Some people don’t like that story because it spoils their story and their investment opportunity, but now that it’s there, gosh it’s pretty serious.“ . . .

Industry bodies resolve to advocate strongly for farmers:

This week, leaders from DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Federated Farmers met to discuss emissions pricing.

Leaving it until the last minute, the meeting comes the week before consultation closes on the Government’s proposed emissions pricing plan and follows some criticism that the three groups – via He Waka Eke Noa’s proposal to government – have not advocated strongly enough on farmers’ behalf.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says a united voice on emissions pricing is the best way to ensure positive policy outcomes for farmers.

“All three organisations have reaffirmed nine core principles that we will all be raising in our submissions and through the He Waka Eke Noa partnership,” he says. . .

Inspiring the future of rural health :

The Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme is inspiring the next generation of health professionals, whether they are just beginning tertiary study and have not considered medicine, or if they are medical students who had not considered practicing rurally.

The Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme’s final Rural School Visits for 2022 will take place over multiple regions this November, visiting both schools and medical practices to foster connections with rural communities.

28 tertiary students will embark on tours throughout Northland, Waikato, and Taranaki regions, where they will engage with secondary students from a range of rural schools through interactive presentations, demonstrations, and workshops. From November 14-18, two groups will travel to rural schools throughout upper and lower Northland, while two further groups will meet with rural students in Waikato and Taranaki November 21-25.

In between school presentations, the volunteers will also visit rural medical practices where they will see and experience first-hand the lifestyle and value of rural medicine, as well as engaging with rural Health Professionals. Five practices are booked for visits with more to come. . . .

Farmers proud to be guardians of ancient drawings – Country Life:

In South Canterbury, there are hundreds of Māori drawings on limestone rock – some of which could be up to 1,000 years old.

Peter Evans believes it was his grandfather who discovered the ancient drawings on cliffs that overlook his Pareora Gorge sheep and beef farm.

His grandfather developed an interest in rock art beyond what was on the family farm and passed his curiosity on to his children.

“He and his children in the 1920s went searching the area for rock drawings … as they knew they were special and unique,”  Peter says. . . 

Fed-up farmers: why US government will put us out of business – Mary Kay Linge :

Within the next few months, the United States is projected to import more agricultural products than it exports for the first time in history — a worrisome development for America’s family farmers, who say government meddling threatens their livelihoods and the nation’s food security.

“The United States has never had any trouble feeding itself and much of the world, too,” said upstate New York farmer Tim Stanton. “I guess the politicians just figure we’ll keep going no matter what they do to us.

“But, you know, there is a limit.”

Farmers all over New York and New Jersey say they are being pushed to those limits by President Biden’s attack on energy, Gov. Hochul’s labor betrayal, foreign competition and other woes. Here, five of them describe their challenges. . .

 


Ag bodies united

11/11/2022

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are speaking with one voice on the government’s plan to tax farm emissions.

Their email to farmers says:

This week the leaders of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, and Federated Farmers met in Christchurch to discuss emissions pricing and to establish common positions between our three organisations so we can move forward together and advocate strongly on behalf of farmers.  

A united voice on emissions pricing is the best way to ensure positive policy outcomes for farmers.

The government’s proposal is so bad it’s achieved something – uniting the agricultural industry against it.

It was a productive discussion and all three organisations have agreed on the following core principles that we will all be raising directly with the Government on your behalf:

    1. The current methane targets are wrong and need to be reviewed. Any target should be science-based, not political, and look to prevent additional warming. 
    2. The methane price should be set at the minimum level needed and be fixed for a five-year period to give farmers certainty.
    3.  Any levy revenue must be ringfenced and only be used for the administration of the system, investment in R&D, or go back to farmers as incentives. Administration costs must be minimised. 
    4. The future price should be set by the Minister on the advice of an independent oversight board appointed by all He Waka Eke Noa partners. 
    5. The system must incentivise farmers to uptake technology and adopt good farming practices that will reduce global emissions. 
    6. All sequestration that can be measured and is additive should be counted. We stand by what was proposed by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership on sequestration. 
    7. Farmers should be able to form collectives to measure, manage, and report their emissions in an efficient way. 
    8. Farmers who don’t have access to mitigations or sequestration should be able to apply for temporary levy relief if the viability of their business is threatened.
    9. We will not accept emissions leakage. The way to prevent that happening is by getting the targets, price, sequestration, incentives, and other settings right.

Our organisations are all united in our determination to get the best possible outcome we can and will continue to work closely together as we advocate for farmers. 

Individual organisations will continue to raise sector specific issues.

This is good progress but will the government listen?

And if it doesn’t will the government do what Richard Harmen says it could?:

. . . However, the Government holds the whip hand; it can simply impose a so-called processor levy on farmers, which would see all milk and meat levied by the dairy company or meat works that processed it.

That would lump everyone in together with no reward for those doing the best work and no extra costs for those doing nothing.

It would add costs that will cripple some farms and lead to thousands of job losses in businesses that service and supply them;  it would also lead to the loss of billions of dollars in export income and for what?

Even if there was no carbon leakage there would be no significant reduction in carbon emissions and if there was carbon leakage emissions would increase.

If climate change is as important an issue as the government says it is, it must listen to the agriculture industry and come up with a policy that will endure.

Its current plans won’t, if it accepts what these organisations are asking for and works with them, it might.

 


Rural round-up

02/11/2022

Why this virtue signalling Govt is so reviled by the rural sector – Jamie Mackay :

Would it be unkind to say you’ve got to go back to the days of David Lange and Rogernomics to find a government so reviled by the rural sector?

And it’s rather ironic that Labour finds itself in a unique electoral situation because of the support it garnered from the provinces in the 2020 election. A case of be careful what you vote for. A perfect storm of Covid, an empathetic PM, fear of the unknown, the fear of the Greens and a totally dysfunctional National Party, combined to produce the first majority government in MMP history.

The Government’s recent response to He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) and the resultant modelling was an abrupt wake up call to rural New Zealand and those self-same provinces that swept Jacinda Ardern into power. Only Wayne Barnes missing that forward pass in 2007 is a bigger mystery to me than why every electorate, Epsom aside, party voted Labour in 2020. We’ll never see the likes of that again.

And we may never see the likes of 50,000 Kiwi farmers again if we lose 20 per cent of our sheep and beef production and six per cent of dairy. The numbers being modelled are frightening, even if they’re only half correct. . . 

Is this our generation’s subsidy-free moment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

How farmers move forward and negotiate with the government’s response to He Waka Eke Noa proposals could be this generation’s “subsidy-free moment,” reminiscent of the 1980s, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

The release of the Government’s response to the proposals from He Waka Eke Noa has resulted in misunderstanding, muddle and misery. New suggestions have appeared, questions have been asked, and the misery remains.

How can farm businesses survive what has been suggested? Economic viability is threatened.

The Prime Minister has recognised the concerns and has used the phrase “Just Transition” – the same words used in Taranaki when changes in the energy sector were made. . . 

Fed Farmers call for alternative farming emissions proposal – Evan Harding:

A leading Southland farmer says she won’t be getting winter grazing consents and hundreds of other farmers will also refuse to get them.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt, speaking at a meeting about the Government’s controversial farming emissions’ proposal and winter grazing regulations at Stadium Southland on Wednesday night, said consents were supposed to place extra scrutiny where the highest risks were.

But if thousands of people had to get them for an activity, it was not targeting the highest risk.

“That’ll mean councils can’t adequately check them out in advance or enforce them so it makes a mockery of the process. You’ll pay for a piece of paper but there’s nothing behind it, and that’s why we don’t support these ones,” she said. . . 

 

Planting trees for the future – Sudesh Kissun :

Waikato farmers John and Maria van Heuven believe in leaving their 164ha property in a better condition than when they bought it 20 years ago.

Hence the Matamata dairy farmers of 50 years quickly joined the Bridge to Bridge project (B2B), backed by Waikato Regional Council and Fonterra.

The three-year community-run project was completed recently with eight kilometres of Waitoa River fenced and 17,000 native plants and trees in the ground.

The project involved landowners on either side of the Puketutu and Station Road bridges near Matamata, removing pest plants, relocating fencing from the river’s edge to create bigger riparian margins and planting native plants and trees.

Here for the long game :

DairyNZ has launched a new campaign designed to showcase dairy farmers’ commitment to a better future for New Zealand.

The multi-media campaign, named Here for the Long Game, launched nationwide this week, and highlights dairy farmers’ commitment while sharing how the sector is addressing the challenges ahead.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the campaign shares the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers.

“As a sector, we want to deliver a sustainable future – meeting the needs of our communities and customers, while maintaining profitable and sustainable businesses,” he says. . .

 

Anti-burping tablets could solve Australia’s cattle methane emission problem – Elly Bradfield and Amy Phillips :

A Queensland university claims its research into cattle has the potential to reduce methane emissions in Australia’s beef industry by 30 per cent.

The federal government confirmed last week Australia would sign up to a global pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent this decade.

Meat and Livestock Australia, industry’s peak research and development group, had previously vowed to be carbon neutral by 2030 through its CN30 pledge.

Professor Ben Hayes from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at the University of Queensland said its four projects could be applied simultaneously to the $14.6 billion beef cattle industry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

21/10/2022

Fundamental differences on HWEN flagged   – Gerald Piddock:

“Not our proposal at all’ says DairyNZ chair

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel is distancing the farming sector’s emissions proposal from the government’s, saying the two are fundamentally different.

There are similarities at first glance, but once the organisation started reading through the fine print, it found that the proposal contained big differences to the one outlined by He Eke Waka Noa (HWEN).

“As we have looked into it, and as we have looked at the details of the whole proposal, it’s become more obvious how different it really is. It is fundamentally different and is not our proposal at all,” Van der Poel said. . .

Fonterra unhappy with government’s emission proposal – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra says it has some reservations about the Government’s consultation document on agricultural emissions.

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride had told co-op shareholders that the Government proposal creates “an imbalance within the sector”.

McBride sent an email to shareholders after addressing a primary production select committee in Parliament this morning.

He told Fonterra farmers that Fonterra supports the intent of He Waka Eke Noa – a partnership of 13 members of the agriculture industry, including DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ. . .

QE II celebrates milestone, reaching 5000registered open space covenants :

An 8.9-hectare forest that landowners the McDonald family call ‘The Gorge’, has officially become the 5000th area in New Zealand to be protected with an Open Space Covenant in partnership with the QEII National Trust.

Toby and Charlotte McDonald and their family hosted other local QEII covenantors and local community members at their farm in rural Wairarapa on Wednesday to celebrate the milestone, right next to the newly protected forest.

The newly registered Open Space Covenant protects modified primary forest and a stream system that feeds into Wainuioru River.

The forest contains rare and threatened species including Olearia gardneri(Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable). It also contains one of the few rimu remaining in the district and is home to pōpokotea (whitehead), a Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable species. . . 

Wet weather crop delays costing arable farmers winter and money  :

Wet weather in parts of the North Island over the past few months has been causing huge issues for farmers and growers, who have had to delay planting valuable crops.

A cold snap earlier this month froze the asparagus crop of one of the country’s largest growers, Boyds Asparagus, in Waikato and strawberry crops on the outskirts of Hamilton were decimated by heavy frost.

In Horowhenua, heavy rain and flooding has also delayed potato planting, with growers forced to wait until their fields dry out before planting new crops.

And the variable weather is affecting arable crops too, with farmers also having to delay planting their maize and fodder crops. . . 

Get paid to work in one of the world’s most beautiful places – Andrea Vance:

Working from home could prove difficult – but the daily commute might involve a jet boat or helicopter ride. And your direct reports would include some of the world’s rarest creatures.

It’s a dream job – patrolling some of the world’s most spectacular wilderness, and caring for kiwi, penguins and lizards on the front line of extinction.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is on the hunt for a biodiversity supervisor in Haast, on the western edge of Mount Aspiring National Park.

But in a nation-wide labour market shortage, there have been just three applicants so far for the role, based in New Zealand’s most remote town. DOC are now casting the net wider. . . 

 

Shared knowledge ‘magic ingredient’ – Gordon Davidson:

Farmers and crofters learning from each other is the ‘magic ingredient’ needed to expand sustainable farming practices in Scotland.

So says Nikki Yoxall, of Grampian Graziers and Pasture for Life, who will be speaking at a public webinar about the progress of agroecology in Scotland on November 11.

Over 60 farmers and crofters from Aberdeenshire to Galloway are already meeting up in small local groups to explore sustainable farming practices, from Scottish-grown poultry feed to mob grazing, and discussing how they can improve the financial bottom line. November’s webinar is being presented as the first of a number of upcoming opportunities for other farmers to join them.

“We are learning by doing and trying things out,” said Ms Yoxall. “Being part of a group helps – we get to share what works well, what are the sticking points. Different practices suit different farms, and often you don’t know what will work well until you – or your neighbouring farm – give it a go.” . .


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2022

Research set to improve safety over calving – Bronwyn Wilson:

Research into sprain and strain injuries over calving has identified some simple ways farmers can reduce injuries on dairy farms.

The three-year DairyNZ project, funded in partnership with ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, is researching the causes of sprains and strains on dairy farms – and developing practical solutions to reduce injuries.

“Around 40 percent of injuries on dairy farms are sprains and strains, with the highest risk from August to October. As calving progresses, fatigue can set in and increase injuries,” says DairyNZ senior scientist and research lead, Dr Callum Eastwood.

As part of the Reducing Sprains and Strains project, 370 farmers were surveyed on how they managed health and safety, and whether injuries had occurred. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Mid Canterbury update – enhanced biosecurity measures in the Wakanui area :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme.

The M. bovis programme is now targeting the remaining known pocket of confirmed infection with depopulation starting on a mid-Canterbury feedlot in Wakanui and strict new biosecurity measures for the surrounding area.

Although further detections across the country are possible in future, the only properties known to have infected cattle are located in this small area, where there are three Confirmed Properties, including the feedlot.

M. bovis is known to be most commonly spread via direct contact between infected and uninfected cattle. However, despite recent thorough investigations, the programme has been unable to confirm the pathway(s) by which disease has been spreading in this area. . .

Gisborne drone spraying trial deemed a success – Hamish Barwick:

Gisborne based vegetable grower LeaderBrand recently trialled the use of drones for spraying at its Makauri Farm with positive results.   

LeaderBrand research agronomist Chris Lambert said the trial took place over three months during winter, an ideal time as the ground was too wet to operate a tractor on.

“We wanted to manage our weeds in winter. Rather than spray over a wide area, which is a big waste of chemicals, the drone was able to target weed clumps.”  

He said the advantage of drones is that they don’t compact soil like tractors do and they’re also more agile than helicopters. . . 

High-tech strawberry farm aims high in Foxton – Country Life:

Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.

“Welcome to our secret laboratory,” Matthew Keltie says.

Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.

A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes. . . 

Meryn Whitehead wins 2022 Young Grower of the Year national final :

Meryn Whitehead, a 28-year-old supervisor at Vailima Orchards, has won the national title of 2022 Young Grower of the Year, held in Nelson.

“It is a real privilege to be named the winner of this year’s competition, especially given the impressive talent on display,” says Meryn.

Meryn was one of six contestants that vied for the grand title in a series of practical and theoretical horticulture modules across two-days. The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrating their success in the industry.

Despite being Meryn’s second year entering the competition, she says the experience has been nonetheless valuable. . . 

Proposed Bill would support wine tourism in New Zealand :

New Zealand Winegrowers is thrilled the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill, proposed by Stuart Smith MP, has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today.

New Zealand Winegrowers has had longstanding concerns about aspects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act as they apply to winery cellar doors. This Bill would help to address some of our key concerns for wineries.

We congratulate Stuart Smith MP on having this Bill drawn from the ballot. As the Member of Parliament for New Zealand’s largest wine region, he understands first-hand the importance of this proposal.

Winery cellar doors are an important part of wine tourism, yet the current legislation does not permit wineries holding an off-licence to charge for tastings. “The current legislation is out of date,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “It either forces wineries to give wine away for free, or forces them to go through significant cost and time to acquire and maintain a separate on-licence.” . . 


Rural round-up

22/09/2022

Finalists announced for prestigious Trans Tasman Agricultural Award :

The Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced their 2023 Award finalists, comprising of six passionate young professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

Now in its ninth year, the coveted award recognises future leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around tailored mentoring and education. The six talented finalists – three from Australia and three from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making to the primary sector. One winner will be chosen from each country.

The New Zealand finalists are Harriet Bremner, 33, author and health, safety and wellbeing advocate for Rural New Zealand, and farmer at Jericho Station, Southland; Jacques Reinhardt, 34, Station Manager at Castlepoint Station Wairarapa; and Monica Schwass, 31, Future Farming Manager at The NZ Merino Company, based in Christchurch.

The Australian finalists are Charles Vaughan, 29, Queensland Operations Coordinator/Group Veterinarian for Australian Cattle Enterprises and Director of Charles Vaughan Veterinary Services Pty Ltd; Mitch Highett, 33, Founder and Managing Director of farm management company Bullseye Agriculture, from Orange NSW; and Sarah Groat, 34, Development Officer for government Agtech programme “Farms of the Future”, for the Department of Primary Industries, who lives on the family farm near Rankin’s Springs NSW. . . 

Asparagus growers hoping to overcome flooding troubles ahead of harvest :

The asparagus harvesting season has just begun, but some growers’ fields are still partly underwater from recent flooding.

It’s hoped this season will outperform last year’s, when just a third of the spears were harvested because Covid lockdowns disrupted the restaurant trade right up until Christmas.

Cam Lewis of Horowhenua’s Tendertips Asparagus said they cranked up their packhouse last week, but they had to get to the produce first.

“There’s still quite a few of our paddocks underwater at the moment, but we’re hoping for a good spring,” he said. . . 

Feds MP face off in John Luxton memorial match – Hamish Barwick :

Three Federated Farmers board members make up the front row of the dairy sector rugby team in this Saturday’s John Luxton Memorial Match in Morrinsville.

Facing off against MPs and parliamentary staff, the rugby match is a memorial for the late Hon John Luxton, the founding chair of DairyNZ and former Agriculture Minister. A netball game is also held in Luxton’s memory.

“We’ve got a full front row from Federated Farmers – president Andrew Hoggard, vice-president Wayne Langford and dairy chair Richard McIntyre – and I’ll be pulling on my boots to play on the wing,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

In the rugby team, Southland farmer Tangaroa Walker is flying up to pull on the number 8 jersey – Tangaroa runs his own Farm4Life programme with how-to information for people starting out in dairy farming. Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award winner Quinn Morgan will be playing mid-field – Morgan takes an active role encouraging other young people to join the sector. . . 

A fair shears share on both sides of the Tasman :

New Zealand wool harvesting trainer Elite Wool Industry Training has taken a big step to address global shortage of skilled woolshed labour by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with two of Australia’s major players in the industry.

The other parties are woolgrower-owned Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Australia’s largest shearing and wool handling training organisation, SCAA Shearer Wool Handler Training (SCAA SWTI).

The MOU is in response to the global shortage of shearers and skilled woolhandlers, which New Zealand wool and sheep meat producers have endured for the past two years, resulting in the costs of shearing increasing by at least 15-20 per cent. . . 

Land Co head: slow investors forcing us toward offshore investors :

Local investors are sitting on their hands, an NZX-listed land management company says, and they are now on the hunt for foreign investors.

NZ Rural Land Management (NZL) chair Rob Campbell said in the company’s annual report that its manager had been doing an ‘excellent job’.

The initial public offering of shares (IPO) were followed by a record full year net profit and a strong increase in the value of shares.

The entity was created to manage the new NZ Rural Land Company Limited (NZRLC), which buys rural land to lease to farming operators. It first listed on the NZX in late 2020. . .

Parasitic worm pesticide approved for use :

A new pesticide to combat parasitic worms in carrots, kūmara, parsnips, and potatoes has been approved for use in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Plant-parasitic worms, or nematodes, are considered a major risk to some of our most popular root vegetables, with producers sometimes experiencing complete crop failure from the damage they cause.

The applicant, Adama New Zealand Limited, said Nimitz will be an important tool to ensure the economic viability of these important crops.

“EPA staff conducted comprehensive risk assessments and found the risks to people and the environment to be negligible, with appropriate rules in place,” says Dr Lauren Fleury, Hazardous Substances Applications Manager. . . 


Rural round-up

16/09/2022

Up a creek – Rural News:

The agriculture sector is continuing to find the rocky road to a solution to ag emissions may be paved with good intentions, but the outcome is a mess.

Ever since the formation of the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, made up of 11 sector groups, as well as Māori and the Government, it has courted controversy and struggled to get farmer buy in.

The partnership’s He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) current recommendations for mitigating agricultural emissions now appear to be up a creek without a paddle.

HWEN has struggled for farmer support from the very start. The partnership – especially the primary sector groups – have done a poor job in communicating with farmers. They have also been arrogant and dismissive of ongoing farmer concerns. . . .

Carbon credits are not created equal – Keith Woodford:

Carbon offsets are fundamental to New Zealand’s greenhouse-gas policies. However, not all offsets are created equal. That sets the scene for all sorts of games to be played, with winners and losers. This is further complicated by marketing ploys that can lack transparency as to what is actually being bought and sold, and where the credits have come from.

Understanding something about carbon offsets is fundamental to understanding the current drivers of forestry in New Zealand. Offset rules also lie at the heart of whether sequestration credits have official status.

At an official level, carbon offsets in New Zealand operate through the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  Within this scheme, emitters purchase credits that have been allocated by Government to other people as a reward for sequestering carbon, typically through carbon forestry.

The current price for those credits, set by supply and demand in the market place, is about $85 per tonne of carbon.  . . 

Passing the ball to young Maori in ag recruitment drive – Charlie Williamson :

Sports event will see MPs face-off against dairy farmers and industry leaders.

DairyNZ is organising a memorial sports event with the aim of attracting young Māori into the dairy sector. 

The John Luxton Memorial Event will feature local dairy farmers, sector leaders, MPs and a former All Black facing off in light-hearted but competitive rugby and netball games. 

A dairy sector netball and rugby team, including local parents, children, grandchildren and others from rural communities will face off against parliamentary teams consisting of MPs and parliamentary advisors.  . . 

 

New markets for venison and more productive deer farms :

The deer farming industry is celebrating the success of a strategy that has resulted in successful venison market development in China and a retail breakthrough in the United States. It has also resulted in increased productivity on deer farms.

Known as Passion2Profit (P2P), it aimed to convert the passion that farmers have for their deer into greater farm profitability. Seven years and $14 million later it has resulted in the development of major new markets for venison and greater productivity on deer farms.

P2P was part of government’s Primary Growth Partnership programme and was funded 50/50 by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Deer Industry NZ.

Independent programme chair, Bruce Wills, says venison marketers have done what he describes as a “fabulous job” pivoting to retail, with prices well on the way to recovering from a Covid induced slump. . . 

Golden opportunity for Scott technology with Silver Fern Farms :

Scott Technology (NZX:SCT) is pleased to announce the signing of a multi-million dollar contract with one of New Zealand’s leading producers of premium red meat, Silver Fern Farms.

The $11.2 million investment will see Scott deliver a fully automated lamb processing system for the Silver Fern Farms Finegand plant in South Otago, designed to deliver exceptional product quality and increased yield of high value cuts.

Scott Technology CEO, John Kippenberger, says that they are delighted to be partnering once again with one of New Zealand’s most iconic meat producers and exporters.

“Silver Fern Farms is an enduring partner of Scott Technology. In the late 2000s we worked in collaboration to develop an early iteration of our automated lamb processing technology. The new primal system utilises advanced x-ray and vision technology to deliver even higher accuracy cutting, while also enabling important improvements in health and safety by removing much of the manual heavy cutting activity.” . .

Dutch farmers topple Agriculture Minister leading radical climate agenda – Frank Bergman:

The Netherlands’ agricultural minister Henk Staghouwer has been forced to resign following widespread protests from Dutch farmers over his radical climate agenda that seeks to destroy their livelihoods.

Staghouwer was leading the Dutch agriculture ministry’s climate policy that involved confiscating farms in a forced government buy-out scheme.

In the wake of the huge protests from farmers, Staghouwer has now been forced to step down.

He told the Dutch cabinet that pushback from farmers had meant he would not be able to meet a September deadline for rolling out the government’s radical green policy, the AP reported. . .


Rural round-up

15/09/2022

What the ‘F’ is going on? – Mark Daniel:

Rabobank’s Emma Higgins recently outlined some of the current headaches facing the agriculture sector.

At the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) Conference, held in Christchurch, she focused on a number of ‘F’ words – freight, fuel, fertiliser, feed, folk and farmer spending.

Higgins looked at the state of the global shipping industry and what had happened pre- and post-Covid, covering a period from early 2018 to June 2022. She explained that during the pre-Covid era, freight rates had remained largely static with most companies making little or no margin. However, since early 2020, rates had skyrocketed, alliances and consolidations had become the norm and major players were reporting margins approaching 40% or more.

Higgins warned those needing to ship goods in or out of the country not to expect freight costs to return to pre-Covid levels, even though there had been a recent softening of rates. She also noted there is an ongoing problem with scheduling reliability – boats arriving on time. Pre-Covid this was typically at 85%, but more lately was sitting at 35%. . . 

Many flow-on effects if scroll plains classified as wetlands – Shawn McAvinue:

A Maniototo Basin farmer fears proposed new freshwater rules will remove an important tool used to protect a unique scroll plain.

Puketoi Station owner Emma Crutchley said her nearly 3000ha sheep, beef and arable farm was often dry.

About 350mm of rain fell each year on the farm, which is about a 20-minute drive southwest of Ranfurly.

When it tips down, the overflow of the meandering Taieri River transforms a low-lying area of her farm to a “large, slow-moving lake”. . . 

Winter crop consent logjam ‘could reach 10,000’ – Neal Wallace:

Delays in finalising freshwater farm plans threaten bureaucratic snarl-up.

An estimated 10,000 farmers may require resource consent to intensively winter stock on crops next year.

A meeting this week between farming groups and the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) will confirm if a compromise can be found to the consenting requirement, which many fear will overwhelm regional council staff.

It has been estimated that 2000 farmers in Southland and 1000 in Waikato will require resource consent, and farming leaders calculate that nationally, potentially a further 7000 may also need consent. . . 

Ex-Feds dairy boss makes it 3-way battle for DairyNZ board seats – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers leader Chris Lewis is one of three candidates confirmed for DairyNZ director elections.

The Waikato farmer will take on sitting directors Tracy Brown, Waikato and Elaine Cook, Bay of Plenty, both retiring by rotation and seeking re-election.

Voting starts September 19 and ends on October 17. Results will be announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Invercargill the next day.

Lewis, who milks 970 cows at Pukeatua, believes he will bring a farmer’s perspective to the board. . . 

Vets hold the line against M bovis – Mary van Andel :

Local vets are putting the country on track to be the world’s first to eradicate the disease.

Much of the work veterinarians do is behind the scenes but underpins aspects of our economy, environment and way of life. Across New Zealand, veterinarians provide valuable technical expertise and are recognised as trusted advisers on a range of issues, including animal health and welfare, and disease surveillance and investigation. They play a key role in our biosecurity system.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the private veterinarian who first identified Mycoplasma bovis in NZ in 2017. Since those early and often difficult days, private veterinarians have made a significant contribution in identifying the index case and reporting cases of suspected disease, as well as undertaking on-farm testing and supporting their clients affected by the eradication programme. 

If it had been left unchecked, M bovis could have cost the industry $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns. As we near the halfway mark of our estimated 10-year eradication programme, we are aiming to move from controlling the last known pockets of the disease, to provisional absence. We are on track to become the first country to eradicate M bovis.

An important part of my role at the Ministry for Primary Industries is to identify ways to build relationships that bind our animal health community together to enable successful biosecurity partnerships. MPI is NZ’s largest employer of veterinarians, with 300 working in five of the nine business units, across all regions, including overseas postings.  . . 

Ploughwoman qualifies for national champs – Shawn McAvinue:

Southland ploughwoman Tryphena Carter is going to the National Ploughing Championships next year.

The Waimea Ploughing Club member qualified for the nationals on the first day of the Middlemarch, Taieri and Tokomairiro ploughing matches in Strath Taieri.

“That’s really exciting,” Carter said.

She got podium finishes in the conventional class on all three days — the Tokomairiro match in Sutton on August 26 and the Taieri and Middlemarch matches in Middlemarch on August 27 and 28 respectively. . . 


Rural round-up

25/08/2022

Dairy farmers hit hardest as fuel, fertiliser costs surge :

Cost inflation in the rural sector hit boiling point over the past year, but is expected to reduce to a simmer, an agricultural economist says.

Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny said input prices across all farm and orchard types, skyrocketed 13.7 percent in the 12 months to June.

That rise came on top of a record high annual charge of 9.9 percent in June.

Penny said those increases were driven by several factors, but they were all essentials that farmers could not really do without. . . 

Farmers bearing the brunt of rising costs :

“If the Government wanted to try and lower prices at the checkout, it should reduce the regulatory burden that is rising production costs on farm,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson and Ruawai Dairy Farmer Mark Cameron.

“Rabobank has warned that rising costs on-farm will flow into higher costs for consumers, while slimmer margins for farmers will also mean less spending within rural communities. They have also described farmer confidence as being the lowest on record since the pandemic began.

“Granted, some cost increases are driven by global issues, but the Government’s regulatory onslaught has a compounding effect that is totally unnecessary and makes life tougher for farmers. Not to mention the rampant inflation brought about by Labour’s economic mismanagement.

“Freshwater reforms, winter grazing rules, Zero Carbon Act, limiting migrant workers, other ideological climate policies, Significant Natural Areas, taxes on utes… The list goes on. Farmers have taken a hammering from this government. . . 

 

Calls for hold on winter grazing rules :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has called for winter grazing rules to be put on hold until November 2023.

Under the new regulations, which were released late last year, farmers who graze livestock on an annual forage crop over winter, and do not meet a range of permitted activity criteria, are required to either gain a certified Freshwater Farm Plan or to apply for resource consent from 1 November 2022.

The industry good organisation, along with DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, wrote to Environment Minister David Parker, calling for a delay and asking him to work with the sector on a practical solution in the interim.

It’s not the first time B+LNZ have raised the issue. . . 

Safer Farms welcomes new CEO :

Agricultural industry safety group Safer Farms is excited to introduce its new Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lyndsey Dance.

Dr Lyndsey Dance takes up her new role in September following seven years at Stats NZ, most recently on the Executive Leadership Team as the General Manager of Strategy and Investment.

She is the first Chief Executive Officer of Safer Farms and comes onboard as the group finalises its Farm Without Harm strategy to protect farming people from preventable harm, every day.

The agriculture sector is one of the most dangerous places for New Zealanders to work, with high harm statistics and 17 workplace deaths a year. . . 

Support a disease outbreak response by signing up to MYOSPRI:

Sheep farmers are being encouraged to play their part in protecting the industry from exotic diseases by signing up to the new online portal MyOSPRI.

Over 1000 sheep farmers have already ditched paper-based Animal Status Declarations (ASDs) and are now using MyOSPRI to send both farm-to-farm and farm-to-meat processor electronic Animal Status Declarations (eASDs).

The eASDs provide accurate, reliable and readily accessible data about movements of sheep mobs and where farms and other places animals have been or are located.

In any future response, rapid access to accurate information about animal movements will be vital for minimising the size of any potential future outbreak. . . 

 

 

Farmers get opportunity to tune into top minds :

This month farmers have the opportunity to access the knowledge of some of their industry’s leading thinkers, in a new podcast series covering everything from grazing to governance.

“The Tune Up” is produced by farm reporting software company, Trev. Formed in 2018, Trev is designed to help better collate, organise, and report on critical farm KPIs to provide owners, staff, rural professionals, and shareholders with actionable farm business information and insights for decision making.

CEO Scott Townshend says the podcast series has provided an opportunity for Trev to tap into its deep network of respected industry leaders, happy to share their knowledge.

“I’m sure everybody will recognise some or even all of the podcast guests. But for many of us, having access or the time off-farm to chat with these people is difficult so it’s great to be able to share their wisdom and insights with a wider audience.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/08/2022

‘Wet Coast’ cow cockies say ‘get off the grass’ to new rules – Lois Williams:

When stock wintering rules designed to protect waterways were imposed on a century-old South Island dairying property, the owners bet their nest egg on building an enormous barn

It wasn’t the mother of all floods in 2013 that convinced West Coast dairy farmers Matt and Carmel O’Regan to move their cows indoors.

Nor was it the latest summer deluge in February, when the old flood gauge at Inangahua Landing vanished from sight under muddy waters, along with thousands of hectares of farmland.

After three generations at Coal Creek, the family is used to floods. . . 

Time for Kiwi arable farmers to shine – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand arable farmers are using science and technology to produce good food for the least impact, it’s time this was recognised, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Three-quarters of the bread sold in New Zealand is made from grain grown overseas.

This might be a surprise to some people, but, like the 60 per cent of pork products (85 per cent of ham and bacon) consumed in New Zealand but not produced here, overseas countries can sometimes operate more cheaply than we can in New Zealand.

Sometimes that is because of environmental conditions enabling greater yields, and sometimes it is standards in regulations around environment, welfare and employment that make the difference. Sometimes it is everything. Labelling doesn’t always make origin clear. . . 

Wetland rules threaten access to Defence Force, electricity infrastructure – Emma Hatton:

The Defence Force and electricity lines companies have become unintended allies as they both grapple with wetland rules that make it harder for them to access their own infrastructure

Rules brought in two years ago via the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and National Environmental Standards for Freshwater focused on protecting and restoring natural wetlands.

But groups including property developers, mining and quarrying companies and those with existing infrastructure in and around wetland areas argued they were too prohibitive.

The Ministry for the Environment consulted late last year and recently proposed changes that make concessions to some of the concerns, including creating consenting pathways for mining, quarrying and landfills. . . 

Leading the charge for wool – Sally Rae:

Last month, Greg Smith marked his first year as chief executive of carpet company Bremworth. He talks to business editor Sally Rae about his desire to help reinvigorate New Zealand’s strong wool industry. 

Growing up, a young Greg Smith never imagined he would end up running a carpet company.

Mind you, he also never contemplated jewellery as a career — “or woolly undies either”.

What he did want to do was the “right thing” and that was reinforced when he neared a key life stage — he turns 50 this year — and he contemplated what his children would say their father did. . .

Awards a morale boost for the arable industry says title winner :

The freshly-crowned Arable Farmer of the Year says winning the award was a surprise, but it is a confidence-booster.

David Birkett, who farms at Leeston, Canterbury, took out the title at last night’s New Zealand Arable Awards in Christchurch.

He said he was not expecting to win.

“The other finalists were exceptional people as well and it was a really tough competition,” he said. “I was surprised.” . . .

Government and Ngāi Tahu work together on regenative farming project – Sally Murphy:

Ngāi Tahu and the government have joined forces on a new project to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The seven year research programme will compare side-by-side dairy farms to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

One 286-hectare farm will use regenerative farming practices while the adjacent 330-hectare farm will use conventional methods.

Both farms will have a stocking rate of 3.2 cows per hectare. . .

Dying to Feed You: Grace suffered multiple broken bones – Johann Tasker:

Grace Addyman suffered multiple broken bones when she was hit by falling bales at her family farm.

She tells us what happened on that day, the difficult surgery that followed and how she considers herself the “luckiest unlucky person ever”.

It had been a wet summer and it was near the end of July. We’d cut the hay and it had been baled that day.

We were enjoying the weather, watching the baler go around the field and then bringing the hay in. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

28/07/2022

Devil in the detail of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

Free trade agreement’s finer points are still being worked out – and not all of them are going NZ’s way, says Beef+Lamb policy tsar.

Meat exporters are already facing a reduction in their new access to the European Union market, just weeks after New Zealand apparently concluded a free trade agreement with the bloc.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to Brussels in Belgium last month to clinch the deal with the EU after four years of negotiations.

But Beef+Lamb NZ’s general manager for policy and advocacy Dave Harrison said negotiations between the EU and NZ had not stopped with the PM’s announcement. . . 

Right time and right place(ment) – Leo Argent:

With labour shortages a grim reality for many farmers across the country – and no end in sight – recruitment agencies have seen demand increase drastically.

With offices in Timaru and Ashburton, overseeing areas ranging from Darfield to Invercargill, Wendy Robertson has run Personnel Placements (PPL) for 22 years, Gaye Scott oversees PPL’s agricultural team, which is involved in jobs ranging from dairy to meat to horticulture.

As a recruitment agency, PPL puts candidates on a database who can then be sent out for clients for work. Along with part-time and full-time jobs, agencies also cover permanent and temporary employment placement, saving clients the time and cost involved in interviewing prospective employees.

Robertson told Rural News that agriculture is an important part of her business’ success and that a large part of the agriculture team’s work is in seasonal jobs. . .

 

 

New Tech promises to make shearing sheep less of a drag – Tim Lee:

Australia’s shearer workforce has dwindled from about 15,000 when wool prices were booming in the 1980s to about 2800.

The pandemic has further reduced the small pool of skilled labour and woolgrowers who are struggling to get their sheep shorn.

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Jock Laurie said Covid had made the problem worse.

“The border closures have stopped people moving across borders and stopped the New Zealanders coming in,” Laurie said. . . 

Fonterra welcomes Milk-E New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker :

New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker, Milk-E, has been officially launched by the Minister for Energy and Resources, Hon. Dr Megan Woods, in Morrinsville.

Local Government, Iwi, Industry and Fonterra employees were also present to recognise the significant milestone in the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s heavy transport, while also recognising the team behind the build.

Named by Fonterra farmer Stephen Todd from Murchison, Milk-E is part of Fonterra’s fleet decarbonisation work, which is one of a number of programmes that’s helping the Co-op towards becoming a leader in sustainability.

“Right across the Co-op our teams are constantly looking at how we can decrease our emissions – from on farm, to at our sites and throughout our transport network,” said Chief Operating Officer, Fraser Whineray. . . 

Baseline set for subsurface irrigation trial :

While Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are disappointed not to have collected the data they were hoping for from their subsurface drip irrigation trial due to a wet summer, the couple have established a baseline for the next irrigation season which they hope will follow a more normal weather pattern to enable data collection.

Gary and Penny are participating in a farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

The subsurface drip irrigation system on their two-hectare test block in Cust consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . .

The Walking Access Commission changes its name:

Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, formerly the Walking Access Commission.

Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller. Herenga ā Nuku refers to the rich connections we find on the trail – with the whenua and its stories, with ourselves and with each other.

Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.

Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa – connecting people, connecting places. . .


Rural round-up

26/07/2022

Climate Change Commission pours reality on HWEN proposals – Keith Woodford:

Industry groups now need to decide how to manage the HWEN stand-off with the risk of being left outside the tent

Big decisions are now required, both by rural industry groups and Government, following the Climate Change Commission advice on the He Waka Eke Noa proposals (HWEN). The Climate Change Commission, chaired by Rod Carr, has supported some aspects of the HWEN proposals put forward by industry, but has poured cold reality on other aspects.

Beef+ Lamb and DairyNZ have responded by suggesting that it is all or nothing.  However, that is not going to wash with Government. Once again, the rural industry groups have challenging decisions to make as to whether they are inside the tent or outside the tent.

First, there is a key area of agreement which needs to be celebrated.  The Climate Change Commission supports the split-gas approach, with this being fundamental to keeping methane away from the Emission Trading Scheme.  Given this support, the Government can now be expected to align firmly with this.   But there is still a lot of hard work to be done on sorting out the pricing mechanism for methane. . . 

Calls for help over ‘exploding’ rabbit plague grow louder – Jill Herron:

A government agency has been instructed to crack down on an out-of-control rabbit population decimating lakeside land

Government-managed land in Central Otago with an “exploding” uncontrolled rabbit population is finally getting attention after the Otago Regional Council stepped in.

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has confirmed the council inspected land it manages near Cromwell and Lake Dunstan and found it has “unacceptable levels” of rabbits.

The agency, along with a number of land-holders, has received a council “request for work” letter as part of a reinvigorated effort to push back the tide of rabbits decimating lifestyle blocks, farms and crown land. . .

 

Use of cover crops encouraged :

Farmers who are intensively grazing forage crops are being encouraged to consider planting a catch crop to make use of the nutrients left in the paddock once grazing has finished.

Heather McKay, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Environmental Policy Manager, says farm-scale trials has shown that catch crops can reduce nutrient losses from the soil by up to 40% in some soil types.

“Sown as soon as ground conditions allow, catch crops such as oats or rye corn can be really effective at capturing nutrients and turning them into valuable drymatter.”

Trial work carried out by Plant & Food Research has shown oats to be an ideal catch crop in that they are cold tolerant and germinate at five degrees and above. They reduce water in the soil and capture soil nitrogen (N) left in the wake of winter grazing. . .

Kiwi-designed frost fighting machine gaining interest in France

A New Zealand-designed frost fighting machine that looks like a giant hair dryer could become hot property in France.

Hamilton engineer Fred Phillips, along with two colleagues, started working on the machine, called the Heat Ranger ten years ago.

It is a five-metre tall machine that heats up to between 300 and 600 degrees Celsius, and pushes out air that is 35 degrees C, protecting 15 hectares of grape vines.

In 2020 one machine was used in Blenheim and one in France. . . .

Covers give calves a jump start – Nigel Malthus:

A Christchurch manufacturer of woollen calf covers says his newest product should find favour with the dairy farmers of Southland – even though his main market is the beef ranchers of North America.

David Brown is promoting his Fit N Forget calf covers, made of hessian-reinforced wool. They are sized for the typical American black Angus beef calf, at 85kg liveweight and with leg holes more closely spaced than a dairy calf cover, to match their stockier build.

Selling online, his main market is in the northern states of Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota, with their particularly harsh winters.

But Brown also sees a market for them in New Zealand, even on dairy farms, whenever a farmer is not seeking dairy replacements but is using beef genetics to enhance the value of his calves. . . 

 

Laura Schultz is 2022 Bay of Plenty Young Grower of the Year:

Three outstanding women have taken out first, second and third place with Laura Schultz from Trevelyans named Bay of Plenty’s Young Grower for 2022 at an awards dinner in Tauranga last night.

The competition took place yesterday, 20 July, at Mount Maunganui College, where eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful horticulture business in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition titled ‘What I’ll be growing in 2050’, at a gala dinner last night.

Laura excelled in the individual challenges, and impressed judges with her speech on providing the best quality produce by adapting to climate change to grow crops which meet the changing environment. Yanika Reiter came in second place, while Emily Woods was third.

Laura’s prize includes an all-expenses paid trip to Wellington to compete for the title of National Young Grower of the Year 2022, in September, as well as $1,500 cash. . .

 


Rural round-up

19/07/2022

Welfare code changes to ‘harm viability of farming’ – Pam Tipa:

A proposed Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare is highly prescriptive and dictates what a farmer must do, rather than having an outcome that will need to be met, says Federated Farmers.

“We are concerned that the proposed code will harm the viability of farming, will have severe economic costs, and will probably not improve animal welfare outcomes,” the Feds say in a submission to MPI’s National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC).

It fears the proposed minimum standards will do nothing to improve animal welfare but may “criminalise farmers” by having standards that cannot be met and indicators that are open to interpretation.

The code as proposed is overly long and confusing in its structure; it will be difficult for farmers to convert it into practical action and processes on farm, the Feds say. . .

Go back to the drawing board – Pam Tipa:

DairyNZ wants the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to go back to the drawing board on many areas in its proposed Code of Welfare.

It then wants NAWAC to go back out to the industry including farmers for another round of consultation. It supports the code update for clarity, to incorporate recent animal welfare science and lift the bar in areas of the code where common practice surpasses previous standards.

But it does not support changes to the code that increase complexity and inhibit its value as a useful tool, the industry body says in its submission to the code.

DairyNZ wants NAWAC to review all of the proposed changes to minimum standards, example indicators and recommended best practice to align with the criteria in its own guidelines and those of MPI. . . 

Fighting the anti-meat narrative – Gerald Piddock:

A visiting United States dietician says the global anti-meat narrative being pushed in Western countries is elitist, unethical and can lead to poor nutritional outcomes for people.

This narrative, described by Diana Rodgers as a “big nasty snowball”, was a result of different forces coming together at once.

There were alternative meat companies making huge margins from promoting ultra-processed “garbage food”, while at the same time animal rights and environmental activists are wanting to end all animal agriculture.

The carbon argument was the only leg these companies could stand on, she told farmers and industry leaders at the Primary Industries of New Zealand Summit in Auckland. . .

More proposed rules – Joanna Grigg:

Farmers have until July 21 to give feedback on the national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity. Joanna Grigg reports.

They call it a full exposure draft, but it takes some reading to get a full idea of what the national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity looks like with its clothes off.

It will be the master handbook of guidelines, for all councils. The latest proposed version will now cover public land as well – including the Department of Conservation estate. Each region at present has its own ‘weather-system’ of rules – sunny in Northland but southerly in Southland. The aim of this new policy statement is a more consistent approach across New Zealand.

The draft policy is at the test stage. It is before the ministries for the environment and primary industries to test its workability for the farming community. . .

Why are store lambs under-priced? – Reece Brick:

The store lamb markets have a distinctly different look and feel compared with last year. 

Back then, prices were moving up in weekly chunks – the Feilding yards jumped $1-$1.20/kgLW in only five weeks and the paddock market followed a similar path, though not quite to the same extremes. 

Yet this year prices have remained static at best and even weakened in places. 

So what’s different? . . 

 

Cost of living crisis driving down meat sales:

The cost of living crisis is forcing consumers to cut back on their meat intake, according to AHDB analysis.

Inflation is now neck and neck with health as the top driver of meat reduction, the levy board says.

Consumers who believe that beef and red meat currently have good prices and offers has now reduced to only 10% and 6% respectively.

High prices are particularly damaging for cuts such as roasting joints and steaks where higher prices are a barrier for many consumers. . . 


Rural round-up

07/07/2022

Drop in volume but growth in value for New Zealand red meat exports :

New Zealand’s red meat sector overcame a significant drop in export volumes to achieve sales of $1.1 billion during May – a 28 per cent increase on 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

While the volume of sheepmeat exported was six per cent down compared to last May, the value was up 23 per cent to $456 million.

Beef export volumes increased one per cent year-on-year but value grew by 34 per cent to $484m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said that high values were helping to absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Let’s get real – Clive Bobby:

Why is that our leaders appear incapable of understanding the contributing factors involved in running a successful family business.

At a time when speculative decisions can have tragic consequences for the shareholders, one would hope that those who have responsibility for our survival maintain a tight control over the things that have been proven over time to matter. 

Yet the opposite appears to be true. 

We see the cornerstone industries of our economy – our agriculture industry in all its forms and the emasculated tourism industry bearing the brunt of the cost associated with our misguided pursuit of ideological purity and nobody seems to care.  . . .

Vege growers turn off the heat as coal and gas prices soar – Sally Murphy:

The soaring cost of energy such as coal and gas has led some indoor vegetable growers to turn off their heaters.

Many indoor growing operations use gas or coal boilers to heat their glasshouses.

There has been a nationwide shortage of commercial carbon dioxide supplies and the cost of using coal is going up.

Leanne Roberts sits on the board of Vegetables New Zealand and is a covered crop grower in Marlborough. . .

Grab your gumboots and go dairy:

Kiwis are being encouraged to join the dairy sector, as one-third of dairy farms seek to fill vacancies ahead of a busy calving season which begins in July.

Through a new GoDairy campaign, DairyNZ is looking to help recruit young Kiwis into dairy farm roles. Most young people enter the dairy sector in a farm assistant role and the campaign connects job seekers to the latest farm assistant vacancies across New Zealand.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Nick Robinson says the dairy sector offers job security and good career progression opportunities.

“Many existing skills are transferable to dairy farming and we welcome new people to consider a dairy career. The dairy sector currently has around 4000 vacancies,” Robinson says. . .

Sharing knowledge enables better farming decisions :

Fernside dairy farmer Julie Bradshaw says sharing scientific data in a way that was easily understandable and useful for farmers helped create close bonds between landowners and NIWA scientists during a five-year joint co-innovation study.

Julie is participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovative approaches to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

“It was a reciprocal relationship between our farmers and NIWA. They had no experience of dairy farming, but it worked because we were willing to listen to each other and NIWA had a genuine desire to provide us with data that was practical and helpful.”

Fellow co-innovation study group member Stu Bailey, a fourth generation Flaxton dairy farmer, says working with NIWA helped him to make better farming decisions, especially on irrigation. . .

 

New Zealand’s apiculture industry names top honey producers and honours outstanding achievements:

New Zealand’s best honey producers have been named at the Apiculture New Zealand National Honey Competition as part of the industry’s annual conference in Christchurch.

The conference hosted more than 750 delegates from the apiculture industry at the Te Pae Convention Centre, Christchurch on 30 June and 1 July. The National Honey Competition, held the day before the conference, featured products across a range of honey categories from creamed honey to chunky honey and cut honeycomb.

The 2022 Supreme Award winner was Timaru-based Jarved Allan of The Mānuka Collective, who took away the award for the second year in a row.

“There was consistently high quality across the board,” said head judge Maureen Conquer. She said the judges were impressed with the quality of honey, that is improving every year, and it was very difficult to choose the winners. The honeydew honeys, in particular, were of much higher quality this year, said Maureen Conquer. All entries were blind tasted, and an international scale of points was used to determine the winners across 12 main categories. . . 


Rural round-up

06/07/2022

On-farm GHG reductions come at a huge cost – Hugh Stringleman:

The cost of reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions on the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) in the 2022 season was 40% of operating profit compared with typical dairy farming in the Kaipara district.

The results of the first season of the four-year Future Farming Systems trial at Dargaville were released at the annual Northland Dairy Development Trust (NDDT) field day.

NARF’s farm and cows have been split into three equalised farmlets, with separate vats, to compare a typical Northland system with one that has 74% of land in tall fescue/cocksfoot-based pastures, and with a third designed to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets (see panel).

Financial analysis of the first season, using a $9.30/kg milk price, showed the “Current” farm was the most profitable with $5040/ha operating profit, followed closely by the Alternative Pastures farm with $4876/ha. . . 

Calling for fairer methane reporting and targets – Jim van der Poel & Andrew Morrison:

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are calling on the Government to give farmers a fair deal by using the latest and best science when setting methane targets.

While New Zealand farmers overall are reducing emissions, agriculture is currently being blamed for a far bigger share of New Zealand’s warming than it actually causes.

It’s important all sectors play their part, including agriculture, transport, energy, towns and cities.

The method the Government uses to calculate emissions data, GWP100, is accurate for carbon dioxide but hugely overstates the warming impact of methane. . .

Genetic rules mean NZ”s missing opportunities – Treasury  – Business Desk:

New Zealand is missing opportunities because of its regulatory barriers to genetic modification, Treasury secretary Caralee McLiesh says.

“The flipside of unlocking innovation through regulatory reform is regulation that constrains new technologies and ways of working,” she told the NZ Association of Economists annual conference at Victoria University of Wellington.

“While other advanced economies have embraced these techniques, our current regulatory barriers mean that we are missing opportunities – for example, to improve drought and disease resistance in plants, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from grazing animals and reduce fertiliser-use issues by improving disease resistance,” she said.

GM organisms and technologies are regulated under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO). . .

New history of sheep and beef sector launched :

A new history of New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector released this week outlines the achievements of the red meat industry over the past 25 years and its contribution to the national economy.

Meeting Change: the NZ Red Meat Story 1997-2022, written by Ali Spencer and Mick Calder, was commissioned by the New Zealand Meat Board (NZMB) to mark its centenary year.

It is the third in a series of histories of the sector, following Golden Jubileee edited by Dai Hayward (1972) and Meat Acts written by Janet Tyson and Mick Calder (1999).

The book was officially launched at an event last night at Te Papa in Wellington, attended by current and former Meat Board members and staff, and other key players in the sheep and beef sector. . .

Federated Farmers and NZ Thorough Breeders saddle up for mutual benefit :

A new partnership between Federated Farmers of NZ and the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (NZTBA) underlines the commitment of both organisations to helping their members be front-runners in caring for their animals and land.

“Farmers who join the Federation have long recognised we’re stronger together,” Feds CEO Terry Copeland says. “With thoroughbred breeders also joining the fold, we have a bigger pool of resources and greater strength to our voice in our advocacy to politicians, decision-makers and government departments.”

As landowners, there will already be NZTBA members who belong to Federated Farmers and the partnership agreement between the two organisations will strengthen and develop those ties.

“We have a lot in common,” Terry said. “Whether you’re a breeder of champion horses, a dairy or sheep farmer, you’re vitally interested in the welfare of your animals and being a good steward of your land. We’re all interested in ensuring government policies that affect our industries are sensible, practical and affordable.” . .

New Zealand’s primary sector need to get on the digital bus now :

New Zealand’s primary sector needs to get on the digital bus now or risk losing international market access

Trust Alliance New Zealand (TANZ) will showcase a new digital tool at the Primary Industries New Zealand conference on 6/7 July in Auckland, which is aimed at helping food and fibre exporters keep up with ever increasing international compliance standards.

The ‘digital compliance product passport’ is an international standard, data sharing technology where everyone across the sector is able to securely contribute, control, collate and protect their crucial farm data.

TANZ Executive Director Klaeri Schelhowe says “At the moment there is no easy mechanism for farmers and food producers to easily and directly input their farm’s data in a trustworthy way. The existing data exchange models are inefficient and a waste time which is why we have acted now to create a smarter way of collecting and sharing this important data.” . .


Rural round-up

04/07/2022

Dairy welfare code needs work – Gerald Piddock :

Farmer organisations have called the proposed changes to the code of welfare for dairy cattle as big, complex and overly prescriptive.

The scale of change outlined by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and presented to farmers last month is overwhelming, DairyNZ’s general manager for sustainable dairy David Burger says.

It was hard for farmers to assess the impact on their farm given the volume of change and the complexity of the document and the language used in it.

“Farmers are very concerned with it.” . . 

   AWDT chair steps down :

Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) chair Linda Cooper has stepped down after three years serving the charitable trust.

As part of its succession planning and maturing governance model, trustees Murray Donald and Keri Johnston have been appointed as co-chairs and took up their roles on 1 June.

Cooper has served the trust since mid-2019, leading it through further growth and extension of its impact across the primary sector, from farms to boardrooms.

“We’ve come through some challenging times with the pandemic over the past couple of years as we committed to investing in our programmes, and our women and men to help meet the future needs of the primary sector,” she says. . . 

Country Calendar uproar: Lake Hawea Station criticism is ‘raging tall poppy syndrome’ – Julia Jones:

This year hasn’t been short on emotion, debate and outrage, but the most surprising uproar for me has come from the Country Calendar episode on Lake Hawea Station.

I hadn’t seen the episode but started to see unhappy murmurs on Twitter on Sunday evening, then who could miss the onslaught that followed on Facebook. I was intrigued, wow, what terrible things had been said? How insanely outrageous was this episode? What epic conspiracies are being brewed up there in Hawea Station? I immediately checked out the episode.

After watching my first thought was, is that it? I wasn’t disappointed with the episode but couldn’t calibrate the incredibly negative comments with what I had just watched. So, I watched it again and took notes, I observed the language, the tone of conversation, noted the references to their own beliefs and listened hard to their philosophy. I don’t know Geoff and Justine Ross but after watching this I have a great deal of respect for them.

When did great business capability, strong values and following your belief system become offensive? . . 

Hawke’s Bay company now the world’s biggest scourer – Doug Laing:

The Hawke’s Bay-based company that is now the world’s biggest scourer of wool has committed $2.4 million aimed at helping New Zealand lead the way in the global wool market.

The investment comes in the form a contribution by WoolWorks, the sole-surviving scourer from 28 that once clogged the industry throughout the country and formed around what was best known as Hawke’s Bay Woolscourers.

The world’s biggest scourer by volume, it operates scours at Awatoto and Clive, and in the South Island at Washdyke. The contribution supports new industry-good organisation Wool Impact Ltd, which will work with brands and companies to get strong-wool products onto markets quickly and ultimately lift returns to farmers.

It comes as the sheep and wool industry starts bouncing back from declines which have seen the sheep population nationwide drop from its peak of 70 million in 1982 to 26 million last year – about two-thirds. . .

Predator Free 2050 on track to reach target says incoming boss :

The new boss of Predator Free 2050 says New Zealand is on track to reach the target and he is excited to be involved in the effort.

Rob Furlong, who has held leadership roles at The Whangārei District Council and Environmental Protection Authority, will take over the job as chief executive from Brett Butland on 11 July.

The government-owned charitable company was set up in 2016 to make a significant contribution to the government’s goal of removing possums, stoats and rats from Aotearoa.

Furlong said he always had a strong interest in the environment. . .        

 

The many uses of CRISPR: scientists tell all – Oliver Whang:

Smartphones, superglue, electric cars, video chat. When does the wonder of a new technology wear off? When you get so used to its presence that you don’t think of it anymore? When something newer and better comes along? When you forget how things were before?

Whatever the answer, the gene-editing technology CRISPR has not reached that point yet. Ten years after Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier first introduced their discovery of CRISPR, it has remained at the center of ambitious scientific projects and complicated ethical discussions. It continues to create new avenues for exploration and reinvigorate old studies. Biochemists use it, and so do other scientists: entomologists, cardiologists, oncologists, zoologists, botanists.

For these researchers, some of the wonder is still there. But the excitement of total novelty has been replaced by open possibilities and ongoing projects. Here are a few of them.

Cathie Martin, a botanist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, and Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men superhero team: They both love mutants. . .

Taranaki medicinal cannabis company secures lucrative export deal :

Medicinal cannabis company Greenfern Industries has secured a lucrative export deal that could be worth more than $1.6m.

The initial two-year agreement is an offtake order for the purchase of Greenfern’s Taranaki-grown medicinal cannabis.

An offtake agreement is a binding contract that formalises the buyer’s intention to purchase a certain amount of the producer’s future output.

Managing director Dan Casey said the cannabis will be for use in an overseas medicinal market and, depending on which chemotypes are supplied, could be worth in excess of NZD1.6 million over the contract’s duration. . . 


Rural round-up

31/05/2022

Labour’s economic mismanagement hurting farmers :

Grant Robertson’s refusal to rein in spending and take meaningful action to dampen inflation is piling pressure on primary industries, National’s spokesperson for Rural Communities Nicola Grigg says.

“This Labour Government has unleashed unprecedented levels of spending in last week’s Budget, with more than $9.5 billion in new spending forecast this year alone. To put it in context, they are now spending 68 per cent more, or an extra $51 billion per year, since coming into office.

“This out of control spending is putting huge pressure on the economy and is driving inflation to a record 30-year high, with the cost of farm inputs rising by 9.8 per cent since the March quarter last year.

“This week we saw another 50 basis point jumps in the OCR, the first back to back 50 point increase since the OCR was introduced – which has never happened before and will effectively double interest rates compared with last year. . . 

Farmers encouraged to make the most of wetlands :

A new guide has been developed to help farmers get the most out of wetlands on their land – and it features a case study that shows a wetland on one Waikato farm removed about 60 percent of nitrogen from the water it receives.

As more farmers look to reduce their environmental impact, there’s growing interest in re-establishing and constructing new wetlands.

Dairy NZ and NIWA, with guidance from the Fish and Game Council have teamed up to create a guide for farmers, which features a Waikato dairy farm as a case study.

Gray and Marilyn Baldwin developed a wetland on their 713 hectare dairy farm, where over 12,000 native plants were put in. . . 

 

Critical questions – Owen Jennings:

A number of critically important questions have been raised in recent discussions I have had with farmers about their greenhouse gas emissions. They deserve answers. The mainstream media ignore them preferring to bag the farming community saying they are getting off lightly and are not meeting their responsibilities.

Question 1. Why is Article 2 (b) of the Paris Agreement ignored when it states clearly that countries should not reduce food production in their pursuit of emission goals? Proposals that will reduce production by 15% or more violate the Agreement.

Question 2. Why are we taking unilateral action that will cut production in NZ that has the planet’s lowest carbon footprint when we know that other countries, with a worse record, will make up the shortfall leading to increased emissions overall?

Question 3. Why is 1990 used as a base date for measuring ruminant emissions when methane emissions only last 9 to 10 years in the atmosphere? Isn’t that deceptive? The Climate Change Commission showed clearly ruminant methane emissions are stable or falling slightly since 2005 which means farmers have achieved ‘net zero’ and are actually contributing to cooling the planet. The amount of methane from the farm in the atmosphere is falling. Farmers are heroes not villains. . . 

Pioneering viticulturist receives Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Award :

A stalwart of the Marlborough wine industry, Dominic Pecchenino, has been honoured by the board of Wine Marlborough with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award, which recognises service to the development of the Marlborough Wine industry, was presented to the viticultural consultant during the Winter Pruning Field Day held at Matador Estate today [Wednesday, 25 May].

Wine Marlborough General Manager Marcus Pickens says Mr Pecchenino has played a significant role in the development of Marlborough’s wine industry as a scientist and viticulturist.

He arrived in Marlborough from the US in 1994, as vineyard manager of Matador Estate – the very place where he was honoured with his award, almost 30 years later. . .

 

Olive oil pressers optimistic despite low olive oil produce :

Olive oil growers in Wairarapa are optimistic about the season’s harvest, despite some very wet weather to start with.

Leafyridge Olives manager and grower Craig Leaf-Wright said the weather had thrown growers a curveball.

“We’ve had a lot of rain in the Wairarapa since December, and then on and off since then, and that kind of skewed things a bit for people,” he said.

“Some people thought that their fruit was ripening earlier, I think it’s probably about on par, and some people believe it should be a bit later. . .

In Sri Lanka organic farming went catastrophically wrong – Ted Nordhaus & Saloni Shah:

Faced with a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis, Sri Lanka called off an ill-conceived national experiment in organic agriculture this winter. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised in his 2019 election campaign to transition the country’s farmers to organic agriculture over a period of 10 years. Last April, Rajapaksa’s government made good on that promise, imposing a nationwide ban on the importation and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and ordering the country’s 2 million farmers to go organic.

The result was brutal and swift. Against claims that organic methods can produce comparable yields to conventional farming, domestic rice production fell 20 percent in just the first six months. Sri Lanka, long self-sufficient in rice production, has been forced to import $450 million worth of rice even as domestic prices for this staple of the national diet surged by around 50 percent. The ban also devastated the nation’s tea crop, its primary export and source of foreign exchange.

By November 2021, with tea production falling, the government partially lifted its fertilizer ban on key export crops, including tea, rubber, and coconut. Faced with angry protests, soaring inflation, and the collapse of Sri Lanka’s currency, the government finally suspended the policy for several key crops—including tea, rubber, and coconut—last month, although it continues for some others. The government is also offering $200 million to farmers as direct compensation and an additional $149 million in price subsidies to rice farmers who incurred losses. That hardly made up for the damage and suffering the ban produced. Farmers have widely criticized the payments for being massively insufficient and excluding many farmers, most notably tea producers, who offer one of the main sources of employment in rural Sri Lanka. The drop in tea production alone is estimated to result in economic losses of $425 million. . . 


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