Rural round-up

03/10/2020

Project will identify marketing potential of regenerative agriculture – Allan Barber:

Earlier this year before lockdown B+LNZ announced its intention to conduct research into consumer attitudes to red meat produced using regenerative agriculture practices. This project has now been bolstered by an injection of financial support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and the involvement of the wine industry’s Bragato Research Institute which is keen to discover any potential for improving vineyard management, as well as evolving brand messaging across the wine industry.

B+LNZ’s purpose in conducting the research is to discover what RA, and as a result, the food produced from it mean to consumers in three major markets for our beef, lamb and venison. The research will explore the attitudes of consumers, retailers and experts in the USA, UK and Germany to identify how or if it can be defined in the New Zealand context, whether it can produce a premium and, just as relevant, what it implies for producers. An essential objective will be to determine how far current farming practice in this country conforms to the perception of RA in each of these markets. . . 

Ballance shareholders elect new director:

Dani Darke, one of six candidates vying for a spot on Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board of Directors, was announced as the successful North Ward candidate at the 2020 Annual shareholders meeting (AGM).

Andrew Morrison was also re-elected uncontested for the South Island Ward.

Newly elected Chair, Duncan Coull, congratulated Dani and Andrew, at last nights (30 September 2020) AGM. For the first time Shareholders were able to attend and participate in the AGM virtually and in person.

There are nine Ballance Directors, three independently appointed and six elected from North and South Island wards. . . 

Political panel webinar addresses rural health crisis:

On Tuesday evening, spokespeople from the four biggest political parties took part in the Rural Health Political Panel Webinar, convened by the Rural General Practice Network (the Network) and Mobile Health to address the crisis facing rural health and inequitable health outcomes for rural people, especially Māori. The webinar has been recorded and is available here.

The focus of the webinar was to give each Party the opportunity to respond to the Network’s Rural Health Election Manifesto and its three focus areas: workforce development, sustainable funding, and digital/connectivity.

There was a positive consensus from all four parties that rural health is important, and all indicated commitment to a rural health plan. . . 

Lifestyle blocks link town and country:

Despite the level of uncertainty Covid-19 has injected into everyday life globally, the New Zealand property market continues to remain strong and no more so than for rural lifestyle blocks.

Latest real estate data indicates just how strong this market has been for the past few tumultuous months. Sales for the three months to the end of August are up a massive 44 percent on the same period last year, at 2,354 properties sold. This marks the busiest sales period for over five years in the lifestyle block market.

Meantime year to date sales prove this is more than a blip, with the 7,298 properties sold to the end of August up six percent on last year. . . 

New research conducted by Lund University together with Tetra Pak presents four plausible scenarios for the future of the dairy industry​:

Tetra Pak and the Lund University School of Economics and Management have recently completed a joint study that presents four plausible scenarios for the future of the dairy industry. The study analyses six key global markets to examine the critical uncertainties of social environmental forces and technological transitions that could shift the dairy landscape in the next ten years.

Frederik Wellendorph, Vice President Business Unit Liquid Food, Tetra Pak said: “The Food & Beverage sector will undergo an enormous transformation over the next decade, with the dairy industry feeling this most acutely. Clearly, many challenges lie ahead – but there are plenty of opportunities for manufacturers too. The key to success in the new landscape will be in embracing flexibility and proactively responding to the wave of disruptive changes.”

Dr. Christian Koch, Lund University School of Economics and Management, said: “The global dairy industry is at the very heart of the global food transformation, and the contours of this transition are already starting to take shape. . . 


Rural round-up

08/07/2020

Let them eat wood – Dame Anne Salmond:

The farmers are right. As the price of carbon rises, the settings in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will make it more profitable to plant pine trees than to grow food (or native forests) in many parts of New Zealand.

On the East Coast, for instance, a landowner will be paid 10 times more by year 5 for planting pine trees instead of native forest, and farmland is going under pine trees in many places. With wool prices at historic lows, and rising carbon prices, this trend will only accelerate.

On highly erodible soils, the folly of planting shallow-rooted pine trees and clear-felling them every 25-30 years is obvious. Witness the tsunami of logs and sediment that have drowned streams, rivers, houses, fields, beaches and harbours in places like Tolaga Bay, Marahau, and many other parts of New Zealand.

With two-thirds of the forestry industry owned overseas, like the logs, the profits are exported, but the costs remain behind. Ravaged landscapes, wildling pines, roading networks wrecked by logging trucks, workers killed and injured in the forests. . . 

Farmer’s pitch to big biz: My land, your trees, planet’s gain –  Jo Lines-MacKenzie:

One farmer’s novel pitch to big firms to use her land for carbon offset tree planting is being touted as a win-win for both the business and agricultural sectors.

Federated Farmers says the idea could catch on and they could be the organisation to make it work.

The idea has been sparked by King Country farmer Dani Darke who posted a proposal on social media to offer up 10 hectares of her own land to plant native trees.

She pitched the idea to Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, Z Energy, and anyone else who wanted to participate. . . 

Strath Taieri the new food bowl of New Zealand – Sally Rae:

Strath Taieri is a traditional farming district, best known for sheep and beef cattle. But an irrigation proposal being mooted has the potential to see it diversify into other areas, including horticulture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Strath Taieri — the new Food Bowl of Dunedin?

That’s what the Strath Taieri Irrigation Company (STIC) believes could happen if the Taieri Catchment Community Resilience Project wins approval.

It is a project that has been talked about for decades but which, in recent times, has gained momentum, with an application for funding made to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Without reliable water, the future for the district would be bleak, STIC said.

And by bringing more irrigation water to the area and ensuring certainty of supply, there was potential for diversification of the traditional sheep and beef farming area into the likes of horticulture, as well as increasing productivity within existing farming operations. . . 

Direction of horticulture industry aligns with Fit for a Better World:

Horticulture New Zealand says the horticulture industry’s future focused strategies align well with what is proposed in Fit for a Better World

‘Horticulture is already well into the journey that has been identified and proposed in these reports, and this journey will continue,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Immediately post lockdown, our entire industry – comprising more than 20 different fruit and vegetable product groups – got together with key government departments to develop and implement a strategy and work programme that will see horticulture spearhead New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from Covid.

‘We are encouraged to see that the proposal identifies a key opportunity to accelerate the horticulture industry’s development, which fits perfectly with our own work. . . 

Low-methane ‘elite’ sheep breeding project finds success – AgResearch scientist – Eric Frykberg:

Low methane appears to be a breedable trait that does not affect economic value in sheep, and could lead to a cumulative 1 percent reduction in emissions each year, farmers have been told.

AgResearch scientist Suzanne Rowe told a webinar organised by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Council that research into such animals had been going on for a decade.

Rowe said a study of 1000 sheep divided into high emitting and low emitting animals found these traits were passed on to successive generations.

“After three generations we have 11 percent less methane per kilogramme of feed eaten,” she said. . . 

Bingara producers turn to embryos to breed back out of drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

Bingara producer Rhonda King and her 86-year-old father Alf were steaming ahead with their Speckle Park herd when back-to-back droughts crippled their momentum.

In January they had made the decision to sell the final remnants of their 300-head herd at Doctors Creek when rain came not long after and saved them from the decision.

With cattle prices soaring to record levels Ms King opted to use her lifetime travel savings to purchase embryos rather than replacement livestock and is hoping to breed her way back into business.

Their herd currently consists of about 90 Speckle Park including cows, heifers and bulls with an additional 11 Angus recipients purchased from another stud. . . 


Rural round-up

06/01/2020

Kiwi farmers calling on Anzac spirit to support bushfire-hit Australian counterparts – Michael Daly:

Kiwi farmers are being asked to show their Anzac spirit with a plan to offer relief to counterparts across the Tasman affected by bushfires.

Mates Nathan Addis and Mark Warren on Thursday night launched the Facebook page: NZ Farmers Offer Free Accommodation To Aussie Farmers From Bush Fire Zones. The name sums up their aim.

The plan was to sound out support for the idea among Kiwi farmers first before promoting it in Australia, Addis said. And support was coming in quickly. . . 

Year in Review: How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

 This opinion piece by King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke was one of The Country’s most popular reads of 2019. She wrote that she believed her community was under threat if the government’s Essential Freshwater policy passed into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . . 

Identifying ‘whodunit’ is a freshwater priority – Elizabeth McGruddy:

E coli monitoring tells us that bugs are in the water, but not where they came from. For that we need “faecal source tracking” tools to find out “whodunit”, writes Federated Farmers Senior Policy Adviser Elizabeth McGruddy.

The swimming season is upon us. Are our favourite swimming spots good to go? And if not, why not?

We know that most rivers are safe to swim, but some are not. Currently around 70 per cent of swimmable rivers (rivers with enough water to get wet in) are safe for primary contact. The national target is 80 per cent by 2030, and 90 per cent by 2040.

The Government’s latest freshwater proposals recommend that priority be given to the popular swimming rivers, during the swimming season. . . 

Rain-damage and cold weather hits Central Otago cherry stocks -Jo McKenzie-McLean:

Central Otago’s cherry season is off to a bad start with rain damaging crops, cold temperatures slowing ripening and bad picking conditions driving workers away.

Tim Jones, who is Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of Cromwell-based orchard 45 South, said the “tough” start to the season was one of the most challenging he had seen in his 25 years in the industry.

At 45 South, about 250 tonnes would typically be picked around the New Year period. This year, they picked 100 tonnes. . . 

Forgotten victims of the drought – Lindsay Cane:

OFFICIAL reports released in December show the impact of the drought on our economy and agricultural sector will linger for up to a decade.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) latest forecast show farm production is expected to fall significantly with rebuilding expected to take a decade. And that depends on rain.

The bushfires and drought have taken a toll on many people financially and emotionally.

But one of the most worrying and often unacknowledged aspects of this drought is the long lasting impact on our children. This too will take time to address. And that will depend on urgent action being taken. . . 

Rejoice the earth is becoming greener – Matt Ridley:

Amid all the talk of an imminent planetary catastrophe caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, another fact is often ignored: global greening is happening faster than climate change. The amount of vegetation growing on the earth has been increasing every year for at least 30 years. The evidence comes from the growth rate of plants and from satellite data.

In 2016 a paper was published by 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries that analysed satellite data and concluded that there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation over 30 years. The study attributed 70% of this increase to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lead author on the study, Zaichun Zhu of Beijing University, says this is equivalent to adding a new continent of green vegetation twice the size of the mainland United States.

Global greening has affected all ecosystems – from arctic tundra to coral reefs to plankton to tropical rain forests – but shows up most strongly in arid places like the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification has largely now reversed. This is because plants lose less water in the process of absorbing carbon dioxide if the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher. Ecosystems and farms will be less water-stressed at the end of this century than they are today during periods of low rainfall. . . 


Rural round-up

29/10/2019

How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke says her community is under threat if the government’s Essential Water policy passes into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . .

Farmers only lukewarm on plan :

Farmer and new Environment Canterbury councillor Ian Mackenzie is cautious in his enthusiasm for the Government’s about-turn on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a world-first government-industry partnership the Government has backed down on taxing farmers and brokered a deal with the agricultural sector to manage and mitigate on-farm emissions.

It will avoid farmers being included in the ETS if they can commit to a new sector-led plan.

“Clearly, this is good news but it doesn’t necessarily send me skipping across the spring green paddocks with joy,” Mackenzie, an Ashburton cropping and livestock farmer, said. He was also Federated Farmers environment spokesman and a member of the Land and Water Forum. . .

MIA big guns next up in China – Alan Williams:

It follows a successful visit by a smaller technical team in late September that made clear NZ’s keenness to partner with the Chinese industry to help modernise and improve supply chain systems, including cold store infrastructure, the association’s trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva said. . .

 

Synlait Milk buys Canterbury’s Dairyworks :

Synlait Milk is buying Canterbury’s Dairyworks for $112 million as part of its push into the consumer market.

The speciality milk producer said Dairyworks was a good fit for its everyday dairy strategy, and complemented the recent purchase of cheese manufacturer Talbot Forest.

Dairyworks supplied New Zealand with almost half of its cheese, a quarter of its butter, as well as milk powder and Deep South ice-cream. . .

90-year-old Northland Kiwifruit farmer feeding the world – Susan Botting:

Northland grower Zela Charlton, 90, enjoys feeding the world from her Glenbervie kiwifruit orchard.

“My reward is feeding the people of the world. Even if it’s a bit of a luxury, kiwifruit is a very nourishing food,” Charlton said.

The nonagenarian loves kiwifruit – both green and gold.

“You can’t imagine what a perfectly ripe kiwifruit taken straight off the vine tastes like – it’s out of this world.” . . 

Win for prime agrcultural land – Mitchel Clapham:

NSW Farmers has lobbied long and hard to protect our prime agricultural land and water resources in the face of increased mining and CSG activity.

On May 1, 2012, NSW Farmers spearheaded the ‘Protect our Land and Water Rally’ in Macquarie Street, joining with many other organisations like the CWA to galvanise support for local food and fibre production.

In response, the state government developed a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and Gateway process, which was supposed to map and protect Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL), which comprises only 3 per cent of NSW. . .

 


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