Rural round-up

29/06/2021

At last – a paper that recognises climate and nutrition, with GWP* thrown in too – Andrew Hoggard:

Very recently a scientific paper was put out looking at the greenhouse gas and nutritional impacts of replacing meat in the average diet. The paper Lifetime Climate Impacts of Diet Transitions, with input from a number of very well respected scientists across a range of fields, found that the emissions reductions for a person who abstained from meat for a lifetime were very small – only 2 to 4%.  It also highlighted the risk of them missing out on key nutrients.  

It wasn’t so much the findings of this paper that I am most interested or excited by, rather the methodology that went into it. Two items really stick out: firstly, the fact that the paper includes nutrition understanding as well as climate science. Far too often when the subject of agricultural emissions come up, the full picture/understanding is omitted in favour of a narrow, siloed view.  

The problem with this approach is that it fails to recognise choices are never as simple as portrayed. For example, if we get rid of all animal agriculture and only have plant-based ag, what happens to all the crop waste? Think of the most common plants we grow for food: how much of that plant is consumed by humans? Quite often, less than half.  The rest we can feed to animals, which convert it into edible protein.  . . 

‘Shearing sheep was in my blood’ – David Hill:

An eight-month student exchange was enough to convince Diane Webster that New Zealand was the place to be.

The Dunsandel-based shearing contractor first visited New Zealand from the United Kingdom on a student exchange in the 1980s.

“I had always been in sheep farming. My dad was a sheep farmer and a stock truck driver and he used to shear sheep in the summertime, so shearing sheep was in my blood.”

She learned to shear while at agricultural college in the UK and when she first came to New Zealand, the host farmer encouraged her to do a shearing course so she could shear in this country, too. . . 

Hospo  life quite a ride – Ashley Smyth:

Hospo life seems to sit well with former Manuwatu farmers Craig and Blanche Sturgess.

It has been a “learning curve” for the couple, who bought the former Enfield School in 2016, converting the classrooms into a welcoming home, with bed and breakfast accommodation.

“We came from farming, which is not an easy lifestyle, so we’ve never been afraid of work, that’s for sure. And that’s just as well, because it is undoubtedly more work than I had thought it would be, but certainly not more work than we can handle,” Mr Sturgess said.

The business was perfectly placed on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Visitors tended to stop off after the long cycle from Kurow, and before the last push to Oamaru the next day. . . 

Husky health, dogsled tours and frostbite checking central to vet student’s win – Lauren Hale:

Working 12+ hour shifts outdoors in bitter Northern winter temperatures of minus 45 degrees, would send most school leavers shuddering under their duvets, but not Agcarm’s most recent scholarship winner, Gemma Neve.  The Massey University student, originally from Australia’s iconic Bondi beach, not only embraced the challenge of working with huskies in Finland but thrived on it.  Realising “an obsession with the North and the Northern Lights”, she secured a winter job-stay at a husky farm in Lapland. “Within a week, run ragged by long days with no sunlight, feeding 250 dogs, running dog teams and constantly wiggling my toes to slow the frostbite down,” she says she knew she was staying.

The dogs and the wilderness captivated Gemma and her initial three-month stint at Hetta Huskies kennel farm turned into five years – braving every winter there. Initially employed as a dog handler, Gemma soon progressed to guiding dogsled tours and being responsible for clients and dogs in her sole care for up to five days. “I enjoyed introducing people from all over the world to the wilderness. It was a lot of responsibility. You would go from one hut to the next, with all the gear.” She spent some summers travelling, including two stints working for a New Zealand sled dog company in the Cardrona Valley.

Taking on the challenge of managing the health, welfare and nutrition of 250 sled dogs in her second year at the kennel, located in the far north of Finland – high in the Arctic Circle, Gemma started running and documenting health checks. Part of her role included checking nipples and testicles for frostbite, assessing the dogs’ nutritional needs and ensuring they were in optimal health. . .

Fonterra agrees sale of China JV farms:

Fonterra has agreed the sale of its two joint venture farms in China, with the sale expected to be completed on 30 June.

The farms in Shandong province will be sold to Singapore-based AustAsia Investment Holdings for USD 115.5 million.

Fonterra, which owns the farms with a joint venture partner, has a 51% stake in the business and will receive NZD 88 million* in total asset sale proceeds, which includes cash on completion.

The sale of the JV farms is unconditional and requires no further regulatory approvals. . .

“Maverick” farm advisors with smart ideas invited to apply for research funding:

Do you have an innovative idea that could create real change for Kiwi farmers? Rural professionals are encouraged to team up with farmers to apply for $75,000 funding to rapidly test smart ideas and share the results.

Rural professionals are invited to team up with farmers to apply for funding to test innovative ideas that could lead to significant improvements in farming systems.

The Rural Professionals Fund, established in 2020 by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, is now accepting applications for a second round of funding to support projects that could benefit farming communities.

“We need to encourage more ‘mavericks’ to test smart ideas that challenge our patterns of behaviour,” says Stephen Macaulay, chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Managers (NZIPIM), a key partner in the fund. . . 


Rural round-up

05/05/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Hawke’s Bay farms short of specialist skilled workers – Sahiban Hyde:

Farms in Hawke’s Bay are at risk of staff fatigue as they struggle with a shortage of specialist skilled workers, says Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president.

This follows the decision of the Productivity Commission to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings.

The inquiry will sit alongside existing changes planned by Immigration, including the implementation of reforms to temporary work visas and a review of the Skilled Migrant Category visa.

Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said the closure of the border because of Covid-19 has seen roles typically filled by specialist skilled workers, relegated to inexperienced staff. . . 

We’ll pick ’em all – Peter Burke:

Kiwifruit is just too valuable not to be picked and despite the challenges of labour and weather, it will be picked.

That’s the message from the Kiwifruit Growers organisation (NZKGI) chief executive Nikki Johnson, who says wet weather and the late maturity of the fruit has slowed down picking. She told Hort News that some employers are faring better than others, which is consistent with other years, and there are still vacancies across packhouse and orchard roles – particularly for nightshift and weekend work.

“While there is a shortage of seasonal labour, we are focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit will be picked and packed this season. A shortage of labour may mean that managers need to be more selective about when particular fruit gets picked and packed,” Johnson says.

“People may also need to work longer shifts. However, the industry is extremely focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit is harvested. It is a high value crop, contributing around $2 billion to New Zealand’s kiwifruit regions in 2020.” . . 

Fruitful 10 years for avocado boss – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular has overseen the industry almost treble in value during the past 10 years. Scoular recently completed her 10th year as head of industry-good organisation NZ Avocado.

She and her team have helped guide the industry’s value growth from $68 million in 2011 to a forecast $200m in 2021.

She told Hort News that another achievement for her and the team was gaining crown funding for the first horticulture Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) to enable a step change in the industry. Scoular adds that NZ winning the rights to host the 2023 World Avocado Congress is another feather in her team’s cap.

She says the industry has also worked collaboratively to gain market access and to start exporting to China and India, two of the world’s largest economies. . . 

 

Family of farmers loving living the high life – David Hill:

A passion for farming is the secret to running a high country station, Annabel Tripp says.

Having lived all her life at Snowdon Station, north of Rakaia Gorge, Ms Tripp said there was no disadvantage to being a woman in the high country.

“It’s probably no different from being a man in the high country, really. It’s just about what your passion is, I guess.

“It’s really important that if you’re doing something, that you enjoy it and also that you try to do it to the best of your ability. . . 

Retirement a work in progress – Alice Scott:

Pat Suddaby says he might be retired but he’ll never stop working.

Since selling their 570ha sheep and beef farm in Hindon, near Outram, in 2010, Mr Suddaby and his wife Mary have ensured they have kept busy and active.

Mr Suddaby can be found these days working as a greenkeeper at the Middlemarch Golf Club and he is also an active member of the Strath Taieri Lions Club.

When the farm was sold, there was an adjustment period, Mr Suddaby said. . . 

 

Time the national beef herd’s facts were actually heard – Chris McLennan;

The Australian beef industry is already tired of being told their message of sustainability is not being heard.

But they have been reassured when they finally make headway against the anti-meat lobby, they will have transparency and truth on their side.

Australia’s beef industry has been patiently gathering key facts from individual farms for years.

Experts say all this data will be vital when the time is ripe to lay all the facts out before the public, the good, bad and the ugly. . . 


Rural round-up

07/03/2021

We need to remember the ‘silent majority’ who don’t want faux food – Andy Walker:

Being a Kiwi, I don’t want to argue with any Aussies reading this, but pavlova is, in fact, a Kiwi invention.

However, if it’s made from grass, like this one, you can have it. Will this trend towards plant-based food alternatives end? Probably not.

In the EU 3.2 per cent of people are vegans, and 30.9 per cent are either vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians.

In New Zealand, the number of people eating “meat-free” has doubled from 7 per cent tp 15 per cent in four years. Australia, which ranks in the top five meat eating nations, now ranks second in the world for vegans. . .

Vaccine timeline for truck drivers necessary – Road Transport Forum :

To ensure continuity in the supply chain, the road freight industry needs to know when truck drivers will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, says Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett.

Leggett says he wrote to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in January to enquire about vaccine prioritisation used by the Government to determine workers in essential industries.

“The trucking industry is keen to understand when its frontline workers, mainly drivers, might be in line for a vaccination and whether they will be given priority over the general population, given their importance in keeping the supply chain running,” says Leggett.

He says there is increasing urgency in getting truck drivers vaccinated because of the current Auckland lockdown. . . 

Grape harvest gets under way – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago’s wine harvest is under way as sparkling varieties are being picked and pressed.

Winemaker Rudi Bauer, of Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate, said lessons learned from last year’s harvest, conducted during lockdown, had proved useful as the harvest began.

At the 30ha vineyard in Bendigo, pinot noir grapes were being harvested yesterday, with chardonnay soon to follow.

The challenges of getting this year’s crop off the vines were still there in terms of labour, but Central Otago had learned a lot from 2020’s lockdown harvest, Mr Bauer said. . . 

Projects closer to home ‘excite’ – David Hill:

Cam Henderson is excited about some new projects “closer to home”.

The Oxford farmer has already announced his intention to step down as Federated Farmers North Canterbury president at May’s annual meeting and has already filled the void.

Mr Henderson was recently appointed as one of two new associate directors on DairyNZ’s board of directors and has recently been made a trustee of the newly renamed Waimak Landcare Group.

He also planned to step down from his role as Waimakariri Zone Committee deputy chairman, Mr Henderson said. . . 

Largest ever kiwifruit harvest begins:

  • First of 2021’s kiwifruit crop picked in Gisborne
  • 2021 expected to overtake last year’s record of 157 million trays
  • Kiwis encouraged to get involved in kiwifruit harvest

New Zealand’s 2021 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first commercial crop being picked this morning in Gisborne and more kiwifruit to be picked across New Zealand over the coming days.

The 2021 season is forecast to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before, overtaking last year’s record of 157 million trays of export Green and Gold. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

The Gold variety is usually picked first, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. Harvest peaks in mid-April and runs through until June. . . 

Aussies expected to dominate world sheepmeat export supply – Kristen Frost:

The gap between Australia and New Zealand’s export sheepmeat industry has narrowed, with industry experts anticipating Australia will continue to dominate world sheepmeat export supply for the remainder of the decade.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO), in 2019 Australia and New Zealand sheep meat exports was 71 per cent of the total sheep meat export volumes.

And recently Australia has eclipsed NZ to become the worlds largest exporter of sheep meat product with 36pc of global trade in 2020, compared to 30pc for NZ. . . 


Rural round-up

08/02/2021

Climate focus highlights need for water storage – Vanessa Winning :

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . . 

Climate hurdle a high bar for farmers – Tom O’Connor:

Farmers in Waikato and across the country are to be commended for their courage in facing up to what they rightly say are the daunting changes ahead them following a report by the Climate Change Commission.

The 800-page report is wide-sweeping, thorough, challenging, hugely ambitious and more than a little frightening for those locked into our extensive agricultural industry and those in wide-spread supporting industries.

In a first draft of the report, dealing with carbon budgets, released last week, the commission has suggested that dairy, sheep and beef cattle numbers must be reduced by 15 per cent by the end of the decade. That is a very short time frame for such a major change and some probably won’t make it.

Fortunately, we seemed to have passed through the phase of blind opposition to the concept of climate change. For about thirty years a number of sceptics challenged almost every scientist who presented evidence of climate change or predicted what climate change would do. . . 

Exports remain strong – Neal Wallace and Gerald PIddock:

Farm gate prices for New Zealand dairy and meat exports have defied economic fallout from the global pandemic and are trading at above long-term averages.

Demand from China and Asian economies emerging from the covid-19 pandemic are underpinning the buoyant prices, but there are warnings a strengthening exchange rate and prolonged supply chain disruption will put pressure on returns.

Fonterra this week lifted its farm gate milk price guidance range from $6.90 to $7.50kg/MS, up from $5.90 to $6.90 at the start of the season, potentially making this the second consecutive year of a $7-plus milk price. . . 

The dream team: Jess, David and Bronwyn Hill :

A Raglan dairy farming family set up a wee milk bottling plant three years ago.

Then, the Hill family produced 30 litres of drinking milk a week and delivered it to local customers. Now they bottle and deliver 5000 litres – in one-litre bottles – from the west coast to the east coast.

Their website has a rolling tally of the number of plastic milk bottles they’ve saved from re-cycling or landfill – over 150,000  and counting.

Jess Hill says customers are loving the glass bottles and the fact they’re supporting a local enterprise.   . . 

Mustering at Molesworth – Sally Round:

It’s an early start for the musterers at Molesworth Station. The bulls are out with the cows for the mating season and the stockmen need to beat the heat. Country Life producer Sally Round spent a day with the musterers, the farmer and the cook, peeling back some of the mystique of New Zealand’s most famous farm.

Duncan, Connell, Josh and Liam  are up before the birds.

Head torches on, they catch their horses before tucking into a pile of bacon and eggs in the kitchen at Tarndale.

The homestead there is one of Molesworth Station’s far-flung camps where the musterers can have a feed and bed down for the night while working on the furthest reaches of the 180,470-hectare property.

Molesworth, in the backcountry of Marlborough, has a mystique and mana which few other high country farms can match. . . 

 

Are cows accelerating climate change? – Stu McNish:

Cows have rapidly moved into the crosshairs of climate change and diet. But Frank M. Mitloehner of University of California, Davis says much – if not most – of what you think you know about ruminants and climate change is inaccurate.

His findings align with those of climate scientist Myles Allen, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor and Oxford professor who says the global warming carbon equivalency formula commonly applied to livestock is incorrect.

Both Mitloehner and Allen point to the impact a stable or declining herd has on methane production. Add in improving dietary and animal husbandry practices, along with methane-capturing systems, and the picture for livestock farms in northern hemisphere countries is positive. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2020

Scientists press to put ‘regenerative farming’ to the test – Sally Rae:

A call for proposals for projects that will investigate regenerative farming practices “can’t happen soon enough”, New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science president Jon Hickford says.

In a strongly worded statement, the NZIAHS said it was “concerned about the dearth of sound science underpinning the hype surrounding regenerative agriculture”.

The organisation had published a series of articles from scientists from different disciplines in this month’s issue of its online AgScience magazine which showed regenerative agriculture was “more hype than reality”, it said.

MPI said there was increasing interest from farmers and the wider community about regenerative agricultural practices. . . 

Fonterra, Nestlé and DairyNZ join forces to tackle nitrogen leaching:

Fonterra and Nestlé are teaming up with DairyNZ to expand a promising plantain trial to help improve waterways and reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Incorporating certain varieties of plantain into a cow’s diet has been shown to reduce the nitrogen concentration in their urine, which can leach through soil into groundwater.

To test the benefits in local pastures, DairyNZ has been leading the Tararua Plantain Project in the lower North Island, where farmers have been growing the leafy herb for their cows. The Ministry for Primary Industries is also involved as a key contributor. . .

Rams key to breeding top lambs – David Hill:

North Canterbury rams are the secret to breeding mint condition lambs, according to Marlborough farmers Ali and Stu Campbell.

The Marlborough father and son duo paid tribute to their ram breeders, Chris and Jane Earl, of Scargill in North Canterbury, after being announced as the winners of the Canterbury A&P Association mint lamb competition on Friday.

“It’s nice to give some recognition to Marlborough, but we couldn’t do it without our ram breeder,” Stu Campbell said.

“Chris and Jane look after us well and we appreciate what they do for us. . . 

My challenge to you – Anna Campbell:

For as long as I have been involved in agriculture, our industry has lamented our poor image and the fact that we struggle to attract young people.

I have heard people say we need a rebrand, agriculture is a term which brings to mind a lack of sophistication. In the game of cricket, an “agricultural batsman” is someone who dispatches the ball to “cow corner” in a rather basic manner!

Suggesting an agricultural career to a youngster will not automatically make them think about producing the finest food in the world, advanced genetics, machine learning, international food chains, global food security, financial modelling or GIS mapping. Yet, those of us in the industry understand agriculture encompasses all of that and so much more.

Various government and industry initiatives have produced scholarships for students and held open days to attract youngsters. This has helped, but we need more – we face an aging workforce, challenges in world food supply systems and a growing rural-urban divide. It will take a commitment from all agriculturalists to turn the tide – what might that commitment look like? . .

Shepherding when I’m 64 – Paul Brut:

I’m 64 and my heading dog is 63. We were watching a ewe standing awkwardly on a steep face above a dirty gully. She was trying to lamb but with only one foot showing I doubted she would cope on her own.

We needed to catch her. At 64 you can’t just do it, you need a plan. A shepherd’s crook is essential but I had temporarily misplaced mine… agility isn’t the only thing that deserts you at 64.

There was a whiff on the cool October breeze, at least about me, and I remembered where I had left the crook. Earlier that morning I had lambed a hogget with lambs that had been long dead inside her. That must be one of the most unpleasant jobs of shepherding as the state of decomposition meant the second lamb didn’t come out whole.

The extreme thing, apart from the smell is that that hogget will most likely survive. It’s a marvel that a mammal’s physiology can contain that level of infection and not let the body succumb. . .

Farmers could be ‘unintended victims’ of Wealth Tax plan:

Struggling farming businesses could be unintended victims of the recently proposed Wealth Tax plan, NFU Mutual has warned.

The Wealth Tax Commission issued its report this week, proposing a one percent tax for the next five years on individual wealth over £500,000.

The pandemic has placed a significant strain on the UK economy, and the government is exploring a number of different revenue-raising options.

The proposed tax would apply to all wealth, including homes and other property such as farms, pensions, as well as business wealth. . . 


Rural round-up

10/11/2020

RSE worker shortage ahead of cherry harvest – Neal Wallace:

The new season cherry harvest begins in Marlborough in three weeks and growers are still none the wiser whether they will have sufficient pickers.

Labour prospects are even more clouded when the main summerfruit picking season starts in January, requiring 7000 people at its peak.

The costs of leaving fruit on the trees is substantial, warns Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer.

Harvesting of the country’s main export cherry crop in Central Otago starts in mid-December and he says if 30% is left unharvested that represents a loss of more than $20 million in export revenue. . . 

Fields of courgettes go to waste because growers can’t get workers – David Fisher:

Brett Heap is surrounded by food gone to waste – rows of courgettes he couldn’t get picked because his expert and specialised workforce can’t get into the country.

His story is a peek behind the curtains of a looming disaster everyone saw coming and – it appears – no one knows how to solve.

New Zealand is heading into peak harvest season and there aren’t enough workers to get fruit off trees or vegetables from the ground.

“This could be my last crop,” says Heap, who grows courgettes near Waipapa in Northland. “I’m at the point where I’m not going through it again. . . 

Why this nutritionist says we should eat more red meat :

Independent nutritionist Mikki Williden says Kiwis shouldn’t be afraid of eating red meat.

Recently the Heart Foundation suggested people should consume less than 350g of unprocessed red meat a week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

This amount was “super low”, Williden told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“It would be a rare case where I would encourage people to have less than 160 grams cooked which might equate to about 200 grams raw – and then across the course of the week – that is well in excess of what the Heart Foundation is recommending.” . . 

 

Beef + Lamb NZ announces 2021 Ambassador Chefs and new ‘Young Chef’ award:

For twenty-five years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has been shaping the careers of chefs around the country. Each year the Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef programme selects those who are creating and serving incredible beef and lamb dishes in their restaurants. These chefs drive innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector.

With the challenges that Covid-19 has brought this year, Beef + Lamb New Zealand will be carrying over their four current Ambassador Chefs – Tejas Nikam, Paddock to Plate Waikato; Phil Clark, Phil’s Kitchen; Jack Crosti, Mela and Norka Mella Munoz, Mangapapa Hotel into 2021.

In addition to this, and to celebrate 25 years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are offering a one-off opportunity for a young emerging chef to be named as the Beef + Lamb Young Ambassador Chef 2021. . . 

The secret – shear determination – David Hill:

Peter Casserly has hung up his blades after adding his name to another world record.

The 72-year-old master blade shearer came out of retirement earlier this year to compete in the 60th Golden Shears in Masterton, before being invited to shear a special sheep at the Poverty Bay A&P Show last month for charity. And it was the charity aspect that appealed to him.

“I don’t think you ever retire, it’s like riding a bike. Somebody’s always got a pet to shear or a couple of sheep on their lifestyle block to be shorn. You just fade away in the finish,” Mr Casserly said.

“At the end of the day the anxiety and the tension of it all is getting too much. . . 

LIC enabling agricultural improvements in Ethiopia:

LIC is enabling agricultural improvements in a country more renowned for coffee than cows with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ethiopia has around 60 million cattle, one of the largest bovine populations in Africa. Its combined herd produces about 90% of the country’s milk with additional supply coming from camels, goats and sheep. With a population of more than 110 million people, Ethiopia has a growing demand for animal products including dairy, meat and hides but this is currently limited by a lack of decision making tools and the ability to provide insights from the livestock sector.

The collaborative initiative, Project aLIVE (A Livestock Information Vision for Ethiopia), is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aims to provide timely insights intended to increase production on farms in Ethiopia and decision making at a government level. . .

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched – Joe Stanley:

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched if we are to protect our farming industry, says Leicestershire arable and beef farmer Joe Stanley.

So, in the end, Government blinked.

It wasn’t a very big blink, it must be said. Blink, indeed, and you might have missed it.

But, nevertheless, at the eleventh hour (plus fifty-nine minutes and fifty nine seconds), Ministers finally conceded – mere days before the final Commons vote on the Agriculture Bill – to placing the Trade and Agriculture Committee (TAC) on a statutory footing, giving it a formal role in advising Parliament on every future trade deal and its repercussions for British food and farming. . . 


Rural round-up

08/11/2020

Clarity on rules wanted – Yvonne O’Hara:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand continues to seek clarity from the Government on the new Essential Freshwater rules, including requirements concerning low slope maps for stock exclusion, winter grazing regulations and farm plans,chief executive Sam McIvor says.

BLNZ had extensive consultation with about 4500 farmers across the country during the submission process and got a “good measure” of farmers’ views and concerns.

“We did get some positive changes made, particularly around restrictions on land use changes for sheep and beef farms.”

However, there are still three key issues with the rules. . .

Award winner takes value from farm tour – David Hill:

Winning the Zanda McDonald would have been beyond Jack Raharuhi’s wildest dreams when he left school.

“I left school at a very young age and chose the wrong pathway in life — drugs and cars. So my dad put me on one of his friend’s farms for a few months and I absolutely hated it.”

But after a while, Mr Raharuhi found “riding around on a farm bike” wasn’t so bad, so he put his head down, studied hard and worked his way up.

The 27-year-old dairy farm manager for Pamu (formerly Landcorp) recently enjoyed a farm tour around New Zealand last month after winning the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award. . . 

The winds of change :

When New Yorkers Anders and Emily Crofoot took over Castlepoint Station on the eastern Wairarapa coast in 1998 they had to make some big adjustments, quickly.

Gone were the freezing winters and reliable summer rains – replaced with year-round growth, frequent summer droughts and relentless wind.

The Crofoots quickly discovered that looking after their farm’s soil required a shift from traditional thinking and practice.

Two attempts at sowing pasture in a conventionally cultivated paddock—and two spring gales that blew about a third of the seed straight out to sea each time—convinced them that there had to be a better way to establish pasture in this climate. . . 

Zespri weighs up partnership with Chinese kiwifruit growers – Susan Murray:

Zespri is considering co-operation with Chinese kiwifruit growers who are illegally growing New Zealand’s gold G3 kiwifruit.

Since late 2019, unlawful plantings of the variety in China have almost doubled to 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare to grow it and Zespri will continue looking at legal channels to protect its plant variety rights.

But Zespri chief grower and alliances officer Dave Courtney said it had been advised to trial working with the small growers in China, in the hope this would prevent more plantings. . . 

MBIE investigating frozen fries import threat:

The New Zealand potato industry are relieved that the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) trade remedies team has now launched an investigation into the proven threat of surplus frozen fries being imported into New Zealand.

This MBIE decision was based on the positive evidence the New Zealand potato industry provided in their application completed in September this year, as part of the Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) Pandemic Industry Recovery Plan.

The application was in response to the threat of increased dumped imports of surplus European frozen fries, to the NZ potato processing sector. The dumping and threat, combined with the effects of supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19, created an extraordinary situation that required investigation. . .

Harvesting downgrade fears allayed – Gregor Heard:

FARMERS throughout the northern cropping zone generally received good news when they returned to their harvesters last week after rain delays, with limited reports of weather damaged grain.

Yields continue to please, while farmers in southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia retain confidence of strong yields, although harvest will be some time off yet for many due to the cool finish to the cropping season allowing crops to mature slowly.

Meanwhile, the Queensland harvest is edging closer to completion, with good quality grain partially making up for slightly disappointing yields.

“A lot of people in my area on the Darling Downs have just about finished their harvest,” said Brendan Taylor, Agforce grains section president. . . 


Rural round-up

12/10/2020

Potential animal welfare crisis looming – Sudesh Kissun:

A local vet recruitment agency says the vet shortage situation in the country is getting more dire by the day. 

Julie South, of VetStaff, says that while the Government’s recent decision to let overseas vets into the country for work is a step in the right direction, it’s nowhere near enough to cover the current shortage.

“They need to allow almost ten times that many in to ease the animal welfare and human stress and mental health issues the shortage is causing,” she told Rural News. . .

Hort’s priorities for a newly-elected government – Mike Chapman:

The biggest challenge facing horticulture is labour and we will – as a collective sector – ask the new government to focus attention in this area.

As a result of Covid, many New Zealanders need to develop new skills and take on positions in essential industries such as horticulture – industries that are pivotal to the country’s economic and social recovery.

This is no easy task. The new government will need to complete the reform of the education and training system so that it reflects post-Covid requirements for flexible delivery and the fostering of innovation.

While New Zealand’s border challenges may currently appear stark, the horticulture industry believes they can be managed in such a way to protect the health of New Zealanders while also ensuring the country can prosper economically, through access to skills and labour that can only be obtained from overseas

Composting mootels can transform dairy, but only if we get things right – Keith Woodford:

Some readers will know that I have been writing about composting mootels for the last three years. I have been suggesting that these mootels can transform New Zealand dairy.   I remain of that perspective, but only if we get things right.

When I first wrote about ‘composting mootels’, I referred to them as ‘composting barns’. Subsequently, I have stepped back from using the term ‘barn’ because it was leading to misunderstandings.   For many folk in the New Zealand dairy industry, the word ‘barn’ is like the mythical red rag to the bull.

Composting mootels are like no other type of barn. They are open structures that focus on cow comfort. Cows love them. They can be a great enhancement to animal welfare.  There is minimal smell – very different to most barns. They can fit seamlessly into New Zealand pastoral systems and in the process solve key environmental problems. . . 

Clydesdales popular centre of attention :

It was horsepower of the old-fashioned variety that proved a drawcard at the Otago Field Days in Palmerston yesterday.

John Booth, from the Dayboo Clydesdale stud in Mid Canterbury, brought Dayboo Annie and Dayboo Sam south, for wagon rides, a children’s tug-of-war today and general admiration – and plenty of pats – from field day visitors.

Mr Booth, who has 17 Clydesdales, enjoyed dealing with the public and both he and the two horses were very patient with the children clamouring for a closer look.

The two-day event, which continues today, moved back to its original site at the Palmerston Showgrounds as it was being planned during Covid-19 Alert Level 2, and allowed for more space than its previous location at the saleyards, chief executive Paul Mutch said. . . 

Rhys Hall announced as 2020 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Rhys Hall who became the 2020 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year on 8th October. Hall was representing Marlborough and is Assistant Vineyard Manager at Indevin’s Bankhouse.

Congratulations also to Sam Bain from Constellation Brands who came second and George Bunnett from Irrigation Services who came third.

The other contestants were Annabel Angland from Peregrine Wines, Tahryn Mason from Villa Maria and Lacey Agate from Bellbird Spring. . .

Cattle splinter groups urged to ‘get back in the boat’ – Shan Goodwin:

CALLS for unity in advocacy, particularly where grassfed cattle producers are concerned, were made at an industry event, held both live and online, this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef featured four prominent Queensland producers: David Hill, Bryce Camm, Mark Davie and Russell Lethbridge.

Mr Davie kicked off the talk about the need to have a ‘strong, united, well-funded force’ working on behalf of grassfed producers.

“What I’m talking about is a restructure of CCA (Cattle Council of Australia),” he said. . . 


Rural round-up

04/09/2020

Covid 19 coronavirus: Why level 3 has been a ‘disaster’ for food producers, manufacturers  – Aimee Shaw:

The Food & Grocery Council says changes to the way the Government has handled boundary travel exemptions under the second round of lockdown had caused major disruption to food manufacturing.

Some food producers have been unable to get some of their key workers in and out of their factories located both in and outside of Auckland under alert level 3, resulting in some companies having to scale back production of some of their goods.

Griffin’s Foods is said to be one of a handful of companies that have scaled back production of some of their lines due to being unable to get some staff into their facilities and Invivo Wines has faced similar issues getting workers from Auckland into its Waikato winery. . .  

Perfect storm’ brewing for Central Otago growers facing Covid-19 labour crisis – Jo Mckenzie-Mclean:

Central Otago’s mayor will help pick fruit off trees this summer as a severe labour shortage threatens the region’s billion-dollar orchard industry.

The industry is forecasting a shortage of 5500 workers in the region during December and January, and 1500 for the critical thinning period due to start in six weeks.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of Cromwell-based orchard 45 South Tim Jones said the looming worker shortage was a huge concern. The industry had been “leaving no stone unturned” in trying to find solutions. . . 

Taranaki farm couple’s 25 year war of the roses with possums – Mike Watson:

Taranaki dairy farmer Fiona Henchman​ can now declare victory in a personal war of the roses she has waged against possums for a quarter of a century.

With husband John she has fought a backyard battle against thousands of possums hopping over the boundary fence from Egmont National Park to munch on fruit trees, grass pasture and treasured climbing roses.

Pasture near the national park boundary has also taken a hammering, with the pests’ eating habits leaving the ground resembling a mown strip.

Anything the couple attempted to plant and grow on the 130ha Upper Weld Road property was gnawed to the stem by the nocturnal marauders, she said. . . 

Research finds genetic link between cattle temperament and autism in humans :

A strong association between the genes influencing cattle temperament and autism in humans has been discovered by University of Queensland researchers.

UQ genomic expert Professor Ben Hayes said the research by his interdisciplinary team headed by Dr Roy Costilla could lead to improved animal welfare and meat quality.

“The research doesn’t mean that cattle have autism; rather that cattle share an overlap of genes with humans which are critical in brain function and response to fear stimuli,” Hayes said.

Temperament is an important trait for day-to-day management of cattle, Hayes said . . .

City girl making good in rural sector – David Hill:

Olivia Egerton is a city girl who never imagined having a career in the rural sector.

The young Canterbury business executive is making a name for herself in the primary sector and was recently presented with the 2020 First Steps in Governance award by the Canterbury branch of the Institute of Directors.

“It’s a great opportunity and very exciting to be launching in earnest my management career and learning some different skills,” Ms Egerton said.

The award was given annually by the professional body of directors to a candidate who was motivated to further their business experience, gain insight into good governance practice and learn about the dynamics of sitting on a board.

Growing up in Auckland, Ms Egerton never intended having a primary sector career, but she did have family connections, with extended family involved in deer farming. . .

Importance of rodent control in free range egg systems :

A pest control expert has shared his views on rodent control within the free range egg industry, and how to prevent the situation in the 80’s repeating itself again.

The free range market has grown considerably over the last two decades to make up the majority of the UK laying flock.

This has been brought about through a combination of consumer demand, diversification and the success of the industry in promoting eggs a safe and nutritious food source. . .


Rural round-up

08/05/2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro is concerned for the wellbeing of farmers as they negotiate the ongoing effects of a dry season and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said last month’s rain was “a great morale booster” for farmers in the drought-affected area in North Canterbury.

“Since that rain four weeks ago, things went pretty quiet. But it’s just a pity we haven’t had a follow-up rain and we really need a good warm follow-up rain, particularly for the farmers from Waipara north to get some growth before winter.

“It’s starting to get dry and cold in that northern part, but other than that it’s business as usual. . . 

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

The Government’s drought recovery advice fund announced today is merely a drop in the bucket for supporting farmers affected by drought, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The fund is specifically for providing affected farmers with recovery and planning advice, but does not contribute to farmers’ rising feed costs or general business costs.

“Most farmers already know what is needed to help their business recover and it is insulting for the Government to tell them they simply need to seek more advice to get through the drought. . . 

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden is disappointed that the Government is treating rural general practices the same as any other business in the community.

Bolden told Rural News that rural GPs were expecting to get two payments from the Government to assist them financially.

However, she says while they had received the first payment, Cabinet vetoed the second payment – just days before it was expected to be paid.  . .

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

The country’s meat processors have followed two distinctly different paths in response to the government’s wage subsidy scheme which is available to all businesses for 12 weeks, providing they can substantiate a 30% drop in revenue during the period. Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, ANZCO, Taylor Preston and Blue Sky Meats have all claimed the subsidy to varying extents, whereas AFFCO, Greenlea and Wilson Hellaby have decided it is not justified or necessary, at least partly on ethical grounds.

The contrast in approach has already been commented on by independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, who has slammed the two largest claimants, SFF which has claimed $43 million and Alliance $34 million, for taking advantage of taxpayer funding when they are classified as an essential business, operating in lockdown. Equally Bagrie complimented those companies not making a claim because they were getting on with business as usual. Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, he said “the wage subsidy is out there to support businesses that are getting clobbered, that are effectively in lockdown.”

I am not convinced this interpretation is either totally fair or even correct. Both SFF’s Simon Limmer and Alliance’s CEO David Surveyor are clear the wage subsidy is not a company entitlement, but is paid directly to various categories of employees: firstly it maintains standard wage rates at normal processing speeds despite the 30-50% reduction to meet distance requirements, it retains those who would have to have been terminated seasonally, and it is used to pay those who cannot work e.g. because of age,  compromised immunity or family circumstances. . .

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

CharRees Vineyard owners Charlie and Esma Hill put a call out on social media for help to harvest during lockdown.

They were so overwhelmed by community response, including some from Christchurch, they had to turn people away.

The lockdown harvest, approved by Ministry for Primary Industries as essential for food and beverage production, attracted about 20 people from Ashburton and Methven — many who had never harvested grapes before — to put their hands up to help.

The pickers worked alongside family members of the couple and vineyard workers to pick the first of three annual grape harvests. . . 

Red meat exports top $1 billion in March 2020, a first for monthly exports:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports topped $1 billion for the first time, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12 per cent on March 2019.

While overall exports to China for the month of March were down by nine per cent compared to last March as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased, demonstrating the agility and resilience of the New Zealand red meat sector. . . 

Time to take ag reform out of the “too hard basket” – Fiona Simson:

Regional Australia is well placed to be the engine that powers Australia’s COVID-19 recovery. The bush has done this before, with strong exports helping keep recession at bay during the Global Financial Crisis.

And, after a challenging period of drought, bushfires and floods, widespread rainfall has seen the fortunes of farmers begin to improve. Agriculture is ready and raring to grow.

As we dare to cast an eye to the world post-COVID-19, now is the opportune time to consider the changes agriculture and regional Australia needs to best contribute to the recovery task. . . 


Rural round-up

28/03/2020

After the lockdown, the economy’s recovery will be dependent on dairy farms and their milk – Point of Order:

The planet is  in a state of   flux,   economies are tumbling into  recession, no-one (not even Donald Trump) can predict  when the agony will  end.

Suddenly, the streets  are  empty:  life  as  we have  known  it is  now  very  different. The  nation  is  in   lockdown.

As  the  London  “Economist” put it:

“The struggle  to  save  lives  and the  economy  is  likely to present  agonising choices…As  that  sends economies  reeling, desperate  governments are trying to tide over  companies and  by handing out millions of  dollars in  aid and loan guarantees. Nobody can be sure how these rescues  will work”. . . 

Don’t stress weakening economy – Neal Wallace:

Economist Cameron Bagrie is joining a chorus of calls for the Government to delay introducing policy imposing new environmental rules and costs on a rapidly weakening economy.

Bagrie says Government borrowing as a percentage of gross domestic product has doubled from 20% to 40% in the last few weeks as it tries to protect jobs and businesses from the impact of measures to control the covid-19 virus pandemic.

He expects Government borrowing will increase further and warns now is not the time to introduce more costs on businesses in freshwater regulations and the new minimum wage, which applies from April 1.

“Farming has been unloved and beaten up by the Government for the last two or three years but the Government is going to need farmers for the next few years.” . . 

Virus adds to woes of North Canterbury farmers – David Hill:

The uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic is adding yet another headache for North Canterbury farmers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cameron Henderson and North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro say dry conditions, the ongoing effects of Mycoplasma bovis and coronavirus, and this week’s 5.1-magnitude earthquake near Culverden are creating uncertainty.

‘‘The effects of the virus seem to be changing day to day as we have seen with share markets and travel bans,’’ Mr Henderson said. . . 

Meat matters to sector stalwart – Colin Williscroft:

Tim Ritchie retires as Meat Industry Association chief executive on April 7 after a career in primary sector roles that began in the 1970s. Colin Williscroft reports.

THE meat industry has come a long way since Tim Ritchie got involved and a decision made on the far side of the world about then that has provided the biggest advantage to the sector here in the years since.

Though it might not have seemed like it at the time, in retrospect Britain joining the then European Economic Community in 1973 was the best thing that could have happened for New Zealand farmers. . . 

Leader learnt a lot in dairy industry – Yvonne O’Hara:

‘‘It was like being dropped into the mothership of emergency management.’’

That is how Katrina Thomas describes her involvement with the recent flood recovery effort in the South.

The Wreys Bush dairy farmer was Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) southern regional hub leader for Otago and Southland since 2016, and regional leader for Southland since 2012.

However, this year she decided she wanted to try other challenges. . . 

Wine industry faces worker accommodation woes during lockdown:

The wine industry is facing criticism for continuing harvest during the Covid-19 lockdown, and is facing problems with worker accommodation

The government says the grape and wine industry can continue to operate as an essential business, but strict conditions apply as the country moves to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Some Marlborough people have noticed the hundreds of workers travelling to work in vineyards all over the district, and have questioned whether this was safe in the current climate. . . 


Rural round-up

23/12/2019

Wairoa farmland sold for forestry angers 50 Shades of Green as Shane Jones extends olive branch – Zane Small:

Shane Jones is extending an olive branch to the pro-farming community after the Government approved more farmland to be sold for forestry, saying he wants to hear their concerns. 

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) – a Government agency – has approved the sale of 1065 hectares of land in Wairoa from Craigmore (Te Puna) Limited, a company that manages various farm and forest investments in New Zealand.

The land being acquired is currently run as a sheep and beef cattle farm, with small plantings of radiata pine and manuka. The OIO approved the sale of land on the understanding it’s erosion-prone and better suited to forestry. . . .

Skills will help grow careers – Sally Rae:

From fitness to farming, Luke Fisher is relishing his career move into the primary industries.

English-born Mr Fisher, a business manager for Farmlands at its Motueka branch, has been in Dunedin for six weeks as one of two interns in the AGMARDT-AbacusBio international internship programme.

He is joined by Emma Hinton, who is business manager at Farmlands’ Leeston branch in Canterbury.

Sales Slump in the dairy sector:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 54 less farm sales (-16.1%) for the three months ended November 2019 than for the three months ended November 2018. Overall, there were 282 farm sales in the three months ended November 2019, compared to 260 farm sales for the three months ended October 2019 (+8.5%), and 336 farm sales for the three months ended November 2018. 1,295 farms were sold in the year to November 2019, 12.8% fewer than were sold in the year to November 2018, with 44.4% less Dairy farms, 1.6% less Grazing farms, 23.4% less Finishing farms and the same number of Arable farms sold over the same period. . .

River clean-up energises farmer :

Invests $18,000 of his own money to help restore river after realising the impact on waterways.

He’s a “townie” turned dairy farmer and is enthusiastically embracing the clean-up one of New Zealand’s most degraded rivers.

Gerard Vallely, a 65-year-old who, with his wife Ann, runs two dairy farms in west Otago, has set aside a sizeable chunk of his property to be developed into a wetland – and has so far spent $18,000 of his own money doing so.

The farms border two streams, tributaries of the Pomahaka River, and the land he has ‘donated’ is part of an overall project in the district to restore the river, long considered one of the country’s best fishing locations, back to health. . .

Christmas market short of peas, strawberries – David Hill:

Locally grown strawberries and peas could be missing from the Christmas dinner menu.

As he prepares for the seventh annual Sefton Christmas Harvest Market on his farm near Rangiora, North Canterbury grower Cam Booker said Christmas strawberries, raspberries and peas were in short supply.

He said there would be no homegrown strawberries on the Booker Christmas dinner table this year . . .

New Zealand Hops confirms Craig Orr as new Chief Executive:

Food and beverage industry leader, Craig Orr, is confirmed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Zealand Hops Ltd (NZHL).

New Zealand Hops is a contemporary grower co-operative, based in Nelson, Tasman, the only region commercially growing hops in New Zealand. The co-operative represents the interests of 28 growers, many of whom are intergenerational families, having grown hops in the region for more than 150 years.

The co-ordination of the industry was first initiated in 1939 with the inception of the New Zealand Hop Marketing Board. . .


Rural round-up

23/11/2019

Take us with you – Rural News editorial:

According to a newly released Rabobank report, New Zealand farm businesses need to get ready for the full cost of environmental policies coming down the track as they make future investment decisions.

The report says with the country’s agricultural sector facing increasingly tougher environmental constraints, its decisions on investment and land use will need to take account of how these constraints impact on their farming businesses.

Rabobank says that despite the significant investments made by many New Zealand farmers over the past decade to improve performance of their farming operations, the increasingly tougher environmental reforms relating to water quality and climate change will progressively require farmers to account for a greater range of environmental impacts resulting from their farming operations. . .

Making it okay to ask for help – David Anderson:

Meat processing company Alliance has started an employee support programme aimed at getting colleagues to look after each other and keep an eye out for possible mental health issues.

Its ‘Mates at the Gate’ programme encourages staff to ask for support at an early stage and also educates employees on the signs their colleagues might be depressed or distressed.

The programme, which is specifically tailored to Alliance’s workforce, was launched across the company’s processing plants and corporate offices in November 2018.  . . 

Call for NZ and Scotland to join forces – David Hill:

A Scottish farmer and cattle judge would like to see New Zealand and Scotland work together to promote meat.

John Scott, who judged the all-breeds beef cattle competition at last week’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, has just completed an eight-year stint on the Quality Meat Scotland board, the equivalent of Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

”We’ve got some huge challenges with Brexit and the anti-red meat lobby,” Mr Scott said.

”It’s a world market now and I would like to see Scotland having closer ties with New Zealand.

”We need to increase consumption of meat around the world and the seasons are different between our countries, so we don’t need to be competitive. We have a lot of similarities and we can work together.” . . 

A day out at Fonterra’s PR farm – Alex Braae:

Were Fonterra’s Open Gates events a shallow PR stunt, or was there something deeper going on? Alex Braae went to Mangatawhiri to find out.

Walking into the Fonterra Open Gates event in Mangatawhiri, the first animals to see weren’t actually dairy cows. 

In an enclosure just next to the welcome tent, there were three beautifully clean and fluffy sheep. Their faces were sharp and alert, like the healthy energetic dogs that herd them. A throng of kids hung around them, reaching out to touch the exotic creatures.  . . 

Strong returns forecast from Zespri’s record European harvest:

Zespri’s European kiwifruit harvest is again expected to deliver strong returns for growers in Italy and France, along with another great tasting crop for consumers around the world to enjoy.

Sheila McCann-Morrison, Zespri’s Chief International Production Officer, says that with the Northern Hemisphere harvest well underway, Zespri is expecting to harvest around 19 million trays or almost 70 tonnes of kiwifruit from orchards throughout Italy, France and Greece. . . 

It’s forestry that must change not farmers – Rowan Reid :

AS a young forest scientist, I chose to work in the farming landscape in Australia. Despite the slogans of our conservation groups, the environmental frontline was not occurring at the forest blockade; it was at the farm gate. In just 200 years of white settlement, we had cleared the native forests off more than 60 per cent of the continent to create family farms. That’s about 15 times the area of the entire UK. The result was the greatest extinction of native animals and plants seen in modern times, massive land degradation problems, the release of millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, and mounting animal welfare issues due to heat and cold stress in farm stock.

Seeing that forestry – even the act of harvesting trees for timber – had a role to play in repairing the environmental damage and helping develop resilient family farms, I set my goal to make forestry attractive to the farming community. But rather than just promote what my peers saw as ‘good forestry practices’, I could see that it was forestry, rather than the farmers, that had to change. In 1987, I purchased a small degraded farm and set about planting trees for both conservation and profit. . . 


Rural round-up

05/09/2019

Time for a grownup conversation about gene-editing – David Hughes:

 In the late 1990s public scepticism cast genetic modification as “The answer to the question no-one was asking”. Today, the new technology of gene editing is emerging as a real option in facing some of our world’s biggest challenges in food production, medicine, conservation and climate change.

The Institute I lead, Plant & Food Research, has committed our science to helping New Zealand’s agri-food sector deliver the best quality foods from the world’s most sustainable production systems. We believe gene editing can help us meet that commitment. 

Today, Plant & Food Research breeds only 100 per cent GM-free fruit, vegetables and grains. We have never developed GM foods for commercial use and industry does not fund us to do so. Yet our discovery-focused teams routinely use gene technologies to further our knowledge. 

They’ve learned that gene editing can help us achieve our traditional breeding targets around sustainability and nutrition much faster. That means consumers get more healthy whole foods sooner.  . . 

Trees debate ratchets up – Colin Williscroft:

Large swathes of agricultural land need not be planted in trees for New Zealand to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets, NZ’s largest carbon farmer says.

In presenting NZ Carbon Farming’s submission to the Environment Select Committee on the Zero Carbon Bill, company founder and managing director Matt Walsh was questioned by MPs who said they had been told by officials that 30% of NZ’s agricultural land will need to be planted in trees to meet the Bill’s carbon dioxide emissions target of zero by 2050.

Walsh said he has heard the 30% figure before and is puzzled where it came from. He does not believe it is correct.

NZ Carbon Farming has asked officials how they got the number but has not had a definitive answer. . . 

Shear happiness for young women – Yvonne O’Hara:

”Shearing is an art.”

So says Ariana Te Whata, of Mossburn, who was taking part with three other young women in a course run by Elite Shearer Training on the Dowling family’s farm near Gimmerburn last week.

Three of the women, Tatjiana Keefe, of Raupunga, Cheyenne Howden, of Feilding, and Ariana work for Dion Morrell Shearing. They all intend to go shearing full time.

Ariana grew up in a shearing shed and her parents, Vanessa and Mana Te Whata, are shearing contractors and run Shear Tech. Mr Te Whata is a champion competitive shearer.

”I love shearing,” Ariana said.

”I love the art of it and it is beautiful to watch. . . 

Promoting eucalypts– David HIll:

Gary Fleming’s efforts to advocate for the value of eucalyptus trees has been recognised.

The North Canterbury farmer was named South Island Farm Forester of the Year at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association conference held in Rotorua.

‘‘It’s a good award to get, as it takes a fair bit of dedication,’’ Mr Fleming said.

‘‘There’s a lot of people in the South Island who grow trees and anybody in farm forestry can apply for it.’’

The North Canterbury branch chairman was nominated by his branch committee earlier this year, after missing a meeting due to illness. . . 

Food tourism helps farmers survive – Tim Fulton:

A group of Queensland farmers is making the most of food tourism, proving town and country can work in harness for culinary satisfaction.

Maleny calls itself a hinterland town though, by Australian standards, it’s only a skip from the big smoke.

Perched on the Blackall Range, about 40 minutes from Sunshine Coast beaches, the area catches day trippers on Queensland’s hinterland tourist drive. . . 

 

Love lamb week to encourage better use of carcase :

Yorkshire farmer’s daughter and Great British Menu chef Stephanie Moon is calling on chefs to make better use of the lamb carcase as the country prepares for Love Lamb Week.

The annual campaign, commencing from the 1st of September to the 7th, aims to change perceptions of when to eat lamb.

It highlights that the highest volume of UK product is actually available during the last six months of the year, despite many consumers typically choosing to enjoy lamb around Easter time.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) will be involved in the industry-wide campaign, alongside AHDB Beef & Lamb and other UK levy bodies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/08/2019

The crisis of confidence undermining our primary industries is untenable – Todd Muller:

I have always held the view that families’ most honest conversations occur at the dinner table, often as the used plates wait to be returned to the bench and the wine is closer to the bottom of the glass.

As a child, I can recall my parents’ discussions, as they struggled with every waking effort to hold onto the kiwifruit orchard in the downturn of the early 1990s. Well New Zealand you need to know that the conversations happening in our rural homes across the country are the tensest in a generation.

There is a palpable sense of stress and unrelenting pressure. The sort that makes your guts churn, the sort that can and does lead to more tragic outcomes. Our primary industries and the families that work in them feel isolated and undervalued. For some it feels like being under attack. I am not prone to hyperbole, I use the word deliberately. . . .

Is there an emerging rural divide? – Julia Jones:

The success of the food and fibre sector will be defined by how well we can align and adapt, with the focus being the ‘whole’ sector, not competing subsectors, writes Julia Jones.

We hear lots of talk about the urban-rural divide, but of late, as I travel around the country, I find myself asking, “Is there is an emerging rural-rural divide?”

I’m fortunate to get to talk to a variety of people from a variety of subsectors in the food and fibre sector, and without fail someone within each group (from anywhere in the value chain) will mention that they see the sun setting on another subsector. . . 

Farmers band together to improve local waterway:

Finding the balance between making a profit and farming sustainably has always been at the forefront of Fonterra farmer Paul Warneford’s mind. 

“Swimming in our local rivers, white baiting, doing things us Kiwis love doing, while having a sustainable farming practice is the ultimate goal,” says Paul. 

In 2015, 12 dairy farmers started the Nukuhou North and Waiotahi River Streams Group, aiming to improve the sustainability of their farming operations.

The group was formed after Agri-ecology consultant Alison Dewes spoke to a group of farmers about sustainable farming and finding a sweet spot around environment, profit and production.  . .

Ensuring success of A&P shows – David Hill:

Sheep and cattle at A&P shows go together like candy-floss and Ferris wheels. Cattle have been missing at some shows recently in the wake of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak but are set to make a return at several Canterbury shows.

For the Canterbury A&P Association’s new president Chris Herbert, the inclusion of cattle is an important part of show day. It was often the only chance city folk had to get up close with sheep and cattle, reinforcing the importance of A&P shows in bringing together town and country.

Agricultural shows are essential to maintaining connections with urban communities, Chris Herbert says.

As he looks ahead to this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, the Canterbury A&P Association president said the shows were often the only chance city folk had to get up close with sheep and cattle. . . 

Scales lifts 1H sales across all divisions, reaffirms annual guidance –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Agribusiness Scales Corporation reported revenue growth in all divisions in the first half and reiterated full-year guidance for increased underlying earnings.

The company said net profit for the six months to June 30 was $121.8 million versus $34.8 million in the same period a year earlier. The latest result includes gains on asset sales of $93.2 million.

Those divestments include the $151.4 million sale of Polarcold to Emergent Cold, which settled in May, for a gain of $73 million.  . .

Soil health field day brings sustainable solutions  to Marlborough viticulture industry :

A Soil Health Field Day, hosted by Wholesale Landscapes, will bring members of the viticulture industry together to discuss sustainable solutions for improved vineyard management.

Wholesale Landscapes has seen demand for high-quality compost and organic matter increase greatly recently, driven by Marlborough vineyard managers seeking sustainable ways to maximise grape yield, while also maintaining soil health. The Soil Health Field Day aims to provide growers with the most current information and tested solutions to specific challenges.

Soil health continues to be a critical issue for local growers, who are favoured with the terroir which produces the world-renowned Marlborough Sauvignon, with its highly-popular and distinct flavour profiles. Giving back to these unique soils is central to vineyard management, and increasingly, the broader notions of sustainability are making an impact. . .

 


Rural round-up

21/06/2019

FARMSTRONG: industry digests wellbeing lessons – Luke Chivers:

No one can be under pressure all the time, Farmstrong ambassador Sam Whitelock told farmers at Fieldays.

“Pressure is a good thing but only the right amount.”

“That right amount will change depending on what’s happening – whether you’re tired, you’re eating well or you’re sick.”

Whitelock, who grew up on a Manawatu farm, said locking in small improvements in lifestyle helps manage the ups and downs of farming.

“Rural wellness is a big deal right now. It’s growing in importance as demands and challenges increase on the rural community. . . 

Westland Milk shareholder Southern Pastures to abstain on Yili vote – Jamie Gray:

Westland Milk’s biggest shareholder, Southern Pastures, said it would abstain on the vote called to decide on whether the co-operative can be sold to China’s Yili.

Southern – an investment fund – said the move would allow West Coast farmer-shareholders to decide its future.

Hokitika-based Westland said in March that it had signed a conditional agreement for the sale of the co-op, which will see the Chinese dairy giant pay farmer-suppliers $3.41 a share. The deal is worth $588 million. . . 

Zespri signals profit growth, trims expected fruit and services payment – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is forecasting annual profit growth of up to 7 percent.

The firm, which markets kiwifruit on behalf of 2,500 New Zealand growers and another 1,200 in Italy, Japan, Korea and France, is expecting net profit of $182-$192 million in the current year, including licence release income.

That is up from the $179.8 million net profit reported for the year ended March, which was a 77 percent increase from the year before as the firm shipped more fruit for better prices. Total trays sold climbed 21 percent to 167.2 million last year – 85 percent of which was New Zealand-grown green or gold kiwifruit. . . 

New lobby chairman: voice for farmers – David Hill:

 A new Federated Farmers dairy-farming leader hopes to be a voice for farmers.

Karl Dean was elected as the federation’s North Canterbury dairy chairman during the provincial annual meeting at Oxford in April, replacing Michael Woodward, who bought a farm in the North Island.

”It was sprung on me a little bit when Woody got a good opportunity up north.

”But I see it as a good way to get more involved and tackle some of the issues which are going to arise with climate change and make sure farmers are aware of the legislation, and that Feds are fighting it.’ . . 

Buy-back scheme must work for rural firearms owners:

The firearms buy-back process for what are now prohibited semi-automatic firearms must work for rural firearms owners, Federated Farmers says.

The process will require farmers to travel to collection points to hand over firearms and agree on the value of the surrendered firearm. A member survey showed that at least twenty percent of Feds members had a firearm impacted by the new regulations, and these owners will be looking for good access and a smooth process for the hand-over of firearms and payment of fair compensation.

“The sooner the details of the process, including the number and geographical spread of collection points/events, are clear the better,’’ Federated Farmers Rural Security Spokesperson Miles Anderson says. . . 

In farm children, I see virtues that one sees too rarely these days – Mitch Daniels:

Mitch Daniels, a Post contributing columnist, is president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana.

Along with the rise of women and the expansion of civil rights, the most important social transformation of America’s first quarter-millennium has been the triumph of modern agriculture over famine and the ceaseless, backbreaking effort simply to feed one’s self that had been the dominant fact of human life throughout history. Most of those who preceded us lived their entire lives on the farm. A little more than a century ago, a third of all Americans were farmers.

Successive revolutions in mechanization, horticulture and biotechnology have been an enormous blessing, enabling a tiny percentage of Americans — today fewer than 2 percent— to feed the rest of us and much of the world. Incalculable human talent has been liberated to invent all the other miracles we enjoy. We spend less of our income on food than any society ever. . .


Rural round-up

12/09/2018

Methane narrative changes with less need for drastic action – Keith Woodford:

The recent note on methane emissions  put out by Parliamentary Commissioner Simon Upton in late August, and underpinned by a contracted research report written by Dr Andy Reisinger from the Government-funded New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), will change the methane narrative. History will look back at Upton’s note as a fundamental contribution that moved the methane debate towards a logic-based science-informed position.

The key message is that short-lived gases such as methane do need to be considered differently than long-lived gases. That does not mean that they are unimportant. But lumping them together with long-lived carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide has led down false pathways . . 

Good to be ‘out there listening’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers’ new chief executive Terry Copeland freely admits he is not a practical person.

Growing up, he was an “urban kid” with no connection to the primary industries, Mr Copeland (50) said. In fact, he had a music degree.

But he had huge respect and admiration for New Zealand’s farming sector and bemoaned how little the country’s food producers were  celebrated, the lack of acknowledgement being “appalling”.

One thing he said he did love was learning and — six weeks into the new role at the helm of the rural lobby group — he had been enjoying attending cluster meetings around the country. . .

Lamb losses likely after heavy rain in Wairarapa :

Stormy weather could not have come at a worst time for Wairarapa farmers, who are in the thick of lambing season.

From rural Masterton to Castlepoint, and down to the South Wairarapa coast, rain has interrupted lambing, with many farmers recording deaths already, along with saturated paddocks causing slips.

PGG Wrightson area livestock manager Steve Wilkinson said the past few days of rain were “a real shame“. . .

 

Access free-for-all grates with farmers:

Common courtesy and sound workplace and biosecurity safety practice is thrown out the window with proposed new employment laws reported back to Parliament this week, Federated Farmers says.

“There’s been little or no fuss with current laws that enable union representatives to enter a farm or any other workplace to talk to workers after liaising with the owner or manager about a suitable time,” Feds employment spokesman Chris Lewis says. . .

LambEx shows kiwis the future – Annette Scott:

Home from the 2018 LambEx conference in Perth, Beef + Lamb New Zealand-sponsored sheep industry ambassadors Katey Craig and David Ingham are firing hot.

The young generation farmers are excited to share their lessons with fellow farmers and looking forward to being a part of their home country hosting LambEx 2019.

While in Australia the pair also visited several farms to study new systems on a road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide. . .

A&P President: young people crucial – David Hill:

He might be the youngest show president, but Tim Black says attracting even younger people is essential to ensuring the future of A&P shows.

Mr Black, aged 44, is the Canterbury A&P Association’s youngest show president.

He is keen to promote wool and encourage more young people to get involved as he looks ahead to the rebranded New Zealand Agricultural Show in November.

”It’s been a great thing for me to be involved in and I would like to see a lot more young people involved. . .

50-Year Plan Needed for Farming Confidence

New Zealand farmers need to take a long-term view if they are to meet the freight train of compliance requirements and other changes heading their way.

Recent farming confidence surveys show a decline in confidence from the rural sector, with Federated Farmers’ results revealing regulation and compliance remain top worries for farmers, along with uncertainty around the future of water regulations under the Government.

Bridgit Hawkins, ReGen CEO, says the farming sector is coming under increasing pressure and the confidence survey results echo what she hears on the farm. . . .

NZ wineries look to continue their stellar performance in the Sydney International Wine Competition – entries for 39th Competition set to close on 21 September:

Entry to the 39th Sydney International Wine Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food – is set to close on 21 September.

After a record year of production in many wine regions, entries to the Sydney International have been flowing in from all districts in Australia and New Zealand and from major wine producers in Europe. Entries to the Competition are capped at a total of 2000 wines to ensure the most rigorous judging process. . .


Rural round-up

17/07/2018

Frustration leads to success – Neal Wallace:

John Falconer makes something of an understatement describing his Central Otago deer farm business as diverse. Neal Wallace visits the Falconers’ Clachanburn Station in the Maniototo, a farmer who says he is benefiting from two generations of careful deer breeding.

The stencilled 1988 on a shed wall at Clachanburn Station in Central Otago is more than a piece of graffiti or a casual reference to a year last century.

It marks the year John Falconer’s parents, Charles and Jane, started progressively replacing sheep with deer on the property near Patearoa in the Maniototo Basin. . .

Couple offer tips for the hive minded -David Hill:

Producing honey can be a sweet addition to farm income, but there are some sticky regulations to comply with.

Culverden farmers Dan and Mandy Shand shared their experiences of running a 2000 hive operation on their 7000ha high country farm, Island Hills Station, at Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s northern South Island farmer council ”FarmSmart” conference last week.

Before returning home to the family farm, Mrs Shand was a scuba diving instructor, while Mr Shand was a software developer. . .

Women in Wine launch pilot national mentoring programme:

A nationwide mentoring programme has been launched to help women within the New Zealand wine industry achieve success.

It’s an initiative of Women in Wine, which was launched by New Zealand Winegrowers in 2017.

Women in any role within the wine industry were welcomed to apply to be a mentor or mentee in June. Applications were then assessed by a selection panel and, after careful consideration, suitable mentor-mentee matches were made. . .

Matt Gomm named first Gisborne Young Fruit Grower:

Matt Gomm, orchard leader at the Burnside Trust, has been named as the first ever Gisborne Young Fruit Grower of the Year at a gala awards dinner on Thursday night.

Some of the best young horticulturalists in Gisborne took part in the competition at Kaiaponi Farms yesterday. The event saw contestants facing a series of challenges designed to test their knowledge and skills around topics vital to the management of a successful orchard, including fencing, biosecurity, and tractor safety. They also delivered a speech to a crowd of 110 people at the White House, including Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, on the importance of innovation and technology in fruit growing. . .

Sustainability and Traceability key themes for Apiculture New Zealand Conference, Sunday 22 to Tuesday 24 July, Blenheim:

Beekeepers, packers, processors, and affiliated businesses from the apiculture industry are gearing up for the Apiculture New Zealand National Conference and Trade Exhibition, opening next Sunday, 22 July in Blenheim.

The three-day conference is filled with presentations and workshops from apiculture experts all over New Zealand and the world. International keynote speakers include Sue Cobey, David Mendes, and Alisha Taff, who are all travelling from the United States to speak to Kiwi delegates. Find their bios, along with the list of local speakers here. . .

Brexit and agriculture – Richard Corbett:

Leaving the EU will presumably mean leaving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

It is claimed that replacing the CAP could be an opportunity for the UK to develop an agricultural policy which promotes competitive and environmentally sustainable farming better than the CAP does, by reducing direct payments to farmers and increasing subsidies for public goods (such as environmental stewardship and high animal welfare standards). It could also be an opportunity to think afresh about how to create a more resilient, innovative and effective agricultural sector.

It is indeed easy to make a list of desirable changes, though one person’s wish list may be another’s hate-list. And securing support for continued farming subsidies from an overwhelmingly urban electorate is likely to produce its own particular tensions, as my colleague Paul Brannen has explored. . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/06/2017

 Holy cow! Port dairy herd back in action  – Sally Rae:

Lulu, Lilly and Louisa are nearly back in business.
Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille was distraught when he booked his beloved cows for slaughter a year ago, after a heifer tested positive for tuberculosis and he was ordered to stop selling raw milk.

He later changed his mind and decided to keep his herd, even though there was no financial return from them.

Now Mr MacNeille and his wife Alex are awaiting sign-off from the Ministry of Primary Industries which will allow them to sell pasteurised milk. . . .

Gallagher and AgResearch explore fence-less farming – Gerard Hutching:

Stock will soon be kept in check without a wire in sight – that’s the promise of technology being developed in Australia with New Zealand investment partners.

The eShepherd technology works by placing a GPS-enabled collar on an animal, “virtually” fencing off an area and training the stock to stay within the boundary.

Ian Reilly of Australian company Agersens has teamed up with Gallagher NZ which is a strategic investor and sits on the board. AgResearch and Agersens have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to trial the technology on New Zealand farms. . .

Gumboot takeover 40 years strong  – Sudesh Kissun:

Ravensdown chief executive Greg Campbell doesn’t want the co-op to be labeled “a fertiliser business and a polluter”.
“If we are getting those messages, we have failed,” he told Rural News.

Instead, Campbell wants Ravensdown known as an agri service business “that happens to use products that protect the environment and the social license to operate”.

“We want to turn the conversation around — from ‘polluters’ to ‘we understand and value what you do and we won’t sell products that will have negative outcomes’.” . .

Demand pushes butter prices to record high – Sally Rae;

Butter prices set a record high of $US5631 per metric tonne in this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, reinforcing the increasing demand for milk fats.

Overall dairy prices lifted 0.6%, although key product whole milk powder fell 2.9% as expected. Anhydrous milk fat (AMF) prices also retreated from an auction record high, falling 1.2%.

A surge in global demand for milk fats could largely be attributed to an acknowledgement by the scientific community that fats were no longer as bad for health as once feared, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said. . . 

Teamwork best Doc says – David Hill:

Collaboration is the way forward for conservation.

Speaking at Federated Farmers’ South Island High Country Conference on Friday, May 26, at Hanmer Springs, Department of Conservation director-general Lou Sanson said collaboration between environmentalists, farmers and government was the best way forward.

”We often hear the criticism that Doc is completely missing in the advocacy area, but I would prefer to sit down and talk about things rather than go to the Environment Court – collaboration is where it happens.

”How do we get a common agreement as a country and make use of the latest science? This is what we would rather see happening than Doc telling you what to do.” . .

Century farmer prefers sheep and beef – Tony Benny:

As many of his neighbours turn to dairy grazing or even convert to dairying, a South Canterbury farmer has stuck with sheep and beef, carrying on a family tradition that goes back 100 years. He talked to Tony Benny.

As many of his neighbours turn to dairy grazing or even convert to dairying, South Canterbury farmer John Crawford has stuck with sheep and beef, carrying on a family tradition that goes back 100 years.

Crawford’s grandfather, also named John, bought the farm he named Kaika Downs in 1916, a few years after the vast Levels Estate where he’d previously worked as a shepherd was broken up.

He farmed the property near Cave, 20km inland of Timaru, South Canterbury, for 35 years, before his sons Norman and Keith, John junior’s father, took over.  . . 

 

 


Quotes of the year

31/12/2013

“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. . . “ Prince Harry.

. . . Whether it is in sport, business, agriculture, the arts, science and the creative industries, or in international fora such as peacekeeping, New Zealanders have repeatedly shown their talent, tenacity, flair and commitment.

That legacy of the new way of doing things was well put by New Zealander and Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts a few years ago when he said: “We were the last to be discovered and the first to see the light. This makes us one of the great experimental cultures. We try things first. Whether it’s votes for women, the welfare state or the market economy, powered flight, nuclear physics, anti-nuclearism, biculturalism. First-isms. The New in New Zealand is our reason to exist.” Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.” Jonny Trevathan, Master Chef entrant.

By 1984 the economy was in a mess, and I hope history will record more positively the decisive actions of both the Lange-Douglas Labour Government and the Bolger-Richardson National Government that followed. The resilience of the New Zealand economy during the recent global downturn owes much to the courage of those Cabinets, at least in their early years, putting New Zealand’s very real needs ahead of political considerations in pursuing necessary reform. – Lockwood Smith

As a former Commonwealth Scholar in Science, I have often regretted that I never got involved in that area during my time here. Science and technology have been so crucial to the advancement of human well-being, yet scientists are a rare breed in politics. Internationally, there is something of a disconnect between the two. In politics, for example, green is the claimed colour of sustainability. Yet in science, the very reason we perceive plants to be green is that they reflect green light. They cannot use it. It is red and blue light that sustain most of our living world. Lockwood Smith

Some commentators assess members on how successfully they play the political game. But to me what sets a member of Parliament apart is how much they care about the impact of the State on an ordinary person, and how far they are prepared to go in representing people whose lives can be so knocked around by the actions of the State. Lockwood Smith

This House, in so many ways, has become a place of political parties rather than a House of Representatives. I am not for one moment trying to make a case for the old system, but I do believe there will come a time when we will need to re-examine that balance of accountabilities. Representation is enhanced when members have to help ordinary people in their local communities, many of whom may never have voted for them. Lockwood Smith.

We aren’t scientists we are farmers, we choose not to debate the science but work hard to deal with changing weather patterns. Bruce Wills.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. The Labour Party has finally adopted one of the very sensible policies of the National Government, and that is the mixed-ownership model. That is right. These days, the Labour Party is 51 percent owned by Labour and 49 percent owned by the Greens. Yes, these two parties have come together in this happy little place, where fruit meets loop. John Key.

. . . Kids who read stay out of jail (unless they grow up to be financial investment directors). Reading gives them words. Words give them the ability to express and clarify themselves to others. How many young guys end up in strife because they don’t have the vocab to explain what they’re doing, and so they move from incoherence to frustration to violence?

Reading helps young people come to terms with themselves and their issues. . .  David Hill

“Oh my god, another cross to bear,” Tim Shadbolt on being told  he was the most trusted mayor in the country in a Readers Digest poll.

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .Sam Johnson

. . . You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be. . .  Sam Johnson

. . . I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that. Sam Johnson

One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.” District Court Judge Russell Callander

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” – Ted Ford

A Government should not be relied upon to create jobs. To bolster our economy and growth, we need the private sector to be creating jobs in the tradeables sector.

Whether they are high-earning export roles, or an entry level company, it is the job of entrepreneurs. Government’s role is to put in place the right conditions for economic growth, so companies can feel comfortable about expanding, growing, or just starting out in the business world.

Local government also has a role, through having plans for economic growth and development that encourage businesses and don’t stifle their creativity. Eric Roy

Politics is a two-stage process: first you’re sworn in, then, inevitably, eventually, you’re sworn at. Denis Welch.

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

. . . within 48 hours it looks very much to us as if it is just another David, another day, and another step to the left, as we see the disloyalty in the Labour caucus slowly beginning to foment. Gerry Brownlee.

But now, of course, under the new leader of the Labour Party, the pledge card, like his CV, will be a living document—kind of like the Treaty but without the principles.Bill English

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” – Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

The big, bad thing is that large parts of the Left have never faced up to the failure of socialism. The nicer Leftists, often very belatedly, deplored Stalin and Mao – the purges, the Gulags, the famines, the invasions. The more intelligent ones detected certain (let us put it gently) problems with state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Yet when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was knocked down by the citizens in whose name it had been erected, few could admit that this was a defeat for socialism as fundamental as that of Nazism in 1945. . . Charles Moore

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé. Tim Minchin

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. Tim Minchin

Parliament applauded Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize for her book ‘The Luminaries’ when it resumed today.

Prime Minister John Key said the success should be celebrated by New Zealanders as much as they did sporting victories. Catton’s feat in becoming the youngest winner of the prize at 28, came as 16 year old Lorde topped the US charts with her music showing New Zealand was blessed with strong, creative young women. Parliament Today

“You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with.” John Key

Not so much a political honeymoon as a naughty weekend with the floating voters. – Vernon Small on David Cunliffe.

. . . Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols. These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused. Judith Collins

. . . considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now?

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. Farming Show host Jamie Mackay on Labour after its leader refused to appear on the show in case he was laughed at.

. . . For the farmer, the business person, the property owner, and the financial investor it’s all pretty straightforward. What’s in it for National’s electoral base is economic growth, low inflation, reduced taxation and a reasonable rate-of-return. What they’re not looking for is more economic regulation, higher taxes, rising prices or inflationary wage demands.

Getting the attention of those who feel that their stake in New Zealand society is much too meagre to matter is a considerably more daunting task. Chris Trotter

There is a saying that you do not beat New Zealand – you just get more points than them at the final whistle. – Sir Ian McGeechan

“I don’t really believe in Great — insert a country — Novels,” she said. “I don’t see how you can reconcile that with diversity, and I think the diversity is the most important thing in any national literature.” Eleanor Catton

I knew it would never be about zeroes. I’m not a spreadsheet with hair; will never be. I am an artist, an author, with a hunger for showing people what I can do and a talent for making people turn my name into a call while they’re waiting front row. It’s me. I’m here. – Lorde

Imagine if Nelson Mandela was as angry as John Minto when he got out of prison” – Josie Pagani on ‘The Huddle

Beyond the All Blacks being unbeaten for a whole season, and Emirates Team New Zealand coming second in a two-boat race, what put New Zealand on the world’s front pages in 2013 was a novel, a song and a film. – Hamish Keith

It’s one of the oldest cliches in politics – that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it’s not. Tim Watkins

I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. – Colin Craig

“Tasmanian Devils are renowned for their big mouths, bad behaviour and noisiness, so they will fit in well with the nation’s politicians in the capital,” Nick Smith

I totally disagree with it. If you’re going to earn money, you earn it. You’re given it by your productivity.” – Sir John Walker on the living wage.

Science is not a bunch of facts. Scientists are not people trying to be prescriptive or authoritative. Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It’s easier, at a dinner party, to say ”science” than to say ”the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias”. Douglas Adams said: ”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality – whatever that is – and you don’t have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world. Tim Minchin

. . . Remember the Government’s $30 million cash injection to secure the immediate future of Tiwai Point?  That helped to protect 3,200 jobs and the smelter’s $1.6 billion annual contribution to the Southland economy. Dairying doesn’t need such support, but in 2009, it injected over $700 million into the Southland economy and employed over 2,300 people.  Dairying may not be number one here but we’re a pretty important second that’s become more important over the past four years. . . Russell MacPherson

All of us pay for some of us to indulge romantic dreams about trains or to feed fanciful beliefs that the government owns these “assets which are valuable”

This stuff is not silver its rust… the best performers can’t perform without laws which force revenue into their pockets, the worst performers are a receivers dream.

Genuine concern for the poor would not see government owning commercial assets. Eye to the Long Run

. . . If from the time their children could read, parents had introduced them to newspapers, as certainly happened when I was young, rather than addiction to idiotic texting, they would, instead, be addicted to the world in all of its wide-ranging fascination and zaniness (the human factor), as delivered to us daily in the newspaper.

It’s a shame as nothing matches the daily newspaper for sheer stimulation, education, and entertainment value for money. Take a recent Dominion Post. First the pleasure of its crosswords and tussling over the wordgame, this after quickly scanning the front page for later reading. Each news item induced a full spectrum of emotions, from rage to delight, in the latter case from the splendid heading, “Mr Whippy frozen with fear by chainsaw wielding cross-dresser”. That alone was worth the price of the paper and was promptly dispatched to friends abroad. These texting obsessives don’t know what they’re missing. . .  –  Bob Jones

. . .  Seemingly the first duty on rising every morning for Remuerites is to go outside and rake up the $100 notes that have fallen like confetti on them overnight. It must be very tiresome.  . . Bob Jones

. . . But as you go through life when you run into a brick wall, you’ve just got to knock the bastard over. – Sir Peter Leitch.

 


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