Rural round-up

14/08/2021

Feds worst fears realised on drinking water reforms:

Federated Farmers is profoundly disappointed to see the Water Services Bill reported back to the Parliament with the definition of a “water supplier” unchanged.

“The government has now signed itself up for the enormous task of tracking down every single source of drinking water in the land and making them belong to a register if they supply any other household,” Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

Despite extensive arguments from Federated Farmers and many others at the select committee hearings, tens of thousands of rural and farm supply arrangements will fall within the scope of the new water regulator Taumata Arowai.

The new agency takes over from the Ministry of Health to take responsibility for the quality and provision of drinking water in New Zealand.

“We wanted the government to recognise the folly of trying to track down every single little supplier,” Andrew says. . .

Southland MP presents petition for dairy farmers:

Today Member of Parliament for Southland Joseph Mooney submitted his petition seeking allocated MIQ capacity to bring more skilled dairy farm workers into the country as the pressure of staff shortages continues to mount on farms across New Zealand.

Mr Mooney launched his petition to allocate 500 MIQ spaces each fortnight to skilled migrant dairy workers into the country in June, well in advance of the beginning of calving season.

“Calving is now well underway on many farms across the country and staff shortages have put an immense strain on both farm managers and existing workers,” Mr Mooney says.

“Labour must act now for the good of the physical and mental wellbeing of those working in New Zealand’s dairy farming sector. The shortage of workers across the dairy industry can only be described as dire. Farmers are desperate to find more staff, but they are just not out there. . .

New wool products seek markets – David Anderson:

A new initiative targeting new products and markets for NZ strong wool – with export applications as diverse as cosmetics and printing – has recently been launched.

Wool Source, a subsidiary of Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ), aims to develop the new products and assess market demand for the strong wool innovation. This follows the completion of its pilot production facility at Lincoln to manufacture its first deconstructed wool ingredients from 100% New Zealand strong wool.

The three-year programme aims to prove the commercial viability of the new deconstructed wool particle products. The goal is to develop more sustainable product ingredient alternatives for global manufacturers and consumers – while revitalising New Zealand’s strong wool sector, creating new value for our economy and communities.

“By funding fundamental and enabling science that creates new uses and products from our traditional wool clip, we aim to create better outcomes for farmers with increased demand and pricing at the farm gate,” WRONZ chair Andy Fox says. . . 

Farmers raised concerns about nutrient monitoring tool for ‘over 10 years’ :

A system used to estimate nitrogen loss from farms, and used by regional councils for regulation, has “significant problems”, Minister for the Environment David Parker says.

The software programme Overseer was initially developed to help farmers make more efficient use of nutrients, with the aim of boosting both productivity and profitability.

But it has steadily been adopted by regional councils to regulate farmers’ activity, with the end goal of improving water quality by limiting what ends up in waterways.

A report in 2018 by the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment criticised the tool as flawed, opaque and open to gaming by farmers.  . .

Primary Production Committee workforce inquiry opens for public submissions:

The Primary Production Committee has opened for public submissions on its inquiry into the future of the workforce needs in the primary industries of New Zealand.

The aim of the inquiry—which was initiated in March 2021—is to look into issues about the future of workforce needs in the growing food and fibre industries, and what they will look like in the short, medium and long-term future, as we continue to innovate and develop new technologies.

In the 52nd Parliament, the committee opened a briefing about vocational training in agriculture. The issues raised during the briefing will feed into the broader inquiry. . .

 

Gower lamb first to receive legal protection following Brexit:

Welsh Gower Lamb has become the first product to receive protected status under the UK’s new post-Brexit Geographical Indication schemes.

With the registration now complete, the meat produced from lambs born and reared on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales has gained full protection as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

Gower Salt Marsh Lamb producers were able to demonstrate their meat’s characteristics are essentially and exclusively due to its particular area of production.

The new Geographical Indication (GI) schemes were launched after the end of the transition period with the European Union. . . 


Rural round-up

02/07/2021

Invercargill MP says the Government’s road funding cuts are a bitter blow – Penny Simmonds:

Roads are our lifeblood, and I’m particularly concerned about the economic impact on Southland if our roading infrastructure can’t be kept up to scratch.

The Southland District Council is currently grappling with some tough decisions around the future of our ageing road network after the Government recently cut funding by $7.5 million.

The situation in Southland is dire and the statistics make sober reading.

There are currently 1081 bridges, including 239 stock underpasses, across the province. . .

SNAs cover much of province – report says

It is official — West Coast is pretty much one big significant natural area.

A desktop assessment of native vegetation on private land on the West Coast has identified nearly every site as a potentially significant natural area.

Wildlands Consultants, which researched SNAs for councils working on a new combined district plan for the Coast, have handed in their report in time for the Te Tai o Poutini Plan Committee meeting yesterday.

The team of ecologists did a desktop evaluation of the region’s biodiversity using computerised topographical maps and have cautioned that nearly all the mapped sites will need to be field-checked. . .

David Parker admits wetland rules ‘have gone too far’ but changes will be difficult and expensive – Hamish Rutherford:

David Parker admits new rules on freshwater management have gone too far in defining wetlands, but the difficult path to fixing it shows why the Resource Management Act needs changing.

On Tuesday morning the Herald reported ministers have faced warnings from some of New Zealand’s leading housing and construction companies that the new rules on wetlands effectively mean farm tracks and even the overflow of septic tanks can be captured by the new definition.

As he released the first of three pieces of legislation which will replace the RMA, Parker said the freshwater rules brought into place just prior to the 2020 election would need to be fixed.

“We do accept that that definition’s gone a bit far,” Parker told reporters in the Beehive on Tuesday on the definition of wetlands. . .

Wairarapa durum wheat trial aims to supply NZ bakers:

It’s hoped a trial of durum wheat in the Waiarapa will help supply flour for New Zealand’s growing appetite for pasta.

Durum wheat had been grown in Canterbury and processed in a factory in Timaru, but inconsistency in quality led to the factory moving to Australia.

A Ministry for Primary Industries-funded study carried out between 2017 and 2020 found the wheat could be successfully grown in the Wairarapa thanks to its warm, dry summers and quality soils.

The Foundation of Arable Research is doing further work to see how growers can get the best value for the crop. . . .

Sheep remain dominant on South Island hill and high country –  Keith Woodford:

In previous articles, I first described the North Island’s 4000 commercial hill-country farms (Beef+Lamb Classes 3 and 4). Subsequently, I wrote about the approximately 4400 intensive sheep and beef farms that are spread across both North and South Islands (Beef+Lamb Classes 5, 6, 7 and 8). That left the story of 620 South Island hill-country farms and 200 high-country farms to be told here. It is a contrasting story.

The combined number of South Island hill and high-country farms is modest, comprising less than ten percent of the 9200 commercial sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, these farms comprise more than one third of New Zealand’s total sheep and beef grazing area.

These are big farms both by area and livestock numbers, despite much lower stocking rates than all other farm types.  However, the differences between the hill and high-country farms are sufficient that first I will consider them separately before, drawing out some common themes. . . 

Stoatally different! How the ‘science of individuals’ is changing how we see pests – Jamie McAulay:

It’s just before midday and starting to drizzle as stoat trapper Ana Richards pulls a rotting stoat carcass from a DOC trap and scoops it into a plastic container, dripping.

She’s 4 days into a 6 day trapping trip through Fiordland’s wild Murchison Mountains. From this rugged spur, the stinky stoat will eventually find its way to a University of Otago laboratory, and the forefront of efforts to understand how the ‘science of individuals’ plays out on protection of our native birds. 

We tend to think of pests as pests – a rat is a rat, a stoat is a stoat, right? But we know the types of prey taken by large bodied carnivores, like bears and wolves, actually varies considerably. Individuals have different tastes, or so it would seem. In my research, I joined scientists at the University of Otago, Department of Conservation and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research to see if this was true of the small-sized carnivores too. We set out to understand individual variations in how small carnivores hunt, and how we could use any lessons to our advantage in the fight to protect native species.  . . 


Rural round-up

26/03/2021

Sensible pause – Rural News:

Finally the Government has made a sensible move to temporarily pause the implementation of the impractical rules that accompany its proposed regulations on winter grazing.

Last week Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced a temporary delay, until 1 May 2022, of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect.

For months farmers, industry groups and councils around the country have highlighted the unworkability of the rules and that numerous issues need to be addressed. Hopefully, this extra time will ensure that both politicians and bureaucrats will now listen to the real concerns of farmers and councils, and implement rules that will actually work to benefit the environment and farming.

It is unbelievable that despite empirical evidence about how the IWG rules, that were part of the Essential Freshwater legislation passed in August last year, had a number of unworkable parts, ministers and bureaucrats took so long to act. This ‘we know best’ attitude needs to change as it is a huge hindrance to making any real progress in improving the country’s water. . . 

South Island Agricultural Field Days expects to draw 30,000 to N Canty – Hugo Cameron:

The Canterbury town of Kirwee is expecting to see up to 30,000 people turn up for one of the country’s largest regional field days events this week.

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, founded in 1951, is the oldest show of its kind in New Zealand and is taking place through until Friday.

Event chairperson Michaela McLeod said she was looking forward to bringing the sector together after a tough year due to Covid-19.

“There have been a number of A&P shows and other events cancelled around the country. They are such important events for farmers and traders, and I know it’s been very hard on a lot of people not having them,” she said. . . 

Anger, guilt and optimism: young farmers’ complicated relationship with climate change – Charlie O’Mannin:

As farming confronts its climate impact, Charlie O’Mannin speaks to the next generation about how they feel. In short: it’s complicated.

“If you’re waking up every morning feeling awful about the job you’re in, feeling like you’re the reason climate change is happening, like you need to counteract your emissions, like you need fewer cows, well what would be the point in waking up and getting the cows in?”

Briana Lyons belongs to a generation of young farmers facing a radical future.

Agriculture makes up 48 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Ministry for the Environment’s 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report. . . 

Two million tonnes of greenhouse gas up for grabs with minimal production hit:

Ravensdown’s recommendations to the Climate Change Commission focus on three specific solutions that can save two million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year with minimal impact on agsector production.

The farmer-owned co-operative’s submission sent yesterday points out the potential savings of using inhibitors that reduce the amount of nitrous oxide being emitted and lost from granulated nitrogen fertiliser and livestock urine.

“Proven urease inhibitors are available for use at scale across New Zealand. Nitrification inhibitors have shown promise in the past and should also be pursued for the future. For both, we’re asking that the Commission looks into how obstacles to adoption can be overcome,” said Mike Manning, General Manager Innovation and Strategy at the co-operative.

“We agree with the Commission that agsector productivity is key – especially when the country is facing such debt and economic uncertainty. At the same time, we believe in smarter farming, in New Zealand’s ambition to hit its climate goals and in the need for practical, scalable innovations to do so,” added Mike. . . 

Leading kiwifruit companies to amalgamate:

Seeka Limited (“Seeka”) and Opotiki Packing and Cool Storage Limited (“OPAC”) are to join via amalgamation. This transaction will see Seeka expand further to be operational in all of New Zealand’s major kiwifruit growing regions in a deal that continues to consolidate the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

The OPAC shareholders will receive new shares in Seeka at the ratio of 1.4833 Seeka shares for every 1 OPAC share held, valuing the net assets of OPAC at $33.94m provided OPAC shareholders approve the transaction with a 75% approval required. Seeka will assume approximately $25.06m of debt as part of the acquisition bringing the total deal to $59.00m.

The offer is subject to a number of conditions, including approval of OPAC’s shareholders to the amalgamation at a shareholders’ meeting to be held on Tuesday 13 April 2021; and approval by Seeka’s shareholders to the issue of up to 7,042,574 new shares in Seeka at the ASM to be held on Friday 16 April 2021. Further details will be advised in the respective Notice of Meeting to be sent to each Company’s shareholders prior to their meetings. . .

Flood damage: where to find help – Andrew Norris:

As we watch the damage emerge along NSW’s coastal regions as the flood waters move through, you can’t help but feel for those who have copped the brunt of it.

The sheer extent of the flooding has been incredible, and to hear multiple stories about how livestock have been stranded or have turned up in unusual places like the beach or somebody’s backyard is quite bewildering.

This is all before the damage assessment begins in earnest. The extent of infrastructure that will need repairing or replacing and the amount of pastures that will remain unsuitable for grazing will be extensive.

The federal government already has lump sum payments available for which those affected by the March floods can apply, although Moree, which is also dealing with major flooding now too, was not on that list as we went to print (visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au). . . 


Rural round-up

23/03/2021

Border exemptions for The Lion King show Government is not listening, farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural businesses affected by the severe seasonal labour shortage say the Government is not listening to their concerns, after it was revealed that 126 people involved in The Lion King play had been granted visas under the “other critical worker” category.

Owner of farm work agency, Hanzon Jobs, Richard Houston, said he felt his industry had been “disregarded”.

Kiwifruit grower and packer, Seeka chief executive, Michael Franks, said labour was going to be “very tight” next month, which meant people were working long hours and he was concerned about possible health and safety implications.

“It’s clear that the Government is not listening to us. I predict it’s going to get tighter, particular after Easter when we open our night shifts and we get our processing business up to speed,” Franks said. . . 

Unity needed to tackle rules -Annette Scott:

While it is encouraging that the Government has listened to the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, it is also the trigger reiterating that farmers must keep being heard, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The environmental reset facing the high country farming sector proved the underlying current in the presentations and discussions for more than 100 farmers and industry stakeholders who turned out for a field trip through the Lees Valley, North Canterbury, taking in Richon and McDonald Downs Stations.

The day followed the announcement by Environment Minister David Parker that the Government had accepted some of the group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led intensive winter grazing module to farm plans in the coming year, while also delaying implementation of the winter grazing rules.

In his presentation at the field day, Allen said the announcement was the result of farmers and industry front-footing action for farmer-led practical solutions that will achieve better results than arbitrary rules. . . 

Launching the New Zealand Dairy Story:

Our dairy story is one of Dairy Goodness for the World.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been developed in partnership with the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), with input from DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Dairy Women’s Network; with support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The development of the story established seven defining elements as part of the sector’s story:

Natural
New Zealand is favoured by nature when it comes to making milk, with a climate, soils and abundant water that create a perfect environment for growing grass. Our cows can access pasture year-round. Our geography means New Zealand is free from many pests and diseases, supporting healthy cows and allowing us to farm with a lighter hand. . . 

No more nail polish for woman who gave up life in accounts for organic farming – Lawrence Gullery:

Shannon Wright used to go to work wearing nail polish on her fingers but now she comes home with soil under her fingernails.

It has been almost five years since she swapped out her office job to start a business growing and supplying vegetables for farmers markets, organic food outlets and supermarkets in Hamilton and Cambridge.

“I used to work in accounts, payroll, HR, health and safety for a firm in Te Rapa but things started to change after I had Izabel, my third child.

“I went along to a permaculture course when she was nine months old and that really started the ball rolling. . . 

Farming families celebrate – Richard Davison:

Organisers of an annual celebration of rural history are crossing their fingers Covid-19 will not intervene again this year.

After having to postpone last year’s Century Farms event due to the Covid-19 lockdown, organisers said they were hoping a long list of patient participants would finally be able to celebrate in Lawrence this May.

The event, which celebrates families who have been farming their own land for 100 years or more, held its first and, until now, largest gathering in 2006, but was due to beat that record with 70 attending families spread over two weekends last year.

Century Farms chairwoman Karen Roughan said she was delighted only one family had dropped off that roster since, although it still left the three-day event vulnerable to a change in Covid-19 alert status. . . 

 

Sanatech Seed launches world’s first GE tomato – Maura Maxwell:

Sanatech Seed, the Japanese start-up behind the launch of the world’s first direct consumption genome-edited tomato, says the variety is the first of several it plans to develop with enhanced nutritional benefits.

The company’s Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato was developed using cutting edge CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. It contains high levels of Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.

According to Shimpei Takeshita, president of Sanatech Seed and chief innovation officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the exclusive distributor of the tomato, it contains four to five times more GABA than a regular tomato. . . 


Rural round-up

21/03/2021

B+LNZ defend rules approach – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is defending its dealings with the Government in the face of farmers claiming they are not being hard-nosed enough.

There was an obvious undercurrent from many of the 150 farmers at this week’s B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill that their sector leaders and representatives are not being publicly assertive enough in criticising policy.

Wyndham farmer Bruce Robertson told the meeting the implications for his farm of the intensive winter grazing provisions were huge and he questioned whether bodies like B+LNZ have emphasised the impact of such policy on farm businesses.

Other farmers raised similar concerns, which were echoed by B+LNZ Southern South Island farmer council chair Bill McCall when wrapping up the meeting. . .

Extra time will enable development of practical winter grazing solutions:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Government has taken the time to listen to and understand the practical difficulties that accompanied the Essential Freshwater rules on winter grazing.

“In announcing tonight a temporary delay until 1 May 2022 of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect, Environment Minister David Parker has recognised workability issues need to be sorted, and that extra time is vital to ensure we get this right,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“This is not kicking for touch. The Minister has accepted a commitment from regional councils and the farming sector to use this time to develop, test and deploy an IWG module and practices that will ultimately be a part of a certified freshwater farm plan.”

There is universal recognition that the Essential Freshwater national rules passed in August last year have a number of unworkable parts. The parts that relate to the regulation of intensive winter grazing were one of the first ones to take effect and therefore needed urgent attention. . .

Tropical fruit, coffee crops potential for winterless north :

A Northland family is preparing to harvest the country’s first ever commercial pineapple crop – and they are looking for more New Zealanders to grow the golden fruit and supply the country.

Linda and Owen Schafli moved to Whangārei from Hamilton 10 years ago with plans to grow tropical fruit, specifically bananas and pineapples.

Their vision was initially greeted by laughter from those they told, with not many people convinced it would work.

“Because it’s never been done before here in New Zealand, people thought it could never be done,” Linda said. . . 

2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aim to continue to grow their farming business while protecting the environment through sustainable farming.

Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand in Wigram on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Maria Alvarez, who was named the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Mattes Groenendijk, the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Gamages say the networking, strength and weakness identification and recognition they gain through the Awards process were all motivating factors to enter again. Dinuka was placed third in the 2016 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager category. . .

2021 West Coast/Top of South Island Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

First-time entrants who embrace a sustainable version of farming have been announced as major winners in the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards. 

Mark Roberts and Sian Madden were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Rachael Lind, who was named the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Smithers, the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mark and Sian are contract milkers and 20% share milkers on Stu and Jan Moir’s (Moir Farms Ltd) 215ha and 377ha Reefton farms milking 1300 cows across the two properties. They won $6,500 in prizes and three merit awards.

“We have a genuine passion for the dairy industry and are committed to farming sustainably and showing others how we do this for future generations.” . .

E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri summit set to spark innovation across the food and fibre sector:

Boma New Zealand is proud to present E Tipu 2021 | The Boma NZ Agri Summit, the biggest food and fibre event of the year featuring remarkable local and global guest speakers at the forefront of the industry.

Held on May 11–12 at the Christchurch Town Hall, E Tipu will see a mass gathering of both local and international thought-leaders, game-changers, business operators and like-minded attendees from the primary sector.

Amongst the confirmed guest speakers will be prominent business leader and respected CEO Paul Polman. Formerly CEO of Unilever, Paul is the Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, an organisation that works with CEOs who are building their companies into beacons of sustainable business and leveraging their collective power to drive change on tipping points in their industry. . .

 


Govt admits it got grazing regs wrong

19/03/2021

The government’s change of heart over winter grazing regulations is an admission it got them badly wrong:

Environment Minister David Parker has had no choice but to defer the implementation of the intensive winter grazing in Southland for one year, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“This is the third time there’s been changes to this set of regulations. Minister Parker clearly rushed the process, he didn’t consult properly with the sector, and now he’s having to delay for a year.

“While farmers will welcome the delay, there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure any new regulations can actually be achieved.

“The Minister has developed a policy based on ideological notions and once again he has had to back down after realising it isn’t practical or based in science.

The new regulations must be based on science and they would be a lot better if they are led by farmers and not politicians and bureaucrats who don’t understand the issues.

“Farmers showed up in their hundreds to tell Minister Parker his regulations were rushed and unachievable.

“But this playing for time gives no certainty or clarity around what farmers will be expected to have implemented by next year.

“The risk is that the Minister sets unachievable standards, opening up the prospect of the Intensive Water Grazing rules being implemented in Southland.

“National supports having cleaner waterways in New Zealand but we have to back farmers to farm their way to better outcomes. They must see a pathway to improve while being profitable.

“Farmers want practical solutions, and National would work with the regions to make sure the rules are suited to every area.”

So much money and time have been wasted over the initial proposals that were impractical and had support from neither farmers who’d have had to implement them nor councils which would have had to monitor them.

The government must use the extra time to work with farmers and councils to get regulations which are workable and lead to improved water quality without sabotaging food production the way the initial proposals would have.

 


Where’s the urgency?

11/02/2021

Another day, another announcement of an announcement that shows no sense of urgency:

The Government needs to show more urgency and commitment if it ever wants to make meaningful strides towards solving the housing shortage and getting wins for the environment.

National’s spokesperson for Housing and RMA reform Nicola Willis says first-home buyers will be disappointed the Government isn’t moving fast enough to make house building easier.

“House prices have risen more than 40 per cent since Labour came to office, yet Labour has shown no urgency when it comes to making it easier to build houses in this country.

“National has offered to work with Labour on emergency legislation, much like the special powers used in the Christchurch rebuild, which would accelerate house building nationwide.

What worked in Christchurch would work everywhere else.

“We’re disappointed that Labour hasn’t accepted our offer to form a special select committee and get on with this, much like it turned down the chance to work in a bipartisan way on RMA reform while National was last in Government.

“Now Labour plans to spend another three years moving RMA legislation through Parliament. Given the time it will also take local councils to amend their plans, it could easily be the late 2020s before any of these changes take effect.”

Ms Willis says she is concerned about the proposal for developments to be within biophysical limits and have positive environmental outcomes before proceeding, which David Parker has acknowledged will need to be carefully managed to avoid impacting house building.

“These changes may actually make it harder to build houses.”

National’s spokesperson for Environment and RMA reform Scott Simpson says Labour is heading down the wrong path with its reforms.

“For a Government that talks a big game on the need for environmental gains, it is moving at a snail’s pace.

“There’s a real risk its plans for new legislation will make things more complicated, costly and confusing than is currently the case, without achieving the environmental gains they seek.”

At the last election, National proposed splitting the RMA into an Environmental Standards Act, setting clear and efficient environmental bottom lines; and an Urban Planning and Development Act, making it easier to build houses in our cities, Mr Simpson says.

“This approach would ensure that our natural spaces are well protected, while also making sure we have a positive process for allowing houses to be built in already developed areas.”

Labour was telling us there was a housing crisis long before the party was in power.

It’s now in its second term, the lack of supply is driving house prices well beyond the means of average earners and rents are following a similar path.

The RMA is one of the factors contributing to development and building costs.

The government should stop playing politics and work with National to get solutions with the urgency that’s required.

 


Rural round-up

21/12/2020

Ministers receive recommendations from winter grazing advisory group – Rachael Kelly:

A Southland group is asking that pugging rules and, in particular, resowing dates imposed on farmers should be deleted from Government regulations as they are unfair.

The Southland Advisory Group has made the recommendations to the Government’s new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor are now considering the recommendations.

The group says the resowing date conditions should be deleted. Under the new rules, all sowing of winter crops in Southland and Otago needs to be completed by November 1. . .

Opportunity to close 13km cycle trail gap lost because of DOC’s ‘incompetency’ – Debbie Jamieson:

A 13-kilometre gap in the centre of one of Otago’s top cycle trails will likely remain after a Department of Conservation (DOC) “stuff up”.

Cyclists on the 34km Roxburgh Gorge trail have had to take a $100 jet boat ride along the length of the gap, where farmers have denied access, since the trail opened in 2013.

A pastoral lease review last year could have allowed the stretch to be transferred into public ownership and enabled the trail to be built, but DOC was two days late in submitting its request. . . 

Life as a solo farmer –  Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki farmer is doing it alone and although life can get hectic at times, every day she pulls on her gumboots and happily heads off to milk her cows.

Farming is hard work. But when you farm alone, there is no one to help when the work pressure mounts, and every decision falls squarely on your shoulders.

Maryanne Dudli milks 175 cows on an 84-hectare leased farm at Auroa, in South Taranaki. She runs the farm on her own and takes pride in running an efficient farm, and owning a high production herd. 

Dudli grew up on the family dairy farm and has been absolutely passionate about cows as far back as she can remember. . . 

Taking stock of farming – Laura Smith:

Regenerative agriculture is a buzz phrase in farming circles at the moment. A pilot study in Otago Southland has been building a base for research into it in New Zealand. Laura Smith reports.

The science

Southern farmers are among the first in the country to offer informed insight into the outcomes of regenerative agriculture.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investment programmes director Steve Penno said while there was increasing interest from farmers and the wider community, definitions for the practice varied. . .

Scheme aimed at easing way into orchard work – Mark Price:

Thirty young people willing to earn up to $25 an hour picking cherries have so far joined a pilot work scheme devised by three Upper Clutha women, (from left) Liz Breslin, Sarah Millwater and Sarah Fox.

All parents of teenagers, they met yesterday  to discuss their target of signing up 100 young people aged 16 to 25.

Their intention is to ease young people into paid holiday employment by providing transport to the Central Pac cherry orchard near Cromwell and helping them with tax and other employment-related issues.

The scheme, operating under the name Upper Clutha Youth Workforce also requires funding for two support workers. . .

Promising new test for Johne’s :

A promising new test for Johne’s disease in dairy cattle has been developed at the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) and School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast.

The new test is said to be both more rapid and sensitive in detecting the infectious agent (MAP) of Johne’s in veterinary specimens. It is showing greater detection capability than the milk-ELISA test that is currently used.

Crucially, it detects live infectious agent, not just antibodies against MAP as are detected by milk-ELISA.

In a recent study, the new test was able to detect more infected animals by milk testing than milk-ELISA, so could potentially facilitate control of Johne’s faster. . . 


Rural round-up

06/12/2020

B+LNZ has ‘farmers’ backs’ over new rules:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it has “farmers’ backs” and will not stop advocating for them over the controversial freshwater rules.

In an update to farmers, chief executive Sam McIvor said the organisation had met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker in the past couple of weeks and it would seek meetings with Climate Change Minister James Shaw and newly appointed Forestry Minister Stuart Nash.

“Our focus has been on changes to the essential freshwater rules, making progress on the certified freshwater farm plan, holding them to their promises on issues like carbon farming and asking for a pause on new environmental rules. We’re also collaborating with other industry groups on these issues,” Mr McIvor said.

Farmers had identified three key issues with the freshwater rules, including arbitrary resowing dates for winter grazing on forage crops which many farmers were not able to meet because of climatic and soil conditions. . .

Fruit growers ‘doing their best’ to hire suitable NZ workers – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago fruit growers are rubbishing claims they’re turning down New Zealanders for local fruit picking work as they would prefer cheap foreign labour.

It follows union concerns that plenty of people are applying for jobs, but are waiting weeks for replies if they get them at all.

Orchard owners have been calling for the government to allow in more seasonal workers from Pacific countries to help with the summer fruit harvest.

Stephen Darling runs Darlings Fruit in Ettrick, Central Otago, growing mainly apples and apricots. . .

New chair of Safer Farms and two new directors announced:

Safer Farms has welcomed three new Directors to its Board, including Lindy Nelson who has also been announced as the organisation’s new Chair.

The Agri Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) co-founder has taken over from Justine Kidd, who has chaired Safer Farms’ since its formation in 2017 and will remain on the Board.

Federated Farmers’ Vice President Karen Williams and Zanda MacDonald Award Winner Jack Raharuhi were named as the new Directors at the organisation’s AGM.

Kidd said the high calibre and large number of applicants for the positions were a true testament to the passion the industry has for its people. . . 

GO NZ: Waitaki Valley girls’ weekend – hiking high country wine region – Anna King Sahib:

Getting high in the Waitaki back country, hot-tubbing and gin – all the ingredients for a great girls’ away weekend, writes Anna King Shahab

A couple of days in the Waitaki Valley, inland from Ōamaru provided the chance to follow the footsteps of those who farm our food, and to taste the fruits of the country’s youngest wine region.

Our girls’ weekend away had been built around a simple, wholesome concept: a walk on the farm. We’d booked in with new guided walk operator Sole to Soul Hiking – the passion project of Sally Newlands Juliet Gray, best friends making a living on neighboring farms in the Hakataramea Valley, a 50-minute drive inland from Ōamaru. The impetus of Sally and Juliet’s business is to share the numerous benefits they experience daily when walking the high country they farm – a workout, yes, and also a connection with the land and environment, an awareness of where and how our food is raised, and a chance to practise mindfulness. . . 

Silver Fern Farms celebrates Plate to Pasture Award winners:

Coromandel beef producers Brent and Kara Lilley have received the Silver Fern Farms 2020 Plate to Pasture Award for their exceptional consumer focus.

The Awards, now in their 7th year, celebrate suppliers of lamb, beef, venison, and bull beef who consistently supply quality stock and produce food with the consumer front of mind.

All Silver Fern Farms suppliers are assessed on the specification & presentation of stock, their Farm Assurance status, supply direct via Silver Fern Farms Livestock agents, Shareholding, Supply volume & timing and use of FarmIQ tools. . .

A dairy solution to Australia’s out of control feral camels – Denise Cullen:

Australia has the biggest feral camel population in the world, but one farmer is working to change public perception of this ‘pest’.

Ten years ago, Australian cattle grazier Paul Martin decided that he couldn’t stand to see another camel shot.

In the 1800s, camels were shipped to Australia from the Middle East, India and Afghanistan to help open up the country’s vast remote interior. They were later released into the Australian wilderness en masse with the advent of mechanised transportation.

With their energy-storing humps, broad toes that support their weight on sand and ability to eat 85 percent of even tough and thorny vegetation, they were perfectly suited to the dry, desert conditions which make up more than one-third of the continent.  . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

08/10/2020

Changes just don’t add up :

Farmer Jane Smith claims that farmers find comments from David Parker, Damien O’Connor and the Green Party’s James Shaw nauseating.

“This is our licence to operate with our global trading partners and will attract added-value premiums,” she says.

“This lacks any metric or rationale,” says Smith. “We are creating our own hurdles at a rate higher than any other primary producer in the world. For every dollar spent on food worldwide, the farmer receives on average, less than 10 cents.”

This is a topic of discussion Smith often has with offshore peers around the Global Farmer Roundtable.  . . 

Critic calls for major investigation into freshwater reforms :

Award-winning, environmentally-focused farmer Jane Smith wonders whether she’s farming in North Otago or North Korea.

She is calling for a full review into the process behind Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) Fresh Water National Policy Statement – particularly around the recent legislation for winter grazing practices and land use categorised solely on slope.

“The public have been sold a sanitised version of the truth and are going to pay an unacceptable price for what I suggest is effectively an abuse of legislative power,” she told Rural News.

While Smith is opposed to the punitive regulations in their current form, it is the process that she is challenging – rather than the outcome itself. She says her time in a myriad of governance roles have shown the importance of transparency in procedure behind every decision.  . .

Fonterra sells farms in China to reduce debt get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant  Fonterra  has  scooped in  $555 million by selling  its   China  farms  and is now aiming to unload   its yogurt business, a partnership with Nestle, located in Brazil, as  it  pursues  its  strategy of seeking  greater value, rather than volume,  in its  business.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell   conceded  the  China  farm  business

“ … has  been a tough journey for us along the way, we had to take an impairment to that asset in 2019 and again in 2020 so certainly they haven’t been as operationally effective as we would have liked.  That said, we have made significant progress of late and that’s put us in a better position to sell these assets.”

Fonterra  is  expected    to  use   the proceeds to pay  down  debt  which under  Hurrell’s  watch  has  already been trimmed  in the past year  to $4.7bn  after  peaking at  $7.1bn.  . . 

Lift in sheepmeat exports to Europe and UK shows importance of retaining WTO tariff quota:

New Zealand sheepmeat exports rose 12 per cent by volume and five per cent by value in August compared to a year ago, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

A fall in sheepmeat exports to China (-13% by value) was offset by a significant increase in demand from the UK and Europe despite the uncertainty of the fast-approaching Brexit.

A total of 2,044 tonnes of sheepmeat was exported to the UK in August 2020, a 43 per cent increase on August 2019. Exports to the Netherlands rose by 80 per cent and to Germany by 30 per cent. France and Belgium also saw increases. . .

New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle lands on shelves:

Anchor has added to its Blue range, with a new 2L bottle made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material

    • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which research indicates is increasingly important to consumers.

Anchor is set to launch New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle which is 100% kerbside recyclable, and aligns with Fonterra’s commitment to have all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Anchor Blue 2L in the new plant-based bottle will land on shelves across New Zealand’s North Island from October 13th. And while it’s still filled with the same fresh NZ dairy milk from Fonterra farmers – the bottle is made from sugarcane. . . 

Stahmann Farms plants close to 40,000 more pecan trees at Pallamallawa property near Moree – Sophie Harris:

Trawalla has well and truly cemented its place as the largest pecan nut farm in the southern hemisphere, with close to 40,000 more pecan trees planted at the Pallamallawa property in north west NSW over the past few weeks.

A total of 39,000 pecan trees have been planted on 195 hectares of Trawalla’s neighbouring property, Long Creek, over the past five weeks. 

This brings the total number of trees in the ground on Stahmann Farms’ Pallamallawa operation, including Trawalla, Red Bank and Loch Lomond, to 150,000. . . 


Rural round-up

17/09/2020

Rethink needed:

Environment minister David Parker has had a long and tempestuous relationship with the farming sector.

His latest fight with farmers has come about due to the new freshwater regulations that recently came into force. Especially aggrieved are southern farmers who have pointed out that many of the new rules concerning winter cropping were “almost unfarmable” in the south.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young even called on farmers in the region to ignore the new requirements on getting resource consents for winter grazing until there was more practicality concerning it. This got Parker’s goat and he came out of hiding to decry Young’s call saying that “no one was above the law”.  . . 

Waikato A&P Show cancelled due to uncertainty around Covid-19 – Maja Burry:

The Waikato A&P Show, due to get underway late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty around Covid-19.

The event was meant kick off in Hamilton on 30 October, marking its 128th year.

Showing Waikato said uncertainty about the Covid-19 alert levels which would apply on the traditional dates meant instead it would be holding a handful of small events open to competitors only.

There would also be an inaugural National Online Show involving other A&P show associations. . . 

Local Government NZ’s manifesto asks the right questions:

Local Government New Zealand is spot on when it says that all political parties’ policies should be assessed on how well they provide for local voices to be heard and taken into account, Federated Farmers says.

“We agree that central government policy and legislation must be able to be tailored for the differing needs, circumstances, capacity and capability of local communities,” Feds national board member Chris Allen says.

Federated Farmers also agrees with the assertion in the LGNZ manifesto released today that successive governments have placed too much weight on the use of top-down, one-size-fits all solutions. . . 

Kiwi dairy innovation leading the way:

Dairy is New Zealand’s top earner following the impact of COVID on tourism and education. Much now rests on the shoulders of busy farmers, some of whom are still struggling to get key staff back through New Zealand’s borders.

Annual breeding is a key pressure-point in the dairy calendar that requires skill and experience. A local Hamilton company is now attracting global attention for an imaginative solution to a perennial farming headache.

Kiwi dairy farmers need to know exactly when to artificially inseminate cows. FlashMate was created to stick to cow hair during the breeding period to interpret cow behaviour. The red light comes on at just the right moment when the cow is on heat and the unit is easily removed after breeding without bothering cows. “Reading body language when you have as many as 1,200 cows isn’t easy” says Matt Yallop, one of the creators of FlashMate. . . 

NZ Plant Producers issues its manifesto for the 2020 election:

Our organisation represents more than 100 plant producers who produce the plants growing food Kiwis eat and export, regenerating New Zealand’s forests, beautifying our urban landscapes, and being planted by millions of Kiwis in their backyards.

New Zealand Plant Producers is a voluntary organisation with more than 100 plant producer members, comprising New Zealand’s most respected nursery leaders and businesses. While our work benefits all New Zealand plant producers, it is funded by our members as proof of their commitment to our industry and the benefits it produces for New Zealand’s economy and well-being.

This election we raise eight issues which much be addressed so our members can continue to thrive and produce the plants New Zealand so badly needs. . . 

Pacific seasonal workers could be a lifeline for horticulture:

John Fiso, Chairman of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF), believes New Zealand can achieve a win-win by providing financial support for Pacific people from neighbouring island nations to head to New Zealand and help our horticultural sector in the upcoming fruit picking season.

“Our brothers and sisters in the Pacific islands are struggling for income due to the collapse of tourism in the region, this is a way to help them – and help our growers who are extremely concerned about labour shortages,” says Mr Fiso.

New Zealand is heading into a busy summer fruit season with a shortage of 60,000 workers. The impact of this on the economy could be $9.5 billion according to New Zealand Apples and Pears.

“Bringing seasonal workers in from the Pacific could be a win-win for the severely short staffed orchardists and fruit growers of New Zealand, and the people struggling in the Pacific,” says Mr Fiso. “The reality is, bringing in the Pacific workers would be hugely beneficial for humanitarian reasons in the Pacific and at the same time prevents millions of dollars of produce in New Zealand going to waste.” . .


Tiny tweaks not enough to fix freshwater foul up

28/08/2020

The government’s freshwater policy is unworkable and the tiny tweaks announced yesterday won’t be enough to fix the foul up:

Federated Farmers aren’t convinced the changes to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, announced Wednesday, will make much difference for Southland and Otago farmers.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt welcomed the amendments and Government’s acknowledgement that the policy was flawed, but said the changes still didn’t address the unique challenges farmers in the south faced, with its wetter than average winters.

This comes less than a week after Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young called on Southland and Otago farmers to boycott the new regulations, due to take effect on September 3.

His main concerns were in regards to the regulations for winter grazing – specifically pugging depths, paddock slope, and deadlines for re-sowing crop paddock, which Young said had not yet been addressed. . . 

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced Wednesday that cabinet had agreed the winter grazing regulations weren’t practical.

Discrete areas around fixed water troughs and gateways have now been exempted. We’ve also amended the definition for pugging to provide more clarity.”

Pugging is now defined as penetration of soil of more than 5cm, but Hunt said this was still impractical.

Speaking from a paddock inhabited by calves, on a warm, sunny, windy day, even the little animals were creating pugs of more than 5cm deep, she said.

The government has made the rules but expects regional councils to police them. How many people in high viz vests with clip boards and measuring tapes is it going to take to measure pugs and how much will that policing cost?

“The reality in Southland is that the ground is wet,” she said.

Hunt expected more changes to be announced in the future.

The latest amendments would not reduce the number of resources consents Southland farmers would need, she said.

Setting a date by which crop must be sown is simply stupid. When farmers sow paddocks is determined by the weather not the calendar.

Requiring consents for ordinary farming activities will add costs and compliance and reduce food production when farming is one of very few sectors that can keep earning export income to help with the Covid-recovery.

Young agreed. “It’s really only tinkering around the edges.”

He would like to see the whole freshwater policy rewritten, he said . . .

It doesn’t help that while farmers are facing unrealistic demands, more than 100 wastewater treatment plants are breaching consent.

This looks like one set of very tough laws and consequences for breaking them for farmers and no consequences at all for councils.

But urban people thinking this is a rural problem should beware. The new national standards for freshwater apply in town and country and cleaning up some urban waterways will be very, very expensive.

National is promising to review, and if necessary, repeal the policy:

Speculation that Environment Minister David Parker will have to yet again make fixes to his freshwater regulations further exposes the flaws in Labour’s package, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson and Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett say.

“The Minister has developed policy based on ideological notions and once again he has had to back down after realising it isn’t practical or based in science,” Mr Simpson says.

“National recognises the need for a sustainable approach and encourages the constant improvement of our waterways. We want to build on the existing structures around freshwater, while many of the Government’s freshwater proposals will have perverse effects on our primary sector and the wider economy.

National will repeal or review the nine regulations announced on 5 August. Instead National will work with farmers and environmental stakeholders to put in place alternatives that are practical, science-based, and achievable.

“We all want improved fresh water outcomes but we have to back farmers to farm their way to better outcomes as they have been doing. Farmers must see a pathway to improve while being profitable, our rural communities and economic wealth as a country depends on it,” Mr Bennett says

“While the country was focused on the worst economic downturn in 160 years, David Parker was busy rushing through new rules that will enforce impractical restrictions on farmers with no consideration for regional variances.

“National understands you can’t apply a blanket approach to this issue and will work with regions to ensure the rules are suited to every area.

“This Government’s changes will put the shackles on our farmers’ ability to innovate and will heap costs on to a sector that is vitally important to our country.

“Agriculture will lead our post-covid recovery. Unlike Labour, National will work with farmers rather than against them.” 

We all want clean water and most farmers have already changed what they do to protect and enhance waterways.

There is still room for improvement but the best way to achieve that is working with farmers and councils to ensure high standards for all waterways.

There is also a lot of misinformation about winter grazing. Here are some facts:


Rural round-up

06/08/2020

No tears over RMA overhaul – Peter Burke:

News that the controversial Resource Management Act (RMA) is to get a complete overhaul has been welcomed by many primary sector organisations.

Last week, Environment Minister David Parker released a report by a panel headed by retired Appeal Court Judge Tony Randerson which proposes that the Act, which has been in operation for thirty years, should be scrapped and replaced by two new laws – a Natural Built Environment Act and a Strategic Planning Act.

Its recommendations include a proposal for each region in the country to put forward a combined development plan, consolidating the myriad of local council plans that currently exist.

At present there are about 100 policy statements and plans put up by local authorities and under the new proposal there would be just 14 combined regional and district plans. . . 

United front over UN’s call to eat less beef – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is right behind the global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef taking a stand on the United Nations call to eat less beef.

The UN has published claims that the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies.

The Global Roundtable is taking a stand on this and is raising its concerns directly with the UN.

The NZ Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) is right behind condemning the UN campaign and its accusations of the impact of the meat industry on the environment.  . . 

Farm changes help environment:

Fifty dairy farms in Canterbury’s Selwyn and Hinds catchments are taking part in a five-year DairyNZ project influencing change on hundreds of farms in the region.

One of the partner farmers, Tony Dodunski, operates close to a lake considered one of New Zealand’s most important wetland habitats and has, just two years into the project, made great gains in reducing nitrogen loss.

Dodunski owns Beaumaris Dairies, a 219ha farm near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, and has cut his nitrogen loss from 32kg per hectare to 17kg per hectare: “Our plan requires us to achieve a 30 per cent reduction by 2022, so we are already well over that,” he says.

His property – low-lying and with more than 10km of drains feeding into an 11km wetland at its lowest point – borders a Department of Conservation (DOC) reserve near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. . . 

Wetland aims for water quality rise:

Fifteen years ago, South Taranaki dairy farmers Donna and Philip Cram began their environmental journey by wanting to stop finding cows stuck when walking through streams on their property.

Now the couple’s passion for sustainable farming practices, improving environmental and water quality, and a predator-free district, has seen them aiming to set up a catchment group in the Oeo Catchment.

Donna has had national and regional roles in DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders – and they’ve galvanised their farming and school communities. . . 

Cheesed off by cheap imports – Sudesh Kissun:

NZ cheesemakers are banking on anti-dumping legislation to bolster their battle against cheaper imported cheeses.

Simon Berry, managing director of Whitestone Cheese and spokesperson for New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association on EU tariffs and trade, says up to 25% of retail cheeses are imported – mostly subsidised European cheeses.

With imported cheeses often selling for around half the price of local ones New Zealand producers are struggling.

Berry says Kiwi cheese producers can’t compete with cheap European product flooding into the market and wants an anti-dumping duty to be placed on some imported speciality cheeses. . .

How one woman fell in love with dairy farming:

When Daisy Higgs first moved to New Zealand from England more than 15 years ago she never thought she’d end up falling in love with farming.

But now the 25-year-old says she can’t imagine another way of life, and she’s encouraging other Kiwis to give it a go too.

After developing a love of animals while growing up with her family on a lifestyle block in Taranaki, Higgs decided to major in animal science at Massey University.

However, when she realised there were more jobs in the agriculture sector she shifted her focus, finishing her studies with a major in agriculture and a minor in animal science. . . 

Red meat is not the enemy – Aaron E. Carroll:

There are people in this country eating too much red meat. They should cut back. There are people eating too many carbs. They should cut back on those. There are also people eating too much fat, and the same advice applies to them, too.

What’s getting harder to justify, though, is a focus on any one nutrient as a culprit for everyone.

I’ve written Upshot articles on how the strong warnings against salt and cholesterol are not well supported by evidence. But it’s possible that no food has been attacked as widely or as loudly in the past few decades as red meat.

As with other bad guys in the food wars, the warnings against red meat are louder and more forceful than they need to be. . . 


Rural round-up

10/07/2020

No place for gender bias in farming – Milne – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says having women in the farmer lobby leadership team is a reminder that NZ ag is about couples working together.

Milne, the first woman president of Feds, stepped down last month after serving her three-year term.

In her final speech at the Feds’ annual meeting, Milne said men and women bring their own perspectives and strengths to farming, neither being more important than the other.

“It’s useful to remind the rest of the country by having men and women – all working farmers – speaking for the organisation that those old newsreels of men out on the land on machinery and women confined to baking scones for the shearers is pre-war history, and even then it was a stereotype rather than the truth,” she said. . .

Election forestry Policy unnecessary:

Right now, we are in a Covid-19 recovery phase and an election year. Farmers feel good about keeping the economy going, but are challenged by climate change, freshwater regulations and afforestation. Some press releases strongly defend pastoral farming against encroaching forests, as if we are fighting over land use. We’re not. What both the farming and forestry sectors are doing is searching for the best way forward, post-covid, in terms of investing and adapting. What neither sector needs are knee-jerk regulations that distract from finding real solutions of mutual benefit. A diverse range of viewpoints is good for innovation, so let’s encourage it. The NZ Farm Forestry Association suggests we should avoid the myths, maintain perspective and share some new ideas.

The long-term perspective is that land use change has and should occur in response to developing markets and scientific guidance. . . 

Dairy prices lift the gloom for farmers but their future meanwhile is being plotted by Beehive planners with a vision:

Fonterra’s  boss  might have been  ultra-cautious   but  out on  the country’s dairy farms there  was a  subdued  cheer  at the  news  that the wholemilk powder price had leapt  14%  at  the  latest  GDT  auction..

The  GDT  index  rose  8.3%,  the biggest  rise   since  November  2016,  and the fourth   successive gain.   Fonterra’s  CEO   Miles  Hurrell  says  it’s  “really  surprising—no-one  saw a number of  this  magnitude”.

It dispels  some of the   gloom generated  by the  Covid-19 pandemic.  And it generates  the  hope  that  Fonterra pitched  its  forecast  for  the season too  low,  in  the  broad range  from $5.40kg/MS  to $US6.90.

Hurrell  suggested   suppliers    should not  get “too excited” by the WMP  result. Fonterra had put out excess product for immediate shipment, which resulted in “a bit of a flurry in that first event” .. . .

Farmers, foresters and fishing folk rejoice – the govt is fixing your wellbeing to a 10-year plan (and film-makers have not been forsaken) – Point of Order:

Latest from the Beehive

The government’s economic engineers were hard at work yesterday.  One minister was set on establishing a base for film production in Christchurch while – much more critically for the wellbeing of the nation – a cluster of others led by the PM were unveiling their grand design for reshaping the primary sector.  If they get it wrong (and we should never be sure politicians will get this sort of thing right), our economy will be dealt a greater mischief than ever was done by a pandemic.

Environment Minister David Parker was busy in the planning business, too, announcing appointments to the newly established Freshwater Planning Process and the Expert Consenting Panels for fast-track consenting.

Wearning his Attorney-General hat he also announced a new Judge of the High Court.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, meanwhile, was announcing immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised. . . 

Accelerating our economic potential: – Primary Land Users’ Group:

The Government plans to increase primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade with a goal of getting 10,000 more New Zealanders working in the sector over the next four years.

Prime Minister Ardern said the sector, which has proven essential for New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic, will be vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery.

HOW?

The plan sets a target of lifting primary sector export earnings to $10b a year by 2030 which would bring in a cumulative $44b more in earnings in a decade. If successful, the plan would almost double the current value of the primary sector. . .

Sustainability stars pick up awards :

Ten kiwi dairy farmers who have shown exceptional care for the environment have been recognised with a DairyNZ sustainability and stewardship award.

The award was part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. 

“The dairy sector has made a commitment under the Dairy Tomorrow strategy to protect and nurture the environment for future generations,” says Dr David Burger, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader – responsible dairy.  . . 

How will we recover from social isolation? – Stephen Burns:

Our species has been put on notice: the natural world will no longer tolerate the abuse it has taken for centuries and only exaggerated by recent avarice.

A minute organism, unable to be seen except through a microscope has brought the world as we have enjoyed to a grinding halt.

Invisible to a naked eye yet more powerful than any despotic politician, more devastating than the Global Financial Crisis and more destructive than a nuclear war head, COVID-19 has the power to threaten our continued existence. . .


Rural round-up

06/07/2020

The perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19 – Eric Frykberg:

More evidence has emerged of the perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19.

The main problem is that many essential workers from overseas cannot come in because of travel restrictions, either as backpacking working holiday makers, or Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme workers from the Pacific Islands.

This point was made repeatedly by agricultural sectors at a Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee yesterday.

Representatives of the strawberry industry told the committee that had done all they could to attract New Zealand workers – even growing strawberries on tables so that pickers don’t have to toil all day bent double. . . 

Rural water hijacked – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are worried Environment Minister David Parker’s decision to fast track Watercare’s consent to take Waikato River water for Aucklanders will come at the expense of their allocations.

There is concern farmers who were ahead of the Auckland Council’s water company in the queue for consent applications could now miss out because of the decision, Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said.

“It’s not really right. A region should look after its own.” . . 

Farmers donate meat to charity :

A North Otago farmer who is among the first in the country to contribute to a new meat donation service is hoping others will follow.

Meat the Need is a national charity designed to supply meat to City Missions and food banks.

The meat is donated by farmers, processed, packed and delivered to those most in need.

Altavady Farm’s Kate Faulks was one of the first Silver Fern Farms farmers to support the cause, donating a cow and a beef steer.

She is part of a North Otago family business made up of four farms: two dairy farms (Providence farm, Fortitude farm), one dairy support farm (Living Springs Farm) and one dairy support/beef farm (Altavady Farm). . . 

Report shows swell in demand for irrigation – Daniel Birchfield:

A dry autumn helped the North Otago Irrigation Company pump out its third highest recorded volume of water to properties on its scheme since it was opened close to 14 years ago.

About 38million cum of water was delivered to 163 farmer shareholders, irrigating 26,000 hectares of land in the 11 months to May 31, the company’s report to the Waitaki District Council, presented on Tuesday, showed.

There was strong demand for irrigation over the peak summer period, after a typically slow start in October and November, which the report said was more than offset by demand in December and January.

The dry autumn which followed boosted demand further.  . . 

Hemp success at Darfield farm:

As one of the world’s most controversial (and misunderstood) plants, hemp is good for a whole lot of things: shoes, clothing, paper, you name it. And now it’s proven to be a perfect crop for the Co-op.

It was grown at Fonterra’s Darfield farm as a first-of-its-kind trial to see how hemp grows under dairy wastewater irrigation. They’ve found it’s a profitable, resilient and nutrient-gobbling alternative to the usual pasture grown at the 850ha Darfield farm, located just out of Christchurch.

While Hemp looks like cannabis, it does not contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

Fonterra’s Regional Farm Operations Manager, Steve Veix says the dry, hot Canterbury summers make it challenging to find the ideal crop to grow on-farm, which traditionally grows pasture. . . 

2020 Tonnellerie De Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year competition to go ahead:

Entries are now open for the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Competition. Plans are well underway for the regional competitions to take place throughout September and the national final in November.

The competition is open to all those under the age of thirty involved in wine production. This includes cellarhands, cellar managers, laboratory technicians, assistant winemakers and winemakers.

The competition helps stretch the ambitious contestants as well as help them widen their network and start making a name for themselves. . .


Rural round-up

12/06/2020

Experts call for review of regenerative farming ‘mythology’ –  Sally Rae;

Two prominent plant science academics have called for the establishment of an expert panel of scientists to review claims made about regenerative agriculture.

In a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Dr Derrick Moot, a professor of plant science at Lincoln University, and retired senior lecturer Dr Warwick Scott said they were concerned about the “mythology” of regenerative agriculture “and its worrying increased profile in the New Zealand media and farming sectors”.

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers had world-leading agricultural practices and the underpinning scientific principles of the country’s current agricultural systems were in danger of being devalued by a system they believed had several serious shortcomings, they said.

They were particularly concerned the “erroneous publicity” about regenerative agriculture would divert the limited New Zealand agricultural science resources from more important, substantive issues.

To define regenerative agriculture was difficult, the pair said. . . 

Dairy industry needs skilled, willing workers, wherever they’re from – Esther Taunton:

“New Zealand’s dairy industry has a shortage of skilled and willing workers.”

It’s a simple sentence so why does such a large chunk of the non-dairy farming population seem to have a problem understanding the key words – “skilled” and “willing”?

When Stuff ran the story of two South Island farmers desperately trying to get their skilled migrant workers back across our closed borders before the start of calving, it took just minutes for the keyboard warriors to roll out the same tired accusations and arguments.

“Serves them right for choosing migrants over Kiwis!” they cried.

But they didn’t. Not without trying to find Kiwi workers first, anyway. Because even if they didn’t want to employ New Zealanders, farmers have a legal obligation to advertise for local staff before they’re able to start recruiting offshore. . . 

Strong 2019/20 financial result for Zespri helps support regional New Zealand:

2019/20 Financial Results Summary:
• Total Operating revenue: NZ$3.36 billion
• Total fruit sales revenue: NZ$3.14 billion
• Total New Zealand-grown fruit and service payments: $1.96 billion
• New Zealand and Non-New Zealand trays sold: 164.4 million trays
• Zespri’s net profit after tax NZ$200.8 million
• Expected Total Dividends: NZ$0.94

Almost NZ$2 billion was returned to New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry following Zespri’s 2019/20 season, helping support thousands of businesses, workers and regional communities around the country.

Zespri’s 2019/20 Financial Results show total fruit and service payments, which are returns direct to the New Zealand industry, increased by 8 percent year on year to NZ$1.96 billion. . . 

Meating’ the need:

While COVID-19 lockdown rules have now been eased, many New Zealand foodbanks remain under huge pressure as breadwinners lose their jobs and savings run dry.

To help keep up with this demand and to provide something a bit different from the regular food box items, a charity set up by farmers is connecting donated produce from farmers with processors and foodbanks.

‘Meat The Need’ was founded by South Island farmers Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley. Since it started in mid-April, meat from more than 200 animals, including cattle, sheep and deer, has been donated to food banks around the South Island, enough for a staggering 90,000 meals for vulnerable families! . . 

Expos aimed at creating win-win – Tracey Roxburgh:

A Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) initiative is hoping to create a win-win from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

The SIT is holding two Agricultural Redeployment Expos, one each in Queenstown and Te Anau, this week, hoping to attract people who may have lost jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector to retrain in the agricultural sector, which is facing a shortage of about 150 skilled machinery operators this year.

Annually, the agriculture sector has sought fill those roles with workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, in particular, but given border closures this year due to the global pandemic, that will not be possible. . . 

Native plants sequester carbon for longer – Marc Daalder:

A new study indicates native plants, despite their tendency to grow more slowly than exotic species like Pinus Radiata, are better at storing carbon in the soil for longer periods of time, Marc Daalder reports

Exotic plant species release 150 percent more carbon dioxide from the soil than native New Zealand plants, according to a new study from the Bio-Protection Research Centre published in Science.

The research is the latest development in an extended scientific debate over whether to prioritise planting native or exotic species to increase biodiversity and fight climate change.

While it doesn’t upset the longstanding scientific consensus that faster-growing plants sequester more carbon – and that exotic species planted outside their usual range will grow faster – the study does complicate the picture of the carbon cycle. . . 

Time for EU to commit to level playing field for trade:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU.

Details leaked ahead of the 8th round of EU-NZ FTA negotiations have revealed the EU is seeking to maintain an extreme level of market access restriction against New Zealand dairy exports. The leaked EU market access offer comes despite both parties having committed to ‘work towards a deep, comprehensive, and high-quality Free Trade Agreement’.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, says the reported EU offer, comprised of miniscule quota volumes and high in-quota tariffs, could never credibly form part of a free trade agreement between the economies. . . 


Rural round-up

07/06/2020

What farmers wish other New Zealand knew – Esther Taunton:

Remember when Country Calendar was must-see TV? When The Dog Show was on every week and the Young Farmer of the Year competition was screened live?

The times aren’t just a’changin’, they have already a’changed, taking New Zealand’s general knowledge of farming with them.

We’ve fallen out of touch with the people who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs and it’s no surprise the rural-urban divide often feels more like a canyon than a crack to farmers.

Many Kiwis don’t know the simplest things about farming but, thanks to the farmers who’ve taken me from total-townie to slightly-less-townie in my time as a rural reporter, we can change that right now. . . 

Govt’s snubbing of Feds short-sighted — Editorial:

Petty and small-minded is the only way to describe the continued snubbing of Federated Farmers in regard to the Government’s freshwater reforms.

Outgoing Federated Farmers president Katie Milne has hit out at Wellington-based government officials for their lack of understanding about farming.

Late last week, Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor – along with ministry officials – unveiled the long-awaited reforms before invited guests at Parliament.

However, the farmer lobby was a notable omission.

How does the Government expect to get farmers onside for its highly contentious water plans, when it refuses to deal or even engage with the farmer representative organisation?

China reopens for New Zealand venison imports:

A catalogue of approved animal species for human consumption has been issued by the Peoples Republic of China. It includes venison from farmed malu – the Chinese name for red deer – along with more traditional farm animals and poultry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says the inclusion of our deer is great news for venison producers and marketers, as it will make it clear to officials across China that the sale and consumption of our venison is legal and safe for Chinese consumers.

“Chinese consumers have a growing appreciation for quality animal proteins, making China an increasingly important market for our venison. It was taking about 10 per cent of our exports until the end of 2019,” he says. . . 

Kinship & solidarity: Harvest a family affair at Domaine Thomson – Sophie Preece:

Kate Barnett clearly recalls her father pulling up in Wanaka on New Years’ Day, to load his four begrudging daughters into the Chrysler Valiant station wagon.

The first days of January were always dedicated to picking blackcurrants on their farm, north of Dunedin, and Kate was there for every harvest, from age five through to 20.

The planting of Felton Road vineyard was also a family affair, after her dad – Stewart Elms – found the Bannockburn site, kick-starting a wine life that eventually led Kate to Domaine Thomson in Central Otago, where she’s Operations, Marketing and Cellar Door Manager.

This year she was also chief recruiter of locals for harvest, including her 11, 12 and 14-year-old children, in a step back in time she’s cherished. . .

 

Strengthened NAIT approach sees significant improvement in compliance:

Farmers are lifting their use of animal tracing after changes to strengthen the NAIT* scheme and boost compliance, new data shows.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director of compliance, Gary Orr, says this is particularly encouraging at this time of year when dairy farmers are moving cows between farms around the annual Moving Day.

“From January to March this year, 77% of animals were registered correctly – a 24% increase over the same period in 2019. And 75% of animal movements were recorded on time (within 48 hours of the movement) – a jump of 11% over the same time in 2019. And 98.7% of animals slaughtered were tagged – an increase of 0.3% from the previous year.

In late 2019 the fine for NAIT offences increased to $400 per animal and Mr Orr says that is quite an incentive to do it right. . . 

Approval for new crop protecting insecticide:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved a new insecticide, Vayego, for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

This insecticide is used to keep codling moths, leaf rollers and other pests away from apples, pears, grapes, and stone fruit crops.

Vayego contains tetraniliprole, an active ingredient that is new to New Zealand and has only recently been approved for use in Australia, South Korea, and Canada. Tests here have found that although tetraniliprole is not rapidly degradable, it also does not build up over time. Allowing this insecticide to be used in New Zealand provides more choice for farmers, which is considered to be a significant benefit. . . 

Cattle producers want best science for measuring methane :

PEAK beef producer group Cattle Council of Australia wants a full scientific assessment of modeling used to calculate the impact of beef on climate change and the alternative global warming potential model.

CCA President Tony Hegarty said with the broader red meat industry committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, it is important to use the best available science to measure the impact of cattle-produced methane.

“We have a responsibility to make sure we use the best available science in our response to climate change,” Mr Hegarty said. . .


Rural round-up

13/05/2020

Hard line on consent deadline adds to farmers’ stress:

Hawke’s Bay farmers grappling with fallout from one of the worst droughts in living memory are extremely disappointed no leeway is being given over an imminent resource consent deadline.

Federated Farmers has been trying to help Tukituki farmers dealing with the drought, a severe feed shortage and the Covid-19 lockdown. The end of May deadline for consents to continue to farm under the Tukituki catchment plan is adding considerably to the stress, Feds Hawke’s Bay Vice-President Matt Wade says.

To try and relieve some of the pressure, Federated Farmers and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council together wrote to Environment Minister David Parker asking for an extension of the consent deadline. . . 

Don’t block trade – Peter Burke:

Dairy processors are warning that any suggestion that New Zealand should adopt a protectionist trade stance is “stupid”.

Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey told Dairy News he’s concerned about remarks by certain politicians; they have been quoted as thinking along these lines, he adds.

Bailey says at some stage COVID-19 will transition from being a health problem to an economic problem. Any rise in protectionism will be bad for us.

He says as an economy NZ has done very well “because we have a trading mentality and we have to encourage that and tell other nations that we are able to sell products to them and they can do the same to us”. . .

Z hibernates beleaguered biofuels plant – Nikki Mandow:

An international bidding war for tallow – a fatty waste product from meatworks – has closed Z Energy’s biodiesel plant just 18 months after the company finally got it up and running.

You couldn’t make it up. 

Production at the plant has stopped after rising global tallow prices combined with falling international diesel prices to make production uneconomic.

Staff were told last week the plant wouldn’t reopen after the Covid-19 shutdown. Now the equipment is being prepared for hibernation for at least a year, after which Z will make a decision whether conditions have improved enough to open up again.  . .

Seed plant reopening is ‘icing on the cake’ for Wairarapa Feds:

Confirmation that the old Masterton Vegetable Seeds processing plant will reopen for local seed growers is the ‘icing on the cake’ for peas growers in the Wairarapa this year, Karen Williams says.

PGG Wrightson Seeds has today announced a long-term lease of the former Akura Road site and machinery, which is “absolutely brilliant news” for local growers and the wider Wairarapa community, the Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson and MPI Pea Weevil Governance Group Appointee says.

“To restore an operational seed cleaning and processing facility in the Wairarapa means we’ve cleared the last major hurdle to returning the local pea growing industry to where it was before the pea weevil incursion four years ago.” . . 

 

Earth Sea Sky produces protective face masks  using homegrown merino fibre :

Earth Sea Sky is no stranger to making gear that your life might depend on. For decades, the Christchurch-based company has produced outdoor clothing for the world’s toughest environments and has been a go to brand for Antarctica New Zealand and LandSAR. Now it has entered a new market of protective face masks using home-grown merino filters.

Earth Sea Sky multi-tasker Jane Ellis started researching protective face masks just a few days into New Zealand’s Level 4 coronavirus lockdown, when the country’s shortage of PPE gear hit the headlines. 

The company’s long-time outworker, a skilled machinist called Brenda, was keen to help too. From the safety of their own “bubbles”, the pair debated the merits of various designs and fabrics for everything from scrubs to masks and came up with ad-hoc samples.  . .

Changing of the guard at Pāmu’s Environment  Reference Group:

Pāmu’s Environment Reference Group (ERG) is seeing a changing of the guard, with three members stepping down, and four new members joining the group.

Steve Carden thanked Guy Salmon and Dr Mike Joy, who were both inaugural members of the ERG, along with Dr Dan Hikuroa, all of whom are leaving the ERG.

“Mike, Guy and Dan have all brought their passion for the environment and a desire to help find viable solutions to the challenging environmental issues Pāmu is facing across its farms.


Straining social licence

05/05/2020

Yesterday we got the welcome news that no new cases of Covid-19 had been detected.

That follows several days of new cases in single digits.

To most of us that looks like it would be safe to drop to Level 2 or may even Level 1:

At Level 2:

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

Risk assessment

    • Household transmission could be occurring.
    • Single or isolated cluster outbreaks. . . 

At Level 1:

The disease is contained in New Zealand.

Risk assessment

    • COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas.
    • Isolated household transmission could be occurring in New Zealand. . .

So why aren’t we moving down at least one level, or at least knowing when we will?

The government has explained that elimination doesn’t mean no cases. That means that at whatever level we’re at there will almost certainly be some new ones.

But the health risk now appears to be less serious than the risk to the economy:

National Party leader Simon Bridges admits moving to pandemic alert level 2 could result in more COVID-19 cases, but says this could happen under any level and the lockdown has to end for the sake of the economy. . .

While the unprecedented restrictions have been successful in dramatically reducing the number of new infections of the virus – which has killed hundreds of thousands of people overseas – they’ve also taken a toll on the economy.

Bridges says there are 1000 jobs being lost every day under level 3, based on new applications for the Jobseeker benefit. This is similar to the rate of new applications under level 4, when far fewer businesses were able to operate – there were 30,000 applications in the month to April 17, despite the Government’s wage subsidy being paid out to organisations employing 1.6 million people.

“This has gone on too long,” he told Newshub. “We need to get New Zealand working again. Quite simply we’ve got to end lockdown because it’s so much easier to keep someone in a job.”

He said officials “from Ashley Bloomfield down” have said COVID-19 is “eliminated”.

“Having flattened the curve, let’s not flatten the economy as well. We have to come out at some point. We can’t just wait until there’s a vaccine.”   . . 

A thousand jobs lost a day is 1,000 people a day at risk financially and at risk of poorer physical and mental health as a consequence of that.

It’s not just jobs but whole businesses that have been lost and the longer we’re stuck at Level 3 the greater the risk and the greater the economic and social costs which also have health costs.

Compounding the frustration is the continuing dearth of information on what will happen and when it will happen.

We were initially told we’d be at Level 4 for four weeks. That turned into nearly five.

We were then told we’d be at Level 3 for at least two weeks. Given we’re not going to know until next Monday if there’s going to be a drop in levels, it’s likely that we’ll be stuck at Level 3 for at least a few more days longer.

Uncertainty about the legality of police action isn’t helping:

New Zealand Police’s decision to arrest Kiwis during alert level 4 despite being advised they had little legal basis to do so “undermines the rule of law” in New Zealand, the former Attorney-General believes.

The comment from Chris Finlayson comes just hours after leaked emails to NZ Herald revealed that police were told by Crown Law that they had little to no power to enforce lockdown rules.

Finlayson, a former National MP who served as Attorney-General for nine years between 2008 and 2017, says it’s clear the police have acted beyond their powers during the coronavirus crisis.  . . 

The refusal to release Crown Law advice makes it even worse.

Incumbent Attorney-General David Parker has thus far refused to make public the advice, despite mounting pressure from the Epidemic Response Committee and MPs to do so.

Finlayson believes Parker’s refusal means there are parts of the advice “he may not like” – but says that shouldn’t change whether it’s released or not.

“There’s an overwhelming public interest, for people whose freedoms have been curtailed over the last few months, to know exactly the legal basis upon which certain decisions were made,” he said. . . 

Last week the government accidently passed legislation that differed from the Bill MPs had seen. That undermines confidence, but Jenée Tibshraeny writes:

. . .The public is putting an immense amount of trust in the Government as it circumvents the usual checks and balances to get us through this crisis. But trust is earned. It’s also key to maintaining social cohesion.

Oddly, I can dismiss Thursday’s passing of the wrong legislation as an extraordinary genuine mistake.

But the lack of transparency around decision-making and incoherent way of announcing a billion-dollar policy change, are inexcusable.

The government has imposed unprecedented restrictions on us at an enormous economic and social cost.

The willingness of most of us to abide by the lockdown requires a social licence which must be based on trust.

The government’s refusal to give us all the information we need, and to which we are entitled, is undermining trust and straining that social licence, and that is putting strict compliance at risk.


Rural round-up

21/04/2020

Our greatest opportunity – Penny Clark-Hall:

After 10 or so years of a society dislocating itself, with the farming community being challenged to meet the evolving values of its urban counterparts, we have been given a gift. A chance to reconnect.

We’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one wants to listen to the good stories for years. Who would have thought it would take a global pandemic to give us a window to be able to have that voice again? It seems bad taste to be observing silver linings and opportunities whilst so many are suffering however, an opportunity to connect and support our country can only be a positive for everyone in my books. The primary sector’s social licence and our economy depends on it.  . .

Sector wants deal on reforms – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Primary sector leaders have been in discussions with the Government to try to reach a consensus on freshwater reforms.

The 11-member Food and Fibre Leaders’ Forum, which represents the primary sector, is adopting a similar approach to last year’s accord on reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and for several months has had regular meetings with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and senior Cabinet ministers.

The Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms have been temporarily stalled by covid-19 with Environment Minister David Parker saying dealing with the crisis necessitates the reconsideration of priorities and timing. . .

Wanna job? We’ve got it – Annette Scott:

Primary industries face a serious staff recruitment pinch of grave concern to AgStaff director Matt Jones.

The impact of covid-19 is alredy starting to bite and with hundreds of vacancies on his books it’s only going to get worse over the next year, Jones said.

Through his employment businesses Jones recruits staff for jobs from farm and agricultural contracting and food processing to seasonal staff and quality assurance experts, many coming from around the globe to work in New Zealand.  . . 

Are pine trees killing kauri?

A new study suggests that kauri dieback disease may be connected to the lack of protective fungi in plantation pine forest soil.

Published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology, the study, by Bio-Protection Research Centre PhD candidate Alexa Byers and others, looked at the differences in the bacteria and fungi living in the soil of kauri forest and surrounding pine plantations in the Waipoua area. It found soil in the pine forest’s neighbouring kauri forests lacked several species of fungi and bacteria that protect plants, promote growth, and improve their health (for example Trichoderma and Pseudomonas).

“The loss of core microbiota from native soil microbial communities… surrounding remnant kauri fragments could be altering the forest’s ability to respond to pathogen invasion,” Ms Byers wrote. . . 

Energy farm to trial zero carbon solutions – Nigel Malthus:

Lincoln University has unveiled plans for what is expected to be a globally-unique Energy Demonstration Farm to help the primary sector meet its future zero-carbon obligations.

The farm is designed to be fossil fuel-free and feature solar and wind power, bio-fuel, and energy storage solutions while showcasing the range of technology available and how it can be applied, as well as providing data for research and innovation.

Project leaders Dr Wim de Koning and Dr Jeff Heyl say the farm would allow the University and their research partners to make mistakes, so farmers won’t have to.

Fury of British farmers as public sector caterers vow to cut meat served ins cools, hospitals, universities and care homes by 20 percent to improve diets and help environment – Jack Wright:

  • British farmers are furious at public sector caterers vowing to cut red meat servings in schools, hospitals, and care homes by 20 per cent
  • NFU board member Richard Findlay described move as ‘frankly ridiculous’
  • He called #20percentless a ‘misguided project’ that is ‘wholly inaccurate’
  • The aim is to cut greenhouse gases linked to livestock and boost public health
  • Hitting the target would remove nearly 20million lb of meat every year in the UK . . .

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