Rural round-up

10/09/2019

2050 deadline to improve freshwater in New Zealand – Rachael Kelly and Gerard Hutching:

A lobby group says some Southland farmers may abandon their land because of new water rules but the agriculture ministers says it’s a ridiculous statement to make.

Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker released a draft National Policy Statement and National Environment Standards: Freshwater, on Thursday.

They propose changes to farming practices and new rules for councils, aiming to stop the degradation of waterways and clean up rivers and lakes within a generation.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young says some of the rules nitrogen may be able to be met but the numbers around freshwater may just be a step too far and there is going to be a significant financial cost. . . 

Water policy is doomed to fail – Aan Emmerson:

I can’t see anyone in the provincial sector being remotely surprised at the draconian nature of Environment Minister David Parker’s policy announcement on water quality.

For a start, Parker told us in June there would be tighter regulation of the agricultural sector.

He also made the earth-shattering statement he would regulate what, in his view, were some of the riskier farming practices.

Last Thursday’s statement came in three parts, a diagram, a bland summary then the actual document, all 105 pages of it.

Climate change Bill concerns for SFF – Brent Melville:

Silver Fern Farms, the nation’s largest procurer and exporter of red meat, has tabled “significant concerns” related to the economic impacts of the Government’s proposed climate change response Bill.

In its submission to the environment select committee this morning, the company said while it supported the Bill’s ultimate temperature increase goals, it had concerns specific to methane reduction targets, the inability of farmers to offset the warming effects of biogenic methane and processor obligations for farm emissions.

Silver Fern Farms head of communications and sustainability Justin Courtney said the submission had largely been informed by discussion with more than 750 of the company’s 15,500 farmer suppliers across New Zealand. The zero carbon proposals as tabled were “top of the list of farmers’ concerns”, he said. . . 

The unpopular tree sucking carbon from our air – Eloise Gibson:

Pinus Radiata grows like a weed, which is why it’s so fast at sequestering carbon. But since many people prefer native trees, forestry scientists are proposing an unconventional solution to get the best of both worlds.

To measure how much carbon is in a tree, you first have to kill it.

You slice up the trunk, branches, twigs, leaves and roots and dry the dismembered tree parts in an oven. Then you weigh them.

“It takes a long time,” says Euan Mason, a professor at the University of Canterbury’s School of Forestry. “I did some in 2012 with two students, and in six weeks I think we did 25 trees.” . . 

New campaign promotes wool’s benefits – Brent Melville:

Recent experiments in Japan measured the efficiencies of using wool carpet versus a synthetic option in two identical houses.

The wool option resulted in electricity savings of between 8% to 13%, with additional savings of up to 12% for cooling under the same conditions.

It is one of the fast facts contained in an informative and highly stylised campaign, designed to educate international frontline carpet and other retailers on the benefits of strong wool.

The “back to basics” approach is the brain child of wool sales and marketing company Wools of New Zealand (WNZ), in the belief that frontline retailers are neglecting the natural benefits of the fibre in the rush to sell synthetic product.

The heart of the programme is a 12-part “wool benefits” marketing campaign, which the company says has resonated strongly with local and international customers alike. . . 

NSA celebrates ban on false advertising about wool:

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is pleased to see the response by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) banning some misleading advertising from PETA propagating the lie that wool is cruelly obtained from sheep.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: ‘NSA is pleased to hear this decision by ASA that exposes PETA’s advertising for what it is, grossly inaccurate jargon which is misleading the public as well as damaging farmers reputations and livelihoods. The simple undeniable fact is that removing wool from sheep is necessary for their health and welfare. It does not harm them, and it does not exploit them. Wool is a by-product of their existence.”

Following reports of cruelty during shearing last year (2018), NSA joined with several other industry bodies to create a clear set of guidelines for farmers and shearing contractors to follow to ensure they shear to the highest standard possible. . . 


Rural round-up

08/09/2019

Who needs the Greens when Labour hates farmers this much? – Mike Hosking:

Here’s the irony of David Parker. Parker was once the Minister of Economic Development and is currently the Minister of Trade and Export Growth – and yet he has done more than anyone these past two weeks to achieve exactly the opposite.

It was Parker who stopped the hydro dam on the West Coast despite every council, three of them, iwi, the Department of Conservation and 90 per cent of Coasters all being for it.

And now he’s put out water regulations that may as well come with the headline ‘we hate farmers’.

Tim Mackle’s piece in the Herald on this subject is excellent. It basically starts with him wistfully remembering a time when farmers were liked. Well I have a message to rural New Zealand: you still are, at least by people like me, realists who understand the energy, effort, and risk required to do what you do. . . 

The waters are rising on farming – Kerry Worsnop:

The release of the Essential Freshwater Report, ‘Action for Healthy Waterways’ will undoubtable add further turbulence to an already stormy torrent of proposed Central Government policy effecting Regional Councils and land based industries.

The report’s stated intention is to ‘stop the further degradation of New Zealand’s Freshwater resources and start making immediate improvements so that water quality is materially improving within 5 years’.  The reference to immediacy is no idle threat, with Regional Councils being expected to comply with many of the proposals by June 2020.

No one can argue with the intent of the report, and few would negate the importance of prioritising our greatest natural resource, however the scope and likely implications of the report will be a topic of much discussion in the coming weeks and months. . .

Forgotten aspects of water – Mike Chapman . .

The Government released its consultation on freshwater this week (click here).  We are now busy analysing it in detail and it is really too early to reach a view about the ultimate impact, especially before the consultation. 

Two of the background documents also released make interesting reading and provide insight into the thinking behind these proposals.  Te Kāhui Wai’s recommendations are strident.  They go to the core of the water issues facing New Zealand including: iwi/hapu water rights, a moratorium on additional discharges for the next 10 years, establishing a Te Mana o te Wai Commission, and developing a new water allocation system that conforms with iwi/hapu rights and obligations. 

The Freshwater Leaders Group’s recommendations include: bringing our water resources to a healthy state within a generation, taking immediate steps to stop our water becoming worse, and achieving an efficient and fair allocation system.  They also recommend an immediate stop to poor agricultural and forestry practices, and a complete halt to the loss of wetlands.  In summary, the reports are very similar in the outcomes they are seeking – immediate action to stop further degradation.

In all I’ve read, missing is how much water New Zealand gets each year and how much use we make of that water.  NIWA figures show that 80% of our water flows out to sea, 18% evaporates and only 2% is used.  My point is that there is more than enough water for everyone.  The problem is we are not being smart in our use of water and we are not planning for the impact of climate change – long dry summers.  . . .

Time for change – Neal Wallace:

A one-size-fits-all approach to freshwater management will penalise farmers shrinking their environment footprint, Beef + Lamb chairman Andrew Morrison says.

Farmers, like everyone, want clean, fresh water but the blanket regulatory approach in the Government’s Action for Health Waterways discussion document lumps those who have cut their footprint with those who haven’t.

Federated Farmers’ reaction was scathing.

Water spokesman Chris Allan said proposed nitrogen reduction targets of 80% mean farming will cease in large parts of rural New Zealand. . .

Fonterra’s clean-out is overdue – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholder with the largest number of shares believes the co-operative’s house cleaning and write-downs are absolutely necessary and overdue.

Former director Colin Armer, who with his wife Dale has 10 million supply shares, says over-valued assets mean farmers sharing-up in the past four years paid too much.

He has made a formal complaint to the Financial Markets Authority over inconsistent valuations and executive performance payments. . .

Irrigating farmers record better enviro audit grades – Nigel Malthus:

Irrigating farmers in the Amuri district in North Canterbury are continuing to record improved environmental performance.

The latest round of Farm Environment Plan audits by the Amuri Irrigation Environmental Collective have given 97% of the farmers collective A or B grades, the remaining 3% a C grade and none a D.

That contrasts with 20% rated as C and 6% as D in the first round of collective audits four years ago. . .


Rural round-up

06/09/2019

Farmers face $1b bill to meet new freshwater requirements :

Government proposals to radically improve the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater resources look likely to cost farmers at least $1 billion over 10 years.

Environment and Agriculture ministers David Parker and Damien O’Connor released a swag of documents from the government’s Essential Freshwater policy review at Parliament this morning.

The discussion document on a new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management details proposals that would:  . . 

New rules to manage water – Neal Wallace:

The Government wants to take a tougher stance on and have a greater say in freshwater management, a discussion document released today reveals.

Action for Healthy Waterways will require every farmer to have a farm plan to manage risks to fresh water by 2025, extends rules on the exclusion of stock from waterways and sets new standards for intensive winter grazing.

Regional councils will have until 2025 to implement a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater and till then the Government proposes tighter controls on land-use intensification and the introduction of interim measures to reduce nitrogen loss within five years in identified catchments with high nitrate or nitrogen levels. . .

Rural innovations secure support – Luke Chivers:

A 14-year-old entrepreneur with an ingenious scheme to provide broadband access to isolated, rural communities is one of four ventures to receive support from the Rural Innovation Lab.

The backing was announced at the Beehive by Lab chairman Mat Hocken.

The initiatives came after a wide call for people to submit ideas to help solve rural issues. . .

Commodity export prices provide some cheer, even for those downcast Fonterra farmer-suppliers – Point of Order:

NZ lamb export prices have hit their highest level since 1982. That mightn’t be good news if you are contemplating a roast leg of lamb for the barbecue this weekend.

But for NZ meat producers that, and the high prices being earned in markets like Japan for beef, suggest it’ll be a good season for NZ’s meat producers.

This is despite the global uncertainty stemming from trade wars particularly between China and the US, two of NZ’s main markets. The outbreak of swine fever in China is likely to sustain demand for other meat such as beef. . . 

Breeding for parasite resistance important:

WormFEC Gold a collective of farmers breeding for parasite resistant genetics are leading the pack as drench resistance becomes more prevalent and drench failure is reported across the country.

Ten breeders across New Zealand have joined forces creating WormFEC Gold bringing together more than 200 years combined experience breeding highly productive, parasite resistant rams. The aim of their breeding programme – verified by Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL) – is to strengthen flocks and save farmers time and money by reducing the number of times flocks need to be drenched. As a group they work collaboratively to improve parasite resistant stock genetics and educate farmers about the value of including parasite résistance in stock selection decisions. . . 

Benefits of entering Dairy Industry Awards numerous:

Entries for the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards open on Tuesday 1st October and are an opportunity for entrants to secure their future while learning and connecting with others and growing their career. The 2019 Share Farmers of the Year say the benefits to their career and business from entering are worth the effort and time.

Colin and Isabella Beazley won the 2019 Northland Share Farmers of the Year and went on to win the National title as well. “We entered to benchmark ourselves against the best and also for the networking opportunities,” they say. “The networking and contact with industry leaders is unparalleled and we have used these relationships to grow our business.” . .

Farmers could lose tens of thousands as vegan activists plan fortnight-long blockade of UK’s largest meat market – Greg Wilford:

It is the largest wholesale meat market in Britain, and celebrated for selling some of the nation’s finest cuts of beef, lamb and pork for more than 800 years.

But, if vegan activists have their way, London’s Smithfield Market could be transformed into a parade of fruit and vegetable stalls without any animal produce in sight. . .


One size doesn’t fit all water

22/08/2019

Federated Farmers is sending the government a strong message on water quality:

A ‘one size fits all’, inflexible and punitive regulatory regime for water quality just gets backs – and costs – up and most importantly will not work, Federated Farmers says.

“We have consistently argued that farmers will get alongside and work with sensible, practical and affordable catchment-based solutions based on an accurate assessment of the actual water quality,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Labour and the Greens both tried to sell one-size for all policies before the election and every time they did support for national improved.

Environment Minister David Parker has said announcements on tighter regulations on the agricultural sector are imminent.

“We all want good, fresh water.  All of us – farmers included – need, and have effects on, water quality whether we drink it, use it for some commercial purpose or recreate in it.

“The question is how you drive water quality improvements.  There’s no doubt there is a place for rules and regulation, but they must take into account the circumstances of each catchment – soil types, land uses and community priorities to name a few,” Allen said.

What is needed and what works for one water way is not necessarily what will work and what’s needed for another.

“We must keep up the momentum with the water quality improvements we are already seeing in many catchments, not cut across this with cumbersome, draconian, one-size-fits-all regulations.”

Federated Farmers believes regional councils should be required to go through the nutrient limit setting process as per the current National Policy Statement, “with a stick approach to achieve it,” Allen said.

“Some councils haven’t done it, and that’s a problem.  If the reason is capacity issues for smaller councils, the government could help with resourcing. But we have to bear in mind that these processes are complex and take time.”

On stock exclusion, the issue is about keeping stock out of water, not mandatory and arbitrary setbacks.  A significant amount of work has already been done by farmers applying the appropriate method to achieve stock exclusion.

“In dairy districts, we should build on the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.  Farmers have already invested huge amounts of time and effort, resulting in outcomes including stock being excluded from waterways on 97.5% of dairy farms, and more than 99.7% of regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now having bridges or culverts. We are seeing the improvements form this sort of work coming though. For example, a recent regional council report shows that water quality in Taranaki rivers is showing long-term improvement.  Nearly half the rivers showed significant improvement, which has flowed from the stock exclusion, extensive riparian plantings farmers have done and changes to effluent disposal.

“There are now a lot of regional councils which do have good rules for stock exclusion, based on what is needed for their region.  They are fit for purpose and farmers have gone on and are living with them. Councils that don’t have rules are a minority and need to get on with the job.” 

If councils already have rules which work, they should be left to carry on with them.

Any proposed changes should be underpinned by robust cost-benefit analysis and rather than bald measurements of attributes (nitrogen, turbidity, phosphorus, etc) the catchment-based improvement programmes should be geared around the values the local community rate as the priorities – for example, can you swim in it, can fish and macroinvertebrates thrive in it, Allen said.

They should also take into account nature’s contribution to water pollution, like the nesting seagulls which foul several rivers, including the Kakanui from which we get our drinking water.

“When we do issue national environmental reports, the findings should come with the full picture.  What was the season like – hot, dry, wet…all of those things affect water quality and we need that context, not just bald numbers from a very limited number of sites.”

Farmers would also like to see consistency in approach across the sectors, and appropriate recognition of where changes that have been made, whether by urban or rural sectors, that are delivering improvements to water quality. 

Consistency would be a much needed improvement on current rules, or at least the application of them, that take a much more lenient approach to councils that allow storm water and sewerage to pollute waterways and beaches than it does to farmers.

Recognition of changes already made would help ensure those who are already doing their bit aren’t penalised to help the laggards.

Clean water is essential for human health and plays a big role in recreation.

We all have an interest in making improvements, it’s how it’s done is worrying farmers.

 


Houses bad, trees good?

15/08/2019

The government has launched a draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) that proposes a nationwide approach to protecting our most productive land.

New policies and standards could protect the most fertile and versatile land as soon as next year.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker have put out proposals to value high-quality soils as a resource of national significance.

“The threat to elite soils in this country has been very real,” O’Connor said. 

“We’ve been losing soils for the past 20 years at an alarming rate.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to visit Pukekohe and see what is happening.

And not only Pukekohe. Urbanisation creep and the development of lifestyle blocks have been encroaching on productive land all over the country.

The Government has released a draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land that proposes a nationwide approach to protecting NZ’s most productive land for future generations . . .

It is intended to target the high-value classes 1 and 2 soils that account for 5% of NZ’s soil profile but almost 85% of high-value crop production.

“One of the greatest challenges facing the world right now is the need to feed a growing population. 

“We have a well-earned reputation for producing some of the best food in the world,” O’Connor said.

“Continuing to grow food in the volumes and quality we have come to expect depends on the availability of land and the quality of the soil. 

“Once productive land is built on we can’t use it for food production, which is why we need to act now.” . . 

These are exactly the arguments farmers, councils and other advocates for rural communities have been using against the government’s policy that incentivises planting pine plantations on land better suited for cattle, deer and sheep.

We can’t eat trees and once farmland is converted to forestry it is both difficult and expensive to convert it back.

“We appreciate the balance for councils between the need to provide more houses and the need to protect their soils and economic activity,” O’Connor said.

Since April last year the Government has been looking at the best options for the protection of NZ’s high-value soils.

“This is not about spatial planning.

“It doesn’t dictate exactly what will happen.

“But it does place an obligation on councils to ensure there is enough highly productive land available for primary production now and in the future and to protect it from inappropriate subdivision, use and development.”

Councils will have to complete a cost-benefit analysis of using land for growing fruit and vegetables, assessing that against the short-term value of converting it to housing.

The criteria will be consistent nationwide but be flexible enough to allow councils to take into account their local situation and circumstances. 

“The NPS is not absolute protection for all soils. 

“It does consider local growth aspirations and the reality of where urban growth is now but it does force the councils to recognise the value of this soil for its productive capacity not just its subdivision capacity.”

Until now councils have not always had to consider the productive value – decisions have simply been based on market value and the potential for subdivision. . . 

All of that sounds vague enough to drive several tractors through especially if people who have bought land on the edge of urban areas at prices that reflect development potential seek to prevent the loss of value if it has to kept for food production.

The Taxpayers’ Union points out:

The Government’s plans to prohibit housing on ‘productive’ farmland will serve as yet another regulatory tax on housing, and is a shameful breach of Jacinda Ardern’s promise to fix housing supply, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

“Maddeningly, Government is now introducing even more restrictions on housing, ensuring prices will continue to rise, all for the sake of a small gang of potato-growers who want to keep urban farmland prices artificially low. This is a slap in the face for aspiring homeowners, and makes a joke of the Government’s claimed concern over housing affordability.”

“There is no need for the Government to intervene here, because the market already works to allocate land to its most productive use. If the land is more productive as farmland then farmers will outbid housing developers, and vice versa.” . . 

Ending the incentives for forestry on farmland could happen immediately without providing anyone with viable reasons to oppose the move.

It must happen for exactly the same reasons the government wants to protect class 1 and 2 soils – so we can keep growing the quantity and quality of food the country and the worlds needs.


Rural round-up

28/07/2019

88-year-old dairy farmer keeps ahead of technological changes – Gerard Hutching:

“If you don’t comply you won’t be able to supply.”

Ngatea dairy farmer Ken Jones has seen the future – and at 88 years of age a lot of the past.

He knows farmers will soon be confronted with an assortment of environmental rules they will have to abide by – in fact they already are – and he wants to get ahead of the game.

“I don’t know how far off that is but it’s no good hitting your head against a brick wall. I just want to make the farm compliant so I can hand it on to the family.” . . 

Tech journey discussed – David Hill:

Tina Mackintosh admits there were some late nights loading data after she and husband Duncan opted to embrace technology more than a decade ago.

The Mackintoshs, who farm at White Rock Mains, north of Rangiora, shared their journey of using technology to improve their farm system at last month’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

”We have a curious mind about data and what it can do, and we also believe it’s about sharing the good things when they work and, equally, not being afraid of sharing when the shite happens,” Mrs Mackintosh said.

”As we were going along the journey we had two babies, so we were entering data late at night. There was a lot of data to enter so it was quite frustrating. . .

$10,200 dog makes quick impression – Yvonne O’Hara:

A farm dog that sold for more than $10,000 in Gore yesterday marked the occasion by lifting his leg on his new owner’s gumboot.

Heading dog Glen sold for $10,200 at the annual sheep and cattle dog sale at the Charlton saleyards.

PGG Wrightson Gore sheep and beef representative Ross McKee said his company was calling it ”a New Zealand record”.

”At $10,200 he is in a league of his own.”

Glen was sold by his breeder, trainer and farmer David Parker, of Teviot Valley, and bought by sheep, beef and venison farmer Richard Tucker, of Becks. . . .

The Poison of Precaution: The Anti-Science Mindset -Riskmonger:

In last year’s excellent book, The Wizard and the Prophet, Charles Mann juxtaposed two polemics on the environment in the 1940s during the turning point of agricultural development: Norman Borlaug and William Vogt. Borlaug (the Wizard) took the scientific approach to innovate and develop new tools to solve problems facing agriculture. Vogt (the Prophet and arguably the founder of the modern environmental movement) would see an environmental problem as a reason for man to pull back and let the planet heal itself.

To this day, both approaches (to innovate or to pull back and take precaution) have defined environmental debates. There is no doubt which side I fall on. Borlaug’s scientific route has allowed humanity to thrive over the last 70 years. The Green Revolution in agriculture led to global economic expansions as abundance led to generations of risk-takers being able to leave the land and develop other opportunities for wealth generation. Environmentalists argue that the agri-technologies have led to deeper problems from saturated soil and poisoned water tables to serious human health issues to climate calamity. Social justice theorists are proposing agro-ecology as a Vogtian response in pulling back from seven decades of agricultural development. . .

Landmark report shows value of pesticides to NZ’s land-based industries:

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Development today released a landmark report, showing that New Zealand’s economy would lose up to $11.4 billion without crop protection products – and that crops would lose 30 percent of their value overall.

The report covers forestry, pasture, horticulture, field crops and vegetable production.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross, says that the report highlights the importance of the crop protection industry to New Zealand’s economy. . .

African farmers increase yields and income with their smartphones -Bekezela Phakathi:

From drones and big data to financing apps, advanced technology can be a game changer.

More farmers across Africa are set to turn to digital solutions within the next three years, which will boost productivity and, potentially, employment across the value chain, according to a new study.

The study by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) and advisory firm Dalberg Advisors, says that several barriers hindering the adoption of digital solutions in agriculture across the continent — notably, limited access to technology and connectivity — will be overcome. . .


RMA reform welcome and needed but

25/07/2019

The government plans to reform the Resource Management Act:

The Government is overhauling our resource management system, focusing on the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) – the primary legislation governing the use of our land, water and air resources. 

The Government wants the RMA to support a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. It also wants the RMA to be easier for New Zealanders to understand and engage with. The Government is approaching this in two stages. 

It plans to start by amending the RMA.

The Government is proposing several specific changes to the RMA through an amendment bill. The aim of the bill is to make the RMA less complex, give people more certainty on RMA issues, and increase opportunities for public participation.

The bill will address issues with resource consenting, enforcement and Environment Court provisions within the RMA. It may also include some other policy proposals. 

The bill is currently being drafted and we are working to introduce it to Parliament later this year. Public submissions will be called for when the bill is referred to a select committee. . . 

Then there’s the second stage:

The Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of the resource management system. This review will examine the broader and deeper changes needed to support the transition to a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. 

The aim of the review is to improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban development within environmental limits. . . 

Few if any will argue with the aims to support a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy and to make the RMA easier to understand and engage with.

Media releases from right, left and centre support the proposal. Reform is welcome and needed but getting agreement on that is the easy part.

The difficulty will be getting those who support the need for reform to agree on the details of any changes that are proposed.

Federated Farmers says reform will be a huge challenge:

The organisation agrees with Environment Minister David Parker that because of frequent amendments, the RMA is now overly cumbersome, costly and complex.

“The review will be no easy task. It will need to consider wide and diverse opinions and concerns. There are few organisations which have been more intricately and routinely involved in resource management processes across the country since the Act first came into force than Federated Farmers, so we consider our active input on the review panel will be vital,” Federated Farmers resource management spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The Act is a source of much frustration for resource users across the country. It is now twice the size it was on enactment in 1991 and while it has created a booming market for planners, lawyers and other experts, this has been at the expense of resource users, ratepayers and the environment.

Federated Farmers would support amendments that made the Act, in the Minister’s words, “fit for purpose in the 21st century”, and approve of any attempt to remove unnecessary complexity, delays and costs.

“But we have a word of caution – it’s hard to make processes move faster, when regional and district councils are already under-resourced and facing increasing public pressure and inadequate central government support,” Chris says.

There is also insufficient weighting given to the economic impacts of regulation on farms, rural communities and the regions of New Zealand. Economic impacts should be considered in balance with environmental, social and cultural wellbeing, instead of just the quick skim currently given.

“The trend appears to be for central government to push national regulation onto local government, expecting them to both resource and fund processes. This isn’t a case of local government being given too much power, rather it’s a trend of central government putting out cookie-cutter national rules and regulations, and expecting local councils to ‘make them work’.

“We have real concerns over central government interfering with local processes, as many regional councils are well underway in developing plans to address water quality and quantity,” Chris says.

Some of these plans are already in place, and other regions are wrestling with tricky questions around how plans can be tailored so they are both efficient and effective. Anything that interferes with these processes, and the considerable economic and social investment already made by our communities, could be a step-backwards for water quality management in New Zealand.

There has been a massive investment in time and money into changing farm practices and infrastructure, and getting a better understanding of the implications of activities on land to the environment.

This groundswell of change has been happening across the country, from landowner level through to catchment groups and wider district efforts. These efforts do not result in improved outcomes overnight, but trends are indicating we are on the right track.

“Ultimately, we don’t want to see this timely opportunity to reform the RMA, being instead used simply to put up as many affordable houses as possible, with an overly urban focus, to the peril of fixing other key issues with the Act,” Chris says.

The previous government’s attempts at reforms were vehemently opposed by the parties in the current government and it won’t be easy to reconcile those parties’ differing views on what needs to be done and how to do it.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Parker said that no RMA reform legislation would be introduced until after the 2020 election because the working group would take nearly 10 months to make its recommendations.

Collins called this “cynical timing.” Given that the next government to consider legislation could well be a National one, she believes Labour should be consulting the Opposition. But Parker refused to consider including the Opposition in the reform process until legislation is introduced, insisting it was the “parliamentary process”.

Given this, the latest effort at fixing the RMA is unlikely to succeed, Collins believes. “You’ve got New Zealand First going around the provinces saying, ‘We’re going to sort out the RMA and stop all these impediments to development.’ You’ve got the Greens saying, ‘We’re gonna stop all these developments.’ It just must be a nightmare for Labour.”

Winston Peters didn’t disagree with her. When asked if he thought New Zealand First would be on the same page as Labour and the Greens about RMA reform, he answered simply, “No”.

“I cannot agree with their race-based approach,” he said of Green Party support for a Māori role in the resource management system. . . 

That isn’t an encouraging start to the process.

Getting consent through the RMA is process is a long and frustrating process, reforming the act won’t be any easier.


Ag part of the tech boom

05/07/2019

Politik discusses Knowledge Wave Mark Two which seeks to boost the tech sector and quotes Helen Clark from the original Knowledge Wave conference:

Our export profile resembles that of developing countries, not that of a developed one.

Our export profile is unique among developed countries for the volume and value of primary produce and the large part that plays in our economy.

But the quote, and some policies from this government, send the message that there’s something wrong with that.

They ignore the fact that primary production does so well in New Zealand not just because of our natural advantages – the climate and soils – but because of the investment in, and application of, research and technology.

There is some comfort in David Parker’s statement:

“The agritech sector has been chosen as a key focus because it brings together two of New Zealand’s key competitive advantages – our expertise in agriculture and horticulture with our well-educated workforce,” he said.

This focus is already being undermined by government policy which incentivises forestry over food production.

Economic growth,  a broader based export economy and technological innovation are all worthy goals but none should be achieved by dragging down or devaluing primary production.

Our export profile does resemble that of a third world country, but primary production in New Zealand is very much a first-world business and already part of the tech boom.

When climate change could threaten food security, our ability to produce highly nutritious food in a very efficient manner is of even more importance.

 

 


Rural round-up

03/07/2019

Snowstorm inspires stock-saver – Tim Fulton:

A shattering snowstorm changed David Brown’s life and inspired a life-saving product.

The founder of the Woolover started out as a sheep and cropping farmer at Clandeboye in South Canterbury, near the Fonterra milk factory. 

Running 3500 ewes he had lost his fair share of new-born lambs over a couple of decades, especially in three-day southerly storms. . . 

Iwi milk plant delivers value – Richard Rennie:

The skyline of the small Bay of Plenty town Kawerau has been dominated for the past 40 years by the big Tasman paper mill but now has another profile in the form of the new Waiu Dairy plant.

The joint iwi-Cedenco plant has been commissioned and its first commercial milk collection this week will be processed through the 900kg-an-hour drier.

Waiu chairman Richard Jones said the plant is the result of a bar-side conversation in 2012 with iwi business representatives when they were kicking around options for revitalising eastern Bay of Plenty. . . 

 

One Plan changes should bring relief to nearly 180 unconsented farmers – Jono Galuszka:

Nearly 180 farms in the wider Manawatū are operating without a consent and cannot get one without changes to contentious planning rules.

But even if the changes are made, the region’s economy is expected to lose tens of millions of dollars.

Horizons Regional Council is putting proposed changes to its One Plan out for consultation, with people having 60 days from July 22 to make a submission. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk expanding plant near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

Infant nutrition formula producer Mataura Valley Milk has begun work on a $5m expansion to its plant at McNab near Gore, less than a year since it began operations.

General manager Bernard May said the company had secured a 37 per cent increase in milk supply for the coming season and needed to expand the plant.

New silos would be constructed and a new tanker bay were included in the expansion, and there was the possibility of more jobs being created. . . 

Application to import wilding conifer herbicide :

Views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Your views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has applied for approval to import the herbicide. . .

Agri-tech sector to pioneer govt industry transformation strategy Pattrick Smellie

(BusinessDesk) – Agricultural technology should be one of New Zealand’s leading sources of high-value jobs, exports and improved farming practice, but has failed to grow much in the last decade, prompting the government to make it the focus of the first of four new industry sector transformation plans.

In what was probably his last public act as Economic Development Minister before handing the portfolio to Phil Twyford after last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, Parker released both a general guide to the industry transformation plan concept and a draft ITP for the agri-tech sector this morning.

The other sectors targeted for such plans are food and beverages, digital technology, and forestry and wood processing.

Speeding breeding and other ways of feeding 10 billion people

Improvements to make crops more nutritious, disease resistant and climate smart are essential to feed a burgeoning world population.

While a host of fascinating innovations are primed to change the face of agriculture, there remains a stubborn limiting factor for plant breeding.

This is the long generation times of crops that allow only one or two generations per year. Unless this changes it is unlikely that we will be able to feed the 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet by 2050.

This roadblock to progress has been alleviated by speed breeding protocols developed by research teams at the John Innes Centre and the University of Queensland. . .


Archaic GM law holding NZ back

18/06/2019

New Zealand’s archaic genetic technology law is stifling breakthrough science:

Pressure is mounting on the Government to tackle the controversial area of genetic technology, with officials warning if it doesn’t, the country could face lost opportunities – ranging from economic benefits to cutting-edge medical treatments and combating diseases like kauri dieback.

Documents obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act reveal the current law around genetically modified organisms (GMO) is out of date and could be restricting New Zealand’s access to the advancements the technologies provide.

In a Ministry for the Environment briefing to Environment Minister David Parker in June 2018, officials warned New Zealand could fall behind the rest of the world in the genetic engineering space. It said the rapid pace of technological change is forcing countries to clarify their positions, and recommended the Government update the law and at the very least spark a national conversation about genetic modification.

“The developments raise questions as to whether New Zealand’s regulatory framework is still appropriate as the Gnis becoming outdated in light of developments. We believe a broad public conversation is required to ascertain New Zealanders’ views on the developments.”

The HSNO Act has never had a full review, meaning it hasn’t evolved since 1998.  

“The current regime is inflexible and reflects a 1998 understanding of genetic modification (GM) and the social priorities at the time.”

The law hasn’t changed but the science has.

National’s research, science and innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar told Newshub the Government’s dropped the ball and the law should be looked at.

“Looking at the way this technology has evolved over the last seven or eight years, it’s outdated and definitely not fit for purpose.”

Parmar believes ignoring the advice is harming the environment and the economy.

“This is shutting down the conversation, which is not good for any Government. I think we should be really open-minded about seeing how we can take advantage of any technology. This is just like any technology – we need to learn to use it to our advantage and that is where they’re lacking.” . . 

Ecologist Jamie Steer told Newshub the legislation needs to be reviewed because the technology could be a game-changer.

“In terms of gene editing, it’s already been raised as a possibility to affect the Predator Free 2050 goals, including the possibility to achieve one of the interim goals around making a science solution that’s capable of eradicating one of the target species. Another possibility is using genetic modification for increasing the survival and fitness of a species. Both are feasible but would require significant research and public engagement.” . . 

Gene editing is not mixing genes from different species.

It’s simply selective breeding – opting for beneficial genes and getting rid of harmful or less productive ones.

It’s what we’ve been doing for thousands of years. The only difference is that new technology enables it to happen faster.

Gene editing could lead to the development of more nutritious food, it could be used to fight disease in people, animals and plants, it could be used for predator control.

The risks of not moderating the policy, providing its lead by science are far less than the risks of sticking with outdated law based on outdated science.

 

 

 

 


Political meddling danger to super fund

22/11/2018

The Suerannuation Fund is at risk from political meddling:

Now, Labour appears to be considering taking steps to require NZ Super to invest in a very specific way in a way no politician has tried to do before.

While no one from the Government is prepared to discuss the plans, it is understood that Economic Development Minister David Parker wants to carve off hundreds of millions of dollars of the Governments contributions to the Super Fund to be specifically invested into early stage companies.

This is often referred to as angel investment. . . 

Angel investment is fine for individuals or private businesses it’s not appropriate for the Super Fund at the directive of politicians.

Leaving aside whether there is a lack of money for early stage companies, a view which is not universally held in the industry, there are bigger issues at play. Having politicians direct the investments of NZ Super is dangerous territory.

Carving up the Government’s contributions to the fund, and earmarking parts for specific areas appears to be a subtle way to direct the Super Fund’s investments. It could easily become a political tool if politicians were able to use their influence to change investment decisions.

Once the door to political influence is opened, it will be difficult to close again, and each idea from Parliament is likely to be more questionable than the last. . .

This is very dangerous territory:

The security of New Zealanders’ pensions is at put at risk if Economic Development Minister David Parker opens up the Super Fund to political interference, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “For seventeen years, the Super Fund has been managed independently from the politicians, invested with the sole purpose of maximising returns for the Kiwi taxpayer. This independence has served the Fund well, and increased the security of our pensions.”

“The news that David Parker wants to fiddle with the Fund to skew investment towards particular types of companies should send a shiver down the spines of taxpayers.”

“If David Parker was some kind of investment guru, he’d be making millions in the private sector, not pursuing a career in politics. In fact, his investment decisions are guaranteed to be distorted by political motivations. This conflict of interest puts the security of our pensions at risk. The politicians need to stick to their core responsibilities and keep their grubby mitts off our Super!”

Putting money into the Super Fund instead of paying down debt is questionable.

But once it’s there, it needs to be invested wisely, not at political whim.

Having politicians direct where funds should be invested puts the Super Fund at risk and should not be countenanced.


Rural round-up

03/10/2018
Government blamed for pessimism – Neal Wallace:

Growing pessimism among dairy farmers has sent confidence plunging into negative territory for the first time since early 2016. The quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey of 450 farmers reveals confidence in the agricultural economy has fallen from plus 2% in June to minus 3% in September.

Those expecting an improvement in the next 12 months fell from 26% to 20% while those expecting conditions to worsen rose slightly from 23% to 24%. . .

Farmer group aims at land best practice  – Simon Hartley:

A farmer-led initiative covering six Aparima catchments in Southland is looking at ways to improve land management practices to benefit the environment and local communities.

The Aparima Community Engagement (ACE) project, which represents six local catchment groups, has been under way since March this year, and a fortnight ago briefed Environment Minister David Parker on its aims during his visit to the area.

The type of issues being tackled includes identifying best practice around the likes of buffer zones for wintering, and the use of crops and fertiliser. . . 

McDonald’s lauds Maori beef farm  – Hugh Stringleman:

Hapū-owned Whangara Farms, on the East Coast north of Gisborne, has been accredited to the McDonald’s Flagship Farmers programme, the first such appointment in the Southern Hemisphere. Under general manager Richard Scholefield for the past 12 years, the 8500ha group has become the 28th Flagship Farmer for the worldwide restaurant chain and the seventh beef supplier. . .

Hunting lobby wins concessions over tahr cull  – Kate Gudsell, Eric Fryberg:

The powerful hunting lobby has won concessions in the heated fight over the cull of thousands of Himalayan Tahr.

A meeting was held yesterday between Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and hunting groups including the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the Game Animal Council as well as conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, and iwi Ngāi Tahu with the hunting industry emerging confident at the outcome.

The hunting fraternity say Ms Sage has pulled back from positions which the industry had found unacceptable and forced her to re-think plans to cull 10,000 Himalayan Tahr from the Southern Alps.  . .

Seeka warns of possible PSA outbreak in Victorian orchard – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, says it may have found the fruit disease PSA in an orchard it is developing in Australia.

It has notified Agriculture Victoria of unusual bacterial symptoms and is removing suspicious plant material pending further test results. . .

Pāmu releases first Integrated Report – returns to paying a dividend

Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (Landcorp) has released its first truly integrated Annual Report for 2018 today.

Chief Financial Officer Steve McJorrow said the 2018 EBITDAR[1] of $48.5 million, announced on 31 August, was very pleasing, and reflected good milk and red meat returns, along with revaluation of carbon holdings (NZUs).

“We are also pleased to be back to paying our shareholders a dividend, which will be $5 million for the 2017/18 financial year. . .

Dairy Hub farm reserach to be revealed at field day:  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kale versus fodder beet, phosphorous supplementation and buffer widths will be the focus of the Southern dairy hub’s next field day at Makarewa on October 10.

DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said they would be updating those attending about the early results of the studies being carried out on site.

Farm manager Shane Griffin will be talking about the hub farm’s progress and Dr Ross Monaghan, of AgResearch, will discuss results of the nitrogen leaching study.

Dairy apprenticeship programme celebrates first birthday:

Federated Farmers is wishing happy birthday today to the Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy Programme on its first anniversary.

The pilot programme supported by MBIE, the PrimaryITO and Feds, was launched last year with the intention of finding more Kiwis keen to work in the dairy industry on farm, and keen to upskill into a farming career.

After almost a year Feds is proud to say we’ve had 193 employer expressions of interest, and 98 completed farm charters, enabling employers to enter the programme along with 180 eligible apprentice expressions of interest and 62 apprentices in the programme. . .

 

Rural round-up

24/07/2018

Crooks beware – Neal Wallace:

Tough new laws for stock rustlers have gained cross-party support and could be law within months.

The Sentencing (Livestock) Rustling Bill initially introduced by the National Party’s Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie in June last year has since garnered support from all parties and will make the theft of livestock an aggravating factor for sentencing.

That effectively increases the severity of the crime, giving police more options in the charges laid and sentencing by the courts. . .

RMA guidelines concern Federated Farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

Federated Farmers is expressing its concern about new Resource Management Act guidelines released by Environment Minister David Parker.

The guidelines are intended to assist councils in their monitoring and enforcement duties under the Resource Management Act.

Enforcement of the rule of law would always be essential to encourage broader compliance, Mr Parker said.

“This is true in criminal, transport, taxation or environmental law . .

Unintended results of investment curbs – Simon Hartley:

Proposals to curb foreign investment in New Zealand may have unintended repercussions for the horticulture and viticulture sectors around the country.

Instead of curbing foreign ownership, aspects of the proposals could result in foreign owners instead opting to buy more vineyards and land outright, undermining efforts to keep more assets in New Zealand hands.

Crowe Horwath partner and agribusiness specialist Alistair King said the proposed Government restrictions and legislative changes on foreign investment were aimed at reducing the amount of foreign investment in New Zealand’s pristine assets, such as high-country stations and large tracts of land . . .

DairyNZ facility a world first for methane measurement:

A groundbreaking methane research facility in Hamilton has been established at DairyNZ’s Lye Farm. It’s already yielding some interesting results from recent studies and has great potential for further research projects.

Managing and reducing dairy cows’ methane emissions is crucial to the future of sustainable and profitable dairy farming in New Zealand. That’s why, in 2015, DairyNZ worked with a collaborator in the USA to develop a novel system for measuring methane. This equipment, installed at DairyNZ’s Lye Farm research facility two years ago, is a world first and it’s already proving its worth. . .

Methane tools in the pipeline:

Methane inhibitors are looking like one of the most promising tools to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Here’s how your DairyNZ Levy is being used alongside other partner funding to contribute to the latest research.

The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) aims to provide knowledge and tools for New Zealand farmers to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The consortium works in collaboration with the New Zealand government and it’s partly funded by farmer levies, including DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand – two of eight funding partners.

PGgRc general manager Mark Aspin says the two problem greenhouse gases for New Zealand are methane and nitrous oxide. . .

Apiculture New Zealand asks industry to vote on the introduction of a commodity levy:

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) is now consulting with the apiculture sector on the introduction of a commodity levy to help manage and leverage rapid industry growth.

Chief Executive, Karin Kos, today announced details of the levy at ApiNZ’s National Conference in Blenheim. The ApiNZ management team and Board members will hold eight consultation meetings across the country to speak with honey producers and beekeepers about their involvement in the levy process. . .

Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 announced:

Congratulations to Annabel Bulk from Felton Road who became the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018. This is the second consecutive year Bulk has taken out the title as she was also the winner in 2017.

“I put more pressure on myself this year as I was determined to defend the title and go through to the nationals again” says Bulk. Her study and preparation obviously paid off and she is thrilled to represent Central Otago once again in the National Final. . .

Cesnik wins Young Champion Award – Jamie-Lee Oldfield:

Accessing new information isn’t always easy for the latest generation in the sheep and wool industry.

Which is why Young Champion Award winner Lexi Cesnik is so passionate about increasing knowledge transfer, especially among younger participants.

“There is a lot of new technology coming out, and a lot of that work is being done with extension in the private sector, meaning accessing knowledge is not as straight forward for young people in the industry as it has been in the past,” Ms Cesnik said. . .

Farming from the frying pan to the fire this year – Till the Cows Come Home:

April 2018 was a tough month. Every week, we hoped that the rain would stop and each week, the weather forecasters dashed our hopes as fields remained waterlogged, grass grew slowly and livestock lived indoors eating the last of the winter fodder. Many farmers, mostly those on drier land and accustomed to having their livestock out in February and March, ran out of fodder and had to purchase more.

The cows were indoors for months on end this winter. Every day of April was boring and repetitive, feeding cows, scraping and liming cubicles, trying to empty slurry tanks by a foot or so on a dry day, waiting for the weather to take up so we could get on with the spring jobs. Even when the rain stopped and the sun shone on the occasional day, the land was still too wet to withstand the weight of cows. On sunny mornings, the cows stopped and looked at me in disbelief as I directed them towards their cubicle shed, before they walked in unwillingly and begrudgingly. I didn’t know who to feel more sorry for – the cows or the farmers. . .


Rural round-up

04/07/2018

Dairy prices tumble 5% at latest auction – Gerard Hutching:

Prices plunged at the latest global dairy auction by 5 per cent per cent to reach an average of US$3232, the most dramatic decrease seen in the index this year.

The price for New Zealand’s key export whole milk powder (WMP) was US$2905, a fall of 7.3 per cent. Futures markets had suggested WMP might fall by 1 per cent. 

AgriHQ said Fonterra’s latest Global Dairy Update appeared to have given the market the jitters, especially for WMP. . . 

Trade dispute causes dairy prices to tumble – Fran O’Leary:

Dairy markets appear to be reacting negatively to President Donald Trump’s decision to place tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, and on a number of Chinese products.

“In retaliation, Mexico announced that they will place a tariff on U.S. cheese, and China announced tariffs on some dairy products, corn, soybeans and other products. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. cheese,” says Bob Cropp, University of Wisconsin Extension dairy economist.

“In 2017, Mexico accounted for 28.3% of U.S. cheese exports. While these tariffs didn’t take effect until July, and the degree of impact on U.S. dairy exports is unknown at this time, dairy product prices have already fallen.” . . 

2019 Zanda McDonald Award now open:

Talented young agri-leaders from Australia and New Zealand are being urged to apply for the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award. Applications for this prestigious award open today, with an impressive prize package worth over $50,000 up for grabs.

Now in its fifth year, the award provides the winner with an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip, $1,000 cash, a place on Rabobank’s Farm Managers Course, and access to the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group – a network of over 150 influential agri-business men and women from across Australasia.

Richard Rains, Chairman of the Zanda McDonald Award, says the award provides a fantastic opportunity for young agricultural leaders to further their career and their personal development. . . 

Backing our Southern men:

There’s something magical about having a hometown advantage.

But that advantage comes with a twist for two southern men who are competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Invercargill this week.

Technically, there are two southerners competing in the final, but they represent different regions in the contest. 

Logan Wallace, 28, leases his parents farm at Waipahi in south Otago and is the Otago-Southland regional finalist, while Cameron Black, 25, who is based in Christchurch as a rural consultant for New Zealand Agri Brokers is the Aorangi regional finalist. . . 

A2 Synlait agree to extend infant formula supply deal – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy marketer A2 Milk and milk processor Synlait Milk have agreed to extend their infant formula supply deal and increase the volume of formula Synlait will supply as the two continue to focus on sales in the lucrative Chinese market.

A2 and Synlait first signed a supply agreement in 2012 to support the milk marketing firm’s plans to launch infant formula sales into China, and inked a new deal in August 2016 providing for increased scale if market demand warranted it.

The companies’ arrangements were for a minimum of five years from 2016, with a rolling three-year term from August this year, but have been extended by two years so will last until at least July 2023. Synlait will increase the volume of infant formula products it is A2’s exclusive supplier for and increase its committed production capacity. . .

Latest report from Land and Water Forum:

The Government has said it will act immediately on some recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. This includes prioritising action in the most “at-risk” catchments.

Advice was sought by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor on a number of issues on waterways and the primary sector.

“The Government will act on some of the Forum’s recommendations immediately, while the remaining recommendations will be considered in more detail as part of our work programme,” David Parker said. . .

First female arable chair joins Feds national board:

Federated Farmers has a new board member as a result of elections held during last week’s national conference in Wellington.

Karen Williams, who was elected arable chairperson at that industry group’s annual meeting in Timaru in June, was elected to the national board by delegates from Federated Farmers’ 24 provinces. She replaces Guy Wigley, who stepped down after three years as arable leader. . . 

A new chapter in the history of Vidal – one of New Zealand’s oldest wineries:

On June 30 the doors of the Vidal Estate winery and restaurant in Hastings closed for the last time. It was a historic moment for the winery established by pioneer Anthony Vidal in 1905, but the future of Vidal Estate looks bright with the relocation to a new state-of-the-art winery located in the Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay.

To make great wine, the closer to the vineyards the better, said Hugh Crichton, winemaker at Vidal Estate. “It was an exciting time to move our winemaking base out to the Gimblett Gravels for vintage 2018. While it has been immensely satisfying to ferment and age our wines in the historic cellars in Hastings there’s no denying there were challenges. Being closer to our vineyards and working within a winery designed for quality will without a doubt further push us into the premium market”. . . .

Leading New Zealand winery-based hospitality business placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest winery-based tourism and hospitality operations – encompassing vineyards, a function centre, restaurant, and high-end accommodation – has been placed on the market for sale.

Mahana Estates just west of Nelson generates income from four revenue streams which operate both independently and conjunction with each other.

The Mahana Estates property portfolio encompasses:
• A 21-hectare vineyard planted in pinot noir, pinot gris, Riesling and chardonnay
• A nine hectare sauvignon blanc vineyard in the nearby region of Hope
• A 2,589 square metre four-level winery capable of crushing 500 tonnes of grapes annually and sustained by its own on-site cellaring facility and bottling plant which operates on a gravity feed system to minimize the need for pumps . . 

Aussie grain giant puts mega farm up for sale – Chris Mccullough:

The owner of the 495,000 acre farm is asking $72 to $82 million
for what is one of Australia’s largest arable operations

One of Australia’s biggest arable farms extending to 495,000 acres is up for sale at a price tag of $72 to $82 million.

Western Australian grain giant John Nicoletti decided to retire from grain farming at 64 years old. . .


Conspiracy censorship or . . .?

22/06/2018

Speaker Trevor Mallard  ruled out an amendment from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill that would have made a controversial 106-house luxury development in Northland more attractive to wealthy overseas buyers.

The amendment that exempted Te Arai property development near Mangawhai from the consent provisions of the bill was inserted by the office of Associate Finance Minister David Parker, the minister in charge of the bill.

It was included in recommendations on the bill from the Labour-chaired Finance and Expenditure Committee.

That was despite concerns from National members of the committee that the inclusion of a private exemption for Te Arai development through an amendment to a public bill was inappropriate. . . 

Richard Harman wrote a comprehensive post at Politik yesterday explainging the background to this.

National’s Amy Adams questioned the minister about the issue yesterday:

3. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Associate Minister of Finance: What is the purpose of the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Associate Minister of Finance): There are three main purposes. The first is to ban foreign buyers of existing New Zealand homes; the second is to bring forestry registration rights into the overseas investment screening regime to ensure they’re treated similarly to existing screening for freehold and leasehold forests, whilst at the same time streamlining screening for forestry to encourage foreign direct investment in the forestry sector; and the third and equally important purpose is to preserve policy space for future Governments to protect the rights of New Zealanders to own their own land. This policy space would, in practice, have been lost forever had this Government not acted to do these things before the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) comes into effect.

Hon Amy Adams: Was it the policy intent of the bill for developers of multimillion-dollar homes targeted at foreign buyers, such as the Te Ārai property development, to be exempt?

Hon DAVID PARKER: No. The transitional exemption that was put forward but has been ruled out of order was put forward with the intent of helping the iwi who had suffered long delays on the project. It was a time-limited, transitional measure. There was advice from Treasury that this was procedurally appropriate to allow an exemption. However, the Speaker has advised that the select committee’s recommendation is not within the Standing Orders. The Government accepts the Speaker’s ruling, and therefore the transitional exemption will not proceed.

Hon Amy Adams: Well, is it his intention to promulgate regulations under the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill to exempt the Te Ārai development, or any other development linked to John Darby, from the provisions of that legislation?

Hon DAVID PARKER: No, and, indeed, the other regulation-making power in the bill—and the member will know this because she was on the select committee—would not allow such an exemption. . . 

Hon Amy Adams: Since becoming the Minister responsible for the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, has he had any discussions about the bill and the proposed Te Ārai development exemption with the chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee, Michael Wood; and if so, when?

Hon DAVID PARKER: Obviously on a number of occasions, but I do that with every bill that I’m responsible for.

Hon Amy Adams: Since becoming a Minister has he met, corresponded with, spoken to, or texted John Darby or Ric Kayne, as the beneficial owners of the Te Ārai development, or any representative of their business interests; and if so, for what purpose?

Hon DAVID PARKER: No. I know thousands of people in New Zealand, including Mr Darby. I have bumped into him probably once or twice in the last decade. The last time I can recall talking to him was when I bumped into him, and it’s so long ago I can’t remember when it was.

Hon Amy Adams: Well, since becoming a Minister, has he met, corresponded with, spoken to, or texted any representative of John Darby and Ric Kayne’s lobbying firm Thompson Lewis; and if so, for what purpose?

Hon DAVID PARKER: Everyone in the House will know that GJ Thompson actually was the acting chief of staff here, so I’ve regularly spoken with him—unfortunately for the member, not about this issue. Someone made me aware that Mr Lewis had some involvement in this. I have not spoken to Mr Lewis about this at all nor corresponded with him. The two meetings that I can recall having with Mr Lewis since we were elected were in respect of carbon rights and forestry, and members of staff were present at those meetings to witness them, as well. . . 

Later Matthew Hooton tweeted:

I read the column but if you click on the link now, it’s disappeared.

Is there a conspiracy, is it censorship is there really nothing to see or is there more to come?

 


Rural round-up

17/05/2018

Climate ambassadors the next step in dairy’s plan :

Fifteen dairy farmers have been chosen to profile the climate change cause as New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassadors.

This is the next step of the dairy sector’s plan to create a culture of climate conscious agribusiness amongst farmers and the broader dairy industry, says DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle.

“These fifteen men and women all represent best environmental farming practice for their farm system,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle. “They run their farms profitably and sustainably and are serious about reducing on farm greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Savvy couple win at Dairy Industry awards – Stephen Bell:

Northland couple Dan and Gina Duncan are technologically savvy and care about people, the environment and cows and while doing very well at dairy farming.

Their efforts were rewarded when on Saturday night they were named the Share Farmers of the Year.

Gerard Boerjan from Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa is Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland is Dairy Trainee of the Year. 

The judges said the Duncans are passionate, professional and committed. . .

Dairy trainee of the year grateful for employers’ support – Nicole Sharp:

In three years, 24-year-old Simone Smail, of Invercargill, has come a long way in the dairy industry.

Being presented the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year award at Stadium Southland on Saturday night, Miss Smail was overcome.

She thanked her family for their support, her bosses Steve and Tracy Henderson for giving her a start in the industry and everybody else she had met along the way. . .

Lamb prices expected to stay high – Simon Hartley:

Key lamb export markets are paying  14%  more for product so far this season, with record highs  for this time of year,  ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

He said AgriHQ  reported lamb supply remained tight  and competition among processors was still keen given the  relatively low levels of slaughter.

“It follows that underlying demand is also solid …  all key export markets are paying 14% or more so far this season compared to last season.”  . .

Increasing biodiversity is a priority at Craigmore Station – Kate Guthrie:

Every year David Bielski, manager of Craigmore Station in South Canterbury, plans to spend $50,000 of the station’s budget on fencing, planting trees and labour to increase biodiversity on the property.

An impressive 51 hectares of land already consists of native plant species and is under various QE II covenants and game keeper John Brownley has been controlling a full range of pests on the station for over 10 years.

“Our pest tally for last year was 120 feral cats, 30 ferrets, 13 stoats, 214 hedgehogs, 19 (recorded) rats, 260 rabbits, 155 possums, 6 wallabies and 57 hares,” David confirms. “Numbers go up and down. We try to minimise pests, but we never get on top of them.”. . .

Is Labour anti-farming? – Jamie Mackay:

Environment Minister David Parker has an interesting background in agriculture.

He oversaw the due diligence on both the science and the intellectual property for the A2 Corporation and was one of its first two employees. It’s now a $9 billion dollar company.

Unfortunately, for him, he sold his start-up shares to avoid a conflict of interest when he became a politician.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from an interview I did with him on my radio show last week: . . .

Farmer suicide research not a priority for govt:

A release of official documents confirms the Ardern-Peters Government does not consider further research into farmer suicide to be a high priority, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Documents relating to a funding application for Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) show how officials successfully persuaded the Minister of Health David Clark and the Minister for Primary Industries Damien O’Connor that further investment into farm related suicide research is not a priority at this stage,” Dr Reti says.

“This astounding admission continues the Government’s dismissive attitude towards rural mental health – further compounded by the refusal to commit to a school of rural health. . .

Future guardians get their hands dirty planting on Mauao – Scott Yeoman:

A busy winter season of planting has begun on Mauao in Mount Maunganui, with Ngāi Te Rangi’s future guardians getting their hands dirty and leading the way.

About 500 native plants were dug into a bank at the base of Mauao yesterday by 20 children under 5 and a team of adult helpers.

Ngāi Te Rangi’s Kia Maia Ellis said the Mauao Trust had a big kaupapa (policy) around restoring the korowai (cloak) at Mauao. . .

z


Rural round-up

14/05/2018

Fewer cows no easy task – ODT editorial:

Environment Minister David Parker is continuing his campaign to clean up New Zealand’s waterways.

It is not as though New Zealand has not had plenty of warning. In June last year, Mr Parker made the point of saying Labour would make it tougher for farms to intensify operations under a 12-point freshwater policy.

The party’s policy sought to crack down harder on polluters, make all rivers and lakes swimmable, and extend freshwater quality standards.

At the weekend, Mr Parker indicated he wants fewer cows per hectare because the number now is higher than the environment can sustain. . . 

Budget day the benchmark for judging Government’s C+ performance in regions- Gerald Piddock:

 Six months have passed since the new Government has taken office and made a vast array of decisions negatively impacting on provincial New Zealand and in turn, farmers.

The list is depressingly long: The ban on offshore oil and gas exploration in Taranaki, the end of government money for irrigation, the loss of air ambulances in Rotorua, Taupo and Te Anau, the refusal to give $600,000 funding to the Rural Health Alliance, regional fuel taxes and just recently David Parker talking up the prospect of nutrient limits – effectively a cap on stock numbers.

The devil will be in the detail on the latter, but on the surface, Parker’s aims appear similar to what most regional councils are putting in place around the country anyway.

Topping it all off are the ballooning costs of biosecurity issues and the likelihood of agriculture coming into the Emissions Trading Scheme.  Labour will also almost certainly be campaigning for a water tax in the 2020 election . . 

Farmers are spooked – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers are spooked and they have every right to be.

We have a Prime Minister describing climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment”; and a Climate Change Minister who not only happens to co-lead the Greens but who sees climate change “as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent parts of our economy and society for the better”.

And this new Labour-Greens-NZ First Government is forthright in its green-leaning tendencies and policies.

Last month, in a historic move, it announced that no new exploration permits for offshore oil and gas fields will be issued, in support of its commitment to action on climate change. . . 

Inaugural Winners of New National Dairy Award Announced:

The inaugural winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award are considered leaders within the dairy industry, in all areas of sustainability, business and farm management, as well as in the way they give back to the industry and community.

Edward (Wynn) and Tracy Brown own a 320ha 700-cow farm near Matamata, with a further 30ha leased from their neighbour. Their property bears the name “Tiroroa”, which means ‘extensive view’ or ‘view to the future’.

“Our aim is to run an economically and environmentally sustainable dairy farming business maximising production while minimizing footprint,” say the couple. “We like to take the meaning of Tiroroa into consideration with all our decision-making. . . 

Daily milk urea readings could help tackle N in urine:

New Zealand’s 4.8 million milking cows excrete 1000 tonnes of nitrogen a day in their urine, and 200 tonnes of this end up in groundwater, says CRV Ambreed.

The company says it calculated the daily numbers using existing data related to milk urea concentration in daily bulk milk reports.

Farmers could be using the milk urea concentration (MU) value on their daily bulk milk reports to calculate the amount of nitrogen their herd is excreting in urine and take steps to address that, says Phil Beatson, the company’s head of R&D. . .

‘Wool Shed’ about inspiring – Nicole Sharp:

Teenagers will be encouraged to come up with ways to use wool creatively in a bid to have them take up the torch as ”Generation Wool”.

Campaign for Wool board member and former chairman Craig Smith officially opened the South Island’s new ”wool shed” in Riverton recently, but it is no normal wool shed.

Accompanied by Wool in Schools project manager Vicki Linstrom and PGG Wrightson Wool general manager Grant Edwards, the ”wool shed,” an education resource, initiated by the Campaign for Wool, was delivered to its first stop at Aparima College . . 

Southern goat group formed – Yvonne O’Hara:

Whitestone Boer Goat Stud owners Owen and Annette Booth formed the goat farmers and breeders’ Southern Goat Group following a wet field day on their Milton property on April 28.

Mr Booth is the chairman and Kaaren Wilkes, of Chatto Creek, is the secretary.

Mr Booth said the heavy rain contributed to lower than expected numbers attending.

”We had about 12 people there,” he said.

”They came from Duntroon, Alexandra, Peninsula and Brighton.

”We formed the group and got things under way.” . . 

No kidding! Newborns blamed for shortage of goat milk – Belle Puri:

The herd of goats on a Fraser Valley farm is kidding, but the farmer isn’t when it comes to a recent shortage of certified organic goat milk.

An explosion of newborn goats or “kids” has put a dent in the production line at Farm House Natural Cheeses in Agassiz, B.C.

The kids get first access to doe milk before any of it can be used to make products for human consumption, said Farm House office manager Dana Dinn. . .


Rural round-up

08/05/2018

The problem is not dirty dairying, it’s still dirty government – Not PC:

Environment Minister David Parker is all set to tell dairy farmers how many cows he’s going to be let them have on their own farms.  This is, he claims, to fix “dirty dairying.”

But turns out you neither need nor want central planning to fix the alleged problem. What you do need is property rights — and common law.

Here’s a repost from 2008 that’s sadly topical again, explaining what that means… . . 

Give farmers who are having a free ride on the Feds a rev up, says Manawatu leader – Jill Galloway:

Freeloading farmers are getting a free ride when Federated Farmers goes to bat for them on rural issues, says a Manawatū leader.

Manawatū/Rangitīkei Federated Farmers president Richard Morrison said the value of Federated Farmers was often queried and everyone was after a tangible return for every dollar they spent.

“I can see why they want to know how the money is spent … however consider the wins we at the federation have had. There has been a benefit for farmers and rural communities.”

He said some farmers who were not members were getting an easy free ride on others. “Talk to those people and see if they will join up,” he told about 50 members at the region’s Federated Farmers annual meeting. . . 

Farmers have stake in caring for water: Waikato mayor – Craig Rowley:

At the heart of the Waimate district is the rural sector – farming that contributes to both the local and national economies.

Farmers have and continue to work hard to reduce any negative impacts on the environment. The establishment of water zone committees is one example of this.

The Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury Water Zone committee is made up of local people, including farmers, who have a wide range of interests in water – the source, the use and the benefits that come with good water management practices. . . 

Commodity prices good but problems possible – Simon Hartley:

Commodity prices in many of the country’s agriculture sectors are in a “sweet spot” at present, but Brexit, US-China relations and global trade talks could yet create headwinds.

The waning strength of the New Zealand dollar has been in the headlines for the past week.The kiwi has been down 5% against its United States counterpart in recent weeks and at one point fell below US70c, boosting commodity prices in New Zealand dollar terms.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said, from a revenue perspective, the country’s agricultural sector was “in a bit of a sweet spot”,  although there was  the odd exception. . .

Emma Lewin wins Tararua Shepherd of the Year :

Four candidates — two men and two women competed for the title of Tararua Shepherd of the Year 2018.

At the Greenhill Station Field Day on Friday April 27 Emma Lewin was declared the winner.

According to judge Damian Reynolds of Totaranui Angus each was put through their paces in a rigorous two-hour assessment on the properties where they currently work.

This involved both practical skills such as stock handling and shearing as well as knowledge of the industry and operation of the farm they work on. . . 

Not an easy fit for agricultural drones in broadacre – Sharon O’Keefe:

THEY take pretty pictures and if you choreograph your headers correctly, your drone video may even trend on social media. 

However, precision agriculture specialists and researchers are questioning the utility of drones for broadacre agriculture. 

McGregor Gourlay, national digital agriculture manager, Brooke Sauer said while her company was a drone stockist, she felt as a general rule, drones were more useful for purposes other than broadacre precision agriculture.  . . 

Cumbrian farmer tracks down stolen pregnant sheep:

FOURTEEN stolen pregnant ewes have been safely returned to their Cumbrian farm thanks to a high-tech marking system.

Pip Simpson, whose farm is at Troutbeck near Windermere, has been a victim of previous livestock thefts.

He turned to a tracing system to help protect his flock from criminals targeting isolated farms across the county.

TecTracer, a forensic sheep tracing system developed by John Minary, a former senior police detective, and a Swedish ballistics expert ingrains coded markers into a sheep’s fleece,“marking” them with a unique identifying code which makes it easy to trace which farm the sheep originated from. . . 


Rural round-up

07/05/2018

The threat of irrational environmentalism – Dr Doug Edmeades:

I never thought it would end. Certainly I never thought that I might be alive to see the beginning of its end.

I am referring to the Enlightenment – the intellectual movement that began in the 17th century. It saw the end of Dark Ages and ushered in the Age of Reason. Mystical and religious certitude and bigotry gave way to reason based on objectively derived evidence.

Rather than praying to God for a good crop you adopted the latest technologies to ensure the crop did not fail. And if it did fail it was not seen as a consequence of your failure to appease God through prayer, but because you did not fully understand or fully implement the best knowledge and technology. If you prayed it was for more science, please. . . 

Economic development is about more than wishful thinking:

The Government risks serious damage to New Zealanders’ livelihoods by replacing the real productive economy with wishful thinking, National’s Economic Development Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“On TVNZ’s Q&A this morning, Economic Development Minister David Parker spoke of his wish to reduce the number of livestock in this country. He said horticulture, such as growing apricots, would be better for the environment.

“He said the problem was that it was too expensive to pick fruit in New Zealand. But, no worries, we’ll invest in robotics. Robots will pick the fruit and the economy will surge.

“This is wishful thinking on a grand scale and it fails on so many levels.

“Mr Parker also admitted that the Government hadn’t done an analysis of what the economic impact of his proposed shift away from current land use. . . 

Plan to keep scheme farmer owned – Sally Brooker:

Farming leader William Rolleston has come up with a plan to keep the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme fully farmer-owned.

The former Federated Farmers national president, who farms in South Canterbury, outlined his idea at the federation’s South Canterbury provincial annual  meeting in Waimate on Friday afternoon.

The irrigation scheme, which has resource consent to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, has struggled to get landowners to buy enough shares to make it financially viable. Originally aimed at a 21,000ha command area, it was reduced to 12,000ha last year. . . 

 

Quacker of a start for duck shooting :

Duck-shooting season is off with a bang, with tens of thousands of people turning out across the country for the opening weekend.

The season officially started at 6am yesterday and runs through until August.

Fish and Game’s spokesperson Don Rood said hunters were on good behaviour and there were no reports of serious injury on day one.

“That’s all credit to our licence holders for doing the right thing. We’ve been pushing the education message with them. Safety is the very first priority before anything else – no duck is worth a shooting accident.”

In 2016, three people were accidentally shot at the beginning of the season. . . 

Alliance beefs up offering – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group has launched premium branded beef under the label Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef.

To qualify each carcase, irrespective of breed, is individually selected and visually assessed. 

It must have a high marbling score, low Ph range and extended wet aging.

The launch follows three years of research and will be targeted at the New Zealand food service sector and overseas markets. . . 

Farmers back in driving seat – Lindy Nelson:

Time, creative thinking, resources to create change and information all support us to turn business threats into opportunities.

Leadership well-applied and executed is one of those resources that inspires and supports action to respond.

Applied leadership was exactly what was demonstrated at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s recent workshop on the red meat sector story where our sector’s origin brand story, go-to-market strategy and response to the threat of alternative proteins were unveiled.

It was inspiring on a number of fronts – what the leadership team of B+LNZ has achieved and who it had collaborated with, its in-depth understanding of customers and detailed analysis of the synthetic protein threat and the knowledge that place of origin acts as a shortcut to consumer understanding and trust in our products.

All of this provides a strategy for action alongside the release of the origin brand story. . . 

Whare’s new lease on life – Toni Williams:

A  little red corrugated-iron whare will roll smoothly behind a vintage tractor in the Greg Donaldson Contracting Ashburton Wheels Week Plus street parade this month.

The whare  will be taking its place among members of the Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club in the parade on the final day of the Wheels Week Plus  programme.

  The club has about 100 members, so expect to see a few vintage machines. The whare, which sits on a truck chassis, plays a big role in the life of Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club president John Hall. It holds warm memories and its walls are lined with memorabilia — newspaper clippings, places and events Mr Hall has visited. . . 

 


Govt sowing seeds for another ag-sag?

07/05/2018

Let’s start with something we can agree on: we all want clean waterways.

Where opinion diverges is on how that is to be achieved.

The government thinks part of the solution is in reducing cow numbers:

Environment Minister David Parker told TVNZ 1’s Q+A programme that in some parts of New Zealand cow numbers may have to be cut.

‘Well, cow numbers have already peaked and are going down, but yes, in some areas, the number of cows per hectare is higher than the environment can sustain. That won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue.’

It’s not just a cow issue and it’s not just nitrogen and phosphorus as this chart from the Agricultural Research Centre shows:

As I have said many times before, the major contributor to problems in the Kakanui River isn’t farming it’s  seagulls.

Back to Q&A, just like with the government’s decision to end oil and gas exploration, it has no idea about the economic impact of reducing cow numbers:

CORIN This is a massive signal. This is like your oil and gas. This is you saying to the farming sector, ‘You cannot continue with some of your practices in dairying, and we will force you to have less cows.’ What work have you done to look at what the economic impact of that would be? Because we know if there’s a drought, for example, and milk production goes down a couple of percent, it takes off a percent off GDP.

DAVID Mm. Well, I think the Landcorp example is illustrative that it’s not the end of the world for dairying.

The Landcorp example is not a good one because the company’s return on capital is abysmal and it’s propensity for making losses couldn’t be sustained by private businesses.

CORIN Have you done the work that shows what the economic impact for some, particularly dairying regions, would be?

DAVID We haven’t done an analysis of what the economic effects would be. But it’s very, very difficult to model, because second-best from the farmer perspective may still be very close to the same outcome profit-wise. Can I go back to what I was saying that I think one of the answers to this in south Canterbury, for example, lies in land use change towards more cropping, more horticulture, which are high-value land uses. . . 

It’s not just difficult to model, it’s ignoring the reality that land, climate and soils that suit dairying don’t necessarily suit horticulture.

Jacqueline Rowarth pointed out nearly two years ago, a reduction in cow numbers would have unexpected consequences:

Replacing dairy with horticulture might have some economic merit, but land suitability has to be considered, as does the supporting infrastructure and inputs.

The point about any land-based activity is that it suits the topography and climate, which interact with the parent material to create the soil. Farmers and growers understand the nature of the interaction, and then manage the deficiencies – fertilisers, irrigation, shelters, for instance.

They also consider the infrastructure, processors and markets. Land that can be used economically and environmentally sustainably for horticulture has mostly been converted already.

There are also detrimental environmental impacts to be considered. Research on the Canterbury Plains reported in the media last year indicated that dairy conversions involving fertiliser and irrigation, actually increased organic matter.

The reverse is also true. And when organic matter breaks down, nitrogen is released as is carbon dioxide.

Massey University’s professor Tony Parsons has examined the land-use challenge with funding from the New Zealand Agricultural Research Centre (NZAGRC). He has calculated that at a given N input, dairy produces two to three times as much food, similar or less methane and less than half the amount of nitrogen loss.

He has also shown the use of supplements improves efficiencies. Combined with strategic use of shelters and feed pads, nitrogen losses can be reduced. . . 

A lot of work has been, and continues to be, done into improved practices which reduce dairying’s environmental impact

Keith Woodford says that we need a rational debate about water:

In recent years, the debates about water rights and water pollution in New Zealand have become increasingly torrid. Most New Zealanders have fixed views on the topic and are confident their views are correct. Human nature then leads to so-called facts being organised to buttress those fixed views.

There is a term for this phenomenon called ‘noble cause corruption’.    The problem is that ‘we’ have the ‘noble cause’ and ‘they’ have the ‘corruption’. And so, within this framework, the water debate has been characterised by huge superficiality, rhetoric and shouting. The opportunities for shared learning and accommodation have been minimal. . . 

Radical environmentalists and anti-farming groups have done a very good job with the superficiality, rhetoric and shoutingWhat we need now is science and the recognition that problems decades in the making will take time to solve and that improving water quality isn’t as simple as reducing cow numbers.

Currently, there is great confusion between issues of water quantity and water quality.  Dirty dairying has become the catch phrase.  At a public level, distinguishing between nitrogen leaching, phosphorus runoff, bacterial loadings and sediment does not occur.  There is also very poor understanding as to the constraints to cash crop and horticulture production in the absence of irrigation.

The rural community also has to accept that change is necessary. . . 

The rural community, and farmers in particular have generally not only accepted that change is necessary but have poured money into making changes which enhance and protect waterways.

They are aware, as the government and many others don’t appear to be, that water quality isn’t just about the environment, it also has a direct impact on the economy.

It is remarkable how huge swathes of the big-city populations have lost sight of the dependence New Zealand has on its natural resource-based industries. They do not appreciate that destruction of agriculture is incompatible with poverty elimination. . . .

Dairying has revived communities that were dying, creating jobs on farms and in businesses which service and supply them. Schools which were in danger of closing have had their rolls boosted, sports clubs which were in decline have been revived.

It has also provided a huge boost to the national economy, as the biggest or second biggest export earner and a major contributor to the annual tax-take.

The regional slush fund will be no compensation for the destruction of businesses and the people who depend on them. The fund itself will be in danger if the tax take and export income are severely reduced by attacks on farms and farmers.

The Lange-Douglas policies created the ag-sag of the 80s.

Few would argue with the necessity for change and what that government did but this government ought to have learned from the damage done by how they did it.

Farmers aren’t arguing against the need for clean water.

We’re just very worried that the government is sowing the seeds for another ag-sag.

They, and too many other people, don’t understand the economic and social cost of forcing fast changes, especially where they’re not backed by science.


%d bloggers like this: