Rural round-up

12/05/2021

Forestry conversions election promise misses its deadline – Sally Murphy:

The government has failed to meet a deadline it set itself to give local councils more control when dealing with forestry conversions.

Last year the Labour Party made a pre-election promise that it would give local councils the power to determine what classes of land could be used for forestry in the first six months of its term.

This was in response to concerns from some rural communities that too much productive land was being lost to forestry.

Last week a public meeting was held in North Otago, where the community is outraged at plans that will see a large sheep and beef farm at the head of the Kakanui River converted into a permanent carbon forest. . . 

Hawke’s Bay grower’s $600k managed isolation bill: ‘It’s a complete train wreck‘ – Sahiban Hyde :

One Hawke’s Bay fruitgrower has revealed the eye-watering cost of bringing seasonal workers into New Zealand via managed isolation, describing the situation as a “complete train wreck”.

The Government’s allocation of more spaces in managed isolation for seasonal workers has had a lukewarm reception in the region.

Monday’s announcement included space for a further 2400 workers under the RSE scheme, arriving mostly from Pacific island countries, by March.

It also included the allocation of 500 spaces a fortnight in managed isolation over the next 10 months to specific groups based on demand – mostly for skilled and critical workers. . .

Tahr control operations more collaborative but tahr plan still  but needs updating :

The Tahr Foundation is pleased that the 2021-2022 tahr control operational plan released indicates the Department of Conservation has utilised the knowledge and expertise of the hunting sector. The Tahr Foundation and other hunting organisations are trying to assist DOC target control work where it is needed most.

“Hunters are in the hills very regularly and often for extended periods,” says NZ Tahr Foundation Spokesperson Willie Duley.

“Following consecutive years of heavy culling, there are now huge variations in tahr population densities, even within the same management units. We have been able to provide DOC with information and maps that set out where tahr numbers are low and no culling is required and also where we think tahr numbers still need reducing.”

“Coupled with information from population surveys and control operations this provides a more current and comprehensive knowledge base so more informed decisions can be made each year. It simply comes down to killing the right tahr in the right place and we look forward to seeing our input included when the control operations commence” . .

New Zealand wine industry welcomes government’s decision to recommence the movement of RSE workers from the Pacific:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the Government announcement today to recommence the movement of RSE workers from the Pacific to New Zealand.

“The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry secure access to the supply of off-shore labour that we need, to ensure that we can continue to make premium quality wine. At least some of these workers will arrive in time for winter pruning, a skilled role at which they excel. This decision will benefit workers, their families and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The projected labour shortage has been a real concern for some regions, especially Marlborough and Central Otago, and we need this additional labour supply to meet our seasonal peak demands.” . . 

Public invited to join hemp revolution:

The countdown is on for the organisers of the iHemp Summit and Expo as they prepare to put the industry on display for the general public for the first time in Rotorua this May.

The Summit, which will see industry members come together for a two day conference, is followed by a free public expo of hemp food, fibre and health products.

Billed as one of the most sustainable plants in the world, Summit organiser Richard Barge says that the uses for hemp are virtually unlimited. . . 

New 100 percent merino range available for year-round wear:

The new pure merino range at Ecowool is a brilliant blend of comfort, style, and warmth.

Ecowool is pleased to announce they are now stocking a 100% pure merino wool range, available now at ecowool.com. It joins new possum merino products for the current season.

According to Ecowool spokesperson Karen Collyer, the new range consists of wardrobe staples that are perfect for all year round, such as polo necks, crew necks, jackets, and cardigans.

“We feel investing in quality basics is key to pulling your wardrobe together,” she says. . . 


Rural round-up

09/03/2021

IrrigationNZ seeks protection for small rural drinking water users :

IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning says that the Government’s Water Services Bill will collectively cost rural drinking water users upwards of $16 million.

IrrigationNZ has submitted feedback on the Water Services Bill this week to seek protection of small drinking water users in rural areas.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the intent of the three waters reform, and absolutely want to ensure rural communities have access to clean drinking water and not have another Hastings issue happen again, but there are a number of small individual farm owners and water users, which are being unintentionally captured by the Bill” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

She says the submission explains, through case studies, how an alternative pathway can be sought for farmers and water users that still delivers on the intent of the Government’s bill.” . . .

Tourist spot water stoush – farmers cop unfair blame at Bridal Veil Falls – Lawrence Gullery:

Farmers are being blamed for contaminating a popular Waikato waterfall even though a test suggests the water is safe to swim in.

Signs at Wairēinga Bridal Veil Falls blame farmland run-off for “cloudy” water at the falls, despite a Whaingaroa Harbour Care project that appears to have dramatically improved water quality in the last decade.

But, as thousands of tourists troop past the sign at the popular summer spot, the Department of Conservation said the signs would remain until its own review and water quality tests were completed.

Federated Farmers said the department needs to “get off its high horse” and acknowledge it’s taken too long to review the water quality issues at the falls . . 

Lifting leadership skills of co-op leaders – Sudesh Kissun:

Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) has expanded its governance training offering this year.

It says this is in response to the need for ensuring New Zealand’s cooperative shareholder governors (who often sit across multiple boards) have the right skill sets to be effective.

There are two courses specifically tailored to the co-operative model for aspiring / future directors:

A one-day introduction programme hosted by Westlake Governance. .

Better butter set to boom – Tom Bailey:

Beset by food fads and bad science, butter’s reputation is enjoying a sustained resurgence. Southern Pasture’s new senior vice president and general manager of post farmgate operations Tom Bailey explains why boutique butter is set to boom.

There’s no doubt butter is back. Since 2014, global demand for butter has increased at around 7% per annum.

Prices have hit multiple new highs and dairy farmers in key markets are turning to Jersey cows for their higher fat milk. It marks the reversal of a trend long driven by poor health advice and cheap convenience.

Butter’s boom to bust to boom. . . 

Q&A: Sandra Matthews on attending B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcase :

We talk to Sandra Matthews, a sheep and beef farmer from Gisborne about her takeaways from attending previous B+LNZ Annual Meetings ahead of the 2021 Annual Meeting & Showcase in Invercargill on 21 March.

Sandra, who sits on Beef + lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Eastern North Island Farmer Council, has attended B+LNZ’s Annual Meetings & Showcases since 2018 in the Gisborne region and then virtually ever since.

Sandra, why do you think it’s important to attend B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcases?

“It’s a great way to be kept up to date on what B+LNZ’s doing and what they’re working on in the future. . . 

Grass-fed Welsh lamb packed with protein:

Initial findings from recent analysis of PGI Welsh Lamb has revealed that meat from lambs reared on grass contain higher levels of protein-based amino acids and other nutritional benefits.

As part of the second year of testing on a major research project looking at the eating quality of Welsh Lamb, the most recent scientific analysis highlighted the presence of high amounts of amino acids which make up proteins, beneficial fats and minerals.

The Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project looks at factors that affect variation in meat quality, as part of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) five-year, three-project, Red Meat Development Programme that seeks to help Welsh farming prepare for an increasingly competitive global marketplace. . . 


Rural round-up

21/01/2021

Covenanters queue up for Trust action – Hugh Stringleman:

The QE11 National Trust is getting close to 5000 approved and registered covenants over nearly 200,000 hectares at the beginning of its fifth decade in existence.

The trust also has a new chair, former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, and three new directors appointed by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage towards the end of an eventful year.

The 2020 annual report to June 30 disclosed a total of 4761 registered and formalised covenants, up 110 during the financial year, with a further 342 underway. . . 

Jerseys fit the environmental bill :

Jersey cows have featured prominently over the years among the four generations on John Totty’s 465ha property at Staveley.

The Jersey stud on farm was founded by Mr Totty’s grandfather — a passionate Jersey breeder — in the early 1960s. Back then the farm milked 150 cows and ran dairy replacements, sheep, beef and crop.

When Mr Totty’s parents took over the business the farm was expanded. They bought a neighbouring property in 1995 which was converted the following year.

A Friesian herd was bought and for 20 years the property supported a 750-cow herd while continuing to run young stock. . . 

Japan warns it will block NZ honey shipments if glyphosate limits breached – Charlie Dreaver:

Japan is warning it will stop importing New Zealand honey if it continues to find the weed killer glyphosate during border testing.

New Zealand’s global honey exports totalled $490 million last year, with almost $68m of that sent to Japan.

Japan is now testing all honey from New Zealand at the border, after it detected glyphosate for the second time through random testing.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has told the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that if 5 percent of imported honey exceeds its glyphosate limit, it will stop the honey coming into Japan. . . 

Gulls take to new life on the farm – Toni Williams:

Thousands of endangered black-billed gulls that usually nest at Ashburton’s State Highway One bridge have found a new home on a dairy farm at Lauriston — or at least some of them have.

The land-locked site is nowhere near the Ashburton River, their former home, and its risky riverbed, where flooding, human or canine activity disrupts nests.

Rather the birds are happily tucked in between an effluent pond and the dairy shed.

Sharemilkers Ali van Polanen and Andrew Black said the birds were first noticed on November 14. . . 

Fewer possums on Mt Pironga following 1080 drop – Doc :

A successful 1080 operation has led to fewer possums on Mount Pironga near Te Awamutu, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says.

DOC dropped 1080 over 14,000 hectares of land in September.

The work was part of long-term conservation efforts at the site, an important home to forest birds, insects, lizards and plants. . . 

Early positive start to onion season:

The 2021 New Zealand export onion season is off to an early and positive start.

‘Amongst all the turmoil created by Covid and the weather, it’s great to be able to report that exports of New Zealand onions to Indonesia are underway, two months earlier than last year,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘This is thanks to New Zealand government trade officials’ efforts to keep trade open and a decision by Indonesian officials to release quota early.

’78 tonnes of onions harvested earlier in January left for Indonesia last week. While this is small, it signals the season is underway early, and prices reflect the additional costs of growing and exporting during a pandemic.’ . . 

Autogrow announces spin-out of AI farming company WayBeyond to accelerate growth:

Autogrow has unveiled a corporate reorganization as part of a long-term business strategy which will see the organization split into two separate entities with the launch of digital farming company WayBeyond.

WayBeyond Limited (WayBeyond) led by CEO and Founder Darryn Keiller, will focus on the global expansion of digital farm solutions for large scale, multi-site farms to optimize farming productivity. Autogrow, now under the management of Acting General Manager Rod Britton, will focus on continuing the global growth of the automation and control business for small to medium growers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and one I’m proud to have brought to fruition – the growth of an existing business in Autogrow and the creation of a new and transformational one in WayBeyond. A journey like this is a team sport, with a highly talented team, committed investors, and government and industry collaborators; the dream has become a reality,” explains Mr. Keiller. . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life as a solo farmer –  Ross Nolly:

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

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

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

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

Taking stock of farming – Laura Smith:

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

The science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promising new test for Johne’s :

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

25/10/2020

Precision tech helps farmer get it right :

Mid-Canterbury arable and dairy farmer Craige Mackenzie’s philosophy is right input, right quantity, right place, right time — which makes sense for his business and for the land, waterways and climate.

Conditions often aren’t in his favour, but precision technology is helping to even the odds.

Getting to grips with highly variable weather and soil quality is a constant challenge on Craige Mackenzie’s cropping and dairy farm, near Methven, in Mid-Canterbury.

However, precision technology is proving a powerful ally.  . . 

Federated Farmers query references to indigenous fish in plan change – Matthew Littlewood:

Federated Farmers has asked that a wide-ranging plan change setting water use rules for South Canterbury remove all references to the protection of “indigenous fish”.

Environment Canterbury’s Proposed Plan Change 7 (PC7), which sets the limits for water quality, with particular focus on the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (Otop) catchment, is now going through the hearings process.

The proposed plan has received 560 submissions.

At the hearings held at the Grosvenor Hotel in Timaru, on Tuesday, the farming lobby group addressed many of the proposed rules and regulations of PC7, with speakers to the submission including Federated Farmers’ South Canterbury president Jason Grant, past provincial president Ivon Hurst, farmer Peter Bonifacio and senior policy advisor Dr Lionel Hume. . . 

Sustainable approach helps boost productivity :

An East Coast farm is enjoying a dramatic increase in productivity, despite retiring 10% of the land – proving that farming sustainably doesn’t have to come at an economic cost.

Since 2015 when they started managing Puketitiri sheep and beef farm Taramoa – located midway between Taupo and Hastings – Dan and Billie Herries have continued the previous managers’ devotion to enhancing its biodiversity. 

Their hard work was recognised with a suite of awards in the 2020 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

More than 20,000 native plants have been planted, all waterways have been fenced and a comprehensive predator trapping network now covers the whole property. . . 

‘Phenomenal’ restoration of Milford Track for summer hiking – Tess Brunton:

Crews in remote Fiordland have been working hard to restore the Milford Track against a looming deadline.

The Great Walk was badly damaged when a metre of rain fell in less than three days in early February, causing widespread flooding, landslips and stranding hundreds of people.

In May, $13.7 million was earmarked to help the Department of Conservation (DOC) repair flood damaged tracks and other infrastructure.

DOC has set its sights on reopening the Milford Track this summer with all places booked out within an hour of bookings opening. . . 

Waikato Milking Systems enters domestic and international small ruminants industry:

A leading developer and manufacturer of dairy technology is moving to help New Zealand farmers switch over to the emerging dairy sheep and dairy goat industries.

Waikato Milking Systems recently commissioned three small ruminant milking parlours in the central North Island to farmers who are among the first independent commercial suppliers of goat and sheep milk in the country.

It included a 40-bail inline rapid exit sheep milking plant for Green Park Sheep near Te Awamutu, a 40-bail inline rapid exit for Schuler Brothers at Te Aroha and an internal 70-bail sheep rotary plant installed for Browne Pastoral near Cambridge. . . 

Plant pathologist Pamela Ronald Named GCHERA World Agriculture Prize Laureate award Recognizes exceptional lifetime achievement in agriculture – Amy Quinton:

Pamela Ronald, distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis, and with the UC Davis Genome Center, has been named a 2020 World Agriculture Prize laureate by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences, or GCHERA. She becomes the first woman whose work is recognized by the award.

“This award is a really special honor and I’m very grateful,” said Ronald. “I’m happy to be part of a global community of agricultural scientists that has been able to make a huge difference in the lives of farmers.”

The award ceremony will be virtually held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 from Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu Province, China. GCHERA also jointly named Professor Zhang Fusuo of China Agricultural University a laureate this year. . . 


Rural round-up

19/10/2020

Rural stakeholders meet over Mackenzie fires – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers and the Forest and Rural Fire Stakeholders Forum are calling for urgent action following two major fires in South Canterbury’s Mackenzie district.

The embers had barely cooled on the most recent, the Ohau fire, before the debate turned to causes and Feds and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage crossed swords on what degree fire fuel loads on Department of Conservation (DOC) land were a factor.

“We definitely need some answers sooner rather than later,” Feds high country chair Rob Stokes said.

At a rural stakeholders meeting, including farming and DOC representatives, Stokes said it was a matter of absolute urgency to start planning now before the next fire. . . 

Ag Uni staff facing job cuts – Colin Williscroft:

Staff cuts at Lincoln University and Massey University’s College of Sciences have raised concerns about the impact they could have on future teaching and research of agricultural and horticultural science.

Earlier this month, Massey science staff received a discussion document that says the college’s expenses urgently need to be cut, with most of its curriculum affected by unsustainably low enrolments as a result of New Zealand’s border closure to overseas students.

The document set out two options to address the situation, with both requiring changes to the curriculum, along with a reduction in staff numbers of around a third – which equates to about 100 jobs. . . .

Shareholders Council review – final report out– Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman James Barron says the council supports the recommendations of a review into its role and functions.

A steering group delivered its final report to the council today.

Barron says the council is committed to actioning the recommendations.

He says councillors will be meeting farmers in their respective wards next month “to get a greater understanding of their views and expectations”. . . 

Don’t fence me in :

Three New Zealand farms are now using electronic cow collars that use sound and vibration to guide and contain individual cows without the need for fences.

The collars are designed by the Kiwi agri-tech company Halter. 

Basil the Friesian cow munches calmly in the paddock.

As she moves there’s a quiet beep emanating from a collar around her neck. . .

Gisborne sheep shorn after five years producing record-breaking fleece :

A Gisborne sheep that evaded capture for five years has finally been shorn, producing a record-breaking fleece.

Gizzy Shrek was shorn at the Poverty Bay A & P show this morning, producing a 13kg fleece, said its owner Rob Faulkner.

“It’s a hell of a lot of wool to carry around.”

It broke the record for the world’s longest fleece, measuring in at 58 centimetres. . .

Women’s work in agriculture set to take leading role – Andrew Marshall:

Women working in agriculture are increasingly likely to be better educated than their male peers and are on course to make up about half of the industry’s managers in 10 years.

More women than men are now studying and graduating from tertiary degrees in agriculture and environment-related courses according to research by the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

The analysis, which covers the entire agribusiness service and production sector, noted a 23 per cent jump in the number of women who completed post school education qualifications in ag-related subjects between 2011 and 2016. . . 


Feds fired up over fires

07/10/2020

Federated Farmers wants to baa DOC from the high country because sheep do a better job:

The fire risk on Department of Conservation-managed land is being mismanaged and neglected, and needs urgent review, Federated Farmers says.

More than 1600 hectares have been destroyed by the fire at Lake Ohau that also ripped through the small alpine village on Sunday morning. Five weeks ago, around 3000 hectares of trees and scrub were turned to ash.

“It’s not even fire season and we have lost almost 50 homes and over 5000 ha because of fire,” Federated Farmers High Country Chair Rob Stokes says.

“In August we had the Pukaki Downs fires, also burning through DOC land, and now just weeks later another fire, again burning through DOC land. Both these fires were entirely avoidable.

“Lake Ohau residents who have tragically lost their homes must today have serious questions around what fuelled the fire.”

Federated Farmers has held grave fears for many years that locking up high country land without the proper care is dangerous.

In future Feds believes the risk will become even greater as the government’s new freshwater policies and the livestock destocking that will come through unreasonable fencing requirements will kick in. These policies will result in the growth of more combustible vegetation.

“This fire is another red flag; how many do we need?” Rob asks.

The 2012 Report of the Independent Fire Review said vegetation fires were arguably New Zealand’s most significant fire risk.

Destocking hill and high-country farms for conservation purposes has not been thoroughly thought through, Rob says.

“There is simply no science to support destocking. Now people have lost their homes because of mismanagement by DOC.”

Passive grazing of these areas in the past has significantly reduced the fire risk by controlling wilding pines and grasses, which left ungrazed become fuel. It also enabled the landowners and leaseholders to manage other pests while preserving open landscapes.

Feds also wants to forget the cheap shots and get serious about fire risk vegetation:

The destruction at Lake Ohau should light a fire under DOC for early negotiations with farmers on a partnership approach to deal with uncontrolled vegetation on conservation land, Federated Farmers says.

“For Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage to suggest yesterday that Federated Farmers was opportunistic in the wake of the Ohau blaze and just looking for free grazing was a cheap shot,” Feds High Country Chairperson Rob Stokes says.

Her comment that farmers are looking for cheap grazing was a very cheap shot and an uniformed one.

“We have been warning about fire fuel loads on DOC land in the South Island for years.  We have only been opportunistic in the sense that the near-miss to human lives, not to mention the stock loss and serious property damage from Sunday’s fire, was a chance to finally get some traction with the department and the government on this issue.

“Farmers aren’t looking for ‘free’ anything.  They operate commercial businesses and they’re looking for a partnership, with contracts, to try and reduce a serious risk to safety, private property and the environment,” Rob says.

Federated Farmers recognises there are some areas of the DOC estate where it’s totally inappropriate to have livestock.  But in less sensitive areas, low numbers of sheep or cattle can keep combustible grass, scrub and immature wilding pine levels down.

“Australia, the UK and the USA have learned this lesson but in New Zealand we seem to be going 180 degrees in the other direction.  In fire risk areas of those other nations, authorities are inviting farmers to graze livestock on public land – in fact, in some places are paying them to do so.”

On her return from the Climate Smart Agriculture event in Bali last year, former Feds President Katie Milne pointed out that Spain had rejected pressure for reductions in livestock numbers after it was pointed out that with fewer livestock chewing down grass and bush in forested areas, the losses and costs of forest fires already equivalent to around 3% of Spain’s GDP would accelerate.

For farmers, grazing adjacent DOC land can be more of a headache than a gain.  Because the areas are not fenced, mustering is time-consuming and the land is often such that the animals don’t put on much weight.

“Any grazing arrangement might only be for three months a year.  What is the farmer supposed to do with the animals for the other nine months?  That’s why it’s sensible to have long-term arrangements with land-owners immediately adjacent to DOC land, so there’s no costs trucking animals in and so on,” Rob says.

“Federated Farmers welcomes an opportunity to sit down with DOC for a sensible discussion on the practicalities of fire fuel loads on the public estate.” 

At least some of the people who are screaming loudest about the dangers of climate change are the ones who oppose mitigation – irrigation, and farming practices such as light grazing which have protected the high country for generations.


DoC policy fueling fires?

06/10/2020

Is DOC policy fueling fires?

Farmers say wilding vegetation on DOC land helped fuel the Lake Ōhau fire but the conservation minister has hit back saying nature does not start fires.

The Ōhau fire destroyed at least 20 homes and forced around 90 people to evacuate.

Federated Farmers High Country Committee chairman Rob Stokes said he had been warning the government about this danger for 12 years.

He said DOC closing up land for national parks meant that the ground was not grazed by sheep and cattle and therefore tussocks and grass were left to grow wild.

“I’ve been in the high country committee for 12 years and we’ve bought it up with DOC every year – the fuel that has been built up over the years is going to be an ongoing issue.

“It’s early in the season to be hit but it won’t be the last fire that’s for sure,” Stokes said.

He said it was good the government was investing a lot into wilding pine and weed control but more needs to be done.

“The scrub builds up over a year – when the country used to be clean we had buffer zones, but the conservation land is a bomb waiting to go off.”

Andrew Simpson farms merino sheep and cattle at Balmoral Station near Lake Tekapo.

He has notified Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage often about this problem.

“I’ve told her they may need to rethink how they manage some of this conservation land it is a fuel load and a disaster waiting to happen.

“She didn’t dismiss grazing it again but I’ve said that she might have to do some strategic fuel loading burns to get rid some of the problem areas like they do in Australia.

“It creates fire breaks and alleviates the risk of so much land being burnt,” Simpson said. . . 

Mackenzie District mayor Graham Smith also blames DOC mismanagement of conservation land:

Five weeks ago, a fire near Lake Pukaki, near Twizel, burned through more than 3500ha of land – much of it wilding pines – on August 30.

Mr Smith has joined a growing chorus of voices calling for better management of Doc land to prevent such blazes from burning out of control in future. . . 

“It is a huge risk to neighbouring properties to have areas of land with that much vegetation and fuel for fires. I would like to see better management practises.”

Ms Sage today visited Lake Ohau village and said she remained focused on the losses people faced in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

However, she said there would be a need for a conversation about ‘‘land management in the bigger picture’’ in future.

The current Government had put $100 million over four years into controlling wilding conifers, Ms Sage said, and on conservation land these had been substantially reduced.

‘‘Federated Farmers, I think, was making a push for free grazing,” she said. “Nature doesn’t start fires except by occasional lightning strikes, it’s managing human activity that is the key.”

No-one said anything about free. If light grazing was permitted it could help fund conservation.

North Otago Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson, a farm owner between Omarama and Twizel, said he had been woken by news of the Lake Ohau fire after 3am yesterday. . . 

Mr Williamson said the retired land the fire was spreading through was a “huge risk” that had not been addressed.

“All this ground that’s been locked up and hasn’t been grazed is becoming a hazard to life. The fuel loading in the land is just huge.”

Mr Williamson said having two fires in the past month highlighted the dangers of retired land and wilding pines.

“People are saying they want to lock everything up and create a safe habitat, but you’re not locking it up when it’s not being grazed or managed … you get one spark and it spreads and burns everything in sight.”

Mr Williamson said he heard of three or four farms that had lost livestock or had to move it.

“It’s really disappointing. We’ve been warning of this for a long time … once upon a time it was all grazing land.

“There’s a mindset that grazing is bad and it kills wildlife, but the reality is these massive blazes are going to happen more and more and spread further and further.”

The government has put millions into wilding pine control but that is a different issue from the fuel load that builds up when grass and scrub aren’t grazed.

The tenure review process has put many thousands of hectares under DOC control and not all has been a conservation success.

Farmers used to carry out weed and pest control but DOC hasn’t been funded to do as much of that as is needed.

And contrary to the views of those dark green advocates, removing stock doesn’t mean the land returns to the pristine condition in which they think it existed in a utopian past.

The hills around the summit of the Lindis Pass used to be covered in tussock. Without the stock grazing and application of fertiliser that happened when the area was farmed, hieracium is colonising the hillsides and the tussock is disappearing.

That isn’t nearly as scenic as the tussock was but it’s the danger of the growing fuel load that worries neighbouring land owners most.

Lightening strikes excepted, nature doesn’t start fires. But left to its own devices nature does add to the fuel load that increases the risk of fire spreading regardless of how it starts.


Rural round-up

09/09/2020

Fonterra maintains forecast despite latest GDT fall – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra has maintained its forecast range of $5.90-6.90/kg milksolids for the current season, keeping its advance rate at the midpoint of $6.40/kg MS.

It released its updated forecast on the eve of the latest Global DairyTrade (GDT) auction, which saw average prices fall 1% to US$2955/tonne.

Fonterra chair John Monaghan said the global market was finely balanced with both demand and supply increasing but it has the potential to change.

“There is good demand in the market at this stage of the season, however, the forecast economic slowdown is likely to increase global unemployment and reduce consumer demand,” he said.  . . 

Hunters slam DOC’s tahr plan – Neal Wallace:

If the Department of Conservation (DOC) was hoping to diffuse the tahr culling debate by releasing a new control plan, it has failed.

DOC operations director Dr Ben Reddiex has released an updated Tahr Control Operational Plan for the coming year, which will focus control on public conservation land.

“With an open mind we have considered a wide range of submissions from groups and individuals representing the interests of recreational and commercial tahr hunters, as well as conservationists, recreationists and statutory bodies,” he said in a statement.

Acknowledging the new plan will not satisfy everyone, he says it will enable the recreational and commercial hunting of trophy bulls and other tahr, while still moving DOC towards meeting the statutory goals of the 1993 Himalayan Thar Control Plan. . . 

 

Rural Waikato thrives on community spirit :

In this part of the country, more than 200,000 cows are milked, fed and cared for each day by Kiwis, as well as by a growing group of skilled migrants.

Experienced farm hands are in high demand and, as Waikato farmers increasingly realise and appreciate, some of the best workers come from the Philippines.

Johnrey Emperado, second-in-charge at a 270-hectare farm near Tirau, is one of them.

Johnrey and his wife Iris moved to New Zealand in 2009. With their two children, daughter Skye (4) and baby Brian, who was born in January, they live on Moondance Farms, where Johnrey works. . . 

New AgResearch boss keen to make NZ ag great again – Nigel Malthus:

AgResearch’s new chief executive is promising solid evidence-based science to make New Zealand’s agriculture sector the best in the world.

Nigel Malthus reports.

Dr Sue Bidrose recently took up the role at AgResearch’s Lincoln head office after a varied career, including policy work for the Ministry of Social Development and 15 years in local government, the last seven as chief executive of the Dunedin City Council.

“We are here to do really good science, to give our agricultural community the best ammunition they’ve got to be the best in the world,” Bidrose told Rural News. . .

From Boeing to baling :

A number of out-of-work airline pilots are considering roles as large machinery operators and tractor drivers.

Former pilot Andy Pender says he won’t be surprised if they find they’re happy working in the country and don’t go back to flying.

Pender is a former captain for Virgin Australia (New Zealand) and now the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) medical and welfare director.

He says the association has been working for several months with the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Rural Contractors’ Association to match pilots with rural jobs. . . 

UK food exporters’ confidence plummets to record low :

Business confidence among food manufacturers and exporters reached a record low this year due to Covid-19 uncertainty, a new report says.

Data by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) shows that food firms’ confidence plummeted -65.2% in the second quarter of 2020.

The industry has faced a ‘variety of challenges’, from the closure of the hospitality and out-of-home sectors, to rising costs and a fall in exports. . . 


Rural round-up

08/09/2020

Much of the plan is not common sense’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson estimates it will cost him about $1.6 million to comply with the new freshwater rules for fencing off waterways on his Central Otago hill country property.

He will also have to take about 47ha out of use to follow the 5m buffer rule.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 sets out new objectives and policies for farming including waterways, nutrient losses and winter grazing and the rules come into effect tomorrow.

He agrees with Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young that some of the rules are unworkable and supports Mr Young’s recent call for a boycott of the new rules. . . 

Revelations in the cow shed – Peter Burke:

Mental health and connectivity are two of the main issues affecting dairy farmers in this country according to a survey by DairyNZ.

The so called ‘cow shed’ survey shows that 62% of farmers say that they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says he was “quite surprised” at how high this number was.

“I think the stresses that came out in the survey were drought, with two thirds of those surveyed saying they had been affected by drought in the last little while,” he told Dairy News.

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Doc’s revised 2020/21 tahr management plan is ideology hidden in a glossy brochure:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association believes the Department of Conservation’s revised tahr control operational plan released yesterday shows that culling the Himalayan tahr herd as now planned is based on ideology, political interference, a lack of quality data and science, and made to appease the extreme views of Forest & Bird who continue to maintain their threat of bad faith court action.

Deerstalkers Association Chief Executive Gwyn Thurlow says the decision defies good sense and logic and is another example of a string of poor decisions made by this Government.

Gwyn Thurlow says “After reviewing the latest iteration of the plan, we can see no substantive change to the Department’s approach from before the High Court win by the Tahr Foundation because the bottom line is the number of operational hours has not reduced. This means our tahr herd will be decimated, as feared. . . 

$4.7 million in funding for SVSS from MPI:

A project to boost vegetable growers’ efforts to care for the health of the environment while supplying fresh, healthy food, has received $4.7 million in government backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The funding adds to the $2.8 million already invested by industry into Sustainable Vegetable Systems, a four-year project, focused on improving crop nutrient management for the growing of potatoes, onions, brassicas, butternut squash, carrots, and leafy greens.
MPI is investing in the project from the Productive and Sustainable Land Usepackage, which promotes farming and growing practices that deliver more value and improved environmental outcomes. . . 

Campaign to boost British venison amid fall in demend :

An innovative working group has been created across England and Wales to reignite the venison market following a drop in demand due to Covid-19.

The group will focus on strengthening existing markets and opening new channels to counter competition provided by imports and slashed demand.

The Wild Venison Working Group is chaired by the Forestry Commission and has representation from stakeholders in woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping, and venison supply sectors.

In the absence of natural predators, the deer population in the United Kingdom is at its highest level for the last 1,000 years. . . 


New Zealand’s Tahr – They Are Us

13/07/2020

Why is the Tahr Foundation fighting to keep them in New Zealand?

The Tahr Foundation has released a short video that shows just what Himalayan tahr mean to Kiwis and why so many people are fighting so hard to maintain them in New Zealand.

The video is a powerful reminder of the extent that tahr are now woven into the fabric of everyday New Zealand life.

New Zealand’s Tahr – They Are Us is available at https://youtu.be/SQyEwlgYSB4

“From people that work in the hunting industry and make a living from these animals to those from all other walks of life that just love spending time in the mountains amongst them, this video shows just how much tahr mean to so many Kiwis,” says Tahr Foundation Spokesperson Willie Duley.

“For the professional and recreational hunters, climbers, trampers, school teachers, sportsmen, helicopter operators and families that appear in this video, tahr not only enhance their experience in the mountains but in many cases are the reason for it.”

“We also want to see tahr properly managed and our alpine flora and fauna preserved because those of us who love the mountain environment and spend so much of our time there have the greatest stake in looking after it.”

“Despite our win in the High Court which confirmed DOC had not properly consulted with us, it is still extremely disappointing that they have been allowed to carry on in the interim with 125 hours of culling and the eradication of all tahr including bulls in Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.”

“This interim culling still has the potential to decimate the tahr resource and the livelihoods of thousands, which is exactly what we have been fighting against and will continue to do so until an agreement is reached” says Duley.

“We feel the Minister and DOC are riding rough-shod over those of us with an interest in tahr, and the people that appear in this video and the near 50,000 others that have signed our petition are asking that their voice be heard.”

“It’s time this almost annual conflict was ended, and we’re given the opportunity to sit down with all stakeholders and constructively work together.”

“The Tahr Foundation wants to work with DOC and the Game Animal Council to come up with an enduring management strategy that fits with the realities of modern New Zealand and will work for both recreation and conservation. This is neither impossible nor too much to ask.”


Rural round-up

12/07/2020

Farm owner rejects carbon bids to buy East Coast station – Tom Kitchin:

A Gisborne farmer is ecstatic that a large sheep and cattle station in Tolaga Bay – which has just changed hands for the first time in nearly half a century – will not be turned into forestry.

Earlier this week the Labour Party announced plans to introduce legislation limiting forestry conversions of the most productive land, if it wins re-election.

Annette Couper is saying goodbye to Mangaheia Station, a farm that’s been in her family since the 1970s.

She said selling up was tough, but none of her daughters were farmers. . .

Shortage of skilled operators – Yvonne O’Hara:

Invercargill agricultural contractor Daryl Thompson is more than “extremely worried” about finding enough skilled and experienced staff to operate his expensive equipment for the coming season.

“On a scale of one to 10, ranging from not worried to extremely worried, I am sitting at a 12.”

Mr Thompson, of DThompson Contracting, usually employs 50 to 60 people in Southland during the season, including trainees and retired farmers. . .

Tahr Foundation welcomes landmark High Court decision on DoC’s controversial extermination plan:

The Tahr Foundation is welcoming the High Court decision halting DOC’s controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps.

The Foundation asked the High Court for a judicial review of DOC’s plan to exterminate all Himalayan Tahr in national parks and sharply reduce tahr populations in other areas.

The application was heard in the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday and Justice Dobson has just released his decision this afternoon.

In the decision, Justice Dobson says that DOC is to reconsider its decision to proceed with the 2020-2021 plan after consulting with interests represented by the Foundation and other stakeholders. . . 

B+LNZ’s Economic Service celebrates 70th anniversary:

This month marks the 70th anniversary of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service, which was initially set up in 1950 to help a struggling post-war sheep sector.

The Service was established as a joint venture between the Meat Board and Wool Board after a 1947 Royal Commission study recommended establishing a Sheep Industry Board to collect and document factual information about farm production and economics.

This continues to be done today, as it was back in 1950, through the Economic Service’s Sheep and Beef Farm Survey.

As well as giving insight into the state and financial health of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, the information gathered through the Survey is used to inform local, regional and central government policy, underpin forecasts and trends in meat and wool production. It also enables farmers to benchmark their own businesses against others in their cohort. . . 

Property sales to finance wool :

Plans to sell and lease back its portfolio of properties are part of a range of ways Cavalier is financing its natural fibre strategy, chief executive Paul Alston says.

Alston said listing the firm’s three industrial sites in Auckland, Napier and Whanganui is about transforming the company into a high-end, premium flooring brand rather than strengthening the balance sheet.

“We are comfortable with current debt levels,” he said, referring to the sale and lease back plans and noted the firm can access more bank funding to cope with any covid-related impacts. . . 

£2m grant to help Scottish farmers create more woodland :

Over £2 million is being made available to Scottish landowners and farmers to help them play their part in creating more woodland.

The support is part of Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant, which will help farmers and foresters buy specialist woodland equipment.

This could range from poly tunnels, seed trays through to mounding equipment, work site welfare units and small scale sawmills for wood processing. . .


Rural round-up

04/07/2020

Farming key to NZ”s future – David Bennett:

National’s agriculture spokesman, David Bennett on how the sector is key to New Zealand’s economic rebuild.

It’s no secret that agriculture is key to New Zealand’s economic rebuild and is cementing itself as the most reliable contributor to our economy in a post-Covid world.

It’s the same old story – no matter what, people need to eat and we have a proud reputation as the producer of some of the best food in the world.

I am a farmer and I know the contribution our farmers and growers make to our communities. It’s great to see more people outside the farm gate realising what we’ve known all along about how important agriculture is to our country. However, we can’t rest on our laurels and must always be looking at ways to grow the industry for years to come. . . 

From farm life to aviation and back – Daniel BIrchfield:

Sven Thelning is just as comfortable on the farm as he is high in the clouds.

Farm manager at dairy farm Avon Glen at Enfield for about four years, the North Otago born father of three grew up on his parents’ sheep and beef farm at Herbert but gave up life on the farm to pursue his interest in aviation.

But, as he suspected might happen one day, the lure of farm work was too great to resist.

‘‘I had a bit of experience overseas when I left school, but after that I went into aviation for a bit before I got back into farming about 2014 and have been at the same place ever since.’’ . . 

Plant a Seed for Safety – Marina Shearer:

When Marina married her farmer some 25 years ago, she was unsure of how her corporate background would merge with farm life. Coming from a background in telecommunications to settle on a sheep and beef farm two hours north of the city seemed daunting, however within a few short years, she had a vision to build an online horticultural business – something she had little to no experience in. RhodoDirect was launched in 2000, and over a 20 year period both she and her husband Craig not only established a five acre show garden, but provided the leadership that saw the launch the Hurunui Garden Festival, an annual, springtime event that celebrates local gardens. In 2020, RhodoDirect was sold, allowing Marina to return to her original career in training and development. With a newly acquired Diploma of Professional Coaching, Marina has since launched a new business – Thrive13 – which focusses on the personal and professional development of young women. Now with 25 years’ experience in both corporate and rural sectors and with her own horticultural career behind her, Marina has a wide range of skills to offer her clients. 

When asked what concerned Marina about the health and safety of those in rural industries and communities, Marina spoke of the impact of depression on personal relationships within rural families. As a passionate facilitator of workshops for rural women, she said that members of rural families need invest energy into finding their voice and having the confidence and the courage to speak up not only for themselves, but for those around them.  . . 

Lack of consultation by government shows and public get behind tahr:

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association Inc (NZDA) are disappointed to receive a final Himalayan tahr control operational plan from the Department of Conservation (DOC) for the coming 2020/21 operational period that ignores any advice and input from NZDA as the voice of recreational hunters.

NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow says “I have received many calls and emails from hunters, not just our members, expressing their outrage and disbelief at the government’s decision to take a course of action that flies in the face of its overarching objective of listening, being compassionate, and caring about our people and communities.

“There is no doubt that New Zealand hunters, a minority group, are being brushed aside by government and treated with a complete lack of due process and consultation. . . 

Mass killing of tahr devastating for tourism industry:

Tourism industry operators are pleading for the government to halt DoC’s plan for a mass killing of Himalayan Tahr, saying the animals provide hundreds of jobs and a multi-million dollar benefit to the country.

Under a controversial 2020-21 plan which came into effect yesterday, DoC will significantly increase the number of tahr it kills, including exterminating all animals in national parks.

The Tahr Foundation has asked the High Court for an injunction to stop DoC going ahead with the mass slaughter. . . 

Air-borne weed detector helps map out weed control at Coonamble – Vernon Graham:

The Single family has developed a drone-based weed detection sensor to better manage herbicide resistance in their large-scale dryland cropping enterprise south east of Coonamble.

Developed over 10 years by family members headed by Ben Single, a mechanical engineer, along with the help of robotic experts, the air-borne weed sensor has been used commercially on their farm for the past 18 months.

It can map between 200 to 300 hectares an hour and is capable of picking up weeds the size of the top of a beer can. . . 


Rural round-up

03/07/2020

Rock bottom crossbred wool prices pose dilemma for farmers – Maja Burry:

Crossbred wool prices have plummeted to new record low levels in the wake of Covid-19, with some farmers receiving less than a dollar a kilogram for their wool.

Coarse wool makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s total wool clip, but prices have been low for years.

South Canterbury sheep farmer and former Federated Farmers meat and wool chair, Miles Anderson, said the problems facing the sector had been exacerbated further by the coronavirus.

Miles Anderson said at the moment returns to farmers didn’t even come close to covering the costs of shearing and in some cases, it wasn’t even worth sending the wool off farm. . . 

Environmental devastation at Tolaga Bay may take a century to recover, says councillor – Bonnie Flaws:

Forestry waste has again flooded the beaches of Tolaga Bay.

A video of a log-covered Tolaga Bay beach had been shared widely on social media on Tuesday.

A storm hit the district on Queen’s Birthday weekend 2018, washing over 40,000 cubic metres of wood onto beaches.

“We had 300 millimetres [of rain] up there over the weekend and a total new amount of wood has come down,” local farmer Henry Gaddum said. . . 

Hunting & Fishing New Zealand calls for genuine government consultation over tahr kill:

New Zealand’s largest outdoor recreation retailer, Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, today called on the Government to get back around the table and genuinely work with the hunting community to develop a pragmatic and long-term solution for the management of the South Island’s tahr population.

Hunting & Fishing New Zealand Chief Executive Darren Jacobs says it is extremely disappointing that a lack of consultation has once again required legal action, with the Tahr Foundation seeking an injunction this week in the High Court to stop a widespread cull due to start on 1 July.

“This is the second time in less than two years that hunting groups have had to take court action to stop plans for an extreme tahr cull and force the Government back around the table to talk with hunting groups, and other interested parties, to develop a collaborative approach to managing the tahr population,” says Jacobs. . . 

Anger at DoC’s ‘sham consultation’ over tahr slaughter plans:

The Tahr Foundation is condemning the Department of Conservation for what it describes as DOC’s “sham consultation” over plans to kill thousands of Himalayan tahr.

DOC’s kill operation is due to start today but the final version of its plan was only released just before midnight, minutes before it came into force. The plan confirms that DOC aims to exterminate tahr from national parks and kill thousands more through the Southern Alps.

The Tahr Foundation says that is outrageous and confirms that the already suspect consultation process was a farce.

Foundation spokesperson Willie Duley says DOC’s tactics are cynical. . . 

LIC strengthens partnership to support future farming leaders:

LIC has strengthened its support for growing the next generation of primary sector leaders with the signing of a three-year agreement with Rural Leaders which runs the highly-respected Nuffield Farming Scholarship and Kellogg Rural Leadership programmes.

Farmer owned co-operative LIC is committed to further enabling rural business professionals and farmers to flourish at a time when career opportunities on and around farms are strong says LIC Chief Executive Wayne McNee.

“We’re proud to have strengthened our partnership with Rural Leaders having previously had an association for five years,” he explains. “We’re excited to further cement our support for the future leaders our sector needs to retain and grow if we are to maintain global status as a world-class provider of agritech, food and products. We need leaders with passion and depth to navigate the challenges and opportunities being faced. Like Rural Leaders, LIC is focused on empowering people to grow and we’re delighted to be working with Rural Leaders to support more talented Kiwis to embark on forthcoming Nuffield and Kellogg programmes.” . . 

Overwhelming support to continuing seed levy:

Growers have overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the Non-Proprietary and Uncertified Herbage Seeds Levy order for another six years.

“In fact, from 82 percent in favour at the last levy vote in 2014, support shown during the vote last November had risen to 91 percent,” Federated Farmers Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection Chairperson Hugh Wigley says.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and the rest of Cabinet have approved continuation of the levy, and it will be gazetted this week.

“Grasses and clovers are vital to our sector but contracts for growing from proprietary seed are not always available and are more expensive. This levy safeguards supply of non-proprietary and uncertified seeds and provides different options to our farmers,” Hugh says. . .

 Wine industry, researchers and educators mark milestone with MOU:

Three institutions offering wine and viticulture courses have signed an agreement that will see them collaborate on research and student learning with the Marlborough Research Centre and Marlborough-based Bragato Research Institute.

The Memorandum of Understanding brings together tutors and students from Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawkes Bay, Otago Polytechnic, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, whose Budge St campus also houses Bragato’s research winery, as well as the Marlborough Research Centre.

MRC Chief Executive Gerald Hope says the MOU is another milestone towards the development of the campus as the national centre for wine-making and viticulture, following on from the opening of the Bragato research winery in February. . .


Rural round-up

20/06/2020

ETS will see more farmland lost – David Anderson:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) believes the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will see huge swathes of productive farming land converted into trees for carbon farming.

It says there is no disincentive in the updated climate change policy to stop significant land use change away from productive and sustainable pastoral agriculture to exotic plantation forestry for the purpose of carbon farming.

The red meat lobby claims this failure will take the focus away from actually reducing fossil fuel emissions.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says his organisation is concerned by the lack of government action to limit the amount of carbon farming available through the ETS to offset fossil fuel emissions.  . . 

Blocking MFAT advice on forestry bill ‘concerning’ says Initiative:

The Government’s refusal to let its skilled public servants advise a Select Committee about new legislation is “deeply concerning,” said The New Zealand Initiative.

Today, the Environment Select Committee published its final report on Minister Shane Jones’ Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Bill. Despite the Bill’s many flaws – and an unprecedented chorus of disapproval – it has emerged from the Select Committee largely unsubdued.

The Bill’s purported purpose is to create an occupational licensing regime for log traders and forestry advisers. It deems all forest owners to be “log traders,” thereby subjecting them to the registration and regulatory requirements of the new accreditation scheme. . . 

The ongoing search for new markets – India and beyond – Keith Woodford:

Finding new markets for NZ exports is challenging. Here, Keith Woodford looks at the Southern Asian countries of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and further west to Iran

In recent weeks I have been exploring opportunities for market diversification, given increasing concerns that New Zealand has become too dependant on China. I started by looking at China itself , with the key finding being that growth of two-way trade between New Zealand and China is a consequence of natural alignment for each other’s products, also facilitated by the 2008 Free Trade Agreement between the countries.

Next, I focused on other North-East Asian markets and specifically on Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The challenges with all of those include that their populations are either declining or about to decline. Also, their economic growth had either stalled or nearly stalled even before COVID-19 came along. That means that new trade requires elbowing out existing products rather than meeting new economic demand from consumers. . .

Deer cull will help families in need :

Venison is on the menu for New Zealand families in need — an annual deer cull in Fiordland will provide meat for foodbanks.

The deer cull in Fiordland National Park will this year provide 18,000kg of venison to New Zealand foodbanks and families in need.

Fiordland Wapiti Foundation typically would remove up to 1000 animals during the cull, and this year partnered with Game Animal Council and the Department of Conservation (Doc) for the initiative.

Fiordland Wapiti Foundation president Roy Sloan said that, weather permitting, by the end of July 600 deer from Fiordland National Park would be removed for processing into 18,000 1kg wild venison mince packets. . .

Rural focus welcome in health review but urgent action needed:

The NZ Rural General Practice Network today welcomed the Health and Disability System Review’s focus on addressing inequity in access to health care for rural communities, but said action was now needed with real urgency.

The new Chief Executive for the NZRGPN, Grant Davidson, said he would take time to digest the report and discuss it with its members, but welcomed the acknowledgement of the pressing need to address rural health.

“The first report noted that access to healthcare for rural communities was ‘unacceptable’ and the extent to which rural communities and their inequitable access to healthcare is a focus in this report is welcomed,” Grant Davidson . . 

Farmers helps save Pacific economies as COvid-19 brings economies to a halt – Mereia Volavola:

The Pacific Islands have been spared some of the deadliest health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

But by taking away the tourists, the virus has dealt a huge blow to economies and jobs largely dependent on foreign visitors’ spending to stay afloat.

As of May, every destination on earth had put in place some form of travel restriction, according to the U.N.’s World Travel Organization, and all tourism in the Pacific has stopped as a consequence, depriving many communities of income. In Vanuatu, 70 percent of tourism jobs are estimated to have disappeared already.

In the midst of this crisis, small-scale farming has provided the region with crucial resilience . .

Allflex tech’s powering up Litchfields’ dairy op – Matt Sherrington:

The Litchfield family’s investment in technology from Allflex Livestock Intelligence is paying dividends within their southern NSW-based dairy farming operation.

Ian and Karen Litchfield purchased the 182-hectare Kariana, situated near Mayrung in the Riverina, in 2000, and over the years they’ve purchased three other blocks, which including Kariana cover 760ha of which 600ha consists of flat flood irrigation country.

Together with their daughter Amy and son-in-law Jack, the Litchfields milk 800 Holstein cows each year out of a total milking herd of 950 head with their flat milk supply sold into the year-round milk markets. . .


Rural round-up

11/06/2020

Open letter on the value of animal agriculture’ – penned by a global farming community:

Almost 70 groups and individuals representing farmers, producers, vets and researchers from across the world have written an “open letter” to highlight the valuable role that animal agriculture has held during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Europe to the US, from New Zealand to Africa and Canada leading farming associations, agricultural academics, producer associations, and other high-level industry stakeholders are “pushing back” against what is described as “misinformation” around animal agriculture that has circulated throughout the outbreak. . .

DoC leaves concessionaires in the lurch:

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has shown a lack of compassion towards businesses permitted to operate on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

When the border shut, concession holders saw a large chunk of their business dry up overnight. Despite having no income from international visitors, they are still having to pay full concession fees to DOC.

Those affected are often small businesses like cafes and tourism operators. . .

Feral deer sightings spark concern for kauri forests :

Northland residents are being urged to report feral deer sightings after several animals were spotted in the area.

Four deer were recently seen – and one shot – from a helicopter in the Bay of Islands.

Wild deer are classed as an ‘eradication species’ in the north and it is illegal to release or move wild deer in or around the region.

Northland Regional Council biosecurity manager Don McKenzie said Northland is one of the few regions in New Zealand that has no established wild populations of deer and it would be “disastrous” for the area’s kauri forest if this changed. . . 

Protecting NZ fries as part of PNZ pandemic recovery & transformation plan:

Potatoes New Zealand has met with Minister Faafoi this week to discuss investigating the potential importation of heavily discounted frozen potato chips into New Zealand.

With MBIE’s support we are undertaking an investigation to gather evidence of the potential import threat. 

KEY POINTS

    • PNZ want growers to feel confident in the industry recovering from pandemic crisis
    • PNZ want to discourage the Europeans from attempting surplus import
    • We are gathering economic trade data and carrying out public interest analysis . . 

Barley use for brewing and malting ‘lowest in 10 years’ :

Barley usage for the brewing, malting and distilling sector in April has fallen to the lowest figure in over a decade, according to analysis.

New figures – the first full month of data showing the implications of the Covid-19 lockdown – show that barley use for the sector was just 114,700t.

The last time that barley usage for brewing, malting and distilling fell below 120,000t in a month was August 2009, when just 111,500t was used. . . 

Cheese price hits record highs – Lee Miekle:

Dairy prices ended May in far better shape than at the beginning of the month, and block cheese prices entered June Dairy Month at record highs.

The cheese handily topped $2 per pound for the first time since November 2019 in the Memorial Day holiday-shortened week. The 40-pound Cheddar blocks closed Friday at $2.23 per pound, up 29.25 cents, all on unfilled bids, and 51.5 cents above a year ago.

The 500-pound Cheddar barrels finished Friday and the month at $2.0225, up 13.25 cents on the week and 48.25 cents above a year ago. . .


Rural round-up

27/03/2020

Farming must step up, sector heads say – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s lockdown over Covid-19 is an opportunity for the agricultural sector ‘‘to step up and remind our country how great we are’’, Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie says.

The farm supplies co-operative has been identified as an essential service and will remain open, although customers have to call or email orders first, and a contactless collection process will then be arranged.

Yesterday, Mr Reidie said the world would still need to be fed and New Zealand was very well placed in terms of the quantity and quality of its produce .

‘‘Provided we can get things on boats … we should keep on keeping on. That’s got to be the ambition,’’ he said.

It was a reminder of the importance of landowners, farmers and orchardists. . . 

Kiwi Jack Raharuhi takes the crown in top Australasian award:

Jack Raharuhi from Pāmu Farms in Westport, and Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year 2016, has been crowned the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award winner.

Raharuhi, 27 years old, is the Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu, where he oversees 4 dairy farms and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind, and Health and Safety leadership for 10 dairy farms. He is also Chair of the West Coast Focus Farm Trust, and heavily involved with training and mentoring staff as part of the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.

The annual Award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented young individuals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013. . . 

Carrying on farming and consider grain options for stock feed:

Farmers can carry on doing what they do best – putting high quality food on people’s tables and earning export revenue – with confirmation direct from the Prime Minister that they are an ‘Essential Service’ that can continue operating under the Covid-19 lockdown from midnight Wednesday.

Services associated with the primary sector, including food processors, diagnostics, farm suppliers, freight and trucking can also go about their business, while taking all practical steps to limit people to people contact.

This confirmation they are vital to helping the nation survive the virus crisis will be a relief and reason for pride for many farmers and workers in those associated industries. But for some, there remains a pressing concern – the drought, and how to feed stock. . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year spots all go to women :

Women won all three placings in the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

The awards were presented at the West Coast Events Centre in Shantytown on Tuesday last week.

Alexis Wells won the trainee section, Dallas Bradley was second and Stephanie Gray claimed third place.

Ms Wells (21) is a farm assistant on a 307ha, 670-cow Pamu Farms of New Zealand property in Reefton. She is studying level 4 husbandry and feeding with Primary ITO and said she was proud to have made it to the dairy awards finals three years in a row. Her goal is to the win the national title. . . 

Pandemic postpones DoC predator control – David Williams:

The Conservation Department will halt operations to kill bird-eating pests during the four-week national shutdown. David Williams reports

Pest control operations to protect rare and vulnerable native species are about to cease.

The Department of Conservation will halt all biodiversity work during the upcoming four-week national shutdown, director-general Lou Sanson confirms.

“We debated that seriously but when we heard the Prime Minister [on Monday], and we understood the seriousness of the lockdown, the number one focus for New Zealand is to stop people moving, and that means all our biodiversity work stops, our construction work stops. About the only things we’ll be doing is the operation of sewerage schemes, search and rescue, and fire.”

(DoC acts as the local council, providing utilities like drinking water and sewerage schemes, in places like Aoraki/Mt Cook Village.) . . 

Exports rise as dairy gains while logs and fish fall:

Total goods exports increased in the February 2020 month due to an increase in the value of dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

The total value of meat exports was little changed, but higher quantities were exported to the United States instead of China.

The increase in total good exports was despite falls in exports of logs and fish, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The value of total goods exports rose by $212 million (4.5 percent) from February 2019 to reach $4.9 billion in February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

27/02/2020

Water will be currency of 21st century – Todd Muller:

Water is one of our nation’s critical strategic assets, perhaps second only behind our people. Therefore water storage is essential for ensuring we have a thriving primary sector for years to come, writes National’s Agriculture spokesman Todd Muller.

Water will be the currency of success in the next century.

In the 19th century it was coal, in the 20th century it was oil and in my view in the 21st century it is water.

We are a tradeable economy and water is a critical strategic asset in developing our commodities. The ability to store it will be a key infrastructural necessity if we are to leverage the value of water over the next few decades. . .

Wild rabbit enterprises shot down by red tape:

Federated Farmers is dismayed by reports that at least two businesses which process meat from wild rabbits are being strangled by compliance costs.

“It’s tough times on farms at the moment, with rising rabbit numbers in dry conditions.  With all the focus on predator-free and biodiversity, surely we should be working with and encouraging the commercial use of pest species, not making it harder for operators,” Feds Meat & Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

Radio NZ has reported that the owner of a business supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants, and for pet food, is spending up to 40 hours a week on paperwork, never mind growing MPI audit fees at $176 an hour.  As with another Canterbury-based processor, he told Radio NZ he was thinking of closing down. . .

Dairy returns too tiny for farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers have many reasons for optimism though three out of four say the returns are not worth the effort, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says.

Many farmers are asking themselves why they still bother dairying and his task is to help clear the fog and rekindle motivation, he told the DairyNZ Northland farmers forum.

Farmers are worried about environmental, banking, farm value, alternative food, drought and disease pressures. . .

Weevil win – we knocked the bastard off – Karen WIlliams:

Hats off to you, Wairarapa.  In the words of another Kiwi who achieved a world-first, “we knocked the bastard off”.

Okay, eradicating the region’s pea weevil incursion isn’t as grand as Ed Hillary and Tensing Norgay climbing Everest but in terms of biosecurity, and protecting an industry that earns us $50 million in domestic sales and $84 million in exports, it is a big deal.  It’s also another bug we don’t have to spray for.

As far as we know, no other country has successfully combatted this pest after an incursion.

It’s taken a region-wide and government agency effort to get where we are – that’s growers/farmers, home gardeners, Federated Farmers, local councils, Greater Wellington, local MPs, MPI, Biosecurity NZ, the Foundation for Arable Research, Assure Quality…a big thank-you to you all for your perseverance, flexibility and understanding. . .

New app to help hunters track tahr during culling –

A long-term plan is being developed to control Himalayan tahr in the South Island.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the large goat-like animals, introduced to New Zealand during the early days of European settlement, posed a threat to the country’s native alpine plants.

To combat the loss of native vegetation, DOC said it had been working with ecological experts to start a new monitoring system.

The long-term control plan is led by DOC and Ngāi Tahu. . . 

Beef bans based on ‘popular opinion, not facts’, Harper Adams says:

Harper Adams University has said it will never ban beef from its campus menus as it criticises other institutions for their ‘knee-jerk reactions’ to the climate crisis.

In recent years, and even more so in recent months, several UK universities have attracted significant media attention for voting motions to ban beef.

Earlier this month, thousands of students at Edinburgh University rejected proposals to ban the meat in all student union run outlets. . .

 


Govt tramples property rights

14/02/2020

The government is trampling over West Coast farmers’ property rights:

West Coasters whose land has been newly classified as a significant wetland or natural area are unlikely to receive any compensation from the Government, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says.

After a Department of Conservation appeal to the Environment Court in 2012, the West Coast Regional Council was ordered to add a further 215 schedule 2 wetlands to its Soil and Water Plan.

Regional council chairman Allan Birchfield estimates about 5000ha of wetlands on private land are affected, with landowners required to pay for ecological assessments to see if the land qualifies for full protection under schedule 1.

“That’s effectively put the land into the DOC estate because the landowners will need DOC input – and approval as an affected party if they want to develop it. So the Crown is gaining land without paying for it, and that is theft,” he said.

“However, there is support through the sustainable land use package from budget 2019 to support landowners with fencing and riparian planting.”

Support for doing something they have no choice over is not compensation for loss of property rights.

Birchfield said that would be unacceptable to most landowners.

“It’s their land and they don’t want it fenced off. They either want it purchased or possibly a land swap. It’s not the Wild West here, where you just take land off people.”

DOC had plenty of land on the Coast, if it wanted control of the wetlands it should be a willing-seller, willing-buyer situation with no compulsion, he said.

“Those landowners lose the use of the land, but have to go on paying rates on it. DOC doesn’t pay any rates.

Farmers will not only have to pay rates, they’ll also be responsible for weed and pest control on what was their land and will be in name only.

“We’ve got little enough private land here anyway and they should keep their hands off the little we have, to make a living out of.”

The ecological benefits of wetlands are well understood but that doesn’t justify forcing farmers to retire land without compensating them.

This government doesn’t want forestry or mining on the Coast, it’s rejected a hydro generation plan and now it’s effectively taking land from farmers, leaving them with the costs of ownership and none of the benefits.

Property rights are one of the foundation stone of democracy.

Forcing farmers to retire land without compensating them tramples all over those rights.

 


Rural round-up

09/12/2019

Rural rates chan pulls tighter – Richard Rennie:

The Federated Farmers rates report for the year has highlighted the continuing ability of council rates to outstrip other cost indices, with property owners experiencing a 170% increase over the past 20 years.

That rise has left standard cost indices for dead, even when compared to typically high-rising products like alcohol and tobacco, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said.

Those two products rose 120% over the same period, with significant tax increases on them through that period.

Food prices increased 50% over the same period while transport costs went up 30%.

Farmers are desperate for a handbrake on rates rises but concerned councils appeared to be signalling further rises are likely. . . 

Minister failing to give farmers the facts:

Damian O’Conner has badly let down rural New Zealand by not requesting economic and social analysis on his Government’s freshwater proposals, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Ministry for Primary Industries officials revealed today in Select Committee that they did not conduct any economic or social modelling prior to the release of the proposals, nor did the Agriculture Minister ask them to.

“It is Damien O’Connor’s responsibility to look out for rural communities and make sure the facts are laid out before hammering them with the most significant policy proposal farmers have faced in years. . . 

Massive high-tech pest control operation in Perth Valley declared a success – Lois Williams:

The company that carried out a massive pest control operation in South Westland’s Perth Valley this year is declaring it a success.

Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) supported by DOC blitzed the remote river catchment near Whataroa with 1080 pellets in two aerial drops, in April and July, following intensive pre-feeding with non-toxic pellets.

But it also set up a network of 700 traps for rats and possums, all connected by radio and satellite to rangers phones and laptops, along with 142 cameras to detect stoats.

The company’s aim is to rid the Perth Valley of all predators and keep them out – something that has never been achieved outside of fenced sanctuaries and islands. . . 

Dairy compliance on the up and up:

The Dairy industry and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have adopted the shared goal to achieve 100% compliance with all resource consents, and are almost 80% towards the goal, celebrated at this week’s Dairy Compliance Awards.

The Dairy Compliance Awards recognise Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers who consistently achieve full compliance with their resource consents.

This is the sixth year of the Dairy Awards, covering water takes, farm dairy effluent and air discharge consents. Over the years, overall compliance has improved from 71% in 2012-13 to 78% in 2018-19. . . 

Good sense sold up the river – Alan Moran:

Earlier this week some 3,000 irrigators and their supporters rallied in Canberra against government policy on Murray-Darling irrigation and management.  With the  cacophony of dozens of semi-trailers’ blaring horns, it was certainly noisy. Ominously for the National Party, their representatives were treated with considerable hostility, particular anger being directed at water Minister David Littleproud. Enduring the jeers, the Nationals would have been especially dismayed at the warm welcome for Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.

The current drought has exacerbated a contrived water shortage that government policy has engineered in the Murray. Having set a cap on water extractions in 1999 — roughly a third of the average flow — the productive uses of this “working river” have been gradually reduced.  As a supplier of a vital agricultural input to a formerly barren area that grew to supply 40 per cent of the nation’s farm produce, the river has been de-rated.  At a cost of $13 billion, some 20 per cent of the flow has been diverted to “environmental” use. This has caused a five- to ten-fold increase in the price and forced thousands of farms out of business. . .

Winston Nutritional secures Chinese Government approval for infant formula production:

Winston Nutritional is one of only two New Zealand manufacturers in 2019 to secure approval from China to produce infant formula.

Winston Nutritional (17888) has achieved infant formula plant registration from the General Administration of Customs of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC) for its Auckland-based blending and canning facility. It secured a general dairy registration in 2017.

Winston Nutritional (17888) has achieved infant formula plant registration from the General Administration of Customs of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC) for its Auckland-based blending and canning facility. It secured a general dairy registration in 2017. . . 


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