Agriculture convenient scapegoat

June 7, 2018

Should farmers be worried about the Zero Carbon Bill’s impact?

An agricultural leader says his sector has “some trepidation” that taking steps to protect the environment may have an unnecessary impact on the farming community.

Federated Farmers dairy sector chair Andrew Hoggard is keeping a close eye on the Zero Carbon Bill, with public consultations opening on Thursday.

The proposed legislation would put climate change targets into law, in line with the goal of the country becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

“The key thing most farmers want to see with the Zero Carbon Bill is that it recognises the difference between methane and carbon dioxide,” Mr Hoggard told The AM Show.

“Methane is 75 percent of the gases that come from agriculture but it is a short-lived gas, unlike carbon dioxide – so it basically recycles.”

Mr Hoggard says the two are often confused, but if methane emissions remain “static”, have no greater impact. He says dropping methane levels by “4 or 5 percent” would bring them back to 1990 levels.

He added it “wouldn’t make any sense” if the Government considers cutting back on farming as a solution.

“New Zealand feeds about 40 million people in the world, so if we reduce our agricultural production by 20 percent to supposedly reduce emissions by 20 percent, there is effectively 8 million people that will be looking for food elsewhere and it probably won’t be done as well as what it is in New Zealand.” . . 

There is a danger with this Bill that politicians will act locally without thinking globally.

The ban on oil exploration here is an example of that. It is expected to increase global emissions by replacing New Zealand gas with coal gas from China.

There is a similar danger with the Carbon Zero Bill.

Any policies which increase the cost of food production and reduce the amount produced in New Zealand will provide the opportunity for increased production in other countries with much less efficient and environmentally sustainable farming systems.

Derek Daniell, one of this country’s leading farmers, sheep breeders and thinkers, says NZ agriculture makes a convenient scapegoat.

New Zealand’s environmental profile has been shafted by the one-sided, false accounting analysis of the Kyoto Accord.

Consider:

Why was New Zealand the only country to have agriculture emissions specifically included in Kyoto? Because the blame could be shifted to methane emissions from ruminants, even though the methane percentage in the atmosphere has been constant over the past 25 years. And ruminants have been around for 90 million years. Their methane emissions had a balance in the earth’s atmosphere long before the world became overstocked with humans, who are using up billions of years of stored energy as oil, coal and gas in a short binge.

No credit is given for the buildup of top soil and organic matter under our pastoral farming system, under the “single entry” accounting approach. This is a much more virtuous farming system than monoculture cropping, using herbicides and pesticides to kill competing plants and animals, and continually depleting the organic matter in the soil. How long is monoculture cropping around the world going to be sustainable?

Tourism is touted as a great industry for New Zealand, with recent growth to 3.7 million visitors. But no one talks about the 2.9 million Kiwis travelling OUT of the country, and spending more than $10 billion in the process. This is another example of “single entry accounting”. And no one talks about the continual increase in GHG caused by this two way travel.

The energy industry is another sector under attack from the current government, and environmental lobby groups. The local oil, gas and coal industry supplies the equivalent of 78 percent of domestic requirements, but reducing. We will become more and more dependent on an oil tanker sailing into the Whangarei refinery every six days. This is another example of “single entry” accounting. If the government restricts this sector, it will simply reduce the living standards of New Zealanders, because we will import more energy. And be less self sufficient. . . 

Derek’s column is worth reading in full which you can do if you click on the link above.


Let’s not play the blame game

September 3, 2017

Wise words from Derek Daniell:

“The Blame Game
The 2017 election campaign is heating up, and the Blame Game is at fever pitch. Farmers are an easy target for those playing the Blame Game. The accusations of poor land and water use are coming thick and fast. It’s time to level the playing field.

80 PERCENT OF TOWNS AND CITIES ARE NON COMPLIANT WITH WATER QUALITY REGULATIONS.

ESTIMATED COST TO MEET REGULATIONS? $7 BILLION.

You can swim safely in the Waikato river upstream of Hamilton, but not below, according to an ex-mayor of that city.

A recent exposee in the Dominion Post revealed that the streams around Wellington city are largely devoid of life, because of urban pollution.

$7 Billion?

Much of the animal farming around the world is done in a feedlot situation: pigs, chickens, farmed fish, most of the dairy cows, some beef cattle. It’s more efficient for purposes of feeding and effluent disposal.

Cities are people feedlots. Cities have the same advantages as animal feedlots for concentrated supply lines of food and water, and also for effluent disposal. But the concentration of effluent, and other rubbish, requires expensive solutions. When is urban New Zealand going to get serious about tackling the $7 billion makeover of non compliant waste water systems?

Are we at the party or are we on the menu?

• Rather than exclusively blaming farmers, concerned citizens should be asking, “What’s been happening in New Zealand farming over the past forty years?”
• Since 1980 there has been a huge reduction in the number of sheep, down from a peak of 70 million to just 27 million. From 2005 to 2015 total stock units of dairy and beef cattle, sheep and deer dropped 8 percent.
• Each sheep, dairy cow, and beef animal is being farmed more efficiently, on average, with reduced carbon emissions per unit of product. Pastoral exports earn around $20 billion, or more than 40 percent of New Zealand’s traded total. The prosperity of all New Zealanders is derived mainly from the land and sea, which delivers more than 70 percent of exported product revenue. 
• Tourism is touted as an important earner of overseas exchange, but a high percentage of that revenue is needed to offset the money spent by New Zealanders travelling abroad. 
• Dairy farmers have spent on average around $100,000 each on protecting the environment, more than $100m total. 
• Over 3,000 QE2 covenants have been set aside by private landowners, many of them farmers, since 1979. QE2 covenants now total over 180,000 hectares, and there are five hundred more covenants in the pipeline. 
• Fish and Game plays holier than thou, yet is responsible for ruining the ecological balance in our rivers and streams with introduced fish species. The organisation is also responsible for introducing Canadian geese, now declared a noxious pest, and for introducing the Mallard duck, which has made the native Grey Duck almost extinct. Fish and Game is still protected by an Act of Parliament. That protection should be removed immediately. 
• Why don’t environmental lobby groups target Fish and Game or urban people? They get their funding largely from urban dwellers, and Fish and Game adds to the united attack on relatively defenceless targets like farmers. A proportion of any population enjoys a jihad, the opportunity to force their views on others.

Disappearing land

The Beef and Lamb Economic Service estimate that 4.05 million hectares, or 35 percent, of land has been lost to sheep and beef since 1990. Of that total, 950,000 hectares has been converted to dairying or dairy support, 377,000 hectares went to forestry, a big area was retired to DOC estate, 180,000 hectares has been covenanted to QE2 since 1979(with more on the way), some poorer hill country reverted to scrub/bush/ weeds, and smaller areas changed to viticulture/horticulture/ lifestyle blocks/Manuka/urban sprawl. Pastoral farming has been reduced to only 40 percent of the land area in New Zealand.

Disappearing animals

The ruminant animal population of New Zealand has shrunk since the Rio Earth Summit in 1990. An estimate that 48 percent of New Zealand’s Green House Gas emissions come from ruminant animals is out of date. And there is a solution at hand: a recently trialled feed additive has resulted in a reduction of up to 50 percent in methane emissions relative to increased productivity. This additive has the effect of improving the efficiency of the rumen “from 50 to 60 percent”, in the words of the leading scientist, and also significantly increases milk value from the same volume of feed.

Too many people?

Meanwhile the human population has grown from 3.5 to 4.8 million, a 37 PERCENT INCREASE. It is the increase in the human population which is causing New Zealand to miss its targets on saving the Earth. And talking of population, why doesn’t New Zealand have a policy around it? New Zealand is one of the few uncrowded countries in the world. One estimate has New Zealand’s potential human stocking rate at 40 million. Where would you like to see it?

Is five million people a good fit? Our population will be there some time in 2020.

What will we think with 2020 hindsight?”

We all want clean water.

We all want good quality food.

Playing the blame game widens the rural-urban divide. It doesn’t solve any problems.


Rural round-up

December 9, 2014

Beef + Lamb, Open Polytechnic Join Forces for Productivity:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has teamed up with Open Polytechnic to provide specialist agribusiness training for sheep and beef farmers – just one plank of a wider strategic initiative to find ways to increase the long-term, sustainable profitability of the red meat sector.

B+LNZ and Open Polytechnic are now inviting sheep and beef farmers to register their interest in the training. Timing and locations will be determined by uptake.

Known as “Farm Smarter”, the programme focuses on agribusiness profitability and production management. Farmers who complete the course qualify for a National Certificate in Agriculture (Production Management, Level 5).

Doug Macredie, B+LNZ sector capability project manager, said: “Participants will learn how to use customised tools to save time and add value to their farming businesses. Particular emphasis is placed on analysing existing resources and benchmarking from high performing properties to set and monitor future goals.” . .

The Wairere maxim: Only the strong survive – Jon Morgan:

Asked to explain the key to being a successful sheep breeder, Derek Daniell thinks for a second or two, then smiles and says: “Well, to put it simply, it’s about tits and bums.”

He looks down the hill to a small group of two-tooth ewes hugging the shade of an overhanging bank and explains. “It’s tits because the ewes need to be good milkers and rear big lambs.”

He points to the two-tooth rams on the hillside above him and adds, “and it’s bums because that’s where most of the meat is.”

The sheep are romneys, the breed that is the mainstay of his Wairere stud in the inhospitable hills of northern Wairarapa.. . .

NZX dairy futures curve flattens ahead of Fonterra’s review – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group may cut its forecast milk payout by a fifth this week with dwindling prospects that the price of whole milk powder will recover enough to support its current estimate.

Whole milk powder sold at US$2,229 a tonne in last week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction and would need to surge 57 percent by March to reach the US$3,500 a tonne level that Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has said the current forecast payout of $5.30 a kilogram of milk solids is predicated on.

The chances of that sort of recovery are slipping away. NZX Whole Milk Powder Futures contracts have tumbled in the past three weeks, with contracts scheduled to expire in April to July 2015 dropping more than nearer-dated contracts. For example, May 2015 WMP futures have fallen to US$2,410 a tonne from US$2,950/tonne on Nov. 18. June 2015 futures have declined to US$2,500/tonne from US$3,025/tonne. . . .

Venison firm confident of industry’s future:

A fall in farmed deer numbers is not discouraging venison processor and exporter Duncan and Co.

The business has just expanded its operation by taking full ownership of Otago Venison Ltd. at Mosgiel.

Duncan and Co has had a shareholding in the Otago plant since it started 21 years ago.

General marketing manager Glenn Tyrrell said there had been a decline in the number of smaller scale deer farms as a result of dairy expansion. . .

Winning cider years in the making:

Top quality cider begins in the orchard with specialty trees, which like wine from older vines, gets better with age, an award winning Hawke’s Bay cider maker says.

Paul Paynter, a fifth generation apple grower, picked up the Cider Trophy at this year’s New Zealand Fruit Wine and Cider Makers Awards for his Paynter’s Cider.

The award winning drink had been eight years in the making, and began in the back shed. . .

World’s First for Fashion From Untouched World™:

Leading New Zealand lifestyle fashion brand Untouched World launches KAPUA™, an exclusive new knitwear development that sets the benchmark for supreme luxury and comfort.

Kapua, being the Maori word for cloud, truly expresses the sensation of this new knitwear. It is another example of innovation from Snowy Peak Ltd, parent company of Untouched World™.

By blending three of nature’s finest fibres; luxurious cashmere (40%), the new dehaired delicate winter downy undercoat of the possum (40%), and silk (20%), they have created an ultra-luxurious yarn.

CEO Peri Drysdale is overwhelmed with the response they’ve received since unveiling Kapua. “To hear people describe it as exquisite, covetable and the most luxurious textile they’ve ever touched, just makes all the development work worthwhile” she says. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 7, 2012

Slow down speed bumps ahead! – Dr Jon Hauser:

There’s an old joke that if you ask three economists a question you’ll get four different answers. Despite this, the one thing everyone agrees on is that global milk production over the last year has been going up, up, and up! The million dollar question, and the one that has been causing the dismal science’s split professional personalities, is: ‘will global demand keep pace?’.

The final numbers are in for 2011, so this week we’ve decided to throw our analysis into the ring . . .

“Kaitiakitanga”  nurturing our natural resources and people for a prosperous future – Pasture to Profit:

Kaitiakitanga” in Maori means to nurture our natural resources & people for a prosperous future.

This is one of 5 Farm Business Management values set out by Tauhara Moana Trust, one of three finalists in theBNZ Ahuwhenua Maori Excellence in Dairy Farming Award 2012. Maori Trusts have different business objectives to most other NZ dairy farmers.  . .

Why does wool polarise farmers? – Alan Ememrson:

Derek Daniell’s remit to the Beef + Lamb New Zealand annual meeting regarding a wool levy achieved, if nothing else, a positive plethora of emails to my inbox.

It was an innocent enough remit calling for an “evaluation of the result of the discontinuation of the wool levy and investigation whether a future collective investment would add value for wool growers”.

The problem is, as it seems with all things wool, people are either firmly on one side of the fence or the other.

For the record Derek is a good bloke and a highly successful farmer. His remit is well worded. How it is handled from here by B+LNZ will determine if it is successful. . .

Lincoln honours palm oil alumnus – Tim Fulton:

An executive in the global palm oil industry has been awarded Lincoln’s international medal, backed by an assurance from the university that his company is the “socially responsible standout” in the industry.

Just over 40 years after leaving Lincoln College with a diploma in Valuation and Farm Management, John Clendon was recognised last Friday for his involvement with coconut, cocoa and oil palm production in the south-west Pacific and Asia.

Clendon is managing director of Univanich, a Thai company which Lincoln credits as “the world’s leader in the production of sustainable palm oil”. . .

Tight unit wins Farmer of Year award – Sally Rae:

It was cattle that brought the 2012 OtagoSharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners James and Helen Hartshorne together.   

 Mr Hartshorne, originally from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, was showing Holstein-Friesians at the Royal Welsh Show in 1999,      while his future bride, from Wales, was exhibiting Guernseys .. .

Farm managers of  year love their job – Sally Rae:

Gareth Dawson always knew he was going to pursue an    outdoors career.   

He did not want to be “stuck indoors” and chose dairy farming, after helping a friend herd testing one day “and      just never left” the industry.   

Mr Dawson and his wife Angela, who now manage a 560 cow 186ha property at Clinton, won the 2012 Otago Farm Manager of the Year title.   . .

Rabobank builds rural business:

Rabobank New Zealand Ltd (RNZL) continued to build its rural banking business in 2011, recording net lending growth of $724 million, despite a contraction in the total rural debt market over the same period.  

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the bank’s rural portfolio growth during 2011 was a positive result which primarily reflected refinance activity rather than organic growth of existing customers. . .

Kiwi avocado comapny wants slice of food service market:

A New Zealand owned avocado company has targeted the billion dollar food service market, with a goal to switch consumers from imported to locally grown produce.

Fressure Foods, a mainly grower-owned organisation, is encouraging Kiwi food trade companies to source locally produced avocados wherever possible to support local farmers and meet with growing consumer demand.

Currently the imported avocado industry in New Zealand is valued at around $1 million and around 200 tonnes of the fruit are brought into the country each year.

The February issue of Country-Wide is on-line here.


Rural round-up

May 1, 2012

Top Sheep Breeding Operation Wins Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Well-known Wairarapa hill-country sheep and beef farm Wairere Station has been named Supreme winner of the 2012 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Owned by the Derek Daniell Trust and situated north east of Masterton, the 1206ha property is home to an internationally recognised Romney sheep stud.

Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges described Wairere as“a sustainable, innovative and financially-sound farming operation”.

“Strong consideration has always been given to conservation practices alongside the ability to be a leading entrepreneur of sheep genetics in New Zealand.” . . .

Cow pooling and homekill:

With ‘cow pooling’ in the spotlight following TV One’s Sunday programme, Federated Farmers Rural Butchers believes it has a role to play in reconnecting the public to their food.

“From what I saw on Sunday last night, ‘cow pooling’ seemed legitimate,” says Mike Hanson, Federated Farmers Rural Butchers chairperson.

“The impression I got was that people owned the farm animal and had it processed through a licensed abattoir. If that’s the case the meat is legitimate. So much so, they’ll even pay a Beef+Lamb NZ levy on it. . .

Go Young Farmer:

After 22 District Finals and seven Regional Finals featuring New Zealand’s best young farming talent, The National Bank Young Farmer Contest is down to the last seven Contestants.  They’ll battle it out in Dunedin from 23 May – 26 May 2012 to see who will take the title. 

There’ll be plenty of pressure on the seven Grand Finalists.  And when the going gets tough, a bit of support can make all the difference. . .

Fortunately, even if you can’t be in Dunedin for the Grand Final, you can still cheer on your favourite contestant.

The National Bank’s goyoungfarmer.co.nz website is the next best thing to being there.

 

Differences more apparent than real – Allan Barber:

In spite of recent disagreements, most notably between Keith Cooper of Silver Fern Farms and Beef and Lamb NZ, there doesn’t appear to be too much wrong with relationships between meat companies and the industry good organisation representing sheep and beef farmers

Cooper has listed several bones of contention which pushed him to the point of resigning from the B&LNZ board – the proposal for PGP funding had several aspects which cut across FarmIQ, the launch of the Suretrim industry trim standard went ahead without getting full commitment from the processors, and, in his own words, the straw that broke the camel’s back was an article in the Christchurch Press in late January quoting B&LNZ chairman Mike Petersen on the sustainability of lamb prices. . .

Crafar farms sale appears to be over at last – Allan Barber:

The sale of 16 assorted, somewhat rundown dairy farms to the Chinese buyer, Shanghai Pengxin, looks as though it can finally go ahead, although there is still talk of an appeal by the group headed by Sir Michael Fay.

It is hard to see on what basis an appeal could be successful, because the OIO tightened its criteria for recommending the Chinese bid which was already required to jump through more hoops than any previous application for foreign ownership. The Ministers were satisfied by the OIO’s changes and would clearly have taken great care not to land the Government in any more embarrassment over the issue. . .


Rural round-up

January 29, 2011

Pied Pipers of Galapogos Sally Rae writes in the ODT:

Herbert couple John and Bruna Oakes have played a major role in helping protect the wildlife and plant life of the Galapagos Islands.

Mr and Mrs Oakes, who own Central South Island Helicopters, were approached to do some work for the Ecuadorian Government, due to their expertise in pest control. . . 

The golden shearer hits 70 – Colin Williscroft writes in the ODT:

When Brian “Snow” Quinn needs to shear his flock of about 400 ewes, he does most of the hard work himself, although he admits getting in some help when it is needed.

At 70, there is nothing wrong with that, he reckons.

In his heyday, of course, Mr Quinn was a champion shearer – a world champion at one stage – and today he is still hugely respected for his legacy, having won the Golden Shears competition in 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971 and 1972. . .

Only the tough survive the Wairere hills – Jon Morgan writes:

Asked to explain the key to being a successful sheep breeder, Derek Daniell thinks for a second or two, then smiles and says, “Well, to put it simply, it’s about tits and bums.”

He looks down the hill to a small group of two-tooth ewes hugging the shade of an overhanging bank and explains. “It’s tits because the ewes need to be good milkers and rear big lambs.” He points to the two-tooth rams on the hillside above him and adds, “And it’s bums because that’s where most of the meat is.”

 All sheep prices look good: Tony Chaston at Interest.co.nz writes:

With a picture telling “a thousand stories”, we thought it would be good to review where livestock commodity prices are at compared to the last 3 years by way of our charts.

The wool price rises are spectacular, with crossbred prices back to they were in the 80’s. And it may not be over yet with supply  restricted and no stocks in the pipeline.

 

Wools second auction of the year produced price rises that are unprecedented for decades.

The 6-13% rises for different wool classes lifted the indicator levels dramatically, especially for crossbred (44-49c) and lamb (61c) wools. . .

Rakaia sales show confidence – Tim Fulton writes in NZ Farmers Weekly:

Three years ago it felt like a struggle to get rid of them – now his top pen of store lambs has made $151 and owner Stuart Millar can’t help murmuring “it’s incredible”.

Millar, a champion sheepdog trialist, attributes the price shift to a massive shortage of sheep as dairy expansion and storm losses alter supply and demand for stock.

Flock numbers appeared to be well back on early-season estimates, Millar said following his family’s Suffolk and Perendale sale at Peak Hill.

Their offering of just over 2600 lambs averaged $100 as did another Gorge property Snowdon Station which sold 5400 Suffolk and Perendale lambs. . .

Works buyers breaking ranks – also in NZ Farmers Weekly:

With works struggling to find enough cattle some buyers are starting to break ranks and are competing for cattle by paying premium prices, PGG Wrightson agent Vaughan Vujcich said at the Kaikohe sale.
It was another strong market with 780 head on offer with prices for most of the store market on a par with the previous week which was already high. However, there were still increases for heavier, more forward cattle with schedule changes and a lack of prime cattle for killing.
The cattle market at Pukekohe was very strong with all classes being in very big demand, Chris Humphrey of Livestock Mart Auctions reported.
“This is a trend which looks to only get better as was predicted late last year as cattle numbers are very low in most sales and demand is huge. This will not change for a long time and this shortage of cattle is a real concern,” he said. . .

Confessions of a hunter-gatherer – Steve Wyn-Harris in the Farmer Weekly:

For many years at this time I’ve felt a martyr to the cause on behalf of this country’s export earnings, well at least from Hinerangi Road anyway.

I’d diligently keep slogging away except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day while all the neighbours, stock trucks and various reps magically disappear. The road becomes a sleepy quiet byway instead of its usual busy vein of commerce and frantic activity.

I wonder how others can be so organised at a busy time of the year or alternatively why I am not. . .


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