Rural round-up

February 5, 2015

Fonterra and DOC working together on World Wetlands Day:

With World Wetlands Day marked this week (February 2), Fonterra and the Department of Conservation (DOC) are continuing their work to improve the health of five key catchments across New Zealand, through their Living Water partnership.

Living Water contributes to the conservation of wetlands through a ten year programme of work to improve water quality and the variety and abundance of native wildlife at the selected catchments located in major dairying regions.

The Living Water catchments are Hikurangi in Northland, three Waikato peat lakes – Areare, Ruatuna and Rotomānuka, Miranda/Pūkorokoro on the Firth of Thames/ Tīkapa Moana, Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury and Waituna in Southland. . .

 Setting dairying women on the right path:

Two participants of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s (AWDT) new pilot programme say they have been left feeling empowered and confident in the running of their dairy farming businesses.

Hawke’s Bay dairy farmer Zoe Kuriger and Arohena dairy farmer Cathy Prendergast were among the first intake of the Pathways Programme, which is run in two modules – the first held in November last year.

The Pathways Programme is a collaborative venture between Dairy Women’s Network and AWDT and is funded by DairyNZ and Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

 

Adding value to business and balance to life:

Dairy Women’s Network and DairyNZ are running free goal setting workshops called ‘Know where you are heading’ in nine locations throughout New Zealand during February and March.

The dairy module is suitable for all levels of dairying, however is open to DWN members and non-members, and both men and women of any profession.

The workshop has been jointly developed by DWN and DairyNZ, using material from DairyNZ’s Mark and Measure seminars.

“The aim of the workshop is to build farmer confidence and gain clarity on goals, as well as an understanding of the essentials of planning, goal setting and workable action plans,” said DWN Takaka regional convenor Tyler Langford, workshop co-presenter. . .

Young bidder gets the job done – :

A determined 17-year-old helped to set the prices at this week’s Hawarden crossbred sheep sale, as she held her nerve and saw off rival bidders for three pens of romney two-tooths.

Louisa McClintock was buying on behalf of her father, and paid between $165 and $173 for 230 romney and romney cross ewes.

“Dad just said, ‘Get the ones you like’, so hopefully I’ve done all right for him,” Louisa laughed after the sale. . .

Farmers urged to plan feed for cows carefully:

Industry body DairyNZ is urging farmers facing drier than normal farming conditions to carefully consider how they make their feed planning decisions to keep cows in milk while maintaining their condition.

General manager of extension, Craig McBeth, says farmers are now reaching some crunch points for making the calls on feed planning and milking frequency.

“We know some farmers have moved on to once a day milking or milking every 16 hours as a way of managing their way through what are still very dry conditions in most parts of the country despite the recent rainfall. In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen pastures go from green to brown pretty quickly with limited post grazing regrowth. Soil moisture levels are still well below the average for this time of year and we’re now seeing that reflected in crisp pastures,” he says. . .

 

 

No slowing in demand to buy Canterbury farms:

Local and international interest in the New Zealand rural real estate market remains extremely strong, defying suggestions demand could soften in the face of the lower Fonterra payout to farmers.

Shane O’Brien, national director of Colliers Rural & Agribusiness division, said buyers were taking the medium to long-term view of the dairy industry and were still keenly contesting quality land.

“We’re still getting strong enquiry both from local buyers wanting to expand their land holdings as well as from international funds and private investors.” . .

Wool Demand Outstrips Supply:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that strong buying interest for quick shipment underpinned this week’s wool market for the 13,789 bales on offer from both Islands.

Currency played a minor role despite the New Zealand dollar’s volatility with the indicator for the main trading currencies practically unchanged at 0.6898 compared to the last sale on 29th January.

Of the offering 90.8 percent sold with most unsold wools coming from the Mid Micron selection.

Mr Dawson advises that there were some inter Island variations in price direction in some sectors, with an overall firm to dearer trend. . . .

FMG Selects Interactive Intelligence as Telephony Partner

Reinforces Insurer’s Commitment to Servicing New Zealand’s Rural Sector

Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) has announced that it will partner with FMG, New Zealand’s leading rural insurer, to roll out its Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC) IP communications software suite across the company’s New Zealand service centre operations.

CIC will support FMG in improving its overall customer experience delivery through key features, including recording and quality assurance, multi-media ACD contact centre, IVR, outbound dialer, agent and supervisor desktop functionality. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2014

Two exciting years in a row - Allan Barber:

2014 and 2015 promise to be two of the most exciting years the red meat industry has seen for a long time and for a change the news is not all bad. There are some clouds around, but also silver linings like better beef and lamb prices, improved profitability and the possibility of positive developments in the industry’s structure.

At long last, after a slow start, there are plenty of signs the industry as a whole has recognised the need for change to address the main challenges of inadequate prices, declining sheep and beef numbers and excess capacity which have inexorably brought about land use conversions to more profitable activities. . .

  –  Allan Barber:

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey conducted in November found confidence among sheep and beef farmers had risen from just under 50% to 75% since the previous survey the previous quarter. However the overall confidence level remained low because of pessimism among dairy farmers, although this was slightly better than the two year low in the previous survey.

Sheep and beef farmer confidence is now on a par with dairy farmers’ confidence about their outlook and consistent with the situation two years ago. Major reasons for the turnaround are not difficult to fathom, but apart from the contrasting price trend for the respective products, half the farmers surveyed were optimistic about the outlook for global red meat demand.

The relative investment intentions of the two sectors also bore out the levels of optimism with 41% of sheep and beef farmers intending to invest more in their farms compared with just 18% of dairy farmers. . .

Fiordland rangers prepare for stoat plague – Dave Goosselink :

Rangers in Fiordland National Park are preparing for a major stoat plague, which will threaten one of our most endangered birds.

There are only around 260 takahe left, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is doing its best to prevent any of them from becoming a Christmas dinner.

A remote part of the Murchison Mountains is home to the last wild population of takahe. The critically endangered native birds face a fresh wave of predators this summer due to bumper seed production in beech forests. . .

Tradition ties agents to job - Alan Williams:

There has been a raft of changes in the livestock agency industry in the more than 50 years Fred Fowler and John Honeybone have been working in Canterbury saleyards but one feature stays the same.

They’re both out there in the sprawling Canterbury Park facility wearing a tie.

“That’s the dress code,” Honeybone says.

“It’s good for discipline, specially for the young fellas.”

Fowler agrees. 

“If you’re standing in front of the public then you wear a tie.” . . .

The people behind the scene – Sally Millar:

As the year draws to a close, I would like to reflect on the year from a regional policy perspective. As Federated Farmers Policy Advisor my role is to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure they are able to farm without resource management policies and plans unduly impacting on their farm businesses.

With an ever changing regulatory climate, compliance can make farming tricky at times. We consider that most farming activities should be permitted, with appropriate standards that are essentially good farming practice and should be able to be complied with, with minimum fuss.  There are however areas where farmers will need a resource consent such as for building a bridge, discharging effluent, or getting a water consent for dairy shed wash-down.  This can be a confusing and complicated process.

Where resource consent is required, Federated Farmers Policy works to ensure the controls are appropriate, fair and achievable, without undue cost to the farmer.   This means if we do our job well much of what we achieve will go largely unnoticed. So I don’t necessarily see it as a negative if members are unsure of what I really do.  . .

Farmers face risk of dam-dry summer:

Low reserves of water in Canterbury have farmers and irrigation companies concerned ahead of what is threatening to be a dry summer.

The  Opuha Dam in south Canterbury is half empty – when, by now, it is usually more than 90 percent full and ready to keep pastures green through the summer.

Fish and Game said there had been an over-allocation of available water, which affected rivers and their ecosystems and needed to be addressed.

While the dam supplied water for irrigation, its main purpose was to stop the Opuha River from running dry. A dry spring and a lack of snow melt meant the dam had just over half the water it should have at this time of year. . .

Fonterra Welcomes New Managing Director International Farming:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is pleased to welcome new Managing Director International Farming Alan van der Nagel to the business.

Mr van der Nagel reports directly to Chief Executive Theo Spierings, and replaces Henk Bles who has served as Interim Managing Director since April. Mr Bles is staying on in an advisory role for up to six months, ensuring a smooth leadership transition.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr van der Nagel had a considerable level of executive experience in internationally integrated dairy companies in emerging markets, and an impressive track record of driving operational excellence, working with multi-cultural teams, and managing large-scale international joint ventures. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

December 16, 2014

Largest ever control campaign knocks back predators:

The Department of Conservation’s largest ever aerial 1080 campaign to combat this year’s rat and stoat plague has successfully knocked down predator populations in key target areas.

Over the last four months, DOC has completed an unprecedented 25 aerial 1080 operations over about 550,000 hectares to combat the biggest beech seed-fuelled rodent plague seen in 15 years.

Rat numbers reached extreme levels at some sites but early results from the Battle for Our Birds 1080 programme show rat populations crashing giving much needed protection to breeding populations of vulnerable native birds and bats. (see attached graph). . .

EPA 1080 annual report released:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has released its seventh annual report on the aerial use of 1080. Findings are again consistent with previous years. The 1080 regime is working as intended with the benefits of using 1080 being seen while the risks are minimised.

1080, also known as sodium fluoroacetate, is used to control animal pests such as possums, rabbits, stoats and rats, to reduce the impacts on native animals and plants, and to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis. Aerial application uses aircraft to distribute baits and is considered by users to be a key advantage where pest control is undertaken on rugged or remote land. . .

 Farmhand graduate praises training – Sally Rae:

”Oh, mate, I’m just overwhelmingly chuffed,” a delighted Emma Hollamby said after graduating from the inaugural Farmhand training programme.

Ms Hollamby was among the first intake of the pilot programme, which was launched in Dunedin in September.

The programme, which ran for 12 weeks, aimed to expose the city’s disengaged youth to rural work opportunities. . . 

Allflex acquisition set to help Australasian producers:

Allflex, the worldwide market leader in animal identification products, has announced a $250 million dollar acquisition of livestock monitoring and intelligent milking solutions company, SCR Engineers Ltd.

Based in Israel, SCR Engineers is highly regarded across the globe for its cutting-edge cow-monitoring systems, which gather data via activity and rumination sensors.

High-tech analysis then converts the data into real-time reports to help monitor individual animals as well as provide reliable data around herd performance. . .

Dairy prices end 2014 low, in contrast to where they started the year:

Beef prices end 2014 still flying high

The Reserve Bank delivers an early Christmas present

It’s a mixed end to 2014 according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report, with dairy prices low compared to the high prices at the start of the year.

“Beef prices, on the other hand, are providing farmers with some festive joy and are currently 23 percent higher than last Christmas,” explains ASB Rural Economist Nathan Penny. “Lamb prices peaked ahead of the previous two seasons this year, although prices have softened recently.” . . .

Seeka announces record returns for Class 2 kiwifruit into Australia:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Ltd (NZX:SEK) has delivered record returns to growers from its SeekaFresh programmes, primarily into Australia, the company said today.

In its latest grower forecast, Seeka said that Class 2 returns per Class 1 tray averaged $0.24 for Hayward Green (conventional) and $0.50 for Hayward Green (organic) in 2014, well up on last year and significantly ahead of industry average forecasts of $0.14 for conventional and $0.16 for organic green. The season also saw record returns for SeekaFresh-marketed avocados and kiwiberries.

“Lean overhead cost structures plus an Australia programme directed at major retailers rather than wholesalers, supported by promotions, planning and quality, have delivered Seeka growers record returns,” said Seeka chief executive Michael Franks. . .

Move to protect farm information:

Farmers can be more confident their information is being protected as organisations handling their data sign up to a new code of practice.

DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries have funded development of the new Farm Data Code of Practice and associated data standards through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), with a contribution from FarmIQ Systems in the first year and co-funding from the Red Meat Profit Partnership this year.

The funding organisations are all involved in PGP programmes that focus on innovation in farming and food processing, and as part of this they are driving new developments in farm data recording, storage, analysis and reporting. This led to awareness of the need for a code to guide fair behaviour and standards to get consistency. . .

Determining the origin of insect pests:

Researchers in the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University are developing a new way to reveal the birthplace of unwanted insect pests – information that is vital for managing pest incursions. . .

Despite stringent biosecurity measures, unwanted insects occasionally arrive in New Zealand from overseas in shipping containers and imported goods. If these pests breed and spread, they could have a huge impact on agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the environment. . .

Pinpointing the birthplace of an exotic insect pest is crucial for determining whether it is an isolated ‘hitchhiker’ or part of an established breeding population. This knowledge is helpful for biosecurity agencies, such as the Ministry for Primary Industries, to decide the best approach for dealing with an incursion. . .

Fyfe Joins Craggy Range – Strategic role supports winery’s global growth:

Craggy Range today announces that Icebreaker CEO Rob Fyfe is joining the award winning winery in a newly created position of strategic advisor reporting to the board and CEO Michael Wilding.

Mr Fyfe has been working in a consultancy capacity with Craggy Range, for more than 12 months. The move formalises his involvement with the winery that was recently named the New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.

A former CEO of Air New Zealand, Mr Fyfe says his long-standing passion for businesses and NZ brands are behind his decision to accept the role. . .

Origin Earth Drops Price of Milk:

Local boutique dairy company Origin Earth has announced a reduction in the price of their 2 litre bottles of milk.

Origin Earth director, Joanie Williams said “The price that we pay for our raw milk is inextricably linked with the price that farmers receive from Fonterra.”

She went on to say, “As you will be aware Fonterra has reduced its forecast payout for the coming season which in turn has the reduced the cost of our raw milk. As a result we are pleased to be able to pass this cost saving on our Hawke’s Bay customers and as from today, 12 December 2014, the recommended retail price for our 2 litre bottles of milk drops from $5.80 to $5.50. We also feel that this price drop will put our all natural whole milk within reach of even more customers and look forward to welcoming these new customers to enjoying milk the way it used to be.” . . . 

Origin Earth produces Hawke’s Bay’s own Chocolate Milk:

Origin Earth’s Chocolate Milk combines the popular Hawke’s Bay sourced Origin Earth cow’s milk with organic and fair trade chocolate and cocoa powder from Hawke’s Bay chocolatier La Petite Chocolat, then adds a dash of Hawke’s Bay honey and a drop of Heilala vanilla extract and that’s it. Just like our milk it is not homogenised, just pasteurised, and there are no thickeners, emulsifiers, milk powders, additives or stabilisers.

Chocolate and flavoured milks have long been Kiwi favourites and it was in response to requests from customers wanting a product made using Origin Earth milk that got Origin Earth director, Joanie Williams, into the testing room and trying out different combinations/recipes. . .

 Christmas ‘lights’ from Whitecliff:

Whitecliff’s newly released 2014 low alcohol wines give Kiwi wine drinkers a refreshing, low alcohol option, perfect for Christmas festivities and to help lighten up the season of excess.

Whitecliff low alcohol Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and low alcohol Pinot Gris 2014 are ideal wines for those people wanting to enjoy the festive season but still fulfil their New Year’s resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle.

Whether it is for a Boxing Day barbecue or a casual Christmas catch up with friends, these wines from the 2014 vintage offer reduced alcohol and calories without compromising on flavour. . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2014

Farming family demonstrate conservation message – Ann Warnock:

Dan Steele is a farmer, conservationist, competitive axeman, hunter, historian, lodge host, rugby fan and romantic who never dreamed he’d turn into a bird geek.

But at the age of 21, while wandering up the banks of the Kaiwhakauka Stream at Retaruke Station, his parents’ remote property on the Whanganui River, he spied a family of blue ducks (whio) and they unwittingly shaped the rest of his life.

“I love exploring and poking about up every stream; climbing every ridge. On this particular day I saw two adults with their five ducklings. The next time I saw them there were only three ducklings. Then there were none. I phoned the DOC ranger. They were endangered. It hit me; protecting the blue duck was part of the future of our land.” . . .

Boost for horticulture and viticulture industry:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse have announced plans for a new programme aimed at getting more Kiwis into seasonal work, alongside an increase to the annual RSE cap.

Mr Woodhouse says the need to raise the cap on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from 8000 to 9000 demonstrates the success of the RSE scheme.

“There’s no doubt that the growth in the horticulture and viticulture industry in the past few years would not have been possible without RSE, which has been widely praised locally and internationally,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“It has provided employers with a stable and reliable workforce and given them confidence to expand and invest in their business. RSE workers have also benefitted significantly from gaining invaluable work experience and being able to send money back to their communities at home.’’ . . .

NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme:

Domestic Pacific workers can be as successful as overseas Pacific workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries says Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
 
Mr Lotu-Iiga is encouraging employers to take up the New Zealand Seasonal Worker Scheme announced today by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. The scheme will provide pastoral care and other support to assist Kiwis into seasonal work. Mrs Bennett also announced an increase to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The scheme recruits seasonal workers from overseas to assist in the horticulture and viticulture industries where there are not enough New Zealand workers.
 
“I was in Marlborough in the weekend speaking to employers, Pacific RSE workers and domestic Pacific workers and I saw first-hand the benefits of Pacific people working in the wine industry,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga. . .

Pork industry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The Government and the commercial pork industry have committed to a partnership to strengthen biosecurity, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by New Zealand Pork at its annual conference today.

“This enables New Zealand Pork and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response activities. It means we can focus on the areas of greatest priority to the pork industry,” Mr Guy says.

“What it means in practice is a stronger, more effective biosecurity system. Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding. . .

– Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about PGG Wrightson and the challenges it faces. For their seeds division there are clear strategic options, but for the farm services division, the long term strategy remains challenging. Part of the reason is the competition they are facing from the farm services co-operatives, with Farmlands now dominant in the sector.

Farmlands has 56,000 members and an annual turnover exceeding $2 billion. This is more than double the New Zealand farm services revenue of its major investor-owned competitor, PGG Wrightson. The aim of Farmlands is to keep prices low for its members. This ensures that its investor-oriented competitor also has to keep its margins low. . . .

The truth about grassfed beef – The Food Revolution Network:

A lot of people today, horrified by how animals are treated in factory farms and feedlots, and wanting to lower their ecological footprint, are looking for healthier alternatives. As a result, there is a decided trend toward pasture-raised animals. One former vegetarian, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, says he now eats meat, but only “grassfed and organic and sustainable as possible, reverentially and deeply gratefully, and in small amounts.”

Sales of grassfed and organic beef are rising rapidly. Ten years ago, there were only about 50 grassfed cattle operations left in the U.S. Now there are thousands.

How much difference does it make? Is grassfed really better? If so, in what ways, and how much? . . .

New Zealand Meat Exports October 2013 to June 2014:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for the first nine months of the 2013-14 meat export season (1 October 2013 to 30 June 2014).

[All monetary values are in New Zealand dollars.]

Summary

Despite the high New Zealand dollar, particularly during the main export months of January to June, there was an increase in the average value for lamb, mutton and beef/veal. A smaller national lamb crop flowed through to reduced lamb export volumes. However, for only the fourth time in history, lamb exports exceeded $2 billion Free On Board (FOB) in the first nine months of a season.  . . .

New veterinary resource to manage disease in cattle associated with Theileria:

A new veterinary handbook on Theileria, developed by the Theileria Working Group and published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), will help to ensure that veterinarians and their farmer clients are well prepared to manage the expected spring upsurge in infections with this important, new parasite of cattle.

The number of affected farms is expected to exceed those reported in the last two years with nearly 700 beef and dairy herds testing positive so far, with about a third of these occurring in the North Island this year.  . .

 Brown Re-Elected as Council Chairman for Third Term, Duncan Coull New Deputy Chair:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown has today been re-elected unopposed to the position for a third term.

Ian Brown: “I appreciate the support I continue to receive from Councillors and look forward to leading the Council for a further 12 months.”

Mr Brown is joined by first time Deputy Chair, Duncan Coull, also elected unopposed, who will take up his new role on 29 July for a 12 month term.
Mr Coull was elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and serves as the Chair of the Council’s Representation Committee. . . .


Who’s putting jobs and people first?

June 20, 2014

The government is to introduce special legislation to enable the recovery of high value native timber blown over in Cyclone Ita on West Coast public conservation land, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced.

“We need to take a pragmatic approach and enable the timber to be recovered where it can be done so safely and with minimal environmental impact. This initiative will provide welcome jobs and economic opportunities for the West Coast at a difficult time, and will provide a financial return to DOC that can be reinvested in conservation work,” Dr Smith says.

Cyclone Ita hit the West Coast on 17 April this year and caused the worst windfall damage in generations, felling an estimated 20,000 hectares of forest and causing significant damage to a further 200,000 hectares.

The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, national parks, ecological areas and the white heron sanctuary reserve at Whataroa. Authorisations are only to be issued where the Department’s Director-General is satisfied the proposed method of removing the timber is safe for workers and the public, and minimises environmental impacts. The recovery of timber is limited until 1 July 2019 when the Bill expires. All revenue from royalties will go to the Department of Conservation.

“A law change is needed because the current Conservation Act makes no provision for timber recovery in this sort of extreme event. The Bill will be introduced and passed by Parliament next week under urgency. This is necessary because the large volumes of beech timber will soon deteriorate with sap stain and borer. I am grateful for the common sense support from the United Future and Māori Parties that are enabling Parliament to quickly resolve this issue.

“It is estimated that several million cubic metres of beech, rimu, matai, totara and miro trees have been felled. Stumpage prices for rimu are $250 per cubic metre, and $60 per cubic metre for beech. It is not possible to estimate the volume and value of timber to be extracted because the safety and environmental constraints may require high cost options like the use of helicopters. This law change will enable the detailed work to be done by operators on recovery proposals so as to determine where recovery is viable and safe.

“It may be appropriate to consider a permanent change to the Conservation Act to enable windblown timber in these sorts of situations to be recovered in future, but I am reluctant to do so with urgent legislation of this sort. The Department of Conservation will be commissioning research on the effects on forest regrowth and ecology by comparing similar windblown areas where timber has and has not been recovered to help make a long-term policy decision on this issue.

“It is a tragedy that so much forest has been wrecked by Cyclone Ita but no good purpose is served by leaving it all to rot. The wood will displace some of the $65 million of tropical hardwoods we import each year and give New Zealanders access to our own beautiful native timbers,” Dr Smith concluded.

The move has the support of the Maori Party:

The Māori Party is thrilled that urgent legislation is to be passed by Parliament to allow for the recovery of native timber that has fallen onto West Coast public conservation land as a result of Cyclone Ita. Co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell joined Dr Nick Smith on the West Coast today to make the special announcement.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the West Coast at a time where the community has had to bear the brunt of the storm. This legislation will open up long-term employment and commercial opportunities for the community and I am proud to be part of today’s announcement,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“The Māori Party support this initiative because we see it as a way for the West Coast to take a silver lining from the storm that hit their community on April 17 this year and caused the most devastating windfall damage in decades.”

“Had we not supported the legislation, the timber would have deteriorated and lost its commercial value. In particular, beech sapwood must be recovered within a month before sap stain fungi and beech borer begin to destroy the value of the timber, which is why there is a need for urgency. The felled rimu can be recoverable for up to five years, providing opportunities for long-term employment,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“Of course, the safety of the workers will be of paramount importance and authorisations to remove timber will require that the operators provide health and safety plans to show their removal methods would be safe for both the workers and the public. The legislation also provides for public exclusion from areas while timber recovery operations are taking place for their own protection.”

“Ngāi Tahu has expressed their support in principle for the opportunities presented by the legislation and we will support their preference for opportunities for the harvesting of the wind-blown timber and its proceeds to be reinvested into the West Coast community. We will also seek to ensure that the recovery is undertaken in a manner that respects and addresses any environmental and cultural matters of concern that the iwi may have.”

“While we are sad to see that so much native timber has been blown over by Cyclone Ita, we are delighted that Ngāi Tahu and the rest of the West Coast community will benefit from the passing of this legislation,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the timber recovery is the logical response:

. . . “It is very unfortunate so many trees were blown down in this storm but there is just no benefit in leaving the timber to rot” said Mr Dunne.

Parliament will consider urgent, special legislation to enable the recovery of the high value native timber.

UnitedFuture will support The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill which confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, National Parks, Ecological Areas and the White Heron colony.

“This timber recovery plan is the common sense, practical, and logical response to a natural process.

“I am satisfied by the environmental protections and health and safety regulations to which operators will be subject when the timber is removed.

“This will ensure that the West Coast’s unique environment will be protected” said Mr Dunne.

“New Zealand’s hardwood is some of the most beautiful in the world and I am pleased Parliament will enable New Zealanders to access it rather than leaving it to rot” he said.

Former Former Westland Mayor and now National Party candidate Maureen Pugh approached the Minister and asked that permission be given for logging:

. . . “It just seems like a very practical solution to an event that’s happened,” says Ms Pugh.

She says the logs, which are a mixture of rimu, totara and beech, could be worth up to $50,000 each. . . .

The proposal’s being welcomed on the coast – Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says it makes sense as it has the potential to create money. . . .

this is a very good example of a candidate being proactive for the people who’s support she’s seeking.

Contrast that with the Green Party which doesn’t attempt to win electorates and therefore doesn’t have to worry what’s best for the people in them:

 . . . the Greens say it would require a law change and they’d never support it.

“Generations of New Zealanders campaigned to protect West Coast forests – allowing trees to be taken from timber would completely cut across that,” says Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage. . . .

Nature dealt the trees the killing blow.

If they are left where they are they’ll rot.

There is a small window of opportunity to recover the fallen trees which will provide work and replace imported timber.

It will be done with safeguards for workers and the environment and all profits will go to the Department of Conservation to fund more conservation work.

But once more the Green Party will put politics and its own blinkered ideology before people and jobs.


Let’s look at all public land

June 16, 2014

Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) have launched a campaign to get better protection for  conservation stewardship lands. 

” . . . They are our Forgotten Lands and make up most of the land managed by DOC outside of our national parks and reserves. They include magnificent mountains, forests and coastal areas that we should expect to be safe, such as The Remarkables near Queenstown and the Coromandel Peninsula forests”, said FMC President, Robin McNeill.

Stewardship lands make up 30% of all the land managed by DOC and they have been overlooked by politicians since DOC was formed in 1987.

“In the last few years, Meridian Energy came close to drowning the Mokihinui Valley;Bob Robertson wanted to bulldoze his way through the Snowdon Forest for a monorail and Solid Energy started to mine the Denniston Plateau”, said Mr McNeill. “Because they are not in national parks or reserves, businesses wrongly think they aren’t valuable. Some of these lands should be in national parks”. . .

He could be right, it’s possible some of that land should be in National Parks.

But it’s also possible some land in National Parks shouldn’t be and that some land under DOC management shouldn’t be in public ownership.

It would be good to have a comprehensive look at all publicly owned land and determine whether it has conservation or other values which justify continued public ownership or whether it could be sold.

The money gained from the sale could be put to better use such as taking better care of land which ought to remain publicly owned.


100% kill in rat trap trial

March 3, 2014

Good news from DOC:

In wonderful news for birdlife, NZ developed automatic rat traps have totally eliminated predator rat populations during large-scale Department of Conservation (DOC) trials in native New Zealand bush.

Results just in from large-scale DOC trial sites confirm that the patented automatic trap technology developed by local company Goodnature has successfully reduced rat populations to undetectable levels.

Recent monitoring at the two large scale trial sites by DOC field personnel confirmed zero percent (0%) rat monitoring rates indicating rat populations in these areas had been completely eliminated.

The unprecedented 0% rat detection results contrasted with monitoring results on the adjacent comparison sites which showed that rat populations outside the automatic trap trial area continued to thrive.

This is excellent news at a time when the predicted rat population explosion threatens native birdlife in New Zealand forests. Kiwi innovation has produced another potent weapon in the war on pests and, importantly, a further option in the armoury which is toxin free and cost effective to deploy.

“The DOC trial results are consistent with what our customers in other parts of the world are achieving with our traps” says Stu Barr, director of Goodnature who make and supply the A24 automatic resetting traps. “The traps are reducing rat populations well below the level where our vulnerable and endangered species can rebound. We’ve taken the pressure off the birds and put it back on the rats.”

While being used effectively in New Zealand for rat, stoat and possum control, farther afield, Goodnature is applying its technology to pests in more than 15 countries. As well as widespread success in rat control around the world, automatic resetting traps to control introduced mongoose in Hawaii and mink in Scandinavia are in development.

Powered by a small compressed CO2 canister the commercially successful Goodnature traps automatically reset themselves after striking a pest and can kill up to 24 rats before the canister needs to be replaced. The multiple-kill traps include an effective long-life rodent lure which attracts rats to the trap.

“The traps are mostly known for our automatic resetting and multi kill technology but, just like fishing, an irresistible bait is critical to get a catch. This latest trial result shows how effective our rodent lure is in the field” said Stu Barr.

Pest control tools which can wipe out predator populations and sustain them at low numbers are critical to ongoing pest control efforts on public conservation land and efforts by the wider conservation community. The sustained control of predators allows native bird species to successfully breed and increase their populations.

“These rat kill results are very promising. It is a significant step towards having a better and more effective trapping option for predator control in New Zealand.” DOC Deputy Director General Kevin O’Connor commented.

Research and development of automatic resetting traps was originally initiated by Goodnature with DOC in 2006 to strengthen New Zealand’s ability to control pests at times when existing ground based networks using traditional tools would get overwhelmed at times when predator numbers rise rapidly. . .

The traps won’t be able to be used everywhere but they look like a good option where they can be used.


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