Rural round-up

26/03/2013

Station owner hunts hunters – Matthew Littlewood:

A South Canterbury high country farmer is offering a $20,000 reward for any information about suspected illegal helicopter-hunting activities on his property.

Donald Aubrey, of Ben McLeod Station in the headwaters of the Rangitata River, said the most recent incident occurred in the headwaters of the neighbouring Hewson River on March 22.

He said yesterday the reward would be “payable for any information that enables the prosecution and future prevention of those responsible”.

“Apart from the obvious intention to shoot wild game, pilots are typically unaware of the impact they have on sheep,” Mr Aubrey said. . .

NZ seen as agribusiness beacon – Sally Rae:

Damien McLoughlin has a simple message for New Zealand’s agricultural sector – it needs a pat on the back.

Prof McLoughlin, professor of marketing and associate dean at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, in Ireland, co-led the Queenstown Agribusiness Symposium last week.

The symposium, hosted by Dunedin-based agribusiness consulting and new ventures company AbacusBio Ltd, attracted about 50 people from throughout New Zealand. . .

Synlait stock to trade on unlisted platform:

Synlait Farms, the Canterbury dairy farmer whose owners tried unsuccessfully to raise funds for its milk processing associate in a 2009 IPO, is to have its stock quoted on the Unlisted platform starting tomorrow.

The company runs 12,970 cows on 13 farms in Canterbury.

The listing is to “provide options to enhance liquidity to shareholders”, founder Juliet Maclean says. “Synlait Farms is now well positioned to consider further expansion options.” . . .

Greater innovation needed – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand could miss out on opportunities in the global market if it does not become a more effective innovator, Synlait Farms’ chief executive Juliet Maclean says.

Farmers were fantastic with coming up with ‘number 8 wire’ ideas. But she questioned if farmers were taking good ideas and applying them to their farm businesses to gain better outcomes.

“That’s what innovation is all about,” she said at a field day to celebrate the company winning the 2012 South Island Farmer of the Year.

The day was held at Synlait Farms’ Hororata property, Robindale Dairies. . .

Huge potential in tools – Gerald Piddock:

Precision agriculture is an industry that is still maturing, but has huge potential to benefit New Zealand agriculture, 2012 Nuffield scholar Michael Tayler says.

His report, New Technologies in Arable Farming, identified precision agriculture as a technology that would play a big part in New Zealand’s agricultural future.

Farmers were going to have to turn to new ways of fine tuning their crop management as they faced tighter environmental regulations, he said in his report.

Advances in precision agriculture would enable farmers to more accurately record placement of the fertilisers and pesticides creating more accountability and traceability. . .

Callaghan Innovation Co-Funding Enables Large Herd Trials For Kahne:

Kahne Animal Health (Kahne) today announced that Callaghan Innovation will co-fund a large-herd testing project for their world-first sensor-based wireless monitoring systems used to track health and fertility in cows.

Callaghan Innovation will provide $1 million towards testing the biotelemetry-based rumen and fertility monitoring devices which measure temperature, pH levels and identify oestrus indicators in cows. The devices track and transmit data to provide farmers with health alerts and reports to help with the early detection of health problems, effectiveness of nutrition management, disorders that could impact fertility, and accurate oestrus detection.

Kahne Chief Executive, Susanne Clay, said while there is a global market for the technology, the company has given priority to the local market to help Kiwi farmers solve livestock issues to drive efficiencies that impact their bottom lines. . .

Trust as much as science is at the heart of water management – Chris Arbuckle:

For many years now “Water User Groups” (WUG’s) have done a great job implementing community-based water management initiatives. And they have achieved this with the assistance of organizations such as the Landcare Trust, Crown Research Institutes, non-government agencies and regional councils. Projects on the Waituna Lagoon, Upper Taieri River and Aorere Catchment attest to this. They were formed because a community of people desired practical action to address concerns about environmental change. Usually a champion has encouraged a group of interested people to form around an issue to seek a solution. In the main this is all done voluntarily, for the well-being of the water resource and community, and by someone with great charisma to drive it through.

Of the three main recommendations in the Government’s “Freshwater Reform 2013 and beyond” [http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/water/freshwater-reform-2013/index.html] (national objectives framework; collaborative community planning (CCP); managing within quality and quantity limits using best industry practices); the collaborative planning bit clearly represents the biggest challenge. Without this working the other two recommendations lose their effectiveness. . . .

Thai Prime Minister Sees Fonterra’s Quality Processes First Hand:

Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday met with Fonterra Co-operative Group Chairman John Wilson for a tour of a South Auckland dairy farm and also visited the Co-operative’s Te Rapa manufacturing site.

The visit was an opportunity for Mr Wilson to further strengthen the company’s relationship with Thailand, where it is the number one supplier of dairy ingredients.

Mr Wilson said Fonterra was honoured to host Ms Shinawatra and provide her, and the Thai trade delegation with a deeper understanding of their business, and the New Zealand dairy industry. . .


Three seek Feds’ vice-presidency

22/06/2011

Four men announced last week they are competing to replace retiring Federated Farmers’ president Don Nicolson and now three are vying for the vice-presidency:

“It is somewhat unprecedented to have four presidential nominations and now three for Vice-President,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive and Returning Officer.

“There is a considerable amount of interest in all elected positions. Given the Federation is a membership based organisation, this is a tangible demonstration of vitality and our strong democratic basis.

“It is believed to be the largest number of candidates seeking the two most senior elected offices in over 66 years of Federated Farmers modern history.

I hope that it is a demonstration of vitality because as I wrote last week this many people competing for the top jobs could also be a sign of division.

That wouldn’t be good for the Federation, its members and the wider rural sector who all need a united voice.

Presidential nominees are: Donald Aubrey of Ben McLeod Station, who is vice-president; Frank Brenmuhl of Christchurch, a former Federated Farmers dairy section chair; Lachlan McKenzie of Rotorua who is dairy spokesman; and Bruce Wills of Napier, current meat and fibre spokesman.

The three seeking the vice-presidency are Dr William Rolleston of Timaru, David Rose from Invercargill and Matamata’s Stewart Wadey.


Four candidates – sign of strength or division?

15/06/2011

Four men are vying to become Federated Farmers’ president when Don Nicolson retires at the end of the month.

“This will be the first contested election for the position of President since the early 1990’s,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive and Returning Officer.

“It is believed to be the largest number of candidates seeking the office of President in Federated Farmers history.

When so many voluntary organisations are struggling for members and finding people willing to become office holders is increasingly difficult, this could be seen as a sign of the organisation’s strength.

But it could also be a sign of division in the Federation.

I hope it’s not the latter. Farmers and the wider rural community need a strong and united voice and that requires an organisation focussed on issues of concern to members not one side-tracked by internal manoeuvring.

The nominees are: Donald Aubrey of Ben McLeod Station, who is vice-president;  Frank Brenmuhl of Christchurch, a former Federated Farmers dairy section chair; Lachlan McKenzie of Rotorua who is dairy spokesman;  and Bruce Wills of Napier, current meat and fibre spokesman.


Canada Geese from protected to pest

19/03/2011

Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson’s announcement that permits will no longer be required for the shooting of Canada Geese is a welcome one.

“As the population of Canada geese continues to increase so does their risk to aviation safety and the damage they inflict to pasture and crops,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“The current status where the geese populations are managed as a game bird is not working.

“Farmers have been getting increasingly frustrated with these birds fouling pasture and damaging crops.

“They also pose an aviation hazard due to their large size and this change will allow for the birds to be more effectively controlled where they pose a risk to aircraft safety.”

Ms Wilkinson says there are tens of thousands of Canada geese across the country and recreational hunting opportunities will remain.

“I expect Fish and Game to continue to work with landowners to assist with managing populations around the country.

“The geese are well established and on top of that farmers will have an incentive to provide hunting access to reduce their goose control costs.”

Fish and Game isn’t happy:

But Fish & Game is calling the decision an “own goal” for Federated Farmers, which lobbied for the change.

“The small group within Federated Farmers who lobbied the minister so hard on this issue will probably spin this as a win,” says chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“Ironically though, the minister’s decision will foist the considerable expense of goose control onto their membership and, indeed, all farmers if the expected push for ratepayer-funded regional councils to take responsibility for control happens.”

This just shows how little Fish & Game knows about farmers, many of whom are forced to fund the organisation through hunting and fishing licences.

Federated Farmers is pleased that Canada Geese have been removed from the protected species list and can now be regarded as the pest they are.

“Federated Farmers has long been campaigning for the Canada Goose to be declared a pest. It’s not native, it spoils the environment and is even an air traffic hazard,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.

“Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson’s announcement was inevitable, the population was getting out of control. For example, South Island Canada Goose Management Plan in 1995 set a population limit of 20,350. In 2008 that figure was 35,000.

“We applaud her for having the courage to make this decision after five years of consideration and following extensive lobbying by Federated Farmers.

“The Canada Goose was introduced to New Zealand as a game bird and has provided many landowners with nothing but trouble. It puts huge pressure on the environment, damaging crops, spoiling waterways with excrement and outcompeting native birds for resources.

“It adds thousands of dollars to the costs of doing business in the South Island especially.

“This ruling finally allows farmers to defend themselves against Canada Geese.

Christchurch Airport also supports the change in the birds’ status:

Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has come out in support of the change in protection status of Canada Geese.

“This bird is a hazard to aircraft,” said CIAL Chief Executive Jim Boult. “Canada Geese are large and cumbersome birds which can cause a great deal of damage if they collide with aircraft.”

Jim Boult pointed out that the Canada Geese population had steadily increased in Christchurch city over the last few years, which raised the risk of bird strike to aircraft. “We want to keep the population of Canada Geese to manageable levels, which will help keep the airspace as clear as possible.”

Fish and Game’s management of the species allowed the bird population to grow.

Airports, councils and farmers can now declare open season on the pest to make airspace safer and reduce the negative impacts the birds have on the environment through pollution of waterways, competition with native species and damage to crops.


Exclusive use can benefit environment

12/01/2011

Federated Farmers makes a stand for landowners in saying that fishing rights shouldn’t trample property rights:

Federated Farmers will defend a fundamental principle of land ownership – the right to exclude access – even if some anglers may have to choose to pay for convenient access.

“Federated Farmers agrees that selling river fishing rights is against the law,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.

“Yet all landowners have the right to exclude access to their land by people who are uninvited, whether you live in the town or the country.

Few people would expect to have open access to a section in town, it doesn’t make any difference in the country just because the property is bigger.

“What this boils down to is common courtesy and respect for the property of others.  I know many farmers who freely grant access for recreational hunting or fishing but it’s based on the common courtesy of asking permission first. 

“A farm may be open ground but its also private property like someone’s house in-town.  Importantly it’s also a working environment that may contain sensitive areas or hazards.  Taking rather than securing permission is not only illegal but may have unintended adverse consequences.

“Anglers need to respect the right of the landowner to grant or refuse access.  After all, if you’ve had your gates left open, fences damaged or discarded fishing line left behind, then you’re probably less inclined to say yes. . .

We have never had any problems with people who’ve asked permission to cross or property but we have had problems with those who don’t – including theft of fuel, illegal hunting and damage to a security camera.

Donald was responding to comments from anglers criticising landowners who grant exclusive access to fishing guides which was the subject of a post on Monday.

Over at Offsetting Behaviour, Eric Crampton points out there can be environmental benefits from exclusive access:

One of my favourite Kiwi enviropreneurs is Elm Wildlife Tours down in Dunedin. I always recommend that folks visiting the Department book in with them if heading that way. Elm partnered with a local farmer whose land had Yellow-Eyed Penguin habitat: Elm gets exclusive access for its tour groups and works to improve the habitat. Making the resource excludable encourages conservation.

Maintaining and enhancing natural resources takes money and this is an excellent way to control access, for the sake of the landowner and the penguins, and ensure the habitat is looked after.

Landowners are charging for access, not for fishing, although if the only way to the river is through a farm it’s a distinction which makes no difference. Those complaining about that ought to remember it’s not only private landowners who charge. DoC sells concessions to tourist operators who use  land under their control and they also sell the right to hunt on it.

We neighbour a DoC block and the easiest access is through our property. We’ve never charged anyone who’s asked to cross our land although that increases the need for maintenance on our tracks.

But charging by DoC is a sensible form of user pays – those who make money from others or enjoy hunting  on DoC  land pay for the privilege which helps offset the cost of maintenance and enhancement.


Tragic reinforcement of need for quad bike action

09/11/2010

Less than a week after Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson launched a campaign aimed at reducing the toll from quad bike accidents on farms there’s been a tragic reinforcement of the need for it.

A young farmhand on a Landcorp farm in Buller died yesterday after being pinned under the four wheeler she’d been riding.

I doubt if there’s a farm with a quad which hasn’t been invovled in an accident of some sort.

We’ve had some near misses  – two of our staff have ended up in the irrigation dam – fortunately both times on top of the quad not underneath it;  several have come off when bikes went out of control and one worker broke a leg when she rolled the four wheeler.

RivettingKate Taylor also has a list of quad bike accidents.

The safety campaign will focus on four basic safety steps:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Ensure riders are trained/experienced
  • Don’t let children ride adult quad bikes (over 90cc)
  • Choose the right vehicle for the job – pay close attention to what your quad bike owner’s manual says about carrying passengers, and the maximum towing and carrying limits. 
  • Federated Farmers supports the campaign:

    “It’s been a while since we had a coordinated ATV safety programme like this and it’s most welcome,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers Vice-President and Chair of the Agricultural Health and Safety Council, who was represented at the launch, by Stew Wadey, Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president.

    “The lesson we’ve learnt is that safety education is not a one-off exercise, due to the natural turnover of farm workers.  It needs to be on-going just like it is with road safety.

    “Like with road safety we see it as education and training led.  Prosecution, the ultimate DoL sanction, is like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.  This is about preventing accidents occurring in the first place.

    “Federated Farmers, the Agricultural Health and Safety Council and FarmSafe are all fully behind the DoL on this and genuinely commend the Department for its efforts.

    “ATV’s have become the farmer’s ‘Swiss Army knife’, being horse, trail bike and light tractor all in one.  This multi-use nature of ATV’s can see them pushed beyond their design limits

    Everyone who rides a four wheeler needs to follow the basic safety steps promoted by the campaign to reduce the risk of another four wheel tragedy.

    Licences will be required for people who operate quads from next year, a move supported by FarmSafe chair Charlie Pedersen:

    Pedersen believed a licence offered farmers an affordable and simple means of ensuring they were employing staff at a certain standard of ATV ability.

    “It will probably cost around the same as a gun licence and last for around 10 years.

    “There will have to be evidence of some practical time done on a quad and the ATV Guidelines would be similar to a Road Code,” he said.

    The ATV licence would either be a requirement for new staff applying for a job or something employers contributed towards staff obtaining while in the job.

    “As an employer if I require them to have a licence then, as long as I provide a bike that is safe and a helmet to wear, I have done my utmost to meet health and safety regulations.”

    Requiring a licence will ensure people using quads are trained and may also help bring home the message about the need to take quad bike safety seriously.


    Why not farm weka?

    04/02/2010

    When Central Otago farmer Gerry Eckhoff was an Act MP he suggested changing the law to allow kiwi farming.

    He pointed out that farmed animals don’t number among the endangered species;  and it would be better for the future survival rate of the birds and relieve the taxpayer of a cost if farmers looked after kiwi than leaving their fate to DOC and nature.

    The idea of farming another native species, the weka, has now been raised by Roger Beattie.

    Federated Farmers is supportive. Game spokesman Donald Aubrey said:

    It’s ironic that the Chatham Islands take a far more enlightened view to the consumption of weka and to the farming of trout.  Crazily, despite having one of the world’s most easily farmed and popular fish to consume, mainland New Zealand treats an introduced species as being more of a native than our native eels.

    “It’s time to unleash our entrepreneurs, represented by Mr Beattie. Domesticating some native species – aquatic or terrestrial – actually removes pressure off the wild populations.

    “I see Roger Beattie as being in the same mould as the likes of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta’s Richard Taylor.  Those two were told a big budget Hollywood film would never be filmed in New Zealand but have proved the naysayers wrong.

    “Roger Beattie is told can’t but he replies can and without any subsidies too.  Let’s face it, if the weka was instead a turkey, it would make us look like one for not trying,” Mr Aubrey concluded. 

    I agree.

    We need to stop being precious about native species, it will be better for the birds and the economy.

    Trout aren’t native to New Zealand and the arguments against farming them hold as little water as those against farming weka.

    Offsetting Behaviour  is unimpressed that vague unease enables the idea to be vetoed and Roarprawn gives a guide to how some native birds taste.


    Feds don’t wear blue gumboots

    17/10/2009

    Federated Farmers is sometimes referred to as the National Party in gumboots.

    That has never been the case and nor should it be.

    Feds is there to look after the best interests of its members and the organisation couldn’t do that if it was aligned in any way with a political party.

    Any doubts over whether the organisation wears blue gumboots should have been dispelled by its actions this week.

    The organisation put a very strong submission against the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme

    “The ETS is world famous only in New Zealand. As the Wall Street Journal showed with several damning editorials, New Zealand is losing business credibility as investors increasingly look at us with incredulity,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers. . .

    “Federated Farmers made it clear to the Select Committee that the ETS should be repealed and replaced by non-punitive policy measures to transition New Zealand to a low-carbon economy.

    Feds is equally vehement in its opposition to proposed increases to ACC levies which could result in a 70% increase in farmers’ levies.

    “ACC’s bombshell will hurt farmers already struggling to make ends meet,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers ACC spokesperson.

    . . . Instead of significantly increasing levies, it is time the Government made some tough decisions. I realise some of those decisions may be politically unpopular, but ACC must be brought under control. . . “

    Feds would never protest as strongly if it was tied to National and it provides a more powerful voice for its members because of that.

    This is apparently lost on some unions which continue to tie themselves to Labour. As Colin Espiner blogged:

    But the conspiracy theory peddled by Labour and the EPMU (i.e. Labour) . . .

    And Kiwiblog commented:

    I can never work out if Labour is the political arm of the EPMU or if the EPMU is the industrial arm of Labour.

    The benefits of independence are also lost to the Service & Food Workers Union. An email sent to Kiwiblog shows merger discussions between the SFWU and Public Service Association ended over differences on political allegiance:

    The primary reason for doing so was the inability of both unions to reach sufficient agreement on the issue of political relationships and affiliations. Both unions have long standing and proud traditions on the issue of political relationships.

    The SFWU has a long standing affiliation status with the Labour party, is this week signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Green Party and has explored a formal relationship with the Maori Party. The PSA has an equally strong commitment to remaining non affiliated and independent of political parties.

    I don’t recall the PSA strongly opposing Labour and its policies but it is free to do so. However, it would be impossible for either the EPMU or SFWU to counter a Labour in the way Federated Farmers does with National and any other parties whose policies are in conflict with the best interests of farmers.

    Governments come and governments go. A lobby group which doesn’t commit itself to a party is better placed to deal with all parties whether they are in power or opposition. If it’s allied to a party the interests of  members will take second place to the group’s political allegiance.

     


    Feds vs Canada Geese

    08/10/2009

    Federated Farmers say Britain’s declaration of an open season on Canada Geese should provide the impetus for New Zealand to classify the birds as pest.

    “These fetid vermin defile crops, pasture, waterways and wildlife habitats,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers pest management spokesperson. 

    “In Britain, the birds pose a similarly significant threat. The wildlife advice body, Natural England, has now given farmers troubled by the geese permission to kill them with a shotgun or rifle, or trap them in a cage or net from January 1 2010.

    “Here in New Zealand, geese numbers are completely out-of-control and their excrement is having a serious impact on water quality and pasture growth. A single Canada goose produces more excrement than a sheep, with most of that ending up in our waterways.

    Fish and Game has a statutory obligation to control the birds’ population but hunters aren’t making a dent in the rising numbers.

    “In the South Island alone, geese numbers have climbed by an alarming 44 percent in just ten years. Fish and Game’s failure to publicly release the latest June count figures, as required under the South Island Canada goose management plan, is typical of its attempt to hide the pest’s increasing population figures.

    “I’m sure South Island farmers who witness these ‘winged rabbits’ munching through hectares of feed within hours would very much like to see those figures.

    “The Federation wants the Department of Conservation to go a step further than Natural England. We want Canada geese declared a fully fledged pest so farmers can destroy them without requiring an excuse.

    Conservation Minister, Tim Groser, is considering the status of Canada Geese and is expected to release his final decision soon.

    “I sincerely hope, for the good of the country, Minister Groser ensures this pest is correctly managed. At the very least, DoC should directly oversee Fish & Game’s management of the pest.”

    “Farmers, environmentalists and the country’s airports no longer have confidence in Fish & Game’s ability to manage Canada geese. “

    Britain has declared open season on ring-necked parakeets, monk parakeets from South America and Egyptian geese too on the grounds they pose some threat to wildlife, crops, public safety or public health, according to Natural England.


    Backbenches

    01/10/2009

    To get to an 8.30 meeting in Wellington this morning I could have got up at 4.45 (which thanks to daylight saving would have felt like 3.45), to drive for a couple of hours to fly from Timaru, fly back this evening and get home after 9pm.

    Instead I flew up yesterday and as a bonus was able to go to the Backbencher pub for the filming of Back Benches.

    Walking into a strange pub alone is a challenge for an introvert, but Matthew, a Young Nat, started chatting to me while I waited at the bar to order a drink, I then spotted David Farrar of Kiwiblog who was sitting with Will from goNZofreakpower. While I’m dropping names, we were joined by B.K. Drinkwater and a journo turned ministerial press secretary, whose name I won’t drop in case he prefers to remain anonymous.

    Federated Farmers President Don Nicolson was there with Dairy section chair Lachlan McKenzie and High Country chair Donald Aubrey.

    It’s parliamentary recess and the only MPs I spotted were those on the panel – Wairarapa MP John Hayes from National, United Future’s Peter Dunne and Labour’s Chris Chauvel.

    They discussed whether or not New Zealand should become a republic – all three said yes and Will also gave a a considered view in support of that.

    A discussion on cycling safety followed then Don got a soap box spot. He spoke on the ETS to which the people at the red tables showed their opposition.

    Labour MP Sue Moroney spoke on her plan to increase paid parental leave. That was supported by Peter Dunne & Chris Chauvel but John Hayes pointed out that when we’re already borrowing so much to keep the country going, increasing paid parental leave is unaffordable.

    A quiz question seeking the name of an MP went through several clues before a team effort at our table got it – David Farrar called out the answer and was presented with a photo of the Queen signed by the panelists. When asked what he’d do with it, he said he’d use it as a beer mat.

    There weren’t many opposing voices but mine was one of them. I oppose it on principle – it’s the only benefit which gives more to people who have most. Women on the maximum wage gets the maximum payment, those on the minimum gets the minimum and women who don’t work enough hours a week, if at all,  get nothing regardless of how low the family income is. It’s a benefit which isn’t based on need.

    Filming finished with the panelists speaking straight to camera. Peter Dunne patted himself on the back for extending daylight saving – I resisted the temptation to tackle him on that.

    I’ve watched the programme a couple of times, being there was much more fun.


    Fish & Game fee rise refused

    04/09/2009

    Associate Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has refused a request from Fish & Game for an increase in licence fees.

    She justified her decision on the grounds of the economic recession, and the zero increase in Department of Conservation hut fees and Lake Taupo fishery licence fees (administered by Doc).

    Fish & Game appealed and she reviewed her decision but still didn’t approve an increase.

    She acknowledged Fish and Game’s recommendations carried a great deal of weight, the increase was less than that sought last year and accepted some costs could not be controlled.

    However, she said Fish and Game could rely on reserves to cover any shortfalls during the year.

    Fish & Game’s chief executive Bryce Johnson was not impressed by this.

    Mr Johnson said the 2009-10 licence fee was below that required to meet the real costs of managing the sport fishery.

    “Erosion of reserves to a level where they no longer provide for good financial management will simply require greater fee increases in the future,” he said.

    He also warned that key priorities, such as protecting habitat for fish and public access, could be affected.

    I might have had some sympathy for this argument had Fish & Game not wasted their money challenging private property rights on pastoral lease land, against the advice of Crown Law.

    Federated Farmers made this point in applauding the minister’s decision. Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest management spokesperson said:

    “It is refreshing to have a Minister that is prepared to stand up to this statutory organisation and demand a higher standard of performance.

    “Over the years, we have seen Fish & Game undertake some reckless spending at the national level so I’m not surprised it is in need of further funding. I am only too happy that the Government has blocked its proposal to increase its licence fee from $105 to $109 for the 2009-10 season.

    “Even though Fish & Game’s national office was in possession of Crown law advice to the contrary, the hunting lobby still went ahead with its unsuccessful challenge to high country farmers’ exclusive possession of pastoral leasehold land. This is a sure sign of how irresponsible Fish & Game has become.

    “This failed attempt to by-pass all the work associated with walking access in the high country was a spiteful and damaging waste of the fishing and hunting license fee. . .

    Quite.

    It wasn’t only licence fees that were wasted, the Crown and pastoral lessees also wasted money defending the case.

    They haven’t learned from this either.

    After her initial refusal to increase fees, Fish and Game went to a public law specialist and she was “presented with a three- or four-page diatribe” asking her to review the decision.

    She questioned why Mr Johnson had not discussed the issue with her directly instead of spending anglers’ money on a legal decision.

    Fish & Game’s headquarters needs to forget get out of politics and lawyers’ offices and back to its core business which is where the licence fees ought to be directed. Having less money than they asked for might help them do this.


    Carter questions court action – Updated

    15/05/2009

    Agriculture Minister David Carter is questioning Fish & Game’s leadership  after its failed attempt to gain public access to pastoral lease land.

    “I seriously question the use of hunting and fishing licensing fees in taking this action, and I will be discussing this further with the Minister of Conservation.

    “I am concerned this divisive action was taken when there was no foundation for Fish and Game’s claim for greater public access to high country stations.

    “A pastoral lease gives the runholder the right to say who has access to their leasehold land. This is no different from private property owners,” says Mr Carter.

    “The fundamental duty of Fish and Game is to advocate for hunters and fishers, and to help enhance their relationship with rural landowners. . . “

    How refreshing to have a Minister who stands up for farmers and rightly questions whether Fish and Game should be using licence fees for its political and litigious campaigns.

    Anecdotal evidence from hunters and fishers suggest the Minister is more in touch with their concerns than the body their licence fees funds.

    This misguided court action was expensive for licence holders, tax payers and farmers and it’s not just money but goodwill that was wasted.

    UPDATE:

    Federated Farmers said the court action was a disaster:

    The challenge was a failed attempt to by-pass all the work associated with walking access and it is a spiteful and damaging waste of the fishing and hunting license fee money. . .

    “This decision brings relief for affected High Country farming families, as they now know Fish & Game members won’t be entitled to walk all over them,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers High Country chairman.

    Both Federated Farmers and the High Country Accord played an instrumental role in the formation and development of the Walking Access Commission.

    “We have contributed positively to the development of rules for public access that give pastoral leaseholders and their families security and certainty. Meanwhile, Fish & Game’s Executive has sadly played nothing but a negative and destructive role. . .

    “High Country pastoral leases impose strict conditions on us as farmers. The judgment acknowledges that leaseholders are responsible for much more than just grass.

    “It’s only right that farmers have the ability to control and manage access to such land. This decision enables pastoral leaseholders to operate a business and maintain authority over their property rights contained in their leases. 

    “The High Court’s judgement also recognises that pastoral leaseholders perform a stewardship role. In other words, we farm with the High Country and not against it. . .

    “Fish & Game chief executive, Bryce Johnston, now needs to take a long hard long look at his and his Council’s decision to waste a vast amount of license fee money on this challenge.

    “Federated Farmers consider it also time for the Government to look at the legislative privilege that enables Fish & Game to fund such frivolous litigation. This inappropriate use of license fee money should not go unchecked by Government,” Mr Aubrey concluded.

    High Country Accord chair Jonathon Wallis issued a media release in which he asked if the action was a misuse of funds.

    “Not just the huge amount of money farmers have been forced to direct into these proceedings away from rejuvenating our economy through expanding and maintaining agricultural production, but both the vast amount of tax payer funds that went into jointly defending it and the allocation of precious funds more commonly used for the protection and establishment of habitat for our fish and game.”

    “The latter are funds generated by the sale of Fish and Game licenses sold to hunters and anglers who for almost a century have respected the goodwill and relationships established between farmers and recreationalists regardless of it being a matter of privilege as opposed to right.”

    “The question also has to be asked whether this was not just a personal crusade by an executive distorted from the opinion of the general membership of Fish and Game itself.”

    Wallis said he allowed licensed duck shooters on to his property on opening morning because he wasn’t blaming them for the actions of the national council.

    Alf Grumble and The Bull Pen also post on the issue.


    Right to roam with firearms

    27/08/2008

    Fish and Game is seeking a High Court declaration challenging the right of farmers to restrict access to their properties.

    Federated Farmers High Country chairman Donald Aubrey says that would give people the right to wander at will with loaded firearms.

    “It appears to me that this action is to gain access to privately held land for Fish and Game members,” Mr Aubrey said.

    Mr Aubrey says farmers with pastoral leases, like any person who rents a home in New Zealand, has the right to exclude others and feel safe and secure in the place they pay rent for.

    “House tenants don’t expect other people to have 24 hour access to their homes. Why should it be any different for farmers? Even though the scale is different, the ramifications are not.

    “High country farming families have strong relationships with fishermen, hunters and other recreational users. This action by Fish and Game is likely to destroy this goodwill.

    Property rights do not vary with size and the fact that the Government owns it is irrelevant. No-one could wander round the section of a state house with a loaded firearm and the reasons which make that illegal also apply to farms, whether they are pastoral leasehold or freehold properties.

    Unfettered access, with or without firearms, could disturb stock and interfere with farmwork; and while most hunters are responsible people that doesn’t give them automatic access to other people’s properties.

    High country families are geographically isolated which provides more than enough challenges without allowing people to wander round their properties at will with firearms.


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