Rural round-up

18/12/2020

A near miss – Nigel Beckford:

A near-fatal accident completely changed Owen Gullery’s approach to life and farming. Now he’s alerting other farmers to the dangers of fatigue and burnout.

Owen contract milks 480 cows on a dairy farm near Cambridge. He’s been in the industry 20 years and loves ‘the daily challenges of farming – good and bad.’

“We’re having a good year, spring’s been kind to us in terms of weather – we’re not swimming round in mud. Everything’s tracking along nicely, the cows are doing well, it’s a nice property and good people.”

Which all sounds cruisy, doesn’t it? In fact, it turns out Owen’s lucky to be farming at all. A few years back a tractor accident almost claimed his life. It’s a moment he still vividly recalls. . . 

Paving the way for nurse practitioners – Annette Scott:

Raised in a farming family on Pitt Island, Tania Kemp’s upbringing had a huge impact on her career path as a rural nurse practitioner. She talked with her Annette Scott about bridging the rural health gap.

South Canterbury-based nurse practitioner Tania Kemp says rural health care needs to be promoted as a specialty area and not seen as the poor cousin to the glittering lights of urban medical practices.

Kemp has been recognised for her commitment and leadership in her drive to improve health care for rural communities.

The recipient of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network 2020 Peter Snow Memorial Award says the inequities of the rural health statistics urgently need addressing. . . 

IrrigationNZ honours Canterbury farmer – John Donkers:

Former IrrigationNZ chair John Donkers has long been involved in the politics of water with his many years of service to the industry recently honoured by the organisation. He talked with Annette Scott about his interest in water and irrigation.

Honorary membership of Irrigation New Zealand recognises outstanding contribution to the organisation and the 2020 honour has been awarded to South Canterbury farm consultant John Donkers.

A farmer and dairy farm consultant for more than 25 years, with involvement in IrrigationNZ since 2003, Donkers has a good understanding of how Canterbury’s water runs.

His initial interest stems from farming in central Canterbury and the need to understand the groundwater network. . . 

Dairy’s record milksolids production in a challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication released today shows another record year for New Zealand’s dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kilograms of milksolids (kg MS). This is a 0.6 percent increase in milksolids from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381 kg MS last season to 385 kg MS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5 per cent from the previous season. This is again down significantly from peak cow numbers in 2014/15, which were at over 5 million. . . 

New analysis highlights dairy’s economic contribution:

The dairy sector is encouraged by today’s GDP results that emphasise New Zealand’s economic rebound amid Covid-19.

The dairy sector is playing a key role in a stable economy, contributing nearly one in every four dollars earned from total goods exports and services in the year to September 2020.

Recent Sense Partners analysis, for DairyNZ and DCANZ, shows the sector is delivering $20 billion in export value.

“Today’s GDP rebound may be a short-term benefit from the recovery in retail spending, wage subsidy and a hot housing market. So, it is important we don’t forget to focus on export-led growth moving forward,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. . .

Careers in horticulture look bright for Northlanders :

A local horticulture expo and ‘speed meet’ attracted more than 200 people from across Northland and the North Island last Wednesday.

Held at the Cornerstone Church in Kerikeri, the speed meet matched jobseekers with Northland growers needing workers for the season, training providers and career advisors.

Bruce Campbell, a Director on the Horticulture New Zealand board, says in the current environment, industry led events like this are critical for growers, and for those looking for immediate employment or to build a new career for themselves. . . 


Rural round-up

05/11/2020

Time to recognise farmers for their sequestration?:

Sheep and beef farmers are arguing their operations are close to carbon neutral.

But it is not counted in New Zealand’s ETS system.

So should they be getting formal recognition?

 In the first study of its kind, spacial analysis mapping of sheep and beef farms has revealed significant levels of  woody vegetation. . . 

Farmers increasingly using taylor-made environment plans – Fonterra :

Fonterra says 34 percent of its farmers now have tailored farm environment plans, up from 23 percent at the start of the year.

The company has just released its latest sustainability report, which for the second year is including a triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental impacts.

Global Sustainability director Carolyn Mortland said another 1000 of the co-operative’s 10,000 suppliers had farm specific plans compared to last year, many of them in higher risk catchments.

Mortland said there was a bottleneck of farmers wanting plans, and Fonterra was increasing its sustainable farm advisor pool from 30 to 40. . . 

Who are the most emissions efficient milk producers in the world?

A glass of New Zealand milk produces less than half of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the global average. This makes Kiwi dairy farmers the most emissions efficient milk producers in the world.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says sustainable practices and world-leading ability to make quality, highly nutritious milk means New Zealand is the best at efficiently converting grass to glass.

“As the world navigates uncertain times, we’ve carved out an enviable position in primary sector production,” says Mackle. “What is less well known, is our environmental journey. We are part of He Waka Eke Noa, a world-first partnership between the farming sector and government, building a framework to reduce agricultural emissions.”

For over a decade, farmers have transitioned to increasingly sustainable practices and those changes are being formalised through Farm Environment Plans, which improve water quality and further reduce emissions. Through the sector’s Dairy Tomorrow strategy, all farms will have an environment plan by 2025. . . 

Department Of Conservation selling Central Hawke’s Bay surplus rural sections:

The Department of Conservation is taking five separate Hawke’s Bay rural lifestyle sections without covenants to the market for sale. Turley & Co is leading the process for DoC, and Bayleys is the marketing agency.

The undeveloped blocks in the southern part of the province around the periphery of Waipukurau, are known as:

  • Streamside Paddock
  • Hunters Sections one
  • Hunters Section two
  • Beatties’ Corner, and;
  • Rural Site, Rotohiwi Road . . 

Wine label making a difference wins gold at Marlborough Wine Show:

Kōparepare, the wine brand created to support LegaSea, a non-profit organisation committed to the protection of the New Zealand marine environment, has been awarded a Gold Medal at the 2020 Marlborough Wine Show for its Kōparepare 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé. What makes the Gold medal significant, is that 100% of the revenue from each bottle of this Gold medal wine sold is donated entirely to LegaSea. The Gold medal win is also a demonstration that consumers don’t have to sacrifice quality, when purchasing wines to support a cause.

Created in 2018 by Whitehaven Wine Company, the Kōparepare label was relaunched in October this year under a refreshed label and with a campaign to donate 100% of the revenue from the first 125 cases sold online at www.koparepare.co.nz to LegaSea. After the first 125 cases are sold, the family winery will continue to fund the work of LegaSea by donating $1 from every bottle of Kōparepare sold.

Kōparepare (Māori for gift or contribution) is produced and bottled by Whitehaven, and demonstrates Whitehaven’s sustainability ethos, with a focus on the protection, preservation and restoration of New Zealand’s natural resources.  . . 

Finishing farm with unique harbour lifestyle:

A finishing property on the harbour near Raglan township in Waikato that brings the best of cattle country with its strong pastoral capacity and good contour is on the market after a decade of re-development and investment.

The Rothery Road property comprising 790ha has been dedicated to cattle finishing for the past 10 years. Stock types have included both bulls and weaner steers across the easy to medium contoured farm that sits across the harbour from Raglan township.

“The vendor has committed a decade of hard work to improving facilities and subdivision on the entire property, and that has included bringing two farms together, which also accounts for the fact there are two high quality, spacious dwellings on the farm today,” says Bayleys Waikato salesperson Russell Bovill. . . 


Rural round-up

29/10/2020

Dairy industry short hundreds of staff

The dairy industry says despite a big push to try and attract locals, it is still hundreds of staff short this season.

Dairy NZ chief executive Tim Mackle said there were about 800 vacancies farmers were still looking to fill. The busy calving period had been challenging and exhausting for those who were unable to plug gaps, he said.

Mackle said a government-backed GoDairy course launched in May to attract and upskill locals did help, but like many in the primary sector, it had not seen as much demand for work as was expected.

“GoDairy was designed during the first Covid-19 lockdown in April when unemployment was expected to reach upwards of nine percent, if not higher, by late 2020. . . 

Is food too cheap? What makes up the price of your fruit and vegetables – Dr Helen Darling:

Warnings of an acute shortage of workers to harvest food crops in New Zealand are growing. But the problem – and potential solution – are more complex than they may seem, and give rise to the question: ‘Is food too cheap?’ Food Truth’s Dr Helen Darling considers the issues.

Spring brings hope on the orchard; trees burst to life with blossom signalling a good crop, however, the usual horticultural fears of frost, rain and hail have been joined this year by a significant shortfall of orchard workers.

The situation is not new, but it is usually addressed by the influx of seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands. This year is different, of course, because closed borders mean fewer workers are now available. Commentators (and there have been many) claim orchard workers are paid too little, and Kiwis are too lazy to do the work. The reality, however, is that it is not that simple and it raises the rather interesting question of who is responsible for our end-to-end food system? . . 

Helping the meat industry nurture female talent – Sally Rae:

When Ashley Gray was studying communications in Auckland, she dreamed of working for a large, “glossy” public relations agency.

The last thing on the self-described city girl’s mind was a job in the meat industry and yet, fast forward a few years, and she wears multiple “hats” within the sector.

Among those roles is chairwoman of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women, a professional networking initiative founded in the United Kingdom by Laura Ryan in 2015.

The New Zealand meat sector and Meat Business Women recently signed an agreement aimed at boosting the number of women in the industry . . 

Growers employment expo in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay growers are facing their most challenging season, with about 10,000 workers needed between November and April for thinning, picking, packing and processing the region’s world renowned produce.

COVID-19 has severely impacted the availability of overseas workers so the industry is looking for local heroes to help.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says we feed the country and the world with our produce and the industry needs everyone’s help in these unprecedented times.

“More than 8,000 local people are permanently employed in Hawke’s Bay in and around the horticulture and viticulture sectors, from pack-houses to the port. However these jobs are at risk if the fruit is not picked. . . 

Woolhandler wins two major titles at Waimate – Yvonne O’Hara:

Amber Poihipi is passionate about the wool industry and wool handling.

That passion contributed to her success when she won both the New Zealand Spring Championship and South Island Circuit senior woolhandling finals at Waimate.

Based in Winton, Ms Poihipi has been working for Shear Tech Ltd owners Ray Te Whata and Matt Watson for about a year.

She has been in the industry full-time for 14 years, and has worked throughout New Zealand and also spent six years in Australia, as well as several months in the United States, grading wool in a mobile woolshed.

“It was very different working out there in a trailer, and we graded into short, long, strong and coloured wools and we didn’t skirt,” she said. . . 

The farmers trying to  save the world and how you can help :

Farmers are using innovative methods, on their farms and further afield, to reduce their environmental impact. Some are creating products you may not know about, others are using techniques and technology designed to slash their carbon footprint. Just how far has environmentally friendly farming come, and what questions should you be asking about how your food is produced?

Slashing food waste

Fruit farmer Charlie Fermor has two main environmental focuses: to reduce food waste and find the most environmentally-friendly packaging for his farm. And he’s found ways to do both.

“We’ve always tried to be as efficient as possible on the farm, and reducing waste is probably the biggest part of that.” . . 


Rural round-up

14/10/2020

Dairy farmers rise to sustainability challenge :

The stories of Kiwi farmers leading the world in sustainable farming are being shared as part of DairyNZ’s Rise and Shine campaign launched this week.

“New Zealand dairy has a great story to tell and we are seeing that realised through public sentiment, with 73% of people recently surveyed being favourable toward dairy farmers,” says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“This is tremendous recognition for farmers playing a key role right now – dually supporting our economic recovery post-Covid while shifting how their day-to-day business operates to further deliver for environment, animals and people.”  . .

Farmers contribute to fundraiser for charity hospital – Jamie Searle:

An organiser believes up to 1000 bales of wool could be donated for the #Bales4Blair fundraiser.

Sarah Dooley said farmers in Southland and further north were getting behind the fundraiser, which is focused on providing wool insulation and carpet for the planned Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill.

The fundraiser is named after the late Blair Vining who, along with his wife Melissa, campaigned to get better care for cancer patients. The campaign continues, and Melissa and supporters are eagerly awaiting construction of the hospital, starting in February.

Dooley, of Mimihau, and fellow farmers, Amy Blaikie, of Slopedown, and Brooke Cameron, of Mokoreta, launched the fundraiser a week ago. . . 

On a mission to destroy wilding pines :

The Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust is leading the way in New Zealand in the battle against wilding pines which are not only threatening biodiversity but helping to create tinder box conditions in parts of the country.

Country Life spoke to the chair of the trust, Dr John Hellstrom, about efforts to tackle the problem.

The skeletons of dead and dying pine trees stand above the native bush of Endeavour Inlet like sickly sentinels.

Their branches are dropping off and their trunks are white, in marked contrast to the lush green growth below. . . 

Sheep milking doubles income in Waikato – Gerald Piddock:

New sheep milking conversions in Waikato are delivering twice the per hectare income that the farmers used to earn from cows.

General manager of operations Peter Gatley says the new farms supplying Maui Milk this season are making around $14,000 a hectare, compared to $7000/ha a cow milking farm would typically earn.

“Income per hectare is a simple function of stocking rate, yield and payout,” he said.

“A ratio of six ewes per cow gives us about 17 ewes per hectare on Waikato dairy country. Our payout is $17 per kg of total solids, or about $3 per litre. Therefore, an average yield per ewe of 275 litres will deliver $14,000.” . . 

Too much time spent on chasing interest groups down wombat holes, beef producers told – Shan Goodwin:

HOW much the opinions of agenda groups working to shut down animal production actually count was a key topic put under the microscope at a beef industry event in Rockhampton this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef was run live at the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange as part of Brahman Week proceedings, as well as being live streamed.

A question on the best way to combat falsehoods about beef production and the environment brought passionate responses from the four well known northern producers who headlined the event.

Bryce Camm, who oversees his family’s integrated beef and cropping enterprise with interests across Queensland and is the current chairman of Beef Australia, along with being president of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, questioned how much money, and time and energy, the industry had spent “chasing every interest group down every wombat hole trying to appease them.” . .

Courgette prices fall back to earth:

Courgette prices were down 58 percent in September 2020 as the growing season resumed and more local produce arrived back on the shelves, Stats NZ said today.

Courgettes dropped to a weighted average price of $12.36 per kilo in the month, after reaching an all-time high of $29.60 in July during a trade ban from Queensland due to a crop virus. See Vegetable prices continue to grow for more information.

“The increase in domestic supply has filled the gap left by a shortage of imported courgettes during the winter,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said. . .


Rural round-up

10/10/2020

Prime Minister woefully ignorant on livestock emissions:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has displayed glaring ignorance about the impact of livestock biological greenhouse gas emissions on global warming in the latest leaders’ debate.

The Prime Minister stated that agriculture contributes 48 % of our total emissions to justify her position that these emissions are a problem.

What Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern does not realise is that cyclical carbon emissions from livestock are not comparable or equivalent to non cyclical carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel. Non cyclical carbon emissions add to the greenhouse effect by increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gas while cyclical carbon emissions do not. Just because it is claimed livestock carbon emissions make up 48% of our emissions it does not mean they are 48% of the problem because most of them are cyclical and atmospherically neutral. The 48% figure is also now debunked by leading IPCC scientists. . . 

Government nixes call for fruit pickers to be let into New Zealand, for now

The Minister of Immigration is adamant the government will not let overseas workers cut corners through border controls to fix a horticulture labour shortage.

Growers around the country are facing a crisis like they’ve never seen before.

Usually, about 14,000 workers come in to the country to work the apple season, taking part in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

But there’s only about six thousand in the country from last season, and not all of them want to stay in New Zealand. . .

Shearing her knowledge – Mavis Mullins – Suzanne McFadden :

In the first of three Q&As with keynote speakers from the Sport NZ Women + Girls Summit this week, Suzanne McFadden chats with Mavis Mullins, who’s as comfortable with the buzz of the boardroom as she is with the buzz of sheep clippers. 

A two-time national champion wool handler and the first female president of the world’s most prestigious shearing event, the Golden Shears, Mavis Mullins is also an agribusiness icon and an influential Māori leader.

She started her working life in her family’s shearing business, Paewai Mullins Shearing – which dates back to her grandfather, All Black Invincible Lui Paewai – and grew it to handling two million sheep a year.

After raising four children, Mullins built up an outstanding commercial and governance portfolio, and helped negotiate the treaty settlement of her iwi, Rangitāne. . . 

Innovative wintering research launches in Southland :

Southern dairy farmers will have a front-row seat in designing, approving and testing a new wintering system in Southland.

Invercargill’s Southern Dairy Hub research farm is hosting a new project that will take an innovative, cost-effective wintering system into a full on-farm trial in 2022. The research is the first time this infrastructure has been trialled in New Zealand.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the project is researching two concepts for uncovered structures where cows are kept during winter.

“As well as being effective for the environment and animal wellbeing, the infrastructure needs to be good for people working in it and cost-effective for farmers,” said Mr Mackle. “Investing in new systems and infrastructure is a big decision and cost. This work will not only stress-test the solutions, but also put farmers and their animals at the centre. . .

Sheep milk demand soars – Sudesh Kissun:

Sheep milk company Maui Milk is looking for new farmer suppliers as demand soars.

The company has taken on four new independent suppliers in Waikato this season to complement milk from its own farms.

Maui Milk general manager operations Peter Gatley says the company needs a lot more milk to satisfy demand from Danone for its Karicare brand sheep infant formula.

One of the new conversions is a greenfield site development on a sheep farm; others involve fitting out existing herringbone sheds on dairy farms.  . . 

Tatua payout tops – again! – Sudesh Kissun:

Small Waikato milk processor Tatua has done it again.

The cooperative has declared a 2019-20 season final payout of $8.70/kgMS, after retentions, to its farmer shareholders.

Tatua has continuously topped the milk payout chart over the last decade, leaving bigger players like Fonterra and Open Country Dairy in its wake.

Fonterra’s final payout for last season is $7.19/kgMS, $1.51 less than Tatua. OCD’s final payout hasn’t been made public yet. . . 

Tourism worker left without job sees future in horticulture industry :

A displaced tourism worker says he has no regrets about switching the office for an orchard.

After 18 years in the tourism industry, the impact of Covid-19 left Papamoa-based Geoff Rawlings out of work. In June this prompted him to take up a job in a completely new field, horticulture.

Geoff Rawlings, who is pruning and planting kiwifruit in Matapihi, recently became involved in the Ministry for Primary Industries campaign Opportunity Grows Here. The campaign is trying to attract thousands of New Zealanders to fill the gaps in the primary sector created by Covid-19 border restrictions.

Rawlings said he had spent his entire career in tourism and while it had its ups and downs, including the global financial crisis, this was the first time he had ever felt that it would take a long time to get back up. . . 


Rural round-up

08/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

Revelations in the cow shed – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$4.7 million in funding for SVSS from MPI:

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

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

Campaign to boost British venison amid fall in demend :

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

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

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

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


Top 10 Priorities for dairy

21/08/2020

DairyNZ has a  list of priorities for the next government:

 

DairyNZ has released its ten policy priorities for the 2020 election and its ‘The View from the Cow Shed’ report which provides policymakers with insight from the farm, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“This election we wanted to give voice to dairy farmers’ concerns and priorities to help politicians better understand the issues impacting on farmers. So, we surveyed our dairy farmers and asked them what they thought,” said Dr Mackle.

“Our dairy farmers are world-leaders in the production of sustainable, emission efficient and nutritious dairy, but we still have a significant farmer confidence and wellbeing issue in this country that pre-dates COVID-19.”

The View from the Cow Shed survey compiled feedback from dairy farmers across New Zealand. Key trends include challenges with mental health, technology and government regulation.

“It was really encouraging to see that 94 percent of farmers reported they were proud to be working in the dairy industry at the moment,” said Dr Mackle.

“But at the same time, 62 percent of farmers said they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year – with an uncertain regulatory framework identified as one of the main contributing causes.

“50 percent of farmers said they don’t have access to the broadband internet they need and 52 percent don’t have adequate mobile reception on farm.”

Dr Mackle said when asked about their community’s outlook over the next three years, 64 percent of farmers expect things to decline.

“Farmers were also asked what motivated them the most to get out of bed in the morning – what was great to see is that working and caring for animals is the main driver for 43 percent of farmers. Providing for their family came in a close second,” said Dr Mackle.

“This sends a tremendous message that farmers really value what they do, and that animal care remains at the heart of their farming business.”

The farmer survey has informed DairyNZ’s policy priorities for the next government.

“This information has informed our policy platform and identifies the top 10 things the next Government should do to improve outcomes for dairy farming families, their rural communities and New Zealand.”

DairyNZ’s policy priorities are:

Refocus investment in science

    1. Invest in R&D for our primary sector to unlock more value and volume.
    2. Set a clear strategy for science funding that is appropriately resourced to support farmers to reduce their environmental footprint while increasing profit.

Work with us to future-proof our sector

    1. Work with the sector to meet workforce needs through training and recruitment of Kiwis, as well as skilled migrant workers.
    2. Invest in rural broadband and improved mobile coverage to better connect our rural communities with New Zealand and the world.
    3. Develop a national water storage strategy and invest in water storage to increase water supply in times of drought, enable land-use flexibility and unlock economic potential.
    4. Develop and enforce a world-leading biosecurity system that is properly resourced, learns from our M. bovis experience and ensures everyone plays their part.
    5. Reform the RMA to reduce compliance costs for farmers, increase efficiency and drive better environmental outcomes.

Get our environmental settings and support right

    1. Partner with farmers and support them to play their part to meet new environmental standards.
    2. Ensure targets for water quality improvements are fair and equitable, clear, scientifically robust and have pragmatic timeframes for implementation.
    3. Review the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Act to ensure they are firmly grounded in science and align our international and domestic targets by applying a split gas approach to our Paris commitment and carbon budgets.

‘The View from the Cow Shed’ full report can be found at :www.dairynz.co.nz/viewfromthecowshed.


Rural round-up

09/08/2020

Difficult but the right call – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the joint decision three years ago to eradicate Mycoplamsa bovis was a difficult call. However, Mackle says the 10-year eradication plan, while difficult, was the best option for farmers and the economy. He made the comments to mark three years since the bacterial disease was first detected in New Zealand. The discovery shocked the industry and triggered one of New Zealand’s largest ever biosecurity responses.  . .

Farmers missing out on newer technology – Mark Ross:

Ineffective regulation is leading to farmers and growers missing out on products that will increase their productivity and be safer to use.

The Government launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs.

The plan, launched last month, involves a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value for a sector vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor pointed out, there is huge potential in the roadmap, but it can only be achieved through a close government partnership with industry and Māori. . . 

Lamb weight not demand driving price – Annette Scott:

South Island lamb supply is tight but while seasonal procurement pressure may be enough to see marginal price lifts in some regions, weak export markets are keeping a cap on prices.

Alliance Group key account manager Murray Behrent said while procurement pressure may appear to be at fever pitch around the saleyards, the difference in pricing is the weight of the lambs.

Agents around Canterbury saleyards are reporting strong demand is driving prime lamb values with top prices at Temuka and Coalgate this week, fetching $194 and $198 respectively. . . 

Council exploring water storage sites – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is actively investigating freshwater storage sites to carry excess winter water through to dry periods in summer.

It’s part of a four-pronged regional water security programme, supported by the Provincial Growth Fund, which includes a region-wide freshwater assessment, a 3D aquifer mapping project, and exploring viable locations for small-scale community storage schemes in the Central Hawke’s Bay (Tukituki River) and Heretaunga (Ngaruroro River) catchments.

Council acting manager regional water security Tom Skerman says the regional water assessment is analysing water supply and demand across the region to 2050. . . .

Tarras no stranger to the sly land-buyer transaction – Mark Price:

Before international airports became the talk of Tarras, farming was the district’s main preoccupation. In all its guises, farming has stamped its mark on the district and its people over 162 years. Mark Price takes a look at what has happened to Tarras in the days since its potential for farming was first realised.

Christchurch International Airport Ltd caught plenty of flak for the way it bought up land at Tarras for an airport.

Its agents, while making offers to landowners, did not disclose who they were working for, or why the land was wanted.

The airport’s chief executive, Malcolm Johns, was the man who orchestrated the purchase of 750ha for an airport, at a cost of $45 million.

He saw the potential, acted swiftly and quietly and came up last month, holding the deeds to the various farming properties. . . 

Broadacre farmers have their own fire experience – Mal Peters:

Reinforcing farmers’ perceptions the Rural Fire Service is a Sydney-centric bureaucracy, northern NSW broadacre farmers are scratching their heads at the declaration of a bushfire danger period on August 1.

Grass burns poorly in winter, so most of us are waiting for warmer weather.

We can get a permit to burn, but that only adds to our daily mountain of red tape.

Given recent megafires you’d think the RFS would make it easier to conduct controlled burns. . . 


Rural round-up

17/06/2020

New contest celebrates agripreneurs – Richard Rennie:

GlobalHQ, publisher of Farmers Weekly and Dairy Farmer, is sponsoring B.linc Innovation’s inaugural awards celebrating innovation and technology in the primary sector.

The Celebrating Success Innovation Awards run by the Lincoln University’s Blinc Innovation centre have three sections.

They are for on-farm innovation, off-farm-consumer innovation and a creative innovation-future tech award for secondary school students.

Global HQ co-owner Dean Williamson said the primary sector has had to respond to covid-19 in numerous innovative and nimble ways to continue growing, harvesting and processing primary products. . . 

Te Puke’s golden promise: Harnessing the post-Covid potential of a furry little fruit – Josie Adams:

The Bay of Plenty is synonymous with kiwifruit. With a large contingent of new workers moving in this season from Covid-displaced industries, Josie Adams asked what life is like for those who’ve been there for years.

Under a very heavy tree in Tom French’s orchard waits a very heavy hedgehog. About a metre above the hog the tree has two branches grafted on; golden kiwifruit. This is one of only a few trees with fruit left; the rest have been picked, packed, and put in storage. This fruit is for the family, and for any roaming animal with enough patience. 

French has been in the kiwifruit business for 40 years, and hedging his bets on a 50/50 split between golden kiwifruit and traditional greens has helped him weather some of the industry’s storms.

First planted in the Bay of Plenty in the 1930s, by the 70s and 80s, kiwifruit – formerly known as Chinese gooseberries, and before that monkey peaches – were taking off. French estimates they were selling trays for up to $16. Then, there was a heart-stopping price drop: five competing export companies, combined with a slowdown in demand, meant those same trays were worth only $4. . . 

Fed Farmers boss welcomes environmentalists to Southland – Louisa Steyl:

Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young extended an olive branch to environmentalists by inviting them to see the improvements made to winter grazing conditions in the region.

Young invited Angus Robson, Geoff Reid and Matt Coffey to Southland at the weekend, on behalf of all farmers, after receiving an email from Robson raising concerns about practices on a particular farm.

The three visited the farm, along with two others, on Saturday, and Young said it proved to be a worthwhile day.

“It was quite a robust discussion,” Young said. . . 

Dairy just the job – Samantha Tennent:

A sharp rise in unemployment is on the horizon because of covid-19 but the dairy sector will offer some reprieve. 

DairyNZ is encouraging people to consider work on dairy farms in a new Go Dairy campaign that offers entry-level training to help the transition to farming.

While the Go Dairy career-changers campaign, supported by Federated Farmers, aims to create awareness of the job opportunities there is a big emphasis on ensuring new staff understand what is involved in farm life.

“We want a win-win situation for new dairy farming employees to be happy and fulfilled in their new lifestyle and jobs and for farm employers to have great talent working for them,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says. . . 

Bouncing forward :

The kids are back at school, we can once again spend time with small groups of friends and family, and takeaways can offer a night off cooking. Looking back, we dairy farmers were grateful to be essential workers during Covid-19 Levels 3 and 4, with kids able to roam around the farm and help us out!

With glorious Taranaki weather, and the mountain visible from the dining room window most days, our kids were very motivated to get their home learning tasks done by lunch so they could spend the afternoon outside. Riding their motorbikes around the farm improved their riding skills. Going for on-farm runs and bike rides or playing soccer and rugby on the front lawn kept them physically busy.

I took up running and joined the online fitness group ‘Strong Woman’. Now I take time most days to get in a run or a workout. I never felt I had time pre-Covid to focus on my fitness. . . 

Life attracts life’: the Irish farmers filling their fields with bees and butterflies – Ella McSweeney:

Michael Davoren shudders when he thinks of the 1990s. He’d been in charge of his 80-hectare farm in the Burren, Co Clare, since the 1970s, and the place was in his blood. The Davorens had worked these hills for 400 years.

But growing intensification fuelled by European subsidies meant that most farmers in this part of Ireland were having to decide between getting big or getting out. Hundreds were choosing the latter.

Davoren followed the advice to specialise and chase the beef markets. “The more animals I kept, the more money I got,” he says. “I put more cattle out, bought fertiliser, made silage. Slurry run-off was killing fish. But if I kept fewer animals I’d be penalised 10% of my subsidy.” . .

 


Rural round-up

24/05/2020

Farmers feel the love – Neal Wallace:

With the demise of New Zealand’s $41 billion tourism industry because of covid-19 the primary sector will carry an even greater economic burden. Not only will it fund the lion’s share of health, education and social welfare but also service the $200 billion the Government plans to borrow. This week we start the series, Growing Our Recovery, which looks at what obstacles and opportunities the sector faces as it leads NZ out of economic recession.

Renewed trust in the primary sector is being shown by the Government and its officials as they see changing economic fortunes around the globe, sector leaders say.

“We are picking up an awareness amongst Government that the stakes have all of a sudden got very high, not that they weren’t high before, but the stakes now are doubly high and they’re very much aware of that,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said. . . 

Farmers aim to feed the need – Colin Williscroft:

An AgriHQ initiative started earlier this year is playing a key role providing options for farmers wanting to buy supplementary stock feed while donated balage and hay continue to be trucked into Hawke’s Bay.

In February AgriHQ saw a growing demand for supplementary feed from farmers relying on various avenues to supply their needs.

To connect buyers with sellers it set up the AgriHQ Feed Noticeboard to let sellers listing what they have got, its cost, their location and contact details.

Commercial leader Steph Holloway says the online noticeboard proved popular popular from the start with it not uncommon for feed to be listed one day then gone the next. . . 

Motivated young farmer making rapid gains in sector – Yvonne O’Hara:

Josh Cochrane is passionate about cows and enthusiastic about working in the dairy sector.

At 22, Mr Cochrane has wanted to be a dairy farmer for as long as he can remember.

He is in his first season as a 2IC for contract milkers Ben Franklin and Chelsea Saywell, on Roddy MacInnes’ 140ha property at Ryal Bush, milking 520 cows.

However, next season he moves to a 600-cow property in Oamaru as a contract milker.

He entered this year’s Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year competition and placed third.

His family were on a dairy farm near Rotorua and moved to Southland in 2007, when he was 10. . . 

Zero bobby calves for South Canterbury farming couple :

The versatility of Holstein Friesians is being credited with allowing a young South Canterbury couple to produce zero bobby calves.

Ryan and Billie Moffat milk 460 cows at Waimate. Production on the 145-hectare irrigated property was 262,000 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in 2018-19.

The couple bought the farm off Ryan’s parents Mike and Chris Moffat last year, after buying their herd four years’ earlier.

“Our business doesn’t produce any bobby calves,” said Billie. . .

Farm ownership long term goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Jakeb Lawson has been working in the dairy industry since he was about 13 and likes it so much, he wants to eventually own his own farm.

Mr Lawson (19) is a farm assistant for sharemilker Matt McKenzie, on a 300ha property owned by Eoin and Jayne McKenzie, at Woodlands.

They milk 650 cows and the expected production this year is 360,000 kg of milk solids.

‘‘I got the opportunity to do some work for my brother-in-law when I was about 13 or 14 and I really enjoyed it,’’ Mr Lawson said. . . 

Farmers still need ‘up to 40,000’ workers to help pick crop :

Farmers still need up to 40,000 workers to help bring the harvest in this summer despite an ‘overwhelming’ response to hiring campaigns.

Defra launched the initiative ‘Pick for Britain’ last month to bring workers and employers together as the impact of Covid-19 leaves a diminished workforce.

From pickers and packers, to plant husbandry and tractor or forklift drivers, there are a wide range of roles available for furloughed employees. . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2020

Turning the environmental table on urban households – Cameron Bagrie:

Farmers have worn the pointed fingers on the envirionment despite most playing by the rules and many doing even better than what the rules require. It is rural communities we can thank for much of the environmental progress we’ve already made.

There are isolated instances of poor behaviour – just as in any industry, but in aggregate, farmers are moving forward.

Increasingly, farmers have been required to operate under Farm Management Plans (FMPs), against which their environmental performance is audited.

City folk should consider what their equivalent of an FMP – call it a Household Management Plan – would look like. . .

New Zealand Agricultural Show cancelled  – Tracy Neal:

The South Island’s largest springtime event, the New Zealand Agricultural Show, has been cancelled for the first time since World War 2.

Organisers said public safety concerns and a fragile financial position were behind the decision to cancel this year’s November show.

The Canterbury A&P Association made the announcement today, saying the likelihood of a lingering response to the Covid-19 crisis made planning for such a large event untenable.

It was now also calling for public help to secure the event’s long-term future. . .

Two-pronged approach needed to address dairy staff shortfall:

DairyNZ is calling on the Government to work with the dairy sector to address a looming staff shortage for the coming season, that has been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19.

By the end of September around 2500 visas are due to expire for migrant staff currently working on dairy farms. Many are based in Canterbury, Waikato, Southland and Otago. Both farmers and farm staff are desperately seeking certainty.

“We estimate that even if all migrant dairy workers currently in New Zealand were retained, there could be a shortfall of up to 1000 employees for the coming dairy season,” said Dr Tim Mackle, DairyNZ chief executive.

“This suggests that we are going to need to take a two-pronged approach to address the staffing shortfall that will include both retaining our migrant workforce and recruiting new Kiwis into our dairy sector. . .

NZ coconut and avocado oil producer to expand into the Pacific :

A New Zealand coconut and avocado oil producer, who is promising Pacific farmers much higher returns than they currently get, hopes to start operating within just months.

Whangarei-based Cocavo is headed by Chris Nathan who has been trying to set up operations in Fiji since 2018.

He said it’s taken awhile to find the right piece of land, and there were other difficulties, but they now have equipment, and building should soon be underway.

Mr Nathan said there is also strong interest from Luganville on Vanuatu’s Espirito Santo. . .

Safe domestic travel should be considered at Level 2:

The New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association and Game Animal Council are joining other tourism and recreation organisations in calling for an easing of domestic travel restrictions at Alert Level 2.

“Hunting guides, helicopter operators, accommodation providers and outfitters have suffered considerably through the lockdown,” says New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association President James Cagney. “Domestic travel will allow some of these businesses to restructure their offerings to New Zealand customers and keep operating.”

“While the industry has missed out on this year’s roar there is still fantastic late-autumn and winter hunting available, particularly for bull tahr, chamois, red stags and late rut sika. It would be fantastic if New Zealand hunters were able to get out and enjoy these opportunities and at the same time support the livelihoods of those in the industry.” . . 

Dairy processors warn on coronavirus disruption – Carlene Dowie:

Executives from two of Australia’s biggest dairy processors have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting markets in ways not seen before.

Bega chairman Barry Irvin and Fonterra chief financial officer Marc Rivers told the Pac Partners/Westpac 2020 Agfood Virtual Conference on Wednesday having diverse manufacturing options had allowed them to adapt.

Both pointed to immediate lower commodity prices but saw glimmers of positivity for the future.

And both said there was a need for further rationalisation of Australia’s dairy manufacturing base. . .

 


Rural round-up

09/04/2020

COVID-19: Farming focused on playing its part:

A week into the COVID-19 lockdown, DairyNZ says dairy farmers are settling into life in lockdown but the sector’s focus remains on ensuring support for farms.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the Government support for farming as an essential service has been positive to date and is helping ensure all farms can be kept ticking.

“DairyNZ is working closely with dairy farmers and agri-partners to ensure all farming families, staff and support services are safe, and that farmers have access to the equipment, services and people they need,” said Dr Mackle.

“We all share concerns about the health and economic effects COVID-19 will have on our families, communities and New Zealand, and farmers are working hard to minimise risks to keep their businesses running smoothly. . . 

Milking shed projects stymied by lockdown rules – Rod Oram:

Dairy farmers trying to get ready for the new season are striking lockdown problems, writes Rod Oram

A farmer in Northland has a problem: his milk processor had condemned his milking shed; a new one was under construction; work has stopped because the Government has yet to classify such projects as essential; and precious time is being lost before the new milking season starts in July.

This is a real example playing out now, says Justin Thompson, DeLaval’s vice president of sales and support in Oceania. The Swedish-based company, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of milking systems, is supplying equipment to the Northland project. But as soon as New Zealand went into Covid-19 lockdown, subcontractors packed up and left the site. . . 

Commodity prices continue to fall but offset by weakening dollar:

Commodity prices continue to fall as the impact of the Covid-19 virus continues to be felt on international markets, but the blow is being cushioned by a weaker New Zealand dollar.

The ANZ World Commodity Price index dropped 2.1 percent in March and has now fallen 8.3 percent in the past four months.

In local currency terms the index actually lifted 3.3 percent due to a sharp fall in the New Zealand dollar.

Dairy, meat and fibre, forestry and aluminium all fell, but horticulture remain unchanged. . .

Chair of Ballance Agri-Nutrients retires in September:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited Chairman David Peacocke, is stepping down as a Director in September 2020 at the Annual Shareholders Meeting (ASM). Duncan Coull has been elected as the new Chair by the Board of Directors taking up the post after the ASM.

David a Waikato farmer and businessman has been a Ballance Director since 2005 and was elected as Chair in 2013.

“After 15 years, seven as Chair, this is a logical step in the Ballance board’s succession planning and I felt it was time to let someone else take up the challenge,” says David.

“Duncan is the right person to lead Ballance into our next phase , he brings a strong personal view that we need to work collaboratively as a sector to be future-ready.” . . 

Forestry industry preparing for back to work

Forest industry organisations are planning how to get back to work when restrictions on non-essential work are lifted for the industry.

Organisations, representing forest growers, transport, processing and contractors have set up a working group to develop risk assessment protocols in readiness for start-up of the industry sector.

The National Safety Director of the Forest Industry Safety Council, Fiona Ewing says the aim is to assure government that the sector will be able to comply with the epidemic management conditions of COVID-19. . . 

Update on 2020 Awards:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards final four regional winners and placegetters have been announced via Facebook Live video and were warmly received by entrants, winners, sponsors and supporters.

The New Zealand dairy industry is resilient, flexible and adaptable to change. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, adapting and leading with their response to the Covid19 crisis, can be seen as a reflection of the industry and all entrants.

Entrants, families, supporters and sponsors watched with excitement and anticipation in their bubbles. There were hundreds of live streams out numbering the usual attendance to the dinners. It was magical to see the live engagement and comments and likes floating up the screen during the announcements. . . 


Rural round-up

23/02/2020

Virus bites into jobs – Neal Wallace:

More than 1000 logging contractors, a number industry leaders say could double, have been laid off in recent weeks as the economic impact of China’s battle to contain coronavirus begins to bite.

Meat companies and market analysts report increased activity at ports and distribution of perishable products such as food as business in parts of China returns to normal.

But disrupted shipping schedules are creating a fresh set of challenges for exporters. . .

Lim: real food is here to stay – Gerald Piddock:

Eating fads come and go but real food will never go out of fashion, chef Nadia Lim says.

Natural food, whether grown from the ground or captured from the sea or sky, will always have a place on the food plate, Lim told the DairyNZ Farmers Forum in Waikato.

The dietitian, author, Masterchef winner and My Food Bag founder said the trend to veganism and plant-based alternative meat and dairy will be temporary once consumers understood what is in these products. . .

Importance of healthy plants celebrated in Year of Plant Health:

Healthy plants’ contribution to New Zealand’s wellbeing and economic sustainability has been highlighted at the launch of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) at Parliament tonight.

“Healthy plants are the backbone of New Zealand’s wellbeing and make a significant contribution to our economy,” says Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

“Horticulture, including viticulture, contributed approximately $9 billion to the New Zealand economy in 2019. . .

North Canterbury farming keep an eye on the dry:

The Hurunui Adverse Events Committee has been monitoring how farmers are going in the current dry weather, and to remind their communities of the wealth of experience and information available.

Famers in North Canterbury have plenty of drought experience and can take credit for being in reasonable shape as February brings weeks of hot, dry weather and high evapotranspiration.

“If we learned one thing in the 2014-2017 droughts, it was that you need to make decisions early on what you can control,” says Winton Dalley, Chair of the Hurunui Adverse Events Committee. “Its good practice to have plans and deadlines in place to destock, send stock out to graze, and buy in supplements while they are available at an affordable price. . .

Cows can help reverse global warming – Nigel Malthus:

Cows and pasture are not the villains in climate change, but could instead be our saviours, says Hawke’s Bay farmer, soil scientist and consultant Phyllis Tichinin.

An executive member of the Organic Dairy and Pastoral Group (ODPG) and on the organising committee of the group’s upcoming national conference, Tichinin says with regenerative farming methods, the grazing sector alone could make New Zealand carbon-negative.

“Cows are not bad. They’re actually a very important part of reversing global warming and CO2 levels quickly and productively.” . . 

New milk vat monitoring systems for Fonterra farmers:

Fonterra is beginning to install new milk vat monitoring systems over the next couple of years.

The aim is to support their farmers’ production of high-quality milk and make the co-op’s milk collection more efficient.

Richard Allen, group director of Farm Source, says the new milk vat monitoring systems are part of Fonterra’s commitment to help make farming easier.  . .


One std for town, higher one for country

23/12/2019

Farmers are angry over Te Papa’s portrayal of dairying:

Farmers have hit out at Te Papa over its use of fake farm stream water, calling the move “a disgrace” and accusing the national museum of having a biased agenda.

The outrage comes after National MP Todd Muller tweeted a picture of the bottle of dyed brown water, part of a display in the museum’s Te Taiao Nature exhibition.

The bottle features an image of a cow defecating in a waterway and indicates the water is from the Waikato. . .

Muller said the bottle and its contents were a “completely unrealistic” depiction of rural life and the work farmers were doing to improve and protect waterways.

“It’s a ridiculous, simplistic image. Dairy farmers have fenced almost all of the rivers and streams on their properties in the last decade and cows can’t get near them,” he said.

“Displays like this are part of the reason farmers are feeling so beaten up – everywhere they look, there’s the narrative that they’re destroying the environment.” . .

It wasn’t even a genuine sample:

DairyNZ said we’re not mad, we’re just disappointed:

It’s incredibly disappointing to see our national museum Te Papa reinforcing an overly simplistic anti-farming narrative that negatively impacts the public’s perception of New Zealand farmers and the dairy sector” DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle says.

“The water in their display is not reflective of what your average farm stream in NZ would look like. If you don’t believe me, you just need to look at the countless videos and pictures farmers have posted to social media to correct the perception.

“Farmers were right in demanding to know when and where this water was taken from. Te Papa have since confessed that the water wasn’t actually from a farm at all but was made up in a back room using brown dye.

“It’s not just about the quality of the water in the bottle either” Dr Mackle added.

“The imagery on the bottle of a cow standing in water defecating is highly deceptive and entirely out of step with the reality of dairy farming in New Zealand today where we are proud to have fenced off 98.3% of waterways in recent years.

“Farmers who have done the right thing and voluntarily invested their time and their money to fence off waterways and plant riparian strips deserve better than this from their national museum.

“Dairy farmers have fenced over 24,744km of waterways.

Under the Sustainable Dairy Water Accord New Zealand dairy farmers have achieved some fantastic results: 98.3% of waterways have been fenced on dairy farms to keep cattle out, 100% of stock crossing points have bridges and culverts and 100% of farms have been assessed for effluent management practices.

“The situation is all the more disappointing because it was only last week that we hosted our 7th annual Dairy Environment Leaders Forum dinner at Te Papa to celebrate the great work dairy farmers have undertaken.

“We think it’s great that Te Papa have produced a display on NZ’s water quality to help educate young kiwis, but it’s a real shame they haven’t taken the opportunity to tell the full story. DairyNZ would be happy to work with them on a fair and accurate display in the future.

“As a popular tourist attraction that is frequented by thousands of young families and international tourists each year Te Papa should be enhancing the brand of NZ Inc. instead of detracting from it with false information” Dr Mackle concluded.

Te Papa needs to get up to date and tell the modern story of farmers doing good work to protect and enhance waterways instead of buying into the out-dated dirty dairying rhetoric.

Meanwhile, Wellington wastewater is entering the harbour:

Wellington’s wastewater leak has been reduced to one-tenth of its size, meaning a new year’s dip at Oriental Bay could be on the cards.

Workers have worked  through nights after a wastewater pipe collapsed at the corner of Wills St and Dixon St on Friday.

At its peak it sent up to 100 litres of wastewater per second into the harbour – roughly a swimming pool’s worth per day.

On Sunday, this had been reduced to 10 litres per second after much of the wastewater was diverted through a disused 1890 pipe beneath Willis St, Wellington Water chief executive Colin Crampton said. . . 

That was an accident, this is dirty business as usual:

There’s a little creek running through suburban Auckland, a decent stride wide and water shin deep, that moonlights as one of the country’s biggest drains.

Not so long ago, it was called Waititiko, ‘water of the periwinkles;’ now, it’s a regular conduit for raw human sewage, and a living illustration of the city’s complicated relationship with waste. . . 

It’s a long read and a shocking indictment on successive councils that have not invested in the necessary infrastructure to cope with a growing city and it waste water.

Is it any wonder farmers are angry.

Urban councils get away with this disgusting pollution but farmers could be, and have been, fined for spilling effluent that could, that is has the potential to or might, reach a waterway.

Matthew Herbert has worked out the cost to councils if they were treated as farmers are:

It’s one standard for towns and another much higher and more expensive one for the country.


Meet Dairy Women’s Network’s new chair

06/11/2019

Cathy Brown has stepped down from her role as chair of the Dairy Women’s Network and North Island farmer Karen Forlong has succeeded her.

. . .Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said she was looking forward to working more closely with Forlong as “she’s just so passionate about dairy, and in particular women’s role in dairy.”

Benton also paid tribute to the Brown, who has been chair for three years, saying her commitment and support has been invaluable, thanking her for all her efforts and guidance.

“She is not at the front of the bus anymore, but is still on another seat on the bus,” Benton told attendees at last week’s AGM while DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle said she should be proud of all the network has achieved while she has been its chair.

Farming near Atiamuri, Forlong has been a member since the network was formed in 2000, having experienced various roles that includes conference committee involvement in 2005 and 2012 then becoming Conference Chair in 2014, participation in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust Escalator Program, a leadership and governance programme for women involved in primary industries and rural communities and is Chair of Vetora BoP, a incorporated society vet club with a 75 year history in the Rotorua region.

“I really appreciate what a great privilege it is to find myself in this position now,” she said. “I’m a really inclusive person, and something I’ve learnt from our previous chair Cathy and hold very dear is the fact that the gold is always in the room.”

I see myself as the conductor of a great orchestra, and I’m not actually playing an instrument, I’m just there to bring all of the fabulous components together.”

She says women in dairy can find their sense of belonging and tribe at Dairy Women’s Network. “It was a phone call from Pattie O’Boyle in 2000 asking me to be part of the first meeting of the regional group for Rotorua that gave me a place to land, a tribe, somewhere that was safe and was a place of trust.”

“Dairy Women’s Network realises life is not a series of silo’s but is the complexity of many things coming into balance; family, people, the team, the community, animals, environment and financial wellbeing that are all are reliant on each other.”

“Connection is the cornerstone of a strong culture and our rural communities and Dairy Women’s Network is a connector as it delivers through face-to-face connections and through technology and online engagement.”

“The Dairy Women’s Network as place to land is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago.  That place needs to feel inclusive, that it will stand with you on your journey, support you, bring to the table the truth and separate the noise from the facts and impart clear and concise  .”

She stressed that Dairy Women’s Network needs to grow leaders, to be the enabler and the cheerleader behind the voices of the future, taking on the role as story tellers.

“The industry needs an engaged, full noise voice,” she said.  “One that is consolidated, unified, loud and proud.  We as a Network need to be part of the collaborative approach for our future and as women we are intrinsically wired to function in this state, so we have a responsibility to use this skill and drive it, unrelentingly.”

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NZ can’t afford $6b/year

31/10/2019

The government’s Essential Freshwater proposal would cost far more than the country can afford:

Economic modelling by DairyNZ shows the proposed Essential Freshwater package could significantly harm New Zealand’s dairy sector and the wider national economy – by 2050, costing $6 billion per year. . .

DairyNZ initiated three studies into the potential economic effects of the Essential Freshwater proposals, two are independent and all three have been peer-reviewed.

The economic studies are supported by additional technical research by DairyNZ which analyses the likely water quality improvements. DairyNZ’s full submission will be released by end of day Thursday, October 31.

“The economic modelling shows us that the proposed Essential Freshwater policy package is one of the largest economic challenges posed to the dairy sector in a generation – its full effect could lead to a fall in our GDP of $6 billion by 2050, without even adding additional costs related to climate change,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

The proposals focus only on the environmental leg of the sustainability stool and ignore the economic and social ones.

“But what is really crucial is that we believe other options are available to improve and strengthen the protection of ecosystem health and we will be outlining these in our full submission.

“The proposed freshwater changes would result in significant declines in milk production and is therefore a serious threat to the international competitiveness of New Zealand’s dairy sector.

“However, water quality and emissions gains can still be made with less stringent reforms, at a lesser cost to the New Zealand economy. Farmers care deeply about the environment and have been doing their bit to protect the environment and our waterways for some time,” said Dr Mackle.

This is the water farming families drink and use for recreation. It is in our interests to protect and enhance its quality.

“They are absolutely onboard with continuing to play their part in improving our waterways, however stringent changes cannot be at the detriment of farming’s future and the communities they support. We need to approach this carefully, balancing environment and economy – we can achieve both goals by working closely together on this issue.

“The economic analysis shows potential significant impact. By 2050, total milk production is forecast to fall by 24 percent and all national exports by 5.2 percent or $8.1 billion.”

Tax revenue from dairy is also forecast to more than halve by 2050, with an annual loss of $0.54 billion at the national level. . .

The forecast from the independent Sense Partners showed an extra  $1 billion loss  and another 4 percent reduction in milk production.

Where would that money come from if it didn’t come from dairying?

The more moderate freshwater reforms, in isolation, are not expected to have the same degree of economic impact.

“Four scenarios were modelled and scenarios one and two, which include actions around fencing, farm plans, capital expenditure, consented stand-off pads and nitrogen caps in priority catchments, had less financial impact for farmers and therefore the economy,” said Dr Mackle.

“In contrast, the consideration of proposed nutrient limits under scenario three was forecast to impose a significant financial burden on the dairy sector. Research by DairyNZ also shows that these limits – broadscale introduction of phosphorus and nitrogen leaching reductions in monitored catchments – are based on overly simplistic relationships and not supported by robust science.

“It is under these more stringent reforms that dairy will struggle to contribute as significantly to the national economy, as it does now.” . . .

The flow-effects would spread from farms to rural communities and beyond.

Southland, Taranaki, Marlborough and West Coast are likely to be most negatively affected. By 2050, GDP could fall in Southland by up to 3.6 percent; Taranaki by up to 2.9 percent; Marlborough by up to 3.2 percent and West Coast by up to 2.9 percent. Waikato would also be significantly affected.

“The proposed changes potentially compromise the vitality of regional communities, due to the importance of processing jobs as well as farm profits and expenses being a key source of revenue for other businesses,” said Dr Mackle.

Less milk means 15-20 percent less jobs and reduced competitiveness in global markets. This is an issue because nearly one-third of exported goods and 46,000 jobs are associated with dairy production in New Zealand.

“The proposed Essential Freshwater changes constitute substantial business risk for New Zealand dairy farms, with the number of insolvent farms forecast to jump from 2 to 11 percent by 2050.

“Dairy is here to play our part but it must be done in a way that supports the community and all Kiwis while working towards improved water quality.” . .

The freshwater proposals are yet another example of policy the country can’t afford from a government we can’t afford.

You can read more ofDairyNZ’s economic assessment on the proposals here.


Playing for the payer

18/09/2019

What’s the value of dairying to the economy? It depends who you ask:

The recent NZIER report trivialises the significant role the dairy sector plays in New Zealand’s economy – and fails to look at the specifics of the Government’s freshwater package, according to DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the report, commissioned by Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace, is less an economic report and more a high-level commentary on the dairy sector’s role in the economy – and paints an inaccurate picture.

“This is yet another case of environmental lobbyists targeting dairy farmers – who are people trying to do the right thing by the environment and who are actively working to make changes on-farm to protect it,” said Dr Mackle. “By singling out dairy farmers, they are ignoring other contributors to water quality and, therefore, are limiting our ability to actually fix the problems where they exist.

“The NZIER report trivialised dairy’s role in the economy – 3 percent of GDP equates to 28 percent of merchandise exports and one-fifth of goods and services exports coming from the dairy sector.

“The NZIER report does not analyse the economic benefits of dairy to regional communities – which is a critical aspect of dairy farming’s contribution to NZ Inc. Dairying is the engine of the regions, in terms of income and jobs. For example, it is the top income earner in Waikato, West Coast and Southland.

“Yesterday we saw the latest MPI Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report which showed dairy makes up $18.1b of $46.4b exports to June 2019. Dairy exports were up $1.47b last year – this has flow-on effects to our communities, where we employ 46,000 people on and off-farm.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) recently completed an advisory report on the Essential Freshwater Package that showed that national limits for nitrogen and phosphorus would potentially impose very large costs on agriculture.

“In that report, it referred to a Waikato modelling study which found that land-use change was required to achieve the nitrogen and phosphorus limits proposed – with changes resulting in a dairy revenue loss of $140m per year,” said Dr Mackle

The LGNZ report showed that these goals require an enormous amount of land use change to take place, with many farms becoming uneconomic and communities being impacted negatively due to rural depopulation and a loss of annual income.

“Modelling for Southland showed that achieving a 9 percent reduction in nitrogen loss would reduce dairy profits by $17m a year,” said Dr Mackle.

“In terms of innovation, dairy farmers are an extremely innovative sector but the reality is that all land users play a role in water quality and more than innovation is required – it also needs broadscale adoption by all land users.

“As a sector, we are solutions-focused – and have been for years, and our farmers have been voluntarily working to look after their land and waterways. Our Water Accord shows a range of great progress, including fencing 98% of significant dairy waterways and stock crossing points or culverts for almost all waterways nationwide.

“We all acknowledge there is more work to be done – but we need to work together and recognise when good work is happening and allow time for change to occur.”

NZIER produced a report that played the tune the payers – Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace – wanted.

In doing so it seriously undervalued the economic importance of dairying in and to New Zealand and seriously underestimated the devastating impact the freshwater proposals would have on rural communities and the country.


Rural round-up

07/09/2019

Farmer’s open letter to Jacinda Ardern: Part 2 –  Andrew Stewart:

 Last month Rangitikei farmer Andrew Stewart wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about his concerns over climate change and farming. In his follow up letter, he calculates his farm’s emissions profile and finds some worrying statistics.

Nearly a month ago I wrote an emotive open letter to Jacinda Ardern and the farming leaders of New Zealand.

My motivation was to try and articulate what I was feeling as a sheep and beef farmer in regards to climate change obligations.

Now I want to share the facts about my own farm and my emissions profile that inspired me to write the open letter. . . 

Time to recognise real progress made by dairy farmers – Tim Mackle:

I can remember a time not so long ago when more than 70 per cent of the country loved our dairy farmers, but it feels like things have changed in recent times. Farmers are doing their best to stay “relentlessly positive” in the face of relentless criticism, but it’s not easy.

Some commentators are quick to stand back and fire shots at farmers from a distance, but what does that actually achieve? It’s easy to criticise our dairy sector in the New York Times.

It’s much harder to voluntarily put in fencing at your own cost that almost runs the equivalent of New Zealand to New York and back – but that’s exactly what our dairy farmers have done.

New Zealand dairy farmers have fenced off 24,744km of waterways. That means that 97.5 per cent of the significant waterways on New Zealand dairy farms are now excluded from dairy cattle. We have also constructed bridges and culverts for more than 99.7 per cent of 44,386 regular stock crossing points on dairy farms. . . 

Water plan cautiously welcomed, but deadline tight, say dairy, beef, lamb sectors :

The Government’s water proposals will not work as a one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to dairy and sheep and beef farmers, says Sam McIvor. The Beef+Lamb chief executive spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, along with DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle about the Action Plan for Healthy Waterways which was announced yesterday.

While both Mackle and McIvor said they welcomed the idea behind the freshwater plan, they still have concerns for their industries.

Government figures showed the average annual cost on the proposals would be $9350 for a lowland dairy farm, but a hill country sheep and beef farmer could be looking at $14,850. . . 

Social licence to operate just as important as methane reduction – Allan Barber:

Amid all the debate about agriculture’s responsibility to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, and the appropriate levels for those targets, it may seem counterintuitive to claim an equally pressing problem is to earn a licence to operate. Just as great a threat to agriculture’s future is not whether it faces a potentially unachievable government imposed target, but a business environment in which consumers make their decisions based on their perception of the acceptability of the food they eat.

All primary production sectors – red meat, dairy, horticulture, fisheries, forestry and the rest – must recognise they are in competition for the attention of consumers who increasingly have the luxury and the right to decide between products they consume on the basis of multiple dimensions, way beyond the traditional choice based on taste, price and availability. While we are continually told the world’s population will provide ready markets for more than New Zealand can produce, we are also being made increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and working with instead of exploiting the environment. . .

Oamaru’s Berry family are breaking the mound with special blue cheese – Lucy Corry:

Simon Berry eats blue cheese on toast for breakfast. Not every day, of course, but he has to do his bit to support the family business. “I love all our cheeses, but the blue’s the best,” he says. “It depends on the season, because there’s so much scope. I mean, I do love the halloumi. But yeah, I’m definitely a blue cheese guy.”

It’s not as if he doesn’t have a wide variety to choose from. Whitestone Cheese, the company started by his father Bob and mother Sue back in 1987, now produces 25 different cheeses from its Oamaru factory. One of those cheeses — the Vintage Windsor Blue that Simon is so fond of having on his toast of a morning — is now exported to France. It also won a gold medal in the 2019 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, along with Whitestone’s Ferry Road Halloumi (the highest scoring cheese in the awards) and its Vintage Five Forks.

Wool footwear:

Thanks to our more active lifestyles and casual approach to dressing, runners are undoubtedly one of the most popular items in today’s global market. The success of wool in footwear lies not only in the fibre’s natural properties, but also in its ability to be constructed in a way that aids performance.

Using the latest fully-fashioned knitting technology, wool footwear can be knitted to its final shape, reducing the amount of wastage associated with regular cut-and-sew techniques.

Wool fibres can absorb large quantities of moisture vapour and then allow it to evaporate, helping keep you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cool. . .


We all want clean water but

06/09/2019

There’s no argument on the goal of clean freshwater but there’s significant angst in rural New Zealand over the way the government plans to get it.

We all want clean water, but not in a way that drastically increases the cost of farming and therefore food, destroys livelihoods and communities, and sabotages the economy.

Federated Farmers says the government’s proposals for cleaner freshwater throw farmers under the tractor:

Federated Farmers estimates large parts of rural New Zealand will have to abandon their reliance on the pastoral sector based on the freshwater proposals released today.

The Essential Freshwater announcements could lead to wholesale land use change to meet unnecessarily stringent targets.

The proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management nutrient levels will require parts of New Zealand to reduce their nitrogen by up to 80%. 

“It becomes very hard to continue economically farming animals or growing vegetables under a regime like this,” Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.   

“The long term targets for nitrogen reduction, are effectively unachievable in some parts of the country, and will end pastoral farming in these areas.”

Federated Farmers continues to be supportive of government effort to improve and maintain water quality, the use of farm environment plans and the continued shift to ‘GMP’ – good management practice policy.

“But with today’s proposals the government seems to be signalling it is prepared to gamble with the viability of food production as the major export earner for New Zealand.”

Feds has one simple message for the government, freshwater quality will continue to improve in rural areas, because farmers and growers are already doing the work.

“Lumping regional councils, with an entirely new regulatory system to implement and manage puts up everyone’s rates, and gives little additional support to actual water quality results,”  Chris says.

“Millions of dollars raised from increased rates which could have been spent on more river and waterway restoration will now be spent on hearings, lawyers and other random water experts,” Chris says.

“Basically your rates will go up, while farmers are doing the work anyway.”

Feds is particularly concerned about the proposed “interim controls” which will have untold ramifications for the New Zealand economy, as there will be an inevitable slump in land values, across all sectors and regions.

“The discussion documents say an ‘interim control’ is not a ban.  But if it stops you from doing something with your own land, without appeal or any achievable recourse, then it’s a ban, pure and simple,” Chris says.

This ban will have a significantly negative knock-on effect for all rural and urban communities where the activity of the primary sector is the lifeblood earner for the cafes, sports clubs, banks, insurance companies, car dealerships, restaurants, shopping malls and all the other people downstream of New Zealand’s largest earner.

“All we ask is for regulation that is based on science and evidence.”

Federated Farmers encourages all farmers to do their best to input into this process despite the short consultation period of six weeks and it being at the busiest time of the year for farmers.

Beef + Lamb NZ says the proposals would make sheep and beef farmers sacrificial lambs:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says plans to lock down current land uses will have a disproportionate effect on the majority of sheep and beef farms that are low input, extensive systems with a light touch on the environment.

“The sheep and beef sector’s vision is for New Zealanders to continue to be able to swim in and collect food from the freshwater surrounding sheep and beef farms,” says B+LNZ’s Chairman Andrew Morrison. 

‘Sheep and beef farmers are committed to protecting the health of our waterways and we’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far, however, we know there is still more work to be done.  

“The Essential Freshwater proposals are comprehensive and will take time to assess, however, we are deeply concerned by some of the analysis we have seen – including modelling that suggests 68 percent of drystock farms in the Waikato/Waipa catchment would be converted into forestry as a direct result of the proposed regulations, while more intensive land uses largely remain the same.

Forestry isn’t necessarily good for water quality with sediment and slash washing into waterways after harvesting.

“These proposals will undermine the viability of a low-intensity sector which supports over 80,000 jobs and generates exports of $9.1 billion a year.  It risks decimating rural communities, especially when coupled with other proposed policies such as the Zero Carbon Bill.

“Ultimately, we are concerned the sheep and beef sector will bear a disproportionate impact of the proposed policies, far outweighing the environmental impact of our farming systems.”

Issues around nitrogen leaching are driven primarily by cattle stocking rates and high loadings of nitrogen fertiliser, leading to greater concentrations of nitrate leaching into waterways. 

“Most sheep and beef farming systems operate within the natural capacity of the land due to our low stocking rates and efficient, low input farming model,” says Mr Morrison.

“Our nitrogen leaching rates are low and in catchments where sheep and beef farms are the predominant farming system, nitrogen levels are not an issue. 

“The sheep and beef sector’s main water health issues are sediment, phosphorus and intensive winter grazing on crops.  We are committed to addressing our contribution to these issues and understand the need for increased oversight for activities which pose a higher environmental risk.

“However, the devil is in the detail and we will be looking to ensure any new requirements are matched to the environmental effects we are looking to manage.

“The Essential Freshwater proposals that will likely have the greatest impact on sheep and beef farmers are a range of “grandparenting” provisions that restrict land use change, and flexibility within a farming system to diversify.

“In doing this, the greatest flexibility is provided for those that currently undertake high intensity, high discharging land uses.

“New Zealand’s most sustainable and low intensity farming systems, those with the lightest environmental footprint, will have no flexibility moving forward to adapt to these and or other environmental pressures.  The success of our farming system has been the ability to adapt and diversify.”

The approach proposed also fails to take into account the other benefits that extensive farming systems provide such as biodiversity and supporting healthy and vibrant rural communities, says Mr Morrison. 

“The government’s objective of “holding the line” is understandable, but the way it would be implemented will lead to a perverse outcome where blanket limits are placed on everyone, even though individual farmers’ contribution to the problem differs wildly.

“While the government says these are interim controls until councils have new plans in place, there are no timeframes and based on our previous experience, councils’ processes will take many years. During that time, the damage will be done.”   

Sheep and beef farmers have been working to address a wide range of environmental issues, he says.  

“We are committed to addressing freshwater quality issues such as erosion, E.coli and phosphorous by working towards all farmers having land and environment plans by 2021.  Our sector has already lifted this from 36 percent in 2017 to 49 percent in 2019, and many farmers are getting involved in catchment communities.

“While there is still more to do, in-stream sediment concentrations have been improving as farmers have been planting native and poplar trees in erosion prone areas and retiring some land from production.   

“It appears from the proposal that many sheep and beef farmers will be punished for doing the right thing.  Over the last 30 years we’ve doubled export revenue from the industry while reducing our land use foot print, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. 

“At the same time our sheep and beef farms are a reservoir for almost three million hectares of native vegetation, making up nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s remaining native vegetation and including 1.4 million hectares of native forest, which co-exists alongside productive agriculture.” 

B+LNZ has extensive resources to support farmers in adopting best management practice for intensive winter grazing on crops and has over the last year led a pan-sector process to develop common policy solutions and build on industry initiatives to manage these activities. 

DairyNZ makes a plea: let’s all improve our waterways without destroying rural communities:

Today’s Essential Freshwater Package shows healthy and swimmable waterways are important to all New Zealanders, including dairy farmers, who share the same aspirations to protect our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the dairy sector and our farmers share the same vision communities, Maori and Government have to protect and improve our freshwater resources.

“The Essential Freshwater Package announced today provides a real opportunity for everyone to have their say in this important conversation. We know we can’t farm without healthy water and land, and we reflect this in our Dairy Tomorrow sector strategy, and we need to acknowledge the work that’s already taken place,” said Dr Mackle.

“Our dairy sector is already on the journey to improve and protect water quality and our farmers have been working towards this for more than a decade.”

Dr Mackle said at the same time it is acknowledged that, in some catchments, community expectations for water quality has not yet been met. Here, further action is required by all land users, including dairy, to halt a decline and longer-term solutions put in place to restore the health of these waterways.

“This policy package focuses not only on dairy but all land use activities, including sheep and beef, horticulture and urban activities, reflecting that we all have a part to play in improving our waterways,” said Dr Mackle.

But it doesn’t focus on bird life. The major contributor to the poor quality of some waterways is birds, for example the seagulls which nest on rocks beside the Kakanui River.

“We agree with a focus on ecosystem health and alongside this, options to better track the impact of improvements farmers are making to work towards this. However, we have serious concerns that the proposed approach of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus may not achieve improved ecosystem health and could have a significant impact on the viability of farm businesses and rural communities. We need to understand this better and what it means for our water quality, farmers and for the country.

“We know from experience that regulation is one tool, but hearts and minds are vital to create enduring change. We also want this to be grounded in facts and science, as well as economic and social analysis.

“Many things impact on ecosystem health, nutrients are often not the key driver. It will be important to recognise a catchment-by-catchment targeted approach as opposed to blanket one-size-fits all rules.

Solutions to problems in one catchment, or even part of a catchment, may not be applicable to all.

“We believe further uptake of Good Farming Practices and Farm Environment Plans across all farms, catchments and land users nationally is an effective way to accelerate further improvements,” said Dr Mackle. “Over 3000 farms already have a comprehensive Farm Environment Plan and we support that every farm has have one by 2025.

“Overall we support the intent of the Essential Freshwater Package but we haven’t been involved in its development, so we need to understand the proposed policies in more detail.

“It is important the policies contribute to meaningful improvements in water quality for the community and there are realistic expectations for all landowners.

“We believe on-farm initiatives are already contributing to maintaining or improving water quality across many catchments and the most recent LAWA report supports this, with almost all water quality measures showing more sites improving, than not.”

Dr Mackle said there is an opportunity to extend on the good work already done by promoting good farming principles across all catchments, farms and land owners. “This should build on successful sector initiatives, including the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, and we don’t want to see our good work undone.

“Our farmers are adaptable and have made significant changes to how we farm over the last 30 years. We will continue to learn and make changes into the future,” said Dr Mackle.

“We recognise that over time, future land use may look different than it does today. It is important that farmers have the certainty, tools and adequate transition time to continue on the journey and make the changes that may be needed over the next generation.

“Looking forward, we are encouraged by the prospect of a vibrant primary sector and rural communities, benefiting from healthy and resilient waterways.”

These proposals are typical of so many of the governments that don’t follow the science and take a balanced approach to sustainability taking into account economic, environmental and social impacts.

Water quality degraded over many years and reversing that will take time.

You can download a copy of Action for Healthy Waterways here.


Rural round-up

24/08/2019

Climate report gives much needed detail – Pam TIpa:

The latest IPCC Special Report has the potential to turn the way we look at climate change on its head, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

It highlights the challenges of providing sustainable food for a growing population and says animal sourced food from sustainable systems has a role to play.

The IPCC Special Report, released this month, is a “welcome contribution” to the developing debate on climate, says Mackle. . .

Milk shake – Why the future of dairy looks scary – Teresa Cowie:

Dairy’s huge role earning export dollars for New Zealand is facing a threat some say could bring it to its knees. Lab-grown milk protein is now stepping outside niche cheese and ice cream markets and into the bulk ingredient arena. As Teresa Cowie has been finding out, a fight for this bulk commodity market could have serious consequences for our dairy industry.

At a lab in San Francisco, scientists working for New Zealand synthetic dairy start-up New Culture are trying to work out how they can produce mozzarella that looks, tastes and very importantly stretches like the real thing. Across the Pacific at home in Auckland, the company’s founder Matt Gibson says, as a vegan himself, the plant-based cheese offerings that refuse to melt properly and fail to satisfy in the taste department drew him towards exploring yeast fermented dairy protein, that cuts out the need for cows.

Plant-based diets are moving from niche to mainstream as consumers become more aware of the issues of animal welfare, climate change and pressure to feed the growing population. And this shift is predicted to be a huge disruption for New Zealand dairy, as makers of lab-produced products race to take over the ingredients market our farmers rely on. . . 

Pragmatism sweeps into Mackenzie debate – David Williams:

An environmental group floats ideas for protecting the Mackenzie Basin’s landscapes. David Williams reports.

It’s both the poster child and the problem child.

Turqouise lakes and tawny tussocks draw more than a million tourists to the South Island’s Mackenzie Basin each year. But many believe irrigation-fuelled intensive farming – on former Crown-owned leases, often, within easy view of the highway – is ruining landscapes and sending mixed messages to turn tourists off.

The Government won’t buy the whole basin, so how do you balance protection with economic activity, while acknowledging those, including Māori, with important connections to the land? . . 

‘Men have always taken the glory’: Why more women are becoming farmers – Harriet Agerholm:

Hannah Jackson was helping a farmer get his sheep ready for a country show, when he told her to let “the lads down the road” groom the rams because they were “far too strong” for her.

The 27-year-old did not listen. “I went into the pen where there were these big male sheep, flipped one on its bum and started filing its feet,” she says. “I’d stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any man.”

More and more women like Hannah, who now runs her own farm, are entering the male-dominated UK agriculture industry.

About 17% of farmers are female, up from 7% in 2007-8, according to last year’s Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey. . . 

Silver Fern Farms wants to close Fairton pelt processing plant :

New Zealand’s largest meat processor, Silver Fern Farms wants to shut its pelt processing plant at Fairton, just outside Ashburton.

The company said this would affect 44 staff at the Fairton site and four others preparing pelts at Pareora further south. A final decision will come after consultation with staff and their union, which will take until the end of August.

Staff had been presented with potential redundancy, as well as work options at other Silver Fern Farms sites in the region, it said.

Silver Fern Farms closed its Fairton sheepmeat processing plant in May 2017, affecting 370 staff, following a decline in regional sheep numbers. . . 

Multi-faceted approach required for management of internal parasites:

Changes in land use or farm policies which result in predominance of young livestock could be recipe for disaster in terms of the development of drench resistance.

Ben Allott from North Canterbury Vets says while sheep and beef farmers are often encouraged to use triple active drenches to circumnavigate drench resistance issues, he says this ignores the changes that need to be made to address the fundamental issues that are creating the environment for drench resistance to occur.

Stocking policies that drive a reliance on chemicals to control internal parasites create the perfect environment for breeding drench resistant worms. These include intensive lamb finishing operations, particularly under irrigation and dairy heifer grazing. . .

Now that scientists have sequenced the avocado genome, can we grow them in Minnesota?   – Kamari Stewart:

From toast to theme restaurants, the avocado has soared in popularity in the United States. Consumption is up from 436.6 million pounds annually to 2.4 billion pounds between 1985 and 2018.

Researchers from Texas Tech University and the University of Buffalo have studied avocados in a way that is best described as a 23andMe test. They compared the roots of the Hass cultivar (a Mexican-Guatemalan hybrid) and a Mexican strain, to West Indian, Guatemalan, and other Mexican varieties. They discovered that the avocado genome has naturally evolved over time to increase its resistance to disease—a finding that could be significant for the future of avocado breeding.

The discovery could help growers breed more disease-resistant avocados, and eventually lead to varieties that are drought-resistant or less temperature sensitive, and can be grown in northern and drier climates. More growing options could help supply match demand and protect shoppers from a price hike like this year’s. In early July, avocado prices were 129 percent higher than they were at the same time in 2018. . . 

 


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