Rural round-up

June 17, 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

May 24, 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

May 6, 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

April 9, 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

February 23, 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

December 23, 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

November 6, 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

October 31, 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

September 18, 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

September 7, 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

September 6, 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

August 24, 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. . . 

 


Science when it suits again

August 16, 2019

The government is ignoring its own scientific advice over setting methane reduction targets:

Advice to the Government from MPI’s officials shows that the Government’s proposed methane reduction targets go well beyond the science of what is needed for New Zealand to meet its 1.5⁰C Paris Agreement commitments and was purely a political decision made in Cabinet.

“Official’s advice validates the arguments we have been making that methane does not need to reduce by the amount proposed by the Government in the Zero Carbon Bill in order to limit warming to no more than 1.5⁰C,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s CEO Sam McIvor.

Mr McIvor’s comments are also echoed by DairyNZ’s CEO Dr Tim Mackle.

“The agricultural sector has consistently said that the Government is asking farmers to do more than what’s required, and more than what’s being asked by other sectors of the economy, and this has been confirmed by the Government’s own advice”, says Dr Mackle.

“We are willing to play our part to address climate change and want to have a transparent and science based discussion about what that should be.”

The government can’t ask us to accept the science on climate change then ignore it in responding.

While the Government referenced the IPCC report, in applying the target for a global reduction in methane emissions to New Zealand, they have conveniently omitted the IPCC’s caveat that makes clear these global targets shouldn’t simply be slapped on individual countries.

It is also ignoring the Paris Accord which stipulates that cliamte change mitigation should not be at the expense of food production.

“The combined effect of the excessive methane targets and net zero target for nitrous oxide, which even go beyond the IPCC’s advice for this gas, means that New Zealand is effectively aiming to go below 1.5 degrees and by doing so, letting other countries off the hook,” says Mr McIvor.

The Government is even being inconsistent in its own statements in saying it has relied on IPCC advice, with parliamentary written questions showing it did not seek any specific advice from the IPCC in doing this.  Instead the Government has cherry picked the numbers it wanted and gone with the highest ranges it could find for methane, as well as going beyond what the IPCC recommended for nitrous oxide.

Federated Farmers’ National Vice President Andrew Hoggard says that the advice from MPI vindicates the sector’s position that the Government has opted for a political target on methane rather than a scientific one.

“When the IPCC explicitly states their global methane reduction targets shouldn’t be used as national targets, and Article 2 of the Paris Agreement requires countries to set targets in a manner that doesn’t threaten food production and to take into account different national circumstances, it’s disappointing that the Government has opted to pursue a political target agreed at Cabinet to make it feel good on the world stage regardless of its lack of scientific backing or the disastrous consequences it could have on New Zealand’s food producers,” says Mr Hoggard.

B+LNZ, DairyNZ, and Federated Farmers, while all having made individual submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill, are united in their view that the proposed 24-47 percent target is too high and are encouraging the Government to take a science-based approach that reflects the fact that methane only needs to reduce by a small amount each year in order to contribute no additional warming.

The government is proposing unrealistic targets. Even trying to meet them will come at a high cost, in both economic and social terms, with no environmental gain.

In doing so it is using only the science that suits it again.

There is a better way – setting realistic targets and working with agricultural groups to drive real behaviour change on farm:

Sector organisations have put forward an alternative Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment – He Waka Eke Noa – to build an enduring farm-level emission reduction framework to help the rural sector reduce its footprint.

“We want to play our part and take action. That’s why we have put forward a credible five-year work plan with clear and measurable actions, outcomes and timeframes” Dr Mackle says.  

“Our proposed plan is a collective initiative across multiple agricultural sectors, and includes rolling out Farm Environment Plans for all farms by 2025 to ensure every farmer knows their emissions footprint, where on farm those emissions are coming from, and what they can do to manage them”.

Having reliable data is important so that a farmer can make decisions and trade-offs factoring in resilience, profitability, and all the business decisions that need to be weighed up.

“We are asking the Government to partner with the agricultural sector to develop and deliver targeted programmes of action and coordinate efforts to reduce emissions. We strongly believe that working in partnership is the best approach to deliver real change” Dr Mackle added.

“DairyNZ does not support a levy on farmers in the ETS at processor level because it won’t drive the behaviour change to reduce emissions.

“It will take money out of farmers pockets at a time when it would be better invested on-farm to prepare for and start the process of managing emissions.

“Safeguarding the environment and maintaining a sustainable and competitive dairy sector is very important to our farmers, customers, and consumers. 

“Farmers care about the environment and are continuously refining their farm systems to improve environmental outcomes.“The dairy sector is committed to playing our part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions alongside the rest of the New Zealand, but policy responses need to be fair and they need to drive the right behaviours” Dr Mackle concluded.

DairyNZ’s submission on Action on agricultural emissions can be found here.

The government has a choice – it can set realistic targets for methane reduction and work with the primary sector to achieve sustainable on-farm changes; or it can ignore the science and impose unrealistic targets providing neither the tools nor incentives farmers need to make a positive difference to their practices and the environment.


Rural round-up

August 6, 2019

We’re on board but don’t kill the cash cow – Dr TIm Mackle:

Dairy farmers in New Zealand are world leading producers of low emissions milk, writes Tim Mackle, chief executive of DairyNZ.

We have a reputation for sustainability and we want to keep it that way. While we are committed to playing our part in the transition to a low emissions economy – alongside the rest of NZ – it must be done fairly and consider the science as well as the economic impacts.

There is more in the Zero Carbon Bill that we agree with than we disagree with, but we have serious reservations about the Government’s proposed 2050 methane reduction target of 24 – 47%.  . . 

Don’t sacrifice science for ideology – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Contrary to recent suggestions in the media, there is very little credible research supporting the success of homeopathic treatment of mastitis in dairy cows.

In fact, reviews published recently covering research since 1970 concluded that ‘homeopathic treatments are not efficient for management of clinical mastitis’. A second review covering research since 1981 concluded that ‘the use of homeopathy currently cannot claim to have sufficient prognostic validity where efficacy is concerned’. 

In plain English, if you want to cure your cow, use the antibiotics which have been the subject of rigorous research and been shown to reduce infection. And, of course, suffering. . . 

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes calls it a day :

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes will step down from the industry good body’s board this October.

One of DairyNZ’s Board of Directors for eight years, Mr Allomes was elected by dairy farmer levy payers in 2011, as one of five farmer-elected directors. Since then, the Woodville-based dairy farmer has played a key role contributing to the governance of DairyNZ and provided key support around a range issues, in particular around people and talent.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel credits Ben for his contribution to the board and his tireless advocacy for dairy farmers. . . 

The Innovative farmer: Generating innovation through a farmer and grower-led system of innovation – Matt Hocken:

Executive Summary

The genesis for my Nuffield Scholarship research was a sense that farmers and growers have a number of significant challenges or problems, both on-farm and off that have not been solved, or we are struggling to solve. As we milk, shear, tend and harvest, thousands of farmer and grower-minds around the country turn to these problems and to the dreams we have for the future. We think about our immediate problems, like how much grass have I got to feed my animals, or do I have a water leak?

We think about system problems, like how will I reduce my nutrient use, or what is my environmental footprint? We think about the tough problems like changing consumer preferences, or heightened society expectations and how can we reconcile these. Collectively we think and dream of a hundred thousand ideas. At the moment very little happens with many of these ideas. I want to change that. . .

Food chandeliers highlight grower’s gathering – Gerald Piddock:

Grabbing the low hanging fruit took on a new meaning at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference at Mystery Creek.

Decorating the main conference are four chandeliers covered with fruit and vegetables, providing a colourful reminder to growers of their contribution to feeding the New Zealanders.

The chandeliers – each weighing an estimated 200-500kg – contained 250-300 pieces of fruit or vegetables held together by cable ties or hooks similar to those used by butchers to keep the produce in place. . . 

‘Environmental misinformation is damaging British beef market’, Yorkshire farming leader says – Ben Barnett:

Inaccurate portrayals of livestock’s environmental role risk turning off shoppers from buying red meat at a time when British beef offers the best value for money, a farming leader has warned.

Amid the lowest farmgate prices for beef cattle in years due to a market oversupply, some retailers are offering price promotions on premium cuts.

Nonetheless, North Yorkshire farmer Richard Findlay said a culture of misinformation about the impact of livestock on the environment means consumers could spurn the chance to support British beef at a critical time for farm businesses. . . 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2019

Rural areas face risk form forestry – Steve Carle:

The fabric of our local rural communities could be severely impacted by conversion of sheep and beef farming to forestry if Government doesn’t change its combination of policies on the Emissions Trading Scheme and its stance on the upcoming Zero Carbon Bill. Submissions for this Bill closed on July 16.

In the Tararua District it is likely sheep and beef farms will be largely replaced by carbon farming and our farm service industries will evaporate.

New Zealand forestry is dominated by overseas investors who will likely dominate carbon farming.

“Once an investor has optimised all the benefits from the first cycle of carbon-sink, the land then becomes a carbon and financial liability,” says Keith Woodford, primary consultant at Agrifood Systems. . . 

DairyNZ CEO: make the methane target achievable:

Today, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle appeared before Parliament’s Environment Select Committee to send a clear message to politicians – an unachievable 47 percent methane reduction target would be setting farmers up to fail.

“The New Zealand dairy sector is committed to playing our part in the transition to a low-emissions economy, alongside the rest of the country,” said Dr Mackle.

“We are acutely aware of the importance of looking after the environment and maintaining sustainable and competitive businesses too.

“We know there are costs for our farmers but there are also costs for global inaction. That’s why we are seeking pragmatic and prudent policies that enable action and support our farmers to play their part on climate change. . . 

Townie now award-winning farmer – Annette Scott:

A self-confessed townie who married a farmer, Karen Williams never quite envisaged the path her career would take. She talked to Annette Scott about her journey to top level industry leadership.

The first woman to lead the Federated Farmers’ arable section is a self-confessed townie who married into farming.

“When I give talks at meetings I often start with my I’m a townie confession. Rural provincial townie, not a city slicker,” arable section chairwoman Karen Williams says.

“My journey to industry leadership has been largely driven by my background in resource management.”

Williams and her husband Mick farm arable, sheep and beef in Wairarapa. . . 

Truffle fascination an exciting but risky hobby for Paengaroa couple– Stuart Whitaker:

Truffles are among the most valuable and sought-after of culinary delights.

For a Paengaroa couple, the air of mystery that surrounds the rare fungi has become a healthy obsession that is now a huge influence on their lives.

Colin and Maureen Binns began creating their truffiere – a grove of trees where truffles are cultivated – in 2008. In 2015 they harvested their first Black Périgord truffles.

Last year the truffiere produced around 3kg of truffles during the two-month season, which starts in June. This season, with the help of truffle dog Jed who sniffs them out, they have unearthed around 20kg. . . 

 

Australian millet broom factory tries to resist sweeping changes in consumer culture – Hannah Laxton andKoonce and Cara Jeffery:

As an industry dies around them, two men are refusing to be brushed aside by the passage of time.

On a typical day, Geoff Wortes and Rob Richards make more than 50 brooms by hand at their factory on the edge of the Snowy Mountains.

The brooms are made using millet; the grass fibres appear stiff and uncooperative, however experienced hands mould them with ease.

More than a dozen people worked at the Tumut Broom Factory during the 1970s — now only two remain. . .

Rural life in the past was a battle for survival – Marian L. Tupy:

In my last two pieces for CapX, I sketched out the miserable existence of our ancestors in the pre-industrial era. My focus was on life in the city, a task made easier by the fact that urban folk, thanks to higher literacy rates, have left us more detailed accounts of their lives.

This week I want to look at rural life, for that is where most people lived. At least theoretically, country folk could have enjoyed a better standard of living due to their “access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity,” which the anthropologist Jason Hickel praised in a recent article in The Guardian. In fact, the life of a peasant was, in some important aspects, worse than that of a city dweller.

Before industrialisation, European society was bifurcated between a small minority of the very rich and the vast majority of the very poor. Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, a military engineer during the reign of Louis XIV, estimated that the French population consisted of 10 per cent rich, 50 per cent very poor (fort malaise), 30 per cent near beggars and 10 per cent beggars. Likewise, Francesco Guicciardini, an Italian historian and friend of Niccolò Machiavelli, wrote that “except for a few Grandees of the Kingdom [of Spain] who live with great sumptuousness, one gathers that the others live in great poverty”. . . 

 


Primary sector climate change commitment

July 17, 2019

New Zealand farming leaders have agreed to a sector-wide Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment: He Waka Eke:

The primary sector will work in good faith with government and iwi/Maori to design a practical and cost-effective system for reducing emissions at farm level by 2025. The sector will work with government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm practice change, set at the margin and only to the extent necessary to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities that contribute to lower global emissions. The primary sector’s proposed 5-year programme of action is aimed at ensuring farmers and growers are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver emissions reductions while maintaining profitability. . .

Neal Wallace summarises the plan:

Farmers could be about to receive some intensive education on managing greenhouse gas emissions from their farms and orchards.

A proposed five-year programme of action beginning next year has been developed by 11 primary sector groups as diverse as Apiculture NZ, Horticulture NZ, the Federation of Maori Authorities, Federated Farmers and bodies representing the livestock industry.

The Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment demonstrates efforts the sector is prepared to take to reduce emissions as new technology becomes available.

This means that reducing emissions won’t be at the cost of lower production.

That is important not just for producers’ incomes but New Zealand exports and the income they generate, and global emissions which would increase if less food produced here led to more produced less efficiently in other countries.

It also counters the Interim Climate Change Committee recommendation to introduce a tax on livestock emissions to be collected by processors up to 2025 when the tax will be based on individual farm assessments.

A joint statement by the group says a central tenet of the Government’s discussion document is pricing agricultural emissions.

“The primary sector is seeking to work with Government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm change, contributes to lower global emissions and supports farmers and growers to make practical changes on the ground.

“This will be critically important to enable a smooth transition for the agricultural sector.”

The body’s plan will establish graduated, targeted milestones for goals such as farm environment plans and farm-level measurement of greenhouse gases.

A lot of farms already have farm environment plans.

North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) pioneered requiring independently audited FEPs as a condition of supply. Other companies have followed this example and many farmers have chosen to have FEPs as a commitment to best practice.

However, many of those plans won’t yet be measuring greenhouse gases.

For example, by 2022 the aim is for every farmer to know the level of emissions generated from their farms and by 2025 to have an accounting and reporting system for those emissions.

By the same year all farms will have a farm environment plan and 70% of all farmers will be managing their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with their plan.

The commitment said substantial work has been done to develop methodology and tools to calculate farm-level emissions and extension programmes to educate farmers as well as continued research into methane inhibitors, vaccines and animal genetics. . . 

Continued research is essential to provide the tools farmers will need to reduce emissions without reducing production.

. . . The group wants sequestration to be credited to each farm and farmers should not be required to enter the Emission Trading Scheme to get financial credit for that sequestration.

Pricing should incentivise all forms of sequestration from native bush, riparian planting, shelter belts, orchards and vines.

The document says the primary sector invests $25 million a year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change.

It notes the greenhouse gas footprint for New Zealand dairy production is 30% below Europe’s and less than half the world average while for lamb it is 25% that of the rest of the world.

This point is lost on those, including politicians, who erroneously think reducing livestock numbers here will reduce global emissions.

Just like the oil and gas ban, it would have the perverse outcome of increasing emissions as our less efficient competitors increased production to compensate for less food produced here.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chair Andrew Morrison says the sheep and beef sector here has already reduced absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent since 1990 through improved farming practices and things like better lambing percentages and higher carcase weights.

. . .“Today’s Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment is an evolution of one of the Interim Climate Change Committee’s recommendations, and seeks to achieve the same outcomes faster than would otherwise be the case,” says Mr Morrison.

“Both the primary sector and ICCC agree that a farm-based pricing mechanism is the best way to get action on biological greenhouse gas emissions. Where we differ is that we think we can make faster progress by working with farmers from the get-go to help reduce on-farm emissions and prepare for farm-based pricing from 2025, rather than having an interim processor levy.”

Mr Morrison says that the ability of the primary sector to fund work on developing a farm-based pricing system through existing resources will provide a win-win situation for farmers and the climate.

“A new and blanket levy at the processor level wouldn’t incentivise any on-farm changes and would be seen as farmers as a new tax, which would undermine farmer’s efforts to make positive changes, especially as individual farmers wouldn’t reap the benefits of any improvements they may make.” . .

Imposing a tax rather than finding the tools to enable farmers to reduce emissions would add costs without necessarily changing behaviour.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the Commitment doesn’t just identify a problem – it provides a clear pathway forward and a way for the primary sector to work with the government rather than just impose regulation.

. . .We and the ICCC both agree that a farm-based mechanism is the best way to address biological emissions, however, our views diverge when it comes to how we get there.

“Bringing agriculture into the ETS at the processor level amounts to little more than a broad-based tax on farmers before we have the knowledge, support and tools to drive the practice change that will reduce emissions.

“The stakes are high. New Zealand’s primary sector contributes one fifth of our GDP, generates 1 in 10 jobs and produce 75% of our merchandise exports.  We want to avoid shocks like the 80s and make any changes in a stable and considered way. 

Anything which imposes costs and reduces production would re-create the ag-sag of the 1980s with all the economic and social pain with little or not economic gain.

“As an alternative we have put forward a proposed five-year work programme to build an enduring farm-level emission reduction framework and work with farmers and the wider rural sector to provide real options to reduce their footprint. 

“While appropriate pricing mechanisms for incentivising emissions reductions at farm level can have an important role to play in incentivising change, creating an environment that enables and supports farmers and growers to make changes on-the-ground is equally important to prepare for farm-based pricing from 2025. . . 

Education and research to provide tools to enable change will have a positive and lasting impact that taxes won’t.


Rural round-up

June 26, 2019

Farmers urged to submit on carbon bill – Pam Tipa:

Both DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are urging farmers to have their say on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill by July 16.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for the agriculture sector.

“That’s why farmer engagement is so important,” he says. He is encouraging dairy farmers to make a submission.

The bill’s full name is the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. . . 

Kiwi’s quinoa dream now a reality – Andrew Stewart:

A liking for a particular food on a foreign trip is paying dividends for Dan and Jacqui Cottrell and providing extra income for their Taihape farm. They told Andrew Stewart how they discovered quinoa and set about growing it in the central North Island.

Dan and Jacqui Cottrell didn’t realise an overseas adventure would change their lives forever. 

The year was 2012 and the couple were making the most of their South American odyssey when they had an epiphany in Peru. 

They had been eating a lot of quinoa, of which 80% of the global supply is grown in Peru, on their trip.  . . 

 

DIRA changes fall short – farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers want dairy industry regulations to apply equally to all milk processors in New Zealand.

They still want an end to the open entry/exit provisions of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) and an end to Fonterra providing subsidised raw milk to rival processors.

However, in proposed DIRA changes the Government has retained the open entry provisions but has allowed Fonterra the right to refuse milk from suppliers who are “not compliant with the co-op rules and from new dairy conversions”. . . 

Small kiwifruit have big taste – Richard Rennie:

Fruit size is providing the headwind to the new kiwifruit season while taste is the tailwind thanks to an exceptional late season ripening period that has left Zespri marketers with a paradigm for foreign markets.

Zespri’s grower alliance manager David Courtney said Green fruit size this season is 2.5 sizes smaller than usual and SunGold two sizes down on usual with the long, dry, ripening period scaling fruit down but pushing up drymatter levels to create exceptionally well flavoured fruit.

“We have had one grower who has been growing kiwifruit for 40 years who said he has never reported better drymatter levels in his crop.” . . 

New Zealand’s most fertile land dug up for housing – Indira Stewart:

Over the last decade more than 200 produce growers in Auckland have closed up shop as more rural land has been rezoned to residential to keep up with the demand for housing.

Now, after 60 years of growing vegetables in South Auckland, celery farmer Stan Clark has decided to close up as well.

Mr Clark’s celery farms were re-zoned from rural to residential in 2009 and the rising land rates are making business unsustainable.

The family is preparing to sell their much-loved farms in Pukekohe, a suburb that holds some of the country’s most fertile land, much of which is being dug up for housing. . . 

Large-scale dairy conversion farm with its own lake-sized reservoir placed on the market for sale:

A large-scale dairy conversion farm – complete with a huge lake-like reservoir –which has seen primary sheep and beef production replaced over the past decade in favour of milking, has been placed on the market for sale.

Strathallan Station some 26-kilometres north-west of Gisborne is a 1,213-hectare property currently milking a herd of 1,000 cows. Towards the centre of the property is a two-and-a-half-metre-deep ‘reservoir’ lake large enough for recreational kayaking and duck hunting. The reservoir sustains not only the farm’s irrigation needs, but also its milk shed requirements. . .


Rural round-up

June 23, 2019

New technologies will ‘not be enough’ to hit emission targets – Gerald Piddock:

As thousands of schoolchildren held nationwide strikes to demand action on climate change, 200 dairy farmers gathered in Rotorua to hear the latest science around ways the industry can lower its emissions.

What they heard at the DairyNZ Farmers Forum was there are no silver bullets to help the industry lower its emissions enough to hit the 47 per cent target by 2050 outlined in the Zero Carbon Bill currently going through Parliament.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said he supported the principle of what the students were striking on. . . 

Having the best of both worlds – Colin Williscroft:

When Logan Massie finished school he followed his dream and headed to Europe where he lived and breathed showjumping for a few years. These days he’s back working on the family farm but, as Colin Williscroft found, he hasn’t given up on returning to Europe to ride.

The saying goes that if your job involves something you love doing you’re far more likely to be successful, 

Logan Massie is taking that to the next level by combining two jobs he loves: working on the family farm and running his own showjumping business. 

He sees no reason why the two can’t work together. . . 

Fingerprinting our food – Nigel Malthus:

A machine used by surgeons in delicate operations could eventually provide ways of guaranteeing New Zealand farm exports’ provenance.

And it could improve product traceability and deter supply chain fraud.

The machine is a rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) now being evaluated at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus for its ability to detect the molecular phenotype or ‘fingerprint’ of samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. 

Regional wrap:

Frosts have catapulted the central North Island into winter. In Southland farmers are putting sheep onto crops but crutching has been held up by rain.

Northland is still generally  struggling for pasture. The higher rainfall farms are looking good but the rest  are short. A  lot of the dams, springs and streams are still dry and old timers can’t remember is being like this. As we’ve commented before, there was a lack of kikuyu in autumn … that’s now paying dividends because rye grass is popping up nicely. Beef cattle farmers are carrying fewer animals which helps with pasture covers too.

It was fine and sunny in South Auckland .. until Friday, when light rain and fog moved in. During the fine spell early morning temperatures dropped to near freezing but in general, a constant breeze kept frosts at bay. Conditions were perfect for outdoor growers to plant or sow crops  but heating systems will have been working hard for crops grown indoors.  Kiwifruit pruning gangs had  a good few days too with no need for raincoats but instead had the early morning discomfort of very cold hands. . . 

Lewis Road Creamery’s delicious new range is making a serious case for Jersey milk – Mina Kerr-Lazenby:

Milk, what was once a simple dairy product known primarily for its ability to ameliorate cereal or tea, has since found itself at the centre of a pretty ferocious debate. And now, with several conflicting arguments around the product’s ethics and health benefits, alongside spades of new varieties and brands on the market, most of us are left questioning which milk we should really be using.

Purveyors of all things dairy, Lewis Road Creamery, is making a case for a lesser-known varietal with its delicious new offering: a fresh range of premium, white Jersey Milks. Sourced solely from Jersey cows, the new range champions finer milk that is making a name for itself as a healthier and tastier alternative to the regular, and with a raft of benefits, here’s why you should be making the switch. . . 

5 chemicals lurking in plant-based meats – Center for Consumer Freedom:

Veggie burgers don’t grow in the ground. They’re made in factories

When something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. In recent years, more consumers are trying meat substitutes made with plants. But they’re not made only with plants. Fake meat can have over 50 chemical ingredients—something you wouldn’t realize if you’re ordering at a restaurant.

Consumer interest in fake meat has been piqued thanks to new manufacturing techniques that give plant-based “burgers” a taste more closely resembling real meat.

But how do corporations make plants taste and have mouthfeel resembling real beef? Chemical additives. After all, veggie burgers don’t grow in the ground. They’re made in factories.

Here are some things you might not know are in that veggie burger: . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2019

New machine to help export traceability:

AgResearch is developing a method of giving New Zealand exports a “unique fingerprint” that scientifically proves their provenance and could be used to deter supply-chain fraud.

The technology is so accurate that it can differentiate New Zealand, English and Welsh lamb using a measurement that only takes a few seconds. It can also detect what feed – such as grain, grass or chicory – a carcass was reared on, an increasingly important trait driving consumer spending. . . 

Click here for more: https://vimeo.com/340251207/7367c5e18b

Dr Alastair Ross said the new rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) machine being used at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus detects the “molecular phenotype” of a sample, a unique “fingerprint” made up of molecules resulting from the interaction of genes and the environment. This measurement, which previously took over an hour of lab work, can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. . . 

Farmer submissions encouraged on ZCB:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle is encouraging dairy farmers to speak up and make a submission on the Government’s proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

“DairyNZ welcomes the opportunity to engage constructively and share our perspective on this Bill and are encouraging dairy farmers right across New Zealand to do the same” says Dr Mackle.

“The potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for our sector. That’s why farmer engagement is so important. . .

New Zealand women’s meat industry group launched – Angie Skerrett:

A group for women working in the meat industry in New Zealand has been launched, in an effort to attract more women into the sector.

The New Zealand launch of Meat Business Women (MBW) is the latest in a rapid expansion of the organisation which was started in the UK.

The group held its inaugural meeting in Napier, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector. . .

Farmer satisfaction with banks continues to slide:

Farmers’ overall satisfaction with their banks remains strong but it is declining steadily, the Federated Farmers 11th biennial banking survey shows.

Satisfaction rates are at their lowest since the survey began in August 2015.

“More than 1300 of our farmer members responded to the survey we commissioned from Research First and overall satisfaction with banks has dropped over the last six months from 74% to 71%,” Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Proceed with caution on speed limit changes:

Safety of people on our roads is a top priority but any move to reduce speed limits should not be an excuse to skimp on road maintenance and upgrading, Federated Farmers says.

“There are some rural roads which are too windy, narrow and bumpy to drive on safely at 100 km/hr,” Feds transport spokesperson Karen Williams says. “It may indeed be wise to post a lower speed limit on such routes, though the overriding rule ‘drive to the conditions’ springs to mind.”

However, the blanket and widespread speed limit reductions being suggested in the wake of data from a new NZTA mapping tool could cause far more harm than good. . .

Comvita CEO to step down, Hewlett to lead strategic review Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita’s chief executive for the past four years, Scott Coulter, is stepping down in September and, while it searches for a replacement, former CEO Brett Hewlett is taking on a temporary executive role to review the company’s underperforming assets.

Coulter will retain a governance role in the manuka honey products company’s business in China business.

“Scott’s commitment to Comvita since joining the company in 2003 has been outstanding,” says chair Neil Craig. . .


Rural round-up

May 26, 2019

New technologies will ‘not be enough’ to hit emission targets – Gerald Piddock:

As thousands of schoolchildren held nationwide strikes to demand action on climate change, 200 dairy farmers gathered in Rotorua to hear the latest science around ways the industry can lower its emissions.

What they heard at the DairyNZ Farmers Forum was there are no silver bullets to help the industry lower its emissions enough to hit the 47 per cent target by 2050 outlined in the Zero Carbon Bill currently going through Parliament.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said he supported the principle of what the students were striking on. . . 

Quake farmers back to normal – Annette Scott:

Clarence Valley farmers say there are lessons to be learned following the Kaikoura earthquake that geologists claim is the biggest land uplift ever recorded in the world.

November 14, 2016, is well remembered in the Clarence Valley farming community as the day a 7.8 earthquake transformed their land.

The worst hit, Rick and Julia King of Middle Hill Station, lost everything except their will to keep farming. . . 

Farming his way back to nature – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmers Greg and Rachel Hart are committed to producing top-quality food by using nature as a guide while re-establishing a connection between people and the land that sustains them. Colin Williscroft visited to see what they are doing.

Optimising life – whether that’s soil life, plant life, animal health or the people who make it happen – is a guiding principle for Central Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Greg Hart.

Greg, who farms Mangarara Station near Elsthorpe with his wife Rachel and children George, Bill and Emma, operates a farming system focused not only on being productive in the short term. It has a longer-term focus, aiming to regenerate the land while helping build stronger connections between the landscape and people.

A key is balancing relationships between nature and production agriculture as part of ecosystem restoration, including a focus on soil health, carbon sequestration and planting native and food-producing trees. . . 

Mechanised future for fruit orchards – Yvonne O’Hara:

The orchard of the future will be highly digitised and more productive, with fruit being grown in a protected environment and tended by robots, says Plant and Food Research (PFR) scientist Dr Jill Stanley.

She said human workers would still be in demand as labour requirements would be the same but there would be less pressure at peak times.

Dr Stanley was the guest speaker at the Alexandra, Clyde and Districts Business Group’s monthly breakfast meeting last Friday and talked about what the horticulture sector would look like by 2050. . . 

Farmers need to embrace technology – Diane Bishop:

The day before his 50th birthday Conor English left a secure high-profile job to start his own company, Agribusiness New Zealand.

It was a big risk, but one that has paid off for the former Southlander.

English was the keynote speaker at the Southern Primary Sector Update conference, hosted by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on Friday. . .

Best days ahead at Telford

As you pull up to the gates of Telford, the sight before you may not be what you expected to see in the middle of the South Otago countryside.

An impressive historic stone building surrounded by established rolling gardens is your first glimpse into the state-of-the-art offering Telford gives for anyone who chooses to study at the institution. As the heart of the Telford campus, many young minds have walked in through those doors and work-ready agricultural specialists have come back out.

A staple of New Zealand farming history and agricultural education since 1964, Telford’s Balclutha campus extends over 921 hectares of with halls of residence and facilities, technical workshops (machinery, carpentry and welding), classrooms and livestock units. . . 


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