Rural round-up

March 9, 2015

Scotsman wins Golden Shears open final:

The competition dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of shearing’ entered a new era at the weekend with the retirement of legend David Fagan and its first ever international winner.

Fagan, the long-standing champion, has 16 Golden Shears wins under his belt, but in the year of his retirement he did not make the final of the open event on Saturday.

Instead, he ended his 35 year career in the semi-finals, leaving the Masterton crowd to witness something the competition has never seen before in the 55 years it has been running.

In front of a full house of 1600 people, plus another 40,000 around the world who watched a live stream of the event, the Scottish national anthem rang out for the first time.

Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who now farms in Whangamomona in the King Country with his family, was initially lost for words at his win. . .

Hunter Downs water scheme a viable proposal – Annette Scott:

Proposers of a new $350 million irrigation scheme in South Canterbury have tagged their preferred option and unveiled the scheme costings.

The scheme proposes to irrigate 40,000ha from the Waitaki River.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser said its technical and economic feasibility had been confirmed with a second capital call going out before the end of this month. . .

Rules must be obeyed, ECan says – Annette Scott:

Rain that has fallen in the past two weeks has been welcome but has been no drought-breaker for parched Canterbury farmland.

As farmers desperately wait for nature to give them a much needed break, NIWA’s autumn forecast does come under a brighter rainbow for parched pastures and farmer anxiety as worst-decision time approaches.

A serious concern now is an autumn drought, which would be worse because there won’t be enough autumn growth to see livestock through winter. . .

Morrinsville sharemilker wins title –   Gerald Piddock:

Aaron Price is a young, fit, professional married man with a plan.

He is also the 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winner, netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The 29 year old took out the major title at Friday night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards.

It was the fourth time he had entered the contest and had been runner-up twice.

Winning the title helped him achieve a short-term goal. . .

Bald Hills sold to overseas investor – Lynda Van Kempen:

Another Central Otago vineyard is changing hands to an overseas investor – the second this year.

The sale of Bald Hills, owned by Blair and Estelle Hunt, was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) this week.

The 11ha Bannockburn property has been bought by a Japanese investor, who has set up a company called Beecom (NZ) Ltd. . .

Planting an orchard to build a pre-school:

Planting an orchard as a marketing ploy – hardly from the pages of marketing textbooks but highly effective for the Pukeko Pre-School at Tauwhare, near Hamilton.

The recipients of a grant from Fonterra’s Grass Roots Foundation (as well as from the WEL Energy Trust), the pre-school kicked off its efforts to create a new $300,000 facility with a tree planting exercise late last year.

From the grants, the trust overseeing the new pre-school decided to plant about 45 trees – feijoas, blueberries, peaches, plums, apples, lemon, oranges, mandarins, limes, persimmons and some rosemary. A planting day involving about 40 parents and children saw the trees start their new lives after being purchased from a Te Aroha nursery. . .


Rural round-up

February 13, 2015

Sheep and beef farmer environment champions:

Seventy sheep and beef farmers from around the country are gathering in Wellington this week to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge they need to negotiate sustainable land and water management regulations in their own regions.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has facilitated the conference given the growing need for sheep and beef farmers to be represented on their local catchment groups and working with their Regional Councils to ensure sheep and beef farmers’ voices are heard as decisions on farming within limits are developed.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said the group of farmers who are attending the two day workshop have put their hands up to say they want to learn everything they can about being involved in environmental decisions in their own regions. . .

 NZ orange roughy exports accelerate as fish stocks improve – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand orange roughy exports are accelerating as catch limits of the deepwater fish, once a poster child for bad fisheries management, increase amid confidence about improving stocks.

Exports of the slow-growing fish, which can live for up to 130 years, rose 6.9 percent to a three-year high of $36.5 million last year, according to Statistics NZ data. That compares with a high of $170.2 million in 1988 when the fishery was at its peak, and a low of $29 million in 2012 when catch limits were cut back. . .

Just how far can Overseer be trusted? –  Doug Edmeades:

Assuming that only matters of great importance to the nation get discussed in Parliament, Overseer is now a national issue.

Hansard records show that on November 26 and again on December 2, 2014, questions were raised in the House of Representatives about the use of Overseer.

Specifically, concerns were raised about Overseer’s fitness for purpose and in particular its use for setting nutrient limits and compliance monitoring in regional council plans.

I will assume that all farmers, except those sent loco by the summer heat, know that the Overseer to which I refer, is not the boss-person. I’m talking about Overseer, the nutrient budgeting tool being promoted by its owners and regional councils to improve nutrient management and in particular to managing nitrate N losses. . .

Conditions not structures cause of red meat price drop – Allan Barber:

The pre Christmas surge of optimism, boosted by high beef and sheepmeat prices when export volumes were low, has largely disappeared. The impact of the drought in the lower North and South Islands has seen slaughter numbers increase dramatically at the same time as a series of negative events have reared their head in world markets.

Unfortunately nobody foresaw such an adverse combination of events coinciding at the same time, although our weakening dollar made a positive difference. Drought always pushes stock prices down because available processing capacity, even in these times of excess capacity, can’t handle the livestock numbers farmers need to get off their farms; overseas customers know they are in the driving seat and, naturally enough, pay no more than they must. . .

Environmental advisor turning farmer:

Q&A with 29-year-old James Hoban, who is in the process of moving across to farming after six years at Environment Canterbury.

Former ECan land manager advisor James Hoban is working towards a career in sheep farming. His key environmental insight for fellow farmers is around completing a farm environment plan. He says 90 per cent of what is covered is generally recording what farmers are already doing.

While most of his family’s 227ha property at Culverden is currently leased for dairy support, James has his eye on a farming career in the medium term and is consulting in the meantime. He left ECan in June and has been kept busy advising farmers in the environmental space ever since. James is a member of the B+LNZ Northern South Island farmer council and is also heavily involved in the “Dryland farmers group”, which is approaching ECan for a plan change regarding the controversial Hurunui/Waiau water zone. . .

DairyNZ addresses price dip, drought:

DairyNZ has launched a campaign to help dairy farmers survive a tough season bought on by a low milk price and now drought.

More than 70 farmers from around 30 farms nationwide have agreed to share their information and host events as part of the Tactics for Tight Times campaign. The campaign is designed to help farmers survive the current season and build their resilience for the future.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the fact the Minister for Primary Industries has declared drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as a medium-scale adverse event, has highlighted the critical need for extra support for farmers. . .

Ban and fine for animal neglect:

Two lifestyle farmers in the Tararua District have been banned from owning or managing livestock for two years after being convicted of animal neglect.

Gavin Matthews and Wendy Francis Hayward of Pahiatua admitted a charge under the Animal Welfare Act, stemming from a complaint in 2012, about the poor condition of cows on a Pongaroa grazing block managed by the pair.

As well as the ban, they have been fined a total of $8,500. . .

Wallace Corp backs Ligar to commercialise novel polymer products – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Ligar, a startup developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), has secured an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wallace Corp, operator of New Zealand’s largest animal products rendering facility, to fund a range of industrial trials that could see it commercialise some products this year.

Ligar is developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for purification and extraction that solve a growing need for many industries to extract both valuable and unwanted substances, such as consumable liquids, dissolved minerals, water or ingredients used in manufacturing.

It has already used its specially-designed molecules to remove agri-chemicals and smoke taint from wine and is now investigating food and beverage purification and metal extraction. . .

Cheese, Yoghurt & Butter Unite for Battle of NZ’s Best:

The battle to find New Zealand’s best cheese is set to be fierce with over 400 entries, three new cheese companies, a new cheese type, new international judges and the exciting addition of yoghurt and butter categories.

Now in its twelfth year, the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards bring the country’s finest specialty cheese under one roof, in the hope of winning one of 23 champion titles.

This year is a stand out in award history with the new addition of yoghurt and butter categories, acknowledging the importance of these dairy products alongside cheese in retail chillers.

The future of New Zealand cheese making will also be recognised with the first Primary ITO ‘Aspiring Cheesemaker’ Award. . .

Wool Firms:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction offering 14,000 bales saw a generally strong market with 96 percent clearance.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies lifted 0.43 percent compared to the last sale on 4th February having minimal impact on the market.

Mr Dawson advises that steady sales and quick shipment requirements are continuing to keep pressure on local price levels. . .

 

CRV Ambreed appoints new senior managers:

Leading herd management company CRV Ambreed is continuing to grow its capacity to support New Zealand dairy farmers with two key appointments to its senior management team.

Mathew Macfie and Andrew Singers have been appointed as sales and marketing manager and information management and information technology manager respectively.

CRV Ambreed managing director Angus Haslett said the additions to its senior management team will help the company continue to offer leading herd improvement solutions in New Zealand. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

September 25, 2014

ECan commissioner vents spleen at nutrient meeting –

Environment Canterbury commissioner David Bedford lost his cool at a packed zone committee meeting in North Canterbury.

Trying to resume the meeting after a short tea break, Bedford used several expletives suggesting he was sick of farmers who turned up to meetings for just a short time.

His outburst reflected the often tense tone of the meeting, which drew several hundred dryland sheep-and-beef farmers to the small Waikari hall.

They came to express their concern at nutrient regulations that would leave many low-emitting dryland sheep-and-beef farmers unable to increase their lambing percentage, plant a stand of Lucerne, or grow an extra feed crop. . .

Agri-food opportunities in China – Keith Woodford:

Over the last two years I have written, together with my colleague Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock,  a series of six articles on various aspects of China’s  agri-food industries. They have been published in the Journal Primary Industry Management, which is the quarterly journal of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management.

The first article, attached at the bottom of this post, was written in late 2012.

Some things have moved on since then – for example we reported in that article that New Zealand’s exports to China in the year ending 30 June 2012 were $NZ6.1 billion, which was a three-fold increase in only five years. In the two years since then to 30 June 2014 they have almost doubled again to $NZ11.6 billion. However, the key drivers of change as we set out in that article remain the same.

These key drivers are increasing wealth, urbanisation, changing cuisine, food safety, agricultural production constraints, and associated food security issues. . .

Sheep meat in China and the opportunities for NZ – Keith Woodford:

This is the second of the “China series’  that Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock and I wrote for the journal  ‘Primary Industry Management’. It was written in December 2012 and published in March 2013.

As with everything relating to China, the statistics do not stand still.  In the year ending December 2012, 13% of New Zealand’s sheep meat exports income came from China. Move forward six months, and in the 12 months ending June 2013 this had risen to 21%. Then in the 12 months to June 2014 it rose again to 30%.  On a monthly basis, the latest statistics for March 2014 show the China component of New Zealand’s sheep meat trade was 31% by value and 44% by volume. . . .

Doing Agri-business in China – Keith Woodford:

This is the third of a series of six papers written for the journal ‘Primary Industry Management’. This one was published in June 2013.

For this paper we had three authors: Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock, Malcolm Cone and myself. The work was led by Sharon and formed the first part of her PhD studies.  It is based on case study work undertaken with New Zealand firms operating in China.

The focus of the work has been on cultural differences and how they affect business practices and relationships. About half the interviews were with Kiwis and undertaken in English. The other half were with Chinese and mainly undertaken in the Chinese language. . . .

Venison finishing margin better – Joanna Grigg:

Daniel Stack puts it bluntly.

“If venison prices are the same as last year venison farming will struggle to be both sustainable and competitive with alternative land uses, like dairy grazing.”

That said, he is poised to increase deer numbers if things come right. The Canterbury Plains venison finisher and dairy grazer hopes that indications from some venison exporters of the October schedule peak reaching $8/kilogram (kg) for 55 to 60kg AP stags will bear out. This would put returns at a level seen in 2012, when the average published schedule peak was $7.95/kg. It is also up on the past season’s $7.40/kg peak.

Stack said that to increase the number of deer weaners bought in, back to his typical 500 a year, he would need to see the schedule price at eight dollars. . .

 Take a long, hard look at your farming systems:

Industry body DairyNZ says the latest drop in Fonterra’s forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season is a signal to farmers to reassess the costs of their farm system.

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season from $6.00 to $5.30 per kg milksolids (kgMS). It also increased and widened the estimated dividend range from 20-25 cents per share to 25-35 cents – amounting to a forecast Cash Payout of $5.55-$5.65 for the current season.

DairyNZ’s general manager of research and development, David McCall, says most farmers should cope with lower prices this season, provided another drought doesn’t hit the country. However, around a quarter of the country’s farmers, those with a lot of debt, may have difficulty meeting their farm working expenses and interest payments. . . .

 Cattle and dairy lead rise in exports:

Goods exports rose $227 million in August 2014 compared with August 2013, to $3.5 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Live animals led the rise in exports, due to live cattle. Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports also contributed to the increase, led by higher quantities. The 16-percent rise in milk powder, butter, and cheese was led by milk fat and cheese.

“Cattle, milk fat, and cheese contributed to the rise in exports,” international statistics manager Jason Attewell said. “It is the first time in three years that a rise in dairy was not led by milk powder.” . . .

Award winner becomes Dairy Women’s Network Chair:

Dairy Women’s Network has appointed one of its past Dairy Woman of the Year winners as incoming chair.

Incumbent network chair Michelle Wilson has announced 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd as the organisation’s new chair; a role she will assume following the organisation’s annual general meeting on 22 October.

“It is a credit to the Dairy Women’s Network board to have a person with Justine’s knowledge of agriculture and governance experience at the helm,” said Wilson.

“As outgoing chair I take a lot of comfort in knowing that the organisation will continue to grow from strength to strength with strong leadership at the board table.” . .


Rural round-up

July 18, 2014

New rules tough for everyone – Andrea Fox:

The jury is in on pollution crime against New Zealand’s waterways and lakes and no one – farmer, business, suburbanite, or city apartment dweller – will escape the verdict’s impact.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, released by the Government this month, is the latest decree on a matter considered to be of national significance.

Yes, farmers have been fencing off rivers and streams and managing effluent systems better for several years in the name of freshwater protection policy under the Resource Management Act. And they have made big improvements.

What is new is a change to that policy statement. It is going to be tough on farmers – but equally tough on urban NZ. . .

Top genetic selection produces biggest antlers – Heather Chalmers:

Producing deer with some of the biggest antlers in New Zealand takes careful genetic selection and a dollop of luck, says South Canterbury deer farmer Chris Petersen.

Just as others follow the breeding lines of thoroughbred racehorses, Petersen does the same for deer.

“I know all the top stags and hinds in New Zealand. I study them.”

Farming Highden Deer Park with his wife Debra at Sutherlands near Pleasant Point, his stags are highly regarded for their antlers, both for trophies and velvet. The 130 hectare rolling downlands farm carries 364 spikers and mixed-age stags, 122 mixed-age hinds and 55 18-month hinds, as well as this season’s progeny. Most stags are grown out to seven years old for the trophy market, with 27 out of 30 sold last year. . .

Stink over cattle compost – Shelly Robinson:

A North Canterbury business that composted cattle heads and ears for a gelatine factory was forced to stop taking the waste after complaints about the smell from neighbours.

T W Transport’s composting facility at Burnt Hill, Oxford, has been fined seven times by Environment Canterbury (ECan) for odour issues in breach of its resource consent.

Company director Ted Wills said it stopped taking the waste from Gelita NZ Ltd because of the complaints. “If there was a smell out our way, even among the farms spraying effluent on paddocks or silage, we still got the blame,” he said. . .

Fast, slow beef finishing assessed in Far North:

HAVING ALL animals on a farm growing at the same pace could result in big risks for drystock farmers, delegates at the final Finished in 20 Months beef seminar in Northland heard last month.

The three-year Beef + Lamb New Zealand project ran multiple studies to find techniques which would let farmers get beef cattle to finishing weights before their second winter, a key aim being to avoid having heavy animals on pugging prone clay soils when it gets wet.

But some in the trial have argued even 20 months is too long and target kill weights need to be hit at 15-16 months so they can be sold before Christmas and the subsequent slides in schedule prices. . .

Many markets for miscanthus:

FUEL, BEDDING, shelter, forage: super-tall perennial grass miscanthus could have markets as all of them, says Miscanthus New Zealand, a Te Awamutu-based company promoting the crop.

The grass is already fairly widely used in Europe and the United States as a bioenergy crop but was only introduced to New Zealand in 2010 with about 40ha now established in various crops and trials nationwide.

“It’s a triploid hybrid so it’s completely infertile,” says Miscanthus NZ managing director Peter Brown. . .

GFAR Partnering with EAT to create research network uniting agriculture and nutrition:

The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) has entered into a strategic partnership with the EAT Stockholm Food Forum. GFAR provides a forum for experts and organizations around the world to share agricultural research and create positive change. EAT is an international network made up of experts on sustainable food, nutrition, and health. By teaming together, GFAR and EAT hope to lead an integrated approach to increasing the sustainability and nutritional value of food.

Dr. Gunhild Anker Stordalen, director of EAT, recently spoke about her organization and the reasons behind this new alliance. . .

Six key recommendations for ramily farming in North America:

In April, representatives from 35 organizations around the world gathered in Québec City to participate in the Dialogue on Family Farming in North America. Motivated by the United Nation’s designation of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), the dialogue included workshops, panel discussions, and question periods organized by UPA Développement International (UPA DI) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This week, a report was published summarizing the key presentations and findings from the event.

Canadian presenters spoke on a range of topics including the importance of women in small farming, and the challenges of farming profitably without formal training. . .


Rural round-up

May 19, 2014

Lake Tekapo not feasible as source of irrigation:

More than $90,000 has been spent on a study showing that taking water from Lake Tekapo for irrigation would be too expensive to be viable.

The 150-page report, released by Environment Canterbury yesterday, examined the economics of transferring water for irrigation from Lake Tekapo, via Burkes Pass to farmland nearer the coast.

The report examined two concepts: a two-cumec (cubic metre per second) year-round transfer to support 11,550 hectares of irrigated land and a 10-cumec seasonal transfer for 25,000ha of irrigated land.

Both proved to be financially unviable, with the second proposal potentially costing between $478 million and $691m to build, with a negative cost-benefit of $1857 per hectare on the scheme.

ECan deputy commissioner David Caygill said the report only examined economic factors. . .

Federated Farmers welcomes return to surplus:

Federated Farmers welcomes the confirmation in today’s Budget of a return to surplus.

“The projected surplus for 2014/15 might be small but if achieved it will be a great milestone resulting from a lot of hard work,” said Federated Farmers’ President Bruce Willis.

“The achievement of a surplus should not be underestimated given the impact firstly of the Global Financial Crisis and then the devastating Canterbury Earthquakes.

“Most importantly for our economy, is to have a surplus combined with continued spending restraint to take the pressure off monetary policy and therefore interest rates and the New Zealand Dollar.

“A surplus also gives us some real choices for the first time in several years, choices which our friends across the Tasman would love to have in the wake of their own Budget.  . . .

Fonterra cleans up at Dairy Industry Association of Australia Awards:

Fonterra Australia has taken home 61 awards from the 2014 Dairy Industry Association of Australia (DIAA) Australian Dairy Product Awards.

Adding to its award collection, Fonterra Australia picked up 12 gold awards for products including Riverina Fresh milk, made in Wagga Wagga; its Tamar Valley no added sugar yoghurt and mild cheddar, made in Stanhope.

Fonterra Operations Manager Chris Diaz said the awards confirm the high-quality of Fonterra products made across our 10 manufacturing facilities. . .

Using beef semen in dairy herds – everyone wins:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) funded Dairy Beef Integration programme is looking at the impact of using quality beef genetics in a dairy-beef supply chain. The work is supported by LIC and Ezicalve Hereford – which, as the name suggests, is a brand name for Herefords that have been selected for ease of calving.

Led by Dr Vicki Burggraaf, the five-year project is now in its third year. “Seventy percent of New Zealand’s beef kill comes from the dairy industry, yet there is limited use of proven beef genetics on dairy farms – despite the fact these genetics have the potential to increase calving ease and produce better animals for beef production.”

Dairy farmers have traditionally shied away from using beef semen, with many believing it would result in more calving problems, compared to using dairy semen. “This project is investigating how accurate this belief is,” Dr Burggraaf says.

“It aims to demonstrate to both dairy farmers and beef farmers that using beef semen with high estimated breeding values for calving ease and growth rates will benefit everyone.” . . .

Australia wool week:

Where better to celebrate wool than in the country synonymous with the world’s finest wool for apparel – Australia. And it wasn’t only fashion retailers which united in the name of this naturally inspiring fibre, interior textile brands also banded together to promote the natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre, all singing to the tune ‘Live naturally, Choose wool’.

Previous years have seen Australia celebrate Wool Week against the backdrop of Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. This year, celebrations shifted south to Melbourne – another one of Australia’s great cities which is surrounded by prominent woolgrowing properties and an area with strong links to Australia’s wool industry. . .

How to manufacture consent in the Bay of Plenty – Jamie Ball:

Many of the repeated claims by a kiwifruit industry leader about the post-deregulation apple industry “disaster” are wrong and may be giving the kiwifruit industry false hope.

The more recent allegations, made by NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) president Neil Trebilco last month and this month to support his case (opposition to deregulation of the kiwifruit industry), used figures on the apple industry that have now been rejected by Pipfruit NZ, Horticultural NZ, Plant & Food Research and Statistics NZ as either nonexistent or wrong.

Although NZKGI is the mandated grower body claiming to represent 2700 kiwifruit growers and is the self-declared “Zespri watchdog,” its primary objective is to protect the single point of entry (Zespri). . .


Rural round-up

April 4, 2014

Fonterra Australia and Woolworths announce proposed new 10 year milk partnership for Victoria:

Fonterra Australia and Woolworths today announced that Fonterra Australia has been selected as the preferred supplier to process Woolworths Own Brand milk in Victoria for the next 10 years in a deal that is great for customers and farmers. The proposed long-term arrangement will give farmers certainty that will allow them to invest in their businesses with the confidence that they have a guaranteed buyer for their milk. Woolworths existing contracts were for a period of one year.

It also means that all Woolworths Own Brand milk sold in Victoria will be made and processed in Victoria, supporting local farmers and jobs in regional communities. . .

Farmers told to talk through differences – :

Environment Canterbury boss Dame Margaret Bazley says she is committed to working with farmers to resolve issues with the recently notified Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan.

“I think if you don’t get any other message from me, just know that we at ECan are absolutely committed to working with you to get a solution to these things,” she told high country farmers at a Federated Farmers field day in the Mackenzie Country.

She said the Government’s national policy statement for freshwater required all regional councils to set water quality limits and to have a process and timeframe to achieve that. . . .

Simpler Compliance needed – James Houghton:

Last week I was in the midst of New Zealand’s High Country, watching my son row in the Maadi Cup Regatta. As a Waikato dairy farmer in the midst of a drought, I drew some surprising parallels from the iconic landscape to Waikato’s usually lush pastures back home.

Driving through the vast barren landscape, with sleet coming at us horizontally, you cannot avoid the conclusion that the High Country farmers here in the South Island must be made of some hard stuff.  To farm down here is certainly not for the faint hearted, and requires big thinkers who can innovate the land into a viable business. Through the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998, High Country farmers have effectively lost the grazing rights to the top 60 percent of the Crown’s land to conservation, so the need for water has become a much more pressing issue. They need water to negotiate their farm through the loss in feed, another similarity we are also experiencing in the Waikato right now with our second drought in two years. . .

High Court rejects kiwifruit growers’ claim – Niko Kloeten:

Disgruntled kiwifruit growers have taken the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to court over the performance of a German company that owns Turners & Growers.

But a High Court judge has rejected their challenge to the OIO’s view that German company BayWa, which now owns 73 per cent of listed fruit and vegetable marketer Turners & Growers, had fulfilled its consent conditions.

The OIO, which is an arm of Land Information New Zealand, approved BayWa’s takeover of Turners & Growers in 2012. . .

Change aplenty on FarmIQ demonstration farm:

BEEF COWS are out, dairy grazers in and ewe condition a priority on the first FarmIQ demonstration farm to hold a field day this autumn.

“Historically a lot of emphasis went on fattening lambs,” Duncan Mackintosh of White Rock Mains told a field day audience of about 30 farmers and industry representatives late last month.

With hindsight, some of that was at the expense of ewe condition. Now, they routinely condition score the flock when yarded for other operations. . .

Body language can cause confusion – Anna Holland:

THERE SEEMS to be some confusion out there reading dog body language. 

 A couple of people who had watched a DVD about dog training remarked to me that the dogs looked scared of the trainer. I hadn’t seen it so couldn’t comment however I have since seen the DVD and I don’t think the dogs are scared.

Also, at my training days, I have had people remark that the dogs I am demonstrating with have their tails between their legs. It seems to concern the person more than the dog. Why?


CCC ‘incompetent’ – Bazley

June 8, 2013

Environment Canterbury head Dame Margaret Bazley says Christchurch City Council is a “totally incompetent organisation”.

. . . Documents obtained by The Press under the Official Information Act show the tension between the two councils over the delivery of transport infrastructure, particularly the city council’s delay in building a bus “superstop” at Northlands mall.

ECan chief executive Bill Bayfield wrote to his city council counterpart Tony Marryatt on December 10 last year saying it was “extremely disappointing” the superstop was not ready for a December 3 deadline.

The city council’s “inadequate provision of infrastructure” was undoing his staff’s work, Bayfield said.

A council staff member replied, accepting responsibility for the Northlands problems, saying: “Rather than offer excuses, I can confirm that the new infrastructure will be in place in Northlands by the end of February 2013.”

When this deadline was also missed, Dame Margaret weighed into the debate: “I have monitored the performance of the Christchurch City Council on the provision of these facilities… and have built up a picture of staff who tell lies, and of a totally incompetent organisation,” she wrote to Parker on April 16.

“Our staff have at all times worked collaboratively with your officers and have been given assurances that everything was in order, and progress was on track, when this was obviously not true.”

It was a “sad reflection on our supposed partnership” that even building a bus stop on time seemed beyond the city council, she said, and asked Parker to intervene. . .

Friends who are, or have been, trying to do business and rebuild homes in Christchurch tell stories of delays and frustrations which suggest that problems with the council aren’t restricted to this project.

The city has been devastated and faces a huge task in rebuilding.

The council plays a big part in ensuring the rebuild goes as smoothly as possible.

That requires people and systems designed to respond quickly and competently to minimise problems and maximise service.

The council needs a how can we help attitude backed by action for the good of the city and its people.

They and the country need the South Island’s biggest city rebuilt and back to its best as soon as possible.


Rural round-up

May 24, 2013

Agribusiness Innovation and Growth 2013:

New Zealand’s agritech sector is a $3 billion industry, generating export sales in excess of $700 million a year. Top players in the sector are gathering in Hamilton on the night before Fieldays for a mini-symposium on agribusiness and innovation. It’s a Universities New Zealand event, hosted by the University of Waikato on behalf of the University Commercialisation Offices of NZ (UCONZ), and it’s open to the public by online registration.

The keynote speakers will be the Minister for Economic Development Hon Steven Joyce, Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, and Fonterra Nutrition’s Managing Director Sarah Kennedy. . .

Fieldays Innovations Centre brings to life Kiwi can-do attitude:

The Fieldays Innovation Centre Competition is the perfect forum for inventors to introduce their primary industry themed, ‘homegrown’ designs to a local and global audience.

By creating an opportunity for inventors to showcase their designs and prototypes, which are then critiqued by key industry leaders, it’s the ideal way for Kiwis to get past the first, crucial step to gaining commercial success in New Zealand and beyond.

With a serious prize pool available for inventors in the following categories; Grassroots, Launch NZ and International (covering local and global, individual and company entrants), they must wow judges to be in with a chance of winning financial and mentoring support. The goal: to establish their invention across local and global territories and gain commercial success. . . .

Fertiliser Company Helps Curb Pollution in Rural Red Zone:

A group of South Island farmers have rallied together to improve their environmental practises and protect their land and waterways.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has declared the Upper Waitaki region a red zone because the nutrient levels in the Ahuriri River are too high.

At a farm field day organised by fertiliser and lime company,Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd, ECAN told farmers in the Ahuriri Valley that the community wants to see clean water in local rivers and streams and farmers need to better manage their nutrient application. . .

‘Farmy Army’s’ John Hartnell Honoured:

John Hartnell, the driving force behind Federated Farmers’ ‘Farmy Army’, received the New Zealand Order of Merit today.

Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, John organised farmers from around the region, now coined the ‘Farmy Army’, to assist in clearing liquefaction, delivering food parcels and providing general assistance to vulnerable families.

“It is a real honour to be recognised in this way by the Governor General, I am truly humbled,” says John. . .

Exports to China back on track:

Federated Farmers is hugely relieved the meat export impasse in China has been resolved, but believes New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) need to take a hard look in the mirror.

“Can we say thank you to the Minister, our trade officials and the Chinese authorities for solving a big problem,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and its trade spokesperson.

“China is our largest market for lamb by volume and in the first quarter of 2013, surpassed Britain in terms of value for the first time ever. This is what was at stake so it is embarrassing to discover the fault lay here in New Zealand.

“It feels as if we have been ankle-tapped by a member of our own team. . .

MIE secures farmer mandate for meat industry reform:

A week after meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) has secured a farmer mandate to pursue a value and growing meat industry.

“Having concluded a series of meetings from Gore to Gisborne, MIE now has the confidence to push forward with red meat industry reform,” says Richard Young, Meat Industry Excellence chairman.

“Farmers realise there must be change in our industry if we are to arrest the loss of farms and farmers to other land uses, like dairying and these days, forestry. The only way you achieve this is to make red meat an attractive commercial proposition.

“That is why all industry stakeholders need to be part of the positive change our industry is desperately crying out for. Something MIE is here to champion. . .

New president for Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo:

Following Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo Annual General Meeting, Alan Wills has been elected provincial president following the retirement of Neil Heather.

“What Neil has done over the past few years will be a hard act to follow but I shall give it my best,” says Alan Wills, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.

“The positive contribution made by Federated Farmers and Neil is exemplified by the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective. Known as the Otorua Accord, this was signed in February between Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Te Arawa and our councils. . .

New Technology to Boost Sustainable Fisheries Research:

 Deep sea technology that will provide some of the world’s most accurate and useful marine sustainability research is being launched today.

In a world-first, New Zealand fishing company Sealord has invested more than $750,000 in a new multi-frequency Acoustic Optical System (AOS).

At an event on-board Thomas Harrison, prior to the vessel taking the new equipment on its first sea-trial, Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy launched the new AOS which will provide a boost to the science that contributes to New Zealand’s world recognised Quota Management System. . .

Dollar Pushes up Local Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the local market lifted significantly for the 10,400 bales on offer at the South Island sale this week. The weakening NZ dollar, particularly against the US dollar which was down 4.97 percent compared to the last sale on 9th May and the weighted currency indicator down 3.91 percent was the principal market influence. This was supported by recent strong purchasing interest and a seasonal limited wool supply.

Mr Dawson advises that a nominal offering of Mid Micron Fleece were firm to 3 percent dearer. . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2013
Lies, damned lies and statistics or historical facts about sheepmeat – Allan Barber:

A brief comparison of sheepmeat and milk solids prices since 1991 throws up some interesting facts. These give the lie to the belief that the dairy industry is consistently more profitable than the sheep sector.

The statement that there are three kinds of lie – lies, damned lies and statistics – is often attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, 19th century British Prime Minister, but it was popularised by Mark Twain. Students of two of this country’s best known (and generally most profitable) agricultural commodities may find it hard to believe, but you can’t really argue with the facts.

In 1991 soon after I started my agricultural career in the stock and station industry before moving to the meat industry two years later, the price of lamb hit a low point of $14 a lamb; mutton was even worse, being down around $4 a ewe at the meat plant. In contrast the 1991 dairy payout was $3.40 per kilo of milk solids. . .

Committees starting point for law – Tim Fulton:

Environment Canterbury is assuring the public the plans it is generating in land and water committees won’t be obliterated by the Resource Management Act process. Tim Fulton examines what Hurunui-Waiau’s ground-breaking process means for other catchments.

Cantabrians have heard a lot about the exhaustive toil of their zone committees.

They have also had a sense that most of the recommendations will be merged into law.

The Hurunui-Waiau zone committee is the first to have its recommendations to a hearing panel measured against a Resource Management Act-based regional river plan. . .

My new job and youth employment – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve decide to trial a video blog, simply because I don’t seem to have much time to write a blog post any more.

So when I’m busy I’ll just talk about whats on my mind for 5 minutes and just post the video.

I’ll be honest and say I’m a little nervous about posting the video. I’ve followed people on blogs or read their books etc and formed an opinion about the person based on what they have written. . .

A cow portrait for the neighbours – Moon Over Martinborough:

When our neighbors John and Aussie Bronwyn announced that they were selling their property and moving away, CJ and I were mortified. More than anyone, those two have taught us how to live on 20 acres. How could they abandon us?

Aussie Bronwyn is our High Priestess of Chicken Wisdom. John lets CJ borrow and break his tractor on a regular basis. And every Tuesday we spend wild evenings with them – playing cards, accusing each other of cheating, and heading home to bed by 8:30pm. . .

The sun is up and so is the sparky (or the day began pear shaped) – Milk Maid Marian:

Dairy cows are rounded up before dawn but, today, they slept in. We had a bit of a disaster in the dairy last night that would have meant the girls missed breakfast. That certainly would not do, so while they waited for the sparky to weave his magic in the grain auger control box, this is how the cows enjoyed watching the sunrise. . .


Rural round-up

April 21, 2013

New water use plan for Canterbury – Annette Lunn:

A new water plan will allow more land to be irrigated in Canterbury – but has set strict limits on the amount of phosphorus in the waterways.

Environment Canterbury has accepted recommendations in the Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan after months of public consultation.

The plan allows 70,000 more hectares of land to be irrigated. . .

Take good care of your farming mates – Pasture to Profit:

This week on Twitter there was a Multi-Nation discussion and concern about “farmers being in dark places” as a result of stress.
Extreme weather events in many countries including Ireland, UK, West Australia and New Zealand are putting farmers under immense stress. Stress about money, feed availability and the costs of buying in expensive feed when pasture is not growing. 
Hell it’s tough! . . .

Inspirational Young Farmers Win Supreme Title in 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

An innovative and hard-working young couple has collected the Supreme Award in the 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Central Wairarapa farmers Michael and Karen Williams received the award at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 18, 2013.

Their 224ha arable, lamb finishing and beef unit, Ahiaruhe Farm, was described by BFEA judges as a very well organised business “run by an inspirational young couple”.

The Williams have immense passion for their farming operation, applying considerable business acumen to everyday decisions, judges said. . .

Gloves off in CAP reform:– Douglas MacSkimming:

THE GLOVES are off and the fight is on to secure the best possible deal for Scotland’s farmers in the CAP reform package.

This was the message from Rural Affairs CabSec Richard Lochhead, who this week outlined the wishlist he would pursue in the last push to agree a reform deal by the end of June.
Addressing a CAP modelling conference in Edinburgh, on Wednesday, Mr Lochhead stressed: “The negotiations aren’t over – we still have the opportunity to fight for Scotland’s remaining demands.
“Like a level playing field on coupled payments – we want to see 15% for all member states, not just for some. Like ensuring that the national reserve rules will help new entrants of all ages, not just those under 40. . .

The Mysterious Mr Black: A farm story (bit of a true story bit of a yarn) – Mad Bush Farm:

When you’re just a kid of five or six years old, things are always larger than life. It took bravery to venture into the old chicken houses on the farm next door. They made for a ramshackle collection of buildings, slightly on a lean, with rusted corrugated iron,  the timbers full of dry rot. Inside the groaning slowly collapsing sheds, were the old nesting boxes, some with eggs still in place, the hens that had laid them long since vanished. I vaguely recall the flocks of White Leghorn hens out in the paddocks foraging away for their feed of grubs and insects between the blades of long rich dairy grass, where once cows had grazed. They had long since gone as well and the walk through milking shed had been abandoned to the elements.

All kids like to venture into places they’re not supposed to go into. That’s the fun of it, doing something you’re not supposed to do, and go looking where you shouldn’t. . .

Pregnant sheep survives 11 days under snow at Scottish farm:

A pregnant sheep who survived 11 days buried under snow at a farm in south west Scotland is on the road to recovery.

The animal is already walking around and eating after its ordeal and was one of only four sheep that managed to survive.

It has even gained some notoriety for managing to stay alive, with thousands of Facebook users ‘liking’ a post that brought news of its amazing feat.

Young farmer Stuart Mactier spoke of his excitement at finding the ewe alive. . .

From The Farmacy:

Photo


Rural round-up

February 5, 2013

ECann Rakaia River recommendation accepted:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government has accepted Environment Canterbury’s recommendation to change the water conservation order that covers the Rakaia River.

The change will allow TrustPower to release water from Lake Coleridge for irrigation when the river is low, increasing the reliability of the water supply.

“Environment Canterbury’s report and recommendation is a good example of both environmental considerations and the needs of the farming community being taken into account,” Mr Brownlee says. . .

Why wash clean linen in public – Alan Emerson:

Farming is certainly in the mainstream media. 

Most outlets are covering the DCD saga and they weren’t helped by some woolly statements from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Fonterra.

I thought the two fertiliser co-operatives, Ballance and Ravensdown, handled the issue well, with their media releases being factual and unemotive. Both withdrew their DCD product and that, in my opinion, should have been the end of the story.

The issue is simple – DCD is safe. It has been around since the 1920s and used in its current form since 1981 and that is the problem.

Because it isn’t a new product but an adaption of an existing chemical, it is not classified under the international Codex Alimentarium. For that reason there is no minimum or maximum allowable level.

The problem is technical and procedural – it is not a chemical or health issue. Googling DCD you can identify all the many countries using it. You can also read glowing references about the product’s ability to increase yields in tomatoes, wheat, barley, rice and grass. . .

Lessons learned on managing perception – Alan Williams:

THE DCD issue has thrown up some lessons on how to manage market perceptions when the debate gets away from the science, Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general (Standards) Carol Barnao says.

MPI’s risk assessment team discovered quickly there were no food safety concerns from traces of DCD found in whole milk powder, but the time taken for action was seen by some people as too slow and the presence of an unexpected compound was linked with tainted food in some markets.

More than three months passed between Fonterra’s product testing and the withdrawal from the market of the fertilisers containing DCD.

If there had been food safety concerns action would have happened much sooner, Barnao said.

Working groups were set up as soon as MPI was alerted in early November but it took time to complete the testing methodology and the why, when, and how of what happened, she said. . .

Happy to break new ground – Hannah Lynch:

Primary industries might be getting a new minister, but it’s in the associate role where a woman will be getting to make a mark for the first time. Hannah Lynch reports from Parliament.

The first woman appointed to a ministerial role in agriculture is not afraid of bringing a touch of femininity to the job, revealing she wears high-heeled boots on the family farm. 

Jo Goodhew has just been made Associate Primary Industries Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle that elevated the previous associate, Nathan Guy, into the main role.

“It is exciting but it is part of the general trend we are seeing where women who have the right skills are doing anything,” Goodhew said. 

“Women are going into roles that were previously held by men but now it’s just recognition that if you have got the skills it doesn’t matter what gender you are.”  . . .

MyFarm expanding to sheep and beef farms – Hugh Stringleman:

MyFarm intends to use its farm ownership syndication model for sheep and beef farms as well as dairy farms.

It put together one sheep and beef farm syndicate in 2010, for Kaiangaroa farm east of Taihape, and during this year will offer several more.

MyFarm director Andrew Watters would not specify the locations but gave parameters for the suitable properties and regions.

They would be mainly sheep-breeding and lamb-finishing properties, with beef cattle only additional. . .

Farmers Preparing to Steak Their Claim :

Farmers across the country are selecting their entries for the 2013 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin.

The competition to find the country’s most tender and tasty steak is entering its 11th year and is keenly contested nationwide.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is taken very seriously and winning has become a badge of honour.

“The Steak of Origin rewards farmers for their efforts and showcases the skill in the New Zealand beef farming industry,” says Champion. . .

Freshman Sire Highlights Final Day of Karaka 2013:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2013 National Yearling Sales Series has drawn to a close today at Karaka with the final 212 yearlings of the Festival Sale concluding a bumper seven days of selling that has seen a total of 1021 lots traded for $72,387,700.

For the third day in a row Westbury Stud’s first season sire Swiss Ace (Secret Savings) provided the top price of the day, this time it was the colt at Lot 1353 from the four-time winning Stravinsky mare Poetic Music bought by Rogerson Bloodstock for $95,000.
1353 web
Top lot of the day the Swiss Ace colt (Lot 1353) purchased by Rogerson Bloodstock for $95,000

“He was the nicest horse here today and he proved that because he was the top lot of the day.

http://www.fwplus.co.nz/article/alternative-view-why-wash-clean-linen-in-public?p=6


Rural round-up

January 7, 2013

Rabbit rise may bring 1080 response – Gerald Piddock:

Environment Canterbury’s annual count shows that rabbit numbers are on the rise in the Mackenzie Basin and Omarama.

The regional council monitors rabbit trends every year and the latest draft analysis showed a noticeable increase of rabbits in the Mackenzie Basin, eastern Mackenzie around Haldon Rd and in Omarama.

ECan’s biosecurity team leader, Brent Glentworth, expected there would be some large 1080 operations this summer, particularly on the eastern side of the Mackenzie, as land owners battle to keep rabbit numbers down. . .

UK biofuels influence NZ wheats:

European, notably UK, breeding programmes, growers at PGW’s agronomy group field day last week heard.

 Europe is normally a regular exporter of wheat, but three massive biofuel plants have created an extra 2mt of demand for wheat, preferably high starch soft milling types that maximise ethanol yield, Limagrain’s UK director of sales and New Zealand coordinator, Alastair Moore (pictured), explained.

“We’re seeing quite a drive to the soft wheat end and a lot of the new varieties recommended [in the UK] were in that category.” . .

Insecticide removal would hit crops hard – Gerald Piddock:

Seed and cereal farmers face a major risk to their productivity and profitability from the removal of organophosphate insecticides from the market.

Current control practices used by farmers, particularly during crop establishment rely heavily on organophosphates which are currently the subject of a review and re-regulation by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Organophosphate insecticides are used by farmers to control grass grub, one of the country’s most destructive plant pests. . .

Van der Heyden works till end:

OUTGOING FONTERRA chairman Henry van der Heyden will be using the next five months as a director to help execute the co-op’s strategy refresh.

Van der Heyden is defending his decision to stay on the board after relinquishing the chairmanship to John Wilson. He says the decision has been taken in the interest of the co-op. Some shareholders have questioned the decision.
Van der Heyden says he has always done what is right for Fonterra. . .

Kirkwood takes vote for council – Gerald Piddock:

Oamaru dairy farmer Greg Kirkwood is the new Fonterra Shareholders councillor for ward 32 in Southern Canterbury.

Mr Kirkwood was elected to the council ahead of Geraldine dairy farmer Ad Hendriks.

He takes over from Desiree Reid, who retired from the position by rotation.

Mr Kirkwood said he put his name forward for the Shareholders Council because he wanted to get involved more in the co-operative.

Raw milk health risks under review:

Since the 1950s, New Zealand’s commercial milk supply has been pasteurised – treated with heat to kill bacteria – and most of us have swallowed the official position, that untreated milk is potentially dangerous to drink.

But there’s a growing trend of consumers wanting their food in a natural state, and that includes milk. They say raw milk is not only safe, it’s better for you, and a major study is underway to see if they’re right.

Most of us buy our milk pasteurised and from a dairy or supermarket fridge. But for mums like Angela Jones that’s changing. She’s one of thousands of townies making a regular trek to a trusted farmer to buy raw milk at the farm gate. . .


Rural round-up

September 16, 2012

Some bills 80 times initial quotes

South Canterbury farmers are challenging Environment Canterbury over more than $300,000 worth of administration costs they have been charged for water consents. 

    Some of the bills are 80 times greater than the amount the farmers were initially quoted. 

    The group of 17 South Canterbury and North Otago consent holders will dispute the administration costs at a hearing in Lincoln on Monday. 

    The costs were billed to the farmers back in 2010 after they were granted 35-year consents to take water from the Hakataramea River. The farmers had waited more than a decade for the consent decision. . .

Legal scrap on cards over LIC hairy calves – Richard Rennie:

Farmers stuck with mutant LIC genetics have strong legal grounds for mounting a compensation challenge against the breeding company, a senior lawyer says.

Concern is growing through all dairying regions as more farmers discover young stock containing the genetics from the LIC bull Matrix.

The bull has sired calves exhibiting mutated traits including excessive hairiness, poor growth rates and ill thrift. .

Tax changes leave way open for farm succession:

Controversial changes to tax legislation around livestock valuation will no longer disadvantage new generation farmers following a successful submission process by accounting firm BDO.

Amendments to the proposed ‘Herd Scheme’ changes were released yesterday [Thursday 13 Sept], providing exemptions for farm succession that free up new generation farmers from restrictive tax barriers.

“The exemption for farm succession has come a long way from the original proposal,”’ says BDO Tax Specialist and Farm Accountant Charles Rau. . .

Best coal under best farmland – Tim Fulton:

Some Australians see Drew Hutton as a pinprick for environmental consciousness; others think he’s a pain in the backside. But the spiritual leader of the Australian Green Party has people listening when it comes to coal mining and drilling for gas.

“We’ve got some areas in Australia where we’ve got 100% support. You can’t get those figures outside of a dictatorship usually.”

Hutton is the elected champion of the “Lock the Gate Alliance”, a network of 120 community groups galvanized against perceived bullying from the mining industry.

And it doesn’t take much of a lecture from Hutton to learn landowner rights and public health is top of their agenda, as is the very future of farming on premium Aussie soil. . . .

Training for beekeepers debated – Peter Watson:

An upsurge of interest in beekeeping has sparked debate about how well trained new entrants are. 

    The number of beekeepers has grown by more than 500 to 3775 and hives by 35,000 to 429,000 over the last year, many of them hobbyists wanting to do their bit to help boost bee numbers in the face of growing threats to their health. . .

Buffalo and rhino make big money:

MAKING SURE none of the rhinoceros herd is poached during the night isn’t something New Zealand farmers have to worry about but it is typical for an increasing number of South African farmers diversifying into the lucrative game breeding industry.  

After several years of rapid growth, there are now estimated to be more than 10,000 commercial game ranches in South Africa breeding rare species for hunting, meat and conservation purposes. . . .

The June issue of Country Wide is now on-line.


ECan commissioners to stay

September 7, 2012

Local Body and Environment Ministers David Carter and Amy Adams have announced that commissioners will continue to govern Environment Canterbury after 2013:

A Bill to extend Commissioner governance until the 2016 local authority elections, with a ministerial review in 2014, will be tabled in Parliament today.

“The Commissioners, under the leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley, have proved highly effective in addressing urgent problems with water management in Canterbury and in rebuilding key stakeholder relationships,” Mr Carter said.

“Their strong governance through the earthquake response and rebuild planning has been excellent and it is vital that this work continues. The disruption caused by the earthquakes has made the Canterbury situation unique, and the focus must now be on ensuring the region can maximise its full economic potential as Christchurch rebuilds.

“In the interests of Canterbury’s progress, and to protect the gains the Commissioners have made, the Government has decided the best option is to continue with the current governance arrangement,” Mr Carter said. . .

Environment Minister Amy Adams says it is imperative that Canterbury’s freshwater resources continue to be managed and governed effectively.

“The Canterbury region has significant economic growth potential but also faces significant challenges. It is critical for New Zealand that the planning governance structure for Environment Canterbury is stable, effective and efficient,” Ms Adams said.

“To keep the freshwater management work on track, we intend to retain the limited appeal rights on decisions made by Environment Canterbury on plans and policy statements relating to freshwater management.”

The Ministers thanked the Commissioners for their efforts over the past two years.

“In the face of enormous challenges, the Commissioners have done a great job of managing Canterbury’s vital freshwater and natural resources. We look forward to further progress for Cantabrians and the continued growth of the region,” the Ministers said.

One measure of the change at the council since commissioners took over governance is processing consents.

ECan had the worst record for processing consents under the dysfunctional council, it is now one of the best.

Postponing elections for another three years is a big step but it’s justified by the size of the task facing ECan.

The earthquakes have given the council a lot more work and made it even more important that it works well.

 


Water too important for dog’s breakfast

June 11, 2012

Canterbury doesn’t need another dysfunctional elected council making decisions on water, former Environment Minister Nick Smith says:

As a cabinet minister, he sacked elected Environment Canterbury councillors and replaced them with commissioners.

When their term expires next year, he hopes they will be replaced by a mixed council of elected and Government-appointed representatives.

In Ashburton on Thursday at a Federated Farmers water forum, he said there were some big water decisions ahead of Canterbury, including bulk storage and tapping into alpine rivers protected by Water Conservation Orders.

He said a fully-elected regional council making those decisions would result in the same “dog’s breakfast” left by the previous council, with views polarised into urban and rural camps.

What is it about Canterbury? From the outside, the Christchurch City Council seems to be similarly troubled by dysfunction and it doesn’t have theexcuse of a rural-urban divide.

Sacking the elected councillors from ECan  was not a decision taken lightly. The Commissioners appointed to replace them were tasked with forming a water plan which ECan had been struggling to do for 20 years.

That plan has been superseded by a national Land and Water plan but it still needs a  local body to oversee it.

Nature has made more than enough of a dogs’ breakfast in Canterbury without aggravating problems with another dysfunctional regional council.

Mr Smith said there was no shortage of water in Canterbury, but too much of the water taken for economic use came from aquifers and lowland streams.
“They only make up 15 per cent of our water resource; 85 per cent is in the big alpine river systems but the moment anyone comes along and tries to use the water everyone says ‘no’.”
He said there was a good chance water rights would be pegged back if there was no progress on storage or alpine river resources could not be tapped. 
That would have consequences for both farmers and the economy.
Mid Canterbury has around 160,000ha of irrigated farmland, returning a gross farm income of $1.36 billion. 
Farmers spent around $800 million. 
By contrast, a 250,000ha Australian cattle station currently had a gross farm income of $50m.

Those with short memories might have forgotten the economic, environmental and social devastation caused by droughts in Canterbury and North Otago before we had irrigation.

Those who farmed and lived through them appreciate the value of water applied carefully when required.

Those of a deep green persuasion believe that water should flow from the mountains to the sea untroubled by human and technological intervention.

Those of more moderate views know  it is possible to irrigate in a way that increases production and protects soils without degrading waterways.


CCC needs unity

January 24, 2012

We can’t blame the water – Christchurch is reputed to have the purest supply of any city in the country.

But something’s rotten in the city. ECan turned into ECan’t and matters got so bad the government stepped in and replaced the regional council with commissioners.

Now the city council is exhibiting signs of major dysfunction.

Councillor Tim Carter has called for a commissioner to replace chief executive Tony Marryatt and Councillor Sue Wells wants the government to sack the whole council and appoint a commissioner.

The idea of a unitary authority combining the regional council commisioners, CERRA and the city council has its appeal. The city is facing an extraordinary situation and the ordinary democratic system is showing the strain. But the government isn’t considering that:

The Government will not “interfere” in the troubled Christchurch City Council, says Local Government Minister Nick Smith.

Smith, who visited Christchurch today, said the Government had no plans to appoint commissioners to run the council, despite calls to do so from two councillors.

Problems at the council were “not entirely surprising”, given the scale of the challenge facing the council, but needed to be dealt with without government intervention, he said.

If central government isn’t going to interfere the local one must get its act together.

Polling before the 2010 local body elections indicated that Jim Anderton would win his challenge against mayor Bob Parker which was far from a vote of confidence in the latter.

But the September earthquake turned the tide and Parker was re-elected.

There were rumbles of dis-satisfaction about the chief executive but he was re-appointed in a decision supported by a majority of councillors.

Whether either of these decisions was in the best interests of the city is irrelevant. That’s what democracy delivered.

If councillors aren’t happy with what’s happening they have to persuade a majority of their colleagues to agree with them to get change or accept they’re in the minority and either shut up or resign.

Christchurch people have had more than enough trouble from nature they don’t need more from their council. The people and their city need unity and action any councillors who can’t deliver both should not be in that role.

 

 


Doesn’t look like an accident

January 13, 2012

The best designed effluent systems aren’t immune from human errors and break-downs which can lead to accidental discharges in the wrong place.

That doesn’t make it right but it could be a mitigating factor if damage is done.

However, if the facts of this case as reported are true, it doesn’t look like an accident:

Lloyd disconnected an open pipe from a blocked irrigator and placed it under trees nearby, allowing the effluent to discharge for four days before the pipe was found by Environment Canterbury (ECan) staff.

Unfortunately this enables opponents of dairying to tar all farmers with the same dirty brush.


Public Service no place for zealots

April 9, 2010

“Public servants have to implement the policies of the government of the day

Many people come to government to try to support a good cause. They don’t realise the one who has to determine which good cause is to be supported is the democratically minister of the day. And quite a lot of departments, not slinging off at their professionalism but say DOC, you get a lot of people who join DOC because they know they want to save a kakapo and if not a kakapo it will be the lesser spotted whatever. And if the lesser spotted whatever is not on the minister’s list of priorities they’ll find it hard to do.

A key part of the role of senior public servants is to explain to them well it is the minister who has to take the heat in public about that and the public servant really isn’t just employed to follow their own interests and if they want to follow their interests they can go and work in the private sector like anyone else. . .

. . . No public servant should be zealous about the particular cause they’re interested in. They should be zealous about democracy and respecting the law. . .”

This is an extract from Mark Prebble’s  discussion with Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon.

He was referring to central government but Kiwiblog’s posts on why ECan was sacked  and ECan vs its own commissioners show what he says should also apply in local government.

Some of the officers have at times adopted more of an advocacy role than a neutral advisory role. …

The regional councillors have been replaced by commissioners. Very little has been said yet on the need for a change of staff as well but unless there is a change of attitude and/or personal the problems in ECan will continue.


ECan offers compromise

March 6, 2010

Environment Canterbury has offered the government a compromise between the status quo and the recommendations of the independent review panel on the regional council.

ECan is offering the government what its chair Alec Neill describes as an olive branch.

They’re suggesting the government appoint a commissioner-advisor to manage the region’s water.

They also recommend an external advisory group be set up to assist the commissioner and councillors.

“We’ve come up with what we believe ticks all the boxes for the Government to carry out their direction as to water but allows for the community to retain elected representation.”

The intention was for ECan elections to still go ahead this year, Neill said.

The advisory group would comprise two members of Local Government New Zealand’s regional affairs committee, one Ngai Tahu representative, one member of the Canterbury Mayoral forum, Neill and the commissioner-adviser.

The review panel’s recommendation to sack the council and appoint a commissioner would have requried legislation.

ECan’s offer would mean there is no need for that, provide an opportunity for improved water management in the region and still allow council elections in October.

This isn’t as radical as the review panel’s recommendations but it would retain democratic elections and enable action to improve the region’s water management much sooner than any changes which required legislation.

The need for improved management of Canterbury’s water is urgent and if ECan’s plan was accepted work could start immediately.


Second thougts on ECan report

March 1, 2010

My initial reaction to the report from the independent review panel into Environment Canterbury was to support the recommendation that the council be replaced by an independent commissioner.

However, I didn’t realise that while the government can appoint a commissioner if requested to do so by a regional council, it would take a change of law for that to happen without the council’s request.

That makes me a bit more cautious about the idea.

Another reason for caution is that the district councils which were so unhappy with ECan before are much happier with the improvements since Alec Neill became chair. That gives me more confidence that ECan may be able to come up to scratch without the need for a commissioner.

But whether or not a commissioner is appointed the need for action from ECan is urgent.

The last water consent for water takes from the Waitaki River was North Otago Irrigation Company’s in 2002.

There are now around 40 applications to take water languishing in the system. That includes applications to renew existing consents among which are farmers with businesses built on irrigation who are in limbo until their consents are renewed.

This sort of delay in processing consents is unacceptable.

Whether or not a commissioner is appointed I have concerns that the size and population make-up of ECan is part of the problem.

The population base is in Christchurch and while people there ought to be concerned about their air and water quality I can understand that they might not even think about the Waitaki River about three hours south of the city. 

Yet that river is vitally important for the country because it generates about half our hydro power. The river and its lakes also provide recreational opportunities for tourists, boaties and fishers.

It’s also important for farming because it provides water for around 70,000 of irrigation.

But many of us who live just a few kilometres away from the river are in the Otago Regional Council’s area not ECan’s and so have little or no influence on policies affecting it and us.


%d bloggers like this: