Rural round-up

30/09/2022

Voluntary sequestration schemes create opportunities as well as confusion – Keith Woodford:

Native forests that began regenerating prior to 1990 are excluded from the ETS. This opens opportunities for voluntary schemes independent of Government.

In a recent article, I wrote how carbon credits are not created equal. This inequality is now leading to game-playing and confusion across society. Terms like ‘greenwash’ as the carbon equivalent of a ‘whitewash’ are increasingly heard and there is increasing talk of ‘hot air’ carbon claims.

Since writing that article, I have been wrestling with the challenge of further deepening my own understanding of how the carbon game is being played. It is a game where different players are playing by different sets of rules, as are the certifying referees.  Many of the certifying rules are far from transparent.

Here in this article my focus is specifically on the rules surrounding sequestration that removes carbon from the atmosphere. That leaves other aspects of the carbon rules for another time. . .

Better free trade outcomes an illusion – EU politician – Sam Sachdeva:

EU trade committee chair Bernd Lange argues the grouping’s trade deal with New Zealand is a “gold standard” agreement – even if Kiwi farmers disagree. Lange spoke to Sam Sachdeva about China’s coercive trade practices, cracking down on forced labour, and how the Ukraine invasion has changed attitudes on trade

Even a typically miserable Wellington spring day can’t shake the good mood of European parliamentarian Bernd Lange.

Speaking to Newsroom at the end of a week-long visit to New Zealand, Lange says the grey skies and rain remind him of his roots in northern Germany – although his cheer may be more down to the free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand he is here to discuss.

Lange visited New Zealand in late 2017 for a “fact-finding mission” with other members of the European Parliament’s international trade committee which he chairs. . . 

Synlait posts $38.5m annual profit

The South Island dairy company Synlait Milk is back in the black as its ingredients division saw higher than normal sales, while its major customer rebalanced inventory levels.

Key numbers for the 12 months ended July compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $38.5m vs $28.5m loss
  • Revenue $1.66b vs $1.37b
  • Total average payment $9.59 vs $7.82
  • Forecast 2023 payout $9.50 per kilo of milk solids

Synlait chair John Penno said the past year was “an important period of refocusing”. . . 

Fonterra trials world first in sustainable electricity storage :

A new organic, low-cost, safe, sustainable and long-life battery being trialled by Fonterra, could support greater energy security and distributed electricity generation for New Zealand.

PolyJoule, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-off, is partnering with Fonterra on the application of the battery made from electrically conductive polymers, an organic based compound with the ability to act like metal.

Late last year the world’s first industrial scale organic battery was installed on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa. The battery was cycled daily, supporting dairy shed operations for 10 months. The Co-op is now moving this battery to its Waitoa UHT site, which can be impacted by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says as a significant electricity user at about 2.5% of the national grid, a sustainable and secure electricity supply is vital to the Co-operative’s local sales and exports. . .

Primary sector exporters buoyed by opportunities for a closer India-NZ relationship but different approach necessary :

Primary sector exporters recently returned from a visit to India are excited about the opportunities for a closer partnership between the two countries, however they are urging the New Zealand Government to adopt a more flexible and focused approach to trade.

New Zealand’s agriculture exporters and industry bodies, including representatives from the red meat, kiwifruit, apples & pears and dairy sectors, were part of an India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) delegation which coincided with a visit from Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.

“India has come out of COVID-19 with growing confidence and strength, and its leaders have a clear focus on accelerating economic growth including through trade,” says INZBC chair Earl Rattray, who has dairy interests in India.

“India is on track to become the world’s third largest economy within the next decade. There is a modern economic miracle unfolding there, with an openness to explore mutually beneficial ways to strengthen trade relationships. This is a good time for New Zealand business to embrace India.” . . 

NZ Young Farmers and Ministry for Primary Industries partner to boost wellbeing :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is supporting NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to fund a series of events for NZYF members as part of an initiative to improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

MPI is contributing funding for the events, which will offer a channel for young people across the country to connect and learn ways to manage mental health and build resilience.

NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says mental health is a key concern in rural communities, where factors such as isolation and high workloads can impact overall wellbeing and mental health.

“The mental and physical wellbeing of young people is a big focus of our organisation and is essential for the ongoing viability of many rural communities,” says Lynda Coppersmith. . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2022

Plant and pollute or right tree, right place for the right purpose? – 50 Shades of Green:

We acknowledge with gratitude the latest comments from the Climate Change Commission. That the ETS allows companies to “plant and pollute” and needs reform. These comments are consistent with 50 Shades of Green long running assertions that indeed, the ETS needs a good overhaul.

We continue to ask the Government. Please pause before the Sheep and Beef sector is challenged out of existence. [1]

What has happened under current policy settings? Instead of driving a change in behaviour, at source, the opposite has resulted in our valuable breeding country, the top of the supply chain, used as a proxy, relying too heavily on planting trees to absorb polluters’ carbon dioxide emissions.

While the government takes its time reviewing the ETS, our issue is they have happily ignored our valid and vindicated concerns. Uncritically relying too heavily on what we can only assume is official advice and not acknowledging the devastating effects on New Zealand Hill country constantly put to them. The recent additional sales confirmed, and in the pipeline of more valuable stations lost from the sector that produces c$10b in receipts for the country are gone for good. Sweeping rural communities away in their path. . . 

Huge gains for industry in 50 years of deer farming science :

From a noxious pest that should be exterminated to livestock providing high value products to the world, the deer industry in New Zealand has come a long way in 50 years – and the research that made it possible is now being celebrated.

An event next week at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin will mark 50 years of deer farming science at the site by AgResearch and its predecessor organisations, always in close partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The half century of research has included major advances in understanding of deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics, and in development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world.

“Fifty years ago, researcher Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter thought it might be a good idea to put some science in behind the newly emerging deer farming industry,” says AgResearch’s programme leader for Deer Science for Success, Jamie Ward.

“With incredible backing by early industry participants, innovation, positivity, and fantastic researchers, Invermay became synonymous with the evolution of the New Zealand deer farming industry and earned an international reputation for its science and research output.” . . 

How CH4 Global is turning seaweed into fodder for farm ruminants – and hopes to cool the climate – Point of Order:

Big  strides  are  being  made in the  development  of  a  seaweed-based   product  which,  it  is  claimed,  reduces  methane  emissions in ruminant animals  by up  to 90%.

The product, which its champions say could resolve New Zealand’s climate change threat  from  methane emissions  in  the nation’s  dairy  herd, has  been sold  for  the  first  time—-to  an  Australian customer.

It has been made by CH4 Global™, Inc., a company which says it is

”… on an urgent mission to address climate change by providing our seaweed-based Asparagopsis products to farmers worldwide so they can dramatically reduce the methane emissions of their livestock and realize significant value in the process.” . . 

Trading trees for cows – Nikki Mandow:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is to report next month on offsetting short-lived methane emissions from livestock by planting fast-growing forests – a bid to address two of NZ’s most vexed climate problems simultaneously

Dr Rod Carr says markets – in this case the Emissions Trading Scheme – have an important part to play sending signals about the real costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

But speaking at the Climate Change & Business Conference this week, the Climate Change Commission chair warns the “plant and pollute” nature of the present trading scheme, where companies can buy their way towards net carbon zero using forestry plantings as offsets, risks allowing them to get away with not reducing their actual carbon emissions.

That’s why New Zealand needs new solutions – and just across Wellington, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is exploring one such. . . 

Volatility and vulnerability in the rural sector :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -126 fewer farm sales (-38.2%) for the three months ended August 2022 than for the three months ended August 2021. Overall, there were 204 farm sales in the three months ended August 2022, compared to 255 farm sales for the three months ended July 2022 (-20%), and 330 farm sales for the three months ended August 2021.

1,545 farms were sold in the year to August 2022 — 278 fewer than were sold in the year to August 2021, with 2.6% more Dairy farms, 25.2% fewer Dairy Support, 21.5% fewer Grazing farms, 13.9% fewer Finishing farms and 17.5% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2022 was $25,690 compared to $27,170 recorded for the three months ended August 2021 (-5.4%). The median price per hectare decreased by 6.5% compared to July 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased 8.3% in the three months to August 2022 compared to the three months to July 2022. Compared to the three months ending August 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 3.6%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . .

Bill drawn to help cellar-door wine tasting:

A law change that will help streamline the process required for wineries to sell samples at the cellar door has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today, MP for Kaikoura and National’s Viticulture spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill will plug an important gap in the old legislation so that winery cellar doors can now charge visitors for wine samples without having to secure a separate on-license and all the costs associated with that.

“While this may be a small change, it will make a big difference to New Zealand’s wineries.

“This Bill has been drawn at an opportune time as wineries have faced significant costs and reduced production as a result of the pandemic. This regulatory change will ensure that they can provide cellar door services without the unnecessary extra red-tape. . .

 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ entries open October 1st:

With just over a week until entries open in the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional programmes are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to learn how to deliver over 48 events and numerous judging days..

General Manager Robin Congdon says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season.

“The conference will be a busy few days, ensuring everyone knows what’s required to deliver the dynamic programme and bring them up to speed on this year’s changes made to the Share Farmer category judging process,” he says.

“The Exec have reviewed extensive feedback on last year’s changes to the Dairy Manager and Dairy Trainee categories, which was overwhelmingly positive. . .


Rural round-up

20/09/2022

Beef, dairy must unite to tackle calf crisis– Gerald Piddock:

Rearers ‘have to become a sustainable part of the supply chain’.

The dairy and meat industries will need to work more closely if a permanent solution is to be found to ensure calf-rearers have a more viable future.

Such a solution may mean compromises and concessions from both industries but will be necessary if rearers are to survive. They are locked into a boom-bust cycle that is simply not sustainable, Silver Fern Farms chief supply chain officer Dan Boulton said.

They need to be protected and become a sustainable part of the supply chain. The meat company is exploring ways to reduce the risks rearers face. . . 

Gary Taylor: this whole notion of large scale permanent exotic forests is something that we need to nip in the bud – Angus Kebbell:

Another week goes by and another farm in this country sells to permanent forestry and taking advantage of the current ETS settings. In just a matter of weeks more than 7,000 ha alone have been sold to international companies for the sole purpose of farming carbon. One is the parent company of Ikea and a Swiss company is another. You have to ask yourself the question, are the current ETS settings and in particular the unlimited offsetting opportunities is in the best interest of New Zealand’s future?

This week Gary Taylor from the Environmental Defence Society joins me to give his views on this all-important challenge we face. The Environmental Defence Society or EDS, was founded 51 years ago, with an aim of bringing together the disciplines of law and science.

The Government is about to release a review of the national environmental standards for plantation forestry, so I asked Taylor what can we expect from it’s release. “I’m expecting there to be a shift towards more requirements for resource consents, for forests rather than having permitted activity status, you know, everywhere. And I’m also expecting in conjunction with the with the National Policy Statement on freshwater management a tightening of controls around erosion and sediment and in slash, my position is that I think that forests or the forest sector as a whole has had a bit of a free ride up until now in terms of its environmental performance.”

Taylor also pointed out that the expansion of permanent exotic carbon forests poses a threat to to small rural communities because they’re essentially plant and walk away forests, “So I think that this whole notion of large scale permanent exotic forests is something that we need to nip in the bud.” . . .

Growing farming’s future :

A programme providing school leavers with a viable career option in agriculture has seen student numbers soar in recent years. T

he number of students joining the Growing Future Farmers programme has seven fold in the last two years. The organisation is now recruiting a new general manager to support its growth. GFF’s current general manager Cyn Smith has been instrumental in the programme’s success, supported by a team of 10 regional liaison managers.

The original GFF pilot programme started in 2020 in the Wairarapa and Gisborne involving just 10 students and 10 sheep, beef and deer farms.

This year, more than 60 first year students started with the programme. Next year, 80 students are expected to take up placements on 80 farms in 12 regions across the country.  . .

Make savings now before you have to – Paul Bird

Rising costs are a concern for households and businesses across New Zealand, and dairy farmers are also feeling the impact of high inflation. 

Many farms have had cost increases in their budgets of about $1 per kg of milksolids (equivalent to around a 19% lift from 2020-21 average operating expenses). 

Higher fertiliser, feed, wages and fuel costs are some of the key drivers of these increasing costs. 

Managing your budget in times of high inflation isn’t easy. Any savings you can make in the current season will continue into future seasons, so it’s worthwhile being proactive now, before a fall in milk prices requires action.  . . 

‘Regular crop failures’ if livestock farms convert to arable, study warns

Converting farms from livestock to arable would lead to regular crop failures, according to analysis of one the UK’s largest beef and sheep rearing regions.

The study focused on the southwest of England in response to questions over what could happen to UK livestock farming if society shifts toward more plant-based diets.

It found that the chances of successfully growing winter wheat on fields once used to raise livestock could be as little as 28% in future, as increased rainfall will make sowing the crop impossible in some years.

Forecasts show that in the absence of climate change, yields could be greater than 14 tonnes per hectare – but when the near certain impact of increased future rainfall on sowing and harvest dates were included, it fell in some situations to less than 3t per hectare. . . 

Bee populations facing multiple challenges as Varroa mite and La Niña make for difficult spring – Rachael Lucas:

As spring flowers begin to blossom and temperatures warm up, vulnerable bee populations are beginning to emerge for what will be their busiest time of the year. La Niña

But the forecast wet La Niña conditions may present a challenge for bees foraging for pollen among limited flowering plants, in their efforts to support healthy hives and nourish hungry swarms.

Gippsland beekeeping enthusiast and educator Bill Ringin said swarming was a common occurrence in spring.

“Swarming is the natural process of bees where principally if the colony gets too crowded, the old queen and about half of the bees will decide that they’re going to make another hive,” the Trafalgar East man said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/09/2022

Lamb losses as spring storm brings snow – Neal Wallace:

Two days of snow, rain and bitterly cold temperatures on the east coast of both islands have caused lamb losses and added to already saturated soils.

Snow up to 50mm fell on Monday night in Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay, central North Island and Gisborne Wairoa.

Lambing has started in some lower areas of the North Island and farming leaders said there have been losses.

Snow was lying down to sea level in parts of the South Island on Monday night, and at higher altitude in the North Island where lambing has yet to begin. . . .

High country lessees have high carbon hopes – Richard Rennie:

Lessees of Crown land want clarity – and fairness – when it comes to the carbon work they put in.

High country leaseholders are crossing their fingers the government will see sense in adjusting legislation to better enable them to capitalise on carbon opportunities Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) bring.

Gerald Fitzgerald, legal counsel for the High Country Accord group, said Wellington has repeatedly overlooked high country Crown pastoral lessees when drawing up legislation, whether it be stock exclusion, biodiversity, and more lately new carbon rules.

“Again and again, we have been frustrated there is no recognition in policy design work of the particular tenure of Crown pastoral leases. This is at a technical legal level, and a lack of insight at a practical level on the different farm management systems on high country farms,” Fitzgerald said. . .

 

 

Cheesemaking waste product potential gamechanger for diabetes sufferers :

A New Zealand-based company researching alternative uses for a by-product from cheesemaking has its sights on developing it into a remedy for people with type 2 diabetes.

WheyTech Bionics NZ is partnering with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on a 2-year project that aims to develop technology to process whey permeate as a sweetener product with anti-diabetic properties.

Whey permeate is a by-product from the cheesemaking process. 

“An existing patent from Germany shows the high levels of glucose in whey can create a sugar with properties that are anti-diabetic,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes. . . 

War on weeds – could a wasp join the fight? – Emile Donovan :

We know New Zealand’s ecosystem is precious: our islands are home to flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.

This is special, but it also means we have to be careful. An introduced species from another part of the world can quickly become invasive, take a foothold and wreak havoc.

One way of controlling invasive species is to bring in yet another species to essentially prey on the thing you don’t like.

This is called biological control.  . . 

Agricultural Biotech’ Research Centre for sale goes under the microscope with property investors :

A former equestrian school, wedding and function venue – converted into a high tech’ agricultural biotechnology company’s research headquarters – has been placed on the market for sale.

The property and buildings housing the laboratories and research facilities for ground-breaking rural science company Ecolibrium Biologicals is located in Bombay just south of Auckland, and sits on some 18.55-hectares of land.

The substantial property was originally developed as a kiwifruit orchard in the early 1980s when its owners built a three-bedroom home, while simultaneously converting an old cow shed and building which were later developed into an equestrian riding centre & school.

The venue’s infrastructure was expanded in the early 1990s when a lodge was constructed as a riding school lodge, which later morphed into a wedding reception venue – known as Footbridge, with its own chapel on site, allowing wedding ceremonies to be held on-site. . . 

New Zealand butchery team take third place at world competition :

The Hellers Sharp Blacks have won third place at the World Butchers’ Challenge in Sacramento held over the weekend. The team, made up of six Kiwi butchers, travelled to the U.S.A. last week to compete against 12 other countries in a three-and-a-half-hour showdown at the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento.

Team captain of the Hellers Sharp Blacks, Riki Kerekere says that after two years of covid cancellations it was amazing for the team to finally be sharpening their knives and competing on the world stage.

“To come third is a massive achievement and I am really proud of how well the team performed on the day,” says Riki.

The competition was held on Saturday 3rd September, Californian time, and saw the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento transformed into the world’s largest butchery. Local and international visitors were treated to a spectacular three and a half hour cutting competition where each team had to turn a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts. Teams had to demonstrate their carving, boning and finishing skills underpinned by their own creative and cultural flair. . . 


Rural round-up

17/08/2022

Concern about rate of forestry conversions – Sally Rae:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the rate of whole-farm sales and conversions to carbon farming in the country is “out of control”.

The Government’s announcement last week that exotic trees would no longer be removed from the permanent category of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) was a step back from addressing the “deeply concerning” sale of sheep and beef farms, chief executive Sam McIvor said .

Overseas Investment Office decisions for June show consent has been given under the special forestry one-off purchase for the acquisition of nearly 2300ha of land, running sheep and beef, for conversion to forestry.

Approval was also granted for the sale of a dairy farm for forestry conversion and an existing forestry block. . .

Kiwifruit returns not so juicy this year as rising costs and fruit quality issues bite – Andrea Fox :

Growers in New Zealand Inc’s sweetheart kiwifruit industry are in for some unusually downbeat news next week as rising costs and fruit quality issues combine to drive down forecast returns.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson has sounded the warning in an update to the global marketer’s 2800 New Zealand growers, saying the next orchard gate returns forecast on August 23 will reflect that fruit quality this season remains a significant issue as previously flagged.

Zespri, which has a statutory near-monopoly on kiwifruit exporting with record net global sales nudging $3.6 billion last year, is a little over halfway through its sales season.
Ongoing rain and cold weather in New Zealand and unseasonably high summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere had led to a crowded fruit market, Mathieson said.

“Fruit quality remains an ongoing and significant issue this season….We are not alone in facing this challenge, with quality issues evident across other global fruit categories this season, and our competitors and colleagues have also battled labour shortages, supply chain congestion and inflationary pressures, all of which impact grower returns. . .

Align Farms CEO Rhys Roberts on Government’s regenerative farming project

While chief executive of Align Farms Rhys Roberts has reservations about the Government’s new regenerative agriculture project, he welcomes another voice on the subject.

Ngāi Tahu and the Government are undertaking a seven-year research programme to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The trial will compare a conventional and regenerative farm side-by-side to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

Roberts, who is also the 2022 Zanda McDonald Award winner, has been running a similar trial at Align Farms for years. . . 

NZ avocado industry warned to brace for lower prices as key Aussie market swamped – Tina Morrison :

New Zealand’s avocado industry needs to brace itself for a period of lower prices and volatility ahead as its key Australian market is swamped with the fashionable fruit, and returns from its emerging Asian market lag behind.

Increased Australian production resulted in an “avalanche” of avocados last year which saw retail prices for the green creamy fruit fall to a record low A$1 and prices this year are 47% below the five-year average, according to Rabobank associate analyst Pia Piggott.

“It’s simple supply and demand – as the supply goes up, the price goes down,” she says.

Strong demand for the heavily promoted “superfood” which features in dishes such as smashed avocado, has prompted Australian farmers to plant more than 1000 hectares a year and after six years those trees are now coming to maturity, which is expected to see Australia’s production expand by more than 40% over the next four years. . .

Course tailored for workers – John Lewis :

The rhythms of the seasons have been taken into account in a new Otago Polytechnic education pathway aimed at refining wine-growing and fruit production skills in Central Otago.

It means those already working in the horticulture and viticulture fields can concentrate their energy where it is needed during peak production times of the year while studying for a New Zealand diploma in horticulture production (level 5).

Delivered online and run at night, it enables students to continue to develop their skills in two focus areas: orchard fruit production (stone fruit, pip fruit and berries); and vineyard wine growing.

When they graduate, students will be able to manage horticultural or viticultural operations to ensure fruit or wine grape quality requirements are met. . . 

Australian Dairy Nutritionals to stop milk and yoghurt production in Camperdown – David Ross :

Camperdown Dairy, a historic Victorian brand, will stop producing fresh milk as rising costs push its owner to turn to better margins on milk powder products.

The ASX-listed Australian Dairy Nutritionals, based in the southwestern Victorian town of Camperdown, on Tuesday said it would cancel its fresh dairy produce due to rapidly rising costs that had eroded margins. Woolworths supermarkets stock Camperdown milk in their stores.

Australian Dairy Nutritionals said the move would mitigate staffing shortages and allow it to focus production on higher-margin products such as infant formula and nutritional supplements, but three staff might lose their jobs.

It said margins on fresh milk products had made it uncompetitive to continue, with nearly all suppliers increasing prices by more than 10 per cent and logistics costs nearly doubling. . . .


Rural round-up

16/08/2022

Lack of rural health services distressing – RWNZ :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) say it is distressing to see rural communities suffer due to a lack of access to quality health services.

RWNZ president Gill Naylor says the health and wellbeing of rural communities is at risk of further deterioration if something is not done to resolve the issues facing people who live, work and play in rural New Zealand.

In June this year, a rural health strategy was added to the Pae Ora Healthy Futures legislation which came into effect last month. The strategy had been removed during the select committee phase but was added back into the legislation after Health Minister Andrew Little was convinced to add it by his party’s ‘rural caucus’.

Naylor says the challenges rural families face with access to health services are varied and include a lack of rural midwives, lack of rural nurses and GPs, lack of rural mental health services, delays in emergency services such as ambulances and long distances to travel for services like allied health and cancer treatment. . . 

Exotics forestation surges on ETS carbon values – Richard Rennie:

The Climate Change Commission is estimating exotic forestation has surged to a rate well beyond the annual levels it says is required for New Zealand to achieve 380,000ha of exotic plantings by 2035.

The commission’s general manager for emissions budgets, Stephen Walter, told delegates at this year’s Carbon Forestry conference that the latest data indicates 60,000ha of exotic forest will be planted this year. That is more than twice the rate the commission envisaged.

This is also reflected in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ workload for accepting forests into the Emissions Trading Scheme. MPI’s ETS forestry manager, Simon Petrie, said there is an application queue of 130,000ha of forest awaiting scheme approval as of June.

The recent move by the commission to recommend the government limit carbon units is partly due to concern that current ETS emissions prices will drive large-scale afforestation for sequestering carbon, rather than behaviour change to reduce emissions. . . 

Rural residents ropeable over lack of cellphone coverage – Rachel Graham :

Residents in Ladbrooks, a seven-minute drive from the edge of suburban Christchurch, say living in a cellphone coverage blackspot is annoying and dangerous.

Ladbrooks School, with its 150 pupils, sits in the centre of a semi-rural area with an increasing number of lifestyle blocks.

It also sits in the middle of a cellphone black spot.

Ladbrooks School principal Margaret Dodds said the lack of cellphone coverage was much more than an inconvenience. . . 

Bale-grazing experiment benefits cows and soil – Shawn McAvinue:

A grass and hay wintering system is showing promising results in Northern Southland.

AgResearch Invermay soil scientist Ross Monaghan is running a nearly $1 million project to explore whether dairy cows grazing on pasture in winter can reduce nitrogen leaching and mud compared with being on traditional forage crops.

The Soil Armour Project was launched in October 2020.

Experiment sites are live on a dairy farm on the Telford campus near Balclutha and Freedom Acres Dairy Farm at Wendonside. . . 

New Zealand’s pipfruit industry gathers in August for National conference :

More than 250 growers, suppliers, industry leaders and government officials from around the country will gather at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson for the 2022 NZ Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) Conference.

The Conference will be held on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 August, with the industry AGM being held on Wednesday 24 August at 4pm. An ‘Agritech in the Orchard’ field day will be also be held on Wednesday 24 August, a collaboration between Callaghan Innovation and NZAPI.

The theme for the 2022 conference is ‘Adapting to New Horizons’. NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says that two years on from the beginning of the pandemic, we have learned to modify and adapt to a new environment to ensure New Zealand pipfruit can continue to compete on the global stage, demand premiums and remain an industry exemplar.

“NZ is widely regarded as the best apple and pear producer in the world, but to retain that title, we must continue to adapt and innovate. The Conference will explore how we as an industry can meet and succeed in these new environments. . . 

Improving crop resilience with nanoparticles – Neil Savage:

Materials that can carry CRISPR gene-editing into plant cells could be key in the fight against global hunger.

There were sceptics when Michael Strano and his colleagues published their method for using nanoparticles to alter the biology of living plants (J. P. Giraldo et al. Nature Mater. 13, 400–408; 2014). In a letter to Nature Materials, one prominent plant scientist stated that the findings were wrong. “She wrote to the editor and said, ‘What these authors are proposing is not possible. We think they’re misinterpreting their data’,” Strano recalls.

But the chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, won over his critics, overturning an assumption that the membrane of the chloroplast — an organelle within plant cells that is responsible for photosynthesis — was impervious. “We had real-time video of particles going into this seemingly impenetrable chloroplast,” he says. The method, known as lipid exchange envelope penetration (LEEP), allows scientists to calculate where a nanoparticle will go to inside a cell — such as into the chloroplast or another organelle — or whether it will remain in the cytosol, the fluid that surrounds the organelles. This information can inform the design of nanoparticles that carry gene-editing machinery to targeted areas to rewrite the plant’s genome and imbue it with properties such as pest and disease resistance.

In particular, researchers are exploiting the CRISPR gene-editing system to engineer food crops that offer higher yields, or plants that produce compounds used in medications. The technology, for which Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, allows specific stretches of DNA to be targeted for editing, deletion or replacement. . .

 


Rural round-up

15/08/2022

Slow down! – Dairy News:

The latest Federated Farmers survey of farmer confidence paints a worrying picture.

Of the 1,200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

The message from farmers to the Government is clear, ‘slow down on new regulations’. . . 

Fears that Three Waters could pit hort against urban needs – Business Desk:

The horticulture industry is worried that Three Waters reforms will direct entities to secure the cheapest water supply for urban areas at the expense of food security.

The reforms in the Water Services Entities Bill would establish four water service entities that will take fresh water, wastewater and stormwater functions off local government. It recently came under fire from the auditor-general for being weak on public accountability.

Horticulture NZ spokesperson Michelle Sands told Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee that most horticulture is situated near urban areas and therefore shares water catchments with urban communities.

In its written submission, Horticulture NZ says over 80% of vegetable production is consumed in NZ, with much of the export crop heading for the Pacific Islands. Many fruit crops are also grown for domestic consumption. . .

Ideology out of control as policy decided on the hoof – Allan Barber:

Pastoral farming is coming under continual pressure from all sides.

It seems as though another piece of bureaucratic ideology directed at the agricultural sector emerges every week. 

The latest one, at least at the time of writing, is the recently amended National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB), and more specifically the proposed classification of Significant Natural Areas (SNA) under the legislation. 

Not content with this, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and Minister of Economic Development Stuart Nash are now reconsidering their previous decision to drop exotic forests from the permanent category of the Emissions Trading Scheme, saying these are now “unlikely” to be excluded.  . .

Don’t point the finger at farmers – Glenys Christian:

Farmers should not focus on the negative but sort out some red flags for the industry. Glenys Christian reports.

New Zealand agriculture does not need to be turned on its head, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive, Dr Alison Stewart told the recent Primary Industries Summit in Auckland.

But anyone watching television and scrolling through social media would get the impression it was “totally stuffed”.

“Why doesn’t NZ like what we’re doing in agriculture at the moment?,” she asked. It went back to the 1980s when Government deregulation and reforms “threw everyone up in the air” meaning a survive-or-die choice was faced. So farmers intensified their focus and efficiency of scale and transitioned away from mixed farming. The results were silos of intensive monocultures, where “dairying bubbled up to the surface”. . .

Crooks in the back blocks – Lynda Gray :

Rural crime is an increasing problem as more people struggle financially and illicit drug dealing becomes more widespread, Lynda Gray reports.

The increase in the incidence and frequency of known and suspected rural crime is borne out by last year’s Federated Farmers survey. The 2021 survey answered by 1200 Feds members showed more than half (52%) of the respondents had experienced or suspected they had been the target of rural crime.

That’s a 10% increase from the previous survey in 2016. Over the same period the frequency of rural crime increased with 37% reporting two or more incidents compared to 22% in 2016.

The stats will come as no surprise but raises the questions of what’s driving it, and what steps farmers can take to keep livestock, property and themselves safe from criminal harm. . .

Kiwi firm’s wool filters blast off into space :

A New Zealand wool product will be making its way into space later this month, as part of NASA’s mission to the moon.

An Orion spacecraft will launch on an unmanned test flight on 30 August ahead of scheduled manned missions.

On board for the ride will be Kiwi company Lanaco’s filters made from New Zealand sheep wool.

Lanaco founder Nick Davenport said it was the same technology as in the company’s personal protective equipment, face masks and home air purifiers. . .


Rural round-up

11/07/2022

Foot and Mouth for NZ is worse than Covid – what is Labour doing? – Cactus Kate:

Why are New Zealand media not reporting on the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali?

While there are a lot of Australians there presently, there will be during school holidays more than a few New Zealanders, if not now.

The Aussies are worried enough to be pumping out the articles in media.  Google right now there is a healthy sense of panic brewing.

The team of $55m? Silent apart from this.  Should New Zealand be hit again with it the result would be an apocalypse the likes the country has never seen. . . 

The above post was published four days ago. The next one was published yesterday:

Campaign to rise FMD awareness for travellers :

Biosecurity New Zealand is stepping up its work at the border with a campaign to ensure travellers do their part to protect farmers from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), says deputy director general Stuart Anderson.

Foot-and-mouth disease is in many countries, including Malaysia, China and most recently Indonesia. It’s a good time to remind people arriving in New Zealand how important it is that they follow our strict biosecurity rules to protect against FMD.

“From next week, arriving passengers will notice more information about FMD in the in-flight airline announcements and in arrival halls. We will also provide people with a check sheet of dos and don’ts with regard to FMD, and further promote FMD awareness on social media.

“Our border staff will also step-up searches of baggage for passengers who have travelled from Indonesia, including focussing inspections of footwear and disinfecting them at the airport if required.” . . .

Hands off farm carbon capture NP – Neal Wallace:

The National Party is reserving judgment on He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) but has taken issue with a Climate Change Commission proposal to change the rules of on-farm sequestration.

Barbara Kuriger, the party’s agriculture spokesperson, said she is disappointed the commission is recommending the removal of carbon sequestration by farm vegetation from HWEN, instead proposing to combine it with biodiversity and other environmental outcomes in a whole new system.

“If farmers are going to be charged for their on-farm emissions they should also be rewarded for on-farm sequestration either through He Waka Eke Noa or the Emissions Trading Scheme,” she said.

“The commission should not overcomplicate things. Its first priority must be emissions.” . . 

Getting the EU trade deal across the line – Sharon Brettkelly:

Before New Zealand’s free trade agreement with the European Union comes into force, it’ll have to be translated into the 23 different languages of the region. 

But considering what it took to get it over the line – and the fact many in the EU don’t even want it – the translation of the document is just one of the many complicated aspects of the deal. 

“We are worth nothing to them,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade deputy secretary Vangelis Vitalis told a room of several hundred farmers and other primary industry leaders this week. 

He said he shared their frustration of “where we had to land with Europe on beef and dairy”.  . . 

Desperate Banks Peninsular farmers enduring months of no rainfall – Kim Moodie:

A Banks Peninsula farmer says he has had no reprieve from drought conditions in the region and locals say they have not seen the region’s paddocks so parched in years.

NIWA’s latest climate summary shows the nationwide average temperature last month was 9.9C, making it the eighth-warmest June since records began back in 1909.

The report said rainfall levels were below normal, or well below normal, for the time of year for many western and inland parts of New Zealand.

Soil moisture levels in the eastern-most parts of Otago and Canterbury were significantly abnormal for this time of year at the end of June. . . 

Boosting rural connectivity aims to deliver sustainable benefits to Kiwi farmers:

New funding will help boost internet connectivity for remote rural communities.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is co-investing $149,500 to help WISPA Network Limited (WNL) tackle the commercial roll-out of a collaborative delivery model for a nationwide, rural-focused LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network).

“Patchy network connection remains a significant barrier to many farmers looking to adopt agricultural technology solutions,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“Improving connectivity in remote rural areas of New Zealand would help lift productivity and equip farmers and growers with tools to improve sustainability. . . .

 

Kind face No. 1 provider of premium wool cushion inners in NZ :

In 2020, when most operations for business establishments halted due to COVID-19, Chris Larcombe saw an opportunity amidst the pandemic. With the lack of supplies for face masks, Chris and his team designed and put together triple-layered, reusable face masks. And Kind Face was born.

Their customers love their products because they focus on natural materials and sustainable practices.

No home is complete without cushions on the couch, and they have been a part of every home for centuries.

In a world filled with synthetic fibres and foams, Kind Face offers natural wool pearl cushion inner. It is a handmade cushion inner made from wool. It is a non-allergenic product, offers better moisture management, and is guaranteed 100% to add a little softness and comfort to your home. . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/06/2022

Hobson’s Choice – Rural News:

One of the most recognised lines from the classic TV show Hill Street Blues was the send out by Sgt Stan Jablonski – “Let’s do it to them, before they do it to us”.

Sgt Jablonski’s famous catch cry comes to mind with the release of the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposal to Government. This advocates the system the primary sector wants adopted in respect to reducing on-farm agricultural emissions and sequestering carbon.

HWEN is made up of 14 primary sector groups – including Māori agribusiness. It was set up in 2019 in a bid to stop the Governmnet lumping agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). HWEN’s recently released alternative approach is the farming sector’s answer to the Government’s ridiculous proposition of dumping agriculture into the ETS. In other words: ‘Let’s do it to them; before they do it to us’!

In reality, the Government gave the primary sector a Hobson’s Choice: either it gets plonked into the ETS or it comes up with a tax on production itself. Industry leaders were right to take the option of trying to produce a solution itself. . . 

Weaker Japanese yen a spoiler as orchid sales rebound – Kim Moodie:

Things are looking up for orchid growers, with the flower export market rebounding strongly after being brought to its knees during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

New Zealand’s flower export industry is worth about $20 million a year. Most of that is made up of cymbidium orchids, hydrangeas and peonies.

Covid-19 lockdowns forced the industry to shift into survival mode, but the head of NZ Bloom, the country’s largest flower exporter, said the industry rebounded with sizeable payoffs for growers last year.

Managing director David Ballard told RNZ growers were getting strong prices, but international demand for orchids was mixed. . . 

Rural and provincial councils call on government to better align reforms :

New Zealand’s Rural and Provincial Councils are calling on the Government to slow reforms.

The message comes after all 50 Rural and Provincial Councils’ Mayors, Chairs, chief executives and some of their councillors met for the first time this year during a two-day forum run by Local Government NZ (LGNZ) in Wellington late last week.

The forum heard from politicians from both sides of the House who acknowledged the current pressures on the sector.

Mayor Alex Walker, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, and Mayor Gary Kircher, Waitaki District Council, are the Chairs of LGNZ’s Rural and Provincial Councils. . . 

Farm sale volumes ease but results remain robust :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 fewer farm sales (-11.0%) for the three months ended May 2022 than for the three months ended May 2021. Overall, there were 403 farm sales in the three months ended May 2022, compared to 450 farm sales for the three months ended April 2022 (-10.4%), and 453 farm sales for the three months ended May 2021.

1,697 farms were sold in the year to May 2022, 130 fewer than were sold in the year to May 2021, with 11.9% more Dairy farms, 33.6% fewer Dairy Support, 12.9% fewer Grazing farms, 4.1% fewer Finishing farms and 15.2% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2022 was $29,760 compared to $28,190 recorded for three months ended May 2021 (+5.6%). The median price per hectare increased 3.9% compared to April 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 1% in the three months to May 2022 compared to the three months to April 2022. Compared to the three months ending May 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 31.4%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . . 

Ben McNab wins delayed 2021 Young Winemaker of the Year competition :

Congratulations to Ben McNab from Palliser Estate in Wairarapa who became the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker. The 2021 National Final was postponed several times due to the pandemic but finally went ahead on 22nd June 2022 at Amisfield winery in the Pisa Ranges near Cromwell, Central Otago.

The other two finalists Jordan Moores Valli in Central Otago and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough also excelled themselves with Peter Russell winning the Fruitfed Supplies Speeches and Jordan winning the Villa Maria-Indevin Wine Judging section. All three were delighted and relieved the competition could finally go ahead.

This was the very first time the Young Winemaker National Final has been held in Central Otago and also the very first time someone from Wairarapa has won the prestigious competition. Originally planned as a spring then summer competition, it eventually took place in winter with the snowcapped mountains adding a dramatic backdrop for the day. The finalists undertook a wide range of challenges covering everything needed to be a top winemaker. This included laboratory skills, wine industry knowledge, CAPEX, wine judging and an interview. They also had to prepare and deliver a presentation entitled “What can the wine industry do to reach carbon zero by 2050?” They offered the judges some very well thought out suggestions and plans. . . 

Rural farm with residential subdivision potential at scale is placed on the market for sale :

A substantial farm block overlooking an 18-hole golf course on the outskirts of a prosperous and ever-expanding coastal town – and identified for potential large scale residential property development – has been placed on the market for sale.

The approximately 188-hectare farm is situated on the south-eastern boundary of Thames – the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. The northern portion of the existing dairying unit sits alongside Thames Golf Club, while the property’s western boundary has an extensive road frontage onto one of Thames’ main arterial routes linking it with the Hauraki Plains.

The land sits between various residential, lifestyle and commercial zonings, and is currently zoned for rural use under the Thames-Coromandel District Council plan. However, there is an existing council consent in place permitting the two-staged development of the golf course boundary land into nine large lifestyle-sized residential sections.

In addition, the Thames-Coromandel District Council has also identified the address should be rezoned for future medium density housing under its long-term Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan – to sustain not only the area’s growing population, but also to address the current shortage of new build houses in the locale. . . 


Rural round-up

01/06/2022

No Free lunch! – Rural News:

The ink was barely dry on the Government’s newly released emissions reductions plan before the whining began.

“Agriculture – New Zealand’s largest emitting sector – has got off scot-free, again!” the whiners cried. “And it is getting $339m for a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions, despite the sector not paying any money into the Emissions Trade Scheme.”

On the surface, that may be true. However, you only need to dig a little deeper to see there are no easy answers to agriculture’s emissions profile.

New Zealand is unique in that almost half of the country’s greenhouse gases come from the agricultural sector. However, as has been shown in the wake of Covid and the demise of NZ’s once bustling tourism sector, it’s our dairy, meat, horticulture and other primary produce that this country now relies on for income. . . 

Landcorp land better off with Kiwi farmers :

“State-owned enterprises shouldn’t be competing with Kiwi businesses, and there’s no greater example of this than Landcorp,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“The Government has no business being in farming, it’s interfering in the free market and New Zealand has plenty of ambitious, talented farmers who deserve the opportunity to farm the land currently owned by Landcorp.

“An independent review into Landcorp that was undertaken in 2021 said the organisation failed to meet financial forecasts, had high corporate costs, and invested in unprofitable off-farm ventures.

“No private operation would be able to fail like this, Landcorp is taking taxpayers for a ride. . . 

‘You look at the farm now and you think, what flood?’ – Ashburton one year on – Sally Murphy:

Farmers hit hard by the Ashburton floods say their farms have recovered well and in some cases their pastures are better than before.

It is a year since heavy rainfall caused rivers in mid-Canterbury to burst their banks, spewing shingle across farmland and leaving hectares of land under water.

Bryan Beeston’s dairy farm backs onto the North Branch of the Ashburton River in the worst-hit area of Greenstreet.

On the day of the flood the water breached the two-metre stock bank and tore through the farm, washing away 198 of his dairy cows, ripping out fences and flooding houses and sheds on the property. . . 

New Great Walk over the hump – Vaneesa Bellew :

Tired trampers might sometimes beg to differ with the assertion that the destination counts for less than the journey. But the country’s newest Great Walk, with its benefits for the Waiua community, should avoid any such arguments

The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track will add to its pioneering narrative when it becomes a Great Walk next year and creates history as the only such walk not managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Inc will continue to operate the 61km three-day loop on behalf of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust when it becomes New Zealand’s 11th Great Walk at the start of the 2023-24 season.

Glenn Thomas, chair of the trust, and board director, says the trust and DoC are getting down to the “nuts and bolts” of an agreement on how the partnership will operate. “It’s a process and it’s going very well,” he says. . .

Ensure a smooth moving day :

With ‘Moving Day’ just around the corner (June 1), it’s a good time for farmers to review their biosecurity practices while moving their animals.

“Good planning and communication can help ensure a smooth Moving Day,” says Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) Eradication Programme Director Simon Andrew.

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of farmers and the wider agricultural sector, we have made good progress toward eradicating M. bovis since it was first detected in New Zealand in 2017. We are now aiming to move from delimiting – controlling the last known pockets of M. bovis – to gathering negative test result data to support a statement of provisional absence of M. bovis.

“Good biosecurity practices remain essential to fighting this disease. If left unchecked, the disease could have cost industry an estimated $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns.” . .

The rise and rise of production is grounded at this enterprise. – Jamie Brown:

When the Bruderhof community came to the Inverell district in 1999 they were seeking a return to agronomic roots and in the years since have lifted their beef production as a direct result of growing soil carbon.

A Christian community originally founded in Germany in 1920, Bruderhof was ousted by the Nazis and fled to the Cotswolds, in England, where they changed-up a local farm from poor to high quality in just four years. When World War Two loomed large they sailed over the Atlantic and crossed the equator to set up camp in the jungles of Paraguay.

“My father was a Gaucho,” says community farm manager Johannes Meier. “They clawed out a life in the remote jungle and savannah and they were on horseback sunrise to sunset, raising tick-resistant Zebu cattle.”

German farmers perfected sustainable agriculture in the millennia before their scientists discovered a way of making nitrogen fertiliser from the air but those old-school methods were maintained by the Bruderhof community – formed three years before the invention of the Haber-Bosch process. . .


Rural round-up

13/05/2022

Farmers have good reason to be nervous about the ETS – Campbell Stewart:

As consultation by He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN, the primary sector climate action partnership) has rounded up, there are still a vast number of farmers who are nervous, confused and angry about what the future for managing agricultural emissions in New Zealand might look like, and for good reason.

The fast pace of law-making in New Zealand in recent years is unsettling. Not only for the rural community trying to get their heads around what it all means for them, but for a range of sectors, including participants in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

Farmers are grappling with HWEN’s two options for managing agricultural emissions – an on-farm levy or a processor levy. But the alternative of a blanket inclusion of agriculture in the ETS, which is the option if HWEN cannot convince the Government to adopt its suggested approach, is a particularly frightening prospect.

In its current form, the ETS isn’t working well for participants, particularly foresters. Adding complexity and workload for officials by including agriculture would be a disaster. . . 

Clock ticking on plan to keep agriculture out of the Emissions Trading Scheme – Stephen Ward:

The clock is ticking towards the end of May deadline for finalising a scheme to keep agriculture out the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), an issue of key interest to Waikato’s extensive dairy sector and other agricultural players.

Ngahinapouri dairy farmer Jim van der Poel, the chair of agriculture heavyweight DairyNZ, believes the final proposal from sector group He Waka Eke Noa will ultimately help farmers and others manage emissions-related financial risk better. Overall, he said it would also do more to assist Aotearoa to meet its international emissions reduction obligations as the world tackles climate change.

Besides his organisation, He Waka Eke Noa involves Beef and Lamb NZ, Dairy Companies Association, Federated Farmers, Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ, the Federation of Māori Authorities, Deer Industry Association, Meat Industry Association and Apiculture NZ.

Emissions related to nitrous oxide (from the likes of fertiliser and stock urine) and methane (from cows belching) are covered by what will be proposed by He Waka Eke Noa. It doesn’t cover farmers’ fossil fuel-related emissions. . . 

NZ dairy farmer looks to head up world body

West Coast dairy farmer and former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is making a bid to head up the World Farmers’ Organisation, a Rome-based advocacy group that brings together farmer organisations and agricultural co-operatives from across the world. 

Milne has served on the organisation’s board for nearly five years and is standing for election as president at the upcoming general assembly in Budapest from June 7-10.

She is one of three candidates, something she says is positive.

“It’s healthy to have options and a lot of diversity of thought and debate on the way forward,” she says.  . . 

BNZ launches incentives for ‘green’ farmers

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has launched an Agribusiness Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL) product available to all New Zealand farmers.

The term loan, a SLL available to all farmers no matter the size of their farm or industry, offers interest cost savings for achieving environmental and social targets including: Greenhouse gas reductions; eco-system protection; improved care for staff; protecting waterways; improving biodiversity; and animal welfare.

It is the first time a SLL has been available as a loan product to all New Zealand farmers. Environmental and Social targets are set and agreed with BNZ and progress independently verified annually.

“New Zealand’s farmers are working hard to achieve environmental and social goals and we want to support and incentivise their efforts,” says Dana Muir, BNZ head of natural capital. . . 

Turning theory into practicality – Leo Argent:

Kirsten Duess believes the findings of her research work into soil drainage in Southland will have benefits for other parts of New Zealand as well.

The final-year Lincoln University PhD candidate was the 2021 winner of the NZ Society of Soil Science/Fertiliser Association of NZ Postgraduate Bursary Award. The $5,000 award recognises the efforts and likely contribution to New Zealand soil science arising from a doctorate study.

Duess’ postgraduate research saw her lead a long-term field study on soil and catchment hydrology in Southland. The findings will help understand the role mole and tile drains play in that region’s unique landscape.

“We were interested in understanding the hydrology of a small catchment that is drained by a mole and tile drainage system on a sheep farm near Otahuti in Southland,” she told Rural News. . .

 

Pork industry wants welfare code extended to imports :

More than 3000 people have signed a petition calling for imported pork to meet the same animal welfare standards as pork produced here.

Started by Frances Clement, a policy advisor to statutory industry board, NZ Pork, the petition was presented to parliament on Tuesday.

NZ Pork chief executive, Brent Kleiss said New Zealand’s pork sector had high welfare standards compared to many other countries with less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes.

But over 60 percent of pork consumed in New Zealand was imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country he said. . . 


Govt doesn’t understand ETS

09/05/2022

Environment Minister has announced yet another scheme that will make no difference to the country’s emissions:

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s announcement that the Government is to spend $10 million of taxpayer money to remove coal boilers in New Zealand schools based on a false claim that it will “reduce emissions”.

Reacting to the announcement, Jordan Williams, a spokesman for the Union, explains:

“James Shaw is, yet again, failing to follow the advice of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by trying to tinker with emissions already covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme.”

“Mr Shaw claims that this spend will ‘reduce’ emissions by 36,000 tonnes over ten years. That means he’s paying $278 per tonne vs the $76.50 it would cost at the current ETS price.”

“But it’s even worse than inefficient. Because coal burners are already covered by the ETS, the emissions are simply freed up to go elsewhere because the ETS runs on a ‘cap and trade’ principle.”

“When Mr Shaw says that the 36,000 tonnes is the ‘same as taking 1400 cars off the road’, he is just plain wrong. In fact, this announcement is the same as putting 1400 cars onto the road – the government’s spend simply results in a waterbed effect whereby the emissions are simply shifted.”

“It’s time climate change advocates stated calling out James Shaw’s fibs when he says that spending like this is a ‘a win for the climate’. The real cost of spending like this is the projects the money could have been spent on to actually reduce emissions – either by purchasing ETS credits to take them out of the market, or on projects to reduce emissions in sectors outside the ETS.”

“James Shaw’s false claims that his measures reduce emissions, when he knows very well they don’t, are the sort of environmental and financial trickery that give politicians a bad name.”

“Reducing coal burners might have benefits for air quality and health – but the claim that it helps the climate or reduces overall New Zealand emissions just is not true.”

It also shows the government doesn’t understand the ETS and the waterbed effect.

Removing emissions from coal burners doesn’t reduce emissions, it frees them to go somewhere else.

Just like the ute tax, it’s an exercise in virtue signalling futility and, like so much else this government does, it’s spending money that could be far better spent where it could do some good.


Rural round-up

06/05/2022

Farmer feedback reshaping HWEN :

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) say they are taking farmer feedback on board and working to improve the agricultural emissions pricing options, including driving down administration costs.

Recently, roadshows were held across the country on the two options developed by the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), as alternatives to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the Government has made it clear that the sector need to deliver a credible alternative otherwise the agriculture sector will go into the ETS.

“But that’s not the only reason we need to act,” he says. . .

Landscape like the moon – Sally Rae:

Leo Edginton reckons he landed on the moon this week.

Mr Edginton (39), one of the country’s top dog triallists, is competing at the South Island sheep dog trial championships which being are held amid the vast, rocky landscape of Earnscleugh Station, near Alexandra.

It was a far cry from his home at Mangaheia Station, a large sheep and beef property at Tolaga Bay, on the North Island’s East Coast.

With six dogs qualified for the championships — Larry, Kim, Bully, Robert, Deano and Bert, a mix of both heading dogs and huntaways — it was the most of any competitor. And he has seven qualified for the New Zealand championships in three weeks’ time. . .

Twenty years of forest restoration undone by poor fencing – Diane McCarthy:

One man’s work to restore native bush on Karaponga Reserve over the past 20 years is being undone by inadequate fencing.

Retired dairy farmers Steve and Lesley McCann have taken enormous pleasure in the recovery of native wildlife on and around their McIvor Road property, next door to the reserve.

Even finding the occasional gigantic centipede in the bathtub is a small price to pay.

The McCanns see it as a sign of the resurgence of native biodiversity, due to pest control and planting. . . 

Farmers keen to embrace diverse uses of drones in rural setting – Sally Murphy:

Growing interest among farmers in using drones has led a Southland catchment group to organise a field day to showcase the technology.

Otago South River Care is holding a field day today and tomorrow on a farm in Balclutha with over 80 people expected to attend.

Group co-ordinator Rebecca Begg said catchment group members often talk about innovation on farms and drones keep coming up as something farmers want to try.

“Many are interested but aren’t ready to take the leap yet, so we want to show them what’s available and get some of the technology down to the South Island as most of it is based in the North Island.” . . 

Ready. Set. Rockit – bold new campaign inspires courage  :

As millions of freshly harvested New Zealand-grown Rockit™ apples begin arriving into ports around the world, a bold new brand campaign kicks off harnessing the spirit of bravery.

From artists to fitness instructors to musicians to aspiring basketball players, relatable individuals feature in the compelling campaign, which encourages Rockit’s global consumers to push their limits and go further than they’ve ever gone before (whatever that might look like to them) and “Ready. Set. Rockit.”

With the creative heft of agency Special driving the interpretations of courage that run through this year’s campaign, Rockit’s CEO Mark O’Donnell says the message is bound to inspire. “We love the idea that any challenge – no matter how daunting – can be overcome by taking it just one small bite at a time,” says Mark. “The innovative campaign imagery showcases occasions where a little bit of bravery takes us into territory we’ve never known before – and we can overcome our fear, seize the moment, and really rock it.” . . 

Wattie’s record tomato harvest in 50 years:

Today Wattie’s marks the end of its tomato harvest season with some of the highest yielding tomato paddocks in the company’s 50-year history.

This season, Wattie’s have hit a new record with a crop of 140 metric tons per hectare. That is the equivalent of 5.6kg per plant or 14kg of tomatoes for every square metre and approximately a 5% increase on the highest yield previously achieved.

More impressive is that this is 40% higher than Wattie’s 5-year average yield. Twenty years ago, the 5-year average tomato harvest was 80 metric tons per hectare.

The tomato harvest season started in mid-February and since then, has been going 24 hours a day. Over this time, Wattie’s has harvested and processed 39,000 metric tons of field tomatoes. . . 


Principles vs politics

23/03/2022

Labour’s election commitment to climate change was supposed to be its nuclear-free moment.

File that along with child poverty, Kiwibuild and so many other grand promises that have been followed by little, if any, progress.

The carbon tax on fuel was supposed to encourage people to use less. The steep increase in oil prices recently ought to have reinforced that.

But National leader Chris Luxon hit the target when he spoke about a cost of living crisis and the government folded.

Its poll-driven decision to reduce the excise tax on petrol, at least for three months, shows what happens when principles meet politics.

It illustrates the problem with so many policies that are supposed to address climate change – they impose too high economic and social costs to be politically acceptable. Too often they have little if any positive impact on the environment and sometimes they make it worse.

European countries are back peddling quickly from their decisions to get rid of coal and nuclear power plants because its left them too reliant on Russia’s gas.

Labour’s rush towards greener power has left us reliant on imported coal that is dirtier than the local fuel we’re no longer permitted to mine.

Its ute-tax achieves nothing because of the way the ETS works and its insistence on a carbon tax on fuel has been undermined by the excise tax cut.

Worse, still, Matt Burgess explains the government’s emissions reduction policies are based on the pretence of necessity:

At May’s Budget, the government will commit $4.5 billion to new spending on climate change, more than $2,000 per household. The government will also deliver its Emissions Reduction Plan, an array of levies, subsidies, regulations and hard bans. The government will say these interventions are necessary and that they will help deliver emissions targets.

Neither claim is true. Existing policies already have New Zealand firmly on track to deliver statutory emissions targets. Parliament has committed to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases. Legislation defines net emissions as gross emissions (for example, from car exhausts) minus offsets (for example, the carbon captured by trees, co-operation with other countries). Offsets are recognised in domestic law and international agreements. They are affordable and available in effectively unlimited quantities.

These facts secure emissions targets. Regardless of how much or how little existing policies including the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) lower emissions, offsets will bridge the gap to targets. New Zealand is not in a position of having to resort to desperate measures to meet its climate change obligations. This country can make reasonable or best efforts to lower net emissions with existing policies and be certain
of success.

Accordingly, further policies are not necessary. We have options. The government could choose not to add thousands of dollars to the cost of imported vehicles from next month with its Feebate policy and be certain of delivering our obligations. Agriculture could stay outside the ETS indefinitely while the country reaches net zero emissions. Only by overlooking offsets can the government maintain the fiction that drastic further actions are necessary. The government bears the burden of proof to show how its new policies improve on existing policies.

Even if existing policies were not enough to reach targets, the government’s strategy would not help. The government has already capped greenhouse gases. Changes to the ETS in 2020 introduced a quantity cap. The new cap will be a sinking lid on emissions, set to fall in line with targets. It is well known that policies cannot reduce emissions from under an emissions cap. Cap-and-trade schemes like the ETS effectively neutralise other emissions policies. Where a policy lowers a sector’s emissions, the sector will buy fewer emissions permits. That leaves more permits for others, meaning higher emissions elsewhere. Overall emissions do not change. New Zealand has one of the most comprehensive ETSs in the world. Nearly all of the government’s policies will be neutralised – regardless of whether existing policies are enough.

The government’s vast new spending on climate change policies could reduce emissions by zero tonnes. If this were business, it would be fraud.

Whether or not the government can be accused of fraud, that is scandalous.

This report reviews the government’s climate change strategy. The strategy is based on a misunderstanding of the relationship between the ETS and other policies. The government is pushing its disruptive policies by misconstruing the legislation and by ignoring every feasible alternative. Officials have mostly abandoned cost-benefit analysis; they reject cost and effectiveness as primary goals; they believe climate policies should manage inequality and historic grievances as well as reduce emissions; emissions policies are rarely checked after they are launched; and poor performance is rarely corrected. It is not surprising that policies regularly spend 20 times more than the ETS to abate each tonne of emissions.

We are witnessing an historic public policy failure. Later this year, when the government delivers its new policies, it will call its policies “necessary” or “vital.” This is the pretence of necessity. It is cover for policies that could not survive any test of their merits. After all, there can be no case for expensive, ineffective, and often regressive policies if they are not needed.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to mount a case for expensive, ineffective and often regressive policies if they are needed.

Inflicting them on us when they aren’t, is bad politics based on flawed principles.

It’s a very bad example of must do something and be seen to be doing it policy on the theory that doing something is better than doing nothing, even when in this case, it isn’t. It’s merely virtue signalling to the green zealots here and abroad.

Like far too many other supposedly green policies it unbalances the three-legged sustainability stool – cutting off the economic and social legs leaving the environmental one that superficially looks strong but will not support the weight of science.

The full report Pretence of Necessity is here.


Rural round-up

05/03/2022

Climate change and food security: we should act on both because it’s the right thing to do – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers are currently working with a wide range of stakeholders on how to best develop an appropriate pricing mechanism that achieves a wide range of outcomes. This partnership is called He Waka Eke Noa, or The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and the outcomes sought include reducing emissions, maintaining food production, and protecting the wellbeing of rural communities. A core challenge we have faced is that these principles conflict with each other at times. As the Federation undertakes consultation with its members, we have heard from a number of farmers who are frustrated that the Paris Agreement is not being promoted by He Waka Eke Noa as clear reason for why New Zealand should not cut food production to meet climate targets. The two points most often cited by farmers in consultation so far are:

In the Preamble:

“Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change…”

In Article 2:

“(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production…”

To put it simply, we agree. At Feds, we agree with farmers who point to these sections of the Paris Agreement as text that should be carefully considered when attempting to develop an appropriate pricing mechanism for the New Zealand agriculture sector. . .

ACT beats the Greens to support exclusion of radiata pine from ETS subsidies – but it wants the govt to go further – Point of Order:

The first expressions of support for a shift in government thinking about carbon farming, radiata pine and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) came not from the Greens but from ACT.

From 2023, under current rules, a new permanent forest category of the ETS would allow both exotic and indigenous forests to be registered in the scheme and earn New Zealand Units (NZU).

The government is now proposing to exclude exotic species – such as pinus radiata – from the permanent forest category.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw today released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas for better forest management. . . 

New rules proposed for carbon farming of exotic forests in future :

A new proposal to better manage carbon farming could see future permanent plantings of exotic forests like radiata pine excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas to better manage afforestation.

“Climate change is a challenge we cannot postpone. The government wants to encourage afforestation to help meet our climate change targets, offset carbon emissions, and also help farmers, landowners and investors diversify their income streams,” said Stuart Nash.

“We want to balance the risks created by new permanent exotic forests which are not intended for harvest. We have a window to build safeguards into the system, prior to a new ETS framework coming into force on 1 January 2023. . . 

ETS must back native forests not pine monoculture :

Forest & Bird strongly backs the Government’s suggestion that pine forests should not be counted as permanent carbon sinks in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The organisation says the ETS should instead support investment in native forest and wetland restoration, which will provide much better long-term carbon storage than pines and other exotic trees.

“A native tree planted today could still be sucking up carbon in 800 years, but a pine planted today will likely be dead in 100 years and releasing carbon,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

“The Climate Change Commission told the Government that native forests and wetlands are a much better long-term carbon solution, and Forest & Bird completely agrees. Native forests stabilise land, create resilience in a rapidly changing climate, provide habitat for native species, and overall lock in more carbon for the long term.” . . 

New Zealand is world leading in agri-chemical management:

As a leader of sustainable food production, the agrichemical industry will continue to collaborate with the government to safely manage agrichemicals in the environment, following a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, released today.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says, “we’re confident that the measures for managing and using agrichemicals and veterinary medicines are robust and support our environmental outcomes.”

Our industry aims to play a central role in collaborating with government and farming communities to support positive outcomes for our primary sector and environment – and is open to sharing knowledge and innovation to continually improve them.

“The safe and effective use of these tools can protect our environment from invasive weeds, disease and imported pests while providing food security and economic growth,” says Ross. . . 

Growth in Australian ewe numbers associated with non-Merino sheep – Kristen Frost:

The fast paced rebound in Australian sheep numbers, fuelled by the current favourable seasonal conditions, would normally be viewed as a key lever for expected higher Merino wool production.

But according to industry experts, medium Merino wool prices will need to rally in coming months if they are to compete in the fight for mixed farming as well as battle anecdotal reports of a renewed switch to prime lamb production.

Executive Director of NCWSBA Paul Deane said an increasing flock wont necessarily point to an increase in wool supply, with data from MLA’s latest sheep survey revealing most of the growth in Australian ewe numbers are associated with non-Merino sheep.

“The data shows some evidence that the relative proportions of different sheep breeds has changed within the flock in recent years,” Mr Deane said. . . 


Rural round-up

04/02/2022

Feds: High price on NZ farmers will increase global emissions :

Price penalties won’t drive down livestock emissions without affordable and practical new technologies being available to farmers – unless the aim is to kill off the sector, Federated Farmers says.

The Federation is baffled by comments by Climate Change Minister James Shaw that “…Pricing isn’t the only tool in the toolbox, but it remains the best way to reduce emissions directly – and that’s name of the game.”

Feds President Andrew Hoggard said that was “an overly-simplistic and domestic focused solution to a complex global problem.

“The global atmosphere does not benefit from New Zealand shrinking food production, even if our politicians can crow about local emissions reductions. Our farms’ emissions footprint is world-leading; forgone production here would just shift offshore to less efficient farmers.” . . 

Gain and pain in move to carbon pricing – David Anderson:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison concedes that the two alternative options to the ETS that the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) partnership has developed are not perfect.

However, he says they are as good as they can be and describes the upcoming consultations on them as one of the most important issues for farmers in 2022.

“It’s a complicated topic and we’re strongly urging farmers to come along to a roadshow event to find out more and to have their say,” Morrison told Rural News.

He believes that farming leaders made a significant gain by collectively getting a split gas outcome in the Zero Carbon Bill. . .

MIQ border changes ‘too late’ for sector – Neal Wallace:

The Government’s gradual opening of New Zealand borders is too late for worker-short primary sector employers seeking an injection of foreign workers for the harvest season.

Under a five-step graduated process announced today, New Zealanders fully vaccinated against covid living in Australia and those with border exemptions can return home from 11.59pm on February 27, with 10 days of self-isolation.

From 11.59pm on March 13, the borders will open to New Zealanders and eligible travellers under current border settings from the rest of the world.

Under this step, self-isolation will reduce to seven days. . .

Agriculture needs to adapt or die – Nigel Stirling:

NZ’s agricultural sector needs to recognise Covid-19 as the “new normal,” says leading expert on international trade, Professor Hamish Gow.

He says a lot of firms have used the pandemic as a positive opportunity and have been very successful in driving change within their firms, their value chains, and their industry.

“Then there’s other ones who have sat back and said, ‘We don’t need to change, this will all be over’,” Gow told Rural News. “And we’re now into our third season and they’re still trying to run everything the same way, complaining that they can’t, for example, find workers.

“But they haven’t done anything to change and they’re in the same situation that they were at the start of the pandemic.”

Plans to ‘blanket’ plant trees across Wales could ‘decimate’ farming communities, campaigners claim – Dan Whitehead:

Rural farming communities in Wales could be “decimated” if blanket afforestation is allowed, according to the president of the National Farmers Union in Wales.

The warning comes amid large scale government plans to plant millions of trees across the country to create a new national forest.

But there is concern from some communities about the number of Welsh farms being sold to large-scale investment firms, which plan to create woodland to offset carbon emissions.

In the tiny Carmarthenshire village of Cwrt-y-Cadno, Frongoch Farm was sold earlier this year to Foresight Group – a multi-billion pound private equity firm based in The Shard. . . 

NZ agri-tech start-up Cropsy Technologies successfully raises $15 million in an over-subscribed capital raise:

Cropsy Technologies has successfully completed its first capital raise, with the award-winning ag-tech company raising $1.5 million in an over-subscribed round, ensuring it is perfectly positioned to commercialise its world-first AI-enabled crop vision system.

CROPSY unlocks the full potential of crops with its unique visioning technology that combines mobile, continuous and GPS-tracked high-definition image capture, with AI-enabled software to analyse crops and aid decision making for growers. Attached to a tractor and powered by the tractor battery, the Cropsy vision system sees and understands every single plant while a grower runs their daily crop operations, profiling every leaf, fruit, shoot, cane, and trunk in real-time as the tractor passes by. Eliminating sun, shadows, and reflections from the captured images preserves accurate colours and textures regardless of the time or weather.

The technology enables growers to identify pests and diseases early, for targeted spraying and reduced crop loss, as well as efficiently understanding crop growth and saving time for vineyard and orchard managers. It will boost sustainability goals for growers by ensuring resources are not applied when not needed. . . 


Rural round-up

25/01/2022

NZ’s climate planting asking for trouble – Anne Salmond:

Dame Anne Salmond lays out the fundamental problems with this country’s strategy to use pine forests and overseas offsets to help wish away our climate emissions

New Zealand’s strategy for responding to climate change is fundamentally flawed. Much of the nation’s carbon debt is to be addressed by ‘off-setting’ – planting trees to sequester carbon, either at home or abroad.

On one hand, the government proposes to spend billions of dollars on international carbon credits – in other words, paying people in other countries to plant trees to sequester the carbon emitted in New Zealand.

On the other hand, the Emissions Trading Scheme has been designed as a ‘market’ for the owners of trees in New Zealand to sell the carbon they sequester to buyers who want to offset the carbon they generate.

Since most of the plantations in New Zealand are owned offshore, we’re paying even more to people in other countries to sequester the carbon we’re emitting. . . 

Here for the long game – DairyNZ:

In the sector we know that caring for the land, investing in the future, and making long-term plans are all part of dairy farming in New Zealand. To be a dairy farmer is to be in it for the long game; to create a better future for our farms, our families, our communities, and the country.

With that said it can often be hard to get this across to the wider public – to show we all share the same values, and we all want the best for New Zealand.

We want to help New Zealanders better understand and connect with dairy farmers – what drives you, the common values, and how we are seeking to create a better future for ourselves, our families, our communities, and the country we are proud to call home.  Most of all, we want you to feel proud of your work and vocation, and be confident your story is being proudly told to Kiwis. . . 

New Zealand cheers Canada’s loss in dairy dispute and calls for ‘significant reform’ – Cloe Desirée Juarez:

New Zealand said Canada needs to overhaul its approach to dairy imports because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has repeatedly broken its promise to let foreign cheese and butter flow more freely into the country.  

The public criticisms are the first in what trade lawyers expect could become an international pile-on following Canada’s loss to the United States this month in a long-running dairy dispute. Canada’s approach to dairy imports has long been a sore spot for trading partners, and the success of the U.S. in challenging that approach could embolden copycat actions under trade agreements Canada signed with the European Union and a group of mostly Asian countries that includes New Zealand, a major dairy exporter.

New Zealand’s ministry of foreign affairs and trade, “is currently considering its next steps to address these serious concerns,” spokesperson Susan Pepperell said in an email on Jan. 17. The trade ruling that got New Zealand’s attention involved U.S. complaints that Canada was using a work-around to dull the impact of extra dairy imports allowed under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USCMA), the pact that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2020. . . .

Rider (86) readying for 30th cavalcade – Sally Rae:

“She’s just a treasure.”

That’s how Chris Bayne describes fellow cavalcader Alice Sinclair (86) who is preparing for her 30th consecutive Otago cavalcade next month.

The adventure-loving great-grandmother of 15 has ridden every cavalcade since the inaugural event in 1991 and is somewhat of a legend on the trail. She might rue her knees were “starting to give out” but she made few concessions for her age, including bungy jumping when she turned 85. 

When contacted last week, she was preparing to grub thistles in the hay paddock of her Taieri property.“. . . 

Grapes a bunch of history – Shannon Thomson:

More than 150 years after Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud first made his mark on Central Otago, his legacy lives on.

The goldminer turned winemaker is widely credited as the original commercial winegrower in Central Otago. He planted more than 1200 vines in the Alexandra Basin at his Clyde winery, Monte Christo.

When viticulturalist Sam Wood recently discovered an unidentified grapevine at the original site of Feraud’s winery — the present-day Monte Christo Winery — he turned to the Bragato Research Institute, a specialist research centre for the New Zealand wine industry, for DNA testing.‘

‘We weren’t sure what it was, and I was talking to someone in the industry and they suggested we get it DNA tested,’’ Mr Wood said. . .

 

 

‘Animal sentience committee’ could ‘attack’ farming, MPs fear :

MPs and rural groups have warned that the proposed ‘animal sentience committee’ could be used to ‘attack’ farming, pest control and wildlife management.

Concern has been raised over the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, with one MP this week referring to it as ‘a bad bill’ and ‘an unnecessary one’, during its second reading in the Commons.

The bill, which is only six clauses long, recognises that animals are sentient beings and creates a body to oversee UK ministers’ efforts to take account of their welfare needs when drawing up and implementing policy.

However, much of the controversary to date has centred on the proposed creation of an animal sentience committee. . . 


Rural round-up

01/12/2021

Crunch times ahead for agricultural methane and nitrous oxide – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand must quickly come to grips with how agricultural-sourced methane and nitrous oxide are going to be managed within the ‘Zero Carbon Act’, more formally called the ‘Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019’.   This Act brings both gases into the Emission trading Scheme (ETS) in 2025 unless an alternative charging system can be devised in the meantime.

Initially, the ETS charges will be only 5% of the full carbon charge at that time. However, the percentage will then increase at 1% of the full price each year. Initially, it will only be a few cents per kg milksolids, and a few cents per kg of sheep and beef carcass. But over time it will build up and become painful.

Given the media negativity to dairy, most people probably don’t realise that it will actually impact on sheep and beef profitability more than on dairy profitability.

In response to the situation set out in the Zero Carbon Act, a 13-sector pan-industry group called He Waka Eke Noa is beavering away, with Government encouragement, on alternatives to put back to Government.  On 23 November, He Waka Eke Noa released a document setting out where their beavering has been heading. . .

Farmers face delays in getting stock to the works – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are facing delays in getting stock to the works as the brakes well and truly come off the cattle kill.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad said some farmers were having to wait three weeks before they can get a space.

“Delays are likely going to be a common theme this summer, just purely due to the shortage of meat workers, basically limiting how many cattle can be processed each week,” Croad said.

“If farmers face delays it can put some pressure onto farming systems, fortunately, most areas have still got relatively good feed levels, although some regions are sort of a little bit drier than they’d like to be.” . . 

Rural contractor hires young to fill labour gap, recommends others do the same :

A rural contractor says hiring young people to fill labour gaps has paid off and he is urging others to do the same.

Rural contractors have been struggling with a labour shortage since the borders closed as skilled machinery operators, which normally travel from overseas, have been unable to get into the country.

North Canterbury Chapman Agriculture owner Allan Chapman said the labour shortage had forced him to look closer to home, and he had hired a team of nine young New Zealanders ranging from 14 to early 20s for the current season.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle but it’s been rewarding, it’s probably cost the company a bit of money as the guys have made a few mistakes but at the end of the day we’ve got through,” Chapman said. . . 

Campaign for wool activity garners industry support :

After the successful launch of their strategy in September, The Campaign for Wool New Zealand (CFWNZ) has begun the first round of their “live naturally, choose wool” consumer campaign. With advertising across television, OnDemand, radio, print and digital, as well as consumer PR and a new website launching mid-December, CFWNZ has wasted no time getting their activity started.

Tom O’Sullivan, Chairman of CFWNZ is thrilled. “It’s very exciting to see our strategy turn into action so fast. This agility means we can start turning the dial more quickly.” O’Sullivan has also grown his team to help deliver their bullish plans by bringing on Linda Calder in a newly created role as Campaign Manager.

Strategic consultant for CFWNZ, Kara Biggs provides further comment. “The trick is to line up all of the activity at the same time using a diverse range of marketing channels,” she says. “This means the message to “choose wool” becomes heavily embedded in the minds of consumers when they are making purchasing decisions.” Biggs also remarks that New Zealand acts as a strong test market before more activity is rolled out globally. . . 

Wool weed mats reduce environmental footprint :

A new weed and mulch mat made from natural New Zealand wool is providing a completely organic and biodegradable option for weed control while helping gardeners reduce their environmental impact and support the agriculture industry.

Wool Life director Stephen Fookes says a key point of difference with their weed and mulch mats is that they contain 100 per cent pure New Zealand wool and are an organic product with a low-carbon sustainable footprint.

“We use a low energy needle punching and carding process to create the mats which are produced at our plant located at Te Poi near Matamata. Using new and untreated wool has benefits over recycled wool as the finished product is completely pure and does not require any chemical treatment. The mats and pegs completely biodegrade over 12-18 months.” . . 

How an upland farmer converted to dairying :

Just like his parents and grandparents before him, Nick Davis farmed beef and sheep on Esgairdraenllwyn, an upland holding rising to 430m at its highest point.

But diminishing returns and a desire to take the farm in a different direction from the systems run by previous generations drove a conversion to dairying in 2015.

“A lot of people said it couldn’t be done on this farm and that was another reason for driving forward with the change – the challenge of proving that it could be done and done profitably,” Mr Davis recalls.

To inform that change, he visited dairy farms running the grazing systems he aspired to replicate at Esgairdraenllwyn and spent time with people who had a similar mindset. . . 


Higher costs for no gain

14/10/2021

The government has done it again – an announcement of a plan that will add costs but do absolutely nothing to reduce emissions:

The proposed Emissions Reduction Plan is an emperor with no clothes as it won’t reduce emissions because of the way the Emissions Trading Scheme works, points out the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union whose members and supporters made up the vast majority of submitters to the Climate Change Commission on the same plan last year.

“The Government’s approach to climate change is centred around making as many announcements as possible, with costly new interventions into Kiwis’ lifestyles and the economy, while ignoring the system that actually governs our net carbon emissions,” says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams.

“Most of our emissions are capped and traded under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). That means when the Government uses regulation to cut emissions from a particular source – say, petrol vehicles – carbon credits are simply freed up making it more affordable to produce emissions in other ways. That is why the UN advises countries against the very interventions this Government proposes when cap and trade is in place.”

“Even if the laundry list of regulations proposed in this plan did succeed in reducing total emissions, a Government-knows-best approach inevitably means blunt measures with unforeseen costs. For some businesses, their particular circumstances mean switching to electric heating or electric vehicles will involve inordinate cost.”

The Government has the power to cut emissions at will by simply reducing the emissions cap, which would increase the cost of carbon credits and incentivise businesses and households to cut emissions in ways most practical for their individual circumstances. Ignoring the ETS and using a hundred different regulations to whack unfashionable sectors is divisive, costly, and cynical politicking.”

Using the ETS to increase costs will hit everyone and be hardest on the poor which makes it politically unpalatable, but it would reduce emissions.

What the government is imposing will increase costs but won’t reduce emissions.

Matt Burgess wrote about this last month and concluded:

. . .Next month, the government will commit tens of billions of dollars-worth of new emissions policies under its Emissions Reduction Plan. Nearly all of them will work under a binding ETS cap. As a result, they will not change total emissions by a single tonne. We will be no closer to our emissions targets, not by one gram. We will just be poorer. . . 

This is exactly what’s been proposed – a plan that will impose higher costs on us all for absolutely no environmental gain.


Rural round-up

08/10/2021

Post-1990 forest owners face complex decisions – Keith Woodford:

There are close on 400,000 hectares of non-registered post-1989 forests eligible to join the ETS. Once registered, many owners could within one year earn $7500 or more per hectare in historical credits back to 2018

 This is a further article in a series I have been writing exploring the issues of carbon farming.   The issues are important because we are on the cusp of massive land-use changes. These are driven by the current economics of carbon farming now being far superior to sheep and beef farming on most classes of land.

Carbon farming is part of a virtual market, called the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) in which there is no exchange of a physical product. As such, the ETS is controlled by Government rules and regulations, rather than by physical supply and demand factors.

The carbon farming component of this virtual market relates to post-1989 forests. These are forests on land that was not in forest on 31 December 1989 or in the immediately preceding years.   . . 

From ‘hopeless in the hills’ to hearty hunter – Tracey Roxburgh:

Partly, it’s the thrill of the chase. Mostly it’s spending hours alone in his backyard — the hills around Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes — that puts a smile on Lee Murray’s dial.

Originally from Cromwell, Mr Murray moved to Australia when he was about 11 after his father got a job there in the mines.

After attending high school there, he moved back to Cromwell when he was 17 and decided he wanted to get into hunting.

‘‘I used to try and tag along with the boys that were hearty hunters [such as] Duncan Stewart. He’s a really well-known hunter in the Central Otago region, and I was terrible,’’ the 36-year-old said. . . 

Vet labour shortage at crisis point, recruitment agency says – Sally Murhpy:

Some vet clinics around the country are closing down – because they can’t get enough staff – a recruiter says.

In June the government announced 50 general practice vets would be allowed to enter the country with a border exception – to help with the labour shortage.

But The New Zealand Veterinary Association says only two have arrived – a further 11 are waiting for a spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).

Chief executive Kevin Bryant said they were hearing from overseas vets that they were reluctant to start the visa process due to the delays they are seeing with the MIQ process. . . 

Sunsmart farming is smart farming :

Federated Farmers wants to remind farmers and growers this is a good time to be thinking about getting “sunsmart” for summer.

More than 4000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year, accounting for 80% of skin cancer deaths in New Zealand.

It has been estimated up to 25% of farmers and growers have had a skin cancer.

Farmers and growers are at higher risk of catching melanoma due to New Zealand’s UV radiation intensity, and the time they spend outside. . . 

Lanolin market driven by increase in end-use industries :

Lanolin Market Driven By Increase in end-use industries, such as personal care and cosmetics, baby care products, and pharmaceuticals.

The worldwide market research report Lanolin Market scrutinizes the market’s current trends and growth indicators from 2021 to 2030. The research gives a detailed analysis of global demand, developing trends that are affecting this demand’s potential.

This report covers a variety of crucial but different topics. Moreover, it studies the latest technologies that will influence the Lanolin market future and global acceptance. As efficiency-enhancing technologies are condemning for market progress, our research analysts spoke with key opinion leaders and Lanolin industry players to provide the clients with an extensive picture of the market’s potential. . . 

Experience Comvita’s story of innovation and connection at World Expo 2020 Dubai:

Comvita, global market leader in Mānuka honey, is celebrating the start of Expo 2020 Dubai, with its own Expo experience, including the launch of an immersive digital showcase, designed to create a global movement where bees, people and nature can thrive in Harmony.

Comvita is a member of the Care Collective, one of the key sponsors and suppliers of the New Zealand Pavilion and is proud to share its connection to the New Zealand Pavilion theme of Care for People and Place.

Comvita Group CEO, David Banfield, says “The concept of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship of nature, has been one of Comvita’s guiding principles from the day we were founded in 1974. So for us, there is a genuine sense of alignment and connection with that New Zealand theme, which really embodies our entire purpose as an organisation. . . 


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