Rural round-up

16/12/2022

Labour’s emissions pricing plan has turned into a self-inflicted wound – Craig Hickman :

No matter whether you are for He Waka Eke Noa, the proposed method for calculating how agriculture will pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, or vehemently against it, I think everyone can agree on one thing: the plan was a stroke of political genius from the Labour Government.

In October 2019, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced that the Government would enter a five-year partnership with primary sector organisations and Māori. Their job would be to develop a system that would incentivise farmers to measure, manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The formation of this partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), was almost universally celebrated by the farming sector while being roundly mocked by environmentalists for the same reason; it allows farmers to remain outside the emissions trading scheme (ETS) for five years while the proposal was developed, and possibly indefinitely if the partnership was successful.

This was the first clever part of the Government’s strategy, placing responsibility for devising a way to charge farmers for emissions at the feet of farmers themselves. If the partnership failed to deliver then agriculture would simply be rolled into the ETS, and the blame would lie squarely on farmers’ shoulders for not having seized the opportunity they were so generously given. . .

Investor wants tech farmers not tax – Sally Rae:

New Zealand-American businessman Tom Sturgess said he placed full-page advertisements in newspapers this week to “stimulate a debate” around livestock emissions.

Under the headline “Let’s do right by farmers, and our planet”, the advertisement said he was worried an opportunity was being missed to “truly do something about methane” and that the primary sector would be hurt in the process.

Mr Sturgess, the founder of New Zealand’s Lone Star Farms, is an American-born businessman who served with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam before gaining a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard.

He later embarked on a highly successful corporate career in private equity firms, food service, aluminium manufacturing, housing and office products. . .

Retailers increase their margins on soaring food prices – Jonathan Milne:

From fertiliser to grow the grass on our dairy farms, through to supermarkets’ profit margins, we investigate the different costs contributing to the $1 rise in a simple two-litre bottle of milk

Add Covid to the “costs” column of Richard McIntyre’s ledger. The Horowhenua dairy farmer would often be up early milking, but this morning his workers are doing it all, while he tries to recover from a dose of the coronavirus.

McIntyre’s costs column is a lengthy one. The cost of urea fertiliser has doubled to $1370 a tonne this year – and for a 200ha farm like McIntyre’s, that’s $80,000. Farmers are paying more for diesel. They’re paying more on environmental costs like riparian planting and effuent systems.

They’ve been able to pay those costs, because the farmgate price they’re paid by Fonterra and other dairy companies has also increased this year. But the AgFirst dairy financial survey shows that farmers need a price of $8.48 per kg of milk solids to cover their farm working expenses, debt servicing, drawings, depreciation and taxes. . .

United Fresh market report 2022 finding value in the freshest Kiwi produce :

As we near the end of a rollercoaster year of recovery from the global pandemic, New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetable growers will be taking a deep breath before they leap into 2023.

United Fresh President, Jerry Prendergast, says the challenges faced by those in our $6 billion horticulture industry this year have been significant.

“Despite the overwhelming media around COVID-19, the weather has actually been the largest cause of disruption to growers throughout the year. A particularly wet autumn left many around the country struggling to maintain a steady supply through the winter months.,” he says.

“Unusually for Aotearoa, the weather bombs that disrupted early plantings hit in virtually every region, rather than just in isolated areas, so the impact was felt nationwide. Further damaging spring frosts in early October gave the blueberry crop a real knock and caused significant damage to both kiwifruit vines and apricot trees,” says Prendergast. . .

Rejecting ag technology can be costly – By Stuart Smyth & Robert Paarlberg:

Over the past 25 years, many governments have faced the decision of whether to approve agricultural biotechnologies and their resulting products, genetically modified crops.

Governments that decided to approve GM crops have benefited from higher yields and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence of lower agricultural productivity for countries that opted to not adopt GM crops becomes glaringly apparent when comparing agricultural production in the European Union with that of the United States.

As we know, the U.S. has approved GM crops, whereas the EU decision found the costs of adoption to be greater than the benefits.

Between 1995 and 2019, the agricultural production index for the 27 countries of the EU increased by only seven percent, while agricultural production in the U.S. increased by 38 percent. Further evidence of the cost of the EU’s failure to adopt GM crops as consistently as in the U.S. found that EU agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are 33 million tonnes higher than if they had adopted GM crops, equalling 7.5 percent of total EU agricultural GHG emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

09/11/2022

Young farmers the angriest of all, says Todd Muller – Jo Moir :

It’s been two-and-a-half years since Todd Muller last held the agriculture role for National. He tells political editor Jo Moir the hopelessness and anger in the rural sector right now is palpable in a way he’s never seen before

National’s recently reappointed agriculture spokesperson is determined to find a way to strategically manage water as an asset in a way he says successive governments have failed to do.

“If you had coal in the 19th Century you were rich, if you had oil and gas in the 20th Century you were rich and if you have water then you’re rich in the 21st Century.

“It gives you options and frankly successive governments haven’t been able to appropriately resolve the tension that has existed in the community around how to manage water,” Muller says. . . 

Wairoa uprising over farm emission plans – Peter Burke :

The battle lines are being drawn between the small, isolated northern Hawke’s Bay farming town of Wairoa, pop. 8000, against the big guns of Jacinda Ardern and what they see as her anti-farming government and its plans to unfairly tax agricultural emissions. Peter Burke reports…

So furious were the locals that the mayor, and farmer, Craig Little hastily arranged a meeting of the local community so they could voice their concerns to Labour ministers Stuart Nash and Meka Whaitiri and representatives of MPI and Beef+Lamb NZ.

Helping him do this was Nukuhia Hadfield, a prominent, influential and award-winning local Māori farmer who also heads the committee which organises the prestigious Ahuwhenua trophy for excellence in Māori Farming.

This David and Goliath battle is one that could see other districts in heartland NZ now join the army of protest at what some commentators are saying is one of the worst decisions to be foisted on rural NZ for many decades. . . 

Political leaders missing from the frontlines – Neal Wallace :

The lasting memory is of anger laced with fear.

I began my journalism career in 1983, just in time to cover the heartache of farmers as they weathered the economic reforms unleashed by the David Lange-led Labour government.

Such was the pace and scale of change as subsidies and support payments were axed overnight, many farmers were financially hurting, they were angry, frightened and felt betrayed.

In my subsequent 38 years as a journalist I never again saw that level of sustained anger and frustration – until now. . . 

Ministry bungling costs forest owners millions :

Some foresters could be millions of dollars out of pocket due to a poorly communicated change in application deadlines, National’s Forestry spokesperson Ian McKelvie says.

“Last month, the Ministry of Primary Industries sent an email to foresters announcing that they were moving the effective deadline to register forests for the Emissions Trading Scheme from the last day of the year to 25 October 2022, simply due to long processing times in their office.

“This left forest owners just three working days to submit their applications. After that date has passed, their applications will not be processed until 2023. This change will prevent some forest owners from claiming five years’ worth of backdated credits to 2018.

“Some forest owners stand to lose millions of dollars as a result of this poorly communicated change. An owner of a large native forest in the South Island claims he will lose $6–$8 million. This is more than just incompetence, it is theft. . . 

ANZ’s support of agribusiness recognised with major award :

New Zealand’s agribusiness sector is an economic powerhouse for the country, contributing billions of dollars to GDP. And right now, the industry is undergoing rapid change as it pivots to more sustainable practices and reduces its carbon footprint.

Within this context, business partnerships with banking providers are increasingly important. Banks are supporting the sector with financial products that reflect the industry’s changing needs. Canstar recognises the value of this support with its coveted Agribusiness Bank of the Year Award.

This year, the Canstar assessment panel considered five providers to come up with the winner, which we’re proud to announce is ANZ!

Jose George, Canstar New Zealand General Manager, said given agribusiness’ value to the country, it was important to recognise banks that underpin its growth. “Our farmers are hugely valuable to our country, as are our ambitions for the sector to innovate and show global leadership for a sustainable future. . . 

Grazing is a crucial part of nature – Peter McCann:

In the first part of a three-week series, Peter McCann looks at the basic principles of regenerative agriculture. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/11/2022

A considered refutation of the farm emissions tax and the ETS – Alastair Boyce :

Like many New Zealanders I was bewildered by the Jacinda Ardern government media announcement to tax farmers as the primary tool toward meeting Emission Trading Scheme targets. It seemed anathema to me, and I sought alternative perspectives and a reality and fact check.

By chance perspective presented themselves in the form of farming and forestry friends with conservation, hunting and fishing experience. These guys go all the way back to Rob Muldoon and ‘Think Big’. This group have lived and breathed New Zealand’s mountains, bush, streams, rivers, sea, forests and fields.

In the following discourse I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing, interspersing commentary with documentary narrative recorded in notes from our conversations and discussions.

The Discourse

This is referred to as “the water story”. In relation to the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) the government is providing scant consideration of this valuable resource. Carbon forestry uses considerably more water than farming and in perpetuity (i.e., forever). Hydro electricity generation and efficient farming irrigation are permanent losers. . . 

Feds say farmers just fed up :

Federated Farmers is clear that farmers should carry out winter grazing in a responsible manner and in no way encourages farmers to break the law. But when pathways are limited and full of roadblocks, people simply become frustrated says Federated Farmers Winter Grazing spokesperson Colin Hurst.

For the last two years, the Government has promised that farmers wanting to undertake winter grazing would have three Pathways available to them, Permitted Activity Pathway, a Certified Farm Plan Pathway, and a Resource Consent Pathway. In March 2021 Ministers O’Connor and Parker, and April 2021 Minister O’Connor promised that the farm plan pathway would be available in 2022 ready for the 2023 winter.

“Despite these promises, the alternative farm plan pathway is not available and is not expected to be ready for some time”.

This ultimately leaves thousands of farmers requiring a resource consent to comply with rules. Ministers have delayed the Winter Grazing regulations twice in recognition of the alternative farm plan pathway was not ready. Federated Farmers called for the regulations to be delayed until the farm plan pathway was available to farmers to avoid the enormous consent burden on councils and farmers. . . 

Farm expenditure and inflation set to impact profit margins :

Despite a positive forecast for global sheepmeat and beef demand, an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ profit margins.

That’s according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) New Season Outlook 2022-23 report.

B+LNZ chief economist Andrew Burtt says that with high market prices for sheepmeat and beef globally, and a low NZ dollar, farmgate prices are relatively strong for sheep and beef farmers.

He says beef cattle pricing in particular will drive revenue for the season. . . 

New Zealand’s top butchers announced :

The results are now in from the National Butchery Awards which took place today at the Due Drop Events Centre, in Auckland.

Brad Gillespie from New World Rototuna in Hamilton has won the prestigious Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year title and Rhys Tamanui from Waipawa Butchery in Hawkes Bay was crowned ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year. The Black Gloves – a team made up of butchers from Australia – claimed victory at the Pure South Master Butcher Teams’ Challenge.

Brad says he is beside himself with his win. “The talent was outstanding today and to take out the win is just amazing. I am always keen to do my business proud so to finally tick off winning the Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year is incredible.”

Finalists were chosen from four regional competitions held during September in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, involving over 40 competitors. The final six included wild card entries in each category and with knives sharpened and bandsaws humming, competitors put on a spectacular battle of the butchers while friends and family looked on. . . 

Alun Kilby crowned 2022 Young Winemaker of the the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco in Marlborough for becoming the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year.

Alun, 28, is Production Winemaker at Marisco. He has worked in the New Zealand wine industry for 13 years from Auckland to Central Otago before settling in Marlborough and is thrilled to take out this prestigious title. He is passionate and driven and says he is committed to continuously improving the way we make wine and distribute it to the world.

Congratulations also to Georgia Mehlhopt from Greystone for coming second. Georgia is the first person from North Canterbury to compete in the National Final and did herself and her region proud.

Four talented young winemakers from around the country competed on Thursday 3 November at Kim Crawford winery in Blenheim. The other contestants were Douw Grobler from Trinity Hill in Hawke’s Bay and Eliana Leal from Amisfield in Central Otago. . . 

 

Intelligent farm robot :

The world population will hit 10 billion around the year 2050. We must use our farmland efficiently in order to feed everyone, and one solution is to employ autonomous robots. 

One of these robots is an “intelligent sharpshooter” that can distinguish crops from weeds — and then it shoots them with the appropriate treatment. Because of such high precision, the robot uses 95% less chemicals than traditional sprayers.

The robot also scans the entire farm and is able to geolocate each plant accurately within centimeters.


Rural round-up

25/10/2022

Govt proposal puts farmers at risk – Nicky Hyslop:

It was with good faith that more than two years ago, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and 10 primary sector partners entered into discussions about a sector-specific emissions pricing framework through He Waka Eke Noa.

This was as an alternative to agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which we firmly believed was the wrong outcome for our farmers.

All of this work has been put at risk with the Government’s proposed changes to the partners’ agreed-upon pricing approach. These changes are completely unacceptable, particularly to sheep, beef and deer farmers, and leave us questioning what the Government is trying to achieve.

Carbon sequestration was a critical aspect of the finely balanced proposal, particularly in terms of achieving fairness and equity for hill country farmers, so it is extremely disappointing that the Government has put forward a proposal that does not reward and incentivise the plantings that farmers have done and continue to do. . . .

What the hell? – Peter Burke :

Confusion and outright anger reign across rural New Zealand as farmers and communities try to get to the bottom of the Labour Government’s proposal to effectively make a large number of sheep and beef farmers unprofitable in its quest to get them to pay for their agricultural emissions.

There have been claims the Government is prioritising trees over food and questions have been asked as to whether the move is brave or stupid.

While farmers have consistently stated their willingness to pay for these emissions, PM Jacinda Ardern’s announcement from a hay bale stage at a dairy farm in the Wairarapa a couple of weeks ago was not what farmers were expecting.

As Rural News went to print farmers around the country were preparing to take to the streets and motorways to express their opposition to the emissions pricing proposal. . . .

Fonterra fires back at critics of DIRA bill – Hugh Stringleman :

Fonterra’s capital restructure and the enabling legislation will give the company a fair go at competing for a sustainable supply of New Zealand milk on more equal terms, the co-operative says.

Chair Peter McBride presented Fonterra’s submission to the Primary Production Committee of Parliament on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment (DIRA) Bill.

He said an internationally competitive, farmer-owned co-operative of scale is in the country’s best interests.

The new flexible shareholding capital structure will help to level the playing field with foreign-backed competitors in an environment of declining NZ milk production. . . .

Record profits for Alliance Group – Shawn McAvinue:

Red meat processor and exporter Alliance Group is celebrating a record profit, but supply-chain challenges remain, bosses say.

The co-operative held 20 meetings across New Zealand to update farmers on its operation and the tour finished in Mossburn last night.

Group chief executive David Surveyor, speaking at Ranfurly Bowling Club last week, said the co-operative had a record profit performance for the year ending September 30.

“It’s the most profitable year in Alliance Group’s history . . .

Pioneering UMF: a beekeeper’s story – Leah Tebbutt:

Being in the honey industry for 40-odd years is not enough for Margaret and her husband Bill Bennett.

“We hope we’ll be some of the ones that keep on going through – that survive,” Bill said as we enter the honey house with citrus and magenta-coloured hives piled high.

Their persistence and passion come as no surprise. The couple pioneered the UMF grading system 25 years ago and they have campaigned for it ever since.

And while they are taking a small step back, son Andrew and son-in-law James Jeffery are both now beekeepers for their business, SummerGlow Apiaries. . . 

Using livestock for healthier soil – Glenneis Kriel :

Much has been said about how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious limitations in the global logistics and food system, and how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes it even more unlikely that the world will be able to end hunger by 2050.

But Angus McIntosh, better known as Farmer Angus, who farms livestock at Spier near Stellenbosch, argues that the situation is compounded by the misconception that the world’s farmers will have to feed a projected population of nine billion people by 2050.

“The world is already producing enough food to feed between 11 billion and 14 billion people. [However], our problem is that a lot of food is wasted along the supply chain or grown for the wrong reasons, such as to feed cattle [or other livestock in intensive farming concerns] or to produce biofuels,” says McIntosh. . .

 

 

 


More tax, less food

12/10/2022

He Waka Eke Noa didn’t have universal farmer support.

The government’s butchering of it is uniting farmers against it and threatens the sector consensus:

Today’s farm emissions announcement threatens the sector consensus by failing to recognise New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“National is committed to emissions targets, including reaching carbon Net Zero by 2050, the Paris Climate Agreement and reductions in agricultural emissions.

“National recognises New Zealand farmers’ significant contribution to the economy. Agriculture earns half this country’s export revenue.

“We are concerned that today’s announcement puts consensus at risk. The Government’s own figures indicate:

    • Sheep and beef farming could reduce by 20 per cent and dairy by 5 per cent by 2030
    • Two-thirds of the reduction in emissions in New Zealand will be undone by higher emissions overseas as jobs and production shift offshore
    • The plan does not allow farmers to earn extra income from some forms of on-farm planting and carbon capture.

“Worryingly, the large falls in sheep production in New Zealand could lead to higher global emissions as more sheep production moves overseas to less-efficient farms.

“Broad industry support is crucial for any enduring solution to agricultural emissions.

“This plan could have significant implications for our rural towns and communities. The Government has put at risk the consensus built by He Waka Eke Noa Partnership over three years.

“National supports efforts to reduce emissions and we encourage the Government to work with the sector to find an enduring solution.”

In an email to members National leader Christopher Luxon points out the flaws in Labour’s proposal:

. . .I’m very concerned by the massive impacts these proposals could have on our rural towns and communities – which could see sheep and beef farming reduce by one fifth in just five years.

National backs our farmers. Our rural communities are the backbone of our country and agriculture is our biggest export earner. New Zealand’s prosperity is built on the hard work of farmers and growers up and down the country. It’s their work and their businesses that support other rural businesses and suppliers and create employment and jobs in provincial towns. We cannot let Labour and the Greens put that at risk.

I want you to know where National stands.

New Zealand needs to cut its carbon emissions. National supports New Zealand’s emissions targets, including reaching carbon net zero by 2050. And that means reducing agriculture emissions over time.

We backed the sector-led process as a way to introduce emission pricing for agriculture alongside other measures to reduce on-farm emissions and support the uptake of new technology.

We believe consensus with farmers is vital. But the Government has today put that at risk with a different proposal which could gut our rural communities while seeing emissions increase overseas as food production and jobs move off-shore.

Indeed, the Government’s own figures suggest its proposed scaling back of our sheep industry will actually lead to overall higher global emissions. That’s because Kiwi farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world so cutting back food production here just to see demand being met by less-efficient farmers overseas is simply counterproductive. National would ensure Kiwi farmers enjoy regulatory settings that make it easy to develop and adopt new technology to reduce emissions – not just send primary production, jobs and emissions offshore.

National would also allow farmers to earn credit for all forms of on-farm carbon capture. It’s just not right for Labour and the Greens to add extra costs to farmers without allowing on-farm planting and carbon capture to offset new emissions costs they may face.

The Government needs to get alongside rural communities and find an enduring solution that works for everyone – not dictate changes from Wellington.

National trusts farmers to be the best environmental stewards of their own land. I know farmers will use technology, ingenuity and local knowledge to figure out local solutions that work to reduce emissions sensibly.

Any relief that farming won’t be forced into the ETS will be overwhelmed by genuine criticism about what the government has taken out of the industry’s proposal:

The government has accepted most of the proposals put forward by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership to price agricultural emissions, but industry groups are concerned some of the recommendations have been excluded.

The farm-level, split gas approach has made the cut, but modifications have been proposed on how sequestration is calculated.

“We need to further analyse these changes carefully, but one area of immediate concern is the proposed changes to sequestration, which is of real importance to sheep and beef farmers,” Beef + Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison said.

“We know we have a role to play in addressing climate change and our farmers are among the first to feel the effects of it.

“However, if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms.”

Meat Industry Association chair Nathan Guy said although the government proposal is better than agriculture entering the emissions trading scheme (ETS), there is room for further improvement.

“Sheep and beef farmers and the meat processing and exporting sector collectively generate $12 billion in income per year for the country and account for more than 92,000 jobs, almost 5% of New Zealand’s full-time workforce. It’s critical we have the right policy settings so our sector can continue to deliver for our farmers, our processors and exporters, rural communities and the country.”. .

Needing further improvement is an understatement.

He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) programme director Kelly Forster said its partners are pleased the government has listened to the partnership on the need for a farm-level system rather than including agricultural emissions in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). 

“A farm-level system as recommended by He Waka Eke Noa will enable each farmer and grower to clearly see the direct impact of their on-farm decisions and would give them incentives for using new technologies and practices as they become available. Our modelling shows it will be more effective in achieving emissions reductions than including agriculture in the NZETS at the processor level. 

“He Waka Eke Noa’s recommendations were, however, designed as a carefully balanced package that was as equitable as possible across all parts of the primary sector.  

“The government has proposed alternative approaches in some areas, such as how sequestration is recognised, which may fundamentally alter the balance and could have significant implications for sheep, beef and deer farmers. . .

That’s a diplomatic way of saying it will be disastrous, and Federated Farmers points out the costs won’t just be felt on farm and by farmers:

The greenhouse gas reduction plan released by the government this morning will rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be.

The plan aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5% to achieve the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets.

This is the equivalent of the entire wine industry and half of seafood being wiped out.

The government’s rehashed plan to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions throws out the two and a half years of work the industry did to come up with a solution, supposedly all that time in a ‘partnership’ with government to achieve a workable solution which would not reduce food production.

“This is not what we’ve got this morning. What happened to the ‘historic partnership’?

“Federated Farmers is deeply unimpressed with the government’s take on the He Waka Eke Noa proposal and is concerned for our members’ futures,” Federated Farmers National president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut-wrenching to think we now have this proposal from government which rips the heart out of the work we did. Out of the families who farm this land.

“Our plan was to keep farmers farming. Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off.

“Some overseas buyer can plant trees and take the carbon cash.”

The scariest impact from the government’s rehash of the He Waka Eke Noa proposal was that it’s own modelling showed the impact on sheep and beef farming would be as high as 20%.

It also shows that world agricultural emissions would increase, not decrease, under this plan.

“The government’s plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumaranui – pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South – will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say ‘ETS application’.”

So all the small town cafes, car yards, schools, pubs, rugby clubs, hairdressers and supermarkets can say goodbye to the small town business supported by the agriculture around them.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is concerned that the plan will impose costs on farmers who have no cost-effective way to reduce emissions:

. . . The farm-level pricing system the government has announced is in line with the He Waka Eke Noa proposal. However, DINZ remains deeply concerned about the impact of prices on farmers who have no cost effective way to reduce their emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, says Deer Industry NZ chair Mandy Bell. . . 

There is as yet no guidance for the price of methane; there is a recommendation that nitrous oxide would be linked to the ETS NZU, but with a discount.

The government has also released economic modelling to demonstrate the impact on a range of farm types. As was previously communicated to government, the largest impact falls upon the most extensive farming systems. The government has acknowledged that the pricing system has different impacts and is seeking sectors’ views on levy relief and transition mechanisms for farming businesses who are most exposed.

Mandy Bell says “DINZ will be reinforcing to policy makers what they have already recognised – that the farm price needs to allow businesses to remain economically viable until practical tools to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from pastoral farming are available.

“We believe it is essential that government and sector invest in developing and bringing new technologies to NZ farmers to help them reduce their gross emissions as soon as possible. If our farmers have practical technology they can use, they will use it. Our farmers are rapid adopters and are innovative.” 

There is not yet practical technology for our innovative farmers to rapidly adopt.

We are already the most carbon efficient farmers in the world and are paying for research to find ways to become better.

But until that research gets practical and cost-effective results, the only way farmers can reduce emissions is to reduce stock numbers.

That won’t only make some farms uneconomic it will push up the price of food, reduce export income and have the perverse outcome of increasing global emissions as other far less efficient farmers increase their production to take advantage of the gap in the market left by less New Zealand produce.

It doesn’t help that there’s debate over the impact of methane:

There are suggestions we may have been incorrectly measuring methane emissions and the effect they have on overall warming.

Well known climate scientists Adrian Macey and Dave Frame have been looking at our climate change policy in relation to the rest of the world.

What they’ve found is that by using a more accurate metric to replicate what methane does to warming, we see that effects have been overstated by more than three or four times the actual damage.

When it came to introducing the new more accurate metric to climate change advisers within the Government they were either passive or dismissive of it.

Overall, they find the Climate Change Commission and the Ministry for the Environment simply got it wrong.

Methane is responsible for nearly half New Zealand’s emissions, but it’s impact on warming is much less.

The government is putting politics before science, trying to earn praise on the international stage at an enormous domestic cost in economic and social terms with no environmental gains.

It is in effect another tax that will lead to less food produced in contravention of the Paris Accord which states climate change mitigation should not come at the expense of food production.

It will have the perverse outcome of discouraging planting.

This is another example of the government putting the green cart in front of the science and technology horses at a very high economic and social domestically and doing no good for the global environment in the process.


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. . . 


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