Rural round-up

September 16, 2019

Farmers despair :

Rising stress levels among farmers struggling to digest a deluge of regulatory changes while weathering constant attacks by critics, have community leaders worried.

BakerAg director Chris Garland says morale is as low as he has ever known it and he is seeing experienced, stoic farmers burst into tears, worn down by constant public attacks on the industry while trying to comprehend the impact of new rules.

He is worried about the mental wellbeing of farmers, a view shared by the heads of several rural support trusts.

Rural Support’s national chairman Neil Bateup says demand for help in his region of Waikato has increased. . . 

The increasingly uncompromising Todd Muller – Alex Braae:

National’s new agriculture spokesperson finds himself in one of the party’s most important portfolios, at a time of dramatically increasing tensions in the sector. Will Todd Muller, a man regularly mentioned as a future leader contender, find common ground?

Todd Muller’s obsession with politics began with an American encyclopaedia, which his parents bought from a door to door salesman in 1979. 

The long biographies of US presidents jumped out at him. He copied their signatures, and drew pictures of them. In time, Muller even came to write a book about his future political dreams. 

“The short synopsis is that I go to America when I’m about 21, I become the vice-president of the United States when I’m 28, and then of course some tragedy befalls the president, and I become the president. And I serve as the United States president for 13 consecutive terms.”  . . 

Data and science do the work – Neal Wallace:

The topography of The Ranch in south Otago is steep to rolling hill country but it is managed and performs like an intensive breeding and finishing farm. Farm managers Maurice and Renee Judson tell Neal Wallace much of the performance comes down to decisions based on science and data.

The impact of data on agriculture has been reckoned to be comparable to that of fertiliser.

The challenge is to decipher that volume of data about farm performance and parameters into a workable form and that is where south Otago farm managers Maurice and Renee Judson have an ace up their sleeve.

The farm is owned by Canterbury-born Lincoln University-trained lecturer and plant physiologist Dr David Ivory who has spent about 30 years working for the United Nations on sustainable agricultural programmes around the world and his wife Wichanee. . . 

Let’s get behind our rural community – Kerre McIvor:

A couple of years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a column calling for there to be a Cockietober – a month to celebrate farmers and their invaluable contribution to the economy.

I felt, back in 2017, that farmers had got a rough ride during the election campaign, and that farmers were getting it in the neck unfairly. They were being blamed for the poor water quality in New Zealand despite the fact that city dwellers are letting literal and metaphorical crap flow into their harbours and rivers. They were being told how to manage their stock by people who’d never set foot on a farm. They were told they didn’t pay their workers enough, they were being told they were destroying the planet by providing milk and meat for consumers, they were told they mistreated their animals.

I thought things were bad two years ago. But it appears things have got much, much worse.

In an open letter to the nation, BakerAg, a rural business consultancy firm, has called for people to get in behind our rural community. . . 

Sheep water ban stuns farmers – Colin Williscroft:

Farmers have been broadsided by a rule in a proposed regional council plan that will cost some of them $1 million each.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s proposed Natural Resources Plan includes sheep among stock to be excluded from waterways throughout the region, including hill country, a rule neither farmers nor the council saw coming.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham said the rule was not raised during the plan’s hearings process.

But the proposal is unworkable. . . 

Launch of the New Zealand Agritech Story:

New Zealand has a new story to tell, one that highlights the nation’s ingenuity, development of cutting-edge technology, and care for its people and place.

The New Zealand Agritech Story provides a compelling way of promoting New Zealand’s agricultural technology internationally, to build awareness and preference for New Zealand solutions and ultimately help more New Zealand agritech businesses succeed on the world stage.

The NZ Agritech Story, launched today, includes a comprehensive suite of free promotional materials that highlight New Zealand’s leading edge in the sector.

Peter Wren-Hilton, the executive director of Agritech New Zealand, said the story would make a key difference for export companies. . . 

Brazil’s fires and biofuels – Jim Steele:

From leaf cutting ants that cultivate fungus gardens to flowers that fool potential pollinating insects into having sex, the magic of rainforest ecology always inspired my love for nature’s creativity. So, it’s no surprise that any and every report of burning rainforests would rally deep concerns across the globe. Nonetheless I am disturbed by dishonest gloom and doom regards recent Amazon fires. NASA reports since 2003 the square kilometers of forest burned each year has dropped by roughly 25 percent. But such good news doesn’t get headlines.

Although the NY Times wrote the fires have no climate connection, meteorologist Eric Holthaus, who writes numerous catastrophic climate articles for Slate and the New York Times, suggested the fires show, “We are in a climate emergency”. As of August 16, 2019, an analysis of NASA satellite data indicated that total fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years, but Holthaus dishonestly tweeted, “The current fires are without precedent in the past 20,000 years.”

To heighten global hysteria, French president Macron and actor Leonardo deCaprio, tweeted photographs of forest infernos. But those photos were taken 20 years ago. Likewise, Madonna tweeted wildfire photos taken 30 years ago, and others tweeted flaming photos from regions far from the Amazon.

Activist vegetarians denounced meat-eaters for deforestation, arguing forests are burnt to create pastures for cattle. But they failed to mention pastures previously created for grazing without deforestation, are now being usurped by biofuel cultivation. Indirectly, it’s the biofuel fad that has driven cattle grazers to carve out new pastures in the rain forests. . . 


Rural round-up

April 21, 2018

Rescue chopper services face axe – Neal Wallace:

About 1200 people marched through Taupo last week to protest against a threat to end their air ambulance service.

Taupo Mayor David Trewavas said the march attracted many people who owe their lives to the speed and efficient response of their local service.

“People are fired up and are pretty passionate just because of our geographic nature, being in the middle of the North Island.”

A Ministry of Health, ACC and National Ambulance Sector Office review says some air ambulance services should be cut. . . 

Rural health put on hold :

A rural mental health project run by the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa will continue until June 30 before being wound up as the parent organisation is put in hibernation after failing to secure $600,000 in Government funding.

Alliance chief executive Michelle Thompson said it has run the rural mental health contract for the Ministry of Health for four years and she fears no one else will pick up the work. . .

North Canterbury sheep and beef farmers roll with the seasons – Heather Chalmers:

A North Canterbury farming couple are finding new opportunities after drought, writes Heather Chalmers.

North Canterbury hill country farmers Mark and Jane Schwass like to keep their options open when it comes to their sheep and beef farming operation.

The vagaries of the weather and market mean they are not fixed to any livestock class or sale plan.

The couple run a sheep and beef breeding and finishing operation as well as dairy support, grazing young dairy stock. . . 

SFF’s focus on directors – Sally Rae:

A review of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Ltd’s constitution will include looking at the tenure of directors on the board, the board size and the ratio of elected to independent directors.
Speaking at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, chairman Rob Hewett said the review was under way.

There would be roadshows for shareholders in June, ahead of a July-August vote. Any changes would require a vote of 75% in favour. . . 

Waikato sharemilker Laura Campbell will contest Melbourne Cup’s Fashion in the Field

Milking nearly 300 cows before going to the office, it’s all in a days work for a Waikato girl who just loves fashion.

Walking the pit of the 32-aside herringbone dairy shed is far removed from the lights and boardwalk Laura Campbell will experience at the Melbourne Cup Carnival this year.

The 22-year-old woman will be competing at the Myer’s Fashion in the Field across the ditch in earlier November. . . 

French MPs force vegetarian food producers to mince their words

French MPs have voted to ban producers of vegetarian meat substitutes from using words such as steak, bacon or sausage to describe their products if they are are not partly or wholly composed of meat.

The measure, approved on Thursday, was proposed by MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who argued that products such as soya steaks, vegan sausages and other vegetarian alternatives were “misleading” for consumers. Moreau based his argument on a 2017 judgment by the European court of justice, that ruled that soya and tofu products could not be marketed as milk or butter.

“It is important to combat false claims. Our products must be designated correctly: the terms of #cheese or #steak will be reserved for products of animal origin,” tweeted Moreau, a farmer and member of president Emmanuel Macron’s political movement La République En Marche. . . 


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