Rural round-up

March 27, 2019

Westland’s biggest shareholders sit on the fence over Yili offer:

Westland Milk’s biggest shareholders — investment fund Southern Pastures and the state-owned Landcorp — are biding their time over Yili’s takeover offer.

Hokitika-based Westland said this week that it had signed a conditional agreement for the sale of the co-op, which will see the Chinese dairy giant pay farmer-suppliers $3.41 a share.

Westland will seek shareholder approval for the proposed transaction at a special shareholder meeting, expected to be held in early July.

Southern Pastures, which has former All Black Graeme Mourie as one of its principals, owns 5.5 per cent of the co-op, which would be worth $13.6 million under the offer.  . . 

Nait a difficult beast but NZ ‘had no chance’ against M. bovis without it – Esther Taunton:

Cattle on 150 farms have been checked against national animal tracing records as part of efforts to wipe out the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis but just one property passed muster.

Dr Alix Barclay, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ intelligence manager for the M. bovis response, said only one property had achieved a 100 per cent match with its National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) account.

The disappointing result highlighted the importance of making changes to the system, Barclay said. . . 

Hayward family cultivate success in South Canterbury by seizing the day – Samesh Mohanlall:

Farming operations flourish on hard work, seizing the chances that come your way and having people that are trustworthy around, the family of a successful South Canterbury venture say. 

Geoff Hayward and his wife Joy, who own and lease 1700 hectares of land for their sheep, beef and cropping operation across the Timaru district, told about 50 visitors to their Mt Horrible farm from the Beef + Lamb annual meeting on Thursday, that the key to their expansion is taking opportunities that come their way. . . 

Pitching in to protect mudfish:

They may be tiny, slimy and reclusive, but the Canterbury mudfish are well worth protecting. 

Kōwaro, as they’re named in te reo Māori, are a treasured species for local iwi Ngāi Tahu and having more of them around helps protect other freshwater natives such as kōura (crayfish) and kākahi (mussels).

Unfortunately, they’re also rare and endangered. 

Fonterra is providing funding to Environment Canterbury to help them implement innovative technology in what is the first project of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. . . 

A2 names China CEO –  Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has appointed Li Xiao as chief executive of its greater China operations.

Li was previously president of the Kids Entertainment Division of Wanda Group, a Chinese multinational which owns the Hoyts cinema group. He starts in the A2 Milk role at the end of April, based in Shanghai, and will join A2’s senior leadership team. He will report to the firm’s Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Nathan and managing director Jayne Hrdlicka. . . 

Patience needed for Fonterra’s streamlining, says FNZC’s Dekker – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Farmers and investors will need to be patient with Fonterra Cooperative Group’s overhaul of its business, which sometime-critic First NZ Capital analyst Arie Dekker says is moving in the right direction.

The cooperative’s board is working through a review of the business which has seen several assets put on the market to help cut the milk processor’s debt levels, and has signalled more divestments are coming. . . 

Miscanthus – the magic plant:

In a Rural Delivery television programme last year Prof Steve Wratten of Lincoln University described Miscanthus as a “magic plant”. Although there was a degree of poetic licence in that statement, it is very understandable why he described Miscanthus in that way. But there are no magicians involved. Miscanthus is a truly remarkable plant that has so many advantages and options for commercial use that people who hear about it tend to think “This is too good to be true!”.

So they ignore it. The phenomenal success of Miscanthus therefore actually detracts from securing serious interest in both growing and using it. Contrary to people’s initial reaction, what seems like hype, is in fact true. . . 

It’s time to strengthen trespass laws:

Activist trespassers are making a joke of our legal system – carrying out brazen invasions of private farms and walking away with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. It’s time for governments to act.

In recent months we’ve witnessed a spate of farm invasions by activists who think their opinions place them above the law.

These farm intruders are entering private premises, often in the dead of night, often while streaming live on the internet – all just a stones’ throw from where farmers and their families are sleeping.

Police and the court system have proven powerless to help, with those caught walking away with fines equivalent to a parking ticket. . . 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2016

Forging a path for other young Maori women to follow :

Confidence and self-belief have always help Ash-Leigh Campbell achieve her goals in the dairy industry – and she hopes her success will inspire more young Maori women to follow her lead.

“You have to back yourself. If you know you can do it, everyone around you will eventually buy into that too,” she says.

The enthusiastic 25 year-old from Lincoln is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Awards and has big career ambitions.

“I don’t see myself as an industry leader now but the journey I’m on will hopefully fulfil that in future.

“I definitely want to make an imprint on Maori farming in New Zealand and become an ambassador for others. I especially want to publicise that Maori females can do it.” . . .

Up and coming Agri:

The children are the future, but how well do they know the in’s and out’s of agri? 17-year-old Greer Baldwin, an Agribusiness student at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, sat down with us to give the inside scoop.

Despite not growing up on a farm, Greer has been around agri her whole life. Her Mum, Karen, works in Agri-tourism and the Baldwin family have been involved at National Fieldays for generations. Karen’s line of work allows overseas visitors to experience a real life Kiwi farm in action and is an interesting line of tourism a lot of young people aren’t aware of.

Thanks to Greer’s experience with her mother’s business, she has grown up fully aware that agri is more than gumboots and milking cows, and now has her sights set on studying agriculture at a tertiary level. Born and bred in the Waikato, Greer is excited to branch away from home and is tossing up between either Massey or Lincoln University where she will study agribusiness and tourism. . . 

New irrigation investments for Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed three new investments totalling $7.85 million into irrigation projects in Canterbury from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“These projects are a real boost to the Canterbury regional economy. A reliable source of water gives farmers certainty and options to invest in such as arable, intensive pastoral, dairy support or horticulture.”

The projects receiving funding are: . . 

Government supports Ashburton water study trial:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has allocated $312,000 to a trial project in the Hinds Plains area which aims to improve water quality and restore spring-fed flows.

The funding comes from MPI’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) and the announcement was acknowledged by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, during his visit to Canterbury today.

David Caygill, Environment Canterbury Deputy Chair of Commissioners, welcomed the announcement which will allow the Regional Council to carry out the Hinds Managed Aquifer Recharge Pilot Study in an area where groundwater nitrate concentrations are well above the national bottom-line. . . 

Central Plains schemes receive government support:

Government support for the Central Plains Water (CPW) Scheme was announced today by the Ministry for Primary Industries during a visit to the scheme by Minister Nathan Guy.

Through the Ministry for Primary Industries Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), up to $6.64 million has been allocated to CPW to support completion of Stage 2 of their scheme’s development as well as $898,000 for the Sheffield Irrigation Scheme (a sub-scheme of CPW).

CPWL CEO, Derek Crombie has welcomed the latest funding announcements for the two projects. . . 

Change in responsibilities for Crown irrigation bodies:

A change in responsibilities for the Government’s irrigation programmes will help streamline and speed up water storage projects, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

From 1 July, Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) will take over the responsibility for funding grants to regional irrigation schemes in the early stages of development, which are matched by local backers. This role has previously been carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“It makes sense to have a single agency looking after this funding as well as CIIL’s current role of commercially investing in projects which are investment-ready,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Hold on tight farmers, the future is bright – Farmers’ Forum experts:

Leading industry speakers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum held in Hamilton this week reaffirmed the view that while another year of low milk prices is on the horizon, the long-term outlook for dairy remains bright.

Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings and Rabobankhead of food and agribusiness research and advisory, Tim Hunt, all reiterated that global demand for dairy products will continue to grow.

Mr English said in the government’s view, the dairy industry will remain the engine room of growth as the second biggest New Zealand exporter behind tourism. But facing up to the reduced milk price is the current challenge. . . 

Fonterra expected to lift milk price – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra is expected to lift its farmgate milk price payout to farmers next season, although it’s likely to mark the third year of prices below the level required by most farmers to break even.

The company is scheduled to hold a board meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and may release its opening milk price forecast for the 2016/17 season early Thursday morning. Analysts in a BusinessDesk survey expect a payout of at least $4.43 per kilogram of milk solids for next season, up from a $3.90/kgMS forecast payout for the 2015/16 season, and from $4.40/kgMS in 2014/15.

DairyNZ estimates the average farmer required $5.25/kgMS to cover costs this season and hasn’t yet finalised a break-even price for next season. . . 

Sharemilkers lose 49 cows and $73,000 to nitrate poisoning – Gerard Hutching:

Waikato sharemilkers Cam and Tessa Hodgson have lost 49 cows to nitrate poisoning, which could cost them up to $73,000. 

Nitrate poisoning happens as animals graze, and often occurs after a drought when there are high levels of nitrogen in the soil, and is exacerbated by humid, cloudy conditions. 

Cam’s brother Matthew Hodgson has started a givealittle page for them, saying their passion is farming “and to see the cows die in front of them is heartbreaking to them”. . . 

Farmers can cope with stress during busy times – Jill Galloway:

Experts suggest the best way farmers can cope with busy times is by exercising, sleeping and eating well and to never stop talking with people.

Wairarapa farmer, phycologist and rural trust co-ordinator Sarah Donaldson gave stress hints to about 50 people, mainly farmers as well as bank people, trust organisers and rural professionals at last week’s Beef & Lamb New Zealand AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North.

She said it was hard to recognise stress. . .

Food Safety Science & Research Centre launched:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister JoGoodhew today launched the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Formed as a partnership between government, industry organisations and research institutions, the virtual centre aims to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains among the best in the world.

“The centre will use the best science available to protect and enhance New Zealand’s international reputation as a producer of safe and  trustworthy food,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

New Zealand Apple Industry the most competitive in the World:

New Zealand’s $700 million apple industry has again been named the world’s most competitive performer.

The World Apple Report, out this week, ranks New Zealand first over 33 major apple producing countries.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said it is a great achievement to have a competitive edge over the world and to keep holding the position. . .  

Johne’s disease solutions available:

Help is at hand for dairy farmers facing a problem with Johne’s disease in their cattle.

LIC is reminding farmers of the options available from their herd improvement co-operative to help them manage the disease, including diagnostic testing and a comprehensive Johne’s disease management guide developed by experts.

“We know Johne’s disease can be a stressful and frustrating challenge for many dairy farmers,” LIC GM Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said. “We want to make sure farmers know there are tools available that can help them manage the disease in their stock.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2015

TB testing reductions another step in eradicating the disease:

Farmers and OSPRI continue to make good progress in their fight against bovine tuberculosis (TB) as high risk areas are reduced.

More than 3190 herds across 937,100 hectares will benefit from reductions in both Movement Control Areas (MCA) and cattle and deer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests from 1 March 2015.

Herds throughout parts of North Canterbury, Otago and Southland will no longer require pre-movement TB testing, but will continue to be tested annually.

Dunsdale dairy farmer Kelvin Brock is moving out of the Hokonui MCA. He said the progress made by OSPRI’s TBfree programme through movement restrictions and possum control has been particularly satisfying. . .

 

Beef and lamb environment plan approved :

Environment Canterbury has approved a farm environment plan template for the beef and lamb industry under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan.

Acknowledging the quality of the template, Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield said Beef + Lamb New Zealand had met all the requirements of Schedule 7 of the proposed plan.

“We hope the farm environment plans that come from this template are valuable both for farmers and for Beef + Lamb,” Bayfield said. . .

Tagged stock have added value – NAIT – Gerard Hutching:

The move towards tagging and registering all cattle and deer will be a significant boon to farmers and the New Zealand economy, says the agency administering the system.

Farmers have a deadline of July 1 this year to ensure all their cattle are tagged and registered. Deer will have to be up-to-date by March 2016.

Dr Stu Hutchings, head of the OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, said there were three main benefits of tagging: for biosecurity; food safety/market access; and farm management.

“The dairy sector thinks about biosecurity implications from a disease perspective such as foot and mouth, so for them it almost becomes an insurance policy,” he said. . .

Nation’s Top Lamb Finalists Announced:

The finalists of the 2015 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, have been announced.

Following stringent scientific testing, over 150 entries have been narrowed down to 20 in the search for the nation’s most tender and tasty lamb.

Carne Technologies General Manager, Nicola Simmons says the tests they run look at yield and the attributes which are relevant to the end product.

“We analyse each lamb leg entry using objective measurements for tenderness, colour and succulence as these are ultimately factors which affect the consumer’s eating experience,” says Nicola. . .

 

The evolution of Fonterra – Keith Woodford:

[This is the first of a series of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 1 February 2015.]

It is now a little more than 13 years since Fonterra was formed. In that time, all of the foundation directors have moved on. There have also been three Chief Executive officers (CEOs) and at least four Chief Financial Officers. None of the current top level management team that reports to the CEO were there at the start.

Fonterra itself is a very different company to those early days. It started off as a traditional co-operative, in which members owned shares in proportion to their production. These shares were purchased directly from the co-operative at a price which the co-operative determined. If a farmer ceased production, then the shares were sold back to the co-operative at the current buy/sell price as determined by Fonterra. Given that production and ownership were aligned, any apportionment between what was paid for the milk and what was paid as a dividend on invested capital, was of no material consequence. . .

Synlait Farms rebrands as Purata:

Synlait Farms – the former subsidiary business of Synlait Ltd – has rebranded as Purata.

With Latin and Maori origins meaning ‘clear, bright – like a beautiful morning,” Purata’s name reflects the company’s new vision post ownership change, says Purata CEO Juliet Maclean.

Accompanied by the tagline ‘Farming for Tomorrow’, the Purata brand embodies the company’s focus on innovation, sustainability and creativity.

Juliet Maclean says changing the brand name, tagline and colour palate will help Purata reinforce its separate identity since leaving parent company Synlait Ltd. . .

 

Positive forecast for PGG Wrightson – Alan Williams:

PGG Wrightson is forecasting a very solid increase in annual earnings after reporting its strongest interim result in seven years.

The after tax profit for the six months ended December 31 was $19.7 million, up from $13.4m in the same period a year earlier.

Though there were still several months of trading and the risk of lower farmer spending because of drought conditions, managing director Mark Dewdney said the group was now forecasting operating earnings (Ebitda) of between $62m and $68m for the full year to June 30, up from $58.7m last year. . .

A weather eye on the climate – Pete Mailler:

A FEW years ago my oldest daughter came home from school in a state of high agitation. I quizzed her on what was concerning her, to which she replied angrily that I was killing the polar bears.

Apparently she had learned at school that our collective continued use of petrol and diesel was causing global warming and this was threatening the bears. In her young mind this was interpreted as the fuel use on our farm was directly and singularly the cause of the problem.

“My agricultural science training compels me to rely on good science in forming my own opinion”

I was more than a little disgusted that climate activists were able to terrorise my daughter in such a way. However, as much as it pains me to say so, it did cause me to check my own assumptions and attitudes to climate change. . .

"Bales as far as the eye can see :-D<br /><br /><br /> #Baling #RounBales"


Greens will continue to spam

September 10, 2014

The Green Party has been caught out spamming Environment Canterbury with submissions from people without their permission:

The Green Party has been accused of “subverting the democratic process” by lobbying Environment Canterbury (ECan) on behalf of individuals without their knowledge.

Four people were surprised to receive emails from ECan thanking them for their submission on the region’s proposed bus changes when they had not submitted.

A further 20 submissions, of the 165 submissions sent in by the Greens, were found to have incorrect email addresses.

ECan received 2357 submissions for its proposed bus changes.

All submissions from the Greens were a standard response asking for more investment in public transport and more services for elderly.

Emails given to The Press by ECan, with personal information removed, showed people were unimpressed.

“I nevet [sic] sent this email! How did this happen?” one said.

“I actually didn’t give permission for the Green Party to send that submission on my behalf,” another said.

Another questioned the ethics of the practice.

“It does not accurately represent my thoughts . . . I’m not sure I agree ethically with this practice.”

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage said it was an “attempt to engage the public that had gone wrong”.

According to the telephone script, those contacted were asked if their name could added to the Greens’ submission.

“Some people may not have been aware that there was a submission being sent in on their behalf after the phone conversation,” she said. . . .

Spamming submissions is bad enough, doing it without the permission of people purporting to be making them is even worse.

“We were using a new method of public engagement, having people call people on our database to alert them to the submission process,” she said.

It been abandoned in Christchurch because of the botch-up but would continue to be used elsewhere. . .

It isn’t clear whether they’ll seek people’s permission to use their names but it is clear they will continue to spam submissions.


Rural round-up

June 21, 2014

Irrigation change ‘win-win outcome’ – David Bruce:

Farmers have spent ”tens of thousands of dollars” and considerable time on a plan to cut the irrigation take from the Maerewhenua River, an Environment Canterbury hearing was told in Oamaru yesterday.

Drawn up between the community and Environment Canterbury (ECan), it involves some farmers shifting irrigation takes to the Waitaki River to leave more water in the Maerewhenua, one of New Zealand’s outstanding small river fisheries.

ECan has instigated a plan change to the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan, prepared in 2005, to reduce water allowed for irrigation from the Maerewhenua River and some other provisions. . . .

Blue Sky Meats returns to profit – Alan Williams:

Southern lamb processor Blue Sky Meats is back in profit, emerging from what chairman Graham Cooney said was the most difficult trading in its history.

The after-tax profit for the year ended March 31 was $1.94 million, compared to a loss of $3.87m a year earlier. 

Revenue was down 2% to $95.3m, with costs 10% lower at $92.6m. This was as a result of paying livestock suppliers prices which reflected the market, unlike a year earlier, Cooney said. . . .

Levy about ‘putting heat’ into industry:

The proposed levy referendum is about ”putting heat back into the industry”, Wool Levy Group chairwoman Sandra Faulkner says.

Sheep farmers will have the opportunity to vote on whether to reintroduce a wool levy in October.

Until then, Mrs Faulkner, a sheep farmer from Muriwai, and her team will be speaking to groups at events across the country about the referendum process and the importance of voting.

She called her team ”fantastic” and said it had pan-sector representation. . . .

Elders New Zealand sells to Carr Group:

South Island based Carr Group have acquired Elders Rural Services New Zealand (Elders) for an undisclosed amount from Elders Australia Limited and New Zealand based Sredle Rural Services.

Carr Group Managing Director, Craig Carr said the opportunity to return Elders to Kiwi ownership was exciting for both companies. “Bringing together two strong agri-businesses under one New Zealand entity will not only expand our footprint within New Zealand but also across the global marketplace where we currently operate and export to more than 40 countries. Supported by a team of over 400 staff in New Zealand, Australia, India, Africa and the Middle East, this acquisition will take combined group annual revenues to in excess of NZD300 million”.

Starting from humble beginnings 40 years ago in Ashburton, founders Greg and Glenys Carr are still active in the business along with their three sons and daughter. . .

Deer profit initiative wins government support:

The government is supporting a major initiative to increase deer farm profitability.

The Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) is contributing up to $225,000 over the next three years to Advance Parties, a half million dollar project designed to lift deer farming profits. The balance of funding comes from Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ).

DINZ chief executive officer Dan Coup said he was grateful for the support provided by the fund, which has appreciated the novelty and the merit of the Advance Parties concept.

“We see that as a strong endorsement for our overall deer farming profitability strategy – Passion2Profit.” . .

Farmax to be first company to adopt Farm Data Code of Practice

Leading farm management software provider Farmax is the first company in New Zealand to begin the Farm Data Code of Practice accreditation process.

Launched on 10 June, the Farm Data Code of Practice outlines steps organisations must take to safeguard farmers’ data and ensure information is stored and shared in the most secure way possible.

By adopting and implementing the Farm Data Code of Practice, Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen said the company will assure farming clients that their data is managed in a responsible way.

“Compliance with the Code of Practice will show that we are committed to furthering the use of information technology-based solutions in the industry. We believe the guidelines set out within the Code of Practice will eventually lead to greater confidence from farmers in how Farmax handles their data,” said Mr McEwen. . . .

Abodo Wood’s Innovative Wood Products Scoop Green Ribbon Awards 2014:

New Zealand natural wood specialist Abodo Wood scooped the Green Economy Award at this year’s Green Ribbon Awards, on June 16.

Abodo’s range of preservative-free, locally grown cladding products were noted as influential in a drive towards sustainable, cradle-to-cradle building materials.

Of particular note was Abodo Wood’s Elements Vulcan+ and Elements Tundra timber weatherboards, both of which are locally grown, FSC certified and free from chemical preservatives. . .

Cow Stuck On Roof In Swiss Alps, Terrible Puns Ensue – Chris York:

You cud not make it up!

The steaks could not have been higher when a lonely and presumably Friesian bovine moo-ved itself onto… oh you get the picture.

It’s a cow stuck on a roof. . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2014

Dairy farms set to beat compliance deadline – Tony Benny:

DairyNZ hopes to have all dairy farmers in the Amuri Basin signed up to its Sustainable Milk Plans by the end of the year, meaning they will comply with new Environment Canterbury environmental regulations well before the 2017 deadline.

The plans are based on a voluntary scheme in the Waikato, tweaked to comply with requirements of the Hurunui Waiau River Regional Plan, which came into force in December, under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“The ultimate goal is this will tick all the boxes so at the moment, as I understand it, it does meet all the requirements of Schedule 2 of the Hurunui plan and Schedule 7 of the Land and Water Regional Plan which are both the farm environment plan schedules,” said DairyNZ catchment manager Canterbury Tony Fransen. . . .

For cows daughters mean more milk – Chris Cash:

The amount of milk a cow produces is affected by the sex of her fetus, a new study reports.

Cows that gave birth to a daughter produced considerably more milk than those that had sons. And back-to-back daughters led to a bonanza of milk from their mothers — over two 305-day lactation periods, nearly 1,000 pounds more milk than from cows that had given birth to sons, an increase of 3 percent.

The study, described in the journal PLoS ONE, could have implications for dairy farmers and for new discoveries about human breast milk. . .

NZ vs Aus – who wins at the farmgate? – Freshagenda:

As the current season has unfolded and payouts have heated up over the ditch, many farmers here  are asking the inevitable question – How do Australian farmgate prices compare to New Zealand’s? 
 
To address this question more fully, we really need to look beyond the current season and examine a long term comparison. Freshagenda’s analysis of payments made by Australian manufacturers compared to Fonterra’s over the past 13 years (including a forecast for 2013/14) show that Australian prices have been ahead by around A$0.19 kgMS on average. This is once adjustments have been made for protein – measured as “crude’ in New Zealand and “true” here, and converting NZ prices to Australian dollars. 
 

What the green and black bars on the chart  indicate (in US dollars this time) is that since 2009, Australian farmgate prices have been more resilient when there have been downturns in the international market, while New Zealand’s prices have responded more quickly and fully when commodity prices head upwards. . .

Increasing your slice of the economic pie:

As a commodity producer of primarily agricultural products, New Zealand is not in a favourable position to dictate what goes on in the global marketplace. However, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, Dr Mark M.J. Wilson , says by looking at the supply chain as a total system, there is the opportunity for businesses to compete through collaboration.

“New Zealand Inc tends to get buried as a supplier within the supply chain,” says Dr Wilson. “For example, our milk products get wrapped up as supply commodities to major confectionery brands that then capture the benefit of their branding to the consumers. So New Zealand gets paid as a commodity player, while the confectionery giant gets the profit from the brand ownership.

“No longer do businesses compete against businesses; rather we need to think about value chains competing against value chains.. .

Two charts about animal use in research – Thomas Lumley:

Prompted by Siouxsie Wiles’s report of talking to an anti-vivisectionist demonstrator, here are two charts from the annual report of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee. These are the people who monitor the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching in New Zealand.

The first chart shows what types of animals are used and what happens to them afterwards. . .

 

Triple investment property combines business opportunities with rural lifestyle:

A highly successful multi-purpose hospitality and commercial accommodation business being run as a “hobby” by its current owners has been placed on the market for sale.

The Dairy Flat property north of Auckland combines two business operations with a home on a 4.7 hectare lifestyle section, offering potential new owners the best of both professional and lifestyle worlds.

Located at 48 Young Access in the rural community 25 minutes north of Auckland, the property encompasses a boutique bed and breakfast business with a private residence, a purpose-built glass house function pavilion and a smaller dwelling used as commercial accommodation. . .


Rural round-up

January 25, 2014

Farm sales up, confidence strong – Laura Walters:

The number of farm sales rose by more than 20 per cent last year, reflecting strong confidence in the rural sector, the Real Estate Institute says.

More than 1700 farms were sold in 2013, the largest number of sales a year since 2009.

Figures released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) today showed 292 more farms were sold in the three months to December compared to the same period the previous year, an increase of 20.1 per cent.

Overall, there were 554 farm sales in the three months to the end of December 2013, compared to 414 farm sales for the three months ended November 2013, an increase of 33.8 per cent. . .

Good, not spectacular, arable harvest ahead – Annette Scott:

Crops are looking good but the harvest is not going to be a “bin buster”, industry leaders say.

As the combines roll out many farmers, particularly in Mid Canterbury, are counting the losses after wind and hail played havoc with crops in recent months.

All on top of a wet winter that has created more disease than usual.

“We are really just getting started with the harvest,” Mid Canterbury arable farmer and Federated Farmers South Island grain and seed vice-chairman David Clark said.

“So far the vining peas have been quite disappointing. Autumn cereals, having endured some very wet weather, are not expected to be too exciting. Some ryegrasses have been good and some, due to a variety of ills, quite disappointing. . .

Farmers act as water guardians

Farmers have been helping Environment Canterbury by providing practical onfarm knowledge and expertise on water quality.

They are members of the Guardians of Fork/Hakatere Stream.

The group was in the process of completing a funding application to help develop and restore an area of land adjacent to the stream.

This would include an educational amenity with green space and interpretive panels next to the stream on Braemar Road. . .

Apple exports a sweet success – Esther Ashby-Coventry:

The growing American demand for the honeycrisp apple has prompted Waipopo Orchards to encourage other local growers to join its export market.

Honeycrisp out-earns any other export apple grown in New Zealand. In the US it sells for about US$50 (NZ$61) a box, compared with other varieties, which are about US$20 a box.

Honeycrisp is the most popular apple in the US, with demand increasing 20 to 30 per cent each year since Waipopo’s first export of 50 tonnes in 2011.

Waipopo co-director Peter Bennett said that along with growers in Central Otago a total of 1300 tonnes, which was double the volume shipped in 2013, would be exported this year. Waipopo will produce about 1100 tonnes, which is 85 per cent of the market. . . .

Missing foal feared stolen – Nicole Mathewson:

A Central Otago couple are baffled after their foal disappeared. 

Horse trainers Bill and Rosanne Keeler were shocked to find their three-week striking black colt was missing from its paddock on January 15.

Bill Keeler said he believed the male foal went missing about two days earlier, because his mother’s milk had already dried up.

The paddock – located in Millers Flat, just south of Roxburgh – was surrounded by high fencing and there were no holes it could have escaped through. None of the other horses in the paddock had disappeared. 

”I find the chances of it being stolen are pretty minimal, but the chances are even more minimal of it disappearing by itself through two paddocks surrounded by deer fencing,” Keeler said. . . .

Hawke’s Bay iwi want Mayor’s resignation – Adam Ray:

A Hawke’s Bay Iwi says local Mayor Peter Butler should resign after suggesting their opposition to a proposed dam means they should be banned from any jobs it creates.

Mr Butler singled out the chair of Ngati Kahungunu for criticism in an email to other councillors.

He says parched pastures will be transformed with irrigation from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam.

“We’re sick of the negativity of the people trying to stop the dam,” he says.  

Among those in his sights are local iwi Ngati Kahungunu and its chair Ngahiwi Tomoana. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 30, 2013

Irrigation holds key to future farming viability – Tim Crighton:

Water issues polarise people, not just in Canterbury but throughout the country. The debate is inextricably entwined with water quality and the link to dairy farming and irrigation.

New Zealand relies on the agricultural sector to provide economic success.  And in turn the sector relies on effective irrigation techniques and investment to increase land productivity, which also enhances capital value.

Dairy farming is the highest and best use of land within larger irrigation schemes but there have been periods when intensive arable land use has competed strongly on economic terms. . .

TracMap signs agreement to improve tomato harvest efficiency:

TracMap has further extended its market reach by signing a supply agreement with Kagome Foods, the largest tomato grower in Australia.

Kagome, part of the Japanese group of the same name, grows a range of process vegetables, with tomatoes being its main crop in Australia. They will use the TracMap systems to improve harvest efficiency and reduce risk of quality errors.

GM of Field Operations Jason Fritsch is excited by the TracMap technology. “We have 11 harvesters operating 24 hours a day a for over 2 months, so it’s fairly full on over this period”, said Jason. “With 2100 hectares of crop spread over a 150km range, logistics is a big issue for us, and the TracMap system solves most of those issues.” . . .

2014 will be ‘massive’ for New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat industry:

Federated Farmers members are currently mulling its options for how to best reform New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat industry.

“As red-meat industry revenues are worth around 35 Avatar movies each year and generates some 80 times the annual revenue of Xero, you can say its future is fairly important to every Kiwi,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“2014 promises to be a massive year for the red meat industry and for wool too. Just before Christmas, we got the great news that Wellington-based The Formary’s breakthrough mid-micron/rice straw fabric is moving into commercial production. . .

ECan’s Land & Water Regional Plan sets Federated Farmers to work:

Federated Farmers three Canterbury provinces are fully committed to doing their bit for the community and for farmers in the management of our most precious resource.

“As people head to the summer barbecues no doubt water quality will feature as part of the discussion, “says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury provincial president.

“The recent Lincoln perceptions survey shows we’ve got a wee way to go before public perceptions of what food producers do catches up with reality. . .

Artistic Vistas :

For 10 years North Canterbury’s Art in a Garden has been drawing crowds of about 2000 people to view work by some of this country’s leading artists.

The three-and-a-half day event is held at the Zino family’s Flaxmere Gardens, situated on river bed terraces of the Waitohi River at Hawarden, North Canterbury. Art in the Garden is regarded as one of the top events of its kind in New Zealand. It is an art exhibition in a garden that has been awarded the title A Garden of National Significance by The New Zealand Garden Trust.

These extensive and stunning gardens, covering 4ha, have been lovingly created and tended by Penny Zino. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 5, 2013

Trade access into Peru great news for meat industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming the approval of New Zealand meat exports to enter Peru.

Peruvian authority SENASA has approved the listing of all New Zealand exporters currently interested in exporting beef, sheep meat and offal into the country. The listings are valid for three years and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has the option to request the addition of further exporters.

“This approval to export beef and sheep products to Peru is great news for the meat industry. It gives our exporters access to a market with a value (based on 2011 imports) of at least US$19 million, with significant potential for growth.

“This is more good news, following the Chinese Taipei economic agreement which will phase out beef tariffs in 2015. . .

Trust backed for taking court action – Marie Taylor:

The courts should throw the book at anyone causing damage to covenanted land, Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills says.

Wills was speaking after the QEII National Trust decided to take a Canterbury dairy farmer to court, alleging damage to covenanted kanuka woodland.

Netherlands Holdings director Roelof Wobben is alleged to have cleared 2.5ha of protected kanuka woodland on his dairy runoff just north of Eyrewell Forest to create room for irrigators. . .

Farmers asked to be on watch after more Chilean Needle Grass found:

Farmers and landowners are being asked to keep an eye out for the Chilean Needle Grass (CNG) plant pest which flowers and seeds at this time of year.

The number of affected sites has risen to 14 in recent weeks after plants were found on roadsides near known sites and two plants were found on a property adjoining an affected site.

Environment Canterbury is working to prevent further spreading of the pest, which has the potential to infest an estimated 15 million hectares on the east coasts of the north and south islands. . .

How onions recognise when to bulb:

New research will help to breed new onions tailored to grow in specific conditions.

Onions, the third largest vegetable crop in the world, form a bulb in response to lengthening days, however the molecular mechanisms controlling this response were not previously known. Research undertaken by Plant & Food Research and the University of Otago has identified the gene controlling bulb development, the first step in discovering genetic markers that can be used as tools to screen conventional breeding programmes for new onion varieties with the right genetic profile.

The research is published in the prestigious online journal Nature Communications with related research published in Theoretical and Applied Genetics. . .

Ballance passes price benefit to farmers:

Farmers stand to benefit from a global oversupply of plant nutrients and weak international demand, with Ballance Agri-Nutrients leading the domestic market down in its latest round of price cuts.

Ballance is reducing the price on many of its fertiliser nutrients on Friday 6 December, with a significant price reduction for potash to follow in the New Year.

The price reductions follow an earlier cut made in July to help farmers get a head start with spring nutrient applications. . .

Kiwi Manufacturer Answers Call for Healthier Meat Products for Children:

One of New Zealand’s leading food manufacturers has created a new range of meat products for kids with a view to securing the all important children’s meal market share.

Beak NZ, a New Zealand operated company has launched an innovative range of sausages – including a Watties tomato sauce flavoured sausage, meatballs and burger patties to appeal to both parents and children alike.

The products which contain herbs, spices and premium beef or chicken are designed to appeal to the growing number of families who are asking for a more natural meat product. . .


Rural round-up

November 21, 2013

Canterbury dairy farms under fire – Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury dairy farmers are under fire after a new report found almost a third of farms in the region weren’t complying with consenting rules.

Environment Canterbury’s regional dairy report identified 68 farms with major issues – a discovery environmental group Fish and Game is calling a disgrace.

Canterbury farmer Vaughan Beazer runs one of the region’s 717 fully compliant dairy farms. He says he prides himself on having a farm that’s clean and green.

“We live on the land, we don’t just bypass it and go look at this pretty little paddock […] We look at and that is our livelihood, that is our environment, it’s our inheritance and what we’ll bequeath to our children… it is everything to us.”

But Environment Canterbury’s latest dairying report proves not every farmer shares Mr Beazer’s view.

It monitored almost 1,000 farms, and more than 70 percent were fully compliant. But one third of them didn’t meet the grade, and 68 farms had major non-compliance issues. . .

Lost in translation – Willy Leferink:

Being a Dutch-Kiwi I have come to accept that things don’t always come out as expected.  Some things can get lost in translation between what you say and what people think you said.

I put reports I got of a speech made to a business audience in Auckland by Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings, into that category.  Being a compatriot of mine, I know Theo holds the Kiwi dairy industry in high esteem and not just for our productivity, but for the way we manage environmental matters inside the farm gate.

What has been lost in translation is the conversation relating to Fonterra’s environmental performance as a company and not the whole cooperative.  What was reported is that Fonterra isn’t doing anything about the environment when Theo said that Fonterra did not have the environment as an overall part of its strategy. Theo pointed out that our European competitors had upwards of a decade’s march on Fonterra.  What was lost in translation is that the European processors were forced to do this because of draconian regulation in order to help their shareholders out.  As companies, they have moved to get a lot closer to their consumers and we can learn from that. . . .

Vege growers concerned about co-op – Alan Wood,

Some shareholders in large vegetable distribution co-operative MG Marketing are upset the co-op has started to grow vegetables in competition with them.

The “producer in its own right” role taken on by MG Marketing could financially harm the growers it represents, growers representatives said.

MG Marketing is the trading name of Market Gardeners Ltd, one of New Zealand’s biggest co-operative companies specialising in growing and distributing fresh produce. It has run for more than 90 years and competes against the likes of Turners & Growers.

Max Lilley, former chairman and president of the NZ Vegetable and Produce Growers’ Federation and now retired, said the co-operative was making the wrong decision by apparently buying into some vegetable and produce operations. . .

Keep it clean to keep New Zealand clean:

Federated Farmers has joined with the National Pest Control Agencies to promote farmgate biosecurity with a hygiene guideline and logbook for farm machinery called “Keep it Clean.”

“Machinery movements pose a persistent high risk in pest spread,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“Soil on a bulldozer in Canterbury was found to contain seeds from at least 73 different species and there are at least 80 pest species known to be typically moved by machinery.

“The pastoral sector is facing the spread of pest plants like Chilean needle grass while trying to contain pest insects, like the Great White Cabbage Butterfly. . .

Federated Farmers’ simplify hiring migrants:

Federated Farmers has produced a practical all in one electronic document to help dairy farmers to navigate and simplify the process for dairy farmers to hire migrant workers.

“While we would love to hire capable kiwi workers, there is a shortage of kiwis willing to do the work because there is a common misperception that agriculture is a low paid and low skilled career,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“To help farmers fill this gap with capable and available migrant workers, we have put together one simple document so that employers can follow the immigration process without the headache. . .

Hunters get voice with new Game Animal Council:

Hunters of deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs will now have a say in their recreation with today’s passage by Parliament of the Game Animal Council Act 69 votes to 51.

“The establishment of the Game Animal Council Act is great news for tens of thousands of New Zealanders who hunt. It enables them to join mountaineers, trampers, game bird hunters, and trout and salmon fishers in having a statutory voice into the management of their recreation on public conservation land,” Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

The Game Animal Council Act establishes an independent statutory body to give greater representation to the interests of recreational hunters. Key functions of the council include advising and making recommendations to the Minister on hunting issues, providing information and education to the sector, promoting safety initiatives, conducting game animal research, and undertaking management functions for designated herds of special interest.  . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Calls For Director Nominations:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd (B+LNZ) is calling for nominations to fill two farmer-elected director positions on its board.

They are for the Eastern North Island and Southern South Island, where both positions will be vacant due to the current directors not seeking re-election.

B+LNZ Chairman and Eastern North Island Director, Mike Petersen has served on the B+LNZ board since 2004. Southern South Island Director, Leon Black is also standing down, having served on the board since 2008.

Nominations to fill these vacancies need to be made to the B+LNZ Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp by 5pm on Friday 20 December. Farmers can call him on 0508 666 336 to get information on how to make a nomination. . .

North Island rural consultants win Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards:

A “rock star” of farm consulting who shares his success with his clients has taken one of two top prizes at the inaugural Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

John Cannon, of Hastings, won the Farmax Consultant of the Year for the North Island. While AgFirst Hawkes Bay consultant Ben Harker was named Farmax Emerging Consultant of the Year for all of New Zealand.

They each were awarded their titles at the Farmax Consultants’ Conference in Rotorua on November 19. . .


Rural round-up

October 7, 2013

Company proves it’s in the business of growth – Sally Rae:

At Mosgiel-based Superior Minerals, manager David Hoseason-Smith says it is ”not just about selling fertiliser”.

The company was recently named Otago and lower South Island regional winner in the fastest-growing manufacturer category in the Deloitte Fast 50.

Superior Minerals was established in 2001 to ”provide a point of difference” in the marketplace for solid fertiliser, director Lawrence Alloo said. . .

Donation helps get Noslam restarted:

A donation from the North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) will allow the newly re-established North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group (Noslam) to begin its vision for the district.

That vision is to create an integrated team approach to sustainable land and water quality management for the greater good of both farmers and the community.

In March last year, NOIC received an Irrigation New Zealand innovation award including cash prize of $2500 which, in turn, it has given to Noslam to be used as a seeding grant.

Noslam’s goals to promote a healthy environment with all North Otago farmers by identifying measures that secured and improved the environment and considered the economic and social issues and constraints, resonated strongly with the company, NOIC chief executive Robyn Wells said. . .

Farmer places clean-up faith in watercress – Matthew Littlewood:

A South Canterbury farmer hopes watercress could be used to help clean the area’s degraded catchment.

Rory Foley is working with Environment Canterbury on a project that  involves not only fencing and replanting alongside the streams on his Wainono property near Waimate, but also planting watercress in the stream itself.

”I’m really conscious of the environment, because I work on the land. I want to help improve the habitat for future generations, we have a responsibility to do so,” he said.

”We’ve lost a lot of the native wetlands, we need to restore them.” . . .

Wool NZ eyes market’s top end – Sue O’Dowd:

New Zealand’s new farmer-owned wool sales and marketing company is focusing on the luxury market.

“Our focus has to be on the top end of the market, on luxury,” Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) chief Ross Townshend told about 40 farmer shareholders at Stratford, the fifth stop on the company’s 17-venue roadshow.

Townshend, a foundation shareholder supplying the company with 20,000kg of wool a year from 2500 ewes on his north Waikato property, said as a commercial company, WNZ had to have a global focus so it could get value from its products.

He was responding to questions from Tarata sheep and beef farmer Bryan Hocken, who said he was running out of time to become a wool baron and was concerned at how difficult it was to buy a wool carpet in New Zealand. . .

Wool growers called on to be patient – Sally Rae:

Strong-wool growers have been urged to be patient as Wools of New Zealand continues its mission to improve the profitability of its grower shareholders.

A series of roadshows have been held throughout the country to give an update on the company’s progress since capitalisation was completed in March.

More than 700 applications for shares, totalling about $6 million, were received, allowing it to proceed with a grower-owned sales and marketing company. . .

Rural achiever to pit skills against Aussies – Jill Galloway:

It’s a good thing Cameron Lewis is in a talking competition, rather than a practical contest, he says.

But it pays to be multi-skilled all the same.

“It is like the Young Farmers contest, you have to be an all-rounder. Learn to shear sheep, fence and put machinery together. You have to put aside a few years to compete.”

Lewis won the National Royal Agricultural Society’s Young Rural Achiever Award at the RAS Conference in Christchurch. He was representing the Western District.

Now he’ll be up against winners from five Australian states. It is the Australasian final being held at the Royal Show hosted by the Manawatu Consortium at Manfeild Park in Feilding from December 6 to 8. . .

Aussie claims honours at merino champs – Lynda van Kempen:

An Australian shearer has claimed the New Zealand Merino Shearing Championship open title for the third year in a row.

Defending champion Damien Boyle, of Broomehill, Western Australia, won his third successive title by seven points ahead of Chris Vickers, of Palmerston, in the final staged in Alexandra last night

New Zealanders Tony Coster, Mana Te Whata, Charlie O’Neill and Nathan Stratford also made the final. . .

 


Canterbury too big for one council

October 10, 2012

ECan commissioners have recommended that a unitary authority be considered for Canterbury for the 2016 elections.

I’m supportive of the idea of unitary authorities in general.

Separate city or district and regional councils add costs and layers of bureaucracy which could be reduced if their functions came under one local body.

But Canterbury is too big and diverse for a single council.

The size of the existing regional council, dominance of Christchurch and distance from it has always been problematic for people in that part of the Waitaki District which comes under ECan, it would be even worse under a single authority.

The Waitaki River has long been a physical and social boundary between Canterbury and Otago, but there could be a case for combining the Waitaki, Waimate and Mackenzie councils as a unitary authority.

It might need Timaru as well to give the numbers and rating base for a viable council and that would provide a reasonable urban/rural balance.

The districts north of the Rangitata River could unite to form another unitary authority with Christchurch.

Two unitary authorities might work, one over such a large area with so many disparate concerns and issues would not.


Rural round-up

October 8, 2012

Season just ended could produce messy results – Allan Barber:

The two largest processors and exporters, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance, have captured the headlines in the last couple of weeks.

Hot on the heels of its announced intention to close its sheepmeat chain at Mataura, Alliance has come out with an offer to suppliers of $20 in November per lamb contracted before the end of October.

From the other cooperative camp Keith Cooper, CEO of SFF, last week sent an email out to suppliers which highlighted the disappointing financial result for the year ended 30 September because of the exchange rate and declining sheepmeat values in January and February not being reflected in procurement prices . . .

Australian shearer cleans up on Saturday, back on job today – Lynda van Kempen:

It will be business as usual today for triple New Zealand Merino Shearing champion Damien Boyle, who will be back in the shed, but this time no trophies are at stake.

The Western Australian farmer won his third successive open title on Saturday night, at the 51st fine wool shearing championship, staged over two days, in Alexandra.

Boyle and his family have been long-time supporters of the event, competing for the past 15 years. . .

Best laid plans turn into new ambitions – Sally Rae:

Ever since she could remember, Carolyn Beaver wanted to be a veterinarian.

With a passion for animals and anything medical, it seemed a natural choice for the young woman from Whangarei.

She graduated from Massey University as a veterinary surgeon in 1999 and spent three years working as a mixed-animal practitioner in Whangarei, while also doing volunteer ambulance work for St John. . .

US milk production picks up – Dr Jon Hauser:

Last week we, along with others in the dairy press, reported the news from the USDA that US August milk production had declined for the first time in 31 months (“US milk production in YOY negative,” Xcheque.com, 21 September 2012).

According to the USDA August production was down 0.2 per cent relative to August last year. Using year-on-year analysis the US milk production only began falling in August, leaving the question open as to whether it will keep going down or if it has reached a floor. Rising feed prices brought about by the US drought definitely point to an ongoing decline.

However, as we’re fond of saying here at Xcheque, year-on-year comparisons can be misleading! . . .

ECan decision facilitates plains irrigation – Marta Steeman:

A landmark decision by Environment Canterbury paves the way for the controversial Central Plains Water scheme in Canterbury.

Environment Canterbury is recommending to the government changes to the National Water Conservation Order for the Rakaia River which will help introduce more irrigation on the Canterbury Plains.

ECan said on Thursday it had adopted the report and recommendations of independent hearing commissioners who heard electricity firm TrustPower’s application for the changes. . .

Lamb prices hurting Americans – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers are not the only lamb producers facing tough times.

North American sheep farmers have had a 40 per cent drop in lamb prices with values now sitting where they were a decade ago, Beef+Lamb North American representative Andrew Burt said.

Mr Burt is back in New Zealand having recently taken up the role of Beef+Lamb’s chief economist.

US lamb producers were forecasting an over-supply of lamb for this coming season he said. . .

Improving water quality in Lake Rotorua and good fish stocks int he Manawatu Rvier show that benefits are building from community water quality gains – Bruce Wills:

According to Fish & Game’s Wellington Manager, Phil Teal, employers should have been on sickie patrol from Monday, since that signalled the start of the 2012/13 sports fishing season.

What is more, according to Fish & Game, rivers such as the Waikanae, Otaki, Hutt, Ruamahanga, Manawatu and Rangitikei will be running clear and apparently this is ideal for trout fishing.

If trout is the canary of our waterways – though I would prefer native fish instead – then Fish & Game’s “recent monitoring has also shown good numbers of trout in the rivers, so prospects are looking good…Wellington, Wairarapa, the Kapiti Coast and Manawatu have world-class trout fishing opportunities right on the doorstep – these regions have a growing reputation for quality river fishing”. . . 


9.7% to go

October 17, 2011

Federated Farmers is celebrating the news that 90.3% of Canterbury dairy farms aren’t harming the environment and the improved working relationship with Environment Canterbury which contributed to that.

Robin Barkla, Federated Farmers Vice-President and a Whakatane dairy farmer. said:

“It says a lot that yesterday well over 200 dairy farmers were at the Lincoln dairy fielday. Environment Canterbury not only announced the 2010/11 results but were openly discussing with farmers how to better manage effluent.

“The large numbers attending tell me these are farmers looking for a better way. The three Canterbury dairy chairs all feel that the days of ‘them’ and ‘us’ are gone and on that score, Federated Farmers couldn’t be happier.

“With 99.56 percent of Canterbury’s 921 dairy farms being randomly inspected last season, this is a comprehensive environmental picture. Not only that, but these inspections are carried out under user-pays principals.

“I’d like to think that environmental transparency is a good thing. What these results tells me is that 90.3 percent of Canterbury’s dairy farms did not pose a threat to the environment last season. . . “

The goal is 100% compliance and the good news of high compliance doesn’t make the 9.7% of non-compliant farms acceptable.

“Federated Farmers main focus has always been on the rate of significant non-compliance. That is where environmental harm comes from. While the rate has crept up slightly, the fact is our Canterbury members are light years away from the season when one in five were significantly non-compliant. Those days are gone.

“Modern dairy farming is hugely complex and Canterbury’s 921 dairy farms operate under 10,137 consent conditions. The sterling result is that 9,630 consent conditions are fully complied with,” Mr Barkla concluded.  

Mention dairying and too often someone will preface it with the word dirty.

Any pollution is unacceptable but the 90.3% of farmers who do all they should and more to look after the environment shouldn’t be damned because of the minority who cause the problems.


From ECan’t to ECAN

September 14, 2011

Environment Canterbury has made a welcome change from ECAn’t to ECan with a significant improvement in its resource consent processing.

Environment Canterbury has improved its compliance with resource management consenting timelines from 29% in 2007/08 to 92% in 2010/11, Environment Minister Nick Smith says.

“That only 29% of consents in 2007/08 were processed on time – the worst of New Zealand’s 84 councils – was one of the key reasons the Government stepped in and appointed Commissioners in March last year. It is a real credit to the Commissioners and Environment Canterbury staff that this has been turned around so dramatically,” Dr Smith said.

“Delays in resource consent processing add expense, inhibit growth and cost jobs. It is particularly important as Canterbury rebuilds from the devastating earthquakes that consents are processed as timely as possible.

“Environment Canterbury has achieved this turnaround by putting in place good systems, ensuring consents have all the information early on and building a good relationship with consent applicants and Canterbury’s other councils. The Government’s reforms to simplify and streamline the Resource Management Act also helped in improving consenting timelines.

“This dramatic improvement in resource consent processing follows completion of a natural resources plan, a significant improvement in compliance with farm resource consents, good progress in implementing the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and the $12 million plan to clean up Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. The Commissioners’ performance has significantly exceeded the Government’s expectations.”

The appointment of a Commissioner was controversial but it has paid off.

ECan’s record was bad enough in good times. It is even more important in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes that the Regional Council is working efficiently and minimising delays in the consent process.


Where dairy farming is going

September 12, 2011

The $11.6 million cleanup of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere will be a collaborative effort by central government, Ngāi Tahu, Environment Canterbury, Fonterra, Selwyn District Council, Lincoln University and the local community.

In announcing the initiative, Environment Minister Nick Smith said:

“Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is New Zealand’s most polluted lake and a co-ordinated cleanup is overdue. This plan involves changes to the Water Conservation Order, millions of dollars to fund clean up work, changes to farm practices in the lake’s catchments, riparian planting and relationship agreements to keep the work programme on track,” Dr Smith said . . .

“$11.6 million is being committed to clean up the lake made up of contributions of $6.1 million from the Government, $3.5 million from Environment Canterbury, $1.3 million from Fonterra, $500,000 from Ngāi Tahu and the balance from the Selwyn District Council, Waihora Ellesmere Trust and Lincoln University. There will also be a substantial commitment to the clean up from local volunteers.

“This is the most significant fresh water clean up project New Zealand has undertaken because of the severity of the pollution and the size of the lake. It has taken 50 years for it to get into this mess and it will take a long-term commitment to put it right. The significance of today is that Ngāi Tahu, farmers, community representatives, local, regional and central government, as well as New Zealand’s largest company, are committed to working together to drive the changes needed to reduce pollutants entering the lake and put it on the road to recovery. . .

Writing about the project in the Sunday Star Times, (not online) Federated farmers president Bruce Wills said the rehabilitation provides a template farmers can back.

Instead of finger pointing, government, iwi, industry, councils and farmers are working together . . .

Te Waihora needs only a little of the immense wealth farming ahs generated for the country over these decades to be put back into it. But Te Waihora also needs action of the 15,000 pest Canada geese estimated to be there – each Canada goose is like having a sheep living ont he water.

It’s why are farmers are saying that lake Ellesmere represents where dairy farming was. Te Wiahora is about where dairy farming is going. It will mean undoing decades of damage from a less enlightened time, there’s no such thing as ‘the good old days’ with farm environmental practice.

A Canterbury spirit can be seen with Fonterra Cooperative Group joining farmers in working for the lake. Te Waihora indicates a dairy industry that’s facing up to the past but is working with the community for a common future.”

While not all farmers and farming practices in the past were unsustainable, it is true that too many were.

We can’t change that but we can ensure we do better in the future.

If the  Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere clean-up is successful it could provide a model for other areas to follow.


Management requires measurement

November 11, 2010

Significant water takes will have to be metered to enable better management of fresh water.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said:

“We can’t manage what we don’t measure,” Dr Smith said. “We know that over the past decade we have doubled the amount of water that can be legally taken from our rivers, lakes and aquifers to 450 million cubic metres per week. That is 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools every minute. We also know we are reaching resource limits in significant areas.  We need to know how much water is actually taken and when if we are to properly manage New Zealand’s hugely valuable freshwater resource.”

The Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations 2010 take effect today and require all new water takes of more than 5 litres a second to be metered. Existing takes of more than 20 litres a second must be metered within two years (10 November 2012), those more than 10 litres a second must be metered with four years (10 November 2014) and all takes more than 5 litres a second within six years (10 November 2016).

“These regulations will hugely improve the information we have on water takes.  We currently measure only 31% of allocated water. These regulations will increase this to 92% in 2012, 96% in 2014 and 98% in 2016,” Dr Smith said.

This is sensible and already happens in many areas.

We take water from the North Otago Irrigation Scheme, which comes from the Waitaki River, underground and from the Kakanui River for irrigation and all of the takes are metered.

“These pragmatic regulations do not apply to small water takes less than 5 litres per second that make up 39% of consents but only 2% of the volume of water taken. Requiring small takes such as households and stock water to be metered could not be justified nationally.

“The Government is providing $90,000 to Irrigation New Zealand to develop guidance about water meters, verification and installation to irrigators so as to ensure the smooth implementation of these new regulations.  We also want irrigators to be well informed as to how to use this information to improve the efficiency of water use.

“These new regulations on water metering are part of a broader programme to improve New Zealand’s freshwater management.  This has included major investments in lake and river clean-ups, toughened penalties and stronger enforcement of resource consents, doubling funding for the New Zealand Landcare Trust, addressing Environment Canterbury’s problems and progressing the work of the Land and Water Forum. This Government recognises how important water will be to New Zealand’s future economic and environmental well being.”

Environment Canterbury and Irrigation New Zealand have welcomed the move.

NIWA’s lake water quality report was also released yesterday and the Minister gave it a could-do-better:

“This report concludes that New Zealand lake water quality compares favourably with Europe and North America but there are signs of real concern,” Dr Smith said. “It is unacceptable that 32% of our monitored lakes have poor water quality and that more lakes are deteriorating in water quality than are improving.

“Lake water quality is worst in low-land intensively farmed areas such as the Waikato and Manawatu.  The Government is ramping up spending on freshwater clean-up initiatives, from $17 million from 2003-2008 to $94 million from 2009-2014.  It is encouraging the lake showing the greatest improvement in water quality is Lake Rotoiti in the Bay of Plenty, proving the success of the Rotorua Lakes Water Quality initiative.”

Sixty-eight lakes had reliable data for the period 2005 to 2009 to enable trends in water quality to be measured.  Nineteen lakes showed deterioration and eight showed improvement.

“The deterioration in lake water quality was worst in Canterbury between 2005 and 2009, making up 15 of the 19 lakes nationwide that went backwards,” Dr Smith said.  “This reinforces the Government’s decision to intervene in water management in Canterbury, and the need to fast-track water plans and rules to better manage pollution.

“The data in this report is not comprehensive and has some gaps. More information is required on why the greatest deterioration in water quality has occurred in catchments with more native than pastoral land cover. The data is also limited to 112 out of 4000 New Zealand lakes, although I am encouraged that the number of lakes being monitored has trebled since 2000.

Federated Farmers welcomed the report as a vindication, albeit grudging, of the work farmers have done to improve water quality in the past decade.

“Turning water quality around is no different from a supertanker.  It takes time but we’re now seeing some positive indicators,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Over the past decade, we’ve invested massively in effluent management systems and other on-farm improvements.  There’s been a hell of a lot of great work done on-farm and in the industry which goes completely unreported. . .

. . . “This NIWA report raises important questions and we must answer those. . .

. . . “Interpreting these results must be lake specific with multiple factors at play. LakeSPI, for one, is influenced heavily by exotic aquatic plants and fish, which aren’t cows.

“But are farmers denying any impact of agriculture on lake water quality? Of course we’re not.  That’s why we’ve made a massive investment over the past decade and why we’re open to public scrutiny.

“But we cannot be expected to make all the improvements when agriculture is far from all of the problem.

“I, for one, would dearly love to know what’s causing the decline in 40 percent of lakes with ‘dominant native catchment cover’.

“Could it be introduced water fowl, koi carp, aquatic plants and trout perhaps?  NIWA has instead strayed into ‘gosh, it must be farming’, instead of staying science informed. . .

There are many causes for declining water quality. Indentifying them and finding solutions must be based on science and requires the co-operation of land owners, visitors, water users and relevant agencies.


Irrigators and Iwi appeal Hunter Downs consent

June 11, 2010

Existing irrigators and Ngai Tahu have appealed the consent granted to the Meridian Energy-South Canterbury Irrigation Trust Hunter Downs irrigation scheme by Environment Canterbury.

Existing irrigators are concerned that the amount of water the Hunter Downs scheme is permitted to use would impact negatively on their supply .

Reliability of supply was one of the factors taken into account when designing existing irrigation schemes and the farming operations which rely on them. Any threat to that is a threat to the 100% reliability, for which consent was given, is a threat to all the businesses which use the water.

One of Ngai Tahu’s problems is that the scheme would take water from one catchment and put it in another although that doesn’t always mean they’ll object.

The North Otago Irrigation Company scheme which takes water fromt he Waitaki river and discharges it into the Waiareka Creek which eventually flows into the Kakanui river.

Ngai Tahu agreed to that  and I think that’s because the creek was little more than a series of semi stagnant ponds most of the time. The discharge from the Waitaki  got the creek flowing again, improving both the quantity and quality of the water.


Good call on ECan commissioners

April 22, 2010

Environment and Local Body Ministers Nick Smith and Rodney Hide have named the six commissioners tasked with overseeing Environment Canterbury and fixing the region’s pressing water issues.

Deputy to chair Dame Margaret Bazley is David Caygill, who has experience in local and central government, the legal profession and chairs several organisations including the Electricity Commission.

Biographies of the remaining commissioners, David Bedford, Donald Couch, Tom Lambie Professor Peter Skelton and Rex Williams are at the link above.

I am delighted that Tom Lambie is one of the commissioners. He is Lincoln University chancellor and an organic farmer who gained a lot of respect when he chaired Federated Farmers. He has personal experience of the importance of careful water management through his involvement with the Opuha Dam.

Replacing elected councillors isn’t ideal. But these appointees have a much better mix of skills and experience to deal with the crisis facing ECan and the region’s water than an election could have delivered.


ECan offers compromise

March 6, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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