Rural round-up

June 29, 2020

Agriculture emerges from lockdown relatively unscathed, but coming global recession will bite, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Agricultural incomes are expected to take a hit later this year as the effects of the global recession caused by coronavirus kicks in, says Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny.

The sector was likely to remain profitable, however.

Despite having come through the lockdown and its immediate effects relatively unscathed, due largely to agriculture’s classification as an essential service, the forecast 3 per cent hit to global growth over 2020, meant there would be less demand for the forseeable future.

As a country that exported over 90 per cent of its agricultural production, New Zealand would be heavily exposed, Penny said. . .

McBride optimistic about Fonterra’s future despite global uncertainty – Esther Taunton:

Fonterra will face “bumps in the road” as the global economy rebuilds after the coronavirusoutbreak, but chairman-elect Peter McBride is optimistic about the dairy co-op’s future.

“Businesses learn more from challenges than successes and there will be plenty learnt from this,” the South Waikato dairy farmer said.

And McBride should know.

As the chairman of the Zespri board from 2013-18, he led the kiwifruit marketer through a crippling outbreak of the vine disease Psa, estimated to have cost growers close to $1 billion . .

Few winter grazing issues found – Neal Wallace:

Soutland farmers are being given a pat on the back for their winter grazing management so far this year, which Environment Southland says is an improvement on last year.

An aerial inspection by regional council staff prompted chief executive Rob Phillips to conclude farmers have made positive improvements.

“I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need.”

Phillips said it is early in the season so wet weather will change conditions. . . .

Outstanding vintage despite Covid-19 conditions:

While it will be forever remembered as the Covid-19 harvest, an excellent summer throughout most of the country has contributed to an outstanding vintage for New Zealand’s wine regions.

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The New Zealand wine industry had hoped for a larger harvest in 2020, after smaller than expected crops over the last three years. With 457,000 tonnes of grapes harvested, this year’s vintage will help the industry to meet the high demand for New Zealand wine.

With New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 just as Vintage 2020 began, the industry was acutely aware that it was in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes, says Gregan. . .

Tug-of-war fan desperate to keep sport alive – ‘It’s weightlifting lying down’ – Carol Stiles:

A Waikato farmer is building a museum on his farm to preserve memorabilia from New Zealand’s oldest introduced sport – tug-of-war.

Graham Smith has a dairy farm 50 minutes south of Hamilton.

He is also a passionate advocate for a sport which is dwindling. He’s preserving the memory of tug-of-war in case one day it sparks up again.

He is the president of the New Zealand Tug of War Association and has been involved for more than 40 years. . .

Record on-farm price for EC Angus – Hugh Stringleman:

An Angus bull from Turiroa Stud, Wairoa, has made $104,000 at auction, believed to be a New Zealand on-farm sale record.

Turiroa’s best-ever sales performance also featured a price of $86,000 and an average of $12,560 for a full clearance of 50 bulls.

Andrew Powdrell said there was good buying further into the catalogue and there was a bull for everyone.

The Powdrell family was humbled by the result and thrilled the bulls are going to good homes. . .


Rural round-up

August 22, 2019

600 farmers in big water project

Large-scale initiative in Southland expected to have big effect on water quality:

You could say it’s “ace” that more than 600 farmers and multiple agencies are working together to improve water quality in the Aparima catchment area in the deep south.

ACE – otherwise known as the Aparima Community Environment (ACE) project – is a farmer-led initiative in Southland aimed at over 600 farms spread over 207,000 hectares – with 81 per cent of that area developed. It has multi-agency participation with DairyNZ, Beef & Lamb and Environment Southland involved.

The ace thing about ACE, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for responsible dairying, Dr David Burger, is its enormous scale and the intent to support all land managers in good farming practice. It will also track what happens on every single farm in the six Aparima catchment groups – Pourakino, Lower Aparima, Orepuki, Mid Aparima, Upper Aparima and Waimatuku – and relate this to water quality downstream. . . 

Federated Farmers hails court ruling as a win for Rotorua community:

The voices of farmers in Rotorua, led by Federated Farmers, have been instrumental in the Environment Court’s rejection of Land Use Capability (LUC) as a tool for nitrogen allocation.

Federated Farmers, along with the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective, has been fighting a proposal by Rotorua Lakes Council, forestry and others seeking to allocate nitrogen discharges using LUC methodology.  With evidence from member farmers in the catchment, as well as by engaging experts and consultants, Federated Farmers demonstrated the LUC proposal would fail farm businesses and their communities to the point of potential ruin, Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

“It would also have had a more uncertain environmental outcome than the original proposal  by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in Plan Change 10,” he said.

“We’re pleased the Court comprehensively rejected the LUC proposal that would have required nitrogen discharge reductions of 80% by dairy farmers and 40% by drystock farmers.  In contrast, the allocation for forestry would have increased six fold. This would have meant that most farmers would have had to lease back nitrogen (that had been transferred to forestry) in order to continue farming.” . . 

Forget about another share trading review – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Fonterra director Nicola Shadbolt says the recent collapse of a few dairy cooperatives should be blamed on their strategy, not their co-op structure.

She says the collapse of Australia’s biggest dairy co-op Murray Goulburn and the demise of Westland Milk co-op on the West Coast is not about their structure.

“It is governance, it is strategy. I mean for every two co-ops that fail there are about a thousand corporates… nobody says of the corporates that it’s their business model. But with co-ops it’s always their business model that is blamed.”

Shadbolt, a fierce proponent of the cooperative model, is aware of moves by some farmers and a few directors to return capital structure to the table. . .

Is there a future for OZ Fonterra as Fonterra’s finances unravel – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it expects a loss of around $600 million or more for the year ended 31 July 2019 has big ramifications for Oz Fonterra.  With overseas-milk pools now lying outside the central focus of Fonterra’s new strategy, and with Fonterra seriously short of capital, the Australian-milk pool and associated processing assets look increasingly burdensome.

If Fonterra were to divest its Australian operations, then it would demonstrate that Fonterra really is retreating to be a New Zealand producer of New Zealand dairy ingredients. It would also reinforce the notion that consumer-branded products are now largely beyond its reach.

This strategic position is close to where Fonterra was in around 2006, when it decided that it was 50 years too late to take on the likes of Nestlé.  It did have both Australian and Chilean operations at that time but they were smaller than now. It also took on an initial shareholding in Chinese San Lu at that time, but essentially Fonterra saw itself as a New Zealand-based co-operative. . .

Agriculture fears it will be milked by EU free trade deal – Mike Foley:

Australia risks trading away hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural earnings if it doesn’t negotiate significant concessions from the European Union.

That’s according to industry groups Australian Dairy Farmers and the National Farmers’ Federation, which warned Trade Minister Simon Birmingham the EU will have to reduce its onerous tariffs and import barriers to make a free trade agreement (FTA).

“There would be no point in doing the deal for Australian farmers if we can’t see a realistic and positive outcome from this FTA,” NFF president Tony Mahar said. . . 

Want to protect the planet? Eat more beef, not less – Patrick Holden:

If students and staff at Goldsmiths University really want to help the environment, they should end their ban on selling beef on campus. Far from being the bogeymen portrayed by environmental campaigners, sustainably farmed beef and dairy cattle are integral to maintaining our green and pleasant land, keeping our waterways free of chemicals and feeding our population in the most efficient manner possible.

Two thirds of UK farmland is under grass and in most cases cannot be used for other crops. The only responsible way to convert this into food is to feed it to cattle, which are capable of deriving 100 per cent of their nutrition from grass and therefore are more efficient on such land than chickens or pigs. Even on grassland where crops could be grown, ploughing it up to create arable farms would release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and require the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser, all of which can devastate biodiversity.

Cattle farming does not just help to maintain grassland – it also works to improve the sustainability of existing cropland.  . . 


Southland shows sense

July 4, 2019

A few days ago I declared a common sense emergency.

Jane Smith is blunter:

Although Jane Smith is not a climate change denier, she says there is no denying things have got “out of control” when it comes to cities declaring a climate emergency.

In fact, this North Otago farmer wants to declare an “Emergency of Political Stupidity”.

“All of these headlines are politically driven propaganda, rather than evidence-based” Smith told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

As a former Ballance Farm Environment Award winner, Smith knows her stuff when it comes to keeping New Zealand clean and green, but a climate emergency is a step too far in her book.

“I just think now is the time to be working together in a calm and rational way – and I’m not a climate change denier at all. It’s just that this is a long game, and we actually need to be thinking about it together and building that plane while we’re flying it I guess”.

Another issue bugging Smith at the moment is millennials being diagnosed with climate change anxiety over the “looming anticipated threats about what might be happening in the future”.

“That is not conducive to really cool, calm and rational thinking. Opinion seems to be taking over fact … and I just think that’s ridiculous“. . .

The political stupidity emergency is coming closer now Jacinda Ardern is contemplating declaring one of behalf of the government.

The Prime Minister’s admission that she is open to the idea of declaring a climate change emergency is nothing more than hot air and rhetoric, National’s Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“This amounts to nothing more than political posturing and virtue signalling, the Climate Change Minister himself has admitted that he expects emissions to continue to rise until the mid-2020s, and declaring an emergency would not have any impact on this.

“There is no clear understanding of what declaring a ‘climate emergency’ would actually mean or what would occur as a result.

“When governments declare emergencies they are for natural disasters and requires the full and urgent attention of all relevant government departments. This declaration lacks all such substance and is merely a feel good statement with no plan or meaningful action standing behind it.

“If the Government was explicit in what it would change, fund, or prioritise differently by declaring an emergency then we would be open to the debate, but currently it is just symbolism over substance.

“National is taking a bipartisan approach to climate change and supports the establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission. The focus should be on developing real plans to drive our emissions down rather than making empty declarations.”

People clamoring for declarations of climate emergencies should be very careful what they’re wishing for.

Any urgent actions, which is what emergencies demand, would have high economic and social costs and, given just how small New Zealand’s contribution to the problem is, the environmental benefits would be at the very best minimal.

But there is hope in Southland where cooler heads are prevailing:

Environment Southland has today voted against declaring a climate emergency.

Councillor Robert Guyton put forward the motion at a full council meeting to declare a climate emergency. It was seconded by Cr Lyndal Ludlow. . .

However, a second motion put forward by Cr Eric Roy stated council would “commit to applying best practice and best science to it’s responsibilities and accords urgency to developing an action plan.”

This was then voted on – the results being all but two councillors voting in favour of it. . .

Environment Southland is showing sense.

Commitment to best practice, best science and urgent development of an action plan will achieve far more than the empty words and hot air which are the declaration of a climate emergency.

 


Rural round-up

August 15, 2017

Labour’s water plan ‘dangerous, deceitful’, says Marlborough grapegrower – Oliver Lewis:

A Marlborough grapegrower has blasted Labour’s irrigation policy as “dangerous” and “deceitful”.

Wine Marlborough deputy chairman Simon Bishell said it was populist electioneering that would “drive a deeper wedge between the rural and urban divide”.

The Caythorpe Family Estate grower said international wine markets were incredibly competitive and any extra charge would put New Zealand exporters at a disadvantage. . . 

Concern for Hawke’s Bay farmers, growers over “water tax” – Victoria White:

Concerned members of Hawke’s Bay primary sector have waded into the debate on a Labour Party proposal for a royalty on commercial water.

Yesterday Labour leader Jacinda Ardern revealed their freshwater policy, which included charging an unspecified royalty on commercial water, with the revenue going to local regional councils to be used to clean up rivers, lakes and streams.

This royalty would include water bottlers, and farmers taking water for irrigation schemes. . . 

Horticulture New Zealand Responds to Scaremongering Claims:

Reacting to claims yesterday from Labour’s water tax spokesperson David Parker that its level of “scaremongering around this would make Donald Trump blush”, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says this is a disappointing way to start a policy discussion about water and land use.

“Since Labour announced last week that it planned to tax fruit and vegetable growers’ use of water, I have been contacted by many of our growers asking that Horticulture New Zealand speak out about this tax and its direct impact on the cost of healthy food,” Chapman says.

“The tax confuses water users with water polluters – they are not one and the same – and implies that people on municipal water supply already pay for water, when in fact nobody pays for water. The costs they are talking about relate to the infrastructure required to source water. . .  

Positive perception important to farmers – Sally Rae:

Dean Rabbidge is an advocate for telling the good stories in farming.

Mr Rabbidge (32), a Glenham sheep, beef and dairy farmer, is intent on not only growing his own farming business, but also defending what he views as a “bad rap” that farming receives from some.

He recently became a trustee and member of the Three Rivers Catchment Group, which was established to engage with all sectors of the community and educate around the management of fresh water.

The group comprised about 12 trustees, who were all farmers and who wanted to engage with the community around water quality issues. The catalyst for its formation was Environment Southland’s proposed Water and Land Plan.

Mr Rabbidge encouraged people to “do the right thing” and showcase best management practice. He wanted to “get some good noise” out there with all the good stuff that was happening, he said. . . 

Understanding meat behind marketing – Sally Rae:

When it comes to marketing meat, Wayne Cameron is in the enviable position of having experienced first-hand all aspects of the chain — from producer to restaurateur.

Mr Cameron has been heavily involved with the Silere alpine origin merino meat brand  established six years ago.

Originally a joint venture between the New Zealand Merino Company and Silver Fern Farms,  SFF later withdrew from the venture and Alliance Group took it up.

Mr Cameron’s latest role is as marketing manager premium products at Alliance Group, overseeing not only Silere but also Te Mana lamb, and other yet-to-be launched products, including a beef label due to be rolled out soon. . . 

NZ sheep numbers decline at a slower annual pace as farmers rebuild flocks –  Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – The steady decline in New Zealand’s sheep numbers continued at a slower pace over the past year as farmers in some areas rebuilt their flocks following drought, natural disasters and the impact of facial eczema.

Sheep numbers reduced to an estimated 27.34 million as at June 30 from 27.58 million a year earlier, according to the latest survey from the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. The annual 0.9 percent decline compares with last year’s 5.3 percent drop, and marks the fifth consecutive fall since 2012 when sheep numbers rose 0.4 percent. . . 

Farmers taking a hammering with One Plan, gorge closure :

“We won’t survive,” was Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis’ reaction to the Environment Court directed One Plan presented to Horizons Regional Council’s strategy and policy committee yesterday.

“The report is really scary,” Mrs Collis, an Eketahuna dairy farmer, said.

“We’ve seen the damage a loss of 30 per cent of business has meant to Woodville, with the close of State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge. A drop in dairy farmer’s profit will be felt throughout our community,” she said. . . 

Otematata wetland project gets funding boost – Elena McPhee:

Volunteers are fencing, clearing willows, and planting 2200 native plants before spring for a wetlands restoration project at the head of Lake Aviemore. 

Another $15,000 has been granted for the conservation project as part of an ongoing Environment Canterbury initiative to fund biodiversity projects around the district. 

The Otematata Ratepayers Association received the grant from the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee to enhance another section of the 50 hectare Otematata Wetlands at the head of Lake Aviemore. 

The wetlands site is a popular recreation area, and is being restored by the community-led group.  . . 

Draft Report on Fonterra’s Base Milk Price Calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2016/17 dairy season.

The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which is set at $6.15 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2016/17 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2017/18 price of $6.75 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said with the exception of the asset beta component of the cost of capital estimate, Fonterra’s calculation of the 2016/17 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 

Teacher resources bring primary industries into the classroom:

A new set of online resources will provide teachers with the information they need to help their students learn about New Zealand’s animal welfare, biosecurity and food systems, says Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston.

“The curriculum-linked resources are being rolled out so that teachers can help students to learn key knowledge and skills while also discovering how these key systems underpin the primary industries and play an important role in our economy, our environment and our way of life,” Ms Upston says. . . 

First female president of Agcarm:

Agcarm, the industry association which represents crop protection, animal health and rural supplier businesses, has appointed its first female president.

Dr Pauline Calvert heads the production animal business for MSD Animal Heath in New Zealand and was elected president at Agcarm’s annual meeting on July 27.

Under her presidency, Agcarm will continue to focus on promoting the responsible use of products, sustainable agriculture, environmental preservation, and sensible science-based regulation of crop protection and animal health products. . . 

Interesting Facts And Figures About The 2017 Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

With the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017 National Final looming closer (29th August 2017 at Villa Maria) the contestants are well into study mode, researching their projects, writing budgets, revising a wide range of subjects such as pests & diseases, soil nutrition, pruning, trellising and tractor skills to name but a few. Each of them is very determined to be this year’s winner.

Here are some interesting facts about the competition:

• 2017 will be the largest national final to date with SIX contestants . . 


Water policy inconsistent, unfair

August 14, 2017

Labour’s environment spokesman David Parker showed up yet more flaws in the party’s water tax policy on Q&A yesterday:

. . . No, look, you know, if there’s a cost of cleaning up our rivers, cos I think it’s your birthright and mine to be able to swim in our local river in summer, and for our kids to put their head under without getting crook, there’s a cost to that cleanup. As Nick Smith said last week, he thought that the cost for central government was going to be about $100 million per annum. Now, who should pay that? Should we tax pensioners? Or working people? Or should the farmers who are polluting make a contribution?  . . 

As a general rule, polluters should pay and farmers who pollute now do pay if successfully prosecuted by regional councils. Prosecutions can be not just for actual pollution but also for potential pollution from, for example, effluent spills which could reach waterways, even if they don’t.

But problems with waterways aren’t always the result of current practices, they’ve built up over years, even decades. It is unfair to tax all irrigators now for damage done in the past for which many wouldn’t have been responsible.

It is equally unfair to tax irrigators who aren’t contributing to pollution to clean up after those who are and to tax those in one area to repair damage done in another.

This tax isn’t going to be levied just on polluters it’s going to be levied on all irrigators no matter how good their farming practices and environmental stewardship are.

Then there’s the inconsistency of charging some commercial water users but not all:

. . . CORIN Here’s the thing – you’ve targeted farmers. But why are you giving an exemption to Coca Cola and various other businesses in the cities?

DAVID Well, what we’ve said is that domestic and stock water will never pay. We’re not interested in the municipal sources of water. You know, Coca Cola, they already pay a dollar per cubic metre or a dollar per thousand litres to the Auckland Council for the water they drew. We’re not going to charge them twice. . . 

Good grief! Does he think irrigation water arrives at the farm gate for free?

To get water from the North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC), farmers have to buy shares and pay a cost of about $80 $800 per hectare per year. That covers the infrastructure and delivery costs, which are the same costs Coca Cola pays for council water.

If Labour isn’t going to charge Coca Cola twice, why is it going to charge farmers twice?

. . .CORIN But it does feel, there will be many in the farming sector who will be frustrated and feel they’re being singled out.

DAVID It is them who are polluting our rivers, so I don’t know how that’s unfair.

CORIN Well, they’re certainly a contributor.

DAVID Well, no. Let’s deal with one of the issues that Steven Joyce said. He said, ‘Look at the cities.’ You know, over the last decade, cities have improved their quality.

CORIN But they do pollute waterways as well.

DAVID Not nearly as much as they did in recent decades. And who’s paid for the cost of that cleanup? The people in the cities. They’ve paid for better sewerage treatment; the factories have cleaned up. And over those same decades, the rural sector rivers are getting worse. Now, who should pay? Should the polluter pay or should we tax pensioners? . . 

It doesn’t matter how many times or different ways he says it. Problems have built up over decades and not all are caused by those irrigating now.

Most farmers have changed their practices to stop pollution, to repair damage and enhance waterways.

Labour’s policy won’t give them any credit for that, will charge all irrigators regardless of whether or not they are causing problems, and will tax farmers in one place to clean up water in another.

And not all the problems in rural rivers are caused by irrigation.

Water quality in Otago has been good so far this summer, Otago Regional Council (ORC) seasonal recreational water quality testing shows.

Three sites have had alert/amber warnings at certain times since the summer round of testing began at the beginning of December, but readings for those sites at other times and for all other sites have been considered safe for swimming. . . 

This summer the Kakanui River at Clifton Falls Bridge is the only site to have its most recent reading in the amber/alert range, recording 510 parts of E. coli per 100ml of water on December 28.

ORC duty director Scott MacLean said there was a large colony of nesting gulls at the site, in rugged terrain, about 5km above the Clifton Falls bridge.

“Unfortunately, these nesting gull colonies are likely to continue to cause high E. coli concentrations in the upper Kakanui River, particularly during the breeding season.”

Other amber readings were recorded in the Taieri River at Outram on December 12 and 19, and in the Taieri River at Waipiata on December 15.

Mr MacLean said the Outram spikes were caused by high river flows on December 12 and heavy localised rainfall on December 19, and the Waipiata spike was caused by rising flows at the time of sampling, due to rainfall on December 12.

Readings at both sites had since fallen to the green band of fewer than 260 E. coli parts per 100ml of water, which was considered very safe for swimming, Mr MacLean said. . . 

Seagulls and heavy rain, not irrigation, caused spikes in pollution and the poor water quality after the rainfall lasted only a few days. Nature caused that problem and nature fixed it without any political interference or tax.

And not all councils have paid for better treatment.

The state of the Invercargill City Council’s stormwater system has been called a “dirty little secret” that has been allowed to exist for years.

Federated Farmers had a crack at both the city council and Environment Southland about the city’s stormwater system at a resource consent hearing on Thursday.

Federated Farmers executive David Rose, at the hearing, said: “It was a revelation to us, this dirty little secret in Invercargill hidden from Invercargill ratepayers, how rundown the stormwater system is”. 

“The ratepayers of Invercargill are our cousins, our family and our friends. It’s a big shock to the farming community also.”

In the council’s own evidence, it accepts stormwater was contaminated with sewage, Rose said. 

The council has applied to discharge water and contaminants from stormwater systems into surface water bodies and into open drains, for a term of 35 years. 

A total of 147 discharge pipes draining to the Waikiwi Stream, Waihopai River, Otepuni Stream, Kingswell Creek and Clifton Channel are covered by the application. 

But Environment Southland says the consent should be turned down, because receiving waters and the New River Estuary will be effected. 

Environment Southland principal consents officer Stephen West’s report says, “With the known sewage contamination of the stormwater network, including the engineered overflow points, it is likely that the discharges will have more than minor adverse effect on the environment”.

Effects on water quality within the receiving waters and in the New River Estuary appeared to be more than minor, it says. . . 

No farm would apply for consent which would allow it to pollute waterways for 35 years.

But there’s nothing to be gained by widening the rural-urban divide as Labour is attempting to.

We all want clean water.

That won’t be achieved by Labour’s policy which will raise issues around Maori ownership of water.

The most effective way of improving water quality on or near irrigated farms is for farmers to make changes on-farm and to invest in new technology. Labour’s policy takes money from productive uses like that and channels it through a bureaucracy. In doing so it takes responsibility and accountability away from farmers and worse provides a disincentive for them to make improvements to their practices.

So far the announcement has raised more questions than it answers:

“The Labour Party’s glib and misleading announcement this week about a new water tax was disappointing for all New Zealanders,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive, Andrew Curtis.

“Farmers are clear that a tax on irrigation would affect all New Zealanders through higher food prices but Labour has failed to address this, even though many of their voters cannot afford to pay more for groceries,” he says.

“We think the tax is inconsistent in treating water used for irrigation differently to other types of commercial water use and there are a range of complex issues associated with how it would be implemented which appear not to have been thought through at all,” he adds.

“Kiwis have a right to understand the tax before they vote.”

IrrigationNZ requests that Labour provides written answers to the questions below so that voters can understand the impact of this new tax on all New Zealanders.

“Labour – Let’s Answer This” – New Zealanders deserve answers on water tax!” 

What is the impact of Labour’s water tax?

  1. How much tax will be charged per unit of water?
  2. Who will be charged?
  3. What impact will the tax have on price increases for food eg fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, beer, bread, wine, ice-cream, and how will poorer households afford price increases?
  4. How many jobs would be lost across New Zealand due to our food becoming unaffordable at home and not competitive internationally?
  5. How will a water tax enable local communities to implement solutions to their environmental issues?

How is Labour’s water tax fair?

  1. Who owns New Zealand’s water?
  2. Who will the tax be paid to?
  3. Why is it fair to tax some types of commercial water use and not tax others?
  4. Exporters already pay income tax – why should they pay twice?
  5. Why is Labour not going to introduce a sewage tax in town water supplies when the Our Freshwater 2017Report found that E.coli and nitrate-nitrogen concentrations are highest in urban catchments?

How is Labour’s water tax proposal workable?

  1. If the tax varies depending on water scarcity, water quality and weather conditions then how many different tax rates will there be?
  2. Which organisations have you consulted on the tax?
  3. Can Labour confirm that those affected by the tax will set the new tax level as suggested by the Leader?
  4. If tax payers have a different view to Labour will the tax payers’ view prevail?

How will Labour’s water tax address the impacts of climate change and existing investment?

  1. How will taxing water used to grow food increase New Zealand’s resilience to climate change?
  2. Over the last 5 years there has been $1.7 billion investment in modern efficient irrigation infrastructure – what impact will the tax have on this?

Honest answers to these questions would kill the policy, which is what it deserves for being so inconsistent and unfair.

Water quality is an issue all over the country, not just where there’s irrigation and it can be more of an issue when the water falls straight from the sky as rain than when it’s controlled through irrigators.

All farmers should, and most do, play an important role in improving the health of waterways.

Picking on just some of them with a tax will hinder the good work already being undertaken, provide a disincentive to do more and open a can of worms over water ownership.


Rural round-up

May 8, 2017

Finding alternatives to dairy – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand dairy production has increased by 80% since Year 2000. This has come almost equally from both more dairy hectares and more production per hectare. However, the limits to pastoral dairying in New Zealand have largely been reached. Where do we go from here?

First, there is a need to recognise the two reasons why pastoral dairying has largely reached its limits.

The most important reason is that society is no longer willing to accept the effects of cow urine leaching from pastures into waterways and aquifers. Huge progress has been made in fencing off livestock from waterways, and in tree planting alongside the streams, but that does not solve the problem of the urine patch. This 2013/14 year is therefore the last year of large-scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to pastoral dairying. New environmental regulations have effectively closed that door. . .

Lifting water quality and profit too – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are continuing to be proactive when it comes to changing regulations within Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan. Mid-Oreti and Hedgehope farmers held a catchment field day recently to discuss the plan and what more they could do on farm to continue to improve water quality. Nicole Sharp reports.

How can you make looking after the environment profitable?

That was the hot topic at the mid-Oreti and Hedgehope catchment field days recently, where farmers gathered to discuss Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan and what more they could do. . . 

Farmers hold back wool from auction in weak market  – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Less wool than forecast was offered at New Zealand’s weekly auction as farmers held back bales from sale in a weak market.

Just 6,821 bales were put up for sale at yesterday’s South Island auction after 11 percent of the expected bales were withdrawn before the sale started, according to AgriHQ. Even with the low number of bales on offer, the clearance rate fell 2 percentage points from last week’s auction to 73 percent, lagging behind last year’s levels, AgriHQ said. . . 

Comvita shares slump 9.4% on Deutsche Bank downgrade, news of Myrtle Rust in NZ  – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Comvita shares sank 9.4 percent as investment analysts cut their valuation for the manuka honey products maker, coinciding with yet another problem out of the Te Puke-based company’s control with the discovery of Myrtle Rust in the Far North.

The shares fell as low as $6.07 in early trading today, the lowest since Jan. 23, and were recently down 65 cents to $6.25 after Deutsche Bank cut its price target for the stock to $7.05 from a previous target of $9. Deutsche Bank owns a stake in broking and research firm Craigs Investment Partners, whose executive chairman Neil Craig also heads up Comvita’s board. .. 

New South Wales agricultural region showcased to leading New Zealand and Australian farmers:

Puketapu beef finisher Rob Pattullo was one of nearly 50 leading farmers from across New Zealand and Australia to tour North-western New South Wales recently.

Hosted by specialist agricultural bank, Rabobank, the tour group gathered to visit some of the region’s most progressive farming businesses. . . 

Harraway Sisters Help Celebrate 150 Years of Harraways Oats

New Zealand’s iconic oats company, Harraways, is celebrating 150 years of providing Kiwis with delicious oats.

Since 1867, Harraways has been operating from its original site in Green Island, Dunedin and remains privately owned.

With humble beginnings as a small family business producing flour for the growing population of Dunedin, oats weren’t the company’s sole focus at the time. Replacing the old method of stone grinding flour with an oat roller milling plant in 1893, a thousand tonnes of oats were produced in the first year, expanding Harraways into the breakfast cereal producer that they are well-known as today. . . 

Star gazing tours and new pools are ‘hot’ attractions at Tekapo Springs:

The introduction of star gazing tours married with the launch of new pools have put Tekapo Springs firmly on the global tourism map. 

Star gazing tours in one of the world’s top ‘clear sky’ locations was launched by Tekapo Springs in New Zealand’s Mackenzie country just two months ago, taking viewing the Southern night sky to whole new levels. . . 

 Manuka Health unveils $3.5 million Wairarapa Apiculture Centre
Minister for Food Safety officially opens state of the art processing plant:

Leading honey manufacturer Manuka Health has today officially opened its expanded national apiculture business after a $3.5million build that will significantly expand the organisation’s export capacity.

Joining CEO John Kippenberger, the Minister for Food Safety Hon David Bennett opened the Manuka Health Wairarapa Apiculture Centre in an event attended by MP for the Wairarapa, Alastair Scott; Mayor John Booth of Carterton District Council; Chief Executive of Carterton District Council, Jane Davis; industry and government representatives; neighbours; beekeeper partners; site design and build companies; and Manuka Health staff. . .


Rural round-up

August 17, 2015

More women working NZ farms – Suzette Howe:

New Zealand is seeing a rise in the number of women working in farming. For years farming has been mainly viewed as a man’s world, but the tide is turning.

Nestled away on a north Canterbury farm, Louisa McClintock is not your average teenage girl. At just 17 she’s fallen in love with farming. She has quit school and is taking up the reins of her granddad’s farm.

“Everyone thought I was going to stay at school till year 13 and do the whole nine yards and go to uni, but I don’t think there’s anything I’d rather be doing; farming is it,” she says. . . 

Getting through the tough times – Andrew Hoggard:

We at least now know where we are with the much anticipated Fonterra forecast payment.  A price of $3.85 per kilo of milk solids is a real shocker.  There’s not going to be many farmers making anything on that payout.

That said, what can realistically be done about helping farmers through the tough times ahead for at least the next few months?

First, there is the no brainer stuff.  Talk to the bank manager.  Talk to advisers.  Put a bit more effort into communication with the family – they will be feeling the pressure as well.  . . 

Water Proposals jeopardise Southland’s farming future

Federated Farmers Southland strongly opposes Environment Southland’s draft ‘Water and Land Plan and are planning meetings to discuss the rural community’s concerns.

President of Federated Farmers Southland, Allan Baird, says “In its current form, the cost to Southland farmers will be crippling and there will be large flow on affects for the wider Southland economy.”

“As proposed, this Plan would severely limit or prohibit development, flexibility, and innovation for farming businesses, which will have huge consequences for Southland’s economy.”

“Farmers want good water quality just like every other Southlander; by progressing the current outcomes based approach that focuses our resources on the priority hot spots. This is consistent with what the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is encouraging in her recent report, but we can’t do that without the flexibility to adapt to the environment and regulatory changes.”    . . .

NZ and Australia likely to trigger milk quota – Allan Barber:

For the first time since 2004 New Zealand and Australian beef exporters look almost certain to run out of US beef quota before the end of the year. High kills in both countries have seen an excess of beef being processed, well ahead of the normal annual production trend.

New Zealand’s annual quota allows shipments of 213,402 tonnes, much of it manufacturing beef for the fast food industry, but also higher value prime beef cuts in the pre Christmas period. If the quota runs out, these cuts will be at risk. The excess production this year is a direct result of the high cow cull because of the downturn in dairy prices. One processor told me the present slaughter rate was four times the normal amount. . . 

Reducing waste to feed the world:

A 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreement to reduce food waste by 10 percent across the region is picking up pace as researchers and technical team members work towards their 2017 goal of developing effective strategies and actions to address urgent global food waste issues.

A third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That translates into about 1.3 billion ton per year. Lincoln University Associate Professor James Morton says reducing food waste is the logical first step in meeting the needs of a growing world population, which is predicted to reach nine billion by 2050. He recently attended the second of three APEC ‘Multi-Year Project’ meetings focused on addressing global food waste, where he spoke around the need to measure and reduce wastage in the livestock chain. . . 

TPP – it’s time for a breather – Keith Woodford:

The failure to reach closure at the recent TPP negotiations in Hawaii may be a blessing for New Zealand. It may give some time for our negotiators to reflect on what we hope to achieve and what we are prepared to concede.

Most farmers will be supporters of the TPP. They will be working on the apparently reasonable assumption that more free trade has to be good value. . .

Commission releases draft report on 2014/15 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s (DIRA) milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses whether Fonterra’s approach delivers incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The Commission’s overall view is that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the DIRA. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 22, 2014

NZ meat industry tie-up stumbled on differing strategies – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand meat companies abandoned efforts to consolidate and reduce surplus capacity last year because they lacked an agreed export strategy and farmers wouldn’t commit stock to firms that closed plants, industry sources say.

The country’s four biggest meat processors – farmer owned cooperatives Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group, accounting for about half the industry, the Talley’s Group family-owned Affco and ANZCO Foods, with a majority ownership held by a Japanese food company – ended talks after failing to reach agreement last year.

A proposal for competitors to share the cost of closing plants was rejected, as was a plan for each company to retain its stock volumes for a period of up to five years following a closure, so they weren’t disadvantaged, according to people involved in the talks, who asked not to be named. . .

No more rules please, say farmers – Diane Bishop:

Education, not regulation, is the key to good environmental outcomes, Southland farmers say.

They want Environment Southland to establish best-practice guidelines around hill and high country development instead of enforcing rules on them.

“I don’t like rules,” Lumsden farmer Willie Menlove said.

“I’ve farmed for more than 20 years without these sorts of rules and I’d prefer education to be the end goal.”

He isn’t alone. . .

GM artificial food may be ‘staple diet’ – Matt Stewart:

From test-tube meat to 3-D printed pizza, the future of food is a brave new world where science is racing to keep up with a resource that grows ever more expensive and scarce.

As part of Wellington on a Plate, Victoria University tourism management honours students are imagining various scenarios around the future of food festivals and, ultimately, the way we will consume and make food as the planet struggles to feed 10 billion mouths by 2050.

“By 2050 the burger competition at Wellington on a Plate could consist of restaurants who are growing their own hamburgers,” student supervisor and futurist Ian Yeoman said. . .

Quality of river raises passions – Gerard Hutching:

Outside the mercury may be falling, but indoors the atmosphere heats up as a trio of farmers passionately debate the future of dairying in the Tararua district.

It’s a hot topic, with the Horizons Regional Council laying down the gauntlet to land users to clean up their act with its One Plan and the Environment Court setting limits on the amount of nitrogen loss into rivers.

Many found the court’s ruling hard to swallow.

“It would have been catastrophic. Our farms were going to rot from the inside out. The regional council had not done its work properly,” says Dannevirke dairy farmer Will Findlay. . .

 John Deere and the downside of an abundant harvest:

This year hasn’t been kind to the US agricultural sector.

Just ask John Deere, the world’s largest manufacturer of farming machinery. The company reported a 15 per cent plunge in profit for its fiscal third quarter compared with the previous quarter on Wednesday. After years of sustained growth, the company has now seen its sales fall in each of the first three fiscal quarters of 2014 and each time significantly.

Tractor sales, which are often used as a barometer of agricultural sector health, have been especially weak in the US. Deere’s equipment sales fell by 6 per cent in the third quarter, and are expected to tumble by another 8 per cent in the fourth quarter. . . .

Strong sales signal confidence in the New Zealand wine industry:

Solid export value growth and continued demand for New Zealand wine is the summary of the year according to the June year end 2014 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Wineries took full advantage of the glorious 2013 vintage to bounce back from the supply constraints of 2012. The end result was a 10% increase in both export volume and value as overseas sales earned a record $1.33 billion” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. The highly successful sales year left stocks needing replenishment and even greater demand forecast. 445,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in 2014.

All grape growing regions witnessed a two-speed growing season which commenced early but slowed in the lead-up to vintage with a run of fine but cool weather in most regions allowing for good flavour development. . .

Our Seafood the Best in the World:

The Prime Minister John Key called New Zealand’s seafood ‘the best in the world’ in opening the Seafood Industry Conference in Wellington.

John Key said he’s travelled all over the world and eaten seafood in all sorts of places, but ‘without doubt New Zealand produces the best and I’ll challenge anyone to show me better.”

“I’ve hosted Hilary Clinton, to Will and Kate, and they’ve all been impressed by our seafood,” he told delegates. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua – Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


Rural round-up

July 28, 2014

Farmers make energy and water savings – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers stand to make big savings on both electricity and water if they introduce energy-efficient measures to their irrigation systems.

Twelve farmers who took part in a recent pilot project could save an average of $7444 a year on electricity. On average, they would have to spend $25,888 on upgrading their systems, but the payback period would be just 3.5 years.

The farmers found they could significantly cut the amount of water they used, between 10 and 15 days over a six-month season, providing further energy savings because irrigators were not needed.

Nationwide, irrigation uses about 2.5 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity for pressurised spray systems covering 625,151 hectares. . .

Work starts on Northland flood clean-up – Hugh Stringleman:

Task Force Green work teams will begin clearing up this week after prolonged storms and floods in Northland.

Three teams of four, plus a supervisor, have been trained in equipment safety and will be clearing fences, removing flood debris from paddocks, and cutting up fallen trees in commercial orchards.

Two of the government-funded Task Force Green teams would be based in Whangarei and the other in Kaikohe, Rural Support Trust Northland co-ordinator Julie Jonker said.

Farmers and orchardists with severe damage had been asked to advise the trust to get a clearer picture of the needs, she said. . .

European Union changes might help Kiwi cause – Nigel Stirling:

The inward-looking culture of farming in the European Union is changing.

That augured well for New Zealand’s chances of a long-awaited free-trade agreement (FTA), but the case still needed to be made how such an agreement could benefit Europe, the union’s top official in this country said.

NZ’s large footprint as an agricultural producer has been a big factor in it being put at the back of the queue for a trade deal with the EU.   . .

Eye-in-the-sky scrutiny monitors winter crops – Allison Beckham:

Environment Southland staff are assessing the most cost-effective way to map land planted in winter forage crops using satellite imagery, after a pilot study last year showed the most accurate method was also the most expensive.

The council wanted to map the extent of crops such as kale and swedes, the use of which was known to lift levels of soil contaminants including nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E.coli, council soil and science programme co-ordinator George Ledgard said. . . .

Paddock to plate, and smart roads possible:

New Zealand’s international brand and exports could grow significantly with the creation of a data sharing ‘eco-system’ according to paper released by the NZ Data Futures Forum today.

Food traceability or ‘paddock to plate’ tracking is one of a number of kick start projects recommended in the paper that would see New Zealand become a world leader in the trusted use of data.

 “New Zealand has got a real opportunity here. If we can create an ‘eco-system’ for data, we can unlock huge value, but to do this we need to treat data as a national asset,” says Forum Chair John Whitehead.

The paper suggests a range of initiatives including the establishment of an independent data council and an open data champion to drive innovation through data sharing.  The data council would act as an independent ‘guardian’ to ensure trust, privacy and security are maintained. . .

Extractor hopeful over hemp uses:

Ashburton company Oil Seed Extractions has been waiting a long time for a change in legislation which would enable it to sell food products made from hemp in Australasia.

The producer of seed oils for the food, skin care and health sectors, and its parent company Midlands Seed, were among the first companies in New Zealand to be granted a licence to grow hemp back in 2001-2002.

The companies were also the first to grow and process hemp seed into oil for retail sale and two years ago Oil Seed Extractions became the first New Zealand company to produce hemp seed protein. . .

James had heavenly help with his garden – Bridget Railton:

God has a garden and it’s located near Tokanui.

That’s what 86-year-old Southland man James Pirie says of the expanse of native bushland he’s been preserving since he bought it about 15 years ago.

The Morton Mains sheep farmer is among the 30-odd nominees for the Southland Environment Awards this week for his work preserving a block of native bush fondly dubbed “God’s Garden” about 3km from Tokanui on the Southern Scenic Highway.

“The way I look at it, why put a whole lot of work into planting native trees when you can preserve something that’s already there,” he explains. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 22, 2014

Lepto danger with flood waters:

RURAL WOMEN New Zealand  reminds Far North farming families to be mindful about health issues in dealing with flood waters, including the elevated risk of leptospirosis.

Families should be careful about drinking water, pull on their gumboots, wash hands and faces thoroughly, and cover cuts and grazes before they come into contact with flood water to reduce the chance of getting infections, in particular leptospirosis, Rural Women says.

The leptospirosis bacteria is shed in the urine from infected animals including stock, rodents, dogs, possums, and hedgehogs and is more easily spread about where there is excess surface water as the Far North is currently experiencing. . .

Free lunch for Northland farmers:

WHO SAYS there’s no such thing as a free lunch – or dinner, asks the Northland Rural Support Trust.

It is holding free lunch or dinners for flood-hit Northland starting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 23).

“We can’t stop it raining, but here’s a chance to have a dinner you don’t have to cook and an opportunity to talk to other storm affected folk plus pick the brains of some support people,” the Support Trust says to farmers.

Free food and drink is supplied at each event thanks to the trust and local merchants. . .

Stark difference between NZ and Australian dairying but why? – Pasture to Profit:

The visual & financial differences between the New Zealand & Australian dairy industries at the current time are stark and startling!

Why is the NZ dairy industry booming and Australian dairy farmers under so much pressure & having to dig deep to remain profitable. Both dairy industries supply into the same international market and Australia has a much bigger domestic population and local market. A strong local market is often argued as being a strength and likely to lift dairy farmers farm gate price. The economy in both countries is relatively strong & to a large extent was not greatly affected by the world financial crisis. Yet one dairy industry is hanging in by their fingernails while the other is buoyed (perhaps unrealistically!) by higher milk prices. . . .

AbacusBio finalist in sheep awards – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based AbacusBio and its managing director Neville Jopson both feature among the finalists in this year’s Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.

After being held in the South for the past two years, the awards have been shifted to Napier and will be held on August 6.

Dr Jopson is a finalist in one of two new categories – the sheep industry science award, which recognises a project, business or person undertaking science that is having a positive impact on farming. . .

Decision on effluent area reserved:

An Environment Southland hearing committee has reserved its decision on whether Southland meat processor South Pacific Meats (SPM) can spread effluent on to a larger area of farmland in northern Southland.

SPM, jointly owned by Affco New Zealand and Talleys Fisheries Ltd, opened a plant at Awarua, south of Invercargill, in 2005.

Last year, it gained consent from Environment Southland to spread sludge from the bottom of its wastewater treatment pond on to 55.5ha of a 1033ha sheep farm near Garston. . . .

Farms: the abuse of children –  A Farm Girl’s Fight:

Recently, I was reading some blogs and websites of organizations and individuals that oppose farmers. These websites have “facts” that are outrageous. Luckily, these facts have “sources” attached….that link back to their own website. Anyway, it’s humorous to me, and gives me ideas for my blogs. And let me tell you what. I am fired up.

There was a sentence on one of the websites (which no I will not link to their website) that stated:

“Farmers are awful people that often take advantage of underage children, often their own, forcing them into a life of work and learning of inhumane ways.”
Let me tell you something. With the exception of the “inhumane ways” addition, that statement is damn true and I am darn proud of it. . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2014

India’s massive buffalo exports reflect different approach to food safety – Alan Barber:

India has exported well over 500,000 tonnes of buffalo to Vietnam in 10 months of the latest July to June year. This figure easily exceeds the total of New Zealand’s beef exports to all countries.

Over the same period India’s total bovine (buffalo) exports were 1.45 million tonnes at an average value of US$3041 (NZ$3475), while the average price to Vietnam was US$3489 (NZ$3987), an increase of 40% since 2012. Other main markets in order of importance are Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates.

In comparison New Zealand’s beef exports command an FOB price of between $5000 to the USA, Canada, Korea and China and up to $9000 to French Polynesia, the highest paying market, with other main markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Europe at various points in between. . . .

Consultation opens on infant formula proposals:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the opening of consultation on measures that aim to ensure the robustness of the government’s assurance system for infant formula exports.

“In June last year I announced a work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems, to match rapid growth in infant formula exports,” Ms Kaye says.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.” . . .

Wools of NZ:

It’s not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.Photo: It's not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.

Why politicians shouldn’t be on the field of play – Andrew Hoggard:

In case you were expecting Willy Leferink this week, there has been a bit of a change at Federated Farmers.  My name is Andrew Hoggard and I am the new Dairy Industry Group chair.  That’s not the only change.  Being a North Islander you may get a slightly different perspective on things as I farm with my wife and two children near Fielding in Manawatu. That’s of course the region which gave us that planning beast called “One Plan.”

At Federated Farmers National Conference last week, we heard from political leaders from across the spectrum.

One common theme that annoyed me and the farmers around me was this notion that New Zealand is doing the wrong thing in the marketing of its agricultural products.  That we are not adding value and are just doing cheap and nasty commodity products thanks to industrial farming practices.  Oh and the primary industries are like putting all our economic eggs in one basket.  Now where have I heard that before? . . .

Environment Southland listening to farmers:

Federated Farmers commends Environment Southland for listening to the concerns of Hill and High Country farmers, and delaying notification of the proposed Hill and High Country Development Plan Change today.

“The council’s decision, having engaged and taken on board farmers concerns, will result in better outcomes for farmers and the environment,” says Allan Baird Federated Farmers Southland acting provincial president.

“Taking time to fully consider the issues, potential impacts, inclusive of the whole community and their values, is a fundamental part of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, and needs to be central in all decision making. . .

Finalists of Consultant of the Year Awards announced:

The judges have deliberated and the finalists have been selected for this year’s annual Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

Today Farmax announced the finalists for the DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, and NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said it was great to see such a high standard of talent and skills amongst the nominations. . . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2014

New staff to boost border security:

26 New Ministry for Primary Industries border staff begin training in Auckland today as part of a programme to beef up frontline resources, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Close to 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months and this is another big boost in resources.

“The 26 new staff will graduate around the middle of this year and will be posted around New Zealand.

“While there is increasing use of technology and intelligence to protect our border, we still need people on the frontline.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers. . .

Clover root weevil under attack in Southland – Sally Rae:

An industry-wide effort is under way in Southland to combat the damaging clover root weevil, whose economic damage has been measured in hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide.

Clover root weevil (CRW), identified by distinctive U-shaped notches on clover leaves, was discovered in the Waikato and Auckland in 1996 and has now spread as far as Southland.

A project, involving AgResearch, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Environment Southland, which has been releasing parasitised clover root weevils on Southland farms, is being accelerated. . .

Fonterra Chairman Visits New $126m UHT Milk Processing Site:

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson visited Fonterra’s new $126 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa on the weekend.The site is in its final stages of testing before commissioning Anchor UHT milk and cream products at the end of this month.

Mr Wilson said he was impressed with how quickly it had taken the site to get to this stage with construction completed in 12 months.

“It was great to get the chance to visit and meet the team who have brought our Waitoa site to life. There is a real sense of pride from the team on the ground.  . . .

History repeats itself in Northland:

David Kidd is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old sheep and beef farm manager of Shelley Beach took first place at the Northern Regional Final at the Kaikohe Showgrounds over the weekend, Saturday 15 March.

Thirty years after Mr Kidd’s father, Richard Kidd, became a Grand Finalist David is following in his footsteps. Richard placed third (on count back) in the 1984 Timaru Grand Final representing the Northern Region. “I don’t remember it, but I was at that Grand Final and it was my first Young Farmers experience,” said Mr Kidd. . .

Meet Dr Sunday – Alice Roberts:

A doctor living in rural Queensland says it’s the patients who have kept him in town for the past decade.

Dr Sunday Adebiyi has been a general practitioner in Dysart for 10 years.

He says it’s the friendships you strike up in regional areas that make the job worthwhile.

“I have some very, very good patients and I think about them and they think about me, they are concerned about my welfare and how I’m going,” he says.

“So with such people it would be very difficult to let them down. . .

Rabobank business alumni tour successful South Island farms:

More than 80 New Zealand and Australian farmers toured South Island farms last week as part of Rabobank’s Business Management Programme alumni tour.

They visited a deer operation, an intensive indoor robotic dairy operation and a mixed cropping and birdseed business, which was currently undertaking a dairy conversion.

They also visited North Otago dairy farmer Rogan Borrie’s four properties near Oamaru.

Borrie, a fifth-generation farmer, completed Rabobank’s Farm Managers Programme in 2007.

He said it was a rewarding experience to share the developments and technology introduced on-farm.

“We showed the tour our new computerised irrigation scheme with pivot and fixed grid sprinklers that we have recently installed in order to reduce labour time and energy and improve water efficiency,” he said . .


ES requires consent for dairy farms

March 7, 2014

A plan change by Environment Southland means all new dairy farms will require resource consent:

Owners of all new dairy farms in Southland now have to apply for resource consent after a contentious plan change was approved by Environment Southland.

Plan Change 13 was notified nearly two years ago and trialled in the past year, with Environment Southland adopting it in a public-excluded council meeting yesterday.

Under the new rules, all new dairy farms need a resource consent before becoming operational.

Applicants require a conversion environmental plan, which includes a soil assessment, a nutrient management plan and a winter grazing plan.

This imposes additional fees on top of those already charged for water and discharge permits and could cost farmers about $1000 in total.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the rule would provide the council with a tool to meet the community’s concerns for water quality, while also meeting the council’s national obligations.

The new rules would help to ensure Southland’s water quality did not decline any further, she said. . .

ES is the first council to require consent for dairying.

Other councils could follow, though it would be sensible to wait and see whether the plan change works as it is intended to.

Few would argue with the intention to improve water quality but it will take some time to determine if this is the best way to achieve it.

 


Doing better environmentally and economically

January 22, 2014

The old adage that if you give a dog a bad name it will stick is unfortunately true.

Farming, and dairying in particular, has got a bad name for poor environmental performance even though most are doing all that’s required of them, or more.

Despite 5.7 dairy cattle for every man, woman and child in Southland, the region now boasts some of most environmentally compliant farmers in New Zealand. 

“The compliance monitoring results from Environment Southland, which came out before Christmas, was a real boost for our guys,” says Russell MacPherson, Federated Farmers Southland provincial president.

“It is not just us in the far south but this is a trend throughout New Zealand.  After catching talkback radio recently, the shame is that some people have been suckered in by a clever but increasingly redundant slogan. 

“I mean the Ministry for the Environment’s “River condition indicator Summary and key findings” must be the most non-reported study of 2013.  A 10-year review of water quality found, “of the parameters we [the MfE] monitor, all are either stable or improving at most monitored sites. Four of our parameters show stable or improving trends in 90% of sites”.

“Take the Mataura River, which received the regional award for the most improved river at the first New Zealand River Awards.  There are physical results proving that it is working and it goes to show how Southland’s farmers are hitting their straps environmentally.

“The majority of Southland’s 887 farming effluent discharge consent holders inspected by Environment Southland were fully compliant with their consent conditions.

“While we farm in what seemingly feels like a glass house, the fact is we are doing better each year environmentally and economically.

“In terms of ground and surface water, the vast majority of our farms are doing pretty well here as well. 

“Federated Farmers believes a new attitude shown by Environment Southland, to actively work alongside farmers like in Taranaki, is starting to pay off.  Farmers previously felt like they’d be belted for anything but we’re now seeing partnership and greater understanding.

Councils and farmers working together will achieve better results than if there’s an antagonistic attitude between them.

“The way town and country are coming together is also evidenced by the way the New River Estuary has galvanised Invercargill residents around storm and wastewater. 

“It will upset those who have made a career out of grievance but truth eventually cuts through spin.

“Perhaps that’s the nub of the issue we face as it’s all about perception, much like that Lincoln University survey from last year.  There’s what some people think we do and what we actually do.  Trying to connect the two is going to take time.

“That could start by having the same scrutiny our farms are put under extended to our local councils. 

“. . . there’s been three human sewerage spills within a month into Lake Wakatipu and the latest one closed a 200 metre stretch of beach right where our family, like many, swim and boat when on holiday.

“If town and country had the same level of scrutiny then the national conversation, I feel, would be much better,” Mr MacPherson concluded.

Poor environmental practices in one area doesn’t excuse it anywhere else and there’s no room for complacency about water quality in urban or rural areas.

Some farmers have been far too slow to get the message about their responsibility for water quality and act on it. But the majority are compliant and are working hard to ensure they stay that way.


Rural round-up

January 5, 2014

Dairy farm consent decision delayed – Bridget Railton:

A final decision on whether all new dairy farms will continue to require resource consent has been delayed another month.

Environment Southland’s plan change 13, which required all new dairy farms to obtain a resource consent before becoming operational, will now not be decided until next month.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the decision had been delayed because a key staff member involved in the plan change had become ill.

“It’s better to have some sort of continuity in the process.” . . .

Red meat sector ‘absolute challenge’ – Sally Rae:

Amid challenging times for New Zealand’s red meat industry, there have been changes in the guard at governance level recently at the country’s two largest co-operatives. Silver Fern Farms’ new chairman Rob Hewett speaks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Rob Hewett is well aware his new role is going to be an ”absolute challenge”.

Amid decreasing sheep numbers, calls for industry restructuring and his own co-operative’s unprofitability, the new chairman of Silver Fern Farms knows the road ahead is not going to be easy.

But the South Otago farmer is also optimistic about the future and excited to take on such a pivotal role in the industry. . .

Prince William to study agriculture at Cambridge University

Clearly worried that a 2:1 master’s degree in geography, a three-year career as a helicopter pilot and a great deal of gap year foreign travel might not quite equip him for running the 130,000 acres of land spread across 23 counties that make up the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince William is going back to college.

Almost three centuries after his ancestor George III was nicknamed Farmer George and mocked for his interest in agricultural improvement and his herd of pedigree sheep, William, second in line to the throne and heir to the Duchy, will be heading for Cambridge University next week to become a full-time student of agricultural management. . .

Celebrating wool and the success of a local lad in the industry

Creating demand for New Zealand wool is his passion. The enormous efforts of a local lad gone global needs to be celebrated, says Philippa Wright, CEO, Wright Wool and active supporter of the Campaign for Wool NZ.

Sitting on a wool chair at Wool House as a part of the recent Campaign for Wool event in London is Central Hawke’s Bay lad, Craig Smith, Business Development Director for International Wool Trader, HDawson. Smithy is son of Mark and Sue Smith, retired 3rd generation Hawke’s Bay farmers now living in Waipawa. . .

Wool outlook upbeat – Cara Jeffery:

CAUTIOUSLY positive seems to be the catchcry among wool industry commentators when it comes to forecasting what 2014 holds for the market.

In 2013, the Australian Wool Exchange Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) started the year at 1111c/kg and spent most the year above the 1000c/kg mark.

It sank to its lowest point in May at 966c/kg, just after it hit its highest point in April at 1145c/kg. . .


Environmental tax based on perception

May 30, 2013

Federated Farmers says Environment Southland’s plan to increase the differential rate on dairy land use makes no sense:

“It is our view that you are simply imposing an environmental tax on one land use in Southland based entirely on perception,” said Russell McPherson, Southland provincial president.

“Dairy farms comprise only 3.6 percent of the total number of rating units yet, if this proposal goes ahead, will be paying 41 percent of the property value based general rates.

“In total, the dairy sector is already paying their fair share for what are Environment Southland’s public good resource management responsibilities, but it is specifically and solely targeted through the differential as if it was failing to meet its obligations. That could not be further from the truth.

“Taken at face value the dairy differential indicates that if there was no dairying in the region then there would be no water quality issues. Clearly, this is not the case. Nor is it the case that the dairy sector is the only sector which needs to do better to address water quality.

Dairying can lead to a deterioration in water quality but it doesn’t always and it certainly isn’t the only culprit.

“If the differential is nothing about recognising the costs attributed to ES work and a blatant environmental tax then the differential does not recognise or incentivise individual farmer behaviour. It is like handing a speeding ticket to every driver just for getting in the car. It is simply a tax for being a dairy farmer.

A general tax punishes those farmers who are doing all they can to protect waterways and gives no incentive for anyone else to do any better.

“If you are trying to put dairying in Southland on the back foot and alienate farmers then you are on the right track. You will not engage at a farm level with dairy farmers during any response to the NPS for freshwater by telling them they have to pay you to tell them what to do.

“The dairy differential detracts from the goodwill felt towards council from the very dairy farmers council should be supporting – the dairy farmers who are doing things the right way and leading environmental on farm best practice though massive investment and innovation.

“Council’s decision on whether or not to increase the costs allocated to the dairy sector through the dairy differential this year is actually a decision on how it perceives the sector and how water quality issues in Southland will be addressed.

“If the intention is to develop a partnership approach to identifying the mechanisms to best address resource management issues, then the dairy differential is a bad idea.

“If the intention is to recognise and incentivise good practice, then the dairy differential is a bad idea.

“If the intention is to require all sectors of the community to do a better job of resource management then the dairy differential, is a bad idea.

“If the differential is an attempt to identify a scapegoat, distance this council from a key sector in the region and absolve all other resource management users from responsibility, then the dairy differential is a good step,” Mr McPherson concluded.

The council should be developing policies which improve water quality and incentivise good practice.

Increasing the dairy differential isn’t the way to do it.


Only just confident

January 24, 2013

Environment Southland chair Ali Timms has survived a vote of confidence which was called after she made a prank call to Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt on a radio show.

The vote was 7-5, which included her own vote.

That means the council is split 6-5 on her suitability as chair which means the council is only just confident.


Another hoax call gone wrong

December 13, 2012

In a week when the news is full of the fallout from Australian DJs hoax call to a hospital you’d think everyone would think twice before pretending to be someone they weren’t.

Not Environment Southland chair Ali Timms.

Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms is on leave following an “unacceptable lapse of judgement”. . .

. . .  acting chairman Nicol Horrell has issued the following statement: “Councillors have unanimously expressed our extreme disapproval of the unacceptable lapse of judgement shown by Chairman Ali Timms in taking part in the Invercargill City Council’s televised talkback programme under an assumed name last week.

“Councillors have accepted Cr Timms’ application for six weeks leave of absence, effective immediately. We expect to hold an Extraordinary meeting of Council to consider the Council’s Chairmanship in late January.”

This might speak volumes about the relationship between the regional and city councils but it doesn’t reflect well on Timms either.

We all have lapses of judgement but fortunately for most of us, we’re not public figures and they happen in private.


Environment Southland audit

November 6, 2012

Environment Southland is undergoing an independent legal audit of its compliance processes:

Chief Executive Rob Phillips said today that in light of recent allegations in the media, it was essential that there was public confidence that all of the Council’s regulatory practices were sound, and that the processes for taking compliance action were robust.

“Prosecutions are an essential part of our compliance activity, particularly where there has been a serious breach of the law, a regulation or a rule,” Mr Phillips said. “Everyone needs to be confident that compliance action is based on sound processes that have been carried out with integrity.” . . .

And what were those allegations in the media?

The move follows stories in the The Southland Times involving two separate incidents – one surrounding allegations that Environment Southland compliance officer Chris McMillan altered a statement from police after a stock truck sting, and the other where senior Invercargill lawyer Rex Chapman told The Times Mr McMillan effectively acknowledged under cross examination in court the council’s original written case against a farm owner and manager it was prosecuting contained statements that were not true.

Regional councils act as environmental police and wield wide-ranging powers.

Their processes and staff must be above reproach.

 

 

 

 

 


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