Rural round-up

February 18, 2019

New foot and mouth threat to New Zealand – Annette Scott:

An emergency all-agriculture meeting to discuss tighter border controls is being considered after Australian authorities seized imported meat containing foot and mouth disease and African swine fever.

“There’s some pretty sinister things coming in (to Australia) and with New Zealand tourism following similar patterns this is a real wake up call for the industry and needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness by our own border agencies,” NZ Pork chairman Eric Roy said.

“The discovery of FMD in the latest samples of products found in Australia should be of particular concern for anyone in the livestock sector. . .

Houses, trees swallow up land – Neal Wallace:

The area of land devoted to agricultural production fell by almost a million hectares or 7% in the decade to 2012 and will fall further as new Government policies encourage forest planting.

According to the Ministry for the Environment report, Our Land – Land Use Statistics 2018, most of that decline was caused by tenure review of South Island pastoral leases, subdivision and lifestyle blocks.

But between 1996 and 2012 the main shift in land cover was from exotic grassland and shrubland to exotic forest followed by a 10% increase in New Zealand’s urban area, which reached 230,000ha.

Driven by the population growing from 3.7 million to 4.4m, urban areas in Auckland grew by 4200ha, Waikato 4000ha and Canterbury 3800ha. . .

Life story: Veteran Canterbury stockman John O’Carroll a community hero– Tom Kitchin:

 John O’Carroll​ worked on his farm until his early 90s, and even then he’d never say he had retired.

O’Carroll​ was not only one of the best known stockmen in North Canterbury, he was one of the last surviving World War II veterans in the district and put in years of community volunteer work.

He died on January 15, aged 98. . . 

Molesworth Station: What’s next for our biggest farm? – Pat Deavoll:

The view from the top of Ward Pass is sublime. To the north lie the rolling downs surrounding the Molesworth Station homestead, backed by the drama of the Inland Kaikoura Range. This culminates in the summit of 2885-metre Mount Tapuaenuku.

To the south, the Acheron River stretches into the distance hemmed by arid scree-capped peaks and golden tussock flats. The Acheron Road winds its way across the flats, and far away, the slow crawling dot of a 4WD moves up the gravel road, dwarfed by the landscape that surrounds it.

This landscape belongs to 180,000 hectare Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest farm, leased and farmed by Landcorp and managed by the Department of Conservation on behalf of the Crown. It belongs to all New Zealanders and its fate is up for grabs.  . .

Possum cull planned after cattle catch TB near Dunedin :

Possum control will be carried out near Dunedin next month, after two cattle herds in the Flagstaff area tested positive for Bovine tuberculosis.

Bovine TB can cause weight loss and death in cattle and deer herds.

Possums are the main way the disease is spread, and humans can be at risk if they drink raw milk from an infected cow. . .

No need to panic over Brexit – Alan Barber:

In spite of the fast approaching deadline of 29th March, when the UK is due to leave the EU, not to mention the latest shipment date able to meet that deadline, there may be no need to get too concerned. There is a huge amount of media-inspired speculation about the potentially dire consequences of Prime Minister May’s inability to achieve an improvement of the exit terms leading to a No Deal Brexit, but word from Britain suggests this is highly unlikely. After all, both the EU and the British Parliament have specifically ruled out leaving without a deal.

The most likely short term outcome will be an extension of current membership terms under Article 50 which would give time for legislation to be passed either in the improbable event May succeeds in obtaining a new deal acceptable to her own parliament or further negotiation is required to reach a final agreement. . . 


Benefits of a bad lambing

November 12, 2018

When then-Awarua MP Eric Roy was first in parliament he was asked what it was like.

He replied, there are too many people up there who hadn’t had a bad lambing.

That was back in 1993.  There are even more without that experience now:

About 10% of national politicians have had agribusiness careers but increasingly members of Parliament are being drawn from careers in the public or Parliamentary services.

A study by Wellington public relations company Blackland PR found 11 of Parliament’s 121 MPs have experience working in the agricultural sector, nine of them from National, one from Labour and one from New Zealand First.

No Green Party MPs have worked in the rural sector.

The company’s director Mark Blackham said 23% of MPs had worked in business or commerce and 19% in central government.

A quarter of Labour MPs and 20% of those from National worked in the public service or in Parliament before being elected.

A third of all MPs had no definable career but an increasing number were heavily involved in activism or worked for non-government organisations, especially among the Green Party ranks, before entering Parliament.

Agriculture is the one career that differentiates party roots.

“Agriculture is the only major economic sector where experience differs between political parties,” he said. . . 

Fewer MPs with an agribusiness or wider rural background is partly a result of MMP. Electorates are bigger in area and fewer in number. One rural MP now services an area that would have had at least two under FPP and list MPs are almost all based in cities.

It is also partly a result of fewer people with any business backgrounds and wider life experience entering parliament and more people whose experience is limited to employment by local or central government and/or in activism.

It’s not only farmers who face bad lambings in a figurative sense. But parliament now has more people with less, if any, experience, employing other people; more who have not had to make decisions which impact on their own and other people’s livelihoods and fewer who have run anything where their own money was at risk.

Parliament is generally more representative when it comes to gender and ethnicity but less representative of people with work and life experience in which they’ve not only faced bad lambings, whether literally or figuratively,  but learned from and become better people as a result of them.

MPs are supposed to represent people and a parliament that is representative of the population ought to do that better.

But MPs are also in parliament to make laws and I’d have more confidence in laws made by people who’ve been through bad lambings – literal or figurative –  than those whose work experience has been confined to bureaucracy or activism.


Rural round-up

August 27, 2018

Plenty of advice for Fonterra’s bosses – but are our expectations too high? – Point of Order:

Dairy farmers  should be pleased with the  advice  liberally and freely tendered to Fonterra in the wake of the co-op’s board deciding to halt its international  search for a  new  CEO and instead,  with an  interim CEO,  Miles Hurrell, “pause and  assess  the  way   ahead”.

Fran  O’Sullivan,  Head of Business at NZME,  which publishes the  NZ  Herald, says appointing an interim chief executive to run New Zealand’s largest company is an admission of failure that should force Fonterra’s board to look hard at its own performance.  And she  concludes: . . 

Brexit opportunity: just don’t call it another free trade agreement – Point of Order:

LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Does New Zealand’s government understand the opportunity which Brexit presents? Are they and their advisers working tirelessly to realise it?

OK, difficult questions, not least because there are no binding decisions on the shape or timing of Brexit and these are likely to come in a final rush. But the underlying position is so positive that it would be a tremendous shame if New Zealand’s policy was not being shaped to take advantage of it.

Given the scorn critics are pouring on Britain’s post-Brexit trade prospects, the UK really needs an eye-catching trade deal to kick in on leaving. It would be a political coup, more than an economic one. The partner which Britain’s politicians think will deliver this reliably and quickly should get the most attention and the best terms. . .

Let’s open the gate to our young people:

The Primary ITO is challenging schools, school leavers and farmers to open the farm, garden, or orchard gate as this year’s “Got a Trade? Got it Made!” week highlights the huge potential in industry training for a primary sector career.

The Primary ITO (industry training organisation) leads the training in New Zealand’s largest export sector. It is taking part in this year’s “Got A Trade? Got It Made!” week to showcase the advantages of tertiary on-the-job education and to connect young New Zealanders to real employers in the primary industries. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Major Biocontrol Milestone:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision allowing the release of a tiny Samurai wasp into New Zealand, if ever there was an incursion of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

BMSB Council Chair Alan Pollard applauded the outcome as a major milestone against one of the greatest threats to New Zealand’s horticultural industry and urban communities.

“The industry greatly appreciates the positive decision and acknowledges the consideration given by the EPA to the significant number of submissions made on the application. . . 

Horticulture levy votes successful:

Horticulture groups seeking levy renewals have all had votes of confidence from growers to continue the work of the industry good organisations Horticulture New Zealand, TomatoesNZ, Vegetables New Zealand, Process Vegetables New Zealand, and Onions New Zealand.

The individual groups’ levy referendums closed on 13 August and independent vote counting shows resounding support. The levy orders come up for renewal every six years. . . 

New programme to foster high value goat milk infant formula industry:

A new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme launched today has its sights on growing a sustainable, high value goat milk infant formula industry in New Zealand.

Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ) is a five-year, $29.65 million PGP programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd.

The end goals include improving the health and wellbeing of families, delivering a range of benefits such as growing research and farming capability, and increasing export revenue across the New Zealand dairy goat milk industry to $400 million per annum by 2023. . . 

Honey goes hi-tech: new tool has industry buzzing:

With New Zealand’s annual honey exports currently valued at $300 million and growing, a new web-based honey blending tool is set to save honey distributors significant amounts of time and money.

The Honey Blending Tool, developed by a team of scientists and data analysts at Hill Laboratories, allows honey distributors with large inventories to easily blend individual honeys to form a target blend to meet specific sales and export criteria.

New Zealand produces around 15,000 – 20,000 tonnes of honey each year. Most honey bought from a supermarket is blended honey. . . 

Decades of rural experience for new NZ Pork Chair:

NZ Pork has appointed former Southland MP Eric Roy as Chair of a new board of directors, as the industry-good body positions itself to face key challenges for New Zealand’s commercial pig farming industry.

Mr Roy, who has spent many decades working in the rural sector, was a six-term MP for the Awarua and Invercargill seats. During his time in Parliament, Mr Roy was a select committee chair of the Primary Production Select Committee, chairing the rewrite of New Zealand’s fisheries laws in what was a world first in sustainable management. . . 

Sheepmeat and beef levies to increase:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Board has decided to proceed with the proposed increase in the sheepmeat and beef levies following significant support from farmers.

From 1 October 2018 the levy for sheepmeat will increase 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head. This is 0.4 per cent of the average slaughter value for prime steer/heifer, 0.7 per cent cull dairy cow, 0.7 per cent of lamb, and 1.1 per cent of mutton over the last three years. . . 

2018 Tonnellerie De Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year announced:

Marlborough’s Greg Lane was crowned the 2018 Tonnellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year in Auckland last night.

Lane, who is the brand winemaker for Grove Mill fought off some tough competition from three other young winemakers, representing both the North and South Island.

Runner up was Kelly Stuart, Assistant Winemaker for Cloudy Bay based in Marlborough.

Into its fourth year, the competition aims to promote the skills of the next generation of winemakers emerging in New Zealand. The four contestants had already battled it out in either the North or South Island regional finals, prior to taking part in yesterday’s final. . . 

10 things only a farmer’s wife would know – Emma Smith:

To some, being a farmer’s wife or partner sounds an idyllic lifestyle. A beautiful farmhouse to live in complete with Aga, rolling landscapes to admire and cute animals to nurture.

In today’s world women are at the forefront of managing farm enterprises and are sometimes doing so singlehandily.

The reality is a farmer’s other half needs to be patient, know the “lingo” and be the queen of multitasking. . . 


Rural round-up

May 5, 2018

Save water and cut effluent – Richard Rennie:

A partnership between Ravensdown and Lincoln University has unveiled technology its creators believe will reduce farm effluent loads significantly while also saving billions of litres of fresh water.

ClearTech, launched this week, has taken the dairy industry’s two biggest issues, effluent losses and water consumption and dealt with both through a combination of simple water purification principles, managed by a computerised controller.

ClearTech puts a coagulant into the effluent when a farm dairy yard is hosed down. It causes the effluent particles to cluster together and sink, leaving most of the water clear and usable.

Ravensdown effluent technology manager Jamie Thompson said there are challenges to getting effluent to clot given the variable pH, turbidity and content of the waste on any given day. . . 

Dairying unexpected but welcome career choice – Nicole Sharp:

Southland-Otago Dairy Manager of the Year Jaime McCrostie talks at the recent regional field day at the Vallelys’ property, near Gore, about her journey in the dairy sector.

Jaime McCrostie never thought she would end up dairy farming.

She grew up on a sheep farm and it was her neighbour who taught her how to milk cows.

She has travelled all over the world and worked in a range of industries, but always seems to come back to the dairy industry. . . 

MediaWorks to broadcast Grand Final of 50th FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

A new deal will see MediaWorks broadcast New Zealand’s longest running agricultural contest the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Under the agreement, an edited version of the 50th Grand Final of the iconic contest will be broadcast on ThreeNow.

ThreeNow is MediaWorks’ free video on-demand streaming service available on smart TVs and mobile devices.

MediaWorks’ Head of Rural, Nick Fisher, said the broadcaster is proud to be partnering with NZ Young Farmers to produce the programme. . . 

Tribute paid upon receiving award – Pam Jones:

An Alexandra man has received national recognition for his services to irrigation in Central Otago, but has paid tribute to the work of “two extraordinary women” as well.

Gavin Dann was one of two recipients of a 2018 Ron Cocks Award from Irrigation New Zealand during its conference in Alexandra recently, for his leadership of the Last Chance Irrigation Company (LCIC) and his work to establish a community drinking water supply.

Mr Dann had been the “driving force” behind a number of initiatives to improve the Last Chance company’s operations, supporting the scheme for more than 40 years, Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop said. . . 

 

Landcorp board gets a refresh – Neal Wallace:

Former Landcorp chairwoman Traci Houpapa was available for reappointment but missed out because the shareholding ministers wanted to refresh the state-owned enterprise’s board, she says.

Her eight-year term on the board, of which three were as chairwoman, has come to an end, along with three other directors, Nikki Davies-Colley, Pauline Lockett and Eric Roy.

Houpapa accepted her appointment was at the behest of the Ministers of State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters and Finance Grant Robertson.

The newly appointed directors are Nigel Atherfold, Hayley Gourley and Belinda Storey.

She said the Landcorp she joined eight years ago was very different to the one she has just left, with a different strategy, focus and operating model. . . 

 

Regional fuel tax will add to the cost of food:

Regional fuel tax legislation, as it stands, is likely to add costs to fresh fruit and vegetables for consumers.

Today, Horticulture New Zealand spoke to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee about its written submission on the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill, that is endorsed and supported by a further 18 organisations.

“While in principle, we agree with measures to reduce road congestion in Auckland, we believe there are un-intended consequences of the Bill as it stands; these could include increases to the prices of healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. . .  . .

Bull finishing farm steered towards a sale:

One of Northland’s most substantial bull finishing farms has been placed on the market for sale.

The 400-hectare property is located on the western outskirts of the township of Kawakawa in the Mid-North, and is held over 24 individual titles in three blocks. The farm’s topography consists of 268 hectares of rolling to medium-contour grazing paddocks, and 108 hectares of flat land – allowing for tractor-access to 95 percent of the property.

The farm also contains 24 hectares of mature pruned pine trees ready for harvesting, and estimated to be worth in the region of $360,000. The freehold farm has been owned by three generations of the Cookson family. . . 

Delegat has record 2018 harvest, driven by increase in NZ grapes – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Delegat Group, New Zealand’s largest listed winemaker, says it had a record harvest this year, driven by an increase in New Zealand grapes, while its Australian harvest fell.

The Auckland-based company said the 2018 harvest rose to a record 40,059 tonnes, as grapes collected in New Zealand rose 10 percent to 38,012 tonnes. The Australia harvest for Barossa Valley Estate fell to 2,047 tonnes from 2,760 in 2017.

“The 2018 vintage has delivered excellent quality in all regions,” managing director Graeme Lord said in the statement. . . 


New Year Honours

December 31, 2014

 

Two new Dames and eight new Knights are among the many people who have been awarded New Year Honours.

Former Minister and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is one of the new Dames and a worthy recipient of the honour.

She is a woman of principle who understood the importance of being in government to make a difference rather than just being in parliament to make a fuss.

In her valedictory speech she said:

. . . It is the first time in our history and of the world that an indigenous political party has been truly part of government in a coalition arrangement. It has been exciting, liberating, invigorating, inspiring, and occasionally challenging as well.

We have had a very respectful, honest and upfront relationship with John Key and Bill English – a relationship that has allowed both of us to be direct, acknowledging our different constituencies and agreeing to disagree.

It is been a relationship based on mutual co-operation. We are pleased with what we have achieved, we are also proud of what we managed to change or stop.

I have been driven by a passion, determination, desire and as Bill English would say a stubborn resolve to make a difference. I always wanted us to be in a relationship where what we say matters. To be able to make a difference, not just a noise. To be part of the solution, not limited to picking the problems apart.

While we were unable to achieve all the aspirations of our people, I know we have made a difference in the lives of whānau whatever their circumstances, and in that respect I leave with a feeling of peace that we have always tried to do our best, to do whatever it takes to fly. . .

 

(You can watch her speech on YouTube).

Another former MP to be honoured is Eric Roy who has been awarded a QSO.

This recognises not only his work as an MP over nearly 20 years but all he has done, and will continue to do for the community and New Zealand.

I’ve known Eric for more than 30 years. His community service includes Volunteer Service Abroad, Young Farmers (of which he was both National and World president and is still a patron), school and sports bodies, the church, Rotary and cancer support.

The latter not only includes fundraising and other public activity but a lot of private work, using his experience as a survivor of cancer to help others who are fighting it.

He says the honour recognises the sacrifices his family has made:

. . . It’s something that the family can celebrate.

”And that’s why I was very happy to accept it, noting that it’s not just me who’s made the contribution, it’s been the family.” . . .

This is often the case with community service and especially with politics.

 


Good people

July 31, 2014

Yesterday I was in parliament’s public gallery for six valedictory speeches.

National MPs Shane Ardern, Phil Heatley, Paul Hutchison, Eric Roy and Tony Ryall, and Labour’s Ross Robertson delivered their reflections on their time in parliament.

All were very different but there was one similarity – all had come to parliament, motivated by their desire to serve their constituents and improve their country.

Politicians in general are often derided. Sometimes individuals deserve that derision.

But listening to all the speeches yesterday reminded me that most are good people and most do good work, some in smaller ways, others are able to achieve something bigger.

It also reminded me that there is a lot of common ground on ultimate goals. The divisions are often much less about where we’re going and far more about how to get there.


“Typical MP looks male”

July 29, 2014

Rob Salmond thinks he knows why National has more male candidates:

. . . National leaves everything to its local branch, to simply vote up the candidate they like. They vote in complete isolation from the broader needs of the party – they focus only on their area.

A simple vote in a single seat election like this (the “seat” here is the right to stand for National in a particular electorate) is well known to advantage males. It is a lowest common denominator effect, where a male candidate – by virtue of entrenched mental images of what a “typical” MP look like – is more likely to be the one that the fewest people object to. As a psychological level, candidates who in any way represent a change to the status quo face an uphill battle in a single-seat election, as people who have no reason to object to the status quo (through either disinterest or design) feel some level of threat. . .

What utter tosh.

How could anyone think a typical MP looks male in the 21st century?

We’ve had two women Prime Ministers, several other female co-leaders, lots of women ministers and MPs. We’ve also had and have MPs of both genders of a variety of ethnicities.

If there ever was a typical MP look-alike there is no longer.

If Salmond had looked at the two women candidates selected by National electorates this year he’d realise how silly his supposition is:

Sarah Dowie who won the Invercargill selection could hardly look less like sitting MP Eric Roy:

shoes 2

Taranaki King Country  candidate Barbara Kuriger looks very different from retiring MP Shane Adern.

Both women were selected in a transparent and democratic process by members in the electorate.

And while both look very different from the men they are working very hard to replace they do share their National Party values, commitment to their electorates and strong desire to serve them well.

The problem with gender balance is not National’s fair and democratic selection process.

As a party insider I can say unequivocally that there is no preconceived notion of any typical MP look-alike among members. In any selections I’ve been involved in, delegates didn’t care about gender they were seeking to get the best people for the job.

One reason other parties have a better gender balance is that they have more list MPs.

Good list MPs work hard. But electorate MPs have less choice about the demands on their time and energy and women who want a more active role in parenting can find it too difficult to balance them both.

Parliament and life as an MP aren’t family-friendly.

Improving that would do more to help attract more women than reducing democracy within the National Party.


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