Rural round-up

21/03/2021

B+LNZ defend rules approach – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is defending its dealings with the Government in the face of farmers claiming they are not being hard-nosed enough.

There was an obvious undercurrent from many of the 150 farmers at this week’s B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill that their sector leaders and representatives are not being publicly assertive enough in criticising policy.

Wyndham farmer Bruce Robertson told the meeting the implications for his farm of the intensive winter grazing provisions were huge and he questioned whether bodies like B+LNZ have emphasised the impact of such policy on farm businesses.

Other farmers raised similar concerns, which were echoed by B+LNZ Southern South Island farmer council chair Bill McCall when wrapping up the meeting. . .

Extra time will enable development of practical winter grazing solutions:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Government has taken the time to listen to and understand the practical difficulties that accompanied the Essential Freshwater rules on winter grazing.

“In announcing tonight a temporary delay until 1 May 2022 of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect, Environment Minister David Parker has recognised workability issues need to be sorted, and that extra time is vital to ensure we get this right,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“This is not kicking for touch. The Minister has accepted a commitment from regional councils and the farming sector to use this time to develop, test and deploy an IWG module and practices that will ultimately be a part of a certified freshwater farm plan.”

There is universal recognition that the Essential Freshwater national rules passed in August last year have a number of unworkable parts. The parts that relate to the regulation of intensive winter grazing were one of the first ones to take effect and therefore needed urgent attention. . .

Tropical fruit, coffee crops potential for winterless north :

A Northland family is preparing to harvest the country’s first ever commercial pineapple crop – and they are looking for more New Zealanders to grow the golden fruit and supply the country.

Linda and Owen Schafli moved to Whangārei from Hamilton 10 years ago with plans to grow tropical fruit, specifically bananas and pineapples.

Their vision was initially greeted by laughter from those they told, with not many people convinced it would work.

“Because it’s never been done before here in New Zealand, people thought it could never be done,” Linda said. . . 

2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aim to continue to grow their farming business while protecting the environment through sustainable farming.

Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand in Wigram on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Maria Alvarez, who was named the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Mattes Groenendijk, the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Gamages say the networking, strength and weakness identification and recognition they gain through the Awards process were all motivating factors to enter again. Dinuka was placed third in the 2016 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager category. . .

2021 West Coast/Top of South Island Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

First-time entrants who embrace a sustainable version of farming have been announced as major winners in the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards. 

Mark Roberts and Sian Madden were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Rachael Lind, who was named the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Smithers, the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mark and Sian are contract milkers and 20% share milkers on Stu and Jan Moir’s (Moir Farms Ltd) 215ha and 377ha Reefton farms milking 1300 cows across the two properties. They won $6,500 in prizes and three merit awards.

“We have a genuine passion for the dairy industry and are committed to farming sustainably and showing others how we do this for future generations.” . .

E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri summit set to spark innovation across the food and fibre sector:

Boma New Zealand is proud to present E Tipu 2021 | The Boma NZ Agri Summit, the biggest food and fibre event of the year featuring remarkable local and global guest speakers at the forefront of the industry.

Held on May 11–12 at the Christchurch Town Hall, E Tipu will see a mass gathering of both local and international thought-leaders, game-changers, business operators and like-minded attendees from the primary sector.

Amongst the confirmed guest speakers will be prominent business leader and respected CEO Paul Polman. Formerly CEO of Unilever, Paul is the Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, an organisation that works with CEOs who are building their companies into beacons of sustainable business and leveraging their collective power to drive change on tipping points in their industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

01/12/2020

Over 200 farmers challenge low slope maps – Neal Wallace:

More than 230 farmers have raised issues with the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) over the accuracy of its low-slope maps.

The online maps, part of the Essential Freshwater Policy, identify slopes of 10 degrees or less for the purposes of stock exclusion and permitted intensive winter grazing.

But the MfE maps have been roundly criticised for being inaccurate.

In response to a question from Farmers Weekly, a Ministry statement says around 200 people have filled out the online form and another 30 have sent information via email. . .

Beech trees herald huge eco venture – Guy Williams:

It is billed as New Zealand’s largest commercially funded native reforestation project. Two years ago, the Otago Daily Times unveiled Treespace Queenstown Ltd’s plans to reforest a high country farm with a wilding tree problem. Two months ago, the planting of beech trees on Mt Dewar Station began. Reporter Guy Williams talks to the man behind the project.

Drive the road along the foot of Coronet Peak between Arrowtown and Queenstown, look up at the mountainside above the skifield’s access road and you will see clusters of hundreds of plastic green sleeves.

Each one is protecting a precious mountain beech tree.

They are the first tangible sign of a long-term project to re-cloak the 1768ha former farm with 140,000 beech trees . . 

Alexandra woman elected to lead RWNZ – Sally Rae:

Challenging, exciting, daunting, motivating and humbling.

That is how Alexandra woman Gill Naylor described her feelings on recently being elected national president of Rural Women New Zealand, an organisation she said had to meet the needs of the “women of today”.

Mrs Naylor has been a member of the Cambrian St Bathans branch of RWNZ for more than 30 years.

Joining Women’s Division Federated Farmers (as it was known before a name change in the late 1990s) was a natural progression for the mother of three, having been involved with the likes of Plunket and play group. . . 

Up to 60 overseas shearers to be granted border exemptionsl – Maja Burry:

Up to 60 overseas shearers will be allowed to enter the country between January and March to help fill a gap in the local workforce.

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association (NZSCA) told the government in July that keeping shearers out because of Covid-19 travel restrictions could harm farmers’ incomes and cause animal welfare issues for unshorn sheep wilting in the summer heat.

There were further talks this month, and on Friday Immigration New Zealand said border exemptions had been granted for up to 60 shearers to enter the country between January and March.

Conditions include that they have to have at least two years’ experience and be contracted by an approved NZSCA employer. . . 

Fish and Game and Federated Farmers try to find some common ground – Eva Corlet:

Fish and Game and Federated Farmers have met up for a ‘goodwill’ meeting in an effort to work better together.

The two organisations have regularly clashed in the past over issues of dairy farming, freshwater and sustainability.

But, six members of the NZ Fish & Game Council met with their counterparts from Federated Farmers on 22 November, for a “cordial get-together”.

The groups discussed issues such as access, catchment groups, wetlands and connecting farmers with fishers and hunters. . . 

 Sailors Cutting to Benmore trail development:

The long awaited ‘missing link’ trail section from the Sailors Cutting camping ground through to Benmore Dam is due for opening on December 18th. Last week, the A2O project team collectively rode the trail to seek group consensus on safety and recommended duration.

Make no mistake – this section will be another real highlight of the A2O! At 16kms in length, its likely to take 3-4 hours of riding – when you are not racing and perhaps wanting to take time out to have a swim and relax a bit. The ride will feel remote – because it is! Cell phone coverage probably shouldn’t be relied on, so be self contained and ready. Most importantly, be prepared to relax & enjoy, and smell the roses if you can find any.

Starting the trail from the campground, the trail is wide and accommodating. For the first 4kms, it’s wide enough to ride two abreast as the trail climbs up to the low saddle above the Bach bay – and then the easy cycle down to the lakefront. Eventually the trail narrows for the 4-5km middle section and riding becomes single file, to accommodate two way traffic.

The many bays just invite a stop and a swim, and the 30m span of the bridge will excite many. From here, riders regain the wider 4WD track on the Benmore section, which gradually climbs and climbs to the saddle above Benmore dam and Otematata. . .


Rural round-up

01/11/2019

Why low morale in a good season? – Peter Burke:

Low morale and uncertainty in the dairy industry appear to be overshadowing the positive outlook for the sector.

The latest ANZ Agri Focus reports a huge range of positives for the sector, yet the bank’s agricultural economist, Susan Kilsby, says dairy farmer confidence is the lowest they have seen in more than 20 years.

The biggest thing impacting farmer confidence is the uncertainty about Government regulations on environmental legislation, she says.  . .

Good farmers must change too -Annette Scott:

Freshwater and climate will be the big drivers of change in balancing competing interests and farmers are not the bad ones in the equation, Ecologic Foundation chief executive Guy Salmon says.

The problem is not that farmers are bad, Salmon told the Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum at Lincoln University.

“It is the institutes and incentives they face that are not the right ones.

“Yes, we need to find new ways of using land, water and greenhouse gas.

“My core argument here is farmers are grounded in this type of thing, they have always had values and bottom lines. They could be a model in the new way of NZ we are trying to form.” . .

Rules to add costs to councils – Neal Wallace:

Regional councils face higher costs, increased staffing needs and delays in implementing water plans because of the Government’s Essential Freshwater policy proposals, they warn.

While there is uncertainty about the effects until the proposed national policy statement freshwater standards are finalised, some councils say the new standard should be incorporated as plans are reviewed but others face long and involved processes.

Six regional councils approached said they face significant costs to plans and need more staff. . .

Carbon absorption on your farm :

New Zealand farmers can now estimate how much carbon their tree blocks are sequestering.

This follows a new addition to OverseerFM. The carbon stock tool in OverseerFM uses data from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Carbon Look-up Tables to estimate the carbon sequestration potential for existing and future tree blocks on a farm.

The new tool adds to OverseerFM’s existing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analysis tool, which models the farm’s biological emissions (methane, nitrous oxide) and carbon dioxide as well asproduct footprint. . .

Cubbie Station tours Murray-Darling councillors through its controversial cotton holding to show there’s no water – Lydia Burton and Nathan Morris :

A controversial Queensland cotton producer has opened its gates to Murray-Darling Basin councils in an attempt to turnaround its poor reputation among drought-ravaged communities.

Cubbie Station — Australia’s largest cotton farm based in south-west Queensland — has come under pressure in recent years over its water use and impacts downstream.

Cubbie CEO Paul Brimblecombe said the tour allowed local government representatives from all Basin states to see the station and the drought for themselves.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to get out on the ground and put the full story in front of them,” he said. . .

Only a small % of what cattle eat is grain, 86% comes from materials humans don’t eat – Lauren Stine:

The plant-based industry wants you to believe that crops, like soy, corn, and barley, are mostly being fed to livestock, but according to the United Nations FAO, grain makes up only 13% of global livestock feed.

Only 13% of global animal feed (all animals for food, including chickens, pigs and cattle) is comprised of grain crops, according to United Nations FAO research, and only 32% of overall global grain production in 2010 was used to feed livestock.

A staggering 86% of global livestock feed consists of materials that we cannot digest as humans, like crop residues including stover and sugarcane tops. Pigs and chickens are also monogastrics (like humans) and cannot digest these products either. However, ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats can safely consume these materials and turn them into nutrient-dense protein for humans.  . .


NZ can’t afford $6b/year

31/10/2019

The government’s Essential Freshwater proposal would cost far more than the country can afford:

Economic modelling by DairyNZ shows the proposed Essential Freshwater package could significantly harm New Zealand’s dairy sector and the wider national economy – by 2050, costing $6 billion per year. . .

DairyNZ initiated three studies into the potential economic effects of the Essential Freshwater proposals, two are independent and all three have been peer-reviewed.

The economic studies are supported by additional technical research by DairyNZ which analyses the likely water quality improvements. DairyNZ’s full submission will be released by end of day Thursday, October 31.

“The economic modelling shows us that the proposed Essential Freshwater policy package is one of the largest economic challenges posed to the dairy sector in a generation – its full effect could lead to a fall in our GDP of $6 billion by 2050, without even adding additional costs related to climate change,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

The proposals focus only on the environmental leg of the sustainability stool and ignore the economic and social ones.

“But what is really crucial is that we believe other options are available to improve and strengthen the protection of ecosystem health and we will be outlining these in our full submission.

“The proposed freshwater changes would result in significant declines in milk production and is therefore a serious threat to the international competitiveness of New Zealand’s dairy sector.

“However, water quality and emissions gains can still be made with less stringent reforms, at a lesser cost to the New Zealand economy. Farmers care deeply about the environment and have been doing their bit to protect the environment and our waterways for some time,” said Dr Mackle.

This is the water farming families drink and use for recreation. It is in our interests to protect and enhance its quality.

“They are absolutely onboard with continuing to play their part in improving our waterways, however stringent changes cannot be at the detriment of farming’s future and the communities they support. We need to approach this carefully, balancing environment and economy – we can achieve both goals by working closely together on this issue.

“The economic analysis shows potential significant impact. By 2050, total milk production is forecast to fall by 24 percent and all national exports by 5.2 percent or $8.1 billion.”

Tax revenue from dairy is also forecast to more than halve by 2050, with an annual loss of $0.54 billion at the national level. . .

The forecast from the independent Sense Partners showed an extra  $1 billion loss  and another 4 percent reduction in milk production.

Where would that money come from if it didn’t come from dairying?

The more moderate freshwater reforms, in isolation, are not expected to have the same degree of economic impact.

“Four scenarios were modelled and scenarios one and two, which include actions around fencing, farm plans, capital expenditure, consented stand-off pads and nitrogen caps in priority catchments, had less financial impact for farmers and therefore the economy,” said Dr Mackle.

“In contrast, the consideration of proposed nutrient limits under scenario three was forecast to impose a significant financial burden on the dairy sector. Research by DairyNZ also shows that these limits – broadscale introduction of phosphorus and nitrogen leaching reductions in monitored catchments – are based on overly simplistic relationships and not supported by robust science.

“It is under these more stringent reforms that dairy will struggle to contribute as significantly to the national economy, as it does now.” . . .

The flow-effects would spread from farms to rural communities and beyond.

Southland, Taranaki, Marlborough and West Coast are likely to be most negatively affected. By 2050, GDP could fall in Southland by up to 3.6 percent; Taranaki by up to 2.9 percent; Marlborough by up to 3.2 percent and West Coast by up to 2.9 percent. Waikato would also be significantly affected.

“The proposed changes potentially compromise the vitality of regional communities, due to the importance of processing jobs as well as farm profits and expenses being a key source of revenue for other businesses,” said Dr Mackle.

Less milk means 15-20 percent less jobs and reduced competitiveness in global markets. This is an issue because nearly one-third of exported goods and 46,000 jobs are associated with dairy production in New Zealand.

“The proposed Essential Freshwater changes constitute substantial business risk for New Zealand dairy farms, with the number of insolvent farms forecast to jump from 2 to 11 percent by 2050.

“Dairy is here to play our part but it must be done in a way that supports the community and all Kiwis while working towards improved water quality.” . .

The freshwater proposals are yet another example of policy the country can’t afford from a government we can’t afford.

You can read more ofDairyNZ’s economic assessment on the proposals here.


Rural round-up

29/10/2019

How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke says her community is under threat if the government’s Essential Water policy passes into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . .

Farmers only lukewarm on plan :

Farmer and new Environment Canterbury councillor Ian Mackenzie is cautious in his enthusiasm for the Government’s about-turn on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a world-first government-industry partnership the Government has backed down on taxing farmers and brokered a deal with the agricultural sector to manage and mitigate on-farm emissions.

It will avoid farmers being included in the ETS if they can commit to a new sector-led plan.

“Clearly, this is good news but it doesn’t necessarily send me skipping across the spring green paddocks with joy,” Mackenzie, an Ashburton cropping and livestock farmer, said. He was also Federated Farmers environment spokesman and a member of the Land and Water Forum. . .

MIA big guns next up in China – Alan Williams:

It follows a successful visit by a smaller technical team in late September that made clear NZ’s keenness to partner with the Chinese industry to help modernise and improve supply chain systems, including cold store infrastructure, the association’s trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva said. . .

 

Synlait Milk buys Canterbury’s Dairyworks :

Synlait Milk is buying Canterbury’s Dairyworks for $112 million as part of its push into the consumer market.

The speciality milk producer said Dairyworks was a good fit for its everyday dairy strategy, and complemented the recent purchase of cheese manufacturer Talbot Forest.

Dairyworks supplied New Zealand with almost half of its cheese, a quarter of its butter, as well as milk powder and Deep South ice-cream. . .

90-year-old Northland Kiwifruit farmer feeding the world – Susan Botting:

Northland grower Zela Charlton, 90, enjoys feeding the world from her Glenbervie kiwifruit orchard.

“My reward is feeding the people of the world. Even if it’s a bit of a luxury, kiwifruit is a very nourishing food,” Charlton said.

The nonagenarian loves kiwifruit – both green and gold.

“You can’t imagine what a perfectly ripe kiwifruit taken straight off the vine tastes like – it’s out of this world.” . . 

Win for prime agrcultural land – Mitchel Clapham:

NSW Farmers has lobbied long and hard to protect our prime agricultural land and water resources in the face of increased mining and CSG activity.

On May 1, 2012, NSW Farmers spearheaded the ‘Protect our Land and Water Rally’ in Macquarie Street, joining with many other organisations like the CWA to galvanise support for local food and fibre production.

In response, the state government developed a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and Gateway process, which was supposed to map and protect Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL), which comprises only 3 per cent of NSW. . .

 


Playing for the payer

18/09/2019

What’s the value of dairying to the economy? It depends who you ask:

The recent NZIER report trivialises the significant role the dairy sector plays in New Zealand’s economy – and fails to look at the specifics of the Government’s freshwater package, according to DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the report, commissioned by Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace, is less an economic report and more a high-level commentary on the dairy sector’s role in the economy – and paints an inaccurate picture.

“This is yet another case of environmental lobbyists targeting dairy farmers – who are people trying to do the right thing by the environment and who are actively working to make changes on-farm to protect it,” said Dr Mackle. “By singling out dairy farmers, they are ignoring other contributors to water quality and, therefore, are limiting our ability to actually fix the problems where they exist.

“The NZIER report trivialised dairy’s role in the economy – 3 percent of GDP equates to 28 percent of merchandise exports and one-fifth of goods and services exports coming from the dairy sector.

“The NZIER report does not analyse the economic benefits of dairy to regional communities – which is a critical aspect of dairy farming’s contribution to NZ Inc. Dairying is the engine of the regions, in terms of income and jobs. For example, it is the top income earner in Waikato, West Coast and Southland.

“Yesterday we saw the latest MPI Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report which showed dairy makes up $18.1b of $46.4b exports to June 2019. Dairy exports were up $1.47b last year – this has flow-on effects to our communities, where we employ 46,000 people on and off-farm.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) recently completed an advisory report on the Essential Freshwater Package that showed that national limits for nitrogen and phosphorus would potentially impose very large costs on agriculture.

“In that report, it referred to a Waikato modelling study which found that land-use change was required to achieve the nitrogen and phosphorus limits proposed – with changes resulting in a dairy revenue loss of $140m per year,” said Dr Mackle

The LGNZ report showed that these goals require an enormous amount of land use change to take place, with many farms becoming uneconomic and communities being impacted negatively due to rural depopulation and a loss of annual income.

“Modelling for Southland showed that achieving a 9 percent reduction in nitrogen loss would reduce dairy profits by $17m a year,” said Dr Mackle.

“In terms of innovation, dairy farmers are an extremely innovative sector but the reality is that all land users play a role in water quality and more than innovation is required – it also needs broadscale adoption by all land users.

“As a sector, we are solutions-focused – and have been for years, and our farmers have been voluntarily working to look after their land and waterways. Our Water Accord shows a range of great progress, including fencing 98% of significant dairy waterways and stock crossing points or culverts for almost all waterways nationwide.

“We all acknowledge there is more work to be done – but we need to work together and recognise when good work is happening and allow time for change to occur.”

NZIER produced a report that played the tune the payers – Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace – wanted.

In doing so it seriously undervalued the economic importance of dairying in and to New Zealand and seriously underestimated the devastating impact the freshwater proposals would have on rural communities and the country.


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