Rural round-up

10/06/2021

Feds says we’ll need more people, more money to take on climate challenges:

Federated Farmers believes the final Climate Change Commission report released today will need to be backed up with significant investment in improving access to science and technology on farm, and the people needed to operate it.

Back in February Feds was relatively upbeat about the report and the challenges it posed for New Zealanders, and their government. But there were areas where Feds felt the analysis and the science was not reliable.

As was said back in February, Feds is wary of any policy direction which assumes tougher regulation will force behaviour change.

“To expect landowners to make land use changes based on the weight of regulation they face, rather than market forces, is unreliable and unlikely to deliver lasting improvements,” Andrew says. . .

Commission advice remain a big ask for farmers :

The Independent Climate Change Commission’s final advice to Government has kept the 2030 methane reduction target at 10 percent, but the job ahead remains a big ask for dairy farmers, according to DairyNZ.

“It is now up to the Government to deliver a credible emissions reduction plan for New Zealand – and the investment in tools and support required to achieve it,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

“A 10 percent reduction for biogenic methane will be incredibly challenging for farmers, but we are committed to playing our part and reducing emissions alongside the rest of the economy.

“We are pleased the goalposts haven’t shifted from the Zero Carbon Act and farmers now have certainty they need to make long-term investment decisions. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand backs Climate Change Commission’s strengthened advice to reduce reliance on carbon farming:

The Climate Change Commission’s advice that New Zealand must cut gross carbon dioxide emissions is encouraging, but still far too many exotic trees are forecast to be planted on productive farmland, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“While we still need to carefully read 400-odd pages of the final advice, we support the Commission telling the Government that New Zealand must reduce its reliance on forestry offsets, in particular from pinus radiata,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“However, the recommended levels of carbon removed by trees is still too high and will lead to swathes of New Zealand sheep and beef farmland being converted to pine trees.

“This will have significant negative impacts for sheep and beef farming and rural communities with knock-on effects for every New Zealand household. . .

A million cows to be slaughtered for what gain?

The Climate Commission’s recommendations that stock number need to be slashed means a million cows will be slaughtered”, said Owen Jennings, Manager of F.A.R.M. – Facts About Ruminant Methane.

“No amount of fancy words and promises hides the grim reality that of the 6.2 million cows currently producing the country’s wealth a million will end up butchered. In fact the Commission and now the Government admit it may be more”.

“F.A.R.M challenges Rod Carr or Minister Shaw to state how much warming will be slowed or stopped by this dastardly move. The cold reality is that they can only truthfully answer ‘none’. . . 

Horticulre’s potential to help New Zealand respond to climate change recognised:

Horticulture New Zealand is pleased that the Climate Change Commission has recognised that land use change to horticulture can help New Zealand respond to climate change, while at the same time providing people with fresh, healthy food.

‘We’re pleased that in its final report to the Government, the Climate Change Commission has increased its estimate of how much land could be converted to horticulture, from 2000 hectares a year to 3500 hectares a year,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘If horticultural can expand more, it will reduce some of the emission reductions required by other parts of the primary sector, and also reduce reliance on forestry offset, which the report acknowledges, ultimately passes the responsibility for achieving reductions to future generations.

‘The report recognises that in order for horticulture to achieve its full potential, investment will be needed to remove barriers such as water availability and access to labour.’ . . 

ExportNZ calls for least cost, high emissions reduction, not high cost:

Catherine Beard, Executive Director of ExportNZ says ExportNZ fully supports New Zealand reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, but emphasises this needs to be an affordable journey to ensure our manufacturers, food producers and exporters maintain their competitiveness internationally.

“New Zealand needs to transition to a low carbon emissions future along with the rest of the world and we already have a great advantage with our high percentage of renewable electricity.

“ExportNZ supports the use of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to cap emissions, allowing trading to find the least cost emission reduction.

“Changes already made to the ETS will ensure the price of units will steadily increase and that free allocations to emission intensive trade exposed businesses will reduce. This will send a price signal to energy users to increase efficiency, lower emissions and offset the ones that are too expensive to reduce until the low emissions technology is available. . . 


Rural round-up

02/02/2021

We need to science our way out of this:

It’s time for the New Zealand public to get ready for a discussion about how science can lead us out of our climate change crisis, Federated Farmers says.

Yesterday’s report released by the Climate Change Commission was a massive piece of work which dives into every corner of New Zealand’s approach to achieving its climate change goals.

The report challenges Kiwis to rethink just about every part of their lives, Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

And farmers are no different to anyone else, except that they’ve been talking about science-based analysis, data gathering and solutions for much longer. . . 

Fewer cows recommendation absolute nonsense :

‘The Climate Commission’s recommendation to reduce livestock numbers by 15% by 2030 is not sensible, practical or justified,’ Robin Grieve, chairman of FARM (Facts About Ruminant Methane) said today.

Reducing livestock numbers will invariably cost New Zealand export income and mean that less food is grown. With an increasing global population that needs feeding this policy is not only anti human and selfish, it will also cause more global emissions as other countries with less efficient farming systems will have to produce the food New Zealand does not. Such a recommendation by the Commission is as silly as New Zealand reducing emissions by cutting Air New Zealand flights and letting Qantas take up the slack.

Reducing livestock might reduce carbon emissions but the bulk of these carbon emissions are sourced from methane and are not causing the warming the system attributes to them. . . 

The case of the catastrophic virus and government’s liability – Nikki Mandow:

This month, kiwifruit growers go to the Supreme Court seeking compensation over officials’ inadvertent release of the virulent vine disease PSA. And the case has far wider implications.

In June 2009, MAF (the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, now part of MPI) granted an import licence for some Chinese kiwifruit pollen, which turned out to be contaminated with the kiwifruit vine killing bacteria pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, or PSA. 

The impact was devastating. Pollen infected a farm in Te Puke, then more farms, and as the disease took hold across the North Island, entire orchards had to be destroyed and several hundred farmers lost hundreds of millions of dollars.   . .

Summer sunflower crop sows seeds of interest – Ruby Heyward:

Popular sunflowers near Weston are in full bloom, and are attracting more than just birds.

Owners Peter and Sandra Mitchell said the flowers generated a lot of interest and it was not uncommon for people to stop and take pictures.

Although the couple did not mind visitors enjoying the flowers, it became an issue when people entered the field, and took or knocked over flowers.

People would sometimes get a shock when hopping over the electric fence placed around the crop to deter the farm’s cattle, Mr Mitchell said. . . 

Couple’s business inspired by lockdown mushrooming – Ashley Smyth:

Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut believe there’s something magical about mushrooms, and something equally magical about Oamaru. They speak to Ashley Smyth about their recent move and watching their fledgling business, Waitaki Mushrooms, take off.

For some, last year’s Level 4 lockdown offered time to reflect on priorities and seize opportunities.

Former Aucklanders Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut are two of those people.

The couple had previously considered moving south, but were nervous about leaving the bright lights and busyness of city life. . . 

 

The 20 most influential people in Australian agriculture – Natalie Kotsios , Peter Hemphill, James Wagstaff , Alexandra Laskie and Ed Gannon,

THEY are the people who make ag tick — the movers and shakers of Australian agriculture.

From the absolute peak of world trade power, down to those who keep our farms going day-to-day.

This inaugural list of Australian ag’s top 20 power players reveals an industry that has a strong backbone, yet is at the mercy of global politics and a fragile labour system, laid bare by the Covid crisis.

The power players were chosen by The Weekly Times for their influence on agriculture, for how their actions affect the entire industry, and for their ability to make big decisions. . . 


Rural round-up

03/12/2020

Farm group challenges MPs on climate change emergency:

A group of farmers and scientists set up to present facts on ruminant Methane are challenging MP’s about the popular claim that 48% of NZ’s emissions that constitute the emergency come from agriculture. The group have told MPs that the Ministry of the Environment has fabricated evidence on climate to support claims of deteriorating weather resulting from climate change. They are misleading the public and falsely blaming farmers to concoct an emergency.

The letter also claims that the natural Carbon/Methane cycle is ignored to make it look like farmers are responsible for a much higher level of emissions than is actually occurring.

F.A.R.M.’s Chairman, Robin Grieve said, “Farms are utilising as much CO2 as they produce when they grow grass and sequester CO2 in the soil. While the country’s livestock numbers are stable, as they have been for a decade, no additional Methane is entering the atmosphere so no new warming is occurring.  . .

Largest drop in terms of trade in a decade as dairy export prices sour:

Lower export prices for dairy, meat, and logs in the September 2020 quarter led to the biggest drop in terms of trade since June 2009, Stats NZ said today.

Export prices fell in the September 2020 quarter, down 8.3 percent from its highest ever level in June 2020. This is the third largest fall in export prices since the series began. Import prices fell 3.7 percent, resulting in a terms of trade fall of 4.7 percent.

The terms of trade measures the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and is an indicator of the state of the overall economy. A fall in the terms of trade means the country can buy fewer imports for the same amount of exports.

“Export prices for dairy products fell 12 percent overall in the quarter,” business prices manager Bryan Downes said. . . 

Cheesemakers encouraged to enter Champions of Cheese Awards:

While most Kiwis are considering what local cheese to enjoy this festive season, NZ Cheesemakers are being encouraged to enter the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021.

Entry opens on Tuesday 1 December and entries will be accepted until Wednesday 3 February. Judging for the 19th NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021 will be held at Ignite Colleges on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 February 2021. Medal winners will be named on Tuesday 16 March with the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner in Hamilton on Wednesday 5 May 2021.

The Awards are owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) and NZSCA chair Neil Willman said they celebrate the best NZ cheese as well as helping improve quality by providing benchmarking and feedback to cheesemakers. He says the Awards play a key part in the Association’s promotion of local cheese. . . 

Venture Taranaki report shows 207,000 hectares of Taranaki land suitable for horticulture:

Venture Taranaki has released an assessment on Taranaki’s land and climate, which provides an overview of our region’s growing capability, and the opportunity to help meet long-term goals of building diversity, value, sustainability, and market and supply-chain resilience.

A key finding of the released Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment is that there are around 207,000 hectares of land potentially suitable for generic horticulture within the boundaries of the Taranaki Regional Council.

The eight mainstream crops covered in the assessment include apples, kiwifruit, avocados, blueberries, hops, hemp and CBD cannabis, hazelnuts and walnuts, potatoes, and wine grapes. . . 

MPI calls for proposals to research regenerative farming practices:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is calling for proposals for projects that will investigate regenerative farming practices.

Funding for successful proposals is available through MPI’s Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) co-investment fund. The fund aims to have projects under way by mid-2021.

“There is increasing interest from farmers and the wider community about regenerative agricultural practices, but definitions for regenerative agriculture can vary dramatically,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director Investment Programmes.

“We’re looking to define what regenerative agriculture means from a New Zealand perspective, and develop a sound evidence base to test and confirm what works in our soils, climates, and farming systems.” . . 

Australian agriculture already where it needs to be – Georgie Somerset:

Against all the odds stacked against us – drought, floods, bushfires, COVID, and disruptions to international trade – Australian farmers produce world-class food and fibre for the rest of the country and the world to enjoy.

We do it by caring for our two greatest assets (besides our people): our land, and our livestock. To do otherwise undermines everything about farming itself.

We need our land kept in the best condition possible; we need happy, healthy animals to ensure we deliver the best quality produce. It doesn’t work, at least not very well, any other way.

As an industry, we have already reduced CO2 emissions, down more than 55 per cent since 2005, increased documented biosecurity plans for cattle properties, up from 25 to 90 per cent, achieved 99 per cent compliance with Australian standards for chemical residues, decreased our water usage, and improved the use of pain relief for livestock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/08/2020

COVID-19: Time for a rethink on priorities – Doug Edmeades:

The Government needs to put environmental goals on the back burner whilst managing debt from COVID-19, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

New Zealand’s Government has spent about $50-odd billion to-date to counteract the ravages of the COVID virus.

It is an enormous debt. Somehow, someday, we must repay it. But how?

Unfortunately, our tourism industry is also a casualty of the virus. This leaves agriculture as the only industry large enough to muscle-down this debt over time. . . 

Ruminant methane under the spotlight:

For over 20 years New Zealand’s farmers have been unfairly harangued and vilified for their animal’s ruminant methane emissions and a new farming group says it wants to set the record straight.

A recently established organization named “FARM”, which stands for Facts About Ruminant Methane, has been set up by concerned farmers and scientists to present the facts about ruminant methane to challenge unjustified, unscientific emissions reduction requirements imposed by the Government.

FARM says the politics is running away from commonsense and science with current climate policy based on flawed input data about ruminant methane’s impact. . . 

Long way from being out of the woods yet – Allan Barber:

The sense of calm and normality pervading the country for over three months has been shattered by the latest cases of community transmission the country. Until today New Zealanders have been going about their everyday lives, most of them still with jobs and being paid, at least until the wage subsidy ends, while the major concerns appeared to be what Judith’s raised eyebrows say, which political poll is closer to reality, and how many more people would break out of quarantine. Suddenly the media has a lot more than the election to get its teeth into.

Cars have been selling faster than ever, house prices remain steady, people have been able to eat out and travel round the country, enjoying local tourism experiences instead of flying round the world, and agricultural export prices have held up reasonably well. It seemed at first glance as if all was right in our little corner of the world. But the latest events have proved this may just be the calm before the storm which could be brewing in any number of different ways. While optimism is great, it would be as well to anticipate some of the risks facing New Zealand and ensure there are strategies to manage them. . . 

Fonterra confirms appointment of Teh-han Chow:

Fonterra is pleased to confirm the appointment of Teh-han Chow to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Greater China.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says since December 2019, Teh-han has been at the helm in an acting capacity, overseeing the Co-op’s overall Greater China business, including Ingredients, Foodservice, Consumer Brands and China Farms.

“He’s made an impressive contribution. It’s certainly not been a steady-state. Teh-han has been responsible for implementation of our new strategy across the Greater China business, and over the course of this calendar year, has shown outstanding resilience, resourcefulness and empathy in getting his team and our China business through the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 global pandemic. . . 

Growing Food Through COVID-19 – Nutrient Services Essential (again) :

As farming gears up for a busy spring, farm nutrient provider Ravensdown has been given the green light as an essential service as it was during previous levels 3 and 4.

Back in autumn, farmers were catching up on fertiliser and feed as they tried to recover from a crippling drought. A potentially COVID-disrupted spring places different demands on the farm nutrient and environmental experts as soil tests, fertiliser recommendations, nutrient budgets and farm environmental plans need to be generated.

“Our network will be operating as before ensuring the essential nutrients remain available as farmers grow the food for people and livestock,” said Bryan Inch General Manager Customer Relationships. “The team of on-farm advisors will try to do what they can remotely, but unlike the last lockdown, on really important occasions they will need to visit a farm. Of course, they will check ahead and comply with the relevant government advice around safe interaction.” . . 

Derecho: Assessing damage – Rob Swoboda:

Across a wide swath of central and eastern Iowa, people are dealing with the heartbreaking aftermath of a rare derecho windstorm that has turned what was looking like a big corn and soybean crop into deep losses for many farmers.

The Aug. 10 storm flattened cornfields and destroyed or damaged barns, machine sheds, livestock buildings, grain bins, and homes. Central and eastern Iowa were hit by winds up to 100 mph. A derecho is an inland hurricane with ferocious straight-line winds and varying amounts of rain.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig traveled the area to get a firsthand look at the damage, listening to farmers and other folks affected. He held a phone conference with reporters Aug. 12 after viewing fields in central and west-central Iowa. . . 


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