Rural round-up

04/02/2020

A word from the mayor – Hurunui District Council:

We heard Last week that our central government is increasing its spending on infrastructure. This is welcome news to local government who provide forty percent of New Zealand’s public infrastructure.

However, with this news comes a bit of disappointment. There is a feeling that South Island projects have been largely ignored and that the allocated spending fails to recognise the contributions and needs of the rural sector.

While the news itself is good, the government’s infrastructure spending priorities appear to focus on moving people and ignore the economic importance of agriculture. Our productive rural sector is reliant on road transport that allows goods to be moved from farm to market – the proposed infrastructure spend fails to recognise and value this from an economic perspective. . .

Outrage at government over new levy :

Farmers have taken to social media to express outrage at the Government over a new levy.

Last week, Rural News reported that the New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) was unhappy with a proposed new aerial safety levy.

NZAAA claims the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) levy unfairly targets the ag sector and will increase the costs of aerial spreading of fertiliser and spraying of crops. . .

Fodder beet yield unaffected by significant reductions in fertiliser – research :

New research shows that it is possible to reduce traditional fertiliser recommendations for growing fodder beet – sometimes by significantly more than half the usual amount – with no effect on crop yield or quality.

Plant & Food Research, along with industry partners, recently completed a three-year study with the assistance of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Farming Fund (now superseded by Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures) to determine the best way to grow fodder beet, a popular supplementary feed crop for livestock in New Zealand.

The researchers conducted a series of nitrogen, potassium and boron trials to establish whether standard management practices could be recommended for varying soil types and locations. . . 

Revised weather messaging aims to prevent repeat of 2019 mass cattle deaths in Qld monsoon – Eric Barker:

Almost a year to the day after flooding in north-west Queensland killed more than 500,000 head of cattle, the monsoonal rain was forecast again.

Summer flooding is a regular event in the area and many graziers rely on it to sustain their businesses for the rest of the year.

But the 2019 monsoon was one of the biggest and most unusual on record and if the cattle survived the raging torrents, they died from a cold snap that coincided with the rain . . 

City girl loving rural life – George Ckarj:

‘‘I’m a city girl born and bred.’’

Anna Munro, who works at the Temuka saleyards, is originally from Christchurch but felt like she needed a change of scenery, finding peace in the idea of rural life.

‘‘I was born in the North Island but my dad was in the army, so we travelled a lot all over. I ended up in Christchurch for a while, met up with a really cool guy and moved down here.’’

Speaking to Central Rural Life during a recent stock sale, Ms Munro felt she needed to get involved with the community after purchasing a lifestyle block and some sheep. . . 

How a vegan diet could affect your intelligence – Zaria Gorvet:

The vegan diet is low in – or, in some cases, entirely devoid of – several important brain nutrients. Could these shortcomings be affecting vegans’ abilities to think?  

It was the late 1880s in the city of Rajkot, India. The meeting was to take place on the banks of the local river – and discretion was essential. Mahatma Gandhi, who was just a teenager at the time, hadn’t told his parents where he was going; if they had found out, they would have been shocked to death.

As it happens, Gandhi was having a picnic. And on this occasion, India’s future national hero – and one of the most famous vegetarians in history – wasn’t planning to dine on cucumber sandwiches. No, for the first time in his life, he was going to eat meat.

As he later wrote in his biography, Gandhi was raised as a strict Vaishnava Hindu, so he had never even seen meat before this fateful day. But his picnic companion was a shady character with an unusual obsession – the idea that meat held the key to being physically and mentally strong.

In the end, Gandhi braved the meat. It was as tough as leather. . .


Farmers’ stories and silver lining

13/06/2018

Farmers are fighting back against the anti-farmer, anti farming rhetoric.

The antis are well organised and articulate, but social media gives a voice to those like Farmer Tom:

 

I’m one of those ‘industrial farmers’ that practice ‘intensive farming’; people hate me. I’m also a conservation farmer (#glyphosateisvital) and am part of a family farm; people now love me. Confusing isn’t it? Anyway, here’s what I just wrote on another matter – it makes enlightening reading I think (/hope)…

In the past generation we’ve planted 14 football pitches of trees and woodland, we’ve sown 30 football pitches of pollen & nectar mix for butterflies and bees (a RIOT of colour from April to November), we provide 10 football pitches of mixed seed crops to help overwintering birds get through the ‘hungry gap’ at the end of winter, we’ve restored and maintained 20 ponds and we regularly see snipe across the farm, but especially on our managed wetlands. We’ve seen marked increases in brown hare, skylark, red kites, buzzards, sparrow hawk, hobby, and three species of owl make use of our specialised owl boxes. We have seen earthworm populations increase significantly, and we have managed grassland for rare orchids. Our low-input grazing system mimics the movement of wild herds and we have seen five species of deer increasing across the farm. Our crowning glory in my opinion is the reappearance of the stunning kingfisher, however the prevalence of grey partridges or lapwings or any number of redlist species divides opinion as to the title of greatest success story, and a recent visit from an insect expert revealed a rich insect fauna.

We’ve also grown food for 65 million left wing, right wing, centrists, nazis, and communists, for vegetarians, flexitarians, vegans, and omnivores, for black and white, rich and poor, for women and for those who identify as women, for man and beast, for princes and paupers, for criminals, creatives, and crazies, for townies and bumpkins, for slave and free, for erudite and for those who don’t even know what that means, for immigrants, supremacists, for asylum-seekers, for liberals, free thinkers, and for those who read the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and for those who can’t read. Not bad for a little patch of England eh?

Farmers; keeping you alive since history began, and stewarding our land since conservation was an elaborate way of preserving fruit for application to buttered toast.

Another Farmer, Mark Warren tells the story of going from peasant farmer to present farmer:

Mark Warren was just 24 years old, with a ticket to London and The Big OE in his pocket, when he got the call to take over the old family station in the steep hill country at Waipari in the Hawkes Bay.

“My father said, ‘Oi! The manager’s gone. All the staff are gone. You’re going to have to take over…Make it snappy.’ That was that. I went away for two weeks and came home…to face the music”. . . 

In spite of dyslexia, Mark has published his story in a book: Many a Muddy Morning: Stories From a Life Offroad and on the Land,

And Jim Hopkins sees a silver lining in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak:

The emotional impact on farmers with animals affected by Mycoplasma bovis may have the unintended side effect of changing the public’s perception of farming.

Rural Raconteur Jim Hopkins spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay saying urban New Zealand will be viewing farmers with much more empathy and sympathy as a result of M. bovis.

Hopkins’ speech was so impassioned and succinct we thought we’d let him do the talking to end today’s show.

“This occurred to me a week or two back when I was listening to you [Mackay] talking to a cocky in South Canterbury who wept on air … I’ve seen farmers on television in the same awfully stressed situation and you feel their pain. But the thing that did occur to me was, this is the first time for two years, that I have seen the other side of farming.

For two years or more, a gullible brainwashed urban media that sort of picks up all the green garbage and feeds it into its audience … has presented farmers as heartless calf-killers and creek polluters … suddenly we see people who are genuinely grief-stricken at the loss of animals, not as economic units but as members of the family, as part of their lives, as individuals.

It occurred to me when I saw that and heard it, I thought – suddenly, an urban audience is seeing farming and farmers in a new and vulnerable and emotional and caring and compassionate light and that’s got to be, long term, a good thing.

It’s a shift in perspective and perception in my view and it’s one that … everyone involved in the sector knows … that farmers … care, but that isolated, insulated urban audience that thinks milk comes in bottles or containers -they haven’t seen that and now they have and I think that’s a fantastic thing.” 

You can hear Jim full speech by clicking on the link above.

The disease is a very high price to pay for an improved perception, and it will be cold comfort for those directly affected, but good can come from bad.


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