Rural round-up

21/07/2021

Good protest farmers – now let’s make progress – Daniel Eb:

Well done farmers. Friday’s protest was well-organised and dignified. We got the message. You are under pressure and feel side-lined. You are being told how to farm by Wellington bureaucrats trying to legislate the way to a greener future.

It’s a future you want too – clean rivers, vibrant communities, thriving biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaption. For many of you, this journey started years ago. From the 4,700 native bush blocks quietly regenerating under covenant, to catchment groups taking responsibility for their waterways and the sector emissions reduction plan He Waka Eke Noa – farmer-led progress is happening.

It is also true that farming must carry a hefty weight when it comes to our green transition. But this is a call-to-action for all of us, so when will townies feel the pinch too? . . .

Farmers assessing devastating floods, resilience alarms raised :

Farmers across the upper South Island are on clean-up duty and counting up the costs as damaging floodwaters recede, and the agriculture minister has reminded farmers to take a thorough look at resilience in the face of climate change.

The weekend’s storm forced hundreds to evacuate, caused widespread damage to infrastructure including roads and bridges, and devastated farms in Buller, West Coast, Nelson, Tasman, and Marlborough – as well as causing more sporadic damage in surrounding regions.

The downpours brought Marlborough’s largest floods on record.

Federated Farmers Marlborough president Scott Adams said more than 300mm had fallen on his sheep farm near the Wairau River in 48 hours, and parts were devastated. . . 

Farmer forced to carry sheep through flood waters to safety

A Marlborough farmer who had to swim sheep to safety on Saturday says the flood waters were far worse than a record-breaking event 40 years ago.

Matt Forlong’s family vineyard is just west of Wairau Valley township and during winter they run sheep under the vines.

Simply getting to the property meant chainsawing fallen trees off the road so he arrived later than hoped, he said.

Water was already a metre deep and rising to shoulder depth so 200 sheep were stranded on quickly shrinking islands. . .

Farmer feedback set to shape revised capital structure proposal :

With the first phase of Fonterra’s capital structure consultation now complete, the Co-op is drawing up a revised proposal that aims to reflect farmers’ views.

A number of changes are being considered to the preferred option initially put forward in the Consultation Booklet in May – including adjusting the proposed minimum shareholding requirement for farmers and enabling sharemilkers and contract milkers to own shares.

“It’s a good time for the Board to step back and reflect on the feedback as most farmers will now be busy with calving. Once they’ve come through this particularly busy time of the season, we’ll be ready to consult on the updated proposal,” says Chairman Peter McBride.

Consultation has been extensive to date, starting with the initial communication on 6 May and the Consultation Booklet being sent to every farmer owner. Since then:  . .

McBride puts his stamp on Fonterra’s capital restructuring proposals:

The big  dairy  co-op  Fonterra  has  moved to make  its  capital  restructuring  proposals  more  palatable  to  its  10,000  farmer-shareholders as  it  seeks to  slash  the  drastic entry  cost  to  become a  new  supplier.

Faced  with  a  future where  total milk production  is  flattening, Fonterra  needs    more  flexibility in    its  capital rules, the  most  burdensome of which has been the compulsory requirement to invest huge sums of capital just to supply.

The  revisions now   being  put  forward bear   the  stamp   of  chairman Peter  McBride, who  in an earlier role  successfully carried  the  kiwifruit  growers in   Zespri through   a  similar  capital  restructure.

McBride, after  taking  the chair at  Fonterra,  soon realised  the need for  change in the one-size-fits-all compulsory capital structure  requiring all shareholders to hold shares on a 1:1 basis. It  has become a  key factor in farmers deciding to leave. . .

10,000 cattle culled every year due to bTB, NFU Cymru warns :

Welsh farmers have called for more action as 10,000 cattle in the prime of their productive lives continue to be culled every year due to bovine TB.

Farmers are playing their part in combatting the disease through cattle-based measures, however wildlife reservoirs of disease are still going unaddressed, farmers say.

It comes as the BBC recently published a news article which highlighted the emotional strain that bovine TB is causing producers in the country.

In the article, Vale of Glamorgan farmer Abi Reader explained that her farm had been locked down with TB for three years. . . 


Siloed haphazard & rushed

16/07/2021

Federated Farmers’ president Andrew Hoggard says the government’s siloed, haphazard and rushed approach to policy is causing undue stress:

The phrase the ‘winter of discontent” is a well-known line from Shakespeare’s Richard the Third.

It also aptly describes the sentiment amongst a fair number of us in the rural community.

Despite fairly solid market returns for many of our farm products, it feels like the so-called “Ute Tax” may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many, thus we see protests planned for next week.

The Ute Tax, I feel, while only a tiny financial burden compared to many other issues, has just highlighted in their minds that the Wellington Beltway thinkers just don’t get regional New Zealand.  ‘Rural Proofing’ is a nice phrase to use but not something that actually gets practised.

The issues I see right now and want to raise are around those bigger picture items and my concern around where it is all heading – and more precisely the pace it is occurring – across the backdrop of the new Covid-19 world, and the shortage of labour caused by border restrictions.

I am the sort of person who generally just wants to get stuff done, to not bugger around and dilly dally but just get on with the job.

But I always try and temper that with what resources do I have available to do the task, and I also like to work methodically to get one thing done and then move to the next.  My mantra being, do a job once, do a job right. The idea of starting something new while you have previous projects incomplete with them metaphorically being held together with baling twine isn’t smart.

If we look across the spectrum of work that is occurring right now we see a rush of legislation and change; we see legislation that has been poorly thought out and is requiring constant work to fix aspects of it; we have longstanding workstreams, that require already stretched resources and we have new proposals coming to the fore, which will stretch those resources even more.

As a stocktake of what is out there, we of course have the NPS on freshwater and the NES with its focuses on winter grazing, stock exclusion and Nitrate limits. We all know the winter grazing rules changes had to be changed within days of their release, due to the impracticability, and we are now in a limbo space with other aspects of the rules and potential changes.

The stock exclusion rules also were found wanting, capturing far more land than was ever intended, and the Minister recognizing that the low slope map was not fit for purpose.

With the Nitrate rules we have a one size fits all approach, which could have detrimental impact on many farming enterprises in certain catchments. Then with the NPS we have the need for all regional councils to have complying plans by 2024.  This is a monstrous level of work.

In some cases, councils have just finished putting together plans which have taken up much time from councils and communities, as well as resources. These plans and the money spent on them are effectively being flushed down the toilet. This need for new plans has led to large rate increases across the country, Environment Canterbury alone predicting it will cost them in the order of a staggering $20 million for the planning part alone.

In the last few weeks we have had the first stage of the replacement of the RMA announced. We see many of the same challenges in this that we saw with the Essential Freshwater package. A one sizes fits all approach with rules, new terms and definitions, but also we have now a proposal that new RMA style plans will be done by 14 appointed panels. If this is going to be the case why didn’t we do the RMA changes first before the Essential Freshwater legislation? 

We have regional councils in a mad panic raising rates to pay for work on replacement plans which in a number of cases were only recently completed. Then what happens to these new plans in the new system? Are they wasted? Will everything have to be redone in the new setups?

To meet the 2024 deadline regional councils are likely be already thinking about how they can cut corners and rush through community consultation to get these plans done.

Now with a replacement to the RMA and the work they are doing potentially being another waste of time, what motivation is there to do a proper job?

Added to all this we have the 3 waters proposal which will see further functions removed from local government on top of that happening in the RMA reform. Then supposedly we will have a review on local government.  What on earth is going to be left of local government to actually review?  Again, it feels like everything is being done in the wrong order.

We all agree water quality isn’t where we want it to be, but let’s not forget its still amongst the best in the OECD, and I have seen a real mindset change in farmers over my time farming. Let’s channel that energy rather than drain it out, rushing down a chaotic path forward.

That sounds like enough right? But we are probably only halfway there. Another major piece of work that’s happening is the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment or He Waka Eke Noa.

As the government has claimed, this work is world leading. Other countries talk the talk with regard to agriculture and climate change, and individuals within those countries love to put out lofty aspirations – but with likely little intent to achieve, or if it is it’s on the back of massive government subsidies. But no other country is embarking on a commitment like HWEN.

The next six to nine months are going to be critical for HWEN, as despite a price not being required till 2025, the mechanism has to be in place in the next nine months. Getting this mechanism correct is imperative, it needs to be a tool that encourages those who could do better to do so, and for those that are doing a good job it leaves them alone.

We need to ensure that any price mechanism is correctly set so that we don’t have emissions leakage offshore.  Reducing production in the most efficient country in the world to have it replaced offshore makes no sense.  If we get this price mechanism wrong then we get a situation that could inadvertently cause us to make changes on our farm that may reduce overall emissions but perhaps lose some of the efficiency and world leading footprint. Let’s not forget it’s that footprint which is what these supposedly discerning customers are after.

We get this wrong and it could have major implications for our economy and not do diddly squat with regards to climate change. So, industry and government officials need the time to focus on this in the coming months, not be bogged down with even more legislation and work.

What else?  Well, we have the NPS for Indigenous biodiversity on its way, and the Minister has stated his vision, that he hopes that this can provide support for farmers with SNAs and even maybe reward them, which would be good. We still need to ensure that it applies to truly significant natural areas, and that existing use rights are guaranteed. Biodiversity shouldn’t be seen as a threat for farmers, we should we viewing it as a positive and my hope is that the legislation can arrive at a place where that is the case.

Another piece of legislation, while only affecting a small number of farmers, is the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act. We call it a “a solution looking for a problem” in our submission, but it is now coming back to the House. We had hoped it might just disappear somewhere in the bowels of parliament but no such luck. Even though it only affects a small number, it is a truly appalling piece of legislation, that sets very bad precedents around property rights.

There’s a glimmer of good news: we have a lot work happening on stuff that I think farmers will actually be happy to see, with data interoperability, combined with farm plans. We saw a glimpse of the potential with the presentation from the Trust Alliance at PINZ. The compliance burden for many of us right now is as annoying as hell, with all the paperwork we have to fill out, and this is only going to grow through freshwater rules and climate change. But not only does data interoperability present the opportunity to reduce that, it will also offer the opportunity for aggregated insights that will actually be of use and value to farmers.

This is work we want to be spending more time on. Add connectivity improvements to that and suddenly farmers and growers are likely in a much better space to be able to handle the issues around water, climate and biodiversity.

Finally, the other aspect I touched on earlier was of course, the labour shortage. The government can’t do much about a global pandemic, but there are some steps it could take that would give people some hope. Firstly, we already have people in the country who are in a limbo land with regards to visas, and are being lured offshore, so let’s stop buggering around, if they are here, have a clean record, have a job – give them residency.

We are short-staffed and we will be looking at ways that we can improve that through local recruitment, but if the whole country is short, I’m not sure that just trying harder is the solution. Really, we need to ensure that the vaccine rollout happens as promptly as it can and we can start at least getting vaccinated working holiday visas happening again from vaccinated countries. They will provide some temporary relief at those really busy times of the year. The other question I have is are we using really the MIQ facilities in the most efficient way?  I hear various numbers of up to the likes of 2000 beds empty on any given day. I think what many employers who are struggling want to know right now is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  So what is our plan for re-opening to the world?

The Government needs to understand the burden that is being placed on people in the ag sector right now.  Our sector is doing the heavy lifting to bring in export revenue, and yet while our farmers and growers are doing this often short staffed all these other pressures I have just mentioned are weighing down on them and potentially going to add to their workload. For a government that talks about wellbeing a lot, they seem to have forgotten about it with regards to rural NZ.

Overall, my message to the government is we need to organise the workplan better. We have a siloed haphazard approach right now, that is causing stress and anxiety for many. Not just for farmers and growers, but other sectors and quite frankly probably the government’s own officials.

What’s important to do right now? Firstly, the labour shortage, we need to address what we can now, make that staff we have now feel valued and welcomed, this is what other countries are doing, probably not just the ag sector but many businesses just need to see a glimmer of hope. Following on from that, to my mind it’s HWEN, it’s working on getting the low slope map sorted and the winter grazing rules sorted, and the NPS Indigenous Biodiversity sorted with appropriate support for farmers and recognition of their efforts. It’s about really driving forward on the data interoperability work and farm plans, so that the farmers actually have the tools, and also how can we boost the connectivity across the country so more can use the tools. That’s the priority work that the sector and the government should be working on.

Once that is in a good place then let’s look at improving the monitoring of fresh water in this country.  We don’t measure nearly enough to get a solid enough picture of whether things are improving or declining.  Is the work we are doing with catchment care groups up and down the country having an impact?  We know with a few but nowhere near enough. If you’re going to invest your blood sweat and tears into something then you want to know that you’re having an impact.

Once that work is underway, then those items we parked can get moving again, with the exception of Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act that needs to be binned. In terms of the order: how about we focus on the RMA reforms first, get that squared away and then councils will know whether or not they need to bother doing the NPS FW. Might just save a truckload of rate payers’ money that way.

My message to farmers and growers is, we are focused on this stuff and attaining improved outcomes for you. It possibly doesn’t feel like that to many, because we are constantly in discussions on issues such as the Freshwater reforms, climate change, and the labour shortage, and unfortunately giving a day by day account of those exchanges is not really an option, it would potentially put at risk gains we have made.

One comment I would like to reflect on, is a discussion I saw on social media around the stress levels people are feeling because of all of what I just mentioned, and the view of a sharemilker from Taranaki.  His attitude was he ignored the media, ignored all the negative stuff on social media, pretty much just seemed to read his Fonterra monthly statement, and spend time with his family, and life was good. So while I think it is important to keep up with events and not totally live in a media blackout, it is important to always put things in perspective. The thing with impractical rules that we discovered in the Horizons region, is that they can be passed, but the attempt at implementing them eventually forces the rule makers to go back and do a relook. 

I would just lastly like to thank all the efforts of all our elected representatives that are here, but most importantly the work our staff do, they have been massively under the pump with all this work, and I want to thank you for the outstanding jobs you all do, and we are lucky to have you working for the farmers and growers of New Zealand.


Rural round-up

15/07/2021

Howl of a protest on the way – Sally Rae:

“Farming could be a joy but really it’s a bloody nightmare.”

Jim Macdonald has been farming Mt Gowrie Station, at Clarks Junction, since 1970 and he has worked through difficult times.

What farmers were battling now had been “created by a government that does not understand and does not even want to understand,” he said.

On Friday, Mr Macdonald will take part in Howl of a Protest, a New Zealand-wide Groundswell NZ-organised event to show support for farmers and growers. . .

National MPs Out In Strong Support Of Farmers :

This Friday rural communities up and down New Zealand will stage a protest at the overbearing government interference in their businesses and lives, and National MPs will be right there supporting them, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

The protests are organised by Groundswell, a community based group formed as a result of the unworkable Freshwater reforms in Southland. It has expanded nationwide and the recent Ute Tax announcement has seen urban communities become involved as well.

“Our rural communities worked hard to get New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic, they are the backbone of our economy,” Mr Bennett says. . .

Concern over calving season amid labour shortage – Neal Wallace:

They may have had one of their highest ever milk payouts but dairy farmers are anxious about the human toll of the looming calving season, as the industry grapples with an estimated shortage of 4000 workers.

Federated Farmers board member Chris Lewis says the industry’s reliance on immigrant workers will remain, at least until the Government changes to vocational training is completed, which could be several years.

He believes the Government’s recently announced plans to curb migrant workers is shortsighted and will hinder the country’s ability to utilise high international product prices and demand to repay debt, which is growing at over $80 million a day. . .

NZ has reached ‘peak milk’ Fonterra CFO warns – Farrah Hancock:

We’ve reached “peak milk” and are entering the era of “flat milk”, Fonterra’s chief financial officer warns.

Marc Rivers said he couldn’t see the volume of milk New Zealand produces increasing again, “so, I guess we could go ahead and call that peak milk”.

Environmental restrictions were impacting how much more land the dairy industry could occupy.

“We don’t see any more land conversions going into dairy – that’s quite a change from before,” he said. . . 

Vets may choose Oz over NZ – Jesica Marshall:

Border restrictions are putting a roadblock in the way of getting more veterinarians to New Zealand and some are even choosing to go to Australia instead, a recruitment consultant says.

Julie South, talent acquisition consultant with VetStaff, told Rural News that while many overseas vets are keen to work in New Zealand, some don’t mind where they end up.

She says prior to the Government’s announcement that 50 vets would be granted border class exceptions, she’d been working with vets who were considering both Australia and New Zealand as potential places to work in. “However, because the Australian government made it super-easy for them to work in Australia, that’s where they opted to go,” she says. . . 

Farmers facing six-figure losses as salmonella-entertidis wrecks poultry industry:

The poultry industry is in a state of shock and companies are facing huge financial hits following the detection of Salmonella Enteritidis.

Poultry Industry Association and the Egg Producers Federation executive director Michael Brooks said it had been detected in three flocks of meat chickens and on three egg farms in the North Island with some linked to a hatchery in the Auckland area.

None of the affected eggs or meat had entered the market for human consumption, but it was a blow to the industry, he said.

“We’ve never had Salmonella Enteritidis before in this country in our poultry industry. This has been a real shock to the industry but we are meeting the concerns and we will be putting place through a mandated government scheme – which we agree with – to ensure testing is of the highest level and consumers are protected.” . . 

New Zealand tractor and equipment sales continue to grow:

The first half of 2021 has got off to a superb start for sales of farm equipment.

Tractor and Machinery Association of New Zealand (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter said there had been substantial sales increases across all tractor horsepower segments and equipment compared with the same time last year.

Mr Baxter said the big increases reflected a continuing catch up in on-farm vehicle investment as farmers looked again to the future.

“It’s fantastic to see the confidence continue across all of the sectors, and in turn this confidence flowing into wider economy. . .


Rural round-up

14/07/2021

Farmer frustration is boiling over :

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says he’s not surprised frustration and anger about the deluge of new regulations and costs from central government is spilling over into protest meetings.

On Friday farmers in a number of districts around New Zealand are rounding up dog teams and firing up utes and tractors to head into their nearest town for peaceful protest rallies.

In his speech to the Federated Farmers National Council in Christchurch last week, Andrew referred to a “winter of discontent” in rural communities, with the so-called ute tax a straw that broke the camel’s back for many farming families.

The new “fee” on the farm vehicle work-horse to fund electric vehicle grants, when suitable EVs are not yet a realistic option for farmers, “has just highlighted in farmers’ minds that the Wellington Beltway thinkers just don’t get regional New Zealand“. . .

No workers, no growth! – Peter Burke:

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says unless the kiwifruit industry gets more people to work in the sector, it may have to look at slowing down its speed of growth.

Matthieson told Hort News the biggest challenge for the industry is getting a good and consistent supply of people coming through the sector. Those who can help pick the fruit – as well as prepare the orchards for the next season’s crop. He adds the sector also want people to work through the post-harvest facilities to ensure that fruit is being managed well, to get it to market in the best condition.

Mathieson says New Zealanders currently make up about 55% of the kiwifruit sector’s workforce, while backpackers make up about 25% and RSE workers around 15%.

“We have a good mix, but we are certainly looking for more to supplement the migrant workers and the backpackers,” he told Hort News. . . 

Canterbury farmer’s only way out under threat – Sally Murphy:

A farmer in the Canterbury high country still cleaning up after last month’s flood is worried the bridge which connects them to the rest of the world could be washed away.

The heavy rain caused significant damage to Double Hill run road up the Rakaia Gorge leaving farmers isolated.

A four-wheel-drive track has since been cut on the road but a bridge near Redcliffs station is still surrounded by shingle.

Station farmer Ross Bowmar said he was still using a generator for power and had five kilometres of fencing to repair, but the bridge was his main concern. . . .

 

Farmer owned co-operatives need farmer-centered boards:

Former Ravensdown Board member Scott Gower is calling for farmers to step up and stay active in participating on boards of their co-operatives despite more demands being placed on farmers’ time.

Scott is a third-generation hill country sheep and beef farmer from Ohura near Taumarunui and retired from the Ravensdown Board last September after reaching the maximum term.

As an ownership structure, co-operatives contribute 18% of New Zealand’s GDP and one of the most important characteristics according to Scott is how they can take ‘the long view’ rather than seeking short-term commercial gain.

“The agsector is served by more co-operatives than most. Participation by working farmers is vitally important especially in the Board’s composition and determining its priorities. They can nominate candidates, they can run themselves and of course elect the directors that best represent how they think things should be governed,” Scott says. . .

Vegetables lead sharp rise in food prices:

The largest rise for vegetable prices in over four years pushed food prices up 1.4 percent during the June 2021 month, Stats NZ said today.

Vegetable prices rose 15 percent in June, mainly influenced by rising prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, capsicum, and broccoli. After adjusting for seasonal effects, vegetable prices were up 8.5 percent.

“We typically see price rises for many vegetables in winter due to seasonal effects,” consumer prices manager Matthew Stansfield said.

“However, we are seeing larger rises than usual for this time of the year and for a greater number of vegetables.” . .

Agritech industry grew over 2020, report shows – Nona Pelletier:

The agritech industry is growing steadily, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Technology Investment Network (TIN) report for 2020 indicates there was growth across all parts of the sector, including the number of start-ups, export revenue, spending on research and development, and investment across all business types.

The top 22 agritech companies generated $1.4 billion in revenue.

Most of the new early stage companies offered information and communication technology, with a growing number offering biotech products. . . .


Rural round-up

13/07/2021

State likely to mismanage nature – Gerry Eckhoff:

Should the people be protecting New Zealand from the Government, asks Gerrard Eckhoff.

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain may enter but the King of England cannot enter — nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” — William Pitt the elder, 1763.

Two hundred and fifty years later we still have people in New Zealand (politicians and the botanical puritans) who simply do not understand the importance of that statement on the rights of the common man or women to hold property against the Crown and all its forces.

The recent controversy over significant natural areas has erupted over the identification of unmodified Maori land in Northland. The use rights to vast areas of private land have been identified for political seizure and effectively removed from private control. Most reasonable people assumed that Maori land rights were finally recognised as belonging to, and the property of, various iwi and individuals who wish little more than to exercise their rights to their land just as the rest of us do, or thought we could do. . .

Australia lures NZ”s migrant dairy staff – Gerald Piddock:

Migrant dairy workers are being lured from New Zealand to Australia by promises of residency for themselves and their families.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilkers chair Jason Herrick says his Filipino staff told him it was occurring among the migrant community.

It was also confirmed to him by farm owners he had contacted who had placed new advertisements over the past week wanting staff.

Four out of 15 of these new advertisements were due to workers leaving for Australia. The rest were because the staff had been poached by other farmers. . .

Lack of skilled staff at meat processors – Neal Wallace:

Meat processors will have to forgo further processing cuts due to a lack of skilled labour following Government changes to immigration rules, industry leaders warn.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is already short about 2500 people, including halal slaughtermen, skilled boners and butchers who have previously been recruited from overseas.

The staffing issue meant plants could not run at full capacity last season.

“What is new now is that it’s been made worse because of covid-19 and the borders being shut, meaning we can’t supplement the workforce with skilled migrant workers as we have previously been able to do,” Karapeeva said. . .

US buying up our primary industries – Farrah Hancock:

United States citizens and companies are buying up New Zealand land for farming, forestry and wine-making, an RNZ analysis reveals.

Almost 180,000 hectares of farming land was purchased or leased by foreign interests between 2010 and 2021.

During the 11-year period almost 460,000ha – a little under the size of the Auckland region – shifted out of New Zealand control through purchases, leases or rights to take forestry. For simplicity’s sake, this is referred to as bought land throughout this article.

More than 70,000ha of land was bought for dairying operations and more than 100,000 for farming other types of animals, such as beef, sheep or deer. . .

Will going meat-free really save the planet? :

Independent research by some of the world’s leading scientists shows the climate change benefits of substituting meat from the average New Zealander’s diet would only lead to a 3–4 percent decrease in an individual’s lifetime global warming impact from all activities, and could risk individuals missing out on key essential nutrients, such as iron.

The peer-reviewed research paper was developed by climate, nutrition and environmental scientists from the University of Oxford, Massey University, University of Auckland, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Riddet Institute, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka and the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has been published by the Switzerland-based Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) in the Sustainability Journal.

Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is often billed as one of the most effective ways for an individual to lower the climate impact of their lifestyle.

However, methane is a short-lived gas, whereas carbon dioxide is long-lived and, therefore, accumulates in the atmosphere. . .

Farmer to donate crop profit to mental health charities after mate’s death – John Dobson:

A Western Australian farmer touched by suicide will donate the profits from 60 hectares of his crop for the rest of his farming life to help mental health charities.

Sam Burgess, who farms near Arthur River — about 200km south-east of Perth — lost a friend to suicide last week and has dealt with his own mental health struggles in recent years.

Following his friend’s death, Mr Burgess decided to donate all profits from his 52 hectare crop to two mental health charities.

“I just want to do something,” he told ABC Great Southern. . .

 


Rural round-up

10/07/2021

Labour shifts goalposts on forestry goal, its first policy of 2020 campaign – Thomas Coughlan:

Labour has quietly shifted the goalposts on its first campaign promise of the 2020 campaign, a policy that would make it more difficult to plant swathes of prime food-producing land in trees to harvest carbon credits.

Last July, Labour’s rural communities spokesman Kieran McAnulty and Forestry spokesman Stuart Nash promised that within six months of the next Government being formed, Labour would amend National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to allow councils to determine for themselves what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.

Resource consent would have been required for plantation forests to be grown on land known as “elite soils”, land which has a Land Use Capability Class of 1-5. Land of a higher ranking, deemed less essential for food production, could still be used for forestry as now. . .

Rural vaccine availability fears:  ‘I think we are being disadvantaged’

There are fears rural communities in the south may be left behind during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Community leaders say there has been scant information about when vulnerable populations in remote areas can expect to be inoculated.

The Southern DHB said more clinics would open by the end of July in remote areas so no one was more than an hour from the nearest clinic.

Fiordland Community Board chair Sarah Greaney said despite group 3 – those over 65 or at greater risk from Covid-19 – being eligible for the vaccine, the nearest clinic at present was 140km away in Gore. . . 

Breakthrough in Hawkes Bay Bay TB response – Sally Murphy:

The animal health agency working to eradicate TB in the Hawkes Bay has gained access to two large forestry blocks in order to cull possums.

OSPRI is working to eradicate the disease – which is spread mainly by possums and can compromise immune systems in stock, causing serious production losses and animal welfare issues.

There are currently 18 herds infected with Bovine TB in the region – but there are also 572 herds under restricted movement controls – which means those farmers can’t move stock off farm without approval – which is a source of great frustration for some in the area.

During the response OSPRI has had trouble getting approval from some land owners to carry out pest control work, which can involve 1080 drops. . . 

David Grant is Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year:

Mid Canterbury Arable Farmer David Grant was awarded the “Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year Award 2021” at the arable industry awards in Christchurch tonight.

David’s contribution to the industry through is work with the Foundation for Arable Research, and in innovation and information sharing, made him an outstanding candidate for this year’s award, Feds Arable chair Colin Hurst said.

The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognise a member who excels at arable farming and to acknowledge the standard of excellence they set for the industry. . . 

Silver Fern Farms commits to its course for a sustainable future:

Net Carbon Zero Certified* Beef, Regenerative Agriculture and the elimination of coal by 2030; today, Silver Fern Farms has committed to several bold initiatives to drive its vision of being the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair, Rob Hewett, said it was after a significant amount of work and with real satisfaction the company was in the position to make these commitments publicly.

“We have set targets to stretch us, but we are ready for the challenge. If anything, we are committed to investing to accelerate our progress to achieve these significant milestones early. . . 

Savvy commercial partners sought for novel Australian oat products :

Australian oat noodles and oat ‘rice’ are set to become popular pantry staples here and overseas, once new manufacturing processes developed by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) are matched with the right commercial partners.

AEGIC is looking for food brands, manufacturers or investors who can fast-track getting the new healthy plant-based products to market, and help move oats beyond the breakfast table to becoming an option for lunch, dinner and snacks.

Developed from Australian oats, which are high in beta glucan, the new products offer superior nutritional benefits.

AEGIC’s oat rice has twice as much dietary fibre than other white and brown rices, fewer carbohydrates, more protein, and a greater concentration of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. . . 

Boosting agricultural insurance based on earth observation data and blockchain technology:

BEACON advances the inclusion of EO satellites within the AgI processes and adopts a smart contract and blockchain technology which will low the operational and administrative costs by transforming traditional processes to automated ones.

Agricultural Insurance (AgI) is the most weather-dependent sector among insurance services. The premiums’ calculations and the development of new products are highly depending on the continuously changing climate and the high variability of extreme weather events, for which such historic records are absent or not sufficiently accurate. In addition, the damage assessment and the handling of claims is rather costly including high operational and administrative costs since the verification of a claim requires on-the-spot inspections. Most of the times, the results of such inspections are controversial, since the final estimations are performed by inspectors who by human nature are less objective. . . 


Rural round-up

04/07/2021

Former homeless men pay it forward to flood hit Canterbury farmers – Nadine Porter:

They were once homeless and in need of a helping hand, so when flood-affected farmers asked for assistance six men living in Christchurch City Mission’s transitional housing were amongst the first to step up.

Working to help clear fences on Chris Allen’s debris-laden farm at Ashburton Forks, the men were inspired by a nationwide scheme that had supplied them with meat direct from New Zealand’s farms.

Meat the Need launched during the Covid-19 lockdown to supply much-needed mince to city missions and foodbanks.

Donated by farmers, the meat is processed, packed and delivered to those most in need. . .

Halal butcher shortage could cost NZ billions – industry chief – Sally Murphy:

The meat processing industry says a shortage of halal butchers could see billions of dollars of export earnings lost.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva made the comments in a submission to the Primary Production Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

This year the industry was short about 2000 workers both skilled and unskilled, she said.

“The industry needs about 250 halal butchers each season.” . .

Federated Farmers calls for support to get rates rise reviewed – Chris Dillon:

When times get tough, we all have to tighten our belts right? Unless, you’re Environment Southland it seems.

In fact, councillors have just voted to do the complete opposite, passing a 20 per cent rates increase.

Federated Farmers submission questioned the need for a substantial rates hike, called the council out for lack of detail in consultation documents, and provided alternative solutions to avoid the huge rise.

Ignoring that and the fact that only 10 of the 52 submissions received supported the 20 per cent increase, the majority of councillors voted for it. . .

Farm 4 Life givensupreme honour at KUMA Māori Business Awards:

Trailblazing Kiwi ‘edutainment’ business Farm 4 Life was announced the kaitiaki or guardian of the top 2021 Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA) Māori Business Award last night.

Farm 4 Life, an online learning platform that delivers on-demand education for the dairy industry and owned and founded by Māori farming identity Tangaroa Walker, became the seventh recipient of the Suzanne Spencer Tohu Maumahara Business Award at the KUMA Māori Business Awards. The judges based their decision on the impact Tangaroa was having on his local community using his experience and farming skills to support young people in particular, and the meteoric growth of his online community that puts Southland farming in the spotlight.

KUMA board member and judge Karen Roos (Te Puni Kōkiri) says Tangaroa’s personality and joy in being in front of the camera was an obvious entertainment factor, but particularly that “his life story, his dedication to being on the land, and his manaaki towards others” were significant factors in being honoured on Friday night. “Tangaroa is a strong role model in the community and especially for our rangatahi.” . . .

Operation cheese lollipops a most unusual snack – Michael Andrew:

Eager to discover Fonterra’s milky secrets, Michael Andrew infiltrated the dairy giant’s restricted R&D facility under the guise of a respectable journalist. The mission? Sample the cheese lollipops.

When most New Zealanders think of Fonterra they think of milk – thousands and thousands of tonnes of milk sloshing around in tankers on their way to supermarkets, dairies and cafes across New Zealand every day. They don’t necessarily think about gut-health probiotics being made from billions of strains of bacteria or high protein liquid superfoods being engineered for the convalescing or the elderly.

And why would they? Much of that stuff is being developed behind closed doors at Fonterra’s research and development complex in Palmerston North. But on the day the dairy giant opened its facility to the media for the first time, it wasn’t the probiotics I was most interested in. Nor was it the superfoods. It was the cheese lollipops . .

St Joseph’s Primary Quarry Hills create Bessie for Picasso Cows programme – Alex Gretgrix:

Students at St Joseph’s Primary in Quarry Hill in Bendigo were in the mood for painting during their latest study unit this term.

Over the past few months, prep, grade one and two students learnt all there is to know about dairy farming while designing their new bright bovine as part of Dairy Australia’s Picasso Cows program.

“We wanted our students to learn all about farming life while also honing in on their creative skills and I think they’ve really loved it,” P/1/2 teacher Nathan Walsh said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

01/07/2021

New Aussie farm visas could spell more trouble – Sudesh Kissun:

A new farm work visa proposed by Australia could cause more misery for labour-strapped New Zealand farmers.

By the end of this year, the new visa will be in place, ending a requirement for British backpackers to work on Australian farms for 88 days.

The visa will be extended to 10 ASEAN nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

New Zealand’s dairy industry is a popular destinations for Philippine workers but they could soon be heading to Australia. . .

Caring for the rural community – Neal Wallace:

An endless appetite for work is a feature of many young farming couples, but as Neal Wallace discovers, by any measure Southlanders Jono and Kayla Gardyne have shown an exceptional commitment to their futures – albeit in different areas.

The tribe of magpies chose the wrong time to invade the Gardyne property.

A shotgun resting against a wall was evidence Kayla could no longer handle the disruptive noise and activity outside her home office window, as she studied for her medical degree.

The pests progressively came off second best with six magpies dispatched, reinforcing that not only were they unwelcome, but that Kayla needed to focus on her studies. . . 

Grazing support needed for flood-affected Canterbury livestock – Laura Hooper:

Federated Farmers Southland has supported the Ministry for Primary Industries call to Southland for grazing support for more than 5000 livestock as a result of the Canterbury floods.

MPI spokesoman Nick Story said: “Our feed coordinators are currently seeking grazing for more than 5000 sheep from the Canterbury region. The sheep are owned by seven different farmers.”

“There are also six listings of grazing being sought for almost 300 beef cattle.”

The “one in 200-year” weather event has damaged thousands of hectares of Canterbury farmland. . . 

Covid boost kiwifruit demand – Peter Burke:

In a somewhat ironic twist, the global Covid pandemic is helping to drive demand for New Zealand kiwifruit.

This season, Zespri estimates that it will sell a total of 175 million trays to export markets – well up on last season’s 155 million trays.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson told Rural News the very strong demand for kiwifruit last season has continued this season.

“More consumers have been looking for healthy and nutritious foods and kiwifruit obviously fits in perfectly to that growing trend, which we also saw last year,” he says. . .

Wool campaign pays off :

An additional $78,500 has been raised for the Southland Charity Hospital after 64,000kg of donated wool was processed free of charge for sale by wool scour WoolWorks.

The cash is in addition to the hundreds of bales of wool donated by farmers to insulate the hospital in memory of Southland man and cancer sufferer Blair Vining, who died in 2019 but used his illness to raise awareness about the inequality of treatment.

He also successfully initiated a petition to the Government to create a national cancer agency.

The Bales4Blair appeal was spearheaded by South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie, with the goal of collecting bales to be turned into insulation for the Invercargill hospital; 181 farmers and businesses made donations through 21 wool stores. . . 

2021 and Beyond – the future of agriculture – Stephen Burns:

Where is agriculture at the moment and where is it going?

That is the background to a forum to be held in Temora on July 27, 2021.

With high prices for their commodities and record values being paid for farming land, it would be understandable to assume primary producers are enjoying a ‘purple patch’ of returns which might induce a sense of complacency.

That is the last emotion Craig Pellow, director of agency QPL Rural, Temora, wants to see happen to famers who have survived many years of drought, so he is hosting this forum. . . 


Rural round-up

30/06/2021

Farm know-how needed to improve M bovis programme – Neal Wallace:

Ben and Sarah Walling have experienced every possible emotion in their dealings with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) during three Mycoplasma bovis incidents on their Southland farm, but their overriding sentiment is to laugh.

“You’ve got to learn to laugh about it or it just eats you up,” Ben, a Five Rivers calf rearer and bull finisher, said.

Despite that, he has a daily reminder of his situation; an ongoing legal dispute involving “hundreds of thousands of dollars” compensation sought from MPI, which he attributes to a rigid and inflexible system that ignores the reality of farming.

The dispute relates to the impact of falling beef schedule prices and supply contracts being cancelled while his compensation claim was settled. . . 

MPI failed farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Ashburton farmer Frank Peters, who was forced to cull stock twice in three years, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has failed farmers.

Peters, who milks 1,400 cows all year-round on the family farm told Rural News that a recent University of Otago study that found the Government’s response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was poorly managed and inflicted significant and lasting trauma on farmers was on the mark.

The two-year study included extensive interviews with farmers impacted by M. bovis in Southland and Otago.

Peters told Rural News that he would expect similar anecdotes from farmers whose stock were ravaged by the disease. . . 

Resource Management proposal positive on consultation, flawed in content:

The government should be applauded for a proper consultation process on replacement RMA legislation but Federated Farmers has significant concerns about local democracy being stripped away.

Reacting to the release today of an ‘exposure’ draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act, Feds Vice-President and resource management spokesperson Karen Williams said it was pleasing this initial round of submissions and select committee inquiry would be followed by a second select committee process early next year.

“If the poor process around the production of the unworkable Essential Freshwater regulations has taught us anything, it is to carry out a thorough and genuine consultation process, as distinct from the secret and exclusive process that led to that mess.

“A two-step consultation process for this first phase of replacement resource management laws is welcome,” Karen said. . .

Polar blast hits South Island – Neal Wallace:

Farmers are taking in their stride the first cold polar blast of winter, which has dumped up to 100mm of snow in parts of the South Island and is making its way up the North Island.

Plenty of advanced warning and the fact it has arrived in the middle of winter means farmers have not been caught out, although the snow has caused some access problems in Otago.

The snow missed flood-hit parts of Mid and South Canterbury, although the region has not avoided the single-digit wind chill.

WeatherWatch lead forecaster Phil Duncan describes it as a classic, normal winter polar blast, but for some areas in the path of the storm it will be the first snowfall for a number of years. . . 

Putting a number of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions :

A total of ten tools and calculators can now be used by farmers and growers to get an understanding of their current agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa Programme Director Kelly Forster says the second set of tools and calculators has been assessed, following the first tranche earlier this year. Assessed tools now include: Foundation for Arable Research’s (FAR) ProductionWise, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s GHG calculator (available in July), and Toitū’s Farm emanage.

The full list and the industries they cover: . . .

 

Try the word sorry for size anti-meat academics told – Shan Goodwin:

RED meat’s overarching representative body has taken direct aim at academics espousing anti-meat rhetoric in a sign industry leaders are fighting back hard on unsubstantiated claims made in the name of promoting plant-based products.

The Red Meat Advisory Council has written to the vice-chancellor and principal of The University of Sydney, Professor Stephen Garton, demanding a public apology for a university-branded media alert on the new food labeling senate inquiry.

The inquiry is looking into the use of words like meat and beef on the packaging of plant-based products that do not contain any animal products. . .

 


Rural round-up

28/06/2021

Govt’s response on farm workforce crisis underwhelming – Jason Herrick:

The Government needs to do more to help farmers cope with staff shortages, Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker chairman Jason Herrick writes.

Farm staff shortages in Southland and around the country are getting worse.

While the government finally bowed to dairy industry pleas and announced border exemptions for 150 management and 50 farm assistant positions, the sector was already under severe workforce gap pressure.

The super-busy calving season begins mid-July, and it’s unlikely many of the 200 extra migrant staff will be out of managed isolation by then. . . 

Farmers, tractors, and tradies expected at ‘ute’ protests around the country – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers are being encouraged to take their tractors and dogs to town next month in a show of protest against Government regulations – and tradies are also being encouraged to show their support.

Farmer action group Groundswell NZ is organising ‘A Howl of a Protest’ in town centres from Gore to Kerikeri on July 16, for “farmers, growers and ute owners who are fed up with increasing Government interference in your life and business, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs”.

Groundswell NZ spokesperson Bryce McKenzie said farmers were growing increasingly frustrated with new Government regulations, but he hoped tradies would also join the protests as they were being penalised if they wanted to upgrade their utes.

Last week the Government announced its new rebate scheme, which will make lower-carbon-emitting cars more affordable for New Zealanders and will see a fee placed on higher-emission vehicles, including utes. . . 

Going without in salute to mate :

When Luke Knowles got the call that a good mate had taken his life, it was mind-numbing, heart-breaking and “just totally confusing”.

Mr Knowles said his mate, an intelligent, outgoing and fun-loving young man, was not someone he would ever have guessed was not happy on the inside.

“He was just one of the boys; we always had a good time together. But when he passed away, it did come to light that he had been battling with a few things, but he kept it all pretty close to his chest.”

As a salute to his late friend, Mr Knowles will be participating in Dry July, a campaign in which participants go without alcohol for the month of July. Typically, the campaign is to raise money for cancer research, but he will instead give his fundraising efforts to the Will To Live Charitable Trust which focuses on initiatives specifically designed to help young rural people suffering from mental health issues. . . 

Worldwide commodities boom drives fertiliser prices to 10-year highs – Jamie Gray:

The world-wide commodities boom has driven world fertiliser prices to 10-year highs.

Global food prices have recorded their biggest annual rise in a decade, driven in part by China’s soaring appetite for grain and soyabeans and a severe drought in Brazil, which has put fertiliser in hot demand.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said global food prices rose last month at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade, even as world cereal production was on course to reach a new record high. .  .

Tiny rural school has students of more than a dozen different nationalities – Lee Kenny:

It’s one of the most culturally diverse schools in the country, but it’s not in the inner city – it’s in rural Canterbury.

Hororata Primary School has 85 students from more than a dozen nationalities – including Serbia, Syria and Sri Lanka – and about a quarter of youngsters speak a language other than English at home.

The village of Hororata lies an hour west of Christchurch, just before the snow-capped Southern Alps rise up on the horizon.

The local economy is heavily reliant on the dairy industry, with workers from around the world employed on the farms and in the cattle sheds. . . 

North-east Victorian dairy farmers identify projects to help manage climate change:

Dairy farmers in north-east Victoria are leading an industry response to climate change.

A group of farmers has identified changing rainfall patterns, increased temperatures, availability of water, weather extremes and access to health services as challenges and/or opportunities for the next decade.

The North East Dairy Climate Futures Project invited dairy farmers to have a say about their own businesses in response to data released by the CSIRO in 2020 that supported predicted climate change impacts across the valleys of north-east Victoria.

At a series of workshops across the region earlier this year, dairy farmers embraced the opportunity to identify what should be the focus for their industry. . . 


Rural round-up

25/06/2021

Canterbury farmworker crushed by 600-kilogram hay bale during recent floods – Nadine Porter:

With a water-logged 600-kilogram hay bale crushing his once strong farming body, Dan began to fight for his life.

He had been sheltering from the heavy rain that flooded much of the Canterbury region late last month, waiting for his boss to finish a phone call before they took the feed wagon out to the cows.

He suddenly saw hay bales falling around him and shouted to his boss to move, but in that split second his choice to run forwards rather than sideways almost cost him his life.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew was in the process of getting Dan on the chopper to fly him to Christchurch Hospital when his partner arrived. . . 

Govt funds sort for Ashburton River shingle removal after floods – Sally Murphy:

Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN) says it needs financial help from central government ==to reinstate the Ashburton River, which flooded this month.

Farmers are frustrated they’ve been left with huge bills to remove shingle off their farms after the river flooded. Some have been offered $3500 from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Minutes of a council meeting in February show concerns were raised over the increasing amount of shingle in the north branch of the river – a compliance report said gravel was a serious concern and was causing flood capacity constraints.

ECAN said 60,000 cu/m of gravel needed to be removed from the river every year to maintain the flood capacity, but that figure was not met between 2009 and 2018 – gravel extraction averaged 38,000 cubic square metres annually. . .

Significant investment underway to help farmers tackle facial eczema :

We’re developing new methods to help farmers tackle facial eczema, a disease which is costing the dairy industry around $30 million in lost production each year.

Facial eczema (FE) is caused by a fungal toxin which is mainly found in summer and autumn pastures in the North Island and Upper South Island. When cattle eat this pasture they ingest the toxin which causes liver damage, lowered production and in some circumstances, skin irritation and peeling.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the co-operative is leveraging its expertise in genetics and diagnostic testing to help farmers combat the effects of the disease.

“We’re focused on helping our farmers optimise value from their livestock by enabling them to produce the most sustainable and efficient animals,” says Spelman. . . 

Feds advocacy on true regulations pays dividends – Simon Edwards:

The new regulations for stockpiling tyres are about to become law, and Federated Farmers is mostly pleased with the way they have landed for farmers.

“We’ve been involved in the consultation with the Ministry for the Environment for almost four years.  But it’s been worth it and shows that it is possible to develop pragmatic regulations to achieve environmental aims and enable common farming practices,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Farmers, like urban residents, do not want used tyre dumps in our neighbourhood.  This regulation makes it clear that outdoor tyre dumps are unacceptable in New Zealand.” . . 

 

Horizon’s workshop a chance for farmers to discuss freshwater issues:

Federated Farmers is calling on farmers in the Horizons region to get out and get involved in community meetings being held this week and next about freshwater and farming.

Feds thinks the venues which have been selected for the workshops give an indication of the areas which need to be aware of increased council concern in the future.

“So it’s worthwhile showing up to the meetings if there is one being held in your patch,” Manawatu Rangitikei Fed Farmers president Murray Holdaway says.

Topics to be covered at the two-hour workshops include Te Mana o te Wai, intensive winter grazing, fish passage, feedlots, stockholding areas, synthetic nitrogen, stock exclusion and wetlands. . .

A breath of fresh air in the debate about carbon – Joanna Blythman;

I have lost count of all the headline stories reporting that livestock farming is an environmental disaster.

You know the script. A team of researchers at some respected university has calculated that the carbon footprint of animal foods is unsustainably heavy.

With our current forelock-tugging attitude to academia, the general public, and even specialist environment and science writers take such statistics at face value because we don’t know how to examine the metrics that underpin them.

Narrow calculations are applied, measurements based on the number of calories supplied, or protein per 100g, water usage and the like. None give a rounded picture. . .


Rural round-up

18/06/2021

Calls for MP acknowledgement of farmers :

The co-owner of a major farm machinery business wants more rural sector acknowledgement from MPs.

A record number of Labour MPs will be at Fieldays 2021.

Power Farming’s Brett Maber says farmers often get a bad rap – but they’ve had a good season, especially given the past year. . .

Feds applauds UK-Australia free trade deal:

News that Australia and the UK have signed a free trade agreement is a promising step forward in the fight against tariffs and protectionism, Federated Farmers says.

“It reinforces the international rules-based trading framework and is important for rural producers and global consumers,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard says.

The FTA is the first to be signed by the UK since it left the European Union. . .

Education resource highlights NZ dairy and red meat’s role in feeding global population:

A new climate change education resource has been released by New Zealand’s pastoral farming sector.

The resource, ‘The important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population’, has been co-authored by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

It explores the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system. Written in a straight-forward and science-based style, it will provide secondary school students, in particular, with balanced information.

As a producer of food for around 10 times its own population, New Zealand has a unique emissions profile and consequently has a unique challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Utes big ticket items at Fieldays

Thousands of farmers flocked to the first day of Fieldays today, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of Covid-19, so expectations were high for the more than 1000 exhibitors who were back to put their wares on display.

The last time the event was held at Mystery Creek, near Kirikiriroa-Hamilton in 2019, it generated $500 million in sales for New Zealand businesses.

Some of the big ticket items are utes and, with the recent EV policy announcement, farmers are expecting to soon pay fees when they buy fossil fuel vehicles for their farms. . . 

Primary industries outlook predicts export rebound after 1.1% fall :

The food and fibre sector is expecting a 1.1 percent drop in export revenue due to covid related issues, but is expected to bounce back.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ outlook for primary industries (SOPI) report was released at Fieldays this morning.

Exports amounted to over $47 billion and the forecast for the year ending June 2022 was for exports to reach a record $49.1 billion – a 3.4 percent increase on the year just ending.

Sustained growth is forecast year on year, hitting a further record of $53.1 billion for the year to June 202-5. . . 

Vodafone and Farmside supporting rural New Zealanders with new connectivity options:

As Fieldays gets started, Vodafone is proud to offer rural Aotearoa new connectivity options including trialling a RBI2 Unlimited Broadband service for people who live in the second Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) area.

This comes as Vodafone ramps up network investments to expand its regional coverage footprint around Aotearoa, and as part of the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to build more cell towers in rural New Zealand under the RBI2 program.

This three-month RBI2 Unlimited Broadband trial sees Farmside, Vodafone’s rural broadband specialist, offer unlimited wireless broadband* for $79.99 a month to households within the geographical RBI2 area, with the trial also open to wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as part of Vodafone’s wholesale agreements. . . 


Rural round-up

17/06/2021

Floods highlight farmers’ vulnerability – Nigel Malthus:

The vulnerability of the roads has become a major concern for Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury president David Clark over a week into the clean-up following the region’s damaging floods.

Many road closures were still in force several days after the event.

“Delivering grain to the feed mill for us has gone from being a 30km trip to an 80km trip each way,” Clark told Rural News.

“We’ve got the [State Highway 1] Ashburton River bridge severely damaged and the slumping arguably is continuing to get worse,” he adds. . . 

Concern over SNA costs – Neal Wallace:

It will cost an estimated $9 million or $3000 per site for the Southland District Council (SDC) to map significant natural areas in its territory as required by the Government’s proposed biodiversity strategy.

The cost to ratepayers of councils having to identify significant natural areas (SNAs) is starting to materialise, but resistance is growing from private landowners concerned at the imposition on their property rights.

Although the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity is not yet Government policy, the Far North District Council is suspending its SNA identification process after protests from Māori landowners, including a hikoi.

The Far North District Council estimates 42% of the district on land owned by 8000 landowners could have areas of high ecological value. . . 

Council pausing SNA identification work – Rebecca Ryan:

The Waitaki District Council is pushing pause on its work to identify significant national areas (SNAs).

Last month, the council sent letters to nearly 2000 landowners about proposed changes to mapping in the district plan review, advising them the new district plan would increase the level of protection for SNAs, “outstanding and significant natural features”, “outstanding natural landscapes” and wahi tupuna (sites and areas of significance to Maori) on their private land. The letters also included maps of the proposed new protective overlays on the properties.

Waitaki landowners hit back at the council, criticising the mapping process and saying the letters did not contain enough information about what the proposed changes meant for them. Many expressed fears about losing productive land and the impacts changes could have on the value of their land.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher announced the pause in the council’s SNA work yesterday. He said there was “too much uncertainty” as the national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity (NPSIB) was still being developed. . .

Zero-injuries goal major investment for Alliance -Shawn McAvinue:

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker takes it personally when anyone gets injured at the meat processing plant, about 8km north of Oamaru.

The days of telling staff “to take a concrete pill and harden up” were over, he said.

Nearly 19 injuries were sustained for every 1million hours worked at Alliance sites across New Zealand.

The injury rate had fallen 80% in the past five years, he said. . . 

Back up the bus! – Sudesh Kissun:

Work together and stop throwing each other under the bus. That’s the message farmers delivered last week to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) at its first roadshow meeting in Glen Murray, Waikato.

About 35 farmers heard BLNZ chief executive Sam McIvor and director Martin Coup outline work being done by BLNZ on their behalf.

However, former Federated Farmers Auckland president Wendy Clark told the meeting that “there was a lot of throwing under the bus” during the Plan Change 1 consultation process.

Plan Change 1, introduced by Waikato Regional Council, is about reducing the amount of contaminants entering the Waikato and Waipā catchments. . .

Project pitches benefits of working with wool – Stewart Raine:

A new initiative focused on the recruitment, training and retaining of shearers and shed hands is expected to help ease the shortage of shearers across Tasmania.

The Wool Industry Workforce Development Project, funded by Skills Tasmania and coordinated by Primary Employers Tasmania, aims to attract young people into the industry.

It will provide coaching and mentoring throughout their developmental journey, and support farmers and contractors to improve workplaces to remove retention barriers. . .

 


Rural round-up

13/06/2021

Rising stars of primary industries acknowledged:

A 50 percent jump in the number of nominations for the 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards underpins the amount of innovation and leadership going on in the sector and growing awareness of the need to celebrate it, Terry Copeland says.

The Federated Farmers of NZ chief executive said from 65 nominations, up from just over 40 last year, judges have had the tough task of selecting finalists in seven categories. Winners will be announced at the PINZ Summit in Christchurch on 6 July.

“With a whole set of gnarly challenges in front of us – from global warming, biosecurity threats, cost pressures and demand for more community water storage, to name a few – robust science, entrepreneurial spirit and cross-agency teamwork is needed,” Terry said. . .

Farmers need to better prepare to deal with the barrage of regulations aimed at the sector – Mike Cranstone:

Farmers need to consider how they can have a stronger voice to represent their industry as it faces an endless barrage of regulations.

To be effective, agriculture must identify who it should be lobbying, and what messages are going to garner support. It needs a strategy rather than ad hoc responses, and we need to resource it properly, so we have a serious crack at defending the future of our industry.

The threat is not only to agriculture but to New Zealand’s future prosperity, this is too important for us to continue bumbling along.

Agriculture is facing rules and restrictions on many fronts; Freshwater, biodiversity, animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions and also bearing the brunt of rampant local government rate rises. . . 

Maple syrup in New Zealand: Trial aims to test sap production :

A trial near the Canterbury village of Hanmer Springs aims to see if maple syrup can be produced in New Zealand.

A small plantation of maple trees was planted there last autumn by the University of Canterbury.

Despite Canada’s freezing winters playing a pivotal role in its maple syrup production, research team lead Professor Matt Watson believes sap production can happen here.

“We planted our first maple saplings near Hanmer Springs last autumn and will coppice-prune them to keep them small. . . 

 

Vero urges Canterbury farmers affected by flooding to use mental health benefit on their insurance:

Vero insurance has today urged its rural customers affected by flooding in the Canterbury region to make use of the mental health benefit available on their rural insurance policies.

“The flooding in Canterbury is having a significant impact on our rural insurance customers, with inundation and damage to farming infrastructure like fences, pump and other farm assets and buildings,” says Chris Brophy, Executive Manager SME and Rural Insurance.

Brophy says that a large number of the 350 claims Vero has received due to the storm so far have been from rural customers, and that it expects the number of claims to increase further. . . 

Tough times for wine tour guides ’it is what it is’ :

The border opening with Australia has done little to re-invigorate the fortunes of Marlborough wine tour guides.

Marlborough Wine Tours used to take about 3000 mainly international guests around the region’s vineyards and cellar doors each year.

But this season it was down to less than a fifth of its normal clientele.

Guide and operator of the business Jess Daniell said guides were having to find other work. . .

Premer and Tambar Springs growers unite to tackle alarming wild pig problem – Lucy Kinbacher:

Growers on the Liverpool Plains have eradicated at least 1500 wild pigs in just four months, saving the district around $100,000 in damage.

While the mouse plague dominates headlines right now, this year local farmers around Premer and Tambar Springs faced an even bigger threat to their high yielding crops.

But when Local Land Services surveyed the district about the issue they found they lacked a combined pest management approach against pigs.

It wasn’t until 20 landholders gathered at the Premer pub to hear from Central West Local Land Services biosecurity officer Will Thorncraft that they decided to establish a pest management group and join with National Parks and North West LLS to tackle the problem. . . 

 


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

08/06/2021

Big rain, big pain, big cost – Canterbury’s week of flooding devastation – Martin van Beynen:

An intensively farmed region of Canterbury lying between the north branch of the Ashburton/Hakatere and Hinds rivers was one of the hardest-hit by this week’s floods. Reporter MARTIN VAN BEYNEN spent four days in the area assessing the impact.

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury knew it would be bad.

When the MetService issued a red alert for the Canterbury region on Friday, May 28, they prepared for some sleepless nights and a rough weekend.

The MetService warned that 200-300 millimetres of rain was expected to “accumulate” about the high country between 3pm on Saturday and 11am on Monday. The rain would cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, the agency said. . . 

Flood took my farm – Annette Scott:

The storm has eased and the carnage is emerging on Darryl Butterick’s flood-stricken Ashburton Forks property.

Farming deer, sheep and beef across two separate properties between the North and South branches of the Ashburton River, Butterick was smack bang in the middle, copping the breakout of both rivers.

“We got it right up the ass, that’s for sure,” Butterick said.

Two-thirds of his deer farm, carrying 500 hinds and sire stags, was under water. . . 

Farming leaders focus on Canty clean-up – Neal Wallace:

Offers of help are coming thick and fast for Canterbury flood victims, but farming leaders say they are still trying to collate exactly what is needed and where.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Caroline Amyes says much activity is happening behind the scenes.

“We are all working in the background to collaborate and to have a unified approach,” Amyes said.

The groups coordinating the response include Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trust, rural advisers, Civil Defence, Ministry of Primary Industries, the feed source hotline, Environment Canterbury, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

Amyes says the Rural Support Trust is collating needs and the Government’s $500,000 grant has enabled a co-ordinator to be employed to match offers with need and arrange logistics. . . 

Northland SNA plan: Kāeo residents up in arms at packed public meeting – Peter de Graaf:

A plan to designate more than 40 per cent of the Far North as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) is a big disincentive to people who already look after their land, speaker after speaker told a packed public meeting in Kāeo.

More than 200 people turned out on Thursday evening to share their concerns about a proposed expansion of the district’s SNAs, a day after close to 500 people attended a similar meeting in Kawakawa.

Many of those at the Kāeo meeting said they already protected native bush by planting, pest control and fencing — but the SNA plan, which could limit use of their properties, had given them second thoughts.

Ahipara’s Danny Simms said he loved his land and didn’t need anyone to tell him to look after it. . . 

Global food prices rise at rapid rate in May:

Global food prices rose at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade in May, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has reported.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 127.1 points in May, 4.8% higher than in April and 39.7% higher than in May 2020.

A surge in the international prices of vegetable oils, sugar and cereals led the increase in the index to its highest value since September 2011 and only 7.6% below its all-time peak in nominal terms.

The FAO Cereal Price Index increased 6% from April, led by international maize prices, which averaged 89.9% above their value a year earlier. . .

A season of outstanding quality for New Zealand winegrowers:

After a smaller than usual harvest this year, New Zealand winemakers are excited about the excellent fruit and wine quality, though careful management of inventory is required to meet escalating global demand.

Spring was cooler than usual in 2021, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

The globally renowned wine-growing region of Marlborough was hit especially hard by these frosts. As an area famous for the quality of its wine – particularly Sauvignon Blanc -– this shortage of grapes has created a number of downstream implications for the wine industry, both here in New Zealand as well as internationally. . . 


Rural round-up

07/06/2021

‘More insulting than nothing’ – Govt cash not enough to fix single flood-struck station – Amber Allot:

Farmers in the Canterbury high country are dismissing as “woefully inadequate” a $500,000 fund from the government to restore their stations after they were hammered by rain.

Canterbury was battered by torrential rain on Saturday afternoon, with no reprieve until Monday evening. For some areas, up to half the usual annual rainfall fell in two days.

It has devastated much of the region, leaving huge swathes of land under water, animals dead and properties flooded, forcing many evacuations.

Rail and road infrastructure is also badly damaged, with repairs likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, while the region’s farmers face a huge clean-up bill. . . 

Rabbits not on Government’s radar – Jacqui Dean:

 Last year, $315 million dollars was directed to pest and weed control as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion Jobs for Nature programme. The fact that none of this money has gone towards targeting rabbits leaves me bewildered.

The recent images coming in from Australia of mice in their millions threatening homes and farms across New South Wales has been shocking to many New Zealanders.

But for people across large parts of the South Island, a plague of pests is their reality too, with rabbits running rampant across parts of North Otago, Central Otago and further afield.

Rabbits are an ecological disaster. . . 

Feds survey: Branch closures add to farmers’ bank concerns:

Concern about branch closures can be added to the continued slide in farmers’ satisfaction with their banks, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

More than 1,100 farmers responded to the May survey and 71% of them said they were concerned about bank branch closures. Of those who were concerned, 42% said they needed branches to carry out their business and 56% were worried about the impact of closures on their local communities.

“Provincial towns are under all sorts of pressures, with workforce gaps, farms jobs disappearing as productive land is planted out in pines for carbon credits, competition from on-line sales trends that all traditional retailers face, to name some of the factors,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“Bank branch closures are just another hit on confidence, making doing business in rural areas that much harder, and another reason for young people to look to cities for their future when agriculture is the main way New Zealand earns its living in the world.” . . 

Farmers flock to see Wiltshire wool-less sheep benefits – Maja Burry:

It is hoped a multi-year study on a research farm near Masterton will give farmers a better understanding of the benefits and costs of shifting to a wool-less flock.

Massey University animal science professor Steve Morris said with the increased costs of shearing and ongoing poor returns for strong wool, many farmers were considering a transition to Wiltshire sheep, which naturally shed their fleece.

Morris said farmers were getting about $2-$2.50 a kilogram for crossbred wool and modelling showed prices needed to double for farmers to break even and cover the costs of shearing.

“We’re a long way off that and shearing costs are going up.” . . 

Plant & Food Research mentoring initiative wins HRNZ Award:

Our in-house mentoring initiative won the award for Learning and Development Capability at The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) national awards.

The initiative provides a formal system to create more value and impact from mentoring relationships among staff. Since a successful pilot of the programme in 2018, 70 mentoring relationships have been established

During the programme participants explore their career aspirations with their mentor and create a development plan. Included is a 2-day opening workshop, mentoring sessions throughout the year and a closing workshop. . . 

Biocontrol gene tech set to shred mice population – Samantha Townsend:

A technique that exploits the natural mating process in mice, which has previously been proven in insects is being explored to help reduce populations.

The technology aims to pass on an increased proportion of males genes to reduce the number of females to keep populations at manageable levels.

“The new technology we are trying to develop in mice is the same that we’ve had some success in this area for insects for malaria control,” lead researcher Professor Paul Thomas from the University of Adelaide said.

“The idea is that we using the natural mating process of mice to spread genetic traits through the population.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/05/2021

Water plan, rates draw farmers’ ire – Hamish MacLean:

Court costs for water plan changes at the Environment Court could easily run into the millions and should be paid from Otago Regional Council reserves, Federated Farmers says.

The farmer group also slammed rates increases proposed by the council yesterday.

Regional councillors heard submissions on their 2021-31 long-term plan in Dunedin, Queenstown, and via videoconferencing in the first day of two days of scheduled hearings yesterday.

About 560 submissions were received, and about 100 people and organisations wanted to deliver their submission verbally. . .

Generation Next graduate shares passion for farming with school leavers :

As part of B+LNZ’s commitment to attracting talented and motivated young people into the red meat sector, we co- funded the Leaving School magazine received by senior school students in every secondary school throughout the country. In this story, young and eager farm worker, Alex De’Lay shares his passion for farming and advice to school leavers.

This story was published in the Leaving School magazine which gets distributed for free to senior school students in every secondary school throughout New Zealand.

Working on a farm in Southland has been a positive change of lifestyle for English-born Alex De’Lay.

He arrived from his home in Northumberland, England in October 2017 on a working holiday. 

It seems nothing can stop his commitment to farming and learning as much as he can about the industry – not even losing an eye in an accident involving a firework just three weeks after he arrived in New Zealand. . . 

Agribuisness career the goal – Shawn McAvinue:

Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and their future plans. This week, he speaks to Otago University student Dominic Morrison (18), of Queenstown.

University of Otago student Dominic Morrison is targeting a career in agribusiness — in between “jumping and twirling” in an all-male ballet troupe.

The first-year law and economics student used his $5000 Meat Industry Association scholarship to pay for his stay at residential hall Selwyn College on campus in Dunedin.

The price to stay in the hall includes the cost of a ballet uniform. . . 

Industry advocacy far from muted!– Andrew Morrison, Jim van der Poel, and Andrew Hoggard:

Agricultural organisations are often at the pointy end of criticism.

We exist to act in the best interests of our farmers – as individuals and the sector’s future as a collective. That can be a hard balancing act. To secure a future where the sector thrives and supports our communities and the New Zealand economy, we have to advocate with government.

We all know dairy, sheep and beef sectors have seen their fair share of regulatory changes in recent times. That’s tough and we all know it brings challenges which are confronting and not always welcome.

In the face of significant proposed change, we have advocated clearly for policies that work on the farm. Are we going to win them all? No. And have the outcomes been perfect? No.

Weather adds to trial and tribulations at sheep dog comp – Hugo Cameron:

Man’s best friend has been battling through rain, wind and snow to get the job done at the national Sheep Dog Trial Championships in Southland this week.

More than 500 dogs and 300 trainers were vying for the top spot at the almost week-long trials, hosted on a farm north of Gore by the Greenvale club.

Southland Dog Trial Association spokesperson Maria Hurrell said, despite some rough conditions, everyone had been having fun.

The week had been plagued by frost, rain, “cold, bitterly” wind, and some snow – but that hadn’t stopped competitors from flocking to Greenvale from around the country, she said. . . 

Mice plague ravaging farms in NSW and southern Queensland scurries south to Victoria .-

As the worst mouse plague in decades continues to ravage farms across New South Wales and southern Queensland, large numbers of mice are travelling south and making their way into Victoria.

Don Hearn owns a beef cattle farm and vineyard just east of Barham, in New South Wales near the Victorian border.

He said over the past three to four weeks, mice numbers had increased on his property and were causing damage. 

“It’s certainly not as bad as a little further north, but with most plagues, they start in the north and work their way south.” . . 


Rural round-up

22/05/2021

Feds slam Govt’s immigration plans –  Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers are urging farmers with staffing shortages to write to the Government to outline the effect it was having on their businesses.

The move comes after two announcements from the Government over the past few weeks concerning immigration.

It firstly denied an application by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to bring in 500 skilled migrants to work on dairy farms.

Instead, it approved 125 agricultural machinery operators, below the 400 that is needed. . . 

Treasury to review forestry policy – Neal Wallace:

The Government has approved the sale of 32,644ha of farmland to foreign buyers since 2018 for conversion to forestry under its special policy that encourages overseas investment into the sector.

Information provided by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reveals it approved through the forestry test the purchase by foreign investors of 30 livestock farms for conversion to forestry, and a further 35 existing forestry blocks covering 111,517ha.

The special forestry test was introduced in 2018 as part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement, which effectively streamlines the OIO process for foreign entities wanting to invest in forestry.

The policy is about to be reviewed by the Treasury, says an OIO spokesperson. . . 

South coping with the long dry – Sally Blundell :

The parched paddocks of farms on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula have run out of moisture – nothing is growing. Farmers fear climate change has arrived and have begun adapting the way they work the land.

Tim Davie, director of science at Environment Canterbury, pauses in a stony gulley, a narrow trough between banks of browning grass. It was not what he expected to see.

“I was hoping to show you some water on the Port Hills of Banks Peninsula,” he tells Frank Film. “But there’s nothing here. Normally this pond would be full of water, up to my waist. On the western flank of Pigeon Bay, Edward Aitken of Craigforth farm walks across the parched ground of his sheep and cattle farm. The scenery is dramatic, the hills a uniform brown against a relentlessly blue sky. “These paddocks would normally have new grass and established greenfield crops. They’ve been fallow now since last November. There is absolutely no moisture in the sub-soil.” . .

Budget 2021: Federated Farmers welcome funding, Dairy NZ says it missed the mark:

Biosecurity, agricultural emissions research and farm planning were areas that received a funding boost in yesterday’s Budget.

On the agricultural emissions front, $24 million was committed to research and mitigation technology development, which could include things like methane inhibitors and the breeding of low emission animals.

Meanwhile, $37m would go towards a national farm planning system for farmers and growers, in line with the government’s plan for all farms to have written plans to measure and manage emissions by the end of 2024.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in order to meet its climate and environmental goals, there needed to be a single, easy to use framework. . . 

Women in seed forum :

A recent turn out of women engaged in employment within the Seed Industry shows the future of diversity within the sector is looking good.

The second NZGSTA Women in Seed Forum was held at Riccarton Park Function Centre on the 19th of May and attended by 108 women from the Seed Industry. The roles of these women varied from agronomists, lab technicians, logistics roles, administrative roles, account managers, research technicians, grain traders, farmers and those passionate about the grain and seed industries.

Developed and hosted by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, Executive Councillor Charlotte Connoley said “the purpose of the forum was to provide more opportunities for networking amongst women within the industry in addition to providing a platform for further discussion and collaboration around key challenges and opportunities that face the grain and seed industries.” . . 

Here Come The Girls: Cork students clinch 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition title

Five teenage girls at St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill – who come from non-farming backgrounds – have just been crowned overall winners of the 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition.

Emily O’Donovan, Kelsey Hourigan, Helen Savage, Leah Buckley, and Rachel O’Gorman explored the topic ‘Communicating with the Consumer & Producer’ throughout the course of their 18-month project for the competition.

And, in an effort to educate consumers on the beef process, they created an App called ‘Angus Adventures’ which is available to download from Google Play.

The App focuses on the daily tasks of a farmer in an effort to inform consumers of the work and dedication required to produce Certified Irish Angus beef from farm to fork. . . 


Rural round-up

21/05/2021

Owners upset over landscape changes – Rebecca Ryan:

Waitaki rural residents have reacted with concern to letters sent by the district council to nearly 2000 landowners about proposed changes to mapping in the district plan review.

Earlier this month, Waitaki District Council chief executive Fergus Power sent letters to affected landowners, advising them the new district plan would increase the level of protection for “significant natural areas”, “outstanding and significant natural features”, “outstanding natural landscapes” and “sites and areas of significance to Maori” on their land.

The letters also included maps of the new protective overlays on their properties, and a link to a survey for feedback.

Federated Farmers North Otago president Jared Ross said the letters did not contain enough information and, for most landowners, the proposed changes came as a surprise. . . 

Concern over forestry spread – Neal Wallace:

The Government has been accused of failing to fulfil election promises to protect quality soils from forest planting and to review the favourable treatment of foreign forestry investors.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says the Government promised to revise the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) to require resource consent for proposed forestry blocks larger than 50ha on class 1-5 soil but has not yet done so.

“We were told they would,” Hoggard said.

The Government has announced terms of reference for a review of the Overseas Investment Act (OIA), which provides favourable treatment of foreign forestry investors, but a report is not due until the end of next year. . . 

A promise is a promise :

NATIONAL’S spokesperson for Rural Communities Barbara Kuriger is backing yesterday’s call by Federated Farmers for the Government to deliver on its election promise to protect productive farmland.

“The Feds want a full review of government policies which are leading to the loss of productive farms, export income, employment and the undermining of rural communities,” she says.

“Labour pledged that if re-elected it would take less than six months to stop the rampant spread of large-scale exotic tree planting across the country.

“Feds president Andrew Hoggard is right when he says there are no signs at all the Government is seriously moving on this. A long-awaited review of the special forestry test for overseas investment also hasn’t got off the ground. . . 

New boss for Rural Women NZ

Rural Women New Zealand recently appointed Gabrielle O’Brient as its new chief executive.

“Gabrielle brings a wealth of experience from her previous general management roles in membership based organisations both in the charitable sector and most recently at the New Zealand Law Society,” RWNZ president Gill Naylor says.

“This experience combined with her earlier background human resources management, facilitation and organisation development provide her with a strong background to lead our team through the next phase of our development.” . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers managing to cope despite dry conditions – Maja Burry:

A recent survey of Hawke’s Bay farmers shows most finding ways to manage the dry conditions gripping the region.

Several areas on the country’s east coast are suffering with a second extremely dry year, prompting the government to unlock some funding support last month.

The Hawke’s Bay Rural Support Trust recently called about 30 farmers across the region and reported its findings to the local rural advisory group.

Group co-chair Lochie MacGillivray said meaningful rain and a mild winter was still very much needed, but at the moment farmers felt like they were in an adequate position. . . 

Are you leaving a farming legacy or a liability?

It’s sadly a familiar story in the rural community, someone dies and a family falls out over what happens next. Emotions run high and a sense of what is fair or appropriate can’t be agreed upon.

In fact, a death, retirement or a change in circumstances can bring about an unexpectedly time-consuming or complicated succession process even when everyone is amicable and in agreement.

The decision so many farming families put off making – what will happen when it’s time for someone else to take over – can be the difference between a farm business thriving, or struggling, for generations to come.

Leaving your farm to succeed is a matter of good planning, and getting those plans in place should be given the weight of importance it deserves. . .


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