Rural round-up

25/11/2022

Unacceptable’: Primary sector slams govt emissions thinking – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand’s largest primary sector bodies and companies have labelled as unacceptable and unworkable the government’s proposal for pricing greenhouse gases.

Their individual submissions have common concerns: the social and economic impact, establishing a greenhouse gas price, sequestration and food security.

The groups are also signatories to the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) submission, apart from Federated Farmers which, while broadly supportive, has doubled down on its opposition to the government’s proposals.

The federation details three principles it says the government must adhere to. It requires a scientific target to be set for methane based on no additional warming by 2050; incentives for the adoption of viable and cost-effective mitigation options; and ensuring that policies do not create emission leakages or reduce food production. . . .

Pining for change – Rural News Group :

Over the coming weeks, government officials will start going through the raft of submissions on their bosses’ proposal to tax farmers on agricultural emissions.

What they will likely find is that very few farmers and primary industry groups are impressed with what has been proposed – judging by the outcry from rural NZ. The question is: Will the Government listen?

Damien O’Connor claims the Government and farmers are not that far apart and that with some tweaking and compromising it can all be fixed amicably. That seems a long bow.

Most farmers are very cynical when they hear this Government talking about consultation – especially when it comes to complex changes written by bureaucrats. The documents are long and complex and no serious attempt has been made by the Government to make the changes remotely understandable for the average farmer, whose livelihood and community faces potential ruin at the hands of the anti-farming lobby. . . 

Tension in the rural sector :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows 97 fewer farm sales (-35.9%) for the three months ended October 2022 than for the three months ended October 2021. Overall, there were 173 farm sales in the three months ended October 2022, the same number as in September 2022; in the three months ended October 2021 there were 270 farm sales.

1,501 farms were sold in the year to October 2022, 284 fewer than were sold in the year to October 2021, with 7.2% fewer Dairy farms, 20.4% fewer Dairy Support, 16.0% fewer Grazing farms, 13.2% fewer Finishing farms and the same number of Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to October 2022 was $25,270 compared to $31,360 recorded for three months ended October 2021 (-19.4%). The median price per hectare increased by 9.8% compared to September 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased by 1.7% in the three months to October 2022 compared to the three months to September 2022. Compared to the three months ending October 2021, the REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased by 1.6%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . . .

 

Return of arable grower confidence in milling wheat :

Farmer confidence in the prospects for milling wheat is on the upswing, with the 11,113 hectares already sown or intending to be sown up 44% on last season.

“That brings milling wheat hectares back very close to the 11,798ha harvested in 2021, before grower confidence was severely dented by changed buying practices by the mills and to a lesser extent poor conditions during last season’s grainfill,” Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson, Grains, Andrew Darling says.

The just-released October Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) report found that both unsold and sold stored milling wheat was down on the same time last year, and that around 53% has been forward sold compared to 36% in October 2021.

“It’s pleasing to see farmer confidence in milling wheat rally, especially given the industry’s ambitions for New Zealand to lift its production of this staple,” Andrew says. . . 

Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie launch ‘Eau de Dagg’ fragrance for a good cause – The Country:

Nadia Lim’s farming television show may have finished its first season but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped supporting rural New Zealand.

The celebrity chef has launched a cheeky new room fragrance to fundraise for mental health charity, Rural Support Trust.

However, some consumers may find the scent a little bit daggy, even though it’s for a good cause.

“Eau de Dagg” was created using essential oils made from the wool dags from Lim’s sheep. . . .

Design academic turns the spotlight on woolsheds :

A Massey University lecturer and design expert is focusing attention on the importance of preserving New Zealand’s most historic, colourful and community-oriented woolsheds.

Federated Farmers is helping Dr Annette O’Sullivan raise the $30,000 she needs to complete her book.

Annette says she feels a sense of urgency to getting the book completed, as so many iconic woolsheds are being lost due to changes in land use and sheep farming.

The funding will be used to commission world-class photography of woolsheds from award-winning New Zealand photographer Jane Ussher, who is already well known for her beautiful work capturing New Zealand’s iconic homesteads. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/11/2022

Feds breaks ranks on HWEN – Sudesh Kissun:

The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and Māori Agribusiness Partners are calling on the Government to change key aspects of its proposal on agricultural emissions pricing.

However, Federated Farmers has decided not to back the joint submission from the 10 partners.

It recommends changes that would develop an emissions pricing system that creates incentives and opportunities to reduce agricultural emissions while maintaining the viability of the primary sector.

The submission recommends changes to price setting, governance and transitional arrangements that would see decision-making on emissions pricing balance the socio-economic impacts on the primary sector and wider economy with emissions reductions.  . .

HWEN partners question methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector wants the government to review its methane targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

This is included in the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) submission on the government-proposed pricing structure, saying new targets that reflect the latest scientific evidence are needed before the sector starts to be charged in 2025.

Methane targets were legislated by Parliament in 2019 as part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act, requiring the sector to reduce emissions 10% below 2017 levels by 2030 and by 24-47% below 2017 levels by 2050.

The HWEN submission pulls few punches, saying the government’s changes are not acceptable to the partnership and the growers and farmers they represent. . . 

Emissions plan: DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ – The Country :

No deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to pricing agricultural emissions, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says

DairyNZ had made a submission in the emissions plan and hoped for a response from the Government, van der Poel told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We had to go into this next stage in good faith because our primary objective is still to get a solution here and put this to bed.

“We’ve been talking about this since 2004 and it’s not going to go away.” . . 

Cherry on top growers feeling “positive”, expecting record volumes of fruit :

Central Otago cherry growers are expecting record volumes of fruit this season.

45 South Cherries chief executive Tim Jones said now that they had survived October’s nasty weather, they had been able to assess crops, and fruit volumes may be double that of past years.

New plantings were coming into their own, he said.

“The last three years have been pretty disappointing crops but all those trees that have been planted in the past five or six will really hit their straps this year.

“Last year the industry exported a little over three thousand tonnes and I would suggest this year it could be at least five or six thousand,” he said. . . 

It’s time to resolve carbon forest conflicts –  Dean Baigent-Mercer :

 Forestry is back in the spotlight. After years of being on the margins, forestry has come full-circle and is again at the heart of discussions about New Zealand’s future. Why? Because of climate change and biodiversity. The opportunity is exciting but there are issues to resolve. A key question is native versus exotic forestry carbon sinks.

The world risks overshooting its climate change targets. We need to stop using fossil fuels, cut emissions and store increasing amounts of carbon in forests, wetlands and other natural carbon sinks for centuries to come.

New Zealand forestry has been quick to act and respond. New Zealand has gone down the pine forest carbon storage route as a relatively fast and cheap way to store carbon.

But it’s clear that this is no longer a viable path. The Climate Change Commission has advised that we must stop relying on pines to store carbon and instead rely on permanent carbon sinks in native forests. Pine planting may appeal in the short term, but a large blaze can release a carbon bomb. There is increasing evidence that pine-based carbon sinks will end up being stranded assets or uninsurable. . .

Rural tourism business finalist at New Zealand Tourism Awards :

“The future of rural tourism is bright”, say Will and Rose Parsons of Driftwood Eco Tours, finalists of the 2022 New Zealand Tourism Awards for community engagement.

The annual New Zealand Tourism Awards, hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa in Hamilton, highlights excellence in tourism and helps operators aspire to greater customer service.

Driftwood Eco Tours was delighted to be one of three finalists for the community engagement category.

Operating since 2004, Driftwood Eco Tours is based in Kaikōura, but runs small group, multi-day tours throughout the upper South Island and on offshore islands, offering guests the chance to visit and experience some of New Zealand’s most isolated rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

21/11/2022

Farming Forever NZ: Syndicate seeks investors to save iconic Mangaohane Station – The Country :

A syndicate is banding together to try and save Mangaohane Station from being lost to pine trees.

The iconic 4840-hectare property runs 40,000 stock units northeast of Taihape, and is up for sale by international tender, closing next month.

The syndicate, Farming Forever NZ, is trying to crowdfund the nearly $40 million price tag, asking potential investors to pitch in to try and stop Mangaohane Station from being purchased by overseas buyers and planted out in pine trees for carbon credits or forestry.

Mike Barham, the man behind the syndicate, said he’d rather stay in the background, but could no longer stay silent. . . 

Lake Onslow not ideal for battery lake, cost ‘vastly understated’ – Contact Energy –

Contact Energy has warned the government against the development of the large-scale Lake Onslow scheme, which would provide some battery backup in dry years.

Chairperson Rob McDonald told shareholders at Contact’s annual meeting this morning it would cost an estimated $42 billion to reach 100 percent renewable energy across all generation, transmission and distribution assets, according to an independent report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Contact would play its part in the development, but the government must carefully consider how its potential interventions will impact investment in new generation, such as the Lake Onslow scheme, he said.

Contact had a direct interest in the specifics of the Otago region’s Lake Onslow, with the proposed intake and outlet impacting water flows at its Roxburgh dam. . . 

Snowdonia farmer warns country is ‘sleepwalking’ towards food shortages – Rhys Gregory:

FARMERS have warned of impending food shortages as the cost of living crisis impacts on food production.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a farmer from Snowdonia, told GB News today that producers are reducing their output due to the increased cost of fuel, fertiliser and feed.

He said: “We’re sleepwalking into food shortages and that’s a fact.

“I could take you to ten farms in the surrounding area now that are turning down their production – chicken farmers, egg producers, milk producers, even beef and lamb because feed prices are going through the roof. . . 

MilkTechNZ brings home Company-X Innovation Award :

The Waikato’s technology sector is in growth mode and emerging agri-tech MilkTechNZ just proved it.

The Te Rapa, Hamilton, company invented wireless milking shed cup removers in the last year, earning it a double whammy at the Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards on November 4.

MilkTechNZ chief executive Gustavo Garza was presented with the Chief Executive of the Year Award after receiving the Company-X Innovation Award from Company-X co-founder and director Jeremy Hughes.

“It is great to see MilkTechNZ win the Company-X Innovation Award with a digital technology innovation,” Hughes said. . .

Farmers told to sign up for connectivity help :

Federated Farmers is urging its members struggling with poor and unreliable internet connectivity to sign up for government assistance under the Remote Users Scheme announced today.

“We know from the responses we get from our annual rural connectivity survey that this announcement will be appreciated by a significant number of farmers and growers,” Federated Farmers telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“They are pulling their hair out trying to run a business with bad internet.”

According to Feds’ own data the assistance on offer could help at least 1 in 3 farmers who have to live with download speeds of less than 10mbps. . . 

COP27, climate change, & global meat-phobia – Meg Chatham:

“There are just two actions needed to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown: leave fossil fuels in the ground and stop farming animals,” writes Monbiot. And as you can guess, here is where he and I deviate as keyboard warriors in the discussion of COP27, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, sponsored by Coca-Cola, the world’s top fossil fuel-based, plastic polluter.

He calls for the elimination of livestock and a farm-free future.

I call for the elimination of overly simplistic, techno-utopian visions that would undermine millions of people’s livelihoods, destroy local economies, and cause more harm than good, especially in places where livestock are an integral part of sustainable, agro-ecosystems.

Villainizing all livestock and advocating for radical shifts of diet and land use everywhere – and even being so bold to posit a future where protein is derived from large fermentation vats – is senseless. . . 


RMA replacement could make farming harder

16/11/2022

The Resource Management Act has been adding complications, expense and  frustration to anyone trying to build or develop.

Changes ought to be welcome but what’s been proposed could make farming harder:

Federated Farmers is worried proposed replacement resource management legislation focuses only on streamlining urban development and will make it harder, not easier, to farm in New Zealand.

“The government has gone out of its way to emphasise there will be less resource consents for infrastructure and housing. However down on the farm, it’s hard to see how the new law won’t see even more environmental red tape for farmers,” Feds national board member and resource management spokesperson Mark Hooper says.

“The proposed new Natural and Built Environment Bill includes a strict focus on the environment, a shift away from local democracy, decision making that is diluted into regional committees and a new framework for water allocation.”

The bill, which is now at select committee stage, is the first of three new pieces of legislation to replace the current Resource Management Act.

Resource management law needs to strike a balance between looking after the environment and allowing people to earn a living, Mark says.

“The proposed replacement Bill looks set to shift the focus away from current ‘sustainable management’ to a purpose statement that is singularly focused on environmental protection.”

Not only must resource use avoid impacts on the environment, it must now promote outcomes for the benefit of the environment.

This sounds like it’s been designed by people of the dark green persuasion who talk about sustainability but focus only on the environment without taking into account economic and social factors.

What will promoting outcomes for the benefit of the environment mean when renewing consents for taking water for irrigation, stock and housholds?

“Under the proposed new law it will be harder, not easier, for farmers to obtain resource consents.”

Federated Farmers argues New Zealand needs to wake up to the reality that our economy can no longer be taken for granted. In the last few years tourism, international education and the energy sector have suffered major setbacks.

The new Natural and Built Environment Bill now proposes to change how freshwater and other water is allocated in New Zealand.

“And now our big earner, agriculture, is staring down the barrel of emission charges that could see sheep and beef exports fall by 20 percent. Flawed resource management legislation, potentially putting more costs and delays for our producers on top of this, makes it tough to develop new economic sectors in our rural communities,” he says.

It won’t just make it hard to develop new economic sectors, it could threaten existing ones by making it harder to renew consents on which farmers depend to continue operating.

“That and the rise of blanket pine planting on productive farmland could be the final nail for many provincial towns.”

Those pines are an environmental disaster. They suck up groundwater which reduces flows in streams, provide a home for deer, possums and pigs and increase the potential for fires.

New Zealand has allocated resources in the past based on a ‘first in first served’ approach. The new Bill proposes allocating resources based on the principles of sustainability, efficiency and equity. The Bill states that a market-based approach must not be used for the taking of freshwater.

Does this mean an existing consent can be compromised if a later application is more sustainable, efficient or equitable?

“This change has come completely out of the blue for Federated Farmers.

“All farmers need water. Whether for irrigation, stock water, shed water and the ecological value it brings, it’s the lifeline farmers rely on, value and respect.

“Farmers are fatigued with the huge level of reform in the last three years, now isn’t the time to change the way water and nutrients are allocated in New Zealand.”

“Water allocation is an incredibly hard policy area to address. It’s worth having a process to discuss this, but the government has jumped straight to a conclusion, not bringing farmers with them. Options like market-based approaches shouldn’t be taken off the table without thorough consultation.”

Also of great concern to Federated Farmers and rural communities is that the new RMA bill accelerates the shift away from local decision making by elected representatives, in favour of centralising to 14 regional planning committees.

More centralisation, more bureaucracy and less local control and input are a hallmark of this government.


Rural round-up

15/11/2022

New taxes put rural communities at risk – Kathryn Wright:

Rural people in New Zealand are under attack.

In the last few weeks, many “experts” have been revealed within the topic of new requirements for New Zealand farms, which will inevitably devastate and diminish rural communities.

New taxes and stock reductions will ensure that around 20% of sheep and beef farms will collapse, and with them, a part of their community.

I’m going to discuss this loss of community and why it matters, rather than arguing the points themselves — which also deserve to be investigated more robustly as they seem to be only telling half of the story. . .

No magic bullet for methane: Prof :

Honorary professor Keith Woodford has doubts about the “hype” around adding seaweed in feed supplements to cut methane emissions from livestock.

Seaweed-based feed ingredients are among future solutions being highlighted to help farmers reduce methane emissions in cattle and their share of climate change.

Prof Woodford said it was hoped that bromoform in the seaweed would reduce methane production, but promoters of technical ruminant solutions were overlooking nutritional issues that made this unlikely.

‘‘Yes they will kill off the methanogens alright, but they will also flow into the milk. …. Some people don’t like that story because it spoils their story and their investment opportunity, but now that it’s there, gosh it’s pretty serious.“ . . .

Industry bodies resolve to advocate strongly for farmers:

This week, leaders from DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Federated Farmers met to discuss emissions pricing.

Leaving it until the last minute, the meeting comes the week before consultation closes on the Government’s proposed emissions pricing plan and follows some criticism that the three groups – via He Waka Eke Noa’s proposal to government – have not advocated strongly enough on farmers’ behalf.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says a united voice on emissions pricing is the best way to ensure positive policy outcomes for farmers.

“All three organisations have reaffirmed nine core principles that we will all be raising in our submissions and through the He Waka Eke Noa partnership,” he says. . .

Inspiring the future of rural health :

The Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme is inspiring the next generation of health professionals, whether they are just beginning tertiary study and have not considered medicine, or if they are medical students who had not considered practicing rurally.

The Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme’s final Rural School Visits for 2022 will take place over multiple regions this November, visiting both schools and medical practices to foster connections with rural communities.

28 tertiary students will embark on tours throughout Northland, Waikato, and Taranaki regions, where they will engage with secondary students from a range of rural schools through interactive presentations, demonstrations, and workshops. From November 14-18, two groups will travel to rural schools throughout upper and lower Northland, while two further groups will meet with rural students in Waikato and Taranaki November 21-25.

In between school presentations, the volunteers will also visit rural medical practices where they will see and experience first-hand the lifestyle and value of rural medicine, as well as engaging with rural Health Professionals. Five practices are booked for visits with more to come. . . .

Farmers proud to be guardians of ancient drawings – Country Life:

In South Canterbury, there are hundreds of Māori drawings on limestone rock – some of which could be up to 1,000 years old.

Peter Evans believes it was his grandfather who discovered the ancient drawings on cliffs that overlook his Pareora Gorge sheep and beef farm.

His grandfather developed an interest in rock art beyond what was on the family farm and passed his curiosity on to his children.

“He and his children in the 1920s went searching the area for rock drawings … as they knew they were special and unique,”  Peter says. . . 

Fed-up farmers: why US government will put us out of business – Mary Kay Linge :

Within the next few months, the United States is projected to import more agricultural products than it exports for the first time in history — a worrisome development for America’s family farmers, who say government meddling threatens their livelihoods and the nation’s food security.

“The United States has never had any trouble feeding itself and much of the world, too,” said upstate New York farmer Tim Stanton. “I guess the politicians just figure we’ll keep going no matter what they do to us.

“But, you know, there is a limit.”

Farmers all over New York and New Jersey say they are being pushed to those limits by President Biden’s attack on energy, Gov. Hochul’s labor betrayal, foreign competition and other woes. Here, five of them describe their challenges. . .

 


Ag bodies united

11/11/2022

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are speaking with one voice on the government’s plan to tax farm emissions.

Their email to farmers says:

This week the leaders of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, and Federated Farmers met in Christchurch to discuss emissions pricing and to establish common positions between our three organisations so we can move forward together and advocate strongly on behalf of farmers.  

A united voice on emissions pricing is the best way to ensure positive policy outcomes for farmers.

The government’s proposal is so bad it’s achieved something – uniting the agricultural industry against it.

It was a productive discussion and all three organisations have agreed on the following core principles that we will all be raising directly with the Government on your behalf:

    1. The current methane targets are wrong and need to be reviewed. Any target should be science-based, not political, and look to prevent additional warming. 
    2. The methane price should be set at the minimum level needed and be fixed for a five-year period to give farmers certainty.
    3.  Any levy revenue must be ringfenced and only be used for the administration of the system, investment in R&D, or go back to farmers as incentives. Administration costs must be minimised. 
    4. The future price should be set by the Minister on the advice of an independent oversight board appointed by all He Waka Eke Noa partners. 
    5. The system must incentivise farmers to uptake technology and adopt good farming practices that will reduce global emissions. 
    6. All sequestration that can be measured and is additive should be counted. We stand by what was proposed by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership on sequestration. 
    7. Farmers should be able to form collectives to measure, manage, and report their emissions in an efficient way. 
    8. Farmers who don’t have access to mitigations or sequestration should be able to apply for temporary levy relief if the viability of their business is threatened.
    9. We will not accept emissions leakage. The way to prevent that happening is by getting the targets, price, sequestration, incentives, and other settings right.

Our organisations are all united in our determination to get the best possible outcome we can and will continue to work closely together as we advocate for farmers. 

Individual organisations will continue to raise sector specific issues.

This is good progress but will the government listen?

And if it doesn’t will the government do what Richard Harmen says it could?:

. . . However, the Government holds the whip hand; it can simply impose a so-called processor levy on farmers, which would see all milk and meat levied by the dairy company or meat works that processed it.

That would lump everyone in together with no reward for those doing the best work and no extra costs for those doing nothing.

It would add costs that will cripple some farms and lead to thousands of job losses in businesses that service and supply them;  it would also lead to the loss of billions of dollars in export income and for what?

Even if there was no carbon leakage there would be no significant reduction in carbon emissions and if there was carbon leakage emissions would increase.

If climate change is as important an issue as the government says it is, it must listen to the agriculture industry and come up with a policy that will endure.

Its current plans won’t, if it accepts what these organisations are asking for and works with them, it might.

 


Rural round-up

07/11/2022

A considered refutation of the farm emissions tax and the ETS – Alastair Boyce :

Like many New Zealanders I was bewildered by the Jacinda Ardern government media announcement to tax farmers as the primary tool toward meeting Emission Trading Scheme targets. It seemed anathema to me, and I sought alternative perspectives and a reality and fact check.

By chance perspective presented themselves in the form of farming and forestry friends with conservation, hunting and fishing experience. These guys go all the way back to Rob Muldoon and ‘Think Big’. This group have lived and breathed New Zealand’s mountains, bush, streams, rivers, sea, forests and fields.

In the following discourse I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing, interspersing commentary with documentary narrative recorded in notes from our conversations and discussions.

The Discourse

This is referred to as “the water story”. In relation to the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) the government is providing scant consideration of this valuable resource. Carbon forestry uses considerably more water than farming and in perpetuity (i.e., forever). Hydro electricity generation and efficient farming irrigation are permanent losers. . . 

Feds say farmers just fed up :

Federated Farmers is clear that farmers should carry out winter grazing in a responsible manner and in no way encourages farmers to break the law. But when pathways are limited and full of roadblocks, people simply become frustrated says Federated Farmers Winter Grazing spokesperson Colin Hurst.

For the last two years, the Government has promised that farmers wanting to undertake winter grazing would have three Pathways available to them, Permitted Activity Pathway, a Certified Farm Plan Pathway, and a Resource Consent Pathway. In March 2021 Ministers O’Connor and Parker, and April 2021 Minister O’Connor promised that the farm plan pathway would be available in 2022 ready for the 2023 winter.

“Despite these promises, the alternative farm plan pathway is not available and is not expected to be ready for some time”.

This ultimately leaves thousands of farmers requiring a resource consent to comply with rules. Ministers have delayed the Winter Grazing regulations twice in recognition of the alternative farm plan pathway was not ready. Federated Farmers called for the regulations to be delayed until the farm plan pathway was available to farmers to avoid the enormous consent burden on councils and farmers. . . 

Farm expenditure and inflation set to impact profit margins :

Despite a positive forecast for global sheepmeat and beef demand, an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ profit margins.

That’s according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) New Season Outlook 2022-23 report.

B+LNZ chief economist Andrew Burtt says that with high market prices for sheepmeat and beef globally, and a low NZ dollar, farmgate prices are relatively strong for sheep and beef farmers.

He says beef cattle pricing in particular will drive revenue for the season. . . 

New Zealand’s top butchers announced :

The results are now in from the National Butchery Awards which took place today at the Due Drop Events Centre, in Auckland.

Brad Gillespie from New World Rototuna in Hamilton has won the prestigious Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year title and Rhys Tamanui from Waipawa Butchery in Hawkes Bay was crowned ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year. The Black Gloves – a team made up of butchers from Australia – claimed victory at the Pure South Master Butcher Teams’ Challenge.

Brad says he is beside himself with his win. “The talent was outstanding today and to take out the win is just amazing. I am always keen to do my business proud so to finally tick off winning the Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year is incredible.”

Finalists were chosen from four regional competitions held during September in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, involving over 40 competitors. The final six included wild card entries in each category and with knives sharpened and bandsaws humming, competitors put on a spectacular battle of the butchers while friends and family looked on. . . 

Alun Kilby crowned 2022 Young Winemaker of the the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco in Marlborough for becoming the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year.

Alun, 28, is Production Winemaker at Marisco. He has worked in the New Zealand wine industry for 13 years from Auckland to Central Otago before settling in Marlborough and is thrilled to take out this prestigious title. He is passionate and driven and says he is committed to continuously improving the way we make wine and distribute it to the world.

Congratulations also to Georgia Mehlhopt from Greystone for coming second. Georgia is the first person from North Canterbury to compete in the National Final and did herself and her region proud.

Four talented young winemakers from around the country competed on Thursday 3 November at Kim Crawford winery in Blenheim. The other contestants were Douw Grobler from Trinity Hill in Hawke’s Bay and Eliana Leal from Amisfield in Central Otago. . . 

 

Intelligent farm robot :

The world population will hit 10 billion around the year 2050. We must use our farmland efficiently in order to feed everyone, and one solution is to employ autonomous robots. 

One of these robots is an “intelligent sharpshooter” that can distinguish crops from weeds — and then it shoots them with the appropriate treatment. Because of such high precision, the robot uses 95% less chemicals than traditional sprayers.

The robot also scans the entire farm and is able to geolocate each plant accurately within centimeters.


Rural round-up

04/11/2022

Southland consent boycott grows – Neal Wallace:

Nearly two-thirds of the 3500 Southland farms (pāmu) that intensively winter-graze stock may need resource consent, according to the ACT Party.

But for some of those farmers (kaimahi pāmu), that will be irrelevant, with about 1000 who attended a meeting in Invercargill last week supporting action that ignores the requirement to get consent for winter grazing.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there is no compulsion to take this approach, but the federation’s executive has agreed not to seek resource consent to show solidarity with farmers who take a similar stance.

“People will now know if they make a decision not to apply for consent, they are not the only person operating illegally.” . . 

Costs subdue sheep, beef outlook – Sally Rae:

The outlook for global sheepmeat and beef demand is positive for the 2022-23 season, although an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ margins, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s new season outlook report says.

In Otago-Southland, gross farm revenue was forecast to drop 4.5% to average $654,900 per farm, driven by lower sheep revenue, which was forecast to decline 7.7%.

That decline was driven by lower sheep prices, fewer store lambs sold and reduced lambing percentages because of drought conditions in autumn.

Snow storms in early October were also likely to impact lambing results for many, especially high and hill country farms. . . 

a2 Milk gets approval from American food authorities to break into the US infant formula market – Point of Order :

The  a2 Milk  Company has  made a  breakthrough  into  the lucrative  US  market, winning approval  from the  US  Food  and  Drug  Administration to  market  its infant formula product  in  the  US.

The company will be  able  to take  advantage  of  the  shortage  of  supply   there  because  one  of  the  main  local  manufacturers  went  out of  production.  Another  beneficiary   will be  Synlait  Milk  which  manufactures  infant formula   for  a2Milk.

Previously   a2 Milk has  been  limited  to  marketing  its  liquid  product  in  the  US.

Now, once  it  gets  a  foothold  in the  US  for  its  infant  formula,  it could  get  a  sharp  boost  to  its  revenue. In   its  most  recent  year, it  achieved  a net  profit  of  $114m,  59%  ahead of the  previous  year. . . 

Letting go of the reins – Russell Priest

Letting go of the reins can be hard for many farmers, but Mairi Whittle says her dad was happy to step back and take orders.

Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle has no regrets her dad, Jim threw her in at the deep end when she returned to the family farm, Makatote, 24km northeast of Taihape four years ago.

The 32-year-old Lincoln graduate and ex-rural banker has nothing but praise for her father, especially the way he managed the transition and the excellent state of the farm when she took over.

“Dad was happy to take orders but didn’t want the responsibility of running the farm any more,” Mairi says. 

Robotics to turn vines into no man’s land – Richard Rennie :

A concentrated five-year stretch of research and development by Tauranga-based agri-tech firm Robotics Plus is poised to pay off in coming months as the company goes commercial with its unmanned ground vehicle design.

Robotics Plus CEO Steve Saunders has just returned from California, where he oversaw the launch and demonstration of the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) at FIRA USA, an event showcasing autonomous agricultural equipment and robotics for the United States market.

The company has already built a strong presence in the States, thanks to its automated apple-sorting and -packing equipment installed in the country’s apple-growing capital, Washington, among other states.

Saunders says the UGV is designed as a modular machine capable of having multiple tools interchanged depending upon the orchard application, whether that be spraying, pruning, harvesting or mowing. It can also be adapted to different crop types. . . .

Argentina set to permit wheat export delays amid drought – sources – Maximilian Heath:

Argentina’s government is set to announce measures, potentially within days, to allow wheat exporters to delay agreed shipments after a major drought hammered the crop, raising concern about domestic supply.

A source at the country’s CEC grains exporting chamber, which represents companies buying the grain, said measures would be released “in the coming days” to allow firms to reschedule agreed wheat exports without facing the normal 15% fine from authorities.

A government source with direct knowledge of the matter said that measures to permit wheat shipment delays were “probable”. “It’s being studied,” the source said.

The comments are the strongest indication yet that Argentina, one of the world’s top wheat exporters, will seek to delay exports of the grain amid a drought that threatens to cause the worst harvest in nearly a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

02/11/2022

Why this virtue signalling Govt is so reviled by the rural sector – Jamie Mackay :

Would it be unkind to say you’ve got to go back to the days of David Lange and Rogernomics to find a government so reviled by the rural sector?

And it’s rather ironic that Labour finds itself in a unique electoral situation because of the support it garnered from the provinces in the 2020 election. A case of be careful what you vote for. A perfect storm of Covid, an empathetic PM, fear of the unknown, the fear of the Greens and a totally dysfunctional National Party, combined to produce the first majority government in MMP history.

The Government’s recent response to He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) and the resultant modelling was an abrupt wake up call to rural New Zealand and those self-same provinces that swept Jacinda Ardern into power. Only Wayne Barnes missing that forward pass in 2007 is a bigger mystery to me than why every electorate, Epsom aside, party voted Labour in 2020. We’ll never see the likes of that again.

And we may never see the likes of 50,000 Kiwi farmers again if we lose 20 per cent of our sheep and beef production and six per cent of dairy. The numbers being modelled are frightening, even if they’re only half correct. . . 

Is this our generation’s subsidy-free moment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

How farmers move forward and negotiate with the government’s response to He Waka Eke Noa proposals could be this generation’s “subsidy-free moment,” reminiscent of the 1980s, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

The release of the Government’s response to the proposals from He Waka Eke Noa has resulted in misunderstanding, muddle and misery. New suggestions have appeared, questions have been asked, and the misery remains.

How can farm businesses survive what has been suggested? Economic viability is threatened.

The Prime Minister has recognised the concerns and has used the phrase “Just Transition” – the same words used in Taranaki when changes in the energy sector were made. . . 

Fed Farmers call for alternative farming emissions proposal – Evan Harding:

A leading Southland farmer says she won’t be getting winter grazing consents and hundreds of other farmers will also refuse to get them.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt, speaking at a meeting about the Government’s controversial farming emissions’ proposal and winter grazing regulations at Stadium Southland on Wednesday night, said consents were supposed to place extra scrutiny where the highest risks were.

But if thousands of people had to get them for an activity, it was not targeting the highest risk.

“That’ll mean councils can’t adequately check them out in advance or enforce them so it makes a mockery of the process. You’ll pay for a piece of paper but there’s nothing behind it, and that’s why we don’t support these ones,” she said. . . 

 

Planting trees for the future – Sudesh Kissun :

Waikato farmers John and Maria van Heuven believe in leaving their 164ha property in a better condition than when they bought it 20 years ago.

Hence the Matamata dairy farmers of 50 years quickly joined the Bridge to Bridge project (B2B), backed by Waikato Regional Council and Fonterra.

The three-year community-run project was completed recently with eight kilometres of Waitoa River fenced and 17,000 native plants and trees in the ground.

The project involved landowners on either side of the Puketutu and Station Road bridges near Matamata, removing pest plants, relocating fencing from the river’s edge to create bigger riparian margins and planting native plants and trees.

Here for the long game :

DairyNZ has launched a new campaign designed to showcase dairy farmers’ commitment to a better future for New Zealand.

The multi-media campaign, named Here for the Long Game, launched nationwide this week, and highlights dairy farmers’ commitment while sharing how the sector is addressing the challenges ahead.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the campaign shares the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers.

“As a sector, we want to deliver a sustainable future – meeting the needs of our communities and customers, while maintaining profitable and sustainable businesses,” he says. . .

 

Anti-burping tablets could solve Australia’s cattle methane emission problem – Elly Bradfield and Amy Phillips :

A Queensland university claims its research into cattle has the potential to reduce methane emissions in Australia’s beef industry by 30 per cent.

The federal government confirmed last week Australia would sign up to a global pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent this decade.

Meat and Livestock Australia, industry’s peak research and development group, had previously vowed to be carbon neutral by 2030 through its CN30 pledge.

Professor Ben Hayes from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at the University of Queensland said its four projects could be applied simultaneously to the $14.6 billion beef cattle industry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/11/2022

HWEN: Hostility as DairyNZ canvasses farmers– Gerald Piddock:

The government’s emissions pricing proposal drew a hostile reaction from Waikato farmers when it was outlined by DairyNZ leaders at a meeting in Morrinsville.

About 70 farmers packed the town’s Rotary Community Centre to learn more about the proposal and for the organisation to get feedback from farmers ahead of the mid-November submissions deadline.

The at-times tense meeting saw farmers vent their frustration at the government’s plan, with one questioning if the government has any notion how upset farmers are.

“We have the Fonterra chairman [Peter McBride] saying they are uneasy about it. For God’s sake, uneasy, we’re more than uneasy,” he said. . . 

Detailed analysis of Government’s agricultural emissions pricing proposal reveals significant flaws and impacts as sheep and beef farmers are urged to have their say :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has delivered a damning verdict on the Government’s emissions pricing proposal following a detailed analysis.

“Sheep and beef farmers are committed to playing their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however we want to ensure that what we’re asked to do is fair,” says Andrew Morrison, chairman of B+LNZ.

“The Government’s proposal will have a disproportionate impact on sheep and beef farmers, impact the livelihoods of Kiwis in rural communities, increase food prices, cost jobs and ultimately reduce New Zealand’s export income. 

“B+LNZ expressed serious concerns about the Government’s proposal when it was released a fortnight ago, however after a comprehensive evaluation of the scheme and talking with our farmers, we’re now more convinced than ever that this scheme will have a disproportionate impact on the sheep and beef sector and may drive some farmers out of business. . . 

Public backs carbon farming limits as report shows soaring sales :

The majority of New Zealanders don’t agree with the Government’s approach of planting our way out of the problem of climate change and want limits on fossil fuel emitters planting exotic trees on productive farmland.

The research commissioned by Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has found 54 percent of New Zealanders support a limit on the amount of fossil fuel emissions that can be offset with new pine forests. Meanwhile, almost two thirds of Kiwis oppose foreign companies buying New Zealand farms to offset their emissions.

The findings by Curia coincide with the release of a new independent report by Orme & Associates, commissioned by B+LNZ, which shows more than 52,000ha of land was purchased by forestry interests in 2021, a 36 percent increase on the previous two years, and up from 7,000ha in 2017.

This is far more than the 25,000ha a year of exotics that the Climate Change Commission has suggested are needed to achieve New Zealand’s climate change objectives. . . 

There is a better way to reduce emissions – Todd Muller :

National was shocked and disappointed to learn last week that the Government has moved away from key elements of the consensus plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

A National government, like Labour, will be committed to reducing carbon emissions and acknowledges that the primary sector has an important role to play in doing that. Pricing emissions gives farmers an incentive to lower them, and National supports agriculture having its own process for recording and pricing emissions.

For three years, representatives of the primary sector and other stakeholders have worked through the He Waka Eke Noa (All in this Together) Partnership, to build a consensus approach to devise a new system.

In May, the partnership sent its recommendations to the Government but when the Government last week reported back its proposals, to apply from 2025, some key points that the partnership had suggested, were missing. In addition, the Government revealed that it anticipated that under its system, up to 20 per cent of the capacity of sheep and beef farming could be lost by 2030 – while seeing emissions increase offshore as production and jobs move overseas. This is as unacceptable to National as it is to farmers. Neither individual farmers, farming communities or the New Zealand economy want or can afford to sustain a blow like that. National believes that cost is unacceptable, especially when, with more care, there will be a better way to reduce emissions without so much damage. . .

Farming without a fence – Sally Round:

Reaching for their phones and clicking on a cow-monitoring app is the first early-morning task for Waikato dairy farm managers Petra Burgess and Lauren Randall.

Instead of a crack-of-dawn quad bike trip following the cows to the milking shed Petra and Lauren are setting up virtual fence lines and checking cow conditions remotely over a cuppa.

It’s a system which has revolutionised the processes on Pete Morgan and Ann Bouma’s 230-hectare dairy farm at Pokuru.

Two years ago the farm signed up for Halter – a system which fits individual cows with solar-powered collars. . .

Miniature apple company takes top honours at New Zealand International Business Awards:

A Hawkes Bay business dedicated to “powering up your day, one bite at a time” is the Supreme Winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2022, announced (27 October) at the Awards’ first in-person event since 2019.

The Supreme Award winner, Rockit Global, is an apple company whose unique product – miniature apples – is now sold in more than 30 countries and grown in 10. Operating for more than 20 years, Rockit Global employs unique growing methods and technologies that are breaking new ground for their business and industry. 

As well as the Supreme Award chosen by a panel of judges, Rockit Global also won the category award for Best Large Business. 

Judges described Rockit Global as a worthy Supreme Award winner, due to an inspiring team with great global expertise that has successfully built their brand around a product that does not typically have a brand.  . . 

 


Government has sabotaged farming consensus

28/10/2022

The government’s butchering of the agri-sector’s He Waka Eke Noa has led to growing  farmer rebellion:

A large protest meeting of farmers in Invercargill last night heard Federated Farmers President, Andrew Hoggard, withdraw his support for the Government’s proposal for farmers to pay for their emissions.

And he indicated the Feds would leave the He Waka Eke Noa farm sector partnership that had been working with the Government on a farm emissions policy.

“It’s been two and a half bloody years or more of dumb regulation after dumb regulation after dumb regulation, and  for me, it’s just like, Nah, screw it, I’m done with being polite about it,” he told the meeting to applause.

Hoggard last night said the Feds had always opposed the methane reduction target of a reduction of 10 per cent by 2030.

He said his organisation had continued within the HWEN partnership because of its original principles. They were that the agriculture sector would work with the Government to design a pricing mechanism “where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm practice change” and “only to the extent necessary to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities that contribute to lower global emissions.”

“It’s just gotten more and more tenuous as we’ve gone along the process, and finally, the government proposal was the knife that cut that link,” he said.

He said Federated Farmers had never supported pricing in the first place because the alternative would have been farmers going into the Emissions Trading Scheme, which would mean much higher payments and no chance of any rebates for mitigation.  

“We tried to argue that we didn’t want pricing in there, but everyone else was of the opinion that pricing had to be a part of it; otherwise, the government would reject it (the HWEN proposal)”, he said.

“And so we went along with it because we felt at least then if we’re in the team, we could push back, keep providing that sort of tension, keeping that farmer voice in there. “And certainly throughout the process, we have managed to at least get some changes, some wins, keep some stupid things out of it. “But it has been bloody hard work.”

Hoggard argued that what had been intended to be a levy was now a tax because of the failure to allow for sequestration. To achieve the 10 per cent gross reduction in emissions by 2030, the Government would do so by taxing farmers to force them to reduce production.

“And so the way you’ve got to think of it is that they need a gross reduction, and at the moment, without mitigations, a 10% gross reduction only comes from 10% less dry matter going down ruminants throats,” he said. “And so that is a key thing.

“And to me, that is the fundamental change the Government has made is that change to the pricing principles and that singular focus on achieving the targets at all cost to our communities.”

His views were echoed by two South Island National MPs.

“We will not accept the government’s proposal,” said Southland MP Joseph Mooney.

“Yes, we want the research and development to happen, and we want the science and technology to be able to lower the emissions, but we need to be doing it in step, so pricing can’t get ahead of competitor countries, and we can’t put our food security at risk,” said Invercargill MP, Penny Simmonds. . .

 

It took a lot of work to get the He Waka Eke Noa proposal together, there were a lot of reservations about it but most agreed it was less bad than putting farming in the ETS.

The government has sabotaged the consensus. Federated Farmers is leading the charge against the proposal and other organisations that had been part of HWEN are also very critical of the proposed changes for very good reasons.

The economic and social costs are far too high for little, if any, environmental gain.

The meeting also discussed the impractical winter grazing regulations.

A leading Southland farmer says she won’t be getting winter grazing consents and hundreds of other farmers will also refuse to get them.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt, speaking at a meeting about the Government’s controversial farming emissions’ proposal and winter grazing regulations at Stadium Southland on Wednesday night, said consents were supposed to place extra scrutiny where the highest risks were.

But if thousands of people had to get them for an activity, it was not targeting the highest risk.

“That’ll mean councils can’t adequately check them out in advance or enforce them so it makes a mockery of the process. You’ll pay for a piece of paper but there’s nothing behind it, and that’s why we don’t support these ones,” she said.

The Government legislation was shoddy and was not ready to go which was why she would not be getting a consent for winter grazing, she said.

She was not asking everyone to boycott the consents, saying it was each individual’s choice, but suggested there would be safety in numbers.

“They can’t prosecute us all.”

She asked the hundreds of people at the meeting to stand with her in boycotting the consents and almost all did.

Hunt made of point of saying the Feds would not defend farmers who operated without regard for animal or environmental welfare. . . .

The video is a livestream of the meeting, the business starts at about 18 minutes.


Rural round-up

26/10/2022

Ag sector not impressed – David Anderson :

NZ’s farming sector has been left disappointed and stunned over the Government’s proposal to price agricultural emissions.

Federated Farmers argues the plans would “rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be”. It accuses the Government of throwing out the years of work the sector put into finding a solution and said it was “deeply unimpressed” with the Government’s take on what He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) put forward.

Modelling done by Ministry for Primary Industries shows that without representation – and assuming farmers paid the levies at the farm gate – using the price proposed by HWEN of 11c a kilo of methane, by 2030 production of milksolids would be down by up to 5.9%, lamb down 21.4%, beef down 36.7% and wool down 21.1%.

The same modelling showed that 2.7% of dairy land would go out of dairy production while 17.7% of sheep and cattle country would cease running livestock, presumably to be converted to forestry. . .

Emissions plan will sound death knell for farmer s – Mayor – Peter Burke :

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says the Government proposal to charge the ag sector for emissions will be the death knell for East Coast farmers.

He says farmers like himself were already being treated like second class citizens and this proposal reinforces that.

“It takes away all hope,” he told Rural News.

Little says farmers are now talking about selling up and going to Australia where he says agriculture is booming. . . 

BLNZ calls out HWEN changes – Annette Scott:

More than two years of cross-sector collaboration with uncomfortable conversations and robust debate on pricing emissions has not been recognised and “I am gutted”, Beef + Lamb New Zealand director Nicky Hyslop says.

“I am gutted as a sheep and beef farmer and as a BLNZ director with the government decision to make significant changes to He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), which now have an unacceptable impact on a sheep and beef farmer,” Hyslop told farmers at the central South Island farmer council annual meeting.

“We get the current farmer anger and frustration but let’s channel that into strong messages that will resonate with the public, build pressure on the government and get constructive changes to make this whole thing workable.

“The bottom line is we are not going to agree to anything that threatens the viability of our industry and of our family farms. . . 

Call for more support for rural communities’ fight against climate change :

Government support for rural communities is vital to realising the potential in mitigating climate change says Rural Women New Zealand.

“Our members care for our land, our people and rural communities and we acknowledge the need to adapt, however, we would like to see more work on empowering rural communities through the provision of resources to effect positive change,” says National President Gill Naylor.

“There is no doubt that the solutions proposed by the He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Change Partnership and the Government’s discussion document on pricing agricultural emissions, will have an impact on rural communities.

“Rural communities include the towns and regional centres which service them – the adverse impact of, and the opportunities afforded by, emissions pricing stretch further than the farm gate. . . 

Trust takes Ahuwhenua Trophy for top farm :

The Wi Pere Trust, a large sheep and beef farming operation at Te Karaka near Gisborne, was awarded the 2022 Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm. 

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor made the announcement at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards dinner in Hawke’s Bay. He said Māori account for 25% of the production of sheep beef and wool in New Zealand, and have brought a highly professional approach to their farming operations. 

He encouraged everyone to go along to Ahuwhenua Trophy field days to better understand the complexity of the farms and passion of the farmers.

Trudy Meredith of Wi Pere Trust said winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy was absolutely amazing – especially given this was the first time they had entered the competition.  . . 

NZ Rural Land diversifies into forestry – Hugh Stringleman :

New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZL) is moving into forestry land ownership at a cost of $63 million for five properties in the Manawatū/Whanganui region.

The listed landlord has entered an agreement with private company NZ Forest Leasing to acquire the forest estate of approximately 2400ha and lease it all back to NZFL for a period of 20 years.

The settlement date for the acquisition is April 15, 2023 and the first year’s lease payment will be $4.98m.

Thereafter annual lease payments are subject to CPI-linked adjustments. . . 


Rural round-up

19/10/2022

Has He Waka hit the rocks? – Peter Burke :

The Government’s proposal to deal with agricultural emissions has stunned many rural communities who warn that it will decimate them and replace sheep and beef farms with pine trees.

Under the proposal, the Government states its intent to reduce emissions by 10% by 2030 and that farmers will start paying for their emissions by 2025.

But according to Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard, this plan put up by government will cause massive economic and social consequences in rural communities. He says the plan would see sheep and beef production drop by up to 20% and dairy by 5%, costing NZ $3 billion.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut wrenching to think we have a proposal by the Government that rips the heart out of the work we have done and to the families who farm the land. Feds is deeply unimpressed with the Government,” he says. . .

Our climate policy is confused and flawed – Allan Barber:

There’s an argument for rebuilding it from the bottom up, without Kyoto-era flaws.

Two reputable climate change scientists, Adrian Macey and David Frame, have recently published a five-part series of articles in BusinessDesk.co.nz which seriously questions the government’s climate change targets and policy. Macey is New Zealand’s first climate change ambassador and an adjunct professor at the NZ Climate Change Research Centre at Victoria University, and Frame is the centre’s director, which gives their opinions serious credibility.

At the same time Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has issued a report that confirms the inappropriateness of planting huge swathes of pine forests to offset methane emissions and a note that questions the rationale for treating long-lived greenhouse gases and biogenic methane differently. He asks why fossil fuel emitters to buy carbon credits as offsets, while livestock methane emitters are not. Forests remove carbon dioxide, not methane, from the atmosphere, but Upton argues it should logically be possible for forestry to be used as an offset against warming in general, including methane. He also warned about the impossibility of planting enough trees to solve the warming problem.

In his report he states: “Reducing livestock methane emissions could have real economic and social impacts on people and ways of life. A fine balance needs to be struck between having regard to economic and social dislocation and finding a position that New Zealand can defend in international climate change negotiations, while remaining competitive in global food markets with growing consumer demand for low-emissions products.”  . . 

The shifting ground beneath farmers’ feet – Tony Benny :

Much has changed the position of farming in New Zealand society since 1973, when the sector lost its privileged access to a large and lucrative market.

“That cued up a series of crises that got worse and worse, culminating in 1984 with Rogernomics and really the first moment in the colonial history of New Zealand where a government decisively turned its back on farming. Things have never quite been the same,” Otago University’s Professor Hugh Campbell, an expert in the sociology of agriculture, told the Embracing Urban Agriculture hosted by Lincoln University’s B Linc Innovation centre.

He listed a series of fractures over the past 40 years or so that changed how urban and rural New Zealand relate, starting with a series of food scares in Europe including the Chernobyl disaster and Mad Cow Disease, which shook consumers’ confidence in food safety.

Consumers were also shaken by biosecurity issues including rabbits and the illegal release of calicivirus in an effort to control them, as well as the PSA virus that hit kiwifruit growers. . . 

New median wage to hit farmers in the pocket – Jessica Marshall:

Moves by the Government to raise the wage threshold for migrant workers have some farmers up in arms.

Last week, Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced that a new median wage of $29.66 per hour would be adopted into the immigration system from 27 February next year.

“The Government is focused on moving New Zealand to a higher wage economy, increasing the skill level of migrant workers, and encouraging employers to offer competitive wages and improve career pathways for New Zealanders,” Wood said.

“Updating the median wage thresholds regularly is necessary to ensure the Government is delivering on its immigration rebalance goals and that existing policy settings are maintained in line with market changes.” . . 

Southern women recognised in NZI Awards  :

Southern women feature as category award winners in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business awards.

Jody Drysdale, from Balfour, who won the innovation category, is behind Hopefield Hemp, with her husband Blair. The couple decided on hemp after looking for ways to diversify their farming operation to include a value-add, direct-to-consumer product.

Hopefield Hemp grows, harvests, presses and markets hemp seed oil. It is small batch pressed and is available in bottles and capsules. In response to one of her children experiencing skin irritation, Mrs Drysdale researched and developed a recipe to make a soothing cream using her hemp seed oil and Hopefield Hemp’s skin care range was launched.

Serena Lyders, from Whānau Consultancy Services, Tokanui, won the rural champion category. Passionate about the shearing industry, she is a sixth generation member of a shearing family and the industry and the people in it were close to her heart. . . 

New project to help farmers gain regenerative agriculture certification :

Interest in food produced using regenerative practices is gaining momentum across the globe – and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is backing a project to help more New Zealand sheep and beef farmers capture this premium market.

MPI has committed $142,480 over two years through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund towards the $356,200 project with Lean Meats Limited (trading as Atkins Ranch). It aims to scale up the number of verified lamb producers that meet the regenerative certification requirements of the US Savory Institute’s Land to Market Programme.

New Zealand-owned company Atkins Ranch has been a partner of the Land to Market Programme since 2019. It sells premium grass-fed lamb into the US market and has supply contracts across five regions of New Zealand. The company has been piloting regenerative farming practices since 2019 with a core group of 23 farmers, and this is now expanding to more than 70 farms.

“I see regenerative agriculture as leaving the land in a better state for future generations,” says Atkins Ranch chief executive officer Pat Maher. . . 

Fonterra announces new sustainable finance framework :

As part of Fonterra’s commitment to sustainability and implementation of its strategy, the Co-operative has today released its Sustainable Finance Framework (Framework). This Framework aligns Fonterra’s funding strategy with its sustainability ambitions and reflects the evolving preferences of lenders and debt investors in this area.

Fonterra’s Framework outlines how the Co-operative intends to issue and manage any sustainable debt, which could include Green Bonds and Sustainability-Linked Bonds and Loans. The Framework has been developed with Joint Sustainability Co-ordinators HSBC and Westpac NZ and has been independently verified by ISS Corporate Solutions confirming alignment with globally agreed sustainable finance principles.

“This new Framework is a step on our sustainable financing journey – aligning with our Co-operative’s broader sustainability ambitions,” says Simon Till, Fonterra Director Capital Markets.

“Over the next decade we intend to significantly increase our investment in sustainability-related activities and assets throughout our supply chain to both mitigate environmental risks and continue to differentiate our New Zealand milk. By FY30 we intend to invest around NZ$1 billion in reducing carbon emissions and improving water efficiency and treatment at our manufacturing sites. In doing so, we will be taking significant steps towards our aspiration to be Net Zero by 2050 and we plan to align our funding with this approach.” . . 


Rural round-up

14/10/2022

The consequence of cutting livestock numbers to tackle farm emissions – a culling of support for Labour in rural areas perhaps – Point of Order:

Has the Ardern government just  shot itself in the  foot?

Despite its  poll  ratings slipping in  recent  months, it nourished hopes of  returning to power next year.  But  its  “world-first” policy to  cut greenhouse  gases with farm-level pricing, effectively making 20% of  NZ’s  sheep and beef  farms uneconomic, could result in it  bleeding  votes  in  most  of the  regional electorates  it  won  in 2020.

The unpalatable  truth  is  just  dawning on the  country: cutting  agricultural emissions  means  cutting  food and fibre output.  And  that means slashing the export income on which  NZ  depends.

Clearly  the  Cabinet  ministers  adopting the  policy  announced  yesterday  believed  they  could “sell” it  on  the  basis  that NZ  would be  leading the world, in  cutting agricultural emissions. . . 

Govt HWEN response ‘fails fairness test’– Neal Wallace :

The government’s response to the primary sector’s He Waka Eke Noa proposal fails to meet the partnership’s fairness test, according to the group’s programme director.

Kelly Forster said of particular concern is the government’s rejection of He Waka Eke Noa’s (HWEN) proposed involvement in setting the emissions price, its priorities in how the price is set and the tightening in the classes of vegetation recognised in sequestering carbon.

“We don’t think it has met the sector’s fairness test,” Forster said.

“What the sector put forward we felt was a good balance. This shifts the balance away from what the sector thinks is fair.” . . 

The government is shafting rural New Zealand – Mike Hosking:

We have the sort of logic only the Prime Minister can use when she largely isn’t on top of the subject she is talking about.

She tells us that farmers will benefit by leading the world once the Government’s new “tax farmers more to save the world” scheme gets under way. Small news flash, we already lead the world.

It’s been a good trick. You create the problem, in this case farming emissions.

You then tell farmers you’re going to tax them and farmers get upset. Farmers are lucky because they are the backbone economy so have political heft. So the Government pretends to acquiesce and say “okay no ETS for you, let’s have a special plan, and you can tell us what it is.” . . 

Emissions plan a kick in the guts for Southland farmers – Simmonds :

Invercargill MP and National Party Associate Spokesperson for Agriculture Penny Simmonds describes the Government’s recently released emissions plan as another kick in the guts for farmers, one which she claims threatens the future of farming in the South.

The Emissions Plan, released yesterday, has seen the Government accept most of the recommendations from the He Waka Eke Noa partnership, including a farm-level split-gas approach to emissions pricing.

“I’m deeply concerned at the implications of the Government’s proposals, which will effectively price farming off the market for a large number of people within the sector and risk leaving our rural communities in despair,” Simmonds says.

She says that while there has to be change, New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world and no other country has imposed a carbon tax on its agriculture sector. . .

Low emissions not production – Peter Burke:

AgResearch scientists say they’ve managed to breed sheep that produce less methane while still producing good quality meat.

NZ has been a world leader in the recent development of breeding sheep that belch out less methane – a relatively short-lived but potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The latest progress stems from more than a decade of research by AgResearch scientists, supported by the industry through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics, as well as the Government via the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).

The result is sheep that naturally emit less methane as a product of their digestion and it is believed this trait can be bred for and passed down through generations. . . 

Renewed support for Get Kiwis on Farm initiative :

Federated Farmers and the Ministry of Social Development are pleased to announce another round of support for the “Get Kiwis on Farm” project, one of the government’s most successful worker placement COVID initiatives.

The initiative started in 2020 and to date has helped 605 people get jobs in farming.

MSD Industry Partnerships provides $323,000 of funding for 100 ‘starter kits’, to get the right gear in the hands of wannabe farm workers, and it also goes towards support with recruitment and pastoral care for those people.

New recruits get free farm and wet weather gear from Northland-based Kaiwaka Clothing, aimed to make them feel comfortable from their first day at work on the farm. Affording the right clothing was identified as a barrier for young people looking to work in farming. . . 


Colder, hungrier, poorer

13/10/2022

Does the government want us to be colder, hungrier and poorer or does it not understand the damage it’s doing?

Most of the focus on the damage it’s planning to do to farming with its butchered version of He Waka Eke Noa has focused on the inevitable reduction in stock and the production of milk and meat.

But it’s not just pastoral farming that will be affected.

Cropping farmers and horticulturalists will be too.  We will produce less of everything including cereals, fruit and vegetables and they will all cost more.

That will fuel inflation and make it even harder for people who are already struggling to feed themselves and their families.

It’s not just farmers whose livelihoods are at risk.

During the ag-sag of the 1980s there were fears that farmers would be forced off their farms in large numbers.

Some did have to sell but it was the businesses further down the economic stream, the ones that serviced and supplied farmers, where jobs were lost and firms went out of business.

Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers president, is right to say that it’s the small-town businesses and their staff who are also  at risk with the government’s plan:

. . . “What they’re modelling is a 20 per cent reduction in output from the sheep and beef sector,” says Hoggard.

“And if you think of small towns like Wairoa on the East Coast, the major employer there is the meatworks. That town pretty much exists to not only support the meatworks but to support the farming community around it. In all likelihood, the East Coast and that area, in particular, is going to be in the firing line. The effects will be felt harder there than potentially in other regions.”

Hoggard anticipates it is likely that more farms will leave the sheep and beef business.

“It won’t take much of a drop to hit a tipping point for the freezing works where they go: ‘Well, it’s no longer profitable here.’ And once that happens, you’re just going to have a massive flow-on effect in that town in terms of unemployment. That’s going to impact the businesses that used to support the freezing works, but also the businesses that supported the farms in that area. It’s going to be quite a considerable impact and it’s going to be acute in a number of small rural towns.”

In addition to Wairoa, Hoggard also identifies Pahiatua and Taumarunui as towns that could be affected by the change. . . 

A lot of small towns in the South Island have been reinvigorated by the downstream flow from increased dairying. That hasn’t happened in the north and there will be no easy way to replace the businesses that fail and jobs that are lost when sheep, beef and deer farms are forced to retrench.

Hoggard expressed concern that these towns may not be able to adapt to the changes quickly enough to offer the population new jobs.

“These towns have a long history of providing these services and jobs around that area,” says Hoggard.

“It will take a hell of a lot of the community. And what can they replace it with? It’s all good to say ‘We’ll come up with a just transition and dream up some imaginary green jobs, but these are real jobs that are right there right now.” . . 

When the businesses go, services including schools and health centres will be under threat too.

Then there’s the very important point that emissions are a global problem the impact on which will be at best negligible and at worst negative.

“India is at 23 per cent of world milk production, and their ambition is to keep growing at 6 per cent per year to be at 43 per cent in 20 to 30 years,” says Hoggard.

“They’ve got a carbon footprint per litre of milk that’s about 10 times what you get for a New Zealand litre of milk … And when questioned on what sustainability meant to them, they said: ‘a full belly’. That’s as far as they’re interested in sustainability going.

“And so it really made me think if New Zealand’s place in the world is cutting our own production, cutting our own throats, or is it about taking our know-how and can-do attitude to other agricultural systems in the world.”

Taxing more and doing less here will not solve climate change.

The energy problems facing Europe and the economic crisis in Sri Lanka show how misguided environmental policies leave people colder, hungrier and poorer.

The government’s plan will do similar economic and social damage to us.

Given how little impact anything we do will have, we should be focusing on mitigation and the research, science and technology that could make a real and positive difference, not just in New Zealand but around the world.


Rural round-up

12/10/2022

Pricing farm emissions: it’s great to enable NZ to boast a world first – but how much culling must be done to achieve it? – Point of Order :

The Ardern government is claiming a world first in its policy to cut agricultural emissions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asserts  that its proposal “delivers a competitive advantage, enhancing our export brand”, and…

“No other country in the world has yet developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so our farmers are set to benefit from being first movers.”

Farmers  themselves  may be bemused, if  not bewildered, by  the Government’s spin because critics claim the  scheme  aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5%, to achieve  what   Federated  Farmers  labels “the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets”. . . .

Fake meat, false promises and real consequences  – Meg Chatham :

The impact of fake meat on people and the planet could be more damaging than that of well-raised livestock.

Last year, Bill Gates proclaimed that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” and advocated for the use of “regulation to totally shift the demand” in order to combat climate change.

Ultra-processed food companies tout artfully obfuscated health and environmental benefits of their fake meat alternatives to convince consumers that “meat doesn’t have to come from animals.”

However, upending meat and the livestock industry will not resolve our climate, health, or justice crises. . . 

Simon Upton methane and forestry – Keith Woodford:

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton says there are good reasons to allow forestry offsets for methane rather than for fossil fuels

Simon Upton, in his role as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has produced a new ‘Note’ for Parliament exploring the possibilities of using carbon sequestration from forestry to offset methane emissions. It is an interesting and some might say provocative paper. Here I present and discuss just some of the big issues that he raises.

First, some explanation about Simon Upton and where he fits into the parliamentary scene. . . .

Milk prices turning sour? – Sudesh Kissun :

Fears of a global recession and questions over global demand for milk products are pushing dairy prices down.

While a strengthening US dollar and lower milk production normally means higher returns for New Zealand dairy exports, a weaker NZ dollar isn’t all good news for farmers, according to Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny.

Penny puts last week’s drop in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices to the “rising dairy prices in local currency terms and a degree of cautiousness in dairy markets following the broader financial market nervousness of the last few weeks”.

Dairy prices have essentially given back their gains at the previous auction. Butter prices led the falls, plunging 7%. Whole milk powder and cheddar prices both posted falls around 4%. Penny told Rural News the result was worse than what futures markets had forecast. . . 

Paysauce launches National Farm Boss Appreciation day :

The first National Farm Boss Appreciation Day will be held this year on 23 November, to celebrate the great employers out on farms across New Zealand.

Nominations for the best boss open today, with farm workers invited to submit a picture and a short explanation of why their boss is the most worthy. The nominees will feature in an online gallery, and a national ‘people’s choice’ vote will take place during November to crown this year’s winner – who will receive an epic prize pack thanks to PaySauce.

“It’s all about celebrating the good sorts out there, the employers that have their team’s backs, dig in when times get rough and make the industry proud” said PaySauce CEO, Asantha Wijeyeratne. “As the payroll provider for over half the employers in the dairy industry, and with rural employers making up around 70% of our customers in New Zealand, we often hear about the employment challenges they’re facing and overcoming with their teams. We want to spotlight the heroes and celebrate them.”

As nominations are received, a gallery of great employers will be posted on PaySauce’s website, with the opportunity for the country to vote for the winner. . .

Sheer grit at record attempt – Leo Argent :

Woodville shearer Sacha Bond is training hard for an attempt to break the women’s strong wool lamb shearing world record in Southland next year.

Coming from a shearing family, Bond has been a dedicated shearer since her teenage years.

She taught herself how to shear when many others in the industry would not lend a hand to teach her.

However, as her shearing skills became more and more apparent, people came around to her talents. She eventually made her way into the first all-women’s shearing course in New South Wales in 2015. . .

Coromandel hero wins Outdoor Access Champion Award :

Ally Davey can turn her hand to just about anything to get things done, and she inspires others to do the same. Her incredible achievements have earned her an Outdoor Access Champion award from Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, presented tomorrow.

The Spirit of Coromandel Trust was set up in 2000 by Andy Reid and the late Keith Stephenson; it funds opportunities for people, particularly youth, to access outdoor activities. After 20 years of fundraising, the trust started building Ride Coromandel Bike Park on an ex-landfill site in 2020, with Ally at the helm as volunteer project manager.

“I remember when I first started, I sat on the grass, and I looked up and thought, ‘Woah, this is such an amazing opportunity. We’ve just got crap all around us and we can make this into something cool.”

The park is a hit and draws riders in from outside the region. It’s been called the little park with a big heart, and Ally is most proud of the difference it’s made for young locals. . . 


More tax, less food

12/10/2022

He Waka Eke Noa didn’t have universal farmer support.

The government’s butchering of it is uniting farmers against it and threatens the sector consensus:

Today’s farm emissions announcement threatens the sector consensus by failing to recognise New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“National is committed to emissions targets, including reaching carbon Net Zero by 2050, the Paris Climate Agreement and reductions in agricultural emissions.

“National recognises New Zealand farmers’ significant contribution to the economy. Agriculture earns half this country’s export revenue.

“We are concerned that today’s announcement puts consensus at risk. The Government’s own figures indicate:

    • Sheep and beef farming could reduce by 20 per cent and dairy by 5 per cent by 2030
    • Two-thirds of the reduction in emissions in New Zealand will be undone by higher emissions overseas as jobs and production shift offshore
    • The plan does not allow farmers to earn extra income from some forms of on-farm planting and carbon capture.

“Worryingly, the large falls in sheep production in New Zealand could lead to higher global emissions as more sheep production moves overseas to less-efficient farms.

“Broad industry support is crucial for any enduring solution to agricultural emissions.

“This plan could have significant implications for our rural towns and communities. The Government has put at risk the consensus built by He Waka Eke Noa Partnership over three years.

“National supports efforts to reduce emissions and we encourage the Government to work with the sector to find an enduring solution.”

In an email to members National leader Christopher Luxon points out the flaws in Labour’s proposal:

. . .I’m very concerned by the massive impacts these proposals could have on our rural towns and communities – which could see sheep and beef farming reduce by one fifth in just five years.

National backs our farmers. Our rural communities are the backbone of our country and agriculture is our biggest export earner. New Zealand’s prosperity is built on the hard work of farmers and growers up and down the country. It’s their work and their businesses that support other rural businesses and suppliers and create employment and jobs in provincial towns. We cannot let Labour and the Greens put that at risk.

I want you to know where National stands.

New Zealand needs to cut its carbon emissions. National supports New Zealand’s emissions targets, including reaching carbon net zero by 2050. And that means reducing agriculture emissions over time.

We backed the sector-led process as a way to introduce emission pricing for agriculture alongside other measures to reduce on-farm emissions and support the uptake of new technology.

We believe consensus with farmers is vital. But the Government has today put that at risk with a different proposal which could gut our rural communities while seeing emissions increase overseas as food production and jobs move off-shore.

Indeed, the Government’s own figures suggest its proposed scaling back of our sheep industry will actually lead to overall higher global emissions. That’s because Kiwi farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world so cutting back food production here just to see demand being met by less-efficient farmers overseas is simply counterproductive. National would ensure Kiwi farmers enjoy regulatory settings that make it easy to develop and adopt new technology to reduce emissions – not just send primary production, jobs and emissions offshore.

National would also allow farmers to earn credit for all forms of on-farm carbon capture. It’s just not right for Labour and the Greens to add extra costs to farmers without allowing on-farm planting and carbon capture to offset new emissions costs they may face.

The Government needs to get alongside rural communities and find an enduring solution that works for everyone – not dictate changes from Wellington.

National trusts farmers to be the best environmental stewards of their own land. I know farmers will use technology, ingenuity and local knowledge to figure out local solutions that work to reduce emissions sensibly.

Any relief that farming won’t be forced into the ETS will be overwhelmed by genuine criticism about what the government has taken out of the industry’s proposal:

The government has accepted most of the proposals put forward by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership to price agricultural emissions, but industry groups are concerned some of the recommendations have been excluded.

The farm-level, split gas approach has made the cut, but modifications have been proposed on how sequestration is calculated.

“We need to further analyse these changes carefully, but one area of immediate concern is the proposed changes to sequestration, which is of real importance to sheep and beef farmers,” Beef + Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison said.

“We know we have a role to play in addressing climate change and our farmers are among the first to feel the effects of it.

“However, if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms.”

Meat Industry Association chair Nathan Guy said although the government proposal is better than agriculture entering the emissions trading scheme (ETS), there is room for further improvement.

“Sheep and beef farmers and the meat processing and exporting sector collectively generate $12 billion in income per year for the country and account for more than 92,000 jobs, almost 5% of New Zealand’s full-time workforce. It’s critical we have the right policy settings so our sector can continue to deliver for our farmers, our processors and exporters, rural communities and the country.”. .

Needing further improvement is an understatement.

He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) programme director Kelly Forster said its partners are pleased the government has listened to the partnership on the need for a farm-level system rather than including agricultural emissions in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). 

“A farm-level system as recommended by He Waka Eke Noa will enable each farmer and grower to clearly see the direct impact of their on-farm decisions and would give them incentives for using new technologies and practices as they become available. Our modelling shows it will be more effective in achieving emissions reductions than including agriculture in the NZETS at the processor level. 

“He Waka Eke Noa’s recommendations were, however, designed as a carefully balanced package that was as equitable as possible across all parts of the primary sector.  

“The government has proposed alternative approaches in some areas, such as how sequestration is recognised, which may fundamentally alter the balance and could have significant implications for sheep, beef and deer farmers. . .

That’s a diplomatic way of saying it will be disastrous, and Federated Farmers points out the costs won’t just be felt on farm and by farmers:

The greenhouse gas reduction plan released by the government this morning will rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be.

The plan aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5% to achieve the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets.

This is the equivalent of the entire wine industry and half of seafood being wiped out.

The government’s rehashed plan to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions throws out the two and a half years of work the industry did to come up with a solution, supposedly all that time in a ‘partnership’ with government to achieve a workable solution which would not reduce food production.

“This is not what we’ve got this morning. What happened to the ‘historic partnership’?

“Federated Farmers is deeply unimpressed with the government’s take on the He Waka Eke Noa proposal and is concerned for our members’ futures,” Federated Farmers National president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut-wrenching to think we now have this proposal from government which rips the heart out of the work we did. Out of the families who farm this land.

“Our plan was to keep farmers farming. Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off.

“Some overseas buyer can plant trees and take the carbon cash.”

The scariest impact from the government’s rehash of the He Waka Eke Noa proposal was that it’s own modelling showed the impact on sheep and beef farming would be as high as 20%.

It also shows that world agricultural emissions would increase, not decrease, under this plan.

“The government’s plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumaranui – pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South – will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say ‘ETS application’.”

So all the small town cafes, car yards, schools, pubs, rugby clubs, hairdressers and supermarkets can say goodbye to the small town business supported by the agriculture around them.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is concerned that the plan will impose costs on farmers who have no cost-effective way to reduce emissions:

. . . The farm-level pricing system the government has announced is in line with the He Waka Eke Noa proposal. However, DINZ remains deeply concerned about the impact of prices on farmers who have no cost effective way to reduce their emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, says Deer Industry NZ chair Mandy Bell. . . 

There is as yet no guidance for the price of methane; there is a recommendation that nitrous oxide would be linked to the ETS NZU, but with a discount.

The government has also released economic modelling to demonstrate the impact on a range of farm types. As was previously communicated to government, the largest impact falls upon the most extensive farming systems. The government has acknowledged that the pricing system has different impacts and is seeking sectors’ views on levy relief and transition mechanisms for farming businesses who are most exposed.

Mandy Bell says “DINZ will be reinforcing to policy makers what they have already recognised – that the farm price needs to allow businesses to remain economically viable until practical tools to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from pastoral farming are available.

“We believe it is essential that government and sector invest in developing and bringing new technologies to NZ farmers to help them reduce their gross emissions as soon as possible. If our farmers have practical technology they can use, they will use it. Our farmers are rapid adopters and are innovative.” 

There is not yet practical technology for our innovative farmers to rapidly adopt.

We are already the most carbon efficient farmers in the world and are paying for research to find ways to become better.

But until that research gets practical and cost-effective results, the only way farmers can reduce emissions is to reduce stock numbers.

That won’t only make some farms uneconomic it will push up the price of food, reduce export income and have the perverse outcome of increasing global emissions as other far less efficient farmers increase their production to take advantage of the gap in the market left by less New Zealand produce.

It doesn’t help that there’s debate over the impact of methane:

There are suggestions we may have been incorrectly measuring methane emissions and the effect they have on overall warming.

Well known climate scientists Adrian Macey and Dave Frame have been looking at our climate change policy in relation to the rest of the world.

What they’ve found is that by using a more accurate metric to replicate what methane does to warming, we see that effects have been overstated by more than three or four times the actual damage.

When it came to introducing the new more accurate metric to climate change advisers within the Government they were either passive or dismissive of it.

Overall, they find the Climate Change Commission and the Ministry for the Environment simply got it wrong.

Methane is responsible for nearly half New Zealand’s emissions, but it’s impact on warming is much less.

The government is putting politics before science, trying to earn praise on the international stage at an enormous domestic cost in economic and social terms with no environmental gains.

It is in effect another tax that will lead to less food produced in contravention of the Paris Accord which states climate change mitigation should not come at the expense of food production.

It will have the perverse outcome of discouraging planting.

This is another example of the government putting the green cart in front of the science and technology horses at a very high economic and social domestically and doing no good for the global environment in the process.


Forcing higher wages fuels inflation

11/10/2022

The government has come up with another roadblock for businesses:

Confirmation from the Government that businesses will soon be forced to pay a minimum of nearly $30 per hour for migrant workers is yet another road block for businesses facing crippling staff shortages, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“The Government has today finally made a long-overdue change to illogical rules turning away highly-skilled and desperately-needed chefs. It has taken three months for the Immigration Minister to make this very simple change to immigration instructions. While the Minister has dithered, restaurants across the country have been closing their doors. 

“This good news for the hospitality sector is overshadowed by news that the new minimum wage for hiring a migrant will be increased in February from $27.76 to $29.66 in line with the new median wage rate. 

“Not only does this mean that in some cases businesses will be paying migrants more than the Kiwis standing next to them, but it will see costs passed on to consumers, making the cost of living crisis even worse.

The requirement to pay immigrant workers more for doing the same work is already creating resentment in workplaces.

Labour thinks the answer to that is to pay New Zealanders more but businesses having to pay more for fuel, energy, raw materials and other costs can’t afford to do that.

“Labour have taken their 2018 policy designed to drive down immigration, and dropped it in to 2022 in vastly different economic circumstances. With a net loss of 12,400 people in the past year and the worst labour shortages in 50 years, this policy makes no sense.  

“Further proof that the policy is not fit for purpose is the fact that Minister Wood, who recently stated there is ‘no good argument for taking one particular sector and giving it special treatment over and above other sectors’, has been forced to extend his median wage carve-out for the hospitality and tourism sectors through to 2024 – an admission by the Minister that businesses in these sectors will struggle to meet the costs of the median wage requirement.

“The Reserve Bank has stated that our economy is being constrained by labour shortages with businesses across New Zealand crying out for workers. Despite these major challenges, Labour is simply creating yet another road block for struggling businesses by requiring them to pay migrant workers a minimum wage of nearly $30 an hour.

“Migrant workers should be paid at the market rate for their skills and experience, the same as their Kiwi counterparts.

“Enforcing a $30 per hour minimum wage to hire a migrant will make it harder for businesses to get the workers they need and will ensure that labour shortages persist for longer, and ultimately it is Kiwis who will pay the price.”

The government’s attempts to force wage increases threaten business viability and will fuel inflation:

Kiwis will ultimately pay more for their food when the substantial increase in international workers’ pay kicks in from February, Federated Farmers warns.

The Government has announced a new median wage of $29.66 per hour will be adopted into the immigration system on 27 February 2023. The majority of new migrant farm staff are now being employed on the Accredited Employer Work Visa, which has an hourly rate of pay requirement tied to the median wage, Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“Farmers are faced with paying almost $30 an hour for international staff needed to perform the basic tasks on farm,” Richard says.

Imposing this pay rate that is unrelated to experience and productivity also means that sometimes experienced New Zealand workers who train the immigrants are paid less than those they’re training but businesses can’t afford to pay them more.

“All industries are struggling to find New Zealanders who are willing and able to do the job but for farm employers in remote rural areas the challenge is even greater. Farmers need people in gumboots on the ground to put cups on cows and drive tractors so that they are able to focus on the more technical and management roles on farms.”

Farm employers and industry groups have been working hard to attract Kiwis to the sector but unemployment remains low and all rural and provincial employers are vying for the same limited pool of staff.

The sector has already seen large increases in average rates of pay as shown by the 2022 Federated Farmers-Rabobank Farm Remuneration survey. The survey showed that since the 2019/2020 survey weighted average incomes have grown 15% in the dairy sector, 14% in the sheep and beef sector and 7% in the arable sector.

“Feds has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development to deliver the ‘Get Kiwis on Farm programme’. New workers get an industry standard employment contract and the right gear to work safely and comfortably on farm,” Richard says.

“But it’s still not enough when there are thousands of agriculture work vacancies.

“Our concern is that never-ending wage increases will add additional costs not just to farm employers but also the downstream and upstream industries that service agriculture and businesses in the wider economy, driving up input costs and reinforcing a wage-price spiral that will drive inflation even higher. Ultimately it will be the New Zealand public who pay the price on the supermarket shelf,” Richard says.

“There are additional concerns that as labour becomes unaffordable farmers try to do all the work themselves, ultimately leading to fatigue, stress and on-farm accidents.”

BusinessNZ is also concerned by the inflationary affect of artificially high wages:

Increasing the wage thresholds for international skills and talent is unnecessary and will feed inflation, says BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope.

“In the current environment of extreme skill shortages, high inflation, negative net migration and ongoing global supply chain constraints, further wage pressure on employers announced today does not support the economic recovery businesses are working hard to achieve.”

Mr. Hope says the Government has found a pragmatic solution to a bureaucratic rule for hospitality by dropping the requirement for formal chef qualifications.

“The industry will welcome any relief to the severe skill shortages and we look forward to restaurants and cafes bringing vibrancy back to our towns and cities. But the combination of increased costs faced by the industry like food, wages and rent, will make it a risky business to be in unless consumers can afford to pay more.

“The border has been open less than three months and Government continues to change the rules on productive and resilient New Zealand businesses and public service organisations. Our current workforce simply doesn’t have the people or skills required.

“That’s why correct and welcoming immigration settings are critical as more New Zealanders leave the country.”

Mr. Hope says the skills shortage is an issue that affects every industry, sector and region.

“The stress of severe skill shortages is negatively impacting the wellbeing of New Zealanders, fuelling economic turbulence and inflation.” 

It’s not just artificially high wages that are creating problems for employers. The increase in the minimum wage for New Zealanders has also had a perverse outcome in discouraging people on benefits from working more hours.

Beneficiaries are limited by how much they can earn before their benefits are reduced.

The minimum wage has increased but the limit beneficiaries can earn hasn’t so they are able to work fewer hours before hitting the limit.

That’s a perverse incentive for beneficiaries is work less and is adding to the problem of staff shortages.

Beneficiary or not, some people don’t want to maximise how much they earn.

A freezing worker consistently turned up only four days a week, in spite of his employer paying a bonus to anyone who worked five days a week.

When asked why he only came to work on four days he replied that he didn’t earn enough in three.

Forcing up wages as the government is doing encourages this sort of attitude, exacerbates the worker shortage and adds costs to businesses.

At least some of those costs will be passed on to customers which will fuel inflation and that erodes the real value of wages, even those artificially increased by government edict.


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2022

Too many famers still stuck in connectivity ‘slow lane’ :

Coverage, reliability and speed of mobile and internet services for many farming families and businesses are treading water, if not going backwards, the 2022 Federated Farmers Rural Connectivity Survey shows.

More than half of the nearly 1,200 farmers who responded to the survey report internet download speeds at or less than what could be considered a bare minimum (20 megabytes per second/Mbps) and those who said their mobile phone service had declined in the last 12 months jumped from 20% to 32%.

“For a sector that underpins the lion’s share of New Zealand’s export earnings, and one where productivity gains and reporting requirements are increasingly aligned with used of technology, apps and devices, this is really concerning,” Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“It’s a given that it’s easier and more profitable to deliver high standards of mobile and broadband to urban areas. But rural families and farm businesses – who due to remoteness and road travel times can really benefit from strong on-line connectivity access – must not be left behind.” . . 

Why does everyone want to work on a farm? – Brianna Mcilraith:

Job-hunters might be looking for a lifestyle and career change on the farm, if Trade Me data is anything to go by.

The site said agricultural jobs were the most-viewed listings last month.

The top five job listings were for South Island agriculture, fishing and forestry roles, and of the 100 most-viewed listings in August, more than half (55%) were in those categories.

Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said 18 of the most popular listings were for shepherds and a further nine for stock managers. . . 

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

An opposition member’s bill boosting penalties for biosecurity breaches has passed its first reading with near unanimous support.

In the name of National MP Jacqui Dean, the bill is aimed at deterring incoming visitors from bringing in illegal biosecurity items such as fruit or other food.

The Increased Penalties for Breach of Biosecurity Bill would double the existing penalty from $1000 to $2000, upon conviction.

It would also increase the on-the-spot fine for a false declaration from $400 to $1000. . . 

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

Biosecurity New Zealand has welcomed 17 new quarantine officers to help protect Aotearoa’s borders from invasive pests and diseases.

Eleven officers graduated on Friday after completing an intensive 10-week training programme. They will work at frontline border locations in Auckland to ensure international travellers and imported goods comply with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules. The other six new officers have joined Biosecurity New Zealand’s border teams in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The graduates will bolster Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline ranks as international passenger traffic begins to gather pace following the reopening of borders, says Mike Inglis, Northern Regional Commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He says Biosecurity New Zealand will have recruited nearly 60 new quarantine officers by the end of this year. There are plans to recruit a further 20 Auckland officers in early 2023. . . 

Alun Kilby from Marisco wins Marlborough 2022 Young Winemaker of the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco, who came became the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 21st September at MRC and the winners were announced at the Awards Dinner the same evening

Alun, 28, was thrilled to take out the title and the judges commented on his broad range of knowledge and skills as he scored consistently well across all sections.

Congratulations also goes to Thomas Jordaan from Vavasour who came second and to Ruby McManaway from Yealands who came third.

For the first time, there were ten contestants competing in the Marlborough regional competition. “It’s exciting to see how many aspiring Young Winemakers want to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Mick Ahern wins HortNZ’s Industry Service Award for 2022 :

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.’

Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgeling, kiwifruit export industry. . . 

Miriana Stephens wins Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022:

Horticulture industry leader, Miriana Stephens has won the Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022.

‘Miriana is shaping the future of the horticulture industry by example,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘She is a director of Wakatū Incorporation, which grows apples, kiwifruit and pears in its Motueka Orchards under the business, Kono.

‘To Miriana, business is not just commercial – it involves being a kaitiaki of the whenua and moana, as well as being commercially responsible.’ . . 


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