Rural round-up


GHG just the start for global farm targets – Neal Wallace:

Global greenhouse gas emission reduction targets could be just the first of several goals that producers and processors will have to meet in the coming years.

Rabobank managing board member Berry Marttin told the Farm2Fork forum in Sydney there is a global move to extend targets for water, biodiversity and social standards that consumers will expect producers to meet.

These are being driven by a global group called Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which so far has commitments from 4764 companies, of which 2431 have approved emission reduction targets.

In New Zealand, 29 companies have signed on, six of them rural. They are: Comvita, Fonterra, Silver Fern Farms, Synlait Milk, Timberline Australia and NZ and WoolWorks NZ. . . 

Soaring costs leave apple exporters unlikely to make profit :

For the second year in a row New Zealand apple growers are unlikely to make money from sales in their traditional export markets of Europe and the UK.

Soaring on-orchard costs, high freight charges because of distance to market, coupled with an unwillingness by key European countries to pay more money, is making exporting apples there financially unsustainable.

AgFirst horticulture consultant Ross Wilson said it has always been a challenge being at the bottom of the world, it costs a lot of money to get products shipped to the export destinations.

“That cost in itself does make us a high cost producer,” he said. . .

Feds: more time needed for the Land Use Inquiry to get it right :

With the resignation of Bill Bayfield and now the sacking of Stuart Nash there needs to be an urgent reset of the Ministerial inquiry into land use on the East Coast, Federated Farmers says.

“Forestry slash and other woody debris washed down in Cyclone Gabrielle caused major damage. Communities on the East Coast need to be given the respect they deserve after such a significant event,” Gisborne farmer and Feds Meat & Wool Chair Toby Williams says.

“Finding someone else to sit on the inquiry panel who has the level of experience and skills that Bill Bayfield brought to the table will be very difficult.”

The land use inquiry didn’t get underway until late February and its report is due April 30. Federated Farmers says this ridiculously short time frame needs to be extended so that the issues can be thoroughly considered and all relevant evidence can be collected and analysed. The panel then needs adequate time to consider the recommendations they will present back. . .

The best and worst of humanity – Colin Miller :

The great pics and stories continue as, of course, does the huge cleanup!

I can recommend the video clip farm suppliers Te Pari produced. If you haven’t seen it, it should come up for you if you Google ‘Te Pari Cyclone Video’.

The very best in people has come to light through all this. Total strangers turning up with shovels and wheelbarrows, putting in untold hours of the toil, helping people they had never previously met. We had a group of skilled guys from our area head across to the Hawke’s Bay for several days to assist, mainly with shearing and fencing repairs, I believe.

Aside from all the hands-on stuff, donations, mostly anonymous, have poured in from all over this great country of ours. Even the key farm-staff members, the working dogs, have not been forgotten, with dog tucker included with the donated support! . .

Aotearoa’s top cheeses named in 20th year of NZ Champions of Cheese Awards :

The country’s top cheeses have been recognised with 162 receiving medals following the 20th year of judging for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

Medals are almost equally split with; 57 Gold, 55 Silver and 48 Bronze being awarded following two days of intensive judging at Wintec Te Pūkenga, Rotokauri Campus in early March.

Master Judge, Jason Tarrant, presided over the panel of 30 judges who came from throughout New Zealand and Australia. Judges are a mix of cheesemakers, cheese retailers, food technologists and food writers who sniffed, tasted a range of New Zealand-made cheese across 20 categories including; ewe milk, washed rind, blue cheese, Dutch style, fresh Italian style, Greek-Cypriot style and cheddar. Judges were supported by a further 20 stewards.

Jason Tarrant congratulated all the NZ Champions of Cheese medal winners saying this year’s competition was hotly contested and every medal awarded was hard won after being assessed by the judges who worked in panels of three. . .

Livestock farming mitigates climate change – Redazione :

New studies review emissions calculation and significantly reduce the environmental impacts of Italian farms.

Italian livestock farming contributes to combating global warming and mitigating climate change. This, in summary, is the result of an Italian researchers’ team who recalculated our country’s livestock sector emissions using a new metric proposed by a group of physicists of the Oxford atmosphere and published in Nature.

“The introduction of these new metrics due to the work of the English physicists is destined to change the frame of the debate on the sustainability of the livestock system,” said Giuseppe Pulina, president of Carni Sostenibili. For the first time, the Oxford study considered the difference in action on global warming between short-lived climate pollutants such as methane and long-lived climate pollutants such as carbon dioxide.


 The researchers have observed that if a greenhouse gas remains in the atmosphere for a short time, its effect on global warming is zero. If emissions remain constant every year, they are negative (the atmosphere cools down) if they decrease. This is because reducing its concentration also reduces its contribution to the greenhouse effect. But it is highly heating if emissions increase because this type of gas has a much more greenhouse effect than CO2. The new metrics, therefore, take into account this difference and, in particular, for how long a gas remains in the atmosphere, a substantial difference if we consider that methane after 50 years has practically disappeared, while carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for over a thousand years. . . 

Rural round-up


East Coast farm collapses after carbon group takes over – Aaron Smale :

The Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme incentivises the planting of pine forest. But a company looking to cash in on the scheme has left a farm on the East Coast prone to significant erosion within months of taking over. Aaron Smale reports. 

Satellite images of a former sheep station on the East Coast show a stark difference from surrounding properties after it was sprayed with the intention of planting pine forest to cash in on the government’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The company that bought the farm for $13 million last year is partly owned by Māori Carbon Collective. The company is among a group of companies started under the umbrella company the Māori Carbon Foundation which was launched last year by Sir Mark Solomon, Hone Harawira, Michelle Boag, Murray McCully, Jevan Goulter and Maru Nihoniho. The directors are Sir Mark, Harawira and Nihoniho and one shareholder is listed, John Muru Walters. 

The Māori Carbon Foundation said at the time of its launch that its aim was to plant on 150,000ha as an initial target, which would see 150 million trees planted. The company covers the cost of planting, maintaining and insuring the forest and landowners would receive an even share of profits after seven years when the start-up cost is covered. The intention was to trade the carbon credits generated by the trees. . . 

Greenwashing and the forestry industry in NZ – Dame Anne Salmond

The inquiry into forestry slash destruction in Tairāwhiti, and review of the Emissions Trading Scheme, should prioritise the state of the planet not the balance sheets of global corporations, writes Dame Anne Salmond.

Over the past few weeks, New Zealanders have been exposed to shocking images of local landscapes ravaged by forestry sediment and slash during Cyclone Gabrielle, from Tairāwhiti to Hawke’s Bay.

They’ve heard heart-breaking stories about the suffering and harm inflicted on individuals, families and communities by surges of mud and logs from pine plantations, putting lives at risk, taking out roads and bridges, fences, crops and animals, farm buildings and family homes, choking streams and rivers, and smothering paddocks, vineyards, orchards and beaches.

At the same time, investigative journalists have begun to explore the story of how this has been allowed to happen, in the face of scientific reports over the past 20 years predicting this kind of damage, and the successful prosecutions of forestry companies which include scathing court judgments about their practices. . . 

Lifting red tape Burdon for cyclone hit farms – Simon Edwards :

For cyclone-hit farmers and growers putting in massive hours to get their land and production back into some sort of working order, the last thing they need is to be tied up in the usual resource consent costs and delays. Every dollar is needed to pay for materials, machinery and labour.

That was Federated Farmers’ motivation to write to Environment Minister David Parker earlier this month to ask for suspension of some of that consent red tape, in the same manner as the very successful emergency legislation enacted after the Kaikoura/Hurunui earthquakes.

The Severe Weather Emergency Legislation Act went through the House and select committee in little over two days mid-March. Andrew said the Federation didn’t get everything it sought, “but we persuaded MPs on some important changes and the door is open to further practical measures via a second Bill”. 

The emergency legislation means farmers in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay regions; and the districts of Tararua, Masterton, Carterton, and South Wairarapa can get on with tasks such as correcting waterways, removing silt, clearing debris and creating the conditions for restored access and animal welfare as a permitted activity. Unfortunately – at this stage – Feds’ argument that cyclone-hit farms in Manawatu-Rangitikei should also qualify fell on deaf ears. . . 

Tractor sales: a warning sign for rural recession – Andrew Bevin :

Economists consider sales of tractors and other machinery an economic bellwether, so a big fall is a worrying indicator.

Dropping tractor sales indicate regional economies could be in for a rough ride, as farmers tighten their belt.

Sales of tractors and farm machinery have fallen off significantly from 2022 highs, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association.

Since the start of 2023, the number of tractors sold was down by a quarter, with notable drops in the horticulture, dairying and lifestyle markets. . . 

Southland dairy farmer crowned Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year :

A Southland dairy farmer has been crowned the Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year and will compete in the Grand Final in Timaru in July.

Hugh Jackson, 24, was announced as the winner of the Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday evening, after spending the day competing in a range of activities at the Strath Taieri A&P Showgrounds.

The Thornbury Young Farmers member was over the moon to get the win with a 60-point lead. This Regional Final was his fourth attempt at securing a spot at the Grand Final.

“I’ve had a few goes and quickly realised that taking out the win isn’t a given. You have to put in the work, so I’m stoked that my prep this year really paid off.” . . 

Changes to Pāmu governance roles :

Pāmu is excited to announce two new appointments to governance roles at the organisation. Libby Tosswill will join Pāmu as an associate director and observer on its board. The state-owned enterprise has also appointed Jillian Laing to the board of Spring Sheep Milk Co, a public-private partnership company jointly owned by Pāmu and SLC Group.

Pāmu CEO Mark Leslie says Jillian brings expertise in marketing and sales, a global lens and connections, and commerciality in the demand generation space.

“Jillian is an international food marketer. She has been the CEO of a tech start-up and had extensive experience in global sales and marketing while she was at Fonterra. Now in her role with the World Macadamia Organisation, she is across consumer trends and customer insights globally. Jillian brings a new perspective, and we are excited to welcome her into the fold,” he says.

Libby has a Bachelor of Commerce from Otago and a financial markets background in New Zealand as well as internationally. She is heavily involved in local community governance and is currently Chair of the Porangahau Catchment Group – Taurekaitai Ki Te Paerahi, Trustee of Connect Youth and Community Trust, and an elected Trustee of the Central Hawke’s Bay Consumers Power Trust. . . 


Rural round-up


Kiwis are open to GMOs but is the government? – Andrew Hoggard :

Kiwis know that technology is the key to solving our problems of the future.

When it comes to reducing transport emissions, we know it’s much better if technology can allow us to switch to electric cars rather than have to reduce how much we drive. We know our future electricity system needs to be one where we have affordable, plentiful, reliable electricity, but that more and more of our electricity is generated with new solar, wind and geothermal technology.

New technologies are the key to achieving this future.

Agriculture will be no different. Our country will be much more prosperous if we can use technology to reduce our agricultural emissions rather than find ourselves in a situation where we simply farm less. . . 

New Zealanders asked to buy local and fresh to support weather hit vegetable growers  :

New Zealanders are being asked to buy local and fresh, to support vegetable growers across the country hit hard by continued bad weather.

‘Vegetable growers have endured exceptionally bad growing weather for several months now,’ says Vegetables New Zealand Chair, John Murphy.

‘Months of wet, humid and unpredictable weather have affected growers’ ability to plant and harvest, which has had a cumulative effect on supply.

‘Most graphic have been the pictures of onions in drains in Pukekohe and on beaches and in drains in Hawkes Bay, plus the news that up to 90% of Northland’s kumara production has been wiped out by Cyclone Gabrielle. . . 

Trust dedicated to helping farmers get back on their feet :

Money donated to the Farmers Adverse Events Trust Cyclone Gabrielle appeal is directly helping the farmers and growers hit hardest by flooding, silt and slips, Trust Chair Dr William Rolleston says.

“It’s paying for supplies and fuel for cross country and helicopter missions to stranded families, as well as for fencing and stock water reticulation gear, some of which will be installed by Farmy Army volunteers.

“Getting fences back up is critical for livestock feed management. Clearing internal farm roads of debris and restoring water troughs helps farming families get back on their feet, and restores the production that is the economic lifeblood of so many rural districts,” Dr Rolleston said.

“We’ll be looking to support the efforts of the many hundreds of Farmy Army volunteers who are generously donating their time and skills.” . . 

Waikato Farmgate security helps Cyclone Gabrielle rural communities sleep at night again  :

New Zealand startup Farmgate Security – a finalist in the 2022 NZ Fieldays Innovation Awards – are partnering up with Vero insurance to donate free security camera tech worth more than $60,000 to farmers caught up in the Cyclone Gabrielle disaster.

“Farmers have made it clear they want more security help – they are scared, sleepless and armed. Please contact Farmgate. Grab one of our free cameras so that you can sleep at night again,” says Andrew Sing, Director, Farmgate.

Farmgate’s purpose driven mandate – to reduce rural crime by 50% – starts with cameras that pick up on stolen vehicles and notify local communities through the free Farmgate APP, says Sing.

“Farmgate Security cameras increase visibility in rural communities. Our 24/7 surveillance centre reports stolen vehicles to NZ Police as well as local communities. We take care of the risk so farmers can focus on get back to supplying the best of New Zealand produce to the world.” . . 

Former Fed aims for parliament – Leo Argent :

Former Federated Farmers Meat and Wool chair Miles Anderson has been selected as the National Party candidate for the Waitaki electorate.

The fifth of eleven children, Anderson was educated at the local Southburn primary school, then at St Kevin’s College boarding school in Oamaru. In 1992 he became involved with a group of local farmers establishing a business scanning livestock for pregnancies in the central South Island, with eventual expansion into South Australia.

Taking over the 220 hectare family farm in Southburn from his father in 2004, Anderson runs 1,500 sheep and about 20 beef cattle, with 10-80 hectares dedicated to cereal crops.

Before entering politics some of Anderson’s former roles included the aforementioned chair of Federated Farmers Meat and Wool sector – formerly Meat and Fibre. Anderson had it renamed to boost wool’s profile in New Zealand. . . 

Low carbon dairy processor Miraka appoints professional director Debbie Birch to board :

Taupō based, dairy processing business Miraka, which has one of the world’s lowest carbon manufacturing footprints, has appointed professional director, Debbie Birch, to the company’s board.

Miraka Chairman, Kingi Smiler, today welcomed Ms Birch to the values based, Māori-owned dairy processing business.

“Debbie is a full-time professional director with over 20 years of experience in senior executive roles managing large global investment portfolios in Asia and Australia.

We’re delighted to have someone of Debbie’s calibre and commitment to the Māori economy join Miraka and very much look forward to her contribution.” . . 

Rural round-up


Farmers hitting the wall on East Coast – Jo MOir :

Jim Galloway doubts it will ever be known how many animals died during Cyclone Gabrielle. As the adrenaline runs out, the Hawkes Bay Federated Farmers president told political editor Jo Moir farmers are starting to hit the wall.

Exactly how many animals died when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the East Coast will never be known but rough estimates on the rumour mill have it at about 40,000.

Jim Galloway farms in Raukawa, southwest of Hastings, and counts himself as one of the lucky ones having escaped any damage on his property.

Instead, he’s concentrating on making sure farmers in the region have all the support they need to clean up and start again. . . 

You can’t eat trees says Whanganui’s deputy mayor – Helen Craig:

Government has lost sight of the importance of farming to New Zealand’s wider economy and the fact we actually need food to survive. Farmers are now a threatened species, except foresters and mānuka conversions for honey. Funnily enough, Government legislation is now the biggest risk to farming, even compared to natural disasters.

Provincial local government has also lost sight of their heavy reliance on the farming economy as they focus on towns and services for people. There will be few people and towns if our farmers disappear – we are too reliant on the services and products they buy, the products they supply for further manufacturing and the profits they spend. We fool ourselves if we think art galleries, museums, tourists, events and niche manufacturers keep our provincial towns alive.

Laws and taxes are being passed by Wellington-based politicians who do not understand this and don’t think beyond the growing urban populations. The Carbon Credits scheme managed by the Government is making forestry far more profitable than any other farming industry. A new tax on animal emissions adds to growing costs on-farm. Government approvals for the sale of land to overseas forestry firms have accelerated, not reduced, and it’s harder and harder to get water rights approvals for not only stock, but also cropping, creating growing uncertainty and risk for farmers.

Overdone fencing and riparian planting requirements for anything that might possibly be considered a waterway, tighter regulations on private drinking water schemes, tighter health and safety laws, tighter regulations on chicken and egg farms, and now the possibility of a five-fold increase in firearms licence fees will make pest control and recreational shooting too expensive for most except the most frequent shooters. . . 


Feds back practical bypass solution at Hikuwai :

Federated Farmers is backing a project by a Tolaga Bay contracting company and local residents to reopen vital access to rural communities and farms north of Hikuwai.

“A partial solution proposed by authorities falls well short, in our view,” Federated Farmers national board member and transport spokesperson Mark Hooper says.

“A bypass, across private land, that local residents and Kuru Contracting have underway is a practical response that offers longer-term resilience to impacted families and businesses. In our view Waka Kotahi, Gisborne District Council and others should get on board with it and offer whatever help they can.”

Rural properties, communities and consequently the primary sector in the Tolaga and Tokomaru Bay areas of Tairāwhiti were slammed by Cyclone Gabrielle. For farmers, cut off access is not just about being blocked from making trips that every other family needs to make. It also means disruption to feeding and looking after animals on land damaged by slips and flooding (including being able to move them elsewhere for grazing, or to destock), and removes the ability to get remaining viable product to market – critical to support employment and the local economy going forward. . . 

Kiwis flock to third annual Open Farm Day:

An estimated 2,500 urban Kiwis visited 24 farms this Sunday, part of New Zealand’s third national open farm day initiative, Open Farms.

Farms of all types participated in the nationwide project, from market gardens in Auckland, to dairy farms in the Waikato, regenerative sheep and beef farms near Wellington and organic veges in Christchurch.

“This was a tough year for farmer hosts, so we really appreciate them giving urban Kiwis the chance to touch, feel and taste their way back into food and farming” says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb.

Successive weather events in the project’s target areas around New Zealand’s major cities impacted host numbers, but visitor interest remained high. “About two-thirds of our events were fully booked this year – again proving that, when given the chance, urban Kiwis are keen to get back out on-farm” says Eb. . . 

The amount of farmland converted into forestry revealed – Zane Small :

Newshub can reveal 25 times more land was converted into forestry last year than a decade ago. 

It’s angered farmers who hope the Government’s ministerial inquiry into forestry slash will lead to limits on land conversion. They say the Government needs to answer for incentivising forestry to earn carbon credits.

“We’re not absolutely against off-setting, we’re certainly not against commercial forestry, but our argument is that there needs to be some limits put on it,” Beef + Lamb CEO Sam McIvor told Newshub. 

Figures obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act show a rise in recent years of new forestry area, from 695 hectares in 2013 to more than 18,000 hectares last year.  . . 

New Zealand Rural Land Co FY22 year results demonstrate resilience :

New Zealand Rural Land Co (NZX: NZL) has recorded a net profit after tax of $5.3M for the financial year ended 31 December 2022 along with a further increase in the value of its property portfolio.

The results cover the period 1 July 2022 – 31 December 2022, following a recent change in NZL’s balance date to 31 December (from 30 June).

NZL currently owns 11,710 hectares (28,963 acres) of high quality productive rural land in New Zealand which is fully tenanted on long-term leases with regular CPI adjustment provisions. It generates shareholder value through a combination of asset value appreciation and cash flows from its long-term leases.

Co-founder and New Zealand Rural Land Management director Richard Milsom said that in the current environment the increase in value of NZL’s rural land holdings demonstrated the resilience and quality of NZL’s portfolio. . . 

Rural round-up


Feds: cyclone recovery should be prime focus for government :

The government’s immediate injection of $4 million to help farmers, growers, whenua Māori owners and rural communities mobilise and co-ordinate cyclone recovery efforts is pleasing, Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.

“Even more significant is acknowledgement that the breadth of Cyclone Gabrielle’s destruction is unprecedented and that this funding is only an initial response.

“The toll on roading and electricity networks will be extremely costly. Urban areas have been pummelled too. Federated Farmers will be advocating strongly to government that its prime focus, and additional resources to fix that infrastructure, should be top of their agenda.”

Feds acknowledges all those who continue to work tirelessly to help our communities through this event: the people in lines companies, emergency services, emergency management and roading contractors to name a few. . . 

Feed shortage looms for farmers after Cyclone Gabrielle :

It is feared some farmers have had their valuable winter feed crops completely wiped out by Cyclone Gabrielle, which will cause further headaches in the coming months.

Dairy farmers typically spend the warmer months preparing hay and silage as feed for winter and spring.

Last year about 1.2 million tonnes of maize silage was produced as supplementary feed for livestock, particularly on dairy farms – but entire crops have since been lost to the cyclone.

Federated Farmers’ president Andrew Hoggard said there would be feed challenges in the coming months after crops were flattened or destroyed and the group would co-ordinate donations and supplies when needed. . . 

Relief fund set up to support Hawkes Baby’s horticultural and agricultural sectors :

A relief fund for Hawke’s Bay’s horticultural and agricultural sectors has been started by local company TUMU Group, which has provided kick start funding of $100,000.

The group which includes TUMU Timbers, a major supplier of pallets and bins to these sectors, is encouraging other businesses to also contribute to the fund, following the wide-spread devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

TUMU Timbers General Manager James Truman said the hort and ag sectors are the backbone of the Hawke’s Bay economy and they would be hurting for a long time.

“Our local primary producers have a long road of recovery in front of them and we must support our local primary industry in their time of need,” said James. “We’re hopeful other businesses who have also been supported by this sector will also dig deep to help get it back on its feet.” . . 

Logs like bulldozers – why Coast feels betrayed – Dame Anne Salmond :

Several days ago, in one of the best live interviews I’ve ever heard, Kathryn Ryan talked to Bridget Parker in Tolaga Bay, just after Cyclone Gabrielle had ripped through her farm.

Parker was incandescent with indignation. Once again, logs and sediment had cascaded down the river and buried their beautiful farm. Her son was out on an old digger, lifting forestry logs out of the drains, carving a path through the sediment along their drive to the road, trying to avoid the power lines overhead.

She described the devastation as “f****ing carnage.” Huge logs and streams of sediment had rolled out of the pine plantations above, smashing buildings and fences, surging through kiwifruit vines and maize paddocks, over the dog kennels and up to the house: “This is what New Zealand doesn’t understand. Its one thing to get a cyclone and get water. Its another when the water comes with bloody pine trees attached to it.”

In a voice filled with pain, Parker asked why none of the authorities – Labour or National politicians, the army, Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb, let alone the forestry companies – had come to their farm to see the damage caused by the logs, or assist with the clean up: “Is anyone coming to help? Why are we just left alone, every time this happens?” . . 

Cyclone Gabrielle triggered more destructive forestry slash, NZ must change how it grows trees on fragile land – Mark BLoomberg :

The severe impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on the North Island, and the five severe weather events experienced by the Thames-Coromandel region in just the first two months of 2023, are merely the latest examples of more frequent erosion-triggering rainfall events over the past decade.

Inevitably with the heavy rain, soil, rocks and woody material (also known as “slash”) from landslides have flowed down onto valleys and flood plains, damaging the environment and risking human safety.

Clear-fell harvesting of pine forests on steep erosion-prone land has been identified as a key source of this phenomenon.

So we need to ask why we harvest pine forests on such fragile land, and what needs to change to prevent erosion debris and slash being washed from harvested land. . .

In isolated Wairoa the meatworks steps up – Rebecca Macfie :

The major employer in devastated Wairoa sees its plant saved from flooding and with the town cut off by road, short of fuel and running low on water, it’s working with the district council and army to help prop up essential services.

Affco chief executive Nigel Stevens flew by chopper into Wairoa on Wednesday and Friday.

He told Newsroom late on Friday the flood waters had stopped 100 metres short of the company’s large meat plant, located on the north side of the Wairoa River. The plant, which employs 300 to 500 workers depending on the season, is intact but not operating. Although power was lost, it came back on quickly enough to preserve thousands of tonnes of processed meat held in the plant’s chillers.

Forty lamb carcasses that were immediately available were distributed to the community. . . 


Rural round-up


HWEN legislation unlikely before poll – Neal Wallace:

Speculation is mounting that the government will run out of time to pass the He Waka Eke Noa legislation before this year’s general election.

But interested parties disagree on whether any delay on HWEN laws would simply be a timing issue or if it could allow changes to the legislation.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said  the organisation’s own analysis and well-placed sources have told him the government will not have time to pass the empowering legislation before the election.

He said legislation still has to be drafted and with Parliament not resuming sitting until February 14, it will be March or April before any documents are ready to be put before Parliament. . . 

Herb added to cows’ grazing crops reduces farm nitrogen escaping into waterways – research – Jimmy Ellingham, :

It is a common and even unwelcome sight in lawns throughout New Zealand.

But the tall stalks and black heads of plantain could help clean up the country’s waterways, according to a dairy industry trial.

New research out of Massey University in Palmerston North has shown adding the leafy herb to cows’ grazing crops can reduce the amount of nitrogen escaping from dairy farms into waterways by 20 to 60 percent.

Glenn Judson, an animal nutritionist from crop and pasture company Agricom, said everybody would recognise the plant, even if they did not realise its powers. . . 

Deer milk boosts muscle mass, bone density study finds :

An 18-month-long ground breaking clinical trial investigating the health benefits of deer milk shows it improves muscle mass and bone density in older adults.

Government-owned farming company Pāmu, along with a South Island farming couple, milk 300 deer – 200 in Southland and 100 on the Central Plateau.

Pāmu has been pursuing deer milk as a viable dairy product for many years and deer business lead Hamish Glendinning said scientifically proving the nutritional benefits was vital when building market demand for New Zealand deer milk.

A new clinical trial was set up in conjunction with Massey University in June 2021. . . 

Entries open for the 2023 good employer awards :

New Zealand’s top food and fibre sector employers are being called on to enter the 2023 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director investment skills and performance Cheyne Gillooly says people are at the heart of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector businesses.

“These awards are a fantastic way to showcase innovative ways in managing staff and spreading excellence throughout the sector,” he says.

“We’re on the lookout for employers, both large and small, who go above and beyond by creating productive, safe, supportive, and healthy work environments for their people.” . . 

Government should promote New Zealand’s excellent mining industry :

The Government should promote New Zealand’s excellent mining industry, not scare off investors with anti-mining rhetoric, says Straterra CEO Josie Vidal.

Straterra spoke to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee at Parliament today in support of its submission on the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill.

“We don’t support this Bill or its anti-mining tone. But if it proceeds, we want to keep the word promote in the purpose,” Vidal says.

“What’s in a word? A lot when it comes to the attractiveness of New Zealand to the investors we need for capital intense development, because we have a small population and not a lot of money. . . 

Rotorua to host international remote sensing forestry conference :

Rotorua and Whakarewarewa Forest will be the backdrop to a global forestry conference that is set to attract up to 500 remote sensing specialists to the city in just over 18 months’ time.

Scion has successfully secured a bid to host ForestSAT 2024, the most prestigious international conference on the application of remote sensing technologies for forest monitoring and modelling.

Previous conferences have been held in Germany, USA, Chile, Italy, Spain, France, Sweden and Scotland. For the first time the conference will be in Australasia over five days, starting 9 September 2024.

Scion’s general manager for Forests to Timber Products, Dr Henri Bailleres, says the event will be an incredible opportunity to showcase New Zealand and Scion. . . 


RMA replacement bigger monster


Federated Farmers is asking for the  Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill, which is to  replace the RMA, to be withdrawn:

“Farmers agree the costly, slow and unpredictable processes under the RMA need fixing, but in getting rid of the old dog the government risks replacing it with an even bigger monster,” Feds national board member and RMA spokesperson Mark Hooper says.

“We are very concerned that the NBE is riddled with new, amorphous terms, like upholding the interconnectedness of the environment, and a focus on well-being will launch New Zealand into a decade of court cases trying to understand what anything in the Bill means.”

The wider the focus the less likely anything is to be able to go ahead affordably.

Submissions to the select committee close today (Sunday, February 5) and Federated Farmers argued that requirements for decisions to promote 18 different system outcomes, alongside future well-being and interconnectedness, create an impossible maze for a Minister to navigate when setting new regulations.

“We could accept the pain of going through this process if we thought the new bills would lead to a better outcome in the end. Unfortunately, after a decade of court cases, farmers will be left with a regime that looks very similar to the one they have now, if not worse,” Hooper said.

“While the Minister has been singing ‘Stronger, better, faster’, I can’t help but think of The Who’s ‘We Won’t Get Fooled Again’.

“When the current RMA was introduced we were told it was ‘world-leading’; 30 years on, no-one else in the world has followed our lead in bundling all environmental law together. Under the new bill all the frameworks are still essentially the same and farmers will still need a costly resource consent for all the same things they do now.”

There are also some really concerning aspects to these bills for rural communities and local democracy. The bills propose to shift all planning decisions away from New Zealand’s 67 city and district councils to 15 new Regional Planning Committees. These Regional Planning Committees will have a mix of council and iwi or hapū appointees, none of whom will be directly accountable to the towns and districts they set the rules over, the Feds submission said.

Centralisation hasn’t gone well for hospitals and polytechnics and it’s not going to go well with Five Waters. The further the people setting the rules are from the people and places the rules affect, the less practical and more expensive they’ll be.

This would mean decisions relating to transport, parks, and urban planning in a place like Taupō would happen in Hamilton, Masterton would see decisions made in Wellington, and Timaru would be planned out of Christchurch.

“This of course happens fast on the heels of decisions to strip district councils of responsibility for Three Waters. If we aren’t careful, there won’t be much left for district councils to do but organise the Santa parade,” Hooper said.

“If the Government is serious about shifting New Zealand from our current three tiers of government to two, this should be done transparently. We don’t accept a situation where district councils are stripped of responsibility piecemeal.

“Federated Farmers knows the Government has put five years into this reform, so it won’t be easy to just start again. But we are also of the view that these bills need a fundamental rethink.

“The song the Minister should be singing is perhaps Kenny Rogers, Know when hold, Know when to fold, and when to walk away.”

The new Prime Minister has tasked his government with looking at policies and programmes it needs to ditch.

This Bill is one that should go.

The RMA is a dog, replacing it with a monster will add costly compliance, make business harder and more expensive and sabotage productivity.

The country needs less red tape not more and it certainly doesn’t need a replacement for the RMA that’s worse than what we’ve got.

Rural round-up


Road care and courtesy necessary at harvest time :

Harvest season is in full swing and Federated Farmers is urging motorists and the operators of agricultural machinery to show each other some care and understanding.

“Not everyone has appreciated the recent sweltering temperatures in some South Island districts but for arable farmers in the middle of harvesting, the golden weather is both a bonus and a race to get crops in before Mother Nature switches moods,” Feds Arable Industry chairperson and Waimate farmer Colin Hurst said.

New Zealand’s $2.2 billion arable industry is an important part of our export earnings, economy and employment – not to mention growers of wheat flour for your summer sourdough. During harvest, combine harvesters, large tractors towing implements and other over-size agricultural vehicles often need to use public roads to move between different parts of the farm and between farms.

“They’re bulky and of necessity – and by law – move at lower speeds than other motorists. . .

Call for NZ’s farmers to show city folk what they’re made of – Annette Scott :

The call is out for farmers to get involved with the Open Farms 2023 event.

Now in its third year, Open Farms is set for Sunday, March 12, with the day providing a platform for farmers to share their stories with urban Kiwis.

More than 7000 people have visited 82 farms throughout New Zealand in the past two years and Open Farms founder Daniel Eb is confident the initiative will continue to grow.

“There is no lack of interest to get on farm,” Eb said. . . 

A2 Milk selling infant formula in US could help improve its market performance  :

A2 Milk’s access to the United States infant formula market offers a lifeline to the company’s efforts to turn a profit in North America.

The company, along with several other big international competitors, wasrecently granted permission to sell infant formula in the US, to help offset a short supply in the domestic market, following a recall of products produced by Michigan-based Abbott Laboratories.

“We are supportive of the US entry as an earnings diversifier but the earnings benefit may only be minor,” Forsyth Barr said in a market report.

“The market is highly competitive, margins are structurally lower, and the market now offers limited ‘free’ near-term market share capture opportunities with the Abbott production shortage largely over.” . . 

Good quality and size a feature of 2023’s New Zealand export apple crop :

The New Zealand apple industry is expecting fruit of good quality and size as it heads into the 2023 export harvest season.

‘At the same time, we are estimating export volumes to be similar to last year’s, at an estimated 20.4 million TCEs-,’ says New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI) Chief Executive, Terry Meikle.

‘We are seeing a reduction in the volumes of European Union-bound traditional varieties such as Braeburn – which is expected to be down by 15 percent – as well as Pink Lady and Jazz. Some near market varieties like Fuji, NZ Queen and NZ Rose are also going to be down in volume.

‘However – and this bodes well for the industry’s future – we are seeing continued growth in trademarked varieties such as Rockit, Envy and Dazzle.’ . . 

Fedsvoice all your rural listening in one place :

Listen in for all the latest farming news and views – and voice your own thoughts.

That’s what’s on offer from the newly-updated Federated Farmers mobile phone app and website FEDSVoice.

The app enables farmers and growers to tap into audio recordings and podcasts from Federated Farmers, feeds from top country radio shows from around the world such as American Ag Today and the BBC, as well as a wide range of New Zealand farming shows and podcasts.

“What’s more, FEDSVoice enables farmers and growers to record their own thoughts on hot topics of the day, and we can use the best of that audio to share to a wider audience,” Federated Farmers CEO Terry Copeland says. . . 

Samuel Whitelock and Corteva Agriscience team up :

Corteva Agriscience is thrilled to announce they’re teaming up with New Zealand farmer and rugby player Samuel Whitelock. Though better known for his time spent on the rugby field than on an agricultural field, Samuel’s farming background makes him the perfect brand ambassador for Corteva Agriscience.

When Corteva, makers of Tordon™, Korvetto™, and many other great products were looking for a well-known New Zealander and farmer to voice their radio campaign last spring, they weren’t sure they could find the right combo. However, ad agency Harvey Cameron, the company who put Dan Carter in his Jockeys and Richie McCaw in a Versatile Home, suggested the famous farmer. Not only does Samuel have a Lincoln University degree in plant science and an 800-hectare farm in Hawke’s Bay, he also is a lifetime user of the Corteva brand.

After the successful radio campaign with Samuel in 2022, the relationship has developed into a full partnership, with Samuel becoming a Corteva Ambassador in January 2023. In addition to promoting Corteva products and attending events, his Hawke’s Bay farm will become a demo site.

“We are so excited and honoured to have Samuel as an official part of the Corteva team. We’re chuffed to have someone of Samuel’s calibre, a long-time customer, to talk about our product. This partnership has certainly put a cap on the year,” says Glen Surgenor, Corteva NZ Marketing Manager. . . 


Rural round-up


Southland contractors see ‘bumper season’ while parts of North Island suffer from wet season  – Sally Murphy :

Rural contractors in Southland cannot keep up with bumper grass growth, while those in parts of the North Island are having problems from the recent wet weather.

Southland has had a warm summer with consistent rain providing the perfect conditions for strong growth.

Southland Federated Farmers arable chair Sonya Dillon said farmers were happy to be out in the fields harvesting solid crops after a dry summer last year.

“We’ve been really lucky we’ve had a bumper season. It was a bit dull in November, which probably stole a bit of the yield, and now we are starting to get some dry patches, which has stolen some of the weight. . . 

Farm leaders are watching whether O’Connor keeps Agriculture as the climate lobby presses for methane action – Point of Order :

Farming leaders  are watching  closely  whether  Damien O’Connor keeps the key portfolios of Agriculture and Trade when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins  restructures his Cabinet.

O’Connor  has been one of the  few ministers during Labour’s term in office who has  won broad support for what he has done as minister, but  he  is now in his 65th year   and  the  heavy  load  he  has  carried  as minister  would have exhausted  any  but  the  fittest.

Hipkins  could be  under  pressure  from climate change lobby groups to put  a  new minister into  the Agriculture  role  to enforce tougher policies on reducing methane emissions from livestock  which make up nearly 40% of NZ’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Only this week  lobby group Greenpeace said polling showed 61% of New Zealanders  favoured regulating the dairy industry to reduce  water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions.  Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said this is a significant increase from 48% in a similar poll only a year ago, in December 2021. . . 

Farming without a road – Joanna Grigg:

Farmers in parts of the Marlborough Sounds have been cut off from truck access for months and now rely on service by sea. Joanna Grigg reports.

Farms in the Marlborough sounds carry about 35,000 stock units, with six large farm businesses carrying a fair chunk.

Emma Hopkinson and her husband ‘Hoppy’ run 6000 stock units over three farms: the home farm at Kenepuru, a 20-year lease block at Titirangi and a smaller lease block at Waitaria Bay. She wants those making roading decisions to know these farms are productive and earn export dollars for New Zealand.

“Without truck access, our business is hugely affected,” Emma says. . . 

Biosecurity NZ launches campaign to stamp out wallaby populations

Wallaby populations continue to grow in New Zealand, something which has prompted the launch of the first national awareness campaign.

The Tipu Mātoro: Wallaby-free Aotearoa is designed to shine a light on the extensive damage wallabies can wreak on the environment, asking Kiwis to report wallaby sightings.

John Walsh, Biosecurity New Zealand’s director of response says wallabies silently prey on the futures of forests and farms.

“We are working in partnership with regional councils, local iwi, farmers and landowners through Tipu Mātoro to manage and reduce populations, but we need everyone’s help.”

Leading US scientist to clear the air on methane and livestock – Sheep Central :

LIVESTOCK producers will have the air cleared on the measurement of methane in agriculture in a special lecture in Perth next month.

‘How well is methane calculated to determine livestock emissions?’ will be the topic for discussion at a public lecture in Perth and online next month by leading United States animal scientist and air quality specialist Professor Frank Mitloehner.

The professor from the University of California at Davis will speak on new methane accounting methods for agriculture and the and the climate neutral challenge.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the Western Australia Livestock Research Council are hosting Professor Mitloehner, who is director of the Clarity and Leadership for Environmental Awareness and Research (CLEAR) Centre. . . 

Take your pick from Seeka’s seasonal job variety :

Over 400 jobs are up grabs as this year’s Kiwifruit season takes off in Taitokerau, and there’s something for everyone.

Horticulture employer Seeka has collaborated with Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to deliver a series of job expos for the upcoming 2023 kiwifruit season.

Expo attendees will have the opportunity to speed interview for any one of these roles next month and walk away with a job, and a kete of information to support their employment.

New Zealand’s premier produce company has positions for forklift operators, graders, packers, and supervisors for the 2023 season. . . 

Rural round-up


Feds’ request to Hipkins: slow down, prioritise :

Slow down the legislative programme, get it right and concentrate on those things that will help families and businesses prosper.

That’s the request from Federated Farmers to Chris Hipkins as he is sworn in as New Zealand’s 41 st prime minister today, and then gets to work on the policy “re-set” he has talked about.

“Farmers have many times in the last three years expressed concern about rushed, poorly-consulted-on legislation that has proved to be flawed and impractical,” Feds president Andrew Hoggard says.

“The proposed replacement legislation for the Resource Management Act has those same hallmarks. . . 

Primary sector leaders draw up Hipkins wish list – Neal Wallace :

Food and fibre sector leaders are mostly in the dark about what their industry can expect from newly elected Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

The Food and Fibre Leadership Group is seeking a meeting with the new prime minister, with most members saying they have not had dealings with him.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said Hipkins has not been part of the government ministerial group, headed by the prime minister, that regularly meets with food and fibre leaders.

He fears the change in prime minister could mean a loss of contacts within the leader’s office as staff are replaced. . . 

Te Anau station’s court victory sees SDC drop two cases – Neal Wallace,

The Southland District Council has withdrawn two pending prosecutions for the clearance of indigenous vegetation after losing a legal battle with a Te Anau station.

The council’s environmental planning manager, Marcus Roy, said following the Environment Court decision against the council and in favour of Te Anau Downs Station, two prosecutions relating to the clearance of indigenous vegetation have been dropped. 

The court decision in favour of Te Anau Downs followed a four-year legal battle in which the council sought an enforcement order to prevent any further indigenous vegetation clearance on the station, and to require significant remedial work for clearance dating back to 2001.

Late last year the court declined the council’s application for an enforcement order and required it to pay costs and compensation of $300,000. . . 

Food security at heart of our cost of living crisis – Dr Catherine Knight :

New Zealanders have been finding their supermarket shop a painful experience for some time now, but in December many reached their pain threshold as food prices increased by 10.6 percent compared with 2021. Fresh produce was a whopping 24 percent more expensive – at a time of the year when it is usually plentiful and cheap. Economists reassure us this is just a momentary blip in an otherwise smoothly running economic system – prices will ‘soften’, inflation will ‘moderate’ and ‘better times will come’. These reassurances are comforting and most of us are happy to be soothed by this narrative.

But what if empty supermarket shelves and high prices are symptomatic of something much bigger? A sign of a broken system, now starting to show the tell-tale fissures of climate disruption, ecological collapse, energy descent and increased resource scarcity.

The immediate causes of surging food prices are familiar to most of us: high shipping costs, supply chain disruption, a tight labour market, disrupted weather patterns, spiralling on-farm costs such as fertiliser and diesel.

But all these factors are more connected than we might think.  . . 

NZ’s fatally flawed climate strategy – Dame Anne Salmond :

 A recent article in the Guardian based on research into Verra, the world’s largest global carbon-offsetting scheme, reveals more than 90 percent of its tropical rainforest carbon credits are worthless, making no positive impact on climate change. 

In a subsequent article, the Guardian shows that the fossil fuel company Shell was heavily involved in setting up Verra and its rules. Like New Zealand, Shell has placed carbon offsetting at the heart of its climate change strategy, although the research indicates that many of the claims made about the efficacy of such schemes cannot be trusted.

The implications of this research for New Zealand’s carbon strategy are fundamental. At present, New Zealand relies heavily on carbon offsetting to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, through the purchase of international credits and through the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

On both scores, New Zealand’s strategy is fatally flawed. While the government proposes to make up shortfalls in meeting our NDC with the large-scale purchase of international credits, given the research into Verra and its ‘phantom credits’, it is highly likely that in future this kind of offsetting will be tightly controlled or excluded under international conventions. This would leave New Zealand unable to meet its carbon targets. . . 

Fonterra looking to expand its international recipe contest – Nona Pelletier :

Fonterra sees international competition as a way to bake in global demand for New Zealand butter.

The best use of New Zealand’s bright yellow, grass-fed butter was the secret of success at the cooperative’s confectionary and bakery recipe contest which saw 60 of Japan’s leading chefs create a range of award worthy buttery treats.

Among the winning entries at the Fonterra Grand Prix included a bread named, Moon of Grass Fed Butter, and a confectionery called, Fonterra Butter Sand.

The competition was held in 2019-2020 but the winners had to wait until recently to collect their prize, which included a tour of New Zealand, as well the commercialisation of their winning entries, aimed at promoting grass-fed butter and dairy products in Japan. . . 

Rural round-up


Out of pocket and patience with illegal hunting – Guy Williams:

Otago and Southland already have the highest rate of unlawful hunting in the country, and now landowners, police and legitimate hunters say poaching appears to be on the rise in the region.

Public Interest Journalism Fund reporter Guy Williams looks at what could be behind the trend and what is being done to combat it. 

Pursuing a poacher on a farm near Lindis Pass last year left hunting guide Chris McCarthy with a broken ankle and thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Mr McCarthy was guiding a client on Forest Range Station on April 5 when he spotted Otis Feehan-Price through binoculars. . . 

Mates out to create buzz over alcohol brewed from honey – Annette Scott :

Two Kiwis on a mission set out to show the world that all of NZ’s native honeys – and not just mānuka – can make premium products.

New Zealand’s diverse native flora treats beekeepers across the country to a range of native Aotearoa honeys: kāmahi, pōhutukawa, rewarewa, rātā… the list goes on. 

But a singular focus on mānuka, say Wilbur Morrison and Edward Eaton, means beekeepers with rich natural native plant diversity walk away from their unprofitable hives.

And because native honeys that aren’t mānuka are being forgotten, NZ apiculture is becoming less sustainable.  . . 

Feds call for government inquiry on Tairāwhiti. damage :

Einstein’s words that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is relevant to storm damage in Tairāwhiti.

And it’s why Federated Farmers is calling on the government to promptly establish an inquiry into the factors that contributed to flooding and smashed infrastructure from ex-tropical Cyclone Hale, with the aim of not making the same mistakes again.

Feds national board member and former Gisborne-Wairoa president Toby Williams says no-one can do anything about heavy rain – “more than 300mm of it on our farm, that’s a quarter of our annual rainfall in January so far and the month isn’t over”.

But in a letter to Emergency Management, Forestry and Associate Environment Ministers, Federated Farmers said residual woody material/slash left in situ after exotic forestry harvesting was a significant contributing factor to increased damage and would need to be part of the brief provided to the inquiry team. . . 

Forestry see merit in a review of Tairāwhiti resilience :

The forestry industry is in support of an independent review of the challenges faced by the East Coast following ex-tropical Cyclone Hale, believing it will be beneficial for the region in the future.

The weather event affected a significant part of the country earlier this month. However, like Cyclone Bola in 1988, it was once again the East Coast community who felt the brunt of the weather with roads and bridges damaged, and power taken out.

Speaking for the Eastland Wood Council, Chief Executive Philip Hope noted the combination of factors that makes Tairāwhiti so vulnerable.

“We are managing an area almost twice the size of Auckland with three percent of their population, whilst sitting on some of the worst eroding country in the world. It’s a big challenge for many including the Council, but we are committed to the Tairāwhiti community.” . . 

Developer eyes turning gravel into gold – Jill Herron :

As a local council moves to corral burgeoning growth within its town boundary, a private developer is again looking to take it into the hinterland

An application for a 543-lot subdivision 10km north of Cromwell will be publicly notified within the next few weeks by the Central Otago District Council.

The developer is roading and infrastructure company Fulton Hogan, which is looking to develop a quarry site, one of 30 the company owns in the South Island.

With shops, travellers’ accommodation, business and industrial zones and a pencilled-in school site, the proposal would form a satellite town if it did not already have urban neighbours on its southern boundary. . . 

M. Bovis confirmed properties continue to decrease :

The Mycoplasma bovis Programme, led in partnership with MPI, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, continues to make good progress towards the eradication of the disease from New Zealand.

All properties in the high-risk area in Wakanui, which is under a Controlled Area Notice (CAN), have now been cleared of cattle. Testing will be underway shortly on the properties in the surrounding area. The CAN is on track to be lifted in mid-March.

The number of active confirmed properties has decreased this week with two properties now cleared of M. bovis and preparing return to farming without restrictions. There is one new farm infected with M. bovis which has well-established links to another already infected property.

“This brings the current number of Confirmed Properties to five (compared to 40 at the height of the outbreak), and we expect all of these farms to be cleared within the first half of 2023,” said M. bovis programme director Simon Andrew. . . 

Rural round-up


Growers warn of price spike after Cyclone Hale – Kate Green :

The price of fruit and vegetables could be set to spike because of the damage done to crops by Cyclone Hale.

Severe weather has been affecting Northland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa since Monday, as the cyclone reached New Zealand.

Farmers were advised by Civil Defence to move stock to shelter and higher ground, but crop farmers had fewer options.

Federated Farmers president for Gisborne and Wairoa, Toby Williams, said heavy rain could damage fruit trees, grapes and maize. . . 

Smart eco-solution to reduce phosphorus in waterways – Karen Kawawada:

Wastewater, whether urban or from farms, may not look or smell good. But to University of Auckland researchers, it can be the source of agricultural gold.

Engineers at the University of Auckland are designing way to clean phosphorus from waste water and turn it into fertiliser – a process with both environmental and financial benefits

Wastewater, whether urban or from farms, may not look or smell good. But to University of Auckland researchers, it can be the source of agricultural gold – well, a whitish-goldish mineral called struvite, anyway.

Phosphorus-rich struvite not only makes a great slow-release fertiliser, recovering it from wastewater helps clean up our waterways. . . 

HWEN legislation ‘unlikely before poll’ – Neal Wallace:

Speculation is mounting that the government will run out of time to pass the He Waka Eke Noa legislation before this year’s general election.

But interested parties disagree on whether any delay on HWEN laws would simply be a timing issue or if it could allow changes to the legislation.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said  the organisation’s own analysis and well-placed sources have told him the government will not have time to pass the empowering legislation before the election.

He said legislation still has to be drafted and with Parliament not resuming sitting until February 14, it will be March or April before any documents are ready to be put before Parliament. . . 


Rush of farm applications beat deadline – David Williams :

Conservation group fears a flood of applications is “a rush to develop the high country”. David Williams reports

Farmers on Crown pastoral leases flooded authorities with development applications just days before tighter protections kicked in.

The leases cover about 1.2 million hectares, or 5 percent of the country, spanning the South Island’s high country. Lessees have grazing rights and other activities need approval from the Commissioner of Crown Lands, an independent officer employed by the Crown’s land manager, Land Information New Zealand.

LINZ confirms it received 218 applications in November – more than the previous six months combined. . . 

Robots boost animal disease testing :

Could robotics be the secret to faster and improved animal disease testing?

It’s certainly a possibility, say Biosecurity New Zealand, who recently invested in a new antibody testing robot for the National Animal Health Laboratory.

The $580,000 high throughput diagnostic robot is the first of its kind in New Zealand and it is said will increase testing accuracy and consistency during future biosecurity responses.

“The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak gave us useful insights into how our laboratory could increase its capacity during a response. In particular, it highlighted the need for automation,” says Animal Health Laboratory manager Joseph O’Keefe. . . 

Government to pay more to farmers who protect and enhance the environment :

Farmers will receive increased payments for protecting and enhancing nature and delivering sustainable food production under the Government’s Environmental Land Management schemes, Defra has announced today (Thursday 5 January 2023).

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Farming Minister Mark Spencer announced more money for farmers and landowners through both the Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes, which will provide more support to the industry and drive uptake at a time of rising costs for farmers as a result of global challenges. He also confirmed an expanded range of actions under the schemes, which farmers could be paid for, would be published soon.

The changes mean farmers could receive up to a further £1,000 per year for taking nature-friendly action through the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). This new Management Payment will be made for the first 50 hectares of farm (£20/ha) in an SFI agreement, to cover the administrative costs of participation and to attract smaller businesses – many of whom are tenant farmers – who are currently under-represented in the scheme. SFI is already paying farmers to improve soil and moorlands, and an expanded set of standards for 2023 will be published shortly.

In addition, farmers with a Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement, of which there are now 30,000 across England, will see an average increase of 10% to their revenue payment rates – covering ongoing activity such as habitat management. Defra is also updating capital payment rates, which cover one-off projects such as hedgerow creation, with an average increase of 48%. . . .


“Vague improvements” not enough


Business confidence has hit a record low:

New Zealanders’ confidence in our economy has hit a record low, with Kiwis across the country feeling the crush of mounting pressures on their household budgets, National’s Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence survey released this morning fell in December to the lowest recorded since the survey began. Earlier this week the Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence survey also recorded its lowest ever level of confidence.

“The increasing costs of food, household bills and mortgages are all contributing to a bleak outlook for the coming year,” Ms Willis says.

“This year’s Christmas will be tough for many families. Kiwis across the country are looking at these rising costs and wondering how they are going to make them all add up.

“The surveys this week from ANZ and Westpac show how consistent this feeling of economic malaise is, with confidence tumbling across the board and the Government failing to show any light at the end of the tunnel.

“Instead of presenting a plan to reduce inflation and strengthen the economy, Labour Ministers have been distracted by pet projects such as Three Waters reform, the TVNZ-RNZ merger and hate speech laws.

“The Reserve Bank has instead been left to do the economic clean up job after the massive money-printing of recent years – cranking interest rates faster than ever before, meaning already struggling Kiwis will next year have much higher debt costs to contend with.

“National would rein in wasteful spending that’s adding fuel to the inflation fire, stop adding new costs and taxes, refocus the Reserve Bank on price stability, address worker shortages and let Kiwis keep more of what they earn.”

David Farrar points out the government has achieved a perfect score :

The latest ANZ  Confidence survey is out.

 confidence has fallen to an all time low of -70.2

But if you think that is bad enough, look at the breakdown by industry:

    • Services -64.0
    • Retail -68.6
    • Manufacturing -74.5
    • Construction -75.7
    • Agriculture -100.0

Yep Labour has managed to get it so that not a single farm or agricultural company in the entire country is optimistic over the next 12 months for the economy – a perfect 0, never before managed.

If farming farming confidence isn’t bad enough already, the government has tinkered with its plan to tax farm animal emissions but its not gone far enough for Federated Farmers :

Today the Government announced changes to their October plan to price agricultural emissions, but the vague improvements are simply not enough and Feds remain opposed.

While this Government remains focused on the primary purpose of using the price of methane as a ‘stick’ to achieve reduction targets, and without any commitment by the government to base those targets on what is the actual scientifically required reduction in methane from agriculture by 2050 for it to be warming neutral and causing no additional warming (the goal set for all other greenhouse gas emissions) , Feds remains opposed to pricing agricultural emissions.

Feds has only just received a copy of the government’s final report and is still considering the detail, or what seems to be a lack of detail.

“The response is so high level, we may not be able to clearly understand the detail until we actually see it when introduced as legislation next year,” Federated Farmers national president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) was a finely balanced plan that had buy-in across the agri-business sector. That didn’t mean all farmers agreed with it but had the government accepted it, we’d have had no option.

Instead they tinkered with it which united farmers against it.

They’ve walked back on the original tinkering but what was announced yesterday is too light on detail for anyone to know the costs and implications.

At a high level some of the changes seem to be improvements and it appears to have somewhat moved back closer to the original He Waka Eke Noa proposal from industry in May. But large concerns and unrealistic timelines remain in place.

“Feds stick by the position we took in our submission, that without a review of the methane targets based on what is required for warming neutrality and for methane to contribute no additional warming, we will not be giving our support to any pricing mechanism. Considering what is at stake, vague promises of an obscure future review with unknown terms of reference are simply not good enough.

“As our past president Katie Milne saw first hand when involved with the Agricultural discussions at COP27 on behalf of the World Farmers Organisation last month, the whole world is watching on, aghast at what New Zealand is doing, in a midst of a global food crisis, seemingly aloof to the potential impacts.

“Everyone else is talking about food security, and working with farmers to develop practical on-farm solutions. Only New Zealand is taking the punitive step of taxing efficient, unsubsidised food production, even if it comes at huge costs.”

There’s a global food shortage to which New Zealand isn’t immune.

Compounding that here, inflation and other cost pressures on production and processing have made meat and dairy products unaffordable for far too many people.

The tax will increase costs and reduce production making that worse and it won’t do anything for the environment when other less efficient producers in other coutnries increase their production to fill the gaps less New Zealand produce leaves in the market.

“At present, New Zealand’s 2050 target is based on cherry-picking data from a 2018 international report that explicitly warns against using this data to inform domestic policy. This clear warning was later reiterated by a lead author of the report, when he was in New Zealand in 2019. Frustratingly, despite these warnings, the New Zealand Government continues to justify the current unscientific targets by misusing this 2018 report.

“We need targets based on the NZ context, so farmers know what we really need to do to play our fair part in the global sense. This does not exclude us going beyond those targets if that is what customers want, or technologies come about that enable us to do more, and we should be open to that, but this shouldn’t be via regulation it should be through markets signals, or so that farmers are rewarded for going above and beyond, these regulations offer no carrots only a lighter stick for going over and above.”

A combination of the best science and market signals will achieve far more than a tax, and do it without the economic, environmental and social carnage the government’s plan will cause.

Rural round-up


Farmer spirits crushed by red tape – Craig Page :

An “onslaught of government regulation” has seen farmer morale plummet and some opting to sell properties rather than operate under escalating legislation, a Beef + Lamb NZ report says.

The BLNZ Lamb Crop 2022 report says some farmers believe the government has created  significant uncertainty, leading to concerns about the viability of the sector and rural communities.

“Sheep and beef farmers feel besieged and underappreciated for their contribution to food production, significant tranches of native vegetation, ongoing efforts to improve the environment and contribution to the New Zealand economy and society,” the report says.

In the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty region a “remarkable number of sheep and beef” farms came onto the market in spring, particularly in the King Country. . . 

Farmer confidence at 20-year low – survey :

Government policy and rising farm costs have seen farmer confidence plummet to a 20-year low, according to a Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey.

Farmers from all sectors are now significantly more pessimistic about the prospects for the broader agri economy, and a cocktail of concerns is weighing heavily on them, said Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris.

“As with recent surveys, rising farm input costs and government policy were the two major reasons cited by farmers with a pessimistic outlook for the year ahead,” he said.

Rising interest costs and falling commodity prices are also adding to the anxiety.  . . 

Plans for supplementary feed ‘out the window’ thanks to unseasonal heavy rainfall :

A Northland farmer says wet weather has been wreaking havoc on his efforts to grow supplementary feed.

Jason Smith, who farms sheep and beef in Ruawai, south of Dargaville, said he has had 400mm of rain on his farm over the last six weeks – he would normally get about 20mm in that time period.

“So far for us in Northland, we’ve had an incredibly challenging spring and start to summer,” he said.

“All of the normal seasonal patterns of rainfall have just been blown completely out the window by massive amounts of rain.” . . 

Police roll out changes for rural staff – Emma Hatton:

One percent of the police’s total workforce cover 50 percent of New Zealand’s geography. Emma Hatton reports on the challenges of rural policing and what’s being done about it 

Of the 41 recommendations handed down by the Independent Police Conduct Authority last year when it reviewed rural policing, all have been completed or are underway. 

A new Rural Policing Model was signed off by the executive earlier this year. 

And in the new year a Rural Inspector based at national headquarters will begin, a new role and major step in getting rural policing’s voice around the top table. . . 

Feds back Telethon to feed everyone for Christmas:

Federated Farmers is backing The Big Feed, an event calling on farmers and growers to donate one million meals worth of the nutritious food they produce to food banks during a telethon event livestreamed tomorrow.

The Big Feed will be livestreamed via social media on Thursday December 15 at 6am, and runs until 7.30 pm.

During the telethon farmers and growers can pledge to donate livestock, milk and other produce.

‘We support the idea no-one should have to go without nutrient-rich food in a farming country like New Zealand,’ Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Chapman Tripp assists Fonterra with Nestle partnership to develop net zero carbon dairy farm :

Chapman Tripp is pleased to have advised Fonterra on its new partnership arrangements with Nestlé, designed to help reduce New Zealand’s on-farm emissions and help both companies accelerate progress towards their greenhouse gas emission goals. The initiative includes a five year project to develop a commercially viable net zero carbon emissions dairy farm, to be run with co-partner Dairy Trust Taranaki.

The Chapman Tripp team was led by partners Alana Lampitt and Kelly McFadzien, and senior solicitor Dan Chan.

Alana says, “This initiative is a first for New Zealand. Agricultural emissions are a large part of New Zealand’s emissions profile; tackling them will require fresh thinking, including innovative on-farm solutions. It’s great to work with clients who are blazing a trail and looking for solutions that can be adopted across the industry.” . . 

Rural round-up


Where’s the Maori caucus? – Rural News :

Of all the submissions that Rural News has seen from the primary sector on the Government’s response to agricultural emissions proposal, none is so profound and damaging to Labour than that of the Māori Trustee and chief executive of Te Tumu Paeroa, Charlotte Severne.

It’s obvious to anyone with an atom of knowledge of the primary sector that the Government response would disproportionally affect Māori farming. However, the politicians and officials, who it seems seldom get beyond the outer suburbs of Wellington, didn’t see this coming.

In her hard hitting submission, Severne starts off by saying she has “grave concerns about the Government emissions pricing policy and it will disproportionately disadvantage Māori”. She rightly expresses her concern about “the impact on rural communities where Māori are often over represented”. She is bang on and this has already been echoed by Federated Farmers and the Wairoa District Council.

The killer blow for the Government comes when Severne says: . . . 

StatsNZ survey at 67 percent after Groundswell boycott call  :

Provisional results for Stats NZ’s Agricultural Production Survey shows only 67 percent of expected respondents have replied.

The survey conducted every five years provides up-to-date data that can be used for industry forecasting, policy advice and trade negotiations.

But this year farming protest group Groundswell urged farmers to boycott the census as it took issue with the emissions metric Stats NZ uses.

“The emissions metric used by Statistics NZ, called GWP100, overstates the impact of agricultural emissions by 400 percent, as found in a study by an Oxford professor, and is one of the main reasons cited by those who want to punish farmers and growers for their emissions,” the group said. . .

Cow bells will be ringing as dairy giant Fonterra gets on a financial roll – Point of Order :

Dairy giant Fonterra is on a financial roll and it wants  to send  a  new wave of confidence through the country’s cowsheds.  It  upgraded its earnings guidance to 50 – 70c per share from 45 – 60c per share.  Contrast that  with the 20c it paid for the 2021-22 season.

At the same time, it  lowered and narrowed its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range of $8.50 – $10.00kg/MS to $8.50 – $9.50kg/MS, with a midpoint of $9.00 while holding its advance rate. It also reported a strong start to the 2023 financial year.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said it was a positive start to the year given the current global operating environment.

“We continue to feel the impact of geopolitical and macroeconomic events, with higher costs at every point in our supply chain. It’s a similar story behind the farm gate with our farmer shareholders managing significantly higher input costs”. . . 

Fonterra upgrades earnings guidance and posts strong first quarter :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd today upgraded its earnings guidance to 50 – 70 cents per share from 45 – 60 cents per share and lowered and narrowed its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range of $8.50 – $10.00 per kgMS to $8.50 – $ 9.50 per kgMS, with a midpoint of $9.00. It also reported a strong start to the 2023 financial year.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said it was a positive start to the year given the current global operating environment.  “We continue to feel the impact of geopolitical and macroeconomic events, with higher costs at every point in our supply chain. It’s a similar story behind the farm gate with our farmer shareholders managing significantly higher input costs.

“Globally, milk supply from key exporting regions is down over the last 12 months. Production in Europe and Australia continues to be down, with US milk supply showing a slight improvement in recent months. Here in New Zealand, our milk production is down 2.9% on the same point last season.

“Global market volatility has prompted some softening of demand for whole milk powder, particularly in Greater China and this is reflected in our forecast Farmgate Milk Price range. We’ve seen increased participation from other regions which has offset in part the drop in demand from Greater China. While it’s still early in the financial year, we are happy with our sales contract rate.”  . . .

Danone’s New Zealand milk formular achieves carbon neutral certification [1] :

  • Karicare is the first milk formula product in Australia and New Zealand to achieve independent carbon neutral certification
  • The first certified carbon neutral products will hit major supermarket chains in Australia and New Zealand before the end of the year

Danone today announced that its iconic New Zealand milk formula, Karicare, has achieved carbon neutral certification for its Karicare Gold Plus+ Organic and Karicare Gold Plus+ A2 Protein Milk product ranges. Certification is provided by the Carbon Trust[2], an independent certifying body, against the globally recognised PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality. These two products in the range are the first to be certified as part of the company’s ambition for the entire Karicare portfolio to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The certification follows a rigorous product lifecycle evaluation covering sourcing, production, and distribution. Danone has also recently completed a range of actions at its spray drying facility in Balclutha on New Zealand’s South Island, where the base powder for products is produced. Part of the company’s global RE-Fuel energy excellence program to transition to resilient and renewable sources of energy, these actions include switching to 100% renewable electricity and investing in a new biomass boiler. . . 

Why lab-grown meat may never be on the menu – Anjana Ahuj:

Laboratory-grown meat has come a long way since 2013, when Google co-founder Sergey Brin bankrolled the first burger made from meat cells grown outside an animal. The patty, which cost about $330,000 to make, stoked an investor appetite for cultured meat and highlighted the technology’s perceived potential as a kinder, more climate-friendly way of feeding the world.

Seven years later, Singapore became the first country to sell lab-grown meat — nuggets formed from a hybrid of chicken and plant proteins — to diners and shoppers. The year after, the sector attracted $1.9bn of venture capital. Now another hurdle has been cleared, this time in the US: the Food and Drug Administration announced last month it had completed a “pre-market consultation” on lab-grown chicken, and raised no safety concerns with its maker, Upside Foods. The US Department of Agriculture still needs to carry out inspections before approval is granted but the path to commercialisation looks clearer.

Even so, key questions over the technology’s viability linger, including consumer acceptance, cost and the practicalities of scaling up laboratory production. Observers are also unsure to what extent non-meat proteins, such as tofu, are becoming a new dietary norm. . . 

Rural round-up


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


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


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


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


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. . .


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