Rural round-up

November 17, 2017

Fonterra launches plan to improve waterways:

Fonterra today launched an ambitious plan to help improve the quality of New Zealand’s waterways.

Based around six strategic commitments, the plan will underpin Fonterra’s efforts to promote healthy streams and rivers, including a strong focus on sustainable farming and manufacturing.

The release of the plan signals Fonterra’s desire to play an active role in delivering healthy waterways for New Zealanders and builds on the Co-operative’s previous efforts in this space. Recent examples include Fonterra’s commitment to restore 50 key freshwater catchments, its membership the Farming Leaders’ Pledge and work with the Department of Conservation on the Living Water initiative. . .

Feds Applaud Fonterra On Bold Climate Change Announcement:

Federated Farmers support Fonterra’s bold push to get to zero emissions of CO2 on the manufacturing side of the Co-operative, both in New Zealand and across its global network.

“And we await with interest to see what the contribution is that they will be making to reduce biological emissions, which whilst we have some promising options under development to control them, there is a lot of work still to be done,” Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Fonterra pledge will build on existing environmental initiatives says Feds:

Fonterra’s pledge to improve the nation’s waterways and environment is a commendable and achievable aspiration says Federated Farmers.

The dairy co-operative has outlined today ‘six commitments’ towards its target of reducing its environmental impact while ensuring a sustainable future for the dairy sector.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Chris Lewis said Fonterra’s declaration was a great opportunity and incentive for the dairy sector to build on those current and past environmental initiatives.
“The commitment to farm within environmental limits, will resonate with our farmer members who have already invested significant sums of money in protecting waterways. . .

Hawke’s Bay farm Olrig Station sold after being in family since 1859 :

A Hawke’s Bay farm which was in the same family since 1859 has been sold.

Olrig Station was sold at auction for $10.170 million by the descendants of HWP Smith, ending 158 years of continuous ownership. The long run ended with the final rap of the auctioneer’s hammer on Friday .

Interest in the 848 hectare property was strong and of the six potential buyers, four were Hawke’s Bay-based. . .

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Rural round-up

November 14, 2017

Landpro director gets time away – Sally Rae:

Otago’s Solis Norton and Kate Scott were recently named among the latest crop of Nuffield scholars. They talk to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about their work and the adventure that lies ahead.

Kate Scott quips that Landpro — the Central Otago-based planning and surveying company she jointly founded a decade ago — is “taking over the world, one small regional town at a time”.

From a staff of one to about 30 now, the business expanded  incrementally as its reputation grew, with more people and disciplines added, and there were long-term goals to maintain that growth.

An office was established in Cromwell 10 years ago and there were now also offices in Gore and New Plymouth. . . 

Passionate about energy – Sally Rae:

“It will be an adventure.”

So says Solis Norton, of Port Chalmers, who has been named a 2018 Nuffield scholar, along with Simon Cook (Te Puke), Andy Elliot (Nelson), Turi McFarlane (Banks Peninsula) and Kate Scott (Central Otago).

He expected it would be a  very busy time but  was looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.

Dr Norton grew up in Dunedin’s Northeast Valley and went to Massey University, where he completed a bachelor in agricultural science degree in 1996, a masters degree in applied science and then a PhD in the epidemiology of Johne’s disease in New Zealand dairy herds. . . 

North Island leaders up for Australasian agri-business award:

Three diverse and inspirational young agribusiness leaders have been selected from across Australasia as finalists for the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.
The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour for the industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

Lisa Kendall, 25, hails from Auckland, and is owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd, a business she established to provide agricultural services to people in and around her home city. She was a Grand Finalist in the 2017 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, and took out the People’s Choice Award, the AgriGrowth Challenge and the Community Footprint Award. Kendall plays an active role in schools, encouraging urban students to consider the career opportunities in agriculture. She is also vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club. . . 

Joint efforts on water quality – Rebecca Nadge:

The Otago Regional Council is working with Central Otago farmers in a bid to monitor and improve water quality in the area.

At a meeting in Omakau last week, local farmers discussed the strategy with ORC environmental resource scientist Rachel Ozanne and environmental officer Melanie Heather.

The plan involves ongoing testing of water at Thompson’s Creek in a cross-section of three tributaries, as well as regular monitoring in Waipiata and Bannockburn.
Ms Ozanne said the project would continue until May, with testing carried out on a fortnightly basis. . . 

Strong interest shown for Future Farm programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for a “Future Farm” is in its final stages and farmers are being urged to get in touch if they’re interested in being part of this unique programme.

B+LNZ is seeking to lease a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units for the Future Farm, which will trial new technologies and farm systems. . .

TPP agreement safeguards New Zealand’s export sector:

Federated Farmers congratulates Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition government for recognising the importance of free trade to New Zealand.

Following a frenetic few days of negotiations at the APEC summit in Vietnam, the New Zealand Trade delegation has succeeded in brokering agreement with 11 countries from the Asia-Pacific region- to move the deal forward.

Federated Farmers thanks all the Ministers and officials involved for their dedication and resolve. . . 

CPTPP important to maintain competitiveness:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the progress made towards realisation of a TPP agreement (now referred to as CPTPP).

“Timely implementation of the CPTPP market access arrangements is necessary to ensure New Zealand exporters do not end up at a tariff disadvantage into one of our largest dairy markets” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther

The trade dynamic for dairy in the trans-pacific region has evolved in recent months with the European Union and Japan concluding negotiation of an FTA agreement which delivers market access gains to European dairy exporters similar to those agreed for New Zealand under TPP.  . . 

Cultivate With Care After Big Wet – Bala Tikkisetty

Following the wettest winter on record, farmers are currently cultivating their paddocks for pasture or crop rotation.

As they do so, it’s important to be aware of and manage the associated environmental risks.

Sediment and nutrients from farming operations, along with erosion generally, are some of the most important causes of reduced water quality and cultivation increases the potential for problems. . . 

Argentina is saying hello to the world again – Pedro

We’re saying hello to the world again.

That’s the simplest way to understand last month’s elections in Argentina, in which the party of reform-minded President Mauricio Macri made important legislative gains, picking up seats in both chambers of our Congress.

 

As a farmer in Argentina, I’m pleased by this political victory—but I’m even more encouraged by what it means for my country’s general direction.

For too long, we’ve faced inward rather than outward. Although Argentina grows a huge amount of food and depends on global trade for its prosperity, we have behaved as if none of this mattered. The previous government slapped huge export taxes on farm products and didn’t consider the consequences. We stepped away from the world market.

This wasn’t my decision, but rather the decision of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the head of the Peronist Party. When she took office a decade ago, export taxes were already high—and she worked to raise them even more.

The American President Ronald Reagan once made a wise observation: “If you want less of something, tax it.” . .

Vietnamese farmers flourish in the Northern Territory to become Top End’s top growers – Kirsty O’Brien:

Michael Quatch arrived in Australia as a refugee of the Vietnam War. Now he is one of the most successful growers in the Northern Territory.

During picking season, work starts well before sunrise and does not end, but Mr Quatch is not complaining — he snags a few hours of rest here and there as he works hard to get the fresh produce from his farm at Lake Bennet in the Top End onto supermarket shelves.

The 45-year-old is the biggest hydroponic farmer in the Northern Territory, running 16 hectares of shaded cropping mainly producing tomatoes and cucumbers.

But Mr Quatch had to overcome obstacles difficult to fathom when you first meet this jovial, optimistic farmer. . . 

 


Wool’s greener than synthetic alternatives

November 2, 2017

The anti-wool agenda is shear crazy:

Federated Farmers is mystified and frustrated at the latest PETA attack on the wool industry.

The animal rights organisation is using Hollywood celebrities to promote its anti- wool agenda adding further stress to an industry experiencing challenging times.

“This is quite frankly ridiculous and another predictable example of what PETA resort to when they seek attention on a global scale,” says Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair Miles Anderson.

“The implication that shearing sheep is cruel or mistreatment is mystifying to most kiwis let alone farmers. Sheep naturally grow wool and if we didn’t shear them there would be great animal welfare issues, such as fly strike or discomfort having to carry a 5kg plus fleece around in the heat of summer. 

“Shearing is like getting a haircut, simple as that.”

Many moon ago sheep might not have needed to be shorn.

But modern flocks have been bred to produce wool and leaving them unshorn would be cruel.

That’s why farmers continue to shear their sheep even though the current price for strong wool isn’t covering the cost of shearing.

New Zealand farmers take the welfare of their sheep very seriously and have high standards that they and all those involved with animals including shearers, maintain as a point of pride.

The industry was working together to ensure all involved are well trained to maintain these standards.

“Our wool industry is globally renowned for quality and ethics, unlike PETA which has a particular worldview that they want everyone to conform to and, it’s obvious they don’t care how they go about achieving that,” says Miles.

It was a mystery why wool was being targeted by organisations claiming to appeal to the values of present day society.

“Wool is a truly sustainable and environmentally safe product. It has numerous attributes: being biodegradable, fire resistant and renewable. It’s also naturally insulating and therefore an energy saver, saving on household costs.

A common alternative to wearing wool is synthetics such as polyester and polar fleece, which leave behind microfibres when washed contaminating the environment.

“We have seen a rejection of products containing micro beads in personal care products, if the same scrutiny is applied to clothing, wool presents a fantastic natural, sustainable alternative,” says Miles.

Another benefit of wool is that it takes a lot less energy to produce a kilo of wool than any of the synthetic alternatives.

 


Govt business what not how

October 30, 2017

The Green Party is sticking to its plan to reduce dairy farming:

Prior to the election, the Green Party said it would pay more than $136 million for farmers to move to more sustainable practices and if it were in government it would invest in a Sustainable Farming Fund.

Green Party leader James Shaw said a priority would be putting together a package to help farmers make the transition from dairy farming.

He said the Greens wouldn’t be pushing for a cap on the number of cows.

But Mr Shaw said dairy farmers would need help to change.

“A lot of dairy farmers are still heavily in debt from the acquisition of the land and also the conversions and also it’s a pretty difficult time when the price of milk is still somewhat depressed.

“So you know the thing we’re going to be pushing hardest on is making sure that there is a package available for farmers to help them make that transition.”

Mr Shaw said dairy farmers needed to make the transition to more sustainable methods of farming.

Setting standards for water quality is the business of government.

Dictating how that is achieved is not.

It might be that dairying isn’t appropriate in some places. But other land uses aren’t necessarily any kinder to the environment and it could be that a change in management could make dairying a better option than any other form of farming.

Dairying has got a bad reputation, some of which might be justified. But some is based on historical practices no longer in use and some on alternative facts not supported by science.

Some of the latter comes from organisations with an anti-dairying agenda.

Jamie McFadden, a member of Federated Farmers North Canterbury executive, rightly asks is our freshwater fishery really in crisis?

Last year Fish & Game sought and received approval from the Department of Conservation (DoC) to place a winter fishing ban on all North Canterbury rivers below State Highway 1.

At the time, Fish & Game claimed the North Canterbury freshwater fishery was in crisis and it was because of farming.

Both DoC and the Rural Advocacy Network have requested the evidence supporting these claims. After 18 months no evidence has been forthcoming. DoC now realise they have been misled and have said they will not renew the fishing ban unless Fish & Game provide evidence.

Earlier this year I attended a public meeting in Rangiora organised by Fish and Game where the fishing ban was discussed. I presented our submission challenging the lack of evidence behind the fishing ban, particularly for the Hurunui and Waiau rivers. A show of hands was taken and the clear majority of the 70 attendees felt the ban should not apply to these rivers. Of those who fished the Hurunui and Waiau the majority thought these were healthy fisheries. . . 

Clearly there are a range of factors affecting our freshwater fishery and increasing fishing pressure, particularly near Christchurch, is one of them.

A local fishing guide has for several years been undertaking the annual trout spawning surveys in the Waimakariri River. This year he reported better numbers than have ever been seen and some superb stream improvements by many farmers – the future is bright.

In late autumn I checked the middle reaches of the Hurunui River catchment and photographed numerous shoals of 10-20 trout. In one pool alone I counted 65 good-sized healthy trout.

A balanced report on the state of our freshwater fishery would acknowledge there are some healthy fisheries, concerns with some other fisheries and a range of factors affecting both. It is disappointing that Fish & Game has made no attempt to correct their misinformation in the media.

Many farming families are Fish & Game licence holders and enjoy the recreational opportunities our rivers provide. Farmers want to know what they need to do to fix any water quality problems they are causing.

There are many examples of farmers actively engaging in improving water quality and undertaking stream enhancements. Farmers want to work with organisations like Fish & Game but the continual attacks on farmers undermine the ability to achieve this.

We would like to see Fish & Game publicly drop the anti-farming broad brush ‘dirty dairy’ campaign, correct their misinformation in the media and develop a more constructive approach to freshwater issues.

Farmers, and others, are working to improve water quality and this report from Seven Sharp showing definite improvements in Taranaki dairy country.

Meanwhile, science is making progress with pasture species:

Research is in progress but plantain-based pastures may be useful for reducing nitrate leaching while maintaining or increasing milksolids production.

The urine patch is the major source of nitrogen loss to the environment on dairy farms and different forages can be used to reduce nitrate leaching, either by lowering the nitrogen loading in urine patches or increasing the nitrogen uptake from the urine patch.

Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL)

Research in Canterbury and Waikato the FRNL programme has found that urine-N concentration of cows grazing plantain was 56% lower than those grazing perennial ryegrass/white clover pastures, and 33% lower for cows grazing 50/50 pasture-plantain.

Within FRNL, diverse pastures that include plantain were identified as a promising tool for reducing N leaching. Modelling estimated that, at commercial scale, N leaching could be reduced by 10 and 20% when the area of the farm sown in diverse pastures was 20 and 50%, respectively. This was because of lower total urinary N excretion and lower urinary N concentration (Beukes et al. 2014; Romera et al. 2016).

Sustainability balances economic, environmental and social concerns.

Dairying generally gets ticks for its economic and social contributions and farmers and industry bodies like DairyNZ, are making good progress to address environmental concerns .

DairyNZ acting chair Barry Harris said last season saw dairy export earnings reach $13.4 billion, which is on par with the five-year average, and illustrates how well farmers have responded to the low milk prices of previous seasons.

“I see the decade ahead of us to be transformational for our sector. Never before have we had a stronger mandate for the dairy sector to concentrate on productivity – to produce more from less, and to do so sustainably,” says Barry.

“We support initiatives that incentivise farmers to use the best environmental practices. While the 2010s have been about dairy positioning itself for the changes ahead, I see the 2020s as heavily focused on making those changes.

“New Zealand’s environmental reputation, the reputation that gives us an advantage on the global market, relies on us upholding and improving our sustainability.” . . 

Thanks to good science, herd numbers can decrease while production increases.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said in 2016/17 national cow numbers fell to 4.86 million from 5 million previously, with the average herd size dropping five cows to 414.

“Yet production per cow set a new record – increasing by 9kg per cow (381kg MS/cow).” . . 

 

The government and its partners needs to stick to the what, not the how.

Good progress is being made and it will continue to be made not by political dictates but by good practice based on sound research.


Rural round-up

October 26, 2017

Cabinet sorted, now the work can begin:

Confirmation of the new coalition government’s ministerial portfolios will provide greater clarity for farmers and the wider primary sector, says Federated Farmers.

The Labour-led coalition today unveiled some names familiar to farmers and some new to be acquaintances. Farmers would have noted the dismantling of The Ministry for Primary Industries, which was anticipated, with the splitting away of Forestry and Fisheries. . .

Primary Industries Ministry scrapped:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is being scrapped with a stripped down agriculture ministry and a range of special purpose bodies likely to replace it.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the ministry would go because it was not fit for purpose.

In her list of Cabinet appointments Damien O’Connor was named as agriculture minister.

He would also have the biosecurity, food safety and rural communities as separate portfolios. O’Connor would also associate minister for trade and export growth. . .

Synthetic meats are on their way, and our farmers are going to be left behind – Rosie Bosworth:

‘Fake’ animal proteins are set to disrupt world markets – and much faster than our agriculture industry is anticipating, argues food strategist Dr Rosie Bosworth.

New Zealand’s agricultural sector has been having a rough time of late. If waking up to a centre-left government wasn’t enough of a nightmare for most Kiwi farmers, then the negative media attention the industry has been racking up in recent weeks should be.

For decades, our agriculture sector and farming community have enjoyed prized economic-darling status in New Zealand. Policy makers, ministers and farmers alike have been convinced that agriculture is untouchable, and that the lucrative wave of creamy dairy milk and premium cuts of red meat on the global market would last forever – even if private farmer profits did come at a broader social and environmental cost for the nation. . . 

Dairy prices have downside risk – Keith Woodford:

Whenever I write about the dairy price outlook, the key messages are about volatility and unpredictability. Nevertheless, right now the risks are weighted to the downside.

There is considerable nervousness within the export trade about the next GDT auction in early November.   The auction acts as a barometer for the overall market.

This next auction will either confirm or reverse an emerging trend where buyers have been purchasing for immediate needs, but then quietly stepping back to the sidelines in regard to later deliveries.  . . 

Retired Oturehua farmer as busy as ever in community

Ken Gillespie may be a retired sheep and beef farmer, but he is still just as busy as ever, as he is involved with the area’s heritage, ice sports, tourism, irrigation, minimum flows, and various community projects, and he is a master of the flat white.

He takes tourists on tours, sits on an irrigation company, as well as on water strategy and water user groups, belongs to Lions, and is a wool classer for the Merino Shearing competition.

Described by a fellow wool classer, Graeme Bell, as an [honorary] mayor of Oturehua, Mr Gillespie was raised on his family’s farm, just down the road from where he and wife Helen now live. . . 

Shearing: NZ team looks to restore pride in Aussie tests :

Another team chocked with world champions is crossing the Tasman this week intent on restoring a bit of Kiwi pride after the All Blacks’ loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane last Saturday.

A Shearing Sports New Zealand team of seven, including four World champions and two World championship runners-up, will be competing in shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia at the Australian national shearing and woolhandling championships in Bendigo, Vic, on Friday and Saturday.

There will be separate machine shearing, woolhandling and blade shearing tests, with New Zealand trying to make it two-in a row after winning machine and woolhandling tests at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March and a blades shearing test at the Waimate Shears on October 14. . . 


Vandals pollute

October 25, 2017

Was this random vandalism or misguided environmental activism?

Farming leaders in Canterbury hope a spate of vandalism was not motivated by radical environmentalists.

On Friday night, October 20, a valve was opened on a vat allowing about 6000 litres of milk to escape on a Leeston dairy farm and the same night 30 tyres on four irrigators on a Hororata farm, an hour’s drive away, were punctured by a battery-powered drill.

The dairy farmer whose vat was opened was Environment Canterbury councillor John Sunckell who said he was at a loss whether it was a burglar frustrated at not getting access to anything valuable or an environmentalist wanting to make a statement.

“I don’t want to draw a conclusion but it is hard not to,” he said, referring to the irrigator tyre slashing incident on the same night.

Sunckell said police asked him if it could have been a disgruntled employee but he did not think so.

In recent months Greenpeace activists had illegally occupied the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme, other environmental groups had openly pursued an agenda opposing irrigation and surveys in Christchurch had shown opposition to farming and irrigation.

Sunckell said he was talking publicly about the incident because the vandalism was reflective of a growing split in the community.

“We have got to get away from this urban-rural divide but I don’t know how we are going to do it.”

The volume of milk exceeded the capacity of the drainage and wetland filtering and containment system and the milk overflowed into a drain then a waterway.

So the vandalism caused pollution.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Michael Woodward hoped the two incidents were not motivated by anti-farming sentiment.

“It is hard to know if it is coincidental or the same people.”

If it was environmentalists, it was counterproductive given the tyres would be dumped and the milk ended up in a waterway, both damaging to the environment.

Irrigation was a contentious issue in Canterbury and Woodward said he would be disappointed if activists chose to vandalise private property to promote their cause instead of talking to farmers.

The federation’s provincial president Lynda Murchison was also reluctant to speculate on a motive but said if it was environmentalists she was saddened and fearful that people misinformed about water quality issues and the role of irrigation would resort to those tactics.

“Angry people damaging property never got anyone anywhere.” . . 

Whether or not the vandals were environmental activists they’ve not only broken the law they’ve added to pollution and waste.


Rural round-up

October 22, 2017

Irrigation a ‘positive’ in arid region – Sally Rae:

When Emma Crutchley first expressed an interest in farming as a career, her father told her she could ‘‘probably make more money doing something else’’.

But there was no changing her mind, even though farming in the Maniototo was not something for the fainthearted.

She grew up on the family sheep and beef farm, with her parents Geoff and Noela, and brother Bruce, and always loved the rural lifestyle. . 

Another feather in cap for shearing champs – Nicole Sharp:

Twelve thousand people, three days of competition and shearers and woolhandlers from 32 different countries transformed the ILT Stadium Southland in February during the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Eight months on and the event has been recognised as the best international event in New Zealand.

Months after the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were held in Invercargill, the event is still causing a stir.

Not only was it a success for the town, and Kiwis Johnny Kirkpatrick and Joel Henare, but the event has also been recognised as the Best International Event in New Zealand at the New Zealand Event Awards (NZEA) last week. . .

Feds ready to engage new coalition government:

Federated Farmers says it is ready to engage and work with the new coalition government.

New Zealand First has chosen to go into partnership with Labour and the Greens for the next three years and the Federation believes there is room of opportunism for its’ members, wider primary sector, and all New Zealanders.

“We congratulate new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition partners on finding a consensus to lead the country,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National President.

“Federated Farmers is looking forward to getting around the table and talking about the issues which affect our members and farmers. The primary sector is the backbone of the New Zealand economy so we anticipate the new government will be mindful of that when formulating policy.” . . 

MPI report predicts strong growth in primary exports in 2018:

New Zealand’s primary industry exports are forecast to rise 9.3% over the next year on the back of strong dairy prices and a return to normal productivity levels, according to MPI’s latest quarterly update to its Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries.

“Exports reached $38.1 billion in the year ended June 2017, an increase of 2.4% over the previous year, and $7 million higher than we previously estimated,” says Jarred Mair, Director of Sector Policy for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Dairy prices began recovering in the past year, which boosted exports, despite weather reducing production. The forestry sector also made a strong contribution to export growth for the second consecutive year, driven by record demand for log exports to China. This offset a decline in meat and wool exports. . .

Robust primary sector a solid foundation for the incoming government:

A flourishing primary sector with exponential growth will ensure the new Labour led coalition government starts office on a solid footing, says Federated Farmers.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report shows exports reached $38.1 billion for the year to June 2017, up 2.4% on the year before.

The country’s largest export, dairy, has rebounded significantly after several years of a downturn with increased exports of over 10%.

“I’m sure the new coalition government will be delighted to know the primary sector, the backbone of the nation’s economy, is in good shape and still a significant contributor to the country’s coffers,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice President.

“Dairy is obviously resurgent and it is anticipated the primary sector as whole will continue to perform with export value set to exceed $41 billion by next June. . . 

Novel meat-enriched foos for older consumers:

Highlights
• Older consumers sometimes struggle with traditional meat foods.
•We incorporated meat into unexpected food formats under new product categories.
•Bread, spaghetti, yoghurt, ice cream and chocolate were prototyped and tested.
•Samples had greater protein content and most were acceptable to proxy consumers.
•Products could provide the elderly with means to attain their protein requirements. . .

 


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