For want of workers . . .

19/01/2022

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The problem in New Zealand is not a shortage of horse shoe nails but a dire shortage of workers:

A critical lack of workers in New Zealand is pushing the meat industry to plead with the Government to urgently allow in more overseas staff.

Major meat processor and exporter Silver Fern Farms says it’s one of the most challenging years to date for accessing skilled labour. It says that the company’s plants are not fully manned and warns that livestock may not be able to be killed – especially if it gets dry – risking hard-fought international markets and valuable export revenue for the country.

“We are presently about 550 people short across our processing network. We have a number of initiatives underway to help address this, including raising our minimum productive rate by 10%,” SFF chief executive Simon Limmer told Rural News.

“However, we are constrained by the historic low unemployment rate here and the reality is that bringing in overseas workers is going to need to be part of the solution. In particular, we’ve been asking the Government to allow us to bring in AIP workers from the Pacific Islands. We’ve had this successful arrangement for 12 years, and it has increased production levels here as well as providing these workers and their family excellent earnings.” . . .

Staff shortages are delaying lamb processing. Feed covers have been good, lessening pressure to get stock away form farms, but recent dry weather could change that.

“The kill profile is late this season and any significant dry period from this point on, coupled with labour-related capacity reductions, will create livestock pressure on farm.”

Alliance Group’s general manager of manufacturing Willie Wiese told Rural News that NZ’s meat processing and exporting sector has a chronic labour shortage and this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Without sufficient labour, we cannot run our plants at the desired capacity,” he says. “The border closure, as well as the limited managed isolation spots, have prevented us from employing seasonal workers from overseas to help make up the shortfall in numbers we can recruit locally.”

Wiese says Alliance Group is currently between 200-300 workers short during what is an extremely busy processing period, in particular for the Easter chilled programme for the UK and Europe.

“Importantly, we require additional halal butchers. Over 90% of animals are processed in the halal manner because that provides f greater flexibility to send different parts of the same carcass to various markets. That means fewer opportunities for hardworking Kiwis and fewer value-add products going to our markets.” . . 

Prices for red meat are reasonably good this season but that could easily change.

“Building valuable relationships with customers takes time and is underlined by consistently delivering on a commitment to supply product to customer specifications. These relationships are hard won but easily lost when customers have many global choices for supply, and when we don’t have the labour capacity to enable us to deliver to customers’ needs and return greater value to farmers.” . . 

The dairy industry is also short of staff:

Dairy farmers say they urgently need 1,500 overseas workers within the next six months.

While farmers are happy with changes announced last month to the existing class border exception for 200 dairy workers, they desperately need more skilled workers from overseas.

Farmers were happy with the announcement but like so many form this government, the announcement wasn’t followed by action.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says the dairy sector cannot afford another calving season without skilled staff.

“We urgently need reinforcements,” he told Rural News. “We have managed two calving seadons by cutting corners. Staff are burnt out, stress levels are very high and another calving season like the past two years will result in some sad statistics.”

Securing MIQ spots remains the biggest hurdle to get workers into the country. Of the 200 border exceptions for dairy workers issued last year, only a handful arrived in the country. . . 

Border exceptions were welcomed but that’s only the first step in getting workers into the country.

However, Lewis says border exceptions are useless unless the overseas workers can secure MIQ spots.

“I suspect the electric driverless tractor would make a appearance quicker than a MIQ outcome. Border exception is just the first part of the process of getting the overseas workers in,” says Lewis.

Employers and their workers are still faced with a complex and lengthy process to get employees into New Zealand and working on farms.

“Employers and their workers will need to work closely with their respective industry groups to sort MIQ, flights and all the associated paperwork.

“This is not an easy or cheap task for either party, but with unemployment at such low levels this is really the only option for much of the primary industries at the moment.” . . 

Rural contractors are similarly frustrated:

Despite rural contractors being told in mid-December they could bring in 200 skilled machinery operators into the country, not one has been given any MIQ space.

Rural Contractors NZ chief executive Andrew Olsen describes getting MIQ space as like peeling an onion.

“It’s layer after layer and it brings tears of frustration for our members who are already working impossibly long hours and as yet have not even been able to lodge Expressions of Interest for staff positions, which Ministers had approved to come in.”

Olsen says despite the best efforts of MPI staff to help find MIQ beds for the approved operators, the indications now are that few, if any, will be available until March at the earliest for rural contractors.

“This will mean many of them will pass on the option to bring workers in. It’s just too late, too hard and too stressful for contractors who are working their guts out trying to help farmers get in crops and ensure animals can be fed.” 

Olsen says RCNZ and Federated Farmers, supported by MPI, have done everything they could to help contractors meet a crushing labour shortage.

“We understand and respect that the resurgence of another Covid variant and border entry changes have put the squeeze on MIQ,” he adds. “That said, those risks would have been part of the assessment when we had Ministerial approval just on a month ago to bring in the desperately needed 200 machinery operators.”

Olsen says rural contractors whose work is essential to food production and our export economy, find themselves towards the back of the MIQ queue.

Olsen is now calling on the Ministers of Immigration and Agriculture and the Prime Minister’s Office to act.

“We received approval December 12 and now more than a month on we’re looking at another two months before the first arrivals,” he adds. . . 

Harvesting is well under way. Workers are needed now and the shortage will put pressure on existing staff which will increase the risk of accidents and crop wastage.

Primary industries have been one of few bright spots in the export sector.

When the other big export earner – tourism – is in the doldrums with little hope of a turn around in the short to medium term, the need for farming and horticulture to be operating at their peaks is even greater than normal.

The government has been warned about the worker shortage and the consequences of it and last month’s announcement of more MIQ spots gave employers hope.

But like so many other of its announcements it has failed to deliver and so for want of workers primary production and processing are under unsustainable stress.


Rural round-up

18/01/2022

2022 will be tumultuous for New Zealand’s primary industries – Keith Woodford:

This year is not going to be just any year for the food and fibre industries. On the prices front, things should go well for most products. However, on the policy front, it is the second year of the three-year political cycle, and that has implications.

This is the year when key implementation decisions must be made on multiple political issues. It is all about setting up the glide path for the next election.

For the food and fibre industries, and this includes carbon farming, these key decisions have potential to determine the path for the next decade. I reckon there is going to be quite some heat, and I am not referring here to the weather.

First of all, the good news. . . 

‘I’m where I’m meant to be’ farm life works out – Sally Rae:

Central Otago agronomist Jaimee Pemberton traded the city for country life and has not looked back. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae.

When Jaimee Pemberton was growing up in Timaru, she pondered three very different career paths — agriculture, marine biology and drama.

Those diverse options could have resulted in very different lifestyles, but the 28-year-old former city girl has no regrets about choosing a career in the rural sector.

“I just think I’m where I’m meant to be,” she said. . .

Stag fetches $135k at annual sale – Sally Rae:

The first stag on offer at Netherdale Red Deer Stud’s annual elite sale at Balfour this week lived up to its sale-opening billing, fetching a whopping $135,000.

The 3-year-old stag, which attracted a “huge” amount of interest before the sale, was sold by David and Lynley Stevens to a South Canterbury syndicate.

Mr Stevens described it as a big, quality animal with a “beautiful” head, and one that he would normally have kept as a stud sire if he had not had something else in the paddock.

It was a record price for the stud which was holding its 35th sale. . . 

Free lunchtime chats to boost farmer resilience :

Three of New Zealand’s foremost motivational speakers on resilience and mental wellbeing will offer tips for farmers and growers in a series of free online lunchtime talks.

Isolation and the sometimes stressful nature of agriculture, with severe weather and volatile trading conditions out of their control, puts pressure on rural families.

“The added restrictions, health risks and supply chain issues of COVID-19 have added another significant layer to that stress burden,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

That’s why Feds, along with the Dairy Women’s Network and DairyNZ, were delighted when a bid for funding from Worksafe’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund was successful. . .

Trev puts data squarely in the hands of the farmer with API :

Trev is excited to announce the release of its API, for the first time putting operational data squarely in the hands of the farmer.

The API development has been designed for farmers to build and control their Trev data, enabling Trev customers to automate data sharing within their own systems or to permission data to be shared with approved industry partners.

Trev customers have always enjoyed the benefit of building their own datasets and extracting insights directly from the Trev platform. This new API means farmers can now automatically transfer data to other platforms and services internally and externally, reducing their data burden.

Data can be taken directly from Trev’s platform and plugged into a farming business’ own internal systems and processes. Or should a customer choose, Trev has the ability to send farmer permissioned data to approved industry partner integrations. . .

Dairy farm gets $150G state grant to better manage cow manure:

Mecox Bay Dairy, a multigeneration family farm established in 1875, was a dairy until the 1950s, then a commodity potato grower before returning to cows in 2003. The farm, a rural expanse surrounded by multimillion dollar Hamptons homes, raises cows for beef and cheese and is one of a handful of Long Island operations offering sought-after raw cow’s milk.

The money will help Mecox Bay manage the excrement from its 23 milk-producing Jersey cows, a small and docile breed known for its high-fat milk, and more easily turn their manure into fertilizer.

A 1,000-pound dairy cow produces about 80 pounds of waste per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unmanaged manure contributes nutrients, disease-causing microorganisms and oxygen-demanding organics into the environment, the agency said. . .


Rural round-up

27/12/2021

Farms can reduce numbers but how much do you want to pay for food? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It used to be a refrain at the family dining table: “Why don’t farmers just…” followed by topical words such as “stop using glyphosate, insecticides, fertilisers?” or, more recently, “…reduce animal numbers”. The topic depended upon what had featured in the news, but my response, whatever the actual question, was generally along the lines of “they can – how much would you like to pay for food?

The timing, as the family tucked into the delicious offerings of farmers and growers, prepared by members of the family, was impeccable as the food purchasers remembered the size of the bill at checkout.

What generally isn’t remembered is that the food bill is now a smaller component of discretionary income than it was thirty years ago. Food prices have increased more slowly than incomes because of ever more efficient production to do with technological advances.

The dinner table questions were and are important. Scientists challenge the status quo and try to identify what knowledge is needed to make improvements. . .

Water battle won but ‘sour taste’ remains – Sally Rae:

“A hollow victory.”

You might think Tarras farmers would be whooping with joy that years of legal wrangling over the Lindis River could finally be over.

Instead, Alastair Rutherford feels it is a “hollow victory” after a High Court decision to dismiss Otago Fish and Game’s appeal against a 2019 Environment Court decision to set the minimum flow at 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640l/s.

“We still can’t get excited about it. For all the effort and time and energy, it’s still got a sour taste,” Mr Rutherford, a fourth-generation farmer, said. . .

King Country shearers set new world record:

Five King Country shearers have set a record with 3740 lambs shorn in nine hours.

The crew from Te Kuiti-based Fagan Shearing, aged between 18 and 35, began the effort at Te Pa Station at 5am on Wednesday.

Delwyn Jones, Llion Jones, Jack Fagan, Reuben Alabaster and Kelly Brill all beat their previous best, with their achievements establishing a nine-hour five-stands world strongwool lambshearing record.

The highlight of the day was Jack Fagan’s total of 811 lambs. . . 

TracMap founder cheers Ag rite help OmniEye board

TracMap founder Colin Brown has been appointed chairman of the board of Dunedin-based agritech company OmniEye.

OmniEye was spun off from Greg Peyroux and Benoit Auvray’s established company Iris Data Science. The non-intrusive camera-based scoring and monitoring system provided farmers with an “intelligent eye” over livestock, allowing for better decision-making for the welfare of their herd.

Mr Brown grew TracMap to become one of the country’s largest agricultural GPS businesses before taking the technology offshore, selling its Ag Aviation GPS system worldwide, and the ground-based job management system into the viticulture and orcharding sectors in Australia and North America.

Since retiring from TracMap, Mr Brown has become a part-time independent director and is currently a board trustee on the Malcam Charitable Trust and also chairman of Vibation Action Ltd, another Dunedin-based tech startup. . .

Mackenzie students’ frost mat invention for water troughs bags award – Shourabh Vittalmurthy,:

A trio of Mackenzie College students have scooped an award for their invention which prevents water troughs freezing over in the winter.

Year 11 and 12 students, Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, won the Te Arahanga Primary Industries National Excellence Award at the Young Enterprise Scheme National Pitches and Awards ceremony on Wednesday.

Their Flexi-Mat FrostEase invention is an outdoor grade PVC canvas and plastic mat welded together to create a layer of insulation to prevent troughs freezing over in winter.

The award, which is given in recognition to the YES company with the best business product relating to food or fibre, also came with $1000 prize money. . . 

Feds launches audio media platform for farming conversations :

Federated Farmers has launched an audio-based mobile communications platform, FEDSvoice, to deliver quality information to farmers and moderate safe conversations celebrating rural life and discussing the significant challenges that lie ahead.

A challenge that is top of most farmers’ minds is He Waka Eke Noa – the primary industries’ response to climate change and an agricultural emissions pricing mechanism. Feds National President Andrew Hoggard says it was the logical first discussion for FEDSvoice given the consultation date is closing in February.

“He Waka Eke Noa potentially has extremely serious consequences for rural families. We have made podcasts , hosted webinars, and we are also taking part in a roadshow in February with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ, because we simply must help farmers to understand and engage in the consultation process.

“FEDSvoice complements all of these and will keep conversation flowing and ensure we are accurately representing farmers.” . . 


Rural round-up

23/12/2021

Governments risk throwing good honey after bad – Jonathan Milne:

Mānuka honey producers on both sides of the Tasman will want more public funding to escalate a contentious international court battle over whether any one group can own an entire variety.

Analysis: Nicola and Robbie Patrick are preparing to extend their small Tasmanian business producing manuka honey, to push into the lucrative UK export market. “We will obviously be looking at the opportunities that will be there,” Nicola Patrick says. “With our hives, we are not big corporate players – in Tasmania we are family-run businesses. We will never compete as far as volume is concerned. We are more about quality at a boutique level.” 

Their company, Blue Hills Honey, may be a small operator – but it is challenges like these that are worrying a group of New Zealand mānuka honey producers. After a costly and damaging legal defeat in the UK this month, that opens the doors to so-called manuka honeys from around the world, the New Zealand group reveals it is seeking English lawyers’ advice on mounting an appeal. . . 

New share ownership model needed to combat fragmentation in Māori farm incorporation

The outgoing Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation chair says one of the biggest challenges facing the Māori farming organisation is the ongoing fragmentation of shares.

Mavis Mullins said the whānau of more than 9000 shareholders and descendants continued to expand as individual families grew, and many shareholdings were being broken into increasingly smaller fragments.

She said continued fragmentation would affect decision making, identity, connection and the wellbeing of shareholder whānau.

“I hope we never end up at a place where everyone owns a little bit of nothing because of that fragmentation and the disconnection of our whānau,” Mullins said. . .

Winner has found feet in the sheds Tracie Barrett:

Alexandra teenager Charis Morrell has been around sheep and shearing from before she could walk.

But it is only this year that the award-winning woolhandler has felt that “everything clicked” for her in the job.

The judges of the New Zealand Corriedale woolhandling championships at the Canterbury Shears in Christchurch last month took notice, the 16-year-old claiming her first senior title to add to three junior titles on lambswool over the past two seasons.

Champions run in the family — father Dion Morrell is a former shearing champion and world record-holder, and sister Pagan Karauria is also a world champion woolhandler. . . 

 

Farmers give $37,000 to Auckland Mission – push on to $100,000 :

The Federated Farmers “Farmers Feed Families” campaign is in its last week, and the farmer advocacy organisation is blown away by the generosity shown by Kiwis at Christmas.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams, who came up with the campaign to raise money for Auckland City Mission, says the struggle is real for families as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

‘Farmers Feed Families’ encourages farmers and growers to consider giving a wee bit to the cause via a Givealittle page which links directly to the Auckland mission. As at today more than $37,000 has been given and the push is on to get to the target of $100,000.

“We can do this and I ask farmers and growers to dig deep this week,” Toby says. . . 

Animal ID compliance on the rise:

MPI push on NAIT compliance pays off with almost 90% in 2021.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is warning against complacency as rates of compliance with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme continue to rise.

The scheme, which maintains a national database of cattle and deer movements, is a critical part of New Zealand’s ability to respond quickly to biosecurity threats, says MPI National Manager of Animal Welfare and NAIT Compliance, Gray Harrison.

“We take non-compliance seriously because of the potentially devastating effect these threats can have on industry and communities. . . 

Tree planting incentives ‘eroding’ Scotland’s food security :

Scotland’s food security could be ‘eroded’ if tighter tree planting safeguards on productive farmland are not implemented, NFU Scotland has warned.

While the union remains supportive of the integration of woodlands into farm businesses, it is ‘fundamentally opposed’ to largescale forestry expansion on productive farmland.

Such growth in recent times has been fuelled by non-agricultural businesses purchasing land for planting to offset carbon emissions and boost their green credentials.

At the same time, this is eroding Scotland’s capacity to improve its self-sufficiency in food, NFU Scotland warned. . . 


Rural round-up

22/12/2021

My thoughts on carbon farming – Pete Fitz-Herbert:

Manawatū farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert is worried about carbon farming and he’s got something to say about it.

As you sit by your prematurely harvested and quickly wilting tree this Christmas, ponder this – have you heard about this carbon farming thing?

I think it’s getting out of hand.

Most people don’t appear to understand it, so they think it doesn’t affect them, but it will very soon. . .

Looking on the bright side for 2022 – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Remembering the good things of life is a great resolution for 2022, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

In October this year, New Zealand was ranked eighth of 167 countries in the Legatum Prosperity Index.

Denmark topped the list, followed by Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg and then New Zealand. The UK is thirteenth and Australia sixteenth. The USA is twentieth.

We sometimes forget how good New Zealand is. . .

Feds ask for flood protection for all :

Canterbury Federated Farmers’ presidents are alarmed to hear urban based regional councillors wildly claiming entire towns should be shifted to avoid flood protection costs.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark warns councillors to remember to focus on flood recovery and river management for all ratepayers, not just a few.

“Proactive management of our flood protection works is essential for the wellbeing of our communities,” David says.

During 2021 most of Canterbury has been challenged by flooding, with Christchurch and Banks Peninsula the most recent areas receiving more heavy rain.   . . 

Feds survey shows slight uptick in farmer bank relationship :

Farmers are feeling slightly more satisfied with relationships with their banks but interest rates are starting to rise and some are reporting a tougher attitude from lenders.

Results from the November Federated Farmers Banking Survey show 67 percent of the more than 900 respondents are satisfied with their bank relationship, up 5.5 points on the May survey and a break in what had been a steady erosion in satisfaction since 2017 (when it was over 80%).

“It’s also pleasing to see that the 13.5 percent of respondents feeling ‘undue pressure’ from banks is down 4.4 points compared to six months ago,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“However, there are hints of more bumpy times ahead, with a quarter of farmers saying their lending conditions had changed since the May survey, and of those with changed conditions most said they were tougher rather than easier.” . . 

Fruit exports dominated by gold kiwifruit :

Gold kiwifruit continues to dominate fruit exports in an otherwise challenging market, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended November 2021, gold kiwifruit made up 47 percent ($1.9 billion) of total fruit export value, while green kiwifruit made up 23 percent ($923 million).

Both increases were quantity driven, with prices falling compared with a year ago. Gold kiwifruit have a traditionally higher unit price than green. Since the kiwifruit season in 2016, which is typically from March to November, gold has overtaken green in terms of value. In the 2020 season, gold kiwifruit also overtook green in terms of volume. . .

Rain dances don’t provide water security – Tom Marland:

Paradise Dam on the mighty Burnett River has now released more water than it can store at its reduced capacity of 170,000 megalitres.

Bundaberg farmers who started the water year on just 22 per cent of their allocations have been provided with a stay of execution, with widespread rainfall across the Bundaberg region and the Burnett River catchment.

Many farmers were facing significant crop losses across the region prior to the much-needed rain.

Despite assurances from the Queensland Labor Government that a decision about the future of Paradise Dam would be made before Christmas, it looks like Santa Clause will have come and gone before we see any leadership on water security in this state. . .


Rural round-up

16/12/2021

Record milk price is holding – Sudesh Kissun:

Last week’s rise in global dairy prices has further boosted the chance of a record-breaking $9 milk price for the season.

Whole milk powder prices – the benchmark for Fonterra’s milk price – to its farmer suppliers – broke the US$4,000/metric tonne barrier for the first time in six months.

Westpac has lifted its 2021-22 farmgate milk price by 10c to $9/kgMS, at the top of Fonterra’s updated forecast range of $8.40 to $9.00/kgMS.

Senior agri economist Nathan Penny believes the lower NZ dollar is likely to prove a windfall gain for farmers. . .

Fert prices hurt – Sudesh Kissun:

Federated Farmers vice president Chris Lewis claims farmers won’t be making much money this year, despite a record forecast milk price.

He says fertiliser prices have jumped 100%, wage bills are up 20% and hiring tradesmen has become more expensive.

Lewis says “market forces” mean farmers must pay more to retain staff in a labour-squeezed market.

While the record forecast payout must be celebrated and provides a buffer against rising costs, he doesn’t expect too many farmers to end up with a large surplus this season. . .

SNAs are great if you have the space – Lois Williams:

Telling farmers to protect what they’ve been protecting for a hundred years was never going to go down well on the West Coast.

But having a Significant Natural Area (SNA) or even several on your land need not be an outrageous imposition – if you have scale.

That’s been the experience of one of the region’s biggest landholders, Ken Ferguson, of Waipuna Station.

The Grey Valley spread he farms with his brother Mark has been in the care of Ken’s family since the 1860s and has 60 hectares set aside in significant natural areas. . .

Croptide raises $1m to help fruit growers battle water scarcity :

 Agritech startup Croptide, which transmits plant water health to a farmer’s phone within seconds, has raised $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 and Masfen Group.

Croptide uses internet-enabled sensors to provide accurate and timely water measurement data to fruit and wine growers battling the impacts of water scarcity brought about by climate change. The sensors are clipped to the plant, sourcing accurate water and nutrient readings directly from its stem tissue, a new, more precise approach to measuring plant health.

The company aims to improve water use efficiency for fruit and wine growers by 30-50%.

Four global businesses are among the first to trial Croptide’s technology, with T&G Global, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Cloudy Bay New Zealand, and Indevin have signed up for the summer pilots; along with large kiwifruit grower, the Ngai Tukairangi Trust. . .

MPI funding for transition to future orchard planting systems:

A project to increase the successful adoption of a new growing system with the potential to double orchard productivity, improve environmental outcomes, and boost labour efficiency has received $1.65 million of Government funding.

Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS) is a scientifically proven fruit tree growing system. It has the potential to double yields and improve fruit quality by bringing orchard rows closer together and growing trees in a planar (two-dimensional) structure. This maximises the trees’ use of available light.

The Government support, which comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures), sits alongside the $1.1 million committed to the project by Plant & Food Research, and industry partners New Zealand Apples and Pears, Rockit Global, and Summerfruit New Zealand.

The five-year project, led by Dr Ben van Hooijdonk and Dr Jill Stanley from Plant & Food Research, is being delivered with AgFirst Consultants NZ and industry representatives. The project aims to investigate barriers in adopting new growing systems, validate and refine FOPS performance, and support uptake of emerging technologies. . . 

MPI assessment of the potential for a new primary industry based on industrial hemp :

The NZHIA congratulate MPI on the release of their 60 page “Facilitating growth in the New Zealand Hemp Industry” report.

The report was independently prepared by Sapere and recognises the industrial hemp industry is “rapidly developing internationally, driven by recent deregulation and increasing interest in and demand for its use in a range of products”.

The report identified a number of comparative advantages for hemp production in Aotearoa New Zealand. Based on our strong track record in plant and food science and innovation, strong agronomic fundamentals, our “clean and green” image and availability of water in potential growing regions.

“These advantages can be leveraged to create a new primary food and fibre industry in regional Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Richard Barge, Chair – NZ Hemp Industries Association Inc. . . 


Rural round-up

11/12/2021

Tim Ritchie – iconic meat industry leader dies – Peter Burke:

A man who dedicated his whole working life to the meat industry died suddenly on December 5.

Tim Ritchie, 71, made an outstanding contribution in his many roles in the industry over more than 40 years working for Government, the private sector and the Meat Industry Association and its predecessor, the Freezing Companies Association.

After completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree in marketing and economics at Lincoln University, Ritchie embarked on a wide ranging international career in the red meat sector. He started off at Treasury but then moved to Towers International and then to Waitaki International, both in NZ and overseas. Ritchie told Rural News just after his retirement last year that working for Waitaki in London was the highlight of his career

“There as a 30 something year-old my job was to manage the Waitaki operation in the UK and Europe,” he said. . .

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals. Anti-farming lobbyistsprobably don’t mean this to be the outcome of their activities, but outcomes are difficult to predict, even when the predictor is an expert in the appropriate discipline.

Lobbyists are experts at getting noticed in the media. The negative coverage of agriculture this month has been extraordinary. Anybody who has read the press, listened to the radio, watched the television or gone to a cinema would be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand is an environmental cot case.

The reality is that pre-Covid, tourists rated the environment at the top of New Zealand’s attractions. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has the data. The reality is also that without dairy, beef and sheep, New Zealanders would not have a first-world and flourishing economy. . . 

Fonterra are farmers under ‘enormous pressure’ – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride has acknowledged that despite the co-op’s improved performance, many shareholders feel under enormous pressure.

He says the rate of change on-farm, Covid, labour shortages and environmental reforms have pushed many farmers into protest, and others out of the industry.

He told Fonterra’s annual general meeting in Invercargill today that some of that change is being driven by regulation.

“More so, it is being driven by consumer, customer and community expectations,” he says. . .

Another day at the office for Pip – Simon Edwards:

Is this one of the best rural photos of the year (even decade)?

It was snapped earlier this week by Pahiatua farmer and Federated Farmers member Nick Perry and has already been seized on by media as a compelling shot.

This is how Nick described what happend:

While crossing a culvert on farm I heard a bleat from beneath me and thought ‘bother there’s a lamb in there’. Knowing full well extracting the lamb might involve getting wet I put off the decision until later in the day. But the bleat was still emanating from the culvert that evening so I selected my two most experienced working dogs, a huntaway and a heading dog, and explained the situation to them. . .

Family living the dream on beef farm – Shawn McAvinue:

An East Otago egg farming family is giving cropping and cattle finishing a crack in the Maniototo.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a field day at Rotherwood, a 737ha beef and cropping farm near Ranfurly, last week.

The farm is owned by the Winmill family — Jeff and Aileen and their children Nina and Ben.

Jeff Winmill, standing on the steps of the homestead, told more than 80 people at the event, about the purchase and transformation of the farm. . . 

Ag records to tumble for Aussie farmers – Liv Casben:

It’s set to be a record breaking year for Australian farmers thanks to strong growing conditions and high global prices according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

If forecasts are realised, Australia’s agricultural production will reach a record $78 billion in 2021/22, with the most valuable winter crop ever expected worth $22.3 billion.

Meanwhile agricultural exports are also likely to hit a record $61 billion.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the good results are expected to be enjoyed across livestock and cropping, with 30-year price highs being experienced. . . 


Rural round-up

10/12/2021

Feds backs withdrawal from governments archaic pay agreement laws :

Federated Farmers supports Business New Zealand’s decision to opt out of the government’s plans for it to be a partner in implementing so-called ‘Fair Pay’ agreements.

Federated Farmers has already indicated it will not function as a mediator for the government’s flawed pay negotiation scheme.

It fully supports Business New Zealand’s decision.
“We support them and for the same reasons they outline we will also refuse to be a negotiating partner for agricultural employers.

“We call on other agricultural organizations to take a similar stance,” employment spokesperson and national board member Chris Lewis says. . .

Fonterra’s Flexible Shareholding structure gets green light from farmers :

Fonterra shareholders have today given the Co-operative’s new capital structure proposal the green light with 85.16% of the total farmer votes in support of the proposal.

The final votes on the capital structure proposal were cast at a Special Meeting in Invercargill early this afternoon.

Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

“Today our farmers have agreed. We have received a strong mandate for change with 85.16% of votes cast in favour of the proposal and 82.65% of eligible votes being cast, , 

Rural schools cry out for mental health support – Matthew Scott:

Without proper access to mental health services for students, teachers in rural schools are left putting out fires

On paper, it was a dream job.

Sarah* had taught at an urban intermediate school for six years before packing up and moving to the country.

Her new school in rural Manawatu meant teaching a class of 18 students rather than her old class of 31. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports increase by 27 percent:

The value of New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $693 million during October, a 27 per cent increase year-on-year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat was a standout performer with the value increasing by 25 per cent to $309m. The major sheepmeat markets by value were China, up 25 per cent to $131m, the United States, up 54 per cent to $46m, and the Netherlands, up 94 per cent to $29m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said a mixture of supply constraints and good demand in key markets had contributed to the high sheepmeat prices. These factors included Brexit-related issues and Australia rebuilding its sheep flock.

“The average Free on Board* (FOB) value for sheepmeat exports for the quarter was $12.52/kg,” said Ms Karapeeva. . .

Forest Owners say Fish and Game barking up wrong tree :

The Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality.

“Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says Phil Taylor, the FOA President.

“It is true that forests moderate rainfall entering waterways – which reduces the risk of floods. But that also applies to native trees – which Fish and Game wants a lot more of – as well as to exotics – which Fish and Game wants less of.”

“The same applies to water quality. Water emerging out of forests is cleaner than that flowing off farmland – irrespective of the type of forest or type of farmland,” Phil Taylor says. . .

Te Mata Exports acquire rights to Bay Queen™ Apple:

New Zealand produce exporter, Te Mata Exports Limited, has acquired the exclusive rights to a new early season apple variety.

Developed by Hawke’s Bay growing operation, Bayley Produce, the Bay Queen™ is New Zealand’s earliest export apple variety. Bay Queen™ has a vibrant bright full block red colour with crisp flesh and it’s smooth, sweet balance makes it broadly appealing.

Te Mata Exports and Bayley Produce have enjoyed a close working relationship for 10 years, originally partnering to manage the global sale and distribution of apples and summerfruit, and more recently working together to trial and commercialise the Bay Queen™.

The exclusive rights will see Te Mata Exports manage all tree distribution, planting, exporting and marketing. . . .


Rural round-up

22/11/2021

Feds honours the life and work of John Luxton:

Federated Farmers wishes to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of former Minister of Agriculture and dairy industry leader John Luxton who passed away today.

“We pay our respects to acknowledge and praise the work John did for New Zealand agriculture, especially the dairy sector,” Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says.

John was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2002 and his political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture.

“The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren’t for John’s work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015. . .

Farmers helping feed Auckland families this Christmas:

Farmers and growers are being asked to help put fresh food on the Christmas table for Aucklanders in need this year.

Federated Farmers has launched a “Farmers Feed Families” campaign aimed at raising funds for the Auckland City Mission.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams was dismayed to learn how many more Auckland families were struggling as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

“It only costs $135 to provide a box of food for a family of four, with enough good ingredients for about four days’ worth of meals. We are asking fellow farmers to help families pay for good, fresh food for Christmas. . .

Rural connectivity not ready for Covid-19:

Rural New Zealand is facing a COVID crisis thanks to the Government’s failure to secure their digital future, says National’s Digital Economy & Communications and Rural Communities Spokespersons Melissa Lee and Joseph Mooney.

“Alongside the Government’s failure to provide New Zealanders with a plan to get our country back in business and end the MIQ Lottery of misery the Government continues to leave rural connectivity behind causing real fears that families across our regions will be unable to access critical health services and information when COVID strikes their towns.

“Rural New Zealanders have already had to do the hard yards during lockdowns of the past 18 months facing network congestion, poor connectivity options and data limits that have seen many of them having to choose between their child’s education or keeping their businesses afloat. This is morally bankrupt for those working in the primary sectors keeping our economy intact. . .

Crunch is coming for agricultural contractors :

Federated Farmers’ concerns about the serious shortage of experienced agricultural machinery operators is proving justified as summer approaches.

A shortage of experienced operators is being felt across rural New Zealand, and the pressure is building on both farmers and rural contractors, Feds immigration and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Unfortunately, we all saw this coming a long way out. Federated Farmers has repeatedly explained the implications of having no international seasonal rural workers to the Immigration, Primary Industries and Workplace Relations and Safety Ministers, the Primary Production Select Committee and the CEO of WorkSafe.

“The shortage is leaving both contractors and farmers in the lurch and we have serious concerns for the coming season. These are complex machines that require experienced operators,” Chris says. . .

IrrigationNZ makes big strides with plans to deliver more in 2022 :

IrrigationNZ has made great strides in the last 12 months, with a revitalised strategy put to work propelling the organisation to new heights.

The organisation held its annual general meeting (AGM) via Zoom yesterday, and revealed to members that for the first time in three years the organisation has ended the financial year in the black.

Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning, who has been in the role for a year, is proud of her team’s performance, and is looking forward to continuing the good work into 2022.

“I joined IrrigationNZ just before last year’s AGM. We had just completed a restructure, decided to move the head office to Wellington, and were close to another annual loss,” says Ms Winning. . .

Producer prices increase :

Producer prices increased more in the year ended September 2021 than in any other year for more than a decade, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended September 2021, prices received by producers increased 6.2 percent, and prices paid by producers increased 7.0 percent.

“The increases in prices received and paid by producers in the year ended September 2021 are the largest increases since the years ended March 2009 and December 2008 respectively,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said. . .


Rural round-up

19/11/2021

Timber shortage hits fencing contractors with weeks-long delays :

A shortage of timber means some fencing companies are having to order product months in advance.

Shipping delays related to Covid-19 and an increased demand for new housing have tightened supply of timber this year.

Some have described the shortage of structural timber in New Zealand the worst in living memory.

Mike Renner, who runs Renner Fencing in Marlborough and sits on the board of Fencing Contractors NZ, said he had to order some materials three months in advance. . . 

Checklist helps farmers to be Covid-19 prepared :

Farmers: What’s your plan if someone in your family or among your staff tests positive for COVID-19?

As COVID-19 vaccination rates build and New Zealand begins to transition to coping with the disease without lockdowns and less reliance on managed isolation facilities, the agri-sector and Ministry for Primary Industries have been working together to ensure farmers are prepared.

The latest initiative is a checklist for farmers so that they can tick off preparation readiness in terms of personal wellbeing, and everything a neighbour or someone else coming onto the farm would need to know should key people have to go into MIQ or hospital – right down to the names of dogs and where their food is located.

The checklist is available on the Federated Farmers website and from the other groups that helped put it together: DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, NZ Pork, Deer Industry NZ, Poultry Industry Association of NZ and the Egg Producers Federation of NZ. . . 

Maui Milk signs with new distributor after China trade expo :

A New Zealand sheep milk producer with 13 Waikato-based suppliers has signed with a new Chinese distributor following an international trade expo in China.

The China International Import Export event is normally one of the largest expos each year, and despite Covid-19 forcing organisers to scale things back, it was still a significant show.

Twenty-two New Zealand companies took part in the event, including honey, wine dairy and fruit exporters.

Covid-19 restrictions limited expo visitors this year, but Maui Milk chief executive Leah Davey said there were still about 35,000 potential customers through the doors. . .

Drive to grow skills across the food and fibre sector:

A new partnership between Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games and Farm 4 Life Hub will allow participants in the third annual Allflex Clash of the Colleges to practise their skills before they take the field to compete against secondary students from throughout the mid and lower North Island.

The online video learning platform, Farm 4 Life Hub, has more than 750 videos, all focused on providing people with a better understanding of life and work in the rural sector. Founded by Dairy Farmer Tangaroa Walker, a Kiwi legend with an online social media following of over 250,000, Farm 4 Life Hub videos reach up to 1.6 million people per month, and the total viewership has surpassed 67 million since inception. Farm 4 Life is currently in the early stages of gaining accreditation for its educational videos.

Walker is an avid supporter of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust, and both parties are dedicated to lifting skill levels across the sector. . .

Residency edges closer for shortlist of new organisms :

A tomato plant virus is among seven organisms in line for deregulation, having recently established themselves in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) sought feedback on which new organisms should no longer hold regulatory status as “new” because they are effectively resident in Aotearoa. This deregulation process is conducted under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, for species that arrived after 29 July 1998.

“We have carefully screened the shortlisted candidates, and no longer consider that they are new organisms because they’ve been present in Aotearoa for some time. This is not an assessment of whether or not we want them in the country, just a recognition of their presence here,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s New Organisms group. . . 

Drench resistance silent production suppressor :

Three years ago, Taranaki sheep and beef farmer Graham Fergus began investigating the reason for frustratingly poor lamb growth rates and discovered an underlying drench resistance problem.

It’s a problem that has been impacting on productivity and profitability and is proving difficult to reverse.

In May 2018, Graham carried out a full faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) and found black scour worms (a species of Trichostrongylus ) were resistant to all drench families tested. All other parasites were susceptible to all drench families tested.

After seeking advice from his vets, Graham implemented three parasite management tools targeting pasture, refugia and drenching. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2021

Uncertain times ahead – Peter Burke:

NZ sheep and beef farmers will likely face different risks to their businesses in the coming years due to the Covid pandemic.

Beef+Lamb NZ’s chief economist Andrew Burt says there may be more volatility and risks that farmers will have to manage. He says these will be ones that they haven’t had to think about before or haven’t surfaced for over 20 years.

“It may be the case of unravelling the past and creating a new order.”

Burt confirms that while prices for meat are high at present, this is somewhat shielding significant rises in on-farm costs. He also warns that inflation could have a negative effect on farm profits. . . 

MIQ spots ‘bloody hard’ – Sudesh Kissun:

A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. Securing MIQ spots remain the biggest hurdle to getting overseas workers for the dairy sector.

Five months after the Government granted border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, just a handful of workers have arrived in the country.

Now in the dairy sector is pleading for 1500 overseas workers to be allowed into the country and self-quarantine on farms before the start of 2022 season to ease a severe staff shortage.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis says a lot of behind-the-scenes work is going with the Government. . . 

How Tomato Pete got lost and found again – Rachel Stewart:

This a story about Tomato Pete – a name given to him by a farmer amused by his vegetarianism.

Tomato Pete is the son of a friend I’ve known since primary school. She had two children to one man, who soon became largely absent from their lives. As a solo mother she worked hard to raise the kids on her own and, as is often the way, it wasn’t all beer and skittles. But it was okay.

I would show up in my truck every now and then, always with one canine or another in tow. Tomato Pete, a quiet town kid, was about seven when I noticed that he really came alive when he was around dogs.

At 13 he got his first puppy. Pip, a gentle-natured black mongrel, became his constant companion. (He’s still alive today, and enjoying his well-earned dotage). . . 

NZ wins big at World Steak Challenge :

Three New Zealand red meat producers won big at the World Steak Challenge in Dublin.

Anzco and First Light Foods won a gold medal each in the ribeye section, while Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef won three gold medals.

Hundreds of beef suppliers from around the world had their finest products judged by an independent panel of chefs and experts at the prestigious event.

Alliance general manager of sales Shane Kingston says the win reaffirmed the status of Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef as among the world’s best. . .

Gen Z it’s time to make your mark on New Zealand’s food and fibre sector :

Food and fibre sector leaders are counting on Generation Z (loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010) to take on the future of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and meet the challenges it faces.

The key to attracting Generation Z (Gen Z) to the sector will be making them aware of the scope of opportunities across the sector, says Madison Pannett, the Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar behind the report, Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

“I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join,” says Madison, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as a Senior Adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team.

“From my research, I found that Gen Z mainly associates food and fibre sector careers with roles on-farm and not with the wider opportunities that are available,” Madison notes. She says that sector leaders need to tell the story of the scope of rewarding and diverse roles available for Gen Z to contribute and work in line with their values. . .

Western Station buy-up goes way beyond government promises

The acquisition of five western stations by NSW National Parks now totals almost 400,000 hectares in the last year. If you add on travelling stock routes, a large land ‘grab’ would appear to be underway.

Graziers and the community that need them for their economies in the western division are rightly asking questions.

Although some of the purchases were flagged by the government, they are wondering what now is the wash-out from these buy-outs, given the original buy-up was estimated at 200,000 hectares.

It’s estimated that each station in private hands, adds about $500,000 a year into local economies. It’s certain that the national park version will do nothing like that. . .


Rural round-up

16/11/2021

‘M. bovis’ lessons will fortify system: report – Sally Rae:

An independent review panel is confident the lessons learned from the Mycoplasma bovis incursion — if acted upon — will enable New Zealand to have a “far stronger preparedness platform” for future animal disease incursions.

A review of the cattle disease’s eradication programme found it was on track to achieve a world-first eradication and made recommendations to improve the wider biosecurity system.

It was the largest incursion response ever conducted in New Zealand and, given the country was on track to successful elimination, was a credit to all involved, the report released yesterday said.

No response would ever follow a predictable plan but, in 2017, the readiness and response system was not as well prepared as it was thought to be, it said. . .

Study highlights dangerous disconnect rural hospitals face as specter of Covid-19 looms :

Rural hospital doctors are reporting a lack of support from DHBs during the first Covid-19 outbreak, in new research by the University of Otago.

Dr Kati Blattner, from the University of Otago, says there is a disconnect between different parts of the health system, when it comes to transferring patients, that often ignores both local expertise and the geography.

“This research puts the spotlight on a sector of our health system that’s generally invisible, as we see it out here, at the end of the dripline,” she told Morning Report.

The study involved interviewing 17 senior doctors across New Zealand in 17 different rural hospitals about their experiences planning for the pandemic. It looked specifically at issues in the way of transferring patients to other bigger hospitals so they could receive advanced respiratory care. . .

Fonterra farmers to vote on co-op’s capital structure proposal :

Fonterra has today announced it will proceed with a shareholder vote on the change to the Co-operative’s capital structure, which would give farmers greater financial flexibility and better enable the Co-op’s strategy.

Fonterra Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

The decision to go ahead as planned has been informed by a significant volume of shareholder feedback that shows strong support for the changes.

“The Board is unanimously recommending the changes to our capital structure to put us in the best position to deliver the value outlined in the strategy and protect farmer ownership and control of our Co-op. . .

Federated Farmers partners with NZ YOung Farmers to offer free memberships :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is excited to announce Federated Farmers has jumped on board as a benefit partner to offer a complimentary NZYF Federated Farmers Membership, exclusive to its members.

It’s already had a strong response, with more than 100 NZYF members having signed up within the first day of its launch.

With more members seeking tangible benefits, NYF CEO Lynda Coppersmith said she was thrilled to add the NZYF Federated Farmers Membership to the list.

“Providing a direct link with Federated Farmers for our members is going to benefit the sector hugely,” she said. . . 

Testing the waters – Country Life:

Christine Finnigan is scanning the stream bed looking for kākahi.

“I found one and it’s very much alive,” she calls to fellow farmer Kim Bills and ag consultant Terry Parminter.

The freshwater mussels, especially baby ones, are a sign the creek is relatively healthy, even though it is in the middle of Bills’ dairy block.

The stream flows through a lush stand of bush, which has been fenced off from the young bulls bellowing in the distance. . .

HortNZ scholarship applications open to support next-gen growers:

Students considering a career in New Zealand’s growing horticulture industry are encouraged to apply for Horticulture New Zealand’s scholarships.

Applications for HortNZ’s annual undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships are open until 10 December 2021 for the 2022 study period.

HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley says that the scholarship programme supports students who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry to pursue their careers.

“Young people are the future of the horticulture industry. That is why HortNZ offers these scholarships – worth up to $10,000 – to support the next generation of innovators and leaders. . .

FMG Young Farmer of the year 2022 Otago Southland regional finalists announced :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Otago Southland Regional Final have been chosen for the Contest’s 54th season.

Featuring shepherds/sheep and beef farmers, a fencing contractor and rural and agribusiness bankers, only one person will be named 2022 Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

Ben Harmer, Isaac Johnston, Matt Sullivan, Andrew Cowie, Alex Field, George Blyth, Kurt Knarston and James Fox are the top eight competitors in the Otago Southland region, whittled down from 37 competitors over two district contests.

They will go head-to-head at the Otago Southland Regional Final on the 12th of February in Waimumu. . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/11/2021

Farmers urged to create Covid-19 checklist :

Farmers are being urged to create a check list on how to run their farm in case they get Covid-19 and can’t do so themselves.

Federated Farmers and other industry groups arranged an online meeting where farmers could put questions to experts about the virus, isolating on farm and vaccines to experts yesterday.

One specific question was what would happen if they’re not well enough to take care of their stock.

Federated Farmers team leader of industry policy Julie Geange said from a legal stand point the responsibility for animal welfare sits with the owner of the animal or the person in charge. . . 

Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalists announced for season 54 :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Aorangi Regional Final have been selected.

The preliminary stages of the contest have wrapped up for the region, with the top eight competitors selected out of 27, across two district contests (Aorangi North and Aorangi South).

Dairy farmer Peter O’Connor, DairyNZ Extension Partner Hugh Jackson, Senior Machinery Operator Lachlan Angland, Irrigation Management Technician Jess Cunliffe, new mother and casual shepherd Alice Perry, shepherd Tom Adkins, sheep beef dairy and walnut farmer James Hurst, and Daniel Durdle have qualified.

Only one person will win Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year, to qualify for the Grand Final in July, in Whangarei. . . 

Farmlands co-operative announces $8.1m NPBTR :

Rural service and supplies co-operative Farmlands has today announced an $8.1 million Net Profit Before Tax and Rebates for the 2020/21 financial year.

The result comes on the back of $2.7 billion in turnover and $1.1 billion in revenue. Farmlands’ more than 75,000 shareholders nationwide received $94.2 million in monthly rebates, discounts and loyalty reward redemptions over the course of the year.

COVID-19 again played a part in a result Chair Rob Hewett called “a pass mark and little more” and paid tribute to the hard work of staff across a challenging year. . .

Fonterra and VitaKey partner to enhance dairy’s contribution to health and wellness :

Looking to a future where it is likely that many foods will be more valued for their specific health benefits, Fonterra and VitaKey Inc. announced today a transformative dairy science collaboration to further unlock the benefits of Fonterra’s probiotic strains.

VitaKey specialises in precision delivery of nutrition – an emerging area of research that seeks to deliver the right nutrients, in the right amount, to the right part of the body at the right time.

Co-founded by Dr. Robert Langer, the VitaKey delivery technology platform for nutrients is based on technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developed at the Langer Lab, the largest academic biomedical engineering lab in the world.

Utilising VitaKey’s proprietary technology and customised solutions, Fonterra is looking to design dairy products that incorporate targeted and time-controlled release of specific dairy nutrients, starting with probiotics, in a way that locks in the freshness for longer and allows the nutrients to be more active and beneficial in the body. . .

Applications open for 2022 Meat Industry Association scholarships :

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat industry are encouraged to apply for a 2022 Meat Industry Association (MIA) Scholarship.

Applications are now open for four MIA undergraduate scholarships, providing $5,000 a year for each year of study, and one post-graduate award of $10,000 a year for each year of study up to a maximum of three years for both. The association also runs a mentoring programme connecting the scholars with industry leaders.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the programme is aimed at scholars from across a wide range of study areas, who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway into a productive, innovative and progressive sector. Attracting skilled people and supporting their development is essential to the success of the industry. That in turn is critical to the prosperity and wealth of the country. . . 

Hazard classification underway for two fungicides :

A proposal to update the hazard classification of two fungicides, in line with changes recently made in the European Union and Australia, is now open for public submissions.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has initiated an application for a modified reassessment of the fungicides, propiconazole and tebuconazole. Both are active ingredients in timber treatments, and are also pesticides used on a range of cereal and fruit crops.

There are 125 mixtures approved for use in this country containing either propiconazole or tebuconazole. They can only be applied by trained professionals in commercial settings.

The EPA’s modified reassessment seeks to update the hazard classification of both substances, after investigations by EPA scientists, and conclusions from the EU and Australia on adverse health effects on the reproductive system. . . 


Rural round-up

05/11/2021

Hey Glasgow we’re way ahead of you :

Federated Farmers believes Climate Change Minister James Shaw should not hesitate to sign the global commitment to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, because New Zealand is already playing its part and working hard to become even better.

The pledge, signed by more than 100 countries, is a commitment to work together to collectively reduce global anthropogenic methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.

The pledge does not mean that New Zealand must or should increase our current domestic 10% by 2030 biogenic methane reduction target, which already goes well beyond what is required for the GHG to achieve warming neutrality.

The pledge is clear in recognising that the mitigation potential in different sectors varies between countries and regions, and that the energy sector has the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030. . . 

Farmers are making good money from milk but they should brace to meet commitment to reduce the methane – Point of Order:

A surge in  prices  at the latest  Fonterra global  dairy  auction once  again underlines  how  New Zealand’s dairy  industry  is the  backbone of  the  country’s export economy.  At  the level they  have  reached, dairy farmers  can  look  to  a  record  payout    this  season  from  Fonterra.

Overall,  prices rose 4.3% in  US dollars, and, better  still, 5.1% in NZ$. Star  of the  show  was  the  cheddar  cheese  price, which shot up  14%,  with other  foodservice products also  strong.

The average price for whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, lifted 2.7% to US$3921 (NZ$5408) a tonne, prompting speculation it will push through US$4000/t.

A  record  payout  is  already  mooted  by  some some  economists  in  the agricultural  sector. Above  $8.80kg/MS, it might  dispel  the  gloom  being  cast across the industry  by Cop26, where the  focus has  shifted to the  need  to  cut methane  emissions. . . 

Food security needs certainty :

The Government must act now to ensure New Zealand growers have certainty in how Covid will handled, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“We are indebted to our growers and producers that provide the food security our country needs at this time.

“But Covid is here and it will inevitably impact essential services such as growers. . . 

Kit Arkwright appointed chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand Inc,:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc (BLNZ Inc) has appointed Kit Arkwright as the organisation’s new chief executive.

Mr Arkwright, who has been fulfilling the role of acting CEO during the recruitment process, has been with the organisation since 2017, most recently as General Manager – Marketing.

Prior to working for BLNZ Inc, he worked in the UK for Great British Racing – the central promotional body for the British horseracing industry – tasked with marketing the sport to the British public.

He succeeds Rod Slater, who retired earlier in the year after 27 years in the role. . . 

Horticulture students place in top three in international food marketing challenge :

Two teams of high-flying university students from Massey and Lincoln Universities have placed in the final three in the recent International Food Marketing Challenge.

The Lincoln University team, consisting of Grace Moscrip, Grace Mainwaring, Kate Sims and Emma Ritchie, came in third place. The Massey University team, consisting of Dylan Hall, Sre Lakshmi Gaythri Rathakrishna, George Hyauiason and Reuben Dods came in second place.

Massey student Sre Lakshmi Gaythri, who’s in her final year of her Agricommerce degree, says this year’s competition was essential for putting her learning into practice.

“It was a great way to challenge ourselves to learn about the structure of the agricultural industry in the US, working on the challenge problem and coming up with solutions all within a short period of time,” says Sre. . . 

Secure water supply offers exciting opportunities in Northland :

The new Kaipara water scheme now underway offers the opportunity to tap into this Northland farm’s horticultural potential. This Te Kopuru property provides a chance to secure an investment in a green field site with secure water access for high value horticulture, offering scale and superior soil types in a highly desired location.

Learn more about how the Te Tai Tokerau water storage project will transform Northland into a horticulture hub for high value crops – www.taitokerauwater.com

Horticultural investors looking beyond the Bay of Plenty for horticultural land with scale and water security can invest in a large Northland property offering excellent growing conditions. . . 


Rural round-up

02/11/2021

Farmers want clarity over vaccine mandates – Gerhard Uys:

Farmers and farm advocacy groups say they are not receiving clear guidelines from the Government on how to navigate vaccine mandates and subsequent staff management for farm businesses.

Chris Lewis, national board member and Covid-19 spokesman for Federated Farmers, said Covid guidelines seemed to be a moving target.

“We have had no indication from [Government] what exact guidelines farm employers should follow. Farm businesses are no different to other businesses operating during uncertain times and need clarity. Are we allowed to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, what is safe and not safe, we don’t know,” Lewis said.

Lewis believed that businesses would begin to take the lead in determining requirements, with the Government playing catch up. Corporations like Fonterra have already begun setting some guidelines for milk suppliers to follow. . .

Farmer protest group keen to meet Jacinda Ardern for answers on new rules –  Rachael Kelly:

The leaders behind one of the biggest farmer protest group in New Zealand are seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and say they are sick of being ignored.

Groundswell NZ galvanised thousands of farmers in July and protests were held in 50 towns nationwide, but since then the Prime Minister has never directly responded to their concerns about some Government freshwater rules not being practical to implement.

Groundswell NZ founder Bryce McKenzie will be in Wellington next week, and it’ll be the second time the group has tried to get a meeting with Ardern.

“We’re hoping she’ll meet with us this time, because the people of New Zealand that turned out for our last protest have essentially been ignored,’’ McKenzie said. . .

 

A rule of thirds – Neal Wallace:

It was not their original intent, but Central Otago’s Lake Hawea Station is at the sharp end of what some termed contentious innovation. Neal Wallace meets manager David O’Sullivan.

DAVID O’Sullivan admits he needed an open mind as he oversaw the transformation of the Otago high country fine wool property, Lake Hawea Station.

The station manager says a combination of the skills of the staff, input from consultants and the branding and business backgrounds of owners Geoff and Justine Ross, founders of vodka company 42 Below, created a powerful team that is not wedded to a particular farming system.

That diverse thinking reflects the station’s shift to regenerative farming but also a different approach to managing carbon emissions and sequestration.. . 

Sustainability sells: strong wools’ half billion dollar export opportunity:

New Zealand’s strong wool sector is sitting on at least a half a billion dollar opportunity thanks to a wave of eco-consumerism, coupled with innovative Kiwi businesses pushing the limits of wool.

Since the 1980s the export price of strong wool has tanked from a high of around $10 a kilogram, to now just over two dollars. But as eco-consumerism rises and plastic products lose their popularity, a group of New Zealand businesses are ready to drive strong wool’s resurgence.

Strong Wool Action Group executive officer Andy Caughey says for the first time in forty years the market conditions are optimistic for strong wool, a courser fibre than the likes of fine merino, which is exceptionally resilient and versatile in its use for homewares. . .

Ravensdown renews sponsorship of NZDIA :

Entries to the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continue to be accepted online until December 1st as national sponsors continue to commit to the programme.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to confirm that Ravensdown have renewed their sponsorship for the next two years.

“Ravensdown bring a particular style to their sponsorship. They care deeply about farmers and this is obvious through the Relief Milking Fund and that they want to be involved with education and development of farmers’ businesses and careers,” says Robin. . .

DJAARA’s new land acquisition protects country and culture – Annabelle Cleeland:

Culturally significant Buckrabanyule, in North Central Victoria, has been purchased by Traditional Owners and conservationists, in a bid to be protected from further land degradation and development.

Located between Boort and Wedderburn, the land covers 452 hectares, and was recently purchased by conservation group, Bush Heritage, to be jointly managed with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA).

The land is infested with the invasive wheel cactus, a thorny pest plant that classified as a weed of national significance. Djarrak rangers have spent recent months working at the site to control the weed, using mechanical chemical and bio-control methods. . . 

 


What Shaw should say

02/11/2021

Federated Farmers says the government will be missing an opportunity for real climate leadership at COP26:

Federated Farmers believes the government could work much harder at getting other countries to embrace the latest climate science and to take a ‘split gas approach’ to emissions reduction.

Following the science – that would be a novel approach to climate policy.

“This is what New Zealand should be talking about at COP26 this week,” Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change minister James Shaw announced New Zealand’s ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be updated to reduce net emissions by 50% below gross 2005 levels by 2030.

While it will be technically possible for New Zealand to work backwards and make this all-gas target consistent with the split gas approach taken domestically, Feds is disappointed the opportunity to show leadership on this issue globally has been squandered.

“This all-gases target misses an opportunity for New Zealand to show genuine leadership by promoting the settled science that while long-lived emissions need to reach net zero to halt warming, short lived emissions do not.”

Feds believes this inaccurate and outdated way methane emissions from agriculture are currently being estimated means that despite biogenic methane only needing to reduce by 0.3% a year to be warming neutral, the metric we keep using incorrectly states the gas is responsible for around 80% of the sector’s warming.

“This is not just an issue for New Zealand farmers, but farmers across the globe.

“Agriculture is the primary source of biogenic methane emissions but short-lived biogenic methane is not the same as long-lived carbon dioxide, it may account for 42% of New Zealand’s emissions if you use the blunt CO2 equivalent (GWP100) formulae, but it doesn’t account for anywhere near 42% of this country’s warming, and the issue is, at the end of the day, warming.

“We are still not accounting for biogenic methane correctly and if we don’t, it will lead to massive structural change in our land use, in the wellbeing of rural communities and our economy, all for little to no gain in global atmospheric warming,” Andrew says.

Nobody seems to be taking nutrient density of food when accounting for emissions nor does our government seem to be taking into account the Paris Accord clause about emissions reduction not being done at the expense of food production.

Nor is anyone asking how much more anyone is prepared to pay for food as production drops and the price increases.

If New Zealand and the rest of the world continue to treat biogenic methane as if it accumulates in the atmosphere in the same way as carbon dioxide, there is a real risk emissions budgets and targets will not reflect what is physically happening in the atmosphere.

In recent conversations with government Federated Farmers asked the government to showcase New Zealand’s leadership on biogenic methane reduction at COP26.

“The form of the NDC was one such opportunity to show leadership. While this opportunity has now been missed, we hope that leadership is shown in other areas, such as giving farmers the regulatory framework to use tools that reduce emissions while maintaining food production.”

The government’s recently released draft Emissions Reduction Plan contains very few actual new policies to reach the old 2030 NDC, let alone this new target.

“We want to see New Zealand farmers empowered to innovate their way to climate neutrality. New Zealand farmers are not only being let down by targets that go beyond what is needed for biogenic methane to reach climate neutrality, but also by an inability to use tools, such as the feed inhibitor Bovaer, to reduce emissions,” Andrew says.

“Mitigation tools are being given the regulatory green light internationally but in New Zealand we are constrained by red tape.

“We would be concerned if the government were to increase the ambition of our NDC simply to channel resources offshore into some other carbon-offsetting programme – when this investment could be made domestically.”

New Zealand is the only country in the world with clear and explicit targets for emissions reductions from biogenic methane.

While these split emissions targets need to be followed up with split emissions budgets, politicians and officials should be promoting, and not downplaying, these targets on the global stage.

“We are also alone in having specific policy to manage and reduce agricultural emissions without introducing subsidies, that is world leading,” Andrew says.

The KPMG Net Zero Readiness Index recently rated New Zealand as the world leader in agriculture emissions reduction programmes.

“Now we need our own government to step up, show real leadership, and get other countries to see how biogenic methane needs to be accounted for differently.

“We can show leadership to the world in other fields, like trade negotiation, in sports strategy and in human rights. Why can’t we do it for climate change?”

James Shaw ought to be telling COP26  that it would be better for the planet if New Zealand produced more food, instead its climate change policy could cripple the economy:

The announcement of a Glasgow climate change target of 50 per cent reduction by 2030 goes beyond New Zealand’s fair share and will cost the country billions of dollars, say National’s Climate Change spokesperson Stuart Smith and Energy and Resources spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“The previous National Government took a target of a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 to Paris in 2015, says Smith.

“At the time, National emphasised that, due to New Zealand having almost 50 per cent of our emissions from agriculture and having one of the highest levels of renewable energy in the world, this target was incredibly challenging for New Zealand to achieve.

“Labour has shown time and again it is good at making climate change pronouncements but poor on delivery. We have had a climate change nuclear-free moment, a climate emergency and now this target. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions are going up under Labour and record amounts of coal are being burned at Huntly to keep the power on.

That’s coal that’s far dirtier than that which can no longer be mined here.

“It is true that other countries have announced similar target numbers to this, but we need to consider that New Zealand already has high levels of renewable electricity production and higher levels of agricultural emissions. This makes a 50 per cent target much harder for New Zealand to achieve.

“The Government says it is following the science, but the latest IPCC report states methane need only reduce 0.3 per cent per year. This target goes miles beyond that.

“It is disappointing Labour hasn’t supported our farmers by reflecting this science and taking a split-gas target.

“To put the reduction of 50 per cent of emissions in just nine years in perspective, it requires New Zealand to reduce emissions by about 6 per cent per year, every year, from now until 2030.

“It is estimated that global fossil fuel use fell about 6 per cent in 2020 due to the Covid lockdowns, not only would New Zealand need to achieve this level of reduction next year, we would then have to double that reduction the following year, then another 6 per cent the next. And on and on it goes.

“What advice has the Government received on the ability for agriculture to meet such a target without large cuts in stock numbers?  What advice has the Government received any sector of the economy can reduce emissions by 50 per cent in just nine years?

Kuriger says the target will cost the New Zealand economy billions.

“New Zealand is staring at a mountain of debt right now as we try to lift ourselves up out of Covid. So far it is actually our agricultural sector which has held the economy together. Trying to pay back the Covid debt at a time we cut cattle and sheep numbers is a scary thought.”

Smith says there are major concerns about Labour is likely to need to lean heavily into international carbon markets.

“National supports using global carbon markets to achieve our targets, but there is no sense in setting a target that over-reaches and simply signs New Zealand up to a huge bill as we buy units from overseas.

“Most Kiwis won’t thank the Government for signing them up to a huge carbon markets bill.

“National supports climate action. We are committed to a highly ambitious 30 per cent reduction by 2030. But a 50 per cent target raises huge questions the Prime Minister and the Minister for Climate Change need to answer.”

Our economy, and the planet would both be better off if the money wasted on political initiatives like this was instead directed to research into science-based solutions.


Rural round-up

01/11/2021

Feds remain opposed to ‘Three waters’ reform – Sudesh Kissun:

The Government’s decision to push through its ‘Three Waters’ reforms despite widespread opposition is being slammed by farmers and politicians.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says the government’s announcement that Three Waters will be mandatory is a huge call.

“Federated Farmers, a majority of local authorities and many New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans for council three waters assets to be transferred to four new mega entities,” says Hoggard. 

“We remain opposed to this plan.” . . .

Blue River Dairy ranked number one in business growth :

Southland-based nutritional products manufacturer Blue River Dairy has taken out the top spot on Deloitte’s 2021 Master of Growth Index.

The rankings for the Deloitte Fast 50 and Master of Growth Index were released on October 28. The accolades recognise businesses that have shown significant growth over the past either three (Fast 50) or five years (Master of Growth). The Master of Growth Index, made up of the 20 fastest growing established businesses, is determined by revenue growth percentage.

Blue River Dairy has reached a staggering 1502% growth since 2017 – the highest percentage in the Index’s history and more than twice the growth of previous winners.

Blue River Dairy developed the world’s first sheep milk nutrition products using exclusively sheep milk protein and today manufactures nutritional products using milks from three different species—sheep, goat and cow. . .

Entrepreneurial farmers use own wool to make blankets, yarn – Country Life:

Angus cattle and merino sheep graze happily at The Grampians, a scenic 3100 hectare station near Culverden that goes from 300 to 1500 metres above sea level.

Third generation farmer Jono Reed has always had a fascination with bulls and cattle. He was only 14 when he started an Angus stud on the property.

“They’re an efficient animal that’s gutsy and can handle the hard times,” he says.

Now known as Grampians Angus, the stud now sells 40 to 50 bulls a year.  In the last on-farm sale the bulls averaged $11,000 each. . . 

Start-stop beginning as contracting season gets under way – Gerald Piddock:

Wet unpredictable weather has meant a sluggish start to the season for the country’s rural contractors.

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for the industry as they cut pasture for silage and plant summer crops.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Helen Slattery says heavy rain in parts of Northland had delayed work to get maize in the ground.

“They have had very intermittent and small windows where they have been able to do harvesting and planting,” Slattery said.

Northern Waikato had also been wet, while eastern parts of the region were dry and cold, which she says had delayed pasture growth for cutting grass silage. . . 

Pastoral opportunity assured with Lagoon Hill:

Sheep and beef farmers keen to invest in a quality pastoral property without the intense price competition from foresters have that opportunity in the Wairarapa this spring.

Martinborough property Lagoon Hill at Tutirimuri offers the opportunity to enter or expand a holding in a pastoral breeding unit at a realistic price level, thanks to its covenanted title.

Originally part of the much larger Lagoon Hill station that totalled 4,200ha, today’s title represents the portion of the property remaining in pasture after the rest underwent forestry conversion by its new owners in 2019.

The remaining 654ha includes the property’s original and substantial infrastructure assets. Conditions of its subdivision from the original title are that it remain in pasture and livestock farming for 25 years. . . 

Kaipara block offers potential with lifestyle:

A bare block presenting a blank canvas for home building and horticulture while offering a coastal lifestyle near Dargaville is attracting strong interest in a buoyant rural Northland property market.

The 7ha Redhill Road property at Te Kopuru offers purchasers the potential to capitalise on the district’s developing water reservoir scheme for high value horticultural production.

The easy contour property is presently run as a grazing block. But vendor Sam Biddles says the potential for horticultural development has been heightened, thanks to the nearby Kaipara Water Scheme which is part of the larger Te Tai Tokerau reservoir scheme that includes four major dam sites around Northland. . . 


Three Waters gift to Groundswell

28/10/2021

The government has given up on persuasion and is forcing its Three Waters reforms on us:

National understands the Government will force the Three Waters asset grab on councils and centralise local, ratepayer-owned water services, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“The Government will introduce a bill mandating their model, which would require every council to join one of the four proposed mega water entities and hand over control of their Three Waters assets.

“This move is tantamount to state-sanctioned theft of assets that ratepayers have paid for decades to own.

“Labour’s four-entity model is fundamentally broken.

“It will create needless bureaucracy, strip away local control, and put distance between communities and decision-makers. Water services will be controlled by a complex smorgasbord of unelected appointees and officials.

“Ratepayer-owned water assets will be bundled into these mega entities with virtually no accountability. The governance structure will be messy and confused.

“By forcing the Three Waters plans on councils, Labour would be expressly ignoring every mayor who pleaded for a pause, and the over 55,000 people who signed National’s petition calling for the plans to be dumped.

“National has feared this outcome for months.

“First, the Government tried a $4 million scare campaign of inaccurate cartoon ads, followed by a $2.5 billion slush fund to buy council support.

“Then Minister Mahuta took to Parliament to patronise councils, insult their intelligence, and preach the apparent virtues of an ‘all-in’ legislated approach forcing every council to surrender their water assets.

“Today’s announcement shows that all of the Minister’s earlier comments about ‘partnership’ were hollow, and her reassurances that councils could continue to opt-out were completely false.

“At a time when we need enduring, collaborative relationships between councils and the Crown, Labour’s legacy will be eroding trust and goodwill, and setting central and local government relations back by years, if not decades.

“National opposes the Three Waters asset grab. If Labour rams its plan through, we have committed to repealing the entity model when we form the next government in 2023 and returning seized water assets to councils.

“We’ll continue to fight Labour’s centralisation and control agenda. It’s vital we keep the ‘local’ in local government.”

Federated Farmers has serious concerns:

Rural residents concerned about the future of their water, sewerage and stormwater infrastructure should gear up to have their say, Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.

“Federated Farmers, a majority of local authorities and many New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans for council three waters assets to be transferred to four new mega entities.

“We remain opposed to this plan. The government’s announcement today that this will be mandatory is a huge call,” Andrew said.

Local Government Minister Nania Mahuta has said a working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts will be set up to work through design of how the new entities will operate.

“This group will have its work cut out to allay a multitude of concerns,” Andrew said.

“Top of the list for Federated Farmers are issues around governance and accountability. The complexity of rural water scheme ownership and operations has got rural people worried.

“How will the new entities ensure the needs of smaller and rural communities are not crowded out when setting investment priorities and plans?

“The proposed arms-length governance arrangements with directors appointed by panel, which are in turn appointed by yet another panel, weaken the accountability of water service entities to communities,” Andrew said.

There are also serious questions around the robustness of the government’s estimates of savings and benefits from moving to the new arrangements.

“The select committee process, and the public consultation that Minister Mahuta has promised, needs to be rigorous.

“Federated Farmers has already said this is cart before the horse stuff. We’re also in the middle of resource management reform and examination of the future of local government. The government has yet to convincingly demonstrate adequate planning and thought has gone into how the water services reforms integrate with these two very significant processes.” . . 

Don Brash says a government that imposes this is a dictatorship:

A Government that ignores reasoned opposition from local government by imposing 50/50 iwi-council co-governance through its Three Waters Plan is yet another step closer to a dictatorship.

Three Waters is the Government’s plan to establish four publicly-owned entities to take responsibility for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater from local councils.

Today, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed that the Government will force its Three Waters reforms on local councils after it was first pitched as voluntary .

Imposing a plan to give tribal representatives equal say with 67 councils over New Zealand water is outrageous.

Embedding 50/50 co-governance between councils and iwi who claim to represent 17 percent of the population is a major step towards creating a society in which everyone has to check their ancestry to work out their political rights.

Today’s imposition of the Three Waters Plan is a big step towards implementing the He Puapua Plan, which involves two governments under tribal control, one for Maori by Maori and the other a fully bicultural version of what we already have.

The forced introduction of Three Waters initially followed the prescription outlined in the He Puapua plan, which involved consultation with iwi groups first, then propaganda to soften up everyone else.

The frightening aspect of today’s imposition is that when councils expressed concern about asset confiscation and substandard representation, the Ardern Government went ahead and imposed it anyway.

This is an outrageous decision, and will cost the Government votes at the next election.

Councils are understandably angry :

Timaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen has today expressed extreme disappointment with the Government’s decision to mandate its Three Waters reform.

Mayor Nigel Bowen said that today’s announcement is a sad shift away from the principles of local ownership and accountability.

New Zealand’s social wellbeing should be underpinned by high-quality drinking water and reliable and safe wastewater and stormwater systems.

“We and our predecessor councils have invested strongly in our local water services over the past century on behalf of residents and we’re proud of our record,” he said.

“Timaru District has some of the best drinking water in the country, wastewater is properly treated and discharged, and stormwater systems are resilient.

“We remain committed to continual investment in our services to ensure that residents have the services they need and industry has the water it requires to grow.

“While we support the overall aim of the reform, we don’t think that the Government’s chosen model will deliver these aims. 

Few if any would argue against the aim of a sustainable way to ensure we all have clean water but there’s almost universal opposition to the government’s method of achieving that.

“We also support the right of our communities to hold us accountable – in fact, we think it’s crucial.

“When a pipe bursts in someone’s street or a stormwater drain is blocked, our residents know who to call. And if we don’t fix the problem then our residents also know who to blame.

“Our biggest issue with the reform is that it confiscates the accountability that all residents should be able to demand from their local authorities.

“After listening to the overwhelming response from our communities who don’t want local control taken away, we cannot in good faith support this model.

“However, we know that to make change, we have to have a seat at the table. In that regard, we are pleased to see the Government acknowledge the fundamental flaws with its reform, and intend to work with them to see if our concerns can be remedied.

“With the establishment of the working group, we hope that the Department of Internal Affairs forms an honest and open working relationship with Local Government rather than the opaque and seemingly predetermined exercise we’ve seen so far.”

“For the good of our community we have the expectation that the promised changes will be meaningful and deliver real local representation for people, rather than just be another PR exercise dictated by Wellington.

“Ownership in name only is a disservice to our residents and we hope genuine changes can be made to the reform for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

Marlborough District Council is similarly unimpressed:

“My reaction is one of great disappointment at the Government’s decision to make the Three Waters reform mandatory, as announced by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta this morning.”

“The Minister has stated the status quo is not sustainable and the case for reform is compelling. If this is the position why has there been no meaningful public engagement in the roll out of the reform proposals?”

“We provided the Government with constructive feedback on the reform proposal during the eight week period to 30 September 2021, as did other councils around the country.”

“In just three weeks the Government has analysed the feedback from 67 councils, leading many to the conclusion that the decision to mandate it had been predetermined.”

“The mandatory ‘all in’ approach to this reform will be a bitter pill to swallow for many in our community, judging by the feedback I have received over the past two months.”

“The Department of Internal Affairs has also confirmed that the boundary for Entity C and Entity D will be the Ngāi Tahu takiwā boundary but that water assets in South Marlborough will be ‘managed’ by Entity C. What is the logic in this?”

“We have been offered a few crumbs to address the widespread concern over the loss of local democratic influence and control, but it seems most of the decision has been largely taken away from our communities. In my view, this is a step too far.”

“However, the fight to exert a greater level of local control is not over – there will be two public submission and select committee processes over the next two years as the Water Services Entities Bill and Water Services Entities (Implementation) Bills progress through Parliament. There is a long way to go on this yet.”  

The government says this will save money?

How can it when it’s establishing a new and expensive bureaucracy?

And how will they pay for it?

They won’t be able to do it by rates as councils do. The only way they can do it is by metering.

Metering is user-pays and I’m not opposed to that in principle.

I am opposed to it being done by a body over which the public has no control and I am opposed to it being done in a way that means people in areas where councils have kept up their repairs, maintenance and replacement of water infrastructure will be subsidising those whose councils haven’t.

This is a gift to Groundswell which is planning the Mother of All Protests :

Groundswell NZ’s ‘Mother of all Protests’ will go ahead next month even if there are still Covid-19 restrictions in some parts of the country.

Groundswell NZ leader Bryce McKenzie said after the Covid-19 announcement from Jacinda Ardern on Friday, the group met online and decided to go ahead with the nationwide protest against some Government regulations, which the group says are unworkable for farmers.

“We’re going ahead. We’ve had an overwhelming response from our co-ordinators up and down the country. All we ask is that people stick to the rules, and stick to their own vehicles.’’

“If everyone does what they’re meant to do, there should be no problems,’’ he said.

The group wants freshwater improvement to be managed by catchment groups, and rules about significant natural areas and the ‘ute tax’ to be re-written or abolished. . . 

Support for Groundswell’s Howl of a Protest was far greater than expected.

Support for next month’s protest had been lukewarm but the government’s decision to force councils to give up their assets and replace local control with a bloated and undemocratic bureaucracy will fire up a wide cross section of people and give them the opportunity to show just how strongly they feel about this abuse of power.

One of the messages they will be sending is this:

You can sign the petition against the proposal here and donate to the campaign to fight the plans here.


Rural round-up

26/10/2021

Costs wave to break over farming – Hugh Stringleman:

A one-and-a-half percent rise in interest rates over the next year will be a large component of rapidly rising on-farm inflation.

After a decade of low interest rates, the forecast increase in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from 0.5% to 2% looks set to increase the interest portion of debt servicing by as much as one-third.

For individual farmers, the added interest cost will be dependent on total indebtedness and their mixture of fixed and floating rates.

The most recent Federated Farmers banking survey said the average farm mortgage rate was 3.8% and the average farm debt, across all types, was $4.3 million. . .

Peak milk underway in second Covid-affected season – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra is facing its second consecutive season where peak milk collection is affected by covid-19.

The co-operative is expecting to process 80 million litres a day over the next few months, while at the same time keeping its 12,000 staff nationwide safe from the virus.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says the co-operative had been working through a lot of management and business continuity plans to deal with covid while ensuring it was able to process the volumes coming through the factory.

“They are dynamic and they change because the environment changes,” Whineray said. . .

Shearing  his passion for six decades – Shannon Thomson:

Shearing — both the industry and the sport — has been a lifetime love for New Zealand Merino Shearing Society life member Graeme Bell.

A wool classer and master woolhandler, Mr Bell has been involved with shearing since the Merino Shears began in Alexandra in 1961.

He was 10.

Growing up in the centre of Alexandra, he did not come from farming stock, but as a young boy the lifesyle of the local shearers caught his eye. . .

Getting broadband to everyone – Mike Smith:

Recent episodes of Fair Go have highlighted the difficulties a number of rural people have in getting access to quality, reliable broadband and how tough this makes their lives.

Businesses can’t operate without a solid connection, kids can’t be educated from home when required, and life is just harder for everyone.

As chair of WISPA-NZ, which represents specialist internet providers who look after many rural users, I understand why having access to the Internet is now a vital part of everyday life.

The 37 companies that make up our group are all specialists in using wireless internet technology to get to the places phone cable and fibre don’t reach. . . 

Farmers urged to plan for dry summer – Shawn McAvine:

Farmers are being encouraged to plan ahead in the event of another dry summer.

Otago Rural Support Trust trustee and Otago Drought Recovery Committee member Amy Francis said the trust formed the committee after a drought was declared in Otago in April this year.

Her sheep and beef farm in Five Forks had been dry.

Recent rain had been ‘‘amazing’’ but the soil lacked moisture. . .

Country diary: My first sheep auction since Covid is an emotional one – Andrea Meanwell:

In my quest to buy some Swaledale gimmer lambs, I’m reminded that farmers in their 50s are considered youngsters.

As I walk through the double doors and into the auction, the smell of sheep and sawdust makes me feel suddenly emotional. During Covid I missed going to sales, missed chatting to other farmers and just being in a busy place with other people.

Today is one of the biggest sales of the year, the Swaledale and Rough Fell draft ewe sale at Kendal auction. Traditionally sheep were “drafted” off the fells after about four lambings, and sold to other farmers with better land for the remainder of their lives. While there are plenty of draft ewes here, there are also sheep of all ages from all over the Lake District.

I don’t really need to buy any sheep, but I have agreed with my son, whom I farm in partnership with, that should I see some Swaledale gimmer lambs I like, we can pay up to £70 each for them. We have calculated that at £70 they are affordable. Some people like to go to shopping centres for their retail therapy; I go to sheep auctions. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/10/2021

Benefits all round in NZ-UK free trade deal:

Federated Farmers says today’s announcement of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand is great news for consumers and farmers in both countries.

“The United Kingdom is walking the talk when it comes to promising a truly global Britain,” Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard says.

“We congratulate the New Zealand team of negotiators, officials and politicians who have tenaciously pursued this deal. The result is impressive. It’s a job well done.”

Federated Farmers has a long history of supporting efforts to free up global trade and it takes every opportunity to get producers in other countries to embrace trade liberalization. . .

UK FTA ‘back to the future’ :

Today’s announcement of a comprehensive new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom will offer some welcome variation in market access to New Zealand exporters, say the EMA.

“It’s great news for many of our export members, particularly in the horticulture, wine and honey sectors. The dropping of 97% of all tariffs from day one is a major success and the access to new investment in both direction is also significant,” says Chief Executive, Brett O’Riley.

“I don’t think New Zealand would have had this level of free access into the UK since before the UK first went into the then European Economic Community (EEC) back in 1973. That was a black day for many exporters, but this announcement is a bit ‘Back to the Future’ in terms of access.” . . 

NZ Apple industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Apples & Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing the country’s apple, pear and nashi growers, has welcomed the announcement from the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Trade Minister, Damien O’Connor, that an agreement in principle has been reached on a Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom.

“We congratulate Minister O’Connor and the MFAT negotiating team for achieving this outstanding outcome”, says NZAPI chief executive Alan Pollard.

“The United Kingdom is a very important market for our apples and pears, regularly featuring in the top two or three markets by volume. . . 

Wrestling with forestry decisions – Keith Woodford:

Carbon and forestry, increasingly linked to overseas investors, continue to outmuscle sheep and beef but nothing about carbon is simple

I had intended this week to move away from forestry to other topics. But once again, I have been drawn back to forestry because it is the biggest issue right now facing rural land-use.

For those who are farming sheep and beef there is the disconcerting reality, but also in some cases exciting reality, that carbon farming is now the most profitable land use.

Somewhat ironically, this changing land-use is also relevant to the dairy industry, which in combination with the other pastoral land uses is supposed by 2030 to reduce methane by 10 percent. It is looking as if much of this might now come from the decline in sheep and beef. . .

Meat industry backs mandatory vaccination for sector workers :

The meat processing industry says it would support a vaccine mandate for staff.

It comes after the Government last week announced it would make vaccinations mandatory for education and health sector employees.

The Meat Industry Association believes the Government should also consider a mandate for other high-risk sectors, such as meat processing.

Association spokesperson Esther Guy-Meakin said it had written to the Food Safety and Associate Health Minister, Ayesha Verrall to make its views clear. . .

Strategically developed farm Eco farm with high regard for the environment is placed on the market for sale :

A strategically developed New Zealand sheep and beef farm aligned to an international award-winning environmental enhancement project has been placed on the market for sale.

The 377-hectare property on the Mahia Peninsula between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay comprises rich pumice soils sustaining a mixture of fodder crops, fertile grazing pasture, and strategically planted native developments.

Over the past two decades, the farm – known as Taharoa – has been developed with a focus on creating an environmentally-sustainable operation. Two kilometres of the Whangawehi River flow through Taharoa. An organisation known as the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group was established to protect some 3,600 of land on Mahia Peninsula where Taharoa is located. . . 


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