Rural round-up

January 27, 2020

Land values slide – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy land values will slide over the next five years as farming is put under increased economic and environmental pressure, Rabobank says.

Tighter credit, reduced foreign capital and pending environmental change will all lead to softer dairy land prices in the short to medium term,  Rabobank’s Afloat But Drifting Backwards – A Look at Dairy Land Values Over the Next Five Years report says.

And an erosion of farmgate milk prices could put more stress on dairy land prices, author and dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The bank forecasts an average farmgate milk price of $6.25/kg milksolids for the five years – above the 10-year average but below recent prices. . . 

Federated Farmers backs call to slice agricultural subsidies:

Cutting agricultural subsidies that distort trade and production is a vital step in tackling world hunger and climate change challenges, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re right behind the messages on further reform of WTO rules on subsidies that the Cairns Group of major exporting countries put to world leaders in Davos this week,” Feds President Katie Milne said 

“New Zealand farmers are positive proof that reducing domestic subsidies drives innovation and food production efficiency, and ultimately delivers for the consumer in terms of quality, choice and prices, as well as for the environment.  Our meat and milk have one of the lowest carbon footprints per kilogram of product in the world.” . . 

Renewed call for easier trade in agriculture welcomed in NZ – Eric Frykberg:

A veteran trade lobby group emerged from hibernation in Switzerland last week to renew the call for easier trade in agriculture.

The 19-nation Cairns Group made its plea after ministers met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

The 33-year-old Cairns Group helped establish the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the 1990s.

But it went off the radar, after a later effort, the so-called Doha Round of trade talks, faltered. . . 

Total ban on livestock exports could threaten NZ’s trad – Fed Farmers – MAja Burry:

Federated Farmers is warning a ban on live exports would cut off an income stream to thousands of New Zealand farmers.

The government launched a review into the practice of exporting livestock in June last year, after New Zealand and Australian cattle died when being shipped to Sri Lanka last year.

The review is focused on cattle, deer, goat and sheep exports. A consolation document prepared by the Ministry for Primary Industries puts forward four options, which range from improving current systems to a total ban on the practice.

Public consultation on the review closed this week, with more than 3500 submissions being lodged with the ministry. . . 

Obstacles remain to a free trade deal with the EU – Sam Sachdeva :

Bold talk of an FTA between New Zealand and the European Union by the end of 2019 proved misplaced – and wrapping up talks in 2020 may also be a stretch unless major hurdles are overcome

By the end of 2019, Jacinda Ardern’s so-called “year of delivery” was as much about what her Government had failed to deliver as what it had, and near the top of the ‘not achieved’ list was a free trade deal with the European Union.

In fairness, Ardern was not alone in hoping a deal with the EU could be wrapped up swiftly. . . 

Maranoa Kangaroo Co-op offers graziers payment for roos- Sally Cripps:

A bold move in the kangaroo harvesting industry has been unveiled by the Maranoa Kangaroo Harvesters and Growers Cooperative.

The group based at Mitchell has resolved to introduce a 10c/kg payment to graziers for kangaroos harvested on their property from February 1, subject to conditions.

Among them are that both the grazier and the harvester must be members of the cooperative, a one-off $50 fee, and that the grazier must not apply for or use a Damage Mitigation Permit. . . 

 


Preaching damnation without salvation

January 20, 2020

Beef + Lamb NZ has responded to the emotion and misinformation in the teaching resource on climate change with facts and reason:

. . . Fiona Windle, Head of Nutrition at Beef + Lamb New Zealand said: “We support providing our children with information on climate change. The basis of this resource is founded on good intention and constructive discussion; however, we are concerned about the simplistic approach that has been taken and sweeping recommendations provided without context. While ‘reduce meat and dairy’ is a popular soundbite to roll out, the implications on our youngest and most impressionable in society could be far reaching and detrimental.”

“The recommendation to reduce meat and dairy consumption comes with no framework as to what represents a healthy diet. We ask the Ministry of Education; what should our children reduce their meat consumption to and what is the actual impact of doing so? There is no reference to the Ministry of Health eating guidelines which recommends consumption of both meat and dairy and no caveat as to the nutritional benefits animal-based foods offer. We know that a third of young girls here in Aotearoa – whose nutrient needs change during puberty – don’t achieve their daily iron intake requirements, a mineral vital for learning and cognition, yet there is a blanket statement suggesting they should just ‘reduce’ their meat consumption.”

It’s putting the health of the planet before health of people without even knowing how much meat and dairy children are eating and how much they need for good health.

Another puzzling recommendation in Climate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow is to go to ohmyveggies.com for meat-free recipe ideas. Beef + Lamb New Zealand fully supports increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, but questions why children are directed to a USA-based vegetarian website rather than using Kiwi organisations like 5+ A Day or vegetables.co.nz that could provide local, seasonal advice to New Zealanders.

Fiona Windle added: “It was very difficult to determine ohmyveggies.com’s nutrition credentials. The only ‘Tip & Hint’ listed on their website is to encourage people to drink apple cider vinegar for weight loss! This would never be recommended by a registered nutritionist or dietitian as an suitable method to manage weight loss and it’s not appropriate for school-aged children to be directed to this unvetted information.”

Jeremy Baker, Chief Insights Officer for Beef + Lamb New Zealand added: “The sector would welcome an opportunity to discuss the carbon footprint considerations lying behind the advice to reduce meat consumption. Absolute greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and beef have reduced by 30 percent since 1990. It is one of the only sectors to have met the country’s Paris Commitments. Given methane is a short-lived gas, the magnitude of this kind of reduction means our sector has not been contributing to additional warming for a number of decades and significantly alters our carbon footprint profile.

The exhortation to reduce dairy and meat consumption is based on the misguided comparisons of emissions as if they are all equal when they are not. If nutritional value was taken into the equation dairy and meat would be far better than many alternative food sources, for example almond juice.

He continued: “In addition, there is 1.4 million hectares of native forest on sheep and beef farms which is offsetting much of the remaining warming. We all need to be taking steps to address climate change. What we are seeking is better context and understanding provided so that the right decisions can be made about the changes that people can make.”

The teaching resource is a disgrace.

Any scientific merit in the contents is more than cancelled out by the simplistic approach it takes to a very complex subject. Some of the content, as Beef + Lamb explains is wrong, some is encouraging activsim rather than educating and some of it is preaching not teaching.

Worse still, like the worst hell-fire evangelists it is preaching damnation without any hope of salvation because it totally ignores innovation and technology.

Federated Farmers has launched a petition seeking to have the resource withdrawn until it has been reviewed and amended to ensure completeness, accuracy, and relevance to the NZ context.

You can sign the petition here 


Rural round-up

January 19, 2020

Avocado trees killed in Far North orchard :

An avocado orchard in the Far North has been vandalised – alongside the words “water thieves” – in an apparent protest against water usage in the parched region.

Windbreaks have been slashed and graffitied, water pipes have been cut and about 20 trees have been killed over the Christmas period at Mapua Orchard, near Houhora.

Orchard manager Ian Broadhurst said it wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was definitely the worst.

He said Mapua was part of a wider group of 17 orchards in the region that had applied to the Northland Regional Council for consents to draw water from the Aupōuri aquifer. . . 

Federated Farmers: Mycoplasma Boris tax hit unfair:

Federated Farmers is seeking Ministerial support for a change to tax legislation so farmers whose breeding stock are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort are not disadvantaged by the tax regime.

“Currently farmers whose dairy or beef breeding cows are valued on their books under the National Standard Cost scheme and whose cattle are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response will most likely end up with a hefty tax bill. This is not a fair outcome for affected farmers and we believe it’s an unintended consequence of the tax legislation,” Federated Farmers economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

All work and no play for southern food producers – Jacqui Dean:

For most of us, the first days of the New Year are spent resting, reflecting and rueing the excesses of the Christmas period.

The ham on the bone is being whittled away, the recycling bin is housing a few too many empty bottles and we’re all hoping that someone else will take the initiative and tidy away the Christmas decorations for another year.

But for a great many people, the early weeks of January are all about work.

With Central Otago accounting for nearly 60 per cent of planted summer fruit orchards in New Zealand, it’s fair to say that all eyes are on this neck of the woods as the country hankers after its fresh produce. . . 

Native trees supply looks tight – Richard Rennie:

The nation’s Billion Trees target by 2028 might be missed by a quarter because of a lack of capacity and resources to meet it.

The goal includes having 200 million native trees planted by 2028. 

However, a survey commissioned by the Forests Ministry survey indicates only 160m native seedlings can be supplied by then. 

That is based on a sustainable growth rate of 7.5% a year for a sector that has had 12-15% growth for the past three years but that has been described unsustainable over any length of time. . . 

‘Unusable’ plastic sitting at Smart Environmental has future in fence posts

Change is on the way for the classic Kiwi fencepost, with a new venture making them out of recycled plastic.

Future Post has joined forces with Smart Environmental’s Kopu site, collecting bales of recycling which will then be turned into fence posts.

The Smart Environmental plant services Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako and Waipā, and Future Post is expecting to save around 15 tonnes of plastic a month.

“It means there’s a reasonable percentage of plastic now being reused; however, there’s still a hell of a lot that is unusable and still has no market,” Smart Environmental’s Waikato and BOP regional manager Layne Sefton said. . . 

Food made from ‘bacterial dust’ is ‘ludicrous’, beef group says :

British beef producers have called a proposal to feed the population with synthetic lab food made from bacteria as ‘ludicrous’.

George Monbiot claimed in the recent documentary ‘Apocalypse Cow’ that conventional farming will end in 50 years time.

Instead of food produced from farms, the human diet will eventually rely on synthetic food made in laboratories, the environmental activist claimed in the show.

Monbiot visited a team of researchers in Finland who unveiled their process for food production – made out of bacteria and water. . .


Petition against preaching

January 17, 2020

Federated Farmers has launched a petition seeking to have the government’s climate change teaching resource withdrawn until it’s corrected:

The Ministry of Education has made a new Climate Change resource available to teachers on the Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website. This is not compulsory but is a ready-made unit of work designed to be picked up and taught by teachers. The “Climate Change: Prepare today, live well tomorrow” unit has significant information missing which would provide important context about New Zealand’s emissions, it makes food choice recommendations that are not supported from a health perspective, it refers to overly simplistic and inaccurate messaging, it refers students and teachers to websites that are not intended for primary school age students and/or are not appropriate for the NZ context, and it encourages activism. In its current form it is not appropriate for use by teachers in classrooms.

Some of the content is scientific but some is inappropriate, simplistic and/or simply wrong.

The resource is also incomplete. It covers the risks with nothing about the remedies that could be available through innovation and technology.

It’s not unlike telling children they will all get diabetes without giving them reliable nutritional information and informing them about insulin.

Sign this petition to demand that the “Climate Change: Prepare today, live well tomorrow” is removed from the TKI website (and any other distribution forms) until such as time as it has been reviewed and amended to ensure completeness, accuracy, and relevance to the NZ context. In particular:
1. Provide information about the short-lived nature of methane in the atmosphere, and the difference between emissions and warming
2. Provide context around NZs agriculture emissions which are largely methane based
3. Encourage critical assessment of “food miles” and “buy local” messaging which is often simplistic and inaccurate
4. Remove suggestions around food choices, beyond “avoid waste”
5. Remove teaching of activism
6. Ensure all material is age appropriate and relevant for the NZ context

Education should be encouraging children to think not stirring up feelings of hopelessness.

Teachers should be encouraging pupils to investigate, question and problem solve, not inciting them to activism.

And schools should be teaching not preaching.


Rural round-up

January 8, 2020

When aspirations trip up the export/import balance – Simon Davies:

As a country if we don’t want to lose half our shirt we need to ensure we are earning at least what we are spending, writes Otago Federated Farmers President Simon Davies.

I’ve heard several people of late, including a current labour MP, question the need for our farmers to produce more food than New Zealand needs for its own consumption.

It got me thinking …

When I was at high school, which was more than a couple of decades ago, one of my elective courses was economics. . . 

Declining dairy farm values are likely to continue – Keith Woodford:

Dairy farm values have been declining now for well over a year and there is no sign they will stabilise. The key issue is a lack of buyers with the necessary finance. The implications are starting to get serious.

There are multiple reasons why there is a lack of buyers. The biggest one is a change in bank lending policies. Those policies are set in Melbourne and Sydney where the big banks are headquartered. 

None of the Big Four banks are interested in new dairy lending unless the investor has high equity.  The related policy is that all banks now want repayments of principal whereas interest-only loans were the norm for many years. At least two of the Big Four banks are actively trying to reduce their exposure to New Zealand dairying. . .

Taranaki in 2050: Technology and diverse land use twin futures of farming – Deena Coster:

When Hamish and Kate Dunlop first floated the idea of using their land to grow quinoa, they raised more than a few eyebrows within the farming fraternity.

The Taranaki couple, who have four children, wanted to diversify the way they were using their 400 hectare Ararata Rd farm, and initially looked at growing hemp.

However, after some more research, they decided to go with the South American edible seed instead. . . 

From Taranaki hives to US shelves: Journey of Bees and Trees mānuka honey – Alyssa Smith:

When someone from the US puts honey on their toast in the morning, there is a good chance that honey has come from Taranaki.

To get it from Taranaki to the US, American businessman Mike Everly commutes between his home town of Atlanta, Georgia to Taranaki three to four times a year.

It’s a route he knows well. He has been doing it for 10 years now, and he says he doesn’t plan to stop.

Mike is the founder of Bees and Trees honey, a company which sells authentic Taranaki honey in the United States. . .

Is NZ on the cusp of a hemp revolution? – Amy Ridout:

In the 20 years since Pam Coleman has been on her 80-hectare rural property near Ngatimoti, north-west of Nelson, she has let the land take over.

The golden hay meadows buzz with life, and kanuka and manuka have overtaken the gorse. The couple raise rare-breed sheep, grow olives and make cheese. 

When the law changed a year ago to add hemp seeds to the list of allowable food products in New Zealand, Coleman began reading up.

“I thought, that’s it, that’s the way to go,” she said. . . 

Marijuana licensing rules to create route – Brent Melville:

It will cost about $12,500 a year to possess, manufacture and supply medicinal cannabis products.

New licensing rules for the legal manufacture and distribution of medicinal cannabis will create a route to market for dozens of companies that have, to date, been limited to research.

Announcing the new quality and licensing regime last week, Minister of Health David Clark said the regulations would help ease the pain of thousands of people. . . 

Red meat plays vital role in diets, claims expert in fightback against veganism – James Tapper:

Advocates of red meat will begin a fightback against the growth of veganism this week at the UK’s biggest farming conference, with claims that eating lamb and beef is vital because some plants and fish are being drained of their nutrition.

In a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, Alice Stanton will tell ministers, farmers and environmentalists that key nutrients in some fruits, vegetables and grains have dropped by up to 50% over 50 years.

Stanton, professor of cardiovascular pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, said nutrition levels had dropped because farmers were trying to meet a demand for cheap food. “For plant-based foods, there’s been drops in vitamins and key electrolytes by up to 50% over the past 50 years because of the genetic selection for large volume and uniformity of shape and appearance, so the things look good on the shelves. There hasn’t been selection for nutrient content,” she told the Observer. . . 


Rural round-up

January 6, 2020

Kiwi farmers calling on Anzac spirit to support bushfire-hit Australian counterparts – Michael Daly:

Kiwi farmers are being asked to show their Anzac spirit with a plan to offer relief to counterparts across the Tasman affected by bushfires.

Mates Nathan Addis and Mark Warren on Thursday night launched the Facebook page: NZ Farmers Offer Free Accommodation To Aussie Farmers From Bush Fire Zones. The name sums up their aim.

The plan was to sound out support for the idea among Kiwi farmers first before promoting it in Australia, Addis said. And support was coming in quickly. . . 

Year in Review: How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

 This opinion piece by King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke was one of The Country’s most popular reads of 2019. She wrote that she believed her community was under threat if the government’s Essential Freshwater policy passed into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . . 

Identifying ‘whodunit’ is a freshwater priority – Elizabeth McGruddy:

E coli monitoring tells us that bugs are in the water, but not where they came from. For that we need “faecal source tracking” tools to find out “whodunit”, writes Federated Farmers Senior Policy Adviser Elizabeth McGruddy.

The swimming season is upon us. Are our favourite swimming spots good to go? And if not, why not?

We know that most rivers are safe to swim, but some are not. Currently around 70 per cent of swimmable rivers (rivers with enough water to get wet in) are safe for primary contact. The national target is 80 per cent by 2030, and 90 per cent by 2040.

The Government’s latest freshwater proposals recommend that priority be given to the popular swimming rivers, during the swimming season. . . 

Rain-damage and cold weather hits Central Otago cherry stocks -Jo McKenzie-McLean:

Central Otago’s cherry season is off to a bad start with rain damaging crops, cold temperatures slowing ripening and bad picking conditions driving workers away.

Tim Jones, who is Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of Cromwell-based orchard 45 South, said the “tough” start to the season was one of the most challenging he had seen in his 25 years in the industry.

At 45 South, about 250 tonnes would typically be picked around the New Year period. This year, they picked 100 tonnes. . . 

Forgotten victims of the drought – Lindsay Cane:

OFFICIAL reports released in December show the impact of the drought on our economy and agricultural sector will linger for up to a decade.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) latest forecast show farm production is expected to fall significantly with rebuilding expected to take a decade. And that depends on rain.

The bushfires and drought have taken a toll on many people financially and emotionally.

But one of the most worrying and often unacknowledged aspects of this drought is the long lasting impact on our children. This too will take time to address. And that will depend on urgent action being taken. . . 

Rejoice the earth is becoming greener – Matt Ridley:

Amid all the talk of an imminent planetary catastrophe caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, another fact is often ignored: global greening is happening faster than climate change. The amount of vegetation growing on the earth has been increasing every year for at least 30 years. The evidence comes from the growth rate of plants and from satellite data.

In 2016 a paper was published by 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries that analysed satellite data and concluded that there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation over 30 years. The study attributed 70% of this increase to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lead author on the study, Zaichun Zhu of Beijing University, says this is equivalent to adding a new continent of green vegetation twice the size of the mainland United States.

Global greening has affected all ecosystems – from arctic tundra to coral reefs to plankton to tropical rain forests – but shows up most strongly in arid places like the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification has largely now reversed. This is because plants lose less water in the process of absorbing carbon dioxide if the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher. Ecosystems and farms will be less water-stressed at the end of this century than they are today during periods of low rainfall. . . 


Rural round-up

January 4, 2020

Nature policies an eco disaster – Jamie McFadden:

When government policy goes wrong it can deliver disastrous consequences. Such is the case with the Government’s climate change policies.

North Canterbury is a stronghold of agriforestry and there are many benefits to having exotic forestry integrated on farms. 

However, like the rural lobby group 50 Shades of Green, we have major concerns about the Government’s climate change policies. If the policy direction continues we will see changes to our landscapes and rural communities of a scale not seen since the land clearance subsidy days pre-1980. . .

Agritech worker raising awareness of diverse careers – Jacob McSweeny:

Working in farming doesn’t always mean driving the tractor, herding the sheep or milking the cows, says Next Farm’s Sammi Stewart. She talks to business reporter Jacob McSweeny about her hopes to inspire younger generations to realise the types of futures available in the agritech sector.

Sammi Stewart wants to get kids back into farming but she does not mean chucking on the gumboots and getting up early to milk the cows.

‘‘I grew up on a farm in Southland so my parents had a sheep and beef farm and when you live in rural Southland you either milk cows or shear sheep,’’ said the brand manager of Dunedin start-up Next Farm. . . .

Top seven must dos for employment contracts – Chris Lewis:

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers employment spokesman, lists his top seven “must-do’s” for farmers when it comes to employment contracts.

Recent legal decisions on employment agreements have highlighted the need for farmers to get the fine print right. Here are my top seven considerations from a farmers’ perspective.

1. Get an agreement in place

The first priority is to get a written employment agreement in place to begin with for every employee, even for casual and part time workers. This should outline the terms and conditions of employment fully, be provided to the employee before they start work, and be agreed upon and signed by both parties. . .

Taranaki rural woman Margaret Vickers is a Member of Excellence – Ilona Hanne:

Margaret Vickers is excellent.

That’s official now, as she was formally enrolled as a Member of Excellence of Rural Women New Zealand last year.

Margaret’s years of service to the organisation were recognised when she was enrolled as a Member of Honour and presented with the Olive Craig Tray in recognition of her dedication and commitment.

Only two women received this honour in 2019, and Margaret says it is still only just sinking in as to quite how special the honour is. . . 

Oamaru Meats to resume operations next week – Jacob McSweeny:

Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) is set to open again a week into the new year, after a suspension in the China market forced its closure in September.

The factory will open its doors again on Monday.

The suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard.

The closure put 160 seasonal workers out of work and OML director, Richard Thorp, said it was likely most of them would return.

‘‘I think for this start-up period it won’t be a lot different. There’ll be about 140 to 150 people employed on the site come the sixth. . .

 

The EU’s absurd risk aversion stifles new ideas – Matt Ridley:

With tariffs announced against Brazil and Argentina, and a threat against France, Donald Trump is dragging the world deeper into a damaging trade war. Largely unnoticed, the European Union is also in trouble at the World Trade Organisation for its continuing and worsening record as a protectionist bloc.

Last month, at the WTO meeting in Geneva, India joined a list of countries including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia that have lodged formal complaints against the EU over barriers to agricultural imports. Not only does the EU raise hefty tariffs against crops such as rice and oranges to protect subsidised European farmers; it also uses health and safety rules to block imports. The irony is that these are often dressed up as precautionary measures against health and environmental threats, when in fact they are sometimes preventing Europeans from gaining health and environmental benefits.

The WTO complaints accuse the EU of “unnecessarily and inappropriately” restricting trade through regulatory barriers on pesticide residues that violate international scientific standards and the “principle of evidence”. Worse, they say, “it appears that the EU is unilaterally attempting to impose its own domestic regulatory approach on to its trading partners”, disproportionately harming farmers in the developing nations whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. . . 


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