Rural round-up

10/09/2017

Why we should get rid of the word ‘townie’ for NZ’s sake – Sarah Perriam:

There is a civil war brewing on social media between “food producers” and “food consumers” and the aggression has reached the level of straight out bullying.

A friend of mine who works as a Farm Environment Auditor (yes that’s a thing) sends me screenshots of tweets (I don’t have the patience for Twitter!). One tweet said “You farmers are just a bunch of c**ts, see you next Tuesday, and you deserve everything you get.”

If this sort of comment was aimed at women, children or homosexuals, would this be appropriate? Of course not. But sadly, in this day and age, our Facebook feed is our news, with many are reading the comments rather than the article, looking to confirm their beliefs rather than form new ones. . .

Farmer fears for future – Annette Scott:

Mid Canterbury cropping farmer David Clark has grave concern about the disconnection between food production and urban people. He talked to Annette Scott about his passion for the land and his fear for the future of farming in New Zealand.

David Clark is a full time, working arable farmer, passionate about the greater industry and its sustainability for future generations.

The Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers vice president says the farming industry has been good to him and his involvement in Feds is one way he can give back to the industry.

If there is an issue to sort, Clark will be there to contribute his bob’s worth for the betterment of farming. . .

Ferreting out rabbits seen as a ‘win-win‘ – Pam Jones:

A medieval method of pest control is helping an endangered species at a Central Otago reserve. Pam Jones finds out how ferreting is tackling both rabbits and redbacks in the fight to protect the Cromwell chafer beetle.

It is an ancient and environmentally friendly practice that is getting results in a protected Central Otago landscape. But it will also get you bitten occasionally.

“Ferrets here have to be trapped from the wild and tamed down by handling lots. The younger they are when trapped the easier to train — in general. But I have had many a sore finger from unsuitable ferrets that cannot be tamed down.”

Steve “Billy” Barton is talking about rabbiting, done an old-fashioned away. Ferrets have been used to catch and kill rabbits and hares since before medieval times, and in Central Otago they have been used for pest control on and off for decades. . .

Riparian survey to capture data – Richard Rennie:

As the go-to option for managing sediment runoff, there are surprisingly few case studies showing how different approaches to riparian plantings work. Now Niwa researchers hope to change that. Richard Rennie spoke to freshwater ecologist Richard Storey who is leading the initiative.

Farmers are being invited to provide information on their riparian plantings to help measure their effectiveness and provide a pool of data for future plantings.

“Riparian plantings are now a major investment people all over the country are working on and that includes dairy processors and industry groups,” Niwa scientist Dr Richard Storey says. . .

Texas farmers suffers extensive crop damage in wake of Harvey  – Carrie Kahn:

In south Texas, this was going to be one of the best years farmers had seen in a while. The cotton crop was projected to bring in record prices and even clear out many families’ debts. But the massive rainfall, winds and a slow drying-out process from Harvey have left many farmers overwhelmed and worried.

That includes people like Dave Murrell, whom I meet at AL-T’s Seafood and Steakhouse, a Cajun restaurant in Winnie, Texas, a rural town about an hour east of Houston. The place is packed, even though lunchtime has long come and gone. No one is in a hurry to get back to their fields — they can’t. They’re flooded. Murrell says nearly 400 acres of his rice are totally submerged. . .


NZ predator free by 2050

26/07/2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”

 

Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.


Rural round-up

11/04/2013

Foray into farming stories for children proves fruitful – Sally Rae:

When Lee Lamb could not find books about farming to read to her young son, she decided to do something about it.

Brought up on Grampians Station, near Lake Tekapo, Mrs Lamb now lives on a sheep and beef station in northern Southland with her husband Jamie and their two young sons Jack (5) and Thomas (3).

It was while living in Omarama that she first picked up a pen, having become frustrated by being unable to buy a book about farming for Jack – who was farming-mad. She sat down one day ”and gave it a go” but did not take it any further until after moving to Waikaia and following the birth of Thomas, when she had a bit more spare time. . .

Dairy Awards Winners Achieve Goals:

The 2013 Canterbury/North Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Morgan and Hayley Easton, are using their knowledge to achieve their farming goals.

“Both Hayley and I are well educated in fields supportive of an agribusiness career, which we think is important when running large-scale dairy farms today,” Morgan Easton says. “Large dairy farms are big businesses with significant turnover and numbers of people employed. We feel the knowledge gained from our education has undoubtedly helped us achieve our farming goals to date.”

The other major winners at the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner held at Hotel Ashburton last night were Richard Pearse, the Farm Manager of the Year, and Adam Caldwell, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. Coincidentally Mr Pearse employs Mr Caldwell as an assistant on the Ashburton farm he manages. . .

Ferret trapping programme:

The Animal Health Board is taking advantage of the scavenging habits of ferrets to track bovine tuberculosis in western Southland.

There are only two cattle herds still under movement control in the region because of TB infection, compared with 56 herds in 1996.

TBFree Southland chairman Mike O’Brien said ferret trapping plays an important role in protecting cattle and deer herds from Tb-infected wild animals because they indicate whether the disease is present in other wildlife, especially possums, which can spread the disease to livestock. . .

Freshwater changes show promise – Environment Commissioner:

The Government’s proposed changes to freshwater management are much needed, but only if they are implemented properly says the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright.

Dr Wright submitted on the changes this afternoon, and says moves to improve water quality are welcome.

“It’s vital we make progress on water quality, and the proposed changes are a step in the right direction. . .

Last call for applications for leading farm business management programme:

Applications close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, the region’s leading agricultural business management course for the next generation of farm leaders.

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious Rabobank program offers young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia, and a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple says the Farm Managers Program is constantly evolving to reflect the changing challenges and opportunities in agriculture. . .

ANZCO’s published result confirms anticipated loss – but could have been worse – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s financial result to the end of September 2012 was posted on the Companies’ Office website on Friday in compliance with the statutory requirement for private companies. ANZCO reported losses of $25.6 pre-tax and $19.2 million after tax. We now have the details for the big three meat companies which publish their results and, as anticipated, none makes pleasant reading – total pre-tax losses of $140.4 million and post-tax $102.2 million.

But after seeing the numbers from Alliance and Silver Fern Farms in December, it was possible ANZCO’s could have been quite a bit worse. That they weren’t appears to have been the combination of strength in beef and some good management decisions which mitigated the worst effects of a very difficult year. . .


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