Rural round-up

May 3, 2019

In defence of the cooperative model – Andrea Fox:

Nearly two decades on from its creation, Fonterra is still handling about 80 per cent of all New Zealand raw milk. But is it time, as some critics say, to chop up this $20 billion beast and create a separate discretionary investment vehicle to chase the money needed to hit the high value, high earning branded consumer product markets? In the second part of her series, Andrea Fox runs the ruler over the cooperative model.

Fonterra’s architects got a lot of backs up when they side-stepped the Commerce Commission, claiming their plan for a super-cooperative to take on the world was beyond the competition watchdog’s scope.

Instead they went directly to the Beehive. The result was the DIRA, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001. It birthed a cooperative dairy industry mega-merger, deregulated dairy exporting and encouraged new manufacturing and export competition, while setting some onerous rules to rein in Fonterra’s market dominance at home. . . 

Opening the farm gate on Opening Weekend:

Federated Farmers reminds duck hunters heading out on Saturday for the season opening that access to farms is a privilege.

The ‘Opening Day’ of the duck-shooting season is a big deal in rural New Zealand, with 40,000 annual participants across the country. Hunters will pay their money to Fish and Game for a duck shooting licence but access is usually reliant on the goodwill of local farmers. Many hunters find themselves beside a wetland built and maintained on private farmland. Many of these arrangements are several generations old, established on a handshake.

“Farmers and visiting hunters alike look forward to the opening weekend of the duck-shooting season,’’ says Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen. . . 

Continuity assured as ‘fresh hands’ take over – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s new chairman, Richard Young, describes his tenure on the board as ”one hell of a ride”.

Incumbent chairman Rob Hewett announced he was stepping down from the role at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday.

However, Mr Hewett will remain on the co-operative’s board and continue as co-chairman of Silver Fern Farms Ltd, which is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling.

It was part of a succession programme and while he would still be ”here for a while”, it was time for ”fresh hands”, Mr Hewett said. . .

Belief company ‘can do better’ – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is confident of an improved financial performance in 2019.

Before Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Mr Limmer reflected on the 2018 financial year.

Silver Fern Farms Ltd is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling. . . 

Scholarship winner passionate about precision agriculture:

Ravensdown are excited to announce this year’s recipient of the Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship, Tom Wilson.

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship was founded to commemorate the late Hugh Williams, a Ravensdown Director from 1987 to 2000. The scholarship provides $5,000 per year for the duration of a student’s agricultural or horticultural studies at Lincoln, Waikato or Massey University.

Currently in his third year at Massey University, Tom is studying his Bachelor of Agricultural Science. He is actively involved in the agricultural sector and presented his research on the feasibility of an updated Spreadmark test at the annual Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre conference in 2019. . . 

Real world ranch restorationMike Callicrate:

In late March, a fascinating group of forward-thinkers, innovators and change-makers converged at Callicrate Cattle Company for a ten-day intensive regenerative farm planning and design workshop led by Darren Doherty, a world recognized consultant and facilitator.

Owner Mike Callicrate met Doherty a few years ago on a business trip to Australia and immediately began a long-term collaboration with the native Australian, who is considered a leader worldwide at shifting farms and ranches from the current “extractive industrial model of production” to sounder approaches based on regenerating and rebuilding soils, landscapes, ecosystems and rural communities.

“I wanted to put together a systematic plan going forward that accomplishes our goals rather than just talking about it and never doing it,” Mike explained. “It’s a complex undertaking. It’s hard rebuilding a broken food system. It’s hard for a ranch even to stay in business without fair markets or a democratic food infrastructure that serves everyone equally.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 20, 2019

Wilding pines march across the Wakatipu landscape – Keith Woodford:

The Wakatipu Basin, with Queenstown as its main town and Arrowtown a secondary town, is a key location for the war between wilding pines and humans. On the human side, the war is led by the Department of Conservation (DOC), but there are also lots of community volunteers. There are battles to be fought. It is not clear who is going to win.

New Zealand’s wilding pines include at least 11 species. They can be any North American or European conifer which has blown  in on the wind to where it was not intended to be. And that is what is happening across the tussock grasslands of the South Island.

In its natural state, the Wakatipu Basin was stark, There were very few trees. And so the early European settlers planted trees that came from their homelands.  These trees have greatly softened the landscape.  Indeed much of the beauty of the valley floors is associated with these trees, particularly the deciduous trees in autumn. . . .

Stepping up to genetic plate – Luke Chivers:

Waikaretu Valley sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent is committed to improving the odds for New Zealand sheep farmers against natural hazards. Luke Chivers reports. 

Sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent from Nikau Coopworth in Waikaretu Valley in Waikato is combining her passion for the land with sheep genetics and performance recording.

The former Canadian has a longstanding connection with the primary sector, science and innovation.

“I grew up on a dairy farm in Nova Scotia, Canada and it was there my love of farming was born,” Broadbent says. . . 

Big day for the southern guns:

Southern shearers opened a big weekend of shearing sports in New Zealand with a near cleansweep of all five places in the Open shearing final at the Northern Southland Community Shears near Lumsden today.

The rout in the Selbie family’s Five Rivers woolshed, including the biggest Open-class win in the career of former double Golden Shears lower grades champion Brett Roberts, 24, of Mataura, came in the first of two-back-to-back A-grade Southland shows this weekend. . . 

The shearing the fun shows of the north:

Waikato farmer Lee Cheyne isn’t going to let a few hundred kilometres stand between him and the chance to help boost the shearing competitions over the next few weeks.

It’s all about fun, he says, and while he won’t be at the Kaikohe show which kicks off the second annual ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday he says he will make the trip north for at least three of the other shows all of them at least two hours away – one close to four. . . 

Health Canada stands by approval of ingredient in Roundup weed killer :

Health Canada scientists say there is no reason to believe the scientific evidence they used to approve the continued use of glyphosate in weed killers was tainted.

On Friday they rejected, again, arguments that the ingredient in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup causes cancer if the substances are used as they’re supposed to be.

The department’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is required to reassess herbicides every 15 years and after such a reassessment in 2017 it approved glyphosate for continued use in Canada with some additional labelling requirements. The review looked at more than 1,300 studies and concluded glyphosate products pose no risk to people or the environment as long as they are properly used and labelled. . . 

 

Mystery surrounds potential world record trout catch:

Fish and Game is trying to confirm reports of a giant trout – a potential world record – recently caught in the Mackenzie Country hydro canals.

Eyewitnesses report seeing an angler land a 24.9kg (55 pound) brown trout in the Pukaki-Ohau A canal.

If confirmed, it would be a new world record for a brown trout. . . 


Rural round-up

September 27, 2018

Pasture pests costing economy billions:

Pests most commonly targeting New Zealand’s pastures are costing the economy up to $2.3 billion a year, an AgResearch study has found.

The study is the first of its kind to estimate the financial impact of invertebrate pests such as the grass grub, black beetle, nematodes and weevils in terms of lost productivity for pastoral farming.

The full science paper has been published this week in the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research and can be found here: . .

Alliance meat company paid too much for winter export lambs cutting profit – Heather Chalmers:

Meat company Alliance Group says it paid too much for export lamb over winter, which has hit its profit. 

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said that in lamb markets there had been a “fundamental disconnect” between the laws of supply and demand.

“For the last three months lamb prices overseas have been flat, but domestically the export lamb price to farmers has gone up by $20 a head to procure animals.

In the last few weeks Alliance has cut the price it pays for lamb “as it was not sensible to continue at this level of pricing”, Surveyor said. . .

Westland Milk Products final payout for 2017-18

Westland Milk Products has reported a final milk payout of $6.12 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), less a five cent retention, delivering a net average result for Shareholders of $6.07 per kgMS.

Chairman Pete Morrison noted that a substantial number of Shareholders received an additional premium on the net result of 4.4cents per kgMS for providing UHT winter milk and colostrum, giving them a net average payout of $6.11. . .

Fonterra: ‘lots to do to get basics right’ – Simon Hartley:

China poses several challenges for Fonterra and a2Milk, and both organisations face the likelihood of short term volatility in sales and earnings.

Fonterra’s woes stem from its poor full year result and rising milk prices pressuring profit margins, but it also has to make a decision on its much criticised 18.8% stake in Chinese infant milk formula company Beingmate, which it bought for $755million in 2015.

And a2 Milk could face some short term volatility with recent changes to Chinese law impacting on the thousands of informal ”daigou” traders selling on numerous e-commerce and social media platforms in China. . .

Apple industry welcome release of seized plant material:

New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI), the industry’s representative association, has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries announcement that 20,000 apple plants have been cleared for release from all restrictions imposed following their seizure after being imported from a US testing facility.

An MPI audit of the facility in March had found that there were incomplete or inaccurate records associated with this material, which raised the prospect of a biosecurity risk. . .

Minister Sage forced to postpone her tahr hunt

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected

Prospects good for anglers – Jono Edwards:

Anglers are waiting with bated breath for a healthy southern fishing season.

Otago Fish and Game officer Cliff Halford said yesterday most fisheries in the region were in ”good condition” for the opening of the season on Monday.

”Certainly, weather conditions play a part in how opening day will pan out and it looks like we will get some clear skies.”

While snow expected this week could impact water clarity, so far there were not expected to be any ”major rain events” between now and opening day. . .

More farmers turn to DNA parentage testing to improve productivity:

Farmer owned co-operative LIC has seen an increase in demand for its DNA parentage testing service as livestock farmers place increasing emphasis on cow quality over cow quantity.

This spring, upwards of 250,000 calves from around the country will have their parentage confirmed by LIC’s DNA parentage service which operates from its laboratory in Hamilton. . .

Hancock’s tech transformation has animals, staff in mind – Shan Goodwin:

THE technology transformation and infrastructure rollout taking place across the 34 cattle properties now in the Hancock Agriculture portfolio is as much about leading the way in animal and worker well being as it is about delivering efficiencies.

From the day of acquisition of each station, Hancock’s Gina Rinehart has expected an allowance be set aside for animal welfare investments.

So far that investment is running in the millions. . .

NFU joins forces with food supply chain to tackle food waste:

The NFU is today announcing its support for the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and is encouraging its members to play their part in tackling food waste in the supply chain.

The initiative, run by the charities Wrap and IGD, aims to have 50% of the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019. It is working towards milestones to help halve UK food waste by 2030.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “This is an incredibly important initiative by Wrap and IGD, and the NFU is very pleased to be able to support it. Farmers are the first step in the supply chain, producing the raw ingredients that make up the safe, traceable and affordable domestic food supply that helps to feed the nation. . .


Rural round-up

May 7, 2018

The threat of irrational environmentalism – Dr Doug Edmeades:

I never thought it would end. Certainly I never thought that I might be alive to see the beginning of its end.

I am referring to the Enlightenment – the intellectual movement that began in the 17th century. It saw the end of Dark Ages and ushered in the Age of Reason. Mystical and religious certitude and bigotry gave way to reason based on objectively derived evidence.

Rather than praying to God for a good crop you adopted the latest technologies to ensure the crop did not fail. And if it did fail it was not seen as a consequence of your failure to appease God through prayer, but because you did not fully understand or fully implement the best knowledge and technology. If you prayed it was for more science, please. . . 

Economic development is about more than wishful thinking:

The Government risks serious damage to New Zealanders’ livelihoods by replacing the real productive economy with wishful thinking, National’s Economic Development Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“On TVNZ’s Q&A this morning, Economic Development Minister David Parker spoke of his wish to reduce the number of livestock in this country. He said horticulture, such as growing apricots, would be better for the environment.

“He said the problem was that it was too expensive to pick fruit in New Zealand. But, no worries, we’ll invest in robotics. Robots will pick the fruit and the economy will surge.

“This is wishful thinking on a grand scale and it fails on so many levels.

“Mr Parker also admitted that the Government hadn’t done an analysis of what the economic impact of his proposed shift away from current land use. . . 

Plan to keep scheme farmer owned – Sally Brooker:

Farming leader William Rolleston has come up with a plan to keep the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme fully farmer-owned.

The former Federated Farmers national president, who farms in South Canterbury, outlined his idea at the federation’s South Canterbury provincial annual  meeting in Waimate on Friday afternoon.

The irrigation scheme, which has resource consent to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, has struggled to get landowners to buy enough shares to make it financially viable. Originally aimed at a 21,000ha command area, it was reduced to 12,000ha last year. . . 

 

Quacker of a start for duck shooting :

Duck-shooting season is off with a bang, with tens of thousands of people turning out across the country for the opening weekend.

The season officially started at 6am yesterday and runs through until August.

Fish and Game’s spokesperson Don Rood said hunters were on good behaviour and there were no reports of serious injury on day one.

“That’s all credit to our licence holders for doing the right thing. We’ve been pushing the education message with them. Safety is the very first priority before anything else – no duck is worth a shooting accident.”

In 2016, three people were accidentally shot at the beginning of the season. . . 

Alliance beefs up offering – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group has launched premium branded beef under the label Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef.

To qualify each carcase, irrespective of breed, is individually selected and visually assessed. 

It must have a high marbling score, low Ph range and extended wet aging.

The launch follows three years of research and will be targeted at the New Zealand food service sector and overseas markets. . . 

Farmers back in driving seat – Lindy Nelson:

Time, creative thinking, resources to create change and information all support us to turn business threats into opportunities.

Leadership well-applied and executed is one of those resources that inspires and supports action to respond.

Applied leadership was exactly what was demonstrated at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s recent workshop on the red meat sector story where our sector’s origin brand story, go-to-market strategy and response to the threat of alternative proteins were unveiled.

It was inspiring on a number of fronts – what the leadership team of B+LNZ has achieved and who it had collaborated with, its in-depth understanding of customers and detailed analysis of the synthetic protein threat and the knowledge that place of origin acts as a shortcut to consumer understanding and trust in our products.

All of this provides a strategy for action alongside the release of the origin brand story. . . 

Whare’s new lease on life – Toni Williams:

A  little red corrugated-iron whare will roll smoothly behind a vintage tractor in the Greg Donaldson Contracting Ashburton Wheels Week Plus street parade this month.

The whare  will be taking its place among members of the Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club in the parade on the final day of the Wheels Week Plus  programme.

  The club has about 100 members, so expect to see a few vintage machines. The whare, which sits on a truck chassis, plays a big role in the life of Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club president John Hall. It holds warm memories and its walls are lined with memorabilia — newspaper clippings, places and events Mr Hall has visited. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2018

MPI cattle cull “the right thing” – Jono Edwards:

The  farming industry is viewing a Mycoplasma bovis cull of more than 22,000 cattle as a tragic necessity.

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced yesterday it would begin a cull of 22,332 cattle today on all infected sites after scientific testing and tracing confirmed the disease was not endemic.

It was working immediately with farmers to kill the stock on the 22 active infected properties which still contained cattle, it said.

The disease can cause pneumonia, abortions, lameness and mastitis and can result in the deaths of infected cows. . . 

Sheep goes for $8k at first NZ auction of Beltex ram lambs – Maja Burry:

About 300 people attended the first ever sale of Beltex ram lambs in New Zealand on Friday.

The Beltex, whose name combines Belgium and Texel, are a breed of muscle heavy sheep that have higher meat yield.

Beltex breeder Blair Gallagher said the interest around the inaugural sale, which was held at his mid-Canterbury farm was very positive.

On offer was 16 purebred Beltexes, 20 Beltex-Poll Dorsets, 18 Beltex-Suffolks and 10 Beltex Perendales. . .

Farmers given food for thought – Sally Rae:

Hakataramea Valley farmers have been given some food for thought with the suggestion they could market their products directly to consumers.

The idea was raised by Prof Keith Woodford during a field day at Waikora Station last week organised by the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective.

The collective, set up in 2016, comprises a group of farmers whose aim is to assist and encourage the protection and enhancement of the valley’s environment and promote profitable and sustainable farming practices for future generations. It has been working closely with the New Zealand Landcare Trust, Environment Canterbury, the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game, local iwi and the Waimate District Council to ensure a collaborative and cohesive approach. . . 

Thermal imaging reveal Tekapo pests predator – Kathy Guthrie:

When Sam Staley went to the Defence Force’s Tekapo Military Training Area back in 1996 to run the Military Camp and Training Area for a three year stint, one of the tasks at the time was pest control. Today, 22 years later, he’s still there, and so are some of the rabbits, but after two decades of the comprehensive rabbit control operation which Sam initiated, the rabbits are nothing like the problem they used to be on the 19,000 hectare military site.

“The training area is unique,” Sam says. “It’s a very special bit of dirt! It’s probably the most intensively managed, non-grazed piece of high country land in Canterbury. It includes unique and nationally threatened plants and native fauna like alpine weta, rare butterflies and moths and many endangered vertebrates such as the Mackenzie Basin skink.” . . 

Robots are trying to pick strawberries. So far they’re not very good at it – Dan Charles:

Robots have taken over many of America’s factories. They can explore the depths of the ocean, and other planets. They can play ping-pong.

But can they pick a strawberry?

“You kind of learn, when you get into this — it’s really hard to match what humans can do,” says Bob Pitzer, an expert on robots and co-founder of a company called Harvest CROO Robotics. (CROO is an acronym. It stands for Computerized Robotic Optimized Obtainer.)

Any 4-year old can pick a strawberry, but machines, for all their artificial intelligence, can’t seem to figure it out. Pitzer says the hardest thing for them is just finding the fruit. The berries hide behind leaves in unpredictable places. . . 

Dairy farmers plea for help after Dean Foods ends milk contracts –  Sarah Gisriel:

Sixteen percent of the nation’s dairy farms are in Pennsylvania, but that industry is in crisis.

Two weeks ago, life changed for 26 farmers in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

“I went to the mail, and in it was a certified letter from Dean Foods,” said Alisha Risser, the owner and operator of an 80-cow farm.

The letter told farmers that Dean Foods was ending its contract by June 1, due to a market surplus of milk.

“It’s the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do in our lifetimes. To get that notice, and your world is absolutely rocked,” said Kirby Horst, of Lynncrest Holsteins. . . 


Rural round-up

May 29, 2017

Garry Woods didn’t return home with his mates – doing a first aid course can be his legacy – Joyce Wyllie:

When you leave your warm bed in the morning you never know what the day will bring.

No matter where or who you are, how good your plans are, what the weather forecast is or what mood you are in, you can never know  what will happen in the hours ahead. We all understand this reality but sometimes it does become very life-alteringly real.

The South Island Dog Trial championships have just been held, and Jock and two of his mates travelled down to near Balclutha for the event.

Between them, they had nine dogs, reasonable hopes for a good run and modest aspirations for a trophy haul. They had plenty of anticipation for an enjoyable, entertaining week catching up with friends from around New Zealand, yarning, eating, watching dogs competing on the four courses, and talking dogs and nonsense. . . 

Immigration changes are good for South Island – Neal Wallace:

Immigration changes have proved to be a mixed bag for migrant dairy farm workers.

On the one hand a new South Island Contribution work visa allowed dairy workers caught up in a false document scandal to stay, provided they met certain criteria.

But other changes making residence more difficult were prompting some Filipino farm workers to look for work overseas.

North Island Filipino Farmer’s Association president Julius Gaoing said given the residence changes the special South Island visa gave those workers an advantage over dairy farm workers in the North Island. . . 

Consents to cost $50k? – Neal Wallace:

Seeking a resource consent from the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council has become a lot more complex and costlier following an Environment Court ruling that will have repercussions around the country.

Some believed complex consent applications from Horizons could now cost more than $50,000 but there was general agreement the ruling, sought by the Auckland-based Environmental Defence Society (EDS) and Wellington Fish and Game, would require councils to take a stricter definition of environmental plans. . . 

NZ would be stupid to spurn the TPP 11 deal – Charles Finny:

Former trade negotiator Charles Finny says there is still much to do to demystify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Finny writes some Q&As to put the facts straight.

There is no value in TPP without the United States
This is not true for New Zealand. NZ does not have a free trade agreement with Japan but competitors such as Chile and Australia do. TPP 11 (TPP minus the US) would allow us to level the playing field with these competitors. There are meaningful liberalisation outcomes in other economies – Mexico, Peru and Canada, with whom we don’t have free trade deals.

But aren’t we imposing huge costs by this agreement to the benefit of the US?
There are some “costs” in the form of increased transparency for Pharmac, increased patent terms and longer copyright terms. And yes, these are things the US argued for in the original talks. But these “costs” are far more modest than the gains from the agreement cited above. . .

Loan repayments start in October – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s 15c increase in forecast payout for 2016-17 will go to repaying the support loan of 2014-15 for more than 70% of its supply farmers.

Based on the forecast, farmers who took the loan would have 15c deducted from their October payment, the final for this season.

That would recover about half of the $363 million still owed to Fonterra and interest of 2.47% would be charged on the balance.

If the $6.50 forecast for next season was maintained or bettered and the current payment schedule still applied, the final loan repayment would come out in September 2018, chairman John Wilson said. . . 

No automatic alt text available.

Stay home with sheep, it’s too peopley out there.

 


Rural round-up

November 16, 2016

Stranded cows surfed to survival – Charlotte Shipman:

 

A geologist says the cows stranded on a quake island likely “surfed” the land as it crumbled around them.

Their image went around the world; two Hereford cows and a calf stranded on a tiny piece of pasture thrust two-and-a-half metres above the ground.

GNS engineering geologist Sally Dellow flew over the cows yesterday with Newshub, and she says they likely surfed the land as it crumbled. . . 

Quake cows won’t be slaughtered – farmer – Simon Wong:

Kaikoura’s three world-famous cows were never destined for the slaughterhouse, says the farmer who owns them.

The two Hereford beef cows and a four-month-old calf made headlines when they were stranded on a small, elevated patch of pasture following Monday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake, and Newshub’s footage of them was broadcast around the world.

The animals were rescued from their precarious location on Tuesday morning after owner Derrick Millton and a group of five others dug out a track to get them down.

“Once they got off, they drank the water which was in the pond at the end of the block, they’ve got plenty of feed there, and they just needed to rest because like anyone in the earthquake they had a pretty horrific time.” . . 

Farmer flies in to help quake-trapped family in Kaikoura – Glen Scanlon:

Andrew Bowmar sums it up pretty simply: “It’s just what you do when you need to help.”

When the magnitude 7.5 quake struck yesterday he was at home near Gore with partner Lucy Millton. The problem was Lucy’s mum and family were on their farm in Waipapa, on the southern bank of the Clarence River outside Kaikoura.

View RNZ’s full coverage of the earthquakes

Mr Bowmar, a farmer, said he needed no convincing – the choice was easy. He and Ms Millton got his Cessna 185 out and were in the air by 8am on their way to find out what was happening. . . 

 

This is becoming sabotage – Peter Jackson:

It’s all very well for the likes of SAFE and Farmwatch to lobby for animal rights and the prevention of cruelty, but SAFE went too far with its ‘Drop Dairy’ billboard in Auckland’s Hobson St.

The billboard, showing a bobby calf carcass draped over a map of the North Island, was part of an on-going campaign aimed at raising awareness of the fact that approximately two million unwanted dairy calves are killed at a few days’ old every year. . .

Cycle trail ruling frustrates local council

An Environment Court ruling against the planned Oreti River section of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail is a blow for communities in the area, Southland District Council says.

Mayor Gary Tong says he’s deeply disappointed by the court’s decision to uphold an appeal by Fish and Game Southland.

He says areas like Lumsden, Mossburn, Five Rivers, Garston and Athol are reporting significant benefits attributed to increased visitor numbers as a result of the cycle trail development. . . 

Syrian food production at all-time low:

Food production has dropped to an all-time low in Syria where millions of hungry civilians are struggling through their sixth winter in a war zone, UN agencies are warning.

Many farmers have had to abandon their land, unable to afford the soaring cost of seeds, fertilisers and tractor fuel, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme said on Tuesday.

Wheat output – vital for making flat loaves of bread which are a staple of the Syrian diet – dropped from an average 3.4 million metric tonnes harvested before the war began in 2011 to 1.5 million this year, they said in a joint report. . . 


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