Solution needs science not politics

June 15, 2017

Science will provide the answers to lowering dairy farming’s environmental footprint.

Modern, science-based farming is the way to achieve a future for New Zealand where dairy farming has a lower environmental footprint, says DairyNZ’s chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

His comment follows today’s announcement of the Dairy Action for Climate Change at National Fieldays 2017.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change lays down the foundation to reduce greenhouse gasses on dairy farms. The plan is spearheaded by DairyNZ, which represents all dairy farmers in New Zealand, and is in partnership with Fonterra. The plan has the support of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Dr Mackle says dairy farmers, and the scientists working alongside them, are serious about improving the environment.

“This plan lays down the foundation for dairy’s sustained, strategic approach to a lower carbon future. We’re taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do – in conjunction with the wider agricultural sector, plus industry and urban communities – to help meet New Zealand’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.

“Our farmers are already working on lowering emissions – they are used to rising to challenges, and they’re dedicated stewards of their land who want to do the right thing by the environment.”

Dr Mackle says addressing on-farm emissions – methane, which is formed when ruminant animals burp, and nitrous oxide, formed when nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere – is one of the most challenging issues facing the dairy and food producing sectors, globally and in New Zealand.

“Tackling the reduction of on-farm emissions is not going to be easy. It requires our Government and the agricultural sector to work together and, as such, the plan is an important part of a broader work programme underway.”

Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Farm Source, Miles Hurrell, says it is crucial to take an integrated approach to all the challenges facing dairy – from climate change and animal welfare, to the protection of waterways – and all the while maintain productivity and the profitability of dairy.

“The plan complements the environmental commitment dairy farmers have voluntarily undertaken through their work under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

“Some of their work – such as tree planting, better soil management and reducing nitrogen leaching, therefore reducing the release of nitrous oxide – is already helping to address emissions. Then there are the other science-based endeavours that are well underway, like the research to breed cows that produce fewer methane emissions, and a methane inhibiting vaccine.”

Dr Mackle adds that the Dairy Action for Climate Change dovetails with the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), a joint sector and Government reference group. The BERG’s purpose is to build robust and agreed evidence on what the sector can do on-farm to reduce emissions, and to assess the costs and opportunities of doing so. The BERG’s final report in late 2017 will be necessary to inform future policy development on agricultural emissions.

“New Zealand’s agricultural output of greenhouse gas is accentuated because we have a relatively small population, and we are not heavily industrialised. In other countries where there are larger populations the greater contribution is from the transport, manufacturing, construction, and energy sectors.

“Our agricultural sector is a very efficient producer of high-quality food – food that feeds many millions, not only in our country, but also around the world.”

New Zealand is acknowledged as a world-leader for efficiently producing milk on a greenhouse gas per unit of milk basis, as identified in a 2010 report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Dr Mackle says this position is the result of New Zealand dairy cattle being healthier and largely grass fed, unlike animals in many other agricultural countries which are fed grains and other supplements that are harvested and transported. Added to this, their animals are often housed in barns, sometimes year around, not just over the winter months.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change was launched during the opening of the 49th National Fieldays by Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.

There is more on the DACC here.

Opposition parties and environmental activists want a substantial reduction to the national dairy herd.

That might lower New Zealand’s emissions but would add to global emissions as less efficient producers in other countries increased production to compensate for less milk from here.

We need a sustainable solution which lowers emissions here without compromising production and increasing emissions elsewhere.

That will  come from science, not politics.


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. . . 

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

 


Rural round-up

May 25, 2017

Top dairy woman says industry must ponder its future – Pam Tipa:

A major issue facing the dairy industry is “how much to grow,” says the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Jessie Chan-Dorman.

“What is a sustainable growth aspiration for our industry? [We need to] actually put a stake in the ground about what sustainable growth looks like,” Chan-Dorman told Rural News.

“That conversation [is needed] not just among ourselves but – like it or not – with all the wider parties, the New Zealand public, who have an interest in where the dairy industry is heading. . .

Event manager carves out dairy career niche – Sudesh Kissun:

The first solo woman winner of the Dairy Manager of the Year title, Hayley Hoogendyk, hopes to be a role model for others switching to a career in farming.

Hoogendyk (28) left her job as an events manager and took up dairy farming five years ago.

In March she won the Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year competition; earlier this month she was crowned the national winner at the Dairy Industry Awards final in Auckland.

Hoogendyk told Rural News she had not expected to win. . .

Milk price great news:

Today’s Fonterra milk price forecast of $6.50 for the 2017-18 season, coupled with the revised price of $6.15 for the current season, is great news for dairy farmers, says DairyNZ.

It is great news too for the country as it will boost the regional and national economies.

While welcoming the forecast increase, DairyNZ’s chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says he needs to challenge farmers to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.

“By this I mean that farmers need to take advantage of the milk price increases to pay down debt, and carry out the likes of deferred maintenance,” he says. . .

Fonterra forecast signals dairy industry revival:

The revival in fortunes of dairy farmers has been highlighted today by Fonterra’s announcement that they are increasing the milk price for the current season-lifting its payout from $6.00 to $6.15/kg milksolids for the year ending 30 May 2017.

Fonterra’s favourable forecast wasn’t unexpected and reflects the recent trend of increasing global dairy prices, which has fostered more confidence amongst the markets.

“Many dairy farmers throughout the country will be enjoying their lunch today. This is great news and comes after a turbulent few years where the industry has been under the pump,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chair. . .

Higher milk pay-out puts $3.5bn into farmers’ pockets – Fonterra – Alexa Cook:

A milk pay-out of $6.15 a kilogram of milk solids this season will give farmers an extra $3.5 billion compared to last season, says Fonterra.

The co-operative has lifted its pay-out for the season by 15 cents and announced an opening forecast for next season of $6.50 kg/ms.

Milk prices have come a long way from last season’s pay-out of $3.90, and the dairy index is now at its highest in about three years. . .

Ways to keep nutrients out of waterways – Nicole Sharp:

How can we reduce sediment, phosphorus and E. coli getting in to waterways?

AgResearch scientist Tom Orchiston put the question to farmers along with giving advice on good management practices onfarm at Dairy NZ’s Farmers Forum on May 4.

Sediment in waterways reduced the habitat and disrupted the eco-system in streams, he said. . . 

Lewis shows her class – Alan Williams:

Vivienne Lewis is responsible for the results of one of the biggest shearing jobs in New Zealand and the work has won her the NZ Wool Classers Association crossbred wool merit award.

Her team handled the shearing of the 30,000 ewes, 10,000 two-tooths, 12,000 lambs and 700 rams on the sprawling Ngamatea Station near Taihape in the central North Island.

It was a very big clip and the Canterbury Wool Scour-sponsored award was won for the manner of its preparation and classing and presented at the association’s annual meeting in Christchurch in mid-May. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand confirms board positions:

The Directors of Beef + Lamb New Zealand have re-elected Northland farmer James Parsons as the Chairman for another year.

Parsons has been the Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand since 2014 and has represented the Northern North Island as its Farmer Director since 2009.

The Board has also elected Gore farmer, and Southern South Island Farmer Director Andrew Morrison, as the Deputy Chairman, when it met for its May meeting. . .


From $4.25 to $6.15

May 25, 2017

A year ago Fonterra announced an opening forecast milk payout of $.425 for the 2016-17 season.

The forecast has gradually crept up as world prices increased and yesterday the co-operative announced a forecast payout of $6.15.

Chairman John Wilson said the increase reflects the strong fundamentals supporting global dairy markets. “World dairy prices have risen in recent months and as we near the end of the season we have more visibility and certainty which makes us confident of our $6.15 position,” Mr Wilson said.

Fonterra also confirmed its forecast earnings per share range of 45 to 55 cents for the 2017 financial year, as it continues to target a full year dividend of 40 cents per share. “Some of the challenges we faced in the third quarter could continue, but the business is committed to a strong fourth quarter particularly in Ingredients sales. This means we have been able to confirm the earnings per share range.” Mr Wilson said.

“The higher forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $6.15 per kgMS and the target dividend of 40 cents per share gives a forecast cash payout of $6.55 for a 100% shared-up farmer which is good news for our farmers and their communities,” he said.

In a further signal of confidence in the market outlook for dairy, the Co-operative is forecasting an improved Farmgate Milk Price of $6.50 per kgMS for the 2018 season. The forecast earnings range for the 2018 financial year will be announced around the beginning of August.

“The increase in the forecast Milk Price for the current season and the improved forecast for 2017/18 will be welcome news for our farmers following two challenging seasons on farm,” Mr Wilson said.

“Stronger production in March and April has partly offset lower peak milk production and collections are now expected to be down 3% for the season, a much better outcome for our farmers than had been anticipated earlier in the year,” Mr Wilson said.

The last few seasons have been very tough, especially for those new to the industry who didn’t have the good payouts the preceded the downturn.

The increased forecast for the current season and an even better one for the coming season is very welcome.

It will be interesting to see if it has an impact on farm sales.

Some farmers, and some banks, have been holding selling farms until the payout increased in the expectation land prices  will too.


GDT up 3.2%

May 17, 2017

The GlobalDairyTrade price index increased 3.2% in this morning’s auction.

That’s the fifth successive increase and will give Fonterra suppliers confidence that the forecast payout is secure.

 


Rural round-up

May 12, 2017

Canterbury director and shareholder is Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

A Canterbury woman who has dedicated her career as a rural professional to New Zealand’s dairy industry is 2017’s Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor, won the coveted title out of a group of three finalists which included CEO of Sirona Animal Health Claire Nicholson and agribusiness consultant Jolene Germann. The awards ceremony was held tonight in Queenstown as part of a gala dinner at the Dairy Women’s Network’s annual conference. . . 

Farmers set to benefit from new high-tech weather stations:

Fonterra farmers will come together to trial innovative technology that will allow them to take insights from the weather and bring greater precision to New Zealand dairy farms.

Fonterra is playing its part in fuelling the revolution of on-farm weather forecasting by working with MetService and BloomSky – a smart weather camera station that delivers hyperlocal weather information in real-time to any laptop, tablet or smartphone. . . .

Rebel with a cause – Eric Crampton:

I love Roger Beattie.

Weka are endangered, but they breed easily on his farm at Banks Peninsula. He’s just prohibited, by dumb rules, against breeding them for profit. Whether this is DoC bloodymindedness, Vogonity, or refusal to be shown up by somebody doing a better job of conservation that DoC is – that’s anybody’s guess.

And so, annoyed with silly DoC rules around farming weka, Roger’s making a point. He’s adding weka feathers to some hats and selling them. . .

UK supermarkets ban fresh NZ lamb – Alexa Cook:

A decision by UK supermarkets to ban fresh New Zealand lamb is bad news for the industry and could turn consumers away from the meat, says Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

Supermarket chain Co-op Food, which is the UK’s fifth largest retailer, is banning fresh New Zealand lamb in response to lobbying from the British Sheep Association. . .

Dairy herd up in North Island but down in South Island:

After a decrease in 2015, the dairy cattle number increased 2 percent in 2016 to reach 6.6 million, Stats NZ said today. However, this was not back to the 2014 level (6.7 million).

The North Island dairy herd increased by almost 250,000 cows last year, led by a rise in Waikato. In contrast, the number of dairy cattle in the South Island fell more than 100,000 in the year to 30 June 2016.
The results also show continuing declines for sheep and deer numbers, with beef cattle being relatively unchanged
. . .

Call to action to save threatened species:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has issued a “call to action” for the nation to get behind efforts to protect New Zealand’s threatened native plants and animals.

Minister Barry launched the Department of Conservation’s draft Threatened Species Strategy at the Threatened Species Summit in Wellington this morning.

“Our unique plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth and help to define who we are as New Zealanders, adding immeasurable value to our culture, our identity and our landscapes,” Minister Barry says. . .

Cutting nitrogen loss in winter – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter’s a much riskier season for nitrogen leaching from urine patches on pasture to waterways.

Milking cows will excrete, in urine, about 70 per cent of the nitrogen they consume. The chance of nitrogen leaching from urine patches is much higher in winter due to weather conditions.

Also, farmers should be particularly cautious when applying nitrogen fertilisers to pasture or crops during winter due to the extra risks winter weather poses for nutrient loss. . .


Rural round-up

April 20, 2017

Good PR is a self-help exercise – Neal Wallace:

A united agricultural sector needs to promote itself by telling positive farming stories, public relations expert Deborah Pead says.

Industries such as dairy were constantly under scrutiny and having to defend themselves when the correct strategy was to get in first and tell the public what they were doing to address those concerns.

“It is hard to argue when you see a river dried up and farmers are flat-out irrigating but what is the solution? What are farmers doing about it?” . . 

High country community divided by fence plan – Conan Young:

Green groups are outraged at a plan to spend ratepayer money on a fence that would allow iconic high country land to be more intensively farmed.

The 6km fence is proposed for Flock Hill Station, which is leased by a US-based company and contains scenery made famous in 2005’s The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Until now, Coast Range Investments has only been allowed to graze it in a low-level way, so as to have a minimal impact on the landscape and its environment. . . 

Water Fools? – Greening of Mackenzie – Kate Gudsell:

It’s the closest thing New Zealand has to a desert. The Mackenzie Basin landscape is not replicated anywhere else in the country, let alone the world, and it is being changed irreversibly.  

Not just the land is being changed, the once-pristine lakes are showing signs of strain too.  

The area has been at the centre of a 10-year court battle after farmers and landowners opposed tougher development rules proposed by the Mackenzie District Council.  . . 

Stable milk price crucial for strong farming season – Sally Rae:

Rabobank is picking a farm- gate milk price around $6.25 for the 2017-18 season, as it says a figure in that area would finally allow dairy farmers to ”emerge from the woods”.

Global dairy prices were now better balanced than at the start of this season.

This was likely to flow through and create largely stable commodity pricing in the new season, a bank report said.

However, despite the improved market balance, the possibility of further lifts to the current season milk price was limited, report author and Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The price rally experienced since the second half of 2016 had ”some of the gloss” removed, with stronger-than-anticipated New Zealand production impacting on prices.

Job Seekers drawn to plant – Sally Rae:

Hordes of job seekers from Nelson to Dunedin – including a group of Cadbury employees – converged on Fonterra’s Clandeboye site for a recent recruitment day.

A $240 million mozzarella plant development at the South Canterbury site is under way, creating full-time employment for a further 100 people.

There was a “fantastic” response to the recent recruitment day, with between about 1500 and 2000 people attending. That led to about 700-odd applications for the roles, operations manager Steve McKnight said.

The mozzarella plant, the third at Clandeboye, was the single largest food service investment in the history of New Zealand’s dairy industry. . . 

Cervena seeks its place in the sun – Annette Scott:

Marketing Cervena venison as a lighter summer eating option in Germany will be a challenge but it’s a move Deer Industry New Zealand has confidence in, venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) had begun marketing Cervena in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial. While relatively small the trial was symbolically important, Wilson said.

Traditionally the deer industry had been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which was highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter. . . 

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