Poll shows support for more poverty & hunger

30/01/2023

The headline says poll shows growing support for cutting fertiliser and cows:

“New polling shows growing public support for calls to cut fertiliser, regulate the dairy industry to protect water and, while not yet a majority, lower dairy cow numbers,” says Greenpeace Aotearoa senior campaigner Steve Abel.

The polling results released today by Greenpeace, from a nationally representative Horizon Research survey undertaken late last year, show 61% of New Zealanders favour regulating the dairy industry in order to reduce water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. This is a significant increase from 48% in a similar poll only a year ago, in December 2021. It also shows that a majority (55%) support phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. . . 

Dairying, like other activities, is already regulated to reduce water contamination and Fonterra audits its suppliers to ensure they meet a range of standards:

The current assessment covers food safety and quality, animal health and welfare, and environmental topics including effluent management systems, stock exclusion from waterways, and riparian, nitrogen and water management processes.

And dairy farmers have fenced off 250,000 hectares of waterways.

But the poll didn’t ask a follow up question – do you support significant reductions to food production and export income, and higher food prices?

That would be the result of GreenRedpeace’s policy of a lot more plant-based, regenerative and organic production.

That policy is not supported by the science :

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs. . . 

And organic food is not necessarily safer than that which is conventionally produced.

The implication is that organic growers and farmers don’t use chemicals. This is not the case.

Some agricultural chemicals have been certified for use in modern organic agriculture, and some of those certified are far more toxic, and toxic to more species, than those used by conventional growers and farmers.

Modern chemicals target the problem and use low rates of active ingredient. They are subject to standards of use to safeguard people and the environment. . . 

The claim organic production is environmentally superior is also disputed.

Although organic systems have lower energy requirements (though it is not clear that the transport and calories for staff hand weeding are included in the calculations), they have higher land use, ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit than conventional systems.

The big problem is that more land is required by organic systems to achieve the same overall output.

meta-analysis published last month revealed the reality. The yields under organic farming were on average 25 per cent lower than the conventional ones, reaching a yield gap of 30 per cent for cereals.

Had those answering the survey been given all the information on the costs and benefits of conventional farming and its alternatives, and understood the economic, environmental and social harm that GreenRedpeace’s prescription would do, support for reducing fertiliser use and cow numbers would have been very different.

The anti-farming movement, is motivated more by red philosophy than green. For them improving the environment is not the goal, it is merely the means for inflicting their socialist agenda on the world, leaving us all colder, hungrier and poorer.

Would those polled support more poverty and hunger? I doubt it but that is what they’d get for their support of less fertiliser and fewer cows.


Rural round-up

27/01/2023

Feds’ request to Hipkins: slow down, prioritise :

Slow down the legislative programme, get it right and concentrate on those things that will help families and businesses prosper.

That’s the request from Federated Farmers to Chris Hipkins as he is sworn in as New Zealand’s 41 st prime minister today, and then gets to work on the policy “re-set” he has talked about.

“Farmers have many times in the last three years expressed concern about rushed, poorly-consulted-on legislation that has proved to be flawed and impractical,” Feds president Andrew Hoggard says.

“The proposed replacement legislation for the Resource Management Act has those same hallmarks. . . 

Primary sector leaders draw up Hipkins wish list – Neal Wallace :

Food and fibre sector leaders are mostly in the dark about what their industry can expect from newly elected Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

The Food and Fibre Leadership Group is seeking a meeting with the new prime minister, with most members saying they have not had dealings with him.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said Hipkins has not been part of the government ministerial group, headed by the prime minister, that regularly meets with food and fibre leaders.

He fears the change in prime minister could mean a loss of contacts within the leader’s office as staff are replaced. . . 

Te Anau station’s court victory sees SDC drop two cases – Neal Wallace,

The Southland District Council has withdrawn two pending prosecutions for the clearance of indigenous vegetation after losing a legal battle with a Te Anau station.

The council’s environmental planning manager, Marcus Roy, said following the Environment Court decision against the council and in favour of Te Anau Downs Station, two prosecutions relating to the clearance of indigenous vegetation have been dropped. 

The court decision in favour of Te Anau Downs followed a four-year legal battle in which the council sought an enforcement order to prevent any further indigenous vegetation clearance on the station, and to require significant remedial work for clearance dating back to 2001.

Late last year the court declined the council’s application for an enforcement order and required it to pay costs and compensation of $300,000. . . 

Food security at heart of our cost of living crisis – Dr Catherine Knight :

New Zealanders have been finding their supermarket shop a painful experience for some time now, but in December many reached their pain threshold as food prices increased by 10.6 percent compared with 2021. Fresh produce was a whopping 24 percent more expensive – at a time of the year when it is usually plentiful and cheap. Economists reassure us this is just a momentary blip in an otherwise smoothly running economic system – prices will ‘soften’, inflation will ‘moderate’ and ‘better times will come’. These reassurances are comforting and most of us are happy to be soothed by this narrative.

But what if empty supermarket shelves and high prices are symptomatic of something much bigger? A sign of a broken system, now starting to show the tell-tale fissures of climate disruption, ecological collapse, energy descent and increased resource scarcity.

The immediate causes of surging food prices are familiar to most of us: high shipping costs, supply chain disruption, a tight labour market, disrupted weather patterns, spiralling on-farm costs such as fertiliser and diesel.

But all these factors are more connected than we might think.  . . 

NZ’s fatally flawed climate strategy – Dame Anne Salmond :

 A recent article in the Guardian based on research into Verra, the world’s largest global carbon-offsetting scheme, reveals more than 90 percent of its tropical rainforest carbon credits are worthless, making no positive impact on climate change. 

In a subsequent article, the Guardian shows that the fossil fuel company Shell was heavily involved in setting up Verra and its rules. Like New Zealand, Shell has placed carbon offsetting at the heart of its climate change strategy, although the research indicates that many of the claims made about the efficacy of such schemes cannot be trusted.

The implications of this research for New Zealand’s carbon strategy are fundamental. At present, New Zealand relies heavily on carbon offsetting to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, through the purchase of international credits and through the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

On both scores, New Zealand’s strategy is fatally flawed. While the government proposes to make up shortfalls in meeting our NDC with the large-scale purchase of international credits, given the research into Verra and its ‘phantom credits’, it is highly likely that in future this kind of offsetting will be tightly controlled or excluded under international conventions. This would leave New Zealand unable to meet its carbon targets. . . 

Fonterra looking to expand its international recipe contest – Nona Pelletier :

Fonterra sees international competition as a way to bake in global demand for New Zealand butter.

The best use of New Zealand’s bright yellow, grass-fed butter was the secret of success at the cooperative’s confectionary and bakery recipe contest which saw 60 of Japan’s leading chefs create a range of award worthy buttery treats.

Among the winning entries at the Fonterra Grand Prix included a bread named, Moon of Grass Fed Butter, and a confectionery called, Fonterra Butter Sand.

The competition was held in 2019-2020 but the winners had to wait until recently to collect their prize, which included a tour of New Zealand, as well the commercialisation of their winning entries, aimed at promoting grass-fed butter and dairy products in Japan. . . 


Rural round-up

22/12/2022

Labour floundering on farming emissions :

Farmers are likely to be even more confused at Labour’s floundering approach to farming emissions following today’s announcement, National’s acting Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Labour is all over the show. Just a few months ago Labour were proposing to decimate sheep and beef farming by 20 per cent – now they are saying they want to work with the farming sector on how the pricing scheme will work and they will consider carbon sequestration.

“Labour’s process shows a complete disregard for farming realities, and the fact they have made this announcement four days before Christmas is cynical politics.

“Farmers have lost trust in Labour. This is too little, too late and doesn’t go far enough. . . 

Groundswell ‘disturbed’ by govt blinkers – Neal Wallace :

Leaders of the Groundswell ginger group say they are surprised at how little senior government ministers know about the impact of their policies on rural communities.

“Some of what we told them was new, which was disturbing,” the group’s co-founder, Bryce McKenzie, said after a top-level meeting this week.

McKenzie and fellow Groundswell founder Laurie Paterson met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and associate Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty to explain the concerns of their members.

He said they enjoyed the experience, with the scheduled 30-minute meeting lasting 70 minutes. . . 

Methane inhibitor bolus could reduce emissions by 70% :

A project to develop a sustained release methane inhibitor technology for grass-fed animals has received a funding boost from the Government.

Ruminant BioTech’s CALM (Cut Agricultural Livestock Methane) programme has secured nearly $8 million from the state. Ruminant BioTech investors will match the Crown’s cash injection.

The company aims to develop a commercially viable bolus by 2025 that delivers at least a 70% reduction in ruminant animals’ methane emissions over six months.

Ruminant BioTech chief executive George Reeves says the bolus has the potential to provide every dairy, sheep, and beef farmer in New Zealand with an effective, easy, “set and forget” methane reduction solution that is both highly effective and practical for grass-fed animal farming operations. . . 

Fonterra expects biotech products to drive future growth :

Fonterra’s global focus has shifted since the pandemic began, anticipating much of its future growth will stem from investment in high value growth in biotech products.

In response to the changing global market, the dairy co-operative has recently established a global markets business, headed up by long serving executive Judith Swales.

Her brief covers global consumer products, ingredients and food services businesses everywhere but China.

Swales said global dairy production was levelling off, given land constraints, climate change considerations and plateauing consumer demand for dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese and yogurt. . . 

Why organic farming is not the way forward – Holger Kirchmann:

The aim of this article is to provide information about crop production data based on large-scale organic farming and to point toward major consequences. National statistics show lower organic yields than compiled in meta-analyses from farm- and plot-scale. Yields of organically cropped legumes were 20% and nonlegumes 40% lower than those of conventionally grown crops. Area estimates showed that almost two of three crops were legumes or legume mixtures in organic farming, whereas one of three crops was a legume in conventional cropping. Doubling land use for legumes in organic farming affected the type of food produced, being dominated by milk products and red meat. Over all crops, the organic yield gap was 35%. Since yields are lower under organic than conventional practices, more land is required to produce the same amount of agricultural crops. A 35% yield gap means that 50% more arable land is required. A demand for 50% more farmland imposes huge land use changes and makes one realize the wide-ranging environmental consequences that follow when converting to organic farming. In a relevant comparison between organic and conventional cropping systems, environmental consequences caused by land use change such as lost products (timber, fiber, energy, etc.) and lost ecosystem services (sequestered carbon in soil, wildlife, biodiversity, etc.) must be included. The concept of organic farming was founded on philosophical views about nature, not biological science. Natural means and methods were assumed to be superior. Verification of the reasoning and statements of the founders on why to abandon mineral fertilizers cannot be corroborated by science and is incorrect. Scientific evidence for the concept to abandon synthetic mineral fertilizers as nutrients for crops is lacking. The scientific community is obliged to follow rigorous scientific criteria—not biased views, prejudices, or beliefs. . . 

Wool and cotton outlook – Angus Jones :

International markets for wool and cotton have seen much volatility through the course of 2022 – with the lingering impacts of COVID and escalated geopolitical and economic uncertainty affecting the trade – and the year ahead could be equally turbulent, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says in a new industry podcast.

Speaking on the podcast, Turbulent 2022 for Cotton and Wool Prices, Rabobank associate analyst Edward McGeoch said local and global extreme weather events have significantly impacted cotton production while Australian wool production is on the rise.

Year in review – Cotton

There has been a lot of fluctuation with cotton prices through 2022, Mr McGeoch said.

“Cotton prices opened well off the back of strong performances in 2021 – kicking off the year with a local price of roughly $740 per bale. And we saw the price trend up significantly to an 11-year high, with rises of 29 per cent to achieve just under $1000 per bale. . . 


Rural round-up

16/12/2022

Labour’s emissions pricing plan has turned into a self-inflicted wound – Craig Hickman :

No matter whether you are for He Waka Eke Noa, the proposed method for calculating how agriculture will pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, or vehemently against it, I think everyone can agree on one thing: the plan was a stroke of political genius from the Labour Government.

In October 2019, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced that the Government would enter a five-year partnership with primary sector organisations and Māori. Their job would be to develop a system that would incentivise farmers to measure, manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The formation of this partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), was almost universally celebrated by the farming sector while being roundly mocked by environmentalists for the same reason; it allows farmers to remain outside the emissions trading scheme (ETS) for five years while the proposal was developed, and possibly indefinitely if the partnership was successful.

This was the first clever part of the Government’s strategy, placing responsibility for devising a way to charge farmers for emissions at the feet of farmers themselves. If the partnership failed to deliver then agriculture would simply be rolled into the ETS, and the blame would lie squarely on farmers’ shoulders for not having seized the opportunity they were so generously given. . .

Investor wants tech farmers not tax – Sally Rae:

New Zealand-American businessman Tom Sturgess said he placed full-page advertisements in newspapers this week to “stimulate a debate” around livestock emissions.

Under the headline “Let’s do right by farmers, and our planet”, the advertisement said he was worried an opportunity was being missed to “truly do something about methane” and that the primary sector would be hurt in the process.

Mr Sturgess, the founder of New Zealand’s Lone Star Farms, is an American-born businessman who served with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam before gaining a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard.

He later embarked on a highly successful corporate career in private equity firms, food service, aluminium manufacturing, housing and office products. . .

Retailers increase their margins on soaring food prices – Jonathan Milne:

From fertiliser to grow the grass on our dairy farms, through to supermarkets’ profit margins, we investigate the different costs contributing to the $1 rise in a simple two-litre bottle of milk

Add Covid to the “costs” column of Richard McIntyre’s ledger. The Horowhenua dairy farmer would often be up early milking, but this morning his workers are doing it all, while he tries to recover from a dose of the coronavirus.

McIntyre’s costs column is a lengthy one. The cost of urea fertiliser has doubled to $1370 a tonne this year – and for a 200ha farm like McIntyre’s, that’s $80,000. Farmers are paying more for diesel. They’re paying more on environmental costs like riparian planting and effuent systems.

They’ve been able to pay those costs, because the farmgate price they’re paid by Fonterra and other dairy companies has also increased this year. But the AgFirst dairy financial survey shows that farmers need a price of $8.48 per kg of milk solids to cover their farm working expenses, debt servicing, drawings, depreciation and taxes. . .

United Fresh market report 2022 finding value in the freshest Kiwi produce :

As we near the end of a rollercoaster year of recovery from the global pandemic, New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetable growers will be taking a deep breath before they leap into 2023.

United Fresh President, Jerry Prendergast, says the challenges faced by those in our $6 billion horticulture industry this year have been significant.

“Despite the overwhelming media around COVID-19, the weather has actually been the largest cause of disruption to growers throughout the year. A particularly wet autumn left many around the country struggling to maintain a steady supply through the winter months.,” he says.

“Unusually for Aotearoa, the weather bombs that disrupted early plantings hit in virtually every region, rather than just in isolated areas, so the impact was felt nationwide. Further damaging spring frosts in early October gave the blueberry crop a real knock and caused significant damage to both kiwifruit vines and apricot trees,” says Prendergast. . .

Rejecting ag technology can be costly – By Stuart Smyth & Robert Paarlberg:

Over the past 25 years, many governments have faced the decision of whether to approve agricultural biotechnologies and their resulting products, genetically modified crops.

Governments that decided to approve GM crops have benefited from higher yields and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence of lower agricultural productivity for countries that opted to not adopt GM crops becomes glaringly apparent when comparing agricultural production in the European Union with that of the United States.

As we know, the U.S. has approved GM crops, whereas the EU decision found the costs of adoption to be greater than the benefits.

Between 1995 and 2019, the agricultural production index for the 27 countries of the EU increased by only seven percent, while agricultural production in the U.S. increased by 38 percent. Further evidence of the cost of the EU’s failure to adopt GM crops as consistently as in the U.S. found that EU agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are 33 million tonnes higher than if they had adopted GM crops, equalling 7.5 percent of total EU agricultural GHG emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2022

Farmer spirits crushed by red tape – Craig Page :

An “onslaught of government regulation” has seen farmer morale plummet and some opting to sell properties rather than operate under escalating legislation, a Beef + Lamb NZ report says.

The BLNZ Lamb Crop 2022 report says some farmers believe the government has created  significant uncertainty, leading to concerns about the viability of the sector and rural communities.

“Sheep and beef farmers feel besieged and underappreciated for their contribution to food production, significant tranches of native vegetation, ongoing efforts to improve the environment and contribution to the New Zealand economy and society,” the report says.

In the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty region a “remarkable number of sheep and beef” farms came onto the market in spring, particularly in the King Country. . . 

Farmer confidence at 20-year low – survey :

Government policy and rising farm costs have seen farmer confidence plummet to a 20-year low, according to a Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey.

Farmers from all sectors are now significantly more pessimistic about the prospects for the broader agri economy, and a cocktail of concerns is weighing heavily on them, said Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris.

“As with recent surveys, rising farm input costs and government policy were the two major reasons cited by farmers with a pessimistic outlook for the year ahead,” he said.

Rising interest costs and falling commodity prices are also adding to the anxiety.  . . 

Plans for supplementary feed ‘out the window’ thanks to unseasonal heavy rainfall :

A Northland farmer says wet weather has been wreaking havoc on his efforts to grow supplementary feed.

Jason Smith, who farms sheep and beef in Ruawai, south of Dargaville, said he has had 400mm of rain on his farm over the last six weeks – he would normally get about 20mm in that time period.

“So far for us in Northland, we’ve had an incredibly challenging spring and start to summer,” he said.

“All of the normal seasonal patterns of rainfall have just been blown completely out the window by massive amounts of rain.” . . 

Police roll out changes for rural staff – Emma Hatton:

One percent of the police’s total workforce cover 50 percent of New Zealand’s geography. Emma Hatton reports on the challenges of rural policing and what’s being done about it 

Of the 41 recommendations handed down by the Independent Police Conduct Authority last year when it reviewed rural policing, all have been completed or are underway. 

A new Rural Policing Model was signed off by the executive earlier this year. 

And in the new year a Rural Inspector based at national headquarters will begin, a new role and major step in getting rural policing’s voice around the top table. . . 

Feds back Telethon to feed everyone for Christmas:

Federated Farmers is backing The Big Feed, an event calling on farmers and growers to donate one million meals worth of the nutritious food they produce to food banks during a telethon event livestreamed tomorrow.

The Big Feed will be livestreamed via social media on Thursday December 15 at 6am, and runs until 7.30 pm.

During the telethon farmers and growers can pledge to donate livestock, milk and other produce.

‘We support the idea no-one should have to go without nutrient-rich food in a farming country like New Zealand,’ Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Chapman Tripp assists Fonterra with Nestle partnership to develop net zero carbon dairy farm :

Chapman Tripp is pleased to have advised Fonterra on its new partnership arrangements with Nestlé, designed to help reduce New Zealand’s on-farm emissions and help both companies accelerate progress towards their greenhouse gas emission goals. The initiative includes a five year project to develop a commercially viable net zero carbon emissions dairy farm, to be run with co-partner Dairy Trust Taranaki.

The Chapman Tripp team was led by partners Alana Lampitt and Kelly McFadzien, and senior solicitor Dan Chan.

Alana says, “This initiative is a first for New Zealand. Agricultural emissions are a large part of New Zealand’s emissions profile; tackling them will require fresh thinking, including innovative on-farm solutions. It’s great to work with clients who are blazing a trail and looking for solutions that can be adopted across the industry.” . . 


Rural round-up

14/12/2022

Time to accentuate the positive – Jacqueline Rowarth :

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth on why it’s a good time of year to take heed of the lyrics to Johnny Mercer’s popular 1944 song, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.

With the festive season approaching, it is time to accentuate the positives, eliminate the negatives, and follow all the rest of the instructions in Johnny Mercer’s 1944 song.

The first one to observe is buried in the song, but important – “bring gloom down to the minimum”.

Gloom is a state of despair or despondency and there is no doubt that farmers and growers have been feeling in partial darkness (the other meaning of the word). . . 

Quite frightening drop in wool prices has farmer’s worried – Sally Murphy:

Slowing international demand for wool means farmers are getting lower prices for their clip.

Covid-19 lockdowns in China have resulted in agents there buying less, and high fuel prices in Europe means some processors are not operating their factories.

That’s having flow-on effects for wool growers here – each auction since mid-spring has brought a new set of price decreases, and prices for coarse wools are heading back towards the lows seen through 2021.

Hawke’s Bay wool broker and Wright Wool owner Philippa Wright said it’s dreadful calling farmers letting them know what their wool has sold for. . . 

Dairy giant sells off its Brazilian business, is a Xmas present likely to come the way of farmers? – Point of Order :

Dairy giant Fonterra has clinched the disposal of the last of its major South American investments. It has, with Nestlé, agreed the sale of their Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) Brazil joint venture to French dairy company Lactalis for BRL 700m (about NZD $210m subject to closing transaction adjustments).

The deal is expected to be completed by mid-2023, subject to regulatory authority approvals.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the sale of DPA Brazil is aligned with the co-op’s strategy of prioritising its NZ milk pool.

“DPA Brazil has reached maturity as an investment for us, and the sale allows us to prioritise our resources to the businesses that are core to our strategy.” . . .

This old dog has seen it before – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I was snoozing away in the kennel when the boss came and banged on the roof and said his editor had just got in touch to say it was the last column of the year and seen as I’d done it for the past few years, I’d better get on with it.

The boss thrust a half-chewed pencil and a couple of bits of paper at me, wished me good luck and stomped off back to the house.

In case you don’t know me, I’m Ditch, the dog he found as a young pup after I’d been dumped in the water table on the roadside. I was so small I fitted in his hand.

Even he thought Watertable would be a silly name. . .

Data gathering focus for subsurface irrigation trial :

Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are anticipating a season of “data collection” after installing a subsurface drip irrigation system on an 18-hectare block of land which is part of a 260-hectare farm in Maniototo, Central Otago. They aim to collect data from both this block and their trial site in Cust to analyse the benefits of subsurface drip irrigation

Gary and Penny are participating in a project which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

After a wet summer last year scuppered plans to collect data from their trial block, the couple were delighted when their partner Carrfields approached them for an installation opportunity in Maniototo. Gary says the site is an ideal location for installing subsurface drip irrigation. . .

Figured and Heartland Bank partner to provide lending to New Zealand’s farmers :

Farm financial management software company Figured has partnered with Heartland Bank to drive streamlined decision-making and access to lending for farmers.

Figured is New Zealand’s largest provider of farm financial management software, used by more than 16,000 of New Zealand’s commercial farms. Figured software is also used by farmers internationally.

Figured chief executive, Dave Dodds, said Figured’s move into providing lending services to farmers was a logical step, as it increasingly became a financial hub for farmers and their advisers.

“Farmers face an increasing range of commercial and environmental challenges and opportunities. This means their advisers and lenders need to be smarter about how capital is accessed and provided. . . 


Rural round-up

09/12/2022

Where’s the Maori caucus? – Rural News :

Of all the submissions that Rural News has seen from the primary sector on the Government’s response to agricultural emissions proposal, none is so profound and damaging to Labour than that of the Māori Trustee and chief executive of Te Tumu Paeroa, Charlotte Severne.

It’s obvious to anyone with an atom of knowledge of the primary sector that the Government response would disproportionally affect Māori farming. However, the politicians and officials, who it seems seldom get beyond the outer suburbs of Wellington, didn’t see this coming.

In her hard hitting submission, Severne starts off by saying she has “grave concerns about the Government emissions pricing policy and it will disproportionately disadvantage Māori”. She rightly expresses her concern about “the impact on rural communities where Māori are often over represented”. She is bang on and this has already been echoed by Federated Farmers and the Wairoa District Council.

The killer blow for the Government comes when Severne says: . . . 

StatsNZ survey at 67 percent after Groundswell boycott call  :

Provisional results for Stats NZ’s Agricultural Production Survey shows only 67 percent of expected respondents have replied.

The survey conducted every five years provides up-to-date data that can be used for industry forecasting, policy advice and trade negotiations.

But this year farming protest group Groundswell urged farmers to boycott the census as it took issue with the emissions metric Stats NZ uses.

“The emissions metric used by Statistics NZ, called GWP100, overstates the impact of agricultural emissions by 400 percent, as found in a study by an Oxford professor, and is one of the main reasons cited by those who want to punish farmers and growers for their emissions,” the group said. . .

Cow bells will be ringing as dairy giant Fonterra gets on a financial roll – Point of Order :

Dairy giant Fonterra is on a financial roll and it wants  to send  a  new wave of confidence through the country’s cowsheds.  It  upgraded its earnings guidance to 50 – 70c per share from 45 – 60c per share.  Contrast that  with the 20c it paid for the 2021-22 season.

At the same time, it  lowered and narrowed its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range of $8.50 – $10.00kg/MS to $8.50 – $9.50kg/MS, with a midpoint of $9.00 while holding its advance rate. It also reported a strong start to the 2023 financial year.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said it was a positive start to the year given the current global operating environment.

“We continue to feel the impact of geopolitical and macroeconomic events, with higher costs at every point in our supply chain. It’s a similar story behind the farm gate with our farmer shareholders managing significantly higher input costs”. . . 

Fonterra upgrades earnings guidance and posts strong first quarter :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd today upgraded its earnings guidance to 50 – 70 cents per share from 45 – 60 cents per share and lowered and narrowed its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range of $8.50 – $10.00 per kgMS to $8.50 – $ 9.50 per kgMS, with a midpoint of $9.00. It also reported a strong start to the 2023 financial year.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said it was a positive start to the year given the current global operating environment.  “We continue to feel the impact of geopolitical and macroeconomic events, with higher costs at every point in our supply chain. It’s a similar story behind the farm gate with our farmer shareholders managing significantly higher input costs.

“Globally, milk supply from key exporting regions is down over the last 12 months. Production in Europe and Australia continues to be down, with US milk supply showing a slight improvement in recent months. Here in New Zealand, our milk production is down 2.9% on the same point last season.

“Global market volatility has prompted some softening of demand for whole milk powder, particularly in Greater China and this is reflected in our forecast Farmgate Milk Price range. We’ve seen increased participation from other regions which has offset in part the drop in demand from Greater China. While it’s still early in the financial year, we are happy with our sales contract rate.”  . . .

Danone’s New Zealand milk formular achieves carbon neutral certification [1] :

  • Karicare is the first milk formula product in Australia and New Zealand to achieve independent carbon neutral certification
  • The first certified carbon neutral products will hit major supermarket chains in Australia and New Zealand before the end of the year

Danone today announced that its iconic New Zealand milk formula, Karicare, has achieved carbon neutral certification for its Karicare Gold Plus+ Organic and Karicare Gold Plus+ A2 Protein Milk product ranges. Certification is provided by the Carbon Trust[2], an independent certifying body, against the globally recognised PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality. These two products in the range are the first to be certified as part of the company’s ambition for the entire Karicare portfolio to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The certification follows a rigorous product lifecycle evaluation covering sourcing, production, and distribution. Danone has also recently completed a range of actions at its spray drying facility in Balclutha on New Zealand’s South Island, where the base powder for products is produced. Part of the company’s global RE-Fuel energy excellence program to transition to resilient and renewable sources of energy, these actions include switching to 100% renewable electricity and investing in a new biomass boiler. . . 

Why lab-grown meat may never be on the menu – Anjana Ahuj:

Laboratory-grown meat has come a long way since 2013, when Google co-founder Sergey Brin bankrolled the first burger made from meat cells grown outside an animal. The patty, which cost about $330,000 to make, stoked an investor appetite for cultured meat and highlighted the technology’s perceived potential as a kinder, more climate-friendly way of feeding the world.

Seven years later, Singapore became the first country to sell lab-grown meat — nuggets formed from a hybrid of chicken and plant proteins — to diners and shoppers. The year after, the sector attracted $1.9bn of venture capital. Now another hurdle has been cleared, this time in the US: the Food and Drug Administration announced last month it had completed a “pre-market consultation” on lab-grown chicken, and raised no safety concerns with its maker, Upside Foods. The US Department of Agriculture still needs to carry out inspections before approval is granted but the path to commercialisation looks clearer.

Even so, key questions over the technology’s viability linger, including consumer acceptance, cost and the practicalities of scaling up laboratory production. Observers are also unsure to what extent non-meat proteins, such as tofu, are becoming a new dietary norm. . . 


Rural round-up

08/12/2022

Farmers hit by regulatory overload – Luxon – Gerald Piddock :

It’s tough being a farmer in New Zealand at the moment, National leader Christopher Luxon says.

Speaking at Fieldays, Luxon said the sector is being hit by “regulatory overload” that is confusing and at cross purposes.

“I often describe it like playing tennis and getting 10 tennis balls coming across at you at the same time,” he said.

A stock-take of the rules is needed to work out which ones are inconsistent or could have bad consequences. . . 

Prices hold steady at latest GDT auction but are there warning signs for farmers in scope-3 pressures? – Point of Order :

Prices held steady at the latest Fonterra  GDT auction. In USD terms, they were up 0.6% to an average $US3610, a smaller rise than the 2.4% at the previous auction.

WMP prices  held  steady at $US3400   but SMP and cheddar both rose.  Cheddar was  up 1.8% to $US4826, SMP  about +1.7% to $US3102. Butter meanwhile  was down 1.9% $US4725.

However things were undermined in NZ dollar terms. Overall prices dropped 2% in local currency as the NZD continues its puzzling rise. That means in local currency prices are down 15% over the past two months, compared with the equivalent 9% drop in the USD.

None of this shows NZ is getting on top of its of deteriorating current account deficit. . . 

 

Council review a chance to achieve better ratepayer equity Feds says  – Simon Edwards:

Yet another local government review is underway – but will its recommendations actually be picked up, especially regarding cost fairness?

The existing system of property value rates is loaded against agriculture. Farmers pay many more times than other residents for council services and infrastructure, even though some of those services aren’t even available to rural residents, Federated Farmers local government spokesperson Sandra Faulkner says.

“Reviews have come and gone before with no real change.

“We know that councils have tools to allocate costs more equitably, such as per property charges and differentials, but councillors tend to be mindful of the voting majorities in urban areas.” . . 

Helius gains certification key to export success :

Helius Therapeutics has received Good Agricultural and Collection Practice (GACP) certification at its purpose-built medicinal cannabis facility in East Tamaki, Auckland.

Recognised globally, GACP is a leading certification standard for medicinal cannabis. It outlines minimum requirements for growers in creating high quality, consistent flower.

“Achieving GACP is another key milestone for the Helius team in our journey to full site certification. GACP is a well-recognised requirement for medicinal cannabis in many countries. Gaining this certification will only open more doors as we now unleash our export strategy,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

. . 

Shaun the sheep joins the flock at Rotorua’s agrodome :

 Rotorua’s Agrodome has a new addition to the flock – a cheeky and mischievous little sheep who is famous around the globe.

Movie and TV star Shaun the sheep is here in Aotearoa! He’s on his long awaited OE and after a whirlwind tour of the country has arrived at his new home.

The Agrodome is a long way from his Mossy Bottom Farm home in England but Shaun is excitedly settling in with his new woolly mates and pal Bitzer.

Agrodome General Manager David Blackmore says, “Shaun is an iconic and lovable sheep and we’re looking forward to welcoming families to the Agrodome to meet him. I’m sure Shaun’s antics, jokes and pranks that he’s renowned for will keep everyone amused. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/12/2022

Who scuttled HWEN? – Rural News :

Around the traps, rumours are flying as to who scuttled the so-called joint agri sector response to dealing with agricultural emissions.

Two government departments, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Ministry for Environment (MfE), were both part of the partnership which came up with an agreed solution and put this to the politicians and officials. The farming industry groups trusted the departments and, when they put in their proposal, they had every reason to believe that the deal had effectively been done.

Not so. It seems that a whole new lot of officials, or maybe the same ones as well, and then the politicians started to get their grubby little hands on two years of hard work and negotiation and put their spin on the proposal.

Do such people know much about agriculture? For example, do they believe they’ll find a cryptorchid in a glasshouse? Who knows, but the honest brokers of HWEN must be wondering about the credentials of the people or political motives behind the Government response. . . .

Netherlands to close 3000 farms to comply with EU climate rules –  Paul Homewood :

The Dutch government plans to buy and close down up to 3,000 farms near environmentally sensitive areas to comply with EU nature preservation rules.

The Netherlands is attempting to cut down its nitrogen pollution and will push ahead with compulsory purchases if not enough farms take up the offer voluntarily.

Farmers will be offered a deal “well over” the worth of the farm, according to the government plan that is targeting the closure of 2,000 to 3,000 farms or other major polluting businesses.

Earlier leaked versions of the plan put the figure at 120 per cent of the farm’s value but that figure has not yet been confirmed by ministers. . . 

Moving forward with methane levies – Keith Woodford :

Split-gas breaks the link to charging methane emissions based on contentious carbon dioxide equivalence. It opens the door to a levy based on research, development, extension and education (RDE&E) needs rather than simply a tax

In my last article I asked whether, in seeking a way out of the current policy mess relating to agricultural greenhouse gases, we might agree on two overarching principles.  

The first principle is that pastoral agriculture must remain vibrant and prosperous. This is essential, not because farmers have any right to a protected future, but because New Zealand’s export-led economy is highly dependent on pastoral exports.

Pastoral exports comprise approximately 50% of merchandise exports, with primary industries in total comprising approximately 80% of merchandise exports. It is in the interest of all New Zealanders that pastoral agriculture thrives. . . 

Tough spring and production decline more than likely – Gerald Piddock :

The so-called spring flush is appearing more like a trickle across some North Island farms as the wet spring weather continues to affect pasture growth.

It’s reflected in production numbers, with Fonterra’s NI milk collection down 6.3% for September and 5.9% for the season to date.

Anecdotally, some farms are definitely down in production in both single- and double-digit numbers. It’s also starting to flow through in mating with submission rates back on last year because the tough autumn and winter have meant farmers have simply not been able to put on the right amount of condition on their herd.

The GDT has fared no better, lumbering on in October with three consecutive falls before surprising everybody by lifting 2.4% on November 15. NZX in its analyst opinion cautioned that is potentially a technical bounce before prices keep easing. . . 

17,000 flock to National Fieldays on a wet opening day – Sudesh Kissun :

A wet start to the 2022 National Fieldays saw a smaller crowd, compared to previous events pass through the gates on the opening day.

A statement from National Fieldays says nearly 17000 people attended day one of the four-day event.

“We’ve had just under 17,000 visitors through the gate, which is a bit softer than previous years, but not unexpected due to the weather across the North Island,” says Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation.

With the weather set to improve for the remainder of the event, organisers are looking forward to three more days of agricultural trade, entertainment and innovations. . .

Crop production in Brazil outpaces storage capacity – Joana Colussi, Gary Schnitkey, and Nick Paulson:

While Brazil hits successive records in grain production, Brazilian farmers face an old problem: a deficit in grain storage. The Brazilian government projects national grain output will be 313 million tons of soybeans, corn, cotton, rice, and wheat in the 2022/2023 crop season – which would be a new record. That would be 15% higher than last season, when Brazilian farmers harvested an all-time high of 271 million tons of grain (see farmdoc daily, August 29, 2022). If projections for a record Brazilian harvest occur, the storage deficit could reach more than 100 million tons in Brazil. Storage capacity growth since 2010 has not been proportional to increases in crop production in the same period. In this article, we review changes in Brazil’s grain storage capacity over time, including off-farm and on-farm capacity.

Between 1982 and 2000, Brazilian grain storage capacity was higher than grain production, according to data from the National Register System of Storage Units of the National Supply Company (Conab), the country’s food supply and statistics agency. Grain storage capacity is the total quantity of grain that can be stored at one time in physical structures such as warehouses or silos. In 2001 there was a reversal: production exceeded this capacity.

From 2010 to 2022, total grain storage capacity in Brazil increased 35%. At the same time, total grain production increased 82%. In the last crop season, when Brazilian farmers harvested an all-time high of 271 million tons of grain, the total grain storage capacity was 183 million tons, resulting in a storage deficit of almost 90 million tons. If a new record is established in the 2022-2023 season, the storage deficit could reach more than 100 million tons (see Figure 1). . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/12/2022

Expect NZ food and fibre to be a campaign battleground in 2023 – KPMG – Jamie Gray:

New Zealand can expect food and fibre to be a campaign battleground at next year’s general election, consultant KPMG says.

In its latest issue of Agri Agenda, timed for the start of New Zealand’s biggest agricultural event, Fieldays, KPMG’s global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said 2023 was shaping up to be a difficult year.

“As we move into Election 2023, we can expect battlegrounds to appear around areas of political tension,” he wrote in the foreword of Agri Agenda.

“It is reasonable to expect our food and fibre sector will become a campaign battleground given existing tensions in the sector (particularly in relation to climate policy) which brings with it the risk of entrenching divisions amongst farmers and growers across the country and between urban and rural communities,” Proudfoot said. . . 

Sainsbury lamb leg price explained – Reece Brick :

A picture doing the rounds on social media recently showing the cost of a lamb leg in one UK supermarket has definitely hit a nerve with many New Zealanders.

The picture shows what would be considered a low price and at half the usual UK retail value. This created plenty of chatter and concerns over the pricing differential between the two countries. But digging deeper for the facts shows that for starters that price was a Christmas special at only one supermarket for £6.50/kg – in NZ dollars that’s $12.50/kg. You can pick up lamb legs from Countdown this week for less than that.

Secondly, the odds of all the lamb legs being solely from NZ are slim, because the online listing specifically states that the leg of lamb could be NZ or British.

Thirdly, that promotion being run is easily the cheapest offering through the UK supermarkets. A quick skim through the four major supermarket’s websites has almost all other lamb legs going for £9.50-£13.50/kg, which works out to be NZ$18.30-$26/kg based on the exchange rate at the time of writing. That puts PaknSave and New World at the lower-end of this range this week at $19-$21/kg online. . .

Lipstick with New Zealand strong wool a world first :

New Zealand-based company Wool Source and leading lipstick brand Karen Murrell have teamed up to create an unexpected new avenue for strong wool – a lipstick coloured with wool keratin-based pigment.

This collaboration marks the first product to be created and commercially available using Wool Source’s drop-in ingredient and is believed to be a world-first in beauty.

Wool Source Chief Executive Tom Hooper says, “We’re excited that the first product using our ingredient is coming to market in New Zealand and will be something New Zealanders and growers can get behind.

“By collaborating with an experienced and respected brand like Karen Murrell, we’ve been able to test the performance of our pigment with a rigorous product development process and we’re delighted that it’s created a product that Karen and her team are excited by and keen to promote.” . . 

Red meat sector exports to Italy increase 244 per cent in October :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exports to Italy increased by 244 per cent in October, compared with 2021, with demand for sheepmeat and beef hides soaring, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall, red meat exports for the month were worth $737 million, a six per cent increase on October last year. China was again the largest market, at $290m, followed by the US ($134m), Japan ($32m) and then Italy ($26m). Exports to Canada were also up 82 per cent on last October by value, to $22m.

MIA Chief Executive Sirma Karapeeva said that October had been a steady month for exports, with Italy the stand-out change from 2021.

“Italy is an important market for beef hides, which are used for the manufacturing of luxury goods. The value of these exports increased from $5.6m last October to $19.5m this October and this was the highest monthly value for more than four years. . . 

Zespri releases climate change adaption plan :

Zespri has today released its first ever Climate Change Adaptation Plan – Adapting to Thrive in a Changing Climate – outlining how the kiwifruit industry intends to adapt to a changing climate in New Zealand and in its offshore growing locations.

Developed in consultation with growers and the wider kiwifruit industry, the Climate Change Adaptation Plan (the Plan) establishes a framework for the industry’s long-term approach to adaptation and is a response to Zespri’s Climate Change Risks and Opportunities Report which was published in 2021.

Zespri Chief Grower, Industry and Sustainability Officer Carol Ward says the Plan reflects Zespri’s ongoing commitment towards transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

“We know the climate is changing which brings challenges and opportunities for our industry and its important that we look at how we can ensure the kiwifruit industry remains climate-resilient. . . 

Ravensdown proud to partner with New Zealand Leadership Coalition to tackle agricultural emissions :

Ravensdown has today shown its commitment to the future of New Zealand farming by uniting with Government and leading New Zealand agribusinesses to address the challenge of climate change and sustainability.

The Joint Venture (JV) leadership coalition, launched by the Prime Minister at Fieldays today, sees Government partner with agribusiness leaders at scale to help New Zealand lower agricultural emissions.

The line-up of JV partners, ANZCO Foods, Fonterra, Rabobank, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms, and Synlait, represent the full spectrum of the food and fibre industry, giving Government insight and access to the entire farm-to-consumer-to-investor value chain.

Garry Diack, Ravensdown Chief Executive Officer, says the industry owes it to farmers to partner, invest and collaborate to help solve the most significant challenge of our time. . . 


Rural round-up

29/11/2022

‘I don’t want to be farming here by myself’ – Richard Walker :

On Tuesday, Dani Darke has a ram sale, a board subcommittee meeting and a pony club meeting. Her neighbour up the valley, Natasha Cave, has an online business seminar in the morning and sheep crutching in the afternoon. On Sunday, Cave and her husband Alan crutched 800 ewes and lambs. Tuesday will be less, though still in the hundreds.

On Monday, both women attended their kids’ school athletics morning, Darke helped her husband on the farm and took her daughter to tutoring.

It’s a busy life. It’s a good life. And it’s a life the two Aria women fear is at risk. Pine trees are starting to arrive in the picturesque King Country, and they’re likely to keep coming. That does nothing for local communities. The plantations are company owned, and the workers are bussed in from who knows where.

Natasha Cave was driven to write an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern almost a year ago after another King Country farm was sold to trees. . . 

Emissions research a black hole – Steven Cranston:

A giant black hole is emerging within the wider agricultural industry. It has been there for some time but has mostly flown under the radar.

To date, it has sucked in over $200 million of industry and government money into its vortex, but – as is the case with black holes – nothing has come out. Most of that funding will be lost forever and if the agricultural industry does not start providing more critical oversight of emissions research spending, many hundreds of millions more will disappear into oblivion.

The consensus now is that solutions to ruminant methane emissions will not be market-ready any time soon; certainly not in time to help offset the Government’s proposed tax on farm emissions due to roll out in 2025. This has only prompted the black hole to expand. The Minister for Agriculture has recently announced another $338.7 million over the next four years to disappear, and the National Party is right behind them with big plans to drive further R&D investment.

The researchers behind these technologies have made bold claims about their potential: Bovaer has been shown to reduce emissions by 30% in Europe and AgResearch has identified a 12% variance between low and high methane breeding lines. . . 

Zespri lowers fruit returns forecast, downgrades FY23 corporate profit outlook – Andrea Fox:

Higher-than-estimated kiwifruit quality issue costs and ongoing challenges have squeezed some of the juice out of global marketer Zespri’s earnings and profit forecasts for this season.

Chairman Bruce Cameron has told the company’s 2800 New Zealand growers in a forecast update that tray returns for the best-seller SunGold kiwifruit and its organic counterpart are now below the June orchard gate return guidance.

The forecast range of corporate net profit after tax for the financial year ending March 31 was now $225 million to $235m, including grower licence income.

Corporate profit after tax in 2021-2022 was $361.5m. . . 

 

Time to celebrate Kiwi farmers – Todd Muller:

National Party acting spokesman for agriculture, Todd Muller, reflects on a difficult year for New Zealand farmers and reckons it’s time to celebrate our food and fibre sector.

This has been a bloody tough year for farmers.

While our export prices have been solid, the costs imposed on the home front have been shocking.

Continually growing farm inputs costs such as fuel, feed, labour and fertiliser are squeezing margins and causing immeasurable stress. . . 

New chapter for Fonterra as parliament passes DIRA amending Bill but a fresh climate challenge looms – Point of Order :

NZ dairy giant Fonterra expects to have its  new capital structure in place by March after Parliament gave a final reading  this week to the Dairy  Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill. It had the support of Labour, National, and Act, with the Greens and Te Pati Maori  voting against it,  as they did during the first two readings. 

It marks a new chapter for the big co-op at a time when the industry has been hit by soaring inflation-driven farm costs and the Ardern government’s move to tax farm methane emissions.

Fonterra  as a key element  of the dairy industry  has made significant progress with its turnaround 2030 business strategy; and the proposed capital restructure is designed to  ensure its many processing  sites remain full in flatlining, and predicted to decline, national milk production.

The  restructure needed Parliament’s approval because  Fonterra was created by enabling legislation in 2001, and because  a feature of it, delinking the farmer share market and the unit market, could have faced legal challenges. . . 

 

The blessing of harvest completed – Terry Wanzek  :

Abraham Lincoln issued America’s first Thanksgiving proclamation in a time of violence. The year was 1863, and the president found it appropriate to give thanks even though America was torn by “a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity.”

War was on my mind earlier this month, as I harvested corn on our family farm in North Dakota. It occurred to me that I’m fortunate to farm in peace.

We take so many things for granted—but as Thanksgiving approaches, we should count our blessings and express our thanks.

Let’s start with this simple fact of peace. I could offer that farmers wage war every day, as we battle the elements. A few years ago, a wet fall turned our fields to mud and made it nearly impossible to run our combines. We had to let a lot of corn stand through the winter and complete our job the following February and March. It felt like a war of attrition. . . 


Rural round-up

22/11/2022

Dairy producers gain fresh momentum so how sensible is it to impose a new levy on them – Point of Order?

After a slow start to the season, the NZ dairy industry has perked up,as at  the latest Fonterra  GDT auction prices firmed, after three successive falls.

That rise came on the heel of reports NZ dairy earnings from Australia have ballooned because processors there are short of milk and lining up to buy NZ dairy products.

Open Country Dairy, NZ’s second-biggest dairy processor and exporter, said it has had a 40% lift in demand for product from its Australian customers. South Island-based Westland Milk Products said it had been turning away approaches from across the Tasman.

Industry leader Fonterra, one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, said it was continuing to see strong demand from Australia. Fonterra had earlier earmarked for sale a stake in its Australian business,but only  last month announced it was not going ahead with that,a decision on which the board will be  congratulating itself. . . 

Alliance Group casts net for 400 seasonal workers – Luisa Girao:

The Alliance Group will look to the North Island and beyond to bring in 400 seasonal workers to cope with its employee shortfall.

Some of the imported staff may live on site due to the Southland accommodation squeeze.

Alliance manufacturing general manager Willie Wiese confirmed yesterday the company was recruiting up to 400 seasonal staff from across the country as well as from overseas for its Lorneville and Mataura plants.

They would help make up the shortfall in numbers Alliance could not recruit locally in Southland, he said. . . 

 

Agri commodity markets research outlook 2023: tightening the belt – Rabobank:

Agricultural commodities reached record nominal prices in May 2022, on the back of adverse weather, falling stockpiles, the war in Ukraine, the container shortage and various protectionist measures restricting food commodity exports. Between May and October, prices dropped 18% due to the USD strength, weak demand, a better container shipping situation, the temporary establishment of the Black Sea grain corridor and select bumper harvests. Presently, there are growing expectations for Brazil’s upcoming harvests of soy, sugar and coffee, as La Niña wanes and the wet season there has begun in a timely manner. Still, prices of agricultural commodities remain high, at about 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels, which is when we last saw some sense of ‘normalcy’ in agricultural markets.

Report summary

High prices would normally stimulate supply, but production is currently relatively inelastic to prices: area availability is limited as swaths of very fertile land are lost in Ukraine, farm input costs are high, La Niña is active and the cost of finance has increased. So there is more pressure on demand to balance the equation. Here we start to see some weakness that might continue through much of 2023. Global inflation has resulted in a loss of purchasing power globally, and subsequent hikes in interest rates could result in some major economies going into recession. A global recession would limit demand on a number of fronts, from feed and energy-related commodities to non-essential commodities like cotton, coffee and cocoa. . . .

Fonterra announces divestment of Chile business :

Fonterra is pleased to announce the divestment of its Chilean Soprole business. The divestment comprises a number of transactions that result in aggregate consideration of 591.07 billion Chilean Pesos (approximately NZD1.055 billion).

Fonterra CEO, Miles Hurrell, says that the divestment process for the Soprole business formally commenced in April 2022, following the launch of Fonterra’s strategy to 2030.

“A key pillar of our strategy is to focus on New Zealand milk. Soprole is a very good business but does not rely on New Zealand milk or expertise. We are now at the end of the divestment process and have agreed to sell Soprole to Gloria Foods – JORB S.A. (Gloria Foods).”

Gloria Foods is a consumer dairy market leader in Peru, with operations in Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.  Fonterra and Gloria Foods have a long-standing commercial relationship in South America. . .

Pig farmer tickled pink by top ham award :

 North Island farmer Jim Mather takes great pride in “growing fantastic animals” on his farm near Foxton – but he was still surprised to find a ham from one of his pigs had won the highly coveted Supreme Award in the 2022 100% New Zealand Bacon and Ham Awards.

Auckland’s Westmere Butchery won New Zealand’s best ham award for their bone-in leg ham, but a journey back along the supply chain to discover the provenance of the champion ham, leads to Jim Mather’s family farm.

“We know it’s fantastic pork – because our pigs want for nothing,” says Jim.

“But you don’t usually get a lot of validation for your product as a farmer. We really appreciate that the winner made a point of making sure we knew it was one of ours – we’re absolutely delighted.” . . 

The promise of seagrass pastures – Mel Silva :

In Lau Group in Fiji, seagrass meadows play a special and vital role for the environment, marine life and community. These underwater pastures help to maintain water quality, provide a habitat for diverse flora and fauna – while also supporting local industries and cultural practices.

On a broader scale, these marine environments are critical to the health of our global climate. Similar to forests on land, seagrass can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as it grows – storing it through a process called carbon sequestration. Seagrass is one of the world’s most effective carbon storage powerhouses, and it can store carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.

Measuring the carbon capacity of ecosystems allows nations to participate in climate discussions, evaluate their contributions and better manage their ecosystems’ vitality. However, gathering this information is much more complex in an underwater environment than it is on land. Traditional methods for carbon assessment of coastal and marine ecosystems have relied on remote geospatial and aerial sensing technology that can be affected by cloud cover, angle of the sun and weather – and getting results from this imagery relies on costly and time consuming manual image analysis.

Under the Digital Future Initiative, we’re launching a new ‘blue carbon’ project in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Tidal (an ocean health project within X) to address these barriers. Together, we’re exploring novel applications of artificial intelligence to measure, with greater efficiency and accuracy, the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to absorb and sequester carbon. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/11/2022

No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/11/2022

Why this virtue signalling Govt is so reviled by the rural sector – Jamie Mackay :

Would it be unkind to say you’ve got to go back to the days of David Lange and Rogernomics to find a government so reviled by the rural sector?

And it’s rather ironic that Labour finds itself in a unique electoral situation because of the support it garnered from the provinces in the 2020 election. A case of be careful what you vote for. A perfect storm of Covid, an empathetic PM, fear of the unknown, the fear of the Greens and a totally dysfunctional National Party, combined to produce the first majority government in MMP history.

The Government’s recent response to He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) and the resultant modelling was an abrupt wake up call to rural New Zealand and those self-same provinces that swept Jacinda Ardern into power. Only Wayne Barnes missing that forward pass in 2007 is a bigger mystery to me than why every electorate, Epsom aside, party voted Labour in 2020. We’ll never see the likes of that again.

And we may never see the likes of 50,000 Kiwi farmers again if we lose 20 per cent of our sheep and beef production and six per cent of dairy. The numbers being modelled are frightening, even if they’re only half correct. . . 

Is this our generation’s subsidy-free moment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

How farmers move forward and negotiate with the government’s response to He Waka Eke Noa proposals could be this generation’s “subsidy-free moment,” reminiscent of the 1980s, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

The release of the Government’s response to the proposals from He Waka Eke Noa has resulted in misunderstanding, muddle and misery. New suggestions have appeared, questions have been asked, and the misery remains.

How can farm businesses survive what has been suggested? Economic viability is threatened.

The Prime Minister has recognised the concerns and has used the phrase “Just Transition” – the same words used in Taranaki when changes in the energy sector were made. . . 

Fed Farmers call for alternative farming emissions proposal – Evan Harding:

A leading Southland farmer says she won’t be getting winter grazing consents and hundreds of other farmers will also refuse to get them.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt, speaking at a meeting about the Government’s controversial farming emissions’ proposal and winter grazing regulations at Stadium Southland on Wednesday night, said consents were supposed to place extra scrutiny where the highest risks were.

But if thousands of people had to get them for an activity, it was not targeting the highest risk.

“That’ll mean councils can’t adequately check them out in advance or enforce them so it makes a mockery of the process. You’ll pay for a piece of paper but there’s nothing behind it, and that’s why we don’t support these ones,” she said. . . 

 

Planting trees for the future – Sudesh Kissun :

Waikato farmers John and Maria van Heuven believe in leaving their 164ha property in a better condition than when they bought it 20 years ago.

Hence the Matamata dairy farmers of 50 years quickly joined the Bridge to Bridge project (B2B), backed by Waikato Regional Council and Fonterra.

The three-year community-run project was completed recently with eight kilometres of Waitoa River fenced and 17,000 native plants and trees in the ground.

The project involved landowners on either side of the Puketutu and Station Road bridges near Matamata, removing pest plants, relocating fencing from the river’s edge to create bigger riparian margins and planting native plants and trees.

Here for the long game :

DairyNZ has launched a new campaign designed to showcase dairy farmers’ commitment to a better future for New Zealand.

The multi-media campaign, named Here for the Long Game, launched nationwide this week, and highlights dairy farmers’ commitment while sharing how the sector is addressing the challenges ahead.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the campaign shares the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers.

“As a sector, we want to deliver a sustainable future – meeting the needs of our communities and customers, while maintaining profitable and sustainable businesses,” he says. . .

 

Anti-burping tablets could solve Australia’s cattle methane emission problem – Elly Bradfield and Amy Phillips :

A Queensland university claims its research into cattle has the potential to reduce methane emissions in Australia’s beef industry by 30 per cent.

The federal government confirmed last week Australia would sign up to a global pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent this decade.

Meat and Livestock Australia, industry’s peak research and development group, had previously vowed to be carbon neutral by 2030 through its CN30 pledge.

Professor Ben Hayes from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at the University of Queensland said its four projects could be applied simultaneously to the $14.6 billion beef cattle industry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/10/2022

Govt proposal puts farmers at risk – Nicky Hyslop:

It was with good faith that more than two years ago, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and 10 primary sector partners entered into discussions about a sector-specific emissions pricing framework through He Waka Eke Noa.

This was as an alternative to agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which we firmly believed was the wrong outcome for our farmers.

All of this work has been put at risk with the Government’s proposed changes to the partners’ agreed-upon pricing approach. These changes are completely unacceptable, particularly to sheep, beef and deer farmers, and leave us questioning what the Government is trying to achieve.

Carbon sequestration was a critical aspect of the finely balanced proposal, particularly in terms of achieving fairness and equity for hill country farmers, so it is extremely disappointing that the Government has put forward a proposal that does not reward and incentivise the plantings that farmers have done and continue to do. . . .

What the hell? – Peter Burke :

Confusion and outright anger reign across rural New Zealand as farmers and communities try to get to the bottom of the Labour Government’s proposal to effectively make a large number of sheep and beef farmers unprofitable in its quest to get them to pay for their agricultural emissions.

There have been claims the Government is prioritising trees over food and questions have been asked as to whether the move is brave or stupid.

While farmers have consistently stated their willingness to pay for these emissions, PM Jacinda Ardern’s announcement from a hay bale stage at a dairy farm in the Wairarapa a couple of weeks ago was not what farmers were expecting.

As Rural News went to print farmers around the country were preparing to take to the streets and motorways to express their opposition to the emissions pricing proposal. . . .

Fonterra fires back at critics of DIRA bill – Hugh Stringleman :

Fonterra’s capital restructure and the enabling legislation will give the company a fair go at competing for a sustainable supply of New Zealand milk on more equal terms, the co-operative says.

Chair Peter McBride presented Fonterra’s submission to the Primary Production Committee of Parliament on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment (DIRA) Bill.

He said an internationally competitive, farmer-owned co-operative of scale is in the country’s best interests.

The new flexible shareholding capital structure will help to level the playing field with foreign-backed competitors in an environment of declining NZ milk production. . . .

Record profits for Alliance Group – Shawn McAvinue:

Red meat processor and exporter Alliance Group is celebrating a record profit, but supply-chain challenges remain, bosses say.

The co-operative held 20 meetings across New Zealand to update farmers on its operation and the tour finished in Mossburn last night.

Group chief executive David Surveyor, speaking at Ranfurly Bowling Club last week, said the co-operative had a record profit performance for the year ending September 30.

“It’s the most profitable year in Alliance Group’s history . . .

Pioneering UMF: a beekeeper’s story – Leah Tebbutt:

Being in the honey industry for 40-odd years is not enough for Margaret and her husband Bill Bennett.

“We hope we’ll be some of the ones that keep on going through – that survive,” Bill said as we enter the honey house with citrus and magenta-coloured hives piled high.

Their persistence and passion come as no surprise. The couple pioneered the UMF grading system 25 years ago and they have campaigned for it ever since.

And while they are taking a small step back, son Andrew and son-in-law James Jeffery are both now beekeepers for their business, SummerGlow Apiaries. . . 

Using livestock for healthier soil – Glenneis Kriel :

Much has been said about how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious limitations in the global logistics and food system, and how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes it even more unlikely that the world will be able to end hunger by 2050.

But Angus McIntosh, better known as Farmer Angus, who farms livestock at Spier near Stellenbosch, argues that the situation is compounded by the misconception that the world’s farmers will have to feed a projected population of nine billion people by 2050.

“The world is already producing enough food to feed between 11 billion and 14 billion people. [However], our problem is that a lot of food is wasted along the supply chain or grown for the wrong reasons, such as to feed cattle [or other livestock in intensive farming concerns] or to produce biofuels,” says McIntosh. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

21/10/2022

Fundamental differences on HWEN flagged   – Gerald Piddock:

“Not our proposal at all’ says DairyNZ chair

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel is distancing the farming sector’s emissions proposal from the government’s, saying the two are fundamentally different.

There are similarities at first glance, but once the organisation started reading through the fine print, it found that the proposal contained big differences to the one outlined by He Eke Waka Noa (HWEN).

“As we have looked into it, and as we have looked at the details of the whole proposal, it’s become more obvious how different it really is. It is fundamentally different and is not our proposal at all,” Van der Poel said. . .

Fonterra unhappy with government’s emission proposal – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra says it has some reservations about the Government’s consultation document on agricultural emissions.

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride had told co-op shareholders that the Government proposal creates “an imbalance within the sector”.

McBride sent an email to shareholders after addressing a primary production select committee in Parliament this morning.

He told Fonterra farmers that Fonterra supports the intent of He Waka Eke Noa – a partnership of 13 members of the agriculture industry, including DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ. . .

QE II celebrates milestone, reaching 5000registered open space covenants :

An 8.9-hectare forest that landowners the McDonald family call ‘The Gorge’, has officially become the 5000th area in New Zealand to be protected with an Open Space Covenant in partnership with the QEII National Trust.

Toby and Charlotte McDonald and their family hosted other local QEII covenantors and local community members at their farm in rural Wairarapa on Wednesday to celebrate the milestone, right next to the newly protected forest.

The newly registered Open Space Covenant protects modified primary forest and a stream system that feeds into Wainuioru River.

The forest contains rare and threatened species including Olearia gardneri(Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable). It also contains one of the few rimu remaining in the district and is home to pōpokotea (whitehead), a Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable species. . . 

Wet weather crop delays costing arable farmers winter and money  :

Wet weather in parts of the North Island over the past few months has been causing huge issues for farmers and growers, who have had to delay planting valuable crops.

A cold snap earlier this month froze the asparagus crop of one of the country’s largest growers, Boyds Asparagus, in Waikato and strawberry crops on the outskirts of Hamilton were decimated by heavy frost.

In Horowhenua, heavy rain and flooding has also delayed potato planting, with growers forced to wait until their fields dry out before planting new crops.

And the variable weather is affecting arable crops too, with farmers also having to delay planting their maize and fodder crops. . . 

Get paid to work in one of the world’s most beautiful places – Andrea Vance:

Working from home could prove difficult – but the daily commute might involve a jet boat or helicopter ride. And your direct reports would include some of the world’s rarest creatures.

It’s a dream job – patrolling some of the world’s most spectacular wilderness, and caring for kiwi, penguins and lizards on the front line of extinction.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is on the hunt for a biodiversity supervisor in Haast, on the western edge of Mount Aspiring National Park.

But in a nation-wide labour market shortage, there have been just three applicants so far for the role, based in New Zealand’s most remote town. DOC are now casting the net wider. . . 

 

Shared knowledge ‘magic ingredient’ – Gordon Davidson:

Farmers and crofters learning from each other is the ‘magic ingredient’ needed to expand sustainable farming practices in Scotland.

So says Nikki Yoxall, of Grampian Graziers and Pasture for Life, who will be speaking at a public webinar about the progress of agroecology in Scotland on November 11.

Over 60 farmers and crofters from Aberdeenshire to Galloway are already meeting up in small local groups to explore sustainable farming practices, from Scottish-grown poultry feed to mob grazing, and discussing how they can improve the financial bottom line. November’s webinar is being presented as the first of a number of upcoming opportunities for other farmers to join them.

“We are learning by doing and trying things out,” said Ms Yoxall. “Being part of a group helps – we get to share what works well, what are the sticking points. Different practices suit different farms, and often you don’t know what will work well until you – or your neighbouring farm – give it a go.” . .


Rural round-up

20/10/2022

Genetic modification in New Zealand – scientists call for 20-year rethink – Jamie Morton:

Twenty years after the Corngate scandal turned genetic modification into a political hot potato, leading science figures hope a new review will bring changes. Jamie Morton reports.

It’s called ciltacabtagene autoleucel.

Its trading name, Carvykti, doesn’t roll off the tongue any easier.

But it marks a major milestone in one of our most complex, contentious and enduring debates: genetic modification. . .

Fonterra’s competitors challenges its capital restructuring plan but the co-op has the backing of our agriculture minister – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s   big  dairy  company, Fonterra,  has  come  under  pressure   from  two  directions  this  week.  First,  its  fortnightly GDT auction registered  another   fall  in  prices. Second,  it  faced  fire   from   four  of  its  competitors which  lobbied  the  government against  its  capital  restructuring  plan.

On  the  first issue, the latest  sale  has  taken  the GDT index  to  the  lowest level  since  January  last  year, although  what  may  soften that particular  blow  is  the  devaluation  of  the  local  currency. The  NZ dollar is  now  trading well  down against  the  greenback at US56c ,  from where  it  was  then,  around US70c.

The average price at the  auction fell 4.6% to US$3723 a tonne, after falling 3.5% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March. . .

Sharing story sustainability – Sally Rae:

As Becks Smith prepares to record her podcast The Whole Story, she puts a port-a-cot mattress on the headboard of her bed to help with sound quality.

Her bedroom doubled as a studio, given many of the rooms of the Maniototo farmhouse she shares with husband Jason and their three young children, were too echoey.

Occasionally, their working dogs could be heard barking in the background of the podcast, while rural connectivity issues sometimes also had to be worked through.

But it summed her up; rather than having a slick studio somewhere, it was authentic and real, based on a 700ha sheep, beef and deer property in the heart of rural Otago.

“To resonate with farmers, you don’t need polished and shiny,” she said. . .

Lambs to slaughter  – Clive Bibby :

Any farmer trying to get space for lambs that need to be killed before they cut their teeth will identify with this very apt description which could also be applied to a wider difficulty that is affecting the whole country.

Unfortunately the problem in all its forms is a direct result of the government’s obsession with an ideological target that is being increasingly seen as a misplaced interpretation of world climatic events – particularly in how we in New Zealand should react in mitigation to the perceived threat of global warming.

Most intelligent observers, especially those of us charged with rescuing the nation from the avoidable mistakes made during Covid, will be appalled, if not frightened by the government’s determination to pursue the disastrous path on which we have all been committed. 

As one approaching the twilight years of my life and a keen admirer of the farmers who have time and again over the years come to the rescue of the dangerous halfwits we have mistakenly elected to the highest office in the land, I am worried that this time, our collective effort may not be enough. . .

Southern Pastures measuring dairy for good :

Ethical investor Southern Pastures, the country’s largest institutional dairy investment fund, has been judged to be a Responsible Investment Leader for the seventh year running.

It remains the only organization from New Zealand’s agriculture and food sectors to ever be included in the annual benchmark report released by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).

Southern Pastures owns 19 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury and is the owner of premium dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery and wholesale business NZ Grass Fed Products LP.

“So often the pastoral industry is judged by outputs such as emissions, but we’re not nearly as rigorously measured or assessed for the positive services that some of us provide,” says Prem Maan, Southern Pastures’ Executive Chairman. . . 

New Zealand’s top sausages announced :

New World Te Rapa in Hamilton and Zaroa Meats in Auckland have been announced as the Supreme Award joint winners in the 2022 Great New Zealand Sausage Competition. The judges couldn’t split New World Te Rapa’s Pork sausage and Zaroa Meats’ Aoraki Salami, instead crowning them joint winners of the Supreme Award.

The successful sausages were announced at a special Sausage Mixer event this evening where butchers from across the nation gathered to find out who had taken out the top spot. It’s not the first time there has been a tie, but judges were unanimous that both sausages had all the qualities they were looking for to beat out over 530 other entries.

Porsche Davis, of New World Te Rapa says “I wasn’t expecting this at all. I wasn’t expecting to win gold to start with let alone this” When asked the secret to their Supreme sausage, Porsche Davis was giving nothing away “We did recently update our pork sausage recipe, it’s made from New Zealand pork but I can’t reveal any trade secrets, you have to try it to understand!”

Marc Zabern of Zaroa Meats says “my father is the mastermind behind the supreme salami, he’s been designing the most incredible sausages for years now and when he created this Wagyu and Venison Salami we knew it was special. It’s a taste sensation.” . . 


Rural round-up

19/10/2022

Has He Waka hit the rocks? – Peter Burke :

The Government’s proposal to deal with agricultural emissions has stunned many rural communities who warn that it will decimate them and replace sheep and beef farms with pine trees.

Under the proposal, the Government states its intent to reduce emissions by 10% by 2030 and that farmers will start paying for their emissions by 2025.

But according to Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard, this plan put up by government will cause massive economic and social consequences in rural communities. He says the plan would see sheep and beef production drop by up to 20% and dairy by 5%, costing NZ $3 billion.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut wrenching to think we have a proposal by the Government that rips the heart out of the work we have done and to the families who farm the land. Feds is deeply unimpressed with the Government,” he says. . .

Our climate policy is confused and flawed – Allan Barber:

There’s an argument for rebuilding it from the bottom up, without Kyoto-era flaws.

Two reputable climate change scientists, Adrian Macey and David Frame, have recently published a five-part series of articles in BusinessDesk.co.nz which seriously questions the government’s climate change targets and policy. Macey is New Zealand’s first climate change ambassador and an adjunct professor at the NZ Climate Change Research Centre at Victoria University, and Frame is the centre’s director, which gives their opinions serious credibility.

At the same time Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has issued a report that confirms the inappropriateness of planting huge swathes of pine forests to offset methane emissions and a note that questions the rationale for treating long-lived greenhouse gases and biogenic methane differently. He asks why fossil fuel emitters to buy carbon credits as offsets, while livestock methane emitters are not. Forests remove carbon dioxide, not methane, from the atmosphere, but Upton argues it should logically be possible for forestry to be used as an offset against warming in general, including methane. He also warned about the impossibility of planting enough trees to solve the warming problem.

In his report he states: “Reducing livestock methane emissions could have real economic and social impacts on people and ways of life. A fine balance needs to be struck between having regard to economic and social dislocation and finding a position that New Zealand can defend in international climate change negotiations, while remaining competitive in global food markets with growing consumer demand for low-emissions products.”  . . 

The shifting ground beneath farmers’ feet – Tony Benny :

Much has changed the position of farming in New Zealand society since 1973, when the sector lost its privileged access to a large and lucrative market.

“That cued up a series of crises that got worse and worse, culminating in 1984 with Rogernomics and really the first moment in the colonial history of New Zealand where a government decisively turned its back on farming. Things have never quite been the same,” Otago University’s Professor Hugh Campbell, an expert in the sociology of agriculture, told the Embracing Urban Agriculture hosted by Lincoln University’s B Linc Innovation centre.

He listed a series of fractures over the past 40 years or so that changed how urban and rural New Zealand relate, starting with a series of food scares in Europe including the Chernobyl disaster and Mad Cow Disease, which shook consumers’ confidence in food safety.

Consumers were also shaken by biosecurity issues including rabbits and the illegal release of calicivirus in an effort to control them, as well as the PSA virus that hit kiwifruit growers. . . 

New median wage to hit farmers in the pocket – Jessica Marshall:

Moves by the Government to raise the wage threshold for migrant workers have some farmers up in arms.

Last week, Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced that a new median wage of $29.66 per hour would be adopted into the immigration system from 27 February next year.

“The Government is focused on moving New Zealand to a higher wage economy, increasing the skill level of migrant workers, and encouraging employers to offer competitive wages and improve career pathways for New Zealanders,” Wood said.

“Updating the median wage thresholds regularly is necessary to ensure the Government is delivering on its immigration rebalance goals and that existing policy settings are maintained in line with market changes.” . . 

Southern women recognised in NZI Awards  :

Southern women feature as category award winners in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business awards.

Jody Drysdale, from Balfour, who won the innovation category, is behind Hopefield Hemp, with her husband Blair. The couple decided on hemp after looking for ways to diversify their farming operation to include a value-add, direct-to-consumer product.

Hopefield Hemp grows, harvests, presses and markets hemp seed oil. It is small batch pressed and is available in bottles and capsules. In response to one of her children experiencing skin irritation, Mrs Drysdale researched and developed a recipe to make a soothing cream using her hemp seed oil and Hopefield Hemp’s skin care range was launched.

Serena Lyders, from Whānau Consultancy Services, Tokanui, won the rural champion category. Passionate about the shearing industry, she is a sixth generation member of a shearing family and the industry and the people in it were close to her heart. . . 

New project to help farmers gain regenerative agriculture certification :

Interest in food produced using regenerative practices is gaining momentum across the globe – and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is backing a project to help more New Zealand sheep and beef farmers capture this premium market.

MPI has committed $142,480 over two years through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund towards the $356,200 project with Lean Meats Limited (trading as Atkins Ranch). It aims to scale up the number of verified lamb producers that meet the regenerative certification requirements of the US Savory Institute’s Land to Market Programme.

New Zealand-owned company Atkins Ranch has been a partner of the Land to Market Programme since 2019. It sells premium grass-fed lamb into the US market and has supply contracts across five regions of New Zealand. The company has been piloting regenerative farming practices since 2019 with a core group of 23 farmers, and this is now expanding to more than 70 farms.

“I see regenerative agriculture as leaving the land in a better state for future generations,” says Atkins Ranch chief executive officer Pat Maher. . . 

Fonterra announces new sustainable finance framework :

As part of Fonterra’s commitment to sustainability and implementation of its strategy, the Co-operative has today released its Sustainable Finance Framework (Framework). This Framework aligns Fonterra’s funding strategy with its sustainability ambitions and reflects the evolving preferences of lenders and debt investors in this area.

Fonterra’s Framework outlines how the Co-operative intends to issue and manage any sustainable debt, which could include Green Bonds and Sustainability-Linked Bonds and Loans. The Framework has been developed with Joint Sustainability Co-ordinators HSBC and Westpac NZ and has been independently verified by ISS Corporate Solutions confirming alignment with globally agreed sustainable finance principles.

“This new Framework is a step on our sustainable financing journey – aligning with our Co-operative’s broader sustainability ambitions,” says Simon Till, Fonterra Director Capital Markets.

“Over the next decade we intend to significantly increase our investment in sustainability-related activities and assets throughout our supply chain to both mitigate environmental risks and continue to differentiate our New Zealand milk. By FY30 we intend to invest around NZ$1 billion in reducing carbon emissions and improving water efficiency and treatment at our manufacturing sites. In doing so, we will be taking significant steps towards our aspiration to be Net Zero by 2050 and we plan to align our funding with this approach.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/10/2022

Farmers react to government’s HWENN stance– Richard Rennie & Annette Scott:

Masterton farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ councillor Paul Crick says there’s a fundamental unfairness in the government’s interpretation of He Waka Eke Noa, one that conflicts with its own policy goals.

“Reading the ‘Fit for a Better World’ policy document, in Damien O’Connor’s foreword he writes how its aim is to build a more productive, sustainable and inclusive food and fibre sector. That appears a lot throughout the document, ensuring a better future for farmers and growers. How then do we throw that lens over what we heard on HWEN this week?”

Crick said there is a fundamental unfairness in the removal of the ability to sequester methane against farm vegetation, and in ignoring the 1.4 million hectares of woody vegetation already growing on NZ drystock farms that could be applied.

“It seems they are saying on one hand we will take it, and on the other we will take it as well. There is no balancing of the ledger there.”  . . .

Why blame cows Maori farmer rejects ETS money grab? – James Perry:

Paki Nikora, a trustee of Te Urewera-based Tātaiwhetu Trust, says he can’t fathom why farmers continue to be blamed for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Mēnā tātou ka whakaaro i te wā ka pā mai te mate uruta kia tātou, ka makere mai ngā ēropereina i te rangi, ka makere mai ngā motuka i ngā huarahi ka mārama te kitea atu i te taiao ki te whare rā anō o te atua. Kei te whakapae rātou nā ngā kau kē te hē.
(If we think back to when the covid pandemic hit us and the planes were grounded and cars were off the roads, it was clear to see the improvement in the environment. But they still want to blame the cows.) 

He describes the government’s emissions reduction scheme is a “senseless tax” on the industry.

“Kāore au i te mārama he aha rātou e huri mai nei ki te tāke i a tātou whenua. He mahi moni noa tērā.”
(I don’t know why they keep trying to tax us on our whenua. It’s just a plain money grab) . . 

Why New Zealand meat is outstanding in its field – Annette Scott :

Going from the laboratory to the family dinner table, a multi-year research programme looked into the relative nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef and lamb, and plant-based alternatives. Annette Scott found out why grass is so great.

A New Zealand research programme has found pasture-raised beef and lamb beats both grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives when it comes to health and wellbeing benefits for consumers.

The four-year programme brought together researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland and included two ground-breaking clinical trials to look at the impact of red meat on the diet.

The clinical trials assessed the physical effects on the body from eating beef or lamb raised on grass, grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives, and looked at measurements of wellbeing such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels. . . .

 

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon to build innovative land-based salmon farm :

A prototype for New Zealand’s first sustainable, land-based salmon farm is in the early stages of development, with backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

SFF Futures is committing $6.7 million over six years to the $16.7 million project, which was officially launched in Twizel today. Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker attended the launch and visited the freshwater salmon farms to hear about Mt Cook Alpine Salmon’s plans for building the prototype.

“Demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to boost the supply of this high-quality, high-value product,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

Mr Penno says the project aligns with the Government’s aquaculture strategy, which outlines a sustainable growth pathway to an additional $3 billion in annual revenue. . . 

Fonterra revises milk collection :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its 2022/23 New Zealand milk collections to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its previous forecast of 1,495 million kgMS.

Fonterra last reduced its 2022/23 milk collections forecast in early September. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says this was due to weather conditions in parts of New Zealand causing a slow start to the season.  . . .

 

My food bag launches homegrown taste adventures to celebrate Nadia’s farm :

My Food Bag has released its latest meal kit offering to enable Kiwi foodies the opportunity to recreate dishes featured on Three’s new programme, Nadia’s Farm.

My Food Bag is a proud sponsor of Nadia’s Farm, an unfiltered look at Nadia and her husband Carlos as they re-establish Royalburn Station, airing Wednesday nights on Three and ThreeNow.

Bringing the fresh and high quality ingredients seen on television direct to Kiwi kitchens, My Food Bag is releasing meal kits inspired by meals seen on Nadia’s Farm and has launched a farm shop filled with products from Royalburn Station, and other boutique New Zealand suppliers.

Jo Mitchell, Chief Customer Officer of My Food Bag, says supporting Nadia’s Farmis a way to celebrate the best of New Zealand food and what happens on the farm to make that possible for us. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/10/2022

Bursting the methane bubble :

In their report for BusinessDesk, Adrian Macey and Dave Frame point out that the 30-year-old metric chosen by the UN to measure the different greenhouse gases (known as GWP100) is inaccurate for short-lived gases – such as methane.

“It greatly overstates the warming caused by NZ’s methane in relation to the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal. Recent work by scientists has solved the problem by devising a different metrict, GWP*, which is an adaptation of GWP100 that very accurately replicates methane’s actual warming.”

Macey and Frame point out how even the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report sums up the shortcomings of GWP100:

“Expressing methane emissions as CO2-equivalent using GWP100 overstates the effect of constant methane emissions on global temperature by a factor of 3 to 4, while understating the effect of any new methane emission source by a factor of 4 to 5 over the 20 years following the introduction of the new source.” . .

Creating coats of many colours: The growth of rural women-led businesses – Rachel Klaver:

Years ago I wrote a book called She’ll Be Right, about rural New Zealand women building businesses, running farms, and building careers outside of cities. Some of them had been thrown into it by circumstance, while others were actively pursuing building businesses where they were, instead of having to relocate to cities where there were more people, bigger resources and better wi-fi.

I was living rurally myself, but was making a 60km round trip daily just to get a latte from the nearest town’s cafe. I was not really made from the same cloth as the women I was profiling.

I hadn’t thought about that book for a long time, until I interviewed Claire Williamson for my MAP IT Marketing podcast. I’d asked her to come on and talk about her bespoke clothing line, Velma and Beverly, and quickly discovered this thriving small business was only one of the activities Willliamson has on the go.

There are a growing number of rural women-led businesses emerging, especially as the face of farming is evolving. There’s a greater need to diversify and find ways to generate income off the land, that is sustainable, protects the environment and also helps protect and support the families living on the land. . . 

Website launches to support farmers for major weather events :

A new website aims to make it easier for farmers to prepare for and access support after a major weather event.

The Farmers’ Adverse Events Trust has just launched a new website with tips on how farmers can prepare for bad weather.

Trust chair William Rolleston said the effects of climate change meant farmers were facing more severe weather events more frequently.

Preparing for severe weather events should be incorporated into farm plans, Rolleston said. . . 

Climate science we can all get behind – Bryan Gibson :

A movement based solely on what you don’t want to do has no future.

Most conversations about politics these days seem to focus on what people oppose, rather than what they support.

It may be Three Waters, or co-governance in general.

Other government regulations, like Essential Freshwater and the pricing of emissions, also provoke strong opposition. . . 

New Alumni group has been launched by NZ Young Farmers:

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) has formally launched the NZYF Alumni Network.

The NZYF Alumni Network, officially formalised at the 2022 NZYF Annual General Meeting in July, will provide former Young Farmers members with the opportunity to stay connected with the organisation.

The Network will also offer past members a channel for offering up their expertise and support, contributing to NZYFs goal of becoming a sustainable organisation.

NZYF Chief Executive, Lynda Coppersmith, is excited to have the Network formalised. . . 

Aimer raises a million dollars to launch a ‘Siri’ for NZ farmers:

For the average farmer, optimising pasture use is inherently complex, with different herd numbers, paddock growth rates, pre and post graze targets and target feed intakes requiring a myriad of tools and dashboards. Managing this requires a lot of manual calculations, ‘clicking’, guesses and communication with staff and quite often, the use of consultants. To solve this, pastoral optimisation startup Aimer Development has built an artificial intelligence (AI) enabled digital assistant (called Aimer) currently being tested across some of the country’s most complex and challenging dairy farms. The ‘Siri’ for farmers is New Zealand’s first digital coach in your pocket for the dairy industry and has attracted its first NZ$1 million dollars in investment from Sprout.

“Within an industry in which ongoing success relies on optimisation, the stakes are high. The very best farms can be $1,000-2,000 dollars more profitable per hectare per annum than their competition, and a large part of that is due to the successful management of pasture. Aimer has built a digital tool that will allow farmers to test and optimise the use of their pasture easily and at scale. For processors and retailers, Aimer is an effective way of supporting suppliers and customers to improve business profitability and economic resilience as well as meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements. For farmers themselves, Aimer places game-changing, predictive and intuitive technology into the hands of those responsible for on-the-ground decision making,” comments Warren Bebb, Investment Manager for Sprout.

Aimer Development is the fifth investment of over thirty NZ$1 million agritech and foodtech investments Sprout will make over the next six years, having joined forces with investment partners US-based Finistere Ventures, Kiwi dairy giant Fonterra and Israeli venture builder OurCrowd, as well as Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubator programme that was designed to support the commercialisation of early-stage deep tech ventures. . . 

 


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