Concern over widespread dry conditions – Neal Wallace and Gerald Piddock:
Dry autumn conditions are spreading throughout the country, with most regions seeking rain and forecasters warning conditions are likely to remain dry in the coming months.
Recent rain and warm weather has boosted feed on parched Southland and Otago farms which are delicately poised heading into winter, while Waikato and South Auckland farmers are being told to plan for a possible drought.
Dry autumn conditions are widespread through both islands, prompting farmers to reconsider winter feed budgets to account for lower than desired pasture cover.
The south of the South Island and Waikato appear hardest hit, missing the usual autumn flush leaving some farmers with low pasture cover, low supplementary reserves and fingers crossed for a mild winter. . .
The Government is squandering an opportunity to prioritise rural health and enshrine it in legislation, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.
“The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill sets out the framework for Labour’s ill-timed health restructure and after the second reading in parliament yesterday, there is still a woeful lack of focus on the health needs of rural New Zealand.
“The genesis of this restructure was the Heather Simpson-led review of the health and disability sector. It mentioned rural health at least 30 times and made it very plain that rural services should be specifically planned for, recognising the unique challenges of living rurally.
“This idea is further emphasised by submissions made during the select committee process. . .
Fonterra’s new capital structure gets closer – Keith Woodford:
Fonterra’s new capital structure brings its own risks, designed for choppy seas but not for a storm
The Government has been wrestling for many months as to how to respond to Fonterra’s proposed new capital structure, which its farmer-members voted for overwhelmingly. The Ministry of Primary Industries, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, has now released a discussion paper indicating the Government proposed response. Essentially the Government is conceding to Fonterra’s wishes, but with some shackles proposed to constrain Fonterra‘s subsequent behaviours.
To understand what is happening, it is necessary to go back to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. The Fonterra that was formed at that time, with 96% of the national milk production under its control for processing and marketing, would not have been allowed if assessed under the Commerce Act. It would have run foul of restrictions on monopolies.
Accordingly, special legislation was put in place via the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) by the Labour Government of the day. Regulations were set in place allowing Fonterra to act as an effective monopoly in relation to marketing New Zealand milk overseas, but constrained in exerting monopoly power in the local New Zealand market. . .
Beef cattle numbers increased in 2021, while the number of sheep dipped slightly, Stats NZ said today.
Final figures from the 2021 Agricultural Production Survey showed that the number of beef cattle was up by 2 percent (82,000) from the previous year and there was a total of 4 million at 30 June 2021. Total beef exports were $3.6 billion for the year ended 30 June 2021.
“The total number of beef cattle has been increasing steadily since 2016. Just over two-thirds of all beef cattle are farmed in the North Island,” agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said.
Sheep Numbers Down Slightly . .
A ‘smart spade’ which identifies exactly where to plant a tree seedling is just one of the new technologies in the seven-year $25.5 million Precision Silviculture development project.
The newly elected President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the just announced joint government funded project to bring mechanisation and robots to the production of tree seedlings and the tending of plantations covers a wide range of technologies.
“It’s not a single Eureka discovery which is going to make all this work. It’s combining, for instance, a planter with a sensor and linking it to electronic mapping. The map sends a beep signal to the planter that they need to go a couple of metres up or along the slope to put the seedling in. The end result is a much more optimally spaced plantation forest which makes for better growth and easier and safer harvesting.”
Grant Dodson says that the growth in mechanical harvesting over the past decade already shows that using machinery results in greater productivity and a much safer workplace. . .
The West’s role in Africa’s day of the locusts – Richard Tren & Jasson Urbach,:
Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport. The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead. Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.
The locusts that almost brought down the 737 are part of the worst infestation to hit Africa in 75 years. Swarms of locusts can blanket 460 miles at a time and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation a day; and the grasshopper-like insects increase logarithmically, meaning locust swarms could be 500 times bigger in six months.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the threat “unprecedented,” but attempts at aerial spraying have been too little, too late — largely because of FAO’s own politically-driven agenda to limit pesticides — and experts fear Africa may once again be tilting toward widespread famine.
As poor farmers futilely shoo the voracious insects away with sticks, this modern plague highlights the urgent need for pesticides to protect crops and save lives. It also casts into stark relief the tragic consequences of UN, European and environmentalist campaigns to deny these life-saving chemicals to developing nations. . .