Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


CPI rise highest since 1990

21/10/2008

The Consumer Price Index rose 5.1% in the year to September – the highest it’s been since the year to June 1990.

Steep rises in the price of electricity, fuel, food and electricity were the major contributers to the increase.

Food prices rose 10.8% in the year to September, the highest increase since the year to April 1990 (which included an increase in GST from 10 to 12.5%)

All five subgroups recorded upward contributions to the annual increase, with the most significant contribution coming from the grocery food subgroup (up 12.8 percent). Within this subgroup, higher prices were recorded for cheddar cheese (up 61.6 percent), bread (up 16.5 percent), and fresh milk (up 12.6 percent).The remaining four subgroups recorded the following upward contributions: fruit and vegetables (up 17.9 percent), meat, poultry and fish (up 8.8 percent), restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up 6.3 percent), and non-alcoholic beverages (up 6.9 percent).

 

The 61.6% increase in the price of chedder cheese is huge, but when the increase for milk was about a fifth of that (12.6%) it can’t be all blamed on farmers.
 


Pure food for Chinese elite

06/10/2008

While people around the wold worry about what’s in food produced in China, the elite in that country dine on pure organic foods.

Their diet includes beef from cattle that have grazed on the pesticide-free pastures of inner Mongolia and fish from the crystalline rivers and lakes of Hubei province in central China. They dine on rice that costs 15 times the price of the ordinary grain; as well it might, being grown on the slopes of a mountain near North Korea and irrigated by clear waters from melting snows.

They sip tea brewed with the most delicate leaves from lofty plantations on the fringe of the Tibetan plateau. It costs more than £100 a pound.

The task of selecting the best falls to a body known as the State Council Central Government Bureau Special Food Supply Centre. It caters for the dietary needs of the senior leaders such as President Hu Jintao who, foreign diplomats say, is a diabetic.

Surely this proves we have every reason to be concerned because if the food everyone else eats is wholesome and healthy there would be no need for the elite to have special supplies.


Are food imports a problem?

07/08/2008

Rural News reports that farming leaders are astounded by the statistics which show New Zealand imports 40% or our total food needs and 70% of processed food.

They are much higher than expected, says Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre chairman Bruce Wills.

It sounds very high,’ Wills says, adding, ‘The ‘buy Kiwi made’ campaign people should be measuring the impact of this.’The still-high dollar ‘must be playing a big part in those numbers’. And high local labour costs will also be a factor.

‘I would like to see a breakdown of those figures. These may be value-added products that we are importing. We as a farming nation must keep an eye on this and make more effort to make the products ourselves.’

 

 I don’t necessarily agree there is a problem with these numbers, nor that we need to make more effort to process more of our produce here.

While we are very good at producing meat, dairy produce and some fruit, vegetables and grains we can’t grow rice or bananas and a lot of other food that we need.

We also need to consider economics. If we receive more for our products on overseas markets then both producers and the country are better off if we supply international markets rather than the domestic one.

And we must also take production costs into account. At first glance it seems a bit silly to export the raw produce, process it and import the finished product. But if that can be done at a lower cost while meeting food health and safety standards without compromising quality then it makes sense.

I prefer to buy fresh food and local food is usually fresher; I also support local businesses where I can. But as an exporting nation our wealth depends on people in other countries buying our produce and we would be the losers if they start demanding their own local produce rather than ours.


It’s Not What You Say …

25/06/2008

Comments by Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Frank Brenmuhl on the right of  farmers to continue to produce food as an election issue might win support from other farmers but the way he says won’t win friends anywhere else.

Dairy farmers were being held responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that the could do little about without reducing food production, he said.

“This election is about … the right of farmers to continue to produce food for the world and revenue for this nation”.

It may be for the minority who are farmers, but I suspect it’s not for most other people.

He said dairy farmers were being attacked because they are:

* paid the world price for much-needed food;

* seen as privileged for owning dairy farms;

* using water and resources they own to produce food;

* not subsidising the cost of dairy products in NZ supermarkets.

But he questioned how New Zealanders expected to be able to afford to import nearly 60 percent of their food, electronic appliances, vehicles and other consumer goods, if there was no farm produce to sell.

“As a trading nation we have to sell stuff in order to buy stuff,” he said. “What part of this do they not understand?”

Townies should not expect dairy farmers to donate $15 million so that the price of dairy foods sold in NZ can be reduced.

“They want … and they want … but they do not want to pay.” he said.

“Why should farmers have to be better than, more considerate than, more accountable than the rest of New Zealanders?” Mr Brenmuhl said.

“Am I ashamed of success? Not one bit. It is what is desperately needed for New Zealanders to be better off”.

The physical resources that farmers used to produce food did not belong to the Crown, non-government organisations, or to the politicians.

“The land we own is ours for as long as we choose to own it, unless it is stolen by the state,” he said.

 This has already got a negative reaction in a comment on No Minister:

Psycho Milt said…

So for Federated Farmers, this election is about the absolute right of farmers to wreck the environment if there’s increased profit in it for them? And the rest of us don’t get a say in whether our countryside gets turned to shit or not? OK, got that. I’ll be voting Green after all, then.

Of course that isn’t what Feds or Brenmuhl is saying – but the way that he said it provides fuel for those who don’t understand farmers and farmers; and those who believe the green-wash about dirty dairying.

A recent Lincoln University survey  found farming is percieved as contributing more to water pollution than sewage or storm water run-off.

Nearly half the respondents cited farming as one of the main causes of water degradation, followed by sewage and stormwater runoff – the first time those factors had been relegated to second place.

In the previous survey, done in 2004, only about one-quarter of respondents had blamed farming for poor water quality.

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Bruce McNab said many farmers used their streams for household water supplies, so they would not knowingly pollute them.

He said cows were viewed as the enemy of the environment, but noted the increased pressure for food production. The notion that farmers did not care for the environment was not true, he said.

But unfortunately Brenmuhl’s comments only add to the perception that most farmers don’t care for the environment. That perception not only makes it difficult for farmers in New Zealand, it could seriously undermine our reputation in international markets.


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