Rural round-up

21/04/2021

Climate change – proposals impossible for farmers – Brian Fellow:

Unfeasible and unfair” — that pretty much sums up the reaction of pastoral farming sector groups to the Climate Change Commission’s draft plan for reducing agricultural emissions out to 2035.

The latest national greenhouse gas inventory, released this week, tells us that enteric methane — belched out by ruminant animals and much the largest source of emissions from farms — made up 37 per cent of national emissions in 2019. That is too large a share to be left in the too-hard basket.

But the inventory also tells us that the increase in annual enteric methane emissions since 1990 has been only 5.5 per cent, when gross emissions from all sources have risen by 26 per cent over that period. Between 2018 and 2019, enteric methane emissions increased at only one-tenth of the pace of emissions generally.

This suggests they are not the most pressing problem; carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use is. . . 

Call a halt to housing eating away at our food production potential – Feds :

While the Ministry for the Environment Our Land 2021 report identifies some challenges in front of us, it also includes plenty of positives, Federated Farmers says.

“The fact that 49% of New Zealand remains native land cover is something to be proud of, especially as we get ready for the release of the National Policy Statement Indigenous Biodiversity,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Our Land 2021, released today, also notes no decline in soil quality from 1994-2018, “and that’s worth acknowledging given the big jump in food production and value from a declining area in farmland. Farmers rely upon good soils, and we’re positive about soil quality improvements to come through good management practices. Federated Farmers would encourage the Ministry for the Environment to use a more current and wider soil data base to determine current soil health across New Zealand, as the data used in this instance seems too small to give an accurate picture. . .

Family does hard yards to transform station – Sally Rae:

The Pavletich family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Station Peak, on the north bank of the Waitaki River. Rural editor Sally Rae speaks to them about their lengthy tenure on the land — and their plans for the future.

Kieran Pavletich always knew that water was the key to the success of Station Peak.

It was his vision to one day see the flats of the property, on the Hakataramea Highway near the Hakataramea township, green, using the valuable resource of the neighbouring Waitaki River.

He and his wife Julie moved to live on the farm in 1982 and, soon after, 120ha was developed into border-dyke irrigation. Unfortunately, that development coincided with the toughest farming climate since the Depression. . . 

James Cameron explains dairy cattle grazing decision for his Wairarapa farm – Nita Blake-Persen:

Film director James Cameron is defending his decision to graze hundreds of dairy cattle on his farm, despite being an outspoken critic of animal agriculture.

Cameron and his wife, environmentalist Suzy Amis Cameron, own about 1500 hectares of land in South Wairarapa, which they are transforming into an organic vegetable farm.

They are big proponents of plant-based diets and have been outspoken about the need to move away from animal products to improve the environment.

That’s prompted some criticism from Wairarapa locals who say they are not walking the talk when it comes to being “animal-free”, given there are hundreds of cows on the Camerons’ farm. . .

Australian farmers attracting Kiwi workers with relocation packages  – Sally Murphy:

An Australian recruiter hopes the trans-Tasman travel bubble will help fill huge shortages of labour on Australian farms.

In November the Australian Government began offering $2000 for New Zealanders to relocate to help with the shortage of horticulture and agriculture workers.

With the quarantine-free travel bubble open, recruiters across the ditch are now stepping up their advertising campaigns – offering free airfares and good wages.

A farm in Western Australia has put the call out for an air-seeder tractor operator – offering free airfares, accommodation, food and $32.50 an hour. . . 

 

Pig farmers urged to ramp up biosecurity measures as illegal importation of pork increases – Jane McNaughton and Warwick Long:

The pork industry is calling on pig owners to boost their biosecurity measures after African swine fever (ASF) and foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus fragments were again detected in pork products seized at Australia’s international mail centres.

Between November 5, 2018 and December 31, 2020, 42.8 tonnes of pork products were intercepted on air travellers, and 9.4 tonnes intercepted in mail items at the Australian border.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said FMD was considered the biggest animal disease threat to Australia’s agriculture.

“An outbreak of FMD in Australia would lead to the closure of major livestock, beef, lamb, dairy and pork export markets with serious economic and social effects in other sectors, including tourism,” he said. . . 


Rural round-up

19/03/2021

B+LNZ’s reaction to the Government’s intensive winter grazing announcement:

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says it’s encouraging the Government has accepted some of the Southland winter grazing advisory group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) module to farm plans in the coming year, and the delayed implementation of the winter grazing rules.

Minister O’Connor made the point to our Annual Meeting that more time is needed to work through the Southland group’s recommendations and to write robust policy as a result. We welcome this commitment to getting it right and look forward to working with the Government on this process.

“B+LNZ has been an integral part of the industry front-footing action on the ground. Our belief has always been that industry-led, tested and practical solutions achieve better results than arbitrary rules.

“B+LNZ led the development of the IWG module, and this module is already part of the B+LNZ farm plan launched today and which is being rolled out in the coming weeks as part of our commitment to supporting resilient, profitable farming businesses while achieving positive and lasting environmental outcomes. . .

Rural health workers decline Covid-19 vaccine due to ‘hours of travel’ – Rowan Quinn:

Some rural doctors, nurses and frontline health workers are turning down their first chance of getting a Covid vaccine because they would have to take hours out of their busy day to get one..

They fear it is a signal for what is to come for the wider rural community.

Whangamata doctor and Rural GPs Network chair Fiona Bolden said frontline health staff in the Coromandel have had the call up to get their first vaccination.

Some had not been able to take it up because they would have to make a return journey to Hamilton to get it, and do that again for the second dose three weeks later . . .

Pastoral lease reform back to the future? – Catherine Irons, Mike Britton, Allan Brent:

Will the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill achieve its objectives or will it turn the clock back, reviving old tensions

The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill, currently before Parliament, will end the 30-year programme called tenure review. Tenure review allows pastoral leaseholders to separate the land they lease from the Crown into two types: farmland where the farm is owned by them freehold and conservation land held by the Crown.

If the Bill becomes law, remaining pastoral leases will continue but with stronger rules limiting the changes leaseholders might make to their farming methods.

We are members of a newly established non-governmental organisation, the Environmental Law Initiative, and we think this Bill will in fact create greater problems in a climate-changed future. . . .

Saving Dolly – Owen Jennings:

The cow has become a much maligned beast of late.  She makes our rivers unswimmable, puts nitrogen in our drinking water, pugs the ground causing erosion and farts and belches poisonous Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere.  No wonder people don’t want to eat her bountiful products anymore.

Of course, most of that, if not all, is blatantly untrue but it makes for selling copy, keeping well paid academics in their job and the green lobby groups’ coffers filled.

Take the bit about farting and belching.  The story goes that cows emit Methane as they chew their cud.  Methane is a potent Greenhouse Gas.  Greenhouse Gases trap heat in the atmosphere and warm our planet.  The story concludes it is going to get so hot we are all going to die.  Leaves Baldacci and Grisham in the dust.

Now for some balance.  Farms use huge amounts of CO2.  Dr Bradley Case at AUT found farms take in about 90% of the Greenhouse Gas they emit in the woody vegetation and trees alone on the farm. That’s not counting the grass which uses even more CO2 in photosynthesis.  Farms are a net sink. . . 

Native plants can boost crop yields new study shows – Hugo Cameron:

New research shows fruit and vegetable growers can utilise native bush to increase yields and protect plants from pests.

The Plant and Food Research study found having more native plants near crops could attract insects that help with pollination and combat some harmful pests.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries showed insect-pollinated crops such as kiwifruit and avocados were worth about $2 billion to the national economy. . .

Foot and Mouth: hoping that painful lessons have been learnt :

SIR, – Your recent articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 2001 foot-and-mouth (FMD) outbreak brought back some bitter and heartbreaking memories for my family.

We had not been farming for long here and were in the process of building up a pedigree flock of 1000 Lleyn ewes when disaster struck as a result of a single ram being purchased at Longtown on that fateful day, February 22, resulting in the entire flock along with my wife’s cherished, prize-winning flock of Jacobs as well as some rare breeds being culled.

The irony for us was that not only was the ram and our flock never infected with the disease, but the nearest outbreak to us was more than 40 miles away

 


Rural round-up

27/02/2021

Study: Farmers help identify solutions to reduce farm footprint :

New DairyNZ research shows farmers can identify ways to increase efficiency and reduce environmental footprint – but there will be challenges for some.

The Greenhouse Gas Partnership Farms research project worked with farmers to identify and model how their farms might reduce both nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Making these gains will be the first steps as farmers work towards the government’s 2030 climate change targets,” said DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr Bruce Thorrold.

For some farms, the research identified options that offered lower footprint and higher profit. For already highly efficient farms, footprint gains tended to come at a cost to profitability. . .

You can read more about the study here.

Fonterra narrows 2021 earnings guidance:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has lifted the bottom end of its 2021 forecast earnings guidance and narrowed the range to 25-35 cents per share, from 20-35 cents per share.

“That is why we have come out today with narrower forecast earnings range of 25-35 cents per share, which still reflects the usual uncertainties we face over the course of any given year.

“Despite the challenges and flow on effects of COVID-19, the team have remained committed and disciplined. There has been strong demand for the Co-op’s New Zealand milk and we’ve continued to get product to market.” . .

Dairy and meat drive large fall in exports:

The value of total goods exports fell 10 percent in January 2021 from January 2020, to $4.2 billion, led by falls in dairy and meat, Stats NZ said today.

“The fall in exports of $486 million was the largest year-on-year fall in exports since March of 2016,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

The fall in exports was led by a drop in dairy products with milk powder, down $97 million, butter, down $62 million, and whey, down $31 million from January 2020.

“The drop in dairy exports was partly due to a fall in quantity for whey products to one of New Zealand’s top export trading markets, the United States. Exports of dairy were the largest fall for the US in January 2021, specifically exports of whey,” Mr Allen said. . .

Kiwifruit harvest taster day registrations open:

An initiative giving people an insight into working in the kiwifruit industry over harvest is about to kick off.

The initiative – led by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) and funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) – sets its sights on encouraging jobseekers to take up employment in the kiwifruit industry by providing a free harvest taster day for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. It follows NZKGI’s successful winter pruning and summer-work taster programmes in 2020.

NZKGI Education Co-ordinator Di Holloway says the kiwifruit industry needs a workforce of more than 23,000 people from March to July. . . 

NZ challenged to buck trend on climate conservatisml – Marc Daalder:

Lord Deben, chair of the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Committee, says New Zealand has a unique opportunity to lead the world on reducing emissions, Marc Daalder reports

New Zealand’s attempts to treat methane from cows differently from other greenhouse gases puts its international reputation on climate change at risk, but if it can jump that hurdle, the country has the opportunity to help lead the world on emissions reductions, the chairman of the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Committee tells Newsroom.

Lord Deben, formerly a longtime Conservative Party MP and agriculture minister with the given name John Gummer before being made Lord Deben in 2010, spoke to Newsroom as part of a “virtual visit” to New Zealand. He also addressed environment spokespeople from different parties in Parliament and spoke at the National Party’s summit for its environmental wing, the BlueGreens. . . 

WayBeyond offers agriculture industry alternative to Microsoft :

New Zealand Tech innovator WayBeyond is taking on Microsoft’s Power BI and Excel products to give growers an alternative solution for integrating all their business data into one digital platform.

“Historically the technology to manage your data was limited. Growers have gotten used to spreadsheets and other historical tools, however solutions now exist that are specifically created for agriculture and can address some of the biggest pain points – access to real time data and everything in one central view. This is what Data Studio now offers,” says Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Morgan.

“Being agriculture focused means we can have a relationship with our customers supporting them in a way these generic products can’t. We’re offering an easy-to-use option without the need to be a data analyst or spend countless hours pulling information together manually into a spreadsheet.” . .


Rural round-up

18/02/2019

New foot and mouth threat to New Zealand – Annette Scott:

An emergency all-agriculture meeting to discuss tighter border controls is being considered after Australian authorities seized imported meat containing foot and mouth disease and African swine fever.

“There’s some pretty sinister things coming in (to Australia) and with New Zealand tourism following similar patterns this is a real wake up call for the industry and needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness by our own border agencies,” NZ Pork chairman Eric Roy said.

“The discovery of FMD in the latest samples of products found in Australia should be of particular concern for anyone in the livestock sector. . .

Houses, trees swallow up land – Neal Wallace:

The area of land devoted to agricultural production fell by almost a million hectares or 7% in the decade to 2012 and will fall further as new Government policies encourage forest planting.

According to the Ministry for the Environment report, Our Land – Land Use Statistics 2018, most of that decline was caused by tenure review of South Island pastoral leases, subdivision and lifestyle blocks.

But between 1996 and 2012 the main shift in land cover was from exotic grassland and shrubland to exotic forest followed by a 10% increase in New Zealand’s urban area, which reached 230,000ha.

Driven by the population growing from 3.7 million to 4.4m, urban areas in Auckland grew by 4200ha, Waikato 4000ha and Canterbury 3800ha. . .

Life story: Veteran Canterbury stockman John O’Carroll a community hero– Tom Kitchin:

 John O’Carroll​ worked on his farm until his early 90s, and even then he’d never say he had retired.

O’Carroll​ was not only one of the best known stockmen in North Canterbury, he was one of the last surviving World War II veterans in the district and put in years of community volunteer work.

He died on January 15, aged 98. . . 

Molesworth Station: What’s next for our biggest farm? – Pat Deavoll:

The view from the top of Ward Pass is sublime. To the north lie the rolling downs surrounding the Molesworth Station homestead, backed by the drama of the Inland Kaikoura Range. This culminates in the summit of 2885-metre Mount Tapuaenuku.

To the south, the Acheron River stretches into the distance hemmed by arid scree-capped peaks and golden tussock flats. The Acheron Road winds its way across the flats, and far away, the slow crawling dot of a 4WD moves up the gravel road, dwarfed by the landscape that surrounds it.

This landscape belongs to 180,000 hectare Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest farm, leased and farmed by Landcorp and managed by the Department of Conservation on behalf of the Crown. It belongs to all New Zealanders and its fate is up for grabs.  . .

Possum cull planned after cattle catch TB near Dunedin :

Possum control will be carried out near Dunedin next month, after two cattle herds in the Flagstaff area tested positive for Bovine tuberculosis.

Bovine TB can cause weight loss and death in cattle and deer herds.

Possums are the main way the disease is spread, and humans can be at risk if they drink raw milk from an infected cow. . .

No need to panic over Brexit – Alan Barber:

In spite of the fast approaching deadline of 29th March, when the UK is due to leave the EU, not to mention the latest shipment date able to meet that deadline, there may be no need to get too concerned. There is a huge amount of media-inspired speculation about the potentially dire consequences of Prime Minister May’s inability to achieve an improvement of the exit terms leading to a No Deal Brexit, but word from Britain suggests this is highly unlikely. After all, both the EU and the British Parliament have specifically ruled out leaving without a deal.

The most likely short term outcome will be an extension of current membership terms under Article 50 which would give time for legislation to be passed either in the improbable event May succeeds in obtaining a new deal acceptable to her own parliament or further negotiation is required to reach a final agreement. . . 


Rural round-up

31/05/2014

Lower forecast still good – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confident opening forecast of $7 a kilogram of milksolids for the new season has equal upside and downside in volatile times for world prices and the New Zealand dollar, chairman John Wilson says.

Many uncertainties meant the only thing Fonterra could predict was that the 2014-15 season wouldn’t end on $7, he joked.

“The best way we can serve our farmers in the pre-season is by giving the most accurate forecasts.”

The market realities included considerable volatility in world prices, high NZ dollar exchange rates, and potential for big milk production increases in Europe and the United States, he said.

That said, Fonterra surprised market commentators with its opening price because some were picking $6.50 or less. . .

Wool stands up well when the heat goes on – Alan Williams:

People going to see I’m Loving Wool at Auckland’s Britomart as part of Wool Week were shown how wool can’t be set on fire.

Shearer and showman Billy the Sheep Man – also known as Billy Black – set an oxy-acetylene torch to the fabric to show bystanders its inflammability. 

He also showed how easy it was to set fire to a synthetic fabric.

“The blowtorch was really good,” Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) chairman Bay de Lautour said. 

“It showed up wool’s fire-resistant qualities and we need to do more on that to show how safe woollen children’s wear is.” . . .

The reasoning behind my micro dairy business – Milking on the Moove:

In the next 2 months, I’ll begin milking a small herd of 15 cows. I’ll sell the milk direct to the public. I’ll milk my herd on leased lifestyle blocks, using my mobile cowshed.

In my last blog post I outlined 5 points that I wanted to achieve with my new business.

  • Create a truly environmentally sustainable dairy business
  • Create farming opportunities for young people that also provided a great lifestyle
  • Keep control of the value chain
  • Offer real unaltered whole milk to the public
  • Concentrate on building a brand rather than owning land

It’s taken a few years of thinking about the issues and I wanted to briefly outline how I have come to settle on my current system. . .

He has a  quick video of the mobile cowshed.

Overseas experience to boost foot and mouth preparedness:

A team of vets and animal industry representatives are heading to Nepal next week for first-hand experience in dealing with foot and mouth disease (FMD), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This field training is part of a newly signed agreement with Australia to cooperate and work together on preparedness for this disease,” Mr Guy says.

“While both countries are determined that it never enters our borders, we still need to be prepared and work on our readiness and capacity.

“Everyone knows that an outbreak would have major impacts on our valuable livestock industries, disrupting our exports and trading reputation. It would be devastating for farming families, rural businesses and communities. . .

Govt Inquiry into WPC to conclude in November 2014:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today that they have received a letter from the Chair of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, advising that:

“The Inquiry has considered the time that will be needed to report, taking into account the work already undertaken by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Fonterra investigations, the number and nature of the issues arising from the Terms of Reference; the number of participants; volume of material; and the need for fairness to all participants.

Our preliminary advice has been that 6 -9 months would be an appropriate estimate. However, conscious of the need to resolve matters promptly, and in anticipation of full cooperation from all participants, the Inquiry’s present estimate is that it will require until Friday 28 November 2014 (6 months) to present its final report. Participants with whom the Inquiry has consulted have accepted this is a realistic estimate.” . . .

Addressing the big issues at our High Country Conference:

Federated Farmers will be addressing the big issues at their High Country Conference next week in Queenstown.

“We will be talking about what it means to be a ‘Good Neighbour’, and what it means in achieving positive outcomes,” says Chas Todhunter, Federated Farmers High Country Spokesperson.

“We are pleased that we have both sides of the political spectrum speaking, with Eugenie Sage, Green Party spokesperson on the Environment, Conservation, Water and Local Government, and Hon. Jo Goodhew, Associate Primary Industries Minister, both attending. I would expect there will be a lengthy question time from our delegates. . .

New programme set to transform hill country farms:

A new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme focussed on transforming hill country farms is formally underway, after this week’s contract signing between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and industry co-investor Ravensdown.

Announced in principle in June last year, the Pioneering to Precision: Application of Fertiliser in Hill Country PGP programme is a seven-year programme that aims to improve hill country sheep and beef farming productivity and protect the environment through more efficient and more precise use of fertiliser. 

By doing this, the programme will improve the profitability of hill country farming and generate earnings of $120 million per annum by 2030 from additional exports of meat and wool. . .

Dairy Awards Help 7000 Entrants:

About 7000 entries have been received in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, since the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition began 25 years ago.

“It’s a pretty impressive number. When we started to look at the figures and add up those that have entered over the years we were really surprised,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“What is also true is that the number of people involved or touched by the awards is many more times that.”

Mrs Keeping says many of the entries received were from couples and they were supported by farm owners, farm staff and families. Sponsors have also played a significant role in the awards programme with sponsor representatives from throughout the country backing the awards and encouraging clients to participate. . .

50 MPI officers swoop on rock lobster black market:

Fifty Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) compliance officers wrapped up an undercover operation today that targeted recreational fishers catching and selling rock lobster (crayfish) in the South Island.

The operation was focused on activities in the Kaikoura area but also included the Christchurch and Marlborough/Nelson areas.

It is illegal to sell your recreational fishing catch with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine. . . .


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