Rural round-up

09/09/2019

Accord improves water quality – Hugh Stringleman:

The country’s dairy farmers have made significant achievements in water quality over five years of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, DairyNZ says.

Over 98% of eligible waterways have been fenced to exclude cattle, a total of more than 24,000km of measured waterways.

Almost all, 99.8%, of 36,000 regular livestock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts.

Some 94% of the Accord’s 11,079 dairy farms, or 10,396 farms, had nutrient budgets in the 2017-18 season and just over half of farms with waterways have riparian management plans. . . 

MVM seeks investors as cashflow issues draw near– Brent Melville:

Infant formula producer Mataura Valley Milk (MVM) can pay its bills for about another month.

The Chinese-owned infant formula producer, which moved into production scarcely a year ago and recently began work on a $5million expansion to its McNab plant near Gore, needs an additional $12million in funding to cover expected production and operational costs for the next nine months.

At its current rate of expenditure, the company directors say it will exhaust its existing bank facilities during September.

In an assurance to company directors, creditors and staff, MVM’s financial statements for its first full reporting period to end December 2018, note that it has a letter of financial support from main shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG), valid for a period of 13 months from May 27, 2019. . . 

Seoul restaurant orders NZ goat– Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago goat meat will be on the menu at a new New Zealand-themed restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, next month, and more chevon suppliers are needed to meet expected future demand if franchise plans take off.

The yet to be named restaurant, is part of the Shilla Hotel business, and will be open at the end of October, with the launch to be televised.

In addition to New Zealand goat meat, it will offer beef and lamb as well as wine, initially from Shaky Bridge and Clyde Village vineyards.

New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd, which was recently launched by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra, has been contracted to supply the new restaurant with goat meat. . . 

Forest and Bird calls for Government funding to eradicate wallaby ‘plague’ – Giles Dexter:

It turns out possums aren’t the only Australian invaders posing a major threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem.

The wallaby population is reaching plague levels in some regions, and if nothing is done, the marsupials could cost the country $84 million a year in economic losses.

“In Australia, they’re native. There, it’s a completely different thing. They’re supposed to be there, they’re not supposed to be in New Zealand,” says Forest and Bird’s central North Island regional manager Dr Rebecca Stirnemann. . . 

New owners but training role remains

In a win-win for the Rangitikei farming community and farm-based training, Otiwhiti Station is staying in local hands.

The property was put on the market in June and there were fears its sale could lead to the closure of its training school, which has been operating since 2007.

But it is business as usual for the 1679ha station near Hunterville after a group of local farmers and business people got together and bought the property for an undisclosed price.

The group’s was one of four tenders received for the property. . . 

Northland school’s lambe creche a great learning opportunity – Susan Botting:

Maungatapere School families are getting lambs from as far away as South Auckland for this year’s Ag Day due to a national shortage.

Lambs are typically sourced locally but this year are coming from as far afield as South Auckland, more than 185km away.

Increased demand for lambs because of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, fewer lambs produced than in previous years and later-than-usual lambing are among reasons for the shortage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/10/2018
Government blamed for pessimism – Neal Wallace:

Growing pessimism among dairy farmers has sent confidence plunging into negative territory for the first time since early 2016. The quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey of 450 farmers reveals confidence in the agricultural economy has fallen from plus 2% in June to minus 3% in September.

Those expecting an improvement in the next 12 months fell from 26% to 20% while those expecting conditions to worsen rose slightly from 23% to 24%. . .

Farmer group aims at land best practice  – Simon Hartley:

A farmer-led initiative covering six Aparima catchments in Southland is looking at ways to improve land management practices to benefit the environment and local communities.

The Aparima Community Engagement (ACE) project, which represents six local catchment groups, has been under way since March this year, and a fortnight ago briefed Environment Minister David Parker on its aims during his visit to the area.

The type of issues being tackled includes identifying best practice around the likes of buffer zones for wintering, and the use of crops and fertiliser. . . 

McDonald’s lauds Maori beef farm  – Hugh Stringleman:

Hapū-owned Whangara Farms, on the East Coast north of Gisborne, has been accredited to the McDonald’s Flagship Farmers programme, the first such appointment in the Southern Hemisphere. Under general manager Richard Scholefield for the past 12 years, the 8500ha group has become the 28th Flagship Farmer for the worldwide restaurant chain and the seventh beef supplier. . .

Hunting lobby wins concessions over tahr cull  – Kate Gudsell, Eric Fryberg:

The powerful hunting lobby has won concessions in the heated fight over the cull of thousands of Himalayan Tahr.

A meeting was held yesterday between Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and hunting groups including the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the Game Animal Council as well as conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, and iwi Ngāi Tahu with the hunting industry emerging confident at the outcome.

The hunting fraternity say Ms Sage has pulled back from positions which the industry had found unacceptable and forced her to re-think plans to cull 10,000 Himalayan Tahr from the Southern Alps.  . .

Seeka warns of possible PSA outbreak in Victorian orchard – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, says it may have found the fruit disease PSA in an orchard it is developing in Australia.

It has notified Agriculture Victoria of unusual bacterial symptoms and is removing suspicious plant material pending further test results. . .

Pāmu releases first Integrated Report – returns to paying a dividend

Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (Landcorp) has released its first truly integrated Annual Report for 2018 today.

Chief Financial Officer Steve McJorrow said the 2018 EBITDAR[1] of $48.5 million, announced on 31 August, was very pleasing, and reflected good milk and red meat returns, along with revaluation of carbon holdings (NZUs).

“We are also pleased to be back to paying our shareholders a dividend, which will be $5 million for the 2017/18 financial year. . .

Dairy Hub farm reserach to be revealed at field day:  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kale versus fodder beet, phosphorous supplementation and buffer widths will be the focus of the Southern dairy hub’s next field day at Makarewa on October 10.

DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said they would be updating those attending about the early results of the studies being carried out on site.

Farm manager Shane Griffin will be talking about the hub farm’s progress and Dr Ross Monaghan, of AgResearch, will discuss results of the nitrogen leaching study.

Dairy apprenticeship programme celebrates first birthday:

Federated Farmers is wishing happy birthday today to the Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy Programme on its first anniversary.

The pilot programme supported by MBIE, the PrimaryITO and Feds, was launched last year with the intention of finding more Kiwis keen to work in the dairy industry on farm, and keen to upskill into a farming career.

After almost a year Feds is proud to say we’ve had 193 employer expressions of interest, and 98 completed farm charters, enabling employers to enter the programme along with 180 eligible apprentice expressions of interest and 62 apprentices in the programme. . .

 

Bird of the Year

09/10/2017

Voting has opened in Forest and Birds’ Bird of the Year competition:

What many people don’t know is that most of New Zealand’s unique native birds are in trouble. A third are at risk of becoming extinct if nothing is done to protect them. Their habitats have been destroyed and introduced mammalian predators such as stoats, possums, and rats kill their eggs, young, birds, and even adults.

Lend your voice to help New Zealand birds by supporting Bird of the Year – with your vote, your voice, or a donation.

Voting closes on Monday 23 October at 5pm.

The winning bird will be announced on RNZ’s morning report on Tuesday 24 October at 9am. . . 

The current leader is the kererū (wood pigeon) with 200 votes.


Court case win for birds

05/08/2017

Environment Minister Nick Smith says the High Court ruling confirming the legality of national pest control regulations is a significant win for the survival of New Zealand’s native birds:

“The science is clear that the only way birds like kiwi, kokako, kea and kaka will survive is to effectively control pests like stoats, rats and possums that have decimated their populations. We need to appreciate that 25 million native birds are killed each year by these predators, and get serious about controlling them,” Dr Smith says.

The High Court decision was in response to a legal challenge by the Brook Valley Community Group in Nelson to the pest control operation planned this winter by the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary, and to the legality of the national regulations introduced by Dr Smith as Environment Minister earlier this year.

“This is a huge win for the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust. They have toiled for 15 years, raising more than $5 million and spending thousands of hours volunteering to realise their vision of providing a safe haven for our native birds. It is a tribute to their determination and detailed work that the High Court has concluded their plan is consistent with the demanding requirements of the Resource Management Act for the protection of the environment and public health.

“This High Court decision is a significant win for conservation nationally. I acknowledge the support in the proceedings of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and the advocacy for the national regulations by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. It confirms that New Zealanders can have a high degree of confidence in the safeguards on the use of poisons like 1080 and brodifacoum, and the evidence on which their use is based.

“My hope is that the Brook Valley Community Group, having had a fair hearing in the High Court and having put the Sanctuary Trust, taxpayers and the ratepayers of Nelson to considerable expense, will accept the decision and enable the pest control operation to proceed as planned.

“This issue fundamentally comes down to a choice between whether we want stoats, rats and possums or kiwi, kaka and tui in Nelson’s backyard. We need to back the Sanctuary Trust and its vision for this nationally significant haven for New Zealand’s iconic birds.”

Trapping and shooting pests can be effective in some places and all of us can help with that.

Where that’s impractical, it’s a choice between poisons like 1080 or allowing pests to eat native birds and, in the case of possums, destroy bush.

 


NZ predator free by 2050

26/07/2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”

 

Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.


Rural round-up

21/07/2015

Farmers And Forest & Bird Unite to Explain 1080 Facts:

The Pest Control Education Trust, a joint Federated Farmers and Forest & Bird initiative, today released ‘1080: The Facts’, a resource created to increase public understanding of 1080 and how it is used.

The fact sheet is an illustrated, easy-to-read rundown on which predators are targeted by 1080 and the native species that benefit from its use, and how using 1080 prevents the spread of bovine tuberculosis. It also outlines the precautions taken to ensure 1080 operations are safe.

Federated Farmers National Board Member and a Trustee of the Pest Control Education Trust (PCET) Chris Allen says the fact sheet has been produced in response to strong public demand for accessible, factual, summary information about 1080 and its use. . .

Open Country dairy slashes milk price forecast – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand’s second biggest milk processor Open Country Dairy has slashed its milk payout forecast by more than $1kg for the season as industry pessimism deepens about the multi-billion dollar dairy sector’s earnings outlook.

Open Country had until last week been forecasting a milk payment of $4.75-4.95kg milksolids to its around 700 national supplier farmers. 

Now it has told its farmers to instead bank on $3.65-$3.95kg. . .  

Partnership Helps to Set New Zealand Beef Apart From the Competition:

A partnership between Beef + Lamb New Zealand and a restaurant chain in Taiwan is helping to open consumers’ eyes to the nutritional benefits of grass-fed New Zealand beef.

New Zealand product makes up more than 80 per cent of the beef dishes offered on Royal Host’s menu.

The chain has 14 locations across Taiwan and caters for family dining in particular. Vice President Shirley Huang says local diners put a premium on safe, quality food, so Royal Host values that New Zealand beef is such a positive option. “In our menus, we include images of cows grazing peacefully on open pasture. New Zealand grass-fed beef is low in fat and has lower cholesterol.” . .

 

A2 shares fall as investors weigh up funding needs – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co shares fell to a three-week low as investors weighed up the company’s funding needs after the board turned down a potential offer from cornerstone shareholder Freedom Foods Group and US food and beverage firm Dean Foods.

The shares fell as low as 70 cents in morning trading on the NZX, and were 6.5 percent to 72 cents shortly before midday. A2 today said it told Freedom and Dean Foods the expression of interest wasn’t compelling enough to get a board recommendation if a formal bid was made, though was open to talking with the suitors. It has also attracted other potential bidders and is evaluating them. . .

Major Revamp of Dairy Awards:

The most significant changes in the history of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards have been made to enhance the competitions and enable more dairy farm workers to enter the awards programme.

Awards Executive Chairman Gavin Roden says he is excited about the changes that have been made to all three of the awards competitions.

“As an executive we had identified for a few years that there were a lot of people that couldn’t enter our awards because of the changing face of the industry and employment,” Mr Roden says. . .

Worker participation key to future safety:

After months of industry consultation, the forest industry has a new safety body – the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC). Most importantly, there has been practical input from experienced forest contractors from on the forest floor and workers with experience at the bushline.

Some simple questions and answers may help explain how FISC will work:

Q: Who decided forestry needs a safety council?

A: The independent forest safety review team was not satisfied that people on the forest floor had a voice in making workplaces safer. Following the review and its recommendations, FICA has worked with forest owners and managers to put in place this new group. It will focus on safety using incident information reported by people working at the bushline to identify work areas. . .

 

Farmers get online survey option:

Farmers are for the first time this month completing their annual Agricultural Production Survey online.

Every year Statistics New Zealand surveys about 30,000 farmers about their land, livestock and crops, and farming practices.

This week farmers can start filling in their online survey forms, once they’ve received details in the post.

The survey measures changes in the sector, and is used for planning and forecasting. Farmers can use survey results on the Statistics NZ website to keep track of trends and make changes in their businesses. . .

 

Ballance appoints General Manager Sales:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has appointed Campbell Parker as General Manager Sales.

Campbell will join the co-operative in October, following a successful banking career, including leadership of BNZ’s Partners Network and a track record in rural lending.

Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says Campbell combines sales leadership experience with a strong understanding and connection with the agri-business sector. . .

Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2015 announced:

Congratulations to Mike Winter from Amisfield who has just become the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2015 and now goes through to the National Final. After a challenging day of activities on Friday at the Central Otago Polytechnic, the contestants’ final task was to deliver a speech at the Annual Winemakers Feraud dinner on Saturday night at Northburn.

It was a very close competition with Annabel Bulk taking 2nd place and Cliff Wickham coming 3rd, both from Felton Road Vineyard. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

12/01/2015

Time for tough calls – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury farmers expect their region to be declared a drought zone before the end of the month, unless rain falls.

Dairy farmer Brent Isbister predicts milk production on his farm will be back at least 15% for the season going on the way his business is tracking with the emerging drought.

Before December his 1150-cow herd was producing 3% ahead of last year but with water restrictions since mid-December, milk flow was now 20% down. . .

Stock cut back as drought looms – Tim Cronshaw:

North Canterbury farmers in dry hotspots are two to three weeks away from a drought.

Farmers are calling the dry run typical for North Canterbury after easier summers lately and a return to the summers of their youth.

They are feeding stock extra supplies and have de-stocked ewes from properties and sold lambs to the store market which they might normally finish themselves to get better prices.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Lynda Murchison said farmers around their sheep and beef property in Weka Pass were dry and would go into drought without rain in the next few weeks. . .

Milk collection up; dry fears – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra’s New Zealand collection is 4% higher for the season to date but the dairy co-operative issued a warning about the effect dry conditions were having on the east coast of the South Island.

Farmers would be watching closely as irrigation restrictions might be put in place.

Fonterra released statistics for the seven months to December and said the collection rate was 3% higher in December than in the previous corresponding period, as well as being 4% higher for the seven months. . .

Meat goes same way as oil – Dene Mackenzie:

The ASB Commodity Price Index started the year with a fall in all denominations, mainly due to the dipping sheep/beef index.

The 2.7% fall in US dollar terms in the sheep/beef index was largely shared by beef (price down 3.4%) and lamb (down 2.7%).

Dairy prices were flat before the 3.6% overall rise in the GlobalDairyTrade auction. ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said the year started with commodity markets very much in the headlines. . .

Clearing pests would bring range of benefits:

Forest and Bird says clearing pests from New Zealand would have significant economic benefits for the country’s primary production and public health.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust aims to clear New Zealand of rats, stoats and possums in just a few decades by concentrating research on new removal techniques such as introducing infertile males.

Forest and Bird spokesperson Kevin Hackwell said vertebrate pests cost the primary production sector about $3 billion a year. . .

* * * * *

Farmers take great pride and great care for their animals. The animals come first, before the farmer and their families. No matter what the weather, the farmer is out there taking care of their livestock. Farmers work 365 days a year. No snow days. No holidays.</p> <p>#Farm365 #agproud #agmorethanever #thankafarmer #FarmVoices


Bird of the year voting opens

30/09/2013

Forest and Bird has opened voting for its annual bird of the year poll.

It aims to raise the profile of our native birds and also provides good publicity for the organisation.

 


Endangered species

14/08/2013

Forest and Bird does a lot of good work to protect endangered species.

They also have a propensity for protesting against development.

Some West Coasters have had enough of that in their patch.

A group travelled to Wellington to protest against F&B’s continued opposition to Bathurst’s Denniston Mine.

One hoarding read: Westcoasters endangered by Forest and Bird.

This might not be the only opposition F&B faces.

Go West Coast is investigating legal avenues for opposing the opposers.

Chairman Brent Oldham said that the four and a half year resource consent process has obviously cost Bathurst considerable time and expense. GWC is concerned that the longer final approval takes, the more financial and time pressure is being placed on Bathurst – and he wonders just how much more they can take.

“If, at the end of this, Bathurst walk away from this project and cite on-going vexatious litigation from Forest and Bird as being the primary reason for this, then we believe Forest and Bird need to be held accountable. To this end, we are investigating whether a group claim could be initiated.

As part of their access arrangement to the Denniston Plateau, Bathurst Resources has committed to pay $22m to the Department of Conservation to be used on predator and pest controls in the Kahurangi National Park. It seems incredible to us that Forest and Bird seem prepared to risk the single biggest investment  by a private company to the Kahurangi National Park in return for the use of 106 hectares of 2,400 hectare Denniston Plateau that will otherwise, in all likelihood, never have a cent spent on it.

Forest and Bird’s constitution lists advocation of the destruction of introduced species harmful to New Zealand’s flora and fauna as a primary objective, yet their continuing appeals, in this instance, could be shown to contradict this objective.” . . .

The economy and social fabric of the West Coast will be boosted if the mine goes ahead.

The environmental impact will be mitigated.

The jobs and downstream work the mine would bring, the social impact of that, and $22m of pest and predator control seems very good compensation for disturbing a very small area albeit one with conservation value.

 


Coast to show support for mine

10/08/2013

It is usually easier to get people motivated to oppose development than to support it.

But Environment West Coast was set up as a pro-mining lobby group and it plans to show their support for the Denniston mine in Westport today.

The news that the Environment Court has indicated their intention to issue final consent to Bathurst Resources to mine the old Escarpment workings at Denniston has been greeted with a sense of relief and a mood of celebration on the West Coast today.

Mindful that every-time a decision goes in favour of Bathurst, a flood of protests and legal challenges seem to erupt from the like of the Green Party and Forest and Bird, the relief is tempered with the thought “what are the opponents going to say or do next”.

Last month a Forest and Bird spokesperson said that “most West Coasters don’t support mining”.

Tomorrow, the people of Westport intend to disprove this by decorating the main street in Buller colours (red and blue) and displaying signs of support for Bathurst.


No substitute for 1080 in some areas

18/07/2013

Environment commissioner Jan Wright advocated for wider use of 1080 two years ago and is disappointed there’s been so little action since then.

. . . Dr Wright says time is running out for native species on the mainland.

“There are three predators that are inflicting enormous damage on our native birds and plants – possums, rats, and stoats. The only way we can control them over large areas is to use 1080. We are lucky to have it.

“When I released my report two years ago I called for greater use of 1080 because I was extremely concerned about the future of kiwi and other native birds.

“Currently the Department of Conservation is spending more on research into 1080 and its alternatives than it is on actually using it.

“While I’m happy this research is being done, I would like to see more money being spent on frontline pest control.

“While I am heartened by the public support for a pest-free New Zealand there is no way that it could currently be achieved without 1080. I will continue to recommend its use is increased. “

Dr Wright’s report is here, her update is here.

Forest and Bird agree with her.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the PCE’s latest report reinforces Forest & Bird’s stance that 1080 remains the most cost effective way of controlling the three “key pests of possums, rats and stoats” over large areas.

“Pests are decimating our native forests and killing an estimated 25 million birds a year, pushing some of them towards extinction. We need to get on top of the pest situation if we want to reverse the decline of our native wildlife.

“We fully agree with the Commissioner in that aerial 1080 drops over large areas are the best way to do that,” he says.

“Other methods of pest control, like trapping and ground-based poison operations, are expensive, time-consuming, cover small areas, and often fail to get into the heart of the back country where it’s most needed. Aerial 1080 drops, at this stage, offer the most cost-effective way to tackle New Zealand’s pest problem,” Kevin Hackwell says.

Forest & Bird is disappointed that the Department of Conservation has not acted on the PCE’s key recommendation from the initial 2011 report to increase the use of aerial 1080 operations.

“DOC should move resources from the less effective ground-based control to the more effective use of aerial 1080. There’s no need for any more delay, we should be acting on the PCE’s recommendations now,” Kevin Hackwell says.

It is impossible to safeguard native birds when 1080 is dropped and it can kill them. But populations recover very quickly when their predators are killed.

Trapping and hunting animal pests works well in some places.

But in many areas 1080 is the best way to kill the pests which destroy native flora and pray on the fauna.

Some of these pests also carry TB which can spread to farm animals and people.


Rural round-up

10/01/2013

SC man leader at global grain giant – Gerald Piddock:

Forging a career at a desk of the largest privately owned corporation in the United States instead of behind the farmgate is a choice Maurice Hurst has never lamented.

The South Canterbury-born Lincoln graduate oversees the North American grain and oil seed export division for Cargill Incorporated, a company that reported a $1.17 billion in earnings in the 2012 fiscal year ended May 31, 2012.

It is responsible for 25 per cent of all United States grain exports, employing 150,000 people in 66 countries. It has a presence in New Zealand through its Australian arm. . .

Scheme conserves landowner freedom – Richard Rennie:

Minutes from Tauranga, Te Puna farmer Colin Merrin not only farms on the city’s doorstep but also reclaims flora and fauna, aided by a farmer-friendly conservation scheme.

His 240ha property is perched on high hill country north of Tauranga. Rolling back towards the Kaimai Range, it has been identified as a link in a valuable natural corridor between the Bay of Plenty coast, across the range to the Waihou River catchment in Waikato.

The Forest and Bird Kaimai Connection programme aims to integrate this corridor’s biodiversity protection and enhancement alongside private landowners committed to preserving native bush and wildlife in the area. . .

Sentencing should warn of Gisborne rustlers: 

After Police and farmers worked together to bust a major East Coast stock rustling ring last year, Federated Farmers is warning rustlers to find a different line of work in 2013.

“Late last year, two people were convicted of rustling 160 sheep but realistically, that was possibly the tip of an iceberg,” says Hamish Cave, spokesperson for Federated Farmers Gisborne-Wairoa.

“This ring was busted because farmers saw suspicious activity, took down details and called the Police. . .

Farmers asked to fund wool promotion – Tim Fulton:

Members of the global Campaign for Wool are prodding New Zealand to firm up its contribution, just as talk surfaces again of farmers being asked to directly fund wool promotion. Tim Fulton reports.

New Zealand’s representative for the Campaign for Wool, Stephen Fookes, says some of the partners feel this country isn’t getting the best value from its involvement.

While NZ is doing its bit to create awareness of wool, particularly strong fibre, it is not actually showcasing what it produces, he says. . .

New man heads Ravensdown – Ali Tocker:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown has a new chief executive, former Ngai Tahu Holdings head Greg Campbell.

Chairman of the Australasian farmer-owned co-operative, Bill McLeod, said Campbell brought significant international experience as a chief executive, and company director experience including with PGG Wrightson.

Campbell, who was chief executive at Ngai Tahu, replaces long-serving Ravensdown chief executive Rodney Green. . .

RECORDS TUMBLE IN 2013 DAIRY AWARDS:

The 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be the biggest and best yet, with a record 566 entries received, up from the previous best of 525.

“We are just so rapt with the response and at the level of competition that will take place to determine the winners,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

A total of 144 entries were received in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition, 171 entrants will compete for the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title and 251 entries were received in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year contest. . .


Are they reading the same report?

28/11/2012

Parliamentary Commissioenr for the Environment Jan Wright,  says that fracking can be done safely if well managed but raises concerns about the rules and safeguards surrounding the practice New Zealand.

“During the course of this investigation I have come to a similar conclusion to the Royal Society which is that fracking is safe if it is properly regulated and managed.

“However I have significant concerns about how fragmented and complicated the regulatory environment for fracking is and about how these rules are being applied.

“If fracking is not done well it can have significant environmental impacts including polluting water and triggering earthquakes.

“I am also concerned that regulation may be too light-handed, particularly if fracking opens the door to a large-scale and widespread oil and gas boom with a lot of different companies involved.

“These concerns form the basis of the next stage of my investigation into fracking which I hope to conclude before the middle of next year.”

That seems reasoned and reasonable but the responses make me wonder if people are reading the same report.

An alliance of 16 environmental groups, hapu and businesses have signed onto a joint statement, demanding a nationwide ban or moratorium on fracking.

The Environmental Defence Society says the report isn’t green light for fracking but is a timely wake-up call for early reform of fracking consenting and monitoring.

“This report reveals the complexities of fracking, the reliance on high quality environmental management to prevent pollution and the gaps in the present regulatory settings,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor. . .

Forest and Bird backs the commissioner’s caution:

Forest & Bird is urging the authorities to adopt a precautionary approach to fracking because much more needs to be known about its environmental impacts and how New Zealand should regulate the practice before approval for more fracking operations can be considered. . .

Straterra, the representative group for the minerals and mining industry, says Dr Wright has provided a much-needed common-sense approach to the debate:

“The minerals and mining sector – like all other industries – fully embraces the need to look after New Zealand water resources and our environment. Examples of fracking so far in New Zealand provide a pretty good track record of having done that.

“The industry deserves to be given the opportunity to submit on work carried out in New Zealand to show how they are protecting New Zealand’s environment as part of their everyday activities, and that is what the Commissioner is allowing to happen,” Mr Baker says.

“It is important that fracking, like any resource sector activity that impacts on the environment, is carried out to a high standard, and that we have good regulations in place for that activity. That said, fracking and new technologies have made a major positive impact on the availability and cost of energy elsewhere in the world.

“Economically, New Zealand can ill afford to turn its back on the opportunities fracking offers in energy security and increased wealth,” Mr Baker says. . .

Todd Energy also welcomes the report:

Todd Energy notes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) high level conclusion that the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively provided operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

Todd Energy Chief Executive Paul Moore said the company welcomes the Commissioner’s report. “We would like to assure the public that Todd’s hydraulic fracturing operations are effectively designed and executed. . .

Federated Farmers says:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) hydraulic fracturing investigation could reduce unease over the technique.

“Federated Farmers has kept an eye on the PCE investigation given land-based minerals exploration can often occur on or near to farmland,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers energy spokesperson.

“From what I have seen in the PCE’s interim report, she has taken a considered look at fracking. While hydraulic fracturing has been used in New Zealand since 1989, controversy has really only ignited over the past two years, if you excuse the pun.

“From agriculture’s perspective, we are most interested in land access issues and compensation. As well as what risks the technique may pose to ground and surface water.

“The PCE found the distance between where fracking occurs and aquifers can be as much as one to two kilometres. There are shallower fracks and I guess this underscores why the PCE recommends a watching brief.

“The PCE however believes that while contamination of ground or surface water is possible, the probability “is very unlikely”.

“After reading the PCE’s report, I can say that Federated Farmers feels more comfortable with the technique.

“The PCE stresses we frack well in New Zealand but describes regulation and oversight as “labyrinthine“. Clearly, there is a role for Government to ensure regulations are fit for purpose.

“Mining and minerals are important contributors to the economy and employment. Along with agriculture and utilities, mining is one of the few areas where we outperform Australia in terms of productivity,” Mr Crofoot concluded.

Caution and further investigation to ensure that best practice is required and adhered to is sensible.

But the report is clear there is not a case for a moratorium, although that hasn’t stopped those of a dark green and far left persuasion calling for one.


Pukeko Bird of Year

26/11/2011

The Pukeko has won Forest and Bird’s title of Bird of the Year.

It won 1480 votes in what ended up as a two-bird race with the kakapo, which gained 1068 votes.

Forest & Bird’s Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the pukeko is one of the best ambassadors for our wetlands.

“These swamp hens love feeding on the grubs and plants that can be found in our wetlands,” says Kevin Hackwell. . .

The pukeko is thought to have landed on our shores around a thousand years ago from Australia.

Broadcaster Damian Christie – a long-time pukeko supporter and former pukeko campaign manager – says it is a pioneering success story.

“It’s an immigrant that set off at great personal risk and without the aid of modern navigational devices to build a home here in Aotearoa. And it didn’t just survive, it thrived. I like to think there’s a little bit of pukeko in all of us.”

The emperor penguin – not traditionally seen as a New Zealand native but boosted by Happy Feet’s surprise visit earlier this year – polled 12th. . .

This is the seventh year Forest & Bird has run the popularity contest. Past winners include the tui, fantail, grey warbler, the kakapo, the kiwi and last year’s victor was the kakariki.

This year’s results were:

1. Pukeko (1480)

2. Kakapo  (1068)

3. Hihi (756)

4. Kaka (562)

5. Tui (319)

6. Saddleback (304)

7. Ruru (Morepork) 291

8. Kea (209 )

9. Kokako (188)

10. Fantail (177)


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