Playing for the payer

September 18, 2019

What’s the value of dairying to the economy? It depends who you ask:

The recent NZIER report trivialises the significant role the dairy sector plays in New Zealand’s economy – and fails to look at the specifics of the Government’s freshwater package, according to DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the report, commissioned by Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace, is less an economic report and more a high-level commentary on the dairy sector’s role in the economy – and paints an inaccurate picture.

“This is yet another case of environmental lobbyists targeting dairy farmers – who are people trying to do the right thing by the environment and who are actively working to make changes on-farm to protect it,” said Dr Mackle. “By singling out dairy farmers, they are ignoring other contributors to water quality and, therefore, are limiting our ability to actually fix the problems where they exist.

“The NZIER report trivialised dairy’s role in the economy – 3 percent of GDP equates to 28 percent of merchandise exports and one-fifth of goods and services exports coming from the dairy sector.

“The NZIER report does not analyse the economic benefits of dairy to regional communities – which is a critical aspect of dairy farming’s contribution to NZ Inc. Dairying is the engine of the regions, in terms of income and jobs. For example, it is the top income earner in Waikato, West Coast and Southland.

“Yesterday we saw the latest MPI Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report which showed dairy makes up $18.1b of $46.4b exports to June 2019. Dairy exports were up $1.47b last year – this has flow-on effects to our communities, where we employ 46,000 people on and off-farm.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) recently completed an advisory report on the Essential Freshwater Package that showed that national limits for nitrogen and phosphorus would potentially impose very large costs on agriculture.

“In that report, it referred to a Waikato modelling study which found that land-use change was required to achieve the nitrogen and phosphorus limits proposed – with changes resulting in a dairy revenue loss of $140m per year,” said Dr Mackle

The LGNZ report showed that these goals require an enormous amount of land use change to take place, with many farms becoming uneconomic and communities being impacted negatively due to rural depopulation and a loss of annual income.

“Modelling for Southland showed that achieving a 9 percent reduction in nitrogen loss would reduce dairy profits by $17m a year,” said Dr Mackle.

“In terms of innovation, dairy farmers are an extremely innovative sector but the reality is that all land users play a role in water quality and more than innovation is required – it also needs broadscale adoption by all land users.

“As a sector, we are solutions-focused – and have been for years, and our farmers have been voluntarily working to look after their land and waterways. Our Water Accord shows a range of great progress, including fencing 98% of significant dairy waterways and stock crossing points or culverts for almost all waterways nationwide.

“We all acknowledge there is more work to be done – but we need to work together and recognise when good work is happening and allow time for change to occur.”

NZIER produced a report that played the tune the payers – Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace – wanted.

In doing so it seriously undervalued the economic importance of dairying in and to New Zealand and seriously underestimated the devastating impact the freshwater proposals would have on rural communities and the country.


Some animals more equal

January 9, 2019

Forest and Bird  says the SPCA’s call for a ban on 1080 is naive:

Forest & Bird says the SPCA’s statement calling for 1080 to be banned shows a naïve failure to understand how nature works in the wild, and they will be seeking a meeting with the organisation to discuss its position.

Forest & Bird CE Kevin Hague says “The SPCA’s statement on the use of 1080 is seriously misinformed, and contains errors of both fact and logic.

Their position reflects their history of caring for domesticated animals such as cats and dogs, without understanding the needs of New Zealand’s native animals and ecosystems.

The SPCA is generally respected for its care of domestic and farm animals.  Extending its concern to pests which carry disease, and torture and kill native birds puts its reputation at risk.

It’s not hard to get public support for an organisation that promotes the wellbeing of cats, dogs, sheep and cattle. It would be very easy to lose support by giving rats, stoats and possums equal status with native birds.

“While the idea of stoats and rats peacefully coexisting with native birds sounds great, the reality is that an estimated 25 million native birds, eggs, and chicks are cruelly eaten alive by introduced predators every year in New Zealand.

“This is the terrible death that countless native animals across New Zealand suffer every night.

“The SPCA’s position on 1080 is a blow to their credibility. It’s sad to see them promoting flawed logic whose outcome is the extinction through being eaten alive of treasured animals like our kiwi, kereru, and kokako.

“Without scientific, ethical, and precision pest control, of which 1080 is a key tool, there is no way to protect our native animals from the overwhelming numbers of introduced predators. Giving up 1080 would lead to an ecocide of huge proportions in New Zealand, and the SPCA need to understand this is the outcome of their pest control position.”

The SPCA might think all animals are equal but when it comes to conservation, some are more equal than others.

Rats, stoats and possums are introduced species which carry diseases that can infect people, farm and domestic animals, and they are not endangered. They prey on native species which are.

No-one says 1080 is perfect but experts including the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Environmental Protection Authority and the Department of Conservation say it is the best option available to protect  native species when trapping and shooting aren’t possible.

Attempting to put pests on equal footing with endangered natives is not only denting the SPAC’s credibility, it’s costing it support.


1080 or death to natives

September 12, 2018

Doc, Federated Farmers, Ospri, Royal Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ are countering the emotion against 1080 with facts:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is fully committed to the use of 1080 to protect our forests and native wildlife in the face of the current campaign of misinformation and is joined by other agencies in standing up for the use of this pesticide.

New Zealand’s native wildlife is in crisis. The flocks of native birds that used to fill our forests have been killed and replaced by vast populations of rats, possums, stoats and other introduced predators. This is not the future most New Zealanders want.

These animals also carry diseases which pose a danger to people, pets and farm animals.

DOC, OSPRI (TBfree NZ), Federated Farmers, Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ all agree that 1080 is an effective, safe and valuable tool in the fight to protect New Zealand’s forests and native birds, bats, insects and lizards.

The agencies above, along with community groups and volunteers, invest huge amounts of time and effort to protect out native taonga from predation. There are multiple tools and technologies used to control predators of which 1080 is one. 1080 is a highly effective toxin and a necessary tool to help protect our native species.

We use a range of methods including the latest self-setting traps and there is significant research being undertaken into pest control technologies. However, Forest and Bird volunteer trappers agree they could never cover the vast and inaccessible areas that aerial 1080 operations can. Biodegradable aerial 1080 is the most effective tool we have for suppressing rats, possums and stoats in one operation over large, difficult to access wilderness areas—where most of our native wildlife lives.

Huge areas of native bush is inaccessible by foot and the only way currently available to kill pests where trapping is impossible is 1080.

Scientific and technological advances, including genetic modification, might provide alternatives in the future but there are no viable alternatives now.

These organisations use or advocate for 1080 because it is backed by years of rigorous testing, review and research by scientists from Landcare Research, Universities, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ministry of Health and the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In 2011, the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright wrote a comprehensive report on 1080 and the current Parliamentary Commissioner, Dr Simon Upton, stands by Dr Wright’s analysis and recommendations.

The results are clear that where 1080 is used, our birds and native wildlife start to flourish.

We understand that some New Zealanders have genuine concerns and fears about 1080 in relation to the environment, water, animal welfare and wild food sources. We urge them to seek out www.1080thefacts.co.nz that addresses these issues.

New Zealanders have a choice: use 1080 to protect our native species over large-scale wilderness areas or end up with collapsing and denuded forests and our native species restricted to pest-free islands and fenced sanctuaries.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/standupfor1080

Lou Sanson, Director-General, Department of Conservation

Chris Allen, Board Member, Federated Farmers

Barry Harris, Chair, OSPRI

Kevin Hague, Chief Executive, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society

Livia Esterhazy, Chief Executive, WWF-NZ

Predator Free 2050 is an ambitious goal which will need a range of pest control measures to achieve, including some not yet invented or feasible.

Until science and technology come up with effective alternatives, the choice is 1080 or death to native birds, bats, insects and lizards, and the destruction of native fauna.


Rural round-up

August 8, 2018

BLNZ conference offers big choice of topics – Nicole Sharp:

A first for the South Island, farmers will have the future in front of them at Progressive Ag.

The Progressive Ag conference, organised by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ), is being held in Gore next month, on August 9.

Organiser and BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said the idea came from a similar event in the North Island.

”They have an ag innovation and we ran a mini all together in one place here in Gore last year,” she said. . .

Retractable roof a NZ first for Central orchard – Aexia Johnston:

A New Zealand-first development is taking shape at Clyde Orchards — a shed with a retractable roof will house three hectares of cherries.

Owners Kevin and Raymond Paulin, who could not yet confirm how much the development would cost, will plant thousands of cherry trees in the shed, boosting the company’s overall crop to 30ha.

They have been working on the project over winter, with the aim of getting it ready for planting so produce will be available in three years’ time. . .

Nailing the big issues:

Climate change and water quality are two issues the sheep and beef industry has yet to nail, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman, Andrew Morrison.

Speaking to Rural News last week at the Red Meat Sector conference in Napier, he said health and safety was a big issue 12-18 months ago but the industry has moved on from this and is working through these other issues.

“We really want to get the water quality and climate change issues sorted,” Morrison says. “We are working out what tools we can set up to help change the behaviour of people on these issues; not regulation so much as how we can structure policy that gets the necessary outcomes.” . . 

Common ground – Forest & Bird and Pāmu announce new collaboration:

The heads of New Zealand’s largest conservation organisation and largest farming group have agreed to work together to promote best environmental practice in New Zealand’s farming sector.

Forest & Bird and Pāmu have agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on researching, implementing, and promoting agricultural practices that protect the natural environment.

“Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation, and Pāmu is New Zealand’s largest farmer. It makes sense for these two influential organisations to collaborate on one of the country’s biggest challenges – how to reverse the crisis facing New Zealand’s unique natural environment,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague. . . 

New scholarship in beekeeping launched:

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) recently launched a new youth scholarship in beekeeping aimed at encouraging young New Zealanders who wish to take up a career in the industry and undertake training that supports best practice beekeeping.

The Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in Beekeeping is sponsored by Mossop’s Honey based in Tauranga. Ron Mossop was a leading pioneer in the industry, starting out his family beekeeping business in the 1940s and building a values-based family business focused on quality and integrity.

Today, the Mossop family honours those values through the scholarship fund which will be awarded annually. . .

New Zealanders still want meat, just less

Plant-based proteins won’t replace meat as consumers want both, a food scientist says.

Red meat consumption in New Zealand has fallen 57 percent in the last decade and companies like Air New Zealand have started offering meat free burger patties.

But Plant and Food Research scientist Dr Jocelyn Eason told RNZ’s Sunday Morning that did not mean New Zealanders wanted to replace meat with lab-grown meat.

She said consumers were increasingly becoming “flexitarian” – choosing to be vegetarian sometimes and eat meat other times. . . 

New Zealand’s largest alpine resort to be developed between Queenstown & Wanaka:

A new partnership between Cardrona Alpine Resort and Queenstown businessman John Darby will lead to the development of New Zealand’s largest alpine resort, incorporating Cardrona and a new Soho Basin Ski Area.

Soho Basin faces Queenstown and covers all the southern and south-west faces of Mt Cardrona, and includes the two Willow Basins that directly adjoins Cardrona Alpine Resort’s southern boundary. Soho Basin will add an additional 500ha of high altitude skiable terrain, offering up to 500 vertical metres of skiing. . . .

Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

August 7, 2018

Wool gets revived as tide turns on synthetics’ pollution of the seas – Heather Chalmers:

A new wave of socially and environmentally-conscious consumers are turning to natural fibres for their clothing and homes, rejecting polluting synthetics and plastics.  

New Zealand wool companies are already tapping into this trend, promoting wool as a natural, biodegradable and renewable replacement.

But while momentum is growing, returns remain stubbornly low for the coarser end of New Zealand wool clip.   

While shoppers may think they have done their bit for the environment by ditching plastic bags, they are being advised to look at what they are wearing and how their house is carpeted, furnished and insulated.  . . 

 Wrightson shares jump 9.4% on plans to sell seeds unit for $439M; may distribute cash – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Shares in PGG Wrightson jumped as much as 9.4 percent after the country’s largest rural services business said it had agreed to sell its seed and grain business to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds for $421 million in cash and $18 of debt repayment, and signalled it may return up to $292 million to its shareholders.

The sale is above the $285 million book value of the seeds business and follows several expressions of interest received from international parties as part of a strategic review underway with Credit Suisse (Australia) and First NZ Capital. The Christchurch-based company expects to have a net cash balance of about $270 million following the sale and could distribute as much as $292 million to shareholders. . . 

A2 doubles stake in Synlait at 23% discount – Sophie Boot:

A2 Milk will buy another 8.2 percent of Synlait Milk, doubling its stake in the company.

The milk marketing firm will buy the shares at $10.90 apiece, down 2.3 percent from the NZX one month volume weighted average price of $11.16, for a total of $161.8 million. The shares will come from Tokyo-listed Mitsui & Co, a general trading company which invests across sectors and bought 8.4 percent of Synlait at the company’s initial public offering in 2013. . .

 

New Zealand red meat sector strongly opposes European Union and United Kingdom’s WTO quota proposal;

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association strongly oppose the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom’s (UK) proposal to ‘split’ the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tariff Rate Quotas between them.

The UK and EU have officially notified the WTO of their draft tariff schedules, which propose to split tariff rate quotas that allow access for New Zealand sheepmeat and beef exports. . .

Trade outlook still bright, but not without challenges – Allan Barber:

Vangelis Vitalis, Deputy Secretary for trade at MFAT and chief negotiator for the CPTPP due to take effect early next year, gave a very thorough and enthralling presentation on the trade landscape to the Red Meat Sector Conference in Napier on Monday.

Free trade and market access are a key area of interest to the New Zealand meat industry and the economy as a whole. Vitalis stated that three assumptions underpin New Zealand’s international trade negotiations: . . 

MPI sets the record straight with Forest & Bird:

Ministry For Primary Industries 2 August 2018 MPI is disappointed that Forest and Bird thinks it necessary to make inaccurate claims about combined efforts to prevent the spread of Kauri dieback.

Forest and Bird has advised MPI that it is closing off its reserves with wild kauri as a further measure to prevent the spread of kauri dieback, says Roger Smith, Head of Biosecurity New Zealand (a part of MPI). “We welcome all efforts to protect our kauri and have been working in partnership with a wide range of organisations to support their local efforts. . .

Tour leader found with fruit fly:

Fruit fly larvae carried by a tour party leader could have devastated New Zealand’s horticulture industry, says Biosecurity New Zealand.

Biosecurity officers intercepted the larvae last month in undeclared food with a holiday group from Malaysia at Auckland Airport, says Biosecurity New Zealand Passenger Manager, Craig Hughes.

The larvae was found in chillies following x-ray screening of the tour leader’s baggage. A caterpillar was also detected in some garlic bulbs carried with the undeclared food. . .

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q3 2018: Status Quo Under Pressure in US Route-to-Market

The US has emerged as the largest wine market in the world, and by most measures, the most profitable and attractive. While wineries – both foreign and domestic – recognise the profit potential of the market, it is also widely seen as an exceptionally-difficult market to penetrate (particularly for small wineries), according to the latest RaboResearch Wine Quarterly report.

Route to the US consumer

Major changes are occurring today in how wine reaches the US consumer. “Changes in technology, business models and market structure are disrupting the global wine market and creating new sets of winners and losers among wholesalers, retailers and suppliers,” according to Stephen Rannekleiv, RaboResearch Global Strategist – Beverages. “Responding quickly to these changes will determine who survives, who thrives, and who fades away.” . .

Boy, 10, raises $60,000 in ‘Fiver for a farmer’ campaign – Shelley Ferguson:

More than $60,000 has been raised for drought-stricken farmers through a campaign started by children at a Sydney school last week.

Jack Berne, a grade four student at St John the Baptist Catholic School in Freshwater, was the instigator of “a fiver for a farmer”, and was inspired to help after learning about the struggles of those on the land in class.

Last week, Jack wrote a letter to media outlets as he tried to generate support for the cause after telling his mum that their teacher always tells them, “we can use our small and mighty voices” ..  . 


Rural round-up

June 28, 2017

NZ Farmer Confidence at Record High – Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey:

• Net rural confidence has jumped up in the second rural confidence survey of 2017 and is now at the highest level recorded since the survey commenced in early 2003.

• Farmers across all agricultural sectors were more positive about the outlook for the agricultural economy with the majority citing improved commodity prices as a key reason for increased optimism.

• The number of farmers expecting their own business performance to improve was also up in comparison with the last survey with over half of farmers expecting an improvement in the coming 12 months. . . 

Cannabis more often detected in workers than any other drug – Maureen Bishop:

Cannabis is still the most common drug ”by a country mile” found when staff are tested, farmers attending a workshop in Ashburton last week heard.

Therese Gibbens, general manager of the Canterbury West Coast area for The Drug Detection Agency, said 80% of positive drug results from tests carried out by the company in Canterbury detected cannabis.

This was followed by opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamine.

She had tips for farmers about policies, detection and managing the risks of staff affected by drugs or alcohol, backed up by statistics and experience. . . 

McClay says time is right for trade deal with four amigos:

Trade Minister Todd McClay says he believes the time is right to launch trade talks with Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia as part of the Government’s push for better access in Latin America.

Mr McClay leaves tomorrow to attend the Pacific Alliance Leaders Summit where a trade deal will be top of his agenda.

“We’ve been talking to the four Pacific Alliance countries about better access for Kiwi exporters for the last two years. With direct flights to South America there is increasing opportunity for New Zealanders to do more in these growing markets,” Mr McClay says. . . 

High tech approach to improve safety on SH1 at Moeraki Boulders:

Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe welcomes a new high tech warning system, which will help to improve road safety, has been installed on State Highway 1 in the Waitaki District.

The new Rural Intersection Active Warning System at the turnoff to Moeraki Boulders, off State Highway 1, is now operational and the variable speed limit is now legally enforceable.

“The new warning system is able to detect vehicles approaching the right turning bay at Moeraki Boulders Road and vehicles waiting to turn back on to the highway, and automatically adjusts the speed limit in the area to 70km/h to allow the approaching car to merge safely with oncoming traffic,” says Mr Macindoe. 

The 70km/h variable speed limit will apply 170 metres either side of the SH1/Moeraki Boulders Road. . . 

Be ready for the calving season:


MPI’s Penny Timmer-Arends has attended many field days and workshops to discuss the new bobby calf regulations with those affected across the supply chain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is asking farmers to be ready for new bobby calf regulations coming in this season.

“The new requirements for bobby calf shelter and loading come in to play on 1 August and we want to make sure everyone is well aware and prepared,” says Paul Dansted, MPI’s Director Animal and Animal Products.

“Calves need to be provided with shelter that keeps them warm and dry, and loading facilities that allow them to walk onto trucks.” . . 

Tegel delivers continued growth with record volumes, revenues and profit:

New Zealand’s largest poultry producer, Tegel Group Holdings Limited , today reported its FY2017 results for the 53 weeks ended 30 April 2017. The Company reported Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) of $34.2 million. This was $22.9 million higher than the prior year mainly as a result of a change in capital structure following listing. Underlying EBITDA was $75.6 million, 0.8% ahead of FY2016. Both NPAT and underlying EBITDA were within the Company’s revised guidance range issued in December 2016. . . 

PCE receives Forest & Bird ‘Old Blue’ environmental award:

Forest & Bird has awarded the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment an ‘Old Blue’ for her significant contribution to New Zealand’s environment and wildlife.

“Over ten years, Dr Jan Wright’s insightful reports have illuminated complex environmental subjects and in many cases fundamentally improved public appreciation of those issues,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague. . . 

Kiwis Eating Less Red Meat – Research:

More than half of Kiwis say they are eating less meat, and a quarter expect to be mostly meat-free by 2025, as they focus on their health and budget according to the results of a new survey.

It seems the days of a nightly meal of meat and two veg may soon be behind us too, with one in five of those surveyed (21%) saying they choose to have a meat-free dinner for more than half of the week. . . 


90% swimmable

February 24, 2017

The Government has announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040, alongside releasing new policy, regulations, information maps and funding to help achieve the new goal.

Image may contain: text, outdoor and water

“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug,” Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The plan is backed up by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.

“This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”

The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km. The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.

This is a very important point – nature is sometimes to blame for lower quality.

The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.

“The maps I am releasing today provide the most comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes ever published. These will help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as help people make decisions about where they can safely swim. The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.

“The challenge of improving water quality varies significantly across New Zealand. This plan requires improvements in water quality across all regions and all categories. The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018. Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less.

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients by:

  • replacing “wadeable” with “swimmable”
  • adding macroinvertebrate monitoring for ecological health
  • strengthening references to “Te Mana o te Wai”
  • clarifying the consideration of economic opportunities
  • requiring instream limits for nitrogen and phosphorus
  • clarifying inclusion of coastal lakes and lagoons
  • clarifying the policy on exceptions
  • strengthening the requirement for monitoring and improving quality.

“The new regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million,” Dr Smith says.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, text, outdoor, nature and water

“We are today opening bids for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.

“This is the third phase of the Government’s work programme to improve New Zealand freshwater management and builds on the NPS introduced in 2011 and the National Objectives Framework in 2014. I commend and acknowledge the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, who have worked tirelessly in assisting with these policy developments.”

The detail of the NPS and Stock Exclusion Regulations are open for consultation until 28 April 2017.

Deterioration in most waterways has taken place over many years and can’t be reversed quickly.

Lower standards of water quality have a number of causes, one of which is intensification of farming and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says farmers are up for the freshwater challenge the new standards pose:

New freshwater reforms will result in 56,000 km more fences protecting New Zealand waterways from stock – enough to go round the world one and a half times, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The new rules on stock exclusion are part of the Government’s plans announced today setting a target for 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040.

“Farmers have made huge progress in recent years to improve their environmental practices and this will be another important step forward. Dairy farmers have already voluntarily fenced off over 24,000km of waterways,” says Mr Guy.

“We know that stock standing in or regularly crossing waterways can do significant damage. While dairy farmers have voluntarily fenced off around 96% of their waterways, we want to extend this to other types of farms as well.

“The proposed national regulation would ensure that dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and deer are kept out of waterways.

“We need to ensure the changes are practical for farmers, so the exclusions would be implemented in a staged process starting this year through to 2030, depending on the stock type and land slope.

“There are long term benefits for the primary industries and wider economy from these reforms. Overseas markets and consumers increasingly demand a strong environmental performance over and above regulatory requirements. In this context, protecting New Zealand’s natural advantage has never been more important.

“No single organisation or group is solely responsible for improving our water quality. Meeting the target will take a collective effort, but the primary industries have a key contribution to make.

“In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries continues to work with the primary sectors to invest in good ideas which promote environmental best practice. One example is the Farm Systems Change program, which identifies high preforming farms and uses farmers’ networks to spread their knowledge.

“Another is a major programme under the Primary Growth Partnership, called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Under this programme effluent management systems have been improved, and every region now has a riparian planting guideline developed in conjunction with regional councils.

“As a Government we are committed to growing the primary industries at the same time as improving water quality. Water storage schemes like Central Plains Water and the Waimea Community Dam help in this by taking pressure off groundwater sources and maintaining summer river flows, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.

“We also know that science will play a major role in improving our freshwater. The ‘Our Land and Water’ National Science Challenge is investing $96.9 million over 10 years into this, hosted by AgResearch and involving six other Crown research institutes.

IrrigationNZ says the outcomes are achievable:

“Achievable outcomes within a reasonable timeframe” is how IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis, described today’s release of the government’s ‘Clean Water’ document. He hoped however that the target of 90% of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040 didn’t let urban waterways ‘off the hook’.

“Farmers have received the lion’s share of blame for New Zealand’s water quality degradation and despite evidence backing up the contribution cities and industries make to poor water quality, they have largely escaped the finger-pointing. I’m hoping the Government will call every New Zealander to account for water quality, recognising we all contribute to the problem, therefore we must all work together to enact the solution” said Curtis.

Poor water quality is not only a rural problem nor is it solely due to bad farming practices.

IrrigationNZ was pleased the Government had recognised the important economic contribution farmers make to our communities, stating that Regional Councils must consider the economic wellbeing of their community when making decisions about water allocation.

“Farmers and growers make significant investments in irrigation infrastructure and on-farm efficiencies, and the return on that investment is spent in towns and cities throughout New Zealand. We all benefit from irrigation and it’s important councils don’t impose restrictions that negatively impact the viability of our primary sector.” . . 

DairyNZ welcomed the new rules:

“The new stock exclusion requirements for dairy cattle is a strong endorsement of the hard work dairy farmers have done on their farms to protect waterways,” says DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle.

“The on-farm fencing requirements in the new rules have already been met by 97.1 percent of dairy farmers around the country, and the target by May, a month ahead of the new requirements, is to be 100 percent, with all waterways running through dairy farms will be fenced off and all stock crossings bridged,” he says.

“This means that right now very few dairy cattle have any access to waterways, and in just two months’ time no dairy cattle – that’s zero dairy cattle – should have access to waterways on our farms.”

Dr Mackle says fencing – currently 27,109 kms – is always set back a healthy distance from waterways, varying from farm to farm depending on the soil type and contour of the land.

“This ensures the optimum levels of bacteria, nutrients and sediment are filtered. Farmers also keep cows off sensitive areas in the vicinity of the fenced waterways, for example, in wet weather.”

“There’s still a way to go in some areas, and dairy farmers are well aware of that. We acknowledge that improving New Zealand waterways is a long journey, as today’s announcement recognises. The good news is dairy farmers around the country are leading the way in protecting freshwater on their farms.

“Our dairy farmers can be immensely proud of the work they are undertaking for the environment on their farms, and many are also doing work to improve their surrounding communities – and all New Zealanders, whether they are living in towns and cities, or in rural communities, can also be proud of the efforts of our dairy farmers,” says Dr Mackle.

As part of their commitment to the environment, dairy farmers are also planting vegetation along waterways, and using native plants such as manuka, cabbage trees and flaxes, as well as native grasses, that have superior ability to filter and slow run-off, he says.

“Added to this, all dairy farms now have dedicated effluent management systems with effluent ponds, just like towns around the country. Areas such as the dairy shed and yards drain directly into these systems where the effluent is stored and later used by farmers to fertilise their land.

“It’s also encouraging to see the rates of dairy effluent related prosecutions and abatement notices continuing to decline dramatically, and an improvement in overall effluent non-compliance, which is the lowest it has been in recent years.”

Over the past three years farmers have invested over $1 billion dollars in environmental protection measures, he says.

“About 70 percent of this expenditure has been on effluent systems that feature the latest technology. Farmers are also well along the way in preparing environmental management plans for their farms, working closely with environmental advisors and their local councils.”

Dr Mackle says while a number of forward-thinking farmers began environmental initiatives a decade and more ago, the actions of the past three years are recorded in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.

“The accord is an independently audited report. It can be seen as the commitment of every single one of New Zealand’s 14,000 dairy farmers to play their part in helping to ensure that their fellow Kiwis can enjoy cleaner freshwater.”

Full results of year three of the water accord are currently being audited and will be announced in April.

For year two water accord results see www.dairynz/wateraccord

Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman also welcomed  the clean water plans:

“Water is, of course, the lifeblood of horticulture and our commercial growers have been innovating for some time with environmentally sustainable ways of growing healthy, fresh food for all New Zealanders,” Mr Chapman says.

“Growers implement a number of techniques to protect waterways near their properties. These including riparian planting and management adjacent to waterways and silt traps to collect run-off caused by rain and stop anything entering nearby waterways.

“Riparian planting has many benefits, particularly to water quality, but it is also very expensive and growers bear the cost of that.

“It is great to see the Government opening applications for the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund, and we will certainly be looking at projects that could be part of that to create more and better ways to protect waterways near growing land.

“But it is also important to note that water quality in New Zealand is not solely the domain of people in the primary industries or rural land owners. The bulk of New Zealanders live in cities and they both use a lot of water and create a lot of waste water. So instead of always pointing the finger at those outside the cities, urban dwellers might want to consider what their contribution to clean water in New Zealand might be to help our growers continue to feed them healthy food in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has welcomed the announcement:

“The announcement is generally consistent with some of the Land and Water Forum’s recommendations,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“For the first time, swimmability is the objective in freshwater management.

“We will have transparency regarding which lakes and rivers are in fact swimmable and which are not. This will vary across seasons and places. Regional councils will need to improve degraded systems with a target of achieving 90% swimmability by 2040.

“The standard for what constitutes swimmable rivers and lakes is comparable with the EU Water Framework Directive. Whether the target date is acceptable will become clear during the consultation phase to follow.

“Other recommendations by the Land and Water Forum have been accepted by Government. These include providing greater rigour on nitrate levels and on macroinvertebrates in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. However, some of the detail on these issues appears to raise questions that need further exploration.

“One important issue that hasn’t been adequately addressed is turbidity and sediment – water clarity. The Forum is doing more work on this later in the year. . . 

Forest and Bird isn’t impressed:

Forest & Bird has condemned the government’s new water quality standards, warning New Zealanders that they lock in current levels of water pollution and allow for a 5-fold increase in the chance of getting sick from swimming in a river.

“Despite an explicit assurance from Minister Smith that the new water standards would provide for human and ecosystem health, he has failed to deliver on either of these things,” says Forest & Bird CEO Kevin Hague.

Contrary to the overwhelming public concern for the state of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes, the government’s announcement today does not require any improvement to our water quality, except for the very worst rivers.

“If your local river is polluted now, the government does not require that its water quality is improved to a standard that is safe for people and the ecosystem that it should support. Instead, all they propose is that the current situation is maintained,” says Mr Hague. . . 

What would he and his organisation do when nature causes the problems?.

The Otago Regional Council had concerns about only three waterways in January, two alerts were due to high rainfall and the poor water quality in the Kakanui River was caused by birds?

Clean water is one of the measures of sustainability, maintaining clean waterways and improving those with poor quality is a long-term and expensive process but the goal of 90% swimmable is achievable.


Rural round-up

February 8, 2017

‘Moment of truth’ for NZ agriculture in 2017 – industry report:

New Zealand agriculture faces a “moment of truth” in 2017, according to a report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

In its recently-released New Zealand Agricultural Outlook 2017 report, Rabobank says as an industry traditionally characterised by a liberal operating environment, and a key beneficiary of several decades of global shift to freer trade, agriculture faces a period of heightened regulatory uncertainty and change on both fronts.

Releasing the report, Rabobank Country Banking general manager Hayley Moynihan said 2017 was ushering in a period of considerable change and uncertainty for New Zealand agriculture with developments throughout the year likely to have a significant impact on the sector’s prospects this year and in the years to come.

‘They’ve signed off on everything we’ve done’

A Canterbury dairy farmer is defending the use of public land 50 metres from the Rakaia River, saying the regional council has let him farm it since 1990.

A report by the Canterbury Regional Council has detailed agricultural encroachment on nearly 12,000 hectares of land beside Canterbury’s braided rivers, between 1990 and 2012.

Forest and Bird said the areas taken over for farming have effectively been stolen, and their environmental values were, in effect, gone for good. . . . 

Council to use ‘rule book’ for river side development:

Canterbury’s regional council says it now has the enforcement tools needed to deal with farmers enchroaching public land and it won’t hesistate to use them.

An Environment Canterbury report has revealed almost 12,000 hectares of land beside Canterbury’s braided rivers was been converted for intensive agriculture between 1990 and 2012.

One-quarter of the land developed for farming was in public reserve. . .

Paddock to plate: chefs taste-test Omega lamb – Sally Rae:

It might still be early days for the Omega Lamb Project but feedback has been “overwhelming”, general manager Mike Tate says.

The project involves bringing healthy fat back on to the menu by producing lambs with naturally higher polyunsaturated fatty acids, intramuscular fat and omega-3.

Promoted as being the world’s tastiest and healthiest lamb, the project is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Last week, a gathering was held in the South, bringing chefs from throughout the country together with farmers in the Omega Lamb pilot group. . .

RSE employers hiring more kiwis:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes a report showing the vast majority of employers who take on seasonal workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are also employing more New Zealanders.

The eighth annual survey of RSE employers found that 79 per cent of the 92 respondents had employed more permanent New Zealand workers in addition to their RSE workers.

“The fact that more RSE employers are now taking on more Kiwis as well is great news and shows once again the huge benefits of the RSE scheme,” Mr Woodhouse says. . .

Lamb flap prices match record high, on limited supply, strong demand – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Strong demand from China combined with limited supply has seen the price for the humble lamb flap rise to match its previous record high.

The price for lamb flaps advanced to US$5.50 per kilogram in January, from US$5.40/kg in December, matching the previous record set in January 2014, according to AgriHQ’s monthly sheep & beef report.

Poor lamb growth rates through spring and early summer combined with improved grass growth has crimped the number of lambs being sent for slaughter in New Zealand, pushing up the price of all lamb cuts tracked by AgriHQ compared with their year-earlier levels. Lamb export volumes in December fell 25 percent from the year earlier to 20,580 tonnes, the lowest level for the month since 2011, according to the latest data.  . . 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2016

Kiwi world leader in precision farming – Nigel Malthus:

Mid-Canterbury farmer and businessman Craige Mackenzie was recently named the international Precision Farmer of the Year for 2016.

He is travelling to St Louis, Missouri, in early August to receive the award from the US-based PrecisionAg Institute. Nigel Malthus caught up with him before he left.

The award recognises “outstanding people, programmes and organisations making a difference in the precision ag industry”. It is a high honour for a man who was first invited to present a paper at an international conference in 2008 – but who did not then consider himself a precision farmer. . . 

$34-$35 Million FY16 reported earnings forecast for Synlait:

Synlait Milk’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $34 – $35 million.

Underlying NPAT for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $32 – $33 million.

Earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 July 2016 (FY16) has been provided to clarify market expectations around FY16 performance.

“Our IPO growth projects added the capability and capacity to execute our strategy of making more from milk,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman. . . 

Collaborative group to improve nature protection:

A new collaborative group involving environmental and landowner organisations has come together to improve national policy on protecting nature on private land, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today at the Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Wild Places’ conference in Auckland.

“New Zealand is globally recognised as a hotspot environmentally for the loss of unique species. One of the most challenging issues for councils and communities is improving the protection of our native species on private land while respecting the reasonable rights of owners to use their land for farming, forestry and other economic activities. This initiative is about bringing environmental groups and landowners together to develop clearer national policy on protecting the plants and animals that make New Zealand special.” . . 

Feds welcome biodiversity forum:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new national biodiversity forum announced by Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for biodiversity Chris Allen says we now have the opportunity to come to a common understanding of the pressures and priorities for biodiversity, on land and in water.

“From here we chart a way forward. Part of this will be agreeing on a national policy statement. . . 

Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds:

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy. . . 

Entries open for the 2016 Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award:

Rural Women New Zealand is offering the Journalism Award in a partnership with the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

The Award recognises the important contribution women make in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

The Award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities. The award recipient will demonstrate excellent understanding of issues and effectively communicate women’s responses to farming, family and business challenges, in a way which inspires and informs the audience. . . 

Changes to kiwifruit regulations:

The Government is updating kiwifruit regulations to ensure the industry is best structured for future growth, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“New amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments. 

“This will give Zespri more options for managing its shareholding available to any other company operating under the Companies Act, and will ensure that the interests of all shareholders are recognised in any decision affecting them. . . 

Zespri welcomes changes to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

Zespri welcomes the Government’s announcement that Cabinet has approved amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains these regulatory changes represent the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

“The Kiwifruit Regulations have served the industry very well and extensive industry consultation showed more than 97 percent of growers support the industry structure, with minor changes identified to position the industry for the strong growth ahead. . . 

NZKGI welcomes amendments to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Government to approve amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

These changes will ensure a regulatory structure that supports the sustainable, long-term growth of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry into the future.

The announcement today reflects considerable effort and investment by growers into ensuring the industry has the foundations to sustain its future in good and adverse times. . . 

Pahiatua Farmers Enjoy Participating In Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Tim and Nicola Hewitt are proud of the environmental work on their family’s 724ha (640ha effective) property south of Pahiatua. While they were initially reluctant to enter the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they are glad they finally gave it a go.

“We didn’t want to be seen as blowing our own trumpet,” says Tim.

“But ultimately I think farmers have a responsibility to our industry to show that we are trying to do a good job when it comes to the environment.” . . 

New agri-food research centre in Palmerston North:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced that AgResearch and Massey University will jointly build New Zealand’s largest agri-food research centre in the Food HQ Precinct on the Massey University campus in Palmerston North.

As part of AgResearch’s Future Footprint Programme, AgResearch and Massey University are investing $39 million in the Food Science Research Centre and the design for the new buildings is well underway.

“The research conducted at the Centre will span the agriculture sector from farm to consumer, with a focus on dairy and red meat research,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

Association backs ‘thorough’ maunka honey verification – Alexa Cook:

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

“Everyone who puts the word ‘manuka’ on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

“There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say ‘this is manuka’.” . . 

Rodent eradication lies in directed vitamin dose:

Rats die of a heart attack within 48 hours of being sprayed with a new chemical formulation invented by a New Zealand – United Kingdom joint venture.

The formula includes Cholecalciferol, better known as vitamin D3 and used as a health supplement in humans.

But Peter Signal, a director of New Zealand company Advanced Animal Technologies (AAT), says it’s the combination of the chemical formula with a specially designed delivery system, called PiedPiper, that has been shown to deliver outstanding results in trials in the UK, Europe and Kenya. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2015

Shareholders seek board changes for leaner, fitter Fonterra:

Two Fonterra shareholders and former Fonterra board members are calling on Fonterra shareholders to reduce the number of directors in a move to improve the company’s performance.

The two, Greg Gent and Colin Armer, have put forward a notice of proposal to the company’s annual meeting in late November seeking shareholder support for a reduction of board members from 13 to nine.

“We all want our cooperative to be more globally competitive and successful with a clear strategy to achieve that. Our farming businesses and livelihoods depend on that,” says Greg Gent who was formerly deputy chairman of the company. . . 

Forest & Bird congratulates New Zealand police on 1080 arrest:

Forest & Bird congratulates the New Zealand police for making an arrest as part of their investigation into a 1080 threat to infant formula late last year.

“This threat wasn’t just a challenge for our dairy industry and exports, it also had the potential to damage our ability to control introduced predators that are killing our native wildlife” explained Kevin Hackwell, Group Manager of Campaigns and Advocacy at Forest & Bird.

“We absolutely support the continued use of 1080 in New Zealand’s forests. It’s the most sensible, cost-effective way to reduce pest numbers and allow native forests and wildlife to thrive” said Mr Hackwell. . .

Alliance Group to offer farmers loyalty payments – Gerard Hutching:

Alliance Group will offer loyalty payments this season to farmer shareholders in what some observers are saying are the first shots in a procurement war.

The offer comes with the caveat that farmers have to supply 100 per cent of all their livestock or 100 per cent of one species.

The reward for farmers supplying 100 per cent of their lambs is an additional 10c per kilogram per animal.

Chief executive David Surveyor said the co-operative was forecasting $100 for an 18kg lamb for the 2015-2016 season. . . 

Farmers and growers hope to avoid another drought – Gerard Hutching:

Some South Canterbury farmers and growers are shying away from being dependent on Lake Opuha water and are putting in their own bores.

Jo and Steve Malone, who own Redwood Cherries and Berries on the Pleasant Point Highway, lost thousands of dollars during this year’s disastrous drought.

“We are going to drill for water because we don’t want to be reliant on the lake. We are waiting for the council to give us consent,” Jo Malone said.

They were not as big users of water as dairy farms. Their cherries had not received irrigated water for the last five years, but it was vital for the strawberries. . . 

Grain payments spell risky business – Alisha Fogden:

MAKING seven-day payment terms standard was a contentious topic in the managing market risk session at the recent Australian Grain Industry Conference in Melbourne.

Grain Trade Australia chief executive officer Geoff Honey, who was guest speaker, said that could potentially reduce competition.

“There are organisations that buy grain from you that sell it to an end-user that is on a 30-day end-of-week delivery,” he said.

“If it became seven-days EOW standard across everybody, you could be removing a layer of competition. . . 

A cure for vitamin B6 deficiency :

In many tropical countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, cassava is one of the most important staple foods. People eat the starchy storage roots but also the leaves as a vegetable. Both have to be cooked first to remove the toxic cyanide compounds that cassava produces.

But the roots have a disadvantage: although rich in calories, in general they contain only few vitamins. Vitamin B6 in particular is present in only small amounts, and a person for whom cassava is a staple food would have to eat about 1.3 kg of it every day for a sufficient amount of this vital vitamin.

Serious deficiency in Africa

Vitamin B6 deficiency is prevalent in several African regions where cassava is often the only staple food people’s diet. Diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as are associated with vitamin B6 deficiency.

Plant scientists at ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva have therefore set out to find a way to increase vitamin B6 production in the roots and leaves of the cassava plant. This could prevent vitamin B6 deficiency among people who consume mostly cassava. . . 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, www.lawa.org.nz began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 


Rural round-up

February 28, 2015

Dairy commits $5 million to ambitious zero pest plan – Suze Metherell:

New Zealand’s dairy industry has committed $5 million over two years to the fight against stoats, rats and possums, which destroy native flora and fauna, and can carry bovine tuberculosis.

The Zero Invasive Predators scheme, or ZIP, formed after a $10 million injection from philanthropic fund NEXT Foundation, and a further commitment of $5 million from the Department of Conservation. The funds will be used to develop the Wellington-based conservationist’s barrier system, which aims to prevent the reintroduction of pests in cleared zones, without using fences.

New Zealand’s major dairy companies, including Fonterra Cooperative, Westland Milk Products, Open Country, Synlait and Tatua, have contributed to the programme, which is trialing its system on the 400 hectare Bottle Rock peninsula in the Marlborough Sounds. The dairy industry wants to eradicate possums because of the TB threat to dairy herds. . .

 Dairy funding for predator control welcomed:

The announcement that the dairy industry will join an initiative to tackle the predators decimating New Zealand’s native wildlife is another positive step on the way to achieving the long term goal of a predator-free New Zealand, Forest & Bird said today.

Five major dairy companies, including Fonterra, have committed $5 million to the Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) programme, which was founded late last year by NEXT Foundation and the Department of Conservation. The partnership intends to find new ways to eradicate introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums from large areas of land.

Forest & Bird Group Manager Campaigns and Advocacy Kevin Hackwell welcomed the dairy industry involvement in the campaign to stop the decline of our native wildlife due to invasive predators. . .

NZ business confidence gains in February as agri sector gets more upbeat – Paul McBeth:

  (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand business confidence improved in February as recent gains in dairy prices turned sentiment around in the agriculture sector, and as low interest rates stoke hiring and investment expectations.

A net 34.4 percent of firms are optimistic about the general economy, up from 30.4 in the previous survey, according to the ANZ Business Outlook. That was aided by a turnaround in agriculture to a net 15.2 percent becoming optimistic, having previously been dominated by pessimists. Firms’ own activity outlook showed a net 40.9 percent of respondents upbeat on their prospects, compared to 37.3 percent.

“General confidence, profit expectations and employment intentions in this sector (agriculture) have flipped from negative to positive,” ANZ Bank New Zealand chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in his report. “Higher dairy prices are no doubt working their magic. Such a bounce-back is particularly welcome considering challenges delivered by Mother Nature.” . .

 

Fonterra’s journey – Keith Woodford:

[This is the second of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 8 February 2015. The previous article was titled ‘The evolution of Fonterra’ ]

Last week I wrote about the battles that led to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. However, Fonterra’s structure and associated institutional culture have moved a long way since then.

Sufficient time has elapsed since Fonterra’s formation battles that they can now be seen in reasonable perspective. But subsequent events are still raw. In line with corporate policy, the participants have largely kept their opinions private, and the official line is a product of the public relations team. However, in a co-operative structure, it is inevitable that information does leak. One thing for sure, is that some of the internal debates have been vigorous. . .

Forest safety council underway:

The forest industry has established a safety council to make forests safer places to work. This was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest workplace safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council will formally get underway in early April. But in the meantime a working group representing forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and the government is putting the building blocks in place. An independent chair and national safety director are being recruited.

There were 10 workplace deaths and 169 serious harm injuries in forestry in 2013. This led to the industry establishing the review panel which reported in late October 2014. . .

Sailor convicted after biosecurity ramp-up in Northland:

A sailor who appeared in the Kaikohe District Court last week (17 February) has become the first person convicted for deliberately concealing biosecurity goods on a visiting yacht.

The conviction follows increased biosecurity scrutiny of arriving yachts by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) at Northland this yacht arrival season.

Sylvie Berthe Barre, 61, a retired French national, had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly possessing unauthorised goods, and misleading an official. She was fined $3000.

She is currently staying in New Zealand on a three-month visiting visa. . .

2015 Northland Field Days Could Be Biggest Ever:

The 2015 Northland Field Days is shaping up to be the biggest ever according to organisers with more exhibitors, more competitions and better facilities than ever before.

From February 26 to February 28 people from Northland and beyond will flood into Dargaville for the Northland Field Days with high expectations

With over 450 companies exhibiting at the event this year Northland Field Days president Lew Duggan says interest has never been higher with exhibitors taking the extra effort to make site displays more dynamic and exciting than ever.

Those interested in getting a glimpse into Northland’s history will be getting a special treat this year say organisers but not one but two heritage organisations having displays at the event. . .

 Mammoth donkey heads for record books – David Farrier:

Jenny Clausen is famous in Taupiri for a very specific love – donkeys.

The locals call her the “donkey lady” thanks to the 30 or so donkeys she keeps at her and her husband’s dairy farm.

But Ms Clausen may also soon be in The Guinness Book of World Records for one of her donkeys.

Nutmeg is a mammoth donkey born and bred in New Zealand, and she’s bigger than your normal mammoth. . .

New Zealand and Australia Tie in the Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge:

New Zealand Winegrowers injected some old fashioned rivalry in ‘The Great Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge’ on Thursday evening in Auckland ahead of the New Zealand and Australia Cricket World Cup game at the weekend. The two nations channelled their trans-Tasman rivalry as they met head-to-head in a blind wine tasting.

After some rigorous judging lead by Bob Campbell MW and Nick Stock, the ‘dream team’ of top 12 wines turned out to be a perfect split from Australia and New Zealand with each nation claiming six places each. Australian wine, Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat NV, was crowned “player of the match”. . .

 


Battle for birds

January 30, 2014

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has launched DOC’s largest-ever species protection programme called ‘Battle for Our Birds’.

“Our native birds are in decline and the kiwi will not exist in the wild for our grandchildren unless we do more to protect them. Rats, stoats and possums must be controlled to stop them killing 25 million native birds a year. It is like having a Rena disaster, which killed 2000 birds, every hour,” Dr Smith says.

“This problem is particularly urgent this year because we are facing a one in 10 to 15 year large beech mast that will drop about a million tonnes of seed in autumn. This flood of food will trigger a plague of an additional 30 million rats and tens of thousands of stoats. When the seeds germinate in spring, these starved predators will annihilate populations of our endangered birds.

“This ‘Battle for Our Birds’ programme increases pest control in 35 forests to protect 12 native species, and mainly involves using 1080. An additional 500,000 hectares will be treated in this mast year, increasing the proportion of public conservation land protected from these pests from five per cent to 12 per cent. It also involves expanding DOC’s on-going pest control work by 50,000 hectares each year over the next five years.”

The twelve target species are the great spotted, brown and tokoeka kiwi, kaka, kea, whio (blue duck), mohua (yellowhead), kakaraki (orange-fronted parakeet), rock wren, long and short tailed bats, and giant snails. It will save millions of other native birds like fantails, robins, tui, kereru, riflemen, bellbirds, tomtits and warbles, reptiles like geckos, insects like weta, trees like rata, and plants like mistletoe.

The bulk of the 35 forests where the protection work will occur this year is in South Island beech forests in the Kahurangi, Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Westland, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The other reserves in the South Island are the Catlins and Waikaia in Otago, Mt Dobson and Upper Hurunui in Canterbury, Haast, Maruia and Mokihinui on the West Coast, and Pelorus and Isolated Hill in Marlborough. The five forests in the North Island to receive protection this year are Pouiatoa in Taranaki, the Whanganui and Tongariro National Parks, and at Pirongia and Awaroa in western Waikato.

“The details of the exact areas, timing and mix of pest control tools will be finalised over coming months. We need to monitor the mast seed drop and the resulting pest plague, and engage with affected communities.

“This pest control programme does involve the use of aerial 1080, but does not mean record use. Pre-feeding, improving bait quality to avoid crumbs attractive to birds, helicopter rather than fixed-wing aircraft distribution, GPS, and the development of repellents for non-target species have enabled major improvements in 1080 control methods. Bait application rates have reduced from 30 kilograms to one kilogram per hectare.

“I know there are people, regardless of the science, who will oppose the use of poisons. The comprehensive conclusions of the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Environment Protection Authority make plain that 1080 is safe and the only practical tool that will work. Reason must trump prejudice about poisons when the very species that define our country like kiwi are at stake.”

This programme will cost about $21 million over the next five years out of DOC’s $335 million annual budget and is possible because of savings from last year’s restructuring, partnership funding, efficiency gains from improved pest control technologies, and economies of scale in this large project

“The ‘Battle for Our Birds’ is New Zealand’s largest ever species protection programme. It’s about backing our kiwi, kaka and kea over rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith concluded.

The plan has the backing of parliament’s environment watchdog:

. . . Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright warned of the “pest explosion” in December and she’s welcoming Dr Smith’s move.

“The potential toll on our native wildlife is enormous,” she said.

“I’m delighted with Dr Smith’s considered response to this very major threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.”

Dr Wright says 1080 is the only tool to control the plagues of rats and stoats that follow a mast event.

Forest and Bird says the 1080 plan should be standard:

“Conservation group Forest and Bird says increased pest poisoning in response to an expected boom in rat and stoat numbers should be the new baseline. . .

“Without this increase in predator control, there will be a real possibility that we will lose a bird species this mast year,” said F&B advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

“DOC should be funded properly for dealing with this event. But, if this level of predator control is not maintained, the money could easily be wasted. For this reason the programme over the next five years should become the new standard for DOC’s aerial 1080 operations.” . . .

Native flora and fauna are under threat from imported pests in the best of years.In mast years the increased danger calls for an extraordinary response and the planned 1080 blitz  is necessary.

Beech mast 2014 logo.

There is more on the plan at DOC’s website.


Denniston Plateau mine’s a goer

November 12, 2013

The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society won’t appeal an Environment Court ruling signing off on a planned coal mine for the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau after cutting a deal with mining company Bathurst Resources yesterday.

The environmental lobbyist has agreed not to appeal the final consent process and in return Bathurst won’t do anything in its control to cause open cast mining in a defined protection area, the entities said in separate statements. The parties also agreed to let court costs fall where they lie in respect to the wider appeals process.

“This agreement is a significant milestone for the Escarpment Mine Project,” Bathurst chief executive Hamish Bohannon “It gives Bathurst increased certainty and the company now has a much greater level of confidence around being able to commence mining activities as soon as possible.”

Last month the Environment Court granted consents for the project, ending a two-year battle waged in the courts, which have largely been in Bathurst’s favour.

Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin said the group cut the deal because a successful appeal might not have prevented the mine, and that this was a way to ensure Bathurst protects the reserve area.

Bathurst shares were unchanged at 24 cents yesterday, and have climbed 26 percent this year.

This is a good outcome for all concerned.

The mine will go ahead creating more higher paying jobs on the Coast and the reserve area is protected

 


Proposals for freshwater management

November 8, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have released proposals for improving freshwater management, including national water standards.

On-going and reliable supply of healthy water is one of the most important environmental and economic issues facing New Zealand today,” Ms Adams says.

“It is critical that we protect and improve the water quality that we all care so much about.”

“This is an issue that affects us all. We need to work together to create a better way of managing what is New Zealand’s most important natural resource,” Mr Guy says.

In 2011, the Government required regions to maintain or improve the water quality in their lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers.

In March a document was released outlining the Government’s proposed plan of action for improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

In August, the Government announced its intention to create a collaborative planning option for the development of a freshwater plan within a community.

Today, the Government is releasing a document to seek the public’s feedback on more detailed proposals for amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

The discussion document seeks feedback on the Government’s proposals for:

  • a national framework to support communities setting freshwater objectives
  • explicit recognition of tangata whenua values for freshwater
  • ecosystem and human health as compulsory values in regional plans
  • bottom lines for ecosystem and human health that apply everywhere, and

restricted grounds for exceptions to bottom lines; and

  • requiring councils to account for all water takes and contaminant discharges

More than 60 freshwater scientists from public, private and academic sectors across New Zealand have come up with numeric values proposed for national bottom lines for freshwater.

Ministers have not been involved in the scientific detail of the framework.

The numbers have also been tested with a reference group of water users to make sure they are practical. Further water quality attributes and numbers will be added over time.

The framework will be underpinned by good information that supports regional decision-making, including the environmental, social and economic impacts of any proposed objectives and limits.

“As a minimum, councils still have to maintain or improve water quality, but we are proposing a safety net in national bottom lines for ecosystem and human health,” Ms Adams says.

“These are to safeguard aquatic life in our water bodies, and ensure we can enjoy our water for activities like boating and wading.”

“We expect people to debate these bottom lines – that’s the nature of science – but the freshwater scientists’ numbers we are releasing today also reflect the important role of value judgements in choosing how we use our fresh water,” Mr Guy says.

“If we can get agreement now, there will be less arguing and litigation over regional plans and resource consent applications. It will give people more certainty about what is allowed and what is not, and all this will save time and money.”

The discussion document, the draft amended National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and supporting documents and studies are available here.

Public meetings and hui will be held around the country this month and next. Dates and venues will be posted on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

Amy Adams’ speech is here.

Farmers are welcoming the proposals.

“What is being proposed directly comes out of the recommendations of the Land & Water Forum and represent a significant change in how communities will plan for water into the future,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“This is a collaborative response to what has been a collaborative process.

“It is a framework which provides an accounting system for measuring water quantity and quality. This reduces much of the subjective emotion that has typified the discussion and sets bottom lines for water quality.

“This also is about giving communities the power to set their own aspirations for water. For the first time this will be scientifically, culturally and economically informed. It won’t be easy and will need some sacrifice from agriculture and urban communities alike.

“As Minister Adams noted at the launch, some of our most polluted waterways are in our towns and cities. It is why every New Zealander has a responsibility to play their part.

“Just like some farmers may face greater restrictions, some cities and their ratepayers may face wastewater upgrades costing hundreds of millions of dollars. The thing about the proposed amendments is that it introduces the concept of time; many issues may have taken decades to build and may take decades to resolve.

“I can confidently say New Zealand’s primary industries are up for this challenge.

“It is a challenge that rightly starts by giving communities the full facts. This is helped by input provided by 60 of New Zealand’s foremost freshwater scientists. For the first time we can build up a picture for what the impacts are and where they are coming from.

“It will also be helped by giving communities an idea as to what the costs of water options being considered are. As long as the community goes into decisions with its eyes open, as farmers, we cannot really complain.

“Many of the issues we face are long-term and the solutions will equally need an intergenerational approach. That makes it important to get the foundations right.

“While the framework is not complete and needs details to flesh it out, it and the consultation now underway, are important steps towards a more open and honest discussion about water,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

IrrigationNZ says the integration of socio-economic and environmental objectives is the only way New Zealand will achieve long-term sustainability.

“It’s good to see the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum being put into action and IrrigationNZ applauds the scientists and planners behind the framework. It’s a sensible, well-informed first iteration and we look forward to its further development,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

Mr Curtis says communities will now be able to come together and make informed decisions around the values of local waterways. “The framework delivers a more consistent approach to the setting of freshwater objectives and limits throughout New Zealand. IrrigationNZ is particularly excited by the breadth of community values that have been captured. Long term sustainability requires the marrying of socio economic and environmental aspirations and the framework achieves that.”

Another highlight for IrrigationNZ is recognition within the framework that communities need flexibility as they work towards meeting freshwater objectives.

“This is important as there are many factors impacting on water quality and a range of management approaches that can be taken as a result. While much of New Zealand’s freshwater resource is in good shape, there are also hotspots that urgently require attention. For IrrigationNZ, our contribution is working out how we better use water for irrigation and the framework reinforces that with its focus on measurement. Irrigators understand the importance of monitoring and measurement as our industry is founded on it. Our work programme is now based on improving water use efficiency and minimising nutrient losses to groundwater and waterways which will go a long way to delivering improved freshwater outcomes.”

The one jarring note for IrrigationNZ is the continuing debate around what should be included as attributes in the national bottom lines.

“In reality it’s difficult to set national bottom lines for many attributes due to the diversity and complexity of our landscape and waterbodies. Some freshwater attributes, particularly biotic-based indicators that are derived from multiple parameters, are better set at the catchment level where scenario specific analysis can be undertaken.”

Forest and Bird says the proposals are a good first step towards cleaner rivers.

. . . “Currently, regional councils decide their own water quality values. Inevitably, these have been disputed by different sectors all the way to the Environment Court,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“It makes real sense to get consistency and agreement, all at once at a national level, and to have nationally consistent bottom lines.

“While the National Objectives Framework is a good start, as proposed, it would benefit from some more flesh on its bones,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“An obvious omission is that there is no objective that directly relates to the health of freshwater insects, and we hope that they can be included in the national framework that is implemented. Insects provide a direct measurement of how healthy a lake or river is,”
Kevin Hackwell says.

“Where there are still gaps in the regional science – which mean we can’t yet agree on a national set of numbers for particular water quality values – we should still be able to agree on some tight wording on what standards we want to see achieved.

“Tight ’descriptive’ objectives would provide crucial guidance for regional councils to work to, while the figures are worked out,” Kevin Hackwell says.

The Environmental Defence Society also says the proposals are a good first step.

“This is the critically important keystone to the entire freshwater reform process,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“When EDS initiated the Land and Water Forum process in 2008, we had no idea it would take so long to get to this important stage. We finally have a draft of the much-needed national guidance for freshwater management in New Zealand.

“The overall NOF framework appears to be consistent with the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. That much is welcome.

“However the actual standards and bottom-lines proposed are incomplete and those that are there will need strengthening.

“In particular, we are aware the Science Panels and the Reference Group recommended that macroinvertebrates (small living critters in freshwater systems) should be included – but they haven’t been. We think this can and should be fixed in the final version.

“Overall, some of the other bottom-line standards appear weaker than expected and in many cases are considerably lower than current water quality. We will need to take scientific advice on what adjustments are required. We have to have standards that ensure that no further deterioration in freshwater quality occurs and that we are on an overall improvement pathway especially in lowland streams and rivers.

“Overall, New Zealand’s freshwater should be swimmable and fishable as a minimum.

“The government is running a series of workshops and consultation feedback has been sought with a closing date in February.

“On this occasion the government is generally on the right pathway which will be welcomed by my colleagues on the Land and Water Forum as being in accord with the consensus position we arrived at. EDS stands by that consensus,” Mr Taylor concluded.

Getting consensus on the freshwater strategy is far better than imposing something which will result in on-going wrangles and litigation.

Consensus does however, often require compromise.

All parties involved have a strong desire to ensure we have good freshwater standards that result in clean water. If they keep that in mind they ought to be able to build on what they have in common and work around their differences.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

October 8, 2013

On Farm Productivity Is Good, But The Big Money Is Made From Off Farm Productivity – Milking on the Moove:

There’s a lot of talk about productivity in New Zealand these days.

But are we focusing on the right areas?

The government has set a target of doubling the primary sectors export earnings from $32 Billion to $64 Billion by 2025.

Nobody doubts that this is a difficult ask.

New Zealand’s primary sector has a strong record of productivity gains.

The sheep industry alone has increase productivity (expressed as meat sold /ewe) by 80% over the last 25 years.

That’s 2.5% productivity gain every year. Any business analyst will agree that that is impressive.

But are sheep farmers any better off?

Despite 20 years of productivity gains sheep farmers recently experienced their lowest level of profitability, according to Beef & Lamb NZ data. . .

Setting a pathway to a sustainable future – James Houghton:

The judges ruling on the One Plan has got everyone claiming a win, which is an unexpected result coming from two sides who have always been quite opposing in their views. What a fantastic result Honorary Justice Stephen Kòs has managed to keep both sides happy! For us it has allowed us, in conjunction with the regional council, to come up with a workable solution to the One Plan.

I was sitting next to a Fish & Game representative last Tuesday and I said that the primary industries are committed to putting money into getting good science around achieving the goals of healthy rivers and work forward for sensible solutions. I don’t know where he has been hiding for the past few years because he was quite surprised.

The plan as it now sits means everything is about making the pathway to improvements on farm achievable, and that’s all we ever wanted. It is all part of managing risk and making the most of the resources we have. But at the same time other stakeholders like Fish & Game and Forest & Bird need to have realistic expectations of what can be achieved through good management practice on farm. This all comes down to setting the values through open and honest consultation and this is why we are setting up the Stakeholders Group, who will represent the community in Waikato and identify where the issues are, as well as the Technical Alliance Group (TAG) who will come up with the solutions. . .

Raetihi farmers frustrated but coping:

Farmers reliant upon Raetihi’s water supply are as frustrated as the urban residents are but remain hopeful alternative water supplies maybe secured by the end of this week.

“With livestock understandingly refusing to drink from contaminated troughs, it has been a difficult week for the affected farms and especially those who draw water from Raetihi’s water supply,” says Lyn Neeson, Federated Farmers Ruapehu provincial president.

“What we need now is some heavy rain and it looks like some is on the cards for mid-week.

“Farmers are coping quite well by moving stock to alternative sources either on or off-farm. This includes on-farm water supplies like dams through to sending stock off-farm. . .

Colombian Farmers Get First-Hand Look at NZ Agri Expertise:

The New Zealand Agribusiness Centre, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade this week welcome the largest Colombian delegation to ever visit New Zealand.

Some 170 Colombian farmers are spending a week in New Zealand to get first-hand insights into New Zealand’s pastoral farming systems and agritechnology. The visit includes an exhibition and seminar with major players in New Zealand’s agriculture sector at Mystery Creek Event Centre (home of Fieldays); fieldtrips to dairy, beef and sheep farms; and a visit to Landcorp’s pastoral farm development blocks near Taupo.

Led by Fedegan, the Colombian Federation of Ranchers, the delegation to New Zealand follows Prime Minister John Key’s official visit to Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil earlier this year as part of the Government’s increased focus on strengthening bilateral relations and capitalising on trade opportunities with Latin America nations. . .

NZ study tour on offer for international farmers:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today announced a new programme for overseas farmers to spend time in New Zealand on an agri-tech study tour.

“Four places a year will be available for farmers to spend up to three weeks here, looking at improved agricultural productivity and reducing on-farm methane emissions,” says Mr Guy.

“This programme will be fully funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries and will help promote New Zealand’s agribusiness expertise overseas.

“My recent trip to South America has reinforced to me just how well respected New Zealand is overseas for the success of our agricultural sector. . .

Federated Farmers aids New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy:

Federated Farmers has successfully tabled a paper at the World Farmers Organisation that could greatly contribute to New Zealand’s global agricultural diplomacy.

“I am pleased to say New Zealand’s proposal to invite farming organisations has been warmly received by the World Farmers Organisation and will further our country’s global outreach and engagement,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The World Farmers Organisation is currently writing to our Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to agree a programme for farmers from developed or developing countries to travel to New Zealand for an agri-tech study tour.

“We envisage each visit will be coordinated by MPI but will involve industry good bodies, research institutions and ourselves. It will enable visiting farmers to spend two to three weeks working alongside our farming community and agricultural science sectors. . .

NZCTA urges positive action in light of botulism scare:

The New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA) is urging industry and Government to work together to learn serious lessons from the Fonterra botulism scare. Official reviews have yet to be published, but the NZCTA is encouraging its members to continue to monitor the situation with respect to the China market.

“There is no doubt that the incident has damaged New Zealand’s image as a source of safe, high quality food products and the implications of this have been felt in terms of earnings for a number of our members, and this is unlikely to be fully resolved until New Zealand can prove that it has adequate systems in place to safeguard the industry and export markets” says Association Chairman Tim White. . .

City-fringe farm with a history of dairy and cattle grazing goes on the market for sale:

A dairy support farm described as being ‘as close to the city as you can get without being a lifestyle block’ has been placed on the market for sale.

The 185 hectare unit near the township of Waiuku in the Counties region of Auckland is a sheep farm which has been converted into a cattle and finishing block capable of running up to 650 head of cattle.

The farm is divided into some 40 paddocks and raced for efficient stock movement and separation. This year the farm has stocked 100 dairy heifer yearlings, 150 dairy heifer calves, 200 beef yearlings and 200 beef calves. . .


Rural round-up

November 18, 2012

We must look after our good staff on dairy farms – Pasture to Profit:

How do we prevent the increasing “churn” of employed staff?  Turnover (or tenure) of staff employed on NZ dairy farms is expensive. There is a general feeling that the “churn” of dairy farm staff is getting faster. 

The NZ dairy industry doesn’t compare well with other employment sectors. The greatest “Churn” appears to be amongst the young or in the first year that people are in the job.

“Annual churn out of the industry is estimated at 15% for 2010/11 with a cost of $64 million to the industry in lost investment. . .

How green are you? – Bruce Wills:

How green are you?

I mean, do you genuinely care about your carbon footprint and the integrity of what you put into your house let alone place against your skin?

Would you be prepared to wear genetically modified fibres against your skin?

I imagine some would answer an indignant, no.

I could further ask if you would be prepared to wear oil, let alone fill your walls with the stuff or even lay it on your floors.

In Australia, recently, I learned the amount of non-genetically modified cotton could probably be held in one hand. Alright, a slight exaggeration there, but truth be told, almost all of the world’s cotton is genetically modified. . .

Robertson pins Pegaus hopes on Fovaran sale – with water consents for dam

A pending water consent application in Hakataramea Valley may help Wanaka developer Bob Robertson recoup his position at Pegasus Town – in receivership – near Christchurch.

Mr Robertson is hoping to sell his Foveran deer park property in Hakataramea Valley, North Otago.

He placed it on the market two years ago without success.. .

Fewer farmer directors could be a good thing – Milking on the Moove:

Fish Stock Status Update:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is reporting that by far the majority of New Zealand’s fisheries are performing well – 83.2 percent of fish stocks of known status are healthy.

The Status of New Zealand Fisheries 2012 report has just been released.

James Stevenson-Wallace, the Director of Fisheries Management, says New Zealand continues to be world-leading in the sustainable management of fishing, and the Quota Management System gives fisheries managers the ability to address problems where they occur. . .

Pure Oil NZ – purchase of Biodiesel’s Ag Division:

Pure Oil New Zealand Limited is pleased to announce its purchase of the Agricultural Division of Biodiesel New Zealand Limited. This includes: oil seed rape crop production, the oil extraction facility at Rolleston and the marketing of the resultant products (rape seed oil and rape seed meal).

Pure Oil NZ is owned by Midlands Seed, Southern Packers, Roger Lasham (Agronomist) and Nick Murney (Manager). This group of shareholders bring a wide range of skills and expertise to strengthen the current business model and will ensure the new business is able to reach its full potential. . .

Agri-business sale completed

Solid Energy has completed the sale of the agribusiness division of Biodiesel New Zealand Ltd. The purchaser, Pure Oil New Zealand Ltd, is owned by Southern Packers, Midlands Seed, and a manager and agronomist who previously worked for Biodiesel New Zealand.

Solid Energy said in August that as part of its response to the impact on its business of the extremely challenging global coal market, the company would sell its biodiesel business which operates in two parts – one manufacturing and marketing biofuel and the agri-business division which contracts with farmers to grow oilseed rape, processes the seed at an oil extraction plant at Rolleston and sells the oil into the food industry and meal as animal feed. In early October Solid Energy announced the consortium led by Southern Packers was the preferred bidder. . .

Manuka prices inflated

The National Beekeepers’ Association (NBA) wishes to correct misleading information, circulating in some media, that beekeepers are earning up to $400 a kg for bulk manuka honey.

NBA chief executive, Daniel Paul, says this is incorrect. . . 

Quartz Reef Completes the Treble with Pure Gold Win at Air NZ Wine Awards

The Pure Gold medal awarded to Quartz Reef Méthode Traditionnelle Brut at Air NZ Wine Awards announced overnight has completed a winning treble for this premium Central Otago single estate grown producer and caps a great month of awards.

Quartz Reef only produces three Méthode Traditionnelle wines and to have a 100 percent Gold Medal success rate shows a commitment to superior quality from winemaker, Rudi Bauer, and his dedicated team who create these bottle fermented hand crafted wines. . .

Forest and Bird welcomes new green growth report:

Forest & Bird welcomes the release of a study making a case for New Zealand’s business and political leaders to embrace green growth that makes economic sense.

The study is by Vivid Economics, in association with the University of Auckland’s Business School, for green growth business lobby group Pure Advantage.

“Forest & Bird fully supports a transition to a green economy, as one of our top five priorities,” says Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Claire Browning. . . .


Pastoral lease rent changes welcomed

August 5, 2010

Proposed changes to the way rents are calculated on pastoral lease properties has been welcomed by farmers.

The previous administration had changed the way rents were set to include amenity values. They also reflected inflated values paid by the government and overseas purchasers, including Shania Twain.

The result was that properties with good views or close to lakes had to pay much higher rents which were completely unrelated to the earning capacity of the land.

In a media release, High Country Accord chair Jonathan Wallis said that farmers had never sought anything other than a fair rent which reflects the rights and obligations of the parties under the leases.

 “The new system brings transparency and certainty to a process that was becoming increasingly complex and costly to implement correctly.” 

Perhaps the last significant alienation of Crown land, pastoral leases were created under the Land Act 1948. They were seen as the ideal form of tenure set to balance the relative demands of pastoralism, with the needs of conservation in lands already identified as requiring separate management to other classes of rural land. 

“The purpose of the legislation, created more than 60-years ago, remains as valid today as it did then,” says Mr Wallis. 

“The Crown chose to retain an interest in how the land was managed through constraining the land use through the terms of the lease and the provisions of the Land Act. However, although the Crown retained an interest in how the land was managed, the majority of rights to the land were retained by the lessees, not unlike freehold ownership.” 

“The incentive for farmers to invest and transform what were once termed ‘wastelands of the Crown’ into economically and environmentally sustainable enterprises came in the perpetually renewable nature of the lease, implicit that rent could only be charged against the unimproved pastoral proposition with all improvements remaining the property of the lessee.” 

The contractual nature of the lease meant considerable consultation between the Government and the lessees was required to ensure the balance of property rights remained unchanged from one system to the next.

Mr Wallis says it would be wrong to assume that agreement was reached on every last component but he has acknowledged the extremely high standard of input and review from independent experts in developing this policy.

He says the challenge of moving to a different system of setting rents with more transparency was to leave the essential property rights of high country farmers unchanged.

“The new system does not change the fundamental nature of the lease but unlike the current system for setting rents which has a fixed rental rate, the new system incorporates a variable rate to allow the rent to more closely follow the economics of pastoral farming.”

 “The current policy towards Crown Pastoral Land is a refreshing contrast to recent times which has certainly taken its toll on the high country community both from a social and financial perspective.”

 “The Government has looked to a rational solution for setting rents in accordance with the law and not in a manner which suits those who have a particular axe to grind from time to time. I applaud them for this sensible approach,” says Mr Wallis. 

Federated Farmers also welcomed the changes:

Federated Farmers is welcoming the Land Information Minister, the Hon Maurice Williamson’s, announcement approving a new system for setting rents for South Island high country pastoral leases.

“We think that the Earning Capacity Rent has the possibility to work effectively, so we’re welcoming it with cautious optimism,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers vice-president.

“The High Country Accord has been working arduously to get these new rents, which will be based on a property’s earning capacity and we’d like to congratulate them for their efforts.

“Although I’m optimistic about the changes, I’m slightly disappointed that we were unable to get greater relief for those facing back rents of up to five years.

“This will place a considerable financial burden on these farmers, but we’re happy to see that Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is prepared to accept the payments over five years.

The proposed changes announced by Minister of Land Information Maurice Williamson and Agriculture Minister David Carter require  legislation which the ministers hope to have before the house later this year.

Mr Williamson says the new system for setting rents takes into account a number of factors, including the productive capacity of the lease and pastoral economic conditions.

“The way rents are currently calculated is complicated and costly and often produces disputes over both the process used and the result,” he says.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the new system will provide greater certainty to farmers.

“It is simpler to administer, more transparent and provides a fair rent. It will allow farmers to get on with the job of farming and looking after the high country rather than fighting bureaucracy.”

There are 231 pastoral leases, mainly in Canterbury and Central Otago, which cover around 1.6 million hectares of pastoral land.

The ODT reports:

Modelling by Government officials shows the new system will not alter the total amount of rent it collects from lessees, but should remove disputes over the rent-setting process, which had prompted more than half the 231 South Island lessees to dispute their latest rent reviews.

The proposed system will base rents on farm productivity and current livestock values, which the Government says is a transparent and objective process.

This calculation would happen every 11 years and take into account a farm’s carrying capacity in its unimproved state, or base, then the subsequent increase in numbers, with the rent charged on a per livestock unit basis.

Under the land value based system, rent was calculated every 11 years at 2.25% of the value of land exclusive of improvements.

The two systems recognised that the Crown owns the land in an unimproved state but the lessee owns the improvements such as fertiliser, pasture, tracks, fences and buildings.

Forest and Bird isn’t as positive as farmers:

Forest and Bird South Island conservation manager Chris Todd said he had hoped the rentals would be based on a system that was more wide ranging.

“We were a bit disappointed that the review didn’t include the idea of rewarding good environmental stewardship with rental discounts.”

This would provide incentives for high country farmers to undertake activities such as carbon farming or retiring areas of the lease to protect fragile soils.

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`What we want is incentives to look after the land. It’s still an incredibly good deal for anyone who’s farming to get a rent that’s comparable for a whole farm to a unit in the city.”

Their main concern was the way in which these lands were cared for. There were a lot of issues such as wilding trees, pests, overgrazing and they were going backwards in their biodiversity, Mr Todd said.

It is not possible to make a comparison between pastoral leases and units in a city. Pastoral leases are for land exclusive of improvements, a principle which has been tested in the courts.

Leaseholders are restricted to pastoral farming. They require permission for any other activities and rents are adjusted if that increases the earning capacity.

The Crown didn’t want what they described as “wastelands” when the leases were established and it’s farmers’ good stewardship which has protected the often fragile environment on these high country properties.


Twigs and Tweets twitty idea

August 1, 2010

Federated Farmers didn’t go so far as to call Forest and Bird’s suggestion that the government created a dryland bird park in the Mackenzie basin twitty, they had a much better idea.

Feds has invited F&B to go onto the open market and buy land for the park itself

I’m taken aback by how misinformed Forest & Bird seem to be about High Country farming, conservation and tenure,” says Graham Reed, Federated Farmers High Country chairperson.

“By 2008, High Country farmers had voluntarily protected over 13,000 hectares in 42 QEII National Trust covenants around Central Otago, Waitaki, Queenstown-Lakes and the Mackenzie.

“I’m reliably told that Black Stilts are actually thriving with irrigation. Even if we put together all the irrigation we have or is planned, this comprises less than five percent of the Mackenzie.

“The landscape is already modified after 150 years of grazing. Without livestock, Forest & Bird won’t end up with a drylands park, but a park for rabbits, hieracium and wilding conifers.

“Yet I doubt many farmers would have an issue with Forest & Bird if it raised money from its supporters to buy High Country farms on the open market. Except Forest & Bird’s advocacy people expect the taxpayer and the State to do its bidding for it.

As many a farmer has discovered, buying the land is only the start of the expense and at least they have income to offset the expenditure.

We already have about half the South Island in conservation land and can’t afford to look after that properly. Even if the economy was in much better shape it would be reckless to add the expense of buying and maintaining yet more conservation land to the national accounts.

Instead of looking to the state, Forest and Bird should look to their own resources and work with landowners to protect habitats for birds.


Possums down, birds up

November 28, 2009

What’s bad for possums is good for native birds.

The extermination strategy has resulted in a drop in possum numbers from 60 to 70 million in the 1980s to around 30 million and as possum numbers have decreased, native bird populations have increased.

Forest and Bird spokeswoman Helen Bain said the drop was a factor in exploding numbers of tui in the Wellington area. “We’re getting a lot of anecdotal reports that numbers are up. I was in town the other day and I would have seen about 20 of them.”

Possums would raid the nests of native birds, such as tui, taking eggs, chicks and sometimes even adult birds, she said. “If we get possum numbers down, native birds and plants come back big time.”

One of the methods used to control possums is drops of 1080 poison which is controversial. Hunting and trapping are used where possible but 1080 is the only practical method of extermination in some areas.

Possums not only destroy trees, they eat birds eggs and compete with some native species for food.

They also carry bovine tuberculosis which can infect farm animals.

Their fur, now known as paihamu in the fashion industry, is wonderful by itself or mixed with merino wool. But the animals are pests and if 1080 is the only way to protect our forests, native birds and farm animals from them then this is one case when the end justifies the means.


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