Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

09/01/2019

Chucks empire lays golden egg – Bryan Gibson:

For many in business 1987 was a bad year but for Max Bryant it was the beginning of something special.

Under pressure from the bank over a kiwifruit development that hadn’t panned out Bryant decided to build a chicken shed at home in Halcombe, the small Manawatu settlement where he lived.

Thirty years later he has sold the company, Proten, for $400 million.

Bryant estimates about $60m of that will stay with shareholders in the district, who were ground-floor investors.

He admits Proten has come a long way since that first shed was built out the back. . . 

A new wave of stress relief – Luke Chivers:

The Gisborne farming community is testing the waters this summer and seeing how surfing can be used as a way to let off steam.

Staff at AgFirst have created a programme dubbed Surfing for Farmers to help rural communities reduce stress and it works, AgFirst consultant and programme founder Stephen Thomson said.

“When you get off the farm and into the water it’s like taking a plunge into another world.

“For an hour or two you forget about everything else.” . . 

It’s time to look at soil health – Dr Han Eerens:

Spare a thought for soil — arguably our most underappreciated natural resource.

Globally, 95% of the food we consume comes from the earth. Soil serves as the earth’s largest natural water filter helping supply the world with fresh, clean water. Additionally, one-quarter of the world’s biodiversity — including millions of microbes which are key to the success of today’s antibiotics — are found in soil. Yet despite all this our soil is being destroyed at a rapid rate. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication is far from done and dusted – Keith Woodford:

There is a widespread belief in both the rural and urban communities that Mycoplasma bovis is well on the way to being eradicated from New Zealand. My response here is that there is a still a long way to travel before any declarations of success are appropriate.

In December, Prime Minister Ardern, no doubt choosing her words carefully and based on official advice, talked of ‘substantial progress’.  However, the broader tone of both MPI and DairyNZ messaging has led to parts of the media and then the general public taking a further step and concluding that the battle is almost over. . . .

A career in dairy might be more different than you think

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer of Farm Source and Global Operations, Robert Spurway, says a career in dairy doesn’t necessarily mean milking cows.

According to Primary ITO chief executive Dr. Linda Sissons, one in five applicants for their new dairy apprenticeship programme are from Auckland. The programme, in partnership with Federated Farmers, is responding to the need for an estimated 17, 000 new workers by 2025. It will encourage more smart, innovative and ambitious people – including those from urban centres – to consider a career on a dairy farm.

This is great news because with increasing animal welfare, environment, and compliance requirements, number 8 wire will only go so far. Today, our farmers need to be everything from agronomists, environmental scientists, veterinarians to high-tech experts. . . .

New Wanaka A&P Show campaign explores what it means to be “local”:

The Wanaka A&P Show today launches a timely campaign about the sense of community and what it means to be a local in Wanaka.

The ‘Call Me Local’ campaign is a tongue-in-cheek inquiry into the tricky question of ‘how long does a person have to live in Wanaka before they’re considered a local?’

Correspondingly, Wanaka is experiencing significant growth, development and change – leading residents to prioritise the sense of ‘community’ even more. The Wanaka A&P Show campaign acknowledges this to remind people about the importance of being part of a community. . . .


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