Rural round-up

23/03/2021

Border exemptions for The Lion King show Government is not listening, farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural businesses affected by the severe seasonal labour shortage say the Government is not listening to their concerns, after it was revealed that 126 people involved in The Lion King play had been granted visas under the “other critical worker” category.

Owner of farm work agency, Hanzon Jobs, Richard Houston, said he felt his industry had been “disregarded”.

Kiwifruit grower and packer, Seeka chief executive, Michael Franks, said labour was going to be “very tight” next month, which meant people were working long hours and he was concerned about possible health and safety implications.

“It’s clear that the Government is not listening to us. I predict it’s going to get tighter, particular after Easter when we open our night shifts and we get our processing business up to speed,” Franks said. . . 

Unity needed to tackle rules -Annette Scott:

While it is encouraging that the Government has listened to the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, it is also the trigger reiterating that farmers must keep being heard, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The environmental reset facing the high country farming sector proved the underlying current in the presentations and discussions for more than 100 farmers and industry stakeholders who turned out for a field trip through the Lees Valley, North Canterbury, taking in Richon and McDonald Downs Stations.

The day followed the announcement by Environment Minister David Parker that the Government had accepted some of the group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led intensive winter grazing module to farm plans in the coming year, while also delaying implementation of the winter grazing rules.

In his presentation at the field day, Allen said the announcement was the result of farmers and industry front-footing action for farmer-led practical solutions that will achieve better results than arbitrary rules. . . 

Launching the New Zealand Dairy Story:

Our dairy story is one of Dairy Goodness for the World.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been developed in partnership with the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), with input from DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Dairy Women’s Network; with support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The development of the story established seven defining elements as part of the sector’s story:

Natural
New Zealand is favoured by nature when it comes to making milk, with a climate, soils and abundant water that create a perfect environment for growing grass. Our cows can access pasture year-round. Our geography means New Zealand is free from many pests and diseases, supporting healthy cows and allowing us to farm with a lighter hand. . . 

No more nail polish for woman who gave up life in accounts for organic farming – Lawrence Gullery:

Shannon Wright used to go to work wearing nail polish on her fingers but now she comes home with soil under her fingernails.

It has been almost five years since she swapped out her office job to start a business growing and supplying vegetables for farmers markets, organic food outlets and supermarkets in Hamilton and Cambridge.

“I used to work in accounts, payroll, HR, health and safety for a firm in Te Rapa but things started to change after I had Izabel, my third child.

“I went along to a permaculture course when she was nine months old and that really started the ball rolling. . . 

Farming families celebrate – Richard Davison:

Organisers of an annual celebration of rural history are crossing their fingers Covid-19 will not intervene again this year.

After having to postpone last year’s Century Farms event due to the Covid-19 lockdown, organisers said they were hoping a long list of patient participants would finally be able to celebrate in Lawrence this May.

The event, which celebrates families who have been farming their own land for 100 years or more, held its first and, until now, largest gathering in 2006, but was due to beat that record with 70 attending families spread over two weekends last year.

Century Farms chairwoman Karen Roughan said she was delighted only one family had dropped off that roster since, although it still left the three-day event vulnerable to a change in Covid-19 alert status. . . 

 

Sanatech Seed launches world’s first GE tomato – Maura Maxwell:

Sanatech Seed, the Japanese start-up behind the launch of the world’s first direct consumption genome-edited tomato, says the variety is the first of several it plans to develop with enhanced nutritional benefits.

The company’s Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato was developed using cutting edge CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. It contains high levels of Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.

According to Shimpei Takeshita, president of Sanatech Seed and chief innovation officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the exclusive distributor of the tomato, it contains four to five times more GABA than a regular tomato. . . 


Rural round-up

18/04/2016

Peninsula Farmers Win Supreme Title In 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Portobello sheep and beef farmers Brendon and Paula Cross have been named Supreme winners of the 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 15 (2016), the couple also collected the Otago Regional Council Quality Water Management Award, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 

Dairy Woman of the Year Finalists:

Three finalists for the prestigious Dairy Woman of the Year have been announced by the Dairy Women’s Network.

They are Westport based Landcorp business manager Rebecca Keoghan, Central West Coast dairy farmer Renee Rooney and Waihi based LIC farm solution manager Michelle Wilson.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers said judges had a hard time selecting the finalists for the fifth annual awards.

“Our nominees personify all that is good about the many and varied roles women play in the dairy sector up and down the country,” de Villiers said. . . .

A good yarn – Peter McDonald:

I had the opportunity to attend “A Good Yarn” – a workshop run by the Southland Rural Support Trust.

We delved into the topic of farmer’s mental health.

Financial pressures and on farm conditions both have been converging to ramp up the stress in our southern farming communities of late.

As I sat and listened, I started to realise that I ticked a few of these boxes.

For example stress can manifest itself in losing one’s temper at the most minor on farm “hiccups” .

I just thought that was normal. . . 

My genetically modified crops are everything an environmentalist should want – Bob Bartley:

I have been a farmer for more than 40 years and I have grown genetically enhanced (GE) crops since 1996. We grow corn, soybeans and canola, all of which are GE, as well as other crops that are not GE. I have seen many benefits to this technology through the years, but what is in it for the consumer? Safe, affordable food that’s better for the environment.

I really don’t consider the crops I grow to be ready-to-eat food, like apples, carrots or potatoes, but more like ingredients to make food products such as margarine, flour and feed for livestock. Government regulators and scientists wanted to be sure of the safety of GE crops right from the beginning. As a result, these crops have undergone testing far beyond that required for other new crop varieties. There have been about 2,000 published studies on GE crop safety. The results say that the GE crops grown today are as safe as any others. Some reports say they’re even safer. There have also been several studies that show how they reduce food prices, too — a direct result of higher farm yields. GE crops are one reason why North American consumers have the safest, highest quality and most affordable food in the world. . . 

English on the money – Rural Contractors:

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English in relation to the suitability and work ethic of some young New Zealanders is, unfortunately, correct.

Mr Levet was commenting on Mr English’s recent remarks to a Federated Farmers meeting, saying there’s a proportion of the work force that won’t work and are “pretty damn hopeless”.

“Bill English is right when he says that some younger New Zealanders, when offered the chance for work, won’t take it, can’t pass drug tests, or don’t have an appropriate drivers licence. . .

Otago’s merino wool could head to Norway – Brook Hobson:

Two companies with histories dating back more than 120 years could soon be partnering in an international merino wool deal.

Armidale Merino Stud, based in Otago, has been in the Paterson family since 1880 and Simon Paterson is the fifth generation to run the farm.

Devold of Norway, a company founded in 1853, is looking to partner with the stud to use its merino wool. . . 

Young farmer in to win national competition:

When Logan Wallace first joined Young Farmers, one of his goals was to reach the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest.

Eight years later, his dream has been realised following his recent victory in the Otago-Southland regional final in Wyndham.

A member of Clinton-South Otago Young Farmers Club, Mr Wallace (26) will now line up against the six other regional final winners in the grand final in Timaru in July. . . 

Awards night soon:

It’s nearly time for the New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards.

The function for the latest awards will be held in Lawrence next month, with 34 families being formally recognised for farming on their land for 100 or more years.

Chairman Symon Howard was delighted with this year’s result, saying it was great to see that, after 11 years, high numbers of new applications were still consistently being received. . . 

New forestry leader:

Peter Clark, the chief executive officer of PF Olsen Ltd, has been elected president of the Forest Owners Association (FOA).

He replaces retiring president Paul Nicholls. George Asher, chief executive officer of the Lake Taupo Forest Trust, has been elected vice-president.

The association’s members own the majority of New Zealand’s plantation forests. It works closely with the Farm Forestry Association and is administrator for the Forest Levy Trust Board, which represents the interests of all forest owners. . . 

Bennett supported by forest owners at New York signing:

Forest owners say the formal adoption of the Paris climate change agreement in New York Friday [22 April] will potentially have great benefits for both plantation and natural forests world-wide.

Climate change minister Paula Bennett will be in New York to sign the agreement along with representatives from 130 other countries.

Forest Owners Association president Peter Clark says getting signatures on the agreement is yet another step in a long journey. The agreement will come into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries – representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Seafood opens new processing plant:

Ngāi Tahu Seafood officially opened a new purpose-built facility in Bluff today – 15 April.

This new facility represents a significant investment in the local community and wider Southland district and it is expected to provide new employment opportunities.

Ngai Tahu Seafood Ltd has operated in Bluff since 1992 in a number of used facilities (three in total). In 2013 the decision was made to build a new purpose-built facility which would be future proofed to enable for expansion for all species and formats such as live fish, crustaceans and shellfish and / or fresh chilled and frozen products. . . 

 


GE has place in NZ

08/04/2014

The audience at the annual Kim Hill Earth Hour debate decided there is a place for genetic engineering in New Zealand.

. . . Ninety minutes of pros, cons and broad views presented by panellists Tony Conner (AgResearch),  Robert Cruickshank (Lincoln University) and Richard Newcomb (Plant and Food Research) on one team and Christine Dann (Organics Aotearoa), Philip Gregan (NZ Winegrowers) and  Jon Hickford (Lincoln University) on the other, with close interrogation of them all by Kim Hill, was followed by 30 minutes of questions from the audience.  Chairwoman Sarah Walters, Deputy Mayor of Selwyn, then invited the audience to indicate by “noise” how they felt on the question.

Sarah ruled that the “ayes” were “slightly louder” signalling that genetic engineering should stay on New Zealand’s agenda “as a research opportunity” but with the provisos that it be well regulated, that consumers have a choice between GE and non-GE through strict labelling, and that the role of large overseas corporate organisations funding, and thereby influencing, research, be curbed. . .

Richard Newcomb added that the “GE debate has become completely intertwined with the anti-big business debate and with the notion of big business controlling food production and supply.” . . . .

He’s right – many of those opposed to GE are on the left of politics and also opposed to what they label big business.

Defending the environment, Christine Dann said she believed genetic engineering was “ecologically dangerous and too risky.”

“If everyone had their own little garden and grew their own vegetables the problem would be solved,” she said.  . .

If she is right, and I don’t think she is, Would she care that a whole lot of other problems would be created including job losses?

New Zealand is taking a very cautious approach to GE which is as it should be.

But the vehement opposition to it is based on emotion not science.

That a majority of the audience gave cautious support, albeit with provisos, to GE gives some hope that science might win.

 

 


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