Rural round-up

September 27, 2013

New funding for Global Research Alliance projects in Latin America:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $800,000 in funding for two new Global Research Alliance projects in Latin America.

Mr Guy made the announcement during his speech at the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture conference in Buenos Aires, involving Agriculture Ministers from across the region.

“This funding will support two regional livestock greenhouse gas research projects in Latin America – one looking at dairying in the Andes with Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia, and the other looking at trees on farms in Central America with Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras.”

“This additional funding recognises the growing importance of this region to New Zealand,” says Mr Guy. . .

New Zealand ‘beefs’ up presence in China:

The growing appetite for beef in China – which can’t be met by domestic production in the near-term – is good news for New Zealand exporters, according to a new industry report.

In its report, ‘Australia and New Zealand beef up their presence in China’, agricultural banking specialist Rabobank says Chinese beef consumption is expected to continue growing at a faster pace than domestic production, increasing the reliance on imports to satisfy demand.

Report co-author, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matt Costello warns however, that while the New Zealand beef industry sees long-term growth and potential within the Chinese market, so too do competitors from around the world. . .

Icelandic fishing industry has some lessons for New Zealand’s commodity sector – Allan Barber:

Ogmundur Knutsson, Dean of the school of business and science at Iceland’s University of Akureyri, was in New Zealand in early September to give a keynote speech at the conference Charting Pathways for Maori Industry Future.

He is an expert in the Icelandic fishing industry which has moved from a low cost, harvest-driven model to a market-driven, value added model within the last 40 years. He believes New Zealand is trapped in the same low-cost industry operating model that existed in Iceland and needs to change its thinking to lift the fishing industry’s profitability.

The dramatic improvement in Icelandic fishing returns since it changed from the old, low value, largely frozen model to a new high tech, mostly chilled model provides a very good lesson for our fishing industry. Without having any firm knowledge base of how our fishing industry operates, I was struck by the philosophy which appears to have potential to be applied to other New Zealand commodity sectors, such as the meat industry. . .

Deepwater Fish Stocks in Healthy State:

Reduced hoki catch limits over the past few years have paid off for New Zealand’s second most valuable fishery.

Increases in the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) levels, from 1 October, for a range of deepwater species, have just been announced by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.

Both the eastern and western hoki stocks are double the size required to produce the statutory maximum sustainable yield. The western hoki stock is now above the management target range set by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and the eastern stock is at the top of the target range. . .

Estates turn to barn conversions as farms struggle – Agrimoney:

Owners of UK country estates are turning to commercial opportunities, such as office lets, to boost takings in the face of a pressure on agriculture income which is “to continue”, Savills said.

Estate owners are – encouraged by a relaxation in May of UK planning laws, and by an acceleration in economic growth to 0.6% in the second quarter from 0.3% in the first – looking to non-agricultural areas such as turning barns into  industrial units to bolster income.

“The increasing optimism in the economic outlook is reflected in more enquiries to rent commercial space, which is helping to boost rents and reduce void periods and debtors,” Sophie Barrett at Savills said. . .

Good nutrition sets heifers up for lifetime performance:

With the first mating season for heifers coming up rapidly, good nutrition not only has a major role to play in getting replacement stock up to live weight targets, but also in the cow’s productive future.

Failure to achieve adequate mature live weight targets affects the heifer’s lifetime performance, starting with low conception rates and leading to lower milk production in the first lactation.

Yet a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 2013 concluded that between 86-92% of heifers were not achieving optimal weights. . .

New Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc already a Gold Medal winner:

The newly released Sacred Hill Orange Label Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is already amongst the gold medals, reflecting this year’s blockbuster vintage.

The wine received a gold medal and was selected in the Top 50 at this year’s New World Wine Awards.

Sacred Hill winemaker Tony Bish says the Orange Label Sauvignon Blanc 2013 showcases everything that was great about the Marlborough vintage, from the cool spring through the warm, dry summer and autumn.

“This year’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs sing with energy and are packed with bursting flavour and aromas derived from the long, idyllic summer,” he says. . .

Fine Wools Ease, Coarser Types Steady

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that the weaker New Zealand dollar played a small role in the South Island Wool auction of 10,300 bales this week, with supply and demand factors influencing sectors differently. There was a 90 percent clearance rate with the fine wool sector making up most of the passed in lots.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.53 percent compared to the last sale on the 19th September.

Mr Steel advises that compared to the last time offered on 12th September Merino Fleece 17 to 19 microns ranged from slightly easier to slightly dearer. . .


Rural round-up

September 21, 2013

Champions drive clean streams – Jon Morgan:

Ossie Latham introduces himself as a tree hugger. But he’s more than that. He’s a tree hugger who aims to get everyone in Manawatu’s Mangaone West catchment hugging trees with him.

He’s a farmer who headed to Auckland to make his fortune in business before retiring back home to a small farm.

And he’s also one of Alastair Cole’s community champions. Cole, Landcare Trust’s regional co-ordinator, looks for enthusiastic volunteers to drive environmental protection.

Three big projects are underway in the region, all with the aim of making the Manawatu River cleaner. . .

Global Beef Priorities Advanced at Five Nations Conference – says Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

International trade was front and centre of discussions at the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) conference in Cairns Australia last week.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chair-Elect, James Parsons led New Zealand’s participation in the annual conference of beef cattle producer organisations from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Chief Executive, Scott Champion and General Manager Market Access, Ben O’Brien also attended alongside three “young ranchers” Richard Morrison (of Marton), Pete Fitz-Herbert (of Hunterville) and Lauren McWilliam (of Masterton).

The key action item was the signing of a position statement on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. . .

Farmers face two-year wait for new green scheme – Johann Tasker:

Environmental schemes that reward farmers who look after the English countryside will be closed to most new applicants for two years as the government implements CAP reform, it has emerged.

In a move described by some critics as a “massive threat” to wildlife and the countryside, DEFRA has no plans to let farmers sign new agri-environment agreements during the whole of 2015 as the department develops a successor to its existing environmental stewardship scheme. . .

Minister attending Inter-American agricultural conference:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will depart for Argentina tomorrow to attend the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) conference.

“This will be a valuable opportunity to meet with my counterparts from Latin America, the US, Canada and the Caribbean, to discuss some of the issues and opportunities facing the agricultural sector across the world.

“Some of the issues covered will include the work of the Global Research Alliance of which New Zealand is a major supporter, and the importance of water storage and management.”

Mr Guy will also visit Uruguay and Paraguay to meet with officials and his Ministerial counterparts. . .

Bumblebee talents being recognised – Richard Rennie:

The humble bumblebee is about to get a boost for its pollination skills from scientists and farm retailers this spring.

For the first time Farmlands is selling commercial box hives of bumblebees to kiwifruit and avocado growers, while scientists celebrate funding for more research into the bee.

Farmlands’ Te Puna branch in western Bay of Plenty is the first to start marketing the bees. . .

Horses sell at a brisk trot – Murray Robertson:

THE annual horse fair at Matawhero yesterday attracted about 140 head, with a top price of $3500 paid for a nine-year-old gelding — and an almost total clearance.

Thirty “broken” horses were sold and about 100 “unbroken” changed hands.

Only about six animals remained unsold at the end of the three-hour sale. . .


Kyoto is the past

November 11, 2012

Quote of the day from Climate Change Minister Tim Groser:

“Kyoto is the past”, he said. “The future rests on getting countries outside Kyoto to start doing something serious about climate change.”

He said it would be wrong to tie the hands of a future New Zealand government for eight years while a single new treaty is negotiated.

The Kyoto Protocol was the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and reason.

It was a lot more about being seen to do something than actually making a difference.

It was riddled with inconsistencies and its one-rule-fits-all approach

The best thing done to address climate change is not anything achieved through the ETS imposed under Kyoto but the  New Zealand-initiated Global Research Alliance on agriculture greenhouse gases.

Instead of the tax-it approach taken by Kyoto and its supporters this initiative brings countries together to find ways to increase food production while minimising emissions.

Kyoto and its supporters take a negative approach, the Global Alliance takes a positive one.


Dare we hope?

April 13, 2012

Dare we hope that Rob Hosking is right:

. . . Underlying this appears to be a further calculation: that the Kyoto Protocol and its various policy offshoots is not going to be around, at least in its current form, by the time anyone has to make a decision on this. . . .

The Kyoto Protocol is the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and sense.

Initiatives like the Global Research Alliance which Climate Change Minister Tim Groser launched in Copenhagen are far more likely to do some good for the environment than the protocol which in some instances will do more harm than good.

Whether or not the suggestion that the protocol won’t survive is right, it does appear the government is sticking to its word that it won’t force agriculture into the ETS until the industry has the technology to counter emissions and our competitors face similar measures and the costs which go with them.


No point taxing what you can’t change

November 18, 2010

The government has always made it clear agriculture wouldn’t be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme unless our competitors did it too.

None of them have any intention of doing so in the near future and Climate Change Minister Nick Smith has given a very clear message that it’s unlikely we will either:

New Zealand farmers are unlikely to be brought into the emissions trading scheme in 2015 unless scientific advances are made in reducing animal emissions and our trading partners make giant strides in putting a price on carbon, the Government says.

Speaking at the Federated Farmers National Council yesterday, Climate Change Minister Nick Smith noted the Government had already said it would not proceed with the inclusion of agriculture and other sectors until it sees comparable progress from other countries.

Including agriculture here when it’s not done anywhere else will make our produce less competitive. It won’t make any improvement to global emissions and may even make them worse if production drops here and increases in other places where it is less efficient.

The requirement for scientific advances before agriculture is included is also important.

The point of emissions taxes is to change behaviour.

Science has not yet come up with anything which will help to reduce agricultural emissions so there’s no point taxing them.

This doesn’t mean New Zealand is doing nothing to fulfil it’s Kyoto commitments. The Global Research Alliance, which was a New Zealand initiative at the Copenhagen conference last year, is attracting praise and investment from around the world.


$45m for Global Research Alliance

December 17, 2009

New Zealand will contribute $45 million over four years to the Global Research Alliance on agriculture greenhouse gases, Climate Change Issues Minsiter Tim Groser and Agriculture Minsiter David Carter announced.

Ministers from 20 countries last night joined New Zealand to establish the Alliance which brings together public and private researchers.

“New Zealand is pleased to have been able to pull together such a diverse range of countries, including major players like the United States and India, to work together on finding practical solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. 

“This Alliance will be a credible force for ensuring the resources, research capability and international goodwill to reduce farm emissions while ensuring food production meets the demands of a growing world population,” says Mr Groser.

Founding Alliance member countries are Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

The Alliance – proposed by Prime Minister John Key at the UN General Assembly in September – has been heavily promoted by NZ ministers as a constructive initiative that brings developed and developing countries together on reducing emissions from livestock, cropping and rice production.

Mr Groser says the commitment is a significant step in boosting the profile of agriculture greenhouse gas research internationally.

“14 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture, but for New Zealand and parts of the developing world, that figure is much higher. There is an urgent need to develop technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration in agriculture while enhancing food security,” says Mr Groser.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the Government is confident the Global Research Alliance will help the world’s food producers keep their emissions to the minimum possible, and play an important role in overall global mitigation efforts.

“The Alliance is one of a suite of measures the Government is working on to address agriculture emissions, including the domestic Centre for Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Research, based at AgResearch, and the amended Emissions Trading Scheme passed last month.

“Other efforts include greenhouse gas footprint projects for primary producers and trials of carbon sequestration techniques such as biochar.

“The culmination of these measures will be a big step towards assisting New Zealand farmers to meet their climate change obligations,” Mr Carter says.

Global Research Alliance members will meet early in 2010 in New Zealand to establish working groups, and discuss priority setting and opportunities for encouraging participation.

Regardless of the motivation, international co-operation on agricultural research is a positive move.


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