Rural round-up

17/08/2020

More action less reports:

What is it with the current Government and its infatuation with setting up committees and producing endless reports?

In the past three years, in the primary sector alone we’ve seen committees established and reports produced on the future of the primary sector, freshwater reforms, wool and agritech – to name just a few.

As one can expect from any type of government-induced report, most of these were heavy on slogans and rhetoric, but lacking in real detail or implementation.

However, one of these reports – and probably the one that will most impact on the primary sector – relating to new freshwater regulations passed into law last week. . . 

United front against UN’s call to eat less beef – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is right behind the global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef taking a stand on the United Nations call to eat less beef.

The UN has published claims that the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies.

The Global Roundtable is taking a stand on this and is raising its concerns directly with the UN.

The NZ Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) is right behind condemning the UN campaign and its accusations of the impact of the meat industry on the environment.  . . 

A fake meat future? Yeah right – Sam McIvor:

There has been a healthy debate about the future of red meat over the past few weeks.

But anyone who claims that farmers have their head in the sand is well wide of the mark and we need to set the record straight.

Yes, farmers, like all New Zealanders, have seen the rise of alternative proteins in the supermarket aisles and on restaurant menus. Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s own research two years ago acknowledged alternative proteins were likely to become major competitors.

However, the study also showed the same forces driving investment in and demand for alternative proteins – including concerns about industrial (feedlot) farming, health concerns arising from the use of hormones and antibiotics, the environment and animal welfare – offer an opportunity to differentiate New Zealand red meat internationally. . .

Revenue fall for Central North Island drystock farmers – Gerald Piddock:

The lingering effects of the recent drought are set to hit the pockets of Central North Island sheep and beef farmers after a new report projects a significant fall in revenue this season.

AgFirst’s Central North Island Sheep and Beef Survey is forecasting a 22% fall in cash income compared to last season because of lower lambing percentages and expectation of reduced prices for lamb, wool and cattle.

The fall in income meant farm profit before tax was down 57%, AgFirst sheep and beef consultant Steve Howarth said in presenting the survey during a webinar: “In absolute terms, we have come from $112,000 in the previous year down to $48,000 profit for 2020-2021.” . . 

Taking NAIT seriously – Sudesh Kissun:

North Otago calf rearer Jared Ovens believes the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak has led to more farmers embracing animal traceability.

Ovens says farmers are now realising the value of traceability and it does not pay anymore to take shortcuts.  

“I think those who are less willing to change are the minority and some have since got out of the industry as a result.”

For Ovens, calf rearing is a part-time job.  . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price Fonterra sets for raw milk supplied by farmers which is currently forecast to be between $7.10 – $7.20 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019/20 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review the calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). The regime is designed to provide Fonterra with incentives to set the base milk price consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 

The Covid diaries: from business owner to grapevine pruner – Maia Hart:

Covid-19 has disrupted New Zealand and the world. People have died, jobs have disappeared and borders have closed. This Stuff project follows seven people or groups of people in the year after New Zealand moved to alert level 1. How does the shadow of the virus hang over their everyday lives?

Stuff journalists will revisit them at key moments over the year, reporting on the Covid recovery through the lives of these Kiwis. The first in the series introduces the people taking part.

A self-proclaimed “people person”, Duncan McIntyre says he struggles to not be doing something.

When borders shut in order for New Zealand to fight Covid-19, McIntyre’s shuttle business, which generally operated out of Marlborough Airport, came to a halt “overnight”. . . 

WA spared grain harvest disaster as rain falls ‘just in the nick of time’ across state – Daniel Mercer and Belinda Varischetti:

Widespread rains that fell across southern Western Australia this month have saved the state’s grain growers from potential disaster, with predictions there could even be a bumper harvest.

In its latest outlook on the summer crop, the Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) said recent rains that drenched large parts of the state’s wheatbelt had fallen “just in the nick of time” and turned the season on its head.

Prior to the rains, many parts of southern WA had effectively been in drought following years of lower-than-average falls and a record dry start to the winter. . . .


Rural round-up

06/08/2020

No tears over RMA overhaul – Peter Burke:

News that the controversial Resource Management Act (RMA) is to get a complete overhaul has been welcomed by many primary sector organisations.

Last week, Environment Minister David Parker released a report by a panel headed by retired Appeal Court Judge Tony Randerson which proposes that the Act, which has been in operation for thirty years, should be scrapped and replaced by two new laws – a Natural Built Environment Act and a Strategic Planning Act.

Its recommendations include a proposal for each region in the country to put forward a combined development plan, consolidating the myriad of local council plans that currently exist.

At present there are about 100 policy statements and plans put up by local authorities and under the new proposal there would be just 14 combined regional and district plans. . . 

United front over UN’s call to eat less beef – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is right behind the global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef taking a stand on the United Nations call to eat less beef.

The UN has published claims that the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies.

The Global Roundtable is taking a stand on this and is raising its concerns directly with the UN.

The NZ Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) is right behind condemning the UN campaign and its accusations of the impact of the meat industry on the environment.  . . 

Farm changes help environment:

Fifty dairy farms in Canterbury’s Selwyn and Hinds catchments are taking part in a five-year DairyNZ project influencing change on hundreds of farms in the region.

One of the partner farmers, Tony Dodunski, operates close to a lake considered one of New Zealand’s most important wetland habitats and has, just two years into the project, made great gains in reducing nitrogen loss.

Dodunski owns Beaumaris Dairies, a 219ha farm near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, and has cut his nitrogen loss from 32kg per hectare to 17kg per hectare: “Our plan requires us to achieve a 30 per cent reduction by 2022, so we are already well over that,” he says.

His property – low-lying and with more than 10km of drains feeding into an 11km wetland at its lowest point – borders a Department of Conservation (DOC) reserve near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. . . 

Wetland aims for water quality rise:

Fifteen years ago, South Taranaki dairy farmers Donna and Philip Cram began their environmental journey by wanting to stop finding cows stuck when walking through streams on their property.

Now the couple’s passion for sustainable farming practices, improving environmental and water quality, and a predator-free district, has seen them aiming to set up a catchment group in the Oeo Catchment.

Donna has had national and regional roles in DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders – and they’ve galvanised their farming and school communities. . . 

Cheesed off by cheap imports – Sudesh Kissun:

NZ cheesemakers are banking on anti-dumping legislation to bolster their battle against cheaper imported cheeses.

Simon Berry, managing director of Whitestone Cheese and spokesperson for New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association on EU tariffs and trade, says up to 25% of retail cheeses are imported – mostly subsidised European cheeses.

With imported cheeses often selling for around half the price of local ones New Zealand producers are struggling.

Berry says Kiwi cheese producers can’t compete with cheap European product flooding into the market and wants an anti-dumping duty to be placed on some imported speciality cheeses. . .

How one woman fell in love with dairy farming:

When Daisy Higgs first moved to New Zealand from England more than 15 years ago she never thought she’d end up falling in love with farming.

But now the 25-year-old says she can’t imagine another way of life, and she’s encouraging other Kiwis to give it a go too.

After developing a love of animals while growing up with her family on a lifestyle block in Taranaki, Higgs decided to major in animal science at Massey University.

However, when she realised there were more jobs in the agriculture sector she shifted her focus, finishing her studies with a major in agriculture and a minor in animal science. . . 

Red meat is not the enemy – Aaron E. Carroll:

There are people in this country eating too much red meat. They should cut back. There are people eating too many carbs. They should cut back on those. There are also people eating too much fat, and the same advice applies to them, too.

What’s getting harder to justify, though, is a focus on any one nutrient as a culprit for everyone.

I’ve written Upshot articles on how the strong warnings against salt and cholesterol are not well supported by evidence. But it’s possible that no food has been attacked as widely or as loudly in the past few decades as red meat.

As with other bad guys in the food wars, the warnings against red meat are louder and more forceful than they need to be. . . 


Rural round-up

01/12/2017

Essential to keep close watch on alternative products – Allan Barber:

This is the year when plant based alternatives to dairy and meat have suddenly started to pose a more serious threat to the traditional animal based products on which New Zealand farmers, and our economy as a whole, depend. There is no danger these alternatives will suddenly take over the world, leaving dairy and sheep and beef farmers wondering what to do with their stranded assets. But, to prevent being taken unpleasantly by surprise, it will be necessary for the dairy and red meat sectors to keep a close watch on these competitors and track their progress with global consumers.

Perfect Day is a San Francisco based start-up company which has developed what it claims is a ‘cow-free milk’ that tastes like the real thing because it contains casein and whey produced by inserting a cow’s DNA into a particular strain of yeast and mixed with plant based nutrients and fats. The result is a lactose free milk alternative which uses 65% less energy, generates 84% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 91% less land and 98% less water. . . 

How can we make dairy sustainable – Keith Woodford:

The big challenge for New Zealand dairy is how it can become sustainable in the coming decades. This sustainability includes both financial and environmental sustainability. And it needs to occur in the context of both scepticism and some antipathy from within the urban community.

One of the challenges for our new Government is to come to terms with the extent to which dairy and indeed the broader pastoral industries provide a key pillar that underpins the export economy. Without a vibrant export economy, there is no practical way we can address poverty and inequality within Zealand.   However, that is not the way that many New Zealanders currently see it.  And therein lies the challenge.

I live in an urban community, and my assessment is that most urban people think we do have too many cows.  When I ask what alternatives they recommend, the responses are typically naïve. . . 

Cutting down on cow burps to ease climate change – Eloise Gibson:

In a cream-colored metal barn two hours north of Wellington, New Zealand, a black-and-white dairy cow stands in what looks like an oversize fish tank. Through the transparent Plexiglas walls, she can see three other cows in adjacent identical cubicles munching their food in companionable silence. Tubes sprout from the tops of the boxes, exchanging fresh air for the stale stuff inside. The cows, their owners say, could help slow climate change.

Livestock has directly caused about one-quarter of Earth’s warming in the industrial age, and scientists from the U.S. departments of agriculture and energy say bigger, more resource-heavy cattle are accelerating the problem. Contrary to popular belief, cows contribute to global warming mostly through their burps, not their flatulence. So about a dozen scientists here at AgResearch Grasslands, a government-owned facility, are trying to develop a vaccine to stop those burps. “This is not a standard vaccine,” says Peter Janssen, the anti-burp program’s principal research scientist. “It’s proving to be an elusive little genie to get out of the bottle.” . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand elected onto Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef board of directors:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has been elected on to the Board of Directors of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) for a two-year term.

The GRSB is a global initiative developed to advance continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science, engagement and collaboration.

“This is about B+LNZ on behalf of New Zealand beef farmers and the wider industry stepping up into a global leadership role,” says CEO Sam McIvor. “It is also recognition of the high st anding of New Zealand and our beef farmers when it comes to sustainability globally. . . 

Enhancing native biodiversity in agroecosystems:

Project 3.3

Leaders: Professor David Norton (University of Canterbury) and Associate Professor Hannah Buckley (Auckland University of Technology)

Mission Statement

This project aims to rebuild structure and enhance ecological function of native biodiversity on sheep and beef farms in Aotearoa New Zealand. By working with universities, research institutes, regional councils, iwi and farming communities across the country we will gain a well-rounded view of social and cultural attitudes towards biodiversity in agroecosystems. We will fill gaps in the current knowledge regarding how biodiversity contributes to ecological processes, economic outcomes and human well-being across these farming landscapes. By doing so we will learn how to manage biodiversity in agroecosystems in a way that results in gains for both farming and nature conservation.

Summary

Sheep and beef farms make up nearly 40% of New Zealand’s landscape and play a vital role in our economy. We know that native biodiversity can help agroecosystem resilience, but we don’t know what is required to create and support changes in how this biodiversity is regarded, protected and managed in agricultural landscapes. Given that these farms usually occur in the lowlands in New Zealand – where there is the least native biodiversity remaining – they might be the only opportunity we have to sustain some of our taonga (treasured) species. . . 

NZ Dairy Industry Awards not just about winning:

The first solo female to win the Dairy Manager of the Year category in the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards believes her win proves that women are capable of being successful in senior roles within the dairy industry.

29-year-old Manawatu Farm Manager Hayley Hoogendyk says her success also shows that the dairy industry is a fast-changing environment that is always looking for the best result.

“One of the hurdles for women years ago was that farming required brawn and skills that supposedly only males possess. It is now obvious that there are a huge amount of aspects involved in dairy farming, some of which your ‘typical female’ is better at than most males,” says Hayley. . . 

 

From potato eaters to world leaders in agriculture – Priti Kumar & Fokke Fennema:

Van Gogh’s famous painting of Potato Eaters depicts a family of poor peasants seated around a dinner table eating their staple fare. The artist confessed that this work is deeply reflective of the hard work that Dutch peasants have to do to earn a bare meal. Van Gogh frequently painted the harvest and often compared the season to his own art, and how he would someday reap all that he had put into it. 

Since those difficult times in the late 1800s, the tiny country of the Netherlands (pop: 17 mill; about the size of Haryana state in India) has come a long way. Matching sheer ingenuity with technological prowess, the Netherlands today is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive countries, feeding people across the globe from its meager land area. Indeed, this small nation is now the world’s second-largest exporter of agri-food products including vegetables, fruits, potatoes, meat, milk and eggs; some 6% of world trade in fruits and 16% in vegetables comes from the Netherlands.

But how exactly did they do this? In October 2017, we went to find out. Our team – of World Bank and Indian government officials working on agribusiness, rural transformation and watershed development projects – sought to learn from Dutch experience and identify opportunities for future collaboration. We met farmer cooperatives, private companies, growers’ associations, academia, social enterprises, and government agencies, and gained fascinating insights. . . 

 


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