Rural round-up

17/03/2022

‘Unviable to grow produce’ in NZ: Farmers blame rising cost of energy, rates, wages, audits – Sally Murphy:

Increasing costs are putting a huge strain on vegetable growers, with some considering hanging up their tools.

Energy costs have almost doubled in the past year, the minimum wage has gone up and the price of on-farm audits are rising – making growing vegetables more expensive.

NZ Gourmet director of production Roelf Schreuder said the business needed to have audits for certification, water quality, chemical storage and health and safety, just to name a few.

“For certification for NZ Gap and Global Gap they come a couple of times a year and charge about $240 an hour to sit down and check the books, so growers are having to spend more time and money preparing for them as well as paying for the actual audit – it’s a big cost. . . .

Fruit and vegetables drive up annual food prices :

Annual food prices rose 6.8 percent in February 2022 compared with February 2021, Stats NZ said today.

This was the largest annual increase since July 2011 when prices increased 7.9 percent.

In February 2022 compared with February 2021:

  • fruit and vegetable prices increased by 17 percent
  • grocery food prices increased by 5.4 percent . . .

A farmer’s perspective:

After enduring COVID19 and isolating for 10 days, I was asked to give my opinion on how we managed the farm, family and staff.  Regardless of how people think of COVID19, whether it’s a she’ll be right mentality or you have ordered a pallet of Vitamin C along with toilet roll, the reality is you’re going to get sick.

We were prepared with a COVID plan.  We knew our legal obligations around milk pick up and we knew we needed to be a step ahead.  The virus hit us pretty hard and happened within a day of first contact. Within those first 24hrs I had rung our neighbours, our 2IC, Fonterra (area manager and milk collection), our bank, school and thereafter kept everyone updated.  We had a designated drop off point for food, medication and anything that was needed for the farm.  We were able to work most of the days out of necessity and kept away from our 2IC. We had to amend our milking times to be able to use a relief milker. To put things in perspective, adults were double vaxed with boosters. Kids not vaccinated. We still caught the virus but certainly didn’t need any outside medical intervention or Hospitalisation. COVID will affect people differently.

We got very sick and it was tough watching the kids going through it.  We lived on paracetamol, vitamins and electrolytes and we used my “My Food Bag”. We put the farm on sleep mode for about 5 days. We didn’t want to overwhelm staff with the extra workload so we kept the jobs to essential along with milking.  I would suggest checking your calendar and canceling all your appointments. We had a shed inspection during COVID but all went well. In hindsight I would have cleared the calendar.  We did have people call to the door and had to tell them our situation, most were thankful for our honesty, some were less than pleased.  Public perception has shown me people are scared and nervous.  At one point when the fever hit hard and the body ached and every orifice was evacuating someone drove into the driveway and I sure I heard, bring out your dead!  But after day 6 we were on the mend.  . .

Fonterra reports its Interim Results :

  • Total Group Revenue: NZ$10,797 million, up 9%
  • Reported Profit After Tax NZ$364 million, down 7%
  • Normalised Profit After Tax: NZ$364 million, down 13%
  • Total Group normalised EBIT: NZ$607 million, down 11%
  • Net Debt: NZ$5.6 billion, down 8%
  • Total Group normalised Gross Profit: NZ$1,607 million, down 7%
  • Total Group normalised Gross Margin: 14.9% down from 17.4%
  • Total Group Operating Expenditure: NZ$1,062 million, up 1%
  • Normalised Africa, Middle East, Europe, North Asia, Americas (AMENA) EBIT: NZ $250 million, up 25%
  • Normalised Greater China EBIT: NZ$236 million, down 20%
  • Normalised Asia Pacific (APAC) EBIT: NZ$158 million, down 33%
  • Full year forecast normalised earnings per share: 25 – 35 cents per share
  • Interim Dividend: 5 cents per share
  • Forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: NZ$9.30 – $9.90 per kgMS
  • Forecast milk collections: 1,480 million kgMS, down 3.8%

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced its 2022 Interim Results which show the Co-op has delivered a half year Profit After Tax of NZ$364 million, a Total Group normalised EBIT of NZ$607 million, and a decision to pay an interim dividend of 5 cents alongside a record high forecast Farmgate Milk Price.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the Co-op’s results for the first half of the financial year show it is performing well, while creating the momentum needed to achieve its 2030 targets. . .

Māori owned dairy company, Miraka, has appointed global food industry executive, Karl Gradon, as its new CEO :

Chairman, Kingi Smiler has welcomed Mr Gradon’s appointment which followed an extensive search.

“We’re delighted to appoint Karl as our new CEO. He has solid credentials and international experience in business development and strategy across the dairy, agricultural and primary industry sectors.”

Karl spent nearly 20 years in the dairy industry with Fonterra and Kerry Ingredients holding Senior Management positions in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the USA.

Since returning home, he has taken up a range of governance roles and directorships in economic development and business. Karl was also CEO of New Zealand Mānuka Group helping that business grow its Mānuka honey and oil production.” . . 

Groundswell NZ proposes emissions reduction plan :

The proposals put forward under the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership are so unworkable that Groundswell NZ is proposing its own alternative, Groundswell NZ leader Bryce McKenzie said.

“None of the options are workable and, like the Emissions Trading Scheme, they will deliver worse outcomes for the environment, farmers, and our country.”

“We back Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard’s view, that none of the options are long term solutions and that an emissions tax, without affordable and practical new technologies, would kill off the farming sector.”

“Groundswell NZ’s alternative is an integrated environmental policy framework incentivising and enabling on the ground actions across all aspects of the environment, including freshwater, indigenous biodiversity, and emissions.” . . 

                                                                   

Ukraine – how the global fertiliser shortage is going to affect food – John Hammond & Yiorgos Gadanakis :

We are currently witnessing the beginning of a global food crisis, driven by the knock-on effects of a pandemic and more recently the rise in fuel prices and the conflict in Ukraine. There were already clear logistical issues with moving grain and food around the globe, which will now be considerably worse as a result of the war. But a more subtle relationship sits with the link to the nutrients needed to drive high crop yields and quality worldwide.

Crops are the basis of our food system, whether feeding us or animals, and without secured supply in terms of volume and quality, our food system is bankrupt. Crops rely on a good supply of nutrients to deliver high yields and quality (as well as water, sunlight and a healthy soil), which in modern farming systems come from manufactured fertilisers. As you sit and read this article, the air you breath contains 78% nitrogen gas – this is the same source of nitrogen used in the production of most manufactured nitrogen fertilisers.

However, to take this gas from the air and into a bag of fertiliser takes a huge amount of energy. The Haber-Bosch process, which converts nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia as a crucial step in creating fertilisers, uses between 1% and 2% of all energy generated globally by some estimates. Consequently, the cost of producing nitrogen fertiliser is directly linked to the cost of fuel. This is why the UK price of ammonium nitrate has climbed as high as £1,000 per tonne at the time of writing, compared to £650 a week ago.

Fertiliser inputs to farming systems represent one of the largest single variable costs of producing a crop. When investing in fertiliser, a farmer must balance the return on this investment through the price they receive at harvest. Adding more fertiliser, for a small improvement in yield, might not pay for itself at harvest. . .


Groundswell keeps focus

25/02/2022

Groundswell is keeping its focus on holding the government to account on unworkable regulations:

In recent days Groundswell NZ has been pulled in all directions over the protests currently in Wellington.

In response to suggestions that Groundswell NZ are going to Wellington – we can assure you this is not happening.

While we can sympathise with the anti-mandate protesters’ frustrations over the Government’s antagonism and lack of response, people must respect that we are an organisation for our rural community, advocating predominately on rural issues. As tempting as it is to line up in support of other causes, we need to stay focused on our core mission.

When Laurie and I established Groundswell NZ, it was in response to the unworkable regulations placed on hard-working Kiwi farmers. Although we have sympathy with those questioning mandates, it is not something Groundswell NZ is going to get involved in at this stage.

I know many Groundswell NZ members are against mandates. Others aren’t. And that is OK. We come together and fight for what we all agree on – the over-regulation and arrogance from the Government.

As an organisation, we’re tackling rural issues and don’t want to take away from our core mission – focusing on holding this government to account on unworkable regulations.

As farmers, we know first-hand how divisive this Government can be. We understand the frustration that many New Zealanders are feeling.

Behind the scenes, we are planning the next stages of what is going to be a sustained campaign to push back on unworkable regulations impeding rural New Zealand. I hope you’ll join our fight for rural communities and our way of life.

Watch this space and thank you for your support.

Bryce McKenzie, Groundswell NZ

Groundswell has always been clear on its focus and did all it could to keep those supporting its protests to stick to its messages.

A very small minority of people who joined the protests went off-message but the vast majority abided by Groundswell’s rules and kept the focus on its objectives.

The organisation is quite rightly not getting involved in the protest in Wellington which would be much more effective if it followed Groundswell’s example – strong leadership, clear messages and no tolerance for illegal actions.


Rural round-up

25/11/2021

Surge of demand for NZ meat, continuing supply chain disruption predicted for 2022 :

Disruption that has permeated primary sectors throughout 2021 will persist next year, a report from rural lender Rabobank says.

Demand was strong and set to grow further as economies continued to reopen, and balancing high costs through the supply chain would be a key challenge according to the Global Animal Protein Outlook report.

Rabobank global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard said changes within the market would be an opportunity for growth, rather than solely a risk.

“Rabobank sees agile business leadership as the most likely route to sustainable growth and is advising firms to embrace consumer preferences for sustainability and to be prepared for a surge in demand as economies continue to reopen and adjust following Covid-19-induced lockdowns.” . . 

Groundswell here to say – ODT Editorial:

It was always going to be a hard act to follow.

After the phenomenal turnout for Groundswell New Zealand’s Howl of a Protest in July — estimated nationally at around 60,000 people — the probability of a repeat performance seemed less likely.

Yet the turnout for the second protest event on Sunday, dubbed Mother of All Protests, showed the depth of feeling that continues to exist in the rural community, as horn-honking tractors and placard-bearing utes rolled into towns and cities throughout the country. From humble beginnings, dreamed up by a couple of concerned cockies in the South, Groundswell has become a juggernaut and that has brought its own difficulties.

Unable to manage all aspects of it, Groundswell has been forced to distance itself from controversy — as claims have been made linking it from everybody from Brian Tamaki to other anti-vaxxers — with social media unhelpfully helping to fuel the fire of misinformation. Throw in some particularly distasteful posts from agribusinessman Ross Townshend, a former Groundswell organiser in the North Island who should have known better and who has been kicked to touch by Tatua, the dairy company on whose board he was a director, and it has not helped the Groundswell name. . . 

Forget Groundswell: now farmers are in a real fight – Richard Harman:

Forget the tractors and the angry groundswell signs; the real battle between farmers and the Government kicked off yesterday when farmers got the formal proposal to price methane and nitrous oxide emissions from their farms.

The stakes, both political and economic, are huge.

That much was clear yesterday in the immediate reaction of Federated Farmers who even though they have been involved in developing the proposal offered it only a guarded welcome.

Farmers have been offered two schemes to consider; one which would price the methane according to a complex calculation based on the Farm Environmental Plan of how much methane their farm emitted. The other is a more straightforward levy on milk and meat delivered to processors. . .

No rest for the wicked at Less Valley Station :

The new farm manager at one of New Zealand’s biggest sheep and beef properties in North Canterbury has hit the ground running.

As well as getting up to speed with a holistic grazing system established by the farm’s US owners, Michael Whyte is also dealing with extensive damage to infrastructure caused by devastating floods in June.

The down-to earth farmer is relishing the challenge of running Lees Valley Station.

“I’m enjoying the valley life, but it’s also the climate. I love the seasonal changes. You get up in the morning and you don’t know if it’s going to snow or be 30 degrees. It’s really quiet and peaceful too,” he says. . .

Heritage vegetables, vintage tools, full skirts and bonnets – Guy Frederick:

It’s hard to believe that on September 1, 2020 there was nothing but a bare patch of ground where there is now a thriving vegetable garden.

Six months later, in the historic Totara Estate just south of Oamaru, bees were happily resident, herbs in full flower, and big, blood red, healthy beetroots were being pulled from the soil. It felt like the garden had been there for a mighty long time.

“We have to get cracking,” Alison Albiston had said in early September when she first visited the site, referring to summer’s imminent arrival.

Headhunted by Totara Estate Manager Keren Mackay and resident guide and cook Annie Baxter, Albiston jumped at the opportunity to get stuck into a project involving soils and plants, coinciding with her move into Oamaru after 45 years of country living at Burnside Homestead, inland from Oamaru, where Albiston and her husband Bruce lovingly restored the property to its original plans. . .

Halal certified red meat exports jump  :

Halal-certified red meat exports increased 13 per cent during the 2020-2021 season with most product going to non-Muslim markets, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported a total of 471,072 tonnes of halal product during the season (12 months ending 30 September) – 46.5 per cent of total red meat and offal exports. This compared to 417,323 tonnes during 2019-2020.

China was the largest market for New Zealand halal-certified red meat during the 2020-2021 season, purchasing 341,618 tonnes, 74 per cent of the total and a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.

The United States was the second highest with 20,042 tonnes, followed by Canada’s 18,945 tonnes, Indonesia with 17,604 tonnes, Saudi Arabia with 7,710 tonnes and Malaysia with 7,289 tonnes. . . 


Rural round-up

24/11/2021

Sometimes we forget where our watches come from – Peter Cresswell:

The weekend’s #Groundswell protests, and the #Groundswell movement itself, were intended to highlight the plight of the New Zealand farmer under an unsympathetic regime. Instead, however, the organisers have allowed it to become easily gaslighted as something it’s not. As racist, or anti-vax. 

And the important message has been lost: that it’s NZ farmers who allow us to live in first-world comfort — that it’s their exported produce that allows us to buy, at not unreasonable prices, all the technology of the world. As Ludwig Von Mises explained back before electronics took over:

The inhabitants of [Switzerland] prefer to manufacture watches instead of growing wheat. Watchmaking is for them the cheapest way to acquire wheat. On the other hand the growing of wheat is the cheapest way for the Canadian farmer to acquire watches.

The lesson remains the same. To paraphrase now, for us: . . .

‘It’s getting harder and harder to farm’ – Farmers rally for second protest :

Farmers and their townie mates are determined to keep pressuring the government to back off what they see as unnecessary expensive changes after Sunday’s nationwide Groundswell protests.

Driving tractors and utes, they clogged streets in all of the main centres on Sunday to have their say on the government’s Three Waters reforms.

It was the second time the Groundswell group had organised such action, calling the rally the “Mother Of All Protests”.

It was hard to get a handle on the exact numbers taking part, with everybody mostly remaining in their cars and socially distanced, but one thing was for sure: the protesters were rowdy. . . 

New coalition demands a halt to further large-scale exotic carbon farming :

The Native Forest Coalition representing the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Rod Donald Trust, the Tindall foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Adam Forbes, has released a policy statement and recommendations on native forests, highlighting the urgent need to halt the rapid proliferation of pine plantations driven by high carbon prices and short-term policy settings.

The Coalition strongly favours prioritising native forestry over exotics and argues that before seeking offshore carbon forest credits, government should invest in native forests, for their myriad of benefits, at home. The Coalition’s concerns are summarised in the policy statement below: 

“In tackling the climate change crisis, there’s an urgent need to move away from short-term thinking and siloed government policy. We need a shift towards joined-up strategies that also address the biodiversity crisis, the degradation of waterways and risks to rural communities.  . .

Online job expo hopes to entice seasonal workers for picking season :

A job expo which helps link job seekers with jobs in the horticulture sector is moving online this year.

Last year, Employment and Careers South held a series of expos around Southland and Otago to help those who found themselves unemployed due to the pandemic get jobs in the horticulture sector which was short staffed due to the border closure.

With summer just around the corner and the border still shut – some growers are still facing a worker shortage going into the vital picking season.

With Covid event restrictions the job expo called Super Summer Jobs has gone online this year. . . 

Hill Country Futures programme:

Innovative tools to support farmers and farm consultants in pasture planning are expected to become available next year as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot, who is leading several of the research areas that make up the programme, said findings from a number of projects are now being written up.

These include a simple model to help farmers forecast potential yields of lucerne for their properties, a national database of pasture growth data, and legume production data to help farmers assess the difference in productivity they could achieve by replacing resident pasture with improved pasture.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m partnership programme, co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds. . .

Manawa Honey wins four awards at the London Honey Awards 2021:

A small honey producer from Ruatāhuna, in the remote Te Urewera wilderness, crowned Best Tasting Honey in the World earlier this year, has now won four awards at the London International Honey Awards 2021.

Manawa Honey’s Manuka Honey and Tawari Honey won Gold, and their Rewarewa Honey and Pua-a-Tane Wild Forest Honey won Silver. The London Honey Awards attract hundreds of entries from over 30 countries across the world each year. Entries are judged on a range of criteria including the general sense of enjoyment, taste and appearance.

These achievements and awards are now snowballing for this honey producer that has its community rather than commerce alone at heart. Ruatāhuna is situated deep in Te Urewera forest, home to the Tūhoe tribe. It has a population of only about 350 people residents and is a one-hour drive from the nearest town, Murupara and two-hour’s drive from Rotorua. . . 


Seen but not heard

22/11/2021

Groundswell’s Mother of All Protests  went ahead as planned yesterday.

The ODT reports southern towns were swarmed by tractors, utes and other farm vehicles.

Similar numbers drove into towns and cities throughout the country.

In spite of attempts to paint Groundswell as anti-vax and racist, the overwhelming message was clear – farmers and the people and businesses that supply and support them have had enough of unworkable regulations.

The movement and its supporters are not environmental luddites.

We accept that mistakes have been made in the past and there is a need to ensure that they are not repeated and damage done is repaired.

It is the pace of change and the way it is being handled that is the problem.

What needed in one catchment isn’t necessarily what’s right for another.

But what has been proven to work in some places and will work in others is farmers and councils working together to clean-up past messes and to protect the land and waterways.

One farmer told me her family had been on the same farm for five generations and had no doubt about their responsibility to ensure that they farmed in a way  to ensure that future generations could continue their legacy.

Groundswell’s Howl of a Protest a few months ago and yesterday’s Mother of All Protests ensured the message was seen but the message from the government has been equally clear – it wouldn’t be heard because they don’t want to listen.


On-message must outnumber off-message

19/11/2021

Some people are hesitating about supporting Groundswell’s Mother of All Protests on Sunday.

The hesitation isn’t because they don’t support what Groundswell stands for, it’s that they’re worried about who else will join in and muddy the message.

Groundswell’s aims and concerns are well grounded and eminently reasonable:

Groundswell NZ is a volunteer group of farmers and rural professionals advocating for our Grass Roots farmers and rural communities

It all started with a tractor protest about the National Policy on Freshwater … but with overwhelming national support have grown to encompass:

  1. seeking a halt to, and rewrite of, unworkable regulations – freshwater, indigenous biodiversity, climate change and Crown Pastoral Land Reform bill (new regulation affecting high country farmers).
  2. a stronger advocacy voice on behalf of farmers and rural communities.
  3. seeking solutions to environmental issues that are tailored to regional/district differences.
  4. supporting the hundreds of grassroots initiatives like Catchment and Landcare groups, QEII covenants, and biodiversity and conservation trusts.

Those calling for the protest to be postponed or ditched altogether are concerned that people will use the opportunity to promote other unrelated causes.

Giving into this threat would be a like surrendering to a thug’s veto.

The protest is going ahead and therefore it is even more important that reasonable people with reasoned arguments against unreasonable policies show up and are seen.

The more of those on-message join the protest the less opportunity there will be for those off-message to feature.


Rural round-up

02/11/2021

Farmers want clarity over vaccine mandates – Gerhard Uys:

Farmers and farm advocacy groups say they are not receiving clear guidelines from the Government on how to navigate vaccine mandates and subsequent staff management for farm businesses.

Chris Lewis, national board member and Covid-19 spokesman for Federated Farmers, said Covid guidelines seemed to be a moving target.

“We have had no indication from [Government] what exact guidelines farm employers should follow. Farm businesses are no different to other businesses operating during uncertain times and need clarity. Are we allowed to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, what is safe and not safe, we don’t know,” Lewis said.

Lewis believed that businesses would begin to take the lead in determining requirements, with the Government playing catch up. Corporations like Fonterra have already begun setting some guidelines for milk suppliers to follow. . .

Farmer protest group keen to meet Jacinda Ardern for answers on new rules –  Rachael Kelly:

The leaders behind one of the biggest farmer protest group in New Zealand are seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and say they are sick of being ignored.

Groundswell NZ galvanised thousands of farmers in July and protests were held in 50 towns nationwide, but since then the Prime Minister has never directly responded to their concerns about some Government freshwater rules not being practical to implement.

Groundswell NZ founder Bryce McKenzie will be in Wellington next week, and it’ll be the second time the group has tried to get a meeting with Ardern.

“We’re hoping she’ll meet with us this time, because the people of New Zealand that turned out for our last protest have essentially been ignored,’’ McKenzie said. . .

 

A rule of thirds – Neal Wallace:

It was not their original intent, but Central Otago’s Lake Hawea Station is at the sharp end of what some termed contentious innovation. Neal Wallace meets manager David O’Sullivan.

DAVID O’Sullivan admits he needed an open mind as he oversaw the transformation of the Otago high country fine wool property, Lake Hawea Station.

The station manager says a combination of the skills of the staff, input from consultants and the branding and business backgrounds of owners Geoff and Justine Ross, founders of vodka company 42 Below, created a powerful team that is not wedded to a particular farming system.

That diverse thinking reflects the station’s shift to regenerative farming but also a different approach to managing carbon emissions and sequestration.. . 

Sustainability sells: strong wools’ half billion dollar export opportunity:

New Zealand’s strong wool sector is sitting on at least a half a billion dollar opportunity thanks to a wave of eco-consumerism, coupled with innovative Kiwi businesses pushing the limits of wool.

Since the 1980s the export price of strong wool has tanked from a high of around $10 a kilogram, to now just over two dollars. But as eco-consumerism rises and plastic products lose their popularity, a group of New Zealand businesses are ready to drive strong wool’s resurgence.

Strong Wool Action Group executive officer Andy Caughey says for the first time in forty years the market conditions are optimistic for strong wool, a courser fibre than the likes of fine merino, which is exceptionally resilient and versatile in its use for homewares. . .

Ravensdown renews sponsorship of NZDIA :

Entries to the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continue to be accepted online until December 1st as national sponsors continue to commit to the programme.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to confirm that Ravensdown have renewed their sponsorship for the next two years.

“Ravensdown bring a particular style to their sponsorship. They care deeply about farmers and this is obvious through the Relief Milking Fund and that they want to be involved with education and development of farmers’ businesses and careers,” says Robin. . .

DJAARA’s new land acquisition protects country and culture – Annabelle Cleeland:

Culturally significant Buckrabanyule, in North Central Victoria, has been purchased by Traditional Owners and conservationists, in a bid to be protected from further land degradation and development.

Located between Boort and Wedderburn, the land covers 452 hectares, and was recently purchased by conservation group, Bush Heritage, to be jointly managed with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA).

The land is infested with the invasive wheel cactus, a thorny pest plant that classified as a weed of national significance. Djarrak rangers have spent recent months working at the site to control the weed, using mechanical chemical and bio-control methods. . . 

 


Three Waters gift to Groundswell

28/10/2021

The government has given up on persuasion and is forcing its Three Waters reforms on us:

National understands the Government will force the Three Waters asset grab on councils and centralise local, ratepayer-owned water services, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“The Government will introduce a bill mandating their model, which would require every council to join one of the four proposed mega water entities and hand over control of their Three Waters assets.

“This move is tantamount to state-sanctioned theft of assets that ratepayers have paid for decades to own.

“Labour’s four-entity model is fundamentally broken.

“It will create needless bureaucracy, strip away local control, and put distance between communities and decision-makers. Water services will be controlled by a complex smorgasbord of unelected appointees and officials.

“Ratepayer-owned water assets will be bundled into these mega entities with virtually no accountability. The governance structure will be messy and confused.

“By forcing the Three Waters plans on councils, Labour would be expressly ignoring every mayor who pleaded for a pause, and the over 55,000 people who signed National’s petition calling for the plans to be dumped.

“National has feared this outcome for months.

“First, the Government tried a $4 million scare campaign of inaccurate cartoon ads, followed by a $2.5 billion slush fund to buy council support.

“Then Minister Mahuta took to Parliament to patronise councils, insult their intelligence, and preach the apparent virtues of an ‘all-in’ legislated approach forcing every council to surrender their water assets.

“Today’s announcement shows that all of the Minister’s earlier comments about ‘partnership’ were hollow, and her reassurances that councils could continue to opt-out were completely false.

“At a time when we need enduring, collaborative relationships between councils and the Crown, Labour’s legacy will be eroding trust and goodwill, and setting central and local government relations back by years, if not decades.

“National opposes the Three Waters asset grab. If Labour rams its plan through, we have committed to repealing the entity model when we form the next government in 2023 and returning seized water assets to councils.

“We’ll continue to fight Labour’s centralisation and control agenda. It’s vital we keep the ‘local’ in local government.”

Federated Farmers has serious concerns:

Rural residents concerned about the future of their water, sewerage and stormwater infrastructure should gear up to have their say, Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.

“Federated Farmers, a majority of local authorities and many New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans for council three waters assets to be transferred to four new mega entities.

“We remain opposed to this plan. The government’s announcement today that this will be mandatory is a huge call,” Andrew said.

Local Government Minister Nania Mahuta has said a working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts will be set up to work through design of how the new entities will operate.

“This group will have its work cut out to allay a multitude of concerns,” Andrew said.

“Top of the list for Federated Farmers are issues around governance and accountability. The complexity of rural water scheme ownership and operations has got rural people worried.

“How will the new entities ensure the needs of smaller and rural communities are not crowded out when setting investment priorities and plans?

“The proposed arms-length governance arrangements with directors appointed by panel, which are in turn appointed by yet another panel, weaken the accountability of water service entities to communities,” Andrew said.

There are also serious questions around the robustness of the government’s estimates of savings and benefits from moving to the new arrangements.

“The select committee process, and the public consultation that Minister Mahuta has promised, needs to be rigorous.

“Federated Farmers has already said this is cart before the horse stuff. We’re also in the middle of resource management reform and examination of the future of local government. The government has yet to convincingly demonstrate adequate planning and thought has gone into how the water services reforms integrate with these two very significant processes.” . . 

Don Brash says a government that imposes this is a dictatorship:

A Government that ignores reasoned opposition from local government by imposing 50/50 iwi-council co-governance through its Three Waters Plan is yet another step closer to a dictatorship.

Three Waters is the Government’s plan to establish four publicly-owned entities to take responsibility for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater from local councils.

Today, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed that the Government will force its Three Waters reforms on local councils after it was first pitched as voluntary .

Imposing a plan to give tribal representatives equal say with 67 councils over New Zealand water is outrageous.

Embedding 50/50 co-governance between councils and iwi who claim to represent 17 percent of the population is a major step towards creating a society in which everyone has to check their ancestry to work out their political rights.

Today’s imposition of the Three Waters Plan is a big step towards implementing the He Puapua Plan, which involves two governments under tribal control, one for Maori by Maori and the other a fully bicultural version of what we already have.

The forced introduction of Three Waters initially followed the prescription outlined in the He Puapua plan, which involved consultation with iwi groups first, then propaganda to soften up everyone else.

The frightening aspect of today’s imposition is that when councils expressed concern about asset confiscation and substandard representation, the Ardern Government went ahead and imposed it anyway.

This is an outrageous decision, and will cost the Government votes at the next election.

Councils are understandably angry :

Timaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen has today expressed extreme disappointment with the Government’s decision to mandate its Three Waters reform.

Mayor Nigel Bowen said that today’s announcement is a sad shift away from the principles of local ownership and accountability.

New Zealand’s social wellbeing should be underpinned by high-quality drinking water and reliable and safe wastewater and stormwater systems.

“We and our predecessor councils have invested strongly in our local water services over the past century on behalf of residents and we’re proud of our record,” he said.

“Timaru District has some of the best drinking water in the country, wastewater is properly treated and discharged, and stormwater systems are resilient.

“We remain committed to continual investment in our services to ensure that residents have the services they need and industry has the water it requires to grow.

“While we support the overall aim of the reform, we don’t think that the Government’s chosen model will deliver these aims. 

Few if any would argue against the aim of a sustainable way to ensure we all have clean water but there’s almost universal opposition to the government’s method of achieving that.

“We also support the right of our communities to hold us accountable – in fact, we think it’s crucial.

“When a pipe bursts in someone’s street or a stormwater drain is blocked, our residents know who to call. And if we don’t fix the problem then our residents also know who to blame.

“Our biggest issue with the reform is that it confiscates the accountability that all residents should be able to demand from their local authorities.

“After listening to the overwhelming response from our communities who don’t want local control taken away, we cannot in good faith support this model.

“However, we know that to make change, we have to have a seat at the table. In that regard, we are pleased to see the Government acknowledge the fundamental flaws with its reform, and intend to work with them to see if our concerns can be remedied.

“With the establishment of the working group, we hope that the Department of Internal Affairs forms an honest and open working relationship with Local Government rather than the opaque and seemingly predetermined exercise we’ve seen so far.”

“For the good of our community we have the expectation that the promised changes will be meaningful and deliver real local representation for people, rather than just be another PR exercise dictated by Wellington.

“Ownership in name only is a disservice to our residents and we hope genuine changes can be made to the reform for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

Marlborough District Council is similarly unimpressed:

“My reaction is one of great disappointment at the Government’s decision to make the Three Waters reform mandatory, as announced by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta this morning.”

“The Minister has stated the status quo is not sustainable and the case for reform is compelling. If this is the position why has there been no meaningful public engagement in the roll out of the reform proposals?”

“We provided the Government with constructive feedback on the reform proposal during the eight week period to 30 September 2021, as did other councils around the country.”

“In just three weeks the Government has analysed the feedback from 67 councils, leading many to the conclusion that the decision to mandate it had been predetermined.”

“The mandatory ‘all in’ approach to this reform will be a bitter pill to swallow for many in our community, judging by the feedback I have received over the past two months.”

“The Department of Internal Affairs has also confirmed that the boundary for Entity C and Entity D will be the Ngāi Tahu takiwā boundary but that water assets in South Marlborough will be ‘managed’ by Entity C. What is the logic in this?”

“We have been offered a few crumbs to address the widespread concern over the loss of local democratic influence and control, but it seems most of the decision has been largely taken away from our communities. In my view, this is a step too far.”

“However, the fight to exert a greater level of local control is not over – there will be two public submission and select committee processes over the next two years as the Water Services Entities Bill and Water Services Entities (Implementation) Bills progress through Parliament. There is a long way to go on this yet.”  

The government says this will save money?

How can it when it’s establishing a new and expensive bureaucracy?

And how will they pay for it?

They won’t be able to do it by rates as councils do. The only way they can do it is by metering.

Metering is user-pays and I’m not opposed to that in principle.

I am opposed to it being done by a body over which the public has no control and I am opposed to it being done in a way that means people in areas where councils have kept up their repairs, maintenance and replacement of water infrastructure will be subsidising those whose councils haven’t.

This is a gift to Groundswell which is planning the Mother of All Protests :

Groundswell NZ’s ‘Mother of all Protests’ will go ahead next month even if there are still Covid-19 restrictions in some parts of the country.

Groundswell NZ leader Bryce McKenzie said after the Covid-19 announcement from Jacinda Ardern on Friday, the group met online and decided to go ahead with the nationwide protest against some Government regulations, which the group says are unworkable for farmers.

“We’re going ahead. We’ve had an overwhelming response from our co-ordinators up and down the country. All we ask is that people stick to the rules, and stick to their own vehicles.’’

“If everyone does what they’re meant to do, there should be no problems,’’ he said.

The group wants freshwater improvement to be managed by catchment groups, and rules about significant natural areas and the ‘ute tax’ to be re-written or abolished. . . 

Support for Groundswell’s Howl of a Protest was far greater than expected.

Support for next month’s protest had been lukewarm but the government’s decision to force councils to give up their assets and replace local control with a bloated and undemocratic bureaucracy will fire up a wide cross section of people and give them the opportunity to show just how strongly they feel about this abuse of power.

One of the messages they will be sending is this:

You can sign the petition against the proposal here and donate to the campaign to fight the plans here.


Rural round-up

22/09/2021

UK identifies case of ‘mad cow disease’ :

British officials have identified a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said this week that the dead animal had been removed from a farm in Somerset, southwest England, adding there was “no risk to “.

“The UK’s overall risk status for BSE remains at ‘controlled’ and there is no risk to food safety or ,” said Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss.

APHA will launch a “thorough investigation of the herd, the premises, potential sources of infection and will produce a full report on the incident in due course”. . . 

Life split between town and country – Sally Rae:

From singing and shepherding to photography and physiotherapy, Hawea woman Anna Munro has a diverse lifestyle. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her career and her desire to help tell the farming story.

Anna Munro used to think she would love to end up owning a farm.

Now she’s not so sure. After all, the Hawea woman has the best of both worlds, dividing her time between working on Ardgour Station, near Tarras, and as a physiotherapist in Wanaka.

It might seem an unusual combination but, for outdoors-loving Mrs Munro, it suits her down to the proverbial tee. . . 

Mother of all protests on November 21 – Sally Rae:

They are calling it The Mother of All Protests.

Groundswell New Zealand has announced its next protest will be held on Sunday, November 21.

In July, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part in the rural group’s national Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what the rural sector says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, was delivered at the protests, giving the Government a month to address the issues, or it said it would take further action. . . 

Carbon farming biggest change in land use – Nine to Noon:

Concerns the boom in carbon farming will dictate the future of New Zealand’s sheep, beef and production forestry, and questions over who has oversight over what one academic is calling “the biggest change in land use in New Zealand’s modern history”.  Kathryn speaks with Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University Keith Woodford, who says the implications are massive.  Also Forest Owners Association chief executive Phil Taylor, also managing director of the American owned forestry management company Port Blakely. . .

The story of our sunflowers :

The Topflite sunflowers have become something of an icon in Oamaru. Lots of visitors arrive in town asking where to find them and we’ve played host to many a photographer and film crew over the years — even moving one group on after they’d set up their tripods in the centre of the road…

Seeing as we’re gearing up to sow the next crop pretty soon, here’s some background on our little yellow heroes.

We originally grew sunflowers for oil in the 1960s but then moved to growing them for the bird clubs in 1974. People told us we were too far south for sunflowers to grow well but clearly we’ve proved them wrong! Our farms are in a dry area of North Otago and we get reasonably long and hot summers. It turns out that sunflowers grow well here.

October is when we sow the seeds. It’s pretty slow growing until December when the weather heats up. We usually get the first flower by New Year’s Day and by late January the flowers are at their most intense yellow. That’s the time of year to schedule your sunflower selfie! . . 

Agricultural robots market 2021 2021 booming across the globe by share key segments product distribution channel region:

MarketResearch.biz delivers in-depth insights on the global agricultural robots market in its upcoming report titled, “Global Agricultural Robots Market Trends, Applications, Analysis, Growth, and Forecast: 2018 to 2027”.

This report is based on synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of information gathered regarding the target market from various sources. Our analysts have analyzed the information and data and gained insights using a mix of primary and secondary research efforts with the primary objective to provide a holistic view of the market. In addition, an in-house study has been made of the global economic conditions and other economic indicators and factors to assess their respective impact on the market historically, as well as the current impact in order to make informed forecasts about the scenarios in future.

An agricultural robot is an equipment used in farming to improve productivity and reduce reliance on manual labor. These robots help automate tasks carried out by the farmers such as harvesting, weed control, seeding, sorting, and packing, thus allowing farmers to focus more on enhancing overall production yield. . . 

Winter closes quietly – stronger spring anticipated :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -51 less farm sales (-14.3%) for the three months ended August 2021 than for the three months ended August 2020. Overall, there were 306 farm sales in the three months ended August 2021, compared to 364 farm sales for the three months ended July 2021 (-15.9%), and 357 farm sales for the three months ended August 2020.

1,680 farms were sold in the year to August 2021, 37.3% more than were sold in the year to August 2020, with 153.8% more Dairy farms, 1% more Dairy Support, 24.4% more Grazing farms, 50.8% more Finishing farms and 46.4% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2021 was $27,250 compared to $25,460 recorded for three months ended August 2020 (+7%). The median price per hectare increased0.3% compared to July 2021. . .


Rural round-up

08/09/2021

A shepherd’s warning – Wayne Langford:

Pink sky in the morning is a shepherds warning, but today I’d like to give a little warning of my own.

This time last year in New Zealand we had five deaths on farm. That’s five families that are absolutely heartbroken this year as they are forced to relive the tragic events that struck their families and wider communities last year.

I implore you to please be safe right now, everyone’s getting tired and slow. Please think about safety on the farm, on your bike – wear your helmet. It is easy to get busy and forget, but we simply have to stop and think about it. . .

Govt secretive on Groundswell correspondence:

It is really disappointing to see that Prime Minister has not fronted up and engaged with Groundswell NZ following their nationwide protests in July, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Joseph Mooney says.

“The Groundswell protests sent a clear and direct message to the Government that rural communities are fed up with its unrealistic and impractical approach to a range of important issues. An estimated 60,000 people lined the streets of 57 towns and cities across the country in one of New Zealand’s biggest ever protests and they shouldn’t be ignored.

“I was at Groundswell NZ’s protest in Gore alongside Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson, who founded the group in the Southland Electorate. I have been in regular contact since and I met them when they presented a petition seeking to amend the National Policy Statement For Freshwater Management to the Environment Select Committee in Wellington last month. . . 

Why no response Prime Minister?:

“When some 60,000 people converge on towns and cities around New Zealand, in protest at government proposals and regulations, a response from the Prime Minister is a reasonable expectation.

“Or even one from her ministers,” says National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“We are a week shy of two months since July 16’s Howl of Protest and organisers still haven’t heard from anyone running this country.

“Now the PM’s office is refusing to release any information — letters, emails, documents and/or advisories concerning Groundswell to or from her office, her deputy’s, or the ministers of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change — to a media outlet making the request under the Official Information Act.” . . 

Here’s why you should take a farmer out for lunch – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Lockdown has brought the essentials of life to the fore again – family and food. People rushed to their home base. People already at home base rushed to the supermarket. This time perishables topped the list – broccoli, bananas, milk, avocado, butter.

Food matters

Food producers, processors and distributors are essential workers, once again, with the ongoing debate about supermarket chains staying open while independent outlets are closed. For the independents, the issue is survival. Margins are slim. It is often because their products are less expensive that people go to them for purchases.

Farmers and growers are feeling the pressures of slim margins, too. Countrylife on April 20 highlighted concerns. The interviewer was pleased that dairy prices are high; the farmer pointed out that costs have increased. The data support his case. Input prices increased 4.3 per cent for the year to June for dairy farmers and 3.4 per cent for the primary sector as a whole. . . 

Research shows dairy cows can be part of the solution to nitrogen leaching:

New Lincoln University Pastoral Livestock Production Lab research, is defining how to get the maximum benefit from cows predisposed to urinate nitrogen (N), resulting in less leaching to the waterway.

PhD student Cameron Marshall, has just published two new articles in top scientific journals as part of his doctoral thesis, showing that what cows with phenotypically lower milk urea N eat, and how they eat, is important to reducing their environmental impact.

He said inefficient N use from pastoral dairy production systems has resulted in concern regarding environmental degradation.

“This is a result of excessive urinary N leaching into waterways and nitrous oxide emissions from urination patches into the atmosphere. . .

Busy time for family farming together – Alice Scott:

Last week, as the nation took a deep breath and ventured down the well-trodden path of lockdown 2.0, newborn animals were none the wiser and the work still needed to be done.

Like many around Southland and Otago, Clinton-based calf-rearer Laura Allan is right in the thick of calf feeding and with 2-year-old Otis, 6-year-old Freddy and 8-year-old Juno at foot, she concedes homeschooling is a little “looser” this time around.

Mrs Allan and her husband James rear 50 to 60 beef calves each season and graze 150 rising 2yr-old dairy cows on their 80ha farm. Mr Allan is also a topdressing pilot and at this time of year they are like “ships in the night”, as he leaves early and gets home late.

“James usually gets up early and shifts a break fence in the dark before he leaves, to ease the pressure a bit,” she said. . . 

Help a retired working dog find its forever home :

If you have a working dog that needs to be retired, Retired Working Dogs NZ (RWD) can help. RWD is a charity re-homing retired working dogs throughout New Zealand into forever homes.

The charity, set up in 2012, have re-homed more than 634 working dogs who are either at retirement age or aren’t cut out to be working on farm anymore.

“Retired working dogs make great pets for families. Many of them have been trained with basic commands and are often trusted around stock, other animals, and children,” says Natalie Smith.

The charity works with the SPCA, vet clinics, and farmers to find, advertise, and re-home dogs. . .

NZ’s first homegrown out milk company launches ‘1% fund’ supporting Kiwi farmers to grow more oats:

Otis, the first New Zealand oat milk made from homegrown oats, will now be available to buy nationwide thanks to a new supply deal inked with Countdown. The deal will see Otis cartons lining shelves around the country in Countdown, New World, Farro and Moore Wilson, and its online store.

The announcement coincides with the company’s launch of its 1% Fund today.

The 1% Fund is an initiative by Otis to help diversify farming by supporting New Zealand farmers to grow oats.

“Otis wants to help Kiwi farmers lead the way in farming for the 21st century – a way of farming that’s more diverse, more plant-based and one that works in harmony with nature, not against it,” says Otis co-founder Chris Wilkie. . . 


Rural round-up

31/08/2021

Groundswell NZ have had a win, but they won’t stop their campaign– Rachael Kelly:

They’ve had a win, but the battle is far from over.

Groundswell NZ is pleased the Government has ‘’seen some sense’’ and decided to consult on some of the winter grazing rules the group campaigned against because they were unworkable for the nation’s farmers, co-founder Bryce McKenzie says.

But there were still rules that had been introduced that needed to be changed, such as those around significant natural areas and the ‘ute tax’ and Groundswell would continue to fight for change, he said.

“It’s taken 12 months of bickering and arguing and protests to get to this point, when they could have just read the 17,000 submissions that people made that told them they were wrong in the first place,’’ McKenzie said. . . 

Setting up for a strong future :

Every summer, carloads of people arrive at Lyndon and Jane Strang’s Five Forks farm in North Otago, trying to access a swimming hole near the bottom of their property.

Brush, gorse and blackberry had taken over the 50m-wide fenced berm between the 290ha farm and the Kakanui River and public access had all but been blocked.

‘‘We wanted to open it up and create a walkway along the entire length,’’ Mrs Strang said.

With the help of funding from the Otago Regional Council’s Eco Fund and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Jobs for Nature Fund, they have done just that. . . 

The future of farming could be up not out – Daniel Smith:

Unlike most people in the agricultural industry, Matt Keltie​ plants his crop upwards, not outwards.

Keltie’s​ business 26 Seasons​ first farmed microgreens in vertical farms in a former Wellington nightclub, but has recently expanded his operation to Auckland.

Vertical farming grows food on vertical surfaces, unlike traditional farming which produces on a single level such as in a field or a greenhouse.

But Keltie​ said it was not just about stacking plants on top of each other, but using technology to farm smarter. . .

Farming the seabed for weed – Jessie Chiang

The global seaweed industry is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion. New Zealand would like a slice of it.

“There are times I have to ban the s-word in the house.”

Lucas Evans lives and breathes seaweed. It took one introduction to it while he was on holiday in New Zealand, for the fascination to grow and blossom into a decade-long journey.

Originally from Australia, Evans went on to learn everything he could about growing and selling algae and crossed the ditch to settle in Coromandel. He’s now the co-founder and chief executive of his own seaweed company, Premium Seas. . . 

GO NZ: Cycling the Alps 2 Ocean trail with Adventure South – Elisabeth Easther:

The 356km of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, from Tekapo to Ōamaru, can be tackled no matter the season… just make sure you wear your waterproofs.

People asked if I was crazy when I told them I was headed to the South Island to ride the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. It was June and the weather was packing up all over the place. A fortnight prior to departure, Twizel, one of our waypoints, recorded a nippy -8C and just one week out, Ashburton was hit by some of the worst flooding on record. But cyclists are optimists by nature – you have to be to pedal in Auckland – so, when I finally set off, I resolved to accept the weather, whatever it was. Besides, on a fully supported tour with Adventure South NZ, if worst truly came to worst, I’d still be cosy and cared for.

Here’s why you don’t need to wait for good weather to tackle the ride yourself. . . 

Basil farm yet to reach its full potential – Marian Macdonald:

It’s already a very profitable business that produces more than 30,000 bunches of fresh basil a week but Honeysuckle Farm also has a commercial kitchen and a site ready for planting macadamias or berry crops.

The 91.55-hectare property is close to the coast at Avondale, midway between the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton.

Woolworths is an important customer for Honeysuckle, which also sells basil puree as an ingredient.

Owner Jenny Grant says the business, which has its own commercial kitchen, has the potential to generate significant margins by value-adding the puree with products like pesto. . . 


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Rural round-up

19/08/2021

Howl organisers planning even bigger protest – Sally Rae:

Groundswell New Zealand says it is planning a “major nationwide protest event” in November, following a lack of response by the Government to its concerns.

Although a date was yet to be set and details of the event outlined, spokesman Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said it would be “of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history”.

Last month, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, which was delivered at the protests, gave the Government a month to address the issues, or it would take further action. . . 

Farm dream from bullock wagon – Shawn McAvinue:

A dream to farm in North Otago began on a bullock wagon.

Ray Lawrence was a young boy when grandfather William began teaching him about stockmanship.

‘‘He was a natural — a great stockman.’’

As a teenager, William Lawrence ran bullock wagons between Dunedin and Oamaru and dreamed of farming in North Otago. . .

Southland farmer and his dog to represent NZ :

The trans-Tasman rivalry has reignited once again – this time in the search for the hardest working farm dog.

It’s the first time New Zealand has entered the Cobber Working Dog Challenge, which tracks how hard each canine works over the three-week competition using GPS collars.

One duo representing the country is Josh Tosh and Trix – from Dipton in Southland.

Tosh told Morning Report he has had Trix since she was just 8 weeks old and has trained her up to the hard working 3-and-a-half year old farm dog that she is now. . . 

 

Iwi, industry and government unified in stance to protect mānuka honey in Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Champagne Moment’

Iwi, Government and the Mānuka Honey Industry are unified in their stance to protect the term Mānuka for all New Zealanders following opposition to registration of the term MANUKA HONEY at a hearing at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on 18 August, 2021. “

The goal is to protect the term MANUKA HONEY internationally so that it may only be lawfully used on honey produced in Aotearoa. For Māori, this means that our reo is respected and a precious taonga (treasure) is being honoured and protected. For consumers, it means that they can trust they are getting genuine honey produced in New Zealand from our Mānuka trees. It also protects the industry, export earnings and jobs,” said Pita Tipene, Chair of the Mānuka Charitable Trust (MCT).

“There are some similarities to when wine producers everywhere started branding their sparkling wines as champagne, until the French took ownership. Now anything labelled Champagne must be from that region. For us it runs even deeper because Mānuka is our taonga (treasure) and our reo (language),” said Pita. . . 

Ravensdown invests in future as team focuses on farm environment planning:

Ravensdown is gearing up for the growing demand for farm environment planning and investing in future capabilities. This ongoing investment in future on-farm performance meant the co-operative was unable to meet the previous year’s record profit performance, however last year did end with a satisfying and strong profit of $53 million from continuing and discontinuing operations, before tax and rebate.

The co-operative returned a total of $33 million to its eligible farmer shareholders including $16 million paid as an early interim rebate in June.

“We were right to view 2020-21 with cautious optimism. Our strong result was based on great shareholder support, a hard-working team and an effective strategy,” said Ravensdown’s Chair John Henderson. “Our shipping joint venture and long-term relationships with reliable suppliers proved extremely valuable as the supply disruption resulting from the pandemic impacted so many other industries. Along with sustained focus on product availability, we will continue to invest in the science, technologies and services that can help the agsector thrive into the future,” added John. . . 

Local company secures rights for ground breaking fertiliser:

NZ Premium Health Ltd has been appointed the exclusive New Zealand distributor for Swift Grow, a 100% Australian Certified Organic fish-based fertiliser.

Swift Grow is produced in New South Wales by River Stone Fish Farms. The company’s founder, Genetics Engineer Joseph Ayoub, developed the product in response to what he saw as a diminished fertility of soils, both in domestic and commercial environments.

Ayoub has fond childhood memories of the delightful flavour and aroma of naturally-grown food. “But I noticed that this gradually diminished over time because of decades of intensive commercial farming practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

15/08/2021

Farmer who supplies neighbours’ water says he’ll stop if forced to register  – Bonnie Flaws:

Tararua farmer Roger Barton​ supplies his lifestyle block neighbours with water when their rainwater tanks run low. He says it’s “neighbours being neighbours” and he doesn’t charge them.

“They’ve got two tanks and they manage that carefully and are generally fine. But if things get tight they run a hose pipe from our system overnight and over four or five nights the tank gets filled. They don’t have to get the water truck out.”

The water comes from a creek at the fringe of the Tararua ranges. Barton does not treat his water, but uses a filter. His neighbours had an ultraviolet treatment system because they were reliant on rainwater, and this would also treat Barton’s water.

“I think that is fine, sane and sensible. Why I should have to treat it before they receive it I do not know.” . .

200 exemptions for dairy workers took at best – Jason Herrick:

I have been working behind the scenes and in the media around staff shortages and reuniting families of our migrant staff in my sector.

I do this because I see it as part of my responsibility I choose to take on as sharemilker Chair for Southland Federated Farmers,  trying to get the government to see sense and allow staff to come to NZ to fill much-needed roles.

Alongside heaps of others, the government said yes to was the 200 exemptions for dairy workers and their families, I see this as token at best, a gesture to keep us quiet – because they put conditions on the exemptions that have kept the likes of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and MPI busy to negotiate better conditions. . .

Groundswell NZ presents petition on ‘unworkable’ regulations to parliament – Laura Hooper:

A Groundswell NZ co-founder has presented the group’s petition against what it calls “unworkable regulations’’ for farmers to the Government.

Last month, Groundswell NZ took to the streets alongside thousands of supporters in around 50 towns across New Zealand to protest against regulations, including compulsory sowing dates, winter grazing rules and the “ute tax”.

On Thursday, group co-founder Laurence Paterson and Rural Advocacy Network chairman Jamie McFadden presented a petition, calling for a review of some regulations, to the Environment select committee.

The petition originally began to call for a review of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which the group says applies a “one-size-fits-all” approach on sowing dates, winter grazing and best catchment practises. . .

 

Push for govt  incentives to producebio-fuel from local forestry waste – Jonathan Milne:

Warnings that existing ethanol-blended biofuels can’t be used in most storage tanks and pipelines – so new Sustainable Biofuel Mandate will come at a cost.

The clock is ticking at Marsden Point oil refinery. Chief executive Naomi James says they have mere months to reach agreement on converting the refinery to a biofuels production facility, for local forestry waste, before they are forced to begin laying off staff and decommissioning plant.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed interest in the potential to convert the refinery to biofuel production, and James confirms they are in talks with government. But they need quick decisions because once they lose skilled engineers, they won’t be coming back; once they decommission big plant like the hydro-treater unit, there is no turning back.

James confirmed that in its submission on the planned Sustainable Biofuel Mandate, Refining NZ is arguing for government incentives for domestic biofuel production, like grants or Emissions Trading Scheme exemptions. . .

KiwiSaver provider Booster invests over $10m into avocado grower Darling Group – Tamsyn Parker:

The private equity investment arm of KiwiSaver provider Booster has invested more than $10 million into buying a 42 per cent stake in Katikati-based avocado grower and exporter Darling Group.

Booster, which has around $3 billion invested in its KiwiSaver scheme and is the 10th largest provider, is one of the few KiwiSaver schemes which invests in unlisted private companies through its Tahi LP fund.

Private company investment offers the potential for higher returns but are also a less liquid investment as their shares are not traded on a public market making it harder to sell out quickly.

Tahi already owns a number of wineries, as well as having stakes in Sunchaser Avocados, Dodson Motorsport and financial services company Lifetime. . . 

Livestock farm working dogs in Australia and New Zealand tested in Cobber Challenge – Chris McLennan and Daina Oliver:

The endurance athletes of Australia’s sprawling livestock farms are battling it out to claim the title of 2021 champion working dog.

Over three weeks, 12 loyal canines will run hundreds of kilometres in the course of their daily jobs herding sheep and cattle.

The Cobber Challenge celebrates and tests the endurance of working dogs and this year, for the first time, the Australians will be pitted against competitors working across the Tasman.

GPS collars will track their distance, working duration and speed over 21 days from Monday, August 16 and points will be awarded based on daily activity. . .


Rural round-up

01/08/2021

Unlikely pair guiding Groundswell juggernaut – Sally Rae:

Two weeks ago, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell New Zealand’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what the rural sector says are unworkable government regulations. At the core of the group are two southern farmers, who talk to business and rural editor Sally Rae about why they won’t go away.

They’re an unlikely pair of protesters.

In fact, Laurie Paterson and Bryce McKenzie have never been involved in any sort of protest during their lengthy farming careers. Until now.

The co-founders of Groundswell NZ have ultimately been responsible for the biggest protests some towns have ever seen. . .

Photographer bridging the urban-rural divide– Matthew Scott:

After travelling the country in search of sustainable and environmentally-friendly farms, a photographer is bringing her work to Auckland to show what it means to be stewards of the land

Queen Street has been a bit of a Mecca for farmers lately.

This month’s Groundswell protest saw a troupe of tractors and utes trundle through the central city in protest of government regulations targeting the agriculture sector.

The rural-urban divide had never felt as palpable as when the fleet of farm equipment joined Auckland traffic on a Friday morning. . .

Words do matter – Barbara Kuriger:

If you know me, you know how fiercely proud I am of being a farmer.

As an MP and National’s spokesperson I move in rural communities constantly and this month, during Parliament’s recent three week recess I visited many more from Timaru to Te Hapua.

I doubt many New Zealanders would realise rural communities are this country’s second largest city with 700,000+ people.

And despite what people are reading or hearing in media throughout the country, they are innovators. . .

Growing for Gold – Japanese Budou grapes thrive in Hawke’s Bay – Country Life:

Budou table grapes can fetch up to $160 a bunch in Japan.

Third-generation grape grower Tetsuya Higuchi is growing the enormous, sweet, picture-perfect Japanese style grape in Hawke’s Bay.

Tetsuya sees huge potential in his region for expanding the production of his Japanese-style table grapes.

The picture-perfect bunches are highly valued as gifts in Japan and can fetch extraordinary prices – up to $160 dollars for a single top-grade bunch. . .

Opportunities in a changing world highlighted at Red Meat Sector conference:

Climate change is the biggest opportunity for New Zealand agriculture since refrigerated shipping. This was the scene-setting message from entrepreneur and farmer Geoff Ross, who was the opening speaker at the Red Meat Sector Conference in Rotorua last week.

The founder of 42 Below Vodka, Ross is also the owner of Lake Hawea Station, New Zealand’s first carbon certified farm.

“What if we looked at climate change as an opportunity, and the reason why we have such a unique opportunity in a world demanding low carbon foot and fibre is our extensive food systems.

“We have this massive advantage; we are way ahead of other countries.” . .

Local producers band together to launch Good Farmers brand:

A community of passionate New Zealand farmers, growers and artisan food producers have joined forces to launch an exciting new brand – Good Farmers New Zealand.

Put simply, Good Farmers is a community that stands for ‘Good Food, grown on Good Land, nurtured by Good Farmers.’

The collective, which currently includes eight food producers with more joining shortly, has two key goals: . .


Who’s standing up for farmers?

30/07/2021

This is funny:

. . . after 20 years of nuking our taste buds with bread that’s mostly sugar, Ronald McDonald’s special sauce, chicken vindaloo, deep-fried chicken and crisps made from artificially flavoured carpet underlay, most of us could not tell a beautiful piece of prime beef from a Walnut Whip.

This is not:

. . . Right. So one day you’re in the supermarket and in front of you are two legs of lamb. One is from the UK and costs £20 and one is from New Zealand and costs £15. So that’s an easy choice. You buy the one from down under. Lovely.

But it isn’t lovely, because animals farmed in New Zealand and America and China and Brazil and Canada and Australia — with which Boris has just done a much-trumpeted trade deal — do not have anything like the happy lives enjoyed by the animals farmed here. . . 

Both come from the pen of Jeremy Clarkson writing in The Times on why the UK should be proud of its animal welfare.

He might be right about that but he’s wrong that New Zealand standards for animal welfare aren’t at least as high as those in the UK.

Ironically that is partly due to the need to meet standards imposed to give access to the UK market when it entered the EU.

But more than anything it is because we’re very good farmers and very good farmers know that animal welfare is paramount.

The Listener has caught up with Clarkson’s criticism and in its editorial (not online) asks: who would we rather have tell the world about New Zealand produce – Jeremy Clarkson of our own government?

Britain’s RSPCA welcomed the trade negotiations, stressing New Zealand alone among the UK’s potential free trade partners has animal welfare standards as good as, and in some cases, better than Britain’s.

But did our Government speak up in our farmers’ defence on animal welfare? Did it point out that this country is also head-and-shoulders the most sustainable producer of dairy and meat – even counting air miles after export to the northern hemisphere? Not a word.

Nor has it ever thanked agriculture for agreeing to arguably disproportionate methane-reduction goals because of the lack of progress on – mostly urban-generated – carbon emissions.

It’s this sense of abandonment and blame that sent farmers with placards to more than 50 towns and cities last week as much as the undeniable burden of new restrictions and compliance obligations they face.

Yes. This government, at least as much as its predecessor in the mid to late 1980s, doesn’t understand farming nor does it champion it. The policies of the 80s were necessary, based on sound economics, and have led to better outcomes. Much current policy is unnecessary, based on political ideology not economics or science and will lead to perverse outcomes.

The government has been damagingly remiss in declining to champion the global competitiveness of this country’s meant and dairy sector. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has had unprecedented global attention, not least for climate advocacy, yet rarely, if ever, has she talked overseas of this economy’s most outstanding sustainability story. As we approach new trade negotiations with the European Union, the United States and Britain, that environmental prowess has never been more relevant. Yet how can we sell our products to other countries’ populations if even our own citizens are under the misapprehension we willfully produce every emissions? . . 

 Farmers here have been doing a lot to improve environmental practices and doing it for some time. But government policies and dictates give no indication they understand or appreciate that.

Urban New Zealander should be encouraged to take pride in the progress the majority of the farm sector is making. Townies are not subject to a fraction of the individual accountability required from farmers for landfill, emissions and water use. . . 

The generally positive response to the Groundswell protests indicates that many urban people do understand and respect what farmers are doing.

It’s a pity the government doesn’t show it has nearly such a positive view and that it is failing to champion farming on the world stage.

 


Plea to learn from history

28/07/2021

Jamie Mackay has written an open letter to the PM with a plea that she learns from her party’s history:

Dear Jacinda,

I’m writing on behalf of New Zealand farmers. . . 

Like you, I was sceptical about the Groundswell protests. But perhaps unlike you, I was taken aback by the scale and unity on show, by the noise made by the silent majority.

Farmers are sometimes chastised for claiming to be the backbone of the economy. I would argue that, these days as our biggest export earner by a country mile, that’s a fair claim, especially with the demise of tourism in the short-to-medium term.

But in reality farmers are a subset of the SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) that are the engine of our economy. And that could be the small engineering business employing a dozen workers or your local cafe owner working 70 hours a week.

And the problems that threaten to handicap farmers will have an adverse impact on all those other SMEs that service and supply them.

Groundswell targeted seven pillars of protest. The ute tax was seventh on that list and a convenient calling card to hang a protest hat on. In reality Groundswell was all about the pace of change and the tsunami of regulation hitting, not only farmers, but all SMEs and the productive sector.

So Jacinda, what I’m asking on behalf of farmers is that you look to history for a solution to getting farmers on board to combat the undeniable (sorry CC deniers) threat GHG emissions pose to our planet.

As a keen student of politics, and the history of your own political party, you’ll know all about the biggest economic reforms this country has ever undertaken.

While Michael Joseph Savage and his 1930s formation of the welfare state was right up there, I would argue that the transformative 1980s David Lange-Roger Douglas Government takes the cake. That was until Lange lost his nerve, stopped for a cup of tea, and choked on the cake.

Rogernomics gutted provincial New Zealand. Farming was seen as a sunset industry. Who needed pitch-fork wielding hayseeds on the land when you could invest in Brierley shares? I don’t need to remind you how that ended in tears.

Yet history proves Douglas was a visionary and the man most responsible for where New Zealand agriculture finds itself now – as the most sustainable farming nation on Earth.

Rob Muldoon had taken our country into a death-spiral of interventionism and unsustainable subsidies.

The seeds of the problems that Douglas had to solve were planted over several years. The current government is replanting some of those bad seeds.

Douglas could see there was no future in farm subsidies. So we went cold turkey, almost overnight. Too hard, too early! The collateral damage was huge and the cost horrendous to provincial New Zealand. The cure was worse than the disease. Yet Douglas was right. Only his timeframe was wrong.

And herein, Jacinda, lies the history lesson. Transformation is like Rachel Hunter’s hair. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

It is already happening but problems which developed over years can’t be solved overnight.

By all means, incentivise a transformation to lower emission vehicles. But don’t penalise the productive sector, until you have a realistic, practical and “legitimate” alternative.

By all means, incentivise cleaning up our waterways. But recognise farmers who have spent hundreds of thousands of their own money on fencing off waterways, riparian planting and restoring wetlands. And hold urban New Zealand to equal account.

By all means, incentivise the reduction of methane emissions from ruminant livestock. But let’s look to science for the answer such as methane vaccines and new pasture species rather than the sledgehammer of an arbitrary 15 per cent reduction in livestock numbers.

And by all means, use your undeniable profile on the world stage to petition the world’s worst emitters, China, the USA and India to get their collective [green]houses in order. Don’t sacrifice New Zealand and its economy on the altar of climate change.

So Jacinda, to quote from that iconic Aussie movie The Castle, it’s all about the “vibe”. Farmers get the vibe, agree on the end-point but would question the timeframe as to how we get there.

Learn from Rogernomics. Be on the right side of history on this one. Take farmers with you. Be kind. Our collective provincial plea to our PM is; we want Ohakune carrot, not Wellington stick!

Yours faithfully,

Jamie.

Most agree with the goals but many disagree not just with the timeframe but the way the policies are being imposed by people in Wellington dealing with theory rather than working with the people on the ground who understand the practice.

Rather than looking at what’s working and using that as a model to help the laggards follow suit, the government is doing to farmers what it’s done to polytechnics and is threatening to do with three waters.

It’s going for central control and the pace at which it’s trying to impose it is, as Jamie points out, ignoring the mistakes of its own history.


Rural round-up

25/07/2021

Why farmers protested in NZ towns and cities – Shelley Krieger:

 Last week’s Howl of a Protest inspired Balclutha dairy stock agent Shelley Krieger to write the following post on Facebook, explaining why rural people took to the streets.

In case anyone was confused as to why the farmers were protesting on Friday, I thought I would just put something here so people have an idea of why.

Firstly SNAs (Significant Natural Areas).

These are areas of people’s farm land or lifestyle blocks that the Government is getting the councils to survey. . . 

Labour cannot afford to ignore rural concerns – Mike Houlahan:

For something set up as an apolitical organisation, farmer advocacy group Groundswell is having a heck of a political impact.

Yesterday the group, set up by Greenvale farmer Laurie Paterson and his Pomahaka colleague Bryce McKenzie in October last year, held its first national event, Howl of a Protest.

Farmers and sympathetic townies both were encouraged to fetch up to a town centre near them to show how fed up they were with increasing Government interference in their lives and businesses.

There is a long shopping list of government policies Messrs Paterson and McKenzie and co are riled about, which includes fresh water management, stock grazing regulations, promotion of electric vehicles, Resource Management Act reform, emission standards, and significant natural areas regulations. . . 

‘Farmers need to stick together’– Toni Williams:

“Farmers need to stick together, work together and help each other along,” dairy farmer Willy Leferink says.

Mr Leferink, speaking at the Howl of a Protest in Ashburton on Friday, said farmers were sick and tired of all the regulations and needed a change where farmers would make a difference.

“The ink is not even dry on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” he said, and changes were already afoot.

“We as rural communities don’t get listened to,” he said. . . 

M. Bovis eradication efforts on track :

A just released report shows efforts to rid the cattle disease M-Bovis from the country are on track and eradication is likely to be achieved.

The disease which can cause lameness and mastitis was first detected on a South Canterbury farm in July 2017.

In 2018 the government committed to eliminating the disease over 10 years.

The latest report from the independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) shows only three active infected properties remain, down from 34 two years ago, and once cleared the programme will move onto surveillance. . . 

Science helps cook ‘perfect steak’; artificial intelligence creates recipes

AgResearch scientists have taken their skills into the kitchen to identify the ideal cooking conditions for the “perfect steak”; while also harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create new food combinations and recipes.

The scientists used a unique approach of analysing biochemical changes in beef steak during the cooking process.

They worked with world-class development chef Dale Bowie, whose career included working at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin three-star restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK.

When being cooked, steak releases compounds emitted as gases called volatiles, which can be captured and analysed. . .

Angus Youth inspires industry’s next generation – Edwina Watson:

ANGUS Youth protege Damien Thomson reckons there’s never been a better time to be in beef.

At home at Shaccorahdalu Angus, Berremangra, NSW, the Thomsons received the equivalent to their 2019 total rainfall in the first three months of 2021.

Mr Thomson said the good season was now showing in the stud’s pastures and weaners.

“It’s great to see the optimism and confidence in beef cattle after such an extreme drought. The quality of our herd improves year-on-year and we can’t supply enough to our existing clients.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/07/2021

Urban dwellers lack of knowledge of the work farmers do for the environment distressing – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. The term was coined in the early 1930s, but in Alice Through the Looking Glass, published in the early 1870s, Lewis Carroll had the Red Queen tell Alice that “here it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that”.

That is the point of the “howl of a protest” that was made by the convoy of tractors, utes and dogs last week.

Farmers were expressing frustration at the deluge of regulations and paperwork.

The work they do for the environment is being overlooked. . . 

Full of pride for mother in ute with dogs – Anna Campbell:

Climate change is a global problem, a problem shared and a problem far bigger than New Zealand politics.

Climate change is a problem that the majority of farmers recognise, one in which many are adapting to daily in dealing with the increasing numbers of droughts and floods. Farmers are improving their environments by changing their farming practices, whether that be fencing waterways, developing Land and Environmental Plans, planting trees or altering winter grazing practices. Change on-farm is happening at a significant scale across the country.

On Friday morning, I was worried about the Groundswell farmer protest, I was worried that it would look like farmers were trying to shirk their responsibility and avoid change, despite what they are already doing and despite their plans for doing more. I was worried farmers would look like rednecks and I was worried about the ever-increasing rural-urban chasm. Let’s not call this a divide any more.

On Friday, I apprehensively left my centrally heated office to stand in the Octagon and lend my support to the protest — who knew Otago had so many farmers? . . 

This might have been our first successful farmer protest – Craig Hickman:

I’ve never made a secret of the fact I’m no fan of farmer protests; there had never been a successful one in my living memory and there has been a tendency recently for them to backfire and paint farmers in a bad light, usually as ignorant racist misogynists.

People fondly recall Shane Ardern driving his tractor up the steps of Parliament in 2003 to defeat the proposed “Fart Tax”. They point to this as an example of a resounding success.

I don’t know how you measure success, and sure the Government of the day appeared to back down, but there’s the small issue that the protest didn’t actually work. While farmers weren’t asked to pay for emissions research via taxation, our industry bodies agreed to pay for it via levies instead, with the Government reserving the right to reconsider the tax should payments ever stop.

Not only is it difficult to measure whether a protest has been successful, they can be harmful too. . .

Grimes’ grouches with the effects of govt policies on Kiwis’ wellbeing may sting more than the Groundswell protest – Point of Order:

The  Ardern  government may  have been  stirred,  but  it  wasn’t  shaken,    by  the  nationwide protest  by  farmers  last  Friday.  And no matter how  far  the protest may have  turned   heads   in  the  rest  of  the  population,   it  leaves  farmers  no  further   advanced  in  persuading  ministers  to  modify  or  revise  the  policies  which  their  action targeted.

So  if  ministers  won’t  back  down  on their  environmental reforms or their climate change  policies,  where   can  the  farmers  go?  Parade  through  Wellington  to  Parliament?   Mount a 24-hour  vigil  in  Parliament  Grounds?

So  far  there has  been   silence  from the  originators   of  the   Groundswell  and if  there  is  a  new  sense of  unity  in  the  rural regions,   it   has yet  to  be  channelled into the  kind  of  pressure that   automatically  achieves  change. . . 

The little-known world of sheep and beef by-products and co-products:

There’s more to beef and lamb than steaks and Sunday Roasts

When you think about meat processing it would be no surprise that the first output you thought about, was food. But what happens to the rest of the carcass? The parts that are not suitable or desired for consumption? That is where byproducts and co-products come in.

Referred to in the industry as the ‘fifth quarter’ co-products (materials intended for human consumption) and byproducts (materials that can be edible and non-edible) are valuable and account for over half of a carcass. These co-products extract maximum value and minimise waste.

With new technology and innovation, the use and application of co-products are constantly developing across a range of industries. Where once tallow was used for soap and candle making, now it is being converted to create a biofuel that burns cleaner and reduces emissions. . . 

Talk of the Town: How country mums are using social media to shift from the good paddock – Samantha Townsend:

Mum, I don’t want to be mean but I reckon that (weight loss program) will really benefit you. You are like really beautiful but you have a big bottom”.

That’s what my eight-year-old daughter told me at the start of this year while watching television one night.

Now I’ve certainly been in a good paddock and I can’t blame my kids anymore, it’s been six years since nappies.

But it made me think about the power of advertising and social media, and how it influences our lives these days. . .


Rural round-up

22/07/2021

Groundswell staying mum on future – Gerald Piddock:

Groundswell will keep its word and take no further action until August 16 to give the Government time to respond to its concerns that its farming regulations are unworkable.

The protests on July 16 saw thousands of farmers and their vehicles head to 57 towns and cities across the country to protest policies around freshwater, climate change and biodiversity.

“There’s definitely nothing to add to the protest because we have to wait until August 16 and we’ve given the Government until then to make a response,” Groundswell co-founder Bryce McKenzie said.

“But we have got other irons in the fire. There are other subjects we will be commenting on or putting stuff out on for people to look at separate to the protest,” he said. . . 

Backlash over protest advice to staff – Sally Rae:

Farmer-owned co-operatives have come under fire from the farming community for telling staff they were not allowed to represent their company’s brand at last Friday’s Groundswell New Zealand protest.

Some farmers have indicated shifting their support from co-operatives that took such a stance ahead of the Howl of a Protest, which drew thousands of people from throughout the country.

Clarks Junction farmer Jim Macdonald wrote to Farmlands chairman Rob Hewett before the event saying he was concerned and angered by the decision, and urged a change of heart.

Staff were told if they wanted to support Groundswell the company asked that it was done independently of Farmlands “to protect the Farmlands brand”. It is understood some other rural companies made similar requests to staff. . . 

Farmstrong: discovering my own values :

High country sheep and beef farmer Hamish Murray spent a year on a Nuffield scholarship studying businesses with high-performance team cultures. What he discovered was that before you can work on your team, you need to work on yourself.

HAMISH Murray has an impressive CV. He’s played top-level sport, studied overseas and now works with a team of seven full-time staff, running Bluff Station in the Clarence River Valley. The diversified operation includes 5500 Merino ewes, 950 Angus and Hereford breeding cows and 750 beehives.

“I love the variety of farming. The particular valley and property where we are just gets into your blood. It’s isolated and beautiful. I love being outdoors with our animals, I’m happiest when I’m out riding a horse and shifting stock,” Murray said.

“I spent the earlier part of my life getting an education and learning to do things other than farming, but for me coming back to farming was about giving my children the opportunity to grow up the same way I had. . . 

https://twitter.com/AniekaNick/status/141775380919178445

Grain sense: couple develop on-farm distillery – Sally Rae:

Southland sheep and cropping farmers Rob and Toni Auld are in high spirits.

The entrepreneurial couple operate Auld Farm Distillery, believed to be the southernmost on-farm distillery in the world, on their 200ha Scotts Gap property.

Being primary producers, they were previously used to watching the produce they grew heading out the driveway never to be seen again.

Being able to grow the grain to produce their own whisky was “next-level cool”, Mr Auld said. . . 

The big picture with sheep – Keith Woodford:

The sheep-farming retreat will continue despite excellent meat prices, with carbon farming the mega-force.

In recent months, I have written four articles focusing on the sheep and beef industries across New Zealand. My main focus has been to identify the current situation and to document how the situation varies for different classes of land across the country. Here I return to the overall big question: what is the future of the sheep industry?

There are two parts to that question. The first is the market opportunities. The second is about competing land-uses. . . 

Market opportunities

Apart from some dry hill and high-country farms lying east of the South Island Main Divide, wool is largely irrelevant. Fine-wool merinos are big contributors on low rainfall South Island farms and I expect that to continue. But elsewhere, wool no longer makes a worthwhile contribution to farm income. We can always live in hope, but that is not the basis on which to make land-use decisions. . . 

Productive avocado orchard with commercially run tourist operation placed on the market for sale:

A productive avocado orchard in the heart of Northland’s premier avocado growing district has been placed on the market for sale – with capacity to substantially increase its production scale.

The 15-hectare property is located at Waiharara near 90-Mile Beach in the Far North – which is fast becoming a regional production hub for avocados due to its climate, contour, and free-draining soils.

Located some 40 kilometres north of Kaitaia, the generally rectangular-shaped orchard for sale at 101 Turk Valley Road features nine sheltered and contoured blocks – three of which are now in full production.

Production records from the orchard show that the orchard has been relatively consistent with 12,000 trays being averaged over the past four seasons. The mature trees are Hass on Zutano rootstock, while the younger trees are Hass on Dusa and Hass on Bounty clonal rootstocks. . . 


%d bloggers like this: