Rural round-up

July 5, 2020

A business-as-usual approach at Fonterra won’t produce the food-production transformation which Sir Peter Gluckman is urging – Point of Order:

As  the  Covid-19 pandemic  rages   round the world,  New  Zealanders  are  re-discovering food production  is the fundamental  engine of  the   economy.  And farming is not a sunset industry.

Instead of being rubbished   by lobby  groups  for  so-called “dirty dairying”,  the  country’s core  export industry has the chance  to transform itself to be  both more  sustainable and  profitable, along  with remaining one of the main props of the  economy.

Coincidentally,  dairy  giant  Fonterra  gets a   new  leader  in Peter McBride  who  takes over  as chairman in  November.  McBride   steered  Zespri   through  several  crises.   Now, he  says,  he is looking  forward  to  “creating value”   for the co-operative’s 10,500 suppliers. . . 

Fast track Bill for infrastructure approved but water strategy urgently needed:

IrrigationNZ is pleased to see that the Government’s bill for a short-term consenting process to fast-track projects passed in the House last night.

“For far too long we have seen valuable projects fall over because of the long and laborious RMA process, in a post-COVID context we can no longer afford these delays to progress,” says Elizabeth Soal, IrrigationNZ CEO.

“But for our sector, this is not enough.“

“We remain concerned with the capability and capacity for communities to develop meaningful water infrastructure solutions, even if the consenting process is more efficient, without some national level guidance.” . . 

Rural NZ deserves a share of provincial infrastructure spend – Feds:

As it divvies up the $3 billion ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure spending pie, the government should reserve a few slices for the rural areas that drive our export earnings, Federated Farmers says.

“It’s understandable that the first 12 predominantly urban projects announced this week emphasise jobs and kick-starting the post-COVID rebuild,” Feds President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“But at the same time we should also have an eye to building longer-term resilience and putting in infrastructure that underpins increased primary industry production.”

For example, the government has earmarked $210 million of the fund for climate resilience and flood protection. . . 

Chicken virus in NZ blocking exports to Australia until 2022 – Maja Burry:

A chicken virus blocking exports to Australia is expected to hang around another year before New Zealand is clear of it, a poultry industry leader says.

A chicken virus blocking exports to Australia is expected to hang around another year before New Zealand is clear of it, a poultry industry leader says.

In August last year Infectious Bursal Disease Virus Type One (IBDV-1) was detected on two Otago egg farms belonging to the same company. This can affect the immune system of young chickens, but doesn’t pose any risk to human health.

Recently concluded testing of poultry farms nation-wide found no presence of the virus elsewhere, said Michael Brooks from the Egg Producers Federation and the Poultry Industry Association. . . 

Hunters ask conservation authority to work with all New Zealanders:

The Tahr Foundation is asking the Conservation Authority to represent all New Zealanders and their recreational pursuits in National Parks, including the tens of thousands of hunters who flock to them every year.

The Foundation’s plea is in response to the Conservation Authority’s decision to come out in support of DOC’s controversial plan to exterminate Himalayan tahr in national parks.

But Tahr Foundation spokesperson Willie Duley says tahr were living in the mountains before national parks like Aoraki/Mount Cook were created and exterminating them conflicts with the Authority’s role to protect our cultural heritage. . . 

Prospects for horticulture look bright:

The horticultural sector has continued to surge ahead despite the turmoil and uncertainty Covid-19 has inflicted at a local and international level. Latest figures from Horticulture New Zealand highlight this success with the sector generating a record-breaking $6.2 billion of exports for the year ended June. This is up $700 million from last year and the sector’s earnings now account for 10 percent of the country’s export merchandise earnings.

Kiwifruit has become the “poster fruit” for the horticultural industry’s success, now generating over a third of that export income followed by wine accounting for $1.8 billion of export earnings and apples at $830 million.

This year’s grape harvest of all of these crops bought real challenges, falling as they did while the Covid-19 lockdown commenced with social distancing rules and limited travel all impacting both in the field and within processing facilities. . . 


Rural round-up

May 29, 2020

Oxford research: Livestock emission calculations could be ‘unfair and inefficient’ – Sylvester Phelan:

The way that governments are setting targets for different greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could be “unfair, inefficient and dangerous”, according to researchers at Oxford University – referencing the calculations of livestock emissions such as methane in particular as inaccurate.

Researchers from the LEAP (Livestock, Environment and People) project, based at the Oxford Martin School, made the argument in a paper published in Environmental Research Letters last month.

In the paper, the scientists say the commonly-used GWP100 (Global Warming Potential) method “obscures how different emissions contribute to global temperature change”. . . 

Forestry reform bill ‘cumbersome and unworkable’ – industry– Eric Frykberg:

There has been scathing criticism of the government’s latest forestry reforms at a parliamentary select committee.

The reforms are part of the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on Budget night] and has already surfaced for consideration at a parliamentary select committee.

This law would require forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to join a register and agree to work on nationally agreed standards.

The aim was to reduce the number of logs being exported raw and to direct more towards New Zealand sawmills and create jobs as a result. . .

Farm Environment Plans come out on top for growers and the environment:

Farm Environment Plans have come out on top as the best way for vegetable and fruit growers to manage their environmental impact and at the same time, provide evidence to regulators. 

That’s the finding of independent research called Joining the Dots, conducted by Agrilink NZ and New Zealand Good Agricultural Practice (NZGAP) for the New Zealand horticulture industry.  (Farm Environment Plans are part of the horticulture industry’s GAP programmes.)   

Horticulture New Zealand Sustainability and Extension Manager, Ailsa Robertson says the research is exactly what the industry has needed to support the use of Farm Environment Plans. 

‘Joining the Dots shows what we knew all along, which is that Farm Environment Plans are the best tools for growers to use to understand their environmental impact and put in place actions to reduce that impact, where necessary.  . . 

Federated Farmers – Rabobank remuneration survey shows good growth in farmer pay:

Strong growth in pay packages in the last two years is another reason for New Zealanders to consider a career in agriculture, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. 

The 2020 Federated Farmers – Rabobank Farm Remuneration Report, released today, shows that between 2017/2018 and 2019/20, the mean total remuneration package (i.e. salary plus benefits such as accommodation, meat, firewood, Kiwisaver, etc) has increased significantly for farm employees across all sectors groups. 

Based on survey responses relating to nearly 3,000 on-farm positions, the report shows the mean farm employee remuneration package for dairy farm workers rose by 9.7% to $57,125, across sheep/beef farm roles it was up by 7.6% to $55,568, across grain farms it was up by 3.1% to $58,800 and in ‘other’ specialist farm roles outside standard position descriptions, it was up by 16% to $61,288.  . . 

After seven years Alison Gibb steps of Dairy Women’s Network board:

After seven years Alison Gibb will pull up her chair as a Trustee at next week’s Dairy Women’s Network board meeting for the last time.

“It’s time to step back and let fresh eyes and input take the organisation to the next level, and it’s also important for me that I move on to new challenges,” she said.

“I was on the appointments committee for the three replacements (for the Dairy Women’s Network Board) and believe that they will bring a different set of skills and provide an exciting freshness to the board.” . . 

Wine growers hope harvest fortunes will remain golden – Tracy Neal:

Marlborough winemakers are hoping the best harvest in a decade will help shore up exports and cellar door sales.

Covid-19 hit hardest as the harvest was in full-swing, forcing a rapid shift in how it was managed.

Now the grapes are in, some say the hard work is only just starting as they strive to maintain markets.

On a late autumn morning, as the fog was just lifting off the hills above the Wairau River, Huia Winery’s team of three – Claire Allan, husband Mike and daughter Sophie, were taking a break amid the tanks and wooden barrels in their organic winery. . .


Rural round-up

April 26, 2020

Mental health during a global pandemic:

Farmers are used to adversity. We are used to our livelihoods, and our families effected by forces beyond our control.

We watch as our entire crop is destroyed in a ten-minute storm. We grieve powerless, as disease rips through our herd. And we have seen our food stores burnt to the ground during times of conflict. We watch market prices tank when global production is good, we pray for rain, for markets, for health and for safety. And, on a daily basis we pray for an understanding of who we are and what we do.

Under the pressure of a global pandemic it is suddenly as if the entire world knows a little of what it is to be a farmer. We are perhaps at once the most connected and disconnected as we will ever be, we are a world experiencing fear, failure, grief, anxiety, and hope. And we are experiencing it together and all too often, alone . . 

Rotorua Lakes Council accused of ‘no show’ on SNAs – Felix Desmarais:

Farmers are “disappointed” after Rotorua Lakes Council failed to independently submit on a piece of government policy they say could result in a six percent increase in rates.

But the council says Local Government NZ submitted on its behalf and it does not submit on all proposed policy and legislation changes.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) closed submissions on 14 March. . .

Review of methane contribution a step in the right direction:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s request to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to review and provide advice to the Government on New Zealand’s international greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Climate Change Commission is best placed to ensure there’s consistency between New Zealand’s international and domestic targets, and to provide scientifically-sound, depoliticised advice to the Government.  We support Minister Shaw’s request to the Commission,” says B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager Dylan Muggeridge. 

“The Government took a world leading split-gas approach to the Zero Carbon Act and we ask that the Commission consider if New Zealand’s international target should be recommunicated as a split-gas target. “ . . 

Independent grocers ask for flexibility to open in alert level 3 – Indira Stewart:

The government has been asked for flexibility to allow more independent grocers and other food outlets to fully open at level 3, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The lockdown has crippled produce supply to New Zealanders despite supermarkets staying open and many independent growers and grocers say their businesses might not survive the next few weeks.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Covid-19 crisis had stopped nearly 30 percent of fresh produce making it to retail shelves. . .

Hunters should be allowed on conservation land:

Hunting restrictions at level 3 should be relaxed even further to allow for hunting on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“It simply doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable to hunt on private land but not conservation land.

“Many hunters don’t have access to private land and rely on their local conservation areas to take part.

“ACC data shows that hunting is a safe recreational activity and that those who participate take health and safety seriously. In terms of fatalities hunting is about six times safer than swimming and three and a half times safer than road cycling. . . .

Farm Environment awards recognise value of NZ farmers:

The Covid-19 lockdown has prompted organisers of New Zealand’s most prestigious farm awards to take an innovative approach when recognising this year’s top farmers.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award’s ceremony schedule was interrupted by the country going into lockdown on March 23, after the announcement of only two regions’ winners, Canterbury and East Coast.

“We were determined to keep up the recognition of our other nine regional winners, even if it meant we had to do away with the ceremony and occasion that accompanies it. So we will kick off on April 22 with our first “on line” ceremony, for the Horizons region,” says James Ryan, general manager for award backers the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 


Rural round-up

April 19, 2020

Dairy farmers committed to water quality – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers are committed to protecting New Zealand’s environment and taking action on-farm to support that, says DairyNZ.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for environment, Dr David Burger says the dairy sector is on the journey to improve and protect water quality outcomes.

His comments came at the release of Our Freshwater 2020 report, highlighting New Zealand’s environmental challenges and where we can all play our part.

“Our farmers have been working toward this for over a decade. We are continuing to do more every year,” says Burger.  . .

Demand in China good news for Fonterra :

China’s economy is “slowly returning to normal”, a fact that is reflected in last week’s positive Global Dairy Trade auction, says Fonterra’s Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers.

“Chinese participation [in the GDT] was pretty strong and it gives us some hope. China’s experience with Covid shows us that overall demand for dairy does recover” Rivers told The Country Early Edition’s Rowena Duncum.

Fonterra was also beginning to see demand for “out of home consumption” returning, as China started to open up more restaurants, said Rivers. . . 

NZ economy – sapped by Covid-19 – gets a lift from exports helped by kiwifruit – Point of Order:

The Covid-19 pandemic has savaged   several   of  New Zealand’s major  foreign exchange  earners,  particularly  tourism.  Even those still  trading  into  markets  that have   held up  well   face  an uncertain  outlook.

Yet the red  meat industry, whose exports earned NZ $9bn last year, and  the  $3bn  kiwifruit   industry  look as if they will be up there with the dairy  industry  as vital  props  underpinning  the  NZ  economy over coming years.

For  meat  producers, after the significant drop at the beginning of the year from the combined effect of Chinese New Year and Covid-19,  the return of China to the market, has been a positive factor compensating for the pandemic-led disruption to traditional European and North American markets. . . 

Lack of market access still a concern for growers in level 3 response – Tracy Neal:

The country’s fruit and vegetable growers say moving to level 3 on the Covid-19 scale will ease pressure on some in the sector, but many consumers still won’t be able to get their greens.

From later next week businesses and industries not considered essential, but able to demonstrate they can operate safely, could be back up and running if the government announces on Monday a move to level 3.

Head of Horticulture New Zealand, Mike Chapman, said that was good news for orchard development programmes as construction, trades and manufacturing look set to be revived. . .

Covid-19 level 3 hunting ban:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc (NZDA) is disappointed that hunting has seemingly been blanket banned following the Government’s release of its Covid-19 Level 3 guidance yesterday.

The NZDA is calling for a re-think and further clarification by Government and strongly recommends that hunting should be permitted at Level 3 subject to the overriding health and safety guidelines imposed on permitted activities and adherence to the “keep it local” and “apply common sense” principles stated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

NZDA National President, Trevor Chappell says, “There are many elements that make up hunting and that needs careful consideration by Government. The NZDA is open to consultation and can help draft a framework for hunters. NZDA also strongly advises that Government urgently seeks the input of the Game Animal Council, Fish & Game, Mountain Safety Council, Professional Guides Association and others like the NZDA who each can offer a deep understanding on the subject because we all represent different stakeholders in the hunting industry”. . .

Economic recovery from Covid 19 through development of infrastructure – Primary Land Users Group:

Currently New Zealand is in the early stages of an economic crisis due to the advent of the Coronavirus and its effects through the level 4 Emergency lockdown provisions and others.

The current coalition government is proposing taking direct action to support the economic recovery from the effects of the lockdown by using infrastructure development in what they are calling “shovel ready projects” to stimulate the national economy.

This is in effect a brilliant strategy “Yeah Right”.

Anybody that truly believes this strategy will give the desired results must be totally divorced from the actual reality of New Zealand’s development constrictions with the most influential one being the Resource Management Act. . .  . . 

NZDIA national judging programme to continue:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) are pleased to announce that Nationals Judging 2020 will continue, within the guidelines of Covid-19 restrictions.

“After consulting our finalists, national sponsors and stakeholders, we have carefully designed a robust judging process that will enable a fair and level playing field, minimise stress to entrants and focus on finding the best farmers,” says NZDIA General Manager, Robin Congdon.

“Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, finalists will be asked to submit their presentations for judging digitally and speak with the judges online rather than face-to-face.” . . 

South Island salmon harvest survey to start:

South Island salmon anglers are being asked for their help in the first east coast wide salmon harvest survey.

The Nelson/Marlborough, North Canterbury, Central South Island and Otago Fish and Game Councils are asking anglers to actively participate in the annual sea-run salmon harvest survey that is about to be undertaken.

The survey comes at a critical time when sea run salmon populations are at depressed levels and the Covid-19 alert level restrictions may compromise the ability of Fish & Game to undertake annual population monitoring in the field, like helicopter-assisted spawning surveys. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2020

Drought, Covid-19 expected to slow primary sector export revenue – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries expects drought and Covid-19 coronavirus will slow the growth of primary sector export revenue.

MPI’s latest situation and outlook report forecasts primary sector revenue will rise 0.5 per cent in the year to June 2020 to $46.5 billion.

This forecast is $1.3 billion lower than the previous forecast published by MPI in December, with downward revisions to most sectors, particularly dairy, meat and wool, and forestry. . . 

Big Healthy Rivers changes mooted :

Widespread changes to the Healthy Rivers plan that will remove some of its more contentious elements have been recommended.

The hearings panel formed to consider submissions and recommend changes to the Waikato Regional Council has released its findings.

They want to scrap the requirement for all farmers to establish a nitrogen reference points (NRP). . . 

Horticulture’s growth is thanks to growers:

New Zealand horticulture’s steady growth of nearly three percent to more than $6 billion a year in export earnings1 is thanks to passionate growers, quality produce, and decades of investment, says Horticulture New Zealand. 

‘New Zealand’s growers are committed to the long-term future of the industry.  Their fruit and vegetables are the envy of the world, particularly with current concerns around health and wellbeing,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘The industry’s steady growth reflects decades of investment in research and development in new varieties and efficient growing techniques.  Our growers know their stuff and are committed to doing the best for the environment as well as for the people they employ.  . .

 

A2 Milk expands North American footprint with licensing deal :

Speciality dairy company A2 Milk is expanding into Canada through a venture with the local co-operative Agrifoods.

A2 will give Agrifoods access to its intellectual property and marketing systems, as well as work with it to get the necessary milk from Canadian dairy farmers.

Chief growth and brand officer Susan Massasso said it was part of the company’s plans to expand its North American market. . .

20 sheep and beef finalists announced for the 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

This year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards finalists have been announced and out of 50 finalists across 11 regions, 20 are sheep and beef farmers.

Run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) celebrate good farm practices and promote sustainable land management.

Category award winners and the supreme winners will be announced at an Awards dinner in each region, starting with the East Coast on 4 March. Find more details and a full list of the finalists on NZFET’s website. . . 

David and Prue Bondfield step back from daily Palgrove operations :

LIVESTOCK industry champions David and Prue Bondfield are stepping back from daily operations at Palgrove, with both to remain as directors of the large scale genetics company.

The decision follows the development of Palgrove as one of the largest seedstock and commercial producers in Australia, with significant land assets across Queensland and NSW.

Mr Bondfield said well-planned business succession was critical to the success of an innovative enterprise like Palgrove. . .


Rural round-up

December 14, 2019

RSE scheme ‘transformed’ the NZ fruit growing industry – Eva Corlett:

Millions of dollars worth of New Zealand fruit and grapes were at risk of rotting on the branch due to a shortage of local pickers. So a visionary group of Central Otago growers took a chance on guest workers from the Pacific, who also took a chance on them.

In the early 2000s the orchards and vineyards of central Otago were heavy with fruit. Peaches, cherries and grapes were ready to be plucked, boxed and shipped all over the world. But there was a problem. There weren’t enough people to pick them. 

Hiring backpackers and students on holiday was the usual practice, but it was risky, James Dicey, the man behind Mt Difficulty wines says.  . .

Rick’s Beef – world first tool to slow methane :

In a world first, New Zealand sheep farmers now have the ability to breed animals that emit less methane.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has launched a “methane research breeding value”. Breeding value (BV) is used to help select important traits ram breeders want to bolster in their flock, such as low methane-producing animals.

The launching of this significant breeding tool is thanks to a 10-year, multimillion-dollar collaboration between the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and AgResearch, supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

Feds happy to see recognition for the future of farming:

The government’s launch today of a strategy for the future of farming will encourage farmers to continue with the work they are already doing, constantly focusing on improving their farming operations, Federated Farmers says.

It is particularly pleasing to see the focus in the Primary Sector Council’s vision on the need to develop a mindset that embraces science, technology, research and development, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.

“I was also pleased to see the focus on infrastructure in here. . . 

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes the Primary Sector Council’s unification vision

Horticulture New Zealand says the Primary Sector Council’s vision to align the food and fibre sector is the right one, because it will enable the sector and the Government to respond collectively to current and future challenges.

‘This is right for our sector as only by working together, will we respond successfully to consumer and government requirements,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Consumers across the world are more and more interested in knowing exactly how the food they eat has been grown, harvested and transported. They also want to know that the environment has been well looked after, as have the people that have been involved in producing the food. . . 

Council funding recommendations deserve action – Feds says:

Some worthwhile recommendations but ultimately underwhelming is Federated Farmers’ summary of the Productivity Commission’s final report on local government funding and financing.

“On the whole, the inquiry and the final report don’t move the dial much on local government funding issues and will provide little comfort for long-suffering ratepayers, especially farmers who pay a disproportionate share of the burden,” Feds President and local government spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“It looks like we’ll be sticking with over-reliance on a property-value based rating system that for farmers in particular can have no correlation to services used or cost-sharing fairness.  And of course the Commission was never going to find an answer to councils that don’t exercise financial discipline and hike rates well ahead of inflation.” . . 

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Rural round-up

November 29, 2019

Rates performance nothing to raise a glass to, Feds says:

It’s pretty telling when your cost hikes outrun even those of booze and cigarettes.

Council rates and fees outstripped every other consumer price index cost group between 2000 and 2019, the Federated Farmers 2019 Rates Report shows.

“It’s pretty much expected that prices of alcohol and tobacco products shoot up, especially with regular government tax increases, and indeed they jumped 120% in the last two decades,” Feds President and local government spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“But local authorities left them for dead, hiking their costs more than 170% – more than three times the CPI for all cost groups in New Zealand.” . .

Plenty promulgating prejudiced assumptions about farmers – Anna Campbell:

Recently, I was called out for frightening ‘‘mum and dad farmers’’ when I wrote about the threat of cellular agriculture and alternate proteins to agricultural products.

I think anyone in business should be aware of threats and New Zealand farmers have a track record of adjusting to markets as they need to, so I’m OK with being called out, but I did feel uncomfortable with the term ‘‘mum and dad farmers’’. What does that mean?

The majority of farms, including those run by families, are multimillion-dollar enterprises with complex cash-flows — romantic as farming can look, producing food for export is no cottage industry.

OK Anna, don’t get caught up on semantics, but it was not long after that I read an ODT interview with the new Otago Regional Council chairwoman, Marian Hobbs (October 29), here is an excerpt from the article: ‘‘she had problems with the growing number of huge farms owned by large landowners and corporations farmed by others ‘‘I wonder if they have the same love for the land, but that may be a prejudice I have to sort out.’’

Yes, that prejudice does need to be sorted out. Implying corporate farmers won’t care for the environment is presumptuous.  . . 

NZ lamb industry unfazed as British supermarket Waitrose ends imports :

Plans for the British supermarket Waitrose to phase out the importation of New Zealand lamb are disappointing but do not spell trouble for the sector, the meat industry says.

Having previously sourced lamb from New Zealand during the UK’s winter months, Waitrose announced this week it will aim to complete the move to 100 percent British lamb in 2021.

A Waitrose spokesperson, Tor Harris, said it showed the company’s commitment to British farmers and to the future of agriculture inside Britain. . . 

Dairy farmers producing more milk from fewer cows, latest ‘cow census’ shows:

The latest New Zealand Dairy Statistics released today by DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) reveal farmers’ focus on productivity and efficiency is paying off with milk production increasing despite cow numbers stabilising.

The 2018-19 cow census shows that total cow numbers have remained relatively stable, but the cows we do have are producing more milk than ever before.

New Zealand reached record milk production per herd and per cow this year, with dairy companies processing 21.2 billion litres of milk containing 1.88 billion kilograms of milk solids – both up 2.4% on the previous season. . .

Future proofing vegetable growing in Pukekohe:

More than 50 people are finding more about how to manage vegetable growing in Pukekohe in a changing regulatory environment, thanks to Horticulture New Zealand, Vegetables New Zealand, Potatoes New Zealand, Onions New Zealand and the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers’ Association.

‘Growers, their advisers, fertiliser companies, and Auckland Council attended our first workshop,’ says Horticulture New Zealand Sustainability and Extension Manager, Ailsa Robertson.

‘It’s great to get everyone in the same room as a step towards getting everyone on the same page.  Our thanks to Pukekohe Vegetable Growers’ Association Acting President, Kylie Faulkner for helping get the workshops off the ground. . . 

New members join Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Investment Advisory Panel:

Lucy Griffiths of Masterton and Anne-Marie Broughton of Whanganui have been appointed to the independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP) for Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures).

With $40 million available each year from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), SFF Futures supports problem-solving and innovation in New Zealand’s food and fibre industries that will make a positive and lasting difference. It offers a single gateway to apply for investment, and provides grants of less than $100,000, right up to multi-million dollar, multi-year partnerships. . .


Rural round-up

November 17, 2019

Under the sacred mountain

East Cape farmers Rob and Mary Andrews appreciate the opportunities they have been given by people who they have worked for in the past and they enjoy returning the favour to others, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

As the first place in the world to see the sun as it rises every day Mount Hikurangi is on a few bucket lists.

But few people venture to Pakihiroa Farms, about 20km inland from Ruatoria, where Rob and Mary Andrews live and work and which includes the mountain in its boundaries.

The farm is in an isolated spot in a part of the country that does not attract a lot of passing traffic, given it’s not on the way for most New Zealanders.  . . 

Busy gets busier – Cheyenne Nicholson:

An artificial insemination run is just one of many things a West Coast farmer has up her sleeve to generate extra income for the farm. Cheyenne Nicholson reports. 

RUNNING an Airbnb, milking 140 cows and raising two small children keep Hokitika 50:50 sharemilkers Thomas and Hannah Oats busy.

And if that isn’t enough, Hannah, in a bid expand her skills, to benefit their own business and generate some extra income has trained and qualified to become an artificial insemination technician. . . 

Cherry on top for station’s returns :

Twelve hectares of cherry trees planted in September at Mt Pisa Station, Central Otago complete the first stage of a $15.5 million cherry project by the horticultural investment firm Hortinvest.

Mt Pisa Station’s landowners, the MacMillan family, are among the investors who underwrote the planting. The sheep and beef business has set aside 80ha of prime pastoral land for the venture as it diversifies into horticulture.

The orchard will produce cherries for export from the summer of 2021-2022. . . 

Hort export figures challenged – Pam Tipa:

Horticulture’s export revenue growth is likely to be about 10% in the current financial year – not the 3.8% forecast by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Horticulture NZ (HortNZ) chief executive Mike Chapman says he doesn’t know where MPI got its figure in the Situation and Outlook report for Primary Industries.

Growth for horticulture was 13.7% in the year ended June 2019 in the September updated report. But it is forecast to be down to 3.8% in the current year.

HortNZ has asked how MPI arrived at that forecast because the report doesn’t say. . . 

Growth, exports recognised – Luisa Girao:

An Invercargill Blue River Dairy manager believes the company is changing the face of the New Zealand dairy industry and recent recognition adds support to such a view.

Earlier this week, the Southland-based company received awards for fastest-growing manufacturing business and fastest-growing exporter at the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards, held in Auckland, which ranks the country’s fastest-growing businesses.

The company was also announced as the fifth-fastest-growing business overall. . . 

People keep stealing hemp from US farms, thinking it’s weed – Jason Nark:

People see the serrated leaves and the fuzzy buds from afar, but it’s the familiar smell wafting over the field that seals the deal.

They pack a not-so-brilliant idea into their heads and scramble to yank the hardy plants right from the soil. Back home, they light up and sit sober in the smoke, writing off their heist as a bunch of dank weed.

Hemp resembles marijuana, its much more psychoactive cousin, in just about every way except one: It probably won’t get you high. People in the US state of Pennsylvania caught stealing hemp still haven’t figured that out. . . 


Working with better than against

October 25, 2019

The government has seen sense and is accepting the primary sector’s proposal on agricultural emissions.

The agreement means agriculture will not join the Emissions Trading Scheme but instead work with the Government to reduce emissions.

There will be no processor levy from 2020 to 2025 as initially proposed but farmers and growers will have to implement farm plans and calculate their emissions and offsets at the farmgate from 2025.

A processor level would have penalised more efficient farmers and given no-one an incentive to improve.

Such a tax would have taken money from farmers, leaving them with less to invest in on-farm solutions.

Progress will be reviewed in 2022 and if the Government is unhappy it will revert to the original legislation.

That threat will hang over the sector but at least there’s breathing space.

We are pleased that the Government has recognised that it does not make sense to bring agriculture into the ETS and that we have a pathway to work with the Government to develop a more appropriate framework,” the sector said in a joint statement.

“We welcome this pragmatic and sensible decision by the Government to work in partnership with industry to achieve tangible on-farm change and hope that it might provide a blueprint for the way we work together to solve environmental challenges in the future.”

Would it be too much to hope a similar approach could be taken to water policy?

The 11-member primary sector group has committed $25m over five years to achieve these goals.

That group is Apiculture NZ, Beef + Lamb, DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association, Deer Industry NZ, Federation of Maori Authorities, Foundation for Arable Research, Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ and the Meat Industry Association. . .

This shows the importance of unity and what can be achieved when working together.

It also shows the sense of government working with the sector instead of trying to impose impossible goals on it.

Federated Farmers’ response is here.

DairyNZ’s response is here.

 


Deliberate or ignorant?

September 10, 2019

The government’s Action for healthy waterways has a lot to say about farming but was developed without any input from the industry groups like Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ,  Deer Industry NZ, Federated Farmers and  Horticulture NZ.

It proposes new requirements that would:

  • strengthen Te Mana o Te Wai as the framework for freshwater management
  • better provide for ecosystem health (water, fish and plant life)
  • better protect wetlands and estuaries
  • better manage stormwater and wastewater, and protect sources of drinking water
  • control high-risk farming activities and limit agricultural intensification
  • improve farm management practices.

Eric Crampton points out that proposals could bankrupt some farmers.

 . . .Let’s step back and consider why strict targets without compensation are likely to cause a lot of bankruptcies. 

Farm purchases and dairy conversions are often heavily leveraged. Farmers will have borrowed to purchase the land and to put in the infrastructure improvements for irrigation and dairying. The selling price of the land, and the amounts that banks have been willing to lend, reflect the expected return that comes from the business. 

That return builds in certain expectations of the regulatory environment. 

Farmers have never had to pay for water directly. The value of water instead is reflected in the value of an irrigation consent tied to a piece of land. Research done earlier this decade suggested that land with an irrigation consent traded for up to fifty per cent more than comparable land without a consent. In other words, the value of the water was already incorporated into the selling price of the land. And that value will not have gone down over the intervening years.

A big change in the regulatory environment around water abstraction, or around allowable nutrient runoff or on-farm practices, would substantially change the cost calculus for already heavily leveraged farms. Costs go up, returns go down, and net cash flow is insufficient to pay the mortgage. Hello, bankruptcy. . . 

This isn’t fear-mongering.

The proposals are as drastic as the changes that precipitated the ag-sag of the 1980s.

Farmers are very aware of the costs and risks to their businesses. The government appears not to be worried about that, but have they taken into account the huge economic hit the country would take with the huge fall in production, and therefore export-earnings?

The paper was launched last week, consultation meetings have started, mostly in cities, and people have only six weeks to submit.

That is a very short time for people to read, absorb, reflect and respond let alone right in the middle of lambing and calving, the busiest time of the year for dairy, beef and sheep farms.

Is the timing deliberate or are those behind it simply ignorant of the demands placed on farmers in spring?

A cynic might think they know but don’t care.

The goal of clean water is one no-one should argue against but the government would have a much better chance of reaching it, without a huge economic and social cost, if it worked with farmers and their industry groups, and gave more time for them to come up with practical solutions.

 


Rural round-up

August 6, 2019

We’re on board but don’t kill the cash cow – Dr TIm Mackle:

Dairy farmers in New Zealand are world leading producers of low emissions milk, writes Tim Mackle, chief executive of DairyNZ.

We have a reputation for sustainability and we want to keep it that way. While we are committed to playing our part in the transition to a low emissions economy – alongside the rest of NZ – it must be done fairly and consider the science as well as the economic impacts.

There is more in the Zero Carbon Bill that we agree with than we disagree with, but we have serious reservations about the Government’s proposed 2050 methane reduction target of 24 – 47%.  . . 

Don’t sacrifice science for ideology – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Contrary to recent suggestions in the media, there is very little credible research supporting the success of homeopathic treatment of mastitis in dairy cows.

In fact, reviews published recently covering research since 1970 concluded that ‘homeopathic treatments are not efficient for management of clinical mastitis’. A second review covering research since 1981 concluded that ‘the use of homeopathy currently cannot claim to have sufficient prognostic validity where efficacy is concerned’. 

In plain English, if you want to cure your cow, use the antibiotics which have been the subject of rigorous research and been shown to reduce infection. And, of course, suffering. . . 

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes calls it a day :

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes will step down from the industry good body’s board this October.

One of DairyNZ’s Board of Directors for eight years, Mr Allomes was elected by dairy farmer levy payers in 2011, as one of five farmer-elected directors. Since then, the Woodville-based dairy farmer has played a key role contributing to the governance of DairyNZ and provided key support around a range issues, in particular around people and talent.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel credits Ben for his contribution to the board and his tireless advocacy for dairy farmers. . . 

The Innovative farmer: Generating innovation through a farmer and grower-led system of innovation – Matt Hocken:

Executive Summary

The genesis for my Nuffield Scholarship research was a sense that farmers and growers have a number of significant challenges or problems, both on-farm and off that have not been solved, or we are struggling to solve. As we milk, shear, tend and harvest, thousands of farmer and grower-minds around the country turn to these problems and to the dreams we have for the future. We think about our immediate problems, like how much grass have I got to feed my animals, or do I have a water leak?

We think about system problems, like how will I reduce my nutrient use, or what is my environmental footprint? We think about the tough problems like changing consumer preferences, or heightened society expectations and how can we reconcile these. Collectively we think and dream of a hundred thousand ideas. At the moment very little happens with many of these ideas. I want to change that. . .

Food chandeliers highlight grower’s gathering – Gerald Piddock:

Grabbing the low hanging fruit took on a new meaning at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference at Mystery Creek.

Decorating the main conference are four chandeliers covered with fruit and vegetables, providing a colourful reminder to growers of their contribution to feeding the New Zealanders.

The chandeliers – each weighing an estimated 200-500kg – contained 250-300 pieces of fruit or vegetables held together by cable ties or hooks similar to those used by butchers to keep the produce in place. . . 

‘Environmental misinformation is damaging British beef market’, Yorkshire farming leader says – Ben Barnett:

Inaccurate portrayals of livestock’s environmental role risk turning off shoppers from buying red meat at a time when British beef offers the best value for money, a farming leader has warned.

Amid the lowest farmgate prices for beef cattle in years due to a market oversupply, some retailers are offering price promotions on premium cuts.

Nonetheless, North Yorkshire farmer Richard Findlay said a culture of misinformation about the impact of livestock on the environment means consumers could spurn the chance to support British beef at a critical time for farm businesses. . . 


Rural round-up

August 1, 2019

Rural folk – defend yourselves – Robin Greer:

As a proud Southland dairy farmer the wellbeing of our rural families concerns me greatly.

They are constantly bombarded with the hypocrisy of extreme groups and some ministers in our Government.

Many use mistruths to persuade people agriculture needs to be removed from the New Zealand landscape.

We have ministers in the Government who hate dairy farmers and their legacy is to deal with us.

Many of the statements made by some of these people would be called hate speech had it been directed at a different group of the community but farmers are fair game. . . .

First women to graduate from world-leading irrigation design programme :

The latest group of graduates in New Zealand’s Level 5 Certificate in Irrigation Design include the first two women to have done this course.

New Zealand is the only country in the world to have a national qualification in irrigation design.

“IrrigationNZ is proud to have been part of successfully graduating these students from this important course – which will become critical as farmers and businesses increasingly need state-of-the-art irrigation systems to demonstrate efficient and sustainable use of our shared water resources,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal.

“The qualification recognises the specialist skills needed to design technically efficient and environmentally sustainable irrigation systems. . .

New Zealand must learn to talk about ‘evolving technologies’ – Sir Peter Gluckman – Eric Frykberg:

New Zealanders should get to grips with gene technology and not bury their heads in sands of short-term thinking, according to one of this country’s leading scientific thinkers.

Sir Peter Gluckman is a former chief science adviser to the prime minister, who has held many academic posts and currently heads a multidisciplinary think tank at Auckland University.

In a speech to the annual conference of Horticulture New Zealand, Sir Peter said New Zealanders must seriously debate evolving technology such as gene editing, and not leave it mired in rhetoric, and conflated with politics.

Sir Peter told his audience there had been centuries of change in organisms’ genetic make-up, which was speeded up with gene transplants in the 1970s. . . 

Third time lucky for winners – Luke Chivers:

Romney genetics and consistency guide Brian and Anna Coogan’s farming philosophy. They told Luke Chivers about winning the annual, national ewe hogget competition.

Convinced by his wife Anna to enter the national ewe hogget competition Brian Coogan has walked away with the top honours.

The Taihape farmer took out the Romney and flock performance sections, finishing just 0.33 of a point ahead of runners-up Allan and Leeann Woodrow of Waikana before going on to win the overall breeds supreme award in the 23rd annual event in Christchurch. . .

Value of red meat exports up by eight percent :

The value of red meat exports of sheep, beef and co-products increased by eight percent to $8.8 billion for the year to June 2019, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association.

More than 399,470 tonnes of sheepmeat was dispatched, similar to 2018 volumes but the value of these exports increased by six percent.

For beef, export volumes were up by nine percent to more than 453,202 tonnes with a 13 percent increase in value. Co-products exports increased by five percent. . .

Global meat-eating is on the rise, bringing surprising benefits

Things were different 28 years ago, when Zhou Xueyu and her husband moved from the coastal province of Shandong to Beijing and began selling fresh pork. The Xinfadi agricultural market where they opened their stall was then a small outpost of the capital. Only at the busiest times of year, around holidays, might the couple sell more than 100kg of meat in a day. With China’s economic boom just beginning, pork was still a luxury for most people.

Ms Zhou now sells about two tonnes of meat a day. In between expert whacks of her heavy cleaver, she explains how her business has grown. She used to rely on a few suppliers in nearby provinces. . . 

Livestock grazing is vital ‘interference’ to boost biodiversity, new Plantlife study finds – Ben Barnett:

Livestock grazing has a crucial role to play in addressing a dramatic decline in biodiversity-rich wildflower meadows, according to a prominent botanist who warns that totally abandoning land to nature will do more environmental harm than good.

By allowing nature to ‘rewild’ landscapes unchecked, three-quarters of the UK’s most threatened species would decline or disappear altogether within just three years, Dr Trevor Dines said.

Environmentalists have called for the so-called rewilding of parts of the countryside to address historic environmental damage and to help absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but habitats such as wildflower meadows need sufficient levels of grazing and management to prevent them from being lost, Dr Dines said. . .


Rural round-up

July 27, 2019

Huge challenge facing RMA review panel:

Federated Farmers believes the Government has set a substantial challenge in its announcement of a review into the Resource Management Act.

The organisation agrees with Environment Minister David Parker that because of frequent amendments, the RMA is now overly cumbersome, costly and complex.

“The review will be no easy task. It will need to consider wide and diverse opinions and concerns. There are few organisations which have been more intricately and routinely involved in resource management processes across the country since the Act first came into force than Federated Farmers, so we consider our active input on the review panel will be vital,” Federated Farmers resource management spokesperson Chris Allen says. . .

Eliminating ‘M bovis’ tough but correct call – Peter Bodeker:

The Ministry for Primary Industries remains confident it can eradicate M.bovis from New Zealand,  Peter Bodeker says.

July marks two years since Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand, kicking off the largest biosecurity response we’ve ever seen.

Along with the entire country, Otago has been affected – facing immense challenges in dealing with this disease, and the ongoing effort to eradicate it. . .

More Miraka farmers win for excellence :

Miraka’s insistence on sustainable farming practices has shown results in more farms winning honours in the recent Te Ara Miraka farming excellence awards.

“Since establishing the awards four years ago we’ve started to see significant change in on farm practices,” says Grant Jackson, general manager milk supply. “

We’re not just meeting the regulations, that’s mandatory for us. Rather we’re going over and above, to achieve excellence in animal welfare, sustainable land management, looking after employees and premium quality milk.”  . . 

Young Farmer passionate about improving dairy’s environmental footprint :

A pair of fantails flit above Robert Barry’s head as he bends down to inspect a predator trap at the base of a totara tree.

The towering native is in a pristine bush block on a farm owned by the BEL Group near Waipukurau in central Hawke’s Bay.

The eight-hectare block is protected by a Queen Elizabeth II Trust covenant and is dotted with almost a dozen traps. . . 

Tenure agreement reached for Canterbury high country station

A tenure review agreement has been reached for the North Canterbury high country station, Island Hills.

Under the soon-to-be scrapped tenure review process, leased high-country Crown land can be signed over to farmers, provided they set aside areas for conservation.

Land Information New Zealand said 1600 hectares would be transferred to the Crown as conservation estate and 3200 will be freehold subject to conservation covenants, that restricts activities such as grazing and vegetation clearance.

The remaining 200 hectares would be freehold without restrictions. . . 

How do riparian strips fare long term – Bert Quin:

Could our riparian systems become overloaded and therefore useless? Riparian strips are correctly promoted as useful tools for reducing environmental pollution, especially for their ability to filter out faecal bacteria and sediment before these enter streams. But there is much more to it, writes Bert Quin.

Many frequently made claims for the ability of riparian strips to improve water quality are based on very short-term studies only. This is particularly true of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) removal.

Unfortunately, we are now in the days of emphasis on short-term, quick-results trials that lend themselves to publication in many different journals to ensure more cash from equally short-sighted funding organisations and companies with vested interests. . .


Food security paramount

July 26, 2019

Horticulture New Zealand says  the Zero Carbon Bill must amended to include all the Paris Agreement, including safeguarding food production.

‘At the moment, the Bill just focuses on one part of the Agreement, climate change,’ said HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman who appeared before the Climate Change Select Committee this morning. 

‘The full Agreement makes it quite clear that countries need to find ways to adapt to climate change “in a manner that does not threaten food production”. 

‘As currently drafted, the New Zealand Bill makes no mention of food production.  To the horticulture industry, this is a significant oversight given this legislation will be fundamental to New Zealand’s future. 

It’s also a sign of how blinkered the government is to primary production and its importance to New Zealand.

‘New Zealand’s primary sector is already one of the most carbon efficient in the world.  However, to meet future obligations, we will need to reduce the carbon needed to produce the whole food basket, while not reducing the volume or nutritional value of that food.’ 

Mr Chapman said as it stands, the Bill is like saying a half built house is completely finished.

‘We feel strongly that the Government needs to honour the full Paris Agreement and make amendments to the Bill to ensure that New Zealand has “food security”. 

‘By the term “food security”, we mean that our country is able to grow all the fresh and healthy food that we as New Zealanders need.  This will be in a world where it is increasingly difficult to import fresh food, due to all manner of challenges.  The impact of climate change, isolationism and trade tariffs will be the key issues.’ 

Food security ought to be of paramount importance to any government.

In New Zealand, given the importance primary production plays in the economy our government ought to be concerned not just about our ability to feed ourselves, but our ability to feed people in other countries too.

Instead it’s allowed its focus on saving the planet to blind itself to the necessity of feeding the country and the world.

The government is asking us all to make sacrifices and pay higher prices to reach its commitment to carbon reduction under the Paris Accord but completely ignoring the Accord’s stipulation that carbon mitigation should not come at the expense of food production.

This blindness is even worse when our contribution to global emissions is tiny and our contribution to world food supplies is significant.

If the government wants us to accept the science on climate change it must follow the science in its response.

If it wants us to help it meet its commitment reduce emissions under the Paris Accord, it must accept the Accord’s requirement to meet commitments without threatening food production.

HNZ’s full submission is here.

 


Primary sector climate change commitment

July 17, 2019

New Zealand farming leaders have agreed to a sector-wide Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment: He Waka Eke:

The primary sector will work in good faith with government and iwi/Maori to design a practical and cost-effective system for reducing emissions at farm level by 2025. The sector will work with government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm practice change, set at the margin and only to the extent necessary to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities that contribute to lower global emissions. The primary sector’s proposed 5-year programme of action is aimed at ensuring farmers and growers are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver emissions reductions while maintaining profitability. . .

Neal Wallace summarises the plan:

Farmers could be about to receive some intensive education on managing greenhouse gas emissions from their farms and orchards.

A proposed five-year programme of action beginning next year has been developed by 11 primary sector groups as diverse as Apiculture NZ, Horticulture NZ, the Federation of Maori Authorities, Federated Farmers and bodies representing the livestock industry.

The Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment demonstrates efforts the sector is prepared to take to reduce emissions as new technology becomes available.

This means that reducing emissions won’t be at the cost of lower production.

That is important not just for producers’ incomes but New Zealand exports and the income they generate, and global emissions which would increase if less food produced here led to more produced less efficiently in other countries.

It also counters the Interim Climate Change Committee recommendation to introduce a tax on livestock emissions to be collected by processors up to 2025 when the tax will be based on individual farm assessments.

A joint statement by the group says a central tenet of the Government’s discussion document is pricing agricultural emissions.

“The primary sector is seeking to work with Government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm change, contributes to lower global emissions and supports farmers and growers to make practical changes on the ground.

“This will be critically important to enable a smooth transition for the agricultural sector.”

The body’s plan will establish graduated, targeted milestones for goals such as farm environment plans and farm-level measurement of greenhouse gases.

A lot of farms already have farm environment plans.

North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) pioneered requiring independently audited FEPs as a condition of supply. Other companies have followed this example and many farmers have chosen to have FEPs as a commitment to best practice.

However, many of those plans won’t yet be measuring greenhouse gases.

For example, by 2022 the aim is for every farmer to know the level of emissions generated from their farms and by 2025 to have an accounting and reporting system for those emissions.

By the same year all farms will have a farm environment plan and 70% of all farmers will be managing their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with their plan.

The commitment said substantial work has been done to develop methodology and tools to calculate farm-level emissions and extension programmes to educate farmers as well as continued research into methane inhibitors, vaccines and animal genetics. . . 

Continued research is essential to provide the tools farmers will need to reduce emissions without reducing production.

. . . The group wants sequestration to be credited to each farm and farmers should not be required to enter the Emission Trading Scheme to get financial credit for that sequestration.

Pricing should incentivise all forms of sequestration from native bush, riparian planting, shelter belts, orchards and vines.

The document says the primary sector invests $25 million a year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change.

It notes the greenhouse gas footprint for New Zealand dairy production is 30% below Europe’s and less than half the world average while for lamb it is 25% that of the rest of the world.

This point is lost on those, including politicians, who erroneously think reducing livestock numbers here will reduce global emissions.

Just like the oil and gas ban, it would have the perverse outcome of increasing emissions as our less efficient competitors increased production to compensate for less food produced here.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chair Andrew Morrison says the sheep and beef sector here has already reduced absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent since 1990 through improved farming practices and things like better lambing percentages and higher carcase weights.

. . .“Today’s Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment is an evolution of one of the Interim Climate Change Committee’s recommendations, and seeks to achieve the same outcomes faster than would otherwise be the case,” says Mr Morrison.

“Both the primary sector and ICCC agree that a farm-based pricing mechanism is the best way to get action on biological greenhouse gas emissions. Where we differ is that we think we can make faster progress by working with farmers from the get-go to help reduce on-farm emissions and prepare for farm-based pricing from 2025, rather than having an interim processor levy.”

Mr Morrison says that the ability of the primary sector to fund work on developing a farm-based pricing system through existing resources will provide a win-win situation for farmers and the climate.

“A new and blanket levy at the processor level wouldn’t incentivise any on-farm changes and would be seen as farmers as a new tax, which would undermine farmer’s efforts to make positive changes, especially as individual farmers wouldn’t reap the benefits of any improvements they may make.” . .

Imposing a tax rather than finding the tools to enable farmers to reduce emissions would add costs without necessarily changing behaviour.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the Commitment doesn’t just identify a problem – it provides a clear pathway forward and a way for the primary sector to work with the government rather than just impose regulation.

. . .We and the ICCC both agree that a farm-based mechanism is the best way to address biological emissions, however, our views diverge when it comes to how we get there.

“Bringing agriculture into the ETS at the processor level amounts to little more than a broad-based tax on farmers before we have the knowledge, support and tools to drive the practice change that will reduce emissions.

“The stakes are high. New Zealand’s primary sector contributes one fifth of our GDP, generates 1 in 10 jobs and produce 75% of our merchandise exports.  We want to avoid shocks like the 80s and make any changes in a stable and considered way. 

Anything which imposes costs and reduces production would re-create the ag-sag of the 1980s with all the economic and social pain with little or not economic gain.

“As an alternative we have put forward a proposed five-year work programme to build an enduring farm-level emission reduction framework and work with farmers and the wider rural sector to provide real options to reduce their footprint. 

“While appropriate pricing mechanisms for incentivising emissions reductions at farm level can have an important role to play in incentivising change, creating an environment that enables and supports farmers and growers to make changes on-the-ground is equally important to prepare for farm-based pricing from 2025. . . 

Education and research to provide tools to enable change will have a positive and lasting impact that taxes won’t.


Rural round-up

July 8, 2019

Katie Milne addresses national conference:

Kiwis can be proud of the rural women and men who produce the top quality food that arrives daily in supermarkets, and the extra which is shipped offshore as exports that help fuel our economy.  Over 65% of our exports come from agricultural food production and we produce it with a lower carbon footprint than any other country in the world.  

Biosecurity threats, geopolitics, alternative proteins, robotics, disruptors, food and environment sustainability…there’s no shortage of challenges and change confronting us. 

But you should also know – especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to catch some of the keynote addresses and panel discussions of the inaugural Primary Industries Summit that Federated Farmers organised and has hosted Monday and Tuesday – that New Zealand also has a wealth of ideas, talent and drive to deal with these big issues coming at us. . .

Tougher bank capital rules could slice 10% from dairy profits – Rabo NZ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Stricter bank capital requirements would severely dent dairy farm profits if the Reserve Bank goes ahead as planned, warn dairy interests in submissions on the contentious proposals.

“Our initial estimates are that the proposals could – at least in the short term – result in approximately a 10 percent decrease in profit for the agriculture sector,” Rabobank New Zealand said in its submission. . .

Trees replace top cattle – Annette Scott:

As far north as sale yards get in New Zealand the Broadwood selling centre in Northland hosted one of the country’s more notable capital stock clearing sales last week.

On behalf of Mark and Michelle Hammond of Herekino, Carrfields Livestock held the sale of a Hereford beef herd that put 50 years of top-quality genetics under the hammer, the animals’ grazing land destined for pine trees. . .

Ruapehu rural reading scheme spells out a winning idea  –  Katie Doyle:

A pair of librarians from the central North Island town of Taumarunui are bringing a love of reading to rural school children.

Fiona Thomas and Libby Ogle have started their very own mobile library – each month ferrying a load of books to two isolated primary schools in the Ruapehu District.

The idea came to life eighteen months ago when Mrs Thomas realised some kids in the region couldn’t access the library because they lived too away. . .

Blue Sky reports best result in 8 years – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Southland meat processor and marketer Blue Sky Meats says the year to March was its best result in eight years as a strategic plan bore fruit.

The company, which is due to release its annual report shortly, said the March financial year ended with revenue up by 34 percent to a record $140 million. Pre-tax profit was up 36 percent at $5 million. . .

Overseas investors fined almost $3 million for illegal purchase of Auckland properties:

The High Court yesterday ordered the overseas owners of two rural properties at Warkworth, north of Auckland, to pay $2.95 million to the Crown after an Overseas Investment Office (OIO) investigation found they were bought without consent. The properties were bought in 2012 and 2014.

The court ordered the owners to sell the properties and pay penalties, costs and the gain made on the investment.

The overseas owners – Chinese businessmen Zhongliang Hong and Xueli Ke, and IRL Investment Limited and Grand Energetic Company Limited – should have applied to the OIO for consent to buy both properties because they are rural land of more than five hectares. . .

Latest technology to be demonstrated at the Horticulture Conference 2019:

Technology that will help fruit and vegetable growers now and in the future will be demonstrated at Our Food Future, the Horticulture Conference 2019 between 31 July and 2 August at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.   

‘We’ve gone all out to ensure that this year’s conference features demonstrations of technology that can help growers tackle some of the challenges that they face,’ says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘From biological control products for crop protection to robots for asparagus harvesting and greenhouse spraying, they will all be demonstrated during the morning of second day of the conference.  . .

Ben Richards becomes Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of Year 2019:

Ben Richards from Indevinbecame the Bayer MarlboroughYoung Viticulturist of the Year 2019 on 4 July following the competition held at Constellation’s Drylands Vineyard.

Congratulations also to Jaimee Whitehead from Constellation for coming second and Dan Warman also from Constellation for coming third. . 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2019

Progress persists amidst disruption – Hugh Stringleman:

The growing focus on food as medicine is driving massive change in the agri-food industry, KPMG agri-food senior manager Emma Wheeler says.

Writing in the 2019 Agribusiness Agenda she said the health and wellness decade has begun and is bringing disruption through innovation and technological transformation.

Consumer needs and demands underpin the pace of change. . .

‘Hyper farm’ to aid land decision-making:

Agresearch has teamed up with Dunedin tech company Animation Research Ltd to help farmers see the future.

The partnership is part of a research programme – the New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA) – which has been designed to enable transformational change to the country’s agricultural sector and supply chains.

As one strand of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded programme, Dr Seth Laurenson and Dr Remy Lasseur are designing a “hyper farm” using ARL’s world-renowned visualisation technology.

It helped landowners to see what their properties would look like as a result of any changes as well as understand how changes would affect water quality, finances, carbon sequestration and biodiversity among other factors. . .

Feds finds useful policy ideas in National’s paper:

Federated Farmers is heartened that workforce issues are identified as a hot topic in the National Party’s ‘Primary Sector Discussion Document’, released today.

National is proposing better promotion of primary sector careers and increased vocational training opportunities. It is also floating the idea of an Agriculture Visa for migrant workers and nine-month dairy farm placements under an expanded RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme.

“Picking up on serious and persistent sector concerns, National also says it wants feedback on how to make Immigration NZ more responsive and accessible to employers facing labour shortages,” Federated Farmers Dairy chair and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says. . . 

Fonterra and farm leaders gripe at O’Connor’s DIRA decision – Greenpeace is even more grouchy – Point of Order:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor didn’t win too many new friends  (and may have lost some) with his  decision  on the review of  the  Dairy Industry Restructuring  Act, the  2001  legislation  which set up  Fonterra  supposedly to   become  a  “ national  champion”.   

We  all know  how  that  has turned out.

So   what were the reactions to  O’Connor’s  latest  move to improve the  legislation  which initially had the  objective of  “promoting  the efficiency  of  NZ  dairy markets”?. .. 

New appointed director for Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board has appointed Dr Bruce Campbell, of Tai Tokerau Northland, as an appointed director.

Dr Campbell is experienced in governance, innovation, talent development and the future development of a wide range of horticulture sectors and was, until 2018, the Chief Operating Officer at Plant & Food Research. He has a particular interest in building partnerships with Māori to create new food businesses and also in growing career pathways to get talented people into horticulture. . .

Large rise in meat and dairy manufacturing:

The largest rise for five years in volumes of meat and dairy products drove manufacturing up for the second quarter in a row, Stats NZ said.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.0 percent in the March 2019 quarter, after a 2.4 percent rise in the December 2018 quarter. It was led by a strong 11 percent rise in meat and dairy products manufacturing. . .

Helping New Zealand farmers take care of our land:

New Zealand’s green reputation is one of this country’s strongest selling points, but how to manage the relationship between farming and the environment is complex and controversial.

How do we support New Zealand farmers transition to a more environmentally friendly and economically sustainable future?

The clamour to act urgently on climate change is adding pressure on farmers to manage environmental sustainability, but farmers often have to make trade-offs between what they want to develop and what’s affordable. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 2, 2019

National’s support ends if methane targets don’t change – Simon Edwards:

National will not support the Zero Carbon Bill passing into law if “ridiculous” methane targets are not wound back, the party’s climate change spokesperson Todd Muller said.

“I totally reject the view that when there is no ability to mitigate (methane emissions), you just push on regardless,” he told the Federated Farmers Taranaki agm in Stratford on May 24.

Farmers had some tough questions for him on why National had supported the bill in its first reading.  Muller said he achieved “about eight of the ten things I wanted” in terms of the framework for a new Climate Change Commission, and it was “better to be in there wrestling for something sensible” than throwing rocks from the outside . .

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters – Point of Order:

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China. . . 

The value of meaningful protest – Gavin Forrest:

I value the right to protest. Without protest and people standing up for a better society or against threats to their current way of life many of my friends would not be able to exist in the way they do today.

Farming wouldn’t  be the way it is today if it were not for the actions of those who came before us.  

While still in shock farmers protested in the streets of Wellington against a background of having subsides ripped from them with little to no consultation and at breakneck speed in the 1980s. . .

Woman makes history at dog trial championships – Sally Rae:

Sheer grit helped former Otago woman Steph Tweed make history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship.

Miss Tweed (27) won both the North Island and New Zealand championship straight hunt at the New Zealand championships in Northland this week with Grit, whom she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime” dog.

It was an all-male final, apart from Miss Tweed, who topped the first round with 97 points to clinch the North Island title, and then won the run-off with 95.5 points to secure the national title. . .

Women set to drive change in New Zealand’s meat industry :

Woman working in the meat industry have gathered for an inaugural meeting of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women (MBW) in Napier this week, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector.

Ashley Gray, General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Chair of MBW New Zealand has been instrumental in launching the professional networking initiative here in Aotearoa and says there is plenty the group can achieve once underway.

“Once I began on this journey, the interactions I had with women working in the supply chain, were for me – revolutionary. Women in our sector are incredibly passionate. They are forward thinkers, conversation starters, game changers, shakers and movers and I believe, collectively, have a huge role to play in shaping how the meat industry is perceived and operates in years to come. . . 

Appropriate rural midwifery resourcing must be addressed:

The College of Midwives is calling on health officials and the Minister to urgently address the shortage of midwives and facilities in the Southland DHB region.

The College’s Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says contrary to the DHB CEO, an ambulance is not an entirely appropriate place to have a baby – something that happened earlier this week between Lumsden and Invercargill.

“I’m not going to repeat the issues related to having a baby on the side of a road in an ambulance however this is something that underlines significant ongoing issues in this area of New Zealand,” she says. . . 

Jersey cows star in new single-breed milk launch:

Lewis Road Creamery today launched a new range of milk sourced solely from Jersey cows, as it unveiled the first single-breed standard milk to go on sale in supermarkets nationwide.

“The Jersey cow is rightly famous for her milk. It is richer, creamier, with higher butterfat and a more velvety texture,“ said Peter Cullinane. “A single-breed milk really lets those qualities shine.”

Mr Cullinane said as a dairy producing nation, New Zealanders deserved to have access to the best possible drinking milk, free from PKE and permeate. . . 

New directors elected to Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board welcomes re-elected directors Barry O’Neil and Hugh Ritchie, as well as new director Kathryn de Bruin, after four candidates contested three vacant Director roles.

Kathryn de Bruin joins the Board with a wealth of experience in the vegetable sector. Based in Dargaville, she splits her time between an accountancy practice focused on the primary sector, and growing 40ha of kumara with her husband Andre.

Katikati kiwifruit grower and Chair of Tomatoes NZ, Barry O’Neil offered himself for re-election, and has served as Board President since the departure of former President Julian Raine at the end of last year. . . 


Rural round-up

April 24, 2019

Otago’s long rabbit war wages on – Jono Edwards:

They are fluffy, cute, and devastating to agriculture. Jono Edwards examines Otago’s rabbit problem and asks if there is any solution.

Otago’s problems with the long-eared grey/brown menace – the rabbit – began as early as the 1830s, when colonists brought them to New Zealand shores for food and sport.

They quickly realised their mistake as the pests spread and destroyed crops nationwide.

In the 1860s they became established between Invercargill and Riverton, and were devastating crops all over the south by the early 1880s. . .

Horticulture welcomes call for protection of versatile land:

An environmental report released last week further substantiates Horticulture New Zealand’s concerns about ongoing urban and lifestyle block expansion into prime growing land, and shows that urgent action is required to slow this down.

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, shows that the growth of urban centres threatens the limited versatile land surrounding regional centres such as Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury. . .

Handling psychological pressure key – Sally Rae:

Lance Burdett describes his job as helping people as much as he can.

A safety, wellness and resilience expert, Mr Burdett has worked with elite international tactical units across police, the military, emergency services, prisons and the FBI.

Now he focuses his time on helping people understand the pressures on their brains and how to handle them.

Rural Support Trusts are bringing Mr Burdett to the South, where he will be speaking in Oamaru on May 13, Balclutha on May 14, Gore on May 15 and 16, and Winton on May 16 . . 

Fonterra mulling Tip Top offers :

Fonterra has moved to the next stage of its plan to sell-off its Tip Top ice cream business.

A spokesperson for the co-operative said it received a number of offers from buyers last month and is now considering them.

Follow-up offers are due on 29 April. . .

N surplus shows performance:

Nitrogen leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, which means it’s not a straightforward performance indicator. An alternative approach is to look at a farm’s nitrogen surplus.

It’s a goal of many farmers to improve sustainability, with a significant focus on N leaching in many regions. However, nitrogen (N) leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, factors that cannot be changed (though irrigation can alleviate dry conditions, but also increase drainage).

Focusing on N surplus instead is an easier method of determining farm performance and gaining environmental benefits. Reducing N surplus can also save farmers money. . .

Applications now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships 2019:

Silver Fern Farms welcomes applications for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships for 2019. In its third year, the Plate to Pasture Scholarship programme will award six winners from across the country $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says that supporting emerging talent in the red meat sector is vital to developing relationships that will strengthen the red meat sector.


Rural round-up

January 31, 2019

Brain tumour felled Fonterra’s last hands on chairman – Fran O’Sullivan:

John Wilson who died on Monday at just 54 years of age was possibly the last Fonterra chairman to take a hands on approach to governing New Zealand’s largest company.

It was inevitable that Wilson would play a strong and sometimes quite political role in public life in New Zealand – the upshot of Fonterra’s dominance of the dairy industry – at times locked into confrontational situations with equally strong-minded politicians on both sides of the House.

Wilson was passionately devoted to Fonterra; strong-willed, direct, not afraid of anyone – yet also imbued with sufficient charm, persuasiveness and an ability to ride through the hard-knuckled politics of the NZ dairy industry to survive many a battle until his last year as chair. . . 

‘Outrageous’: EU votes to reduce NZ export rights – Pattrick Smellie:

The European Union’s parliament has taken a decisive step towards unilaterally reducing New Zealand’s rights to export specified quantities of tariff-free sheepmeat, beef and dairy products to the trading bloc if and when Brexit occurs.

The move has been slammed as “outrageous” by former trade negotiator Charles Finny in a Tweet and “disappointing” by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the proposed moves risk compounding “growing international economic uncertainty and rising trade tensions”. . . 

Expert evidence rejects water conservation order bid :

Evidence from nine experts supports Horticulture New Zealand’s evidence that a water conservation order (WCO) is not the way to ensure healthy Hawke’s Bay rivers, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Horticulture New Zealand opposes the application for the WCO in the Lower Ngaruroro River and the Clive River.

“This impacts our economy and our food supply and a WCO is a blunt instrument that has been surpassed with better national and regional planning tools,” Mr Chapman says. . . 

Guy Trafford analyses the sheep meat market showing the changes to where our product goes, and where our rivals are focusing – Guy Trafford:

With the uncertainty around Brexit and what the balance of future access to both the EU and the UK for sheep meat maybe it could be timely to have a look at the drivers of international sheep meat trade.

Australia and New Zealand account for approximately 90% of international trade and both have declining flock numbers. Since 1990 Australia have dropped from 180 mln down to 65 mln and New Zealand from 58 mln to around 28 mln today. It has only been the increased productivity of both flocks, in regard to meat production, that has kept the industry viable with the critical mass required to remain competitive. . . 

Synlait follows Fonterra with lower forecast farmgate payout – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk has cut its forecast payout to farmers for the current season, following Fonterra’s lead, as weaker global demand and strong domestic production weighs on international prices.

The Rakaia-based milk producer expects to pay $6.25 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019 season, down from its previous forecast of $6.75/kgMS. That projection will depend on commodity prices recovering for the rest of the season, something Synlait said it considers realistic. . . 

Scott Tech, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon in automated pin boning project – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Scott Technology and Mt Cook Alpine Salmon have teamed up to automate the removal of pin bones from King salmon with backing of more than $500,000 from Seafood Innovations.

Brent Keelty, Mt Cook’s processing operations manager, says the only way currently of de-boning King salmon is by hand. . . 

World first IoT farming tech trial  NZ

A pioneering arable farming tech trial is expected to make a quantum leap to help boost New Zealand’s primary export revenue.

New Zealand has a low understanding of how the internet of things (IoT) can assist with farm management and sustainability and adoption of precision agriculture techniques also remains low.

New Zealand’s primary industry export revenue is forecast to reach $43.8 billion for the year to June 2019, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2018. . .

TracMap Data Now Available in FarmIQ:

Integrating two of the country’s leading farm software systems means farmers can now have TracMap Proof of Application data seamlessly passed to their FarmIQ account, ensuring records are updated quickly and accurately for compliance and management needs.

“This is an important development for FarmIQ’s customers. Many farmers have been asking us for Tracmap’s Proof of Application and Proof of Placement data for some time,” said FarmIQ chief executive Darryn Pegram. . . 

Should primary producers do more to protect their data?:

While farmers and horticulturalists continue to integrate new digital technologies into their businesses, this data reliance does bring with it new vulnerabilities and risks. The next generation of producers are doing away with basic spreadsheets and building their businesses using a real-time data streams and cloud-based platforms for analysis and storage.

In the past, a simple computer backup was, in many cases, all that was needed. It has now been replaced by a complex web of data-points, data validation, storage, security access and data control. . . 

New funding for 31 community-led projects:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today announced funding of $9.8 million for 31 new Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) projects.

The SFF provides funding for projects led by farmers, growers, and foresters aimed at building economic, environmental and social sustainability in the primary sector. It has recently been replaced by MPI’s new Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) programme. The 31 projects were in the pipeline prior to its launch in October 2018.

“SFF has been instrumental in kicking off both small and large innovative, community-led projects, and laying the groundwork for SFF Futures,” says Steve Penno, Director of Investment Programmes.

“The new 31 projects cover areas from apiculture and dairy to soil management and horticulture, and are great examples of innovative thinking. . . 

Farmers furious at inclusion on Aussie Farms’ map – Alastair Dowie:

‘Ill-informed’ and ‘disgraceful’ are just some of the words Victorian farmers have used upon finding their details on the controversial Aussie Farms map.

Made public last week, the map identifies a large number of rural and farming enterprises, as well as some saleyards, abattoirs and intensive production operations, across Australia.

Many farmers are furious that their personal information has been displayed on the map without their permission. . . .

 


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