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. . . .

 


Rural round-up

January 28, 2019

Change coming as Waikato’s farmers look to lower their emissions – Gerald Piddock:

Shifting to a zero carbon economy will see the biggest upheaval in farming since the end of subsidies in the 1980s.

Waikato’s estimated 9000 farmers are the region’s biggest emitters. As such, it will see some completely change how they farm and others will adopt new technologies as they become available.

For some, there will be merely tweaks for their food production. . . 

Ewe prices rocket :

It was a sale agents predicted where demand driven by industry confidence pushed prices at the Temuka annual two-tooth ewe fair on Wednesday.

“There’s plenty of confidence to buy today, there’s stability in the market and there’s confidence in the red meat industry from both farmers and processors alike,” PGG Wrightson auctioneer Jonty Hyslop said.

“With a good past 12 months following on from some years of drought and industry uncertainty I expect we will see some good confidence that will drive what farmers are prepared to pay and that’s likely to be getting up there,” industry stalwart Peter Walsh said. . . 

New Zealand wool making the difference for innovative Danish carpet manufacturer – Pat Deavoll:

A leading European carpet manufacturer is now using specially blended New Zealand wool in its innovative production process.

Based in Denmark, Ege is a global market leader in the printed carpet sector. It recently came into PGG Wrightson’s Wool Integrity Programme, following collaboration by the two companies to develop a wool blend for Ege’s carpet printing process.

PGG’s head of in-house wool export and marketing, Palle Petersen said printing enables much greater detail to be included in the design of a carpet than traditional manufacture, at far lower cost. . . 

Bovis eradication is still the plan – Annette Scott:

Testing and surveillance of Mycoplasma bovis is in for the long haul as eradication continues to be the priority.

It will continue until there’s absolute certainty of its eradication, Primary Industry Ministry Mycoplasma bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

The ministry’s priorities are identifying, tracing and removing infection while supporting affected farmers.

Gwyn acknowledged 2018 was a big year “with a lot of heavy lifting by farmers”. . . 

Tariffs put squeeze on tomato exports – Barry O’Neil:

An increased focus on exports for New Zealand tomatoes could see the sector double its 2014 value by 2020.

Tomatoes New Zealand represents NZ’s 123 commercial fresh tomato growers who produce about 42,500 tonnes of fresh tomatoes in 120ha of greenhouses.

The fresh tomato industry has an annual farmgate value of $130m, including export sales of over $10m per year. . . 

The Shutdown is holding farmers back from spring planting – Debbie Weingarten:

In Asheville, North Carolina, vegetable farmers Becca Nestler and Steven Beltram are stuck between the impending spring season and the trickle-down effects of the government shutdown. Last week, when I spoke with Nestler — my friend since college — I asked about the farm. “We’re just stuck,” she told me. “We can’t even talk to our loan officer.”

The longest government shutdown in history has rendered many federal agricultural services unavailable, including the thousands of Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices that assist farmers with dozens of programs, such as disaster relief and annual farm operating loans. This is the time of year when Nestler and Beltram should be working with their FSA officer to prepare their annual loan packet — but with the office closed and their officer furloughed (and prohibited from using work cell phones or email to respond to farmers), they’ve had no choice but to wait.

 


Rural round-up

January 15, 2019

Bid to save Telford – Neal Wallace:

Invercargill’s Southern Institute of Technology is preparing a lifeline for the Telford campus of the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, which was put into liquidation before Christmas.

At a meeting at the South Otago campus today SIT agreed to prepare a proposal for Education Minister Chris Hipkins, in which it will become the education provider.

Telford Farm Board chairman Richard Farquhar hopes a deal can be secured in time for this academic year.

Information is being sought from Taratahi’s liquidator for a proposal to Hipkins, who, if he supports it, will then seek Cabinet approval. . . 

Helping others succeed – Tim Fulton:

Leadership starts with self for the 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year Loshni Manikam. Tim Fulton reports.

After 20 years of life in rural New Zealand Loshni Manikam has a real insight of the Kiwi agricultural psyche.

“I believe there’s this huge gap,” Manikam says.

“I feel like farming people know how to care about land, stock, neighbours – everything except themselves and I want to help change this.” . . 

Sharemilkers ready for competitions – Sally Rae:

Southland herd-owning sharemilker Luke Templeton jokes he has had a couple of moments of weakness lately.

Mr Templeton (30) signed up for both the FMG Young Farmer of the Year and the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards.

Next month, he will compete in the Otago-Southland regional final of the Young Farmer of the Year.

The practical and theoretical modules of the event will be held at the Tokomairiro A&P showgrounds in Milton on February 16, followed by an agri-knowledge quiz at the Milton Coronation Hall at night. . . 

Pair to attend congress in US :

Tyla Bishop hopes a trip to the United States in July will broaden her understanding of global food production.

Tyla (17), a year 13 pupil at St Kevin’s College in Oamaru, is one of six TeenAg members from throughout New Zealand chosen to attend the 4-H Congress in Bozeman, Montana

She lives on a 700-cow dairy farm in the Waitaki Valley and is working on another dairy farm during the summer holidays to help pay for the trip. . .

Stricter penalties proposed for contaminated food:

National’s Food Safety spokesperson Nathan Guy is backing calls from the food and grocery sector for tougher penalties for those who intentionally contaminate our food or threaten to do so.

“My Member’s Bill seeks to achieve what Damien O’Connor appears unwilling to do – protect New Zealanders from those that would threaten our food safety, be they reckless pranksters or people intent on nothing less than economic sabotage.

“Recent events here in New Zealand and across the Tasman, such as the strawberry needle scares, have identified the need for greater sanctions to prevent these sorts of idiotic behaviours. The food and grocery sector has been ignored in its calls for tougher laws. . . 

Horticulture supports harsher penalties for food contamination:

Horticulture New Zealand supports a Member’s Bill, announced today, that will introduce harsher penalties for people who intentionally contaminate food, or threaten to do so.

“Recently, we have seen some incidents of intentional contamination of fruit in both Australia and New Zealand and people need to understand the full and serious implications of such sabotage,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. . . 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2018

Maize crops sick, seeds failing:

 A major seed supplier is urgently investigating reports from farmers that some of their maize crops aren’t growing properly.

Genetic Technologies Limited is the New Zealand producer and distributor of the Pioneer seeds brand and sells more than 20 hybrid maize varieties.

The crop is grown in New Zealand for the production of animal feed, either in the form of grain maize or as maize silage.

This season some farmers say up to 30 percent of their maize seeds from Pioneer have failed and other seeds that have struck are looking sick.

A tale of two milk companies – one of them is being suckled by taxpayers – Point of Order:

The contrasting fortunes of Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products were thrown into sharp relief last week. On the one hand Synlait won applause at its annual meeting from shareholders, impressed by its performance in virtually doubling profit ($74.6m against $39.4m) in its tenth year of operations. On the other hand Westland had the begging bowl out for a Provincial Growth Fund loan of $9.9m which will help the co-op in funding a $22m manufacturing plant aimed at converting milk to higher-value products.

The Westland dairy exporter, discussing a capital restructure in its 2018 annual report, said it had relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility. . . 

Sheep needed on hill country – Alan Williams:

Waikato farmer Alastair Reeves has taken umbrage at the Productivity Commission’s suggestion sheep should be cast aside to make way for trees. He reckons sheep have a great future if they are not threatened by people making decisions in isolation and ignoring the ramifications of being wrong. He’s even got a plan for wool involving the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

Sheep should be at the forefront of sustainable farming on hill country rather than being tossed aside for massive tree-planting programmes, Waikato hill farmer Alastair Reeves says.

It is a disgrace for the Productivity Commission to suggest up to 2.8 million hectares of new forestry be planted as a means of achieving a low carbon-emissions economy.  . . 

Water storage essential for future resilience – as experts cite drought as a major risk to NZ:

IrrigationNZ says a recent expert discussion document on drought and climate change highlights that future national planning to improve water storage and look at a range of options to mitigate the effects of the more severe droughts forecast is urgently needed.

“More frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities and will mean that we will need to rethink how we manage water in the future.
For example with less rainfall forecast over summer in western areas of New Zealand, there will be more demand for water storage from both councils and farmers to provide a reliable water supply,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Elitism of another kind – Clive Bibby:

I grew up on a farm just outside the small Central Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa.

My forebears had owned sizeable tracts of farming land that had been hacked out of the bush and scrub under the Ruahine Ranges.

I am very proud to be a descendant of such pioneering folk who understood what it means to build a business from nothing and see it grow into something that makes a reasonable contribution to the local economy. They also built the first trading general store in CHB. The building still stands.

It is perhaps ironic that much of the farm land in question was in the near vicinity of the catchment area for the now defunct Ruataniwha Fresh Water Dam proposal. . . 

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint:

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

It is available at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator. . . 

Horticulture growth retains momentum:

Horticulture growth retained momentum with a seven percent growth in export earnings since 2016, according to an updated report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 12 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, and industry. . . 

International Boma NZ summit to help Aotearoa’s food:

A future-thinking agriculture summit will bring together global and local experts on future farming trends, exponential change, and new business models and product pathways. The summit, called Grow 2019, is designed to help Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and into the future.

Organiser Kaila Colbin says the two-day summit is an opportunity to learn about the future trends that are impacting the agriculture sector, and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. Grow 2019 will also connect groups of like-minded individuals and organisations so that together we can understand, adapt and grow in a future that looks nothing like today. . . 


Rural round-up

December 6, 2018

Dairy product prices climb as whole milk powder gains – Margaret Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, stemming a decline that began in May.

The GDT price index gained 2.2 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago. The average price was a US$2,819 a tonne, compared with US$2,727 a tonne two weeks ago. Some 36,450 tonnes of product was sold, down from 42,966 tonnes two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder climbed 2.5 percent to US$2,667 a tonne. . . 

Dairy bosses are best employers:

In the first-ever Primary Industries Good Employer Awards dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes won the top accolade, the Minister of Agriculture’s Award for Best Primary Sector Employers.

Woodville dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes have been named the Best Primary Sector Employers. 

The couple, who own Hopelands Dairies, also won the Innovative Employment Practices award. . . 

Fonterra reaches provisional deal with Beingmate:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has reached a provisional deal with Chinese partner Beingmate Baby & Child Food to unwind their Darnum joint venture in Australia.

The joint venture – 51 percent owned by Beingmate and 49 percent Fonterra – produced infant formula products at the Darnum plant in Australia for Beingmate’s Chinese customers, and was a key component of Fonterra’s plan to expand its reach into China’s second and third-tier cities. . . 

Voting for the 2nd Fonterra Directors’ Election is underway:

Voting is now open for the 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Second Election.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Dairy loan done on a handshake, details to follow:

It beggars belief that the Government has dispensed a $9.9 million low-interest loan to a dairy company without having finalised the terms, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Minister in charge of the Provincial Growth Fund couldn’t tell the House what terms he had in mind when he undercut commercial lenders to provide debt funding for a new processing plant.

“I wouldn’t blame any business like Westland Milk for accepting a cheap loan from a secure lender. . . 

Apple producer’s underlying profit looks to be at top end:

Apple producer Scales has had a bumper year with a record export crop lifting profits to the top end of guidance.

The company’s underlying profit was likely to be at the top end, or slightly exceed, the current guidance range of $58 million to $65m, in the year ending December.

Managing director Andy Borland said it was an excellent performance for the group, with all business units performing well over the year. . . 

New Landcorp chair appointed:

Dr Warren Parker has been appointed as Director and Chair of Landcorp, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones announced today.

Dr Parker is a former Chief Executive of Scion (the NZ Forest Research Institute) and Landcare Research, and was previously Chief Operating Officer of AgResearch. He currently holds a number of board roles including on Predator Free 2050 Ltd, Farmlands Cooperative Society, Genomics Aotearoa and is the Chair of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group. Until recently he was Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority. . . 

Landcorp out of touch with real farmers:

Landcorp’s submission to Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group (TWG) is a kick in the guts to rural communities, National’s Nathan Guy and David Carter say.

“Landcorp’s sneaky submission to the TWG proposing a water tax, nitrogen fertiliser tax and not opposing a capital gains tax proves how out of touch the state-owned company is with farmers on the ground,” Mr Guy says.

“With 6700 other submissions, why was Landcorp pressured to put in a submission that was more than a month late? The reality seems to be that the TWG are hell-bent on introducing environmental taxes and a capital gains tax, so they leaned on Landcorp to submit supporting more taxes and levies. . . 

New president and vice president elected to HortNZ board:

The Horticulture New Zealand board elected Barry O’Neil as its new President and Chairman at a meeting today. Mr O’Neil replaces Julian Raine, who has been President and Chairman for six years and who has made a significant contribution to horticulture for New Zealand. Mr Raine has stood down to pursue other business interests.

Bernadine Guilleux was elected Vice-President, with both positions effective from 1 January 2019. . . 

Busy orchardist advises small businesses start payday filing:

A Hawke’s Bay orchardist is advising fellow small businesses to be ahead of the game on payday filing.

This is the mandatory requirement from April next year for employers to file their payroll information to Inland Revenue every time they pay their staff.

Te Mata Figs owner Helen Walker has been paying her five staff fortnightly and sending across their details using the online entry method in myIR. . . 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2018

Sheep burping project given wheels – Sally Rae:

This is a tale of burping sheep.

Among the work AgResearch scientists have been doing to reduce methane emissions from agriculture is a project to breed sheep that naturally produce less methane – the gas released in the burps of ruminant livestock.

Having determined sheep could be bred for lower methane emissions, the project was now being rolled-out to farms, giving breeders the opportunity to measure and select sheep with lowered environmental impacts.

Scientists had been working on the prospect of low methane sheep for quite some time, AgResearch Invermay-based senior scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe said yesterday. . . 

Weather, labour stalls contractors – Ken Muir:

While the weather has meant a testing time for farmers and contractors in the south, labour issues continue to be a major constraint in keeping up with work on farms, Southland agricultural contractor Peter Corcoran says.

‘The weather has undoubtedly been better than last year and the recent variations we’ve had have caused some backlogs,” Mr Corcoran said.

”While this has been annoying, we are undoubtedly in much better shape than we were last year.”

At that stage, he said, contractors were sitting around with nothing to do, but at least this year things were off to an early start. . . 

 

Postharvest scientist honoured by NZIAHS:

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Jeremy Burdon has been awarded a Fellowship of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science in recognition of his longstanding contributions to postharvest science that supports New Zealand’s fresh fruit industries, particularly kiwifruit and avocado.

Dr Burdon is a leading postharvest scientist well respected by industry and academic peers. Over a career spanning 30 years, he has consistently demonstrated outstanding skills in innovative thinking and scientific excellence in partnering science with business. He is especially noted for the science underpinning the successful commercialisation of new kiwifruit cultivars and his practical advice to packhouse and coolstore operators. . . 

Vertical farming has limits:

Vertical farming – where food is grown indoors in high stacks – will not replace traditional fruit and vegetable growing in New Zealand, but it may supplement it in future if technology makes it economically viable, research released today finds.

As part of her Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, Horticulture New Zealand environmental policy advisor Rachel McClung has published a report, “Can vertical farming replace New Zealand’s productive land to deliver high quality fruits and vegetables in the future?”

“Growing towns and cities are reducing access to some of New Zealand’s most productive land for growing fruit and vegetables,” McClung says. “There is some complacency about this because of the misconception that fruit and vegetables can be grown ‘somewhere else’. But the combination of the right soils and climate is necessary.  . . 

When good sense takes control of the wheel:

 Today marks a big win for on farm safety and biosecurity, says Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis. In the Government’s announcement of its Employment Relations Bill today, a change Federated Farmers advocated for appears to be included.

The Bill allows union representatives the right to access worksites where union members are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement, but requires consent from employers in all other circumstances. . . 

Glyphosate and TIME magazine: writer employed by advocacy group a dubious choice – Grant Jacobs:

TIME magazine has a story on DeWayne ‘Lee’ Johnston who took Monsanto to court claiming RoundUp caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[1] The story has obvious appeal, but is crying out for balance and it’s provenance is, to be kind, awkward. I’d love to read his account of his experiences since the trial — but from a source I can trust. I’m dubious that a writer employed by an advocacy organisation can be sensibly used as a journalist.

A reply

responded on TIME’s Facebook page, . . 

Tulips from Balfour – Blair Drysdale:

Quite often when farmers share their frustrations about the weather in conversation with others, we’re accused of just being a “whinging farmer”. But for farmers and horticulturalists alike among others, it dictates our day-to-day operations, our state of mind and the bottom line result at the end of the financial year.

And this year just like all before it, has had its perils and is no exception. A dull winter with little sun and few frosts, has continued on well into spring with plenty of precipitation, a combination of a lack of equinox winds and little sunshine to dry the soil out, has made it very frustrating trying to get spring barley in the ground here. . . 

On the farm – what’s happening in rural New Zealand:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland warmed up as the week progressed. It has had a drop or two of rain – 30 to 40mm in the west, less in the east. That has nudged along sluggish grass growth, which has given farmers the confidence to buy cattle. Two-year-old steers have been fetching between $1200 and $1500 and yearlings $650 to $1000. Female cattle have not been doing so well. Prices are down for younger cattle by 8 to12 percent compared with last year. . . 


Dam damned, what will plan b cost?

August 30, 2018

The Tasman District Council has voted against funding the Waimea Dam:

The Tasman District Council has decided increased costs for the Waimea Community Dam are unaffordable for ratepayers, meaning the project in its current form will not proceed.

The Council today decided in principle not to fund 51% of a $23 million capital funding shortfall for the dam.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the decision effectively meant the project would not proceed, as public consultation cannot occur before the deadline of 15 December when the Government will withdraw its funding for the dam of over $55 million.

“Unfortunately the additional costs are too high and the Council has decided it must look at other options for resolving our serious summer water shortages.” . .

Horticulture NZ CE Mike Chapman calls it a damning decision:

. . .This dam was going to supply water for urban households, support the area’s thriving horticulture, and ensure minimum river flows during dry periods, sustaining the aquatic life in the river. During floods, the dam would have helped prevent damage by reducing flood waters. Northington Partners, an independent investment bank and business advisory firm, forecast that not building the Waimea Dam could result in nearly $1 billion being lost from the Tasman and Nelson economy over the next 25 years.  Even the Council, which voted against it, has said that urban and rural water users will be facing significant water use cuts from this summer, following the   decision. One of the areas most affected by water cuts is plants. These are the trees, vines and the crops that provide employment and feed this region. If the trees and vines die because of a lack of water, it is unlikely that they will be re-planted and this means taking away economic activities from the district. This will result in job losses because without water there will not be highly productive fruit and vegetable growing.

So why did some of the councillors vote against this decision?  All members of the community, businesses and the environment in this area would be beneficiaries from the dam. I am struggling to understand why you would vote down such a beneficial scheme, as the dam was the most cost effective way to provide a secure water supply.

Did the Councillors consider the impact of climate change? We are looking at a future where there will be more adverse weather events, rainfall will become more variable, and drought and floods will be more frequent. Did they forget that last year, prior to Christmas, this area went onto water restrictions? Water storage is a vital mitigation to climate change so that during dry periods people, animals and plants have water to drink. Jobs and the livelihood and survival of their region depend on water. Without water there is not life.

The Tasman District is a prime horticulture producer of apples, kiwifruit, berries, broccoli, cabbages, lettuce and cauliflowers. Most of the fruit is exported, earning valuable overseas funds for New Zealand. The vegetables feed the region and other parts of New Zealand. How are people going to be able to eat healthy, locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables, if there are none because there is no water?  Do not think that imported fruit and vegetables will fill the demand. As the world’s population grows and climate change turns what were good growing areas into desserts, every country will be struggling to feed their own population, let alone others.

So this is a very short sighted decision that will damn the Tasman District for many years to come and see it most likely go into economic decline.  It is also a lesson for the rest of New Zealand: water storage is vital to mitigate the effects of climate change and make sure we can feed our people. Perhaps the Councillors would like to re-think this decision and think about providing for the District’s future generations.

The dam would have had considerable benefits and not just in providing enough reliable water for irrigators and household supplies.

It would also have provided recreational opportunities and environmental protection.

Water storage is the most environmentally friendly option for both irrigation and river health.

Opponents talked up the dam’s cost but ignored the costs of not building it.

The most obvious are those that come from lost production for farmers, horticulturalists and orchardists who won’t have reliable irrigation; the loss of jobs on farms, orchards and in businesses which service and supply them and lost food for both domestic and export markets.

There’s also the loss of reliable water for existing and future households and businesses.

Then there’s the environmental costs from losing the ability to maintain river flows in dry weather to protect flora and fauna and ensure a healthy ecosystem; and to hold water back during floods.

The problem facing the district isn’t just a shortage of rural water, there’s an urban water shortage too.

Doing nothing isn’t an option.

The council has damned the dam and must now come up with a plan b. What will that cost?

The last tweet from the now defunct Twitter account @WaimeaDam spelled it out:

 

 

 


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