Rural round-up

27/09/2022

Too many famers still stuck in connectivity ‘slow lane’ :

Coverage, reliability and speed of mobile and internet services for many farming families and businesses are treading water, if not going backwards, the 2022 Federated Farmers Rural Connectivity Survey shows.

More than half of the nearly 1,200 farmers who responded to the survey report internet download speeds at or less than what could be considered a bare minimum (20 megabytes per second/Mbps) and those who said their mobile phone service had declined in the last 12 months jumped from 20% to 32%.

“For a sector that underpins the lion’s share of New Zealand’s export earnings, and one where productivity gains and reporting requirements are increasingly aligned with used of technology, apps and devices, this is really concerning,” Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“It’s a given that it’s easier and more profitable to deliver high standards of mobile and broadband to urban areas. But rural families and farm businesses – who due to remoteness and road travel times can really benefit from strong on-line connectivity access – must not be left behind.” . . 

Why does everyone want to work on a farm? – Brianna Mcilraith:

Job-hunters might be looking for a lifestyle and career change on the farm, if Trade Me data is anything to go by.

The site said agricultural jobs were the most-viewed listings last month.

The top five job listings were for South Island agriculture, fishing and forestry roles, and of the 100 most-viewed listings in August, more than half (55%) were in those categories.

Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said 18 of the most popular listings were for shepherds and a further nine for stock managers. . . 

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

An opposition member’s bill boosting penalties for biosecurity breaches has passed its first reading with near unanimous support.

In the name of National MP Jacqui Dean, the bill is aimed at deterring incoming visitors from bringing in illegal biosecurity items such as fruit or other food.

The Increased Penalties for Breach of Biosecurity Bill would double the existing penalty from $1000 to $2000, upon conviction.

It would also increase the on-the-spot fine for a false declaration from $400 to $1000. . . 

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

Biosecurity New Zealand has welcomed 17 new quarantine officers to help protect Aotearoa’s borders from invasive pests and diseases.

Eleven officers graduated on Friday after completing an intensive 10-week training programme. They will work at frontline border locations in Auckland to ensure international travellers and imported goods comply with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules. The other six new officers have joined Biosecurity New Zealand’s border teams in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The graduates will bolster Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline ranks as international passenger traffic begins to gather pace following the reopening of borders, says Mike Inglis, Northern Regional Commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He says Biosecurity New Zealand will have recruited nearly 60 new quarantine officers by the end of this year. There are plans to recruit a further 20 Auckland officers in early 2023. . . 

Alun Kilby from Marisco wins Marlborough 2022 Young Winemaker of the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco, who came became the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 21st September at MRC and the winners were announced at the Awards Dinner the same evening

Alun, 28, was thrilled to take out the title and the judges commented on his broad range of knowledge and skills as he scored consistently well across all sections.

Congratulations also goes to Thomas Jordaan from Vavasour who came second and to Ruby McManaway from Yealands who came third.

For the first time, there were ten contestants competing in the Marlborough regional competition. “It’s exciting to see how many aspiring Young Winemakers want to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Mick Ahern wins HortNZ’s Industry Service Award for 2022 :

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.’

Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgeling, kiwifruit export industry. . . 

Miriana Stephens wins Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022:

Horticulture industry leader, Miriana Stephens has won the Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022.

‘Miriana is shaping the future of the horticulture industry by example,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘She is a director of Wakatū Incorporation, which grows apples, kiwifruit and pears in its Motueka Orchards under the business, Kono.

‘To Miriana, business is not just commercial – it involves being a kaitiaki of the whenua and moana, as well as being commercially responsible.’ . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2022

Time to reopen the GE in agriculture debate – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Ideologically-based beliefs are preventing consumers from experiencing the benefits that gene editing in agriculture can bring, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

It is over two decades since the Royal Commission on genetic modification (GM) responded to the task of evaluating the technology within the context of New Zealand.

The major theme of the 473-page report was self-described as “preserving opportunities”.

The authors went to considerable lengths to explain the different concerns and perspectives of New Zealanders who, by and large, were comfortable with GM for medical purposes, but were less so in food production. . . 

Holy cow milk is best!  – Warren McNab:

 Plant-based beverages are expensive and provide only a small fraction of the nutritional goodness of cow’s milk.

These are the findings of a new study, published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal (August 8), which assessed the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based beverages – such as soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks – and compared them to standard bovine milk.

Researchers collected 103 plant-based products from supermarkets in Palmerston North, New Zealand. These drinks were found to have much lower quantities of the 20 nutrients measured – such as calcium and protein – and were significantly more costly than cow’s milk.

The study was carried out by Riddet Institute scientists, from Massey University, in Palmerston North. The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University. . .

HortNZ says National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land is critical :

The National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land will provide protection for the country’s best land and soil so it can be used to produce food.

‘Covid has taught us that we can’t take for granted that there’ll always be New Zealand grown vegetables and fruit on our retailers’ shelves,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Nadine Tunley.

‘HortNZ has advocated for nearly a decade for government policy that recognises the importance of our best soils, and ensures that they are prioritised for what they are best for – producing healthy vegetables and fruit.

‘All along, we have said that with good planning, New Zealand can have fresh vegetables and fruit, and houses.’ . . 

ORC consent map upgraded to be farmer-friendly :

Otago Regional Council (ORC) has upgraded its online consent mapping site in a move designed to make the service more farmer-friendly.

The map, Consents in Otago, now includes a property-by-address, legal description or consent number search function, satellite imagery similar to Google Maps, plus named waterways, a polygon/draw tool and also a print button, says Alexandra King, ORC team leader consents.

“It’s now much more user friendly for farmers who’re working through the mapping part of their applications, specifically intensive winter grazing plans,” she says.

King says the tool allows farmers to easily identify and measure blocks throughout their farms, and help them in identifying risk areas/sensitive receptors on-farm such as critical source areas, waterways, wetlands or water bores. . .

Who will join the next generation of beekeepers? :

Mossop’s Honey and Apiculture New Zealand are looking for the next Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship recipient to get a boost into the apiculture industry.

The scholarship was set up five years ago as a way of giving young people the best possible start in the apiculture industry. It includes $2000 to be put towards best-practice training or set-up costs, membership of industry body Apiculture New Zealand for a year, attendance at the industry’s national conference in the year of the award and an accommodation allowance for Conference.

Last year’s recipient, Alyssa Wilson from Canterbury, is currently finishing off a Primary ITO course the scholarship helped pay for. The course involves writing about and photographing her practical experience working at Gowanleagold with beekeeper James Corson, where she says she is “learning heaps”.

While attending the Apiculture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch this year, Alyssa says she particularly enjoyed listening to Dr Sammy Ramsey, one of the international speakers from the United States. . . 

Fears Australian farm labour woes may worsen with loss of UK backpackers under trade deal – Khaled Al Khawaldeh:

Rosie Bradford arrived from the UK in November 2019 on a working holiday visa ready to trade in some of her youthful energy for the chance to enjoy the Aussie sun for an extra year or two.

“The only reason I went to do it [farm work] was obviously to get my second and third year. I was so focused on that but after doing it, I would definitely say I would have still done it,” she said.

“I absolutely do not regret doing farm work at all. I learned a lot from those experiences. And I met so many amazing people. But to be honest [without the compulsion] I probably wouldn’t have done … I probably wouldn’t have been that interested.”

Bradford would end up spending three years working in parts of the country where most Australian workers do not venture. Picking bananas in Tully, oranges and mandarins in Gayndah, grafting in Tasmania, and even working on a fishing boat in Darwin. Like many of her compatriots, she helped fill a gap in a workforce stretched thin in a vast, but highly urbanised, country. . . 


Rural round-up

12/09/2022

Cow versus plant-based milk which offers the most nutrition? – Gerhard Uys:

Plant-based milk alternatives contain just a fraction of the nutrition of cows’ milk, and are more expensive, a Riddet Institute study shows.

The study, done at Massey University and funded by dairy interests including Fonterra, compared the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based drinks like soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks, to standard cow milk.

For the study, 103 plant-based products were bought from supermarkets in Palmerston North. The plant based drinks had lower quantities of 20 nutrients measured, such as calcium and protein. They were also more expensive than cows’ milk, the study showed.

The institutes’ nutritional sciences professor, Warren McNabb, said plant-based beverages were often marketed as alternatives to cows’ milk, and consumers could easily believe they were nutritionally interchangeable. . . 

Here’s why food prices might have further to rise – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Organic pasture-fed ruminant meat animals are the farm products most damaging to the environment in terms of nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas production. This is according to UK-based science journalist Goerge Monbiot.

No doubt vegans will feel vindicated and organics people will feel misunderstood, while regenerative aficionados will be confident, until they read what he actually wrote – because regenerative involves pasture and eschews synthetic nitrogen like organics.

The conclusion will be disappointing to many people, who saw a ‘natural solution’ but there are no easy answers with an ever-growing global population to feed, and feed to meet their nutritional requirements.

No Hunger is the second of the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations, the first is No Poverty. Nearly a third of the global population lacks access to regular food and one in 10 are hungry. In 2020, 47% of countries reported escalating food prices in comparison with 16% in 2019. . .

Red meat exports reach $1.1 b in July 2022 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector achieved sales of $1.1 billion during July, a 26 per cent increase on July 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

China remained the standout market with red meat exports worth $460 million, up 42 per cent on last July.

Other major markets were Japan at $58 million, up 36 per cent, the Netherlands at $38 million, up 132 per cent, and the UK at $38 million, up 97 per cent. Exports to the US dropped by 22 per cent to $191 million.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says strong red meat prices in global markets were continuing to help absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Environmental efforts recognised with award – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury grower who has put in more than 500 solar panels at his family’s vegetable growing operation has won high praise for his environmental work.

Oakley founder and head agronomist Robin Oakley has won the Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Environmental Award for his efforts, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen leaching.

The fifth-generation farmer grew up on his family farm and has been working the land since he was a young boy.

He started the Southbridge fresh vegetable business in the 1990s with his wife Shirleen. . . 

Forestry needs an urgent reset – Gary Taylor:

Forestry has an important place in our economy, but it’s time to improve the sector’s environmental performance. Gary Taylor explains how. 

The recent serious floods in Marlborough and Tasman and previous extreme weather events on the North Island’s east coast point to an urgent need to tighten up environmental controls on exotic forestry. The old method of allowing large scale clear-felling at harvest on erosion-prone land is no longer fit-for-purpose in a climate changing world.

Having large swathes of hill country denuded of stabilising vegetation for several years between forestry cycles is exacerbating run-off volumes and flood velocity, as well as vastly increasing sediment loads entering the coastal marine area. Sediment smothers and kills marine life.

The Government is about to release a discussion document on the review of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). This is the opportunity to fix this problem through setting improved regulations for the sector and moving towards a safer and more environmentally responsible regime for forestry. . . 

Harnessing the power of saffron color for food and future therapeutics – Xiongjie Zheng:

A highly efficient enzyme combined with a multigene engineering approach offers potential for sustainable production of water-soluble pigments in plant tissues.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Usually obtained from the stigma of Crocus sativa flowers, it takes 150,000–200,000 flowers to produce one kilogram of saffron. Now, KAUST researchers have found a way to use a common garden plant to produce saffron’s active ingredient, a compound with important therapeutic and food industry applications.

The color of saffron comes from crocins: water-soluble pigments derived from carotenoids by a process that is catalyzed by enzymes known as carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases (CCDs). Crocins also occur, albeit in much lower amounts, in the fruits of Gardenia jasminoides, an ornamental plant used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Crocins have high therapeutic potential, including their role in protecting neural cells from degradation, as well as their antidepressant, sedative and antioxidant properties. They also have an important role as natural food colorants. . . .


Rural round-up

04/08/2022

Dairy sours on false defense of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

DCANZ claims O’Connor ignored Brexit cuts, using out of date figures to talk up a deal that won’t come close to the vaunted $600m a year.

Dairy exporters are keeping up their barrage of criticism against what they say is the Government’s failure to own up to poor dairy market access from the recent trade deal with the European Union.

The Dairy Companies Association has already rubbished the Government’s claims of $600 million in annual gains for the industry from last month’s agreement, saying gains won’t even come close to that figure.

It also accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of gifting an advantage to EU negotiators by letting slip a weakening in New Zealand’s negotiating bottom lines for meat and dairy in the final few weeks of the talks. . . 

Learning to spot the warning signs – Kathryn Wright:

Te Anau-based rural counsellor Kathryn Wright knows farmers may be dealing with many compliance issues at the moment.  But there’s one issue she says definitely needs to be in a health and safety plan –  that of how to identify and help a  person who is suffering from poor mental health.

Compliance issues.

Endless demands from the Government that seem to compound year after year. The very last thing I want to do is to lump you with more compliance issues – I am fully aware of how much frustration and even despair they can bring upon farmers.

On the other hand, there is one compliance issue that I would like to see implemented – and if not officially, then morally at least. Basic mental health knowledge, including how to identify and help another human who is suffering mentally. This should be in your health and safety plan. . . 

Iwi make a success of return to the land – Gerald Piddock:

Land once taken from them is now back in the hands of iwi who are looking after it for future generations while making it more productive and sustainable.

Pouarua Farms takes a long-term outlook when it comes to managing the land. For the five iwi who own the Hauraki Plains’ largest dairy platform, that means making decisions that will sustain the land and create an intergenerational asset.

The farms are a taonga asset for their iwi and will never be sold, says chief executive Jenna Smith.

“The outlook’s further than five or 10 years. We’re looking 50 to100 years and it’s about sustaining the land, being productive and keep it returning to the people for generations to come,” says Smith. . .

Making an impact at Young Farmers – Kayla Hodge:

James Hurst is not the quiet wee guy in the back anymore.

The Awamoko farmer has found his passion and confidence through the Young Farmers network, and has moved his way through the ranks of the organisation regionally and nationally.

Mr Hurst’s contribution has been recognised, receiving a national leadership award at the recent New Zealand Young Farmers National Awards, in Whangarei.

Growing up on his family farm, Invernia, a 2700ha beef, sheep and dairy farm in Awamoko, Mr Hurst was exposed to the industry from a young age. . .

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2207/S00400/ravensdown-reports-95m-profit-in-202122.htm

MG wins HortNZ environmental award:

MG – Market Gardeners Ltd (MG) Auckland Branch – has won a 2022 Horticulture New Zealand Environmental Award.

“MG has won the award in recognition of its real commitment to environmental sustainability,” said HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil who presented the award at a vegetable growers’ function in Pukekohe on 27 July.

“Thanks to MG’s focus and investment, the cooperative has made a measurable long-term difference, delivering a 57% reduction in carbon emissions by converting to natural refrigerants, installing solar and diverting food waste away from landfill at its flagship branch in Auckland.”

Two years ago, MG signed off on its first sustainability roadmap, which has set the direction and defined improvement targets. This included focusing on their Auckland branch, having worked out that the bulk of their carbon emissions came from electricity consumption, refrigerants and food waste. . .

New Gore library and community centre to use wool-blend insulation :

The Gore District Council is using a natural wool blend insulation for its latest building project after copping flak from local farmers.

The new Gore Library and James Cumming Community Centre will feature wool blend insulation in the ceiling, exterior and interior walls.

There will also be woollen carpets in areas with light foot traffic

Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry said the project team opted for the wool blend insulation over traditional fibreglass products to support the wool industry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/03/2022

You won’t save the planet by killing NZ farmers – Andrew Hoggard:

Price penalties won’t drive down livestock emissions without affordable and practical new technologies being available to farmers – unless the aim is to kill off the sector.

Federated Farmers is baffled by comments by Climate Change Minister James Shaw that, “Pricing isn’t the only tool in the toolbox, but it remains the best way to reduce emissions directly – and that’s name of the game.”

This an overlysimplistic and domestic focused solution to a complex global problem. The global atmosphere does not benefit from New Zealand shrinking food production, even if our politicians can crow about local emissions reductions. Our farms’ emissions footprint is world-leading; forgone production here would just shift offshore to less efficient farmers.

An overly-high price signal for our livestock emissions would also have severe implications for the agricultural sector, regional economies, and the wider New Zealand economy.  . . 

Questioning is not an attack – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Scientists have been accused of mounting a sustained attack on regenerative agriculture and splitting the science community. Not all, but some.

The words are disappointing and misleading.

What some agricultural scientists have done is continue to ask questions of regenerative proponents. The ongoing questioning is because no answers have appeared – the proponents want money to do the research to answer the questions.

The point that agricultural scientists have been making is that a lot of the ‘needed’ research has been done and results are availableSome has been funded recently by various combinations of Ministry of Primary Industries (the farmer-science funding now termed Sustainable Food and Fibre Fund), Ministry for Business and Employment and levy bodies and has not shown positive results. . . 

Rural fitness campaign launched in NZ and Australia – Sally Rae:

She has curled her biceps on the shores of Lake Pukaki and lifted weights in the shadow of Aoraki-Mt Cook — now Kate Ivey is getting back to her rural roots.

Mrs Ivey is the founder of Kate Ivey Fitness, a business which began in her home in the remote Mackenzie Country in 2016 and has grown to 1600 members.

Established with the aim of helping women lead positive, healthy, fitness-filled lives, it started with a simple e-book which was then followed by the launch of DediKate, an online health and fitness community for women.

Initially, membership was predominantly rural but that demographic had since changed and Mrs Ivey was focusing on rural again, launching DediKate Rural today in both New Zealand and Australia, to officially start on March 21. . . 

Traceability key to alliance between butcher shop and farm – Sally Rae:

It is an alliance with its origins formed on the coastal pastures of the scenic Catlins.

Princes St Butcher and Kitchen owner David Gibson was looking for a supply of lamb with full traceability back to the people who owned the farm that grew the product.

Carey and Tracey Hancox, whose diversification on their busy farming operation near Owaka includes an on-farm butchery, were keen for a retail presence as most of their sales were online.

On Thursday, Mr Gibson took his first delivery of lamb from Mr and Mrs Hancox, some of which was available at the Otago Farmers Market on Saturday. . . 

Fruit and vegetable and wine grape growers welcome increase in workers coming from the Pacific:

New Zealand’s fruit, vegetable and winegrape growers have welcomed the news that the Government has increased the cap on workers from the Pacific under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to 16,000 workers.

‘The increase in the RSE worker cap will give growers some hope for the future,’ says HortNZ chief executive, Nadine Tunley.

‘While the increase won’t benefit the apple, kiwifruit and winegrape harvests that are currently underway, it is good news for the horticulture industry, long term.

‘Growers are under incredible stress at the moment due to the severe shortage of labour that Covid has created. Some growers are saying they only have 50 percent of the workers they need but are continuing to do everything they can, to get the fruit picked, packed and to market. . . 

Key to best beef is green and under your feet -Bob Freebairn:

Lee and Suzanne Young, “Dalyup” Coonabarabran, recently won a Meat Standards Australia award for Excellence in Eating quality.

These awards are issued to beef producers who consistently deliver carcases with superior eating quality. While genetics and animal management are important for quality meat production, Lee Young stresses that high quality pastures are especially important.

“Dalyup”, with the original part of their property owned by the family for almost 50 years, is a 740ha property that includes good quality loamy river flats soil, plus medium to lighter acidic textured hill country. Quality pastures include lucerne on the flats, Premier digit and Consol lovegrass, together with serradella and sub clover on the arable hill country, and upgraded native pasture on the non-arable areas.

Lee and Suzanne Young were early pioneer growers of the legumes serradella and biserrula that comprise the winter component of their introduced and native grass pastures. These are especially valued for their acid soil tolerance, good productivity their bloat tolerance and for building soil nitrogen. Because of soil variability serradella and biserrula are grown in combination with sub clover with each species more dominant in specific areas of a paddock depending on soil type. For over 40 years they have remained persistent across native and tropical grass paddocks. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/01/2022

24-hour Shear-a-thon to raise money for hospital – Shawn McAvinue:

The rural sector is uniting again to help those battling cancer in the South.

Shear 4 Blair 24-hour Shear-a-thon will run in the woolshed on Wohelo Station in Moa Flat on February 5 and 6.

The event is to raise money for the Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill, which was established in 2019.

Winton man Blair Vining died of bowel cancer in 2019, after calling for cancer care to be equitable for all New Zealanders. . . 

Horticulture industry using fund to support growers impacted by Tonga eruption –

New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries are calling for donations to support Tonga after the volcanic eruption.

The horticulture industry labour collective, made up of NZ Apples & Pears, NZ Kiwifruit Growers, Summerfruit NZ, NZ Wine, NZ Ethical Employers, and HortNZ, said it was saddened by news of the tsunami and its impact.

It aims to help the Tongan economy recover and is using the Growers Relief Fund to collect donations to support small businesses like market gardens to recover.

The fund is a charity that helps to support growers in an adverse event, with wellness or when additional support is needed. The fund also helps people working in the horticulture industry who need assistance, to help nurture the whole horticultural community. . . 

Mature lowland forest lost in Wānaka fire – DOC :

A popular Wānaka lake and track were spared during a devastating fire earlier this month.

The fire took hold on 9 January at Emerald Bay, burning 280 hectares of land and taking four days to contain.

The Department of Conservation said it was too early to know the full extent of the damage to conservation land.

Its Central Otago Pou Matarautaki/operations manager Nikki Holmes, said Diamond Lake and the Rocky Summit Track were untouched. . .

Beekeepers hoping for good flow – Tim Cronshaw:

Beekeepers hope a sluggish start won’t put the brakes on honey flows this year.

They want to avoid a repeat of the 2020-21 season when national honey production was down 24% to 20,500 tonnes, from a much better summer.

The average honey yield fell then to 25kg per hive.

Apiculture NZ chief executive Karin Kos said a late-flowering and cold and windy start has failed to assist beekeepers so far this season. . . 

A secret getaway to Mototapu track – Liz Carlson:

Perhaps the closest backcountry hut near the popular outdoor playground of Wanaka is one that you might not have heard of – Fern Burn Hut. Tucked away on a lush high-country station, it is the first stage in a three-day tramp connecting Wanaka and Arrowtown, which retraces a historic path in Central Otago.

An enjoyable day walk to the modern hut, it’s a great way to experience the beauty of the area, though it’s even better if you stay the night in one of the 12 bunks.

Most people walk the 34-kilometre Motatapu Track over three days, though the day trips and overnight at one of the huts are equally enjoyable. From Wanaka to Fern Burn Hut is only 7km and a couple of hours winding up and down over the beautiful land.

The track begins near Glendhu Bay in Wanaka, making it one of the closest and easily accessed huts from the town, and a great alternative to the busy alpine huts in summer  – you’ll often have the place to yourself. . . 

Going the distance:

Getting fast broadband to rural areas of New Zealand is the last great challenge for the country’s Internet network.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key said last week one of the top achievements of his time in government was Ultra-Fast Broadband. The roll-out of fibre arrived in time to be a vital help for communities during Covid lockdowns and is now an essential service for all kinds of social and economic reasons.

But he said he was concerned about the rural/urban divide with a number of people unable to get access to fibre Internet.

Luckily there is already a solution for many rural properties as New Zealand’s wireless internet providers, or WISPS, are working to link users with quality broadband and which have been building their own networks to do this. . . 


Rural round-up

18/12/2021

 Government ‘tone deaf’ to meat industry’s needs – Sally Rae:

The Meat Industry Association has lambasted what is understood to be the approval of 15 long-term critical worker visas for halal butchers – when 45 are “desperately” needed – saying it shows the Government is “tone deaf to the needs of business”.

Muslim markets and many customers demanded meat be processed in the halal way; 49 out of 55 processing plants in New Zealand operated halal systems and relied on 250 halal butchers.

In a statement yesterday, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the “miserly” approval knee-capped the ability of the second-largest goods export sector to fully contribute to New Zealand’s economy and capture higher value from its exports.

Halal certified products contributed about $3.7 billion of annual export earnings. The sector could typically recruit only 100 halal butchers domestically due to New Zealand’s small Muslim population and the nature of the job. . . 

Farmers will want to milk it – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers will be milking cows for as long as they can to capitalise on a record milk price this season.

Soaring farm input costs may erode profit margins, but a milk price near $9/kgMS provides farmers the chance to boost income and reduce debt.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says farmers around the globe are facing inflationary pressures and NZ is no exception.

“But I don’t think there will be any adverse reaction to milk production,” says Hurrell. . .

T&G Global to invest millions in automated packhouse, orchard redevelopment

Produce company T&G Global has announced it will pour in millions of dollars to expand its apples business to meet growing consumer demand. 

The company will invest $100 million into a new automated packhouse and has committed millions more to orchard redevelopment across Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

The announcement comes after T&G downgraded its full-year profit expectations in October, due to persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs.

T&G, which is one of New Zealand’s largest apple growers and marketers, said its premium Envy apple was on track to be a billion-dollar brand. . . 

Funding of hemp fibre innovation set to propel New Zealand on to world stage :

New Government funding will help a New Zealand hemp fibre company explore untapped opportunities – from soft flooring to food packaging that’s more environmentally sustainable.

The Government is contributing $1.34 million through MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to New Zealand Natural Fibres’ (NZNF) five-year research and development programme project. NZNF is the only hemp fibre company in New Zealand that controls its own supply chain end-to-end. The company is contributing a further $2 million in cash and in kind to the project.

“We plan to use the SFF Futures funding to develop our hemp growing, processing and marketing capability to ‘go further, faster’ towards taking a global leadership position in the development of industrial and consumer products made from hemp fibre,” says NZNF CEO Colin McKenzie.

“We are very pleased to have received government backing to continue our work with hemp fibre, which has huge potential to be part of the solution to some of the most crucial environmental challenges facing our planet today. . . 

Gearing up for harvest:

The export cherry season is now underway and in New Zealand, summerfruit has started appearing in the supermarkets.  In other words, the new season’s fruit harvest is gathering pace, as Christmas fast approaches and the great kiwi summer getaway also gets underway. 

Tomorrow, the Auckland borders will finally be open. Unfortunately across some areas of the country, there is apprehension and reservations about this change.  But let’s not pre-empt any negative thoughts.  Our Auckland comrades have done it very hard for a long period.  To help growers and packhouse operators prepare for in the event of a positive Covid test, we have worked with the Ministry of Primary Industries to pull together advice on what to do.  Click here to access that advice. 

The most important things to do are to isolate the worker and their bubble, alert your local District Health Board and follow their instructions regarding the public health implications, and contact your product group for further advice.  In terms of any media interest, it is recommended to direct any journalist to your product group or HortNZ for any comment as you will be busy managing the response and we are all here to help you.  . . 

Once perceived as a problem, conservation grazing by cattle a boon to vernal pools :

Giving 1,200-pound cows access to one of California’s most fragile and biologically rich ecosystems seems a strange way to protect its threatened and endangered species.

But a recently published study suggests that reintroducing low to moderate levels of cattle grazing around vernal pools – under certain conditions – leads to a greater number and greater variety of native plants.

“We found that after 40 years of rest from grazing, reintroducing conservation grazing had – across the board – positive impacts on vernal pool plant diversity,” said Julia Michaels, a visiting professor at Reed College who led a three-year study in a Sacramento-area reserve during her time as a UC Davis Ph.D. student.

Ecologists consider vernal pools – ephemeral ponds that form seasonally – “islands of native habitat” amid California’s grasslands that are dominated by exotic grasses. These biodiversity hotspots harbor about 200 native species of animals and plants, such as the coyote thistle, which germinates under water and forms a snorkel-like straw to deliver oxygen to its roots – and then “fills in” its stem as the pool dries. . . 


Rural round-up

16/11/2021

‘M. bovis’ lessons will fortify system: report – Sally Rae:

An independent review panel is confident the lessons learned from the Mycoplasma bovis incursion — if acted upon — will enable New Zealand to have a “far stronger preparedness platform” for future animal disease incursions.

A review of the cattle disease’s eradication programme found it was on track to achieve a world-first eradication and made recommendations to improve the wider biosecurity system.

It was the largest incursion response ever conducted in New Zealand and, given the country was on track to successful elimination, was a credit to all involved, the report released yesterday said.

No response would ever follow a predictable plan but, in 2017, the readiness and response system was not as well prepared as it was thought to be, it said. . .

Study highlights dangerous disconnect rural hospitals face as specter of Covid-19 looms :

Rural hospital doctors are reporting a lack of support from DHBs during the first Covid-19 outbreak, in new research by the University of Otago.

Dr Kati Blattner, from the University of Otago, says there is a disconnect between different parts of the health system, when it comes to transferring patients, that often ignores both local expertise and the geography.

“This research puts the spotlight on a sector of our health system that’s generally invisible, as we see it out here, at the end of the dripline,” she told Morning Report.

The study involved interviewing 17 senior doctors across New Zealand in 17 different rural hospitals about their experiences planning for the pandemic. It looked specifically at issues in the way of transferring patients to other bigger hospitals so they could receive advanced respiratory care. . .

Fonterra farmers to vote on co-op’s capital structure proposal :

Fonterra has today announced it will proceed with a shareholder vote on the change to the Co-operative’s capital structure, which would give farmers greater financial flexibility and better enable the Co-op’s strategy.

Fonterra Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

The decision to go ahead as planned has been informed by a significant volume of shareholder feedback that shows strong support for the changes.

“The Board is unanimously recommending the changes to our capital structure to put us in the best position to deliver the value outlined in the strategy and protect farmer ownership and control of our Co-op. . .

Federated Farmers partners with NZ YOung Farmers to offer free memberships :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is excited to announce Federated Farmers has jumped on board as a benefit partner to offer a complimentary NZYF Federated Farmers Membership, exclusive to its members.

It’s already had a strong response, with more than 100 NZYF members having signed up within the first day of its launch.

With more members seeking tangible benefits, NYF CEO Lynda Coppersmith said she was thrilled to add the NZYF Federated Farmers Membership to the list.

“Providing a direct link with Federated Farmers for our members is going to benefit the sector hugely,” she said. . . 

Testing the waters – Country Life:

Christine Finnigan is scanning the stream bed looking for kākahi.

“I found one and it’s very much alive,” she calls to fellow farmer Kim Bills and ag consultant Terry Parminter.

The freshwater mussels, especially baby ones, are a sign the creek is relatively healthy, even though it is in the middle of Bills’ dairy block.

The stream flows through a lush stand of bush, which has been fenced off from the young bulls bellowing in the distance. . .

HortNZ scholarship applications open to support next-gen growers:

Students considering a career in New Zealand’s growing horticulture industry are encouraged to apply for Horticulture New Zealand’s scholarships.

Applications for HortNZ’s annual undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships are open until 10 December 2021 for the 2022 study period.

HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley says that the scholarship programme supports students who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry to pursue their careers.

“Young people are the future of the horticulture industry. That is why HortNZ offers these scholarships – worth up to $10,000 – to support the next generation of innovators and leaders. . .

FMG Young Farmer of the year 2022 Otago Southland regional finalists announced :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Otago Southland Regional Final have been chosen for the Contest’s 54th season.

Featuring shepherds/sheep and beef farmers, a fencing contractor and rural and agribusiness bankers, only one person will be named 2022 Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

Ben Harmer, Isaac Johnston, Matt Sullivan, Andrew Cowie, Alex Field, George Blyth, Kurt Knarston and James Fox are the top eight competitors in the Otago Southland region, whittled down from 37 competitors over two district contests.

They will go head-to-head at the Otago Southland Regional Final on the 12th of February in Waimumu. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/06/2021

Canterbury flooding: best friend safe but pain lingers – Adam Burns:

Dave Stewart and his family may have emerged from the floodwaters safe and well.

But the heartache of a flooding catastrophe which ravaged the Mid-Canterbury district has not subsided for the Greenstreet dairy farmer who was evacuated alongside wife Maree and son TJ on Sunday 30 May.

The image of 10-year-old dog Max being guided onto a truck by a member of the New Zealand Defence Force during the evacuation circulated across national and international channels as news broke of the Canterbury region being lashed by a one-in-100-year rain event.

As Stewart, 67, surveyed the damage to the 200ha family farm yesterday, which he said was going to absorb significant time and costs, there was only one feeling that came to mind. . . 

We are good at agriculture and we can be proud of it – Derek Moot:

Prof. Derrick Moot, head of the Dryland Pastures Research team at Lincoln University and a keynote contributor to MakingMeatBetter.nz, gives his thoughts on the NZ farming industry.

The adage ‘the consumer is king’ has never been more pertinent than it is today for New Zealand’s animal agriculture sector. What consumers think about our products, how they feel when they eat them, and their perceptions of how it’s produced, have become something of a national obsession.

After all, 40 per cent, or $17.4 billion worth of our annual export income, relies on global consumers continuing to place value on the animal-sourced products we produce – and preferably at a premium.

In this Covid-ravaged world, that export income has never been more important for Aotearoa. . .

Fears for productive farmland – Shawn McAvinue:

An overseas investor is seeking to buy a sheep and beef station in South Otago, sparking fears the productive farmland could become a carbon forestry block and force families out of the community.

A Land Information New Zealand spokeswoman said an application had been lodged at the Overseas Investment Office for the acquisition of the 5499.25ha sheep and beef farm Wisp Hill Station in Owaka Rd in Owaka Valley.

“The application is currently being processed and we do not know when a decision will be made.”

All other information relating to the application remained confidential, she said. . . 

LIC announces deal to divest automatum business:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) announces it has entered into an agreement to divest its automation business to MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (NYSE:MRK) for an amount of NZ$38,100,000 and subject to a working capital adjustment.

The LIC Automation product portfolio joins Allflex Livestock Intelligence (a business unit within MSD Animal Health which has manufacturing facilities at Palmerston North New Zealand).

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary requirements and the transaction is expected to complete on or about 11 June 2021.

The transaction includes the following: . . 

HortNZ welcomes Government Integrated Farm Planning (IFP) guidance:

Horticulture New Zealand says fruit and vegetable growers can meet new farm planning requirements, through adapting existing Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) programmes.

‘The farm planning principles and requirements announced by the Agriculture Minister today largely mirror existing GAP plans, which are integrated farming planning programmes,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘That said, as an industry, we will be reviewing our GAP programmes to see if there are any areas that we need to strengthen.’

Barry says that HortNZ and industry bodies have been working closely with growers on integrated GAP plans for more than 20 years. . .

Waikato Milking Systems at Fireldays 2021: Introducing CowTRAQ collars and  DairyHQ dairy management system:

Dairy farmers operating in a complex, modern industry can find the solutions to the challenges they’re facing, by partnering with Waikato Milking Systems at this year’s National Fieldays.

The dairy technology company will showcase new products aimed at helping farmers make decisions on how to improve efficiency and productivity, to meet the unique conditions of their operation.

There will also be a focus on helping farmers improve the milk quality of their herds, with labour-saving and data collection technology already tested around the world, from large-scale commercial operations to the traditional family-owned farms. . . 


Rural round-up

10/06/2021

Feds says we’ll need more people, more money to take on climate challenges:

Federated Farmers believes the final Climate Change Commission report released today will need to be backed up with significant investment in improving access to science and technology on farm, and the people needed to operate it.

Back in February Feds was relatively upbeat about the report and the challenges it posed for New Zealanders, and their government. But there were areas where Feds felt the analysis and the science was not reliable.

As was said back in February, Feds is wary of any policy direction which assumes tougher regulation will force behaviour change.

“To expect landowners to make land use changes based on the weight of regulation they face, rather than market forces, is unreliable and unlikely to deliver lasting improvements,” Andrew says. . .

Commission advice remain a big ask for farmers :

The Independent Climate Change Commission’s final advice to Government has kept the 2030 methane reduction target at 10 percent, but the job ahead remains a big ask for dairy farmers, according to DairyNZ.

“It is now up to the Government to deliver a credible emissions reduction plan for New Zealand – and the investment in tools and support required to achieve it,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

“A 10 percent reduction for biogenic methane will be incredibly challenging for farmers, but we are committed to playing our part and reducing emissions alongside the rest of the economy.

“We are pleased the goalposts haven’t shifted from the Zero Carbon Act and farmers now have certainty they need to make long-term investment decisions. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand backs Climate Change Commission’s strengthened advice to reduce reliance on carbon farming:

The Climate Change Commission’s advice that New Zealand must cut gross carbon dioxide emissions is encouraging, but still far too many exotic trees are forecast to be planted on productive farmland, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“While we still need to carefully read 400-odd pages of the final advice, we support the Commission telling the Government that New Zealand must reduce its reliance on forestry offsets, in particular from pinus radiata,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“However, the recommended levels of carbon removed by trees is still too high and will lead to swathes of New Zealand sheep and beef farmland being converted to pine trees.

“This will have significant negative impacts for sheep and beef farming and rural communities with knock-on effects for every New Zealand household. . .

A million cows to be slaughtered for what gain?

The Climate Commission’s recommendations that stock number need to be slashed means a million cows will be slaughtered”, said Owen Jennings, Manager of F.A.R.M. – Facts About Ruminant Methane.

“No amount of fancy words and promises hides the grim reality that of the 6.2 million cows currently producing the country’s wealth a million will end up butchered. In fact the Commission and now the Government admit it may be more”.

“F.A.R.M challenges Rod Carr or Minister Shaw to state how much warming will be slowed or stopped by this dastardly move. The cold reality is that they can only truthfully answer ‘none’. . . 

Horticulre’s potential to help New Zealand respond to climate change recognised:

Horticulture New Zealand is pleased that the Climate Change Commission has recognised that land use change to horticulture can help New Zealand respond to climate change, while at the same time providing people with fresh, healthy food.

‘We’re pleased that in its final report to the Government, the Climate Change Commission has increased its estimate of how much land could be converted to horticulture, from 2000 hectares a year to 3500 hectares a year,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘If horticultural can expand more, it will reduce some of the emission reductions required by other parts of the primary sector, and also reduce reliance on forestry offset, which the report acknowledges, ultimately passes the responsibility for achieving reductions to future generations.

‘The report recognises that in order for horticulture to achieve its full potential, investment will be needed to remove barriers such as water availability and access to labour.’ . . 

ExportNZ calls for least cost, high emissions reduction, not high cost:

Catherine Beard, Executive Director of ExportNZ says ExportNZ fully supports New Zealand reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, but emphasises this needs to be an affordable journey to ensure our manufacturers, food producers and exporters maintain their competitiveness internationally.

“New Zealand needs to transition to a low carbon emissions future along with the rest of the world and we already have a great advantage with our high percentage of renewable electricity.

“ExportNZ supports the use of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to cap emissions, allowing trading to find the least cost emission reduction.

“Changes already made to the ETS will ensure the price of units will steadily increase and that free allocations to emission intensive trade exposed businesses will reduce. This will send a price signal to energy users to increase efficiency, lower emissions and offset the ones that are too expensive to reduce until the low emissions technology is available. . . 


Rural round-up

11/05/2021

Primary sector exports defy challenges – Sudesh Kissun:

Primary sector exporters, take a bow.

Despite major challenges, New Zealand primary sector exports are holding up well. And it’s not just dairy products leaving our ports in droves – beef, apples, kiwifruit, wine and sheepmeat are also being shipped out.

According to BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, NZ primary sector exports have been impressively resilient to the massive global economic shock over the past 12 months.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel points out that exporters have been facing considerable challenges – many of which are ongoing.

Critical worker shortage on dairy farmers will take a toll:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed the government’s exception announcement today shows it could not find a way to bring 500 desperately needed skilled dairy employees into the country.

Feds believes the pressure some farming families are now under, due to a severe lack of people to work on farms, is already taking a toll on stress levels, wellbeing and health.

“Farmers have been telling us for well over a year there is a real shortage of suitable dairy staff,” Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I am getting daily calls about the labour situation and many farmers don’t know what to do for the coming season. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry welcomes Government’s decision to bring in more workers from the Pacific:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. 

‘Pacific workers are an integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning.  They make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Indeed, over the past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck, more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies through the RSE scheme.  . .

Silver Fern Farms creates opportunities for young people to succeed in the red meat industry :

Silver Fern Farms will launch their search for the future stars of the red meat industry in the coming weeks, with applications opening for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

Since 2017 Silver Fern Farms has invested $130,000 to further the careers of young people through Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships, and has also placed nine young people in roles around the business in the Graduate Career Programme.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Graduate Career Programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers. . .

Alternative proteins industry has huge potential but lacks direction – report – Maja Burry:

New Zealand’s alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.

The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country’s food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.

FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.

“New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff.” . .

New technology brings vegetables centre stage:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a ‘centre of the plate’ item.

A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is under way.

The two-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.

One year on, it has made some exciting progress. . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2021

Rabbits: ‘It’s as bad as it’s ever been’ – Melanie Reid:

Rabbits are once again over-running parts of New Zealand. This week, in a series of short videos, Newsroom Investigates lays out the remarkable impacts in the south.

Farmers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on rabbit control, with some employing full time shooters. But what if you control the rabbits at your place, and next door they don’t?

For Phillip Bunn, a third generation farmer on 149 hectares of Central Otago family land, there are a lot of things that make farming in the Queenstown Wakatipu Basin tough.

But dealing with rabbits is by far the hardest part. . .

Truckers at risk crossing Mt Ruapehu bridge with ‘severe’ defects – Phil Pennington:

A century-old wooden bridge full of holes that carries masses of the country’s potatoes and carrots is jeopardising truckers’ safety and farmers’ livelihoods.

But government funding changes make it less certain the local council can get the bridge, on a back road on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, replaced.

Between a 10th and one-fifth of the washed carrots and potatoes used in the North Island come across the one-lane timber Mangateitei rail overbridge near Ohakune.

There is no other public road out from the farms. . . 

Rein in rates and show some backbone over water rules, Feds urges ECan:

Federated Farmers is strongly urging Environment Canterbury to demonstrate financial discipline and stick with current water plans developed with the community, rather than cave in and start a $25 million exercise re-writing them.

Feds Mid-Canterbury President David Clark and fellow Ashburton farmer and national board member Chris Allen said the Federation’s Canterbury membership of around 3000 are outraged and hugely disappointed with the very large rates increases proposed.

Most farmers face bigger hikes than the overall average of 24.5% in the financial year starting July 1.

“No business has the luxury of unlimited income, especially farmers who as price takers cannot just increase their prices. ECan should be no different,” Clark told councillors at a hearing this morning. . . 

Log exports high prices create New Zealand trucking backlog – Maja Burry:

Strong export prices for logs are creating bottlenecks in the local supply chain, with forest owners reporting problems securing log truck drivers and in some cases, harvesting contractors.

Forest Owners Association’s president Phil Taylor said when log prices were high, smaller forest owners, including farmers, seized the opportunity to maximise returns.

“It’s a very good opportunity to realise their investments and for those farmers that have trees to provide them with a significant boost to their incomes.”

The shortage in log truck drivers was a developing concern and the association was keen to work with Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service to encourage more people into the industry, Taylor said. . .

Nadine Tunley is HortNZ’s new Chief Executive :

Nadine Tunley has been announced as Horticulture New Zealand’s new Chief Executive. 

‘We are very pleased to have been able to appoint a candidate of Nadine’s calibre, with her level of horticulture and wider food and fibre sector experience.  This was after an extensive recruitment process,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘Nadine will lead HortNZ into new territory, as horticulture adapts to Covid and the operation of industry changes.  Over the next decade, climate adaption, freshwater quality improvements, and increased use of technology and automation will result in significant change to the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand. 

‘HortNZ’s role will be to help steer the industry through this change, advocating for growers to be given the time and support to adapt.  This is so our growers can remain viable during the transition, and do what they do best: feed New Zealand and the world healthy, good tasting and safe food. . . 

Rob Hewett appointed Silver Fern Farms co-op chair:

At the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 29 April, Richard Young announced that he was standing down as Co-operative Chair to facilitate transition to the next generation of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative leaders.

To bridge this transition period, the Co-operative Board has requested that Rob Hewett step back into the Co-operative Chair role that he relinquished two years ago, together with continuing in his role as Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited.

Mr Hewett said “Firstly I want to thank Richard for his significant contribution as Co-op Chair for the past two years. Over that time, he has led the development and establishment of a clear vision and purpose for the Co-operative, which ensures we continually work cohesively with our investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited, but also ensuring the voice of our farmer shareholders is heard. I also know he will continue to make a significant contribution for the balance of his current term. Over the next three years there will be significant managed transformation in our Board composition as several of our farmer elected directors come to the end of their maximum terms as allowed for in our Constitution – myself included. While the Constitution does allow for term extensions on a case by case basis for Directors who have reached their maximum term, it is the clear intention of the Co-operative board to manage succession proactively.” . . 


Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


Rural round-up

27/03/2021

Kill rate sparks breeding flock concern – Neal Wallace:

A high mutton kill has commentators worried the country’s core ewe breeding flock could take a sharp fall.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says 3.1 million ewes were forecast to be killed this year, but up to February 13 – 19 weeks into the season – the kill was well on the way, sitting at 2.2m.

The five-year average kill for the remaining 33 weeks of the season is nearly 1.5m, potentially pushing this year’s ewe kill to about 3.7m.

Croad believes some farmers are looking at the capital tied up in breeding flocks and looking for less financial risk. . . 

Meat man’s mission ending – Sudesh Kissun:

It was around 27 years ago when Rod Slater agreed to step in as interim chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

He recalls getting a call from then-chairman Dennis Denton, who was worried about the future of the organisation. The chief executive had “gone AWOL” and things were looking dire.

Slater, then a board member of B+LNZ, had just sold out of Mad Butcher, the iconic NZ chain he had started with Sir Peter Leitch.

Slater told Rural News that was happy to help bail out B+LNZ. . .

Mid-Canterbury sheep milking business looks to expand – Maja Burry:

A Mid Canterbury sheep milking business is looking to establish itself as a major player in local industry with plans to take on more than 20 farmer suppliers over the next three years.

Matt and Tracey Jones from Sheep Milk New Zealand began commercial milking in 2019. As well as selling raw milk to other producers, they have developed their own fresh milk product range Jones Family Farm and a skin care range Sabelle.

Matt Jones said at the moment it had two farmer suppliers, but it would be taking on five more this coming season and 17 more were lined up for the season after.

“We’re building more processing facilities for that … because someone’s got to buy the milk and we’ve got to process it and sell it.” . . 

Millions of South Canterbury sunflowers heading for bottling plant – Eleisha Foon:

It’s hard not to miss the bright sea of yellow which turns heads just south of Timaru on State Highway 1.

Millions of sunflowers on a South Canterbury farm, are just weeks away from harvest.

Row upon row, standing two feet tall, they’re past their best now and are beginning to sag.

By next month the sunflower seeds will be processed into cooking oil, making it one of New Zealand’s only locally grown sunflower oil – soon to be ready for the domestic market. . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s moves to improve housing supply – but not on highly productive land:

HortNZ says the Government’s latest moves to improve housing supply are welcome but the new houses must not be built on highly productive land used for vegetable or fruit growing.

‘Every New Zealander deserves a house just like every New Zealander deserves fresh, healthy locally grown vegetables and fruit,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

‘We can have both but current policy settings favour housing over food security, and keeping New Zealand’s most highly productive soils safe from urban creep.

‘In August 2019, the Government launched its draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land. This was at an event attended by two Government Ministers in Pukekohe, where some of the greatest pressures are. . . 

Actress Antonia Prebble joins Spring Sheep Milk Co to launch toddler milk:

Actress and mum to 20-month-old Freddie, Antonia Prebble is delighted to be helping introduce New Zealand to a brand-new source of toddler nutrition. Antonia is working with Kiwi company Spring Sheep Milk Co. as it launches its new premium Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink, a product made with grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk.

Antonia was drawn to Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s gentle approach to nutrition for Kiwi toddlers and the rich nutritional and digestive benefits of sheep milk.

“I am really mindful when it comes to what I give Freddie to eat and drink, and working with the team at Spring Sheep, I saw early on that they are just as passionate about what goes into their product. . . 


No food no people

11/03/2021

Food security is being highlighted at the launch of the Year of Fruit and Vegetables at parliament last night.

The importance of food security and people having access to fresh and healthy fruit and vegetables is being highlighted at the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables at Parliament tonight (10 March).

“Access to fresh fruit and vegetable growers is essential for healthy people.  What often gets forgotten is the vital role that the people who grow fruit and vegetables play in ensuring fresh fruit and vegetables are on the table,” says Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

“Covid has shown us that we cannot rely on imports and has highlighted how lucky we are in New Zealand that we can grow most of our own food.  We need to make sure that we protect this ability. 

“But at the same time, fruit and vegetable growers are being asked to meet increasingly strict objectives for climate change and compliance in general, without the important role of feeding people being factored in.

“If New Zealand is to meet its climate change and economic goals, growers and farmers need to be empowered to adapt and reduce emissions.

“The Paris Accord clearly states that producing food while adapting to climate change is vital.  No food, no people.  As a country, we need to grow fruit and vegetables to feed ourselves and to export, to earn essential overseas revenue. 

“Give our growers the tools, incentives and time, and we could lead the world in climate change adaption and global food production.  This will require significant research and development to find the tools and techniques needed to make a difference.”

Those of the darkest green persuasion may well rejoice in a world without people.

The more sensible among us understand the importance of food security and be worried about the risks – both natural and political – that food producers face.


Rural round-up

12/02/2021

Plan for feeding New Zealanders fresh vegetables and fruit needed too :

Horticulture New Zealand is calling on the Government to hurry up protection for highly productive land. 

‘While it’s great that the Government is trying to do something to improve housing supply by making land more available through reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the New Zealanders who will live in those houses will also want fresh vegetables and fruit to eat at appropriate prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Reports that “Urban sprawl looks set to eat up to 31,270ha of Auckland’s most productive land over the next 35 years” (‘Stupid and inconsistent’: Urban sprawl set to swallow 31,000 hectares of prime land, NZHerald, 9 February 2021) make distressing and dispiriting reading. 

‘Part of New Zealand’s overall plan to house people and respond to climate change needs to be a plan to feed people fresh, healthy locally-grown vegetables and fruit, at appropriate prices.  . . 

Why our dairy farmers should take their own climate-change initiatives rather than wait for govt regulations – Point of Order:

Is the  Climate Change Commission’s draft proposals to meet  NZ’s emissions targets  as  radical  as right-wing commentator  Matthew Hooton contends, or entirely “doable”  as  leftie Simon Wilson  suggests?

The  draft budgets call on  the government to ensure  the  country emits on average 5.6% less than it did  in 2018 every year  between 2022 and 2025, 14.7% less for every year between 2026 and 2030  and 20.9% less  for every year between 2031 and 2035.  This is designed to get NZ to  zero net carbon emissions  by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Prime Minister  Jacinda  Ardern, who has said dealing with climate change  is her government’s “nuclear  free moment”,  says she will introduce new policies  and a  new international climate target to meet the shrinking carbon budgets set out by the CCC. . . 

Half a billion babies – Gerard Hutching:

Artificial Breeding (AB) technician Dirk van de Ven has an enviable lifestyle.

For about three months of the year the Winton, Southland, man works as an AB technician, earning enough to see him and wife Mieke through the year, albeit with odd jobs supplementing his main income.

“Then I do a little hoof trimming, gardening, walks, get firewood – it all keeps me fit. We work very hard for three months, then do a few little jobs,” Dirk says. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours. . .

Social media could be boosting sales of exotic kiwano fruit from Te Puke – Karoline Tuckey:

Somewhere just outside Te Puke, fields of strange alien-like vines are unfurling their tendrils, and growing large egg-like mottled golden fruits, covered in sharp spikes – and US buyers can’t get enough.

The bizarre harvest is Enzed Exotics’ kiwano crop, which pickers began collecting from the vines last week.

Owner Renee Hutchings said kiwano are horned melons – a type of African cucumber.

She has about 11 hectares planted with 60,000 vines this season. They normally produce about 30,000 trays or 135 tonnes of fruit, mostly for export. . . 

Far North farmers desperate for rain :

Farmers in the Far North are nervously awaiting some rain as dry weather intensifies in the region.

NIWA reports parts of the district are in severe meteorological drought and the region’s farming leaders are meeting this week to discuss what could happen next.

Northland Rural Support Trust chair Chris Neill said the extremely dry conditions in some areas was partly a carryover from last year’s drought.

“We are collecting information from our contacts across the region so we get a much clearer localised view of it,” Neill said. . . 


Rural round-up

23/11/2020

Supermarket inquiry might see rise in cost of fruit and vegetables, Horticulture NZ warns – Eric Frykberg:

People might end up paying more for their fruit and vegetables, not less, after an inquiry into supermarkets, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The industry group says growers who supply produce to supermarkets do not always get paid the price they need to meet all their costs.

The government this week confirmed the Commerce Commission market study Labour had promised during the election campaign.

The main focus of the investigation will be the experience of the consumer, but it will also look at the way that supermarkets procure their goods. . . .

NZ farmers adopted regenerative agriculture years ago – professor – Eric Frykberg:

A veteran farming academic thinks regenerative agriculture is a largely redundant concept for New Zealand because it has been practised here for years.

Keith Woodford said it was an American idea, born out of necessity on the prairies, but largely superfluous in New Zealand.

Regenerative agriculture focuses on topsoil regeneration, along with improving the water cycle, supporting biosequestration (or removal) of harmful products like greenhouse gases and enhancing the integrity of ecosystems.

It has become a popular catchcry in New Zealand and was strongly pushed by the Green Party during the last election. . .

NZ scientists lead the charge to explore benefits of pasture-raised beef and lamb :

New Zealanders will be invited to take part in a major research programme to assess the health and well-being benefits of eating pasture-raised beef and lamb, compared to grain-finished beef and plant-based alternatives.

Approximately 100 people will be monitored in two ground-breaking clinical studies, led by researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland.

The projects will assess the physical effects on the body from eating the different foods for up to 10 weeks, as well as psychological elements, such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels.

The research team includes meat scientists, agricultural academics, dietitians, behavioural experts and social scientists. . .

Wannabe lobbyists – Elbow Deep:

An exchange on Twitter caught my eye this week; a Waikato dairy farmer had landed a new 50:50 sharemilking job for the next season and was posing proudly with his family while holding a copy of his new Federated Farmers Herd Owning Sharemilking contract.

After some light hearted banter, the farmer was asked when he was going to sign up and become a Federated Farmers member. Tongue firmly in cheek he replied that, contracts aside, the only good thing to ever come out of the old boys club that was Feds was that they fought to keep Rural Delivery going. It was pointed out to him that Federated Farmers advocate strongly on local and central government issues for farmers. “What then,” he quite reasonable asked, “is the difference between Federated Farmers and DairyNZ?”

This was an excellent point and made me ponder what exactly the groups advocating on my behalf deliver, and is it what I want.

Finishing properties maintain the lead:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 118 more farm sales (+45.4%) for the three months ended October 2020 than for the three months ended October 2019. Overall, there were 378 farm sales in the three months ended October 2020, compared to 401 farm sales for the three months ended September 2020 (-5.7%), and 260 farm sales for the three months ended October 2019. 1,331 farms were sold in the year to October 2020, 0.3% fewer than were sold in the year to October 2019, with 19.2% less Dairy farms, 10.5% less Grazing farms, 1.3% more Finishing farms and 17.4% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to October 2020 was $28,399 compared to $25,637 recorded for three months ended October 2019 (+10.8%). The median price per hectare increased 5.5% compared to September 2020. . . 

Substantial dairy farm with subdivision potential placed on the market for sale:

A highly-productive low-input dairy farm on the outskirts of Hamilton – and encompassing a substantial quantity of lifestyle block sized sections – has been placed on the market for sale.

Drumlea Farm in Ngahinapouri some three kilometres south-west of Hamilton’s metropolitan boundary is a 336-hectare block comprising 17 combined titles – 14 of which are lifestyle block proportions. In addition, Drumlea Farm leases an adjoining 27 hectares of land on its northern boundary which is used mainly for grazing replacement cattle.

The farm currently milks some 750 cows – with all replacement stock carried on the property. At its peak, the farm has carried up to 920 cows. Production records from the past decade show the unit has milked between 252,000 and 353,000 kilogrammes of milk solids annually. . . 


Set back policy ‘bizarre’

23/11/2020

The Timaru District Council draft district plan seeks to increase the size of setbacks from roads, boundaries and neighbouring houses for dairy sheds, stock yards and “intensively farmed animals.

Hort NZ South Island environmental policy advisor Rachel McClung describes TDC’s proposal as “quite extreme” and believes it would have a major impact on farmers and growers’ bottom lines. . . 

It would also reduce production and thereby put upward pressure on food prices.

Federated Farmers senior policy advisor Angela Johnson shares similar concerns.

“We have never seen in a district plan anything so unnecessarily restrictive for animals on pasture – particularly given we’re talking about farm animals in the rural zone,” she told Rural News.

Johnson says that, typically, this type of setback relates to intensive farm building structures. However, Timaru’s proposed approach restricts where on paddocks farmers can have animals on their farm.

“It’s significantly more restrictive than any government Essential Freshwater regulation rule,” she adds. “It’s worse in fact, as it doesn’t relate to intensity, or environmental effects.

“There’s no logical connection between district plan considerations and grazing animals or feeding animals on winter crops or irrigated land.”

Johnson says matters that relate to environmental impacts on waterways etc are dealt with through regional council plans.

“So, this really does fall under the ‘bizarre’ category.

Bizarre is the appropriate word.

As proposed, the TDC district plan would mean any cattle or deer grazed on irrigated land, or break-fed on winter crops – as well as any pigs, dairy cattle (cows, calves, bulls, dry or in milk) – would all need to be set back 100m from a road, 100m from an internal property boundary, 400m from houses on adjoining sites or 100m from named zones.

“This would mean that farmers would lose a massive amount of productive land for no environmental reason,” Johnson explains.

“It’s effectively the Timaru District Council saying that the very sight of cows or deer in the countryside, within 100m of a road or 400m of a house is repugnant and unacceptable.  . . 

The farmers and growers who would be affected will be justifiably angry that their rates will have helped pay the wages of the people who came up with this mad scheme.

Whoever it was probably doesn’t get the irony that it would devalue rural land and thereby shrink the rating base that funds their salaries.

Farmers everywhere have serious concerns about central government’s environmental policies. They’ll now be worried that if this bizarre proposal from one local government body, others will follow their made example.


Rural round-up

16/11/2020

Rural water users challenge Kaikōura council plans to treat their water :

Water supply users say the Kaikōura District Council should have talked to them before coming up with expensive plans to treat their bore water.

Like councils around the country, the council is upgrading water supplies to meet the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards before the government’s new water regulator Taumata Arowai takes over next year.

Council operations manager Dave Clibbery has recommended splitting the East Coast scheme in two, building a $100,000 treatment plant for Clarence and having farms switch to rainwater for domestic use, at their own expense.

The East Coast scheme supplies 21 rural properties and 13 households in Clarence village, with the bulk of the water used for stock. . . 

Horticulture NZ keen to work with new government:

Horticulture New Zealand – which advocates for New Zealand’s 6000 plus fruit and vegetable growers – is keen to work with the new Government to ensure the industry can continue to grow and support New Zealand’s post-Covid economic and social recovery.

‘New Zealanders have spoken strongly and provided the new Government with a significant mandate,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘We’re keen to continue to work constructively with Minister Damien O’Conner, including in his new role as Trade and Export Growth Economic Minister. We want to ensure the horticulture industry is enabled to grow in line with Fit for a Better World, while at the same time responding to its environmental and climate change obligations.

‘In 2019, the New Zealand horticulture industry was worth more $6.39 billion and has grown by 64% in the past ten years. That is thanks to industry innovation and grower investment in new varieties and growing techniques to stay ahead of international competition and respond to consumer preferences. This growth is also because the industry is a sustainable user of land.’ . .

Jager backs sheep milk industry – Gerald Piddock:

Can the Zespri business model work for New Zealand’s sheep milking industry? Its former chief executive Lain Jager believes it can.

If successful, it would transform the industry into a billion-dollar industry that delivered for its farmers, Jager told around 400 people at Spring Sheep Milk Company’s annual open day held on a farm near Cambridge.

Jager is one of Spring Sheep’s directors and is also chair of the Primary Sector Council.

In 2015, Spring Sheep chief executive Scottie Chapman approached Jager about wanting to copy the Zespri model to develop a NZ sheep milking industry. . . 

Sale hammer falls on large-scale central North Island Ata Rangi Pastoral dairying venture – Andrea Fox:

Ata Rangi Pastoral, a large-scale central North Island dairying venture which aimed to show how sustainable, pasture-based production was done, has turned sour, with the last properties sold last week under the auction hammer.

Ata Rangi Pastoral was registered in 2015, to establish, by conversion, five dairy units and one dry-stock, or dairy support, farm on a swathe of forested land north of Taupo, stretching from Whakamaru to Tokoroa.

Founding shareholders New Zealanders Brent Cook and Ged Donald were reported at the time to be aiming to be the standard-bearer for sustainable, pasture-based production in New Zealand. The pair returned the land to New Zealand ownership, purchasing it from a US investment fund. . . 

Nothing beats milking elite jersey cows:

Sophia Clark didn’t think she would end up a dairy farmer but a season milking Jersey cows showed her that a career in farming could deliver both a business and a lifestyle.

Sophia and her partner Aaron Mills are 50/50 sharemilkers for Bernie and Gaye Hermann at Paengaroa, near Te Puke, where they milk a herd of 550 elite Jersey cows.

Sophia says the herd, which is in the top 1% of herds across all breeds based on breeding worth (BW), is perfectly suited to the farm. “We are a hilly farm, running a lower input system and milking once-a-day over summer.

Jerseys are well suited to our operation and enable us to farm the way we want to farm – not too much time spent on the tractor or too many bells and whistles – just a simple, efficient, profitable system.” . . .

Defending Beef The Case for Sustainable Meat Production :

For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one.

But is the matter really so clear cut? Hardly, argues environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman in her new book, Defending Beef.

The public has long been led to believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations.

In Defending Beef, Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Hahn Niman argues that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment. . . 


Rural round-up

09/11/2020

Coal burner ban could lead to rise in imported food – Horticulture New Zealand – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand may need to import more food if it bans coal boilers too soon, crop, meat and dairy producers say.

The industries regularly use coal fired heat to grow, clean, and manufacture food.

Dairy giant Fonterra stood apart from others in the food sector, saying it supported a ban on all new coal boilers. It also supported a transition period for phasing out existing boilers, especially those that produced low and medium heat, but acknowledged that it needed to align with availability of alternative energy sources.

It was in the same camp as environmental groups who favour a move away from using fossil fuels as a heat source. . . .

Slim pickings for apples – Sudesh Kissun:

Labour supply remains the top concern as the apple harvesting season approaches, says ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

She says the horticultural sector is extremely worried about finding sufficient labour to pick and pack the new season’s harvest.

“The ability to access critical workers through the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme remains very uncertain and there will be significantly fewer backpackers looking for work this summer,” she says.

“There is little doubt that more New Zealanders will be employed, but it is extremely unlikely there will be sufficient locals available to fulfil these physically demanding roles.” . . .

Vets in short supply – Peter Burke:

Julie South, whose company VetStaff specialises in recruiting veterinarians, says there is a shortage of vets in New Zealand and that this has been compounded by Covid-19.

South told Rural News that even before Covid there was a shortfall in the number of vets in NZ. However, she says the closing of the border to experienced overseas candidates has made things worse and prospective candidates can’t get visas.

According to South, most of the vets that she recruits come from Ireland, the UK and South Africa. But she says others have come from places such as South America, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and Europe.  . .

Hope rural sector’s value remains recognised :

The election result has delivered a historic and resounding result, for the first time under New Zealand’s MMP system a government has a mandate to rule outright without having to seek a coalition partner.

While the shift to Labour may have been somewhat expected in the more urban electorates, what was most surprising to many was the unprecedented wave of red votes that washed through largely rural seats.

These included long time National electorates of East Coast, Wairarapa and Rangitata, while in almost every electorate the party vote percentage flipped from National to Labour, typically by 20-25 percentage points.
For the rural sector, the confidence expressed in Labour to date will need to be maintained to prove the switch to red in the provinces has not just been a strategic move to shut out the Green party from a coalition government. . . 

Top ram breeder’s offer of a lifetime – Hugh Stringleman:

More than 70 years of sheep breeding comes to an end for Northland’s Gordon Levet when his best rams and ewes will be sold this summer. Hugh Stringleman reports.

SHEEP bred for worm resistance is the Holy Grail quest that has energised Gordon Levet for the past 35 years, which is about half of his working lifetime on Kikitangeo, the family farm near Wellsford first settled by his grandfather in 1874.

His objective has been to breed sheep with strong, quickly responsive immune systems, which will ensure survival and productivity, particularly in less challenging environments further south. . . 

Developing North Australia. What would China Do? – Carolyn Blacklock:

While Australia’s relationship with China has its ups and downs, this is just a symptom of geo-political realignment, and from this Australia needs to be pragmatic and take advantage of opportunities while not compromising our own interests.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call for a global investigation into the origins and outbreak of the coronavirus sparked heated exchanges.

This was the right call as the Australian economy reels from impacts of the pandemic, and there is an overwhelming necessity to be better prepared if and when a future viral health threat emerges.

The arrest and detention of Australian journalists, ruthless trade sanctions and tariffs targeting our beef, wine, seafood and barely exports, and dispute over Huawei’s participation in the 5G network, are all part of the bluster and tit-for-tat rhetoric. . . 


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