Rural round-up

October 27, 2018

Power prices heading north for the summer – Richard Rennie:

 Farmers looking to renew electricity contracts are being cautioned to expect a shock from new prices as the power industry faces tightening supply conditions amid strong demand from South Island irrigators for electricity.

Ruralco Energy general manager Tracey Gordon is dealing almost daily with co-operative farmer shareholders seeking advice as their electricity contracts come to an end and new ones are being set.

While electricity companies are renegotiating contracts with existing customers, those seeking new supply arrangements might find it more difficult to get on board. . .

Large-scale Canterbury irrigation project in new hands:

 An irrigation company has bought the resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project.

Shareholders on the Hurunui Water Project have voted unanimously to sell the council consents to Amuri Irrigation Company.

Amuri Irrigation chairperson David Croft said the company was aware of a strong desire for irrigation to be delivered to farmers south of the Hurunui River in north Canterbury. . . 

Agritourism witha  touch of southern hospitality – Tess Brunton:

Southland farmers have started looking for greener pasture – and tourist dollars – by welcoming visitors onto their working properties.

 It’s a niche market now, but there are hopes the region could become a mecca for agritourism.

Venture Southland has been running agritourism information workshops across the region this week, attracting more than one hundred people over four sessions.

Velvet prospects sound:

The velvet market during the 2018-19 season is expected to be reasonably stable, with consumption in Asia increasing in line with production growth in New Zealand.

Apart from a brief downward dip in prices two years ago, driven by uncertainty about regulatory changes in China, NZ velvet production and prices have increased for eight years. . .


Meat companies only have themselves to blame if meat prices are too high – Allan Barber:

 Seven years ago, the last time lamb prices were as high as they have been for the last 12 months, overseas customers suddenly decided enough was enough and turned off the tap, causing a sharp drop in price which reached its low point of less than $4.50 per kilo more than a year later. The difference this time appears to be a more gradual climb and a longer peak with no sign yet of a repeat collapse.

The other significant difference is the emergence of China as a key market, whereas in 2012 the traditional markets of UK, EU and USA had to bear the impact of selling to their consumers a product which had effectively priced itself off the market. Today the spread of market demand means more of the lamb carcase can be sold at a higher price; although this doesn’t mean there isn’t some risk of another collapse, there are greater signs of sustainability. . .

Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate – Alison Van Eenennaam:

A battle royal is brewing over what to call animal cells grown in cell culture for food. Should it be in-vitro meat, cellular meat, cultured meat or fermented meat? What about animal-free meat, slaughter-free meat, artificial meat, synthetic meat, zombie meat, lab-grown meat, non-meat or artificial muscle proteins?

Then there is the polarizing “fake” versus “clean” meat framing that boils this complex topic down to a simple good versus bad dichotomy. The opposite of fake is of course the ambiguous but desirous “natural.” And modeled after “clean” energy, “clean” meat is by inference superior to its alternative, which must logically be “dirty” meat.

See the whole picture here.


Rural round-up

October 12, 2018

Experience big advantage in lamb rearing – Ella Stokes:

Having a pet lamb in the backyard tends to be common at this time of the year; but Kelly Liggett has more than a few at her Clifton farm; in fact this year she has over 90. Reporter Ella Stokes caught up with her and all her pets.

Kelly and Alex Liggett farm in Clifton where they have 2100 ewes, 60 beef calves and 50 yearling bulls. The pair have been farming there for more than 15 years and Mrs Liggett said every year she got more involved.

Over the years she had always reared both calves and lambs but over the past three years has had more of a focus on the lambs. . .

Massey archery champion takes aim at FMG Young Farmer of the Year title:

A two-time world archery champion has joined the race to be the next FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Ben Orchard, 19, has qualified for the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final after finishing second in a district contest in Palmerston North.

“I’m stoked. I only entered because I thought it would be a bit of fun and I like a challenge. I’m really excited,” said Ben. . .

Irrigation company makes offer for Hurunui project’s water consents:

Resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project might now be sold after the scheme failed to attract the support needed to move forward.

The 25-year-old plan to increase water availability around Hawarden suffered a big setback in April when the government blocked assistance from the state agency, Crown Irrigation Limited.

In another blow, the $200 million scheme which aims to irrigate 21ha of land failed to get enough local farmers to back it. . .

Shifting from commodity production styles to meeting targeted consumer demand will require big shifts and a wider view of what the market really is – Guy Trafford:

Farming has provided a great life style and an adequate living for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders for many generations. Over time the products on farms have transitioned from subsistence in the very early years to commodity production to in recent years aiming to produce to meet certain market specifics to gain premiums from consumers.

The move to meet what consumers want is still only in its infancy and by and large most farmers focus on producing the most product at least cost and rely upon processors to find markets for these products. . .

Farmed fish search centre opens at Nelson’s Cawthron Institute – Tracy Neal:

A new research centre at Nelson’s Cawthron Institute aims to improve the resilience and productivity of farmed fish.

The $8 million addition to the Cawthron’s aquaculture park was launched yesterday.

The Finfish Research Centre will focus on selective breeding and how fish might adapt to changing environmental conditions. . . 

Pāmu donates $10,000 to IHC:

Pāmu has made a ten thousand dollar donation to IHC to support its Calf and Rural Scheme.

Pāmu has been a regular donator to the IHC, which picks up weaned calves from Pāmu farms, and sells them at sales yards, with all proceeds going to support IHC programmes.

For the first time in 33 years, IHC have suspended aspects of the Calf and Rural Scheme due to the risk posed by Mycoplasma Bovis (M. Bovis). . . 

 

International study uses new protocol for estimating water productivity:

Calculating gaps between potential and actual water productivity at local to regional scales can help agricultural producers improve crop production. In June, the international Journal of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology published a multi-country study that establishes a first-of-its-kind protocol for estimating water productivity gaps across these spatial scales. In addition, the study confirmed water productivity variations among regions with different soils and climates, and it revealed that non-water-related factors, such as nutrient deficiencies, pests and diseases often limit crop yield more than water supply. . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2018

‘The water wars’: A council’s proposal ruptures a divided heartland – Charlie Mitchell:

The Government won’t back it but an irrigation project that comes with a storage pond bigger than a nearby local town “is going to happen”. Charlie Mitchell reports on the fight for the Hurunui Water Project.

He would normally be here at this town meeting, the towering merino farmer who goes to every school gala, every public meeting in this sprawling region.

But Winton Dalley, the popular mayor of this district, is not here, because he is conflicted. So is Marie Black, the deputy mayor; so is Nicky Anderson, the new councillor who used to run the medical centre.

They don’t hear the arguments ringing through the Waikari community hall, where there’s shouting and swearing and scolding for the swearing, even though that’s how people here talk. . . 

Compensation process ‘quite appalling’ – Sally Rae:

Ken Wheeler describes the way he has been treated by the Ministry for Primary Industries as “quite appalling”and he feels for those Mycoplasma bovis-affected farmers about to go through the same process.

Despite not having a positive test to the bacterial disease, the Hillgrove farmer was ordered to slaughter 147 animals.

Now he is fighting to get what he believes is fair compensation for those animals and he has sympathy for the owners of the 22,300 cattle scheduled for impending slaughter.

“These poor guys coming behind us … need to be made aware of how MPI treats you,” Mr Wheeler said. . .

More testing tighter controls needed in fight – Toni WIlliams:

Farming Mycoplasma bovis out of the system is one way of getting rid of the infection, Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy chairman Nathan Currie says.

But it will involve more farm management, ongoing testing and tighter stock control.

Mr Currie’s comments come as the Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) confirmed a cull of more than 22,000 cattle could start as scientific testing and tracking confirmed the disease was not endemic.

MPI also confirmed another Mid Canterbury property was infected with Mycoplasma bovis, taking the number of infected properties in the district to four. . . 

Overseas workers flock to New Zealand’s shearing  jobs, kiwis not interested – Richard Gavigan:

Shearing contractors have struggled to shear sheep on time this season, despite a dream run with the weather in most parts of New Zealand.

Staff shortages have been the big problem, and Shearing Contractors Association president and Winton-based shearing contractor Jamie McConachie is concerned this may continue.

“We’ve had pretty much a dream run weather-wise in most places this season, with long fine spells,” McConachie said.

“But it’s been a really tough few months – hard to keep to schedule and get to sheds on time – because we’ve seen a noticeable decrease in the number of good shearers, woolhandlers and pressers available. . . 

The case for sustainable meat – Keir Watson:

I. Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Meat, we are told, is bad for the planet. It causes global warming, destroys forests, diverts substantial proportions of the world’s grain for feed, all to produce meat which only wealthy Westerners can afford. The iniquity of the situation led George Monbiot to declare in 2002 that “Veganism is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue.” Monbiot later recanted but, since then, we are told with increasing regularity that to save the planet we must radically reduce our consumption of meat. In the face of what seems to be universal agreement on the sins of meat eating, is there really a green argument for meat? I think there is, and I think we should be talking about it. Not only is the public discourse heavily one-sided, but the anti-meat message risks destroying the very environment is claims to be protecting.

Let’s start with one of the most repeated statistics used to argue for reduced meat consumption: the claim that 100,000 litres of water are required to produce each kilo of beef – which is a staggering 1000 times more than what is needed to produce a single kilo of wheat. . . 

Gene Editing for Good How CRISPR Could Transform Global Development – Bill Gates:

Today, more people are living healthy, productive lives than ever before. This good news may come as a surprise, but there is plenty of evidence for it. Since the early 1990s, global child mortality has been cut in half. There have been massive reductions in cases of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The incidence of polio has decreased by 99 percent, bringing the world to the verge of eradicating a major infectious disease, a feat humanity has accomplished only once before, with smallpox. The proportion of the world’s population in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day, has fallen from 35 percent to about 11 percent.

Continued progress is not inevitable, however, and a great deal of unnecessary suffering and inequity remains. By the end of this year, five million children under the age of five will have died—mostly in poor countries and mostly from preventable causes. Hundreds of millions of other children will continue to suffer needlessly from diseases and malnutrition that can cause lifelong cognitive and physical disabilities. And more than 750 million people—mostly rural farm families in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia—still live in extreme poverty, according to World Bank estimates. The women and girls among them, in particular, are denied economic opportunity. . .


Rural round-up

April 8, 2018

School farm visits to encourage agricultural careers – Hunter Calder:

Benneydale School children watched eagerly as wool came off sheep on Storth Oaks Farm.

For some of the pupils it was the first time they’d ever been on a farm, not to mention seeing a sheep in the flesh.

“It’s very soft and mushy,” one pupil said as he felt the wool.

“It’s nice, it smells like cotton candy,” another student said. . . 

Both lamb and beef exports expected to break $3 billion for the first time and forecast farm profits rise:

Both beef and lamb exports are expected to break the $3 billion mark for the first time as high lamb, mutton and beef prices bump up this season’s forecast profit for sheep and beef farmers, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Mid-Season Update.

The milestone for lamb exports is predicted to be reached on the back of a forecast 14 per cent increase in average export value. Meanwhile, total beef export receipts, which passed the $3 billion mark in 2014 15, are expected to be $3.2 billion in 2017 18 – down 1.1 per cent. . . 

Iwi leader swaps corporate job to pick apples:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s most influential Iwi leaders has swapped his corporate job to pick apples this week as the industry faces one of the worst labour shortages in recent years.

In an attempt to get more locals picking apples, Chairman of Ngati Kahungunu, Ngahiwi Tomoana and his wife Mere are picking apples for three days for Bostock New Zealand and are calling on other members of their Iwi to join them.

“I just can’t sleep at night knowing that our delicious Hawke’s Bay apples could go to waste. The apple industry drives our economy and creates thousands of jobs for our Iwi. So we need to support our local growers, so the apples don’t rot on the trees. . . 

Govt deals body-blow to farmers and growers:

The Ardern-Peters Government has dealt a body-blow to farmers and growers in pandering to its mates in the Green Party and axing funding to irrigation projects, National Party spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“Not only that, but it looks to me like it isn’t honouring its commitments to industries relying on these projects,” Mr Guy says.

“When they were first sworn in late last year, the new ministers received a briefing from Crown Irrigation outlining several projects that it had financial commitments to. . . 

Hurunui Water Project continues despite government funding ‘kick in thetTeeth’:

The Board and farmer-shareholders behind an on-plains storage based regional irrigation scheme are determined it will go ahead, despite the Government announcing that it will not provide further funding.

“Water is fundamental for our community – it’s the lifeblood of our region. As recent extended droughts have painfully shown, our livelihoods are tied to climate and the reliability of water supply,” said Hurunui Water Project (HWP) Chief Executive Chris Pile. . .

Govt’s irrigation cutback a blow but schemes to press on – Eric Frykberg:

A government move to cut back on irrigation has been called a kick in the teeth by a South Island water company fighting drought in an arid region.

The Hurunui Water Project is vowing to press on anyway, having already invested $10 million in a scheme to improve the water supply.

The government announced yesterday that it had begun winding down public funding for large-scale irrigation through the state agency, Crown Irrigation Investments Limited.

It said that was in line with its coalition and confidence and supply agreements. . . 

Silver Fern Farms’ result shows benefit of capital injection – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms Limited has posted an improved annual result for its first year with its new Chinese partner, Shanghai Maling, which invested $260 million to acquire a 50% share of the meat processor and exporter. Revenue for the 2017 financial and calendar year, following the change in balance date from the traditional meat industry year to September, was on a par with 2016, but the NPAT of $15.4 million was a huge increase on the previous year’s $30.6 million loss, although not as good as the 2015 result of $24.6 million.

The declared result for Silver Fern Farms Cooperative was not nearly as good as it was for the operating company in which the cooperative now holds a 50% shareholding.  .  .

Meatco had planned note issue to raise $2.5M; liquidator left with 1.3 tons of frozen halal meat – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Meatco, a New Zealand processor and exporter of halal sheep meat put into liquidation last month, had planned to raise capital through a convertible note issue to build a processing plant in Shannon in the lower North Island, the first of many, a strategy that was touted to boost earnings by 50 percent.

Instead, the three-year-old business was put into liquidation by a disgruntled creditor, Beirut-based Widriss Holding, a diversified food and commodity trader, “following a non-supply or refund of prepaid stock.” Meatco shareholder Michael Stacker and director and former shareholder Robin Bautista couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. . . 

Turning dirt into climate goals via carbon farming – Miriam Swaffer:

Having just returned from VERGE Hawaii: Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit, I confidently can say Hawaii is awesome. Yes, the beaches are gorgeous. But what really got me excited is Hawaii’s climate leadership and the opportunity this creates for business.  

Hawaii’s lawmakers recognize both the grave threat of climate change and the economic opportunity to generate local clean power, as opposed to shipping oil thousands of miles to meet their needs.

Indeed, days after the U.S. government announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, Hawaii was the first state to say “We Are Still In.” Within days, Hawaii Gov. David Ige went event further than the state’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by signing bills expanding the policy strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   . . 


Govt acts on threat to irrigation

April 6, 2018

The government has acted on its pre-election threat to axe funding through Crown Irrigation Investments.

Three schemes already under way will keep the funding promised.

The government will help fund the construction of irrigation projects on the Canterbury plains and near Kurow and Nelson as it winds back support for large-scale water schemes.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson today said all existing Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd development contracts will be honoured, and that the three named schemes will receive funding for their construction phase given how far down the track they were.  . . 

IrrigationNZ bemoans the lost opportunity.

 . . .“In Crown Irrigation Investments Briefing to Incoming Ministers, the socio-economic gain to communities from planned future irrigation projects in New Zealand was over $1.2 billion per year. With a number of these projects being unable to access loan funding, this is a huge lost opportunity for these rural communities,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis.

“The Hurunui Water Project, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne irrigation projects all have local community support and also meet strict new environmental requirements around river swimmability and nutrient limits. In addition to this they plan to undertake additional activities to help improve existing water quality – for example the Hunter Downs scheme was planning to augment river flows into the Wainono Lagoon which will help to restore this culturally and environmentally significant ecosystem. A recent UNESCO report – Nature Based Solutions for Water, has highlighted the importance of ‘green infrastructure’ initiatives such as this for improving water quality globally,” he adds.

The Hurunui, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne projects aim to provide water security to predominantly beef, sheep and cropping farms in drought prone areas.

Over the past summer we have experienced droughts followed by unprecedented wet conditions. This is indicative of the climate change impacts we can expect to see in the future,” says Mr Curtis. “It is critical for rural east coast farming communities to have access to a reliable water supply in order to help them manage through these effects,” says Mr Curtis.

Mr Curtis says that when farming communities experience significant droughts, it’s not just farmers who suffer but also the rest of the community and local businesses.

“Local councils see the value of investment in water infrastructure and recognise this as one of the most pressing issues for their communities. We would like to see the merits of these projects considered through the Provincial Growth Fund. These projects will build more resilient rural communities and provide significant community benefits.”

Irrigation would be much better use of regional development funding than a Minister’s pet projects.

Axing the fund continues the government’s raid on the regions.

The Government’s confirmation it will axe major irrigation projects is the second major blow it’s dealt to regional New Zealand in a week, National’s Paul Goldsmith and Nathan Guy say.

“Fresh from whacking a major new fuel tax on New Zealand motorists the Government has announced it will leave regional farmers and growers at the mercy of prolonged droughts by canning support for important irrigation projects,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“This is a huge blow to regional New Zealand which is facing an increasingly uncertain future as a result of this Government’s raid on our regions.

“This summer alone saw six regions declared in drought as dry weather hammered primary producers right around New Zealand. These irrigation projects would have given them the certainty they could deal with future dry spells but that certainty’s now been ripped away.

North Otago used to be wracked by recurring droughts which caused widespread financial, environmental and social distress.

Now large areas are irrigated the district is virtually drought-proof.

Irrigation has enabled the production of more food, the provision of more jobs and provides insurance against dry weather.

Mr Goldsmith says the Government’s regional growth strategy is a mess.

“It’s Jekyll and Hyde and seems to come down to which of Labour’s two support parties wins the day.

“One day Shane Jones sticks his finger in the air and doles out taxpayer cash for pet projects, the next day four ministers announce the Government will rip $5b out of regional road funding but tax motorists more and the next it is stripping millions out of important and demonstrably effective regional irrigation projects. . .

It just shows the Government has no clear strategy.

“It says it supports regional New Zealand but it continues to put the boot in. Axing irrigation projects makes it harder for farmers and growers to do their jobs, harder for them to create jobs, harder to grow our exports and harder for New Zealanders to get ahead.”

It’s ironic that the government wants us to take climate change seriously, including the risk of more droughts, yet has striped funding from irrigation projects which could provide insurance against dry weather.


Rural round-up

January 16, 2017

In lament of the NZ Farm – Dr Rosie Bosworth:

On the road to becoming the Detroit of agriculture.

Colleague and Christchurch based technology strategist Ben Reid, recently tweeted that New Zealand is in danger of fast becoming the “Detroit of Agriculture” – a rustbelt left behind after production has moved elsewhere.” Unfortunately, I am inclined to agree.  With technologies, science and new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at current breakneck speeds, industries globally – from banking, transport, accommodation and healthcare are having the rug pulled right out from beneath their feet. And sadly (at least for New Zealand farmers), agriculture, our economic mainstay, is next up on the chopping block. Fast en route towards becoming a sunset industry.  Overtaken and displaced by disruptive technologies, science breakthroughs and new business models. And the people at the helm? Not the people on the inside like our dairy farmers, apple breeders and savvy winemakers. But by sneaker wearing tech millennials and wealthy Tesla driving Silicon Valley venture capitalists and well funded research agencies. . . 

Dry conditions take toll on Northland farmers:

A drought declaration in Northland is just a few weeks away, but as conditions in the region grow tougher, Federated Farmers says.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said spring had been good for the region, but a dry November and December had caused problems across the board.

Halfway through November the rain had disappeared and south-westerly winds had had a very drying effect on the land, Mr Blackwell said. . . 

Dairy NZ to appeal decision on Greenpeace ad – Catherine Hutton:

One of the groups who complained that a Greenpeace advertisement was false and misleading says it plans to appeal the advertising watchdog’s decision.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 12 complaints about the advert, which blamed the dairy industry for water pollution, but dismissed all of them.

Dairy NZ, which represents dairy farmers, would not comment on the reasons it was appealing, ahead of the hearing.  . .

Hurunui Water Project says Greenpeace claims are exaggerated and out of date:

North Canterbury irrigation Company Hurunui Water Project today rejected claims by Greenpeace that the proposed scheme will lead to large-scale intensive dairying and consequent degradation of the Hurunui River.

“Greenpeace needs to actually read the latest information on the Hurunui Water Project (HWP) proposal that they have,” says HWP Chief Executive Alex Adams. “If they had done so, they would have seen the scheme is very different now to the original proposal they seem to be referring to, and that dairy development as a result of the scheme is planned to be to be a minor component.”

Adams said a 2016 survey of HWP shareholders showed the vast majority of the dryland farmers simply wanted irrigation to provide the assurance they needed to continue with their existing farming practice; only some 10 percent indicated that dairy conversions might be an option. . . 

Korean FTA delivers new round of tariff cuts:

More local businesses looking to expand into Korea will benefit from the latest round of tariff reductions under the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Trade Minister Todd McClay says.

The start of 2017 saw two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Korea become duty free, up from 46 per cent in 2016.

“Thanks to this continued progress under the FTA, even more New Zealand businesses can compete favourably in the Korean market,” Mr McClay says.

New Zealand and Korea celebrated the first anniversary of the agreement in December 2016. Since the FTA’s entry into force in December 2015, New Zealand has experienced strong results particularly in the food and beverage sector where exports to Korea have increased by over 16%. . . 

Fonterra milk collections remain below previous season, trend shifts in Oz – Edwin Mitson

 (BusinessDesk) – Milk collections by Fonterra Cooperative Group this season are continuing to track below the previous year, mainly due to lower production on the North Island.

Collections in the seven months from June 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016 were 881 million kilogrammes of milk solids, a fall of 5.5 percent on the same period in 2015, when prices were much lower. Some 186 million kgMS were collected in the month of December, down 5 percent on the same month a year ago.

There was a clear gap between the two main islands of New Zealand. Collections on the North Island fell 7 percent from June to December, while on the South Island they dropped just 2 percent in the same period. . . 

Commitment Pays Dividends for Taranaki Egg Farm Worker:

Team spirit, pride in her work and a determination to succeed in her studies have proved a winning combination for Taranaki woman Amy Kimura, who was recently named Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year for 2016. The national award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Amy, who is of Ngati Raukawa descent, is currently a Farm Worker at Aviagen New Zealand Ltd’s Taranaki production farms where her duties include general care and responsibility for the welfare of the poultry in her care. . . 

17 myths about agriculture in 2017 – Peterson farm Bros:

1. GMOs are evil

GMOs are a valuable technology used in science, medicine, and agriculture. Farmers use them to increase yields, reduce inputs, improve the soil, and provide resistance to drought, insects and weeds. There are GMOs being used all throughout society, and there is a very good chance you’ve consumed or used a GM product today. We do believe people should be free to avoid GMOs if they want to, but GMOs have been around for 2 decades (over a trillion meals consumed) without a single sickness or health issue resulting from consumption. . .

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Rural round-up

November 28, 2016

Aiming for better public science understanding – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Interactions between agriculture and the environment have rarely been so much in the face of the public, and finding a path for the future is proving challenging.

Should New Zealand remain GE-free, ban glyphosate and embrace organics, or should it lead in adopting new technologies to increase efficiencies whilst minimising impact on the environment?

The general problem is that decisions have to be made on issues which arouse high public interest, and where knowledge is incomplete and complexity great. These issues are almost always linked to values, emotions and personal experience — what the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, professor Sir Peter Gluckman, describes as “the political power of the anecdote”. . .

Improved environmental performance to provide long-term strategic value for New Zealand’s agri sector– industry report:

Improved environmental sustainability should provide long-term strategic value to New Zealand’s food and agri sector, according to a recently-released report by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Sustainable Returns: Finding the value in Environmental Sustainability, Rabobank says two major types of value have been identified for farmers and food & agribusiness (F&A) companies from improved environmental practices – the immediate monetary benefit of these practices (from a price premium) and the long-term strategic advantages that provide growth and prosperity into the future.

Report author, Rabobank rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems, Blake Holgate says the type of value farmers and F&A companies can derive will vary depending on the product they are producing, how they are producing it, where they sit on the supply chain, and who the end consumer is. . . 

Stronger farm partnerships beneficial:

A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.

Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).  That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance. . . 

South Island leaders in for Australasian agri-business award

2017 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced

Three young agriculturalists from the South Island have made it through to the next stage of the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award. The three – Morgan Easton, a 33 year old farm owner and sharemilker from Oamaru, Jolene Germann, a 32 year old dairy consultant from Invercargill and Henry Pinckney, a 34 year old farm owner from Waiau were selected for their impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry.

The three will head to Brisbane next month for the interview round for a place in the finals. They will be up against Australia’s Anna Speer, CEO of AuctionsPlus, Will Creek, a Stud Manager at Stanbroke and Airlie Trescowthick, a business analyst and managing director of The Farm Table. . . .

In the running for agribusiness award – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton has been shortlisted for the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property.

Mr Easton (33), along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann (32) and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney (34), have made it through to the next stage of the award.

The trio were selected for their “impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry”. . . 

New plan to target Mackenzie wilding conifers:

A new strategy for tackling wilding conifers in the Mackenzie Basin has been announced today by Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

“Currently, wilding conifers impact on almost a quarter of land in the Mackenzie Basin, and without further control they will spread and take over large areas of farm and conservation land,” Ms Barry says.

“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms. These invasive self-sown trees spread fast and are very hard to eliminate once established.

“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $10,000 per hectare.” . . .

National milk production down 1.5%:

Despite New Zealand dairy farmers receiving the lowest milk prices in 20 seasons, milk production dropped just 1.5%.

That was one of the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2015-16 released on November 14 by DairyNZ and LIC. They revealed there were 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

Dairy companies processed 20.9 billion litres of milk containing 1.86 billion kilograms of milk solids in 2015-16. The previous season, they handled 21.2 billion litres of milk, with 1.89 billion kilograms of milk solids. . . 

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . . 

Kiwifruit industry welcomes Government decision on seasonal workers:

• 1000 additional seasonal workers for horticulture

• RSE workers support New Zealanders who remain primary workforce

The kiwifruit industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional 1000 seasonal workers for the coming season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Chief Executive Nikki Johnson says the extra workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are essential to support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth. . . 

Crown Irrigation Invests up to $3.4m in North Canterbury – some good news for the region:

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The current project cost estimate is approximately $200 million. . . 

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock – a victim of its own success:

The record turnout for last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Ready to Run Sale at Karaka shows our bloodstock industry is still punching well above its weight says Crowe Horwath’s bloodstock specialist Hayden Dillon. As interest from Australian and Asian buyers continues to grow, the sale saw a record number of entries with 552 horses offered, however, this was tempered by a low clearance rate of 60% compared to the 81% of last year’s record-breaking sale, which left a number of vendors taking their horses back home. Dillon, says “the industry should take comfort that this is not a structural issue for the sale, rather growing pains, and NZB and the vendors will be making adjustments as necessary for the 2017 sale.” . . .

The Cambodian farmers paid to protect birds:

Rice farmers in Cambodia are battling falling regional rice prices and a black market that’s been undercutting them.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, together with a firm called Ibis Rice, is offering to pay above market price for the rice.

In return, the farmers must help protect Cambodia’s national bird – the Giant Ibis. . .


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