Subsidies ignore science

May 29, 2019

The Carbon Zero Bill isn’t being led by science when it comes to methane:

Farmers should be able to use forests to offset methane and nitrous oxide emissions, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton says.

And he says fossil fuel emitters should not be allowed to use forest to offset their gas.

That will lead to better quality land use change.

Upton was responding to farmers’ concern the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will lead to wholesale afforestation with inevitable land use change in response to climate change.

But the shape of that land use change can be better managed by farmers working together and taking a landscape approach to establishing forests rather than blanket planting by those seeking to simply offset their emissions, Upton said.

“That’s the bit I think needs to be thought about a bit harder.” . . 

Farmers are more than concerned about this.

We’re all exhorted to follow the science on climate change but the government is going against the science in allowing fossil fuel emitters to offset their gas with forests.

It’s doubling the damage by not allowing farmers to offset methane emissions with trees.

It’s also going against the Paris Accord which said emissions mitigation shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

The sale of productive farmland for forestry is already having a negative impact or rural communities:

Subsidies for forestry are distorting the market for farmland, killing jobs and the science says it won’t work to offset fossil fuel emissions.

Politics, bureaucracy and emotion trump science and facts again and farmers and rural communities will pay the cost.


Rural round-up

December 10, 2018

Farmers are up to the challenge of meeting climate change targets – William Rolleston:

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its special report on the actions needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  This, it said, would require “transformative systemic change” involving “far-reaching, multilevel and cross-sectorial mitigation”.

The report says limiting warming to 1.5C implies reaching net zero CO₂ emissions globally by around 2050 and “deep reductions” in short-lived gases such as methane.

The report recognises that, as a long-lived gas, CO₂ accumulates in the atmosphere, whereas methane from agriculture (while a strong greenhouse gas) is recycled through the system. . . 

Farmers act on sustainability:

Taihape farmers are exploring ways to ensure environmental sustainability while improving the profits from their sheep and beef farms.

The Taihape Action Group formed under the Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network, which had its first get-together in July, comprises nine farming businesses within a 50km radius of the central North Island town.

It is at an early stage of the profit-growing process. 

The farmers involved are developing individual action plans that set out the on-farm changes they want to make. . . 

The power of a farmer’s story – Jennie Schmidt:

Christmas is a season for stories. We tell tales about the Nativity and the three kings. We also laugh about the time when Uncle Klaus wore the awful sweater to the family dinner.

Stories are the most powerful form of communication available to us. That’s why the four most compelling words in the English language may be: “Once upon a time.”

Farmers don’t always appreciate this fact, especially when we’re discussing our own business of agriculture. We’re inclined to mention inputs and outputs, moisture levels, yields, commodity prices, and more. You know: farmer talk. 

The challenge increases when our conversations turn to technology, and especially when they involve new technologies, including GMO crops, gene editing, and so on. At this point, our rhetoric can sound like boring passages from science textbooks. They’re about as interesting as the homework that none of us miss from our school days. . . 

Waikato farmers acting early on effluent management:

We talk to three Waikato farmers involved in our Dairy Environment Leaders programme, about how they’re managing effluent on their farms.

Ian Taylor, Puketaha

When constructing a new effluent pond, Ian set his sights firmly on the future, by choosing a system that far exceeded minimum standards.

He’d been planning an effluent pond for a while, but was waiting on results from a project investigating how effluent runs through peat soil. However, a very wet spring last year prompted him to act earlier than expected. . . 

Smith keen to work with farmers – Annette Scott:

New primary industries director-general Ray Smith is a self-acclaimed passionate Kiwi who wants his fifth generation New Zealand children to experience a bit of the NZ he grew up with. He talked to Annette Scott on a visit to meet farmers in Ashburton.

Just three weeks into his new job as primary industries director-general Ray Smith was hungry for information and couldn’t get his teeth into his new patch soon enough.

He heard about a meeting being facilitated by Federated Farmers in Ashburton for farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and made a call to ask if he could invite himself. . . 

China remains the key to dairy prices – Mark Daniel:

China remains the key to where the global marketplace is heading in dairy prices, says Westpac economist Anne Boniface.

Speaking at a recent Owl Farm focus day at St Peters School, Cambridge, Boniface said China’s growth had slipped from 6.9% to 6.3% in the past 12 months.

However, she believes Chinese consumer spending is still strong, with any economic slowdown due to a squeeze on credit for larger capital projects. . . 

How precision agriculture can transform the agritech sector and improve the lot of every Indian farmer – Shruti Kedia:

Using big data, satellite imaging and Internet of Things, Precision Agriculture can help address low productivity, lack of farm mechanisation, access to markets, and increase crop yields.

In 1965, India’s green revolution led to a sharp increase in crop yields and farmers’ income. Decades later, could a tech revolution change the way this agrarian country farms?

The answer is, yes it can. In fact, it already is. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2018

Irrigators should spread good news – Pam Jones:

Responsible irrigators need to spread the word about good work being done in the primary sector, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan says.

Mr Cadogan, who spoke at the opening of the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Alexandra yesterday, said the primary and irrigation sectors were “under pressure” from the public to act responsibly, but did not court publicity and the public therefore sometimes did not know about their positive actions.

Irrigators should not be afraid to “tell the good news”, Mr Cadogan said.

He said it was important for the public to realise there was no direct line between irrigation and degradation of land and water quality, and there was sometimes a disconnect between town and country. . . 

Smarter data push for irrigation – Tom Kitchin:

Data can make irrigation more efficient, Animation Research Ltd owner Ian Taylor told the third and final day of a national body conference yesterday.

Mr Taylor made the point at the 2018 Irrigation New Zealand Conference and Expo in Alexandra yesterday.

“Water is one of the most valuable resources. How can [farmers] manage it more efficiently and how are they held accountable for ways to manage it? Technology has the tools that will allow us to do that,” he said. . . 

Unlisted celebrates first $1 bln issue as Zespri resumes trading after 2018 Gold3 tender – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s shares rose to a record when they resumed trading, after being halted for the 2018 allocation of Gold3 kiwifruit licences, pushing the kiwifruit exporter’s market capitalisation to $1.1 billion and making it the first $1 billion company on the Unlisted platform.

Some 16,860 Zespri shares traded today, of which 2,440 changes hands at a record $8.35. The shares first traded at $1.75 after Zespri listed on the Unlisted Securities Exchange in February 2016. . . 

Arden-Peters raid on regionans ramps up:

The Government’s raid on regional New Zealand is ramping up, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor telling farmers they’ll be taxed thousands for carbon emissions, National’s Nathan Guy and Todd Muller say.

“Mr O’Connor has reportedly told East Coast farmers they’ll be taxed around $5000 to offset their carbon emissions,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“He’s pulling numbers out of the air before the interim Climate Change Committee even begins its work. . . 

Let’s protect our valuable soils, Horticulture New Zealand:

The need to protect New Zealand’s best soils for growing healthy fresh fruit and vegetables is clear in the Our land 2018 report released today, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“This report highlights the expansion in urban areas (a 10 percent increase between 1996 and 2012) and the accompanying loss of some of our most versatile land.

“We have been talking to Government about this issue in Pukekohe, near Auckland, as well as other prime growing areas for fruit and vegetables. Some of this soil is unique, particularly the volcanic soils around Pukekohe where vegetables can be grown all year in a frost free environment. This area feeds a lot of New Zealand. . . 

Te Rapa celebrates 50 years:

For over half a century Te Rapa has been a place of work, a producer of world class dairy, a supportive community and, for some, it has even been home.  

Te Rapa’s official opening on April 20, 1968, was a milestone which represented the confidence the New Zealand Co-Operative Dairy Company (now Fonterra) had in the productive Waikato, it’s dairy farming community and its role in the national economy.

“We had a real sense of community living in that village. There was a swimming pool, tennis courts, a rugby field and always plenty to do when you weren’t working. We had inter-factory rugby and netball competitions in the off season.”  Brian Whittington remembers when the site was being built and moving into the small village on site where 35 key staff members were housed. . . 


Stand up on own feet

August 5, 2013

The Otago Daily Times devoted the front page of Saturday’s paper to a campaign Stand Up Otago with its editorial saying its time for the South to fight:

Today, the ODT is calling on the people of the South to try to save jobs and services that are shifting out of regional New Zealand – and in many cases being transferred to two main centres.

We believe it is time residents of the South stood up and made a statement to the Government and others that stripping jobs out of the regional economies of New Zealand is not in the country’s best interests.

The paper has been covering growing concern over job losses in Dunedin and its hinterland and the last straw has been the announcement AgResearch is to cut 85 jobs from Invermay.

The concern is understandable but the ODT is aiming at the wrong target.

The Invermay decision was AgResearch’s, not the government’s and looking to the government for jobs in the city is short-term thinking.

The government does fund plenty of jobs in Dunedin through the university and hospital but iIf governments give they can also take away.

The city and province should be looking to the private sector not the government for long-term sustainable businesses and jobs.

There is a very good example of this in the same edition of the ODT in an interview with Tony Allison, CEO of Night ‘n’ Day Foodstore Ltd.

The company was ranked fourth in the country in the Deloitte Fast 50 companies last year, with 952% growth. It was also Otago’s fastest-growing retail or consumer products business. Its CEO was winner of this year’s Otago Southland branch of the Institute of Directors’ aspiring director award.

The interview concludes:

. . .Mr Allison could not understand why more companies were not based in Dunedin, saying there were ”really smart people” in the city, along with the resources and infrastructure.

The city, and province, have lots going for them including good people, good infrastructure, good services and relatively inexpensive real estate.

There are plenty of examples of people running successful international businesses in Otago, including Ian Taylor who is calling for the formation of a  political party to be the voice of the south.

Mr Taylor told the ODT public dissatisfaction meant any new party could snap up seats in Dunedin, Southland and Waitaki and ”bowl in” to Parliament.

Once there, it could be a voice for regional development in the corridors of power.

”Now is the time to take our future in our own hands and do something about it … [to] come together and force the politicians to take notice. No-one else will.

”It is up to us to stand up and be counted and the best way to do that is from the inside,” he said.

He is a very good businessman but doesn’t know much about politics.

A south of the south party would have even less chance of success than a South Island one. This has been attempted but never made traction for very good reasons among which is that there aren’t enough people to make a big enough difference.

Sustainable development and growth in the south won’t come from the government directing agencies to locate down here.

It will come from policies which enable businesses to prosper and grow.

The south should be advocating for these policies at local, regional and national levels.

The south won’t be strong if it’s beholden to government. It’s strength will come from standing on its own feet.

The paper has a role to play here by highlighting, as it often does, the good news stories about successful businesses and business people.

They’re the ones who depend not on governments but their own ability and hard work.

The south does need to stand up – but on its own feet, not leaning on the government.


Citizens stepping forward – updated

December 31, 2011

Artist Ralph Hotere has been appointed to the Order of New Zealand, the country’s top honour.

“I am very pleased to accept this honour and I was particularly moved by the letter that I received from the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Mr John Key.   

 “He spoke of our nation . . . relying on citizens from all walks of life stepping forward, helping others, seeking new ways of doing things, and reaching for their dreams. He also spoke of enriching the lives of others. I am deeply moved,”  Hotere said.  

That captures exactly what the honours are for, recognising the people who step forward.

One of those is Malcolm Farry who has been awarded a Companion of the Order of Merit for his work as chair of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust and many years of service in other areas including chair of the fundraising committee for the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and:

. . . his decade as chairman of the Otago Youth Wellness Trust, from 1996 to 2006. The trust is a free, community-based service that supports 11- to 18-year-olds      with social workers, mentoring, educational support and health services liaison and information.   

The “wrap-around” service was one of the first to achieve a “high-trust” contract with the Government, heralding a new way of working with the community sector. 

Max Smith has been awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rowing.

Smith, of Waipara, North Canterbury, was Ministry of Works project manager in Twizel, and pushed to retain the Mackenzie Country town and created Lake Ruataniwha at the completion of the Upper Waitaki power scheme.

It is not just tthe sport, but the town which owes so much to him. Twizel might well have died had it not been for Lake Ruataniwha.

Ian Taylor will be  a Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to business and television.

Among others in the list announced today were:

Dr Ralph Allen, who led the work to establish the Orokonui Ecosanctuary has been awarded a Queens Service Medal for services to conservation, and Struan Munro who earned his QSM for service to local body affairs and the community.

Struan was a long-serving Waitaki District Councillor and has given years of service in community activities and farming in the Waitaki Valley.

Graham Henry has been knighted not just for coaching the All blacks to World Cup victory but for his contribution to the sport over many years.

Suzie Moncrieff, who founded World of Wearable Art, and business woman Rosanne Meo will be Dames.

UPDATE:

The full list is here.


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