Rural round-up

March 30, 2019

Farmers share tax reform fears but don’t back beneficiary bashing – Jennifer Eder:

Farmers say they are not worried about becoming the Government’s “ATMs” for beneficiary payments through tax reform, as a regional representative has claimed.

But they are anxious about proposed taxes and suspected Federated Farmers Marlborough president Phillip Neal was speaking out of frustration when he described beneficiaries as “useless”.

Neal made the comments in a newsletter earlier this month, saying a series of taxes proposed last month including a capital gains tax, emissions tax, water tax, and fertiliser tax were unfairly targeting farmers. . . 

Finding the balance between long and short term – Allan Barber:

Every business has to find an appropriate balance between long and short term planning and farming is no exception. But, given farmers are very capable of planning and implementing their annual farm strategy, the long term offers the greater challenge. Forward planning involves a high degree of risk assessment, because decisions must take into account several critical factors over which the farmer has little or no control.

Four obvious areas are government policy, climate effect, changing consumer attitudes and market access. A business can seek advice on all these from industry bodies, consultants, accountants, economists and lawyers, but in the end the buck stops with the farmer who must assess every factor which affects farm policy and performance without any certainty about the decisions being more right than wrong.  . . 

2019 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winner in the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aims to look after his people, pasture, cows and environment through sustainable best practices and increase profit through innovative business culture.

Ruwan Wijayasena was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Wigram Airforce Museum. The other major winners were Matt Redmond, who was named the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Nicola Blowey, the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Result of QEII National Trust 2019 Director elections:

Members of the QEII National Trust have elected Donna Field and Graham Mourie to serve as Directors on the QEII Board. Both candidates will serve a three-year term, effective immediately.

“We are pleased to welcome Donna Field back to the Board and Graham Mourie as a new director” said James Guild, Chairperson of QEII National Trust.

Donna Field has been re-elected to serve a second term on the Board. Her background includes resource management, director of Cleardale Station, a sheep and beef property in Rakaia Gorge and retiring chair of the Whitcombe Landcare group. . . 

Approval sought for new fungicide:

Public submissions have opened on an application to manufacture a fungicide in New Zealand for use in the control of a disease which affects wheat.

Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is seeking approval to manufacture GF-3308, for control of speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and also to suppress brown leaf rust (Puccinia triticina).

The applicant proposes that GF-3308 would be applied by ground-based and aerial broadcast spray methods. . . 

Good time to check plans for winter crops and grazing:

Winter grazing practices have improved over the past few years, but Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will continue to monitor livestock farms and their land use practices this winter.

Poor performers are now more in the minority says the Regional Council’s Central Catchment Manager, Brendan Powell.

“Many people aren’t aware that farmers are already well into their planning and operations ahead of winter, with winter crops in the ground and growing. The approach they take with their grazing management of crops and stock is an important part of good farming practices,” says Mr Powell. . . 


Rural round-up

September 3, 2017

Irrigation brings environmental improvements Greenpeace wants – Andrew Curtis:

I am sure Greenpeace felt very proud of themselves when they locked themselves inside a Central Plains Water irrigation pipe to “protest dairy intensification”.

They shouldn’t be. Quite apart from putting themselves at risk on a dangerous construction site, breaking the law and tying up police time, they were wrong on a number of counts.

The first problem with the Greenpeace protest was the idea that irrigation schemes like Central Plains Water automatically lead to more dairy intensification. This is not true. The new farms connecting to Central Plains Water are traditional mixed cropping farms. The same holds true for other new irrigation developments like the Hurunui Water Project in North Canterbury, the North Otago Irrigation Company and Hunter Downs in South Canterbury. Across the country, around 50 percent of irrigated land has other uses – growing food, raising sheep and beef cattle, and for wineries. . .

Hawke’s Bay honey company stung by theft:

A Hawke’s Bay honey company has been stung by the theft of almost 500,000 bees.

Nineteen hives of Arataki Honey were stolen from a remote forestry block in Putere, an hour and a half north of Napier, this week.

The site was hidden from the road and Arataki Honey’s field manager Duncan Johnstone said the thieves must have known where to find the bees.

It was an expensive loss for the company – each hive is valued at $700 and all up it was a $20,000 loss. . .

QE II Trust Members reappointed:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the re-appointment of two members of the Queen Elizabeth ll National Trust.

“I’m delighted Chairperson James Guild (MNZA) and Director Bruce Wills have agreed to stay on the board and continue the excellent work underway as the Trust celebrates its 40th anniversary,” Ms Barry says.

“Both men will serve another 3-year term and use their considerable skills and experience to ensure the Trust continues to win support from landowners willing to covenant their land for future generations. . .

Dairy industry set for big crash – Susan Murray:

The dairy sector faces another big price drop if the industry doesn’t continue to push for innovative ways to use dairy protein, warns KPMG.

Dairy companies need to think of themselves as protein or nutrition companies, said KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot.

He said there will be 10 or more items able to compete with traditional natural cow’s milk in a supermarket chiller.

“It’s interesting to me when I look at what’s happened in the last sort of six months – as the dairy price has gone up, the desire for change has gone down. . . 

Powering up Predator Free 2050:

National will boost Predator Free 2050 with $69.2 million of new funding over the next four years to ramp up the ambitious, world-leading pest eradication programme, Conservation Spokeswoman Maggie Barry says.

“We have been absolutely thrilled with the enthusiasm of communities up and down the country about Predator Free since it was launched one year ago,” Ms Barry says.

“National in Government will match the commitment of our volunteers, councils and philanthropists and turn this project into something that will achieve what Sir Paul Callaghan called “New Zealand’s moonshot”.” . . 

Smith welcomes sanctuary pest control work:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith is hailing today’s pest control operation in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary as a win for the survival of New Zealand’s native birds.

“The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust has fought long and hard for today’s pest control operation. It has had to go to court three times as a result of action by the Brook Valley Community Trust to try to stop it, and three times the court has backed the Sanctuary Trust,” Dr Smith says.

“The science is clear that the only way birds like kiwi, kokako, kea and kaka will survive is to effectively control the pests that have decimated their populations. I can appreciate people’s angst at killing rats, stoats and possums but every year these pests brutally kill 25 million native birds. . . 

This tiny country feeds the world – Frank Viviano:

In a potato field near the Netherlands’ border with Belgium, Dutch farmer Jacob van den Borne is seated in the cabin of an immense harvester before an instrument panel worthy of the starship Enterprise.

From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he’s monitoring two drones—a driverless tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air—that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. Van den Borne’s production numbers testify to the power of this “precision farming,” as it’s known. The global average yield of potatoes per acre is about nine tons. Van den Borne’s fields reliably produce more than 20.

That copious output is made all the more remarkable by the other side of the balance sheet: inputs. Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the rallying cry “Twice as much food using half as many resources.”  . .

#LoveLambWeek: Sheep farmers call on consumers to put lamb back on plates –

The next generation of sheep farmers has called on the next generation of shoppers to put lamb back on plates across Britain through Love Lamb Week.

Over the past 15 years, fewer people have been regularly eating the very British meat, and with those aged 55 years and over making up the lion’s share of the market, time is ticking for lamb.

This year the annual campaign runs from 1-7 September, and social media users are being urged to tweet the hashtag #LoveLambWeek . . .

 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2017

Time to give farmers their due – Dr William Rolleston:

It is election year and it seems that for the environmental groups the gloves are off.

We have seen Greenpeace run a series of fundraising ads vilifying dairy farmers and Forest and Bird pull out of the Land and Water Forum. No surprise that both these organisations are headed by ex-Green politicians. Scuttlebutt is that Forest and Bird will re-join the Land and Water Forum after the election. Greenpeace has yet again been accused of misleading the public.

The truth is that farmers are fully engaged in meeting their environmental responsibilities. Up and down the country I have seen catchment groups working to reduce their impact on water quality and address issues of water allocation. . . 

Queen’s Birthday Honours: James Guild:

James Alastair Hay Guild, of High Peak Station, Darfield, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the deer industry.

Mr Guild is a farmer and tourism operator who has been active in the deer industry for more than forty years.

Mr Guild has been a councillor and President of New Zealand Deer Farmers Association, Director of the Game Industry Board, Director of the Cervena Trust, inaugural Chair of Provelco Co-op Ltd, President of the New Zealand Association of Game Estates, and chaired the organising committee of first World Deer Congress. . .

People at the heart of decades of work for Flaxmere’s new MNZM:

Its third time lucky for the humble Peter MacGregor, who has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Maori and agriculture.

The Flaxmere resident said he felt very honoured to have received the Queens Birthday Honour.

This was not the first time Mr MacGregor had been recognised in such a way – he said he had declined the Queens Birthday honours the first time “some years ago”, and the second time the required paperwork was not completed in time. . . 

Saving seed in case :

AgResearch has deposited a collection of seeds in a remote Arctic doomsday vault to guard against the loss of plant species through war, disease or disaster striking New Zealand.

The deposit was made via an airmailed package to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure facility on the rugged Arctic Svalbard archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

It is the second delivery of its kind from AgResearch’s Margot Forde Germplasm Centre (MFGC) following an agreement established last year. . .

Socks of many colours for resthome residents – Sally Brooker:

For its 40th anniversary, the Black and Coloured Sheep Breeders’ Association of New Zealand continued its tradition of charitable works.

The association held its annual conference in Oamaru, bringing in more than 50 delegates from across the country. As well as attending meetings and competing with their coloured fleeces, sheepskins, handcrafts and photography, they made time to donate woollen goods to a local rest-home. . . .

Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor competition is back:

Rest easy, New Zealand, the Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year finalists have been found.

Fieldays staff have been scouring New Zealand and Australia in search of the eight most eligible rural bachelors, and they have finally found this year’s stock. The blokes will soon be embarking on a whirlwind week as they vie for the title of Rural Bachelor of the Year, a prize pack worth over $20,000 and a chance at finding love.

Rural Bachelor event manager Lynn Robinson said selecting the finalists was a tough job. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 11, 2017

Dairy Awards highlight immigrant commitment:

The value of new immigrants to the dairy industry was on show at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland last night.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman Andrew Hoggard says while immigration builds as an election issue, it was particularly significant that runner up to the most prestigious award were 33 year-old Filipino immigrants Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos.

The couple have worked their way up through the dairy industry and are a shining example of the significant contribution and leadership our immigrants can provide. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award. . .

Remuneration survey finds modest lift in farm employee salaries:

There has been a modest rise in farm employee salaries over the last 12 months, the 2017 Federated Farmers-Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration survey shows.

The mean salary for employees on grain farms increased by 2.3 per cent since the 2016 survey, while the mean salary increased by 1.8 per cent and 0.3 percent for employees on sheep and beef and dairy farms respectively.

The survey was completed earlier this year and collected information from 914 respondents on 2834 positions.

Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said it was positive to see farming salaries creeping upwards given the tough economic conditions experienced by farmers in recent years. . .

Sheep and beef farmers make biodiversity contribution through QE11 covenants:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are making a significant contribution to this country’s biodiversity and landscape protection, a new study on Queen Elizabeth 11 National Trust covenants has highlighted.

The study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research quantifies the financial commitment made by landowners who have protected around 180,000 ha since the Trust was established in 1977.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor said the report showed that two thirds ofQEII covenants are on primary production land, with 47% of all covenants being on sheep and beef farms. Some farms have more than one covenant and many farmers open their covenants to the community, often partnering with schools and local community groups. . .

Farmers take a lead in environment protection

Farmers’ environmental credentials have been under attack from some quarters of late but new research highlights just one way those who work the land also strive to look after it.

Federated Farmers welcomes a study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research that highlights the impact and costs of land placed under covenant via the QE II National Trust.

“Farmers have been front and centre in the activities of the QEII National Trust right from the start. We congratulate them on their 40th anniversary, and for commissioning this study,” Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says. . .

New fund launched to support QEII covenantors

A new fund to help covenantors with the management of their covenants was launched today by QEII National Trust Chair, James Guild, at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement aims to support covenantors with strategically important enhancement projects they have planned for their covenants. . .

Irrigation funding for Kurow Duntroon welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $388,000 in new development grant funding for the Kurow Duntroon Irrigation Company (KDIC) from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd.

“This grant is an important step forward for this project which could have major benefits for the North Otago region,” says Mr Guy.

The funding is required to complete the remaining work to reach construction commencement and confirm the commercial viability of the proposed scheme. . . 

New national body to represent Rural Support Trusts:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the election of a national body to represent all 14 Rural Support Trusts across the country.

“Rural Support Trusts do fantastic work supporting our rural communities in tough times, and this new central body will make them more efficient and effective,” says Mr Guy.

“It will provide single point of contact for other national organisations and the Government, and help the different regions share resources and experience.

“Rural Support Trusts operate independently in their areas, staffed by local people who really know their local communities. . .

Moving Day: need to know:

It’s a familiar date in the dairying diary, Moving Day, and here’s what herd owners need to know to meet their NAIT and TBfree requirements when moving their dairy herd to a new farm.
· Update contact details and record stock movements in NAIT
· Check the TB status and testing requirements of the destination area . . 


QEII covenantors invest millions in conservation

May 10, 2017

QEII National Trust covenanting landowners spend an estimated $25 million of their own money every year to protect native species, forests, wetlands, and other special areas.

This was the finding of a University of Waikato Institute for Business Research study.

These landowners, the majority of which are farmers, have made an overall financial commitment of around $1.1 to $1.3 billion to protect these special areas of private and leased land since the
QEII National Trust was set up forty years ago.

The study was released today at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall. The event was organised by the QEII National Trust as part of its 40th anniversary programme of events.

Working in partnership with the QEII National Trust, covenanting landowners have invested to establish over 4,300 covenants protecting around 180,000 ha since the National Trust was established in 1977. This works out at an average of two new covenants established every week since that date.

The area being protected by covenants is still growing with a further 115 on track to be registered this year alone.

It’s encouraging to see this growth after the previous Labour-led government stalled QEII covenenting.

The study was commissioned to provide a framework for estimating the cost effectiveness of conservation activity facilitated by Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, and to quantify the financial commitment made by National Trust covenantors in their covenanted land for the public good.

‘This is the first time the National Trust has undertaken research of this nature and it has given us a clear indication of the huge investment landowners around New Zealand have made in covenants since the National Trust was set up 40 years ago,’ Trust Chair James Guild says.

‘With the release of this report we acknowledge the hard work, philanthropy, generosity, and passion of the thousands of landowners who have voluntarily elected to covenant special places on their land with the National Trust.

‘Together they are making a very significant contribution towards the protection and enhancement of our threatened ecosystems and biodiversity on private land to ensure New Zealand’s uniqueness is protected forever,’ he says.

The QEII National Trust partners with private landowners wanting to permanently protect special natural and cultural features on their land with covenants. QEII (open space) covenants are legally binding agreements that are registered on the land title and protect the associated land and its natural values forever. The covenanting landowner and subsequent owners retain ownership of and management responsibilities for the protected land.

The QEII National Trust is the perpetual trustee to ensure the purpose and objectives of the covenant are achieved by monitoring the covenant and providing advice and other support to the landowner.

Analysis of data collected for the study has shown environmental gains  and substantial costs, both direct and in lost potential earnings, for land owners:

· Waterway protection (20%), restoration planting (19%), wetland restoration (18%), weed control (15%), pest control (7%) and fence maintenance (7%) are the major contributors to total maintenance costs for QEII covenants.

· The total estimated maintenance expenditure on covenants is $25 million per year and has a net present value of $387 million (calculated over 30 years). That equates to an average of just under $6,000 per covenant per year or $150 per hectare of covenanted land.

· 53% of covenanted areas would have had an alternative economic use (for example, grazing, residential development, exotic forestry) that is foreclosed by the decision of the landowner to covenant the land to protect its natural values. Grazing is the most common economic use foreclosed by the covenant, followed by housing and exotic forestry.

· The total opportunity costs (the loss of potential income from other alternative uses due to development and use restrictions) associated with the covenants that had alternative uses foreclosed is estimated to be in the range of $443 million to $638 million. That equates to approximately $105,000 per covenant or $2,657 per hectare of covenanted land (calculated over 30 years with a 5% discount rate).

The loss of potential earnings could also be reflected in a lower value for the whole property when it’s sold.

· The total estimated expenditure on covenant establishment up until June 2016 was around
$205 million. That is approximately $50,000 per covenant on average, or $1,228 per hectare of covenanted land.

· The biggest cost for landowners establishing covenants is fencing the covenanted areas to exclude livestock (30%) followed by initial weed control (18%), restoration planting (10%) and wetland restoration work (10%).

· Calculated over a 30-year period with a 5% discount rate, the annual maintenance expenditure on covenants adds up to an investment in the order of $92,000 per covenant or $ 2,300 per hectare of covenanted land.

· The estimated net present value of the total commitment by land owners across the nation in
QEII open space covenants is estimated to be in the range of $1.1b to $1.3b, or over $260,000 per covenant.

· It should be noted that despite virtually all QEII covenants running in perpetuity, the maintenance costs and revenue foregone has been estimated only over a 30 year period with a 5% discount rate.

QE II covenants are a win-win for conservation and property rights.

Landowners retain ownership of their land while preserving landscapes of aesthetic, cultural, recreational, scenic, scientifc, or social interest or value.

The full report is here or a hard copy can be requested by writing to the QEII National Trust, PO Box 3341, Wellington.


QEII Trust under pressure

February 20, 2013

The QE II National Trust which helps private landowners protect areas with high conservation values is under pressure:

About a tenth of New Zealand’s farming businesses are now protecting land under QEII covenants.

Chairman James Guild says that’s putting pressure on the limited funding which the trust has available to run the scheme and help with costs such as fencing.

He says the number of farmers and other rural landowners with sites of environmental, ecological or cultural significance already under covenant or approved, has doubled in the past 10 years to more than 4000.

Mr Guild says about 10% of farming businesses now have covenants in place which protect 120,000 hectares of land. . . .

The Trust is becoming a victim of its own success.

It has a very good name among farmers and QEII covenants are usually the preferred choice for landowners who want to protect special areas on their property without losing ownership or control.


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