Rural round-up

02/05/2021

Lack of skill costs contractors – Gerald Piddock:

Inexperienced Kiwi farm machinery operators are costing the industry stress, accidents and insurance claims, a new survey of Rural Contractor NZ (RCNZ) members has revealed.

While the industry will continue to train and recruit more New Zealand staff to meet demand, it was fortunate there had been no serious accidents this season, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

Many rural contractors were only barely able to meet farmer demand this season by working unacceptably long hours in machinery, as well as trying to supervise inexperienced staff.

“We appear to have been extremely lucky that there have not been any serious accidents, but health and safety cannot rely on luck,” Parton said. . . 

Why we should care more about wool – Nadia Lim:

 I find it intriguing that, in a world where we are so keen on being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, the industry for one of the most sustainable, durable and biodegradable materials is in dire straits, and at an all-time low.

I’m talking about wool. Strong wool – produced by the majority of New Zealand sheep breeds – can be used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation, not to mention furniture, bedding, weed mat, fertiliser and more. It has a higher micron count than merino wool, so it is thicker and stronger; merino is finer and softer, which is why it’s ideal for clothes worn close to the skin.

We run about 2000 Perendale ewes on our mixed cropping and sheep farm in Central Otago. We reduced the stock numbers significantly when we came here, to give the land a rest but also because there is so little demand for wool these days.

That’s the sad, and ironic, thing. There’s so little demand for wool that we literally have tonnes of it sitting in our shed in bales. It must be an education and awareness thing, because if everyone was actually serious about wanting to be more sustainable, do you think as many of us would be wearing (synthetic, petroleum-based) acrylic jumpers and polar fleece, or that we’d put synthetic insulation and carpets in our homes? . . 

Forage may unlock low gas options – Richard Rennie:

Leafy turnips and winter forage rape crops may yet provide a means for farmers to ensure their livestock emit less methane, without compromising productivity.

AgResearch forage scientist Arjan Jonker acknowledges finding lower methane-emitting feeds is one of agriculture’s “wicked problems”, but says the AgResearch team is well-advanced in understanding what feeds can produce less ruminant methane.

AgResearch forage scientists are working alongside their livestock research colleagues on potential pasture types that may play a key role in helping the sector lower its methane emissions.

With both crops comprising most of the sheep’s diet, the researchers have achieved methane emission reductions of 20-30%. . .

Geoff Ross on New Zealand’s first certified carbon positive farm :

If farmers want to increase profits they need to “look beyond the gate” at the big picture, Geoff Ross says.

Ross and his wife Justine run Lake Hawea Station, the first farm in New Zealand to have its carbon footprint certified.

The Rosses used certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, which found that the 6500-hectare station was actually carbon positive.

This was a “big deal” for Lake Hawea Station, and for its offshore customers, Ross told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

What lessons can we learn from European glyphosate review? – Mark Ross:

The prospect of a ban on glyphosate is placing enormous pressure on European farmers and Kiwis should be taking notice, Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says.

Glyphosate use in Europe has resulted in reassessments, reviews and bans in some countries, causing a backlash by farmers.

The controversial herbicide is touted by New Zealand Professor of Toxicology Ian Shaw as a victim of its own success.

It’s successful because it is the most widely used herbicide in the world, it is versatile, and its use can benefit the environment. . . 

 

Summerfruit industry looking forward to growing strong conference in Hawkes Bay:

Summerfruit NZ has just opened registration for the Growing strong – Success in a changing world conference. The industry event is being held at various venues in Hawke’s Bay, including the War Memorial Centre in Napier, where trade exhibits will be on display and speaker presentations will be made.

The Growing strong theme indicates an industry that has experienced tough times but has come through 2020-21 and is ready to reflect, build resilience and celebrate the end of a season like no other.

‘Unfortunately, last year’s conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,’ says Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom. ‘Growers and other members of the summerfruit industry are really looking forward to meeting with friends and colleagues they may not have seen for well over a year. . . 


Rural round-up

26/04/2021

Political expediency – Rural News editorial:

Moves by the Government to end New Zealand’s live export trade is more about politics than ethics.

Sure, it argues that the trade “does not uphold New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare” and that it does not fit with the country’s “social conscience”. But that is just – to coin a phrase used by Gulf War veteran General Norman Schwarzkopf – bovine scatology. These claims do not marry with the actual facts. The reality is that the Government is shutting down a legitimate $500 million trade because it polls well to ban it.

The screaming skulls from the likes of SAFE, Greenpeace and other so-called animal activist groups have got in the Government’s ear and won them over by feeding constant, unchallenged misinformation about the live export trade to the public.

David Hayman, spokesman for the Animal Genetics Trade Association, is right on the money when he describes the Government’s decision as one that is aiming for short-term political kudos. . . 

Meat plant delays – Neal Wallace:

Container shortages and shipping issues are forcing some meat plants to work shorter weeks, as companies grapple with the largest prime beef kill in over 30 years.

Alliance Group has on occasion reduced operating hours at its Smithfield and Pukeuri plants in the South Island and Silver Fern Farms (SFF) has on three instances reduced processing capacity at one of its plants as they manage logistical issues.

The shipping logistic problem affects all species, but coincides with a record prime beef kill.

AgriHQ analysts report 637,700 prime steers and heifers have been killed in the year to March 27, 92,000, or 17%, more than the previous record kill, which was last year. . . 

Otago Action Group keen to carry on :

The Otago-based Bruce District Action Group is transitioning to a self-funded group now that the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) has ended. The group wants to ensure its members can continue to build on the gains they have made.

Group facilitator, Abacus Bio farm consultant Simon Glennie, said the seven group members had originally been part of a farmer discussion group, before switching to become and RMPP Action Group with a business focus.

“This group had already been working together so had a lot of confidence and trust,” he says.

The group undertook the RMPP Taking Ownership of Your Financials programme with farm accountant Lawrence Field early on. . . 

Harvest begins at New Zealand’s biggest cannabis crop

Tens of thousands of cannabis plants are being picked over the coming weeks, as harvest begins at New Zealand’s largest commercial medical cannabis crop.

It’s all happening on Winterhome farm, on the coast of Kēkerengū north of Kaikōura.

The Macfarlane family have farmed Winterhome for five generations, and sons Sank and Winston returned home to convert part of it into a 10 hectare cannabis crop.

“It’s exciting to be part of,” Sank Macfarlane told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

Honest Wolf – accessories from the Turakina Valley – Country Life:

Sophie and Sam Hurley are turning some of their wool clip into bags, caps, wallets and laptop sleeves. They’ve been in business less than a year but orders are flying out the door – or rather rumbling down their gravel road towards their destinations.

Some days Sophie Hurley writes 30 hand-written notes to customers. Among other things, she always expresses her gratitude for their support of the wool industry.  

Less than a year ago Sophie and her husband Sam Hurley launched Honest Wolf – a line of accessories made from wool from the family farm, Papanui Estate.

The couple were spurred into action by the pitiful returns from wool. . . 

Nicola Sturgeon urged not to sacrifice gamekeeper livelihoods in pursuit of Greens’ policy support – Claire Taylor:

AN OPEN letter has been sent to Scotland’s First Minister, highlighting concerns that the Scottish Green Party’s election proposals could ‘destroy a significant part of Scotland’s cultural heritage’.

Behind the letter are the 5300 members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who believe their livelihoods and that of their families could be under threat, if the next government were to call an end to all game management and angling in Scotland – as proposed by the Greens.

The SGA claim that not only will such a move place thousands of rural workers on the dole, impacting on their wellbeing and the future prospects of their family, but would impose ‘crippling burdens’ on the public purse.

The letter urges Nicola Sturgeon not to bargain with the livelihoods of rural workers, in order to gain the Greens support over future policies. . .


Rural round-up

06/02/2021

Climate change: farmers should remain calm – Todd Muller:

National’s trade spokesman Todd Muller has advice for Kiwi farmers who may be concerned by the Climate Change report – remain calm.

“I think farmers in New Zealand should take a deep breath,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

The draft advice, released yesterday by the Climate Change Commission, said New Zealand would need to cut livestock numbers by around 15 per cent, halt conventional car imports, decarbonise the energy sector and move Kiwis into electric vehicles – all within 14 years.

In order to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets, the report also suggested an end to coal heating and more forestry. . . 

Climate change report: Focus on tourism not farming – Jim Hopkins:

If the government was serious about climate change it would curb tourism rather than agriculture, rural commentator Jim Hopkins says.

“They would say tourism’s off the table. Not for 12 months, but for 12 years – or longer – until the planet’s cooled down and we’re all happy again,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Last week research showed that New Zealand dairy was the most emissions efficient in the world, something that the government should be promoting, rather than trying to reduce, Hopkins said.

He also disagreed with the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on New Zealand cutting livestock numbers by 15 per cent to reach its ambitious greenhouse gas targets. . . 

Why open farm days matter – Daniel Eb:

Tell our story. That’s a line we hear a lot in farming these days. It’s supposed to be the way that rural New Zealand reconnects with urban Kiwis. How we bridge the divide. But as a marketing guy, I’m not so sure.

Farmer’s stories are everywhere. This very paper is full of them, Country Calendar’s ratings are unbeatable and the NZ Farming Facebook page is one of the country’s largest.

But it’s not enough.

To genuinely connect with people, to make the things that are important to you important to them, farmer storytelling needs to go offline. Videos, news articles and social media play an important role, but they can’t change behaviour alone. . . 

Ngāti Kahungunu joins Ngāi Tahu freshwater court action:

Two powerful iwi, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu, both of the Tākitimu waka, have joined forces in legal proceedings against the Crown.

Ngāti Kahungunu, the country’s third largest iwi, is working with Ngāi Tahu to have the tribe’s rangatiratanga over freshwater recognised, including the Mohaka River in Hawke’s Bay.

Ngāti Kahungunu, like Ngāi Tahu, has seen the traditional waterways and water bodies in its rohe degraded over time through government inaction, overallocation, and lack of environmental protections, including the 2016 Havelock North waterborne disease outbreak. . . 

Sustainably produced beef patties to become new normal:

It’s possible to produce a beef patty sustainably across the supply chain in New Zealand, a year-long trial has shown.

Key players in the red meat industry partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund to develop a model for producing independently verified sustainable beef through the entire supply chain. The project aimed to help meet the growing demand for ethically sourced and sustainable products.

“The project showed that New Zealand can do this, and the model can be scaled up – so this really is an encouraging milestone,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director Investment Programmes. “It provides transparency to customers and the public in a way that hasn’t been possible before.” . . 

DIY shearing seen by some farmers as a quick-fix to shortage – Chris McLennan:

A move by some farmers to cut through the shearer shortage by doing the work themselves has been described as a Band-Aid.

Shearing equipment suppliers from around the country are fielding increased calls from woolgrowers chasing gear with electric handpieces, cutters and combs the popular pick.

Industry leaders say the move is unsurprising given the shortage of shearers, chiefly caused by the loss of New Zealand shearers through the pandemic.

But those same leaders say the pandemic has exposed the industry’s shortcomings. . . 


Rural round-up

20/12/2020

Why banning RSE workers here won’t improve wages for local agricultural workers – Eric Crampton:

They thought banning migrant farm labour would boost wages for native-born farm workers. They were wrong. And New Zealand may be getting ready to repeat their mistake.

On December 31, 1964, the United States ended the bracero agreements between the US and Mexico, after two years of tightened restrictions. The agreements, which began in 1942, regulated the movement of lower-skilled migrant labour – particularly for seasonal agricultural work. By the early 1960s, about half a million Mexican farm workers migrated to American farms for seasonal agricultural work on contracts lasting from six weeks to six months.

The Kennedy administration believed that the bracero agreements reduced American farm labour wages. It also did not help that the senior commissioner in the Department of Labour investigation of the bracero programme was a eugenicist who believed Mexicans were genetically inferior. . .

How $2 a punnet of strawberries is bad for kiwi growers

A punnet of strawberries for $2 at the supermarket may be a bargain for consumers, but it’s “particularly painful” for Kiwi growers, Michael Ahern says.

“Growers are not happy at all, in fact some of them are opening up their gardens to pick-your-own early to find some way to gain recovery by keeping costs down,” Ahern, who is executive manager for Strawberry Growers New Zealand, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“That’s not the way they want to do it – but they’re professional growers and they want normal, orthodox channels to market on a weekly basis.”

“They’re big boys and girls and they can suck it up to a certain extent – but this one is particularly painful.” . .

Agility key to Alliance success board chair says – Louise Steyl:

Agility is Alliance Group’s biggest strength as it battles trade issues around the world, board chairman Murray Taggart says.

Apart from the obvious impacts of Covid-19, issues like Great Britain exiting the European Union posed potential export risks, he said.

“Trade relationships always wax and wane.”

But the Chinese market remained the meat processing co-operative’s most important market. . .

A gut feeling backed by science – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Sheep breeding has become a science, and with technology and stock management, these three elements have combined in the sheep breeder of today.

For South Otago farmer Garth Shaw, it began with the Coopworth, the result of crossing the Romney and Border Leicester, developed at Lincoln College as a dual-purpose breed in 1950.

The Shaws began farming at Wharetoa, which means strong house in Maori, near Clydevale in 1966. They started breeding Coopworth rams in 1975.

“We have always run a commercial flock alongside our stud flock and have used the commercial flock to benchmark as new breeds and markets become available and also to test our genetic progress within a commercial setting,” Mr Shaw said. . . 

Shift from town to country rewarding:

Nicky Tily works with up to 4000 pigs — and loves every minute of it.

Ms Tily (23), who grew up in urban Christchurch and worked in the food service sector, is now a junior stockperson.

“Pigs are so intelligent. I enjoy everything about the job.”

She had always liked the idea of working with animals or on a farm and considered a career in vet nursing. However, having completed a six-month course, gaining a National Certificate in Animal Husbandry, she decided against vet nursing.

Her first job in the farming sector was with Mapua stud at Southbridge, which included a sheep stud, dairy grazing, cropping and a 120 sow outdoor piggery. She enjoyed all of the work, but particularly working with the pigs. . . 

Picking a poinsettia – Heather Barnes:

Poinsettias may traditionally be red, but as I learned on a recent visit to Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, these holiday decorating staples come in many colors.

Unlike many flowering shrubs (yes, poinsettia is a shrub), their color doesn’t come from the flowers.  The colorful part is a bract, or modified leaf.  

I have a cat who loves to eat plants, so I’ve never bought poinsettias because I thought they were poisonous.  I thought wrong. The American Veterianary Medical Assocaition says they can cause a skin irriation but rates them a lower risk than other holiday plants. While people shouldn’t eat them either, Poison Control says the plant “can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten.”  The sap can cause a skin rash on people wo are allergic to latex, since both have some of the same proteins. . .

 


Rural round-up

10/11/2020

RSE worker shortage ahead of cherry harvest – Neal Wallace:

The new season cherry harvest begins in Marlborough in three weeks and growers are still none the wiser whether they will have sufficient pickers.

Labour prospects are even more clouded when the main summerfruit picking season starts in January, requiring 7000 people at its peak.

The costs of leaving fruit on the trees is substantial, warns Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer.

Harvesting of the country’s main export cherry crop in Central Otago starts in mid-December and he says if 30% is left unharvested that represents a loss of more than $20 million in export revenue. . . 

Fields of courgettes go to waste because growers can’t get workers – David Fisher:

Brett Heap is surrounded by food gone to waste – rows of courgettes he couldn’t get picked because his expert and specialised workforce can’t get into the country.

His story is a peek behind the curtains of a looming disaster everyone saw coming and – it appears – no one knows how to solve.

New Zealand is heading into peak harvest season and there aren’t enough workers to get fruit off trees or vegetables from the ground.

“This could be my last crop,” says Heap, who grows courgettes near Waipapa in Northland. “I’m at the point where I’m not going through it again. . . 

Why this nutritionist says we should eat more red meat :

Independent nutritionist Mikki Williden says Kiwis shouldn’t be afraid of eating red meat.

Recently the Heart Foundation suggested people should consume less than 350g of unprocessed red meat a week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

This amount was “super low”, Williden told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“It would be a rare case where I would encourage people to have less than 160 grams cooked which might equate to about 200 grams raw – and then across the course of the week – that is well in excess of what the Heart Foundation is recommending.” . . 

 

Beef + Lamb NZ announces 2021 Ambassador Chefs and new ‘Young Chef’ award:

For twenty-five years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has been shaping the careers of chefs around the country. Each year the Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef programme selects those who are creating and serving incredible beef and lamb dishes in their restaurants. These chefs drive innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector.

With the challenges that Covid-19 has brought this year, Beef + Lamb New Zealand will be carrying over their four current Ambassador Chefs – Tejas Nikam, Paddock to Plate Waikato; Phil Clark, Phil’s Kitchen; Jack Crosti, Mela and Norka Mella Munoz, Mangapapa Hotel into 2021.

In addition to this, and to celebrate 25 years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are offering a one-off opportunity for a young emerging chef to be named as the Beef + Lamb Young Ambassador Chef 2021. . . 

The secret – shear determination – David Hill:

Peter Casserly has hung up his blades after adding his name to another world record.

The 72-year-old master blade shearer came out of retirement earlier this year to compete in the 60th Golden Shears in Masterton, before being invited to shear a special sheep at the Poverty Bay A&P Show last month for charity. And it was the charity aspect that appealed to him.

“I don’t think you ever retire, it’s like riding a bike. Somebody’s always got a pet to shear or a couple of sheep on their lifestyle block to be shorn. You just fade away in the finish,” Mr Casserly said.

“At the end of the day the anxiety and the tension of it all is getting too much. . . 

LIC enabling agricultural improvements in Ethiopia:

LIC is enabling agricultural improvements in a country more renowned for coffee than cows with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ethiopia has around 60 million cattle, one of the largest bovine populations in Africa. Its combined herd produces about 90% of the country’s milk with additional supply coming from camels, goats and sheep. With a population of more than 110 million people, Ethiopia has a growing demand for animal products including dairy, meat and hides but this is currently limited by a lack of decision making tools and the ability to provide insights from the livestock sector.

The collaborative initiative, Project aLIVE (A Livestock Information Vision for Ethiopia), is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aims to provide timely insights intended to increase production on farms in Ethiopia and decision making at a government level. . .

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched – Joe Stanley:

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched if we are to protect our farming industry, says Leicestershire arable and beef farmer Joe Stanley.

So, in the end, Government blinked.

It wasn’t a very big blink, it must be said. Blink, indeed, and you might have missed it.

But, nevertheless, at the eleventh hour (plus fifty-nine minutes and fifty nine seconds), Ministers finally conceded – mere days before the final Commons vote on the Agriculture Bill – to placing the Trade and Agriculture Committee (TAC) on a statutory footing, giving it a formal role in advising Parliament on every future trade deal and its repercussions for British food and farming. . . 


Sink or swim

08/10/2020

Derek Daniel, a Wairarapa farmer, put a brochure headed Sink or Swim? in the latest issue of NZ Farmers Weekly.

It is also on his website and says:

Where is the New Zealand economy headed?

Over the past few years food producers in New Zealand have been subjected to a relentless smear campaign by lobby groups, media and the government. The general public has been brainwashed to think that our food production needs radical change. This Blame Game has focused on GHG emissions, water quality, and biodiversity. It’s time to put the record straight.

Over half of this country is in trees, mountains, natural cover. ALL farming is 39% of total land area. A projection of current trends is shown in the graph on page 3. How is New Zealand going to earn a high standard of living? What happened to “the Switzerland of the Pacific”? Is Auckland really the powerhouse of the economy? How would Auckland get on as a separate nation like Singapore? 

Contradictions, double standards, symbolic gestures 
“The Environment” has become a religion for some people. Lobby groups get their funding by creating anxiety. The Green Party gets most of its votes from wealthy electorates, so the rich, who tend to have the most GHG emissions from driving and flying, can appease their consciences.

New Zealand has clean water
Google lists New Zealand as one of seven nations with the cleanest water in the world. What’s the prize for being cleaner than that? There is an annual swimming race in the Waikato river through Hamilton, though the race stops short of the sewer outlet. Auckland beaches are swimmable some of the time. How many rivers in New Zealand are not swimmable? There are problems with E. coli sometimes, but that is usually because of birds.

Ten thousand flamingos… a beautiful sight but, you wouldn’t want to swim there.
Double standards apply: cities escape severe fines for breaches of sewage and stormwater regulations, but food producers get hammered.

Rivers aren’t fenced in Africa

Another contradiction in the official line is “that sediment is bad”.
But where did human civilisations set up? Today there is huge angst in Vietnam about the Chinese building more dams on the headwaters of the Mekong river, because the annual floods bring new soil to farmers in Vietnam, renewed fertility.
Nutrient: there is huge pressure to keep animals out of waterways here, yet the same people enjoy watching large animals in Africa playing in rivers and lakes. Three tonne hippos live in the water. Strangely enough, Africa has 22 times the number of freshwater fish species than New Zealand, 1,279 versus 58. Nutrient feeds life. Other countries fly fertiliser onto lakes to feed plant life to grow bigger fish.


Do “greenies” understand the big picture? Big animals live in African rivers and there are 1279 species of freshwater fish, compared to 58 in New Zealand’s barren rivers, where the water is too clean. 
Native fish in New Zealand thrive in unfenced pools in well developed farmland, where “piranha like” brown trout are not present, and more nutrients are in the water (PhD research paper).
And Australian police have detained more than two hundred people who have deliberately lit fires… but global warming gets blamed.

Biodiversity

New Zealand always had poor biodiversity

At their peak, livestock were grazed over 60% of New Zealand’s land area. That’s down to 37% now. Large areas have reverted to scrub and native bush, and many hectares have been retired by DOC or donated by food producers as QE2 covenants. Some species of native birds have grown in numbers, and some species have self introduced.

Why taxing methane is theft

    • It is unjust. It fails to recognise the natural carbon cycle.
    • It is unscientific. The method of assessing the levels of methane from ruminants is flawed.
    • It is unfair. The assumptions are based on figures that are officially + or – 50%.
    • It is unlawful. The Paris Agreement said to exclude food production.
    • It is economic madness. Why leg-rope the sector leading the recovery?

The Paris Accord has a goal of stabilising GHG emissions in a way that does not reduce food production. New Zealand agriculture has complied with those requirements since 1990. New Zealand is squandering its land resource, with no planning around food security for a population which is increasing by two percent per year.

Reinventing New Zealand?

With the odd exception, New Zealand is now led by people who have never been hungry, never fought in a war, and never run a business. Will we have the discipline, as our forefathers did, to rebuild at an affordable cost?

Reality check

The current government is engaged in granting an extra holiday, and five more days of sick leave. “Let’s stop moving”… Meanwhile, new immigrants are fast taking over ownership of the best cashflow businesses, because they work hard, and avoid employment and overtime costs by working within the family. Politicians pander to the bottom 20% of society while imposing more and more cost on businesses. How is New Zealand going to compete on the world stage?

Just like animal feedlots, the feed is trucked in and the waste piped out. New Zealand earns its living from the land, not from the cities.

NZ’s productivity crisis

    • The internal cost structure to build houses and roads is well above what our export sector can afford.
    • Endless environmental reports. What % of NZ’s 94,000km of roads are an “environmental disaster”?
    • 15 years to action an irrigation scheme while costs double and triple.
    • Every extra bureaucrat has to justify his/her existence. The regulators are breeding.
    • Symbolic gesture: banning exploration for oil and gas will lead to more imported energy.
    • Economy held together by productivity increase in the agricultural sector.
    • You will pay indirectly for the carbon credits paid to rich people who plant trees. One estimate is $7,000 per household.

Solutions

    • The planet is overstocked with people, the root of all our problems? Cap New Zealand’s population at 5 million.
    • New Zealand’s Paris Accord targets: remove ruminant emissions. Remove the government guarantee of carbon credit payments for planting trees.
    • Continue oil and gas exploration, target self- sufficiency.
    • Impose a significant entry charge on tourists. Increase foreign visitor charges for all tax payer created facilities, e.g. Aotearoa trail. It works in Bhutan.
    • New Zealand agriculture is more regenerative of soil fertility than most countries in the world.
    •  Don’t handicap food production with stupid regulations.

Written by Derek Daniell, farmer in the Wairarapa. “It’s a huge worry to witness the kneejerk, political response to the Paris Accord… blame the animals? There is so much muddled thinking for the short term, not for a sustainable New Zealand.”

Get a copy of this document:  Feel free to download and share this document.Download and Share

Peter Williams interviewed Derek on Magic Talk: (35:07).

Jamie Mackay interviewed Derek on The Country in which he made some additional points:

. . . The ETA is and earnest attempt to align New Zealand’s GHG emissions with the Paris Accord. But subsidising tree growing is not changing behaviour around the use of fossil fuels.

Consider the actions of much richer countries: Norway has not stopped exploration for oil and gas; Singapore has not reduced air traffic through Changi airport, or shipping through its port.

New Zealand is naive to think that it can be a world leader in reducing man made climate change. Shooting yourself in the foot hurts.

Trees are good?

A thirty year crop is a big risk. Log values over the past thirty years have been low more often than high.

Eighty per cent of our export logs currently go to China, where almost all of them are milled for boxing around concrete, used, then burnt. So much for capturing carbon – it’s a farce!

Is logging sustainable seventeen times in five hundred years?

Pine trees have damaging effects on soils, streams, aquatic life, and inshore fisheries – and logging trash ruins beaches.

It is a very expensive process to reinstate food productions on logged-over areas.

You can’t eat wood. . . 

Derek is articulating what many, perhaps most, farmers And growers are thinking.

Agriculture and horticulture kept going through the lockdown, producing food for the local market and earning much-needed export income from international ones.

We cannot possibly get through the Covid-induced economic crisis by handicapping primary production with environmental restraints that ignore, and in some instances go against, the science.

 


Rural round-up

07/10/2020

Weather leaves SI farmers feeling defeated – Neal Wallace:

Dean Rabbidge, who last week had five centimetres of snow on his farm but after thawing was inundated with between 60mm and 70mm of rain at the weekend, is normally a glass half-full type of bloke, but the Wyndham, Southland, farmer concedes his usual optimism is being sorely tested this spring.

“I’m over it,” he said.

“We’ve had no reprieve since the end of August.

“It has been weather event after weather event after weather event.

“We get three or four nice days then another weather event either rain, snow or wind. . . 

Southland’s ‘crazy weather’ makes freshwater rules difficult to follow

Flooding in lower Southland over the weekend shows how difficult it is for farmers to adhere to controversial new government regulations, Bernadette Hunt says.

“It is another example of why resowing by a regulated date, as opposed to when conditions are suitable, just doesn’t make sense,” Hunt, who is Federated Farmers vice president for Southland, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Hunt was referring to regulations in the government’s National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, which said farmers in Southland and Otago would be required to resow winter feed crop paddocks by November 1.

Although the sudden flooding over the weekend was unexpected, “crazy weather in October” was not unusual in the region, and any environmental regulations had to take that into account, Hunt said. . . 

Longest running field days all go :

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, held in Kirwee on the outskirts of Christchurch, will celebrate its 70th year in March 2021 with a bigger demonstration area.

Chairperson Michaela McLeod is describing it as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the industry that has been the backbone of New Zealand’s economy during the uncertain times of Covid-19.

“The agricultural industry has hardly skipped a beat over the past few months, and we see the South Island Agricultural Field Days as the perfect place for farmers, contractors and our industry to come together and share their stories, celebrate their successes and look for opportunities to improve their businesses. . . 

Kidding around on farm – Gerald Piddock:

An Auckland farmer has made the transition from milking cows to goats and has now established the largest goat farm in New Zealand. Gerald Piddock reports.

Matthew and Sarah Bolton established Oete Farm to showcase the dairy goat industry to New Zealanders.

Their success at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards, where they won the supreme award along with four category awards for the Auckland region, validated the journey the business has undertaken since it was established six years ago.

Matthew says the awards success reflected the hard work and team effort from his 30 full and part-time staff spread across the 273-hectare farm at Patumahoe, west of Pukekohe. . . 

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy announces record earnings of $151m for year – Lawrence Gullery:

A Waikato dairy company credits its strong end of year result to its staff which adapted and worked through the Covid-19 alert levels.

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy achieved group revenue of $381 million, and earnings of $151m, in its financial results for 2019-20.

Group revenue was the income received from selling product, goods and services. Earnings was the profit before milk payments to suppliers and tax. . . 

Farming through risk – Tim Keegan:

I’ve lived through tornadoes and hailstorms—but I’ve never seen anything like the derecho that blasted across Iowa and the Midwest on August 10.

Only in the last few days has life on my farm returned to something that resembles normal. For nearly three weeks, we’ve been cleaning up, helping neighbors, and assessing the massive damage.

My family is luckier than a lot of my fellow Iowans. On our farm, near the town of Mount Vernon, the storm did a lot of damage to trees, buildings, and grain bins. It also flattened or damaged a lot of our corn. We’re still not sure how much of it we’ll recover.

But in so many places the devastation is a lot worse. . . 


Rural round-up

24/09/2020

What’s going on in Southland? – Peter Burke:

It is hard to fathom exactly what’s going to happen in Southland in light of the impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations.

There is clearly great mistrust on the part of Federated Farmers of Environment Minister David Parker, with Feds provincial vice president Bernadette Hunt saying they can’t get through to him on the issue of winter grazing.

It is no secret that Labour has an equal mistrust of Feds, frequently referring to them as the National Party in gumboots.

Feds see some aspects of the new freshwater regulations as unworkable and in this they are right. Furthermore, they question why such a law was passed with basic errors of fact.

Time to put mental health preparedness into action – Elle Perriam:

Being aware of mental health issues is admirable but sometimes it’s not enough, the founder of Will to Live charity, Elle Perriam says.

“I sort of don’t like to say mental health awareness as much because I think there is a lot of awareness out there – but awareness really means nothing to us unless we put it in to action” Perriam told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Perriam was no stranger to mental health battles herself, founding Will to Live after she lost her partner to suicide in 2017.

She suggested checking in on farmer friends this week and instead of asking them how they’re going – ask them if they’re happy. . . 

Lincoln PhD student receives prestigious Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award :

A Lincoln University PhD student has received this year’s Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Award for her work in protecting crops from drought.

Laura Keenan, 28, received the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Kate Sheppard Memorial Wall on Worcester St in Christchurch on Saturday.

Keenan completed an honours degree in Agricultural Science at Lincoln University graduating in 2014. She worked within the area firstly with Soil Matters in Canterbury and then Agricom in Palmerston North before starting her PhD study at Lincoln University in June 2020.

Her PhD is focused on creating a tool that will help with predicting yield and the quality of several plants and herbs included in pasture mixes across New Zealand with the goal of improving drought resilience and feed supply for farmers. . . 

New tech to cut rural energy costs – Annette Scott:

An innovative new player in rural electricity supply has commissioned its first investor-owned solar system on a North Canterbury dairy farm. Solagri Energy Ltd founders share their business journey with Annette Scott.

NEW Zealand dairy farms can now get solar electricity and large-scale battery storage on-farm with zero capital outlay.

Solagri Energy Ltd, a new and innovative player in rural electricity supply, has commissioned its first investor-owned solar array and large-scale lithium ion battery system on a North Canterbury dairy farm.

Co-founders Peter Saunders and Hamish Hutton just happen to be cousins with their business idea stemming around a family campfire. . . 

Challenge to keep pastures resilient – Richard Rennie:

Commercial plant breeders are united in efforts to help deliver New Zealand farmers better options when it comes to selecting for more resilient pastures in years to come.

Head of Barenbrug’s plant breeding team Courtney Inch says the challenge in NZ, being a relatively small market on a global scale, is having enough capital to invest in developing commercially viable pastures for our market.

This is complicated by NZ being a relatively complex pastoral system, with climatic conditions in Southland for example quite dissimilar to those in Waikato, often requiring different feed types for a relatively small pastoral zone.

“But it is to the industry’s credit we are seeing some really good collaborative work being done now in this area of developing more resilient pastures,” he said. . . 

Superfines leading the charge in wool price spikes – Bruce McLeish:

The wool market surprised many participants last week, with a much stronger performance than expected.

While there had been some business done the previous week, and a positive tone was anticipated, it just got better and better as the week progressed.

A total offering across Australia of just under 30,000 bales – which these days is considered ‘on the large side’ – was keenly sought after, particularly at the finer end.

The Kiwi’s added to the total – with 3000 bales offered in Melbourne – and South Africa put up 6500 bales, almost all of which were consumed by a suddenly hungry wool trade. . . 


Rural round-up

18/09/2020

Dr Doug Edmeades responds to Green Party agriculture policy:

The Green Party’s plan to help Kiwi farmers transition from traditional agriculture to regenerative and organic practices is a bit redundant, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

Most farmers are already using many regenerative agriculture practices, such as rotational grazing, and zero tillage, the soil scientist told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“Let’s not delude ourselves that if we follow RA, we will improve soil health, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve water quality – that’s nonsense.”

Edmeades listened with interest to yesterday’s interview with Green Party co-leader James Shaw, where the Minister said regenerative agriculture would result in better profits for farmers. . . 

‘This just cannot happen’: $9.5 billion at risk as horticulture sector struggles to fill $25-an-hour jobs – Bonnie Flaws:

The shortage of horticultural workers due to Covid-19 border restrictions is putting $9.5 billion of the country’s economy at risk, says New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard.

About 10,000 seasonal workers would be needed starting from next month to prune and pick $1 billion worth of fruit across Hawke’s Bay alone, he said.

The shortage had the potential to cripple the region’s economic recovery.

“This just cannot happen.” . . 

Fonterra set to return to profit, but will it pay a dividend? – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra’s annual result this week is expected to show that the dairy giant is back in the black, but will it pay a final dividend?

The co-op last year posted a net loss of $605 million, driven mostly by writedowns of its overseas businesses, dwarfing the previous year’s shortfall of $196m, and sparking a major change in direction.

Fonterra did not pay a dividend in its previous financial year but in its latest earnings update, it said it would reassess a payout at the end of the latest year to July 31. . . 

The future of food – Greg Bruce:

Most of New Zealand’s lowland areas are now devoted to food production. How we produce food for consumption, sale and export continues to shape our landscape and lives, but the 90 per cent of New Zealanders who live in cities have little contact with those processes and the social and environmental considerations they create.

Can farmers improve yields and use resources more efficiently? Can consumers reconnect with the land and farm practices to make more informed choices and reduce waste? What is the future of our food?

THE LATE MAY EVENING my wife and I went to Coco’s Cantina for dinner, it was appallingly cold, probably the coldest night of the year. I wore a long black double-breasted wool coat, which I call ‘The Aucklander’ because it so obviously marks me as a stereotypical city person, which I am—lacking DIY skills, any sort of self-sufficiency, and any idea of what it takes to survive without a supermarket within easy driving distance. . .

Ewe’ll be seeing spots with quintuplets – Daisy Hudson:

You could be forgiven for thinking you were going dotty.

Sue Rissman certainly did when one of her ewes delivered five spotted black and white lambs on Sunday.

The quintuplets, four girls and a boy, seemed perfectly unaware of the interest in them yesterday as they trotted around after their mum on the 21ha lifestyle block Mrs Rissman and her husband, Grant, own inland from Palmerston.

The pair have 47 ewes, which have overwhelmingly delivered twins and triplets. . .

Two farming families form state of the art dairy business :

Two farming families from the Conwy Valley in Wales have gone into a partnership to run as a single state-of-the art dairy business.

The families decided to join together for a better work-life balance, more stock, less pressure and the prospect of new opportunities.

Young farmer Emyr Owen, 30, from Bodrach, near Pandy Tudur, farms in partnership with his parents on a 185-acre former beef and sheep farm.

He joined up with his next door neighbour Gwydion Jones, 38, whose family formerly farmed a herd of 150 dairy cattle at the neighbouring 95-acre Ty’n Ffynnon farm.. . 


Rural round-up

28/06/2020

One billion . . .  wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

Is this simply the dumbest waste of Government money to be spent in New Zealand?

The Government has committed $100m​ dollars to tackle wilding pines infestations during the next four years but under the One Billion Trees Fund, it’s also paying for the invasive species to be planted in the first place.

In Southland, a trust that has worked hard to eradicate wilding pines has written to Government ministers asking why they allow, under the fund, the planting of wilding species.

The Mid Dome Wilding Pine Trust has spent more than $10m​ clearing wilding contorta pines from northern Southland since 2007. . .

Farming vs Forestry: carbon credit  policy ‘idealistic’ :

The Government’s carbon credit policy is “idealistic” and missing “the big picture” says Mike Cranstone.

“Allowing an overseas fund manager to use our productive land to grow carbon credits – that’s like cutting off a finger of our productive hand,” the Whanganui Federated Farmers president and hill country farmer told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Cranstone was also not a fan of giving up profitable sheep and beef land to forestry.

“Let’s have the government set the incentives and the policy to actually encourage farmers to think about their marginal land and plant that”. . . 

Govt underestimating Labour shortage – National :

The government is underestimating the size of the labour shortage rural contractors are facing, according to National’s ag spokesperson David Bennett.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says he expects rural contractors generally require 350 foreign workers to get through the season. But contractors dispute this, saying many more will likely be needed to fill the labour shortage,’ claims Bennett.

“He also admitted the Government’s Covid-19 training programme is only training 40 people across the country to fill these highly-skilled roles.

“The Minister implied that if someone is capable of driving a van then they are qualified to drive a tractor. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account the complexities of rural contracting and the high-value crops that are at stake. . .

Farms rich family heritage recognised – Molly Houseman:

A Taieri farm, owned by the same family for 150 years, has been given a New Zealand Century farm award.

Despite the cancellation of the usual awards dinner due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Janefield farm and its rich family history did not go unnoticed.

The 220ha farm is owned by father and son Ian and Simon Bathgate.

To be considered for the award, an application including photographs and documents supporting the farm’s history had to be submitted. . .

Selling makes no sense when you’re living the dream – Hugh Collins:

The drive between Arrowtown and Queenstown contains arguably some of the most sought-after high-country land in the South Island.

With no shortage of wealthy developers moving into the area in the past decade, many would be adamant the region’s rich farming days are numbered.

But for Malaghans Rd farmer Chris Dagg, it would be a cold day in hell if he ever chose to sell his 404ha sheep and beef farm beneath Coronet Peak.

“I’ve had countless people say ‘why don’t you just sell and go sit on a beach?,” Mr Dagg said when asked about selling. . . 

Pig farmers feed million bees in wildlife project :

Two pig farmers have succeeded in feeding one million bees after participating in a project that saw them turn over half their land to wildflowers.

Four years ago brothers Mark and Paul Hayward decided to farm 33ha – the equivalent of 83 football pitches – in the most wildlife positive way.

This involves planting nectar-rich blooms around the pig site at Dingley Dell Pork, Suffolk with the aim of embracing a sustainable way of farming. . . 


Rural round-up

09/06/2020

Book puts farming at centre of NZ’s story :

Brian Easton says his new book could not ignore farming’s contribution to the history of NZ.

William Soltau Davidson is not usually considered one of New Zealand’s great 19th century heroes. He came to New Zealand in 1865 as a 19-year-old farm cadet at the Levels in South Canterbury. By the age of 32 he was general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, which held some 3,000,000 acres in the South Island, in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, some of which Davidson sold off to small holders.

In 1882 he supervised the loading of the first exports of frozen meat at Port Chalmers and welcomed the Dunedin when it reached London. That Davidson does not appear more prominently in our general histories reflects their neglect of the central role of farming.

It is a strange omission, probably the result of the urban base of the writers, the tendency to imitate foreign histories with their focus on industrialisation and their lack of interest in the economy. . . 

Farmer is game for a challenge – Colin Williscroft:

Two-time women’s Rugby World Cup winner Bex Mahoney is these days putting her energy into running a Tararua farming business with her husband Luke but she’s also breaking new ground on the rugby field. There are synergies between the two, as Colin Williscroft reports.

Bex Mahoney likes to challenge herself to have a go at different things because that gives her an edge.

Is a simple philosophy but one that has paid off for the Pahiatua farmer. 

Only the fourth New Zealander to have played 50 first class games of rugby and gone on to referee 50 first class games, both men’s and women’s, the mother of two young girls spends much of her time getting her hands dirty on-farm while also exploring new farming opportunities online and on the phone.  . . 

Farmstrong hits 5th birthday:

Rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong is celebrating its fifth birthday.

More than 18,000 Kiwi farmers and growers have engaged in the last year alone. 

Farmstrong helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming by sharing things farmers can do to look after themselves and the people in their business.

It offers practical tools and resources through its website, workshops and community events, inviting farmers to find out what works for them and lock it in. Farmers using good techniques to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy are regularly featured in stories in Farmers Weekly.  . . 

Queens Birthday honours: cattle breeder Bruce McKenzie:

Bruce McKenzie is proud of his Queen’s Birthday Honour, even though rumour has it, he thought it was a joke at first.

The Wairarapa beef breeder was awarded Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the cattle industry.

“It’s a great honour to receive this. I think agriculture is going to be a part of the future in New Zealand and I feel very proud to have this honour” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . .

Research finds sheep eyes are the window to their stressed out souls :

Kiwi researchers have found the temperature of a sheep’s eye is linked to the animal’s level of stress.

Thermal imaging technology is being used by AgResearch scientists to gain greater insights into how livestock experience stress, and how that knowledge can help enhance animal welfare.

Research in which the technology is focused on sheep has been published today in the PLOS ONE scientific journal, entitled “Evaluation of infrared thermography as a non-invasive method of measuring the autonomic nervous response in sheep“. . . 

Partners in agritech innovation – Niall Casey:

While it may sound like a cliché to say that Ireland and New Zealand both punch above their weights, it’s clear from the figures that it’s true.

Ireland, a country of less than 5 million people produces enough food to feed over 50 million people, while NZ’s agri-food is known across the world for its food – with its dairy farming passing $15b in export earnings annually.

Both countries are united by their shared commitment to quality, traceability and the highest standards in production and safety.


Rural round-up

08/05/2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro is concerned for the wellbeing of farmers as they negotiate the ongoing effects of a dry season and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said last month’s rain was “a great morale booster” for farmers in the drought-affected area in North Canterbury.

“Since that rain four weeks ago, things went pretty quiet. But it’s just a pity we haven’t had a follow-up rain and we really need a good warm follow-up rain, particularly for the farmers from Waipara north to get some growth before winter.

“It’s starting to get dry and cold in that northern part, but other than that it’s business as usual. . . 

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

The Government’s drought recovery advice fund announced today is merely a drop in the bucket for supporting farmers affected by drought, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The fund is specifically for providing affected farmers with recovery and planning advice, but does not contribute to farmers’ rising feed costs or general business costs.

“Most farmers already know what is needed to help their business recover and it is insulting for the Government to tell them they simply need to seek more advice to get through the drought. . . 

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden is disappointed that the Government is treating rural general practices the same as any other business in the community.

Bolden told Rural News that rural GPs were expecting to get two payments from the Government to assist them financially.

However, she says while they had received the first payment, Cabinet vetoed the second payment – just days before it was expected to be paid.  . .

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

The country’s meat processors have followed two distinctly different paths in response to the government’s wage subsidy scheme which is available to all businesses for 12 weeks, providing they can substantiate a 30% drop in revenue during the period. Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, ANZCO, Taylor Preston and Blue Sky Meats have all claimed the subsidy to varying extents, whereas AFFCO, Greenlea and Wilson Hellaby have decided it is not justified or necessary, at least partly on ethical grounds.

The contrast in approach has already been commented on by independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, who has slammed the two largest claimants, SFF which has claimed $43 million and Alliance $34 million, for taking advantage of taxpayer funding when they are classified as an essential business, operating in lockdown. Equally Bagrie complimented those companies not making a claim because they were getting on with business as usual. Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, he said “the wage subsidy is out there to support businesses that are getting clobbered, that are effectively in lockdown.”

I am not convinced this interpretation is either totally fair or even correct. Both SFF’s Simon Limmer and Alliance’s CEO David Surveyor are clear the wage subsidy is not a company entitlement, but is paid directly to various categories of employees: firstly it maintains standard wage rates at normal processing speeds despite the 30-50% reduction to meet distance requirements, it retains those who would have to have been terminated seasonally, and it is used to pay those who cannot work e.g. because of age,  compromised immunity or family circumstances. . .

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

CharRees Vineyard owners Charlie and Esma Hill put a call out on social media for help to harvest during lockdown.

They were so overwhelmed by community response, including some from Christchurch, they had to turn people away.

The lockdown harvest, approved by Ministry for Primary Industries as essential for food and beverage production, attracted about 20 people from Ashburton and Methven — many who had never harvested grapes before — to put their hands up to help.

The pickers worked alongside family members of the couple and vineyard workers to pick the first of three annual grape harvests. . . 

Red meat exports top $1 billion in March 2020, a first for monthly exports:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports topped $1 billion for the first time, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12 per cent on March 2019.

While overall exports to China for the month of March were down by nine per cent compared to last March as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased, demonstrating the agility and resilience of the New Zealand red meat sector. . . 

Time to take ag reform out of the “too hard basket” – Fiona Simson:

Regional Australia is well placed to be the engine that powers Australia’s COVID-19 recovery. The bush has done this before, with strong exports helping keep recession at bay during the Global Financial Crisis.

And, after a challenging period of drought, bushfires and floods, widespread rainfall has seen the fortunes of farmers begin to improve. Agriculture is ready and raring to grow.

As we dare to cast an eye to the world post-COVID-19, now is the opportune time to consider the changes agriculture and regional Australia needs to best contribute to the recovery task. . . 


Rural round-up

08/04/2020

It’s okay to not be okay – Jamie Mackay:

 A recent personal tragedy has made The Country host Jamie Mackay reconsider his stance on mental health.

I’m ashamed to admit it, especially as there is a history of mental illness in my own family, but until relatively recently I was a bit blasé about mental health.

Back when my grandmother was a young mother under considerable stress raising six kids, she had what was at that time called ‘a breakdown’. She was sent off to a mental institution (as they were known then) three hour’s drive away.

We were often packed into the car when my father went to visit her, but we were never able to see her. She lived until I was 16 years of age, but I never met her. As a family we never talked about her, other than to acknowledge that she was institutionalised. . . 

Rural sector vital to recovery, despite confidence dip – David Anderson:

COVID-19 is negatively impacting New Zealand’s rural sector confidence.

The declining confidence comes as the country’s primary industries prepare to shoulder some of the heavy lifting for economic and social recovery, claims specialist rural bank Rabobank.

New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris says the bank’s latest rural confidence survey shines a light on the psyche of farmers at a critical time for the nation.

“The food and agri sectors will be crucial in helping to rebuild the New Zealand economy and Rabobank continues to have a strong positive long-term view of the sector outlook,” he says.  . .

Fruit, wine industries respond to coronavirus with vintage Kiwi adaptability – Georgia-May Gilbertson:

Kiwis are stepping in to cover a shortage of backpackers and overseas seasonal workers in the fruit and wine industries.  

For the last few years the kiwifruit industry has experienced a labour shortage when it comes to harvest, but New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) president Nikki Johnson says covid-19 has changed that. 

“The way that our labour situation is laid out is that about 50 per cent are New Zealanders,  25 per cent are working holidays visa workers or backpackers, then 20 per cent are RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) workers,” Johnson said.  . . 

COVID-19: Growing interest in NZ sheepmeat in China – Peter Burke:

Chinese consumers are increasingly positive about New Zealand-produced beef, lamb and mutton in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a social media analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand. 

B+LNZ’s market development team says it is monitoring Chinese consumers’ perceptions of the protein market, the perception of protein origin, and the changes in retail channel choice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The red meat grower organisation has published a report summarizing the latest findings, which can be found here:

Click here to view the full report. . . 

Coronavirus: The harvest bubble ‘flogging the wifi’ as hand picking starts to wrap – Jennifer Eder:

Many seasonal workers in Marlborough’s wine industry are also stuck at home on Coronavirus lockdown as hand harvesting of grapes comes to an end.

All non-essential businesses were to close when the country moved to alert level 4 on March 25, but people working in the grape harvest were categorised an essential service as part of food and beverage production.

Many vineyard workers brought into the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are approaching the end of their contracts, but cannot fly home during lockdown. . . 

‘Massive disconnect’: Helen Skelton urges public to respect farmers:

Television presenter Helen Skelton has said there is a ‘massive disconnect’ between food producers and the British public.

The BBC presenter, who currently hosts Springtime On The Farm, urged consumers to have greater respect for farmers.

The 36-year-old grew up on a farm herself, and has a ‘huge amount of respect’ for those who produce the nation’s food.

“Now I live on the edge of the city, and there’s a massive disconnect between food producers and the rest of the country,” she said. . . 

 


PM too busy for The Country

30/01/2020

Jamie Mackay, host of The Country, (formerly known as The Farming Show) has interviewed leaders of the National and Labour parties every week for years, with one exception.

That exception was then-Labour leader David Cunliffe who declined the opportunity because he thought he wouldn’t get a fair hearing.

There’s now a second exception, one of Cunliffe’s successors, Jacinda Ardern who has said she’ll now only be doing a monthly slot.

The Country is the most expensive advertising hour on radio which indicates the size of its audience.

The show goes nationwide, with a sizeable number of urban listeners and it’s a must-listen for most rural people.

Interviews with party leaders are almost always pre-recorded at a time that’s convenient to them and last about five minutes.

What does it say about a PM who doesn’t have a very few minutes to spare for an audience that big?

People wanting to listen to interviews with the PM will no doubt be able to find others but the ones on The Country deal with rural issues in a way others don’t.

If she’s not available for weekly interviews on The Country she’s not interested in talking to country people.


Rural round-up

11/09/2019

Ten water questions for Jacinda Ardern and Todd Muller – Jamie Mackay:

Today the Country’s Jamie Mackay has 10 questions on the Government’s freshwater proposals for National’s Primary Industries spokesman Todd Muller. Tomorrow, he will ask Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the same 10 questions.

Comment: Everyone wants cleaner waterways. It’s how we get there that’s the contentious bit for me.

But first, I have to declare an interest here. As the host of a rural radio show on Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport, I have a vested interest in going into bat for the primary sector and I’m personally heavily invested in it.

I’m also in the privileged position of having a nationwide radio show that infiltrates urban New Zealand, one of very few such voices. . .

Robots, trees and pushbikes – farming’s ‘bright’ future – Pete Fitz-Herbert:

Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert takes a tongue in cheek look at the future of New Zealand agriculture.

The future is bright.

There is so much negativity around at the moment I thought I would look forward positively to the bright future that awaits New Zealand.

Imagine a country where you can ride your bicycle to the closest hospital to give birth.

Then to save some more of the environment and be a part of the zero waste movement, your first and only hospital meal containing meat is your own gently seared placenta with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt and julienne carrots. . .

Fonterra aims for 750 million-litre annual water saving – Yvonne O’Hara:

Fonterra’s Edendale site intends to reduce its annual water usage by 750 million litres by 2030, as part of the co-operative’s sustainability strategy.

Fonterra’s general manager for the lower South Island, including Edendale and Stirling, Richard Gray, said the co-operative recently announced that six of its manufacturing sites in water-constrained regions would reduce their water use by 30% by 2030 as part of Fonterra’s sustainability plans.

The Edendale site used “close to two billion litres a year” and all its water was taken from the Edendale aquifer, Mr Gray said. . .

Celebrating a life well-lived – Joyce Wyllie:

“The room was a kinder place when Michelle was in it”.

Profound, sincere words to honour a fine, sincere woman. And after many wonderful tributes the final speaker summing up with that simple heartfelt sentence was significant, as we all knew how true it was.

Seeing over 500 people from varied walks of life crammed into the Collingwood Memorial Hall to celebrate the generous, loving life of Michelle Riley showed how many lives  she touched with her wide skills and talents and her great ability to connect with people. Her kindness impacted her community near and far. . .

Hydro exemption from water standards risk two tier system – Trustpower:

Exempting the country’s major hydro catchments from new controls on fresh water quality appears arbitrary and runs the risk of putting disproportionate scrutiny on smaller schemes, Trustpower chief executive Vince Hawksworth says.

The proposal – to allow councils to accept lower water quality in rivers hosting major dams – is intended to maintain flexibility for the country’s biggest providers of renewable energy. But officials acknowledged the move is a compromise that could be unfair to producers of about 10 percent of the country’s hydro-generation.

Hawksworth says everyone has a part to play to improve water quality and most also share an ambition to make greater use of renewable energy to counter climate change. . .

 

The next 30 years will make or break humanity: Farming is a bigger deal than Brexit – Tom Clarke:

Over the next 30 years, farmers will have to produce more food for more people with fewer resources. This is a huge challenge, and much more important than Brexit, says Cambridgeshire Fens farmer Tom Clarke.

Just get on with it.

Everybody wants to get on with it. It’s just everybody disagrees what ‘IT’ is. . .


Rural round-up

07/09/2019

Farmer’s open letter to Jacinda Ardern: Part 2 –  Andrew Stewart:

 Last month Rangitikei farmer Andrew Stewart wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about his concerns over climate change and farming. In his follow up letter, he calculates his farm’s emissions profile and finds some worrying statistics.

Nearly a month ago I wrote an emotive open letter to Jacinda Ardern and the farming leaders of New Zealand.

My motivation was to try and articulate what I was feeling as a sheep and beef farmer in regards to climate change obligations.

Now I want to share the facts about my own farm and my emissions profile that inspired me to write the open letter. . . 

Time to recognise real progress made by dairy farmers – Tim Mackle:

I can remember a time not so long ago when more than 70 per cent of the country loved our dairy farmers, but it feels like things have changed in recent times. Farmers are doing their best to stay “relentlessly positive” in the face of relentless criticism, but it’s not easy.

Some commentators are quick to stand back and fire shots at farmers from a distance, but what does that actually achieve? It’s easy to criticise our dairy sector in the New York Times.

It’s much harder to voluntarily put in fencing at your own cost that almost runs the equivalent of New Zealand to New York and back – but that’s exactly what our dairy farmers have done.

New Zealand dairy farmers have fenced off 24,744km of waterways. That means that 97.5 per cent of the significant waterways on New Zealand dairy farms are now excluded from dairy cattle. We have also constructed bridges and culverts for more than 99.7 per cent of 44,386 regular stock crossing points on dairy farms. . . 

Water plan cautiously welcomed, but deadline tight, say dairy, beef, lamb sectors :

The Government’s water proposals will not work as a one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to dairy and sheep and beef farmers, says Sam McIvor. The Beef+Lamb chief executive spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, along with DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle about the Action Plan for Healthy Waterways which was announced yesterday.

While both Mackle and McIvor said they welcomed the idea behind the freshwater plan, they still have concerns for their industries.

Government figures showed the average annual cost on the proposals would be $9350 for a lowland dairy farm, but a hill country sheep and beef farmer could be looking at $14,850. . . 

Social licence to operate just as important as methane reduction – Allan Barber:

Amid all the debate about agriculture’s responsibility to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, and the appropriate levels for those targets, it may seem counterintuitive to claim an equally pressing problem is to earn a licence to operate. Just as great a threat to agriculture’s future is not whether it faces a potentially unachievable government imposed target, but a business environment in which consumers make their decisions based on their perception of the acceptability of the food they eat.

All primary production sectors – red meat, dairy, horticulture, fisheries, forestry and the rest – must recognise they are in competition for the attention of consumers who increasingly have the luxury and the right to decide between products they consume on the basis of multiple dimensions, way beyond the traditional choice based on taste, price and availability. While we are continually told the world’s population will provide ready markets for more than New Zealand can produce, we are also being made increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and working with instead of exploiting the environment. . .

Oamaru’s Berry family are breaking the mound with special blue cheese – Lucy Corry:

Simon Berry eats blue cheese on toast for breakfast. Not every day, of course, but he has to do his bit to support the family business. “I love all our cheeses, but the blue’s the best,” he says. “It depends on the season, because there’s so much scope. I mean, I do love the halloumi. But yeah, I’m definitely a blue cheese guy.”

It’s not as if he doesn’t have a wide variety to choose from. Whitestone Cheese, the company started by his father Bob and mother Sue back in 1987, now produces 25 different cheeses from its Oamaru factory. One of those cheeses — the Vintage Windsor Blue that Simon is so fond of having on his toast of a morning — is now exported to France. It also won a gold medal in the 2019 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, along with Whitestone’s Ferry Road Halloumi (the highest scoring cheese in the awards) and its Vintage Five Forks.

Wool footwear:

Thanks to our more active lifestyles and casual approach to dressing, runners are undoubtedly one of the most popular items in today’s global market. The success of wool in footwear lies not only in the fibre’s natural properties, but also in its ability to be constructed in a way that aids performance.

Using the latest fully-fashioned knitting technology, wool footwear can be knitted to its final shape, reducing the amount of wastage associated with regular cut-and-sew techniques.

Wool fibres can absorb large quantities of moisture vapour and then allow it to evaporate, helping keep you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cool. . .


Rural round-up

23/08/2019

Todd Muller: This Government thinks farming is ‘yesterday’s industry’ :

Todd Muller says the current Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand’s economy.

National’s primary industries spokesman told The Country’s Jamie Mackay that this philosphy “runs deep” within the Labour Party, saying Helen Clark once described agribusiness as “a sunset industry” when she was Prime Minister.

“They have a philosophical view the primary industries, somehow, are not part of New Zealand’s future and I totally reject that view. I always have. I think food and fibre are going to be critical for New Zealand in the future”. . . 

(You’ll find a link to the interview if you click on the headline above).

Regenerative Farming: Can meat save the planet? – Bonnie Flaws:

Grazing animals are vital to addressing the climate crisis. Blink. Yep, you read that right. 

Cows, sheep, bison, even pigs, goats and chickens are part of the solution, not the enemy.

But ever since the 2006 UN report on livestock that blamed meat production for contributing to climate change, it’s been taking some flack.

However, a growing body of research shows that livestock, managed properly, help build organic matter and store carbon in the soil which is the second largest carbon sink after our oceans, according to the European Environment Agency. . . 

 

Understanding business empowers busy farmer – Sally Rae:

Jess Lamb loves being busy.

That is just as well, given the amount of things going on in her life, whether it is farming, children, part-time work as a beauty therapist or her involvement with the local fire brigade.

Mrs Lamb farms with her husband Greg in the Wendon Valley, near Gore, where their children Stevie (6) and Mac (5) are sixth-generation on the land.

She recently completed the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Understanding Your Farming Business programme, which aimed to equip and support women with the knowledge, skills and confidence to lift the performance and profitability of their farming business. . . 

Roadshows define agtech strategy – Colin Williscroft:

Farmers are being encouraged to have their say on the types of technology that will be of most benefit to the primary sector.

The Agritech Strategy Roadshow is travelling around the country seeking feedback to help identify key priority areas for Government action to support the sector.

Agritech New Zealand is partnering with several government agencies to develop a range of industry-led initiatives and actions to help the agricultural technology sector, lift export earnings and provide more innovation.  . .

Vegan food’s sustainability needs to give the full picture

The IPCC special report, Climate Change and Land, released last night, has found a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the “land”: largely farming, food production, land clearing and deforestation.

Sustainable farming is a major focus of the report, as plants and soil can potentially hold huge amounts of carbon. But it’s incredibly difficult as a consumer to work out the overall footprint of individual products, because they don’t take these considerations into account.

Two vegan brands have published reports on the environmental footprint of their burgers. Impossible Foods claims its burger requires 87% less water and 96% less land, and produces 89% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than a beef version. Additionally, it would contribute 92% less aquatic pollutants.

Similarly, Beyond Meat claims its burger requires 99% less water, 93% less land, 90% fewer greenhouse emissions and 46% less energy than a beef burger.

But these results have focused on areas where vegan products perform well, and do not account for soil carbon or potential deforestation. This might change the picture. . .

Red meat and the environment: the facts:

Red meat is not only important for a balanced diet – it has an important role in balanced, natural farming, too.

There is a lot of talk at the moment about sustainable food and the impact eating red meat has on the environment.

We’ve teamed up with the Meat Advisory Panel to provide some useful, fact-based messages to help you have positive, engaging conversations about agriculture, red meat and the environment.

Without livestock, the landscape would change significantly, as we reported in the Landscapes without Livestock project.

This visualised the impacts of a reduction in beef and sheep farming on some of England’s most cherished landscapes over a 30-year period. You can explore one example with the image slider above. . . 


Southland shows sense

04/07/2019

A few days ago I declared a common sense emergency.

Jane Smith is blunter:

Although Jane Smith is not a climate change denier, she says there is no denying things have got “out of control” when it comes to cities declaring a climate emergency.

In fact, this North Otago farmer wants to declare an “Emergency of Political Stupidity”.

“All of these headlines are politically driven propaganda, rather than evidence-based” Smith told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

As a former Ballance Farm Environment Award winner, Smith knows her stuff when it comes to keeping New Zealand clean and green, but a climate emergency is a step too far in her book.

“I just think now is the time to be working together in a calm and rational way – and I’m not a climate change denier at all. It’s just that this is a long game, and we actually need to be thinking about it together and building that plane while we’re flying it I guess”.

Another issue bugging Smith at the moment is millennials being diagnosed with climate change anxiety over the “looming anticipated threats about what might be happening in the future”.

“That is not conducive to really cool, calm and rational thinking. Opinion seems to be taking over fact … and I just think that’s ridiculous“. . .

The political stupidity emergency is coming closer now Jacinda Ardern is contemplating declaring one of behalf of the government.

The Prime Minister’s admission that she is open to the idea of declaring a climate change emergency is nothing more than hot air and rhetoric, National’s Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“This amounts to nothing more than political posturing and virtue signalling, the Climate Change Minister himself has admitted that he expects emissions to continue to rise until the mid-2020s, and declaring an emergency would not have any impact on this.

“There is no clear understanding of what declaring a ‘climate emergency’ would actually mean or what would occur as a result.

“When governments declare emergencies they are for natural disasters and requires the full and urgent attention of all relevant government departments. This declaration lacks all such substance and is merely a feel good statement with no plan or meaningful action standing behind it.

“If the Government was explicit in what it would change, fund, or prioritise differently by declaring an emergency then we would be open to the debate, but currently it is just symbolism over substance.

“National is taking a bipartisan approach to climate change and supports the establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission. The focus should be on developing real plans to drive our emissions down rather than making empty declarations.”

People clamoring for declarations of climate emergencies should be very careful what they’re wishing for.

Any urgent actions, which is what emergencies demand, would have high economic and social costs and, given just how small New Zealand’s contribution to the problem is, the environmental benefits would be at the very best minimal.

But there is hope in Southland where cooler heads are prevailing:

Environment Southland has today voted against declaring a climate emergency.

Councillor Robert Guyton put forward the motion at a full council meeting to declare a climate emergency. It was seconded by Cr Lyndal Ludlow. . .

However, a second motion put forward by Cr Eric Roy stated council would “commit to applying best practice and best science to it’s responsibilities and accords urgency to developing an action plan.”

This was then voted on – the results being all but two councillors voting in favour of it. . .

Environment Southland is showing sense.

Commitment to best practice, best science and urgent development of an action plan will achieve far more than the empty words and hot air which are the declaration of a climate emergency.

 


Rural round-up

17/05/2019

Time for agricultural industry to lead the way – Anna Campbell:

It seems a long time ago that National MP Shane Ardern rode ”Myrtle”, his elderly tractor, up the parliamentary steps in protest at the proposed ”fart tax”.

That was back in 2003 and there have been many iterations of carbon reduction schemes since then with agriculture sliding along relatively unscathed. One did feel that it was only a matter of time before the grace period was over. Climate change has not gone away, a raft of regulations are on their way, but they do look a little different from what we were expecting.

The biggest difference to the current scheme versus previous schemes is the split gas regime, where methane is treated separately due to its shorter lifespan in the atmosphere – the target is a 10% reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, with a provisional reduction of 24% to 47% by 2050. . . 

‘Major reset’ for honey industry – Yvone O’Hara:

There has been strong growth by the honey industry during the past few years but with demand and prices dropping by as much as 50% compared to the previous season, there will be belt tightening and rationalisation, Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos says.

She said the strong growth and good returns in the past few years had attracted a lot of new entrants to the industry.

However, the domestic and international markets have been ”a bit sluggish”. . . 

Katie Milne responds to Shane Jones’ claim that farmers are ‘moaners‘:

Farmers have come under fire this week from MP Shane Jones, who says they need to stop “bitching and moaning”. Jones launched into farmers while talking to host Jamie Mackay on The Country yesterday. But what do farmers say in response? Mackay catches up with one of Jones’ targets, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne, who says the urban/rural divide has damaged people’s opinions of farmers.

“I don’t like the term ‘whingeing’,” says Katie Milne. “But we do like to highlight and try to talk to the issues that do affect us that people do have control over.”

The Federated Farmers president is responding to claims from the Minister of Forestry and Regional Economic Development Shane Jones that farmers are moaners. . . 

Facts ‘overrated’ in farming’s fight for social licence – Glen Herud:

There’s the “thing” and there’s the perception of the “thing” and they are not the same thing.

You could say, there’s the “dairy farm” and there’s the perception of the “dairy farm” and they are not the same thing.

You can change the thing but that doesn’t necessarily change the perception of the thing. . . 

FarmStrong: Shearer’s look after top paddock :

An initiative in the wool harvesting industry is changing traditional attitudes to injury prevention and wellbeing and it’s not just shearing crews who are benefiting.  

Times are changing in the woolshed, Shearing Contractors’ Association spokesman Mark Barrowcliffe says.

He’s been running his King Country business for nearly 20 years, employing up to 50 staff at peak season. . .

Busby takes the feijoa for New Zealand’s oldest sheep – Tracey Neal:

Busby’s genetic roots might lie in the blustery North Sea island of Texel, but the owners of what was possibly New Zealand’s oldest sheep said he has thrived on a more gentle lifestyle.

The Texel-Romney cross wether is estimated by Lynley and Barry Bird to be 24-years-old, measured against the ages of their now-adult children who rescued him as a lamb. . .


Rural round-up

01/05/2019

Gas tax won’t cut farming emissions – Neal Wallace:

A capital gains tax is off the agenda but farming leaders are warning the imposition a suite of new taxes and regulations is pending.

In addition to farmers paying a greenhouse gas emissions tax of $50 million a year the Government is expected to impose tougher regulations on freshwater quality, aerial cropping, winter grazing and feedlots.

“When you look at everything else coming down the pipeline, if I was asked to pick one we were prepared to lose it would be this one, the one we have won,” Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said of the capital gains tax.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also ruled out water and fertiliser taxes as suggested by the Tax Working Group. . .

Top dairy title revealed tonight – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy farmer Emma Hammond, of East Limehills, felt honoured when she was nominated for this year’s prestigious Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

The only South Island-based finalist, she and the other three women will hear if they are winners during a dinner this evening at the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference in Christchurch.

”For us to be recognised for what we do and get that acknowledgement is humbling,” Mrs Hammond said. . .

Farm management whizz ‘well on track‘ – Sally Rae:

At 19, James Matheson set a goal of having $1 million equity by the time he was 30.

Now 26, the Gore farm manager is ”well on track” to achieve that, sitting at between $700,000 and $800,000.

It has been a meteoric rise for a young man who had never previously considered a career in the dairy industry.

Now he and farm owner Chris Lawlor were endeavouring to help other young people follow a similar path through an innovative initiative. . . 

Highlife on top of the world – Andrew Stewart:

Setting up a tourism venture on a farm not only provides a second income but also acts as a public relations exercise to help bridge the rural-urban divide. And when it includes luxury glamping and breathtaking views the visitors cannot fail to be impressed. Andrew Stewart took a look.

In terms of spectacular views, Angus and Sarah Gilbertson’s farm is up there with the best. 

Rising to 600 metres above sea level at the highest point, the panorama on a clear day encompasses all the mountain peaks of the central plateau, Mount Taranaki to the west and the clear blue waters of the Tasman Sea far to the south. 

Between these stunning landmarks are great swathes of some of the most productive farming country in New Zealand that connect the landscape in various shades of green. It’s the sort of view you can’t help but stop and enjoy and this is part of the reason the Gilbertsons created their glamping business five years ago. . . 

The 10 biggest stories in farming over the past 25 years – Jamie Mackay:

My final chat on Newstalk ZB with the laconic Larry Williams was a great excuse to take a trip down memory lane.

Larry was stepping down after 27 years at the drive helm on ZB, while I was blowing out the candles on an accidental radio career spanning a quarter century in rural broadcasting.

For our penultimate ZB cross the week earlier I’d turned the tables on Larry and, without warning, asked him some unscripted questions. Much like his metronomic golf swing, he’s sometimes hard to get off script, but on this occasion he took up the challenge with good humour. . . 

Hunt on for ‘M.bovis’ study project manager – Sally Rae:

The search for an assistant research fellow to project manage a study on the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis on farmers and their communities has attracted a high level of interest.

In January, it was announced the University of Otago would undertake a study on the emotional, social and psychological impacts of the bacterial cattle disease on southern farmers and farming communities.

The two-year study, due to start this month, will look at the impact of the eradication programme on farmers specifically and the wider community more generally. . . 

Medicinal cannabis firm Pure Cann New Zealand gets $6 million investment– Rebecca Howard:

Pure Cann New Zealand, which counts former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe as its executive chair, has secured $6 million from Australia’s Cann Group for a 20 per cent stake in the local medicinal cannabis company.

The investment will be made over stages with the initial 10 per cent to be completed on or before August 30 and a further 10 per cent when New Zealand regulations come into force and Pure Cann’s board approves the construction of its commercial cultivation facility.

The New Zealand government anticipates introducing new regulations, licensing requirements and quality standards governing medicinal cannabis usage by the end of this calendar year. . . 

 


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