Rural round-up


Time for a rethink – Dairy News:

Farmers have delivered a message to the Government – time to push the pause button on Three Waters Reforms and have a rethink.

The Government has put forward legislation for New Zealand’s three water services – drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – to be managed by four new publicly-owned water entities (WSEs), replacing the services currently managed by 67 councils. But the Government is having a hard time convincing ratepayers that this is the best way forward. Despite pouring millions into advertising and marketing their plan, the Government has made very little headway, even with community leaders.

A majority of city and regional councils also remain adamant that Three Waters isn’t the way forward.

Recently Federated Farmers presented its submission to a parliamentary select committee. Farmers agree that reforms are needed, but not in the form of Three Waters. . . 

Blanket cure-all approach ‘frustrates the hell’ out of arable leader – Simon Edwards:

Alison Stewart has no time for those who think New Zealand’s agri-sector has few environmental faults but also slams the current approach of trying to solve them with an across-the-board set of policies and procedures.

“It frustrates the hell out of me,” the Foundation for Arable Research CEO told last month’s Primary Industries NZ Summit.

The government’s thinking seems to be “we’re going to make everybody jump through every bloody hoop because we can’t quite get our heads around the subtleties and complexities of the site specific, sector specific problems that we’ve got”.

As with the 2021 Summit, organisers slotted in Alison as the final speaker on the final day as a way to keep delegates from drifting off early, knowing that she doesn’t pull her punches but injects plenty of humour too.  And like last year, she didn’t disappoint. . . 

That’ll do, Sam: A meditation on working dogs – Tim Saunders :

This excerpt from Tim Saunders’ memoir of life on a farm, Under A Big Sky, is an ode to the wily majesty of the working dog and the wolfish ancestors who came before them.

I pushed open the gate, flaky lichen crisp under my fingers. The midday sun hadn’t found the energy to dry the dew on the grass, and moisture soaked through my jeans, turning the tightly woven fabric dark blue.

Sam stood beside me, his ears erect and alert, his black nose sniffing the air. Sparrows huddled along fences, feathers puffed up against the westerly while cobwebs snared sunlight between taut wires.

“Are you ready, Sam?” I said quietly, my voice out of place amongst the whistles and bleating. “We need to shift these sheep.” . . 

Canterbury farmers earn top award for community involvement and long-term environmental planning :

Developing an environmentally sustainable dairying and beef farming operation which has evolved to become a hub of community activities has earned a husband-and-wife farming couple a top rural award.

North-Canterbury couple Geoff and Rochelle Spark who own and manage Torlesse Farm in Eyrewell, Waimakariri – won the People in Primary Sector title at this year’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. The People in Primary Sector category was sponsored by Bayleys Canterbury.

Torlesse Farm runs about 1,700 dairy cows across some 450-hectares, with a further 400 hectares split between dairy support and beef grazing. The farm sells approximately 80 prime grade cattle each year, and the Sparks have diversified the business to include grazing and grass sales, in addition to operating a commercial weigh bridge and a purpose-built function venue.

The couple moved onto the family owned Torlesse Farm in 1995, eventually buying it from Geoff’s parents in 2005. . . 

Substantial response to West Coast Stewardship land proposals :

More than 6600 people and organisations have made submissions on how they would like to see stewardship land reclassified on the West Cost of the South Island, the Department of Conservation says.

By the closing deadline yesterday, DOC had received 660 individual and 5980 pro forma submissions on proposals to reclassify 504 parcels of stewardship land on the West Coast.

Stewardship land is the term given to land allocated to DOC when it was formed in 1987, which was deemed to have conservation value, but had not been given a specific land classification.

An independent national panel of technical experts and a Ngāi Tahu Mana Whenua Panel were established last year to assess the land for its conservation, recreation and cultural values and recommend the appropriate level of protection. . . 


Pāmu announces new sustainability and risk officer :

Pāmu Chief Executive Mark Leslie has announced that Annabel Davies will be joining Pāmu as Chief Sustainability and Risk Officer.

“I am really pleased to welcome Annabel to Pāmu as we lean into the challenge of a changing climate and the opportunities that our drive to be a more sustainable farming company bring. Annabel has over thirty years of experience working across a range of sectors including local government, infrastructure, energy, and the private sector.

“Annabel’s previous roles have included leading transformational projects at Trustpower managing their risk and climate change strategies, and in their overall Environmental, Social, Governance (“ESG”) approach. . . 

Rural round-up


Australian pair are here to learn – Sally Rae:

When 2019 Zanda McDonald Award joint winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans visited Omarama last week, it truly was a flying visit.

The Australian pair flew into the Waitaki Valley township on a Pilatus aircraft that had been chauffeuring them around the country on a mentoring trip, as part of their prize package.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014, in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property. . .

Seaweed products pioneer named supreme winner in rural women business awards – Angie Skerrett:

A company that has pioneered the use of seaweed products has won the supreme award in this year’s NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards. 

The annual awards celebrate and showcase entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women.

At a function in the Banquet Hall at Parliament, AgriSea Business Development Manager Clare Bradley accepted the supreme award for the Paeroa-based family business.  . . 

AgriSea specialises in the manufacture of macro-algae concentrates and bioactive extractions to add high-value nutrition for soil, plant, animal and human health.  . . 

Seeking sustainability at scale – Neal Wallace:

Ross and Jo Hay are typical of thousands of young farming couples who work hard and continually search for a chance to grow and get ahead. Neal Wallace met the North Otago couple to find out how they are establishing their careers. 

Ross and Jo Hay are not oblivious to the uncertainty associated with the clouds of rules looming on the farming horizon but they have decided to take a glass half full approach.

Fuelled with enthusiasm and determination to pursue a farming career the Hays are confident there will be opportunity among the plethora of Government rules bearing down on the sector.

“People got through the 1980s,” Ross says. . .

Blueberry picking looms – Abbey Palmer:

As leaves fall and berries begin to change from green to blue, Southland’s only blueberry farm is gearing up for another season of hand-picked fun.

With 220 hectares of land planted in bushes, Otautau’s Blueberry Country will be opening its gates to the public this summer for the eight-week season.

Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon said the 10 staff members were hoping to be able to welcome visiting pickers from early January through till the end of February.

“One of the best parts of blueberry picking season is seeing all of the families out and kids knackered from running up and down the orchards,” Mr Bardon said. . .


Happy Cow Diaries part 4: We’re back, and ready to take on industrial dairying – Glen Herud:

Happy Cow Milk is poised to relaunch with a new business model and an invention that could revolutionise dairy production, explains founder Glen Herud, in the latest instalment of his Spinoff series documenting the company’s fall and rise again.

Just as we were chilling the beers for our equity crowdfunding launch last Thursday we crossed the line. We cracked those beers instead, because by the time I got home we had fulfilled our target of raising $400,000. After months of work it was a huge relief to reach our goal, and we did it in just 8 hours and 8 minutes.

It was a rare day of success in what sometimes feels like an endless start-up slog. The best part for me is the confirmation that New Zealanders are ready for change. They want solutions that reduce emissions, look after animals, protect waterways and reduce plastics. And they want to connect with farmers and food production in a more positive way . .

Staring into oblivion: People of the drought lands watch their world disappear – Rob Harris:

It’s 5.45am in Casino, just over an hour’s drive inland from Byron Bay in northern NSW, and the smoke from weeks of bushfires lingers, casting a gloomy haze over the sunrise.

The early shift at the town’s meat works has filed in and the piercing noise of an electric hand saw cutting its way through carcass after carcass drowns out the Monday morning chatter.

The Northern Co-operative Meat Company is the town’s biggest private employer with 1000 people – 10 per cent of Casino’s population – relying on a constant flow of cattle to make ends meet. . .

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