Vandals pollute

October 25, 2017

Was this random vandalism or misguided environmental activism?

Farming leaders in Canterbury hope a spate of vandalism was not motivated by radical environmentalists.

On Friday night, October 20, a valve was opened on a vat allowing about 6000 litres of milk to escape on a Leeston dairy farm and the same night 30 tyres on four irrigators on a Hororata farm, an hour’s drive away, were punctured by a battery-powered drill.

The dairy farmer whose vat was opened was Environment Canterbury councillor John Sunckell who said he was at a loss whether it was a burglar frustrated at not getting access to anything valuable or an environmentalist wanting to make a statement.

“I don’t want to draw a conclusion but it is hard not to,” he said, referring to the irrigator tyre slashing incident on the same night.

Sunckell said police asked him if it could have been a disgruntled employee but he did not think so.

In recent months Greenpeace activists had illegally occupied the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme, other environmental groups had openly pursued an agenda opposing irrigation and surveys in Christchurch had shown opposition to farming and irrigation.

Sunckell said he was talking publicly about the incident because the vandalism was reflective of a growing split in the community.

“We have got to get away from this urban-rural divide but I don’t know how we are going to do it.”

The volume of milk exceeded the capacity of the drainage and wetland filtering and containment system and the milk overflowed into a drain then a waterway.

So the vandalism caused pollution.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Michael Woodward hoped the two incidents were not motivated by anti-farming sentiment.

“It is hard to know if it is coincidental or the same people.”

If it was environmentalists, it was counterproductive given the tyres would be dumped and the milk ended up in a waterway, both damaging to the environment.

Irrigation was a contentious issue in Canterbury and Woodward said he would be disappointed if activists chose to vandalise private property to promote their cause instead of talking to farmers.

The federation’s provincial president Lynda Murchison was also reluctant to speculate on a motive but said if it was environmentalists she was saddened and fearful that people misinformed about water quality issues and the role of irrigation would resort to those tactics.

“Angry people damaging property never got anyone anywhere.” . . 

Whether or not the vandals were environmental activists they’ve not only broken the law they’ve added to pollution and waste.

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Rural round-up

August 12, 2017

Farming to end –  Annette Scott:

FARMING will have to shut down in Canterbury’s Selwyn district to meet national water quality standards for the region’s polluted Lake Ellesmere, Environment Canterbury has told the Government.

In a business case analysis provided to the Ministry for the Environment, ECan outlined significant fundamental change needed to bring the lake, one of New Zealand’s most polluted, into line.

“On the current basis to achieve Government freshwater outcomes as mandated it would mean taking all intensive agriculture, not just dairy, out of the play,” ECan councillor and Selwyn district farmer John Sunckell said. . .

Mycoplasma bovis update:

MPI’s progress in the response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was the focus of a well-attended public meeting in Waimate last night.

Around 100 people turned out to hear MPI officials and a number of industry body partners outline the current surveillance and testing regime and timelines, the robustness of disease containment measures and the actions farmers can take to protect their farms.

There remains no change to the number of properties with confirmed positive test results for Mycoplasma bovis – 2 farms, both within the wider Van Leeuwen group of farms. . .

Beltex lambs hit the ground – Annette Scott:

THE first lamb has hit the ground marking the beginning of an exciting new meat breed for the New Zealand sheep industry.

And for the partners in the venture it was almost more exciting than getting grandchildren.

Beltex embryos imported from England were transferred to four-year-old Perendale ewes on Blair Gallagher’s Mid Canterbury foothills Rangiatea farm in March. . .

Demand for vets ‘unprecedented‘ – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the southern dairy industry improves after seasons of low payouts and on-farm cost-cutting, some of the region’s veterinarian practices are finding it difficult to fill staff vacancies, a trend that is reflected nationally.

They are also in competition with overseas recruiting agencies, which are eyeing New Zealand to fill their clients’ needs.

The increasing demand for both production and companion animal vet services as practices get busier, is a good indicator of how well the economy is doing, New Zealand Veterinary Association’s Veterinary Business Group chairwoman Debra Gates said. . .

Catchment group and iwi join forces – Nicole Sharp:

The Pourakino Catchment Group and local iwi are putting a game plan in place for increasing plantings and improving water quality in the catchment by working together.

The group hosted a field day at Oraka Aparima Runaka marae recently, talking about the nursery run by the marae and how the two groups would work together to grow and plant trees in the catchment.

The group saw itself as a driver of change in Southland, as one of the earliest formed catchment groups in the region. . .

Too wet to sow pick-your-own verges for Palmerston North grower – Jill Galloway:

A pick-your-own garden is running to crunch point to get some vegetables planted so they’re ready for the week before Christmas, when everybody wants fresh potatoes, peas and berries.

Neville Dickey from Delta Gardens near Palmerston North said he was feeling the pinch of continual wet weather after 34 years of vegetable growing and meeting the Christmas market.

The 12 hectare block was on river silt, gravel and sand, and would dry out soon if there was a break in the weather, he said.

“There are not many years that have we have seen so much rain. We have had rain on and off since September last year.” . .


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