Rural round-up

October 22, 2017

Irrigation a ‘positive’ in arid region – Sally Rae:

When Emma Crutchley first expressed an interest in farming as a career, her father told her she could ‘‘probably make more money doing something else’’.

But there was no changing her mind, even though farming in the Maniototo was not something for the fainthearted.

She grew up on the family sheep and beef farm, with her parents Geoff and Noela, and brother Bruce, and always loved the rural lifestyle. . 

Another feather in cap for shearing champs – Nicole Sharp:

Twelve thousand people, three days of competition and shearers and woolhandlers from 32 different countries transformed the ILT Stadium Southland in February during the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Eight months on and the event has been recognised as the best international event in New Zealand.

Months after the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were held in Invercargill, the event is still causing a stir.

Not only was it a success for the town, and Kiwis Johnny Kirkpatrick and Joel Henare, but the event has also been recognised as the Best International Event in New Zealand at the New Zealand Event Awards (NZEA) last week. . .

Feds ready to engage new coalition government:

Federated Farmers says it is ready to engage and work with the new coalition government.

New Zealand First has chosen to go into partnership with Labour and the Greens for the next three years and the Federation believes there is room of opportunism for its’ members, wider primary sector, and all New Zealanders.

“We congratulate new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition partners on finding a consensus to lead the country,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National President.

“Federated Farmers is looking forward to getting around the table and talking about the issues which affect our members and farmers. The primary sector is the backbone of the New Zealand economy so we anticipate the new government will be mindful of that when formulating policy.” . . 

MPI report predicts strong growth in primary exports in 2018:

New Zealand’s primary industry exports are forecast to rise 9.3% over the next year on the back of strong dairy prices and a return to normal productivity levels, according to MPI’s latest quarterly update to its Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries.

“Exports reached $38.1 billion in the year ended June 2017, an increase of 2.4% over the previous year, and $7 million higher than we previously estimated,” says Jarred Mair, Director of Sector Policy for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Dairy prices began recovering in the past year, which boosted exports, despite weather reducing production. The forestry sector also made a strong contribution to export growth for the second consecutive year, driven by record demand for log exports to China. This offset a decline in meat and wool exports. . .

Robust primary sector a solid foundation for the incoming government:

A flourishing primary sector with exponential growth will ensure the new Labour led coalition government starts office on a solid footing, says Federated Farmers.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report shows exports reached $38.1 billion for the year to June 2017, up 2.4% on the year before.

The country’s largest export, dairy, has rebounded significantly after several years of a downturn with increased exports of over 10%.

“I’m sure the new coalition government will be delighted to know the primary sector, the backbone of the nation’s economy, is in good shape and still a significant contributor to the country’s coffers,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice President.

“Dairy is obviously resurgent and it is anticipated the primary sector as whole will continue to perform with export value set to exceed $41 billion by next June. . . 

Novel meat-enriched foos for older consumers:

Highlights
• Older consumers sometimes struggle with traditional meat foods.
•We incorporated meat into unexpected food formats under new product categories.
•Bread, spaghetti, yoghurt, ice cream and chocolate were prototyped and tested.
•Samples had greater protein content and most were acceptable to proxy consumers.
•Products could provide the elderly with means to attain their protein requirements. . .

 

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Rural round-up

October 16, 2017

Federated Farmers: Tell our good stories, don’t feed the trolls – Katie Milne:

One fallout from politicians on the election campaign trail kicking agriculture around as a political football is that lots of city folk have been left with the belief that the rural environment is in a sorry state.

There are certainly challenges ahead for improving water quality and dealing with emissions to meet our Paris Agreement commitments – but that’s true for urban communities as much as rural.

What was largely missing from the campaign rhetoric was mention of the large number of catchment improvement projects under way that are already showing significant progress, not to mention the efforts of thousands of individual farming families to fence waterways, plant riparian strips and covenant many hectares of native bush and forest on their own properties for permanent protection. . .

Taking time and talking works:

Lisa Kendall runs her own hire-a-farmer business serving lifestyle blocks in and around Karaka in South Auckland. 

She has other irons in the fire as well – she’s raising East Friesian sheep and hoping their milk will find a niche market in Auckland’s flourishing cafe scene and supermarkets.

After studying at Lincoln University she moved back north and lives in a renovated barn on her parents’ lifestyle block with her partner who works in the city.

“Often there’s a stereotype where the man does all the farming and the woman does the housework. It’s the other way round for me,” she said. . . 

Awards and schemes breeding the next generation of dairy farmers – Brad Markham:

 A fortnight ago I was standing in front of a room full of farmers in Rotorua wearing nothing more than a calf meal bag and a $6 wig. If I had to choose one word to describe the outfit it would be draughty. 

I was in the geyser city for the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ annual conference. The event attracts former winners, who now volunteer their time to help run the awards programme in 11 regions across the country. 

They all take time away from their jobs or businesses because they’re passionate about helping others learn, grow and progress through the industry.

I co-presented a couple of sessions. As I peered out at the crowd through the uneven fringe of my cheap wig, I was reminded how the dairy industry delivers to those who seek opportunity, work hard and work smart.  . . 

Rabobank Leadership Awards 2017:

Australian beef industry leader David Crombie has taken out the 2017 Rabobank Leadership Award, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to agribusiness.

Throughout his long career in agriculture, David has constantly striven to raise the bar and expand the reputation of the industry. Alongside running his own family cattle and cropping enterprise in Queensland, David has been leading and shaping the agricultural industry for many years as he has held a range of directorships including past president of the National Farmers’ Federation and previous chair of Meat & Livestock Australia. . .

Meat exports still face uncertainty:

The meat industry faces considerable uncertainty in export trade access and domestic politics, Meat Industry Association chairman John Loughlin and chief executive Tim Ritchie say.

In the foreword to MIA’s 2017 annual report they said the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership had focused the hopes of exporters on the replacement TPP 11.

“Of particular importance to us is the creation of a level playing field in certain markets, such as Japan, where competing countries already have significant tariff advantage through bilateral trade agreements,” they said.

Brexit had also created trade uncertainty for $1.5 billion of annual trade in New Zealand lamb to the European Union 28. . . 

Road out of poverty a personal story – Motlatsi Musi:

As a child, I would collect dry cattle dung on the outskirts of town. My family burned it to cook food and keep warm. For protein, we often ate locusts. They’re crunchy and you get used to the taste.

Those were desperate times, before I had a chance to settle down and become a farmer. Then agriculture pulled me out of poverty and gave me a better life.

Today, I own 21 hectares of land near Johannesburg, South Africa. Only about a third of it is arable but I rent more, growing maize (corn), beans, and potatoes and also raising pigs and cows. . .

 


4,000 cattle to be culled

October 13, 2017

The Ministry of Primary Industries has ordered around 4,000 cows from seven farms to be culled to prevent the spread of Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is moving forward with control measures to prevent further spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with plans being developed with farmers to cull animals from the known infected farms.

“Since the start of this response in late July, we’ve carried out tens of thousands of tests of the infected, neighbouring and trace properties as well as district-wide testing in Waimate and Waitaki, and nationwide testing of bulk milk,” says MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn.

“The only positive results for the disease have been on 7 infected properties, leading us to be cautiously optimistic that we are dealing with a localised area of infection around Oamaru,” Mr Gwyn says.

“To prevent further spread of the disease, around 4,000 cattle on 5 of the 7 infected properties will need to be culled and a programme put in place to decontaminate the properties and then re-populate the farms. The 2 other properties have had a small number of animals culled already and no cattle remain.

“This whole operation is about managing the disease while keeping our future options open. We want to minimise the risk of further spread of the disease.  Moving ahead with depopulation of the affected farms will allow them to get back to normal business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Currently there is no need to remove animals from other farms in the Van Leeuwen group that are under restrictions. Testing of animals on those farms continues and should infection be found, they will be subject to the same measures.

In the coming weeks MPI will be working closely with the animal industry bodies, the Rural Support Trust and others to support the affected farmers.

DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb New Zealand support the actions MPI is taking, while at the same time recognising that this is a difficult time for the farmers involved. The industry bodies believe the measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where Mycoplasma bovis is not endemic, which is why the industry groups support such significant measures to keep it that way.

“The coming weeks will present new challenges and will be tough for these affected farmers. MPI will work with those affected to make the process as straight forward as possible. I’d like to particularly thank the owners, sharemilkers and farm workers involved for their ongoing support, recognising this is a very difficult time for them,” Mr Gwyn says.

“I want to be very clear that this isn’t something that’s going to start tomorrow. This is a big logistical exercise, it needs to be thoroughly planned and co-ordinated and we will be doing it with the farmers who know their businesses best,” Mr Gwyn says.

MPI anticipates the first stage of the process – removing the animals – will start after consultation with affected parties. Most of the cattle will be sent for slaughter in accordance with standard practice.

All premises, transportation vehicles and equipment involved in culling will follow a strict decontamination and disinfection protocol to mitigate the risk of spreading the disease.

Once depopulation is completed, there will be at least a 60 day stand-down period where no cattle will be permitted on the farms. During this time the infected properties will be cleaned and disinfected.

Following this work, the aim will be to get cattle back on the farms as quickly as possible. Surveillance, monitoring and testing will remain in place for a period as a further safeguard.

The affected farmers can apply for compensation for verifiable losses relating to MPI exercising legal powers under the Biosecurity Act.

The disease carries no risk to human health but there is no cure for it. Culling is a drastic step but it has the support of affected farmers and industry groups including DairyNZ:

Dairy farmers around the country will be reassured by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) decision to cull animals on farms infected with the disease Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Since M. bovis was first identified in July farmers have been on high alert and worried about the impact of this disease,” says Dr Mackle.

“DairyNZ is supportive of MPI’s decision to step up control measures by culling these animals. However, we also know that the decision will create heartache for the affected farmers, and our sympathies are with all those involved on-farm.”

Dr Mackle says the decision follows extensive work and testing by MPI, with significant support from DairyNZ and many other agencies. Since the disease was first identified in July over 30,000 tests have been carried out by MPI.

MPI is increasingly confident that infection has not spread outside the primary farming enterprise involved with this outbreak, or any of the other farms also under restricted place notices.

Over the coming weeks there will be continued monitoring and testing in the interests of shutting down this disease in New Zealand.

He says biosecurity is fundamental to the future success of all New Zealand’s primary sectors, dairy included. . . 

This is echoed by Beef + Lamb NZ:

. . . James Parsons, chairman of B+LNZ, said: “The decision will obviously have significant implications for the farm businesses and the rural communities affected by this disease outbreak and we wish to see all available support and compensation provided to those affected. We believe these measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease.

“New Zealand takes its biosecurity very seriously and is one of the few countries in the world where this disease isn’t endemic, so that’s why the industry is willing to support such significant measures to keep it that way.” 

Federated Farmers also supports the move:

The decision to destroy stock which have been in contact with affected animals is the only option which will ensure peace of mind for the rest of New Zealand’s dairy and beef farmers, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We also support the continuation of strict movement controls on the remaining 13 properties that have been placed under Restricted Place Notices.

“These restrictions have significant implications for the people concerned, and all other farmers, so this action is essential to keep the option of eradication on the table.”

M. bovis infected stock can be severely affected by the disease, causing pain and suffering.

“We recognise the disease has come at a significant emotional cost to the affected farming families and their animals. The process of culling whole herds will be very stressful for the people concerned.

“But the disease does not respond to treatment and cannot be vaccinated against. Culling is the only logical option to prevent ongoing suffering of the animals.”

From a national perspective, our size, relatively low population and geographic isolation gives us the ability to manage and attempt to eradicate biosecurity incursions, when other countries cannot.

“M. bovis is found in most countries, including Australia, this is a disease that we definitely don’t want and we should seek to eradicate it, if feasible.

“We’ve remained free of many pest animals and pest plants (weeds) and diseases that have decimated other country’s livestock industries. For the sake of our livestock industries and the economy, it’s crucial we act now to ensure this remains the case,” Katie says.

Culling the cattle is necessary but that won’t make it any easier.

When some of our cows tested positive for TB a few years ago we had to cull a few dozen from the herd.

That was hard enough but a very small loss compared with the thousands to be culled on these farms.

MPI will pay compensation based on the commercial value of the stock but that won’t cover the loss of income or the costs of rebuilding the herd. Nor will it replace generations of breeding that went in to building up the herd.


Rural round-up

October 12, 2017

Better communication will bridge rural urban divide – Hayden Dillon:

The farming community needs to step up to help lessen the rift between city and country.

I believe the debates during the course of the recent election campaign oversimplified some issues that are core to the agri sector, such as water and soil quality. These have created divisions that are not helping New Zealand move forward.

As with many complex issues, the rush to simplify the discussions and debate has seen farming, in particular dairying, blamed for many of our environmental problems.

That’s simply not correct. . .

Appreciate world’s best office :

Stopping to appreciate the small things in life really helps people handle the big stuff. 

That was one of the messages coming through loud and clear from farmers involved in rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, project leader Gerard Vaughan said.

Over the last two years Vaughan and video maker Nigel Beckford have been busy interviewing Kiwi farmers about what they do to keep well and avoid burnout.

They’ve been sharing the best tips and advice in short video clips on the Farmstrong website – http://www.farmstrong.co.nz. . . 

It’s not smart to tough it out on your own:

It’s Mental Health Week and the theme is “Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing”.

The idea is to escaping stressful or ‘same old rut’ work and home environments to eat your lunch in a park or at the beach, to take the family for a weekend bush walk, etc.  It can lift spirits, put you back in touch with Nature, and get you thinking about your health, your priorities – and whether you may need to reach out for help or advice.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne welcomes the focus on mental health and talking through issues and feelings with others.  “Our great outdoors can also be a wonderful tonic.”

But for rural folk, Mother Nature can also be a source of considerable stress.  Storms, floods, ailing livestock, droughts, etc., can ratchet up financial woes, relationship strains and the feeling ‘it’s all too much’.. . .

Mental health support needed for farmers – Alexa Cook:

A Waikato farmer is pushing for the government to provide better mental health support for the rural sector.

Research shows that the suicide rate in New Zealand’s rural sector is up to 50 percent higher than in urban areas.

Dairy farmer Richard Cookson has had his own struggle with mental health, and said while there is good crisis support for farmers, such as the Rural Support Trust, there isn’t enough for depression.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Mr Cookson said a good start would be free counselling to get farmers in the door, but the sector also needs quite specific help. . . 

Media accepts pseudoscience drivel unchallenged – Doug Edmeades:

 Damn it all. Someone is not listening and I am now forced to repeat myself. My last column ended thus:

“Without an independent principled fourth estate we may be drifting away from being a society in which our policies are based on evidence, rational thought and logic analysis and which encourages and embraces criticism. If we are not careful we could drift back to a time when humans believed in alchemy, witches and taniwha”.

In this last week, as if on cue, three media outlets coughed up three items of demonstrable drivel.

Exhibit 1: The NZ Farmers Weekly (October 2) gave their opinion page to Phyllis Tichinin in an article headlined, Urea cascade cause of problems. She attributes many animal health, soil and environmental problems to the overuse of urea. Opinion yes, evidence no. Her whole thesis fails the logical test of cause and effect. How can one thing – in this case urea – have so many unrelated effects? As one qualified reader expressed it to me: “I struggle to find one fact or one statement that isn’t a falsehood.” . . .

Is this synthetic food thing for real? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Synthetic food is being talked about rather more than it is being eaten.

The balance might change in future as the technologies develop, but at the moment there is more hype and interest than hunger and intake.

The Impossible Burger seems to be the focus at the moment. The burger is made in the laboratory from wheat (grown in a field) and involves a ‘haem’ from legumes. The haem is pink (it is responsible for the colour in healthy, nitrogen-fixing clover root nodules) and so confers the burger with ‘bleeding’ properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Doug Avery – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Marlborough Proud Farmer Doug Avery whose Resilient Farmer platform aims to deliver powerful support to New Zealand farmers across the three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Through road shows and ongoing mentoring, he helps farmers to adopt new thinking and practices. Check out his best selling book The Resilient Farmer, and his website http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz for more information .
How long have I been farming?

46 years but I am only involved in the directorship of the business now and financial control.
What sort of farming are you involved in?
We grow wool, meat, crops , dairy support and people. . .

Fieldays growth underlines primary sector importance:

The importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy is emphasised today by Fieldays’ 2017 Economic Impact Report.

A report prepared by the University of Waikato Management School’s Institute of Business Research, reveals that the biggest agricultural expo in the southern hemisphere, generated an estimated $238 million to New Zealand’s GDP, an increase of 24.7 per cent when compared to 2016.

Federated Farmers’ Board member Chris Lewis is particularly familiar with Fieldays and regards the event as a key indicator to how the country is faring. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 10, 2017

Dairy company Synlait to spend on research at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

A rival to dairy giant Fonterra could spend millions of dollars on research in Manawatū.

Canterbury-based dairy company Synlait will use some of its $7 million annual research and development budget at Massey University and its FoodPILOT​ unit.

It wants to spend the money on innovation, specifically on processing and packaging, as well as new products, and plans to develop a new centre for its operations. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk something special – Bernard May:

Mataura Valley Milk is creating something special just north of Gore.

We’re building a highly specialised nutrition plant unlike any other in Australasia to manufacture premium nutritional formulas.

It’s a completely different business from a dairy company, as we will be making highly functional and high-value products to order.

Mataura Valley Milk is a positive, and many would argue necessary, addition to the dairy industry in Southland. . . 

Tihoi Farm finds right balance:

Taking part in DairyNZ’s P21 research programme has helped Parkhill Farms to not only reduce its environmental impact, but also maintain profitability.

Chris Robinson of Parkhill Farms values having a choice about which farming system he wants to run. However, he also values water quality and understands that regional regulations limiting nutrient loss from his operation will affect his farming practice.

In 2015, DairyNZ was searching for a commercial farm on which to apply research proven at a farmlet scale. For Chris and brother-in-law Richard Webber, it was a great opportunity to investigate changes to their farming system to meet potentially conflicting goals. And so the P21 Focus Farm was created. . . 

Feds calls for stable and responsible government negotiations:

 

Next week promises to be a defining period for negotiations to form a new government and Federated Farmers is asking that whoever governs is pragmatic about future actions.

“Federated Farmers is ready to work with any government. We are an advocacy organisation for farmers, it is our job to work with all government, and opposition, representatives,” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Rural video blogger shares positive farming stories – Brad Markham:

Staring down the barrel of a camera, Sophie Brown is momentarily distracted by a noisy, low-flying plane overhead.

The usually unflappable Taranaki farmer quickly tilts her camera skyward, attempting to catch a glimpse of the winged intruder.

The chatty blonde’s out in an old barn introducing viewers of her video blog to the 80 bull calves she’s rearing this spring. . .

Farmers Fast Five: Sophie Brown – Claire Inkson:

Proud to be a Farmer Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Heels 2 Boots Video Blogger and Proud Farmer Sophie Brown

How long have you been farming?

I honestly don’t know when I became a farmer. Coming from the city, farming wasn’t natural to me, so when I started dating my husband eight years ago, everything farm related was new! Three years ago when we moved to the new family farm, I gave up my day job, so I guess I became a ‘farmer in training’ then! I only recently, on a departure card at the airport, described myself as a farmer, that was a big step for me! . . 


No more Rural Delivery?

October 10, 2017

The future of Rural Delivery is under threat after missing out on NZ On Air funding:

Federated Farmers is disappointed to learn that TVNZ’s Rural Delivery programme has missed out on the latest round of NZ on Air funding.

The programme which profiles rural New Zealand and the primary sector, highlighting farmer ingenuity and innovation is now facing an uncertain future as it considers other funding options.

“One has to question the decision making at the NZ on Air. From what I know their programming is supposed to reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture, ” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National President.

“Rural Delivery surely meets that criteria and has done for the past 13 years-so what has changed?”

“This show has been attracting on average over 50,000 viewers per episode, which in the today’s competitive broadcasting environment is pretty reasonable for screening at 7am on weekends.”

The timing of decision is also unfortunate as the agriculture sector, especially farming is becoming increasingly concerned about its image among urban New Zealanders highlighted by the recent political campaigning.

“We’ve been saying this for some time now, the need for urban and rural New Zealand to reconnect. Our challenge, as farmers, is to tell our story and we rely on programming like Rural Delivery to help get that message across.”

Katie says the programme deserves a future and perhaps a different time slot from the current weekend time, would attract a bigger and more diverse audience.

“I’m not convinced that NZ on Air’s decision reflects the opinions of most kiwis. This type of programming is still popular with the mainstream and if it can’t be saved it will be a sad day for New Zealand broadcasting, as was the case with the The Dog Show,” says Katie.

Rural Delivery is available on demand  so the 7am Saturday time slot isn’t much of an issue.

The programme is sponsored by Rabobank and it might be able to find more sponsors but the failure to get NZ On Air funding threatens its ability to continue.

The loss of one of the few  programmes which informs and educates, treats its audience as intelligent and showcases positive rural people and developments is concerning.

New Zealand is unique in the developed world for the importance of agriculture to its economy.

When the majority of the population are urban based and have little connection to or knowledge of agriculture and wider rural issues,  the media plays a vital role in bridging the rural-urban divide.

There aren’t many quality planks in the bridge between town and country. It would be a great loss if this one was cut out.


Rural round-up

August 29, 2017

A2 Milk outperforms once again – Keith Woodford:

The a2 Milk Company (ATM) took a big step forward with its 2016/17 results which were released on 23 August. Sales were up 56 percent from the previous year to $549 million, and post-tax profits tripled to $NZ90 million. The market was impressed.

Everyone knew that a strong result was in the offing, and so the shares had already risen 50 percent over the preceding three months, and almost trebled in value on a 12-month basis. The share price then rose another 15 percent over the following three days to close at $5.74 at week’s end.

The most important messages within the annual report were not about the present but the future. The picture drawn by CEO Geoff Babidge was of a fast-growing company with no debt and lots of free cash in the bank to fund ongoing developments. . . 

A School of Rural Medicine to be established:

The Government will establish a new School of Rural Medicine within the next three years to produce more doctors for our rural communities, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

“Every New Zealander deserves quality healthcare services, and we want to grow the number of doctors in rural and regional areas to make it easier for people in those areas to access other key health services,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The new School of Rural Medicine will be specifically geared toward meeting the challenges faced by high need and rural areas of the country, and will produce around 60 additional doctors per year. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led government firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to vote on ending Ruataniwha funding, writing-off $14M debt – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will vote this week on whether to stop any further investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme and write-off a $14 million debt owed by its investment company.

The vote on Wednesday comes as a result of a report into options following the Supreme Court decision to reject a Department of Conservation land swap need to create the storage scheme reservoir. 

The council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co (HBRIC), owes $14 million to the council made up of $7 million of charges and $7 million of cash advances, according to the council report. For its part, HBRIC has an intangible asset of $19.5 million on its books related to the feasibility and development costs of RWSS. This was funded with the $14 million advance from the council and $5.5 million from external debt. . . 

Feds Wonder Why We Would Need A Tourist Tax?:

Labour’s suggestion of taxing international visitors to raise funds to pay for tourism infrastructure raises questions about why we can’t find the money already from existing tax.

Federated Farmers has been concerned about the pressure councils, particularly small rural councils, are under to maintain services for tourists, including public toilets and other facilities.

“We agree that tourism is placing increasing pressure on our nation’s infrastructure and these costs are being unfairly borne by regional economies.

“But surely it is possible to find the additional targeted funding for councils in need from within this already increasing area of tax take?” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Behind the hype of lab-grown meat -Ryan F. Mandelbaum:

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells. One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger. And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat. Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals. But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. . .

Wine exports reach record high:

The export value of New Zealand wine has reached a record high according to the 2017 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers. Now valued at $1.66 billion, up 6% in June year end 2017, wine now stands as New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export.

Over the past two decades the wine industry has achieved average annual export growth of 17% a year states the Report. “With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

More Kiwis than ever are enjoying speciality cheese:

As Kiwis prepare to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month, sales data shows we are enjoying more locally made cheese than ever before.

Nielsen data shows supermarket sales of New Zealand Specialty cheese have increased in value by 6% in the 12 months to August 2017 . What’s more, in the first quarter of 2017 Nielsen says 771, 383 Kiwi purchased specialty cheese, an increase of more than 20% compared with the same period in 2014 .

Every October the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) members host a variety of tastings, inviting cultured Kiwis to events across the country to meet cheese makers and taste their wares. . . 

Largest ever Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

2017 sees the largest National Final ever held for the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition. Taking place next Tuesday 29th August at Villa Maria in Marlborough, there will be a total of six national finalists representing six of our wine regions: Tim Adams – Auckland/Northern; Ben Richards – Hawke’s Bay; Ben McNab Jones – Wairarapa; Laurie Stradling – Nelson; Anthony Walsh – Marlborough and Annabel Bulk – Central Otago.

Bulk is the first woman in the competition since 2011, so it is great to see viticulture is very much a serious career option for both men and women. . .  


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