Rural round-up

13/05/2022

Farmers have good reason to be nervous about the ETS – Campbell Stewart:

As consultation by He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN, the primary sector climate action partnership) has rounded up, there are still a vast number of farmers who are nervous, confused and angry about what the future for managing agricultural emissions in New Zealand might look like, and for good reason.

The fast pace of law-making in New Zealand in recent years is unsettling. Not only for the rural community trying to get their heads around what it all means for them, but for a range of sectors, including participants in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

Farmers are grappling with HWEN’s two options for managing agricultural emissions – an on-farm levy or a processor levy. But the alternative of a blanket inclusion of agriculture in the ETS, which is the option if HWEN cannot convince the Government to adopt its suggested approach, is a particularly frightening prospect.

In its current form, the ETS isn’t working well for participants, particularly foresters. Adding complexity and workload for officials by including agriculture would be a disaster. . . 

Clock ticking on plan to keep agriculture out of the Emissions Trading Scheme – Stephen Ward:

The clock is ticking towards the end of May deadline for finalising a scheme to keep agriculture out the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), an issue of key interest to Waikato’s extensive dairy sector and other agricultural players.

Ngahinapouri dairy farmer Jim van der Poel, the chair of agriculture heavyweight DairyNZ, believes the final proposal from sector group He Waka Eke Noa will ultimately help farmers and others manage emissions-related financial risk better. Overall, he said it would also do more to assist Aotearoa to meet its international emissions reduction obligations as the world tackles climate change.

Besides his organisation, He Waka Eke Noa involves Beef and Lamb NZ, Dairy Companies Association, Federated Farmers, Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ, the Federation of Māori Authorities, Deer Industry Association, Meat Industry Association and Apiculture NZ.

Emissions related to nitrous oxide (from the likes of fertiliser and stock urine) and methane (from cows belching) are covered by what will be proposed by He Waka Eke Noa. It doesn’t cover farmers’ fossil fuel-related emissions. . . 

NZ dairy farmer looks to head up world body

West Coast dairy farmer and former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is making a bid to head up the World Farmers’ Organisation, a Rome-based advocacy group that brings together farmer organisations and agricultural co-operatives from across the world. 

Milne has served on the organisation’s board for nearly five years and is standing for election as president at the upcoming general assembly in Budapest from June 7-10.

She is one of three candidates, something she says is positive.

“It’s healthy to have options and a lot of diversity of thought and debate on the way forward,” she says.  . . 

BNZ launches incentives for ‘green’ farmers

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has launched an Agribusiness Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL) product available to all New Zealand farmers.

The term loan, a SLL available to all farmers no matter the size of their farm or industry, offers interest cost savings for achieving environmental and social targets including: Greenhouse gas reductions; eco-system protection; improved care for staff; protecting waterways; improving biodiversity; and animal welfare.

It is the first time a SLL has been available as a loan product to all New Zealand farmers. Environmental and Social targets are set and agreed with BNZ and progress independently verified annually.

“New Zealand’s farmers are working hard to achieve environmental and social goals and we want to support and incentivise their efforts,” says Dana Muir, BNZ head of natural capital. . . 

Turning theory into practicality – Leo Argent:

Kirsten Duess believes the findings of her research work into soil drainage in Southland will have benefits for other parts of New Zealand as well.

The final-year Lincoln University PhD candidate was the 2021 winner of the NZ Society of Soil Science/Fertiliser Association of NZ Postgraduate Bursary Award. The $5,000 award recognises the efforts and likely contribution to New Zealand soil science arising from a doctorate study.

Duess’ postgraduate research saw her lead a long-term field study on soil and catchment hydrology in Southland. The findings will help understand the role mole and tile drains play in that region’s unique landscape.

“We were interested in understanding the hydrology of a small catchment that is drained by a mole and tile drainage system on a sheep farm near Otahuti in Southland,” she told Rural News. . .

 

Pork industry wants welfare code extended to imports :

More than 3000 people have signed a petition calling for imported pork to meet the same animal welfare standards as pork produced here.

Started by Frances Clement, a policy advisor to statutory industry board, NZ Pork, the petition was presented to parliament on Tuesday.

NZ Pork chief executive, Brent Kleiss said New Zealand’s pork sector had high welfare standards compared to many other countries with less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes.

But over 60 percent of pork consumed in New Zealand was imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country he said. . . 


Rural round-up

11/05/2022

Leave rural water schemes alone – David Anderson:

Rural water schemes need to be exempted from the Government’s proposed Three Waters reforms.

That’s the belief of West Otago farmer and member on the Glenkenich rural water scheme Hugh Gardyne. In a submission to the Rural Water Supplies Technical Working Group on the impacts of the Three Waters reforms, Gardyne says, “the objectives of virtually every stratum of Three Waters reform are contrary to the achievements and intent of rural water schemes”.

He argues that because rural water schemes (RWS) vary so much, it is so impossible to get consensus and “one size does not fit all”. The working group was set up by Local Government Minister and architect of the reforms Nanaia Mahuta to work with officials from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Taumata Arowai to develop policy options and advice in respect of rural community schemes around the new water entities proposed in her Three Waters reforms.

It was expected to report back to DIA at the end of April. . . 

Feds: inflexible FPAs are a solution looking for a problem :

Federated Farmers is joining the fight against yet another case of politicians intruding with unnecessary, inflexible, one-size-fits-all legislation – this time over workers’ wages and conditions.

“There’s nothing fair about so-called Fair Pay Agreements,” Federated Farmers national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“They’re just a straightjacket that lock employers and employees into a national set of pay and conditions rules that might suit a minority but remove all ability of businesses and staff to agree on terms that suit their own needs and local conditions.”

The threshold for initiating an FPA is 10% of workers or 1000 workers in the identified group, whichever is less. Once an FPA is agreed, all employers and employees across an entire industry or occupation are locked into the conditions of that FPA. . .

Stop restricting food production – Peter Buckley:

Under the Paris Accord on climate change, Article 2 (b) states:

The aim of the agreement is to have a stronger response to the danger of climate change; it seeks to enhance the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change through:

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; . . 

Concern draft code will hurt piglet welfare – Colin Williscroft:

The recently released draft welfare code for pigs will not only have a negative effect on farmers and piglet welfare, it will also affect the staff who look after them and consumers who want to buy fresh NZ pork, Manawatū pig farmer Andrew Managh says.

The recently released draft welfare code for pigs will not only have a negative effect on farmers and piglet welfare, it will also affect the staff who look after them and consumers who want to buy fresh NZ pork, Manawatū pig farmer Andrew Managh says.

Managh, who farms about 700 hectares near Halcombe, with about 6000 pigs on the property on any given day, says despite the draft code seeking to improve pig welfare, in a practical sense it means farmers are being asked to invest money into something that will not achieve that goal.

He says under the proposed changes, farrowing pens at his and his wife Geraldine’s Ratanui Farm property will need to increase from their current 4.5 square metres to 6.5m2 and he can’t see the benefit in that. . . .

Southland turns a corner as dry conditions ease in the region :

The drought conditions plaguing Southland farmers have eased, after some much-needed rain in the region.

NIWA’s latest hotspot watch shows dry conditions have lessened after rain in the region, though it is still dryer than usual for this time of year.

As of 3 May conditions were dry in parts of the upper South Island, much of Otago, eastern Southland, and Stewart Island, NIWA’s New Zealand Drought Index map showed.

Eastern Otago was also very dry, NIWA said. . .

A dog’s journey: my road to recovery – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I know I usually only write one column at the end of the year, but I’ve had a terrible time and just need to share.

It all started back in early February.

Steve, the boss and my mate, noticed I was a bit off. I’m usually full of beans but wasn’t feeling myself.

So, he rested me for the week. . .


Rural round-up

10/05/2022

Concern over widespread dry conditions – Neal Wallace and Gerald Piddock:

Dry autumn conditions are spreading throughout the country, with most regions seeking rain and forecasters warning conditions are likely to remain dry in the coming months.

Recent rain and warm weather has boosted feed on parched Southland and Otago farms which are delicately poised heading into winter, while Waikato and South Auckland farmers are being told to plan for a possible drought.

Dry autumn conditions are widespread through both islands, prompting farmers to reconsider winter feed budgets to account for lower than desired pasture cover.

The south of the South Island and Waikato appear hardest hit, missing the usual autumn flush leaving some farmers with low pasture cover, low supplementary reserves and fingers crossed for a mild winter. . . 

Health restructure ignores rural New Zealand :

The Government is squandering an opportunity to prioritise rural health and enshrine it in legislation, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill sets out the framework for Labour’s ill-timed health restructure and after the second reading in parliament yesterday, there is still a woeful lack of focus on the health needs of rural New Zealand.

“The genesis of this restructure was the Heather Simpson-led review of the health and disability sector. It mentioned rural health at least 30 times and made it very plain that rural services should be specifically planned for, recognising the unique challenges of living rurally.

“This idea is further emphasised by submissions made during the select committee process. . . 

Fonterra’s new capital structure gets closer – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s new capital structure brings its own risks, designed for choppy seas but not for a storm

The Government has been wrestling for many months as to how to respond to Fonterra’s proposed new capital structure, which its farmer-members voted for overwhelmingly.  The Ministry of Primary Industries, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, has now released a discussion paper indicating the Government proposed response. Essentially the Government is conceding to Fonterra’s wishes, but with some shackles proposed to constrain Fonterra‘s subsequent behaviours.

To understand what is happening, it is necessary to go back to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. The Fonterra that was formed at that time, with 96% of the national milk production under its control for processing and marketing, would not have been allowed if assessed under the Commerce Act. It would have run foul of restrictions on monopolies.

Accordingly, special legislation was put in place via the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) by the Labour Government of the day. Regulations were set in place allowing Fonterra to act as an effective monopoly in relation to marketing New Zealand milk overseas, but constrained in exerting monopoly power in the local New Zealand market.   . . 

Steady increase in beef cattle numbers :

Beef cattle numbers increased in 2021, while the number of sheep dipped slightly, Stats NZ said today.

Final figures from the 2021 Agricultural Production Survey showed that the number of beef cattle was up by 2 percent (82,000) from the previous year and there was a total of 4 million at 30 June 2021. Total beef exports were $3.6 billion for the year ended 30 June 2021.

“The total number of beef cattle has been increasing steadily since 2016. Just over two-thirds of all beef cattle are farmed in the North Island,” agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said. 

Sheep Numbers Down Slightly . . 

Smart spade one of new technologies for forest silviculture project :

A ‘smart spade’ which identifies exactly where to plant a tree seedling is just one of the new technologies in the seven-year $25.5 million Precision Silviculture development project.

The newly elected President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the just announced joint government funded project to bring mechanisation and robots to the production of tree seedlings and the tending of plantations covers a wide range of technologies.

“It’s not a single Eureka discovery which is going to make all this work. It’s combining, for instance, a planter with a sensor and linking it to electronic mapping. The map sends a beep signal to the planter that they need to go a couple of metres up or along the slope to put the seedling in. The end result is a much more optimally spaced plantation forest which makes for better growth and easier and safer harvesting.”

Grant Dodson says that the growth in mechanical harvesting over the past decade already shows that using machinery results in greater productivity and a much safer workplace. . . 

The West’s role in Africa’s day of the locusts – Richard Tren & Jasson Urbach,:

Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport. The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead. Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.

The locusts that almost brought down the 737 are part of the worst infestation to hit Africa in 75 years. Swarms of locusts can blanket 460 miles at a time and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation a day; and the grasshopper-like insects increase logarithmically, meaning locust swarms could be 500 times bigger in six months.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the threat “unprecedented,” but attempts at aerial spraying have been too little, too late — largely because of FAO’s own politically-driven agenda to limit pesticides — and experts fear Africa may once again be tilting toward widespread famine.

As poor farmers futilely shoo the voracious insects away with sticks, this modern plague highlights the urgent need for pesticides to protect crops and save lives. It also casts into stark relief the tragic consequences of UN, European and environmentalist campaigns to deny these life-saving chemicals to developing nations. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/04/2022

The loneliness of the long distance rural midwife – Vanessa Bellew:

Pregnant women in one town in Southland have lost the last remaining midwife and are now served by maternity care based 100km-160km away

Te Anau’s only midwife is the latest casualty of the beleaguered maternity system in the South and now it appears the town’s maternal and child hub is being downgraded before it is even fully up and running.

The Southern District Health Board told Newsroom the town and nearby area did “not have sufficient” pregnant women or baby numbers to sustain a maternal and child hub and a full-time midwife in the town.

Health professionals Newsroom spoke to were concerned that the health board was using inaccurate and outdated statistics to justify reducing maternity services further and for not funding a locum midwife. . . 

Christopher Luxon on IPCC climate change report NZ’s dairy herd – The Country:

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is not a fan of culling New Zealand’s dairy herd.

“I’ve got no time for that whatsoever,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Recently, Greenpeace called for the Government to “halve the herd”, following the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Luxon said there was no need for this, as Kiwi farmers were already “the most carbon-efficient in the world”. . . 

Solar powered smart cow collars come to Taranaki farms – Elijah Hill:

The best dressed Taranaki dairy cows this year may just be the ones wearing solar-powered, time-saving, smart collars.

New Zealand tech company Halter, which fits solar-powered, GPS-enabled smart collars to cows, is expanding to the region as well as Central Plateau, Otago and Southland.

Cows are trained to respond to sound and vibrations from the collars which allow farmers to ‘steer’ the cows around the farm.

This allows farmers to call cows to the milking shed using their phone, or set ‘virtual fences’ and break feed while having a cup of tea at home. . . 

Are pine trees the problem or the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Pine-forest regulation proposals are creating lots of heat with big implications for land-use and the landscape. 

Right now, there is a fervent debate underway as to where pine trees fit within our future landscape. On one side stand Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw. They are proposing that existing legislation should be reversed so that pine trees would only be for production forestry and not so-called permanent forests.

Minister Nash has recently come to a position that only native forests should be permanent, and he is supported by many who hold strong environmental values. Dame Anne Salmond is one of the leaders in that camp.

In contrast, Minister Shaw is concerned that if permanent pine forests are allowed, then too much carbon will be stored in this way and urban people will no longer be forced to modify their carbon emitting behaviours. There are some huge ironies there. . . 

The great Kiwi muster – an ancient tradition with a bougie hut – Olivia Caldwell:

Every autumn, teams of musterers take to the South Island high country to corral flocks of sheep for winter. It’s a custom resistant to change, technology and modern living. Almost. OLIVIA CALDWELL reports.

It’s three o’clock on a cold autumn morning up in the mountains of Lake Heron station.

The first and fittest musterer gets out of bed and walks several kilometres to find where the sheep are scattered around hills.

He’s 17, and it’s called delegating. The seven other team members get to sleep-in until 4am, when they get a wake-up call, followed by a giant breakfast of bacon and eggs. They will need it. Over the next 12 hours, they’ll cover 20 kilometres and 2000 metres elevation on foot. . . 

 

New service to help Ukrainian seasonal farm workers in Scotland :

A new service is to be established to offer vital advice and urgent practical support to Ukrainian seasonal horticultural workers in Scotland.

Ukrainian workers play a key role in soft fruit and vegetable production in Scotland, but due to the war they are facing a range of concerns about their work, their homes, and their futures.

The new Worker Support Centre, run by Scottish charity JustRight Scotland, will provide key support to workers on these issues.

It will also provide immigration advice to enable them to stay and work in Scotland while returning to Ukraine is still unsafe. . .


Food security under threat

12/04/2022

The war in Ukraine is threatening world food supplies.

World Vision shares the concern:

World Vision New Zealand warns that the crisis in Ukraine and the downstream impact on world wheat supplies threatens to plunge millions into an acute hunger crisis.

Ukraine and Russia are responsible for nearly a third of the world’s wheat exports, but the conflict has curtailed the planting season and caused a spike in the global price of wheat.

World Vision New Zealand National Director, Grant Bayldon, fears that the reduced wheat supply and its soaring price will severely impact emergency food supplies.

“Wheat is a staple in diets around the world and is a key component in emergency food rations. Any crash in wheat supply will have a devastating impact on millions of families in Afghanistan, Syria, and Eastern Africa who are reliant on emergency supplies to feed their children,” he says.

“We are already hearing stories of mothers in East Africa who are checking the pulse of their babies during the night to make sure they are still alive. What a devastating and disturbing ritual to have to perform each night.”

Bayldon says World Vision partners with the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver food aid in countries grappling with starvation and malnutrition, but the WFP gets half its grains from Ukraine and Russia.

“The crisis in Ukraine is rippling beyond Europe in a catastrophic way. We are concerned that the food price rises will mean more and more people in vulnerable countries will struggle to buy food and will be pushed to the brink of starvation,” he says.

In seven East African countries alone, more than 28 million people currently need humanitarian assistance due to varying levels of food insecurity. Around one in five of these are children who are suffering high levels of malnutrition.

“Starvation is devastating. We know that mothers in conflict zones often say to us that the hardest thing for them to bear is not the violence, but it is watching their children slowly perish from starvation while they are helpless to do anything. This is the brutal experience for many mothers in Eastern Africa right now,” he says. . . 

Crops should be being sown in Ukraine now. It will be too late soon and crops that aren’t sown can’t be harvested.

A food shortage could be seen as good news for New Zealand when we produce so much more food than we need but it’s not.

We don’t produce all the different types of food we need and with the costs for inputs like fertiliser increasing, profits are eroded, even if prices increase.

Price increases are bad news for consumers who have to pay more for food and that hits the poorest people and the poorest countries the hardest.

Food shortages and higher prices are sowing the seeds for both a humanitarian crisis and political instability.


Rural round-up

30/03/2022

Beaumont Bark Up a fun way to support Farmstrong – Evelyn Thorn:

Mental health is a continuing issue for the rural sector, and what better way than a traditional bark up to both combat the strains of farm life, and do its bit to bring the issue to wider attention through its supportive fundraising efforts. Reporter Evelyn Thorn whiled away a couple of hours at the second annual Beaumont Bark Up recently, and talked to organiser Jana Fransbach to find out why she is supporting a cause close to her heart.

This year marked the second Beaumont Bark Up, where dogs from just down the road, to as far afield as Owaka, travelled to put their best bark forward and compete for prizes.

Organised by Beaumont Hotel bar manager and local shepherd Jana Fransbach, the event was held not only to bring local farmers and shepherds together to the hotel for some laughs and fun, but also to raise funds for rural wellbeing charity Farmstrong.

Proceeds from the evening, including a modest, $10 entry fee, went to Farmstrong, a national programme dedicated to supporting mental health within the community of all New Zealand farmers. . . 

Dairy farmers keep Karen’s dream alive :

Dairy farmers are keeping a dream alive for Karen Chapman, who grew up on a dairy farm in the small Waikato settlement of Otaua and has only ever wanted to milk cows.

Karen has been supported by a network of dairy farmers in and around Pukekohe, many of them participants in the IHC Calf & Rural Scheme fundraising scheme, who raise animals and donate the proceeds to IHC.

This year, the IHC Calf & Rural Scheme marks its 40th anniversary by celebrating all the farmers who have made lives better for people with intellectual disabilities in their communities. Over those 40 years, the scheme has raised $40 million.

Karen’s dream looked pretty hopeless because her Dad Noel Chapman, a sharemilker, died while she was still a teenager and she and her Mum Olive shifted into Pukekohe. Then, in a double tragedy, her mother died suddenly too, and Karen moved into IHC residential care. . . 

Plan to plant half land in trees for timber – Sandy Eggleston:

The new owner of Wisp Hill Station plans to grow trees for timber on about half of the 5500ha property and is not carbon farming.

Last year, the station was bought by Ingka Investments from Southland brothers Leonard and Graham Ward.

Ingka Group is the largest IKEA retailer and represents about 90% of IKEA retail sales. It has three business areas: IKEA Retail, Ingka Centres and Ingka Investments.

Ingka Investments forestry portfolio manager Andriy Hrytsyuk said while agriculture had been an important part of the New Zealand economy, forestry also had a role to play. . . 

Nursery growers’ green shoots for industry :

A new programme to draw people into the primary sector has hit a major milestone – pairing up an aspiring nursery grower with an industry mentor.

Primary ITO’s PiPI (Pathways into Primary Industries) is at a pilot stage where career-ready people can connect to business owners to help them launch into a career.

It is a new area for Primary ITO, providing a matching service between people who want to join the sector, mentors happy to help, and even businesses looking for people.

There’s previously been a gap in doing this, says Primary ITO’s chief executive Nigel Philpott. . . 

New independent directors appointed to DairyNZ board:

A financial expert and a transformational chief executive are the two independent directors to be appointed to DairyNZ’s Board of Directors.

Margaret Devlin fills an existing vacancy, while Mark Todd replaces Peter Schuyt who will be stepping down in October after almost nine years on the Board.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the Board is delighted to bring such quality directors as Margaret and Mark on board.

“Both Mark and Margaret are exceptionally talented and experienced professional directors and will bring a fresh perspective as the Board oversees the delivery of DairyNZ’s strategy,” he says. . . 

 

Knoydart community owns Britain’s remotest mainland pub:

A community in Lochaber has succeeded in its bid to buy Britain’s remotest mainland pub in a landmark deal.

Residents of the Knoydart Peninsula in Lochaber are now the owners of The Old Forge in Inverie.

The only way of reaching the village – and its pub – is by walking 18 miles (29km) or making a seven-mile (11km) sea crossing.

The pub’s Belgian owner Jean-Pierre Robinet put the pub on the market last year, asking for offers over £425,000. . .


Rural round-up

15/03/2022

War and sanctions have caused commodities chaos :

Global commodity crises tend to cause severe economic damage and political upheaval. The oil shocks of the 1970s left Western economies with runaway inflation and deep recessions. Oil revenues also helped prop up the Soviet Union and fuelled the export of Saudi extremism. Soaring grain prices in 2010 and 2011 were a trigger for the street protests that led to the Arab spring and the toppling of dictators.

Today Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unleashing the biggest commodity shock since 1973, and one of the worst disruptions to wheat supplies since the first world war. Although commodity exchanges are already in chaos, ordinary folk have yet to feel the full effects of rising petrol bills, empty stomachs and political instability. But make no mistake, those things are coming–and dramatically so if sanctions on Russia tighten further, and if Vladimir Putin retaliates. Western governments need to respond to the commodity threat as determinedly as to Putin’s aggression.

The turmoil unfolding in energy, metals and food markets is broad and savage. Overall indices of commodity prices are now 26 per cent higher than at the start of 2022. The cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil has swung wildly around levels that indicate the biggest supply shock since Saddam Hussein’s army crossed from Iraq into Kuwait in 1990.

European gas prices have almost trebled amid panic that pipelines from the east will be blown up or starved of supply. The price of nickel, used in all-electric cars among other things, has spiraled so high that trading in London has been halted and Chinese speculators are nursing multi-billion-dollar losses. . . 

Ukraine farmer warns of looming food crisis – Country Life:

Ukrainian villagers and farmers have been thrown back into the Middle Ages, slaughtering pigs and milking cows by hand in an effort to keep the country fed, a farmer in Ukraine says.

Kees Huizinga said Russia’s invasion of its neighbour was not only creating a humanitarian catastrophe at home, but also a global food security crisis.

For the past 20 years the Dutchman has farmed 15,000 hectares about 200 kilometres south of the capital Kyiv.

He also milks 2000 cows, keeps 450 sows and plants a range of crops including wheat – the grain which helped give Ukraine, together with Russia, the moniker “breadbasket of Europe”. . . 

Farming in a pressure cooker – Colin Williscroft:

A rapidly changing world is forcing change on farmers faster than ever before, but 2019 Nuffield scholar Corrigan Sowman suggests taking some lessons from the All Blacks’ playbook can help.

A presenter at the Farmax conference webinar held on March 9-10, Sowman spoke on the topic of his Nuffield study paper, Farming in a Pressure Cooker, and applied it to farming three years on.

In his earlier paper, he noted that global agriculture was at a crossroads, with past practices no longer deemed acceptable and often scrutinised by people with half the facts and pressure on farmers compounding as a result. 

He said some farmers were being overwhelmed by the situation, which was reflected in their mental health. . .  

New Zealand red meat export values grow despite pressures on sector :

New Zealand’s red meat sector is continuing to achieve strong export results in the face of considerable labour shortages and global supply chain disruption, says the Meat Industry Association.

The latest MIA analysis shows the industry is overcoming significant headwinds with exports reaching $940 million during January, a 27 per cent increase by value on January 2021.

The value of exports increased to nearly all the major markets. China was up 25 per cent to $398m, the United States up 32 per cent to $195m, the United Kingdom up nine per cent to $41m and Japan up 76 per cent to $40m.

“January was another very positive month for exports, which reflects the efforts across the sector to overcome the many challenges in processing and exporting,” said MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

Hard work bears fruit for Central Otago orchardist – Country Life:

Kevin Jackson and his team go out on a limb to ensure the harvesting season runs smoothly at Jackson Orchards in Cromwell.

Kevin’s original orchard was located in the Cromwell Gorge but he was forced to leave the property when the Clyde Dam was being built.

Keen to stay local, he bought two large blocks of fertile land overlooking Lake Dunstan and developed new orchards and a roadside fruit shop.

“We started planting in 1969 and it was spread over five years before the total property was fully planted,” he says. . . 

 

Big wheat trouble in China – Andrew Whitelaw:

The Snapshot

  • The Chinese ag minister has declared that the winter wheat crop will be the worst in history.
  • >90% of the Chinese wheat crop is winter planted.
  • China is a huge producer of grain but requires a large import program.
  • Australia no longer sends barley, but we send wheat to China.
  • China has huge stockpiles (on paper) but has increased the import volumes during the past two years.
  • 2022 will test whether those stocks are as large as government sources suggest.
  • This development will likely see imports remain strong.

 


Rural round-up

20/01/2022

24-hour Shear-a-thon to raise money for hospital – Shawn McAvinue:

The rural sector is uniting again to help those battling cancer in the South.

Shear 4 Blair 24-hour Shear-a-thon will run in the woolshed on Wohelo Station in Moa Flat on February 5 and 6.

The event is to raise money for the Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill, which was established in 2019.

Winton man Blair Vining died of bowel cancer in 2019, after calling for cancer care to be equitable for all New Zealanders. . . 

Horticulture industry using fund to support growers impacted by Tonga eruption –

New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries are calling for donations to support Tonga after the volcanic eruption.

The horticulture industry labour collective, made up of NZ Apples & Pears, NZ Kiwifruit Growers, Summerfruit NZ, NZ Wine, NZ Ethical Employers, and HortNZ, said it was saddened by news of the tsunami and its impact.

It aims to help the Tongan economy recover and is using the Growers Relief Fund to collect donations to support small businesses like market gardens to recover.

The fund is a charity that helps to support growers in an adverse event, with wellness or when additional support is needed. The fund also helps people working in the horticulture industry who need assistance, to help nurture the whole horticultural community. . . 

Mature lowland forest lost in Wānaka fire – DOC :

A popular Wānaka lake and track were spared during a devastating fire earlier this month.

The fire took hold on 9 January at Emerald Bay, burning 280 hectares of land and taking four days to contain.

The Department of Conservation said it was too early to know the full extent of the damage to conservation land.

Its Central Otago Pou Matarautaki/operations manager Nikki Holmes, said Diamond Lake and the Rocky Summit Track were untouched. . .

Beekeepers hoping for good flow – Tim Cronshaw:

Beekeepers hope a sluggish start won’t put the brakes on honey flows this year.

They want to avoid a repeat of the 2020-21 season when national honey production was down 24% to 20,500 tonnes, from a much better summer.

The average honey yield fell then to 25kg per hive.

Apiculture NZ chief executive Karin Kos said a late-flowering and cold and windy start has failed to assist beekeepers so far this season. . . 

A secret getaway to Mototapu track – Liz Carlson:

Perhaps the closest backcountry hut near the popular outdoor playground of Wanaka is one that you might not have heard of – Fern Burn Hut. Tucked away on a lush high-country station, it is the first stage in a three-day tramp connecting Wanaka and Arrowtown, which retraces a historic path in Central Otago.

An enjoyable day walk to the modern hut, it’s a great way to experience the beauty of the area, though it’s even better if you stay the night in one of the 12 bunks.

Most people walk the 34-kilometre Motatapu Track over three days, though the day trips and overnight at one of the huts are equally enjoyable. From Wanaka to Fern Burn Hut is only 7km and a couple of hours winding up and down over the beautiful land.

The track begins near Glendhu Bay in Wanaka, making it one of the closest and easily accessed huts from the town, and a great alternative to the busy alpine huts in summer  – you’ll often have the place to yourself. . . 

Going the distance:

Getting fast broadband to rural areas of New Zealand is the last great challenge for the country’s Internet network.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key said last week one of the top achievements of his time in government was Ultra-Fast Broadband. The roll-out of fibre arrived in time to be a vital help for communities during Covid lockdowns and is now an essential service for all kinds of social and economic reasons.

But he said he was concerned about the rural/urban divide with a number of people unable to get access to fibre Internet.

Luckily there is already a solution for many rural properties as New Zealand’s wireless internet providers, or WISPS, are working to link users with quality broadband and which have been building their own networks to do this. . . 


Rural round-up

08/12/2021

Loss of farming land – Clive Bibby:

I have written about this before but up until now, nobody in authority seems to be listening or worse still, is hoping that it will just continue to happen and no body will notice. 

In fact it appears that the “one way” transfer of our productive grazing land into the fast expanding exotic forestry estate is all part of the government’s plan to achieve its ill advised zero carbon emissions target. More about that later. 

The upcoming sale of 6200 hectares of prime East Coast hill country (Huiarua and Matanui Stns) with a combined carrying capacity of over 45,000 stock units and the probability that it might all end up in trees is more than just a little bit worrying.

In the NZ context this is the classic example of what is being allowed to happen to our most precious asset and worse still- it is promoted as being in the nation’s best long term interest. What a sick joke.  . .

$20m possum control plan to eradicate bovine TB in Hawke’s Bay over next five years – Maddisyn Jeffares:

A bid to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in Hawke’s Bay will see $20 million committed to possum control in the region over the next five years.

Hawke’s Bay farmers and hunters have since 2019 been struggling with bovine tuberculosis’s spread. As at February, 15 herds were infected.

Operational Solutions for Primary Industries (Ospri) works to control the spread of the disease, which is mainly transmitted by possums.

Ospri says what it is doing is working. Between August and October it completed aerial operations covering about 30,000 hectares including in Waipunga near the Napier Taupō Road, Waikoau, Willowflat and Poronui-Ripia. . .

Hopes beneficial insects could boost farm yields :

A new research project involving 45 Canterbury farms will look at how specifically designed native plantings could be used to attract beneficial insects, boosting farm yields.

The project is being led by Plant and Food Research, with $2.2 million of funding coming from the Ministry for Primary Industries Plant Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and a range of industry partners investing just over $1m.

The project will plant land that is currently under-utilised – such as fence lines, road verges and watercourses – with local native plants that have been proven to support and maintain beneficial insect life.

Plant & Food Research lead researcher Dr Melanie Davidson said native plantings could host many beneficial insects that support farming in Aotearoa. These insects included pollinators and natural enemies of insect pests. . .

Once in a generation level of change divides primary sector :

Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) Shift Happens – Future of agribusiness reporttoday reveals a divided primary sector, adapting to the challenges of climate change and regulation, demanding more from rural connectivity, and grappling with COVID-induced supply chain pain and labour constraints.

When considering the future, the Shift Happens survey found New Zealand’s agribusinesses evenly split. 53% expressed optimism for the future (down from 58% in 2020) while an increasing number of farmers were feeling threatened by change and its impact on the long-term success of their agribusiness (42% to 47%). Those who were more optimistic about the future, were also more likely to embrace the myriad solutions available to overcome the current challenges impacting the sector.

The survey also found:

  • Rural connectivity as the most influential megaforce on the future of agribusinesses (54%) with 70% of farmers seeing it as essential to the increasing use of technology and data collection. . . .

’She looks like me Aotearoa’ new campaign to challenge gender stereotypes about working in the meat sector :

A global campaign backed by leading meat businesses has been launched in Aotearoa New Zealand to change perceptions of careers in the meat industry, highlight female role models and encourage more women to join the sector.

‘She Looks Like Me’ Aotearoa will showcase the breadth of roles and career options that exist in the meat supply chain and launches with the ‘day in the life’ video of Cromwell Butcher, Jayne McMillan who has combined her love of science and her connection to the rural sector.

“When I started in the industry, 27 years ago, there were no women on the processing floor and they were largely confined to administration roles. Through hard work, passion and resilience I now own and operate a boutique butchery and delicatessen where I am CEO, Human Resource Manager, Accountant, Butcher, Packer, Customer Service Representative and more.”

I am proud to share my meat industry story through the ‘She Looks Like Me’ campaign, and urge any women to consider this sector. There is a role for everyone, from technical, butchery or trimming through to marketing, procurement, and leadership – your opportunity for growth is endless. Take the leap. I am living, breathing proof of where that first step can take you.” . .

Green thumb farmer making change for the environment :

It’sa concept that’s taken root in the past few decades: planting trees on farms.

Aside from sheltering livestock, trees can be used to reduce soil erosion and salinity. They can support food and fibre production, enhance biodiversity and beautify the landscape while creating additional income opportunities from tree products.

One farmer who is keen on trees is Andrew Stewart. The fourth-generation farmer and agricultural scientist recently took home the Bob Hawke Landcare Award for environmental work and sustainable agricultural achievements.

The award comes with a $50,000 prize to develop knowledge and contributions to Landcare. . .

 


Rural round-up

20/11/2021

New twists to carbon farming – Keith Woodford:

Each time I write about carbon farming, I think it will be the last time I do so for quite some time. But then something new comes up and there is a new twist to be explored. Right now, there are two new twists, potentially pulling in different directions.

First, just prior to the COP26 talkfest in Glasgow, James Shaw and Jacinda Ardern issued a joint press release stating that New Zealand will increase the carbon targets to be achieved by 2030. The specifics are more than a little obscure, but the increase is going to be considerable.

The changes are made more complex by changes in the accounting methods. Here, I am talking about carbon accounting, not dollar accounting. 

Sometimes the Government talks about gross emissions that do not include forestry offsets. Sometimes the Government talks about net emissions after allowing for offsets. And sometimes the Government compares different time periods using what is called ‘gross-net’, which gets even more confusing. . .

Isolated rural police face burnout, lack of support – IPCA review:

An Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report has highlighted major issues in the resourcing of small community police stations, with some officers saying they are close to burnout.

The review was done after several people in communities with a one- or two-person police station complained about the way their local officers dealt with them.

The IPCA selected 12 small communities across the country, and interviewed the local officers and residents.

It found officers enjoyed the challenges of working remotely but felt they were constantly on call, and the remoteness made it more difficult for them to access relief or backup. . .

Will New Zealand workers save Central Otago’s summer harvest?  – George Driver:

As the fruit harvest season nears, orchardists are again raising the alarm of an impending worker shortage. So will enough of us head to the country this summer to pick Central Otago’s crop?

Every year I said it would be my last. Every year I came crawling back.

From the age of 14, I spent a decade of summers picking stone fruit under the searing Central Otago sun. I was fortunate to have been born into the iPod generation, but all of the audiobooks on Napster couldn’t stave off the boredom of fruit picking. Working 7am to 4pm seven days a week atop a shuddering Hydralada would put me into fatigue-induced stupor that enveloped every summer of my youth. The only reprieve was the sound of rain on the corrugated iron roof that signalled a long awaited day off.

But for a teenager working at a time when youth rates meant the minimum wage was a little over $7 an hour, the pay was unbeatable. . .

Farm walks lose bookings with Aucklanders unable to travel – Susan Murray:

Private farm walks are taking a financial hit due to cancellations from Aucklanders unable to travel, with some losing 40 percent of their bookings.

Farm walks have blossomed in the past couple of decades as more farmers have looked to diversify farm income and showcase less publicly accessible land.

Shaun Monk runs the the Island Hills Station Walk (formerly called Hurunui High Country Station Walk), a two- to three-day track in North Canterbury.

Monk said he had lost 40 percent of the early season bookings. . . .

Mediaworks join NZDIA national sponsor family :

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) are pleased to announce an exciting new addition to their National sponsor family.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to welcome MediaWorks and is looking forward to working with them to extend the programme’s reach in the traditional rural sector and others via more mainstream channels.

“Just as the dairy industry is evolving, so are the people working in it and we need new ways to connect with our entrants. . .

Celebrate and be in to win with NZ FLowers Week November 22-26:

Spring time is celebration time for the local cut flowers industry and during NZ Flowers Week flower lovers all over the country are invited to join the party.

From Monday November 22 through to Friday 26 the resilience, passion and skill of industry players, from growers to floral retailers will be acknowledged and just as importantly, their customers too.

For the sixth year in a row the event’s organisers Feel Good With Flowers have created a big bunch of great opportunities for people to revel in the beauty of quality, NZ-grown blooms and foliage, and have a chance to win prizes from a pool totalling $30,000.

During the week Feel Good With Flowers will be asking the NZ public to purchase blooms and bouquets from their favourite florists and support them using hashtags #supportlocalflowers and #nzflowersweek2021. . .

Comvita and For the Love of Bees launch a new partnership to help create a world where bees thrive :

Comvita and For The Love of Bees launch a new partnership to help create a world where bees thrive

Comvita, global market leader in Mānuka honey, has today announced a major partnership with social enterprise, For The Love of Bees (FTLOB), which will see the two organisations working together to protect these vital pollinators and the natural ecosystems they live in.

Since its establishment in 1974, Comvita has been guided by its founding principle of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship and protection over nature – building on co-founders Claude Stratford and Alan Bougen’s passion for connecting people to nature, while caring for the environment. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2021

Uncertain times ahead – Peter Burke:

NZ sheep and beef farmers will likely face different risks to their businesses in the coming years due to the Covid pandemic.

Beef+Lamb NZ’s chief economist Andrew Burt says there may be more volatility and risks that farmers will have to manage. He says these will be ones that they haven’t had to think about before or haven’t surfaced for over 20 years.

“It may be the case of unravelling the past and creating a new order.”

Burt confirms that while prices for meat are high at present, this is somewhat shielding significant rises in on-farm costs. He also warns that inflation could have a negative effect on farm profits. . . 

MIQ spots ‘bloody hard’ – Sudesh Kissun:

A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. Securing MIQ spots remain the biggest hurdle to getting overseas workers for the dairy sector.

Five months after the Government granted border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, just a handful of workers have arrived in the country.

Now in the dairy sector is pleading for 1500 overseas workers to be allowed into the country and self-quarantine on farms before the start of 2022 season to ease a severe staff shortage.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis says a lot of behind-the-scenes work is going with the Government. . . 

How Tomato Pete got lost and found again – Rachel Stewart:

This a story about Tomato Pete – a name given to him by a farmer amused by his vegetarianism.

Tomato Pete is the son of a friend I’ve known since primary school. She had two children to one man, who soon became largely absent from their lives. As a solo mother she worked hard to raise the kids on her own and, as is often the way, it wasn’t all beer and skittles. But it was okay.

I would show up in my truck every now and then, always with one canine or another in tow. Tomato Pete, a quiet town kid, was about seven when I noticed that he really came alive when he was around dogs.

At 13 he got his first puppy. Pip, a gentle-natured black mongrel, became his constant companion. (He’s still alive today, and enjoying his well-earned dotage). . . 

NZ wins big at World Steak Challenge :

Three New Zealand red meat producers won big at the World Steak Challenge in Dublin.

Anzco and First Light Foods won a gold medal each in the ribeye section, while Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef won three gold medals.

Hundreds of beef suppliers from around the world had their finest products judged by an independent panel of chefs and experts at the prestigious event.

Alliance general manager of sales Shane Kingston says the win reaffirmed the status of Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef as among the world’s best. . .

Gen Z it’s time to make your mark on New Zealand’s food and fibre sector :

Food and fibre sector leaders are counting on Generation Z (loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010) to take on the future of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and meet the challenges it faces.

The key to attracting Generation Z (Gen Z) to the sector will be making them aware of the scope of opportunities across the sector, says Madison Pannett, the Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar behind the report, Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

“I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join,” says Madison, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as a Senior Adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team.

“From my research, I found that Gen Z mainly associates food and fibre sector careers with roles on-farm and not with the wider opportunities that are available,” Madison notes. She says that sector leaders need to tell the story of the scope of rewarding and diverse roles available for Gen Z to contribute and work in line with their values. . .

Western Station buy-up goes way beyond government promises

The acquisition of five western stations by NSW National Parks now totals almost 400,000 hectares in the last year. If you add on travelling stock routes, a large land ‘grab’ would appear to be underway.

Graziers and the community that need them for their economies in the western division are rightly asking questions.

Although some of the purchases were flagged by the government, they are wondering what now is the wash-out from these buy-outs, given the original buy-up was estimated at 200,000 hectares.

It’s estimated that each station in private hands, adds about $500,000 a year into local economies. It’s certain that the national park version will do nothing like that. . .


Rural round-up

07/08/2021

Independent research highlights need for limits on forestry offsetting for fossil fuel emitters:

New independent research confirms a significant amount of sheep and beef farmland has been converted to forestry, underlining the need for limits on carbon offsetting. It also busts myths about trees going on ‘unproductive’ land and reinforces Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s view that the integration of forestry on farms is a better way of managing our landscapes and meeting climate change targets.

The study by BakerAg, commissioned by B+LNZ, reveals there has been a significant increase in the amount of farmland sold into forestry, driven in large part by an increase in the carbon price.  

The report was unable to identify exactly how much of the sheep and beef farmland sold into forestry was intended for pure carbon farming but based on examination of the land titles, it is estimated that about 26,550 hectares of the 77,800 hectares of whole farms sold into forestry since 2017 were to carbon only entities (about 34 percent of the whole farm sales). 

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said the report shows that in 2017, 3,965 hectares of whole sheep and beef farms were sold into forestry; this increased to 20,227 ha in 2018; 36,824 ha in 2019. It declined to 16,764 hectares in 2020 (most likely as a result of COVID-19) but rural intelligence suggests it has regathered momentum this year and moved into new regions, threatening rural communities.   . . 

Opinion divided on climate change advice – Colin Williscroft:

Rural groups generally wanted the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to pull back on some of its recommendations to the Government on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, while many in urban areas thought the targets were not ambitious enough.

The commission received more than 15,400 submissions on the draft advice it released in February, with less than 40 made in hard copy format.

About 900 of the total number of submissions, which were recently made public, were from organisations, with just under 40 from iwi/Māori and the remainder from individuals.

Four organisations provided template submissions sent to the commission’s email address, with members of those groups sending in templated submissions multiple times. . . 

Finally we will have some cohesion – Shawn McAvinue:

The time for two wool companies to merge is now, Eastern Southland sheep farmer Mark Copland says.

A change is needed because the “ridiculously low” price for strong wool is driving him to use the fribs and dag wool as fertiliser.

“I felt it was better value as fertiliser than selling the stuff.”

In November, about 2100 farmers will be eligible to vote on a proposed merger between grower-owned export and marketing company Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative to form a fully integrated supply chain business. . . 

Trials look at the rattling of fewer dags :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial is identifying the genetics that will futureproof this country’s sheep industry. In part one of this two-part series, we take a look at how the trial is set up and the focus on dags.

As consumers are increasingly demanding meat produced with minimal inputs and intervention, B+LNZ Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial aims to identify environmentally-efficient sheep that perform without docking, drenching or dagging.

Run on Orari Gorge Station – a 4,500ha hill country farm in South Canterbury – the trial is testing the genetics put forward by 16 future-focused sheep breeders.

The property is the ideal testing ground for genetics. Orari Station is 75% tussock country, 15% lower hill with only 10% flats. Average annual rainfall is 1,200mm. Owner Robert Peacock says it is wet more than it is dry, so worms are a constant challenge. . . 

Looking back on a life full of rich memories – Alice Scott:

The year is hazy and just what rugby match it was, Sutton farmer Donny Tisdall can’t quite recall, but the day itself has been etched in his memory ever since.

Mr Tisdall, along with mates Tony Markham and Davie Murdoch and brother Larry Tisdall, were horseback cantering down Dunedin’s Forbury Rd, each with a beer in hand and grinning like Cheshire cats. Earlier that day they had been part of a Speight’s Southern Man promotion.

Atop their horses and fitted out in oilskin jackets and hats, they had led a parade of university Scarfies from the Octagon to Carisbrook Stadium where they circulated around the ground, still on horseback, throwing Crunchie bars and T-shirts into an exuberant sell-out crowd.

“We then took off through the city, cantering down the middle of the road, back to Forbury Raceway where the horses were being kept overnight. We got picked up and taken back to the game, where we were treated like royalty for the rest of the night,” Mr Tisdall recalls. . .

Let cows enjoy the taste of grass – Shan Goodwin:

Since biblical times, societies have wrestled with the apparent juxtaposition of treating animals well and ensuring they have a good life at the same time as raising them for food.

Today, that quandary is at the crux of some of the most pertinent issues in the livestock production space, from efforts to garner government support for banning certain sectors to attempts to market animal protein alternatives.

Little wonder then that an Australian Tedx Talk featuring a former country veterinarian turned academic with a PhD in animal welfare on the topic of what makes cows happy has garnered plenty of interest.

Associate professor David Beggs, from the University of Melbourne’s veterinary school, titled his July talk from Warrnambool “Do Cows Think Grass Tastes Good?” . . 


Rural round-up

15/06/2021

Rural roads may suffer as transport funding hole opens – Chloe Ranford:

Councils are scrambling to deal with holes in their roading budgets, which they fear could lead to deteriorating roads, particularly in rural areas.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency has told councils not to expect as much road funding as they had sought, although most would still receive more than they had in the last funding round.

The news from the government’s transport agency has left Marlborough District Council “scrambling” to deal with a $10 million hole in its road funding, which could cause “failures across the network”.

The lower funding indication came as the council was hearing feedback on its long-term plan, used to benchmark what the council would do and spend in the coming decade, including $53.6m on its roads. . . 

SNAs – the green movement that cuts farmers deep:

Katie Milne looks over eight hectares of precious native forest from her lounge room on the West Coast dairy farm she runs with her husband Ian Whitmore.

Just metres from her doorstep are kahikatea, mountain cedar and manuka and species of drachafilums which are normally only found higher up.

When it was designated a Significant Natural Area 20 years ago it was contentious but the debate is even more controversial now.

Today The Detail visits Milne at her farm and finds out why West Coast landowners are so angry at latest moves to identify and protect SNAs. . . 

Safety profile – the job’s always going to be there, getting home safely is the main thing :

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Working with ANZ’s rural lending team, Taranaki/Manawatu 2021 Young Farmer of the Year Jake Jarman sees real value in good health and safety practices.

“In my experience, a farm that makes health and safety a priority is a productive and profitable farm,” he says.

Jake’s own health and safety focus began with a solid grounding on his family’s dairy farm and continued through his studies at Lincoln and Massey universities and practical farm placements. . . 

NZ on track for predator-free targets – Ben Leonard:

A new report is giving hope to conservationists hoping to stem New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis

It’s been five years since the Government launched its ambitious goal of ridding the country of rats, possums, and mustelids by 2050. 

The programme aimed to move from piecemeal local projects to a strategic nationwide approach for eradicating the three worst offenders to our biodiversity.

Five years on, the programme is taking stock and reflecting in its first progress report, released at a summit in Wellington last week. . . 

Avocado industry smashes records with 40% sales value rise – Maja Burry:

The season just ended was a record breaker for the avocado industry, with the value of sales lifting more than percent 40 on the year prior.

New figures from New Zealand Avocado show the industry’s revenue from the 2020-21 season totalled $227 million compared to $155 million the season prior.

Overseas markets accounted for $167 million dollars worth of sales, with export volumes up 10 percent.

Industry group chief executive Jen Scoular said the result had been achieved against the odds, with Covid-19 lockdowns and significant freight disruption presenting major hurdles. . . 

Buyers aim high as treetop walkway business goes up for sale:

A leading adventure tourism business which operates a world-class treetop walk has been put up for sale.

Located just south of Hokitika, West Coast Treetop Walk & Café is one of the West Coast’s top visitor attractions.

It attracted more than 45,000 visitors last year with the chance to roam its 450-metre aerial walkway and 45-metre-high viewing tower overlooking stunning native rainforest, or to enjoy a unique food-and-beverage experience in a wild setting.

The business also has approval to install New Zealand’s longest and highest rainforest canopy zipline at the site, which is forecast to boost annual visitor numbers by a further 5,000 to 10,000. . . 


Rural round-up

26/02/2021

Major task ahead for NZ farming – Matthew Reeves:

New modelling from the Climate Change Commission has outlined a major task ahead for the agribusiness industry in New Zealand.

The Government has committed to an extensive emissions reduction plan in order to combat climate change, involving a 10% decline in agricultural emissions by 2030, and a 24% to 47% decline by 2050.

Achieving this target will require major changes across the agricultural sector, including a significant decline in herd sizes and the uptake of new technologies.

The agriculture sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in New Zealand, accounting for around 40% of current emissions in the country. The bulk of this comes from livestock methane emissions, including 51% from the country’s 6.1 million dairy cattle, and 47% from the country’s 26.2 million sheep and 4 million beef cattle. . .

Milk packs punch agaisnt flu – Gerald Piddock:

We already know milk is good for the bones, but now research shows that drinking milk could help ward off the flu.

New research has found that a protein-based ingredient from milk is an effective antiviral agent against a common influenza virus species.

The study commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, found that Immune Defence Proteins (IDP) was 120% more effective against the virus Influenza A when compared to the protein lactoferrin.

Testing on the herpes simplex virus netted a similar result. . . 

‘RA 20 virus’ a danger to New Zealand farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation.

It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long term than Covid-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA20 but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. . . 

Better connection now – Rural News:

We may now be into the third decade of the 21st century, but unfortunately much of NZ’s rural broadband and mobile coverage remains at third world levels.

That is unacceptable in a modern, first-world country like New Zealand. How is it still the case that many farmers and rural businesses around the country have to buy costly equipment to get broadband, while many others cannot even get mobile phone coverage at all?

As the Technology Users Association of NZ (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young says, rural people should be getting the same level of connectivity in terms of broadband and mobile coverage as the people who live in urban areas.

It is even more important for rural people to have high quality connectivity, given their often remote locations and the fact that they are running significant businesses – not only farming, but other service related enterprises. . . 

Manuka saving honey’s buzz – Richard Rennie:

While demand for Manuka honey continues to surge, other honey varieties remain moribund, with low prices starting to pressure beekeepers out of the industry.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 2020 Apiculture Monitoring report has highlighted how a good harvest season last summer translated into a surge in volumes of all honey produced, with per hive yield of manuka up 39% on the year before in the North Island.

Overall however, the sector experienced a slide of 6% in average export prices despite a weaker NZ dollar, with a significant 28% export volume increase driving the overall 20% increase in total export value.

The report has highlighted the growing gap between high-value manuka and all other multi-floral manuka/non-manuka honeys. . . 

Helping emerging industries is growing Australian agriculture – John Harvey:

Opportunities within the agricultural sector are constantly evolving.

We see consumers hungry for new products and changing requirements and expectations for food production.

You only have to look at shifting attitudes about eating meat to see how quickly things evolve.

And that is one of the reasons I think it is vital that Australia continues to invest in our emerging agricultural and food production industries. . . 


Rural round-up

10/02/2021

Pandemic disruption highlights challenges looming for farming – Anna Campbell:

Walk into any New Zealand supermarket and life feels pretty normal. The shelves are filled with staples of bread and toilet paper and there is the usual melee of highly packed and processed products vying for attention.

Normality, though, hides the continued disruption many New Zealand food producers and manufacturers face as they experience delays in ingredient and product transport and associated increasing costs.

I have heard of New Zealand companies bringing more of their production processes back on-shore in an effort to mitigate supply chain uncertainty, and many companies are having to buy ingredients in large amounts, at increased costs, to ensure continued supply.

Internationally, food access continues to cause major problems. . . 

Pick Nelson campaign calls on Kiwis to help out with the summer harvest – Tim Newman:

A new campaign is calling on Kiwis to head to Nelson to fill the hundreds of jobs available for the summer harvest in the region.

The Pick Nelson Tasman campaign was launched by Project Kōkiri this week, part of a collaboration between local government, iwi, and business organisations to respond to the economic fallout of Covid-19.

Project Kōkiri spokesman Johny O’Donnell said while the region was renowned for growing some of the world’s best produce, some estimates suggested Nelson/Tasman’s horticulture industry was facing a shortfall of more than 1600 workers.

“These jobs used to be primarily filled by travellers and international workers, but while our borders remain closed there’s a big shortage of staff. . . 

 

Cheese nomenclature in spotlight – Ashley Smyth:

Does a feta by any other name taste as good?

This is the conundrum facing New Zealand cheesemakers, who may have to change the names of some of their cheese varieties, if the European Union (EU) gets its way.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association spokesman and Whitestone Cheese managing director Simon Berry said the topic has come about because of Brexit, and the EU opening up for trade negotiations with “the world”.

“So now our trade ministers are meeting with the UK as well as the EU, and the EU has turned around and said ‘OK, if we’re renegotiating, we now want to protect these names’ . . . and they’ve come out with a list,” Mr Berry said. . .

Repairs connect lavender farm with the world – Rebecca Ryan:

When you live in Danseys Pass, you have to be prepared for anything and take whatever happens on the chin, Jo and Barry Todd say.

After flooding closed Danseys Pass Rd for almost a month at the peak of the lavender season, Mr and Mrs Todd were pleased to finally be able to welcome visitors back to their lavender farm and shop this week. The Waitaki District Council reopened the road on Monday.

The couple started Danseys Pass Lavender on their 4ha property in 2009 and had seen it all living in remote North Otago; they had been snowed in, and flooding had taken out bridges on either side of their home in previous years.

They did not get too stressed about having no customers for almost a month — they had started the business as a way to keep busy as they reached retirement age. . . 

Easing into vineyard ownership – Ashley Smyth:

Kurow is a familiar stomping ground for Alisa Nicholls, but she and husband Paul are venturing into unfamiliar territory by taking the reigns at River-T Estate.

“It’s a completely new industry for us. We’re just sort of taking it all in,” Mrs Nicholls said last week.

The pair took over the vineyard and cellar door from the original owners, Karen and Murray Turner, on January 21 and are easing themselves into their new lifestyle.

“We’re really lucky Karen and Murray are sticking around until February 8, so we’re just sort of learning from them, which is great … they’ve been very helpful.” . . 

Regional Australia ‘should not pay bill for climate target’  – John Ellicott:

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has backed his Nationals leader, saying agriculture had already done much of the heavy lifting on limiting carbon pollution and should not be hit in any future climate target process.

On the weekend Nationals leader Michael McCormack said Australia should follow New Zealand and cut agriculture from any possible 2050 zero emissions taxes or penalties as this would hurt regional Australian communities.

Any move forward to control carbon pollution had to be done through technology advances, he said.

“Well what we need to make sure is that we don’t disproportionately affect regional Australia,” he told Sky News. . . 


Rural round-up

24/12/2020

Regional economies: agriculture strong, tourism struggling:

Regions with large agricultural bases have surging regional economies while those which relied heavily on tourism were struggling.

The latest quarterly figures from Westpac McDermott Miller showed that Gisborne/Hawkes Bay have recorded a huge bounce in confidence, followed by Nelson-Marlborough-West Coast and Taranaki/Manawatū-Whanganui.

It showed the “optimists now outweighed the pessimists” in most regions, except in Northland, Otago and Southland – although the news was not entirely grim for the southern regions which had been hard-hit by the Covid-19 linked downturn.

Senior agri economist Nathan Penny said the bounce in confidence for most regions was a reflection of the general rebound in the economy, helped by news of positive vaccine developments overseas. . . 

Milk price forecast boosted by banks – Sally Rae:

Rabobank and ASB have both increased their farm-gate milk price forecasts to $7 for the 2020-21 season, following an improving dairy outlook.

Prices edged up again at last week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction — the last for the year — with an overall price increase of 1.3%.

Gains were strongest for the fat products; butter prices were up 6% and anhydrous milk fat up 1.9% while whole and skim milk powder lifted 0.5% and 1.2% respectively.

ASB economist Nat Keall said the result reflected the fact global demand was still holding up well, providing support for dairy prices. . . 

Westpac Agri Futures established to help young people into rural careers:

The importance of our primary industries has been recognised with a new sector to be included in The 2021 Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games.

The Rural Games will now include Westpac Agri Futures in association with Property Brokers and this is to be held on Friday 12th March in Palmerston North.

Westpac New Zealand General Manager Institutional & Business Banking, Simon Power said Agri Futures is all about encouraging the next generation into agriculture sector careers.

“The demand for staff across rural New Zealand has only grown since COVID-19, and Westpac understands the need to support efforts to encourage more Kiwis to enter the rural workforce.” . . 

Federated Farmers hails pragmatic migrant worker visa decisions:

Farmers and growers up and down the land will be pleased with the pragmatic decision by government to extend visas for migrant workers already on our shores.

“The six-month extension for employer-assisted work visa holders and the postponed stand down period for low-paid Essential Skills via holders will come as a relief for the primary sector heading into the Christmas and New Year period,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We thank Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi for listening to our case for this, and recognising a common sense approach. . . 

NZ Rural Land Company has quiet NZX debut :

The New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZRLC) has had a quiet debut on the stock exchange, listing at a slight premium.

Its shares touched a high of $1.31 in early trading compared with the issue price of $1.25 in the recent share float, before settling at $1.28 with only small volumes being traded.

The company raised $75 million in the public share float, which along with debt will give it about $100m for rural land buying.

NZRLC plans to buy rural land and lease it to farmers or other producers. . . 

Tractor and Machinery Association announces 2021 scholarships:

The Tractor & Machinery Association Inc (TAMA) is offering to industry trainees who are studying towards a certificate or diploma.

There are several $500 scholarships available to industry trainees who can demonstrate their commitment and potential contribution to the industry. Applications for 2021 open on 18 January and close on 5 March with successful applicants advised in May.

TAMA general manager Ron Gall said the scholarships are part of TAMA’s wider efforts to encourage younger people to stay working in the industry and take advantage of the valuable career path it offers. . . 


Rural round-up

20/10/2020

New government needs to release the uncertainty handbrake – Andrew Hoggard:

As politicians engage in a last-week frenzy of campaigning and sniping and mall walkabouts, it’s now up to the voters.  Surely there’s enough at stake this election to galvanise even the most jaded elector into exercising their democratic right. 

COVID-19 and our push for economic recovery is just another reason why we need MPs who will listen carefully, work hard and put pragmatism ahead of rigid ideology.

Farmers, like all New Zealanders, are vitally interested in Saturday’s result.  The fact that agricultural issues have gained more of the spotlight on the hustings and in the televised debates this time around than in some elections past is probably due to recognition that we need thriving primary industries if we’re to dig our way out of the pandemic financial hole, and start to pay back some of the billions of dollars borrowed since March.

Federated Farmers has hammered three key issues that the nation needs to get right if we’re to look after our producers, the backbone of our exports and our environment.  Whatever government dominates the front benches after the weekend, we need: . . 

MfE steadfast on winter grazing dates – Neal Wallace:

Dates by when grazed winter cropped paddocks must be resown were included in freshwater legislation to provide regulatory compliance, Government officials say.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) says in response to questions from Farmers Weekly, the resowing dates provide “regulatory certainty” and that they will not be changed.

“Without a fixed date the status of the activity, that is whether it was permitted or needed a consent, could remain unresolved after it concluded. This would have made it difficult for councils to enforce,” they said.

Introduced as part of the Government’s essential freshwater rules, most of NZ-grazed winter crop paddocks must be resown by October 1. . .

Katie Milne wins Agricultural Communicator of the Year:

West Coast dairy farmer and former President of Federated Farmers Katie Milne was last night named the 2020 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the year.

The award recognises people making a significant contribution to communicating agricultural issues, events and information.

Katie Milne was the first female President of Federated Farmers in its 118-year history and served between 2017 and 2020. She advocated on behalf of farmers affected by M-bovis and helped spearhead the subsequent eradication programme. Most recently she argued powerfully to have primary sector businesses recognised as essential services during the Covid-19 lockdown. . .

Honouring our wartime ‘land girls’ – Simon Edwards:

The ‘Land Girls’ are largely unsung heroes of New Zealand’s World War II experience and Fiona, Lady Elworthy, of Timaru was determined that in her district at least there should be a memorial to them.

While men took up arms against the Axis enemies, Women’s Land Service (WLS) members placed on farms back home had their own sorts of battles with totally unfamiliar tasks, long hours, isolation, equipment shortages – and with prejudice.

Thanks to the efforts of Lady Elworthy, former Women’s Land Service members Sadie Lietze now 97, and Joan Butland – who forged her father’s signature at age 17 so she could join the WLS – a plaque and seat will be unveiled during a ceremony and picnic at Maungati in South Canterbury on Sunday.

The memorial sits among the cherry trees and native plants of Rongomaraeroa (the Long Pathway to Peace), a reserve established by Lady Elworthy to honour her late husband.   Sir Peter Elworthy, a former Federated Farmers president, was a Nuffield Scholar who was also founding president of the NZ Deer Farmers’ Association. . . 

Fonterra’s Chile investment looking good :

Fonterra’s Prolesur is leading the charge in the dramatic recovery in Chilean milk production as the company reaps the benefits of rebuilding relationships with farmers.

The Latin American nation’s liquid milk collection reached 1.3 billion litres in the first eight months of the year, up 6.3% from a year earlier, or 79 million litres. More than half of that increase went to Prolesur. This compares to the 12.8bn litre collection in New Zealand in the first eight months of the year. 

“Prolesur has been working over the last 18 months to regain milk volumes that it lost in 2018-19. This has been achieved through working closely with farmers to regain trust and competitive pricing,” Prolesur managing director Erich Becker said.

Prolesur collected 147ML versus 103.5ML in the eight months through August 2019, a whopping 42% lift. Fonterra’s other Chilean business, Soprole, also posted an increase, collecting 124ML versus 120m in the prior year. . . 

 

 

Villa Maria Estate launches  the New Zealand’s first wine-based seltzer:

New Zealand’s most awarded winery, Villa Maria Estate, owners of the Villa Maria, Esk Valley, Leftfield, Vidal and Thornbury brands, is launching the country’s first wine-based seltzer – LF Wine Seltzers.

The iconic wine business founded in 1961 will launch LF Seltzer later this month, a product crafted using its premium Leftfield wines, sparkling water and locally-sourced natural botanicals in three flavours – Yuzu, Mint & Cucumber with Sauvignon Blanc, Pear & Ginger with Pinot Gris and Strawberry & Hibiscus with Rosé.

The move comes amidst a serious shake up of the RTD category which continues to expand in line with the booming global seltzer market. . . 

From paddock To Ponsonby – dogs’ appetite for possum growing nationwide:

Kiwi pooches’ growing appetite for possum is helping to create jobs and putting a dent in New Zealand’s pest population.

In the past year, New Zealand dogs have devoured more than 100,000 kg of possum meat – or approximately 70,000 possums – in the form of Possyum dog rolls and dried treats.

New Zealand’s largest possum meat dog food producer Fond Foods has seen demand for Possyum double since 2017 and has recently hit a milestone of 500,000 kg of possum meat used in its possum meat products since 2010. . . 

 

 


Feds fired up over fires

07/10/2020

Federated Farmers wants to baa DOC from the high country because sheep do a better job:

The fire risk on Department of Conservation-managed land is being mismanaged and neglected, and needs urgent review, Federated Farmers says.

More than 1600 hectares have been destroyed by the fire at Lake Ohau that also ripped through the small alpine village on Sunday morning. Five weeks ago, around 3000 hectares of trees and scrub were turned to ash.

“It’s not even fire season and we have lost almost 50 homes and over 5000 ha because of fire,” Federated Farmers High Country Chair Rob Stokes says.

“In August we had the Pukaki Downs fires, also burning through DOC land, and now just weeks later another fire, again burning through DOC land. Both these fires were entirely avoidable.

“Lake Ohau residents who have tragically lost their homes must today have serious questions around what fuelled the fire.”

Federated Farmers has held grave fears for many years that locking up high country land without the proper care is dangerous.

In future Feds believes the risk will become even greater as the government’s new freshwater policies and the livestock destocking that will come through unreasonable fencing requirements will kick in. These policies will result in the growth of more combustible vegetation.

“This fire is another red flag; how many do we need?” Rob asks.

The 2012 Report of the Independent Fire Review said vegetation fires were arguably New Zealand’s most significant fire risk.

Destocking hill and high-country farms for conservation purposes has not been thoroughly thought through, Rob says.

“There is simply no science to support destocking. Now people have lost their homes because of mismanagement by DOC.”

Passive grazing of these areas in the past has significantly reduced the fire risk by controlling wilding pines and grasses, which left ungrazed become fuel. It also enabled the landowners and leaseholders to manage other pests while preserving open landscapes.

Feds also wants to forget the cheap shots and get serious about fire risk vegetation:

The destruction at Lake Ohau should light a fire under DOC for early negotiations with farmers on a partnership approach to deal with uncontrolled vegetation on conservation land, Federated Farmers says.

“For Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage to suggest yesterday that Federated Farmers was opportunistic in the wake of the Ohau blaze and just looking for free grazing was a cheap shot,” Feds High Country Chairperson Rob Stokes says.

Her comment that farmers are looking for cheap grazing was a very cheap shot and an uniformed one.

“We have been warning about fire fuel loads on DOC land in the South Island for years.  We have only been opportunistic in the sense that the near-miss to human lives, not to mention the stock loss and serious property damage from Sunday’s fire, was a chance to finally get some traction with the department and the government on this issue.

“Farmers aren’t looking for ‘free’ anything.  They operate commercial businesses and they’re looking for a partnership, with contracts, to try and reduce a serious risk to safety, private property and the environment,” Rob says.

Federated Farmers recognises there are some areas of the DOC estate where it’s totally inappropriate to have livestock.  But in less sensitive areas, low numbers of sheep or cattle can keep combustible grass, scrub and immature wilding pine levels down.

“Australia, the UK and the USA have learned this lesson but in New Zealand we seem to be going 180 degrees in the other direction.  In fire risk areas of those other nations, authorities are inviting farmers to graze livestock on public land – in fact, in some places are paying them to do so.”

On her return from the Climate Smart Agriculture event in Bali last year, former Feds President Katie Milne pointed out that Spain had rejected pressure for reductions in livestock numbers after it was pointed out that with fewer livestock chewing down grass and bush in forested areas, the losses and costs of forest fires already equivalent to around 3% of Spain’s GDP would accelerate.

For farmers, grazing adjacent DOC land can be more of a headache than a gain.  Because the areas are not fenced, mustering is time-consuming and the land is often such that the animals don’t put on much weight.

“Any grazing arrangement might only be for three months a year.  What is the farmer supposed to do with the animals for the other nine months?  That’s why it’s sensible to have long-term arrangements with land-owners immediately adjacent to DOC land, so there’s no costs trucking animals in and so on,” Rob says.

“Federated Farmers welcomes an opportunity to sit down with DOC for a sensible discussion on the practicalities of fire fuel loads on the public estate.” 

At least some of the people who are screaming loudest about the dangers of climate change are the ones who oppose mitigation – irrigation, and farming practices such as light grazing which have protected the high country for generations.


Rural round-up

21/07/2020

Coronavirus leads to uncertainty for slinkskin industry – Rachael Kelly:

Southland farmers may have to dispose of dead stock on their own farms this spring as the Covid-19 pandemic takes a toll on the slinkskin industry.

Usually dead stock is picked up by slinkskin companies, which process the skins for export, but Southland’s two processors were yet to decide whether they would collect dead lambs this spring.

And while company has implemented a charge for dead calf and cow collection, another has put their calf collection on hold.

Trevor Newton, of Newton Slinkskins at Mataura, said he had made the decision to put the calf collection on hold this season, and a decision on whether the company would collect dead lambs would be made ‘’in due course.’’ . . 

Mataura Valley Milk needs more money to stay afloat – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland milk company Mataura Valley Milk will require additional funding to stay afloat, after reporting a net loss of $47 million in the financial year ending December 2019.

The company, which earlier this year had been eyed up by a2 milk as a potential investment target, reported a projected funding deficit of $26 million by December 2020.

Financial statements were filed with Companies Office on July 14.

Shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group would provide financial support by helping to pay debts as well as offering possible cash injections and shareholder loans. The latter would not require principal or interest repayments if it would cause the company to default on debts. . . 

Rain in Bay helps but a long way to go – Peter Burke:

A Hawke’s Bay farm consultant is pleasantly surprised by what has happened in the region over the past few weeks, with rain falling in most places.

Lochie MacGillivray, who works for AgFirst and is also the chairperson of the Rural Advisory Group set up to help manage the drought recovery, says there has been an improvement in conditions. He says Hawkes Bay has had mild weather and soft rain, and the pasture response has been phenomenal.

“Typically, at this time of the year, farmers might think of having 9kg of dry matter growth, but right now they are getting between 12 and 14kg of dry matter,”

MacGillivray told Rural News. He says farmers will still have to conserve feed for their animals, but the good weather has enabled pastures to recover and shortened the time between now and the end of winter. . . 

Putting the fun back in farming – Andrew Hoggard:

 Federated Farmers’ new president Andrew Hoggard says farmers need more fun and less admin.

I have been involved with Federated Farmers leadership for 17 years now, starting out as the Young Farmers rep, then moving into the provincial Vice-Dairy role once I became an old fart at 31.

Now I have only three years left – or less if I really suck at my new job as national president.

Since taking on the role three weeks ago I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to what I would like to see achieved in my term

It’s certainly not lost on me the responsibilities that go with this privileged position within New Zealand’s agricultural scene. . . 

Keeping the lustre alive – Sally Round:

Despite the dire prices for wool, a couple in Kapiti are continuing a 130-year family tradition breeding sheep for their lustrous fleece.

Country Life producer Sally Round dropped in.

Ravenswood has a long history breeding the hardy English Leicester whose long curly wool has been likened to Bob Marley’s dreadlocks.

Its genetics contributed to the New Zealand Halfbred and Corriedale so it’s been a big player in the development of the country’s sheep industry.

Ravenswood is New Zealand’s oldest English Leicester stud, according to Fiona and John Robinson, who are continuing the family tradition and finding a niche market for their flock’s lustrous wool. . . 

Wandering steer Boris back after 13 years in the Canterbury wilderness :

A “crazy big” Angus steer who has wandered the mountainous Hurunui back country for nearly 13 years has returned home.

He turned up last week with a couple of Angus cows, and happily headed back to an easier life on the homestead paddocks of the 7000-hectare Island Hills Station, north-west of Culverden.

Station owner Dan Shand and his wife, Mandy, reckon the steer is at least 13 years old, and has been nicknamed Boris.

Boris still has the tag in his ear put there when he was weaned, but Dan says he will need his binoculars to read it, at least until the new arrival settles in with the bulls. . .


Rural round-up

10/07/2020

No place for gender bias in farming – Milne – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says having women in the farmer lobby leadership team is a reminder that NZ ag is about couples working together.

Milne, the first woman president of Feds, stepped down last month after serving her three-year term.

In her final speech at the Feds’ annual meeting, Milne said men and women bring their own perspectives and strengths to farming, neither being more important than the other.

“It’s useful to remind the rest of the country by having men and women – all working farmers – speaking for the organisation that those old newsreels of men out on the land on machinery and women confined to baking scones for the shearers is pre-war history, and even then it was a stereotype rather than the truth,” she said. . .

Election forestry Policy unnecessary:

Right now, we are in a Covid-19 recovery phase and an election year. Farmers feel good about keeping the economy going, but are challenged by climate change, freshwater regulations and afforestation. Some press releases strongly defend pastoral farming against encroaching forests, as if we are fighting over land use. We’re not. What both the farming and forestry sectors are doing is searching for the best way forward, post-covid, in terms of investing and adapting. What neither sector needs are knee-jerk regulations that distract from finding real solutions of mutual benefit. A diverse range of viewpoints is good for innovation, so let’s encourage it. The NZ Farm Forestry Association suggests we should avoid the myths, maintain perspective and share some new ideas.

The long-term perspective is that land use change has and should occur in response to developing markets and scientific guidance. . . 

Dairy prices lift the gloom for farmers but their future meanwhile is being plotted by Beehive planners with a vision:

Fonterra’s  boss  might have been  ultra-cautious   but  out on  the country’s dairy farms there  was a  subdued  cheer  at the  news  that the wholemilk powder price had leapt  14%  at  the  latest  GDT  auction..

The  GDT  index  rose  8.3%,  the biggest  rise   since  November  2016,  and the fourth   successive gain.   Fonterra’s  CEO   Miles  Hurrell  says  it’s  “really  surprising—no-one  saw a number of  this  magnitude”.

It dispels  some of the   gloom generated  by the  Covid-19 pandemic.  And it generates  the  hope  that  Fonterra pitched  its  forecast  for  the season too  low,  in  the  broad range  from $5.40kg/MS  to $US6.90.

Hurrell  suggested   suppliers    should not  get “too excited” by the WMP  result. Fonterra had put out excess product for immediate shipment, which resulted in “a bit of a flurry in that first event” .. . .

Farmers, foresters and fishing folk rejoice – the govt is fixing your wellbeing to a 10-year plan (and film-makers have not been forsaken) – Point of Order:

Latest from the Beehive

The government’s economic engineers were hard at work yesterday.  One minister was set on establishing a base for film production in Christchurch while – much more critically for the wellbeing of the nation – a cluster of others led by the PM were unveiling their grand design for reshaping the primary sector.  If they get it wrong (and we should never be sure politicians will get this sort of thing right), our economy will be dealt a greater mischief than ever was done by a pandemic.

Environment Minister David Parker was busy in the planning business, too, announcing appointments to the newly established Freshwater Planning Process and the Expert Consenting Panels for fast-track consenting.

Wearning his Attorney-General hat he also announced a new Judge of the High Court.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, meanwhile, was announcing immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised. . . 

Accelerating our economic potential: – Primary Land Users’ Group:

The Government plans to increase primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade with a goal of getting 10,000 more New Zealanders working in the sector over the next four years.

Prime Minister Ardern said the sector, which has proven essential for New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic, will be vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery.

HOW?

The plan sets a target of lifting primary sector export earnings to $10b a year by 2030 which would bring in a cumulative $44b more in earnings in a decade. If successful, the plan would almost double the current value of the primary sector. . .

Sustainability stars pick up awards :

Ten kiwi dairy farmers who have shown exceptional care for the environment have been recognised with a DairyNZ sustainability and stewardship award.

The award was part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. 

“The dairy sector has made a commitment under the Dairy Tomorrow strategy to protect and nurture the environment for future generations,” says Dr David Burger, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader – responsible dairy.  . . 

How will we recover from social isolation? – Stephen Burns:

Our species has been put on notice: the natural world will no longer tolerate the abuse it has taken for centuries and only exaggerated by recent avarice.

A minute organism, unable to be seen except through a microscope has brought the world as we have enjoyed to a grinding halt.

Invisible to a naked eye yet more powerful than any despotic politician, more devastating than the Global Financial Crisis and more destructive than a nuclear war head, COVID-19 has the power to threaten our continued existence. . .


%d bloggers like this: