Rural round-up

16/07/2021

Anyone listening? – Rural News:

The country’s farmers are feeling disregarded, discontented, disrespected and disgruntled.

On July 16, in more than 40 towns and cities (at the time of writing) around NZ, farmers will descend on to their main streets in their utes and tractors to express their utter exasperation with government, bureaucrats, mainstream media – even their own sector leadership.

This farmer angst has been building for more than a year, so the aptly-named Groundswell protests could well be the biggest show of farmer discontent in this country since the protests held at the height of the economic reforms of the 1980s.

How has it come to this? One would have thought that with record dairy prices, a strong red meat outlook and a booming horticulture sector, those on the land would be happy. However, that is far from the case. . .

Farmers to protest at ‘ill thought out’ government policies :

A farmer group is planning a protest at what it describes as unworkable government regulations and interference in farmers’ lives.

Groundswell NZ is organising ‘A Howl of a Protest’ in 47 towns and cities on Friday.

Co-founder Laurie Paterson said the “ute tax” was the issue people pointed the finger at, but farmers were also unhappy with the bureaucratic approach to the national policy statement for fresh water management.

Paterson said he had been involved in a catchment group which helped clean up the the Pomahaka River in Otago. “Eight years ago that was the worst river in Otago for quality and now, because the local people have bought into it, set up their own catchment group, all the things are in the green. . . 

Hundreds expected to roll into Timaru and Oamaru in protest – Chris Tobin & Yashas Srinivasa:

Organisers of the South Canterbury part of a nationwide protest on Friday are unsure how many vehicles to expect, but based on the interest registered – it is expected to run into the hundreds.

The protest, organised by rural pressure group Groundswell NZ, is in response to the impact of Government rules and proposed regulations, including the new Clean Car Discount Scheme, which will levy penalties on high-emission utes from January 2022.

Those organising the South Canterbury protest have divided participants into five groups – which will then travel in convoy towards Caroline Bay.

Meeting points have been arranged at five locations in Timaru, Temuka and Washdyke, which means they will be travelling on State Highway 1 into Caroline Bay. . . 

‘Enough is enough’: Canterbury’s rural mayors lend support to rural protest – Nadine Porter:

Mayors, tradies and business owners are set to join farmers in their thousands in what could be the largest mass rural protest in New Zealand’s history.

With more than 1000 farmers indicating they would bring their tractors into Christchurch’s Cathedral Square on Friday, Banks Peninsula farmer Aaron Stark had to take action.

“It was getting too big for our liking.”

Stark has been co-ordinating the Christchurch “Howl of a Protest” on behalf of Groundswell NZ against increasing Government interference in people’s life and business, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs. . . 

Farmers gearing up to descend on New Plymouth for Taranaki’s ‘howl of protest’ – Brianna Mcilraith:

A man who’s been part of the rural community his entire life has organised Taranaki’s leg of a nationwide protest against a raft of new regulations seen as a threat to the country’s farming future.

“The ute tax is the straw that’s broke the camel’s back,” Kevin Moratti said of recently announced regulations making lower-carbon-emitting cars more affordable for New Zealanders, while putting a fee on higher-emission vehicles such as utes.

“We just need the whole community to realise what’s happening to us,” he said.

“I’ve had to calm so many people down. There’s a lot of feeling out there, enough is enough.” . . 

“Get the shingle out” say Ashburton’s flood-hit farmers – Adam Burns:

Get the shingle out of the river, then come back with more money.

This was the bottom line for the flood-wrecked farmers of Ashburton’s Greenstreet area at the first of three community meetings held this week.

The region’s flood protection infrastructure, and funding were some of the main topics covered off during the 90 minute session at the Greenstreet community hall in a meeting attended by nearly 80 people.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) rivers manager Leigh Griffiths told attendees that there remained “some risk with the river”.

One woman, who was facing more than a year out of her home due to flood damage, told speakers of how disappointed she was around how the river was going to be managed moving forward. . .

Evolving NZ Dairy industry sparks changes to dairy trainee category:

The New Zealand dairy industry is constantly evolving and with this in mind, exciting changes to the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards programme have been announced.

The age range for the Dairy Trainee category is now 18 years to 30 years with a maximum of three years’ experience from the age of 18, and the online entry form has been simplified.

Additional conditions for visa entrants have been removed with no minimum length of time in New Zealand required.

The modifications to the Dairy Trainee age range recognises that traditional pathways into the dairy industry have altered. . . 


Rural round-up

04/07/2021

Minimum wage rise no joke – Karen Trebilcock:

In her Dairy 101 column, Karen Trebilcock gave a rundown on wages, asking “are you ready for the minimum wage change?”

Far from being an April Fool’s joke, it was the start of the financial year for many businesses, but not farmers.

If you’re a farm owner with sharemilkers or contract milkers you may think it won’t affect you but it does. The profitability of their business, and so yours, just took a hit.

Back in 2015 the minimum wage was $14.25. That’s about a 40% increase if my maths is right. For farm staff, employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour they work on farm whether they are employed on an hourly rate or on a salary and it can’t be averaged out over a season. If you pay weekly it has to be weekly, if you pay fortnightly it has to be fortnightly but if you pay monthly it still has to be for a fortnight. Two weeks is the most you can average the hours out over. . . 

Wool making a comeback thanks to Covid – Lorraine Mapu:

Once a star export earner, the fortunes of strong wool have hit rock bottom. But could Covid-19 be an unlikely saviour?

The story of New Zealand’s strong wool exports is one of faded fortunes — from the wool boom of the 1950s, when it was our biggest export commodity — to thousands of tonnes of wool now sitting in storage, as world prices hit new lows.

Recent decades have seen the demand for wool decline to the point where shearing sheep now costs more than farmers make from selling their wool. . .

AI alive and kicking in our orchards and paddocks – Andrea Fox:

Somewhere in New Zealand a computer is learning from an expert horticulture pruner the best place to cut a branch. The computer will go on to help a beginner pruner make the right decision.

On a kiwifruit orchard in the Bay of Plenty, researchers are working out how counting and calculating the density of buds and flowers will maximise the harvest.

In that small aircraft above them is a tool to analyse nutrient content and water stress in the foliage, while over the Kaimais in the Waikato, a dairy farmer knows a cow is unwell even though he can’t see her.

Artificial intelligence at work in rural New Zealand. Some of it hasn’t been commercialised yet, and there’s concern New Zealand isn’t investing enough and we risk getting left behind by our agribusiness competitors, but AI is alive and kicking in our orchards and paddocks. . .

ECAN prioritises flood infrastructure – Annette Scott:

Canterbury’s farmers should not expect assistance from Environment Canterbury (ECan) for the recovery of their flood-ravaged farms.

ECan river manager Leigh Griffiths says council is confident that its flood protection infrastructure did its job and that it could not accept allegations of mismanagement or responsibility.

“ECan has a mandate from council to maintain flood protection assets for properties that form a rating district, but does not have the mandate to remove rocks and gravel from any property,” Griffiths said.

Staff may work on private land where this assists in delivering to needs of the rating district, such as where the removal of debris, trees, gravels, forms part of work required to meet the wider flood protection objectives within the rating district. . . 

Johne’s milk test in the offing :

A test to detect Johne’s Disease and pregnancy from a single milk sample in cattle is being developed. Auckland-based biotechnology company Pictor Limited says it has been developing a multiplex bovine test, via a $404,040 grant from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund. The test, which is being created in collaboration with Massey University, will initially aim to detect Johne’s Disease and pregnancy from a single milk sample. . . 

Bayer opens application window for Grants4Ag sustainability focused programme:

Bayer announced today the opening of its application window for the company’s annual Grants4Ag initiative. For more than five years, the agricultural leader has offered researchers both financial and scientific support to develop their ideas for novel solutions to research and development challenges in agriculture. Since its inception in 2015, over 100 grants have been awarded. This year Bayer’s Grants4Ag winning projects will focus on advancing a more sustainable food system. The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2021.

“Our 2020 Grants4Ag program exceeded our expectations in attracting top proposals across a range of R&D activities,” said Phil Taylor, Open Innovation Lead for the Crop Science division at Bayer. “At Bayer, we promote the responsible use of the world’s resources so this year our Grants4Ag program will support those commitments to advance a more sustainable food system by highlighting projects in that area.”

Bayer’s Grants4Ag program does not have any reporting requirements and each applicant retains ownership of any intellectual property developed. Taylor says the company views these grants as an initial investment with the potential to become larger-scale, longer-term collaborations with Bayer. . . 


%d bloggers like this: