Rural round-up

30/06/2022

Forestry Amendment Bill fails to achieve fairness :

New rules fall short of delivering a level playing field when overseas investors buy our farmland for forestry, Federated Farmers says.

It’s a “step in the right direction” to scrap the much-criticised special forestry test, Feds Gisborne-Wairoa President Toby Williams said. Instead, overseas investors purchasing farmed land for conversion to forestry would be required to meet the Overseas Investment Office ‘general benefit to New Zealand test’.

“But it will continue to be an uneven land-use playing field because investors buying farmland to continue to raise crops and livestock run up against the much more stringent Farm Land Benefit test.”

Speaking to the Finance & Expenditure Select Committee on the Overseas Investment (Forestry) Amendment Bill this morning, Toby said the general benefit test that would apply to farmland to forestry conversions “provides a slightly higher hurdle but it is nothing like as onerous as the farmland test. . . 

Farmers can reduce emissions and reach the 2030 targets – Kelly Forster:

Those who criticise He Waka Eke Noa for relying on ‘unproven technofixes’ ignore New Zealand’s very strong history of agricultural innovation, argues Kelly Forster

Opinion: On a stud sheep farm in Southland, Leon and Wendy Black are breeding low-methane-emitting rams, which Leon says gives farmers a viable option for reducing their methane emissions.

As Leon says, we now have the tools to measure methane production, and through tweaking the genetics the right way, we can reduce emissions in small incremental steps, improving every generation.

Over three breeding generations this could reduce a farm’s methane emissions between 5 percent and 10 percent. . . 

Otago property native carbon groundbreaker – Sally Rae:

An Otago station is one of the first properties to receive Native CarbonCrop Units through Nelson-founded climate tech startup CarbonCrop.

CarbonCrop, which was established in 2020, yesterday launched Native CarbonCrop Units (CCUs) to enable landowners with native reforestation to access revenue, outside the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The company worked with 15 landowners throughout the country in a pre-launch pilot and more than 5000 CCUs were certified for 631ha of native regeneration, worth about $260,000 at current prices, a statement from the company said.

More than $140,000 of those credits have been sold via the Carbonz platform to companies including Christchurch Airport, Heilala Vanilla and Les Mills. . . 

Counting our farming emissions – Sharon Brettkelly:

There are plenty of farmers out there doing everything they can to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The Detail takes a trip to a dairy farm in south Waikato to find out how one farming couple is doing it.

“It’s a beast,” says Tokoroa dairy farmer George Moss.  

He’s not talking about one of his cows – he’s talking about the job of understanding, counting and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the farm he runs with his wife, Sharon. 

New Zealand will be the first country in the world to price emissions at the farmgate, if the agriculture sector’s plan – He Waka Eke Noa – is agreed to by the government.  . . 

2022 kiwifruit harvest complete :

The 2022 harvest of New Zealand’s largest horticultural produce, kiwifruit, is now largely complete with almost all 2,800 growers’ orchards from Kerikeri in the north to Motueka in the south picked for consumers. The 2022 season was expected to have a record-breaking crop of at least 190 million trays of kiwifruit, overtaking last year’s record of over 177 million trays. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit. However, revisions in the forecast indicate that this year’s volume will be below 2021. Current thought to the reduction is due to labour supply, crop loading and weather. Investigation is this space is ongoing.

2022 also marks the first year that Zespri’s new RubyRed kiwifruit was picked as a commercial variety, which was then followed by the gold and green varieties. The sweet, berry-tinged tasting red kiwifruit was picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and overseas markets.

Despite the uncertainty of seasonal labour supply at the beginning of the year, all growers had the opportunity to have their kiwifruit picked and packed. The success of the 2022 kiwifruit harvest hinged on the ability for industry’s supply chain to operate effectively with a restricted labour supply under the changing COVID-19 settings. The 24,000 seasonal workers required to pick and pack the crop were restricted due to COVID-19 infection rates as well as closed borders which limited the 6,500 backpackers traditionally utilised for harvest operations.

CEO of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI), Colin Bond says that experience of COVID-19 from the two previous seasons gave the kiwifruit industry the foresight to streamline processes across the supply chain to mitigate foreseeable risks. . . 

New AgWorkNZ initiative aims to fill NZ’s extreme agri-worker shortages :

New worker placement initiative Ag Work NZ aims to fill New Zealand’s huge farm worker and tractor driver shortages for our thriving primary industry. Ag Work NZ is affiliated with rural driver training provider Ag Drive, and will bring experienced staff over from the UK, Ireland and Europe on holiday working visas, following the reopening of NZ’s borders.

Director Andre Syben says the launch of Ag Work NZ is perfectly timed to fill the extreme farm worker shortages in New Zealand, while capitalising on the re-opening of NZ borders after the Covid-19 pandemic closures.

“What we’re hearing from New Zealand farmers and agricultural contractors is that they’re desperate for staff,” says Syben.

Northern hemisphere workers will be recruited by Ag Works’ own UK-based team, who will interview and screen workers. Then, in conjunction with Ag Works NZ-based recruitment team, potential workers will be matched with NZ farm and agricultural employers for an online interview. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/02/2021

Hackles rise over stock reduction numbers – Hamish MacLean:

A possible 15% reduction in livestock numbers on red meat and dairy farms by 2030 could break New Zealand’s under-pressure agriculture industry, some farmers fear.

While industry groups are taking a cautious approach to the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice package, its preferred path includes reduced livestock numbers by 2030.

And the already weary farming sector feared an urban-centred Government could again make changes for rural New Zealand that did not match what was happening on the ground, Riverton sheep farmer Leon Black said.

Mr Black, a former Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director, said any policy that led to fewer farms in the South would be catastrophic for rural communities. . . 

Concern over land reform changes – Annette Scott:

Changes proposed in the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill threaten the viability of high country farming for pastoral lessees.

The Bill proposes to amend the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and the Land Act 1948, to end tenure review and redesign the regulatory system to deliver improved Crown pastoral outcomes.

But farmers say the Bill is poorly drafted, placing unreasonable limitations on day-to-day farming activities for pastoral leaseholders.

Farmers will be bogged down in red tape and environmental outcomes would go backwards. . . 

Zespri faces a China conundrum – Keith Woodford:

China is New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit market. Growth of this market has been spectacular with the Zespri-owned SunGold variety much-loved by Chinese consumers. The problem is that the Chinese are also growing at least 4000 hectares of SunGold without the permission of Zespri. 

That compares to about 7000 hectares of SunGold grown in New Zealand.

The question now facing Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is what to do about it.  There are no easy solutions.

This issue is something I discussed with local folk in the kiwifruit-growing regions of China way back in the years between 2012 and 2015. It did not need an Einstein to work out that the SunGold budwood was already there. . . 

Kiwifruit settlement a token, but an important one – Nikki Mandow:

This weekend’s settlement over PSA kiwifruit disease compensation is good news for the taxpayer, but bad news for business owners, particularly farmers. 

On Saturday morning, a group of kiwifruit growers announced they had reached a settlement with the Crown over damages they suffered after virulent kiwifruit vine disease PSA entered New Zealand. The bacteria arrived in 2009 in imported Chinese pollen because of a Ministry of Primary Industries biosecurity blunder at the border, and it devastated the industry.

The growers wanted $450 million, plus interest, to compensate them for the destruction of their orchards; in some cases the destruction of their livelihoods. 

But late on Friday night, with the final stage of a seven year-long court battle due to start in the Supreme Court today, they settled for $40 million. . . 

‘Absolutely gutted’: Maniototo A&P Show cancelled over alert level move – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Maniototo A&P Show, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled.

Secretary Janine Smith said organisers made the tough decision to cancel the show after the Government moved the nation to Alert Level 2 and Auckland to Alert Level 3 on Sunday night.

The situation was being assessed by the Government every 24 hours. . . 

Cattle game is trusted; but society still wants oversight – Shan Goodwin:

Cattle producers enjoy a high level of trust by the Australian community but that does not equate to support for a relaxed regulatory environment.

This is the key finding from first-of-its-kind independent research into public perceptions of the cattle industry’s environmental performance, from a team headed up by The University of Queensland.

The work points to the need for a rethink of how the industry sometimes frames the relationship between environmental regulation and community trust.

A well-designed regulatory framework that is developed with the engagement of key stakeholders enables the demonstration of sound environmental performance and should not be framed as a burden, or the result of society being ‘on our back’, says lead researcher Dr Bradd Witt. . . 


Rural round-up

21/11/2013

Canterbury dairy farms under fire – Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury dairy farmers are under fire after a new report found almost a third of farms in the region weren’t complying with consenting rules.

Environment Canterbury’s regional dairy report identified 68 farms with major issues – a discovery environmental group Fish and Game is calling a disgrace.

Canterbury farmer Vaughan Beazer runs one of the region’s 717 fully compliant dairy farms. He says he prides himself on having a farm that’s clean and green.

“We live on the land, we don’t just bypass it and go look at this pretty little paddock […] We look at and that is our livelihood, that is our environment, it’s our inheritance and what we’ll bequeath to our children… it is everything to us.”

But Environment Canterbury’s latest dairying report proves not every farmer shares Mr Beazer’s view.

It monitored almost 1,000 farms, and more than 70 percent were fully compliant. But one third of them didn’t meet the grade, and 68 farms had major non-compliance issues. . .

Lost in translation – Willy Leferink:

Being a Dutch-Kiwi I have come to accept that things don’t always come out as expected.  Some things can get lost in translation between what you say and what people think you said.

I put reports I got of a speech made to a business audience in Auckland by Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings, into that category.  Being a compatriot of mine, I know Theo holds the Kiwi dairy industry in high esteem and not just for our productivity, but for the way we manage environmental matters inside the farm gate.

What has been lost in translation is the conversation relating to Fonterra’s environmental performance as a company and not the whole cooperative.  What was reported is that Fonterra isn’t doing anything about the environment when Theo said that Fonterra did not have the environment as an overall part of its strategy. Theo pointed out that our European competitors had upwards of a decade’s march on Fonterra.  What was lost in translation is that the European processors were forced to do this because of draconian regulation in order to help their shareholders out.  As companies, they have moved to get a lot closer to their consumers and we can learn from that. . . .

Vege growers concerned about co-op – Alan Wood,

Some shareholders in large vegetable distribution co-operative MG Marketing are upset the co-op has started to grow vegetables in competition with them.

The “producer in its own right” role taken on by MG Marketing could financially harm the growers it represents, growers representatives said.

MG Marketing is the trading name of Market Gardeners Ltd, one of New Zealand’s biggest co-operative companies specialising in growing and distributing fresh produce. It has run for more than 90 years and competes against the likes of Turners & Growers.

Max Lilley, former chairman and president of the NZ Vegetable and Produce Growers’ Federation and now retired, said the co-operative was making the wrong decision by apparently buying into some vegetable and produce operations. . .

Keep it clean to keep New Zealand clean:

Federated Farmers has joined with the National Pest Control Agencies to promote farmgate biosecurity with a hygiene guideline and logbook for farm machinery called “Keep it Clean.”

“Machinery movements pose a persistent high risk in pest spread,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“Soil on a bulldozer in Canterbury was found to contain seeds from at least 73 different species and there are at least 80 pest species known to be typically moved by machinery.

“The pastoral sector is facing the spread of pest plants like Chilean needle grass while trying to contain pest insects, like the Great White Cabbage Butterfly. . .

Federated Farmers’ simplify hiring migrants:

Federated Farmers has produced a practical all in one electronic document to help dairy farmers to navigate and simplify the process for dairy farmers to hire migrant workers.

“While we would love to hire capable kiwi workers, there is a shortage of kiwis willing to do the work because there is a common misperception that agriculture is a low paid and low skilled career,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“To help farmers fill this gap with capable and available migrant workers, we have put together one simple document so that employers can follow the immigration process without the headache. . .

Hunters get voice with new Game Animal Council:

Hunters of deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs will now have a say in their recreation with today’s passage by Parliament of the Game Animal Council Act 69 votes to 51.

“The establishment of the Game Animal Council Act is great news for tens of thousands of New Zealanders who hunt. It enables them to join mountaineers, trampers, game bird hunters, and trout and salmon fishers in having a statutory voice into the management of their recreation on public conservation land,” Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

The Game Animal Council Act establishes an independent statutory body to give greater representation to the interests of recreational hunters. Key functions of the council include advising and making recommendations to the Minister on hunting issues, providing information and education to the sector, promoting safety initiatives, conducting game animal research, and undertaking management functions for designated herds of special interest.  . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Calls For Director Nominations:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd (B+LNZ) is calling for nominations to fill two farmer-elected director positions on its board.

They are for the Eastern North Island and Southern South Island, where both positions will be vacant due to the current directors not seeking re-election.

B+LNZ Chairman and Eastern North Island Director, Mike Petersen has served on the B+LNZ board since 2004. Southern South Island Director, Leon Black is also standing down, having served on the board since 2008.

Nominations to fill these vacancies need to be made to the B+LNZ Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp by 5pm on Friday 20 December. Farmers can call him on 0508 666 336 to get information on how to make a nomination. . .

North Island rural consultants win Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards:

A “rock star” of farm consulting who shares his success with his clients has taken one of two top prizes at the inaugural Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

John Cannon, of Hastings, won the Farmax Consultant of the Year for the North Island. While AgFirst Hawkes Bay consultant Ben Harker was named Farmax Emerging Consultant of the Year for all of New Zealand.

They each were awarded their titles at the Farmax Consultants’ Conference in Rotorua on November 19. . .


Rural round-up

25/08/2012

Wet winter helping to spread killer kiwifruit infection – Jamie Morton:

The wettest winter some kiwifruit growers have seen is hampering efforts to stop Psa-V, at a time when the vine-killing disease is attacking New Zealand’s most popular variety.

The disease, which has ravaged gold kiwifruit orchards throughout the country since its discovery in Te Puke two years ago, is now being seen in a spate of serious cases among the green variety that makes up the bulk of the industry.

More than 60 orchards have notified industry group Kiwifruit Vine Health of possible Psa-V, and it is feared the disease could eventually reach up to half of New Zealand’s green kiwifruit growers. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for farmers to get more Americans eating lamb

Two Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer directors are meeting with the project partners involved with the Tri-Lamb Group which has a goal to get more Americans eating lamb.

Central South Island Director, Anne Munro and Southern South Island Director, Leon Black are in Idaho, representing New Zealand sheep farmers alongside their fellow Tri- Lamb Group representatives from Australia and the United States.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion said the collaborative promotion by the three sheep producing nations is built around the understanding that the profitability and sustainability of the lamb market in the US is important for farmers in all three countries. . .

Unlike humans, fat bees are healthy bees:

Federated Farmers is highlighting how everyone can make a difference to whether bees are healthily ‘fat’ or sickly skinny.

“Just like with all livestock, the health of bees reflects the protein and energy sources available to them,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson and an exporter of bee products.

“Good protein and nectar produces fat bees and in nature, fat bees are healthy bees. Federated Farmers I guess is standing up for the right of bees to become fat.

“We are keen to work with anyone and everyone to provide positive environments for the honeybee to flourish. 

“After several years’ work, Federated Farmers Trees for Bees now has ten regional planting guides available for anyone to create a bee friendly space.  While they are available from a number of websites, all you have to do is type “trees for bees” into Google. . .

Varroa is not the only threat to our honey bees – Bruce Wills:

In 2000, the sum of all fears for New Zealand’s beekeepers took place when the Varroa Destructor Mite was confirmed in Auckland.

A mere six years later, Varroa had jumped the Cook Strait to reach Nelson and progressively, over the past six years, has spread south.

This year it reached as south as you can travel in mainland New Zealand; Bluff. If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease.

Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives.

While people may judge the bee industry by the honey they purchase at a farmer’s market or the supermarket, that is a drop in the bucket.

The real value of honeybees is as pollinators par-excellence. . .

Varroa spreads but the battle for bees goes on:

By reaching Bluff in the 12 years since the Varroa Mite was first confirmed in Auckland, one of the world’s worst bee threats is close to completing its colonisation of New Zealand.

“Has Varrora had an impact on New Zealand? Absolutely,” confirms John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees chairperson and a major exporter of bee products.

“If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease. Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives. . . .

“That should give pause for thought as we celebrate the Honey Bee this week and the massive contribution this mighty insect makes to us all. The value of pollination alone is conservatively estimated at $5 billion each year.

Forest industry transforming itself

The forest and wood processing industries are moving quickly on a strategy to transform the sector.

The Wood Council (Woodco) has just given the go-ahead to a $400,000 research-based initiative which aims to get the highest value out of every cubic metre of timber harvested. Known as Woodscape, it is modelled on a major study carried out for the Canadian forest products industry in 2009.

“In the next decade we will see an increase in the harvest. We are determined to extract the best value we can from this resource and reinvigorate our sector,” says Woodco chair Doug Ducker. . .

PGG Wrightson reports $55m turnaround in bottom line profits

Rural services leader PGG Wrightson Limited (NZX: PGW) has announced an improved operating performance with earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) for the year ended 30 June 2012 at $55.2m compared to $49.4m in the year ended June 2011.

Operating revenue was up 7.2% at $1,336.8m compared with $1,247.2m for 2011, while net profit after tax (NPAT) was at $24.5m, a $55.2m turnaround from the 2011 loss of $30.7m. A substantial turnaround in net operating cash flow to $58.6m (2011: $4.9m) reflected a strong focus on working capital and particularly debtor management, while enabling the company to reduce bank debt. Net interest costs were reduced to $13.8m from $28.1m for the prior period . .

New Zealand’s first Albariño wine awarded a Trophy on debut:

In 2011 one barrel of New Zealand’s first Albariño wine was made by Coopers Creek Vineyard and praised by wine critics. The second vintage has just been released and in its very first outing has been awarded a Trophy at the prestigious Bragato Wine Awards, held during the wine industry’s annual conference. The Select Vineyards Gisborne Albariño 2012 is available in restaurants and fine wine stores nationally. . .


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