Rural round-up

11/09/2020

Farming on a senseless slippery slope:

A recent decision to extend 5.8 million hectares of land designated as ‘low slope’ to 9.6 million hectares is causing trouble for affected farmers.

The controversial map deeming 9.6 million hectares of NZ’s pastoral land as ‘low slope’ with specific stock exclusion zones has been described by North Otago farmer and sustainability advocate Jane Smith as “not fit for human consumption” let alone being stamped as regulation.

“Some bureaucrat has managed to change the topography of New Zealand – with the area defined as ‘low slope’ – growing from 5.8 million hectares in 2019 to 9.6 million hectares overnight with a simple stroke of a pen,” Jane Smith says.

She has no doubt this will be the ruling that breaks farmers’ backs. . .

Dairy industry proves durable under Covid-19 – NZIER report – Eric Frykberg:

Dairy sales have gained strength despite the pandemic but the industry could be undermined by government policy, an NZIER report says.

The report, written by the economic consultancy’s principal economist Chris Nixon, said the industry had brushed aside Covid-19 – earning more money, not less – and had defences against a movement towards trade protectionism and dairy substitutes such as almond milk.

It said the dairy industry had proven itself to be a durable part of the New Zealand economy and this would continue for the foreseeable future, but it needed careful attention from the government to maintain confidence.

Nixon said while many primary sectors rose modestly during Covid-19, or fell, dairy sales were strong. . . 

Out there living life and going places – Sally Rae:

Nine years ago, Anita Kendrick’s life was thrown upside down when she broke her back in a quad-bike accident while mustering sheep. Facing life in a wheelchair, she did not let her disability deter her from continuing her career in farming. Sally Rae reports.

Anita Kendrick is on the hunt for a job in the South Island.

The 27-year-old King Country shepherd said she had been keen for a long time to move south but, until now, had not had the confidence to do so. But that was now instilled and she was ready for a change.

Armed with her team of working dogs, she did not have the ideal job in mind — nor an area — although she was keen to work with sheep more than cattle, as they were more “user friendly”. She was also interested in getting involved in the stud aspect of breeding. . . 

Feds relieved wilding pine control efforts to ramp up:

Federated Farmers is relieved to see the government put more muscle today behind a nationwide plan to tackle more than 800,000 hectares of wilding pine infestations.

Last week’s massive fire in the Mackenzie Basin burnt an area of 2,000 hectares, mostly the pest ‘wilding’ pine trees and scrub.

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare went to the Mackenzie District last week to survey the fire damage near Lake Pukaki, the spread of which has in part been attributed to the wilding pines. . .

East-West divide dictates meat returns :

An East-West Covid split is dictating global meat returns for New Zealand farmers.

Countries like China, Taiwan and Japan, which acted early and implemented successful lockdowns, now find their economies on a firmer footing.

This is reflecting on receipts for NZ meat exports to these countries, says Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny.

A resurging Chinese economy bodes well for lamb and mutton demand as the country accounts for a large share of New Zealand’s exports. . .

 

Innovative technology protects crops, farmers and our future – Balwinder Singh Kang:

The swarm of locusts was so large, it blackened the sky in the middle of the day.

If we hadn’t known that this plague of pests was coming to attack our farms, we might have thought it was a massive dust storm or an eclipse of the sun.

Because we knew the locusts were on the move, we were ready for them. As they descended on our crops, our entire village came out to defend our fields. This was a struggle for survival-and the lesson we learned is that farmers like us need the best technologies to defeat this threat to our way of life. . . 


Why and where’s Waitaki grown?

08/10/2013

Population projections for the Waitaki District have been gloomy for years.

The trend has been for fewer people and the average age of those left getting higher.

But yesterday’s announcement by Statistics New Zealand of electorate populations from this year’s census shows that the Waitaki Electorate’s population has increased from 60,135 to 64, 962.

The electorate includes not just the Waitaki District but most of Central Otago, all of Waimate and Mackenzie Districts, part of Queenstown Lakes and part of Timaru City.

QLDC was expected to increase in population because of Queenstown’s growth but that town is in neighbouring Clutha Southland electorate, not Waitaki.

Wanaka, which is in Waitaki, has grown but more than 3,000 extra people would almost have doubled its population which is unlikely.

There’s been a mini boom in grape growing in Central which will have brought more people into the area but again I’d be surprised if it’s thousands.

Both Waimate and Waitaki Districts have had a big increase in dairy farming which increases employment opportunities on and off farm.

Could it be that anecdotal evidence of a population increase, and a lowering of the average age, because of dairying is reflected in official statistics?

The answer to why Waitaki has grown and where will come when more census data is released.


Canterbury too big for one council

10/10/2012

ECan commissioners have recommended that a unitary authority be considered for Canterbury for the 2016 elections.

I’m supportive of the idea of unitary authorities in general.

Separate city or district and regional councils add costs and layers of bureaucracy which could be reduced if their functions came under one local body.

But Canterbury is too big and diverse for a single council.

The size of the existing regional council, dominance of Christchurch and distance from it has always been problematic for people in that part of the Waitaki District which comes under ECan, it would be even worse under a single authority.

The Waitaki River has long been a physical and social boundary between Canterbury and Otago, but there could be a case for combining the Waitaki, Waimate and Mackenzie councils as a unitary authority.

It might need Timaru as well to give the numbers and rating base for a viable council and that would provide a reasonable urban/rural balance.

The districts north of the Rangitata River could unite to form another unitary authority with Christchurch.

Two unitary authorities might work, one over such a large area with so many disparate concerns and issues would not.


Beauty and blots

08/06/2009

The ODT’s report on plans for irrigation in the Mackenzie basin illustrates two opposing views.

Forest and Bird South Island conservation manager Chris Todd said the proposed irrigation to allow intensive farming of the basin could turn its “spectacular dry, sunburnt vistas” into a replica of the highly developed Canterbury Plains.

“Industrial-scale farming in our most fragile and visually stunning high country landscapes is not sustainable.”

The second has a different view:

Mackenzie Irrigation Company director Murray Valentine, of Dunedin, said compared with the size of the Mackenzie Basin, the 27,000ha that farmers wanted to irrigate was very small.

The plan was not to irrigate the high country but the “flat land”, he said.

If farmers got approval, they could increase stock rates per hectare by up to 15 times.

“We’re talking about areas that are basically the nearest thing we have to desert and are completely modified with hieracium and wilding pines.”

In some countries bringing life to the desert, with the economic, environmental and social benefits which follow is seen as a wonderful achievement.

The scenery in this area is stunning to most people, but they drive through it at 100 kilometres an hour – or faster – on the journey between Canterbury and Central Otago.

It’s a different picture for many of those who live in the Mackenzie. They too see beauty but those “spectacular, dry sunburnt vistas”  are heartbreaking for people trying to earn a living who would regard the green pastures of Canterbury as paradise.

It’s possible to make objective decisions on such things as pollution of waterways, but beauty is subjective.

One person’s stunning scenery is another’s blot on the landscape.


Dean leads ST poll of Waitaki

05/11/2008

National’s Otago MP and Waitaki candidate  Jacqui Dean is ahead in a Southland Times poll of the Waitaki Electorate.

In the same poll conducted by The Southland Times leading up to the 2005 election, Mrs Dean led sitting Otago MP David Parker by 8 percentage points and went on to win the then Otago seat by 5.5 per cent, a margin of almost 2000 votes – righting a “blip” from the 2002 election when Mr Parker won the traditionally National electorate.

The Otago electorate no longer exists, with Central Otago and Wanaka now included in the Waitaki electorate.

It now covers 34,888 sqaure kilometres taking in all of Central Otago, Waitaki, Waimate and Mackenzie Districts with bits of the Timaru and Queenstown Lakes Districts.

Activity and publicity so far indicate Jacqui is the only candidate actively seeking both the electorate and party vote and that is reflected in the poll.

In this year’s poll, Mrs Dean leads by 14 percentage points, with 42 per cent of support, compared with 28 per cent support for Mr Parker. Third highest poller was Green Party candidate Oliver Briggs on 2.3 per cent support.

But with a quarter of voters polled still undecided Mr Parker could still take the seat if they swung his way.

Results were closer in the party vote, with 37.7 per cent of voters supporting National, and 31.7 per cent Labour. Act was on 2 per cent and New Zealand First on 1.3 per cent support.

In the 2005 election, National won the party vote in the Otago electorate by 5 per cent over Labour.

A popular MP will always win more support than his or her party because some people will split their votes, giving one to the MP but not giving the second tick to her/his party.

So while I’d expect Jacqui’s popularity to transcend party loyalty I think both she and National will get more support on Satruday than this poll indicates.

It is not a deep blue electorate but 37.7% is about 10 points below the average  support for National in nationwide polls and it would be unusual if Waitaki was that different from the rest of the country.


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