Rural round-up

October 29, 2019

How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke says her community is under threat if the government’s Essential Water policy passes into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . .

Farmers only lukewarm on plan :

Farmer and new Environment Canterbury councillor Ian Mackenzie is cautious in his enthusiasm for the Government’s about-turn on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a world-first government-industry partnership the Government has backed down on taxing farmers and brokered a deal with the agricultural sector to manage and mitigate on-farm emissions.

It will avoid farmers being included in the ETS if they can commit to a new sector-led plan.

“Clearly, this is good news but it doesn’t necessarily send me skipping across the spring green paddocks with joy,” Mackenzie, an Ashburton cropping and livestock farmer, said. He was also Federated Farmers environment spokesman and a member of the Land and Water Forum. . .

MIA big guns next up in China – Alan Williams:

It follows a successful visit by a smaller technical team in late September that made clear NZ’s keenness to partner with the Chinese industry to help modernise and improve supply chain systems, including cold store infrastructure, the association’s trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva said. . .

 

Synlait Milk buys Canterbury’s Dairyworks :

Synlait Milk is buying Canterbury’s Dairyworks for $112 million as part of its push into the consumer market.

The speciality milk producer said Dairyworks was a good fit for its everyday dairy strategy, and complemented the recent purchase of cheese manufacturer Talbot Forest.

Dairyworks supplied New Zealand with almost half of its cheese, a quarter of its butter, as well as milk powder and Deep South ice-cream. . .

90-year-old Northland Kiwifruit farmer feeding the world – Susan Botting:

Northland grower Zela Charlton, 90, enjoys feeding the world from her Glenbervie kiwifruit orchard.

“My reward is feeding the people of the world. Even if it’s a bit of a luxury, kiwifruit is a very nourishing food,” Charlton said.

The nonagenarian loves kiwifruit – both green and gold.

“You can’t imagine what a perfectly ripe kiwifruit taken straight off the vine tastes like – it’s out of this world.” . . 

Win for prime agrcultural land – Mitchel Clapham:

NSW Farmers has lobbied long and hard to protect our prime agricultural land and water resources in the face of increased mining and CSG activity.

On May 1, 2012, NSW Farmers spearheaded the ‘Protect our Land and Water Rally’ in Macquarie Street, joining with many other organisations like the CWA to galvanise support for local food and fibre production.

In response, the state government developed a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and Gateway process, which was supposed to map and protect Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL), which comprises only 3 per cent of NSW. . .

 


Working with better than against

October 25, 2019

The government has seen sense and is accepting the primary sector’s proposal on agricultural emissions.

The agreement means agriculture will not join the Emissions Trading Scheme but instead work with the Government to reduce emissions.

There will be no processor levy from 2020 to 2025 as initially proposed but farmers and growers will have to implement farm plans and calculate their emissions and offsets at the farmgate from 2025.

A processor level would have penalised more efficient farmers and given no-one an incentive to improve.

Such a tax would have taken money from farmers, leaving them with less to invest in on-farm solutions.

Progress will be reviewed in 2022 and if the Government is unhappy it will revert to the original legislation.

That threat will hang over the sector but at least there’s breathing space.

We are pleased that the Government has recognised that it does not make sense to bring agriculture into the ETS and that we have a pathway to work with the Government to develop a more appropriate framework,” the sector said in a joint statement.

“We welcome this pragmatic and sensible decision by the Government to work in partnership with industry to achieve tangible on-farm change and hope that it might provide a blueprint for the way we work together to solve environmental challenges in the future.”

Would it be too much to hope a similar approach could be taken to water policy?

The 11-member primary sector group has committed $25m over five years to achieve these goals.

That group is Apiculture NZ, Beef + Lamb, DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association, Deer Industry NZ, Federation of Maori Authorities, Foundation for Arable Research, Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ and the Meat Industry Association. . .

This shows the importance of unity and what can be achieved when working together.

It also shows the sense of government working with the sector instead of trying to impose impossible goals on it.

Federated Farmers’ response is here.

DairyNZ’s response is here.

 


Rural round-up

September 17, 2019

Government freshwater proposals a blunt instrument:

The Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“We know that freshwater is at the centre of many New Zealanders’ way of life and that collectively we need to continue to improve,” says MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.

“MIA generally welcomes the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways. Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.

“The meat processing sector has  also invested significantly in wastewater treatment upgrades and made considerable improvements.

“However, the critical part to get right is to ensure there is enough flexibility in the legislation so that each local situation can still be considered on its merits and that we focus on the outcomes that communities want for their freshwater. . .

Canterbury farmers unhappy with freshwater plan -Eleisha Foon:

Some Canterbury farmers are dismissing the government’s plan to clean up the country’s waterways as a pipe-dream.

Regional councils across the country have been organising meetings to debate the best ways to reduce nitrates from dairy farming.

According to the Institute of Economic Research, Canterbury is the second highest dairy-producing region, behind Waikato, but many farmers there feel unfairly targeted by what the government has proposed.

“Farming is the art of losing money, while trying to feed and clothe the world while the world thinks you’re trying to poison them, the atmosphere and the environment,” Canterbury farmer Jeremy Talbot said. . . 

Fewer sheep and more trees outcome of freshwater proposals:

Research published by Local Government New Zealand shows the enormous impact on land use the Government’s freshwater proposals will really have, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“If implemented, these proposals are going to see farmers in the Waikato go out of business and their land be converted into a sea of trees.

“According to the modelling, sheep and beef farming is expected to fall by 68 per cent, while dairy would be reduced by 13 per cent. Meanwhile plantation forestry would boom by an astonishing 160 per cent.

“Plantation forestry would then account for over 50 per cent of farmland in Waikato, as these onerous regulations make sheep and beef farming completely untenable. . . 

Water reform challenges a key focus of this week’s Water NEw Zealand conference:

Water reforms and the long term sustainability of water will be a key focus at the Water New Zealand conference and expo this week (18-20 September) in Hamilton.

The conference is being opened by the Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker and Local Government and Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta is speaking later in the day.

“We’re very pleased to be able to welcome key government Ministers to this year’s conference, especially given the ground-breaking reforms that the government is embarking on and the impact they will have across the entire country,” says Water New Zealand CEO John Pfahlert.

“This year one of two pre conference workshops will help update those working in the sector with the likely impact of the new regulatory process, while another will look at issues around wastewater – a key aspect of the Government’s recently announced Freshwater Programme.” . . .

A2 Milk and Synlait Milk shares jumped in early trading as a A$1.5 billion takeover bid for Bellamy’s Australia revived optimism that Chinese demand for dairy products remains strong. 

ASX-listed Bellamy’s today said it’s received a A$13.25 per share offer from China Mengniu Dairy Co and that its board will support the bid. That’s a premium to the A$8.32 price the shares closed at on Friday. China Mengniu is familiar with the Australasian market through Yashili New Zealand and Burra Foods Australia. It was also one of the unsuccessful suitors of Murray Goulburn. Bellamy’s soared 51 percent to A$12.55, less than the A$12.65 cash component of the offer which also allows for a 60 cent special dividend. . .

How to make more dirt down on the farm and make money from it – Pip Courtney and Anna Levy:

There’s an old saying about soil: they’re not making any more of it.

But some farmers are.

In just five years, Niels Olsen used his own invention to build more soil on his property in Gippsland, Victoria.

It delivered him the title of 2019 Carbon Farmer of the Year and it’s vastly improved the health of his land — but it requires an unconventional approach.   .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2019

Farmers feeling victimised by current government:

Farmers feel they are being dragged through the mud as continued environmental regulations are imposed on the sector.

An open letter has been sent to the Prime Minister this week asking for more consideration for the rural industry.

The letter says the Government’s approach to environmental policy is undermining the mental health and well-being of the pastoral sector . .

Govt freshwater proposals a blunt instrument for complex water problems:

The meat industry says the Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said they generally welcomed the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways.

“Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.” . . 

Foreign buyers circle dairy debt – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign hedge funds have approached the country’s largest rural lender about buying dairy loans the bank wants off its books.

It is understood a large international investment bank has flown in to sound out industry consultants on the potential for buying assets from the big banks, including loans to dairy farmers.

The international interest comes as the Australian-owned banks review their New Zealand operations in light of proposals from the Reserve Bank to significantly increase the amount of capital they must hold against their loans.

Feds plead for rates fairness – Hugh Stringleman:

Rating for revenue gathering by councils based on the salable value of farms is not a true assessment of ability to pay, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.

“It is a bit like assessing someone’s wealth on the basis of the car they drive,” she said in a forward to Federated Farmers Platform on the 2019 local government elections.

The federation makes no apology for focusing heavily on the cost of local government and how that cost is recovered. . . 

There are 600 jobseekers in Wairoa. Its major employer Affco meatworks wants to hire immigrants :

A leading Wairoa youth advocate hopes the town’s major employer will never have to use imported labour despite lodging an application with Immigration New Zealand for approval to hire overseas workers.

The application has been lodged by Affco Talley, current operators of a plant that has a history in the town dating back 103 years and employs hundreds of workers each year.

It’s opposed by the New Zealand Meatworkers Union, but Wairoa Young Achievers Trust youth service manager Denise Eaglesome-Karekare, who is also the town’s deputy mayor, has a goal to make sure any shortfall in the available labour force is still able to be filled by those in the town. . .

Vegan activists are tormenting farmers into quitting – Tim Blair:

Farms run as much on trust as they run on sweat, long hours and hard work.

By nature accessible and open, farms are not easily secured against destructive forces. That’s where the trust comes in. Farmers trust us not to damage their properties and livelihoods, and in exchange they feed and clothe us.

It’s a win-win social pact. Or at least it was, until the recent rise of militant veganism.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke last month described the torment caused by vegan and animal liberationist farm invasions. . .


Rural round-up

August 1, 2019

Rural folk – defend yourselves – Robin Greer:

As a proud Southland dairy farmer the wellbeing of our rural families concerns me greatly.

They are constantly bombarded with the hypocrisy of extreme groups and some ministers in our Government.

Many use mistruths to persuade people agriculture needs to be removed from the New Zealand landscape.

We have ministers in the Government who hate dairy farmers and their legacy is to deal with us.

Many of the statements made by some of these people would be called hate speech had it been directed at a different group of the community but farmers are fair game. . . .

First women to graduate from world-leading irrigation design programme :

The latest group of graduates in New Zealand’s Level 5 Certificate in Irrigation Design include the first two women to have done this course.

New Zealand is the only country in the world to have a national qualification in irrigation design.

“IrrigationNZ is proud to have been part of successfully graduating these students from this important course – which will become critical as farmers and businesses increasingly need state-of-the-art irrigation systems to demonstrate efficient and sustainable use of our shared water resources,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal.

“The qualification recognises the specialist skills needed to design technically efficient and environmentally sustainable irrigation systems. . .

New Zealand must learn to talk about ‘evolving technologies’ – Sir Peter Gluckman – Eric Frykberg:

New Zealanders should get to grips with gene technology and not bury their heads in sands of short-term thinking, according to one of this country’s leading scientific thinkers.

Sir Peter Gluckman is a former chief science adviser to the prime minister, who has held many academic posts and currently heads a multidisciplinary think tank at Auckland University.

In a speech to the annual conference of Horticulture New Zealand, Sir Peter said New Zealanders must seriously debate evolving technology such as gene editing, and not leave it mired in rhetoric, and conflated with politics.

Sir Peter told his audience there had been centuries of change in organisms’ genetic make-up, which was speeded up with gene transplants in the 1970s. . . 

Third time lucky for winners – Luke Chivers:

Romney genetics and consistency guide Brian and Anna Coogan’s farming philosophy. They told Luke Chivers about winning the annual, national ewe hogget competition.

Convinced by his wife Anna to enter the national ewe hogget competition Brian Coogan has walked away with the top honours.

The Taihape farmer took out the Romney and flock performance sections, finishing just 0.33 of a point ahead of runners-up Allan and Leeann Woodrow of Waikana before going on to win the overall breeds supreme award in the 23rd annual event in Christchurch. . .

Value of red meat exports up by eight percent :

The value of red meat exports of sheep, beef and co-products increased by eight percent to $8.8 billion for the year to June 2019, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association.

More than 399,470 tonnes of sheepmeat was dispatched, similar to 2018 volumes but the value of these exports increased by six percent.

For beef, export volumes were up by nine percent to more than 453,202 tonnes with a 13 percent increase in value. Co-products exports increased by five percent. . .

Global meat-eating is on the rise, bringing surprising benefits

Things were different 28 years ago, when Zhou Xueyu and her husband moved from the coastal province of Shandong to Beijing and began selling fresh pork. The Xinfadi agricultural market where they opened their stall was then a small outpost of the capital. Only at the busiest times of year, around holidays, might the couple sell more than 100kg of meat in a day. With China’s economic boom just beginning, pork was still a luxury for most people.

Ms Zhou now sells about two tonnes of meat a day. In between expert whacks of her heavy cleaver, she explains how her business has grown. She used to rely on a few suppliers in nearby provinces. . . 

Livestock grazing is vital ‘interference’ to boost biodiversity, new Plantlife study finds – Ben Barnett:

Livestock grazing has a crucial role to play in addressing a dramatic decline in biodiversity-rich wildflower meadows, according to a prominent botanist who warns that totally abandoning land to nature will do more environmental harm than good.

By allowing nature to ‘rewild’ landscapes unchecked, three-quarters of the UK’s most threatened species would decline or disappear altogether within just three years, Dr Trevor Dines said.

Environmentalists have called for the so-called rewilding of parts of the countryside to address historic environmental damage and to help absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but habitats such as wildflower meadows need sufficient levels of grazing and management to prevent them from being lost, Dr Dines said. . .


Rural round-up

June 15, 2019

Susan Murray wins the Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year award:

Radio New Zealand’s Country Life producer and presenter Susan Murray has been named the 2019 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the year.

The award, presented last night at Mystery Creek Fieldays, recognises people making a significant contribution to communicating agricultural issues, events and information.

Susan has worked on the popular farming-based radio programme for more than two decades, bringing a wealth of agricultural knowledge to the show and building a greater public understanding of the practical and technical aspects of farming life in New Zealand. . . 

Agri-innovations on show at Fieldays – Maja Burry:

Some of the best new agri-innovations have been recognised at National Agricultural Fieldays near Hamilton.

Winners at the Fieldays Innovation Awards included a ‘fit bit’ for rivers, which monitors water quality, an online service to help orchardists find seasonal workers, and a device that keeps a trough free of algae.

The company, Future Post, was also recognised for its work turning 100 percent recycled plastic waste into durable fence posts.

Judges said the product provided a way for farmers to participate in addressing what is a massive environmental problem for New Zealand. . . 

AgResearch wins supreme Fieldays award:

AgResearch and three other Crown Research Institute collaborators have won the overall Supreme Site Award for Best Stand at National Fieldays.

Scion, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and Environmental Science and Research joined forces with AgResearch to showcase innovative science and the research they do to improve New Zealand farming and the food sector.

The award was announced today. It also received a second award – Best Agribusiness Indoor Site award at Fieldays. . . 

ClearTech wins Fieldays innovation award:

Ravensdown’s ClearTech dairy effluent treatment system which was developed in conjunction with Lincoln University has won a Highly Commended Award at the Fieldays innovation awards.

The system uses a coagulant to bind effluent colloidal particles together in order to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risk linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE).

“ClearTech is ideal for those dairy farmers who want to save on effluent pond storage and take back control of their capacity and compliance,” said Product Manager Carl Ahlfeld. . . 

Tractor driving bachelor named Fieldays Rural Catch 2019

An Otorohanga tractor driver has taken out the 2019 Fieldays Rural Catch top honours, while a Hamilton dairy technician was named as the People’s Choice.

Eight rural singles showed off their farm skills at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek, hoping to catch the eye of employers – and a potential love interest.

This year’s competition had them brushing up their confidence with some media interviews and sponsor engagements and showing off their skills in the areas of fencing, innovations, chainsaws, health and wellbeing, finance and ATV skills.

Lewis Nichols, who is a heavy machinery operator for agricultural contracting company Bradfields based in Otorohanga was announced as the winner on Friday. . . 

China’s appetite for NZ red meat is surging – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – China has been New Zealand’s largest market for red meat for some time and growth in that market is surging.

Meat Industry Association analysis of Stats NZ figures shows China accounted for 36 percent of total red meat exports in April and sales there that month jumped 62 percent by value from the previous April.

That’s down a little from the 70 percent year-on-year growth in the month of March, although growth in the year ended March was a slightly more sedate 47 percent. . .

Dairy industry receives boost with $25 million sustainable innovation programme:

A new $25.68 million innovation programme for New Zealand’s dairy industry will drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of the national dairy herd and a step-change in sustainable milk production.

The seven-year programme, called Resilient Dairy: Innovative Breeding for a Sustainable Future, launched today and is being led by farmer-owned herd improvement co-operative Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), with investment and support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ. . .

A Nelson based company creates a world first non-toxic in fighting grape splitting:

Agricultural fertiliser and biostimulant company Waikaitu Ltd has developed a product that could significantly impact the wine growing industry.

Waikaitu Ltd has produced the world’s first seaweed-based product called FruitGuard to help grapes naturally regulate the water pressure inside the fruit and significantly reduce splitting.

Grape splitting can occur at the end of the season just before harvest, potentially ruining harvests with even a single late season rain event. A grape that has split may then allow fungal infection, like Botrytis, to get established in the grape bunches. If the fungus infection is bad enough the grower can lose their entire crop. Fungal pressure intensifies late in grape development – just before the harvest. . . 

Why govt’s GM policy defers logic, hurts farmers :

As farmers under the umbrella of the Shetkari Sangathana start their civil disobedience movement and plant the banned Herbicide Tolerant (HT) GM seeds as well as Bt brinjal, chances are the authorities will treat this as yet another law and order issue and will arrest them; it is, however, not a simple law and order issue. Of course, farmers cannot be allowed to break the law, but it is also true that their protest is against an irrational and farmer-unfriendly policy; more than anything else, it is yet another attempt to get the government to see sense and reverse its policies; indeed, given the prime minister’s avowed goal of doubling farmers’ incomes, the government’s policy on GM make even less sense.

The advantages of Bt cotton in raising crop yields and farmer profits are well known, and that is why almost all India’s cotton acreage is based on Bt cotton; and as a result of productivity surge, India is one of the world’s largest exporter of cotton. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 25, 2019

UK agreement ensures status quo for exporters  – Sally Rae:

The signing of a veterinary agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand will provide reassurance to farmers and exporters, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor says.

Uncertainty has prevailed in the red meat sector since the Brexit vote in 2016. The UK accounted for $560million worth of the sector’s exports, dominated by sheepmeat which represented 85% of that total.

In a joint statement with Beef + Lamb, Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the signing of the agreement, together with recent advice from the UK about the acceptance of EU health certificates post-March 29, meant the sector was assured existing regulations would remain the same. . .

Elers’ life wrapped up in wool – Alan Williams:

 Tina Elers is working seven days a week but is still finding time to improve her fitness ahead of the World Shearing Championship in France later this year. She also found time to talk to Alan Williams about her busy life.

Thirty years into her wool-classing career Tina Elers is as busy as ever and very motivated.

When some might think it is time to slow down she’s working a seven-day week around Southland, weather permitting, and doing extra fitness work. . .

Milk production record possible – Sally Rae:

 Milk production is on track to set a record this season as the risk of drought derailing it continues to recede.

Earlier in the season, an increasing chance of an El Nino weather pattern this summer was raised and the expectation was the associated dry conditions could crimp production later in the season.

Yesterday, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said relatively healthy soil moisture levels suggested production should “kick on” over the next few months. . .

Surplus research farm gets the chop– Annette Scott:

More than 70 years of agriculture history will go under the hammer when AgResearch sells its Mid Canterbury research farm next month.

Bought in 1946 to provide local research into the use of border-dyke irrigation with long-term fertiliser trials started in the 1950s, the Winchmore research farm has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

But AgResearch has called time on its 72 years. . .

Farmer living the dream on Ponui island :

Living on an island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has its perks for sheep and beef farmer George Watson.

The 26-year-old works on one of three farms on Ponui Island, which lies southeast of Waiheke Island.

The picturesque island has rolling grass-covered hills, pockets of bush and sheltered bays with white sandy beaches.

Agria rep to step down as Wrightson chair by June 26 – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says current chair Joo Hai Lee will step down before June 28 but that the board will continue its governance review in the meantime.

Lee represents Wrightson’s former majority shareholder, Singapore-registered Agria, and took over as chair in early November after Agria principal Alan Lai abruptly resigned the day before the scheduled annual shareholders’ meeting.

Wrightson says in a statement that the board “will provide an update in the near future regarding the outcomes of the review and the chair’s appointment.” . . 

 


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