Rural round-up

06/12/2022

Fresh developments on climate change measures in the dairy industry a wake-up call to farmers – Point of Order :

The NZ dairy industry faces climate change hurdles beyond the levies the Ardern government has indicated it will impose on farms. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell drew attention to them when he told an interviewer at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek the giant dairy co-op and its farmers risk not being able to access debt funding in the future if they don’t meet banks’ sustainability expectations.

Banks are wanting to set Scope 3 carbon emissions targets, which includes emissions they are indirectly responsible for, and not meeting their expectations could result in less favourable funding rates or ultimately not being able to access funding in the future.

“That’s something that we need to be aware of but it’s not a conversation we’re having with our banks at this moment,” Hurrell said.

Over the past four years, Solagri has worked with farmers and engineers to build and refine a solar solution optimised for dairy farm operations. Solagri Energy’s capital-free solution means farmers can have an innovative state-of-the-art grid-connected solar generation system without the significant upfront cost.

“The technology is advanced, but the model is pretty simple,” says managing director Peter Saunders. “Farmers provide us with a small parcel of land, about a quarter of a hectare, where we build the solar array. “In return, they receive solar electricity generated on their own farm at a fixed price for 20 years. There is zero capital cost to the farmer, any unused power will supply the local grid.” . . 

Increasing costs and price-shy customers lave stock transport companies struggling – Sally Murphy:

Stock transport companies are struggling under increasing costs with large customers not willing to pay more.

Stock moving companies are a vital part in the supply chain – moving stock between farms, to sale-yards, and to processing plants – but some are now struggling to make ends meet.

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett said increasing staff, compliance and maintenance costs were all starting to have an effect.

Stock transport companies had a fuel adjustment factor in place so the increasing cost of diesel could be passed on, but other increases could not be done so as easily, he said. . . 

New agri board game to feature as part of New Zealand’s NCEA school curriculum :

A new board game – developed to help build knowledge and understanding of food production – will be used as a study tool by secondary school students across New Zealand in 2023. The new ‘Grow’ board game was officially launched earlier today at the Fieldays Opportunity Grows Here Careers Hub.

Developed as part of a joint initiative between Rabobank, Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University and the Agribusiness in Schools Programme, the game was created to support learning by year 11 students studying National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Agribusiness.

It touches on all the major topics included within the agribusiness curriculum and provides students with a fun way to acquire and reinforce the course content. Copies of the board game are now being mass produced and several sets will be sent to the more than 100 schools participating in the Agribusiness in Schools programme in time for the start of the 2023 school year.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Todd Charteris said the idea for the new game came about following discussions between Rabobank’s Upper South Island Client Council – a group of the bank’s clients from the upper half of the South Island who meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing the agri sector – and Lincoln University. . . 

Get to know the 2022 Fieldays innovation Award winners :

While they were enjoying the elation that comes with winning a Fieldays Innovation Award, we went to the Innovation Hub to find out more about the winners and what makes them tick.

The University of Waikato won the Prototype Award this year for their Kiwifruit Human Assisted Harvesting (e-BIN), a product that was created during the 2021 lockdown in part, to solve the issue of staff shortages – one of the kiwifruit industrys biggest problems. Funded by Zespri, the electronic fruit bin can potentially revolutionise the picking industry by taking most of the heavy lifting out of picking produce, bringing people that potentially weren’t physically able to get into picking jobs into the industry. The group have consulted with representatives from the picking industry and have worked to refine the fine motor skills on the e-Bin to reduce fruit damage.

Nick Pickering, a lecturer at the University’s School of Engineering says that there is a real need for people in the Kiwifruit industry and physicality can be a barrier to filling in this labour shortage.

During testing next kiwifruit season, we will be working towards solving that labour shortage in the kiwifruit industry and increasing productivity while also making sure that the quality of the kiwifruit is not impacted in any way. . . 

Italian manufacturers buying more NZ skins and pelts :

An increasing number of luxury Italian leather products such as gloves, handbags and upholstery for Ferraris are starting their journey on New Zealand farms.

The Meat Industry Association said exports of cattle hides to Italy in October increased by 110 percent compared to the same month last year.

Italians were also eating more New Zealand lamb – buying nearly $4,500,000 of meat compared to virtually none at the same time last year.

The Meat Industry Association’s chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the exports to Italy were worth $26m – the highest monthly value for more than four years. . . 

Wide ranging report on Otago rural industries released :

A new report on farming and growing in Otago surveys over 150 years of practices for six primary industries, collating information on their production systems, size, distribution, key features and markets – needed to support development of the Land and Water Regional Plan.

“In essence, it’s a window into rural businesses and their production systems in 2022 – at a time when the region, and New Zealand, appears to be heading into territory that is new” – the report concludes.

The report, Farmers and Growers in Otago, was developed by an ORC Industry Advisory Group and is being publicly released today. It is the first of five studies that comprise the ORC’s economic work programme, which supports the new Land and Water Regional Plan.

“In completing this first report, the organisations involved have created a valuable resource for Otago and shown their commitment to the region,” the summary says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/12/2022

Expect NZ food and fibre to be a campaign battleground in 2023 – KPMG – Jamie Gray:

New Zealand can expect food and fibre to be a campaign battleground at next year’s general election, consultant KPMG says.

In its latest issue of Agri Agenda, timed for the start of New Zealand’s biggest agricultural event, Fieldays, KPMG’s global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said 2023 was shaping up to be a difficult year.

“As we move into Election 2023, we can expect battlegrounds to appear around areas of political tension,” he wrote in the foreword of Agri Agenda.

“It is reasonable to expect our food and fibre sector will become a campaign battleground given existing tensions in the sector (particularly in relation to climate policy) which brings with it the risk of entrenching divisions amongst farmers and growers across the country and between urban and rural communities,” Proudfoot said. . . 

Sainsbury lamb leg price explained – Reece Brick :

A picture doing the rounds on social media recently showing the cost of a lamb leg in one UK supermarket has definitely hit a nerve with many New Zealanders.

The picture shows what would be considered a low price and at half the usual UK retail value. This created plenty of chatter and concerns over the pricing differential between the two countries. But digging deeper for the facts shows that for starters that price was a Christmas special at only one supermarket for £6.50/kg – in NZ dollars that’s $12.50/kg. You can pick up lamb legs from Countdown this week for less than that.

Secondly, the odds of all the lamb legs being solely from NZ are slim, because the online listing specifically states that the leg of lamb could be NZ or British.

Thirdly, that promotion being run is easily the cheapest offering through the UK supermarkets. A quick skim through the four major supermarket’s websites has almost all other lamb legs going for £9.50-£13.50/kg, which works out to be NZ$18.30-$26/kg based on the exchange rate at the time of writing. That puts PaknSave and New World at the lower-end of this range this week at $19-$21/kg online. . .

Lipstick with New Zealand strong wool a world first :

New Zealand-based company Wool Source and leading lipstick brand Karen Murrell have teamed up to create an unexpected new avenue for strong wool – a lipstick coloured with wool keratin-based pigment.

This collaboration marks the first product to be created and commercially available using Wool Source’s drop-in ingredient and is believed to be a world-first in beauty.

Wool Source Chief Executive Tom Hooper says, “We’re excited that the first product using our ingredient is coming to market in New Zealand and will be something New Zealanders and growers can get behind.

“By collaborating with an experienced and respected brand like Karen Murrell, we’ve been able to test the performance of our pigment with a rigorous product development process and we’re delighted that it’s created a product that Karen and her team are excited by and keen to promote.” . . 

Red meat sector exports to Italy increase 244 per cent in October :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exports to Italy increased by 244 per cent in October, compared with 2021, with demand for sheepmeat and beef hides soaring, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall, red meat exports for the month were worth $737 million, a six per cent increase on October last year. China was again the largest market, at $290m, followed by the US ($134m), Japan ($32m) and then Italy ($26m). Exports to Canada were also up 82 per cent on last October by value, to $22m.

MIA Chief Executive Sirma Karapeeva said that October had been a steady month for exports, with Italy the stand-out change from 2021.

“Italy is an important market for beef hides, which are used for the manufacturing of luxury goods. The value of these exports increased from $5.6m last October to $19.5m this October and this was the highest monthly value for more than four years. . . 

Zespri releases climate change adaption plan :

Zespri has today released its first ever Climate Change Adaptation Plan – Adapting to Thrive in a Changing Climate – outlining how the kiwifruit industry intends to adapt to a changing climate in New Zealand and in its offshore growing locations.

Developed in consultation with growers and the wider kiwifruit industry, the Climate Change Adaptation Plan (the Plan) establishes a framework for the industry’s long-term approach to adaptation and is a response to Zespri’s Climate Change Risks and Opportunities Report which was published in 2021.

Zespri Chief Grower, Industry and Sustainability Officer Carol Ward says the Plan reflects Zespri’s ongoing commitment towards transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

“We know the climate is changing which brings challenges and opportunities for our industry and its important that we look at how we can ensure the kiwifruit industry remains climate-resilient. . . 

Ravensdown proud to partner with New Zealand Leadership Coalition to tackle agricultural emissions :

Ravensdown has today shown its commitment to the future of New Zealand farming by uniting with Government and leading New Zealand agribusinesses to address the challenge of climate change and sustainability.

The Joint Venture (JV) leadership coalition, launched by the Prime Minister at Fieldays today, sees Government partner with agribusiness leaders at scale to help New Zealand lower agricultural emissions.

The line-up of JV partners, ANZCO Foods, Fonterra, Rabobank, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms, and Synlait, represent the full spectrum of the food and fibre industry, giving Government insight and access to the entire farm-to-consumer-to-investor value chain.

Garry Diack, Ravensdown Chief Executive Officer, says the industry owes it to farmers to partner, invest and collaborate to help solve the most significant challenge of our time. . . 


Rural round-up

30/11/2022

New Zealand’s meat processors and exporters call for change to emissions pricing proposal :

New Zealand’s red meat processing and exporting sector is urging the Government to make changes to its agricultural emissions pricing proposal.

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) rejects the Government’s proposed interim processor-level levy, wants changes to the emissions price-setting process, proper recognition for genuine sequestration happening on New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms, and levy relief for those farmers disproportionately impacted by emissions pricing.

“The red meat sector has a role to play in addressing climate change and we support an approach to pricing that would reduce emissions but not at the expense of massive production losses and hurting rural communities,” says Nathan Guy, chairman of MIA.

“The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership’s recommended proposal was carefully calibrated to ensure that disproportionate impacts were minimised across sectors, particularly for the sheep and beef industry. . . 

Thinking gets even woollier – Sally Rae:

Amanda Dorset has gone fully woolly.

And that should come as music to the ears of strong wool growers, as the Wanaka businesswoman — co-founder of Wilson and Dorset with her husband, Ben Wilson — is a passionate advocate for the fibre.

For 16 years, the couple have made sheepskin furnishings, having spied an opportunity to do something “cool” with New Zealand sheepskins.

Having been looking to buy a sheepskin, she found it hard to find a suitable one. “Some fleeces may as well have been synthetic, they were so over-processed,” she recalled. . . 

What reception will PM Jacinda Ardern and Labour get at Fieldays – Jamie Mackay :

If tractor sales are the barometer of success for Fieldays exhibitors this week, then adoring throngs gathered are the equivalent for politicians.

I’ve been a regular attendee at Fieldays since the mid-90s, meaning I’ve seen Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark, John Key, Bill English and Jacinda Ardern come and go. And it would be fair to say that only two of those prime ministers, past and present, have enjoyed rock star status at Mystery Creek.

I fondly (sort of, if you excuse the fog diversion from Hamilton airport), remember picking up a fellow stranded traveller for the drive down to the ‘Tron from Auckland. It must have been about 2012 or 2013, because David Shearer was the then leader of the Labour Party.

Like me, and any number of other passengers who were diverted to Auckland, he needed to make his way to Fieldays. We had a rental car. He was (in true egalitarian Labour fashion) going to take a bus. We had a spare seat. I insisted he hitch a ride. He obliged and we thoroughly enjoyed his company, even stopping to broadcast our midday radio show on the side of the road somewhere near Huntly. . . 

A kick in the guts for rural nurses – rural general practice nurses once again overlooked by the Minister :

Today Minister Little announced action planned by the Government to provide pay parity for health workers. In his statement he made two conflicting statements:

“The Government is committed to ensuring health workers are paid fairly and receive parity with others doing the same or similar work, especially given the current cost of living pressures workers and their families are under”,

and then in the next breath,

“However, I have to be clear that this package will not mean significant change immediately for those working in GP practices.” . . 

The deer dairy diaries – Tony Benny :

When deer scientist Geoff Asher and colleague Jason Archer suggested collecting milk samples from milk hinds for a research project at AgResearch’s campus at Invermay near Dunedin, some were sceptical but they found a way to make it work. Now, decades later, deer milk (tia miraka) is not only harvested routinely, it’s a key component of high-value cosmetics.

“We got a lot of commentary thrown at us, ‘I hope you get a new set of teeth soon because you will get your current ones kicked out!’, and various things like that,” Asher says.

“It was kind of considered in the very, very hard basket but we were not been daunted by that. Sometimes you just need determination and a touch of stupidity.” 

Invermay recently celebrated 50 years of deer farming science by AgResearch and its predecessors, always in partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The research on lactation was typical of their studies, which included major advances in understanding deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics and the development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world. . . 

New Zealand dairy industry pioneer’s original farm place on the open market for the first time :

A prime cattle grazing block once owned by a former New Zealand dairy industry leader and one of the Hauraki Plains’ earliest farming founders has been placed on the market for sale.

One of the titles in this 81.6-hectare block at Kopuarahi was owned by former dairy industry leader Sir William Hale who not only represented New Zealand’s farming sector on the world stage for its meat and diary products, but also ensured the industry was in a healthy state domestically.

Born in Thames in 1883, William Hale left school at an early age, and took up farming work at Puriri, before he drew a property allocation at Kopuarahi in the first land ballot in 1910. William Hale lived on the same farm until his death in 1968, being the only person of the first ballot to be still living on his property at the time of his death.

William Hale’s long associations with Hauraki Plains local body affairs commenced in 1914 and he served for 18-years as a member of the Thames Hospital Board, 13 of these being chairman. In 1916 he became a director of the Thames Valley Co-operative Dairy Company. . . 


Rural round-up

28/11/2022

HWEN wants govt review of methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector has asked the government to review its methane targets and the method by which it sets those targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

In its submission in response to government proposals on pricing emissions, the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) partnership is asking for the Climate Change Commission to take another look at the 2050 emission reduction targets to reset methane levels using the GWP* calculation.

HWEN chair Sarah Paterson said this reflects feedback from farmers and growers during consultation on the government’s proposals.

HWEN chief executive Kelly Forster said it “really is a call to ensure the [commission’s] review takes into account the latest science”. . . 

Setting a standard: How our beef and lamb footprint measures up against the world avatar – Liam Rātana :

New research has found that the carbon footprint of Aotearoa-produced beef and lamb is among the lowest in the world. We took a deeper look at what the report says, and why it matters.

So what is this research?

Commissioned by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, and conducted by AgResearch, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study looked at on-farm emissions – which allowed for direct comparisons with other countries – but also went further, looking at the full “cradle to grave” footprint (ie including on-farm, processing and post-processing emissions). The report’s findings showed that despite the additional emissions involved with exporting product, our total footprint was still lower than the majority of countries – even those who had domestically produced meat.

While the report acknowledges that differences in methodologies make it difficult to accurately compare countries’ footprints across the entire process, particularly notable is the difference in the liveweight footprint of our stock. This metric, used to measure emissions before an animal is processed, shows that New Zealand’s average carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) per kilogram of sheep meat is less than half the international average, and about 30% lower than the international average for beef. . .

Immigration red tape frustrates short-staffed farmers  – Robin Martin :

A Northland farmer fears immigration red tape will see an experienced German dairy hand walk away from a job vacancy that she desperately needs to fill.

Katrina Pearson said applying for a work visa under the Accredited Employer Scheme had been a bureaucratic nightmare.

She runs a 250-hectare dairy farm west of Whangārei, milking nearly 500 cows.

Pearson needs two full-time staff, but she is struggling to recruit. . . 

Father and son named national ambassadors :

Ashburton father and son, Phillip and Paul Everest have been named as the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made earlier this week at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Pae in Christchurch.

The event was attended by all the regional supreme winners from the 2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The BFEA is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices hosted by the New Zealand Environment Farm Trust (NZEFT) where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information.

The Everest family run Flemington Farm in Ashburton where they’ve expanded the255ha property into a sustainable dairy and beef farm. They were named the 2022 Regional Supreme winners in the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment awards in July this year. . .

Fonterra confirms timeline for Capital Structure implementation :

Fonterra can today confirm that its new Flexible Shareholding capital structure is set to be implemented in late March 2023, subject to the Board being satisfied that the relevant preparations are completed before then.

The structure, which is laid out in a step-by-step tool for shareholders as well as this Guide to Flexible Shareholding, is intended to make it easier for new farmers to join the Co-operative and for existing farmers to remain, by allowing greater flexibility in the level of investment required.

Chairman Peter McBride says Flexible Shareholding will support Fonterra’s strategy by helping to maintain a sustainable milk supply, protecting farmer ownership and control, and supporting a stable balance sheet.

“Our Co-operative is already making good progress towards our 2030 strategic goals, and we believe moving to our Flexible Shareholding structure will help ensure that we stay on track,” says Mr McBride. . .

 

Innovative uses of forestry and wood products unveiled at Fieldays :

New and innovative uses of forestry and wood products will be on display at 35 stands in the Fieldays Forestry Hub near Hamilton between 30 November and 3 December, including a revolutionary treatment for radiata pine, a super carbon-storer – biochar – and cutting-edge research exploring using woody biomass for aviation fuel.

Planted trees are the raw material for more than 5,000 products we use every day. They also form the foundation of New Zealand’s next-generation bioeconomy, with the demand for new biomaterials only set to grow as fossil fuel-based products are replaced with renewable alternatives.

The revolutionary treatment for radiata pine allows it to be used in place of imported hardwood timber for decking, interior bench tops and as a fortified exterior cladding.

Called Sicaro, this timber treatment technology is being distributed by Motueka-based architectural company Genia. It uses a fortification process that replaces water within the cell structure with a water-borne solution that cures to a resin. . . 


Rural round-up

08/11/2022

Farm philosophy makes for a resilient  business –

In the heart of Hawke’s Bay, Simon and Lou White have built a diverse arable cropping operation with soil health at its core. Their farming philosophy has made their business resilient to the region’s challenging weather patterns.

The White’s and their three children farm a mix of arable cropping and sheep and beef finishing across the 1100-hectare property, including a lease property, which has been in their family for three generations.

Simon says their focus is on future-proofing their farm for another generational transition by making sure they have the most efficient irrigation systems that work environmentally, economically and socially.

“We use four pivots with variable rate irrigation technology. We have been using this system to isolate blocks based on our farm’s soil types and the seasonal crops we have in the ground, to get the best out of both our irrigation and our farm,” Simon said. . . 

Canterbury water ruling will affect wetlands, roads – Oliver Lewis :

Councils and developers may find it difficult, if not impossible, to build new roads and wetlands in parts of Canterbury as a result of a court decision involving controversial water bottlers. 

Environment Canterbury (ECan) says it’s obliged to implement its regional plan as directed by the court, but experts are warning the new consenting approach could seriously impede development and are calling on the regional council to find a sensible solution.  . . 

High global prices for drive export values for New Zealand red meat but challenges lie ahead  :

High global prices continue to drive export growth for New Zealand red meat with the value of exports to almost all major markets increasing during September, however there are signs of a slow-down in some key markets, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $777 million during September, a 21 per cent increase on last year. The top three markets were China ($286m), the United States ($149m) and the Netherlands ($29m).

High export values over the last 12 months also saw the value of total red meat and fifth quarter exports (co-products) reach $11.5 billion in the year ended September, up 20 per cent from the previous year.

Beef exports were worth $4.8 billion for the year (up 25 per cent), sheepmeat exports were worth $4.5 billion (up 15 per cent), and fifth quarter exports were worth $2.2 billion (up 20 per cent). . . 

New Zealand legal action against Canada essential and justified :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand ( DCANZ) is welcoming the New Zealand government taking further legal steps to address Canadian dairy import rules that breach the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The move follows consultations held earlier in the year, at New Zealand’s request, between the two countries to seek to resolve New Zealand claims that Canada is not implementing its commitments under the agreement.

“We are not surprised that the consultations haven’t resolved our concerns over the conditions for imports under the CPTPP quotas,” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther.

“Experience has shown that where its dairy import policies are concerned, Canada needs to be compelled to make changes that bring it in line with its international commitments.” . . 

Innovation drives creation of world’s first zero fossil fuel orchard :

Mike Casey, owner of the world’s first zero fossil fuel orchard located in Central Otago, will share his pioneering journey to fully electrify his six-hectare orchard at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch on 10th November.

Forest Lodge Orchard’s entire commercial operation from New Zealand’s first electric frost fighting fans to irrigation, tools and vehicles is powered by electricity and via power that is generated and stored on farm using solar and batteries.

Mike is currently trialling a converted electric tractor and expects delivery of New Zealand’s first electric tractor next year. He says it is important not to let perfection be the enemy when it comes to making changes on-farm.

“We need to start by looking at the choices we make for things we can control like the equipment we use on our farms. I have gone ahead and done everything I can do to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels, but farmers can also adopt a step-by-step approach if they want to start going down the same path.” . . 

Oat milk is killing the planet – John John Lewis-Stempel :

What did you pour over the breakfast cereal this morning? Oatly? Almond milk? Coconut milk? Surely not old-fashioned cow’s milk? As the splash of recent protests by Animal Rebellion (an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion) have warned: the bovine white stuff is the devil’s secretion. Targeting high-end grocers — such as Waitrose, Harrods and M&S Foods — in their “Milk Pour” campaign, these climate-change activists have tipped litres of dairy all over the hallowed floors of middle-class temples, while holding placards demanding a “plant-based future”.

But isn’t “Milk Pour” just a little hard to swallow? Doesn’t it actually stink of First Worldism? A cynic might even suggest that Skylar Sharples and her friends are the dupes of the billion-dollar alt-milk industry. Despite its we-save-the-world advertising, alt-milk is implicated in enough environmental destruction to turn you green, but only with sickness at the hypocrisy.

We all know the problems with dairy. It’s Daisy the cow’s methane burps, and the fact that livestock takes up so much of the globe’s surface. Except that the prime reason for the planetary extent of livestock is that vast tracts of the Earth consist of grass and scrub — food humans cannot eat, but which Daisy and her ilk can turn into nutritious meat and dairy, stuff that humans can chow. Far from being upscale food, as “Milk Pour” would have you believe, dairy — that is cow, sheep, goat, buffalo, donkey, horse milk — is the necessary subsistence food of millions of pastoralist peoples across the world, from Eastern Africa to Mongolia. I cannot wait for Skylar and her activist friends to spread the word to Maasai herders, to chuck away their milk while declaiming a “plant-based future”. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/10/2022

Labour plans an act of ‘mega stupidity’ – Muriel Newman :

It seems inconceivable that at a time of hyper-inflation and global unrest, any government would deliberately destabilise the agricultural sector by introducing policies that would increase costs to primary producers, reduce production, and fuel price increases. Yet that’s what Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Government is planning to do.

And how are they justifying these radical changes?

Our Prime Minister, the poster child of modern-day socialism, wants to once again boast on the world stage that she’s taking the lead in climate policy – this time by introducing a price on agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases.

No doubt next month’s climate change COP27 talkfest, where tens of thousands of climate activists from all over the world will fly to Egypt to talk about cutting emissions and saving the planet, will provide just such an opportunity. . . 

Rural women flag concerns about community wellbeing – Jessica Marshall :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says they have major concerns for the wellbeing of rural communities after the release of the Government’s emissions pricing plan.

The proposed plan, announced earlier this month, will see farm emissions priced at the farm-level, but deviates from the industry recommendations in key aspects. It is currently up for consultation.

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes the pricing plan as a ‘pragmatic’ approach, RWNZ national president Gill Naylor says her organisation is concerned by the adverse impacts it may have on primary producers, particularly if they aren’t supported while they adapt their practices.

“We are also concerned about the flow-on effects on small towns and regional centres that depend on our primary producers to remain viable and vibrant communities and… the health and wellbeing of our farmers and their families is a concern where they are worrying about the viability of their businesses, and where the place that they call home might be on the line,” Naylor told Rural News. . . 

Cherry growers hopeful for harvest but freight demand, cooler start to spring pose challenges – Tess Brunton :

Central Otago orchards say the upcoming harvest is looking promising but there are more challenges ahead.

The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme recently received a cap boost with up to 19,000 places available for the 2022-23 year.

Driving through Central Otago, the cherry blossoms are slowly giving way to fruit after a colder start to spring.

45 South employs upwards of 500 people during the cherry harvest. . . 

Shipping reduces agribusiness-emissions :

New Zealand’s newest addition to the coastal shipping fleet, the MV Rangitata, made her maiden voyage in October, carrying product for Ravensdown.

The trip by ship reduced CO emissions by an estimated 39 tonne when compared to moving the same volume of product by road.

She is the newest vessel for Coastal Bulk Shipping Ltd, one of four preferred suppliers in a $30-million Government investment for coastal shipping funding through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to improve domestic shipping services, reduce emissions, improve efficiency, and upgrade maritime infrastructure.

Coastal shipping is forming a key part of Ravensdown’s national emission reduction strategy, says Sustainability Manager Allanah Kidd. . . 

Red meat leaders of the future wanted :

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) is inviting applications for its prestigious scholarship programme from students interested in a career in the red meat processing and exporting sector following a major re-vamp of the initiative.

The popular scholarship programme, now in its sixth year, is focused on supporting highly skilled young people who have the potential to become future leaders in New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

A maximum of three new undergraduate or post-graduate scholars will be selected for the 2023 programme. The selection criteria has been enhanced to focus on a smaller group of high calibre students preparing to pursue a career in the sector.

The undergraduate scholarships will provide $5,000 for each year of study for up to three years. The post-graduate awards are for $10,000 a year for up to two years. The 2023 intake will join the existing 10 scholars in the programme. . . 

Rockit makes a move, heads to South Island :

Pioneering apple company, Rockit Global Limited, is planning for its biggest planting year yet, targeting a further 200ha of trees in the ground in 2023. And it’s taking its global success story south, identifying suitable land and growers in Canterbury and Nelson as well as seeking new partners in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, where fruit is currently grown.

Despite sharing many of the same challenges as many other New Zealand fruit varieties this year, Rockit’s forecast orchard gate return has progressively lifted across the year and the company is on track to deliver a record market price. This year more than 76 million New Zealand Rockit™ apples will be shipped, with up to 160 million apples expected in 2023.

Rockit’s General Manager Commercial, Tom Lane, says with international demand for the snack size apples booming and new markets opening up every year, the innovative apple brand is tasked with finding fresh ways to keep up with the hordes of hungry consumers buying Rockit across more than 30 countries including China, India, Vietnam, the USA and UAE. Currently, Rockit grows apples in the northern hemisphere (the USA, UK and Europe) as well as throughout New Zealand’s east coast to ensure year-round global supply. . . 


More tax, less food

12/10/2022

He Waka Eke Noa didn’t have universal farmer support.

The government’s butchering of it is uniting farmers against it and threatens the sector consensus:

Today’s farm emissions announcement threatens the sector consensus by failing to recognise New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“National is committed to emissions targets, including reaching carbon Net Zero by 2050, the Paris Climate Agreement and reductions in agricultural emissions.

“National recognises New Zealand farmers’ significant contribution to the economy. Agriculture earns half this country’s export revenue.

“We are concerned that today’s announcement puts consensus at risk. The Government’s own figures indicate:

    • Sheep and beef farming could reduce by 20 per cent and dairy by 5 per cent by 2030
    • Two-thirds of the reduction in emissions in New Zealand will be undone by higher emissions overseas as jobs and production shift offshore
    • The plan does not allow farmers to earn extra income from some forms of on-farm planting and carbon capture.

“Worryingly, the large falls in sheep production in New Zealand could lead to higher global emissions as more sheep production moves overseas to less-efficient farms.

“Broad industry support is crucial for any enduring solution to agricultural emissions.

“This plan could have significant implications for our rural towns and communities. The Government has put at risk the consensus built by He Waka Eke Noa Partnership over three years.

“National supports efforts to reduce emissions and we encourage the Government to work with the sector to find an enduring solution.”

In an email to members National leader Christopher Luxon points out the flaws in Labour’s proposal:

. . .I’m very concerned by the massive impacts these proposals could have on our rural towns and communities – which could see sheep and beef farming reduce by one fifth in just five years.

National backs our farmers. Our rural communities are the backbone of our country and agriculture is our biggest export earner. New Zealand’s prosperity is built on the hard work of farmers and growers up and down the country. It’s their work and their businesses that support other rural businesses and suppliers and create employment and jobs in provincial towns. We cannot let Labour and the Greens put that at risk.

I want you to know where National stands.

New Zealand needs to cut its carbon emissions. National supports New Zealand’s emissions targets, including reaching carbon net zero by 2050. And that means reducing agriculture emissions over time.

We backed the sector-led process as a way to introduce emission pricing for agriculture alongside other measures to reduce on-farm emissions and support the uptake of new technology.

We believe consensus with farmers is vital. But the Government has today put that at risk with a different proposal which could gut our rural communities while seeing emissions increase overseas as food production and jobs move off-shore.

Indeed, the Government’s own figures suggest its proposed scaling back of our sheep industry will actually lead to overall higher global emissions. That’s because Kiwi farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world so cutting back food production here just to see demand being met by less-efficient farmers overseas is simply counterproductive. National would ensure Kiwi farmers enjoy regulatory settings that make it easy to develop and adopt new technology to reduce emissions – not just send primary production, jobs and emissions offshore.

National would also allow farmers to earn credit for all forms of on-farm carbon capture. It’s just not right for Labour and the Greens to add extra costs to farmers without allowing on-farm planting and carbon capture to offset new emissions costs they may face.

The Government needs to get alongside rural communities and find an enduring solution that works for everyone – not dictate changes from Wellington.

National trusts farmers to be the best environmental stewards of their own land. I know farmers will use technology, ingenuity and local knowledge to figure out local solutions that work to reduce emissions sensibly.

Any relief that farming won’t be forced into the ETS will be overwhelmed by genuine criticism about what the government has taken out of the industry’s proposal:

The government has accepted most of the proposals put forward by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership to price agricultural emissions, but industry groups are concerned some of the recommendations have been excluded.

The farm-level, split gas approach has made the cut, but modifications have been proposed on how sequestration is calculated.

“We need to further analyse these changes carefully, but one area of immediate concern is the proposed changes to sequestration, which is of real importance to sheep and beef farmers,” Beef + Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison said.

“We know we have a role to play in addressing climate change and our farmers are among the first to feel the effects of it.

“However, if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms.”

Meat Industry Association chair Nathan Guy said although the government proposal is better than agriculture entering the emissions trading scheme (ETS), there is room for further improvement.

“Sheep and beef farmers and the meat processing and exporting sector collectively generate $12 billion in income per year for the country and account for more than 92,000 jobs, almost 5% of New Zealand’s full-time workforce. It’s critical we have the right policy settings so our sector can continue to deliver for our farmers, our processors and exporters, rural communities and the country.”. .

Needing further improvement is an understatement.

He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) programme director Kelly Forster said its partners are pleased the government has listened to the partnership on the need for a farm-level system rather than including agricultural emissions in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). 

“A farm-level system as recommended by He Waka Eke Noa will enable each farmer and grower to clearly see the direct impact of their on-farm decisions and would give them incentives for using new technologies and practices as they become available. Our modelling shows it will be more effective in achieving emissions reductions than including agriculture in the NZETS at the processor level. 

“He Waka Eke Noa’s recommendations were, however, designed as a carefully balanced package that was as equitable as possible across all parts of the primary sector.  

“The government has proposed alternative approaches in some areas, such as how sequestration is recognised, which may fundamentally alter the balance and could have significant implications for sheep, beef and deer farmers. . .

That’s a diplomatic way of saying it will be disastrous, and Federated Farmers points out the costs won’t just be felt on farm and by farmers:

The greenhouse gas reduction plan released by the government this morning will rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be.

The plan aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5% to achieve the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets.

This is the equivalent of the entire wine industry and half of seafood being wiped out.

The government’s rehashed plan to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions throws out the two and a half years of work the industry did to come up with a solution, supposedly all that time in a ‘partnership’ with government to achieve a workable solution which would not reduce food production.

“This is not what we’ve got this morning. What happened to the ‘historic partnership’?

“Federated Farmers is deeply unimpressed with the government’s take on the He Waka Eke Noa proposal and is concerned for our members’ futures,” Federated Farmers National president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut-wrenching to think we now have this proposal from government which rips the heart out of the work we did. Out of the families who farm this land.

“Our plan was to keep farmers farming. Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off.

“Some overseas buyer can plant trees and take the carbon cash.”

The scariest impact from the government’s rehash of the He Waka Eke Noa proposal was that it’s own modelling showed the impact on sheep and beef farming would be as high as 20%.

It also shows that world agricultural emissions would increase, not decrease, under this plan.

“The government’s plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumaranui – pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South – will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say ‘ETS application’.”

So all the small town cafes, car yards, schools, pubs, rugby clubs, hairdressers and supermarkets can say goodbye to the small town business supported by the agriculture around them.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is concerned that the plan will impose costs on farmers who have no cost-effective way to reduce emissions:

. . . The farm-level pricing system the government has announced is in line with the He Waka Eke Noa proposal. However, DINZ remains deeply concerned about the impact of prices on farmers who have no cost effective way to reduce their emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, says Deer Industry NZ chair Mandy Bell. . . 

There is as yet no guidance for the price of methane; there is a recommendation that nitrous oxide would be linked to the ETS NZU, but with a discount.

The government has also released economic modelling to demonstrate the impact on a range of farm types. As was previously communicated to government, the largest impact falls upon the most extensive farming systems. The government has acknowledged that the pricing system has different impacts and is seeking sectors’ views on levy relief and transition mechanisms for farming businesses who are most exposed.

Mandy Bell says “DINZ will be reinforcing to policy makers what they have already recognised – that the farm price needs to allow businesses to remain economically viable until practical tools to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from pastoral farming are available.

“We believe it is essential that government and sector invest in developing and bringing new technologies to NZ farmers to help them reduce their gross emissions as soon as possible. If our farmers have practical technology they can use, they will use it. Our farmers are rapid adopters and are innovative.” 

There is not yet practical technology for our innovative farmers to rapidly adopt.

We are already the most carbon efficient farmers in the world and are paying for research to find ways to become better.

But until that research gets practical and cost-effective results, the only way farmers can reduce emissions is to reduce stock numbers.

That won’t only make some farms uneconomic it will push up the price of food, reduce export income and have the perverse outcome of increasing global emissions as other far less efficient farmers increase their production to take advantage of the gap in the market left by less New Zealand produce.

It doesn’t help that there’s debate over the impact of methane:

There are suggestions we may have been incorrectly measuring methane emissions and the effect they have on overall warming.

Well known climate scientists Adrian Macey and Dave Frame have been looking at our climate change policy in relation to the rest of the world.

What they’ve found is that by using a more accurate metric to replicate what methane does to warming, we see that effects have been overstated by more than three or four times the actual damage.

When it came to introducing the new more accurate metric to climate change advisers within the Government they were either passive or dismissive of it.

Overall, they find the Climate Change Commission and the Ministry for the Environment simply got it wrong.

Methane is responsible for nearly half New Zealand’s emissions, but it’s impact on warming is much less.

The government is putting politics before science, trying to earn praise on the international stage at an enormous domestic cost in economic and social terms with no environmental gains.

It is in effect another tax that will lead to less food produced in contravention of the Paris Accord which states climate change mitigation should not come at the expense of food production.

It will have the perverse outcome of discouraging planting.

This is another example of the government putting the green cart in front of the science and technology horses at a very high economic and social domestically and doing no good for the global environment in the process.


Rural round-up

12/09/2022

Cow versus plant-based milk which offers the most nutrition? – Gerhard Uys:

Plant-based milk alternatives contain just a fraction of the nutrition of cows’ milk, and are more expensive, a Riddet Institute study shows.

The study, done at Massey University and funded by dairy interests including Fonterra, compared the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based drinks like soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks, to standard cow milk.

For the study, 103 plant-based products were bought from supermarkets in Palmerston North. The plant based drinks had lower quantities of 20 nutrients measured, such as calcium and protein. They were also more expensive than cows’ milk, the study showed.

The institutes’ nutritional sciences professor, Warren McNabb, said plant-based beverages were often marketed as alternatives to cows’ milk, and consumers could easily believe they were nutritionally interchangeable. . . 

Here’s why food prices might have further to rise – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Organic pasture-fed ruminant meat animals are the farm products most damaging to the environment in terms of nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas production. This is according to UK-based science journalist Goerge Monbiot.

No doubt vegans will feel vindicated and organics people will feel misunderstood, while regenerative aficionados will be confident, until they read what he actually wrote – because regenerative involves pasture and eschews synthetic nitrogen like organics.

The conclusion will be disappointing to many people, who saw a ‘natural solution’ but there are no easy answers with an ever-growing global population to feed, and feed to meet their nutritional requirements.

No Hunger is the second of the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations, the first is No Poverty. Nearly a third of the global population lacks access to regular food and one in 10 are hungry. In 2020, 47% of countries reported escalating food prices in comparison with 16% in 2019. . .

Red meat exports reach $1.1 b in July 2022 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector achieved sales of $1.1 billion during July, a 26 per cent increase on July 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

China remained the standout market with red meat exports worth $460 million, up 42 per cent on last July.

Other major markets were Japan at $58 million, up 36 per cent, the Netherlands at $38 million, up 132 per cent, and the UK at $38 million, up 97 per cent. Exports to the US dropped by 22 per cent to $191 million.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says strong red meat prices in global markets were continuing to help absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Environmental efforts recognised with award – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury grower who has put in more than 500 solar panels at his family’s vegetable growing operation has won high praise for his environmental work.

Oakley founder and head agronomist Robin Oakley has won the Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Environmental Award for his efforts, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen leaching.

The fifth-generation farmer grew up on his family farm and has been working the land since he was a young boy.

He started the Southbridge fresh vegetable business in the 1990s with his wife Shirleen. . . 

Forestry needs an urgent reset – Gary Taylor:

Forestry has an important place in our economy, but it’s time to improve the sector’s environmental performance. Gary Taylor explains how. 

The recent serious floods in Marlborough and Tasman and previous extreme weather events on the North Island’s east coast point to an urgent need to tighten up environmental controls on exotic forestry. The old method of allowing large scale clear-felling at harvest on erosion-prone land is no longer fit-for-purpose in a climate changing world.

Having large swathes of hill country denuded of stabilising vegetation for several years between forestry cycles is exacerbating run-off volumes and flood velocity, as well as vastly increasing sediment loads entering the coastal marine area. Sediment smothers and kills marine life.

The Government is about to release a discussion document on the review of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). This is the opportunity to fix this problem through setting improved regulations for the sector and moving towards a safer and more environmentally responsible regime for forestry. . . 

Harnessing the power of saffron color for food and future therapeutics – Xiongjie Zheng:

A highly efficient enzyme combined with a multigene engineering approach offers potential for sustainable production of water-soluble pigments in plant tissues.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Usually obtained from the stigma of Crocus sativa flowers, it takes 150,000–200,000 flowers to produce one kilogram of saffron. Now, KAUST researchers have found a way to use a common garden plant to produce saffron’s active ingredient, a compound with important therapeutic and food industry applications.

The color of saffron comes from crocins: water-soluble pigments derived from carotenoids by a process that is catalyzed by enzymes known as carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases (CCDs). Crocins also occur, albeit in much lower amounts, in the fruits of Gardenia jasminoides, an ornamental plant used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Crocins have high therapeutic potential, including their role in protecting neural cells from degradation, as well as their antidepressant, sedative and antioxidant properties. They also have an important role as natural food colorants. . . .


Rural round-up

05/08/2022

Foot-and-mouth – the stock disease that could inflict a huge economic cost on our economy if Biosecurity defences fail – Point of Order:

Ray Smith,  director-general  of  the  Ministry for Primary Industries,  sent  a  shiver  through  the  NZ  China  Summit in Auckland  when  he  warned  that  foot-and-mouth  disease  getting  into NZ   would  be  a  “scary”  and  a “gigantic thing”.

The  highly  contagious  disease has  been  sweeping  through Indonesia  and  since  it  was  first discovered  in  May  429,000 cases   have  been  identified    through  24   provinces  including Bali,  a  popular  holiday  destination  for many  New  Zealanders.

Indonesia  is  struggling  to  bring the  disease under  control, underlining  what  a problem  it  could  be  for NZ’s  main  export  industries.

The disease, which could cost the country billions of dollars and more than 100,000 jobs if it ran rampant among our livestock, is causing major concern in South Asia. After  the disease was discovered in Bali fragments of the virus that cause the disease have also been found in meat products entering Australia from Indonesia, creating fresh concerns about the possibility of it arriving in New Zealand.  . . . 

Red meat sector defies global supply chain issues :

New Zealand exported red meat worth $1.1 billion during June despite the ongoing global supply chain issues affecting sheepmeat and beef volumes, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The 15 per cent increase in value compared to June 2021 was largely driven by beef exports, particularly to China. Although the total volume of beef exports was down seven per cent, the overall value was up 23 per cent to $504 million. The value of beef exports to China was up 39 per cent to $217m.

The overall volume of sheepmeat exported was largely unchanged compared to last June, at 32,470 tonnes, with value up 15 per cent to $398m. Volumes of chilled sheepmeat exports, however, continued to drop, down 31 per cent to 2,253 tonnes.

Sheepmeat exports to China saw a drop in both volume (21 per cent) and value (31 per cent) compared to the same period last year, but this was offset for by increases in exports to other major sheepmeat markets. . . 

Wool supply concern prompts Bremworth to consider contracting farmers –  Sally Murphy:

Carpet company Bremworth is looking at the option of providing farmers with long-term contracts to secure supply.

Strong wool prices have been subdued for years now – which has led many farmers to leave their wool in their sheds in the hope they will be able to get better prices in the future.

Bremworth chief executive Greg Smith said it has been a challenging time for farmers so the company wanted to provide more security to them while ensuring a secure supply of wool.

“The foundation of our businesses is 100 percent strong wool and at the moment, the strong wool industry is under enormous pressure because of prices. It’s a commodity which is not being valued as much as it has been in the past. . . 

Farmers, there’s plenty to celebrate:

“Despite yesterday’s Federated Farmers Confidence Survey results, there are many positives for the agricultural and horticultural sectors right now,” says National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

Of the 1200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January, when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

“These results are mood driven by what is coming at them driven by other factors outside their control like the Government’s fiscal policy. But the biggest culprit is compliance, mounting regulation, economic, business, environment costs and debt. . . 

Wool stations put a new spin on teaching children :

A project that educates children about wool will see its 25,000th student pass through its wool sheds this month.

As part of the Wool in Schools programme, schools can request one of two 20-foot shipping containers that have been converted into wool sheds to visit, so primary students can learn about wool and how it is used.

The half-hour experience involves interactive stations where children learn about wool processes and the different uses and benefits of wool and can even have a go at weaving on a mini loom.

The programme is run by the Campaign for Wool NZ, which aims to raise awareness about the uses and benefits of wool. . . 

NZ Winegrowers announce Fellows for 2022 :

The New Zealand wine industry has recognised the service and dedication of industry icons Dominic Pecchenino, Jim and Rose Delegat, Clive Paton and Phyll Pattie, and Chris Howell, by inducting them as Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

“The Roll of Fellows honours the modern pioneers of the New Zealand wine industry. We wholeheartedly thank Dominic, Jim, Rose, Clive, Phyll and Chris for their years of service, and their role in shaping the New Zealand wine industry to be what it is today,” says Clive Jones, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

All the 2022 Fellows have worked over many decades for the “betterment of the wine industry,” says Clive. “The work of these individuals enables a small industry like ours to punch above our weight on the world stage, and we thank them for their efforts.” . . 


Rural round-up

07/07/2022

Drop in volume but growth in value for New Zealand red meat exports :

New Zealand’s red meat sector overcame a significant drop in export volumes to achieve sales of $1.1 billion during May – a 28 per cent increase on 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

While the volume of sheepmeat exported was six per cent down compared to last May, the value was up 23 per cent to $456 million.

Beef export volumes increased one per cent year-on-year but value grew by 34 per cent to $484m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said that high values were helping to absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Let’s get real – Clive Bobby:

Why is that our leaders appear incapable of understanding the contributing factors involved in running a successful family business.

At a time when speculative decisions can have tragic consequences for the shareholders, one would hope that those who have responsibility for our survival maintain a tight control over the things that have been proven over time to matter. 

Yet the opposite appears to be true. 

We see the cornerstone industries of our economy – our agriculture industry in all its forms and the emasculated tourism industry bearing the brunt of the cost associated with our misguided pursuit of ideological purity and nobody seems to care.  . . .

Vege growers turn off the heat as coal and gas prices soar – Sally Murphy:

The soaring cost of energy such as coal and gas has led some indoor vegetable growers to turn off their heaters.

Many indoor growing operations use gas or coal boilers to heat their glasshouses.

There has been a nationwide shortage of commercial carbon dioxide supplies and the cost of using coal is going up.

Leanne Roberts sits on the board of Vegetables New Zealand and is a covered crop grower in Marlborough. . .

Grab your gumboots and go dairy:

Kiwis are being encouraged to join the dairy sector, as one-third of dairy farms seek to fill vacancies ahead of a busy calving season which begins in July.

Through a new GoDairy campaign, DairyNZ is looking to help recruit young Kiwis into dairy farm roles. Most young people enter the dairy sector in a farm assistant role and the campaign connects job seekers to the latest farm assistant vacancies across New Zealand.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Nick Robinson says the dairy sector offers job security and good career progression opportunities.

“Many existing skills are transferable to dairy farming and we welcome new people to consider a dairy career. The dairy sector currently has around 4000 vacancies,” Robinson says. . .

Sharing knowledge enables better farming decisions :

Fernside dairy farmer Julie Bradshaw says sharing scientific data in a way that was easily understandable and useful for farmers helped create close bonds between landowners and NIWA scientists during a five-year joint co-innovation study.

Julie is participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovative approaches to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

“It was a reciprocal relationship between our farmers and NIWA. They had no experience of dairy farming, but it worked because we were willing to listen to each other and NIWA had a genuine desire to provide us with data that was practical and helpful.”

Fellow co-innovation study group member Stu Bailey, a fourth generation Flaxton dairy farmer, says working with NIWA helped him to make better farming decisions, especially on irrigation. . .

 

New Zealand’s apiculture industry names top honey producers and honours outstanding achievements:

New Zealand’s best honey producers have been named at the Apiculture New Zealand National Honey Competition as part of the industry’s annual conference in Christchurch.

The conference hosted more than 750 delegates from the apiculture industry at the Te Pae Convention Centre, Christchurch on 30 June and 1 July. The National Honey Competition, held the day before the conference, featured products across a range of honey categories from creamed honey to chunky honey and cut honeycomb.

The 2022 Supreme Award winner was Timaru-based Jarved Allan of The Mānuka Collective, who took away the award for the second year in a row.

“There was consistently high quality across the board,” said head judge Maureen Conquer. She said the judges were impressed with the quality of honey, that is improving every year, and it was very difficult to choose the winners. The honeydew honeys, in particular, were of much higher quality this year, said Maureen Conquer. All entries were blind tasted, and an international scale of points was used to determine the winners across 12 main categories. . . 


Rural round-up

01/07/2022

Scottish farmers set to scale back food production, survey shows  :

Production on Scottish farms is set to be scaled back as farmers respond to unprecedented price increases for key inputs, NFU Scotland has warned.

The union has released the results of its intentions survey, sent to farmers in early June to gauge the impact that the surge in input prices is having on agricultural output.

Farmers are currently seeing a combination of several factors, including the war in Ukraine, which has triggered fertiliser and energy prices to treble, as well as for fuel and animal feed.

NFU Scotland received a total of 340 responses. The impact of cost increases has been immediate, with 92% of farmers indicating that they had already altered production plans. . . 

Youngsters urged to give dairy farming a go – Jessica Marshall:

With a third of dairy farms seeking to fill vacancies ahead of calving season, Kiwis are being encouraged to give dairy farming a chance.

And giving dairy farming a chance is something 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year Dayna Rowe knows a little about.

“Initially, I didn’t quite know if I liked it or anything,” the 23-year-old says of her start in the industry.

Rowe started out as a farm assistant back in 2017, now she’s farm manager on her parents’ Bay of Plenty farm, managing a team of four. . . 

 

Meat and dairy gains are vital in any EU trade deal :

A trade agreement with the European Union must include commercially meaningful outcomes for New Zealand’s meat and dairy exporters, National’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“If real gains for meat and dairy aren’t on the table, the Prime Minister should instruct negotiators to continue talks until a commercially meaningful offer is presented.

“Trade Minister Damien O’Connor has already confirmed New Zealand has agreed to the European Union’s demands for geographic indicators. This means Kiwi businesses will no longer be able to produce many food products and call them by their name, including feta, gouda and parmesan cheeses. The EU has consulted on a list that also includes restricting the names Mozzarella and Latin Kiwifruit (Kiwi Latina) and other agricultural products.

“The EU’s agriculture sector has expressed delight that restrictions would remain in place for New Zealand exporters, with the current offer meaning almost none of our meat or dairy would be competitive in the EU market. . . 

Nathan Guy appointed the new chairman of MIA :

Former Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has been appointed the new Chairman of the Meat Industry Association following the retirement of current Chairman John Loughlin from the role.

Mr Loughlin finishes his six-year term after the annual Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch on 31 July-1 August 2022.

“It has been a privilege to serve as MIA chair for the last six years,” says Mr Loughlin.

“This was a time of challenge and opportunity and it has been great to be part of the red meat sector working cohesively and contributing to the wider primary sector. . . 

Subsurface irrigation benefits clear despite wet season :

A wetter than usual irrigation season has hindered data collection efforts for Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson. They had planned to collect data over the season from their subsurface irrigation system and compare this with traditional irrigation methods. However, the couple have still been able to prove the system’s water and power saving benefits on their two-hectare test block.

Gary and Penny are participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

A subsurface drip irrigation system consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . . 

 

Food National leading the NZ plant food offerings :

A government-funded plant award-winning company Food Nation is a fast growing award winning supplier helping climate change by producing New Zealand grown food such as buckwheat, beetroot, hemp, mushrooms, chickpeas and quinoa.

In all cases they use mushrooms and chickpeas as a base rather than imported soy or gluten. The food is great for the planet, whether the consumers are flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian.

Their food includes pea and makrut balls; legumes, herbs, spices, cauliflower, turmeric, broccoli, ginger, red pepper and corn magic mince or mushrooms and ancient grained sausages.

The company is owned by Miranda Burdon and Josie Lambert who are co-founders and sisters and run it with a small team in their premises in St Johns, Auckland. . . 


Rural round-up

23/06/2022

New Zealand red meat sector representatives travel to EU ahead of crunch trade talks :

New Zealand red meat sector leaders head to Brussels this week as negotiations between the European Union and New Zealand for a Free Trade Agreement enter a critical stage.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor will be supporting New Zealand trade negotiators during the talks, which are being held just days before an end of June deadline to conclude an Agreement in Principle.

“Negotiations are coming to a crunch and this trip to Brussels highlights just how important these discussions are to New Zealand’s red meat sector,” says Ms Karapeeva.

“New Zealand has been a longstanding and trusted trade partner of the EU and our companies have been providing consumers with safe, nutritious and high quality product for decades. . . 

Biosecurity has taken the overall  #1 spot in New Zealand :

It will surprise nobody that for the twleth year in a row, world-class biosecurity has taken the overall #1 spot in the annual KPMG agribusiness industry leader’s priority survey, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries suggest total exports of food and fibre products for the year to the end of June 2022 will reach a record $52.2 billion, up 9 percent on 2021.

“The growth comes from the dairy, horticulture, red meat, and forestry sectors, all delivering improved export returns.

“For others, the starting point was the disconnect between prices, profitability, and the green fields across most of New Zealand along with the uncertainty many farmers are feeling. . . 

Technology key to dairy’s future – Country Life:

Toilet trained cows may very well be peeing to order by 2032, agritech entrepreneur Craig Piggott says.

Well, in defined places on the farm, that is, and as a way of keeping dairy farming environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Technology around toilet training is one of the “threads” exercising the minds of Piggott’s team at Halter after the start-up’s phenomenal success using “cowgorithms” to farm dairy cows.

“If you can train a cow to move left and right … move them around a farm, then why can’t you train them to urinate in a shed?” he asks. . . 

Farmers shape a high value, high protein, low emissions future after meat and dairy – Jonathan Milne:

Government and industry investment could seed a new plant-based protein industry important to New Zealand’s survival on the global food market, according to a PwC report today

Jade Gray describes himself as a fourth-generation grocer. He’s worked on beef farms and in meat processing plants and butchers’ stores in Canterbury and China. He’s run a pizza restaurant. He knows about food – and he’s convinced there’s no real future in meat.

“I speak with a lot of farmers, I get heckled by mates and by strangers. It’s all good, it’s part of a good, fair and democratic society. But we’ve seen what happened to the wool sector in the past three decades, and we can’t allow that to happen to meat or dairy. We need to learn from that very harsh lesson.”

He argues we need to start turning over our paddocks to high-protein plants such as peas and fava beans. “We can create a whole new revenue stream for protein. The bonus is that brings more resilience. Or we can pitch ourselves against a major disruption that’s looking more and more likely in the next 10 to 20 years.” . . 

Lifeless market for meatless meat – Chloe Sorvino:

Ross Mackay and Eliott Kessas emigrated from Scotland with a dream. The longtime vegans founded Daring Foods, a meatless chicken-nugget startup, with the aim of reducing unhealthy meat consumption and creating more climate-friendly foods. At first, it caught on. Daring’s nuggets secured shelf space in Sprouts stores, Whole Foods and some Albertsons and Target locations.

Then came the big money. In October 2021, the Los Angeles-based brand, not yet two years old, raised $65 million at a valuation of more than $300 million. Investors included D1 Capital Partners, a hedge fund that’s backed companies such as Instacart, as well as DJ Steve Aoki and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka. All told, Daring has raised more than $120 million.

Less than a year later, however, the bottom is falling out. There are more than 100 plant-based chicken-nugget companies, many of them with products similar in taste and texture. To break out from the pack, Daring hired newlyweds Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker to take photos eating the faux nuggets while wearing lingerie. It was unclear whether the result — 1.2 million likes on Kardashian’s post; 5 million on a video Daring posted — was enough to goose sales. There’s simply too many brands struggling for space on supermarket shelves, and the rare chefs who adopt meatless products for their restaurants are reluctant to keep unpopular items on the menu. Consumers are ruthlessly weeding out the market while investors tread lightly now that money is more expensive than it’s been for a decade. . .

2022 harvest will help restore depleted New Zealand wine stocks :

New Zealand grape growers and wineries are breathing a sigh of relief following an improved vintage in 2022 that will help the industry rebuild stocks and sales, reports New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Going into vintage, wineries urgently needed a larger harvest as strong demand and smaller than expected crops in recent years had led to a significant shortage of New Zealand wine. That shortage has caused total New Zealand wine sales to fall 14% from the peak achieved in January 2021, even as wineries supported sales by drawing on stocks which are now at rock-bottom levels,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

In the domestic market, the same shortage has led to sales of New Zealand wine falling to their lowest level since 2004.

“There is no doubt we urgently needed an improved harvest this year after cool weather and frosts impacted Vintage 2021. The main challenge this year was COVID-19, which greatly complicated harvest logistics with Omicron rampant throughout New Zealand just as harvest began. This created additional pressure at a time many producers were already under pressure due to labour shortages,” says Mr Gregan. . . 

YILI scoops global innovation awards :

Global dairy giant Yili has scooped the innovation category at the 15th Global Dairy Congress in Laval, France.

Yili, which operates two dairy companies in New Zealand, and its subsidiary Ausnutria topped the tally for most awards at the World Dairy Innovation Awards held simultaneously with the Congress.

The awards were for packaging design, infant nutrition, intolerance-friendly dairy products, ice cream, cheese, and dairy snacks.

The judges noted that: “Yili have their finger on the pulse when it comes to identifying gaps in the market and creating brilliant innovative products that both taste and look great while simultaneously serving a purpose.” . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

13/04/2022

How to keep feeding the world and fight climate change – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The latest IPCC report released last week was yet another “last warning” for humanity.

Yet again, the headlines have been designed to create immediate action. And yet again, different groups are pointing the finger at other groups to do something.

Whether or not you agree with the scientists who see positive evidence of anthropogenic global warming (Nasa puts the figure as high as 97%), is irrelevant in a globalised world.

The Glasgow Climate Pact 2021 was signed by 197 countries, including New Zealand. Our trade deals rely on us doing our part, and the success of New Zealand’s export economy is determined by the trade deals. . . 

Call for action over forestry slash in Tairawhiti – Matthew Rosenberg:

A former Gisborne district councillor hopes the council will step in to tighten forestry regulations after photos emerged showing logs clogging a river in Tairāwhiti during recent flooding.

Meanwhile, Gisborne District Council has not confirmed if prosecutions will be made over forestry slash following the recent rain events, but says it is possible.

Ruatoria-based Manu Caddie voiced concern about tonnes of logs and debris clogging waterways, after photos taken by media company Uawa Live showed a jam near Anaura Bay.

It comes after Eastland Wood Council – a collective voice for the forestry sector here – said it was encouraged by the “relatively small” amount of pine found in waterways and on beaches following the flooding two weeks ago. . . 

International workers will help address staff shortage:

Sustained advocacy from the dairy sector has helped secure 500 more international workers to help on dairy farms, however the Government’s border class exceptions still fall short of the sector’s 4,000 worker shortage.

DairyNZ is relieved the Government is allowing an extra 500 international dairy workers into the country through a border class exception. This means 800 international staff will be able to enter New Zealand to work on dairy farms.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says DairyNZ has been working hard to make sure the Government understands the huge pressure farmers are under, due to workforce shortages.

The organisation has pushed for 1500 international dairy workers into the country in time for the 2022 dairy season on 1 June. . . 

New Zealand meat processors and exporters welcome immigration boost :

The announcement by the Government that an additional 500 meat processing workers from overseas will be allowed into New Zealand will help ease the sector’s chronic labour shortages, says the Meat Industry Association.

“We are approximately 2,000 people short and this situation is being exacerbated by a number of our people isolating or having to stay at home to look after family members due to COVID-19,” says Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA.

“Right now, there simply aren’t enough people to process every part of the carcass to maximise its value so these additional workers will certainly help alleviate pressure in the industry.

“Without sufficient labour, companies cannot run their processing plants at the desired capacity. This means less opportunities for hard-working Kiwis, often in the regions to earn a good wage and longer waiting times for farmers to get their livestock processed. That can have a flow-on impact for animal welfare, farmer wellbeing and the regional economy. . .

Farmers urged to take up increased international worker opportunity  :

The government’s announcement today it will open up our borders to an additional 1,580 experienced primary sector workers is a shot in the arm for those struggling to recruit enough staff locally, Federated Farmers says.

“They say good things take time, and Feds has been ratcheting up the pressure for this necessary step for many, many months,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis said.

“Let’s hope the system is agile enough to get these people into New Zealand and out into workplaces by the time we need them – particularly for the super busy spring dairy calving season.”

The new settings include an increase in the current border exception for assistant dairy farm managers, 2ICs, dairy herd managers and dairy farm assistants by 500 to a total of 800 for those earning at least the median wage plus $1 per hour (currently equates to $28 per hour). . . 

NZ’s largest solar farm to be built near Taupo – Marc Daalder:

A solar farm larger than the Auckland and Christchurch CBDs combined could start construction near Taupō as soon as this summer, Marc Daalder reports 

A 400 megawatt solar farm planned for the Taupō region could produce 190 times more electricity than New Zealand’s current largest grid-connected solar facility, Newsroom can reveal.

Nova Energy, owned by the Todd Corporation, has applied for two resource consents from Taupō District Council to construct the project in three stages over six or seven years. When completed, it will involve more than 750,000 individual solar panels and could power 100,000 homes – more than one in every 20 houses across New Zealand.

“To meet the 2050 net carbon zero target, New Zealand needs more renewable energy, which Nova can provide,” the company’s CEO Babu Bahirathan said. . . 


Rural round-up

29/03/2022

Farmers unhappy crucial land will be lost of flooding over the government’s proposed hydro storage scheme at Lake Onslow – Kaysha Brownlie:

The Government is pouring millions into trying to fix New Zealand’s dry year electricity problem. 

But it’s also pouring water on people’s farms in the process.

A $4 billion pumped hydro storage scheme is being investigated against other options to create a battery to store power for when we run low.

One option would involve flooding Lake Onslow, a man-made lake 20 kilometres east of Roxburgh and roughly halfway between Dunedin and Queenstown.  . . 

New Zealand red meat exports top 1 billion in February but pressure mounting on sector :

Current strong export returns for New Zealand red meat face pressure in the coming months due to labour shortages and supply chain disruption, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The industry exported products worth $1.1 billion during February 2022, with increases in value to all major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said current strong meat prices were compensating for a drop in the volume of exports, with sheepmeat volumes down 11 per cent and beef down seven per cent compared to February 2021.

“Absenteeism in processing plants due to staff having to isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the pressure on our industry, which is already dealing with a significant labour shortage and ongoing global logistics challenges. . . 

Meat processors searching for skilled staff during challenging times – Yashas Srinivasa :

South Canterbury’s major meat processors are struggling in their hunt for staff.

Alliance Group’s Smithfield plant in Timaru is 30 workers short during what is an “extremely busy” processing period and require more halal butchers while at Silver Fern Farms, at Pareora, the shortage is around 150 for a season described as one of their most challenging.

Alliance Group general manager manufacturing Willie Wiese said like the rest of the meat processing and exporting industry, they are continuing to deal with labour shortage issues at their plants including Smithfield.

“The sector’s chronic labour shortage has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and border restrictions, which has prevented us from employing a small number of workers from overseas to help make up the shortfall in numbers we can recruit locally,” Wiese said. . .

How a Central Otago farm became Montana for Power of the Dog and the region’s film hopes :

Central Otago will be watching the 94th Academy Awards with anticipation as The Power of the Dog is up for a pack-leading 12 nominations.

The movie, a critical darling, was filmed primarily in Otago.

Dame Jane Campion has become the first woman to be twice nominated for best director, while its stars are also up for most of the major categories and the movie is tipped as favourite for best picture.

But closer to home it is the uncredited co-star – the sparse landscape of Maniototo – filling locals with pride. . . 

Wool Impact NZ plans for positive impact – Country Life:

Carpet marketer Wools of New Zealand says demand for woolen carpet is lifting and the new body forming to help the struggling strong wool industry will give it a further boost.

Wool Impact NZ will launch mid-year with the aim of working with brands to get strong-wool products into markets quickly and speed up returns to farmers.

Wools of NZ chair John McWhirter says in the past 6 to 12 months the demand for wool carpet has lifted from 15 percent of the soft flooring market to 20 percent.

“And what’s exciting about that is when you think about it, that’s actually a 25% increase in demand for wool carpet. Yes, it’s off a  small base. But it’s a clear signal that consumers are actually moving back to wool, to natural fibres and away from man-made fibres.” .  . 

 

 

Kabocha Milk Co wins 2 global wards for best health wellness drink and best plant based beverage with Kabochamilk :

 Fresh Kabocha (also known as pumpkin or squash – and not to be confused with ‘Kombucha’) has been eaten by the people of Japan, Korea & China since 1541. It is revered for its high Vitamin A & C content, and rich fibre and mineral content.

• Kabochamilk was created in collaboration between between veteran Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Japanese NZ celebrity chef Sachie Nomura with the goal of creating a visually beautiful, nutritious plant milk that isn’t affected by seasonality and can be consumed any time of the day.

• Kabochamilk upcycles NZ Kabocha and provides a high-value export opportunity – positively impacting nature and communities.

Kabocha Milk Co.– proudly made in the Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand has scooped another two international food innovation awards – this time at the 2022 World Food Innovations in London as the “Best Health and Wellness Drink” and “Best Plant Based Beverage” . . 


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

04/03/2022

Farmers short changed by Labour yet again :

Labour needs to explain why it is severely restricting the number of dairy farm workers allowed into the country for no apparent reason, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger say.

“Last year the dairy sector requested border exceptions for 1500 international dairy workers that were urgently needed for this year’s calving season,” Ms Stanford says.

“But the Government only granted 300, meaning this crucial sector will be short staffed and overworked for yet another season.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but farmers have had enough of the constant roadblocks from this Labour Government – this time in the refusal to grant border exceptions for urgently-needed workers.” . .

NZ-UK FTA ‘significant boost’ for farmers – Sally Rae:

The signing of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom represents a “significant boost” for New Zealand farmers and exporters, the Meat Industry Association says.

Lamb and beef would eventually be allowed quota- and tariff-free access for the first time in decades, it said.

Under the FTA, New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat exports to the UK would be fully liberalised over time, with no duties from the 16th year after the deal came into force following ratification by both countries.

During this time, beef and sheepmeat would be subject to duty-free transitional quotas, the quota for New Zealand beef rising in annual instalments from a starting point of 12,000 tonnes until it reaches 60,000 metric tonnes in year 15, after which it would be duty- and tariff-free. . . 

Businesses concerned over Gisborne’s kiwifruit ‘rates grab’ – Nikki Mandow:

The district councils attempt to treat kiwifruit licences as rateable land improvements will have wide-reaching affects on other businesses.

Kiwifruit grower Tim Tietjen didn’t know the Gisborne District Council would be doubling the rates bill for his property until he read about it in the local paper.

In a radical shift from previous rating policy, the council had decided licences for the SunGold or G3 variety of gold kiwifruit – licences Tietjen and his fellow growers buy from kiwifruit marketer Zespri – would now be counted as land improvements and billed accordingly.

Instead of his property having a rated value of $2.8 million, it was now calculated at $4.1 million. . . 

Build a resilient farm business with bloody good tips from DWN and DairyNZ :

Dairy Women’s Network are helping current and future farm owners and teams to future-proof their businesses with a webinar series on How to Build a Bloody Good Business, funded by DairyNZ.

Run between the 7th and the 10th of March, the online webinar series will look at the qualities of a resilient business and strategies that can be implemented to protect your current or future business from the unknown; how to increase the resilience of your team when considering the current talent shortage; and the role that different systems and technology can play in building a healthy and successful business.

Speakers from ASB, Xero, Figured and McIntyre Dick and Partners (part of NZ CA Group Limited) will discuss and answer questions on how great financial business systems will help your business thrive, led by people and strategy specialist Lee Astridge from No8HR. . .

NZ wine industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Winegrowers is pleased with today’s announcement that New Zealand has signed a historic free trade deal with the United Kingdom.

“The agreement is very positive for the New Zealand wine industry. This will help remove technical barriers to trade, and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements. It will also support future growth in the market, and encourage exporters to focus on the UK,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Carbon neutral sheep and beef farm on the market for sale for the first time in 100 years:

A substantial highly developed sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm which has been continuously owned by members of the founder’s family for the past 100-years has been placed on the market for sale.

The 1,038-hectare property known as Te Maire at Flemington just south of Waipukurau in Southern Hawke’s Bay was established in 1920 by S.A. Robinson Senior who purchased 203-hectares following the splitting up of Tourere Station.

Over the ensuing decades, Robinson’s sons, and their sons, added to the property – buying neighbouring blocks with their associated infrastructure, and expanding Te Maire to its current size which is subdivided into some 222 paddocks.

Generations of the Robinson family have taken an environmental approach to Te Maire’s expansion – always conscious of balancing ecological aspects with improving productivity. . . 


Rural round-up

16/02/2022

The folly of carbon farming with pine trees – Dame Anne Salmond:

It’s time for Labour and the Greens to rescue their climate consciences and stop plans to plant vast, environmentally risky pine forests as a way of offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions

Opinion: In New Zealand, we have a Labour-Green government at present. There are many smart, switched on people, both in the Government and in Parliament. For tackling Covid-19, we now have a cross-party consensus that largely follows scientific advice on how best to deal with the pandemic.

Why then, is it so different when it comes to dealing with climate change? It is difficult to imagine a less sustainable set of strategies than those that New Zealand took to COP-26 in Glasgow last November. These were short sighted and cynical, winning New Zealand a second ‘Climate Fossil’ award, for good reason.

Unfortunately, New Zealand’s ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ to COP-26 at home relies on covering our landscapes with short-lived, shallow rooting, highly flammable monocultures of pine trees. This kind of ‘off-setting’ is high risk, socially, ecologically and economically. . . 

Unseasonable rain behind arable ‘harvest from hell’ – Feds :

Three weeks of on and off rain, with the weekend’s storm a sting in the tail, have caused widespread damage to arable crops up and down the country.

“Talking to farmers who have been around for a while, some of them are calling it the worst harvest season in living memory,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

“Normally we’d be most of the way through harvest by now but three weeks of continual rain held everything up, and now many parts of the country were hammered by the remnants of the cyclone.”

Only Southland seems relatively unaffected. . .

Avocado, kiwifruit growers counting costs of Cyclone Dovi’s winds :

The strong winds that lashed the country at the weekend have caused significant damage to some kiwifruit and avocado orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

Cyclone Dovi caused flooding, downed trees and cut power to homes.

Bay of Plenty orchardist Hugh Moore said some avocado trees were completely uprooted by the wind, while others had lost branches full of fruit.

He said both new season fruit and the last of this season’s crop have been impacted. . . 

Upfront: log exports explained – Marcus Musson, Forest360:

If a tree falls in the forest … should it be exported?

Exporting primary products from New Zealand has long been celebrated and underpins our economy and way of life. We all hail increased dairy and meat exports, are more than happy our best fruit and crayfish go offshore but throw our toys out of the cot about log exports.

Most elections will see some ill-informed politician standing in front of a wharf full of logs pontificating about keeping the logs for our local industry. Builders are quick to point the finger at log exporters for high lumber prices and supply issues assuming it’s caused by the log exports.

For perspective, think of trees as sheep and cows. They’re all cut into different products for different markets. Your favourite restaurant in Parnell isn’t likely to serve you up a medium rare sheep bladder and the pet food factory probably doesn’t have much demand for a lamb rack. Logs are no different except, unlike the fruit and fishing industries, we keep most of our good product here for our domestic sawmills and export bladder and brains grades of logs. . . 

New Zealand’s red meat processing and exporting sector announces new scholars for 2022 :

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) has awarded new scholarships to seven young New Zealanders considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector.

Every year, the Meat Industry Association awards a number of undergraduate ($5,000 per year) and post-graduate ($10,000 per year) scholarships. The organisation currently has a total of 21 scholars, with 14 existing scholars also continuing to receive support under the scheme.

This year’s new scholars are studying subjects ranging from food science to agribusiness, food marketing and supply chain management.

The returning scholars include both undergraduate and post graduate students, studying at a range of universities across New Zealand and internationally. . . 

Kacific and farmer Charlie team up to grow agricultural output and support sustainable development across Pacific:

Kacific Broadband Satellites and Farmer Charlie will bring affordable satellite-powered agricultural information and expertise to farmers in remote and isolated places across South East Asia and the Pacific.

The companies have signed an MoU supporting sustainable development and agriculture in small holdings across the region.

Kacific and Farmer Charlie will work together to deliver agricultural advice, localised weather information, and agribusiness information – including data from in-field sensors — to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses, helping them improve land management and food production using smart digital tools. It will also help them reduce post-harvest loss, better manage the risk of drought, floods, and other extreme weather events and address the impacts of climate change. . . 


Rural round-up

08/02/2022

NZ”s border opening ‘too little too late’ – horticulture industry chief

New Zealand’s five-stage plan to reopen the border has come “too little, too late” for the RSE Scheme and does not spell the end of challenges currently crippling the industry, officials warn.

They say more could and should have been done to avoid the crisis facing the 2021-2022 harvest season.

From 28 February, New Zealanders will be able to arrive back from Australia and expatriates from the rest of the world can return from 14 March.

Aotearoa was expected to open to foreigners from visa-waiver countries such as the United States no later than July. . . 

Rhys Roberts crowned New Zealand winner of top agri-award:

An entrepreneurial approach to primary production has resulted in Rhys Roberts of mid-Canterbury receiving the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award.

Rhys Roberts is Chief Executive of the Align Group, who operate 7 farms, a market garden, and are vertically integrated with a yoghurt brand and milk processing facility.

The Zanda McDonald Award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Rhys will receive an impressive trans-Tasman prize package centred around mentoring, education and training that is 100% tailored to his needs.

Roberts is passionate about food production and future workplaces. He’s currently running a regenerative agriculture project trial to monitor farm productivity, animal health, human health and environmental outcomes. His focus on building a ‘future workplace’ has resulted in creating a market garden that feeds his team through the fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and eggs from their farms. All of the team are on fully flexible rosters, and can manage their own schedules, choosing shifts that suit them. This frees them up for about 1000 hours combined per year, which they reinvest into the community.

Zanda McDonald Award Patron Shane McManaway says “Rhys is highly ambitious, and he’s prepared to break the mold of the past and do things differently. Some of the results he’s seeing, due to his innovative approach, are nothing short of exceptional. He has a strong environmental and wellbeing focus, as well as creating a significant difference to the company’s bottom line. As judges, we were extremely impressed and inspired by his leadership, and know he has a very strong future ahead of him.” . . 

Luring Kiwis back to farm essential amid border closures – Adam Burns:

The agricultural sector in North Canterbury has expressed relief at the Government’s border reopening plan, but those on the ground have highlighted a wider issue farmers are facing – a lack of home-grown skilled labour.

This has been compounded by farmers being unable to secure skilled workers off shore, due to a tightening of restrictions at the border over the past 24 months, causing significant strain for many in the primary sector.

Record low unemployment, which dropped to 3.2 per cent this week, further underlined how competitive the labour market was becoming.

But the agricultural industry is relieved some respite may be on the cards as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined a phased plan on Thursday to reopen the country. It starts with vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible workers from Australia from 27 February. . . 

NZ red meat sector achieves record exports during 2021 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $10 billion in 2021 despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The exports represented a nine per cent increase on 2020. The value of red meat and co-products exported in December 2021 was also up 22 per cent year on year, at just over $1 billion.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said the sector had worked tirelessly in the face of ongoing global logistical challenges to continue to achieve the best possible results for farmers, the 25,000 people working in the industry and for the New Zealand economy.

“Despite all the disruptions and labour shortages, we were able to make the most of the global demand for red meat and generate record export revenue. . . 

Western Australia wool industry fears shearer exodus following NZ border opening

Kiwi shearers in Western Australia (WA) are already planning to return to New Zealand after the country announced its border reopening plan.

If they do return, WA’s wool industry may be unable to keep up with demands for shearing, putting animal welfare and lambs’ lives at risk.

Aromia Ngarangioni, a shearer in the Great Southern region of WA, estimates 60 percent of shearers working in WA are New Zealanders.

Like many, it has been years since Ngarangioni has been able to go home. . . 

 

NZ Dairy Industry regional wards dinner go ahead in red :

With judging for the 11 regional programmes underway around the country, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Award’s attention is turning to the regional award dinners being held in March and April.

After consultation with regional teams and national sponsors, the much-anticipated evenings will continue, following government guidelines for events in Red level.

“We know these award dinners are an important part of the rural community’s calendar on many levels, which is why we will follow government guidelines to deliver an evening where success can be recognised and celebrated,” says NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon.

“This means the dinners will have a maximum attendance of 100 people, who will be required to show vaccine passes at the venue. . .


Rural round-up

18/12/2021

 Government ‘tone deaf’ to meat industry’s needs – Sally Rae:

The Meat Industry Association has lambasted what is understood to be the approval of 15 long-term critical worker visas for halal butchers – when 45 are “desperately” needed – saying it shows the Government is “tone deaf to the needs of business”.

Muslim markets and many customers demanded meat be processed in the halal way; 49 out of 55 processing plants in New Zealand operated halal systems and relied on 250 halal butchers.

In a statement yesterday, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the “miserly” approval knee-capped the ability of the second-largest goods export sector to fully contribute to New Zealand’s economy and capture higher value from its exports.

Halal certified products contributed about $3.7 billion of annual export earnings. The sector could typically recruit only 100 halal butchers domestically due to New Zealand’s small Muslim population and the nature of the job. . . 

Farmers will want to milk it – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers will be milking cows for as long as they can to capitalise on a record milk price this season.

Soaring farm input costs may erode profit margins, but a milk price near $9/kgMS provides farmers the chance to boost income and reduce debt.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says farmers around the globe are facing inflationary pressures and NZ is no exception.

“But I don’t think there will be any adverse reaction to milk production,” says Hurrell. . .

T&G Global to invest millions in automated packhouse, orchard redevelopment

Produce company T&G Global has announced it will pour in millions of dollars to expand its apples business to meet growing consumer demand. 

The company will invest $100 million into a new automated packhouse and has committed millions more to orchard redevelopment across Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

The announcement comes after T&G downgraded its full-year profit expectations in October, due to persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs.

T&G, which is one of New Zealand’s largest apple growers and marketers, said its premium Envy apple was on track to be a billion-dollar brand. . . 

Funding of hemp fibre innovation set to propel New Zealand on to world stage :

New Government funding will help a New Zealand hemp fibre company explore untapped opportunities – from soft flooring to food packaging that’s more environmentally sustainable.

The Government is contributing $1.34 million through MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to New Zealand Natural Fibres’ (NZNF) five-year research and development programme project. NZNF is the only hemp fibre company in New Zealand that controls its own supply chain end-to-end. The company is contributing a further $2 million in cash and in kind to the project.

“We plan to use the SFF Futures funding to develop our hemp growing, processing and marketing capability to ‘go further, faster’ towards taking a global leadership position in the development of industrial and consumer products made from hemp fibre,” says NZNF CEO Colin McKenzie.

“We are very pleased to have received government backing to continue our work with hemp fibre, which has huge potential to be part of the solution to some of the most crucial environmental challenges facing our planet today. . . 

Gearing up for harvest:

The export cherry season is now underway and in New Zealand, summerfruit has started appearing in the supermarkets.  In other words, the new season’s fruit harvest is gathering pace, as Christmas fast approaches and the great kiwi summer getaway also gets underway. 

Tomorrow, the Auckland borders will finally be open. Unfortunately across some areas of the country, there is apprehension and reservations about this change.  But let’s not pre-empt any negative thoughts.  Our Auckland comrades have done it very hard for a long period.  To help growers and packhouse operators prepare for in the event of a positive Covid test, we have worked with the Ministry of Primary Industries to pull together advice on what to do.  Click here to access that advice. 

The most important things to do are to isolate the worker and their bubble, alert your local District Health Board and follow their instructions regarding the public health implications, and contact your product group for further advice.  In terms of any media interest, it is recommended to direct any journalist to your product group or HortNZ for any comment as you will be busy managing the response and we are all here to help you.  . . 

Once perceived as a problem, conservation grazing by cattle a boon to vernal pools :

Giving 1,200-pound cows access to one of California’s most fragile and biologically rich ecosystems seems a strange way to protect its threatened and endangered species.

But a recently published study suggests that reintroducing low to moderate levels of cattle grazing around vernal pools – under certain conditions – leads to a greater number and greater variety of native plants.

“We found that after 40 years of rest from grazing, reintroducing conservation grazing had – across the board – positive impacts on vernal pool plant diversity,” said Julia Michaels, a visiting professor at Reed College who led a three-year study in a Sacramento-area reserve during her time as a UC Davis Ph.D. student.

Ecologists consider vernal pools – ephemeral ponds that form seasonally – “islands of native habitat” amid California’s grasslands that are dominated by exotic grasses. These biodiversity hotspots harbor about 200 native species of animals and plants, such as the coyote thistle, which germinates under water and forms a snorkel-like straw to deliver oxygen to its roots – and then “fills in” its stem as the pool dries. . . 


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