Rural round-up

13/06/2021

Rising stars of primary industries acknowledged:

A 50 percent jump in the number of nominations for the 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards underpins the amount of innovation and leadership going on in the sector and growing awareness of the need to celebrate it, Terry Copeland says.

The Federated Farmers of NZ chief executive said from 65 nominations, up from just over 40 last year, judges have had the tough task of selecting finalists in seven categories. Winners will be announced at the PINZ Summit in Christchurch on 6 July.

“With a whole set of gnarly challenges in front of us – from global warming, biosecurity threats, cost pressures and demand for more community water storage, to name a few – robust science, entrepreneurial spirit and cross-agency teamwork is needed,” Terry said. . .

Farmers need to better prepare to deal with the barrage of regulations aimed at the sector – Mike Cranstone:

Farmers need to consider how they can have a stronger voice to represent their industry as it faces an endless barrage of regulations.

To be effective, agriculture must identify who it should be lobbying, and what messages are going to garner support. It needs a strategy rather than ad hoc responses, and we need to resource it properly, so we have a serious crack at defending the future of our industry.

The threat is not only to agriculture but to New Zealand’s future prosperity, this is too important for us to continue bumbling along.

Agriculture is facing rules and restrictions on many fronts; Freshwater, biodiversity, animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions and also bearing the brunt of rampant local government rate rises. . . 

Maple syrup in New Zealand: Trial aims to test sap production :

A trial near the Canterbury village of Hanmer Springs aims to see if maple syrup can be produced in New Zealand.

A small plantation of maple trees was planted there last autumn by the University of Canterbury.

Despite Canada’s freezing winters playing a pivotal role in its maple syrup production, research team lead Professor Matt Watson believes sap production can happen here.

“We planted our first maple saplings near Hanmer Springs last autumn and will coppice-prune them to keep them small. . . 

 

Vero urges Canterbury farmers affected by flooding to use mental health benefit on their insurance:

Vero insurance has today urged its rural customers affected by flooding in the Canterbury region to make use of the mental health benefit available on their rural insurance policies.

“The flooding in Canterbury is having a significant impact on our rural insurance customers, with inundation and damage to farming infrastructure like fences, pump and other farm assets and buildings,” says Chris Brophy, Executive Manager SME and Rural Insurance.

Brophy says that a large number of the 350 claims Vero has received due to the storm so far have been from rural customers, and that it expects the number of claims to increase further. . . 

Tough times for wine tour guides ’it is what it is’ :

The border opening with Australia has done little to re-invigorate the fortunes of Marlborough wine tour guides.

Marlborough Wine Tours used to take about 3000 mainly international guests around the region’s vineyards and cellar doors each year.

But this season it was down to less than a fifth of its normal clientele.

Guide and operator of the business Jess Daniell said guides were having to find other work. . .

Premer and Tambar Springs growers unite to tackle alarming wild pig problem – Lucy Kinbacher:

Growers on the Liverpool Plains have eradicated at least 1500 wild pigs in just four months, saving the district around $100,000 in damage.

While the mouse plague dominates headlines right now, this year local farmers around Premer and Tambar Springs faced an even bigger threat to their high yielding crops.

But when Local Land Services surveyed the district about the issue they found they lacked a combined pest management approach against pigs.

It wasn’t until 20 landholders gathered at the Premer pub to hear from Central West Local Land Services biosecurity officer Will Thorncraft that they decided to establish a pest management group and join with National Parks and North West LLS to tackle the problem. . . 

 


Rural round-up

24/07/2020

That’s Northland’: floods follow droughts and tests farmers’ resolve – Brad Flahive:

While most of the floodwater in Northland has receded after the weekend’s deluge, the silt it left behind is a frustrating reminder of how vulnerable farmers are to the extremes of mother nature.

After months of near-crippling drought, more than 200mm of rain fell during two storms last weekend, and now the silt-laden paddocks can’t be used for pasture at this crucial time of year.

“The cows just won’t eat it, they just walk around in the mud and make a big mess,” said farmer Nick Bishop from his dairy farm, 10 kilometres east of Dargaville. . . 

Farm interactive learning platform – Yvonne O’Hara:

Chris and Desiree Giles, of Waimumu Downs, use their property as a giant interactive learning platform for children from the 16 eastern Southland schools.

“We are in the process of putting a classroom down on the farm. Getting the kids involved is a means of bringing in their parents and getting their buy-in,” Mr Giles said.

The couple, who have two children — Danielle (9) and Andrew (7) — have a 306ha dairy property (206ha effective), which was converted in 2014.

The family bought the original property six years ago and since then had almost doubled the acreage. . . 

Lowest number of of non-compliance’s in Taranaki since 2015 – Mike Watson:

Covid-19 and Taranaki residents’ growing environmental awareness have resulted in a record number of environmental incidents reported to the Taranaki Regional Council, but also a record low for the number of actual non-compliances.

During the past 12 months, 529 cases were reported – the highest figure for five years, the council’s consents and regulatory meeting was told on Tuesday.

But the number of non-compliances during the same monitoring period was 185 – the lowest in five years.

This was partly because of more consent holders following the rules but also because of reduced monitoring during the lockdown. . .

Group to set beef’s priorities – Annette Scott:

Grant Bunting never thought he would become so passionate about sustainability but says the sustainability challenge cannot be ignored if New Zealand producers want to improve their standing on the world stage. He talked to Annette Scott.

Grant Bunting has long had a genuine interest in farming systems and practices but new and evolving industry challenges have somewhat changed his outlook.

The inaugural chairman of the recently formed New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef said the growing importance the world puts on sustainability credentials across the supply chain has changed many a view.

“I have to admit I am quite traditional in my views but these sustainability challenges can’t be ignored.  . . 

Events celebrate rural communities :

Agritech industry transformation plan leader David Downs is returning to his roots as part of Pride in our Land events being held throughout the Manawatu-Wanganui Region.

Whanganui-born Downs, a general manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise who is head of the Government taskforce behind the agritech plan, is guest speaker at events in Raetihi and Whanganui next Thursday and Friday, July 30 and 31.

They are part of a wider series of get-togethers that began at Mokotuku’s Black Dog Pub on July 9 and wind up at Makoura Lodge at Apiti on August 15.

Whanganui Federated Farmers president Mike Cranstone says it has been a rough start to the year for landowners dealing with the adverse weather conditions and supply chain disruptions of the past six months. . . 

Farming is a great way of life – let’s make it a safe one – Jacqui Cannon:

There’s no doubt that farming, one of Australia’s most important industries, is also one of its most dangerous.

Big open spaces, big animals, big machinery, big workload.

In the past 18 months, more than 200 Australians have died in farming accidents, tearing apart families and communities – one in six are kids under five years old.

This goes beyond tragic; it’s horrifying. But the most horrifying aspect is that it’s so readily accepted by many as “just a part of life on the land“. . .

 


Rural round-up

28/06/2020

One billion . . .  wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

Is this simply the dumbest waste of Government money to be spent in New Zealand?

The Government has committed $100m​ dollars to tackle wilding pines infestations during the next four years but under the One Billion Trees Fund, it’s also paying for the invasive species to be planted in the first place.

In Southland, a trust that has worked hard to eradicate wilding pines has written to Government ministers asking why they allow, under the fund, the planting of wilding species.

The Mid Dome Wilding Pine Trust has spent more than $10m​ clearing wilding contorta pines from northern Southland since 2007. . .

Farming vs Forestry: carbon credit  policy ‘idealistic’ :

The Government’s carbon credit policy is “idealistic” and missing “the big picture” says Mike Cranstone.

“Allowing an overseas fund manager to use our productive land to grow carbon credits – that’s like cutting off a finger of our productive hand,” the Whanganui Federated Farmers president and hill country farmer told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Cranstone was also not a fan of giving up profitable sheep and beef land to forestry.

“Let’s have the government set the incentives and the policy to actually encourage farmers to think about their marginal land and plant that”. . . 

Govt underestimating Labour shortage – National :

The government is underestimating the size of the labour shortage rural contractors are facing, according to National’s ag spokesperson David Bennett.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says he expects rural contractors generally require 350 foreign workers to get through the season. But contractors dispute this, saying many more will likely be needed to fill the labour shortage,’ claims Bennett.

“He also admitted the Government’s Covid-19 training programme is only training 40 people across the country to fill these highly-skilled roles.

“The Minister implied that if someone is capable of driving a van then they are qualified to drive a tractor. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account the complexities of rural contracting and the high-value crops that are at stake. . .

Farms rich family heritage recognised – Molly Houseman:

A Taieri farm, owned by the same family for 150 years, has been given a New Zealand Century farm award.

Despite the cancellation of the usual awards dinner due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Janefield farm and its rich family history did not go unnoticed.

The 220ha farm is owned by father and son Ian and Simon Bathgate.

To be considered for the award, an application including photographs and documents supporting the farm’s history had to be submitted. . .

Selling makes no sense when you’re living the dream – Hugh Collins:

The drive between Arrowtown and Queenstown contains arguably some of the most sought-after high-country land in the South Island.

With no shortage of wealthy developers moving into the area in the past decade, many would be adamant the region’s rich farming days are numbered.

But for Malaghans Rd farmer Chris Dagg, it would be a cold day in hell if he ever chose to sell his 404ha sheep and beef farm beneath Coronet Peak.

“I’ve had countless people say ‘why don’t you just sell and go sit on a beach?,” Mr Dagg said when asked about selling. . . 

Pig farmers feed million bees in wildlife project :

Two pig farmers have succeeded in feeding one million bees after participating in a project that saw them turn over half their land to wildflowers.

Four years ago brothers Mark and Paul Hayward decided to farm 33ha – the equivalent of 83 football pitches – in the most wildlife positive way.

This involves planting nectar-rich blooms around the pig site at Dingley Dell Pork, Suffolk with the aim of embracing a sustainable way of farming. . . 


Rural round-up

14/05/2020

COVID-19: Farming continues while pollution falls – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth on how the agriculture and horticulture sectors are supporting New Zealand through the COVID-19 pandemic.

OPINION: New Zealanders have been urged to order food from outlets that don’t use Uber, and to be extremely careful using Tinder.

The first is because of expenditure (Uber apparently takes 35% of the bill). The second is because of COVID-19 and potential to transmit the virus. (NRL players have been forbidden to use the app and the difficulty of maintaining 2m distance must be acknowledged.)

It is probable that rural dwellers will find it easier to comply with these requests than those who live in urban districts. It is possible that rural dwellers have never used either of the two services. It is also possible that rural dwellers are wondering about how much money is evaporated on services that make it easier to spend more money on services.  . . 

Court grants farmers appeal extension :

The Environment Court has granted extra time to allow appeals on the Waikato Regional Council’s plan change 1.

Federated Farmers Waikato president Jacqui Hahn said individual farmers and growers have 70 working days from May 11 to file appeals.

Industry groups including Federated Farmers have a shorter deadline of 50 working days from April 28 to file their appeals. . . 

Water users frustrated as ORC torpedoes local decision-making:

As if there wasn’t already enough stress and economic hurdles facing the region, the Otago Regional Council has added to the uncertainty. 

The submission period closed on the ORC’s Proposed Plan Change 7 on water permits on Monday.  However, because Council notified the plan change, and then asked the government to call it in, there’ll be another whole round of submissions once the Environmental Protection Authority renotifies it, which is frustrating to impacted resource users.

Federated Farmers – like most, if not all, other rural representatives – has opposed PC7.  

“We said in our submission that it fails on tests of cost-effectiveness, fairness, adequate consultation, and consistency with existing policies,” Federated Farmers Otago President Simon Davies says. . .

Pride regained telling people we are farmers – Mike Cranstone:

It is great to be a farmer; it certainly has not been an easy autumn, but we are lucky to be still in charge of our businesses. And a farm is a perfect backyard for kids to be in throughout lockdown. Our consideration must go to those people with uncertain job prospects, and the many local small business owners who provide an invaluable service to the farming sector. I encourage farmers to think of what work, whether servicing or projects that we can bring forward to help these businesses get back on their feet.

This season was always shaping up to be memorable. In December it was shaping up to be one of the best, with good feed levels matched with an $8 floor to the lamb schedule, mid $7 and $6 for dairy and beef, respectively.

If we were feeling comfortable, the impact of Covid-19 and a lingering widespread drought put pay to that. For farmers, the drought is having a more immediate financial impact. There is plenty of uncertainty looking forward, with how the looming global recession will impact demand and prices for meat and dairy.

The drought has put significant pressure on farmers, with stock water being a real issue and now with low feed covers going into late autumn. Getting killing space for all stock classes has been difficult since December, with prime cattle being terribly slow. Farmers’ loyalty to their meat company has generally been well rewarded, but I am interested where that often-discussed meat industry overcapacity is hiding. It could be a long tough winter with low feed covers, please keep an eye on our fellow farmers’ welfare along with that of our animals. . . 

Feds wins time for Waikato farmers and growers:

The Environment Court’s decision to allow more time for the filing of appeals on Waikato Regional Council’s Plan Change 1 has Federated Farmers breathing a sigh of relief.

All three of the Federated Farmers provinces affected by this plan change are delighted and somewhat relieved with this decision.

Federated Farmers Waikato president Jacqui Hahn says this means individual farmers and growers have 70 working days from 11 May to file appeals. . . 

Covid-19 could revive single-use plastics – agribusiness head – Eric Frykberg:

The Covid-19 crisis could be a big setback to progress on eliminating plastics, a rural expert has warned.

Ian Proudfoot, global head of agribusiness for KPMG, told a webinar the desire for health and hygiene could easily trump environmental worries about plastics.

His comments follow a steady pushback against plastics overseas and in New Zealand, where it led to a ban on single use plastic bags in many parts of the economy with the aim of reducing pollution and reliance on fossil fuels, which are a raw ingredient for many plastics.

Proudfoot warned however that people could easily come to view plastic-packaged foodstuffs as clean and safe and could start to insist on it, leading to a revival in the use of plastics. . .


Rural round-up

23/07/2019

Pine trees cast shadow of death over NZ native plants and animals – Mike Cranstone:

NEW Zealand has always been challenged to move from commodity mass production to targeting higher value, whether it be in agriculture, tourism or our manufacturing businesses.

In this country’s frantic race to deliver on a throw-away election comment of 1 billion trees, we seem to be chasing numbers and not quality.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of productive farmland is being removed from livestock production by investors chasing a potential windfall from a speculated rising carbon price. . .

Share sale last chance – Sally Rae:

A share offer for the last 14% of the North Otago Irrigation Company shares issued but not taken up at the time of the scheme expansion in 2014 now represent the last chance for farmers in the scheme area to secure water. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae finds out how the scheme has benefited North Otago.

Agriculture has plenty of challenges and the list is building by the day.

But North Otago Irrigation Company chairman Matt Ross reckons if people went for a drive around rural North Otago and saw some of the businesses operating, they would say, “isn’t that amazing?”. . .

Mel and Janelle – the city slickers turned Tauranga dairy farm superstars – Jean Bell:

After trading in the corporate life in downtown Auckland’s grey streets for the luscious green pastures of a Ōhauiti dairy farm, Janelle Nee and Mel McEntyre aren’t looking back.

The couple took over Nee’s family farm in 2016 and they’ve taken to farming like ducks take to the water, picking up a Fonterra farming award and getting the farm out of a deficit along the way.

“Three years ago if someone had said to me, ‘oh you’re gonna love your cows,’ I would’ve been like, ‘oh whatever’,” McEntyre says, with a flick of the hand and a roll of the eye. . .

Love meat not plastic – Kit Arkwright:

It’s Plastic Free July – did you know? For those that don’t, this global movement helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities, writes Kit Arkwright from New Zealand’s domestic meat promotion body.

Plastic is an issue close to many Kiwi’s hearts. The recent ‘Better Futures’ study by Colmar Brunton ranks plastic waste as the number one issue for New Zealanders. It featured above issues like the cost of living, protection of children and suicide rates. To say now is the time for the meat industry to take a long, hard look at how it reduces its impact on plastic waste is an understatement.

The issue of plastic packaging for meat is not a simple situation. Plastic packaging offers the most effective solution to ensuring meat has a viable shelf-life and it also offers a safe option for ensuring the high standards of food safety we have come to expect as a given here in New Zealand. . . 

 

Grace winds down now he’s 93 – Annette Scott:

At 93 Ashburton farmer Keith Grice has decided it’s time to hang up his hat on sheep farming but the true dinkum landlubber is not ready yet to leave his land. He talked to Annette Scott about his 70 years as a sheep farmer.

When the trucks rolled out from Keith Grice’s sheep yards, loaded with his capital stock ewes bound for the annual in-lamb ewe fair at Temuka on July 10, they marked the end of a very long era.

After 70 years farming sheep and at the ripe old age of 93 Grice has decided it’s time to put away his shepherd’s crook.

We need an all hands on deck effort to help farmers in crisis – Margaret Krome:

A friend once described the most traumatic experience of her life. It wasn’t an assault, an accident or even any physical injury. As a child, her father was laid off as an air traffic controller at O’Hare International Airport in a labor standoff that President Ronald Reagan sought to make into labor’s Waterloo. Her whole family had deeply identified with her father’s service and never really recovered, she said. A sense of alarm and despair pervaded her childhood ever after.

Similar trauma is being relived horribly in farm country right now. Farming is deeply personal; I know no farmer for whom it’s just an occupation. Over the years, I’ve sadly witnessed the catastrophes of farm families for whom farm foreclosures, traumatic in themselves, resulted in divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse and other tragedies, including the worst — suicide.

In my experience, although farm foreclosures feel altogether personal, they rarely reflect a farmer’s competence. The terrible wave of farm losses in the 1980s and the current crisis in the farm community were both a long time brewing — a consequence of federal policies that favor agricultural and market concentration, and of disparate policies related to trade, agricultural markets, research, credit, water, immigration and more. . .

 


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