Rural round-up

August 15, 2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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Rural round-up

July 7, 2018

Rural health wants tourists’ cash – Neal Wallace:

A rural South Canterbury general practitioner was paid $13 for each of the 150 emergency calls she made in the last year, a pay rate described by the Rural GP Network as a joke.

The network’s chief executive Dalton Kelly said with such low pay rates plus the demands on rural GPs it is understandable rural health professionals are leaving the sector, prompting a call for a portion of the proposed tourist tax to be directed to rural health services.

Kelly said rural GPs and nurses are regularly called to tend to sick and injured tourists and unlike an urban incident, patients cannot be transferred to someone else who is on call. . .

Trading times get challenging – Pam Tipa:

A trade expert has backed up comments by agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who says New Zealand is facing its most challenging time in trade in 30 years.

Petersen told Rural News that the established rules on trade via the World Trade Organisation, particularly for agricultural products, are at risk from the US-China trade war.

While the products being targeted now are not NZ products, the risk of spillover into our products is very high, he says. . . 

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis leave farmer confidence in the balance:

Concerns about the impact of Mycoplasma bovis disease on the country’s agricultural sector have seen New Zealand farmer confidence decline over the past quarter, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While farmer confidence remains at net positive levels, the overall reading dropped to +two per cent in the latest quarter, from +15 per cent in the previous survey. . .

A strong bull-seeking season in south – Nicole Sharp:

Prices are up and bull breeders are happy following a successful selling season.

Bull breeders throughout Southland and Otago have been hosting fellow farmers on farms for sales over the past couple of months.

PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative Callum McDonald said sales came to a conclusion at the end of last month and there was positivity in the air.

”We have seen a great bull-selling season for the South, with high demand for quality bulls“ . . 

Hundreds gather to celebrate 50th anniversary of FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Hundreds of people have celebrated the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s longest-running agricultural contest.

The first FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final was held in Auckland in 1969.

Former winners and finalists were among a 400-strong crowd which gathered in Invercargill last night to mark the milestone.

“It’s amazing. It’s just like a school reunion isn’t it,” said Levin farmer Geoff Kane, 66, who won the national final in 1981. . .

Entire Northland school visits farm on paddock to plate learning journey

A national project is helping a Northland teacher combine her two passions of education and food production.

Natalie Lynch teaches a class of Years 5-8 students at Matakohe School in the Kaipara District.

Last week the small school’s entire roll of 47 pupils visited the farm of Marshall Walton in Whangarei.

“Watching a sheep being shorn, pressing a bale of wool in a manual press, and using the drafting gates was a new experience for everyone,” said Natalie. . . 

Omega lamb project update in third year:

The Omega Lamb Project is now in its third year and well over 100 restaurants in New Zealand and Hong Kong have had Te Mana Lamb on their menus.

The project builds on a decade-long scientific programme and breakthrough research. It found that the right combination of genetics, management and feeding can alter the fat profile of lamb and produce animals that are healthy, while delivering a tastier and healthier product.

Te Mana Lamb is higher in Omega-3 than other lamb available on the market.

Mark Williamson, general manager of the Omega Lamb Project, a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership, the farmer-owned Headwaters and leading food company Alliance Group, said Te Mana Lamb is being praised by chefs for its flavour and consistent eating quality. . . 

Fears for future of Scots beef and lamb production – Colin Ley:

The viability of beef and sheep production in Scotland is being threatened by a Scottish government climate change bill that includes a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren said that will make it virtually impossible for the country’s farmers to produce beef and lamb.

“Moving to net zero GHG emissions would be absolutely devastating for our livestock industry,” he told an industry meeting at the Royal Highland Show.  . . 

 


Mike Petersen Ag Comunicator of Year

June 14, 2018

The New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists announces:

The current New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, is the 2018 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year. This was announced at a dinner in Hamilton last night, when he was presented with a trophy and a cash prize.

This is the thirty-second year the Agricultural Communicator of the Year title has been awarded, and is the second year of involvement by sponsor Ravensdown.  This year there were six people nominated and the decision was reached by a panel of 10 judges from around the country.

Mike has been described as a superb communicator and always able to deliver his messages in tune with his audience in any location anywhere in the world.

Mike has been involved in leadership positions within the agri-food sector for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has been elected to positions on industry organisations representing farmers such as chair of Beef + Lamb, and the ability to communicate effectively has been a core component of these positions.

He has travelled the length of the country speaking to hundreds of meetings over the years, providing the opportunity for farmers to engage with their organisation and discuss opportunities for the sector.

Over the past five years he has spent a considerable amount of his time in the role of New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy. This is a ministerial appointment to advocate for the dairy, sheep, beef, horticulture and wine industries in their efforts to improve market access and trading environment.

In this role, he travels offshore about six times per year to all markets of the world where New Zealand is looking to improve market access and market reputation. He speaks to numerous conferences and meets with the complete range of stakeholders from farmers, industry groups, corporates, officials, ministers and Prime Ministers dispelling myths and promoting the New Zealand agri-food sector.

As New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, he also presents to numerous conferences and events in New Zealand, reports back to industry following his travels and responds to many media requests for interviews and commentary on all issues relating to trade.

The Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.    Guild president Elaine Fisher said the Guild is delighted to partner with Ravensdown in offering this long-standing award, which recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues events or information.

“This year’s winner, Mike Petersen, epitomises all that it is to be a highly effective communicator for our primary industries. He has advocated on behalf of sheep and beef farmers, promoted Māori agribusiness, and effectively represents New Zealand’s primary industries on the international stage, all underpinned by his background as an award-winning Hawke’s Bay farmer.

Taking communications even further, Mike also shares his knowledge and skills with the next generation of leaders through working with Young Farmers, university students, Nuffield and Kellogg scholars. The Guild is pleased to join with Ravensdown in honouring Mike as the 2018 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year,” Elaine said.

Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, the Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year is also the most valuable prize the Guild offers. Ravensdown provides a prize of $2,500 for the winner, part of a sponsorship package of nearly $6,000 for the Guild. The additional funding assists with administration costs for the award, including the awards dinner in Hamilton.


Rural round-up

June 12, 2018

Work at Ravensdown’s helm ‘incredibly fulfilling’ – Sally Rae:

It is not very often, as Greg Campbell acknowledges, that a chief executive wants more regulation.

But the boss of Ravensdown is very pleased the Government is investing more money on biosecurity.

He has been concerned the fertiliser sector was far too open to anyone to bring any product into New Zealand and call it fertiliser. . .

Envoy recommends eradication – Sally Rae:

New Zealand special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says it appears Mycoplasma bovis is more serious than reports have  so far indicated.

Mr Petersen, a former Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman, has just returned after a busy time in the UK and Europe with discussions around the future of farming and trade.

Farmers he had spoken to who had the bacterial disease on their properties believed New Zealand should try to eradicate it. . .

Sheep and beef farmers working with nature to create profit:

Farming systems that work with nature are in high demand from consumers of the food that is being produced.

A true farm profit working with a healthy environment is the goal in this new world of ever-increasing environmental scrutiny.

Brendon Walsh from GrowFarm has been working with sheep and beef farmers as a business coach for a number of years. . . 

Love at first sight – after a haircut: Farmer finds his future wife at Fieldays

Taranaki’s trio of Fieldays Rural Catch finalists can take heart – the competition has resulted in at least one marriage and two babies.

Trainee helicopter pilot Lilly Newton, 21, of Urenui, South Taranaki dairy manager Sam Hughson, also 21, and New Plymouth dairy farmer Berny Hall, 29, are among eight young farmers facing off in the fight for the coveted Golden Gumboot this week.

The competition has been a popular fixture on the Fieldays calendar for 13 years, giving competitors the opportunity to test their skills both on and off the farm and a shot at an impressive prize pool. . .

First Northlander to go through to the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

 Congratulations to Jake Dromgool from The Landing in Kerikeri who became the Bayer Auckland/Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018. He will go through to represent the region at the National Final at the end of August and will be the first Northlander to ever compete in this prestigious Final. . .

I quit my job to farm: Laura Hodgkins, 30, West Sussex – Emily Ashworth:

Laura Hodgkins, 30, quit her her job in marketing to take on a tenanted farm with her husband, Andy, 31. Here she tells us her reasons and how she has found her place in the farming world.

1) Where and what do you farm?

Our tenanted farm, Cocking Hill Farm, is part of the Cowdray Estate. Situated on the South Downs in West Sussex, it consists of around 700 acres. It is mainly chalk grassland, rising up to 800ft above sea level.

We run a 2,000 head flock of New Zealand Romneys on an extensive outdoor system, predominantly for breeding stock. . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2018

Still dry on Otago farms despite rain :

Recent rain is unlikely to be enough to break Otago’s drought. Farmers are still feeling the pressure of the extreme January heat as low water stocks start to take their toll.

Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt, of Wanaka, said farmers were still facing what some were describing as the worst dry spell in decades. The stock water supplies farmers relied on in a typical year were not available or sufficient this year, he said.

“Farmers are understandably concerned about the wellbeing of their stock and are de-stocking where needed.” . .

Pioneer to build new hydro scheme on Fraser River – Pam Jones:

A new Pioneer Energy hydro scheme on the Fraser River, on Earnscleugh Station, will generate enough electricity to power 4000 households.

Due to the altitude and topography of the area, construction would not be possible during the winter, but track construction and upgrades would begin this month, Pioneer Energy development general manager Peter Mulvihill said. The main construction of the intake, powerhouse and pipeline was scheduled to start in September.

The scheme would generate about 30GWh of power annually and should be supplying the local region by March next year, Mr Mulvihill said. . . 

Deal a good one for NZ farmers – Peter Burke:

The deal NZ has in the now-negotiated Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the best we could have expected, says NZ’s special agricultural trade envoy.

Mike Petersen told Rural News the deal is potentially better for NZ with the US pulling out of the discussions. It is effectively a series of 11 bilateral agreements between each group member, and while the US has pulled out the market access schedules have remained intact.

That means in theory that NZ has a greater opportunity to export products to the other 10 countries in the agreement, Petersen says. . .

Farmers want Healthy Rivers amendments that are practical and not a free pass – Andrew McGivern:

I would like to think that in 2018 this is, at last, when we all start finalising the Healthy Rivers Plan Change One provisions, with hearings scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

For farmers and rural communities within the Waikato-Waipa river catchments, it will be great to finally get some clarity around the rules and direction of this plan change.

This is because from a business point of view, these regulations have been operational and enforceable since it was notified back in September 2016 and are already affecting farm values and investment.

From Federated Farmers’ point of view, while we agree with the aspirations of the vision and strategy, we believe parts of the plan and some of the rules and implementation, is skewed and in need of change. . .

Sorting the wood from the trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

One billion trees. That’s a whole lot of trees.

I got an intriguing email last week.

It was from Crown Forestry, a business unit of MPI.

They were asking me if I had any suitable land to plant for the new government’s One Billion Trees programme, which is the ten-year target. To achieve, it will require new forests on up to 500,000 hectares.

This programme with Crown Forestry is but one of several initiatives to help achieve the target.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help them as I fell outside the criteria of a minimum 200 hectares, which is just over half of our farm area, but most of the other criteria like access within the block and to local roads, terrain, fertility and such applied as we are about to harvest 8 hectares of our own trees that I planted 30 years ago. . .

Rod Slater on how much beef and lamb we eat

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Rod Slater has gone in to bat for New Zealand farmers after a newspaper article suggested environmental sustainability concerns were putting the heat on meat, with rapidly declining domestic consumption of beef and, particularly, lamb.

Speaking to Jamie Mackay on The Country today, Slater said the figures in the article, including that New Zealanders are eating less than 1kg of meat each a year, were inaccurate, and Kiwis were still eating a lot of beef and lamb, though not as much as we used to. . . 

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Farmers’ pledge will work where water tax won’t

August 23, 2017

Farming leaders have pledged to make rivers swimmable:

In a first for the country, farming leaders have pledged to work together to help make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for future generations.

The Farming Leaders’ Pledge has been signed today by a group of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders, that represent over 80% per cent of that country’s farmed land, committing them to an ambitious goal of working to make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for their children and grandchildren.

Group spokesperson, Federated Farmers President and West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne says the intent behind the pledge is clear.

“Many of our rivers are not in the condition we all want them to be. We are doing this because we want our kids and their kids to be able to swim in the same rivers that we did as children.  And by swim we mean swim. It’s as simple as that.

“We’re standing up and saying we haven’t always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part. While there has been progress on farm in the past 10 years, we know there is more to be done, and that it must be done fast, and together.

Clean rivers aren’t an abstract concept for farmers.

This is the water we drink and wash with every day, not something we might visit a very few times a year.

“Today isn’t about laying out the detail on the huge amount of work going on already on farms up and down the country and how these efforts will need to increase.

“It’s about us as farming leaders signalling our commitment to making New Zealand’s rivers swimmable and doing everything we can to achieve that.”

Ms Milne, says the group understands much of the work needed will be challenging for the farming sector.

Challenging yes, but a  lot will build on work already being undertaken.

“We haven’t put a timeline on our commitment.  Each community will need to decide that for themselves.  This goal will be difficult to meet and we don’t have all the answers today on how it’s going to be achieved”, she says.

“We know that we have work to do. We know it will be challenging for farmers. We know the answers are complex and we don’t have them all now.   This commitment is simply the right thing to do in playing our part to give back to future generations what we enjoyed as kids.”

The Farming Leaders Group is an informal grouping of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders that was established in May 2017 to work on issues of importance to the sector. 

The current membership is Mike Petersen (Sheep & Beef Farmer), Michael Spaans (Dairy Farmer and Dairy NZ Chair), James Parsons (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ Chair), John Loughlin (Meat Industry Association Chair), Katie Milne (Dairy Farmer and Federated Farmers President), Bruce Wills (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Ravensdown Director), and John Wilson (Dairy Farmer and Fonterra Chair).

The improvements already made have been done by farmers who understand the importance of clean water, without the crude instrument of a water tax which Megan  Hands describes as a kick in the guts for farmers:

There is no doubt that water management is top of mind for many of us this election, but none more so than our farmers and growers, particularly those with irrigation. It’s struck me that using the word farmer seems to irk many, as if it has some kind of negative connotation.

The reality is that New Zealand’s farmers collectively are a group of thousands of small, often family run businesses and their employees. Many are self-employed and punch well above their weight to compete on a global scale, often up against farmers from nations who receive significant subsidies from their governments to assist with their costs of production, top up their incomes or assist them to undertake environmental works.

Irrigation dates to back the Ancient Egyptians and, simply put, we have it because we need water to grow crops or feed for our animals. In the areas of the country that have the most irrigation, rainfall can be scarce, ranging from just 300mm in parts of Central Otago, through to 500-700mm in Canterbury and Marlborough, as compared with the 1,200mm that falls in Auckland annually. Irrigation is used by some farmers and growers to supplement that shortfall in rain and to remain resilient in drought years.

Irrigation schemes don’t just allow farmers to weather dry weather. They also augment natural flows in rivers and streams to improve water quality and enhance water life.

What then is the likely impact of Labour’s water tax policy on these families and their communities?

On the face of it phrases like “polluter pays” or “user pays: may sound appealing, but the balancing of the environmental, social, cultural and economic needs of our communities is more complex than that.

An important point to note from the outset is that nobody in New Zealand pays for water. Even in Auckland, Watercare charges for the treatment and reticulation of water to your home or business, not for the water itself. In the same way as you pay the council through your rates or water bill, Irrigators pay for the infrastructure through consenting, drilling of wells, installation and running of pumping stations or through payments to irrigation schemes with costs of up to $800 a hectare.

That’s what we pay for water from North Otago Irrigation COmpany’s scheme – $800 a hectare a year. On top of that we have to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited each year.

When Labour’s policy was first announced, there was little detail of pricing. It appears now we are looking at a price of 2 cents per cubic metre, or 1000 Litres.

For some context, to apply 1mm of water over 1 hectare of land it takes 10,000 litres of water or 10 cubic metres. So, to supplement that shortfall of rainfall and sustain crop or pasture growth it quickly equates to large volumes of water.

To keep the maths simple, a 200ha cropping farm growing grain or grass seeds in mid Canterbury applying 500mm of irrigation water a year would have a new additional tax bill of $20,000 a year.

A 100hectare vineyard in Blenheim might use 199,500 cubic metres of water through a drip micro system and have an additional tax bill of $3,990.

Another dairy farmer well known on Twitter has calculated his annual water tax bill on his farm to be $53,000.

Suddenly a couple of cents doesn’t sound so small.

It’s not just the amount but that it will be taken from irrigators regardless of whether their practices are contributing to water quality problems, some will go to Iwi and some will go to regional councils.

What’s left after the costs of collection and distribution is supposed to be used to clean up waterways, but how? It it’s individual farms causing problems they should be responsible for fixing them and not at the cost of those who are already doing everything right.

The key drivers for irrigation requirements are the soil type and its ability to hold water, the crops water demand and the evapotranspiration of the area. In the examples above, grapes have a lower water demand than pasture or grain crops. There is a great deal of science and high level of management that goes into managing irrigation efficiently.

One arable farmer at a meeting in Ashburton on Friday said that he had calculated that at 2 cents/m3 his annual water tax bill could equate to half his annual income. Another wondered aloud what happens if he has a crop failure and he receives zero income for that year but still must pay the tax for the irrigation water he used?

What will happen in wet seasons, like the last one, when there was hardly any irrigation? Our power bill was about 10% of what it had been the previous season which indicates we used about a 10th of the irrigation.

And what will they do with the seagulls which are causing the only water quality problem in the Kakanui River?

In districts where there are significant areas of irrigation this tax would mean millions of dollars being removed from these local economies in additional tax. In these regional areas, the small towns and cities rely on primary industry to keep them going. For Ashburton and Timaru some estimates have come in around $40 million. Tim Cadogan, mayor of Central Otago, is quoted as saying the tax will cost his district $6 million dollars. That’s millions of dollars not transferred to local tradesman, the local café or the rural supplies store.

This proposed tax has been portrayed as the solution to NZ’s water quality problems, although the more we learn about this policy the more difficult it is to link the purported benefits with the method proposed. If Labour do as they say and return the tax to the areas from which it is collected (minus the percentage that goes to iwi), the areas with the poorest water quality will only receive a small slice of the tax. This is because there is almost no correlation between swimability of rivers and irrigation.

This policy is based not on facts but on the unsubstantiated belief that irrigation causes water degradation.

In our area it’s the opposite case. The Waiareka Creek that used to be a series of semi-stagnant ponds now flows clear  all year and water life has re-established because irrigation water is doing what nature couldn’t – maintain water flows.

One of the greatest concerns regarding this policy is the possibility it could make meeting required reductions in nutrient losses more difficult. Making changes on a farm to improve water quality is not cheap and any additional money squeezed out of what are often tight budgets may make it more difficult to do so. As an example, $20,000-30,000 can pay for three or four soil moisture meters to aid in more targeted use of irrigation or perhaps part of a new effluent system.

A water tax is a broad-brush approach to what are varied and complex issues. In my view identifying the contaminants causing the water quality problems for a catchment and targeting the management of those at catchment scale is a far superior approach than paying money to a government organisation in the hope that it will be returned to be spent the catchment it came from.

Last Friday David Parker, Labour’s spokesperson for freshwater fronted a public meeting in Ashburton. While I’d already been publicly critical of the approach of a water tax, I wanted to hear what he had to say in more depth than a media soundbite or the 300-word summary on the Labour party website. I’ve also long believed that there is a legitimate conversation to be had about how we should fund environmental infrastructure such as the Managed Aquifer Recharge site in Ashburton, new storm water systems or floating wetlands such as those installed at Te Arawa in Rotorua.

I was bitterly disappointed.

Mr Parker provided photos of poor farming practices to set the tone. Of the farming practices that we were seeing in the photos, not even one of them was related to irrigation and none were from Canterbury. Almost every single one of them would be illegal in Canterbury under the existing Land and Water Regional Plan putting your consent to farm or your access to irrigation water at risk of being cut off.

When questioned on the price, Mr Parker warned the room that he wasn’t there to negotiate and threatened the farmers in the room that if they pushed him it would be 2 cents instead of 1 cent. He continually referred to the farmers in the room as “you people”, taking aim at them and telling them they alone were responsible for the rural urban divide.

It is the responsibility of us all to manage our water well and that includes irrigators, towns and cities, and other commercial users. If we are going to tackle these challenges we must do it together, instead of pointing the finger at one another.

The management of our freshwater is important for our ecosystems, our businesses and our recreation. Water is precious to all of us and deserves far more sophisticated and collaborative policy development then soundbites and feel good election policies if we are to deliver the kaitiakitanga it deserves.

The pledge by the farmers’ group will work where the water tax won’t.

It will be led by and accomplished by farmers working with farmers, not politicians extracting a tax only some of which will be applied to improving water quality.


Rural round-up

October 31, 2016

Graduates take red meat path – Sally Rae:

Young Telford graduates William Benson and Lisa Bonenkamp will today embark on careers in the red meat sector.

The pair have completed their studies at Telford, where they were involved in the Red Meat Network, a tertiary network designed to increase the number of high achieving graduates entering the sheep and beef industry. Established last year, the network allowed 20 leading students from six tertiary institutions to hear high calibre speakers from the red meat sector, including New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mike Petersen. It was funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership, a Primary Growth Partnership programme.

Encouraging young people into the red meat sector was a key part of increasing productivity, RMPP general manager Michael Smith said. . . 

Chinese investment in NZ likely to shift to companies – Alexa Cook:

Public suspicion and red tape is discouraging Chinese investment in New Zealand, a Shanghai Pengxin boss says.

Shanghai Pengxin president of overseas investment Terry Lee told a Chinese agriculture conference in Wellington they wanted to control the value chain from farm gate to the table, but New Zealand kept putting up hurdles.

Mr Lee told the audience New Zealand’s government tailor-made regulations so Shanghai Pengxin could not buy Lochinvar station last year.

He said there should have been an apology, and while suspicion was a natural reaction to foreign investment it was not helpful for New Zealand. . . 

The future of milk – Lynley Hargreaves:

Value-added milk products are likely to continue their rise, says new Royal Society of New Zealand Fellow Dr Skelte Anema. That means we’ll keep moving away from commodities like dried milk powder and export more expensive products such as fresh and long-life liquid milk and cream. A Principal Research Scientist at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, Dr Anema has worked in the New Zealand dairy industry since 1990. He tells us how the science and economics have changed, and how processing milk in different ways can effect milk proteins, making for more consistent products, a longer shelf life, or even pourable cheese.

When you first started working in this area, New Zealand had cream-topped glass bottles of home-delivered milk. How has the research environment changed in the last 26 years?

Fresh milk that is sold in New Zealand is only a very small part of our milk supply. But one thing that’s very different now is that we used to do a lot of research on milk powder. . . 

Jane Hunter Honoured by Marlborough Wine Industry:

Jane Hunter, owner of Hunter’s Wines in Marlborough, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the board of Wine Marlborough.

The annual award is given in recognition of services to the wine industry over a period of time.

Jane, who arrived in Marlborough in 1983, has played an integral role in making Marlborough a household name in international wine circles.

Arriving in the province in 1983 as a viticulturist for Montana Wines, she went on to marry Ernie Hunter, the founder of one of Marlborough’s first wineries. When Ernie died in 1987, Jane took over the reins of the company. . . 

Future of Food:

The Netherlands and New Zealand have much in common, in both culture and economics, particularly in the areas of agri-food, horticulture and trade. Next month, the Embassy of the Netherlands is hosting a one-day forum, in cooperation with Massey University and FoodHQ, which will take advantage of the many parallels between the two nations with the aim of creating momentum for exploring new opportunities where we can collaborate on the issues of sustainable food commerce in key global markets.

Next month’s Future of Food Forum will be opened by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Netherlands Minister for Economic Affairs Henk Kamp. The Forum includes presentations and discussions between leaders from the private and public sector, including Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings, Zespri chief executive Lain Jager and Massey Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey. . . 

Insects are the sustainable food of the future –  Dick Wybrow:

The buzz is getting louder as we make more room on our dinner tables for bugs.

With a growing global population and shrinking resources, some experts think insects could eventually replace meat and fish.

It’s been estimated that it takes 1750 litres of water and more than 6kg of feed to make an average hamburger.

So maybe it’s time to bite the bugs back.

We already know a handful of freeze-dried ants or a salad sprinkled with crickets can provide heaps of protein. . . 

Meth use spikes amongst rural Australians:

There are calls for drug monitoring in rural areas after a study found meth use among rural Australians is twice as high as those living in cities.

One in 43 people in rural areas are using the drug, according to researchers from the University of Western Australia – that’s 150 percent more than in 2007.

In cities, use has only gone up 16 percent.

The highest rates of usage were found in rural men aged 18 to 25, particularly tradies. . . 

Nine Hours in the Combine : Reflecting on #My60Acres – Uptown Farms:

The corn is harvested!  It took Matt and I, each running a 9500 John Deere combine with a 6 row corn head, about nine hours to harvest the entire 60 acres.  So now that it’s all done, here are my thoughts.

Farming is hard work!

There might be a reason only 2% of Americans do this – it’s hard!  I try to battle that fairy-tale version of farming on my  blog but I don’t think I’ve given enough credit to the physical aspect of farming. 

I see him come home every night  covered head to toe in dust and looking physically exhausted.  But it never really registered with me.  Especially this time of year.  I know working cattle is hard, shearing sheep is hard. But driving a tractor or a combine?  . . 


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