Rural round-up

October 8, 2018

Passion for industry that has a strong future – Sally Rae:

Katrina Bishop was exposed to the fine wool industry from a young age.

She grew up at Mt Otekaike Station in the Waitaki Valley where her father Geoff had a merino stud and a passion for fine wool.

That love of wool was passed on to her — “it’s in my veins, I had no choice” she laughed — and eventually led to a career in wool-classing.

More recently, she moved to a newly-created position with the New Zealand Merino Company as a wool preparation consultant. . . 

Award for “ODT” journalist:

Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae has won the Alliance Group Ltd red meat industry journalism award.

The award recognised the ability to communicate the complexities of the red meat industry.

Ms Rae’s entries included a profile on former Central Otago man Mark Mitchell, who has spent the past 30 years working in the meat industry in the United States, particularly as a pioneer for New Zealand venison, and a feature on the Antipocurean Series which covered a visit to Minaret Station with a group of international chefs and food media. . . 

Adverse events scheme set to go – Neal Wallace:

The Government is planning to repeal the Adverse Events Scheme that smooths tax liability following an extreme event but say the process will be retained in other legislation.

The Adverse Events Scheme lets farmers and rural businesses smooth extreme income earned through an adverse event such as drought, flood or a Mycoplasma bovis cull and later spending for restocking.

Inland Revenue has proposed retaining the scheme by amending an existing law and including improved aspects of the scheme.

An IRD spokesman said a review of the scheme’s provisions found it is inflexible when compared to corresponding schemes. . . 

No surprises in government’s fresh water management strategy:

The government’s announcement this morning of its determination to encourage the entire community, not just farmers, to continue to clean up waterways came as no surprise to Federated Farmers.

The report outlined the government’s intention to keep the pressure on all Kiwis to continue to work towards better fresh water systems, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“All we ask is that the government uses an even hand. For example, the commitment to getting tougher on nutrient discharges to waterways needs to be applied fairly to both councils, corporates and farmers. 

Fast Five: The outdoor life :

Joe Lines grew up in the small seaside community of Tangimoana in Manawatu.

He describes himself as townie who spent most of his youth at the beach.

He left school and went farming because the money was good and he enjoyed working outdoors and with the stock.

He has been dairying for seven years and has worked his way up the progression ladder and is in his fourth season as a 2IC.   . . 

Stratford’s shearing season off to super start – Rachael Kelly:

It’s two from two for top shearer Nathan Stratford.

Fresh from a win at the New Zealand Merino Shears at Alexandra, he won the open competition at the Waimate Spring Shears on Saturday.

It’s only the beginning of the shearing  season but New Zealand representative Stratford said the competition was “top level,” with plenty of shearers from the North Island on the boards.

“There were four North Islanders and two South Islanders in the final.

Farmers lead community to fight local river pollution –  A New Zealand community stands up for clean water:

In New Zealand, the recently completed Pathway for the Pomahaka project showcased an innovative approach to sustainable development. Farmers took responsibility for improving local water quality in partnership with their community.

On its face, the area around the Pomahaka River in South Otago, on New Zealand’s South Island, is typical of the sort of unspoiled landscapes the country is famous for. Local water quality, however, has become a cause for concern. Levels of phosphates, nitrogen and E. coli were getting too high, with sediment entering the river and increasing pollution. The intensification of agriculture in the region, a shift toward dairy farming, and heavy soils coupled with a wet local climate all compounded the problem.

Without action, water quality would have continued to deteriorate. The Pomahaka might have eventually become unsuitable for recreational purposes like fishing, swimming and boating. . . 


365 days of gratitude

April 15, 2018

We’ve been eating our way through a long weekend.

It started on Thursday with lunch at Minaret Station for a friend’s birthday (will post about that in the next few days).

On Friday we dined at Jacks Point with international chefs and media who are in New Zealand as part of Alliance Group’s Antipocurean tour (more of that in a future post too).

Yesterday we celebrated a friend’s 77th birthday at the Hawea pub and today we caught up with friends for lunch at Riverstone Kitchen.

Fine food, good friends and other friendly people – I’m grateful for them all.

 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2017

Te Mana lamb – Jo Elwin:

Standing high on a hill on Minaret Station was no place to be this cold, blustery snow-on-the-way day, but there I was, exhilarated and remarking at the pretty white faces of the lambs being shepherded around us. “They are very good looking sheep,” says Matt Wallis, one of four brothers who own the station, “but we are careful who we say that around.”

It was one of many quips from Matt and his brother Jonathan as they helicoptered me around their 50,000 acre property, which has no road access but enjoys 27km of Wanaka lakefront. Matt’s focus is the hospitality side of the business. . . 

New stock exclusion rules require greater flexibility – Feds – Nigel Malthus:

New rules excluding stock from waterways are coming, but they have to be sensible, practical and affordable, says Cathy Begley, leader of Federated Farmers’ water team.

Begley told attendees at the recent Feds South Island high country group conference that the proposals could affect the way they run their farms.

She says that since the Minister for the Environment, Dr Nick Smith, and the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, announced in February the goal of having 90% of rivers swimmable, her group has been making submissions on how farmers could be affected. . .

Rural sector achievements and value highlighted in honours list:

Federated Farmers congratulates all those who received awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year and is delighted to see the rural sector and the people involved in it commended for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

“The number of Queen’s Birthday Honours which have an agricultural connection shows the significant contribution farmers and agribusiness continue to play in New Zealand.

“These awards recognise contributions in science and innovation, mental health, business and the environment indicating the diversity of effort in the rural community,” says Dr William Rolleston Federated Farmers ‘ National President. . . 

Rotorua woman excited and thankful for honour – Shauni James:

Rotorua’s Wendy McGowan is excited and thankful about being made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rural women.

Mrs McGowan has been a member of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) since 1975 and has held offices with the Kaharoa Branch, Provincial and Inter-Provincial Committees.

She said she felt excited about the honour and very thankful to the people who had nominated her. . .

Maori growing part of NZ ag – PM:

Prime Minister Bill English says in most regions Maori now have the potential to become the largest long-term investors.
People are starting to realise Maori are not fly-by-night investors, he says. They are in business – farms, commercial buildings, investments — for the long haul.

English said this at an event celebrating the award of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm, this year won by the Omapere Rangihamama Trust farm, near Kaikohe. . .

Rural fuel stop from a paddock – Christine McKay:

A partnership between Pongaroa and Allied Petroleum is a first for New Zealand, pumping profits back into the community.

On Monday the first sod was turned for the Pongaroa Fuel Stop, which will be a driver for community development, thanks to the unique relationship between the fuel company and the community.

“When we were approached about the fuel stop, our overwhelming view was yes,” Paul Peetoom, territory manager for the lower North Island for Allied Petroleum, said. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 29, 2014

Cattle top NZ’s most dangerous farm animal list – Chris Hyde:

Cattle are New Zealand’s most dangerous farm animals according to ACC.

Figures obtained by Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act show that in 2013 there were 2262 cattle-related injuries requiring ACC funding.

Sheep were in second, inflicting 1612 injuries, while the horse also had a hoof in the payout of 1285 claims.

Cattle were not, however, the most dangerous farm animal in all areas of the country.

For example, in the Manawatu district, Manawatu District farmers in particular flocked to ACC in 2013, claiming 43 sheep-related injuries in the calendar year, a number that earned the sheep the title of Manawatu’s most dangerous farm animal – beating out cattle on 40. . .

End of an era as breeders downsize and head to town – Jill Galloway:

Steph Holloway and Hamish Hawker are getting out of their breeding farm at Hunterville, after a long family association with the property.

Five generations of Holloway’s family, including her, have worked on the hill country farm.

She said she and Hawker sold 600 two-tooth ewes at last week’s Feilding ewe fair. A further 1300 mixed-age ewes were sold at the sale on Friday.

Holloway said that while they could stay on the farm until May, they were already looking for a smaller finishing farm closer to town.

“Our breeding unit was 800 acres [324 hectares], and it was 50 minutes to Feilding, where I work. We want 200 acres [80ha], and it will mean a day or two a week on the farm.” . . .

Synlait ups the milk price ante:

Canterbury milk processor Synlait has fired the dairy equivalent of a full broadside by upping its forecast milk price for 2013/14 to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Before Christmas, the coop Westland Milk Products lifted its in-season forecast to $7.90-$8.30 kg/MS. Now we see Synlait joining the fray to be in the same ballpark as Fonterra,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Of course, Open Country operates a continuous payout while we know Miraka will be highly competitive as will be that darling of value-add, Tatua.

“For farmers, this level of farm gate competition is positive with other processors getting closer to joining the market. . .

Decline in dairy cow fertility may have halted:

New dairy industry data indicates a long-term decline in dairy cow fertility may have been halted.

It’s an issue that’s been challenging dairy scientists and farmers in New Zealand and overseas, because cow fertility is fundamental to dairy farm productivity and profitability.

Dairy New Zealand strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says the lower fertility was linked to the import of American Holstein cows into the country in the late 1990s. . .

“Importantly, we are getting advance rates that will help cashflow following the train wreck drought hit season that was 2012/13. . . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry – Dr Jon Hauser,

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . .

Going the distance to get to school – Shane Gilchrist:

As another school year looms so, too, does the weekday routine of actually getting children to class. For some, that means going the distance, as Shane Gilchrist discovers.

Off to school on a sunny morning into the farm truck and heading to the boat. Open the gate, out of the truck and into the boat. Lifejackets on and we are heading to Camp Creek. That is where we meet the school bus to get to school …

”If it is a smooth lake we play and you can move or guess what we are going to do for the day. But on a rough lake we have to sit in our seats for the whole way. When we get there I race to the bus. I get on and one of my friends said, `You are early – it was only 8.20 when you should be there at 8.30′. But it doesn’t really matter …”

Eight-year-old Alice Wallis’ story might be relatively short, but her weekday journey is a wee bit longer than that typically taken by the many thousands of New Zealand children who return to school next week.

Even though Makarora School can be seen from Minaret Station, on the western shore of Lake Wanaka, it still takes 45 minutes to make the one-way trip by (as Alice has explained) farm truck, boat then bus. . .


Labour’s stance on pastoral leases will force more into freeholding

February 17, 2011

If there was a single group which had more reason than most to be delighted when Labour was defeated in 2008 it was pastoral leaseholders.

Families who had loved and looked after the South Island high country for generations had their livelihoods and their property rights threatened when the then-government tried to rewrite the rules on their rents.

It was expensive not only in financially but emotionally too.

When pastoral leases were set up,  legislation established that rents were based on land exclusive of improvements. That meant the land was the Crown’s but all improvements – including soil fertility, pasture, fences and buildings were the property of the leaseholder.

Then Labour decided to add the amenity values to the equation. Land which happened to be close to a lake, river or have a good view was suddenly deemed to be worth more and the rent was based on that even though that figure was often many times higher than the property’s earning capacity.

To make it worse the main reason amenity values were so high was they were based on the ridiculous prices, well above market norms, that Labour had paid to buy high country properties like St James Station.

A test case taken by Minaret Station to the Otago District Land Value Tribunal backed farmers  ruled against the inclusion of  amenity values in rent reviews.

By then National was in power and came up with a much more equitable formula for pastoral rents which was accepted by farmers and Labour, or at least that’s what their agricultural spokesman Damien O’Connor said back in August last year.

It’s not what he’s saying now Crown Pastoral land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill is in the House for its first reading.

But at least he’s saying it without the vitriol which punctuated the speech of his colleague David Parker, who as the then-Minister was responsible for much of the mess which resulted in the test case.

The rural grapevine reckons the seeds which drove Labour’s determination on this issue were planted when Helen Clark’s request to land a helicopter on a high country property to shorten a tramp was declined by the landowner. I don’t know if that is true. But if it is Parker often tramped with her and even if he wasn’t with her on that occasion he’d no doubt have been told the story.

If it’s not true I have no idea what is behind his apparent dislike of farmers.

We were part of a small group of pastoral lessees who met him when he was Minister. He didn’t appear to understand our concerns and made it quite clear he wasn’t prepared to make any concessions.

But I never thought I’d hear an MP say, as he did in Tuesday’s speech:

. . .   what comes around goes around and I will never put up with an argument now from the lessees coming to me and saying ‘please respect my property rights under this lease’ because what comes around goes around and this is a licence for a future government to go in and fix these things up and to change the terms of this lease. . .

That is a threat lessees should take seriously because it means when Labour regains power they will mess with rents again.

The message lessees should take is to do all they can to freehold their property through the tenure review process before that happens.

Spot the irony – Labour’s stance on pastoral leases and the anti-farmer sentiment of its former minister, are going to force lessees into freeholding. It’s the only way they can be sure their property rights are secure.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog


Ex-minister wants to waste more money

August 8, 2009

The ex-Minister of Lands David Parker is urging the Crown to appeal the Otago District Land Value Tribunal’s decision that amenity values shouldn’t be taken into account when setting rents for pastoral leases.

He said last week’s Otago District Land Valuation Tribunal ruling meant the rent-setting methodology created a large discount to what he considered was proper rent, and would increase land prices to the point where only wealthy overseas investors could afford to buy the land.

He was the one behind the inclusion of amenity values in pastoral rents. The subsequent legal battle ahs already cost the taxpayer and pastoral lessees hundreds of thousands of dollars and the ruling makes it quite clear he was wrong.

He didn’t understand the issue when he was a minister and still doesn’t.

Rent for pastoral leases is based on land exclusive of improvements and leases tightly proscribe what leaseholders can do with the land. Regardless of the beauty of the surroundings, pastoral leases are for pastoral farming. Meat, wool and leather don’t earn a premium because the sheep and cattle from which they came enjoyed the view while they were grazing.

Fortunately Parker’s no longer in government and the people who are have a much better grasp on the issue.

Agriculture Minister David Carter told the ODT he expects pastoral lessees to welcome the new policy for the high country which is to be released soon.

Asked about last Friday’s land valuation tribunal ruling on rent-setting methodology, which found in favour of pastoral lessees, Mr Carter said it was a victory for farmers. High-country farmers had a role in managing the “difficult and fragile environment, in many cases better than some Wellington-based bureaucrat,” he said.

High Country Accord chair and Minaret Station owner, Jonathon Wallis said in a newsletter to accord members:

As a result of the decision, the rent on Minaret Station will increase by 400 per cent from the previous rental set 11 years before, but this a sixth of the rent proposed by the Crown.

 “For many farmers, the rent sought by the Crown exceeded the gross income from the farm. There is nothing rational in that,” states Mr. Wallis.

 He says the persistent attacks and treatment of high country farmers by the previous government were cynically motivated.

 “The tribunal reflects this in its criticism of the previous government for choosing ‘to direct and demand of its valuers a process that is intended to achieve a particular outcome’.”

 This issue has caused a lot of anxiety for farmers, some of whom had been farming the land for generations. Had amenity values been taken into account when assessing rents pastoral farming would no longer have been viable on many properties.

That may well have been the ultimate aim of the previous administration which failed to understand the role pastoral farming has played in the conservation of the high country.

David Carter has made it clear the current administration has a much better understanding of the issue and while it is up to LINZ to appeal the decision or not, it is obvious the government would not be in favour of wasting any more money on this exercise in futility.


LVT backs farmers on amenity values

August 2, 2009

The Otago Land Valuation Tribunal has backed farmers in their case against the inclusion of amenity values in rents for high country pastoral leasehold land.

This is a victory for farmers and common sense.

The previous government had instructed valuers to include amenity values including views and privacy when assessing rents farmers with pastoral leases pay.

It would have meant steep increases in the cost of farming the high country which bore no relationship to its earning potential.

Rents have always been set on land exclusive of improvements and the tribunal’s ruling has backed this stance.

Jonathon and Annabel Wallis of Minaret Station took a test case to the tribunal with the support of the High Country Accord.

It has been an expensive and worrying process for them and their supporters.

The ruling could be appealed but the change of government makes that unlikely.

Ministers have been careful not to pre-empt the judgement but earlier statements from them on the matter suggest they will not only accept the tribunal’s ruling, they will be supportive of it.

Alf Grumble’s approval of the ruling suggests he will be lobbying for that. Although I suspect that won’t be necessary because unlike the previous administration this one appreciates that a sheep isn’t worth any more because the land it grazes has a good view.

The ODT and Southland Times have reports on the case.


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