How much to change whole Ministry?

December 12, 2017

The Taxpayers’ Union says government name calling doesn’t help vulnerable kids.

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Government for wasting $418,000 of taxpayers’ money, meant to help the country’s most vulnerable kids, on a ‘rebranding’ of the Ministry of Vulnerable Children to Oranga Tamariki.

“This is a shameful waste of money and precisely the sort of Wellington nonsense which gets up the nose of taxpayers,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“No one resents paying taxes to help those most in need, but wasting nearly half a million dollars of money earmarked for helping vulnerable kids on marketing experts, logo designers, and sign writers, is disgraceful.”

Changing the name might widen the scope of the Ministry. If it does it will take the focus off those who need help.

If it doesn’t then it’s a name change for change’s sake and an expensive one at that.

If it costs $480,000 to change the name, It will be eye-wateringly more to change not just the name of the Ministry for Primary Industries but create, set up and staff the separate ministries which will replace it.

It’s little wonder the Minister, Damien O’Connor, is refusing to disclose just how much it will cost.

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Rural round-up

December 8, 2017

Dairy not all about milking it:

A Lincoln University pilot study is backing the importance of environmental and social responsibility, as well as the bottom line, to dairy farmers.

Seeing themselves as “guardians of their land” and adopting environmentally friendly ways of farming is a key component of the farmers’ personal convictions.

The study, What really drives dairy production systems: economic rationale or social and environmental responsibility? surveyed owners, share milkers and managers, to format a questionnaire for much larger sample of interviews with farmers, due to take place in January. . .

Day a chance to experience life on a farm – Sally Rae:

When Duncan Wells left secondary school, he was encouraged not to go farming.

It was during the farming downturn in the 1980s and his farming father suggested he get some other skills.

So he became an electrician and worked for a few years before giving in to his passion for the dairy sector.

Now Mr Wells and his wife Anne-Marie are sharing that passion with others – opening the gates of their Outram dairy business, Huntly Road Dairies, to allow the public to experience a taste of farm life.

On Sunday, Fonterra has organised an ”open gates” initiative, with 40 selected farms around the country opening for the day. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supporting sustainable hill country scientific programme:

A scientific programme aimed at improving the sustainability of hill country for sheep and beef farming is to be launched with the support of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The project, which is backed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Partnership Scheme, will look at ways to invigorate hill country by developing sustainable production systems.

A strategy and action plan to increase the sustainability of hill country farming (economic, environmental, social and cultural) will be one of the key pr iorities for the initiative.  . . 

NZ Beef prices expected to hold firm in the face of expanding global production:

New Zealand beef prices moved marginally higher in quarter three and are expected to hold relatively firm in the coming months despite expanding global beef production generating intense competition in global markets, according to Rabobank’s latest Beef Quarterly report.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said stronger-than-anticipated demand for New Zealand beef in key export markets, combined with restricted domestic supplies and a weakening New Zealand dollar, resulted in a marginal increase in New Zealand slaughter prices in quarter three. . . 

Focus on New Zealand brands needed in face of trade uncertainty:

Uncertainty over Brexit means New Zealand needs to urgently focus on developing brands and differentiating our agricultural exports.

Senior lecturer in Agribusiness Management Dr Nic Lees, said New Zealand produces some of the best fruit, wine, meat, seafood and dairy products in the world but around 70 per cent reaches the consumer with no identification that is sourced from here.

“Sudden changes such as Brexit remind us that relying on undifferentiated commodity exports leaves us vulnerable to sudden changes in government policies,” Dr Lees said.

“When consumers demand a branded product, it is difficult for governments to shut it out of the market.” . .

Fonterra imposes grading system on milk fat with ‘excessive’ PKE, Fed Farmers confirms – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has followed through on its work into the impact of palm kernel expeller on the composition of fat in the milk it collects with a grading system that will start in September 2018.

The new system follows consultation with farmers and is the latest step in Fonterra’s efforts to reinforce its Trusted Goodness logo, which is designed to appeal to consumers who want sustainable and ethical practices in food production and is underpinned by New Zealand’s “natural, grass-fed advantage”. But Fonterra’s research has shown that PKE also has implications for dairy product manufacturing and sales in global markets of products such as butter. . . 

New PKE grading system warrants contractual clause change for farmers:

Federated Farmers is reminding dairy farmers and sharemilkers to update existing business agreements as they face joint liability to meet upcoming changes for using palm kernel (PKE) as feed.

Dairy co-operative Fonterra is introducing a grading system next September to measure milk fat composition, which changes with excessive use of PKE impacting on manufacturing capability and seasonal customer preferences.

Fonterra farmers who don’t comply with new recommended levels for cows’ PKE intake will be penalised. . . 

Synlait opens new Wetmix kitchen:

Synlait Milk  has today officially opened its new Wetmix kitchen, which will enable it to simultaneously run both large-scale infant formula spray dryers.

This will double the amount of infant formula powder which can be produced at the Dunsandel site, from 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 80,000 MT per year.

“We were at the point where our current Wetmix facility was at capacity, and our consumer demand was continuing to grow. Building this new Wetmix kitchen will relieve that pressure,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New arrangement simplifies meat exports to Egypt:

A new arrangement signed recently will simplify New Zealand’s meat product exports to Egypt, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

Under the new arrangement, Egyptian authorities will no longer have to visit each individual meat premises that wishes to export to Egypt.

The arrangement was signed by MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne and Egyptian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Dr Mona Mehrez in Wellington. . . 


Rural round-up

December 3, 2017

Winner learned it all along the way – Nicole Sharp:

Debra Cruikshank is a woman on a mission, writes Nicole Sharp.

Winning the Supreme award at the Enterprising Rural Women Awards in Invercargill recently, Ms Cruikshank was overwhelmed.

The Tannacrieff Wines and DC Wines owner, as she puts it, sort of fell into winemaking.

From day one on her journey with her own business, she knew she had to create a niche market and she has done just that.

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve learned along the way.”

It is only a small business, so Ms Cruikshank puts her hand to everything and at busy times of the year turns into a bit of a superwoman.

Trying her hand with port, her most recent venture, she has had to teach herself a lot, she said. . .

Growers rapt about early fruit, weather – Tom Kitchin:

It’s looking like a bumper fruit season for Central Otago, and happy fruit producers may be in line to break some records.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and 45 South orchard CEO Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said everyone was talking about the record warm weather.

“We’re 10 to 14 days ahead of where we’d normally be. The only thing that would affect that right now would be substantial rain.

“It’s looking like a record crop for cherries.”

So far, his cherry orchard in Cromwell had plenty of people knocking on the door for work, he said, and that was fine, because he might need more workers than ever. . . 

Record lambing percentage for NZ sheep farmers:

A record lambing percentage underpins a lift in lamb numbers, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Lamb Crop 2017 report.

Research by B+LNZ’s Economic Service estimates the number of lambs tailed in spring 2017 was 23.7 million head, up 1.9 per cent (436,000 head) on the previous spring.

The average ewe lambing percentage for 2017 was 127.2, up 4.4 percentage points on last year and up 6.4 percentage points on the 10-year average (2008-09 to 2017-18) of 120.8 per cent.

Overall, this means 127 lambs were born per hundred ewes compared with an average of 121 over the last 10 years. For spring 2017, a one percentage point change in the New Zealand ewe lambing percentage is equivalent to 178,000 lambs. . . 

Healthy velvet sales sought – Annette Scott:

The deer industry is embarking on a joint venture health project with one of South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

Deer Industry New Zealand had agreed to support Yuhan Corporation in its plan to develop and market a product with proven health benefits based on NZ deer velvet.

In a world first, Yuhan’s objective was to successfully develop, register and market a health food product containing scientifically validated components of NZ deer velvet.

Yuhan chief executive Jung Hee Lee and DINZ chief executive Dan Coup signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this month. . . 

New Zealand needs to pull ahead of world on agri-innovation – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand must pull ahead of the rest of the world in agri-food innovation in order to retain a competitive advantage, speakers told the Ministry for Primary Industry’s food and fibre innovation conference on Thursday.

“We need to be in a better position to respond to challenges like increased competition, potentially disruptive technologies such as synthetic alternatives and environmental and climatic impacts,” said Martyn Dunne, MPI’s director general. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 19, 2017

Further 1000 Mycoplasma Bovis cattle to be culled in South Canterbury – Ryan Dunlop:

A further 1000 cattle will be culled in South Canterbury due to the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis.

According to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), that will bring the total cull number up to 5000.

Meanwhile several people have applied to the ministry for compensation for loss of livestock and productivity. 

On Wednesday, MPI confirmed another farm in South Canterbury was infected with the disease, bringing the total infected properties to eight. . . 

Safe’s distortion of harmless farming practice – Jon Morgan:

 Take a look at this video supplied by the animal rights group, Safe. It shows a cow running behind a car towing a trailer holding three calves.

Safe sent the video to TVNZ and it has been picked up by other news organisations and run by them without any attempt to find out what is actually happening.

Safe alleges that this is a “distressed” cow “chasing” after her calves, showing a strong bond between them.

However, the overwhelming opinion of dairy farmers who have seen the video is that nothing of the kind is happening. . . 

Wool sale best in a long time – Alan Williams:

Prices gained ground across the board at Thursday’s special live wool auction at the Christchurch A&P Show.

“Best sale in a long time,” PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager and auctioneer Dave Burridge said.

He estimated nearly $6 million of wool was sold at the sale, the second auction staged at the show.

First-up at the sale was the New Zealand Merino co offering and auctioneer Mike Hargadon later noted a little more enthusiasm on the buyer bench than at the usual market venue, in what was a very firm market for its fine wools. . . 

Shearing: Tony Coster wins national title at Canterbury Show:

Former New Zealand representative shearer and multiple national all-breeds champion Tony Coster reckoned he only shore in yesterday’s New Zealand Corriedale Championship to get out of doing a job.

But trading the job he says he would have otherwise been doing produced unexpected results, for the now 50-year-old Rakaia veteran when he beat World champion John Kirkpatrick by over a minute in a six-man final over 12 sheep each and won the Canterbury Show feature for a third time.

“I’m on the committee, or at least I help run a few things,” he said. “If I hadn’t shorn I would have had a few jobs to do.” . . 

ACCC set to deliver “myth busting” analysis of $1/L milk selling – Colin Bettles:

MICK Keogh has delivered a comprehensive update of the competition watch-dog’s legal enforcement and oversight activities in different troublesome segments of agricultural supply chains.

Mr Keogh – a long term policy analyst and respected commentator at the Australian Farm Institute – is one of seven Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Commissioners and is spearheading its Agricultural Enforcement and Engagement Unit.

He spoke at an Agribusiness Australia forum in Canberra last week providing a frank assessment of current competition issues which carry economic and political consequences, for the farm sector,

That list includes an ongoing inquiry into the dairy supply chain that’s set to deliver a “myth busting” report in terms of dissolving common misconceptions about food retailers selling $1 per litre milk. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 11, 2017

Young sheep and beef farmers lift their performance with small tweaks – Brittany Pickett:

For Matt and Joe McRae, getting their ewes to perform at a consistently high level is their number one goal.

The young Southland brothers – who farm their 575 hectare effective rolling hill country farm Eilean Donan in partnership – are aiming to have their ewes lambing more than 150 per cent every year and, more importantly, grow the lambs to maximise every kilogram produced per hectare.

“The lambing percentage is only one part of it, it’s the product out the gate that pays the bills,” Matt says. . . 

Let’s get the facts, not fiction, on M.bovis – Geoff Gwyn:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wishes to set the record straight regarding the article titled ‘Imported semen fingered for M.bovis outbreak’ in Rural News October 24.

Read the article here

In the article, Chris Morley, DairyNZ biosecurity manager stated that, in his opinion, he would bet on semen as the most likely source of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. Of course, Mr Morley is entitled to his opinion, but the fact of that matter is that MPI does not know how or when Mycoplasma bovis entered NZ, although significant efforts are being made to find out.

A full investigation is looking at six possible means of entry: live animals, imported semen, embryos, contaminated equipment, biological material (such as vaccines) and feed. While this is underway, we are not going to speculate on the origin of the disease in NZ. . .

Saltwater intrusion – Waimea Water:

What is saltwater intrusion

In the 2001 drought, saltwater intrusion occurred in the lower reaches of the Waimea River and was threatening to migrate further inland. In March Tasman District Council opened talks to consider options to protect the dry riverbed. Because the river had no flows, no river water was flushing the saltwater out and it was instead accumulating on the estuary. The Council discussed building a bund across the river and drilling monitoring bores to better monitor how the saltwater contamination was migrating inland, including to the urban supply bores. Ultimately, three urban supply wells were shut down over this period and two were decommissioned at the end of the drought.

Saltwater intrusion is a threat to coastal communities. Once saltwater has entered an underground freshwater system (aquifer) and contaminates it, it can cost much more to treat it for consumption or simply render the supply unusable. For people along the Waimea Plains who rely on bores for their water supply, saltwater intrusion is a real issue. . . 

Why blaming farmers doesn’t hold water – Vaughan Jones:

Water is being discussed across the country, but without solutions. Farmers are blamed, never townies, but look at this photo of polluted water entering the Waikato River just upstream of Fairfield Bridge, in September 2016. If a farmer did the same, they would be fined up to $50,000 and closed down until fixed. I’ve been told by a person that what looked like toilet paper was in some of it.

Environment Waikato told me in 1995 that Hamilton needed four sediment ponds. There are still none while thousands have been built on farms at high cost. This is another example showing that rules for farmers are stricter than for townies.

Waikato Regional Council has forced some farmers to build sediment ponds, but they are negatives because of high costs, and because fresh effluent is of more value and causes less polluting when spread fresh, not months later during which time much has been lost into the air, polluting it, and reduced its fertilising value. . . 

Bay of Islands P&I Show runs in the family:

Sam and Christine Ludbrook will be at the Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show at Waimate North this weekend, as they have been every year for decades. And they won’t be the only Ludbrooks there by any means.

The show was first staged, as an agricultural demonstration, at the Waimate North mission in 1842. It’s still going strong 175 years later, making it the oldest show of its kind in the country.

And Ludbrooks have been there from the start.

Sam’s grandfather was there in the early days, exhibiting stock, and his brother was on the committee. And while no one can be absolutely sure, it is almost certain that his great-grandfather, Samuel Blomfield Ludbrook, was there in 1842. . . 

Which NZ university has the best employment rates?

As we get older what we talk about with friends changes. This is because of the challenges faced and experiences shared. So when Megan Hands’ friends from her hometown started talking about the choices they had to make when they finished studying, she found she couldn’t join in.

After finishing school, Hands left home in the Manawatu and moved south because she wanted to study both environmental management and agriculture, and Lincoln University offered exactly what she was looking for. Fast forward to graduation and she found some of her contemporaries were having conversations completely outside what she had experienced.

Hands is now running her own farming sustainability company as an environmental consultant.

The experience of Hands and others in her year group are typical for Lincoln University graduates. In Ministry of Education statistics released recently, Lincoln University Bachelor’s Degree graduate employment rates are consistently the highest among New Zealand universities. A survey of graduates from the Lincoln class of 2016 found that 93 percent of those employed were in career-related positions. . . 

#My60acres: soybean harvest – Uptown farms:

#My60Acres is harvested again!  This was the second year Matt let me play a leading role in the management of a sixty acre field on our home farm, and my first soybean crop. 
 
I didn’t get to start the morning with him because my work schedule has been a little hectic, so I didn’t join until late afternoon.  But as soon as I got there, he slid over and let me take the wheel.
 
It might sound odd that he couldn’t wait a day or two for my schedule to be better, but soybean harvest is very time sensitive.  We have to wait long enough the plants are dry, but not too long. . . 


Biosecurity alerts

November 9, 2017

Plague skinks found near Picton:

Thanks to a sharp-eyed resident, a plague skink (also known as rainbow skink) was captured in Waikawa near Picton in early October. A second skink was subsequently caught at the same location during an investigation by Marlborough District Council, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation.

Marlborough District Council Biosecurity Coordinator Jono Underwood says plague skinks are native to Australia but have established and spread rapidly throughout the warmer parts of the North Island. They breed prolifically and are thought to out-compete native lizards for food and territory. . . 

AgPest warns of  another pest:

Readiness and responsiveness are key :

And happy retirement Yogi,  thanks for helping to keep out pests:

We’ve recently said farewell to long serving detector dog Yogi from active service at the border.
Yogi is a born and bred MPI detector dog.
He’s has had a diverse career within his role as a biosecurity detector dog. He worked all over the country during his almost 8 year career with MPI including Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland. . . 


Rural round-up

October 27, 2017

Farmer restores whitebait for future generations:

Over the past few years Fonterra dairy farmer Stu Muir has been restoring the once stagnant stream on the boundary of his Waikato farm to create 20 whitebait spawning ponds with grasses, flaxes, kahikatia, kowhai, mahoe and other wetland trees.

“When I saw water quality and whitebait catches dropping, I knew I had to do something. My family has owned this farm for five generations, I went whitebaiting with my grandfather here and I wanted to do the same with my own children,” says Stu.

With numbers of whitebait now increasing, Stu is working to restore other local waterways. He and his extended family have been working on five dune lake restoration projects including Parkinsons Lake which is now fenced to exclude stock and 8,500 native trees have been planted. . . 

Boosting brainpower, flavour & texture in food exports of the future:

AgResearch scientists are leading new research that could revolutionise New Zealand foods – with new ways of boosting flavour and texture, and products designed to make our brains perform better.

Supported by industry and research partners, AgResearch is looking to the future for premium food exports with programmes that have recently been awarded more than $21 million by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund.

“The future for New Zealand food exports to the world is premium quality and adding as much value as possible to our products,” says AgResearch Science Group Leader Dr Jolon Dyer. . . 

New actions to increase Hawke’s Bay primary sector workforce:

New opportunities aimed at improving access to employment in the primary sector will be considered for incorporation into Matariki, Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been leading work in Hawke’s Bay aimed at increasing the uptake of employment in primary industries, one of the region’s largest sectors. The work is part of the Regional Growth Programme. . . 

Dairy industry free-range milk spat – Natalie Kotsios:

FREE-ranging use of the “free-range” label on dairy product will confuse consumers and potentially harm the industry, say farmers.

South Australia Dairyfarmers’ Association said industry should consider developing a free-range standard after Camperdown Dairy recently launched its “free-range milk”.

“I read it and went, ‘What’s that?’ and I’m a dairy farmer,” SADA president John Hunt said.

“We’ve got to be careful not to discredit our industry. We work very hard to keep legitimate  if there isn’t an industry standard they shouldn’t be able to say it. . . 

French winegrowers face poorest harvest since 1945:

France’s winegrowers are preparing for their poorest harvest in decades after frosty weather in April devastated vineyards, with many fearing they will be unable to meet market demand.

Winegrowers in France have finished harvesting their grapes to produce wine for 2017. Yet many fear they will be unable to satisfy market demand after their vineyards perished during the April frosts. Jérôme Despey, head of a governmental wine advisory board at FranceAgriMer, said this year’s harvest will be “the smallest since 1945”.

“At harvests everywhere, in places where we thought there would be a little less, there’s a lot less,” Despey said at a news conference in August. . . 

 


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