Rural round-up

07/02/2021

Dismay at conversion to forestry – Sally Rae:

Among the steps the newly  formed Climate Change Commission laid out in its recently issued draft advice to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets was more forestry. It recommended slashing livestock numbers by about 15% by 2030 and planting 380,000ha of new exotic forestry by 2035. In North Otago, the proposed conversion of a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer property to carbon forestry is creating waves as concerns are raised about environmental impacts and fears that forestry conversions are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as other land use changes.  Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

“I just think it’s an absolute injustice, it’s a crime to have that land put into trees.”

North Otago farmer Murray Simpson has farmed Balmoral, near Tokarahi, for 45 years. The property neighbours Hazeldean, a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer farm in the headwaters of the Kakanui River catchment which appears destined to be planted out in pine trees.

The property is in the throes of being sold to New Zealand Carbon Farming — the largest provider of carbon credits in Australasia. Not mincing his words, Mr Simpson fears the development will be “an absolute shambles”. . . .

Exotic plantations to have a ‘crucial role’ :

The Forest Owners Association says the Climate Change Commission has endorsed the “crucial role” exotic forestry will carry out in meeting New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emission targets in 2030 and 2050.

In a recent statement, president Phil Taylor said the 380,000ha of new exotic plantations the commission anticipates will need to be planted between now and 2035 will be the “support act” for the commission’s targets of massive reductions of the overall carbon dioxide emissions from industry and transport.

“This decarbonisation has to be the thrust of meeting New Zealand’s climate change mitigation obligations. Anything else is delaying solving the problem. Pines are great at buying time, but they don’t cut gross emissions themselves,” Mr Taylor said. . .

Kiwi research on infant milk powder colour goes global :

A Wintec science student Rehana Ponnal has had research published in the International Dairy Journal late last year, a big accomplishment for an undergraduate student.

Done while Rehana was on a work placement at Fonterra, the research tested the effectiveness of using a colorimeter to measure the colour of baby milk powder. Rehana worked on the research with a number of other scientists, and the journal entry, published in September last year, gives positive results of their findings.

As a result of the research, Fonterra is procuring a colorimeter to continue their testing.

“Colour is measured because it’s an important aspect of a product. It’s the first thing you perceive. If milk powder was brown for instance, you wouldn’t buy it,” she says. . . 

Red meat exports reached record highs in 2020 :

The New Zealand red meat sector exported $9.2 billion worth of products during 2020, an increase of 1% on the previous year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports during the year reached historically high levels – and were 7% above 2018 exports ($8.6 billion) and 21% above 2017 ($7.6 billion).

“The results demonstrate that New Zealand’s red meat exports have remained stable despite the challenges of the global pandemic,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. “That is great news for the New Zealand economy and for farmers.

We have a diverse market portfolio and last year exported products to 111 countries around the world. . . 

Wairarapa peas harvested for first time in more than four years:

Wairarapa peas are being harvested for the first time in over four years.

ban was placed on growing peas in the region in 2016, after the discovery of pea weevil.

Production was allowed to resume last year after the Ministry for Primary Industries announced the insect pest had been successfully eradicated. . .

Silver Fern Farms pulling out of contract with Hawke’s Bay’s Graeme Lowe Tannery, union says – Thomas Airey:

The union for workers at Graeme Lowe Tannery says staff have been told a large contract with Silver Fern Farms will not be renewed.

The Hastings tannery is one of the biggest hide processing plants in the country and is owned by Lowe Corporation.

Lowe Corp has interests in other agri-business companies, property and farming around NZ.

The tannery’s exact number of employees is unknown but in 2020 Graeme Lowe Tannery Limited applied for 80 employees to be paid under the initial Covid-19 wage subsidy, then 90 employees in the wage subsidy extension. . . 


Farmers want Molesworth to stay as farm

18/04/2018

Farmers want the country’s biggest farm Molesworth Station to stay as a farm.

. . .The Department of Conservation started an online survey on the future of Molesworth Station, between Marlborough and Canterbury, in January to gauge public appetite for a radical rethink of the farm.

The survey follows up a 2013 management plan for the 180,000-hectare Molesworth, about the size of Stewart Island, which looked to move the station away from its traditional farming focus to include more recreation and conservation activities.

But Molesworth neighbour Steve Satterthwaite, of Muller Station, said getting rid of farming could create “major ramifications” for the environment.

“As far as Molesworth is concerned, I believe it should continue to be farmed and there’s plenty of reasons as to why,” he said.

Without farming, there could be pest problems and weed issues, as well as a huge fire risk, Satterthwaite said.

Weeds, pests and fires don’t observe farm boundaries.

Any weed and pest management and fire prevention measures farmers do can be nullified if their neighbours aren’t doing their best too.

It was concerning the public could weigh in on the future of the Molesworth and potentially “sway” what happened with the station, he said.

“It really concerns me that unaffected people that have no knowledge of the utilisation of Molesworth and the risk associated with not farming it can potentially have the input to sway the politicians or the decision-makers because of their numerical numbers,” he said.

“We are in the east of dry land zones, and if the fuel was allowed to be completely uncontrolled and public have unlimited access, the risk of a major fire in that environment would be one that would need to be considered seriously.” . . 

Middlehurst Station farmer Susan Macdonald said she would like to see farming at the station continue, with the possibility of providing a little more public access.

She said it was “important” for farming at the station to continue for pest and weed reasons.

“I would like to see it continue to be farmed in harmony with the environment and in harmony with people.

“There’s a lot of land there and I think it’s got a huge value in terms of agriculture.” . . 

J Bush & Sons Honey co-owner Murray Bush said the “status quo” needed to continue into the future.

“I think there is a good balance between public access and farming but not having farming would actually make the property go backwards, I believe, and then it wouldn’t have that same appeal to the public,” he said.

Bush said allowing public access to the station year-round could create a safety risk.

“If you open the road 52 weeks of the year and let people just do what they want … if it was never closed and it was open, there’s no communication up there so unless there’s millions and millions and millions of dollars going to be spent on public access safety … it’s not an environment to be taken lightly,” he said.

“Unless you’re going to employ people on the ground 52 weeks of the year just to look after the tourists, it’s a real issue and I think people underestimate that environment.” . . .

The neighbours’ concerns about changing the balance between farming and access are valid.

The road through Molesworth is closed in winter and can be closed in summer if the fire risk rises.

That is necessary for public safety and to protect the environment.

Molesworth is farmed by Landcorp which makes a very small return on capital but income from the farm offsets the costs of weed and pest control, and grazing reduces the fire danger.

The station generates an income, looks after the environment and allows some public access.

If the area farmed is reduced the income will drop, even if DoC lets commercial concessions for access,  and costs will increase.

Molesworth is the country’s biggest farm and it should continue to be farmed.


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