Rural round-up

April 7, 2017

NZ could miss out on gene-editing revolution – Richard MacManus:

Is the gene editing revolution passing New Zealand by?

New Zealand is a proudly GE-free country, meaning it is illegal to produce or sell genetically engineered foods here. There are some exclusions for processed foods that have imported GE ingredients, like soy or corn flour, but they must be approved by a local authority and clearly labelled. However, there is zero tolerance for GE in fresh foods – including foods bound for export. Considering that New Zealand’s “clean green” brand is a key part of our export trade, it makes sense that GE foods are treated with caution here. But are we being too conservative, given that a new technology called CRISPR is opening up opportunities for both our economy and our environment.

CRISPR (pronounced crisper) has made gene editing nearly as simple as editing a website. Tools like CRISPR-Cas9 allow scientists to edit parts of a genome by removing, adding or altering sections of its DNA sequence. It is truly a brave new world. . . 

Objective carcase measurement – essential or just nice to have Allan Barber:

Objective carcase management (OCM) appears to be the holy grail for Meat and Livestock Australia judging by its plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to fund the installation of Dual Energy X-ray 3D carcase grading technology (DEXA) in up to 90 slaughterhouses, intended to roll out this year. The loan would be repaid from industry levies, although there are no firm details yet about how the costs would be shared.

When MLA announced Project 150 in November 2016, the Beef and Sheep Councils of Australia were both in favour, but the executive officer of the Australian Beef Association came out saying it shouldn’t be the producers but the processors who paid for it. More recently both the processor funded Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and levy funded Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) have come out against rushing into such an expensive project without proper analysis and a robust business case. . .

Taking aim at Fish & Game over conflict of interests – Andrew McGiven:

I saw that Fish & Game held a national “take a kid out fishing day” a few weeks ago. While I applaud anyone who can encourage our children to ditch the video games and get outside to experience the great outdoors, it did raise several questions.

Why, for example, are we trying so hard to improve the health of our fresh waterways when the likes of Fish & Game are paid to protect invasive, predatory species such as trout and salmon, which actively decimate our native species such as koura (New Zealand freshwater cray)?

When sediment is such a major component of our water degradation, why is it that koi carp can pillage our river systems, collapsing river banks and stirring up soil, and yet this problem has been largely ignored by the organisation. 

It is discouraging when farmers work hard at establishing wetlands and native groves only to have them poisoned in a few short years by wildfowl E. coli. . . 

Rural women make a huge contribution to agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Fiona Gower is a true “Rural Woman” having lived and worked in the rural sector most of her life.

As the new president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ), she has set herself several goals to accomplish during her term.

Her greatest aspiration is for RWNZ to be seen as the organisation of choice within the wider sector for all women, communities, organisations and decision makers. . . 

Heightened readiness for Stink Bug threat:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says activities to prevent the establishment of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) have ramped up over summer and helped raise public awareness of what is a serious biosecurity threat.

“This is a major agricultural pest worldwide, as well as a household nuisance. While it is found here from time to time, if it became established it would have significant economic and social impacts,” says Mr Guy.

“BMSB has been rapidly spreading across the world and there have been increasingly more finds detected at the New Zealand border. Three confirmed post border finds occurred during February, all reported by members of the public. . . 

Brazil intent on expanding beef markets in Asia, as Australian sector urged to differentiate itself – Lydia Burton:

A senior Rabobank economist says the Australian beef industry should continue to focus on differentiating its products as Brazil expands its markets in Asia.

Brazil took over from Australia as the largest exporter of beef to China in 2016, offering a cheaper protein, and has strong interest in South Korea and re-opening trade with Japan.

Japan suspended Brazilian beef imports in 2012 after it was found an animal had died of mad cow disease.

Indonesia has also been expressing interest for some years in opening up a live cattle trade with Brazil, with biosecurity protocols currently being discussed. . . 

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Rural round-up

April 5, 2017

Kiwi lamb supply helps UK farmers – Colin Ley:

A significant drop in New Zealand lamb exports to the United Kingdom this year has been noted by Scottish farm economist Stuart Ashworth as a key factor in a recent improvement in lamb values on the British market.  

“NZ data suggests that their lamb kill in the run-up to the key Easter period has been lower than last year and exports to the UK and Europe have been running significantly below last year’s levels,” Ashworth said during a press briefing in Edinburgh that focused on how Scotland’s livestock farmers might fare over the next two years of Brexit negotiations.  

While he believed it would be “pretty much business as usual” for the UK’s overseas meat trade in general, he agreed British sheep prices, since the turn of the year, had been at their lowest level for four years. . . 

Impressive line-up for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year 2017:

Three of New Zealand’s emerging dairy industry leaders are finalists in the sixth annual Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

They are Claire Nicholson from Bay of Plenty, Jessie Chan-Dorman from Canterbury and Jolene Germann from Southland.

Claire Nicholson (Ngāti Ruanui) is a Director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara (PKW) and Chief Executive of Sirona Animal Health, Jessie Chan-Dorman is a Fonterra Shareholders Councillor and a Director of the Ashburton Trading Society, and Jolene Germann is an Agribusiness Consultants dairy consultant and Chair of Rural Business Network Southland.

One of them will receive the coveted Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year title at an awards evening during the annual Dairy Women’s Network conference, this year held in Queenstown, 11-12 May. . . .

Poaching reward no April Fools’ joke – Grant Shimmin:

A Timaru businessman who last week offered a substantial reward in connection with the alleged poaching of rare white tahr has stressed it was not an April Fool’s gag.

Neville Cunningham announced on Friday he was putting up a reward of $25,000 for information leading to a successful prosecution for the poaching of animals on a leased conservation block in the Mackenzie Basin. He asked people with information to contact him directly.

He and business partner Ray Harrington are trying to obtain resource consent for a conservation attraction, where visitors will be able to photograph New Zealand game animals, on the 100-hectare Twizel block. . . 

Pieces of Clydesdale history go under auction hammer in Pirongia – Cailtin Morrby:

It will be an emotional moment for Nick and Jill van der Sande when the auction hammer falls on their original DB Clydesdale wagon.

A selection of heavy and light horse wagons, carriages and gigs will be up for auction at Pirongia Clydesdales at 10.30am on Saturday.

The van der Sande family has owned the Waikato attraction since 1999 and are ready to take a step back. . . 

Dozens of Wisconsin farmers lose their milk contracts – Anna-Lisa Laca:

Imagine walking to the mailbox on a Monday only to find a note from your processor that in one month they will no longer be picking up your milk. That’s what happened to several Grasslands producers in Southern Wisconsin this week.

Grasslands handles the majority of cream sold in Wisconsin. The generic, unsigned letter producers received cited issues selling product to Canada as the reason for their decision to cut ties with some of their producer suppliers, but some producers aren’t buying it. For the approximately 75 producers reportedly being dropped, distance from the milk plant appears to be a factor in determining to kill their contracts.

At press time, Grasslands had not responded to a request for comments. . . 

Primary sector exports continue to grow:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new figures forecasting that primary sector exports will reach $37.5 billion for the year ending June 2017, up $0.8 billion from the previous December forecast.

“This is the first time the Ministry for Primary Industries has produced a quarterly update of its Situation Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) which will give us a more accurate picture during the year,” says Mr Guy.

“Next year overall primary sector exports are expected to grow by 9.7% to $41 billion. It shows we have a strong and diversified primary sector with sectors like forestry and horticulture continuing to do well. It’s also pleasing to see dairy on the rebound after a tough few seasons. . . 

A Man for All Seasons:

Allan Fong, the Pukekohoe market gardener and face of The Fresh Grower, who’s introduced New Zealanders to an exciting menu of versatile and flavourful vegetables, has been recognised as an outstanding leader and innovator winning a prestigious Australasian agribusiness award for all-round excellence.

“Our seasonal selections reinvent familiar veges but with a fresh take and grown to fit the current generation’s values, lifestyles and tastes for natural, convenient, whole foods that are safe and delicious to eat,” says Allan, who runs The Fresh Grower with brother Colin. “We take what are niche or exotic products like baby cos and fancy lettuces or slender broccoli stems and make them readily accessible, mainstream lines that add variety and versatility to every day meals.” . . 

 

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If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying until you’re really screwed.

Dairy farm with options placed on the market for sale:

An easy-to-manage dairy farm near the Waikato township of Pipiroa has been placed on the market for sale.

The 59 hectare flat and fertile property is made up of 14 individual land titles of varying sizes. The farm milks 144 fresian and fresian-cross cows – producing 52,101 kilograms of milk solids last season with a contract to Open Country Dairy – and is located at 1460 State highway 25, Pipiroa beside the banks of the Piako River.

The property’s 47 paddocks are separated with a mix of one and two-wire electric fencing – with a loop race ensuring ease of both stock and farm machinery movement across the land. The farm water source is from a quality council-supplied water line. Bought-in feed has been up to 150 bales of silage over the past two summers to supplement the chicory grown on-site. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand resolutions pass:

Farmers have supported the three resolutions made at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting on 30 March 2017.

They related to changes to the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Constitution, changing the directors’ fees pool and appointing an auditor.

The official results from Electionz.com who conducted the vote on behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand are:- . . 

Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees submit joint proposal to enhance broadband and mobile services for rural communities:

Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees today announced a joint proposal to improve rural broadband and mobile infrastructure. The three telecommunications providers have made a submission to the Government for the delivery of high speed broadband and mobile infrastructure using the Rural Broadband Initiative Extension (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spot Fund.

If successful, the bid would see Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the project, including a capital contribution of $75m to establish the infrastructure. The investment package also includes the contribution of spectrum, ongoing operating expenditure and other resources required to deliver and run this significant infrastructure deployment programme. This more than matches the Government’s own contribution of $150m, via the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL). . . 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2017

New research will help address rural communities’ health and wellbeing:

New research on farm-related suicide and the factors behind it is a progressive step and will enable a more concerted focus on reducing rates, says Federated Farmers.

The study by Dr Annette Beautrais was conducted on behalf of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and funded by AgResearch.

As inaugural members of RHANZ, Federated Farmers has advocated for many years for an increased awareness on addressing issues related to rural health and wellbeing.

In her findings, Dr Beautrais reveals that general farm workers and males are the most vulnerable and more likely to take their own life. . . 

Zespri calls in police over cross-border kiwifruit transfer – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – Zespri International has called in police to investigate the transfer of Gold3 and Gold9 kiwifruit varieties into China that may have been done illegally.

Last year the Mount Maunganui-based international fruit marketer started investigating reports that a kiwifruit licence had been sold to a third party, breaching the terms limiting transfers within a country, and it passed on that evidence to police in December which is investigating, it said in a statement.

“The purported sale of a licence from one jurisdiction to another by a third party is a breach of Zespri’s licences and plant variety rights, and potentially could give rise to allegations of fraud or misleading conduct,” Zespri said. “In this case, Zespri suspects . . 

Primary sector women funded to step up:

Government investment in developing and supporting women to create sustainable prosperity in the primary sector and regional communities has been welcomed by the organisation that is growing the leadership, governance and business skills of women in the sector.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has received $289,000 from the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund to extend its work to three groups of women who have been identified as part of the key to sustainable primary industry growth.

The two-year project will see AWDT research, design and deliver pilot programmes for younger women who are entering primary sector careers, Māori women in the regions, and women who have had careers outside of primary industries whose expertise was of value. . . 

More RMA stress and cost for farmers in Horizons region:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed by a legal decision which suggests the Horizons Regional Council has not implemented the One Plan correctly and environmental gains are not being made.

The court decision announced today is now being carefully reviewed by Feds, so we can begin to understand the on-the-ground implications for our member farmers.

Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei provincial president James Stewart says we have to remember the enormous amount of good work and investment undertaken by farmers across the region to comply with the ‘One Plan’ regulations and that the plan’s objectives are being achieved.

“The council has worked very hard to implement a One Plan that’s workable and that does not put farmers out of business and improves water quality as needed. . . 

Research provides new guidance for West Coast farmers on pests:

AgResearch scientists are set to present new guidance to West Coast farmers on dealing with some of the region’s worst pests after years of in-depth research alongside locals.

Over the past three years farmers in the West Coast Pest Management Group have taken part in a project funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund to improve the understanding of pests that threaten pastures.

“This research is about providing farmers on the South Island’s West Coast with the tools to tackle these pests, before the long-term damage is done to their pastures and bottom lines,” says AgResearch Senior Scientist Sarah Mansfield. . . 

New Zealand farming couple grow record-breaking wheat crop:

Huge crop confirmed by Guinness World Records

• Bayer and Yara play key role

• Increasing yields key focus

Ashburton farmers Eric and Maxine Watson have entered the renowned book of Guinness World Records after producing the world’s highest yielding crop of wheat.

The couple produced a staggering 16.791 tonnes per hectare, beating the previous record of 16.519 tonnes held for two years by a UK farmer.

On average, irrigated wheat yields in New Zealand are around 12 tonnes per hectare, demonstrating how remarkable the new record is. . . 

Successful meeting with Lithuanian Agricultural Minister:

New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas met on Monday in Vilnius, Lithuania to discuss a range of agricultural issues in each country. 

“Clearly, there are many similarities between our countries, including the role of dairy in our respective economies,” says Mr Guy. 

“New Zealand is an example for Lithuania,” says Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture B. Markauskas

“We are quite similar – in both countries the dairy industry and agriculture in general play a huge role. I was in New Zealand previously and I was impressed by the great atmosphere and the relationship between the government and farmers, as well as the country’s agricultural potential. . . 

  Fonterra makes a splash at China’s food ingredients show:

Fonterra’s NZMP dairy ingredients business has made a splash at China’s largest food ingredients trade show in Shanghai, launching three dairy ingredients and bringing New Zealand’s dairy story to life for customers through a 360° immersive virtual reality experience.

One of the world’s foremost food ingredients events, the three-day Food Ingredients China 2017 event attracted more than 100,000 customers from all over the world.

Fonterra announced the launch of NZMP Gold Whole Milk Powder for UHT, NZMP Tasty Cheese Powder and NZMP Butter Concentrate products at the event. . .

 

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If you think it’s expensive to hire a quality farmers, just wait until you hire a crappy one.


Rural round-up

March 31, 2017

Success follows life turnaround – Sally Brooker:

A young man who went into dairy farming after ”falling in with the wrong crowd” at school is earning accolades.

Jack Raharuhi (24) has been named the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year.

He was presented with $4680 in prizes at the recent New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards regional awards dinner in Shantytown.

Mr Raharuhi, who manages a 482ha Landcorp property in Westport with 1150 cows, began milking through a Gateway programme at Buller High School nine years ago.

”Dad pulled me out of school and into full-time employment as a farm assistant for Landcorp. I’ve been with them ever since.”

He has worked his way up the industry, now overseeing a second-in-charge programme that involves training and mentoring others in the Landcorp cluster. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists – models of Māori innovation:

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have congratulated this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition sheep and beef farming finalists, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.

Announced today at a Parliamentary event, the three finalists are Omapere Rangihamama Trust (Kaikohe), RA & JG King Partnership, Puketawa Station (Eketahuna) and Pukepoto Farm Trust (Ongarue).

“These beef and sheep farming stations are shining examples of the commitment Māori farmers have to sustainably developing their land for future generations. I’m proud to acknowledge and celebrate the key role Māori play in New Zealand’s primary industries,” says Mr Guy.

“The asset base of the Māori economy is worth over $42 billion, most of which is strongly focussed on the primary industries. Māori collectively own 40% of forestry land, 38% of fishing quota, and 30% of lamb production, to name just a few examples. . . 

From Seychelles to farming at Toko Mouth – Sally Rae:

It’s a long way from the Seychelles to Toko Mouth.

The path to farm ownership for coastal South Otago farmer Simon Davies has been an interesting one, including working in the seafood industry both in New Zealand and abroad.

Mr Davies (45) and his wife Joanna, with their two young daughters Georgina (3) and 7-month-old Juliette, farm Coombe Hay, a 750ha sheep and beef property boasting spectacular sea views.

Toko Mouth, 50km south of Dunedin and 15km southeast of Milton, is at the mouth of the Tokomairiro River and has about 70 holiday homes. . . 

New drought measurement index launched:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the launch of a new tool to monitor drought in New Zealand’s regions.

Developed by NIWA with the support of the Ministry for Primary Industries, the New Zealand Drought Index uses the best scientific information available to determine the status of drought across the country. It is a tool to acknowledge the onset, duration and intensity of drought conditions.

“Until now there hasn’t been one definitive definition of a drought,” says Mr Guy.

“Applying the latest scientific knowledge and technology like this index does, helps us to know exactly what is happening and can better inform producers, agri-businesses, councils and the Government to make the right decisions at the right time.” . . 

New Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council National Chairman:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council has elected Marton farmer, William Morrison as its next national chairman.

Morrison replaces retiring King Country farmer, Martin Coup who has been the chairman since 2012.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Councils are aligned to the organisation’s geographic electorates and they were established in 2010 as a network for guiding and advising Beef + Lamb New Zealand in identifying farmers’ extension and research and development needs. . . 

Prominent Southland station up for sale:

One of Southland’s largest farming stations is on the market for the first time in 40 years.

Strong interest is expected in the sale of Glenlapa Station, a significant property encompassing 5271 hectares of prime pastureland in Northern Southland. The expansive station has a tremendous capacity of more than 20,000 stock units, making it one of the largest and most successful farms in the region.

New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty sales associate Russell Reddell says it’s uncommon for a property of this magnitude to be up for public sale. . . 

DairyNZ research on show at Farmers’ Forums:

The latest DairyNZ science and innovation will be revealed at Farmers’ Forum events across the country in May.

A selection of science topics will feature at the regional forums, free to farmers, with DairyNZ staff summarising key research.

Session one, ‘Are you making money from milk or milk from money?’, will look at the results of DairyNZ’s farm systems research into the profitability of marginal milk (the milk produced after fixed costs are paid). In response to debate around which farming system is most profitable, DairyNZ has assessed the cost of marginal milk from data analyses and farm systems research. The findings will be presented to help farmers consider marginal milk in their decision making. . . 

Use the natural resource in your own backyard says Australian developer:

New Zealand is missing a prime opportunity to combine its sustainable timber resources with an innovative manufacturing system to build faster and more efficiently.

Daryl Patterson, Head of Operational Excellence at Lend Lease Australia, states Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is that missing link.

CLT is an engineered wood system made from several layers of dimensional lumber boards, stacked crossways and bonded together.

Speaking at the Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) and Property Council New Zealand Tall Timber Buildings seminar last week, Mr Patterson questioned why, given New Zealand’s ample timber resources, there is not greater use of CLT in our construction sector. . . 


Rural round-up

March 8, 2017

Farm recruiter backs PM’s claims around drugged up Kiwi workers –  Gerald Piddock:

A Hamilton-based farm recruitment agency is backing Prime Minister Bill English’s claims that Kiwi workers’ inability to pass drug tests are why overseas workers are needed.

Cross Country Recruitment managing director Ben De’Ath​ said that since December 4, 2016, 21 individual farm owners have contacted him seeking new staff because they have had to instantly dismiss staff due to failed drug tests for methamphetamine or cannabis.

Three-quarters of these farm owners were in Waikato and the rest were in the Central Plateau. These farmers were now short staffed purely because of illegal drugs, he said.

De’Ath said his company started to record why vacancies were arising in December because it helped make a case to Immigration New Zealand for foreign workers on behalf of farm owners. . . 

Plea to pay tribute to rural women:

Rural women are vital to resilience in rural communities and families and New Zealanders should pay tribute to their role tomorrow, which is International Women’s Day, a rural health leader says.

Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), says women are often the glue which holds families together in tough times.

“They are essentially the backbone of the NZ economy. After all, about 600,000 Kiwis live in rural areas and agriculture and tourism are the powerhouses of our economy,” Thompson says.

“Each year, more than two and a half million tourists visit rural New Zealand. In 2011-2012, $40 billion, or 19 percent of GDP, was generated directly or indirectly by the agri-food sector.

“If the spending power of rural people is considered, then the contribution of the agri-food sector is $53 billion, or one dollar in every four dollars spent in the economy. Rural women play a crucial role in making all this happen. . . .

New youth opportunities in agriculture sector:

TeenAg, an agriculture sector youth programme run by New Zealand Young Farmers, will receive $146,000 of support under a new partnership announced today by Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.

“This is about supporting more young people to develop skills such as leadership and learn about potential career opportunities in the primary sector, which is such a vital part of our economy,” says Ms Kaye.

“TeenAg aims to promote a positive picture of agriculture and raise awareness of agricultural careers from an early age.

“The funding announced today will support around 500 more young people to participate in the programme.” . . 

Hunter Downs irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a funding grant of $1.37 million for Hunter Downs Water from Crown Irrigation Investments announced today.

“This development grant funding will be used by Hunter Downs Water to complete the next stage of its programme as it works toward becoming construction ready,” says Mr Guy.

Hunter Downs Scheme is a farmer and community led scheme with the capacity to irrigate 21,000ha in an area located between Waimate and Timaru in South Canterbury. …

A Celebration of Women in the Seafood Industry:

Nelson will launch a rolling programme of events around the globe tomorrow, International Women‘s Day, to celebrate the role women play in the seafood industry.

Seafood women in Iceland, the United States, Chile, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are taking part.

Donna Wells of Nelson’s Finestkind is organising a breakfast, the first event of rolling celebrations around the globe.

Around 60 women in the seafood industry are attending the breakfast to be opened by the Mayor, Rachel Reese. . . 

Lamb flap prices hit record high as NZ slaughter rates decline – Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – A shortage of lamb meat in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter, is pushing up prices, with lamb flaps hitting a record high and prices for many other cuts lifting in export markets.

The price for lamb flaps advanced to US$5.60 per kilogram in February, from US$5.50/kg in January and US$3.45/kg in February last year, according to AgriHQ’s monthly sheep & beef report. That’s ahead of the previous record set in January 2014.

New Zealand slaughter rates for lamb so far this season are tracking 13 percent below the same period a year earlier at 7.17 million lambs, according to NZ Meat Board data. . . 

Over $15m in Developments for Winter 2017 at Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Developments for the 2017 winter season at Cardrona have totalled over $15million, with continued investment in the resort’s facilities and infrastructure. The investment includes a new high speed cabin lift, Base facility development, and improvements in terrain, carparking and snowmaking.

The biggest development for Winter 2017 is the new McDougall’s Express Chondola. The Doppelmayr “combined” lift of eight-person gondola cabins and six-seater chairs will replace the old McDougall’s Quad Chair. It is the first cabin-style lift on any ski area in New Zealand. . . 


90% swimmable

February 24, 2017

The Government has announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040, alongside releasing new policy, regulations, information maps and funding to help achieve the new goal.

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“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug,” Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The plan is backed up by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.

“This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”

The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km. The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.

This is a very important point – nature is sometimes to blame for lower quality.

The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.

“The maps I am releasing today provide the most comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes ever published. These will help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as help people make decisions about where they can safely swim. The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.

“The challenge of improving water quality varies significantly across New Zealand. This plan requires improvements in water quality across all regions and all categories. The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018. Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less.

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients by:

  • replacing “wadeable” with “swimmable”
  • adding macroinvertebrate monitoring for ecological health
  • strengthening references to “Te Mana o te Wai”
  • clarifying the consideration of economic opportunities
  • requiring instream limits for nitrogen and phosphorus
  • clarifying inclusion of coastal lakes and lagoons
  • clarifying the policy on exceptions
  • strengthening the requirement for monitoring and improving quality.

“The new regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million,” Dr Smith says.

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“We are today opening bids for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.

“This is the third phase of the Government’s work programme to improve New Zealand freshwater management and builds on the NPS introduced in 2011 and the National Objectives Framework in 2014. I commend and acknowledge the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, who have worked tirelessly in assisting with these policy developments.”

The detail of the NPS and Stock Exclusion Regulations are open for consultation until 28 April 2017.

Deterioration in most waterways has taken place over many years and can’t be reversed quickly.

Lower standards of water quality have a number of causes, one of which is intensification of farming and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says farmers are up for the freshwater challenge the new standards pose:

New freshwater reforms will result in 56,000 km more fences protecting New Zealand waterways from stock – enough to go round the world one and a half times, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The new rules on stock exclusion are part of the Government’s plans announced today setting a target for 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040.

“Farmers have made huge progress in recent years to improve their environmental practices and this will be another important step forward. Dairy farmers have already voluntarily fenced off over 24,000km of waterways,” says Mr Guy.

“We know that stock standing in or regularly crossing waterways can do significant damage. While dairy farmers have voluntarily fenced off around 96% of their waterways, we want to extend this to other types of farms as well.

“The proposed national regulation would ensure that dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and deer are kept out of waterways.

“We need to ensure the changes are practical for farmers, so the exclusions would be implemented in a staged process starting this year through to 2030, depending on the stock type and land slope.

“There are long term benefits for the primary industries and wider economy from these reforms. Overseas markets and consumers increasingly demand a strong environmental performance over and above regulatory requirements. In this context, protecting New Zealand’s natural advantage has never been more important.

“No single organisation or group is solely responsible for improving our water quality. Meeting the target will take a collective effort, but the primary industries have a key contribution to make.

“In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries continues to work with the primary sectors to invest in good ideas which promote environmental best practice. One example is the Farm Systems Change program, which identifies high preforming farms and uses farmers’ networks to spread their knowledge.

“Another is a major programme under the Primary Growth Partnership, called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Under this programme effluent management systems have been improved, and every region now has a riparian planting guideline developed in conjunction with regional councils.

“As a Government we are committed to growing the primary industries at the same time as improving water quality. Water storage schemes like Central Plains Water and the Waimea Community Dam help in this by taking pressure off groundwater sources and maintaining summer river flows, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.

“We also know that science will play a major role in improving our freshwater. The ‘Our Land and Water’ National Science Challenge is investing $96.9 million over 10 years into this, hosted by AgResearch and involving six other Crown research institutes.

IrrigationNZ says the outcomes are achievable:

“Achievable outcomes within a reasonable timeframe” is how IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis, described today’s release of the government’s ‘Clean Water’ document. He hoped however that the target of 90% of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040 didn’t let urban waterways ‘off the hook’.

“Farmers have received the lion’s share of blame for New Zealand’s water quality degradation and despite evidence backing up the contribution cities and industries make to poor water quality, they have largely escaped the finger-pointing. I’m hoping the Government will call every New Zealander to account for water quality, recognising we all contribute to the problem, therefore we must all work together to enact the solution” said Curtis.

Poor water quality is not only a rural problem nor is it solely due to bad farming practices.

IrrigationNZ was pleased the Government had recognised the important economic contribution farmers make to our communities, stating that Regional Councils must consider the economic wellbeing of their community when making decisions about water allocation.

“Farmers and growers make significant investments in irrigation infrastructure and on-farm efficiencies, and the return on that investment is spent in towns and cities throughout New Zealand. We all benefit from irrigation and it’s important councils don’t impose restrictions that negatively impact the viability of our primary sector.” . . 

DairyNZ welcomed the new rules:

“The new stock exclusion requirements for dairy cattle is a strong endorsement of the hard work dairy farmers have done on their farms to protect waterways,” says DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle.

“The on-farm fencing requirements in the new rules have already been met by 97.1 percent of dairy farmers around the country, and the target by May, a month ahead of the new requirements, is to be 100 percent, with all waterways running through dairy farms will be fenced off and all stock crossings bridged,” he says.

“This means that right now very few dairy cattle have any access to waterways, and in just two months’ time no dairy cattle – that’s zero dairy cattle – should have access to waterways on our farms.”

Dr Mackle says fencing – currently 27,109 kms – is always set back a healthy distance from waterways, varying from farm to farm depending on the soil type and contour of the land.

“This ensures the optimum levels of bacteria, nutrients and sediment are filtered. Farmers also keep cows off sensitive areas in the vicinity of the fenced waterways, for example, in wet weather.”

“There’s still a way to go in some areas, and dairy farmers are well aware of that. We acknowledge that improving New Zealand waterways is a long journey, as today’s announcement recognises. The good news is dairy farmers around the country are leading the way in protecting freshwater on their farms.

“Our dairy farmers can be immensely proud of the work they are undertaking for the environment on their farms, and many are also doing work to improve their surrounding communities – and all New Zealanders, whether they are living in towns and cities, or in rural communities, can also be proud of the efforts of our dairy farmers,” says Dr Mackle.

As part of their commitment to the environment, dairy farmers are also planting vegetation along waterways, and using native plants such as manuka, cabbage trees and flaxes, as well as native grasses, that have superior ability to filter and slow run-off, he says.

“Added to this, all dairy farms now have dedicated effluent management systems with effluent ponds, just like towns around the country. Areas such as the dairy shed and yards drain directly into these systems where the effluent is stored and later used by farmers to fertilise their land.

“It’s also encouraging to see the rates of dairy effluent related prosecutions and abatement notices continuing to decline dramatically, and an improvement in overall effluent non-compliance, which is the lowest it has been in recent years.”

Over the past three years farmers have invested over $1 billion dollars in environmental protection measures, he says.

“About 70 percent of this expenditure has been on effluent systems that feature the latest technology. Farmers are also well along the way in preparing environmental management plans for their farms, working closely with environmental advisors and their local councils.”

Dr Mackle says while a number of forward-thinking farmers began environmental initiatives a decade and more ago, the actions of the past three years are recorded in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.

“The accord is an independently audited report. It can be seen as the commitment of every single one of New Zealand’s 14,000 dairy farmers to play their part in helping to ensure that their fellow Kiwis can enjoy cleaner freshwater.”

Full results of year three of the water accord are currently being audited and will be announced in April.

For year two water accord results see www.dairynz/wateraccord

Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman also welcomed  the clean water plans:

“Water is, of course, the lifeblood of horticulture and our commercial growers have been innovating for some time with environmentally sustainable ways of growing healthy, fresh food for all New Zealanders,” Mr Chapman says.

“Growers implement a number of techniques to protect waterways near their properties. These including riparian planting and management adjacent to waterways and silt traps to collect run-off caused by rain and stop anything entering nearby waterways.

“Riparian planting has many benefits, particularly to water quality, but it is also very expensive and growers bear the cost of that.

“It is great to see the Government opening applications for the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund, and we will certainly be looking at projects that could be part of that to create more and better ways to protect waterways near growing land.

“But it is also important to note that water quality in New Zealand is not solely the domain of people in the primary industries or rural land owners. The bulk of New Zealanders live in cities and they both use a lot of water and create a lot of waste water. So instead of always pointing the finger at those outside the cities, urban dwellers might want to consider what their contribution to clean water in New Zealand might be to help our growers continue to feed them healthy food in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has welcomed the announcement:

“The announcement is generally consistent with some of the Land and Water Forum’s recommendations,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“For the first time, swimmability is the objective in freshwater management.

“We will have transparency regarding which lakes and rivers are in fact swimmable and which are not. This will vary across seasons and places. Regional councils will need to improve degraded systems with a target of achieving 90% swimmability by 2040.

“The standard for what constitutes swimmable rivers and lakes is comparable with the EU Water Framework Directive. Whether the target date is acceptable will become clear during the consultation phase to follow.

“Other recommendations by the Land and Water Forum have been accepted by Government. These include providing greater rigour on nitrate levels and on macroinvertebrates in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. However, some of the detail on these issues appears to raise questions that need further exploration.

“One important issue that hasn’t been adequately addressed is turbidity and sediment – water clarity. The Forum is doing more work on this later in the year. . . 

Forest and Bird isn’t impressed:

Forest & Bird has condemned the government’s new water quality standards, warning New Zealanders that they lock in current levels of water pollution and allow for a 5-fold increase in the chance of getting sick from swimming in a river.

“Despite an explicit assurance from Minister Smith that the new water standards would provide for human and ecosystem health, he has failed to deliver on either of these things,” says Forest & Bird CEO Kevin Hague.

Contrary to the overwhelming public concern for the state of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes, the government’s announcement today does not require any improvement to our water quality, except for the very worst rivers.

“If your local river is polluted now, the government does not require that its water quality is improved to a standard that is safe for people and the ecosystem that it should support. Instead, all they propose is that the current situation is maintained,” says Mr Hague. . . 

What would he and his organisation do when nature causes the problems?.

The Otago Regional Council had concerns about only three waterways in January, two alerts were due to high rainfall and the poor water quality in the Kakanui River was caused by birds?

Clean water is one of the measures of sustainability, maintaining clean waterways and improving those with poor quality is a long-term and expensive process but the goal of 90% swimmable is achievable.


Rural round-up

February 22, 2017

New report shows importance of dairy industry:

A new report launched tonight confirms the dairy industry makes a major contribution to New Zealand’s economy, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“According to the report dairy contributes $7.8 billion to New Zealand’s GDP, and is our largest good exporter. This is a timely reminder of just how important the dairy industry is,” says Mr Guy.

The report ‘Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand’ was commissioned from NZIER by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and released today.

“While the dairy sector has had a tough few seasons, in the year to March 2016 they still earned over $13 billion in exports for New Zealand.

“According to the report the dairy sector employs over 40,000 workers and employment in this sector has grown more than twice as fast as total employment, at an average of 3.7% per year since 2000. . . .

The full report is here.

Report finds New Zealand loses billions to trade barriers each year:

Trade barriers cost New Zealand billions of dollars annually, according to an NZIER report for the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ).

The report, titled Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand, highlights the strong contribution the dairy sector has continued to make to New Zealand’s national and regional economic development, even while it has been at the bottom of a price cycle, and despite global dairy markets remaining highly distorted.

“Trade barriers are a significant cost to New Zealand. Tariffs alone are suppressing the value of our dairy products by around 1.3 billion dollars annually,” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. . . 

Red meat story about more than brand image – Allan Barber:

There has been a great deal of progress towards the development of the New Zealand Red Meat Story, but most of it has been happening under the radar. That is all about to change. B+LNZ is holding a workshop on 1st and 2nd March at which a wide group of industry participants – farmers, government, processors and exporters – will gather to start formulating the detail of the story, assisted by a strong line-up of guest speakers with international experience in brand development.

Over the last 18 months B+LNZ has focused on implementing its market development action plan arising from extensive consultation with levy payers. The most obvious change was to close marketing offices in mature markets like the UK, Japan and Korea where exporters already have much deeper relationships with customers and feedback from farmers and exporters suggested funds could be better spent in other ways and in developing markets with greater potential. . . 

Rabobank beefs up its animal proteins specialisation:

Leading agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has appointed Blake Holgate to head up its research and analysis of New Zealand’s animal proteins sector.

Based in Dunedin, Mr Holgate joins the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness division, a team of 90 analysts from around the globe focused on undertaking research into the food and agribusiness sector, including comprehensive reports on sector and commodity outlooks, latest market trends and future industry developments. . . 

Erin Atkinson crowned BOP Young Grower of the Year:

· First time in competition history that women have won both first and second place

· Top young talent have opportunity to demonstrate their horticulture skills

· Erin now to represent Bay of Plenty Young Growers in national competition

Erin Atkinson, 29, Technical Advisor for Apata Group Limited in Te Puke has been crowned Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2017 at last night’s special gala dinner in Tauranga.

The day-long competition last Saturday, the 11th of February at Te Puke Showgrounds, followed by the gala dinner, saw six competitors battle it out in a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful export-focused business. . . 

Wool firms more:

New Zealand Wool Services International Ltd’s Marketing Executive Malcolm Ching, reports that of the original 15500 bales intended for sale from both centres, 2500 bales were withdrawn by growers prior to the auction with the balance of 13000 bales seeing 76.7 percent sold and most types firm to dearer.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was unchanged with the market reflecting more demand as client buying activity increases.

Mr Ching advises that some growers are holding back wool or refusing to accept below production cost returns, making volumes on offer further reduced, restricting supply in some categories.

Fine crossbred fleece and shears were firm to 5 percent dearer. . . 

Farming future on the agenda – Cally Dupe:

One of Australia’s biggest banks is hitting the road to host a one day seminar at Moora.

Farmers from across the Wheatbelt and further afield will converge at the town’s art centre on February 23 to discuss the future of farming in WA.

Coordinated by Bankwest, 2040 Farming – The Next Generation, includes guest speakers from Bankwest, AgAsset, Farmanco Management Consultants, Moora Citrus, Sandgroper Seed Potato and more.

The free event is targeted at younger farmers aged 20 to 40 but anyone is welcome. . . 

More on that here.


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