Rural round-up

June 19, 2018

In wake of M. Bovis, look after each other

To those who in some way are in the depths of New Zealand’s farming world, or part of the sector in some way, and to those who might not read this because they are not farmers — I’m thinking of us all, writes Mischa Clouston.

This Mycoplasma bovis is colossal. It will reach far and affect many of us in some way. In a huge, indescribable way.

I’m scared for my cattle owner friends; it must be such a heavy weight to carry just now, knowing you could lose so much.I’m scared for fellow managers or milkers; if there are no cows, do we even have a job in the dairy and beef industries? .

I’m worried for the health sector, helping support the strain and worry. But let’s not forget the agribusiness owners whose business is on farms or with product or services for cattle — the small business owners relying on the spending from farmers who may, in time, have little left in their own pots. . .

Otago water rights: ‘It’s time for this to be sorted out’ :

Water is the new gold in Otago and there is a mountain of work to bring water allocation in the area in line with the rest of the country before time runs out.

The Otago Regional Council is working to have the region’s antiquated water take regime brought in line with the Resource Management Act by the October 2021 deadline.

Water rights in Central Otago and parts of the surrounding districts were first allowed as mining rights to aid in the extraction of gold in the mid 19th century. . .

Down to earth and sharing the view glamping style – Sally Rae:

Patrick and Amber Tyrrell are genuinely living the dream.

It sounds a little like something out of a film script:  South African farmer’s son meets Waitaki Valley farmer’s daughter in a co-operative agricultural community in the Israeli desert.

Eventually, they move to the Waitaki Valley, where they build an off-the-grid home with spectacular views, and  focus on getting down to earth — literally. In February last year, Mr and Mrs Tyrrell launched Valley Views Glamping  (glamorous camping) on their property in the foothills below Mount Domett.

“It feels like we’ve found our calling in life,” Mrs Tyrrell said . .

Government needs to rethink Landcorp:

The Government needs to shrink their ownership of farms through Landcorp and use them to give young Kiwi farmers the opportunity to lease and ultimately own some of these farms, National Party spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“The Government owns massive tracts of productive land through Landcorp, 385,503 hectares – or around six times the size of Lake Tāupo, even though there is little public good from Crown ownership.

“Landcorp not only provides a poor financial return to taxpayers but the Governments’ ownership of these farms is keeping Kiwi farmers out of the market. . . 

Northland farmers gain insights on Queensland beef sector:

Northland sheep and beef farmers Kevin and Annette Boyd were among a group of 20
farmers who attended a week-long educational beef tour in Queensland last month
organised by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

The tour featured two days at the world-renowned Beef Australia event in Rockhampton
as well as visits to a range of beef operations throughout Queensland including
Brisbane-based meat retailer Farmer in the City, Grassdale feedlot in Miles, the Roma
saleyards and Emerald-based Clissold Downs (beef trading) and SwarmFarm (agritechnology).

The tour was organised by Rabobank to provide the bank’s local and international beef
clients with an opportunity to network with other farmers and to learn more about beef
operations in Queensland. . . 

Lack of decision support tools in forestry:

Recent comments by officials and “experts” on planting one billion trees, the plight of hill country forestry and woody debris flows, have not touched on the total lack of decision support tools so that farmers and other local forest investors can make the right decisions. Without engaging a costly consultant, farmers are expected to take a risk on a 25-year land commitment in an information vacuum.

Unlike the plethora of levy and government funded systems and tools available to farmers on agricultural decisions, there is next to nothing on forestry. The forest grower levy is mostly consumed by overseas owned forestry corporates looking to protect and enhance their assets, to maintain a social license to operate in a foreign land. As a result the forest levy doesn’t get spent expanding a local forest industry. . . 

Bayer North Canterbury Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 announced:

Congratulations to Zoe Marychurch from Bell Hill who won the Bayer South Island Regional Young Viticulturist of the Year competition on Friday 15th June.

This is a new regional competition added to the Young Vit competition this year and is open to contestants from Nelson, Canterbury and Waitaki. The winner goes through to represent their own region so Marychurch will represent North Canterbury in the National Final in August.

Four contestants battled it out at Greystone in Waipara – three from North Canterbury and one from Nelson. “The calibre of the contestants was high and it was great to see their enthusiasm and passion for viticulture evident throughout the day” says Nicky Grandorge, National Co-ordinator. They were tested on a wide range of skills including budgeting, trellising, pruning and pests and diseases. . . 



Rural round-up

May 19, 2018

Blame Fish & Game for why I didn’t buy a fishing licence – Jamie McFadden:

Last year I didn’t buy a fishing licence – the first time in over 30 years of fishing. When asked by two Fish & Game rangers for my fishing licence I said I had an exemption. I gave them a written document which outlined a number of reasons why I was exempted.

The first reason was “inappropriate use of licence holder funds “. The exemption noted that Fish & Game have used licence holder monies to run a nationwide media campaign targeting one sector of our society. I have no issue with raising issues about water quality but Fish & Games ‘dirty dairy’ campaign deliberately and unfairly branding all farmers as environmental vandals has done a huge amount of damage to community wellbeing. Farmers are not the only ones impacting water quality and targeting one sector in this manner is inappropriate conduct for a statutory organisation. . .

Town encroaches on 150-year farmers – Heather Chalmers:

 For 150 years the Morrish name and arable farming has been a winning combination, writes Heather Chalmers.

Having farmed the same land near Christchurch for more than 150 years, the Morrish family say encroachment from the nearby town of Rolleston will most likely spell the end of their ties with the original family farm.

Farming at Broadfield, between Lincoln and Rolleston, fourth generation brothers David and John not only farm the same land, but continue the same type of farming – mixed sheep and cropping – as their ancestors, even if the type of crops and farming methods have changed over the years.

They also believe in long-term farming relationships, having supplied the nearby Heinz-Wattie’s factory with processed peas since the Hornby factory on the outskirts of Christchurch was opened in 1970. . .

Pittance for MPI, biosecurity halved:

For a Government that has been running around telling anyone who will listen that Biosecurity is underfunded, it has allocated an extraordinarily small sum to strengthen the system, National’s spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced a paltry increase of just $9.3 million for Biosecurity which is half of what National invested in Budget17 at $18.4 million.

“This is a 50 percent reduction and makes a mockery of the Government’s recent rhetoric. . . .

Grass-fed beef the most vegan friendly in the supermarket – Drew French:

Probably the most vegan item you can buy in the supermarket is a pound of grass-fed beef.

I was thinking about that heretical idea as I drove through my neighboring countryside, scanning empty cornfields for signs of life and wondering at the hubris of mankind. When did we decide that we can own all the lands of the Earth and use every square inch of it for our own needs? About 10,000 years ago, actually, when we invented the idea of agriculture.

Sadly, in the practice of agriculture it is impossible to not cause endless suffering to many living creatures. One could argue that the most suffering of all is caused by annual agriculture, the cultivation of vegetables, including grains, beans, and rice, that only take one year to grow from seed to food. . .

Farmers told to change mind-set when UK leaves EU :

George Eustice, the Defra Minister of State for Agriculture described his vision for post-Brexit agricultural policy at a recent event in Cornwall.

The event attracted more than 70 people to Healey’s Cyder Farm, near Truro on Friday 11 May.

Mr Eustice stated that he saw new policy as “rewarding and incentivising farmers for what they do, and not subsidising them for income lost.”

He told the audience: “The end state we seek is support, not based on the amount of land that they own, but to reward them for helping the environment, water quality and to changes in husbandry to deliver for the environment and research and development into more productive working practices.” . .

Bee-ing grateful to our pollinators :

It’s a bee!” someone screams as they jump up from their picnic blanket, knocking over their apple juice and flailing their arms, trying to get away from this flying creature. Does this scene sound familiar?

Many people are afraid of bees. And why not? They look like aliens. They have stingers that hurt more than you would expect and some people are very allergic, even deathly allergic, to them. But contrary to our fears, bees are not aggressive insects and do not go after humans unprovoked. When they come near you, it is only because you have something they consider yummy. And if you knew all that they do for you, you would be happy to share your food or drink with them . . 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2018

Irrigators should spread good news – Pam Jones:

Responsible irrigators need to spread the word about good work being done in the primary sector, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan says.

Mr Cadogan, who spoke at the opening of the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Alexandra yesterday, said the primary and irrigation sectors were “under pressure” from the public to act responsibly, but did not court publicity and the public therefore sometimes did not know about their positive actions.

Irrigators should not be afraid to “tell the good news”, Mr Cadogan said.

He said it was important for the public to realise there was no direct line between irrigation and degradation of land and water quality, and there was sometimes a disconnect between town and country. . . 

Smarter data push for irrigation – Tom Kitchin:

Data can make irrigation more efficient, Animation Research Ltd owner Ian Taylor told the third and final day of a national body conference yesterday.

Mr Taylor made the point at the 2018 Irrigation New Zealand Conference and Expo in Alexandra yesterday.

“Water is one of the most valuable resources. How can [farmers] manage it more efficiently and how are they held accountable for ways to manage it? Technology has the tools that will allow us to do that,” he said. . . 

Unlisted celebrates first $1 bln issue as Zespri resumes trading after 2018 Gold3 tender – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s shares rose to a record when they resumed trading, after being halted for the 2018 allocation of Gold3 kiwifruit licences, pushing the kiwifruit exporter’s market capitalisation to $1.1 billion and making it the first $1 billion company on the Unlisted platform.

Some 16,860 Zespri shares traded today, of which 2,440 changes hands at a record $8.35. The shares first traded at $1.75 after Zespri listed on the Unlisted Securities Exchange in February 2016. . . 

Arden-Peters raid on regionans ramps up:

The Government’s raid on regional New Zealand is ramping up, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor telling farmers they’ll be taxed thousands for carbon emissions, National’s Nathan Guy and Todd Muller say.

“Mr O’Connor has reportedly told East Coast farmers they’ll be taxed around $5000 to offset their carbon emissions,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“He’s pulling numbers out of the air before the interim Climate Change Committee even begins its work. . . 

Let’s protect our valuable soils, Horticulture New Zealand:

The need to protect New Zealand’s best soils for growing healthy fresh fruit and vegetables is clear in the Our land 2018 report released today, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“This report highlights the expansion in urban areas (a 10 percent increase between 1996 and 2012) and the accompanying loss of some of our most versatile land.

“We have been talking to Government about this issue in Pukekohe, near Auckland, as well as other prime growing areas for fruit and vegetables. Some of this soil is unique, particularly the volcanic soils around Pukekohe where vegetables can be grown all year in a frost free environment. This area feeds a lot of New Zealand. . . 

Te Rapa celebrates 50 years:

For over half a century Te Rapa has been a place of work, a producer of world class dairy, a supportive community and, for some, it has even been home.  

Te Rapa’s official opening on April 20, 1968, was a milestone which represented the confidence the New Zealand Co-Operative Dairy Company (now Fonterra) had in the productive Waikato, it’s dairy farming community and its role in the national economy.

“We had a real sense of community living in that village. There was a swimming pool, tennis courts, a rugby field and always plenty to do when you weren’t working. We had inter-factory rugby and netball competitions in the off season.”  Brian Whittington remembers when the site was being built and moving into the small village on site where 35 key staff members were housed. . . 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2018

Water schemes left high and dry – Annette Scott:

The canning of Crown funding for water schemes is a “kick in the guts” for rural communities, especially when six regions have been declared in drought this year, National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy says.

“This Government has now raided $100 million and effectively pulled the plug on any lifeline for rural communities,” Guy said.

“These projects, such as Hunter Downs and Hurunui, are about rural communities providing for much wider regional development and what needs to be remembered is that this Crown funding is not a grant. It’s a loan and it’s all paid back. . . 

Jeff Grant becomes Kiwi meat’s Brexit rep:

OSPRI and AgResearch chairman Jeff Grant has been appointed at the meat industry’s Brexit representative to be based in London.

On behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association the former National MP will provide the red meat sector’s response to Brexit.

Grant will work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the United Kingdom and safeguard NZ’s exports to the key market. . . 

Ploughing with horses luck of the draw – Nicole Sharp:

Straight and steady is the aim of the game, but it is no easy task with Anna and Nugget, who have minds of their own.

The two Clydesdales are part of Sean Leslie and Casey Rae’s horse ploughing team, from Middlemarch, which will be competing at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury this weekend.

They are one of six horse teams competing in the event and they will attempt to plough the straightest, neatest and tidiest plot, but a lot of it was luck of the draw, Mr Leslie said.

“It does depend on soil conditions and being able to tackle it and master it.” . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . . 

NZX targets ‘natural advantage’ in primary industries with new index, dairy derivatives expansion – Paul McBeth;

(BusinessDesk) – NZX wants to capture New Zealand’s “natural advantage” in the primary sector with a new index tracking listed industry players and build on the early success of its dairy derivatives market, says chief executive Mark Peterson.

The Wellington-based company is in the process of refocusing on its core market business to revive investor interest in the capital markets. Among those initiatives is a drive to capture New Zealand’s comparative advantage in agriculture and horticulture, and Peterson told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Christchurch a new index will be launched in the second quarter including stocks such as a2 Milk Co, Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, Comvita, New Zealand King Salmon, Scales Corp, Sanford, and Seeka. . . 

Working Lands: A Missouri farmer saves prairie and grassland birds – Joel Vance:

Tom Smith’s anthem could be “Don’t Fence Me In,” except that he has a fencing company. His customers can be bizarre; one wanted a 10-foot fence to protect his garden from starving mobs fleeing Kansas City and St. Louis, which, he was convinced, would burn to the ground within two years.

But most are more ordinary landowners to whom Smith, a 63-year-old cattleman, preaches the value of native grass. Smith raises about 90 grass-fed feeder calves on 627 leased acres of Hi Lonesome Prairie, a state-owned property near his Cole Camp, Missouri, home. “When I found a neighbor was planning to plow a patch of big bluestem,” Smith says, “I told him, ‘Oh, man, don’t plow that. What you’ve got there is native prairie.’ . . 

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Govt acts on threat to irrigation

April 6, 2018

The government has acted on its pre-election threat to axe funding through Crown Irrigation Investments.

Three schemes already under way will keep the funding promised.

The government will help fund the construction of irrigation projects on the Canterbury plains and near Kurow and Nelson as it winds back support for large-scale water schemes.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson today said all existing Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd development contracts will be honoured, and that the three named schemes will receive funding for their construction phase given how far down the track they were.  . . 

IrrigationNZ bemoans the lost opportunity.

 . . .“In Crown Irrigation Investments Briefing to Incoming Ministers, the socio-economic gain to communities from planned future irrigation projects in New Zealand was over $1.2 billion per year. With a number of these projects being unable to access loan funding, this is a huge lost opportunity for these rural communities,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis.

“The Hurunui Water Project, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne irrigation projects all have local community support and also meet strict new environmental requirements around river swimmability and nutrient limits. In addition to this they plan to undertake additional activities to help improve existing water quality – for example the Hunter Downs scheme was planning to augment river flows into the Wainono Lagoon which will help to restore this culturally and environmentally significant ecosystem. A recent UNESCO report – Nature Based Solutions for Water, has highlighted the importance of ‘green infrastructure’ initiatives such as this for improving water quality globally,” he adds.

The Hurunui, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne projects aim to provide water security to predominantly beef, sheep and cropping farms in drought prone areas.

Over the past summer we have experienced droughts followed by unprecedented wet conditions. This is indicative of the climate change impacts we can expect to see in the future,” says Mr Curtis. “It is critical for rural east coast farming communities to have access to a reliable water supply in order to help them manage through these effects,” says Mr Curtis.

Mr Curtis says that when farming communities experience significant droughts, it’s not just farmers who suffer but also the rest of the community and local businesses.

“Local councils see the value of investment in water infrastructure and recognise this as one of the most pressing issues for their communities. We would like to see the merits of these projects considered through the Provincial Growth Fund. These projects will build more resilient rural communities and provide significant community benefits.”

Irrigation would be much better use of regional development funding than a Minister’s pet projects.

Axing the fund continues the government’s raid on the regions.

The Government’s confirmation it will axe major irrigation projects is the second major blow it’s dealt to regional New Zealand in a week, National’s Paul Goldsmith and Nathan Guy say.

“Fresh from whacking a major new fuel tax on New Zealand motorists the Government has announced it will leave regional farmers and growers at the mercy of prolonged droughts by canning support for important irrigation projects,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“This is a huge blow to regional New Zealand which is facing an increasingly uncertain future as a result of this Government’s raid on our regions.

“This summer alone saw six regions declared in drought as dry weather hammered primary producers right around New Zealand. These irrigation projects would have given them the certainty they could deal with future dry spells but that certainty’s now been ripped away.

North Otago used to be wracked by recurring droughts which caused widespread financial, environmental and social distress.

Now large areas are irrigated the district is virtually drought-proof.

Irrigation has enabled the production of more food, the provision of more jobs and provides insurance against dry weather.

Mr Goldsmith says the Government’s regional growth strategy is a mess.

“It’s Jekyll and Hyde and seems to come down to which of Labour’s two support parties wins the day.

“One day Shane Jones sticks his finger in the air and doles out taxpayer cash for pet projects, the next day four ministers announce the Government will rip $5b out of regional road funding but tax motorists more and the next it is stripping millions out of important and demonstrably effective regional irrigation projects. . .

It just shows the Government has no clear strategy.

“It says it supports regional New Zealand but it continues to put the boot in. Axing irrigation projects makes it harder for farmers and growers to do their jobs, harder for them to create jobs, harder to grow our exports and harder for New Zealanders to get ahead.”

It’s ironic that the government wants us to take climate change seriously, including the risk of more droughts, yet has striped funding from irrigation projects which could provide insurance against dry weather.


Minister shouldn’t mind business’s business

March 21, 2018

Air New Zealand chair Tony Carter has written to Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to reinforce the airline’s independence:

Mr Carter noted that the Crown’s shareholding in the publicly listed airline gives it equal rights to all other ordinary shareholders.

Mr Carter drew attention to recent examples where the Regional Economic Development Minister has publicly criticised Air New Zealand in relation to operational decisions regarding regional air services, while at the same time making reference to the Crown’s 51% shareholding.

“Any appearance of a lack of commercial independence is viewed seriously by the Air New Zealand Board and is ultimately potentially damaging to the interests of all shareholders, including the Crown.”

He was responding to criticism from Shane Jones over the ending of flights to and from Kapati:

Jones is encouraging mayoral leaders to approach the government with “solutions” and he wants to see a policy that ensures flight connectivity in the regions continues.

“The immediate solution lies with (Air NZ). They’ve taken a strategy to increase profit by downgrading provinces and you can’t tell me that they haven’t done that.”

He said former prime minister Sir John Key was on the Air NZ board and was in a position to “change the strategy and priorities”.

Air NZ should “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to supporting provincial providers, Jones said.

“My whole phone has been clogged by our fellow Kiwis ringing with tales of woe from the provinces. I mean the sad thing is whilst they’re a brand promoting New Zealand to the rest of the world, in respect of servicing…it’s not good enough.”

Jones said regional NZ got better treatment from second-hand car dealers than Air NZ. . . 

National MP Nathan Guy who represents the Otaki electorate which includes the Kapati Coast, has launched a petition urging the airline to keep the flights.

As National’s regional economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith says, that’s what local MPs do:

Obviously you’d expect the local member to be advocating vigorously for his local community. I’m just saying that every commercial industry needs to operate on commercial lines,” Goldsmith said.

“It’s up to Air NZ to deal with their arrangements. Parts of regional New Zealand should be well served by Air NZ and they have to work through whether particular regions stack up.

“I would hope, particularly in Kapiti, they’d think very carefully before they cut down in that area.”

A local MP in opposition has a lot more freedom than a Minister and Jones could do well to follow his opposition counterpart’s example in choosing his words carefully.

Majority public ownership doesn’t give the government the right to tell a company what to do.

Ministers must be very careful not to mind business’s business.

I have sympathy for Kapati people who are losing flights but Air NZ’s departure could open the door to a smaller airline which could provide a similar service.


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