Rural round-up

June 12, 2019

Dairy law changes spur dissent – Sally Rae:

Changes to dairy industry legislation will bring some improvements to the sector but also represent “a missed opportunity”, both Fonterra and Federated Farmers say.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday announced changes to be made to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) and the Dairy Industry Restructuring Raw Milk Regulations 2012.

The changes include allowing Fonterra to refuse milk supply from new conversions and from farmers who did not comply with its supply standards. . . 

Crush protection for quad bikes very worthwhile option – Feds:

Federated Farmers is on board with WorkSafe’s decision to “strongly recommend” installation of a crush protection device (CPD) on quad bikes used for work purposes.

“We support WorkSafe’s policy clarification.  For some time Federated Farmers has been saying CPDs, or roll over protection as it used to be called, can be a very useful injury prevention option in many – but not all – farm settings,” Feds President Katie Milne says.

“There is still some debate about CPDs, including from quad bike manufacturers who say they are unsafe, and those who say the device itself can cause injury in some circumstances.  But like WorkSafe, Federated Farmers believes there is now enough evidence from credible sources to say that farmers should at least be considering Crush Protection Devices. . . 

Forest awards apprentices of the year a chip of the old block – Sally Rae:

Paige Harland was born to be in the bush.

Miss Harland (21) comes from a Southland family who have sap in their blood over three generations.

Named apprentice of the year at the recent 2019 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards, she works for Harland Brothers Logging.

The business was established by her grandfather and great-uncle, later taken over by her uncle Peter and is now run by her cousins Jesse and Corrie Harland. . . 

Deer farmers set example:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter have won the premier Elworthy Award in the deer industry’s 2019 environmental awards.

The Potters were praised by the award judges for their work in enhancing the environmental performance of their property.

They have owned the 640ha Waipapa Station for 20 years.

A bush clad gully on their Elsthorpe farm is a highly visible and attractive aspect of the Potters’ contribution. . . 

 

Decision to not front Lumsden meeting ’embarrassing’, MP says:

The Ministry of Health and Southern District Health Board decision not to meet with Southland midwives today has been described as a slap in the face.

The meeting was called to help midwives practice safely in the area after the former Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded.

It was cancelled after both organisations decided not to front up to midwives this afternoon.

National’s Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said it was embarrassing that neither were prepared to meet with midwives for the good of the rural communities. . . 

Meet the midwives at Fieldays:

For this first time this year, midwives will have a stand at Fieldays at Mystery Creek in Hamilton.

Midwives play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of rural communities throughout New Zealand and the thousands of people who flock to the country’s premier agricultural show, will have an opportunity find out more about their work.

Out of New Zealand’s total population of 4.8 million, approximately 576,000* people live in rural areas. Around 55,000 women give birth annually in New Zealand; nearly a third of whom live in rural areas. . . 


It’s Fieldays’ week

June 12, 2019

The National Fieldays (and it is Fieldays not Field Days) officially open today.

We were there last year – met a lot of people we knew, got lots of invitations to eat and drink, only a few of which we accepted and got lots of invitations to buy, none of which we accepted.

We won’t be there this year but lots of other people are including:

and if you’re in need of some entertainment, there’s always the Rural Catch competition.


Rural round-up

May 29, 2019

Roadside birth: it could have been much worse – Tim Miller:

The Southland mother who gave birth to her son on the side of the road yesterday morning says the situation could have been much worse.

As a result of her experience with the newborn, Amanda McIvor will now join the campaign to improve maternity services in the South.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has also written to the Prime Minister this morning, asking her to reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Hospital.

Early yesterday, Ms McIvor knew she was in labour so called her midwife, Sarah Stokes, who advised her and partner Gordon Cowie to drive to Lumsden from their home between Mossburn and Te Anau for an assessment. . . 

Multi-million dollar cherry venture – Pam Jones:

Mt Pisa Station has been named as the location for the latest multimillion-dollar cherry venture in Central Otago.

Station manager Shane MacMillan said the family’s sheep and beef business would invest in the $15.5million project, which would result in 80ha of the station’s land being planted out in premium quality cherries for export from 2021-22.

It is one of three projects to be led by cherry investment firm Hortinvest in Central Otago in the past two years.

Another development – also worth $15.5million, and also on 80ha of land – is planned for Lindis Peaks Station and will be called the Lindis River development. . .

Drafting cows easy as :

Being environmentally friendly while farming happy and healthy cows and achieving a high in-calf rate were the three main drivers for Jonathan Power’s decision to install an autodrafter at his shed.

Power milks 530 Friesian-cross on 143 hectares at Lismore, Mid Canterbury. 

When he took over the property as the sharemilker five seasons ago the 40-aside herringbone was completely refitted with new plant. His earlier experience in an 80-bail rotary with a competitor’s drafting gate meant he already knew the value of autodrafting. . .

Fieldays: a food and fibre vision :

It’s an extraordinary time to be a farmer in New Zealand. On the one hand returns have been strong across most sectors and the demand outlook continues to look good for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, there is deep concern across the sector that farmers are not receiving credit for the hard work being done in the environmental sustainability space and, perhaps more concerning, we are being asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden of addressing climate change. Primary Sector Council chairman Lain Jager explains.

It is in this context the Primary Sector Council set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April last year has been talking to farming groups around the country about what a vision for the future might look like. . .

What caused the abandonment of New Zealand’s freezing works – John Summers:

This story was originally published by North & South and is republished with permission.

OPINION: John Summers wonders if his abiding interest in New Zealand’s abandoned freezing works is actually a long farewell to his grandfather.

One summer, we drove north-east, beyond Gisborne to the quiet bays on that coast: Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay. Towns where sand settles between the stones in the asphalt and, walking down the street, you’re as likely to be passed by a kid on a horse as by a car.

There was a campground we planned to stay at, but it was a treeless field. No toilets, no kitchen. “We’re pretty relaxed around here,” the owner said, but we weren’t, so drove on to another. After pitching the tent, we walked to the end of the bay and onto a dilapidated wharf to look out at the empty sea – no ship had docked here for decades. . . 

Passion for merino ewes drives ambition – Stephen Burns:

“I’m truly fascinated by the Merino,” was Ross Walters’ comment after his flock of Bindaree-blood May-shorn maiden ewes had been awarded the Monaro Livestock and Property Trophy for Overall winner of the 90thBerridale Maiden Merino ewe competition.

“They live and perform under various conditions, but can still make a good return,” he said.

“The Monaro is some of the toughest country in Australia, if not the world, yet the Merino ewe is very productive with high lambing percentages and heavy wool cuts.” . . .


Rural round-up

June 14, 2016

Old meets new on China’s farms – Sally Rae:

The vast region of Inner Mongolia is an important agricultural producer in China. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae pays a visit.

The sight of an elegantly dressed woman, complete with red high heels, unloading sheep at a saleyards in Inner Mongolia is a little unusual.

But it is China after all.

Expect the unexpected.

Having spotted a small truck carrying a load of sheep, a detour proves enlightening for a group of Silver Fern Farm shareholders as the truck is destined for a sheep-trading centre in Wuchuan county, surrounding the capital city of Hohhot. . . 

Fieldays 2016: Govt looks to entice young people into farming Samantha Hayes:

The annual Fieldays farming extravaganza kicks off on Wednesday in Hamilton, bringing together farmers and 1008 exhibitors.

More than 120,000 people are expected through the farm gates at Mystery Creek between Wednesday and Saturday, but with falling dairy prices over the past two seasons will it be the money-go-round of previous years?

Around $1 million was withdrawn from ATMs on site last year. The trade show contributed $396 million to New Zealand’s economy, with Waikato’s slice of the pie totalling $132 million. . . 

Results of Fonterra shareholder voting at special meeting:

Fonterra’s Board and Shareholders’ Council will consider adjustments to the recommendations on the Co-operative’s governance and representation model with a view to bringing a revised proposal back to farmer shareholders before the end of the year.

This follows today’s Special Meeting where farmer shareholders did not pass a resolution regarding changes to Fonterra’s Constitution and Shareholders’ Council By-laws. 63.74 per cent of votes cast were in favour of the changes but under Fonterra’s Constitution 75 per cent support was required for the changes to be accepted. . . 

Back to the drawing board for Fonterra governance – Keith Woodford:

The key message from this month’s failed governance restructure vote is that Fonterra’s directors and the Shareholders’ Council must go back to the drawing board. Farmers do want change, but nothing can happen without 75% support from voting members.  So where to from here?

 Calculated over the total membership, approximately 37% of the voting electorate said ‘yes’ to the proposals, 21% said ‘no’, and 42% sat on the sidelines. Those 42% on the sidelines were either confused, disenchanted, or distracted by other events.

It is hard to believe that any of Fonterra’s farmers could consider themselves to be disinterested. This is because, unlike most investors who have diversified holdings across many companies, Fonterra’s farmers are totally dependent on Fonterra.   It is a very special relationship. . . 

Govt mulling options after velvetleaf outbreak:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says he had “strong words” with his Italian counterpart after seeds imported from Italy led to a potentially costly outbreak of velvetleaf.

Labour has called for the company behind the beet seed importation to be prosecuted, but MPI is still considering its options.

The contaminated seed has been sown on more than 250 properties from Southland to Waikato, and is linked to beet seeds imported from Italy. . . 

Horticulture Supports Primary Sector Skills Funding:

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes a new pilot programme which aims to encourage tertiary education providers to work more closely with primary industry.

The new programme will introduce a competitive process to the allocation of the $35 million annually spent on tuition for study in tertiary level primary sector qualifications.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced the new approach saying it would increase the tertiary sector’s responsiveness to industry education and training needs. . . 

ViBERi – NZ’s own organic blackcurrants – Just A Farmer’s Wife:

This week I was introduced to a fantastic, locally grown, superfood that is produced organically,  just 15 minutes from my door step – Organic Blackcurrants by ViBERi, Owned by Tony and Afsaneh Howey.

The packaging has caught my eye many times on supermarket shelving, local cafes and health food stores. As I knew little about them I never took it any further but made a note in my blog diary to look into them. In a strange twist of fate, just one week later I bump into Afsaneh, at Strawberry Divine (The local ice cream shop). Had a quick chat and got handed her card and flier with an offer to stop by!

Of course I cannot resist and here I am! Afsaneh was fantastic and took me for a look around the pristine facility and popped my head through the door of the sorting and packaging room where the overwhelming smell of sweet berries and even sweeter chocolate hit me like a freight train. (If they could bottle that smell I would buy it!). . . .


Rural round-up

July 11, 2015

Toughest farming conditions fro more than 25 years – Tim Fulton:

The micro-climate at Tim and Katie Wilding’s farm at Conway Flat in Canterbury is balmy enough for a crop of garden macadamias but the couple haven’t seen dry conditions like this since the 1980s.

All the natural springs “on the hill” have dried up. That’s never happened before, lifelong resident Tim says.

 Last summer had lifted soil temperatures to about 50 degrees Celsius. It killed a block of hopeful young grass with barely a fight.

The family runs one of New Zealand’s largest beef cattle studs, Te Mania. Their place is a narrow strip between North Canterbury and Kaikoura that usually gets plenty of rain and sun. hence the macadamias. The Wildings have been in full charge of the herd since 1982. . .

Farm worked by same family for 171 years:

A Nelson farm owned by the same family for 171 years is still going strong – and that’s despite the slump in dairy prices.

The Raine family have owned Oaklands farm since 1844 and began milking cows there in the 1930s, but they reckon weather and urban growth are bigger threats to its future. They have become the oldest family in New Zealand to receive a Century Farms Award, which recognises families who have worked the same land for a century or more.

The farm is now run by Richard’s eldest son Julian Raine and his wife Cathy, who live on a neighbouring house on the property. The farm currently milks 200 cows year-round and is run as part of an integrated farm business alongside other farms and horticultural interests in the Nelson region. . .

Most dairy farmers will run at loss this season:

The national dairy industry body says at current forecast milk prices, in Fonterra’s case $5.25 a kilo, most dairy farms will run at a loss this season.

To help them survive that, DairyNZ is providing a new service that they can tap into.

Farmers can go on-line and check out detailed budgeting information from top performing farms, which have pared back their production costs to below $3.50 a kilo of milk solids.

DairyNZ’s research and development head, David McCall, says as things stand the average dairy farmer will lose $150,000 to $200,000 this season if they don’t make changes. . .

West Coast wetlands protected by Nature Heritage Fund:

A significant wetland on the West Coast home to rare birds and plants will be preserved for the public thanks to the Nature Heritage Fund, Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner says.

“The Nature Heritage Fund has purchased 56 hectares of land in Okuru, South Westland to become part of the conservation estate. This land is a great example of open pakihi, a type of wetland characterised by low soil fertility,” Ms Wagner says.

“The pakihi provides a perfect home for the declining South Island fernbird and supports several types of native plants, including sun orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts. . .

US market offers huge potential for New Zealand wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc:

New Zealand wine exports to the United States are growing faster than to our traditional international markets of Australia and the UK, and that pace is being matched by increasing recognition at the top competitions.

In the five years from 2010-2015, exports of Kiwi wines increased three times faster than the UK and Australia. For the 12 months ended April 2015, New Zealand exported 5.88 million cases of wine to the US – up three million since 2010. During that period, exports to Australia increased to 6.4 million (4.8 million five years ago), and in the UK to 6.3 million (4.7 million). . .

 

New possibilities for NZ urea production:

Tenders have been called for a possible redevelopment of Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ ammonia-urea plant at Kapuni in Taranaki.

The only plant of its kind in New Zealand, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the call follows a year-long feasibility study including discussions with international specialists in converting gas to fertiliser.

“This has given us confidence to make the next move and ask global experts to scope and cost a re-development. . .

 

Success at Fieldays means boost for Kiwi economy:

With the success of James & Wells’ clients at this year’s and previous Fieldays, there’s no denying that agriculture is still a huge part of New Zealand’s economy.

But it’s not necessarily agriculture as we used to consider it – traditionally farming, machinery and fruit growing – but innovation in agriculture that is allowing wealth to be created from ideas.

In the 27 years James & Wells have been involved with Fieldays, we’ve seen plenty of innovative agricultural ideas, and having our roots in the Waikato since the 1970s, we know a good one when we see it.  . .

 


‘Choice’ between sustainability and prosperity false dichotomy

June 12, 2015

The ‘choice’ between sustainability and prosperity is a false dichotomy, Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said in a speech at the Fieldays.

There is a lot more in the speech, entitled Making Informed Decisions about our Natural Resources, which I am reproducing in full:

Hello, it’s a pleasure to be here with so many people who help our primary sector to thrive.

We live in a remarkable country, one that’s rich in natural beauty and wealthy in natural resources. New Zealand has plentiful, fresh water; clean air; fertile soil and a climate well-suited to growing things. We have long coastlines and significant aquaculture resources; sizeable mineral and petroleum reserves; and extraordinary bio-diversity.

 The World Bank estimates that New Zealand ranks eighth out of 120 countries and second out of the 34 OECD countries in natural capital per capita, which helps explain why three-quarters of our merchandise exports are from the primary sector. While primary sector exports may have dipped over the past year, steady growth is expected in the four years ahead.

Of course a big part of those exports come from the dairy industry, and I know there’s concern about the direction dairy prices have been heading recently. The Treasury’s base forecast in last month’s Budget is for dairy prices to recover towards the long-term levels forecast by the OECD-FAO of around US$3,900 per metric ton towards the end of 2016 as supply and demand become more balanced. But like dairy farmers everywhere in New Zealand the Treasury is closely watching the fortnightly auctions and monitoring developments.

We are fortunate to make our living off the land in a land worth living in. But we cannot be complacent if we want things to stay that way. We’re not pristine, and we can do better. New Zealanders have to make well-informed choices about how we conserve, use and manage our natural resources for the greatest overall benefit to society now and into the future.

Today I want to talk about choice.

I want to challenge some false ‘choices’; expose a few choices that we are denied by the systems we have created; and highlight the fact that more informed public debate can deliver us a system with more choice in it.

For a long time discussions over natural resources have been dominated by false dichotomies.

A key example is the supposed ‘choice’ between sustainability and prosperity. It’s nonsense to believe you have to pick one or the other and can’t achieve both.

A more prosperous economy creates higher incomes and jobs for New Zealanders. Higher incomes are linked to better outcomes across a range of economic, social, and indeed environmental measures that matter for living standards. And the Treasury knows that economic performance is not just about prosperity today; it’s also about prosperity tomorrow and the future prosperity of our children. Sustainable growth depends upon good management of our environment and natural resources, and the productivity with which we use these resources. 

Sustainability and prosperity are interconnected in the Treasury’s wider view of wellbeing and are encapsulated in our Living Standards Framework.

This identifies five ‘dimensions’ which we seek to advance when developing policy: sustainability; equity; social infrastructure; risk management; and of course economic growth. When wellbeing is understood in this broader sense, the assumption that there’s immutable conflict between prosperity and sustainability just doesn’t stack up.

Norway is a good example of a country that has grown wealthy from its natural resources – in its case oil and gas – while playing a pioneering role in environmental protection and sustainable development. As the OECD notes, the Norwegians have simplified their regulatory procedures related to environmental permits and reduced the administrative burdens people face.  Enforcement is risk based and better targeted.

Closer to home, many Māori-led businesses are demonstrating how prosperity and sustainability work together by embracing the concept of kaitiakitanga. They take a very long-term view and manage their assets in a way that meets their aspirations for people, the land, rivers and the sea. Last year a group from the Treasury visited Parininihi ki Waitotara or PKW, a company based in Taranaki who run a number of businesses in the primary sector. PKW are combining successful dairy farming with sustainable practices: protecting waterways, carefully managing nutrients, and even using solar energy to power their cowsheds.   

The falseness of the ‘choice’ between prosperity and sustainability is being shown up not just by countries and companies, but by consumers too.

The premium on ethical, sustainably produced, healthy goods continues to rise. Interest in working practices and supply chains means that companies have to be able to clearly demonstrate their sustainability credentials.

It’s also clear that productivity and sustainability are converging in ways not seen before.

For example, in recent years we have seen irrigation infrastructure, originally installed to boost farming productivity, helping to alleviate further pressure on struggling river and stream ecosystems. 

Central Plains Water scheme in central Canterbury is currently under construction, and will from September this year relieve climatic and allocation pressures on groundwater and lowland streams around environmentally and culturally important Lake Ellesmere Te Waihora.

The Opuha dam was able to keep streams flowing in South Canterbury during this year’s drought, which would otherwise have stranded fish.

The small Eiffelton scheme in mid-Canterbury pumps groundwater into ecologically important streams that would also have stopped flowing last summer without it. This leads me to the second false ‘choice’ I want to shed light on – between high technology and our primary industries.

Through companies specialising in precision agriculture, such as Varigate, Agroptics and others, New Zealand’s world-leading tech is both increasing productivity and serving environmental outcomes.

By mapping soil characteristics, tailoring the use of irrigation, fertiliser and other inputs to match, and ensuring accurate spatial delivery, the use of inputs can be reduced. This results in savings of energy, time and inputs, while pasture and crop yields increase and less nutrients are lost to the environment, leading to better water quality in our rivers and groundwater.

Progress in GIS technology and nutrient management data is enabling farmers to understand their farms in new ways. This is delivering environmental improvements and driving the best increases in productivity in the whole economy.

Another false ‘choice’ is between protection and use of natural resources.

As a country, we protect around a third of our land area for conservation, but the mountains and forests making up most of this area are used as a playground by our people.  They’re also a workplace for some of the 166,000 people employed in tourism industry; an industry that relies on us continuing to protect our outstanding natural beauty.

Instead of accepting these false ‘choices’ we have an opportunity to focus on ensuring our system gives us the freedom to make the choices we actually want.

One example is in the space of bio-technology.

I am not going to get into the question of genetic modification specifically.

What I will say is that when new technologies come along – both GM and non-GM – our current system denies us the choice over whether we want them. Meanwhile, our international competitors do have this option.

There is, for example, a new variety of high-yielding eucalyptus tree which has just been approved for cultivation in Brazil.  Using this variety, growers can get a 15 percent increase in wood for the same area, processors can get a 20 percent reduction in the cost of wood production, and the environment benefits from a 12 percent increase in the amount of carbon dioxide stored per hectare.
High-yielding wood is at the core of our pulp and paper industry.

However our current regime for regulating new organisms is highly restrictive in practice, which means we do not have the flexibility to choose whether this is something we would want in New Zealand.

I’ve heard it said that our current regulatory regime would deny us the choice to adopt many new plants and species that today offer us huge advantages: kiwifruit, rye grass, and even the ubiquitous pinus radiata.

Another example of a choice we are currently denied is found in our approach to risk.

This is particularly important when we consider the potential to sustainably use the resources contained in our precious marine environments.

I am not going to stand here and tell you that New Zealand does not take enough risk. That is for the country, through elected representatives, to decide.

The point I want to make is that we often deny ourselves the choice over how much risk we want to take. When systems adopt rigid approaches to risk, for example, rather than genuinely enabling adaptive management approaches, we limit our ability to explore and assess the potential risks of our actions.

Another restriction on our choice comes when we have inefficient systems. In these instances we deny ourselves the chance to decide, clearly and efficiently, how we want to manage our resources.

From an economist’s point of view, a resource management system like ours is intended to reduce the costs of allocating resources, account for factors which market forces don’t value, and manage collective action problems – including intergenerational fairness.

Our current system could be better on all of these fronts.

As we saw with the establishment of the Kaikoura marine protected areas, the transaction costs of making decisions on how to manage our resources can be extremely high.

Many of our resource management systems come in for regular criticism, although it’s often directed at how the decisions are made rather than the decisions themselves.

And our limited framework for valuing natural capital and ecosystem services often prevents us from understanding how much they are really worth to us. It also means weighing public benefits against the gains to be made from resource use is hard for decision makers.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

We are starting to reclaim some of these choices.

A number of Government departments are working together to assess the feasibility and benefits of more systemically gathering natural capital information to feed into decision-making.  Appropriately considering the impacts on natural capital, such as clean water, soil or habitat for threatened species, will allow us to make better, more balanced decisions.

The Government’s resource management reforms aim to provide greater certainty for communities to plan for, and meet, their area’s needs in a way that reduces costs and delays, while maintaining the environmental standards that are important to them. 

Freshwater policy is another area where we are reclaiming choice.

Here, communities are able to debate the value of public goods; public discussion is exposing and trading-off risks; and collaboration through the Land and Water Forum continues to help create a management system which is responsive to the goals of users.

But there is a price for moves to systems such as this, which give us the choices we really want.

The quality of information and the level of public debate must be raised. This is something for which all parties must share responsibility.

Government doubtless has a role here. The work to develop a Māori Land service is one example.

Here the Crown is providing the information and support that Māori landowners need to assess the different choices available to them from their land. This in turn exposes the true value to Māori of systems which allow us to choose how our resources are managed. 

However, businesses and industry sectors must play also play a part in setting the conditions for a more informed debate.

On the issue of climate change, for example, the agriculture sector has the opportunity to contribute to the public debate about New Zealand’s future emissions targets, and options for meeting these targets. 

It is important that we focus on what the science tells us.  

As the IPCC told us last year, carbon dioxide emissions fundamentally drive long-term global warming.  Methane has a larger impact initially, but its effect is only short lived. This clearly has little impact on most other developed countries whose emissions consist mainly of carbon dioxide, but it makes a huge difference for New Zealand because of our high agricultural emissions.

New Zealand has invested heavily in finding ways to mitigate the effects of biological emissions, though commercialisation is still some way away.

So science clearly plays an important role in helping us work out how we can have the greatest impact in reducing emissions.  And it has an important part to play in informing the public, in helping us avoid false dichotomies and giving us greater choices to enable living standards to continue to rise for generations to come.  And as part of this, the business community has the opportunity to explain how its actions contribute to increases in all areas of wellbeing.

I, for one, look forward to working together to make these challenging, but ultimately vital, choices about the future of our natural resources, the prosperity of our country and the living standards of New Zealanders.

Sustainability and prosperity aren’t mutually exclusive.

Furthermore,unless we want to return to subsistence living, which may or may not be environmentally sustainable but certainly isn’t socially and economically sustainable, prosperity is essential for sustainability.

That doesn’t mean that prosperity should be at the cost of the environment or people.

The challenge is to balance economic, environmental and social considerations.

 


Rural round-up

June 5, 2015

Central Plains Water moves to Stage II planning:

Central Plains Water is proceeding with planning for an enlarged Stage 2 of the $375m project on the back of fresh funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) Irrigation Accelerator Funding (IAF).

The $3.5 million investment from the IAF will allow CPW to proceed with the first phase of the Stage 2 design. This investment is one of two that the IAF has committed to CPW, which must match the commitment dollar-for-dollar. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces appointment of new general manager Country Banking:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Hayley Moynihan to the new role of general manager Country Banking.

Subject to regulatory approval from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ms Moynihan will commence in the role from July 2, 2015.

Reporting to Rabobank New Zealand chief executive officer Ben Russell, the general manager Country Banking will be responsible for leadership of Rabobank’s rural banking business throughout New Zealand.

 

Farmers urged to have their say on future plans for fighting bovine TB:

New Zealand cattle and deer farmers are being urged to get involved in how the fight against bovine TB is carried out, with a review of the Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan underway.

Since the start of 2000, New Zealand has spent more than $1.2 billion fighting bovine TB and controlling the pests (especially possums) that spread the disease.

Independent Chair of the Plan Governance Group (PGG) Chris Kelly said, “To protect the health of farmed cattle and deer and our good international trade reputation around animal products, it is critical we continue to build on this large investment and maintain the low TB rates we see today.” . .

Research findings a promising start for PhD student:

Preliminary findings from a research project at the University of Waikato could mean good things for farmers dealing with the effects of ongoing drought.

Increasing drought resilience
Doctoral student Jack Pronger’s research focuses on identifying approaches to increase pastoral drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species. He’s comparing the seasonal water use of mixed-sward pasture systems (a combination of different grass, legume and herb species) with more traditional ryegrass/clover systems under dairy grazing. . .

Healthy thinking workshops for rural people:

A 1980s era ambulance will be on the road soon, helping to bring practical advice to farmers and others in the rural community about looking after themselves.

It is part of a new programme, Farmstrong, that rural insurer, FMG and the Mental Health Foundation have launched.

It is taking a different approach to other rural mental health initiatives, by promoting well-being, with advice on subjects such as nutrition, managing fatigue, exercise, and coping with pressure. . .

Growing value – an uncertain future:

The uncertain future of the dairy sector is currently top-of-mind for many primary sector leaders, reports KPMG New Zealand.

That was a key theme arising from the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015, titled “Growing Value”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says conversations about the dairy industry’s future have “changed dramatically in the last year”.

“The extent of the downturn in milk returns for the 2014/2015 season was not expected. The belief that prices had moved to a new plain, driven by insatiable Chinese demand, has disappeared.”  . . .

Farmers score with new DairyNZ app launching at Fieldays:

A tool to allow farmers to perform one of their most important jobs on a smartphone will soon be available when DairyNZ launches its new free Body Condition Scoring (BCS) App at the National Agricultural Fieldays next week in the Waikato.

The app gives farmers the opportunity to body condition score cows on their smartphone using DairyNZ’s Body Condition Scoring Made Easy field guide.

DairyNZ animal husbandry specialist Andrea Henry says condition scoring cows is such an important job, DairyNZ wanted to make it as easy as possible. . .

Blocks help minimise metabolic disorder risks in herds:

It’s the calm before the calving season and a bit of planning now will help herds get through without the risk of metabolic disorders, such as milk fever, which can lead to downer cows or impact future milk production.

The disorders are prevalent just before or after calving, triggered by an inability to mobilise enough calcium. Subclinical cases of milk fever can be hard to pick up, with industry data indicating that for every downer cow it is likely that between 10 and 15 others in the herd will have early stage milk fever symptoms.

“It’s estimated that the cost of a clinical case of milk fever can reach up to $1,500 per cow* – including lost milk production, reduced fertility, and increased likelihood of culling due to other diseases such as mastitis. Not only is the risk a costly one, it’s also unnecessary,” says SealesWinslow Product Development Manager, Jackie Aveling. . .


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