Rural round-up

July 9, 2017

Election muddies water issues – Neal Wallace:

Freshwater management faces significant reform regardless of who wins September’s general election.

The Labour and Green Parties would campaign on policies tightening the granting of resource consents for activities such as dairying.

Labour also promised to charge “a resource rental for large water take for irrigation at a fair and affordable price”.

Also in the wings, Environment Minister Nick Smith said a technical paper on options for allocating and pricing water was due in December and would have to be addressed by the incoming government. . . 

Champion kiwi lamb could be world’s healthiest and tastiest – Dave Gooselink:

A bid to produce the world’s healthiest red meat is proving a hit for a group of South Island high country farmers.

Their unique Te Mana lamb was launched onto the market this winter, to be served up at top restaurants both here and in Hong Kong.

Life on the farm’s been a lot tougher in recent years for the country’s sheep, as the growth of dairying pushes them higher into the hills.

Geneticist Aimee Charteris has spent the past decade on a project to create a new breed of sheep. . . 

Geneticist ‘stoked’ to be finalist – Nicole Sharp:

Julia Aspinall is an animal-breeding specialist.

Passionate about her work and the sheep industry, this year she was nominated for the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry Award for the first time.

She was announced as a finalist earlier this month, alongside retired Havelock North  Romney breeder Tony Parker and Parnassus Perendale breeder Tim Anderson.

“I was pretty stoked [to find out I was a finalist,]” she said.

“I’m passionate about doing what I’m doing.”

Originally from Mt Aspiring Station in Wanaka, Ms Aspinall has always had a love of the sheep industry. . . 

Confidence, new skills and impetus result from course – Sally Rae:

When Balfour farmer Jonny Elder signed up for the Rabobank farm managers programme last year, the timing was perfect.

Designed for emerging farmers, the programme focused on the development of business management skills, with an emphasis on strategic planning, leadership and self-awareness.

Mr Elder and his wife, Michelle, farm a 460ha sheep and beef property in Northern Southland, where they run ewes, fatten lambs and trade a mix of beef calves and Friesian bulls.

When he went on the course, the couple had just finished their first year farming on their own account — having previously farmed with Mr Elder’s father and brother — and they were ready to put into action their own ideas and visions. . . 

Pest fence broken – Annette Scott:

The biosecurity system is creaking and won’t be sustainable in five years, Ministry for Primary Industries readiness and response director Geoff Gwyn says.

Biosecurity had some big challenges that needed to be addressed collectively, he told farmers at the Federated Farmers arable industry conference.

“To put it bluntly, our system is creaking.

“Biosecurity is working but the model that is there is not sustainable for five years’ time.

“Leave it to the Crown solely and it ain’t going to work. We have got to do it together,” Gwyn said.

And while tourism was great for the country it created greater risk. . . 

Time farming moved on from low cost to added value – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Fieldays at Mystery Creek in mid-June showcased New Zealand innovation, interaction and, in some cases, simply imagination.

When the imagination was backed with evidence, facts and data, it transformed to a goal.

That was the case for the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda released on the first day of the Fieldays.

Titled ‘A Recipe for Action’, the 2017 Agenda said “NZ’s future is as an artisan, niche producer of premium quality, safe and sustainable food and beverages, fibre and timber products”. . . 

Future: threat or opportunity – Annette Scott:

The food industry is one of the fastest changing in the world so producing food to feed it will no longer be business as usual, technology futurist Rosie Bosworth says.

The Future Advantage consultant and communicator told more than 200 farmers at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s FarmSmart event in Christchurch that while not much had changed in the way food had been produced for the past 10,000 years, it was changing now.

Technology and science were creating change beyond business as usual.

“We are amidst an era of exponential change with new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at breakneck speeds.” . . 

Franco Ledger to stand in Southland – Jonny Turner:

Southern harness racing breeders will have free access to the bloodlines of one of the area’s most recent pacing stars next breeding season.

Two-time Southland horse of the year Franco Ledger, by Falcon Seelster, will stand his first season at stud at Macca Lodge in northern Southland this spring, with a zero service fee.

The horse’s former trainer, Hamish Hunter, and co-owners the What Ever Syndicate, were keen to give the horse an opportunity at stud, so they persuaded Macca Lodge to take the horse, proprietor Brent McIntyre said. . .


Rural round-up

June 20, 2017

Eating quality combats imitations – Annette Scott:

Grow them fast and kill them young is the recipe for the best eating quality in red meat.

And with the threat from synthetic and plant-based meats a good eating experience was critical to underpin New Zealand’s grass-fed, ethically produced red meat story, AbacusBio consultant Jason Archer said.

Older animals had more connective tissue in their muscles, which made their meat tougher, so fast-finishing made for more tenderness, Archer told farmers at a Beef + Lamb NZ beef-focused field day. . .

Synlait revises 2016 / 2017 forecast milk price to reflect current market:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) is forecasting a total milk price of $6.29 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season, consisting of a forecast base milk price of $6.15 kgMS and $0.14 of premium payments.

An average premium payment of $0.14 kgMS will go to Synlait’s Canterbury milk suppliers creating value behind the farm gate with seasonal and Special Milk progammes such as a2 Milk™, Grass Fed™ and Lead With Pride™. . . 

Impressed by carpet launch – Sally Rae:

Trevor Peters admits he was a bit sceptical before he headed to New York for the launch of Carrfields Primary Wool’s Just Shorn range of wool carpets and rugs.

But once there, the Otago farmer was ”pretty impressed”.

A group of farmers attended the launch last month, along with New Zealand Trade Commissioner-Consul General Beatrice Faumuina.

Mr Peters and his family operate Peters Genetics, a large-scale farming operation in Otago, running about 32,000 ewes.

All action at Holstein-Friesian conference – Sally Rae:

Holstein-Friesian breeders from throughout New Zealand will converge on Central Otago this week.

The New Zealand Holstein-Friesian (HFNZ) Association is holding its conference in Cromwell, organised by the Otago branch of the organisation.

Holstein-Friesian cattle make up more than 45% of the national dairy herd and HFNZ has more than 750 members nationally, Otago branch chairwoman Judith Ray said.

The conference theme was High Octane: Gold, Wine and Speed, with various activities organised around that, and it was ”action-packed”.

Planning began about 18 months ago and organisers wanted to ”showcase” what the region had to offer, Mrs Ray said. . . 

More irrigation work approved – Annette Scott:

The $195 million Hunter Downs Water project has received the all clear to implement its proposed irrigation scheme in South Canterbury.

Environment Minister Nick Smith has granted Hunter Downs Water requiring authority status to develop and operate the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme, effectively giving it the green light to go.

The milestone decision gave it the authority to apply to the Timaru and Waimate District Councils and Environment Canterbury for the necessary designations to implement the scheme. . . 

Fieldays showcases the tech changing farming:

A technology tsunami is set to change the way New Zealand agricultural producers do business according to ANZ’s Rural Economist Con Williams.

At Fieldays this week to talk about his latest Agri Focus research into the digital tsunami hitting the primary industries, Mr Williams said the number of apps and innovations designed to help improve agricultural businesses has exploded in recent years.

“A technology tsunami is upon the primary sectors. From meeting consumer demands around how food is produced to adapting to changing regulatory requirements, technology is poised to play a much bigger role in farm management,” Mr Williams said. . . 

Strong interest in on-farm bull sale at Rangiwahia – Jemma Brakebush:

As the bull sale season picks up around the country, the first on-farm bull sale in more than a decade was held in the small farming community of Rangiwahia, this week.

Murray and Fiona Curtis set up Riverlee Stud four years ago and held their first sale on Wednesday, to allow sheep and beef farmers to buy the bulls direct through them. , , 

What’s brown and sticky? – Thomas Lumley:

Q: What’s brown and sticky?

A: A stick!

Q: What do you call a cow on a trampoline?

A: A milk shake!

Q: Where does chocolate milk come from?

A: Brown cows!

There’s a popular news story around claiming that 7% of Americans think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

It’s not true. . . 

Wilderness Home in Fiordland National Park For Sale:

An idyllic waterfront holiday home in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, the ultimate wilderness playground, has been placed on the market for sale.

The property is one of only 25 privately-owned sections located within the majestic Fiordland National Park.

The traditional Kiwi bach is located in an area called Jamestown, which was founded in the 1870s on the shores of Lake McKerrow near the bottom of the South Island’s West Coast. . . 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2017

Making cropping great:

FAR 2017 – 2021 Strategy launched in Wellington.

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) has launched its 2017-2021 Strategy, which aims to make cropping the highest returning and most sustainable broadacre land use for New Zealand farmers.

CEO Nick Pyke says the strategy builds on FAR’s strengths as a provider of quality research and extension and on the innate strengths of New Zealand’s cropping industry.

“New Zealand’s temperate climate, quality soils, plentiful water and highly skilled farmers provide us with some key advantages over other food producing nations. Accordingly, FAR’s new strategy has been designed to ensure that our research team works alongside the cropping industry, helping it to reach its full potential as New Zealand’s most economically and environmentally sustainable farming system. . . 

Disease testing advance ready – Sally Rae:

CRV Ambreed is collaborating with Otago-based Disease Research Ltd to enable dairy farmers to access further information about Bovine Viral Diarrhoea and Johne’s  disease from their herd testing.

From this month, farmers would get their normal herd test information on BVD and Johne’s disease but were now able to directly take that a step further with DRL. Until now, the herd testing provided farmers with an initial positive or negative result for the diseases through an “alert” service, which told the farmer there might be  an issue  needing further investigation. The extended service offered by DRL provided farmers with the option of follow-up testing of individual cows, ensuring properly informed management and control, CRV Ambreed managing director Angus Haslett said. . . 

Hunter Downs Water Ltd given requiring authority status:

Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith has granted Hunter Downs Water Limited requiring authority status to develop and operate the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury.

“The irrigation scheme will take water from the Waitaki River to irrigate land between Waimate and Timaru. Hunter Downs Water has previously obtained water-take consent from Environment Canterbury and a development grant from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited. This scheme has the potential to irrigate 40,000 hectares, bringing benefits to 200 farmers. The economic benefits to the region are estimated at an increase in output of $830 million per year, and 1840 jobs in South Canterbury. . . 

Feds’ withdraw Mackenzie Basin appeal:

Federated Farmers has withdrawn its appeal on the Environment Court’s Mackenzie Basin decision, opting for less time in court, more time around the table for discussions.

“As we’ve said right from when the decision on Plan Change 13 was issued, our appeal was lodged in order to get clarity around a couple of key aspects,” Federated Farmers’ High Country executive member Andrew Simpson said.

There is still concern about several aspects of Judge Jackson’s decision, including apparent contradictions between what the Mackenzie District Council has said around enabling traditional farming and the ultimate findings of the Court. . . 

Kaikōura funds query ‘disappointing’, farming group says – Alexa Cook:

A farming group questioned about the spending of earthquake relief money says all of the funds have been spent helping the farming community get back on their feet.

Questions have been asked about how more than $30,000 raised by the NZ Farming Facebook page through Givealittle, for Kaikōura earthquake relief, was spent.

Nearly $60,000 was donated in the appeal, which aimed to get supplies to earthquake-hit farmers and to cover fuel costs.

It was reported by Fairfax in February that the group had spent $27,000 on hiring heavy equipment, providing food and accommodation, and transport costs, and that the rest would be spent on special projects in the community.  . .

NZ’s Organic Businesses Call on the Government to Regulate their Industry:

Some of the country’s largest organic businesses have just hosted MP’s in Hawke’s Bay, calling on the Government to regulate the organic sector and provide a national standard to protect the word “organic”.

The organisation that represents the New Zealand organic sector, Organics Aotearoa NZ (OANZ) hosted a field trip for the Primary Production Select Committee.

OANZ CEO Brendan Hoare says the organic sector is growing 11% each year and is now worth more than $0.5 billion dollars to the economy. . . 

Blue Pacific Minerals to launch innovative new granulated feed supplement MaxiMin at Field Days:

Blue Pacific Minerals will launch its innovative new feed supplement MaxiMin at this week’s National Field Days.

Tokoroa-based Blue Pacific Minerals (BPM), New Zealand’s premier zeolite and perlite minerals processing company, has come up with the new value-added, dust-free supplement, which combines Magnesium and Calcium with its long-standing Optimate product in a granulated form.

“MaxiMin is a breakthrough product for farmers,” says BPM Agriproducts Account Manager Kelvin Johansson. . .


Rural round-up

June 8, 2017

Te Mana lamb – Jo Elwin:

Standing high on a hill on Minaret Station was no place to be this cold, blustery snow-on-the-way day, but there I was, exhilarated and remarking at the pretty white faces of the lambs being shepherded around us. “They are very good looking sheep,” says Matt Wallis, one of four brothers who own the station, “but we are careful who we say that around.”

It was one of many quips from Matt and his brother Jonathan as they helicoptered me around their 50,000 acre property, which has no road access but enjoys 27km of Wanaka lakefront. Matt’s focus is the hospitality side of the business. . . 

New stock exclusion rules require greater flexibility – Feds – Nigel Malthus:

New rules excluding stock from waterways are coming, but they have to be sensible, practical and affordable, says Cathy Begley, leader of Federated Farmers’ water team.

Begley told attendees at the recent Feds South Island high country group conference that the proposals could affect the way they run their farms.

She says that since the Minister for the Environment, Dr Nick Smith, and the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, announced in February the goal of having 90% of rivers swimmable, her group has been making submissions on how farmers could be affected. . .

Rural sector achievements and value highlighted in honours list:

Federated Farmers congratulates all those who received awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year and is delighted to see the rural sector and the people involved in it commended for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

“The number of Queen’s Birthday Honours which have an agricultural connection shows the significant contribution farmers and agribusiness continue to play in New Zealand.

“These awards recognise contributions in science and innovation, mental health, business and the environment indicating the diversity of effort in the rural community,” says Dr William Rolleston Federated Farmers ‘ National President. . . 

Rotorua woman excited and thankful for honour – Shauni James:

Rotorua’s Wendy McGowan is excited and thankful about being made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rural women.

Mrs McGowan has been a member of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) since 1975 and has held offices with the Kaharoa Branch, Provincial and Inter-Provincial Committees.

She said she felt excited about the honour and very thankful to the people who had nominated her. . .

Maori growing part of NZ ag – PM:

Prime Minister Bill English says in most regions Maori now have the potential to become the largest long-term investors.
People are starting to realise Maori are not fly-by-night investors, he says. They are in business – farms, commercial buildings, investments — for the long haul.

English said this at an event celebrating the award of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm, this year won by the Omapere Rangihamama Trust farm, near Kaikohe. . .

Rural fuel stop from a paddock – Christine McKay:

A partnership between Pongaroa and Allied Petroleum is a first for New Zealand, pumping profits back into the community.

On Monday the first sod was turned for the Pongaroa Fuel Stop, which will be a driver for community development, thanks to the unique relationship between the fuel company and the community.

“When we were approached about the fuel stop, our overwhelming view was yes,” Paul Peetoom, territory manager for the lower North Island for Allied Petroleum, said. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 13, 2017

Stockmanship and work ethic leads family to win Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

East Otago sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht have won the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The win was announced at a gala dinner at the Glenroy Auditorium in Dunedin on April 7.

The Engelbrechts also won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.

The Engelbrecht’s 7500 stock unit East Otago sheep and beef business is based on their 611ha home farm, Stoneburn, near Palmerston. The couple have four children, Oscar, 19, Sam, 16, Anna, 14 and Charles, 12. . . 

Aim tech at firms not farmers – Richard Rennie:

As the internet of things (IoT) becomes more of a reality for New Zealand farmers its success might lie in promoting it harder to farm service businesses than to farmers themselves.

KotahiNet chief executive Vikream Kumar tipped the usual pitch for farmers to adopt the IoT on its head to delegates at the MobileTech conference in Rotorua.

His company specialised in connecting businesses with sensors and wireless networks that enabled devices to communicate within businesses and beyond, including farms, orchards and processing operations. . . 

Tauranga animal health CEO finalist for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Tauranga woman described as “successful yet so down to earth” is in the running to take out the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

A qualified veterinarian, Dr Claire Nicholson is the Chief Executive of Sirona Animal Health, a company she set up to develop and promote unique products that address current areas of economic loss in the dairy and sheep and beef industries.

She’s also a director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara (PKW), past associate director for AgResearch and has worked with Massey University researching the epidemiology and economic cost of Neospora. Her family farms are in Gropers Bush, Southland. . .

Regions win battle to keep GE-free status but confusion remains – Gerard Hutching:

Lobby group Pure Hawke’s Bay is claiming victory in its fight to be free of genetically modified fruit and vegetables, but Federated Farmers describes the new situation as “a mess”.

Pure Hawke’s Bay feared Environment Minister Nick Smith would remove the powers for local and regional councils to declare themselves GE-free when the Government pushed through the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill this week.

However, in last minute changes, Smith amended the Bill so the minister could not refuse councils the right to become GE-free – but only for crops, which he defined as cereals, vegetables or fruit.

Smith’s definition did not include GE grasses, trees or livestock. . . 

New ground broken on rural fibre:

Federated Farmers has successfully negotiated a significant benefit for rural property owners who allow telecommunications fibre to cross their land.

The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Act, which was passed by the Parliament this afternoon, facilitates the installation of fibre optic cable along overhead electricity lines. It includes a unique provision that provides a quid pro quo to landowners whose land the lines network crosses, Federated Farmers communications spokesperson Anders Crofoot says.

In exchange for the right to string high-speed fibre along existing overhead powerlines, the amendment act guarantees fibre connections to farmers whose land is crossed. . . 

New Zealand mānuka honey science definition:

Food Safety Minister David Bennett has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries’ release of a proposed scientific definition for mānuka honey produced in New Zealand.

“Overseas regulators and consumers have expressed a desire for an independent, Government-backed definition to safeguard the authenticity of mānuka honey products.

“This Government-backed definition will provide an important starting point for the industry to promote New Zealand mānuka honey in world markets,” Mr Bennett says. . . 

Government science definition of mānuka honey an important step forward:

The industry organisation for the honey and beekeeping industry, Apiculture New Zealand, is pleased the Ministry for Primary Industries has released its proposed science definition of mānuka honey for industry review and consultation.

“The introduction of a regulatory science definition is a major milestone in the history of the mānuka honey industry. It is a relatively young industry growing very rapidly and with huge potential.

“We signalled our willingness to work with MPI to ensure its proposed science definition is robust in meeting shared objectives around consumer confidence and authenticity, and will be making a detailed submission on behalf of industry,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture NZ. . . 

Foreign Wine Looking for Greater US Market Penetration:

The US wine market continues to represent an attractive opportunity for many foreign wine companies, according to the Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q2 2017. However, increasing competition and ongoing wholesaler consolidation, among other factors, make it increasingly difficult for small wineries to penetrate, with a particular complexity for foreign wineries. An increasing number are seeking alternative structures and strategies to deliver greater penetration in the market. Each strategy has the potential to achieve success, but also carries risks and pitfalls.

While the US market has attributes that make it attractive to many foreign wineries, it is also a crowded, complex, and daunting market. The traditional approach for foreign wineries looking to enter the US market has been to identify an appropriate importer, and to work the market with the importer and/or distributors to sell their product.. . .

More evidence that the key to allergy-free kids is giving them plenty of dirt — and cows – Rachel Feltman:

People who grow up on farms — especially dairy farms — have way fewer allergy and asthma problems than the rest of us. Now one research team thinks they’ve brought science closer to understanding why.

In a study published Thursday in Science, researchers report that they were able to pinpoint one possible mechanism for the allergy protection in mice they studied. Surprisingly, the protein that they fingered as the likely allergy-preventer doesn’t actually affect the immune system — it affects the structural cells that make up the lining of the lung.

The research is related to something called the hygiene hypothesis, where a lack of exposure to microbes as a tyke leads to more allergy and asthma. . . 

 


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.

Image may contain: text, outdoor and water

“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.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, text, outdoor, nature and water

“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.


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


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