Moving up, out and right out

May 19, 2016

At last, Labour appears to have caught up with National on one solution to Auckland’s housing problem:

The new position by the Labour opposition calling for an abolition of city limits has been welcomed by Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This is a welcome repositioning by Labour. Tight city limits and not allowing intensification is at the core of Auckland’s housing problems. It is limiting new housing developments, driving up section and house prices and encouraging land banking.

“A broad political consensus that the policy around city limits needs to change is helpful to progressing the necessary reforms to increase housing supply and to make them more affordable.

“I was given the Housing portfolio in January 2013 and immediately identified Auckland Council’s metropolitan urban limits, set in 1993 when the population was half a million less than today, as a huge barrier to meeting housing needs both now and in the future. At that time Phil Twyford insisted having no boundaries ‘will mean uncontrolled sprawl from Pukekohe to Warkworth’.

“The Government’s housing programme has involved the systematic dismantling of Auckland’s metropolitan urban limit. I have used Special Housing Areas (SHAs) to override the limits in the short-term while fast-tracking with the independent hearings panel a new plan for Auckland with adequate housing supply.

“Both the laws for SHAs and the new Unitary Plan were opposed by Labour. The new Unitary Plan is only six weeks away from going to the council, and I’m confident it will provide a far more permissive approach to new housing because of the depth of analysis that has gone into the new plan.

“It would be counter-productive to ditch this work at this time with a simplistic approach of just abolishing city limits. We still need some rules to ensure new urban areas have appropriate infrastructure and services and that we make separate provision for industry from housing.

“We are making huge progress in growing supply. Only 10 new homes were being built each working day when National came to office but that has grown to 40. I will be keeping my foot hard on the accelerator until we achieve the needed rate of 50-60 per day.

“I welcome this change of tack by Labour on city limits because the next key step is gaining support for a more enabling plan for Auckland. I hope Mr Twyford and Labour will join me in encouraging the Auckland Council to support the new Unitary Plan in July, when the independent hearings panel reports back.”

Some political tragics might care whose idea it was to allow Auckland to move out but most other people just want the best solution to the imbalance between supply and demand – and that’s more houses.

Auckland has to move up and out and it would help if some people moved right out of the city to other regions where houses are far more affordable.

Strong family links and work will be keeping some people in Auckland but there are good livings and good living in other parts of the country.

All New Zealanders are either descended from immigrants or immigrates themselves. Many of our forbears made long and dangerous journeys to get a better life for themselves and their families; some came not just to a new land but a new language and culture, some new New Zealanders are still doing that.

What’s stopping at least some Aucklanders easing the housing problems in their city by making the much easier move to somewhere else in New Zealand?

 

 


Rural round-up

May 11, 2016

Dairy cattle number falls for first time since 2005:

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand fell to 6.5 million in 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the first decline after nine years of consecutive increases.

”The dairy cattle number is now similar to the level back in 2013,” business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said. “This reduction was caused by an increase in the number of cows slaughtered and was against a backdrop of declining milk solid payouts.”

The 2015 Agricultural Production Survey final result shows that, for the year ending June 2015, there were 213,000 fewer dairy cattle. This follows a record high of 6.7 million dairy cattle in 2014. In the Waikato region, a traditional dairy farming area, there were 153,000 fewer dairy cattle than in 2014. . . 

Australian dairy farmers call for independent govt review after Fonterra slashed farmgate prices – Fiona Rotherham:

A group of Australian dairy farmers is planning a rally this week and more to follow in a push for the federal government to urgently establish an independent review of the country’s dairy industry after farmgate milk prices were slashed by Fonterra Cooperative Group and other processors.

The group, Dairy Power, said the “unacceptable retrospective reduction in milk price”, which affects 75 percent of farms in Victoria, threatens to push farmers off the land or further cull their herds.

“Dairy farmers are not going to survive if they’re losing money,” said group president Chris Gleeson. “The average farmer is forecast to lose A$15,000 this season and more next season. Without immediate action, the industry will continue its downward spiral.” . . 

The money’s in the honey:

The money’s in the honey

A dawning realisation that unused blocks of manuka covered land could be an untapped source of sustainable income is attracting a steadily increasing number of students of all ages in Northland to train in apiculture.

Manuka honey, or liquid gold as it’s fast becoming known, is a growing industry, with enrolments in the Kaitaia based Lincoln University Certificate in Apiculture up from eight students in 2015 to 22 in 2016. The course has support from local iwi, and is run in partnership with Te Runanga o Te Rarawa School of Honey Gatherers. . . 

Speech to the B3 biosecurity conference:

As you know, I’ve always said that biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.

That’s because it underpins all of our other goals. We want to double the value of our primary sector exports by 2025, but we can’t do that unless we protect ourselves from pests and diseases.

Today I want to give a bit of context on what we’ve achieved over the last few years, the challenges ahead of us, and the importance of all sectors working together.

What we’ve done in recent years

In Budget 2015 I was proud to announce $27 million in new funding for biosecurity. As a result of that, MPI has employed 90 new front line biosecurity staff and introduced 24 new biosecurity detector dog teams. . .

Ministers announces Green Ribbon finalists:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the 2016 Green Ribbon Awards finalists to celebrate exceptional environmental achievements by New Zealanders.

“We are delighted to recognise these community groups, scientists, schools, councils and businesses for their innovation and achievements in the 26th annual Green Ribbon Awards,” Dr Smith says.

“This year we received a very commendable 106 nominations across the ten categories, with some projects making a positive difference over many years.

“Environmental initiatives include protecting our precious biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, reducing water pollution, educating and inspiring leadership and implementing more sustainable business practice.” . . 

Gift to help grow seed industry:

A former Lincoln University student who went on to carve out an illustrious career in the seed industry has provided a significant boost to seed science education in New Zealand.

Selwyn and Mary Manning signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lincoln University Foundation last Friday to mark the creation of the Manning Seed Awards, which are dedicated to furthering education in seed science and seed technology for the benefit of New Zealand. 
“The seed industry is sometimes overlooked for funding, as a lot of people don’t realise how significant it is,” Mr Manning said at the MOU signing event.
 
“These awards are our way of giving back to a vital sector of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, which has given our family so much for so many years.” . . 

Zooming in on heat for herring bones:

Farmers who milk in herringbones now have an easy to use and high tech solution to accurately identify which of their cows are on heat.

The innovative system has been developed in New Zealand by farmer owned co-operative LIC, and is now commercially available in this country and overseas. It uses exclusive camera technology to automatically identify heat events, saving farmers time and money.

The technology was developed to meet farmer demand for a herringbone heat detection solution, LIC Automation Chief Executive Paul Whiston said. Protrack EZ Heat for rotaries had been available for four years and a large number of farmers had asked for a herringbone solution. . . 

Shearer, farmer and former soldier wins premier book award – Beattie’s Book Blog:

Stephen Daisley has won New Zealand’s richest writing prize, the inaugural $50,000 Acorn Foundation Literary Award, for his novel Coming Rain, announced this evening at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards..

Daisley (60), who was born and raised in the Raetihi Hotel, which his parents owned, is a former soldier in the NZ Army. He was 56 years old when his first book, Traitor, was published to wide literary acclaim in Australia, winning a Prime Minister’s Award for Literature. Daisley now lives in Western Australia, where he is a farmer and shearer. . . 

Staying fit on the farm!  5 keys to finding time to workout – Uptown Farms:

Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege of speaking to women from all aspects of our industry. One question keeps coming up.

Other farm moms always ask, “How do you have time to stay in shape?”

Every time it’s asked, I have a lousy answer. I just smile and shrug, or reply “I don’t know!”

For moms on the farm, life is so different. Our mornings already start earlier than most with morning chores. For moms
who farm full time, there isn’t a break between sun up and sun down. Many of us leave the farm for a career during the day, only to return to more chores in the evening. We often eat meals on the go, in the tractor or in the barn. . . 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 14, 2016

Water gives life to NZ’s economy – Anrew Curtis:

Much media debate has arisen recently on whether new irrigation schemes are necessary in the wake of the dairy downturn.  

What the dairy industry doesn’t need at the moment is to be kicked when it’s down; the debate has brought to light a need for IrrigationNZ to better foster relationships and promote understanding of modern irrigation across the board.  

Let’s start with the facts: in NZ water is plentiful. We average 145 million litres per person in NZ compared with 82 in Canada, 22 in Australia, nine in the US, two in China and two in the UK. We are water rich but are yet to make the most of this potential. . . 

Farmers agree kiwi farm labourers  ‘hopeless‘ – Alexa Cook:

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is “on the money” saying many young New Zealanders in farm work are “pretty damned hopeless”, a South Island farming leader says.

Mr English made the comments at a Federated Farmers meeting last week, saying many people seeking jobs through the Ministry of Social Development did not show up or stay with the job.  

Otago Young Farmers Club vice-chair Mike Marshall milks 500 cows, and said he was employing people from Scotland because New Zealanders were not good workers. . .  

Fonterra’s first governance review suggests cutting board members by two, single election process for directors – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group is proposing cutting its board numbers by two to 11 and having a single process for electing farmer appointed and independent directors as part of the first governance overhaul since it was established 15 years ago.

A booklet on the first draft proposal from the long-awaited review of the farmer-owned dairy cooperative is being sent out to farmers today and a final recommendation is to go to shareholder vote in late May or early June after feedback. . . 

National regulations proposed for pest control:

Regulations are being proposed under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to provide for a nationally consistent approach to pest control, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today in releasing a consultation paper standardising the regulatory regime for pest control at the New Zealand PIanning Institute conference.

“These proposed RMA regulations are a response to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report recommending that I instigate a more standardised approach to pest control. Rather than each regional council having different pest control rules, the standard controls set by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) would apply. . . 

Kiwifruit found to regulate blood sugar – Lucy Warhurst:

A new study has found there could be more health benefits to eating kiwifruit than we first thought.

It’s known for being high in fibre and vitamin C, but it’s also now been found to significantly slow and reduce the uptake of sugars into the bloodstream.

Zespri’s Innovation Leader for Health and Nutrition, Dr Juliet Ansell, says people who ate kiwifruit with their breakfast saw more regulated blood sugar levels.

“You actually really reduce that blood sugar peak in your blood stream. It’s a much slower, longer tail off, so much more regulated blood glucose control.” . . . 

Global megatrends expert says New Zealand on trend with food-for-health:

New Zealand should apply its tourism’s “100% Pure” campaign to the agricultural industry, utilise its “clean-green” image, extend it to “clean-green-healthy” and back it with science to add a premium to its exports, according to Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, an international expert in strategy and foresight.

Dr Hajkowicz, author of the recently published book “Global Megatrends – Seven Patterns of Change Shaping our Future” is in New Zealand to address the 2016 High-Value Nutrition Science Symposium -Foods of the Future, Transforming New Zealand into a Silicon Valley of Foods for Health-. . . 

Feedback sought on proposed animal welfare regulations:

The Government is seeking feedback on proposed regulations to further strengthen our animal welfare system.

“Last year the Government amended the Animal Welfare Act to improve the enforceability, clarity and transparency of the animal welfare system,” says Mr Guy.

“We are now seeking the public’s views on proposed regulations that have been developed in consultation with the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC),” says Mr Guy.
These proposed regulations will set enforceable rules based on best practice and modern science.

“Our animal welfare system is considered one of the best in the world. The proposed regulations will further strengthen our reputation as a country that cares for animals,” says Mr Guy. . . .

IrrigationNZ confident Ruataniwha will proceed:

IrrigationNZ today said it was confident that Ruataniwha would go ahead and disputed claims aired on RadioNZ that costs for the project have risen by 50 percent.

“What isn’t clear in this reporting is there are two distinct parts to this project. One is the cost of building the dam and the infrastructure of piping water to the farm gate, the other is the cost of developing on-farm irrigation systems,” said IrrigationNZ chairwoman Nicky Hyslop.

“A year on yes, there is an increase to building the dam – $275 to $330 million, and the reality is, the more time that goes by the more it will cost. There will never be a cheaper time to build than today. . . 

Deputy PM to headline DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum event:

Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English and Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings are among a line-up of leading speakers presenting to dairy farmers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, May 17-18, in Hamilton.

The biennial event will give dairy farmers insight into how to adapt their businesses in the current challenging times and how the global environment will shape the future of New Zealand milk production.

“The Farmers’ Forum is about helping farmers understand what is driving the current financial climate and what they can do to help manage it,” says DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Rick Pridmore. . . .

Farmers Gather for First Field Day at Sea:

Farmers took to the water recently to learn about the entrepreneurial drive of Clearwater Mussels director John Young and how his principles can equally apply to land-based farming.

As aquaculture entrepreneurs, Clearwater Mussels was joint winner of the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year Competition (with Omarama Station), it was the first ever winner’s field day held at sea.

Three boatloads of field day attendees (approx. 200 people) left Havelock Marina and motored into the Kekeperu Sound to see greenshell mussel harvesters and seeders at work, and learn about what a marine farming business did to make it a competition winner. . . 

Final FMG Young Farmer of the Year to be found in Ashburton:

The last of the seven Grand Finalists will be determined this weekend in Ashburton at the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final.

“This contest season has been very successful and impressive to date, the calibre of contestants is high and each Regional Final has been fiercely competed for” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Timaru 7 – 9 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $285,000 in products, services and scholarships from FMG, Massey University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Meridian Energy, Honda, STHIL and Vodafone. . . 

NZ Farming's photo.

Farming is the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think you’re trying to kill them. – NZ Farming.


Rural round-up

January 13, 2016

Alliance moves to deepen cooperative culture as Silver Fern sells stake – Tina Morrison:

Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat processor, plans to entrench its cooperative status, encouraging farmers to ‘share up’ at a time larger rival Silver Fern Farms is watering down its cooperative by tapping a Chinese investor for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth.

Farmer groups failed last year to force a mega-merger on the country’s two large South Island-based meat cooperatives. Both changed chief executives last financial year and Dunedin-based Silver Fern is now awaiting regulatory approval for the $261 million sale of half its business to Shanghai Maling Aquarius, while Invercargill-based Alliance is moving its business model further towards a cooperative system. . . 

Milking sheep has potential to earn billions of dollars for NZ –  Jill Galloway:

Isobel Lees did a veterinary degree at Massey University and is now in Grenoble, France, doing a post graduate study in sheep milking.

She says her research investigating if New Zealand can establish an internationally competitive sheep dairy industry might shed light about how farmers might set up the industry.

“This research focused on the lessons learnt from France, a world leader in sheep dairy.”

Her studies indicate there is vast potential for New Zealand to establish a sheep dairy industry and for it to be a billion dollar contributor to the economy.

“New Zealand has a competitive advantage and superior performance. It has pasture-based agricultural production systems, leading innovations from the dedicated agricultural research community and market leading standards for sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.” . . .

Turangi Maori land trust brings in Chinese partners for sheep milk expansion – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Waituhi Kuratau Trust, the Turangi-based Maori land trust, has teamed up with Chinese interests to develop its sheep-milking interests as part of a plan to sell into the world’s most-populous nation.

The trust sold a leasehold interest in 490 hectares of land in Kuratau to Maui Milk for $1.2 million, which has been slated for development into a sheep dairy farm, according to the Overseas Investment Office summary approving the transaction. The trust owns 40 percent of Maui Milk, with the remainder held by four Chinese nationals. . . 

Govt happy with farm conditions monitoring:

The Government is ruling out an an inquiry into the pay and conditions of farm workers in New Zealand, saying standards are already in place.

Former Council of Trade Unions head Helen Kelly made the call, saying many farm workers were working up to 70 hours a week for low pay, and that was leading to high staff turnover. 

She said fatigue was a major cause of workplace accidents, and an official inquiry was needed to introduce regulations.

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Labour Inspectorate already monitored non-compliance with minimum employment standards in the dairy sector. . . 

Right attitude key to $70k jobs – Tamsyn Parker:

A farm worker with the right attitude could take fewer than five years to get to a $70k-plus salary, says an industry leader.

Andrew Hoggard, a farmer who is on the board of farming body Federated Farmers, said Seek data showing a 14 per cent rise in the average salary for the sector was probably a little high as it was based only on jobs advertised through that business. . . 

Federated Farmers mourns the loss of life member Gordon Stephenson:

Federated Farmers expresses their deepest sympathies to the family of farmer and environmentalist Gordon Stephenson who died on Boxing Day.

A stalwart of Federated Farmers, Mr. Stephenson served as national chairman of the dairy section from 1973 to 1977 and instigated the Farm Environment Awards in 1991.

“Gordon was instrumental in the formation of QEII National Trust and the legacy he’s left behind can be seen all around the country in the land and native forests now voluntarily protected by farmers through the Trust,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . 

Farm Environment Awards Founder Leaves Lasting Legacy:

The passing of Farm Environment Awards founder Gordon Stephenson is a huge loss for New Zealand agriculture, Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), says.

“Gordon was a farsighted and inspirational leader. As a passionate advocate for conservation he was steadfast in his belief that good farming and good environmental management go hand in hand. This message is still very much at the heart of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) today.”

Mr Saunders says the establishment of NZFET and the success of the BFEA programme are legacies of Gordon Stephenson’s drive and vision. . . 

Federated Farmers grieves loss of former Chief Executive:

Federated Farmers is saddened by the death of former Chief Executive Tony St Clair.

Mr. St Clair served as Chief Executive between 1997 and 2005 following several years as Executive Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

“Tony was an inspirational and passionate advocate for agriculture and farming and he had an intimate and detailed knowledge and understanding of Federated Farmers,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . .

 

Fonterra Announces Record Export Volumes in December:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has exported record volumes for the month of December 2015.

Export data for the Co-operative in December confirms the new record for a single month’s volume, with more than 300,000 MT shipped to its global markets.

December’s volume was approximately 10 per cent higher than Fonterra’s previous record month in December 2014. . . 

NZ honey exports double in November on manuka demand – Tina Morrison::

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand honey exports doubled in November as the country benefited from demand for high-value manuka honey.

The value of honey exports jumped to $27.4 million in November from $13.6 million the same month a year earlier, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand data. That helped boost the annual value of honey exports in the 12 months through November by 45 percent to $281 million, the figures showed.

New Zealand is the world’s third-largest exporter of honey by value, behind China and Argentina. However it is only the 16th biggest global supplier on a volume basis, reflecting the premium price garnered for manuka honey, which accounts for as much as 80 percent of New Zealand exports and is prized for its health benefits. . .

Final report into killer swedes released:

The group investigating the fatal poisoning of hundreds of animals by swedes in Southland has issued one last warning to farmers not to feed herbicide tolerant swedes to cows in the spring.

The Southland Swedes working group today released its final report into the incident which left hundreds – if not thousands – of sheep and cows dead across the region.

In 2014 farmers across Southland reported sick, dead and dying livestock – after they’d been fed on swedes – mostly a new herbicide tolerant variety developed and sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds.

Farmers were subsequently warned by industry experts not to feed the HT Swede variety to cows when they were heavily pregnant or with calves – because the chemically mutated HT swedes were producing unnaturally high levels of glucosinolates that are toxic to livestock. . . 

 Recreational fishing parks proposed in Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds as part of Marine Protected Area reform:

The Government has today launched a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

“We are proposing a new system of marine protection that will include marine reserves, species-specific sanctuaries, seabed reserves, and recreational fishing parks. This more sophisticated approach with four different types of marine protection is similar to the graduated approach we take to reserves on land that vary from strict nature reserves to those for a specific or recreational purpose,” says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“We want to improve community and iwi involvement in marine protection and develop a comprehensive network of areas that better protects marine life and which enhances New Zealanders’ enjoyment of our marine environment.” . . 

Seafood industry supports sustainable fisheries:

The seafood sector supports effective marine conservation, its Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said today.

He was commenting on today’s release of a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

The proposals would cut commercial fishing in the proposed areas. . . 

Easing NZ Dollar Helps Lift Local Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the first sale after the Christmas break of approximately 13,700 bales from the North Island saw a generally firmer market in local terms with 98.5 percent selling.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.3 percent compared to the last sale on 17th December, however compared to the US dollar the New Zealand was back 1.9 percent. This weakening NZ dollar underpinned the market for most types. . . 

Grow Food, Not Lawns's photo.


Rural round-up

December 22, 2015

Federated Farmers praises farmers on Lake Brunner improvement:

Federated Farmers is praising the efforts of local farmers in improving the water quality of the West Coasts largest river, Lake Brunner.

Years of hard work by the Lake Brunner farming community has resulted in the water quality target, set out by the government, being reached five years ahead of schedule.

“The early achievement of the target is a great example of how we can reverse deteriorating water quality when farmers work together to reach a shared objective,” says Federated Farmers West Coast President Katie Milne. . . 

Curse of the Christmas tree – Lachlan Forsyth:

It’s arguably the biggest pest in New Zealand, but one of the least known.

Pinus contorta, otherwise known as wilding pine, may look like a lovely Christmas tree, but it is a vicious weed which is strangling the life out of our forests.

It has already infested seven percent of the country – 1.7 million hectares.

Left unchecked, it’ll infest 20 percent of New Zealand within two decades.

Not to be confused with pinus radiate, the common tree in forestry blocks, pinus contorta is a nasty, twisting tree, and it is rampant. . . 

Rabobank Global Beef Quarterly Q4: Ongoing Tight Supply to Support Prices:

Tight supply will support prices in 2016 as demand is expected to remain firm even though supply pressure is easing. China and the US will be the main import markets to watch in 2016—in particular the strength of demand, given high prices. According to Rabobank’s Global Beef Quarterly Q4 2015 report, Australia, Brazil, India and the US will be the main exporters to watch—in particular the supply of cattle and beef, in response to rebuilding pressures at different points in the cycle.

China continues to play a critical role in the global beef market despite a slowing economy. Although the domestic market has been volatile due to the impact of the grey channel, it will continue to offer sustainable opportunities for the rest of the world. . . 

NZ lamb exports likely to drop this season amid weak demand in China, UK – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farmers are heading for lower returns for their lambs this season amid weakness in the country’s two largest export markets in China and the UK.

While prices for the first of the new season lambs processed in October and November for the UK Christmas chilled market were similar to last year, that won’t be enough to offset weakness in the broader market as the season cranks up to its peak production period from now through till May, according to AgriHQ senior analyst Nick Handley. . . 

1080 report shows poison being used responsibly:

The latest report by the Environmental Protection Authority on the use of 1080 in New Zealand provides further reassurance to the public that the poison is safe and is being used responsibly, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“1080 is a vital tool in protecting our native wildlife, like Kiwi, and preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis. The area of land treated has doubled to almost one million hectares because of the “Battle for our Birds” but with very few incidents. This is a huge credit to the professionalism of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and TBFree New Zealand. . . 

Landcorp inks agreement with iwi for Sweetwater farm in Northland – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, will continue to be involved in the management of Northland farm Sweetwater after iwi take ownership of the property under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Northland iwi Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto will take ownership of the 2,480 hectare property near Kaitaia tomorrow, as part of a 2010 settlement. Landcorp, which has been managing Sweetwater in consultation with the iwi, will continue to provide farm management expertise, livestock and technology under a new joint-management and profit-sharing arrangement, the Wellington-based state-owned enterprise said in a statement. . . 

HBRIC Ltd Update:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC Ltd) is confident it can confirm a preferred investor mix for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme before the end of the year.

HBRIC Ltd told today’s Hawke’s Bay Regional Council meeting that intensive work is being done with three potential investors and it continues to target the end of the calendar year to confirm investors for the scheme. However it says it won’t make the decision public until very early in the New Year. . . 

Kaingaroa Timberlands profit rescued by foreign exchange gain as log prices fall – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Kaingaroa Timberlands, the nation’s biggest forestry business, posted a 37 percent gain in full-year profit as a foreign exchange gain more than made up for a drop in international log prices.

Net profit rose to US$332.8 million in the year ended June 30, from US$243.7 million a year earlier, according to the company’s financial statements. Profit included a US$281 million gain on foreign exchange movements, compared to a year-earlier charge of US$149.7 million. Revenue fell 22 percent to US$355.2 million, of which the bulk came in reduced log sales. . . 

Rural and Southern businesses best place for work life balance:

If you are planning to start a new business in the New Year and still want to have some time to enjoy the best of the Kiwi lifestyle, it could be worth thinking about moving to the country or heading down South.

According to the latest MYOB SME research, a net 54 per cent* of business operators working in rural New Zealand are satisfied with their work/life balance, while only 45 per cent of those working in the city are happy with how they split their time between work and leisure. . . 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2015

West Coast community congratulated for achieving Lake Brunner water quality target:

Lake Brunner’s water quality target has been achieved five years ahead of schedule, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced on the West Coast today.

“The early achievement of the target is a fantastic result and goes to show what can be accomplished when government, local authorities, businesses and local communities collaborate to reach a shared objective,” Dr Smith says.

“The Government has an ambitious plan for stepping up New Zealand’s freshwater management and Lake Brunner is an example of how we can reverse deteriorating water quality. The next steps will be a renewed fund to support community initiatives for improving water quality and a discussion paper in the New Year on how New Zealand can better manage freshwater within limits. . . 

NZ dairy farmers say animal activists are pushing vegan lifestyle – Laura Walters:

Farmers appalled by footage showing the abuse of bobby calves have shared their farming experiences on social media.

In an investigation by Farmwatch and welfare organisation Safe (Save Animals From Exploitation), investigators used hidden cameras to record abuse of calves in the dairy industry.

The graphic footage shows bobby calves being thrown on to trucks and kicked and bludgeoned before they are clubbed to death at an abattoir.

Since the footage aired on Sunday the story has gone global, being picked up by media in Australia, China, the United Kingdom and Europe

Those who claim to be responsible and caring dairy farmers are hitting back at the negative portrayal of the dairy industry. . . 

Fruit fly operation ends, but risk remains:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated MPI staff and the Auckland community for the successful eradication of Queensland fruit fly, but is warning the public to stay on high alert this summer.

“It’s great news this small population has been eradicated and all restrictions are now lifted. It means that New Zealand is officially free of this potentially destructive pest,” says Mr Guy.

“I want to thank local residents in the affected area who have been very patient and followed the instructions around the movement of fresh fruit and vegetables. . . 

AsureQuality mum on reported talks to buy out DTS partners – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – AsureQuality, the state-owned food safety and biosecurity services firm, is staying mum on reports it’s in talks to buy out its partners in Australia’s Dairy Technical Services.

The Australian Financial Review’s ‘StreetTalk’ column, citing unnamed sources, reported Melbourne-based DTS is in talks with 25 percent shareholder AsureQuality over a potential buyout, valuing the food and beverage testing business at between A$80 million and A$100 million. DTS’s other shareholders include Fonterra Cooperative Group, Murray Goulburn Cooperative, and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory.

A spokeswoman for AsureQuality said the state-owned enterprise was “bound by confidentiality” and has no comment to make. . . 

Fonterra Officially Opens New Milk Powder Plant at Pahiatua

Around 300 people came together today to celebrate the official opening of Fonterra Pahiatua’s new high-efficiency plant, now producing milk powder destined for more than 20 markets worldwide.

The plant came online in August this year and has already produced more than 30,000 metric tonnes of high-quality whole milk powder destined for key markets including Sri Lanka and Algeria.

Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy joined local farmers and community members to officially open the new plant. . . 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 


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