Rural round-up

24/08/2021

Covid-19: Level 4 lockdown in the middle of calving ‘not ideal’ – Lawrence Gullery:

Dairy farmers are hoping this week’s snap Covid-19 lockdown will be “short and quick” as most are still in the thick of calving or lambing.

Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said some farms remained short-staffed from last year’s lockdowns and so the physical drain was even greater this winter with fewer people around to help.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the alert level 4 lockdown on Tuesday night and Hahn said it would mean even more isolation for those working on the land at a time when they needed to stay connected.

”So really not ideal but hopefully we can be out of lockdown quickly.” . . 

Farmers are doing their share – Rural News editorial:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has delivered a sobering assessment of our planet’s future.

And like after most climate change reports, the blowtorch is put on the New Zealand dairy industry to do more.

Farmers are required by the Government to reduce methane emissions by 10% from 2017 levels by 2030.

And to deliver on the Zero Carbon Act commitments there’s a lot of work underway to help farmers reduce emissions, through He Waka Eke Noa – a partnership between the primary sector, government and Māori. 

Have policies in place now to protect farms from weather events – Peter Buckley:

I don’t doubt the climate is changing as it always has and that all the current policies and plans the politicians want to implement aren’t going to fix their concerns.

As usual, we continue to see flooding, weather bombs, fires affecting not only New Zealand but the world.

Why don’t these politicians think how can we support our people, communities, towns cities at the local level to adapt to the ever changing climate?

The recent flooding event in Canterbury is an example of where the politicians could have planned to prevent these types of events turning into disasters of this magnitude. . .

Smashed it! Country Calendar couple find the perfect avocado – Melenie Parkes:

It’s an all-too-familiar feeling for avocado fans – chopping into their favourite fruit only to be confronted with brown, blemished or stringy flesh. But that disappointment could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to David and Judi Grey.

The couple, who own Avogrey Avocados in Gisborne which features on Country Calendar this week, have developed three premium products that they promise always deliver perfect texture, great flavour, are larger than your average avo and also won’t oxidise once they are cut open.

“You might think it’s an exaggeration but we have never cut into one of these new varieties and found a blemish,” says David.

“They’re just superb quality. People who try them just won’t go back to any other varieties as long as we’ve got those available. They know the quality is there and the reliability is here. And we’re getting really, really good production from the trees from quite a young age.” . . 

Whanganui-based NZ Hempress to release new cosmetic range – Logan Tutty:

A Whanganui-based hemp company is on the verge of revealing its latest product range and has big plans for the future.

NZ Hempress is set to release its first cosmetic line in the coming weeks, called Herbeauty.

Company owner Lisa Gadsby is keeping the finer details under wraps for the time being.

“We are about three weeks out from launching a face mask and will be moving onto a couple of other additions to that range,” Gadsby said. . . 

 

Calls for safe tractor use as lorry driver shortage hits harvest:

Farmers forced to use their own tractors and trailers for harvest transport because of the current shortage of lorry drivers have been told to ensure safety by regularly checking brakes and hitch mechanisms.

Farmers have been issued advice by NFU Mutual to ensure that tractors and trailers are correctly matched and maintenance schedules are in place to minimise the risk of accidents.

The warning comes as the UK faces disruption to road transport because of a shortage of lorry drivers which is affecting deliveries to supermarkets, hospitality, the construction trade and agriculture.

NFU Mutual has also recommended that all tractor drivers take regular breaks to avoid fatigue and that routes are chosen which avoid congested roads as much as possible.

The warning comes as the UK faces disruption to road transport because of a shortage of lorry drivers which is affecting deliveries to supermarkets, hospitality, the construction trade and agriculture. . .  


Rural round-up

19/08/2021

Howl organisers planning even bigger protest – Sally Rae:

Groundswell New Zealand says it is planning a “major nationwide protest event” in November, following a lack of response by the Government to its concerns.

Although a date was yet to be set and details of the event outlined, spokesman Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said it would be “of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history”.

Last month, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, which was delivered at the protests, gave the Government a month to address the issues, or it would take further action. . . 

Farm dream from bullock wagon – Shawn McAvinue:

A dream to farm in North Otago began on a bullock wagon.

Ray Lawrence was a young boy when grandfather William began teaching him about stockmanship.

‘‘He was a natural — a great stockman.’’

As a teenager, William Lawrence ran bullock wagons between Dunedin and Oamaru and dreamed of farming in North Otago. . .

Southland farmer and his dog to represent NZ :

The trans-Tasman rivalry has reignited once again – this time in the search for the hardest working farm dog.

It’s the first time New Zealand has entered the Cobber Working Dog Challenge, which tracks how hard each canine works over the three-week competition using GPS collars.

One duo representing the country is Josh Tosh and Trix – from Dipton in Southland.

Tosh told Morning Report he has had Trix since she was just 8 weeks old and has trained her up to the hard working 3-and-a-half year old farm dog that she is now. . . 

 

Iwi, industry and government unified in stance to protect mānuka honey in Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Champagne Moment’

Iwi, Government and the Mānuka Honey Industry are unified in their stance to protect the term Mānuka for all New Zealanders following opposition to registration of the term MANUKA HONEY at a hearing at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on 18 August, 2021. “

The goal is to protect the term MANUKA HONEY internationally so that it may only be lawfully used on honey produced in Aotearoa. For Māori, this means that our reo is respected and a precious taonga (treasure) is being honoured and protected. For consumers, it means that they can trust they are getting genuine honey produced in New Zealand from our Mānuka trees. It also protects the industry, export earnings and jobs,” said Pita Tipene, Chair of the Mānuka Charitable Trust (MCT).

“There are some similarities to when wine producers everywhere started branding their sparkling wines as champagne, until the French took ownership. Now anything labelled Champagne must be from that region. For us it runs even deeper because Mānuka is our taonga (treasure) and our reo (language),” said Pita. . . 

Ravensdown invests in future as team focuses on farm environment planning:

Ravensdown is gearing up for the growing demand for farm environment planning and investing in future capabilities. This ongoing investment in future on-farm performance meant the co-operative was unable to meet the previous year’s record profit performance, however last year did end with a satisfying and strong profit of $53 million from continuing and discontinuing operations, before tax and rebate.

The co-operative returned a total of $33 million to its eligible farmer shareholders including $16 million paid as an early interim rebate in June.

“We were right to view 2020-21 with cautious optimism. Our strong result was based on great shareholder support, a hard-working team and an effective strategy,” said Ravensdown’s Chair John Henderson. “Our shipping joint venture and long-term relationships with reliable suppliers proved extremely valuable as the supply disruption resulting from the pandemic impacted so many other industries. Along with sustained focus on product availability, we will continue to invest in the science, technologies and services that can help the agsector thrive into the future,” added John. . . 

Local company secures rights for ground breaking fertiliser:

NZ Premium Health Ltd has been appointed the exclusive New Zealand distributor for Swift Grow, a 100% Australian Certified Organic fish-based fertiliser.

Swift Grow is produced in New South Wales by River Stone Fish Farms. The company’s founder, Genetics Engineer Joseph Ayoub, developed the product in response to what he saw as a diminished fertility of soils, both in domestic and commercial environments.

Ayoub has fond childhood memories of the delightful flavour and aroma of naturally-grown food. “But I noticed that this gradually diminished over time because of decades of intensive commercial farming practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

31/07/2021

‘Better off with M bovis’ – farmer relays concerns to O’Connor – Adam Burns:

I wouldn’t want to go through this again.”

This was the enduring feeling for dairy farmer Laurence Rooney who believes he would have been better off if his farm caught M. bovis after “taking a hit” for the Ashburton town during the May floods.

Laurence and Philippa Rooney received a fleeting visit from the Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday to his flood-ravaged Ashburton Forks property and are facing a long farming and financial road after losing half of its herd during the May 30-31 Canterbury floods.

Rooney said it was good to illustrate the scale of the impact to the Minister. . .

There’s no escape from climate change – and NZ should brace for the tariffs imposed by our trading partners to deal with it – Point of Order:

When a magazine as authoritative as The Economist  heads   up   its  lead  “No Safe Place” ,   even  climate  change  deniers  should  sit  up  and  take  notice.

The  Economist”  says  the  most terrible  thing   about the  spectacular scenes of  destruction that  have played out  around  the  world  over recent  weeks  is  that there  is  no  safe place  from  which  to  observe  them.

“The  ground under the German  town of Erftstadt is torn apart like tissue paper by flood  waters; Lytton in British Columbia  is  burned  from the map just a  day after setting  a freakishly  high temperature record; cars  float  like  dead fish  through the streets-turned-canals in  the Chinese  city  of Zhengzhou. All  the  world  feels  at risk,  and  most  of  it  is”.

NZ   had  its  own   headline:  “The  Buller River  recorded  largest NZ  flood  flows in  almost 100  years”. . . 

Commitment to biomass big in the south – Mary-Jo Tohill:

With this week’s announcement that the Fonterra Stirling plant would be converting to biomass energy, South Otago looks to be leading the way in showing a multimillion-dollar commitment to sustainability with many of the major manufacturing plants moving to wood-burning boilers or alternative energy sources. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

Clydevale

Clydevale-based infant milk formula makers Danone Nutricia NZ expected to commission its $30 million biomass boiler in the last quarter of 2021, sustainability communication and stakeholder relations manager Helen de Laguiche said.

This was originally planned for August, but the project had faced delays because of Covid-19 restrictions in Oceania.

The South Otago wing of the French food company recently completed installation of the main equipment and a 75m long conveyor belt system. So far, more than 300 tonnes of building steel had been erected. . .

Sustainable agriculture finance guidance launched :

Rural bank finance will increasingly be guided by sustainability considerations including climate change mitigation and adaptation, water use, waste minimisation, labour rights and animal welfare following today’s launch of the Sustainable Agriculture Finance Initiative (SAFI) guidance.

ASB, ANZ, BNZ, Rabobank and Westpac, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) joined forces in early 2020 to develop the SAFI guidance, to improve the flow of sustainable finance to New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

The SAFI guidance is intended to support a framework, from the finance sector, for integrating sustainability considerations into funding for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . .

Carbon farming steps forward on the North Island hard hill country – Keith Woodford:

In recent months I have been analysing New Zealand sheep and beef farming to try and understand the changing scene. Here, I shift the focus to carbon farming on the North Island hard-hill country where sheep and beef currently predominate.

In this article I am not looking at lumber because much of the hard-hill country has lumber problems arising from logging costs and associated infrastructure. Rather, I am focusing on permanent pine forests and asking whether the economics now stack up.

In telling this story I am going to be challenged by some people who hate pine trees and also by others who love them but have a focus on lumber. Here, I am not taking sides on either of those issues. My approach is simply to report what the carbon numbers are saying. . . 

Acting the goat comes naturally to Ralph – Sally Rae:

This is the story of Ralph the goat.

Ralph is no ordinary goat. He resides on a farm near Weston, in North Otago, where he lives the proverbial life of Riley.

His life could have been so very different — in fact, his name could well be Lucky — given he was spotted during a goat culling trip.

His story begins in June last year, in Central Otago, where feral goats were common pests. . .

Kiwi avocado company wins internationally acclaimed award:

Te Puna-based avocado oil producer, Grove, has been granted the Superior Taste Award with two stars for its Extra Virgin Avocado Oil by the prestigious International Taste Institute in Brussels, Belgium.

The jury of the International Taste Institute, composed of over 200 of the world’s best chefs and sommeliers, gather every year to flavour test, evaluate and certify the taste of food and drinks from around the world. The jury follows a rigorous blind-tasting methodology in which product samples are anonymised to avoid any scoring biases.

Greg Ryan, Grove’s Business Development Manager, says that the award announcement has highlighted the quality of their avocado oil and created a buzz within the business. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/06/2021

Was the cost really worth it – ODT editorial:

Albert Einstein once said, “I don’t need to know everything, I just need to know where to find it, when I need it.”

In the case of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ response to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, it plundered on, ignoring those with the practical knowledge it desperately needed, and leaving a path of trauma in its wake.

A two-year University of Otago-led study has recently been completed on the psychosocial impact of the bacterial cattle disease on rural communities in the South.

Excerpts make harrowing reading, including the farmer interviewed who struggles to remember the birth of his fourth child in the midst of the outbreak, and the dominant theme of the “intrusive, inpractical and inhumane” nature of the MPI eradication programme. . .

The human side of M bovis – Nicola Dennis:

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Many South Island farmers got a very good look at that road as the Government “helped” them through the Mycoplasma bovis (M bovis) eradication programme. So far, there have been over 171,600 cattle forcibly slaughtered from 260 farms. 

A recent University of Otago study found that the “poorly managed government response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak inflicted significant and lasting trauma on farmers”. 

If you farm in the South Island, where 75% of the culled properties were located, then this finding is no surprise. The heavy-handed, whole-herd eradication strategy that MPI adopted cast a very wide net. In addition to “depopulating’’ farms, a further 2000 properties were thwarted by movement restrictions and many more were under the scrutiny of “active surveillance”.

If Southern farmers weren’t directly involved, or consoling someone who was, then they were at least feeling it via the sluggish cattle prices over the past three years. . . 

Nurturing New Zealand’s future farmers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I want to tell you about a great initiative out there because it’s a good idea and it’s an uplifting story.

Like many industries, the sheep and beef sector has struggled to get enough quality young folk to enter the industry as a career choice.

Near here we have Smedley Station, which has a two-year cadet training programme and has 13 cadets graduate from the course each year.

Up in Gisborne is the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust, which sees five young people graduate from their course annually. And there are other worthy cadet courses scattered around the country too. . .

New business hits spot at right time – Toni Williams:

Lucy Gilbert has a bounce in her step and a shine in her eyes.

She and friend Tash Andrews, of Timaru, started grazing table and platter business Fern & Feta Platters, bringing joy and wonder where it matters: via clients’ stomachs. And business is booming.

It belies a turbulent ride the 31-year-old has been on over the past 18 months.

While married to dairy farmer Nick Gilbert, Lucy has gone from being a top-performing travel agent, managing Flight Centre Ashburton, to losing her job as a Covid casualty then welcoming a much-loved newborn into the world but suffering postnatal depression. . .

Truffle hunt in full swing with expectations of supply outstripping demand – Hugo Cameron:

Truffle hunters are putting nose to the dirt as the harvest for the elusive fungus gets into full swing, with some expecting to find more than they can sell this season.

According to the Tuffle Association, there are over over 300 truffle farms, known as truffières, in New Zealand, including dozens of growers who supply to the hospitality industry.

Maureen Binns, husband Colin and trained truffle-hunting dog Jed collect the fungus from beneath more than 200 trees on their Paengaroa property near Tauranga.

Binns said the harvest started weeks early this year due to requests from a prominent Auckland chef – and supply might outstrip demand. . .

Grain-fed beef’s big potential hinges on knowing the customer and the competition – Shan Goodwin:

As cattle producers rebuild their herds, many are looking towards the promising potential emerging from fast-growing and lucrative global grain-fed beef demand.

Those turning off steers producing some of the best daily weight gains in feedlots say the unfolding dynamics in export markets at the moment are presenting some of the best opportunities for grain-fed beef they’ve seen in their lifetime.

Producers who entered steers in this year’s Royal Queensland Show Paddock to Palate competition notched up average daily gains in the late 2 kilograms and some in excess of 3 kilograms. . .


Rural round-up

09/06/2021

Drugs, biofuel and handbags: meat byproducts are big business – Bonnie Flaws:

Meat byproducts such as tallow, collagen and blood are increasingly earning money for farmers; last year $1.6 billion worth of byproducts were exported, 17 per cent of the value of total meat exports, figures from the Meat Industry Association show.

Typically, animals are cut into four quarters for butchery of prime and secondary cuts. But it is what is known in the industry as the “fifth quarter” that has become a new focus for the sector.

Farmer co-operative Alliance Group global sales manager Derek Ramsey is responsible for extracting maximum value from the carcass and making sure every part is used.

Byproducts of the meat industry such as animal fat (tallow) are marketed as ‘‘specialty ingredients and materials’’. . . 

Wallaby eradication efforts being boosted – Rebecca Ryan:

Wallaby control efforts in Otago are being ramped up this month.

With funding from the $27 million national wallaby eradication programme, the Otago Regional Council is targeting the Kakanui Mountains, the Shag River (between Kyburn and Dunback), the Dunstan Mountains and from the Lindis Pass to Lake Hawea, using ground and aerial-based contractors to collect data on where wallabies are present, and destroy those sighted.

ORC biosecurity manager and rural liaison Andrea Howard said the long-term goal was eradication — and the council was optimistic it could be achieved.

“We’re in the privileged position of collecting information about the extent of the problem, rather than having to try and contain the problem,” Ms Howard said. . . 

Government should take lead on where carbon farming is allowed – Waitaki mayor :

The Waitaki mayor wants the government to change the rules on where carbon farming is allowed.

This week, more than 150 people attended a public meeting in Oamaru to hear about what the council can do about new proposals for carbon farming.

That is the practice of keeping the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and instead sequestering (or capturing and storing) it in, for example, pine plantations.. . 

The curious case of kill rates – Nicola Dennis:

This season’s steer and heifer kill has been off the chart, with the latest slaughter statistics (current to May 8) showing over 776,000 slaughtered throughout New Zealand since the season started in October. Compare this with last year’s record-high of 649,000hd for the same period or the five-year average of 618,000.

Depending on how you slice it, there has been an extra 127,000-158,000 of prime cattle in the supply chain this season. This is in spite of a very high prime kill last season, which probably tidied up most of the drought-affected cattle from last spring.

A boost in supply will always negatively impact farm gate beef prices. But, this season’s oversupply coincided with a major slump in processor demand driven by the shuttering of most of the world’s restaurants and by major disruptions in international shipping. This is why farm gate beef prices were struggling to surpass last year’s lockdown prices for much of the season. . . 

Meat the Need marks one-year milestone – Annette Scott:

One year on from its inception, Meat the Need has donated more than 400,000 red meat meals to food banks throughout New Zealand.

Meat the Need became a nationwide charity after being successfully piloted in Christchurch amid the covid-19 crisis.

The charity, created by YOLO Farmer Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures, enables farmers to help feed Kiwi families in need by providing the means for them to donate livestock through its charitable supply chain.

Langford says the high level of support from the farming community, alongside the support from meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF), has been key to the charity’s success. . .

New study helps reassess beef’s environmental impacts:

New research has shown how beef from temperate grassland systems provides key nutrients for human health – and how this data could help reassess the meat’s green impact.

The study examined the three pasture systems most regularly used in temperate regions – permanent pasture, grass and white clover and a short-term monoculture grass ley.

Researchers then analysed datasets from each to determine the levels of key nutrients in beef each system will provide.

Results suggest that each temperate system analysed is broadly comparable, which means temperate pasture-based beef could be treated as a single commodity in future impact considerations. . .


Quotes of the month

01/06/2021

If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office. – Danyl Mclauchlan

Are we, as mere minions of this Labour government, just voters not to be trusted with a report that suggests a fundamental change to New Zealand society? Peter Williams

Frankly, we have to have a major talk in this country about two things – what is self-determination, and what is indigenous? And until we have those defined we really can’t go any further can we? – Peter Williams

This government has no moral authority to tell private sector employers that they have to quote ‘improve wages,’ when they themselves are not going to do it for the next three years.  Something’s going to have to give; either this government abandons the wage freeze or abandons the fair pay agreements.

But they cannot tell businesses around this country to do something they are not prepared to do. The hypocrisy is blinding. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

As it stands, I don’t trust the media and I’m in it, but I trust bits and in that is the key.

Trust requires work. The media as a whole in this country is in a parlous and decaying state. Journalism sadly is frequented by too many inexperienced people, naïve people, thick people, and people on band wagons. – Mike Hosking

Unions have good reason to celebrate. Their power will soon outstrip what would be justified by their membership. It will take much longer for better conditions to be felt by large numbers of workers.

Given the sheer number of public sector workers likely to be hit by the pay freeze, this week appears to have been much more about improving the strength of unions than it was about helping workers.Hamish Rutherford

This Labour Government is growing more interventionist by the day. It has not met a problem it doesn’t think can be solved through more centralisation, regulation, bureaucracy, and more power in the hands of the Government. – Scott Simpson

It seems odd and increasingly criminal we can be recognised for a solid Covid response but because of our own fear and lack of planning cut ourselves out of the joining the rest of the world. – Mike Hosking

You know how the whole cancel thing works, right? It’s pretty simple. First you do a bit of due diligence on a scheduled speaker or soon-to-be-published author. Find something ropey they once said (easy in my case, but I’m only an email away if anyone needs direction). Then head for the open sewer running through the Dickensian lunatic asylum that is Twitter. Declare yourself upset beyond belief. Don’t worry about grammar or humour or context or any of that boring stuff. Repetition is what counts. Consider hammering the point home with an amazingly colourful word that rhymes with “bunt”. And don’t forget to use a nifty hashtag. – David Cohen

Cancel culture goes after writers by harnessing something old (the desire of the mob to scalp dissenters) with something relatively new (the ubiquity of social media) and something else that sounds rather borrowed (crypto-religious demands for demonstrations of public piety). And as the former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon pointed out the other day, while the language the ringleaders use to rally the troops is often collectivist, the tone is all Me Me Me. Every second sentence seems to start with a, “Speaking as a …” – David Cohen

But is opinion what it’s about anyway? More and more, it seems to me, what’s happening doesn’t seem to be in the interests of fostering the vigorous exchange of views or even correcting people who may have got something significantly wrong. At heart, I think, cancel culture is part of a wider linguistic turf war currently being fought on many fronts over who gets to control the language.  David Cohen

I’m not a Labour Party Māori or an on-the-marae Māori. I can be pretty frank about that, there’s reasons for that, I just wasn’t brought up that way. These are things we all have to reconcile in our heads but what is true is it doesn’t make me less Māori. We don’t think you’re only Scottish if you wear a kilt.  It’s a free world, my whakapapa is what it is, and I’m proud of it. – Simon Bridges

There is also always a place for punishing those who traumatise others, who destroy the lives of other people, who kill, murder, rape.Those things must be treated with the force of the law, and I won’t apologise for that. – Nicola Willis

I have to say, to blow the health system up when you’re trying to vaccinate 4 million people, that’s not particularly clever timing, is it? . . . This lack of planning, I mean, this is an iterative problem. We’ve got to take it away from politicians and away from doctors like me – may I add – and put it in the hands of professional governors and managers.Des Gorman

Yes there is an argument that vaccination has most application in countries with rampant disease, but there’s an equally strong argument we’re like a shag on a rock, and we’ll be a shag on a rock until we’re vaccinated, and our economy suffers. The next GFC, the next earthquake in Christchurch, we can’t buffer it. – Des Gorman

For the most open honest transparent government, things haven’t been looking too transparent of late. The pulpit of ‘truth’ is proving a stretch, are they being ‘too definitive?’ – Kate Hawkesby

This is why everyone should fight against cancel culture. Everyone has led lives of imperfection. I want a society that doesn’t judge people by the worst thing they have ever done, but by their overall contribution. – David Farrar

This, of course, is the great weakness of unionism. Most pay rises are not productivity based; they are threat based. Pay us or we are out. – Mike Hosking

So just who is it they’re appealing to? Do you have the same trouble British Labour now has? There isn’t a working-class Kiwi who would touch them. It’s the party of socialist ideologues who hang out at universities, NGOs, and pressure groups.

This smacks of whack-a-mole government. No vision, no big picture, no strategy, just a trail of bewildered, disowned, and disenfranchised supporters who no longer know who they’re dealing with. – Mike Hosking

The window of opportunity for New Zealand to attract talent is evaporating rather rapidly as the developed world becomes vaccinated.- Peter Gluckman

Also if you can print me a steak, you can also print me up a takahe drumstick or a slab of whale. I could munch on endangered animals with impunity. There is a small, but creepy, seam of wannabe cannibals on the internet who are also excited about this avenue. – Nicola Dennis

And there you have the three reasons people help others: they’re bullied, they’re paid, or they love. – Rodney Hide

Why they matter is because these stats drive taxation/redistribution policies. They influence how much is taken from Paul to give to Peter. Doesn’t matter how hard Paul worked, what sacrifices he made, how careful he was not to have more children than he could personally afford to raise. If he is defined as ‘rich’ and Peter is ‘poor’ you know the outcome. – Lindsay Mitchell

What has suddenly changed is the slavish, craven and witless embrace of identity politics that has swept through government, academia, the media, the arts, the corporate sector and even sport. – Karl du Fresne

The advertising business likes to celebrate itself as edgy, idiosyncratic and anarchic, but it strikes me as deeply conformist, risk-averse and prone to groupthink. Its suspiciously abrupt, across-the-board conversion to the virtues of diversity suggests much the same level of fearlessly independent thought as you’d find in a mob of romney ewes. – Karl du Fresne

And I’m sorry, but as long as Labour ministers like Chris Hipkins just don’t care whether our money is wasted in uneaten school lunches, as long as that happens, Labour will be perceived to be the party that just throws cash away. Pay freeze the nurses all you like, that perception will stick, because it’s warranted.Heather du Plessis Allan

A state broadcaster rigorously excluding any and all voices dissenting from the official line, is something most New Zealanders would expect to encounter in Moscow or Beijing – not in Wellington. – Chris Trotter

Vegans and vegetarians are the gullible foot soldiers for the processed food industry and religious ideology. – Dr Gary Fettke

History has us at our healthiest from a metabolic aspect when our diets were predominantly animal based. – Dr Gary Fettke

Generally, plant-based diets require supplementation for at least vitamin B12 and iron. It’s almost not fair to compare beef and rice. To get the protein in 200 grams of beef you need to eat nearly a kilogram of rice, and still you would be missing the micronutrients.Dr Gary Fettke

We often get people in this country whom we consider – and I hate the word – but we often call them ‘low value’ but they work hard and they have incredible work ethics and that goes through to their children – Erica Stanford

They are starting a new life. There is always that sword of Damocles hanging over them. They have got to keep working hard to stay here to get their residence and they do – they know this is a new chance, a new life and they do work very, very hard.

These people were quite vulnerable. They didn’t have any rights. They didn’t know the system. Sometimes they couldn’t speak English very well and they would often make mistakes or get themselves in trouble and just being able to help them and change their lives was so rewarding. – Erica Stanford

Right now the top priority for New Zealand is to make this country the most desirable place for migrants to want to come to because if we want the best migrants, which we do, the most skilled, the ones that have a lot to offer our economy and our society, we need to be their best option and right now, we are far from that.  – Erica Stanford

 I am quite close to this but I can’t turn away. I cannot turn away. How can you turn away from their grief and their anxiety and their stress? A lot of them have terrible mental health problems and are beside themselves because they haven’t seen their partners and their children.

“I can’t turn away turn away from that. I can’t walk away. I can’t not scream from every rooftop, every chance I get to give these guys a road map to reunification so they can see their families again. – Erica Stanford

The world isn’t rejecting left-leaning progressive thinking for no reason, they’re rejecting it because it doesn’t work. – Mike Hosking

We’ve got to make sure we’re taking an approach to it that doesn’t lead to some particularly grim financial outcomes, which a lot of what we’ve seen in recent times certainly do. 

We need to make sure people have an appreciation of what those things mean. Some people are happy to accept the cost being worn by someone else, rather than contributing themselves, and we’re hearing a lot of that in the zero carbon space. – Jared Ross

The government is not only doing too much, it is doing too much of that too much too badly – Eric Crampton

With New Zealand’s democracy now white-anted by racist policies, we will also deservedly become a laughing stock if our politicians and bureaucrats continue to pay obeisance to primitivism.  – Amy Brooke

The kind of values needed to raise children with their wellbeing absolutely utmost cannot be learned from a government. They cannot be replaced by unearned income. – Lindsay Mitchell

Give a family another $20 or $50 a week and, hey presto – just like that – 33,000 children are lifted out of poverty. In itself that is heartless isn’t it? That poverty is only measured by money. But is the life of those 33,000 kids going to be noticeably better in 12 months time? I would doubt it unless the attitude and approach to life of their parents or caregiver had shifted significantly. Will that person have made moves to get a job? To make the children’s lunch? To ensure they go to school at least 90 percent of the time?  – Peter Williams

If it takes “true grit” to be Opposition leader, then Judith Collins has it in spades. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is not racist to suggest that proposals such as those contained in the He Puapua report should be openly debated rather than sitting in some drawer in a Cabinet Minister’s office.Fran O’Sullivan

It was hard to give the Budget much credence after reading the Auditor-General’s report on the Covid-19 vaccination programme this week. The gulf between word and deed in Government has probably never been greater.

From the moment the Cabinet gave the vaccination programme entirely to the Ministry of Health you just knew it wouldn’t turn out well. Ministries these days do what the Auditor-General calls “high-level” planning. He doesn’t mean high quality, he means the plans made on high that do not get down to the harder work of deciding exactly who will do what, when, where and how. – John Roughan

“High-level” planning isn’t just disconnected from practice on the ground, it thinks up needless things that get in the way of practical work. But mostly it just wastes time and high salaries thinking of the bleeding obvious.  – John Roughan

Being in Parliament sometimes feels a bit like a kindergarten. There are squabbles, the occasional tantrum, and many questions that can seem quite repetitive to the public, and irritating to the Government too. The ability to question is vital for democracy. As politicians, it’s our job to question the policies and intentions of the Government in order to make sense of where we’re heading as a country. What laws will the Government pass? What problem are they trying to solve? How will the change impact the life of a child just starting school, the pocket of a solo mum, the small business owner struggling to find staff and pay taxes? How will we know if the policy’s been a success or failure? – Brooke van Velden

It is not racist to question policy that creates two systems for New Zealanders. Brooke van Velden

I want to live in a country where we can acknowledge our differences and seek better outcomes for all children regardless of race. It’s time to focus on our common humanity rather than constantly looking for division. We need better ideas, and to have honest conversations. Accusing others of racism when they challenge your idea is simply lazy. It stifles debate and breeds resentment.

It speaks to a growing sentiment I’m hearing across New Zealand. People are more and more cautious to express their opinions because others choose to take offence at ideas they don’t support. We should all be respectful in the way we deal with each other, whether we agree or disagree. We should show leadership by standing up for the ability to freely think and ask questions in our Parliament. How can we teach our children the importance of critical thinking, if we don’t expect it from our leaders? – Brooke van Velden

The issue should not be about race, as some would like to make it out to be. It is about which vision is more likely to give every child born in New Zealand the best chance to succeed. I don’t really care if our country is called New Zealand or Aotearoa. How about we focus on the outcomes for kids?Brooke van Velden

Can I give Craig, your good selves and, for that matter, the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, a last piece of media advice? Do not endlessly and obsessively relitigate a losing argument. Take it on the chin. Move on. The public have short memories and it is sometimes possible to rebuild your reputation. Keep arguing a lost cause and you will not. – Bill Ralston

If, as looks increasingly likely, the vaccination programme turns out to be another KiwiBuild rather than another Covid elimination effort, all bets are off. Ardern had better hope Robertson’s announcement of the $1.4b for the vaccination programme turns out to be one of those old-fashioned Budget initiatives that turn out to be at least somewhat correlated with reality.- Matthew Hooton

The people who feed this misinformation online have no idea what it is like to live through a deadly virus.  We could have died, and we would have been a loving memory for our whānau, but we lived, and we lived with side effects. Death is a clean option.

Surviving is the hard and dangerous part. Those keyboard warriors don’t know what survival means – that fight is forever. And we see that with Covid-19 survivors most have recovered from the immediate effects but [some] have ongoing side effects that are far more damaging than anything else.

So when they say [on social media] Covid won’t kill you, they don’t realise that death is the clean way out and surviving is the scary part. John Forbes

Getting vaccinated isn’t about just you, it’s about protecting the ones you love. It’s an act of aroha. –  Maea Marshall

Getting doctors and nurses into poorly-serviced regions will improve Māori health. Economic growth that lifts New Zealanders out of poverty will improve Māori health. Better education will. Vaccinations will. Actually, building decent housing will. Shifting all health decisions to Wellington will not. – Judith Collins

National’s view is that every dollar spent must be spent on growing New Zealand’s economy. This is the key difference between National and Labour.Labour spends money on initiatives designed to keep people dependent on government. National spends on money on initiatives that empower New Zealanders by creating opportunities for every individual, every family, and every whānau to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives.Judith Collins

For the record, disparities are a statistical observation: they don’t think or act. They can’t themselves be racist. They are a fact. They can no more be racist than a rock or the sun.  – Rodney Hide

Everything measured differs on average from group to group. It would be odd if it didn’t. But the difference now is racism. It doesn’t require anyone past or present to have done anything racist. It requires averages only to differ. It’s difficult to know what to do about racist numbers. Would racism be reduced if I took up smoking? Or got fatter?Rodney Hide

But we should take comfort in another racist disparity: Maori women are more likely to be married or partnered to a non-Maori than a Maori. The same is true for Maori men. We are not just brothers and sisters but husbands and wives raising children together, living together, working together.

The government and the media are running a separatist agenda. It appears they are making a good play as they make up the daily news. But they are not. That’s because the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Together.  – Rodney Hide

Labour and compliance issues aside, water in all its components, quality and quantity, is one of the major issues currently facing the rural sector, and for that matter, most of the urban centres throughout the countryBrian Peacocke

 The draft has the air of a 21st century revival of the 18th century Enlightenment concept of the ‘noble savage’, children of nature in an undisturbed state. – Philip Temple

The impact and lasting influence of the Musket Wars on New Zealand history, right up to the present day, need to be understood. If we are to teach our country’s history honestly, usefully and in a balanced way then the accounts and lessons from scholarship such as Ron Crosby’s Forgotten Wars must be included along with what one media outlet describes as ‘Our Story’ of the crimes and misdemeanours of British colonisers. We need a warts’n all history about the whole of ‘Our Story’, Pākehā  and Māori. For our children, we do not need a curriculum that tiptoes through myths of goodies and baddies with the omission of whole tranches of history. They – indeed everybody – need a set of interwoven truths we can all understand, relate to and accept. Philip Temple

It has become the norm for people of part-Maori descent to recite iwi connections, but without any reference to their European lineage. That inconvenient part of their ancestry is routinely erased.

I say “inconvenient” because I suspect it suits many part-Maori activists not to acknowledge their bicultural heritage, the reason being that their bloodlines demonstrate that New Zealand is a highly integrated society. This conflicts with their aim of portraying us as intrinsically and irreparably divided, with one side exerting dominance over the other. – Karl du Fresne

The truth, to put it in simple terms, is that we’re all in this together. We’re all in the same waka.

If this were truly a racist country, those “Maori” activists with distinctly European features and Anglo-Saxon surnames – testimony to a high degree of historical intimacy between Maori and Pakeha – would not be here. They exist because somewhere in their past, Maori and European partners were attracted to each other and procreated on equal and willing terms. That hardly seems indicative of a racist society. – Karl du Fresne

It suits 21st century agitators to overlook the fact that they carry the DNA of their supposed colonial oppressors and therefore have inherited their supposedly racist legacy. But if those of us who are descended solely from European colonisers carry the taint of racism, then so do they. Have they disowned their Pakeha bloodlines, or are they in denial? Do they, in dark moments of the soul, confront their forebears’ wicked acts as colonisers? I keep waiting for someone to explain how they reconcile these contradictions, but I suspect it’s easier to ignore them. –  Karl du Fresne

This selective exploitation of racial heritage is just one of many awkward incongruities and half-truths that go unremarked in the divisive propaganda with which New Zealanders are bombarded daily.- Karl du Fresne

None of this should be taken as meaning we shouldn’t honour and respect our Maori heritage. It is a rich part of our history and one that’s too often invisible, certainly to most Pakeha.Karl du Fresne

The truth is that a great deal of beneficial cross-fertilisation has taken place between Maori and Pakeha, and a deep reservoir of mutual goodwill accumulated. Most New Zealanders would probably agree this is something unique in the world and worth preserving. We should steadfastly resist those who place it at risk by trying to drive us into angry opposing camps.  – Karl du Fresne

The reason I am so concerned about our cyber education is simple; the Internet is our new border and we are at a growing risk of malicious damage to our nation through online actors then we are now through our airports, particularly during COVID times. Millions upon millions is lost out of our economy due to the damage that one email with a virus can contain and we must do more. The State has to take far more responsibility as our democracy, our health and ultimately, our lives are now at risk. It is not hyperbole to say that when clinics and hospitals across the Central North Island are facing one of the greatest crisis our nation has seen. – Melissa Lee

Ultimately, this situation goes beyond the Labour Government not doing their job. It is seeing individual New Zealanders being harmed at their most vulnerable being forced to travel the length of the country for medical treatment and with growing anxiety about what unknown hackers know about their personal lives. – Melissa Lee

If gangs are trying to get me sacked, I must be doing something right – Simeon Brown

 My dad was a meter reader. There wasn’t a lot of money to buy books, but we were a reading family. Library books were piled by each bed, beside the bath and on the dining table where we propped them against the teapot and read, rather than risk the conversations that would turn inevitably to argument. Library books were our salvation, our way out, our way up.  – Fiona Farrell

Libraries are many things to many people, but for me as a writer, they have been primarily a resource, like Mitre 10 for a builder or a patch of bush for an eager botanist. Their contents have formed the foundation for everything I have written over 30 years. The internet has its uses, but the things I read online always feel curated, universally available, ordinary. I encounter everything in an identical format, on the same screen, with the same levels of light and intensity. A library shelf lined with books, however, is eccentric. A book is such a perfect geometry, narrow and rectangular, to contain fact or fancy, word or image. A library shelf presents the possibility of random juxtapositions, discovery, surprise. I value that. Fiona Farrell

Freedom of speech in a democracy means having to tolerate the expression of diverse views. It works in both ways, people are entitled to voice their views and others are entitled to criticise those views, but they should be able to speak nonetheless. – Judith Collins

Health and safety should not be allowed to be used as an excuse to ‘deplatform’ speakers unless there are threats to physical safety. . . The small vocal group of self-appointed opinionators who complained about this need to mind their own business and let adult citizens in a free society mind theirs. David Seymour

For if despite everything, immigrants or people of immigrant descent, especially those of different races, are prospering and integrating well into society, there is no need of a providential class of academics, journalists, bureaucrats, and others to rescue them from the slough of despond supposedly brought about by prejudice and discrimination. Many a career opportunity would be lost if there were no systemic injustices of this sort to untangle. –  Theodore Dalrymple

The aggregation of all ethnic minorities into a single category (when there are sufficient numbers of each for meaningful disaggregation to be undertaken) is designed to disguise or hide the real differences between the minorities, precisely because if such differences were admitted, they would not only threaten, but actually refute the whole worldview of the providential class, namely that the society is so riddled with prejudice and discrimination that something akin to a revolution is required, rather than, say, dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis as they arise. – Theodore Dalrymple

For the providential class, nothing succeeds like the failure of others: it therefore needs there to be perpetual grounds for grievance by minorities, creating a constituency that looks for salvation by political means. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is a huge issue of fairness and independence with this local Government process alone.  The consultative process of local government is usually along the lines of – “Tell us whether you agree with what we have decided” and therein lies the problem. Genuine consultation has to occur at the formative stages which simply doesn’t happen or is rare to say the least. – Gerry Eckhoff

I have a term for it: Righteous prohibition.

I define that as the willing – or enforced – suppression of information because people believe it may have negative effects. It ranges from preventing a man from whipping up a lynch mob to neutralising a language because specifics may make a small number of people feel excluded. – Gavin Ellis

Paraphrased, that means legislators are hard-pressed to draught laws that define hate speech in such a way that society is protected while its rights and freedoms are held intact.

Unfortunately, hate speech is what we want it to be. The devil is in the definition. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt. – Gavin Ellis

People can lose their jobs or find themselves cancelled when labelled as racist (whether or not they are), or prejudiced against different sexes, or religions. Yet as a Christian in a Christian country you may not wear a cross on a chain, though you may wear a hijab or a turban. –  Valerie Davies

These are strange and apocalyptic times. There is no stopping the human tide of peoples who want a piece of the peace and plenty and prosperity of Europe. But perhaps they have to make some compromises in order to preserve that way of life. It is ironic that so called liberals have castigated and condemned the past, decrying the evils of colonialism, while ignoring the hospitals and schools, railways and roads, law and order that colonialism brought to so many corners of the globe; while at the same time too, so many people in deprived places around the world, want to be part of the very culture and society that western protesters of all kinds and colours and beliefs sneer at. Yet until much maligned colonialism arrived, tribes in Africa, for example, faced the same poverty and oppression, murder and mayhem from their own people, that so many refugees are fleeing now. –  Valerie Davies

But we can create our own world of goodness and human connection. The human connection is what in the end sustains us, and always will, whatever lies ahead. As we all take this unavoidable evolutionary leap into the void of the future, we have each other. Valerie Davies

It would be nice to think that opinions in this forum and others are the result of expertise, scrupulous consideration of all the facts, relevant experience and an understanding of all factual material and different perspectives.

I suspect, however, that most opinions are more the result of feeling than thinking. That is not to say there is always a right opinion but rather that temperament and emotion play a much bigger role in opinion than we would like to think. It’s said that character is your fate. It might also be said that character is your opinion. Facts used to support a view are often chosen to support a stance, after the stance has formed. – Martin van Beynen

As an opinion writer, it’s easier to identify what you oppose rather than what you support. I don’t like being told I’m to blame. I don’t like zealots and young know-nothings telling me what to do. I don’t like wokeness or virtue signalling or cancelling people for some trivial perceived infringement of current sensibilities. I don’t like being told I’m privileged or that I had it too good because of being pale and male. I don’t like tailoring my views to suit a new zeitgeist. I don’t like the implication that everything done to improve people’s lives prior to the latest orthodoxy has been a disastrous failure and that some new system will bring in a utopia.Martin van Beynen

Rapid change, particularly the sort of changes New Zealand is experiencing at the moment, implies we should feel guilty, ignorant, outdated and prejudiced if we want to take a more sceptical and contrary line.

And yet I realise that society moves on and a new generation taking over will always seem naive and dogmatic to old-timers like me. – Martin van Beynen

I remain very much in favour of free speech with the usual riders. I think the media is too much dominated by a polite conversation with strict self-imposed boundaries on what can be said or tolerated. What we need are some thunderous voices from the silent majority. Declaring some views beyond the pale doesn’t mean they go away. They fester in the dark and grow more potent. No-one has a monopoly on truth and morality.Martin van Beynen

Having failed to teach NZ history properly in the last 50 years, it is important that the curriculum presents the most relevant facts and context, in order that our children can reach a balanced and informed view.   It appears however those involved in drafting the curriculum, have decided to skip that stage and go straight to themes.  This is a terrible mistake. – Barrie Saunders

Third, there is a strong sense running through the document that a primary purpose of studying history is to judge the past (and those in it) rather than to understand it.   Particularly when such young children are the focus, and when the curriculum is designed for use in schools across the country (attended by people of all manner of races, religions, political and ideological views), that focus is misplaced.    Understanding needs to precede attempts at judgement/evaluation, but there is no sign – in this document, or elsewhere in the curriculum – of children being equipped with the tools that, as they move into mature adulthood, will allow them to make thoughtful judgements or (indeed, and often) simply to take the past as it was, and understand how it may influence the country we inhabit today.    There is little or no sense, for example, that one reasonably be ambivalent about some aspects of the past or that some people might, quite reasonably, evaluate the same facts differently. Michael Reddell

If a New Zealand history curriculum is to be anything more than an effort of indoctrination by a group who temporarily hold the commanding heights in the system, this draft should simply be scrapped and the whole process begun again with a clean sheet of paper.  – Michael Reddell

Fourth, not only does the document seem to operate in a mode more focused on evaluation and judgement than on understanding, it seems to champion a particular set of judgements, and a particular frame for looking at the history of these islands (evident, as just a small example, in its repeated use of the term “Aotearoa New Zealand”, a name with neither historical nor legal standing, even if championed at present by certain parts of the New Zealand public sector).     This includes what themes the authors choose to ignore – religion, for example, is not mentioned at all, whether in a Maori context or that of later arrivals, even though religions always (at least) encapsulate key aspects of any culture’s understanding of itself, and of its taboos).   Economic history hardly gets a mention, even though the exposure to trade, technology, and the economic institutions of leading economies helped dramatically lift average material living standards here, for all groups of inhabitants.   Instead, what is presented in one specific story heavily focused on one particular (arguably ahistorical) interpretation and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.  These are contested political issues, on which reasonable people differ, and yet the curriculum document has about it something very much of a single truth.Michael Reddell

We should be deeply suspicious of the phrase “public interest journalism”. It sounds harmless – indeed, positively wholesome – but it comes laden with ideology.

Like “social justice”, it’s a conveniently woolly term with no settled definition. It sounds like something we should have more of. Who couldn’t be in favour of it? But those who promote “public interest journalism” generally have a very clear idea of what they mean, and it’s not necessarily how ordinary people might interpret it.- Karl du Fresne

Public interest sounds noble. I mean, who could object to something being done for the public good? The crucial question, though, is who decides where the public interest lies. That’s the trap with so-called public interest journalism, because it usually reflects a narrow, fixed, elitist and ideologically slanted view of what’s best for the public. Whether or not the public actually wants it is often immaterial. They’re left out of the equation.

To put it another way, public interest journalism is a coded term that disguises an ideological project. Far from viewing the role of journalists as being to convey information in a non-partisan way, advocates of “public interest” journalism regard journalism as a tool for the pursuit of particular goals. – Karl du Fresne

 It’s true that journalism can lead to systemic change, and often does, but that shouldn’t be its purpose. To put it another way, journalism provides the information that often serves as a catalyst for change; but to actively work toward that end leads to the arrogant assumption that idealistic young reporters know what’s best for society and should be free to angle their stories accordingly, emphasising whatever supports their case but excluding evidence or opinions they disagree with. Karl du Fresne

Objectivity in journalism is fashionably denounced as a myth, thereby giving reporters licence to decide what their readers should know and what should be kept from them. The worthy idea that journalists could hold strong personal opinions about political and economic issues but show no trace of them in their work, which used to be fundamental, has been jettisoned.   Karl du Fresne

The PIJF should be seen not as evidence of a principled, altruistic commitment to the survival of journalism, which is how it’s been framed, but as an opportunistic and cynical play by a left-wing government – financed by the taxpayer to the tune of $55 million – for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering and vulnerable. Karl du Fresne

Ask yourself which is preferable: a hollowed-out news media, unable to properly fulfil its functions (which, to all intents and purposes, is what we have now), or a more powerful one whose priorities are determined by apparatchiks of the state? I’m sure I know which presents the greater hazard. Karl du Fresne


Rural round-up

22/05/2021

Feds slam Govt’s immigration plans –  Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers are urging farmers with staffing shortages to write to the Government to outline the effect it was having on their businesses.

The move comes after two announcements from the Government over the past few weeks concerning immigration.

It firstly denied an application by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to bring in 500 skilled migrants to work on dairy farms.

Instead, it approved 125 agricultural machinery operators, below the 400 that is needed. . . 

Treasury to review forestry policy – Neal Wallace:

The Government has approved the sale of 32,644ha of farmland to foreign buyers since 2018 for conversion to forestry under its special policy that encourages overseas investment into the sector.

Information provided by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reveals it approved through the forestry test the purchase by foreign investors of 30 livestock farms for conversion to forestry, and a further 35 existing forestry blocks covering 111,517ha.

The special forestry test was introduced in 2018 as part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement, which effectively streamlines the OIO process for foreign entities wanting to invest in forestry.

The policy is about to be reviewed by the Treasury, says an OIO spokesperson. . . 

South coping with the long dry – Sally Blundell :

The parched paddocks of farms on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula have run out of moisture – nothing is growing. Farmers fear climate change has arrived and have begun adapting the way they work the land.

Tim Davie, director of science at Environment Canterbury, pauses in a stony gulley, a narrow trough between banks of browning grass. It was not what he expected to see.

“I was hoping to show you some water on the Port Hills of Banks Peninsula,” he tells Frank Film. “But there’s nothing here. Normally this pond would be full of water, up to my waist. On the western flank of Pigeon Bay, Edward Aitken of Craigforth farm walks across the parched ground of his sheep and cattle farm. The scenery is dramatic, the hills a uniform brown against a relentlessly blue sky. “These paddocks would normally have new grass and established greenfield crops. They’ve been fallow now since last November. There is absolutely no moisture in the sub-soil.” . .

Budget 2021: Federated Farmers welcome funding, Dairy NZ says it missed the mark:

Biosecurity, agricultural emissions research and farm planning were areas that received a funding boost in yesterday’s Budget.

On the agricultural emissions front, $24 million was committed to research and mitigation technology development, which could include things like methane inhibitors and the breeding of low emission animals.

Meanwhile, $37m would go towards a national farm planning system for farmers and growers, in line with the government’s plan for all farms to have written plans to measure and manage emissions by the end of 2024.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in order to meet its climate and environmental goals, there needed to be a single, easy to use framework. . . 

Women in seed forum :

A recent turn out of women engaged in employment within the Seed Industry shows the future of diversity within the sector is looking good.

The second NZGSTA Women in Seed Forum was held at Riccarton Park Function Centre on the 19th of May and attended by 108 women from the Seed Industry. The roles of these women varied from agronomists, lab technicians, logistics roles, administrative roles, account managers, research technicians, grain traders, farmers and those passionate about the grain and seed industries.

Developed and hosted by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, Executive Councillor Charlotte Connoley said “the purpose of the forum was to provide more opportunities for networking amongst women within the industry in addition to providing a platform for further discussion and collaboration around key challenges and opportunities that face the grain and seed industries.” . . 

Here Come The Girls: Cork students clinch 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition title

Five teenage girls at St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill – who come from non-farming backgrounds – have just been crowned overall winners of the 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition.

Emily O’Donovan, Kelsey Hourigan, Helen Savage, Leah Buckley, and Rachel O’Gorman explored the topic ‘Communicating with the Consumer & Producer’ throughout the course of their 18-month project for the competition.

And, in an effort to educate consumers on the beef process, they created an App called ‘Angus Adventures’ which is available to download from Google Play.

The App focuses on the daily tasks of a farmer in an effort to inform consumers of the work and dedication required to produce Certified Irish Angus beef from farm to fork. . . 


Rural round-up

17/05/2021

Aerial inspection proves farmers well prepared for winter grazing – Peter Burke:

Environment Southland says it’s had good support from the farming community for its fly-over of farms in the region checking there is compliance for the upcoming winter grazing season.

Winter grazing has been in the spotlight in recent years with bad examples of this being highlighted in the media resulting in a major move to get farmers to adopt better management practices when managing stock grazing crops.

Fiona Young, Environment Southland’s land and water services manager, says last year the regional council overflew farms and they were encouraged to do it again by the farming community. She says they recognise that it is a really positive way to reinforce what needs to happen or to highlight potential problems before they happen.

Sustainability, good team helps build better farmers’ :

Dairy Woman of the Year for 2019, Trish Rankin, says sustainable practices and picking the best team have helped her become a better farmer.

“Every year I’ve got more and more involved not just in our own farming business but all these other passions too – the environment, DairyNZ and helping develop waste reduction projects, working with AgRecovery,” says Ranking.

“As I’ve found more gaps where I can help solve a problem, I’ve been happily developing them all.”

Rankin believes that part of looking after the land means striving towards a circular economy. . . 

Risky processes hamper M bovis efforts – Annette Scott:

More than three years in and the Mycoplasma bovis programme is still seeing farming practices that contribute to the spread of the disease.

Insecure property boundaries, mixing cattle on grazing blocks, not recording on and off farm animal movements, sharing milk and colostrum for calves between properties, single NAIT numbers for multiple properties and not recording cattle movements between those properties, shared milking platforms, and inconsistent information from farmers, continue to be risky farming practices that need to change, M bovis programme director Stuart Anderson said.

The M bovis programme has expanded the National Beed Cattle Surveillance project to target surveillance of 2019-born heifers in Canterbury, Otago and Southland.  . . 

The pros and cons of fake meat – Nicola Dennis:

Nicola Dennis examines the different categories of fake meat, including meat grown in a lab and plant based products that look like meat.

I find the fake meat “revolution” fascinating. Not because I am scared that it is going to wipe out the animal agriculture industry and leave me living in a cardboard box. In the unlikely event that the very vocal vegan minority overthrows the other 97-99% of the population, I plan to land on my feet. You were open-minded enough to read one paragraph deep into an article that might say nice things about fake meat, so I think you will also do okay in the vegetable uprising.

No, this immense mash of science and marketing is interesting all on its own, regardless of the supposed threat to my occupation. Plus it’s not all bad news.

Let’s look at the three main categories of meat fakery and what they bring to the table. . .

Mission accomplished for Bremworth’s top man – Hugh Stringleman:

Paul Alston’s departure from the job of Cavalier Corporation chief executive should not reflect poorly on the company’s all-in change in strategy to sustainable natural fibres in carpets and rugs. He spoke to Hugh Stringleman.

Cavalier Bremworth has been redirected on to the crest of a wave of product sustainability running through consumer markets for interior textiles.

Plastics and synthetics have become increasingly decried for their carbon footprints and waste pollution. 

Wool is natural, renewable, recyclable and sustainable. . .

Victorian wins National Kelpie Field Trial Championship :

For the first time in more than 50 years of working dog competitions for the kelpie breed, a woman has won the prestigious Working Kelpie Council National Kelpie Field Trial Championship.

At 26-years-old Bree Cudmore is not only the first woman to win the coveted Australian title, she is also one of the youngest competitors to claim the top honour.

What’s more she secured the win with the first dog she has ever owned.

The Victorian-based livestock overseer stole the spotlight at the 51st championships hosted in Allora, Queensland, after a standout partnership with her four-year-old kelpie, Marista Zoe. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/03/2021

Ongoing disruptions hit processors – Neal Wallace:

Disrupted shipping schedules, labour shortages and dry conditions in parts of the country are starting to hamper meat processing capacity as the season reaches its peak.

The shortage of labour and a squeeze on cold storage space is limiting the ability of companies to work overtime and also forcing further reduced processing of cuts.

“We have adjusted our cut mix in some plants to speed up product flow, but conversely this means we lose the higher-value small cuts, which will ultimately be reflected in the pricing schedule,” Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer told shareholders in a newsletter.

AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says a shortage of skilled workers means processors have had to stop producing premium-earning boneless, tubed shoulders for Japan, instead selling bone-in shoulders to China at lower prices. . .

Dealing with disappointment – Nigel Beckford:

The cancellation of iconic events like Golden Shears and the Southland A&P Show due to Covid alert level changes highlights the need for rural communities to stick together and have a plan B.

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled for the first time in their history. A huge disappointment, not just for the 300 plus competitors, but also for the many rural families who look forward to the event each year.

“It was a huge thing,” says Mark Barrowcliffe, President of the NZ Shearing Contractors Association. He was a judge at last year’s competition and intended to compete at this one.

Our shearing community was only just getting used to being able to catch up again with each other after so many shearing sports events were cancelled last year. So it was a huge disappointment to have the goalposts pulled up again.” . .

Awareness about ovarian cancer is much needed:

A greater awareness of ovarian cancer amongst women and health professionals is much needed says Rural Women New Zealand.

“Ovarian cancer kills more women per year in New Zealand than the road toll, with one woman dying every 48 hours from it, and its not talked about, we need to change this,” says National President Gill Naylor.

“Women present to health services, on average, four or five times before diagnosis is made and 85% of those diagnosed, are diagnosed in the later stage of the disease when options for care are minimal and survival is unlikely – this is not good enough.

“Early detection is possible the signs and symptoms are known and can be as simple as a blood test and in our view, it is vital to build awareness of symptoms through education campaigns for both the general public and health professionals.

“A cervical smear does not detect ovarian cancer and there is a need for a screening programme, timely access to testing for women with symptoms, improved access to approved therapies and clinical trials, and dedicated funding for research. . . 

NZ grown grain project paying off – Annette Scott:

An industry drive to increase the use of New Zealand-grown grain is taking off.

In a project started in 2017, the arable industry has been working towards increasing the use of NZ-grown grain through heightening consumer and end-user awareness of the benefits in using locally grown grain.

Wheat is the specific target.

Wheat production has bumped up by 40,000 tonne over the past three harvests and with this season’s milling wheat harvest showing promising signs, the project is on track. . . 

Kiwifruit growers join foodbank drive :

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI), the industry body which advocates for 2,800 growers, is encouraging its members to pitch in and donate to the most vulnerable through The Foodbank Project.

The Foodbank Project is a joint partnership between Countdown, the Salvation Army, and Lucid.

The drive recognises that Covid-19 continues to have an economic impact upon New Zealand with many kiwis struggling financially. . .

First Step – Mike Bland:

Farm ownership has always been a goal for Jared Baines. Now he is on track to achieving that goal much sooner than expected.

Jared, 30, grew up on two King Country sheep and beef farms owned by his parents Chris and Lynda, but after finishing school he left home to work on other farms.

He says his parents, who own Waikaka Station near Matiere, had always encouraged their children to make their own way in the world. They instilled their offspring with a strong work ethic and taught them the importance of saving money.

Like his siblings, Jared reared calves on Waikaka and used the proceeds from this and other work to buy a rental property that could later be used as a deposit on a home or farm. . . 

Farmers to get paid for planting trees in new biodiversity pilot – Jamieson Murphy:

FARMERS in six regions across the nation will have the opportunity to get paid to plant mixed-species trees on their property, under a new government trial program.

Farmers can already participate in carbon markets under the Emissions Reduction Fund, but the new Carbon+Biodiversity pilot will try a new approach that will also see the government pay farmers for the biodiversity benefits they deliver.

Participates will get paid for the first three years of the trial and will earn carbon credits for at least 25 years, which they can sell to the government or to private buyers. . . 


Rural round-up

06/03/2021

Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too – Point of Order:

Fonterra has  confirmed  what  most analysts  had  been predicting and lifted its 2020/21 forecast farmgate milk price range to  $7.30 – $7.90 kg/MS, up from  $6.90 – $7.50. This should  send a  further surge of  confidence  across  NZ’s  rural regions, hopefully in  a  wave  strong enough to encourage  farmers  to plan to  increase production  next  season.

As  a  result  of  the  higher  payout, the co-op  will be  pumping $11.5bn  into the  rural economy, well ahead of the $10bn predicted  last year. Although  farmer-suppliers  to Fonterra  are paid off   the mid-point  $7.60  of the new range, most analysts  believe the final payout will reach $7.90.

That  should  ensure a  handsome  return  for most  suppliers,  whose  cost  of  production averages  around $5.80-$6 kg/MS—and for the  highly  efficient, at below $4, an even   better one. . . 

Lessons from M. Bovis outbreak – Peter Burke:

The chair of a new committee set up to review the handling of Mycoplasma bovis outbreak says it isn’t a witch-hunt.

Massey University academic Nicola Shadbolt says the review is about learning from the past and helping us to be stronger for the future. She says it’s about finding out what happened and seeing what might need to be put in place if there a biosecurity outbreak of this nature in the future.

Shadbolt, a professor of farm and agribusiness, served as a Fonterra director for nine years and is currently chair of Plant and Food Research. . .

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier at risk of losing key community members – locals – Tess Brunton:

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier communities have been told that the government can’t save every business that’s struggling during the pandemic.

A week ago the two communities sent Tourism Minister Stuart Nash a $35 million wishlist of what they need to survive.

Yesterday he visited Franz Josef with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor but didn’t make any promises.

Across Country Quad Bikes used to run four fully booked tours a day, closing for a few months over winter after a hectic summer. . .

Bees get a fighting chance – Neal Wallace:

University of Otago Researchers have made a discovery that may just give honeybees a fighting chance against the varroa mite. Neal Wallace reports.

Scientists have identified naturally occurring compounds which induces a cleaning response among some worker bees, killing juvenile varroa mites.

The University of Otago researchers are now looking at how to replicate the six relevant compounds they have discovered, and a way to deliver them to hives from which beekeepers can selectively breed bees that have this trait.

Emeritus Professor Alison Mercer of the university’s Department of Zoology says varroa mites reproduce in brood cells, but researchers have identified some worker bees can sense where the mites are using these compounds, then open those cells and pull out the contents, including the mite, killing it. . . 

Why aren’t farmers using more agritech on farm? – Phil Edmonds:

While internet connectivity may be viewed as a barrier to farmers adopting more agritech solutions, Phil Edmonds discovers there are many reasons for New Zealand’s low adoption rate, including technology not being developed with their needs in mind.

A fresh look is under way into understanding why agritech adoption in New Zealand has not escalated to the same extent that our primary sector exports have. A cursory glance at the unflattering data on uptake suggests farmers are content using tried and tested methods despite the increasing availability of ‘go faster’ solutions. However, ‘tried and tested’ will inevitably start to hold the industry back. The initial thinking on where to get the ball rolling faster is for agritech developers to focus on time-saving rather than insight solutions, and stop assuming farmers are inherent technophobes.

An analysis of the impact of agritech on the New Zealand economy published last year suggested that New Zealand is underperforming relative to its global peers. While food and fibre exports have grown substantially, the same can’t be said for agritech, which has netted a consistent (rather than accelerating) $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion over the past five years. . . 

Exclusion fence gives options for diversity at Bollon – Sally Gall:

A decision in the summer of 2017 to fully enclose their 36,420ha of country in the Bollon district has rewarded Scott and Alison Todd many times over.

The couple came to Brigalow Downs 90km south of Bollon in 2014, walking into one of the biggest droughts on record.

At that stage they were an all-cattle operation with rangeland goats running freely on the property, and with a good reserve of mulga and cattle selling very cheaply in the Barcaldine and Blackall districts, they began building cattle numbers.

As the drought went on, their mulga didn’t regenerate as well as expected, and with cattle agistment bills mounting, they decided to diversify. . .


Rural round-up

11/11/2020

Vineyards, orchards still short of workers – Jared Morgan:

No shows and walkouts are dominating the hunt to find seasonal workers — particularly on vineyards — across Central Otago and the culprits are Kiwis.

Pressure is mounting on the region’s viticulture and horticulture sectors to fill the gaps left by a dearth of backpackers and Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers but finding New Zealanders willing to work is causing headaches at what was now crunch time for vineyards.

The clock was also ticking for orchards.

Misha’s Vineyard director Andy Wilkinson said the same story was echoing across the region. .  .

SJS, MPI partner to find students rural jobs -John GIbb:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is helping attract more Dunedin tertiary students to Otago fruit picking and other rural work this summer.

Student Job Search chief executive Suzanne Boyd said SJS was partnering with MPI throughout the country to connect seasonal employers to students looking for rural work.

The partnership had already begun with “Pick this, pick that”, an online marketing campaign which connected students to thousands of summer fruit picking roles jobs, until March.

“With our summer fruit growers relying on New Zealanders to get cherries picked and shipped overseas, and to pick other summer fruit for the domestic market, these roles are more important than ever,” Ms Boyd said. . .

Quarantine space impacts labour: –

A lack of space in isolation facilities will delay the availability of 210 foreign agricultural machinery operators coming to work for NZ contractors this season.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) chief executive Roger Parton says while visas have been issued for these workers, by the time they are available for work, they will be three months too late.

“The current information I have is that we won’t be able to get any isolation facilities until the middle of December, which means they won’t be out of isolation until Christmas, which is absolutely nonsensical because the season’s halfway over,” he said.

“They’ve got the visas, they have got the travel booked, but they can’t get into the country because they can’t get a voucher for isolation. That’s causing a huge amount of stress out there.” . . 

Who foots environmental farm bill? – Nicola Dennis:

New Zealand agriculture is facing a raft of environmental reforms under the Government’s Freshwater Management National Policy Statement amendments. These include further stock exclusions from waterways, restrictions around winter grazing, audited farm environment plans and enforcing nitrogen caps.

This is in addition to greenhouse gas mitigation policies and biodiversity measures that are yet to be announced.

In general, farmers are very motivated to reduce their environmental impact, but the cost of doing so competes with rising running costs and servicing debt on land. So, who is footing the bill?

Politicians are quick to point to the export markets, which they believe will pay a premium for clean, green, NZ products. AgriHQ asked a number of NZ exporters if this was feasible. They all thought it wasn’t. . . 

No shear sheep a perfect fit :

At a time of depressed wool prices, more and more sheep farmers are looking at reducing costs – such as shearing and parasite control.

With this in mind, Mt Cass Station will host an open day – on Friday 20 November – to give farmers an opportunity to see how no-shear Wiltshires perform in a commercial environment.

The 1800ha hill country coastal property, near Waipara in North Canterbury, is farmed using organic principles. The farm is run by Sara and Andrew Heard and five other shareholders. It is under this low-input system that Andrew Heard claims the Wiltshires come into their own.

The breed’s inherent internal parasite resistance and resilience means they don’t need shearing, dagging or crutching – and they don’t get flystrike. . . 

Auckland meat heavyweight wins Christie Award:

Riki Kerere, Operations Manager of Countdown Meat & Livestock in Otahuhu, has been awarded the prestigious Christie Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the retail meat industry. Riki was recognised with this prestigious Award at the Alto Butcher, ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice & Pure South Master Butcher live stream event in Auckland this evening.

Riki Kerekere said of his win, “I’m just honoured to have joined that list of amazing people who have paved the way for the industry and made things possible for me and my career. I’m just so happy to have won.

Riki has been involved in the meat industry all his working life. Starting out as a clean-up boy he progressed over time through to a management role becoming instrumental in mentoring and training staff and apprentices at the Countdown plant in South Auckland. Riki has his own unique personal approach and knowledge which is highly respected not only by his own team, but also those in the wider meat industry. . . 

Red meat looks to shorten the path to adoption of research – Shan Goodwin:

SHORTENING the path to adoption in order to extract the full value from the millions spent each year on research and development in the red meat game has been a key mission at industry headquarters during 2020.

Service provider Meat & Livestock Australia has led the charge and at a webinar this week, the organisation’s group manager of adoption and commercialisation Sarah Strachan outlined the ‘involve and partner’ strategy that is being deployed.

At an on-the-ground level, incorporating producers into research design and having a clear line of sight to adoption was the approach being taken to accelerate the embedding of research outcomes into commercial businesses, she explained.

Producer demonstration sites were one way this was happening. . . 


Rural round-up

25/06/2020

Imports still vital – ag contractors – David Anderson:

Despite eagerness from out-of-work Kiwis, the ag contracting industry will still need to continue importing experienced, overseas workers for some time yet.

“These locals need to be trained and won’t have the skills to drive the big, complex machinery for a while, so we’ll need to carry on importing our Irish and UK guys,” says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president David Kean.

His comments follow two expos, held this month, to promote the sector, which saw rural contractors ‘blown away’ by the turnout with a number starting to recruit locally to fill vacancies. He says the Queenstown and Te Anau expos saw more than 160 people through the doors.

However, Kean says ag contractors will still need to bring in some skilled machinery operators from overseas for the spring/summer season – as few new recruits will have developed sufficient skills to drive the more complex agricultural machines. . .

Hawke’s Bay not in the clear after drought despite brilliant rain :

Rainfall in drought-hit Hawke’s Bay was good news for farmers across the region but the impact of the long dry spell will be with them for the season.

Despite “brilliant rain” over the past week many farmers were still running short of stock feed, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said.

“Most farmers are well down on the stock they would normally carry. They are very short of feed and every day they’re looking at what they have to do or what they can do to get through.” . . 

Making good use of a crisis – Sudesh Kissun:

One of New Zealand’s largest dairy farmers says the Covid-19 pandemic presents the country an opportunity to rethink its approach to on-farm sustainability.

Southern Pastures Ltd believes more legislation isn’t the answer to sustainability challenges facing the sector and farmers should be part of the solution to climate change rather than being labelled as villains.

Future generations will have to carry the huge economic burden of Covid-19 recovery.

Southern Pastures executive chairman Prem Maan says the last thing we want is to load them with additional climate and environmental costs as well. . . 

Fonterra to pay farmers more for sustainable, high value milk:

Fonterra farmers producing sustainable, high quality milk will be eligible for a new payment, as Fonterra announces important changes to the way it pays farmers for their milk.

From 1 June 2021, Fonterra is introducing a Co-operative Difference Payment of up to 10 cents per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) if the farm meets the Co-op’s on-farm sustainability and value targets. It’s part of the Co-op’s strategy to add value to New Zealand milk and responds to increasing demand from customers here and around the world for sustainably-produced dairy. The payment will be funded out of the Farmgate Milk Price.

“The total Farmgate Milk Price will remain the same across the Co-operative, but the amount that each individual farm is paid will vary depending on their contribution under The Co-operative Difference, in addition to the other variables, like fat and protein, which affect the amount that’s paid,” says Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell. . . 

Colin Hurst elected as Fed Farmers arable chairperson:

The new Chairperson of the Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group, Colin Hurst, brings wide experience and an acknowledged reputation for hard work, tenacity and leadership to the role.

Colin, the 2019 ‘Arable Farmer of the Year’, was elected at the group’s AGM on Monday [June 22] for a three-year term.  He replaces Karen Williams, who is Vice-President elect of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

As well as following his interest in science and innovation driving improved production and a lighter environmental footprint, Colin is also keen to lift the profile of the arable sector among consumers and fellow farmers.   Sales of arable production and spending generated by the industry contributed $863 million to GDP in 2018.

“Most people know we produce cereal grains used in bread and a host of other staples, and all the malting barley needed by our brewers, but we also grow the pasture seeds essential to our livestock farmers, not to mention brassicas and other feed crops, and seed production for domestic and international markets,” Colin says. . . 

Climate change: planting trees ‘can do more harm than good’ – Matt McGrath:

Rather than benefiting the environment, large-scale tree planting may do the opposite, two new studies have found.

One paper says that financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions.

A separate project found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated.

The key message from both papers is that planting trees is not a simple climate solution. . . 


Rural round-up

02/05/2020

Ongoing drought is bleeding us dry – Rhea Dasent:

We are living through exceptional times, and the drought of 2020 is one of the exceptions – and not in a good way.

Businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown understand how farmers feel about the drought.

Being unable to trade due to external influences puts you not just on the back foot, but several feet behind, for the rest of the year or even longer.

Tourism businesses rely on a good summer with lots of customers in order to have the income to get through the low winter season. Farmers have good and bad seasons too, and hope that it all evens out.

But the lockdown and this drought have taken the usual seasonal ups and downs to a whole new level. . . 

Overseas markets holding up – Allan Barber:

In a recent conversation, Alliance CEO David Surveyor described world red meat markets by comparing them to traffic lights. Contrary to the evidence earlier in the year, when buyers stopped buying because of Chinese New Year closely followed by the Covid-19 shutdown, China has emerged as the brightest light with the traffic lights firmly set on green. The composition of Chinese orders has changed since the virus outbreak with retail and online sales growing considerably, while there are signs of hot pot outlets starting to reopen.

Silver Fern Farms’ Simon Limmer agrees with this assessment, although he cautions against assuming there won’t be a risk of a market reversal at some point. For the time being China is a saviour, in spite of meat exporters’ wish not to put too many eggs in the same basket. This is not a time to pick and choose though. The rest of Asia is also quite strong with demand for grass fed beef holding up well in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South East Asia. . .

Changing patterns in food supply must be addressed – Anna Campbell:

I have been reading and listening to reports and podcasts on the impact of Covid-19 on food supply and buying patterns.

It is interesting to note that most of these trends were identified as trends before Covid-19, but the pandemic has massively shifted the dial in terms of the pace of change. We are likely to see many of these shifts sustained in the Covid-19 recovery and beyond.

1. In the United States, Covid-19 has increased the dominance of the large food players such as Walmart and Amazon (which owns Whole Foods). Small grocery chains and independents, before Covid-19, made up 40% of the grocery sector — this is rapidly shrinking. Workers within the large chains are negotiating higher pay and, in general, profit margins on grocery products are decreasing. This will make it harder for small players to compete, especially without the benefits of robotics and artificial intelligence systems. . . 

Four Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader finalists:

Grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts from throughout New Zealand are represented by the four finalists in the Dairy Women’s Network new DWN Regional Leader of the Year award.

The finalists are spread from the north of the North Island where Sue Skelton is farming south west of Whangarei near Waiotira to Jessica Goodwright who is sharemilking in Drummond in Central Southland.

Mid-Canterbury farmer and personal development coach Tania Burrows and North Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green are the other two finalists that represent over 70 volunteer Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leaders spread throughout the country. . .

High yields in difficult season a credit to NZ’s arable farmers:

Yields for the 2020 harvest are up 16 percent across the board when compared to 2019, the latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey shows.

Particularly encouraging was the fact fewer hectares were planted in total this season compared to last (98,090 ha vs 104,000) yet tonnes harvested were substantially up (873,080 vs 796,700), Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

“This is in despite of a severe early season hailstorm, flooding in some regions and some pretty variable weather.  It just highlights that our arable farmers are world class,” Brian said. . .

Muttonbird hunters expect prices to go up as season cut short by lockdown – Te Aniwa Hurihanganui:

Eager muttonbird hunters are hoping to get a flight out to the Tītī / Muttonbird Islands as soon possible, with alert level 3 now opening a small window of opportunity to gather the delicious tītī before the season is over.

Muttonbirds are in hot demand every year, but with alert level 4 putting the season on hold, hunters now have just two weeks before the birds leave the island in early May.

Tony McColgan from Invercargill usually collects up to 2000 birds a year; he thought the season was over when the lockdown began. . . 

Investing in cows grows wealth in dairy – Samantha Townsend:

It might have taken the Nicholsons 30 years to put their name on the mortgage but it was an investment well worth the wait for the next generation.

Megan and Geoff Nicholson started their dairy journey as lease farmers in 1989 having moved back to her home town of Taree from the United Kingdom where they met.

Geoff was from a beef, sheep and cropping farm but neither of us had particular dairy experience but we decided to give it go and loved it ,” Mrs Nicholson said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/02/2020

Working to nurture rural wellbeing – Sally Rae:

It’s been a tough time to be a farmer in the South.

But, as he helped man the Ag Proud New Zealand stand at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu last week, Mossburn dairy farmer Jason Herrick was still wearing a beaming smile.

Mr Herrick is heavily involved with the Ag Proud NZ initiative, set up last year to promote positive farming practices and raise awareness of rural people’s mental health. . . 

Solutions may have negative effect

Environmental solutions sought in New Zealand could have unintended global consequences, according to research presented at the Farmed Landscapes Research Centre workshop.

Ravensdown innovation and strategy general manager Mike Manning says there is debate over whether the environmental effects of food production should be calculated by hectare or by unit of food produced.

“If globally we want to continue to feed the world with the least impact environmentally then it is important to have the lowest footprint per unit of food and to maintain the investment in technology to reduce this footprint. To do otherwise simply has a worse global environmental outcome.”

In their research Manning, Jacqueline Rowarth and Ans Roberts looked at the production and environmental aspects of organic and conventional systems, taking into account economic aspects such as government subsidies. . . 

Big load to carry but couple pulls together – Sally Rae:

They say the couple that plays together, stays together.

In the case of Southland couple Brett and Lisa Heslip, their shared hobby is of the very noisy kind; they are enthusiasts of tractor pull, a phenomenally loud and curiously fascinating combination of sheer grunt and horsepower.

Tractor pull involves four different classes of tractor: standard, pre 85, sport and modified. Participants compete to see how far they can drag the Tractor Pull New Zealand weight transfer sled.

It was easy to find the tractor pull area at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu on Friday, as it just required following the noise. . . 

Farming fits the lifestyle – Ross Nolly:

Autumn calving is relatively new in Taranaki but one couple made the switch immediately when they bought their first farm. Ross Nolly reports

Switching to autumn calving wasn’t about making more money for Taranaki farmers Jaiden and Hannah Drought.

It was solely so they could enjoy long summer days with their children.

The couple who milk 360 cows on their 105ha effective farm at Riverlea near Kaponga say the pros of autumn calving far outweigh the downsides. . . 

Vineyard trialling native planting as herbicide alternative:

A commercial vineyard is investigating planting native plants and cover crops under vines as an alternative to spraying herbicides on the area.

Villa Maria Winery is running the trial with funding support from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

Villa Maria’s co-ordinator for the project, Raquel Kallas said conventional practice in New Zealand vineyards was to maintain a bare strip under the vines by applying herbicides, typically two or three times per season. . .

Getting smarter at growing grass – James Barbour:

Trewithen is a 288ha farm with 1,100 cows in New Plymouth, owned by the Faull Family from Waitara. In his third season, sharemilker James Barbour takes us through the farm’s approach to nutrient management.

The problem

We cover a large area, so paddock variability is an important issue for us. If we just apply a blanket rate without testing or targeting, the costs mount up very quickly because of the scale of the operation.

We’re milking all year around with various winter run-offs. We have an ambitious target of 600,000kg MS. Our focus is on growing more grass, taking care of the animals and becoming increasingly efficient. And we’ve managed to cut our stocking rate while increasing production. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/02/2020

New troubles  hide real problem – Anette Scott:

Climate and market uncertainty impacted heavily on the Temuka adult ewe fair with prices plummeting by up to $60 a head.

With 14,000 ewes advertised and running on the back of the record prices set at the two-tooth and ewe lamb fair the previous week the annual adult ewe fair looked set to be a cracker last Wednesday.

But a lot happened in a week – coronavirus was declared a global emergency, the drought conditions in Canterbury and northern South Island were exacerbated by extreme temperatures soaring into the mid 30s and meat schedules took a dive.

As a result about 4000 ewes were late withdrawals by vendors anticipating a slump in the market so just 9300, a third of them capital stock lines being sold because of changing land use, turned up.  . . 

Gloss comes off a good season:

The gloss is quickly fading on what was shaping to be an exceptional season for farmers.

Export prices are still high by historic standards but a perfect storm of unfavourable weather and coronavirus measures in China are putting pressure on export and store prices.

Drought-like conditions in the North Island and wet in the south of the South Island combined with falling export prices have seen store prices collapse.

AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says export lamb prices are likely to slip a further 20c/kg this week as exporters manage the impact of coronavirus. . .

Keith Neylon – well served by a touch of madness – Michael Fallow:

Keith Neylon detects in himself a touch of madness. There doesn’t appear to be much of a queue forming to disagree with him.

But it does seem to have served him well, this Southlander with a startling record advancing sunrise industries.

If anything it might even have inoculated him against at least some of the more maddening obstacles he has struck.

From the wild aviation days of deer recovery, stints in shellfish and salmon industries, large scale farming and most recently the sheep milk industry through Blue River Dairy, Neylon has penned a ripsnorting autobiography A Touch of Madness that’s part testament to the excitements of striving to develop this country’s resources. . . 

Alliance Nelson plant prioritises livestock from dry Nelson-Tasman region – Cherie Sivignon:

Livestock from the Nelson-Tasman region is being prioritised at Alliance Group’s Nelson meat plant as some farmers reduce their animal numbers amid a run of hot, dry weather.

Alliance Group livestock and shareholder services general manager Danny Hailes said the Nelson plant was busy as farmers “look to de-stock as a result of the dry conditions”.

“We are prioritising processing livestock from the region so we can meet the needs of local farmers,” Hailes said. “As a co-operative, we need to be there for our farmers.” . . . 

NFUS president calls tree planting initiatives a ‘distraction’ :

The president of NFU Scotland has criticised tree planting initiatives as part of a measure to curb climate change, calling it a ‘distraction’.

Speaking at the union’s annual conference in Glasgow on Thursday (6 February), Andrew McCornick said there is ‘no single solution’ to the climate crisis.

Looking specifically at tree planting initiatives, he highlighted that they could ‘displace the potential to grow food crops’. . . 

New York farmers are struggling to sell their onions. U.S. lawmakers want a trade investigation – Lisa Held:

In the fertile “black dirt” region of New York’s Hudson Valley, once home to the storied onion king and his Ye Jolly Onion Inn, farmers have been celebrating the annual onion harvest with their communities for generations. But in December, as farmers were being offered a price that was equal to what they received in 1990, the unsold yellow and red bulbs were piling up and the mood was more desperation than jubilation.

“We went from $28 for a 50-pound bag down to $12 within a couple of weeks,” said Chris Pawelski, a fourth-generation onion farmer in Orange County who has been chronicling his struggles on Twitter since September. This is less than the cost of production, but farmers have been forced to sell at that low price, as buyers are suddenly hard to find.

“I can’t sleep at night,” Pawelski said. “I’ve got 60 days. After that they’ll start to sprout, and I’ve got to dump them.” . . 


Rural round-up

08/02/2020

Cost of meeting freshwater standards could cripple farm business – Esther Taunton:

Fourth-generation sheep and beef farmer Daniel Mickleson says the cost of meeting proposed freshwater standards could mean the end of his family farm.

The Government is expected to make its final decisions on the details of a plan to clean up the country’s waterways early this year with the new rules coming into effect in June.

The plan includes several measures to improve farming practices, and ensure all farmers and growers have a plan to manage risks to freshwater. . . 

Southland property likely to be ‘unfarmable’ for sometime after floods – Louisa Steyl,:

A sea of water sits above the Scobie’s farm. 

It’s one of the worst affected areas on the Wyndham Rd between Wyndham and Mataura, but the family who own it haven’t had a chance to assess the damage properly yet. 

Instead, they’ve been busy helping people in Wyndham where Pam Yorke, nee Scobie, used to be the community board chair. . . 

New study finds pine forest link to fine sediment in Waimea, Moutere estuaries – Cherie Sivignon:

Almost 90 per cent of the environmentally-damaging fine sediment at the mouth of the Moutere River came from pine forest, a new study has found.

Tasman District Council and NIWA have been investigating the effects of sediment on the district’s river systems. The resulting report, which is not yet available in full, also found that recently harvested pine forests along with bank erosion were responsible for a high proportion of sediment in the Waimea Inlet.

Council resource scientist Trevor James said the study represented a “snapshot in time” but he hoped to organise a meeting with the forestry companies as well as sediment experts from NIWA and Landcare Research to discuss its findings. . . 

Hope coronavirus impact on dairy will be short-lived – Sally Rae:

A 4.7% overall fall in this week’s Global Dairy Trade auction ‘‘could have been worse’’, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny says.

There were signs the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on dairy markets would prove short-lived; Chinese buyers remained active at similar levels to recent auctions, while three product prices rose.

Those signs were consistent with the bank’s view the impact on dairy markets and prices would be modest and short-lived, Mr Penny said in a note.

However, the bank remained vigilant as the outbreak situation was fluid and dairy price implications were subject to change. . . 

Central Otago cherry growers hit by second tough season in a row – Maja Burry:

Central Otago cherry growers are reporting a tough 2019-20 season, with yields about half the normal size due to poor weather conditions.

The majority of cherries are harvested in the region between mid-December to early February.

Summerfruit NZ chair and general manager of the cherry exporter 45 South, Tim Jones, said yields were about half, or maybe even a little bit less, of what a full crop would be in the district. It was the second tough season in a row for growers, he said.

“So two years in a row of low yields, I think growers will be looking forward to next year and [getting] back to some good volumes.” . . 

New partnership to develop bigger, tastier blueberries:

Consumers across the world may soon be experiencing tastier, fuller-sized blueberries year-round, thanks to a new breeding partnership in blueberries that will bring premium quality berries to customers across the world. 

Plant & Food Research and global fresh produce company T& G Global have announced they are entering into a new agreement to breed and commercialise exciting new varieties of blueberries to be sold globally. 

The breeding programme will produce new varieties of blueberry that will provide improved yield and resistance to disease while also delivering consumers larger, tastier berries over a longer period, with an extended harvest season. 

The first new commercial varieties could be launched globally in the next 12 months under T&G Global’s Orchard Rd brand.  . . 

Zespri reveals bold new brand identity:

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has unveiled its first new look in its 22-year history, with a refreshed brand providing a strong platform for the company to continue its recent growth.

With operating revenue of $3.14 billion in 2018/19, Zespri continues to make excellent progress towards its goal of reaching $4.5 billion in sales by 2025, driven by the commitment of its 2,800 New Zealand and 1,500 offshore growers to produce premium-quality kiwifruit.

Revealed at the world’s leading fresh produce exhibition, Berlin Fruit Logistica, the new brand better reflects the company’s purpose which is to help people, communities and the environment thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit. . . 

Trust Board opportunity as Brown steps down from Dairy Women’s Network:

An exciting opportunity at board level has opened up as Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown steps down from her role as a Trustee of the Dairy Women’s Network.

Brown, who farms with her husband Wynn at Tiroroa Farms near Matamata, says the time was right to move on after over four years on the Trust Board.

“I joined in November 2015 with a vision to provide support to women in the dairy industry to better reach their potential and to help Dairy Women’s Network become an organisation which could help drive transformational change for our industry,” Brown said.  “I feel I have had a big input into both of these areas.” . . 


Quotes of the Year

31/12/2019

You can volunteer to take life seriously but it is gonna get you, they are going to win over you, it is harsh, but you can either break down and complain about how miserable your life is or have a go at it and survive. I think that is the basis of it all. – Billy Connolly

Working for Families is a policy that satisfies few on the Left or the Right. Compromises rarely do. They are imperfect by their nature. They are necessary, however, because people are imperfect and always will be. If things were otherwise, we wouldn’t need government at all. – Liam Hehir

The greatest threats to our native wildlife – and our rural economy – may yet be science denial and conspiracy belief. – Dave Hansford

Those elected to positions of authority need to understand that the human condition rarely engages in deceit and halftruths as much as when rehearsing or inventing the science behind their personal environmental concerns.Gerrard Eckhoff

When our total emissions account for 0.17 per cent of total global emissions, leadership isn’t being first, fast and famous. Leadership is taking what we already do well, food production, and doing it even better over time by investing in innovation and technology.  Todd Muller

People have a choice with how they respond to adversity in their life. Creating a positive attitude gives you more control over your circumstances. By staying positive, it means you can make the most out of your life no matter what gets thrown in your direction. – Emma Barker

Being part of a baying mob, for that is what much of our modern commentary has been reduced to, isn’t brave and nor is it radical.

Standing up to them is. – Damien Grant

It is stupid and dangerous. But, we are on private property and we’re just having a bit of fun.

No-one has got too hurt yet … we are not stupid about it. – Patrick Ens

The first challenge is that urban New Zealand does not understand the extent to which our national wealth depends on the two pillars of dairy and tourism.  Yes, there are other important industries such as kiwifruit and wine, and yes, forestry, lamb and beef are also very important. But rightly or wrongly, our population has been growing rapidly, and the export economy also has to keep growing. There is a need for some big pillars.

Somehow, we have to create the exports to pay for all of the machinery, the computers, the electronics, the planes, the cars, the fuel and the pharmaceuticals on which we all depend. . . Keith Woodford

Believe passionately enough in something and you’ll be shouting at the younger generation well into your eighties. – AnnaJones

We realise that Pharmac has a budget, but there seems to be a never ending open budget for welfare. New Zealand surely isn’t so broke that we have to pick and choose who we let live and who we let die. But that is currently where we find ourselves.Allyson Lock

The problem with numbers is that they don’t fudge.They’re definite. Exact. Numbers don’t lie. But people lie.People fudge. People lie about numbers. People fudge numbers. But numbers are the truth.  . .

I think there’s a political lesson here for this government. Watch the numbers or your number’s up. – Andrew Dickens

My take away from all this is that referendums do have a place, even binding ones. But it is best to call on these when the issues are clear and easily understood by everyone in the community. Brexit or not might have seemed clear at the time, driven as it was mainly by fears of uncontrollable immigration across the Channel. But it was not of this genre. As Oscar Wilde remarks: ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple’. In such cases, perhaps best leave it to parliaments. That way we’ll know who to blame it if all goes wrong.Professor Roger Bowden

All kinds of wild ideas that are untested and are demonstrably bad for them and demonstrably wrong – these ideas can spread like wildfire so long as they are emotionally appealing. Social media and other innovations have cut the lines that previously would have tethered the balloon to Earth, and the balloon has taken off. – Jonathon Haidt

Pettiness is on the increase, too, in the constant calling-out of sometimes-casual language that was never intended to offend or harass, and even may have been written or uttered with well-meaning intent. – Joanne Black

Why then did I leave Greenpeace after 15 years in the leadership? When Greenpeace began we had a strong humanitarian orientation, to save civilization from destruction by all-out nuclear war. Over the years the “peace” in Greenpeace was gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are the enemies of the earth. I believe in a humanitarian environmentalism because we are part of nature, not separate from it. The first principle of ecology is that we are all part of the same ecosystem, as Barbara Ward put it, “One human family on spaceship Earth”, and to preach otherwise teaches that the world would be better off without us. Patrick Moore

There were rituals, prayer every night, communal eating, some adults staying at home looking after children while others went to work.

Looking back, it was one of the sweetest memories for me. It was a very secure, loving home with lots of uncles and aunts, and no shortage of cousins to play with. There wasn’t a lot of money, but an abundance of aspiration. – Agnes Loheni

We need to be 90 per cent women. Not 46 per cent women. – Jill Emberson  (speaking on the inequity of funding research for ovarian cancer)

These messages of envy and hopelessness—messages that lead to an insidious victim mentality and that are perpetuated by those who say they care more and are genuinely concerned for the communities I grew up in—lead to an outcome that is infinitely worse than any hard bigot or racist could ever hope to achieve. To take hopes and dreams away from a child through good intentions conflicts with the messages of aspiration, resilience, and compassion that I and my Pasefika community were exposed to as we grew up. That soft bigotry of low expectation is the road to hell laid brick by brick with good intentions.

Hope, resilience, compassion—these are the only messages that have any chance of succeeding and changing our course toward a better New Zealand. These values are not exclusive to my migrant parents; they are New Zealand’s values. They fit hand-in-glove with our Kiwi belief in hard work, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Agnes Loheni

Politics is an odd kind of game that sometimes requires a ruthless self-interest and at others altruistic self-sacrifice. It’s a patchwork of ideals and deals, virtue and vice, gamble and calculation. – Tim  Watkin

Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day. AndrewHoggard

 There are limits, even to the immodesty of the self-proclaimed First Citizen of the Provinces, the wandering bard with the bag of pūtea, bestowing largesse on the forgotten hamlets of Aotearoa. – Guyon Espiner

Once we recover from our grief, do we slide back into being passively a “good” country? To simply “not be racist” when what is required of us is to be outspoken “anti-racists”? I don’t want thoughts and prayers. What I want to see is bold leadership, standing up and uniting in this message: that hate will not be allowed to take root and triumph here. And to then act on that message. I need us all to be courageous and really look inwards at the fears, judgment and complacence we may have allowed into our hearts, and look outward to demand a change in the conversation. And to be that change. Saziah Bashir

Words matter because when we isolate groups of people who don’t make up the majority of those we see, we turn them into “others”. And when we turn them into others we dehumanise them and make it easier to commit harm against them. – David Cormack

Being right wing to me means believing in free market ideals, open immigration where skills are needed, free trade and access to international markets, as little government intervention as possible and having the best people in your country to help your country become better. It means more opportunity for hard working immigrants. Quite often we ARE those bloody immigrants!

It’s not about closed borders. It’s not about denying people opportunity to build their businesses if they’re hard working and wish to contribute to a country. It’s not about wounding and killing people in places of prayer or on the streets. – Cactus Kate

New Zealand can never succeed, on any measure, by cowering behind a wall. Not just our economic destiny but our national identity depends on us maintaining the sense of adventure that brought us all here and extending manaakitanga to those who want to join us, visit us, do business with us, or take a holiday or study here.

Those of us who believe in these things should no longer reject the term neo-liberal, so often used as abuse, but reclaim it. What is the alternative: to be old conservatives? The political right needs to get back on track. – Matthew Hooton

We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us.

To the families of the victims your loved ones did not die in vain, their blood has watered the seeds of hope. – Gamal Fouda

We like to tell our food story and we have terms like market research and consumer behaviour that help us as we pick what to produce and how. Put simply, what we’re really doing is asking what does that person want and how can we make them happy? We’re seeking understanding. We’re listening to people we don’t know as much about. We could use more of that in our everyday lives right now. – Bryan Gibson

Wise politicians pick no unnecessary fights that focus people on differences instead of on values they share.StephenFranks

The way I’ve looked at married life is this – You make your bed, you lay in it.

“You get married and you think everything is a long tar-sealed road that is beautiful.

“And after a few years, you get a few potholes. And if you don’t fix the potholes, they get bigger.

“You have to keep fixing them. – Jack van Zanten

NZ First feels like the stumbling, drunk boyfriend that the cool girl brought to the party. She’s too good for him, and everyone can suddenly see it.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan:

 It was never clear to me whether anyone was doing anything useful or just pretending to do stuff to feel better about ourselves. How do you actually make the world a better place? – Danyl Mclauchlan

Social media and the changed nature of other media have obscured the capacity and need for real conversation. Ideas are not contested civilly, rather people are attacked, falsehoods multiply. Our evolution as social animals required mechanisms for group consensus and group rules. Democracy is a manifestation of that social dynamic and works best when publics are informed not manipulated,and can have a civil contest of worldviews, values and ideas informed by robust evidence. –  Sir Peter Gluckman

I worry there is a drive to sanitise life. When the end gets difficult, we are saying, right, that’s enough, let’s cut it short. There are alternatives. There are other choices to ameliorate suffering of all types. Assisted death is not necessary.

How we die says a lot about our society. Having held a few hands of the dying, I know that those moments are sacred. I didn’t swear the oath of first doing no harm, to then participate in an activity with multiple harmful effects to both the living and the dying.  – Hinemoa Elder

Reasoned communication is the way across the divide of difference. It requires leaving the past and its animosities behind. But this is very difficult. The past gives us a sense of security and belonging. The institutions of modern society which unite us don’t have the same pulling power as the rallying cries of the isms. No wonder ethnic nationalisms, nativisms, and populisms with their ‘us not you’ and ‘our culture not yours’ are winning out. Unexamined belief is more satisfying than reason – and its easier.  – Elizabeth Rata 

People’s wellbeing, even their lives, are at risk while well-meaning people make statements based on inappropriate and flawed research. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Only around 20 per cent of the population lives in the countryside, and decisions are being made about them and for them by predominantly urban people, many of whom have little understanding or empathy for their rural neighbours. – Dr Margaret Brown

Such is the far left’s belief in their own moral superiority that, while they point the finger of blame at others with alacrity, they appear to lack the self-awareness and self-reflection that would lead them to at least wonder whether they themselves are complicit in contributing to a divisive and hateful society. – Juliet Moses

I want to turn to our Māori people, because I believe it is time to switch your political allegiance back to yourself, to your own tino rakatirataka. The political tribalism of saying we only vote for the party is not doing us any favours. You must demand on every politician that walks across your marae ātea that they show you the proof of their commitment to working hard for you before you give them your vote, because talk is cheap, whānau. Actions, ringa raupā—the callused hands—those are what spoke loudly to our conservative tīpuna, and it is time to demand politicians show you their calloused hands, their ringa raupā, as evidence of what they have achieved for you. – Nuk Korako

However, the real danger to meddling in our sound and proven speech laws is that institutions, agencies and interest groups with their own social and political agendas will likely have a disproportionate influence that is not in the national interest. There will be some whose sole intent is to undermine the free speech we already enjoy. – Joss Miller 

It’s easy to take it for granted that we are mostly led by politicians who are motivated to do their best by us; one look around the world today shows us how easily it could be different.

Politics in New Zealand has undoubtedly become more tribal since I started but beneath the rhetoric the differences are really not so great.

I leave here firmly believing there are no good guys or bad guys; the various parties may have different solutions to the same problems but fundamentally there is the same will to solve the problems. – Tracy Watkins

I realised two things that day. I would never, ever, let anyone I cared for enter a life of politics – and that politicians bleed, just like the rest of us. In the years since, I’ve tried to remember the power of words to hurt. – Tracy Watkins

My clear thrust in politics has been around … actually what we’ve just seen in Australia, what ScoMo called the ‘quiet Australians’, they’re here in New Zealand too. All they really want from a government is a strong economy, good public services and for us to get out of the way, and let them get on with their families, and that’s what drives me – Simon Bridges

I don’t think we do anyone any favours by pretending it’s easy, because it isn’t. I don’t think you can have everything all at once. – Linda Clark

It is the private sector that will do the heavy lifting. Nothing will happen unless and until the owners of companies take the decision to invest more, hire more people, and take a risk on economic opportunitySteven Joyce

The more you pay people, the fewer people you can afford to pay. Unless of course you sell more, and you only sell more if people feel good about buying. – Mike Hosking

I am living the way my forefathers lived, who left the footprint for me. It was good enough for my people, for my parents, my grandparents, who bought the house in 1887 – it is a tribute to them. – Margaret Gallagher

If I won the lottery, I would still live here. I am a rural rooted spinster. – Margaret Gallagher

Preachers of tolerance and inclusion must no longer seek to silence and condemn those with opinions that make them uncomfortable but are nevertheless opinions based on another person’s own beliefs and values systems. While we need to stay vigilant and investigate people who post offensive material online, we need to be equally concerned about any move in this House to restrict freedom of speech, a move which has all too often been used by those in power to silence those with differing opinions or ideas. This doctrine, peddled by those who pretend to be progressive, asserts that the mere expression of ideas itself is a limitation on the rights of others. This is preposterous. We must always run the risk of being offended in the effort to afford each citizen their freedom of expression, their freedom to be wrong, and, yes, unfortunately, even nasty. We must let the punishment of those with hateful messages be their own undoing.  Paulo Garcia

 It’s a blunt instrument that doesn’t always work, but parents love and understand their children. They are uniquely placed to make them see sense and not rush off with some jezebel or fall pregnant to some ageing lothario.

Welfare is a merino-covered sledge hammer that smashes these traditional bonds. Teenagers are freed from the financial constraints of their family and can turn to a new parent, the state, who will not judge, lecture, or express disappointment in their life decisions. . .

When you design a system that disenfranchises parents and undermines families you are rewarded with a cohort of lost children and will, in a few short years, find yourself taking babies off teenagers who are unfit to be parents. Damien Grant

Pasture-based New Zealand dairy production is the most carbon efficient dairy farming system in the world. In fact, you can ship a glass of New Zealand milk to the next most efficient country (Ireland) and drink it there and it still has a lower carbon footprint than an equivalent Irish glass of milk. – Nathan Penny

Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/co-parenting situations, terrible media influences … and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do? Kids behave in undesirable ways in the environment they feel safest.

They test the water in the environment that they know their mistakes and behaviours will be treated with kindness and compassion. For those “well-behaved” kids – they’re throwing normal kid tantrums at home because it’s safe. The kids flipping tables at school? They don’t have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they’ve ever heard ‘no’, been given boundaries, shown love through respect. – Jessica Gentry

In a nation like ours, immigration is a kind of oxygen, each fresh wave reenergizing the body as a whole. As a society, when we offer immigrants the gift of opportunity, we receive in return vital fuel for our shared future. – L. Rafael Reif

We should be very wary of underplaying the progress and successes we’ve already made as food producers and custodians of the land.  If we pay too much attention to the critics, it saps motivation and puts more stress on the shoulders of farmers and their families. – Katie Milne

The opportunities in the agri-food sector are endless, even if you live in the city. You just have to be passionate – James Robertson

The choice really is clear. Do we want to be remembered in the future for being the generation that overreacted and spent a fortune feeling good about ourselves but doing very little, subsidising inefficient solar panels and promising slight carbon cuts — or do we want to be remembered for fundamentally helping to fix both climate and all the other challenges facing the world? – Bjorn Lomborg

My starting point for this with public health is very simple, I do not plan to be the moral police, and will not tell people how to live their lives, but I intend to help people get information that forms the basis for making choices. – Sylvi Listhaug

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal. – Nicola Dennis

But at times like this the public more than ever look to the media for impartial coverage. Is it too much to expect that journalists set aside their personal views and concentrate instead on giving people the information they need to properly weigh the conflicting arguments and form their own conclusions? –Karl du Fresne

Governments who are put in place by voters to help those that have been missing out enact policies that ensure those people keep missing out.

And those same Governments store up economic imbalances that bring real risks for our collective future security. All for the sake of short-term policies that appear popular in the here and now. – Steven Joyce

The whole idea of tearing the heart out of a nation’s economy to reduce methane emissions from livestock is an unbelievable display of scientific, technological and economic ignorance. It goes far beyond simply not knowing or being mistaken.  It is profound ignorance compounded by understanding so little it is not even possible to recognise one’s own ignorance which is then made malignant by thinking it must be imposed on everyone else for their own good. – Walter Starck

Everyone that’s being fired and publicly embarrassed about a misdemeanor and being called a Nazi — there are real Nazis who are getting away with it. This must be amazing for real racists to be out there, and going, “It’s all right, everyone’s a racist now, this is a great smokescreen, we’ve got people out there calling people who aren’t Nazis, Nazis. . . . They don’t know the real Nazis from people who said the  wrong thing once!” . . . It plays into the hands of the genuinely bad people. – Ricky Gervais

I get the equality movement – it’s valid and important. But I also know the dangers, firsthand, that mindset can play if we encourage everyone to see themselves as the same, instead of embrace the differences God intentionally created us with.

I have been more successful as a professional, a wife and a friend once I learned to embrace myself as different, not equal.  – Kate Lambert

The creation of wealth should not be confused with the creation of money and the amount of money in circulation at any given point. – Henry Armstrong

For me, it was South Island farmer Sean Portegys who articulated best what so many farmers are feeling – he told me that in a drought, you don’t despair because it’s always going to rain. In a snowstorm, the sun will come out eventually. When prices are bad, and he said they’d just gone through a rough patch a few years ago, it’s always going to come right eventually. The problem is now, he said, the situation that farmers are facing is a lack of hope. He says he just doesn’t see a future in what he’s doing. And if farmers don’t see a future, then the future of New Zealand Inc looks bleak. –  Kerre McIvor

The problem is, if you propose a set of rules that are unachievable you don’t get community buy-in and if you don’t get community buy-in, you don’t actually make any progress,- David Clark

There are no perfect human societies or human systems or human beings.  But that shouldn’t stop us celebrating our past, our heritage, our culture –  the things that, by opening to the world, made this country, for all its faults and failings and relative economic decline in recent decades, one of the more prosperous and safe countries on earth. – Michael Reddell

The productivity commission says – in a much nicer way than this – that most councillors are a bunch of useless numpties with no understanding of governance of finance, and so really aren’t capable of handling the big stuff. – Tina Nixon

If you cannot even state an opponent’s position in order to illustrate the benefit of arguing with that opponent, then free speech is over. Because no dialogue then is possible. Professor Jim Flynn

Freedom of speech is important because it is a contest of ideas.

When you forbid certain ideas, the only way you can be effective is by being more powerful. So it becomes a contest of strength. If you shut ’em up, not only does that make it a matter of `might makes right’, you haven’t proved that your views are more defensible, you’ve just proved that you are stronger. Further, that must be the worst formula for finding truth that’s ever been invented. It’s either a contest of ideas or a contest of strength. Professor Jim Flynn

 A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people. And a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, cancelling or blacklisting their own neighbours. Professor Jim Flynn

People have to grow up. Being educated is getting used to hearing ideas that upset you. – Professor Jim Flynn

I see precautionary investment against climate change as equivalent in political decision-making, to expenditure on defence. Both require spending for highly uncertain benefit. No one can know whether we genuinely have an enemy who will attack. No one can know if our precautions will be effective. Hopefully the investment will be untested. We can’t know until afterwards whether it is wasted. Yet it is rational to try, because the catastrophe could be so overwhelming if the risk matures without resilience or mitigation precautions.

But such investment remains foolish if it is unlikely reduce CO2 levels materially, or to improve New Zealand’s ability to cope if change happens nevertheless. Given NZ’s inability to affect the first, an insurance investment should focus primarily on resilience. The Zero Carbon Bill does neither. So my government is wasting the elite political consensus that ‘something must be done”. Instead they’re conspicuously trumpeting their “belief” in climate change, and their intentions to act. If the law is enforced it will likely increase emissions overseas, and not influence foreign governments to mitigate the risk, who can affect the outcome. – Stephen Franks

The brute facts of New Zealand history suggest that if it’s blame Maori and Pakeha are looking for, then there’s plenty to go around. Rather than apportion guilt, would it not be wiser to accept that the Pakeha of 2019 are not – and never will be – “Europeans”? Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before Cook’s arrival. Would it not, therefore, be wiser to accept, finally, that both peoples are victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt?Chris Trotter

As I have gone through my horrible journey, I have realised why ovarian cancer support doesn’t gain the kind of traction that breast cancer does. It is because we are small in number, and we die really quickly, so we don’t have the capacity to build up an army of advocates. With breast cancer, there is a lot more women who get it, therefore they can build and build their army of advocates and they are able to raise more money, get more research, and get better outcomes, so they live longer. We need the support of breast cancer survivors. We need them to link arms with us to grow our army for ovarian cancer, which will then help us get more funding fairness. Funding leads to research, and research leads to longer lives. – Jill  Emberson

This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re politically woke, and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting with may love their kids and share certain things with you. – Barack Obama

I can’t make people not afraid of black people. But maybe if I show up every day as a human, a good human, maybe that work will pick away at the scabs of your discrimination. –Michelle Obama

In South Africa, pressure is not having a job or if one of your close relatives is murdered. In South Africa there are a lot of problems, which is pressure. – Rassie Erasmus

We shouldn’t subsidise the smelter.  Rather we should stop forcing Southlanders to subsidise Aucklanders.  We should also revert to a more gradual water plan that gives farmers time to adapt, and we should let Southland retain control of SIT.  Then we should get out of the way and let the sensible practical Southlanders get on with making a success of their province. – Steven Joyce

All of us face trials and tribulations. No-one always wins, in the end we all lose. We lose friends, marriages, money, get anxious, our bodies break down, our minds go, and then we die. Isn’t life great?

But actually, isn’t living also a lot of highs? Births, marriages, beaches, trips abroad, friends, sporting victories, pets, pay increases, leaves sprouting in spring, fish and chips on a sunny day. – Kevin Norquay

You’ve got to come up with some kind of middle ground where you do reasonable things to mitigate the risk and try at the same time to lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient. We shouldn’t be forced to choose between lifting people out of poverty and doing something for the climate. Kerry Emanuel

Knowledge in long-term memory is not a nice-to-have. Rather, it is an integral part of mental processing without which our working memories (which can hold only about four items at a time) become quickly overloaded. – Briar Lipson

None of it convinces me from my position that there is no “I” in meat but if you look closely you will find the words me and eat.  That should be good enough to convince tree huggers and hippies that they should be switching back to natural. – Cactus Kate

It [managerialism] undermines the ability of state services to help citizens, but empowers it to infantilise us.

We’re discouraged from acting on our own, and forced to bow to experts. Yet systems and fancy talk prevent experts taking substantive action for fear of career, safety, or arbitrary consequences for taking the “wrong” action. In these environments, there are no career prospects for heroes.  Mark Blackham

It used to be that people joined the Labour Party to make their lives better off. Now they join to make someone else’s life better off. – Josie Pagani

If all the new Tory voters wanted was more from the state and more lecturing on how to live their lives, they would have voted for Labour. These voters want a hand up, not a handout. If you give people things and make them reliant upon the state then next time they will vote for those who will give them more things. – Matthew Lesh

. . .It matters because the still-cherished principles of secular humanism, which continue to inspire the multitude of moral arbiters who police social media, come with provenance papers tracing them all the way back to a peculiar collection of Jews and Gentiles living and writing in the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago. Ordinary human-beings who gathered to hear and repeat the words of a carpenter’s son: the Galilean rabbi, Yeshua Ben-Joseph. Words that still constitute the core of the what remains the world’s largest religious faith –  Christianity.

It matters, also, because, to paraphrase Robert Harris, writing in his latest, terrifying, novel The Second Sleep: when morality loses its power, power loses its morality. Chris Trotter

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas DayJim Hopkins


Rural round-up

06/11/2019

Hort strong but uneasy – survey – Pam Tipa:

Positive sentiment still prevails across horticulture, but Government policies are weighing on the minds of growers.

So says Hayden Higgins, Rabobank horticulture senior analyst. He was commenting on results of Rabobank’s early September confidence survey of 59 horticulturalists (see sidebar for details).

The results saw only minor shifts, some up and some down, in results pertaining to their own businesses. . . 

Farmers need empowerment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Reducing stock numbers and increasing legislation is not the way to empower farmers – or attract newcomers to the sector, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

People hearing the media coverage of farmers under stress can be forgiven for wondering why the farmers are so worried.

After all, they have been told repeatedly that they can reduce their environmental impact by reducing stock numbers, and that doing so will increase farm profitability as well. . . 

Directors Donna Smit, Andy Macfarlane returned to Fonterra board :

Fonterra directors Donna Smit and Andy Macfarlane have been returned to the co-op’s board after retiring by rotation.

Shareholders Scott Montgomerie and Ellen Bartlett were elected unopposed to the directors’ remuneration committee and Ian Brown was elected unopposed as the Fonterra farmer custodian trustee, Fonterra said.

All successful candidates will take office at the close of Fonterra’s annual meeting in Invercargill on Thursday. . . 

 

Meat processor still shut down –  Sally Brooker:

Oamaru Meats is still working through the problems that forced it to shut down in September.

The company, owned by China’s BX Foods, stopped all processing after access for its beef to China was suspended.

Director Richard Thorp said about 140 staff were stood down while managers worked with New Zealand and Chinese authorities to regain the lost access.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said the suspension was not related to food safety issues and applied “only to Oamaru Meats and not to exports from any other New Zealand meat establishments”. . . 

Naked and afraid: breeding for shedding sheep – Nicola Dennis:

I have written before about how much we love our shedding sheep. We love our Wiltshires from a distance because they never really need any hands-on work. Wiltshires don’t need shearing, dagging or tailing.

Our Wiltshires were “bred up” from minimally shepherded Perendales by the previous occupants of our land. They stag leap over fences at the very sight of us. Because of this, we have also discovered that we can forgo drenching and almost all other forms of handling. From my window, I can see the ewes roaming over the hills in the distance with troupes of energetic lambs bouncing behind them. That is about as close as I will get until it is time to draft the lambs for their big OE. . . 

Livestock farmers feel ‘under siege’ amid climate change and vegan debates – Chris Hill:

Livestock farmers feel “under siege” from a barrage of negativity over climate change, agricultural emissions, healthy diets and veganism – and they urged a more balanced discussion about more sustainable meat production.

In recent months, the under-fire industry has been highlighted as a key component of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, sparking discussions on the global impact of farm animals on the environment, and debates about whether meat-free diets could be part of the solution to global warming.

It added to the ethical arguments of a vocal vegan movement, endorsed by influential celebrities like Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who recently sparked controversy by saying adopting a vegan diet is the “only way to truly save our planet”. . .

 


Lab meat’s unsavoury science

12/08/2019

Nicola Dennis looks at the unsavoury science behind lab-grown meat:

. . .The process for growing meat in the lab is pretty similar to how I grew my E.coli. Cells from the muscles (myocytes) on an animal are put into a smoothie of nutrients and incubated at body temperature for days on end.

The things that like to grow in a clump of “meat” incubated at body temperature are exactly the kind of things that would like to grow inside a human and cause nasty infections. This is precisely the reason why humans invented refrigerators to cool our food.

A lonesome myocyte, outside its natural environment, is not able to defend itself. Back when it was inside the animal it was living in a very controlled environment. In its natural environment, the immune worked hard to keep it safe from any nasties.

The lab-grown myocytes are going to have to be dosed with antibiotics; there is pretty much no other safe way around it. Even then, it could be hard to maintain food safety.

Strict regulations require withholding periods after stock are given drench or medicine, including antibiotics, to ensure no residues are left in meat. Do we know what, if any, residues are left in lab-grown meat?

When an animal is butchered, there are a lot of ways that we can test if it is safe to eat. We can observe its behaviour before slaughter and we can inspect the non-meat parts of the carcase such as the lungs and liver for anything out of the ordinary.

It is much harder to tell if a bunch of cells in a flask are infected (or malformed in the case of mad cow disease). How are the lab-based meat-mush growers going to ensure that their product is safe to consume on any given day?

Also, since the cells are not exposed to natural hormones in the blood, they will have to be treated with hormones and growth promoters so that they will replicate and grow. The protocols used by the proposed lab-meat companies are proprietary and secretive. However, I was able to dig up some humble science papers on how to culture skeletal myocytes (muscle cells) for research. These were being treated with Epidermal Growth Factor, Basic fibroblast growth factor, Dexamethasone, Insulin, Penicillin, Streptomycin, and Fetuin.

Your lab-grown meat is doping up like a performance-enhancing body-builder.
And that doped up athlete ain’t exactly eating grass, either.

New Zealand stock grows naturally on pasture and crops without the assistance of hormones or any other artificial growth promotants

Now that we have ensured the myocyte’s safety, we still need to feed it. It needs to be kept in a slushy of its favourite food called “medium”, which is a rough approximation of blood. The science papers I looked at all started off with a recipe of “Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium” which doesn’t include eagles, but a complicated mix of amino acids, glucose, salt and vitamins. To this, we add things like foetal calf serum and chicken embryo extract. Both of those ingredients are exactly what they sound like, pieces of cow and chicken foetuses.

Fetal calf serum and chicken embryo extract? That doesn’t sound like the sort of thing a vegan would eat.

At a conservative estimate, more than 40 ingredients are used in the juice keeping the cells alive. You would have to be severely optimistic to think that all these ingredients would be coming from sustainable and ethical sources.

But let’s just focus on the glucose in that recipe. Cultured meat is going to require a LOT of medical-grade glucose (ie: table sugar of the highest standard). Right now, the world produces somewhere between 300 and 500 million tonnes of meat each year. In contrast, global production of sugar (the ordinary kind) is about 180 million tonnes. I have no idea how much sugar is needed to make a kilogram of cultured meat, but I am sure we don’t have enough sugar to make an impact on global meat production.

Sugar is sometimes added to processed meals which include meat but pasture-raised meat is single-ingredient and sugar-free.

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal.

Those last two paragraphs need repeating:

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal.

Eat like our grandparents ate, the closer to nature the better; eat fresh unprocessed food; eat less sugar. This is the advice from health professionals advising on healthy diets.

Lab-grown meat is nothing like our grandparents ate, it’s far from nature, it’s highly processed and sugar is one of its many ingredients.

Simple, slick and safe is a far better recipe for healthy eating than the lab-grown alternatives.

 


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