Rural round-up

16/11/2020

Rural water users challenge Kaikōura council plans to treat their water :

Water supply users say the Kaikōura District Council should have talked to them before coming up with expensive plans to treat their bore water.

Like councils around the country, the council is upgrading water supplies to meet the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards before the government’s new water regulator Taumata Arowai takes over next year.

Council operations manager Dave Clibbery has recommended splitting the East Coast scheme in two, building a $100,000 treatment plant for Clarence and having farms switch to rainwater for domestic use, at their own expense.

The East Coast scheme supplies 21 rural properties and 13 households in Clarence village, with the bulk of the water used for stock. . . 

Horticulture NZ keen to work with new government:

Horticulture New Zealand – which advocates for New Zealand’s 6000 plus fruit and vegetable growers – is keen to work with the new Government to ensure the industry can continue to grow and support New Zealand’s post-Covid economic and social recovery.

‘New Zealanders have spoken strongly and provided the new Government with a significant mandate,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘We’re keen to continue to work constructively with Minister Damien O’Conner, including in his new role as Trade and Export Growth Economic Minister. We want to ensure the horticulture industry is enabled to grow in line with Fit for a Better World, while at the same time responding to its environmental and climate change obligations.

‘In 2019, the New Zealand horticulture industry was worth more $6.39 billion and has grown by 64% in the past ten years. That is thanks to industry innovation and grower investment in new varieties and growing techniques to stay ahead of international competition and respond to consumer preferences. This growth is also because the industry is a sustainable user of land.’ . .

Jager backs sheep milk industry – Gerald Piddock:

Can the Zespri business model work for New Zealand’s sheep milking industry? Its former chief executive Lain Jager believes it can.

If successful, it would transform the industry into a billion-dollar industry that delivered for its farmers, Jager told around 400 people at Spring Sheep Milk Company’s annual open day held on a farm near Cambridge.

Jager is one of Spring Sheep’s directors and is also chair of the Primary Sector Council.

In 2015, Spring Sheep chief executive Scottie Chapman approached Jager about wanting to copy the Zespri model to develop a NZ sheep milking industry. . . 

Sale hammer falls on large-scale central North Island Ata Rangi Pastoral dairying venture – Andrea Fox:

Ata Rangi Pastoral, a large-scale central North Island dairying venture which aimed to show how sustainable, pasture-based production was done, has turned sour, with the last properties sold last week under the auction hammer.

Ata Rangi Pastoral was registered in 2015, to establish, by conversion, five dairy units and one dry-stock, or dairy support, farm on a swathe of forested land north of Taupo, stretching from Whakamaru to Tokoroa.

Founding shareholders New Zealanders Brent Cook and Ged Donald were reported at the time to be aiming to be the standard-bearer for sustainable, pasture-based production in New Zealand. The pair returned the land to New Zealand ownership, purchasing it from a US investment fund. . . 

Nothing beats milking elite jersey cows:

Sophia Clark didn’t think she would end up a dairy farmer but a season milking Jersey cows showed her that a career in farming could deliver both a business and a lifestyle.

Sophia and her partner Aaron Mills are 50/50 sharemilkers for Bernie and Gaye Hermann at Paengaroa, near Te Puke, where they milk a herd of 550 elite Jersey cows.

Sophia says the herd, which is in the top 1% of herds across all breeds based on breeding worth (BW), is perfectly suited to the farm. “We are a hilly farm, running a lower input system and milking once-a-day over summer.

Jerseys are well suited to our operation and enable us to farm the way we want to farm – not too much time spent on the tractor or too many bells and whistles – just a simple, efficient, profitable system.” . . .

Defending Beef The Case for Sustainable Meat Production :

For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one.

But is the matter really so clear cut? Hardly, argues environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman in her new book, Defending Beef.

The public has long been led to believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations.

In Defending Beef, Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Hahn Niman argues that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment. . . 


Rural round-up

26/10/2020

GE bogged down by ambiguous rules – Richard Rennie:

Over a year after the Royal Society Te Aparangi report on genetic engineering called for an overhaul on regulations, New Zealand continues to lack a framework that can accommodate the rapidly advancing technology.

Dr David Penman, who was co-chair on the society’s investigating panel, told delegates at this year’s gene editing forum there was too much focus on the processes behind gene engineering (GE), rather than taking an outcome-based approach to what it could deliver.

“The regulation needs to be proportionate to the risk. For example, mutagenesis, using radiation to find gene mutations is not genetic engineering, but targeted gene editing is,” he said.

He says there also remained an enormous diversity of acts that scientists and researchers have to pick through when contemplating such technology.  . . 

Farmers must lead regen ag debate – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers risk having regenerative agriculture defined for them if they do not take ownership of the debate around its meaning.

Alpha Food Labs founder and co-chief executive Mike Lee says that could lead to an unfavourable definition forced on them and farmers losing control of the narrative.

Speaking at an NZX-Beef + Lamb NZ webinar on what regenerative agriculture meant for New Zealand, the US-based food strategist says the debate over what regenerative agriculture is must be a producer-led movement.

He says rather than thinking about the term, people should think about their mental framework around leaving the earth in a better way than when they got here. . . 

Tradie farmer living her dream – Cheyenne Nicholson:

A Waikato farmer is thriving on the challenge of a new dairying career alongside a successful lighting business. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

OKOROIRE dairy farmer Laura Mitchell is all about tackling a challenge. And, growing a successful business during a pandemic is definitely that. Throw in a new career path in dairying and raising her three-year-old daughter Amber, and you could say Laura has her hands full.

The idea of being a farmer herself was never really on her radar despite always being drawn to the land and growing up on her parents dairy farm. At 16, she decided school wasn’t for her anymore and opted to leave and gain qualifications in a trade. . . 

Tales of the land girls shared at Maungati – Simon Edwards:

Among the crowd of more than 120 who travelled to Maungati, near Timaru, on Sunday to remember the World War II ‘land girls’ were two particularly special guests – Sadie Lietze (nee Stuart) and Daphne Attfield (nee Williams).

Now in their late 90s, the pair represented the last of the ranks of the New Zealand Women’s Land Service (WLS).  Like Joan Butland of Auckland, whose health didn’t permit her to make the trip south, they were among the more than 2,700 young women aged 17 to their early 20s – many of them from the cities – who in the 1940s kept farms and orchards going when men were called up to fight.  Their efforts were crucial in an era when New Zealand was still the offshore farm of Britain and locals as well as tens of thousands of American servicemen in the Pacific needed to be fed. . . 

Made with Care: Great cheese needs great milk:

With one and a half decades of experience in cheese making, Cathy Lang knows her stuff when it comes to cheese and is excited to be involved in NZ Trade and Enterprise’s international “Made with Care” campaign.

The campaign is designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand food and beverage products by demonstrating the care we take when we produce them.

Now more than ever, amid a global health pandemic, consumers are looking for safe, nutritious and premium quality food and beverage that is ethically produced and tastes good too. New Zealand’s combination of exceptional natural resources and experienced food producers, like Cathy, sets us apart and perfectly positions us to meet the needs of consumers. . . 

Can cattle grazing be good for the environment? – Eric Tegethoff:

 The ancient plains of Montana once hosted herds of animals that grazed the land. Now, cattle and other domesticated animals do that work.

According to former environmental lawyer and author Nicolette Hahn Niman, the planet actually is grazed far less than it used to be. Her book “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” explores the benefits of raising cattle and the positive effects it can have on the land – when it’s done correctly.

“Rather than so much attention being paid to the negative impacts of cattle when they’re poorly managed,” she said, “we should be focusing on the tremendous benefits of well-managed grazing.”

Cattle ranching has been criticized by some as contributing to climate change. However, Hahn Niman said, well-managed grazing can improve soil health and even help sequester carbon dioxide. She said it also can help keep water in the soil. . . 


Rural round-up

10/08/2019

New research shows negative impact of mass forestry planting on productive sheep and beef land:

Large scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to forestry as a result of the Zero Carbon Bill will have a significant negative impact on rural New Zealand, according to research released by Beef + Lamb New Zealand. 

An analysis of Wairoa, where 8,486 hectares of sheep and beef farmland has, or is in the process of being, converted to forestry, shows forestry provides fewer jobs in rural communities than sheep and beef farms.

Rural consultancy BakerAg was commissioned by B+LNZ to compare the economic and employment effects of the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

The report, Social-economic impacts of large scale afforestation on rural communities in the Wairoa District, found that if all the sheep and beef farms in Wairoa were converted to forestry, then Wairoa would see a net loss of nearly 700 local jobs (the equivalent of one in five jobs in Wairoa) and net $23.5 million less spent in the local economy when compared to blanket forestry (excluding harvest year). . . 

Fonterra’s financial wellbeing and global auction prices are among the dairy sector’s challenges – Point of Order:

It’s shaping   up as a  tough  season  for  New Zealand’s  dairy farmers,  who  once  proudly  wore  the  label  of  the  “backbone of the  NZ  economy” , earning  by far the  largest  share of the country’s  export income.

So  what  are  the  problems  confronting  the industry?

Uncertainty in markets, for starters.   Prices  at the latest  Global Dairy  Trade  auction this  week slid  downward for  the fifth  time in  six  auctions.

The  Chinese  economy is under pressure   as  Trump steps up  his tariff  war.  Brexit  is a  threat which  could disrupt  NZ’s  dairy trade to  both the UK and EU markets. . .

Big tick for farmers – Neal Wallace:

The red meat industry hopes to ramp up its Taste Pure Nature brand campaign on the back of the latest international climate change report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is being welcomed by New Zealand farming leaders as an endorsement of our low impact systems and the importance of maintaining food production.

The IPCC says land on which we rely for food, water, energy, health and wellbeing is already under pressure and climate change will exacerbate that through desertification and land degradation potentially affecting food security.

The report’s advocacy of a balanced diet including animal protein sourced from resilient, sustainable, low greenhouse gas systems is an endorsement for NZ, Beef + Lamb chief insight officer Jeremy Baker says. . . 

FARMSTRONG: Maintaining fun is the secret:

Tangaroa Walker was the inaugural winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award in 2012 and has gone on to a successful career as a contract milker. Now he’s helping Farmstrong raise awareness of the importance of living well to farm well.

Tangaroa Walker remembers the moment he decided to go farming. 

“I was 11 years old and this guy drove up the driveway of our school in this flash car with his beautiful wife and hopped out.

“He was there to help set up a cross country course. I said ‘Hey man, what do you do?’ He said ‘I’m a farmer’. That was it. I ended up helping him out on his dairy farm when I was 13 and just cracked into it from there.”  . .

The secret to a carbon friendly environment may surprise you – Nicolette Hahn Niman:

I won’t keep you in suspense. The key to carbon-friendly diets lies just beneath your feet: the soil. We are so used to looking skyward when thinking about climate, this is a bit counter-intuitive.

An unlikely combination of building soils and practicing responsible grazing could help mitigate climate change. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Carbon in soils represents both a problem and an opportunity. On the one hand, soil’s degradation is truly alarming. According to the book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, at the current erosion rate the earth “would literally run out of topsoil in little more than a century.” And soil is the source of one-tenth of the earth’s human-caused carbon losses since 1850. . . 

Cow virtual fence trials encouraging: Pamu – Jono Edwards:

A company trialling virtual fencing for cows in Otago using electronic collars says tests show encouraging results.

Pamu Farms, which is the brand name for state-owned enterprise Landcorp Farming Ltd, earlier this year trialled “e-Shepherd” cattle collars at Waipori Station, which it owns.

It took 100 Angus steers equipped with solar-powered collars that show their location through GPS.

When the animals moved near digitally set forbidden zones they were dissuaded with a buzzing noise which gradually grew louder. . .

 

Left behind – Annie Gowen:

The feed chopper was the only machine Bob Krocak ever bought new, back when he was starting out as an ambitious young dairy farmer.

He used it to chop acres of alfalfa and corn to feed his herd of Holstein dairy cattle, which repaid him with some of the creamiest milk in Le Sueur County. The chopper and its fearsome blades lasted through four decades of cold winters, muddy springs and grueling harvests.

Now, on a chilly Saturday morning, Krocak, 64, was standing next to the chopper in the parking lot of Fahey Sales Auctioneers and Appraisers, trying to sell what he had always prized. The 128 Holsteins were already gone, sold last year when his family quit the dairy business after three unprofitable years. . .


Rural round-up

10/01/2017

Eradication helicopter pilot Peter Garden recognised for international work – Debbie Jamieson:

Wanaka man Peter Garden started his flying career as an agricultural pilot in Southland and went on to become one of the world’s pre-eminent eradication helicopter pilots.

The 70-year-old has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to aviation and conservation and said it was circumstances that led him to the work he is being recognised for. . . 

Let the fleeces fall fast – Sally Rae:

Nathan Stratford had been looking forward to sitting down and enjoying a beer over Christmas.

But a successful campaign on the shearing board at the Canterbury A and P Show in November ended that plan.

The Invercargill father-of-two edged out hot favourite Rowland Smith to nail the second spot in the New Zealand team for the world shearing and woolhandling championships.

Come next month, Stratford (42) will be pulling on his moccasins in front of a hometown crowd, albeit peppered with an international flavour, in the ILT Stadium Southland. . . 

The light between ordeals: From drought to storms – and an earthquake – Virginia Larson:

“I should hate this place by now, shouldn’t I? But I don’t. If anything, I’m even more excited about living here.” Doug Avery is on the phone from the family farm at Grassmere, 40km south of Blenheim. The line’s a bit crackly, but not Doug. “It’s the volcanoes and earthquakes and faultlines that have created this country. It’s what we love about it. And now, well, we’re making New Zealand great again!”

I’ve tracked down Doug because I figure if he’s given up after the November 14 Kaikoura quake, there’s no hope for any of us. We might as well hole up in our panic rooms and wait for the apocalypse. . . 

Kiwi are thriving – and so are kereru – Kate Guthrie:

The magnolias aren’t looking too good at Arthur Hinds’ place. His wife Diane used to complain about the damage possums were doing. But that’s not the problem nowadays.

The Department of Conservation dealt to the possums in 2000, just before the Whenuakite Kiwi Care Group started their predator control programme. Arthur joined the Kiwi Care Group early on and today Diane’s magnolias are the victims of the group’s success. Their buds are devastated by an exploding population of kereru. . . 

Actually, raising beef is good for the planet – Nicolette Hahn Niman:“The damage from the kereru is much worse,” says Arthur. “The possums ate the buds, but the kereru are killing the trees.”

People who advocate eating less beef often argue that producing it hurts the environment. Cattle, we are told, have an outsize ecological footprint: They guzzle water, trample plants and soils, and consume precious grains that should be nourishing hungry humans. Lately, critics have blamed bovine burps, flatulence and even breath for climate change.

As a longtime vegetarian and environmental lawyer, I once bought into these claims. But now, after more than a decade of living and working in the business—my husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch but left the company in 2007, and we now have a grass-fed beef company—I’ve come to the opposite view. It isn’t just that the alarm over the environmental effects of beef are overstated. It’s that raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet. . .

An NFL player who has made $37 million spends 12 hours a day working on his family farm in the off-season – Cork Gaines:

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is in the second year of a four-year, $39 million contract and has already made $37 million in his career. But when the playoffs are over, he will return to his family farm in tiny Riley, Kansas, where every off-season he goes to put in a full day’s work.

In an interview for a recent issue of ESPN the Magazine, Nelson said he works up to 12 hours a day on the farm, driving a combine to cut wheat or rounding up the 1,000-cow herd in the town whose population is 992.

“Working cattle is my favourite farm duty,” Nelson told ESPN. He said he identifies “more as a farmer” than as a football player. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people

Farmer Nutrition Facts  % Daily value *:

Patience 200%  Common sense 200% Dedication 200%

Love of the land 300% Passion 200% Grit 200%

Sleep 50%

*Percentage daily values may vary depneding on the day.


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