Rural round-up

05/08/2021

Policies undermining instead of promoting NZ farmers – Glenn Tyrrell:

A national tragedy is occurring and no-one seems aware it is destroying our farming communities and will ultimately do major damage to our economy.

The media have mostly accepted Government spin that farmers are damaging our environment, our planet and our international brand reputation.

It is no wonder consumers are confused and also believe farmers are responsible for global warming when, in New Zealand, nothing could be further from the truth.

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) produced a report that determined livestock and meat production contributed to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGGE), the same amount as transport. . . 

Paper concludes cutting meat won’t reduce a person’s carbon footprint much – Catherine Harris;

A new paper by New Zealand and English scientists concludes that going meatless will only have a small impact on a person’s overall lifetime carbon footprint.

The paper, published in the Swiss-based Sustainability Journal, was written by researchers at Auckland, Massey, Victoria and Oxford universities, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

It found that giving up meat would only reduce the average person’s lifetime contribution to global warming by 2 per cent to 4 per cent.

That was because long-term, the benefits in not eating meat were largely offset by the carbon dioxide created to produce alternative foods and the relatively short life of methane, farming’s key greenhouse gas. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports close to $1 billion in June:

The New Zealand red meat sector continues to perform strongly with overall exports reaching $937 million in June, up 16% year-on-year, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat exports increased by 15% to $345 million compared with June 2020.

Beef exports rose 8% to $411 million and co-products rose by 40% to $181 million.

There was also an increase in the value of all categories of co-products, with the largest two categories – prepared meat products and edible offals – increasing by 88% and 30% respectively. . .

Huge Far North water verdict looms as avocados boom – Nita Blake-Persen:

Plans for a massive water take to grow more avocados in the Far North could get the green light in the coming weeks, but there are major concerns among some locals about what that will mean for the environment.

An application to take billions of litres from Te Aupouri aquifer, which sits right at the top of the country, is currently being considered by independent commissioners.

A decision is expected in August. While there has been opposition from the Department of Conservation and many in the community, those wanting the water say the environment is their primary concern too.

In recent years the view from State Highway 1 north of Kaitaia has changed extensively. Former paddocks are now covered with bright wind breaks, protecting tens of thousands of avocado trees, stretching as far as the eye can see. . . 

Livestock feed support available for flood-affected farmers in the South Island:

Flood-affected farmers in the South Island are being encouraged to make use of livestock feed support services funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Widespread flooding across the Canterbury, West Coast, Tasman, and Marlborough areas this winter has damaged pasture and caused losses to supplementary feed.

Since June, MPI has boosted feed support services and allocated more than $4.7 million for recovery grants, technical advice, and wellbeing support.

“Several of these regions had been battling long-term drought prior to the floods which have put further pressure on feed supplies heading into calving and lambing,” said MPI’s director of rural communities and farming support Nick Story. . . 

New charitable trust for New Zealand’s horticulture sector:

A new charitable trust has launched to support the horticulture industry.

The work of the MG Marketing Charitable Trust (MG Trust) is funded by New Zealand’s leading produce wholesaler, MG Marketing. The grower-owned cooperative provided a cash donation of $170,000. Ongoing funding will come from annual distributions generated by shares held by the MG Trust.

While the MG Trust will be supported by MG Marketing, it is run independently, with Trustees making key decisions about how funding is allocated.

Horowhenua grower and Chairperson, John Clarke, welcomed the launch of the trust and said that making a positive difference to the New Zealand horticulture sector is at the heart of the MG Charitable Trust (MG Trust). . . 


Rural round-up

21/04/2021

Climate change – proposals impossible for farmers – Brian Fellow:

Unfeasible and unfair” — that pretty much sums up the reaction of pastoral farming sector groups to the Climate Change Commission’s draft plan for reducing agricultural emissions out to 2035.

The latest national greenhouse gas inventory, released this week, tells us that enteric methane — belched out by ruminant animals and much the largest source of emissions from farms — made up 37 per cent of national emissions in 2019. That is too large a share to be left in the too-hard basket.

But the inventory also tells us that the increase in annual enteric methane emissions since 1990 has been only 5.5 per cent, when gross emissions from all sources have risen by 26 per cent over that period. Between 2018 and 2019, enteric methane emissions increased at only one-tenth of the pace of emissions generally.

This suggests they are not the most pressing problem; carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use is. . . 

Call a halt to housing eating away at our food production potential – Feds :

While the Ministry for the Environment Our Land 2021 report identifies some challenges in front of us, it also includes plenty of positives, Federated Farmers says.

“The fact that 49% of New Zealand remains native land cover is something to be proud of, especially as we get ready for the release of the National Policy Statement Indigenous Biodiversity,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Our Land 2021, released today, also notes no decline in soil quality from 1994-2018, “and that’s worth acknowledging given the big jump in food production and value from a declining area in farmland. Farmers rely upon good soils, and we’re positive about soil quality improvements to come through good management practices. Federated Farmers would encourage the Ministry for the Environment to use a more current and wider soil data base to determine current soil health across New Zealand, as the data used in this instance seems too small to give an accurate picture. . .

Family does hard yards to transform station – Sally Rae:

The Pavletich family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Station Peak, on the north bank of the Waitaki River. Rural editor Sally Rae speaks to them about their lengthy tenure on the land — and their plans for the future.

Kieran Pavletich always knew that water was the key to the success of Station Peak.

It was his vision to one day see the flats of the property, on the Hakataramea Highway near the Hakataramea township, green, using the valuable resource of the neighbouring Waitaki River.

He and his wife Julie moved to live on the farm in 1982 and, soon after, 120ha was developed into border-dyke irrigation. Unfortunately, that development coincided with the toughest farming climate since the Depression. . . 

James Cameron explains dairy cattle grazing decision for his Wairarapa farm – Nita Blake-Persen:

Film director James Cameron is defending his decision to graze hundreds of dairy cattle on his farm, despite being an outspoken critic of animal agriculture.

Cameron and his wife, environmentalist Suzy Amis Cameron, own about 1500 hectares of land in South Wairarapa, which they are transforming into an organic vegetable farm.

They are big proponents of plant-based diets and have been outspoken about the need to move away from animal products to improve the environment.

That’s prompted some criticism from Wairarapa locals who say they are not walking the talk when it comes to being “animal-free”, given there are hundreds of cows on the Camerons’ farm. . .

Australian farmers attracting Kiwi workers with relocation packages  – Sally Murphy:

An Australian recruiter hopes the trans-Tasman travel bubble will help fill huge shortages of labour on Australian farms.

In November the Australian Government began offering $2000 for New Zealanders to relocate to help with the shortage of horticulture and agriculture workers.

With the quarantine-free travel bubble open, recruiters across the ditch are now stepping up their advertising campaigns – offering free airfares and good wages.

A farm in Western Australia has put the call out for an air-seeder tractor operator – offering free airfares, accommodation, food and $32.50 an hour. . . 

 

Pig farmers urged to ramp up biosecurity measures as illegal importation of pork increases – Jane McNaughton and Warwick Long:

The pork industry is calling on pig owners to boost their biosecurity measures after African swine fever (ASF) and foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus fragments were again detected in pork products seized at Australia’s international mail centres.

Between November 5, 2018 and December 31, 2020, 42.8 tonnes of pork products were intercepted on air travellers, and 9.4 tonnes intercepted in mail items at the Australian border.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said FMD was considered the biggest animal disease threat to Australia’s agriculture.

“An outbreak of FMD in Australia would lead to the closure of major livestock, beef, lamb, dairy and pork export markets with serious economic and social effects in other sectors, including tourism,” he said. . . 


Rural round-up

05/02/2021

Dairy prices and Fonterra’s re-establishment as a global leader should be celebrated far beyond the cowsheds – Point of Order:

The New Zealand economy, although battered  by the  Covid-19 pandemic, has  moved   into 2021  in  better  shape  than  anyone  might have predicted  just six months ago.

To  a degree  this has been due  to  the  continuing vibrant performance  in the export  sector  particularly  by the  primary industries. This  week  there  was a  fresh surge  of  confidence   within that sector  because of the signal from the big dairy co-op, Fonterra, in lifting its  milk payout  forecast.

Fonterra  now expects to pay farmers between $6.90-$7.50kg/MS. That is up 20c a kg from its previous forecast range of $6.70 -$7.30. . . 

Dairy markets have hit a sweet spot but big challenges remain – Keith Woodford:

Global dairy markets continue to grow despite negative sentiment in some quarters. The Climate Change Commission expects less cows to be balanced by more milk per cow. Man-made ‘udder factories’ are yet to emerge.

The combined effect of the three latest global dairy auctions has been that US-dollar prices for dairy have risen eleven percent since Christmas. A farmgate payment above $NZ7 for each kg of milksolids (MS) of fat plus protein for the dairy year ending in May 2021 now looks close to ‘baked in’.

This means that for a second year, farmgate prices will exceed $7. This will be the first time that prices have stayed above $7 per kgMS for two consecutive years.

It will also mean that five years have passed since the two bad years of 2015 and 2016. The bad years were largely driven by EU internal quota removals and a consequent surge in EU production. . . 

Feds survey shows farmer confidence has bounced back:

Farmer confidence has bounced back to where it was pre-Covid19 but attracting and retaining staff remains a headache, the latest Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Of the nearly 1,100 farmers who completed the Research First survey in the second week of January, a net 5.5% considered current economic conditions to be good. That’s a 34-point jump from the July 2020 survey when a net 28.6% considered them bad, marking the lowest level of farmer confidence in the 12 years the six-monthly survey had been conducted.

“Looking ahead, a net 43.8% expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months. That sound a bit grim, but just six months ago 58.7% of survey respondents expected a deteriorating economy,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“I think farmers, like other New Zealanders, are feeling buoyed by the way we’ve handled the pandemic despite the torpedo to international tourism. The agricultural sector is willing and able to maintain production so long as regulatory and other stumbling blocks don’t trip us up.” . . 

Positive attitude asset during lockdown:

A new study* has found a strong ‘can do’ attitude and cooperative spirit in the agricultural industries were significant factors in minimising losses and uncertainties during the COVID restrictions last year in New Zealand and Australia.

Co-authored by Lincoln University’s Dr Lei Cong, with contributors from a number of institutions including AgResearch, The University of Queensland, NZ Institute of Economic Research, and Plant and Food Research, it measures the immediate impacts of COVID-19 control measures to June 2020 on the agri-food systems of Australia and New Zealand and how resilient those systems were.

It found the effects on both countries were broadly similar, and there were relatively minor economic impacts across the surveyed industries.

It stated the high level of ingenuity in the rural communities, both in Australia and New Zealand, was likely a key element of their resilience and capacity to overcome movement restrictions and the disruption of value chains. . . 

Kiwi conservationists count wins in war on wallabies – Nita Blake-Persen:

Pest control experts say they are finally starting to make a dent in New Zealand’s exploding wallaby population, as a battle to stop them destroying native forests rages on.

Checkpoint cameraman Nick Monro and reporter Nita Blake-Persen headed out on a hunt to see how it’s all going.

The government last year allocated $27 million towards culling wallabies as part of its Job for Nature programme.

Among those to receive funding is Dr Tim Day, a pest control expert working in the Bay of Plenty.

Wallaby numbers have been growing in the area in recent times, and Day described them as a “little known villain”. . . 

Scientists have taught spinach to send emails and it could warn us about climate change – Marthe de Ferrer:

It may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, but scientists have managed to engineer spinach plants which are capable of sending emails.

Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists. . . 

 


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