Rural round-up

February 6, 2015

Project to reduce nitrate levels in Ashburton:

A project looking to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater around Ashburton is underway.

The Hinds Drains working party was exploring ways to address what it said were consistently high levels of nitrates in the lower Hinds Plains’ groundwater.

The working party was helping the Ashburton Zone Committee, which was responsible for local water management, with recommendations on minimum flows and water allocations.

Committee chair Donna Field said a Managed Aquifer Recharge, or MAR, project was being explored to manage declining water quality and quantity in the catchment. . .

Delays at slaughter houses:

Dry conditions throughout much of the country means some cockies are now facing long waits to get their stock slaughtered, a Hawkes Bay farmer says.

Federated Farmers Hawkes Bay president Will Foley said the long delays were piling more pressure on farmers who were trying to offload stock.

Mr Foley said huge stock numbers were being sent to the meat works and that was creating a big backlog. . .

ANZ AgriFocus forecasts farmgate milk price of $4.50-to-$4.70/kgMS – Fiona Rotheram:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s farmgate milk price may be $4.50-to-$4.70 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/2015 season with dairy incomes a key downside risk for the economy, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group’s AgriFocus report says.

That compares with the AgriHQ seasonal farmgate milk price of $4.55/kgMS and Fonterra Cooperative Group’s December forecast of $4.70/kgMS, which was down 60 cents on its earlier estimate following a halving of dairy prices during the season.

In its latest Agri Focus report, the bank’s economists said this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, which led to a larger-than-expected jump in the price of whole milk powder to US$3,042 per tonne from US$2,758 two weeks ago, suggests the tide has turned for dairy prices. The question is whether the bounce will be strong enough to ward off further cuts in the 2014/2015 outlook. . .

 

Minimal impact to farm price values from falling commodity price index:

A drop in the latest primary produce commodity price index will have little effect on the valuation matrices many farmers will use for base data when calculating their potential rural property purchasing levels, according to a senior figurehead in the real estate industry.

The latest ANZ Commodity Price Index released this week recorded an overall 0.9 percent fall in January – the 11th consecutive monthly decrease in the index, which is now down some 18.8 percent over the past 12 months. . .

Walter Peak Land Restoration Project:

Real Journeys is embarking on large scale restoration of its land at Walter Peak to ensure visitors continue to have an authentically New Zealand experience.

Almost 90 hectares of wilding Douglas Fir will be removed by logging or spraying (around 40 hectares of the area consists of dense trees – the rest are scattered) in partnership with the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCCG) and Department of Conservation. A further 30 hectares of land will be cleared of invasive weeds such as broom, gorse and hawthorne.

Commercial Director, Tony McQuilkin is behind the move, which he says is both exciting and necessary for a company with a proud tradition in conservation and as a responsible landowner. (Real Journeys purchased 155 hectares at Walter Peak in December 2013.) . . .

 

 


Land use changes put pressure on water quality – Environment Commissioner

November 21, 2013

New Zealand is undergoing huge changes to land use and decision makers need to be aware of the consequences for the future, says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright.

The conclusion comes in her latest report, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution, which examines how New Zealanders are changing the way they use land and the pressure this puts on water quality.

“The report is focused on the two nutrient pollutants – nitrogen and phosphorus. On land they are valuable nutrients, helping plants to grow. But when there is too much of them in water, they become pollutants, and can lead to excessive growth of weeds, slime and algae.

“Over recent years, hundreds of thousands of hectares used for sheep and beef farming have been converted to dairy farming on the one hand, and forestry on the other.

“Conversion to dairying increases nutrient loads on water; conversion to forestry does the opposite.

Dr Wright added: “I applaud the effort that is being put into environmental mitigation on dairy farms. Unfortunately, it is particularly difficult to control nitrogen. Nitrogen – in the form of nitrate – is so soluble that I think of it as the ‘elusive’ pollutant.

“I am pleased that fresh water policy is very much on the Government’s agenda with the recent release of a discussion paper on setting ‘bottom lines’ for water quality. I hope that this report will better inform both the general public and those who make decisions on their behalf.”

The full report is here.

Dr Wright was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon this morning.

We’ve got 20 people coming for dinner tonight and preparing for that is taking priority over reading and discussing the report.

However, given its importance I wanted to give readers the chance to discuss it.


MPI revokes export certificates for 4 Westland dairy consignments

August 19, 2013

The Ministry of Primary Industries has revoked export certificates for four consignments of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland Milk Products following the detection of levels of nitrate that exceed the New Zealand standard.

 Lactoferrin is a naturally occurring protein found in milk. The consignments were derived from two affected batches of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland at its Hokitika factory. One batch was exported directly to China as an ingredient for other dairy products by Westland, and the second batch was supplied to Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company, and also exported to China.

MPI has been advised by Westland, Tatua and their customers, that a small proportion of the lactoferrin was used in consumer products. Almost all of these products are now confirmed as detained in the supply chain. There was no affected lactoferrin used in products in New Zealand.

“MPI’s technical experts have looked closely at this issue and believe any food safety risk to Chinese consumers is negligible because the quantities of lactoferrin used in consumer products was very small, meaning the nitrate levels in those products would easily be within acceptable levels”, MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said.

“MPI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the companies concerned are working closely with the Chinese authorities on this issue,” MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said.

“MPI has sent a team to the Hokitika factory to confirm how this problem arose, and verify the problem is limited to just the two batches identified. It appears to be so, at this time.”

“The consignments exported to China were accompanied by official export certificates stating that the product complies with New Zealand and China’s regulatory requirements.  This was based on testing of composited batches undertaken at the time of manufacturing, which showed no issue. We now know that is not the case and certification has been withdrawn,” Mr Gallacher said.

This isn’t good timing, coming so soon after the precautionary recall of some products which used Fonterra’s  whey protein concentrate.

But it’s important to keep it in perspective.

The affected product has been identified, almost all of it has been contained and there is no food safety issue.

But it will add to perceptions that our quality standards aren’t as high as we boast and put another dent in our reputation for food safety.


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