Healthy Waterways submission

October 30, 2019

Submissions  on freshwater policy close tomorrow.

You can make a submission here or email it to:  consultation.freshwater@mfe.govt.nz 

Federated Farmers has advice on how to submit here.

My submission is:

The goal of cleaner waterways should not be up for debate.

But how clean, how quickly and at what cost is.

1. I support the requirement for Farm Environment Plans.

The North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) requires independently audited FEPs from all farms it supplies as a condition of its consent and this works well.

2. All regulation must balance environmental requirements against the financial and social costs.

a) The North Otago Irrigation Scheme has had significant environmental, economic and social benefits.

i) Before irrigation there were four houses on our farm and the two immediate neighbours’. There are now 16, most of which are occupied by young families.

ii) This development has been repeated all over the district which is now drought-proofed.

iii) New on-farm jobs have been complimented by the creation of jobs for people who service and supply farmers.

iv) This has resulted in a significant economic and social boost to the Waitaki District and the town of Oamaru.

v) The consent condition included the supply of water to the Waiareka Creek. What used to be a series of stagnant pools most of the year is now a clear-flowing stream all year.

vi) The consent condition requiring farm environment plans which are independently audited each year has allowed development to proceed while protecting soils and waterways.

vii) This sort of development and the environmental, economic and social benefits which have resulted from it would not have been  able to be done if the policies proposed had been in place.

viii) New policy must ensure new irrigation schemes can go ahead.

3. Regulation based on effects is better than prescriptive policy which will stymie development.

4. All policy must take into account the ability of farmers and councils to implement and monitor requirements.

i) It would take years to build up the workforce of suitably trained and skilled advisors, consultants and council staff required to implement and monitor the proposed policies.

5. Policy must not take a blanket-approach to regulation.

i) Different catchments and different areas within catchments require different policies.

II) Different climate,  different topography, different soils, different gradients require different treatments within catchments.

6. Policy working towards cleaner waterways must balance social and economic factors with environmental ones.

i) Primary production plays a significant role in the economic and social wellbeing of New Zealand.

ii) Anything which harmed that would not just make individuals and communities poorer it would make New Zealand poorer thereby reducing its ability to pay for environmental improvements.

7. Policy working towards cleaner waterways must address the problem of fouling by colonies of birds.

i) Testing by the Otago Regional Council has found high E Coli levels in the Kakanui River are due to sea gulls, many of which are protected.

ii) This is not peculiar to the Kakanui River, fouling by protected species and other birds, including game birds, happens all over the country.

iii) I accept the need to leave protected species alone during nesting but we will never get clean waterways if they return year after year. Policy must allow action to re-locate nesting areas well away from waterways.

 


Rural round-up

July 23, 2019

Pine trees cast shadow of death over NZ native plants and animals – Mike Cranstone:

NEW Zealand has always been challenged to move from commodity mass production to targeting higher value, whether it be in agriculture, tourism or our manufacturing businesses.

In this country’s frantic race to deliver on a throw-away election comment of 1 billion trees, we seem to be chasing numbers and not quality.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of productive farmland is being removed from livestock production by investors chasing a potential windfall from a speculated rising carbon price. . .

Share sale last chance – Sally Rae:

A share offer for the last 14% of the North Otago Irrigation Company shares issued but not taken up at the time of the scheme expansion in 2014 now represent the last chance for farmers in the scheme area to secure water. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae finds out how the scheme has benefited North Otago.

Agriculture has plenty of challenges and the list is building by the day.

But North Otago Irrigation Company chairman Matt Ross reckons if people went for a drive around rural North Otago and saw some of the businesses operating, they would say, “isn’t that amazing?”. . .

Mel and Janelle – the city slickers turned Tauranga dairy farm superstars – Jean Bell:

After trading in the corporate life in downtown Auckland’s grey streets for the luscious green pastures of a Ōhauiti dairy farm, Janelle Nee and Mel McEntyre aren’t looking back.

The couple took over Nee’s family farm in 2016 and they’ve taken to farming like ducks take to the water, picking up a Fonterra farming award and getting the farm out of a deficit along the way.

“Three years ago if someone had said to me, ‘oh you’re gonna love your cows,’ I would’ve been like, ‘oh whatever’,” McEntyre says, with a flick of the hand and a roll of the eye. . .

Love meat not plastic – Kit Arkwright:

It’s Plastic Free July – did you know? For those that don’t, this global movement helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities, writes Kit Arkwright from New Zealand’s domestic meat promotion body.

Plastic is an issue close to many Kiwi’s hearts. The recent ‘Better Futures’ study by Colmar Brunton ranks plastic waste as the number one issue for New Zealanders. It featured above issues like the cost of living, protection of children and suicide rates. To say now is the time for the meat industry to take a long, hard look at how it reduces its impact on plastic waste is an understatement.

The issue of plastic packaging for meat is not a simple situation. Plastic packaging offers the most effective solution to ensuring meat has a viable shelf-life and it also offers a safe option for ensuring the high standards of food safety we have come to expect as a given here in New Zealand. . . 

 

Grace winds down now he’s 93 – Annette Scott:

At 93 Ashburton farmer Keith Grice has decided it’s time to hang up his hat on sheep farming but the true dinkum landlubber is not ready yet to leave his land. He talked to Annette Scott about his 70 years as a sheep farmer.

When the trucks rolled out from Keith Grice’s sheep yards, loaded with his capital stock ewes bound for the annual in-lamb ewe fair at Temuka on July 10, they marked the end of a very long era.

After 70 years farming sheep and at the ripe old age of 93 Grice has decided it’s time to put away his shepherd’s crook.

We need an all hands on deck effort to help farmers in crisis – Margaret Krome:

A friend once described the most traumatic experience of her life. It wasn’t an assault, an accident or even any physical injury. As a child, her father was laid off as an air traffic controller at O’Hare International Airport in a labor standoff that President Ronald Reagan sought to make into labor’s Waterloo. Her whole family had deeply identified with her father’s service and never really recovered, she said. A sense of alarm and despair pervaded her childhood ever after.

Similar trauma is being relived horribly in farm country right now. Farming is deeply personal; I know no farmer for whom it’s just an occupation. Over the years, I’ve sadly witnessed the catastrophes of farm families for whom farm foreclosures, traumatic in themselves, resulted in divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse and other tragedies, including the worst — suicide.

In my experience, although farm foreclosures feel altogether personal, they rarely reflect a farmer’s competence. The terrible wave of farm losses in the 1980s and the current crisis in the farm community were both a long time brewing — a consequence of federal policies that favor agricultural and market concentration, and of disparate policies related to trade, agricultural markets, research, credit, water, immigration and more. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2019

Mystery chopper hangs over stock – Neal Wallace:

Southland farmers are feeling under siege by campaigns believed to be by animal welfare and environmental activists questioning intensive livestock wintering practices.

There have been multiple reports in recent weeks of a helicopter with a camera on the front hovering over stock being wintered on crops in various parts of the province.

Separately, Waikato businessman Angus Robson has confirmed he plans to travel to Southland as part of a campaign highlighting questionable wintering practices. . .

Bacteria key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from sheep – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand scientists have singled out the microbes responsible for producing methane in sheep, a discovery which could help reduce emissions from livestock.

Scientists from AgResearch and Otago University are part of a global team that has identified processes that control methane production in sheep and other ruminant animals like cattle and deer.

As well as identifying gut bacteria which produce hydrogen during digestion in sheep, the researchers discovered which organisms feed on that hydrogen in the production of methane.  . .

New NOIC chief executive – Sally Brooker:

Andrew Rodwell brings international leadership experience to his new job as chief executive of the North Otago Irrigation Company.

He has replaced Robyn Wells, who spent nearly nine years in the role.

Mr Rodwell has a BSc from Canterbury University and a finance diploma from Auckland University’s Graduate School of Business.

As New Zealand’s trade commissioner in Los Angeles he focused on food and agritech, then formed and led a United States subsidiary for Telecom New Zealand. . .

Beekeeper buzzing after honey medals – Richard Davison:

A South Otago beekeeper is enjoying a sweet buzz after flying high at the country’s top honey awards.

Allen McCaw, of Milburn Apiaries near Milton, received the Supreme Award at the ApiNZ National Honey Competition in Rotorua recently, after hauling in two golds, a silver and a bronze medal for his creamed honey entries.

Although he and wife Maria were now working towards retirement, he still enjoyed competing with the honey from his ”cottage” factory to the rear of the couple’s 6.5ha smallholding on State Highway 1, Mr McCaw (69) said. . .

Young Farmers posts big loss – Colin Williscroft:

A one-off gift let Young Farmers record a surplus for its latest financial year instead of a significant loss.

The organisation reported a profit of $4.61 million for the year ending September 30, 2018.

But that was because it was bequeathed a farm valued at $5.5m. 

Its trading results show losses of about $900,000 for the year though chief executive Lynda Coppersmith is confident the organisation is on the right track to ensure that won’t happen again. . .

Stratford shearer Gavin Mutch wins for Scotland at world championships – Mike Watson:

Stratford shearer Gavin Mutch returned to the podium at the world shearing championships in France.

The Scottish-born shearer combined with compatriot Calum Shaw to win the teams’ event at the championships in Le Dorat, western France, at the weekend.

​Mutch and Shaw finished ahead of Welsh pairing Alun Lloyd Jones and Richard Jones, and New Zealand’s Cam Ferguson and Rowland Smith, who were third. . .


Rural round-up

January 10, 2018

Tests confirm cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis on Ashburton farm:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area.

The Ministry’s response incident controller David Yard says milk sampling carried out by the dairy industry just before Christmas revealed a suspected positive result and MPI’s Animal Health Laboratory testing has just confirmed this.

“The affected farm and an associated property have been under controls since Christmas Eve as a precautionary measure. No animals or other risk goods such as used farm equipment have been allowed on or off the property during this time and these controls stand,” Mr Yard says. . . 

Water taxi arrives in North Otago

It’s been a funny old year on Gareth and Sarah Isbister’s farm, Balruddery, near Five Forks.

Swamped by rain, the cattle farmers finished 2017 beside the Kakanui River with new irrigation and options.

The Isbisters are happy to have the extra water on hand after a difficult 12 months for an irrigation rollout in their area.

Their supplier, the farmer-owned North Otago Irrigation Company, was meant to be pumping high-pressure flow to downland farmers like them in late 2016. Joint faults in pipes put paid to that idea, costing shareholders as the contractor fixed its faulty workmanship. . .

Ruawai farmer survives being trampled by stampeding herd:

Dairy farmer Chris Baker says he is “hellishly lucky” to have survived a stampede by his 180 cows that left him trampled, unconscious and with broken bones.

The 61-year old Ruawai man has been a dairy farmer for 40 years, and has never before been in such a life threatening situation.

He does admit to being kicked in the chest and elsewhere a few times by cows, “but that’s just day to day farming.”

Baker said he did nothing different or wrong last Tuesday but the freak occurrence could have left him dead. He now has a cautionary tale for anyone working on their own on a farm, and with animals. . . 

Pastures imperiled by seawater flooding – Jessie Chiang:

Seawater flooding of rural properties in Kaiaua is going to have a serious impact on farmers, Federated Farmers says.

Wild weather and a king tide last week caused widespread flooding in the coastal region on the western side of the Firth of Thames, leaving behind soaked properties filled with debris.

The federation’s Hauraki-Coromandel president Kevin Robinson said saltwater destroys pastures.

He said farmers would now have to wait for rain to wash away the salt before they could replant grass.

“It’s become evident that there are quite a few farmers there who [have been] significantly affected by the tidal inundation – one farmer 100 percent and others to a lesser degree,” said Mr Robinson. . . 

MyFarm sees dairy farm investments waning, eyes growth in horticulture – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – MyFarm Investments, New Zealand’s largest rural investment syndicator, is moving its focus away from its dairy farming origins and expects future growth to come from smaller overlooked investments such as fruit.

The rural investment firm was set up in 1990, initially investing in dairy farms which it syndicated to investors. It has since diversified into sheep and beef farms, horticulture and mussel farming and has more than $500 million of rural assets under management. About half its assets are dairy farms, with some 30 percent in sheep and beef farms and 20 percent in other investments, and the company expects its dairy investments to shrink as farms are sold when investments mature while the proportion in other areas grows. . . 

Have banks signalled they’ve had enough of funding the dairy industry? If funding is closed off, the new Govt’s obligations for the industry are likely to be expensive and even more stressful– David Chaston:

Rural borrowers currently owe banks in New Zealand $60.4 bln, according to the Reserve Bank.

With banks over the past decade rushing to support the capital needs of the growing dairy sector, two thirds of this rural debt is held by dairy farmers.

All rural debt represents just 14% of the debt held by banks in New Zealand and pales in comparison to the 56% of all debt banks hold over urban residences ($240 bln). These numbers don’t include another $4.9 bln lent to the rural support sector or the forestry or fishing sectors. . . 

Young Taranaki local wins Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year Award:

Henry Miles is a busy young man who is about to become even busier. Next month, the 21-year-old New Plymouth resident, who is currently Assistant Manager of a Tegel meat chicken farm, will step up to manage a large new free-range farm – which will expand to a total of eight sheds by adding a shed every seven weeks.

It is a role that Henry is well prepared for, having gained a thorough grounding in poultry farming since leaving school in 2014. . . 


Rural round-up

December 19, 2017

The water is on, now for the hard bit – Hamish MacLean:

The $57million North Otago Irrigation Company expansion is complete — much to the relief of shareholders, with weather forecasters predicting a warm, dry summer. But irrigation is not so easy for farmers as simply turning on the water and watching the grass grow, Hamish MacLean finds out.

It could be a couple of years before North Otago’s newest irrigators get to grips with their new resource, but with a big dry spell predicted this summer, farmers are pleased to have a guaranteed water supply.

While the water on the North Otago Irrigation Company’s expansion began flowing in September, it was the end of November when all 85 off-takes of the expansion were commissioned, reaching the end of the line at All Day Bay. . . 

Rabobank New Zealand announces new CEO:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced it proposes to appoint Todd Charteris to the position of chief executive officer, subject to regulatory approval.

Rabobank New Zealand chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Mr Charteris “will bring significant experience with Rabobank on both sides of the Tasman to the role of CEO, as well as a deep knowledge of agribusiness and extensive relationships across the global Rabobank network”. . . 

Jonni keeps quality core at Stirling cheese – Sally Rae:

You could call Jonni de Malmanche a jack-of-all-trades, or more accurately, a Jane of them.

The South Otago woman is one of the long-serving staff members at Fonterra’s Stirling cheese factory, having worked there for the past 23 years.

“I still enjoy coming to work every day. I love the people, I love basically what Stirling stands for which is we make great cheese,” she said.

The factory, which opened in 1983, was built by the Otago Cheese Company, formed after the merger of three small South Otago dairy companies. In 2010, Fonterra spent $7.75 million upgrading the factory. . . 

 

Westland Milk Products soon to announce new products – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand’s second largest milk company is planning to step away from selling dairy products alone and expand into alternative protein and blended products.

Westland Milk Products has bounced back from a $14.5m loss in 2015/16 to break even this year.

Chief executive Toni Brendish says the co-operative worked hard over the past year to become more efficient.

The company’s purpose was now “nourishment made beautifully for generations” which she said gave it freedom to go beyond traditional dairy products. . . 

Dry summer weather prompts farmers to offload stock, AgriHQ – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Dry summer weather is denting grass growth, prompting farmers to reduce their livestock numbers, with the increased volumes of animals hitting the market starting to weigh on prices, according to AgriHQ’s Monthly Sheep & Beef report for December.

“The common factor pulling values down throughout NZ is the weather,” AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report. “It was a rapid transition from a particularly wet early spring into one of the driest late spring/early summers in recent years, catching many farmers off guard.”

For the sheep industry, below-average growth rates through November kept a lid on the number of lambs being sent to slaughter, keeping prices higher than anticipated. However numbers were now coming forward in significant volume and the long awaited fall in prices has finally begun, Brick said, noting that meat companies had dropped lamb slaughter prices by 15-20 cents per kilogram over the past fortnight, bringing the price to $7.10/kg. . .

Capital gains tax may be on the horizon with the new government:

With the new government reversing National’s tax cuts in April 2018, the government has now announced the items that are on the tax agenda, and have also signalled other potential changes. Tony Marshall, tax advisory partner for Crowe Horwath, predicts how the government’s new tax agenda may affect farmers.

As promised, the government is forming a Tax Working Group and has stated one of the focuses of the group will be looking into capital gains associated with property speculation. Capital gains tax has always been a contentious topic and sends nervous tension through the farming community. . . 

Monthly Dairy production report November 2017:

Key Statistics:

• NZ milk production for November 2017 was up 4.2% (+3.4% on a milksolids basis)
• NZ milk production for the season-to-date was up 1.8% (+1.8% on a milksolids basis)
• NZ milk production for the 12-months through November 2017 was up 1.3% (+1.9% on a milksolids basis)

Full report here.


Rural round-up

September 23, 2017

North Otago water scheme expansion finally turned on – Yvonne O’Hara:

The $57 million pipeline expansion of the North Otago Irrigation Company’s project has been turned on this week, a year later than planned.

The first stage of the scheme was completed 11 years ago and the expansion was expected to be up and running this time last year, but was held back by problems with the new pipe.

North Otago Irrigation Company chair Leigh Hamilton said the water scheme has been talked about since the 1980s and the first stage of the scheme was built in 2006. . 

Back in business – Tim Fulton:

It was dry for so long Iain Wright started to forget the feel of mud at his feet.

But a “fantastic” amount of rain since autumn has turned his family’s fortunes after three years of Canterbury drought.

“It’s nice to know you can actually grow stuff.

“For so long you couldn’t grow anything,” the sheep and beef farmer said. . . 

Fonterra fails diversity test says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner – Gerard Hutching:

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has given Fonterra a serve for having so few women on its board.

But Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said he couldn’t care if board members were transgender or of any race or colour, as long as they advanced the interests of Fonterra and farmer/shareholders.

Fairlie dairy farmer and current board member Leonie Guiney has been not selected to stand as a candidate for a second term, reducing the numbers of women on the 11-person board to two – Professor Nicola Shadbolt and Donna Smit. . .

New woolhandling event – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of the most prestigious events on the shearing calendar is only two weeks away and this year it will include a new competition featuring the top woolhandlers in the country.

The 56th annual New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships will be held at Molyneux Stadium, Alexandra, on October 6 and 7 and will be open to the public from about 7.30am.

Organising committee member Graeme Bell said the Merino Shears was one of the highlights of the shearing year. . .

One more chance for viticulturist – Yvonne O’Hara:

Annabel Bulk, of Felton Road Wines, has one more chance to win the national Young Viticulturist of the Year title next year before she is too old to enter. She intends to give it her best shot.

Ms Bulk has worked on the Bannockburn vineyard for about six years, and entered the regional competition for the past five.

This year, the vineyard’s assistant viticulturalist won the Central Otago competition and represented the region at the national final at Villa Maria, Marlborough on August 29, coming a close second to winner Tim Adams, from Obsidian, Waiheke Island. . .

Please no more meat regulation says NSW Farmers – NSW Farmers cattle committee chairman Bill Stacy:

The final report from the red meat senate inquiry was released last week. Its conclusions highlighted there are competition issues within the red meat industry, which generally act to the detriment of producers.

The report contained two key recommendations to improve competition. . .


Dave Finlay QSM

June 5, 2017

Dave Finlay has received recognition for his decades of service to irrigation, agriculture, sport and the community.

Mr David Finlay has played a key role in organising the irrigation of farmland in the Lower Waitaki region.

Mr Finlay has served for 41 consecutive years on the committee of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation scheme and the Board of the Lower Waitaki irrigation company, a scheme that irrigates more than 19,000 hectares of farmland.

In the 1990s he was a key player in the Irrigation North Otago group that developed an irrigation solution for the hills and downlands of North Otago. His contributions to irrigation have transformed the region and he has overseen the developments from inception through to completion.

In 1976 he was a founding member of the Lower Waitaki Golf Club and served as the Club President for four years. He is an active member of the St Kevin’s College Foundation and is involved with leading meetings, raising funds and recruiting new members.

He was a member of North Otago Federated Farmers and served a two year term as the Meat and Wool Chairman, representing the region in Wellington.

Mr Finlay has also held several coaching and administrative roles for North Otago Rugby and his efforts have encouraged schoolchildren to take up the sport.

Dave’s enthusiasm and dedication are legendary, he has more than earned this recognition for his service.

The ODT covers Dave’s QSM and other Southern recipients of honours here.


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