Rural round-up

06/04/2020

Parker’s readiness to relax the RMA rules should be extended to freshwater constraints on farmers – Point of Order:

Environment  Minister   David  Parker  has directed  officials to find ways  to fast-track consents  for infrastructure and  development  projects. He says   his  goal  is to  help create a pipeline of projects  so that some can  start immediately once  Covid-19 restrictions  are  lifted “so people can get back into work as fast as possible”.

Parker sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact on almost every part of  the economy for some time.

He recognises many New Zealanders have lost their jobs, or may do so in coming months, and many businesses are doing it hard. . .

Pork Industry leaders continue talks with government over surplus problem

Government officials and pork industry leaders have met again today via conference call to try and resolve concerns about a looming animal welfare crisis facing the sector.

As RNZ reported during the week, the pork industry has been getting increasingly worried about the growing number of surplus pigs on farms that cannot be sent to independent butchers. It has been urging the government to help.

Last night, the government decided butchers will be allowed to process pork, but only to supply supermarkets or retailers that are allowed to open.  . .

Milk tankers get clear run – Annette Scott:

The day of a milk tanker driver is different under covid-19 but without the traffic jams and roadworks it’s a lot easier.

Fonterra lower North Island depot manager Paul Phipps said being an essential service means milk is still being collected and processed and collection volumes are not wildly different to previous seasons.

That’s also considering this season’s challenges that have included a significant drought in the North and flooding in the South.

“Being an essential service means we are busy. We take our status as an essential service very seriously. . . 

New Zealand’s apple and pear harvest continues under strict rules:

Like many other horticulture sectors, the 2020 harvest of New Zealand’s apple, pear and nashi crop is well underway, with more than 14,000 workers harvesting around 600,000 tonnes of fruit destined for domestic and global consumers, and for processing.

The government has deemed the production and processing of food and beverages as an essential service, which means that the picking, packing and shipping of fruit can continue but with very strict protocols in place.

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc chief executive Alan Pollard says that the industry understands and acknowledges the privileged position it is in, particularly when other businesses cannot operate.   

Straight Off The Tussock chapter 3 – Tim Fulton:

A continuation of a family story, as first told in 2005 – Straight off the Tussock

James Fulton, Jack’s grandfather, was a teacher on the Isle of Bute, half an hour by ferry from Glasgow. The island is only about eight by four miles wide but when he was headmaster there at Rothesay in about 1845, the school had around 1000 children, stuck out in the Firth of Clyde.

  In 1847, James was appointed director of Edinburgh’s historic Moray House, Scotland’s first teachers’ college and the first in the world to train women. A year later, the institution took a dramatic turn when it mounted a rebellion against the Church of Scotland. Moray House – now part of the University of Edinburgh – started in 1618 and it became a training college in 1813, when the Church of Scotland established a sessional school in the city. In 1835, that school became the Edinburgh Normal and Sessional School. In 1843, however, the disruption of the churches led to the foundation of The Free Church Normal and Sessional School nearby, while the Church of Scotland continued separately. In 1848, one year after James moved there, pupils and teachers of the Sessional School carried their desks down the Royal Mile to the new premises at Moray House. . . 

Food waste costs agriculture billions – Kim Chappell:

THIRTY ONE per cent of produce is being wasted before it even gets off farm – that’s lost income for farmers and lost product for supermarket shelves.

But the $1.1 billion to $2b wastage doesn’t have to be this way – there are gains that can be made to boost farmers’ returns per hectare which will in-turn boost the product hitting supermarkets and reduce waste.

In these times of high-demand as people panic-buy on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the solutions are already coming into play by necessity, in what is possibly the only silver lining to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, says Food Innovation Australia Limited special adviser Mark Barthel, one of the voices behind the Roadmap for reducing Australia’s food waste by half by 2030 . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/12/2019

Action needed now:

Houston – or more correctly Wellington – we have a problem.

And that problem is a shortage of workers right across New Zealand’s primary sector.

The latest example is the apple sector (click here for the story), which is facing a potential $80 million loss in the coming season because of a looming labour shortage.

Apples and Pears NZ chief executive Alan Pollard told Rural News that the main reason for this is the Government’s decision not to allow the numbers of overseas workers required under the RSE (recognised seasonal employer) scheme to meet the needs.  . . 

Analysis of regenerative ag needed – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The groundswell supporting the restoring powers of regenerative agriculture is mostly based on examples from overseas.

The big question should be, do the examples stack up in New Zealand? If yes, no problem. If no, what might happen? Would there be any unintended consequences?

Answering these and similar questions is the goal of scientific research.

The foundation for advancing knowledge is laid by identifying the problem and then analysing what has gone before . . .

Setting up for the future:

Key changes made by Waikato dairy farmers Sam and Jacqui Owen have laid their on-farm groundwork for 2020 and beyond. They’re also focused on growing dairying’s next generation.

The Owens stepped up to 50:50 sharemilking in the 2014/15 season at Walton – then the milk price more than halved. That’s when Sam became chair for MP3, a DairyNZ-supported three-year project focusing on ‘profit, planet and people’, starting with 35 Matamata-Piako farms.

“I wanted to help others make their way through that price drop. MP3 also enabled us to grow our budgeting and financial skills to work out that doing that would be profitable for us. . .

Hail limits summer fruit supply – Riley Kennedy:

Some stonefruit will be in short supply this season after a severe hailstorm damaged Hawke’s Bay orchards in October.

The storm hit the region at the most vulnerable time for growers when the fruit was in early spring growth. 

SummerfruitNZ market support manager Richard Mills said the storm was very unusual for the time of year.

“An October hailstorm this bad had not been witnessed before by growers. . . 

Production of red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit is under way:

Zespri expects it will take two years before it can meet demand for its new red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit. 

The company has been trialling the fruit in New Zealand and Singapore, and chief executive Dan Matheson said it had sold well even when priced at 25 percent above green and gold varieties. 

“The response has been quite exciting. We’ve had incredible feedback from our consumers who have been buying the fruit at the supermarket shelf.

“In fact we’ve just had letters coming in from consumers both here in New Zealand and Singapore asking for more of that and ‘why it was only available on the shelf for such short period of time’.” . . 

Imported insect predator to help bees and willow trees to thrive – Eric Frykberg:

Beekeepers are keenly awaiting the arrival of a tiny insect from California which preys on the giant willow aphid.

They say it will help willow trees survive and provide essential food for bees.

Their response follows approval of the parasitoid insect Pauesia nigrovaria by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Scion entomologist Stephanie Sopow said the insect was an an effective control agent. . . 


Birds and people pooh too

20/11/2017

Water quality in Canterbury rivers is improving:

Recreational water quality sampling has found that, of the 52 monitored freshwater swimming sites, 12 have improved a grade, and four declined.

During swimming season (November to March), Environment Canterbury assesses the health risks from faecal contamination at popular swimming sites around the region.

“We test and grade popular places that people swim in Canterbury.  This year 12 sites have improved.  The year before, 10 sites improved and the year before that only five improved, so the trend is going in the right direction,” said Tim Davie, Chief Scientist.

“The improvement demonstrates the hard work of landowners to exclude stock and protect waterways by planting and fencing.  Reduced runoff from two dry summers has helped as well.” . . 

It’s good to see farmers getting credit for the work they’ve done to protect waterways.

Too often farm animals get all the blam but birds and people pooh too and now the blame for some of the problems is correctly being laid on birds:

. . . Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley said large numbers of birds near the Hurunui river were likely to be a major contributor to faecal contamination at the popular swimming spot by State Highway 7, which is the main route to Hamner Springs.

“There is no logic that it is farm related, but we do know there is considerable bird life in the river just upstream of the site,” he said.

But Mr Dalley said he was unsure what could be done to move them on.

“I don’t know what is feasible in terms of whether they can be moved to somewhere else…we will have to talk to bird experts, but we will first have to determine that is the cause,” he said.

Mr Davie said the regional council was continuing testing at the Hurunui site, but it did blame birds for the faecal contamination at Lake Hood’s main swimming beach.

“It’s fundamentally to do with birds and the lake circulation…there was a raft there and the birds sat on it…we had a lot of faecal contamination there,” said Mr Davie.

This isn’t the only place water pollution is caused by birds.

Water pollution isn’t the only problem birds cause.

Growing numbers of native birds is cause for celebration, but the news isn’t all good:

. . . they also warn of a downside if a rampant bird population comes to depend on agricultural crops for food because its natural habitat is too small.

Hawke’s Bay farmer and former president of Federated Farmers, Bruce Wills, has raised the problem.

Mr Wills is a green farmer, and chair of the environmental consultancy Motu.

He also helps eliminate predators on his farm as part of a local wildlife programme, Cape to City, of which he is on the board.

However, Mr Wills said bird restoration might one day be too successful.

“There’s no question, bird numbers have gone through the roof.

“I have never seen the sort of bird numbers that I am seeing now, and most of that is due to the success with predator eradication.”

Mr Wills said large numbers of birds could spread seeds to widespread locations, and there was another problem.

The Hawke’s Bay grows 70 percent of New Zealand’s apples and pears, he said.

“We are bringing the kākā and the kākāriki in from Cape Kidnappers and of course these two birds enjoy eating our apples and pears.

“I have had phone calls of concern from apple and pear growers saying this is great but potentially will have an adverse effect on a quickly growing Hawke’s Bay apple and pear industry.”

Mr Wills said he had no intention of abandoning his support of native birds, but said potential overpopulation was an issue that needed to be faced.

Alan Pollard, of New Zealand Apples and Pears, formerly Pipfruit New Zealand, agreed with him.

“There is certainly a risk because obviously apples are a crop that birds are attracted to, so we need to make sure we achieve good population growth but also protect the growing areas that we have.”

Bird life in New Zealand evolved over millions of years to step in with the bush cover that existed before human settlement.

When that bush cover declined, so did the bird population.

But intensive breeding and predator eradication means the bird population could grow faster than the bush that supports it. This could push the population out of synch with modern New Zealand ecology – which has masses of farmland. . . 

Back to water quality, 16 Auckland beaches are unswimmable and human waste is a big part of the problem:

Ecomatters Environment Trust’s Dan Ducker said this was unacceptable. 

The environmentalist said he’d seen day-trippers defecating at such lagoons.

“This happens especially in summer time when the public facilities are quite full, or at times are closed.”

“It’s complicated, but the major health risks to humans comes from humans.”

The lagoons at Piha and Bethells have been contaminated by faeces for years, he said.

Recent Auckland Council reports showed faulty septic tanks were part of the problem. Dog, birds, and livestock faeces have been found in the lagoons.

Waiheke Island’s Little Oneroa has had similar faeces issues.

But Ducker said human faeces at Piha, Karekare and Bethells lagoons “was the most dangerous aspect for humans”. . . 

Farmers, quite rightly, are no longer getting away with the practices which pollute waterways but councils continue to allow leeway for pollution for people and themselves.

Water contamination from people is common in developing countries. It shouldn’t be a problem in New Zealand and wouldn’t be if councils put the effort, and money, into better storm water and sewerage infrastructure.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

04/08/2017

Tool built to stop rogue spray incidents – Adriana Weber:

Winegrowers in Central Otago have developed a new tool to prevent agri-chemicals drifting and damaging their crops.

The Central Otago Winegrowers Association has created a map designed to stop rogue spray incidents.

Its past president, James Dicey, said spray drifting cost winegrowers millions of dollars every year in lost production.

“Grape vines are remarkably difficult to kill but they are ridiculously sensitive to some of these chemicals, so they can take a bit of a hit for a couple of years and that can have a downstream effect on the volume of grapes and the volume of wines that’s produced off those grapes,” he said. . . 

Westland Payout on the Way Up:

Westland Milk Products has reached a milestone in its efforts to offer shareholders a sustainable and industry competitive payout with confirmation of next season’s forecast payout.

Westland is forecasting a net payout range (after retentions) of $6.40 to $6.80 for 2017-18 season – a substantial improvement on the two previous seasons. The industry-competitive forecast comes after ten months of analysis and systems change under its new Chief Executive Toni Brendish and new Chair Pete Morrison, resulting in changes at both managerial and board level to better position the company for success in a changing and challenging global dairy market. . . 

Funding a boost for quake affected farmers says Feds:

Federated Farmers is delighted that a joint application made to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Earthquake Recovery Fund has been successful.

The Federation led the application towards a Farm Business and Land Recovery Programme, which will give direction to recovery research following the Hurunui-Kaikōura earthquake. . . 

Mid-range option considered for Manuherikia water – Alexa Cook:

A new option is on the table for a water scheme in central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments is putting $815,000 funding into the Manuherikia Water Project, which will allow a Falls Dam proposal to move forward.

The dam is about an hour north of Alexandra and, with water permits expiring in the next five years, farmers want reliable irrigation for the future. . . 

Crown Irrigation provides funding for Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora Irrigation Scheme:

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (Crown Irrigation) has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. The South Canterbury area and particularly the greater Opihi catchment has long suffered from water shortages and drought, and numerous water reticulation and supply options have been considered over the years. . . 

New irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new grant funding of over $1.1 million for two irrigation projects in South Canterbury and Central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. . . 

Agricultural Aviation Recognises Outstanding Performance:

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association is pleased to confirm the winners of two awards presented at the Aviation Leadership Gala Awards Dinner in Hamilton on Tuesday 25 July.

‘These awards recognise operational excellence and outstanding industry leadership in agricultural aviation,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA). . . 

Biosecurity heroes recognised at Parliament:

Biosecurity heroes from across the country were recognised in Wellington tonight with the announcement of the 2017 New Zealand Biosecurity Award recipients.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the winners of these inaugural awards have shown a real commitment to protecting New Zealand.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister and crucial in protecting our economy and way of life. These awards recognise that it is a shared responsibility for all New Zealanders, and celebrate the efforts of people who are doing their bit for biosecurity every day. . . 

Extra boost for Bay of Plenty farmers:

Flood-hit farmers in the Bay of Plenty region will have a further opportunity to apply for a grant to help with clean up and recovery, say Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

The $100,000 Primary Industries Flood Recovery Fund is part of a package of additional support totalling $295,000 for farms and orchards who suffered damage following the floods. 

“The Government is committed to ensuring communities in the Bay of Plenty have the support they need to recover from the April floods,” says Mrs Tolley. .  .

Zespri wins top award for US trade:

Zespri won the Supreme Award as well as Exporter of the Year at the AmCham-DHL Awards in Auckland last night, recognising the investment made to grow kiwifruit sales across the United States.

Zespri Chief Operating Officer Simon Limmer says the company is growing strongly across North America, with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Seafood appoints new directors:

Ngāi Tahu Seafood Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of two new directors, Jen Crawford and Ben Bateman, bringing the total of Ngāi Tahu directors on the board to four out of six.

Ms Crawford has 20 years’ national and international legal experience in project consenting and planning, along with governance experience in the Canterbury region. She has previously worked in leading law firms in New Zealand and the UK, including a partnership at Anderson Lloyd. . . 

Seafood industry congratulates its stars:

New Zealand’s seafood stars have been recognised at the industry’s annual conference in Wellington today.

Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand Tim Pankhurst said the conference, titled Oceans of Innovation, was a celebration of the exciting developments in the industry over the past few years, most of which were not well known.

“Some of the recipients of the Seafood Stars Awards played a significant part in the world-leading, cutting edge technology that is making a real difference to the way commercial fishing targets what it needs and is lessening its environmental footprint,” said Pankhurst. . . 

One stop source for New Zealand seafood information launched:

A one-stop source for information on New Zealand seafood was launched at the New Zealand Seafood Industry conference in Wellington today.

OpenSeas is a third-party verified, broad-based transparency initiative designed to enable customers of New Zealand seafood, primarily international customers, a single, comprehensive source of information about the environmental, social and production credentials of the New Zealand seafood industry. . . 

Commercial fishing industry worth more than $4 billion to NZ economy – BERL:

A report from economic researchers, BERL shows New Zealand’s commercial fishing industry is worth $4.18 billion.

Chief Executive of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, Dr Jeremy Helson, says the report confirms the importance of commercial fishing to New Zealand.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries says exports alone are expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2025. Add the contribution to the domestic market through jobs, investment in infrastructure and the sectors supporting the industry and you have a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy,” said Helson. . . 

Name Change for New Zealand’s Top Performing Sector:

The apple and pear industry has a new name, New Zealand Apples and Pears Incorporated, a change from Pipfruit New Zealand.

The unanimous decision was made at the industry’s annual general meeting held in Napier today.

New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive, Alan Pollard, said the new name tells exactly what the industry is “apples and pears” and takes advantage of the strong global reputation of “brand New Zealand”. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk on track for August 2018 production start:

Southland farmers are expressing significant interest in becoming Mataura Valley Milk shareholders and the company expects to fill its supplier requirements, general manager Bernard May says.

The company is striving to be the ‘World’s Best Nutritional Business’ manufacturing and producing premium infant milk formula mainly for export from its purpose-built nutrition plant at McNab, near Gore, Southland. . . 

Update on China Infant Formula Registration Process:

Synlait Milk Limited  and The a2 Milk Company Limited  are confident with the progress of their application to export a2 Platinum® infant formula to China from 1 January 2018.

The CFDA requires manufacturers of infant formula to register brands and recipes with them in order to import products from 1 January 2018. . . 

 


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