Rural round-up

May 27, 2020

Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry  has  a   clear  role  to  play  as  one  of  the   country’s saviours in the  battle to recover  from the global impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic — even if there is  little evidence  that ministers  in the coalition government recognise  its  importance.

The industry, as  it has  done so  often  before,  will  just have to  do  it on  its own.

Luckily, the giant co-op,  Fonterra,   has  stabilised,  after racking up a  massive  $600m  loss  last year and there’s  a refreshed sense  of  where the  dairy industry  stands  in the  economy’s  hierarchy,  as  other pillars (tourism, international  education, air transport, construction)  tumble  over the  pandemic precipice.  Morale  at  the   grassroots  level  is  rising  again. . . 

Rushed log legislation deserves the chop:

Federated Farmers and the Forest Owners Association are joining forces to condemn the Log Brokers Bill as a Trojan horse to potentially force farmers and foresters to subsidise local processing industries from reduced export earnings.

The unwarranted rush over the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill risks unintended consequences, including retaliatory action by nations we trade with, Federated Farmers forestry spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The period for consultation is tighter than even the emergency actions on high-powered automatic firearms spurred by the Christchurch mosque attacks. . . 

Agility and innovation essential for meat exporters – Allan Barber:

The days of bemoaning our meat exporters’ lack of flexibility when everything was exported as frozen carcases are now a distant memory. Even the days of growing the profitable chilled lamb business without upsetting the EU authorities are receding into the distant past, as meat marketers cope with the complexities of marketing to previously time poor, technologically sophisticated consumers around the world now living in lockdown without ready access to restaurants.

AFFCO Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a critical point in time which will result in a permanent shift in buying habits, placing huge emphasis on further processing capacity and weight ranging capability. He sees online as a distinct buying channel where consumers will not seek individually branded products, but a home solution delivered to the door. A local example of this trend is Auckland based Hyper Meat which offers three meat packs for home delivery at different price points, all at specific weights, as well as a range of wines and other beverages. . . .

Irrigation NZ congratulates David Bennett:

IrrigationNZ wishes to congratulate David Bennett as he takes on the agricultural portfolio for the National Party.

The announcement came today as new National Party Leader, Todd Muller, revealed the line-up of the new look National Party caucus.

Mr Bennett takes over from Mr Muller, who was previously in the role. . .

Never let a good crisis go to waste: How our food sector can save NZ’s economy – Rosie Bosworth:

The world will always need food, and New Zealand is enviably positioned to capitalise on this, writes future foods expert Rosie Bosworth – but we need to take a few big steps first. 

It’s a bittersweet moment for New Zealand. As a nation we’ve collectively worked hard to successfully flatten the curve (for now). But for many Kiwi businesses and industries, the economic aftermath of Covid-19 has not been pretty. As with many countries, there have been winners and losers. With some of New Zealand’s top export-earning industries – like international tourism and education, which contribute $16.2 and $5.1 billion respectively to our GDP – having been effectively decommissioned in the wake of Covid, New Zealand must now focus on its other economic heavyweights to help even up the balance sheets.

Now more than ever, our thriving agriculture and food and beverage sectors will be key economic lifelines for the country and crucial points of job creation for hundreds, if not thousands, of Covid-displaced New Zealanders hungry for work. Why? Because the world will always need food. Natural, honest, trusted products that New Zealand is enviably positioned to produce better than any other nation on the planet. Especially in a Covid world, where consumers globally are increasingly seeking immune-boosting, healthy and sustainable products. . . 

Next generation focused on improving dairy reproduction – Samantha Townsend:

When the Yarringtons’ ancestors built their farm with their bare hands the biggest technology at the time was horse and cart.

Six generations later, Rod and his wife Natasha, began using semex AI24 collar systems in February – real time information and reproductive performance technology to improve heat detection and in-calf rates. 

“Getting our cows back in calf was one of our biggest inefficiencies because with just the two of us on the farm, it was hard to be everywhere,” Mrs Yarrington said. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 17, 2020

Forest Owners brace for avalanche of clipboards in government measure:

The Forest Owners Association says the industry anticipates an unacceptable and pointless bureaucratic cost to all parts of the forest industry, if the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill becomes law.

The bill was introduced into Parliament last night and will go to the Environment Select Committee early next month.

The Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor, says the first details forest growers saw of the scheme was when it was introduced last night.

“The government speakers in its first reading debate seem to think that giving a certificate to someone who buys and sells logs, is going to lead to more logs being processed in New Zealand and not exported.” . . .

Agriculture a difficult issue in US – Uk trade negotiations; what a surprise – Point of Order:

London’s Financial Times reports on a struggle within Britain’s cabinet on how much to cut farm tariffs in any US-UK trade deal.  It’s not the most edifying reporting – and the economics are even more questionable.

Of course, there’s always artificiality in the briefing of intra-government squabbles.  Political slogans predominate and reporters struggle to present the real views of ministers who can be incapable of understanding, let alone articulating, the underlying economic arguments.  But here the gap between presentation and reality is truly remarkable.

Britain’s international trade secretary is negotiating with the US government on a post-Brexit trade agreement and apparently wants to offer tariff cuts on food imported from the US.  These are reported as ‘concessions’. . .

In it for the long haul – Colin Williscroft:

The Absolom family farm has the next generation in mind. They want their Hawke’s Bay property to be with their family in at least 100 years so take a long-term approach to everything they do. Colin Williscroft reports.

Brothers Daniel, Jeremy and Ben are the fifth generation of the Absolom family to farm at Rissington where their family has been working the land northwest of Napier since the late 1880s.

During that time they’ve developed a proud history in the area but are not content to leave it at that, keeping a close eye on the future, seeking out and adopting the latest technology and science to put them in front of challenges facing farmers at the grassroots and the industry as a whole. . .

Duck-shooters await season’s starting gun – Molly Houseman:

It will be game on for duck-shooting next weekend.

Hunters across the South breathed a “sigh of relief” over the decision to begin a delayed 2020 bird game season on May 23, following the move into Level 2 on Thursday.

“Game bird hunting is a national tradition and many families see opening day as more sacred than Christmas,” Otago Fish & Game officer Nigel Pacey said.

The Level 2 announcement meant access to hunting grounds and mai mais by air, road or boat travel would be allowed.

Staying overnight would also be allowed as long as people “play it safe”. . . 

Busy Southland woman dairy finalist

Jessica Goodwright leads a busy life. Mrs Goodwright and her husband, Lyall, who have three children, farm at Drummond in Southland in a 50-50 sharemilking and equity partnership with another dairy farm in the region.

She is the Dairy Women’s Network regional leader for Central Southland and manages to find time to study for a diploma in agribusiness management through Primary ITO and is now on her final paper.

Her grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts earned her becoming a finalist in the Dairy Women’s Network’s new DWN regional leader of the year. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: Poppy Renton’s Hawke’s Bay Drought rural Facebook page a ‘lifesaver’

Nineteen-year old Poppy Renton says the lockdown has impacted farmers on a number of fronts. The Maraekakaho-based founder of the now acclaimed Facebook page Hawke’s Bay Drought tells Mark Story the initiative has helped to galvanise a hurting farming community.

What was the spark for the Facebook page?
I wanted to create a space where farmers could have support, provide advice, communicate and share their stories with one another. I also wanted to make New Zealanders aware of what farming conditions are like in Hawke’s Bay at the moment and how dire the situation actually is. I wanted to make farmers aware that, even though we were in lockdown, they aren’t alone. It might not be in person, but there’s someone going through the same thing just down the road.

How’s the uptake so far?
When I made the page I thought only a few people would join and had no idea how fast it would grow. I hoped for 500 people, but that happened on day two, with 882 reached.
I did not expect it to get to 3500 in 11 days.  . . 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2020

Smart green growth requires investment :

An effective recovery from COVID-19 requires on the ground investment in projects that will bring immediate employment benefits and lasting environmental benefits.

Federated Farmer has written to Ministers outlining a range of practical, on the ground initiatives that could provide employment and environmental benefits post COVID19, building on existing work

“We need efficient and effective investment which provides both immediate benefits but also lasting environmental outcomes,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our approach to improving the environment needs to recognise the importance of a robust and strong recovery from COVID-19, to mitigate the economic and social impacts.

“The situation has changed significantly since regulatory proposals in respect to freshwater, biodiversity and climate change were released. Our responses to these challenges need to reflect this new reality.  . . 

Foresters say Shane Jones’ all to preference domestic timber supplies can’t work:

Forest Owners Association President Phil Taylor says a harvest of just about any forest will produce higher grade logs for domestic construction, some logs for export and some lower value wood which is only suitable for domestic chipping.

“We just can’t go in and cut down some parts of a tree to cater to one market without harvesting the whole tree for other markets too. That was clearly shown up when forest companies were unable to export earlier in the year and how difficult it physically was to keep our local mills supplied,” Phil Taylor says.

“It’s not true either that we send all our logs overseas. In most years, the majority of the export value of our forest products comes from added value categories, such as sawn timber and pulp and paper.” . . 

An open letter to Shane Jones, Ministry of Forestry – Adrian Loo:

Dear Minister Jones,

Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Adrian. I am an employee in the forestry industry, a Future Forester, a graduate of Canterbury University and, albeit very small, a forest owner.

Since starting out in the forestry industry 4 years ago I have been lucky enough to experience your leadership first-hand and hear your passionate encouragement of the forest industry and forest owners within it. During this time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to speak at the beehive and describe the amazing opportunities for people involved with forestry. For me the forestry industry represents a world of incredible opportunities, amazing people and is an industry that I am extremely proud to be a part of. . .

 

Kiwi fruit growers aggrieved by PSA outbreak decision:

Kiwifruit growers are aggrieved by today’s Court of Appeal decision that finds the Government was responsible for the 2009 PSA outbreak that devastated the industry but is not liable for the losses. The Kiwifruit Claim have confirmed they will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

“The Court of Appeal held that MPI was negligent in allowing a high-risk shipment of pollen anthers infected with PSA from China into New Zealand. But they found the Government does not owe a duty of care to ordinary New Zealanders and can’t be held liable for its actions, simply because it’s the Government,” said John Cameron, Kiwifruit Claim Chairman. . .

Where there’s wool there’s a way:

With shearing gangs mostly stood down under the level 4 lockdown, farmers face some challenges, reports Jill Herron.

Shearers and wool-handlers across the country are “very keen” to get back to work once Covid 19 restrictions ease – and farmers will be pretty pleased to see them.

As Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Industry Group Chairperson Miles Anderson points out, a trained shearer could crutch around 600 or 700 sheep a day, but the untrained far fewer. And he’s not relishing having to do his own crutching at his Timaru property.

“It’s not impossible for some farmers to do their own but with feeding out and lots going on at this time of year it could be difficult and could lead to some very long days. Myself, if I had to do a full belly crutch I’d probably do 200 the first day but only about 50 the next. It’s something you have to get fit to.” . .

 

Coronavirus: Supply chain urged to play its part supporting British livestock farmers :

NFU and NFU Cymru are urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in stores, which are now in high supply due to the complete loss of the food service market.

In an open letter, NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice-chairman Wyn Evans said that the supply chain has a moral responsibility to act in the interests of both consumers and farmers.

They reiterated that British beef and lamb is in plentiful supply but warned that ongoing high demand for products such as mince would soon become unsustainable. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 26, 2020

Wharves in China can’t take more logs from New Zealand:

Lack of space in Chinese ports is bringing a virtual halt to New Zealand log exports to China.

The Forest Owners Association says precautions in China against coronavirus have resulted in almost no offtake of logs in China for processing and exporters understand that the remaining log yard space at most ports near processing centres is quickly disappearing.

The Association President, Peter Weir says exporters had hoped that business would return to normal after the extended Lunar New Year holiday finished in China two weeks ago. . . 

Northland drought: iwi to divert farm water to Support town supply :

Northland iwi Te Rarawa and Ngāi Takoto are on stand-by to supply water to drought-stricken towns, including Kaikohe and Kaitaia.

The water will be sourced from an aquifer which runs through the iwi-owned farm, Sweetwater.

Once a 4km pipe is installed, up to 2700 cubic metres of water will be pumped from the aquifer a day . .

Chickens come to (mobile) home to roost – Sally Rae:

It is the ultimate in mobile homes.

Thousands of hens are living the life of Riley on Tony and Michelle Pringle’s South Otago farm; pecking their way around the 445ha property near Clydevale from their transportable hen houses.

When it comes to their farming operation, the couple, who milk 450 cows and farm 6500 laying hens, think outside the square — and a lot.

They have a focus on regenerative agriculture and soil health to produce nutrient-dense food. Hens were part of that as they added “another system within a system” — introducing poultry to their farming operation, while not affecting their stock numbers.

The Pringle family, who feature on the first episode of the new series of Country Calendar on March 1, started with 50 hens and quickly discovered people liked their eggs. . . 

Hemp farm opens gates to the curious to promote ‘wonder crop’ – Katie Todd:

Growers of industrial hemp say red tape is stopping industries from making the most of what many regard as a potential wonder crop.

Although it lacks the mind-altering power of its close cousin marijuana, hemp can only be grown and sold subject to Ministry of Health restrictions.

Brad Lake, co-founder of Christchurch hemp food company The Brothers Green, helped organise a hemp farm open day in Culverden yesterday, to showcase the farmers and business utilising the crop and help de-mystify how it’s grown and used. . .

Backing the trillion tree campaign to combat climate crisis – Tom Crowther:

Politicians and influencers are signing up to the campaign, but to get things right we must keep in mind the science behind it, says Tom Crowther:

The recent explosion of interest in tree restoration has transformed the climate change conversation. Although the trillion tree campaign – 1T.org – is now in the realm of politicians and influencers (Greta Thunberg: Davos leaders ignored climate activists’ demands, 24 January), it emerged from scientific literature. But what exactly did the science show?

We estimated that there is up to 0.9bn hectares of degraded land that might support a trillion trees outside of existing forest, urban or agricultural land. Although the exact carbon storage potential is debated, scientists agree that ecosystem restoration is a powerful tool for carbon drawdown.

But with anything this powerful, the risks of getting it wrong can be huge. To avoid these risks, any organisation pledging to the trillion tree campaign should uphold these basic principles. . .

Industrial property investors set to plough funds into agricultural engineering site up for sale:

The land and buildings housing a long-standing farm equipment and machinery engineering plant in the heart of the North Island’s premier dairying region has been placed on the market for sale.

The premises at 5855 State Highway 2 in Netherton features a 620 square metre industrial building complex sitting on a 1.89-hectare block of land zoned rural 1A under the Hauraki District Council plan.

The property has been the headquarters of Quinn Engineering since the 1960s – with the company producing hay-bailing machinery, crate-lifting forklift extensions, and tractor extensions for crop and soil management. Its products are sold throughout New Zealand as well as Australia and the South Pacific. . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2020

Coronavirus: Generates a “perfect storm” for meat exporters & a “get prepared” warning for other business:

Business exporters and importers are advised to take steps to ensure there are ‘no surprises,’ if trade with China is disrupted by the Coronavirus situation.

“Talk to your bank, make sure customer expectations are established and understood, and that no sudden surprises occur,” suggests Auckland Business Chamber head, Michael Barnett.

He sees a perfect storm coming for meat and other traders. . . 

New Zealand forest owners wary of closing access risk in Chinese market:

New Zealand log exporters are bracing themselves for supply chain problems in China due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Some forest owners are already reducing their harvesting rate. Regrettably this will have an immediate effect on harvesting crew employment.

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association says that the extended Lunar New Year public holiday makes it difficult to know what is going to happen when sawmills in China restart. . . 

Fake meat ‘an opportunity not a threat’ for Kiwi farmers – Esther Taunton:

Taranaki dairy farmer Trish Rankin used to worry about the rise of plant-based proteins. Not anymore.

Now she sees alternative proteins paving the way for Kiwi farmers to market their meat and dairy to consumers who just want to do one thing “better”.

“Things like the Impossible Burger aren’t aimed at vegetarians and vegans, they’re aimed at meat eaters who want a meal that’s better for the environment, better for animal health and welfare, and lower in cholesterol.  

“Our meat and dairy ticks those boxes and when people start realising that they can make better choices without having to eat fake meat, that’s where we can come in – we’re the ‘possible’ to the Impossible customer.” . . 

Farmers waiting to count the cost – Richard Davison, Louise Scott, and Karen Pasco:

Farmers across Southland and Otago are counting the cost of serious flooding which has left hundreds of farms underwater and resulted in lost livestock and ruined crops.

The Government declared last night it was a ‘‘medium scale adverse event’’, opening the way for funding of $100,000 through Rural Support Trusts to speed up recovery and provide technical advice.

Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor, who had flown over the affected areas, said the response to the flooding event had been ‘‘absolutely amazing’’. . .

Plant and Food Research sponsors Inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy competition for horticulture:

Plant & Food Research is proud to be a Gold sponsor of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy, Excellence in Māori Horticulture Award 2020. This year marks the first time since its establishment in 1933 that the competition has celebrated outstanding Māori in the horticultural industry.

David Hughes, CEO, Plant & Food Research says, “For decades the competition has alternated between dairy and sheep & beef farming each year. We appreciate this timely recognition of Māori contribution to horticulture. We’re particularly delighted to support this event and be part of its legacy because we believe good practices in horticulture are fundamental for us and te hapori whānui to build a smart green future together.” . .

Zero-carbon Britain presents a subsidy challenge for farmers – Jeremy Clarkson:

There is currently a lot of snarling and teeth-grinding about government plans to let a Chinese company called Huawei install and run lightning-fast 5G services for our driverless cars and our mobile phones and our wind farms.

The Americans say this is madness, because, should there ever be any hostilities with China, which isn’t entirely out of the question, Huawei could come through an electronic back door and instruct our driverless cars to crash into our wind farms, and our nuclear submarines to rain fire on our own cities.

Or the Chinese could simply push a button and switch the whole system off, which would turn Britain into a muddy, medieval hovel full of disease and people with warts on their faces. Imagine your kidwith no wi-fi. You can’t, can you? . . 

New partnership supports sustainable future for New Zealand farming:

We’re delighted to announce that Ruralco has become a strategic partner of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and will be aligned with the nationwide Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The new partnership is timely, as those eligible for the 2020 Awards have just been finalised and can be viewed here.

Ruralco is a values-led farming cooperative that has been supporting farming businesses and their families with competitive pricing and real value since 1963. Their vision is to be the partner of choice for rural New Zealand, a goal which includes supporting credible organisations that are committed to building a sustainable future for farming. . .


Rural round-up

August 19, 2019

Fonterra woes for two biggest shareholders – Rebecca Howard:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s two biggest shareholders – Dairy Holdings and state-owned Landcorp Farming – say the latest downgrade will weigh on their own earnings and add to farmer malaise against a backdrop of already weak confidence.

The dairy exporter this week said it expects to report a full-year loss of as much as $675 million and won’t pay a dividend as it slashes the value of global assets. It will be the second annual loss in a row.

This is a concern and will have quite an impact on farmer balance sheets and cash flow. Our hope is that Fonterra completes the strategy refresh quickly,» said Colin Glass, chief executive of Dairy Holdings. . .

Gene editing could combat ‘weed trees’ and climate change – Esther Taunton:

A forest industry leader has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for serious public debate on genetic technologies.

Forest Owners Association president Peter Weir said the Royal Society Te Apārangi’s recently released report on gene editing should be taken seriously by anyone concerned about the state of the environment.

The report highlighted the problem of wilding conifers, where, despite a multimillion-dollar control programme, the weed trees continued to spread, Weir said. . . 

Farmers call for law change on gene-edited crops – Tom Allen-Stevens:

What sort of regulatory environment for new breeding technologies is required and what will be the implication for farmers, and ultimately consumers, who lie at the heart of this debate? CPM reports exclusively on a survey of farmers.

GM can be a divisive topic, and the farming community is no less split on how and whether it should be introduced as the public in general. Views on gene-editing, however are harder to gauge.

A survey was undertaken in March 2019 by the Gene-Editing for Environment and Crop Improvement Initiative, that represents scientists, breeders and others in the UK agricultural industry with an interest in new breeding technologies (NBTs). The views expressed aren’t representative of farming opinion as the respondents have been selected as those who are relatively well informed on a technology that is, as yet, largely unknown and not commercially available. . . 

We can’t continue to pave paradise and put up a parking lot:

We’ve grown lazy and complacent. Fattened on the plenty provided by rich lands, we are now increasingly turning  our backs on them.

So separated have we become from the production of the food that passes over our plates; so inexorable has the shift been in human resources and amenities from the heartland to the high street, that the Government has seen a need to step in and protect the fertile soils that have long fed it all.

That complacency is built on something of a lie.

Most of us live in cities and other centres of urban sprawl. But the images that we employ to sell our country to others, and the dream to ourselves, are those of bucolic rural spread, mile upon mile upon mile of rolling river, meadow and gentle hill, all leading to majestic mountain ranges. . . 

Seaweeds help curb cow burping :

Queensland researchers say a pink seaweed that stops cows from burping could help slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Asparagopsis grows prolifically off the Queensland coast and a CSIRO study five years ago found it was the only seaweed they knew of that stopped cows burping methane into the atmosphere.

New Zealand research into seaweed supplements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has identified another species with such effects on the nation’s coast.

Researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast are now investigating how it might be farmed on a commercial scale and added to cattle feed to slash emissions. . . 

We need genetic engineering to stave off climate change-induced global hunger – Devang Mehta:

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Special Report on Climate Change and Land, a document authored by 107 experts from 52 countries. It warned that “Land is a critical resource.”

The main conclusion of the report is that humans already use nearly half of the planet’s land for food production and, as global population levels rise, agricultural land is going to be in very short supply. This is because one of the effects of climate-change will be a decline in agricultural productivity across the tropics, meaning that we will need to cut down forests and convert unused land into farmland. This deforestation will lead to even more carbon emissions, culminating in a vicious cycle of increasing warming. 

The report is a frightening 1,400 page-long prediction of rising food costs and starvation of the world’s poor. In fact, behind all the numbers and probability estimates is one truth that carries throughout — that climate change is going to be especially hard on the poor and on people living in the tropics. The IPCC concludes that as carbon dioxide levels rise and the planet warms, farms in temperate latitudes (i.e. the wealthier countries of Europe and North America) will in fact see an increase in yields.  . . 

5 things to do in the countryside – Life of a Country Mum:

Hey lovely country people,

I thought I would give you an in site to some of the top activities I love to do and also activities I can’t wait to do with my baby!

I am a strong believer that all this technology for children is what’s making the world a horrible place (in certain places). What ever happened to us all going to the outside playing, using our imagination. They were the best memories for me when I was younger.

Fields, haybales and making dens! I have so many stories I could tell you with my siblings. . . 

 


OIO favours forestry over farming

May 23, 2019

A newsletter from 50 Shades of Green points out that Overseas Investment Office rules favour forestry over farming:

The unfair advantage.
Did you know, the threshold for farm sales approval is different for farms selling to farmers than it is for farms selling to forestry investors?Forestry doesn’t have to meet the jobs criteria.  Double whammy again, taking out valuable land and jobs at the same time, impacting local communities and displacing jobs.  Sheep + Beef estimate 7  jobs are displaced for 1 forestry job.
We  don’t think the general public is aware of the indications of 5 million hectares of pine trees, what that looks like in 40, 50 years time, and much of  it, with sink initiatives,  not likely to be harvested

 

It is ironic that Shane Jones the self-proclaimed savior of the regions who has the $3 billion provincial slush fund to throw around to create jobs, is also the Minister promoting the billion trees policy which will kill them.

The Paris Accord states that climate change policy should not conflict with food production but Alan Emerson writes that trees are being planted at the expense of food:

Every now and then we hear some idiot describing agriculture as being a sunset industry despite the fact we contribute 79.3% of the country’s wealth.

What we should be discussing is New Zealand becoming a sunset economy because it will be if the Government’s ad hoc response to climate change continues along the line it’s going.

For the record, I accept the climate is changing, human activity has done it and we need to do something to fix it.

What I don’t accept is all the Wellington centric crazy fixes that are, in the main, anti-farmer and without the benefit of solid science and economic calculations grounded in reality.

NZ won’t survive without agriculture.

It is still agriculture which earns most of our export income.

Its carbon footprint per kilogram of product is one of the lowest in the world and we’re producing a lot more with less input than we’ve ever done.

If you take nutrient density into account New Zealand farm produce stacks up even better.

In addition, as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton said, pines are fine for mitigating methane emissions but not for carbon dioxide.

The people who criticize anyone who won’t accept the science on climate change won’t accept this science, nor will they accept the science on gene-editing that could help us reduce methane emissions.

So, why are we planting a billion trees?

Another question is where are we planting them? In Wairarapa we’ve recently lost seven good farms to forestry and that is a major issue.

At Pongaroa they’ve lost between 6000 and 8000 hectares to forestry.

It was interesting to read in last week’s Farmers Weekly Rabobank believes farm forestry will become more appealing. Sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said Government incentives make forestry a more appealing land use option at the cost of food production.

He also said forestry provides opportunity to generate income from area that has been unproductive.

I agree with both statements but was somewhat amazed by comments from Forest Owners Association president Peter Weir who claimed millions of hectares of land for forestry isn’t available. He suggested very little land is being bought for forestry, which I disagree with.

Simply put, my position is there is a lot of marginal land that could go into trees and provide extra income for farmers. That’s good.

Good, productive land and entire farms going into forestry at the expense of food production is bad.

The discussion takes me back to the Muldoon government in the 1970s with its Land Development Encouragement Loans.

Money was available to farmers to clear native bush with the aim of improving NZ Inc’s performance.

So 940,000 hectares were cleared and a massive amount of biodiversity was lost but much of it has since reverted and some has been planted in pines.

Some areas should never have been cleared in the first place and it makes both environmental and financial sense to replant them in trees.

But planting trees on land best suited to producing food will come at a high economic and social cost for no real environmental gain.

Simply, the subsidy didn’t work.

Now we have a subsidy to plant trees, millions of them.

Subsidies are an evil from the past and distort the market. They have no future in a modern economy.

While I applaud Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’ aim of revitalising the regions I believe his forestry initiative will achieve exactly the opposite.

He needs to change advisers.

Let’s look at the facts.

According to the NZ Forestry Bulletin Jones’ billion trees mean 50,000 hectares a year is taken out of production.

To achieve the Productivity Commission’s goals, however, would require 100,000 hectares to be taken out of production each and every year for three decades – a total of three million hectares.

That’s almost a third of our total farmland and it won’t be marginal but productive, food-producing country.

Wairarapa farmer and ram breeder Derek Daniell has done his sums.

For a start every thousand hectares of sheep and beef farms employs seven people each and every year. The same amount of forestry supports one.

That is six jobs lost for every farm that is converted to forestry.

What will that do to provincial NZ?

One retired meat company director told me the removal of stock for trees on the North Island’s east coast would mean the closure of one meat processing works.

What will that do to the provinces?

An economist suggested the value to the country of a hectare of sheep and beef is about $55,000.

At Pongaroa, taking the lowest figure of land out of production, that would mean a loss to their economy of $330m.

What will that loss achieve for the provinces?

Then we have trees harvested every 25-30 years. That’s a long time to wait for a pay cheque.

The money in the interim will be from carbon farming but according Upton that isn’t sustainable.

Further, what is to stop some political party changing the ETS, as has happened.

Relying on political whim for your pay cheque doesn’t spin my wheels.

When it comes to pollution and carbon footprints Daniell points to the cities and not the provinces

The problem is that even with the best of intentions from Jones that instead of forestry boosting the provincial economy it will destroy it.

The madness needs to stop.

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