Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


Rural round-up

02/12/2020

Talk is cheap:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered a ‘nice’ speech at last week’s Primary Industry Conference, organised and run by Federated Farmers.

Unfortunately, over the past term of government, the country has got used to the PM giving nice speeches, but not delivering much.

Housing, child poverty statistics and failing infrastructure are just three areas where Ardern talked a big game, but has delivered abysmally.

Let’s hope this stretch on the treasury benches is really her Government’s ‘term of delivery’. . . 

Low flow warning for La Niña summer :

For central and western parts of the lower South Island, a La Niña summer means drier conditions and a higher risk of drought.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is encouraging irrigators and other water users to be mindful of these conditions as New Zealand enters a La Niña summer, characterised by warmer and drier conditions than usual.

ORC general manager regulatory Richard Saunders said people need to be responsible about their water use.

“Dry weather means less water in rivers and races, so anyone taking water needs to be mindful of their consent conditions and responsibilities and to actively monitor how much water they are taking. . . 

Making the primary sector sexy – Peter Burke:

There is a need to re-orientate New Zealanders into working in the primary sector, according to the director general of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Smith’s comments come as widespread concern is expressed, right across the agricultural sector – especially in horticulture, about the lack of people to harvest crops and work in various jobs.

He believes part of the problem is that the benefits of working in the primary sector haven’t been marketed as effectively as they could have been. Smith says while there are some tough-end jobs that don’t pay well, there are actually a huge number of highly-paid jobs in the sector and that will grow. . . 

Living Water – seven facts for seven years:In the seven years that Fonterra and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have been working together through Living Water, important advancements have been made to help regenerate New Zealand’s precious natural resources.

Launched in 2013, the 10-year partnership is focussed on finding game-changing and scalable solutions that will enable farming, freshwater and healthy ecosystems to thrive side-by-side.

What does that look like in practise? It means working alongside communities in five selected catchments to test different tools, approaches and ways of working that will help improve water quality and freshwater environments. . . 

Possum 1080 controls in Hawke’s Bay head to Māori land court:

The plaintiff in a court case – aiming block the use of 1080 to control possums blamed for the spread of Bovine tuberculosis in Hawke’s Bay – is denying science, the defence says.

Possums on the land, Tataraakina, have been blamed for the spread of Bovine tuberculosis into farms in the region.

Half of all New Zealand’s herds that have the disease are in this area.

Tataraakina is a 14,000-hectare block in inland Hawke’s Bay, near the highway between Napier and Taupō. . .. 

Grazing to improve soil health, producer profits – Kay Ledbetter:

Dr. Richard Teague might be considered a cowboy of a different kind. He’s not rounding up stray cattle, but rather wrangling the best management practices on ranches to help the cattle and their owners.

Teague, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research ecologist at Vernon, grew up on a farm and knows firsthand there are some unintended consequences from traditional long-standing agricultural practices that might not readily be seen.

“I’m an ecologist and know that for an adequately functioning ecosystem, you have to have good soil function,” Teague said. “Many things we do in industrial agriculture break down the function of soil. The ranchers and farmers we are working with have demonstrated how to increase productivity by improving soil health, manage for decreased inputs, improve the health of their cattle and increase profits.” . . 


Rural round-up

16/10/2020

Labour’s health policy doesn’t even include the word rural:

Labour cares so little for rural communities that the word ‘rural’ doesn’t even appear in their health policy, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“For all of their talk there is no kindness to rural communities or recognition of their special health needs.

“New Zealand’s rural communities are an essential part of New Zealand and face unique health challenges.

“Labour is failing to even acknowledge the rural communities that are so important to New Zealand and their distinct health issues. . .

Importance of listening to farmers highlighted – Yvonne O’Hara:

After two terms on the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, Emma Hammond is stepping down from what she says has been an “interesting journey” and a “unique role”.

She and husband Peter and their three children, Ferguson (10), Nicholas (12) and Annalise (15), have a 164ha dairy farm near Winton and run about 500 cows, with a production of 450kg of milk solids/cow.

Mrs Hammond has served two three-year terms and steps down at the annual meeting next month.

“There has been a lot of change during the past six years and it has been an interesting time to be involved. . . 

Rabbit controls efforts to get a boost – ORC – Kerrie Waterworth:

Improvements made to rabbit control measures by the Otago Regional Council are expected to better meet community expectations.

In an update for the council’s implementation committee meeting tomorrow, manager biosecurity and rural liaison Andrea Howard said its biosecurity activities were undergoing a ‘‘transformation’’.

The biosecurity team was at present resourced to deliver only a ‘‘light touch’’ response to implement the regional pest management plan, which affected the council’s ability to meet community expectations, she said.

A fresh approach was now being made, and improvements included the recruitment of three additional fixed-term positions within the biosecurity team, two of which would focus exclusively on the pest programme, Ms Howard said. . .

Efforts to support farmers :

Rural groups are banding together to support farmers dealing with challenging weather conditions in Otago and Southland.

Parts of Southland received almost triple their normal September rainfall, a heavy fall of snow and a further 70mm of rain last week.

The Southland Rural Support Trust is co-ordinating a range of initiatives to help boost farmer morale.

Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter said the bad weather had occurred during a busy time of the year and was taking a physical and mental toll. . . 

NZ economy gets a shot in the arm (if all goes well) from Fonterra’s revised milk price forecast – Point of Order:

Dairy giant Fonterra  has  lifted  the mid-point of its forecast farmgate milk price range to $6.80kg/MS, up from $6.40,while retaining its current +/-50c per kgMS range.

It’s  a  shot  in the  arm   not  just  for  the   co-op’s  farmer-suppliers  and the  country’s  rural  regions  but also for  the national  economy  as   it   strives  to  recover  from the impact  of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At  a  $6.80  milk price    more than $10bn  will flow   into regional  NZ. . .

LIC shareholders vote to streamline governance, introduce new shareholder reference group:

Shareholders of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) today voted to update and streamline the governance of the co-operative, including changes to the Board and the role and structure of the Shareholder Council.

A comprehensive two-year review of LIC’s governance and representation structures and processes was undertaken by a working group of directors and shareholder councillors, which made a number of recommendations including replacing the current 21-member Shareholder Council with a smaller, more focused 12-member Shareholder Reference Group. It also proposed a smaller Board, equal weighting of directors across North and South Islands, and streamlined elections so that all elections are held at the Annual Meeting.

The results of voting on these special resolutions was announced following LIC’s Annual Meeting today which was held virtually in light of the restrictions imposed on New Zealand to date under various alert levels as a result of COVID-19. The changes required 75 per cent support from voting shareholders. . .

 

Property with a view for success:

A South Waikato dry stock property offers investors and farmers alike the opportunity to own a high-quality pastoral property central to some of the North Island’s key attractions and cities.

Located in the Tapapa district and nestled against the Kaimai-north Mamaku ranges, the 270ha Pakaraka Road property has been a household name in Romney breeding circles for its intensive breeding programme, run by owner Ross Alexander.

“The Alexander family are certainly well respected in sheep breeding circles and are leaders in Romney breeding on properties exhibiting the highest standards of farming. Ross’s property certainly highlights this,” says Bayleys Waikato salesperson Neville Jacques. . .


Serving govt not ratepayers

15/06/2020

Troubles at the Otago Regional Council are coming to a head:

Council chairwoman Marian Hobbs said yesterday that since New Zealand entered a Covid-19 lockdown on March 26 — and seven councillors called for a 12-month re-evaluation of the council’s policy and finances, including the withdrawal and suspension of plan changes in progress and a review of its Regional Policy Statement — the council had been divided.

“It has been war,” Ms Hobbs said yesterday, confirming she believed some councillors wanted her out as chairwoman at the council.

“If I sound angry, I am. And I’m really not speaking as a chair — I’m speaking as a human being. Because watch this space, love, I’m liable to lose my position as the chair,” she said. . . 

The March 26 letter to Ms Hobbs was signed by Crs Michael Laws, Hilary Calvert, Carmen Hope, Gary Kelliher, Kevin Malcolm, Andrew Noone and Kate Wilson.

Several days later Ms Hobbs wrote to Environment Minister David Parker about issues arising from the letter.

When her communication was discovered through an Official Information Act request, what she wrote raised the ire of Federated Farmers, which responded. . . 

I was worried when she was elected chair and my worries have increased since then.

She appears to be acting on behalf of the government rather than ratepayers, many of whom agree with the seven councillors who have called for a 12-month pause.

Federated Farmers’ national body took issue in a statement this week with the council’s consultation process, saying the “actions taken by [the regional council] over the lockdown period were at best an inept attempt to ‘tick off’ to the minister that they had sufficiently completed appropriate public consultation on its proposed plan changes”.

Federated Farmers Otago president Simon Davies expressed “real concern” with the content of the letter and said the organisation was “assessing our options”.

There was a lack of governance at the council at present, he said, which was problematic.

“It’s not the ‘staff’ giving direction or strategy, it’s the governance. And the governance needs to be strong about that, and at the same time that strategy needs to be Otago focused and driven — not other people’s,” he said. . . 

The Council must carry out its statutory roles but councillors are elected to represent the people, not the government.

Cr Calvert yesterday said she was concerned that Ms Hobbs was substituting her interpretation of the views of the Government “for the views of our Otago ratepayers”.

“She is prepared to attempt to overthrow the representation of the people of Otago by asking whether the minister would consider putting in a commissioner if the vote doesn’t go her way.

“Those who elected us deserve better than that.”

Asked to comment on Ms Hobbs’ assertion there were councillors who wanted her out as chairwoman, Cr Calvert said the “crucial question” was how many councillors that was.

“At the end of the day, if you don’t retain the confidence of the majority of your fellow councillors, it’s time for somebody else to take a crack at being the chair.”

Some former MPs can make the transition to local body office and put partisan politics aside.

From what has been reported, Hobbs has not and it would be better for the council, and the region, if councilors succeed in replacing her.

 

 


Rural round-up

14/05/2020

COVID-19: Farming continues while pollution falls – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth on how the agriculture and horticulture sectors are supporting New Zealand through the COVID-19 pandemic.

OPINION: New Zealanders have been urged to order food from outlets that don’t use Uber, and to be extremely careful using Tinder.

The first is because of expenditure (Uber apparently takes 35% of the bill). The second is because of COVID-19 and potential to transmit the virus. (NRL players have been forbidden to use the app and the difficulty of maintaining 2m distance must be acknowledged.)

It is probable that rural dwellers will find it easier to comply with these requests than those who live in urban districts. It is possible that rural dwellers have never used either of the two services. It is also possible that rural dwellers are wondering about how much money is evaporated on services that make it easier to spend more money on services.  . . 

Court grants farmers appeal extension :

The Environment Court has granted extra time to allow appeals on the Waikato Regional Council’s plan change 1.

Federated Farmers Waikato president Jacqui Hahn said individual farmers and growers have 70 working days from May 11 to file appeals.

Industry groups including Federated Farmers have a shorter deadline of 50 working days from April 28 to file their appeals. . . 

Water users frustrated as ORC torpedoes local decision-making:

As if there wasn’t already enough stress and economic hurdles facing the region, the Otago Regional Council has added to the uncertainty. 

The submission period closed on the ORC’s Proposed Plan Change 7 on water permits on Monday.  However, because Council notified the plan change, and then asked the government to call it in, there’ll be another whole round of submissions once the Environmental Protection Authority renotifies it, which is frustrating to impacted resource users.

Federated Farmers – like most, if not all, other rural representatives – has opposed PC7.  

“We said in our submission that it fails on tests of cost-effectiveness, fairness, adequate consultation, and consistency with existing policies,” Federated Farmers Otago President Simon Davies says. . .

Pride regained telling people we are farmers – Mike Cranstone:

It is great to be a farmer; it certainly has not been an easy autumn, but we are lucky to be still in charge of our businesses. And a farm is a perfect backyard for kids to be in throughout lockdown. Our consideration must go to those people with uncertain job prospects, and the many local small business owners who provide an invaluable service to the farming sector. I encourage farmers to think of what work, whether servicing or projects that we can bring forward to help these businesses get back on their feet.

This season was always shaping up to be memorable. In December it was shaping up to be one of the best, with good feed levels matched with an $8 floor to the lamb schedule, mid $7 and $6 for dairy and beef, respectively.

If we were feeling comfortable, the impact of Covid-19 and a lingering widespread drought put pay to that. For farmers, the drought is having a more immediate financial impact. There is plenty of uncertainty looking forward, with how the looming global recession will impact demand and prices for meat and dairy.

The drought has put significant pressure on farmers, with stock water being a real issue and now with low feed covers going into late autumn. Getting killing space for all stock classes has been difficult since December, with prime cattle being terribly slow. Farmers’ loyalty to their meat company has generally been well rewarded, but I am interested where that often-discussed meat industry overcapacity is hiding. It could be a long tough winter with low feed covers, please keep an eye on our fellow farmers’ welfare along with that of our animals. . . 

Feds wins time for Waikato farmers and growers:

The Environment Court’s decision to allow more time for the filing of appeals on Waikato Regional Council’s Plan Change 1 has Federated Farmers breathing a sigh of relief.

All three of the Federated Farmers provinces affected by this plan change are delighted and somewhat relieved with this decision.

Federated Farmers Waikato president Jacqui Hahn says this means individual farmers and growers have 70 working days from 11 May to file appeals. . . 

Covid-19 could revive single-use plastics – agribusiness head – Eric Frykberg:

The Covid-19 crisis could be a big setback to progress on eliminating plastics, a rural expert has warned.

Ian Proudfoot, global head of agribusiness for KPMG, told a webinar the desire for health and hygiene could easily trump environmental worries about plastics.

His comments follow a steady pushback against plastics overseas and in New Zealand, where it led to a ban on single use plastic bags in many parts of the economy with the aim of reducing pollution and reliance on fossil fuels, which are a raw ingredient for many plastics.

Proudfoot warned however that people could easily come to view plastic-packaged foodstuffs as clean and safe and could start to insist on it, leading to a revival in the use of plastics. . .


Rural round-up

02/04/2020

Farming, a privilege – First Rock Consultancy:

New Zealand farming has over the last couple of years under the current government has been berated, belittled & blamed for almost all of the pollution problems that we are facing as a country.

This coalition government has produced many polices aimed at the farmers of New Zealand that are supposedly going to fix all of the problems that we have with pollution of our land & waterways and protection of our national indigenous biodiversity.

Yet now they state that farming is privileged to be working, the same farmers that this current coalition government has made to feel like they are the cause of all the country’s problems in relation to pollution particularly of our waterways. . .

Farmers ask Regional Council to take time with consultation – Richard Davison:

Farming advocates have expressed anger over the “rushed” pace of consultation on a core Otago Regional Council policy document.

The council held a series of public Regional Policy Statement (RPS) meetings across Otago recently.

The statement will shape ORC policy on ecosystems and biodiversity; energy and infrastructure; hazards and risks; historical and cultural values; natural features and landscapes; and urban form and development for the next 10 years. . .

Another day at the office for farmers in lockdown – Esther Taunton:

While urban Kiwis struggle to adapt to life in coronavirus lockdown, it’s business as usual for farmers.

Arable farmer Matt McEvedy said not much had changed in the day-to-day operation of his farm at Southbridge, on the Canterbury Plains.

“The only real change is in daily interactions among ourselves, just taking a bit more care and making a few policy changes around that sort of thing,” he says. . . 

 

Pulling together as a community while also staying apart – Andrew Hoggard:

Andrew Hoggard elaborates on his tweet from last week where he urged people to “be a good bugger, don’t be a dick”.

Last week I sent out a Covid-19 Alert Level 4-related tweet that got a bit of attention – “be a good bugger, don’t be a dick”.  This is the longer version.

These are not “business” as usual times.

In the last week Italy has lost more people from Covid-19 than live in Balclutha or Hokitika or Raglan or Greytown. In the past month more Italians have died from the virus than live in Te Puke, Morrinsville, Kerikeri or Otaki. . .

Coronavirus: More farmers heading online to keep livestock trade active – Lawrence Gullery:

Farmers tasked with keeping the nation fed are migrating to an online auction to ensure they can continue to trade livestock through the coronavirus lockdown and beyond.

Sale yards around the country have closed forcing farmers and their stock agents to look at more innovative ways to do business.

Many are taking up a virtual livestock trading platform called bidr, developed by PGG Wrightson Livestock at the Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton. . . 

 

Isolation in the back of beyond – Greg Dixon:

A tale of early life on a remote sheep station can teach us a lot about isolation.

“Road not recommended,” read the sign. It wasn’t bloody joking. Beyond its plain, wry warning was a narrow, unrelenting snake of a road, a thing of gravel and grief that wound for 32 long kilometres through Skippers Canyon above Otago’s Upper Shotover River.

In spring, there would be washouts and landslips. In winter, there was ice and snow and flooding. For months of the year, it could be impassable. And all year around there were dizzying hairpins, step climbs, slippery turns and precipitous drops. It made drivers tough, and it broke some, too. More than one who’d made it from Queenstown to the end of the Skippers Rd refused to drive back.

But at its end, on a high country sheep station, between the Richardson and Harris mountain ranges, a young family lived remote from the rest of the world in a solitude that’s hard to imagine in 21st-century New Zealand. It was in this isolated place, at the end of the country’s worst road, that Terri Macnicol and her husband, Archie, made a family and a life of hard yakka leavened by homely pleasures. . . .

Struggle’ to get shearing contest off the ground – David Hill:

When Roddy Kidd proposed having a shearing competition at the Oxford A&P Show back in 1971, he was told it would never catch on.

But he went ahead anyway and Oxford shearers were due to celebrate 50 years of shearing at the show on April 4, before it was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘‘We struggled to get it going. The then-president was a farmer, but he wasn’t keen. He said, ‘It won’t do any good’.

‘‘But we finally got him round to it and there was a lot of help from the Oxford community to get it going.’’ . .

Wool demand in key markets will be flat for six months – Vernon Graham:

Some wool factories have reopened in China while others have lost orders from buyers in the United States, Australian Wool Innovation chairman Colette Garnsey has told growers.

“The Italian factories remain shut and it is unclear when life and industry will return to normal there, (along with) the United Kingdom or the United States.

“For the next six months overall consumer demand for wool in those three markets will be weak. . .


Rural round-up

03/03/2020

Farmers feeling socially disconnected as younger generation migrate to social media – Lawrence Gullery:

A trail of dust follows Philip Dench’s motorbike as he rides up to the milking shed in the baking sun.

He steps off his bike wearing boots, shorts, a singlet, cap and sunglasses.

It’s hard to figure out what he’s thinking behind those sunglasses but that’s the way he likes it.

“I have to know the person first, I won’t talk to a stranger, no way,” Philip says. . . 

Southland farmers face winter grazing charges – Rachael Kelly:

Three charges have been laid against Southland farming companies for breaches of winter grazing rules last year.

Environment Southland compliance manager Simon Mapp said the charges related to incidents on two sites.

“The charges are for discharges where they may reach water,” Mapp said.

The first court appearance was scheduled for this week but that was subject to change, he said. . . 

High standards pay off – Charlie Williamson:

While his friends dreamed of glamorous sporting careers Mihaka Beckham dreamed of working the land and being a dairy farmer. Charlie Williamson reports.

While his primary school friends were talking about how they would be the up and coming All Blacks stars when they grew up young Mihaka Beckham was saying he would one day be a dairy farmer. 

And with the help of a few mentors and his ability to seize any opportunity he could find along the way Mihaka, now 23, is living his childhood dream. 

Mihaka works as herd manager on a Taupo dairy farm milking 440 Jersey-Friesian cows on 170ha effective for Bryan and Tesha Gibson. . . 

Farmers call for ORC rates details -Brent Melville:

Federated Farmers says back-to-back annual rates increases from the Otago Regional Council should come with a more detailed plan of what benefits would come from farmers’ money.

The ORC yesterday announced it would push rates up by 9.1% as part of overall spending of $75.5million, including expenditure on reworking water plans, increasing consent processing staff and capacity for environmental incident response.

Federated Farmers South Island regional policy manager Kim Reilly said the second consecutive year of rates rises had come without firm detail as to how the rate adjustments might be packaged. . . 

Epidemiologist embracing ‘M.bovis’ battle :

Mark Neill says he likes a challenge, and admits he’s got one on his hands.

Mr Neill, a veterinarian, is the lead epidemiologist in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme. He was one of the speakers at the Ministry for Primary Industries’ public update meeting in Oamaru last week.

Since September, Mr Neill has been seconded by the ministry from Ospri’s TBfree programme, where he has worked since 2002. . . 

Welsh woman declares vindication after ‘guerrilla rewilding’ court case

Sioned Jones used to adore the landscape and wildlife of her adopted home in Bantry, a bucolic region in west Cork on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. She planted vegetables and herbs, foraged for nuts and berries and observed birds, insects, frogs and lizards.

Then, on land above her house, the state-owned forestry company Coillte planted a forest of Sitka spruce, a non-native species that Jones considered a dark, dank threat to biodiversity.

The Welsh grandmother got a chainsaw and started cutting – and cutting. A few trees at first, then dozens, then hundreds. In their place she planted native broadleaf trees – birch, hazel, oak, alder, crab apple and rowan – a guerrilla rewilding campaign that lasted more than 20 years. . . 


Rural round-up

10/01/2020

Irrigators say future threatened by ORC water policy – Jono Edwards:

Scores of irrigators have told the Otago Regional Council the direction of its deemed permit overhaul will ‘‘destroy rural New Zealand’’.

They are at odds with environmentalists who are pleading that the status quo should not continue.

Twenty-one groups spoke at the council’s public forum yesterday about changes to its deemed permits process, which it has been instructed to undertake by Environment Minister David Parker.

Deemed permit irrigators have been working towards next year’s deadline to replace mining water privileges with consents. . . 

Bega Cheese hit with fears over milk supply after fire devastation – Patrick Hatch:

Bega Cheese’s shares fell 9.3 per cent to $3.92 on Monday, as the company and its dairy providers started to assess the damage caused by fires that have raged around the towns of Bega and Cobargo.

About 30 to 40 farmers had been affected in the area, said Shaughn Morgan, chief executive of the industry group Dairy Connect, with some reporting they had lost the bulk of their livestock.

Other farmers without power were struggling to milk their cows, while others were spilling their milk because dairy processors including Bega were unable to access roads to collect their produce. . . 

Rabobank announces extended support measures for bushfire impacted clients:

Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has announced extended support measures for bushfire impacted clients, following further widespread fire activity in recent days.

Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said the bank’s staff in bushfire-affected regions were continuing to contact clients to check on their safety and welfare and offer assistance where required.

“Unprecedented fire activity has impacted a significant number of communities across the country, with loss and damage to agricultural land, livestock, houses and infrastructure and most tragically, lives. Although it is still too early to assess the full extent of the damage, the impact of the fires on farming businesses has been compounded by ongoing drought with many holding very limited reserves of feed, fodder and water,” he said. . . 

New Zealand’s first ocean farm divides submitters– Chloe Ranford:

An application from the country’s largest salmon farming company to start farming fish in the “open ocean” has divided opinion, with some calling it an “innovative milestone”, but others labelling it “premature”.

New Zealand King Salmon wants to set up a farm as large as Kāpiti Island in the waters off Marlborough and eventually farm 8000 tonnes of king salmon a year in the colder waters.

It lodged a resource consent with the Marlborough District Council last July asking to build the farm within a 1792-hectare site in the ocean – a New Zealand first. The company says the farming operation will take up a small fraction of the site, 7km north of Cape Lambert. . .

Time for UK farming to ‘reclaim’ January, red meat experts say – Olivia Midgley:

Veganuary will be countered with a co-ordinated message using expert speakers and social media influencers to promote healthy meat-based meals and combat misinformation about the UK farming industry.

Farmers are the most trusted link in the food supply chain, with only six per cent disagreeing and 62 per cent of consumers feeling positive about British agriculture, a survey by AHDB ahead of Veganuary has revealed.

AHDB, which has joined forced with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), to turbocharge the promotion of red meat and its benefits for human health and the environment throughout January, said the industry should be proud to ‘hold its head up high’. . . 

New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust Names Next CEO:

The New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Parsons, MNZM, DSD as their new Chief Executive Officer. Chris Parsons will replace Anne Hindson on 04 May 2020, following her stepping down as General Manager at end of April.

“We were thrilled by the quality field of candidates and consider ourselves fortunate to have someone of Chris Parsons calibre and experience step up to lead New Zealand Rural Leaders through its next stage of growth,” said Andrew Watters, Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Hailing from the Far North, Chris Parsons has a sheep and beef background and co-owns Ashgrove Genetics Ltd. He is also a decorated Army Officer, Certified Member of the Institute of Directors and holds master’s degrees in management and in strategy. . . 

Body to leave Ruralco, Chan-Dorman chosen chair-elect – Sudesh Kissun:

South Island rural service trader Ruralco says its chairman Alister Body has signalled his intention to step down from his role and pursue broader agribusiness interests.

Body chaired the Ruralco board for the past two years and served as a director since 2011.

Body has agreed to continue to support the business until June 30 when he will retire from the board. . .


Rural round-up

02/12/2019

Permits will affect irrigation options – Jono Edwards:

The man who investigated the Otago Regional Council admits a planning overhaul will put deemed permit irrigators in a ‘‘holding pattern’’, but says it is the only way to ultimately improve things.

The council yesterday adopted a raft of recommendations from Environment Minister David Parker regarding its planning framework, which is the outcome of a ministry investigation into the council.

The investigator, Prof Peter Skelton, was questioned by councillors at a meeting in Dunedin yesterday.

The adopted recommendations include a plan change to create short-term up-to-five-year consents for water permits while the council reviews its policy plans.

Farmers have raised concerns these create uncertainty, and are too short to get banks to lend any money for necessary improvements.

When asked yesterday if this would put farmers in a ‘‘holding pattern’’, Prof Skelton said it would.  . . 

Sanford CEO Volker Kuntzsch wins Rabobank leadership award :

New Zealanders scooped the pool in the annual Rabobank Leadership Awards for agribusiness.

Volker Kuntzsch, the chief executive officer of New Zealand’s largest seafood company Sanford, was announced as the winner of 2019 Rabobank Leadership Award.

Mat Hocken, the director of Manawatu dairy company Grassmere Dairy, received the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award.

The awards are held annually recognising the contribution of leaders from across New Zealand and Australia’s food and agribusiness sector. . . 

Bay of Islands strawberry farming family seek immigration reprieve – Jenny Ling:

A well-known Bay of Islands family from China with a thriving strawberry business are facing deportation – a plight that has spurred support from the local community.

The Jia family – Peter and Lina and their 10-year-old daughter Cici – have been ordered by Immigration New Zealand to leave the country.

The date of departure was set by Immigration NZ as today and comes after a years-long battle to stay in the country failed.

The Bay of Islands community have put 600 signatures to a petition showing huge support and highlighting the family’s concerns for their wellbeing if they return to China, where they say they suffered religious and economic persecution. . . 

A year on the beat for Middlemarch’s one cop – Shawn McAvinue:

The sole police officer in Middlemarch is enjoying village life after celebrating a year in the job.

Constable Allan Lynch, of Middlemarch, celebrated his first year working in the South in September.

He and wife Kirsty and children Richie (5) and Ollie (3) moved from Feilding in the Manawatu to Middlemarch.

The family welcomed son Fergus about a month ago.

‘‘It’s our first South Island baby — he’ll be rolling his Rs in no time,’’ Const Lynch said.

The family were enjoying being part of the tight-knit community in Middlemarch, he said. . . 

Historic Molesworth Homestead reopens in the heart of NZ’s biggest farm – Sophie Trigger:

The legacy of a historic South Island homestead will live on, as the “heart of the Molesworth” reopened this week. 

Farm manager Jim Ward had lived in the Molesworth Homestead, south of Blenheim, with his wife Tracey for 15 years when the earthquake struck in November 2016. 

“We’re in open country so we heard the thing coming,” he said.  

“We just took a door each and rode it out for a while. We knew there was significant damage but the beauty of it was that no one was hurt on the station.”  . . 

 

Grazing cattle not causing global warming – report -Hannah Quinn-Mulligan ::

Grazing sheep and cattle systems can play a vital role in combating climate change and have wrongly been labelled as causing global warming.

Researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) based in Oxford University have discovered that methane from grazing animals in the UK is not to blame for global warming.

“A focus on the emissions themselves is misleading – instead it’s the warming impact of those emissions that actually matters. Currently global warming from UK agricultural methane is less than zero,” the report summarises. . .


Rural round-up

26/11/2019

Security for Otago farmers unclear amid water plans – Jono Edwards:

Some Otago farmers could be left with “unbankable” irrigation schemes as the Government recommends an overhaul of the Otago Regional Council’s planning processes.

Environment Minister David Parker yesterday released a raft of recommendations for the council after an investigation into its management of freshwater.

It said the council was not equipped to transfer hundreds of century-old water rights into resource consents by 2021, and regardless it should not do so because they would be processed under its current “inadequate” water plan.

On top of the rewriting of council plans already in progress, it recommended an interim plan change to transfer the permits into consents in the meantime.

They would be for a maximum of five years, which some farmers say is too short to ensure future security. . . 

Food bowl or toilet bowl? – John Jackson:

New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. 

By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 5New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. OPINION: By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 50 Shades of Green banner. I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. banner.

I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. . .

 

No slacking for M Bovis effort – Annette Scott:

There’s no time to slacken off over the next year if the , programme is to limit the disease, M bovis governance group chairman Kelvan Smith says.

The M bovis governance group, made up of Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Ray Smith, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle,  Beef + Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor and independently chaired by Smith, meets monthly to discuss and review the eradication programme.

Smith said the group is focused on strategic planning to ensure the programme builds on progress made to date and continues towards eradication.

“To date the programme has found 207 infected properties, stopping further spread of the disease and clearing the infection from these properties,” he said.  . . 

Beef + Lamb puts money where its mouth is- Nigel Malthus:

A ‘model’ sheep and beef farm in North Canterbury is away and running, its founders say.

The North Canterbury Future Farm, set up by Beef + Lamb NZ in partnership with local famers, has had an “OK” first full year of operation, said the organisers of its 2019 Open Day.

BLNZ’s partner is Lanercost Farming Ltd, formed by the landowner, Julia Whelan, with locals Simon Lee and Carl Forrester. . .

A natural blend of grains firms – Tim Fulton:

Two New Zealand-based, foreign-owned seed companies marked a milestone merger in October.

PGG Wrightson Seeds chief executive John McKenzie has seen a good number of mergers and acquisitions over 45 years in the grain and seed trade.

Some deals went well and good and others were distinctly disappointing. The lastest was a natural blend, he said.

The sale of PGG Wrightson’s former grain and seed division has put McKenzie in charge of an Oceania business unit in a global business, DLF Seeds. . .

Pet day a national school tradition :

Dogs of every shape and size, miniature ponies, cats, lambs and guinea pigs put aside their differences and got together for Fairton School’s annual pet day last week.

Fairton School principal Mike Hill said, ”We are a little country school and pet days are a national tradition, and a lot of fun.”

The majority of the pupils had pets at home, so it was good to recognise the way they cared for their animals, he said.

It was also a great chance for parents, and visiting preschoolers from Stepping Stones @ Braebrook, to come to the school and be involved. . . 


Rural round-up

16/10/2019

Farmers backed by court – Jono Edwards:

The Environment Court has backed Lindis River farmers and water users with a potentially precedent-setting minimum-flow decision.

In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

This will cancel the limits set by Otago Regional Council-appointed commissioners of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second.

The catchment group is hailing the decision, having long said the original limits would be devastating for farmers and the local economy.

Water users are awaiting the second proceeding from the court on the issue, which is an “application for a suite of water permits to take water from the river”. . . 

 

Water groups welcome Lindis ruling – Jono Edwards:

Central Otago water leaders hope the Otago Regional Council will back future minimum flows with evidence after an Environment Court decision in the Lindis River.

In a ruling released last week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

The decision could have implications for the setting of minimum flows in the Manuherikia, Arrow and Upper Cardrona rivers.

Manuherikia farmer and water leader Gary Kelliher, who is chairman of the Manuherikia subgroup of the Otago Water Resource Users Group, said water users all over Central Otago would be relieved “to see a sensible outcome has been found”. . . 

 

Cheap avocados: good for consumers but selling at a loss – Eric Frykberg:

Remember the bad old days of the $11 avocado? That was back in May.

The passage of the seasons has subsequently done wonderful things for deprived palates, which were forced to salivate in vain back then.

Vegeland in Christchurch has been advertising avocado at 39 cents each on Facebook.

In Waikato, a roadside stall went further, selling small avocados for $3 for a bag of ten.

However, the industry organisation, New Zealand Avocado, said these prices were unrealistic. . . 

NZ Dairy Industry Awards gives Taranaki sharemilkers confidence to expand

An award-winning South Taranaki couple has doubled the size of their dairy herd in less than four years.

Hollie Wham, 26, and Owen Clegg, 27, 50:50 sharemilk 400 cows across two properties at Manutahi, south of Hawera.

The couple bought their first 180-cow herd in 2016. Condensing the long calving spread was a priority. . . 

Nanotechnology solutions explored in agricultural sector :

Researchers from Lincoln University are investigating how to use nanotechnology in agriculture to increase productivity and reduce environmental impact.

Lincoln University Associate Professor in Animal Science Craig Bunt said his team was looking to develop a groundbreaking nano-coating which could be applied to fertiliser to control its rate of release into soil, and to seeds to control their timing of germination.

Dr Bunt said controlling the rate of release for fertiliser was important because release that was too rapid can result in excessive nitrogen being lost into soil and waterways, causing significant pollution and other negative environmental impacts. . . 

Time to be reasonable on convergence spend – James Porter:

This is going to be a difficult one, because I don’t think it is possible for us all to agree on what is a fair allocation of the promised ‘convergence’ money.

But, before we get started, can we at least agree the ground rules? Can we disagree without being disagreeable, can we listen to each other and assume the best and not the worst? Because tone matters – treating each other with civility and dignity matters.

We only have to look at the toxic state of UK politics to see what happens when the other path is taken and I – and I’m pretty sure most farmers, be they hill or lowland – want nothing to do with it.

My family has a foot in both camps, because although I farm on arable land, my heart is in the highlands. In 1976, my father bought a farm called Cashlie, near the top of Glen Lyon, that is where we spent our summer holidays growing up, fishing and swimming in the lochs and river, walking in the mountains, and helping with the gathering, marking, shearing and dipping. . .


Rural round-up

13/10/2019

Farmers backed by court – Jono Edwards:

The Environment Court has backed Lindis River farmers and water users with a potentially precedent-setting minimum-flow decision.

In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

This will cancel the limits set by Otago Regional Council-appointed commissioners of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second.

The catchment group is hailing the decision, having long said the original limits would be devastating for farmers and the local economy. . .

Fraser Whineray: a results-oriented business leader with a track record on decarbonisation – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  board,  under   heavy  fire   for the losses racked up  in  the last two years,  may at last   be getting something  right.  Its recruitment of  Mercury’s  CEO Fraser Whineray to the newly created  post of  chief operating  officer   puts him in pole position to drive innovation,  efficiency, and  sustainability  in the co-op.

When he joins  Fonterra  next year  he will bring with him the credentials of having transformed Mercury,  simplifying the business  through the divestment of overseas interests and developing a  compelling strategy for  sustainable growth.

Harbour  Asset Management’s Shane Solly  said Whineray adds  “a  bit of grunt to the front row at Fonterra”. . . 

Time to modernize our biotech laws – Dr Parmjeet Parmar:

Biotechnology advancement has been rapid, and we’re being left behind due to our restrictive legislation, writes National List MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar.

Biotechnology is occurring all around the world and we need to have an informed discussion on how it could affect New Zealand.

Our legislation needs to be amended to ensure that we can make advancements that need made, while having a clearly regulated framework that mitigates risk.

Recently I announced alongside National Party Leader Simon Bridges, that National would make the required changes to the Hazardous Substances and Organisms (HSNO) Act should we be elected in 2020. . .

Government must focus on maintaining land’s productive capacity, says Horticulture New Zealand:

Moves by the Government to protect highly productive land must focus on maintaining the productive capacity of that land. 

‘We need a national policy that ensures New Zealand can grow enough vegetables and fruit to feed itself, now and in the future, and at affordable prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘That’s why we support the Government’s action to protect highly productive land.  However, policy makers must also remember that the land itself is only one factor in vegetable and fruit growing. 

‘Growers also need access to water for irrigation, they need to be able to apply sufficient fertilizer, and they need to be able to operate machinery like frost fans and infrastructure like packhouses, 24/7 depending on the time of the year.

‘If for any reason, growers cannot do this, they need to have the option to use the land for other purposes.’  . . 

Agribusinesses reap accelerator benefits :

Sprout accelerator is offering $500,000 to innovators from traditional agritech and future-food focused start-ups.

Eight will be selected to join the six-month accelerator starting in January.

The Accelerator offers $75,000 worth of business coaching, mentoring, network access and MBA style block courses.

Entrepreneurs will receive business mentoring and workshops from world-class business owners and directors from across the technology, agricultural and food industries.  . .

Stop the farm invasions inspired by Aussie Farms Map – Brian Ahmed:

OVER the past two months, the Victorian Parliament has listened to farmers about the impact of farm invasions on farming families, our industries, and our way of life.

As a chicken egg farmer myself, I presented to the inquiry last month along with my daughter, Danyel, who I hope will one day take over our family farm.

Danyel spoke with passion about her love of farming and desire to keep our multi-generational farm growing into the future. 

But, as Danyel told the inquiry, with the rise in farm invasions, she is too scared to live on the farm with her young family. . . 


Rural round-up

14/08/2019

Mainland venison marketer calls China home – Sally Rae:

When Hunter McGregor established a business in China four years ago, it was pioneering stuff.

Mr McGregor runs a Shanghai-based venison importing and distribution business, working with specialist New Zealand venison producer Mountain River Venison.

There was no market for venison in China and so it had been about creating both interest and demand for the product – “because it doesn’t sell itself”.

What he has also found is that running a business in China is getting harder. And that, quite simply, was “because it’s China”. “It’s the way things are,” he said. . . 

Looming 6A plan deadline pushed out – Sally Rae:

A significant milestone looms for rural landowners in April next year when new obligations are scheduled to come in to play to comply with the Otago Regional Council’s 6A plan change for rural water quality. But if a proposal from staff, headed to a council meeting this month, gets approval from councillors, that date will be pushed out to April 2023, as rural editor Sally Rae reports.

In a nutshell, Otago Regional Council chief executive Sarah Gardner says parts of the much-discussed 6A are working really well – but other parts are not.

And with the deadline just months away, the council did not believe it could enforce what was due to come into effect.

Talking to the Otago Daily Times ahead of the council meeting, Ms Gardner stressed the ORC was “absolutely not” walking away from its responsibilities around water quality, which remained its number one priority. . . 

Fonterra’s losses provide more questions than answers – Keith Woodford:

The forthcoming asset write downs of more than $800 million announced on 12 August by Chairman John Monaghan are clearly damaging to Fonterra’s balance sheet. It also means that Fonterra will now make a loss for the year of around $600 million. However, the implications go much further than that.

The losses mean that Fonterra will need to sell more assets to bring its ‘debt to asset ratio’ under control. The losses also ping back to the balance sheets of its farmer members, where the Fonterra shares are assets against which these farmer members have their own debts. Many dairy farmers are already struggling with their balance sheets, with banks now requiring debt repayments on loans that used to be interest-only.

If these write downs are the full story, then Fonterra will survive. The big question is whether these are all of the write downs, both for now and the foreseeable future. . . 

Farmers are getting more milk from each cow – they deserve a much better performance from Fonterra  –  Point of Order:

This   is the second  chapter  in the  woes  of  Fonterra, and  behind  it   the  dairy industry,  on  which the  New Zealand  economy is  so  dependent.

Point of Order   listed  some of those  woes    last  week.  Now, in the  wake  of  the latest  revelation,  Fonterra  will  have to absorb a loss of between $590m and $675m for the current financial year.

Critics   of the industry have  sprung  to the attack:  Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones is calling Fonterra’s management “corporate eunuchs” and labels Fonterra’s board as “grossly inept”. . . 

Meat prices drive increase in overall food price index:

Rising meat prices drove food prices up in July 2019, Stats NZ said today.

Meat and poultry prices rose 2.8 percent, with higher prices for chicken, lamb, and beef, partly offset by falling pork prices.

Chicken pieces were a big driver of the monthly price rise, up 7.0 percent. The weighted average price in July was $8.61 per kilogram compared to June ($8.05 per kilo). As well as being a big contributor to the monthly change, chicken pieces were up 8.8 percent annually. In July 2018, the weighted average price for chicken pieces was $7.91 per kilogram.

Lamb chop prices reached an all-time high in July, up 1.7 percent. The weighted average price was $17.70 per kilogram compared with $17.41 in June and $16.33 a year ago. . . 

Finding the Will to Live

When Elle Perriam’s partner ended his own life in 2017, she set about changing the lives of others, embarking on a national tour in June to encourage farmers to ‘Speak Up’

New Zealand is in what can only be called a mental health crisis. Around 500 New Zealanders per year die by suicide, and we have some of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD. The statistics are even worse in the rural demographic, where suicide rates are 20–50 per cent higher than in urban areas. The pressures of agriculture, coupled with the typical stoic, silent culture that permeates rural New Zealand can mean that those who are struggling often find it difficult to seek help, or to talk about their private battles. Geographical isolation can also be a factor, with some farm workers employed on remote high-country stations for months at a time with limited off-farm contact.

In December 2017, 21-year-old North Otago farm worker Will Gregory tragically ended his life, leaving his family, friends and girlfriend Elle Perriam devastated. Following Will’s death, Elle, a Lincoln University student, looked for a way to create positive change in the rural mental health sector, and the idea for the ‘Will to Live Speak Up Tour’ was born. Elle, with the help of her sister Sarah, launched the tour at the Hunterville Huntaway Festival in October 2018, with Will’s black Huntaway Jess as mascot. . . 

It’s a tough time being a farmer these days – Kate Hawkesby:

It’s a tough time to be a farmer these days. I really feel for them. Sure, they’ve been through lots of good and bad times, that’s the nature of farming, but it feels like this current climate is really tough.

Farming seems under fire from the government in a changing climate of new taxes, regulations, rules. it costs more to be on a farm these days. And that’s before we even get to Fonterra.

After massive write-downs of its assets, Fonterra’s forecasting a huge loss this financial year of around $675 million. That’s the second biggest loss since it began 20 years ago. No dividends will be paid to shareholders this financial year. . .


Rural round-up

01/07/2019

Climate change should not be blamed on farming alone – Anna Campbell:

My mother has returned from visiting my brothers who live in England. To make that trip, she was responsible for contributing more than three tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.

After finding this out, my mother who is a farmer, is feeling pretty outraged that in New Zealand farmers are the ones under attack for climate change. She is vowing to fly less and write letters of concern – why is the New Zealand Government so focused on agriculture while tourism flies under the radar – so to speak.

My mother has a point, according to data analysed by Dr Frank Mitloehner, a professor of air quality at the University of California, Davis. He has reviewed the full carbon life cycle of livestock products and transportation and has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals . . .

Successes or failures riding on Lindis minimum flow decision – Sally Rae:

‘‘You don’t just get a free ride here at all.’’

Tarras farmer Jayne Rive sits at the kitchen table of the Cloudy Peak homestead in the Ardgour Valley, her piercing blue eyes ever-animated as she talks about the uncertainty involved with securing irrigation water for the family farming operation.

In late January, Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson adjourned the hearing of, and reserved the court’s decision on an appeal brought by the Lindis Catchment Group and the Otago Regional Council against an ORC decision which, among other things, imposed a minimum flow of 900 litres per second for the Lindis.

The LCG was proposing a 550 litres per second minimum flow, saying that level was crucial to enabling irrigators to have sufficient reliability of supply.

Ms Rive has been part of that group, which represents irrigators using Lindis River water. Going through the process has been ‘‘incredibly worrying, incredibly draining and incredibly frustrating’’. . . 

Breeders seek seed law overhaul – Richard Rennie:

Plant breeders are seeking an overhaul of New Zealand’s plant variety legislation, claiming the existing act risks putting NZ behind the rest of the world in varieties grown or developed here.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said successive governments had dragged their feet when it came to updating this country’s 30-plus year old Plant Variety Rights Act. 

However there was now an opportunity for breeders to push for changes to the act,as the government seeks industry submissions on options to reform it. . . 

Stock agent reflects on varied life – Yvonne O’Hara:

A prostate cancer diagnosis led to Rural Livestock Ltd stock agent Terry Cairns, of Invercargill, making significant changes to his business to ensure job security for those who worked with him.

He has been a stock agent for almost 40 years, but trained as a lawyer, and has driven livestock trucks, worked on farms and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

”I came to the job by a rather circuitous route, leaving school to train as a lawyer, which did not work that well,” Mr Cairns said.

”Roman law, the Goths, the Vandals, the legal system and other things pertinent to the noble profession didn’t hold my attention. . . 

Barn boosts milk take – Samantha Tennent:

Farming on a waterfront comes with flood risks and for Tony and Fran Allcock.

One or two floods each year is the norm.

Their 97-hectare property at Te Rore, west of Hamilton, runs along the Waipa River. It has been in their family for 130 years and Tony is the third generation to farm it.

The soils are heavy, mostly Horotiu sandy loam with some river silt and every winter 8ha goes under water. To help combat the weather the Allcocks built an Aztech cow barn, which they have dubbed the MOO-Tel, in 2013. . . 

Long White Cloud Genetics:

Long White Cloud Genetics is overwhelmed to announce the forming of a South Island based medical cannabis company focused on local production & manufacturing, creating new career opportunities and supporting local communities. Based in the South Island, Canterbury is the backbone of New Zealand’s farming and agriculture industry and is etched deep in its history.

Long White Cloud Genetics is currently in the process of designing and developing a high- tech indoor cultivation facility. Ultimately creating long term career opportunities in South Canterbury, which is home to some of the best farming technology and agricultural research and development. We have strategic partnership opportunities that will allow us to hit turnovers of 20M+ NZD annually which we intend to not only fulfil but to put some of that money back into local community projects and support mental health here in New Zealand. . . 

Can Minnesota save its dairy farms? – Greta Kaul:

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture rolled out a state program that aims to inject cash into the state’s struggling dairy industry.

More than 1,100 Minnesota dairy farms closed up between 2012 and 2017, leaving only about 3,600 farms in an industry beset by years of low milk prices and a long, hard winter that delivered enough snow and wind to collapse the roofs of at least two dozen dairy barns.

The Minnesota Legislature passed the $8 million Minnesota Dairy Assistance, Investment and Relief Initiative (DAIRI) this year, in response to crisis in the dairy industry in Minnesota, the seventh-biggest dairy producer in the United States. . .


One rule for councils

19/06/2019

Queenstown Lakes District Council is seeking consent to spill waste into Lakes Wakatipu, Wanaka Hawea and Hayes, the Kawarau, Shotover, Clutha, Hawea, Cardrona and Arrow rivers and Luggate Creek. :

The Queenstown Lakes District Council wants permission to discharge wastewater overflows into freshwater, or on to land, for 35 years.

The Otago Regional Council has publicly notified the consent application, at the district council’s request, seeking to authorise district-wide wastewater network overflows, which happen occasionally and cannot be entirely prevented.

The district council’s application said despite overflows not being a “new or proposed occurrence” they are not presently authorised under the Resource Management Act 1991. . .

The council has been fined for previous discharges.

The council’s consent application said overflows were primarily caused by things like fats, sanitary items, wet wipes and building materials incorrectly put into the system, containing 421km of pipes and 65 pump stations, or from root intrusion from trees growing near pipes.

They caused blockages and breakages the wastewater network, which carries more than 4.65 million cubic metres of wastewater a year, restricting it from flowing freely.

That could result in a build-up of pressure in the system and if overflows could not occur at manholes or pump stations, there was a risk the wastewater could “blow back” into private property, through toilets, showers and sinks. . .

Overflows typically happened at manholes and pump stations where they either flowed overland directly into water bodies, or overland into “catch pits” and the stormwater network, before ending up in water bodies.

“This is reflective of all wastewater networks and illustrates that overflows cannot be entirely prevented, or their locations know prior to their occurrence,” the application said.

It’s true that not all overflows can be prevented but that excuse wouldn’t wash for farms or other businesses.

The council aimed to reach the location of an overflow within 60 minutes of notification – the median response time in 2017-18 was 22 minutes.

After the site is made safe the crew works to restore the service.

The 2017-18 response time was 151 minutes, compared to the key performance indicator of 240 minutes.

While the council’s wastewater network was relatively young, it planned to spend $105 million between 2018 and 2028 on pump stations, pipes and treatment plants.

However, the predominant cause of wastewater overflows was not age-related infrastructure failure, but foreign objects in the systems.

“This means that it is important to educate the community that the wastewater network is made to transport human waste, toilet paper, soaps and grey water only, and that any thing else contributes to blockages and breakages that cause overflows and may affect the integrity of the system.”

Cooking fat shouldn’t be put down a sink and sanitary protection, disposable napkins and wet wipes aren’t meant to be flushed down loos.

The blockages which result from people doing the wrong thing can’t be blamed on the council but there’s got to be a solution that takes less than 35 years.

Visually, the application said “public perception” of raw wastewater directly entering a freshwater environment from an overflow was not expected to be “favourable or acceptable to those that live, work and play in the Queenstown Lakes District”.

“As such, a wastewater overflow event, regardless of the location, has the potential to introduce adverse visual effects …  while it is acknowledged the adverse effects cannot be entirely avoided, they are mitigated and remedied to a degree that the effects can be considered more than minor, but less than significant.”

Overall, with the implementation of proposed conditions, the adverse ecological effects of “infrequent, short-term wastewater overflows to freshwater environments”, were considered to be “more than minor in localised environments, but overall no more than minor”. . . 

Minor and localised the effects might be but again that wouldn’t wash for other businesses.

When farmers have been taken to court for effluent spillages that could enter a waterway it is difficult to accept that a council could get permission for overflows, even thought they’re occasional, localised and minor for 35 years.

It looks like one rule for councils and another for the rest of us.


Rural round-up

02/05/2019

Wearing wool is better for skin than synthetics -Heather Chalmers:

Wearing natural fibres like wool is not only better for the environment, but also your skin health, research shows.

AgResearch bio-product and fibre technology science team leader Stewart Collie said wool was the world’s most sophisticated fibre in terms of its structure and composition. “These give the wool fibre its amazing functionality.”

For the skin health project, AgResearch created special garments that had the upper back portion split in two, with one half made from wool and the other polyester. . . 

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist Trish Rankin from Taranaki is the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The prestigious dairy award was announced the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference gala awards dinner in Christchurch this evening.

The other finalists were Kylie Leonard who farms north of Taupo, Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato and Southlander Emma Hammond. . . 

Dung beetle role in protecting waterways – Jono Edwards:

Dung beetles could provide the helping hand the region needs for disposing of farm faeces and protecting waterways, Otago Regional councillor Andrew Noone says.

Cr Noone said he was first introduced to the use of the bugs for managing animal waste on farms by a member of the public.

He is now pushing for the council to investigate their usefulness and potentially bring in subsidies for their wider introduction in Otago.

The beetles create small balls out of the manure and bury them in the ground which helps it to break down. . . 

High country steers the stars – Alan Williams:

Weaner steers sold very strongly at the annual Coalgate high-country calf sale in Canterbury on Wednesday.

A lot of calves sold for moe than $3.70/kg and up to just over $4 as buyers sought high-quality offerings from farm stations that have built excellent reputations.

“It’s our best steer sale so far,” Hazlett Rural general manager Ed Marfell said.

It was also one of the last sales of the weaner season in Canterbury and buyers decided they were better to pay up rather than risk missing out.

“We’ve got these renowned stations, great reputations and repeat buyers keep coming back,” Marfell said. . . 

Studs join in for bull walk:

Bull buyers are being promised value, variety and volume at next week’s King Country Big Bull Walk.

“That’s our tagline. We’re a big area and we’re telling buyers from outside King Country that if they come to our sales they will find something that suits them,” co-ordinator Tracey Neal said.

The walk is a series of open days on stud farms on May 6, 7 and 9 ahead of the on-farm sales in the last week of May. Neal reports good interest.

About 500 rising two-year bulls will be shown at18 studs taking part and about 330 of them will be offered at the on-farm sales held by 13 of the studs. The other studs will sell their bulls in the paddock or through sale yards.  . . 

Shift to managing individual sheep – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a global shift to managing sheep at an individual level rather than a flock level, Lincoln University’s Professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics Jon Hickford says.

Prof Hickford said EID tags and scanner technology allowed the recording of an individual animal’s performance and production values throughout its life.

The technology would be a useful tool to improve overall production for commercial flocks, he said.

”Rather than having a flock of nameless individuals, every sheep has their own identity.” . . 

Water prices are ‘selling farmers down the river’ – Tony Wright:

Another day’s heartless sun is sinking to the horizon, not a cloud in the sky, and Mick Clark’s nuggety body is throwing a long shadow over his parched land north of Deniliquin.

The feedlot that not so long ago held 1000 fat lambs is empty. There is no crop planted on the property that has been in his family’s hands for three generations.

“I’ve parked all the farm equipment up in the sheds and I’ve gone and got myself a job driving a tractor for a bloke,” he says.

Mick Clark has made a vow.

“So far as I’m concerned, the supermarket shelves in the city can go empty,” he says. “I’m not going to spend $600 a megalitre of water to keep farming just to go broke.” . . 

Science shows Kiwi cows have the edge on their US cousins – Glen Herud:

Did you know that New Zealand cows are smarter than American cows?

That’s a potentially defamatory statement but if I ever get sued by a litigious group of American dairy farmers or their cows, I think I’d have the proof to defend myself in court.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 75 per cent of US calves are raised in individual pens or hutches.

The calves are separated from their mothers and put into a little pen with a shelter at one end and milk teat or bucket at the other end. They spend their first eight weeks in this pen by themselves until weaning. . . 


Mayor doesn’t understand democracy

26/04/2019

The Labour Party plans to stand candidates for Dunedin City and the Otago Regional Councils at this year’s election:

. . .Labour representatives in Dunedin did not respond to Otago Daily Times requests for comment about their plans yesterday, but some city councillors expressed concern.

That included Cr Christine Garey, a first-term councillor and potential mayoral candidate, who believed there should be no place for party politics around the council table.

”I don’t believe they belong … I think it muddies the waters hugely.

”It shouldn’t be about party politics at grassroots level,” she said.. ..

Cr Jim O’Malley also opposed the development, saying party affiliations caused politically-aligned councillors to caucus before votes, and Labour’s move could encourage other parties to follow suit. . .

Local body representation is better served without party politics.

That is reinforced by this from Dunedin’s mayor:

Mr Cull said he had also heard ”murmurings” of Labour’s plans, but was not against them.

While such a move could create issues, if councillors were told how to vote by their party, the discipline imposed by a party could also be positive, especially if a party-affiliated councillor got ”completely out of order”.

”Independent candidates, as we know, are not answerable to anybody.”

Cull has had well publicised problems with at least one councillor.

If he thinks he needs party representation to help him with council discipline, he’s admitting to his own leadership failings.

But worse, he’s showing he doesn’t understand democracy.

Councillors should be answerable only to the people they represent, the voters who put them there.

The mayor thinking party membership would help if a councillor got out of order shows party-affiliated representatives would be answerable first to the party not the people.

That’s a compelling argument against party affiliation in local bodies.


Rural round-up

27/12/2018

Leave the water rules to locals – Neal wallace:

When water arrived in Maniototo 34 years ago it not only transformed the region’s dryland farms but also Geoff Crutchley’s views on water management.

Crutchley was initially reluctant to become involved in the murky world of water and irrigation management but was prodded into action in response to what he considered inflated water prices being demanded by the precursor to the Maniototo Irrigation Company.

So began an involvement that continues today but which has challenged some of his previous views while shaping others.

His experience has formed views on three issues in particular. . . 

Wilding pine effort set to triple – Jono Edwards:

The attack effort on Otago’s wilding pines seems set to treble.

Over the past year, $1.8 million was spent controlling 332,000ha in the region through the Ministry of Primary Industry-led wilding conifer control programme.

At a recent Otago Regional Council meeting, chief executive Sarah Gardner said she was told by ministry staff the work would soon triple.

This was echoed by the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group.

Ministry Wilding Conifer Programme manager Sherman Smith said phase one was 85% complete and planning for the second phase was under way. . . 

Improving farm performance – one effluent pond at a time – Jim van der Poel:

As a dairy farmer, I take great pride in looking after my farm – its animals, the grass under their feet, our team and how we protect the environment. Every aspect contributes to a successful business.

So, like many farmers, I am disappointed when a few let down the majority. There have been some instances this year of poor effluent compliance, despite many farmers doing great work in this space.

All dairy farmers have a responsibility to manage the effluent from their cows and it is taken seriously by the vast majority who are investing in reliable, sustainable farm systems. . . 

Ex-director suggests Fonterra suspends dividends – Sudesh Kissun:

A former Fonterra director says the co-op could suspend dividends to shore up its balance sheet rather than sell key assets.

Greg Gent says farmers and investors would understand if the co-op suspended dividends to get its books in better shape. And it could suspend dividends and sell some assets that don’t align with its new strategy.

However, he wants to see the co-op’s strategy before decisions are made on selling assets. . . 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2018 – Jamie Mackay:

The Country radio host Jamie Mackay takes a look at the highs and lows for rural New Zealand in 2018.

The Good:

The weather:

This time last year much of the country was in a screaming drought – a farmer’s worst nightmare. Although Mother Nature absolutely forgot to turn the tap off in November and early December, at least once we dry out there will be grass for Africa and for more than quite a few sheep, cattle and deer.

Mycoplasma bovis:

Twelve months ago many were resigned to living and farming with bovis. If a week’s a long time in politics, a year is an eternity in farming. I wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest bovis is beaten but we’ve given it a hell of fright in 2018. . . 

Bird veteran still has pluck – Alan Williams:

The glamorous part of the year is over for long-time poultry exhibitor Doug Bain.

After several months of winter and spring shows around the South Island with a lot of ribbons and accolades it is back to the real work of breeding hens and ducks for next year.

“You need to have a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a hobby for me,” the 82-year-old says.

He doesn’t keep count of the birds he breeds and has no preferences. 

“I like them all.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/08/2018

The dam that divides a dry district – David Williams:

A South Island council faces a stark choice – build an expensive dam with considerable financial risks or immediately impose water restrictions that will cripple some businesses. David Williams reports.

It was during the summer of 2000-2001 that the effects of over-allocation of water from the Waimea River, at the top of the South Island, became abundantly clear.

With only a sprinkling of rain over five months, the river dried up. Unprecedented water restrictions came in for the Tasman district and neighbouring Nelson. Commercial growers on the Waimea Plains couldn’t irrigate to grow and ripen their produce. Economic losses were thought to be in the millions of dollars. . .

Water plan fan gives ORC a peek – Sally Rae:

Simon Davies has always thought a little outside the square.

With a background outside of the farming industry, the Otago Federated Farmers president acknowledged he might have a different approach from some farmers.

Last week, Otago Regional Council staff from policy, compliance, science and communications visited the Toko Mouth property Mr Davies farms with his wife Joanna.

It had been something he had been wanting to do since taking over the role earlier this year, he said — to get ORC staff on farm to see first hand the practical steps he was taking around water quality. . .

Multi-talented with attitude – Glenys Christian:

Lisa Kendall reckons she does a little bit of everything when it comes to hiring out her skills for farm work. But she’s also a competitor, scholar, researcher and consultant and is a passionate champion of animal welfare who wants to work toward farm ownership. And though she’s starting with a small sheep milk venture she already has ideas about diversification into cheese and a cafe. She told Glenys Christian about her life. 

Lisa Kendall’s two sisters say she’s crazy. 

But both of them have already expressed their strong interest in getting involved in the sheep-milking farm with attached cheese-making and cafe facilities the 26-year-old is planning in the near future. . . 

From Darfield to Dongguan – Fonterra dials up value add:

Fonterra’s new cream cheese plant in Canterbury has started production and is set to manufacture up to 24,000 metric tonnes of cream cheese annually, bound for China.

China’s changing demographics have driven a surge in popularity for Western foods. The 20kg blocks of cream cheese from Darfield will meet growing demand for bakery goods, like cheese cakes and cheese tarts.

Susan Cassidy, General Manager Marketing, Global Foodservice, Fonterra, says growth in China’s middle class, rapid urbanisation and changing consumer tastes have contributed to explosive growth in the number of consumers wanting New Zealand dairy. . . 

Dr Tom: giving hope to Aussie farmers – Dr Tom Mullholland:

They call Australia the lucky country, but I’m not sure how the global warming dice is rolling for them at the moment. All of New South Wales – that’s 100 per cent – is officially gripped in a drought, which for some regions has been going on for six years.

Apparently, they have hit 99 per cent before but this is the first time they have cracked the ton. It’s not a record you would wish on anybody. I wonder, when does a six-year drought become the local weather?

I was pleased to be invited to speak to a couple of communities in the Outback on my Healthy Thinking strategies on how to manage the top paddock between the ears. As a doctor, I also speak on how to look after your physical, mental and social health. . . 

If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer – Isabelle Tree:

Veganism has rocketed in the UK over the past couple of years – from an estimated half a million people in 2016 to more than 3.5 million– 5% of our population – today. Influential documentaries such as Cowspiracy and What the Health have thrown a spotlight on the intensive meat and dairy industry, exposing the impacts on animal and human health and the wider environment.

But calls for us all to switch entirely to plant-based foods ignore one of the most powerful tools we have to mitigate these ills: grazing and browsing animals.

Rather than being seduced by exhortations to eat more products made from industrially grown soya, maize and grains, we should be encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. . .


Rural round-up

19/06/2018

In wake of M. Bovis, look after each other

To those who in some way are in the depths of New Zealand’s farming world, or part of the sector in some way, and to those who might not read this because they are not farmers — I’m thinking of us all, writes Mischa Clouston.

This Mycoplasma bovis is colossal. It will reach far and affect many of us in some way. In a huge, indescribable way.

I’m scared for my cattle owner friends; it must be such a heavy weight to carry just now, knowing you could lose so much.I’m scared for fellow managers or milkers; if there are no cows, do we even have a job in the dairy and beef industries? .

I’m worried for the health sector, helping support the strain and worry. But let’s not forget the agribusiness owners whose business is on farms or with product or services for cattle — the small business owners relying on the spending from farmers who may, in time, have little left in their own pots. . .

Otago water rights: ‘It’s time for this to be sorted out’ :

Water is the new gold in Otago and there is a mountain of work to bring water allocation in the area in line with the rest of the country before time runs out.

The Otago Regional Council is working to have the region’s antiquated water take regime brought in line with the Resource Management Act by the October 2021 deadline.

Water rights in Central Otago and parts of the surrounding districts were first allowed as mining rights to aid in the extraction of gold in the mid 19th century. . .

Down to earth and sharing the view glamping style – Sally Rae:

Patrick and Amber Tyrrell are genuinely living the dream.

It sounds a little like something out of a film script:  South African farmer’s son meets Waitaki Valley farmer’s daughter in a co-operative agricultural community in the Israeli desert.

Eventually, they move to the Waitaki Valley, where they build an off-the-grid home with spectacular views, and  focus on getting down to earth — literally. In February last year, Mr and Mrs Tyrrell launched Valley Views Glamping  (glamorous camping) on their property in the foothills below Mount Domett.

“It feels like we’ve found our calling in life,” Mrs Tyrrell said . .

Government needs to rethink Landcorp:

The Government needs to shrink their ownership of farms through Landcorp and use them to give young Kiwi farmers the opportunity to lease and ultimately own some of these farms, National Party spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“The Government owns massive tracts of productive land through Landcorp, 385,503 hectares – or around six times the size of Lake Tāupo, even though there is little public good from Crown ownership.

“Landcorp not only provides a poor financial return to taxpayers but the Governments’ ownership of these farms is keeping Kiwi farmers out of the market. . . 

Northland farmers gain insights on Queensland beef sector:

Northland sheep and beef farmers Kevin and Annette Boyd were among a group of 20
farmers who attended a week-long educational beef tour in Queensland last month
organised by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

The tour featured two days at the world-renowned Beef Australia event in Rockhampton
as well as visits to a range of beef operations throughout Queensland including
Brisbane-based meat retailer Farmer in the City, Grassdale feedlot in Miles, the Roma
saleyards and Emerald-based Clissold Downs (beef trading) and SwarmFarm (agritechnology).

The tour was organised by Rabobank to provide the bank’s local and international beef
clients with an opportunity to network with other farmers and to learn more about beef
operations in Queensland. . . 

Lack of decision support tools in forestry:

Recent comments by officials and “experts” on planting one billion trees, the plight of hill country forestry and woody debris flows, have not touched on the total lack of decision support tools so that farmers and other local forest investors can make the right decisions. Without engaging a costly consultant, farmers are expected to take a risk on a 25-year land commitment in an information vacuum.

Unlike the plethora of levy and government funded systems and tools available to farmers on agricultural decisions, there is next to nothing on forestry. The forest grower levy is mostly consumed by overseas owned forestry corporates looking to protect and enhance their assets, to maintain a social license to operate in a foreign land. As a result the forest levy doesn’t get spent expanding a local forest industry. . . 

Bayer North Canterbury Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 announced:

Congratulations to Zoe Marychurch from Bell Hill who won the Bayer South Island Regional Young Viticulturist of the Year competition on Friday 15th June.

This is a new regional competition added to the Young Vit competition this year and is open to contestants from Nelson, Canterbury and Waitaki. The winner goes through to represent their own region so Marychurch will represent North Canterbury in the National Final in August.

Four contestants battled it out at Greystone in Waipara – three from North Canterbury and one from Nelson. “The calibre of the contestants was high and it was great to see their enthusiasm and passion for viticulture evident throughout the day” says Nicky Grandorge, National Co-ordinator. They were tested on a wide range of skills including budgeting, trellising, pruning and pests and diseases. . . 


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