Rural round-up

July 27, 2019

Huge challenge facing RMA review panel:

Federated Farmers believes the Government has set a substantial challenge in its announcement of a review into the Resource Management Act.

The organisation agrees with Environment Minister David Parker that because of frequent amendments, the RMA is now overly cumbersome, costly and complex.

“The review will be no easy task. It will need to consider wide and diverse opinions and concerns. There are few organisations which have been more intricately and routinely involved in resource management processes across the country since the Act first came into force than Federated Farmers, so we consider our active input on the review panel will be vital,” Federated Farmers resource management spokesperson Chris Allen says. . .

Eliminating ‘M bovis’ tough but correct call – Peter Bodeker:

The Ministry for Primary Industries remains confident it can eradicate M.bovis from New Zealand,  Peter Bodeker says.

July marks two years since Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand, kicking off the largest biosecurity response we’ve ever seen.

Along with the entire country, Otago has been affected – facing immense challenges in dealing with this disease, and the ongoing effort to eradicate it. . .

More Miraka farmers win for excellence :

Miraka’s insistence on sustainable farming practices has shown results in more farms winning honours in the recent Te Ara Miraka farming excellence awards.

“Since establishing the awards four years ago we’ve started to see significant change in on farm practices,” says Grant Jackson, general manager milk supply. “

We’re not just meeting the regulations, that’s mandatory for us. Rather we’re going over and above, to achieve excellence in animal welfare, sustainable land management, looking after employees and premium quality milk.”  . . 

Young Farmer passionate about improving dairy’s environmental footprint :

A pair of fantails flit above Robert Barry’s head as he bends down to inspect a predator trap at the base of a totara tree.

The towering native is in a pristine bush block on a farm owned by the BEL Group near Waipukurau in central Hawke’s Bay.

The eight-hectare block is protected by a Queen Elizabeth II Trust covenant and is dotted with almost a dozen traps. . . 

Tenure agreement reached for Canterbury high country station

A tenure review agreement has been reached for the North Canterbury high country station, Island Hills.

Under the soon-to-be scrapped tenure review process, leased high-country Crown land can be signed over to farmers, provided they set aside areas for conservation.

Land Information New Zealand said 1600 hectares would be transferred to the Crown as conservation estate and 3200 will be freehold subject to conservation covenants, that restricts activities such as grazing and vegetation clearance.

The remaining 200 hectares would be freehold without restrictions. . . 

How do riparian strips fare long term – Bert Quin:

Could our riparian systems become overloaded and therefore useless? Riparian strips are correctly promoted as useful tools for reducing environmental pollution, especially for their ability to filter out faecal bacteria and sediment before these enter streams. But there is much more to it, writes Bert Quin.

Many frequently made claims for the ability of riparian strips to improve water quality are based on very short-term studies only. This is particularly true of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) removal.

Unfortunately, we are now in the days of emphasis on short-term, quick-results trials that lend themselves to publication in many different journals to ensure more cash from equally short-sighted funding organisations and companies with vested interests. . .


Mooving from Gypsy Day

May 29, 2017

The milking season goes from June 1st to May 31st and the change of season means a change of farm for hundreds of dairy owners, sharemilkers, managers and staff.

The changes result in big and small movements for people and stock on what has been know as Gypsy Day.

But the Otago Regional Council now deems that term too offensive:

On Wednesday, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) issued a statement under the heading “Gypsy Day preparations bring reminder to reduce effluent spillage”.

That prompted a rebuke from Dunedin City councillor, Aaron Hawkins, who said “I think it’s remarkable that in 2017 something called ‘Gypsy Day’ could still exist”.

“The word ‘gypsy’ is commonly used as a slur against Roma people, but even putting that aside, drawing a comparison between herds of cattle and any ethnic grouping I would have thought was pretty offensive.

“Even if it is entrenched in common usage, I’d like to think that a body like the ORC would show some leadership by using more inclusive language.”

Asked for a response, ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker told Stuff  “The term ‘Gypsy Day’ might be still in common use within the farming community as a short-hand term for the mass movement of stock, but it has undertones that aren’t in tune with New Zealand society today”.

“ORC won’t be using the term in the future.” . . .

The Oxford dictionary  defines Gypsy as travelling people traditionally living by itinerant trade and fortune telling but it adds that it is also applied informally to a nomadic or free-spirited person.

Language evolves and terms which were once offensive become acceptable, others which weren’t acceptable become offensive.

Gypsy Day hasn’t been used derogatively, it was just coined to describe the annual movement of people and stock.

However, DairyNZ now uses Mooving Day.

Company senior communications and engagement manager Lee Cowan said an informal move to change the name happened several years ago “as we felt it better reflected what actually happened on 1 June”.

“The origin of the term probably goes back to the days when the majority of farmers and sharemilkers walked their cows to the new farm rather than trucking them as they do now.

“This meant there were a lot of farmers and cows walking along the road on changeover day which got colloquially known as Gypsy Day,” Cowan said.

“In terms of the use of the term Gypsy Day; some farmers still use the term informally as this is the term they would have grown up with, but positively we are seeing greater uptake of the term ‘Mooving Day’, he said. . . 

The antipathy to Gypsy Day could be described as political correctness or it could be accepted that language mooves with the times.


Different rules for councils and farms

February 19, 2015

Federated Farmers Otago Dairy Chair Stephen Crawford writes on different environmental standards for councils and farms:

As a farmer I have been increasingly concerned by the lack of consistency between council treatment of urban and rural users when it comes to the actions taken under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

We have all seen farmers prosecuted in the Environment Court for breaches under the RMA, for matters such as effluent discharges that “may enter water”.

These are the critical few words found in the RMA that most prosecutions are based on (“…and may enter water”). What that means is that the contaminant didn’t necessarily enter water or cause pollution, it just “may” have been able to enter water – and that’s a big difference. . .

Is there any other area where the potential to do something wrong is treated as if you have actually done something wrong?

If you were in a pub with car keys in your pocket you may drive when you shouldn’t but you may also walk, call a taxi, get someone else to drive or find another way home but you would not be charged because you may drive.

Of course it’s not always that simple. In some cases, contaminants from farms do in fact enter water. That cannot be condoned and depending on the circumstances, the Environment Court may be the appropriate course of action.

Last spring, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) boss Peter Bodeker went to media, stating that recent dairy inspections in Otago were not good enough and that an unacceptable number of breaches had been found.

If you watched 7 Sharp on Tuesday night, you will see some of our most popular swimming beaches in are unsafe to swim in due to the overflow sewage systems that some city councils’ use, there is no “may” about it.  So let’s compare these on-farm breaches of the RMA to those in the urban sector.

Last November, media reported that in Cromwell 3,500 litres of untreated waste had entered Lake Dunstan. In response, the ORC determined that no action was required.

Over recent months and years, Queenstown Lakes District Council has had numerous untreated spills into the lake, and not a single prosecution has eventuated to date.

Apart from the fact that a major tourist destination’s image is being tarnished by the site of untreated sewage flowing on streets and into the lake, that waste is entering water and is simply bad for the environment.

If Queenstown was a farm, there would be a huge public outcry for it to be shut down until major improvements could bring it up to appropriate standards.

Other towns around the country actually have consent to pollute on a daily basis.

Milton is just one example.  It has been issued consent by the ORC to intermittently discharge 9,150 cubic meters per day of untreated wastewater mixed with storm water to the Tokomairiro River.

This discharge permit expires on December 31, 2017. But don’t worry; part of the consent approval includes a diagram for a sign to be erected, saying “Danger. Keep Out. No Swimming”.

Other New Zealand towns also have consent to discharge untreated or partially treated waste to land “in a manner that may enter water”. Interesting that those towns have these discharge consents approved by councils, when this is the same standard for which farmers are being prosecuted.

For many coastal towns the solution is simple, just put waste out to sea in a longer and ever extending pipeline. Well at least it doesn’t get to freshwater that way, although as we’ve seen recently, the impact on many of our beaches is not something to be proud of.

It is one rule for council discharges, and a completely different rule for farmers and I’m convinced the environment doesn’t notice the difference.

To people living in urban New Zealand, you have been “sold” a story comprising limited science based on a successful and catchy slogan, “dirty dairy”. And from that was born the misconception that most pollution is from farms.

Regional councils around the country continue to turn a blind eye to blatant urban pollution, both within discharge consent parameters and through unconsented spills into our lakes and rivers.

Farmers don’t expect any special treatment. We have a huge responsibility in looking after our environment. But nor do we expect to be targeted and singled out by regional councils.

All we ask is that in the interests of our environment, we have a more level playing field.  Currently what we have is anything but.

Farmers live near to, swim in and drink from the waterways which border their farms giving them a very personal interest in ensuring they are clean.

We’re not asking for special treatment we are asking for fairness.

Discharges which may enter a waterway should not be regarded in a similar way to pollution which does enter a waterway and councils shouldn’t get special treatment when others appear to be treated with far less leniency.


Rural round-up

July 25, 2014

Federation wins rates remission against urban sprawl:

Federated Farmers is thrilled that common sense has prevailed in the Horowhenua District Council’s unanimous decision to adopt a rates remission for farms being rezoned as urban.

“Due to the urban sprawl, farmers are increasingly being rezoned as urban, and consequently being faced with enormous rates bills, but thankfully the Council listened to us and has taken a more common sense approach,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“Federated Farmers suggested a similar rates remission policy to its neighbouring Kapiti Coast, in order to avoid unnecessary costs to farming businesses, which would reduce their competitiveness with other farmers in the region. . .

Council and farmers work together – Chris Lewis:

As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. This is now evident in the Waikato as we see comparative data in effluent compliance, prepared by the Waikato Regional Council, pre the collaborative process and to now.

With farm inspections on the ground having increased by just over 200 farms since 2012, we are seeing a conscious effort to work alongside farmers rather than be a distant enforcer. Every successful business or individual knows that their achievement depends on a community working together, with a shared vision or goal. . .

Focus on farm-exit water quality :

The Otago Water Plan’s Plan Change 6A (PC6A) was not about the Otago Regional Council using a ”big stick” to ensure compliance for water quality, chief executive Peter Bodeker said.

He said the council did not wish to dictate to land owners, farmers, horticulturists and forest owners how they managed their properties.

The council decided to take an ”effects-based approach” to controlling discharges from properties, rather than regulating operational methods, and to encourage management practices that ensured water leaving the property was of sufficient quality. . .

Gold surge tipped for Zespri – Richard Rennie:

An impending avalanche of Gold kiwifruit will present as many challenges as opportunities for growers over the next two seasons and returns are expected to ease as a result.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager used this year’s annual meeting to caution growers about the prospect of moving from a post-Psa famine in gold fruit to a feast by 2018.  

The latest harvest yielded the lowest volume yet of the high-value fruit, at 11.1 million trays, reflecting the grafting change from the disease ravaged Hort16a variety to the more Psa-tolerant Gold3 and associated varieties. . .

Ag scientist’s career marked by contrasts  – Sue O’Dowd,

Agricultural science has provided a Taranaki man with a career marked by contrasts.

There’s been the ice, snow and dry valleys of Antarctica and the desert of Saudi Arabia. Malcolm Macfarlane has also worked for the New Zealand Fire Service and in the hillcountry of the North Island’s East Coast, where he’s undertaking forage research.

Although he lives in Inglewood, where wife Rosie Mabin is Inglewood High School’s principal, he’s a scientist for Hastings-based On-Farm Research. . . .

The latest dairy farm syndicate spurns debt as investors focus on risk – Greg Ninness:

Roger Dickie NZ has launched a dairy farm investment syndicate that will have almost no debt.

The company is best known for putting together forestry investment vehicles, but its latest offering, Eastbourne Dairy Farm Ltd, will be its third dairy farm offering and it has also previously syndicated a sheep and beef property.

Eastbourne has been set up with a company structure in which investors will buy shares, with 11 million shares on offer at a dollar each and the minimum investment being $25,000.

The proceeds will be used to buy an established 241ha dairy farm in Southland and a 520 cow herd. . . .

 


Rural round-up

September 20, 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints Chair-Elect:

Northland farmer and Northern North Island Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, James Parsons was appointed Chair-Elect for Beef + Lamb New Zealand at the organisation’s board meeting today.

The position of Chair–Elect has been made to allow an orderly transition of leadership for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following the announcement from current Chairman, Mike Petersen that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in March 2014.

“This appointment is a very important part of the governance process,” Petersen said.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand puts strong emphasis on the development of all directors, and there has been a real focus on growing the leadership ability of the board for the benefit of the wider sector. . .

Wattie’s Starts Precision – Planting This Season’s Beetroot:

– Day One of 20 weeks of planting

– Resurgence of consumer interest in beetroot

Wattie’s has started precision-planting this season’s beetroot crop, and will continue over the next 20 weeks until a total of 350 hectares have been planted.

The first seed has been planted in the Paki Paki area of Hawke’s Bay for what will be a 20,000 tonne crop, Wattie’s second biggest annual crop behind tomatoes.

Harvesting of the first baby beets is scheduled for the second week in December. . .

Irrigators urged to check for lightning strike damage:

IrrigationNZ says farmers should exercise caution when starting irrigation systems – even if storm damage isn’t obvious – as lightening strike has emerged as a secondary cause of problems following last week’s storm.

“Just because your centre pivot didn’t blow over in the wind doesn’t mean your system is ok. We are now hearing reports of irrigation control systems fried by lightning strike, especially along the Canterbury foothills. Farmers need to check their infrastructure carefully before the season begins. Don’t start your irrigator before you’ve undertaken the appropriate safety checks,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Irrigation system pre-season checks will be even more important this year as parts and labour will be in short supply due to the storm. Irrigators can not afford for their irrigator to break down due to negligence as it will result in downtime. Basic checks like ensuring the pivot tracks are free from obstructions, tyre pressures are correct and so forth are a no-brainer,” says Mr Curtis. . .

Invermay Delegation Meeting Minister of Economic Development:

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is leading a delegation to meet with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to discuss alternatives to the proposed downsizing of Invermay in Wellington at 5pm today.

The group includes Environment Southland chair Ali Timms, former Dunedin MPs Katherine Rich and Pete Hodgson, Otago Regional Council chair Stephen Woodhead and its CEO Peter Bodeker.

Dave Cull says any reduction in roles at Invermay will have a serious economic and strategic impact.

“From Dunedin’s perspective, there is potential for smart businesses and jobs to come out of there. From a regional point of view, the expertise at Invermay is crucial to ensure the continuation of leading environmental research related to farming and other industries which contribute significantly to the Otago and Southland economies. We believe the proposal would also have serious economic implications at a national level.” . . .

Double Gold for Rapaura Springs 2013 Sauvignon Blanc:

Rapaura Springs is continuing to strike gold with its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, with a double win at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2013.

The Rapaura Springs 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Rapaura Springs 2013 Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc both won gold medals at the country’s largest wine competition.

Owner Brendan Neylon said Sauvignon Blanc was Marlborough’s flagship wine, and it was imperative that the region worked hard to continue to produce the world’s best. . .

Rockburn Wines Win At the Biggest and Most Prestigious Wine and Spirits Competition In China:

Rockburn Wines has been awarded a prestigious Double Gold medal in the 2013 China Wine and Spirits Awards for their 2009 Rockburn Chardonnay, while the 2011 Pinot Noir took out its own Gold award.

The Central Otago winery has a history of winning gold medals, particularly for its Pinot Noir, and this month alone has also collected a Gold Medal at the Bragato Wines Awards for their 2012 Pinot Noir and a Gold Medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show for their 2012 Tigermoth Riesling. . .

Marisco Vineyards wins NZ Wine Producer of the Year in China:

Marisco Vineyards has been awarded the Trophy for New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year at the China Wine and Spirits Awards. The company’s wines also won four double-gold, six gold and two silver medals in the prestigious annual competition, continuing their golden run in the rapidly growing Chinese wine market.

Chief Winemaker and Proprietor Brent Marris says the trophy and medal haul will consolidate The King’s Series and The Ned’s position as market leading New Zealand wine brands in China.

“The Chinese market is very complex. One of the challenges is that it is culturally a very status driven market so old world wines have tended to dominate. But awards like this endow enormous status on our brands, new world wines generally, and New Zealand wines specifically, and this win will build our brand profile, and help increase distribution and cement our foothold in the Chinese market,” Marris says. . .

Organics: The Future of New Zealand Wine?

Major three-year project aims to see a fifth of all Kiwi vineyards certified organic by 2020.

The oldest winery in the country, Mission Estate, is also one of the most technologically advanced and sustainable. Now, in a move that could have implications for the New Zealand wine industry as a whole, Mission Estate is into its final year of a major study on organic grape-growing – a trial that may potentially see this influential winery make a significant commitment to increasing its organics production.

The Organic Focus Vineyard Project is New Zealand’s first public trial of organic grapes grown side by side with conventional grapes. The pioneering participants are Gibbston Valley in Central Otago, Wither Hills in Marlborough, and Mission Estate in Hawke’s Bay, where the project was piloted during the 2010-11 season. Mission viticulturist Caine Thompson is monitoring 16 hectares of Gimblett Gravels vines, with half being grown in the conventional manner and half under strict organic controls. . .


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