Rural round-up

15/09/2021

Give sheep and beef farmers a voice – James Hoban:

Trying to unite farmer advocacy groups is well intentioned but misguided, writes James Hoban. 

Recently I ran into a well known environmental activist who I had not seen for several years. He asked me what I thought the future of farming was and I disappointed myself by answering; “Dim, for sheep and beef, unless we can sort some major issues out,” without hesitating.

Grandparenting is a term we have become increasingly familiar with. Numerous examples of it have seen sheep and beef farmers disadvantaged in favour of more intensive land users. It is also the key reason why Groundswell’s call for one farming voice is flawed and why efforts by industry organisations to join forces for political lobbying are short sighted.

Despite widespread acknowledgement that grandparenting is wrong, it continues to be favoured by the Government. Grandparenting is used for triggering resource consent requirements in the recent winter grazing regulations and in the greenhouse gas emissions framework. While the Government has watched grandparenting tear rural communities apart, it continues to use it as the basis for controversial policies. . . 

A growing revolt – Chris McCullough:

Farmers across the world are jumping into their tractors and setting off in convoys to cities in order to make their voices heard. For too long now farmers have had to go along with whatever wacky decisions their governments have bestowed upon them, but that attitude has changed dramatically recently and it’s no more Mr Nice Guy.

As words fell deaf on politicians’ ears the Kiwi farmers did what their European counterparts have become used to and that meant a tractor trip to the city. French farmers are the world professionals of protesting as they ensure the French government, the European Commission and the public feel their anger. The EC insists its farm support subsidies will only be distributed if farmers comply with tougher greener environmental agriculture, provoking a revolt. . . 

Mixed reactions to road funding – Richard Rennie:

Despite the scale of the Government’s $24 billion-plus transport plan, mayors in some provincial regions are challenging the adequacy of funding for rural roading networks.

Auckland accounts for the lion’s share of the national land transport programme at $7.3b, but Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Manawatū, Canterbury and Otago are also swallowing $6.1b of the funds over the plan’s 2021-24 lifespan.

Ashburton District Council mayor Neil Brown said he was underwhelmed by the $1.2b allocated to Canterbury and just how much would be available to his council’s district as it continues to recover from  devastating floods in late May.

“When you look at general repairs and maintenance allocated, we did get more than the last three year plan, but it is only 1.6% more,” Brown said. . . 

Plea for more countries to be added to visa scheme for RSE workers :

A major horticulture group wants more countries added to the visa scheme for seasonal orchard and vineyard workers.

One-way quarantine-free travel by workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will start from next month, under the ‘recognised seasonal employer’ or RSE scheme.

Up to 14,400 people will be allowed in for the 2021-22 harvest.

Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said the industry is ready, and wanting to bring in as many people as possible. . . 

 

Taihape teaching farm transfer: Ombudsman says Education Ministry ‘unreasonable’ – Phil Pennington:

The Chief Ombudsman has found the Education Ministry was wrong to take a small farm used for agricultural lessons off a Taihape school.

Locals have won an apology but cannot get the farm back.

Townsfolk joined forces to buy the 13-hectare block cheaply from a local farmer, put hundreds of sheep and cattle on it three decades ago, and it has since been central to the curriculum.

But the ministry first took it, then disposed of it, several years ago despite the town’s protests. . . 

How Sri Lanka’s overnight flip to total organic farming has led to an economic disaster – Samyak Pandey:

Sri Lanka has been hit by a serious economic emergency even as it struggles to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dwindling foreign exchange reserves, a sinking currency and soaring food inflation have come together to create a crisis which is unprecedented even by the record of the island nation that was torn by civil war for decades.

The surge in food prices and a real fear of hoarding of essential food items was the last straw that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to impose the economic emergency on 31 August under the public security ordinance.

At the root of this economic catastrophe is a bizarre overnight flip by Rajapaksa’s government on 29 April to ban the import of chemical fertilisers and any other agrochemicals to make the Indian Ocean nation the first in the world to practice organic-only agriculture. . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2021

Rabbits: ‘It’s as bad as it’s ever been’ – Melanie Reid:

Rabbits are once again over-running parts of New Zealand. This week, in a series of short videos, Newsroom Investigates lays out the remarkable impacts in the south.

Farmers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on rabbit control, with some employing full time shooters. But what if you control the rabbits at your place, and next door they don’t?

For Phillip Bunn, a third generation farmer on 149 hectares of Central Otago family land, there are a lot of things that make farming in the Queenstown Wakatipu Basin tough.

But dealing with rabbits is by far the hardest part. . .

Truckers at risk crossing Mt Ruapehu bridge with ‘severe’ defects – Phil Pennington:

A century-old wooden bridge full of holes that carries masses of the country’s potatoes and carrots is jeopardising truckers’ safety and farmers’ livelihoods.

But government funding changes make it less certain the local council can get the bridge, on a back road on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, replaced.

Between a 10th and one-fifth of the washed carrots and potatoes used in the North Island come across the one-lane timber Mangateitei rail overbridge near Ohakune.

There is no other public road out from the farms. . . 

Rein in rates and show some backbone over water rules, Feds urges ECan:

Federated Farmers is strongly urging Environment Canterbury to demonstrate financial discipline and stick with current water plans developed with the community, rather than cave in and start a $25 million exercise re-writing them.

Feds Mid-Canterbury President David Clark and fellow Ashburton farmer and national board member Chris Allen said the Federation’s Canterbury membership of around 3000 are outraged and hugely disappointed with the very large rates increases proposed.

Most farmers face bigger hikes than the overall average of 24.5% in the financial year starting July 1.

“No business has the luxury of unlimited income, especially farmers who as price takers cannot just increase their prices. ECan should be no different,” Clark told councillors at a hearing this morning. . . 

Log exports high prices create New Zealand trucking backlog – Maja Burry:

Strong export prices for logs are creating bottlenecks in the local supply chain, with forest owners reporting problems securing log truck drivers and in some cases, harvesting contractors.

Forest Owners Association’s president Phil Taylor said when log prices were high, smaller forest owners, including farmers, seized the opportunity to maximise returns.

“It’s a very good opportunity to realise their investments and for those farmers that have trees to provide them with a significant boost to their incomes.”

The shortage in log truck drivers was a developing concern and the association was keen to work with Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service to encourage more people into the industry, Taylor said. . .

Nadine Tunley is HortNZ’s new Chief Executive :

Nadine Tunley has been announced as Horticulture New Zealand’s new Chief Executive. 

‘We are very pleased to have been able to appoint a candidate of Nadine’s calibre, with her level of horticulture and wider food and fibre sector experience.  This was after an extensive recruitment process,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘Nadine will lead HortNZ into new territory, as horticulture adapts to Covid and the operation of industry changes.  Over the next decade, climate adaption, freshwater quality improvements, and increased use of technology and automation will result in significant change to the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand. 

‘HortNZ’s role will be to help steer the industry through this change, advocating for growers to be given the time and support to adapt.  This is so our growers can remain viable during the transition, and do what they do best: feed New Zealand and the world healthy, good tasting and safe food. . . 

Rob Hewett appointed Silver Fern Farms co-op chair:

At the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 29 April, Richard Young announced that he was standing down as Co-operative Chair to facilitate transition to the next generation of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative leaders.

To bridge this transition period, the Co-operative Board has requested that Rob Hewett step back into the Co-operative Chair role that he relinquished two years ago, together with continuing in his role as Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited.

Mr Hewett said “Firstly I want to thank Richard for his significant contribution as Co-op Chair for the past two years. Over that time, he has led the development and establishment of a clear vision and purpose for the Co-operative, which ensures we continually work cohesively with our investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited, but also ensuring the voice of our farmer shareholders is heard. I also know he will continue to make a significant contribution for the balance of his current term. Over the next three years there will be significant managed transformation in our Board composition as several of our farmer elected directors come to the end of their maximum terms as allowed for in our Constitution – myself included. While the Constitution does allow for term extensions on a case by case basis for Directors who have reached their maximum term, it is the clear intention of the Co-operative board to manage succession proactively.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/03/2021

Ministry accused of stealing Taihape farm – Phil Pennington:

Government officials are being accused of stealing a farm bought by a central North Island town for their schoolchildren to learn agriculture.

Taihape people established the teaching farm on 12 hectares next to Taihape College 30 years ago but the Ministry of Education has taken it and put it in the landbank for Treaty settlements, and the school can now only lease it.

The Ombudsman is looking at whether to investigate.

“It’s very unfortunate. I think you could effectively say that the community asset has been stolen by the Education Ministry,” Rangitīkei National MP Ian McKelvie said. . .

New tax rules are flawed – Neal Wallace;

New taxation rules will create uncertainty and compliance costs to virtually every farm sales, warns Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

The association’s NZ tax leader John Cuthbertson says the new legislation coming into force on July 1, is designed to reduce government revenue loss by forcing parties to sale and purchase agreements to agree on the allocation of sale proceeds to particular types of assets for tax purposes.

Cuthbertson says this is known as purchase price allocation.

“If they had just stopped there that would have been acceptable, but they have gone further, impacting the relative negotiating positions of the parties and adding uncertainty and compliance costs,” he said. . . 

A change for the better – Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki farmer has turned his entire farming operation 180 degrees and is loving the change.

When farmers change their farm system, it’s often just a case of making minor changes to streamline the operation. However, when Taranaki farmers Adam and Taryn Pearce decided to make changes they didn’t do things by halves.

The Pearces operate a 60-hectare, 180-cow farm at Lepperton. When they decided to change their farming system, it was not going to be just a small tweak for them to achieve that goal. . .

Few takers for safety subsidy – Country Life:

Of the 35,000 farmers and businesses eligible to access a subsidy for crush protection devices for quad bikes, only 270 have taken it up.

ACC injury prevention manager Virginia Burton-Konia says agriculture is a high risk area and quad bikes create significant costs to the scheme and therefore significant injuries for farm workers.

She says it’s not just farmers, but sometimes farm workers, whānau or manuhiri who are on farms.

“Last year ended up with $80 million worth of cost to the scheme focusing on injuries in quad bikes, you know we ended up with 566 I think injuries in 2020.” . .

A side hustle in saffron – Country LIfe:

Haley Heathwaite was looking for something “a bit different and a challenge” when deciding on a crop of her own to grow.

The former outdoor instructor is production manager with a Gisborne seed company and for the past four years she has also had a side gig growing saffron on eight hectares in Tolaga Bay.

The precious spice comes from the stigma of the crocus sativus – a pretty purple flower which blooms for just a few weeks in the autumn – and Haley says it sells for $57,000 a kilo at the moment. The painstaking autumn harvest is, however, counted in grams.

Haley says there are many challenges extracting the brightly coloured stigma during harvest including keeping bees away and dealing with morning dew. . . 

Location not size fuel reduction burns most effective within 1km of houses – Jamieson Murphy:

LOCATION is far more important that size when it comes to fuel reduction burns, a new study by the Bushfire Recovery Project has found.

The expert review of 72 peer-reviewed scientific papers about bushfires and infrastructure loss found fuel reduction burning was most effective at reducing housing loss when done within one kilometre of the property.

The Bushfire Recovery Project is a joint initiative between Griffith University and the Australian National University to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed science says about bushfires. . .

 


Rural round-up

07/08/2019

Plant milk’s worse for the environment than cow milk:  Fonterra  – Gerard Hutching:

If you are drinking plant-based “milks” because you think they are better for the environment, think again says a Fonterra scientist.

Nielsen Scantrack data shows sales of alternative milks have taken off in the past two years, with 25 per cent of total market share of all milk categories. In 2017 Kiwis spent $52 million on them, but that has risen to $144m in the last 12 months, with almond milk the most popular, followed by soya.

The value of the alternative milk market is growing at 7.6 per cent a year, while cow milk value is flat. . .

Speak Up experience transforming – Sally Rae:

If she was to look back at the person she was nearly two years ago, Elle Perriam reckons she would not recognise herself.

Miss Perriam is the very public face of rural mental health awareness campaign Will to Live, which was launched following the death of her boyfriend, Will Gregory, in December 2017.

Speaking during a Speak Up tour – events were held in Balclutha, Winton and Hawea last week and more were planned for Kurow on August 15 and Middlemarch on August 16 – she said it was rewarding and motivating. . .

Contemplating the big numbers in exports and imports – Joyce Wyllie:

 Whenever you sit in the car and turn the key in the ignition you simply expect the engine to start. No thoughts to carburettors, sparks, fuel, explosions, pistons, drive shaft, moving parts, wheels going round and how it all happens. Just taken for granted that one small movement of the hand initiates amazing mechanics causing movement in the machine.

Occasionally it doesn’t work which creates concern and limits immediate travel choices. Also when going places in the car not much thought is given to the place where that vehicle came from to where it’s now being used. Supply, imports, transport, trade, money going round and the privilege of ownership are, generally, all taken for granted.

After seeing the last of our season’s lambs mustered, drafted, weighed, loaded on trucks and driven away from the farm I wondered where they may have ended up. Our meat company provided some interesting information on markets and destination from the Nelson plant.  . . 

No scheme to manage hundreds of dams, but regulations concern farmers – Phil Pennington:

New Zealand lacks any scheme to monitor and maintain the structural integrity of hundreds of dams nationwide, but is now playing catch up trying to bring in controversial safety regulations.

The risks are illustrated at the town of Whaley Bridge in the UK, where thousands of people have been evacuated because an old clay dam holding a billion litres of water is cracking.

“Dams are still failing in highly developed countries in this day and age, and the Whaley Bridge example – it’s still happening,” vice chair of the New Zealand Society on Large Dams, Dan Forster, said. . .

Real characters at indoor dog trials – Sally Rae:

It could well be worth a trip to this week’s Southern Indoor Charity Dog Trial at Waimumu just to meet Jack and Mack.

In a sport which is littered with characters, 80-year-old Jack Condon could only be described as one out of the box.

Mr Condon is making the trip from Bruce Bay in South Westland, where he has been staying recently, towing a caravan in case he could not find accommodation in Gore.

After only taking up dog trialling in his 70s, he was bringing Mack – his “champion dog”, he laughed – whom he described as a “nice fella“. . .

2019 Plate to Pasture youth scholarships:

Silver Fern Farms has presented six young people from around New Zealand with Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships as recognition for their ideas to further the sustainability of the red meat sector.

Each recipient received $5000 to go toward their careers in the red meat sector. Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says this year’s applicants were asked to explore the issues of sustainability in the red meat sector and present their solutions for farms, processing and in-market. . .


Rural round-up

03/02/2018

Farmers band together for storm clean-up – Alexa Cook:

West Coast farmers are picking up the pieces after ex-cyclone Fehi left paddocks ruined, fences ripped out, and trees down.

The Westland dairy factory in Hokitika only has limited power and can’t process milk or pick it up from several parts of the region – including farms in Ikamatua and north, Runanga up to Karama, and Mount Hercules south.

Dairy farmer Rebecca Keoghan lives near Westport and manages seven Landcorp farms in the area. . . 

Events to offer advice to farmers – Sally Rae:

Various events and gatherings to help farmers coping with drought conditions have already been scheduled throughout Otago.

On Tuesday, the drought in Southland and parts of Otago was classified as a medium-scale adverse event.

That classification covered all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts and triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . . 

Bull attack: ‘Pushed me into the ground, gored me a bit‘ – Phil Pennington:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer and his dogs have survived an attack by a half-tonne bull that flipped over his quad bike.

“One bull just broke out of the mob and snorted a couple of times, and you have that sense of dread that something’s not going to go right here,” said Robert Pattullo, 57, from his family farm at Puketitiri 15km west of Napier.

“He charged at the bike – I’d hopped off by that stage – completely flipped it over in one go. This is a 650-kilo bull against a probably 350-kilo bike.”

Friesian bulls were normally placid and he did not know what had set the animal off yesterday morning, Mr Patullo said. . .

Milk producer cuts forecast price:

Westland Milk Products has cut its forecast milk price back by more than 20 cents.

The co-operative is now expecting a price of between $6.20 and $6.50.

Fonterra’s farmgate forecast milk price is currently $6.40 kg/ms, and Synlait is forecasting $6.50.

Westland chair Pete Morrison said the drop in milk price was in line with other milk companies.

“We’re kind to all our stakeholders and we want to keep it as reliable and with as much integrity as possible … so we thought best to indicate that now. . . 

Rising milk price helps push Open Country annual revenue above $1B –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy, New Zealand’s second-largest milk processor, generated more than $1 billion of revenue last year but payments for milk rose faster than receipts from customers and profit fell.

Profit was $23 million in the year ended Sept. 30 from about $62 million a year earlier, its accounts show. Sales rose 34 percent to $1.1 billion while cost of sales gained about 44 percent.

Open Country didn’t disclose volume figures in its public annual accounts but chair Laurie Margrain said it was up on a year ago.. . .

Beef + Lamb NZ to review investment in Sector Capability:

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is seeking farmers’ views on its Sector Capability Programme.

Richard Wakelin, B+LNZ’s General Manager Innovation, says the review will consider farmer investment through B+LNZ in the Sector Capability Programme overall and its various activities.

“The review will look at B+LNZ investment in the current portfolio of activities, how these activities align with farmer needs and perceptions, and how they provide value back to the sheep and beef sector.” . . 

Global demand for NZ kiwifruit creating regional growth opps:

The New Zealand kiwifruit sector is set for growth following 2017’s record season and new development opportunities across the country, according to the ANZ Kiwifruit Insights paper.

The sector has bounced back following the PSA crisis, helped by increasing global demand which saw kiwifruit sales rise by $694m from the 2015/16 – 2016/17 seasons.

“The success of the kiwifruit sector is remarkable. It has continued to invest in new varieties while staying connected to consumer demand and has worked hard to keep international markets alive,” said ANZ Managing Director for Commercial & Agri, Mark Hiddleston. . . 

New Zealand and India building stronger horticultural relationships:

A new partnership has been announced between New Zealand and the State of Himachal Pradesh under the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development Project which targets smallholder farmers in northern India.

The Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development project aims to be the start of a much broader relationship with New Zealand horticulture.

The New Zealand team, working on the project, includes scientists from Plant & Food Research, Agfirst Engineering, Fruition Horticulture and other New Zealand-based specialists with additional support from the New Zealand pipfruit industry body, New Zealand Apples & Pears and New Zealand Government agencies. . . 

The Woolmark Company and adidas present the Woolmark Performance Challenge:

The Woolmark Company and leading sports brand adidas have joined forces to launch a design competition focussing on the development of innovative, forward-thinking products for the performance industry. The Woolmark Performance Challenge is a new annual competition for tertiary students in Europe and North America and is set to kick-start the career of the eventual winner.

The competition provides an unrivalled opportunity for tertiary students to develop innovative new product applications within the sports and performance market, by applying the science and performance benefits of Australian Merino wool. . .


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