Food or forests

May 14, 2019

Current government policy favours forests rather than food production and disregards the science:

Professor Derrick Moot writes:

I recently provided peer review for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environments report on “Farms, forestry and fossil fuels: The next great landscape transformation?“. It rightly points out that the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions is from turning fossil carbon (oil and coal) into atmospheric carbon dioxide. The report concludes that only biological emissions (from e.g. farm animals) should be able to be offset by forestry (a biological sink). I believe this is sound science and would make sound policy in NZ and globally.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, supports this too.

However, the NZ Govt. have dismissed this idea with little acknowledgement of the distortions their current policy settings will create. The lack of action against fossil fuels means the New Zealand rural sector will be disadvantaged by a global problem that is the result of fossil fuel burning. In my opinion it is absurd that NZ is targeting short lived biological emissions from sheep and cows and largely ignoring the fossil fuel industry that the rest of the world recognises as the main cause of greenhouse emissions. Short term expediency may allow individual farmers to benefit from planting trees, and in a best case scenario see the conversion of marginal grazing land to forestry. However, the subsidy to forestry will make it almost impossible for sheep and beef farmers to compete in land purchases in the medium and long term. Importantly, we are already seeing high value sheep and beef farm land close to main roads being sold for forestry. This is not the more marginal that potentially could be targeted through appropriate policy. . . 

Farmers Dave Read and Judy Bogaard have started a petition seeking action on this:

“We have spent the last year doing research on GHG policy. Our driver was to save sheep & beef farms from conversion to forestry. Locally we have seen a wave of farm sales to forestry. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the environment, Simon Upton, has modelled current policies and predicts 5.4 M ha of grassland will be planted by 2075. We are talking about almost half the total area of the north island here. There is only 5.3M ha of non-dairy, non-tussock grassland in NZ, so that is the end of sheep and beef farming in NZ. We are all familiar with the spiral of bad things that happen if our industry shrinks: Overcapacity in the freezing industry; rural depopulation and the loss of services; and increasing difficulty in attracting staff.

If the projected conversion from pastoral farming to forestry continues there will be a repeat of the ag-sag of the 1980s with far worse on-going consequences.

Back then, farmers adapted to the real world without subsidies, farming became stronger and jobs for those who service and support them at least partially recovered.

There will be no recovery from turning productive farmland into forests. Rural communities will die and the country will lose too much of the export income we need to maintain first world status.

The prime mover for afforestation is the anticipation of a rising price for carbon. This is a consequence of the political fear of tackling our driving habits.

As a consequence of our work we have come to the conclusion that the sheep and beef sector and rural communities will bear the brunt of meeting New Zealand’s Paris obligations.

To save our industry and community the following must happen:

    • Forestry must not receive incentives that allow it to outbid farmers for land purchases.
    • The demand for carbon credits must be reduced.
    • The Government must be offered a viable alternative to off-setting
    • The only alternative that we can see is regulation of the transport sector.

To have the courage to take this step, the government will need a demonstration of widespread support for it. For this reason we are asking you to support our petition (Take action to reduce global warming).

It is fortunate that our interests actually coincide with anyone who seriously wants to reduce global warming. The sheep and beef industry actually produces less warming today than it did in 1990. Mass afforestation is a risky and flawed strategy which only postpones the action on fossil fuel use that we need to take eventually.

Because we need a lot of signatures we have also written a covering letter for non-farmers. We can supply it if you wish to forward the petition to a wider audience. For anyone wanting to check up on our facts, we have supporting data and scientific references. We can send you these on request. (bogaardread@outlook.com).

Some land which ought to have been left in trees was cleared and should be replanted.

But turning productive farmland into forests will be an economic and social disaster which will more than outweigh any environmental benefit.

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Rural round-up

October 15, 2018

Big changes coming – Neal Wallace:

Farming will change fundamentally if new freshwater quality management rules restricting intensive winter grazing and fertiliser use are introduced.

The Government last week released Essential Freshwater: Healthy water, fairly allocated, a report on how to improve freshwater quality within five years.

While it lacked detail the Government singled out winter grazing, hill country cropping, feedlots and nutrient use as causes of degraded water quality that will be a focus. . .

No rural-urban divide found here – Neal Wallace:

Anna Jones never forgot her rural roots when a career in journalism took her to live in some of England’s largest cities. Having experienced life on both sides of the fence she realised she had to do something about the role of the media in the urban-rural disconnect. She told Neal Wallace there are faults on both sides.

ANNA Jones concedes alcohol was involved in a game she created called Farmer Jargon Bingo, played with friends one evening in the English city of Bristol.

A simple concept, it required her urban friends to provide their definition of commonly used farming terms which the farmer’s daughter, journalist and Nuffield scholar duly recorded. . .

 

Move around world never regretted – Sally Rae:

Harry might have met Sally but when Rory met Frank, it was to lead to a move to the other side of the world.

Irish-born Dr Rory O’Brien is research manager at DRL Ltd, based at Invermay’s Agricultural Research Centre. Originally known as Deer Research Laboratory, it was established by Prof Frank Griffin in 1985 within the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago.

It has worked closely with veterinarians and farmers for more than 30 years to develop and make available custom-diagnostic services. . . 

Moo beat music for process manager – Sally Rae:

Working in a shiny new $240 million nutritional formula plant is a far cry from a dream of being a musician.

But Nathan McRae, process manager at Mataura Valley Milk on the outskirts of Gore, has no regrets about eventually choosing a career in the dairy industry.

His interest was sparked in Europe during a year-long OE with his wife. He decided he wanted to take the opportunity the industry offered and pursued that interest when he returned to the South.

Gore-born-and-bred, Mr McRae has lived in the Eastern Southland town all his life, with the exception of his OE. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2018/19 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual for the 2018/19 dairy season.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s 2018/19 Manual remains largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The Commission has no concerns with Fonterra’s amendments to the Manual this year. However, the treatment of farmer support and the capacity of standard plants remain aspects of the manual that would benefit from revisions to improve consistency with the purpose of the regime and clarity, respectively. . . 

Hill country landscapes focus of five-year project:

Hill country landscapes are the subject of a comprehensive research project which focuses on growing diverse pastures to sustainably lift productivity and profitability, and benefit rural communities.

The five-year project, which is a collaboration between Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment, PGG Wrightson, Seed Force and the Federation for Maori Authorities, will be looking at legumes and forage options for hill country, matching land use with land use capability, developing pasture management guidelines and building strong rural communities.

B+LNZ ‘s Research Manager Tanya Robinson says field work, led by Professor Derrick Moot from Lincoln University, has already started with plot trials evaluating a number of legumes and forages. . .

A sheep that stole the A and P show:

An enterprising sheep stole some of the limelight at the Ellesmere A and P Show on Saturday, gatecrashing a ribbon ceremony and masquerading as an alpaca after escaping from a pen at the shearing shed.

The cunning plan came unstuck when there weren’t enough ribbons to go around, leaving the opportunist ovine without so much as a stitch of silk to wear, with barely anywhere to hide and looking decidedly sheepish as it stood beside the beribboned alpaca section winners with their owners in the main oval. . . 

Low emission cows: farming responds to climate warning – Jonathan Watts:

From low-emission cows to robotic soil management, the farming industry will have to explore new approaches in the wake of a UN warning that the world needs to cut meat consumption or face worsening climate chaos.

That was the message from Guy Smith, vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), this week as policymakers began to discuss how Britain can address the challenges posed by the recent global warming report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Farming and land use are set to move to a more central position in the climate debate in the wake of that report, which urged countries to widen their emissions-cutting efforts beyond the energy industry to agriculture and transport. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 4, 2014

Red Meat Profit Partnership tries to answer crucial question – Allan Barber:

Analysis of the objectives and methodology of the RMPP suggests the programme has highlighted the most important issue facing the red meat sector. Briefly stated, it is to work out why there is still such a significant gap between the top farmers and those in the middle of the pack and to lift the average closer to the top performers.

When the Red Meat Sector Strategy identified behind the farm gate specifically as a major area of potential improvement, there was much mumbling about why the industry structure wasn’t being more usefully exposed as the area most in need of improvement. But figures released by the B+LNZ Economic Service show this isn’t the case. . .

 Out of cow muck comes magic – Emma Rawson:

Although it has grizzly beginnings in the blood and gore of the meatworks, there is a fairytale element to the story of biomaterials company Southern Lights.

A little like the Brothers Grimm’s goblin Rumpelstiltskin, who spun straw into gold, the Napier company transforms cow byproducts which would otherwise be destined for pet food and fertiliser into extremely lucrative Type 1 polymeric collagen.

At about $50,000 a kilogram it is no exaggeration to say the polymeric collagen is worth its weight in gold – only a few thousand shy of the price of bullion. . .

Award for science professor:

Lincoln University plant science professor Derrick Moot has won an award recognising the successful application of research or experience to an aspect of animal production.

Prof Moot was presented with the New Zealand Society of Animal Production’s Sir Arthur Ward Award at the society’s 74th annual conference on Tuesday night.

Prof Moot has been identifying plant pasture species which will survive and thrive on the dry East Coast, and developing ways to incorporate them into mostly sheep and beef farming systems – but also some dairying ones.

Lucerne ticked most of the boxes as it was a legume which fixed nitrogen from the atmosphere, was high in protein and energy and also had a deeper rooting system than other pastures, he said. . .

Filthy pigs? Not on our patch … – Sue O’Dowd:

The proud co-owner of a Taranaki piggery is so confident about its cleanliness that he sometimes walks around in it in his socks.

Ron Stanley, of Oaonui, is frustrated at this week’s television portrayal of a Canterbury piggery. Filmed earlier this year, the footage showed squalid conditions, severe overcrowding, and suffering animals.

The Stanley Piggery co-owner found the footage disturbing.

“That’s not the way we keep our animals,” he said. “I always say if I can’t come over to the piggery in my socks on a dry day, then there’s a problem. . .

Farm buildings to be exempt from assessment:

Farm buildings are to be exempt from the requirements for assessments under the Government’s earthquake-prone buildings policy, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“The Government is not satisfied that the risks posed by farm buildings justify the cost of every building being assessed. These buildings have a low occupancy rate and there is no record of a fatality caused by a farm building collapsing in an earthquake,” Dr Smith says.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill requires all buildings to be assessed in the next five years and for those under 34 per cent of the building standard to be upgraded within a period of 15 years, with a further 10-year extension available for heritage buildings. The Bill currently excludes residential buildings except those that are multi-storey and contain more than two homes. . .

Farmers welcome windfall from wind farms – Gerard Hutching:

Wind turbines west of Wellington are not only changing the landscape, they are also transforming landowners’ bank balances.

“They’re music to my ears, actually,” says Ohariu Valley sheep and beef farmer Gavin Bruce, who has a 440-hectare property with eight turbines.

All told there are 88 turbines on two Meridian Energy wind farms: 62 on the West Wind farm, situated on both Meridian’s own property as well as on Terawhiti Station, south of Makara; and 26 on the Mill Creek wind farm on four properties in the Ohariu Valley. . .

Driving safety home to farmers:

Rural retailers are backing government’s safety message to farmers.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), in partnership with Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand, is launching a campaign to increase awareness about the importance of wearing the right safety gear when using farm chemicals.

The campaign directly addresses the “she’ll be right” attitude toward using safety gear.

Agcarm distributor members across New Zealand will display posters and distribute flyers with practical tips about safety gear. . .

US Company churns out cloned cows

In the meadow, four white-haired Shorthorn heifers peel off from the others, raising their heads at the same time in the same direction. Unsettling, when you know they are clones.

From their ears dangle yellow tags marked with the same number: 434P. Only the numbers that follow are different: 2, 3, 4 and 6.

The tag also bears the name of the company that bred them and is holding them temporarily in a field at its headquarters in Sioux Centre, Iowa: Trans Ova Genetics, the only large US company selling cloned cows.

A few miles away, four Trans Ova scientists in white lab jackets bend over high-tech microscopes in the company’s laboratories. They are meticulously working with the minute elements of life to create, in Petri dishes, genetically identical copies of existing animals. . . .

You Won’t Believe What This Guy Did With Old Farm Scrap Metal. Seriously, WOW:

Farmers of South Dakota, if you see John Lopez going through your garbage, please let him continue to do so. In his hands, what was unfixable or unwanted to you becomes art. Not just any art, though. Big, striking sculptures that celebrate the American Old West. The kind of stuff you’d probably like! At the very least, you’ll be impressed by his work. Who wouldn’t be? . . .


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