Rural round-up

July 25, 2019

Federated Farmers has questions over firearms register:

Misgivings about the practicality and cost of a firearms register is likely to dominate feedback from rural areas on the second round of proposed Arms Act amendments, Federated Farmers says.

The proposals feature a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing and Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson anticipates support for many aspects of the changes.

“When firearms are used irresponsibly or illegally in New Zealand, it is often farmers who suffer the consequences through the theft of livestock, poaching of wild animals or the risks of dangerous behaviour. Hopefully some of these proposed changes will help to prevent that,” Anderson said. . . 

The environment comes first – Andrew Stewart:

Running a big station with 3500 owners is a big challenge. But Parengarega Station’s new farm manager Kathryne Easton is adding to the task, with her vision of starting with the environment then working back to the farm with her best-use-of-land philosophy at the same time as coping with pest, pasture and weather issues. She told Andrew Stewart her 
environmental and biosecurity plans include not just the farm but the entire Far North.

It’s fair to say many Kiwis forget how far the country stretches north past Auckland. 

The reality is they can travel another six hours before reaching the tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga and the further north they go the more diverse and challenging the land becomes. 

Just half an hour south of the Cape lies Parengarenga Station, a diverse, nearly 6000-hectare operation that stretches between both coasts of the country.  . . 

Banks’ caution stymies farm sales – Alan Williams:

Farm sales are at their lowest in the last four to six years, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Turnover for the three months to the end of June was down 24.6% on the corresponding period a year earlier and down 15.3% on the three-month period to the end of May.

The latest June tally was 322, compared with 380 in the May period and 427 for June last year.

The non-dairy farming sector is holding value more strongly than the dairy sector, the institute’s rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Its All Farm Price Index showed a 2.4% rise from May to June and for the year the gain was 7.3%.  . . 

LIC annual result reflects performance, profitability turnaround :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) (LIC) announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2019.

Reporting a significant increase in profitability, as well as new records in strength of balance sheet, operating cash flow, and total revenue, the co-op will return $15.6 million in dividend to shareholders. This fully imputed dividend equates to 10.98 cents per share and represents a yield of 12.2% based on the current share price of 90 cents. This dividend is up from 1.71 cents last year and is the largest dividend the co-op has paid since 2013.

Board chair Murray King said the result was in line with expectations and reflects a turnaround in the co-operative’s performance and profitability. . . 

Feeding 10 Billion People Will Require Genetically Modified Food – Deena Shanker:

Like it or not, genetic modification is going to be an important tool to feed the planet’s growing population.

If we want to feed 10 billion people by 2050, in a world beset by rising temperatures and scarcer water supplies, we will need to dramatically change the way we produce food. Increased public investment in technologies like genetic engineering is a vital piece of that, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Resources Institute.

Not only must crops be more productive, but the agricultural challenges of climate change—including disease, pests and periods of both drought and flooding—mean they must be more resilient as well. . . 

Future drought fund passes final hurdle in senate – Mike Foley:

After delaying the vote and criticising the policy, federal Labor has provided the necessary support to pass the federal government’s Future Drought Fund through parliament.

The Bill to enact the the Coalition’s rural showpiece policy made its way through the Lower House last night, and today Labor has agreed to approve the legislation in the Senate.

With seed funding of $3.9 billion, the drought fund would grow to $5b by 2030. . . 

 


Push pause til cost benefit known

June 14, 2019

50 Shades of Green is urging the government to pause the carbon zero legislation until a cost benefit analysis is done:

As it stands experts believe it will cost a lot and achieve little.

Conservation group 50 shades of green is asking the government to immediately hit the pause button, check the policy settings and have a full cost benefit analysis.

50 shades of green spokesperson, Mike Butterick said that the legislation as it stood was a recipe for financial and environmental disaster.

“The legislation is estimated to cost the economy up to $12 billion a year or $8000 for every household,” Mike Butterick said. “Try finding another $160 a week to support political ideology when you’re on the minimum wage[1].

“The way the government is trying to mitigate its carbon emissions is nothing more than a band aid which will achieve nothing long term.

“It is incredibly short sighted by our current politicians. Their legacy for future generations will be tarnished.

“50 shades of green want to work to mitigate the effects of climate change but the Zero Carbon Bill won’t do it. It’s not just the opinion of the group but also that of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

“Time now for a pause and a move towards a lasting and long term solution,” Mike Butterick said.

Government incentives are distorting the market, incentivising sales for forestry over farming:

The median price of forestry farms across New Zealand has increased by 45% over the last year from $6,487 per hectare to $9,394 per hectare according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) source of the most complete and accurate real estate data in New Zealand.

This increase may be largely the result of the Government incentives to plant trees making forestry land more desirable and leading to increased sales of sheep and beef farms.
Interestingly, the North Island is seeing a greater impact on forestry prices than the South Island.

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “Over the last few months there has been a growing voice from the rural community that the Government’s incentives towards planting trees are favouring forestry sales and leading to increasing sales of beef and sheep farms. With the price of forestry farms across New Zealand increasing by 45% when compared to the same time last year, the data tends to suggest that the rural community is correct in its assertions. . .

They are also correct about the detrimental impact on rural communities:

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little is nervous.

In the last eight months 10,000ha, 7% of his district’s remaining pasture land, has been sold for forestry and he estimates it will cost 60 direct and indirect livestock farming jobs while creating 15.

Little’s primary concern is the impact on local communities and services but also on the district’s largest employer, Affco’s Wairoa meat works, which gets a third of its stock locally.

“More forestry planting threatens our sheep and beef industry, our local economy and the district’s largest employer.” . .

Little says the pace of land use change worries him and his community and is the unintended consequence of Government incentives for its Billion Trees programme.

The land use change cannot be considered a gradual redistribution of land use as claimed by Forestry New Zealand chief executive Julie Collins in the Farmers Weekly last week, he said.

“For us it is an alarming rate.

“If they keep going at that rate we’ll have no farmland left.”

A briefing paper Little prepared for a meeting this week with Government ministers says 2017 agricultural census figures show 1000ha of forestry directly and indirectly employs 1.5 people. For the same area of sheep and beef farming the figure is 7.6 people.

While supporting the Billion Trees programme Little says the scale and scope of forestry planting poses a catastrophic risk to rural communities like Wairoa. . .

There is a place for forestry but it’s not on productive farmland which threatens food production, export income and the jobs and social fabric for which they provide a foundation.

Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis fears the cumulative impact of fewer children at schools, the loss of volunteers and the impact on local retailers as people leave the area when trees replace livestock.

Collis respects the right of landowners to sell to whoever they wish but the speed of change has surprised her.

In the 2017-18 year four Tararua farms were sold to forestry but in 2018-19 it was 12.

“It’s a large increase very, very quickly.”

Forest companies are buying land with easy access and better quality soils, which is not consistent with the Government mantra of right tree, right place, right time. . .

It’s also not consistent with the Paris Accord which states that climate change mitigation measures should not come at the expense of food production.

If you care about this issue please sign 50 Shades of Green’s petition asking that legislation which incentivises the blanket afforestation of farmland be rejected.

 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2019

Intensive forestry creates ‘too many environmental risks’ – lawyer – Kate Gudsell:

The rules governing forestry are too light and need to be reviewed, environmental groups say.

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry came into force in May last year but are about to be reviewed by the government.

The Environmental Defence Society and Forest and Bird decided to conduct joint analysis because of increasing public concern about the impacts of commercial forestry in light of events like Tologa Bay last year.

An estimated one million tonnes of logs and debris was left strewn on properties and roads on the East Coast during two bouts of heavy rainfall in June last year.

Farmers put the cost of the damage in the millions of dollars. . . 

Overseas Investment Office approves Craigmore $52m apple orchard investment – Gerard Hutching:

Foreign investors headed by New Zealand management have been given the green light by the Overseas Investment Office to buy two horticultural properties after being rebuffed last year over a bid to buy a kiwifruit and avocado orchard.

Craigmore Sustainables has received permission to buy 479 hectares of sensitive land inland of Waipukurau in Hawke’s Bay and 59 ha near Gisborne. They will invest $52 million to develop apple orchards on the properties. . . 

Mustering tradition continues – Sally Rae:

The likes of helicopters and, latterly, even drones, have replaced horses for mustering on many properties in New Zealand’s back country. But in remote South Westland, traditions remain alive and well, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports. 

Mustering in the remote and beautiful Cascade Valley in South Westland can come with its challenges.

But for Haast-based farmers Maurice and Kathleen Nolan, those challenges were amplified as they prepared for today’s Haast calf sale.

The sale is a major calendar event for the Nolans, a name synonymous with South Westland since the family arrived at Jackson Bay, south of Haast, in 1876. . . 

DairyNZ Schools website launched:

DairyNZ has launched a new website for teachers, giving them free, curriculum-based learning resources to help children learn about dairy farming.

The new website, called DairyNZ Schools, is part of DairyNZ’s in-school education programme. The programme is designed to ensure New Zealand school children get the opportunity to learn about dairying.

Learning resources

The website has learning resources for teachers of children from Year 2 to Year 11. The resources are free to download and teachers can filter resources by year level or subject area. . .

Course closures make farming a tough industry to crack – Esther Taunton:

Young people looking for farm jobs are being hampered by dwindling training options but farmers can help fill the void, Federated Farmers says.

Taranaki teenager Braydon Langton said on Friday he had been turned down by dozens of potential farm employers because of inexperience.

He said it was frustrating to hear farmers repeatedly complaining about a worker shortage but being unwilling to invest time in eager young people.

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ spokesman for tertiary and workplace skills and training, said he sympathised with Langton and other young people in his situation. . . 

Sales of Southland dairy farms down on past years

While there is still a good selection of dairy farms available in Southland, there have only been a limited number of sales in the province compared to previous years, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

Despite this, the REINZ said in its March monthly sales data release that two sales in Southland of larger dairy units were significant in terms of total price involved and there was a good level of activity on finishing properties

In Otago, there was restrained activity in the drystock sector where prices eased 10% to 15%, with reports of capital constraints from banks making finance difficult to obtain and therefore harder to get transactions together. . . 


CGT would hit middle hardest

February 22, 2019

It there’s such a thing as a fair tax, it’s not one based on misplaced envy as the Tax Working Group’s capital gains tax appears to be.

No photo description available.
Fairness is desirable but not at any cost and  it’s best achieved by helping the poor up not pulling the better-off down, especially when those who will be hit hardest are those with modest investments, not the really wealthy, and worse still, they’d be hit by one of the most penal CGTs in the world:

The Tax Working Group’s report released today proposes a broad-based top rate of 33% capital gains tax (CGT).

The New Zealand Initiative argues in a new policy note, The Pitfalls of CGT, that headline rate would immediately push New Zealand to the top of the international CGT rankings among industrialised economies, just behind Denmark and Finland.

“The proposal is conspicuous by a lack of exemptions and concessions around business investment, so a full rate would arguably qualify New Zealand’s CGT regime as one of the harshest in the world,” said Dr Patrick Carvalho, Research Fellow and author of the note.

“Worse, given New Zealand’s recognisably low-income tax thresholds by international standards, a new CGT would disproportionately hit middle-income earners already struggling to invest for retirement.”

“New Zealand should be cautious about siren calls for a top-ranking CGT. Trying to punch above our weight can sometimes place us in the wrong fight category,” concludes Dr Carvalho.

A good tax would foster investment that would help businesses grow, produce more and employ more.

A good tax would encourage and reward thrift and delayed gratification.

A good tax would improve productivity and promote growth.

The CTG as proposed would do the opposite.

New Zealand needs foreign investment because we don’t have enough of our own capital. The CGT would aggravate that by making investing overseas more attractive than investing domestically:

The Tax Working Group (TWG) proposals released this morning would skew New Zealand investors away from local assets, distort the KiwiSaver market and mangle the portfolio investment entity (PIE) regime if introduced, according to the founder of the country’s largest direct-to-consumer managed fund platform.

Anthony Edmonds, InvestNow founder, said while the TWG final report includes some welcome reforms, overall the capital gains tax (CGT) recommendations would add cost, complexity and confusion to New Zealand’s relatively efficient managed funds market.

“For example, the TWG’s plan to increase tax on New Zealand shares by applying CGT while leaving the fair dividend rate (FDR) tax for offshore shares unchanged would naturally drag capital offshore at the expense of local assets – at a time when New Zealand needs to fund major infrastructure projects,” Edmonds said. “In trying to discourage people from investing in residential property, the TWG has created a tax disincentive for Kiwi shares, which can only distort investment allocation decisions.”

Essentially, the TWG recommendation to tax unrealised capital gains on PIE funds marks a return to the ‘bad old days’ when Kiwis paid more tax on managed funds than direct share investments. . .

Concern over the housing shortage is one of the motivating factors for a CGT but It won’t improve home affordability in the long term:

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “In the short-term there may be some initial relief in house price affordability as investors look to sell their property to avoid paying CGT. This may create opportunities for first home buyers.

“However, in the long term it’s likely to push house prices up as people look to invest more money in the family home, as there will be less incentive to invest in rental properties or other forms of investment e.g. equities.

“This will also have a flow on effect for the rental market with fewer rental properties available for tenants, thereby further pushing up weekly rental prices when they are already at an all-time high.

“The report even recognises that any impact on housing affordability could be small, therefore, we question whether all of the administrative burden and cost to implement GCT is worth it? Especially as CGT coming at the end of a raft of legislative changes the housing market has faced recently including the foreign buyer ban, ban on letting fees, insulation, healthy homes and ring fencing. . .

A tax that results in fewer and more costly rentals and more expensive homes is not a good one.

Nor is a tax that is fatally flawed:

Today’s Tax Working Group report recommendation for a new capital gains tax will not address residential housing affordability but it will penalise business owners and create costly complexity in our tax system, meaning it is fatally flawed, according to Business Central.

“New Zealand’s tax system is envied worldwide. The proposed capital gains tax increases compliance costs without boosting productivity,” says Business Central Chief Executive John Milford.

“Business Central agrees with the conclusions of the minority view on the Tax Working Group.

“A capital gains tax is just another cost on business, nothing more. . .

It would hit small and medium businesses hardest:

Key areas of the Tax Working Group Final Report released today were disappointing, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson. . . 

Ms Watson says the proposed capital gains rules should not be implemented because of the significant impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“We support the Government’s review to ensure that our tax system is fit for purpose for a changing business environment. However, there is very real concern that taxing both shares and business assets under a comprehensive capital gains tax regime would create double taxation.

“This could disadvantage New Zealanders owning shares in New Zealand and create inconsistencies around overall taxation on investment.”

Ms Watson says a capital gains tax would be unlikely to achieve the desired outcome for business.

“There is concern around the effect for capital markets in a capital constrained economy with a long-term savings deficit. Adding further tax on the savings and investment of those New Zealanders in the middle-income bracket won’t drive the deepening and broadening of the capital base that we need for business investment, which is higher productivity and wages.

“While the impetus behind the changes are aspirational, there is little to indicate they would significantly reduce overinvestment in housing or increase ‘tax fairness’. In addition, there is concern that additional administration costs and investment distortions could outweigh any benefits and potentially discourage much-needed investment and innovation by locking businesses into current asset holdings.

“It is vitally important that we remain competitive as a country and are not continuing to add further compliance for business and in particular small business, who represent 97% of all businesses in our economy.”

Ms Watson says there needs to be a viable business case for any changes to the current tax system.

“There seems to be a real focus on ‘fairness’ in the system design, as opposed to revenue-building, so we need to be careful that any tax changes are for the right reasons and are backed by a clear, practical and sustainable business case. We currently have a fairly simple and efficient tax system that should be kept and better enforced, with changes to specific rules where needed.” . . 

The costs of a good tax would not outweigh the benefits:

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) says the key issue in the Tax Working Group’s proposal released today is that the cost of its capital gains tax rules will outweigh any benefits.

Chief executive Brett O’Riley says any gains from such a broad-based capital gains tax would be eaten up by administration and other costs, leaving little revenue.

“Fundamentally the proposed capital gains rules don’t address the Tax Working Group’s objectives of reducing over-investment in housing and increasing tax fairness,” he says.

Mr O’Riley is also concerned that capital gains tax on business assets could discourage investment and innovation, locking businesses into their current asset holdings. He says there are other policy settings that could be changed to increase investment in different asset classes, away from property.

“I also fail to see how taxing growth on the value of assets from the proposed commencement date of 1 April 2021 would work, because it would be open to conflicting valuations,” he says. “It could also act as a further disincentive to growth when New Zealand already has issues with business not growing from SME’s into larger scale operations and a CGT may also limit the availability of capital to reinvest in businesses as smaller businesses face an additional tax bill.

“It’s difficult to see any benefits for the business community from implementing the proposed capital gains tax rules, as taxing both shares and business assets appears to be double taxation,” says Mr O’Riley.

It is relevant to note that a number of the Tax Working Group do not favour its recommendations on capital gains tax. The minority view summary is available here

One reason for dissension was compliance costs:

Former IRD Deputy Commissioner Robin Oliver was one of the 11 in the Tax Working Group.

Along with two others from the group, he believes the costs and bureaucratic red tape involved in adopting all the capital gains options outweigh the benefits.  

“We didn’t agree that this was in the best interest of the country to go the full extent, particularly in the business area, taxing share gains which result in double taxation,” he said.

“To get a valuation for all business assets in all parts business and all business will easily cost over a billion dollars in compliance costs. The amount of revenue you’ll get is relatively minor.”

As for taxing shares, Mr Oliver said it would result in New Zealanders who invest in New Zealand companies paying more tax when foreigners investing in New Zealand companies will pay no more tax. Furthermore, New Zealanders investing in foreign companies will pay no more tax.

“The obvious conclusion is New Zealanders will own less New Zealand companies and more foreign companies, and foreigners will own our companies,” he said. . . 

The proposed tax is no panacea for fairness:

Deloitte tax partner Patrick McCalman warns that a CGT is not a panacea for tax fairness.

“At one level, there is an attractiveness in the argument that a ‘buck is a buck’ and everyone should bear the same tax burden on every dollar earned. However, when one delves into the detail of the design, other issues of fairness emerge,” says Mr McCalman.

“For example, is it fair that property could pass on death without an immediate CGT cost, while gifts made during one’s life would be taxed? For family businesses, wouldn’t it be more productive to be able to pass assets from generation to generation before death,” he says.

“Accordingly, we need to be cautious as to how much ‘fairness’ a CGT will introduce. It may simply change where the ‘unfairness’ is perceived to sit within the tax system, creating new tax exemptions that would distort where investments are made.”

Complicating matters further is the political dimension. And MMP only exacerbates the political difficulty and increases the likelihood of whatever ultimately sees the light of day being less coherent from a policy perspective. . . 

The Deloitte paper raises several questions about fairness:

At one level there is an attractiveness in the argument that a “buck is a buck” and everyone should therefore bear the same tax burden on every dollar earned. However, when one delves into the detail, other issues of fairness emerge including new tax exemptions which would distort where investments are made – in effect, in seeking to create fairness, the proposal creates a number of layers of unfairness. For example:

    • With a CGT applying at full rates with no inflation indexation, is it fair that someone who buys an asset is taxed on the full amount of any gain when part of that gain is simply inflation? How will they be able to re-invest in a new asset if the inflation element is taxed?
    • Is it fair that the family home and artwork are excluded but most other property is not? Consider a plumber who has a $500,000 house and a $500,000 commercial building who would be taxed on the disposal of the commercial building. Should they have instead bought a $1,000,000 house, rented a business premise and enjoyed a tax free capital gain?
    • Is it fair that that investors in New Zealand shares would pay tax on capital gains but investors in foreign shares would continue to be subject (as they are presently) to the 5% FDR rate (even if gains are less or more)?
    • Is it fair that small business (turnover less than $5 million) could sell assets and defer the CGT bill if they reinvest the proceeds, while medium and larger size business cannot?
    • Is it fair that property could pass on death without an immediate CGT cost but gifts made to children during one’s life would be taxed?
    • Is it fair that there are proposed tax reductions for KiwiSaver to compensate for CGT but not for other forms of investment?

At one level, true fairness can only exist if all asset classes and forms of remuneration are subject to the same tax rate. But even then, anomalies will always arise. . . 

The proposed tax would be especially bad for farming and farmers:

Federated Farmers has said from the outset that a capital gains tax is a mangy dog, that will add unacceptably high costs and complexity.

“There is nothing in the Tax Working Group’s final report, released today, that persuades us otherwise,” Feds Vice-President and Commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“A CGT would make our well-regarded tax system more complex, it will impose hefty costs, both in compliance for taxpayers and in administration for Inland Revenue, and it will do little or nothing to ease the housing crisis.”

It is notable that even the members of the working group could not agree on the best way forward, with three deciding a tax on capital gains should only apply to the sale of residential rental properties and the other eight recommending it should be broadened to also include land and buildings, assets, intangible property and shares.

“Federated Farmers believes that the majority on the tax working group have badly under-estimated the complexity and compliance costs of what they’re proposing, and over-estimated the returns.”

The recommended ‘valuation day’ approach to establishing the value of assets, even with a five-year window, will be a feeding frenzy for valuers and tax advisors, “and just the start of the compliance headaches for farmers and other operators of small businesses that are the driving force of the New Zealand society and economy. . .

Farm succession is difficult enough as it is.

A CTG would make it harder still and encourage older farmers to hold on to their farms. That would lead to more absentee ownership and leasing with less investment in improvements as happens in other countries.

New Zealand doesn’t have a lot of many wealthy people and while those relatively few would pay more with the CGT as proposed, if their accountants and lawyers didn’t help them find ways to minimise their liability, they’d still be wealthy.

The many small business owners and more modest investors would not. They’d have the reward for their hard work and thrift cut back and lose enough of the value of their investments to hurt – unless they’d invested in art, cars or yachts which would be exempt.

That sends the message that such luxuries are good while investing in businesses and productive assets is not.

Where’s the fairness in that?


Rural round-up

November 27, 2018

Only two left for new Fonterra vote – Hugh Stringleman:

John Nicholls of Canterbury and Jamie Tuuta of Taranaki and Wellington will contest the rerun of the Fonterra director election to fill the one remaining vacancy.

One-term director Ashley Waugh has decided not to run again though he came within a whisker of being re-elected in the first round of voting.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman Duncan Coull sent an email to all farmer-shareholders explaining the rerun process and the council’s reasons for not opening it up to new candidates.

The rerun was necessary because only two of five candidates for three seats received the required 50% approval of farmers, Peter McBride at 80% and Leonie Guiney at 63%.

Waugh got 49%, Nicholls 44% and Tuuta 40%. . . 

Dairy-farm price per hectare plunges – Sally Rae:

Farm sales across the country for the year to October were down more than 10%, while dairy farm  per-hectare prices have pulled back almost 30% during the past year.

In Otago and Southland, there was strong activity in finishing, grazing and arable properties, but dairy farm purchases in both provinces were affected, with restricted supply of capital.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said for the three months to October there were 263 sales, just two more than a year ago.

Across the country for the year to October 1475 farms were sold, a 10.5% decline on the same period last year. Dairy farm sales were down 7.7%, grazing farms fell 5.6%, finishing was down 13.2% and there were 22.5% fewer arable farms. . . 

Genetic changes will allow merino sheep come down from the mountains – Heather Chalmers:

Synonymous with the South Island high country, merino sheep may be farmed more widely as farmers are lured by high fine wool prices and genetic improvements. 

Merino woolgrower Bill Sutherland, of Benmore Station near Omarama, said it was boom times for the New Zealand merino industry. 

“In a time when strong wool prices are at a historical low, the prices for merino wool have rarely been better,” he told the New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Twizel.  . . 

New boss hears farmers:

Farmers delivered a stern message to new director-general of primary industries Ray Smith at a meeting in Ashburton on Wednesday – they want to be top of his list.

He attended the meeting, facilitated by Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in response to desperate calls for help from local farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovi, off his own bat.

Farming leaders from across the country including national dairy chairman Chris Lewis and meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson also attended the closed session.

“This meeting was organised so these national leaders could hear from affected farmers and get their stories straight from the horse’s mouth,” Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Chris Ford said. . . 

Interest in competition suggests promising future for agriculture – Sally Rae:

McKenzie Smith grasps every opportunity to learn new skills.

Mckenzie (17), a year 13 pupil at Southland Girls’ High School, is chairwoman of the school’s TeenAg club.

TeenAg — which comes under the umbrella of New Zealand Young Farmers — is aimed  at introducing and promoting a positive picture of agriculture and agricultural careers to pupils from an early age. The club has organised an AgriKidsNZ competition at Southland Girls’ High School on Thursday, for years 7-8 pupils, and team numbers have more than doubled from last year. . . 

Jersey cows eat differently – Abby Bauer:

Each dairy cattle breed has its perks and its quirks, and Jerseys are no exception. On our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm, we certainly notice differences in personality and behavior between our Jerseys and Guernseys.

These breed differences are what led the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All Jersey Inc. to partner with university and industry experts to create a webinar series focused on the Jersey breed. One of their webinar topics was feeding the lactating cow, and the presenters were Bill Weiss and Maurice Eastridge from The Ohio State University.

The pair of professors pointed out that much of the research in the field of nutrition has been done on Holsteins. While many of these recommendations can fit other breeds, there are a few ways that Jerseys are unique. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2018

Consistent performer helps others – Hugh Stringleman:

The Cookson family are at the true heart of Northland’s beef finishing industry beside State Highway 1 at Kawakawa and consistently producing carcaseweight yield and financial results well above the provincial average. Their pursuit of knowledge from hosting trials and research projects energises the Cooksons and draws hundreds of farmers to their field days. Hugh Stringleman went along.

Former New Zealand Spearfishing champion and international representative Geff Cookson has an impressive record in the water and on the land.

He has hit target after target and inspired many fishers and farmers over a lifetime of sports activities and on the Kawakawa hill country home farm he took over from his father in 1970.. .

Farm sales quiet but resilient – Alan Williams:

The rural real estate market remained resilient through the quiet June trading period, especially for drystock farms even though prices were lower overall.

Despite a positive pricing outlook for most sectors, the Mycoplasma bovis virus is a worry in dairy and beef farming zones and early spring is likely to be a test for the Government and industry animal eradication programme, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said. 

Sales turnover was lower for the three months to the end of June compared to the three months to the end of May, with 32 fewer sales. . .

1080 drop to kill rabbits – Tom Kitchin:

A Manuherikia Valley farmer is making a last-ditch effort to rid his land of rabbits by dropping 1080 for the first time in three decades.

Ophir farmer Sam Leask, who owns the Booth Rd farm, said it was the first time a 1080 drop had been done on  his land in about 30 years.

“The rabbits have just got away … I’ve never seen rabbits like this in my life. It’s just got out to the stage that there’s so many rabbits we have to go back to the old methods. We hate to have to drop 1080 but we have no other choice.”

He had used pindone pellets, and completed shooting day and night but wanted something more effective . .

Mutual aid helps us survive winter – Bryan Gibson:

A mate of mine posted a picture on Instagram last night of the first three calves born on her dairy farm. For her, and for countless other dairy farmers around New Zealand, it has begun.

Calving is an intense period for dairy farmers. There are long hours, late night outings, sleep deprivation and bad weather to contend with. Of course, most farming families also have children to attend to, households to run and cows to milk again.

There were new lambs in the fields on my drive to work this morning too, a reminder this time of year is equally as stressful for sheep and beef farmers who are nurturing this abundance of new life. . .

Grape harvest up; season warmest in decades – Tom Kitchin:

The weather for this year’s Central Otago wine vintage was the warmest since 1956 and tonnage was up, on trend with the rest of the country.

A statement from New Zealand Winegrowers said New Zealand benefited from ”a warm summer” and 419,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in the country’s vintage this year.

This was up 6% on the 2017 tonnage, but still lower than first anticipated, due to an early start to the season. . .

What are the challenges facing modern farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 21, 2018

Crop biotech 3.0: a farmer’s perspective – Craige Mackenzie:

Here in New Zealand, we did not participate in the GE Gene Revolution. Farmers like me see an advantage in making sure that we do not miss the next one. 

You’ve seen the statistics. Farmers around the world have planted and harvested billions of acres of genetically engineered crops. Not long ago, we used to talk about GMOs and conventional crops as if they belonged in different categories. Increasingly—and especially in North and South America—GMOs are the new conventional. They’ve become an ordinary part of agriculture. 

Some nations, of course have resisted the use of GMOs, starting with members of the European Union. New Zealand has taken its own wait-and-see approach, turning it into a sort of permanent delay. The science on GMOs safety to human health and our environment may be settled but my country has wanted to preserve its clean-green image in food production, in the belief that this gives us a competitive advantage as we market ourselves to the world.  . . 

Eradicating cattle disease M. bovis in New Zealand may be costly, even impossible, but we must try – Riachard Laven:

In May this year, the New Zealand government decided that it would attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial disease that affects cattle.

A phased eradication means that an additional 126,000 livestock will need to be culled, at an estimated cost of NZ$886 million.

Here’s what we know, what we don’t know and what’s at stake.

How do we know this is a new incursion?

M. bovis causes mastitis and arthritis in adult cattle and pneumonia in calves. It is found around the world, but New Zealand was one of the last disease-free countriesuntil the detection of infected cows on a dairy farm in July 2017.  . .

Career path judged correctly – Sally Rae:

Brooke Flett never intended a career in farming.

But now, settled on the family dairy farm at Scotts Gap in Southland, it was “working out all right”.

“Most of the time, I love it,” she laughed.

Miss Flett (26), who is chairwoman of Thornbury Young Farmers Club, was recently named Young Farmers national stock-judging champion.

She grew up on the farm and boarded at Southland Girls’ High School before studying at Victoria University for a bachelor of arts in education.

But it “never really clicked” and she did not pursue a career in that area. .

Farm sales and prices ease on year June but horticulture farms shine –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales fell 7 percent on the year in the three months to June and the median price per hectare was down 16.3 percent although horticulture farm prices continued to push higher, according to the Real Estate Institute.

Overall, 427 farms were sold in the three months ended June 30 from 459 farms in the same period a year earlier. Some 1,480 farms were sold in the year to June, down 17 percent on the year. . .

Software to keep containment’s out:

Fertiliser co-op Ballance will commercially launch a new farm environment planning tool, MitAgator, by spring.

Developed by Ballance and AgResearch, MitAgator measures the loss of four main farm contaminants — nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli.

New Zealand-wide trials are pointing to a launch by late September. . .

Deer velvet looking good in Asia

Long-term prospects for NZ velvet in the major Asian markets are looking positive says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia manager Rhys Griffiths.

“There has been an explosion in consumer demand for consumer-ready velvet-based products in Korea. Ten years ago this product category didn’t even exist,” he says.

“In the past six months, 23 new velvet-based healthy food products have been launched in Korea; the majority of them using NZ velvet. . .

Importers snap up cheap U.S. soybeans as China stops buying – Karl Plume:

China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans, threatened for weeks and enacted Friday, have driven down prices and triggered a wave of bargain shopping by importers in other countries stocking up on cheap U.S. supplies, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.

Chinese buyers have so far this year accounted for just 17 percent of all advanced purchases of the fall U.S. soybean harvest – down from an average of 60 percent over the past decade, the analysis found. They are instead loading up on Brazilian soybeans, which now sell at a premium of up to $1.50 a bushel as U.S. soybean futures have fallen 17 percent over six weeks to about $8.50, their lowest level in nearly a decade. . .

The rise of soil carbon cowboys – Peter Byck:

Ranching is a rare occupation. Rarer still are the ranchers pioneering new ways to graze cattle, transforming their ranches and farms into vibrant ecosystems, producing black ink for their bank accounts and giving their incredibly robust animals a great life (with the exception of one bad day).

These new grazing methods have many names — mob grazing, managed intensive grazing, holistic management. Our group of scientists and ranchers call it Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing.  . .


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