Vandalism, activism or personal?

January 16, 2017

Is this vandalism environmental activism or someone with a personal grudge?

“Committed” offenders  would have been drenched as they slashed the tyres on three pivot irrigators, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage,  police said.

Senior Constable Craig Bennett, of Kurow,  believes the attack on the irrigators  occurred early on Saturday near State Highway 8 and Broken Hut Rd, just outside Omarama. Snr Const Bennett said it was too early to say if the vandalism was caused by an individual or several people, but the irrigators were not easily spotted from the road and fences would have been navigated by someone with  intent.

Forty-four tyres, valued at up to $800 each, were slashed, he said.

Omarama farmer and pivot irrigator owner Richard Subtil was upset  about the damage and urged people to come forward with information about the attack.

He believed the vandal or vandals  either had a problem with him or an issue with irrigation and decided to attack his equipment.

“I really hope it’s the latter. I’m trying to understand what motivated someone to do it. If it’s a personal vendetta I’m unsure what it’s about.

The Subtils won the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a BFEA ceremony on March 26, the Subtils also collected the Massey University Innovation Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award.

They are innovative farmers who have been recognised for their careful management of their farm and the environment. Entrants in the BEFA are also judged on their contribution to their community.

That doesn’t rule out a personal vendetta but this couple is very highly regarded which makes it less likely.

The damage could be an act of vandalism.  But irrigation in this area has attracted vehement opposition so it could be the work of one or more environmental activists who object to the greening of what was an arid landscape.

 


Rural round-up

November 20, 2015

Aquaculture and red meat producers share South Island’s top agricultural prize:

For the first time ever, the prestigious Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition has been awarded to two entrants, with a North Otago red meat producer and a Marlborough green-lipped mussel grower sharing the top prize.

Announcing the unexpected result at the finals this evening at Lincoln University, the competition’s chief judge Nicky Hyslop told the audience that the judges were unable to separate the two top performers, Richard and Annabelle Subtil of Omarama Station, and Marlborough’s Clearwater Mussels (John Young Managing Director).

Clearwater Mussels is a greenshell mussel producer with 90 mussel farms ranging from 2.5 to 80 hectares supplying a variety of food and pharmaceutical markets.

Primarily a sheep and beef property with some smaller scale hydro and tourism operations, Omarama Station also has scientific reserves and Department of Conservation and QEII Trust covenants on the property. . . 

Fonterra exits Dairy Farmers of America joint venture, retains supply deal – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, plans to sell its stake in the DairiConcepts ingredients joint venture with Dairy Farmers of America for some $196 million, after deciding it didn’t fit the company’s strategy.

The Auckland-based cooperative will sell its 50 percent stake in DairiConcepts to partner DFA on Dec. 31, ending a 15-year venture where Fonterra contributed key ingredients to the US dairy and cheese flavours business, while the American cooperative supplied a number of cheese and cheese-powder assets, it said in a statement. Fonterra signed a long-term supply agreement as part of the sale. . . .

Regions benefiting from rural broadband:

Connectivity is growing rapidly in the regions with more New Zealanders than ever before now able to access faster rural broadband, Communications Minister Amy Adams says.

The latest quarterly report for phase one of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) build as at 30 September 2015 shows 271,000 rural addresses can connect to the network.

“With 35.6 per cent uptake across the network, RBI is making sure that New Zealanders living in our rural and remote areas can enjoy the benefits of faster, better internet,” Ms Adams says.

“The RBI is making a genuine difference to farmers, schools, hospitals and health centres in rural areas as well as families and households.” . .  .

Pacific urged to invest more in Agriculture:

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community is encouraging governments in the region to put more emphasis on developing their agricultural sectors.

The team leader of SPC’s Pacific agriculture policy project Vili Caniogo says more than 80 percent of the region’s people live in rural areas but this is not reflected in government policies. . . 

Wool lifts:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that a slightly easier New Zealand dollar and limited wool volumes combined with steadier enquiry, saw most categories well supported.

Of the 5,700 bales on offer, 92 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies compared to last sale weakened 0.94 percent, helping underpin local prices. . . 

Old school ties to historic home on the market for sale:

A historic home converted from a country school that comes complete with rugby posts and a swimming pool, and boasts an Olympian among its former students, has been placed on the market for sale.

The former site of Richmond Downs School is located in Walton, 15km from Matamata. For more than 80 years it served the community, with former students including Olympian hurdler Lynette Massey. Due to dwindling numbers, the school closed in 2004. . . 

Leading South Island cucumber growing operation for sale is pick of the bunch:

A successful Canterbury horticultural operation, which is the leading supplier of telegraph cucumbers in the South Island has been placed on the market for sale.

Located at 38 Madeleys Road in Clarkville, North Canterbury, the property combines an established telegraph cucumber business and four-bedroom dwelling on 4.05 hectares. It has been placed on the market for sale as a going concern with Bayleys Canterbury, via a deadline sale closing on November 26, unless sold prior. . . 


Rural round-up

November 17, 2015

Farm shows profit possible – Sally Rae:

”Do the maths. Invest in the future.”

That’s the simple message from Richard Subtil, who is unashamedly proud to be a sheep and beef farmer.

Mr Subtil and his wife Annabelle, who farm Omarama Station, were the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.

A field day was held recently at their 12,000ha Upper Waitaki property, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919.

The impressive operation includes merino sheep and beef cattle, an extensive irrigation development, a hydroelectricity plant and a homestay.

James Hoban, one of the judges for the awards, described it as a ”very hard business to fault”. On the economic side, the Subtils were industry-leading, profitable high country farmers. . .  

Refining essence of NZ forests – Sally Rae:

When Paul Greaves suffered a brain stem stroke back in 2012, it forced some major changes in his life.

Not only did he have to learn to walk again but, after more than four decades working in the forestry industry, he found he could no longer handle the high pressure of his job.

But a passion for the industry remained and, when he met Michael Sly, now a director of Wilding and Co, and Mathurin Molgat, and they talked about wanting to turn Douglas fir into essential oil, his interest was aroused. . . 

Fonterra farmers sheer earnings upgrade – Fiona Rotherham:

Dairy farmers say Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is finally starting to deliver better business returns which are meant to counter low farmgate payouts when global dairy prices are low.

The Auckland-based cooperative raised its forecast available payout range for this season by 5 cents as it cuts costs and boosts margins to record levels, even as milk volumes in New Zealand decline by 5 percent.

Fonterra has indicated the forecast dividend may be in the 35-to-40 cents per share range up from 25 cents last year, which disappointed many farmers who expected to gain more from the value- added side of the business when dairy input prices were down. The revision would mean a likely total payout to farmers of $4.95 to $5 per kilogram of milk solids after retentions, compared to $4.65 last season. . .

Businesses sweet and sour on food safety rules:

– Compliance with regulations rated top challenge and key opportunity, ANZ survey finds –

Food safety regulations are the biggest challenge but also a major source of competitive advantage for New Zealand’s food and beverage firms, according to research from ANZ.

The annual ANZ Privately Owned Business Barometer survey included 178 food and drinks firms and found an industry that was upbeat about the future, hungry for growth, showing the way in mobile technology and social media use, and collaborating to open export opportunities.

The survey also flagged a number of growth challenges, including securing shelf space for products and managing constraints on capacity, such as time, people, plant and funding. . . 

Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year wins Young Horticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Caleb Dennis, Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015. He represented the Viticultural sector in this tough and prestigious competition.

Young Horticulturist of the Year was held over 11th and 12th November, where Caleb competed against 5 other finalists from various horticultural sectors including Landscaping, Nursery & Garden, Amenity Horticulture and Vegetable, Fruit & Flower Growing.

The competition kicked off with the contestants submitting Business Plans for a new product they would like to develop and launch. Caleb’s plan to launch a wine cellaring app was very well received and will hopefully eventuate into reality in the not too distant future. This first day also included an interview and a budgeting exam. . .  . . 

Piece of NZ dairy history for sale:

CRV Ambreed’s move to a purpose-built production, distribution and logistics centre on the outskirts of Cambridge marked an exciting new era for the company, and now their old 13.7-hectare bull farm is for sale.

More than 3000 bulls have been housed at the farm on the outskirts of Hamilton since it was established in 1969. At the company’s peak production, more than 200 bulls were housed on-site at any one time.

In December 2014, CRV Ambreed opened its new export-approved CRV Bellevue Production and Logistics Centre, on the outskirts of Cambridge, just a few kilometres away from its old facility. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2015

Helicopter pilot Simon Spencer-Bower sets high farming and flying standards – Tim Cronshaw:

As a boy Simon Spencer-Bower would crane his neck to the sky to watch the crop dusters flying over his family farm at Eyrewell.

The deep impression their aerial feats made on the youngster was to set him on a lifetime of flying with a healthy mix of farming.

As soon as he left school he gained his fixed-wing pilot license in 1967, aged 18. . .

Anti-dairying rhetoric is out-dated :

Farmers don’t want weaker environmental policies. Ten years ago we were fair game for the ‘dirty dairying’ remarks by Fish & Game, today not so much.

Bryce Johnson recently said his organisation has moved on – that they are not anti-dairying, but rather they are anti-dairying that is harming the environment. But the question remains, why is the focus on dairying, as opposed to any other activity that harms the environment?

Environmental compliance and reducing farming’s impact is now an everyday part of a dairy farmer’s business.  We know there are a few ratbags out there – every industry has them – but while some regional councils try to clean up the tail-end of our industry they overlook their cousins in their own backyards. . .

Otago Regional Council blindsides ratepayers:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Otago Regional Council to properly inform and explain themselves to their ratepayer farmers who are facing huge increases in rates and consent costs this year.

“The Otago Regional Council needs to be held to account on their Long Term Plan consultation document, which is severely lacking in reasoning for their major increase in farmer rates,” Says Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president.

“The Council is proposing a heap of big changes such as new water quality targeted rates for water monitoring, a new dairy monitoring targeted rate, and significant increases in the consent fees they charge all of which will mean increased costs for farmers. For many this will run into the thousands of dollars.” . .

No bull in proper effluent management – Chris Lewis:

I never thought when I entered farming politics that there would be so much talk about the stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow.  The polite term is ‘effluent’ of course; not polite are its effects and the costs of managing it.

Waikato Federated Farmers has the task of holding our regional council to account when warranted, and effluent is a big bone of contention. But they have a job to do, as we do, so it’s sometimes important we celebrate them. Just as farmers often feel criticised by the media, I imagine councils do too, giving the public an ill-informed perspective. . .

  Top farm business an industry leader:

An Omarama couple who run a traditional high country combination of merino ewes and cattle with hydroelectricity generation for good measure have won the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Richard and Annabelle Subtil were the supreme winners announced at a ceremony on Thursday after amassing section awards for innovation, integrated management, soil management and water quality.

They run the 12,000 hectare Omarama Station, a family-owned property previously farmed by Annabelle’s parents Dick and Beth Wardell.

South of Omarama village, the Mackenzie Country property winters 23,000 stock units, including 7500 merino ewes and 310 angus-hereford cows. . .

Earth greening despite deforestation – Albert Van Dijk & Pep Canadell:

WHILE the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade.

Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and South East Asia, we found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Plants absorb around a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people release into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. With a greening globe, more plants may mean more absorption of carbon dioxide. If so, this will slow but not stop climate change. . .


Rural round-up

April 1, 2015

Big dump culmination of years of worry – David Bruce:

A frustrated North Otago farmer drove 120km on Monday to dump a load of excrement at the Otago Regional Council’s doorstep in Dunedin. David Bruce talks to him about why he did it.

Five Forks dairy farmer Robert Borst says he is at a loss about where to go from here.

He says he faces losing everything he has worked for in an industry he has wanted to be in since he was 15.

He left school and started at the bottom in dairying, shifted from Taranaki to the Waitaki Plains in 1992 then, from 1997, he and wife Sylvia started to build up what are now three dairy farms at Five Forks.

Changes in a water plan by the Otago Regional Council setting new limits on discharges from his farms has put everything in jeopardy, he believes. . .

Positive agriculture Omarama winner – Sally Rae:

Omarama farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil want to help highlight the positive side of agriculture.

Mr and Mrs Subtil were named the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.

The couple farm Omarama Station, a property of nearly 12,000ha, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919. . .

Farmer confidence grows – Dene Mackenzie and Sally Rae:

There is a sense of relief as two surveys show regional economic confidence rose in the three months ended March.

Farmer confidence has taken a ”significant jump” in the first quarterly Rabobank rural confidence for the year. The survey, completed earlier this month, was released the same day as Fonterra dropped its dividend estimate range by 5c to between 20c and 30c to the disappointment of farmers.

The Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey showed rural regions and smaller centres generally showing the biggest gains. Confidence in the main centres was mixed. . .

Can science fix the dairy debate – Kevin Ikin:

The debate continues on whether there should be a moratorium on further dairy farm development.

The Green Party and the Fish and Game organisation are keen on the concept, which they say should be given serious consideration while the impact of intensive farming on the environment is properly assessed.

The issue also came up at a water management forum in Geraldine, South Canterbury, last week.

One of the speakers, Morgan Foundation economist Geoff Simmons said if the Government was serious about water quality then it had to consider a moratorium on further dairy farm conversions.

“Actually, if you are maintaining or improving the water quality, how can you do that when you are still doing conversions? . .

Fonterra’s disappointing performance – Allan Barber:

Fonterra’s interim result announcement contains confirmation of the farmgate milk price forecast of $4.70, but a reduction in the added value dividend.

The steady milk payout forecast was anticipated, although Global Dairy Trade auction results have so far failed to achieve the US$3,500 per tonne average which is estimated to be the minimum needed to underpin the payout. The higher volume being released for auction GDT and likely milk production by competitors such as American and European farmers may actually increase the risk of underachieving the forecast end of year payout. . .

Fonterra says it’s holding its own in Canterbury as farmer suppliers look to new processors – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, New Zealand’s largest dairy processor, says it’s holding its own in the dairy-intensive Canterbury region, despite reports some of its 10,600 farmers shareholders are lining up to supply milk to its competitors in the wake of its weak interim results last week.

Farmers were disappointed with the half-year results, which included a 16 per cent drop in profit to $183 million and a trimming of the forecast dividend payout for the year by 5 cents to a range of between 20 cents and 30 cents. Faced with a low forecast payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season compared to a record $8.40 kg/MS last season, farmers had been expecting a fatter rather than skinnier dividend from its value-added activities. . .

Search on for 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year:

A nationwide search begins this week for young men and women who exemplify the leadership qualities that have earned New Zealand’s primary products the trust of consumers all over the world.

Starting this April, young horticultural leaders from every corner of New Zealand will compete in six sector competitions to qualify as a finalist in the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’.

2014 overall winner, Northland orchardist and horticultural business owner, Patrick Malley, believes that despite the ups and downs the primary sector has faced in recent times, New Zealand’s value as a leading producer of primary products comes from the high levels of trust this country’s products enjoy overseas. . .


Rural round-up

March 28, 2015

Mackenzie Country Station Wins Supreme in 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Omarama high-country farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil are the Supreme Winners of the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a BFEA ceremony on March 26, the Subtils also collected the Massey University Innovation Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award.

Richard and Annabelle run 12000ha Omarama Station – a family-owned property previously farmed by Annabelle’s parents Dick and Beth Wardell. . .

Guardians of the land a family tradition – Jill Galloway:

Broadlands Station has 250 hectares in trees, many of them in gullies or on banks, saving the land from slipping.

The farm goes from the banks of the Pohangina River to the foothills of the Ruahine Range in Manawatu. There are 1650 hectare in all, 1400 of them are effective – running sheep and beef.

Broadlands stood out at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because of its tree programme but also for other reasons. The other finalists for the supreme award were all dairy farms. . .

Is Gypsy Day too disruptive for rural people? :

Discussion is underway about less disruptive methods of moving farms as Gypsy Day looms.

On June 1 thousands of sharemilkers will pack their cows into stock trucks and move equipment and families to new farms. It is a familiar sight which sums up the traditional path of progression in New Zealand’s dairy industry.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader, people and business, Mark Paine said getting away from the traditional Gypsy Day was one of the issues explored at a workshop that focused on improving the reputation and experience of working in dairying. . .

 

 It can only get better – Annette Scott:

Nothing too flash or expansive for farmers came out of Fonterra’s half-yearly report, dairy farmer Chris Ford says.

Fonterra maintained the 2014-15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price at $4.70/kg milksolids (MS) but lowered its forecast dividend by 5c to 20-30c.

“What it means for most is that the tough just gets tougher,” the Mid Canterbury equity manager said. . .

 NZ milk powder futures drop as Fonterra lifts GDT volumes, signalling prices will fall – TIna Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand whole milk powder futures dropped after Fonterra Cooperative Group said it will increase the volume of product it puts up for sale on the GlobalDairyTrade platform, suggesting prices may extend their decline in next week’s auction.

Auckland-based Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has increased the amount of whole milk powder it will offer at the upcoming April 1 auction in Contract 2, which covers product with a June shipping date, by 14 percent to 4,965 metric tonnes. Whole milk powder futures for June delivery dropped US$230 a tonne to US$2,400 a tonne today. At last week’s GDT auction, whole milk powder fell 9.6 percent to US$2,928 a tonne. . .

Bittersweet response to bee code – Rebecca Sharpe:

THE honey bee industry is set to be modernised with the adoption of the industry’s first biosecurity code of practice.

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice is in the draft stage, which has received mixed feelings from beekeepers.

Glen Innes-based Craig Klingner, who is chairman of the industry working group developing the code, said the bee industry had to “step up”.

“All the (states’) Department of Primary Industries are slowly walking away from us so unless the industry steps up, we’re going to go without,” he said. . .

 

 


Funds flood in to school from new rural toll road

May 20, 2009

Tolls have spread to country roads.

The ODT reports that when heavy rain resulted in flooding which cut off the bridge approach over the Omarama Stream on State Highway 8 a farmer agreed to let traffic use a detour across a single lane bridge on his property.

But there was a catch – Richard Subtil of Omaramara Station is also treasurer of the local school board and he grabbed the opportunity this presented to raise funds by charging vehicles a $5 donation for using the 1 kilometre detour.

The road was closed for nearly five hours and Subtil raised $930 in that time.

Traffic backed up on both sides of the bridge, on the town’s southern boundary and Mr Subtil was approached about letting light traffic use Omarama Station’s track and bridge.

The farmer spotted the opportunity to boost the school’s funds and agreed.

“We are only a small country school and we want to offer a quality education.

We have to raise about $26,000 a year to provide that by paying teacher aides to assist [Government] funded staff. . .

“Most [drivers] were enthusiastic and happy to pay.”

Some people donated more than $5, with one businessman heading to a meeting in Queenstown so pleased he gave the school $100.

If  people are willing to pay $5 for a 1 km detour across a farm track and single lane bridge here, is the charge for the new multi-laned tar selaed toll road north of Auckland too low?

Or is it easier to get people to pay a specific recipient than cough up what’s regarded as a tax?


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