Rural round-up

25/06/2019

Farmers have a tough time ahead let’s stand with them – Tom O’Connor:

The message from environment campaigner Guy Salmon of the need to adapt farming operations to avoid an eventual environmental catastrophe is not new.

It has been repeated many times in many ways by a growing number of far sighted people for several decades. For most of that time many of these people have been pilloried and ridiculed by those with vested interests or others who refused or were unable to understand the consequences of accelerated climate change.       

When Salmon told a conference of the Waikato Small Milk and Supply Herds Group at Lake Karapiro recently, unlike previous generations of dairy farmers, many of those in attendance would have been well aware of what he was talking about and the situation they face but unsure how to prepare for it. . . 

Farm credits on table – Neal Wallace:

The Government is considering letting farmers use riparian planting and shelter belts to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify now, vegetation must meet area, height and canopy cover criteria which primary sector leaders claim favours plantation forestry and ignores the carbon sequestering function of most farmland.

Livestock and horticulture sector representatives have been lobbying the Government to broaden the definition, saying New Zealand needs every available tool to meet the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 . . .

OIO review brought forward a year – Neal Wallace:

The Government has brought forward by a year a review into the screening of foreign forestry investors in response to concerns from rural leaders that large-scale tree planting is destroying communities.

The review was to be started by October next year but Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has confirmed it has already started and will look at the impact of Government changes to the Overseas Investment Act to identify any areas of concern.

The changes streamlined the vetting by the Overseas Investment Office of foreign forestry companies to reflect the fact about 75% of forest companies operating in New Zealand are owned by offshore entities. . . 

Leading food industry figures point to a positive future for New Zealand red meat:

Listen to the episode of Let’s Talk Food NZ podcast feature discussion panel HERE. Download images of the event HERE.

Last night, an expert panel made up of scientists and food industry experts were tasked with tackling the challenging question; Does New Zealand-produced red meat have a role in a healthy and sustainable diet?

Hosted by the Northern Club in Auckland in front of a crowd of food writers, nutritionists, dietitians and other interested parties, the panel covered a range of topics addressing whether we can meet the nutritional needs of exponential population growth, whilst working within the sustainable limits of planetary health.

The discussion was facilitated by NZ Herald journalist and editor-at-large of the Healthy Food Guide, Niki Bezzant who was joined by Dr Denise Conroy, Senior Scientist at Plant & Food Research; Dr Mike Boland, Principle Scientist at the Riddet Institute; Dr Mark Craig, a Auckland-based GP advocating a whole food, plant-based diet; Jeremy Baker, Chief Insights Officer for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd; and Angela Clifford, CEO of Eat New Zealand. . . 

Ballance partners with Hiringa for Kapuni hydrogen project – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – Ballance Agri-Nutrients is to develop 16 MW of wind generation at its Kapuni site as part of a plan to produce renewable hydrogen there.

The fertiliser maker has partnered with Hiringa Energy to develop the $50 million project at its site in southern Taranaki.

Up to four large wind turbines would provide a 100 percent renewable power supply for the existing plant and to power a series of electrolysers to produce high-purity hydrogen, either for feedstock for the plant or to supply zero-emission trucking fuel. . .

 

Open letter to the non-agricultural community – John Gladigau:

Hi

We need to talk.

Firstly – apologies to you, because we are not always that good at doing this. We all too easily get defensive, up in arms and occasionally confrontational when we are challenged, accused or criticised. The thing is, we get a little sick of being called uneducated and ignorant when we have a lifetime of experience and many of us have qualifications which are similar to (or even exceed) our city cousins. It hurts us when people tells us we are cruel to animals, don’t care for the future of the planet and are blasé about food safety whereas for the majority of us the opposite is true. It frustrates us when people with little agricultural knowledge or experience lecture us on social media about the dangers of chemicals, our contribution to a changing climate, soil health, genetic modification and more when we have spent a lifetime working in, studying, experiencing and developing strategies to not only benefit our businesses, families and communities – but also those we produce for that we don’t even know. . . 

 


Farmers foster fish

06/06/2014

This makes a very pleasant change from the usual negative stories about dairying:

Dairy farmers are getting praise from unlikely quarters after the most salmon in 40 years have been seen spawning in a small stream in the middle of dairying country.

After identifying good salmon catches in the area during the angling season and higher spawning rates in lowland streams than normal, fishery officers did a spot check at the spring-fed Waikuku Stream, expecting to see little salmon activity.

In a small stretch of the stream which feeds into the Ashley River they found about 35 salmon and as many nests – redds – containing thousands of eggs.

Among other theories for the high salmon count, Fish & Game New Zealand think the main reason is the work of dairy farmers to fence, plant and protect the stream.

South Island spokesman Andrew Currie said it was pure chance they found so many salmon spawning in the stream and farmers deserve the credit.

“In a 200-metre stretch I walked there were at least 25 to 35 redds and that augurs well for the fishery because each one of these nests contains 3000 to 4000 eggs and we can see the day when the Ashley River returns to a good run. What was particularly pleasing by the find was that the stream was in the heart of a dairy farm.”

Currie said the “textbook” spawning site had free-running water, nice overhangs, little weed and an exposed shingle bed and was an example of top riparian planting by farmers.

“I think a lot more farms in Canterbury could have the same in their backyard if they had similar plantings and fencing.

“This is proof that dairy farming and Fish & Game can co-exist. . .

That is refreshingly positive and is appreciated by Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers is thrilled to hear Fish and Game acknowledge the massive positive effect farmers Good Management Practice (GMP) is having on our waterways.

“Headline news in the Christchurch Press today reports farmers riparian management has resulted in the sighting of the most salmon seen spawning in 40 years, an acknowledgement that is huge for the farming community,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Water & Environment Spokesperson.

“The 35 salmon, nests and thousands of eggs found in the Waikuku stream, was smack bang in the middle of dairy farming land. Feeding into the Ashley River, this bountiful Canterbury stream is testament to allowing reasonable timeframes for farmers to fence and riparian plant their waterways.

“It is encouraging to see the results of farming coexisting with its waterways and heartening to have it acknowledged by Fish and Game. This is not an isolated event with similar reports in Ashburton of large numbers of salmon spawning in Spring Creek, tributary to the Ashburton River.

“This article is timely as I sat down to listen, after speaking at the New Zealand Primary Industry Summit today. It was the perfect parallel to reflect on the big picture of our industry and the correlation that it has with the economy. We are looking for ways to move forward in a sustainable way, as the most successful exporters in the world, but we have to make it right at home first and this is proving to be challenging.

“Each regional council is interpreting the requirements for the National Policy Statement for Freshwater management differently and in some cases every catchment, which will lead to an implementation nightmare. Whilst every region is different there needs to be a cohesive approach here and a standardisation of what is required.

“What we are seeing in the Waikuku stream, Spring Creek, and numerous others throughout the country, could be tenfold with a consistent and organised approach from Central and Regional Government,” concluded Mr MacKenzie.

Farming and healthy waterways which foster fish aren’t mutually exclusive.

Sustainability balance economic, environmental and social concerns and is achievable with good management practice from landowners and councils.


Don’t have to be Green to be green

04/08/2008

He had been drinking and there was something about his eyes that suggested he had been popping outside to smoke something other than tobacco, but there was no doubting his conviction.

 

“If you’ve got any concern at all about the environment and the future of the planet you’d have to be Green,” he said.

 

I told him that was like me telling me he couldn’t be a Christian unless he was a Presbyterian. He didn’t get the analogy, nor did he believe it was possible to share his concern for the environment without supporting his politics. While he is not necessarily representative of the Greens his attitude helps to explain why his Party’s dealings with farmers do little to dampen fears of their policies and agenda.

 

There is an evangelical zeal to some of their pronouncements and beliefs which makes many who share their concern for the environment uncomfortable. This discomfort is increased because much of what they stand for and advocate is at the radical left end of the political spectrum, not just in environmental matters but in social and economic areas too.

 

However, it is possible to be not just concerned about, but committed to improving the quality of our air, soil and water; conserving scarce resources; and generally minimising our environmental footprints while also supporting free trade and an open economy.

 

The Green missionary in the bar couldn’t accept that conventional farmers can be environmentalists too, but when our land is our biggest asset it is in our best interests to look after it. And if they can’t credit us with doing this for its own sake there is also a strong financial motivation for implementing good environmental practices. Increasingly competitive markets and sophisticated consumers are demanding proof that the food they eat and fabric they wear come from clean, green farms.

 

With a higher value on quality there are financial gains from being green, but some struggle to realise the reverse is also true and that environmental improvements do not just come from, but require, better financial returns. Attaining and maintaining high standards of air, soil and water quality is not cheap. It takes a lot of money to conserve native bush; plant trees to provide shelter, reduce erosion, counter CO2 emissions; fence then establish riparian strips along water ways and do all the other things necessary for environmental protection and enhancement.

 

It may be a cliché, but it is still true: good farmers are not land owners; we are stewards with a very real responsibility to ensure we look after it for future generations. And when we are faced with evidence, day by day, year by year, that literally and figuratively we reap what we sow; it is easy to understand why we must be green. Although contrary to the belief of the bloke in the bar, that doesn’t mean we also have to be Green.

 


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