Rural round-up

March 9, 2017

The big deluge: Fresh weather warnings as slips affect Coromandel homes, close roads, power off:

Fresh dire weather warnings have been issued as slips force people out of Coromandel properties and roads remain closed across sodden parts of the North Island.

As water recedes and slips are cleared off roads from yesterday’s massive one-in-a-100-year deluge, Northland is being told to be on watch for potentially damaging thunderstorms to hit mainly south of Kaitaia as the region comes in for a period of torrential rain. . .

Lange, manager get access awards – Guy Williams:

The men responsible for opening up public access to high country land between Arrowtown and Glendhu Bay have been recognised by the Walking Access Commission.

Switzerland-based record producer Robert ”Mutt” Lange and his Arrowtown-based manager, Russell Hamilton, received Walking Access Champion awards at a ceremony at Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Hamilton, who accepted the famously publicity-shy Mr Lange’s award on his behalf, said it was ”very nice” to be recognised..

How I beat the black dog within myself –  Jon Morgan:

The latest person to come out and admit they have had problems with depression is a young Methven farmer, Sam Robinson.

Writing on NZ Farming’s Facebook page, he spoke movingly about how bleak it can be to feel so down that you want to kill yourself.

He acknowledged that it is difficult for those who have no experience of mental illness to recognise the signs and be supportive.

He had one suggestion for what they could do – just to say to their mate next time they are in a social situation something like, “I think you are a good sort and I bloody like you“. . .

Cattle lost in fire: it’s horrible out there, the things I saw – Michael Pearce:

Larry Konrade of Ashland likes hunting everything from doves to huge whitetail bucks.

But when he left his house Tuesday morning with a favored rifle, he was dreading the day. He felt even worse when it was over.

“It’s horrible, just horrible. I left the house with (60) shells and used them all,” Konrade said. He said he probably killed 40 cows, “and in a lot of places there weren’t even very many left alive to put down.” . .

Nuffield scholars identify challenges for NZ – Richard Rennie:

Last year’s Nuffield Scholars are uneasy at competing countries’ ability to match or outpace New Zealand agriculture.

In a summary of their experiences the unbalanced rhetoric around emerging technologies was also noted.

Wellington based government agricultural development manager Jessica Bensemann reported her concern over New Zealand agriculture’s level of disconnectedness from global trading trends and patterns after visiting Asia, United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Instead she warned New Zealand’s primary sector appeared to be transfixed within the farm gate. . .

Rugged rural fellas wanted:

The call has gone out for young, gallant rural gents to compete for this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Eight finalists will be selected for the popular competition, which takes place during Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre from June 14-17.

The competition is in its seventh year and entries close at the end of March. . .


Rural round-up

September 5, 2016

Research breakthrough to boost native forestry – James Morton:

A scientific breakthrough could replenish vast expanses of our countryside with lush native forest – and offer a lucrative new forestry industry for New Zealand.

Scion researchers have discovered how to grow native trees, including rimu and totara, from cuttings taken from parent trees instead of seeds, enabling them to grow much faster and in larger amounts.

The new technology will be used a multi-million dollar nursery site opening near the Bay of Plenty village of Minginui this weekend, in a partnership with local iwi Ngati Whare. . . 

Sports awards to be ‘rural Halbergs’:

 Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the “Halbergs for the rural sector”.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
 
An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on March 10, 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing. . . 

More farmers under bank ‘pressure‘ – Sally Rae:

More farmers are experiencing “undue pressure” from their banks and sharemilkers remain the most vulnerable in the sector, the latest Federated Farmers banking survey shows.

Overall satisfaction remained strong, with 80% of all farmers and 78.4% of dairy farmers either very satisfied or satisfied with their banks.

The survey showed sharemilkers were least satisfied. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise they were the most exposed, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said.

In relation to overdrafts, 15.8% said they experienced “undue pressure” and 22.2% experienced “undue pressure” concerning mortgages. . . 

The art of the covenant – Guy Williams:

Two years have passed since we learned four high country stations between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka would be placed under protective covenants, effectively creating New Zealand’s first national park in private hands. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what is happening on the stations and asks whether the land will be protected and cared for forever.

They are called Mahu Whenua, meaning “healing the land” — four protective covenants covering 53,000ha across four high country stations: Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Their leases were bought between 2003 and 2011 by British record producer and songwriter Robert “Mutt” Lange — in the earlier years with then-wife, Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain.

Two years ago, the QEII National Trust announced Lange would place 95% of the stations’ area under open space covenants, a decision then-Minister of Conservation Nick Smith hailed as an “extraordinary act of generosity”. . . 

North Canterbury farmer frustrated by mobile technology – Heather Chalmers

Do you have access to high-speed broadband?

If you live in the country then you probably don’t. Cellphone coverage is also probably patchy. And that is significantly holding back farmers, says North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Dan Shand.

As a former Sydney IT worker and a Nuffield scholar he knows more than most in the agricultural sector about what is possible with mobile technology. He believes it holds the key to a whole wave of advances, both in on-farm decision-making and productivity and in adding market premiums. However, for a number of reasons this potential is being missed. . . 

Happy Valley to set up new A2 milk plant:

South Waikato dairy farmers wanting to join the A2 milk bonanza might have their chance as a new dairy company seeks consent to build a plant near Otorohanga.  

The Happy Valley Milk company was seeking resource consent for the project that would ultimately include two milk driers.  The first would be an eight tonnes an hour drier capable of producing multiple types of milk powders including A2 infant formula.

Project manager Grant Horan said the company was optimistic it could get the consent process through by the end of the year, with an estimated completion date of mid-2018. . . 

 

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Farming noun [fam -ing] the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think yare are trying to kill them.


Significant gift to nation from foreign owner

March 9, 2015

The largest private land protection is a significant gift to New Zealand and its come from a foreign owner:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says today’s opening of the Mahu Whenua covenants under New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement, is a significant gift to the nation.

53,000 hectares of land in central Otago has been gifted by philanthropist and music producer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange of Soho Property Ltd, through a partnership with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

“This is indeed a great day for New Zealand conservation. We are very grateful for Mutt Lange’s extraordinary generosity and vision in securing permanent protection for this unique and special landscape,” says Ms Barry.

The four open space covenants cover land on Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, bordered by the Shotover River and the Cardrona Valley.

“The agreement not only permanently protects the natural values and human history of this landscape, but also allows for public access with 21 tracks and trails for all visitors to enjoy,” says Ms Barry.

“Congratulations to the QEII National Trust, which has been working alongside private landowners for nearly 40 years helping them protect special natural and cultural heritage places throughout the country.”

This year the National Trust will register its 4,000th open space covenant and since it was established in 1977 it has secured more than 178,000 hectares of private land to be held in trust for the nation.

The covenants were formally opened by Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, on Saturday.

Sir Jerry, in a speech on Saturday, said: ”New Zealand’s isolation has seen us as a nation develop a very strong sense of place.

”For many of us, even those who live in cities, the landscape of our country, especially the high country, captures our sense of home.

”Those rugged hills and valleys, formed over the millennia, are as representative of New Zealand as the silver fern.” . .

Trust patron Sir Jerry described the covenants as a ”significant gift to New Zealand”.

He said while humankind’s presence is certainly visible now, the landscape will be here long after we are gone.

”This Maori proverb captures that idea: Toitu he whenua, whatungarongaro he tangata? The land remains while people disappear.”

Trust chairman James Guild said protection of such a large tract of private land would not have been possible without the vision and generosity of Mr Lange.

Mr Guild said: ”Mr Lange has instigated the protection of an extensive landscape that is rich in natural and cultural heritage.

”He has in effect created New Zealand’s first private national park.

”We celebrate his tremendous philanthropy and the legacy he leaves on this landscape with his covenants.”

Mr Guild said the land’s scenic and intrinsic values and the opportunity for people to get out and enjoy it are safeguarded forever.

The covenants protect the landscapes, the habitat of unique native plants and animals, important historic and cultural sites, public access, and recreation values.

Mr Guild emphasised that covenanting land is voluntary and not a requirement of the Overseas Investment Office or the Government. . .

This is a huge area of land and the covenanting is an act of extraordinary generosity on the part of its owner.

Locals have covenanted large tracts of land through the QE II Trust, although none on this scale.

The significance of this gift coming from a foreign owner is that it shows land sales to foreigners should be judged on their merits and there should not be, as some would wish it, a blanket ban on foreign ownership of land.

 


NY to NZ – our gain

August 24, 2014

Federated Farmers vice president Anders Crofoot  reacts to emotive opposition to foreign investment:

When it comes to the foreign ownership of farmland my family has a unique perspective. 

Before my wife and I moved our family thousands of miles from upstate New York to the Wairarapa, we did research.  A great deal of it.  We’d narrowed our choices to English speaking Canada, Australia and of course, New Zealand.  Adding a new language, when you are moving thousands of kilometres, adds too much complexity.  Since moving downunder, we’ve learned that being a “good b..tard” is a complement. Maybe Winston Churchill was right when he said “Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language”. 

While Emily was the farmer, I was an investment analyst.  Together, we learned more about the country, its political stability, history, economy, agricultural system, climate and the rural property market.  Of course, being ‘foreign investors’, we checked out whether we’d be welcomed or not. 

We quickly dropped Canada from consideration for being even colder than New York.  We also wanted to break out of the closeted subsidy culture prevalent in North America. While Australia offered space aplenty, dealing with years of drought followed by floods was a challenge too far.  Our preference was for New Zealand’s more benign climate.

To farmers overseas, New Zealand is the mecca of farming.  Nowhere else had an organisation like Federated Farmers worked with a left-wing government to end subsidies.  Farmers there, we learned, were judged on their abilities as farmers and not the size of their subsidy cheque. New Zealand was at the forefront of pastoral research and practice too.  It also had plenty of migrant farmers who had integrated and excelled. New Zealand felt right.

Being in Federated Farmers a few years later, I came across one farmer who made Winston Peters look like a weak-kneed liberal.  Proving the debate is seemingly two-thirds heart and one-third brain, I later learned that he’d bought a farm in Australia but he still opposed foreign investment, albeit, slightly sheepishly. 

Sadly this hypocrisy isn’t unusual.

Deciding on a country is one thing, but it’s quite another to get the ideal farm. We were very fortunate to convince Castlepoint’s Board that New York Yankees were fit custodians for their iconic Wairarapa station.  That was 1998 and we’ve never looked back. 

Kiwis are the most hospitable people with an unerring knack of convincing you to take on more responsibilities. I was one of two non-New Zealand born farmers on the Federated Farmers National Board.  I’m also on the Board of Grow Wellington and to keep my feet firmly on the ground, I’m also Castlepoint’s Fire Chief.  Emily is similarly involved and our children are now working in New Zealand.

The Crofoots have and continue to contribute a lot to their local community, farming and the country.

Their decision to move from new York to New Zealand has been our gain.

Politicians are quick to say that families like us are their ‘ideal’ business migrants.  The message is that ‘people like us’ will continue to be welcomed, whichever party wins on 20 September. 

Unfortunately, that nuance is lost if you’re thousands of miles away reading herald.co.nz or watching news on-demand.  The streaming of talkback radio means Albany, New York can listen to ZB just as easily as someone in Albany, Auckland. 

If we were researching New Zealand, today, would we make the biggest of big moves?  Possibly not. 

The tone around foreign investment has hardened for the worse.  To outsiders, politics and cultish popularity now seem big determinants.  There’s also a nasty undercurrent which reflects poorly on us as Kiwis.  Who this is putting off we’ll never know, but it is off-putting.

That might be what those opposed to foreign investment want but it’s not necessarily in the best interests of New Zealand.

Farming is the most international industry we have.  It’s this mix of people that makes New Zealand agriculture unique and the success it is.  The Green Party opposed Shania Twain’s High Country purchase but look at what British record producer Robert “Mutt” Lange has given back; 53,000 hectares and a whole landscape permanently protected. The restoration and enhancement of Young Nicks Head would never have taken place had a Kiwi farmer purchased it rather than New York financier, John Griffin.  We’re even near neighbours of James Cameron, that’s in a rural sense because we’re over an hour away by car. 

Politics must come out of the ‘foreign investment’ debate because it can so easily spiral into the gutter.  Rules are important and we Kiwis accept that with sport, why not overseas investment? 

We have rules on foreign investment and those rules have been toughened since National has been leading the government.

It hasn’t been easy for foreigners to buy farms here for a long time and it’s harder now.

If the rules still aren’t tough enough it is fair enough to look at the m again.

But that look must be a rational one, mindful of both the costs and benefits of foreign investment, our obligations to trading partners and the benefits New Zealand and New Zealanders get from investing in other countries.

 

I know another couple from the USA who have made a big investment in New Zealand in hospitality and tourism. They are an asset to the community in which they’ve settled, the wider hospitality and tourism industry and the country.

I wonder how many others like that might write New Zealand off their list of countries to visit and possibly invest and settle in because of political opportunism?


Rural round-up

July 18, 2013

Big increase in water for irrigation for SC possible – Matthew Littlewood:

The equivalent of nearly 250 Hagley Parks worth of extra land could be freed up for irrigation in the Orari and Opihi catchments, if the right measures are in place.

Environment Canterbury water management scientist Brett Painter told this week’s Orari-Opihi-Pareora water management committee meeting that adjustments to the Rakaia Water Conservation Order could be a “game changer” for sourcing extra water for the South Canterbury Catchment.

Painter said “at the extreme end”, enough water for an extra 42,000ha of irrigation could be made available. . .

Not sure it’s realistic for farmers to own the meat industry – Allan Barber:

There is a lot of noise about the dysfunctional or broken meat industry accompanied by the suggestion it would be solved if farmers owned a bigger slice of it.

The Meat Industry Excellence group has been touring the country since earlier this year, holding farmer meetings and trying to drum up support for fixing the industry’s problems. In total some 3,000 farmers attended meetings from Gore to Gisborne which, even if every attendee was firmly in support, only represents a maximum of 20% of sheep and beef farmers. . .

Farmlets tipped for Glencoe Station – Grant Bryant:

Two huge players in Queenstown’s high finance, development and winery scene are set to carve up a large chunk of Glencoe Station for clusters of two-acre farmlets.

In recent years the area on the Crown Range above Arrowtown has become the home and playground of the mega-rich, with fabulously wealthy and enormously reclusive music producer Robert “Mutt” Lange snapping up 8500ha of the high-country station for an undisclosed amount in 2009.

New Zealand international sailor and prominent America’s Cup captain Russell Coutts is a next-door neighbour to the station, with his holiday home boasting an underground pool and golf course. . .

Forest Levy takes important step:

An application for the introduction of a levy on harvested logs has been lodged with Associate Minister for Primary Industries Hon Jo Goodhew. 

“This is an important step in the process of getting a Levy Order under the Commodity Levies Act and follows a successful forest grower referendum in March,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“Officials will now take several months to assess the application and all the accompanying detail about levy collection, budgeting and ongoing structure. We are fundamentally on target to introduce the levy from 1 January 2014.” . . 

Bovine bliss in a winter cow house  – Finian Scott:

Numerous South Island farmers have been putting in the hard yards, trekking out into waist deep snow in parts of the Mackenzie Country, firing up bulldozers and snow ploughs in an attempt to set tracks for stock and feed out.

Weather-hardened livestock do their best to hunt out natural shelter belts, prepping for the inevitable mad rush towards the trail of food snaking a path behind the steaming tractor and feed bin.

Meanwhile, as the doors roll up on a Cow House at Studholme, the cows inside look up, lazily, mid-chew, to see who this new “disturber of the peace” may be. . .

Fonterra cuts Anmum-branded product prices in China amid price-fixing probe – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, cut the price of its Anmum-branded products in China as the local regulator looks at potential price manipulation by major foreign firms selling into the world’s most-populous nation.

The Auckland-based cooperative will trim 9 percent from its Anmum maternal health products in mainland China from next month “to better meet consumer needs in light of recent industry-wide price revisions,” Fonterra president for Greater China and India, Kelvin Wickham, said in an emailed statement. . .

NZ Honey Comes under Scrutiny in Hong Kong. New Zealand’s Oldest Brand Says Tighter Export Controls Are Needed:

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, believes the quality control of New Zealand honey export needs to be tighter, following recent feedback from the Hong Kong Consumer Council. On 16 July, New Zealand honey came under scrutiny in Hong Kong after the Hong Kong Consumer Council, a statutory body that protects and promotes consumer rights in Hong Kong, tested a number of well-known brands available in the region. The Consumer Council reports that a quarter of the 55 samples tested (from a number of countries, including New Zealand) have been adulterated with sugar, including Manuka. . .


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