Rural round-up

January 20, 2018

Agriculture is not the villain when it comes to NZ’s emissions – Steve Cranston:

Now that we have heard that a climate change commission will be established, this makes 2018 an important year politically for farmers.

There is a real possibility that if the truth about agricultural emissions is not better circulated amongst farmers and the general public alike, the New Zealand agricultural industry may be forced into a highly damaging and completely unnecessary emissions reduction scheme if it is not set up correctly.

With the notable exception of Northland avocado farmer Robin Grieve, few people or organisations have been prepared to state this basic fact that in my opinion, New Zealand agriculture is not the problem it is made out to be. . .

Lives imperiled by cellphone blackspot – Sarah Harris:

Sited in one of New Zealand’s remotest regions, Haast township continues to lobby for life-saving cellphone reception. Sarah Harris reports.

Blair Farmer will never forget how a woman’s life slipped away as he tried to save her on the floor of the information centre in Haast.

Yi-Chieh Feng, from Taiwan, had been flung from the rental camper van when it crashed into a bank. She was not wearing a seatbelt.

Driver Yu-Hsiang Chen could not call 111 as there was no reception. So he bundled her into the van and drove 30 minutes to Haast at the bottom of the West Coast. . . .

Southern Rangitikei vet Kristina Dykes determined to keep vets in the job – Kate Taylor:

A southern Rangitikei vet is determined to improve retention numbers in the profession she loves. She spoke with Kate Taylor.

As one of five children growing up in Auckland, Kristina Dykes never pictured herself working as a rural vet in provincial New Zealand.

She did want to be a vet from an early age, but it was cats and dogs in her sights more than cattle and sheep. She went to vet school quite indifferent to the rural sector but soon realised the opportunities available to her. . . 

NZ crossbred wool ‘in a crisis’:

Low financial returns have pitched the New Zealand crossbred wool industry into a crisis, a leading grower says.

Sales of merino wool were doing fine, but these represented less than 15 per cent of our national wool clip, with most of the country not high and dry enough to run merino sheep.

In contrast, returns from coarser crossbred wool were so low, many farmers found it barely worth taking their quadbikes out of the shed.

Campaign for Wool NZ Trust chairperson Renata Apatu, in particular, paints a grim picture. . .

Hunter Downs good to go – Annette Scott:

A desperate plea to farmers and investors has finally pushed Hunter Downs Water across the start line.

Late last year the proposed multi-million dollar South Canterbury irrigation scheme was at risk of being abandoned but a last-ditch effort proved successful.

After a renewed push for investors, HDW chairman Andrew Fraser confirmed the company had the shareholders needed to proceed with the $110 million scheme. . . 

Snow levels as high as 12 inches across Scotland – Zoë Wilson:

TOWNS across Scotland have been affected by heavy snow since Monday evening, and, although some people have experienced chaotic situations, others are taking advantage of the glorious views, and even considered the impact snow can have on their current situation.

One lorry couldn’t access Scotstounbank Farm, in Blyth Bridge, West Linton, due to heavy snowfall, and instead of abandoning the job, the lorry driver waited in the village while the farmer, William Aitken, dropped 270 prime Blackface wedder lambs off using a Massey Ferguson tractor and trailer. . .


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

February 27, 2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


Act list

July 13, 2014

Act has released it party list for the 2014 election:

. . . The top 20 list placings are:

  1. Dr Jamie Whyte
  2. Kenneth Wang
  3. Robin Grieve
  4. Beth Houlbrooke
  5. Don Nicolson
  6. Stephen Berry
  7. Dasha Kovalenko
  8. Gareth Veale
  9. Ian Cummings
  10. Sara Muti
  11. Toni Severin
  12. Max Whitehead
  13. Phelan Pirrie
  14. Stephen Fletcher
  15. David Olsen
  16. Nick Kearney
  17. Sean Fitzpatrick
  18. Richard Evans
  19. Michael Milne
  20. Dr Ron Smith . . .

Epsom candidate David Seymour is not on the list.


Rural round-up

November 17, 2013

Materials made from natural New Zealand wool go hi-tech in China:

With concern growing in China about the health risks from air pollution, a Kiwi start-up is expecting keen interest in its wool-based filtration products when it exhibits at the China High-Tech Fair.

Auckland-based Texus Fibre specialises in next generation materials which harness wool’s outstanding natural functionality for use in a range of products. An early application for its technology is personal particulate respirators and filters for use in industry.

“Around the world, and particularly in China, people are increasingly worried about the increase in the quantity and toxicity of dust,” says Texus Fibre founder and director Nick Davenport. “The problem has grown to the point that the World Health Organisation recently classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans. . .

Quad code urged for rural sector – Richard Rennie:

An experienced farm-safety tutor is urging the farming sector to develop a code of practice for quad-bike use to enforce safer use by farmers and their staff.

Northland FarmSafe instructor Robin Grieve’s patch was the focus of a coronial report on quad-bike deaths, prompted by a spate of accidents in 2010 and 2011. . . .

Merger divides co-op hopefuls – Tim Fulton:

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) director candidate Dan Jex-Blake says he will stand down after his first three years on the board if he doesn’t believe a merger of SFF and Alliance Group is likely by then.

Another candidate to come out of the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group, former chairman Richard Young, who is also standing for SFF, was not so definitive.

“I’d be silly to say I’m not standing on a platform for industry change around consolidation,” Young said. . .

Evening markets: biofuels reforms hammer final nail into soy – Agrimoney:

Which is more important for agricultural commodity investors – data on US exports, or on domestic demand? 

On the evidence of Friday’s performance in soybeans, trade statistics proved the more influential, hands down. 

The National Oilseed Processors Association came in with some strong data on the US soybean crush in October, pegging it 157.1m bushels – well above market expectations of a 154.3m-bushel result.  As an extra fillip, soyoil stocks were lower than expected too, at 1.36bn pounds, compared with a forecast 1.49bn pounds. . .

Eliminate the [water] bugs – Willy Leferink:

I am writing this from Vietnam as I look at how they farm.  For a communist country it seems pretty entrepreneurial but that’s come out of reality versus theory.  After reunification, in 1976, the purists collectivised rice production and collapsed output.  One decade later, Vietnam allowed its farmers to grow and sell their own rice, albeit, within boundaries.   Today however, Vietnam has become the World’s No. 1 rice exporter.

When it comes to rice production water is critical as it is back in New Zealand.

In our many discussions about water quality we often overlook the fact that livestock need good quality drinking water too.  Cows are mammals just like humans so good water is in farming’s own self-interest.  Given the marvels of modern communication, I managed to catch One News’ coverage of the proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. 

It may sound dry but it has massive implications for all Kiwis. . .

One of those years – Angela Dorie:

Out here on the area farms it has been another case of “one of those years”.

Crops were hard to get in, with the cold and wet weather playing havoc with timing for many.

Early planted corn was stressed by too much cold and rain while some later planted fields struggled to mature before the first frost in early September.

Some crop land displayed its low spots with either stunted, yellowed growth or nothing at all.

The soy planting, done after the corn, seemed to go better and combining is now in full swing with many farmers extremely pleased with the yields. The corn will no doubt be a different story for some.

The hay harvest, for the third year in a row, proved to be difficult, especially for those who make the small square bales. The June rains didn’t leave enough good weather in a row to cut, dry and bale the 10,000 or so first cut bales we make yearly, so the harvest dragged on through July and well into August. . . .

Hot to trot farmer makes trotting history:

Federated Farmers is saluting the success of arable and sheep farmer, Ricky May, who made the history books yesterday in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup.

“Becoming the most successful driver in 110 years, of the great race, takes a lot of talent and we are thrilled for Ricky who is a valued member of the Federation,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“It is humbling to see that even with the nation celebrating his success, when we spoke to him he was back out in the paddock spraying peas. . .


Sell Landcorp – Act

April 3, 2013

Act wants the government to include Landcorp in its asset sales programme.

Associate Primary Industry Spokesman Robin Grieve says:

“ACT believes the Government should not be involved in the business of farm ownership and that 100 per cent of Landcorp should be sold,” Mr Grieve said.

I agree that the government shouldn’t be in the business of farming but National campaigned on selling a minority share in a few state assets and Landcorp wasn’t among them.

For that reason the sale of the company shouldn’t happen this term. The sale could be part of a future campaign but Landcorp shouldn’t be sold as a whole.

Putting the whole company up for sale in its entirety would limit the number of potential buyers to a very few. Most if not all who could afford to pay the more than a billion and a half dollars its worth would be from overseas.

While I’m not opposed to overseas ownership in general it wouldn’t be sensible to structure a sale so that all the farms were almost certain to go to foreign interests.

The only reason for the government to own the farms is to maintain a land bank for treaty settlements.

Once that is no longer needed any farms left in state ownership should be put on the market one by one until they’re all sold.

The company has a good reputation for farm management and its possible that a company making use of that could also be floated.

Act is right that the state shouldn’t be farming but its policy for Landcorp to be sold as a whole would be neither politically nor financially sensible.

It would be easier to sell the policy and ensure a better return for the land by selling the farms individually and over time.


NZ poorly served by Kyoto negotiators

November 20, 2008

The Emissions Trading Scheme is seriously flawed  and must be deferred engineer John de Beuger says.

There isn’t much low-hanging fruit left to pick when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint.

We already have a high percentage of hydro renewables, and because our animals are free-range and grass fed (not corn fed in feed lots), our agriculture is close to world-best practice.

We can certainly improve in transport, but this will cost.

With no other country even thinking about carbon footprints during the current financial crisis, why are we so hellbent on cutting our throats? This country was very badly served by our Kyoto negotiators.

Take two simple examples – exporting logs and mowing the lawn.

If two ships, one with imported oil and the other with export logs, pass each other outside the Port of Tauranga, under current Kyoto rules we get dinged for both – because we are going to burn the oil, and we have cut down the trees.

Compare this with an oil tanker passing a coal exporter outside Sydney harbour.

Under current Kyoto rules, Australia doesn’t get dinged for exporting coal – which is the main global warming culprit.

Meanwhile New Zealand cops it for exporting plantation forestry trees, which are good news for the planet.

To show how truly stupid the Kyoto Protocol is for food-exporting countries like New Zealand, agricultural consultant Robin Grieve has calculated that mowing a lawn with a motor mower is six times better for the environment than letting sheep graze it. (The environmental impact of sheep, as defined by Kyoto, is 19.65kg carbon-equivalent compared with a lawn mower’s 3.107kg of carbon – i.e., a sheep is 6.3 times worse for the environment than a lawn mower.)

It gets worse. The methane emissions of livestock have been seriously misrepresented because, over time, pasture grass is carbon neutral – whether it is eaten or not.

Grass grows in the spring and summer, and dies back in the autumn after flowering.

If it isn’t eaten, then depending on the decay process, it releases the CO2 it absorbed during its growth back into the atmosphere.

If cattle eat the grass, and live for several years before being slaughtered, they are acting like trees in the sense of temporarily storing carbon that would have been emitted by decay if they hadn’t eaten the grass.

During digestion, a cow discharges methane equivalent to one-third of the carbon consumed, while the other two-thirds is stored in their body until they end up on a hook at the works.

Cows are thus temporary carbon sinks – a simple truth that one might have thought was self-evident to the Kyoto negotiators.

Carbon credits should accrue to grass-fed meat producers, not penalties.

But no, we are dinged for the methane cattle emit because our negotiators misunderstood something as simple as the carbon life cycle of grass.

Under current rules we will be penalised for our agriculture – as well as achieving an own goal by exporting our energy-efficient production to Asia, where the predominant source of energy is coal.

If other countries are not prepared to sacrifice their livelihoods, why should we? In Canada, Stephen Harper has just been re-elected after reneging on Canada’s Kyoto Protocol commitment over synthetic crude oil.

Extracting the dirty oil from Alberta’s tar sands leaves a footprint three times greater than normal crude.

Similarly, in the wake of the global credit crunch, any resolve in Europe to make meaningful emission reductions is crumbling by the day.

Although the European Union ETS only covers about 40% of European emissions, they are fearful that the cost of emission reductions will force energy-intensive industry to exit Europe and set up in parts of the world where there will be no carbon charge.

Never mind about China – they will cheat anyway.

The rules affecting agriculture under the Kyoto Protocol are wrong.

With the agricultural sector being so important to our economy, it is clear that Kyoto 2 seriously needs sorting out.

That’s why deferment of the current ETS is essential.

Act New Zealand’s insistence on setting up a special select committee to investigate the mess is correct.

We can’t afford to get it wrong.

As a small player in this fraught business, it is ridiculous for New Zealand to be a leader – rather than a follower.

It would be lunacy for John Key to adopt a scheme that is so obviously flawed, and shoots us in the foot for no environmental benefit whatsoever.

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in our economy yet we’re the only country to include it in our Kyoto commitment. The looming economic crisis may well help us because because if other countries put their economies before their Kyoto commitments, many of which will do little or nothing to improve the environment, we will be able to renegotiate our commitments too without being penalised.

We’ve been very poorly served by past negotiations but we can take some comfort from the knowledge that the new Minister for Climate Change negotiations, Tim Groser, has both the will and skills to ensure we’re better served in negotiations from now.


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