Rural round-up

November 27, 2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2015

Trelinnoe treads lightly on the environment – Kate Taylor:

From crutching sheep at home on the farm to meeting the world’s top farming politicians, the passion Bruce Wills has for all facets of farming is evident from the moment you meet him.

His brother Scott is the other side of the coin, a man of few words, until you ask him about the farm’s stock policies, then the same passion is evident.

They both love Trelinnoe – an 1134ha hill country farm carved out of the scrub by their parents and an uncle through the 1950s and 60s. . .

Ruataniwha irrigation scheme gets 15 years to sort water quality – Pattrick Smellie:

 (BusinessDesk) – A revised decision from the board of inquiry considering the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme relaxes water quality conditions that were previously regarded as unworkable. It gives irrigators 15 years to find ways to manage nitrogen levels in the Tukituki River to very low levels.

The board’s original decision, released last June, set a maximum level for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) downstream from the scheme of 0.8 milligrams per litre, a level consistent with the highest quality freshwater bodies under the government’s recently updated National Policy Statement on freshwater management, and at odds with DIN levels in the river today.

To get around that, the decision created an exemption for some 615 farms to discharge higher levels of nitrogen, leading to successful appeals from a range of environmental groups who argued the board had created a “factual fiction” by setting a high standard that would not then be expected to be met. . .

 

IrrigationNZ says Board of Inquiry decision on Tukituki ‘reasonable’ but far from practical for farmers:

“The Board of Inquiry for the Tukituki Catchment has reached a reasonable decision in what has been a long process,” says Andrew Curtis, CEO of IrrigationNZ. “But it is a far from practical outcome for farmers and the regional economy. We believe nutrient limits set for the Tukituki system remain unrealistic for what is a productive working agricultural landscape.”*

IrrigationNZ does however recognise the positive step taken in the decision to exclude some hill country farms, forestry, orchards and lifestyle blocks from having to gain consents, but points out that the reality is the majority of commercial enterprises will still require one. . .

 

Alliance Group Targets 3,300 Tonne Carbon Reduction:

One of the world’s largest processors of sheepmeat, Alliance Group Limited, aims to reduce carbon emissions by 3,300 tonnes over the next three years, as part of a new energy management agreement with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

The agreement, announced in Southland today by Alliance Group Chief Executive David Surveyor and EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill, includes a thermal and electricity energy use reduction of approximately 10 Gigawatt hours per annum by 2017. This is the equivalent annual energy use of about 960 households.

David Surveyor says reducing the company’s energy use makes good business and environmental sense and that the new partnership with EECA is the next phase of Alliance Group’s energy management journey. . .

Synlait Milk ingredient will help to significantly enhance sleep:

Synlait Milk has commercialised a dairy-based milk powder ingredient that is clinically proven to enhance sleep.

Results from an independent clinical trial of iNdream3 have proved its efficacy as a sleep promoting ingredient.

iNdream3 is made from melatonin-rich milk collected in the hours of darkness, when cows naturally produce increased concentrations of melatonin in their milk

“We’ve been developing this product for several years and this clinical trial is a major milestone in proving the ability of iNdream3 to improve sleep,” said Dr Simon Causer, Synlait’s Research and Development Manager.. . .

Maori farm vitally important for community:

A Northland sheep and beef farm in the running for the top Maori farming award has impressed the judges with its strong ties to a small local community.

Paua Station is one of three finalists for the Ahuwhenua Trophy and as part of the awards is hosting an open day today.

The almost 3,000 hectare station lies just south of Cape Reinga, about 80 kilometres north of Kaitaia, and surrounds the small community of Te Kao.

It is owned by Parengarenga Incorporation, whose general manager, John Ellis, said the running of the farm was very much centred around the community. . .

Dairy Awards Finalists in Auckland for Annual Awards:

The 33 finalists in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are in Auckland, where the winners of the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year will be announced on Saturday night.

“The national awards is a big deal for these finalists – they’ll meet some key industry people, develop lifelong friendships and important networks, and be exposed to opportunities that’ll propel their career forward,” National Convenor Chris Keeping says.

Judging has been taking place during the past two weeks, as judges have visited the sharemilker/equity farmer and farm manager finalists on their farms. However, the final judging component will take place tomorrow when all finalists will participate in an interview. . .

Country’s Top Steaks Make The Cut:

Following today’s semi-final taste test, the 20 most succulent steaks in New Zealand have been named as finalists in the 2015 Beef and Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

A panel of 12 well-known foodwriters and chefs, including Kerry Tyack and Julie Biuso, tasted a total of 69 sirloin steaks, judging each one on taste, tenderness and aroma, to find the top four for each class.

Semi-final judge, Kerry Tyack says as a returning judge, he was reminded of the outstanding quality of New Zealand beef.

“Although the steaks vary in taste, texture and appearance, they’re all of a consistently high standard,” says Tyack. . .

Hawke’s Bay Harvest Bodes Well for a Stellar 2015 Vintage:

The Hawke’s Bay wine region looks set to enjoy its third consecutive year of great vintages.

With picking nearly complete, Hawke’s Bay grape growers and wine makers are optimistic that this will be another good year, following exemplary vintages in 2013 and 2014. Hawke’s Bay is the first region to forecast the quality of this year’s vintage following harvest.

“Most would be considering this to be a very good, solid vintage,” Michael Henley, Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association (HBWG) and CEO of Trinity Hill Wines, says. . .


Yes – with conditions

June 26, 2014

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council has given a conditional yes to supporting the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

A $275 million dam and irrigation scheme proposed for Central Hawke’s Bay is a step closer after Hawke’s Bay Regional Council voted this morning to invest up to $80 million in the scheme provided a number of conditions are met over coming months.

Regional councillors voted 6-3 in favour of proceeding with the investment of ratepayer money in the dam based on conditions including that investment is finalised from other investors, contracts are signed with water users to take a sufficient amount of initial water from the scheme and “satisfactory” environmental conditions are handed down from a board of inquiry that has been considering consents for the project.

Debbie Hewitt, representing Central Hawke’s Bay on the regional council, said the project would address farming and social issues in the district and leave a legacy for future generations. . .

One of the conditions is getting farmer support, which ought to be a no-brainer:

A Central Hawke’s Bay farmer is delighted the regional council will put millions into the Ruataniwha Dam scheme. . .

Jeremy Greer’s family operate an 800 hectare farm, but can only water up to 200 hectares at the moment.

Mr Greer says today’s decision is another step in the right direction.

He says it will ensure drought protection and increase production. . .

A number of conditions still have to be met, including finding other investors and ensuring local farmers sign up to the scheme.

Council chair Fenton Wilson says he’s confident they will come to the table with their wallets.

“The community’s got to do its bit now. We’ve got to get commitment and signed contracts unconditional for minimum 40 million cubic metres of water and that work’s ongoing.”

Wilson says this shows other investors and farmers the scheme can be a viable project.

The dam still has to clear several hurdles before it gets the full green light – including the Board of Inquiry’s final decision due in the next 48 hours. . .

Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers’ Kevin Mitchell says farmers look to the next generation when it comes to investing in the land.

“Droughts are coming more frequent on this side of the East Coast of the North Island.

“To have that water available to build resilience in your farming systems is absolutely vital.”

Droughts have a devastating impact on farms, farmers and those who work for, service and supply them.

But production isn’t just reduced in bad years. When a region is drought-prone farmers have to farm conservatively because they can’t rely on getting enough rain when they need it.

A reliable water supply with irrigation not only provides insurance against droughts it will also enable much better production in average and good years.

There are environmental benefits too – irrigation helps reduce soil erosion and can ensure minimum flows in waterways.

 

 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2014

HBRIC hopeful Ruataniwha scheme can be saved – Tim Fulton:

The council-controlled company promoting the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme reckons it still has a good chance of getting farmers into a bankable project on its three-month deadline.

Farmers were uncertain about the impact of the draft Tukituki catchment plan changes but they hadn’t been scared off, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) chief executive Andrew Newman said.

HBRIC’s immediate problem was that while the Ruataniwha dam had been granted the consents it needed, the proposed Tukituki plan changes didn’t allow the scheme to work, he said.

“I think it’s reasonable to say the decision has had some unintended consequences and a level of ambiguity in it, when viewed in aggregate.” . . .

World Young Shepherds round:

EIGHT YOUNG Kiwis are heading to Lincoln, July 3-5 to compete in the preliminary round of competition at the World Young Shepherds Challenge.

The top two performing competitors will go on to represent New Zealand at the final in France, September 28 – October 4.

“The World Young Shepherds Challenge is a fantastic event, showcasing a vital industry and a range of young people from around the globe who have a major contribution to make to the international sheep industry,” says Beef+Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion. . .

Life a blur of activity for radio host:

As the new voice behind the Southern Farming show, Balfour man Jonny Turner is now making his mark on the Hokonui radio station.

His rural background began in the small Northern Southland community and has played a great influence on his getting involved with radio, as well as his passion for horse racing.

Growing up in Balfour on a mixed farming property, Mr Turner had always had a rural background and he had wanted to get involved with radio. When the opportunity arose he could not have been happier. . .

Tall order for responsible publicans:

Jill Derbyshire and husband Peter have been at the Royal Hotel, Naseby, for more than two years and are keenly aware of their host responsibilities under the law.

Mrs Derbyshire said hoteliers were the first in the firing line if something went wrong.

”We could lose our licence,” Mrs Derbyshire said.

One of the tools they use is an incident book, in which they and their staff protect themselves by recording any interactions they had with patrons about suggesting they use the courtesy coach or that they be driven home, or if they had been argumentative in the bar.

”If something happens and they have been in the bar beforehand, it is there,” she said. . .

Funding sought to get young into agricultural jobs

Venture Southland is looking for up to between $200,000 and $300,000 in funding, or in kind, over three years for its Southland Futures project, a strategy designed to help the region’s unemployed young people into jobs in the agricultural sector.

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said it had surveyed 600 Southland pupils last December, and found that few were considering careers in the agriculture or agricultural services sectors.

The organisation found young people and Work and Income clients did look at agricultural jobs in a positive way, apart from the long hours, but often lacked ”direct experience of the industry”. . .

DPI streamlines water bureaucracy

WATER bureaucracy in NSW is being streamlined, with three organisations being combined into one under the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

Currently the responsibility for water is shared throughout DPI by specific offices – the NSW Office of Water, Sydney Catchment Authority and the Metropolitan Water Directorate.

Now, the DPI is consolidating these parts into a new look Office of Water aligning the water policy and planning, regulation and monitoring and evaluation for all water in NSW. . .

 Irrigators slam water shake-up – Mike Foley:

NSW Irrigators has slammed the NSW government’s decision to remove the role of Water Commissioner from the state’s bureaucracy, in a departmental shake-up announced today.

“It is appallingly bad timing to abolish the Water Commissioner role now,” NSW Irrigators chairman Richard Stott said.

Mr Stott said planning for water recovery infrastructure projects, under the national Murray Darling Basin Plan, are are at a critical point.

“To abolish the position of Water Commissioner when the current incumbent probably has the most knowledge of how the Basin works and how NSW can best meets its water recovery commitments under the Plan is very short-sighted,” Mr Stott said. . .

Grant helps school tree plan – Michele Ong:

Ahititi School is seeing its dream garden come to fruition thanks to a generous grant.

The school received a $2000 grant from the Rural Women New Zealand and Farmlands to help with its gardening plans, such as buying trees to attract native birds, bird feed, and also “bee-friendly” trees.

Principal Chris Richardson said the school was “really pleased” with the grant which would help further add to the school’s orchard, which includes nashis, plums and apples.

Richardson said the school has not been “troubled by possums”, which was a bonus. . .


Who are denialists now?

April 24, 2014

Federated Farmers’ Hawkes Bay president Will Foley asks, who are the denialists now?

RadioLIVE recently ran an online poll asking its listeners if they were frightened of climate change.  To the shock of host Marcus Lush, two-thirds of respondents apparently said no, they’re not.  I would have said yes.

As some groups are cock-a-hoop over tough consent conditions imposed on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme and others think them lax, you have to wonder if this public climate weariness has spread to them too.

What it all means for the viability of Ruataniwha won’t be known until the 700-page decision is crunched but what I know is this.  If the scheme does not progress it won’t affect Green Party MP’s in their air conditioned offices or the paid Wellington staff at Forest & Bird.  They don’t have to worry about the El Nino being talked about for spring.  They don’t have to watch our region increasingly turn into a retirement village while our young drift to Auckland or Australia.  They don’t have to deal with crime since Hawke’s Bay bucked the national trend last year.

I cannot understand why some are so hell-bent on derailing a scheme, which gives Hawke’s Bay its best shot at adapting to a changing climate. Federated Farmers hosted Dr Russel Norman at the South Island’s Opuha water storage scheme a few years ago.  Memories seem short unless you are a politician.

With a medium level of confidence the climate experts say that average rainfall on the east coast will decrease this century.  This will lead to lower flows of the Makaroro River, Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers. The International Panel on Climate Change warns that by 2040, the East Coast can expect to double or even triple the time spent in drought.  This is our future unless we adapt and that means new pastures, crops, technologies and even animals.  Above all, adaption means storing water like that proposed by Ruataniwha.

I will be blunt to make a point; the shit in the Tukituki during summer low flows has mostly been human.  Up to 70 percent of phosphorous loading during low flows had come from the wastewater plants of Waipukurau, Waipawa, Otane and Takapau.  That’s thankfully changing with upgrades in hand while the allocation regime will put more water into the Tukituki during summer.

Ruataniwha could do more.  It could put a quarter of a billion dollars into those towns each year providing councils with the means to meet increasing drinking water standards.  This proves that the environment and economy are flipsides of the same coin.  If there’s no scheme, there’s no dam supported flushing and little additional money to upgrade existing plant.  Can anyone tell me the environmental win in that?

Is it just me or has the media and Ruataniwha opponents overlooked the IPCC’s warning that New Zealand is underprepared for a changing climate.  If anything, there seems to be outright denial since these groups seem to believe our rivers in 2040 will be exactly as they were in 2014.  It is not like the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company got a muppet to look into climate issues and Ruataniwha either.  Victoria University’s Dr James Renwick happens to be an international expert in this field.

While dryland places like North Otago have been averaging twice their normal rainfall over the past five years, in the same timeframe, we’ve had three droughts and it is dragging Hawke’s Bay down.  Out of 67 councils in the last census, Hastings District slipped nine spots to 30th spot, Napier went back one to 31st while Central Hawke’s Bay District dropped to 58th – losing 1.8 percent of its usually resident population.

If Ruataniwha’s consents are so tough they are Clayton’s ones, then it will be a Pyrrhic victory for the environment.  As the climate warms so will the waterways while the volume going into them drops. While that’s great for algae it doesn’t sound so flash for introduced trout or native fish and birds. 

While we can expect less intense rainfall we can store what falls and that’s the beauty of Ruataniwha and the secret recipe of our economy; just add water.

So is Ruataniwha perfect, probably not, but what is?  Do I have the information to make an informed investment decision? That now hinges on the consent conditions attached by the Board of Inquiry.  Yet debating the principle of storing water, given towns and cities do it, is a bit like debating the wisdom of sunblock, dumb. 

If we accept the climate is changing then we need to store water and adapt how we currently do things.  If you deny the climate will ever change then I guess you won’t be at the National Aquarium of NZ on 6 May, where NIWA’s Dr Andrew Tait is talking at 730pm on The Climate and Weather of Hawke’s Bay.

New Zealand makes a tiny contribution to green house gases.

No matter how hard we try to reduce emissions, we are at the mercy of other countries whose emissions are much greater.

We can continue to do our bit but we must also prepare to adapt to whatever nature throws at us.

If, as is predicted, parts of New Zealand will be hotter and drier, then water storage schemes like Ruataniwha which will enable irrigation and maintain minimum flows in rivers, are not just sensible, the economic, environmental and social benefits they provide.


Don’t let this chance go by HB

April 16, 2014

Dear Hawkes Bay,

You have moved a step closer to drought-proofing a significant area of productive land with the release of a draft decision  granting 17 resource consents for the $265 million Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme by the Tukituki Catchment Proposal Board of Inquiry.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has proposed building the dam as a way of alleviating drought problems and boosting the local economy through improved primary production on the Ruataniwha Plains near Waipawa and Waipukurau.

The project would involve the construction an 83-metre-high concrete dam on the Makaroro River to store water for irrigating 25,000 hectares of land across the plains. . .

In its decision the board granted the 17 resource consent applications relating to the dam and water storage scheme, subject to conditions.

It allowed the plan change based on a detailed set of conditions including limits on nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the Tukituki catchment. . .

The decision pleases the Iwi:

Irrigation New Zealand says the decision is bold and encouraging:

Chief Executive Andrew Curtis says the decision was welcome news – particularly following the organisation’s biennial conference in Napier earlier this month where benefits of the scheme were discussed and attendees were assured of steps being taken by the industry to protect New Zealand’s water quality. This includes initiatives such as SMART irrigation (www.smartirrigation.co.nz) to ensure smart and sustainable farming is practiced in New Zealand.

“Seeing first-hand the drought that is starting to crush many parts of the North Island we can only conclude that Ruataniwha is not only overdue, but essential if the Hawkes Bay is to survive. Creating and investing in water storage throughout New Zealand needs to continue to be a priority for the Government, particularly on the East Coast, which the recent UN Climate change report confirms will only get drier.”

In response to the EPA’s decision to turn down the Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s proposed ‘single nutrient’, Mr Curtis says this aspect of the decision wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“Phosphorus and nitrogen, along with sediment and riparian stream protection all need to be managed to protect water quality – each aspect is covered through the Farm Environment Plan approach to be implemented as part of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.”

“The EPA’s decision is a positive step to New Zealand unlocking its renewable resources for the benefit of all. It’s now down to the local farming and business communities to get on board – both as investors and also to increase initial uptake,” says Mr Curtis.

Federated Farmers says the scheme has now got to second base:

With the Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme getting the tick from a Board of Inquiry appointed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the concept of water storage has passed a major milestone but a greater one is to ensure it is financially viable.

“You could say Ruataniwha has now got to second base,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“First base was getting Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s leadership to take it forward while second base was the Board of Inquiry.

“Third base will be the scheme’s all-important financing and whether the nutrient limits make it viable for farmers to invest. It also has to be analysed to make sure it still works within the regional plan too.

“If these all stack up then it will be a home run once construction hopefully starts.

“Federated Farmers believes water storage is core economic, cultural, social and environmental infrastructure for a changing climate. . .

My farmer and I were in Hawkes Bay a couple of weeks ago with the Pastoral Management Group. We were briefed on the scheme and taken to the site.

The next day the two of us were asked to speak to farmers at Onga Onga.

My farmer finished his comments with a challenge:

“Go home tonight and think ahead 30 years. What will your grandchildren be saying?

“Will they be thanking you for being visionaries, of will they be saying you were silly old bastards?”

If you don’t grasp the opportunity you’ve got future generations will be thanking you, if you don’t, those who are left will be wondering how you could have been so stupid.

We have seen irrigation transform North Otago.

Ours was the first farm in our valley to get water and during droughts it used to stand out like a blot of green ink on parchment. Now, thanks to the North Otago Irrigation Scheme it’s the few dry paddocks which stand out.

This scheme, like yours, wasn’t cheap.

But drought’s expensive too and it’s not just drought that costs.

Have you every worked out what you lose by having to farm conservatively in the okay and good years because you can’t rely on getting enough rain?

The returns from reliable production in good years and bad more than justify the expense and the financial benefits aren’t confined to farms.

The people who work for us, service and supply us have benefited too, no longer subject to the boom and bust cycles which followed the vagaries of the weather. The wider district and the country are better off because we have water when we need it.

Imagine how much more prosperous towns like Waipukerau would be if you had water when and where you need it.

The benefits aren’t just financial, they’re environmental and social too.

We have fragile soils which blew over from the Waitaki Valley. They used to keep blowing in droughts, now they stay put.

The Waiareka Stream which was little more than a series of stagnant ponds much of the time now flows cleanly all year and native wildlife has re-established in it.

The NOIC scheme was the first to require environmental farm plans from all its shareholders. These are independently audited each year and supply of water is dependent on passing that audit.

Water has brought a social transformation too.

There were four houses on our farm and those of our two closest neighbours before we got water. Now there are 14 and we’re building a 15th.

My farmer and I are the oldest in any of those houses by more than a a decade. Most others are early 30s or younger and several of them are having children.

The average age of the district has plummeted as a result and for the first time since the ag-sag of the 1980s farmers’ adult children are returning home.

Most of the farms which have got water here have converted to dairying. But there is also cropping, most notably a large-scale operation which specialises in bird seed.

The conditions in the resource consent for Ruataniwha might preclude dairying for most of you but  your climate gives you the potential for many other land-use options not available to us down here.

You already know what you can grow when the weather favours you. With irrigation you’ll be able to do all that and more whatever the weather.

The Ruataniwha scheme is providing you the opportunity to do something not just for yourselves but for your province and for the future.

Don’t let this chance go by, Hawkes Bay.

Your grandchildren are depending on you.


Trust Power pulls plug on Rutataniwha

March 28, 2014

Trust Power has pulled the plug on a potential investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

. . . The power company terminated its memorandum of understanding with the council subsidiary, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), and Ngai Tahu Holdings, under which it would have invested between $50m and $60m of the total cost of the project.

“Trustpower has determined that it will not be possible to invest within its risk and return framework for a project of this nature,” the company said.

HBRIC said it “remains strongly of the view that the scheme offers the Hawke’s Bay community both significant environmental and economic benefits and that subject to securing contractual commitments to take water that the scheme will prove financially viable.”

HBRIC would continue to negotiate with Crown Irrigation Investments and recommended this week that council should invest up to $80m in the scheme. It was also looking for expressions of interest from investors in the region to participate in the scheme.

Trustpower’s general manager, operations, Chris O’Hara, said while there was clearly sufficient short-term appetite for the scheme to justify its construction, the long-term uptake by farmers and other irrigators was not strong enough for TrustPower to feel comfortable committing shareholders’ funds.

“Projected cashflows were not meeting a rate of return that would meet shareholder expectations,” he said. . .

Irrigation schemes have long term returns, they don’t usually generate much in the way of cash flow

The loss of a potential investor of that size is a setback but it does provide other opportunities:

Farmers and businesses in the Hawkes Bay need to act quickly to fill the investment gap opportunity left by TrustPower’s exit from the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

“There’s a wonderful opportunity here for Central Hawkes Bay farmers and businesses to get behind the dam to make it work. The Central Hawkes Bay community is now able to be a significant investment partner and take ownership of this project to really drive it forward,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

While some parties may naively present TrustPower’s withdrawal in a negative light, Mr Curtis says it was very common for irrigation schemes to have changing investment partners in the development stage and that TrustPower had only signed a memorandum of understanding.

“The benefit is that the withdrawal allows more local farmers and businesses to buy into the scheme and we know from history that local people driving local solutions always turn out to be the best for the community in the long run,” says Mr Curtis.

“The Hawkes Bay really needs this scheme to proceed as there’s nothing else of significance on the table that would have the ability to reinvigorate the Central Hawke’s Bay economy, create jobs and generate new business opportunities. You only need to look at the looming drought in the Waikato and Northland to see how the provinces suffer when rainfall is low in consecutive years. This is why it is so important to have the right irrigation infrastructure in place to mitigate environmental impacts. The flow-on effects are felt by everybody, not just those working in agriculture.”

“The Ruataniwha scheme is exactly the sort of irrigation scheme New Zealand needs to bring new life to regions like the Hawkes Bay, allowing many of its rural towns to thrive again,” says Mr Curtis.

“IrrigationNZ encourages all potential investors in the Ruataniwha scheme to come to our conference being held in Napier for the first time in just over a week’s time (7th-9th April). You’ll find out everything you need to know about the benefits of investing in water management and how other regions in New Zealand have progressed their water schemes. It couldn’t be timelier to bring an irrigation expo and global irrigation experts to the Hawkes Bay as we’ll be discussing Ruataniwha within a wider debate looking at the future of irrigation in New Zealand.”

Hawkes Bay is drought-prone.

The RWSS would provide very effective insurance against dry weather with significant economic, environmental and social benefits.

The long term pay off from irrigation is immense but it takes a big commitment up-front to get it off the ground.


Rural round-up

March 13, 2014

Will Lincoln survive? – Tony Chaston:

Lincoln University is awash in rumour as it undergoes a major restructure of it’s workforce in a bid to survive.

There are reports it is financially stretched.

Earthquake payments have yet to be assigned even though Canterbury University has received theirs and it was recently revealed Lincoln has lost its bid for major funding for its Centre of Research Excellence group.

Voluntary redundancies are being proposed and many long-term staff fear the next step will be forced redundancies.

Staff morale is said to be low and the discord between the academics and management is growing as the University searches for a new direction. . .

Succession a key focus of young farmers’ business management program in Year of the Family Farm:

With 2014 the International Year of the Family Farm, the pressing issue of farm succession will be a key focus of this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program.

The program – which is designed to strengthen the operational and strategic skills of tomorrow’s farm leaders – will cover succession planning for farm businesses, along with a range of topics including leadership, business planning and financial and economic management.

Applications are now open for the 2014 Farm Managers Program, which will be held in Victoria in June. . .

Pakeha farmer doing it for whanau:

A Pakeha farmer who manages two Maori-owned farms with his Maori whanau near Whakatane is encouraging other farmers to form partnerships with Maori Land Trusts.

Peter Livingston is the farm advisor for both the Putauaki Trust’s Himiona Farm and Ngati Awa Farm Limited’s Ngakauroa Farm.

The two farms are finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Awards celebrating Maori farming excellence. . .

Drones Could Revolutionize Agriculture, Farmers Say – Gosia Wozniacka:

Idaho farmer Robert Blair isn’t waiting around for federal aviation officials to work out rules for drones. He and a friend built their own, outfitting it with cameras and using it to monitor his 1,500 acres.

Under 10 pounds and 5 feet long nose to tail, the aircraft is the size of a turkey and Blair uses it to get a birds-eye view of his cows and fields of wheat, peas, barley and alfalfa.

“It’s a great tool to collect information to make better decisions, and we’re just scratching the surface of what it can do for farmers,” said Blair, who lives in Kendrick, Idaho, roughly 275 miles north of Boise.

While Americans are abuzz about Amazon’s plans to use self-guided drones to deliver packages, most future unmanned aircraft may operate far from the nation’s large population centers.

Experts point to agriculture as the most promising commercial market for drones because the technology is a perfect fit for large-scale farms and vast rural areas where privacy and safety issues are less of a concern. . . .

Investment opportunity in Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme;

Qualified Hawke’s Bay investors are being given the opportunity to express their interest in investing in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC Ltd) has released a Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) calling for expressions of interest from qualified locals interested in a potential investment in the water storage scheme.

Interested parties are not being asked for money now. They have until the end of April to indicate their interest in the proposal, and will then be given detailed information on the investment opportunity via an Information Memorandum which will include modeled cashflows and further specific information that is currently commercially sensitive. The Information Memorandum is due for release in May 2014. . . .

NZ develops world-first solution to improve ATV use:

Trial underway at Landcorp with Blue Wing Honda and Blackhawk Tracking Systems

Blue Wing Honda have engaged Blackhawk Tracking Systems to develop a world-first solution to help improve ATV safety with a focus on driver behaviour and communication.

Called Farm Angel, the Blackhawk technology is being trialled by Landcorp Farming Ltd, which is committed to improving safety on farms. Landcorp will trial the equipment on around 60 ATV and Side by Side vehicles.

“This is a unique solution which will enable rider/driver behaviour to be monitored, modified and improved” says Blue Wing Honda General Manager Alan Petrie. “The aim is to save lives before they need to be saved, but should an accident unfortunately occur, Farm Angel will also assist in the recovery of seriously injured or trapped riders.

“We have been working with Blackhawk for some time to create the right system that not only helps the ATV rider get out of trouble quickly by sending an immediate automated alert to a first response Call Centre, but also improves on-farm communication while giving peace of mind to farmers, their employees and their families.” . . .

New Zealand wine Trust funds valuable research:

The Cresswell Jackson New Zealand Wine Trust has awarded its first research grant.

Under the broad objective of enhancing the success of the New Zealand wine industry, the Trust awarded the grant to scientist Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University. The study is in collaboration with Adelaide-based Phil Reedman MW, the University of Burgundy in France as well as London University and Oxford University in the UK.

The overall goal of the project is to provide sound, scientifically-based information concerning specific aspects of wine tasting and wine judging.

The study aims to investigate the influence of contextual variables on qualitative and quantitative aspects of sensory evaluations by testing whether wines are perceived as tasting ‘different’ under particular conditions. . .

Rockburn Wines Shine in China’s Biggest and Most Prestigious Wine and Spirits Competition:

Rockburn Wines has just been awarded an impressive four Double Gold CWSA Best Value medals at the China Wine and Spirits Awards Best Value 2014.

Double Gold Medals were handed out to Rockburn’s 2012 Pinot Noir, 2013 Pinot Gris, 2010 Chardonnay and 2013 Devil’s Staircase Pinot Gris in the blind tasting alongside the most famous brands in the world including 4,350 wines and spirits from 35 countries. The Rockburn 2009 Riesling also received a Gold Medal.

Having won a Double Gold for their 2009 Chardonnay in last year’s competition, Rockburn are once again honoured to add these latest accolades from a competition which is “the ultimate authority for wines and spirits in Hong Kong and China.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2014

Chinese checkers – Hugh Stringleman:

New Zealand’s infant formula exporters and dairy processors are braced for a Chinese shakedown of brands, premises and regulatory compliance that could lead to severe restrictions on trade.

Teams of auditors from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA) are due in early March.MPI,

They will choose where they go from more than 350 potential company sites and descend on premises with little warning, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has advised.

Smaller, independent infant formula exporters also fear new Chinese regulations addressing the proliferation of NZ brands are imminent. . .

Seals can pass TB to beef cattle:

A new scientific paper has documented cases of fur seals passing a strain of bovine tuberculosis to New Zealand beef cattle.

Over the last 20 years there have been seven documented cases of cattle catching a strain of Tb after coming into contact with the fur seals, three on beaches in the North and South Islands and four in the Chatham Islands.

TBfree New Zealand national disease manager Kevin Crews says the purpose of the paper was to document the cases, which are believed to be the only ones recorded in the world. . .

Pressurised irrigation water to the farm gate with Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme:

Irrigation water available to farmers using the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme will be delivered to their farm gates ‘under pressure’; potentially saving each operator significant costs in on-farm infrastructure and energy costs.

The news comes as negotiations continue to move forward with joint venture OHL-Hawkins, the RWSS preferred consortia.European Contractor, Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand’s largest privately-owned construction company have joined forces for the project.

RWSS Project Manager Graeme Hansen says being able to deliver the water closer to the farm gate than initially planned and providing it ‘under pressure’ is great news for farmers and part of the ongoing ‘optimisation’ of the scheme that has continued through the design phase negotiations. . .

Farm Jam is back for 2014  – Justene Taua :

The awesome event is back next year for another round of BMX, FMX and fun   SAVE THE DATE! NZ Farm Jam organisers have announced 1 March 2014 as the date for next year’s instalment of the epic two-wheeled action-sports event.   Fresh off a highly successful 2013, organisers Dan and Brett Frew have already put the wheels in motion to ensure their unique Jam contest continues to evolve as one of the world’s premier multi-discipline events. . . .

Deane’s bed of roses – Alison Francis:

UNFORTUNATELY for Cabarlah farmer Byron Deane, a bunch of roses just doesn’t cut the mustard come Valentine’s Day.

Working alongside his wife, Amanda, on their rose farm since 2002, Byron says by the time the clippers go down and the final bow is tied, a well-earned rest is in order for his Valentine’s Day.

“Because we work together on the farm, along with mum and dad, I don’t think a bunch of roses is really what she wants to see at the end of the day,” he jokes.

“We always have a bunch of roses at home on the kitchen table, but for Valentine’s Day it is usually chocolates, movies and dinner a couple of days after for us.”    . . .

GrainCorp’s $70m diversification move  – Andrew Marshall:

HOT on the heels of its move to upgrade oilseed processing facilities in Victoria, GrainCorp has confirmed it is spending a further $70 million building and expanding its bulk oil, fuel and chemical storage business.

Work has just started on foundations for a new bulk liquid facility to service the chemical industry next to GrainCorp’s Port Kembla grain export terminal on the NSW South Coast.

Construction is due finish by the end of the year.

In Brisbane GrainCorp’s big liquid terminals’ site at Pinkenba will add additional storage to be available from 2015. . .

Forestry Investment Attracts Top People:

FIEA’s upcoming conference on forest investment is drawing delegates from top management positions in both New Zealand and Australia as the opportunity for early-bird registration offers closes at the end of this week.

One of the reasons for the popularity of the Forest Investment and Market Outlook conference running in April in Melbourne and Auckland is the international keynote speakers. One of the keynote speakers at FIMO 2014 Gary Myers, managing partner at TimberLink LLC from Georgia, USA. With a good international speaker line-up in place, many TIMOs are registering delegates to attend the April conference – the third in this biennial series . . .


Rural round-up

September 28, 2013

Private Investors announced for Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme:

Two well-known New Zealand companies have signalled their intention to potentially invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Hawke’s Bay.

TrustPower Limited and Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation Limited (NTHC) have each signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Limited (HBRIC Ltd) to potentially invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Hawke’s Bay.  HBRIC Ltd is Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company and lead entity for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme which, if approved, has the potential to improve the water quality and quantity in the Tukituki River and reliably irrigate up to 30,000 hectares of land. 

All parties emphasise their commitment to deliver the best possible outcomes for the Hawke’s Bay region, across environmental, social, cultural and economic values.  Today’s announcement comes after significant combined investigations by the two potential investors with HBRIC Ltd. . .

Putting NZ dairy innovation on the world stage:

New Zealand-owned dairy technology innovator, Waikato Milking Systems, will showcase its expertise in large-scale, high-volume milking systems at the World Dairy Expo in the United States.

The 100% New Zealand-owned and operated company will display a selection of its products at the show, including products specifically designed for high-producing, 24-hour dairy operations. The international show is in Madison, Wisconsin from October 1 to 5.

“The World Dairy Expo attracts leading dairy operators from all over the globe. It is a great opportunity to put New Zealand dairy innovation and technology on the world map,” Waikato Milking Systems Chief Executive Dean Bell says. “Our rotary milking systems are known for being reliable and robust with very little maintenance required – ideal for withstanding the rigours of 24 hour milking.” . . .

Central Otago country hotel wins accolade at national hospitality awards:

A Central Otago country hotel has taken out one of the top accolades at this year’s Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence. Chatto Creek Tavern near Alexandra won the Best Country Hotel title.

The Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence were announced in Queenstown last night. The Supreme Champion award was presented to The Batch Café in Invercargill. Winners were announced in 16 categories and encompassed a vast geographic spread of hospitality businesses throughout the country. . .

DINZ keen to ensure that AgResearch’s Future Footprint delivers for deer industry:

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is looking forward to working with AgResearch in the implementation of its Future Footprint plan, which AgResearch announced yesterday it would proceed with.

DINZ Deputy Chair, Jerry Bell, said today that “there has certainly been concern in our industry about the impact of the Future Footprint plan on deer research. Industry representatives have sought assurances that deer research will be not diminished and have received a strong commitment from AgResearch to our on-going deer research programme”.

“People at the Invermay campus have been absolutely critical in the success of our industry, but the reality is that deer research has been contributed to from a range of campuses for some time now. What’s of greatest importance is the quality of, and the investment in those people, not necessarily where they are”. . .

Top 40 Cooperatives And Mutuals Top $41Bn Revenue:

The 2013 New Zealand Cooperative and Mutual Top 40 list was launched by Minister of Commerce Craig Foss at the Cooperative Business New Zealand annual meeting in Wellington on 17th September.

Showing a combined annual revenue of $41,129,034,964 for the year 2011-12, the Top 40 cooperatives in New Zealand ranged from Fonterra Cooperative Group and Foodstuffs at the top through Southern Cross Healthcare Society and Mitre10 to Ashburton Trading Society, the Dairy Goat Cooperative and World Travellers, with the NZ Honey Producers Cooperative coming in at #40.

“I think it is important that New Zealanders sit up and take notice of cooperatives; they help drive the economy, respond to social change and create jobs in a variety of sectors. While they may often be low profile, they are significant economic actors,” said Minister Foss. . .

Progressive Enterprises confirms no sulphites in fresh meat:

Progressive Enterprises does not add sulphites to its fresh meat and the recent samples taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries, which showed positive results for sulphites, were not from any Countdown, SuperValue or FreshChoice supermarket. 

Progressive Enterprises is disappointed that media coverage of the MPI testing has provided an inaccurate and misleading impression that samples which tested positive for sulphites were found in major supermarkets. . .

Fonterra Farewells

Fonterra Co-operative Limited today farewelled its former Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Mason who retires from the Co-operative at the end of this week.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr Mason would leave behind an invaluable legacy: “Jonathan joined us in 2009, in the midst of the global financial crisis. He led our finance team through those difficult times, and the Co-operative emerged from the crisis in a strong position. He then helped to deliver our new capital structure with the successful implementation of Trading Among Farmers.

“During his time here, Jonathan has also dedicated himself to building and strengthening our finance function and team. . .

Former CFO:


Rural round-up

July 20, 2013

Threats to manuka honey industry found by scientists:

A team of scientists has discovered threats to the manuka honey industry.

Manuka honey fetches a premium price overseas because it contains special bioactive compounds.

But research that is yet to be published by a consortium of universities and Crown research institutes has discovered those properties can be faked by adding chemicals to normal honey, such as regular clover or low grade manuka honey. . .

Group to prepare for social impacts of irrigation scheme:

If the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme does get the go-ahead then it could have a significant impact on the way of life in parts of Hawke’s Bay.

The scheme’s advocates say more irrigation will allow for more intensive farming – which could have a huge impact on the region’s economy.

The proposed $660 million scheme will store 90 million cubic metres of water and take about three to four years to build.

With the social impacts of the dam in mind, a Socio-Economic Working Party has been established to help prepare the community for the changes the dam could bring. . .

Franks links with MIE as advisor – Alan Williams:

Commercial lawyer and former ACT Party MP Stephen Franks has joined the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group in an advisory role.

Franks had a background in advising on major agri-business issues, as well as having his own farming interests, MIE chairman Richard Young said.

He is the second appointment for the group, following that of agri-businessman Ross Hyland, who will oversee the setting up of an establishment group to work on meat-industry restructuring. . .

 

Country Life food for free – Robert Guyton:

Cosmo Kentish-Barnes, armed with microphone and recording device, visited Robyn and I recently.
Here’s the blurb from National Radio:

21:29 Robert and Robyn Guyton have planted a ‘Food Forest’ around their house in Riverton, Southland so no lawns need to be mowed and in season, the forest is dripping with organic fruit and nuts. . .

Agricultural Scholarships Develop Young Farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and New Zealand Young Farmers are calling for applications for a unique agricultural scholarship.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand each year offer one New Zealand Young Farmer member the opportunity to receive the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) Young Ranchers Scholarship and foot it with other young ranchers from Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United States at their annual conference.

“It’s a chance to gain valuable international connections to benefit New Zealand beef farming which is the driver for B+LNZ’s support and investment,” said Diane Falconer on the organisation’s behalf.  . .

Wolf Blass takes out prestigious ‘International Red Winemaker of the Year’ award at the International Wine Challenge.

Wolf Blass has been awarded the title of ‘International Red Winemaker of the Year’ at last night’s International Wine Challenge in London. 

This is the second time that Wolf Blass has been awarded this accolade, the first was in 2008.   

The International Wine Challenge (IWC) is recognised as the world’s finest, most meticulously judged and most influential wine competition in the world. . .


Rural round-up

June 27, 2013

New Agricultural Trade Envoy appointed:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced the appointment of Mike Petersen to the position of New Zealand Special Agriculture Trade Envoy (SATE).

The role is to advocate for New Zealand’s agriculture trade interests, from the perspective of a practising farmer.

“In the immediate term, Petersen’s priority will be to coordinate support among international farmer groups for a comprehensive outcome on agriculture in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations,” says Mr Groser.

“More broadly, he will be tasked with telling the story of New Zealand’s agriculture success in a post-subsidy world. New Zealand farmers are the least subsidised in all OECD member countries.”

Mike Petersen is a sheep and beef farmer from the Hawke’s Bay, and is currently serving as Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. He has held a variety of other governance roles in the primary sector. . . .

International Dam Expert Confident Hawke’s Bay Dam Site Ticks All the Boxes:

The man who could be leading one of New Zealand’s largest water storage projects has just inspected the Ruataniwha Dam site and given it the thumbs up.

Leading European Contractor, Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand’s largest privately owned construction company, have joined forces to bid for the design and construction phase of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Santiago Carmona is likely to be appointed construction manager if the OHL Hawkins bid is successful. He was among several experts from the OHL Hawkins team to inspect the site last week and says he’s very happy with the data he collected. . . .

Relief PKE animal part not foreign but systems needed:

Federated Farmers is relieved that DNA testing on an animal part found in Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) is now confirmed to be a local sheep. Originally suspected by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to be foreign, its discovery still shows the need for system improvements.

“Confirmation by DNA testing that the animal limb is local and a sheep is a huge relief for all farmers,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“Can we again stress that the Bay of Plenty dairy farmer who discovered the contaminant did the right thing in calling the Biosecurity hotline; 0800 80 99 66.

“If any one finds something untoward then calling the Biosecurity hotline is the correct response. An additional measure is to take photographs; almost all modern mobile telephones have in-built cameras. . .

Peak effort getting stock down – Stephen Jaquiery:

Ida Valley farmer Lochie Rutherford moves a sheep one sapping heave at a time, 1200m up Mt St Bathans yesterday. Trudging through the snow behind him is neighbour David Hutton.

The pair’s properties were not badly affected by last week’s snowfall and the two farmers have been helping rescue stock on nearby St Bathans Station.

Thick snow which blanketed inland Otago is thawing quickly on the flat but the race is still on to rescue stock trapped on the hill country. . .

Two new primary growth projects announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $6.88 million in Government funding for two new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes, which will deliver a major boost to productivity and environmental outcomes.

“A project led by the Whai Hua group will work to develop new probiotic dairy health products. This will help to add value to what we export by targeting high value niche markets. . .

Top 10 annoying cows to milk – Freddy Lawder On the Udder Side of the World:

Here is the list of the most frustrating, infuriating and unpleasant types of cows to milk. There is always at least one of each in the herd.

 
If you milk cows for a living, there is a good chance this will resonate with you!
 
10. ‘The Low Udder’
 
The Low Udder is as you might have predicted when the teats are particularly close to the floor. This is due to the cow being either very short or having a huge udder. It means there is not much room for the cluster and your hand when cupping on. The rubber pipes get kinked and stops the vacuum which prolongs the annoyance as your knuckles are scraped against the concrete.
 
9. ‘The Nervous Dancer’
 
The Nervous Dancer will not stand still whilst cupping on. She hops from one foot to the other, it is neither aggressive or likely to cause injury but it is incredibly irritating. It is if she is desperate for a wee and is trying to hold it in, or maybe she is just dancing to the music of The Rock FM.
 
8. ‘The Mud Grater’ 
 

The Mud Grater is often combined with the Nervous Dancer, and occurs when there is a load of dry mud on her legs. . .

(This is a post written by a young Englishman who spent last season working on a North Otago dairy farm. I’m working my way through all 59 posts, the first of which is here, and thoroughly enjoying his observations on dairying,  and sightseeing).

First Viognier for Clearview Estate takes out silver:

The first-ever Haumoana Viognier produced by Clearview Estate Winery has taken out a silver award at the Spiegelau International Wine Awards announced this week, while the Te Awanga winery’s star, its Reserve Chardonnay won another gold.

The 2012 Viognier is a special one-off limited release, while the Reserve Chardonnay adds to its consistent long pedigree of gold awards or five-star ratings; 50 in total since the first vintage won a gold award in 1991.
Clearview sourced grapes sourced from Black Bridge Vineyard on the gravel banks of the Tukituki River near Haumoana for the Viognier wine. Only 2000 bottles of the inaugural release were bottled last year. . .


Rural round-up

May 12, 2013

Export prices for lambs improving – Alan Williams:

Export market prices for lamb are improving but an early return to a $100 lamb is a question of all the planets aligning, Alliance Group general manager of marketing Murray Brown says.

“You’d be wanting a bit of exchange rate improving as well, but it’s not out of line,’’ Brown said.

If it happened, a big reduction in lamb numbers next season would be one reason, he said.

The signs were positive for the winter market and heading into next Christmas but some caution was still needed in forecasting prices. . .

Farmers may be able to invest in water storage project:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers who tap into the proposed Ruataniwha water storage scheme may get the opportunity to invest in it too.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is asking the Government to recognise the scheme as a project of national significance.

The council and its investment company have made applications to the Environmental Protection Authority seeking resource consents and a regional plan change required for the project, which would supply water to about 25,000 hectares of land from a dam on a tributary of the Tukituki River. . .

Dairy Farms staff and the shocking state of employee turnover – Milking on the Moove:

Well, gidday. Glen Herud here again and I am going to carry on talking about dairy farm staff. Last time I said that only a small percentage of New Zealand population are prepared to work on a dairy farm simply because of the long hours involved.

Today I want to talk about a report that was released by Dairy NZ in 2009 I think, called “Farming Smarter Not Harder.” They had some interesting figures.

  • They said that 50% of staff had been in their current job less than one year.  
  • The average length of service, so that’s the average time people stay with an employer was less than one year. 
  • 1/3 of dairy staff leave the industry every year. . .

Early start for lambing – Jill Galloway:

There are about 50 early lambs gambolling around a Kiwitea farm in Manawatu.

They are cute now, but they’ll be gracing dinner plates in Britain for Christmas, owners Jill Martin and Nigel Lintott say.

They had planned to have early lambs at two of their three properties.

“This breed are Dorset ewes, so they can have early lambs,” Lintott said.

$11m for Wagyu project – Marie Taylor:

The government has stumped up with $11 million for a project to produce high-value, marbled beef for premium markets in New Zealand and offshore.

What will the country get for its money and what does the project mean?

Hastings-based Firstlight Foods managing director Gerard Hickey is a key part of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project.

The seven-year PGP is worth $23.7 million and Hickey describes it as an investment to create a new category of NZ beef. . .

Fight to be the top dog – Ian Allen:

New South Island sheep dog champion Steve Kerr plans to celebrate this week’s success by getting his dog a bitch on the way home.

Mr Kerr, of Fairlie, said he was stopping near Christchurch to breed his winning huntaway, Dodge.

Mr Kerr and Dodge took out the straight huntaway title at the South Island Championships in Blenheim yesterday.

After four days of competition, only .25 points separated Mr Kerr and runner up Kerry Kilmister, of Tinui, and his dog Pulse.

Mr Kerr said it had been a hard week and it was time to celebrate.

The top of the hill got a little bit tricky but Dodge did a great job, he said. . .

 

 


Why waste water?

April 16, 2013

A woman once told me that water should be left to flow from the mountains to the sea as God intended it.

I wasn’t quick enough to ask her if God also intended oil to be left in the ground and if so was she going to stop driving a car.

Not everyone uses God as a reason to oppose irrigation but the objections by some of a dark green persuasion have a religious fervour which I don’t understand.

Irrigation has positive economic, environmental and social impacts and the absence of it where it’s needed inflicts a very high cost.

New Zealand has “heaps” of water, but the country is not good at using it efficiently, says Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, as the country suffers one of the worst droughts in 70 years.

“We let most of it run out to sea in the winter, and the economy gets whacked, (by drought)” Wills said. . .

Government officials now believe the drought could carve as much as $2 billion out of the economy.

After selling off lots of stock because of the lack of grass and feed, farms were now like supermarkets with only half their shelves full.

“It is very hard to make money on that basis,” Wills said and when they restocked it would be at higher prices than when they bailed out and sent stock off to the works.

“It will be a tough few years to go, the impact will go on for some time,” Wills said.

There would be a “good number” of farmers making losses this year, but he hoped only a small number would be pushed to the wall and forced to sell up.

Fertiliser spending had already halted so trucks and planes were not moving and that meant a tough impact on provincial towns.

“Belts will be tightened and chequebooks put away,” Wills said. . .

But for all drought-hit farmers: “If winter comes early it will be tough,” Wills said. “A lot of farmers are still on a knife-edge and a lot will depend on what happens next month, if we get some more rain and more warmth.

“Drought is far from over when the rain comes; that’s just the start of the recovery.”

Farmers had to get through the latest drought, but plan better to get through similar future events, Wills said.

“We have massive potential in this country to sensibly and carefully irrigate vast areas of land,” Wills said.

There were big-scale proposals to help make more parts of the country less prone to drought. . .

These include the $230 million Ruataniwha water storage scheme in Hawke’s Bay.

It is proposed a public-private scheme will build a dam west of Waipukurau that would hold 90 million cubic metres, capable of eventually irrigating 30,000 hectares. At present, just 6000 hectares of land in Hawkes Bay is irrigated.

“That’s on a big scale to be more efficient, so there’s lots we can do,” Wills said, to lessen the impact of drought, including water storage, pasture management and different feed regimes and breeds that cope with drought.

The Ruataniwha scheme would build “sensible” resilience into the economy.

In South Canterbury, the Opuha dam irrigation schemes made the area “substantially” drought proof.

The Wairarapa Water Use Project plans to irrigate more than 60,000 hectares and fuel a boom in farming in the region. But the nine proposed reservoirs would also destroy 35 homes, sever roads and flood land, with local home owners concerned about the secretive process.

But Wills said water storage and irrigation had wider benefits.

“It is not just for farmers. It is for the entire economy,” he said, with the 2008 drought costing the country $2.8 billion. Those costs could be mitigated far more than they are today.

Government studies of Opuha suggest that every 1000ha irrigated created 27 jobs and injects $7.7 million into the local economy. With 30 potential projects covering around 1 million ha up the eastern seaboard that’s about $7.5 billion extra revenue for the country each year and 27,000 new jobs. . .

A few decades ago farmers often waited for government help before making decisions. Now there are no subsidies they know they have to make decisions early, and to be prepared for drought.

Wills says most farmers are good at responding to the signals of drought.

He changed the way he farmed dramatically after the last bad drought in 2007.

“This has been tough, but we have got through this drought much better than 2007, because we have done dramatic things,” he said.

In 2007, his farm had 85 per cent sheep and the balance in cattle. This year he had 60 per cent cattle and just 40 per cent sheep. “We massively changed,” he said.

Wills farms in hill country in Northern Hawke’s Bay, but after the 2007 drought he built 60 new dams for stock water, which was a cheap way to store water.

“We learnt last time, when you run out of water, you run out of options,” he said. “We get plenty of rain in the winter, just not enough in the summer”. . .

That’s where storage, for stock water and irrigation comes in.

Why waste water when there’s too much when it’s possible to store it?

If you accept that some use of water is alright, taking it from rivers at high flow and storing it until it’s needed has the least impact on rivers and a big impact on soil health, pasture growth and farming profitability.


Rural round-up

January 30, 2013

Hard going for independent dairy firm; more competition unlikely in milk processing – Tony Chaston:

Is there still a place for more competition in the NZ dairy industry with Fonterra being such a dominant force?

This article looks at 10 years of business by the number two dairy processor Open Country Dairy which has been characterised by fights with big brother to get a fair crack at the market, and challenges to be consistently profitable.

This fight to compete with Fonterra has affected nearly all the processing minows in NZ and many have had to acquire overseas capital and increased shareholder investment to stay afloat. . .

Six finalists contend for 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year title:

The Dairy Women’s Network has announced the names of the six women who will progress into the final round of judging for the 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

They are:
• Juliet MacLean, chief executive Synlait Farms Limited, Rakaia
• Justine Kidd, business manager BEL Group, Waipukurau
• Kath Taylor, dairy veterinarian and Mastitis consultant, VetSouth Limited, Winton
• Kathryn van den Beuken, farm owner/operator and key account manager AgITO, Rakaia
• Leonie Guiney, farm owner/operator, Fairlie
• Sarah Watson, farm supervisor Canterbury, MyFarm, West Melton. . . .

Proposed changes to Rural Post and the NZ Post Deed:

Federated Farmers is to consult its membership on proposed changes that could radically reshape the delivery of physical mail to over half a million New Zealanders in rural areas.

“NZ Post deserves praise for the way it has worked with Federated Farmers, Rural Woman NZ and the other rural stakeholders,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“This will largely not come as a shock because we are living through a fundamental shift in technology. The decline in physical mail is offset by the rise of electronic mail.

“Commercially, NZ Post’s business model must either evolve or face extinction but I doubt many people can seriously argue the status quo is tenable. . .

Alliance Group Welcomes Primary Growth Partnership Collaboration Programme:

Leading meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has welcomed the launch of an initiative designed to improve farmer profitability.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has approved a commitment of up to $32.4 million, matched by industry, from MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership Fund (PGP) for the red meat sector’s new Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

Grant Cuff, chief executive of Alliance Group Limited, one of the founding organisations taking part in the initiative, said . . .

Actually, The $58K From 20 Cows Is Not That Easy – Milking on the Moove:

In my last post, How To Make $58,788 Per Year With 20 Cows. I talked about how a simple dairy can be set up for quite a small investment of just over $100,000 and the milk can be sold direct to the customer.

I hoped the post would encourage people to think differently about dairy farming and the possibilities available. 

It’s certainly a good illustration of how profitable a business can be if it can retain the whole retail price.

Warning!

It’s not quite that simple.

It’s easy enough to buy a few cows and build a cheap dairy to process the milk. That’s easy. There are plenty of experts who can design or build the components for you. . .

 Hawkes Bay water project boon for Maori workers:

The spokesperson for four hapu in Central Hawke’s Bay says it’s vital local Maori play a key role in a proposed $220 million water storage project.

The regional council’s Ruataniwha water storage scheme would see a dam built on the Makaroro River to store 90 million cubic metres of water which could irrigate 22,000 hectares of farmland. . .

Nearly 75% of Kiwi women not getting enough calcium:

We all need calcium for strong bones and teeth as part of a healthy lifestyle, but studies show that nearly 75 per cent of New Zealand women aren’t getting the recommended amount of dietary calcium in their day[1].

If eating sardines and tofu doesn’t tickle your fancy however, Anchor and Osteoporosis New Zealand have now made it easy to top up your daily dietary calcium with the launch of a calcium enriched spread.

Endorsed by Osteoporosis NZ, Anchor Dairy Blend Calci+ spread is the first calcium enriched spread that not only provides the goodness of New Zealand dairy and is spreadable straight from the fridge, but also offers 10 per cent of your recommended dietary intake (RDI) of calcium. . .

NZ to run agricultural training programme in Chile:

New Zealand is to run an agricultural training project in Chile.

The Chilean government has announced that New Zealand will be running the four-year initiative, aimed at revamping agricultural productivity in the South American country.

Chile says it hopes the programme will help improve the effectiveness of the agricultural subsidies it pays its farmers and attract more skilled workers to the sector. . .


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