Rural round-up

15/08/2021

Farmer who supplies neighbours’ water says he’ll stop if forced to register  – Bonnie Flaws:

Tararua farmer Roger Barton​ supplies his lifestyle block neighbours with water when their rainwater tanks run low. He says it’s “neighbours being neighbours” and he doesn’t charge them.

“They’ve got two tanks and they manage that carefully and are generally fine. But if things get tight they run a hose pipe from our system overnight and over four or five nights the tank gets filled. They don’t have to get the water truck out.”

The water comes from a creek at the fringe of the Tararua ranges. Barton does not treat his water, but uses a filter. His neighbours had an ultraviolet treatment system because they were reliant on rainwater, and this would also treat Barton’s water.

“I think that is fine, sane and sensible. Why I should have to treat it before they receive it I do not know.” . .

200 exemptions for dairy workers took at best – Jason Herrick:

I have been working behind the scenes and in the media around staff shortages and reuniting families of our migrant staff in my sector.

I do this because I see it as part of my responsibility I choose to take on as sharemilker Chair for Southland Federated Farmers,  trying to get the government to see sense and allow staff to come to NZ to fill much-needed roles.

Alongside heaps of others, the government said yes to was the 200 exemptions for dairy workers and their families, I see this as token at best, a gesture to keep us quiet – because they put conditions on the exemptions that have kept the likes of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and MPI busy to negotiate better conditions. . .

Groundswell NZ presents petition on ‘unworkable’ regulations to parliament – Laura Hooper:

A Groundswell NZ co-founder has presented the group’s petition against what it calls “unworkable regulations’’ for farmers to the Government.

Last month, Groundswell NZ took to the streets alongside thousands of supporters in around 50 towns across New Zealand to protest against regulations, including compulsory sowing dates, winter grazing rules and the “ute tax”.

On Thursday, group co-founder Laurence Paterson and Rural Advocacy Network chairman Jamie McFadden presented a petition, calling for a review of some regulations, to the Environment select committee.

The petition originally began to call for a review of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which the group says applies a “one-size-fits-all” approach on sowing dates, winter grazing and best catchment practises. . .

 

Push for govt  incentives to producebio-fuel from local forestry waste – Jonathan Milne:

Warnings that existing ethanol-blended biofuels can’t be used in most storage tanks and pipelines – so new Sustainable Biofuel Mandate will come at a cost.

The clock is ticking at Marsden Point oil refinery. Chief executive Naomi James says they have mere months to reach agreement on converting the refinery to a biofuels production facility, for local forestry waste, before they are forced to begin laying off staff and decommissioning plant.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed interest in the potential to convert the refinery to biofuel production, and James confirms they are in talks with government. But they need quick decisions because once they lose skilled engineers, they won’t be coming back; once they decommission big plant like the hydro-treater unit, there is no turning back.

James confirmed that in its submission on the planned Sustainable Biofuel Mandate, Refining NZ is arguing for government incentives for domestic biofuel production, like grants or Emissions Trading Scheme exemptions. . .

KiwiSaver provider Booster invests over $10m into avocado grower Darling Group – Tamsyn Parker:

The private equity investment arm of KiwiSaver provider Booster has invested more than $10 million into buying a 42 per cent stake in Katikati-based avocado grower and exporter Darling Group.

Booster, which has around $3 billion invested in its KiwiSaver scheme and is the 10th largest provider, is one of the few KiwiSaver schemes which invests in unlisted private companies through its Tahi LP fund.

Private company investment offers the potential for higher returns but are also a less liquid investment as their shares are not traded on a public market making it harder to sell out quickly.

Tahi already owns a number of wineries, as well as having stakes in Sunchaser Avocados, Dodson Motorsport and financial services company Lifetime. . . 

Livestock farm working dogs in Australia and New Zealand tested in Cobber Challenge – Chris McLennan and Daina Oliver:

The endurance athletes of Australia’s sprawling livestock farms are battling it out to claim the title of 2021 champion working dog.

Over three weeks, 12 loyal canines will run hundreds of kilometres in the course of their daily jobs herding sheep and cattle.

The Cobber Challenge celebrates and tests the endurance of working dogs and this year, for the first time, the Australians will be pitted against competitors working across the Tasman.

GPS collars will track their distance, working duration and speed over 21 days from Monday, August 16 and points will be awarded based on daily activity. . .


Rural round-up

23/06/2018

NZ sheep farmers enjoying stellar lamb season with prices reaching lofty heights, AgriHQ says – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand sheep farmers, whose fortunes in recent years have been overshadowed by their dairy farmer colleagues, are having a strong season with lamb prices approaching record levels, according to AgriHQ’s Monthly Sheep & Beef report for June.

“This season continues to move from strength-to-strength for sheep farmers, mainly due to the incredible heights slaughter prices are reaching,” AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report. “Winter contracts within the North Island and lower supplies in the South Island have pulled lamb slaughter prices up by 30 cents/kg in both regions.” . . 

 The key to successful farm environment plans – Jamie McFadden:

Before the Government decides whether Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) should be voluntary or compulsory we in the Rural Advocacy Network suggest a look at recent experience around New Zealand and overseas.

The voluntary farm plan approach is focused on actions to achieve outcomes. It has been very successful in regions like Taranaki where over two-thirds of hill country now has farm plans.

The key to the success of the voluntary model is trusted advisers working in partnership with landowners. Farm plans are tailor-made recognising that every farm is different and that people learn in different ways. The advisers have a wide range of practical knowledge covering all aspects of environmental management – biodiversity, wetlands, water quality, pests, erosion and sediment loss. It is a whole-farm approach. . .

Arable farmers welcome lift in wheat prices after two poor years – Heather Chalmers:

Central Canterbury arable farmers Syd and Chris Worsfold and their son Earl grow cereals in half their farm and are welcoming a $100 a tonne lift in wheat prices this season.

Syd Worsfold, named Federated Farmers’ arable farmer of the year after 30 years of industry involvement, said the increase was a return to more competitive pricing, after two years of poor returns.

Milling wheat contracts for the 2019 harvest were $420 to $450 a tonne, depending on the grade and variety sown, while feed grains were $380 to $400 a tonne. . .

Pig farmers question future – Annette Scott:

Market demand is slow and pig meat prices have taken a dive in recent weeks as pork producers seriously question their future.

Pig meat prices dropped 10 cents a kilogram in June with cost pressure really coming on from imported pig products, New Zealand Pork farmer spokesman Ian Carter said.

“Imports are coming in really cheap and compromising domestic prices.

“This is where Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) is very important to us,” Carter said.

Misleading domestic food industry advertising is also a concern. . . 

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater to be saved every day:

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater (about the same as 18 milk tanker loads) will be saved every day thanks to the development and installation of a ground-breaking reclaimed water system at the local Fonterra site.

The site team came up with an innovative way to reuse water from condensation that’s produced during the milk powder manufacturing process. 

Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s COO Global Operations, says the water-saving initiative is a testament to the Pahiatua team’s innovative and can-do approach to sustainability. . .

Synlait confirms commissioning date of new Pokeno site:

Synlait has confirmed its new nutritional manufacturing site in Pokeno, Waikato, will be commissioned for the 2019 / 2020 season.

The functionality of Synlait’s first nutritional spray dryer at Pokeno has also been expanded as a result of forecast customer demand.

The nutritional spray dryer will be capable of producing a full suite of nutritional, formulated powders (including infant-grade skim milk, whole milk and infant formula base powders) and the capacity has increased to 45,000 metric tonnes (MT) from an initial 40,000 MT. . .

She Shears – directed by Jack Nicol:

Presented by Miss Conception films, who focus on female-led stories, this fresh dispatch from the heartland introduces two legendary shearers – and three in the making – as they head for black-shirt glory at the Golden Shears.

When a Kiwi girl sets her heart on becoming a shearer there’s not a lot that’s going to stop her, as the five women profiled in this lively doco happily testify. Central Otago’s Pagan Karauria admits it was tough getting a gig at the start, but with her champion dad staunchly behind her, she’s made the shearing shed the focus of her career, not just as a competitive shearer, but as an ace wool sorter and mentor to other young women. Catherine Mullooly, from the King Country, packs her skills for some enterprising OE. With whānau solidly backing them, each of these women strive, more than anything, to better themselves. . .

 


Govt business what not how

30/10/2017

The Green Party is sticking to its plan to reduce dairy farming:

Prior to the election, the Green Party said it would pay more than $136 million for farmers to move to more sustainable practices and if it were in government it would invest in a Sustainable Farming Fund.

Green Party leader James Shaw said a priority would be putting together a package to help farmers make the transition from dairy farming.

He said the Greens wouldn’t be pushing for a cap on the number of cows.

But Mr Shaw said dairy farmers would need help to change.

“A lot of dairy farmers are still heavily in debt from the acquisition of the land and also the conversions and also it’s a pretty difficult time when the price of milk is still somewhat depressed.

“So you know the thing we’re going to be pushing hardest on is making sure that there is a package available for farmers to help them make that transition.”

Mr Shaw said dairy farmers needed to make the transition to more sustainable methods of farming.

Setting standards for water quality is the business of government.

Dictating how that is achieved is not.

It might be that dairying isn’t appropriate in some places. But other land uses aren’t necessarily any kinder to the environment and it could be that a change in management could make dairying a better option than any other form of farming.

Dairying has got a bad reputation, some of which might be justified. But some is based on historical practices no longer in use and some on alternative facts not supported by science.

Some of the latter comes from organisations with an anti-dairying agenda.

Jamie McFadden, a member of Federated Farmers North Canterbury executive, rightly asks is our freshwater fishery really in crisis?

Last year Fish & Game sought and received approval from the Department of Conservation (DoC) to place a winter fishing ban on all North Canterbury rivers below State Highway 1.

At the time, Fish & Game claimed the North Canterbury freshwater fishery was in crisis and it was because of farming.

Both DoC and the Rural Advocacy Network have requested the evidence supporting these claims. After 18 months no evidence has been forthcoming. DoC now realise they have been misled and have said they will not renew the fishing ban unless Fish & Game provide evidence.

Earlier this year I attended a public meeting in Rangiora organised by Fish and Game where the fishing ban was discussed. I presented our submission challenging the lack of evidence behind the fishing ban, particularly for the Hurunui and Waiau rivers. A show of hands was taken and the clear majority of the 70 attendees felt the ban should not apply to these rivers. Of those who fished the Hurunui and Waiau the majority thought these were healthy fisheries. . . 

Clearly there are a range of factors affecting our freshwater fishery and increasing fishing pressure, particularly near Christchurch, is one of them.

A local fishing guide has for several years been undertaking the annual trout spawning surveys in the Waimakariri River. This year he reported better numbers than have ever been seen and some superb stream improvements by many farmers – the future is bright.

In late autumn I checked the middle reaches of the Hurunui River catchment and photographed numerous shoals of 10-20 trout. In one pool alone I counted 65 good-sized healthy trout.

A balanced report on the state of our freshwater fishery would acknowledge there are some healthy fisheries, concerns with some other fisheries and a range of factors affecting both. It is disappointing that Fish & Game has made no attempt to correct their misinformation in the media.

Many farming families are Fish & Game licence holders and enjoy the recreational opportunities our rivers provide. Farmers want to know what they need to do to fix any water quality problems they are causing.

There are many examples of farmers actively engaging in improving water quality and undertaking stream enhancements. Farmers want to work with organisations like Fish & Game but the continual attacks on farmers undermine the ability to achieve this.

We would like to see Fish & Game publicly drop the anti-farming broad brush ‘dirty dairy’ campaign, correct their misinformation in the media and develop a more constructive approach to freshwater issues.

Farmers, and others, are working to improve water quality and this report from Seven Sharp showing definite improvements in Taranaki dairy country.

Meanwhile, science is making progress with pasture species:

Research is in progress but plantain-based pastures may be useful for reducing nitrate leaching while maintaining or increasing milksolids production.

The urine patch is the major source of nitrogen loss to the environment on dairy farms and different forages can be used to reduce nitrate leaching, either by lowering the nitrogen loading in urine patches or increasing the nitrogen uptake from the urine patch.

Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL)

Research in Canterbury and Waikato the FRNL programme has found that urine-N concentration of cows grazing plantain was 56% lower than those grazing perennial ryegrass/white clover pastures, and 33% lower for cows grazing 50/50 pasture-plantain.

Within FRNL, diverse pastures that include plantain were identified as a promising tool for reducing N leaching. Modelling estimated that, at commercial scale, N leaching could be reduced by 10 and 20% when the area of the farm sown in diverse pastures was 20 and 50%, respectively. This was because of lower total urinary N excretion and lower urinary N concentration (Beukes et al. 2014; Romera et al. 2016).

Sustainability balances economic, environmental and social concerns.

Dairying generally gets ticks for its economic and social contributions and farmers and industry bodies like DairyNZ, are making good progress to address environmental concerns .

DairyNZ acting chair Barry Harris said last season saw dairy export earnings reach $13.4 billion, which is on par with the five-year average, and illustrates how well farmers have responded to the low milk prices of previous seasons.

“I see the decade ahead of us to be transformational for our sector. Never before have we had a stronger mandate for the dairy sector to concentrate on productivity – to produce more from less, and to do so sustainably,” says Barry.

“We support initiatives that incentivise farmers to use the best environmental practices. While the 2010s have been about dairy positioning itself for the changes ahead, I see the 2020s as heavily focused on making those changes.

“New Zealand’s environmental reputation, the reputation that gives us an advantage on the global market, relies on us upholding and improving our sustainability.” . . 

Thanks to good science, herd numbers can decrease while production increases.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said in 2016/17 national cow numbers fell to 4.86 million from 5 million previously, with the average herd size dropping five cows to 414.

“Yet production per cow set a new record – increasing by 9kg per cow (381kg MS/cow).” . . 

 

The government and its partners needs to stick to the what, not the how.

Good progress is being made and it will continue to be made not by political dictates but by good practice based on sound research.


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