Rural round-up

17/10/2021

‘Reality hasn’t hit’: Concern at low vaccine rate in rural Southland – Matthew Rosenberg:

As vaccine data rolls in for the backblocks of rural Southland, Jo Sanford says she feels concerned.

The Tūātapere Medical Centre practice manager is entrusted with trying to get as much of her community vaccinated as possible, but numbers remain low for much of rural Southland.

A lot of people have already made up their mind, she says, and despite her practice going the extra mile by calling patients, many won’t be moved.

Her concerns are pieces of a familiar mosaic: there is a growing divide between vaccination rates in urban and rural areas. And in Southland, a district that sprawls out into some of the most remote sections of the country, the theme holds true. . . 

Follow the leader – Rural News:

For a small milk processor, Tatua has been punching above its weight for many years.

Every year, towards the end of September the co-operative comes out with its annual results.

And every year it receives applause for showing the rest of New Zealand processors, including the world’s sixth largest milk dairy company Fonterra, a clean pair of heels when it comes to the final milk price for the previous season.

This year has been no exception. On September 30th, the Tatua board met to finalise its accounts for 2020-21 season. And, as is the tradition, Tatua chair Steve Allen and his board members then rang each shareholder to relay the good news. . . 

Avocado prices tumble, everyone’s going to run at a loss this year – Maja Burry:

Avocado growers are having a tough run this season, with large volumes of fruit coupled with weaker than usual demand pushing down returns.

The industry group New Zealand Avocado said less product was being exported to Australia because of an oversupply there of locally grown avocados, while in New Zealand Covid-19 lockdown restrictions had dented sales to restaurants and cafes.

Bay of Plenty grower Hugh Moore described the situation as a “perfect storm”. Another challenge for exporters was Covid-19 related freight delays and higher shipping costs, which made reaching markets in Asia harder than usual, he said. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2021-22 milk price manual:

Today, the Commerce Commission invited submissions on the draft report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Base Milk Price Manual for the 2021/22 dairy season. The Manual describes the methodology used by Fonterra to calculate its base milk price – the amount farmers receive from Fonterra for each kilogram of milk solids in a dairy season.

Our preliminary conclusion is that the Manual is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability dimensions of the purpose of the base milk price monitoring regime, with the exception of the rule for the asset beta. We now consider that a number of issues from previous years have been resolved and there is more transparency overall as a result of changes by Fonterra. . .

 

Sam Neill puts acclaimed Gibbston vineyard up for sale:

Renowned Kiwi actor Sam Neill is selling his Gibbston vineyard as he looks to grow his acclaimed Two Paddocks winery, presenting an outstanding lifestyle and income opportunity for a new owner.

Nestled in the heart of the celebrated Gibbston winegrowing district, The First Paddock is a certified organic vineyard in a stunning rural Otago setting, only 25 minutes from Queenstown.

The 8.33ha property boasts 4.6ha of pinot noir vines, plus 3.2ha of additional land that could be planted or developed to provide an idyllic Gibbston lifestyle. . .

Melrose Station offers fantastic finishing country :

The rare opportunity to purchase quality finishing country in Hawke’s Bay has presented itself, with Melrose Station’s subdivision opening up 390ha of quality land that lends itself well to intensive livestock farming.

Bayleys Hawke’s Bay salesperson Tony Rasmussen says with the back portion of Melrose already sold and committed to forestry, the station’s easier front country represents the best of what the district can offer. Its free draining productive soils have been accentuated by the property’s careful fertiliser plan across well farmed, easy country lending itself well to cultivation.

In the four years the present owners have had the property they have capitalised on some good seasons’ income, investing significantly back into the property. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/09/2021

Think about us – Rural News:

The dairy sector has a simple message for the Government – please take our plight seriously.

Frustration is rife among farmers because the Government seems to be paying lip service to a crucial sector that has kept the company’s economy buzzing for the past 18 months.

Like most primary producers, dairy farmers have been crying out for more overseas workers. However, it’s becoming clear that the Government isn’t genuine about helping dairy farmers.

In June, the Government announced that it will grant border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, comprising 150 herd managers or assistant farm managers and 50 farm assistants for critical-need areas only. Within that announcement they specified that herd managers be paid a salary of $79,500 and assistant managers a salary of $92,000 per annum. . .

Councils weigh pest impact – Neal Wallace:

Numbers of pests and game animals are rapidly increasing in parts of the country, regional councils report.

Successive mild seasons, reduced hunter pressure and growing resistance to rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), is leading to increased numbers of deer, goats, wallabies and rabbits in many areas.

The Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard says rabbit density differs across the region, but remains high in parts of Central Otago.

“Several factors influence rabbit populations, including lack of consistent control – and secondary control – by landowners, the naturally reducing impact of introduced viruses, climate change, land-use change, urban spread into historically rabbit-prone rural land and associated reduction in available control tools,” Howard said. . .

Escalating women leaders :

To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why’, says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

“For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Cram, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector “the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire”.

Cram says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Business grew from quest for flooring :

A business was born when some West Otago dairy farmers were floored by a problem.

White River Holstein Friesians owners Paul and Kyllee Henton struggled to find suitable flooring for their 600-cow wintering shed on their 171ha farm in Kelso.

The fruitless search motivated them to research, develop and manufacture their own flooring solution of heavy duty interlocking rubber mats.

They run their mat company Agri-Tech Imports alongside their 580-cow herd operation.

Mrs Henton, a registered veterinarian, said they had run the farm for 15 years after entering an equity partnership with her parents to buy the property. . . 

Tackling challenges of cheese foe decades – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Plucked from the lab and picked for his first production supervisor’s role in his early 20s, Richard Gray has been saying cheese for 23 years.

From test tubes to testing himself in leadership, Fonterra’s general manager of operations for the lower South Island is helping steer the dairy giant through perilous pandemic times.

Based at Edendale in Southland, Mr Gray said it had more or less been business as usual through the alert levels.

‘‘From the supply chain point of view there has been disruption with delays or longer lead time to deliver, but we’re still exporting well. But it’s the timing, having to adjust some of the production planning processes to allow for that longer lead time.’’ . .

Pocket knife fine sparks alarm – Chris McLennan:

Rural Australians have reacted with alarm over a fine dished out to a Queensland man for carrying a pocket knife.

Wayne McLennan, aged 75, was last week fined $100 for unlawful possession of a weapon because of a small pocket knife he carried in a pouch on his belt.

Many country people right around Australia wear the same, either a knife or a multi-tool, not for self-defence but for the hundreds of daily chores they may be called on to do while remote on their properties.

As one farmer said on social media last night, strapping his Leatherman to his belt in the morning was as automatic as pulling on his boots. . .


Rural round-up

24/08/2021

Covid-19: Level 4 lockdown in the middle of calving ‘not ideal’ – Lawrence Gullery:

Dairy farmers are hoping this week’s snap Covid-19 lockdown will be “short and quick” as most are still in the thick of calving or lambing.

Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said some farms remained short-staffed from last year’s lockdowns and so the physical drain was even greater this winter with fewer people around to help.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the alert level 4 lockdown on Tuesday night and Hahn said it would mean even more isolation for those working on the land at a time when they needed to stay connected.

”So really not ideal but hopefully we can be out of lockdown quickly.” . . 

Farmers are doing their share – Rural News editorial:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has delivered a sobering assessment of our planet’s future.

And like after most climate change reports, the blowtorch is put on the New Zealand dairy industry to do more.

Farmers are required by the Government to reduce methane emissions by 10% from 2017 levels by 2030.

And to deliver on the Zero Carbon Act commitments there’s a lot of work underway to help farmers reduce emissions, through He Waka Eke Noa – a partnership between the primary sector, government and Māori. 

Have policies in place now to protect farms from weather events – Peter Buckley:

I don’t doubt the climate is changing as it always has and that all the current policies and plans the politicians want to implement aren’t going to fix their concerns.

As usual, we continue to see flooding, weather bombs, fires affecting not only New Zealand but the world.

Why don’t these politicians think how can we support our people, communities, towns cities at the local level to adapt to the ever changing climate?

The recent flooding event in Canterbury is an example of where the politicians could have planned to prevent these types of events turning into disasters of this magnitude. . .

Smashed it! Country Calendar couple find the perfect avocado – Melenie Parkes:

It’s an all-too-familiar feeling for avocado fans – chopping into their favourite fruit only to be confronted with brown, blemished or stringy flesh. But that disappointment could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to David and Judi Grey.

The couple, who own Avogrey Avocados in Gisborne which features on Country Calendar this week, have developed three premium products that they promise always deliver perfect texture, great flavour, are larger than your average avo and also won’t oxidise once they are cut open.

“You might think it’s an exaggeration but we have never cut into one of these new varieties and found a blemish,” says David.

“They’re just superb quality. People who try them just won’t go back to any other varieties as long as we’ve got those available. They know the quality is there and the reliability is here. And we’re getting really, really good production from the trees from quite a young age.” . . 

Whanganui-based NZ Hempress to release new cosmetic range – Logan Tutty:

A Whanganui-based hemp company is on the verge of revealing its latest product range and has big plans for the future.

NZ Hempress is set to release its first cosmetic line in the coming weeks, called Herbeauty.

Company owner Lisa Gadsby is keeping the finer details under wraps for the time being.

“We are about three weeks out from launching a face mask and will be moving onto a couple of other additions to that range,” Gadsby said. . . 

 

Calls for safe tractor use as lorry driver shortage hits harvest:

Farmers forced to use their own tractors and trailers for harvest transport because of the current shortage of lorry drivers have been told to ensure safety by regularly checking brakes and hitch mechanisms.

Farmers have been issued advice by NFU Mutual to ensure that tractors and trailers are correctly matched and maintenance schedules are in place to minimise the risk of accidents.

The warning comes as the UK faces disruption to road transport because of a shortage of lorry drivers which is affecting deliveries to supermarkets, hospitality, the construction trade and agriculture.

NFU Mutual has also recommended that all tractor drivers take regular breaks to avoid fatigue and that routes are chosen which avoid congested roads as much as possible.

The warning comes as the UK faces disruption to road transport because of a shortage of lorry drivers which is affecting deliveries to supermarkets, hospitality, the construction trade and agriculture. . .  


Rural round-up

30/06/2021

Farm know-how needed to improve M bovis programme – Neal Wallace:

Ben and Sarah Walling have experienced every possible emotion in their dealings with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) during three Mycoplasma bovis incidents on their Southland farm, but their overriding sentiment is to laugh.

“You’ve got to learn to laugh about it or it just eats you up,” Ben, a Five Rivers calf rearer and bull finisher, said.

Despite that, he has a daily reminder of his situation; an ongoing legal dispute involving “hundreds of thousands of dollars” compensation sought from MPI, which he attributes to a rigid and inflexible system that ignores the reality of farming.

The dispute relates to the impact of falling beef schedule prices and supply contracts being cancelled while his compensation claim was settled. . . 

MPI failed farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Ashburton farmer Frank Peters, who was forced to cull stock twice in three years, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has failed farmers.

Peters, who milks 1,400 cows all year-round on the family farm told Rural News that a recent University of Otago study that found the Government’s response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was poorly managed and inflicted significant and lasting trauma on farmers was on the mark.

The two-year study included extensive interviews with farmers impacted by M. bovis in Southland and Otago.

Peters told Rural News that he would expect similar anecdotes from farmers whose stock were ravaged by the disease. . . 

Resource Management proposal positive on consultation, flawed in content:

The government should be applauded for a proper consultation process on replacement RMA legislation but Federated Farmers has significant concerns about local democracy being stripped away.

Reacting to the release today of an ‘exposure’ draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act, Feds Vice-President and resource management spokesperson Karen Williams said it was pleasing this initial round of submissions and select committee inquiry would be followed by a second select committee process early next year.

“If the poor process around the production of the unworkable Essential Freshwater regulations has taught us anything, it is to carry out a thorough and genuine consultation process, as distinct from the secret and exclusive process that led to that mess.

“A two-step consultation process for this first phase of replacement resource management laws is welcome,” Karen said. . .

Polar blast hits South Island – Neal Wallace:

Farmers are taking in their stride the first cold polar blast of winter, which has dumped up to 100mm of snow in parts of the South Island and is making its way up the North Island.

Plenty of advanced warning and the fact it has arrived in the middle of winter means farmers have not been caught out, although the snow has caused some access problems in Otago.

The snow missed flood-hit parts of Mid and South Canterbury, although the region has not avoided the single-digit wind chill.

WeatherWatch lead forecaster Phil Duncan describes it as a classic, normal winter polar blast, but for some areas in the path of the storm it will be the first snowfall for a number of years. . . 

Putting a number of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions :

A total of ten tools and calculators can now be used by farmers and growers to get an understanding of their current agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa Programme Director Kelly Forster says the second set of tools and calculators has been assessed, following the first tranche earlier this year. Assessed tools now include: Foundation for Arable Research’s (FAR) ProductionWise, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s GHG calculator (available in July), and Toitū’s Farm emanage.

The full list and the industries they cover: . . .

 

Try the word sorry for size anti-meat academics told – Shan Goodwin:

RED meat’s overarching representative body has taken direct aim at academics espousing anti-meat rhetoric in a sign industry leaders are fighting back hard on unsubstantiated claims made in the name of promoting plant-based products.

The Red Meat Advisory Council has written to the vice-chancellor and principal of The University of Sydney, Professor Stephen Garton, demanding a public apology for a university-branded media alert on the new food labeling senate inquiry.

The inquiry is looking into the use of words like meat and beef on the packaging of plant-based products that do not contain any animal products. . .

 


Rural round-up

05/04/2021

CCC submissions flood in – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets remain a contentious issue for the livestock sector, which is critical of Climate Change Commission recommendations for an even steeper reduction pathway than proposed in the Zero Carbon Act.

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are labelling the proposed new targets as unrealistic and not backed by robust science, economic or farm system analysis.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the revised target is a 13.2% reduction in biogenic methane emissions below 2017 levels by 2030.

“This represents a 32% increase in the level of ambition compared to the 2030 biogenic methane target contained in the Zero Carbon Act, which is to reduce methane emissions to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030,” McIvor said. . . 

Smith to push for more automation in the hort sector – Peter Burke:

More automation in orchards – that’s what Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says he’s going to push hard for in the coming 12 months.

He told Rural News that there is real growth in horticulture and the opportunity for more, but New Zealand as not solved the labour supply problem.

“Too much of the horticultural industry has been built off the back of immigrant labour and the risk of that is what we see now,” Smith says.

“If anything goes wrong with that supply chain of workers then you have massive problems. That is why there is a need for the investment in automation and we want to see this directed to what can be done in orchards.”

Milking shed ravaged by fire, community spirit gets farmers back up and running – Joanne Holden:

A South Canterbury farmer whose milking shed, built by his father, was ravaged by fire has got his dairy operation back on track, with a little help from his friends.

The 30-year-old Waitohi milking shed was “fully ablaze” when Hamish Pearse, and five of his staff, grabbed a fire hose each and attacked the flames, keeping them at bay until the fire brigade arrived with five appliances about 20 minutes later.

“The staff were pretty shaken up by the whole thing,” Pearse, of Waitohi, said.

“My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself . . . He came back to see his pride and joy burnt down.” . . 

Synlait ponders lack of profit – Hugh Stringleman:

Synlait may not make a profit this financial year because of sharply reduced orders from a2 Milk Company for packaged infant formula, rising dairy commodity prices and global shipping delays.

At the start of the season Synlait directors expected net profit in FY21 to be similar to last year’s $75 million, then in December they said net profit would be approximately half that of FY20.

They have now said the anticipated result for FY21 will be “broadly breakeven”, which includes the possibility of no profit overall and a small loss in the second half, which is already two months old.

When releasing its first-half results, Synlait said the December downgrade from major customer and minority shareholder a2MC was significant and sudden. . . 

Wyeth’s move west welcomed – Peter Burke:

A few weeks ago, Richard Wyeth took over as chief executive of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products and says his first impressions of the company and its people are positive.

It was only a few months ago he was head of the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company Miraka – a company he helped set up from scratch.

However, Wyeth says he’s really enjoying the new job at Westland and what’s really impressed him is the people in the business.

“There is a really strong desire to see the business do well and people are working really hard to do this,” he told Rural News. . . 

Scientists are testing vaccines for flystrike – Chris McLennan:

Scientists believe they are closing in on a commercial vaccine for flystrike.

Prototype vaccines have already been developed half way through a four-year $2.5 million research project between the wool industry and CSIRO.

A potential vaccine against flystrike has been the subject of decades of research work.

Blowfly infestation of sheep wool, skin and tissue results in an estimated $280 million losses to the wool industry. . . 


Rural round-up

26/03/2021

Sensible pause – Rural News:

Finally the Government has made a sensible move to temporarily pause the implementation of the impractical rules that accompany its proposed regulations on winter grazing.

Last week Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced a temporary delay, until 1 May 2022, of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect.

For months farmers, industry groups and councils around the country have highlighted the unworkability of the rules and that numerous issues need to be addressed. Hopefully, this extra time will ensure that both politicians and bureaucrats will now listen to the real concerns of farmers and councils, and implement rules that will actually work to benefit the environment and farming.

It is unbelievable that despite empirical evidence about how the IWG rules, that were part of the Essential Freshwater legislation passed in August last year, had a number of unworkable parts, ministers and bureaucrats took so long to act. This ‘we know best’ attitude needs to change as it is a huge hindrance to making any real progress in improving the country’s water. . . 

South Island Agricultural Field Days expects to draw 30,000 to N Canty – Hugo Cameron:

The Canterbury town of Kirwee is expecting to see up to 30,000 people turn up for one of the country’s largest regional field days events this week.

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, founded in 1951, is the oldest show of its kind in New Zealand and is taking place through until Friday.

Event chairperson Michaela McLeod said she was looking forward to bringing the sector together after a tough year due to Covid-19.

“There have been a number of A&P shows and other events cancelled around the country. They are such important events for farmers and traders, and I know it’s been very hard on a lot of people not having them,” she said. . . 

Anger, guilt and optimism: young farmers’ complicated relationship with climate change – Charlie O’Mannin:

As farming confronts its climate impact, Charlie O’Mannin speaks to the next generation about how they feel. In short: it’s complicated.

“If you’re waking up every morning feeling awful about the job you’re in, feeling like you’re the reason climate change is happening, like you need to counteract your emissions, like you need fewer cows, well what would be the point in waking up and getting the cows in?”

Briana Lyons belongs to a generation of young farmers facing a radical future.

Agriculture makes up 48 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Ministry for the Environment’s 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report. . . 

Two million tonnes of greenhouse gas up for grabs with minimal production hit:

Ravensdown’s recommendations to the Climate Change Commission focus on three specific solutions that can save two million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year with minimal impact on agsector production.

The farmer-owned co-operative’s submission sent yesterday points out the potential savings of using inhibitors that reduce the amount of nitrous oxide being emitted and lost from granulated nitrogen fertiliser and livestock urine.

“Proven urease inhibitors are available for use at scale across New Zealand. Nitrification inhibitors have shown promise in the past and should also be pursued for the future. For both, we’re asking that the Commission looks into how obstacles to adoption can be overcome,” said Mike Manning, General Manager Innovation and Strategy at the co-operative.

“We agree with the Commission that agsector productivity is key – especially when the country is facing such debt and economic uncertainty. At the same time, we believe in smarter farming, in New Zealand’s ambition to hit its climate goals and in the need for practical, scalable innovations to do so,” added Mike. . . 

Leading kiwifruit companies to amalgamate:

Seeka Limited (“Seeka”) and Opotiki Packing and Cool Storage Limited (“OPAC”) are to join via amalgamation. This transaction will see Seeka expand further to be operational in all of New Zealand’s major kiwifruit growing regions in a deal that continues to consolidate the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

The OPAC shareholders will receive new shares in Seeka at the ratio of 1.4833 Seeka shares for every 1 OPAC share held, valuing the net assets of OPAC at $33.94m provided OPAC shareholders approve the transaction with a 75% approval required. Seeka will assume approximately $25.06m of debt as part of the acquisition bringing the total deal to $59.00m.

The offer is subject to a number of conditions, including approval of OPAC’s shareholders to the amalgamation at a shareholders’ meeting to be held on Tuesday 13 April 2021; and approval by Seeka’s shareholders to the issue of up to 7,042,574 new shares in Seeka at the ASM to be held on Friday 16 April 2021. Further details will be advised in the respective Notice of Meeting to be sent to each Company’s shareholders prior to their meetings. . .

Flood damage: where to find help – Andrew Norris:

As we watch the damage emerge along NSW’s coastal regions as the flood waters move through, you can’t help but feel for those who have copped the brunt of it.

The sheer extent of the flooding has been incredible, and to hear multiple stories about how livestock have been stranded or have turned up in unusual places like the beach or somebody’s backyard is quite bewildering.

This is all before the damage assessment begins in earnest. The extent of infrastructure that will need repairing or replacing and the amount of pastures that will remain unsuitable for grazing will be extensive.

The federal government already has lump sum payments available for which those affected by the March floods can apply, although Moree, which is also dealing with major flooding now too, was not on that list as we went to print (visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au). . . 


Rural round-up

26/02/2021

Major task ahead for NZ farming – Matthew Reeves:

New modelling from the Climate Change Commission has outlined a major task ahead for the agribusiness industry in New Zealand.

The Government has committed to an extensive emissions reduction plan in order to combat climate change, involving a 10% decline in agricultural emissions by 2030, and a 24% to 47% decline by 2050.

Achieving this target will require major changes across the agricultural sector, including a significant decline in herd sizes and the uptake of new technologies.

The agriculture sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in New Zealand, accounting for around 40% of current emissions in the country. The bulk of this comes from livestock methane emissions, including 51% from the country’s 6.1 million dairy cattle, and 47% from the country’s 26.2 million sheep and 4 million beef cattle. . .

Milk packs punch agaisnt flu – Gerald Piddock:

We already know milk is good for the bones, but now research shows that drinking milk could help ward off the flu.

New research has found that a protein-based ingredient from milk is an effective antiviral agent against a common influenza virus species.

The study commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, found that Immune Defence Proteins (IDP) was 120% more effective against the virus Influenza A when compared to the protein lactoferrin.

Testing on the herpes simplex virus netted a similar result. . . 

‘RA 20 virus’ a danger to New Zealand farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation.

It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long term than Covid-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA20 but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. . . 

Better connection now – Rural News:

We may now be into the third decade of the 21st century, but unfortunately much of NZ’s rural broadband and mobile coverage remains at third world levels.

That is unacceptable in a modern, first-world country like New Zealand. How is it still the case that many farmers and rural businesses around the country have to buy costly equipment to get broadband, while many others cannot even get mobile phone coverage at all?

As the Technology Users Association of NZ (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young says, rural people should be getting the same level of connectivity in terms of broadband and mobile coverage as the people who live in urban areas.

It is even more important for rural people to have high quality connectivity, given their often remote locations and the fact that they are running significant businesses – not only farming, but other service related enterprises. . . 

Manuka saving honey’s buzz – Richard Rennie:

While demand for Manuka honey continues to surge, other honey varieties remain moribund, with low prices starting to pressure beekeepers out of the industry.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 2020 Apiculture Monitoring report has highlighted how a good harvest season last summer translated into a surge in volumes of all honey produced, with per hive yield of manuka up 39% on the year before in the North Island.

Overall however, the sector experienced a slide of 6% in average export prices despite a weaker NZ dollar, with a significant 28% export volume increase driving the overall 20% increase in total export value.

The report has highlighted the growing gap between high-value manuka and all other multi-floral manuka/non-manuka honeys. . . 

Helping emerging industries is growing Australian agriculture – John Harvey:

Opportunities within the agricultural sector are constantly evolving.

We see consumers hungry for new products and changing requirements and expectations for food production.

You only have to look at shifting attitudes about eating meat to see how quickly things evolve.

And that is one of the reasons I think it is vital that Australia continues to invest in our emerging agricultural and food production industries. . . 


Rural round-up

18/02/2021

Blubbering start – Rural News editorial:

Climate Change Commission chair Rod Carr’s foolish and ham-fisted comment comparing NZ’s farming sector to the country’s defunct whaling industry was an appalling way for him to kick off the consultation period of his organisation’s draft carbon emissions budget.

It is a pity Carr has now blotted his copybook with farmers.

When appointed Climate Commission chair last year, he sounded much more reasonable and measured—even telling the Newsroom website:

“In the agricultural sector, there is no or little denial of climate change…In the agricultural sector there is a growing awareness of the need for change, but also a concern about what is the nature of the change that is needed. I think the agricultural sector is highly innovative, I don’t think they’re in denial. For my money, New Zealand should be substantially increasing its investment in agriculture research.” . . 

The making of a world record :

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead recently set a new women’s world shearing record by clipping 661 lambs in nine hours. A remarkable achievement for a 24-year-old who has only been shearing four years. Farmstrong caught up with her the next day to find out how she did it.

How are you feeling today?

I feel quite normal really. I don’t feel too bad, I’m a little bit tight in some of my muscles but overall, I’m feeling pretty good. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet to be honest. It’s a relief.

Why did you get into shearing?

I love the physical side of shearing and the competitive side, too. In shearing, you get paid on how hard you want to work. I get a lot of satisfaction from pleasing the farmers and leaving work every day after reaching my targets. It’s very satisfying. It’s also fun racing people every day. I love that side of it. . . 

Game changing irrigation system – Sudesh Kissun:

A team of Feilding-based software engineers has helped mastermind a game-changing irrigation prototype that diagnoses its own operating faults and can launch a drone to manage crops at leaf level.

Lindsay, which produces the Zimmatic brand of pivot irrigators, has introduced the concept of the world’s first ‘smart pivot’ to its markets around the globe.

Now, they are inviting New Zealand farmers and irrigation industry colleagues to give feedback so the product can be tailored to their needs. The smart pivot is a new category of mechanised irrigation that moves beyond traditional water application and management to a wide array of crop and machine health capabilities, while also delivering proven water and energy savings.. . .

Born in the USA – Mike Bland:

American-bred and city-raised, he came all the way to the King Country to find his dream job. Mike Bland reports.

Before arriving in New Zealand eight years ago Alex Petrucci, a 30-year-old economics graduate who grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, knew only a little bit about New Zealand and its agriculture.

His father worked for the American Farmland Trust, which employed Kiwi consultants for advice on pasture management. But Alex’s practical skills were limited when he took on his first job milking cows in Reporoa, Waikato.

A year later he met future wife Bronwyn, who was shepherding on Highlands Station, near Rotorua. . . 

Shine a light on Max T – Alex lond:

She had heard about it before, but passed it up. Now Alex Lond is a convert to the Max T method.

Everybody’s talking about it – and I just couldn’t get my head around it. The Max T (maximum milking time) method is becoming more and more popular in and around the Waikato, and I wanted to know why?

After hearing about it from a friend after he won Sharemilker of the Year back in 2018, I somewhat dismissed it as an idea only needed by farmers who didn’t enjoy milking their cows. However, after attending a discussion group last week with a focus on executing the Max T method in herringbone sheds, I have seen it in a whole new light.

I have always enjoyed milking, seeing it as an opportunity to plan my day in the mornings (in my head) and as the final job for the day (most of the time). I am fortunate that milking is not a long, drawn-out affair on my farm. I milk 350 cows through a 29ASHB shed, with recently installed in-shed feeding meaning that the cow flow is always excellent, both in and out of the shed, and the longest milking time this season has been 3 ½ hours from cups-on to taking my boots off for breakfast. . . 

HECS-style loan will encourage more carbon farmers: Menzies Research Centre report – Jamieson Murphy;

THE government could encourage more farmers to take advantage of carbon farming, helping both their bottom dollar and the nation’s emission reduction goals, with a HECS-style loan, a report says.

The policy paper by the Liberal-aligned Menzies Research Centre argues increasing soil carbon within the agricultural sector was a no-brainer, with financial, environmental and climatic dividends.

The report – From the ground up: Unleashing the potential of soil – suggested several practical steps the federal government could take immediately, which could potentially deliver soil carbon gains in a single season

It recommends funding soil carbon baseline measurements through an income-contingent loan scheme, similar to university student HECS loans, which students only have to repay once their wage hits a certain threshold. . . 


Rural round-up

01/01/2021

Roll on 2021  – Rural News editorial:

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for New Zealand and the world.

However, despite this, our country’s farmers have soldiered on doing what they do best – farming!

The country’s farmers stepped up during the lockdown, as an important part of New Zealand’s essential services, adapted quickly and kept on farming despite the constraints.

If there is one good thing to come out of Covid-19, it has further emphasised the vitally important role that the agriculture sector plays in NZ. At a time when other major sectors have been adversely affected, farming is playing – and continues to play – an increasingly vital role as a source of income and employment for the country. . .

2020: a most unusual year – Colin Miller:

2020: It definitely has been a most unusual year!

“Who would have thought / I never would have thought…” really sums up our year rather accurately, don’t you think?

Quarantines, social distancing, bubbles and masks were certainly not words on people’s lips, or in the media, when 2020 broke in on us January 1. For the sports fans; who would have thought the Warriors would need to be based in Aussie or drop right out of the comp?

Who would have thought that Super Rugby would be shut down this year, and then the All Blacks would also need to be based across the creek? And, whoever would have thought games would get played with no spectators – before empty grandstands! . . 

Long service to cattle industry :

ONZM

DENIS AITKEN

Dunedin

For services to the dairy industry and the community

Denis Aitken has always believed in paying it forward.

The Dunedin man appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit said he was “gobsmacked” to hear the news.

“I’m pretty humbled … I do enjoy helping the community. . . 

Wanaka woman forestry scholar – Yvonne O’Hara:

Maude Rogers decided earlier this year that she wanted a career in forestry science.

The Wanaka teenager could see it taking her all over the world or working as a sector researcher for the Ministry for Primary Industries.

She was delighted when she was named as one of eight recipients to be awarded a 2021 Nga Karahipi Uru Rakau forestry scholarship .

The scholarship provided $8000 a year for four years, and was designed to encourage more women and Maori to enter New Zealand’s forestry and wood processing sectors. . .

Scholarship allows dream career in beekeeping to take flight :

A Bay of Plenty teen has been given a boost into his dream career in beekeeping after receiving the 2020 Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossup Youth Scholarship.

Ohope-based Angus Brenton-Rule says he was thrilled to receive the scholarship which provides $2000 to support training and set up costs for new beekeepers, a one-year membership to Apiculture NZ (ApiNZ) and attendance at ApiNZ’s national industry conference.

“I was really, really happy to get it. I didn’t expect it, but I thought I might have had a small chance since I’ve been studying apiculture and fascinated by bees most of my life,” he said.

Brenton-Rule’s childhood interest in bees began with watching YouTube videos of hives in action, and then he got a taste of the real thing when some family friends started beekeeping.

Woola raises €450k to replace bubble wrap with sheep wool:

We’re excited to announce we’ve just closed an investment round of 450 000 euros led by Ragnar Sass, the co-founder of Pipedrive and Lift99. He was joined by Pipedrive co-founder Martin Tajur, Bolt co-founder Martin Villig, Klaus co-founder Kair Käsper, business angel fund Lemonade Stand, Karina Univer through the Atomico Angel Programme, ex JPMorgan Alejandro Jimenez, and a few other angel investors.

Woola takes the waste of one industry – leftover wool – and uses it to solve the waste problem of another – online shopping. Most online stores use plastic bubble wrap to ship fragile items, adding to the global plastic pollution problem.

  • More than 100 billion parcels are shipped every year globally, commonly packed in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap degrades in 500-1000 years and is a large polluter of ocean life. . .


Rural round-up

12/10/2020

Potential animal welfare crisis looming – Sudesh Kissun:

A local vet recruitment agency says the vet shortage situation in the country is getting more dire by the day. 

Julie South, of VetStaff, says that while the Government’s recent decision to let overseas vets into the country for work is a step in the right direction, it’s nowhere near enough to cover the current shortage.

“They need to allow almost ten times that many in to ease the animal welfare and human stress and mental health issues the shortage is causing,” she told Rural News. . .

Hort’s priorities for a newly-elected government – Mike Chapman:

The biggest challenge facing horticulture is labour and we will – as a collective sector – ask the new government to focus attention in this area.

As a result of Covid, many New Zealanders need to develop new skills and take on positions in essential industries such as horticulture – industries that are pivotal to the country’s economic and social recovery.

This is no easy task. The new government will need to complete the reform of the education and training system so that it reflects post-Covid requirements for flexible delivery and the fostering of innovation.

While New Zealand’s border challenges may currently appear stark, the horticulture industry believes they can be managed in such a way to protect the health of New Zealanders while also ensuring the country can prosper economically, through access to skills and labour that can only be obtained from overseas

Composting mootels can transform dairy, but only if we get things right – Keith Woodford:

Some readers will know that I have been writing about composting mootels for the last three years. I have been suggesting that these mootels can transform New Zealand dairy.   I remain of that perspective, but only if we get things right.

When I first wrote about ‘composting mootels’, I referred to them as ‘composting barns’. Subsequently, I have stepped back from using the term ‘barn’ because it was leading to misunderstandings.   For many folk in the New Zealand dairy industry, the word ‘barn’ is like the mythical red rag to the bull.

Composting mootels are like no other type of barn. They are open structures that focus on cow comfort. Cows love them. They can be a great enhancement to animal welfare.  There is minimal smell – very different to most barns. They can fit seamlessly into New Zealand pastoral systems and in the process solve key environmental problems. . . 

Clydesdales popular centre of attention :

It was horsepower of the old-fashioned variety that proved a drawcard at the Otago Field Days in Palmerston yesterday.

John Booth, from the Dayboo Clydesdale stud in Mid Canterbury, brought Dayboo Annie and Dayboo Sam south, for wagon rides, a children’s tug-of-war today and general admiration – and plenty of pats – from field day visitors.

Mr Booth, who has 17 Clydesdales, enjoyed dealing with the public and both he and the two horses were very patient with the children clamouring for a closer look.

The two-day event, which continues today, moved back to its original site at the Palmerston Showgrounds as it was being planned during Covid-19 Alert Level 2, and allowed for more space than its previous location at the saleyards, chief executive Paul Mutch said. . . 

Rhys Hall announced as 2020 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Rhys Hall who became the 2020 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year on 8th October. Hall was representing Marlborough and is Assistant Vineyard Manager at Indevin’s Bankhouse.

Congratulations also to Sam Bain from Constellation Brands who came second and George Bunnett from Irrigation Services who came third.

The other contestants were Annabel Angland from Peregrine Wines, Tahryn Mason from Villa Maria and Lacey Agate from Bellbird Spring. . .

Cattle splinter groups urged to ‘get back in the boat’ – Shan Goodwin:

CALLS for unity in advocacy, particularly where grassfed cattle producers are concerned, were made at an industry event, held both live and online, this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef featured four prominent Queensland producers: David Hill, Bryce Camm, Mark Davie and Russell Lethbridge.

Mr Davie kicked off the talk about the need to have a ‘strong, united, well-funded force’ working on behalf of grassfed producers.

“What I’m talking about is a restructure of CCA (Cattle Council of Australia),” he said. . . 


Rural round-up

08/10/2020

Changes just don’t add up :

Farmer Jane Smith claims that farmers find comments from David Parker, Damien O’Connor and the Green Party’s James Shaw nauseating.

“This is our licence to operate with our global trading partners and will attract added-value premiums,” she says.

“This lacks any metric or rationale,” says Smith. “We are creating our own hurdles at a rate higher than any other primary producer in the world. For every dollar spent on food worldwide, the farmer receives on average, less than 10 cents.”

This is a topic of discussion Smith often has with offshore peers around the Global Farmer Roundtable.  . . 

Critic calls for major investigation into freshwater reforms :

Award-winning, environmentally-focused farmer Jane Smith wonders whether she’s farming in North Otago or North Korea.

She is calling for a full review into the process behind Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) Fresh Water National Policy Statement – particularly around the recent legislation for winter grazing practices and land use categorised solely on slope.

“The public have been sold a sanitised version of the truth and are going to pay an unacceptable price for what I suggest is effectively an abuse of legislative power,” she told Rural News.

While Smith is opposed to the punitive regulations in their current form, it is the process that she is challenging – rather than the outcome itself. She says her time in a myriad of governance roles have shown the importance of transparency in procedure behind every decision.  . .

Fonterra sells farms in China to reduce debt get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant  Fonterra  has  scooped in  $555 million by selling  its   China  farms  and is now aiming to unload   its yogurt business, a partnership with Nestle, located in Brazil, as  it  pursues  its  strategy of seeking  greater value, rather than volume,  in its  business.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell   conceded  the  China  farm  business

“ … has  been a tough journey for us along the way, we had to take an impairment to that asset in 2019 and again in 2020 so certainly they haven’t been as operationally effective as we would have liked.  That said, we have made significant progress of late and that’s put us in a better position to sell these assets.”

Fonterra  is  expected    to  use   the proceeds to pay  down  debt  which under  Hurrell’s  watch  has  already been trimmed  in the past year  to $4.7bn  after  peaking at  $7.1bn.  . . 

Lift in sheepmeat exports to Europe and UK shows importance of retaining WTO tariff quota:

New Zealand sheepmeat exports rose 12 per cent by volume and five per cent by value in August compared to a year ago, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

A fall in sheepmeat exports to China (-13% by value) was offset by a significant increase in demand from the UK and Europe despite the uncertainty of the fast-approaching Brexit.

A total of 2,044 tonnes of sheepmeat was exported to the UK in August 2020, a 43 per cent increase on August 2019. Exports to the Netherlands rose by 80 per cent and to Germany by 30 per cent. France and Belgium also saw increases. . .

New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle lands on shelves:

Anchor has added to its Blue range, with a new 2L bottle made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material

    • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which research indicates is increasingly important to consumers.

Anchor is set to launch New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle which is 100% kerbside recyclable, and aligns with Fonterra’s commitment to have all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Anchor Blue 2L in the new plant-based bottle will land on shelves across New Zealand’s North Island from October 13th. And while it’s still filled with the same fresh NZ dairy milk from Fonterra farmers – the bottle is made from sugarcane. . . 

Stahmann Farms plants close to 40,000 more pecan trees at Pallamallawa property near Moree – Sophie Harris:

Trawalla has well and truly cemented its place as the largest pecan nut farm in the southern hemisphere, with close to 40,000 more pecan trees planted at the Pallamallawa property in north west NSW over the past few weeks.

A total of 39,000 pecan trees have been planted on 195 hectares of Trawalla’s neighbouring property, Long Creek, over the past five weeks. 

This brings the total number of trees in the ground on Stahmann Farms’ Pallamallawa operation, including Trawalla, Red Bank and Loch Lomond, to 150,000. . . 


Rural round-up

09/05/2020

Build more and be damned! – David Anderson:

Water storage is one of the keys to helping rebuild NZ’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, says Ian Proudfoot, KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness.

This was the message he gave to Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee on the opportunities our food and fibre industries have to lead our national economic recovery.

“We have long been the developed nation with the greatest reliance on growing and selling biological products to the world to pay for our schools, roads and hospitals,” he explained.

“Now, more than ever, the industry recognises it needs to step forward to ensure that our country is able to maintain the living standards we have become accustomed to.” . . 

Drought relief ‘too little too late’ Hawke’s Bay farmer – Robin Martin:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer says the government’s latest drought relief package – a $500,000 fund for advisory services – is a “drop in the ocean” and won’t go far to alleviating struggling farmers’ problems.

Extremely dry conditions have hit much of the North Island and parts of the South Island in recent months and in some areas, including Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay, the situation remains dire.

Grant Charteris farms deer and beef cattle at Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay.

He said today’s relief package was a case of “too little too late”. . .

Telephone diplomacy to fight protectionism – Peter Burke:

Rising protectionism is one of the major concerns of New Zealand exporters in the light of COVID-19.

NZ’s chief trade negotiator, Vangelis Vitalis, told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee that as a result of COVID, many countries will resort to protecting their own economies. NZ exporters fear this will make it much harder for them.

Vitalis says exporters are also concerned about the logistics of getting goods to market, but they have praised the work done by MFAT, NZTE and MPI in keeping freight lines open. . . 

New farm safety initiative aims to empower women to effect change :

A new farm safety initiative aims to rally rural women to help save injuries and lives on New Zealand farms.

Action group Safer Farms has partnered with Australian woman Alex Thomas to bring the #PlantASeedForSafety Project to New Zealand.

The project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them.

With the message “save a life, listen to your wife”, it aims to raise the voices of rural women and boost their confidence in their ability to influence change and to inspire others to make safer, healthier choices. . .

Quinoa growers urged to band together and take on the world – Nigel Malthus:

One of New Zealand’s very few quinoa growers is calling on his colleagues to band together to help market their product.

Andrew Currie, who farms near Methven in inland Canterbury, believes he is one of only three commercial quinoa growers in the country. He’s the only one in the South Island and the only one with a breeding programme of golden, white, red and black quinoa varieties.

He told Rural News if there is any good to come out of the current COVID-19 emergency, it may be renewed support for locally grown produce. Currie says the post-lockdown environment will be very different.

“New Zealand farming will be the strength of our economy. Some people will need to change occupation to more rural orientated jobs.”  . .

Ag’s critical role in post-COVID recovery a unique opportunity – Michael Guerin:

Although Australia is weathering the COVID-19 storm better than almost any other nation, there is no doubt that it has dealt us a sickening blow.

And the worst is definitely still to come, as the long-term economic, employment and social effects become apparent.

However, out of the tragedy emerges a unique opportunity for Australian agriculture to lead the country out of the COVID-19 doldrums.

The NFF’s “Don’t panic. Aussie farmers have your back” campaign was highly successful in reassuring the public that our robust industry would ensure the country could feed itself.. . 


Rural round-up

15/02/2020

No sense – Rural News:

How can you be green when you are in the red?

That is the very question many rural communities and farmers around the country should be asking the Government.

Its proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – dropped just before Christmas with a very truncated submission period – has all the hallmarks of the Government looking like it is consulting; when it has already made up its mind.

In submissions to the parliamentary select committee on environment, which is overseeing the ETS changes, Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) highlighted the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the ETS amendment to farming and rural communities. . .

New law won’t solve money woes – Colin Williscroft:

Reluctance by some farmers to make tough decisions based on their balance sheets is becoming the elephant in the room in some farming circles, Feilding-based BakerAg farm consultant Gary Massicks says.

The situation is not one that has happened overnight but changing influences such as banking policy, pressure exacerbated by social media, new environmental demands and regulations and increasingly irregular weather patterns are changing the world farmers operate in so they need to adapt.

Massicks has spoken to his peers around the country and though the problem is not widespread it exists. . .

New Zealand wine exports continue their steady growth going into the new decade

New Zealand wineries are continuing their steady growth on the world stage, driven largely by the famed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. According to NZWine.com, the wine industry recorded its 24th consecutive year of export growth in 2019.

This figure puts New Zealand on track to hit a $2 billion target for 2020, driven largely by an explosion of popularity in the United States and Europe. There are about 500 wineries in New Zealand, the bulk of whom produce Marlborough Sauvignon as their primary wine. . .

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments:

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments including move to 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has announced a new commitment to make all of its packaging 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The announcement is one of a suite of sustainability commitments shared today with growers, consumers and suppliers at the New Zealand kiwifruit industry’s marquee conference – Momentum 2020: Standing Up and Standing Out. . . .

Meaty increases push up annual food prices:

Higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish contributed to a 3.5 percent increase in food prices for the year ended January 2020, the largest annual rise in food prices in over eight years, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat, poultry, and fish prices have increased 6.0 percent in the year. Restaurant and ready-to-eat meals increased 3.4 percent, while fruit and vegetable prices were up 2.7 percent,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

“Both beef mince and blade steak prices reached all-time highs in January, while bacon and lamb prices have increased sharply in the past 12 months. Decreased pork production in China during 2019 has increased export demand for New Zealand meat products, pushing prices up.” . .

 

“I can’t imagine myself anywhere but horticulture”, Bay of Plenty Young Grower Of The Year:

Melissa van den Heuvel, an Industry Systems Associate at NZ Avocado, has been named Bay of Plenty’s Young Grower for 2020 at an awards dinner in Tauranga.

The competition took place last Saturday, 8 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing ‘how can we as growers be better members of the wider community’ at the gala dinner on Wednesday night.

Melissa also excelled in individual challenges, including the Horticultural Biosecurity challenge and Avocado Tree Planting challenge, and especially impressed judges with her speech on passing knowledge to future generations. . .


Rural round-up

19/12/2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


Rural round-up

23/11/2019

Take us with you – Rural News editorial:

According to a newly released Rabobank report, New Zealand farm businesses need to get ready for the full cost of environmental policies coming down the track as they make future investment decisions.

The report says with the country’s agricultural sector facing increasingly tougher environmental constraints, its decisions on investment and land use will need to take account of how these constraints impact on their farming businesses.

Rabobank says that despite the significant investments made by many New Zealand farmers over the past decade to improve performance of their farming operations, the increasingly tougher environmental reforms relating to water quality and climate change will progressively require farmers to account for a greater range of environmental impacts resulting from their farming operations. . .

Making it okay to ask for help – David Anderson:

Meat processing company Alliance has started an employee support programme aimed at getting colleagues to look after each other and keep an eye out for possible mental health issues.

Its ‘Mates at the Gate’ programme encourages staff to ask for support at an early stage and also educates employees on the signs their colleagues might be depressed or distressed.

The programme, which is specifically tailored to Alliance’s workforce, was launched across the company’s processing plants and corporate offices in November 2018.  . . 

Call for NZ and Scotland to join forces – David Hill:

A Scottish farmer and cattle judge would like to see New Zealand and Scotland work together to promote meat.

John Scott, who judged the all-breeds beef cattle competition at last week’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, has just completed an eight-year stint on the Quality Meat Scotland board, the equivalent of Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

”We’ve got some huge challenges with Brexit and the anti-red meat lobby,” Mr Scott said.

”It’s a world market now and I would like to see Scotland having closer ties with New Zealand.

”We need to increase consumption of meat around the world and the seasons are different between our countries, so we don’t need to be competitive. We have a lot of similarities and we can work together.” . . 

A day out at Fonterra’s PR farm – Alex Braae:

Were Fonterra’s Open Gates events a shallow PR stunt, or was there something deeper going on? Alex Braae went to Mangatawhiri to find out.

Walking into the Fonterra Open Gates event in Mangatawhiri, the first animals to see weren’t actually dairy cows. 

In an enclosure just next to the welcome tent, there were three beautifully clean and fluffy sheep. Their faces were sharp and alert, like the healthy energetic dogs that herd them. A throng of kids hung around them, reaching out to touch the exotic creatures.  . . 

Strong returns forecast from Zespri’s record European harvest:

Zespri’s European kiwifruit harvest is again expected to deliver strong returns for growers in Italy and France, along with another great tasting crop for consumers around the world to enjoy.

Sheila McCann-Morrison, Zespri’s Chief International Production Officer, says that with the Northern Hemisphere harvest well underway, Zespri is expecting to harvest around 19 million trays or almost 70 tonnes of kiwifruit from orchards throughout Italy, France and Greece. . . 

It’s forestry that must change not farmers – Rowan Reid :

AS a young forest scientist, I chose to work in the farming landscape in Australia. Despite the slogans of our conservation groups, the environmental frontline was not occurring at the forest blockade; it was at the farm gate. In just 200 years of white settlement, we had cleared the native forests off more than 60 per cent of the continent to create family farms. That’s about 15 times the area of the entire UK. The result was the greatest extinction of native animals and plants seen in modern times, massive land degradation problems, the release of millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, and mounting animal welfare issues due to heat and cold stress in farm stock.

Seeing that forestry – even the act of harvesting trees for timber – had a role to play in repairing the environmental damage and helping develop resilient family farms, I set my goal to make forestry attractive to the farming community. But rather than just promote what my peers saw as ‘good forestry practices’, I could see that it was forestry, rather than the farmers, that had to change. In 1987, I purchased a small degraded farm and set about planting trees for both conservation and profit. . . 


Rural round-up

22/05/2019

Nats stunned by methane target – David Anderson:

National’s climate change spokesman Todd Muller says the proposed target for methane reduction puts the New Zealand agricultural sector at “real risk”.

Muller has spent the best part of 12 months negotiating with Climate Change Minister James Shaw to get a workable, bi-partisan deal on agricultural emissions. He told Rural News the proposed methane targets are “widely overdone” and set an “unjustifiable target” for the NZ farming sector.

“There is a body of credible advice – such as recently from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) and Victoria University’s David Frame – that advocates far more sensible targets for methane,” he says. . .

National supports climate change bill but with concerns:

National has decided to support the Climate Change Response Act Amendment Bill through its first reading, but with serious concerns around the proposed methane target and the potential economic impact, Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“National is supportive of efforts to reduce emissions, however we must also ensure our approach manages economic impacts and is in line with a global response.

“National supports many elements of the Bill including establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission, a framework for reducing New Zealand’s emissions and a framework for climate change adaptation.

“We have serious concerns about the target level that has been set. . .

 

More than 300 sheep rustled from Waimumu farm – Richard Davison:

Police say a mystery $65,000 stock theft has left the victims “extremely gutted”.

Mataura Police issued a public appeal yesterday, following a lack of leads concerning the rustling of 320 sheep and eight rams from a Waimumu farm, believed to have occurred during Easter.

Mataura Constable Wayne McClelland said a stock theft of this scale was “unusual” in his experience, and had caused considerable distress to the farm owners.

“Obviously a theft of this magnitude, where you’ve lost tens of thousands’ worth of property, would hit anyone pretty hard. It’s a significant loss of assets given the size of the farm in question.” . .

All ‘Barred’-up over M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

South Canterbury rural consultant Sarah Barr says there is a huge degree of anxiety on the ground over the surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort.

She told Rural News the announcement of the surge, made just before Easter, was worrying for people who had been previously caught up in the effort.

“People who know they’ve got traces, but haven’t yet been followed up. And people who aren’t involved but are concerned that now they may be.” . . .

North Otago farmer fulfills childhood dream to compete :

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has dreamed of competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final since he was a child. He’ll finally get the chance in Hawke’s Bay this July.

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has ambitious plans to double the size of his sheep flock.

The 28-year-old’s family farm in North Otago has 500 Border-Romney cross ewes, 150-200 trading cattle and arable crops.

He’s in the process of farm succession and is set to take over in July. . .

Genesis reimagines with new product for dairy:

For the first time in New Zealand, dairy farmers will be offered an electricity plan created specifically for their unique energy use with the launch of a new Genesis product, For Dairy.

Genesis Executive General Manager, James Magill, says For Dairy recognises that the way dairy farmers use electricity is far from standard and with this product could ultimately result in savings of

between 5 and 25 per cent off their milking shed electricity bill. . .

 


Rural round-up

06/04/2019

FARMSTRONG: Putting people first comes first

A thriving Canterbury dairy farmer puts as much thought into looking after his staff as he does stock and pasture. 

Duncan Rutherford manages an operation with 14 staff, 2300 cows and some sheep and beef on a 3300-hectare property. 

He and his family are still dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. 

“It was a reasonable challenge all right. A couple of houses got fairly damaged and one is still being repaired.  . . 

Exporters’ Brexit concerns grow – Peter Burke:

New Zealand primary produce exporters’ concerns continue rising about the confusion in the British parliament over Brexit.

NZ’s agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says given the possibility of a no-deal, exporters are making contingency plans for such an event.

But they also still hope a deal will be agreed so they won’t have to trigger plans for a no-deal. The whole thing is a terrible mess, Petersen told Rural News last week. . . 

Young farming couple applauded for farm sustainability – Angie Skerret:

A farming couple applauded for their commitment to farming sustainability have a simple message for other farmers – make a plan and make a start.

Simon and Trudy Hales, of Kereru Farms, are one of eleven regional winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards – taking out the Horizons regional award.

The Hales are the fourth generation to farm the land, and have worked hard to make positive changes on their 970ha sheep and beef farm near Weber. . .

A2 Milk says lift in dairy prices may impact in FY2020 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Company said recent increases in dairy pricing will have an impact on gross margin percentages in the 2020 financial year but it doesn’t anticipate any significant impact this year.

Dairy product prices rose for the ninth straight time in the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction. The GDT price index added 0.8 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago and average prices are now up 28 percent since the auction on Nov 20.

“We do not anticipate any significant impact to gross margin percentage during FY19 as a result of recent increases in dairy pricing as reflected in Global Dairy Trade Indices. . . 

Dairy industry tells EU ‘hard cheese’ – Nigel Stirling:

The dairy industry is digging its heels in over the European Union’s attempts to seize dozens of cheese names for the exclusive use of its own producers.

The EU has long sought to use its free-trade agreements to extend its system of Geographical Indications (GIs) and its trade talks with NZ have been no exception.

As part of the talks the European Commission has given NZ negotiators a list of 179 food names and hundreds more wine and spirit names linked to European places it says should be given legal protection over and above that provided by this country’s own system of GIs protecting names of wines and spirits introduced several years ago. . . 

Scott and Laura Simpson’s focus on data collection pays off in Inverell drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

SOME of the toughest decisions are made during unfavourable seasons but for Inverell’s Scott and Laura Simpson their efforts during the good times are making their management easier. 

The couple are into their fifth year of ownership of the 1700 hectare property Glennon, which was previously run by Mr Simpson’s parents. 

At the time they had a herd of Brangus content types so the pair moved to incorporate more Angus genetics and breed more moderate females.  . . 


Landcorp pays ERG $1500/day

06/03/2019

An OIO response to questions from Rural News shows that members of Landcorp’s environmental reference group are earning $1500 a day :

Landcorp is paying members of its contentious environmental reference group (ERG) $1500 a day each – far more than other government body payments.

This has been revealed in answers to an Official Information Act (OIA) request by Rural News to the Government-owned farmer (trading as Pāmu Farms).

“Each ERG member and the chairman is paid a flat fee of $1500 per day they attend the ERG meeting,” Landcorp’s OIA response says.

“In addition, the chair is paid an hourly rate for meeting preparation.”

During the 2017-2018 year, the state farmer also paid $2740.11 in travel costs and another $2451.43 in accommodating out-of-town ERG members for the four meetings it held in Wellington. . .

Meanwhile, it looks like members of Landcorp’s ERG are on a pretty good wicket at $1500-a-day, compared with other Government-paid bodies. Members of the Primary Sector Council are paid $500 a day, with chair Lain Jager earning $800 a day. The Tax Working Group members earned $800 a day and chair Sir Michael Cullen earned $1000 a day.

Are members of the ERG worth three times as much as members of the Primary Sector Council, nearly twice as much as members of the Tax Working Group and half as much again as its chair?

What does the group do and what has it achieved?

Is Landcorp getting value for money from what looks like significant over payments, and given we own the company what’s the value to taxpayers?


Rural round-up

02/01/2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly — 2018 year in review – Rural News editorial team:

As we bid farewell to another year it’s time for the annual review of 2018 in the primary sector as seen by the Rural News editorial team.

The good:

The great start award: to outgoing Zespri chairman Peter McBride for his level-headed, down-to-earth approach on taking up Fonterra directorship. An independent thinker and experienced hand. Is he the next Fonterra chair in waiting?

Straight talking award: kumara grower and Vegetables NZ chairman Andre De Bruin for honest opinion on drugs and employment issues – rather than the usual PR massaged ‘never say anything controversial’ comment that does not face issues head-on. . . 

Sodden, mouldy fruit dumped after rainfall destroys Canterbury harvests – Maddison Northcott:

Southern berry growers are feeling the squeeze as hundreds of kilograms of sodden, mouldy fruits are thrown away after the most devastating season in decades.

Paul Tapper, from Tai Tapu’s Tram Road Fruit Farm, said the unseasonably heavy rain throughout November and December destroyed crops and caused up to 300kg of strawberries to go mouldy before they could be collected. . . 

Japanese farmers set to face-off against NZ imports :

Japanese farmers are set to compete with cheaper agricultural products imported from New Zealand and Australia as the first tariff cuts under the re-jigged Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal take effect tomorrow.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that tomorrow Japan will axe tariffs on kiwfruit, grapes and melons, and cut tariffs on imported beef from the current 38.5 percent to 27.5.

It reports the number of stores selling New Zealand beef are likely to increase and a big company – Itoham Foods – is planning to sell more beef from its New Zealand subsidiary. . .

Fonterra strives for better year in 2019 – Samesh Mohanlal:

South Canterbury’s dairy industry has experienced a turbulent year with an increasingly “impaired” public perception adding to its woes, but Fonterra’s head of Farm Source for Canterbury, Marlborough and Tasman, Charles Fergusson plans to take the bull by the horns and clear the air in 2019.

The biggest hurdle of the year, the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis proved devastating for individual farmers, businesses and the wider community, and Fonterra posting its the first ever loss this year has also kept Fergusson busy.

“The year 2018 has been a tough one for the co-operative,” Fergusson says. . .

Extra production does not necessarily mean extra dollars – Pam Tipa:

The extra and hidden costs of bringing in feed can often mean increased milk production, but not increased operating profit.

In fact, sometimes producing the extra milk can cost money, DairyNZ research scientist Dr Jane Kay told a Northland Dairy Development Trust field day at Wellsford. . .

NFU brings industry together to discuss no deal Brexit:

The NFU brought more than 70 representatives from the agri-food supply chain together in London in December to discuss the impacts of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The NFU has been clear that the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘catastrophic’ and is ‘not an option’ for UK agriculture.

The whole supply chain was represented – from seed to shop shelf – representing from pre and post farm gate. . .


Let some knowledge flourish?

06/08/2018

Then-vice chancellor of Massey Chris Kelly provoked outrage after making comments about women vets:

Kelly told Rural News that 75 to 85 per cent of vet students were women and in the first year when there was a high ‘cull’, it was the female students who continued because the work was largely academic.

“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass,” he told Rural News. “Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.” . . 

When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by women. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a fulltime equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on.” . . 

Shortly after the outrage, he stepped down.

He apologised yesterday and said the information he gave in the article was incorrect.

He told the university today that he intended to step down from his position, effective immediately.

In a statement, Mr Kelly said his decision followed media coverage of his comments.

“Having had time to carefully consider the views of many staff, students and stakeholders, I believe that it is in the interests of the university that I step aside,” he said. . .

Martin van Beynen wrote at the time that the chancellor’s point was lost in the silly vet sexism fracas:

 . . But there is a wider problem with jumping from a great height on a man like Kelly.

Kelly spoke his mind giving a view which was not hateful or disrespectful. Essentially he was saying the taxpayer gets more bang for their buck by training male vets because of the nature of the job and the fact women, due to an unfortunate quirk of biology, have babies and want to spend some time with them.

It sounds like a defendable view which should prompt some debate. There might actually be a problem brewing away in vet education due to the dominance of female graduates. That won’t be talked about now because no-one will be brave enough to raise it.

The danger is that due to the sensitivity of the issue and possible ramifications of expressing a view, the wrong decisions will be made, not because people don’t know the facts or what to do, but just because to raise the difficult matters is a career wrecker.

The last and important point is that it’s quite healthy for people to shoot their mouths off now and again. It’s much better to know what people think than to have their views massaged by public relations or communications staff into nothingness. People censoring themselves is far more dangerous than saying what they really think.

Exactly. It is far better to know what people think than to have their views and opinions, whether they be right or wrong, silenced.

The importance of free speech is not something the current Massey vice chancellor Jan Thomas appears to believe in:

The right to speak freely is a bedrock principle of democratic society. This includes the right to hold opinions and express one’s views without fear and the ability to freely communicate one’s ideas.

History is littered with examples of tyrants who have sought to stymie this freedom of expression and, conversely, reveals the tragedy of those whose voices have been silenced under such oppression.

So far so good but then she writes:

Freedom of expression is one thing, but hate speech is another. As a concept that has now entered common parlance, hate speech refers to attacks based on race, ethnicity, religion, and increasingly, on sexual orientation or preference. . .

But not all religions are equal when it comes to criticism. I’ve yet to read or hear anyone attacking Christianity accused of hate speech.

Let me be clear, hate speech is not free speech. . .

She’s right that hate speech, however, it’s defined, isn’t free speech.

But the point that free speech would permit people to indulge in hate speech appears to have escaped her.

. . . Academics have a responsibility to engage with the communities we serve, to correct error and prejudice and to offer expert views, informed by evidence, reason and well-informed argument.

Given the current dominance of wall-to-wall social media and the echo chambers of fake news, universities are in many ways obliged to make positive societal interventions.

Universities support our staff and students to push boundaries, test the evidence that is put to them and challenge societal norms, including examining controversial and unpopular ideas.

This also obliges our institutions to support staff if and when they are attacked for engaging in such debates.

In this regard, I am guided by the University of California’s former President Clark Kerr’s oft-cited maxim that “the role of universities is not to make ideas safe for students, but to make students safe for ideas”.

And as I regularly remind our graduates, with rights come responsibilities.

Public universities have an obligation to uphold our civic leadership role in society and our first responsibility, I would argue, is to do no harm.

Universities are characterised by the academic values of tolerance, civility, and respect for human dignity.

All of that is reasonable.

And that is why it is important to identify and call out any shift from free speech towards hate speech. The challenge we face is to clarify when that shift occurs and to counter it with reason and compassion.

While I have concerns about what exactly hate speech is, I can’t argue against countering it with reason and compassion.

But then she concludes:

Hate speech has no place at a university. My university values our commitment to ideas and scholarship and free expression. . .

Spot the contradiction: a commitment to free expression and the exlusion of hate speech.

A university of all places ought to be able to counter the misguided, misinformed and mistaken by reasoned and reasonable debate, not by shutting them up and shutting down their right to express their views, however wrong or revolting those views are.

Karl du Fresne writes we should be very suspicious about claims of “hate speech”:

. . . My first concern is that much of what is emotively described as hate speech isn’t hateful at all. Too often it simply means opinions and ideas that some people find distasteful or offensive. But merely being offended is no justification for stifling expressions of opinion in a liberal, open democracy that depends on the contest of ideas. 

More worryingly, accusations of “hate speech” can be used to intimidate people into silence and put discussion of certain issues and ideas off-limits. In fact I believe that’s the over-arching aim.

Anyway, who defines hate speech? The term is bandied around as if there’s some agreed definition. But there’s not, and freedom of expression is too precious to leave it to an aggrieved minority or an academic elite to define it and therefore determine what the rest of us may say.

It’s also an infinitely elastic term. In Britain, where police have the power to prosecute for hate speech, there have been some frightening cases of overkill and heavy-handedness. 

Better to set the legal bar high to allow plenty of space for free speech, as the courts have tended to do in New Zealand. By all means, draw the line at harmful acts, direct threats to people’s safety or incitements to violence against minorities. But the law already allows for criminal prosecution in such cases.

We have far more to fear from people who want to suppress speech than we do from those who say things that others find objectionable. The real issue here is language control – because if you can control the language people are allowed to use in political discourse, you can control the range of ideas people are permitted to articulate and explore. . .

No, language is the latest battleground in what is known as the culture wars. The mounting clamour for tougher laws against so-called hate speech is an outgrowth of identity politics, in which minority groups are encouraged to see themselves as oppressed or disadvantaged because of their colour, ethnicity, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation. 

Hate speech makes some colours, ethnicities, genders, religions and sexual orientations more equal than others.

This has generated a demand for protection from comments that might be seen as critical or belittling – hence the frequency with which we hear people being accused of xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny.

No one likes to have these labels pinned on them, so people keep their heads down. Accusing someone of hate speech has the same effect. It’s a quick way to shut down debate. . .

It’s so much easier to accuse someone of hate speech than it is to debate and counter what they say with facts and reason.

Journalists, of all people, should be ardent advocates of free speech because they have the most to fear if it’s abolished. In totalitarian regimes, journalists are often the first people to be imprisoned (as in Turkey) and even risk being murdered (as in Putin’s Russia).

But the most illiberal pronouncement I have read on the supposed dangers of free speech came from a university vice-chancellor who clearly thought that ordinary New Zealanders can’t be trusted to form their own sensible conclusions about contentious issues.

This pompous academic thought we needed guidance to keep us on the right path. And where from? Why, from universities.

We can infer from this that universities see themselves as having taken over the Churches’ role as moral arbiters. God help us all.

That the academic is vice chancellor of the same university the former-chancellor resigned from for saying something which got the crowd baying intrigues and concerns me.

Kelly wasn’t criticised for saying young men mature later and drink too much. He didn’t say that women don’t make good vets. He did say women work shorter hours than men.

He got his numbers wrong – saying women vets worked two-fifths of the time men did when younger vets work similar hours and after 30 women vets work an average of 37 hours a week and men an average of 45.

He might also be accused of not wording what he said better.

But over-egging the numbers and wording what he said somewhat clumsily ought to be a minor transgression.

A vice chancellor of a university, which is supposed to be a bastion of free speech, declaring that hers won’t  be ought to be a major one.

Kelly’s comments provoked an outrage, lots of media coverage and led to his resignation. All I’ve come across in response to Thomas’s declaration that Massey won’t uphold free speech are a very few well reasoned opinion pieces arguing against her.

Liam Hehir didn’t refer to Thomas’s remarks but he highlights the value of free speech and the danger in silencing it:

. . . New Zealand has developed a similar free-speech culture.

And the value of that culture isn’t that it protects racists and crackpots. It’s that it protects the humane and decent, who will not always hold the reins of power. The re-emergence of authoritarianism in continental Europe, where free-speech rights are less embedded, may well provide a warning here.

So should we accord liberal free speech rights to those with deplorable views? Yes. But it’s not to protect them from us. It’s to protect us from them.

Kelly stood down as chancellor for speaking freely, if what turned out to be unwisely in these politically-correct times. Vice chancellor Thomas declared Massey a free speech-free university and hardly raised an eye brow.

The uiniversity’s motto is floreat scientia – let knowledge flourish.

It isn’t qualified as some knowledge but if free speech can’t flourish there, can all knowledge?


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