Rural round-up

September 16, 2019

Farmers despair :

Rising stress levels among farmers struggling to digest a deluge of regulatory changes while weathering constant attacks by critics, have community leaders worried.

BakerAg director Chris Garland says morale is as low as he has ever known it and he is seeing experienced, stoic farmers burst into tears, worn down by constant public attacks on the industry while trying to comprehend the impact of new rules.

He is worried about the mental wellbeing of farmers, a view shared by the heads of several rural support trusts.

Rural Support’s national chairman Neil Bateup says demand for help in his region of Waikato has increased. . . 

The increasingly uncompromising Todd Muller – Alex Braae:

National’s new agriculture spokesperson finds himself in one of the party’s most important portfolios, at a time of dramatically increasing tensions in the sector. Will Todd Muller, a man regularly mentioned as a future leader contender, find common ground?

Todd Muller’s obsession with politics began with an American encyclopaedia, which his parents bought from a door to door salesman in 1979. 

The long biographies of US presidents jumped out at him. He copied their signatures, and drew pictures of them. In time, Muller even came to write a book about his future political dreams. 

“The short synopsis is that I go to America when I’m about 21, I become the vice-president of the United States when I’m 28, and then of course some tragedy befalls the president, and I become the president. And I serve as the United States president for 13 consecutive terms.”  . . 

Data and science do the work – Neal Wallace:

The topography of The Ranch in south Otago is steep to rolling hill country but it is managed and performs like an intensive breeding and finishing farm. Farm managers Maurice and Renee Judson tell Neal Wallace much of the performance comes down to decisions based on science and data.

The impact of data on agriculture has been reckoned to be comparable to that of fertiliser.

The challenge is to decipher that volume of data about farm performance and parameters into a workable form and that is where south Otago farm managers Maurice and Renee Judson have an ace up their sleeve.

The farm is owned by Canterbury-born Lincoln University-trained lecturer and plant physiologist Dr David Ivory who has spent about 30 years working for the United Nations on sustainable agricultural programmes around the world and his wife Wichanee. . . 

Let’s get behind our rural community – Kerre McIvor:

A couple of years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a column calling for there to be a Cockietober – a month to celebrate farmers and their invaluable contribution to the economy.

I felt, back in 2017, that farmers had got a rough ride during the election campaign, and that farmers were getting it in the neck unfairly. They were being blamed for the poor water quality in New Zealand despite the fact that city dwellers are letting literal and metaphorical crap flow into their harbours and rivers. They were being told how to manage their stock by people who’d never set foot on a farm. They were told they didn’t pay their workers enough, they were being told they were destroying the planet by providing milk and meat for consumers, they were told they mistreated their animals.

I thought things were bad two years ago. But it appears things have got much, much worse.

In an open letter to the nation, BakerAg, a rural business consultancy firm, has called for people to get in behind our rural community. . . 

Sheep water ban stuns farmers – Colin Williscroft:

Farmers have been broadsided by a rule in a proposed regional council plan that will cost some of them $1 million each.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s proposed Natural Resources Plan includes sheep among stock to be excluded from waterways throughout the region, including hill country, a rule neither farmers nor the council saw coming.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham said the rule was not raised during the plan’s hearings process.

But the proposal is unworkable. . . 

Launch of the New Zealand Agritech Story:

New Zealand has a new story to tell, one that highlights the nation’s ingenuity, development of cutting-edge technology, and care for its people and place.

The New Zealand Agritech Story provides a compelling way of promoting New Zealand’s agricultural technology internationally, to build awareness and preference for New Zealand solutions and ultimately help more New Zealand agritech businesses succeed on the world stage.

The NZ Agritech Story, launched today, includes a comprehensive suite of free promotional materials that highlight New Zealand’s leading edge in the sector.

Peter Wren-Hilton, the executive director of Agritech New Zealand, said the story would make a key difference for export companies. . . 

Brazil’s fires and biofuels – Jim Steele:

From leaf cutting ants that cultivate fungus gardens to flowers that fool potential pollinating insects into having sex, the magic of rainforest ecology always inspired my love for nature’s creativity. So, it’s no surprise that any and every report of burning rainforests would rally deep concerns across the globe. Nonetheless I am disturbed by dishonest gloom and doom regards recent Amazon fires. NASA reports since 2003 the square kilometers of forest burned each year has dropped by roughly 25 percent. But such good news doesn’t get headlines.

Although the NY Times wrote the fires have no climate connection, meteorologist Eric Holthaus, who writes numerous catastrophic climate articles for Slate and the New York Times, suggested the fires show, “We are in a climate emergency”. As of August 16, 2019, an analysis of NASA satellite data indicated that total fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years, but Holthaus dishonestly tweeted, “The current fires are without precedent in the past 20,000 years.”

To heighten global hysteria, French president Macron and actor Leonardo deCaprio, tweeted photographs of forest infernos. But those photos were taken 20 years ago. Likewise, Madonna tweeted wildfire photos taken 30 years ago, and others tweeted flaming photos from regions far from the Amazon.

Activist vegetarians denounced meat-eaters for deforestation, arguing forests are burnt to create pastures for cattle. But they failed to mention pastures previously created for grazing without deforestation, are now being usurped by biofuel cultivation. Indirectly, it’s the biofuel fad that has driven cattle grazers to carve out new pastures in the rain forests. . . 


Rural round-up

August 26, 2015

Potential for more dairy exports to South East Asia:

A new government-commissioned report highlights the potential for the New Zealand dairy industry to increase its exports of consumer products into South East Asia.

New Zealand is already the largest supplier of milk powder to countries in the region and also has a strong share of the trade in most other dairy products.

But the report said growing demand offered plenty of opportunity for consumer-ready dairy products as well. . . 

More changes for Alliance leadership – Neal Wallace:

There is further change at the head of Alliance Group with two of the longest serving directors announcing their retirement.

Less than a year after chief executive Grant Cuff retired, directors Murray Donald and Doug Brown have announced they are also to retire, effective from December’s annual meeting.

That leaves chairman Murray Taggart as the only supplier representative with more than four years’ experience. . . 

Ravensdown caps fertiliser price:

Ravensdown – the fertiliser farmer co-operative – has capped the price of its superphosphate product to give farmers a firm number to budget with. 

Chief executive Greg Campbell said the product’s price will be fixed at $320 a tonne until the end of November.

Superphosphate is a fertiliser used on dairy, livestock and cropping farms.

Mr Campbell said the company’s balance sheet was in good health, which allowed it to delay any possible price rises.

He said this was a first for the company. . . 

Halfway mark in 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Referendum:

One in five registered voters have cast their vote at the halfway mark in the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons said the turnout was pleasing and he was encouraging farmers to vote before the voting closes on September 10.

“It is important for farmers to have their say and ensure that the organisation has a strong mandate to continue its activities on behalf of farmers.”

By the end of this week farmers throughout the country will have had the opportunity to attend one of the 53 referendum information meetings being hosted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand Directors, the local farmers of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council and members of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s senior management team. . . 

More crop insurance more problems? – Brad Wassink:

Helen Fessenden at the Richmond Fed recently published an informative article in Econ Focus on the history and development of the federal crop insurance program — and on why many are criticizing it.

Under the new farm bill, crop insurance is estimated to be nearly 20% more expensive than under the previous 2008 bill. It is expected to cost $41 billion over five years.

Some contend that the program should be viewed as a success. For one, its reach is nearly universal: 90% of farmland is covered. They claim that the substantial benefits provided by the program negate the need for one-off disaster relief packages — for damages caused by a natural disaster such as a hurricane or severe drought — that are often expensive and inefficient. The new crop insurance programs cover even more crops.

But as Fessenden notes, economists, taxpayer groups, and the GAO all point to the program’s core problem: . . 

South Canterbury Rural Support Trust's photo.

Submissions sought on carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and diazinon reassessment:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) welcomes submissions on its reassessment of some organophosphates and carbamates (OPCs). The reassessment will cover substances containing carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and diazinon used as active ingredients in veterinary medicines or in substances used as non-plant protection insecticides (in and around buildings, on hard surfaces, and in industrial situations).

This reassessment follows the EPA’s previous OPC reassessment in June 2013, which considered only OPCs that were used as insecticides for plant protection.

This reassessment application has been prepared by the staff of the EPA on behalf of the Chief Executive. It is being undertaken because of concerns about the safety and well-being of people and the environment resulting from the use of carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and diazinon. . . 

And with a hat tip to : Kiwiblog:

 


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