Rural round-up

24/11/2022

‘Greenie by default’ farmer speaks out against Govt restrictions – Sally Rae :

The Black family have been farming at Ermedale, about 10km north of Riverton, since 1924.

Third-generation Leon Black is currently at the helm of the property, with wife Wendy — the couple have four children — and he would like to see the family there for another century.

‘‘With the current settings, I would say I’m wasting my bloody time,’’ he said succinctly.

Years ago, Mr Black became interested in breeding animals that produced less methane but with higher production. . . 

More time needed – Peter Burke :

Democracy by stealth – that’s how a highly-respected dairy industry leader Ben Allomes is describing the present Government’s consultation with farmers over agricultural emissions and other issues.

“It is overwhelming and unrealistic for us to be able to give honest democratic feedback on every piece of legislation that they are working on the moment,” he told Rural News.

Allomes, a former DairyNZ director, is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take the pressure off farmers and give them more time to properly understand and digest the huge raft of changes that the Government is trying to push through before next year’s election.

He reckons the Government has got a massive number of things they want to achieve before the next election and says most of these seem to be aimed at the primary sector. He says these include greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, animal welfare and labour. Allomes says this is on top of farmers trying to deal with the uncertainties around Covid, such as disrupted supply chains and increasing costs, all of which are creating an uncertain business environment. . . 

Kiwi entity working to change how overseas customers view wool :

A new entity established to promote the strong wool sector is working to change how overseas customers view the product.

Strong wool prices have been subdued in recent years, with the price often not enough to cover the cost of shearing the sheep.

With support from the government, Wool Impact NZ was launched in July with the aim of working with brands to get strong wool products into markets quickly and speed up returns to farmers.

Chief executive Andy Caughey said their work was being helped by the fact that consumers were moving away from fast fashion and synthetic fibres. . . 

Italian label toasts NZ Merino partnership – Sally Rae:

Turn the clock back 25 years and merino growers were told longer wools were a problem and were being heavily discounted by European buyers.

At the same time, the New Zealand Merino Company was formed to specifically champion merino fibre. Chief executive John Brakenridge and Andy Caughey — now chief executive of Wool Impact — approached Italian company Loro Piana and laid down the challenge of finding a way to use those longer wools in a premium product.

As NZM general manager commercial Keith Ovens recalls, it took much investment, trial and error at the Loro Piana processing plant but, in 1997, Pier Luigi Loro Piana issued the first three-year contract for longer wools (90mm-105mm at 18.8 micron), and at a $2 premium to the spinners market of the day.

The Zealander fabric was subsequently launched to Loro Piana’s prestigious client base around the world. It was one of the first fabrics made from 100% New Zealand wool, at a time when growers had been told by the trade that New Zealand wool was only good enough to be used as a blend with wool from other countries, Mr Ovens said. . . 

It’s not the cows, it’s the fossil fuels – Meg Chatham :

A new report shows that greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas facilities worldwide are about three times higher than their producers claim.

Last week, Climate TRACE, a non-profit coalition of researchers, data analysts, and NGOs who use satellite coverage, artificial intelligence, and remote sensing to independently track human-caused emissions, published a new report showing that half of the 50 largest sources of global greenhouse gas emissions are oil and gas production facilities.

From the report:

In no sector is the power of Climate TRACE’s emissions monitoring approach more apparent than in oil and gas. Last year’s Climate TRACE inventory found that emissions from oil and gas production, transport, and refining had been significantly underestimated — owing, in part, to limited reporting requirements and consistent underestimates of methane emissions from both intentional flaring as well as leaks. . . 

Yealands turns green grapes into gree apples with global sustainability awards :

New Zealand premium wine producer, Yealands Wine Group, has won two golds at the 2022 International Green Apple Awards for its ground-breaking Biodiversity Plan, officially launched today.

Yealands attended a special awards ceremony at London’s Houses of Parliament on November 21 to acknowledge the company’s pioneering work to create a more biodiverse environment.

Yealands topped the Regeneration and Carbon Reduction categories at the awards, run by global non-profit The Green Organisation to recognise environmental best practice around the world. Judges were impressed by the company’s 30-year Biodiversity Plan, which will see around 270 ha at its vineyard in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley planted with more than 1,000,000 native trees to improve water quality and protect and enhance sensitive natural areas.

As the first wine producer in the world to be Toitū carboNZero Certified from day one, Yealands has always measured, reduced and offset all emissions. The Biodiversity Plan goes even further to make a positive difference to the environment and community. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/11/2022

Māori farmers upset at proposal – Peter Burke :

In an unusual move, the Māori Trustee and chief executive of Te Tumu Paeroa Dr Charlotte Severne says she’ll be making a submission on the Government’s agricultural emissions proposals.

Severne administers as trustee or agent for approximately 1,800 Māori Land Trusts and other Māori entities. This is about one third of all Māori Land Trusts. Te Tumu Paeroa is therefore effectively a major Māori land owner.

Speaking exclusively to Rural News at the recent Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards she noted that the pressures on the sheep and beef sector now are real and she wants to see the rapid development of good well-qualified leaders. Severne is concerned about the way Māori are treated by some government departments.

“I believe that big parts of government don’t understand Māori land. They think we are group of farms that are doing really well, whereas – in fact – most Māori land is on a lease portfolio and in small parcels,” she told Rural News. . . 

Put a cap on unworkable emissions plan – Malcolm Bailey:

The HWEN furore shows neither the government nor the industry has the answer, says Malcolm Bailey.

Openly opposed by industry as well as the political opposition, the government’s emissions pricing proposal looks dead in the water and should be scuttled. Perhaps the government has done us a favour by amplifying the weaknesses of the levy approach and the stupidity of cutting New Zealand’s world-leading low emissions production. 

Both He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) and the government proposal should go to the bottom and make way for a new solution that follows key principles, uses market solutions, and works.  

What has also been exposed is that HWEN was never a genuine partnership. 

The government has come up with new impact modelling and rejection of the emissions leakage risk with no link to earlier work or credibility. . . 

An unpopular move whatever your position – Alan Emmerson :

Feds-commissioned research uncovers some surprises on attitudes to the farm tax.

To state my position: I accept the climate is changing and we need to do something about it. I believe much of the science we get quoted is dodgy and I don’t believe New Zealand should be leading the world on anything. We’re a small insignificant country in the South Pacific.

I further accept that 19 out of 20 of our politicians wouldn’t know a cart from a horse and that 99% of our civil servants are woefully ignorant of the practicalities of life on the farm.

When it comes to our emissions, I do not accept that markets will open if we reduce them and have seen zero evidence to back that up. With floods, drought, pestilence and the war in Ukraine, food will be at a premium and I don’t believe we’re making enough of our grass-fed status, let alone anything else.

In addition, the majority of Kiwis support farmers’ current practices as evidenced in a recent poll by Federated Farmers. . . 

Alliance chief executive resigns – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor has resigned from the co-operative after nearly eight years in the role.

The company announced yesterday that Mr Surveyor would leave by the end of April next year to return home to Australia and the board would begin the search for his replacement.

In a statement, chairman Murray Taggart said he had “regrettably” accepted Mr Surveyor’s resignation.

However, the board understood his desire to pursue other opportunities. . . 

The worst is still to come – Peter Burke :

Driving from home base in the Horowhenua through Hawke’s Bay and up the East Coast, it’s pretty evident that feed for cows is in short supply and that ground is still wet.

There are large puddles in many paddocks and there is little evidence of grass silage being made. On last week’s trip to Napier I saw only two farms where silage was being cut and, in both instances, the amount of grass that had been cut was pretty meagre compared to previous seasons when one would have seen a hive of activity, cutting and bailing grass silage.

The word from farm consultants is that silage production is significantly below what is normal for this time of the year and that this and the planting of crops is at least a month behind normal. To add to the problem, the view is the grass is ‘gutless’ and of poor quality because of the lack of sunshine and the continuous rain. One farmer told me that he couldn’t remember a week when it hadn’t rained.

For dairy farmers this is the ‘money time’ – when production is supposed to be at its peak – but it isn’t and the number being quoted is that milk production will be down by 4% on last season which itself was not a good season. . .

Innovation will help farmers feed a world of 8 billion and counting – Gurjeet Singh Mann :

You can mark the date on your calendar: On November 15, 2022, a mother will give birth to a baby who is the world’s 8 billionth person.

This milestone in human history comes to us from an estimate by demographers at the United Nations.

They also predict that next year, my country of India will pass China as the planet’s most populous nation, with about 1.4 billion people.

This means the expanding population will need much more food than we ever had before. If we’re going to feed them, we need another Green Revolution and a lot more for India as well as for the rest of the world. Farmers must enjoy access to the full power of modern technology so that we can do our part to meet the necessities of life. . . 


Rural round-up

04/11/2022

Southland consent boycott grows – Neal Wallace:

Nearly two-thirds of the 3500 Southland farms (pāmu) that intensively winter-graze stock may need resource consent, according to the ACT Party.

But for some of those farmers (kaimahi pāmu), that will be irrelevant, with about 1000 who attended a meeting in Invercargill last week supporting action that ignores the requirement to get consent for winter grazing.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there is no compulsion to take this approach, but the federation’s executive has agreed not to seek resource consent to show solidarity with farmers who take a similar stance.

“People will now know if they make a decision not to apply for consent, they are not the only person operating illegally.” . . 

Costs subdue sheep, beef outlook – Sally Rae:

The outlook for global sheepmeat and beef demand is positive for the 2022-23 season, although an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ margins, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s new season outlook report says.

In Otago-Southland, gross farm revenue was forecast to drop 4.5% to average $654,900 per farm, driven by lower sheep revenue, which was forecast to decline 7.7%.

That decline was driven by lower sheep prices, fewer store lambs sold and reduced lambing percentages because of drought conditions in autumn.

Snow storms in early October were also likely to impact lambing results for many, especially high and hill country farms. . . 

a2 Milk gets approval from American food authorities to break into the US infant formula market – Point of Order :

The  a2 Milk  Company has  made a  breakthrough  into  the lucrative  US  market, winning approval  from the  US  Food  and  Drug  Administration to  market  its infant formula product  in  the  US.

The company will be  able  to take  advantage  of  the  shortage  of  supply   there  because  one  of  the  main  local  manufacturers  went  out of  production.  Another  beneficiary   will be  Synlait  Milk  which  manufactures  infant formula   for  a2Milk.

Previously   a2 Milk has  been  limited  to  marketing  its  liquid  product  in  the  US.

Now, once  it  gets  a  foothold  in the  US  for  its  infant  formula,  it could  get  a  sharp  boost  to  its  revenue. In   its  most  recent  year, it  achieved  a net  profit  of  $114m,  59%  ahead of the  previous  year. . . 

Letting go of the reins – Russell Priest

Letting go of the reins can be hard for many farmers, but Mairi Whittle says her dad was happy to step back and take orders.

Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle has no regrets her dad, Jim threw her in at the deep end when she returned to the family farm, Makatote, 24km northeast of Taihape four years ago.

The 32-year-old Lincoln graduate and ex-rural banker has nothing but praise for her father, especially the way he managed the transition and the excellent state of the farm when she took over.

“Dad was happy to take orders but didn’t want the responsibility of running the farm any more,” Mairi says. 

Robotics to turn vines into no man’s land – Richard Rennie :

A concentrated five-year stretch of research and development by Tauranga-based agri-tech firm Robotics Plus is poised to pay off in coming months as the company goes commercial with its unmanned ground vehicle design.

Robotics Plus CEO Steve Saunders has just returned from California, where he oversaw the launch and demonstration of the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) at FIRA USA, an event showcasing autonomous agricultural equipment and robotics for the United States market.

The company has already built a strong presence in the States, thanks to its automated apple-sorting and -packing equipment installed in the country’s apple-growing capital, Washington, among other states.

Saunders says the UGV is designed as a modular machine capable of having multiple tools interchanged depending upon the orchard application, whether that be spraying, pruning, harvesting or mowing. It can also be adapted to different crop types. . . .

Argentina set to permit wheat export delays amid drought – sources – Maximilian Heath:

Argentina’s government is set to announce measures, potentially within days, to allow wheat exporters to delay agreed shipments after a major drought hammered the crop, raising concern about domestic supply.

A source at the country’s CEC grains exporting chamber, which represents companies buying the grain, said measures would be released “in the coming days” to allow firms to reschedule agreed wheat exports without facing the normal 15% fine from authorities.

A government source with direct knowledge of the matter said that measures to permit wheat shipment delays were “probable”. “It’s being studied,” the source said.

The comments are the strongest indication yet that Argentina, one of the world’s top wheat exporters, will seek to delay exports of the grain amid a drought that threatens to cause the worst harvest in nearly a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

20/10/2022

Genetic modification in New Zealand – scientists call for 20-year rethink – Jamie Morton:

Twenty years after the Corngate scandal turned genetic modification into a political hot potato, leading science figures hope a new review will bring changes. Jamie Morton reports.

It’s called ciltacabtagene autoleucel.

Its trading name, Carvykti, doesn’t roll off the tongue any easier.

But it marks a major milestone in one of our most complex, contentious and enduring debates: genetic modification. . .

Fonterra’s competitors challenges its capital restructuring plan but the co-op has the backing of our agriculture minister – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s   big  dairy  company, Fonterra,  has  come  under  pressure   from  two  directions  this  week.  First,  its  fortnightly GDT auction registered  another   fall  in  prices. Second,  it  faced  fire   from   four  of  its  competitors which  lobbied  the  government against  its  capital  restructuring  plan.

On  the  first issue, the latest  sale  has  taken  the GDT index  to  the  lowest level  since  January  last  year, although  what  may  soften that particular  blow  is  the  devaluation  of  the  local  currency. The  NZ dollar is  now  trading well  down against  the  greenback at US56c ,  from where  it  was  then,  around US70c.

The average price at the  auction fell 4.6% to US$3723 a tonne, after falling 3.5% in the previous auction.

Prices have generally been falling since hitting a record high in March. . .

Sharing story sustainability – Sally Rae:

As Becks Smith prepares to record her podcast The Whole Story, she puts a port-a-cot mattress on the headboard of her bed to help with sound quality.

Her bedroom doubled as a studio, given many of the rooms of the Maniototo farmhouse she shares with husband Jason and their three young children, were too echoey.

Occasionally, their working dogs could be heard barking in the background of the podcast, while rural connectivity issues sometimes also had to be worked through.

But it summed her up; rather than having a slick studio somewhere, it was authentic and real, based on a 700ha sheep, beef and deer property in the heart of rural Otago.

“To resonate with farmers, you don’t need polished and shiny,” she said. . .

Lambs to slaughter  – Clive Bibby :

Any farmer trying to get space for lambs that need to be killed before they cut their teeth will identify with this very apt description which could also be applied to a wider difficulty that is affecting the whole country.

Unfortunately the problem in all its forms is a direct result of the government’s obsession with an ideological target that is being increasingly seen as a misplaced interpretation of world climatic events – particularly in how we in New Zealand should react in mitigation to the perceived threat of global warming.

Most intelligent observers, especially those of us charged with rescuing the nation from the avoidable mistakes made during Covid, will be appalled, if not frightened by the government’s determination to pursue the disastrous path on which we have all been committed. 

As one approaching the twilight years of my life and a keen admirer of the farmers who have time and again over the years come to the rescue of the dangerous halfwits we have mistakenly elected to the highest office in the land, I am worried that this time, our collective effort may not be enough. . .

Southern Pastures measuring dairy for good :

Ethical investor Southern Pastures, the country’s largest institutional dairy investment fund, has been judged to be a Responsible Investment Leader for the seventh year running.

It remains the only organization from New Zealand’s agriculture and food sectors to ever be included in the annual benchmark report released by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).

Southern Pastures owns 19 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury and is the owner of premium dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery and wholesale business NZ Grass Fed Products LP.

“So often the pastoral industry is judged by outputs such as emissions, but we’re not nearly as rigorously measured or assessed for the positive services that some of us provide,” says Prem Maan, Southern Pastures’ Executive Chairman. . . 

New Zealand’s top sausages announced :

New World Te Rapa in Hamilton and Zaroa Meats in Auckland have been announced as the Supreme Award joint winners in the 2022 Great New Zealand Sausage Competition. The judges couldn’t split New World Te Rapa’s Pork sausage and Zaroa Meats’ Aoraki Salami, instead crowning them joint winners of the Supreme Award.

The successful sausages were announced at a special Sausage Mixer event this evening where butchers from across the nation gathered to find out who had taken out the top spot. It’s not the first time there has been a tie, but judges were unanimous that both sausages had all the qualities they were looking for to beat out over 530 other entries.

Porsche Davis, of New World Te Rapa says “I wasn’t expecting this at all. I wasn’t expecting to win gold to start with let alone this” When asked the secret to their Supreme sausage, Porsche Davis was giving nothing away “We did recently update our pork sausage recipe, it’s made from New Zealand pork but I can’t reveal any trade secrets, you have to try it to understand!”

Marc Zabern of Zaroa Meats says “my father is the mastermind behind the supreme salami, he’s been designing the most incredible sausages for years now and when he created this Wagyu and Venison Salami we knew it was special. It’s a taste sensation.” . . 


Rural round-up

18/10/2022

Govt emissions scheme ‘attack on  food production’ – Sally Rae:

Farmers this week have been decrying the Government’s proposal for farm-level emissions pricing. Business and rural editor Sally Rae talks to an innovative Southland farmer who describes the move as an attack on food production.

Earlier this week, Blair Drysdale posted a photograph on social media of a crop of oats thriving in northern Southland.

It was destined to eventually end up as porridge oats, served up as a healthy homegrown breakfast on tables around the country’s homes.

But on the back of what Mr Drysdale described as the “Government attack on food production” — a proposed scheme that would require farmers to pay for agricultural emissions in some form by 2025 — he expected that would ultimately lead to a “dramatic” price increase for that porridge. . . 

Harakeke stronger and cleaner than fibreglass – Nikki Mandow :

Two 22-year-old industrial design students making a low-carbon fibreglass alternative out of harakeke are raising $2m to start taking their product global

Ben Scales knew harakeke was tough. He remembers running over a bush as a teenager the first time he got to use his parents’ ride-on mower. He blunted a brand new blade.

So when as an industrial product design student at Canterbury University he and fellow student William Murrell started looking for natural, carbon-friendly alternatives to materials like fibreglass and carbon fibre, he thought about the humble plant known as New Zealand flax.

“I was doing a materials engineering paper and learning about composite materials and I got a carbon fibre splinter and a headache from all the resins we were using and thought ‘This is a horrible industry’. And being a Gen Z perfectionist I’m like ‘How can we make some changes?’” . . 

Feds urges core infrastructure focus this councils triennium :

There are myriad issues facing local government but always keep front of mind the topic that was likely top of the list of most residents’ concerns out on the campaign trail – their rates bills.

That’s the request to newly-elected councillors up and down the country from Federated Farmers local government spokesperson Sandra Faulkner, with the final results in some close electoral races now confirmed.

“Federated Farmers congratulates all successful candidates, and thanks all of those who stood. It takes courage to put your name forward for an election,” says Sandra, who has just stepped down from a district council elected role herself.

As it has in the lead-up to past local government elections, Federated Farmers published a 2022 ‘platform’ of hot council issues, outlining the farming sector’s concerns and suggested changes on everything from three waters and Resource Management reform to rural road maintenance, climate change and environmental regulation. . . 

OSPRI advising hunters not to release pigs into new areas :

OSPRI are advising pig hunters not to release and relocate pigs into new areas. Not only is it illegal, but it can also spread disease and unintentionally restrict hunting in the area.

Over the years, OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. OSPRI’s North Island regional partner Phil Dawson says this work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected pigs with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population. “Essentially moving and releasing pigs from one area to another area can also introduce TB into an area. Possums can scavenge a hunted pig carcass or offal and get infected with TB.”

Steve McFall from the Te Kuiti Pig Hunting Club explains that anyone who is releasing pigs from an area that is TB country is putting pig hunting at risk and could severely restrict hunting in that region.

“The ramifications for livestock are huge, and it also negatively impacts the pig hunter because if TB is found in wildlife in the region any control measures taken can interrupt hunting in that area.” . . 

New Zealand Food Awards 2022 supreme triple win for Poaka proves small sustainable succeeds :

Sustainability was the winning theme at last night’s New Zealand Food Awards gala dinner, with free-range pork company Poaka taking three awards for its Whole Chorizo salami product, including Supreme Winner and both the Primary Sector and Cuisine Artisan Awards.

New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) sponsored the Primary Sector category and Food Safety Minister Meka Whaitiri presented at the event in Palmerston North.

NZFS deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle says the high quality of entrants was a good illustration of the quality and innovation driving the food sector.

“We have an excellent food system in New Zealand, driven by passionate, hard-working New Zealanders. These awards are an excellent opportunity to recognise some of that talent. . . 

Welcome clarity on gene editing – Erin K. Gowriluk:

After years of farmers being on the offensive on the gene editing issue, there is finally some positive news for our industry.

Following lengthy public consultations and data review, Health Canada concluded crops developed through gene editing are safe and, in most cases, will not require a pre-market safety assessment.

Gene editing is a technology where scientists alter specific genes in a plant to achieve desired traits. Experts believe it has the potential to reshape plant science, enabling a more rapid development of crop varieties.

With the elimination of the pre-market assessment requirement, crop science companies will no longer be required to conduct costly and time consuming trials to prove a crop is safe for humans and the environment. This update clarifies the guidance for public and private sector researchers working to bring nutritional, environmental and production enhancements to grains and oilseeds with the latest plant breeding techniques. . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2022

Plant and pollute or right tree, right place for the right purpose? – 50 Shades of Green:

We acknowledge with gratitude the latest comments from the Climate Change Commission. That the ETS allows companies to “plant and pollute” and needs reform. These comments are consistent with 50 Shades of Green long running assertions that indeed, the ETS needs a good overhaul.

We continue to ask the Government. Please pause before the Sheep and Beef sector is challenged out of existence. [1]

What has happened under current policy settings? Instead of driving a change in behaviour, at source, the opposite has resulted in our valuable breeding country, the top of the supply chain, used as a proxy, relying too heavily on planting trees to absorb polluters’ carbon dioxide emissions.

While the government takes its time reviewing the ETS, our issue is they have happily ignored our valid and vindicated concerns. Uncritically relying too heavily on what we can only assume is official advice and not acknowledging the devastating effects on New Zealand Hill country constantly put to them. The recent additional sales confirmed, and in the pipeline of more valuable stations lost from the sector that produces c$10b in receipts for the country are gone for good. Sweeping rural communities away in their path. . . 

Huge gains for industry in 50 years of deer farming science :

From a noxious pest that should be exterminated to livestock providing high value products to the world, the deer industry in New Zealand has come a long way in 50 years – and the research that made it possible is now being celebrated.

An event next week at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin will mark 50 years of deer farming science at the site by AgResearch and its predecessor organisations, always in close partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The half century of research has included major advances in understanding of deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics, and in development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world.

“Fifty years ago, researcher Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter thought it might be a good idea to put some science in behind the newly emerging deer farming industry,” says AgResearch’s programme leader for Deer Science for Success, Jamie Ward.

“With incredible backing by early industry participants, innovation, positivity, and fantastic researchers, Invermay became synonymous with the evolution of the New Zealand deer farming industry and earned an international reputation for its science and research output.” . . 

How CH4 Global is turning seaweed into fodder for farm ruminants – and hopes to cool the climate – Point of Order:

Big  strides  are  being  made in the  development  of  a  seaweed-based   product  which,  it  is  claimed,  reduces  methane  emissions in ruminant animals  by up  to 90%.

The product, which its champions say could resolve New Zealand’s climate change threat  from  methane emissions  in  the nation’s  dairy  herd, has  been sold  for  the  first  time—-to  an  Australian customer.

It has been made by CH4 Global™, Inc., a company which says it is

”… on an urgent mission to address climate change by providing our seaweed-based Asparagopsis products to farmers worldwide so they can dramatically reduce the methane emissions of their livestock and realize significant value in the process.” . . 

Trading trees for cows – Nikki Mandow:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is to report next month on offsetting short-lived methane emissions from livestock by planting fast-growing forests – a bid to address two of NZ’s most vexed climate problems simultaneously

Dr Rod Carr says markets – in this case the Emissions Trading Scheme – have an important part to play sending signals about the real costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

But speaking at the Climate Change & Business Conference this week, the Climate Change Commission chair warns the “plant and pollute” nature of the present trading scheme, where companies can buy their way towards net carbon zero using forestry plantings as offsets, risks allowing them to get away with not reducing their actual carbon emissions.

That’s why New Zealand needs new solutions – and just across Wellington, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is exploring one such. . . 

Volatility and vulnerability in the rural sector :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -126 fewer farm sales (-38.2%) for the three months ended August 2022 than for the three months ended August 2021. Overall, there were 204 farm sales in the three months ended August 2022, compared to 255 farm sales for the three months ended July 2022 (-20%), and 330 farm sales for the three months ended August 2021.

1,545 farms were sold in the year to August 2022 — 278 fewer than were sold in the year to August 2021, with 2.6% more Dairy farms, 25.2% fewer Dairy Support, 21.5% fewer Grazing farms, 13.9% fewer Finishing farms and 17.5% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2022 was $25,690 compared to $27,170 recorded for the three months ended August 2021 (-5.4%). The median price per hectare decreased by 6.5% compared to July 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased 8.3% in the three months to August 2022 compared to the three months to July 2022. Compared to the three months ending August 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 3.6%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . .

Bill drawn to help cellar-door wine tasting:

A law change that will help streamline the process required for wineries to sell samples at the cellar door has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today, MP for Kaikoura and National’s Viticulture spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill will plug an important gap in the old legislation so that winery cellar doors can now charge visitors for wine samples without having to secure a separate on-license and all the costs associated with that.

“While this may be a small change, it will make a big difference to New Zealand’s wineries.

“This Bill has been drawn at an opportune time as wineries have faced significant costs and reduced production as a result of the pandemic. This regulatory change will ensure that they can provide cellar door services without the unnecessary extra red-tape. . .

 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ entries open October 1st:

With just over a week until entries open in the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional programmes are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to learn how to deliver over 48 events and numerous judging days..

General Manager Robin Congdon says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season.

“The conference will be a busy few days, ensuring everyone knows what’s required to deliver the dynamic programme and bring them up to speed on this year’s changes made to the Share Farmer category judging process,” he says.

“The Exec have reviewed extensive feedback on last year’s changes to the Dairy Manager and Dairy Trainee categories, which was overwhelmingly positive. . .


Rural round-up

08/09/2022

In defence of the Kiwi diet – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth disagrees with UK author George Monbiot’s argument that the average New Zealanders diet meat-loving diet could be devastating for the planet.

Overseas experts are not necessarily experts in the New Zealand context.

It seems to be taking us a very long time to realise this, even though we acknowledge that New Zealand is unique.

The country’s geological youth and maritime climate, combined with relatively recent settlement and educated population, mean that the development of the country has followed a different pathway to that of most countries. . . 

Rustling in the spotlight after hundreds of sheep stolen from North Canterbury farm :

The scale of a North Canterbury livestock theft reported to police on Sunday is uncommon, Federated Farmers says, but it estimates rustling is costing New Zealand farmers around $120 million a year.

Farmer Maury Leyland posted on Twitter about the theft of “hundreds” of sheep on Friday and asked for information.

“Beyond gutted, we have had rustlers on our farm in [North] Canterbury,” she wrote.

“Hundreds of sheep stolen. Yards, dogs, and truck must have come in. Someone must have seen something.” . . 

New apricots launching – Stephen Hepburn :

Tastier, juicier and brighter — new types of apricots are to be launched on the domestic and overseas market this summer which, long term, could bring millions of dollars to the Central Otago economy.

The newly established NZ Summer Fresh company announced yesterday it planned to commercialise the first three new apricot cultivars released by Plant & Food Research after nearly two decades of research and development.

Company chairman Stephen Darling said more than 50,000 trees of the new varieties, covering 60ha, were under trial in Central Otago and parts of the North Island.

The three varieties — yet to be properly named — have the potential to give apricot growers a significant boost and lead to increased planting of the fruit. . . 

Forestry conversion: effect on stock numbers expected to become clearer – Sally Rae:

While the increase in farm sales into forestry is yet to lead to a significant reduction in stock numbers, it can be expected very soon, Beef + Lamb New Zealand says.

B+LNZ’s latest stock number survey highlighted the extent of farmland being converted to forestry and said the real impact on livestock numbers was yet to be realised, while the hidden costs were “the demise of rural communities” and labour availability.

In a statement, B+LNZ economic service chief economist Andrew Burtt said there was usually a lag between farm sales and plantings, and planting was constrained by availability of seedlings and labour.

Sheep numbers nationally were steady over the past 12 months and beef cattle numbers fell only slightly, despite unfavourable conditions in some regions. . . 

Milk pick up off to a slow start :

Fonterra says its milk collections for July were 2.4% lower than July last year.

However, this represents only 25 of the full season forecast collection.

“Extremely wet conditions were experienced throughout July, but milk volumes have generally been comparable to the previous season.

“Calving is in full swing in the North Island, with the South Island starting in early August,” it says. . . 

Fonterra launches wellbeing nutrition solutions brand :

Fonterra is taking another step in implementing its strategy to be a leader in nutrition science and innovation with the launch of a new wellbeing solution brand, Nutiani.

The new business-to-business brand is targeted at both the multi-billion-dollar medical and everyday wellbeing nutrition markets.

Fonterra’s Chief Innovation and Brand Officer Komal Mistry-Mehta says the creation of the new brand brings to life concepts that help customers tailor their products to meet consumers’ evolving wellbeing nutrition needs.

“Our health and wellbeing customers are facing growing pressure to accelerate their innovation pipeline to respond to these dynamic consumer demands, yet they face common challenges during new product development and are looking for partners to fill their capability gaps. . .


Rural round-up

24/08/2022

Getting super growth into those tree seedlings is simple – it can be done for a song (or two) and some nurturing conversation – Point of Order:

The Government’s esteem for science and science-based research findings can be gauged from a press statement released by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The statement gives a progress report on a New Zealand Forest Services’ partnership with a marae-based tree-growing project and its grant of nearly $500,000 over two years through the One Billion Trees (1BT) programme.

It suggests the money has been well spent because – it transpires – the trees being grown on the marae are out-performing trees grown elsewhere.

This is instructive, pointing to how the Government can pick up the pace in bringing the ambitious One Billion Trees programme to a triumphant conclusion. . . 

Rural stalwart has pests in his sights – Sally Rae:

It takes a fair bit of pluck to be a possum dispatcher.

Just ask Jason Rogers, the West Otago owner of Aotearoa Pest Control, who works with farmers in the area to rid their properties of pesky pests.

He is a rural man through-and-through; throughout his career, he has done everything from farming to shearing.

But after accidents had taken a toll on his body, he decided it was time to go back to what he had always done — pest control, an occupation he could do at his own pace. . . 

Valais cute, comic, curious, charming creature – Lucy Wormald:

In the hills above Arrowtown, among a small pear orchard and a cluster of old musterers’ huts, live the cutest sheep in the world.

Farmer Dagg rattles a bucket of sheep nuts and three dozen inky faces shoot up in unison, crimped forelocks bouncing. With black knees, ankles, hocks and face punctuating an otherwise white coat, Valais Blacknose sheep are a sight out of a children’s book — both comical and charming.

Glencoe Station has been breeding purebred Valais since 2018 under the management of John Dagg, a long-time sheep farmer with family roots in neighbouring Coronet Peak Station.

The farm is home to 35 Valais Blacknose ewes and eight rams, a couple of hundred pheasants, and John’s canine sidekick, Bob. . . 

Best of the best – Clive Bibby:

Last Sunday night’s Country Calendar and, from what we already know about next week’s story, provide all the evidence of why this nation has become one of the most efficient producers of agriculture products in the world. 

I can say that without having seen the next episode simply because l already know about the East Coast property that compliments the magnificent portrayal of our mixed race farming families that we saw in the 30 minutes joy ride into the Clarence River valley – and will no doubt repeat the exposure in a weeks time at a dramatically different North Island location. 

You can’t “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” no matter how hard you try if the basic ingredients aren’t there and these two families are typical of so much that demonstrates why we are world leaders in so many areas. 

They also show why there is so much promise for the future if only the government would leave us alone to get on with doing what we do best. . . 

Court rules SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in property RV :

The High Court has ruled SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in the rateable value of a property, in an appeal ruling.

The Bushmere Trust, a kiwifruit grower, took the Gisborne District Council to the Land Valuation Tribunal last year after the Council changed its ratings to include the value of the licenses in the property’s capital value.

That took the nearly six hectare property’s rateable value from $2.8 million to $4.1 million.

The Tribunal ruled the capital value was only $2.8million, and the kiwifruit license was “not an improvement to the land or for the benefit of the land”. . . 

After planting thousands of wattles, farm goes from ‘bare paddocks’ to teeming with wildlife  – Hamish Cole:

When Mikla Lewis took over a cropping farm near Grenfell in the New South Wales central West in 2002, almost all of the land’s native plants had been cleared. 

Two decades later she has planted thousands of wattles, turning her property into an oasis for almost 200 different native animals. 

Ms Lewis, who also runs sheep on the property, said it had been a long, worthwhile process. 

“We almost immediately started planting because most of it had been cropped, so there were very bare paddocks and there hadn’t been any planting of natives done at all,” she said. 

Ms Lewis said the wattles had brought animals such as birds, goannas, butterflies and frogs back to the farm.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/08/2022

Concern about rate of forestry conversions – Sally Rae:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the rate of whole-farm sales and conversions to carbon farming in the country is “out of control”.

The Government’s announcement last week that exotic trees would no longer be removed from the permanent category of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) was a step back from addressing the “deeply concerning” sale of sheep and beef farms, chief executive Sam McIvor said .

Overseas Investment Office decisions for June show consent has been given under the special forestry one-off purchase for the acquisition of nearly 2300ha of land, running sheep and beef, for conversion to forestry.

Approval was also granted for the sale of a dairy farm for forestry conversion and an existing forestry block. . .

Kiwifruit returns not so juicy this year as rising costs and fruit quality issues bite – Andrea Fox :

Growers in New Zealand Inc’s sweetheart kiwifruit industry are in for some unusually downbeat news next week as rising costs and fruit quality issues combine to drive down forecast returns.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson has sounded the warning in an update to the global marketer’s 2800 New Zealand growers, saying the next orchard gate returns forecast on August 23 will reflect that fruit quality this season remains a significant issue as previously flagged.

Zespri, which has a statutory near-monopoly on kiwifruit exporting with record net global sales nudging $3.6 billion last year, is a little over halfway through its sales season.
Ongoing rain and cold weather in New Zealand and unseasonably high summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere had led to a crowded fruit market, Mathieson said.

“Fruit quality remains an ongoing and significant issue this season….We are not alone in facing this challenge, with quality issues evident across other global fruit categories this season, and our competitors and colleagues have also battled labour shortages, supply chain congestion and inflationary pressures, all of which impact grower returns. . .

Align Farms CEO Rhys Roberts on Government’s regenerative farming project

While chief executive of Align Farms Rhys Roberts has reservations about the Government’s new regenerative agriculture project, he welcomes another voice on the subject.

Ngāi Tahu and the Government are undertaking a seven-year research programme to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The trial will compare a conventional and regenerative farm side-by-side to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

Roberts, who is also the 2022 Zanda McDonald Award winner, has been running a similar trial at Align Farms for years. . . 

NZ avocado industry warned to brace for lower prices as key Aussie market swamped – Tina Morrison :

New Zealand’s avocado industry needs to brace itself for a period of lower prices and volatility ahead as its key Australian market is swamped with the fashionable fruit, and returns from its emerging Asian market lag behind.

Increased Australian production resulted in an “avalanche” of avocados last year which saw retail prices for the green creamy fruit fall to a record low A$1 and prices this year are 47% below the five-year average, according to Rabobank associate analyst Pia Piggott.

“It’s simple supply and demand – as the supply goes up, the price goes down,” she says.

Strong demand for the heavily promoted “superfood” which features in dishes such as smashed avocado, has prompted Australian farmers to plant more than 1000 hectares a year and after six years those trees are now coming to maturity, which is expected to see Australia’s production expand by more than 40% over the next four years. . .

Course tailored for workers – John Lewis :

The rhythms of the seasons have been taken into account in a new Otago Polytechnic education pathway aimed at refining wine-growing and fruit production skills in Central Otago.

It means those already working in the horticulture and viticulture fields can concentrate their energy where it is needed during peak production times of the year while studying for a New Zealand diploma in horticulture production (level 5).

Delivered online and run at night, it enables students to continue to develop their skills in two focus areas: orchard fruit production (stone fruit, pip fruit and berries); and vineyard wine growing.

When they graduate, students will be able to manage horticultural or viticultural operations to ensure fruit or wine grape quality requirements are met. . . 

Australian Dairy Nutritionals to stop milk and yoghurt production in Camperdown – David Ross :

Camperdown Dairy, a historic Victorian brand, will stop producing fresh milk as rising costs push its owner to turn to better margins on milk powder products.

The ASX-listed Australian Dairy Nutritionals, based in the southwestern Victorian town of Camperdown, on Tuesday said it would cancel its fresh dairy produce due to rapidly rising costs that had eroded margins. Woolworths supermarkets stock Camperdown milk in their stores.

Australian Dairy Nutritionals said the move would mitigate staffing shortages and allow it to focus production on higher-margin products such as infant formula and nutritional supplements, but three staff might lose their jobs.

It said margins on fresh milk products had made it uncompetitive to continue, with nearly all suppliers increasing prices by more than 10 per cent and logistics costs nearly doubling. . . .


Rural round-up

10/08/2022

‘Wet Coast’ cow cockies say ‘get off the grass’ to new rules – Lois Williams:

When stock wintering rules designed to protect waterways were imposed on a century-old South Island dairying property, the owners bet their nest egg on building an enormous barn

It wasn’t the mother of all floods in 2013 that convinced West Coast dairy farmers Matt and Carmel O’Regan to move their cows indoors.

Nor was it the latest summer deluge in February, when the old flood gauge at Inangahua Landing vanished from sight under muddy waters, along with thousands of hectares of farmland.

After three generations at Coal Creek, the family is used to floods. . . 

Time for Kiwi arable farmers to shine – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand arable farmers are using science and technology to produce good food for the least impact, it’s time this was recognised, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Three-quarters of the bread sold in New Zealand is made from grain grown overseas.

This might be a surprise to some people, but, like the 60 per cent of pork products (85 per cent of ham and bacon) consumed in New Zealand but not produced here, overseas countries can sometimes operate more cheaply than we can in New Zealand.

Sometimes that is because of environmental conditions enabling greater yields, and sometimes it is standards in regulations around environment, welfare and employment that make the difference. Sometimes it is everything. Labelling doesn’t always make origin clear. . . 

Wetland rules threaten access to Defence Force, electricity infrastructure – Emma Hatton:

The Defence Force and electricity lines companies have become unintended allies as they both grapple with wetland rules that make it harder for them to access their own infrastructure

Rules brought in two years ago via the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and National Environmental Standards for Freshwater focused on protecting and restoring natural wetlands.

But groups including property developers, mining and quarrying companies and those with existing infrastructure in and around wetland areas argued they were too prohibitive.

The Ministry for the Environment consulted late last year and recently proposed changes that make concessions to some of the concerns, including creating consenting pathways for mining, quarrying and landfills. . . 

Leading the charge for wool – Sally Rae:

Last month, Greg Smith marked his first year as chief executive of carpet company Bremworth. He talks to business editor Sally Rae about his desire to help reinvigorate New Zealand’s strong wool industry. 

Growing up, a young Greg Smith never imagined he would end up running a carpet company.

Mind you, he also never contemplated jewellery as a career — “or woolly undies either”.

What he did want to do was the “right thing” and that was reinforced when he neared a key life stage — he turns 50 this year — and he contemplated what his children would say their father did. . .

Awards a morale boost for the arable industry says title winner :

The freshly-crowned Arable Farmer of the Year says winning the award was a surprise, but it is a confidence-booster.

David Birkett, who farms at Leeston, Canterbury, took out the title at last night’s New Zealand Arable Awards in Christchurch.

He said he was not expecting to win.

“The other finalists were exceptional people as well and it was a really tough competition,” he said. “I was surprised.” . . .

Government and Ngāi Tahu work together on regenative farming project – Sally Murphy:

Ngāi Tahu and the government have joined forces on a new project to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The seven year research programme will compare side-by-side dairy farms to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

One 286-hectare farm will use regenerative farming practices while the adjacent 330-hectare farm will use conventional methods.

Both farms will have a stocking rate of 3.2 cows per hectare. . .

Dying to Feed You: Grace suffered multiple broken bones – Johann Tasker:

Grace Addyman suffered multiple broken bones when she was hit by falling bales at her family farm.

She tells us what happened on that day, the difficult surgery that followed and how she considers herself the “luckiest unlucky person ever”.

It had been a wet summer and it was near the end of July. We’d cut the hay and it had been baled that day.

We were enjoying the weather, watching the baler go around the field and then bringing the hay in. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

04/07/2022

Wrestling with methane metrics – Keith Woodford:

The methane debate is more about politics, policy and value judgements than it is about science

In my previous article, I explained how there is much controversy about how methane should be compared to carbon dioxide in terms of global warming. The problem arises because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas but it lasts only a short time in the atmosphere. In contrast, carbon dioxide is a weak greenhouse gas but it lasts much longer. Also, there is a lot more carbon dioxide than methane released into the atmosphere.

Big problems arise when methane is shoe-horned into carbon dioxide equivalence. Here I will explain some of the problems.

First, many people will be surprised that this issue of carbon-dioxide equivalence and the associated controversy is not really about the science. Scientists understand the nonsense of trying to estimate how many apples it takes to equate to one orange, with the answer depending totally on the chosen measures. Similarly, scientists understand that methane has a totally different emission profile than carbon dioxide and there is no simple equivalence measure. . . 

Golden milk price may drop, costs rise – Tim Cronshaw:

The gloss of two $9-plus payouts for dairy farmers is being robbed by rising farm costs and a build-up of environmental changes.

A record starting point for a payout of $9 a kilogram of milk solids is being advanced for the 2022/23 dairy season by dairy giant Fonterra and Canterbury-based Synlait Milk.

This follows Fonterra’s forecast range of $9.10/kg to $9.50/kg for this season, with a mid-point of $9.30/kg, that’s being matched by Synlait.

Analysts cautiously support the new-season mark despite a mixed bag at the Global Dairy Trade auction and a hazy horizon created by Covid-19, freighting headaches, Ukraine’s invasion by Russia and rampant inflation. . . 

Helping farmers do more with less – Rabiya Abbasi:

The fourth agricultural revolution promises to grow more food on less land while feeding more people, says Rabiya Abbasi

With cornstalks swaying on a gentle breeze and cattle in quiet contemplation of the cud, a farm would not seem to be a hotbed of revolution. But make no mistake, agriculture is squarely in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Emergent, game-changing technologies are driving economic, environmental, and social change in the global food system. And in the face of rising hunger, populations and a changing climate, everyone from policy-makers to billionaires is paying attention.

The US Association of Equipment Manufacturers published a study in February 2022 investigating how new technologies may help farmers do more with less. On average, new technology triallers achieved a 4 percent increase in crop production, 7 percent reduction in fertiliser use, 9 percent reduction in herbicide use, 6 percent reduction in fossil fuel use, and 4 percent reduction in water use.

Farmers are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to track crops remotely, using sensors to detect weed growth, water levels and pest invasion. And we’re not only seeing this on traditional farmlands. Farm66, inside a Hong-Kong skyscraper, is using IoT to help manage a 2000-square-metre indoor farm. The IoT-enabled agricultural industry is estimated to reach US$4.5 billion by 2025. . . 

Otago property native carbon groundbreaker- Sally Rae:

An Otago station is one of the first properties to receive Native CarbonCrop Units through Nelson-founded climate tech startup CarbonCrop.

CarbonCrop, which was established in 2020, yesterday launched Native CarbonCrop Units (CCUs) to enable landowners with native reforestation to access revenue, outside the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The company worked with 15 landowners throughout the country in a pre-launch pilot and more than 5000 CCUs were certified for 631ha of native regeneration, worth about $260,000 at current prices, a statement from the company said.

More than $140,000 of those credits have been sold via the Carbonz platform to companies including Christchurch Airport, Heilala Vanilla and Les Mills. . . 

NZ cheese industry facing uncertainty as NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022 announced :

As the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Trophy-Winners were announced the specialty cheese industry is facing uncertainty with the announcement of a Free Trade Agreement with Europe.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association board member Daniel Shields said was New Zealand has bowed to EU pressure and given way on key cheese names. Of particular concern is the loss of the cheese name Feta. However, negotiators have agreed on a nine year lead time for this change.

“It’s a mixed bag for New Zealand’s specialty cheesemakers. Particularly concerning is that Europe has succeeded in including the right to restrict new names at a future date. This creates uncertainty and makes it hard for New Zealand operators to invest in their businesses with confidence when the threat of a loss of equity in the intellectual property of traditional cheese names looms.”

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) chair Catherine McNamara saying local cheesemakers are worried about their future. . . 

Animal and Plant Health industry Association name change :

The industry association representing more than 90 percent of New Zealand’s crop protection and animal health industries has a new name. Animal and Plant Health New Zealand was previously called Agcarm and recently joined forces with the Animal Remedy and Plant Protectant Association.

The association represents a one-billion-dollar industry with a value of $20 billion to the New Zealand economy. It also represents rural retailer businesses and associate members.

Animal and Plant Health NZ chief executive Mark Ross says the organisation’s mission is “to protect and enhance the health of crops and animals through innovation and the responsible use of quality products”.

“We help New Zealand provide a safe and secure food supply by introducing softer and more innovative technologies for managing pests and disease – while minimising their effects on the environment.” Animal welfare is also a key driver for the organisation – “from production animals to our pets at home,” adds Ross. . . 


Rural round-up

30/06/2022

Forestry Amendment Bill fails to achieve fairness :

New rules fall short of delivering a level playing field when overseas investors buy our farmland for forestry, Federated Farmers says.

It’s a “step in the right direction” to scrap the much-criticised special forestry test, Feds Gisborne-Wairoa President Toby Williams said. Instead, overseas investors purchasing farmed land for conversion to forestry would be required to meet the Overseas Investment Office ‘general benefit to New Zealand test’.

“But it will continue to be an uneven land-use playing field because investors buying farmland to continue to raise crops and livestock run up against the much more stringent Farm Land Benefit test.”

Speaking to the Finance & Expenditure Select Committee on the Overseas Investment (Forestry) Amendment Bill this morning, Toby said the general benefit test that would apply to farmland to forestry conversions “provides a slightly higher hurdle but it is nothing like as onerous as the farmland test. . . 

Farmers can reduce emissions and reach the 2030 targets – Kelly Forster:

Those who criticise He Waka Eke Noa for relying on ‘unproven technofixes’ ignore New Zealand’s very strong history of agricultural innovation, argues Kelly Forster

Opinion: On a stud sheep farm in Southland, Leon and Wendy Black are breeding low-methane-emitting rams, which Leon says gives farmers a viable option for reducing their methane emissions.

As Leon says, we now have the tools to measure methane production, and through tweaking the genetics the right way, we can reduce emissions in small incremental steps, improving every generation.

Over three breeding generations this could reduce a farm’s methane emissions between 5 percent and 10 percent. . . 

Otago property native carbon groundbreaker – Sally Rae:

An Otago station is one of the first properties to receive Native CarbonCrop Units through Nelson-founded climate tech startup CarbonCrop.

CarbonCrop, which was established in 2020, yesterday launched Native CarbonCrop Units (CCUs) to enable landowners with native reforestation to access revenue, outside the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The company worked with 15 landowners throughout the country in a pre-launch pilot and more than 5000 CCUs were certified for 631ha of native regeneration, worth about $260,000 at current prices, a statement from the company said.

More than $140,000 of those credits have been sold via the Carbonz platform to companies including Christchurch Airport, Heilala Vanilla and Les Mills. . . 

Counting our farming emissions – Sharon Brettkelly:

There are plenty of farmers out there doing everything they can to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The Detail takes a trip to a dairy farm in south Waikato to find out how one farming couple is doing it.

“It’s a beast,” says Tokoroa dairy farmer George Moss.  

He’s not talking about one of his cows – he’s talking about the job of understanding, counting and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the farm he runs with his wife, Sharon. 

New Zealand will be the first country in the world to price emissions at the farmgate, if the agriculture sector’s plan – He Waka Eke Noa – is agreed to by the government.  . . 

2022 kiwifruit harvest complete :

The 2022 harvest of New Zealand’s largest horticultural produce, kiwifruit, is now largely complete with almost all 2,800 growers’ orchards from Kerikeri in the north to Motueka in the south picked for consumers. The 2022 season was expected to have a record-breaking crop of at least 190 million trays of kiwifruit, overtaking last year’s record of over 177 million trays. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit. However, revisions in the forecast indicate that this year’s volume will be below 2021. Current thought to the reduction is due to labour supply, crop loading and weather. Investigation is this space is ongoing.

2022 also marks the first year that Zespri’s new RubyRed kiwifruit was picked as a commercial variety, which was then followed by the gold and green varieties. The sweet, berry-tinged tasting red kiwifruit was picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and overseas markets.

Despite the uncertainty of seasonal labour supply at the beginning of the year, all growers had the opportunity to have their kiwifruit picked and packed. The success of the 2022 kiwifruit harvest hinged on the ability for industry’s supply chain to operate effectively with a restricted labour supply under the changing COVID-19 settings. The 24,000 seasonal workers required to pick and pack the crop were restricted due to COVID-19 infection rates as well as closed borders which limited the 6,500 backpackers traditionally utilised for harvest operations.

CEO of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI), Colin Bond says that experience of COVID-19 from the two previous seasons gave the kiwifruit industry the foresight to streamline processes across the supply chain to mitigate foreseeable risks. . . 

New AgWorkNZ initiative aims to fill NZ’s extreme agri-worker shortages :

New worker placement initiative Ag Work NZ aims to fill New Zealand’s huge farm worker and tractor driver shortages for our thriving primary industry. Ag Work NZ is affiliated with rural driver training provider Ag Drive, and will bring experienced staff over from the UK, Ireland and Europe on holiday working visas, following the reopening of NZ’s borders.

Director Andre Syben says the launch of Ag Work NZ is perfectly timed to fill the extreme farm worker shortages in New Zealand, while capitalising on the re-opening of NZ borders after the Covid-19 pandemic closures.

“What we’re hearing from New Zealand farmers and agricultural contractors is that they’re desperate for staff,” says Syben.

Northern hemisphere workers will be recruited by Ag Works’ own UK-based team, who will interview and screen workers. Then, in conjunction with Ag Works NZ-based recruitment team, potential workers will be matched with NZ farm and agricultural employers for an online interview. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/06/2022

Rural backbone of regions expected to stand up better to economic woes:

Rural economies are expected to outperform their urban counterparts in the year ahead, due to the strong demand for agricultural exports.

Westpac Bank’s annual Regional Roundup report forecasts economic growth would slow in the year ahead, as high inflation and rising interest rates put pressure on household budgets.

But the severity of the slowdown would be felt differently across the country.

The outlook for the cities, in particular Wellington and Auckland, would be challenging because they had two of the worst performing housing markets in recent months. . . 

Farmers urged to tell their stories, develop brand – Sally Rae:

“Farmers are the world’s rock stars.”

That was the message from entrepreneur Justine Ross to more than 400 farmers, industry representatives and sponsors attending the two-day South Island Dairy Event (Side) in Oamaru yesterday.

But farmers also needed to be brave “and a little bit louder” as they were terrible at telling their stories, which consumers around the world were craving to hear.

“They want to hear about your farms, hear about your life. They want to know you,” Mrs Ross said. . . 

NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards 2022 open :

The NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards 2022 are now open for entries.

The Awards, run by Rural Women New Zealand and insurance company NZI, take place each year and are designed to celebrate rural women entrepreneurs.

Rural Women New Zealand national president Gill Naylor says the Awards are a great opportunity to showcase the contributions rural women entrepreneurs make to rural communities.

“We are delighted that NZI will join us for the sixth year as our Premier Partner in presenting the Awards. . . 

Science and genetics boost Fernside farm :

Fernside dairy farmer Julie Bradshaw has applied learnings from a five-year National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) irrigation study to make science-based decisions while also using genetics to improve her herd with the overall goal of reducing the farm’s environmental footprint.

Julie is participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovative approaches to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

From 2016 to 2021 Julie and a group of five neighbouring farmers participated in a co-innovation study which provided landowners with real time data and forecasts to make science-based irrigation decisions.

The data included measured rainfall, soil moisture, soil temperature, drainage, and estimated evaporation as well as two, six and 15-day rainfall and weather forecasts. . . 

Laura Marston from Craggy Range takes out Hawkes Bay 2022 Corveta Young Vit title :

Congratulations to Laura Martson from Craggy Range who took out the title of Corteva Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2022.

The competition took place in the stunning Paritua vineyards in Bridge Pa Triangle on 16 June 2022 with eight contestants competing for the title.

Congratulations also goes to Douw Grobler from Trinity Hill who came second and Robbie Golding from Crab Farm, who came third.

The judges commented on the professional and positive attitude of all the contestants and that there are many passionate and talented young people in the Hawke’s Bay wine industry. The other contestants were Daniel Brewster from AONZ, Jamie Scoon from Te Mata, Joseph Stenberg from Woodthorpe Terraces and Jessica Sunderland-Wells and Sarah St George, both from Villa Maria. . .

Innovative Pāmu deer milk product wins prestigious global award :

Pāmu’s awarding winning Deer Milk won the Best Dairy Ingredient category at the World Dairy Innovation Awards, announced in Laval, France overnight.

Pāmu Chief Executive Mark Leslie says the win in these prestigious awards is a validation of the hard work and innovation that has gone into creating an all-new product for the agri-sector.

“All New Zealanders, as shareholders in Pāmu should be really proud of this win, at what is essentially the World Cup for the dairy sector.

“Our deer milk product has been steadily growing in popularity among high end chefs and as a unique new ingredient in cosmetics. But that’s not where it ends. . . 


Rural round-up

14/06/2022

“We should all be so proud” farmers reflect on year – Sally Rae:

Dynamic is a great word to describe New Zealand’s dairy farmers in 2022, South Island Dairy Event committee chairwoman Anna Wakelin says.

That was why it had been chosen as the theme for Side, the South Island’s largest dairy event which got under way in Oamaru yesterday.

“We are a dynamic industry and want the best for our animals, land and people,” Mrs Wakelin said.

She and her husband Tony farm in South Canterbury and she was proud to produce nourishing food for the world. . . 

Pupils making most of rural trades pathway – Kayla Hodge:

Waitaki Girls’ High School is giving pupils a pathway to the rural sector.

The Oamaru secondary school set up a trades academy last year, allowing pupils the opportunity to get hands-on experience working on various farms throughout the district.

Four pupils took part last year and seven have joined the initiative this year.

At present, the year 11 and 12 pupils mostly spend time on dairy farms, learning different skills from fencing and driving quad bikes and tractors, to spraying and milking. They are now getting ready to help farmers with calf rearing. . .

Why farmers are hard done by with HWEN :

A scheme proposed to be an alternative to putting agricultural biological emissions in to the ETS named He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) has been presented to the Government. The scheme developed by some farming groups and a Māori organization is an attempt to head off the growing pressure for these biological emissions from livestock to be included in the ETS.

This pressure arises because farmers are constantly blamed for producing nearly half our carbon emissions, mainly from the methane ruminant livestock produce as a by product of the digestive process.

What Is not said about these emissions however is that the carbon emissions produced by livestock are very different to the carbon emissions produced by burning fossil fuel.

Carbon emissions from livestock do not cause the warming fossil sourced carbon emissions do. . .

Wool supplement helps heal wounds – Annette Scot:

Research by a United States plastic surgeon has given New Zealand’s coarse wool the opportunity to build more value for growers while helping heal wounds.

Wool sourced from sheep in NZ contains higher levels of a scleroprotein called keratin, a key structural material that protects epithelial cells from damage.

Kiri10 managing director Natalie Harrison says NZ keratin is used in dermatological treatments in dozens of countries around the world for the clinical management of wounds and severe burns, including those injured during the White Island eruption.

But the concept of consuming wool to provide a health benefit for humans is still in its infancy but is showing significant promise. . .

It’s crunch time in Kiwi-grown peanut trial :

Local peanut butter maker Pic Picot is hopeful that outcomes of the Kiwi peanut crop will bring him one step closer to a 100 per cent New Zealand-made nutty spread.

The harvest of field trial peanut crops in Northland is nearing completion this week as part of a project looking into the feasibility of commercially growing the nuts in New Zealand.

It’s the first year of a $1 million project funded by Picot Productions (makers of Pic’s Peanut Butter), Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and Northland Inc, following a successful one-year feasibility study in 2021.

If the trial proves successful it would have significant positive impacts for the region – generating jobs both on- and off-farm, pumping funds into the local economy and supporting investment opportunities. . .

 

Jacob Coombridge wins the 2022 Central Otago Young Grower competition :

Jacob Coombridge, a 22-year-old Orchard Supervisor at Webb’s Fruit, has won the 2022 Central Otago Young Grower competition.

The competition tested the eight contestant’s fruit and vegetable growing knowledge as well as the skills needed to be a successful grower. Contestants completed modules in irrigation, pests and disease identification, safe tractor operating, first aid, soil and fertilisers and risk management.

“It’s so awesome to have so many people from the industry along to support us,” says Jacob.

“Like all farming, working on an orchard can be isolating at times, but it’s awesome that competitions like this are able to bring everyone together. We’ve got a great grower community, and everyone has been really supportive of all of us as contestants. . .

 


Rural round-up

06/06/2022

Rural water schemes should remain in private ownershi – working gorup  – Russell Palmer:

Privately owned rural water supplies should be able to keep managing themselves, rather than handing over to the Three Waters entities, a working group has recommended.

By 2028, rural suppliers will be required to abide by the stronger standards being brought in by the water regulator set up in March last year, Taumata Arowai.

The Rural Supplies Technical working group was set up by the government to advise on how the water system reforms would handle rural supply schemes, and has made 30 recommendations.

Privately owned rural suppliers number in the tens of thousands, and the group urged the government to allow these to continue under their current management. . . 

Ikea’s owners buying 1118ha for forestry – Sally Rae:

Companies associated with Ingka Group, the largest franchisee of Ikea stores internationally, have received consent to buy more sheep and beef farming land in the South to convert to forestry.

Yesterday, the Overseas Investment Office released its April decisions, including a successful application by Ingka Investments Forest Assets NZ and Ingka Investments Management NZ, from the Netherlands, to acquire about 1118ha of land on Koneburn Rd at Waimumu.

The applicants were owned by Ingka Investments B.V., the investment arm of Ingka Group, one of 12 different groups of companies that own the Swedish furniture and homeware giant.

In a statement, the company stressed the property — like its other two New Zealand acquisitions — would be planted in plantation forestry, not used for carbon farming. . . 

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis – Sarah Robson:

No other country has done it before, but New Zealand is on the brink of eradicating the cattle disease mycoplasma bovis. It’s come at a heavy emotional and financial cost to farmers – what lessons can be learned?

The first day of winter is a big day in the dairy farming calendar: moving day.

1 June is when dairy farmers around the country move thousands of cows to new pasture for winter grazing or new sharemilking contracts.

But unlike the past few years, the threat of mycoplasma bovis won’t be looming so large, with just one farm – a large beef feedlot near Ashburton – still infected with the disease. . . . 

NAIT reconsiders operational strategy to accommodate smaller rise in levies:

The National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme, NAIT Limited, ran a public consultation with levy payers and collection agents between 21 January and 25 February 2022. A proposal was put forward to increase the tag levy from $0.90 to $1.35 and the slaughter levy from $0.50 to $1.77, to enable NAIT Limited to deliver a traceability system that is easy to use, fit for purpose, and that will perform in the event of a disease outbreak. The proposal included an increase in Crown and Deer industry funding.

A total of 147 submissions were received from individual farmers/farming operations, primary sector groups, shareholders, funders, OSPRI committees and collection agents. Submissions ranged in sentiment towards the proposal, were complex in nature, and required extensive analysis and discussions to make decisions on the outcome. For this reason, the Board of NAIT Limited decided, in March, to defer any decision on NAIT Levies to allow for a comprehensive review of feedback.

On 19 May 2022 the Board of NAIT Limited decided to revise their proposed operational strategy under a reduced funding package with an emphasis on delivering the core capabilities of a fit-for-purpose traceability system that performs in the event of a disease outbreak. The revised strategy will focus on delivering the core capabilities in the immediate term, with a staged approach to delivery of additional services that NAIT Limited believe will be important to optimise the animal traceability system in New Zealand. Under this reduced funding package, NAIT Limited has adjusted the proposed levies, whilst maintaining the 35/65% Crown/Industry Split. . . 

Rural health representatives join new network:

The way rural health is represented is set to change with the establishment of a new collective.

From 28 June, the Rural General Practice Network will transition to a new collective organisation called Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network.

It incorporates nine different organisations, including Rural Nurses NZ and The Rural Midwifery and Maternity Service.

Network chief executive Grant Davidson said the collective organisation will help create a united and trusted voice for rural health. . . 

218 of Aotearoa’s best foods receive medals in 2022 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards:

In what has been hailed as ‘the most exciting year of the Awards to date’ 218 medal winners have been recognised this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards.

Winners span the length of Aotearoa from Northland to Southland and its breadth, from the West Coast over to the Chatham Islands. Additionally they represent a vast range of locally harvest, grown and made foods including mushrooms, meat, preserves, drinks, ice cream and sweets. Results follow two days of judging at Homeland in Auckland earlier in May.

Seventy-one percent of all of the more than 300 entries received an accolade with 78 Gold Medals, 86 Silver Medals and 56 Bronze Medals awarded.

Reflecting on this year’s medal-winners, Head Judge Lauraine Jacobs said; “2022 has been the most exciting year for the Awards to date. Each year has seen not only growth in the number of entries, but the quality of the food products continues to rise and rise in every category. . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

24/05/2022

Challenging harvest conditions see NZ apple and pear crop numbers drop from previous forecast :

New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI), the industry organisation representing the country’s pipfruit growers, today released a crop re-forecast that predicts a decrease of between 12% and 15% on last year’s crop total.

Extreme weather events in the major growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne and the impacts of Omicron during the peak harvest period have combined with increased shipping costs to further squeeze profit margins and make the New Zealand 2022 apple and pear harvest one of the most challenging in the past decade.

In January this year, the 2022 apple and pear crop was predicted to reach the equivalent of 23.2 million boxes (Tray Carton Equivalents, or TCEs, as they’re known in the industry), destined for customers in more than 80 countries. That forecast has now been adjusted to be approximately 20.3 million boxes, a drop of 13%, representing an estimated reduction in export earnings of $105 million.

NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says a perfect storm of adverse weather events in key growing regions and major labour shortages during the heart of the harvest combined to result in growers not being able maximise their crops. However, what has been harvested remains of a high quality for New Zealand’s export markets. . . 

Challenges navigated in ‘tumultuous’ year – Sally Rae:

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson has described the past 12 months as “one of the most tumultuous in recent farming history”.

In his report to the province’s annual meeting in Lawrence yesterday, Mr Patterson said agriculture had not faced such a challenging set of circumstances since the Rogernomics era reforms in the 1980s.

Implementation of major Government reforms of freshwater and land management, climate change regulation, labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, pandemic management, land-use change and centralisation of local government services were some of the significant issues confronting farmers.

On top of that, Otago had been “book-ended” by back-to-back autumn droughts which had resulted in a medium-scale adverse event being declared in large swathes of the region, adding extra stress. . . 

The future for sheep – Keith Woodford:

Lamb prices are high but industry remains buffeted by big crosswinds

The sheep industry in Zealand has been getting smaller ever since 1982 when sheep numbers reached 70 million. The latest numbers are 26 million in 2021, having dropped from 32.6 million in 2010. Yet sheep still earn over $4 billion of annual export income.

In recent months I have had plenty to say about both greenhouse gas policy and forestry as they are affecting and will affect all New Zealand agriculture. Here, I focus specifically on sheep farming to seek answers as to where the industry might head.

Focusing first on market returns, the last two decades have brought lots of good news. Lamb and mutton prices have risen faster than other pastoral products, including dairy, and at a considerably higher rate than general inflation. Yet somehow it has not been enough to stem the decline. . .

Feasibility update on $4 billion Lake Onslow project expected next month :

The Energy Minister is expected to provide an update next month on whether a $4 billion pumped hydro storage in Central Otago might be feasible.

The Lake Onslow project is designed to serve as a giant battery to help protect against hydro electricity shortages and create more stability in the market.

It would involve a man-made lake likely to the east of Roxburgh in Central Otago where water would be pumped into a reservoir when energy demand was low and released when demand was high.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said Energy Minister Megan Woods would provide a brief project overview to her Cabinet colleagues this month. . . 

Dunstan Trail lauded with more than 80k riders in first year – Tim Brown:

Cromwell and Clyde businesses are celebrating the success of the Lake Dunstan Trail, and hope it will help sustain the area through the usually quiet winter period.

The cycle trail, which connects Clyde and Cromwell after opening in May last year, has blown away all expectations.

It was hoped it would attract 7500 users in its first year, instead it was more than 84,000.

The small Central Otago town of Clyde was home to about 1250 people and one of the Otago Central Rail Trail’s trail heads.

That trail attracted more than 10,000 users annually. . . 

Good moving day planning key to preventing pest plant spread & managing effluent :

Farmers are being urged to do their bit to protect farms from damaging pest plants by ensuring machinery, vehicles and equipment have been cleaned ahead of Moving Day.

Planning is also necessary when it comes to preventing effluent entering waterways and keeping roads clear and safe for road users in the region, says Waikato Regional Council.

Moving Day occurs in the week leading up to and immediately following 1 June each year. It involves the mass transporting of cows and machinery around the country’s roads as farm contractors relocate themselves and their stock in time for the new season.

“Through good on farm biosecurity practices, farmers and contractors can make a massive difference to preventing the spread of pest plants and weeds,” said regional council biosecurity pest plants team leader, Darion Embling. . . 


Rural round-up

18/05/2022

Dairy event will be all about change – Sally Rae:

Dynamic.

That is the theme of the South Island’s largest dairy event, SIDE 2022, which is being held in Oamaru on June 8-9.

It was the first time the event had been held in the town and it was expected to attract more than 350 farmers, rural professionals and sponsors.

Event committee member Rebecca Finlay, who came up with the theme, said dairy farmers needed to be dynamic — they could not be stuck in their ways.

There was constant change as they dealt with the likes of new compliance and regulations and they had to be agile and responsive to that change. . .

Exile on Main Street – Neal Wallace:

This week, Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace investigate how two different districts, Opotiki and Gore, are trying to encourage new workers and address an ageing workforce while facing a static or falling population.

New Zealand’s rural-led economic recovery is being hamstrung by a shortage of working-age staff, an inability to retain people and intergenerational social issues.

Some rural districts already struggling for staff face even greater labour challenges in the coming years if demographic predictions proved accurate.

Work by retired University of Waikato demography professor Dr Natalie Jackson, is forecasting that in the next decade 75% of the country’s regional authorities will experience a decline in their working age population as young people either leave for bigger urban centres or are not being born. . . .

The ag-sector’s Budget 2022 wish list is for science – Business Desk:

If increasing productivity is the name of the government’s game, then the agriculture sector’s wish list for budget 2022 is all about science. 

The farming sector helped bankroll the economy through covid-19, generating 30% of the country’s export income at a time when sectors like tourism were at a standstill.

Rather than being rewarded, however, the sector is under immense pressure from rising costs, scarce labour and, increasingly, regulation and compliance.  

You’d be hard-pressed to find a farmer who doesn’t want to increase productivity and farm for better environmental outcomes but – across the board – they want more research and development to help them get there. . .

A sick joke – Rural News:

When the Covid pandemic broke out over two years ago, Jacinda Ardern waxed lyrical about the importance of the rural-based primary sector and how it would pull the NZ economy through the tough times ahead.

It has delivered on that with interest.

The sector has come together like never before, from workers on farms, in orchards and processing plants – not to mention the marketers and managers who have got our product to market on time and at good prices.

However, it’s come at a price: people in rural NZ are fatigued and are having to cope with the additional burden of a bundle of stressful compliance. . . 

All hands on deck – Peter Burke:

Growers are mucking in and helping staff to pick this year’s kiwifruit crop. At this point, the Ruby Red variety has all been picked and about a third of the gold crop has also been harvested, with workers now starting to pick the green crop.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond told Hort News that everyone in the industry is working together to ensure the crop gets picked this season.

He says many growers themselves have been out in the orchards with the picking crew and also helping out in pack houses.

Bond says there have been instances of staff who normally just pick the fruit, doing shifts in the pack houses on wet days when it’s not possible to pick fruit. . . .

2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winner taking all opportunities:

For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

The 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year is driven, inspirational and a great example of a farmer who is taking every opportunity the New Zealand dairy industry offers.

Will Green was named the 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, the region’s Jaspal Singh became the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on Saturday, in front of more than 540 people, making it the largest dinner to be held at the new venue since opening. . . 

Fonterra responsible dairying award winner lead change through innovation :

Craigmore Farming Services, Canterbury/North Otago were named the 2022 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners during the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on Saturday night and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

 The prestigious award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra to recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are respected by their fellow farmers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

“It was a privilege to engage with all three finalists and the quality of the presentations was exceptional,” says head judge Conall Buchanan.

Fellow judge Charlotte Rutherford from Fonterra, agrees. “The future of the industry feels in such good hands when you are able to spend time with people like our finalists.” . . 


Rural round-up

16/05/2022

Government Bill ends high country farming as we know it :

The Labour Government has concluded its campaign to end generations of thoughtful stewardship of the South Island’s high country, National’s spokesperson for Land Information Nicola Grigg says.

“Today’s passing of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill effectively ends a decades-old relationship between the Crown and high country pastoral leaseholders.

“The Bill states its purpose as ‘maintaining or enhancing inherent values across the Crown pastoral estate’, and it will, instead, have the opposite effect.

“These leaseholders have been effective custodians of this land for generations, but the Government will now impose a punitive regime devoid of any knowledge of practical implementation and will see environmental outcomes worsen rather than improve. . . 

India bans wheat exports as heatwave hurts crop, domestic prices soar – Rajendra Jadhav and Mayank Bhardwaj:

India has today banned wheat exports, just days after saying it was targeting record shipments this year, as a scorching heatwave curtails output and domestic prices soar to an all-time high.

The government said it would still allow exports backed by letters of credit already issued, and to those countries that requested supplies “to meet their food security needs”.

Global buyers were banking on supplies from the world’s second-biggest wheat producer after exports from the Black Sea region plunged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Prior to the ban, India had aimed to ship a record 10 million tonnes this year.

The ban could drive global prices to new peaks and hit poor consumers in Asia and Africa. . . 

Can-do approach keeps garage going – Sally Rae:

In the sleepy North Otago township of Duntroon lives a couple who have overcome massive obstacles to continue to operate a business in their much-loved community. Business editor Sally Rae reports.

There’s a quote written in chalk on the blackboard outside the Duntroon Garage.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there,” it tells visitors to the rural business in heartland North Otago.

Inspirational quotes might be a dime a dozen but this one is no twee slogan — it is the perfect summation of the unassuming couple behind the business, for whom the term inspirational seems strangely inadequate. . .

DCANZ welcomes New Zealand Action to Fix Canada dairy import system :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand ( DCANZ) is welcoming the announcement today that New Zealand has invoked dispute settlement proceedings with Canada over the implementation of its dairy obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“Canada has adopted an approach to administering CPTPP quotas which breaks the rules of the agreement and has severely restricted use of the limited market access,” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Trade agreements are only as good as their implementation. We fully support the New Zealand Government in taking this step to ensure the rules are enforced and the agreed access is usable.”

Canada is a highly protected market for dairy products with tariffs as high as 300%. CPTPP outcomes for access to the Canadian dairy market were limited to a series of reduced tariff rate quotas, and the administration system Canada has put in place for these quotas has seen the right to import primarily given to domestic processors who are direct competitors to New Zealand exporters of those products. This has resulted in pitifully low quota fill rates averaging just 8% in the latest quota year. . . 

Vegetable prices stabilising as growers begin to meet demand – industry body :

There are signs fresh vegetable prices are stabilising as winter nears, with growers responding to supply issues, an industry player says.

Food prices have continued to rise, with a perfect storm of Covid-19 related supply chain issues, inflation, a war in Europe and sanctions imposed on Russia, as well as bad weather, all contributing to consumer pain.

But vegetable supplies throughout winter are expected to be good and the prices stable, according to Vegetables New Zealand chairperson John Murphy.

Murphy, a Blenheim-based grower of garlic and shallots, told Morning Report growers had struggled lately, had responded to supply and demand issues that have saw supermarket chains bump up prices. . . 

Successful rural resilience programmes receive MPI funding boost  :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has renewed funding for two successful programmes training farmers, growers and other rural people to manage pressure and adapt to change.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has been allocated $339,000 to expand its popular ‘Know Your Mindset. Do What Matters’ and ‘Our Resilient Farming Business’ programmes.

Piloted across 2020 and 2021, the programmes have already supported more than 300 rural women and men to better manage stress, prioritise wellbeing, and cultivate financial resilience in the face of change.

“Disruptions and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are one of the many challenges facing farmers, growers and whenua Māori owners,” MPI’s acting director of rural communities and farming support Andrew Spelman said. . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2022

Farmer feedback reshaping HWEN :

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) say they are taking farmer feedback on board and working to improve the agricultural emissions pricing options, including driving down administration costs.

Recently, roadshows were held across the country on the two options developed by the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), as alternatives to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the Government has made it clear that the sector need to deliver a credible alternative otherwise the agriculture sector will go into the ETS.

“But that’s not the only reason we need to act,” he says. . .

Landscape like the moon – Sally Rae:

Leo Edginton reckons he landed on the moon this week.

Mr Edginton (39), one of the country’s top dog triallists, is competing at the South Island sheep dog trial championships which being are held amid the vast, rocky landscape of Earnscleugh Station, near Alexandra.

It was a far cry from his home at Mangaheia Station, a large sheep and beef property at Tolaga Bay, on the North Island’s East Coast.

With six dogs qualified for the championships — Larry, Kim, Bully, Robert, Deano and Bert, a mix of both heading dogs and huntaways — it was the most of any competitor. And he has seven qualified for the New Zealand championships in three weeks’ time. . .

Twenty years of forest restoration undone by poor fencing – Diane McCarthy:

One man’s work to restore native bush on Karaponga Reserve over the past 20 years is being undone by inadequate fencing.

Retired dairy farmers Steve and Lesley McCann have taken enormous pleasure in the recovery of native wildlife on and around their McIvor Road property, next door to the reserve.

Even finding the occasional gigantic centipede in the bathtub is a small price to pay.

The McCanns see it as a sign of the resurgence of native biodiversity, due to pest control and planting. . . 

Farmers keen to embrace diverse uses of drones in rural setting – Sally Murphy:

Growing interest among farmers in using drones has led a Southland catchment group to organise a field day to showcase the technology.

Otago South River Care is holding a field day today and tomorrow on a farm in Balclutha with over 80 people expected to attend.

Group co-ordinator Rebecca Begg said catchment group members often talk about innovation on farms and drones keep coming up as something farmers want to try.

“Many are interested but aren’t ready to take the leap yet, so we want to show them what’s available and get some of the technology down to the South Island as most of it is based in the North Island.” . . 

Ready. Set. Rockit – bold new campaign inspires courage  :

As millions of freshly harvested New Zealand-grown Rockit™ apples begin arriving into ports around the world, a bold new brand campaign kicks off harnessing the spirit of bravery.

From artists to fitness instructors to musicians to aspiring basketball players, relatable individuals feature in the compelling campaign, which encourages Rockit’s global consumers to push their limits and go further than they’ve ever gone before (whatever that might look like to them) and “Ready. Set. Rockit.”

With the creative heft of agency Special driving the interpretations of courage that run through this year’s campaign, Rockit’s CEO Mark O’Donnell says the message is bound to inspire. “We love the idea that any challenge – no matter how daunting – can be overcome by taking it just one small bite at a time,” says Mark. “The innovative campaign imagery showcases occasions where a little bit of bravery takes us into territory we’ve never known before – and we can overcome our fear, seize the moment, and really rock it.” . . 

Wattie’s record tomato harvest in 50 years:

Today Wattie’s marks the end of its tomato harvest season with some of the highest yielding tomato paddocks in the company’s 50-year history.

This season, Wattie’s have hit a new record with a crop of 140 metric tons per hectare. That is the equivalent of 5.6kg per plant or 14kg of tomatoes for every square metre and approximately a 5% increase on the highest yield previously achieved.

More impressive is that this is 40% higher than Wattie’s 5-year average yield. Twenty years ago, the 5-year average tomato harvest was 80 metric tons per hectare.

The tomato harvest season started in mid-February and since then, has been going 24 hours a day. Over this time, Wattie’s has harvested and processed 39,000 metric tons of field tomatoes. . . 


%d bloggers like this: