Rural round-up

16/12/2022

Labour’s emissions pricing plan has turned into a self-inflicted wound – Craig Hickman :

No matter whether you are for He Waka Eke Noa, the proposed method for calculating how agriculture will pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, or vehemently against it, I think everyone can agree on one thing: the plan was a stroke of political genius from the Labour Government.

In October 2019, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced that the Government would enter a five-year partnership with primary sector organisations and Māori. Their job would be to develop a system that would incentivise farmers to measure, manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The formation of this partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), was almost universally celebrated by the farming sector while being roundly mocked by environmentalists for the same reason; it allows farmers to remain outside the emissions trading scheme (ETS) for five years while the proposal was developed, and possibly indefinitely if the partnership was successful.

This was the first clever part of the Government’s strategy, placing responsibility for devising a way to charge farmers for emissions at the feet of farmers themselves. If the partnership failed to deliver then agriculture would simply be rolled into the ETS, and the blame would lie squarely on farmers’ shoulders for not having seized the opportunity they were so generously given. . .

Investor wants tech farmers not tax – Sally Rae:

New Zealand-American businessman Tom Sturgess said he placed full-page advertisements in newspapers this week to “stimulate a debate” around livestock emissions.

Under the headline “Let’s do right by farmers, and our planet”, the advertisement said he was worried an opportunity was being missed to “truly do something about methane” and that the primary sector would be hurt in the process.

Mr Sturgess, the founder of New Zealand’s Lone Star Farms, is an American-born businessman who served with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam before gaining a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard.

He later embarked on a highly successful corporate career in private equity firms, food service, aluminium manufacturing, housing and office products. . .

Retailers increase their margins on soaring food prices – Jonathan Milne:

From fertiliser to grow the grass on our dairy farms, through to supermarkets’ profit margins, we investigate the different costs contributing to the $1 rise in a simple two-litre bottle of milk

Add Covid to the “costs” column of Richard McIntyre’s ledger. The Horowhenua dairy farmer would often be up early milking, but this morning his workers are doing it all, while he tries to recover from a dose of the coronavirus.

McIntyre’s costs column is a lengthy one. The cost of urea fertiliser has doubled to $1370 a tonne this year – and for a 200ha farm like McIntyre’s, that’s $80,000. Farmers are paying more for diesel. They’re paying more on environmental costs like riparian planting and effuent systems.

They’ve been able to pay those costs, because the farmgate price they’re paid by Fonterra and other dairy companies has also increased this year. But the AgFirst dairy financial survey shows that farmers need a price of $8.48 per kg of milk solids to cover their farm working expenses, debt servicing, drawings, depreciation and taxes. . .

United Fresh market report 2022 finding value in the freshest Kiwi produce :

As we near the end of a rollercoaster year of recovery from the global pandemic, New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetable growers will be taking a deep breath before they leap into 2023.

United Fresh President, Jerry Prendergast, says the challenges faced by those in our $6 billion horticulture industry this year have been significant.

“Despite the overwhelming media around COVID-19, the weather has actually been the largest cause of disruption to growers throughout the year. A particularly wet autumn left many around the country struggling to maintain a steady supply through the winter months.,” he says.

“Unusually for Aotearoa, the weather bombs that disrupted early plantings hit in virtually every region, rather than just in isolated areas, so the impact was felt nationwide. Further damaging spring frosts in early October gave the blueberry crop a real knock and caused significant damage to both kiwifruit vines and apricot trees,” says Prendergast. . .

Rejecting ag technology can be costly – By Stuart Smyth & Robert Paarlberg:

Over the past 25 years, many governments have faced the decision of whether to approve agricultural biotechnologies and their resulting products, genetically modified crops.

Governments that decided to approve GM crops have benefited from higher yields and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence of lower agricultural productivity for countries that opted to not adopt GM crops becomes glaringly apparent when comparing agricultural production in the European Union with that of the United States.

As we know, the U.S. has approved GM crops, whereas the EU decision found the costs of adoption to be greater than the benefits.

Between 1995 and 2019, the agricultural production index for the 27 countries of the EU increased by only seven percent, while agricultural production in the U.S. increased by 38 percent. Further evidence of the cost of the EU’s failure to adopt GM crops as consistently as in the U.S. found that EU agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are 33 million tonnes higher than if they had adopted GM crops, equalling 7.5 percent of total EU agricultural GHG emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

14/12/2022

Time to accentuate the positive – Jacqueline Rowarth :

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth on why it’s a good time of year to take heed of the lyrics to Johnny Mercer’s popular 1944 song, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.

With the festive season approaching, it is time to accentuate the positives, eliminate the negatives, and follow all the rest of the instructions in Johnny Mercer’s 1944 song.

The first one to observe is buried in the song, but important – “bring gloom down to the minimum”.

Gloom is a state of despair or despondency and there is no doubt that farmers and growers have been feeling in partial darkness (the other meaning of the word). . . 

Quite frightening drop in wool prices has farmer’s worried – Sally Murphy:

Slowing international demand for wool means farmers are getting lower prices for their clip.

Covid-19 lockdowns in China have resulted in agents there buying less, and high fuel prices in Europe means some processors are not operating their factories.

That’s having flow-on effects for wool growers here – each auction since mid-spring has brought a new set of price decreases, and prices for coarse wools are heading back towards the lows seen through 2021.

Hawke’s Bay wool broker and Wright Wool owner Philippa Wright said it’s dreadful calling farmers letting them know what their wool has sold for. . . 

Dairy giant sells off its Brazilian business, is a Xmas present likely to come the way of farmers? – Point of Order :

Dairy giant Fonterra has clinched the disposal of the last of its major South American investments. It has, with Nestlé, agreed the sale of their Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) Brazil joint venture to French dairy company Lactalis for BRL 700m (about NZD $210m subject to closing transaction adjustments).

The deal is expected to be completed by mid-2023, subject to regulatory authority approvals.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the sale of DPA Brazil is aligned with the co-op’s strategy of prioritising its NZ milk pool.

“DPA Brazil has reached maturity as an investment for us, and the sale allows us to prioritise our resources to the businesses that are core to our strategy.” . . .

This old dog has seen it before – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I was snoozing away in the kennel when the boss came and banged on the roof and said his editor had just got in touch to say it was the last column of the year and seen as I’d done it for the past few years, I’d better get on with it.

The boss thrust a half-chewed pencil and a couple of bits of paper at me, wished me good luck and stomped off back to the house.

In case you don’t know me, I’m Ditch, the dog he found as a young pup after I’d been dumped in the water table on the roadside. I was so small I fitted in his hand.

Even he thought Watertable would be a silly name. . .

Data gathering focus for subsurface irrigation trial :

Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are anticipating a season of “data collection” after installing a subsurface drip irrigation system on an 18-hectare block of land which is part of a 260-hectare farm in Maniototo, Central Otago. They aim to collect data from both this block and their trial site in Cust to analyse the benefits of subsurface drip irrigation

Gary and Penny are participating in a project which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation 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.

After a wet summer last year scuppered plans to collect data from their trial block, the couple were delighted when their partner Carrfields approached them for an installation opportunity in Maniototo. Gary says the site is an ideal location for installing subsurface drip irrigation. . .

Figured and Heartland Bank partner to provide lending to New Zealand’s farmers :

Farm financial management software company Figured has partnered with Heartland Bank to drive streamlined decision-making and access to lending for farmers.

Figured is New Zealand’s largest provider of farm financial management software, used by more than 16,000 of New Zealand’s commercial farms. Figured software is also used by farmers internationally.

Figured chief executive, Dave Dodds, said Figured’s move into providing lending services to farmers was a logical step, as it increasingly became a financial hub for farmers and their advisers.

“Farmers face an increasing range of commercial and environmental challenges and opportunities. This means their advisers and lenders need to be smarter about how capital is accessed and provided. . . 


Rural round-up

05/12/2022

Ardern government seeks to butter up farmers with bold export forecasts and on-farm sequestration changes – Point of Order:

Farmers  had plenty to digest this week:  first, the Ministry of Primary Industries assesses exports from the sector will hit a record high $55bn  in 2023; second, the government took an important step back on the on-farm sequestration programme; and third, Field Days at Mystery Creek engrossed  those who attended (though perhaps not the Prime Minister, given the cool reception).

The MPI data showed Dairy again NZ’s largest export sector with forecast revenue due to top $23.3bn. That underlines how important the dairy sector has become in the NZ economy.  Red meat and wool exports are also expected to hit a record at $12.4bn.

Horticultural export revenue is projected to grow 5% to $7.1bn and processed food by 3% to $3.3bn.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor doesn’t mind taking the credit for the primary sector’s success, but please, don’t mention  soaring costs. . . 

National plays the field at Fieldays – Jo Moir:

The country’s biggest farming show was a lightning rod for strong political views from the agricultural sector

Farmers have been placed right in the centre of the political fracas over the past months with policies like taxes on emissions and environmental regulations earning the ire of the agricultural sector.

It’s left hundreds of thousands of votes up for grabs by whichever party can curry the favour of primary producers, and at this year’s summer Fieldays it was readily apparent.

The mud and rain was replaced with a smaller crowd and the sun beating down on politicians like Jacinda Ardern and Christopher Luxon, each of whom took to the streets of the southern hemisphere’s largest agricultural event to press flesh. . . 

Sustainable future – how climate conscious consumers could revive wool industry – Nikki Mandow:

Wool is natural, sustainable, biodegradable and versatile but NZ’s coarse wool industry is in more dire trouble than ever – a situation a new three-year strategy hopes to change

It costs your average New Zealand farmer around $3 a kilo to shear your average New Zealand coarse-wool (not merino) sheep. That same average farmer will receive as little as $2 a kilo for that wool – a third of what they would have got five years ago.

That’s seriously flawed economics: a loss of up to $1 a kilo (or $160 a bale) for a product that was once the mainstay of the New Zealand economy. It’s lucky for farmers that sheep produce meat too.

Covid has played a part in the collapse of the wool market in recent times. Port closures and other supply disruptions meant China, our biggest buyer by some way, imported $100 million-worth less wool in 2020 than in 2019, a drop of 40 percent. . . 

FCANZ members raise 15000 for charity :

Fencing industry body Fencing Contractors Association NZ (FCANZ) recently presented the Whatever With Wiggy charitable trust with a $15,000 donation from its members. The funds were raised at an impromptu auction held at the recent FCANZ annual Conference, with Association Partners and some members donating the items to be auctioned.

“We were astounded by the generosity of not only our members for bidding on auction items but also for the support shown for this Charity by Association Partners who continued to donate items throughout the evening.” says Phil Cornelius, President of FCANZ.

Auction items ranged from tools, augers, wire, netting and Y-posts to white water rafting trips and even the shirt from the back of auctioneer Stephen Caunter. “The willingness for people to donate and bid shows just how highly they value the work that Wiggy is doing” said Cornelius. . . 

Dairy, horticulture tipped to drive record rise in primary exports :

Food and fibre exports are predicted to reach a record $55 billion dollars in the year to next June.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has just released its Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report which looked at how different parts of the sector are tracking – and it was good news for all.

Dairy export revenue is expected to grow six percent to $23.3 billion driven by strong global prices and a weakening New Zealand dollar.

Red meat and wool exports are forecast to remain steady at $12.4 billion and horticulture is forecast to grow five percent to just over $7 billion thanks to high yields from this year’s grape harvest and rising prices for avocado, onion and wine export prices. . . .

 ofi announces almond hull feed trial for NZ :

ofi (olam food ingredients) today announced it is commencing a trial of a new animal feed for New Zealand dairy farmers that has the potential to help reduce both methane emissions and input costs on farm.

ofi operates large-scale almond orchards in Australia. The trial will see the almond hulls and shells that are currently a by-product of almond processing repurposed into a nutritious feed source for dairy cows in New Zealand.

“Almond hulls are a proven source of nutrition for dairy cows. As part of our research for the trial we met with Australian dairy farmers successfully using almond hulls as a source of fibre in a pasture-based system. That gives us confidence the model will work well here,” said Paul Johnson, GM Milk Supply for ofi New Zealand.

The feed will be supplemented with Agolin Ruminant (Agolin) which has the potential benefit of reducing methane emissions and increasing the feed conversion rate, which in turn will support milk yields. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/11/2022

No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 

 


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

17/10/2022

Farmers react to government’s HWENN stance– Richard Rennie & Annette Scott:

Masterton farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ councillor Paul Crick says there’s a fundamental unfairness in the government’s interpretation of He Waka Eke Noa, one that conflicts with its own policy goals.

“Reading the ‘Fit for a Better World’ policy document, in Damien O’Connor’s foreword he writes how its aim is to build a more productive, sustainable and inclusive food and fibre sector. That appears a lot throughout the document, ensuring a better future for farmers and growers. How then do we throw that lens over what we heard on HWEN this week?”

Crick said there is a fundamental unfairness in the removal of the ability to sequester methane against farm vegetation, and in ignoring the 1.4 million hectares of woody vegetation already growing on NZ drystock farms that could be applied.

“It seems they are saying on one hand we will take it, and on the other we will take it as well. There is no balancing of the ledger there.”  . . .

Why blame cows Maori farmer rejects ETS money grab? – James Perry:

Paki Nikora, a trustee of Te Urewera-based Tātaiwhetu Trust, says he can’t fathom why farmers continue to be blamed for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Mēnā tātou ka whakaaro i te wā ka pā mai te mate uruta kia tātou, ka makere mai ngā ēropereina i te rangi, ka makere mai ngā motuka i ngā huarahi ka mārama te kitea atu i te taiao ki te whare rā anō o te atua. Kei te whakapae rātou nā ngā kau kē te hē.
(If we think back to when the covid pandemic hit us and the planes were grounded and cars were off the roads, it was clear to see the improvement in the environment. But they still want to blame the cows.) 

He describes the government’s emissions reduction scheme is a “senseless tax” on the industry.

“Kāore au i te mārama he aha rātou e huri mai nei ki te tāke i a tātou whenua. He mahi moni noa tērā.”
(I don’t know why they keep trying to tax us on our whenua. It’s just a plain money grab) . . 

Why New Zealand meat is outstanding in its field – Annette Scott :

Going from the laboratory to the family dinner table, a multi-year research programme looked into the relative nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef and lamb, and plant-based alternatives. Annette Scott found out why grass is so great.

A New Zealand research programme has found pasture-raised beef and lamb beats both grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives when it comes to health and wellbeing benefits for consumers.

The four-year programme brought together researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland and included two ground-breaking clinical trials to look at the impact of red meat on the diet.

The clinical trials assessed the physical effects on the body from eating beef or lamb raised on grass, grain-fed beef and plant-based alternatives, and looked at measurements of wellbeing such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels. . . .

 

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon to build innovative land-based salmon farm :

A prototype for New Zealand’s first sustainable, land-based salmon farm is in the early stages of development, with backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

SFF Futures is committing $6.7 million over six years to the $16.7 million project, which was officially launched in Twizel today. Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker attended the launch and visited the freshwater salmon farms to hear about Mt Cook Alpine Salmon’s plans for building the prototype.

“Demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to boost the supply of this high-quality, high-value product,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

Mr Penno says the project aligns with the Government’s aquaculture strategy, which outlines a sustainable growth pathway to an additional $3 billion in annual revenue. . . 

Fonterra revises milk collection :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its 2022/23 New Zealand milk collections to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its previous forecast of 1,495 million kgMS.

Fonterra last reduced its 2022/23 milk collections forecast in early September. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says this was due to weather conditions in parts of New Zealand causing a slow start to the season.  . . .

 

My food bag launches homegrown taste adventures to celebrate Nadia’s farm :

My Food Bag has released its latest meal kit offering to enable Kiwi foodies the opportunity to recreate dishes featured on Three’s new programme, Nadia’s Farm.

My Food Bag is a proud sponsor of Nadia’s Farm, an unfiltered look at Nadia and her husband Carlos as they re-establish Royalburn Station, airing Wednesday nights on Three and ThreeNow.

Bringing the fresh and high quality ingredients seen on television direct to Kiwi kitchens, My Food Bag is releasing meal kits inspired by meals seen on Nadia’s Farm and has launched a farm shop filled with products from Royalburn Station, and other boutique New Zealand suppliers.

Jo Mitchell, Chief Customer Officer of My Food Bag, says supporting Nadia’s Farmis a way to celebrate the best of New Zealand food and what happens on the farm to make that possible for us. . . 

 


Meanwhile on the farm . . .

06/10/2022

 


Rural round-up

30/09/2022

Voluntary sequestration schemes create opportunities as well as confusion – Keith Woodford:

Native forests that began regenerating prior to 1990 are excluded from the ETS. This opens opportunities for voluntary schemes independent of Government.

In a recent article, I wrote how carbon credits are not created equal. This inequality is now leading to game-playing and confusion across society. Terms like ‘greenwash’ as the carbon equivalent of a ‘whitewash’ are increasingly heard and there is increasing talk of ‘hot air’ carbon claims.

Since writing that article, I have been wrestling with the challenge of further deepening my own understanding of how the carbon game is being played. It is a game where different players are playing by different sets of rules, as are the certifying referees.  Many of the certifying rules are far from transparent.

Here in this article my focus is specifically on the rules surrounding sequestration that removes carbon from the atmosphere. That leaves other aspects of the carbon rules for another time. . .

Better free trade outcomes an illusion – EU politician – Sam Sachdeva:

EU trade committee chair Bernd Lange argues the grouping’s trade deal with New Zealand is a “gold standard” agreement – even if Kiwi farmers disagree. Lange spoke to Sam Sachdeva about China’s coercive trade practices, cracking down on forced labour, and how the Ukraine invasion has changed attitudes on trade

Even a typically miserable Wellington spring day can’t shake the good mood of European parliamentarian Bernd Lange.

Speaking to Newsroom at the end of a week-long visit to New Zealand, Lange says the grey skies and rain remind him of his roots in northern Germany – although his cheer may be more down to the free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand he is here to discuss.

Lange visited New Zealand in late 2017 for a “fact-finding mission” with other members of the European Parliament’s international trade committee which he chairs. . . 

Synlait posts $38.5m annual profit

The South Island dairy company Synlait Milk is back in the black as its ingredients division saw higher than normal sales, while its major customer rebalanced inventory levels.

Key numbers for the 12 months ended July compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $38.5m vs $28.5m loss
  • Revenue $1.66b vs $1.37b
  • Total average payment $9.59 vs $7.82
  • Forecast 2023 payout $9.50 per kilo of milk solids

Synlait chair John Penno said the past year was “an important period of refocusing”. . . 

Fonterra trials world first in sustainable electricity storage :

A new organic, low-cost, safe, sustainable and long-life battery being trialled by Fonterra, could support greater energy security and distributed electricity generation for New Zealand.

PolyJoule, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-off, is partnering with Fonterra on the application of the battery made from electrically conductive polymers, an organic based compound with the ability to act like metal.

Late last year the world’s first industrial scale organic battery was installed on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa. The battery was cycled daily, supporting dairy shed operations for 10 months. The Co-op is now moving this battery to its Waitoa UHT site, which can be impacted by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says as a significant electricity user at about 2.5% of the national grid, a sustainable and secure electricity supply is vital to the Co-operative’s local sales and exports. . .

Primary sector exporters buoyed by opportunities for a closer India-NZ relationship but different approach necessary :

Primary sector exporters recently returned from a visit to India are excited about the opportunities for a closer partnership between the two countries, however they are urging the New Zealand Government to adopt a more flexible and focused approach to trade.

New Zealand’s agriculture exporters and industry bodies, including representatives from the red meat, kiwifruit, apples & pears and dairy sectors, were part of an India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) delegation which coincided with a visit from Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.

“India has come out of COVID-19 with growing confidence and strength, and its leaders have a clear focus on accelerating economic growth including through trade,” says INZBC chair Earl Rattray, who has dairy interests in India.

“India is on track to become the world’s third largest economy within the next decade. There is a modern economic miracle unfolding there, with an openness to explore mutually beneficial ways to strengthen trade relationships. This is a good time for New Zealand business to embrace India.” . . 

NZ Young Farmers and Ministry for Primary Industries partner to boost wellbeing :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is supporting NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to fund a series of events for NZYF members as part of an initiative to improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

MPI is contributing funding for the events, which will offer a channel for young people across the country to connect and learn ways to manage mental health and build resilience.

NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says mental health is a key concern in rural communities, where factors such as isolation and high workloads can impact overall wellbeing and mental health.

“The mental and physical wellbeing of young people is a big focus of our organisation and is essential for the ongoing viability of many rural communities,” says Lynda Coppersmith. . . 


Rural round-up

15/09/2022

What the ‘F’ is going on? – Mark Daniel:

Rabobank’s Emma Higgins recently outlined some of the current headaches facing the agriculture sector.

At the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) Conference, held in Christchurch, she focused on a number of ‘F’ words – freight, fuel, fertiliser, feed, folk and farmer spending.

Higgins looked at the state of the global shipping industry and what had happened pre- and post-Covid, covering a period from early 2018 to June 2022. She explained that during the pre-Covid era, freight rates had remained largely static with most companies making little or no margin. However, since early 2020, rates had skyrocketed, alliances and consolidations had become the norm and major players were reporting margins approaching 40% or more.

Higgins warned those needing to ship goods in or out of the country not to expect freight costs to return to pre-Covid levels, even though there had been a recent softening of rates. She also noted there is an ongoing problem with scheduling reliability – boats arriving on time. Pre-Covid this was typically at 85%, but more lately was sitting at 35%. . . 

Many flow-on effects if scroll plains classified as wetlands – Shawn McAvinue:

A Maniototo Basin farmer fears proposed new freshwater rules will remove an important tool used to protect a unique scroll plain.

Puketoi Station owner Emma Crutchley said her nearly 3000ha sheep, beef and arable farm was often dry.

About 350mm of rain fell each year on the farm, which is about a 20-minute drive southwest of Ranfurly.

When it tips down, the overflow of the meandering Taieri River transforms a low-lying area of her farm to a “large, slow-moving lake”. . . 

Winter crop consent logjam ‘could reach 10,000’ – Neal Wallace:

Delays in finalising freshwater farm plans threaten bureaucratic snarl-up.

An estimated 10,000 farmers may require resource consent to intensively winter stock on crops next year.

A meeting this week between farming groups and the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) will confirm if a compromise can be found to the consenting requirement, which many fear will overwhelm regional council staff.

It has been estimated that 2000 farmers in Southland and 1000 in Waikato will require resource consent, and farming leaders calculate that nationally, potentially a further 7000 may also need consent. . . 

Ex-Feds dairy boss makes it 3-way battle for DairyNZ board seats – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers leader Chris Lewis is one of three candidates confirmed for DairyNZ director elections.

The Waikato farmer will take on sitting directors Tracy Brown, Waikato and Elaine Cook, Bay of Plenty, both retiring by rotation and seeking re-election.

Voting starts September 19 and ends on October 17. Results will be announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Invercargill the next day.

Lewis, who milks 970 cows at Pukeatua, believes he will bring a farmer’s perspective to the board. . . 

Vets hold the line against M bovis – Mary van Andel :

Local vets are putting the country on track to be the world’s first to eradicate the disease.

Much of the work veterinarians do is behind the scenes but underpins aspects of our economy, environment and way of life. Across New Zealand, veterinarians provide valuable technical expertise and are recognised as trusted advisers on a range of issues, including animal health and welfare, and disease surveillance and investigation. They play a key role in our biosecurity system.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the private veterinarian who first identified Mycoplasma bovis in NZ in 2017. Since those early and often difficult days, private veterinarians have made a significant contribution in identifying the index case and reporting cases of suspected disease, as well as undertaking on-farm testing and supporting their clients affected by the eradication programme. 

If it had been left unchecked, M bovis could have cost the industry $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns. As we near the halfway mark of our estimated 10-year eradication programme, we are aiming to move from controlling the last known pockets of the disease, to provisional absence. We are on track to become the first country to eradicate M bovis.

An important part of my role at the Ministry for Primary Industries is to identify ways to build relationships that bind our animal health community together to enable successful biosecurity partnerships. MPI is NZ’s largest employer of veterinarians, with 300 working in five of the nine business units, across all regions, including overseas postings.  . . 

Ploughwoman qualifies for national champs – Shawn McAvinue:

Southland ploughwoman Tryphena Carter is going to the National Ploughing Championships next year.

The Waimea Ploughing Club member qualified for the nationals on the first day of the Middlemarch, Taieri and Tokomairiro ploughing matches in Strath Taieri.

“That’s really exciting,” Carter said.

She got podium finishes in the conventional class on all three days — the Tokomairiro match in Sutton on August 26 and the Taieri and Middlemarch matches in Middlemarch on August 27 and 28 respectively. . . 


Rural round-up

01/09/2022

The Huiarua / Matanui betrayal – Clive Bibby :

Recently I enjoyed the experience of helping two young local men shear some of my sheep.

The exercise was a mixture of one that helped to restore my faith in our local farm based economy but also another that reinforced my concerns about the contemptuous manner in which the farming industry is being treated by the current government.

Who would have thought that it would be possible to have two views of the same cornerstone industry that are so diametrically opposed. 

Yet here we are lamenting that those who have the power to safeguard the jobs and welfare of those who make it happen, actually doing their best to destroy our number one asset – all in the name of an already discredited ideology. It is criminal activity and those who are responsible should be held to account.  . .

Dairy is fundamental to New Zealand’s future but it needs an informed debate – Keith Woodford:

The key message of this article is that dairy is of fundamental importance to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.  However, the journey to get there is not straight forward and it will be controversial.

First, I set out the reasons why dairy is so important, and hence the need to face-up to the challenges that lie ahead. This then leads towards necessary actions to address the challenges.

It is no accident that New Zealand’s most important export industry is dairy, comprising some 30 percent of the export value of goods that leave New Zealand’s shores. Add in sheep, beef, timber, fish, kiwifruit and wine, and New Zealand’s primary industries contribute a little over 80 percent of the export earnings derived from merchandise goods.

The remaining exports are led by aluminium and some machinery. However, with these and other manufactured goods, the net contribution is typically much less than the export earnings, given the imports that are required to feed into the manufacture of these exports. . . 

Tomato growers face skyrocketing energy costs, labour shortages – Sally Murphy:

Tomatoes NZ hopes feedback from growers about the issues they’re facing will show the government and consumers how expensive and hard it’s become to grow the fruit.

The industry group is getting feedback from growers to create a living document of information.

It highlights the main issues growers are having such as rising energy and production costs, labour shortages and biosecurity incursions.

The cost of energy used to heat glasshouses had skyrocketed, with coal between 45 and 65 percent higher in price and gas up 50 percent.

Sourcing labour remained a challenge, the document said. Tomato growing businesses were operating with 40-60 percent of employee numbers due to the effects of Covid-19 and border restrictions. . . 

Worsening labour shortages forces agricultural sector to evaluate next steps :

Agricultural businesses in New Zealand are currently experiencing one of the highest labour shortages in its history. Farmers, business owners, and growers are dealing with a range of issues that are being felt nationwide with multiple crop losses and recent floodings. These issues and the additional strain on expenses are forcing employers to step back and evaluate next steps. There has never been a better time for employers to be well informed and aware of their obligations when it comes to managing and paying their staff.

New Zealand’s leading employment relations and health and safety at work specialists, Employsure New Zealand have released resources for agricultural business owners. Having represented over 6,000 businesses, Employsure have used their experience and knowledge to create tailored and effective resources for small business owners who find themselves unsure of their responsibilities.

Employsure New Zealand’s Operations Manager, Laurence McLean has commented on the importance of employer obligations. Mr McLean commented, [1]“With New Zealand doubling its working holiday intake and offering a fast-tracked path to permanency for temporary migrant workers, it is vital for employers to be knowledgeable on how to manage their staff from all walks of life including vulnerable workers such as backpackers and migrants many of whom do not fully understand their rights as employees. . . 

A2 share price rallies sharply as the processor reports big jump in net profit – Point of Order :

A mixed  bag  of  news  came  down the  line  for  New Zealand’s  dairy  industry  over the  past  week.  On  one  side,  Fonterra trimmed   its  forecast  payout  for  the  season, while  on  another a2  Milk   surprised   its  critics  by  reporting  a  42% jump  in  net  profit  to $114m.

Any   company  listed  on  the NZX  and  sitting  on a  cash  mountain  of  $800m  must  be  doing  something  right.    Yet  some of  the  headlines  on   its  result  focussed  on  what  might  go  wrong   for   the  company  that specialises  in marketing  a2 milk  and  infant  formula.

For  example  Business  Desk’s  Jenny Ruth  says the    biggest source of uncertainty for a2 Milk right now is China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) deadline of February 21, 2023, for companies selling infant formula in China to get a new form of approval.  It’s called the GB standard, which is a Chinese national standard. Foreign companies won’t be able to manufacture formula for the Chinese market beyond that date unless they meet the new standard and have that all-important tick from SAMR.

But the  investment  community  was  cheered  by the  result in  what  is  currently  a rather downmarket climate. A2 Milk’s  share price rallied sharply after the company reported the  leap in profit which was driven by strong growth in its infant formula business in China. . . 

Integrated report shows strong progress for company against strategic objectives :

Ravensdown’s 2022 Integrated Report published today shows the fertiliser co-operative owned by primary producers is tracking well against its strategic objectives.

Highlights include:

  • A 12 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from fertiliser against the previous year.
  • A net reduction of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions of 2,206 tonnes of carbon dioxide (14%) since the base year of 2018.
  • Confirming plans to convert the company’s Dipton, Southland coal-fired combustor to biomass eliminating at least 1100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, almost 10 per cent of Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint. . . 

 


Rural round-up

31/08/2022

Weathering another policy debacle – Neal Wallace:

The government could spare itself embarrassing backdowns by learning to listen.

As many predicted, government policies to address the environmental impact of intensive winter grazing are a shambles.

The absence of common sense means that in the past two years the government has backed down on four elements of the intensive winter grazing (IWG) component of its Essential Freshwater policy: crop resowing dates, slope maps, pugging limits and now consent conditions.

Government officials are running out of time to have Freshwater Management Plan criteria for IWG, an alternative to resource consent, ready by the November 1 deadline as promised. . .

Sheep farmer struggles to control huge, hungry hoppers – Country Life:

Back in the 1950s, a group of wallabies turned up at Wainui Station… and never left.

Before farmer Walter Cameron was allowed to use poison on the pesky marsupials, a hired gun was killing up to 3,500 a year.

Walter remembers first seeing a wallaby on his family’s 12,000-hectare hill-country property when he was still in nappies.

A few years later, he was allowed to go hunting for them with his father. . . 

Sri Lanka shows how not to go organic – Allan Emerson:

There’s a lesson for NZ, where there’s no shortage of elitist greenies giving advice.

In Australia there has been considerable media coverage on the crisis in Sri Lanka and its causes. Strangely, that coverage hasn’t been replicated in New Zealand. 

Basically the country has gone from one of relative prosperity to near bankruptcy in less than three years. It’s a basket case.

The reason for the crisis? They went organic. . . 

Any move to strengthen RSE scheme supported by Horticulture NZ:

Horticulture New Zealand supports any move to ensure the ongoing success of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and give growers access to a skilled seasonal workforce, as growers look to the next harvest season.

Horticulture New Zealand and other industry groups will continue their discussions with the Governments of New Zealand and the Pacific, ahead of decisions due any day now about how the RSE scheme will operate for the coming harvest season.

There is no tolerance for employer behaviour that is contrary to the spirit of the RSE scheme. We must ensure the scheme continues to operate successfully for the Pacific as well as for New Zealand.

For the past 15 years, the RSE scheme has helped Pacific economies to develop and communities to flourish, through the skills RSE employees develop and the money that they earn. . . 

UK Trade Minister to visit low-carbon dairy processor Miraka during first visit to NZ:

Taupō dairy processing business, Miraka, which has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, will host the United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade, the Right Honourable Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP during the Minister’s first visit to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chairman of Miraka, Kingi Smiler said it was an honour for Miraka to host a senior UK government minister with responsibility for trade and trade relationships.

“Minister Trevelyan is the most senior UK government minister to visit New Zealand in a very long time, particularly since the COVID pandemic began in 2020. We are delighted that the Minister is visiting our geothermally powered manufacturing plant to learn about our business and in particular, how we apply Te Ao Māori principles in operating our business, engaging with people and exercising kaitiakitanga; caring for our taiao – the natural environment and resources, as best we can.”

Minister Trevelyan will arrive in the region on Saturday and will be welcomed at a pōwhiri at Oruanui Marae, north of Taupō. . .

Irish farmers say they will be forced to cull cows to meet climate targets – Rory

Government plan to cut agriculture emissions by 25% by 2030 will drive many farms into bankruptcy, say critics

Donald Scully gazes at his herd of 208 cows munching grass and clover in a verdant field, as a light breeze ruffles the stillness.

“There is an enjoyment for me to come out and look and see how healthy and happy these cows are,” says Scully, 47, a third-generation dairy farmer. “Every single cow has her own personality, they’re all individuals.”

The pastoral scene in Ballyheyland, a landscape of rolling hills in County Laois, is replicated across rural Ireland. Ireland has 7.3 million cattle, substantially outnumbering humans, and a long history with the animal stretching into myth, including the Cattle Raid of Cooley, an epic tale considered the Irish Iliad. Agriculture dominated the economy well into the 20th century and moulded a vision of Ireland that still enchants visitors. . . 


Rural round-up

23/08/2022

Regulations repeatedly failing ‘practicality test’ – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers has given repeated warnings to government that aspects of the 2020 ‘Essential Freshwater’ regulations are unworkable. Frustratingly, officials have treated us as lobbyists and viewed our concerns as simply coming from a point of self-interest rather than recognising we seek workable and lasting solutions.

But it is becoming increasingly apparent that all the problems we identified are coming to fruition.

First cab off the rank was the N fertiliser reporting deadline of 31 July 2022. This is where all the dairy farmers are supposed to report back to their regional council that they haven’t exceeded the 190kg per hectare nitrogen cap. The vast majority of dairy farmers never use more than this anyway, and we are already reporting all this stuff back through their dairy companies but hey let’s do the job a second time because what else do we have going on at this time of year….Actually, make that the third time because Stats NZ would also like to know how much fertiliser I applied.

Federated Farmers opposed this regulation because it wasn’t scientific and it targeted dairy farmers over other users of fertiliser. But at the end of the day, it is a pretty simple regulation. We would have thought it would be pretty easy to implement. . . .

Sector praised after challenging times – Tim Cronshaw:

A farming leader says the way the red meat sector has got through unprecedented times in sheep and beef farming is an “unsung hero” story.

Agricultural exports made $52 billion and contributed 82% of export revenues despite a line-up of challenges since Covid-19 arrived.

About 300 delegates attending the Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch heard that they’d faced an increase in government policies, regulations and consumer attitudes around Climate Change.

“I’m really proud of how we’ve navigated these Covid challenges and I’m really proud we’ve collectively navigated these policy challenges,” Beef+Lamb NZ chairman Andrew Morrison said.

“We’ve come together as a red meat sector and an agricultural sector.” . . 

Glimmer of hope in draft Tasman stock control bylaw  – Hamish Barwick:

Federated Farmers has a glimmer of hope that the Tasman District Council is listening to its concerns about the council’s Draft Stock Control and Droving Bylaw.

Farmers in the Nelson and Golden Bay area’s feel the Bylaw is unworkable as it would require mobs of livestock to be held 50m back from the roads, before going onto the road, in an attempt to stop stock defecating on roads. . . 

The Bylaw would also require permits which would capture virtually all road droving within consent application processes, so the Council can gather information on stock droving.

In addition, there are wrongly placed rules citing the need for compliance with Resource Management Act (RMA) freshwater management policy and regulations when the Tasman Regional Resource Management Plan doesn’t allow the Council to use bylaws in its implementation methods on Freshwater Management. . . 

Young winegrowers heading to Burgundy :

The best young talent from Central Otago is going to one of best wine-producing areas in the world.

After a two-year pause on travel, the Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association (Cowa) is once again sending young winegrowers to France’s Burgundy area.

The six young winegrowers are part of the Central Otago Burgundy exchange stagiaires (interns), which is back on its feet.

This will be the largest group that has headed to Burgundy since the exchange was first established in 2006. . . 

Seeka announces result for the six months to 30 June 2022 :

Listed New Zealand produce company Seeka, reports its unaudited interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2022.

– $49.4m EBITDA – up 5.3% on six months to June 2021, (previous corresponding period (pcp))
– $21.5m NPAT – up 4.3% on pcp

Seeka has announced its results with a backdrop of Covid-19, adverse weather events, extreme labour shortages, machine commissioning delays, shipping disruption, lower fruit yields and poor quality. It has been a tough six months and the company has hunkered down, toughed it out and focussed on the immediate job of optimising its operations and results in a volatile environment with significant inflationary pressure and geopolitical events affecting key markets.

The company has focussed on core business having completed the acquisition and integration of OPAC, Orangewood and NZ Fruits in the last twelve months. . . 

The most damaging farm products are not regenerative beef & lamb, George Monbiot  – Meg Chatham:

It’s half-baked, over-simplifications of nature’s complexity and our increasing disconnection from the rest of the living world.

I was recently made aware of this article by author, George Monbiot, damning organic, pasture-fed beef and lamb as the world’s most damaging farm products.

This statement alone reveals a misunderstanding of global ecology and an ignorance of how essential livestock is to 1.3 billion people.

First, let’s address the sweeping assumption that all animal impact causes a negative impact around the world. . . 


Rural round-up

22/08/2022

How New Zealand’s climate fight is threatening its iconic farmland – Serena Solomon:

As the country puts a growing price on greenhouse emissions, investors are rushing to buy up pastures and plant carbon-sucking trees.

Horehore Station, a sheep and cattle ranch, sprawls across 4,000 acres on New Zealand’s North Island, its jagged expanse of uneven hills and steep gullies blanketed in lush green grass.

It is good, productive farmland, despite the rugged landscape. But it soon won’t be a farm anymore.

The land’s owner, John Hindrup, who bought it in 2013 for 1.8 million New Zealand dollars, sold it this year for 13 million, or $8.2 million. His windfall came courtesy of a newly lucrative industry in New Zealand: Forestry investors will cover the property in trees, making money not from their timber, but from the carbon the trees will suck from the atmosphere. . . 

Foot and Mouth: NZ’s doomsday disease – Emile Donovan:

New Zealand’s farming sector is on red alert for the highly contagious disease that could devastate the livestock industry.  We’ve never had an outbreak in this country but can we stop it from sneaking past the border indefinitely?

In May of this year, Indonesia confirmed its first case of foot-and-mouth disease – or FMD – since the nation was declared FMD-free in 1986.

Given Indonesia’s proximity to Australia – one of our biggest trading partners – and, indeed, to Aotearoa itself, this rang biosecurity alarm bells.

FMD is a huge threat to New Zealand’s agricultural sector. Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor described the spread of the disease here as “doomsday” for the farming community. . . 

Developments coming to help reduce on-farm GHGs – David Anderson:

Despite the challenge of agricultural emissions making up 50% of NZ’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) profile, there are several mitigation options in the pipeline.

At the recent Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch, Sinead Leahy – principal science advisor at the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) – outlined some of these developments and work being done in this space.

She told the audience that under the United Nations’ Paris Agreement, NZ has committed to reduce its emissions to 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

“When you look at NZ’s emissions profile there are two sectors Developments coming to help reduce on-farm GHGs that stand out where reductions can be made – the transport sector and the agriculture sector.” . .

NZ-made electric tractor boon for orchard – Tracie Barrett :

A fossil fuel-free cherry orchard at Mt Pisa, outside Cromwell, has taken delivery of an electric tractor to pull and power its electric sprayer.

The tractor was delivered this week on a fossil fuel-free road trip. Loxley Innovation founder Duncan Aitken towed the tractor, the Blue.E2, from Christchurch to Central Otago behind a Tesla.

The Blue.E2 was an upgrade to the original Blue.E that he converted from diesel to electric in the shed at his Christchurch home more than four years ago, for use on the 5ha farmlet he and wife, Thea Hewitt, own.

The upgrade takes the electric battery from 8.5kwh to 20kwh. . .

Small crop loss surprises farmers – Tim Cronshaw:

A final count-up of losses has revealed that arable farmers are down in yields by a surprisingly small 4% for the main crops.

Worse yields were predicted immediately after a tough harvest in Canterbury and other growing regions.

After factoring in a 4% increase in area harvested, the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (Aimi) calculated there is no change from the tonnages of the previous season for the six main crops.

However, it did underline that this could be inflated as test weights in some regions were down because of poor weather, which could lead to less grain in silos than expected.

 

For poor countries already facing debt distress as food crisis looms – Marcello Esteváo  :

The war in Ukraine could soon deliver a tragic blow to many of the world’s poorest countries: many of the countries at greatest risk of a debt crisis are now grappling with the threat of a food crisis as well.  

Food-import bills are surging fastest for poor countries that are already in debt distress or at high risk of it , the World Bank’s latest data show. Over the next year, the tab for imports of wheat, rice, and maize in these countries is expected to rise by the equivalent of more than 1 percent of GDP. That is more than twice the size of the 2021-2022 increase—and, given the relatively small size of these economies, it’s also twice as large as the expected increase for middle-income economies.

The danger of an overlapping food and debt crisis is greatest for seven countries in particular—those at high risk of debt distress or already in it: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, and Yemen.  But several middle-income countries are at risk as well—including some that are already in the midst of a simultaneous debt and food crisis. . . 


Rural round-up

20/07/2022

Former Ministers critical of PM’s comments – Nigel Stirling:

More voices have joined the chorus of condemnation aimed at the Prime Minister for comments they feel hurt New Zealand’s chances of getting a meaningful deal with the European Union.

Two former trade ministers have joined the dairy industry in condemning comments made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a critical point in trade talks with the European Union.

The Dairy Companies Association believes Ardern scuppered the industry’s last chance of a commercially meaningful outcome from the talks by revealing a weakening in New Zealand’s negotiating position.

Before flying to Brussels for the final few days of the talks last month Ardern told media that NZ was ready to accept an improvement on the “status quo” market access NZ exporters already had in the EU. . .

NZ’s European Union free trade agreement – was a better deal left on the table? – Jane Clifton:

Our recently signed free-trade deal with the European Union has upset the dairy and beef sectors. Was a better deal left on the table?

As a country, we’ve just flunked that test psychologists set for small children, offering them one marshmallow now, or two if they wait five minutes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided delayed gratification wasn’t the right strategy for the much-anticipated European Union free-trade agreement (FTA) and returned from her travels with just the one marshmallow.

After a couple of days’ hearty talk about how marvellous the deal was, Trade Minister Damien O’Connor conceded, “It’s probably fair to say that no one likes it, so we probably have it about right.” . . .

Farmers farm because it’s a way of life, they’re not asking for sympathy – Kerre Woodham:

I wanted to have a look at our farming sector this morning, because I think the grumpiness from a number of farmers over a Country Calendar show featuring Lake Hawea station probably gave us a heads up on where farmers’ confidence is at.

And it’s low, very, very low. According to a Rabobank quarterly rural confidence survey, it’s the lowest since the pandemic began. Back in March, farmers’ confidence was the lowest it had been since Federated Farmers began a twice a year survey in 2009. 

When you think about the reality of farming for most Kiwis, I guess you can understand and empathise with their frustration. It’s a cold, wet, miserable job in winter and a hot, dry dusty one in summer. Most farmers can’t delegate their farm chores, no matter if they’ve got the flu or if they’re feeling under the weather with a head cold, or if they’ve got Covid, they have to drag themselves up or call in favours from neighbours, which they will then repay. . . 

Council candidates deserve searching questions Feds says :

With sweeping changes facing local government, and the very existence of some councils under threat, Federated Farmers is urging rural New Zealanders to step up their interest in the election campaign this year.

“The Three Waters juggernaut is gathering steam despite a great deal of opposition,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. “Unchanged, it will put control of critical infrastructure in the hands of unelected and hard to hold to account entities, likely headquartered far away from rural New Zealand.”

This, plus moves for district planning functions to be regionalised, will leave some provincial councils with little left to do, “and thus ripe for forced amalgamations, given the review of the future of local government doesn’t wind up until next year,” Andrew said.

Local body elections happen again in September/October and Federated Farmers has just released its 2022 Local Elections Platform. It’s on the Federated Farmers’ website and sets out the federation’s position on the major issues swirling around local government, with questions and advice for voters and candidates. . . 

Food charity run by farmers says demand increasing nationwide

A food charity set up during the first wave of Covid-19 says two years on demand is outstripping what they can supply.

The Meat the Need charity takes donated livestock from farmers and processes it into premium mince, which is then donated to food banks nationwide.

Since it was founded in early 2020, the charity said it had supplied meat for more than 760,000 meals across the country.

Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford co-founded Meat the Need with Motueka Valley-based sharemilker Siobhan O’Malley. . .

Chance, choice and the avocado: the strange evolutionary and creative history of earth’s most nutritious fruit – Maria Popova:

In the last week of April in 1685, in the middle of a raging naval war, the English explorer and naturalist William Dampier arrived on a small island in the Bay of Panama carpeted with claylike yellow soil. Dampier — the first person to circumnavigate the globe thrice, inspiring others as different as Cook and Darwin — made careful note of local tree species everywhere he traveled, but none fascinated him more than what he encountered for the first time on this tiny island.

Dampier described the black bark and smooth oval leaves of the tall “Avogato Pear-tree,” then paused at its unusual fruit — “as big as a large Lemon,” green until ripe and then “a little yellowish,” with green flesh “as soft as Butter” and no distinct flavor of its own, enveloping “a stone as big as a Horse-Plumb.” He described how the fruit are eaten — two or three days after picking, with the rind peeled — and their most common local preparation: with a pinch of salt and a roasted plantain, so that “a Man that’s hungry, may make a good meal of it”; there was also uncommonly delectable sweet variation: “mixt with Sugar and Lime-juice, and beaten together in a Plate.” And then he added:

It is reported that this Fruit provokes to Lust, and therefore is said to be much esteemed by the Spaniards. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

15/06/2022

Impeding food production with taxes on emissions is a bad idea when the world is tipping towards mass hunger – Point of Order:

As the war in  the Ukraine drags  on, the  international   food  crisis  is  deepening. The  Economist put it  simply but grimly:

“The war is tipping a  fragile  world towards  mass  hunger. Fixing that is  everyone’s  business”.

So  shouldn’t  the  New Zealand Government   be  exhorting  farmers to  go  all out to produce  as  much  as  they  can   for  this  country  to be  lifting  its  food  exports?  Is   this  the  time   for  the  government  to be erecting  new  hurdles to impede the  production  of  food?  Shouldn’t  it  delay  the  plan  to tax methane emissions for  at  least  12  months? 

Let’s look  at what  The  Economist further said:

“The  war is  battering a  global food  system weakened   by  Covid-19, climate  change,  and  an energy  shock.  Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened. . . 

How our feta cheese should be tied to a farm emissions deal – Macaulay Jones:

The primary sector has delivered its He Waka Eke Noa emissions pricing recommendation report to ministers. Now it’s time for the Government to deliver on their end of the bargain.

In a 2020 public webinar hosted by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, titled “Setting the direction: Towards a low-emissions future”, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor spoke about the need for agricultural emissions pricing to enhance our chances of good free trade agreements.

“In negotiating a trade agreement with the EU, and with the UK, both of those places are very proud of their efforts around climate change and emissions reduction,” O’Connor said.

“If we can say we’ve included agriculture [in the Emissions Trading Scheme], that gives us momentum when it comes to negotiating that market agreement and so don’t underestimate the positives of this. While there may be some… adjustments that are needed I think we could innovate our way through that.”  . . .

 

South Island Farmers embrace a dynamic future :

Over 420 dairy farmers gathered in Oamaru last week for SIDE 2022, with a focus on building skills and discussing solutions to challenges facing the farming sector.

The SIDE theme was dynamic and event chair Anna Wakelin opened the event by saying that farmers across New Zealand are taking control of their futures and standing up for positive change.

“We’re on the right track. It’s tough, but we can be proud of our low carbon footprint, our innovation and progress, and our work which supports communities through the bad times and the good.

“It’s staggering that just 11,000 dairy farms contribute almost $2 billion to New Zealand’s economy,” she added. . . 

Silver Fern Farms secures industry-leading sustainability linked financing :

Silver Fern Farms Ltd today announced the company has entered into one of New Zealand’s largest sustainability-linked working capital financing facilities (SL Financing).

At $320 million (NZD) the SL Financing has been carefully tailored to the challenges faced by the red meat industry, and will further enable Silver Fern Farms to grow while delivering on the company’s transformative sustainability agenda.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive, Simon Limmer said the country’s largest red meat company is committed to leading food system-change and supporting a just transition to a low carbon economy.

“Our commitment, and follow-through, on sustainability issues is a key way we’re making sure we do the right thing by our customers who increasingly want their red meat sustainably produced and processed. . .

Innovative Pāmu deer milk product finalist in prestigious global awards :

Pāmu’s awarding winning Deer Milk is up for two prestigious awards at the World Dairy Innovation Awards, to be announced in Laval, France on 15 June.

Pāmu Deer Milk is a finalist in the Best Dairy Ingredient category, while its new Doe Nutrition product is a finalist in the Best Functional Dairy section.

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

“Our deer milk product has been steadily growing in popularity among high end chefs and as a unique new ingredient in cosmetics, currently sold exclusively through the Yuhan New Origin stores in Korea. These nominations recognise the extensive application and unique properties of deer milk.” . . .

 

Digital Dairy Chain launches in Dumfries – Gordon Davidson:

South-West Scotland and Cumbria are about to become a ‘magnet’ for hi-tech dairy production – or at least, that is the hope of the newly launched Digital Dairy Chain project.

The £21 million venture was officially launched this week near Dumfries. Led by Scotland’s Rural College from its B arony campus, it will see partners across South-West Scotland and Cumbria focussing on developing a fully integrated and traceable dairy supply chain, bringing about an economic transformation that will, its architects believe, eventually lead to the creation of more than 600 jobs and generate £60m a year of additional value. . . 


Rural round-up

03/05/2022

O’Connor now will support law changes needed for Fonterra’s capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Agriculture  Minister  Damien  O’Connor has  overcome  his objections to  the  capital restructuring of  dairy giant Fonterra  and  says  the  government  will  now  amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The dairy giant wants to make it easier to join the company, while maintaining farmer ownership amid falling milk supply.

O’Connor  recognises  Fonterra as a key part of New Zealand’s world-leading dairy industry and a major export earner for the economy, sending product to over 130 countries.

Around 95% of all dairy milk produced in New Zealand is exported, with export revenues of  $19.1bn a year. It accounts for 35% of NZ’s total merchandise exports and around 3.1%  of GDP. The industry employs around 49,000 people. . . 

Is this the technology to win Kiwis over to genetic engineering? – Nikki Macdonald:

You’ve heard of fermenting yeast to make beer, but what about brewing GM microbes to make bioplastic? Using designer microbes to make stuff in fermentation vats has been described as the next manufacturing revolution, with potential to produce everything from cow-free cheese to sustainable fossil fuel replacements. But is GE-free New Zealand ready for it?

Veronica Stevenson bet her house deposit on a bee.

Before using GM microbes to make stuff was all the talk (Impossible Burger, mRNA vaccines), Stevenson set out to find the genetic recipe for the plastic-like film that lines the nest of a solitary Aussie bee.

All she had to do was work out which bit of the bee’s DNA linked to the nest material and put that code into a micro-organism, which then makes it in a fermentation vat, or bioreactor. . . 

Country Calendar couple put hopes in hemp – Kerry Harvey:

Southland farmers Blair and Jody Drysdale don’t let fear hold them back when it comes to finding ways to make their family farm work.

“You can’t be scared of failing. Give it a go and, as long as you learn by your failures, get up and carry on again,” Blair says.

The couple are the third generation of the family to farm the 320-hectare mixed cropping and livestock farm. Jody and Blair and their three children – Carly, 13, Fletcher, 11, and Leah, nine – took over from Blair’s parents in 2008. . . 

Waikato diary farmers struggling with historic dry conditions

Waikato dairy farmers are struggling with the region’s dry conditions, with no decent rainfall expected to fall anytime soon.

NIWA’s latest hot spot watch shows things have got really dry in the region within the last couple of weeks.

The driest soils across the North Island, compared to normal for this time of the year, are in Northern Waikato – and it doesn’t look like the situation will improve anytime soon, with no decent rain forecast.

Bart Van De ven is a sharemilker in Springdale, near Morrinsville. . . 

Where did we get the idea veganism can solve climate change? – Anthony Signorelli:

Cattle have been denigrated as a major cause of greenhouse gases (GHG) and, therefore, a cause of climate change. When I first heard this as a former farmer, I thought: That’s preposterous! Do cows have more impact than fossil fuels? No way.

Big claims

So, I looked it up. Sure enough, a 2009 report from the WorldWatch Institute claims livestock accounts for 51% of GHG — more than industry, coal-burning electricity generation, and transportation combined. Whatever those guys smoke at WorldWatch, I’d like some for Friday night! That report is no longer available on the WorldWatch site. (Links go to a dead page. A reader sent me this one.) It’s not hard to figure out why.

The original story emphasizing the GHG contribution of livestock came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO published a study authored by Henning Steinfeld in 2006, which claimed that livestock produced 18% of global GHG and concluded that livestock was producing more GHG than the entire transportation sector. Although it is a mystery how WorldWatch inflated that to 51% three years later, the claim in the FAO study was eye-catching. Apparently, many eyes caught it, and then they read WorldWatch, too.

But there was a slight problem. . . 

Ravensdown secures co-funding to eliminate coal from aglime process :

Ravensdown announces today that it has achieved government co-funding to accompany the co-operative’s investment to install a biomass combustor at its Dipton lime quarry. Locally supplied wood fuel will replace coal in the lime-drying process – an important part of preparing the naturally occurring soil conditioner for use by Southland farmers and growers.

The co-operative’s commitment is being matched by funding through the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund. The funding agreement with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) commits Ravensdown to savings of at least 1,107 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum, reducing Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint by almost 10%.

According to EECA, process heat accounts for over a quarter of New Zealand’s energy-related emissions, presenting a huge opportunity for businesses to take a lead in climate change mitigation. The GIDI Fund is part of the government’s Covid Response and Recovery Fund, established to drive economic stimulus and job creation through decarbonisation projects. . . 


Rural round-up

19/03/2022

‘Russian soldiers took over my farm’: the battle for food supplies in Ukraine – Tom Levitt, Chris McCullough:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the farming industry, raising fears of disruption to domestic and international food supplies. The Guardian has spoken to three farmers about what life is like on the ground, with the Russian army hiding tanks in barns and stocks of potatoes expected to deplete within weeks.

Andrii Pastushenko, 39, is a dairy farmer who lives 12 miles from Kherson in the south of Ukraine, a city that has been under control of the Russian military.

On Monday, 10 Russian soldiers came to set up a base on the farm, leaving their tanks in barns, and more soldiers arrived later. But after overnight shelling by Ukraine’s military at Kherson airport, the Russian troops left on Wednesday morning.

“They quickly packed up this morning, taking two cars and food from the farm and saying they were ‘nationalising’ them,” he said, adding that they did not pay for either but said: “See you soon.” . . 

Smart tags help farmers to track cows’ health remotely :

A pair of Massey University students have developed game-changing technology that helps dairy farmers monitor their cow health remotely.

Engineering and PhD students Tyrel Glass and Baden Parr’s have set up an agri-tech start-up company called Protag, which has now raised $1m from investors.

This funding will be used to fast-track the development of their company’s smart ear tag sensors, which transmit crucial health and location data to dairy farmers within seconds. Protag’s small, internet-enabled device clips onto a cow’s ear. This allows farmers to continuously monitor the animal’s health, grazing and breeding habits.

Machine learning is used to process data from the device’s temperature, movement and location sensors. This helps farmers map animal behavioural patterns and detect the early onset of illnesses in real time. . . 

Tough times forge fighting spirit for Northland Dairy Industry Award winners :

The 2022 Northland Share Farmers of the Year identify their cows as their biggest asset and say looking after them in the best possible way is their greatest motivation.

Antje and Soenke Paarmann were named winners of the 2022 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands in Waitangi on Wednesday night.  The other major winners were the 2022 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Phillip Payton, and the 2022 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Macee Latimer.  

The third-time entrants believe the benefits from the Awards programme include making smart goals, forward-planning and using the judges’ feedback to improve weaknesses.  

“It is beneficial to sit down and work on your business instead of in your business.” . . 

David MacLeod appointed chair of Predator Free :

Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050) has welcomed the Minister of Conservation’s appointment of David MacLeod as its Board chair until 30 November 2025.

Mr MacLeod was appointed to the PF2050 Board in November 2016 and has been acting chair since the departure of inaugural chair Jane Taylor from the role in March 2021.

In addition to his role with PF2050, Mr MacLeod is chair of Taranaki Regional Council. He has iwi connections to Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāi Tahu, and Ngāti Porou.

“We have made some major strides since PF2050 was created from scratch five years ago and I’m honoured and excited to help lead the next phase of our mission,” Mr MacLeod said. . . 

Fruitful partnership nets bumper crop of Axis Awards for Rockit and Special:

Sometimes it pays for the apple to fall a really long way from the tree.

Doing things differently and continuing to disrupt the commodity apple category has seen the team at snack sized apple company Rockit nab nine gongs at the Commercial Communication Council’s 2022 Axis Awards, including one gold.

The awards, which celebrate the enormous breadth of talent within the New Zealand advertising industry, were held virtually yesterday afternoon, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Rockit™ Apple took gold in the coveted Design 360 category – which recognises a brand’s success across all its touchpoints – along with five silvers and three bronze awards in both the Craft and the Magazine and Newspaper categories. The accolades come 12 months after the innovative apple company partnered with agency Special to tell the story of its delicious, nutritious miniature apples. . . .

Diversified grazing and cropping bock with value high horticulture placed on the market for sale :

A block of productive rural land transitioning from traditional livestock grazing and feed production activities into more lucrative avocado orcharding has been placed on the market for sale.

The property at Maungatapere just west of Whangarei comprises some 47-hectares of long-standing grazing and cropping paddocks, alongside a burgeoning eight-hectare avocado orchard planted last year. The property predominately consists of volcanic soils with some clay loam, and flat to gentle sloping contour.

Farm records show the property has sustained between 100-130 cattle over winter, and between 50-70 cattle during summer. Concurrently, the farm has produced approximately 300 bales of baleage annually, along with 20-hectares of maize which has been grown on lease for approximately $1,000 per hectare. Annual ryegrass is sown in Autumn following the maize harvest for winter and spring grazing. . .

 


Rural round-up

10/02/2022

Covid-19: Some farmers with Covid-19 may be allowed to keep working – Minister :

Farmers who test positive for Covid-19 may be able to continue working if they’re vaccinated and not in contact with others, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The government is giving $400,000 to rural support trusts and other agencies to help farmers and growers prepare a contingency plan as Omicron reaches further into the community.

It is urging farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners to have a plan for who will help run their farm or feed livestock at short notice in the event they test positive for Covid-19.

People who test positive are required to self-isolate for at least 14 days and be symptom-free for 72 hours. . . 

Country of origin labelling soon to be mandatory for fresh and thawed foods:

New regulations taking effect this weekend will give consumers more information about where their food comes from.

From 12 February 2022, businesses must comply with the new Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations that apply to certain fresh and thawed foods: fruit, vegetables, finfish, shellfish, and cured pork such as ham, bacon, and prosciutto. If these foods are frozen, they must state the country of origin from 12 May 2023.

“Mandatory country of origin information will let consumers know where certain food comes from, and help them make informed decisions when they are buying these products,” said General Manager Fair Trading Vanessa Horne.

Foods covered by the Regulations will need to state the country of origin on the packaging or on a sign nearby. . . 

Tribunal win for Gisborne kiwifruit growers – Matthew Rosenberg,:

Kiwifruit growers have won their battle against Gisborne District Council over new rate hikes from producing the golden variety of the fruit.:

In December 2020, authorities in Gisborne decided licences to grow gold kiwifruit – which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare – constitute an increase in value to the land, warranting a rates increase.

Gisborne was the first region to adjust land valuation for growers of the golden variety based on the value of the growing licence.

But the decision received backlash from the industry, with NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) bringing a judicial review proceeding to the High Court, supporting an objection grower Tim Tietjen had before the Land Valuation Tribunal. . . 

How Comvita went form two to 200 staff in China – Nikki Mandow:

Our biggest mānuka honey company has had a presence in China for almost 20 years. Its experience offers a fascinating insight into selling health and food products in this vast, varied, and rapidly-changing market.  |  Content partnership

In the late 1990s, a health-conscious Chinese businessman called Zhu Guangping was on holiday in Hong Kong and browsing through a pharmacy when he discovered a New Zealand bee product brand he liked.

Comvita was finding a growing clientele among Chinese tourists who bought their mānuka honey, propolis and other bee products in Hong Kong and later, as China’s outgoing travel restrictions relaxed, in New Zealand.

They bought for themselves, for family and friends, even to sell when they got home – an early manifestation of what would become the multi-billion dollar ‘daigou’ personal shopper revolution. . .

FMG Young Farmer finals set to kick off under red light :

Excitement is building for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series Regional Finals, kicking off this Saturday in Waimumu.

The Otago Southland Contest Series Regional Final is going ahead under the red light Covid Protection Framework with a 100-person limit and My Vaccine Pass requirements.

New Zealand Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says it’s exciting to be able to continue to host events with clear Government guidelines in place.

“Over the last two years the Contest Series has been seriously impacted by COVID, but our teams have done an amazing job of pivoting with different alert levels, restrictions and all the different scenarios that have arisen,” she said. . .

Where are the milk buyers? ask dairy farmers of Ganderbal in Kashmir – Mubashir Naikrshad Hussain:

On learning that hundreds of litres of milk were not being bought by dealers in Kashmir’s Srinagar City, the dairy farmers in Ganderbal district emptied their cans of milk in drains, as a mark of protest, on Saturday, 31 January.

The dairy farmers of Lar area in the Ganderbal district are worried about losing their decade-old job, on which their entire livelihood is dependent.

My friend and I travelled to Lar in Ganderbal district and spoke to the people involved in the business.

Zamrooda Banu, 34, a dairy farmer from Repora in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district sold her gold bangles and other belongings to buy 20 cows. She hoped it would help her family. . . 


Rural round-up

14/01/2022

Incentives working but more people needed for Otago summerfruit harvest :

Summerfruit growers in Otago are experiencing severe staff shortages, due to the ongoing impact of border closures and low unemployment in New Zealand.

‘We know it is tough for growers at the moment. Last season, they had the weather. This season, it is the severe labour shortage,’ says Summerfruit New Zealand Chief Executive, Kate Hellstrom.

‘Summerfruit New Zealand is working with other horticulture product groups and government departments to attract and retain as many seasonal workers as possible. However, due to Covid and its impact on New Zealand’s borders, it’s tough.

‘We ask that where possible, growers club together to make best use of available labour. But in saying that, we know that fruit will go to waste, which will affect profitability and morale, as some growers only have about half the staff they’ve had in previous seasons.’ . . 

More dairy industry workers needed ‘for farmers’ mental health’ – Gerhard Uys:

The dairy industry is calling for another 1500 international dairy workers to be let into New Zealand for the 2022 dairy season, with concerns that staff shortages are affecting farmer well-being.

Dairy NZ said recent labour surveys indicated that the dairy sector was short of 2000 to 4000 workers, the statement said.

New Zealand has its lowest unemployment rate since 2007, at 3.4 per cent. A low unemployment rate and closed borders meant massive labour shortage on farms, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for farm performance Nick Robinson said.

Matt Zanderop, a dairy farmer in Waikato, said he had recently advertised for a local part-time position on his farm but that no one applied because there were no locals workers available to fill such posts. . . 

Environmental compliance still high in Southland – Sudesh Kissun:

Southland farmers are being praised for maintaining high environmental compliance during the 2020-21 monitoring year.

The 2020-21 compliance monitoring report, presented this month to Environment Southland summarised compliance monitoring, enforcement and technical teams’ activities.

Environment Southland general manager integrated catchment management Paul Hulse said that once again Covid restrictions led to significant disruption of the inspection programme, and therefore, inspection numbers.

“It has been another challenging year, however, the compliance team has managed the programme extremely well.” . .

Just how viable is the Tarras airport plan? – Jill Herron:

Jill Herron looks at the road ahead for the mysterious and seemingly unwanted airport in Tarras

Lifestyle blocks are continuing to sell around the site of a proposed international airport at Tarras, with newcomers arriving into a community impatient for clarity on the project.

Construction of this considerable chunk of infrastructure could begin in six years’ time, according to its proposers, Christchurch International Airport Ltd.

A three-year consenting process is due to start in 2024 for the jet-capable facility with a 2.2km runway, coinciding with sustainability and community consultation policies tightening across all levels of government. . . 

Landing at Minaret Station Alpine Lodge – Sue Wallace,:

You can escape the real world at Minaret Station, writes Sue Wallace

It’s simply breathtaking skimming over snow-dusted mountains, emerald green valleys and spotting tumbling waterfalls and meandering streams on the way to the South Island’s luxury Minaret Station Alpine Lodge.

The lodge fits snugly on the western side of Lake Wānaka between Minaret Burn in the south and the Albert Burn in the north.

Head swivelling is in full force on the 30-minute helicopter hop from Queenstown Airport to the remote highland retreat among some of the world’s best scenery. You just don’t want to miss anything. . . 

Propaganda films disguised as documentaries continue to take aim at agriculture – Jonathan Lawler:

At every turn, there is a new food/farm documentary coming out with sensationalist titles like GMO OMG and Cowspiracy. Thanks to the popularity of streaming sites like Netflix and the deep pockets of some interest groups, it has become easier than ever to get such a movie made. And that would be fine if there was any value and truth to what they show. These “documentaries” are too often light on substance and tap into very little — if any — reality about modern agriculture. And, as a farmer who is doing my best to build a sustainable and thriving operation, it’s crushing to see these kinds of depictions get so much buzz in popular culture.

Not long ago, I spoke to a teacher who had recently shown Food, Inc. to her class, and she asked me my opinion of Cowspiracy. I told her it was equivalent to what I shovel out of the cattle pens. I reminded her the purpose of a documentary is to document real-world experience, and even though most will be somewhat biased through the eyes of the filmmaker, these food and ag docs are most often marketed as the definitive answer on a particular subject matter (such as biotech, nutrition, or soil).

Consider a National Geographic documentary on crocodiles, for example. You don’t walk away saying, “Those crocodiles are evil and greedy; why do they kill so many buffalo and why do they trick them by pretending to be logs?” Of course you don’t, because the documentary director is just … well … documenting. . . .

 


Rural round-up

10/12/2021

Feds backs withdrawal from governments archaic pay agreement laws :

Federated Farmers supports Business New Zealand’s decision to opt out of the government’s plans for it to be a partner in implementing so-called ‘Fair Pay’ agreements.

Federated Farmers has already indicated it will not function as a mediator for the government’s flawed pay negotiation scheme.

It fully supports Business New Zealand’s decision.
“We support them and for the same reasons they outline we will also refuse to be a negotiating partner for agricultural employers.

“We call on other agricultural organizations to take a similar stance,” employment spokesperson and national board member Chris Lewis says. . .

Fonterra’s Flexible Shareholding structure gets green light from farmers :

Fonterra shareholders have today given the Co-operative’s new capital structure proposal the green light with 85.16% of the total farmer votes in support of the proposal.

The final votes on the capital structure proposal were cast at a Special Meeting in Invercargill early this afternoon.

Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

“Today our farmers have agreed. We have received a strong mandate for change with 85.16% of votes cast in favour of the proposal and 82.65% of eligible votes being cast, , 

Rural schools cry out for mental health support – Matthew Scott:

Without proper access to mental health services for students, teachers in rural schools are left putting out fires

On paper, it was a dream job.

Sarah* had taught at an urban intermediate school for six years before packing up and moving to the country.

Her new school in rural Manawatu meant teaching a class of 18 students rather than her old class of 31. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports increase by 27 percent:

The value of New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $693 million during October, a 27 per cent increase year-on-year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat was a standout performer with the value increasing by 25 per cent to $309m. The major sheepmeat markets by value were China, up 25 per cent to $131m, the United States, up 54 per cent to $46m, and the Netherlands, up 94 per cent to $29m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said a mixture of supply constraints and good demand in key markets had contributed to the high sheepmeat prices. These factors included Brexit-related issues and Australia rebuilding its sheep flock.

“The average Free on Board* (FOB) value for sheepmeat exports for the quarter was $12.52/kg,” said Ms Karapeeva. . .

Forest Owners say Fish and Game barking up wrong tree :

The Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality.

“Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says Phil Taylor, the FOA President.

“It is true that forests moderate rainfall entering waterways – which reduces the risk of floods. But that also applies to native trees – which Fish and Game wants a lot more of – as well as to exotics – which Fish and Game wants less of.”

“The same applies to water quality. Water emerging out of forests is cleaner than that flowing off farmland – irrespective of the type of forest or type of farmland,” Phil Taylor says. . .

Te Mata Exports acquire rights to Bay Queen™ Apple:

New Zealand produce exporter, Te Mata Exports Limited, has acquired the exclusive rights to a new early season apple variety.

Developed by Hawke’s Bay growing operation, Bayley Produce, the Bay Queen™ is New Zealand’s earliest export apple variety. Bay Queen™ has a vibrant bright full block red colour with crisp flesh and it’s smooth, sweet balance makes it broadly appealing.

Te Mata Exports and Bayley Produce have enjoyed a close working relationship for 10 years, originally partnering to manage the global sale and distribution of apples and summerfruit, and more recently working together to trial and commercialise the Bay Queen™.

The exclusive rights will see Te Mata Exports manage all tree distribution, planting, exporting and marketing. . . .


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