Rural round-up

24/06/2021

Carbon farmers bought swathes of NZ promising to create native forests — but researchers doubt it will work – Eloise Gibson:

A carbon farming business has bought swathes of the country and planted it in pine trees, promising it would one day regenerate into native forest – but researchers who’ve studied the concept doubt it will work.

New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF) has quickly grown to be one of the country’s biggest landowners, with more than 89,000 hectares either owned or leased. NZCF says it is the biggest provider of carbon credits in Australasia, and the biggest participant in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The business model is to find farmland with remnants of native forest nearby to act as a seed stock, then plant pine, which grows quickly and supplies a stream of income from carbon credits. The company says it selects sites with enough rain and decent soil, and that it will thin the pine and control pests, such as deer and possums, to enable indigenous forest to grow underneath (and eventually take over).

But two forestry scientists who helped pioneer the pine-to-native forest concept in New Zealand question whether native regeneration will happen on the scale the business is attempting. . .

DoC’s Mackenzie project dubbed a disaster – David Williams:

A $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project abandoned its business case, lacked oversight, and achieved little. David Williams reports

A drive for greater protection in the fragile South Island high country turned into a “complete disaster”, according to a review ordered by Department of Conservation senior managers.

The external review report, released to Newsroom under the Official Information Act, says the $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project announced in the 2018 Budget had “no formal governance”, the partnerships section of DoC running it did not have “formal project management skills”, and external partners and stakeholders were “disillusioned and have heavily criticised the project”.

Some external parties, such as private landowners, hadn’t been contacted for nearly two years. Relationships with mana whenua were described as strained “at best” . .

Minister not plugged into community signal struggles:

It is unacceptable that a town just 10 minutes from Greymouth has such poor digital connectivity that they are not able to even receive Civil Defence warnings, National’s Digital Economy and Communications spokesperson Melissa Lee says.

Ms Lee has been advocating for rural communities which are being left behind by a lack of digital and communications infrastructure.

Dunollie is a small town on the West Coast and in March, Melissa Lee, along with National List MP based in West Coast-Tasman Maureen Pugh, visited its frustrated residents. Despite having a cell tower on the beach to enable tourists to stay connected, a hill between the beach and the township prevents the locals from accessing the signal. . . 

New Zealand pig farmers demand imported pork measure up to NZ’s animal welfare standard – Lauren Hale:

New Zealand pig farmers are supporting a petition calling for imported pork to be required to meet the same animal welfare standards as New Zealand pork.

Approximately 60 per cent of pork consumed in New Zealand is imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country.

“New Zealand’s pork sector operates to high welfare standards compared to many other countries who have less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes,” says David Baines, chief executive of NZPork, which represents New Zealand pig farmers.

“Our commercial pig herd also has a high health status and is not affected by the diseases that are having a very serious impact on pork industries in many other countries.

Homegrown Butcher named Supreme Champion at 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Dion Kilminster produces top-quality beef and lamb — but the road to success constantly challenges him.

It was by chance that farmer-butcher Dion Kilmister met marketer Ali Scott in a Wellington pub on St Patrick’s Day nine years ago. But together, they’ve overcome the odds in more ways than one.

This year, their mixed box of gourmet beef and lamb took the Supreme Champion gong at the 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producers Awards. “Pure beefiness,” commented one of the judges of the pack, which includes many different cuts of meat as well as gourmet sausages.

In 2018’s honours (see NZ Life & Leisure, May/June 2018), Dion and Ali’s Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion award for its lamb. . . 

Invest Like a Farmer: the surprising similarities between how farmers and venture capitalists think – Sarah Nolet:

As a venture capitalist working in agriculture, I’m constantly surprised by the similarities between how farmers and investors think.

I came to agriculture in a roundabout way. I grew up in Silicon Valley and moved to Boston to study computer science and later work in the defense industry. It was during an accidental gap year in South America, where I was pulling weeds on an organic tomato farm in Argentina, that I first saw the potential to apply my systems background to agriculture.

I realized that much of the technology that was being developed was missing the mark because the people making it — while they were accomplished technologists — didn’t understand the culture, science, or business of farming. That’s when I began to develop my own investment thesis for agtech.

Agriculture has historically been a very different world to the heavily urban-focused startup and technology ecosystem. But though the lines between these two worlds are blurring, there’s still a huge gap between the two; not just in technology application, but also in language, culture and trust. . . .


Rural round-up

18/06/2021

Calls for MP acknowledgement of farmers :

The co-owner of a major farm machinery business wants more rural sector acknowledgement from MPs.

A record number of Labour MPs will be at Fieldays 2021.

Power Farming’s Brett Maber says farmers often get a bad rap – but they’ve had a good season, especially given the past year. . .

Feds applauds UK-Australia free trade deal:

News that Australia and the UK have signed a free trade agreement is a promising step forward in the fight against tariffs and protectionism, Federated Farmers says.

“It reinforces the international rules-based trading framework and is important for rural producers and global consumers,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard says.

The FTA is the first to be signed by the UK since it left the European Union. . .

Education resource highlights NZ dairy and red meat’s role in feeding global population:

A new climate change education resource has been released by New Zealand’s pastoral farming sector.

The resource, ‘The important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population’, has been co-authored by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

It explores the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system. Written in a straight-forward and science-based style, it will provide secondary school students, in particular, with balanced information.

As a producer of food for around 10 times its own population, New Zealand has a unique emissions profile and consequently has a unique challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Utes big ticket items at Fieldays

Thousands of farmers flocked to the first day of Fieldays today, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of Covid-19, so expectations were high for the more than 1000 exhibitors who were back to put their wares on display.

The last time the event was held at Mystery Creek, near Kirikiriroa-Hamilton in 2019, it generated $500 million in sales for New Zealand businesses.

Some of the big ticket items are utes and, with the recent EV policy announcement, farmers are expecting to soon pay fees when they buy fossil fuel vehicles for their farms. . . 

Primary industries outlook predicts export rebound after 1.1% fall :

The food and fibre sector is expecting a 1.1 percent drop in export revenue due to covid related issues, but is expected to bounce back.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ outlook for primary industries (SOPI) report was released at Fieldays this morning.

Exports amounted to over $47 billion and the forecast for the year ending June 2022 was for exports to reach a record $49.1 billion – a 3.4 percent increase on the year just ending.

Sustained growth is forecast year on year, hitting a further record of $53.1 billion for the year to June 202-5. . . 

Vodafone and Farmside supporting rural New Zealanders with new connectivity options:

As Fieldays gets started, Vodafone is proud to offer rural Aotearoa new connectivity options including trialling a RBI2 Unlimited Broadband service for people who live in the second Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) area.

This comes as Vodafone ramps up network investments to expand its regional coverage footprint around Aotearoa, and as part of the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to build more cell towers in rural New Zealand under the RBI2 program.

This three-month RBI2 Unlimited Broadband trial sees Farmside, Vodafone’s rural broadband specialist, offer unlimited wireless broadband* for $79.99 a month to households within the geographical RBI2 area, with the trial also open to wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as part of Vodafone’s wholesale agreements. . . 


Rural round-up

14/10/2020

Dairy farmers rise to sustainability challenge :

The stories of Kiwi farmers leading the world in sustainable farming are being shared as part of DairyNZ’s Rise and Shine campaign launched this week.

“New Zealand dairy has a great story to tell and we are seeing that realised through public sentiment, with 73% of people recently surveyed being favourable toward dairy farmers,” says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“This is tremendous recognition for farmers playing a key role right now – dually supporting our economic recovery post-Covid while shifting how their day-to-day business operates to further deliver for environment, animals and people.”  . .

Farmers contribute to fundraiser for charity hospital – Jamie Searle:

An organiser believes up to 1000 bales of wool could be donated for the #Bales4Blair fundraiser.

Sarah Dooley said farmers in Southland and further north were getting behind the fundraiser, which is focused on providing wool insulation and carpet for the planned Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill.

The fundraiser is named after the late Blair Vining who, along with his wife Melissa, campaigned to get better care for cancer patients. The campaign continues, and Melissa and supporters are eagerly awaiting construction of the hospital, starting in February.

Dooley, of Mimihau, and fellow farmers, Amy Blaikie, of Slopedown, and Brooke Cameron, of Mokoreta, launched the fundraiser a week ago. . . 

On a mission to destroy wilding pines :

The Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust is leading the way in New Zealand in the battle against wilding pines which are not only threatening biodiversity but helping to create tinder box conditions in parts of the country.

Country Life spoke to the chair of the trust, Dr John Hellstrom, about efforts to tackle the problem.

The skeletons of dead and dying pine trees stand above the native bush of Endeavour Inlet like sickly sentinels.

Their branches are dropping off and their trunks are white, in marked contrast to the lush green growth below. . . 

Sheep milking doubles income in Waikato – Gerald Piddock:

New sheep milking conversions in Waikato are delivering twice the per hectare income that the farmers used to earn from cows.

General manager of operations Peter Gatley says the new farms supplying Maui Milk this season are making around $14,000 a hectare, compared to $7000/ha a cow milking farm would typically earn.

“Income per hectare is a simple function of stocking rate, yield and payout,” he said.

“A ratio of six ewes per cow gives us about 17 ewes per hectare on Waikato dairy country. Our payout is $17 per kg of total solids, or about $3 per litre. Therefore, an average yield per ewe of 275 litres will deliver $14,000.” . . 

Too much time spent on chasing interest groups down wombat holes, beef producers told – Shan Goodwin:

HOW much the opinions of agenda groups working to shut down animal production actually count was a key topic put under the microscope at a beef industry event in Rockhampton this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef was run live at the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange as part of Brahman Week proceedings, as well as being live streamed.

A question on the best way to combat falsehoods about beef production and the environment brought passionate responses from the four well known northern producers who headlined the event.

Bryce Camm, who oversees his family’s integrated beef and cropping enterprise with interests across Queensland and is the current chairman of Beef Australia, along with being president of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, questioned how much money, and time and energy, the industry had spent “chasing every interest group down every wombat hole trying to appease them.” . .

Courgette prices fall back to earth:

Courgette prices were down 58 percent in September 2020 as the growing season resumed and more local produce arrived back on the shelves, Stats NZ said today.

Courgettes dropped to a weighted average price of $12.36 per kilo in the month, after reaching an all-time high of $29.60 in July during a trade ban from Queensland due to a crop virus. See Vegetable prices continue to grow for more information.

“The increase in domestic supply has filled the gap left by a shortage of imported courgettes during the winter,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said. . .


Rural round-up

01/04/2020

Hope from the high country – Philip Todhunter:

Covid-19? It’s like opening your front door and finding two metres of snow on the ground just after you’d put all your new fencing in.

The fences have been wrecked. You look at the damage, you shake your head, and then you get on with managing your way through it.

In the back of your mind, you know that spring will come, the tonnes of snow will melt, and the grass will grow again.

Farmers are an optimistic bunch. We’re used to things going in cycles: weather patterns, commodity prices, market demand … but we also know that sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn the whole way round, sometimes the change is permanent. . . 

Coronavirus: can the economy recover – Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor:

The economic ride down is likely to be sharp and steep. But when consumers eventually emerge from lockdown, what will the recovery look like? Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor investigate.

Weighing sheep in a yard in the brown foothills of North Canterbury’s Hundalee Hills, Ben Ensor is an unlikely soldier on the frontline of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the country prepared to shut down, to stop the spread of coronavirus, the sheep and beef farmer was separating merino stock under the shadow of rustic woolshed. Hooves beat up clouds of dust, as his farm dog herded them into a race.

With 6000 sheep, and around 500 cattle, Ensor can’t close down. Like nurses, doctors, pharmacists and supermarket staff, farming and cropping have been deemed “essential“. . .

Kiwifruit taste test goes south :

Kiwifruit growers will not be paid for their fruit’s taste profile this season after the country’s only testing facility dropped the test.

Eurofins Bay of Plenty is the country’s only testing facility for the drymatter component of kiwifruit, which gives growers and Zespri a direct indication of the fruit’s taste profile.  

The lab now tests only for residues in fruit, leaving post-harvest processors grappling with how to evaluate fruit quality. . .

Keep calm, carry on – Colin Williscroft:

The Government is well aware of farming’s importance and is doing everything it can to ensure the primary sector continues to operate as close to normal as possible, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

“Farming has been the backbone of New Zealand and that will that continue long into the future,” O’Connor says.

Cabinet understands the role farming plays in the economy, along with the need to maintain farming systems subject to seasonal and biological cycles, including the lifecycle of animals and grass growth, restrictions other businesses around the country are not subject to. . .

Meat industry in better shape today to cope with downturn – Allan Barber:

When I started to trawl through possible topics to write about this week, I had the bright idea it might be worth asking meat processors what contingency plans they have in place in case an employee, more particularly one on the processing floor, tests positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. So far my research suggests it’s not yet an issue that has received a great deal of consideration by many companies, although it’s certainly on their radar.

In an update to farmers, Silver Fern Farms states its position as “The reality is that an outbreak, or the understandable precautionary response of our people, is likely to see an impact on our processing capacity in coming weeks. It is realistic to expect that with a workforce of 7000 we will at least have precautionary isolation within our workforce. We have processes in place to ensure that, should this occur, it can be managed. We are working on the various contingent options and will keep you updated should there be any disruption to processing.” . . 

Coronavirus: George Eustice applauds farmers as ‘hidden heroes’ :

Defra Secretary George Eustice has labelled farmers ‘hidden heroes’ for keeping food on the nation’s plates during the Covid-19 crisis.

In an open letter to the food and farming industry, Mr Eustice paid tribute to ‘all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed.’

The statement described farmers’ response so far as ‘extraordinary’ and thanked those involved in food production on behalf of the country.

“In the face of what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime, I want to pay tribute to all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed,” he said. . .  

 


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