Rural round-up

October 14, 2017

Don’t let the blowtorch burn you:

The recent political blowtorch on farming is affecting the morale of younger farmers, says Ngatea farmer Mark Townshend.

But dairy farmers should feel “very proud’ of their achievements, he says.

A notion is gaining ground that some younger dairy farmers do not now feel proud to be dairy farmers in mixed company, Townshend says.

“This is against the backdrop of an election process where political parties on the left used farmers, in particular dairy farmers, as political footballs. . . 

Laser throws light on emissions – Richard Rennie:

As farmers and researchers grapple with nitrate losses into waterways and nitrous oxide to the air, half the challenge has been how best to measure them to even begin to better understand their behaviour. Richard Rennie spoke to scientist Louis Schipper.

A quantum cascade laser sounds like something from Dr Who and like his police box popping up in odd places, one has appeared in a Waikato paddock.

It’s got Waikato University biogeochemistry Professor Louis Schipper excited.

He is co-lead in the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre’s research programme into nitrous oxide. . .

Tatua targets growth in value-added business:

Waikato milk processor Tatua will use retentions to grow its cream and protein based value-added products, says chief executive Brendhan Greaney.

He says Tatua will be making more specialty nutritional products for key markets China, Japan and the US.

The co-op has announced a final payout of $7.10/kgMS to farmer shareholders for the 2016-17 season; it has retained 50c/kgMS to help fund capital projects and maintain a strong balance sheet. . . 

Ballance Farm Environment Awards positive experience for Otago finalist:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a positive experience from start to finish for Otago finalist Simon Paterson.

Simon, his wife Sarah and parents Allan and Eris from the Armidale Merino Stud in the Maniototo were finalists in this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and won the WaterForce Integrated Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award. . . 

Carrfields’ Just Shorn rugs reach artwork status in the US:

American interior designers have elevated humble New Zealand wool to artwork status in a recent rug design competition in San Francisco.

Carlisle, which distributes Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool)’s range of premium New Zealand wool carpets and rugs in North America under the Just Shorn® brand, invited designers from the California Bay Area to submit their designs for rugs that could be crafted from 100% Just Shorn® New Zealand wool.

Colin McKenzie, CP Wool Group CEO, said the results were “stunning”. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Jeremy Rookes – Claire Inkson:

Proud to Be A Farmer NZ Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Hawkes Bay Proud Farmer Jeremy Rookes. You can catch Jeremy on The Country talking Farming with Jamie Mackay between 12-1pm every second Friday on Radio Sport Newstalk ZB , also on I Heart Radio.

How long have you been Farming?

I am a City Boy originally, but I have been farming on my own account since 1992. I finished a B.Com at Lincoln in June 1992, but started leasing a block in Waikari earlier that year. In 1998 my wife Mary and I bought a small farm at Waipara and added to that before selling it in 2013, we then bought 467ha here in the Hawke’s Bay at Flemington which is 20km South East of Waipukurau. . .

 

French sheep farmers protest against protection of wolves:

LYON, France (Reuters) – Farmers trucked hundreds of sheep into a central square in the French city of Lyon on Monday in protest against the government’s protection of wolves, which they blame for livestock deaths and heavy financial losses.

European wolves were hunted to extinction in France in the 1930s but a pair crossed the Alps from Italy in the early 1990s and they now number about 360 in packs scattered across the country, according to wildlife groups.

As their population has rebounded, they have encroached increasingly on farmland.

“10,000 animals killed every year by the wolf,” read one banner. . .

Fonterra’s farmers to vote on four directors after process to address ‘skills matrix – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group shareholders will vote on four new directors – one-third of the board – after the dairy company’s exhaustive new selection process that rates candidates against a ‘skills matrix’.

Shareholders will be asked to ratify the appointment of Bruce Hassall as an independent director at the company’s annual meeting in Hawera on Nov. 2. He replaces David Jackson, one of the four independents on the 13-member board (one seat is vacant), who retires at the AGM. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2017

Man who coined Gypsy Day says controversy ‘ridiculous’:

Former Northland rural report broadcaster Goldie Wardell is amused, but slightly miffed, that a term he introduced to New Zealand’s farming lexicon is now being called derogatory, and is banned in some circles.

It’s Gypsy Day. There, we’ve said it (while we still can).

“I’ve come in to confess,” Mr Wardell announced not too penitently. “I started the expression.”

Mr Wardell’s voice sounds familiar as he relates the story of how, back in the 1980s, he coined the phrase Gypsy Day for June 1, the traditional day sharemilkers pack up their cows and households and move to a new farm. . . 

Primary Sector Science Roadmap launched:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith have tonight launched the Primary Sector Science Roadmap at the National Fieldays.

Mr Guy says science will be a key driver in lifting overall primary sector exports to the target of $64 billion by 2025.

“From climate change, to changing consumer preferences, to a greater emphasis on issues like traceability and provenance, science and technology have an important role to play in ensuring our primary industries remain globally competitive,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Smaller New Zealand wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said
Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets
wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however,
export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was
very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . . 

More success for Patersons – Sally Rae:

The Paterson family, from Gimmerburn, have added to their considerable farming successes by winning the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

The awards night for the competition, which was in its 21st year, was held in Cromwell on Thursday.The family won both the fine wool and crossbreed categories and the overall title went to their crossbreed flock.

Father and son Allan and Simon Paterson, with their respective wives, Eris and Sarah, are the fourth and fifth generations to farm Armidale, which has been in the family since the 1880s. . . 

Positive steps towards tackling stock theft:

Federated Farmers is delighted to see the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill being drawn from the ballot to go before Parliament.

Livestock theft is not only a financial burden to farming businesses but also a risk to people’s safety. Farmers are often alone when confronting stock thieves.

“It’s frightening when you are faced with someone in a remote rural area who is most likely armed. The successful passing of this bill would show the victims of livestock rustling that the justice system is prepared to take these crimes seriously,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers’ Rural Security Spokesperson. . . 

More farmers seeking information on how to comply with water quality rules:

More Otago farmers are looking for information and advice on how to minimise their operation’s impact on water quality and comply with rules in the Otago Water Plan.

That’s one of the key findings of the Otago Regional Council’s annual survey to monitor the level of understanding and uptake among farmers about meeting their responsibilities under the Water Plan. . . 

Ravensdown Joins Agrigate Online Platform:

The Agrigate team has added another heavyweight data partner to the online tool, signing an agreement with agri-nutrient provider Ravensdown.

The agreement, signed last week, will see Ravensdown’s pasture and nutrient data added to the array of information that farmers can access using Agrigate.

Ravensdown captures and presents data on soil tests, nutrient status, pasture performance and proof of placement to drive better decisions.  . .

Live calf probiotic a world-first at Fieldays:

In a first for Fieldays, New Zealand company BioBrew is preparing to showcase CalfBrew, a live animal probiotic.

BioBrew will present its innovative product at the Callaghan Innovation Centre at this week’s Fieldays. CalfBrew is the first fresh probiotic containing live, active microbes to treat scouring and support optimal gut health in calves more effectively than current freeze-dried probiotics. As a world-first live probiotic supplement, CalfBrew has also demonstrated increased growth rate in calves. . . 

Wallace Corporation and Farm Brands Announce Merger:

Wallace Corporation Limited and Farm Brands Limited today announced the completion of the merger of their respective coproducts businesses and operations, to create Wallace Group Limited Partnership. The new multi-million dollar entity will also acquire the assets and business of Dunedin rendering business, Keep It Clean Ltd.

The merger of the two multigenerational coproducts businesses aims to optimise its processing capability, including developing higher value finished products, and establish an expanded casualty cow collection service in the South Island. . .  

Dairy sector well placed to take advantage of technology revolution:

Higher dairy payouts have put dairy farmers in a good position to take advantage of new technologies that will redefine farm efficiency in the years ahead, according to ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri, Mark Hiddleston.

“While diary and other commodity markets remain changeable, a higher payout provides an opportunity for our dairy farming customers to pay down some of the debt they’ve built up, and to reinvest in their businesses,” Mr Hiddleston said. . . 


Rural round-up

March 6, 2017

Leading by example – Cheyenne Stein

Like many young girls, Megan Hands dreamt of being a vet. Today she’s a farm environmental auditor at Irrigo Centre helping farmers come to grips with environmental policies.

Megan grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Shannon and it was during the early days of the Horizons One Plan that she revised her career path.

“When I was younger there were some resource management battles going on in Opiki near our farm and my dad started to get involved with that and that’s when I started to take an interest in the resource management side of agriculture.”

How many cows are polluting urban harbours? – Alan Emmerson:

I was really interested to read articles in the Herald on Auckland’s polluted beaches. Well-researched and well-written they showed me a problem of massive proportions. We have our nation’s biggest city’s beaches polluted by sewage every time it rains.

It is not an insignificant problem either as the Herald’s coverage showed. One million cubic metres of wastewater and raw sewage, the equivalent of 400 Olympic swimming pools, pours into Auckland Harbour each year.

The waste comes from 41 points around the city almost every time it rains.

As a farmer, albeit semi-retired, I found the story fascinating. Every week we read in the paper that Greenpeace, the Greens, Fish and Game or Massey’s Mike Joy are slagging farmers over water quality.

When it comes to our biggest city, however, it seems that councils can pollute with impunity. . . .

Water quality everyone’s goal – Neal Wallace and Richard Rennie:

Manawatu dairy farmer James Stewart believes the goals the Government has set in its latest freshwater standards are aspirational and should engage entire communities, rather than leave the farming sector on its own to solve.

“The goal to make 90% of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers swimmable is a message for us all as New Zealanders to step up and do our bit to achieve that,” he said. . . 

Walking access cut as cattle spooked  – Chris Morris:

Dunedin city councillor Doug Hall is at the centre of a fresh land dispute, after locking the gates on public access to a walking track crossing his farm.

It was confirmed yesterday the council had closed the Cleghorn St track, above St Leonards, and the Campbell St track, near Bethunes Gully, following complaints from the landowner, Cr Hall, last month.

The Cleghorn St track had since been reopened on a ‘‘restricted’’ basis, and walkers had been cautioned to beware of stock, but it appeared the Campbell St track would remain closed for now. . . 

Sleepy Central Otago town of Omakau comes of age – Rhys Chamberlain:

Remember when you could stop at an intersection and not have to wait for traffic to pass? Remember when cheese rolls weren’t fancy? Remember when you could wear stubbies to the pub? 

Omakau still has this. It might be small and slow-moving but all of a sudden people are taking notice.

Seemingly people are looking for a place where the climate is good, their kids are safe, the people are welcoming and which doesn’t have the overinflated housing hype of other Central Otago towns. . . 

Otago student wins Oceania scholarship – Sally Brooker:

Former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil Tara Willans (18) has been awarded the 2017 Oceania Dairy scholarship.

She will receive an annual payment of $3000 for up to three years, plus the opportunity for paid work experience at Oceania’s milk factory near Glenavy during study breaks.

Tara is starting a bachelor of arts and science majoring in politics and environmental management, with a minor in accounting, at the University of Otago.

”We had more applications this year than any other year we have been doing this,” Oceania Dairy general manager Roger Usmar said.

Award finalists announced:

Six finalists have been named in this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The finalists are sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht (Stoneburn), Nelson and Fiona Hancox (West Otago), Graham and Pam Hunter (Tuapeka West), Simon, Sarah, Allan and Eris Paterson (Gimmerburn), Robin and Emma Wightman (Tuapeka West) and dairy farmers Ben and Tanya Davie (Clydevale).


Getting balance right for water

July 4, 2014

National has announced national standards for water quality which balance economic development and environmental sustainability.

The Government has today announced clear, robust national standards for freshwater that will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy say the changes announced today are a critical milestone in the Government’s drive to improve water quality.

“Ensuring an on-going and reliable supply of healthy water is one of the most important environmental and economic issues facing New Zealand today,” Ms Adams says.

“It is critical that we protect and improve the water quality that we all care so much about.”

Mr Guy says the changes balance economic growth with environmental sustainability.

“It’s not an either-or situation – we need both.

This is very important.

We can have, and we need, both economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Primary industries contribute more than 76 per cent of our merchandise exports and largely depend on freshwater, while tourism also relies on the beauty of New Zealand’s water bodies.

“We all want sustainable and profitable primary industries. That will mean changes to some of our farming practices, but I know farmers are up for the challenge.”

Among the changes announced today, is the introduction of national standards for freshwater in New Zealand.

This means, for the first time, New Zealand rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

More than 60 freshwater scientists from public, private and academic sectors across New Zealand have come up with numeric values proposed for the national standards.

“In 2011, the Government required Councils to maintain or improve the water quality in their lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers across their region. If their water quality is already above the national standard it cannot be allowed to deteriorate,” Ms Adams says.

“However, where a water body currently falls below the national standard, councils and communities will need to ensure that the standard is met over sensible and realistic timeframes.”

To help councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, Ms Adams is currently considering applications from regional councils for $1.1m of funding for activities that support regional planning and community participation in freshwater management. Decisions will be announced shortly.

The Government has today also released a high level snapshot of the freshwater reform programme.

Delivering Freshwater Reform provides the history and context for the reforms, outlines why they need to take place and what the desired outcomes are, in an accessible and understandable way.

“Recent freshwater reform documents have had to include sufficient detail for the stakeholders who have a strong level of engagement and acceptance of the reforms,” Ms Adams says.

“This document focuses on providing information to a wide range of New Zealanders who care deeply about water quality and are unlikely to be participating in the more detailed consultation phases.” . . .

Irrigation NZ has welcomed the policy:

. . .  INZ agrees that New Zealand’s fresh water needs nationally consistent, better, more direct and clearer policy to ensure it is sustainably and effectively managed for the benefit of all.

“By having national bottom lines and allowing for regional and local circumstances, the NPS and NOF will prevent situations where unrealistic conditions are set on water quality for irrigation schemes,” says Andrew Curtis, INZ CEO. “Having everyone work off the same page will mean that resource consent processes will be less onerous and less time and money will be wasted reaching acceptable outcomes.”

INZ is pleased that the updated NPS seems to have broadened its measures of water quality and now requires a fuller understanding of issues which impact a body of water before setting limits. “The NPS now suggests that biotic indicators such as the Macro-invertebrate Community Index (MCI), should be included as performance measures – this is a good thing,” says Mr Curtis.

INZ believes that if community freshwater values, as now set out in Appendix 1, are to be realised, attention needs to be paid to an inclusive range of factors such as pest management, habitat restoration, sediment loads, as well as nutrients, to maintain and improve river health.

 “There are many examples around the country which show how habitat restoration alongside stock exclusion and phosphate management have created thriving rivers – despite relatively high nitrate levels – such as the Wakakahi stream in south Canterbury,” says Mr Curtis.

“New Zealanders need to understand maintaining and improving water quality is complex and can be achieved in many different ways – sticking a number on it and regulating everyone to this does not achieve outcomes,” he says.

Additionally, INZ believes that the exceptions provisions may pose a future risk and looks forward to greater clarification.

“Healthy waterways are the responsibility of both urban as well as rural New Zealand, and we must face New Zealand’s water quality challenges as a nation. Farmers are not solely responsible for issues with waterways and should not be picked on to solve these problems on their own.”

INZ is committed to finding a way for New Zealand to develop sustainably managed irrigation schemes within acceptable environmental limits.

“Water is our most valuable renewable resource and we believe that irrigation in New Zealand is essential to protect against climatic variations and to enhance the country’s ability to feed its population and to contribute to feeding the world,” says Mr Curtis.

Fonterra welcomes the framework too:

Fonterra says the Government’s announcement on changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management lays the groundwork for consistent and robust decisions about the management of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Fonterra Acting Group Director Cooperative Affairs, Sarah Paterson, says, “Today’s announcement is an important step towards a nationally consistent approach to managing freshwater. At the same time, it gives communities the tools they need to make decisions about their waterways.”

Ms Paterson says regions across the country have been grappling with the challenge of setting workable environmental limits. Setting national standards for freshwater will provide greater clarity on the science that needs to underpin environmental limits.

“Fonterra and our farmers have been taking part in a collaborative community approach to develop environmental limits. We want these discussions to be based on sound science and economic analysis, and we believe these national standards will help achieve this.”

“We are absolutely committed to lifting environmental performance and improving water quality in New Zealand. Fonterra’s farmers have mapped every waterway and fenced over 23,500km of waterways. Nutrient data has been collected from nearly 4,000 farms to provide information on mitigating the impact of nutrients,” says Ms Paterson.

“We recognise the huge amount of work that has so far gone into preparing these national standards, and we welcome the continuing efforts being made to complete the task.”

Regional councils are supportive of the standards:

The establishment of National Water Standards are being welcomed by the regional sector as bringing valuable guidance to local decision making.

Chair of the regional sector, Fran Wilde, says the standards provide a clear direction from central government while allowing local democracy to do its job.

“All sectors of the community rely on freshwater for one reason or another. Regional councils are responsible for managing the country’s lakes and rivers and, in doing so, must balance the needs of the community.

“New Zealand’s geography alone results in the nature of rivers and lakes being vastly different depending on where in the country you are. Just as the alpine rivers of the south are valued for their aesthetic beauty, so too are the lowland river flats valued for their agricultural productivity.

“As a sector we believe it’s critical for local people to have a say in how their waterways are managed and to what level.”

Ms Wilde says that minimum standards provide a solid foundation to begin conversations with communities about the values they place on a waterway and whether any changes are needed in the way it’s used and looked after.

“Until now, we haven’t had central government direction around how our rivers and lakes should be managed. The establishment of minimum standards provides clear guidance without disregarding the views of the community should they wish to go beyond these standards.”

Ms Wilde says the maintenance of New Zealand’s freshwater relies on a strong partnership with central and regional government and this is evident in the number of restoration initiatives underway around the country.

“Regional councils and our communities are working closely with central government through programmes like A Fresh Start for Freshwater to improve rivers and lakes throughout the country. In many cases government funding is being met with regional funding with over half a billion dollars from taxes, rates and private initiatives going towards cleaning up and protecting our lakes and rivers since 2000.”

These are minimum standards, not a ceiling.

Councils and communities will want better quality in many places and will need to work together to achieve it.

The Minister made this point in question time yesterday:

Hon AMY ADAMS: At the moment, of course, the counterfactual is that there is no requirement for any particular standard for human health. Actually putting in place a minimum requirement that at the very least every fresh water area must be safe for wading and boating is a big step forward. What we have done today is confirm that every council must consider whether it is appropriate to also manage for swimmability. What has to be understood is that each time we move the bar up through that ladder, it brings considerable extra cost on to communities and councils. If the member is campaigning that her party will set the standard there and not leave that choice to local communities, it is welcome to do so, but I look forward to seeing those billions of dollars included in its financial estimates.

Eugenie Sage: Why is the Minister leaving it to regional councils to consider swimmability, and does she not think that it is a national issue and a central government responsibility to ensure that rivers across New Zealand are clean and safe for swimming?

Hon AMY ADAMS: Well, I had always thought that that member was a proponent of local decision-making, but actually we do think it is for communities to decide—above that minimum standard, which is brand new and has never been there before—which areas are to be used for swimming and are to be protected for that, and which are not. We are not going to impose billions of dollars of costs on ratepayers and communities in areas where they do not seek it. What we have put in place is a considerable step forward from what Labour and the Greens were happy to live with, and we are very proud of it.

Eugenie Sage: What does she say to the Otago Regional Council, which said that the bottom line for human health should be contact recreation because such a low standard as secondary contact, where rivers are fit for only wading and boating, is “not consistent with the national identity New Zealand associates with its clean image of its water resources”?

Hon AMY ADAMS: What I would say to the Otago Regional Council is that it is very welcome to set that standard across its water bodies if that is what its community chooses. The difference now is that we have a national expectation of a minimum standard, which has never been there before. That alone is going to impose some costs on communities, but the extent to which they want to go beyond that is up to them. It would be a nonsense to impose costs on water bodies that no one wants to use for swimming or that no one has contemplated for swimming. That is why regional decision-making then becomes important.

Eugenie Sage: Why did the Minister ignore the approximately 90 percent of submitters who wanted the bottom line for human health to be rivers that are clean and safe for swimming?

Hon AMY ADAMS: We have not ignored it. What we have done is made it compulsory now for every council to consider whether swimming is the appropriate standard for that water body. That was not in the draft, and the reason we have done that is that we understand the cost impact that goes with that. As I have said, if those members want to include the billions of dollars of impact from putting that standard in, I look forward to seeing that in their alternative budgets.

Eugenie Sage: Does the Minister still claim that no river quality is allowed to deteriorate, when the Freshwater Sciences Society said that the proposed limits on nitrate in her proposals last November have the potential for “New Zealand’s rivers to become some of the most nitrogen-polluted amongst OECD countries whilst still remaining compliant” and her announcements today have not changed the nitrate limit?

Hon AMY ADAMS: I do not accept that, because, as that member well knows, there is already a requirement for water quality in a region to be maintained or improved. There is no ability—and nor do I imagine there is any desire—for councils to suddenly rush downwards in their water quality. In my experience, communities and councils are absolutely focused on improving water quality, but the important point is this: today there is nothing stopping our lakes and rivers from being completely dead environments. That is what Labour and the Greens were happy with. We are not. This is a step forward, no matter how the member tries to spin it. . .

New Zealand’s water standards aren’t as good as they used to be.

That’s because we used to have pristine water and it’s important to remember while that is no longer the case in all but a very few secluded places, our water quality is still very high by world standards.

That said, some waterways are of unacceptable quality and need to be cleaned up.

Most are okay and that standard should be at the very least maintained and preferably improved.

We can and must learn from other countries and the best practice here to ensure that happens.

There’s more information on the Government’s freshwater reforms, including the updated National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management here.

 

We’re taking action to improve freshwater quality for all New Zealanders. http://ntnl.org.nz/1opocYo #Working4NZ


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