Rural round-up

11/06/2021

West Coast mayors call for halt to all SNA work in wake of Far North protests – Lois Williams:

West Coast mayors are calling for a halt to identifying significant natural areas (SNAs) on private land, after suggestions that the process could be paused in the Far North.

An item on TV One news on Friday night cited a leaked e-mail from the office of Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, indicating that councils which had not already mapped SNAs could hold off until the relevant government policy was finalised later this year.

As recently as 31 May, James Shaw’s office told the Greymouth Star in response to a query that there would be no ‘outs’ for councils when it came to identifying SNAs in their districts.

Since then, there have been strong protests from Māori landowners in the Far North who had received council letters alerting them to potential SNAs on their land. . . 

Can we produce high natural value? Conservation and livestock farming co-existing Prof Iain Gordon – Sarah’s Country:

In this week’s Sarah’s Country’s Opinion Maker we break-down the concept of ‘rewilding’ in a New Zealand concept and the value-add product opportunity with Prof. Iain Gordon, Lincoln University & Australian National University. Iain explains:

  • In Southern Europe, desertification of the land saw farming not financially viable and the farmers moved to the cities. Then there was a build up of biomass, vegetation and large wildfires broke out so the government is paying for farmers to go back and manage the land through grazing livestock!

  • If rewilding approach is adopted, then larger areas can be given over to conservation, because of the potential broader benefits to society from these spaces and the engagement of farmers in practises that are closer to their traditions.

  • In the UK rewilding or conservation grazing is seen as ‘public good’ and good environmental management commanding a premium in restaurants. . .

Orchardist to enjoy weekend sleep-ins – Sally Rae:

Wes Reichel will be entitled to a sleep-in this weekend.

For more than 18 years, Mr Reichel (73) has left his bed at 3.30am on a Saturday, had a coffee and climbed into his produce-laden vehicle and headed to the Otago Farmers Market in Dunedin.

But this past Saturday marked the end of an era, as the Teviot Valley orchardist retired from the market.

While he would continue to grow fruit and vegetables at Te Mahanga Orchard, south of Ettrick, which has been in his family since 1919, he rued he was ‘‘getting too bloody old’’ to continue travelling to Dunedin. . .

Growing professionalism driving awareness of health and safety in shearing industry:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Industry campaigns and growing professionalism are driving awareness of health and safety among shearers,” says national FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalist Joseph Watts. Yet, he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

Joseph, from Waipukurau, will represent East Coast in the national competition. He began his rural career as a shearer, having completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise degree and then played squash professionally for several years.

He went on to gain a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies from Massey University and is now a Technical Field Representative for PGG Wrightson as well as farming some beef cattle on a 30 acre site at Waipukurau, with his partner, vet Lucy Dowsett. . . 

The Co-operative spirit helps Temuka farmer:

When Temuka-based farmer Hamish Pearse suffered a devastating fire in his milking shed in February he witnessed first-hand the benefits of the co-operative spirit of his neighbours, friends and Fonterra.

The fire was discovered around eight o’clock at night and also burnt through the adjoining office and wash room.

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.”

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.” . . 

NZ Apples and Pears chief executive to step down:

NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) chairman, Richard Punter, has announced that the organisation’s chief executive Alan Pollard will step down from his role later this year.

Pollard has been in his role for just over nine years. The industry realised about $340m in export earnings when he started as chief executive in March 2012, and about $920m last year, close to the $1billion by 2022 target that was set in 2013.

“As NZAPI defines what business as usual might look like post-COVID, Alan feels that this is the right time for a new leader to bring their own skills, experience and style to the organisation”, Punter said. “We are deeply appreciative of the contribution that Alan has made to the successful growth of the industry and the grower organisation”. . .


Rural round-up

08/06/2021

Big rain, big pain, big cost – Canterbury’s week of flooding devastation – Martin van Beynen:

An intensively farmed region of Canterbury lying between the north branch of the Ashburton/Hakatere and Hinds rivers was one of the hardest-hit by this week’s floods. Reporter MARTIN VAN BEYNEN spent four days in the area assessing the impact.

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury knew it would be bad.

When the MetService issued a red alert for the Canterbury region on Friday, May 28, they prepared for some sleepless nights and a rough weekend.

The MetService warned that 200-300 millimetres of rain was expected to “accumulate” about the high country between 3pm on Saturday and 11am on Monday. The rain would cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, the agency said. . . 

Flood took my farm – Annette Scott:

The storm has eased and the carnage is emerging on Darryl Butterick’s flood-stricken Ashburton Forks property.

Farming deer, sheep and beef across two separate properties between the North and South branches of the Ashburton River, Butterick was smack bang in the middle, copping the breakout of both rivers.

“We got it right up the ass, that’s for sure,” Butterick said.

Two-thirds of his deer farm, carrying 500 hinds and sire stags, was under water. . . 

Farming leaders focus on Canty clean-up – Neal Wallace:

Offers of help are coming thick and fast for Canterbury flood victims, but farming leaders say they are still trying to collate exactly what is needed and where.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Caroline Amyes says much activity is happening behind the scenes.

“We are all working in the background to collaborate and to have a unified approach,” Amyes said.

The groups coordinating the response include Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trust, rural advisers, Civil Defence, Ministry of Primary Industries, the feed source hotline, Environment Canterbury, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

Amyes says the Rural Support Trust is collating needs and the Government’s $500,000 grant has enabled a co-ordinator to be employed to match offers with need and arrange logistics. . . 

Northland SNA plan: Kāeo residents up in arms at packed public meeting – Peter de Graaf:

A plan to designate more than 40 per cent of the Far North as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) is a big disincentive to people who already look after their land, speaker after speaker told a packed public meeting in Kāeo.

More than 200 people turned out on Thursday evening to share their concerns about a proposed expansion of the district’s SNAs, a day after close to 500 people attended a similar meeting in Kawakawa.

Many of those at the Kāeo meeting said they already protected native bush by planting, pest control and fencing — but the SNA plan, which could limit use of their properties, had given them second thoughts.

Ahipara’s Danny Simms said he loved his land and didn’t need anyone to tell him to look after it. . . 

Global food prices rise at rapid rate in May:

Global food prices rose at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade in May, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has reported.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 127.1 points in May, 4.8% higher than in April and 39.7% higher than in May 2020.

A surge in the international prices of vegetable oils, sugar and cereals led the increase in the index to its highest value since September 2011 and only 7.6% below its all-time peak in nominal terms.

The FAO Cereal Price Index increased 6% from April, led by international maize prices, which averaged 89.9% above their value a year earlier. . .

A season of outstanding quality for New Zealand winegrowers:

After a smaller than usual harvest this year, New Zealand winemakers are excited about the excellent fruit and wine quality, though careful management of inventory is required to meet escalating global demand.

Spring was cooler than usual in 2021, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

The globally renowned wine-growing region of Marlborough was hit especially hard by these frosts. As an area famous for the quality of its wine – particularly Sauvignon Blanc -– this shortage of grapes has created a number of downstream implications for the wine industry, both here in New Zealand as well as internationally. . . 


Rural round-up

06/06/2021

Where’s the dollars and sense? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

With all the hype around the benefits of regenerative agriculture, a significant aspect appears to be missing – economics.

We hear about farmer wellbeing. Sometimes we hear about production. But where are the accounts?

If the approach and rethink about systems is so good, why is the income side missing in discussion?

Most of us understand that Country Calendar is now more about lifestyles and people stories than working farms (with the occasional exceptions). RNZ’s CountryLife is tending the same way. Both are focused on motivating an audience, which is mostly urban, to tune in. . . 

Hīkoiof hundreds against far-north SNAs to follow Dame Whina Cooper’s footsteps – Susan Botting:

Panguru great-grandmother Hinerangi Puru (84) will journey in the footsteps of her iconic mother Dame Whina Cooper next week in a hīkoi fighting new Significant Natural Area “land grabs” converging on Far North District Council’s head office.

The Hokianga kuia will be among expected hundreds from across the Far North and beyond in the hīkoi to FNDC’s head office in Kaikohe on 11 June.

“My mother marched to Wellington in 1975 at the age of 83 to the call of ‘not one more acre’,” Puru said of the journey she was also part of.

“Now, nearly 50 years on we’re still having to do the same thing with this hīkoi.” . . 

Carbon forestry’s desirability challenged at meeting – Rebecca Ryan:

“Call it carbon mining.”

Addressing the crowd at a public meeting in Weston on Monday night, Five Forks farmer Jane Smith suggested the word “farming” was no longer used in association with carbon forestry.

“The term farming suggests you are looking after a resource sustainably, long term, into perpetuity — and this certainly is not,” Mrs Smith said.

“So let’s call it carbon mining.” . .

Farmers fill skill gap – David Anderson:

Finding and training skilled workers is a growing problem in many parts of the NZ economy and the sheep and beef farming sector is no exception.

However, instead of sitting around and bemoaning this fact, a number of like-minded sheep and beef producers from around the country have decided to do something about it.

They have established the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) charitable trust, which aims to provide industry-led, on-the-job training and work for young people keen to enter the sheep, beef and deer farming sectors. “Evidence from farm employers and recruitment agencies indicate a considerable shortfall of well-trained people entering the industry over the last decade,” GGF trust board chair John Jackson told Rural News. . . 

Searching for the future on North Island hills – Keith Woodford:

Some weeks back I wrote an article on New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms, focusing on the current situation. I said I would be back as there was more to discuss about both the present and the future. Here, I want to focus more specifically on the North Island hill (Beef+Lamb Class 4) and hard-hill country (Class 3). These land classes comprise around 4000 farms and contain approximately 45 percent of New Zealand’s commercial sheep and beef farms.

Before heading further down that track, I want to share some information supplied by Rob Davison from Beef+Lamb. The 2017 Statistics Department national census indicates there are approximately 26,400 sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, Beef+Lamb estimates that only 9200, or 35 percent thereof, are commercial farms. These commercial farms typically have at least 750 stock units and comprise 97 percent of New Zealand’s sheep production plus 88 percent of the beef cattle production. That means there are another 17,200 lifestyle and hobby farmers.

Although the 17,200 non-commercial farmers may not be particularly important from a production perspective, they are still a very important part of the rural community. Many of these people have a day-job in the agricultural servicing industry. . . 

Cost to beef of China dramas impossible to measure – Shan Goodwin:

It was impossible to measure how much Australia’s geopolitical tensions with China might cost the beef industry because unique market dynamics were at play, senate estimates hearings in Canberra have heard.

Representatives from the red meat industry’s big research, development and marketing provider Meat & Livestock Australia appeared before the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee and fielded questions on everything from global marketing budgets to carbon neutrality.

Managing director Jason Strong said China grew as a beef market for Australia extremely quickly. . .


Rural round-up

20/02/2020

West Coast man decries government’s ‘blatant attack on property rights’ :

An elderly West Coast man has appealed to the government not to take his land, after more than 70 percent of it was classed as a Significant Natural Area.

Tony Barrett, 86, lives alone on his 607ha block on the Arnold Valley Road, east of Greymouth.

Barrett’s grandparents first leased the land near Notown from the government in the 1930s after it was cleared of trees, dug over and mined for gold by returned servicemen.

The Barretts left much of it undeveloped, and a large chunk of the formerly gorse-covered block is now regenerating native bush. . . 

Wild rabbit sellers say cost of audits driving them out of business:

Those trying to make a living from selling wild rabbits to restaurants and for pet food say they are being driven out of business by high compliance costs.

Shooters and processors spoken to by RNZ said audits up to every six weeks were over the top and they should not be treated in the same way as a large scale meat works.

Bob Thomson has run a sole operator rabbit processing plant on the outskirts of Christchurch for the past two decades, supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants around the country and for pet food.

But he is drowning under a tsunami of paperwork. . .

Helping farmers tell their stories – Colin Williscroft:

There’s an increasing awareness of the need for farmers to tell their stories to help explain to urban New Zealanders the realities of life on the land and the contribution the primary sector makes to the country. Lisa Portas of Palliser Ridge is determined to help get those stories across, as Colin Williscroft found out.

 For farming stories to truly connect with an urban audience they not only have to be told well, they need to be authentic and that means they have to come from farmers themselves, Wairarapa farmer Lisa Portas says.

If that’s going to work farmers need to become more comfortable being their own narrators and not be afraid to use a range of channels from social media to open days to encourage a wider understanding of agricultural industries, the people involved, the processes and the reasons why decisions are made. . .

Around world and back to Synlait – Toni WIlliams:

Lachie Davidson has travelled to the other side of the world, been crowned a world champion egg thrower and has just embarked on a career with an internationally recognised company which prides itself as being an outside-the-box thinker.

The 22-year-old former Ashburton College head boy is one of four to gain a place in the Synlait Future Leaders Programme. More than 300 people applied.

Under the three-year accelerated development programme, developed by Synlait organisational development manager Tony Aitken, he will undergo leadership training as he learns different facets of the company. . .

LIC to seek shareholder approval to acquire 50% stake for $108.7 million in Israeli agritech company Afimilk:

    • The investment will strengthen LIC’s ability to deliver superior herd improvement services and agritech to its farmers.
    • The proposed 50% stake in Afimilk will help LIC keep its world-leading edge in pastoral dairy farming data while broadening access to new information to meet future needs and challenges.
    • Afimilk is profitable, has no debt and has historically paid dividends to its shareholders. . .

Rural market reflects external volatility:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 57 less farm sales (-13.6%) for the three months ended January 2020 than for the three months ended January 2019. Overall, there were 363 farm sales in the three months ended January 2020, compared to 345 farm sales for the three months ended December 2019 (+5.2%), and 420 farm sales for the three months ended January 2019. 1,277 farms were sold in the year to January 2020, 14.7% fewer than were sold in the year to January 2019, with 40.3% less Dairy farms, 3.9% less Grazing farms, 28.4% less Finishing farms and 9.8% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to January 2020 was $21,221 compared to $27,087 recorded for three months ended January 2019 (-21.7%). The median price per hectare decreased 7.7% compared to December 2019. . .


SNAs set traps for farmers

21/05/2014

Farmers who’ve allowed wetlands to be surveyed are upset they face restrictions less conservation-minded landowners don’t.

Conservation-minded farmers are annoyed about being penalised by agreeing to wetlands and other natural assets being surveyed, when other Hurunui farmers don’t have rulemakers coming down hard on them.

Members of the Hurunui SNA Group says the Resource Management Act (RMA) disadvantages them, and the group is urging farmers to not allow any more surveys on private land, trapping them in the RMA system, until the legislation is changed.

The group’s farmers say they have to apply for resource consent to fertilise around listed Significant Natural Areas (SNA), when non-surveyed landowners are free of these requirements.

Interested farm buyers have shied away from at least one farm because of its SNAs, and other farmers are worried that this will lower their own land values.

Group spokesman Jamie McFadden said landowners had chosen to leave and care for native bush on their land when they could have easily cleared it.

“These landowners feel aggrieved and angry that seemingly because of their generosity in protecting native bush on their land, they are then trapped in a compulsory regulatory system that does nothing to help them continue to look after these areas.”

McFadden is a Hurunui farm- raised landscaper specialising in planting native plants on farms.

He said QEII Trust covenanting was a much better system, as landowners agreed to conditions that could not be changed without their agreement, and the trust helped with fencing and weed control.

“With the RMA-SNA regulatory system, landowners have no choice, there is no flexibility on rules – one size fits all – and the rules can change at any time, even without the landowner’s knowledge or approval.”

McFadden said that when landowners worked with the Hurunui District Council on a biodiversity strategy for the district, they never expected that Environment Canterbury could come over the top and apply its rules to SNAs on private land, such as not applying fertiliser within 10 metres of listed natural assets.

The regulations were counterproductive, because native shrubs and trees were being cleared by landowners unwilling to be caught in the system or by future rules, he said. . .

When farmers see registering SNAs have this perverse outcome it puts them off doing the right thing and it’s not just with bush and wetlands.

A farming couple had a request from a student who wanted to look for evidence of a rare insect species on their property.

They were happy to do so until neighbours warned them not to.

They’d allowed a student to do something similar on their farm then had restrictions placed on what they could do as a result of what was found.

When conservation conflicts with property rights it’s the latter which comes second and landowners pay a high price which puts them off  trying to be conservation and community minded.


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