Rural round-up

June 24, 2020

Freshwater style over substance – Elbow Deep:

Much has been written about the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) newly released National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater, some groups are cautiously optimistic while others are outraged. Generally when nobody is happy with a decision Government has made it’s an indication they’ve got things pretty much right; I’m not so sure that’s the case this time.

From a farmer’s perspective the NPS could have been much worse; we were faced with the prospect of tearing down thousands of kilometres of fences and putting them back up a couple of metres further away from waterways, and worse, the prospect of a “one size fits all” nitrogen limit for the entire country in spite of its potentially devastating economic consequences for diminishing environmental outcomes.

The majority of freshwater ecologists in the MfE science and technology action group (STAG) were arguing for this blanket nitrogen limit, 1mg of dissolved inorganic nitrogen per litre of water, or 1% DIN. The remainder of the nineteen-strong STAG, the Cautious Five, wanted to use another method  entirely to measure a river’s health, the macroinvertebrate community index (MCI); quite literally counting the creatures in the water to determine how healthy it is. . .

Place on rural leaders’ board chance to give back – Yvonne O’Hara:

Former Nuffield scholar Kate Scott, of Cromwell, has joined the national scholarship programme’s overseeing body as a trustee.

The New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust (Rural Leaders) runs both the Nuffield New Zealand farm scholarship programme and the Kellogg rural leadership programme.

She replaced trustee James Parsons.

“It was an opportunity for me to give back and support the trust, which helped support my scholarship.

“I am looking forward to working beside other board members to provide learning and rural leadership opportunities throughout New Zealand,” she said. . .

Stranded seasonal workers want to go home – Jared Morgan:

Vanuatu’s approach to repatriating seasonal workers stuck in Central Otago may be motivated by economics more than fears of Covid-19, an orchardist and a worker say.

Strode Road Orchard owner Lochie McNally said Vanuatu had not had a case of Covid-19 and the disease had been effectively eliminated in New Zealand, making it difficult to understand what Ni-Vanuatu officials were waiting for.

Orchardists and viticulturists were willing to pay for flights home for the men; he questioned if leaving the workers here was politically motivated.

Mr McNally said it would be cheaper to pay for flights home than to keep paying the men, in his case eight, as work ran out. . . 

Blue Mountain College wins 2020 AgriKids Grand Final:

A talented trio from Blue Mountain College has taken out the title as the 2020 AgriKids winners.

The “West Otago Rams,” made up by Charlie Ottrey, 12, Dylan Young, 12, and Riley Hill, 13, were awarded the title at the Grand Final on Friday.

When asked how the trio felt about their win, they replied in unison “happy,” “overwhelmed,” “and a little bit surprised as well”.

They said the day was really fun but also challenging, with it being their first Grand Final. . . 

New Zealand’s sheep milking business is expanding :

New Zealand’s sheep milking industry has reached a significant milestone as Spring Sheep Milk Co. adds three new farmers to their growing supplier base for the coming dairy season. The new farms are coming onstream as the global dairy company responds to demand for nutritional products made with New Zealand sheep milk.

The addition of new farms is an important tipping point for Spring Sheep as this year the milking flock maintained by external suppliers will exceed that of Spring Sheep’s own farms. These additional milking ewes will help grow the company’s product lines into new markets as well as.

Growing consumer awareness and clinical evidence of sheep milk’s nutritional and digestibility benefits means demand is rising and Spring Sheep is now looking to partner with additional suppliers for the following 2021 dairy season. . . 

Study shows EU intervention programme wreaked havoc on global dairy prices; U.S> groups call for end to EU dumping of dairy products in international markets:

An economic analysis published today shows the serious impact of the European Union’s Skim Milk Powder (SMP) Intervention Program on the U.S. dairy industry—especially to U.S. farm-gate milk prices—in the years 2016-2019.

The report authors conclude that the United States was “economically harmed by the EU’s Intervention program for SMP” in three ways. First, the EU program depressed the global price of SMP, which lowered U.S. milk prices in 2018 and 2019, contributing to a $2.2 billion loss of U.S. dairy-farm income those years. The EU program also artificially inflated its global export market share, resulting in drastically lower market share for U.S. dairy exporters and other SMP exporters and U.S. dairy export losses of $168 million from 2018-2019. Finally, the analysis shows that when the EU unleashed its stockpile of “Intervention SMP” onto the global marketplace, the disposal of the product had harmful effects on the competitiveness of the United States in historically important export markets including Southeast Asia.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the leading dairy trade associations in the United States—the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC)—point to this economic analysis as proof that the EU’s SMP Intervention program wreaked havoc on the U.S. dairy industry. In their letter, the groups urge the U.S. government to prevent the EU from using future Intervention practices to effectively dispose of publicly stockpiled EU dairy products at discounted prices in the international markets. In May, dairy groups from across the Americas joined to call for an end to the EU Intervention Program. . . 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2019

Know what’s true about farms? – Sam McIvor:

There’s a consistent theme running through my conversations with farmers – they’re experiencing some of the best returns in living memory but there is a sense of pessimism in the face of what feels like an endless tirade of accusations about environmental vandalism.

I can understand how sheep, beef and dairy farmers feel.

For three years as chief executive at New Zealand Pork dealing with animal welfare issues I had daily accusations that questioned my breeding, my heritage, my integrity and my morals. 

I was threatened and to this day my home phone number isn’t listed.

So what is my response and my advice to farmers right now? 

It is to remember what is true. . . 

Look to today’s young talented people for tomorrow’s solutions – Mark Townshend:

Farmer and former Fonterra board member Mark Townshend explains ten things that may help transition farmers through to the next generation of successful dairying and food production. 1. Find the right people aged 30-45 to lead the dairy industry for the next 20 years.

  1. In my early farming years, the key names were Graham, Spring, McKenzie, Young, Storey, Calvert, Frampton, Fraser and Gibson — all capably leading NZ dairy. The founding of Fonterra brought a complete changing of the guard. The old man of the team was John Roadley (age mid 50s) and the team of van der Heyden, Bayliss, Rattray, Gent and van der Poel were all early-mid 40s. Do not look to yesterday’s people to solve tomorrow’s issues.

2. Work hard to attract the best human talent we can to the industry. We can have the best milk, produced more efficiently than anywhere in the world and produced in a more environmentally and animal friendly manner. But all of our challenges will be solved not by cows, weather or milk, but by smart people. Dairying in NZ needs to attract top quality people to the industry to meet the inevitable challenges. Encourage good people into farming and direct poor people out of farming. . . 

Forestry and silt in candidates’ sights at Havelock election meeting – Chloe Ranford:

Marlborough’s mayoral and Sounds ward candidates put their greenest foot forward at a pre-election debate as environmental issues dominated.

The candidate meeting at the Havelock Town Hall on Wednesday, hosted by the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and the Marlborough Express, drew an audience of about 50.

Current ward councillor David Oddie said the forestry industry needed to take a “serious look at itself” after an audience member questioned why the Marlborough District Council hadn’t taken action against the practice of planting trees on roadside strips in the Sounds.

“It just gets back to the endless encouragement from central government to plant forestry. That has got to change … but it’s been a slow road,” he said. . . 

NZ’s big pest bust: how do we kill the last survivors? – Jamie Morton:

Scientists have begun investigating how to wipe out the last surviving pests in New Zealand’s bold bid to rid itself of rats, stoats and possums by 2050.

A new $7.5 million programme, led by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research scientists, aims to overcome what’s long been a headache for predator-busting efforts – how to eliminate that final 5 per cent which manage to hang on.

The Government’s ambitious Predator Free 2050 initiative required scientific breakthroughs that could lift the kill rate to 100 per cent – a much more expensive prospect than just knocking out most of a population. . . 

US craft brewers chase unique Kiwi hop flavours – Rebecca Black:

New Zealand hops are in demand in the United States as craft beer brewers compete to achieve a point of difference.

The Tasman District produces distinct flavours that can not be replicated, according to Jason Judkins, chief executive of Nelson’s Hop Revolution, and US brewers are keen to use New Zealand hops to stand out among competitors.

Judkins visited 50 breweries on a recent trip the the US. . . 

 

Ag secretary: No guarantee small dairy farms will survive – Todd Richmond:

President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters following an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it’s getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Mr. Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 21, 2018

Disease reaches ‘crisis point’ – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis has reached crisis point and it’s time the Ministry for Primary Industries handed it back to farmers and support them to manage it, Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Frank Peters says.

The Peters family last week had 450 of their 1400-cow herd trucked to slaughter after just one cow tested positive for the cattle disease, now running rampant across the country.

Peters believes a lack of knowledge about M bovis is the biggest threat the disease poses to the dairy industry. . .

Farming and the Fight Against Climate Change – Veronika Meduna:

Climate friendly sheep could soon be romping around as part of the national flock as farmers take action to help reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.

As the interim climate commission begins its work, one of its most controversial tasks is to determine how agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme. At the same time, farmers have an increasing number of options to curb emissions.

On a farm south of Invercargill, a small flock of ewes that burp less methane – a potent greenhouse gas that makes up 76 per cent of emissions from the primary sector – is part of a research project to mitigate agricultural emissions. . . 

Tukituki catchment project aimed at curbing N-leaching big challenge :

A project aimed at determining how Tukituki catchment farmers will operate under new nitrogen leaching targets has found significant changes will have to made to achieve the reduced levels.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Plan Change 6 outlines Land Use Capability (LUC) nitrogen leaching rates for all farms, depending on their physical characteristics and attributes, that have to be achieved by May 2020.

Farmers unable to reach these rates could apply for resource consents provided they stay within 30 per cent of the prescribed rate. . .

Farmer plea to politicians: talk to us not at us – Andrew McGiven:

It certainly is an interesting time to be a farmer now and not necessarily for all the right reasons.

The declaration from Environment Minister David Parker that regulation is his chosen path for dealing with intensive dairying is just the latest salvo from this government that principles and ideology reign supreme over co-operation and common sense.

This comes on top of the Green element of the coalition doing all it can to include agricultural animal emissions in an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), uncertainty around the Tax Working Group and the potential requirements that Plan Change One Healthy Rivers will heap on us.

I am not surprised to see so many farms on the market right now. . .

Technology is getting CRISPR –  Daniel Kelley:

The future of farming just got a lot brighter.

On March 28, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that his department won’t add a new layer of regulations to crops that scientists have enhanced through a cutting-edge method of selective breeding. This wise decision will encourage innovation, helping producers and consumers alike—and it even holds the potential to usher in the next great revolution in food.

After half a century of farming in Illinois, I’ve endured every kind of challenge, from droughts, floods, and diseases to insect invasions and weed infestations. But what I’ll remember best about my career—and the thing for which I’m most grateful—is the stunning technological progress. Today, we have hybrid seed corn that delivers bumper crops, computer databases that overflow with information, and precision agriculture driven by satellites in the Global Positioning System. Compared to what I knew as a boy, these are incomprehensible, head-spinning technologies. . . 

Crop disease: waging modern war against an ancient foe – John Ward:

The problem of world hunger is complex and the threats to our global food supply are many. They include growing populations, loss of arable land, dwindling water supplies, and climate change.

As if these present-day challenges weren’t enough, there is another – far older – adversary that farmers have grappled with for centuries. Crop disease.

Crop losses due to pests and plant pathogens continue to rob world markets of much needed food and cost farmers billions of dollars every year.

But innovators like Ad Bastiaansen, believe that modern information technology might finally help turn the tide of battle against this ancient foe. . . 


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