Rural round-up

May 14, 2019

Zero Carbon Bill is just the start for agriculture’s greenhouse gas adaptation – Keith Woodford:

The Zero Carbon Bill introduced to Parliament this week answers some questions but raises many others.  There are big challenges ahead for everyone, but particularly for farmers and their leaders.

As always, the devil will be in the details. These details have yet to be spelled out. More importantly, it is apparent that many of the details have yet to be determined.

If rural leaders wish to have some influence on these details, they will need to be much better skilled-up than in the past.  The next few months will be crucial as the Bill works its way through the committee stages for enactment. . . 

Brit chefs tell good lamb tales – Neal Wallace:

Kiwi lamb is once again featuring on British restaurant menus, earning its place because of its provenance and quality.

Six chefs from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore and four from New Zealand have spent the last week touring South Island farms as guests of Alliance.

The visitors said price had forced the lamb off some UK restaurant menus.

It is returning because of its provenance, consistent quality and portion size. . . 

Celebrating farming mothers – Trish Rankin:

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

I did not think I had a chance of winning. The other women were outstanding and I probably suffered from ‘imposter’ syndrome – not believing I deserved the title. . . 

Saffron a growing business – Gus Patterson:

Often regarded as the world’s most expensive spice, saffron is now being grown in the Waitaki Valley.

Kurow Saffron is a venture run by sisters Sarah Hines and Joanna Towler, who planted their first bulbs in January 2017.

The bulbs multiply over time, and this year had been more than twice as productive as last year, Mrs Hines said.

Saffron comes from the threads of the flower of Crocus sativus

It is a labour-intensive process, as about 100 flowers are needed to produce 1g of the spice. . . 

Third Time Lucky for 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award Winners:

The 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are a smart, humble and practical couple who are doing very well at dairy farming on a challenging property in Northland.

In front of a capacity audience of 580 people at Wellington’s TSB Arena last night, Colin and Isabella Beazley from Northland were named the 2019 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Canterbury’s Matt Redmond became the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Nicola Blowey, also from Canterbury was announced the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $210,000.

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the Beazley’s impressed the judges with their resilience, team work and attention-to-detail. “They are such a great team and complement each other with their roles on farm.” . . 

New Zealand Olive Oils score in New York:

Results announced today show four New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oils were among the top winning oils in the world as judged at the 2019 New York International Olive Oil Competition

Loopline Picholene, which was Best in Show at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Gold.

Juno Picual, which was Best Boutique at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Silver. . . 

Why NZ ag needs many stories rather than just one – St John Craner:

Telling the same story over and over again gets boring. It becomes tiresome for the listener and then they stop listening. That’s the concern I have with all the talk I keep hearing about one NZ Ag Story when I attended this week’s fantastic ASB AgriFood Week (run by the very competent CEDA team).

Don’t get me wrong. A platform is great. Just look at the diversity of New Zealand wine brands who are prospering under the NZ banner. All the successful vineyard brands carve out a unique story that folds in the NZ narrative but they do it in a differentiated way, not a homogenous one. Stories can get stale with a limited shelf life just like our food.

This is why NZ wine are able to claim some of the highest price points around the world. The story they wrap around their product makes them brands that more people want to pay more for. . . 

Egg prices crack $4.43 a dozen:

The price of eggs reached a record high of $4.43 a dozen in April 2019, after rising for the past nine months, Stats NZ said today.

A national egg shortage may be one of the reasons for the rise in retail egg prices. Industry reports suggest that farmers are switching away from caged hens to more expensive free-range egg production, meaning that egg supply is down as hen flock sizes are reduced.

As a result, the weighted average price of both caged and  . . 


Rural round-up

April 20, 2019

Better data will help us do a better job – Federated Farmers:

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report released today will help all New Zealanders, not just farmers, identify the priorities for action.

But we can only manage what we have information on, Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our message during the last central government election campaign, when various candidates and commentators were putting the boot into farmers for environmental impacts, was that all Kiwis were in this together. This new report underlines exactly that. . .

Irrigation sector committed to continuing to improve environmental practices:

IrrigationNZ says the recent Environment Aotearoa report highlights the need for farmers and growers to continue work underway to: improve practices on-farm and upskill farmers; invest in cutting edge technology; and implement Farm Environmental Plans to change the way water is used for production.

“In partnership with national and regional government, it’s essential we continue to research, trial and adopt new practices and technology,” says Ms Soal.

“It is critical that we recognise that water is a precious resource which is essential for primary production and regional resilience in the face of climate change and that we use it in a way that is environmentally responsible,” says IrigationNZ Elizabeth Soal. . .

Dairy committed to a better environment:

DairyNZ says today’s Environment Aotearoa 2019 report gives honest insight into New Zealand’s environment and where the opportunities lie for the dairy sector, particularly for water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

Strategic leader for DairyNZ’s environmental portfolio, Dr David Burger, said while the report shows the dairy sector has work to do, there is no doubt farmers are working hard to look after the environment – with significant work already undertaken over the last 10 years to improve environmental practices across New Zealand. . .

Living affects the environment – Neal Wallace:

Our way of life is putting the environment under pressure.

A report produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand with evidence and trends of what is happening to the environment highlights nine key issues.

It is based on a comparison with previous reports, analysis of more than 60 indicators and new methods.

It found native plants, animals and ecosystems are under threat, changes to land vegetation are degrading soil and water, farming is polluting our waterways and water use affects freshwater ecosystems.

Urban centres create environmental pollution with urban sprawl occupying the best soils and destroying native biodiversity, it said. . .

Water tax decision allows environmental improvements to be targeted:

IrrigationNZ says the government’s decision not to introduce a water tax in the near future is good news for all New Zealanders.

“The Tax Working Group proposed a nationwide tax on all water use including for hydroelectricity, household, business and agricultural use. That would have resulted in higher power and food prices for households and businesses and higher rates bills for everyone,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal. . .

Wrightson gets OIO approval to sell seeds unit, still mulling size of return – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has cleared the final hurdle to sell its seeds division to DLF Seeds for $434 million after securing Overseas Investment Office approval, but still hasn’t figured out how much to return to shareholders.

Now the OIO has signed off on the transaction, the rural services company anticipates the deal to settle either this month or May. . .

Whio ducks make a comeback after predator programme :

A nationally vulnerable duck species is making a comeback following a programme to curb predators in Fiordland.

About 64 breeding whio have been found during surveying of a security site for the blue ducks.

Department of Conservation Senior Ranger Andrew Smart said extended trapping efforts and predator control enabled the whio to make a strong comeback. . .


If can’t count the concrete . . .

April 11, 2019

Statistics NZ has finally come out with the number of partial responses to the census:

Stats NZ’s confirmation that the problems with Census 2018 is not just with the record low response rate, but a doubling in the partial response rate compounds the problems for the State Sector, says National’s State Services Spokesperson Nick Smith.

“We now know over 700,000 people or one in seven New Zealanders did not complete Census 2018. This leaves a huge data hole that will create problems for years in allocating tens of billions of dollars in funding for central state services like health and education, as well as affecting electorate numbers and boundaries for Election 2020.

“Stats NZ needs to accept responsibility for the 2018 Census shambles. It cannot blame the funding when it was 36 per cent greater than Census 2013 and when this budget was underspent. It cannot blame the digital strategy when Australia successfully delivered its 2016 Census with a 95 per cent response rate using a similar strategy.

“Stats NZ botched the delivery of Census 2018 by excessively relying on online responses and providing insufficient neighbourhood backup for others. It compounded the problem by dismissing concerns expressed by Census field offices, commentators and the National opposition when the Census could have been retrieved. . . 

The census shambles hasn’t stopped the department coming out with more things to measure:

Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand is being developed by Stats NZ as a source of measures for New Zealand’s wellbeing. The set of indicators will go beyond economic measures, such as gross domestic product (GDP), to include wellbeing and sustainable development.

The wellbeing indicators will build on international best practice, and will be tailored to New Zealand.  . . 

The indicators cover New Zealand’s current wellbeing, future wellbeing (what we are leaving behind for future generations), and the impact New Zealand is having on the rest of the world. Under these dimensions are a list of topics and indicators developed to measure wellbeing.

You’ll find a link to the suite  of indicators if you click on the link above.  Among them are abstract things like spiritual health,  sense of belonging, ability to be yourself, locus of control and sense of purpose.

If Stats NZ hasn’t managed to properly count concrete things through the census, how on earth is it going to measure these abstract things?

Even if it can, when did spiritual health, a sense of belonging, the ability to be yourself, locus of control (whatever that is) and sense of purpose become the government’s business?

Stats NZ isn’t the only state entity getting touchy-feely.

Eric Crampton reports on a Treasury initiative:

There’s a $35 registration fee for this event at Treasury. . .

I have no clue whether the money goes to the folks running the session or what; I suspect it covers a cost of the deck of cards provided. But they recommend that attendees buy a deck of their cards in advance as practice as well, so attendees would wind up with double the compassion. It’s wonderful how Treasury is helping to promote a small business by hosting it and encouraging folks to buy its products.

Minister Jones would approve, if Heartwork were based in the Provinces.

Here’s the pitch. Treasury is Love.

Imagine surprising Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!

COME TO THIS SOCIAL LAB TO CONNECT AND CREATE TOGETHER.

We’ve created a “compassion starter culture” – a network of people who want to create a more compassionate culture in Aotearoa, starting where we are – in our workplaces.
We’ve been playing and rapidly prototyping with the Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game* – now available publicly. 
We know that the intention for what we want to create has a huge power.
We don’t have all the answers. And we can’t do this mahi alone.

So we’d like to invite you into this social lab.

So we can grow an even more beautiful, and more resilient strain together.
We’ll share what we’re learning while we’re still metabolising. . . 

Crampton concludes:

I, for one, love that this is a priority both for Operations and for Strategy and Performance at Treasury, as indicated by the attendance and presumed endorsement of the Chief Operating Officer and the Manager for Strategy and Performance.

Just imagine how better Treasury would have been prepared for the currency crisis after Muldoon lost election if they had thought to consult both their sun feelings and their moon feelings. I don’t know how New Zealand came through it without that. But we will be far better prepared for the next crisis. Treasury may have few remaining economists, but every single person who remains there will care deeply.

And surely that matters more than anything else.

You can watch a video of the card game here.

Not surprisingly the Taxpayers’ Union isn’t impressed:

Treasury’s ‘well-being’ focus is leading it to replace economic rigor with buzzword culture, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, as top department officials host a ‘social lab’ centered around a ‘Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game’.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The purpose of Treasury is to provide the Government with economic analysis and monitor the success of the wider civil service. It seems this has been abandoned in favour of feel-good card games.”

“It’s no wonder we need a taxpayers’ union when the agency responsible for monitoring public spending is busy trying to ‘surprise Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!’”

“Treasury was once a proud institution, a key cog in the vital economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a bleak vision of the future when you see adult civil servants consulting with their ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ feelings.” . . 

Do the government, and it’s agencies, know about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. . . 

 

Image result for maslow hierarchy of need

The government has a role in ensuring some of its citizens’ basic physiological and safety needs are met.

The abstract concepts in the indicators come under psychological and self-fulfilment needs. Most of these aren’t the business of government and those which are won’t be met unless the government and its agencies get the basics – health, education, welfare, housing, infrastructure . . .  right.

 


Christian privilege?

December 7, 2018

Statistics New Zealand is copping criticism for playing ‘Check Your Privilege Bingo’ at a workshop:

The game had a five-by-five board, with squares including ‘white’, ‘Christian’, ‘able-bodied’, ‘no speech impediment’, ‘male’ and ‘heterosexual’.

“Officials at a Stats NZ technical workshop today spent an hour having participants singing, hand-clapping and playing ‘Check Your Privilege Bingo’,” said National finance spokesperson Amy Adams. . .

According to the event schedule the game only ran for 15 minutes. 

“Yet at the same time New Zealand continues to wait for the 2018 Census results after a shambolic process that resulted in significant data gaps and we’re yet to see anything on the last two years of child poverty statistics.”

I agree that this doesn’t seem to be good use of time and it is particularly galling when the census was a shambles but I was intrigued that being Christian makes you privileged.

When it’s okay to put a condom on a Catholic icon and call it art, when people are killed for mocking the prophet of one religion but Jesus and Christ are used as curses and the politically correct pussy foot round every other creed but Christianity, is it really a marker of privilege?


Rural round-up

September 9, 2018

Make jobs attractive to youth – Neal Wallace:

Farmers need to change their approach to employment conditions to encourage more people to work for them, Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis says.

Low regional unemployment is making staff recruitment more challenging but there are already fewer people choosing agricultural careers.

To be competitive farmers need to consider more than just pay but also rosters, hours of work, housing, the workplace environment, pressure of the job and ensure they meet their legal payroll and time-recording obligations. . .

Annual results will put Fonterra under microscope – Sally Rae:

Scrutiny from farmers is expected next week when new chairman John Monaghan and recently appointed interim chief executive Miles Hurrell front Fonterra’s 2017-18 annual results presentation.

While commodity price fluctuations were “part and parcel” of the reality of being a dairy farmer, grumblings about Fonterra’s corporate performance have been growing, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said.

From an historical perspective, prices remained at relatively robust levels and, at $6.50, most farmers would be in positive cashflow territory. . . 

FENZ urges caution on controlled burns – John Gibb:

Large, controlled burn fires at Northburn Station, near Cromwell, produced huge smoke clouds on several days this week, but burned without any problems, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

Otago principal chief rural fire officer Graeme Still, of Dunedin, said permitted fires at Northburn had produced large clouds of smoke on Monday, Wednesday and yesterday, but finished without incident.

Fire conditions were suitable at Northburn, partly because remaining snowpack restricted any potential fire spread, he said yesterday. . . 

Wool recovery continues – Alan Williams:

Wool prices made another step forward at Thursday’s Napier sale, building on the gains of a fortnight earlier.

After a disappointing start to the season prices have lifted in the last few weeks and strong wools in the 35-37 microns range were up by another 4% to 5%, PGG Wrightson’s North Island auctioneer Steven Fussell said.

Second-shear wools were mostly up by similar margins on a fortnight earlier with good style 2 to 3 inch fibre length ahead about 7%. . .

On the farm: our guide to what’s been happening rurally:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

North Island-Te Ika-a-Māui

The week finished off much better than it started in Northland. Mid-week the Far North town of Kaitaia had its second 13 degree day of winter – that’s chilly for them. A cold southerly is blasting through and apparently farmers are “right up against it” for pasture. Any strongly kikuyu dominant sward is very slow growing; rye grass is going okay but patches of it are few and far between on most farms. . . 

Fruit exports boost wholesale trade in June quarter:

Fruit exports drove wholesale trade sales up in the June 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

The seasonally adjusted total sales value for wholesale trade rose 2.6 percent in the June 2018 quarter, following a modest 0.3 percent rise in the March 2018 quarter.

Five of the six wholesaling industries had sales rises in the June 2018 quarter. The largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, which was up 3.0 percent ($236 million). . . 

Deer milk hits the spot as finalist in NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu’s deer milk is on the awards stage again with today’s announcement that it is a finalist in two categories in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The NZ Food Awards have been a highlight of the food sector for over 30 years and aim to demonstrate innovation, creativity and excellence in the food industry in New Zealand. . .

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Rural round-up

June 28, 2018

Improved systems lower dariy’s footprint – Esther Taunton:

The greenhouse gas emissions produced for every kilogram of milk solids have fallen by almost a third in the 25 years to 2015, DairyNZ says.

At a climate change workshop in Taranaki on Thursday, DairyNZ senior climate change advisor Milena Scott said New Zealand’s dairy industry had been increasing its emissions efficiency by an average of one per cent per year since 1990.

Data from the Ministry for the Environment showed that from 1990 to 2015, the emissions intensity of milk solids fell 29 per cent, Scott said. . .

Negative comment undervalues agri-food industry – Sally Rae:

Unbalanced narrative around the agri-food sector is putting both it and the contribution it makes to New Zealand at risk, KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot believes.

In the latest KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, Mr Proudfoot said that narrative had reached a point where it could not longer be ignored ”as an inconvenience or an annoyance” and it should be considerably more positive.

”It is this sector that pays for the schools, roads and hospitals that the whole community relies upon. . .

Devil in the detail of fresh water management:

Key advice from a water report for the Government should be considered, but the devil will be in the detail says the Federated Farmers representative on the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), Chris Allen.

The LAWF report on preventing water quality degradation and addressing sediment and nitrogen has been released to the Government. The data and 38 recommendations are the culmination of a lot of work from many different groups represented on the Forum, Chris says.

“While there are still a range of views, especially when it comes to nitrogen discharge allowances, the fact is everyone is at the table and working on getting it right.” . . 

Lamb exports set new record:

The value of lamb exports hit a new record of $369 million in May 2018, Stats NZ said today. Higher prices and more quantities of lamb exported boosted this month’s level. The previous high for lamb exports was $340 million in February 2009.

“It has been a strong month for meat exports in general, with both lamb and beef increasing in quantities,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. . .

North Island Māori secure a record slice of kiwifruit market:

Three North Island iwi-based entities have successfully purchased one of New Zealand’s largest kiwifruit portfolios.

Te Arawa Group Holdings (Rotorua); Rotoma No 1 Incorporation (Rotorua), and Ngāti Awa Group Holdings (Whakatane) today announced they are the new owners of Matai Pacific’s vast kiwifruit portfolio.

The large-scale property deal includes three Bay of Plenty orchards covering a total of almost 100 canopy hectares. . . 

Fodder insurance – silage pit – Mark Griggs:

For Talbragar River cattle breeder and grazier Brian Bowman, droughts and floods are not new.

The Bowman family at “Shingle Hut”, Dunedoo, experienced three consecutive floods in 2010 to 2012, wiping out each year’s crop.

Mr Bowman said each flood covering all the river flat country was in November and wiped out 486 hectares of wheat crops in each of the first two and a big canola crop in the third year. . .

This start up can make avocados last twice as long before going bad – Caitlin Dewey:

The new avocados rolling out to Midwest Costco stores this week don’t look like the future of fresh produce. But they’re testing technology that could more than double the shelf life of vegetables and fruits.

That technology, developed by the start-up Apeel Sciences, consists of an invisible, plant-based film that reinforces the avocados’ own skin. The company hopes to expand to stores nationwide — as well as to a range of other produce.

Experts say the product, which has quadrupled shelf life in a lab setting, has the potential to make foods less perishable — with huge boons for consumers, the environment and the food industry. .  .


Teenage fertility rate drops to lowest ever

February 23, 2018

New Zealand’s fertility rate has dropped well below replacement level:

In the December 2017 year:

  • 59,610 live births and 33,339 deaths were registered in New Zealand, resulting in a natural increase (live births minus deaths) of 26,268.
  • There were 180 more births and 2,160 more deaths compared with 2016.
  • The total fertility rate dropped to a low of 1.81 births per woman, compared with an annual average of about 2.01 from 1980–2017.
  • The infant mortality rate was 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • All regions had more births than deaths.

If it wasn’t for a lower death rate and more immigration our population would be in decline.

The replacement rate for fertility is around 2.1% in the developed world. New Zealand has joined other OECD countries in falling below that.

Part of the reason for that is more couples are choosing to have no children or just one child.

Another reason is that more are leaving it too late and fertility drops for both men and women as they age.

The birth rate has dropped for all ages and among the statistics is one very positive one,  the teenage fertility rate has dropped to its lowest ever:

The teenage fertility rate has dropped to its lowest ever, with 15 live births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2017 – just under half the 2008 rate of 33.

In 1962, when fertility rates were highest for women in their twenties, the teenage fertility rate was 54 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19. While rates dropped for women in their twenties throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the teenage rate increased to a peak of 69 births per 1,000 women in 1972. The teenage rate then decreased to 30 births per 1,000 women in 1984. 

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The media release doesn’t say how many of the teenage mothers are single but the drop in the number of teens giving birth is reflected in a drop in benefit numbers for teen parents.

In 2017, the median age (half are younger and half older than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth was 30 years.  It has remained at 30 years since 1999. In comparison, the median age of women giving birth in the 1970s was 25 years.

If, we want a return to replacement fertility rates or higher the aim should be to encourage more couples to have children sooner but not too soon – in their 20s rather than their 30s or teens.

 


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