Rural round-up

14/09/2022

On how farmers overcome diversity – Sally Rae:

Resilience is defined as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Those in the rural sector, in particular, can face adversity from multiple sources and additional challenges to other sectors of society.

For high country farmer Jack Cocks, adversity came in the form of a life-threatening brain injury in March 2013.

Then 36 years old, the father-of-two got a massive headache; he recalls the pain as being unimaginable. He did not know what the cause was but he knew the outcome could potentially kill him.

His wife Kate phoned 111 and he was flown from their home at Mt Nicholas Station, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, to Dunedin Hospital in the middle of the night. . . 

Kaitiakitanga – the force propelling the Miraka marvel – Gerald Piddock:

A small company is taking a holistic approach in its business – and it’s paying off on the global stage.

A small central North Island milk company is proving it can do big things. Based in Mokai, north of Taupō, Miraka is showing it’s possible to operate with kaitiakitanga (meaning guardianship and protection or sustainability) and te ao Māori values, and punch above its weight on the global stage. Kaitiakitanga was not a strategy, it was embedded in Miraka values and everything it did, chief executive Karl Gradon says. It is one of Miraka’s key values. It means more than just being sustainable, he told farmers and industry leaders at the Primary Industries of New Zealand Summit in Auckland.

“That’s not the translation, it is much more holistic than sustainability and we are proving we can do this on a global scale.”

The $300 million dairy company based in Mokai just north of Taupō is a key player in the Māori economy, being one of its largest exporters. It collects milk from 100 local farms within a 120km radius of the factory, which gives it a farm-fresh advantage and results in superior quality products.  . . 

Firearms licence fears often unwarranted – Kathryn Wright:

One of the saddest — and most misinformed — reasons that has emerged in my research on young rural men and why they don’t seek help for mental heath issues, is a fear of losing their firearms licence, writes KATHRYN WRIGHT, rural counsellor.

Firearms are a serious topic and attitudes around them can be emotional and polarising.

Urban people tend to equate firearms with crime, whereas for rural people, they are an essential tool on the farm and beyond. Essential for quickly and humanely putting down sick stock, and for pest control.

The flip side of firearm use is that of recreational hunting, which several roles — killing wild animals to feed the family and then there is the social/emotional connection. . . 

Greenies challenge NZ food producers with push towards lab-produced tucker but Fonterra strikes back with Nutiani – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  food  exporters, on whom  this  country  depends  for  the  bulk of  its  export earnings, may  have  to  contend  with  fresh  opposition  from a  new  quarter. This  is  the  school  of  “greenies” who  preach  the  need  for  a revolution  in  creating  food through  precision  fermentation: growing  food   in  labs  from  microbes  and  water.

Leading  this  school  in the  United Kingdom is a  formidable  authority,  George  Monbiot,  who argues  that  before  long

 “… most  of  our  food will come neither from animals nor plants but  from unicellular  life”.   

Monbiot  and  others  like   him  argue  it  is  “indisputable”   that  the  farming revolution of  the  the  1950’s ,  with  its  widespread use  of  herbicides, pesticides  and  fungicides has  waged  war  on  nature. . . 

Dairy commodities sustain high price :

Price rises across dairy commodities drove an annual increase in the value of exports for dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended July 2022, the total export value of milk powder, butter, and cheese increased $2.8 billion (17 percent) to $18.8 billion, compared with the year ended July 2021.

“Dairy products had a strong finish to the export season with a continuation of high prices, especially in the second half of the season,” international trade statistics manager Alasdair Allen said.

The annual increase was heavily driven by exports of milk powder, up $1.1 billion to $10 billion and milk fats, including butter, up $1.1 billion to $3.8 billion from the year ended July 2021. . . 

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2022 :

This week at an awards dinner held in Auckland the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) announced the winners of its three most prestigious awards. The 2022 recipients are acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level, to high level policy planning and execution, and academic leadership.

Forestry continues to be a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President, James Treadwell says “the industry is working hard to benefit New Zealand, and we are particularly proud of the high calibre of this year’s award contenders.”

The Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup is awarded to Jake Palmer. This award recognises the achievements of a young New Zealand forest professional who lives and breathes the principles of sustainable forest management. In addition to the sound science based land stewardship, the awardee must demonstrate a commitment to raising the profile, of the wise use and conservation of forests and their ecosystems. Treadwell commented “This award was instigated by Prince Charles in 2017. It’s especially poignant timing this year following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The mantel will pass to a new Prince of Wales, Prince William, to continue to champion environmentally positive forestry practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

02/05/2022

Fonterra is well-placed to win Kiwi acclamation as corporate champion – Point of Order :

Can  Fonterra, with  its capital restructured,  become   the national champion,  it  was always  intended to be?.

The  stars   are  aligned  as  they  never have been before.

The  dairy  giant  has  the  products,  the  bosses,  the  markets, the  support of almost  all  its suppliers,  plus  the  government’s  backing.

It seems the  high  international prices  currently  prevailing  will  persist  for  another  season, and  maybe  two, which  would  be  the  longest stretch   in  Fonterra’s 20-years- or-so history. . . 

Fonterra expands seaweed trial, Fonterra farmers have first access :

Fonterra expands on-farm trials of methane reducing Asparagopsis seaweed, as part of the Fonterra’s commitment to helping solve the methane challenge.

In partnership with Australian company Sea Forest, Fonterra is looking at the potential Asparagopsis seaweed has in reducing methane in a grass-fed farming system.

Fonterra General Manager of Sustainability APAC Jack Holden says our grass-fed farming model makes Fonterra one of the most carbon efficient producers of dairy in the world. “However, we have an aspiration to be net zero by 2050 and are investing in R&D and partnerships to help find a solution to reducing methane emissions.”

CSIRO research has shown that Asparagopsis seaweed has the potential to reduce emissions by over 80 per cent in laboratory trials, and while Fonterra understands the reductions will vary out of the lab, all reductions count. . . 

Feedback sought of draft code of welfare for dairy cattle :

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), the independent Ministerial advisory committee on animal welfare, is calling for feedback on a new draft code of welfare for dairy cattle.

NAWAC has reviewed the existing code of welfare for dairy cattle and is consulting on updated minimum standards and recommendations for best practice.

The objective is to lift the codes to address changes in good practice, available technology and science, and the explicit recognition of sentience in the Animal Welfare Act. It is also consulting on recommendations for regulations.

“The existing code of welfare has gone a long way towards ensuring good animal health and welfare outcomes for our dairy cattle, but we wanted to review the code to ensure it remains fit for purpose,” NAWAC chairperson Dr Gwyneth Verkerk said. . . 

Market garden on farm provides staff with healthy vege boxes – Country Life:

Environmental and social trials are underway on a dairy farm near Ashburton.

Rhys and Kiri Roberts are comparing conventional farming with a regenerative system, they’re giving staff more work flexibility and are providing them with free farm-grown food.

“Offering your team vegetables in this climate at the moment is just such a fantastic thing to be doing,” Rhys says.

Rhys is CEO of Align Farms. The business has eight farms milking 5000 cows and employs 30 people in mid-Canterbury. . . 

Dairy commodity price rises drive increase in March exports :

The value of total good exports rose strongly in March, driven by increases in dairy products, beef, and aluminium, Stats NZ said today.

These increases were mainly the result of higher prices.

In March 2022, total goods exports rose $978 million (17 percent) from March 2021 to reach $6.7 billion.

Exports of dairy products (milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group) led the rise, up $461 million (30 percent) to $2.0 billion in March 2022. . . 

Livestock guardian dogs  :

When most people think of a flock, they just think of sheep. But if you look closely, you’ll spot a few large white-coated canines calmly at the center and possibly a few darker faced dogs circling the perimeter. These are livestock guardian dogs and their job is to act as an early warning and protection system for the sheep. Year after year, these sheep then go on to provide different types of wool which is spun for use in clothing and home goods. The protection dogs are hard to spot unless you know what you’re looking for. But make no mistake, you’ll meet them in a hurry if you walk up on a sheep or lamb as an unfamiliar face. And you won’t just meet one or two. Typically ranchers employ multiple dogs, based on the size of the flock and the predator challenge of their grazing areas. This natural pack comes together to face down other packs of predators or larger single predators like bears.

According to Cat Urbigkit, a Wyoming based cattle-and-sheep rancher, author, and expert on the training and use of guardian animals, the working sheep dog isn’t typically the friendly mop-haired “sheep dog” so popular in suburban neighborhoods. “Guardian dogs are large but calm animals that have developed instincts to protect flocks. They’re serious athletes, comfortable living out-of-doors, and easy-going around people,” explains Urbigkit. “This job is nothing new for these dogs. These breeds have pedigrees that are thousands of years old.” Indeed, many livestock protection dogs come from the mountainous regions of ancient Turkey, Mongolia, Spain, and Italy, but the one thing they all share in common is loyalty and courage in the face of danger. . . 


Rural round-up

21/02/2022

No cheap entry to split gas options – Richard Rennie:

The cost to run the alternative greenhouse gas (GHG) system for the primary sector now under discussion could cost the sector as much as $90 million a year.

The He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) split-gas emissions proposal roadshow is now well under way across New Zealand, with farmers having a chance to get under the hood of the two schemes presented, both likely to hit farm profits by between 4-6%.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the estimate of up to a $90m a year cost was “quite possible”, but was also one that had been fully imputed into estimates of what the respective farm based or industry-based schemes are likely to have on farm profits.

“There is no doubt, when you scale up the costs at a farm level to an industry level it does come to quite a big number,” Mackle said. . . 

Carbon report calls for a more strategic approach – Colin Williscroft:

Short-term land-use decisions risk the long-term future of New Zealand’s rural landscapes and communities, according to a green paper by former Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, however, some industry players are questioning parts of the paper’s content.

Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It was released ahead of a workshop early next month involving stakeholders, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and Local Government NZ.

Yule said the paper outlines the risk that short-term decisions will make to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest begins :

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first crop being picked this morning in Te Puke and more kiwifruit to be picked around New Zealand over the coming months.

The 2022 season has the potential to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before. A forecast of at least 190 million trays will need to be harvested, overtaking last year’s record of over 177 million trays. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

Zespri’s new RubyRed variety is picked first which is then followed by the Gold and Green varieties. The harvest traditionally peaks in mid-April and runs through until June.

The sweet, berry-tinged tasting Red kiwifruit will also be picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and some overseas markets this year. 2022 marks the first year that RubyRed will be sold as a commercial variety. . . 

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka reports record revenue :

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka has reported a record revenue for the year driven by a rebound in kiwifruit volumes and a lift in production.

Key numbers (for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit $14.9m vs $15.2m
  • Revenue $309.6m vs $251.5m
  • Operating earnings $56.8m $42.9m
  • Dividend 13 cents per share vs 12cps

The company’s net profit is down 2 percent as 2020’s result included a $5.6 million deferred tax benefit. . . 

Precision Growing technology takes top honours at New Zealand International Business Awards 2021:

A Bay of Plenty business dedicated to “the art of growing for a healthier world” is the supreme winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021, announced tonight [17 February] at the Awards’ first-ever broadcast ceremony. 

The Supreme Award winner, Bluelab, provides high-precision measurement technology for controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses, vertical farms and hydroponic production. Operating for more than 30 years, Bluelab is internationally recognised as an industry leader, and provides tools and systems to measure critical factors like pH, temperature and moisture levels when growing plants in controlled environments. 

Bluelab’s products are designed, manufactured and exported globally from its base of operations in Tauranga. Bluelab previously won the Excellence in Innovation category at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.   . . 

Producer prices increase in the December 2021 quarter :

Producer input and output prices increased in the December 2021 quarter, led by rising prices in dairy and construction industries, Stats NZ said today.

In the December 2021 quarter compared with the September 2021 quarter, prices received by producers of goods and services (outputs) increased 1.4 percent. Prices paid by producers of goods and services (inputs) increased 1.1 percent over the same period.

“Producer prices are increasing, but slower than in the middle of 2021,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said.

“Most industries had increases in input and output prices, with dairy and construction industries having the largest contribution to increases in overall producer prices.” . . 


Rural round-up

21/01/2022

NIWA predicts drought for top and bottom of the country – Tom Kitchin:

Parts of Aotearoa may have to prepare for a third consecutive year in drought.

Although spring rain may be keeping some hopeful, it is getting dry rapidly, with many farmers seeing their land dry out before their eyes in recent weeks.

The driest parts of the country are at opposite ends – Northland and Southland.

NIWA’s drought index is rating one part of Southland, dry, another very dry and a small part south east of Invercargill extremely dry. . . 

Low methane livestock a reality :

AgResearch scientists’ work to successfully breed low methane emitting sheep has the potential to help all NZ livestock farmers lower their carbon footprint.

The ground-breaking research took out the 2021 Supreme Award at the Science New Zealand Awards.

Backed by the industry through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and the Government – via the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) – the AgResearch team spent over a decade working on the science.

They were able to identify genetic differences which influences how much methane an individual sheep produces. Methane is a relatively short-lived but potent greenhouse gas. . . 

Annual food price increase the highest in a decade :

Annual food prices were 4.5 percent higher in December 2021 than they were in December 2020, Stats NZ said today.

This is the biggest annual increase since September 2011, when annual food prices increased 4.7 percent.

The main contributor to this increase was higher prices for tomatoes.

Tomatoes nearly doubled in price between December 2020 and December 2021, increasing 99 percent. . . 

Rabobank appoints new head of food and agri research for New Zealand & Australia :

Rabobank has announced the appointment of Stefan Vogel as General Manager of its food and agribusiness research division in New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Vogel takes on the role after more than seven years with Rabobank in London, where he held two concurrent global positions with the bank – Head of Agri Commodity Markets Research and Global Grains and Oilseeds Sector Strategist.

In his new position, based in Sydney, Mr Vogel leads the New Zealand and Australian arm of the agribusiness bank’s highly-regarded global food and agricultural research division, RaboResearch.

In New Zealand and Australia, RaboResearch comprises a team of 10 specialist agri commodities analysts, who are part of a network of 75 research analysts worldwide focussed on providing comprehensive, leading-edge food and agribusiness research for the bank’s clients. . . 

Landmark Agreement Paves Way For NZ Grown Cannabis Medicines :

New Zealand’s two largest medicinal cannabis companies have signed a supply contract that will provide Kiwis further access to locally made medicines and pave the way for international export success. 

The five year multi-million-dollar deal between Marlborough-based cultivator Puro and Auckland-based Helius Therapeutics is New Zealand’s largest to date.

Under the partnership, Puro will supply over 10 tonnes of organic medicinal cannabis to Helius over the next five years, the equivalent of approximately five shipping containers of dried cannabis flower. . .

Comvita and Microsoft collaboration brings magic of the hive to utilising Hololens technology :

Comvita, global leader in Mānuka honey, has today announced a new collaboration with Microsoft, with the creation of an immersive multi-sensory consumer experience powered by Microsoft’s HoloLens technology.

Set to launch to consumers in January 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai, the experience represents the next step in Comvita’s mission to transform the consumer retail experience, following the opening of its award winning multi-sensory space, The Wellness Lab, in Auckland earlier this year.

With its application of Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, Comvita has transported the Wellness Lab’s 180-degree theatre experience into the fully mobile headset, enabling it to connect consumers anywhere in the world to the unique benefits of Mānuka honey and the magic of bees and nature. . . 


Covid costs

01/12/2021

We booked accommodation for our staff weeks ago.

On Monday the hotel emailed saying that all their guests must be double vaccinated.

We can find alternative accommodation for those who aren’t, but not everyone will be able to.

A business which has seven staff working nearly three hours away from their homes received the same message from the hotel where they were staying.

The business is trying to find a house or crib as an alternative. If they do, they’ll then have the issue of how to feed the workers when they can’t go to cafes or restaurants. If they don’t find an alternative the business is in trouble.

It already has a shortage of staff and doesn’t want to exacerbate that by sacking anyone. It is too far for the workers to commute every day and finding others who are both vaccinated and willing to be away from home for days at a time will be difficult, if not impossible.

The hotel which has just lost seven guests for several nights isn’t happy either.

There will be examples of businesses facing similar problems all over the country.

There will also be more businesses changing how they operate or closing:

A popular North Otago restaurant is among hospitality businesses in the South to decide against adopting vaccine mandates as at least two are set to close over the stance.

Before the traffic light system comes into force on Friday, the Otago Daily Times has learned of three hospitality businesses in Otago that have decided against implementing the vaccine pass and requiring customers and staff to be vaccinated.

This included award-winning Riverstone Kitchen, near Oamaru, which has opted to offer contactless takeaways rather than implement the mandate.

The Fort Enfield, also near Oamaru, and Tarras Country Cafe have both opted to close while accusing the Government of discrimination for implementing the mandate. …

I am double vaccinated and understand the reasoning behind vaccine mandates but I wonder if the government understands the impact and cost.

Many have already paid a very high price as a result of lockdowns.

The number of business closures has exceeded the creation of new firms for the first time in nearly a decade.

Data from Stats NZ and the not-for-profit organisation, The Facts, showed 64,809 firms closed their doors in the year ended February, while 64,488 firms were created, resulting in a net decline of 321 firms – the first since 2012.

Small business consultant and co-founder of The Facts, Geoff Neal, said the sharp increase in closures can only be explained by the pandemic, and the associated lockdowns and travel restrictions.

“There’s a very consistent trend that there’s about 60,000 businesses created per year and about 50,000 close, and this has really bucked the trend of previous years.”

Neal said the data did not specify reasons for closures but it appeared the level of exit sales and owners retiring had remained consistent with prior years.

Closures were most prominent in those sectors most affected by the pandemic, including hospitality, tourism, event, wholesale trade and fitness sectors, he said.

The consequences were devastating for many people’s livelihoods, he said.

“What we are talking about is not just businesses here, these are people, this is a lot of partners, husbands and wives, and families impacted, often multiple generations.

“Every time a business closes that’s lost wealth, health, relationships and sometimes lives as well.” . .

Even if/when we get to green in the traffic light system, restrictions will apply for unvaccinated people and businesses, and the people who own and work for them, will continue to pay a high price.


Rural round-up

16/09/2021

‘I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of’ dairy farmers under siege – Joanne Wane:

Dairying has been so demonised for damaging the planet that the children of some Kiwi farmers have been beaten up at school, writes Joanna Wane. Two families who’ve been on the land for five generations talk back.

Northland dairy farmer Hal Harding describes his daughter, Anna, as “a bit of an eco warrior”. The pair work alongside each other on land south of Dargaville that his early-settler ancestors bought back in 1877. But when Anna moved back home just before Covid struck, after a few years in Europe, she was having serious doubts about whether the life she’d been born into was on the right side of history.

“In the UK, there were plant-based cafes popping up left, right and centre,” she says. “I started to think, ‘Is that what we should be doing? Is dairying bad? Is this stuff all these people are telling me true?’ There were facts for one side, and facts for the other that were just as convincing. But it felt too easy to say, ‘Just eat plants and the planet will be saved.’ When I heard about this whole regenerative farming thing, I was like ‘Thank God’. My gut feeling landed; it felt right.”

The Hardings have hand-planted thousands of native trees to reforest parts of the property and adapted their farming practices to nurture soil health by minimising the use of pesticides and commercial fertilisers. They’re also planning to move away from the traditional grazing regime. For Anna, who’s now 30, it’s about believing that a different model of farming can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, at a time when the agricultural sector is increasingly under siege. . . 

Unskilled pruning of labour force is rotten policy :

The Government’s confirmation of the availability of Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from selected countries is not enough to fix its rotten approach to labour supply, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“Prior to the Delta Covid outbreak the Government announced the availability of RSE workers from certain countries.

“While the Government’s decision to approve some RSE workers may provide some token assistance, it won’t change the fundamental flaws in a labour supply policy that’s rotten to the core.

“For example, we see 15 per cent increases in labour costs in the kiwifruit industry, and an apple industry that still has a gap in the loss of the backpacker labour supply. . . 

Low venison prices leave farmers frustrated – Maja Burry:

A deer industry leader is worried farmers will start exiting the sector if venison prices don’t improve.

Covid-19’s impact on the restaurant trade worldwide has come as a major blow, with deer farmers now facing depressed prices for the second year in a row.

The latest figures from AgriHQ show in July 2021 venison average export values fell short of the five-year average of $13.75/kg by $3.67/kg, and was $1.28/kg below July last year.

Deer Farmers Association chairperson John Somerville said the organisation recently shared the concerns of many farmers in a letter to all of New Zealand’s venison marketing company chief executives. . . 

Meat pushes food prices to fifth successive rise:

Food prices rose 0.3 percent in August 2021 compared with July 2021, mainly influenced by higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish, and restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, Stats NZ said today.

Though modest, August’s movement is the fifth consecutive monthly rise. After adjusting for seasonality, prices rose 0.2 in August 2021.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices were up 1.3 percent in August, mainly influenced by higher prices for roasting pork (up 11 percent), sausages (up 3.5 percent), lamb chops (up 5.4 percent), and porterhouse and sirloin steak (up 2.3 percent). This was partly offset by lower prices for chicken pieces (down 3.3 percent).

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.4 percent, influenced by higher prices for some takeaway food. . .

Why would you want to own a forest? – The Detail:

The forestry industry is beset by supply chain issues, port disruptions, oversupply in China, sky-high shipping rates, the Delta disaster …. and that’s before you even look at the difficulties of cutting down the trees.

On top of that the industry gets a bad rap from the rural sector for being a ‘spray and walk away’ business that’s eating up valuable grazing land, for damage done to the landscape, and for contributing to a lack of employment.

So why would anyone invest in a forest?

Forestry is not for the faint-hearted – but for the persistent, there are good rewards. . . 

Netherlands proposes radical plans to cut livestock numbers by almost a third – Senay Boztas:

Dutch farmers could be forced to sell land and reduce the amount of animals they keep to help lower ammonia pollution.

Dutch politicians are considering plans to force hundreds of farmers to sell up and cut livestock numbers, to reduce damaging ammonia pollution.

After the highest Dutch administrative court found in 2019 that the government was breaking EU law by not doing enough to reduce excess nitrogen in vulnerable natural areas, the country has been battling what it is calling a “nitrogen crisis”.

Daytime speed limits have been reduced to 100kmph (62mph) on motorways to limit nitrogen oxide emissions, gas-guzzling construction projects were halted and a new law pledges that by 2030 half of protected nature areas must have healthy nitrogen levels. . . 

 


Foreseen consequences

12/08/2021

All but two sectors recorded reductions in emissions in the year to March and guess which ones went up:

“The year to March 2021 was one of significant upheaval for our economy and society, and that has flowed through to our greenhouse gas emissions,” environmental economic accounts manager Stephen Oakley said.

“In the last year, we’ve seen both the largest annual decrease on record and the most volatile quarterly movements in emissions.” . .

“Electricity, gas, water, and waste services emissions were up due to the greater reliance on fossil fuel use for electricity generation over the year, as New Zealand experienced dry conditions in hydro-generation areas,” Mr Oakley said. . .

The increase in energy emissions was a foreseen consequence of government policy.

They were warned that killing of domestic gas and coal production with no plan for transmission to renewable energy would result in the need to import coal and that’s what’s happened.

The  policy that was supposed to reduce emissions has led to an increase:

I completely agree with the Energy Minister Megan Woods and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in their assessment of the blackouts on Monday as ‘not good enough,’ National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is a pity Labour is committed to proportioning blame to everyone but themselves. As the Energy Minister, the buck stops with you. New Zealanders need to know that they will not be left without electricity on the coldest night of the year.

“Wages aren’t the only thing Labour is freezing. The power outages left many families with no other way to warm their homes. This Government has, after all, told us that wood burners are bad news for the environment.

“This whole incident reveals the weakness in the Labour’s impractical target of 100 per cent renewable electricity and the spur of the moment gas exploration ban issued by Jacinda Ardern last term.

“We have been importing millions of tonnes of Indonesian coal in order to keep our power sources going instead of using our own natural resources and employing a gradual step down from fossil fuels. . . 

The gas ban was virtue signaling greenwash at its worst.

The damage was not just to the environment but to the whole nuclear moment rhetoric with the reaction to this week’s black out by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Energy Minister Megan Woods. Climate change policy was nowhere to be seen when they were asking why energy companies weren’t burning more coal.

And that is how it will be – keeping the lights on, homes warm and manufacturing going now will always be more important than a cleaner, greener world tomorrow.


Rural round-up

08/08/2021

Labour shortage causes apple grower profits to go rotten :

Fresh produce grower and marketer T&G Global has reported a sharply reduced half year profit as labour shortages left fruit unpicked causing a fall in sales and rise in costs.

The company’s net profit for the six months ended June fell 64 percent to $3.4 million, as revenue dipped 3 percent to $652.1m.

Chief executive Gareth Edgecombe said Covid-19 remained a problem for the business causing uncertainty and volatility.

“Despite this, continuing international supply chain challenges, including disrupted shipping schedules, had more of an impact than we experienced proportionately last year. This affected our ability to get fresh produce to market on-time.” . . 

Competition concerns spook bread wheat growers:

Uncertainty over restrictive new buying practices and competition from the feed wheat industry has seen the nation’s arable growers cut back on sowing milling wheat – the wheat used for bread.

“It’s worrying that buying practices we believe may be anti-competitive, coming at a time when growers are able to receive better prices for animal feed wheat, may result in New Zealand becoming more reliant on imported milling wheat for a staple food,” Federated Farmers Arable Industry Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

Feds are keen to discuss the situation with the Commerce Commission and have also approached Commerce Minister David Clark. . . 

Farmers, Greenpeace look to different stats to measure emissions – Jordan Bond:

Greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming have increased to an all time high, according to Stats NZ.

But emissions from the dairy cows themselves have dropped year-on-year, according to Ministry for the Environment, which the industry says is the best measure to look at. It said statistics which show dairy farming emissions have increased capture too many irrelevant categories.

Stats NZ figures show dairy cattle farming emissions rose 3.18 percent (up 546.2 kt CO2-e to 17,719.4 kt CO2-e) between 2018 and 2019, the most recently reported year. This is the highest figure on record, dating back to at least 2007.

The Stats NZ figures count all emissions produced on dairy farms, regardless of what the emissions stem from. . . 

Mike Chapman wins Bledisloe Cup for horticulture:

Mike Chapman, until recently Chief Executive of Horticulture New Zealand, has won the Bledisloe Cup for significant services to horticulture for more than 20 years. 

HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil, says Mike’s advocacy for the horticultural industry has been untiring, forceful, and balanced.

‘Mike always acts with the aim of achieving the best outcomes for growers and orchardists, and indeed, the New Zealand economy and health of its people through access to nutritious, locally grown food.

‘Mike has firmly stood for growers on key issues such as protecting elite soils, ensuring growers maintain their social license to grow and, hand in hand with that, ensuring growers remain economically viable in a fast-changing environment.’  . .

Several other winners announced at the Horticulture conference:

Several other people important to the New Zealand horticulture industry – in addition to Mike Chapman who was awarded the Bledisloe Cup for horticulture – received awards at the Horticulture Conference gala dinner on 5 August at Mystery Creek.

Environmental Award

Emma and Jay Clarke of Woodhaven Gardens in the Horowhenua won the Environmental Award. 

Woodhaven Gardens are leaders in sustainable growing, investing significantly in reducing environmental impact, adopting a science-led approach that balances conservation with commercial success. . .


Rural round-up

30/07/2021

NZ dairy industry’s biggest challenge is meeting methane gas emission targets – Point of Order:

New Zealand dairy farmers are some of the most efficient producers of dairy milk in the world, and while the past year has been tough for many industries, the overall picture for dairy has been overwhelmingly positive.  Returns to farmers have been at record levels,. along with the economic contribution to NZ.

Dairy  export receipts are  nudging $20bn  a  year, up  from $4.58m  in 2000.

But  now  the  industry  is  facing  its biggest  challenge.

Dairy  cattle are  responsible  for  22% of  NZ’s emissions. Can  NZ  meets  its methane  emission  targets  without  slashing  the   size of the  national  dairy  herd? . . 

Cow methane vaccine could be emissions game-changer :

Mitigating New Zealand’s agricultural emissions is an ongoing process, but the development of a methane vaccine for cows and other livestock could be a game changer.

A homegrown group is on the cusp of a revolutionary result with it.

The vaccine works by triggering the cow’s immune system to create antibodies that stop methane-producing microbes from working, reducing a cow’s gas production and its contributions of greenhouse gases.

Jeremy Hill, chairman of The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, told Seven Sharp the vaccine works the same as most vaccines. . .

Bremworth refuses to back down from its support of New Zealand wool:

A global synthetic flooring manufacturer is threatening legal action against iconic New Zealand wool company, Bremworth, as consumers increasingly opt for wool carpets amidst growing awareness of the link between synthetic carpets and plastic.

As sales of its wool carpets escalate, Bremworth has been targeted with a letter from lawyers acting for Godfrey Hirst, owned by US-based Mohawk Industries which also owns Feltex. Amongst other things, Godfrey Hirst is demanding Bremworth withdraw a number of key claims in its marketing campaign that promotes New Zealand wool, including as a natural, more sustainable alternative to synthetic carpet fibres made from plastic.

The new CEO of Bremworth, Greg Smith, said: “We see this legal threat as a distraction and an attempt to stifle legitimate competition and consumer choice. We won’t shy away from promoting the virtues of wool and countering misconceptions in the market to enable customers to make well informed flooring choices – and we firmly stand by our decision to focus on wool and natural fibres.” . .

Project explores wool innovation :

A New Zealand research project has unveiled a suite of innovative wool products with global export potential.

The Wool Research Organisation of NZ (WRONZ) showcased the products at an event to celebrate the achievements from its New Uses for Strong Wool programme, supported by research, industry and funding partners.

The unique wool particles, powders and pigments developed have global export potential for applications as diverse as cosmetics, printing, luxury goods and personal care.

A commercial development company, Wool Source, has been formed to develop the new products and assess market demand for the strong wool innovation. . .

Primary products push exports to a new high :

New Zealand exports reached a new high in June 2021, off the back of record export values for logs and beef, Stats NZ said today.

In June 2021, the value of all goods exports rose $871 million (17 percent) from June 2020 to $6.0 billion. The previous high for exports was in May 2021 ($5.9 billion).

Exports of logs and wood reached a new high, up $105 million (23 percent) from June 2020 to $561 million in June 2021. This increase was driven by logs. Logs’ export value rose $87 million to reach record levels, driven by an increase in unit values (up 26 percent). . . 

A good year for wine lovers – latest and greatest on show at the New World Wine Awards:

Wine drinkers have lots to look forward to as wine show season gets underway and wines from some of New Zealand’s latest and greatest vintages are put to the taste test.

The New World Wine Awards judging starts today in Marlborough, with an independent panel of experts spending three full days pouring over more than 1,100 wine entries. After swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting, their scores will whittle the field down to the best of the best: the Top 50 wines that will be available for $25 or less in New World supermarkets nationwide.

The majority of the entries will be wines that were harvested and made in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – each a year hailed for its unique combination of ideal growing conditions and grape quality. . .


Rural round-up

10/05/2021

Fonterra boss Miles Hurrell says turning around the dairy giant has not been smooth sailing – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell faced a daunting task when he was asked to take the helm of the country’s largest company in 2018, but he is getting the dairy giant in shape.

The co-operative owned by its 10,000 farmer suppliers and supporting some 20,000 employees was heading for its first annual loss since its creation in 2001 after a period of big expansion failed to deliver the promised profits and left it saddled with too much debt.

Hurrell, an 18-year veteran of Fonterra and head of the Farm Source unit that worked with farmers, talked with his wife and a few close friends who backed him to take on the challenge of what was looking like a tough couple of years.

“I was under no illusion at that point in time about what needed to be done,” he says. “Clearly we needed to go about doing things differently.” . . 

Living the good life after ‘bovis’– Sally Rae:

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for South Canterbury farmers Kelly and Morgan Campbell since their cattle were the first in New Zealand to be depopulated due to Mycoplasma bovis. But they have come out the other side with a new business venture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

On a lifestyle block in rural South Canterbury, Kelly and Morgan Campbell are living the good life.

Residing in their dream home, surrounded by hundreds of happy hens, their seemingly idyllic existence belies the roller-coaster ride they have lived the past few years.

Morgan Campbell arguably summed it up best by saying: “it’s a crazy story … with lots of kinks and curves … along the way. Dead cows, IVF and chickens.” . . 

Sheep numbers plummet by 800,000 in a year – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s sheep numbers plummeted by almost a million in 2020, new data shows.

Figures from Stats NZ put the sheep population at 26 million for the year ended June 2020, a fall of 800,000 from the previous year and a far cry from the peak of 70 million sheep in 1982.

Stats NZ agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said widespread drought conditions and feed shortages were a major factor in the 3 per cent fall.

“Hawke’s Bay had the largest decrease, with the total number of sheep falling by 12 per cent (346,000) from the previous year to a total of 2.5 million as at June 2020.” . . 

Too many customers, not enough grapes, Marlborough winemakers struggling to match demand – Hugo Cameron:

Key export markets are thirsty for Marlborough wine, but low grape yields mean that demand is outstripping supply.

Frost and cold weather early in the season led to smaller harvests from many vineyards in the area and the smaller crop could leave some wineries facing tough decisions on who they can supply over the next year, industry group Wine Marlborough says

Caythorpe Family Estate owner Simon Bishell said the grape yield was about 25 to 30 percent down on the normal volume.

The business had seen plenty of fresh interest, but supplying those new customers after a slim harvest was a challenge, Bishell said. . . 

100 years on the land – Shawn McAvinue:

The Frame family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Burnbank in Teviot Valley. Shawn McAvinue talks to Bill and Gwenda Frame about how four generations have transformed the land from an unfenced block covered in gorse and rabbits to a productive sheep and beef farm.

A blanket of snow covered the land when Bill Frame was born on the sheep and beef farm Burnbank in Teviot Valley, on New Year’s Day in 1932.

When the snow melted, rabbits covered the farm in Dumbarton, near Ettrick.

As the baby boy grew, so did the rabbit population, and a dream was born. . . 

Meet challenges head-on says Beef Achiever Tracey Hayes – Shan Goodwin:

IF there is piece of advice Tracey Hayes believes has the power to guarantee a prosperous future for every sector of Australia’s beef industry, it’s the idea of never shying from a challenge.

Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s difficult, regardless of how insurmountable it may appear. Instead focus on precisely that.

These were the words from Ms Hayes after she was named the 2021 Queensland Country Life Beef Achiever at Beef Australia in Rockhampton last week.

Ms Hayes is an agribusiness executive with a beef production background and a down-to-earth persona that has made her one of the most liked, and respected, identities in the cattle game. . . 


Rural round-up

28/02/2021

Meat processing industry supports move away from coal, but concerned about livestock cuts:

New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry is generally supportive of the Climate Change Commission’s draft report and its focus on reducing the use of fossil fuels but is concerned about the stated 15 per cent reduction in sheep, cattle and dairy numbers.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, says red meat processors and exporters are committed to reducing and eventually eliminating the use of coal, although achieving the commission’s 2037 target will be difficult.

“We do need a fair and just transition away from coal to ensure jobs and livelihoods are not put at risk.  However, our chief concern is any drop in livestock numbers may jeopardise the viability of some processing plants and jobs in rural communities.

“Meat processors rely on throughput of livestock to create efficiencies of scale and be profitable. The commission estimates that without major on-farm practice change and new technologies, a 15 per cent reduction in livestock numbers will be required to achieve the targets by 2030. This would have a serious impact on the ability of many processors to keep operating. . . 

Meat industry calls for Covid vaccine priority :

The meat processing and export industry wants its workforce to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the industry was considered high-risk, due to the large numbers of people working closely together.

Countries such as Australia, the US and the UK have all had Covid-19 outbreaks at meat processing facilities.

“We saw a significant increase in the spread of Covid in that workforce, which led to the closure of plants,” Karapeeva said. . . 

Time for UK to ‘walk the talk’ – Todd Muller:

One of life’s commercial shibboleths is that one should be wary of going into business with close friends because emotion is always involved.

But shibboleths are meant to be broken – as we have proven with our dear friend Australia over 40 years. You can have remarkably close economic relations with mates, and it can work.

You have to have a unifying idea (in our cases, closer economic integration and freedom of movement) and the strength of relationship to say it like it is.

So, I believe it’s time to address the elephant in the trading room. The eye-watering gap between the UK’s rhetoric on free trade and its current approach to NZ.  . .

 

Fonterra details how farmers will be paid for sustainable, high value milk :

Fonterra has released the details of how it will pay farmers for producing sustainable, high quality milk as part of The Co-operative Difference framework.

From 1 June 2021, up to 10 cents of each farm’s milk payment will be determined by the farm’s sustainability credentials and milk quality.

“Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s best in these areas and we’re really proud of that. The Co-operative Difference payment is another way we can recognise farmers, while also supporting our strategy to grow the value of our New Zealand milk by responding to increasing demand around the world for sustainably produced dairy,” says Richard Allen, Group Director, Farm Source. . . 

Volume of wine on the rise :

The total volume of wine available for consumption in New Zealand rose in 2020, Stats NZ said today.

“The volume of wine available to the New Zealand market was up 4.3 percent in 2020, in contrast to falls in each of the previous two years,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

“This year’s wine volume available to the domestic market is nearly 113 million litres, surpassing the previous high of 2017.”

The volume of wine made from grapes rose 4.9 percent to 94 million litres, following falls of 2.7 percent in 2019, and 2.6 percent in 2018. . . 

FarmIQ adds value to compliance:

The demands on farmers to become more compliant have grown significantly in only five short years, with expectations from the public, processors and government all requiring greater accountability for how resources of land, water and people are managed.

Regardless of what government is running New Zealand, it is more likely than not the regulations proposed or in place around water and land management are not going to change significantly. New Zealand’s need to stake its reputation as a food producer delivering high quality, sustainable products requires regulatory effort to deliver on that promise.

As the demands around compliance have grown, the ability to capture data that proves a farmer is compliant in areas of environmental management, health and safety and ultimately green-house gas emissions has never been greater. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/02/2021

Study: Farmers help identify solutions to reduce farm footprint :

New DairyNZ research shows farmers can identify ways to increase efficiency and reduce environmental footprint – but there will be challenges for some.

The Greenhouse Gas Partnership Farms research project worked with farmers to identify and model how their farms might reduce both nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Making these gains will be the first steps as farmers work towards the government’s 2030 climate change targets,” said DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr Bruce Thorrold.

For some farms, the research identified options that offered lower footprint and higher profit. For already highly efficient farms, footprint gains tended to come at a cost to profitability. . .

You can read more about the study here.

Fonterra narrows 2021 earnings guidance:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has lifted the bottom end of its 2021 forecast earnings guidance and narrowed the range to 25-35 cents per share, from 20-35 cents per share.

“That is why we have come out today with narrower forecast earnings range of 25-35 cents per share, which still reflects the usual uncertainties we face over the course of any given year.

“Despite the challenges and flow on effects of COVID-19, the team have remained committed and disciplined. There has been strong demand for the Co-op’s New Zealand milk and we’ve continued to get product to market.” . .

Dairy and meat drive large fall in exports:

The value of total goods exports fell 10 percent in January 2021 from January 2020, to $4.2 billion, led by falls in dairy and meat, Stats NZ said today.

“The fall in exports of $486 million was the largest year-on-year fall in exports since March of 2016,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

The fall in exports was led by a drop in dairy products with milk powder, down $97 million, butter, down $62 million, and whey, down $31 million from January 2020.

“The drop in dairy exports was partly due to a fall in quantity for whey products to one of New Zealand’s top export trading markets, the United States. Exports of dairy were the largest fall for the US in January 2021, specifically exports of whey,” Mr Allen said. . .

Kiwifruit harvest taster day registrations open:

An initiative giving people an insight into working in the kiwifruit industry over harvest is about to kick off.

The initiative – led by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) and funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) – sets its sights on encouraging jobseekers to take up employment in the kiwifruit industry by providing a free harvest taster day for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. It follows NZKGI’s successful winter pruning and summer-work taster programmes in 2020.

NZKGI Education Co-ordinator Di Holloway says the kiwifruit industry needs a workforce of more than 23,000 people from March to July. . . 

NZ challenged to buck trend on climate conservatisml – Marc Daalder:

Lord Deben, chair of the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Committee, says New Zealand has a unique opportunity to lead the world on reducing emissions, Marc Daalder reports

New Zealand’s attempts to treat methane from cows differently from other greenhouse gases puts its international reputation on climate change at risk, but if it can jump that hurdle, the country has the opportunity to help lead the world on emissions reductions, the chairman of the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Committee tells Newsroom.

Lord Deben, formerly a longtime Conservative Party MP and agriculture minister with the given name John Gummer before being made Lord Deben in 2010, spoke to Newsroom as part of a “virtual visit” to New Zealand. He also addressed environment spokespeople from different parties in Parliament and spoke at the National Party’s summit for its environmental wing, the BlueGreens. . . 

WayBeyond offers agriculture industry alternative to Microsoft :

New Zealand Tech innovator WayBeyond is taking on Microsoft’s Power BI and Excel products to give growers an alternative solution for integrating all their business data into one digital platform.

“Historically the technology to manage your data was limited. Growers have gotten used to spreadsheets and other historical tools, however solutions now exist that are specifically created for agriculture and can address some of the biggest pain points – access to real time data and everything in one central view. This is what Data Studio now offers,” says Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Morgan.

“Being agriculture focused means we can have a relationship with our customers supporting them in a way these generic products can’t. We’re offering an easy-to-use option without the need to be a data analyst or spend countless hours pulling information together manually into a spreadsheet.” . .


Rural round-up

16/12/2020

Agriculture minister warned of impact of Covid-19 on industry’s future – Eric Frykberg:

Minister of agriculture Damien O’Connor has been has warned that the primary sector faces strong headwinds as the impact of Covid-19 lingers on into coming years.

In its traditional briefing to the incoming minister, the Ministry for Primary Industries said the global economy was forecast to decline by 4.4 percent this year.

Although agriculture withstood the impact of Covid-19 better than most sectors and enjoyed growth of 4.6 percent annually between 2010 and 2020, it would be exposed to weak demand from a nervous world economy, and some sectors were likely to struggle financially.

This problem would be especially severe as governments around the world eased back on fiscal and monetary stimulation, thereby reducing the buffer between ordinary businesses and general economic conditions. . . 

Government warned about potential spread of wilding pines – Eric Frykberg:

The government has been warned that without controls, wilding pines could cover one fifth of all New Zealand’s land area by 2035.

The warning came in a briefing to the incoming minister of biosecurity, Damien O’Connor.

These briefings come after every election and alert an incoming minister to the main problems that must be dealt with.

The briefing from Biosecurity New Zealand, which is part of MPI, said some progress had been made in dealing with wilding pines. . . 

1980s downturn recorded in book – Linda Clarke:

Mid Canterbury farmers today are among the most productive on the planet, but 35 years ago they were angry and bitter about government policies that were driving some from their land.

The rural downturn of the 1980s had a big impact on the district’s farmers and their families. The businesses of Ashburton suffered, too.

Emotional and hard decisions made then continue to have ramifications for some families today, says first-time author Alison Argyle, who has published a book about the downturn and its resulting grief, stress and challenges.

She spent nearly three years interviewing 40 farmers, workers, farm consultants, bankers, social workers and others and has woven their stories into a 130-page book called The Half Banana Years. . .

Strawberry prices squished as exports drop :

Strawberry prices fell 43 percent in November 2020 as COVID-19 border restrictions reduced exports, Stats NZ said today.

Soaring air freight costs since COVID-19 border closures has made exporting products much more expensive, and a shortage of international workers in the fruit picking industry has meant that growers can’t pick their fields fast enough, meaning that many berries are too ripe for exporting.

“With less exports there is more supply available for domestic consumption, causing lower prices,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.

Strawberry prices were an average price of $3.45 per 250g punnet in November, down from $6.04 in October. . . 

Lamb numbers up, despite a challenging year for farmers – Bonnie Flaws:

Despite tough droughts and meat processing restrictions as a result of Covid-19, farmers have achieved a near record number of lambs this season.

For every 100 ewes, an average of 130 lambs were born compared with an average of 124 over the prior 10 years, Beef and Lamb New Zealand says.

Its Lamb Crop Outlook report for 2020, which forecasts the next year’s exports, showed the total number of lambs born this year was only slightly less than in spring 2019 when 131 lambs were born for every 100 ewes. . .

What does resilience really mean? – Lorraine Gordon:

Story brought to you by THE REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE ALLIANCE and FARMING TOGETHER PROGRAM.

In November 2019, off the back of the toughest drought in Australian history, my family farm at Ebor was ‘smashed’ by the Ebor fire at one end of the property and the East Cattai fire at the other end.

This took out approximately 20kms of boundary fence and $700,000 in infrastructure. These catastrophic fires completely devastated our landscape in a few hours.

Come March, we had just re-opened our farm tourism and function centre, when COVID-19 hit. This shut down our tourism business for much of the remaining year.

This is a familiar 2020 story for many Australians. It initiated a deep dive on my behalf into what makes people and landscapes truly resilient. . . 


Rural round-up

03/12/2020

Farm group challenges MPs on climate change emergency:

A group of farmers and scientists set up to present facts on ruminant Methane are challenging MP’s about the popular claim that 48% of NZ’s emissions that constitute the emergency come from agriculture. The group have told MPs that the Ministry of the Environment has fabricated evidence on climate to support claims of deteriorating weather resulting from climate change. They are misleading the public and falsely blaming farmers to concoct an emergency.

The letter also claims that the natural Carbon/Methane cycle is ignored to make it look like farmers are responsible for a much higher level of emissions than is actually occurring.

F.A.R.M.’s Chairman, Robin Grieve said, “Farms are utilising as much CO2 as they produce when they grow grass and sequester CO2 in the soil. While the country’s livestock numbers are stable, as they have been for a decade, no additional Methane is entering the atmosphere so no new warming is occurring.  . .

Largest drop in terms of trade in a decade as dairy export prices sour:

Lower export prices for dairy, meat, and logs in the September 2020 quarter led to the biggest drop in terms of trade since June 2009, Stats NZ said today.

Export prices fell in the September 2020 quarter, down 8.3 percent from its highest ever level in June 2020. This is the third largest fall in export prices since the series began. Import prices fell 3.7 percent, resulting in a terms of trade fall of 4.7 percent.

The terms of trade measures the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and is an indicator of the state of the overall economy. A fall in the terms of trade means the country can buy fewer imports for the same amount of exports.

“Export prices for dairy products fell 12 percent overall in the quarter,” business prices manager Bryan Downes said. . . 

Cheesemakers encouraged to enter Champions of Cheese Awards:

While most Kiwis are considering what local cheese to enjoy this festive season, NZ Cheesemakers are being encouraged to enter the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021.

Entry opens on Tuesday 1 December and entries will be accepted until Wednesday 3 February. Judging for the 19th NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021 will be held at Ignite Colleges on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 February 2021. Medal winners will be named on Tuesday 16 March with the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner in Hamilton on Wednesday 5 May 2021.

The Awards are owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) and NZSCA chair Neil Willman said they celebrate the best NZ cheese as well as helping improve quality by providing benchmarking and feedback to cheesemakers. He says the Awards play a key part in the Association’s promotion of local cheese. . . 

Venture Taranaki report shows 207,000 hectares of Taranaki land suitable for horticulture:

Venture Taranaki has released an assessment on Taranaki’s land and climate, which provides an overview of our region’s growing capability, and the opportunity to help meet long-term goals of building diversity, value, sustainability, and market and supply-chain resilience.

A key finding of the released Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment is that there are around 207,000 hectares of land potentially suitable for generic horticulture within the boundaries of the Taranaki Regional Council.

The eight mainstream crops covered in the assessment include apples, kiwifruit, avocados, blueberries, hops, hemp and CBD cannabis, hazelnuts and walnuts, potatoes, and wine grapes. . . 

MPI calls for proposals to research regenerative farming practices:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is calling for proposals for projects that will investigate regenerative farming practices.

Funding for successful proposals is available through MPI’s Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) co-investment fund. The fund aims to have projects under way by mid-2021.

“There is increasing interest from farmers and the wider community about regenerative agricultural practices, but definitions for regenerative agriculture can vary dramatically,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director Investment Programmes.

“We’re looking to define what regenerative agriculture means from a New Zealand perspective, and develop a sound evidence base to test and confirm what works in our soils, climates, and farming systems.” . . 

Australian agriculture already where it needs to be – Georgie Somerset:

Against all the odds stacked against us – drought, floods, bushfires, COVID, and disruptions to international trade – Australian farmers produce world-class food and fibre for the rest of the country and the world to enjoy.

We do it by caring for our two greatest assets (besides our people): our land, and our livestock. To do otherwise undermines everything about farming itself.

We need our land kept in the best condition possible; we need happy, healthy animals to ensure we deliver the best quality produce. It doesn’t work, at least not very well, any other way.

As an industry, we have already reduced CO2 emissions, down more than 55 per cent since 2005, increased documented biosecurity plans for cattle properties, up from 25 to 90 per cent, achieved 99 per cent compliance with Australian standards for chemical residues, decreased our water usage, and improved the use of pain relief for livestock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

21/11/2020

European potato ‘dumping’ hurting– Toni Williams:

An influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses.

Hewson Farms, in Mid Canterbury, grows on average around 350ha of potatoes a year as part of its operation. It grows a large tonnage for McCain Foods, but it also grows onions, wheat, ryegrass, clover, hybrid vegetable seed, seed carrots, beetroot, hybrid rape kale and linseed.

Director Ross Hewson said the influx of European fries into New Zealand, as shown in New Zealand trade figures, resulted in more than 40 containers of product flooding into the domestic market.

There was an even larger influx into Australia, he said. . . 

Lewis Road: a tale of two butters – NIkki Mandow:

The (true) story of how a former global advertising guru with a passion for making patisserie and a former international banker and property investor with a passion for dung beetles may just have produced that rare prize – a New Zealand value-add dairy export brand

Anyone shopping at the gourmet Central Market grocery store in Austin, Texas last year might have been surprised to know that the middle aged man handing them a slice of bread and butter to taste wasn’t a down-on-his-luck casual retail worker, but a high net worth Kiwi businessman on a mission to reform New Zealand dairy.

Former Saatchi & Saatchi global boss Peter Cullinane, better known in New Zealand as the guy that sparked that chocolate milk madness in 2014, was accompanied on those trial-by-in-store-tastings by his Lewis Road colleague and company general manager Nicola O’Rourke.  . .

2020 Agricultural Journalism Awards:

Winners of the 2020 NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists & Communicators Awards were announced at the eighteenth anniversary dinner, sponsored by Ravensdown, in Wellington on Friday 16 October.

Following are the award-winning entries. Most are linked to online items, but some are in pdf format requiring Acrobat Reader.

Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award

This award is for excellence in journalism in the primary sector. . . 

Tech-Talk – supporting supply chain transparency :

Consumers are increasingly calling for more transparency within supply chains and University of Canterbury PhD student Pouyan Jahanbin wants to do something about it.

Jahanbin knew that issues such as sustainability, child-labour and animal welfare were impacting consumer choices so he decided to develop a tool which will give people information about products at the point of sale, in real time.

Part of his research in Information Systems (IS) aims to comprehend the needs of all participants in the food supply-chain in order to develop an app that allows suppliers, growers, packers and distributors to share product information with consumers.

Pouyan says using blockchain technologies will improve trust and transparency of information and make verifying and sharing it easy. . . 

Producer prices whey down for dairy manufacturers:

Prices paid to dairy product manufacturers fell sharply in the September 2020 quarter, reversing gains in the March and June quarters, Stats NZ said today.

Despite falling 13 percent in the September quarter, the price level remains relatively high, similar to the highs observed in 2013.

“In the three months to September, prices fell for a variety of dairy products traded in the Global Dairy Trade auction, dipping from higher levels seen earlier in the year,” business prices delivery manager Bryan Downes said.  . . 

Significant Queenstown station up for sale:

One of New Zealand’s most prominent alpine properties has been listed on the open market for the first time in 40 years.

Halfway Bay Station – a phenomenal 18,000-ha station located on the shores of Queenstown’s majestic Lake Wakatipu – is now up for sale through premium real estate agency New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty (NZSIR). A large and unique landholding of this scale is likely to receive offers in excess of $50 million.

NZSIR sales associates Matt Finnigan and Russell Reddell say they are anticipating interest in the property from Kiwi residents and syndicates, expats and internationals. . .


100 years of stats

24/10/2020

StatsNZ has illustrated some of the changes in spending through the decades:

 


Two parents better than one

15/09/2020

Is anyone surprised by this?

Sole parents of dependent children report lower levels of wellbeing across a range of measures, Stats NZ said today.

Data from a new supplement, added to the June 2020 quarter of the household labour force survey, shows that 15 percent of New Zealanders aged 18 years or older rated their overall life satisfaction as low (a score of 0–6 on a scale of 0–10, where 0 is completely dissatisfied and 10 is completely satisfied). However, nearly twice as many sole parents gave this low rating (27 percent), compared with only 12 percent of partnered parents to dependent children. The majority (83 percent) of these sole parents were women.

“The lower life satisfaction ratings illustrate the difficulties many sole parents face across a number of measures that are key to a person’s subjective wellbeing,” wellbeing and housing statistics manager Dr Claire Bretherton said. “Historically, people’s experience in income, health, loneliness, and housing quality had a strong relationship with overall life satisfaction, and sole parents fared poorly across a number of these areas.”

Eighteen percent of sole parents stated that they did not have enough money to meet everyday needs. This compared with only 5.2 percent of partnered parents and 6.2 percent of those who were not a parent to a dependent child. A further 43 percent of sole parents stated they had only just enough money.

In addition, one-quarter of sole parents had received help in the form of food, clothes, or money from an organisation, such as a church or foodbank, at least once in the previous year. Of those who received this form of help, two-thirds had done so more than once in the 12-month period.

Sole parents experienced higher levels of poor mental wellbeing, as measured by the World Health Organization’s WHO-5 Well-being Index (with poor mental wellbeing classified as having a weighted score out of 100 of 51 or below). One-third of sole parents, compared with 20 percent of partnered parents, and 17 percent of those without dependent children, were identified as having poor mental wellbeing using this index. Seventeen percent of sole parents also rated their overall general health as fair or poor, compared with only 8.3 percent of partnered parents.

Feelings of loneliness were also higher, with 35 percent of sole parents having felt lonely at least some of the time in the last four weeks. One in nine reported having felt lonely most or all the time. 

When compared with the total population, sole parents were nearly twice as likely to have experienced discrimination in the last 12 months; less likely to report feeling safe or very safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark; and more likely to report lower levels of trust.

Housing quality was also more of an issue for sole parents, with the proportions reporting a major problem with dampness or mould and with heating or keeping their house warm in winter around three times those of other New Zealanders.

“Housing quality is an important factor influencing both mental and physical health outcomes of household members,” Dr Bretherton said. “Housing conditions, and the neighbourhood in which a child is raised, have been shown to affect a child’s overall wellbeing.”

“All of these difficulties impact on not just the individual themselves but also their wider family,” Dr Bretherton said. Just under one-quarter of sole parents gave a low rating (0–6 out of 10) when asked about their family wellbeing, compared with 10 percent of partnered parents of dependent children.

Our children were young during the ag-sag.

In response to that my farmer was working long hours and often away from our farm leaving me as a semi-solo mother.

Parenting young children is demanding, it was hard enough doing it part-time by myself. It must be so much more challenging for those who are full-time sole parents.

Lindsay Mitchell has written several well -researched posts on the benefits of two-parent families. In her latest she notes:

I am constantly frustrated by data limitations because relationship status between parents, and parents and children in some cases, is ignored.

I am not a political conservative. But science finds committed parents (mostly manifested through a marriage) stay together more than any other co-producers of children. Their children demonstrably benefit from this. Most sociologists – and governments by extension –  are impervious though.

That stats are clear, children in two parent families generally have better outcomes than those raised by sole parents.

Stats NZ”s findings on the wellbeing of sole parents shows that adults score worse on wellbeing indicators when there’s only one parent in the home too.

That isn’t an argument for people to stay in abusive or dysfunctional relationships.

It is recognising that it is better for children and parents if there are two adults in the family, sharing the joys, the trials and the day to day ups and downs of parenting.


Rural round-up

14/08/2020

The ugly side of forestry clearly exposed for all to see – John Jackson:

I was horrified at the results of a weather event in the East Coast of the North Island on July 18. Forestry – the catch-cry of the current Government for all pastoral ills and the excesses of our modern lifestyles – stood out like an old man caught with pants down.

In this case, obese, ugly and exposed in all areas, which when clothed is touted as a saviour.

The hillsides where pines had been harvested, recently disturbed and long since naked of pasture, had let hundreds of tonnes of topsoil into the creeks below and onwards in a watery slurry out into the Pacific. Those areas where the slash and logs were contained mid river, turned into massive, festering, ugly boils on the landscape – often against bridges, culverts or anything that impeded their progress seaward.

Out around Tolaga Bay, and up the east coast, the carnage was truly gut wrenching.

New venture to train women in agriculture – Annette Scott:

Southern girl Laura Douglas is bubbling with passion and enthusiasm as she heads up an exciting new venture aimed at giving women a leg up into New Zealand’s agricultural industry. She shares her story with Annette Scott.

Laura Douglas grew up on a deer and sheep farm in Southland.

She always loved farming but admits she ignored her gut passion growing up and pursued a career in the corporate world. . . 

Opportunities for New Zealand goat milk products: what are they and how can we win? – Tim Fulton:

A report released recently by The Nutrition Bureau’s Jan Hales, who engaged me to help with the preparation of the material for the project team.

We are pleased to advise that the report “Opportunities for New Zealand Goat Milk Products: what are they and how can we win?” is now available to New Zealand businesses through our website https://sheepandgoatmilk.nz/resources/

This report follows a 14-month Provincial Growth funded project that looked at the opportunities for developing New Zealand’s sheep and goat milk industries to a scale that could bring significant economic benefit to our regional communities.

It includes information on the estimated size, growth and profit potential of consumer ready products sold in five export markets, and the processing infrastructure and farm supply requirements to meet forecast demand, as well as recommendations on how New Zealand can win. . . 

Vegetable prices continue to grow:

Courgettes and cucumbers reached record-high prices in July 2020, rising more than 30 percent in the month, as Queensland imports continued to be banned, Stats NZ said today.

Fruit and vegetable prices were up 9.8 percent in July 2020.

Courgette prices rose 38 percent to a weighted average price of $29.60 per kilo, up from a previous record high of $21.42 per kilo in June. Some reports showed courgettes prices reaching up to $38.99 per kilo (see Would you pay $39 a kilo for zucchini?).

Imports of fresh courgettes, cucumbers, and other cucurbit from Queensland have been banned this year because of a plant virus. . .

LIC wins ‘Choice’ award for being a top employer:

New Zealand’s leading agri-tech and herd improvement cooperative has today been named as a 2020 Employer of Choice through a survey conducted by HRD New Zealand.

The latest accolade from HRD (Human Resources Director) comes six months after LIC won both the Organisational Change/Development and Best Wellness Programme Awards at the 2020 NZ HR awards in February beating out Coca Cola and Xero in the latter category for the wellness programme title.

Now the cooperative, which employers over 750 full-time staff and nearly 2,000 seasonal staff across New Zealand, has become the only agriculture entity to win an Employer of Choice Award from HRD which focuses on analysis of the HR profession across not only New Zealand but also Australia, Canada, America and Asia. . . 

Lanaco founder advises on mask wear and care and says not all masks are made the same:

In response to Government Covid-19 announcement last night and following its launch at Parliament last week, NZ mask filter manufacturer Lanaco’s CEO Nick Davenport is available to demonstrate and discuss mask availability, wear and care.Lanaco supplies filters to more than 30 mask producers in New Zealand.

Lanaco started making Helix filters to specific accredited standards over five years ago, using a high-tech application of NZ wool, for other people to use to make masks and other respiratory devices.

In the past four months, Lanaco has developed formulations for masks to AS/NZS 1716 P2 (NZ’s national gold standard) and N95 (The USA gold standard) and makes masks to these formulations.

In order to sell them to these standards, the devices must be independently tested, and the manufacturing plant audited. The latter process takes months and is a very stringent process. . . 


Pushing the economy off a cliff

29/05/2020

New Zealand has achieved a new and most unwelcome record number of job losses:

Job numbers fell by a record 37,500 in April 2020, as COVID-19 effects and restricted trading began to impact on the economy, Stats NZ said today.

In seasonally adjusted terms, total filled jobs fell 1.7 percent in April 2020 compared with March 2020, when it was flat.

April’s fall is the largest in percentage terms and by number since the filled jobs series began more than 20 years ago, in 1999.

“With the country in lockdown throughout most of April 2020, the impact of COVID-19 is now being seen in falling job numbers,” economic statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

“Non-essential businesses closed during the lockdown, though some people were able to work from home.”

The government decreed what were essential businesses and permitted them to operate rather than allowing any that could operate safely to do so and this sharp number of job losses is the result.

Stats NZ calculates filled jobs by averaging weekly jobs paid during the month, based on tax data. Filled jobs include jobs paid by employers who are being subsidised by the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.

“While a fall in filled jobs does not necessarily mean employment has ceased in all cases, we saw a rise of over 30,000 people claiming the government’s Jobseeker Support benefit in April,” Ms Chapman said. . .

This month’s figures could be even worse with more than 6,500 job losses this week.

The record number of job losses adds credence to Adam Creighton, writing in The Australian, who says no national leader has been as feted as Jacinda Ardern during this pandemic. But while she might have popular support, the facts are she is pushing the NZ economy off a cliff.

New Zealand’s economy is in strife. Without major change, our constitutional cousin is in decline. Its public finances are in tatters, its biggest export, tourism, has been obliterated — Air New Zealand announced 4000 job losses this week — and New Zealand police now can enter people’s homes without a warrant.

“New Zealand is going backwards, falling behind the vast ­majority of our OECD partners in virtually every social and economic measure that matters,” said Roger Douglas, a former New Zealand Labour treasurer and the famed architect of Rogernomics.

New Zealand ranks fourth last in the OECD for labour productivity growth, and last for multi-factor productivity growth, according to economist Michael Reddell, based on OECD data. Health and education are gobbling up more of the budget as the population ages, with less and less to show for it.

That was happening anyway and has been exacerbated by the harder by the lockdown that used the arbitrary criteria of necessary rather than safe in deeming what we can and can’t do.

The country’s Massey University reckons economic activity will tank 16 per cent in the second quarter, while government forecasts pencil in a 4.6 per cent decline this year ahead of an 8.2 per cent rebound in 2022.

“I doubt the economy will bounce back as the government hopes; and the Treasury forecasts, as bad as they are, will prove optimistic,” former NZ Treasury secretary Graham Scott said.

In one year, New Zealand has blown 30 years of hard-fought ­fiscal rectitude. Its public debt will explode from the equivalent of 19 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 54 per cent by 2022, on the government’s own figures.

Successive governments have been criticised for the 30 years of hard-fought fiscal rectitude. How much worse the current situation would be had they not followed that path,

Scott said expanding the deficit, expected to blow out to 10 per cent this year, was the right thing to do. “But looking further out, comparisons with other countries, such as the US and UK, are no basis to justify our large debt ratios; we’re a small, open economy with vulnerable export industries,” he said, noting the share of exports in GDP had been falling steadily for nine years.

That makes Labour’s ban on oil and gas exploration all the more bizarre. With 0.3 per cent of global GDP, New Zealand can only shoot itself in the foot by shunning fossil fuels. The Prime Minister and Finance Minister, who have not worked in the private sector, spruik the totems of modern left governments — renewable energy, trees, higher tax, equality — but without much to show for it. Plans for a billion trees and 100,000 houses have come close to almost naught, and a capital-gains tax was dumped. Labour made a song and dance about reducing child poverty too, but on six out of nine measures tracked by Statistics New Zealand it is unchanged or worse since 2017, including the share of children living in “material hardship”, which has risen to 13.4 per cent. . .

This column had attracted 102 comments when I read it, a couple of days ago including this gem from Alfred:

The world doesn’t need more examples of the progressive social direction of NZ so we can learn from their utter failure sad as it is. She’s all hat and no cattle, just a charismatic executioner of her country’s future prospects. 

Jacinda Ardern has unprecedented praise from around the world for her response to crisis but before the Covid-19 response the government she leads had made little or no headway on its key policy planks.

She, and they, have taken the praise for dealing with the health crisis and must take responsibility for the economic one we now face.

But given they didn’t manage to deliver on their promises in normal times they can’t be trusted to come up with, and deliver on, policies to reverse the economic catastrophe for which their insistence on a harder and more prolonger lockdown are partially responsible.


Rural round-up

22/05/2020

RA 20 virus danger to NZ farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation. It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus, which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long-term than COVID-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA 20, but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. RA 20 is believed to have originated in the Great Plains in America. It quickly spread to the Australian Outback and then hopped the ditch to New Zealand.

Interestingly, like Covid-19, it is particularly severe in those weakened by other complicating factors. Some victims are known to have no knowledge of the important values of science, evidence, logic and reason. Another cohort includes those who know little about the principles of soil fertility, pasture management and animal husbandry.  . . 

Film gets monkey off his back – David Anderson:

A young Kiwi, Los Angeles-based, filmmaker has made good use of the lockdown period to help farmers battling with mental health issues.

Twenty-year-old Hunter Williams has shot and produced a short video that addresses the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector. The short film encourages rural people to talk about the struggles they may be facing and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Williams told Rural News that he’d had his own mental health issues growing up and the film was something that was close to his heart. The eight minute documentary is called ‘The Monkeys on Our Backs’. Various farmers and organisations have been involved in the production, including the Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong.

Williams was raised in Hawkes Bay and comes from a large farming family. 

Venison marketers building on-line and retail sales :

Marketers of New Zealand farm-raised venison are making a concerted push to build sales through on-line outlets and through gourmet retailers. This gourmet product, normally sold mainly through food service distributors to chefs, has been particularly hard-hit by the sound of restaurant doors slamming shut around the globe.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says Covid-related restaurant shut-downs created a crisis for their food service suppliers and the farmers that supply them. Demand from chefs for NZ farm-raised venison – one of the industry’s greatest assets – overnight became a vulnerability.

“Fortunately our venison export marketers and/or their overseas partners already had small retail and on-line marketing programmes. They are now putting a lot of energy into generating more sales through these channels, while looking out for the green shoots of recovery in food service.” . . 

Potato prices reach all-time high in April:

Rising prices for potatoes, soft drinks (large bottles), capsicums, and fresh eggs saw overall food prices up 1.0 percent in April 2020, Stats NZ said today.

Potato prices rose 18 percent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo, an all-time peak.

Some media reports suggest the potato industry has seen a 30–50 percent increase in demand from supermarkets and a shortage of workers.

“Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said. . . 

Hunting industry requires domestic support:

New Zealand’s guided hunting industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and is appealing for support from domestic hunters looking for a unique hunting experience.

“Guided hunting was worth over $50 million a year to the New Zealand economy and provided primarily international visitors with fantastic Kiwi hunting experiences on both private and public land,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “It has also been an extremely important employer in provincial regions and has a low impact on our environment.”

“It really has been a New Zealand tourism success story.” . . 

Why your rural sales reps won’t sell remotely – St John Craner:

Remote selling isn’t something new yet we’re seeing a lot of resistance to it right now.

Many clients are telling us their reps won’t sell remotely, complaining that they “need to see the customer”.

Whilst I buy that argument in-part, selling remotely has been around for a wee while. Phone, email or online have been a stable source of sales for years. They aren’t new technologies. 

The real reason why most sales reps feel they can’t sell remotely is because of fear. . . 


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