Rural round-up

May 17, 2016

Venison outlook positive – Sally Rae:

New Zealand invested in a second venison processing plant because it was confident about the future of New Zealand venison, marketing general manager Glenn Tyrrell says.

The company, previously known as Duncan and Co, bought out the other shareholders of Otago Venison 18 months ago, to become the sole owner of the Mosgiel-based processing facility.

Mr Tyrrell, who has been involved with venison marketing for 30 years, told those attending the recent deer industry conference in Dunedin that the outlook was “very positive”. . . 

Fonterra advised to better inform – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s milk price signalling needs to “drastically” improve for its farmers.

That is the message from Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford, who says many need the information sooner to make decisions regarding wintering options and discretionary spending options.

“I understand farmers are sending a clear message to Fonterra this must improve,” Mr Crawford said in his annual report. . . 

Excluding stock from waterways concern for farmers – Sally Rae:

Stock exclusion from waterways may prove more contentious for meat and fibre farmers than the implications of the Otago Regional Council’s 6A water quality plan, Federated Farmers Otago meat and fibre chairman Simon McAtamney believes.

Late last year, the Land and Water Forum published its fourth report on water management and one of its key recommendations was to exclude all large livestock from waterways to protect the water quality of rivers and streams.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting in Balclutha, Mr McAtamney said while sheep were exempt, it got “a little more complicated” with cattle and deer. . . 

Regulations among most challenging matters – Sally Rae:

Water quality, water quantity and local and regional government remain the principal challenges the collective agricultural industry faces, Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt believes.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting, Mr Hunt said the Otago Regional Council’s water quality plan 6A was still in its initial stages.

Implementation was ‘‘always going to be a challenge” and he was pleased compliance rates seemed to be increasing. . .

Biodiesel plant ready to fuel NZ cars – Adam Hollingworth:

Bits of beef and lamb we’d otherwise throw away are about to be turned into fuel by New Zealand’s first commercial biodiesel plant.

The plant will soon go online — and it’s hoped it’ll offset the carbon produced by as many as 17,000 diesel cars.

Ninety percent of what goes into the plant will come from cows and sheep, while the fatty bits will be melted into a green slush called tallow.

“It’s not used as a food source. A hundred percent of its produced here in New Zealand so there’s no deforestation associated with the production of tallow — it’s a by-product,” Z Energy biofuels manager Steve Alesech explained. . . 

Livestock Improvement flags proposal to split into two, allow outside investors – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, the farmer-owned cooperative that focuses on dairy herd genetics, farm software and automation, has proposed splitting into two businesses and allowing outside shareholders to invest for the first time.

LIC, as the business is known, will embark on a nationwide roadshow starting on June 7 to discuss proposed changes to its capital structure. The split would create a genetics/farm management cooperative, working with New Zealand’s dairy farmers, and a new agri-technology company that would put LIC’s existing agri-tech activities into a new corporate structure and “invest in new and innovative products, servicing customers in New Zealand and offshore.” . . .

Fonterra confirms early final dividend payment:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed it will pay part of its forecast final dividend earlier, to support farmers during a time of extremely tight on-farm cash flows.

Chairman John Wilson said a solid performance during the nine months to 30 April in the current financial year enables the Co-operative to declare the 10 cents per share dividend today. Payment will be made on 7 June, bringing dividend payments so far this year to 30 cents per share.

“While the milk supply and demand imbalance continues to impact global milk prices and our forecast Farmgate Milk Price, the business is delivering on strategy and has maintained the good performance levels seen in the first six months of the financial year. . . 

Fonterra’s milk collection takes a dive – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia — its two largest markets — in the first 11 months of the season, during a period of weak dairy prices.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3.3 percent to 1.499 billion kilograms of milk solids in the season through to April 30.

The decline came exclusively in the North Island, while good weather conditions kept South Island production unchanged, Fonterra said in its Global Dairy Update. . . 

#431AM – Ansering the farmers of Fontterra’s call to “Tell Our Story“:

Our 10,500 farming families do amazing work – taking the purest of dairy from New Zealand to the world. They’re also proud of the Co-op they own and their contribution to our country.

It’s a great story that we see every day but the rest of New Zealand doesn’t always get to see it or hear about it.

While the rest of NZ sleeps, some people are up and at it – including the farmers of Fonterra. We want to celebrate the people who get the country up and running. . . 


Rural round-up

May 15, 2015

Is life down on the farm about to change forever? – James Stewart:

Farmers deal with change all the time. We become obsessed with sun, rain and everything in between which is what happens when your whole livelihood depends on the natural elements. This is part of the volatile world we deal with. All you need to do is throw in commodities and exchange rates and it can make for an extremely challenging environment. This is an accepted fact of life for a farmer.

To add to the abyss of unknown, farmers are anxious about what the health and safety reform will bring and the new challenges that lay on the horizon. We all want to come home from work alive. Unfortunately this will not always happen as you just can’t eliminate all of the risk out of farming.

My own personal experience of a fatality on my own farm still haunts me to this day. Going through a police and OSH investigation was nothing compared to the emotion of meeting the parents the following day to try and explain what may have happened. I take every practical step to prevent accidents happening, but the world we live in is not perfect and accidents happen. . .

One in four dairy farmers in negative cashflow this season, Wheeler says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Another year of sagging dairy prices would be a concern for New Zealand’s economy and especially for the 25 percent of farmers currently carrying debts above 65 percent of the value of their assets and currently trading in negative equity, says Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler.

Expanding at a parliamentary hearing on this morning’s release of the central bank’s six monthly financial stability report, which imposed new macro-prudential restrictions on lending on Auckland housing, Wheeler said “another year of low prices, that would be a worry for the economy, no question, and also that would be a worry for farmers in terms of their debt capacity.” . . .

Step up, Foterra told – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s strategy needs to start delivering or its market share will shrink further, Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford says.

The results of small Waikato-based dairy co-operative Tatua and West Coast-based Westland Milk Products’ might well ”far exceed” Fonterra, so it might eventually need to front up and stop blaming volatility, which was experienced by all players in the market, Mr Crawford said in his report to Federated Farmers Otago’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday. . . 

 

Horowhenua vegetable growers hit by wet weather again – Gerard Hutching:

Vegetable growers in Kapiti and Horowhenua have been hit by wet weather for the second year in a row.

Woodhaven Garden grower John Clarke, based in Levin, said it was shaping up to be as difficult a season as last year, when autumn had been the wettest he had seen in 31 years of growing.

“It’s starting to trend the same way. It has certainly impacted on what we’ve been able to plant. One day recently we had a hit of 125 millimetres [of rain] and the day before 50mm,” Clarke said.

Metservice figures show 157mm has fallen in the Levin region over the past month. It forecasts rain to continue for the next 10 days, with little prospect  of sunshine. . .

Taranaki rural crime issues reach the top – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farmers who highlighted rural crime have been invited to be part of a national committee looking at a rural policing strategy. 

An inaugural meeting in Wellington on Wednesday among representatives of police, Federated Farmers, Ministry for Primary Industries, Neighbourhood Support, Community Patrols and Rural Women NZ aimed to formulate a consistent approach to rural crime prevention throughout the country. 

Co-ordinator of community policing Alasdair Macmillan, of Wellington, has been working for months on increasing the awareness of what he calls “rural crash and crime”. 

“I came across this group in Taranaki,” he said. “These guys are up and running. What have they got? Do we need some tips from them?” . . .

Fonterra expansion take mozzarella to the world:

Work is complete on a new mozzarella plant at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, doubling production of the world-famous cheese and creating enough mozzarella to top more than 300 million pizzas a year.

Work is complete on a new mozzarella plant at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, doubling production of the world-famous cheese and creating enough mozzarella to top more than 300 million pizzas a year.

The mozzarella – one of the Co-operative’s most sought after cheeses – is destined for global pizza and pasta restaurant chains across China, Asia and the Middle East. . .

Rural Equities accepts Webster takeover offer for stake in Tandou – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, will sell its 6.4 percent stake in ASX-listed Tandou into a takeover offer from Australian agricultural and water company Webster.

Webster’s shares have jumped 26 percent on the ASX this year and the stock is rated a ‘strong buy’ based on a Reuters survey of analysts.

Webster is Australia’s biggest vertically integrated producers of walnuts, accounting for more than 90 percent of the nation’s export crop. It has been on an acquisition spree, buying water entitlements and more than 45,000 hectares of land known as the Kooba aggregation for A$116 million in December and making an A$124 million offer for Bengerang, a large-scale NSW cotton farmer with its own portfolio of water entitlements. . .

Mainman insecticide application approved:

An Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision-making committee has approved with controls an application from ISK New Zealand Limited to manufacture or import the insecticide Mainman, which contains the new pesticide active ingredient flonacamid.

Mainman is intended to be used for the control of aphids and psyllids on potatoes and possibly other specific pests associated with horticultural crops. The application is for Mainman to be used by commercial growers and contractors on vegetable crops. . .

 


Different rules for councils and farms

February 19, 2015

Federated Farmers Otago Dairy Chair Stephen Crawford writes on different environmental standards for councils and farms:

As a farmer I have been increasingly concerned by the lack of consistency between council treatment of urban and rural users when it comes to the actions taken under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

We have all seen farmers prosecuted in the Environment Court for breaches under the RMA, for matters such as effluent discharges that “may enter water”.

These are the critical few words found in the RMA that most prosecutions are based on (“…and may enter water”). What that means is that the contaminant didn’t necessarily enter water or cause pollution, it just “may” have been able to enter water – and that’s a big difference. . .

Is there any other area where the potential to do something wrong is treated as if you have actually done something wrong?

If you were in a pub with car keys in your pocket you may drive when you shouldn’t but you may also walk, call a taxi, get someone else to drive or find another way home but you would not be charged because you may drive.

Of course it’s not always that simple. In some cases, contaminants from farms do in fact enter water. That cannot be condoned and depending on the circumstances, the Environment Court may be the appropriate course of action.

Last spring, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) boss Peter Bodeker went to media, stating that recent dairy inspections in Otago were not good enough and that an unacceptable number of breaches had been found.

If you watched 7 Sharp on Tuesday night, you will see some of our most popular swimming beaches in are unsafe to swim in due to the overflow sewage systems that some city councils’ use, there is no “may” about it.  So let’s compare these on-farm breaches of the RMA to those in the urban sector.

Last November, media reported that in Cromwell 3,500 litres of untreated waste had entered Lake Dunstan. In response, the ORC determined that no action was required.

Over recent months and years, Queenstown Lakes District Council has had numerous untreated spills into the lake, and not a single prosecution has eventuated to date.

Apart from the fact that a major tourist destination’s image is being tarnished by the site of untreated sewage flowing on streets and into the lake, that waste is entering water and is simply bad for the environment.

If Queenstown was a farm, there would be a huge public outcry for it to be shut down until major improvements could bring it up to appropriate standards.

Other towns around the country actually have consent to pollute on a daily basis.

Milton is just one example.  It has been issued consent by the ORC to intermittently discharge 9,150 cubic meters per day of untreated wastewater mixed with storm water to the Tokomairiro River.

This discharge permit expires on December 31, 2017. But don’t worry; part of the consent approval includes a diagram for a sign to be erected, saying “Danger. Keep Out. No Swimming”.

Other New Zealand towns also have consent to discharge untreated or partially treated waste to land “in a manner that may enter water”. Interesting that those towns have these discharge consents approved by councils, when this is the same standard for which farmers are being prosecuted.

For many coastal towns the solution is simple, just put waste out to sea in a longer and ever extending pipeline. Well at least it doesn’t get to freshwater that way, although as we’ve seen recently, the impact on many of our beaches is not something to be proud of.

It is one rule for council discharges, and a completely different rule for farmers and I’m convinced the environment doesn’t notice the difference.

To people living in urban New Zealand, you have been “sold” a story comprising limited science based on a successful and catchy slogan, “dirty dairy”. And from that was born the misconception that most pollution is from farms.

Regional councils around the country continue to turn a blind eye to blatant urban pollution, both within discharge consent parameters and through unconsented spills into our lakes and rivers.

Farmers don’t expect any special treatment. We have a huge responsibility in looking after our environment. But nor do we expect to be targeted and singled out by regional councils.

All we ask is that in the interests of our environment, we have a more level playing field.  Currently what we have is anything but.

Farmers live near to, swim in and drink from the waterways which border their farms giving them a very personal interest in ensuring they are clean.

We’re not asking for special treatment we are asking for fairness.

Discharges which may enter a waterway should not be regarded in a similar way to pollution which does enter a waterway and councils shouldn’t get special treatment when others appear to be treated with far less leniency.


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