5.5 tonnes a minute

November 18, 2019

Sully Alsop gave some interesting numbers in a speech at the 50 Shades of Green march on parliament last week:

It took me about a minute to get up here to speak to you today. And something amazing happened in that one minute. Something truly remarkable that happens every minute of every hour of every day in NZ. Something that you are all a part of. In that one obscure minute NZ exported another 5 and a half tonnes of pastoral agriculutural product generating more than $100,000 for NZ.

That’s a lot of product and it earns a lot of money.

The average income in NZ is $52,000 so in less than a minute the pastoral sector generated the annual household income for one family.

The rural sector that you all work so hard in just paid for a school teacher, a policeman, a nurse, or maybe about a quarter of a politicians salary. Maybe that minute made it possible for one of those non farming households to take their family on a holiday, or get their children a better education.

And that is the message we all bring to parliament today. This isn’t just about rural communities or urban centres this is about all of NZ and protecting the way of life that we all enjoy, the way of life that the pastoral sector contributes to so significantly for all – every minute.

The export income primary produce generates starts on the farms but the benefits flow through rural communities and the regions into cities.

And that pastoral sector, that is so much the fabric of much of our country’s identity, is confronted with unprecedented change and challenges.

We are not here to push back against change, we are not laggards and do not have our heads buried in the sand. Quite the opposite, much of the change that is being proposed is not actually change at all, but a continuation of the good work carried out by our sector over the past decades well before water quality and climate change became daily talking points.

We should all be proud of the more than 100,000km of waterway fencing already undertaken. We should be proud that more than a quarter of the nation’s native bush is on our land that we protect and enhance.

Our rural communities are proactive problem solvers. I am personally very proud of what has been achieved in my neck of the woods – the Wairarapa. A cyclone in the 70’s caused huge damage on the delicate hill country. Soon after poplar and willow planting trials were undertaken and since then millions of trees have been planted for erosion control. This was not legislated, it was not compulsory, it was just motivation of farmers and some education from Regional Land Managers.

That’s right Shane Jones, if you’re still trying to work out how to plant half a billion trees, you don’t need to be up all night researching on your laptop in a hotel room, you just need to pop over the hill and ask the farmers and land managers in the Wairarapa.

We are not here to push back against change, we are here to make sure that change is done right. And what you have proposed in the Healthy Waterways legislation is not right. To be blunt, it is a lazy, unimaginative, piece of legislation that at best will be clunky, inefficient, ineffective, and demotivating. New Zealanders, all New Zealanders deserved better. We are not here to push back against intended outcomes of this legislation, but we are here to push back strongly against how you have proposed to achieve those outcomes.

Few have any argument about the goal, it’s about how to reach it, how quickly and at what cost that is debated.

The Healthy Waterways legislation gives a broad brush, one size fits all attempt at dictating terms on a national level. Landowners in this country were never consulted as to the relevance and practicalities of this plan. This is either arrogant or lazy and NZ deserves better.

How can one document cover all the different soil types, topography, and climates in this diverse country. The issues on Canterburys stony plains will be different to the high country, which will be different to the peaty soils of Waikato, to the beaches of Auckland, to the dry hills of the east coast.

If this government really wanted to show leadership in this area they would have taken the time to clearly define the issues, and work with all stakeholders to come up with a practical solution, that would work on the ground, rather than cave to public perception.

This lack of consultation showed in the 17,500 submissions highlighting the weaknesses of the legislation. Why the pastoral sector were not consulted is beyond me. What you are proposing will have massive impacts on our businesses, our families, our communities, and in turn the rest of NZ, the teachers, the nurses, the policemen that agriculture supports, every minute. It would be nice to think we were at the table and not simply on the menu.

The lack of research was evident by ideas such as grandparenting land use change and audited farm plans being included. These have been proven to be unfair and ineffective tools in regional plans throughout the country. The fact they showed up again in the Healthy Waterways legislation shows the lack of imagination and research.

It was lazy and NZers, all NZers deserved better.

It was worse than lazy, it was impractical and expensive in both economic and social terms without the scientific backing to ensure real environmental gains.

So I challenge our leaders, instead of clunky, one size fits all, legislation give us the space and flexibility to come up with our own solutions taylor made to our individual land and water quality issues.

Instead of audits and box tickers that we will pay for either directly or indirectly, pour money into science. Our universities, Massey and Lincoln were so vital to the production gains made over the last 40 years can again be vital in this next stage of NZ pastoral agriculture that is less about production and more about maximising the value of that product. Give us less box tickers and more research and development.

Instead of box tickers give us support and expert advice. We will come up with great solutions that even the universities cannot if you give us support, confidence, and education where we need it.

Instead of audits give us flexibility to come up with our own solutions.

Instead of being stick wavers, be our partners. All NZers, the nurses and policemen and teachers rely on it.

The government is promoting policies that will harm not just farms, farming and farmers, but the economic and social fabric of the whole country without a single policy to mitigate the harm and replace the income.

I’m not scared of this change because it is not really change but a continuation of the good work we already do.

I’m not scared of this change because it our sector has been challenged before and we rose to that challenge and adapted.

But we cannot do it without pastoral land. We have to stop the sale of productive land into foreign ownership. We cannot meet the challenges ahead and continue to provide all NZers, the teachers, nurses, and policemen with the NZ we currently enjoy without pastoral land.

We have to stop prostituting NZ out as the dumping ground for the worlds carbon addiction.

What makes this policy worse is that the science says forests are only a short-term band-aid for offsetting fossil fuel emissions.

Our rural communities matter.

Our schools matter.

And not just for our rural communities but for all those non rural households whose incomes our exports support every minute.

These international owners don’t care about NZ’s future, they don’t care about our communities. They are simply here to dump their carbon rubbish and move on leaving our grandchildren to wonder what happened. What happened to the NZ we, their grandparents talked about, what happened to all those nurses, teachers, policemen that are no longer supported.

I know this was never the intention of this legislation. But by signing off on the first 30 year band-aid of an idea that springs to mind is short sighted, lazy, and NZ deserves better. Show true leadership. Look for long term solutions, don’t just settle for the best idea in a bad bunch. NZ relies on you doing so.

To you all thank you, and feel proud about what you do in every unremarkable minute of the day and the impact it has on this country.

It’s hard to feel proud when government policies would sabotage not just individual businesses but communities and eventually the economic and social wellbeing of the country.


Rural round-up

July 6, 2015

Matt Bell wins 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest

After a nail-biting finish Matt Bell of Aorangi is the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Champion.

“This is the most surreal feeling, all the hard work has paid off. The blood, sweat and tears – it was all worth it! It’s somewhat of a dream at the moment” said Mr Bell.

Competition in the 47th ANZ Young Farmer Contest was fierce, with the Evening Show rounds resulting in a tie between East Coast’s Sully Alsop and Aorangi’s Matt Bell. Matt Bell won on a count-back of Practical Day scores. . . .

Young farmers ‘shattered’ after tough contest – Daniel Hutchinson:

The best young farmers in the land flocked to Taupo for a showdown as the town hosted the grand final of the Young Farmer Contest on Saturday.

Animal instincts and rat cunning were on display as the seven contestants battled it out with fencing duels (wire fences), shearing feats and even a speech contest during the three-day competition.

After a nail-biting finish on Saturday night, Matt Bell of Aorangi was declared the 2015 champion. . .

Plans to invest up to $30m goat plant:

A goats’ milk company has announced plans to invest up to $30 million to build processing and packaging facilities in Hawke’s Bay.

Fresco Nutrition’s managing director Greg Wycherley said there was growing demand for infant formula that came from goats and sheep milk, particularly in Asia.

He said Hawke’s Bay was the ideal place to produce and process the product. . .

Speech to Federated Farmers 2015 Annual Conference – Nathan Guy:

Good morning and thank you all for the opportunity to speak to your annual conference here this morning.

I would like to begin by acknowledging your President, Dr William Rolleston; Chief Executive, Graham Smith; members of your National Board; and all other members here today.

My congratulations go to Dr Rolleston who has just been elected as the Vice-President of the World Farmers Organisation.

I met with newly elected WFO President Evelyn Nguleka and Executive Director Marco Marzano in Europe recently.

As an organization “of farmers, for farmers” the main focus of the WFO is to represent the interests of its hugely diverse constituency in international forums where they are often the only voice for farmers. . .

 Low flyer wins top prize at NZ aviation awards:

The business is usually flying close to the ground. But this week, top dressing firm Ravensdown Aerowork was the high flyer when it took out the prestigious ServiceIQ Award for Excellence in Training at the Aviation Industry Association Awards in Queenstown.

ServiceIQ Sector Advisor Gary Scrafton, says the Wanganui-based aviation firm places a strong emphasis on its people, ensuring that they have the skills they need to do both a great job in the air, and to provide customers with top-class service. . .

 

Further boost for New Zealand Cycle Trail:

The Government is investing nearly $400,000 in six new projects to enhance and maintain the quality of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key announced today. 

“This is the second round of funding available through the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund and brings the total investment under the fund so far to $1.36 million,” says Mr Key.

“Priority has been given to proposals that aim to improve the safety and quality of the Great Rides – the premier rides on the New Zealand Cycle Trail. Three of the successful applications are for repairs to sections of trail that have incurred storm damage. . .

NZ blackcurrants improve mental agility

Researchers say New Zealand blackcurrants can keep people mentally young and agile, and aid in managing the effects of depression and Parkinson’s disease.

A study conducted by scientists at New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research, in collaboration with Britain’s Northumbria University, showed the compounds found in New Zealand blackcurrants increased accuracy, attention and mood.

The research also found juice from a specific New Zealand blackcurrant cultivar, Blackadder, reduced the activity of the enzymes which regulate serotonin and dopamine concentrations in the brain. . .

Seafood industry supports efforts to save Auckland Islands’ sea lions:

The seafood industry actively supports measures to conserve the Auckland Islands sea lion, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement says.

His comments follow the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) upgrading the sea lions’ status from vulnerable to endangered.

“The decline in the sea lion population at the Auckland Islands has been a cause of concern for some time, although other populations are increasing. . .

Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale Catalogue Out Now:

The catalogue for New Zealand Bloodstock’s Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale are due in letterboxes early next week and can be viewed online now.

There are 73 horses catalogued, consisting of broodmares (40), weanlings (6), yearlings (4), two-year-old’s (9), unraced stock (2), racehorses (11) and stallion shares (1).

A range of sires will be on offer at NZB’s Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale with 53 sires represented, including the progeny of leading sires from New Zealand and Australia, Savabeel and Fastnet Rock. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2015

Dairy industry to launch workplace accord:

A new dairy industry workplace accord will be launched in May as part of a range of industry actions aimed at helping farmers attract and retain skilled people to work on farms.

“The Quality Workplace Accord is a commitment to improving the work environment of dairy farms,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine.

“The overarching goal is to achieve quality work environments through helping farmers implement good people management practices. . .

Korea tariff reductions benefit value-added velvet:

The potential to add value to velvet in New Zealand as tariffs reduce is the one big positive for deer farmers to come out of the Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

“It’s no secret that Deer Industry NZ was unhappy with the terms of the agreement in respect to tariffs and taxes on frozen velvet. But we now need to make the most of the opportunity we have gained – elimination of the 20 per cent tariff on processed velvet over 15 years,” says DINZ chief executive Dan Coup.

“It’s a better outcome than some other countries have achieved, and the overall result of the FTA for the NZ primary sector will be very positive. We look forward to the FTA starting as soon as possible because within two or three years the reduction will be quite meaningful.” . .

Deer industry to co-operate with Korean health-food giant:

The New Zealand deer industry is today signing an agreement with one of Korea’s largest health food manufacturers, the Korea Ginseng Corporation (KGC), to help it develop more products containing NZ velvet antler.

The non-binding memorandum of understanding, to be signed by Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup and KGC chief executive officer Kim Jun-gi, will be witnessed by Prime Minister John Key. The signing will take place in Seoul following the signing of the Korea New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

“For seven years our relationship with KGC has strengthened and has increasingly focused on the development of branded consumer products that include extracts from NZ velvet. In that time, KGC has developed a children’s tonic that has become a household name in Korea, taking around 8 per cent of NZ’s velvet production,” said DINZ chief executive Dan Coup. . .

 

Lengthy links in merino field – Sally Rae:

The Merriman name is closely linked with Australia’s merino sheep industry.

Wal Merriman, managing director of the famed Merryville stud, was recently in Otago to judge super-fine and ultra-fine merinos at the Upper Clutha A&P Show in Wanaka.

His family’s association with the New Zealand merino industry extended for 50 years or more, with Merryville’s genetics featuring among the bloodlines of New Zealand sheep, Mr Merriman (62) said. . .

Finalists announced for farm environment awards – Sally Rae:

Five finalists have been named for this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Richard and Kerry France, from Longview Farm, in West Otago, also own the Hazeldale Perendale stud.

The couple bought the 568ha breeding and finishing property, at the northwest end of the Moa Flat area, in 2000.

About 6000 stock units – sheep, deer and cattle – were wintered. Peter and Sarah Adam have been managing Wilden Station, at Moa Flat, since 2000, when the property was purchased by Mrs Adam’s uncle, John Maisey.

It comprises a sheep and beef breeding and finishing operation spread over the home block of 570ha and a run block, 14km away, of 1200ha. About 12,300 stock units were wintered. . .

Mesh cover to fight potato pests:

New research shows a plastic mesh cover laid over potato crops could be the answer to fighting potato pests without using chemical sprays.

Scientists at the Future Farming Centre and Lincoln University say field trials of the mesh cover is showing exciting results in controlling the tomato potato psyllid as well as reducing potato blight.

The psyllid arrived in New Zealand in 2006 and can cause severe crop loss through its bacterium.

Researchers Dr Charles Merfield said the trials over two growing seasons in Canterbury showed potatoes under the mesh covers had reduced numbers of psyllids, increased tuber size and an increase in overall yield. . .

Project brings students back to nature:

As the earth loses biodiversity at a rapid rate and people become increasingly disconnected from nature, we must encourage new generations to take an interest in preserving the natural world, says Lincoln University senior ecology lecturer Dr Tim Curran.

High school students involved in an award-winning biodiversity project aimed at addressing this issue met at Lincoln University last week to examine the plant and animal specimens they collected a year ago during a weekend EcoBlitz near Lewis Pass. 

More than 170 high school students from 21 South Island schools took a trip to the Nina Valley in March last year, accompanied by scientists and students from Lincoln University and many other research organisations.

They found a range of plant, insect, bird, reptile and mammal species, which some of the students set about identifying last Thursday, March 12. . .

Oxfam calls for support as Vanuatu farmers face months without crops:

As aid begins to reach communities across Vanuatu, Oxfam New Zealand have spoken to their development partner Farm Support Association (FSA) to understand the longer term impact Cyclone Pam will have on a society which lives mostly off farming.

Oliver Lato, Senior Extension Officer from FSA was at home in Port Vila when the Cyclone struck. “For me, it was my first time experiencing a cyclone this strong. I was at home. I thought it would take off the roof. There was lots of water overflowing from the creek. Water came into my house, half a meter deep”.

Mr Lato said “Lots of vegetation is destroyed. Root crops are people’s main food. If yam, cassava and taro haven’t been destroyed, they need to be quickly harvested before they rot from flooding. They will need to be eaten quickly, within a week or so they will be spoilt” . .

 Fourth ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist Named:

Sully Alsop is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty-one year old took first place at the East Coast Regional Final in Greytown on Saturday 21 March.

Mr Alsop went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .

 

 


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