A decade of significant biosecurity breaches have cost the New Zealand economy millions. Reporter LOUISA STEYL finds out if our security borders can withstand modern pressures or are we even more at risk?
“It was scary. I couldn’t work out what was going on.”
Waikaia farmer Rodney Williamson wasn’t sure what the implications would be when the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) found two velvetleaf plants on his Southland farm.
Dennis Arp was feeling optimistic last summer, which is unusual for a beekeeper these days.
Thanks to a record wet spring, his hundreds of hives, scattered across the central Arizona desert, produced a bounty of honey. Arp would have plenty to sell in stores, but more importantly, the bumper harvest would strengthen his bees for their biggest task of the coming year.
Like most commercial beekeepers in the US, at least half of Arp’s revenue now comes from pollinating almonds. Selling honey is far less lucrative then renting out his colonies to mega-farms in California’s fertile Central Valley, home to 80% of the world’s almond supply. . .
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that limes get expensive while out of season. But they’re very, very, very expensive right now. Is there something more worrying going on? Alex Braae reports.
There’s nothing like a squeeze of lime juice to make the flavours of a guacamole sing, not to mention to make a mojito possible at all. Unfortunately, picking up a few limes for the purpose right now will probably break the bank.
Prices for the small green citrus fruit have shot up this summer to extreme new highs, with reports of a single kilogram costing as much as $80. That’s many times higher than prices at the peak of the growing season, in which a kilogram can often be bought for a single digit. . .
It’s the Hilton of Halloumi, the Radisson of Raclette – yes, it’s a cheese hotel right here in London! If, like me, you’re desperately trying to claw your way back to some healthy eating habits after a season of indulgence, then you might want to look away now.
For the world’s first cheese hotel is opening in the heart of Camden on January 29th, offering cheese fiends the chance to spend a night in the hotel of their dreams (dreams which will be extremely vivid if you scoff all that cheese, of course).
Much like a strong-smelling Stilton, the cheese hotel doesn’t exactly do subtle. The room is an eye-catching shade of yellow, which encompasses cheese-themed wallpaper, bedding, cushions, artwork, and giant cheese installations. There’s even more cheesiness beyond the decor, with cheese boardgames (it’ll be an absolute travesty if they don’t have Mousetrap) and cheese soap, which I’m frankly not sold on. . .
A North Otago berry fruit business has grown to be the largest producer of strawberries in the South Island. Business and rural editor Sally Rae speaks to the remarkable driving force behind the operation.
If strawberry plants came in pink, then Leanne Matsinger would probably place a bulk order.
For the North Otago berryfruit grower is particularly fond of the hue and, when she bought a new tractor, she even asked if it was possible to get it in that colour.
Sadly it was not, and when she heads out at 2am with the floodlights blazing to go spraying in the still of the night, it is on a conventionally coloured workhorse.
Wind the clock back to 2010, and Mrs Matsinger did not know how to drive a tractor. Nor how to grow strawberries. . .
In a New Zealand first new research from Lincoln University doctoral researcher Hafiz Muhammad Abrar Ilyas is estimating the carbon footprints of pastoral or grass-based and barn dairy systems based on their energy consumption.
This study was done on 50 conventional dairy farms in Canterbury – 43 pastoral and seven barn systems.
Hafiz said the difference between the two systems indicates the barn system has an 18% higher carbon footprint than the pastoral system per hectare of farm area and 11% higher footprint per tonne of milksolids. . .
Two tonnes of Central Otago Boer goat meat was shipped from New Zealand recently to appear on the menus of three planned specialist restaurants in Korea.
The shipment was organised by Alexandra-based New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd (NZPGM), which is run by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra.
The first new restaurant, called Cabra’s Kitchen (cabra is Spanish for goat), will specialise in meals made using New Zealand Boer goat, as well as New Zealand beef and lamb and Central Otago wine. . .
Like my family before me, and following after me, I’ve always taken great pride in being a dairy farmer, and in the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry internationally.
My husband and I grew up in a generation where we had the opportunity to buy a farm and build our livelihoods on the land as our family had before us. It has been a privilege to forge an incredible career as a dairy farmer. My husband, Louis, and I are both award-winning dairy farmers and we’re proud of the mark we’ve made on the industry.
Sadly, the outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector is the worst that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t make this strong statement lightly, nor to scaremonger – but rather to reflect the policy settings under a virtue-signalling government which is setting the dairy industry up for failure. As a rural MP, but more importantly as a farmer, I won’t sit back and allow the ladder to be pulled up behind future generations of New Zealanders wanting to pave their way in the farming sector. . .
Tributes are flowing in from around the world in memory of Dannevirke shearing identity Koropiko Tumatahi (Koro) Mullins, who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 65.
Mr Mullins was known across all aspects for the shearing industry and sports, from shearer and shearing contractor to a frontman commentating role shearing great Sir David Fagan says set the standard on a global scale.
Born and raised in the Rotorua area, and of Te Arawa stock, he met the-then Mavis Paewai when he was a woolpressing teenager working for her brothers and father in Southern Hawke’s Bay.
It sparked what Fagan says was a unique family involvement and commitment to the shearing and wool industry, becoming the basis of Maori Television series Shear Bro which first aired in July last year. . .
Farming families and communities keen to do the right thing on water should not lose hope and confidence in the consultation process, says a Canterbury dairy farmer and industry leader.
The Government’s proposed nitrogen target for mid Canterbury isn’t attainable, says Colin Glass.
But that is no reason to give up on the consultation process, he says. “It looks as though there is nothing we could do today that would even come close to achieving that target. It simply means that if that target is not amended, farming as we know it today is not possible. Any form of farming.
“The key thing is that farmers are doing the right thing. Everyone is moving in the right direction. Now is not the time for people to lose faith or confidence in the process. . .
Climate change policies, the Billion Tree initiative and recent news promote the establishment of extensive pine plantations to benefit Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate change response by sinking carbon. Others have questioned the benefit of short-rotation plantation pines compared to natural regeneration of native forests. Whilst afforestation has an important role in New Zealand’s climate change response, we need to be clear about future implications.
There are both native and introduced tree species that grow fast and others that grow more slowly. Consider along with the speed of sequestration, the total carbon stocks that can be accumulated, and how long sequestration rates can be sustained. These rates depend on whether the forest is permanent and allowed to grow to maturity (i.e. not harvested) or harvested.
Fast-growing trees such as pines or eucalypts in harvested plantations reach their maximum carbon storage capacity in about 20 years. Landowners then lose most of those carbon stocks when the forest is harvested; NZ loses most of the embedded carbon when logs are exported; furthermore, the globe loses most of those stocks back into the atmosphere as the products decay, as well as through associated emissions from forest management, transport and processing. Thus to store more carbon actually requires another forest to be planted on new land that is not already forested, while also continuing to replant and maintain the previous area in forest to recover the lost carbon stocks. That is, plantation areas will need to be doubled in size with every crop. . .
Waikato dairy farmer Christopher Falconer is parked up on his farm looking out over the wetlands as he talks about mitigating the effects of climate change.
“I don’t make climate change-based decisions for what we do on-farm. I don’t. But as it happens, there’s a great deal of overlap between what is good for the climate, and what is good for all sorts of other things.”
Take riparian planting, the practice of growing plants alongside waterways. The goal is to mitigate nutrient loss and subsidence and stream bank erosion, but it’s also an effective carbon capture.
Fonterra’s delay in announcing its results, driven by Fonterra’s need for discussions with its auditors about appropriate asset values, provides an opportunity to reflect on Fonterra’s capital structure and whether it is still fit for purpose. The simple answer is that it is not.
The value destruction that has occurred and which is now coming to light means that inherent conflicts between the interests of farmer shareholders and investor unitholders have become too great to be papered over. Co-operatives do not survive long-term unless everyone’s interests align.
Two former directors of Fonterra, Colin Armer and Nicola Shadbolt, have both come out recently and said that reworking Fonterra’s capital structure is not the immediate priority. I agree with them. The immediate and urgent priority is to sell assets and create a new slimmed-down and financially-efficient organisational structure, with many fewer high-paid executives. . .
Attracting the best and brightest minds is and remains one of the international meat industry’s top priorities and for Sam Hitchman – a physicist in an industry dominated by biological researchers – the quest to attract new talent has paid off.
The AgResearch scientist recently won the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Prize for Young Talent in Meat Science and Technology at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) near Berlin, Germany.
Sam Hitchman, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in AgResearch’s Meat Quality team, says he was thrilled with the recognition, while adding he didn’t feel “young” – as his award would suggest – upon his return to New Zealand. . .
It was just a few months ago that experts were declaring the end of meat. Earlier this year, consultancy firm AT Kearney predicted that by 2040, animal products will have become so socially and environmentally unacceptable that most “meat” eaten across the globe will come in the form of plant-based or lab-grown substitutes.
But a major study released this week just might put the brakes on the rapidly accelerating plant-based trend. According to Oxford University research, published in the British Medical Journal, vegetarians and vegans have a 20 per cent higher risk of stroke than those who regularly tuck into a plate of bacon and sausages.
The authors of the study, which tracked almost 50,000 Britons for 18 years, said this might be because veggies did not have enough cholesterol in their blood. The finding flies in the face of much conventional wisdom, which says that vegetarianism is a healthy alternative to a carnivorous lifestyle.
But nutritionists say the increased risk of stroke is just one of the many health risks that any would-be vegetarian should be made aware of before they take the plunge. . .
The Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
“We know that freshwater is at the centre of many New Zealanders’ way of life and that collectively we need to continue to improve,” says MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.
“MIA generally welcomes the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways. Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.
“The meat processing sector has also invested significantly in wastewater treatment upgrades and made considerable improvements.
“However, the critical part to get right is to ensure there is enough flexibility in the legislation so that each local situation can still be considered on its merits and that we focus on the outcomes that communities want for their freshwater. . .
Some Canterbury farmers are dismissing the government’s plan to clean up the country’s waterways as a pipe-dream.
Regional councils across the country have been organising meetings to debate the best ways to reduce nitrates from dairy farming.
According to the Institute of Economic Research, Canterbury is the second highest dairy-producing region, behind Waikato, but many farmers there feel unfairly targeted by what the government has proposed.
“Farming is the art of losing money, while trying to feed and clothe the world while the world thinks you’re trying to poison them, the atmosphere and the environment,” Canterbury farmer Jeremy Talbot said. . .
Research published by Local Government New Zealand shows the enormous impact on land use the Government’s freshwater proposals will really have, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.
“If implemented, these proposals are going to see farmers in the Waikato go out of business and their land be converted into a sea of trees.
“According to the modelling, sheep and beef farming is expected to fall by 68 per cent, while dairy would be reduced by 13 per cent. Meanwhile plantation forestry would boom by an astonishing 160 per cent.
“Plantation forestry would then account for over 50 per cent of farmland in Waikato, as these onerous regulations make sheep and beef farming completely untenable. . .
Water reforms and the long term sustainability of water will be a key focus at the Water New Zealand conference and expo this week (18-20 September) in Hamilton.
The conference is being opened by the Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker and Local Government and Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta is speaking later in the day.
“We’re very pleased to be able to welcome key government Ministers to this year’s conference, especially given the ground-breaking reforms that the government is embarking on and the impact they will have across the entire country,” says Water New Zealand CEO John Pfahlert.
“This year one of two pre conference workshops will help update those working in the sector with the likely impact of the new regulatory process, while another will look at issues around wastewater – a key aspect of the Government’s recently announced Freshwater Programme.” . . .
A2 Milk and Synlait Milk shares jumped in early trading as a A$1.5 billion takeover bid for Bellamy’s Australia revived optimism that Chinese demand for dairy products remains strong.
ASX-listed Bellamy’s today said it’s received a A$13.25 per share offer from China Mengniu Dairy Co and that its board will support the bid. That’s a premium to the A$8.32 price the shares closed at on Friday. China Mengniu is familiar with the Australasian market through Yashili New Zealand and Burra Foods Australia. It was also one of the unsuccessful suitors of Murray Goulburn. Bellamy’s soared 51 percent to A$12.55, less than the A$12.65 cash component of the offer which also allows for a 60 cent special dividend. . .
A share offer for the last 14% of the North Otago Irrigation Company shares issued but not taken up at the time of the scheme expansion in 2014 now represent the last chance for farmers in the scheme area to secure water. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae finds out how the scheme has benefited North Otago.
Agriculture has plenty of challenges and the list is building by the day.
But North Otago Irrigation Company chairman Matt Ross reckons if people went for a drive around rural North Otago and saw some of the businesses operating, they would say, “isn’t that amazing?”. . .
It’s Plastic Free July – did you know? For those that don’t, this global movement helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities, writes Kit Arkwright from New Zealand’s domestic meat promotion body.
Plastic is an issue close to many Kiwi’s hearts. The recent ‘Better Futures’ study by Colmar Brunton ranks plastic waste as the number one issue for New Zealanders. It featured above issues like the cost of living, protection of children and suicide rates. To say now is the time for the meat industry to take a long, hard look at how it reduces its impact on plastic waste is an understatement.
The issue of plastic packaging for meat is not a simple situation. Plastic packaging offers the most effective solution to ensuring meat has a viable shelf-life and it also offers a safe option for ensuring the high standards of food safety we have come to expect as a given here in New Zealand. . .
At 93 Ashburton farmer Keith Grice has decided it’s time to hang up his hat on sheep farming but the true dinkum landlubber is not ready yet to leave his land. He talked to Annette Scott about his 70 years as a sheep farmer.
When the trucks rolled out from Keith Grice’s sheep yards, loaded with his capital stock ewes bound for the annual in-lamb ewe fair at Temuka on July 10, they marked the end of a very long era.
After 70 years farming sheep and at the ripe old age of 93 Grice has decided it’s time to put away his shepherd’s crook.
A friend once described the most traumatic experience of her life. It wasn’t an assault, an accident or even any physical injury. As a child, her father was laid off as an air traffic controller at O’Hare International Airport in a labor standoff that President Ronald Reagan sought to make into labor’s Waterloo. Her whole family had deeply identified with her father’s service and never really recovered, she said. A sense of alarm and despair pervaded her childhood ever after.
Similar trauma is being relived horribly in farm country right now. Farming is deeply personal; I know no farmer for whom it’s just an occupation. Over the years, I’ve sadly witnessed the catastrophes of farm families for whom farm foreclosures, traumatic in themselves, resulted in divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse and other tragedies, including the worst — suicide.
In my experience, although farm foreclosures feel altogether personal, they rarely reflect a farmer’s competence. The terrible wave of farm losses in the 1980s and the current crisis in the farm community were both a long time brewing — a consequence of federal policies that favor agricultural and market concentration, and of disparate policies related to trade, agricultural markets, research, credit, water, immigration and more. . .
(BusinessDesk) – Setting stringent climate change targets without understanding their cost or feasibility risks placing an unfair burden on some sectors, climate change professor David Frame says.
Moving New Zealand to a net-zero carbon economy will have benefits but also real costs and it is important both are shared across the community. That will probably require creative approaches from region to region and from sector to sector, he said at the New Zealand Minerals Forum in Dunedin last week.
Policymakers need to focus on emissions – rather than the resources they come from – and find a way to broaden the discussion beyond electorally-easy targets like heavy industry and coal. Agriculture also receives a lot of pressure that “isn’t really justified,” he said. . .
June 4 (BusinessDesk) – Danone SA can indirectly hold up to 65 percent of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co after its Danone Asia Pacific unit got a green light from the Overseas Investment Office to purchase up to 49 percent of the local dairy processor.
“The applicant has satisfied the OIO that the individuals who will control the investment have the relevant business experience and acumen and are of good character. The applicant has also demonstrated financial commitment to the investment,” the OIO said in a statement. . .
New Zealand Cherry Corp is expanding its operations and investment in Cromwell.
NZ Cherry Corp is a long established, locally owned Cromwell business. Its 32ha cherry block is the largest netted orchard in New Zealand. During cherry season it employs up to 500 staff and harvests up to 800 tonnes of cherries. It exports to 10 countries.
Director Paul Croft says following the recent purchase of a 244ha block of farmland adjacent to its existing orchard, NZ Cherry Corp is doubling the size of its orchard and turning 4ha into worker accommodation. . .
Trying to put the economics of the US crop insurance program into a diagram. Sure it's a complex beast, but I'd love to make it as accurate as possible. US ag twitterers let me know where I haven't got quite right. pic.twitter.com/4nEujXgeXP
Primary Wool Co-Operative (PWC) shareholders have placed their organisation on an extremely strong footing for the future, providing overwhelming support for two key resolutions at the co-operative’s 44th annual general meeting.
Farmer shareholders voted in favour of maintaining PWC’s 50% shareholding in CP Wool, as well as over 98% supporting a constitutional change enabling a capital raise to back CP Wool’s five year strategic plan at the meeting in Dannevirke on May 23. . .
With winter now starting to bite, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is reminding pastoral livestock farmers of their animal welfare responsibilities, whether animals are kept at home or sent off-farm to graze.
“This time of year can be challenging for farmers, with wet and muddy conditions increasing risks to the welfare of their livestock,” says Kate Littin, Manager Animal Welfare.
“Many farmers, particularly in Southland and Otago, choose to break feed stock on crop over the winter months. It’s a great way to provide food for animals and protect pastures, but does require careful planning and good stockmanship to avoid welfare risks that wet weather can bring. . .
Rural credit squeeze putting pressure on farmers access to capital.
Dairy farmers who are currently facing the two major challenges of falling land prices alongside increasingly restrictive access to capital are being encouraged to focus on a robust budgeting process and get on the front foot with their bank manager.
Findex Head of Agribusiness Hayden Dillon said “access to funding is becoming more of an issue, despite the good payout and this is putting some farmers under pressure” . .
Farmers are the world’s real superheroes, says Rabobank executive Marc Oostdijk.
Launching Rabobank’s recent FoodX programme, which aims to introduce high school students to career paths in the food industry, Oostdijk says world population is expected to reach 9 or 10 billion by 2050.
“That’s massive, and to grow food and fibres for them is a massive challenge.” . .
The new Women’s Health Bus (Te Waka Wahine Hauora) is expected to arrive in the Otago and Southland region next month, service co-founder Dr Helen Paterson, of Dunedin, says.
The non-profit mobile health service has been in the planning stages for about two years, but last year obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Paterson and Junction Health practice co-owner and practice nurse Alice van Zijl, of Cromwell, ordered the purpose-built vehicle from a specialist Whangaparaoa building firm.
Dr Paterson said the health bus would provide women’s health services, including cervical screening and contraception, to women in Otago and Southland’s rural and isolated communities. . .
A two-basket approach to climate policy is perfectly sensible and would be anything but a free ride to farmers. Recent assertions to the contrary by Jim Salinger and Raymond Desjardins suggest they may have misunderstood both the recent climate science and the policy logic that has led both the Productivity Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to recommend two-basket approaches.
The first and simplest point to note is that the world has actually used a multi-basket approach to climate policy before. The Montreal Protocol worked pretty well – on some estimates it was more successful at lowering greenhouse gas emissions than the Kyoto Protocol. Montreal was based on a multi-basket approach. There’s nothing inherently better about a one-basket approach to policy, and the reverse is probably true if the residence times of different pollutants span a large range. . .
Twenty-one years of intensive pest control in the Landsborough Valley is paying off. David Williams reports.
Colin O’Donnell ambles towards the edge of silver beech forest near the Landsborough River, drawn by the high-pitched, repetitive call of a mohua. It’s a call the Department of Conservation ecologist has been following for more than 30 years.
Ford Flat, overlooked by the Solution Range of mountains, is a common place to wait for the river to recede. In sections of the forest above there’s an ominous ripple of red – signs of a coming mast seeding. Swirling sandflies are ever-present and insistent.
“While it’s there I might just cheat,” O’Donnell says of the chattering mohua, producing from his pocket a portable speaker loaded with bird calls. “It might not work but we’ll give it a go.” . .
He might be ”just a little” over 80 but evergreen Central Otago Hunt master Glynne Smith is showing no signs of slowing down.
Yesterday, Mr Smith was galloping across farmland near Moa Creek, in the Ida Valley, filling the position he has held for the past 30 years.
As master, he was ultimately responsible for the running of the hunt day, and yesterday’s was particularly special for him.
It was the first hunt in Central Otago Hunt’s 30th anniversary programme, which includes four hunts, the South Island hound show and several social functions. . .
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