Rural round-up

07/05/2021

Rabbits march on Queenstown –  Melanie Reid:

A new breed of rabbit has arrived on the scene in Central Otago: the ‘lifestyle rabbit’. With the growth in new multimillion dollar homes and subdivisions comes a headache for landowners.

Ihug co-founder Tim Wood now avoids some parts of his 10-acre rural Wakatipu idyll because it’s too depressing to see his plantings and landscaping trashed by rabbits yet again.

“It looks beautiful from a distance, but when you get up close, it’s an absolute ecological disaster. It’s out of control. We’re back at the late eighties and early nineties sort of stage of how bad it is.”

Recently planted natives collapse into the stream as rabbits undermine their root systems and some mornings up to 30 rabbits have their breakfast on the lawn as Wood eats his metres away in his kitchen. An attractive bank slowly turns into a swiss-cheese dustbowl and costly native trees get planted, ring-barked and eventually thrown on the compost heap. . . 

Fonterra starts consultation on capital structure:

Today Fonterra is starting a consultation process to seek farmer feedback on potential options to change its capital structure that could give farmers greater financial flexibility.

To allow its farmers to have open conversations and consider all options during consultation, the 
Co-operative is temporarily capping the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (the Fund) by suspending shares in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Market (FSM) from being exchanged into units in the Fund.

This temporary cap will be effective once the current trading halt is lifted when the market opens tomorrow and will remain throughout the consultation process.

Chairman Peter McBride says the capital structure review seeks to ensure the sustainability of the 
Co-operative into the future. . . 

Scores attend Oamaru meeting to raise concerns over large scale forest farm – Sally Murphy:

More than 100 people showed up to a meeting in Oamaru last night to raise concerns about a large scale forest farm being developed in the area.

A 2500 hectare sheep and beef farm at the headwaters of the Kakanui River has been bought by New Zealand Carbon Farming.

The company establishes permanent forests to mitigate climate change through carbon credits.

Locals say the company already has one farm in the Waitaki region which is already showing adverse environmental affects. . . 

New study finds Taurua District could grow blueberries, hazelnuts, apples and feijoas:

A new study for alternative land uses in the Tararua District shows blueberries, hazelnuts, cider apples and feijoas could be successfully grown in the area.

The report commissioned by The Tararua District Council and done by AgFirst assessed the soil quality, climate and economics of each crop.

AgFirst horticulture consultant Leander Archer said it builds on another project done in the early 2000s which looked at what crops were best for the area.

“What we found is that all four crops could grow well in some areas of the Tararua, but conditions differed from area to area. . . 

Rural health professionals welcome Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network:

Members of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (the Network) held up green cards in show of support for the proposal to form a collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network on Saturday 1 May 2021.

During the Network’s AGM at the National Rural Health Conference in Taupō, the Network Board put forward the proposal to form Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network and to transition the Network’s functions and role to this new organisation over a 12-month period.

More members turned up for this AGM than ever before to show their support and have their say on the future of the Network, and the resolutions to form the collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network were passed.

Network Chief Executive Dr Grant Davidson says that this is a significant step in the evolution of the Network. . . 

Research shows growth in tree stock sales:

Latest research by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service shows seedling sales hit almost 92 million seedlings in 2020, 3 million more than the year before, says Acting Deputy Director-General Henry Weston.

The findings are an annual survey of tree stock sales from commercial forestry nurseries, called the Provisional Estimates of Tree Stock Sales and Forest Planting.

“The increase in seedling sales is positive, as it shows continued strong interest in tree planting.

“Tree planting is a vital tool in efforts to boost environmental gains, and help New Zealand to reach its economic potential, particularly our recovery from COVID-19,” says Mr Weston. . . 

Leasing provides appealing pathway to land stewardship:

Leasing the farm out rather than selling it is proving a new approach to the old challenges of succession, income generation, and farm business growth, providing a level of flexibility for parties on both sides of the leasing fence.

Bayleys Gisborne director and country salesperson Simon Bousfield says with an aging farmer population more landowners are rapidly approaching a point where they may be wishing to exit their property to enjoy retirement, and succession options aren’t available within the family.

However, they can find buyers are either limited in number, or limited by a lack of financial capital to meet the property’s market value.

“But it is also a case that this low interest rate environment is a double-edged sword. . . 


Rural round-up

04/05/2021

Return of the rabbit plague – Melanie Reid:

The saying goes: “Never turn your back on a rabbit, especially in Central Otago”. But New Zealand has. And now the population has exploded – again. This week, Newsroom Investigates launches an in-depth series about the South Island rabbit rampage.

Rabbits are eating their way through parts of the South Island, turning productive farm land into bare, honeycombed ground where only weeds survive. Lifestyle blocks and subdivisions around Queenstown are infested. The North Otago town of Moeraki has them in plague proportions.

Welcome to another environmental fiasco in Aotearoa.

There have been two occasions in our history when rabbits were almost wiped out: in 1947, when the government set up a Rabbit Destruction Council with the aim to “kill the last rabbit,” and exactly 50 years later when the calicivirus was released illegally by a fed-up farmer. . . 

Sector fears govt module will confuse farmers – Neal Wallace:

The release of a Government initiated online tool to help farmers manage intensive winter grazing may create confusion, a primary sector group fears.

The online farm plan module was launched this week by the ministries for Primary Industry (MPI) and Environment (MfE) ahead of a similarly targeted information jointly formulated by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Deer Industry NZ.

B+LNZ environmental policy manager Corina Jordan says having two separate plan templates in circulation creates confusion, sends mixed messages and “adds to the noise” at a time farmers should be focused on developing a winter grazing plan.

“It was unnecessary for MPI and MfE to step into this space because we had a farm plan already developed. We were already doing it.” . . 

R&D crucial to meet GHG goals – Anne Boswell:

New Zealand farmers are already doing their bit, but more tools will be needed if they are to meet the targets outlined in the Climate Change Commission’s proposal.

DairyNZ says a substantial investment into research and development (R&D) is crucial if farmers are to meet the recommendations set out in the independent Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) draft carbon budgets proposal, released in January this year.

As an industry body, DairyNZ has made a comprehensive submission to the commission on farmers’ behalf, backed by economic, farm systems and scientific evidence. 

The submission outlined two key messages: don’t shift the goalposts, and that substantial investment in research and development was critical to the success of the proposal. . . 

Feds keen to engage in immigration review:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Productivity Commission has decided to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings and looks forward to engaging in the process.

The primary industries have traditionally looked to the migrant workforce to fill a range of roles where sufficient numbers of Kiwis are not available.

“The closure of the border has seen many roles, both permanent and seasonal, unable to be filled by Kiwis,” Feds Immigration Spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“The various sectors have done what they can to encourage more New Zealanders to work on farms, including training and recruitment initiatives and increases in wages, but some roles and regions remain critically short on suitable staff.. .

Agriculture machinery sales continue to be buoyant:

Growing demand for agricultural machinery and equipment has kicked 2021 off to fantastic start, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association of New Zealand (TAMA).

The momentum began to build during spring and summer of 2020 as the result of increasing customer confidence, said TAMA president Kyle Baxter.

Mr Baxter said he was seeing first-hand how strengthened commodity prices were giving farmers and rural contractors the confidence to invest in new equipment. .  .

Te Uru Rākau – NZ Forest Service explores biofuels as a major opportunity for New Zealand:

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is laying the foundations for a new biofuels industry, to turn forestry waste into a potential billion-dollar industry, and working on a business case with help from global investment experts Indufor Asia Pacific Ltd.

“Establishing a biofuels industry in New Zealand will require significant investment, so we’re moving ahead with developing the business case for this investment,” says Jason Wilson, director of sector investments at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.

Mr Wilson says research shows a biofuels industry would help New Zealand to meet its emissions targets and provide jobs and new industries in our regional centres. . . 


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