Rural round-up

13/08/2021

Nats’ proposal on migrants welcomed – Richard Rennie:

National’s proposal for a clean out of New Zealand’s daunting migrant visa application backlog has been given a thumbs up from dairy farmers still grappling with labour shortages.

National party leader Judith Collins has proposed Immigration NZ be required to clear the backlog of skilled migrant workers already here and seeking residency status. 

These are estimated to be over 30,000 and include vets and dairy farm herd managers. 

National has also proposed a “de-coupling” of skilled migrant staff from specific employers, instead making them tied to a sector or a region. . .  

Concern over ‘rushed reforms’, lack of detail – Neal Wallace:

The hectic pace of Government-initiated reform will result in poorly drafted legislation that will create a windfall for lawyers, warns National Party Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson.

Replacement draft legislation, such as for the Resource Management Act (RMA), lacks detail or an understanding of unintended consequences, he says, which will be determined by litigation.

“Either way the legislative changes coming at us like a steam train do not have that detail,” Simpson said.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) acknowledges it has a heavy workload developing policy to reform the RMA, climate change, indigenous biodiversity and water. . .

Water sampling technology on trial – Shawn McAvinue:

It is a data stream with a difference.

AgResearch Invermay senior scientist Richard Muirhead is developing new technology to help farmers wanting to improve water quality to make better decisions.

For the past two years, Dr Muirhead has been working on a project to get sensors to measure the levels of nitrogen, sediment, E.coli and phosphorus in waterways.

Sensor technology had been imported to measure the first three contaminants but the search continues for technology to measure phosphorus. . .

Tekapo -the Dark Sky Project is the place to stargaze – Jane Jeffries:

In the heart of the Mackenzie country is the small, quaint town of Tekapo, famous for the Good Shepherd church and the stunning vista through its window behind the altar. However, when the lake and mountain views disappear after dusk and the skies darken our twinkly solar system is exposed. It’s paradise for star gazers and a wonderful sight for young and old.

Whether you are a star gazer or just want to find out more about our solar system the Dark Sky Project in Takapo (Tekapo), is the place to start.

But before I talk about Tekapo’s terrific night sky, the town’s name needs an explanation. Tekapo was originally called Takapo. Takapō is the name the Ngāi Tahu tribe ancestors recorded. At Dark Sky Project they are extremely proud of their region and use the name Takapō, so that’s what we will call it.

Firstly, Takapo is one of the best places in the world to observe the night sky and it’s easily accessible. Minimal light pollution means the night sky views stretch as far as the eye can see. . . 

Farmland director elections nominations open :

Nominations are being sought for this year’s Farmlands Director Elections.

Two seats – one North Island and one South Island – are being contested. Farmlands Directors Dawn Sangster and Gray Baldwin are retiring by rotation in 2021 and both have indicated they are standing for re-election.

Farmlands Chairman Rob Hewett says having a say in governance is crucial to the ongoing success of the co-operative.

“Having high calibre shareholder representatives is critical not only to Farmlands but all rural co-operatives,” Mr Hewett says. “We have made tremendous strides in growing the talent pool of rural governance, alongside Silver Fern Farms, through the To the Core programme. . . 

Grazing cattle can improve agriculture’s carbon footprint – Adam Russell:

Ruminant animals like cattle contribute to the maintenance of healthy soils and grasslands, and proper grazing management can reduce the industry’s carbon emissions and overall footprint, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Richard Teague, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management and senior scientist of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon, said his research, “The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America,” published in the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Journal of Soil and Water Conservation presents sustainable solutions for grazing agriculture.

The published article, authored by Teague with co-authors who include Urs Kreuter, Ph.D., AgriLife Research socio-economist in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Bryan-College Station, was recognized at the society’s recent conference as a Soil and Water Conservation Society Research Paper for Impact and Quality.

Teague’s research showed appropriate grazing management practices in cattle production are among the solutions for concerns related to agriculture’s impact on the environment. His article serves as a call to action for the implementation of agricultural practices that can improve the resource base, environment, productivity and economic returns. . .


Rural round-up

19/12/2020

Open letter to Prime Minister Ardern re Immigration NZ border exemption confusion– Julie South:

Dear Prime Minister (and Minister Faafoi & Ms Standford)

Open Letter:  clarification sought on rationale used for border exemption denials for health care workers

I’m writing this Open Letter with the hope you’ll be able to answer my questions because it appears no one else in your government is able to.

There are quite a few questions in this letter, so to make it easy for you, I’ve highlighted them in blue.  I’ve also provided some background information to give you context.

I’m hoping you can help me because my colleagues and I are struggling to understand the rationale applied by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in recent border exemption denials for the health care workers I specialise in finding jobs for. . . 

Shares in a2 tumble as company slashes forecast – Catherine Harris:

Shares in dairy company a2 have plunged more than 20 per cent on Friday as the company slashed its forecast to reflect a longer than expected recovery in its some of its selling channels.

The glamour stock’s share price fell more than 23 per cent to $10.78 in late afternoon trading, after a2 downgraded its revenue forecast for the first half to $670 million, and between $1.40 billion to $1.55b for the full year.

That was well down on 2020’s stellar full year revenue of $1.73b, and its September guidance of $1.8b to $1.9b, with $725m to $775m for the first half. . . 

A new lease on life – Neal Wallace:

Torrid life experiences proved to be Lindsay Wright’s apprenticeship for work with the Rural Support Trust in Southland. Neal Wallace talks to the former Wendonside farmer about the scratches and bruises that life has served up to him.

Lindsay Wright agonised for months about what to do with his fourth-generation family farm.

The uncertainty was adding to his depression but in the end, the decision only took a few minutes to make once he started working with a counsellor to address his health issues.

She asked him three questions: Did he want to stay as he was? Did he want to sell it? Did he want to employ a manager? . . 

Alliance demonstrates agility in tough year:

Shareholders at the Alliance Group Annual Meeting this week were told the cooperative showed agility in an unprecedented year as a result of Covid-19 and adverse weather events.

Last month, Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million.

Adjusted for a one-off event of ‘donning and doffing’, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Lawyers called in over 119 year old mistake – David Williams:

Officials want to exclude a reserve from a Crown pastoral lease, which might spark a court battle, David Williams reports

When Lukas Travnicek flew over Canterbury’s Mt White Station he’d done his research.

The Czech Republic native, and New Zealand resident, knew the average rainfall of the Crown pastoral lease property, which borders the Arthur’s Pass National Park, and factored its 40,000 hectares (about a quarter of Stewart Island) into his development plans, should he buy it.

“I saw it from the chopper, the very first time and they didn’t want me to land because they said that it would be disturbing for the manager and you’re not sure if you really want to buy it. But I made the pilot land.” . . 

Govt must listen to farmers on freshwater rules:

The Government must listen to feedback from farmers on its freshwater rules,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

Stuff reports that the Southland Advisory Group has recommended pugging rules and resowing dates be scrapped from the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

“ACT has said from the outset that the rules are impractical and will seriously impact on production.

Last week, an Economic Impact Report on Land and Water Management in the Ashburton District suggested the rules would reduce farm profitability by 83 percent a year. . . 

The mystery of Tekapo’s disappearing lupins: Who killed the social media star? – Brook Sabin:

It’s one of New Zealand’s most iconic shots: Lake Tekapo, the mountains and a bright glow of purple. You probably know what purple I’m talking about. Yes, the “L” word – “lupins”.

Mackenzie Country is known around the world for its lupins; before Covid-19 Lake Tekapo would often have traffic jams around lupin hotspots.

The trouble is, when some strike that perfect Instagram pose – little do they know they’re actually frolicking among weeds.

Lupinus polyphyllus (which to be fair, sounds like the plant equivalent of an STI) is commonly known as the russel lupin, or just “that purple Instagram flower”. It is the weed equivalent of 1080; opinions are bitterly divided. . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2016

Blister protection product designed by Tekapo 21-year-old takes off – Esther Ashby-Conventry:

Fed up with watching his blistered clients being airlifted half way through their once-in-lifetime trip, a 21-year-old former mountain guide has developed a protective product made from merino wool.

Lucas Smith, of Tekapo, has just signed a national distribution deal with retail giant Torpedo 7, and headed overseas this week to work on the development of a new product.

Smith grew up in Timaru and went to Waihi School in Winchester before boarding at Christ’s College in Christchurch for his high school years. He dropped out of Victoria University half way through studying for a degree in anthropology and political science in 2014 to try software application.

Working as a tramping guide for visitors on the Routebourn and Milford tracks for the next two years was the catalyst for Smith to re-interprete an old technique for blister protection using the hyperfine wool of merino sheep and his life went in a totally different direction. . . .

Agriculture’s rebirth as the next sunrise industry – Steve Carden:

At the start of this month, a story ran that worried that New Zealand was on the road to becoming the “Detroit of agriculture”.

It was a provocative headline to a piece outlining the technologies that are disrupting and going to further challenge farming. The author was right. Some of these innovations are quite remarkable, and signal a shift in how food can be produced, as the world grapples with needing more food for more people with an already stressed environment.

But the irony of comparing Detroit with NZ agriculture is quite delicious. Because out of the fossils of Detroit’s waning car industry is the rebirth of the city based on urban farming. From the derelict unused buildings and empty lots are springing up a host of vertical farming companies and urban farming co-operatives. Detroit is emerging as a leader in urban farming. Detroit is being reborn, and the seeds of that rebirth are literal ones. . . 

Rampant rates a sore point with farmers:

Farmers are questioning the priorities and fiscal discipline of New Zealand’s councils as rates takes continue to outstrip cost indexes.

Analysis by Federated Farmers shows the consumers’ price index (CPI) went up 21% between 2006-2016. Local authorities have argued the Local Authority Cost Index prepared by consultants BERL is a fairer measure of cost pressures on local government, and that went up 33% during the past decade.

Both measures are dwarfed by the average 77 percent hike in rates by our 13 city, 54 district and 11 regional councils. New Zealand’s population went up by about 12% in the same period, with consequent growth in the rating base, but Local Government NZ had no figures on how much. . . 

Primary sector outlook stable says MPI – Nick Clark:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released its latest Situation & Outlook for the Primary Industries. 

It considers the outlook across the primary sector to be stable for the current year, as the dairy industry begins to rebound from 2016’s low and growth continues for the horticulture and forestry sectors. However, this is offset by a forecast 10.8 percent decline in meat and wool exports.

Total export revenue is forecast to be $36.7 billion for the year to June 2017, down $0.3 billion from the previous year.

Looking ahead, MPI is forecasting export growth of 5.4 percent per year from 2016 to 2021, when it expects primary sector exports to be $47.9 billion.  Much of the growth will be for dairy products, expected to rise by $7.3 billion (or 55.4 percent) to reach $20.7 billion.  Forestry, horticulture and seafood are all expected to continue posting steady growth over the next five years. . . 

World dairy prices trimmed at GlobalDairyTrade auction – Gerard Hutching:

As the futures market predicted earlier this week, world dairy prices have flat lined following the overnight global dairy auction. 

Nevertheless, after a year when prices for whole milk powder (WMP) soared from US$1952 in January to US$3568 last night, farmers will be able to pop the champagne corks this Christmas – or at the least methode champenoise. 

Federated Farmers dairy spokesman Andrew Hoggard said he had a bottle stored away which he would pull out on Christmas morning.  . . 

No end is sight with compliance demands – Lyn Webster:

Having been a dairy farmer for a long number of years, I have to say I regularly feel put upon by the pressing and never ending demands for compliance in my day-to-day activities.

It is like people or agencies are constantly monitoring my activities, poised to criticise or fine me at my every move. The constant pressure of this actually makes me feel physically ill, despite the fact that I have not actually committed any wrongdoing to date.

Here are two annoying incidents that have happened and expose the confusion and rigmarole surrounding all the red tape that wastes the time and energy I should be expending on my business. . . 

Milk bubbling, beef off the boil – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Another year draws to a close.

We have a New Prime Minister, Bill English, but I feel just the same. Maybe when Bill has a change in the Cabinet next week things may feel different.

These are tough times for those in North Canterbury and the Kaikoura Coast. Keep your chins up as best you can.

At last, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for the unfortunate dairy sector of the last couple of years and now the prospect of at least breaking even for many and a nice little profit for those savvy folks with low-cost production and little debt, which are mostly the mum and dad operations. . . 

Meat exports continue to fall:

Beef and lamb exports fell in November, as the amount of meat sold dropped heavily compared with last year’s record season, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Meat and edible offal exports fell $158 million (31 percent) from November 2015, contributing to a $219 million (5.4 percent) fall in overall exports.

Beef exports fell 41 percent in value and 31 percent in quantity, and lamb exports fell 27 percent in value and 23 percent in quantity.

“Beef exports to the United States, our top beef export destination, fell by around half when compared to November last year” senior manager Jason Attewell said. “When compared to the same month of the previous year, the value of beef exports to the US have fallen in nearly every month since October 2015, only rising once in April 2016.” . . 

New Zealand Set to Dazzle the World with a New Apple Variety:

New Zealand is set to dazzle the world with a new apple variety which has been launched today by Fruitcraft, after being licensed the worldwide rights by Prevar Ltd.

The apple variety PremA129, which will be marketed and known as Dazzle®, is expected to be one of the biggest apple variety launches since Royal Gala decades ago. All New Zealand apple growers will be able to grow Dazzle, and all fruit exporters will be able to sell it.

Dazzle is a large, red, sweet apple which has taken 20 years to develop by Plant & Food Research (PFR) at their research station in Havelock North. . . 

Multiple prosecutions likely after MPI makes series of large-scale paua busts:

Ministry for Primary Industries fishery officers have returned almost 600 undersized paua to the sea near Napier after several large-scale paua busts that occurred over one day.

Team Manager Eastern & Lower North Island, Mike Green, says a routine day last Friday turned into one of a steady stream of discoveries of people taking excess paua as well as undersized paua at Tangoio Beach.

“Officers were involved in at least five incidents over a matter of a few hours where people were caught with very large amounts of paua, most of which didn’t meet the minimum size requirements,” says Mr Green. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Directors elected unopposed:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Directors George Tatham (Eastern North Island) and Andrew Morrison (Southern South Island) have been elected unopposed to the Board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

In line with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Constitution, Tatham and Morrison were to retire by rotation at next year’s annual meeting.

Electionz.com who conducted the election for Beef + Lamb New Zealand said both directors had signalled their intention to seek re-election and had been returned unopposed. . . 


Enjoy the views if not the game

08/04/2012

I wouldn’t go quite as far as Mark Twain who reckoned golf was a good walk spoiled.

But the odd game – and when I’m playing odd is often the operative word – is enough for me.

However, interrupted or not, it would be difficult not to enjoy a walk with views like this:

This is what you’ll see at what is probably the country’s newest golf course, The Cairns at Tekapo.

We spent a weekend near by last month and were pleasantly surprised by the development since we’d last been there several years ago including a luge and hot pools.

We climbed up Mt John to the observatory where our exertion was rewarded by panoramic views of the MacKenzie Basin. We didn’t have time to do the night sky tour but it’s on our bucket list.


Only if it’s really dark do you see the light

25/01/2009

When city visitors stay with us they always comment on how dark it is at night.

I didn’t understand what they meant until staying in Auckland. When I woke up I couldn’t find my watch but could see through a gap in the curtains what looked like the half-light we get before sunrise so presumed it was nearly time to get up.

Some time later when it hadn’t got any lighter I found my watch and discovered it was only 3am and the half-light I’d thought was the prelude to dawn was the half-dark you always get in the city because of street lights.

It’s only in the country where there’s little or no light pollution that it gets really dark which enables you to see and appreciate the lights in the night sky.

The bigger the area and the sparser the population the better it is and the best place in New Zealand for the darkness that highlights the stars and planets is around the Mt John observatory beside Lake Tekapo.

The observatory already attracts visitors from around the world and locals are hoping to build on that with a bid to make the area the world’s first night sky reserve.


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