Rural round-up

29/06/2021

At last – a paper that recognises climate and nutrition, with GWP* thrown in too – Andrew Hoggard:

Very recently a scientific paper was put out looking at the greenhouse gas and nutritional impacts of replacing meat in the average diet. The paper Lifetime Climate Impacts of Diet Transitions, with input from a number of very well respected scientists across a range of fields, found that the emissions reductions for a person who abstained from meat for a lifetime were very small – only 2 to 4%.  It also highlighted the risk of them missing out on key nutrients.  

It wasn’t so much the findings of this paper that I am most interested or excited by, rather the methodology that went into it. Two items really stick out: firstly, the fact that the paper includes nutrition understanding as well as climate science. Far too often when the subject of agricultural emissions come up, the full picture/understanding is omitted in favour of a narrow, siloed view.  

The problem with this approach is that it fails to recognise choices are never as simple as portrayed. For example, if we get rid of all animal agriculture and only have plant-based ag, what happens to all the crop waste? Think of the most common plants we grow for food: how much of that plant is consumed by humans? Quite often, less than half.  The rest we can feed to animals, which convert it into edible protein.  . . 

‘Shearing sheep was in my blood’ – David Hill:

An eight-month student exchange was enough to convince Diane Webster that New Zealand was the place to be.

The Dunsandel-based shearing contractor first visited New Zealand from the United Kingdom on a student exchange in the 1980s.

“I had always been in sheep farming. My dad was a sheep farmer and a stock truck driver and he used to shear sheep in the summertime, so shearing sheep was in my blood.”

She learned to shear while at agricultural college in the UK and when she first came to New Zealand, the host farmer encouraged her to do a shearing course so she could shear in this country, too. . . 

Hospo  life quite a ride – Ashley Smyth:

Hospo life seems to sit well with former Manuwatu farmers Craig and Blanche Sturgess.

It has been a “learning curve” for the couple, who bought the former Enfield School in 2016, converting the classrooms into a welcoming home, with bed and breakfast accommodation.

“We came from farming, which is not an easy lifestyle, so we’ve never been afraid of work, that’s for sure. And that’s just as well, because it is undoubtedly more work than I had thought it would be, but certainly not more work than we can handle,” Mr Sturgess said.

The business was perfectly placed on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Visitors tended to stop off after the long cycle from Kurow, and before the last push to Oamaru the next day. . . 

Husky health, dogsled tours and frostbite checking central to vet student’s win – Lauren Hale:

Working 12+ hour shifts outdoors in bitter Northern winter temperatures of minus 45 degrees, would send most school leavers shuddering under their duvets, but not Agcarm’s most recent scholarship winner, Gemma Neve.  The Massey University student, originally from Australia’s iconic Bondi beach, not only embraced the challenge of working with huskies in Finland but thrived on it.  Realising “an obsession with the North and the Northern Lights”, she secured a winter job-stay at a husky farm in Lapland. “Within a week, run ragged by long days with no sunlight, feeding 250 dogs, running dog teams and constantly wiggling my toes to slow the frostbite down,” she says she knew she was staying.

The dogs and the wilderness captivated Gemma and her initial three-month stint at Hetta Huskies kennel farm turned into five years – braving every winter there. Initially employed as a dog handler, Gemma soon progressed to guiding dogsled tours and being responsible for clients and dogs in her sole care for up to five days. “I enjoyed introducing people from all over the world to the wilderness. It was a lot of responsibility. You would go from one hut to the next, with all the gear.” She spent some summers travelling, including two stints working for a New Zealand sled dog company in the Cardrona Valley.

Taking on the challenge of managing the health, welfare and nutrition of 250 sled dogs in her second year at the kennel, located in the far north of Finland – high in the Arctic Circle, Gemma started running and documenting health checks. Part of her role included checking nipples and testicles for frostbite, assessing the dogs’ nutritional needs and ensuring they were in optimal health. . .

Fonterra agrees sale of China JV farms:

Fonterra has agreed the sale of its two joint venture farms in China, with the sale expected to be completed on 30 June.

The farms in Shandong province will be sold to Singapore-based AustAsia Investment Holdings for USD 115.5 million.

Fonterra, which owns the farms with a joint venture partner, has a 51% stake in the business and will receive NZD 88 million* in total asset sale proceeds, which includes cash on completion.

The sale of the JV farms is unconditional and requires no further regulatory approvals. . .

“Maverick” farm advisors with smart ideas invited to apply for research funding:

Do you have an innovative idea that could create real change for Kiwi farmers? Rural professionals are encouraged to team up with farmers to apply for $75,000 funding to rapidly test smart ideas and share the results.

Rural professionals are invited to team up with farmers to apply for funding to test innovative ideas that could lead to significant improvements in farming systems.

The Rural Professionals Fund, established in 2020 by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, is now accepting applications for a second round of funding to support projects that could benefit farming communities.

“We need to encourage more ‘mavericks’ to test smart ideas that challenge our patterns of behaviour,” says Stephen Macaulay, chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Managers (NZIPIM), a key partner in the fund. . . 


Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

23/01/2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


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