Rural round-up

November 6, 2019

Hort strong but uneasy – survey – Pam Tipa:

Positive sentiment still prevails across horticulture, but Government policies are weighing on the minds of growers.

So says Hayden Higgins, Rabobank horticulture senior analyst. He was commenting on results of Rabobank’s early September confidence survey of 59 horticulturalists (see sidebar for details).

The results saw only minor shifts, some up and some down, in results pertaining to their own businesses. . . 

Farmers need empowerment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Reducing stock numbers and increasing legislation is not the way to empower farmers – or attract newcomers to the sector, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

People hearing the media coverage of farmers under stress can be forgiven for wondering why the farmers are so worried.

After all, they have been told repeatedly that they can reduce their environmental impact by reducing stock numbers, and that doing so will increase farm profitability as well. . . 

Directors Donna Smit, Andy Macfarlane returned to Fonterra board :

Fonterra directors Donna Smit and Andy Macfarlane have been returned to the co-op’s board after retiring by rotation.

Shareholders Scott Montgomerie and Ellen Bartlett were elected unopposed to the directors’ remuneration committee and Ian Brown was elected unopposed as the Fonterra farmer custodian trustee, Fonterra said.

All successful candidates will take office at the close of Fonterra’s annual meeting in Invercargill on Thursday. . . 

 

Meat processor still shut down –  Sally Brooker:

Oamaru Meats is still working through the problems that forced it to shut down in September.

The company, owned by China’s BX Foods, stopped all processing after access for its beef to China was suspended.

Director Richard Thorp said about 140 staff were stood down while managers worked with New Zealand and Chinese authorities to regain the lost access.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said the suspension was not related to food safety issues and applied “only to Oamaru Meats and not to exports from any other New Zealand meat establishments”. . . 

Naked and afraid: breeding for shedding sheep – Nicola Dennis:

I have written before about how much we love our shedding sheep. We love our Wiltshires from a distance because they never really need any hands-on work. Wiltshires don’t need shearing, dagging or tailing.

Our Wiltshires were “bred up” from minimally shepherded Perendales by the previous occupants of our land. They stag leap over fences at the very sight of us. Because of this, we have also discovered that we can forgo drenching and almost all other forms of handling. From my window, I can see the ewes roaming over the hills in the distance with troupes of energetic lambs bouncing behind them. That is about as close as I will get until it is time to draft the lambs for their big OE. . . 

Livestock farmers feel ‘under siege’ amid climate change and vegan debates – Chris Hill:

Livestock farmers feel “under siege” from a barrage of negativity over climate change, agricultural emissions, healthy diets and veganism – and they urged a more balanced discussion about more sustainable meat production.

In recent months, the under-fire industry has been highlighted as a key component of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, sparking discussions on the global impact of farm animals on the environment, and debates about whether meat-free diets could be part of the solution to global warming.

It added to the ethical arguments of a vocal vegan movement, endorsed by influential celebrities like Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who recently sparked controversy by saying adopting a vegan diet is the “only way to truly save our planet”. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 30, 2019

Tourist demands leave rural practices without a GP for hours – Tess Brunton:

The pressure of having to look after an influx of tourists is leaving some rural doctor’s practices without a GP for hours on end. 

In an emergency, doctors have to abandon the patients at their practices to go out to help. 

They are worried that will happen more often as tourist numbers increase – and they will not have any extra support. . . 

High deer prices sustainable – Neal Wallace:

High and stable venison and velvet prices have been reflected in strong demand for stags with a top price of $155,000 paid for a velvet-trophy animal sold by Crowley Deer from Hamilton.

It was not alone in achieving phenomenal prices.

The Stevens family from Netherdale stud in Southland sold a velvet stag for $90,000, another Southland stud, the Elder family’s Altrive stud, got $75,000 for a velveting stag, Brock Deer from Gore sold a velvet stag for $70,000 and Tower Farms, Cambridge, made $65,000 for a velvet-trophy stag. . .

Cannabis firm soared to new highs – Luke Chivers:

An East Coast company will be the first to import stronger cannabis under new biosecurity laws.

Hikurangi Cannabis in Ruatoria has been granted permission to cultivate 16 new varieties of cannabis – including some of the first high-THC strains to be legally imported – for medicinal use.

The new cultivars include five varieties with high levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. . .

Pace of change keeps getting quicker – Allan Barber:

Perhaps it’s my advancing age, but it seems as though the changes facing agriculture demand ever faster reactions and responses to stay ahead or even just to keep pace with a whole series of challenges: public expectation, government regulation, consumer tastes, changing climate patterns, and new technologies as well as the usual ones like finances, human resources and health pressures, both physical and mental.

In this age of apparently unlimited opportunity to access advice and assistance, whether from consultants, bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT experts, processors or industry bodies, there’s almost too much choice. The main challenge is choosing between products, services and advice which cover the range from the merely desirable or useful to the downright essential. . .

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open in February:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open February 1st.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced last year by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz . .

Is the vegan health halo fading? – Shan Goodwin:

VEGANISM’S health halo appears to be dissipating with the spread of nutritional advice that highly-processed packaged offerings are little more than junk food and as everyday consumers push back against overzealous campaigning.

Big United Kingdom movement Veganuary, which urges people to ditch animal products for the month of January, has backfired for the anti-meat army, many marketers and nutritional experts believe.

Health writers have used the event to take a close look at the nutritional values of a vegan diet and have come up with headings like “Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy” and “Vegans take more sickies.” . .


Will it be eat less meat by decree?

June 5, 2018

Are we in danger of being forced to eat less meat by decree?

Climate Minister James Shaw says people worried about their carbon footprint could reduce their meat intake by a meal a week, but says this is not the government’s official stance. . . 

“Ninety five percent of new Zealanders consume meat, and it is fairly obvious there is a lot of water, a lot of energy and a lot of land use that goes into protein production that way,” he said.

A lot of water, energy and land use does go into producing protein by grazing animals.

But a lot of water, energy and land use go into producing the equivalent protein and other nutrients in vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

“If somebody wanted to have an immediate impact, they could eat one less meat meal per week.

Is that statement based on the New Zealand system which a Lincoln University study found produced meat that landed on a UK supermarket shelf had a lower carbon footprint than the locally product?

“We’re not encouraging that as a government. What we’re trying to do is to ensure that there’s settings right across the economy that make sure people are supported.”

So not no meat by decree, but what does making sure people are supported mean? Will we be paid to not eat it?

Health professionals are generally happy with moderate amounts of lean meat as part of a healthy diet.

Whether “supporting” people to eat less meat is better for the environment and health depends on what replaces it  how what replaces it is produced and on its nutrient value.

Has anyone done a study on the environmental and financial costs of looking after land that no longer grazed stock but wasn’t suitable for growing crops or vegetables?


Rural round-up

May 19, 2018

Blame Fish & Game for why I didn’t buy a fishing licence – Jamie McFadden:

Last year I didn’t buy a fishing licence – the first time in over 30 years of fishing. When asked by two Fish & Game rangers for my fishing licence I said I had an exemption. I gave them a written document which outlined a number of reasons why I was exempted.

The first reason was “inappropriate use of licence holder funds “. The exemption noted that Fish & Game have used licence holder monies to run a nationwide media campaign targeting one sector of our society. I have no issue with raising issues about water quality but Fish & Games ‘dirty dairy’ campaign deliberately and unfairly branding all farmers as environmental vandals has done a huge amount of damage to community wellbeing. Farmers are not the only ones impacting water quality and targeting one sector in this manner is inappropriate conduct for a statutory organisation. . .

Town encroaches on 150-year farmers – Heather Chalmers:

 For 150 years the Morrish name and arable farming has been a winning combination, writes Heather Chalmers.

Having farmed the same land near Christchurch for more than 150 years, the Morrish family say encroachment from the nearby town of Rolleston will most likely spell the end of their ties with the original family farm.

Farming at Broadfield, between Lincoln and Rolleston, fourth generation brothers David and John not only farm the same land, but continue the same type of farming – mixed sheep and cropping – as their ancestors, even if the type of crops and farming methods have changed over the years.

They also believe in long-term farming relationships, having supplied the nearby Heinz-Wattie’s factory with processed peas since the Hornby factory on the outskirts of Christchurch was opened in 1970. . .

Pittance for MPI, biosecurity halved:

For a Government that has been running around telling anyone who will listen that Biosecurity is underfunded, it has allocated an extraordinarily small sum to strengthen the system, National’s spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced a paltry increase of just $9.3 million for Biosecurity which is half of what National invested in Budget17 at $18.4 million.

“This is a 50 percent reduction and makes a mockery of the Government’s recent rhetoric. . . .

Grass-fed beef the most vegan friendly in the supermarket – Drew French:

Probably the most vegan item you can buy in the supermarket is a pound of grass-fed beef.

I was thinking about that heretical idea as I drove through my neighboring countryside, scanning empty cornfields for signs of life and wondering at the hubris of mankind. When did we decide that we can own all the lands of the Earth and use every square inch of it for our own needs? About 10,000 years ago, actually, when we invented the idea of agriculture.

Sadly, in the practice of agriculture it is impossible to not cause endless suffering to many living creatures. One could argue that the most suffering of all is caused by annual agriculture, the cultivation of vegetables, including grains, beans, and rice, that only take one year to grow from seed to food. . .

Farmers told to change mind-set when UK leaves EU :

George Eustice, the Defra Minister of State for Agriculture described his vision for post-Brexit agricultural policy at a recent event in Cornwall.

The event attracted more than 70 people to Healey’s Cyder Farm, near Truro on Friday 11 May.

Mr Eustice stated that he saw new policy as “rewarding and incentivising farmers for what they do, and not subsidising them for income lost.”

He told the audience: “The end state we seek is support, not based on the amount of land that they own, but to reward them for helping the environment, water quality and to changes in husbandry to deliver for the environment and research and development into more productive working practices.” . .

Bee-ing grateful to our pollinators :

It’s a bee!” someone screams as they jump up from their picnic blanket, knocking over their apple juice and flailing their arms, trying to get away from this flying creature. Does this scene sound familiar?

Many people are afraid of bees. And why not? They look like aliens. They have stingers that hurt more than you would expect and some people are very allergic, even deathly allergic, to them. But contrary to our fears, bees are not aggressive insects and do not go after humans unprovoked. When they come near you, it is only because you have something they consider yummy. And if you knew all that they do for you, you would be happy to share your food or drink with them . . 


What’s he going to farm?

November 23, 2012

Film director James Cameron has gone vegan for the animals and the planet.

It’s not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it, so it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere.”

He’s also bought New Zealand farms.

. . “They are acquiring the land as part of a larger acquisition of land in South Wairarapa, which they will use as a residence and working farm, ” . . .

If he thinks it’s morally better to not eat animals then it would follow that he thinks it’s wrong to farm them.

If the more than 1,000 hectares he now owns is going to be operated as a working farm, what’s he going to farm on it?

Trees for timber and/or carbon perhaps. Manuka for both carbon and honey might also be a possibility.


Comparing apples with milk – updated

August 23, 2012

Update: The tech fairy is playing games with this post.

It first made the comments I wrote below the picture, which I found on Facebook, disappear. Then it got rid of the all the links in the side bar.

Because of that I’ve dumped the picture and typed what it said:

If everyone went vegan, would it destroy our economy?

The milk industry uses 1,638,706 hectares of land. With this it employs 45,000 people and earns, $NZ10.4b in profit annually.

Per hectare of land that is:45000/1638706 = 0.027 employees and 10.4×106 = $6.346.47 in profit.The horticulture industry uses 121,000 hectares of land. With his, it employs 50,000 people and earns $NZ 4b in profit annually. Per hectare of land that is 50000/121000 = 0.4 employees and 4×106 /121000 = $33.057.85 in profit.

Changing land from dairy to horticulture would employ 15 times as many people and improved New Zealand’s profit 5-fold.

No it would probably improve it.

I have no idea if those figures are correct but even if they are, there is a serious problem with the reasoning because it’s not comparing apples with apples.

 

Not all land which is suitable for dairying is suitable for horticulture.
Many horticulture products are fragile, don’t travel well and have short shelf-lives. If they’re not sold they perish; milk powder travels well and can be stored for ages.
Dairy products are high in protein and calcium, few if any horticulture products have these nutrients.
Markets which want dairy products want dairy products. If they can’t buy ours they’ll buy someone else’s, they won’t swap to fruit and vegetables instead.
The anti-dairy lobby is visible and vocal but if this picture is typical their arguments are long on emotion and short on facts.

“Healthier” milk?

July 11, 2011

Marks and Spencer is to become the first retailer in Britain to launch a brand of “healthier” milk.

The milk is said to have at least 6% less saturated fat than standard milk due to a tailored dairy cow diet -trialled last year – that features the removal of all palm oil.

I haven’t seen the results of any scientific studies on the affect of palm oil on milk quality and its fat content but diet does impact on the quantity and quality of milk produced by animals and people.

Babies of vegan mothers who fully breast feed don’t get enough fat for brain development and healthy physical growth.

To support farmer suppliers who convert to the new feed regime, M&S will introduce a new payment contract for farmers who achieve the reduced saturated fat level. M&S says the contract will recognise any additional costs incurred.

This is how the market should work. The end user tells farmers what it wants and is prepared to pay a premium to compensate for the added costs of producing it.

Fonterra should keep a very close eye on this development for two reasons: palm kernel is used as a feed supplement here and could be affecting the quality of milk produced; and there could be a premium for our milk, most of which is supplied by free range, grass-fed cows.


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