Rural round-up

12/04/2021

A victory for common sense – Alan Emmerson:

My views on the original wintering rules are well known. Basically, the original system, the Essential Freshwater Rules on winter grazing, were unworkable and promulgated by a bureaucracy without any knowledge of rural issues.

It was obvious at the start that the rules wouldn’t work, but the civil servants continued at pace.

The Southland farmers protested, backed by the local council.

Then Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage labelled them irresponsible. I’d have called them realistic. I remain unconvinced that Sage has any idea of the practicalities of farming despite the nation relying on the ag sector for its prosperity. I’d have said the same for her department. . . 

Native forestry good for environment and climate – Paul Quinlan:

The Climate Change Commission says NZ should plant 300,000ha of new permanent native forests by 2035, but indigenous forestry advocates argue we should go much further in harvesting indigenous timber.

Nature-based forestry is ‘a blend between art, culture, and science’, where forests are managed on a continuous cover basis and allowed to reach their full potential in terms of the holistic services they can provide, including timber. Harnessing the power of markets is suggested as an effective way to shift land-use towards more natural forest management.

Last year, Dame Anne Salmond articulated an aspirational vision for “intelligent forestry” in Aotearoa. She has clearly been inspired by models of continuous cover forestry – specifically, ‘close-to-nature forestry’ practices, where the emphasis is on management of a whole and healthy natural ecosystem and where timber production is only one objective to be managed in a compatible way with the many other cultural, environmental and recreational values in each part of the forest. . . 

Environmental impact of forestry taking a toll on East Coast communities – Tom Kitchin:

East Coast locals are disheartened by the prospect of more forestry in the area as the industry grows.

The Climate Change Commission is encouraging the planting of thousands of hectares of forestry in decades to come.

But many people in Gisborne and Wairoa say the industry is damaging their pristine environment and ruining communities.

In Tolaga Bay, a small town of about 800 people nearly an hour north of Gisborne, one end of the beach near the famous wharf is almost clear and sandy, with only a touch of wood nearby. . . 

Team of 5 million – Gerald Piddock:

The new DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair says New Zealand as a whole needs to work together to achieve climate goals.

Getting the dairy industry to achieve tough new climate goals is like running an ultramarathon, recently appointed DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair Fraser McGougan says.

Both require small steps to get to the finish line and both are huge undertakings.

McGougan has already accomplished one of these milestones, having completed an ultramarathon in February. . . 

Trusty tractor at farmer’s side over decades, across world – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A tractor, is a tractor, is a tractor … but then there’s Ian Begg’s tractor. The former Wyndham Station owner talks about how this humble piece of farm machinery shaped his life. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

People ask him: “What are you?”

He answers: “I’m still a farmer, cos I’m nothing else.”

Ian Begg, the former owner of Wyndham Station in Southland has been many other things — orchardist, importer, real estate agent and developer. But the farm boy remains.

The 75-year-old was reminded of his roots when he attended Wheels at Wanaka at Easter, and was reunited with the tractor that took him 27,000km across the globe, and set a world record for the longest journey by a tractor in 1993-94. . . 

New chief at VFF eyes closer links with consumers – Gregor Heard:

NEW VICTORIAN Farmers Federation chief executive Jane Lovell believes agriculture has an excellent story to tell, but it needs stronger links to consumers and the community to do so.

Ms Lovell, who has a background in areas as diverse as plant pathology, politics and quality assurance, said providing a solid platform for agriculture to be able to demonstrate its credentials was a key goal in her new role.

“Talking about and demonstrating our sustainability and environmental stewardship are going to become even more important with consumers,” Ms Lovell said.

“Gone are the days when everyone had a farmer as a close relative and sadly, this means many people don’t have that connection to farming and the land,” she said . . .


Celebrating International Rural Women’s Day

15/10/2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

14/09/2019

Farmers feeling victimised by current government:

Farmers feel they are being dragged through the mud as continued environmental regulations are imposed on the sector.

An open letter has been sent to the Prime Minister this week asking for more consideration for the rural industry.

The letter says the Government’s approach to environmental policy is undermining the mental health and well-being of the pastoral sector . .

Govt freshwater proposals a blunt instrument for complex water problems:

The meat industry says the Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said they generally welcomed 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.” . . 

Foreign buyers circle dairy debt – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign hedge funds have approached the country’s largest rural lender about buying dairy loans the bank wants off its books.

It is understood a large international investment bank has flown in to sound out industry consultants on the potential for buying assets from the big banks, including loans to dairy farmers.

The international interest comes as the Australian-owned banks review their New Zealand operations in light of proposals from the Reserve Bank to significantly increase the amount of capital they must hold against their loans.

Feds plead for rates fairness – Hugh Stringleman:

Rating for revenue gathering by councils based on the salable value of farms is not a true assessment of ability to pay, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.

“It is a bit like assessing someone’s wealth on the basis of the car they drive,” she said in a forward to Federated Farmers Platform on the 2019 local government elections.

The federation makes no apology for focusing heavily on the cost of local government and how that cost is recovered. . . 

There are 600 jobseekers in Wairoa. Its major employer Affco meatworks wants to hire immigrants :

A leading Wairoa youth advocate hopes the town’s major employer will never have to use imported labour despite lodging an application with Immigration New Zealand for approval to hire overseas workers.

The application has been lodged by Affco Talley, current operators of a plant that has a history in the town dating back 103 years and employs hundreds of workers each year.

It’s opposed by the New Zealand Meatworkers Union, but Wairoa Young Achievers Trust youth service manager Denise Eaglesome-Karekare, who is also the town’s deputy mayor, has a goal to make sure any shortfall in the available labour force is still able to be filled by those in the town. . .

Vegan activists are tormenting farmers into quitting – Tim Blair:

Farms run as much on trust as they run on sweat, long hours and hard work.

By nature accessible and open, farms are not easily secured against destructive forces. That’s where the trust comes in. Farmers trust us not to damage their properties and livelihoods, and in exchange they feed and clothe us.

It’s a win-win social pact. Or at least it was, until the recent rise of militant veganism.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke last month described the torment caused by vegan and animal liberationist farm invasions. . .


Losing licence to farm

28/09/2015

One of Australia’s top farmers is in danger of losing his licence to farm:

David Blackmore’s wagyu beef is on the menu at some of the world’s most famous restaurants. The Victorian farmer counts US chefs Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck, England’s Heston Blumenthal, and locally, Rockpool’s Neil Perry among his fans.

The heavily-marbled beef, from the famed Japanese kobe beef bloodstock, can fetch up to $150kg at gourmet butchers.

The 5th generation farmer is a poster boy for Australian produce, featuring in Tourism Australia’s campaign to attract food lovers to visit the country. Chef Martin Benn from three-hat Sydney restaurant Sepia recently took Blackmore’s wagyu to New York as part of a showcase of Australian food.

There’s a steady trail of documentary film makers through his farm in Alexandra, 150km from Melbourne.

On Monday, Blackmore, 65, received yet another award for his beef at the Sydney Opera House. He was the 2012 livestock producer of the year.

But now he looks set to lose the Victorian farm where he’s been raising cattle for the last 11 years after a neighbour complained to the local council, saying, among other things, the farm attracted too many noisy cockatoos.

Last month, a majority of councillors ignored the advice of planning staff who recommended the Blackmore’s business continue, albeit under strict new guidelines, including a bird management plan, voting 4-2 against the continued use of the farm to raise the prized cattle.

The decision has alarmed farming community and chefs such as Neil Perry, who’ve started a petition backing Blackmore and calling on the Victorian government to intervene.

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) labelled Murrindindi Shire Council’s decision “absurd”, with the potential to “undermine the prosperity and future of agriculture in this state”.

VFF president Peter Tuohey said his organisation was worried that councils like this would use planning laws to stifle the growth of Victorian agriculture in rural areas.

“The fact is David Blackmore and his family were willing to comply with a raft of 20 permit conditions – from maintaining paddock cover to bird management,” Tuohey said. “Yet the councillors rejected the permit on the basis of three brief dot points that had already been addressed under the permit conditions.

“This is a roadblock to one of Australia’s most innovative livestock pioneering families.”

The 20-page planning report prepared by council staff was referred to several state government authorities, including the EPA, who all backed approving the continued use of the site to raise cattle.

While the VFF believe the Blackmores have a strong case to overturn the decision on appeal, David Blackmore told Business Insider he may look at selling up, and two other councils have already been in touch offering him incentives to relocate to their regions.

The Blackmore’s farm contributes an estimated $3 million annually to Murrindindi’s local economy and another $3m to the Victorian economy. It employs 10 people, along with Blackmore and his wife, Julie. Their beef is exported to 20 countries.

The planning dispute is over the intensity of the farming. Neighbours complained about noise and odours. Council is concerned about the environmental impact on the landscape.

Blackmore runs 1350 head of cattle on the 150 hectares, grain feeding them to create the distinctive marbling that’s the hallmark of wagyu beef.

He bought the farm in 2004 and says his stocking levels are lower than they were in 2001 under the previous owners.

“It’s been a feeding farm since 1998 and we did a lot due diligence before we bought it,” he said. “Everyone said we didn’t need a license.”

But Murrindindi council took a different view following the complaints. Blackmore says the problem was deciding what sort of permit was needed. Some argued it was a feedlot, but eventually it was designated as “intensive animal husbandry” and a permit was required.

Everyone signed off on it until it got to council. Blackmore has until the end of August to decide what his next step is. . . . 

We visited this farm a couple of years ago and were very impressed with what we saw and heard.

Blackmore has spent years and large sums of money in research, breeding, improving the farm, and developing and maintaining markets. His office wall was lined with awards and media clippings praising what he’d achieved on farm for animal welfare and environmental practices, and in the market.

Chef Neil Perry is furious. He’s been using Blackmore’s beef in all his restaurants since opening Rockpool Bar & Grill in Melbourne in 2006. The chef has started an online petition, appealing to Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and the agriculture minister to intervene so the Blackmores can continue to farm there.

“The council are saying this is all about intensive factory farming. I can tell you it’s not,” Perry told Business Insider.

“It’s just really ridiculous what they’re trying to say. There is no more ethical, sustainable farm in Australia and he’s a world benchmark for what ethical, sustainable farming is.

“This is what great farming is all about. It’s a beautiful and we should be proud of it.”

The chef has taken numerous other chefs to see the farm and laughs at the complaints about birds.

“Every time I’ve visited over the last 10 years there’s been cockatoos everywhere around the region,” he said. “How can they all be David’s fault?”

Blackmore says he put a lot of work into restoring the landscape on the farm over the last decade. The recommended permit, which council knocked back, demanded even more, but the farmer says he was already doing the work because “it was a good idea for animal welfare and economically as well”.

He cites the fact that the cattle put on 20% more average daily weight gain than they did in feedlot as proof that his farming methods work

“It’s because the cattle are happier,” Blackmore says. “We’re really open about what we do. It’s not as though we’re trying to put anything over anyone.” . . 

There is cold-comfort in the words of Shire mayor, Margaret Rae:

“It’s been disheartening to see that the message being portrayed is that Murrindindi Shire Council is ‘shutting down’ the Blackmore farming operation and that the owners are being ‘kicked out’. This is absolutely not the case,” the mayor said.

“Council’s refusal of this particular application does not prohibit Mr Blackmore from continuing to farm his land the way he was prior to choosing to intensify his program through intensive animal husbandry practices, which triggered the requirement to apply for a planning permit and also prompted concerns from neighbouring properties.”

Mayor Rae was one of the councillors who voted in favour of Blackmore being granted the permit he was denied. Her statement makes no mention of the fact that the vote ignored the advice of planning staff who recommended the beef farming business continue at its current level, albeit under strict new guidelines. . . 

Returning to how he used to farm would put an end to the business.

This is happening in Australia but it could easily happen here.

Meadow Mushrooms in Hawkes Bay, which has been operating for decades, is facing problems since a new residential subdivision was located near by.

The difficulty of maintaining the licence to farm will increase as urban sprawl,  lifetyle blocks and the imbalance in numbers and power between city and country continue to grow.


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