Rural round-up

17/06/2021

Floods highlight farmers’ vulnerability – Nigel Malthus:

The vulnerability of the roads has become a major concern for Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury president David Clark over a week into the clean-up following the region’s damaging floods.

Many road closures were still in force several days after the event.

“Delivering grain to the feed mill for us has gone from being a 30km trip to an 80km trip each way,” Clark told Rural News.

“We’ve got the [State Highway 1] Ashburton River bridge severely damaged and the slumping arguably is continuing to get worse,” he adds. . . 

Concern over SNA costs – Neal Wallace:

It will cost an estimated $9 million or $3000 per site for the Southland District Council (SDC) to map significant natural areas in its territory as required by the Government’s proposed biodiversity strategy.

The cost to ratepayers of councils having to identify significant natural areas (SNAs) is starting to materialise, but resistance is growing from private landowners concerned at the imposition on their property rights.

Although the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity is not yet Government policy, the Far North District Council is suspending its SNA identification process after protests from Māori landowners, including a hikoi.

The Far North District Council estimates 42% of the district on land owned by 8000 landowners could have areas of high ecological value. . . 

Council pausing SNA identification work – Rebecca Ryan:

The Waitaki District Council is pushing pause on its work to identify significant national areas (SNAs).

Last month, the council sent letters to nearly 2000 landowners about proposed changes to mapping in the district plan review, advising them the new district plan would increase the level of protection for SNAs, “outstanding and significant natural features”, “outstanding natural landscapes” and wahi tupuna (sites and areas of significance to Maori) on their private land. The letters also included maps of the proposed new protective overlays on the properties.

Waitaki landowners hit back at the council, criticising the mapping process and saying the letters did not contain enough information about what the proposed changes meant for them. Many expressed fears about losing productive land and the impacts changes could have on the value of their land.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher announced the pause in the council’s SNA work yesterday. He said there was “too much uncertainty” as the national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity (NPSIB) was still being developed. . .

Zero-injuries goal major investment for Alliance -Shawn McAvinue:

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker takes it personally when anyone gets injured at the meat processing plant, about 8km north of Oamaru.

The days of telling staff “to take a concrete pill and harden up” were over, he said.

Nearly 19 injuries were sustained for every 1million hours worked at Alliance sites across New Zealand.

The injury rate had fallen 80% in the past five years, he said. . . 

Back up the bus! – Sudesh Kissun:

Work together and stop throwing each other under the bus. That’s the message farmers delivered last week to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) at its first roadshow meeting in Glen Murray, Waikato.

About 35 farmers heard BLNZ chief executive Sam McIvor and director Martin Coup outline work being done by BLNZ on their behalf.

However, former Federated Farmers Auckland president Wendy Clark told the meeting that “there was a lot of throwing under the bus” during the Plan Change 1 consultation process.

Plan Change 1, introduced by Waikato Regional Council, is about reducing the amount of contaminants entering the Waikato and Waipā catchments. . .

Project pitches benefits of working with wool – Stewart Raine:

A new initiative focused on the recruitment, training and retaining of shearers and shed hands is expected to help ease the shortage of shearers across Tasmania.

The Wool Industry Workforce Development Project, funded by Skills Tasmania and coordinated by Primary Employers Tasmania, aims to attract young people into the industry.

It will provide coaching and mentoring throughout their developmental journey, and support farmers and contractors to improve workplaces to remove retention barriers. . .

 


Rural round-up

09/06/2021

Drugs, biofuel and handbags: meat byproducts are big business – Bonnie Flaws:

Meat byproducts such as tallow, collagen and blood are increasingly earning money for farmers; last year $1.6 billion worth of byproducts were exported, 17 per cent of the value of total meat exports, figures from the Meat Industry Association show.

Typically, animals are cut into four quarters for butchery of prime and secondary cuts. But it is what is known in the industry as the “fifth quarter” that has become a new focus for the sector.

Farmer co-operative Alliance Group global sales manager Derek Ramsey is responsible for extracting maximum value from the carcass and making sure every part is used.

Byproducts of the meat industry such as animal fat (tallow) are marketed as ‘‘specialty ingredients and materials’’. . . 

Wallaby eradication efforts being boosted – Rebecca Ryan:

Wallaby control efforts in Otago are being ramped up this month.

With funding from the $27 million national wallaby eradication programme, the Otago Regional Council is targeting the Kakanui Mountains, the Shag River (between Kyburn and Dunback), the Dunstan Mountains and from the Lindis Pass to Lake Hawea, using ground and aerial-based contractors to collect data on where wallabies are present, and destroy those sighted.

ORC biosecurity manager and rural liaison Andrea Howard said the long-term goal was eradication — and the council was optimistic it could be achieved.

“We’re in the privileged position of collecting information about the extent of the problem, rather than having to try and contain the problem,” Ms Howard said. . . 

Government should take lead on where carbon farming is allowed – Waitaki mayor :

The Waitaki mayor wants the government to change the rules on where carbon farming is allowed.

This week, more than 150 people attended a public meeting in Oamaru to hear about what the council can do about new proposals for carbon farming.

That is the practice of keeping the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and instead sequestering (or capturing and storing) it in, for example, pine plantations.. . 

The curious case of kill rates – Nicola Dennis:

This season’s steer and heifer kill has been off the chart, with the latest slaughter statistics (current to May 8) showing over 776,000 slaughtered throughout New Zealand since the season started in October. Compare this with last year’s record-high of 649,000hd for the same period or the five-year average of 618,000.

Depending on how you slice it, there has been an extra 127,000-158,000 of prime cattle in the supply chain this season. This is in spite of a very high prime kill last season, which probably tidied up most of the drought-affected cattle from last spring.

A boost in supply will always negatively impact farm gate beef prices. But, this season’s oversupply coincided with a major slump in processor demand driven by the shuttering of most of the world’s restaurants and by major disruptions in international shipping. This is why farm gate beef prices were struggling to surpass last year’s lockdown prices for much of the season. . . 

Meat the Need marks one-year milestone – Annette Scott:

One year on from its inception, Meat the Need has donated more than 400,000 red meat meals to food banks throughout New Zealand.

Meat the Need became a nationwide charity after being successfully piloted in Christchurch amid the covid-19 crisis.

The charity, created by YOLO Farmer Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures, enables farmers to help feed Kiwi families in need by providing the means for them to donate livestock through its charitable supply chain.

Langford says the high level of support from the farming community, alongside the support from meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF), has been key to the charity’s success. . .

New study helps reassess beef’s environmental impacts:

New research has shown how beef from temperate grassland systems provides key nutrients for human health – and how this data could help reassess the meat’s green impact.

The study examined the three pasture systems most regularly used in temperate regions – permanent pasture, grass and white clover and a short-term monoculture grass ley.

Researchers then analysed datasets from each to determine the levels of key nutrients in beef each system will provide.

Results suggest that each temperate system analysed is broadly comparable, which means temperate pasture-based beef could be treated as a single commodity in future impact considerations. . .


Rural round-up

21/05/2021

Owners upset over landscape changes – Rebecca Ryan:

Waitaki rural residents have reacted with concern to letters sent by the district council to nearly 2000 landowners about proposed changes to mapping in the district plan review.

Earlier this month, Waitaki District Council chief executive Fergus Power sent letters to affected landowners, advising them the new district plan would increase the level of protection for “significant natural areas”, “outstanding and significant natural features”, “outstanding natural landscapes” and “sites and areas of significance to Maori” on their land.

The letters also included maps of the new protective overlays on their properties, and a link to a survey for feedback.

Federated Farmers North Otago president Jared Ross said the letters did not contain enough information and, for most landowners, the proposed changes came as a surprise. . . 

Concern over forestry spread – Neal Wallace:

The Government has been accused of failing to fulfil election promises to protect quality soils from forest planting and to review the favourable treatment of foreign forestry investors.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says the Government promised to revise the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) to require resource consent for proposed forestry blocks larger than 50ha on class 1-5 soil but has not yet done so.

“We were told they would,” Hoggard said.

The Government has announced terms of reference for a review of the Overseas Investment Act (OIA), which provides favourable treatment of foreign forestry investors, but a report is not due until the end of next year. . . 

A promise is a promise :

NATIONAL’S spokesperson for Rural Communities Barbara Kuriger is backing yesterday’s call by Federated Farmers for the Government to deliver on its election promise to protect productive farmland.

“The Feds want a full review of government policies which are leading to the loss of productive farms, export income, employment and the undermining of rural communities,” she says.

“Labour pledged that if re-elected it would take less than six months to stop the rampant spread of large-scale exotic tree planting across the country.

“Feds president Andrew Hoggard is right when he says there are no signs at all the Government is seriously moving on this. A long-awaited review of the special forestry test for overseas investment also hasn’t got off the ground. . . 

New boss for Rural Women NZ

Rural Women New Zealand recently appointed Gabrielle O’Brient as its new chief executive.

“Gabrielle brings a wealth of experience from her previous general management roles in membership based organisations both in the charitable sector and most recently at the New Zealand Law Society,” RWNZ president Gill Naylor says.

“This experience combined with her earlier background human resources management, facilitation and organisation development provide her with a strong background to lead our team through the next phase of our development.” . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers managing to cope despite dry conditions – Maja Burry:

A recent survey of Hawke’s Bay farmers shows most finding ways to manage the dry conditions gripping the region.

Several areas on the country’s east coast are suffering with a second extremely dry year, prompting the government to unlock some funding support last month.

The Hawke’s Bay Rural Support Trust recently called about 30 farmers across the region and reported its findings to the local rural advisory group.

Group co-chair Lochie MacGillivray said meaningful rain and a mild winter was still very much needed, but at the moment farmers felt like they were in an adequate position. . . 

Are you leaving a farming legacy or a liability?

It’s sadly a familiar story in the rural community, someone dies and a family falls out over what happens next. Emotions run high and a sense of what is fair or appropriate can’t be agreed upon.

In fact, a death, retirement or a change in circumstances can bring about an unexpectedly time-consuming or complicated succession process even when everyone is amicable and in agreement.

The decision so many farming families put off making – what will happen when it’s time for someone else to take over – can be the difference between a farm business thriving, or struggling, for generations to come.

Leaving your farm to succeed is a matter of good planning, and getting those plans in place should be given the weight of importance it deserves. . .


Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


Rural round-up

06/07/2020

The perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19 – Eric Frykberg:

More evidence has emerged of the perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19.

The main problem is that many essential workers from overseas cannot come in because of travel restrictions, either as backpacking working holiday makers, or Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme workers from the Pacific Islands.

This point was made repeatedly by agricultural sectors at a Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee yesterday.

Representatives of the strawberry industry told the committee that had done all they could to attract New Zealand workers – even growing strawberries on tables so that pickers don’t have to toil all day bent double. . . 

Rural water hijacked – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are worried Environment Minister David Parker’s decision to fast track Watercare’s consent to take Waikato River water for Aucklanders will come at the expense of their allocations.

There is concern farmers who were ahead of the Auckland Council’s water company in the queue for consent applications could now miss out because of the decision, Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said.

“It’s not really right. A region should look after its own.” . . 

Farmers donate meat to charity :

A North Otago farmer who is among the first in the country to contribute to a new meat donation service is hoping others will follow.

Meat the Need is a national charity designed to supply meat to City Missions and food banks.

The meat is donated by farmers, processed, packed and delivered to those most in need.

Altavady Farm’s Kate Faulks was one of the first Silver Fern Farms farmers to support the cause, donating a cow and a beef steer.

She is part of a North Otago family business made up of four farms: two dairy farms (Providence farm, Fortitude farm), one dairy support farm (Living Springs Farm) and one dairy support/beef farm (Altavady Farm). . . 

Report shows swell in demand for irrigation – Daniel Birchfield:

A dry autumn helped the North Otago Irrigation Company pump out its third highest recorded volume of water to properties on its scheme since it was opened close to 14 years ago.

About 38million cum of water was delivered to 163 farmer shareholders, irrigating 26,000 hectares of land in the 11 months to May 31, the company’s report to the Waitaki District Council, presented on Tuesday, showed.

There was strong demand for irrigation over the peak summer period, after a typically slow start in October and November, which the report said was more than offset by demand in December and January.

The dry autumn which followed boosted demand further.  . . 

Hemp success at Darfield farm:

As one of the world’s most controversial (and misunderstood) plants, hemp is good for a whole lot of things: shoes, clothing, paper, you name it. And now it’s proven to be a perfect crop for the Co-op.

It was grown at Fonterra’s Darfield farm as a first-of-its-kind trial to see how hemp grows under dairy wastewater irrigation. They’ve found it’s a profitable, resilient and nutrient-gobbling alternative to the usual pasture grown at the 850ha Darfield farm, located just out of Christchurch.

While Hemp looks like cannabis, it does not contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

Fonterra’s Regional Farm Operations Manager, Steve Veix says the dry, hot Canterbury summers make it challenging to find the ideal crop to grow on-farm, which traditionally grows pasture. . . 

2020 Tonnellerie De Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year competition to go ahead:

Entries are now open for the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Competition. Plans are well underway for the regional competitions to take place throughout September and the national final in November.

The competition is open to all those under the age of thirty involved in wine production. This includes cellarhands, cellar managers, laboratory technicians, assistant winemakers and winemakers.

The competition helps stretch the ambitious contestants as well as help them widen their network and start making a name for themselves. . .


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