Rural round-up

September 22, 2018

Changes on the farm are improving water efficiency:

A water tax isn’t workable – but changes on the farm are improving water efficiency

IrrigationNZ says that introducing a nationwide water tax is not workable, and that allowing irrigators to continue to invest in more modern irrigation systems rather than taxing them will result in the biggest improvements in water use efficiency.

“A water tax has been considered in other countries internationally but in every case it has been abandoned. Other countries have found it too complex and expensive to design a fair water tax which can be easily implemented without resulting in adverse outcomes,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . .

1080 drop to go ahead after failed legal bid :

A conservation group has failed in its legal bid to stop a 1080 drop in the Hunua Ranges near Auckland.

The Friends of Sherwood Trust won a temporary injunction in the Environment Court halting the major pest control programme two weeks ago.

It argued that the drop breached the Resource Management Act which prohibits the dropping of substances in beds of lakes and rivers.

However today the court refused the Trust’s bid to further halt the drop.

“We are not persuaded that there is likely to be serious harm to the environment if the proposed application proceeds.” . .

Plans for huge tahr cull upset Otago hunters – Simon Hartley:

A sweeping cull of at least 17,500 Himalayan mountain tahr proposed by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, has outraged some recreational hunters in Otago.

Ms Sage’s sudden announcement of the high killing ratio may yet be challenged in court.

Killing of the tahr, which are related to goats and were introduced here in 1904, is to start within two weeks.

Ms Sage is proposing the Department of Conservation kill 10,000 animals in various areas in the Southern Alps over the next eight months because the animal’s estimated 35,000 population was “three times” that permitted by the long established Himalayan Tahr Control Plan. . .

Meat firms need more staff – Chris Tobin:

South Canterbury meat companies are so desperate for workers to start the new killing season they are recruiting overseas.

Immigration NZ has approved work visas for 24 migrant employees to work at Alliance Smithfield this season.

Figures released to The Courier by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) show Immigration NZ has also allowed Silver Fern Farms to employ 49 overseas workers in Canterbury, although the information did not specify what the break-down figures between the company’s two plants at Pareora and Belfast, Christchurch, were.

Work visas for 18 overseas workers for Anzco Foods at Ashburton have also been approved. . .

New Everyday FarmIQ pack targets mainstream dairy and livestock farmers.

A new range of software subscriptions from FarmIQ address the growing information needs of New Zealand dairy and livestock industry.

With a clear focus on the information needs of dairy and livestock farmers, the new packs will help mainstream New Zealand farmers run more productive and sustainable operations.

Darryn Pegram, FarmIQ Chief Executive Officer, said subscriptions start at $55 a month for the new “Everyday FarmIQ” software pack, delivering a broad suite of recording and reporting tools. . .

 ‘High-yield’ farming costs the environment less than previously thought – and could help spare habitats -“

New findings suggest that more intensive agriculture might be the “least bad” option for feeding the world while saving its species – provided use of such “land-efficient” systems prevents further conversion of wilderness to farmland.

Agriculture that appears to be more eco-friendly but uses more land may actually have greater environmental costs per unit of food than “high-yield” farming that uses less land, a new study has found.

There is mounting evidence that the best way to meet rising food demand while conserving biodiversity is to wring as much food as sustainably possible from the land we do farm, so that more natural habitats can be “spared the plough”. . . .


Rural round-up

September 22, 2017

Water tax ‘not about bottlers’ – they’d pay less than 3 per cent, says IrrigationNZ:

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern should not answer questions about the party’s proposed water tax by saying it’s about targeting water bottlers, says IrrigationNZ.

When Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was asked in last night’s TVNZ Leader’s Debate whether rural New Zealand had got offside with her over Labour’s proposed water tax, particularly the farming community, Ms Ardern answered: ‘No. I targeted water bottlers. . . I targeted water bottlers as that’s something New Zealanders wanted, for them to pay their fair share.” . .

Farmers should know they are still appreciated:

Rural New Zealand can easily feel ignored or misunderstood in political discussion these days.

Though this has been a predominantly urban country for many generations now, it is perhaps only in the last two generations that most New Zealanders were not familiar with farming life.

Previously, most would have had a family connection with farming and in many cases personal childhood experience of living on or near farms. So it is no wonder that the Labour Party’s proposals to tax farmers for river pollution and climate change should produce the demonstration in Morrinsville on Monday. . . .

Farmers must have say on water tax – Pam Tipa:

The Labour Party’s water tax policy is “pretty short on details,” and the farming sector needs to have input into a final plan, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons.
“If Labour is in government we would want to work with them to work out how we could best deliver on swimmable rivers, while making sure we don’t ‘crucify’ the primary sector at the same time.”

Parsons says Labour leader Jacinda Ardern had been clear that the party would not lay out all the detail until a decent conversation had been held with those who would be affected if they were in government. . . 

Six months has transformed farming country in once drought-stricken North Canterbury – Pat Deavoll:

What a difference six months has made to North Canterbury, which this time last year was still embroiled in drought.

Regular rainfalls since May have turned brown paddocks green, and farmers moods swing from despondent to optimistic about the summer ahead.

Will Wilding of Te Mania Angus stud at Conway Flat, said he was having “the best spring in a long time.” after three years of drought. . .

DCANZ, DairyNZ and MPI endorse Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam: 

DairyNZ, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have today endorsed the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, marking New Zealand’s commitment towards global sustainable dairy development.

The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam signals both a commitment towards feeding the world with safe and sustainable products, and enhancing sustainability. . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards a boost for work in progress kiwifruit orchard:

Entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards encouraged Whakatane kiwifruit growers Iain and Leanne Blackwood to “sharpen their game”.

The couple both work full time on their 7.95ha orchard, which includes 4ha of SunGold, 0.61ha of Sweet Green (G14) and 3.3ha of Hayward Green.

“We entered after talking to our neighbour’s daughter, who worked for Zespri, encouraged us to have a go,” Iain says.

The Blackwoods were still developing the golden kiwifruit when they were judged. . .


Tax teachers to tackle tail of failures?

September 19, 2017

Why don’t we tax teachers and use the money to tackle the tail of kids who fail at school?

That wouldn’t be fair, there are many reasons for children failing, you can’t hold all teachers responsible.

There are many reasons for the degradation of water quality, but you say it’s fair to tax all irrigators to clean it up. You could use the money for professional development for teachers who aren’t performing.

That’s ridiculous, you couldn’t take money from good teachers to upskill the bad. it’s not their responsibility, that’s up to principals or the ministry.

But Labour plans to take money from all irrigators and use some to bring poor performers up to standard even though regional councils already have the powers to make them comply.

And what about the teachers who are already doing everything they should, and spending their own money on further education. You can’t expect them to pay for those who don’t.

That’s exactly what Labour’s water tax would do. It would take money from irrigators who have spent and still are spending their own money to bring those who haven’t and aren’t up to scratch.

But what if the school doesn’t have a problem with pupils not achieving, what if it and it’s teachers are already doing everything they can for all their pupils?

The money could go to schools where there are problems.

But that’s not fair, you can’t tax teachers at one school and use the money to deal with problems at another.

That’s exactly the way the water tax would work. It would take money from the good in one place and use it to deal with problems in another.

But what if teacher standards aren’t the problem anyway? You can’t tax them for something over which they have no control.

That’s exactly how the water tax would work. It would take the money even if the problem with water quality was due to bird life, storm water or sewerage and nothing at all to do with irrigating or even farming.

And what exactly would the money be used for, how would it make a difference? You have to have a plan first then work out how to pay for it, not take the money and then find ways to spend it.

That’s exactly what’s been suggested for the water tax. Labour has said it would take the money, give some to Iwi, some to regional councils to clean up waterways, but with no plan for how they’d do that, and if any is left over it could be used for roads which are district council responsibilities. All of that’s very vague and nothing they’ve said explains how the money will make a difference to waterways.

Teachers always get the blame but you can’t make them pay because children are behind before they get to school, don’t have basic language, are hungry, have health problems . . .

Just like farmers get the blame for poor water quality when it isn’t them or their farming practices which are the problem.

It would simply be unfair to tax a whole group of professionals, with a vague intention to use the money to solve problems for which most aren’t responsible and over which they have little or no control and no concrete plan over how it could make a difference.

Exactly.

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

September 18, 2017

DairyNZ slams farm tax proposals – Hugh Stringleman:

All of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy farms face an average $18,000-a-year additional taxes under the carbon and nitrogen taxes proposed by the Green Party, DairyNZ has calculated.

Add in the Labour Party’s proposed water tax and those 2000 farms that also irrigate face more than three times the impost, an average of $63,000 per farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said details on the proposed new taxes were sketchy, but his economists used what was available from Labour and the Greens to come up with the figures. . .

Sell-off surprise – Alan Williams:

A process for the surprise sale of most Landcorp farms to young people will start very quickly if National is re-elected, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Landcorp was unaware of the plan till told just before it was announced.

He hoped to have several farms leased to young farmers during the next term.

That would be the first step towards them buying the farms over the next five to 10 years. . . 

From milk to advanced medical nutrition – a farmer’s journey from Southland to Toronto:

Dylan Davidson was a passenger in a car when the driver lost control after a deer ran out. The car rolled and left Dylan with two broken vertebrae in his back and several other injuries. Dylan lost a lot of weight from being in a coma for three weeks, and Dylan’s parents, Paul and Carol Davidson, said the Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) from Fonterra farmers’ milk played a key part in the healing process. The value of milk protein in human nutrition and muscle recovery has been well known for many years – but, as delicious as milk is, it takes litres of whole milk to do what a small amount of milk protein concentrate (MPC) can. . .

Florida’s Farmers Look At Irma’s Damage: ‘Probably The Worst We’ve Seen’ – Dan Charles:

When the worst of Irma’s fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida’s extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country’s biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. “The eyewall came right over our main production area,” McAvoy says.

The groves of orange and grapefruit were approaching harvest. But after Irma blew through, it left “50 or 60 percent of the fruit lying in water [or] on the ground,” says McAvoy. Many trees were standing in water, a mortal danger if their roots stay submerged for longer than three or four days. . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals. . . 

 


Facts on water tax

September 18, 2017

What will the water tax cost?

It depends.

Businesses, like Coca Cola, which take water from council supplies won’t pay anything.

Food producers which don’t irrigate won’t pay anything.

Farms, orchards and market gardens which do irrigate will pay and the dryer the year, when other costs rise too, the more they’ll pay.

David Clark gives the facts on what he’ll have to pay if Labour is in government ant imposes the water tax:

Today farmers will be marching in Morrinsville to protest against the tax.

I hope they stick to the facts.

There are enough of them to win the argument with anyone prepared to listen properly.


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


Punishing tax won’t clean up water

September 12, 2017

Andrew Dickens talks sense and science on the water tax:

I think his son is over-generalising about older farmers who don’t care, but he’s right that farmers are doing a lot to improve practices and that water quality is improving as a result of their efforts.

He’s also right that there’s no point taking money from farmers that they could – and most are – using to improve the environment.

And he’s right that a punishing tax won’t clean waterways.

Horticulture New Zealand says science and technology will:

Using science and technology to inform sustainable farming practices and reduce adverse environmental impacts will have better outcomes than taxes will, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Reacting to today’s announcement from the National Party that it will invest $20 million in what was the Sustainable Farming Fund and is now the Future of Farming Fund, Chapman says this will do more in perpetuity than an arbitrary water tax.

“National made this announcement on a horticulture property near Levin where science and technology are being used to inform and enhance the environmental sustainability of growing food,” Chapman says.

“One of the Sustainable Farming Fund projects Don’t Muddy the Water has a focus on keeping soil in the paddock and out of the waterways, this is a win for the environment and for farmers and growers.

“This research will quantify the effectiveness of sediment control on cultivated land and is an example of working proactively with regional councils.

“This property is also part of a three-year Freshwater Improvement Fund project: Protecting our Groundwater – Measuring and Managing Diffuse Nutrient Losses from Cropping Systems.

“Environmental sustainability is paramount as it relates to freshwater and horticulture growers are very aware of this. This project will give us really useful information to target on-farm management practices to meet environmental expectations.

“Ultimately, we are looking to give growers the tools to manage and reduce their environmental footprint and long-term, robust data and science will allow us to do that.

“Food consumers world-wide are increasingly wanting information about the environmental impacts of the food supply chain, particularly when it comes to healthy food such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Our growers are mainly intergenerational family businesses with a lot of collective knowledge about cropping systems and the environment. Working with them, rather than punishing them with taxes that are not even related to good environmental outcomes, will have the most positive impact on reaching whatever targets a new government sets.

“Horticulture New Zealand supports sound, consistent water policy to support efficient use of water and we have issued our own such policy (available here).”

 


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