Rural news with Farm Source


- Farmers are deeply concerned about Labour’s proposal to slap a royalty on water usage if elected next month to assist with the cost of keeping our water clean. Labour’s new leader Jacinda Arden says the royalty will be flexible to reflect the scarcity or abundance of water in different regions, the different quality of water and its use. She claims the royalty levels will be set following consultation and the revenue will largely be returned to regional councils.

However, Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen says consultation is welcome but "talking won’t allay the fears of farmers of where this could go". The Feds are opposed to any royalty on irrigation water, especially when it remains unclear what purpose it would serve, other than adding another tax.

Labour’s Coalition partner, the Greens have floated a 10c/litre water charge. Allen says the 10c a litre figure some had bandied around would bankrupt farmers and cripple our export competitiveness and regional economies. He says even one thousandth of that figure would be "eye-watering" – given the volume of consumptive water use. Allen says with any royalty, farmers and growers would have little choice but to pass on the extra cost, meaning New Zealand consumers would pay more for food, and our products would be at a disadvantage against imports.

Meanwhile a Massey University agribusiness expert says Labour’s newly-announced water policy is problematic on several fronts.

Senior lecturer Dr James Lockhart believes there are better ways to make New Zealand’s waterways cleaner, without punishing specific sectors and damaging property rights. He adds that while some of NZ’s waterways have degraded with the intensification of land use this is due to many things with water extraction for irrigation, reducing flow levels only one.

Lockhart believes the impact on farmers will be immense, especially those in regions where water supply is at risk, including the Heretaunga Plains, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury and North and Central Otago. He adds with Labour’s proposed water tax at the levels being mooted, there could be as much as $500-600 billion to be paid by irrigation users, including vegetable growers, vineyards, and orchardists. He says agriculture and horticulture is being unfairly asked to bear the entire burden for the nation’s water use and the degradation of its waterways.

Lockhart says Labour’s water policy looks largely punitive – as opposed to being a deliberate effort to restore the quality of our waterways.

- The Ministry for Primary Industries says it is still assessing the likely means of entry into NZ of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, following its discovery on two dairy farms in the Morven area in South Canterbury. Mycoplasma bovis had never been recorded in New Zealand before its discovery in mid-July on one, and then a second, of the 16 dairy farms operated in the area by the Van Leeuwen family. The disease causes pneumonia, mastitis, abortion, arthritis, tendinitis, middle-ear infection and endometriosis. Management is only by culling. However, it has no effect on other animals nor implications for human health.

One of NZ’s major semen importers, World Wide Sires, has welcomed comments from MPI which it believes rules out imported semen as the source of the outbreak, but MPI says that is not necessarily the case. MPI says following a preliminary review of the scientific information, imported semen is regarded as a possible means of introduction, but is considered low risk due to the hygiene practices in collection and distribution. It adds that a formal reassessment of the risk posed by imported semen is ongoing.

- Agcarm, the industry association that represents crop protection, animal health and rural supplier businesses, has appointed its first female president.

Dr Pauline Calvert – who heads the production animal business for MSD Animal Heath in New Zealand – was elected president at association’s annual meeting on July 27. She says her election as president has nothing to do with her gender and that women contribute greatly to the industry and have done so for many years. She points out that there are many examples where women have leadership roles in the primary sector.

Calvert spent nearly two decades as a vet in mixed animal practice, before venturing into the regulatory environment as veterinary adviser for the Ministry for Primary Industries. She has been with MSD Animal Health for three years and is also an active member of the Pharmacology Chapter of the Australian New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists, as well as an examiner for the Chapter. Dr Calvert takes over from Mark Christie, who was Agcarm’s longest standing president.

- Meat processor Alliance says it has distributed $4.5 million to its farmer-shareholders as part of an initiative to reward loyalty. The cooperative’s platinum and gold farmer shareholders are paid a loyalty payment for each stock species they supply to Alliance. That means farmers supplying 100% of their lambs are paid an additional 10c/kg/animal, sheep 6c/kg/animal, cattle 8.5c/kg/animal and deer 10c/kg/animal. The cooperative says it has, so far, distributed more than $13.8 million in loyalty payments to farmers this year.

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor says the payment recognises the loyalty of farmers with shareholders rewarded for their committed and consistent livestock supply to the co-operative.


Rural News on REX thanks to NZ Farm Source.