Sunday 18th February
Provisions to manage Fonterra’s dominant position in New Zealand’s dairy markets will continue under changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001. Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says the law change, passed by Parliament on Thursday, means the efficiency and contestability provisions of the Act will no longer expire in the South Island on 31 May 2018. The Government will now undertake a comprehensive review of the DIRA and consult fully with the dairy sector. Federated Farmers Dairy Industry chair Chris Lewis says it is a great opportunity to reach a binding agreement on the future direction of the dairy sector as there are many challenges. Details on timing, delivery and definitive scope of the review will be considered by Cabinet in the coming weeks.
National’s Rural Communities Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger, is calling for Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to listen to the needs of coastal Taranaki communities, as drought conditions worsen across the area. Mrs Kuriger reached out to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week to discuss ideas put forward by the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, but the Minister has not accepted the invitation to meet. She says drought conditions are at a critical level, and farmers in the region have ideas they want the Minister to hear, that could help minimise the impact. It’s understood the Taranaki Rural Support Trust have also attempted to engage in dialogue with Mr O’Connor on the issue.
An independent report has shown that water quality for sediment and E. coli have improved over the past 7-10 years in the Horizons Manawatu-Whanganui Region and concluded there are encouraging signs that local scale interventions are collectively contributing to regional scale water quality improvements. Horizons Regional Council natural resources and partnership group manager Dr Jon Roygard says the case study demonstrates how regulatory and non-regulatory intervention, including the benefits of supporting farm plans, targeting action on highly erodible land, upgrading point source discharges and undertaking fencing and planting of stream margins, can effectively improve water quality. Long-term targeted interventions, such as voluntary farm plans to reduce hill country erosion are in place under Horizons’ Sustainable Land Use Initiative. The programme is funded by central government, ratepayers and landowners, with assistance from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
Saturday 17th February
Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says initial results from the first round of milk testing from all producing dairy farms for Mycoplasma bovis indicate eradication of the disease remains a viable option as work to contain it ramps up. The first round of the joint industry MPI surveillance programme is near completion with no positive detections. Tests have been completed on the tanker milk from 9100 dairy farms without a positive detection. The remaining tests will be completed early next week. In addition to the milk testing, MPI is working with urgency to build a complete picture of the scale and location of the disease in New Zealand to fully inform whether eradication from the country is feasible and economically viable.
A marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about the ability to recruit suitable staff are stand-out features of the Federated Farmers Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey. For the first time in two years, farmer optimism has decreased, including negative perceptions of the economy, farm profitability, farm production and farm spending. Farm debt levels have also increased and fewer farms are now debt-free.Last month’s survey found that optimism about future farm production fell for the first time since January 2016, with dairy farmers the most pessimistic.
And a stellar line-up of rural sport athletes, representing an array of disciplines, have been announced as finalists for New Zealand’s premier celebration of rural sports – the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards. Chair of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Judging Panel, Sir Brian Lochore says the awards are about celebrating traditional sports and the people who keep events running year-in and year-out in the towns and settlements across New Zealand. This year’s finalists range from 11 to 77 years old and come from a range of rural sporting disciplines, including tree climbing, fencing, shearing, rodeo, endurance horses, wood chopping, gumboot throwing and, for the first time, egg throw and catch. The Awards Dinner is held on Friday March 9 at Awapuni Function Centre in Palmerston North, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North where nominees and winners will be competing.
Rural News on REX thanks to our partners at Farm Source.