Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry

The  world stands  on  the  brink of a  food crisis worse  than  any seen  in the last  50 years, the  UN has  warned  as  it  urged  governments to  act swiftly to avoid  disaster.

So what  is the  Ardern  government  doing about  it?   Shouldn’t   it  be working  to  ramp  up  food production?  After  all,  NZ   prides  itself  on being  among  the world’s  leaders  in producing  high-quality  food.

Instead,  Climate  Change  Minister  James  Shaw is celebrating  being  “ ambitious” in tackling  what he calls the climate crisis with,  he   says,

“ … necessary rule changes that will incentivise NZ’s biggest polluters to invest in the transition to a clean, climate-friendly economy”.

This  includes putting a price  on  farming  emissions.   Shaw  reckons it’s great that this puts NZ further ahead on climate action than many other parts of the world. Continue reading “Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry”

Whatever it is called, Gypsy Day will go ahead this year and cows will be mooved – but under strict COVID-19 controls

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor eschewed the words “Gypsy Day”, in a press statement yesterday that addressed dairy farmers’ concerns about what would happen on June 1.  He preferred “Moving Day” and said Moving Day will go ahead as planned this year, but with strict controls to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Reporting this news, Farmers Weekly explained that Moving Day is also known as Gypsy Day and occurs on June 1 each year when many dairy farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to start new jobs and milking contracts.

Yet another expression was incorporated in a Federated Farmers press statement headline on April 9:  GYPSY / MOOVING DAY.

In the statement, the feds said they were aware of the level of concern among dairy farmers over how the annual 31 May/1 June “Gypsy Day” or “Moving day” shift would work under the COVID-19 controls. Continue reading “Whatever it is called, Gypsy Day will go ahead this year and cows will be mooved – but under strict COVID-19 controls”

Fonterra’s financial wellbeing and global auction prices are among the dairy sector’s challenges

It’s shaping   up as a  tough  season  for  New Zealand’s  dairy farmers,  who  once  proudly  wore  the  label  of  the  “backbone of the  NZ  economy” , earning  by far the  largest  share of the country’s  export income.

So  what  are  the  problems  confronting  the industry?

Uncertainty in markets, for starters.   Prices  at the latest  Global Dairy  Trade  auction this  week slid  downward for  the fifth  time in  six  auctions.

The  Chinese  economy is under pressure   as  Trump steps up  his tariff  war.  Brexit  is a  threat which  could disrupt  NZ’s  dairy trade to  both the UK and EU markets.

At  home the big  question is whether  Fonterra,  after  racking up  a  $196m  loss last season,  can claw its  way back to profit. Continue reading “Fonterra’s financial wellbeing and global auction prices are among the dairy sector’s challenges”

NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili

Is   Westland  Milk   one of  NZ’s  “key  strategic assets”?

NZ  First  is adamant  it is and believes the government  should be a  applying a  “national interest test”   to the proposed  sale of the company  to the Chinese  dairy giant Yili.

Those  who  see  heavily indebted  companies  like Westland Milk struggling to  make a profit and  not  even  matching  Fonterra’s payout  to its suppliers might take a  cooler view  to  the proposed  sale.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said he had received “mixed” feedback from West Coast farmers on the deal, which will require 75% approval. Continue reading “NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili”

Fonterra and farm leaders gripe at O’Connor’s DIRA decision – Greenpeace is even more grouchy

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor didn’t win too many new friends  (and may have lost some) with his  decision  on the review of  the  Dairy Industry Restructuring  Act, the  2001  legislation  which set up  Fonterra  supposedly to   become  a  “ national  champion”.   

We  all know  how  that  has turned out.

So   what were the reactions to  O’Connor’s  latest  move to improve the  legislation  which initially had the  objective of  “promoting  the efficiency  of  NZ  dairy markets”?.

Fonterra  chairman  John Monaghan  said  the company was disappointed it still has to supply milk to large, export-focused businesses. Continue reading “Fonterra and farm leaders gripe at O’Connor’s DIRA decision – Greenpeace is even more grouchy”

Politicians could stop beefing and take definitive action to support “real meat”

Federated Farmers today says it is puzzled why our national carrier is making a song and dance about an overseas-produced plant protein burger but not the Kiwi company that supplies them with world-leading transportation fabrics – wool.

Exactly who has been making a song and dance of the vegetarian addition to the airline’s inflight cuisine, however, is arguable.

On July 3 Air NZ announced it is giving customers “a taste of the future” through an inflight collaboration with Silicon Valley food tech start-up Impossible Foods. Continue reading “Politicians could stop beefing and take definitive action to support “real meat””

Dr Brockie takes up the cudgels for GM as Federated Farmers strategically withdraw

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But the question is: can we eat it?

Federated Farmers issued no press release – at least, none we can find – to confirm it has withdrawn legal challenges against local authorities over the regulation of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs).

News of the decision was reported by the Sunday Star-Times: national president Katie Milne confirmed to the newspaper that the feds had pulled out of all cases they were challenging, but would “just keep assessing it” in the future.

Whether this should halt public debate of the issue – and to what extent the scientists should be constrained – is a good question.

Yes, there other more immediate issues to occupy Federated Farmers’ resources – Mycoplasma bovis and compensation for farmers whose stock is being slaughtered to halt its spread, for example.

But Fairfax science writer Bob Brockie today is calling for the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, to do for GE what he did for P and clear up the myths.

Continue reading “Dr Brockie takes up the cudgels for GM as Federated Farmers strategically withdraw”