Government commits $4 million additional support for flood-affected Canterbury farmers

Did our president’s latest newsletter to NZIAHS members do the trick and persuade the Government to be more generous to Cantabrians?

Professor Jon Hickford’s comments in the newsletter on issues related to ag/hort science and to the sectors they serve included this observation:

The Government’s response to the flooding which inflicted millions of dollars of damage on farmers, growers and others in Canterbury – the offer of $500,000 of help – was sadly ill-timed.  It coincided with the announcement of a $780 million investment in a bridge for walking and cycling across the Waitemata harbour, to be built alongside but separately from the Auckland Harbour Bridge. 

The Government has not reconsidered the bridge project, so far as we know.  But it has increased its financial help for the cleanup after the flood.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced the Government is injecting a further $4 million into relief funding to support flood-affected Canterbury farmers who are recovering from the damage of a historic one in 200 year flood. Continue reading

PM joins global leaders on climate warming while another step is taken to measure methane emissions

Two statements from the Beehive have drawn attention to the government’s aims to tackle climate change, reducing emissions and paving the way for a carbon-free New Zealand.

One of the statements reminded us that the US is back in the business of joining other countries in efforts to combat climate change.

This came from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said she had joined President Biden at a virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate hosted by the United States overnight.

The summit, held for Earth Day, brought world leaders together to galvanise efforts to reduce emissions this decade and keep the shared goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels within reach.

“New Zealand welcomes the United States’ international leadership on climate change and sees this summit as an important opportunity to work collectively to drive effective global action on climate change,” Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand was asked to specifically participate in the climate finance session of the Summit. Continue reading

Experts comment on Govt’s announcement of world-first plan for farmers to reduce emissions

The Government today announced that it and farming sector leaders have agreed to a world-first partnership to reduce primary sector emissions in one of the most significant developments on climate action in New Zealand’s history.

Farming leaders and the Government unveiled a five-year plan to join forces “to develop practical and cost-effective ways to measure and price emissions at the farm level by 2025, so that 100 per cent of New Zealand’s emissions will be on the path downwards”.

The  five-year plan will aim to measure and price farm emissions by 2025, with a backstop for Government to bring the sector into the Emissions Trading Scheme if insufficient progress has been made by that date.

The  joint action plan includes:

  • Improved tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms
  • Integrated farm plans that include a climate module
  • Investment in research, development and commercialisation
  • Increased farm advisory capacity and capability
  • Incentives for early adopters
  • Recognition of on-farm mitigation such as small plantings, riparian areas and natural cover.

Continue reading

Federated Farmers applauds Budget’s farming investments

We could find no mention of their speeches on the Beehive websites of either the Prime Minister or the Minister of Agriculture.

But Jacinda Ardern and Damien O’Connor today spoke about the focus of the $229 million Sustainable Land Use package in last month’s Budget.

Our information comes from Federated Farmers, which said moves to improve the accuracy of Overseer, and on-the-ground support for farmers working to lift their environmental sustainability, are positive steps.

The statement says Ms Ardern and Mr O’Connor spoke at Fieldays today about the focus of the $229 million Sustainable Land Use package in last month’s Budget. Continue reading

“Split gas” approach will be taken in landmark climate change bill which is going to Parliament

The Government today is delivering “landmark action” to address the long-term challenge of climate change by introducing the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to Parliament.

As Stuff portended last week, a deal has been negotiated to set a “split gas” target.  This will treat methane differently from other long-lived gases, like carbon.

NZ First and the National party had slowed progress on the contentious legislation over concerns about emissions targets hurting their farming voter base.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a practical consensus across Government has been built, creating a plan for the next 30 years which provides the certainty industries need to get in front of this challenge. Continue reading

PM’s top science prize goes to DNA crime scene software

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods today congratulated the winners of the 2018 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes.

She joined some of New Zealand’s top scientists to celebrate the 10th year of these awards.

“Our Chief Science Advisor’s Meth Report has recently shown the important role that science plays in informing our policy decisions, and the crucial role that accurate science communication plays,” she said.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods congratulated the award winners and their families, supporters, colleagues and friends who have played a part in their success. Continue reading

Recovery package unveiled for farmers getting back to business after Mycoplasma bovis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor today set out a recovery package to help farmers get back to business more quickly after being cleared of Mycoplasma bovis.

The recovery package, rolled out by the Ministry for Primary Industries and response partners DairyNZ and Beef+LambNZ, includes:

  • DairyNZ and Beef+LambNZ Compensation Assistance Team
    • DairyNZ and Beef + LambNZ have put together a team of rural professionals who understand both farming and the compensation process who can sit down and work with farmers on their claims. The $400,000 cost is funded through the response.
  • Improved compensation form and guide
    • Set to be released this week, the simplified form will be easier to follow and the supporting guide will make clear what documents need to be submitted to ensure prompt payment of compensation claims.
  • Online milk production losses calculation tool
    • An online tool for farmers to easily estimate their milk production losses, to speed up compensation claims, will shortly be released.
  • Rural Support Trust boost
    • MPI has now completed training 80 Rural Support Trust members to provide crucial welfare support.
  • Regional Recovery Managers, in addition to the Acute Recovery Team
    • The Regional Centres in Invercargill, Oamaru, Ashburton and Hamilton will each have a regional recovery manager. They are being nominated and seconded by DairyNZ and Beef+LambNZ and will help farmers develop a tailor-made recovery plan.

Ms Ardern and Mr O’Connor made the announcement on Bryce and Julie Stevenson’s beef farm in Wairarapa as the couple restock after eradicating Mycoplasma bovis.

Mr O’Connor said the response is making good progress in its world-first eradication attempt.

It was important to remember that confirmation of newly identified properties did not mean the disease was spreading, he said.

“It means we are tracing historically infected cattle and milk movements, many of which occurred before the disease had been discovered.

“Working closely with our farming industry partners, the Government remains confident eradication is on-track and we have a good chance of success. I thank all farmers who have helped get us to this point,” Damien O’Connor said.

Of New Zealand’s 24,000 farms, 74 have been infected to date with 36 subsequently destocked and cleared of Mycoplasma bovis.

Source:  Minister of Agriculture

Call to tackle GM myths should be redirected to PM’s new Chief Science Advisor

Forget about the suggestion Sir Peter Gluckman step up and debunk the claims of GE-Free-NZ and Greenpeace because “there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support these fear-mongers”.

Let’s direct the suggestion, rather, to Professor Juliet Gerrard.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced Professor Gerrard will succeed Sir Peter as the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.

Professor Gerrard, Associate Dean of Research at the University’s Faculty of Science, replaces outgoing Chief Science Advisor and University of Auckland Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman.

In the first weeks of her appointment, Professor Gerrard says she will connect with the Departmental Science Advisor network and key stakeholders and visit scientists around the country to listen to a range of views on the opportunities that science, in its broadest sense, offers New Zealand.

“I am very much looking forward to connecting with a cross section of scientists from all types of institutions, especially emerging scientists,” Professor Gerrard says.

Perhaps she will bump into Dr Bob Brockie during her travels and listen to what he has to say about the need to remove the myths around genetic modification.

Professor Gerrard trained at Oxford University where she completed both Honours and Doctorate degrees in Chemistry and Biological Chemistry.

A scientist at Crop & Food Research, she was appointed Lecturer in Biochemistry at the University of Canterbury in 1998 where she became Professor and Director of the Biomolecular Interaction Centre until 2014.

She is a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Auckland where her research interests cut across biochemistry, health, agriculture, food science and biomaterial design.

Her interdisciplinary and collaborative research incorporates both fundamental and applied research.

To maintain independence, she will not apply for research funding in New Zealand during her term and has resigned her board roles.

Source: University of Auckland

Govt announces plan to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis

The Government and farming sector leaders have agreed to attempt to rid the country of Mycoplasma bovis to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

The decision was taken collectively by Government and farming sector bodies after months of intense modelling and analysis to understand the likely impacts of the disease, the potential spread and the costs and benefits of eradication versus other actions.

The full cost of phased eradication over 10 years is projected at $886 million.

Of this, $16 million is loss of production and is borne by farmers and $870 million is the cost of the response including compensation to farmers.

The Government expects to do most of the eradication work in one to two years.

The Government will meet 68 per cent of this cost and DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand will meet 32 per cent.

“This is a tough call – no-one ever wants to see mass culls,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd. We have a real chance of eradication to protect our more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms, but only if we act now.”

Both the Government and its industry partners wanted farmers whose stock would be killed to know support is there for them.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said it was important all farmers supported the eradication operation.

“In particular farmers need to be meticulous with animal movement records and the way they use NAIT,” he said.

“We have already begun improvements to make it easier to use.”

Mr O’Connor acknowledged Mycoplasma bovis is a difficult disease to diagnose and to control.

“For this reason, it is possible that at some stage we may have to let the fight go and learn to manage it in our herds.

“We have a set of reassessment measures that, if met, would prompt us to re-evaluate the plan. These include finding the disease is more widespread than our surveillance and modelling anticipates or a property is found that pre-dates the earliest known infection of December 2015.”

Spring testing this year would give an opportunity to reassess the feasibility of eradication when results are received in February, because  Mycoplasma bovis is at its most detectable after calving.,” said Damien O’Connor.

Eradication will involve:

  • Culling all cattle on all infected properties along with cattle on most restricted properties
  • All infected farms found in future will also be depopulated
  • Following depopulation, farms are disinfected and will lie fallow for 60 days after which they can be restocked
  • Intensive active surveillance, including testing and tracing, will continue to detect infected herds
  • There will be some flexibility for farmers in the timing of culling to offset production losses
  • An improved compensation claim process. MPI says a substantial part of a farmer’s claim for culled cows should now take 4-10 days, with a fully verified claim taking 2-3 weeks.

To take no action is estimated to cost the industry $1.3 billion in lost production over 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across our farming sector.


Source: Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity