Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fact and fantasy

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  • Farmer Green, in reply to andin,

    That was an obvious one wasn't it. Like nations with no coastlines having a perfect score for fisheries protection.
    Still you would want to challenge Jacqueline Rowarth about that figure; what subset of all possible nations was the comparison made against?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to andin,

    I think the point was that city dwellers should be prepared for the effects of a downturn in agriculture , which means less money coming into the country, unless we borrow more.
    The headline of the article was to do with mythbusting.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Of course ; that perhaps is what you meant, but it is not what you said. here’s your words:-
    “The idea that only person that can say what needs to be done is the farmer”.
    Only the farmer could implement the plan for his own property – “what needs to be done ” i.e the specific actions.

    It's not complex:

    External Person: Hey you need to do this: Fence that river.
    Farmer: Sure, I'll get right onto that.

    Anyway...

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Fair enough. You just don't get it do you?
    The nitrogen goes under the fence and eventually reaches the river.
    And you seem to miss completely the need for a total redesign.

    A one trick pony perhaps?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    External Person: Hey you need to do this: Fence that river.
    Farmer: Sure, I'll get right onto that.

    Regional council: stop polluting
    Fed Farmers: <wring hands>
    Corporate farming interests: hey govt, please remove this council
    Critters in rivers: urgh

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Environmental Protection Society: farming has to change.

    Federated Farmers: we know that farming has to change.

    Not much of a story there for the chattering classes, is there?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • colin robertson, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Michael Kelly is not a climate scientist he works in the field of nanotechnology and has been recently reprimanded by Vic for making ridiculous statements in the listener and signing off with is role as a visiting prof... is this your 'very reputable scientist'?

    Nelson • Since Dec 2012 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Yes , obviously. Mathematics and physics are at the core of the GCMs. Those are his fields of expertise
    And the source of your rumour is? Actually who cares where you got that ? Most scientists understand what it means to have only unvalidated models.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Fair enough. You just don’t get it do you?
    The nitrogen goes under the fence and eventually reaches the river.
    And you seem to miss completely the need for a total redesign.

    A one trick pony perhaps?

    Again, another example where any person with a decent knowledge can have a useful input.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Federated Farmers: we know that farming has to change

    yet we will continue to support our members doing nothing about it

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Sacha,

    Inside knowledge?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • mccx, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Environmental Protection Society: farming has to change.
    Federated Farmers: we know that farming has to change.
    Not much of a story there for the chattering classes, is there?

    Except for there being little or no agreement between the two about what counts as "change", what the goals of this change are, how quickly this change should happen, who is responsible for any positive or negative financial implications from attempting such change, how change could be achieved, etcetera. Not much of a story? Only if you're trying to keep it off the agenda.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2012 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mccx,

    Is the LWF thing all over? I didn’t know that.

    But you're right there is no story yet that is going to generate enthusiasm among those who do not farm. That doesn't really matter does it?

    So if the LWF is no more , then what does happen next?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Farmer Green,

    there is no story yet that is going to generate enthusiasm among those who do not farm. That doesn’t really matter does it?

    Well, now that I strongly disagree with. Our food has got to come from somewhere, and it seems to me that both nature and science say our food comes best from farms. I don't think it's a lack of a story, but how the story is being framed - and that's where I think people like you come in very useful, arguing both passionately and rationally for farming methods that feed our people without buggering up the environment. And it does matter because if our farmers don't feed us, who will? Monsanto?

    So please, let's keep this conversation going.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2166 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    And it does matter because if our farmers don’t feed us, who will? Monsanto?

    That's a very compelling argument.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Farmer Green,

    “It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.”
    Frank Zappa

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Crack out the homegrown popping corn and hand churned butter, here’s a documentary that may be of interest:
    Farmageddon the unseen war on american family farms…

    …plus this article at Farmwars – If a goat won’t eat it, why should I?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5092 posts Report Reply

  • mccx, in reply to Farmer Green,

    But you’re right there is no story yet that is going to generate enthusiasm among those who do not farm. That doesn’t really matter does it?

    I didn't say that at all. My point was that saying people concerned about the environment and farmers agree on the issues (as I took you to be saying) is wrong. The LWF may be a step toward this, but even it produced real outcomes (which is still very uncertain) there would be much more to do beyond what the LWF is attempting.

    And as others have said, there are plenty of non-farmers who are rightfully enthusiastic and interested about these issues. It appears to me (as a non-farmer of course) that some in the agriculture sector -- including Fed Farmers -- would rather non-farmers didn't have a say and weren't interested in rural land use and environment issues. The longer the status quo continues in NZ farming the better off these interests see themselves as being.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2012 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mccx,

    It seems that you are unaware of the massive changes that have already occurred in agriculture point -source discharges. If you knew what was normal in the Waikato 40 years ago then would be aware of the change. That is not to say that there is not more to do. That’s obvious.

    I agree that farmers in general and Fed Farmers are dismissive of uninformed comment.
    Which is where FG started by quoting Jacqueline Rowarth :-
    “lack of societal understanding of what it takes to farm is one of the biggest threats facing NZ agriculture”. When people are threatened , they behave in predictable , non constructive ways.
    Some here believe they know enough to prescribe courses of action , not understanding what is entailed.


    The only thing which will reduce nitrogen enrichment of waterways is a general lowering of stocking rates, but even that simple piece of established science is not understood here. Which demonstrates the effectiveness of the Clean Streams Accord in deflecting attention from the critical issue.


    To stop phosphate enrichment we have to end soil erosion, mostly in the hill-country, and point source discharges of phosphorus from urban sewage outfalls.

    FG has attempted to show that there is an economic problem entwined in the environmental (and social) problem. For sustainability we have to crack the trifecta.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • mccx, in reply to Farmer Green,

    That is not to say that there is not more to do. That’s obvious.

    I'd be interested to see historical trends water quality data if you can point me to such a thing. It makes little environmental difference if some practices have improved if intensification and other changes have offset these improvements.

    I agree that farmers in general and Fed Farmers are dismissive of uninformed comment.

    How quickly you move from "non-farmer" to "uninformed" is telling. It's also a rather vacuous comment. I'd say they're also often dismissive of informed comment - from farmers and non-farmers alike. (Many would be dismissive of your approach wouldn't they?) As for Rowarth's quote, one could just as easily say "lack of farmers' understanding of what NZ society wants in environmental quality is one of the biggest threats facing NZ agriculture." (or substitute environment for agriculture and the end if you prefer)

    It's obvious that there needs to be better dialogue between the agricultural sector and those outside it who are interested and concerned about food and the environment. It's easy for the ag sector to say "it's not that easy" when others identify problems or suggest solutions. The problem is that sometimes it's actually not that easy, but sometimes it's used when it's doable but the ag sector just doesn't want to do it.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2012 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mccx,

    . It makes little environmental difference if some practices have improved if intensification and other changes have offset these improvements.

    That's a very broad brush: the response to changed practice is different for each of the three measures commonly considered:- nitrate; phosphate ; coliforms.
    It depends on which one you think causes the most environmental damage.

    FG thinks there was very little data collected before about 1980.

    "How quickly you move from “non-farmer” to “uninformed” is telling. "

    Scientists are generally regarded as informed non-farmers , wouldn't you say?

    Yes , there is a section of farming which is totally dismissive of Farmer Green's approach ; the same dismissal can be found amongst a section of the science community and a certain section of the public. No surprise there , so what is your point?

    A one -sided discussion focussing purely on environment will go nowhere. The economic and social aspects are equally important.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Farmageddon the unseen war on american family farms…

    Really interesting doco thanks
    If FG has this kind of thing in mind, good luck to him.
    But saying he welcomes GW cause it will be benign, sort of like the medieval GW he's kidding himself.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1234 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Will Mandeville,

    This looks interesting

    www.biofarm.com
    anyone know anything about this crowd

    This looks like the NZ equivalent. They’ve been at it a while too.
    Another link to it:-

    http://www.facebook.com/BiofarmProductsNewZealand

    http://www.biofarm.com

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Federated farmers and The One Plan(to rule them all):-



    “We need to be more militant and stand up like the French farmers do”. Yes there are times I dream of hiring a slurry tanker, sucking the effluent pond dry and then doing a few drive bys of various locations, but I doubt those actions would bring the public onside, which given our small size is what we need to do. Yes we generate the wealth that stops this country turning into a banana economy, but to play that card we have to harm ourselves just as much as we harm everyone else. So the reality for me is, we need to get the normal townies onside, show we are doing what we can reasonably do and explain clearly the cost for all of us from doing what Mike Joy and his ilk want. Once we have the normal and reasonable kiwis on board, then the hysterical nutters will be ignored.

    The other comment I have heard from time to time is that the ‘One Plan won’t affect me’; sorry but if you live in this region it will. For one there will be an impact on property values, and two, there will be increased compliance costs. Hill country farmers will now require consents where previously they never needed them, intensive farmers will need to have a consent to farm, costing anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on how difficult your farm is to model for the consultants. If you think the council is going to be able to implement this massive workload with its current level of funding, without the need for increased rates, then you are highly mistaken.

    Whether you live in the city or on a farm this plan will cost you. Farmers lucky enough to have ended up with the right ingredients, soil and weather wise, that spit out a simple N leaching number to meet, you are not as safe as you may think.

    One Plan
    Now I am on the subject, there is a hell of a lot of confusion out there in the media around the economic impact of the plan, so I am going to attempt to clear things up.

    Firstly the council with any plan change are supposed to do a section 32 report, which is a cost benefit analysis of this plan. The original one that was done prior to the notification of the plan back in 2007 was a joke. The only numbers included in it where the page numbers. It made bland statements that the environmental gain would be fantastic and the economic cost minimal. So when the plan was notified the councillors at the time had the poor choice between continuing to spend ratepayer’s funds on the never ending development of the Plan and, as they were told by staff, “let’s get it out there and will make changes along the way as more info comes to light”. Unfortunately the councillors trusted the staff, which then stuck with their baby and fought any changes to it. Check with David Meads or Malcolm Guy for there take on it, if you like.

    So , when the Plan was notified, there were no economic costing’s as to what the economic impact might be, a real failing of the RMA, which is hopefully now being addressed.

    The council then went and got some economic analysis done prior to the Commissioners hearings in 2010. This work done by Neald and Rhodes, looked at 20 farms that had been modelled doing the councils proposed “FARM Strategy” Whole Farm Plan. They looked at what it would cost those farmers to implement the Plan and came up with, on average, a 5 percent increase to farm working expenses. For the farms that would struggle the increase to their expenses would be around 16 percent.

    The issues I have with this report are, firstly the council making statements that no farmers would need to cut cow numbers or production to meet the targets. So these Farmer Applied Resource Management, (FARM) strategies then focused solely on what mitigating could be done to maintain production, whereas I think for most farmers “profit” is key. So for many farmers the most profitable option to meet the target would have been to reduce numbers and hence production, but because the report assumed the same production would still occur in the region, there would be no wider impact than the supposedly wealthy farmers having to spend more. However, if less production is occurring, then in theory you will have much wider community impacts, that were never considered.

    Another flaw in the process was that only dairy farms were modelled, whereas the Environment Court has spread these rules over cropping, market gardening, and intensive sheep and beef, with a recommendation that extensive sheep and beef be included in the future.

    The final point, which has only become an issue now, is that the new Version of Overseer has changed the ball game; the anecdotal evidence is that numbers have increased on more farms than they have decreased on. This means an average overall increase, which surely results in an increase in the costs. This still yet to be known, so what we really need is some solid data on the degree of change the new version of Overseer brings.

    The other report that is causing confusion is Landcare Research’s report for the Ministry for the Environment (MFE). It was done for the Land and Water Forum, looking at the Horizons region as an example, making some analysis of the potential effects of various options in this region. The option that most resembles the current version of the One Plan and the council’s original notified version, it arrived at a reduction in farm profitability of 22 to 43 percent. Since then we have had Horizons and MPI arguing back and forth whether the impact is 5 percent or up to 43 percent. They are both right because they are both describing the same outcome in a different language.

    I looked at the last couple of year’s benchmark data for this region, from the DairyNZ Dairy Base programme and if you increase the farm working costs by 5 percent the profit reduces by 20 percent, if you increase them by 16 percent then it is a 60 percent decrease in profit. You do not want to look at the year when, on average, dairy farmers all made a slight loss. That extra 5 percent or 16percent would have spelled the end for a number of farmer’s livelihoods that year.

    DairyNZ are currently doing a lot of modelling work on farms to get a better handle on reductions in profit. The work they have currently done shows a 10 – 30 percent decrease in profit, but this is them focusing on farm profit, so with cow numbers reduced and production down the flow on effect will hit the rural service industry and rural towns. Once they have enough farms done they will be working out the cost on the community as well.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Woe betide those who question our water quality. Rachel Stewart, Taranaki Daily News.

    Claire Browning from Pundit says it earned her two death threats and a dead possum in her letterbox.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

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