Green Party co–leader James Shaw and some meat, which he says we should probably eat less of

The Bulletin: Climate change and the future of farming

Good morning, welcome back from the long weekend, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Climate change impacts on meat industry in focus, international student industry likened to pyramid scheme, and South Auckland playgrounds are underfunded.

When long weekends come along, there doesn’t tend to be a defining issue to follow in the news. So to lead off this morning, here’s a conversation starter for morning tea, based on a few threads from over the weekend. It’s a question New Zealand will likely have to face sooner rather than later. Can countries that grow meat still be environmentally friendly? And what will environmental changes mean for New Zealand’s economy? 

Green Party co–leader James Shaw says consumers should consider eating less meat if they want to have an impact on climate change. He made the comments on Q and A over the weekend, and said the comments had scientific backing, because of the high input of resources into raising animals for meat. Newshub reported on the study cited by James Shaw, noting that production of beef results in six times the emissions of growing peas.

Of that, a lot of our emissions are methane, from sheep and cows – up to a third of New Zealand’s total emissions, reports the NZ Herald. And climate change researchers from Victoria University believe that the effects of methane on climate change may currently being over–accounted for. Regardless though, the emissions are still happening, and the recently established climate change commission is looking into ways to bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme.

So with the potential for those two issues combining to both lower demand, and increase costs on the supply of meat in NZ, the long term future for meat farmers could look concerning. But short term, things are little better. Drought, another facet of climate change, is forcing farmers in the USA to send their cattle to feedlots early (report on that from US farming publication Drovers) which will mean a glut of meat hitting the market, likely depressing prices. The USA is a major market for NZ red meat, this report from 2016 from NZ Farmer shows. And all of this fails to mention the spectre of mycoplasma bovis, and the huge strain that will put on the industry.

But why should this be of concern to urban readers of The Bulletin? It’s put in context by this column from Liam Dann of the NZ Herald, who notes that by and large NZ recessions are caused by hits to the agriculture industry. Food and drink of various forms make up more than half our total exports. And this industry being hit hard could have serious social ramifications, and it won’t just be farmers will be affected – everyone who lives and works in rural areas will be.

Clearly changes need to happen in how farming impacts the environment, and our obligations to cut emissions. But there needs to be great care taken, so that rural people don’t get left behind through that process.


Exploitation of both foreign students and the system itself is rife in the international education sector, reports Radio NZ this morning. Because international students are such good cash cows, education agents will sometimes take English tests on their behalf to get them into institutions, or correct their homework. It’s being described by an immigration lawyer as a “pyramid scheme.”

The report follows moves by the government to crack down on low quality international education providers, reported on by Stuff. In particular, those moves are targeted at the use of the education system to get residency.


South Auckland suburbs are underfunded for playgrounds, despite having more children to play on them, figures released to Newshub showThe materials tend to be more hazardous and lower quality, there are fewer pieces of equipment per park, and an eyeball test conducted by Newshub found much of the equipment in South Auckland was broken. Currently, the Council has more playground funding set aside for wealthier North Shore suburbs.


More than 3000 New Zealanders are homeless in Australia, reports NewshubBecause NZers can’t get welfare in Australia, people who lose jobs or find themselves unable to pay rent fall through the cracks, and advocates say the issue is getting worse.


Police are consulting and considering new ways to categorise crimes involving hate speech, reports the NZ Herald. There currently aren’t any specific hate speech offences in New Zealand, but under some conditions what could be considered hate speech is covered in NZ law.


Hawke’s Bay may have been hit by campylobacter outbreaks which weren’t picked up by health officials, before the devastating gastro outbreak of 2016. Radio NZ reports that a study into the outbreak is looking into new early detection methods, in case it happens again in future.


The NZ Herald’s front page today covers the challenges of remediation work on Middlemore Hospital work, which will take place while patients are staying there. The remediation work in a still functioning building is described as “untested” and “high–risk,” but is required because of the acute medical needs of patients in Middlemore’s Scott building.


More than 30 prison guards at Paremoremo prison called in sick on Sunday, linked to concerns over violent assaults from incarcerated gang membersStuff reports. The union for the guards say they didn’t direct members to call in sick, but say Corrections’ safety plans for moving maximum security prisoners are inadequate.


The Queen’s Birthday honours list has been released (full list published by Stuff) and there are a few highlights. Former PM Bill English is now a knight, along with top gongs for Winnie Laban and the Topp Twins among others.

A really interesting honour was for Prostitutes Collective coordinator Catherine Healy, who will now be a Dame. Her advocacy work has been long and important, but as this Stuff story outlines, most of her career has been spent in complete marginalisation. It could be seen as an evolution of the honours institution generally – it is unfathomable that an honour like this would have been made even a decade ago.

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Nothing quite like a photo wall to say, “Look at me, I’m at a legitimate film festival!”

Right now on The Spinoff: National MP and former education minister Nikki Kaye has outlined how she’ll work with the government on the qualifications review. David Farrier has continued his deep dive down the hole of what exactly the Auckland International Film Festival is. And Sam Brooks laments the elimination from Dancing with the Stars of Robert Rakete, but only because it means another week of watching David Seymour.


Just to keep the meat theme of the top of this mornings edition, here’s a feature you should devour. The meatworkers of Wairoa have been fighting for their pay and conditions at work for years now, and this feature from Overland does an excellent job of covering their side of the struggle. Wairoa, population around 4000, has pretty much one major employer – the Affco Talley’s meat processing plant. Because the wages earned at the plant keeps the town afloat, the role of the union has been especially significant in main. Here’s an excerpt:

“For three months, workers organised resource centres to support workers, they rallied on the bridge over the Wairoa River every day, while the union sought support from iwi leaders, international unions, and challenged the legality of the lockout in court. At the end of the lockout, Cooke wrote a letter to union members and supporters thanking them for the part they played in the campaign to end the lockout.

‘We can all be proud of our achievements,’ Cooke wrote, ‘never before has the Talley Family yielded to a union. The family has boasted on a number of occasions that they don’t have unions in the fishing, shellfish, frozen food, ice cream and Dairy Industry.’ The union, Cooke wrote, ‘achieved a settlement we can all live with.’ But the settlement of the lockout did not end the issues between the union and company.”


The NZ Herald’s contrarian columnist Chris Rattue has called on Blues coach Tana Umaga to resign, after one of the worst weekends of an already pretty awful tenure. The Blues lost at home to the Melbourne Rebels, and then had All Black Reiko Ioane go to A&E for treatment on a cut after what is being described by some as an “altercation with a fellow player,” and by others as merely “antics.”

And speaking of rugby player antics, Jordie Barrett and a fellow who calls himself ‘Lashes’ were found eating Maccas at 5am in a Dunedin flat, by two women who were so frightened they called the police. But as per this NZ Herald story, it was all apparently an innocent mistake.

And to round out the rugby wrap, here’s a good story about someone involved in the game. The Taranaki rep team’s physio is finishing up after nearly 30 years on the job, reports Stuff. Anita Walsh has been part of three Ranfurly Shield wins, including the most recent in 2017, and started when the game was amateur. It really is a lovely article.


From our partners, Vector’s Bridget McDonald has looked at the government’s deep dig into the energy sector. What will the review look at, why should there even be one, and does it mean you might pay less for power?


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here. Thanks for joining us this morning.


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