Rural round-up

NZ/Sri Lanka agree way forward on dairy issues:

The New Zealand and Sri Lankan governments have agreed to work toward a Dairy Sector Cooperation Agreement following a one day visit to Colombo by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

The visit followed the serious difficulties Fonterra has experienced in that market over recent weeks and the temporary closure of its Sri Lankan operations.

Mr McCully and Fonterra Chairman John Wilson met Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa to discuss progress in resolving the difficulties and future opportunities to expand cooperation in the dairy sector.

“Sri Lanka is keen to substantially build its domestic capacity in the dairy sector. Mr Rajapaksa clearly understands the world-class expertise and experience that Fonterra can bring to that. He was very interested in hearing how Fonterra might be able to assist. We took the opportunity to underline the greater certainty that Fonterra will need in the Sri Lankan market,” Mr McCully says. . .

Fundamentals still right: farm leader – Sally Rae:

It may have been a ”hellishly tough month” for Fonterra but the co-operative’s forecast milk price underlines that the fundamentals of the New Zealand dairy industry remain strong, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink says.

Last week, the co-operative revised its 2013-14 season forecast to $7.80, up 30c from the previous forecast late last month.

New Zealanders should ”rejoice” that the immediate financial damage from the recall and market access issues would not dent the economy, Mr Leferink said.

”With an eye to the future, we’ve got to accept that we cannot afford a repeat of this month’s problems, but right now, this confidence in the dairy industry is a huge relief. . . .

Rural folk urged to change drinking ways:

Rural communities need to change the present culture of binge-drinking and drink-driving, those in the emergency services say.

Otago rural area acting commander Inspector Andrew Burns, of Dunedin, said alcohol was a factor in the ”vast majority” of crimes in rural areas.

People were consuming alcohol differently in rural communities and the problem was not as ”visible” as it was in cities, but it was still a problem, he said.

”In the rural community it’s no different [to urban settings],” Insp Burns said.

”With a lot of domestic violence, alcohol is a factor and in violent crime it’s usually a factor.” . . .

Time to face up to rural mental health needs:

Federated Farmers is joining the Rural General Practice Network in calling for specific funding for rural mental health. This follows the latest annual release of suicide statistics by the Chief Coroner.

“When there are more suicides in New Zealand than road deaths, drownings and workplace accidents combined, there is a serious need to change tack,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“Last year, 541 New Zealanders took their own lives and we know the cost of suicide painfully well in rural New Zealand.

“As the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil McLean recently told 3 News, “Farming is tough. You’re at the whims of nature and markets and you have no control over this and it’s hard and demanding work in isolation. . .

Soaring milk prices boost for farmers - Hugh Stringleman:

Milk prices have taken off in a way not seen since the commodity boom of 2007-08, promising total farmgate returns of about $8/kg milksolids in a season that has only just begun. 

The country’s 12,000 dairy farm owners, their sharemilkers and staff members can whistle their way to work in the pre-dawn darkness.

Widespread rain, warm temperatures, steep pasture-growth curves, and good prospects for supplementary feeding should work to boost national milk production and turbo-charge the economy.

Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Willy Leferink said last week’s forecast increases by Fonterra and Westland co-operatives were almost too good to be true. . .

Aussie breakthrough for NZ deer velvet – Rod O’Neill:

New Zealand’s deer velvet industry is claiming a big win, with producer and processor Mountain Red poised to begin exporting into Australia after having its product licensed by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

It’s been a long hard battle to access the Australian market, said Mountain Red director Karen Morley.

The licence means Nelson-based Mountain Red’s range of therapeutic products can be distributed in Australia and even be prescribed by general practitioners practising integrated medicine.

“We’ve spent a hell of a long time trying to get into Australia,” Morley said. “The regulations are so hard.” . . .

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