Rural round-up

Fonterra faces big milk problem – Chalkie:

If Heath Robinson designed a contraption to pluck the feathers from a mallard with barbecue tongs, it would be the epitome of elegance compared with Fonterra.

Our giant dairy co-operative, bless it, is like an elephant balancing on a stool built by engineering students out of toothpicks – a gravity-defying feat of complexity that threatens to go crashingly wrong at any moment.

The elephant hit the deck big time last week when Fonterra had to press the manual over-ride on its intricate milk pricing machinery and Chalkie reckons the damage will be more than a few splinters in the bum. . .

Farmer loses cows to feed ‘hardware’ – Sandie Finnie:

Carterton dairy farmer Chris Engel is out of pocket but better informed after two of his cows died of “hardware disease”, the industry term for cows that die from ingesting metal fragments in palm kernel expeller supplementary feed.

Now he wants to alert other farmers to the importance of reading the fine print on their PKE supply deals.

Mr Engel sought compensation of $12,522.23 from PKE supplier INL through the Masterton District Court Disputes Tribunal.

It would have covered the death of the cows, lost milk production, veterinarian fees and other costs. . .

New Chancellor for Massey University:

Wellington businessman Chris Kelly is Massey University’s new Chancellor.

Mr Kelly replaces Dr Russ Ballard, who has been Chancellor for the past five years. Mr Kelly is a veterinary science graduate of Massey and highly regarded New Zealand business leader with multiple directorships. This year he retired as chief executive of state-owned Landcorp Farming Ltd, a role he was in for 12 years. He has been on the University Council since August 2005 and has been Pro Chancellor – deputy chair of the council – since July last year.

The University’s new Pro Chancellor is Michael Ahie, also from Wellington. . .

Meat industry takes stock:

The Red Meat Sector Strategy coordination group has released a progress report on how the sector is tracking towards the goals of the Red Meat Sector Strategy, released in May 2011.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy was developed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. It identified ways to secure improved and sustainable growth for the sector against a background of volatile sales and variable profitability, over the past decade in particular.
 
Just over two years after the launch of the strategy, this report outlines the progress in each of its focus areas and towards realising the opportunities outlined. The report records where progress has been made and where work is actively ongoing. It also identifies the areas where progress has been limited. . .

Fitch gives Fonterra thumbs up over unchanged farmgate payout, dividend cut – Paul McBeth:

Fitch Ratings has praised Fonterra Cooperative Group’s [NZX: FCG] decision to hold the forecast payout to farmers and slashing its dividend by two-thirds amid a growing gap in prices between milk powders and its cheese and casein products.

The Auckland-based company’s decision is “characteristic of the fiscal discipline that underscores its credit rating,” Fitch said in a statement. Fonterra has an AA rating. Earlier this month the cooperative surprised analysts by holding the forecast payout for this season at a record $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and cutting its expected dividend to 10 cents from 32 cents. . .

Better water quality won’t happen overnight … but it must happen – Jenny Webster-Brown:

If we cannot stop ongoing water quality degradation, and effectively restore degraded water environments, we stand to lose much that we value about New Zealand and our way of life. We will lose recreational opportunities, fisheries and our reputation for primary produce from a “clean” environment. We will lose functioning ecosystems, the ecosystem services they provide and the beauty of our iconic water features. We will have to pay for increasingly higher technology to treat drinking, stock and even irrigation water … like so many drier, more populous or older nations, who have long since lost their natural water amenities. This is not what we have known, or what we wish for our children, or their children. To improve water quality, we need only three things: the will, the means and the time. . .

Wine industry shows increased profitability in 2013:

Financial benchmarking survey optimistic despite challenges for smaller wineries

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2013 on the back of improved profitability, especially for large wineries, according to the eighth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2013 tracks the results of wineries accounting for almost half of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2013 financial year. New participants provided data this year making for the most even spread across the revenue band categories in the survey’s history. . .

How to count grass - Baletwine:

The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters.

Towed behind an ATV / RTV or utility vehicle at up to 20kph, this machine provides a fast, practical method of measuring grass cover particularly over large areas over all terrain that can be safely covered by an ATV/vehicle.  The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters. Developed and proven in New Zealand, there are 3 models ranging from manual paddock ID entry to fully GPS with auto paddock start /stop. . .

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