Rural round-up

Getting red meat sector ‘back on its feet’ - Sally Rae:

Over the fence and across the kitchen table, the state of the red meat sector and calls for restructuring dominated farmer discussions last year, as sheep numbers continued to shrink and dairy conversions and moves to dairy grazing continued.

Back in March, Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen told farmers attending the organisation’s annual meeting in Wanaka that the sector was at a ”critical junction”.

While he spoke of how volatile returns were a threat to the industry’s future and farmers were questioning whether the industry had a future, the organisation’s economic service estimated farm profit before tax for the 2012-13 season would fall 54% on the previous season because of sharply lower lamb prices and widespread drought. . . .

World food prices dropped last year – Neena Rai:

World food prices fell by 1.6% in 2013, down 8.8% from their all-time peak in 2011, driven by falling international prices for grains, sugar and palm oil, according to the United Nations’s Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s monthly index measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities and is the global leading economic indicator for food prices.

While the most recent food price spike in 2011 was triggered by a lack of cereal supply, the recent fall in food prices is mainly due to higher expected supplies of corn and wheat this year. . .

Shelter from the storm – Sally Rae:

Mustering huts still play an important role on some high country properties, like the Hore family’s Stonehenge, in Maniototo, but hut life is a little more comfortable these days, as Sally Rae reports.

It was April, 1959 when Dave McAtamney first slept in Deep Creek Hut.

At only 15, it was his first mustering trip in the area and he was ”dead keen” to take part.

Riding an old part-draught mare called Ginger, he was part of a much more experienced mustering crew that included his father and two uncles, and it was the start of a long association with the hut.

”I had quite a bad cold, if I remember rightly. I was coughing a bit in the night and Dad got out of bed, went over to the whisky bottle and poured a big whisky into me. It was the first time I’d ever drunk a whisky.” . . .

Good times ahead - Stephen Bell:

Sentiment in the primary industries is at an all-time high and commentators say the optimism is backed up by reality.

Business confidence across the economy is booming, say bank analysts, who add the caveat a surge in activity means a tight lid will have to be kept on inflation.

However, companies are upbeat and their profit expectations and employment intentions are the highest in two decades, confidence surveys show.

Agrifax senior analyst Nick Handley said there was good cause for optimism in agriculture.

“The outlook is good across all the major sectors, with none of them really staring down the barrel of a below-par year,” he said. . .

Beaumont rising: developments look set to turn fortunes - John Gibb:

Once a fading rural backwater, the township of Beaumont now seems destined for a much brighter future.

People who have lived near the inland Otago township, on the Clutha River/Mata-au, for 20 years or more will remember earlier sometimes divisive and frustrating conflicts over proposed big hydro-electric dams, which would have flooded the area.

One proposal, by the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) in 1992, was to build a dam at Tuapeka Mouth that would have flooded 3000ha, including all of Beaumont. But among a series of more promising developments the long-delayed replacement work involving the nearby 19th century Beaumont Bridge is at last due to start next year. . .

Positive results at Point Pearce – Gregor Heard:

A JOINT venture between the Point Pearce indigenous community on the Yorke Peninsula in SA and a local farming family continues to go from strength to strength and provide strong training and employment opportunities for the community.The project, in which the Wundersitz family leases the Point Pearce farm, has been running since 2010.The Wundersitzes, based at nearby Maitland, were looking to expand their farming business, Anna Binna, when the Aboriginal Lands Trust advertised for a new tenant for the Point Pearce farm. . . .

Farmers need more for flat milk supply:

The Western Australian dairy industry is calling for reform to the state’s milk pricing structure in 2014.

Representative body WA Farmers argues that if the state’s dairy processors require a year-round flat supply of milk from producers, they should be expected to pay accordingly.

“Ideally, the processors would like about the same amount of milk rolling in each day. Because we are basically a drinking milk state, the daily requirement for WA is pretty even,” says WA Farmers dairy section president, Phil Depiazzi.

“If they do want flat supply, that means they’re going to have to pay a higher price to achieve that.” . . .

Where will you build your next dairy? – Catherine Merlo:

Milk prices aren’t the prime attraction for moving to a new area

The heartland between the Rockies and the Mississippi River appears to offer the most dairy-friendly resources and long-term future for those looking to build new or satellite dairies.

That was not only the professional assessment of a dairy relocation consultant but the personal experience of three dairy producers who spoke at the Dairy Today Elite Producer Business Conference in Las Vegas this past November.

Dairy relocation consultant Tom Haren and dairy producers Linda Hodorff, Rein Landman and Mike McCarty comprised a panel that discussed, “Where Will You Build Your Next Dairy?” . . .

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