Fonterra drops payout to $6

July 29, 2014

Fonterra has announced its forecast payout for this season has dropped by a dollar:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season from $7.00 to $6.00 per kgMS and announced an estimated dividend range of 20-25 cents per share – amounting to a Forecast Cash Payout of $6.20-$6.25 for the current season.

Chairman John Wilson said the lower forecast Farmgate Milk Price reflected continuing volatility, with the GlobalDairyTrade price index declining 16 per cent since the start of the season on June 1.

“We have seen strong production globally, a build-up of inventory in China, and falling demand in some emerging markets in response to high dairy commodity prices.  In addition, the New Zealand dollar has remained strong. Our milk collection across New Zealand last season ending 31 May 2014 reached 1,584 million kgMs, 8.3 per cent higher than the previous season.

“This drop in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price will have an impact on our farmers’ cash flows.We continue to urge caution with on-farm budgets in light of the continuing volatility in international dairy markets,” said Mr Wilson.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the increase reflects the Co-operative’s expectations for improved returns on its value-add and branded products, given volume increases and lower input costs.

“As we continue to drive for growth in our consumer and foodservice businesses, during the first half of the current financial year we expect reduced cost of goods arising from lower dairy commodity prices to have a positive impact on returns.

“It is important to note that in light of the significant volatility, our dividend estimate is based on zero ingredients stream returns at this early stage in the season.

“We continued driving our V3 strategy throughout the previous season and that is why we can support an increased estimated dividend range for the 2014/15 financial year.

“Our forecasting anticipates some recovery in global dairy prices but it is too early to predict how strong this recovery will be or when it will kick in. . .

This drop was expected after successive drops in price in GlobalDairyTrade auctions and volatility in world markets.

It certainly isn’t welcome but it shouldn’t be regarded as cause for panic either.

 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua - Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands -

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


SMEs want four-year term

July 29, 2014

Small and medium enterprises want a four-year parliamentary term:

A longer parliamentary term and fewer members of Parliament are two key changes that New Zealand business owners would like to see, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

The survey showed that 70% of participants wanted the parliamentary term increased to four years and 60% would like to see the number of MPs or seats in Parliament reduced. Fifteen percent wanted the parliamentary term extended to five years.

Greg Thompson, Partner and National Director, Tax at Grant Thornton New Zealand, said that the desire to have a longer parliamentary term recognises the maturity of the New Zealand political system since the introduction of MMP.

“MMP, compared with the old first-past-the-post system, gives a much wider representation in parliament which in turn takes longer for decisions to get through the system.

“Just look at the Government’s assets sales programme where it wasn’t possible to implement the entire programme in one election cycle. This disjointedness then flowed on to the capital markets with a loss of general cohesion in the New Zealand economy.” . . .

The survey also showed that 38% thought that MMP was the best scenario while 32% thought it should be abolished.

“It is becoming very obvious that with MMP and multiple parties there is always the ongoing need to ‘do a deal’ which takes time.

“For the business owner, this deal making slows down political processes which hinders their own decision making. What a business owner wants is clarity and stability upon which they can plan. The present electoral system and term does not deliver those two requirements.

“While there is a general acceptance of MMP, the fact that 60% of the respondents want the number of MPs or seats in Parliament reduced indicates a belief that ‘too many cooks’ are slowing down the parliamentary process. They prefer quality to quantity,” he said.

Lowering the quantity of MPs isn’t a guarantee there’d be an improvement in the quality of them.

As long was we have MMP any reduction in the number of MPs would make too many electorates too big.

In comparison with New Zealand’s three-year term, the United States and the United Kingdom have four and five year election cycles respectively. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to retain a three-year cycle.

Elections slow down activity in government departments and create uncertainty which is unsettling for businesses.

A four year term would be less expensive – giving us three elections every 12 years instead of four – and improve productivity within the public service and private enterprises.


Rural round-up

July 28, 2014

Farmers make energy and water savings – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers stand to make big savings on both electricity and water if they introduce energy-efficient measures to their irrigation systems.

Twelve farmers who took part in a recent pilot project could save an average of $7444 a year on electricity. On average, they would have to spend $25,888 on upgrading their systems, but the payback period would be just 3.5 years.

The farmers found they could significantly cut the amount of water they used, between 10 and 15 days over a six-month season, providing further energy savings because irrigators were not needed.

Nationwide, irrigation uses about 2.5 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity for pressurised spray systems covering 625,151 hectares. . .

Work starts on Northland flood clean-up – Hugh Stringleman:

Task Force Green work teams will begin clearing up this week after prolonged storms and floods in Northland.

Three teams of four, plus a supervisor, have been trained in equipment safety and will be clearing fences, removing flood debris from paddocks, and cutting up fallen trees in commercial orchards.

Two of the government-funded Task Force Green teams would be based in Whangarei and the other in Kaikohe, Rural Support Trust Northland co-ordinator Julie Jonker said.

Farmers and orchardists with severe damage had been asked to advise the trust to get a clearer picture of the needs, she said. . .

European Union changes might help Kiwi cause – Nigel Stirling:

The inward-looking culture of farming in the European Union is changing.

That augured well for New Zealand’s chances of a long-awaited free-trade agreement (FTA), but the case still needed to be made how such an agreement could benefit Europe, the union’s top official in this country said.

NZ’s large footprint as an agricultural producer has been a big factor in it being put at the back of the queue for a trade deal with the EU.   . .

Eye-in-the-sky scrutiny monitors winter crops – Allison Beckham:

Environment Southland staff are assessing the most cost-effective way to map land planted in winter forage crops using satellite imagery, after a pilot study last year showed the most accurate method was also the most expensive.

The council wanted to map the extent of crops such as kale and swedes, the use of which was known to lift levels of soil contaminants including nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E.coli, council soil and science programme co-ordinator George Ledgard said. . . .

Paddock to plate, and smart roads possible:

New Zealand’s international brand and exports could grow significantly with the creation of a data sharing ‘eco-system’ according to paper released by the NZ Data Futures Forum today.

Food traceability or ‘paddock to plate’ tracking is one of a number of kick start projects recommended in the paper that would see New Zealand become a world leader in the trusted use of data.

 “New Zealand has got a real opportunity here. If we can create an ‘eco-system’ for data, we can unlock huge value, but to do this we need to treat data as a national asset,” says Forum Chair John Whitehead.

The paper suggests a range of initiatives including the establishment of an independent data council and an open data champion to drive innovation through data sharing.  The data council would act as an independent ‘guardian’ to ensure trust, privacy and security are maintained. . .

Extractor hopeful over hemp uses:

Ashburton company Oil Seed Extractions has been waiting a long time for a change in legislation which would enable it to sell food products made from hemp in Australasia.

The producer of seed oils for the food, skin care and health sectors, and its parent company Midlands Seed, were among the first companies in New Zealand to be granted a licence to grow hemp back in 2001-2002.

The companies were also the first to grow and process hemp seed into oil for retail sale and two years ago Oil Seed Extractions became the first New Zealand company to produce hemp seed protein. . .

James had heavenly help with his garden – Bridget Railton:

God has a garden and it’s located near Tokanui.

That’s what 86-year-old Southland man James Pirie says of the expanse of native bushland he’s been preserving since he bought it about 15 years ago.

The Morton Mains sheep farmer is among the 30-odd nominees for the Southland Environment Awards this week for his work preserving a block of native bush fondly dubbed “God’s Garden” about 3km from Tokanui on the Southern Scenic Highway.

“The way I look at it, why put a whole lot of work into planting native trees when you can preserve something that’s already there,” he explains. . .

 


Labour wants to meddle in meat industry

July 28, 2014

Labour loves to meddle in businesses where it has no business to be and if it gets into government it will be meddling in the meat industry:

Labour will create more jobs and wealth by providing the leadership and funding to help participants reform the meat sector through developing a larger scale sustainable model as part of our Economic Upgrade for the sector, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The meat sector continues to decline and must meet new challenges to maintain a secure and skilled workforce. Like our wider economy it needs an upgrade to compete overseas.

“Labour will do this by encouraging the creation of businesses with real market scale and, if required, we will look to amend the Commerce Act to achieve this aim. We will also work with Iwi and large agricultural companies to consolidate efforts and interests for the long term. . .

The meat industry is dominated by two farmer-owned co-operatives and there are also several smaller players.

What they do and how they do it is primarily the business of these businesses and their shareholders.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has repeatedly, and correctly, said he will not intervene unless there sector comes up with a plan supported by the players which requires his assistance.

Anything else would be interference in private enterprise where the government has no right to be.

The industry does have challenges but Guy, and the National Party, understand any change in the meat industry must come from farmers and the processing companies.

Any attempt to impose a solution from the government down would be expensive and have the potential to contravene free trade agreements.


Rural round-up

July 27, 2014

Changes likely in lakes camping – David Bruce:

Thousands of campers who pour in to Waitaki lakes camp sites during summer face some major changes in management by the Waitaki District Council.

Most of the camps could be handed over to private operators under leases or contracts, but before any final decisions are made, people will be asked what they want.

That is likely to be contentious. Similar proposals in the past have caused consternation among some campers.

But they could also look at the Mackenzie District Council’s Haldon Arm Camp, which is administered by the Haldon Arm Reserve Trust Board, made up of campers. . .

Water deal celebrated – Sally Brooker:

Compromise and co-operation are being hailed as the main ingredients in a South Canterbury agreement on nitrogen limits.

Farmers in the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury catchment had asked their Environment Canterbury zone committee for more time to work on allocating nitrogen emissions, within the maximum already set to meet the goals of a healthy environment and vibrant economy.

Since February, the farmers have held more than 10 meetings, with ECan supplying technical advisers. After fearing they would not agree, they eventually did.” . . .

Asian markets driving growth for NZ food & beverage exports:

Consumer demand in East and South East Asia for high value foods and beverages is driving export growth and diversification, a new Government report shows.

‘What does Asia Want for Dinner? Emerging Market Opportunities for New Zealand food & beverages in East & South East Asia’ was released today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The report finds that New Zealand’s overall food and beverage export performance to Asia is excellent; performing strongly in dairy, as well as in meat, seafood, produce and processed foods.

“Asia is the fastest growing food market in the world and is increasingly important for New Zealand exports”, Mr Joyce says. . .

Māori agribusiness showcased to international delegation:

New Zealand’s Māori agribusiness programmes are on show this week, as delegates from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies visit New Zealand to address common barriers to rural economic development. Through case studies and on-farm visits, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will share experiences learned while helping to build the capability of New Zealand’s rural economic development.

The visiting delegates from Peru, Indonesia, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines will attend a two-day APEC PPFS Rural Development workshop from 22-24 July 2014, hosted by MPI and the Northland Māori agribusiness partners.

“Food security is a common APEC challenge with increasing demands and a need to focus on sustainable productivity,” says MPI’s Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton. . .

Don’t write of dairying MyFarm says:

People should not be in any hurry to write off dairy farming just because prices have taken a dive, MyFarm executive director Andrew Watters says.

The average whole milk powder price in the Fonterra GlobalDairyTrade auctions has fallen by 38 percent since February.

Dairy farmers and economists say with the recent sharp drop in prices, it is inevitable Fonterra’s $7 per kilogram of milksolids price forecast will come down – one predicted as low as $6.

But Mr Watters said predictions of the end of the good times in the dairy industry were premature.

He pointed out that Fonterra only sold only about a third of its product at the auction, and that volumes at recent auctions had been low.

The positive, longer-term outlook for dairy farming had not changed, he said. . .

Grow Movie – A Great Documentary Which Outlines Young Urbanites Turning To Farming - Milking on the Moove:

I watched the Grow Movie the other night. 

It’s a documentary that tells the story of how young urban people are being attracted to farming.

The movie follows a few young farmers in the US state of Georgia. We learn how they found themselves farming & why they love it.

Most of the people were highly educated with degrees in finance, engineering & soil science etc, but they have chosen the small scale rural lifestyle. . .

MPI introduces new biosecurity sniffers

Two young biosecurity sniffers were introduced to the world today, along with a new type of detector dog and a new home for the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Auckland-based canine team.

Beagle puppies Darcie (girl) and Darwin (boy), collectively known as D-litter, were born by caesarean in May to working detector dog Zuma under the MPI detector dog breeding programme.

Steve Gilbert, MPI Director Border Clearance Services says the MPI breeding programme “provides a cost-effective way of producing fit-for-purpose biosecurity detector dogs”.

The programme has produced 27 litters since 1996 and nearly 80 percent of the individual puppies have become successful biosecurity detector dogs. . .

Brits buy record amount of NZ wine:

New Zealand premium wine sales soar in the UK market

New Zealand wine has become the number 2 country of origin in the UK market for wine sold over £7 according to the latest Nielsen data (MAT 21-6-14). New Zealand now sells 18% of all wines sold in this premium price segment, having overtaken Australia and now sits behind France.

The latest statistics also show New Zealand’s average price per bottle has increased to £7.34 from £6.79 – an 8.1% increase (Nielsen MAT 21-6-14). . . . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Welcome Boost to Horticulture Industry:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) has welcomed the Government’s plans to get more Kiwis into seasonal work, and its decision to increase the annual Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap to a total of 9000 workers.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says this boost to seasonal workers is essential in delivering the industry’s forecasted future growth.

“The kiwifruit industry is recovering quickly from Psa and is poised for big future growth. Over the next few years we are going to see a significant increase in Gold3 volume. . . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2014

Federation wins rates remission against urban sprawl:

Federated Farmers is thrilled that common sense has prevailed in the Horowhenua District Council’s unanimous decision to adopt a rates remission for farms being rezoned as urban.

“Due to the urban sprawl, farmers are increasingly being rezoned as urban, and consequently being faced with enormous rates bills, but thankfully the Council listened to us and has taken a more common sense approach,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“Federated Farmers suggested a similar rates remission policy to its neighbouring Kapiti Coast, in order to avoid unnecessary costs to farming businesses, which would reduce their competitiveness with other farmers in the region. . .

Council and farmers work together – Chris Lewis:

As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. This is now evident in the Waikato as we see comparative data in effluent compliance, prepared by the Waikato Regional Council, pre the collaborative process and to now.

With farm inspections on the ground having increased by just over 200 farms since 2012, we are seeing a conscious effort to work alongside farmers rather than be a distant enforcer. Every successful business or individual knows that their achievement depends on a community working together, with a shared vision or goal. . .

Focus on farm-exit water quality :

The Otago Water Plan’s Plan Change 6A (PC6A) was not about the Otago Regional Council using a ”big stick” to ensure compliance for water quality, chief executive Peter Bodeker said.

He said the council did not wish to dictate to land owners, farmers, horticulturists and forest owners how they managed their properties.

The council decided to take an ”effects-based approach” to controlling discharges from properties, rather than regulating operational methods, and to encourage management practices that ensured water leaving the property was of sufficient quality. . .

Gold surge tipped for Zespri - Richard Rennie:

An impending avalanche of Gold kiwifruit will present as many challenges as opportunities for growers over the next two seasons and returns are expected to ease as a result.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager used this year’s annual meeting to caution growers about the prospect of moving from a post-Psa famine in gold fruit to a feast by 2018.  

The latest harvest yielded the lowest volume yet of the high-value fruit, at 11.1 million trays, reflecting the grafting change from the disease ravaged Hort16a variety to the more Psa-tolerant Gold3 and associated varieties. . .

Ag scientist’s career marked by contrasts  - Sue O’Dowd,

Agricultural science has provided a Taranaki man with a career marked by contrasts.

There’s been the ice, snow and dry valleys of Antarctica and the desert of Saudi Arabia. Malcolm Macfarlane has also worked for the New Zealand Fire Service and in the hillcountry of the North Island’s East Coast, where he’s undertaking forage research.

Although he lives in Inglewood, where wife Rosie Mabin is Inglewood High School’s principal, he’s a scientist for Hastings-based On-Farm Research. . . .

The latest dairy farm syndicate spurns debt as investors focus on risk – Greg Ninness:

Roger Dickie NZ has launched a dairy farm investment syndicate that will have almost no debt.

The company is best known for putting together forestry investment vehicles, but its latest offering, Eastbourne Dairy Farm Ltd, will be its third dairy farm offering and it has also previously syndicated a sheep and beef property.

Eastbourne has been set up with a company structure in which investors will buy shares, with 11 million shares on offer at a dollar each and the minimum investment being $25,000.

The proceeds will be used to buy an established 241ha dairy farm in Southland and a 520 cow herd. . . .

 


Perception not reality

July 25, 2014

Federated Farmers’ president Dr William Rolleston is challenging the perception of rural reality:

Being the new President of Federated Farmers I want to ensure our discussions are informed by the facts no matter how unpalatable they may be. But facts in isolation do not always paint the whole picture. If we are to be truly informed, we need to look at all the available information and place it in context. That is why I must ask if the perception of farming’s impact on the environment is justified by the factual reality.

Some will say our dairy industry has led to ‘cowmageddon,’ which is unsurprising, given the weight of coverage about dairy cattle numbers, irrigation and a host of dairy issues.

With the finger pointed farming’s way, the Green Party claims “more than 60 percent of our monitored river sites are too polluted to swim in.” This number was recently used in a Dominion Post editorial, which saw Guy Beatson, the Ministry for the Environment’s Deputy Secretary Policy write in rebuke: “You repeat a fiction that ”a report has concluded that 60 percent of the country’s rivers are unsafe for swimming”…. Our analysis shows that more than half of the monitoring sites are within 2km of urban areas. Ninety per cent are within 10km. In other words, most monitoring occurs on large rivers near towns. Around 60 per cent of monitored sites may be considered poor or very poor for swimming, but these monitored sites are not representative and should not be scaled up to make conclusions about the health risk in all of New Zealand’s waters”.

Let me clear that water quality issues related to farming exist but the primary industries are not in a state of denial. As Lake Rotorua has shown there has been an amazing proactivity. Where a problem exists and we have a share of the responsibility, our industries are into solutions boots and all. I have experienced this first hand near where I farm, which has, in a very short space of time, assimilated and understood the problem and initiated a smart way forward.

The common reference point for talking water is NIWA’s National Rivers Network, which has used consistent measures since 1989 across 77 sites. It represents the most comprehensive snapshot of water quality we have.

If the thesis of deteriorating water and dairy cattle is solid, then NIWA’s data should reflect that. Instead, NIWA’s National Rivers Network tells us that we are largely treading water, neither going forwards or backwards, despite a major increase in dairy cattle numbers; around 900,000 in the five years to May 2013 alone.

Is stable a good enough outcome? Frankly, no it is not.

DairyNZ has given us the past five years of NIWA data to May 2013 and it shows that Nitrate levels are stable in 87 percent of the national rivers network. The six percent of the sites which deteriorated was balanced by the six percent which improved. In areas of major dairy expansion we are seeing trends that are not positive, especially with Nitrates. Then again, the newly minted National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management is designed to arrest the decline of freshwater water quality. This seminal policy involves the input of more than 60 freshwater scientists and most importantly, represents the first time such a policy has existed. Instead of perception, the numeric values involved in the National Policy Statement are based upon evidence.

The NIWA data shows that across five major indicators – Total Nitrogen, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus, Total Phosphorus and e. coli – 78 to 95 percent of rivers had remained stable with the balance improving or deteriorating in equal measure. The exceptions being Ammoniacal Nitrogen and e.coli, as the table below indicates.

(Click the link to see the table)

The ending of direct discharge of effluent into rivers some years ago and more recently, a focus on riparian management, is recognised as making a significant impact on halting the decline of phosphorus and bacteria in our waterways.

DairyNZ scientists have also plotted the excreted nitrogen load, or Nex, for each livestock type using the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Inventory. When put against StatisticsNZ data for the past 22-years to 2011, DairyNZ found the total Nitrogen load to land from farmed animals increased by seven percent. While dairy cattle numbers have doubled, we have seen the numbers of sheep plummet with a sharp fall in beef cattle too. This ‘swings and roundabouts’ helps to explain why the annual Nitrogen load to land increased from 1.45 million tonnes in 1990 to reach 1.56 million tonnes in 2011.

While the overall Nitrogen load has increased by a modest seven percent, it seems at odds with the claim and counterclaim involving intensification and change of land use. Have we allowed perception to become reality? Alternatively, does it show a romanticised ideal of past farming practices to be just that, a romanticised ideal?

With science increasingly informing better farm practice and farmers taking on the challenge of water quality, we have a responsibility to move away from sweeping generalisations to better frame our discussion around water.

A few decades ago most people in New Zealand who didn’t live on farms had family or friends who did.

That’s no longer the case and as more people know less about farms, farming and farmers their perceptions grow more distant from the reality.


If . ..

July 25, 2014

If Labour wants to help the regions:

Why is it against irrigation?

Why  does it keep calling the main road from Northland to Auckland the ‘holiday highway?

Why has it opposed all the measures National has introduced to help the economy in general and regions in particular?


Rural round-up

July 24, 2014

 

 

Kiwi red meat really starting to sizzle – Graham Turley:

“When the first shipment of red meat sailed from Dunedin in 1882, it was a turning point for New Zealand’s economy. Now the red meat sector faces another turning point having lost out to dairy as NZ’s star export.

For the past two decades red meat’s low profits, lack of reinvestment, wide differences in performance between farms and a troubling misalignment between farmers, processors, and markets, have seen its glorious past recede into memory.

On-farm production figures show how the gap with dairy has grown. Between 1993 and 2013 dairy farmers increased per hectare output from just over 600kg of milk solids a hectare to over 1,000kg, while production of meat and fibre per hectare was almost flat, averaging about 130kg. . . .

The dominant role of agribusiness co-operatives - Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about the Farmlands co-operative which, together with other co-operatives dominate the farm supplies sector. I suggested that farmers have a natural affinity for co-operatives. This is because these co-operatives, which are owned by the farmer members, exist for the purpose of working in farmers’ interests.

Whereas Farmlands and similar co-operatives such as RD1 and Ashburton trading Society (ATS) are merchant traders who have their own retail stores, there is also a range of other farmer co-operatives that supply specific and specialist inputs, either directly to farmers or through the merchants.

Most notable of the specialist supply co-operatives are the Ravensdown Fertiliser and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients co-operatives. They are of similar size, each with about $1 billion of annual revenue. Between them, they have over 90% of the fertiliser market. . .

 Speech to GIA signing with NZ Pork – Nathan Guy:

It’s great to be here today to witness the signing of the Government Industry Agreement Deed by the New Zealand Pork Industry.

This is a historic day. It’s the result of the hard work over several years of both industry and government to realise the benefits of working in partnership. 

There is a simple but important principle behind the GIA: by working together, we are stronger.

This agreement means we can share our expertise, experience and knowledge to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response.

Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding.

In May this year, the Kiwifruit industry became the first signatory to the GIA Deed. I’m very pleased to have the pork industry onboard as the first animal sector industry into GIA. . .

 

Is the future for our sheep their milk? Peter Kerr:

Being the farm raised boy I am, I’m keen on the idea of clever new and profitable products from our ability to convert sunlight, soil and water into them.

So, Blue River Dairy, the sheep milk products company which is over 10 years old, is something to keep an eye on.

It is the creation of Keith Neylon, a 60-something entrepreneur, who has had previous lives in deer recovery (owned 10 helicopters at one stage) and salmon farming (co-pioneered its development in NZ) among other things.

He was semi-talked into exploring sheep milk potential by a meat company chairman – and saw opportunity. . .

Looking for a home where the buffalo roam? – Nick Heydon:

A PROPERTY that previously grew bananas and was more recently home to cattle has been transformed over the past couple of years into what is a highly unusual rural listing – a wildlife retreat home to deer, buffalo and a range of other species.

Some cattle do still remain on the 311 hectare (770ac) Queensland property “Mountain Creek”, abut 30 kilometres south west of Gympie, but when current owners Michael and Kate Read purchased the grazing land they decided to fulfil a dream of building up a wilderness retreat.

Selling reluctantly for health reasons, the Reads have decided to offer the property on a walk-in walk-out basis with animals included in the sale, meaning buyers can take advantage of much of the hard work that has gone into selecting species for this rare offering. . . .

 


Who knows regions best?

July 24, 2014

Labour has decided the regions are suffering and its MPs are doing their best to talk them down, but those who represent them have a different story:

Hon DAVID PARKER (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree that there are growing gaps among the regions of New Zealand, making the economy and society increasingly unbalanced; if not, why not?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): No, I do not agree with that. A variety of data suggests the regions have led New Zealand’s recovery. Statistics New Zealand regional GDP data shows that Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes’s Bay, Nelson-Tasman, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland, of course, all grew faster than the national average in the 5 years to 2013. The most recent ANZ Regional Trends survey shows rural regions growing faster than urban areas, and just last week I received reports from Queenstown, in my own electorate, of a significant boost from a long holiday by the Leader of the Opposition. But if the member wants to talk down the regions, then I hope he declares a crisis, because on recent established history every time Labour declares a crisis, things come right pretty quickly.

Hon David Parker: Does he agree that when the top few percent own most of the wealth the squeezed do not have enough to spend and invest and the economy will not perform to its fullest potential until the imbalance is fixed?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. In fact, in respect of the distribution of benefits of growth I can tell the member that the number of people on working-age benefits in Greymouth dropped 5 percent in the last year. In Blenheim it dropped 9 percent. In Napier it dropped 8 percent in the last year, and in Wanganui the number of people on working-age benefits also dropped 5 percent. Those people are now enjoying the benefits of more jobs and a stronger economy.

Hon David Parker: Then why is it that after 6 years, aside from Canterbury, the unemployment rate is higher in every region of New Zealand than it was when he took office?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, on “Planet Labour” there was no global financial crisis—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just answer the question.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: —and the member should take that into account when he uses those measures. Of course, in the real world, which is not where the Labour Party is, there was a major recession and unemployment did rise rapidly. Fortunately, it is now dropping consistently.

Tim Macindoe: Which regions have seen the strongest increases in economic activity?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The most recent regional trend survey shows that the strongest growth in economic activity in the March quarter was—in order—Northland, the highest, at 3.4 percent, followed by Bay of Plenty, then Waikato, then Nelson-Marlborough, then Otago, then the West Coast, and then Canterbury. ANZ reports that Northland was also the fastest growing region in the year to March at 7.4 percent. Business confidence is at a 9-year high in the survey and the top two areas for business confidence are Otago, despite the complaints of its civic leadership, and the Waikato. As I said, the evidence tends to suggest that the regions have led the recovery not lagged it.

Hon David Parker: Is his selective use of statistics because the latest Statistics New Zealand figures on per capita GDP show that per capita GDP in the last year has gone backwards, not just in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Manawatū, Wanganui, Marlborough, and on the West Coast but also in his own province of Southland?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I do not agree with that. But what I do agree with is the proposition that a significant carbon tax, a capital gains tax, and water rules that mean that every river has to be absolutely pure, will have dramatic economic effects on the regions and they will all be negative. That is why the regions are turning up to meetings all over the country, to tell us how determined they are to stop the Greens and Labour taking over Government. . .

 

Rangitikei MP Ian McKelive continued the theme in his contribution to the general debate:

IAN McKELVIE (National – Rangitīkei): That speech by Russel Norman was without a doubt one of the most boring obituaries I have ever heard in my life. It was, in my view, a gross misuse of facts to run down rural New Zealand. It will not help our cause. Regional New Zealand has faced its share of challenges in the past 40 years as our population and economy has adjusted and acclimatised to change. The progress we have made in the past 6 years under this Government is now having positive effects as the buoyant world food market and demand lifts farmer confidence, optimism, and ability to invest further in their industry. New tourism initiatives such as the * Forgotten World Adventures, cycle trails, and walking tracks are appearing. The growth in these businesses is leading to new opportunities for growth and investment in our regions. The announcement in Levin last week by Ministers Joyce and Guy of an ambitious plan to double my region’s agribusiness production by 2025, after some early feasibility studies by mayors ** Margaret Kouvelis and * Jono Naylor, who of course is the very good candidate for National in Palmerston North, is another example of proactive Government determined to enable our regions. The interesting point to note is that this agribusiness strategy is not all about increasing agricultural production, as the previous speaker would have us believe. It includes science, tourism, and the manufacturing sectors, which complement our traditional farming activities. Fresh water is critical to the future of our country and the Rangitīkei, as tourism and farming rely heavily on our pristine environment for our futures. The Government has invested heavily in this area, adding a further $12 million to it in the Budget just passed. This is on top of $350 million already committed to lake and river clean-ups, and the $101 million already spent in this Government’s term. The Rangitīkei has three of New Zealand’s major rivers—the beautiful * Whanganui River, which is a beautiful river and a great tourism opportunity for that region and certainly for the electorate of the member sitting next to me; the Manawatū, the subject already of a considerable amount of clean-up funding and, of course, New Zealand’s first river accord; and, of course, the Rangitīkei, one of the best fishing rivers in New Zealand. National has also developed the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research centre in Palmerston North in partnership with * AgResearch and nine other partners. This, as it progresses, will add significantly to our contribution to climate change measures and increase our productivity. The other key measure adding to the productivity in our region and announced in the past few weeks is the increase in the regional roading spend. In my region the replacement of the * Whirokino trestle bridge south of Foxton, which is over 1.5 kilometres long, when completed, will take some 30 kilometres off the trip for the average heavy truck from the central North Island to Wellington—30 kilometres. Add this to the Ōtaki to Wellington roading improvements, including the capital expressway and Transmission Gully, and the benefit to the central North Island will be significant. The * Tongariro and * Whanganui National Parks are a huge resource for the people of Rangitīkei, with winter sports, walking, boating and cycling growing at a great rate. On top of this we have a net migration inflow of people into the region in the last month, an increase in population, and a drop in unemployment. Despite the wailings of Labour and the Greens, this Government has made significant investment in the future of regional New Zealand, and we are seeing the benefits in our region. One of the key challenges that our rural councils face is managing demand for access to our vast network of paper roads, and careful thought will need to be given to the future management of these. The * Walking Access Commission has started this work but there is much to do and funding will be required in the future to complete this work. I want to briefly acknowledge the huge role that Tarania Turia has played in the Māori communities throughout my region, and congratulate her as she leaves this place on making such a great contribution to the welfare of so many. I want to briefly note the work done by Ngāti Apa in the south of the Rangitīkei, particularly in the social field, and now, with the acquisition of * Flock House and the subsequent partnership they have formed to farm this historic property. It will be the forerunner of things to come and perhaps the trendsetter to help unlock the vast potential of Māori land in New Zealand. In * Taumarunui the * Kōkiri Trust is achieving fantastic results in areas such as health, education, work projects, and aged care, under the leadership of Christine Briers—another initiative—and thanks again to the great work of Minister Turia. Finally, I want to acknowledge the time that my north-western neighbour, Shane Ardern, has spent working for the people of the north of the Rangitīkei. In the hill country of the North Island, boundaries are obscure and challenges are the same wherever you live. Thank you.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean added more:

JACQUI DEAN (National – Waitaki): What is Labour’s policy solution for everything? Talk it down, say how bad it really is, and then throw some money at it. That will do it—that will absolutely do it. Oh, and have a Minister. Labour members say “Let’s form another committee. Let’s have another Minister.” Who is that going to benefit? Oh, yes, that is right—it is going to benefit themselves. Do you think—or does one think; thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker—that after flying in over * South Canterbury’s beautiful water storage facility, the Opuha Dam; the highly productive dairy factories, one under full operation, one just about to be commissioned; and the most beautiful farms in South Canterbury, with grain stores glistening down below and new sheds everywhere, including milking sheds, and landing at the Timaru airport, and this happened last week, David Cunliffe apologised to South Canterbury for how badly the region is doing? And as he crossed the brand-new $20 million Kurow bridges, with their own cycle lane, creating 150 jobs regionally, on the way through the reinvigorated towns of Kurow, of Otematata, and of Omarama, following the $3 million * Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, do you think that Mr Cunliffe apologised to the locals for the new business opportunities and the incredible new tourist traffic that is now running through the region? And do you think after he recovered from his 2 days—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! Many times the member has brought me into the debate. You cannot mention “you” being the Speaker.

JACQUI DEAN: Thank you so much—thank you so much for your help, Mr Assistant Speaker. And do the Assistant Speaker and the members of the House think that once Mr Cunliffe did recover from his 2 days in beddy-byes with his man flu that he enjoyed all the magnificence that Queenstown offers, from the restaurants to the magnificent high life to the skiing? Actually, I did hear some of my spies report to me that some time last week there was seen on the slopes of Cardrona ski field a man in a red scarf desperately trying to be noticed. But do you think that—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order!

JACQUI DEAN: Oh, right. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. It is just that I am so enthusiastic about the topic that I cannot help but try to include the Assistant Speaker in the conversation, but I will not do that any more. But does one think that Mr Cunliffe then apologised to the people of Queenstown for how well their local economy is doing, with the expansion of the Queenstown airport and with the commitment of Air New Zealand to bringing tourists both domestic and international into the region? And do you think he apologised to the wineries? Do you think that David Cunliffe, when enjoying a pinot noir or a little a pinot gris, perhaps, for his cold, apologised to the wineries and said to the House how awful it was for them? And what about the cherry producers, the pip fruit producers, and the apple producers, who are producing so much that this Government had to respond by increasing the * Recognised Seasonal Employer numbers and, in fact, creating a new seasonal worker programme down south to assist New Zealanders into the region and into work? You see, what we are having to do with Central Otago is have programmes to bring workers into the regions. Unemployment is so low in Central Otago and the whole region is so productive that we need programmes to bring people into the region. There are jobs, all right. There are jobs in Central Otago, all right, and we are creating them. David Cunliffe should apologise. David Cunliffe should apologise because the South Canterbury and Otago regions are doing just fine. Things do not feel so hollowed out when the Winter Games NZ or the Queenstown winter festival are in full swing, or when the BMX world championships or the Wanaka triathlon festival are all go—all supported by what? All supported by this Government. Things do not feel hollowed out to the 11 Otago companies supported by the * Venture Investment Fund, or the initiatives in the meat and wool industries through the Primary Growth Partnerships, or the towns of Queenstown—or what about Ōāmaru or Dunedin city, which have been supported with their ultra-fast broadband upgrade? And what about the hundreds and hundreds of small businesses that now benefit from the * Rural Broadband Initiative and the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise capability development programme?

Labour holds only a couple of general electorates outside the main centres and really don’t understand what makes them tick.

They and their potential coalition partners are against most of the industries which provide the jobs there and export income for the whole country.

Rather than helping the regions their policies would handicap them with more restrictions and higher taxes.

National provides a happy contrast to that with MPs who represent rural and provincial people, understand their issues and how best to help them.


Not either or

July 24, 2014

Prime Minister John Key exposes the Green Party’s belief that economic growth and environmental protection are mutually exclusive:

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member’s question was quite instructive, actually, because his argument was that to produce more, you have to pollute more. On this side of the House, we actually totally and utterly disagree with that, but it does show what the member is thinking, and that is, of course, if you want to pollute less—which is something we accept the Green Party wants to do—you have to produce less, and boy will the Greens be producing less if they ever assume the Treasury benches.

Less pollution is something most people agree is a worthy aim but it doesn’t have to be either less pollution or more growth and contrary to the Green’s world view we do need a strong economy if we’re to afford environmental protection and enhancement.

Anyone who’s been in the third world knows  poorer economies have poorer environmental standards.

 


Rural round-up

July 23, 2014

Farming family demonstrate conservation message – Ann Warnock:

Dan Steele is a farmer, conservationist, competitive axeman, hunter, historian, lodge host, rugby fan and romantic who never dreamed he’d turn into a bird geek.

But at the age of 21, while wandering up the banks of the Kaiwhakauka Stream at Retaruke Station, his parents’ remote property on the Whanganui River, he spied a family of blue ducks (whio) and they unwittingly shaped the rest of his life.

“I love exploring and poking about up every stream; climbing every ridge. On this particular day I saw two adults with their five ducklings. The next time I saw them there were only three ducklings. Then there were none. I phoned the DOC ranger. They were endangered. It hit me; protecting the blue duck was part of the future of our land.” . . .

Boost for horticulture and viticulture industry:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse have announced plans for a new programme aimed at getting more Kiwis into seasonal work, alongside an increase to the annual RSE cap.

Mr Woodhouse says the need to raise the cap on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from 8000 to 9000 demonstrates the success of the RSE scheme.

“There’s no doubt that the growth in the horticulture and viticulture industry in the past few years would not have been possible without RSE, which has been widely praised locally and internationally,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“It has provided employers with a stable and reliable workforce and given them confidence to expand and invest in their business. RSE workers have also benefitted significantly from gaining invaluable work experience and being able to send money back to their communities at home.’’ . . .

NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme:

Domestic Pacific workers can be as successful as overseas Pacific workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries says Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
 
Mr Lotu-Iiga is encouraging employers to take up the New Zealand Seasonal Worker Scheme announced today by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. The scheme will provide pastoral care and other support to assist Kiwis into seasonal work. Mrs Bennett also announced an increase to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The scheme recruits seasonal workers from overseas to assist in the horticulture and viticulture industries where there are not enough New Zealand workers.
 
“I was in Marlborough in the weekend speaking to employers, Pacific RSE workers and domestic Pacific workers and I saw first-hand the benefits of Pacific people working in the wine industry,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga. . .

Pork industry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The Government and the commercial pork industry have committed to a partnership to strengthen biosecurity, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by New Zealand Pork at its annual conference today.

“This enables New Zealand Pork and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response activities. It means we can focus on the areas of greatest priority to the pork industry,” Mr Guy says.

“What it means in practice is a stronger, more effective biosecurity system. Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding. . .

– Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about PGG Wrightson and the challenges it faces. For their seeds division there are clear strategic options, but for the farm services division, the long term strategy remains challenging. Part of the reason is the competition they are facing from the farm services co-operatives, with Farmlands now dominant in the sector.

Farmlands has 56,000 members and an annual turnover exceeding $2 billion. This is more than double the New Zealand farm services revenue of its major investor-owned competitor, PGG Wrightson. The aim of Farmlands is to keep prices low for its members. This ensures that its investor-oriented competitor also has to keep its margins low. . . .

The truth about grassfed beef – The Food Revolution Network:

A lot of people today, horrified by how animals are treated in factory farms and feedlots, and wanting to lower their ecological footprint, are looking for healthier alternatives. As a result, there is a decided trend toward pasture-raised animals. One former vegetarian, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, says he now eats meat, but only “grassfed and organic and sustainable as possible, reverentially and deeply gratefully, and in small amounts.”

Sales of grassfed and organic beef are rising rapidly. Ten years ago, there were only about 50 grassfed cattle operations left in the U.S. Now there are thousands.

How much difference does it make? Is grassfed really better? If so, in what ways, and how much? . . .

New Zealand Meat Exports October 2013 to June 2014:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for the first nine months of the 2013-14 meat export season (1 October 2013 to 30 June 2014).

[All monetary values are in New Zealand dollars.]

Summary

Despite the high New Zealand dollar, particularly during the main export months of January to June, there was an increase in the average value for lamb, mutton and beef/veal. A smaller national lamb crop flowed through to reduced lamb export volumes. However, for only the fourth time in history, lamb exports exceeded $2 billion Free On Board (FOB) in the first nine months of a season.  . . .

New veterinary resource to manage disease in cattle associated with Theileria:

A new veterinary handbook on Theileria, developed by the Theileria Working Group and published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), will help to ensure that veterinarians and their farmer clients are well prepared to manage the expected spring upsurge in infections with this important, new parasite of cattle.

The number of affected farms is expected to exceed those reported in the last two years with nearly 700 beef and dairy herds testing positive so far, with about a third of these occurring in the North Island this year.  . .

 Brown Re-Elected as Council Chairman for Third Term, Duncan Coull New Deputy Chair:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown has today been re-elected unopposed to the position for a third term.

Ian Brown: “I appreciate the support I continue to receive from Councillors and look forward to leading the Council for a further 12 months.”

Mr Brown is joined by first time Deputy Chair, Duncan Coull, also elected unopposed, who will take up his new role on 29 July for a 12 month term.
Mr Coull was elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and serves as the Chair of the Council’s Representation Committee. . . .


First they came for the dairy cows . . .

July 23, 2014

The environmental lobby hasn’t given up on dairy cows but it has a new bovine target – beef cattle:

A new study into the environmental impact of meat production has singled out beef as the worst offender.

The study says beef requires far more resources than other meats to produce, but industry representatives here say they are working on making the red meat greener. 

New Zealand red meat exports total almost $8 billion annually.

The new study, based on meat production in the United States, which did not include lamb, is pointing the finger at the environmental impact of beef production.

It wouldn’t include lamb because its production is relatively insignificant in the USA.

It found beef needs 28 times more land than that required for the production of poultry and pork, and it requires 11 times more water.

What’s more, the study says beef production leads to five times more greenhouse gas emissions when compared to the other meats. . . 

What’s more, the bulk of USA beef cattle are finished in feed lots rather than grazing free range as they do here.

The cut and carry feed method of production requires a lot more fuel and therefore produces more emissions than free range grazing.

Snap Fresh Food vegetable grower Ashley Berrysmith says greens are the cleanest food choice for people concerned about their carbon footprint. . .

But man, and woman, can’t live on greens alone.

A healthy diet includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables but it also includes a variety of nutrients, protein and some fat all of which are easier to get in the required quantity from red meat than greens.

Agriculture accounts for almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, but Beef and Lamb New Zealand says the industry is getting more efficient.

“We’ve reduced our impact on the environment considerably, producing more meat on less land with less environmental impact,” says Ben O’Brien from Beef and Lamb.

But those behind the study say the science is clear – if you want to pollute less, eat more greens and less red meat.

But that study is from  the USA not New Zealand where beef production is a lot less energy intense.

Red meat production might still cause more greenhouse gas than growing vegetables, but that’s not the only consideration in a healthy diet.

Other considerations are nutrients and price where meat could come out better and let’s not forget that in New Zealand beef cattle graze where no crops could be grown.

Besides the study looks at only one side of the ledger.

Producers can – and do – take measures to minimise and compensate for emissions and most do their best to protect and enhance the environment in other ways too.


Rural round-up

July 22, 2014

Lepto danger with flood waters:

RURAL WOMEN New Zealand  reminds Far North farming families to be mindful about health issues in dealing with flood waters, including the elevated risk of leptospirosis.

Families should be careful about drinking water, pull on their gumboots, wash hands and faces thoroughly, and cover cuts and grazes before they come into contact with flood water to reduce the chance of getting infections, in particular leptospirosis, Rural Women says.

The leptospirosis bacteria is shed in the urine from infected animals including stock, rodents, dogs, possums, and hedgehogs and is more easily spread about where there is excess surface water as the Far North is currently experiencing. . .

Free lunch for Northland farmers:

WHO SAYS there’s no such thing as a free lunch – or dinner, asks the Northland Rural Support Trust.

It is holding free lunch or dinners for flood-hit Northland starting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 23).

“We can’t stop it raining, but here’s a chance to have a dinner you don’t have to cook and an opportunity to talk to other storm affected folk plus pick the brains of some support people,” the Support Trust says to farmers.

Free food and drink is supplied at each event thanks to the trust and local merchants. . .

Stark difference between NZ and Australian dairying but why? – Pasture to Profit:

The visual & financial differences between the New Zealand & Australian dairy industries at the current time are stark and startling!

Why is the NZ dairy industry booming and Australian dairy farmers under so much pressure & having to dig deep to remain profitable. Both dairy industries supply into the same international market and Australia has a much bigger domestic population and local market. A strong local market is often argued as being a strength and likely to lift dairy farmers farm gate price. The economy in both countries is relatively strong & to a large extent was not greatly affected by the world financial crisis. Yet one dairy industry is hanging in by their fingernails while the other is buoyed (perhaps unrealistically!) by higher milk prices. . . .

AbacusBio finalist in sheep awards – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based AbacusBio and its managing director Neville Jopson both feature among the finalists in this year’s Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.

After being held in the South for the past two years, the awards have been shifted to Napier and will be held on August 6.

Dr Jopson is a finalist in one of two new categories – the sheep industry science award, which recognises a project, business or person undertaking science that is having a positive impact on farming. . .

Decision on effluent area reserved:

An Environment Southland hearing committee has reserved its decision on whether Southland meat processor South Pacific Meats (SPM) can spread effluent on to a larger area of farmland in northern Southland.

SPM, jointly owned by Affco New Zealand and Talleys Fisheries Ltd, opened a plant at Awarua, south of Invercargill, in 2005.

Last year, it gained consent from Environment Southland to spread sludge from the bottom of its wastewater treatment pond on to 55.5ha of a 1033ha sheep farm near Garston. . . .

Farms: the abuse of children –  A Farm Girl’s Fight:

Recently, I was reading some blogs and websites of organizations and individuals that oppose farmers. These websites have “facts” that are outrageous. Luckily, these facts have “sources” attached….that link back to their own website. Anyway, it’s humorous to me, and gives me ideas for my blogs. And let me tell you what. I am fired up.

There was a sentence on one of the websites (which no I will not link to their website) that stated:

“Farmers are awful people that often take advantage of underage children, often their own, forcing them into a life of work and learning of inhumane ways.”
Let me tell you something. With the exception of the “inhumane ways” addition, that statement is damn true and I am darn proud of it. . . .

 


It’s red meat’s turn

July 22, 2014

The red meat sector has been lagging behind dairying for the best part of two decades but ANZ’s Privately Owned Business Barometer Survey says that’s about to change:

Over the past two decades red meat farmers have not enjoyed the same stellar gains as dairy farmers due to decreasing real prices, increasing costs, lack of reinvestment and an industry structure that did not encourage collaboration or economies of scale.

The ANZ survey of 779 farmers, including 374 red meat farmers and discussion groups found that most participants were planning investment in their farms to increase productivity and take advantage of rising global demand for protein.

“The survey found the sector was confident that conditions were right to regain some of the lost momentum and play a bigger role in the New Zealand economy,” said Graham Turley, Managing Director Commercial & Agri for ANZ Bank NZ.

“Farmers we spoke to had active strategies in place to take advantage of rising global demand for protein, and advances in agronomy and genetics to increase production.

“While structural issues within the industry remain unresolved, many farmers have an expectation that solutions are emerging that will lead to better integrated supply chains.”

Key findings of the ANZ Red Meat Sector Key Insights Report
65% of red meat farmers plan to increase production in next 3–5 years. Of these:
• 84% plan to invest in pasture
• 69% plan to invest in animal genetics
• 53% see benefit in getting expert help in improving farm productivity
• 63% say succession is about passing the farm to family or whanau
• 34% say the purchaser’s ability to finance is the key barrier to succession

Turley said it was likely the red-meat sector would see faster productivity gains than dairy.

“Already, many operations are achieving outstanding results way in excess of the averages.

“The top 20% of farmers are achieving productivity of around four times more than the average, irrespective of land class and location.

“They rightly have the confidence to reinvest profits to lift productivity and generate long-term wealth.”

Beef + Lamb NZ has been working with farmers to help them learn from the top operators who are doing significantly better than average.

On and off-farm research and improvements in farming practices have already led to significant improvements as this shows:

We’re producing 7% less lamb but from 46% fewer sheep which means there’s been a huge increase in productivity in the sector.

No-one should be celebrating the fall in milk prices but it might help sheep and beef farmers take a fresh look at their own sector and see opportunities for improvement.


Rural round-up

July 21, 2014

A balanced lifestyle – Sally Rae:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards reinforced to South Otago couple Brendon and Suzie Bearman they were ”heading in the right direction”.

The couple, who farm a 245ha property south of Milton, received the Otago Regional Council water quality award, LIC dairy farm award and PGG Wrightson land and life award in this year’s Otago BFEA awards.

The opening date for entries in the 2015 competition is August 1 and Mrs Bearman encouraged people to enter. It was a good forum to promote farming in a positive light and the ”good things” people were doing on farms needed to be highlighted, she said. . .

Caution urged on intensification - Andrea Fox:

Not long ago Irish dairy leaders were saying New Zealand dairy farmers had lost the plot on cost competitiveness.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle recalled they gave him stick about the Kiwi move to higher inputs and this country’s flirtation with cow housing. 

Now the Irish are fearful they will go down the same road, with European milk production quota limits coming off next year. . .

Skills key to future success – Andrea Fox:

Sharemilkers will always be among us but the future pathway to farm ownership will be through the classroom, sector veterans say.

With the number of herd owners from the traditional nursery, 50:50 sharemilkers, shrinking in the past decade, from more than 3000 to 2229 last year, there is a question mark over who will be the dairy farm owners of the future as land prices, which spawned sharemilking, continue to rise.  

Sharemilker, farm-owner and DairyNZ director Ben Allomes said as the dairy industry grew in size and maturity, it would not be so much the sharemilking system that would be the ladder to farm ownership but an ability to work whatever system there was to get traction. . . .

Molesworth Station: From ruin to redemption :

The story of Molesworth is one of ruin to redemption, says the author of a book on the iconic high country station.

”It’s sort of a heroic theme really and a lesson in fantastic land management,” says Harry Broad, the journalist and conservationist behind Molesworth: Stories from New Zealand’s largest high-country station.

Harry is one of the authors at next weekend’s Marlborough Book Festival, where he’ll share stories of the incredible history, landscape and people of Molesworth.

The 180,000-hectare Marlborough station was ”close to ruin” by 1937, due to poor management, aggravated by low wool prices, a plague of rabbits and winters that could kill a third of its sheep. . .

Beef, lamb exports near peak – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand beef and lamb exports are at almost record levels for the first nine months of trade this season.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand figures show lamb exports reached $2.06 billion for the nine months to June, despite volume dropping by 3.6 per cent and the disadvantage of a strong dollar.

The buoyant meat export figures are in contrast to recent slumps in dairy prices. In a shock fall, dairy prices dropped 8.9 per cent at the latest Global Dairy Trade auction earlier this week and are down about 35 per cent from recent peaks. . .

 

Single farmers looking for love – Kelly Dennett:

A new Facebook page that helps farmers find love has created a stir in the provinces.

NZF Singles invites country folk seeking companionship to post their photo and information for others to peruse.

The applicants could see who liked or commented on their photo and add them online accordingly.

For those seeking something a little more casual, a Russian roulette style system called Second Chance Sunday invited people to post their Snap Chat names or phone numbers on the wall for others to get in touch.    . . .


Quota bad for health

July 21, 2014

Tim Worstall shows that public health campaigners  don’t understand economics:

. . . The European Union is taking the next step in reforming the entirely absurd sugar regime, making it marginally less awful. The public health wallahs are shouting that this might make sugar cheaper, to the point where everyone will explode from eating too much of it.

No, really:

Controversial agricultural reforms by the European Union could cause sugar levels in food and drink to rise, experts have warned.

Campaigners said it was “perverse” that the EU was planning to lift sugar production quotas at a time when health authorities are advising people to reduce their consumption of the ingredient. . . .

The move is expected to make sugar cheaper for food and drink manufacturers, prompting fears it will encourage them to use rising levels of the ingredient. Dr Aseem Malhotra, science director of Action on Sugar, a campaign group, said it would be “disastrous” for public health.

Oh dear.

They’ve really not understood what’s going on here at all.

In the nightmare world of EU agricultural policies the abolition of quota does not mean that prices are going to fall. For what actually happens is that if you grow sugar beet then there’s two prices which you can sell that deformed mangelwurzel to the processor at. One, a guaranteed one, much higher than a free market price, is only available if you have quota to go with your sugar beet. The other price is very much lower than a free market price and almost no one ever tries to grow beet without quota as a result.

The important point about the abolition of quota is not that it abolishes quota. It is that if there is no quota then beet with or without quota cannot gain that guaranteed price. Thus the price on offer to Europe’s sugar beet growers is going to fall: all other things being equal we’ll thus have less beet being grown. And thus less sugar being taken into storage and then subsidised by the EU when it is later dumped on the food manufacturers.

The abolition of quota will lead to less sugar being produced. And the public health campaigners are arguing against the abolition of quota to stop less sugar being produced. . .

Removing quota will not just have economic benefits, contrary to what the campaigners say, it could have health ones too.


Rural round-up

July 20, 2014

Back agriculture back our Roads:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement to increase investment in our deteriorating rural roads, but has concerns at whether it will be enough.

“A proposed increase of 4.3 percent per annum for local road improvements, and a 2.4 percent increase for local road maintenance, is long overdue but it remains to be seen whether it is enough.” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government Spokesperson.

“To date, the investment in our rural roads has not kept up with inflation and it is evident in each pot hole and/or goat track that farmers, families, school buses and contractors navigate everyday.

“We are pleased this is now being addressed but is it a sufficient recognition of the importance of roading to an economy reliant on primary production, and in turn it’s long rural roads? . . .

More places earmarked for rural medical students:

Health Minister Tony Ryall has today announced there will be an additional 34 medical places for students next year at our two medical schools, including more positions earmarked for rural students.

Mr Ryall made the announcement at Taumarunui Hospital, a busy rural health facility in the King Country with around 100 staff. 

“Research shows that students who grew up in rural areas, such as Taumarunui, are more likely to go back and work in those areas. These extra places will help encourage more doctors to work in our rural communities,” says Mr Ryall.

“Since 2009 this government has now funded 170 extra medical school places. . . .

New Zealand Seafood Industry Assures Australian Consumers that its Seafood is Sustainable:

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) list of imported fish that it’s telling consumers to stay away from, sounds like an ‘underarm delivery’ to the New Zealand industry.

Seafood New Zealand’s Chairman George Clement says it seems that the AMCS is has just gone through a list of imported seafood to arbitrarily warn people against most of it.

“Species by species, as we go through them, we can see how misinformed the AMCS report is. They’ve provided no transparent criteria nor openness in their assessments. There’s no indication that they have actually challenged themselves to examine the facts when they’ve drawn up their list.” . . .

Seafood New Zealand welcomes community funding for seabird conservation work:

Seafood New Zealand today welcomed Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith’s announcement that the Government will provide $300,000 of funding to two community groups to support their work in protecting some of New Zealand’s special seabirds.

The seafood industry is one of the founding partners in the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust which has received $100,000 towards a seabird smart recreational fishing initiative that aims to reduce the number of birds accidentally caught by recreational fishers in the upper North Island. . . .

From the last will and testament of a farmer c1986 – Gravedodger:

To my Wife,  my bank overdraft. Maybe she has an explanation for it.

To my Banker, I bequeath my soul, he has the mortgage on it anyway.

To my nearest and dearest neighbor, my clown suit, he claims he is going to carry on farming.

To The Rural Bank, my grain silo and my Fertilizer Bin, he has them as chattel security anyway.

To the local scrap metal dealer, every item of crap machinery I have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep from his possession. . . .

Otago woman named NZ’s top young amenity horticulturist:

New Zealand’s top young amenity horticulturist has been found after an intense day of competition at the Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year event in Hamilton yesterday.

The annual competition is run by the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) and serves as the qualifier for the prestigious Horticulturist of the Year competition, which will be hosted in Auckland in November.

Otago woman Sarah Fenwick emerged as the judge’s choice after planning, planting and potting her way to victory. The 30-year-old former vet nurse narrowly beat second place getter Josh van der Hulst, from Kamo, to take out the prize. . . .

Tax officials to work with bloodstock breeding industry:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy and Revenue Minister Todd McClay have confirmed that Inland Revenue officials will work with the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association on a number of tax issues raised by the industry.

The issues cover questions the NZTBA has over the application of tax rules for the industry and are expected to be dealt with as part of the normal consultative process between the private sector and tax officials.

“We are confident that the majority of the issues can be worked through, providing a positive result and greater certainty for what is an important industry to New Zealand,” Mr McClay says. . . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s largest A&P Show:

Show organisers for the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show are calling upon showing enthusiasts from throughout New Zealand to send in their entries and compete in the country’s largest Agricultural and Pastoral Show. For over 150 years, The Show has been attracting and showcasing New Zealand’s best animals and talented competitors. In addition to showing success, exhibitors will be competing for over $100,000 in prize money.

More than 3000 animals and close to 1000 competitors are expected to compete in 1700 classes including sections for horse and pony, beef and dairy cattle, sheep, alpaca, llama, wool, goat, dog trials, poultry, shearing and woolhandling, woodchopping and vintage machinery. Entries are also open for two of the feature competitions of The Show – the Mint Lamb Competition where New Zealand’s top lambs are put to a taste test, and the Young Auctioneers Competition where up-and-coming stock agents get to show off their skills. . . .


Rural round-up

July 19, 2014

Regen owner named Mumtrepreneur of the Year:

Wellington businesswoman Bridgit Hawkins has been named Fly Buys Mumtrepreneur of the Year in the Fly Buys Mumtrepreneur Awards.

Hawkins’ business, Regen Ltd, helps dairy farmers manage a key issue – disposing of cattle effluent. The company has developed software that turns data, including soil moisture, temperature and rainfall, into a simple daily recommendation that’s sent to the farmer by text message.

Since Regen launched in 2010, the company has helped hundreds of farms across the country manage effluent disposal efficiently and its customer numbers have doubled year on year. . .

$107.5m to Lincoln University science rebuild:

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government has approved in principle to provide up to $107.5 million in capital funding toward the rebuilding of Lincoln University’s science facilities destroyed in the Canterbury earthquakes.

“Lincoln University suffered very significant damage in the Canterbury earthquakes, and this money will assist the university with its rebuild programme and help it get back fully on its feet. Lincoln is focused on growing its undergraduate enrolments and the rebuild of its key facilities is the next stage in returning it to sustainable operations”, Mr Joyce says.

Lincoln University lost more than 40 per cent of its academic floor space in the Canterbury earthquakes, including much of its facilities for science teaching and research. The rebuild will involve demolishing the badly damaged Hilgendorf and Burns buildings, and replacing them with modern facilities. . .

Federated Farmers on Ruataniwha appeal:

While Federated Farmers did not lodge an appeal with the High Court against the Board of Inquiry decision on the Ruataniwha Dam and the associated Plan Change 6, it is now considering options in light of Hawke’s Bay & Eastern Fish & Game Councils lodging an appeal.

“Federated Farmers principal interests are in the plan change rather than the dam, which was given consent to proceed,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay Provincial President.

“I cannot comment on the merits of Fish & Game’s appeal until we see it next week.

“Since we now know of Fish & Game appeal, we must now reconsider the best way forward.  I need our members to know that we do have options.

“It seems farcical since the news today says Kiwi farmers will have to make big changes to cope with climate change, following release of the International State of the Climate report.  Yet more reasons to store water. . . .

Looking for the South Island’s next top farmer:

The South Island’s next top farmer is out there and Federated Farmers wants to see farmers nominated for the 2014 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award. The 2013 award being won by the winemaker, Peter Yealands.

“New Zealand farming does not celebrate success enough,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers National President.

“As the farmer-comedian Te Radar told us at Federated Farmers’ National Conference, we do not take time to stop and appreciate just how good our farmers really are. . .

Levy vote about capturing wool’s value –  Chris Irons:

In recent news, one might think that sheep farming is all about red meat, but the sheep farmer’s story is not all about protein. We farm a dual purpose animal and whilst the red meat side is performing, its fibre counterpart has yet to reach its full potential.

Sheep farmers are world leaders in producing fibre; supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool, we are the world’s third largest wool exporter. To capture that value behind the farm gate and building the industry’s worth of $700 million, we need a Wool Levy.

The Wool Levy Consultation has been officially launched, and the Referendum will be voted on the 10th October. Imagine the possibilities, with the average value of our raw wool exports having increased by 38 percent from 2010 to 2014. . . .

Rural elderly communities to struggle – report:

An ageing population where deaths outnumber births will be a challenge for rural communities who won’t be able to afford the services they need, according to analysis of New Zealand census data.

The challenges of adapting to an older population are highlighted in the Our Futures report, by an expert panel at the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Panel chairman, Professor Gary Hawke, says the review is a unique multi-disciplinary approach that looks at the big picture.

“We wanted to highlight what an evolving New Zealand society might look like, what is underlying these changes, and the challenges and opportunities these present.” . . .

Mixed fortunes at wool auction:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the South Island auction offering 10,122 bales this week received varied support despite a weaker New Zealand dollar compared to the last sale on 10th July.

The weighted currency indicator was down 1.11 percent with 81 percent of the offering being sold.

Steady demand from China underpinned the Fine Crossbred sector, however most carpet wool types eased as contracts in this area have been harder to conclude recently. . .

Value Creation and Environmental Sustainability for Marlborough Wine Industry By-Products:

Marlborough’s wine producers have come together with the Marlborough District Council in a new collaborative approach to the management of grape marc disposal, to generate a new, commercially viable and environmentally sustainable product from grape waste.

Facilitated by the District Council, participating wine companies have formed the “Marlborough Grape Marc (MGM) group” to advance a proposal for an environmentally sustainable use of the wine industry’s waste streams.

The MGM group is chaired by Eric Hughes of Pernod Ricard Winemakers with representatives from Cloudy Bay, Constellation Brands, Delegat’s, Giesen, Indevin, Matua, Mount Riley, NZ Wineries, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Saint Clair and Villa Maria. The group members generate approximately 80% of the wine production in Marlborough. MGM is an open collective, it is hoped that further companies will join and support this industry wide initiative. . .


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