Rural round-up

April 17, 2014

IPCC Mitigation Report redefines agriculture as ‘green tech’:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Mitigation Report places New Zealand in a very good position so long as the policy nexus supports the carbon efficient production of food.

“The IPCC’s Mitigation Report projects that emissions from Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use could, by 2050, be half of what they were in 2010,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“In the IPCC’s Mitigation Report summary for policymakers, agriculture is seen as being positive because it “plays a central role for food security and sustainable development”.

“We think the IPCC has come a very long way from 2007. There is an increasing alignment between climate change and food insecurity, arguably, the two biggest challenges our species will face this century. . .

Tukituki decision a win for water quality and farming:

The draft decision by the Board of Inquiry (BOI) on the Tukituki Catchment proposal represents a significant win for freshwater management and the urgency of a transition to environmentally sustainable agriculture in New Zealand, says Fish & Game NZ.

Fish & Game lead the evidence presented against the most contentious issue in front of the BOI which was Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s proposed “single nutrient management” approach – this focussed only on the management of phosphorous and set instream nitrogen limits at toxic levels. . .

Kiwi on the farm:

The sight of kiwi scratching the grass on Richard Gardner’s farm near Kaipara is now a common sight, thanks to his family’s dedication to a restoration project in the area.

Richard Gardner says they’ve been controlling pests in a fenced-off area of bush on his land and last year decided to introduce kiwi back into the area for the first time in 50 years.

He says his sister, Gill Adshead, and her husband, Kevin, were initially behind the restoration of 400 hectares of native bush, which is now home to kiwi. . .

Barns could give us the best of both worlds - James Houghton:

In a recent column by Sir David Skegg, he says we need to stop pretending that we can have our cake and eat it too. Whilst right now that may not be the case it is definitely a possibility.

Right now we are working to get the balance right between the environment and economy. Yes there is intensification and with that comes responsibility. Farmers are upgrading their infrastructure to keep within the acceptable limits, which involves nutrient budgets, cattle housing, new technology, and overseer programs. Overall New Zealand dairy farmers are investing a conservative $3 billion into improving their environmental impact, which is nothing to snort at. For each individual dairy farmer that equates to about a $250,000 investment, you can say we are taking every practical step to improve our environment.

It is all well and good to say we need a balance between meeting the Government’s target of doubling our exports by 2025 and maintaining and improving our water quality – everyone will agree with you here, but who sets that balance? It comes down to where your priorities lie, and everyone’s priorities are different. . .

Whitebait partners look for solutions:

Waikato-Tainui, local marae, councils and agencies are working together to better manage whitebait fisheries at Port Waikato following the compilation of a new report.

The report is the result of an initial scoping project to better understand the complex and inter-related resource management issues around whitebaiting in the lower Waikato River. The area has traditionally been a plentiful source of whitebait but over the years more and more people are seeking to gather the delicacy there.

With more people comes increased pressures for space to build stands, an increase in the number and size of baches and associated pressures such as sewage management, and a growing amount of whitebait being taken.  . .

Alps trail activity booms – Rebecca Fox:

In its first ”official” season, activity on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is much higher than the forecast.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said monthly trail counter readings from September 2013 to February this year show 3604 cyclists used the Lake Ohau Lodge section of the trail, 4815 cycled the Lake Pukaki section and 3646 passed the Ohau Weir section.

”The numbers are fantastic … they are higher than what was forecast,” Mr Gaskill said.

”In a lot of ways, it’d be hard to imagine how things could have gone a lot better [this season].” . . .

Feed statistics reflect the growth of New Zealand dairy production:

Annual Feed Production Statistics compiled by the New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) for the year 2013 reflect the changing face of feed production. Based on figures supplied by NZFMA member companies nationwide, the NZFMA annual statistics report the total tonnages of manufactured animal feed and the tonnages of raw materials used in the production of compound feed in New Zealand. (Compound feed is heat-treated feed produced in a feed mill in pellet or mashed form.)

In 2013, compound feed production increased by 2.8% to 991,027 tonnes and raw material usage rose by 4.1% to 983,440 tonnes. The four main grains used were wheat (58.8%), barley (17.4%), sorghum (12.2%) and maize (10.3%). The majority of compound feed was produced in the North Island (65.3%). 86% of compound feed is currently produced in bulk form and 14% is bagged. . .


Rural round-up

April 16, 2014

“Awareness needed around psychology of hunting accidents”:

Wellington start-up, Hunter Safety Lab says there needs to be greater awareness around the subconscious psychological factors that can cause safety conscious, experienced hunters to mistakenly shoot another hunter.

The comment came in light of the death of a Southland hunter shot by another hunter over the weekend.

It is the hunting season’s second shooting accident to take place in the space of two weeks since it officially kicked off at the beginning of April. . .

No rain reprieve yet for drought-hit farms:

While farming areas in the South Island and the main centres receive rain, very little has fallen in areas affected by the upper North Island’s second consecutive autumnal drought.

“It is clearly a localised drought adverse event covering Waikato and parts of Auckland and Northland,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

“I must add that we are also concerned about conditions in Manawatu-Rangitikei too.

“Having been through drought myself last year, I fully understand why farmers up north would dearly like to trade weather with us in the South Island. . . .

Kiwi environmental innovation receives international honours:

Contact Energy’s Wairākei bioreactor – a Kiwi innovation – has been awarded honours at the internationally recognised 2014 IWA Asia Pacific Regional Project Innovation Awards in Singapore. Jointly developed by Contact and Beca, the bioreactor is a unique, world-first solution to improve the quality of water that is discharged from the iconic Wairākei geothermal power station into the Waikato River.

“I’m immensely proud of our bioreactor,” says Contact Energy CEO, Dennis Barnes. “As a world-first it’s great to see this example of Kiwi ingenuity recognised at an international level.”

“To work with Contact Energy from the beginning, developing and testing innovative concepts through to the design and construction of the Wairākei bioreactor has been immensely rewarding for the Beca team”, says Beca CEO, Greg Lowe. “This is another great example of New Zealand talent delivering world class project outcomes.” . . .

Tough Ask to Separate Bright 2014 Sharemilker Finalists:

Choosing a winner in the 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition is a tough task for the judges, due to the varying backgrounds and positions of the finalists.

“It is a really interesting competition this year. A number of the finalists are relatively new to the dairy industry, having changed careers, and they also hold a variety of positions which highlights the many ways people can now progress in the industry,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The greatest factor they have in common – apart from being ambitious dairy farmers – is the majority of this year’s finalists have Bachelor degrees. This demonstrates the industry is attracting talented people who are applying skills learned on the job or in other vocations to excel.” . . .

Rollout of faster broadband to remote East Cape schools complete:

All twelve rural schools in remote locations around Gisborne and Wairoa now have faster broadband, as a result of the Government’s broadband initiatives, Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams announced today.

Local communications company Gisborne Net has successfully completed the installation of point-to-point wireless broadband for the 12 schools, under a contract signed with the Government last year.

The 12 Gisborne and Wairoa schools are among 57 across New Zealand which will get faster broadband under the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative, because they are beyond the reach of cost-effective fibre deployment.

The schools will have access to broadband capable of peak speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (about four times faster than previous services). . . .

Sales Volumes Strong, With Prices Holding Steady in March Market:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 94 more farm sales (+25.5%) for the three months ended March 2014 than for the three months ended March 2013. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2014, compared to 534 farm sales for the three months ended February 2014 (-11.6%). 1,842 farms were sold in the year to March 2014, 28.5% more than were sold in the year to March 2013.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2014 was $22,342 compared to $22,317 recorded for three months ended March 2013 (+0.1%). The median price per hectare fell 1.3% compared to February.  . . .

State of the art CT scanner to make quick work of animal yield measurements:

Sheep and Deer farmers in the South Island can now benefit from faster and more accurate carcass measurements, thanks to a new CT scanner in Mosgiel. The scanner, which uses X-Ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, is a valuable tool for determining meat yield in livestock.

The new CT scanner is being provided by INNERVISION, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch. It replaces an older scanner that had been in operation for eighteen years.

CT scanner scientist Neville Jopson said the new scanner was considerably faster than the old machine, scanning a whole carcass in around two minutes compared to as much as two hours previously. The ‘spiral scanning’ feature takes measurements over the entire carcass rather than single slice views at set points, providing a much better understanding of composition. . . .

Rabobank opens afresh in central Christchurch:

Continued strong growth in New Zealand has seen specialist agribusiness lender Rabobank relocate to state-of-the-art premises in the new ‘Rabobank Building’ in central Christchurch.

The Christchurch branch of the world’s leading specialist agribusiness bank and the third largest lender to rural New Zealand reopened on Monday 14 April at Level 2, 12 Papanui Rabobank northern south island regional manager David Clarke said the new premises catered for expanding staff numbers and would enable the branch to better service rural farmers and agribusinesses in the Canterbury region.

“We’ve almost doubled in staff numbers in the last decade so we’re excited to move to modern, newer premises with improved technology and more space, which will allow us to grow into the future,” he said. . . .

New Zealand’s First Masterclass for Home Winemakers?

Wine enthusiasts, as well as new and seasoned home winemakers, can learn the secrets of the profession from veteran vintner Justin Oliver.

Oliver is from Matakana’s famous Mt Tamahunga Vineyard and has over 20 years industry winemaking experience at wineries throughout New Zealand and in California. He is also Senior Cidermaker at Zeffer Cider and has distilled professionally. Oliver is in the throes of launching his own wine brand, Free Range Wine Co, specialising in premium wine on tap. 

The Syrah grapes that Mt Tamahunga make into $50 a bottle wine can also be pre-purchased from makewine.co.nz to be collected at the masterclass. The supply is very limited this year – and will be sold on a first in first served. Mt Tamahunga vineyard is one of oldest in the area. It was first planted by the Vuletic brothers for the famous Antipodean Farm wine label of the 1980′s. People may remember a 5-litre bottle of this Bordeaux-styled red selling for $5000 at auction. Those were the days! The Syrah vines were planted in 2004 by new owners, for the premium Mt Tamahunga wine label.  . .


GDT down 2.6%

April 16, 2014

The GlobalDairyTrade index dropped 2.6% in this morning’s auction.

gdt 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The price of anhydrous milk fat increase .6%; butter dropped 4.9%; butter milk powder dropped 8.6%; cheddar was down 3.3%; milk protein concentrate fell 7%, rennet casein was down 4.3%; skim milk powder went down 4.4% and whole milk powder was down 1.6%.

gdt 3

 

 

 

 

 

This doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

The price is still above the long term average.

gdt 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lower price is just reflecting greater supply here and overseas, in particular in the USA where a reduction in the demand for crop for biofuels has made cattle feed cheaper.

It does however, mean that sensible dairy farmers will be budgeting on a lower payout next season.


Don’t let this chance go by HB

April 16, 2014

Dear Hawkes Bay,

You have moved a step closer to drought-proofing a significant area of productive land with the release of a draft decision  granting 17 resource consents for the $265 million Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme by the Tukituki Catchment Proposal Board of Inquiry.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has proposed building the dam as a way of alleviating drought problems and boosting the local economy through improved primary production on the Ruataniwha Plains near Waipawa and Waipukurau.

The project would involve the construction an 83-metre-high concrete dam on the Makaroro River to store water for irrigating 25,000 hectares of land across the plains. . .

In its decision the board granted the 17 resource consent applications relating to the dam and water storage scheme, subject to conditions.

It allowed the plan change based on a detailed set of conditions including limits on nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the Tukituki catchment. . .

The decision pleases the Iwi:

Irrigation New Zealand says the decision is bold and encouraging:

Chief Executive Andrew Curtis says the decision was welcome news – particularly following the organisation’s biennial conference in Napier earlier this month where benefits of the scheme were discussed and attendees were assured of steps being taken by the industry to protect New Zealand’s water quality. This includes initiatives such as SMART irrigation (www.smartirrigation.co.nz) to ensure smart and sustainable farming is practiced in New Zealand.

“Seeing first-hand the drought that is starting to crush many parts of the North Island we can only conclude that Ruataniwha is not only overdue, but essential if the Hawkes Bay is to survive. Creating and investing in water storage throughout New Zealand needs to continue to be a priority for the Government, particularly on the East Coast, which the recent UN Climate change report confirms will only get drier.”

In response to the EPA’s decision to turn down the Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s proposed ‘single nutrient’, Mr Curtis says this aspect of the decision wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“Phosphorus and nitrogen, along with sediment and riparian stream protection all need to be managed to protect water quality – each aspect is covered through the Farm Environment Plan approach to be implemented as part of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.”

“The EPA’s decision is a positive step to New Zealand unlocking its renewable resources for the benefit of all. It’s now down to the local farming and business communities to get on board – both as investors and also to increase initial uptake,” says Mr Curtis.

Federated Farmers says the scheme has now got to second base:

With the Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme getting the tick from a Board of Inquiry appointed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the concept of water storage has passed a major milestone but a greater one is to ensure it is financially viable.

“You could say Ruataniwha has now got to second base,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“First base was getting Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s leadership to take it forward while second base was the Board of Inquiry.

“Third base will be the scheme’s all-important financing and whether the nutrient limits make it viable for farmers to invest. It also has to be analysed to make sure it still works within the regional plan too.

“If these all stack up then it will be a home run once construction hopefully starts.

“Federated Farmers believes water storage is core economic, cultural, social and environmental infrastructure for a changing climate. . .

My farmer and I were in Hawkes Bay a couple of weeks ago with the Pastoral Management Group. We were briefed on the scheme and taken to the site.

The next day the two of us were asked to speak to farmers at Onga Onga.

My farmer finished his comments with a challenge:

“Go home tonight and think ahead 30 years. What will your grandchildren be saying?

“Will they be thanking you for being visionaries, of will they be saying you were silly old bastards?”

If you don’t grasp the opportunity you’ve got future generations will be thanking you, if you don’t, those who are left will be wondering how you could have been so stupid.

We have seen irrigation transform North Otago.

Ours was the first farm in our valley to get water and during droughts it used to stand out like a blot of green ink on parchment. Now, thanks to the North Otago Irrigation Scheme it’s the few dry paddocks which stand out.

This scheme, like yours, wasn’t cheap.

But drought’s expensive too and it’s not just drought that costs.

Have you every worked out what you lose by having to farm conservatively in the okay and good years because you can’t rely on getting enough rain?

The returns from reliable production in good years and bad more than justify the expense and the financial benefits aren’t confined to farms.

The people who work for us, service and supply us have benefited too, no longer subject to the boom and bust cycles which followed the vagaries of the weather. The wider district and the country are better off because we have water when we need it.

Imagine how much more prosperous towns like Waipukerau would be if you had water when and where you need it.

The benefits aren’t just financial, they’re environmental and social too.

We have fragile soils which blew over from the Waitaki Valley. They used to keep blowing in droughts, now they stay put.

The Waiareka Stream which was little more than a series of stagnant ponds much of the time now flows cleanly all year and native wildlife has re-established in it.

The NOIC scheme was the first to require environmental farm plans from all its shareholders. These are independently audited each year and supply of water is dependent on passing that audit.

Water has brought a social transformation too.

There were four houses on our farm and those of our two closest neighbours before we got water. Now there are 14 and we’re building a 15th.

My farmer and I are the oldest in any of those houses by more than a a decade. Most others are early 30s or younger and several of them are having children.

The average age of the district has plummeted as a result and for the first time since the ag-sag of the 1980s farmers’ adult children are returning home.

Most of the farms which have got water here have converted to dairying. But there is also cropping, most notably a large-scale operation which specialises in bird seed.

The conditions in the resource consent for Ruataniwha might preclude dairying for most of you but  your climate gives you the potential for many other land-use options not available to us down here.

You already know what you can grow when the weather favours you. With irrigation you’ll be able to do all that and more whatever the weather.

The Ruataniwha scheme is providing you the opportunity to do something not just for yourselves but for your province and for the future.

Don’t let this chance go by, Hawkes Bay.

Your grandchildren are depending on you.


Rural round-up

April 15, 2014

GM in NZ on farming leader’s agenda - Tony Benny:

A visit to Argentina has left Federated Farmers vice-president Dr William Rolleston even more convinced New Zealand should not close the door on GM agriculture.

“I stood in a field of genetically modified soya beans, amongst hundreds of thousands of acres of genetically modified crops which they are using to have some beneficial effect on their environment but also to ramp up their production,” Rolleston said.

While his support for GM is already well known, Rolleston said he made a point of mentioning the issue in a speech at the North Canterbury branch of Federated Farm-ers’ AGM so that he couldn’t be accused of keeping his views secret should he later became Feds president.

“We need to have a sensible debate,” he said. . .

 

Dairy price ‘worm has turned’ downward – ASB  – Niko Kloetin:

Milk prices are tipped to fall again at tonight’s global dairy auction.

ASB says prices could drop another 10 per cent.

In more bad news for dairy farmers, the bank said the New Zealand dollar could remain high against the United States dollar if the American economy did not improve.

In its Farmshed Economics newsletter, ASB said “the worm has turned” on dairy prices, which are down almost 20 per cent in the past two months.

Driving prices down has been a lift in milk production, which ASB forecasts will increase by 11 per cent this season compared with last season. . .

Secrets to sharemilking success - Gerald Piddock:

James and Melissa Barbour’s strong relationship with their farm owner and staff has propelled the sharemilking couple to the top in their field.

The Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners credit these relationships for their success and place a lot of emphasis on maintaining them.

They 50:50 sharemilk 355 cows for Joan De Renzynts at Matamata. Both are 28 years old, and are in their seventh season and third position 50:50 sharemilking.

They take on board what De Renzy says and work as a team along with assistant Hayden Thompson. . .

Brainstorming conference expected – Yvonne O’Hara:

The possible reintroduction of an industry levy and ”the way forward” for profitability and sustainability for the goat industry will be the focus of the inaugural New Zealand Goats (NZGoats) conference in Queenstown next month.

Mohair New Zealand Inc, Meat Goat New Zealand (MGNZ), the New Zealand Boer Goat Breeders Association and NZGoats will all be holding their annual meetings during the same weekend, May 23 to 25.

NZ Goats chairwoman Dawn Sangster, of Patearoa, said those interested in feral or dairy goats or in the industry in general were also invited. . .

Last few weeks of hard prep for dairy trainee  – Yvonne O’Hara:

It is only a little more than four weeks to go before Josh Lavender, of Lochiel, is up against the nations’ other ”best of the best” dairy trainees, so he is spending as much time as he can preparing.

Mr Lavender (26) won the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ Southland Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year a month ago and since then has combined work as 2IC on a 752-cow property near Lochiel with catching up with study for his Production Management Level 5 through Primary ITO, preparing a DVD and speech for the nationals, and learning as much as he can about the industry. . .

Cloudy Bay’s new vintage redefines Chardonnay:

The winemaking philosophy of Cloudy Bay chardonnay revolves around a very stripped back approach. Juice in the barrel is settled for a very short time without the use of enzyme to retain a high level of solids. Following this is a long indigenous fermentation, taking place in barrel.

“These techniques work together to build complexity of flavour, but more importantly they contribute texture and architecture to the palate,” explains Tim Heath. “It takes our wine beyond simple fruit flavour. It is a wine to watch and speaks of its origin.” . . .


Successful succession

April 15, 2014

A recent Baker and Associates’ weekly AgLetter* included Rob McCreary’s thoughts on succession planning, given at the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year Field Day.

1. Rob’s farther was an academic. The greatest thing his father passed on to Rob was no expectation of succession!

2. You have to define what you mean by succession vs inheritance. In Rob’s view, succession is about investing in the energy, youth and enthusiasm of the next generation. It’s also about handing on your experience and being a mentor to the next generation. Inheritance is simply getting what’s left at the end.

3. It’s important to pass on some debt, as well as assets.

4. Make sure the kids have a business or a part of a business that they can stamp their mark on.

5. Because children work in their family businesses, there is an automatic expectation of succession. In older businesses, this expectation is probably a lot stronger, and therefore needs a lot more management.

6. If it’s important to treat all children equally, their net equity will only be equal for one day. After that day, their own business skills and external forces will change what that equity becomes. This is a fact of life. There should be no come‐back.

7. For a successful succession plan, your business needs to grow. Concentrate on improving the things that increase income. Don’t over‐capitalise. Buy more land. Spread your business.

8. Carry out your succession plan as early as you can. This gives your kids more opportunity to do something with their own equity.

9. All the young people I’ve come to know who have been given this type of help have driven their business further and better than the last generation.

 Succession is a generally complex which will be different for every business.

One measure of successful succession is that all parties are still talking to each other when it’s done.

If one or more offspring wish to farm and others don’t, it’s easier if there’s some off-farm investments for the latter. Not all farms generate enough income to enable this and many prefer to put any profit back into the farm.

Some people think it has to be equal to be fair, others are sure that fair isn’t always equal and equal isn’t always fair.

Regardless of which side you take on this, point 6 is right. Even if all are treated equally their net equity will only be equal ont he day they get it. After that it’s up to them.

* You can see more about the AgLetter and how to subscribe here.

The AgLetter is a weekly publication, which provides timely management and marketing information to sheep, beef and deer farmers throughout the country. Established in 1986, the AgLetter has become a valuable source of information and humour for a large number of subscribers stretching from south Auckland to Southland.

Each week, the AgLetter provides an overview of:

  • Topical management advice
  • Industry Issues
  • Store market prices
  • Export schedule price
  • Market analysis

Detailed prices on export schedules and store sales are provided.

In addition, special topics are covered each week that may range from stock trading profitability analysis, fertiliser price and product reviews, industry developments such as carbon trading, new financial instruments or drench resistance. . .

It’s well written, easy to read and informative.


Are we in denial?

April 15, 2014

Are we an nation in denial?

This is the question Sir David Skegg, president of the Royal Society of New Zealand asks:

. . . Every New Zealander knows that one of the worst threats to our natural environment is the degradation of rivers and lakes.

Some fresh waterways that were previously clean and inviting have become choked with weeds, slime and algal blooms – with adverse effects on insects, fish, and birds as well.

Two other facts are widely known. First, a major reason for the pollution of waterways is the expansion of the dairy industry.

Second, dairy products are New Zealand’s biggest source of export dollars.

Every one of us benefits from the success of the dairy industry. Without its recent expansion, our economic situation might be gloomy today.

Driving through the South Island, I have seen small towns that were dying rejuvenated by local dairy conversions. And I am conscious the sectors in which I work – health, education and research – are crucially dependent on a vibrant economy.

In November, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment issued a report in which she concludes that New Zealand faces ”a classic economy versus environment dilemma”. Jan Wright’s advice is worded diplomatically, but her message is blunt.

Unless New Zealand takes urgent steps to slow the expansion of dairying, many more rivers and lakes will be degraded. None of the steps being taken to lessen environmental impacts can reverse this trend in the near future.

This sobering conclusion emerges ineluctably from analyses linking two models – one predicting changes in land use between now and 2020, and the other predicting the amounts of unwanted nutrients (especially nitrogen) running off farms into streams and rivers.

Dairy farming has become more intensive, leading to a remarkable 60% increase in productivity per hectare over the past 20 years. This has been achieved by applying more water, more supplementary feed and more nitrogen fertiliser to the land.

While good news in terms of revenue, such intensification leads to increased run-off of pollutants into rivers. But the modelling in Dr Wright’s report shows that although intensification is an important factor in the degradation of rivers, the conversion of more and more land to dairy farms is having the greater impact nationwide.

Despite rhetoric from critics about ”dirty dairying”, many farmers have made sterling efforts to reduce the run-off of nutrients from their land. Measures taken include fencing streams and planting ”riparian strips” along river banks.

Unfortunately, such precautions have a limited effect on the seepage of nitrogen (mainly from animal urine patches) into waterways. Other measures – such as employing nitrogen fertiliser more efficiently or breeding animals that excrete less nitrogen – may eventually yield benefits.

Yet a group of experts convened by the commissioner concluded that even taking an optimistic view, plausible improvements by 2020 could at best balance the effects of likely further intensification.

They could not counteract the much greater threat from expanding the number of hectares used for dairying.

Forecasts based on modelling can never be exact, and sometimes they can be wrong. In the four months since Dr Wright’s report was released, however, I have seen no expert rebuttal of her main conclusion.

I have tried to read all the statements issued by agencies involved. That has been a depressing task, because so many have ducked the key point. Consider a couple of examples.

DairyNZ assured citizens that it is ”working with farmers, regional councils and other stakeholders to contribute to desired water outcomes”. IrrigationNZ rubbished the report and thought ”a far more useful question to be tackled is how we grow farming whilst at the same time improve water quality”.

Two of the most cautious and realistic responses were from Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

The Minister for the Environment was less troubled. While acknowledging the need for more work, she was ”confident that with the combined will of our council, communities, iwi, and water users – and with the support of our science community – we will see significant water quality gains within a generation”.

Scientific research certainly has a role to play, but unfortunately investment in this area has been ramped up only recently and is still modest in comparison with the size of the industry.

There is an urgent need to build scientific capability, and I hope the proposed National Science Challenge (”Our Land and Water”) will help to achieve this. We need to be realistic about what can be delivered in a short period: Dr Wright’s experts did not envisage any breakthroughs that could improve things materially by 2020.

The Government has targets that appear mutually contradictory. One target is to double the value of agricultural exports by 2025. As part of this effort, irrigation schemes are being funded to expand the areas suitable for dairying.

On the other hand, the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management requires that the overall quality of fresh water within each region must be maintained or improved. In the light of Dr Wright’s report, can anyone explain how these aims could be reconciled?

We face urgent and difficult choices. If we want to restrict the expansion of dairying in vulnerable river catchments, are we prepared to contemplate a less buoyant economy – at least in the short term?

If we do not limit the expansion, what will be the impact on our second major export earner (tourism) as well as on our quality of life?

How could restrictions be implemented in a way that is equitable for farmers and regions? But before it’s too late, let’s stop pretending that we can have our cake and eat it too.

Sir David has very clearly outlined the issues, acknowledging both the need for clean water and economic growth.

There are already restrictions on dairying in some places.

There is also far more effort going into cleaning up waterways that have been degraded and in maintaining and improving on those with higher quality.

And there is a pressing need for more science capability and for new technology such as the system designed to eliminate waste water on farms:

A new Kiwi designed water filtration system which can eliminate waste water could save New Zealand wineries thousands of dollars annually, has significant export potential for international wine producers and is already being championed by the local dairy industry.

The new waste management process created by Scott Biotechnologies and Allan Scott winemaker Matt Elrick, is designed to rapidly filter the winery’s waste fluids allowing the clean, odourless by product to be reused as irrigation for the vines.

Elrick says the new prototype was created to deal with the Allan Scott winery’s wastewater after growing frustration with traditional wastewater disposal methods, which were expensive, created ponding and associated issues.

He says wineries throughout New Zealand have already tried and failed to come up with a better system for dealing with waste-water at peak times, but many simply revert back to the simple septic tank system.

“With a traditional tank system wastewater settles in a tank, overflows into the next tank, settles there then overflows into the next tank. This means at harvest there often isn’t enough settling time so solids and nutrients tend to jump through the systems faster than the system needs to allow it to be treated, that means you end up with a pretty bad smell,” he says.

The new system which Elrick helped design, means wastewater will now be pumped through a spin separator which uses a cannon to create a centrifugal force and allow clean water to be ejected out of the top and sludge to be forced out of the bottom.

“The clear water goes direct to a discharge tank where it is further filtered and discharged via drip irrigation line onto the vineyard. The remaining sludge waste solids goes through a series of chambers where it can be easily scattered around the vineyard to release its nutrients,” he says.

Elrick believes the technology has significant potential for both wineries and other industries which produce wastewater – including the growing dairy industry.

It is capable of rapidly processing the waste product from winery’s entire harvest without any delay or loss of production efficiency.

“Excess waste production is a huge issues for New Zealand’s horticultural and agricultural industries. In addition to making us more environmentally friendly, this cost reduction technology will also make us more competitive internationally.” says Elrick.

“Essentially we are using our winery wash-downs to create a reusable resource, which is reducing the amount of water drawn from the bore to irrigate our vineyard,” he says. . .

I don’t think we are in denial.

There should be no debate about the importance of clean water.

It’s what we drink, wash with and swim in.

But nor should there be any debate about the importance of economic growth for the social and environmental benefits it can provide.

We can’t have our cake and eat it too. But with good science and improved technology we should be able to have high environmental standards and economic growth.

 

 


Rural round-up

April 14, 2014

Challenge of creating a strong red meat sector – Allan Barber:

I am obviously not alone in trying to work out ways of creating a strong red meat sector with profits being shared equitably between the participants. But it is an elusive model which nobody has yet succeeded in identifying. It makes me wonder if it is an impossible dream, but there are a number of determined dreamers who are still intent on finding the solution.

Recently I have had an exchange of emails, not always amicable, with John McCarthy, chairman of MIE, who is committed to achieving consensus among farmers about a future industry structure which will get away from the price taker model.

He takes me to task, quite legitimately, for seeing things from the companies’ perspective which, he says, focuses on making a profit for shareholders. But this doesn’t satisfy farmers’ objectives of being sustainably profitable which is the only way a strong red meat sector will emerge. He agrees the top farmers are performing satisfactorily, but in his view these only comprise 20-25% of farmers. . .

Wool industry picks up dropped stitches - Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s wool industry is ”a wee bit broken” , Wools of New Zealand chief executive Ross Townshend says.

At an autumn roadshow in Waikouaiti, Mr Townshend spoke of his observations since starting the job in August last year.

Sixty years ago, 85% of sheep farmers’ revenue was from wool and 15% was from meat, and now it was the complete opposite. . .

Linking youth and the land – Sally Rae:

Annika Korsten is on a mission to expose disengaged Dunedin youth to rural work opportunities.

Ms Korsten, a recipient of a $100,000 World of Difference grant from the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation, is establishing a programme, on behalf of the Malcam Charitable Trust, to develop opportunities for young people aged 18 to 24 to transition to work or further rural training.

Describing herself as passionate about people, place and food and the inter-relationship between the three, she said she enjoyed facilitating networks and connecting people. . .

 

The costs of GMO labelling -Foodie Farmer:

There has been much discussion over whether or not the labeling of “GMO” foods would add to the cost of food production or not. This was one of the supporting arguments for GMO labeling at the legislative hearing at the Maryland House of Delegates Committee on Health and Government Operations during which Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Michael Hansen of the Center for Food Safety, both insisted that labeling costs would be minor at best.

So does Mother Jones

So does The Grist

Wow, do these scientists and journalists have any understanding of the food supply chain from farm gate to grocery shelf?
Apparently not, nor does anyone else who thinks that “GMO” labeling won’t increase the cost of food.
Here is my pictorial analysis of the food supply chain from my farm gate: . . .

 

What is Your Dairy farm Profit?  – Pasture to Profit:

What is dairy farm profit? Is profit a dirty word? Too few New Zealand dairy farmers know their profit? Discussion groups rarely discuss or compare profit. Few farmers financially benchmark. Why do farmers and consultants continue to use profit per hectare to compare farms?

PROFIT = GROSS FARM REVENUE – FARM OPERATING EXPENSES + NON-CASH Adjustments. Non-Cash Adjustments include changes in feed & livestock inventory, inclusion of Family labour & Management and depreciation. See NZDairybase   Why do so few NZ dairy farmers know what their profit is? Profit per hectare is not enough, although every farmer should calculate Profit/hectare.  . . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2014

Drought great time to show some compassion – James Houghton:

Another week and no drought declaration yet it is the second driest year on record in Waikato, and my has it revealed some peoples true colours! Default settings with graziers contracts are being ignored, and cooperatives are pretending there is no drought.

Farmers and graziers need to be working together through times like this. Not allowing for the affects of the drought to be considered and holding graziers to their contracts, can see them loosing money on a daily basis, trying to feed your stock. To expect a grazier to lose money to look after your stock shows no sense of community, which is what gets us through these adverse weather conditions, and could ostracise you in the long run. People do not forget unkindness. It goes both ways – if you are not showing flexibility on your grazing contracts, it could have a detrimental affect for you next time there is a drought, graziers could start charging you 10 to 50 percent more next time round.  It pays to compare that to the money you are saving in the short term, and whether it is really worth it. . .

Changing beef outlook - Allan Barber:

There have been some interesting beef market developments in recent days.

 Of immediate interest is the news of a forecast excess of US exports over production in the second half of the year as against a relatively small increase in production, reported in the USDA livestock supply and demand report which was released yesterday.

 This leads to a prediction of firmer prices for lean beef, although this will coincide with the seasonal downturn in New Zealand production. Australia is expected to be in a good position to take advantage of this situation.

 The other item of interest is the bi-lateral trade agreement between Japan and Australia which will reduce the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5% to 19.5% over 18 years and on fresh beef to 23.5% over 15 years. . .

Dairy Pawn – Milk Maid Marian:

These days, I feel a little like a chess piece; more pawn than queen.

The Australian federal government has rushed into a free trade agreement with Japan that does next-to-nothing to help Aussie dairy break through tariff barriers, even though Japan is hardly known for a growing dairy industry of its own that deserves protection. I don’t know why we were overlooked but a Sydney Morning Herald story quotes Warren Truss as citing “compromises”.

It’s been an interesting few days for dairy. Coincidentally, the ACCC forced supermarket superpower, Coles, to confess that it was lying when it claimed the $1 milk had not hurt dairy farmers. . .

Farmers back major Local Government NZ funding review:

Federated Farmers is fully behind a fundamental review by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) into the way local government and local roads are funded.

“LGNZ deserves praise for tackling a ticking time bomb made up of demographics and an ever narrowing funding base for council services and our local roads,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government spokesperson.

“This affects everyone but it is especially pronounced in our rural districts.

“Federated Farmers is very keen to participate in this review because for years, we have lobbied for alternative funding options over the antiquated narrow property value basis, we use for rating.

“LGNZ’s review is the biggest advance since the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry, which emerged from public unease over the rates burden. . .

Meat and fibre’s going green - Jeanette Maxwell :

I have been told by a staff member that a major retirement village operator has specified only nylon carpet for its villages. I don’t want to reveal the name just yet as we will be contacting them, let alone the Campaign for Wool, but it dumbfounds me. 

If it is what I suspect, a spurious concern over linting, then that’s a specification issue.  It seems very strange to deny people the choice of healthy natural fibres especially in a retirement village because natural wool is good for you.

A big benefit of wool is outstanding flame resistance.  Having a high moisture and protein content it tends to extinguish flames and does not melt or drip either like synthetics.  Wool also stabilises relative humidity by absorbing or releasing moisture during periods of high or low atmospheric humidity. That’s a benefit from evolution.

If wool is maintained then it will absorb and neutralise airborne particles and fumes such as formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides.  Wool is also resistant to static build up and being naturally curly, bounces back into shape after being crushed.   . . .

Awards spur on young dairy trainee  – Gerald Piddock:

Entering the Dairy Industry Awards has helped motivate Nathan Hubbard to focus on how he can improve his performance and progress his dairying career.

The 26-year-old, who was recently named Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year for 2014 said he entered the competition to show future employers his dedication to the industry.

“I want to challenge my knowledge against others at the same level that are motivated and thriving to succeed like I am.”

It was the second time he had entered the awards. After not making the top six on the first occasion, Hubbard said he was determined to do better this year. . .

‘Expensive brand beats expensive land’ - Tim Cronsahw:

Dairy farmers need to demand that dairy giant Fonterra invests heavily in brand development if increasing costs are to be offset by high-priced milk products, says a food marketing expert.

Global food and drink industry international speaker Professor David Hughes said New Zealand’s dairy companies had to spend more on developing patented clever dairy brands as domestic milk growth could not continue at its same rate forever.

“If you want to see Fonterra and smaller companies have higher valued products, they have to spend more on branding and research and development, and to do that has to be through brave farmer leadership saying hold on to more [revenue] and invest it on our behalf for our longer term, and don’t send it back to the farm and there would lots of farmers who don’t agree with that,” said Hughes who spoke at the Zoetis Dairy Summit in Christchurch this week. . .

Millar, Clark lead charge for dog trialling glory - Tim Cronshaw:

Every dog has its day, but only a select few will make the final cut at the Tux New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championship trials at Waihi Station near Geraldine next month.

As many as 300 competitors and their canine partners will line up for each of the four main national events in the main feature of the dog trialling calendar. The heading events are the long head and short head and yard and the huntaway events are the zigzag hunt and the straight hunt.

In good form is Stu Millar from Peak Hill Station who, with dog Rose, is the defending champion of the national short head and yard event in Taupo last year.

Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association promotions officer Sally Mallinson said the club trials had yet to be completed, but several Canterbury competitors and their dogs were standing out as possible contenders at the South Island and national events. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2014

Drought causing problems in Rawene – Sophie Lowery:

The top of the North Island has been given a good dousing of rain today, but the region that desperately needs it received just a thimbleful.

Rawene, on the Hokianga Harbour, is just days away from running out of water and there are serious concerns for the local hospital.

The tiny Petaka Stream is the only water supply for the 250 residents of Rawene and it is almost dry.

“The situation in Rawene is critical. We are urging residents wherever they can to minimise their use of water to the essential uses only before we have to impose any more austere methods,” says the Far North District Council’s Tony Smith. . .

Exports to the motherland - Keith Woodford:

 There was a time when New Zealand’s exports went almost exclusively to Britain. Before and during the Second World War, and for many years thereafter, New Zealand was Britain’s farm. It was only in 1973 when Britain joined the EU, which itself had food surpluses, that we had to search for alternative markets.

Now, some forty years later, the only two major products exported to Britain are sheep meat and wine. Britain takes about 20% of New Zealand’s sheep meat exports and is the second most important sheep meat market after China. For wine, Britain also takes about 20% of New Zealand’s exports and is the third most important market after Australia and the USA. Minor export products include apples at about 10% of total apple exports. For wool, about 5% reaches the shores of the UK. Overall, only 3% of New Zealand’s exports are destined for Britain. . .

Minister welcomes Manawatu River clean-up progress:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has welcomed a new report on cleaning-up the Manawatu River, saying it shows that progress can be made even on the most difficult environmental problems when communities work together.

“It is still early days as far as the time frames for cleaning up polluted water ways are concerned, but I am pleased to see the Manawatu Leaders Accord reporting overall improving trends in nutrient levels and levels of bacteria in the Manawatu River,” Ms Adams says.

“The Government regards its $5.2 million investment in cleaning up this river as well worthwhile. By working together, we can achieve far more than leaving it to one group or organisation. . .

LIC scientists discover ‘fat gene’ in cows:

LIC scientists have discovered genetic variations which affect milk composition in dairy cows.

All cows have the ‘fat gene’, named AGPAT6, but LIC senior scientist Dr Matt Littlejohn said the variations they’ve discovered provide a genetic explanation for why some cows produce higher fat content in their milk than others.

“If you think of milk production in the cow’s udder as a factory assembly line, this variation is one of a few workers in the ‘fat chain’, with that worker being very efficient in some cows, and a bit lazy in others,” he said.

“The finding of AGPAT6 helps us to better understand what goes on in a cow’s mammary gland and how milk composition is regulated by genes.” . .

Pukekawa grower named New Zealand’s best young vege grower:

Brett Parker was crowned the New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2014, beating six other competitors, at the national competition on April 10.

Held in Pukekohe, the day-long event saw seven contestants go head-to-head in a series of theoretical and practical challenges needed to run a successful vegetable growing business.

Parker, 26, works at Hinemoa Quality Producers in Pukekawa as an assistant crop manager, and won $2500.

Of that $1000 will be used for professional development.    . . .

Diverse Farming Business Scores Supreme Double in Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kaiwera farmers Andrew and Heather Tripp, Nithdale Station Ltd, have won the Supreme title in the Southland Ballance Farm Awards for the second time.

The Tripps were announced Supreme winners of the 2014 Southland Ballance Farm Awards (BFEA) at a special ceremony on April 10. They also collected the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award, the LIC Dairy Farm Award and the Alliance Quality Livestock Award.

Since first winning the Supreme title in the inaugural Southland BFEA in 2002, the Tripps have added a dairy farm to their diverse farming operation based on historic Nithdale Station, south east of Gore. . .

Support to build winter feed with urea price drop:

As the dry summer conditions ease, a drop in urea prices by Ballance Agri-Nutrients will be welcomed by farmers looking to build up feed reserves to meet stock requirements over winter and early spring.

Ballance dropped the price of urea from $695 to $645 and SustaiN from $751 to $697 yesterday on the back of a slump in global prices for urea.

Ballance General Manager of Sales, Andrew Reid, says that the imbalance between supply and demand that put upward pressure on urea prices earlier this year has now reversed.

“Currently global supply is exceeding demand, which has resulted in international prices easing,” said Mr Reid. . .


April 12 in history

April 12, 2014

467  Anthemius was elevated to Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

1204 Constantinople fell to the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade, temporarily ending the Byzantine Empire.

1557 Cuenca was founded in Ecuador.

1606  The Union Flag was adopted as the flag of Great Britain.

1633 The formal inquest of Galileo Galilei by the Inquisition began.

1776 American Revolution: With the Halifax Resolves, the North Carolina Provincial Congress authorised its Congressional delegation to vote for independence from Britain.

1820 Alexander Ypsilantis was declared leader of Filiki Eteria, a secret organization to overthrow Ottoman rule over Greece.

1861 American Civil War The war began with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

1864  American Civil War: The Fort Pillow massacre: Confederate forces killed most African American soldiers who surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

1877  The United Kingdom annexed the Transvaal.

1902 – A train accident in South Africa killed 16 NZ soldiers.

1913 HMS New Zealand began a tour of New Zealand.

HMS New Zealand begins tour of NZ

1917 World War I: Canadian forces successfully complete the taking of Vimy Ridge from the Germans.

1919 Billy Vaughn, American musician and bandleader, was born  (d. 1991).

1927 April 12 Incident: Chiang Kai-shek ordered the CPC members executed in Shanghai, ending the First United Front.

1932  Tiny Tim, American musician, was born (d. 1996).

1934 The strongest surface wind gust in the world at 231 mph, was measured on the summit of Mount Washington, USA.

1934 The US Auto-Lite Strike began, culminating in a five-day melee between Ohio National Guard troops and 6,000 strikers and picketers.

1935  First flight of the Bristol Blenheim.

1937 Sir Frank Whittle ground-tested the first jet engine designed to power an aircraft at Rugby, England.

1939 Alan Ayckbourn, English writer, was born.

1942 Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, was born.

1945 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt died while in office; vice-president Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President.

1947 Tom Clancy, American author, was born.

1947 David Letterman, American talk show host, was born.

1949 Scott Turow, American writer, was born.

1950 David Cassidy, American singer and actor, was born.

1955 The polio vaccine, developed by Dr Jonas Salk, was declared safe and effective.

1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space in Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1).

1963 The Soviet nuclear powered submarine K-33 collided with the Finnish merchant vessel M/S Finnclipper in the Danish straits.

1968 Nerve gas accident at Skull Valley, Utah.

1978 Guy Berryman, British musician (Coldplay), was born.

1980 Brian McFadden, Irish Singer (Westlife) was born.

1980  Samuel Doe took control of Liberia in a coup d’état, ending over 130 years of national democratic presidential succession.

1980 – Terry Fox began his “Marathon of Hope” at St. John’s, Newfoundland.

1981 The first launch of a Space Shuttle: Columbia launched on the STS-1 mission.

1990 Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs exhibition opened at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

1992 The Euro Disney Resort officially opened with its theme park Euro Disneyland.

1994 Canter & Siegel posted the first commercial mass Usenet spam.

1998 An earthquake in Slovenia, measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale occured near the town of Bovec.

1999 US President Bill Clinton was cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit.

2002 Pedro Carmona became interim President of Venezuela during the military coup against Hugo Chávez.

2002 – A female suicide bomber detonated at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda open-air market, killing 7 and wounding 104.

2007 A suicide bomber penetrated the Green Zone and detonated in a cafeteria within a parliament building, killing Iraqi MP Mohammed Awad and wounding more than twenty other people.

2010 – A train derailed near Merano, Italy, after running into a landslide, causing nine deaths and injuring 28 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Rural round-up

April 11, 2014

Farmers back irrigation feasibility study:

A planned large-scale irrigation scheme in South Canterbury has got enough farmer backing for it to carry out an in depth feasibility study.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme, which could irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of land from Waitaki to just south of Timaru, also has significant financial backing from the Government.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser says they’ve been going through a capital raising process over the last several weeks – and have managed to get over the threshold of 20,000 hectares of farmer uptake.

“This funding will enable us to do a feasibility study and so that will tell us whether the scheme is economically and technically viable so we hope to have that result back out to the shareholders and farmers by the end of the year.”

Mr Fraser says the capital raising period has been extended as the scheme gauges corporate interest and speaks to more farmers in the area. . .

Winners committed to pushing farming change - Gerald Piddock:

Mike and Sharon Barton’s innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned them the supreme title in the 2014 Waikato Farm Environment Awards.

The Western Taupo beef farmers were presented with the award as well as category awards for soil management and innovation at a ceremony near Karapiro last night.

The Barton’s farm at Glen Emmreth Farm near Tihoi. They purchased the 142ha property in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming.

They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible. . .

Farmers warned to tidy up act:

Federated Farmers is warning farmers not to risk making the dairy industry a scapegoat at this year’s general election through poor farm practices.

In a message to farmers, dairy chairman Willy Leferink said he was worried they could be negatively portrayed during the election campaign and they needed to do the basics properly to avoid bad publicity.

Visual aspects of the industry needing to be tidied up, and that could help create a better public image, Mr Leferink said. . .

Call for better health and safety on farms after death -  Collette Devlin:

Farming is a hazardous occupation and the number of injuries and deaths on Southland farms must come down, industry insiders say.

They are calling for better health and safety awareness on farms.

The issue has been put in the spotlight by the tragic death of fertiliser truck driver Les Cain, killed when the truck he was driving overturned on a northern Southland farm on Tuesday.

Southland Federated Farmers president Russell MacPherson said one farm death was one too many.

The old attitude of ‘she’ll be right’ needed to disappear from the industry. . .

Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year – Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – RivettingKateTaylor:

Well done to Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year.

I’ve just been writing about Hugh lately as I am doing the Nuffield NZ newsletter and he has just retired after 12 years as a trustee (we also went through Young Farmers together, although I hasten to add he is older than me!!!  Hugh, Shane Tilson and I won a national debating final in 1995!)

So last night (back to the important news) they were awarded the prestigious Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title in front of 350 people at a dinner at Showgrounds Hawke’s Bay (well done on great night Hillary). . .

D2S ‘growing at a rate of knots’:

Wool growers have rallied behind Wools of New Zealand’s Direct-to-Scour (D2S) spot market sales option.

Launched in October last year, volumes under D2S are doubling month on month and have now reached around 350,000 kgs, with annualised volumes expected to reach between 3.5m – 4m kilograms within its first year, about 8% of the market.

Ross Townshend, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand told shareholder growers and supporters during the company’s roadshow series of 12 national meetings this week that the system was “simpler and put more money into the pockets of growers than the conventional model. It makes logical sense for growers’ wool to go to the first point of processing which is the scour where it can be core-sampled, independently tested, objectively assessed and fairly priced. . . .

Wool Market Defies Dollar:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that despite a resurgent New Zealand dollar the South Island offering of 11,500 bales saw most types range from firm to 3 percent dearer. Even with the strength of the sale and an 86 percent clearance, some growers were still unprepared to accept current market levels with 13 percent of the offering being passed in.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 1.36 percent up on the last sale on 3rd April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears were between 1 and 3 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

April 10, 2014

Personal tragedy drives ‘worker representative’ on ACC forestry sector injury prevention committee:

ACC announced today that following a nationwide ballot of forestry workers, Wiremu Edmonds and Neil Thomas will be the worker representatives on its new injury prevention programme, aimed at encouraging safer practices in the forestry sector.

Both are experienced forestry workers and passionate, experienced health and safety advocates – and in Wiremu’s case, his passion is strengthened by the personal tragedy of having lost a son to the industry.
The ‘ACC Forestry Sector Injury Prevention Programme’ is being developed and implemented in collaboration with WorkSafe NZ, the NZ Forest Owners Association (FOA), the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU). . .

Aquaduct NZ wins IrrigationNZ Innovation Award:

Aquaduct NZ and its entrepreneurial founder Gerard van den Bosch took out the highly-sought-after 2014 IrrigationNZ Innovation Award at its biennial conference in Napier last night.

Aquaduct’s entry (alongside associate company Bosch Irrigation Ltd) included its ground-breaking solution for the manufacture of irrigation pipe for Valetta Irrigation Scheme’s new 84km underground pipe network.

A factory to produce pipe on-site was created in a paddock within the scheme’s boundaries slashing welding requirements by 80% and reducing installation time and costs. The company supplied over 80km of pipe in sizes from 1.6m diameter to 200mm – in lengths up to 250 metres. The factory is New Zealand’s largest capacity plant pumping out 5800 tonnes of pipe in 60 days. . . .

Irrigation champions share 2014 Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

For the first time ever, IrrigationNZ has awarded its Ron Cocks Memorial Award to two individuals at its national conference.

Retired MAF Policy Manager Grant McFadden and farm business consultant and rural valuer Bob Engelbrecht were jointly awarded the prestigious title at last night’s IrrigationNZ conference dinner in Napier.

McFadden from Christchurch and Ashburton-based Engelbrecht have together more than a century of involvement in advocating for agriculture and irrigation interests, said IrrigationNZ chairman John Donkers who presented the awards.

Grant McFadden began his career as a farm advisor with MAF in the mid 1960s and was a key support for farmers in the Lower Waitaki as they initiated their irrigation scheme in the 1970s. From the early 80s, McFadden worked with farmers going through deregulation and drought experiences and later moved into MAF Policy “as I realised there were opportunities in the policy area to make a real difference to people.” . . .

Minister welcomes first investment by Crown Irrigation company:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the first investment by Crown Irrigation Investment Ltd, with draft terms agreed for $6.5 million towards the Central Plains Water scheme in Canterbury announced today.

“Last year the Government put $80 million towards creating Crown Irrigation as an independent investor to help kick-start regional water infrastructure projects.

“It’s great to see the first investment decision made. Central Plains Water will help irrigate around 60,000 hectares of land on the Canterbury plains once all three stages are complete, giving a real boost to the region’s economy.

“Without this funding, it’s unlikely the scheme would be developed to the size and scale required. . . .

Proactive Mindset Helps Tihoi Farmers Win Supreme in 2014 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A unique and innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned Tihoi beef farmers Mike and Sharon Barton the Supreme title in the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 8, the Bartons, who farm 142ha Glen Emmreth Farm on the western side of Lake Taupo, were also presented with the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award.

Mike and Sharon bought the Tihoi farm in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming. They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible.

BFEA judges said the business “has been built from its inception with the understanding that it must be made environmentally sustainable in an extremely difficult location”. . . .

Busy winter ahead for contestant - Sally Rae:

Winter is shaping up to be a memorable season for Glenham farmer Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (28), a member of the Wyndham Young Farmers Club, is Otago-Southland’s representative in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Christchurch on July 3-5.

He and his wife Sarah are also expecting the arrival of their first child on June 18.

”It’s just going to be busy enough this winter,” he quipped. . . .

Central Otago wineries “delighted” to showcase the region’s wines to Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

Central Otago wineries are gearing up for what could be the most important wine tasting of the century ahead of the Duke and Duchess’s visit to Queenstown this Sunday April 13.

A handful of local wineries and staff have been selected to present their Central Otago wines to the young Royals at a private wine and food event to be held at host winery Amisfield.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey is the lucky man who will escort the Duke through the tasting, while Central Otago Pinot Noir Chairwoman Lucie Lawrence will accompany the Duchess. . .

Final call for applications – leading farm business management program:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, Australasia’s leading agricultural business management course for the next generation of farm leaders.

Now in its ninth year, the prestigious Rabobank program offers young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia, and a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple says the Farm Managers Program is constantly evolving to reflect the changing challenges and opportunities in agriculture.  . . .

Steer and dog BFFs – Thomas Mead:

They’re usually each other’s worst enemy, but down south in Ranfurly a farm dog and steer have found a forbidden love.

Scotty, a jersey cross steer, and Bo, a purebred kelpie, have been inseparable after meeting on the job late last year. The unlikely duo often sneak away to play together, wrestling, licking and jumping around the farm.

Owner Jan MacKenzie says they’d spend all day together if they could.

“[Bo's] not allowed to be out there by himself – he does sneak over the fence when no one’s looking,” she says.

“He tries to play with everybody but they’re cows and he’s a dog. Everybody else, [except Scotty], understands it’s meant to work that way.”

But Bo, who is a working farm dog, knows the difference between work and play. . .


Foreign investment welcomed

April 10, 2014

Foreign investment gets negative press but this story shows the positive side:

The potential investment in a Central Otago vineyard by a global luxury goods group is ”ecstatically good news” for the region, a wine industry leader says.

Subject to gaining Overseas Investment Office approval, the 23ha Northburn Station vineyard at Cromwell and The Shed cellar door and function centre on the same site will be sold to Cloudy Bay Vineyards.

”I think this is a real coup for Central Otago wines for a major player like this, a global luxury brand, to be putting a stake in the ground,” Northburn owner Tom Pinckney said yesterday. . .

He and wife Jan bought Northburn Station, northeast of Cromwell, in 1993 and run sheep and cattle on the 13,000ha property.

They diversified into grapes in 1999 and opened The Shed on the property in 2008.

They would remain on the farm and the sale of the vineyard and function centre was good timing, he said. It would give him more time with his young family and to explore new projects ”which I’m keeping under my hat for now”.

As well as focusing on the farm, he would continue to grow the Northburn 100-mile mountain run, launched four years ago, which attracted endurance athletes from around the world. ”We won’t be getting out of wine altogether, though. We’ll remain the most important part of the wine industry – consumers.” . . .

Those opposing foreign investment often overlook that the vendors can use the money for other projects.

Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association president James Dicey, of Bannockburn, said the conditional sale was ”ecstatically good news”.

”To have Cloudy Bay in the region is a wonderful endorsement of what this area’s wine industry has achieved and continues to achieve and the profile we’ve generated,” Mr Dicey said.

The deal would have ”fantastic” spin-offs for Central Otago winegrowers.

”It will mean our wine, Central Otago wine, will get in front of a lot more consumers from all around the world, because of the iconic brands involved, and pinot noir drinkers are inquisitive and will want to know more about the area.

”It will do a power of good for Central Otago and develop new markets and contacts that would have taken us years to reach.” . . .

The Pinckneys were finalists in the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards last year and won the Donaghy’s Farm Stewardship Award.

If this sale goes through it will benefit the vendors, Central Otago wine in general and the wider economy.


SMART Irrigation launched

April 10, 2014

Irrigation New Zealand has launched a framework called SMART Irrigation to ensure that future irrigation in New Zealand is implemented and managed sustainably.

The SMART (Sustainably Managed, Accountable, Responsible and Trusted) framework provides three simple steps for irrigators to better manage their environmental footprint.

(1) Design future irrigation systems to industry standards and codes of practice

(2) Annually check the irrigation system is performing as it should

(3) Justify the reason for applying irrigation.

Central to all the above is record keeping – providing evidence the three simple steps are being achieved.

Irrigation New Zealand CEO Andrew Curtis says the SMART framework will help irrigators meet the public’s expectations around environmental responsibility, and will provide assurance to the public that irrigating farmers are using water efficiently and with care.

“The SMART framework is about providing a benchmark for sustainable irrigation, and is a way for irrigators to share with the community how they irrigate. It’s about being transparent.”

The programme focuses on efficient water use and regular auditing and technological improvements. This is to be supported by ever evolving education and training resources and accreditation programmes all provided by Irrigation New Zealand.

The SMART Irrigation website (www.smartirrigation.co.nz) also launched today, compliments the SMART Irrigation framework. It provides information to the public about how irrigation in New Zealand works: why, how and where irrigation takes place; why it is beneficial; what regulations and policies oversee it; more details on the SMART framework and examples of SMART Irrigators that will be added to monthly.

“We have done nationwide polling to understand what the public thinks of irrigation – two responses were overwhelming in their majority: that New Zealanders (71%) are pro-sustainable irrigation and that the public needs more information about irrigation. The SMART Irrigation website and framework responds to this.”

The website answers several questions:

What is irrigation?

What is SMART irrigation?

Why is it good for New Zealand?

Who’s doing it well?

The last one includes NOIC – the North Otago Irrigation Company which was the first irrigation company to:

  • Introduce the Audited Farm Environment Plan system
  • Have a full time environmental manager on staff
  • Actively supports other irrigation schemes, providing advice on how to develop robust management systems
  • Won Irrigation New Zealand’s Innovation in Irrigation Award’ 2012 for their Farm Environment Plan programme

SMART Irrigation is a smart initiative.

Irrigation done well has intergenerational economic, environmental and social benefits.


Rural round-up

April 9, 2014

North Island drought ‘worse than last year’:

Drought conditions are “worse than last year”, according to some North Island farmers.

Farmers across the North Island are desperate for rain after months of dry, windy weather, despite the Government saying the problem isn’t widespread enough for a drought to be declared, says forecaster WeatherWatch.

Some have had very little rain since the end of last year.

King Country farmer Dick Lancaster says conditions near Taumarunui are worse than last year’s drought.

“Natural stock water has dried up and northern-facing hills are becoming dusty and lifeless.” . . .

Blue Sky Meats strengthens Chinese ties after exporter pays premium for 11% of company  – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats has strengthened ties with China, its largest market by volume and value, after two Auckland-based businessmen paid a premium for 11 percent of the unprofitable meat processor.

Cook Huang and Qiang Zheng acquired the Blue Sky holding from Danish casings company DAT-Schaub Group for $2.33 million, or $1.80 a share in an off market share transfer, according to a Blue Sky statement to the Unlisted platform. Their investment vehicle, Blue Star Corp, is now the third-largest shareholder of Blue Sky. Its shares last traded at $1.10.

Huang exports New Zealand red meat, spring water, juice and chocolate to China through a separate company he set up in September, Everlast International, and with his business partner Zheng, he had been looking for a suitable investment.

Blue Sky had a good management team and produced quality meat and “we want to share” in its growth, he said. He expects it to make “good profits” in 2014. Huang also operates an immigration consultancy in Auckland called Everlast Consultancy. . .

Consent for new dryer welcomed:

Westland Milk Products welcomes the approval of its land-use consent application to the Westland District Council for a new dairy nutritionals dryer on its Hokitika site.

Subject to there being no appeals over the next 15 working days, Westland expects work on the $102 million project to commence almost immediately.

General Manager Operations Bernard May says Westland is pleased that the conditions imposed by the commissioner who heard the application are within the scope expected by Westland and, indeed, several are conditions the company itself suggested as part of its efforts to work with potential objectors to address their concerns. . .

Fonterra appoints interim MD International Farming Ventures:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the interim appointment of Henk Bles to the newly-created role of Managing Director International Farming Ventures.

Mr Bles has held leadership roles in the international dairy farming industry for more than 30 years, in dairy cattle, genetics and dairy development.

Henk is also a proven entrepreneur, who has established his own businesses: Bles Dairies Livestock BV; Bles Dairies Genetics / Eurostar Genes; and dairy development company The Friesian.  He also holds an advisory position with Semex Global and is a board member for the Dutch Cattle Association. . .

Farm company fined over tractor death:

Waikato company, Sundale Farms Limited, has been fined $25,400 over the death of a worker killed by a runaway remote controlled tractor.

Gursharan Singh was on his second day on the job harvesting broccoli in March last year when he was pulled under the wheels of a tractor at Sundale Farm’s Pukekawa farm.

Mr Singh was attempting to reach the tractor’s controls after it had accelerated unexpectedly from its normal speed of 0.3 kilometres an hour to 6.7 kilometres an hour. He was caught by the left hand rear wheel of the tractor and pulled to the ground and run over.

The tractor, which was towing a trailer for the loading of broccoli, was operated via a remote control system so that a driver was not required to sit at the controls. . .

NZ dairy awards finalists confirmed:

The search for the best in New Zealand’s dairy industry has been narrowed down to 33 finalists across three categories.

National awards convener Chris Keeping said many finalists were relatively new to the industry, having changed careers, and were tapping into the resources and knowledge available to boost their farm businesses and make rapid progress in the industry.

“Entering the dairy industry awards is one way they have identified they can improve their knowledge and skills, meet rural professionals and other like-minded farmers, lift their confidence, have some fun and enhance their reputation,” she said.

Award categories are sharemilker-equity farmer of the year, farm manager and dairy trainee.     . .

Generosity impresses dairy industry trainee:

The willingness of farmers to share their knowledge is one of the reasons a young Taranaki award-winner loves the dairy industry.

Ben Frost, who won the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year title, works on the 130ha Upper Glenn Rd farm of James Murphy, near Kapuni.

Murphy, who won the 2007 Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year title with sister and brother-in-law Catherine and Chris Cook, said he was proud of Frost’s achievements and believed the 21-year-old’s attitude and willingness to learn gave him a big future in the dairy industry.

Frost, who loves farming and being in the outdoors, is progressing to a farm manager’s position in June on Murphy’s 450-cow split calving farm where he is currently second in charge and in the midst of calving 200 cows. . .

Ambitious new PGP programme for avocado industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an ambitious new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme for the avocado industry, which aims to triple productivity and quadruple returns by 2023.

‘Go Global’ is an $8.56 million programme, with $4.28 million coming from the Government via PGP funding. It will be a five year partnership between the Avocado Industry Council and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“This is the first PGP programme involving the horticultural industry and will help the industry work together to capitalise on the growing demand here and overseas.

“Australia is currently the biggest market for New Zealand avocado, but this project will help expansion into Asian countries where there is major potential. . .

New Zealand Avocados set to “Go Global” with New Government Partnership:

The Avocado Industry Council announced today it will partner with the Ministry for Primary Industries in a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme called Go Global— a five year programme to increase the productivity and capability within the avocado industry to deliver significant additional returns for New Zealand.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive Officer of Avocado Industry Council, says it is a landmark development for the avocado industry that will increase sales to more than a quarter of a billion dollars by 2023.

“This PGP programme will create significant value across the industry, helping position New Zealand’s avocado industry to capitalise on the growing demand domestically and in Asia, for premium, safe, and healthy produce. Part of this will involve developing a New Zealand avocado story to highlight the health and versatility of our avocados,” says Scoular. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 8, 2014

A taste of Waitaki -  Pam Jones:

Pam Jones travels a create-your-own wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley and gives the region top marks.

There is no formal wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley but it is not hard to create your own.

Take a trip from Omarama to Kurow and back to Oamaru and you will discover pinot noirs and aromatics that knock your socks off with their flavours and minerality.

Then add some gourmet treats or rustic farmers’ fare on the side.

It is a recipe for a wonderful day of wining and dining, or stay the night at places along the way to turn it into a multiday sojourn.

We start our loop at the Ladybird Hill Cafe, Restaurant and Winery in Omarama, tucked to the side at the southern entrance of the busy crossroads town. . .

Edendale Nursery sold to large forestry biotech – Sally Rae:

Forestry biotech company ArborGen has expanded its stable of nurseries with the acquisition of Edendale Nursery in Southland.

ArborGen, in which NZX-listed Rubicon has a 31.67% stake, is the largest supplier of seedlings in New Zealand.

It sells up to 25 million trees annually, predominantly in the North Island, and owns five production nurseries, two seed orchards, and a manufacturing facility for the production of radiata varietal seedlings. . . .

Making horseshoe among Young Farmers tasks – Sally Rae:

When Sonja Dobbie entered the North Otago district final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, she did not expect to do well.

The competition was held at Totara Estate, near Oamaru, last November and members of her Five Forks club encouraged each other to enter to ensure good representation.

But Miss Dobbie (23), a first-time entrant, finished third behind Marshall Smith (Upper Waitaki Young Farmers) and Steven Smit (Glenavy-Waimate), ensuring her a place in this month’s Aorangi regional final. . .

Sustainable, High-Performing Dairy Operation Collects Supreme Award In 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Okaihau dairy farmers Roger and Jane Hutchings are the Supreme winners of the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges described the Hutchings’ 680-cow business in the Bay Of Islands, Lodore Farm Ltd, as a very sustainable high-input system which is profitable across all aspects of the operation.

“There is a clear balance between the financial performance of the operation and the environmental and social aspects.”  . . .

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints top genetics positions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has appointed a Chairman and General Manager to run the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

Former Landcorp CEO and Massey University Chancellor Chris Kelly will chair the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Board and Graham Alder the former Genetics Business Manager of Zoetis, has been appointed General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

The appointments follow the successful vote at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting to combine the organisation’s current genetics investments. This means Sheep Improvement Ltd (the national sheep genetic dataset), the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test and Ovita, with added investment in beef genetics, come together with government funds to create the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics. . .

More success for PGP programmes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming success by three Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes this week, including an award nomination for a revolutionary seafood programme.

“The Precision Seafood Harvesting Programme has been nominated for a KiwiNet Research & Business Partnership Award. This is fitting recognition for a programme that could revolutionise the global fishing industry.

“The programme is developing new sustainable fishing technology that will allow fish to be landed on fishing boats alive, and in perfect condition, while safely releasing small fish and other species.

“The potential economic and environmental benefits of this are huge, and it’s no surprise it is attracting so much attention. This is a $52 million project with funding coming from both industry and government.” .

Another PGP programme – Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Ltd (SPATnz) – has also reached a milestone in selective breeding of greenshell mussels. . .

Telecom’s expanding mobile network connects locals in the Far North:

Locals and visitors to Houhora, Pukenui and the coastline north to Rarawa Bay may notice a boost in mobile coverage in the area, with Telecom announcing today that it has invested more than $175,000 on improved coverage to the region.

Telecom’s investment in the Houhora Central Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) site responds to the increasing demand for mobile coverage in the area and will give locals and visitors added access to voice, mobile broadband and text services over the Telecom mobile network, which has been built specifically for smart phones.

The improved mobile coverage is part of Telecom’s commitment to open up access to mobile data and applications for rural communities. . .

New Zealand seafood goes online in China promotion:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has joined forces for the first time with China’s most popular business-to-consumer online shopping platform Tmall.com, to promote New Zealand seafood in a week-long campaign.

The promotion with Tmall.com will take place between 9-15 April, allowing Chinese shoppers to buy live seafood fresh from the sea in New Zealand, then have it packaged and air freighted to Shanghai within 36 hours. Within 72 hours, the seafood orders will be delivered to Chinese consumers across the country. The New Zealand products available for sale include paua, greenshell mussels and Bluff and Pacific oysters.

The ability to sell and deliver live seafood to Chinese consumers is a significant milestone. A similar Tmall.com campaign with Alaskan seafood last year resulted in a total of 50 metric tonnes supplied to Chinese consumers. . .

The ‘B’ word – Mad Bush Farm:

Yesterday I read the forecast for Northland and I used the “B” word. It’s now Autumn, and yet again we’re in a drought. So is the Waikato and things are looking rather grim where rainfall goes. I’m letting the Toyota crew there say the “B” word on my behalf, and the rest of the rural crew out there looking up at the skies and praying it rains and soon!


GE has place in NZ

April 8, 2014

The audience at the annual Kim Hill Earth Hour debate decided there is a place for genetic engineering in New Zealand.

. . . Ninety minutes of pros, cons and broad views presented by panellists Tony Conner (AgResearch),  Robert Cruickshank (Lincoln University) and Richard Newcomb (Plant and Food Research) on one team and Christine Dann (Organics Aotearoa), Philip Gregan (NZ Winegrowers) and  Jon Hickford (Lincoln University) on the other, with close interrogation of them all by Kim Hill, was followed by 30 minutes of questions from the audience.  Chairwoman Sarah Walters, Deputy Mayor of Selwyn, then invited the audience to indicate by “noise” how they felt on the question.

Sarah ruled that the “ayes” were “slightly louder” signalling that genetic engineering should stay on New Zealand’s agenda “as a research opportunity” but with the provisos that it be well regulated, that consumers have a choice between GE and non-GE through strict labelling, and that the role of large overseas corporate organisations funding, and thereby influencing, research, be curbed. . .

Richard Newcomb added that the “GE debate has become completely intertwined with the anti-big business debate and with the notion of big business controlling food production and supply.” . . . .

He’s right – many of those opposed to GE are on the left of politics and also opposed to what they label big business.

Defending the environment, Christine Dann said she believed genetic engineering was “ecologically dangerous and too risky.”

“If everyone had their own little garden and grew their own vegetables the problem would be solved,” she said.  . .

If she is right, and I don’t think she is, Would she care that a whole lot of other problems would be created including job losses?

New Zealand is taking a very cautious approach to GE which is as it should be.

But the vehement opposition to it is based on emotion not science.

That a majority of the audience gave cautious support, albeit with provisos, to GE gives some hope that science might win.

 

 


NZ risks missing golden ag future

April 8, 2014

New Zealand risks missing ’a golden opportunity’ to grow its agricultural sector, and addressing this will require a coordinated, joint approach from across the sector, a new report on the competitiveness of New Zealand agribusiness has warned.

Agriculture in Focus 2014: Competitive Challenges, by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank, says New Zealand agribusiness is facing mounting competitive threats throughout the supply chain, which require concerted and aligned action from industry and government.

The report, which jointly examines New Zealand and Australia’s agribusiness sectors, identifies six key challenges affecting the competitiveness of the countries’ food and agribusiness industries, which are increasingly coming under threat from a growing group of highly-resourceful international competitors, including countries in South America, Eastern Europe and even Asia.

The report says the critical areas, which need to be addressed as a matter of priority are:

• rising production costs both on-farm and beyond farmgate

• international market access

• logistics infrastructure (in)efficiencies

• regulatory pressures

• capital constraints and

• product innovation and development.

A change in government would aggravate most if not all of these.

Rabobank general manager Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory Luke Chandler says “while the rising demand growth for food from Asia remains a golden opportunity, New Zealand and Australia both risk missing the boat without a more co-ordinated effort from industry and government” to address the factors which threaten to impact both countries’ future competitiveness in world export markets.

“While the competiveness of New Zealand’s food and agricultural sectors has generally compared favourably in a global context in the past, this situation is far from static,” he says.

“Many of New Zealand’s competitors in agricultural markets around the world are
investing heavily and becoming much more productive, and this is very much raising the bar for New Zealand’s agricultural industries.”

Mr Chandler says food and agriculture is becoming the subject of increased focus from governments around the world as the challenge of meeting the food needs of a growing and wealthier global population places pressure on farming enterprises.

“However, we need to realise that New Zealand is not the only agricultural exporter looking to capture this increasing demand,” he says. “Over the past decade highly-resourceful developing countries have begun to assume a greater role in the global export trade of food and agriculture products.

“The potential of countries in South America and Eastern Europe is obvious, but even some major food-importing countries and regions, such as China and the ASEAN-5 nations are playing a greater role in shaping the export landscape.”

Some of these countries don’t have our high standards for food quality and safety and environmental practices.

That means we face higher costs but also gives us a marketing opportunity.

As opportunities to boost direct on-farm cost competitiveness become harder to realise for New Zealand, the report says, the nation’s food and agribusiness sector must look to broader factors to maintain its competitive edge.

Regulatory pressures – New Zealand dairy The report notes other determinants of growth and prosperity for agriculture include the sector’s ability to deal with regulatory pressures.

As a case in point, it says, New Zealand’s dairy industry needs to increasingly deal with significantly heightened environmental regulation, both current and pending.

“New Zealand’s milk production growth is likely to be constrained over the next five years relative to the 2008 to 2013 growth period as the ability to change land use will become more difficult and expensive,” the report says.

“The future growth of the New Zealand dairy industry will party depend on how efficiently producers adapt production systems to meet heightened environmental controls. This will require even closer engagement locally with regulators and the wider community, alongside a rigorous programme of measuring, monitoring and mitigating environmental impacts.”

Capital constraints – sheepmeat

The growing need for new capital to rationalise and revitalise industry supply chains is another priority in lifting the competitiveness of New Zealand’s agricultural sector, the report says.

Ready access to efficient investment capital is critical to driving the pursuit of scale, infrastructure investment and the adoption of new technologies which act to support competitiveness across the agribusiness sector, it says.

“In recent times a lack of investment capital has been a particularly pressing issue affecting the competitiveness of the New Zealand sheepmeat sector,” Mr Chandler says.

“Investment, whether local and/or foreign, is clearly required to improve efficiencies and productivity downstream in the supply chain. With the sheep flock halving since 1990, the adjustment of both processing capacity and capability has not kept pace and is consequently impacting returns.”

With the two major meat companies being co-operatives there’s not a lot of opportunity for foreign investment.

‘Road map’ forward

Mr Chandler says that while the solution to the competitive challenges to New Zealand agriculture does not lie in any one direction, there is a ‘road map’ that can guide industries to build a more competitive and sustainable base for the sector into the future.

“While some competitive factors such as exchange rates and wage costs are beyond the sector’s control, many other issues can be successfully addressed through the concerted and coordinated action of industry and government institutions,” he says.

“There is no question that a food and agriculture sector that has better access to global markets, ready access to capital, more efficient logistics infrastructure, higher value product and processes, a highly sustainable environmental impact, and more affordable production inputs will be better placed to capture the ‘Asian dining boom’.”

Agriculture in Focus 2014: Competitive Challenges is the first in a series of reports Rabobank will release examining the issues impacting the agricultural sector along the supply chain.

The world has a growing demand for protein.

Our climate gives us a natural advantage for producing that through converting grass to milk and meat.

Other countries which have similar advantages don’t all have our stable political and economic conditions nor our high standards in production and processing.

The challenge is to make the most of these to compete on quality where we can’t compete on price.

That doesn’t mean it’s not important to also keep costs down in all areas, including those imposed on us by local and central government.

Agriculture is making a major contribution to the economic recovery. We need to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity that will ensure it continues to do that.


Rural round-up

April 7, 2014

Understanding Fonterra gets even harder – Pattrick Smellie:

Ask anyone with half an eye on the New Zealand economy what’s leading its current recovery and they’ll tell you two things.

First: the Canterbury rebuild.

And second: the extraordinary boom in both the price and volume of dairy industry exports.

The dairy boom being what it is, you’d think the country’s only multi-national company with global scale, Fonterra, would have produced a stonking half-year profit result last week.

Not so.. .

Pukeuri meatworks still waiting for China go-ahead - Daniel Birchfield:

A resolution to the ongoing certification issue surrounding Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant looks no closer to being resolved.

The plant’s certification for China was suspended by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in July, after incorrectly labelled product was shipped to China.

Alliance Group general manager of processing, Kerry Stevens, said at this stage there was “no change” to the current situation.

Stevens declined to comment on how the issue at Pukeuri was affecting Timaru’s Smithfield plant in terms of staffing. . .

Farmers walk the environmental talk – Alan Wills:

. . . In a nut shell farming has a great future in New Zealand. We have our challenges but the long term future in my opinion is better than just good.

Why? We are naturally good farmers.  We have the climate and water availability in some areas to take the vagrancies out of seasonal production.  Globally this is called the ‘pastoral sweet spot’ and there aren’t too many countries in the world in it.

We have very good infrastructure here and abroad to effectively market what we produce. We have very focused research and development supporting us to stay on the front foot.  Politically, our Westminister type democracy provides stability and stability begets confidence.  I can think of one country that is like our twin except for politics and policies that shoots its economy in the foot.  Here, nothing is going to fall over by revolution or in a coup. 

Finally, we can produce food products in particular that the rest of developing world wants.

All of these attributes are vital in any successful production and marketing process. . .

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too:

The release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report’s chapter on Australasia, reinforces science, research and water storage are fundamental to New Zealand’s adaptive response.

“The IPCC report contains both good and bad news for the New Zealand farm system and New Zealand as a whole,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President, who has recently returned from the World Farmers Organisation’s General-Assembly.

“The report predicts that New Zealand will likely become drier in the northeast of the South Island as well as the east and north of the North Island.  On the other side of the ledger, it will likely become wetter in the south of the South Island. 

“This will change pest pressure and biosecurity risks and the effectiveness of biocontrols. . .

Tikorangi dairy farm takes top Taranaki award:

A TIKORANGI dairy farming operation is the inaugural winner of the 2014 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

It was described by judges as an outstanding example of best dairying practise.

The region’s first Supreme title was presented to Gavin and Oliver Faull, Faull Farms, and their sharemilkers, Tony and Loie Penwarden, at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards ceremony on April 3. . .

Precision farmers feature of Fert and Lime Conference:

THE WORD improvisation can conjure images of ad hoc solutions and a slightly less than professional approach, but when it comes to precision agriculture, it’s not a dirty word: in fact, it’s exactly what’s needed, says one of New Zealand’s leading academics on the subject.

 Out of necessity, New Zealand farmers have become inherently good at improvising over the years and that background will stand them in good stead with the growing array of precision farming techniques becoming available, says Professor of Precision Agriculture at Massey University Ian Yule. . .

 

 

 


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