Rural round-up

August 2, 2014

Succession planning: the good, the bad and the ugly –  Olivia Garnett , Lucinda Jose , Lucie Bell , Owen Grieve , Belinda Varischetti , Joanna Prendergast and Bridget Fitzgerald:

“To me, farm succession is a dirty word,” an anonymous woman told ABC Rural.

She married into a farming family when she was very young. 

“Farm succession is something that makes me quiver when I think of it.

“To me, all it means is arguments, squabbles, bitterness, resentment.  Every time it comes up in conversation there’s always so much negativity about it.

“I don’t think my in-laws even know that there is such a thing as succession planning. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Seeks Beef Industry Ambassador:

Do you have what it takes to represent New Zealand beef on the world stage?

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is giving one young beef producer the chance to attend the Five Nations Beef Alliance conference and young leaders programme in the USA this October.

The scholarship is open to New Zealanders aged 22-32, who are working in and can demonstrate a passion for the beef industry and its future direction.

This is the fourth year Beef + Lamb New Zealand has offered the scholarship. It covers all conference-associated expenses, including airfares and accommodation. . .

 Time to Get Entries Sorted For 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Entries for the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened on August 1, 2014.

A major event on the farming calendar, the annual contest promotes sustainable land management and is facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust.

NZFE acting chairman Simon Saunders says the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards drew an excellent standard of entries and he is expecting strong interest in the 2015 competition.

He encourages farmers and horticulturists to put themselves forward for the awards or to nominate others that might benefit from being involved.

The competition is now operating in ten regions throughout the country and past-entrants have described their participation as a highly worthwhile experience. . . .

Australian company Taylors Wines takes on New Zealand

Taylors Wines is seeing early results from its investment in the New Zealand market, with a strong sales increase in the first quarter of its new distribution company.

Company Director, Asia Pacific Market Manager and third generation family member Justin Taylor says NZ has always been one of Taylor’s most important export markets and the company is delighted with its early sales success.  . .

Flavour fizzes in dairy war – Andrew Marshall:

ION’S big milk business is fast becoming a flavoured milk business as the dairy, drinks and beer giant makes determined moves to rebuild its bruised dairy sector reputation.

Yoghurt lines and specialty cheese brands such as King Island and Tasmanian Heritage are also enjoying specific attention from Lion’s dairy and drinks managing director Peter West, who has singled out 10 of the division’s 40 brands to lead the turnaround.

Export prospects are on the agenda, too, as the Japanese-owned milk business prepares to trial a partnership with Chinese distributors exporting ultra-high temperature (UHT) treated lines from November. . .

 Farmers Market NZ Award Winners:

Tasting Real New Zealand flavour at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets New Zealand (FMNZ) celebrated the real heroes and champions of regional food production at the 2014 Farmers Markets Awards in Feilding. Chefs Julie Biuso and Hester Guy tasted and tested the very best of NZ Farmers Markets showcasing local innovation and regional tastes that we are developing right here in our own backyards. Judge Hester Guy says “We found less reliance on preservatives in the bottles and more emphasis in the integrity of ingredients. The raw product is the hero and the quality and flavours of these products is paramount”. Chairperson of FMNZ – Chris Fortune commented that “the attention to quality and freshness is what makes the difference and you can find that in bucket loads at Farmers’ Markets nationwide on a weekly basis” . . .


Rural round-up

August 1, 2014

Westland forecast follows Fonterra’s suit:

The dairy cooperative, Westland Milk Products, has charted a similar course to Fonterra’s benchmark forecast released yesterday for the current 2014/15 season, by announcing a pay-out forecast of $6 to $6.40 per kilogram of Milksolids (kg/MS).

“Given Fonterra’s announcement yesterday, farmer-shareholders on the Coast appreciate this early heads-up from our co-op,” says Renee Rooney, Federated Farme0rs Dairy chairperson.

“Even better is firming confirmation of the 2013/14 final payout in the $7.50 – $7.70 kg/MS range. Of course we’ve got retentions on top but it is set to be a good payout and Westland’s supplier communication has been pretty good. . .

Heads of Agreement and Strategic Relationship formed between Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa and Lincoln University:

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa and Lincoln University today announced the signing of a Heads of Agreement and Strategic Relationship.  This relationship agreement forms the basis for partnerships across education, training, research and commercial development.  The Ngā Wairiki-Ngāti Apa people of Whangaehu, Rangitīkei and Turakina own the Rūnanga, and have interests in seeing their people developed in all levels of the primary industries.  The Rūnanga is also keen to see the general Māori population in the region given better access to primary sector training and tertiary education.

Rūnanga Chairman Pahia Turia said that “Through our Treaty settlements we have land, and we have recently established Te Hou Farms Limited Partnership which purchased the historic Flock House farms near Bulls, early in June.  We are therefore committed investors in the primary sector, and we have a real interest in seeing our own people developed and working at all levels in the primary sector on and around our investments.” . . .

The Changing Face of the Global Dairy Industry:

Standing in front of the milk powder dryer of Oceania Dairy Limited’s new factory at Glenavy, Shane Lodge has a feeling of deja vu – but with a difference.

Shane’s 30 year career in the dairy industry has seen him involved in new plant construction for Fonterra and New Zealand Dairy Limited. The difference this time, is that Oceania’s owners are Chinese and that is a reflection of the changing face of the global dairy industry. . .

How to take the anxiety out of farm succession planning:

Many farmers put succession planning into the too hard basket because of rising capital values, but it’s a crucial process that will be a lot less fraught with danger if family members are involved in the process, says Neil McAra, Crowe Horwath’s Managing Principal – Southland.

“It’s never too early to start planning for retirement and farm succession,” said Mr McAra, who noted that one key to a successful plan was distinguishing between reward for services provided by family members and the risk/reward for ownership/investment in the business.

Another key element was for the farm owners to ensure they had considered whether they would have an ongoing role in the business, and define what that role would be.
“To alleviate the possibility of things getting off track, it is important to ensure that owners adequately plan for the future of the farm and the people within it, so that all runs smoothly and they can enjoy the transition process.” . .

Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill passes third reading:

A bill to strengthen the regulation of foreign-owned commercial fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters has passed its third and final reading in Parliament today.

The Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Bill will require all foreign charter vessels to carry the New Zealand flag from 1 May 2016, and operate under full New Zealand legal jurisdiction.

“This bill will help maintain our reputation around the world. It shows that we are serious about the fair treatment of fishing crews, the safety of vessels and New Zealand’s international reputation for ethical and sustainable fishing practices,” Mr Guy says. . .

Seafood New Zealand Says Kaikoura Conservation Legislation a Community Template:

Seafood New Zealand has hailed the passage of the Kaikoura (Te Tai-o-Marokura) Marine Management Bill by Parliament today as a template for seafood and environment conservation measures throughout New Zealand.

Parliament passed the bill into law on the last day of sitting before the House rose for the election campaign.

Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says the legislation is designed to serve the long term interests of those who use and enjoy the Kaikoura coastline. . .

Rural Valuer recognised with top industry award:

QV registered Valuer David Paterson has had his outstanding service to the valuation profession recognised with the New Zealand Institute of Valuers (NZIV) Premier Award – the John M Harcourt Memorial Award.

Paterson, who has been a valuer for more than 30 years and is the National Manager of QV business, Rural Value, accepted the award in front of 300 attendees at the NZIV conference in Rotorua earlier this month.

He told the audience, “I feel honoured to receive this award, especially when you note some of the previous recipients.” . .

Aussie investors to sell their NZ vineyard investments:

The high value of the New Zealand dollar has motivated the Australian owners of several vineyards in the heart of New Zealand’s premier sauvignon blanc grape growing region to place two of their properties on the market for sale.

Both neighbouring vineyards are in the highly-fertile Waihopai Valley in Marlborough. The larger of the two vineyards is a 43 hectare holding – with almost 38 hectares planted in a mix of sauvignon blanc and pinot gris varieties. The second vineyard is a 36 hectare landholding planted in almost 24 hectares of sauvignon blanc grapes. . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 31, 2014

Vet helps sheep death probe – Rebecca Ryan:

Oamaru police want some ”definitive answers” on the cause of death of about 215 sheep in Ngapara, and will get a second opinion from a forensic vet.

Last month, about 195 sheep were killed on Peter and Janine Stackhouse’s farm, and about 20 sheep were found dead on Wendy and John Dodd’s property, about 1.5km away, the following weekend. . .

Changes to East Coast erosion grant scheme:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has announced changes to the funding programme supporting East Coast landowners with erosion issues.

“The Gisborne region has a severe erosion problem. A quarter of the land is susceptible to severe erosion, compared with only eight per cent of all land in New Zealand,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Since 1992 landowners have been able to use the funding programme to help treat soil erosion, but 60,000 hectares of eligible land remains prone to erosion across the region. It is clear landowners need a more user friendly funding programme to help them tackle this issue.”

The programme has undergone a transformation as a result of two reviews by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in 2011 and 2012, and consultation held earlier this year. . .

 

Director election for DairyNZ:

Nominations will open next month for a new farmer-elected director for DairyNZ’s board following the resignation of current board member Barbara Kuriger.

DairyNZ board chairman John Luxton says Mrs Kuriger, who is from Taranaki, is standing down from the board to dedicate herself to her new role as the National Party candidate for the Taranaki-King Country electorate in the September General Election.

“Barbara has served on dairy industry boards for 11 years and has made a significant contribution through her links with the Dairy Women’s Network. She was the first person to win the Dairy Woman of the Year title in 2012 and was a founding member of DairyNZ’s board when it was formed in 2007. She has been a passionate advocate for driving improvements in our industry’s training systems. She has also worked hard to increase understanding between urban and rural communities. . . .

Dairying’s legal footprint continues to improve:

Federated Farmers is happy to see the legal footprint of New Zealand’s dairy industry continue to improve based on figures obtained by The Dominion Post.

“We are very happy to see prosecutions heading in the right direction,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“While 21 prosecutions is 21 too many, we need to remember that there are some 12,000 dairy herds in New Zealand. In pure percentage terms it is 0.175 percent of all herds.
“It affirms our view that there is a genuine change of culture in farming. A decade ago the main topic would be stocking rates but today it is dominated by environmental factors.

“When you’ve got weather beaten dairy farmers in their late 50’s comparing notes on riparian plantings and ground sensors, you know there’s a cultural change afoot. . .

Fonterra and Abbott working together in China - Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s recent announcement that it will partner with the multinational Abbott in the development of its next hub of China dairy farms is significant on two counts. It affirms Fonterra’s previously announced intentions to press ahead with further farm hubs in China now that the second hub in Shanxi Province is under way. That means that Fonterra retains its confidence about long term prospects in China. The announcement also means that Fonterra has found a top notch partner for some of its China operations.

Fonterra is already a supplier to Abbott of base powder ingredients for its Asian infant formula factories, but the new co-investment in China heralds a much closer relationship. On the surface it looks like an ideal match.

Fonterra’s expertise lies in producing high quality milk and in the first stage processing thereof. Abbott’s expertise lies in value-added nutritional products and marketing these to health conscious consumers.  . .

New model predicts pasture response to nitrogen:

A new model that can more accurately predict pasture responses to nitrogen is now available for farmers throughout the country.

The model is the first product resulting from farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s $19.5 million, seven year Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme, jointly funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Backed by sound science and extensive research, N-Guru™ is decision support software, designed in partnership with AgResearch, to improve the efficiency of nitrogen use on New Zealand pastoral farms. . .

Future of horticulture industry looks bright as national vege champion prepares for Young Grower of the Year 2014 final:

One of New Zealand’s top young vegetable growing talents will go head-to-head next month for the title of Young Grower of the Year 2014.

Brett Parker, from Pukekohe, beat six other young vegetable growers from across the country to be crowned the Young Vegetable Grower 2014 in April.

Brett will be looking to impress judges as he goes up against three regional Young Fruit Grower finalists for the national title in the final, run by Horticulture New Zealand in Christchurch on 14 August. The three young fruit growers, from the Nelson, Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty regions will also compete for the Young Fruit Grower of the Year 2014 title, at the same time. . .


Rural round-up

July 30, 2014

Speech to Red Meat Sector conference – Nathan Guy:

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to address you all tonight.

Following some challenging years, there are strong indications of improved results for many companies in the sector this year.

This resilience is a reflection of the hard work of people throughout the red meat sector.

The meat and wool sectors make up 21 percent of total primary sector export revenue at an estimated export value of $8 billion for the year ending 30 June 2014, which is a record.

The recovery of dry stock numbers after last year’s drought and the productivity improvements need to be acknowledged.

In the face of forecast decreases in stock numbers these capabilities will be important assets for the future. . .

Growth in global milk pool ‘unusual,’ says Spierings, in cutting forecast - Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The global market for dairy products have been in the unusual situation where most producers have been lifting supply, while demand weakened in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, says Fonterra Cooperative Group chief executive Theo Spierings.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter today cut its Farmgate Milk Price forecast for the 2014/2015 year to $6 a kilogram of milk solids from a previous forecast of $7 kgMS, reflecting a slide in global dairy prices, which touched their lowest levels since December 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction. It flagged a dividend of 20 cents to 25 cents, up from last year’s 10 cent payment.

“All milk pools around the world showed significant growth – we see milk coming from everywhere,” Spierings said. “On the demand side, China is looking at pretty high inventories” although in-market sales “are still very, very strong in China.” Demand in Southeast Asia and the Middle East had dropped off faster than expected as rising prices were passed onto consumers, he said. . . .

Agri industry passion leads to new appointment – Rabobank:

With a clear passion for the agricultural industry and strong knowledge of the sector, Georgia Twomey is thrilled to be appointed as a commodity analyst in Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team.

Based in Rabobank’s Australia/New Zealand head office in Sydney, Ms Twomey will oversee sugar, cotton and wool – three key sectors for Rabobank’s business in the region.

Ms Twomey says she has always loved working in the agricultural industry, particularly being raised with a farming background, growing up in Goulburn in southern New South Wales.

“I love the agricultural industry and believe the sector really holds the key to Australia’s future economic security,” she says. . .

More emphasis on microbes required in food safety -

Current concepts regarding food safety and security may be inadequate for fully addressing what is an increasingly complex issue. That’s according to Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology, Dr Malik Hussain.

Dr Hussain has been invited as a representative of the University’s Centre for Food Research and Innovation to the Asian Food Safety and Security Association Conference to be held in Vietnam in August. He will also chair a workshop at the conference on risk assessment and management with regard to food safety.

Although the matter of food safety and security may sound simple enough, it is, in fact, a multi-dimensional and complicated issue, made all the more so from increasing pressures stemming from rapid population growth. . .

Steve Yung appointed as new Sealord CEO:

Sealord Group Ltd’s Board of Directors has appointed experienced food industry leader Steve Yung as the company’s next CEO.

Canadian born Yung has most recently been Managing Director of McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand and will take up his new role, based in Auckland on the 25th August 2014. He was a member of the global Senior Leadership Team at McCain.

Sealord Group Chairman Matanuku Mahuika said Yung has a strong set of skills that will help the company’s growth and development, particularly in the Australian market. . . .

Protecting your winter grazing business:

Both graziers and those sending animals for grazing have obligations under the NAIT programme to record the movements of animals from farm to farm. It is the grazier’s responsibility to record a NAIT movement from the grazing block to the home farm for animals that have been wintered on their property.

It’s also important that the person in charge of the animals at the receiving home farm confirm with NAIT when the cattle arrive back from grazing.

This can be done through movement related notification emails that include a direct link to the NAIT system, where animal movements can be confirmed or rejected in just a few clicks. Alternatively, you can contact NAIT on 0800 624 843. . . .

UK supermarket giant partners with New Zealand Ag-Tech company for major R&D collaboration:

British supermarket Sainsbury’s is teaming up with New Zealand’s Techion Group to run an international, cutting edge, technology project. The two-year international research & development project will roll out on-farm technology to effectively manage parasites increasing product quality and profits for farmers.

 J Sainsbury Plc, in conjunction withTechion Group Ltd, has announced Sainsbury’s will support the cost of implementing Techion’s technology, the FECPAK G2 system, both in New Zealand and the UK. The project team includes meat processors Alliance Group (NZ), Dunbia (UK) and Randall Parker Foods (UK).

Greg Mirams, Founder and Managing Director of the animal parasite diagnostics company, Techion, is at the centre of the project. He is confident it will have a significant impact on farmers’ profit and efficiency here and in the UK. . .  .


Blue better for water than Green

July 30, 2014

Green isn’t the best colour for water, Federated Farmers environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie says:

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for freshwater may not have razzmatazz, but arose from that exercise in consensual collaboration called the Land and Water Forum [LawF].  It was the first time industry, councils, government departments and groups from Federated Farmers to Fish & Game, sat down to openly address water issues and find solutions.

At the heart of the NPS are our regional councils, who have been tasked with maintaining and improving water quality while bringing the poorest water quality up to a national minimum standard.  With next to no exceptions, this policy applies to all water bodies whether they are in town or country. This was an essential part of the LawF consensus and the government chose secondary human contact as the national minimum standard.  All of New Zealand’s top water scientists were involved in this.

The Green Party claim they are advocates for the environment and I would have thought they would have welcomed this important piece of legislation; whose intent is to keep New Zealand’s fresh water as the best in the world.

Being a farmer and with so many conflicting claims about water quality you may be dubious about what I am saying.  For an objective ‘warts and all’ water picture, can I direct you to the Land and Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website at www.lawa.org.nz.  It confirms our water quality is generally good, with many rivers and streams improving thanks to farmers’ efforts at riparian protection.

What we know is that most swimming spots monitored by regional councils over the warmer months are generally satisfactory for swimming.  The Greens often claim “60 percent of our water” is unsafe, but a vast number of sites are affected by urban runoff.  

When poor water standards are mentioned too many people blame farming but some of the worst water quality is in urban areas and the result of urban activities.

Now, the Green Party wants to make all water bodies swimmable.   This is disingenuous because of the sheer difficulty and cost of achieving it.

There are 425,000 kilometres of waterways in New Zealand, which would have to meet those swimming standards, 24 hours a day and 365-days of the year. 

The LAWA website states, “rivers and streams in (or downstream of) urban areas tend to have the poorest water quality (the highest concentrations of nutrients and bacteria, and lowest macroinvertebrate community index (MCI) scores).” This is because all our urban storm water systems are designed to use urban rivers and streams to take away all this run-off.  

The Landcare Trust is running a community project to clean up some of the urban streams that flow into the Tamaki River. Regardless of that effort and enthusiasm they will never be able to stop those streams from being contaminated to the extent that they will become safe for swimming. Think of the 150-page NZ Standard for public swimming pools, “to ensure the risk to public health is minimised.”  Most small schools have had to close their swimming pools because of problems maintaining that and other standards.   Trying to apply that standard to all fresh water bodies is a nonsense. 

This is where the Green Party is disingenuous.

When they say ‘all water bodies,’ they really mean only those in the countryside because they do not wish to alarm their core urban constituency.  The Green Party ignores the huge shift in farmers’ attitude towards environmental stewardship and underplays quantum leaps in management and mitigation of farm nutrients, the fencing of waterways, riparian planting, the strategic application of fertilisers and nutrient budgeting and the effects these are having on improving water quality.  The Greens do not mention that many of the sites NIWA test for its National Rivers Network that fail swimming standards are in fact rivers and lakes affected by urban run off. Instead they continue to blame farmers.

There is still more to be done but the imposition of higher standards by regional councils and improvements in farming practices are making a positive difference in many areas.

Farmers like me acknowledge that there is a lot more work we need to do and the vast majority of us are adopting practices and spending tens of millions of dollars a year which, given time,  will sort out our contribution.  But we are not the sole cause or the sole solution.  River quality reports are already showing the benefit of a change in farmers’ attitude toward environmental stewardship, but this narrative doesn’t fit the Green’s script.

The NPS by contrast will be law.  It gives communities the power to decide how much progress needs to be made and over what timeframe. It specifically encourages communities to decide what they want for their rivers and lakes while balancing that with the costs to society and the economy. It has the fish hook that over time, all water bodies will have plans for how they will meet community aspirations, so if the students of North Dunedin decide they wish to swim in the Leith at anytime and the ratepayers of that great Southern town can afford it and are prepared to prioritise that spending over all other, then that is their choice. My guess is the cost will have that city’s burghers muttering darkly at their haggis and prevarication will win.  That’s been the case in most major urban centres. 

The NPS may not have the sexy but implausible sound bite ‘swimmable for all’ but it gives that choice to the community to decide. It is practical, pragmatic and is the law. With water we’re in this together and the NPS underscores that. 

 The idea of being able to swim in every body of water is attractive but expensive and almost certainly an impossible standard to reach everywhere.

Dairying and recent intensification is blamed for poorer water quality but dirty water isn’t new.

My father was a carpenter at what was then Waitaki freezing works at Pukeuri  more than 40 years ago. That’s when the company had to build a huge reservoir to hold water which had to be treated because the water from the Waitaki River, which supplied Oamaru and other smaller settlements, wasn’t fit to wash export meat.

We’ve come a long way since then and while dairying is blamed for the problem it’s also working hard to be part of the solution with initiatives such as Fonterra’s Grassroots Fund:

Fonterra Grass Roots Fund

For those of you in Southland, head on down to Fonterra’s Living Water programme tomorrow with the Department of Conservation which works to enhance sensitive water catchments across New Zealand! Hear our plans, suggest ideas and get involved with some future volunteer opportunities. Enjoy demonstrations by freshwater scientists, a live fish tank display of local freshwater species and a BBQ lunch. It should be a great day! Address: Craws Creek Scenic Reserve, Waituna Lagoon Road, Friday 25th 2014 from 9:30 – 12:30. Any questions, please contact livingwater@fonterra.com
Photo: For those of you in Southland, head on down to Fonterra's Living Water programme tomorrow with the Department of Conservation which works to enhance sensitive water catchments across New Zealand! Hear our plans, suggest ideas and get involved with some future volunteer opportunities. Enjoy demonstrations by freshwater scientists, a live fish tank display of local freshwater species and a BBQ lunch. It should be a great day! Address: Craws Creek Scenic Reserve, Waituna Lagoon Road, Friday 25th 2014 from 9:30 – 12:30. Any questions, please contact livingwater@fonterra.com

There is general acceptance of a need to improve water quality in many areas.

The argument is about how far improvements need to go.

National’s policy imposes a a minimum standard.

It leaves it up to communities to decide how much higher they want, and can afford, their water quality to be.

They are the ones with the most to gain from cleaner water and they are the ones who will have to pay for it.

The Green policy sets an impossibly high standard and leaves communities with no choice regardless of their wishes and priorities.

Blue is a much better colour for water than green.


Fonterra drops payout to $6

July 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

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

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

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

Overseer expands for new demands -

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

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

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

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 28, 2014

Farmers make energy and water savings – Gerard Hutching:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

European Union changes might help Kiwi cause – Nigel Stirling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paddock to plate, and smart roads possible:

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

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

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

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

Extractor hopeful over hemp uses:

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

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

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

James had heavenly help with his garden – Bridget Railton:

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

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

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

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

 


Nick’s right

July 28, 2014

Fish and Game have their lines snared over Conservation Minister Nick Smith:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has been accused of bullying Fish and Game into ending its campaign for cleaner rivers and lakes.

The minister met with the Fish and Game Council in Wellington earlier this month where he was “deeply critical” of the organisation, says an attendee, Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes.

Mr Haynes told NZ Newswire Dr Smith was “clearly displeased” about the Fish and Game’s current anti-irrigation billboard campaign calling for better water quality in the country’s lakes and rivers.

“He specifically cited those billboards as something he’s displeased with. The minister was firing a very clear warning shot across the bows of Fish and Game that ‘I don’t like that campaign, don’t be noisy and pull your necks in’.”

Mr Haynes said Dr Smith “also said we need to change the Fish and Game model. I have no idea what he meant by that… but it didn’t sound very friendly.”

Mr Haynes said he was highly insulted when Dr Smith told those present at the public meeting that the organisation “sometimes behaves like a rabid NGO, worse than Forest and Bird”. . .

Bullying is an over-used and in this case inappropriate word for what the Minister said.
If the organisation gets political, as it does, it can expect a political response.
Fish and Game does sometime behave like a rabid NGO.

The worst example in recent times was going to court against farmers and the government in an attempt to get unfettered access to farms under pastoral leases.

Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union says the Minister is right to give Fish and Game a serve:

“We agree with the Minister that the election campaigning of Fish and Game is a gross breach of faith for a statutory body.”

“If a group of fishermen want to create an offshoot of the Green Party good on them – but they should pay for campaigning out of their own pocket not use statutory powers to charge for licences to fund political lobbying.”

“Nick Smith is right to be concerned that Fish and Game use its fishing tax to fund billboards endorsing the Green Party. Until Fish and Game put an end to taxpayer funded political campaigning, it should not be entitled to receive income from compulsory fishing and hunting licenses.”

However, the Minister refutes the claims made by Haynes:

. . . “The claims about what I said at the meeting are untrue. I am releasing these hand-written notes taken at the time by the departmental official from DOC’s head office responsible for Fish & Game who was at the meeting. His account is very different from that of Mr Haines, and is an accurate account of what was discussed. The notes are exactly as they were taken down at the time before any controversy arose,” Dr Smith says.

“Mr Haines is a long-time critic of me as Conservation Minister, most recently over 1080. He is not neutral and his deliberate misrepresentation of the meeting is driven by politics and the election season. I am taking legal advice over his statements. I have been a long-term advocate for improving New Zealand’s water quality, including putting in place New Zealand’s first National Policy Statement on Freshwater, and I find his statements offensive and defamatory.”

The notes are here and what they say the Minister said looks very reasonable to me.

I’d back the Minister  and his staff’s notes over Haynes whose outburst will have done nothing to help relationships with many of those who fund his organisation.

Fish and Game is funded by a tax on fishing and hunting licences.

Many of those who pay that tax are farmers who are incensed at the organisation’s blinkered and one-sided approach to issues and what isn’t just political campaigning but partisan political campaigning.


Labour wants to meddle in meat industry

July 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 27, 2014

Changes likely in lakes camping – David Bruce:

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

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

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

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

Water deal celebrated – Sally Brooker:

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

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

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

Asian markets driving growth for NZ food & beverage exports:

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

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

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

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

Māori agribusiness showcased to international delegation:

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

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

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

Don’t write of dairying MyFarm says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I watched the Grow Movie the other night. 

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

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

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

MPI introduces new biosecurity sniffers

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

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

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

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

Brits buy record amount of NZ wine:

New Zealand premium wine sales soar in the UK market

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

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

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Welcome Boost to Horticulture Industry:

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 25, 2014

Federation wins rates remission against urban sprawl:

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

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

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

Council and farmers work together – Chris Lewis:

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

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

Focus on farm-exit water quality :

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

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

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

Gold surge tipped for Zespri - Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Perception not reality

July 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click the link to see the table)

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

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

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

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

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

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


If . ..

July 25, 2014

If Labour wants to help the regions:

Why is it against irrigation?

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

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


Rural round-up

July 24, 2014

 

 

Kiwi red meat really starting to sizzle – Graham Turley:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Speech to GIA signing with NZ Pork – Nathan Guy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

July 23, 2014

Farming family demonstrate conservation message – Ann Warnock:

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

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

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

Boost for horticulture and viticulture industry:

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

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

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

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

NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme:

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

Pork industry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

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

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

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

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

– Keith Woodford:

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

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

The truth about grassfed beef – The Food Revolution Network:

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

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

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

New Zealand Meat Exports October 2013 to June 2014:

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

[All monetary values are in New Zealand dollars.]

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


First they came for the dairy cows . . .

July 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 22, 2014

Lepto danger with flood waters:

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

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

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

Free lunch for Northland farmers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AbacusBio finalist in sheep awards – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

Decision on effluent area reserved:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


It’s red meat’s turn

July 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 21, 2014

A balanced lifestyle – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

Caution urged on intensification - Andrea Fox:

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

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

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

Skills key to future success – Andrea Fox:

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

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

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

Molesworth Station: From ruin to redemption :

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

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

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

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

Beef, lamb exports near peak – Gerard Hutching:

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

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

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

 

Single farmers looking for love – Kelly Dennett:

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

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

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

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


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