Rural round-up

July 25, 2014

Federation wins rates remission against urban sprawl:

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

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

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

Council and farmers work together – Chris Lewis:

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

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

Focus on farm-exit water quality :

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

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

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

Gold surge tipped for Zespri - Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Perception not reality

July 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Click the link to see the table)

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

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

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

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

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

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


If . ..

July 25, 2014

If Labour wants to help the regions:

Why is it against irrigation?

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

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


Rural round-up

July 24, 2014

 

 

Kiwi red meat really starting to sizzle – Graham Turley:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Speech to GIA signing with NZ Pork – Nathan Guy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Who knows regions best?

July 24, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just answer the question.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean added more:

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

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

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

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order!

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

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

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

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

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


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.    . . .


Rural round-up

July 20, 2014

Back agriculture back our Roads:

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

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

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

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

More places earmarked for rural medical students:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seafood New Zealand welcomes community funding for seabird conservation work:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Otago woman named NZ’s top young amenity horticulturist:

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

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

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

Tax officials to work with bloodstock breeding industry:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 19, 2014

Regen owner named Mumtrepreneur of the Year:

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

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

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

$107.5m to Lincoln University science rebuild:

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

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

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

Federated Farmers on Ruataniwha appeal:

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for the South Island’s next top farmer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rural elderly communities to struggle – report:

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

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

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

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

Mixed fortunes at wool auction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

July 18, 2014

New rules tough for everyone – Andrea Fox:

The jury is in on pollution crime against New Zealand’s waterways and lakes and no one – farmer, business, suburbanite, or city apartment dweller – will escape the verdict’s impact.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, released by the Government this month, is the latest decree on a matter considered to be of national significance.

Yes, farmers have been fencing off rivers and streams and managing effluent systems better for several years in the name of freshwater protection policy under the Resource Management Act. And they have made big improvements.

What is new is a change to that policy statement. It is going to be tough on farmers – but equally tough on urban NZ. . .

Top genetic selection produces biggest antlers – Heather Chalmers:

Producing deer with some of the biggest antlers in New Zealand takes careful genetic selection and a dollop of luck, says South Canterbury deer farmer Chris Petersen.

Just as others follow the breeding lines of thoroughbred racehorses, Petersen does the same for deer.

“I know all the top stags and hinds in New Zealand. I study them.”

Farming Highden Deer Park with his wife Debra at Sutherlands near Pleasant Point, his stags are highly regarded for their antlers, both for trophies and velvet. The 130 hectare rolling downlands farm carries 364 spikers and mixed-age stags, 122 mixed-age hinds and 55 18-month hinds, as well as this season’s progeny. Most stags are grown out to seven years old for the trophy market, with 27 out of 30 sold last year. . .

Stink over cattle compost - Shelly Robinson:

A North Canterbury business that composted cattle heads and ears for a gelatine factory was forced to stop taking the waste after complaints about the smell from neighbours.

T W Transport’s composting facility at Burnt Hill, Oxford, has been fined seven times by Environment Canterbury (ECan) for odour issues in breach of its resource consent.

Company director Ted Wills said it stopped taking the waste from Gelita NZ Ltd because of the complaints. “If there was a smell out our way, even among the farms spraying effluent on paddocks or silage, we still got the blame,” he said. . .

Fast, slow beef finishing assessed in Far North:

HAVING ALL animals on a farm growing at the same pace could result in big risks for drystock farmers, delegates at the final Finished in 20 Months beef seminar in Northland heard last month.

The three-year Beef + Lamb New Zealand project ran multiple studies to find techniques which would let farmers get beef cattle to finishing weights before their second winter, a key aim being to avoid having heavy animals on pugging prone clay soils when it gets wet.

But some in the trial have argued even 20 months is too long and target kill weights need to be hit at 15-16 months so they can be sold before Christmas and the subsequent slides in schedule prices. . .

Many markets for miscanthus:

FUEL, BEDDING, shelter, forage: super-tall perennial grass miscanthus could have markets as all of them, says Miscanthus New Zealand, a Te Awamutu-based company promoting the crop.

The grass is already fairly widely used in Europe and the United States as a bioenergy crop but was only introduced to New Zealand in 2010 with about 40ha now established in various crops and trials nationwide.

“It’s a triploid hybrid so it’s completely infertile,” says Miscanthus NZ managing director Peter Brown. . .

GFAR Partnering with EAT to create research network uniting agriculture and nutrition:

The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) has entered into a strategic partnership with the EAT Stockholm Food Forum. GFAR provides a forum for experts and organizations around the world to share agricultural research and create positive change. EAT is an international network made up of experts on sustainable food, nutrition, and health. By teaming together, GFAR and EAT hope to lead an integrated approach to increasing the sustainability and nutritional value of food.

Dr. Gunhild Anker Stordalen, director of EAT, recently spoke about her organization and the reasons behind this new alliance. . .

Six key recommendations for ramily farming in North America:

In April, representatives from 35 organizations around the world gathered in Québec City to participate in the Dialogue on Family Farming in North America. Motivated by the United Nation’s designation of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), the dialogue included workshops, panel discussions, and question periods organized by UPA Développement International (UPA DI) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This week, a report was published summarizing the key presentations and findings from the event.

Canadian presenters spoke on a range of topics including the importance of women in small farming, and the challenges of farming profitably without formal training. . .


All I Do Is Farm

July 18, 2014

You can read the background to the video on Peterson Farm Bros blog.

. . . All they do is farm. That’s what a lot of people think about farmers. “Yeah, they work hard and they are important and stuff, but they’re just farmers, right?”

There are thousands of professions out there, many of which are higher paying, more respected jobs. But where would all the people working in those jobs be without farmers? That’s right, they would be spending their time growing their own food. Today, the average farmer feeds over 155 people and the average American spends only about 6% of their income on their food, compared to 17% in 1960. Less expensive food has allowed for 98% of the population to spend all of their time doing something else besides raising their own food. How would you like it if you spent each day of your life growing your own food, instead of working at your current job and spending loads of time and money on family, leisure, and entertainment? So yes, all we do is farm, but without us farming, you all would be starving! (Or at least growing your own food!)

And not only do we farm, we farm no matter what! In heat, cold, sleet, rain, snow, weekends, holidays, and everything in between farmers are working hard to take care of animals, crops, and people! Thank a farmer!!! . . .


Will the payout go down?

July 18, 2014

When Fonterra announced its forecast payout for the 2014/15 season some thought it was optimistic.

After this week’s large drop in the GlobalDairyTrade price index and no encouraging signs for recovery in the short term a revised forecast for a lower payout is expected.

Federated Farmers is warning farmers to prepare for something less than the opening forecast of $7:

“The reality is that the world is having a near-perfect production season with Europe and the Americas having a blinder,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chair.

“The fall in GlobalDairyTrade reflects supply and demand.  With good weather, high milk prices and grain availability, global dairy production has ramped up.

“While GDT Prices may have come off there is no milk lake of yesteryear.  The world needs to grow a lot more than New Zealand’s annual production every year just to meet demand.

“In the short term, I would recommend dairy farmers start planning for payout forecasts being predicted by the banks of $6 to $6.25 kg/MS.  We need to remember $6 kg/MS is the practical breakeven for about twenty percent of the industry with high production costs.

“Be conservative by focussing on debt and prioritising productive investment.

“This volatility in the payout shows that when politicians start mouthing off about new taxes specifically for farmers, without a clear objective of what they could achieve aide from being affordable in one year, they miss the reality that good years usually alternate with bad years. . .

Many farmers used last season’s record payout to repay debt and the prudent budgeted for a reduced income this season.

Even so, a lower payout will mean farmers re-look at budgets and there will be less money to spend in rural communities and the wider economy.

However, while the payout will be lower than last season’s and almost certainly lower than the opening forecast, it is still expected to be at least at, if not better than the average for the last few years.

The outlook isn’t as optimistic as hoped but that’s no reason to be pessimistic about it, or dairying.


Rural round-up

July 17, 2014

Shock treatment makes waves - Sally Rae:

It has been an electrifying experiment.

A research team at the University of Otago has been using short bursts of high-voltage electricity in a bid to improve the tenderness of red meat.

The research, in conjunction with Alliance Group and led by Dr Alaa El-din Bekhit, of the university’s food science department, has been cited as having the potential to open up new opportunities for lifting returns on lower-value carcass cuts. . . .

Landowners want history kept alive:

A Taranaki Maori landowner of an award-winning farm wants tribal descendants to know about the land’s history, not just its success.

Te Rua o te Moko farm near Hawera won this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy recognising Maori excellence in farming.

The farm is made of four land blocks, one of which was confiscated by the Crown in 1863 and is being held in a land bank. It is due to be given back as part of the Ngaruahinerangi iwi Treaty of Waitangi settlement. . .

Landcorp’s huge dairy plans start to take shape -

Three new dairy farms that have been converted from forestry will begin milking for the first time in the new season as part of Landcorp’s large-scale dairy development near Taupo.

The state-owned enterprise has converted nine farms from forestry in partnership with landowner Wairakei Pastoral. In total, the nine dairy units encompassed 5300ha and milked 13,000 cows, chief executive Steven Carden said. Based on its current timetable, Landcorp hoped to have everything completed by 2020. To date, the project has cost $87 million.

“We have four this year, four the next year and four the year after. When the whole thing is finished we are looking at 24 farms and around about 30,000 cows across 25,700ha of land.”  . . .

Knock-on effects of less beer drinking – Sonita Chandar:

Fewer people are drinking beer and farmers are getting a hangover.

As beer consumption falls, breweries require less malt and malting companies need less barley from farmers.

The change in Kiwis’ drinking habits is being felt at the Marton malting factory of MaltEurop NZ.

Operations manager Tiago Cabral says some barley growers are likely to feel the effect more than others.

“We will need less barley and will have to contract less tonnage from our growers,” he says. . . .

2014 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards Finalists Announced:

The finalists have been announced for the third Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards.

About 300 people are expected to attend the awards dinner – which recognise top-performing New Zealand sheep breeders – on 6 August in Napier.

Five industry-related awards will be presented. In addition to the Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year, Individual or Business Making a Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Sheep Industry Innovation Award, two new awards have been added: the Sheep Industry Science Award, recognising a project, business or person undertaking science that is having a positive impact on farming now, and the Sheep Industry Supplier Award, which recognises a farmer supplier nominated by processors for consistently meeting company specifications and other key performance indicators. . .

CRV Ambreed appoints artificial insemination expert to Tasman, Marlborough area role:

Dairy farmer, breeder and artificial insemination expert Nigel Patterson has been appointed field consultant for the CRV Ambreed team, in which he will be managing the Nelson, Marlborough, Murchison area.

CRV Ambreed’s South Island sales and services manager Mark Duffy said the company was delighted to have someone with such a strong background in dairy join the team.

“Nigel has over 26 years’ experience in the dairy industry, including running his own pedigree Jersey herd, share milking, providing testing services and supporting farmers through artificial insemination (AI),” said Mr Duffy. . . .

New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory celebrates 30 years:

In July 1984 a young Waikato scientist by the name of Roger Hill left a small soil testing laboratory in Cambridge to launch his own in Hamilton.

Roger and his wife Anne’s initial business intention, he says, was simply to “have a go” on their own.

Yet three decades later the company, well-known nationally and internationally as Hill Laboratories, is the largest privately owned testing laboratory in the whole of New Zealand. . .

Ballance signs up record shareholders:

A record number of farmers from around the country have secured shareholdings in Ballance Agri-Nutrients in time to receive a rebate on their fertiliser purchased from the farm nutrient co-operative in September this year.

Ballance’s rebate and dividend in the 2013 financial year averaged a record $65 per tonne.

Nearly 1000 farmers signed up to become shareholders for the 2014 financial year which ended on 31 May. . .

Reduce winter nitrogen loss – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter is a time when farmers should take special care to protect both profits and the environment from the effects of increased nitrogen leaching at this time of year.

Applications of nitrogen fertilisers in winter are generally least effective for promoting grass growth.

That’s because slow growth of pasture and drainage from increased seasonal rainfall can result in nitrate leaching directly from fertiliser before plants can take it up. The nitrogen can then make its way to waterways where it can stimulate nuisance algal growth. . .


Anti-farming policies cost poor most

July 17, 2014

 

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In New Zealand we don’t only need farmers to produce our food, we need them to produce food for other parts of the world.

Opposition parties which are anti-farming don’t seem to realise that policies which make farming more difficult and expensive will make food more expensive.

That is not an argument against environmental protection and enhancement and fair work practices.

It is a plea for practical policies based on good science, not political ideology and emotion.

We will all pay for bad policy and  those who will literally and figuratively pay most  are the poor these same parties purport to represent and in whose interests they purport to be working.


Rural round-up

July 16, 2014

Tax relief for Northland flood affected farmers:

Revenue Minister Todd McClay has said that flood affected farmers in Northland will be offered assistance through Inland Revenue’s income equalisation discretion following the declaration of a medium scale adverse event by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy this morning.

“The Government recognises that this will be a difficult time for many in Northland as they come to terms with the damage caused by recent severe weather events. This assistance from IRD will give greater certainty to affected farmers and is designed to make the coming months easier for them as they deal with the damage done to their farms,” Mr McClay says. . .

Scope to boost profits:

High levels of labour efficiency, low costs of production and plenty of potential to increase productivity with minimal investment are the good news stories from the 2013 Southern Beef Situation Analysis, commissioned by MLA.

The findings reinforced earlier work about the opportunities for southern beef producers.

The analysis found that average profits per hectare in beef production have lagged behind most alternative enterprises in the southern region, excluding wool, in the past 15 years.

However, it also showed that it would be better for southern beef producers with low profitability to improve efficiencies in their current business rather than switching to an alternative enterprise. . . .

Crown Irrigation Investments Limited reaches financial close on the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme:

Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (Crown Irrigation) today announced it has reached financial close on its first investment with Central Plains Water Limited.

Under the agreement, Crown Irrigation will provide $6.5 million of subordinated debt finance for a period of up to five years, to support the construction of excess capacity in the headrace to be built during Stage 1 that is needed for later stages of the irrigation scheme.

Following the agreement of a terms sheet in March 2014, the transaction has been subject to comprehensive due diligence by Crown Irrigation and all conditions precedent have been satisfied. . .

Molkerei Ammerland to offer Sweet Whey Powder (SWP) on GlobalDairyTrade:

GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) announced today that Molkerei Ammerland will join the seven existing sellers on GlobalDairyTrade beginning September, 2014, offering Sweet Whey Powder for the first time on the world’s leading auction platform.

 Molkerei Ammerland’s participation as a seller on GDT marks yet another significant development in the world’s foremost online dairy commodity trading platform.

 Molkerei Ammerland, one of Europe’s leading dairy cooperatives, gathers milk from over 2000 farmers across northwest Germany, and through its state of the art production facilities it processes more than 1.5 billion kilograms of milk for sale to over 50 countries around the world. Molkerei Ammerland specialises in cheeses, butter, whey powders, milk powders and fresh dairy products, and has capitalised on over 125 years’ experience. . .

New film shows seafood industry and conservation groups working together to protect seabirds:

The New Zealand seafood industry congratulated Southern Seabird Solution Trust’s on its short film “Sharing Worlds, Seabirds and Fishing” which was launched today by the Hon Nick Smith, the Minister of Conservation at the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula.

The film highlights Otago fishing and conservation working together for the benefit of seabirds like the yellow-eyed penguin and sooty shearwater, also known as titi.

“The film is a tangible demonstration of how organisations, often with differing interests, can work together in a positive and proactive way,” says George Clement, Chair of Seafood New Zealand who was at the launch. . .

New CEO for primary industry alliance:

Andy Somerville has been appointed as the new chief executive officer for the Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA).

PICA is a collaboration between New Zealand Young Farmers; DairyNZ; Beef and Lamb NZ; PrimaryITO; Taratahi; Ministry for Primary Industries and Lincoln University, set up in 2012 to develop a capability strategy for the wider agricultural industry.

Chair of the Transition Board for PICA, Mark Paine, says Andy, originally from Otago, is a Lincoln University graduate who comes from a rural and commercial banking background. . . .


Fonterra holds 4th place in global dairy rank

July 16, 2014

Fonterra has held fourth place in Rabobank’s global dairy rankings:

  The latest annual Rabobank survey of the world’s largest dairy companies highlights the giants of one of the world’s most valuable food sectors.

The last 18 months have seen most of these players battle challenging conditions, with weak economies and supply constraints undermining sales growth in key markets. Againt this backdrop, mergers and acquistions have become an attractive route to growth and profitability. But with billion dollar deals increasingly hard to come by, dairy giants will need to acquire or tie up with more companies to sustain the same rates of growth in future. Those adept at acquiring and embracing new businesses will remain well positioned to survive and thrive. 

“Once again, giants Nestlé, Danone and Lactalis top the list, showing that the world’s largest dairy companies are reasonably entrenched,” commented Rabobank analyst Tim Hunt. “We continue to see some companies outperform their peers in sheer growth terms. In particular, the Chinese giants Yili and Mengniu, which saw their sales expand by 14% and 20% respectively, with Yili entering the top 10 for the first time ever”. 

Saputo continued its march up the list to push to eighth place, in part due to several recent acquisitions. Meiji and Morinaga slipped down the list largely due to the sharp decline in the value of the Yen (in which most of their products are sold).  

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2013 was a challenging year for most of the world’s major dairy companies, with stagnant sales volumes in most OECD dairy markets. Acquisitions have become a more attractive route to grow sales and in 2013, there were 124 dairy transactions, up from 111 in 2012 and the highest since 2007.

Positioning for maximum effectiveness in the expanding Chinese market remains prominent. In 2013, joint ventures were announced between Mengniu and Whitewave and COFCO and Danone while Yili announced a partnership agreement with Dairy Farmers of America.

Mengniu took a stake in China Modern Dairy to secure raw milk supply. A further joint venture is pending between FrieslandCampina and Huishan. Despite the increase in transactions, the dairy sector saw no billion dollar deals in the 12 months to 30 June 2014.

While underlying growth will pick up in coming years, many markets will not return to the rapid growth rates seen before 2008. In this context, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures will remain a key avenue to growth and profitability.

“The catch is that the number of attractive targets is shrinking and multiples have risen,”  explained Hunt. “With billion dollar value deals harder to come by, dairy giants will need to acquire or tie up with more companies than in the past to sustain the same rates of growth”.

Fonterra made a record pay out to its suppliers last season but that was overshadowed in the media by its poor handling of the whey protein concentrate debacle.

However, it maintained its 4th place in the rankings.


Share your story

July 15, 2014

Rural Women New Zealand is inviting people to get creative by writing short stories and taking photos and videos to showcase New Zealand farming life today.

“We are running the competition in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to tell the stories behind the primary products we grow on our farms,” says Rural Women national president, Wendy McGowan.

MPI will use some of the photos, videos and stories to promote the New Zealand primary industry brand and our rural values.

“We encourage people to get their creative juices flowing to share the challenges and triumphs of farming and today’s sustainable business practices,” says Wendy McGowan.

“We hope to see entries that reflect our care of the land and our animals, and the skills and ingenuity of the people that make New Zealand’s primary industries so successful.

Rural Women NZ also hopes the competition will highlight the opportunities for great careers that are available in the sector.

The competition is being run as part of Rural Women NZ’s celebrations to mark the 2014 International Year of Family Farming.

“Stories are powerful, and we have some great farming stories to tell,” says Wendy McGowan.
There are five entry categories: Women and men at work on the farm; farm machinery and farm innovation; animals; children; rural communities. Entries close 1 November 2014 and the competition is open to everyone.

More details and an entry from can be found here.

 


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