Rural round-up

April 3, 2014

Why is New Zealand’s retail milk so expensive? - Keith Woodford:

Visitors to New Zealand often ask me why our supermarket milk is so expensive compared to in their own countries. I tell them the answer is simple. First, we have little competition, with only two milk major processors (Fonterra and Goodman Fielder) and two major supermarket chains (Foodstuffs and Progressive). Also, unlike most other countries, the Government in New Zealand does tax food.   Both answers are typically received with surprise.

I am sure it will also come as a surprise to many New Zealanders to hear they pay more for their milk than the British, the Australians, the Americans and even the Canadians. So let’s do some comparisons. . .

Smoke and mirrors of business as usual? - Allan Barber:

This season shows many of the normal characteristics of the red meat sector, but it’s getting harder than ever to unravel the complexities of an industry which epitomises Winston Churchill’s 1939 quip about Russia – a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

In conversation with several senior industry executives, it has been possible to establish for certain only three things: first, this season is a bit easier than last and quite a lot better than two years ago, second, the trend to dairy support away from sheep and beef has gained momentum, and lastly China is extremely helpful for exports of both species.

There are conflicting views about other current issues and events. Beef is either tougher or easier than sheepmeat depending on the region or point of view, capacity must come out, but whose capacity again depends on the perspective taken, and, while some are closer than others to see the possibility, nobody is willing to predict a disaster. . . .

From farm to the boardroom - Annette Scott:

Dawn Sangster is a grassroots farmer, an Alliance Group director and is committed to making a positive contribution to the red-meat sector. She talked to Annette Scott about her fascinating journey in the rural sector.

Maniototo farmer Dawn Sangster grew up on the family farm in Paerau, Central Otago.

She attended Waitaki Girls High before graduating from Lincoln University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce degree in farm management. . .

Call for organic producers to unite - Alan Williams:

Southland farmer Craig Dowden reckons organic lamb producers can do better by teaming up and demanding a better price.

He wants them to decide on a fair minimum price and tell their processors that is a bottom line for supply.

Existing prices, providing typically a 20% premium over conventionally farmed lambs, weren’t enough, Dowden said.

The premium was needed to allow for reduced stocking rates, slower growth rates, and some stock-health issues involved in running a farm without some chemical treatments, he said. . .

 

TAF ‘a blueprint for the world’ - Tim Fuulton:

Fonterra’s Trading Among Farmers (TAF) scheme is being copied in Australia and the rest of the world is likely to follow, NZX head of capital markets Aaron Jenkins says.

Jenkins joined NZX last year from a role as Fonterra’s TAF general manager.

It is 16 months since the share-trade mechanism launched in a clamour of publicity.

Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn’s proposed share-trade mechanism was virtually identical to Fonterra’s TAF, except the Australians wanted to raise money externally, Jenkins told a recent function hosted by Christchurch law firm Tavendale and Partners. . .

 

Human health implications of A1 versus A2 beta-casein: theory and current evidence - Keith Woodford:

The health implications of A1 beta–casein relative to A2 beta-casein are controversial. At times the scientific debate can become clouded by the reality that milk is a commercial product. Conversion of all herds so as to replace A1 beta-casein with A2 beta-casein over one to two cow generations (4 – 12 years) is technically straight forward. Accordingly, the beta-casein issue can be presented as either a threat to, or an opportunity for, the mainstream industry, with elements of each perspective being valid.

The Key Science.

  • All bovine beta-casein was originally of the A2 type. A1 beta-casein is now produced by a considerable proportion of cows that have European bloodlines. In contrast, goats, sheep, buffalo, camels and humans produce beta-casein of the A2 type. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2014

New evidence that A1 relative to A2 beta-casein affects digestive function – Keith Woodford:

A new paper has been published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition titled “Dietary A1 beta-casein affects gastrointestinal transit time, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 activity, and inflammatory status relative to A2 b-casein in Wistar rats”

The key findings are:
1. A1 beta casein slows down transit of food through the digestive system relative to A2 beta-casein and this is an opioid effect.
2. A1 beta-casein induces a pro- inflammatory effect in the colon which is also an opioid effect.
3. A1 beta casein relative to A2 beta-casein causes up-regulation of the enzyme DPP4 in the small intestine and this is apparently a non-opioid effect.
4. In contrast to the A1 beta-casein, there is no evidence of opioid effects from the A2 beta-casein in relation to either food transit times or pro-inflammatory effects. . . .

Benefits of collaboration - Sally Rae:

Collaboration and partnerships.

Two words mentioned often during a Federated Farmers high country field day in the upper Waitaki last week.

It was a fitting location for such an event, with what could be dubbed the ”green versus brown” debate a very hot issue in both the upper Waitaki and neighbouring Mackenzie districts.

Starting in Twizel, about 140 people travelled in a convoy of vehicles through Doug McIntyre’s dairy farm operation, on to Ohau Downs, where Kees Zeestraten is battling to bring irrigation to his property, then through Ribbonwood Station and into the Ahuriri Valley before viewing irrigation development at Tara Hills near Omarama. . .

Millions spent but no irrigation yet - Sally Rae:

Kees Zeestraten has spent close to $3 million trying to get water to irrigate Ohau Downs.

He admitted he was ”gutted” it had cost so much to get to that point – and still not have water.

Meanwhile, the flats of the 5200ha Omarama property, where he intended to do his irrigation development, were, as North Otago Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said, ”pretty depleted”, with hieracium taking over and tussocks struggling to survive.

”In general, you would not say it’s in great health. It’s certainly not knee-high tussocks waving in the wind,” Mr Williamson said. . .

Green hues advancing in the high country - Sally Rae:

‘You wouldn’t get a better landscape. Green is as much a part of it as the tawny brown landscape in the background. What are they worrying about? It fits in.”

That was the comment of High Country Accord chairman Jonathan Wallis, after viewing the result of irrigation development on Tara Hills at Omarama.

The contrast between the green, irrigated flats of the property and the surrounding brown hills was vivid.

The 3400ha station, best known as a research property, was bought by Dave Ellis two years ago. . .

Sorting out key issues – Bryan Gibson:

Prime Minister John Key will hope his visit to China last week will have done the trick in terms of reassuring the government in that country and the buying public that our milk products are safe and our food-safety regime is robust.

A report, covered in this week’s Farmers Weekly, says New Zealand’s infant formula industry is in pretty good shape, but faces many challenges as China looks to tame the “Wild West” market that has taken shape there.

Audits of this country’s processing plants by Chinese authorities are under way and there will be many eager to know the results. . .

Foundation’s Australian links pay off:

The Foundation for Arable Research says its foray into Australia last year is paying off.

Foundation chief executive Nick Pyke said the link with Australia enables it to leverage off the much larger investment in cropping research being carried out across the Tasman.

“We have had some involvement in programmes which are quite different for them (Australia) because of the way we grow crops here in New Zealand, so they have learnt from that”. . .

Auckland Hauraki Dairy Winners Dominant:

The major winners in the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards, Bryce and Rosemarie Costar, have well achievable goals to keep them focused and heading in the right direction.

The Onewhero couple were named the region’s Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year at an awards dinner in Pukekohe last night . Ngatea contract milker Simon Player was named the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Farm Manager of the Year and Paeroa dairy farm assistant Marion Reynolds won the region’s Dairy Trainee of the Year title.

Bryce and Rosemarie Costar are 55% sharemilking 300 cows on a family farm owned by Bill Costar. They won $20,200 in prizes. . .


Rural round-up

October 19, 2013

Pengxin, Synlait founders make $85.7 mln offer to take over Synlait Farms - Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin, which bought the Crafar family farms in a controversial deal last year, and the Synlait founders are offering $85.7 million to buy South Island dairy farmer Synlait Farms.

SFL Holdings, a joint venture between Pengxin and Synlait Farms chief executive Juliet Maclean and director John Penno, is offering $2.10 a share to Synlait Farms investors in a full takeover bid for the company which operates 13 dairy farms and a total herd of almost 13,000 cows. That’s a 31 percent premium to the $1.60 price the shares last traded at on the Unlisted platform.

If the takeover is successful, SFL plans to inject a further $20 million in fresh capital to reduce debt and accelerate investment. It also plans to reinvest all surplus cash to fund further growth. Penno and Maclean will hold about 26 percent of SFL, with Pengxin owning the rest via New Zealand Standard Farm, a subsidiary of its Milk New Zealand unit. . .

Spierings blames ‘she’ll be right attitude’ for Fonterra botulism scare - Christopher Adams:

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings compared the company’s botulism debacle to Emirates Team New Zealand’s near-capsize during the America’s Cup. Photo / Greg Bowker

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings says a “she’ll be right attitude” was one of the causes of the company’s botulism fiasco.

Business leaders have gathered in Auckland today for the annual China Business Summit.

The event’s main focus this year is the ongoing impact of Fonterra’s whey protein contamination scare, which led to a global recall of consumer products, including infant formula, but turned out to be a false alarm.

Addressing the summit, Spierings said Fonterra was world class in manufacturing and food safety but the company still needed to “lift its game”.

“That was one the key learnings [of the botulism scare] – a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude is not acceptable,” he said. . .

Primary Growth Partnership enhances world-class Mozzarella technology:

A Primary Growth Partnership programme is helping deliver world-leading patented technology for the production of quick-frozen grated mozzarella.

The Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme is driven by Fonterra, Dairy NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership. The technology, which is being expanded at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site in South Canterbury, enables quick-frozen, natural, shredded mozzarella to be produced in just a day—a process traditionally taking around two months.

“This is a key demonstration of the type of innovation that is being enabled by the Primary Growth Partnership,” says Justine Gilliland, Director Primary Growth Partnership, MPI. . .

Creating the ‘angus moment’ – Gerald Piddock:

Angus beef must position itself as a guilt-free indulgence for wealthy consumers around the world if it is to prosper in the modern world, a leading brand strategist says.

But to achieve this would require a new way of thinking, Brian Richards told farmers at the World Angus Forum in Rotorua.

It meant angus farmers viewing themselves not just as sellers of protein but also as producers of a food experience, Richards said in his keynote address at the forum. . .

New Zealand wine industry ‘icon’ receives 2013 trans-Tasman agribusiness leadership award:

New Zealand wine industry luminary Sir George Fistonich has been named the recipient of the 2013 Rabobank Leadership Award for his outstanding contribution to agribusiness.

A pioneer of modern-day winemaking in New Zealand, Sir George, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate, was presented with the prestigious trans-Tasman honour at the annual Rabobank Leadership Award Dinner in Melbourne last night.

Australian grains industry advocate Georgie Aley was named Rabobank Emerging Leader, a new award category recognising up-and-coming young leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food, beverage and agribusiness industries.

Announcing the award winners, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Thos Gieskes said Sir George Fistonich had spent five decades at the forefront of New Zealand’s wine industry and had been an instrumental figure in the rise of New Zealand wines on the world stage.

“In a career spanning 50 years, George Fistonich has exemplified true leadership along with an extraordinary passion for the New Zealand wine industry – successfully leading not just his own business, but helping to pioneer and drive an entire industry and inspire and mentor those around him,” Mr Gieskes said.  . .  (I posted on the award yesterday, but this is the official media release).

Waiting for Nuffield – RivettingKateTaylor:

It’s Nuffield time of year again.

Years ago, a Young Farmers friend, arable farmer Hugh Ritchie, was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship. I think I was working for radio or the HB Herald Tribune at the time and did a story on his selection.

Now I work for Nuffield NZ in a freelance journalist role and see the scholars come and go (literally – six months of overseas travel/research is an integral part of a scholarship). . .

Oaklands Milk now from A2 dairy herds:

Local dairy farmer Julian Raine, has announced that all Oakland’s milk naturally contains A2 beta casein proteins. He says “Centuries ago all cow’s milk contained this protein but as dairy herds around the world have been bred and selected for higher production the incidence of the A1 variation has increased.”

Through genetic testing Mr Raine has been able to select cows from his two Nelson dairy herds that have only the A2 gene. These cows are milked separately and it is only this pasteurised milk that is currently sold through vending machines located at Oakland’s farm gate. . .

Kiwi company takes the spotlight with its world-leading technology:

Global players in the fresh produce industry will this weekend get a first-hand look at innovative fruit sorting solutions from Kiwi company BBC Technologies, the world’s leading supplier of blueberry sorting and packing machinery.

BBC Technologies, specialists in the development and manufacturing of advanced processing technology, will be showcasing its range, for the first time, at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo in New Orleans.

PMA’s Fresh Summit is one of the largest trade shows held in the United States, drawing more than 18,000 visitors from over 60 countries. North America is a key market for BBC, with the thriving New Zealand company recording 30 per cent year on year growth. . .


Rural round-up

August 30, 2013

Land use pressure for farmers – Tony Benny:

Farmer predicts proposed new land use rules will jam the brakes on agricultural development in Canterbury.

Federated Farmers’ South Island Grain and Seed vice-chairman David Clark claims that the proposals for rules limiting changes of land use recommended for inclusion in the proposed Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan will put more pressure on arable farmers and stop further expansion of dairy farming.

“The proposals that have been put forward would make it extremely hard to change land use with any degree of intensification.

“The big issue and the big concern is around nutrient management rules that are coming in, that would severely constrict land use modification.” . .

Key holds fire on botulism blame - Hannah Lynch:

Prime Minister John Key is refusing to point the finger of blame at who is responsible for the Fonterra botulism fiasco until all inquires in to what turned out to be a false alarm are completed.

In a shock announcement yesterday, the Primary Industries Ministry said there was no contamination linked to botulism in Fonterra whey protein product at the centre of an international food safety alert. 

The ministry’s independent testing contradicted the results of tests done by Fonterra or on its behalf by state owned AgResearch. 

The alert earlier this month caused product recalls, a trade backlash and tarnished New Zealand’s “clean green” brand. . .

Deer farmers urged to fight for Invermay - Annette Scott:

The Invermay deer programme has led the development of the New Zealand deer industry for the past 35 years and is recognised as world leading, former Invermay Agricultural Centre director Dr Jock Allison says.

Allison opposes AgResearch’s proposal to focus South Island agricultural research on a single hub in Lincoln, describing it as schizophrenic behaviour.   

In a letter to deer farmers Allison, Dr Ken Drew, a leader of Invermay deer research for 25 years, and Otago University Professor Frank Griffin urged the industry to voice its concern.

“It is our view that only through concerted industry efforts will the deer research programme be retained at Invermay,” Allison said. . .

European manufacturer commits to New Zealand:

The current strength and strong outlook for the future of New Zealand agriculture has led Europe’s major tractor manufacturer, SAME Deutz-Fahr, to commit itself to our market.

The Vice Chairman of the company, Francesco Carozza, (pictured) who was in New Zealand recently, says the future of world agriculture is very strong, and New Zealand is well positioned to capitalise on that potential.

“Globally speaking, food demand is going to double over the next 40 years, so the market is going to increase big time – and so are the opportunities for New Zealand agriculture,” he says. . .

Primary Industry Training Organisation cements first successful year with fresh new brand:

On 1 October 2012, Agriculture ITO and Horticulture ITO merged to form the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO). Primary ITO is also responsible for Water Industry Training, Equine Industry Training and NZ Sports Turf ITO, making it one of the largest ITOs in New Zealand.

“Agriculture ITO and Horticulture ITO made the proactive move to join together because we shared a natural affinity and a common vision. We recognised that we could deliver better outcomes for our industries by having an organisation with a larger critical mass and shared resources,” says Primary ITO Chief Executive Kevin Bryant.

Since the launch of Primary ITO, the organisation has continued to operate under the five existing brands. . .

Conservation and management of NZ whitebait speciesJane Goodman:

New Zealand’s whitebait fishery consists of the young of five migratory galaxiid species – inanga (Galaxias maculatus), koaro (Galaxias brevipinnis), banded kokopu (Galaxias fasciatus), giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus) and shortjaw kokopu (Galaxias postvectis). Smelt (Retropinna retropinna) are also present in catches from some rivers along with the young of other fish species such as eels and bullies. (See Amber McEwan’s earlier blog.)

Four of the five galaxiid whitebait species (inanga, koaro, giant kokopu and shortjaw kokopu are ranked in the New Zealand Threat Classification System (Townsend et al. 2008) as ‘at risk – declining’; banded kokopu are listed as not threatened (Allibone et al. 2010).

A2 shares record-high as investors buy into growth story:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Corp shares touched a record high 77 cents in trading today after the company boosted sales 51 percent and improved its underlying earnings.

The Sydney-based company, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, lifted sales to $94.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30 from $62.5 million, and more than doubled operating earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation to $10.6 million.

Net profit slipped 6.5 percent to $4.12 million, as the company wore losses associated with setting up its British joint venture and year earlier gains from a tax asset and legal settlement rolled off. . .


Rural round-up

April 30, 2013

New Lincoln Hub plans unveiled:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today unveiled concept plans for a world-class agricultural research and education facility to be sited at Lincoln, near Christchurch.

The Lincoln Hub concept plans and business proposal have been developed by a partnership of Lincoln University, DairyNZ and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research.

“The Lincoln Hub has the potential to transform New Zealand’s farming productivity by providing a one-stop shop allowing information and ideas to be shared more easily,” Mr Joyce says. “Internationally, science and innovation parks that collect together public and private organisations in one place drive a lot of education, science and innovation. The Lincoln Hub can achieve this for New Zealand farming.” . .

AgResearch capitalises its strengths to boost science:

A mammoth $100 million investment in AgResearch’s core science resource will help boost its potential to support exports from the primary industries in reaching $60 billion by 2025, on current policy settings.

“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure is getting a bit creaky,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“It was a genuine pleasure to be at the unveiling of an impressive roadmap that will also see the “hubbing” of primary research capabilities at and with Lincoln University. . .

Meat Industry excellence Group campaign warms up - Allan Barber:

The MIE organised farmer meeting in Feilding on Friday was attended by about 700 farmers which one speaker from the floor compared unfavourably with 2000 at the Drought Shout. However there is obviously an increasing level of support for substantial change to the meat industry’s operating method which results in volatile market returns.

Alliance and Silver Fern Farms were both represented and the respective chairmen, Owen Poole and EoinGarden, spoke in support of the group’s aims. Poole told the meeting the industry was working constructively to develop an improved model which was simpler than MIE’s plan and it was important to ensure the two plans were complementary. . .

MPI’s loss is LIC’s gain but Primary still comes out on top:

The resignation of Wayne McNee, Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General, to take up the position of Chief Executive at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), will still see this talented person working in and for New Zealand’s primary industries.

“This role shows the versatility of Wayne who has performed to a very high standard with the public service and now departs for a high profile leadership role in a company important to New Zealand agriculture,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“Wayne has put the Ministry on the right path for farmers following the merger of the old MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries. I feel disappointed in one regard because he leaves it, just when we are starting to see the fruits of his work appear in this new and dynamic Ministry. . .

Budget 2012; support for frontline conservation work:

An additional $20 million over four years has been allocated to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2013 to provide for additional frontline roles and the upgrade of recreational facilities, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The four year funding package complements the Government’s recently announced tourism investment. It recognises that DOC is the Government’s primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry,” Dr Smith says. . .

Innovative Dairy Companies Form Partnership to Boost Exports:

Two of New Zealand’s most innovative dairy companies are forming a partnership to boost exports to one of the world’s fastest growing consumer markets.

Synlait Milk will next month despatch the first consignment of a2® Platinum™ infant formula destined for mothers and infants in China. a2 milk™ contains only the A2 version of the beta casein protein which is more comparable to protein that mothers naturally produce than other versions of the beta casein protein found in standard milk.

Synlait Milk will be processing a2 milk™ from 10 suppliers from August this year and will further expand production to meet the requirements of A2 Corporation when a2® Platinum™ infant formula becomes available to mothers in New Zealand and Australia later this year. . .

Brancott Estate Celebrates the End of a “Sensational” Vintage:

Vineyard beats the weather to harvest pristine, flavoursome fruit

Early predictions of an outstanding vintage have proven true for Brancott Estate, the pioneers of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, who have successfully completed harvest ahead of autumn rain, and with fruit that bears all the characteristics of the region.

“The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough” says Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker for Brancott Estate. “While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of Growing Degree Days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.” . .


Rural round-up

April 24, 2013

Drought breaking rain sparks race to prepare for winter:

Farmers are rejoicing that the drought breaking rain finally arrived, but hope winter can hold off for a few more weeks to maximise pasture growth and better insure their feed supplies until spring.

“We have heard from nearly all our provincial presidents that the rain has broken the drought in their areas and that grass is growing again,” Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“Some areas had a bit too much rain, while others are still a bit dry, but overall the rain brought by last weekend’s subtropical trough was exactly what was needed, with grass growth returning to many areas. . .

Drought status likely to remain until September:

Recent rainfall has been welcomed by farmers but the problems created by the dry summer will be felt for some time, says Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

“The dry conditions may have ended in many parts of the country but there are still major challenges ahead. It will take time to build up enough grass cover to provide feed for winter.

“There’s no doubt the rain over the last week has been a real boost, especially for those in areas that have missed out before like the central North Island. . .

Prime Minister Attends Blessing for New Fonterra Plant:

Construction of Fonterra’s new $126 million UHT milk processing plant in Waitoa today took another step forward with the site’s blessing attended by Prime Minister John Key.

Fonterra’s Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the plant, which will be running from April 2014, will enable Fonterra to increase UHT production by 100 per cent over the next few years.

“The five new UHT lines will produce a range of products including UHT white milk and UHT cream for the foodservice sector, which is a part of our business that generates more than $1 billion in sales a year and this plant will allow us to meet the growing demand in Asia for these products,” said Mr Spierings. . .

New A2 formula ready for China – Christopher Adams:

NZX-listed alternative milk company A2 Corporation says the first consignment of its new infant formula brand will be shipped to the lucrative Chinese market next month, followed by distribution in New Zealand and Australian supermarkets soon after.

The company has appointed the China State Farms Holding Company Shanghai, a subsidiary of state-owned China National Agriculture Development Group Corp, as the exclusive Chinese distributor of its Platinum formula brand.

The formula will initially be sold in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing before sales are progressively expanded to other major cities in mainland China, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, A2 says. . .

Outdoor workers shun sun protection- Tamara McLean:

The sun protection slogan Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap is being dangerously ignored by two thirds of Kiwis working in the great outdoors, with farmers and builders among the worst culprits.

A University of Otago study of more than 1000 workers across nine outdoor occupations has revealed that sun smart messages are not getting through to those who spend their lives working outside.

Just one in three outdoor workers wear sunblock or a suitably protective hat while at work, despite being more at risk of sun damage than other people. . .

Last of founding vineyard empire goes on the market for sale:

A large landholding of what was once the family-owned and operated Nobilo wine empire west of Auckland has been placed on the market for sale.
The 7.49 hectare property bordering the township of Kumeu was once planted in white and red grapes, and was part of the huge landholding created by New Zealand wine legend Nikola ‘Nick’ Nobilo.

Nick Nobilo was born in Croatia and emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1937 to settle in Kumeu. Nobilo came from a winemaking family which had been producing vintages for some 300 years. . .

Locally bred Habibi sold after winning 6th consecutive race:

New Zealand Derby winner Habibi has been sold to a United States buyer.

A winner of six of her nine races, Habibi was sold to Pennsylvania buyer George Strawbridge after finishing fourth in unsuitably heavy conditions in the Australian Oaks at Randwick last Saturday.

Her owner-breeders Peter and Heather Crofskey will keep a minority share in the filly for the rest of her racing career. . .

Gibbston Valley mountain bike resort soft opening:

Queenstown’s new Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort will have a ‘soft’ opening on April 27 with riding available on some of the newly constructed trails. Rider numbers are limited to invitation only to reduce traffic and enable trails to bed in.

Invited local bikers, bike shop owners and front line staff will get to try out the new trails for the first time this weekend (April 27/28) at the new bike ‘playground’ on 400 hectares of land adjacent to Queenstown’s award-winning Gibbston Valley Winery.

Locals eagerly anticipating the opening of the new resort will then be able to ride the trails on Free Locals Days scheduled for the first Saturday of every month, starting May 4. . .


Rural round-up

February 28, 2013

Fonterra Announces Plan To Support And Grow Milk Supply:

Fonterra announced today a five-point plan to give farmer shareholders more flexibility in managing their farm businesses in order to support and grow milk production to support the Co-operative’s growth strategy.

The plan includes:
1. A bonus issue of one additional share or unit for every 40 held on 12 April 2013.
2. A further Supply Offer enabling Fonterra shareholders to sell the economic rights of some of their shares into the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund[1].
3. A Dividend Reinvestment plan enabling shareholders and unit holders to elect to receive dividends in the form of shares or units.
4. Flexible contracts to give new and growing farmers more time and options to fully back their milk production with Fonterra shares.
5. New opportunities for winter milk supply contracts in the upper North Island to fuel Fonterra’s new UHT plant at Waitoa. . .

Fonterra To Develop UHT Plant At Waitoa:

Fonterra today announced it will be investing more than $100 million in a new UHT milk processing plant at its Waitoa site in the Waikato.

Fonterra Chief Executive Officer Theo Spierings said the new plant would enable the co-operative to meet growing demand for UHT products in Asia.

“The new plant will enable us to increase our UHT production by 100 per cent over the next few years. The plant will include five new UHT lines that will produce a range of products including UHT white milk and UHT cream for the foodservice sector. . .

Federated Farmers awaits Commerce Commission examination of swaps:

Federated Farmers has asked the Commerce Commission to look into the selling of debt finance instruments known as ‘swaps’. This formal request was made last November.

“It is fair to say we have received a number of inquiries from members and even non-members regarding swaps,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As most of these instruments were sold to farmers between 2007 and 2009, the impact of the global financial crisis upon interest rates saw concerns really only arise after 2009. . .

Drought makes high New Zealand dollar unjustifiable:

With widespread dry conditions and the first adverse event declaration in Northland related to drought, Federated Farmers believes there is no justification for the high New Zealand dollar.

“It seems dairy production is not just falling but in some key areas is starting to crash,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“DairyNZ confirms Northland’s February milk production is some 20 percent down year to date while in the Waikato, it is about 15 percent down. Speaking to Kevin Robinson, the vice-chair of Federated Farmers Dairy, milk production at his farm is down 15-20 percent and is falling daily. . .

PGG Wrightson lifts 1H profit by 55% onr etail, ag services, pays 2.2 cent dividend:

PGG Wrightson, the rural services company controlled by Singapore-based Agria, listed first-half profit by 55 percent on earning s growth from retail and Ag services, allowing it to declare a 2.2 cents a share interim dividend.

Profit rose to $4.8 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $3.1 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Revenue from continuing operations fell to $589 million from $694 million.

Wrightson sold its finance unit to Heartland New Zealand in August 2011 and booked a loss of $3.37 million in the first half of the 2012 that wasn’t repeated in the latest period. Revenue from discontinued operations fell to $1.5 million in the latest half from $13.6 million a year earlier. . .

A2 1H profit dented by UK JV, affirms FY earnings target of $11.2M -  Paul McBeth:

Feb. 27 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Corp, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, reported an 82 percent slide in first-half profit as the cost of setting up its UK joint venture eroded the bottom line. The shares gained 3.9 percent as it affirmed its annual earnings forecast.

Net profit dropped to $243,000, or 0.09 cents per share, in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $3.4 million, or 0.53 cents, a year earlier, the Sydney-based company said in a statement. That came from a $1.5 million loss on establishing its UK joint venture with Robert Wiseman Dairies, which only started selling product in October last year. . .

Primary Wool Cooperative announces dividend payment:

Primary Wool Cooperative announces that on February 19, 2013, the Directors approved the payment of a 10% dividend to members. This comes on top of the annual 3 cents per kilogram rebate and last year’s 5% dividend, meaning that over the past 3 years, rebates and dividends have totalled an impressive $1.1M. These rebates and dividends, along with significant funding of industry-good activities such as the Campaign for Wool, demonstrate some of the ways Primary Wool Cooperative is delivering real benefit to the industry.

This is more good news for Primary Wool Cooperative, with the Just ShornTM brand being successfully rolled out into over 480 carpet retailers across North America and Canada on February the 18th 2013. . .

Farmers say ‘yes’ to rural stores merger:

Farmer Shareholders in the rural supply co-ops Farmlands and CRT have agreed to merge the two Societies with a majority of Farmlands and CRT Shareholders voting in favour of merger in today’s second special vote.

It means an immediate bonus for Shareholders in both co-ops. A bonus share issue of $32 million shares is being made to shareholders to distribute the retained earnings and unallocated reserves of the two co-operatives prior to merging.

And the two companies will distribute more than $8 million in an interim bonus rebate to Shareholders. This relates to their trading with the two co-operatives over the period 1 July– 31 December 2012. The rebate will be paid in a 60/40 share/cash split. . .

MPI Tech Transfer Survey Supports Red Meat PGP:

The findings of a Ministry for Primary Industries survey of technology transfer to farmers is more evidence of why farmers should want the red meat primary growth partnership programme to go ahead, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen.

The MPI survey says technology transfer has enabled farmers and growers to become world leaders in primary production during three decades of significant structural change. But the sector could now do with a boost because there are too few professionals and they need to be better linked to provide a more integrated approach to sharing new knowledge and information.

“This initiative runs right through our PGP programme that is bringing together the major meat companies, two banks and an accounting firm in an unprecedented collaboration. . .


Rural round-up

November 21, 2012

Fonterra scotches speculation of US$450m Indian acquisition – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has dismissed speculation the company is among potential bidders for India’s Tirumala Milk Products.

The New Zealand cooperative scotched a Times of India report naming it with French food conglomerate Danone as vying for a controlling stake in Hyderabad-based Tirumala, with a spokesman for the dairy exporter calling it “rubbish”. The US$450 million enterprise value figure reported would be material for Fonterra and would need to be disclosed, he said. . .

Water allocation and limit setting in a changing climate – Waiology:

Last week, the Land and Water Forum released its third and final report on water management in New Zealand. It is a substantial piece of collaborative work with 67 recommendations. Number 29 is that allocation limits be set by taking into account “any flow and water level fluctuations caused by seasonal or other climate variations”. While this primarily refers to natural variability, such as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, it’s also important to consider climate change. And along the same lines, last year’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management stated the need to account for the “foreseeable impacts” of climate change.

This is an important issue, as climate change is expected to bring about a raft of changes to New Zealand’s freshwaters (more details on that soon). Among these changes are reductions or increases in the amount of water available for use. Also importantly, climate change makes assessments of future water resources less certain. . .

Fonterra shareholder fund pricing uncertainty leaves Morningstar cold – Paul McBeth:

Investors should steer of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which seeks to raise up to $525 million to reduce the dairy cooperative’s redemption risk, until the units start trading, according to Morningstar Research.

However, the units have too many pricing uncertainties in the bookbuild phase.

The research firm gives a ‘do not subscribe’ recommendation for the fund’s initial public offering, saying Fonterra Cooperative Group lacks pricing power over its dairy commodities, generates low returns compared to its multinational peers, and investors won’t know the price they are paying until after the bookbuild process is completed on Nov. 27. . .

A2 in talks with NZX about shifting to main board – Paul McBeth:

A2 Corp, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, is in talks with the New Zealand Stock Exchange about shifting its listing on the main board.

The company, currently listed on the alternative market, qualifies for listing on the NZX main board, and managing director Geoffrey Babidge says that is a more recognised market and can provide better transparency and investor protection, according to a presentation at today’s annual meeting.

“A move to the NZX main board may provide greater liquidity and increase access to capital,” Babidge said. “To this end, the company has commenced discussions with NZX regarding a move to the NZX main board.” . . .

Kiwifruit vines credited as carbon sinks:

Three years of research by a Bay of Plenty company has found that kiwifruit orchards store a significant quantity of organic carbon in the soil.

PlusGroup Research received funding from the former Ministry of Agriculture’s sustainability farming fund to do the research, which investigated soil samples from more than 120 kiwifruit orchards across different growing regions. . .

Beef + Lamb NZ director elections:

Nominations are being called for two farmer-elected positions on the Board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The positions are for the Western North Island and Central South Island electorates.

Nominations must be submitted on the official form obtained from the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, free phone 0508 666 003. The nominations need to be received by 5 pm on 20 December 2012. . .

Better Look Over Your Shoulder – Fish & Game Warning To Poachers:

The latest camouflaged ‘poacher cams’ are proving their worth in the Rotorua lakes district – giving trout poachers even more reason to look over their shoulder.

That’s according to Eastern Region Fish & Game, which has released information on the number of offenders caught over the last three months.

Fish & Game Officer Anthony van Dorp says that over the past three months (ending November) they’ve dealt with 30 people for a variety of offences ranging from fishing without a licence and fishing closed waters – to serious poaching offences. . .

Celebrating 150 Years in the Valley of Gold & Cardrona Vintage Fair

The historical and picturesque township of Cardrona in the breathtaking Cardrona Valley turns 150 years Gold this year. To celebrate, the iconic Cardrona Hotel and the greater community are opening their doors, hearts and rabbit cookbook’s for a birthday bash guaranteed to delight all ages.

Saturday 8th December – 150 Years of Gold celebration

From the excitement of highly trained heading dogs competing in the Dog Trials to trying your hand at gold panning, the 150 Years of Gold celebrations are local-jam-packed with fun and fascinating events for everyone. . .


Rural round-up

April 17, 2012

The Ploughman’s Lunch - Quote Unquote:

Yesterday we attended the 57th New Zealand Ploughing Championships, held nearby. Thirty-seven farmers had come from as far afield (geddit?) as Temuka, Winton, Asburton and Gore to demonstrate their skill in the conventional (i.e. with a modern tractor), reverse, vintage and horse ploughing (shown above) categories. Judging ploughing is a serious business, requiring assessment of the opening split (10 points), crown (20), main bodywork (40), finish (20), ins and outs (10), general appearance (10) and straightness (20. . .

Last week the Farming Show celebrated its 18th birthday – Farming Show Blog:

It seems only like yesterday two young blokes from Gore took a huge punt by purchasing 4ZG, the first, and only Radio New Zealand station sold to private enterprise.

Even our landlord to be, a delightful old farmer by the name of Bert Horrell, thought we were mad. But once we’d convinced him of our conviction to see this through, he gave us his blessing and some advice I’ve never forgotten. You don’t regret the things you do, you regret the things you don’t do.

What started as a five minute rural segment on a fledgling private radio station way back in 1994, has today grown to a one hour programme broadcast nationwide on a national network. . .

NZ sheep milk heads to Indonesia:

The Prime Minister is in Indonesia pushing New Zealand’s trade links there,  which includes the export of sheep milk there.

Indonesia already has plenty of interest in New   Zealand – in buying our  farm land.

An Indonesian billionaire with close links to former President Suharto’s  family has taken a 50 per cent share in a Southland farming operation based in  Brydon, Winton, and Hedge Hope.

It is a seemingly typical Southland dairy farm, but a closer look shows they  are milking sheep – a flock of 15,000.

Southlander Keith Neylon came up with the idea, saying they produce better  milk than cows. . .

AFFCO and meatworkers both holding firm – Allan Barber:

Getting on for two months into the lock out interspersed with strikes, both sides in this struggle are holding firm. There was a brief moment of hope of some degree of resolution at last week’s mediation, but it appears that after some progress in the morning, it all went downhill in the afternoon with some suggestion the union representatives weren’t all in agreement about what they were after.

At present the meat workers who are union members are in the middle of a seven day strike (or five day depending on your definition of a week) until Friday. However AFFCO says more than half its workforce are on individual employment agreements which means it can continue operating at something close to three quarter capacity. . .

Dexters smallest. oldest UK cattle - Sally Rae:

It’s a long way from Turiwhati to Fairlie.   

 But Dexter cattle enthusiasts Richard and Angela Stevens made  the journey from their West Coast home with their two heifers, Silk and Viyella, to the 114th Mackenzie Highland  Show on Easter Monday.   

 The Dexter breed is the smallest and also one of the oldest types of British cattle. It was the feature breed in the beef  cattle section at the show. . .

A2 signs supply agreement with Synlait Milk:

A2 Corp, the NZAX-listed alternative milk company, has signed a supply agreement with Canterbury processor Synlait Milk as it seeks to launch its infant formula into Asian markets.

The deal will see Synlait Milk source A2 milk from accredited Canterbury suppliers, and manufacture A2 brand nutritional powders for A2 Corp to sell in international markets. With the supply agreement sealed, A2 Corp said it will press on with negotiations to enter into marketing and distribution partnerships. . .

Drive and passion earns upreme title in Otago:

An “enthusiastic and incredibly driven” couple has been named Supreme winners of the 2012 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Blair and Jane Smith run Newhaven Farms Ltd – a North Otago sheep, beef, forestry and dairy support operation that spans three family-owned properties totalling 1528ha.

Their win was announced at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 13. As well as the Supreme award, the Smiths also collected the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Nutrient Management Award, the Massey University Discovery Award, PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award and the Otago Regional Council Sustainable Resource Management Award. . .


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