Rural round-up

December 11, 2012

Irrigation fund project given green light:

Primary Industries Minister David Carter says the go-ahead for the Wairarapa Water Use Project has the potential to irrigate an additional 30,000 to 50,000 hectares of land and boost the area’s GDP by $400 million.

Speaking at the launch of the Business Growth Agenda – Building Natural Resources progress report, Mr Carter welcomed today’s announcement of a $2.5 million pre-feasibility study to develop water storage and distribution in the Wairarapa.

The study is jointly funded by the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. . .

Meat and dairy products lead manufacturing rise:

Meat and dairy products dominated the rise in total manufacturing sales for the September 2012 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the value of total manufacturing sales rose 1.6 percent ($370 million), led by the 9.3 percent ($612 million) increase in meat and dairy product manufacturing.

When price changes are removed, the volume of manufacturing sales rose 2.6 percent, also led by meat and dairy product manufacturing, up 13 percent.

“The volume increase in meat and dairy manufacturing is reflected in the rise of export volumes for dairy and meat products, with increases of 32 percent in dairy, and 15 percent in meat,” industry and labour statistics manager Blair

Wider use of crossbred wools urged – Sally Rae:

Crossbred wool has a future – but its uses need to be diversified instead of just concentrating on carpets.

That is the belief of Arrowtown man Tom Murdoch, a former manager of the Alliance Textiles mill in Oamaru (now Summit Wool Spinners).

Mr Murdoch, who spent 28 years in Oamaru, has had a long involvement with the wool industry.

Before moving to Oamaru, he ran a factory in Mauritius which produced knitted Shetland garments. After leaving North Otago, he got involved in a spinning mill in Bangkok and then helped set up a dye-house. . .

Apathy problems for Wools of New Zealand - Gerald Piddock:

Wools of New Zealand chairman Mark Shadbolt hopes farmer apathy won’t derail the company’s $5 million capital raise following low turnouts at meetings nationwide.

One of the final meetings of the wool company’s nationwide roadshow in Waimate last week drew only about 20 farmers.

Overcoming the apathy shown by farmers was their biggest challenge. The small audience at Waimate was typical of the turnout at the meetings, Mr Shadbolt said.

The meetings are to promote Wools of New Zealand’s prospectus, asking wool growers to invest at least $5 million to buy shares in the company and to commit wool for deals to high-end users such as airlines, hotels, luxury apartments and cruise ships. . .

Two appointments made to Dairy Women’s Network Board:

The Dairy Women’s Network has welcomed two new trustees to its Board, Maree Crowley-Hughes from Thornbury and Robyn Judd from Oamaru.

A hands-on farmer and experienced business woman, Maree and husband Peter Hughes own seven farms in Southland and Otago, which collectively milk 5000 cows producing more than two million kilograms of milk solids per year. . .

Cardno said. . .

Knives Out For Former Meatworks:

The former AFFCO meat killing and processing plant at Taumarunui in the Central North Island has been placed on the market for sale – at less than five per cent of what it was once worth.

The 10,000 square metre plant – sitting on 5.5 hectares of land – was once valued at $18million during its peak production period in the 1980s and 1990s. The plant was made redundant in 2009 and has largely remained idle ever since.

The huge site adjacent to State Highway 4 is now being marketed for sale by Bayleys Hamilton at an auction being held on December 13. Jim McKinlay of Bayleys Hamilton said the vendor’s price expectations was upwards of $450,000. . .

And ACC Minister Judith Collins in ACC’s new milking shed safety apron:

milking apron


Rural round-up

June 11, 2012

Win-win at last for AFFCO and workers –  Allan Barber:

It was a hell of a long time coming, but the return to work for AFFCO’s workforce, or at least the half who were on strike or locked out, has finally arrived.

95% of the union members ratified the settlement by Monday last week which is a substantial majority, although it makes me wonder why the other 5% still wanted to hold out. Both sides are heralding a good outcome which I suppose is what you would say after a three month dispute has been settled. . .

Happy cows,decreased farm expenses:

Cow behaviour expert, Darold Klindworth, says farmers need to identify the signs of cow stress to improve the milking experience for their animals and staff.

He says by making a few changes to the milking process, farmers can make a real impact on a farm’s bottom line.

“When a cow is stressed, it can lead to lower milk yields, increased milking time and higher animal health costs. Plus, if your cows are stressed and acting out, that often creates stress for staff as well,” says Mr Klindworth. . .

Mystery man reveals big plans – Andrea Fox:
Energy is radiating off Jon Calder like a force field in the foggy Fieldays air.

Around him the huge Mystery Creek site is seething with preparations for the 44th agricultural extravaganza’s opening on Wednesday but, far from looking overwhelmed by the responsibility of presenting his first Fieldays, the man is grinning like a kid at Christmas. . .

Lifestylers aid innovation – Tim Cronshaw:

The perception that lifestyle blocks are eating up productive land is not always true, say tree crop growers.

Growers believe the top land with the best soils should be protected for productive soil-based activities, but point to good incomes being made from lifestyle blocks and small landholdings.

New Zealand Tree Crops Association president Murray Redpath said most of the association’s 1500 members were small-block owners trying to make productive use of their land. . 


Rural round-up

May 13, 2012

Cartels versus babies - Offsetting Behaviour:

Canada’s dairy cartel keeps milk product prices up. Baby formula is one pretty obvious example.
Here in New Zealand, a 900 gram can of baby formula (starter, for newborns) ranges in price from $15 for one that’s on special, to $20-$21 for the most popular brands, to $34 for the ones that give babies superpowers. We supplemented with the brand that’s now $21 per can. The NZ price range then, per kilo and in Canadian dollars at $1 NZ = $0.79 Cdn, is $13-$30; the one we typically bought was $18 Cdn. Unfortunately, the link might redirect to Countdown’s main site. A screenshot is below. . .

Omarama family wins clip of the year – Sally Rae:

The Sutherland family, from Benmore Station, has been awarded the Otago Merino Association’s clip-of-the-year title.   

Bill and Kate Sutherland, and Andrew and Deidre Sutherland,      from Omarama, received the award during The New Zealand Merino Company’s conference in Christchurch . . .   

Change a vital part of fine-wool revolution – Sally Rae:

Changes are inevitable. Not only is that now the motto of  luxury Italian woollen fabric manufacturer Reda, but it was    also a statement that was repeated during the New Zealand    Merino Company’s recent conference in Christchurch.   

The conference brought together about 600 growers and industry partners from around the globe. . .  

Farm holds long family history – Sally Rae:

 The Maclean family, of Omakau, will next year mark 60 years of breeding Southdown sheep.   

Don Maclean started the Bellfield Southdown stud in 1953 and the stud now encompasses 120 ewes.   

 Bellfield was one of 11 properties visited during the New  Zealand Southdown southern tour which was hosted in Otago and  Southland last week.   

 The property is farmed by Donny and Cathy Maclean, their  daughter Kate, and Mr Maclean’s parents, Don and Win . . .

Rates rises close to $5,000 – Gerald Piddock:

Waimate farmers are crying foul after being faced with a dramatic increase in rates for the 2012-2013 year.

The proposed increases will see some farmers pay out nearly $5000 more in rates than they did last year, Federated Farmers South Canterbury Waimate branch chairman Colin Hurst said.

“One farmer’s rates are increasing 37 per cent from just over $13,000 to around $18,000. . .

Barns to keep cows cosy in winter weather – Shawn McAvinue:

What prompts a 94-year-old dairy farm owner to build structures of biblical proportions to keep animals from the driving rain? Shawn McAvinue reports.

Eastern Southland dairy farm owner Dugald McKenzie, 94, looks up at the frame of one of the two wintering barns he is having built on his dairy farm near Edendale and estimates the size of the structure.

“It’s not quite as long as Noah’s Ark, but it’s slightly wider.”. .

Talleys immovable in dispute – Jon Morgan:

After 10 weeks of worker protests, punctuated by fruitless talks and exchanges of lock-out and strike threats, the Affco-meatworkers dispute is no closer to resolution.

The bitterness of the dispute – over pay and conditions for 1000 union workers at eight plants – comes as no surprise to anyone in the meat industry.

The protagonists, the Talley family on one side and the Meatworkers Union on the other, are an irresistible force coming up against an immovable object – or, as one industry source puts it, “a rock hitting a rock”. . .

“Manawhenua” the value placed upon land within the Maori culture – Pasture to Profit:

“Manawhenua” is one of the operating values of the Kapenga M Farming Trust. The exact English translation of “Manawhenua” is difficult to explain. However it relates to the pride and soul of Maori people & their attachment to traditional lands. Manawhenua is about creating links between the people & the land. The concept of ‘mana whenua’ has many layers of meaning. It tells of important relationships that Māori have with whenua (land) and of the value placed upon the land within the culture . . .

Sealord’s mussel farms up for sale:

Sealord Group is selling its last few South Island mussel farms and closing its Tahunanui factory, bringing down the curtain on what was once the biggest mussel operation in the South Island.

All 50 workers – 10 operating the farms and 40 at the Beatty St factory – are being offered new roles within Sealord.

The company announced yesterday that it wanted to focus more on its core fishing business. . .

Synlait Milk to supply colostrum to ASX-listed Immuron:

Synlait Milk, the Canterbury milk processor controlled by China’s Bright Dairy, has signed a deal to supply colostrum to ASX-listed biopharmaceutical company Immuron.

No value was put on the agreement.

Synlait spokesman Michael Wan said the company planned a production run of the “hyperimmune colostrum” in October.

While volumes would be small compared to Synlait’s total production, it was high-end in terms of value. . .

Primary industry working together to grow its people:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) was officially launched in Wellington last night.

The initiative was warmly received by an audience of influential leaders in the primary industry. The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. David Carter presented at the launch along with several other speakers.

PICA is a collaboration between DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, New Zealand Young Farmers, AgITO, Lincoln and Massey Universities, Federated Farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

High expectations met by North Island Farming to Succeed programme:

Daniel Baker says this year’s North Island Farming to Succeed programme has shown him that farm ownership is possible for his generation. Daniel is currently a sole charge farm manager milking 280 cows near Te Awamutu for the Ferris family.

“I’ve been dairy farming since I left school at 16,” says the 28-year-old. “I grew up with an agricultural background in sheep and beef, rearing calves, dairy farming and my father’s agricultural contracting business. I chose to go into dairy because of lifestyle reasons.”

He was motivated to apply for Farming to Succeed after hearing good things about the programme from previous attendees . . .


Nelson trip exercise in futility

May 10, 2012

Goodness only knows what striking meatworkers thought they’d achieve by going to Nelson to put their case to the Talley family.

It was an exercise in futility summed up by Allan Barber:

. . . this isn’t a dispute that will be resolved by the employer’s sympathy for the plight of workers who are out of work, but by constructive negotiation between the parties. This is where it gets difficult, because there doesn’t appear to be any constructive desire by the Meat Workers Union or its members to try to understand what AFFCO or its owners actually want.

The union contents itself with repeating platitudes about hard nosed, union bashing employers not being willing to make any concessions which would enable its members to get back to work. In the meantime families suffer, union members increasingly resign from the union and sign individual agreements, and the season continues without the locked out or striking workers. But it will all be over by the end of June because there won’t be any more meaningful plant throughput that can’t be handled quite easily by non union workers.

AFFCO, and make no mistake AFFCO is the employer, not the Talley family members, wants to achieve a clear, modern and flexible collective agreement which reflects today’s meat industry. The days of thirty or forty years ago when the Meat Workers Union representatives cut their teeth in the industry are long gone. Sheep numbers have more than halved, prime cattle volumes are down and the biggest single species is boner cows destined for the US grinding trade. . .

My father was a carpenter at the freezing works several decades ago when strikes were much more common.

Being on the maintenance staff he was usually not directly affected but I remember him talking about the short-sighted actions of the strikers, often losing more pay on the days they had off than they’d gain in pay increases which was often what they were striking for.

Then, though, the balance of power was in the workers’ favour. Stock numbers were high and increasing and there was pressure on killing space, especially during droughts when farms ran short of feed.

The ag-sag of the 80s and subsequent drop in stock numbers changed the balance and the AFFCO workers couldn’t have chosen a worse season to try to exert pressure on their employers.

All meat companies are having a very difficult year. Stock is in short supply and there’s a falling market which means AFFCO probably isn’t losing much by having staff on strike.

The Meatworkers Union is trying to keep last century’s work practices which are unaffordable and inappropriate in 2012.


Rural round-up

April 21, 2012

Crafar decision imposes defacto tax on foreigners says lawyer – Rob Hosking:

There is still a higher hurdle for foreigners buying New Zealand land after today’s decision, says Wellington lawyer Mark Ford.

The decision by ministers to approve the deal for Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin to buy the 7892 hectare, 16 Crafar Farms properties is accompanied by a series of conditions . . .

Good riddance baby boomers; Why the sale of the Crafar Farms to the Chinese serves you right, from generation Y - Alex Tarrant:

I’ve been asked to pen my thoughts as a Gen-Yer over the sale of the Crafar Farms to a Chinese company

Well, I have to say, I’m actually loving watching and hearing our Baby Boomer politicians, media commentators, and talkback hosts getting all up in arms over it.

What a travesty, they all argue, the way we sell to the highest foreign bidder. These farms shouldn’t be allowed to be sold overseas. Kiwis can’t compete with the vast hordes of cash foreigners have.

First of all, I don’t buy that. If a Kiwi investor, or a group of Kiwis, believed it was economical enough to pay what Pengxin’s offering for those 16 run-down farms, I’m sure they would have found the money.

We supposedly know about farming here. We supposedly know the economics behind it. We supposedly know the business models.

The fact no Kiwi bidder put up over NZ$210 million for the farms should be a sign that Pengxin is paying way too much for them. So good luck trying to turn it into an economic business. Let them pick up the pieces for a failed piece of lending by Westpac and Rabobank. . .

From socialite to sheep farmer:

It is an extraordinary landscape – one of this country’s iconic high country  stations and it is up for sale.

For the last eight years Canterbury’s Castle Hill has been owned by Christine  Fernyhough – the one time darling of the Auckland social scene and now a  successful sheep farmer. . .

Video here.

Legendary farming education centre for sale:

A pioneering rural education institution that taught thousands of young New Zealanders the rudimentary skills of farming has been placed on the marked for sale.

Flock House near Bulls in the Manawatu was founded in 1924 and was initially used to accommodate and train the sons of British Naval personnel who died during World War One.

In 1947 the school was opened to young New Zealand boy aged between 14 – 18 years of age wishing to gain an education in farming. The introduction of a ‘full fee’ structure in the 1980s led to a dramatic fall in student numbers, and in 1988 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries which administered Flock House, closed the centre. . .

Little impact on farmers from latest strike:

Affco says the latest strike action from the Meat Workers Union will have little impact on farmers sending stock for processing.

The latest strike began at 5:00am this morning. The week-long strike is the 16th by the union since negotiations over a collective agreement started in December.

Affco Operations Director, Rowan Ogg said all of Affco’s plants are fully operational with the majority of Affco’s staff not impacted by the dispute and many union members had chosen not to strike. “Good conditions through summer and autumn also mean there is no shortage of feed giving farmers more flexibility in when they send stock away.” . .

Last call for applications for 2012 farm managers’ programme:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for young farmers to join this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, a course specifically designed to strengthen the operational and strategic management skills of emerging farm leaders.

The program, now in its seventh year, is open to all progressive young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia from a range of agricultural commodities. .


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. . .


Rural round-up

March 27, 2012

Fertiliser Use Increases As Farmers Reinvest In The Land:

Total fertiliser use on New Zealand farms increased for the first time in three years in the 2010/11 fertiliser year, reaching just over 3 million tonnes.

This is a significant increase in fertiliser use compared to the previous year, which was 2.3 million tonnes, but is below the peak use of 3.3 million tonnes recorded in 2004/05 and close to total fertiliser use in 2007/08 of 3.1 million tonnes.

The fertiliser use data are reported in the March edition of Fertiliser Matters, published by Fert Research. . .

New Zealand…A Place Where Talent Wants To Live & Proudly Farm –  Pasture to Profit:

“New Zealand…A Place Where Talent Wants To Live” this was the NZ strategic vision that Sir Paul Callaghan(New Zealander of the year 2011 & ex Massey University Scientist) spoke so passionately about before his death last week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related  Sir Paul Callaghan was a world class scientist, leader & a passionate advocate for a better more prosperous New Zealand. . .

Are You Using Farm Business Management “Apps” on Your Farm? – Pasture to Profit:

The Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management is a joint virtual centre of the Farm Management Departments at both Massey & Lincoln Universities in New Zealand. The Centre is conducting a number of research projects in Farm Business Management. One of those projects is investigating what Apps (Applications) are available for IPhones/IPads & Android mobile phones.  . .

If You Don’t Measure You Can’t Control…Basic Pasture Management! - Pasture to Profit:

What’s going on? Have New Zealand dairy farmers taken their eye off the ball…..or even worse “lost the plot”? What has happened to their famous pasture grazing skills?

 Throughout the low cost pasture dairying world NZ farmers have a reputation of being expert grazing managers & very efficient users of low cost pasture. Is this still true? From my observations I’d say it’s no longer the case that NZ farmers are the best in the world.  . .

We All Cast Our Shadow on The Environment..NZ Landcare Trust Conference - Pature to Profit:

  “We are born into the shadow of our parents & eventually we create our own shadow”. Powerful story telling from George Matthews (a NZ Landcare Trustee) opened the NZ Landcare Trust Conference in Hamilton NZ.

Although his Maori proverb has to do with life itself….we all do cast our shadow on the environment in which we live & farm. Our Earth’s environment is in trouble. It was Albert Einstein who said that …” Insanity: was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”      . . .

The changing face of the global dairy industry – Dr Jon Hauser:

Australia – A switch from cooperatives to private processors

The Australian dairy industry has undergone vast changes over the last ten years. The biggest shift is in the composition of ownership of the industry; Bonlac, Bega, Tatura, Warnambool Cheese, Dairy Farmers, Challenge Dairy … almost all the major milk processors except Murray Goulburn have gone from being cooperatives to private processors.

In just over a decade 65 per cent of Australian milk, from all states, has been lost to the farmer co-operative sector. This is a monumental change in the culture and direction of the industry. . .

Meat and dairy prices off their peak for now  but outlook positive – Allan Barber:

The recent fall in Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade on line auction for the fifth time in six months means global dairy prices have fallen by 9% since last May and by 24% over the season when adjusted for the value of theNew Zealanddollar. The dollar has only just come off historical highs against both the UKpound and the euro, so the combined effect on our dairy, beef and lamb exports has been disappointing to say the least.

But the outlook in the medium term is still good, provided our exports are not derailed by one or more of the dire forecasts of Greek debt default, general lack of buoyancy inUKand Europe, and the lower growth forecast in China. . .

AFFCO able to operate despite lock-out - Allan Barber:

Interested observers of the argument between AFFCO and its unionised meat workers may be confused by a state of affairs which results in a portion of the workforce being locked out, another percentage going on strike in support of their colleagues, and the rest of the workforce being able to keep production going. Read the rest of this entry »


Rural round up

March 1, 2012

US dairy lobby drops oppostion to NZ export access:

An American dairy producers’ group has dropped its longstanding opposition to New Zealand dairy exports being included in the nine-country trade talks known as the TransPacific Partnership, or TPP.

The backdown by the United States Dairy Export Council comes as New Zealand negotiators prepare to take on the US over dairy access in the talks. . .

NZ Farming Systems ekes out $US 367000 1h profit:

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer that was bailed out by Singaporean owner Olam International, eked out a small profit in the first half on higher milk sales and a one-time accounting gain on he value of livestock.

Profit was US$367,000 in the six months ended Dec. 31, from a loss of $6.77 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales jumped 81 percent to $34 million.

Farming Systems first-half result would have been a loss of $5.1 million, if not for a fair-value adjustment on livestock of US$5.5 million. In the year-earlier period there was no adjustment.. .

North Island beef processing competition heats up - Allan Barber:

In spite of the slow start to theNorthIslandseason, currently 18% behind last year, forecasts suggest it will catch up, even exceed last season. But it is certain to come late with dairy farmers likely to keep milking as long as they can, unless we get an unseasonably cold early winter. What’s also certain is there will be plenty of processing capacity to handle it, especially when the Te Aroha rebuild is finished. . .

Battle of employment philosophies spreading – Allan Barber:

The weekend’s announcement by AFFCO of a lockout at five of itsNorth Islandmeat plants comes hard on the heels of the three week strike by the Ports of Auckland stevedores, following several months of increasingly acrimonious negotiations.

 Unless it gets agreement to its proposal, AFFCO intends to lock out 758 of its meat workers covered under the Core Collective Agreement which expired last September and which the company has been trying to renegotiate unsuccessfully with the Meat Workers Union for some months now. . .

Cooper’s resignation signals broader meat industry frsutration – Allan Barber:

Keith Cooper’s resignation from the board of Beef & Lamb New Zealand, sudden as it appeared to be, had been brewing for a time. Cooper had previously expressed frustration with farmer directors’ lack of commercial awareness, terming it naivety, and obviously believed B&LNZ was getting involved in areas it should leave to the meat companies, such as market development. . .

Australian Dairy conference – the use of social media by dairy farmers- Pasture to Profit:

“Consumers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” This was one of the powerful messages from Charlie Arnot CEO of the Centre of Food Integrity (@foodintegrity, @charlie_Arnot) presented at the Australian Dairy conference (#ausdairy) in Warragul, Victoria, Australia.

Charlie spoke of the need for all farmers to acquire a “Social License to operate” by building trust with not only the local community but in fact all consumers & customers of the food farmers produce.  http://www.foodintegrity.org/   Trying to defend farmers & farming practices by arguing with science or attacking the attackers is clearly failing. . .

Smart on-farm management is good risk maangement - Pasture to Profit:

Simple low cost On farm management changes can substantially contribute to a better environmental outcome. This is a really powerful & positive message to come out of the Massey University’s Fertilizer & Lime Research Centre’s conference held last week at Massey’s campus at Palmerston North, NZ.

Over 3 days there were papers from researchers, consultants, farmers, Regional Councils, the fertilizer industry & environmental groups…..


Affco profit down, dividend cancelled

November 27, 2009

Affco has announced a 57.9% drop in net profit to $25.37 million for the year to September 30  and is cancelling its final dividend because of uncertainty over the future.

Last season started well with farmers receiving reasonable prices for lambs after several years of dismal returns and Alliance Meats made  an operating surplus of $42.1 million from a turnover of $1.5 billion in the same period.

But Silver Fern Farms would have only made a profit of less than $7m if it hadn’t received the one-off payment of $37m from PGG Wrightson in compensation for its failed merger bid.

Calls for changes to the meat industry died down last season when prices improved. This announcement from Affco, following SFF’s disappointing result and expectations of lower prices this season will reignite debate on where the industry should go and the best way to get it there.


Affco rehires workers

April 3, 2009

A sharp drop in the sheep population following last summer’s drought and the drop in the number of capital stock because of dairy conversions is expected to shorten the killing season.

However the news isn’t all bad for freezing workers.

Affco’s Wanganui freezing works has had such an influx of lambs they’ve rehired 260 workers who were laid off three weeks ago.


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