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. . .


Rural round-up

June 25, 2014

Neighbours to sheep shooting worried:

Neighbours of a North Otago farm where nearly 200 sheep have been shot say they also fear what will happen next.

Police are investigating the unexplained slaughter in Ngapara, 30km inland from Oamaru at the weekend. Peter Stackhouse discovered the dead sheep, and others wandering injured, at sites about 1km inside his farm over two successive nights.

On Saturday morning, he found 110 sheep that had been killed and though he shifted the flock, another 80 hoggets were killed on Saturday night.

Mr Stackhouse said the the killing of his stock was a great shock and he was not sleeping well, worrying about what will happen next. Although the sheep were shot, he had not found any spent cartridges or bullets. . .

Lincoln and Canterbury – is a merger the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote how Lincoln University is facing hard times, and is shedding lecturing staff in core areas of land-based education. I suggested one solution could be for Lincoln to become much more focused on its true areas of specialisation and to greatly reduce the managerial and marketing spend which has recently ballooned. The other alternative is to link with Canterbury University.

Unfortunately, the first alternative is unlikely to occur. It would require the senior management team to reverse key policies with which they are collectively associated.

So the other alternative of joining with Canterbury University now needs careful scrutiny. The Tertiary Education Commission stated earlier this year that in its opinion New Zealand had too many Universities, and if that really is the case then Lincoln surely has to be first cab off the rank. Also, Lincoln’s Vice Chancellor (VC) himself said some two years back that, if his proposed growth strategy failed, then the alternative would be to join “the fine university down the road”. . .

Sex and inbreeding (in bees) – Peter K Dearden:

Tomorrow I am speaking at the National Bee Keepers Association conference in Whanganui and thought I might write a bit about what we have been doing to help me get things clear.

Much of my research work is on bees; trying to learn how they work, trying to find new ways to protect them and, occasionally doing research to help the beekeeping industry.

Beekeeping is a reasonably large business in New Zealand, making over $100 Million per annum in bee-related exports. More importantly, it is estimated that Bees bring $5.1 Billion each year to the New Zealand economy through pollination. Bees are a vital part of our primary production sector and we need to care about them. . .

Alliance venison plants cleared for China:

The Alliance meat group has had a breakthrough in getting both of its venison processing plants certified to supply the China market, that doubles the number of listed New Zealand venison plans to four.

New Zealand has had a long established trade in deer velvet or antler to China and some other deer products.

But venison is relatively new to that market. . .

Return to profit: Blue Sky smiling – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats’ return to profitability spells an end to about two and-a-half years of turmoil in the international sheep meat industry, chairman Graham Cooney says.

Directors were ”quite rightly proud” of how the Southland-based company had not only survived but moved forward in a time when the sheep meat processing and exporting industry had reputedly lost $200 million, he said.

The company has recorded a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March. . . .

South Canterbury ag-student is finalist in Green Agriculture Innovation Award:

Twenty-year old University student Genevieve Steven, of Timaru, is the winner of the Viafos Youth Award, putting her in the running against nine other finalists as the supreme award winner of the inaugural Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) in New Zealand.

The youngest contender for the award, Ms Steven is in her second year at Lincoln University on a DairyNZ scholarship studying biochemistry, animal sciences, plant sciences, soil science and management papers.

Her ultimate goal is a move into biological farming. “I would like to be an educator and advisor to farmers already using the principles of biological farming, but also take the concept of ‘biological farming’ to those who don’t know much about it. I enjoy the challenge of changing people’s perceptions.” . . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

2014 Young Viticulturist of the Year set to be the biggest and best yet:

With just two weeks to go until the first regional rounds of Young Viticulturist of The Year 2014, this year’s competition is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet! Now in its ninth year Young Viticulturist of The Year will host a fourth regional competition for the first time with Wairarapa Winegrowers, joining Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.

Competition organiser, Emma Taylor said “Since the success of Braden Crosby from Borthwick Estate who was the 2012 national champion, it seems that many viticulturists in the Wairarapa region have been inspired by him and there is now enough interest for Wairarapa to hold their own round of the competition.” Braden Crosby will use his experience as a past competitor to shape the competition which will be held at Te Kairanga Winery on the 30th July alongside the regional Silver Secateurs competition. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 1, 2014

Alliance director ‘a real Kiwi chick’  – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s newest independent director Vanessa Stoddart describes the meat industry as being ”at the heart” of New Zealand. She talked to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae during the company’s inaugural Pure South conference in Queenstown this week.

Vanessa Stoddart loves transforming big companies and cultures.

Last month, the Auckland-based businesswoman with an impressive resume was appointed to the board of Alliance Group as an independent director. . .

Bigger ‘not better’in dairy industry - Sally Rae:

Big is not necessarily better.

That was the message from Alliance Group independent director Graeme Milne to suppliers attending the company’s inaugural Pure South conference in Queenstown this week.

Mr Milne, who has a 30-year involvement in the dairy industry, was chief executive of the New Zealand Dairy Group prior to the formation of Fonterra.

Among various other directorships, he is chairman of Mid Canterbury dairy-processor Synlait. He was appointed to Alliance Group’s board last year. . .

One woman and her dog  – Sahiban Kanwal:

Nicky Thompson believes you have got to have the hunger to be better than the best.

Women taking part in sheep dog trial championships in New Zealand was unheard of 50 years ago.

These days, however, Thompson, from Omihi in North Canterbury, is living proof of an ever-changing farming community.

Thompson is one of the competitors at the New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships at Waihi Station, near Geraldine, throughout this week. . .

Alliance considering pool payment - Lynda Gray:

A pool payment – the first in two years – could be on the cards for Alliance shareholders.

The cautiously optimistic promise was delivered by Alliance chairman Murray Taggart on the first day of the meat company’s inaugural supplier conference in Queenstown.

Also announced was the planned rollout on October 1 of a new yield payment system based on different price premiums for the primal shoulder, leg, and loin cuts. . .

More to Mt Hutt than just snow:

Iconic is an overused word these days, but occasionally it is justified – as in the case of Mt Hutt Station and not just because it covers the lower slopes of the Mid-Canterbury plains’ most visible landmark.

Its status – both nationally and internationally – is in no small part because of Mt Hutt Station’s owners, the Hood family. Because of the Hoods, Mt Hutt Station is now indelibly linked with large-scale deer farming.

For more than 35 years the property has been developed and farmed by the Hood family after Keith and his late brother Doug purchased the station in 1978. By the early 1990s, the station that had once run up to 14,000 ewes, was virtually totally deer. The station is now farmed by Keith and his wife Dennise, along with their son Bruce and daughter-in- law Becky. . .

It's World Milk Day today! To join the global celebrations we will share some fun facts about #milk today with you. Around the world, 87,717 glasses of milk are consumed every second of every day. Amazing, isn’t it? Like if you agree! #fonterra #funfacts #worldmilkday

Confidence expressed in industry’s future :

New Zealand’s largest deer farmer, Landcorp Farming, has confidence in the future of the deer industry, said its general manager of farm operations.

Addressing the Deer Industry New Zealand conference in Methven recently, Graeme Mulligan said the company was confident in the future of deer farming.

While Landcorp’s reliance on dairying would grow considerably, it was still keen to be in the deer industry.

Deer provided a diversity of product mix to the business and featured in its revenue strategy. . .


Rural round-up

April 19, 2014

Dairy NZ says won’t be water ‘whipping boy’ any more -   Lynn Grieveson:

Dairy NZ says the dairy industry is no longer willing to be the “whipping boy” for any decreasing water quality of New Zealand’s streams and rivers, while Fish and Game has called for a public inquiry into the water quality issue.

Both groups appeared before Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Select Committee on Thursday to discuss the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on water quality, which described the problem of nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Chairman of DairyNZ John Luxton, standing in for Rick Pridmore, Dairy NZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability, said some of our most polluted streams and rivers were in urban areas. . . .

 

China, food and NZInc - Ketih Woodford:

The latest statistics show that New Zealand exports to China continue to surge. In the 12 months to February 2014, milk powder and beef exports each more than doubled, sheep meat sales increased by 80%, and log sales increased by 65%. Overall, exports to China increased from $7.1 billion to 10.9 billion, comprising 22% of total exports.

This overall percentage figure is not in itself a record. Both before and during the 1960s we were much more dependent than this on Britain, and in 1989 our exports to Japan reached 18% of total exports, before declining to the current figure of less than 6%. Nevertheless, the sheer speed of the increase in exports to China is causing concern both to commentators and the industries themselves.

I see no point in worrying about increasing reliance on China as a market destination. It is a simple reality that trade with China is going to increase a lot further yet. As long as the Chinese continue to pay more than other markets, then that is where the products will go. . .

 Good turn-out of forestry conference – Joanna Grigg:

Gray skies did not dampen the enthusiasm of 280 foresters and tree enthusiasts at the recent New Zealand Farm Forestry Association conference in Marlborough.

Field trips were a big part of the four-day programme, organised by the Marlborough Tree Growers Association.

An eclectic group of farmers, corporate foresters, scientists, and plant people had the chance to see radiata pine forests in the Marlborough Sounds, eucalyptus for durable post-production, amenity plantings for farms, and machinery to harvest trees safely on steep land. . .

Lorneville rendering plant commissioned:

LEADING MEAT processor and exporter Alliance Group has completed commissioning the second stage of its $25 million new rendering plant at Lorneville near Invercargill.

The plant produces high quality meat meal sought by pet food manufacturers and for animal feeds, as well as tallow for use in a range of applications from cosmetics to biofuels. The products are exported to international markets such as China, North America, Europe and Asia.

It incorporates the latest technology including a Press Dewatering System, which uses less energy and produces high quality products. The process, is virtually “zero waste”, resulting in high product yields and low wastewater output. . .

Food safety professional development:

AN INCREASINGLY sophisticated food industry stemming from the globalised nature of food production also means more complex issues around food safety and security.

With New Zealand’s heavy reliance on exporting primary produce, this demands robust knowledge and constant up-skilling in the processes and requirements of food safety and security by industry professionals.

Lincoln University, through its Centre for Food Research and Innovation, is now running a series of ongoing professional development courses for those in the food industry. . .

New DairyNZ director appointed:

A new independent director has been appointed to the board of dairy farming industry body, DairyNZ.

DairyNZ board chairman John Luxton says Peter Schuyt has been appointed to replace independent director John Spencer who has stepped down after his term on the board. “I thank John for his excellent contribution to both DairyNZ and to the New Zealand dairy industry over many years.”

John says Peter will be a valuable addition to the board.

“We have three independent directors as well as five farmer-elected members. Peter will bring some broad experience to the table as he is an independent director for a broad range of New Zealand businesses,” he says. . .

Aquaculture New Zealand welcomes Supreme Court decision:

Aquaculture New Zealand has welcomed the long awaited Supreme Court decision clearing the way for three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

“It has been a long, expensive and uncertain process to get to this point,” said Aquaculture New Zealand Chairman Bruce Hearn.

“Hopefully we are now at a point where New Zealand King Salmon can proceed with their growth plans and get on with what they do best – sustainably producing the world’s best salmon. . .


Rural round-up

April 7, 2014

Understanding Fonterra gets even harder – Pattrick Smellie:

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

First: the Canterbury rebuild.

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

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

Not so.. .

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

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

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

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

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

Farmers walk the environmental talk – Alan Wills:

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

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

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

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

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

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too:

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

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

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

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

Tikorangi dairy farm takes top Taranaki award:

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

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

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

Precision farmers feature of Fert and Lime Conference:

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

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

 

 

 


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 11, 2014

Dairy Women’s Network’s community leadership award finalists announced -

The Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) has announced the three dairy farming women who have been selected as finalists for its annual Dairy Community Leadership Award.

They are Chris Paterson from Rotorua, and Megan McCracken and Ann Kearney, both from Kerikeri.

The award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women play in leading their communities by sharing their time and skills beyond the boundaries of their own farm gates.

The winner of the award will receive a $2500 scholarship to attend a leadership programme of their choice in New Zealand. . .

Ahuwhenua Trophy farms to have field days - Stephen Bell:

The three Ahuwhenua Trophy Maori farming award finalists will open their farms to the public through onfarm field days.

Putauaki Trust–Himiona Farm, Ngati Awa Farms, and Ngakauroa Farm from Bay of Plenty, and Te Rua o Te Moko from Taranaki are having field days today, Friday, and next Wednesday. 

After the recent Fish and Game New Zealand survey Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink said this is the best antidote. . .

Meating the market 100 years - Andrew Ashton:

A week of celebrations to mark the 100-year-old link between the people of Oamaru and the Pukeuri meat processing plant began on Friday with a centennial reunion for past and present employees.

Joyce McDougall (90) started work at the plant in 1951, and was one of the first women to be employed. She said Friday’s ”meet and greet”, in Oamaru, had been a chance to catch up with past colleagues.

”I just wanted to come and see how they have all weathered.” . . .

https://twitter.com/NZBeefLamb/status/443151118780993536

Irrepressible 234 selected as link ram: – Sally Rae:

When it comes to prolific breeding, it does not get much better than Lochern 234-07.

The Perendale stud ram, bred and owned by Alan and Annette Williamson, from Ida Valley, has been selected as a link ram for the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test, which aims to help sheep farmers identify the best genetics across sheep breeds.

The ram’s selection required about 1500 straws of semen to be collected, which would be used in all five trial sites throughout New Zealand over the next four years.

Mr and Mrs Williamson already had 200 straws in storage from last season, so when they were combined, it could result in about 2500 new progeny, Mr Williamson said. . . .

Rural sector makes beefy contribution to urban Christchurch:

They may not be turning the same kind of dollar as their dairy farming counterparts right now, but when it comes to contributing to Christchurch city’s economy, sheep and beef farmers are leading the way.

That’s according to recent research by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) which was commissioned by Aqualinc Research to examine expenditure flows into Christchurch from local farms and their households.

The research, which focused on farms from the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts, also included an assessment of the expenditure in Christchurch from rural businesses as a result of serving those farms and their households, as well as an assessment of employment generated on account of these expenditure flows. . .

Meet David Brunton who believes the future of agriculture demands professionalism, thoroughness and tenacity – Art4Agriculture:

Today’s guest post comes from budding young plant doctor David Brunton

“I like to think that things that start as a dream usually turns into reality, if you are willing to work hard with diligence, motivation and passion towards it. These dreams usually seem unachievable at the start however the pathway on which we choose to chase these dreams ultimately determines the outcome”.

My name is David Brunton and my story begins as a young child on the farm, getting my hands dirty, driving the machinery and ultimately paving a pathway towards my future ambitions. Not only did I grow up in the best location for a child, the wide open spaces of the country, but I also never had to put up with any siblings. We (my parents and I) farm two hours west of Melbourne, at Vite Vite North in Victoria’s western district running a mixed farming enterprise of super fine merinos, prime lambs and winter cereals. . .

Fonterra Milk for Schools Hits the High Seas:

The ships have set sail to deliver nearly 5,000 Fonterra Milk for Schools milk packs to Kiwi kids on the Chatham, Stewart, and Great Barrier islands.

Around 160 children from 17 schools across the islands now have the opportunity to join their mainland friends to drink milk every school day.

Operations Manager In-School Programmes, Louise Aitken, says the Co-operative wants to make sure that all Kiwi kids year one to six and their schools have the opportunity to be part of the programme.

“Bringing schools on board in the Chatham, Stewart, and Great Barrier islands demonstrates what Fonterra Milk for Schools is all about – making great dairy nutrition accessible to New Zealand kids no matter where they are,” says Ms Aitken. . .

https://twitter.com/Fonterra/status/443147066651316225


Rural round-up

December 22, 2013

Meat industry looks interesting for 2014 - Allan Barber:

Next year will be an interesting one for the red meat sector with highlights predicted to include improved sheepmeat prices compared with last season, the probability of a procurement battle for fewer lambs and prime cattle, continuing work with research funding and the efforts of new MIE sympathetic directors on the boards of SFF and Alliance.

The big question will be whether the discussions about industry restructuring will actually achieve anything and how much impact the new cooperative boards can have on those efforts. So far we know SFF, Alliance and ANZCO have already talked to the government about introducing some form of tradable slaughter rights, but have been rejected.

There is support for a merger of the two cooperatives from a number of farmers, although retiring chairman, Eion Garden, stated at the AGM on 18th December that a merger wasn’t necessarily the right answer. He said there was no point in creating a bigger version of the same thing, but there was a need for an innovative structure to deliver a ‘great’ outcome. . .

Early Christmas present for sheep farmers:

Meat company Lean Meats has announced a bonus payment to its farmer supplier shareholders after a stronger company performance in 2013.

Lean Meats chief executive Richard Thorp today announced a return to its Atkins Ranch Producer Group (ARPG) providing shareholder farmer suppliers an average of 31 cents a kilogram or $5.74 a lamb.

This year’s payment is split with an average of $1.85 per head paid at six weeks after processing and the remaining $3.89 per head being paid in the last working week of December. . .

Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight:

New Zealand’s beef industry faces brighter prospects in 2014 with strong international demand, combined with tight local supply, according to a new report released by agribusiness banking specialist, Rabobank.

The report, Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight, says the decline in beef production, particularly in lean beef, in the United States – New Zealand’s largest beef export market – means New Zealand product will be in demand.

However, the Rabobank report cautions, in other less traditional markets – where cost is the primary determinant – growing competition from India should be expected, with increased local Indian supply available for export. . .

Proactive approach to land management – Anne Hardie:

One of the things Barbara Stuart loves most about her sustainable land management role is working with farming families who are trying hard to look after their environment.

As a regional co-ordinator for NZ Landcare Trust she works with community groups in the top of the South Island dealing with sustainability issues, including the award-winning Sherry River Catchment Group, which carried out research on cow crossings and water quality, leading to environmental plans for the landowners along the river.

Over the years she has also worked on projects to improve the water quality of Aorere River in Golden Bay, following concerns from mussel farmers beyond the river mouth, of Rai River, which leads to the Havelock estuary, and on erosion of Marlborough dryland farming with the Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group. . .

Mr Weeds’ latest work has gained attention – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch weed scientist Trevor James’ latest literary efforts may not make the bestseller list but he and his colleagues are already receiving international praise.

Trevor has worked in a cross-sector team to compile a definitive guide to New Zealand weed seeds, the Illustrated Guide to Weed Seeds of New Zealand.

It includes high-resolution shots of every weed seed identified in the country. This includes unwelcome intruders that may not have germinated in this country but have been found as stowaways in biosecurity checks. . .

Small-scale agriculture holds big promise for Africa – Caspar van Vark:

Supporting smallholder irrigation through finance and technical assistance could significantly improve productivity and incomes.

The recent discovery of a large aquifer in Kenya is a reminder that far from being dry, Africa has abundant water resources. The problem for farmers is access: only around 6% of cultivated land is equipped for irrigation, leaving millions dependent on rain-fed agriculture. How might more of them be helped to access water that could raise their productivity?

Large-scale, government-funded irrigation systems have long attempted to address this, with varying degrees of success. Those systems have a place, but research by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has found that many smallholders are themselves taking the lead and investing in their own low-cost, small-scale irrigation systems. . . .

And from the Nutters Club NZ:
:) kindest, Boris


Rural round-up

December 17, 2013

Canterbury suffers another blow:

Farmers are reeling from yet another blow, after a severe localised hail storm tore its way through the Mayfield area of Mid-Canterbury.

“As the year draws to a close and we are fast approaching harvesting season, Mid-Canterbury farmers are facing a financial nightmare after the hail storm yesterday,” says David Clark, Mid-Canterbury Grain and Seed Chairperson.

“This has been a mongrel year for farmers in Mid-Canterbury; we have gone from snow to wind storms to a very dry spring to now this. It is a horrible way to finish off the year, with radish and carrot crops shredded and wheat and barley crops having the stuffing knocked out of them. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

UK butter eaters lose taste for Anchor after dairy giant cuts NZ ties – Nicholas Jones:

British shoppers have noticed that their favourite Anchor butter tastes different – with the explanation being it’s no longer from New Zealand.

In Britain, the famous Kiwi brand is used by European dairy company Arla. Until recently, Arla had shipped over New Zealand butter made by Fonterra, but has now switched production to its British facilities.

The Arla logo has been added to block butter packs, but the company has faced a number of complaints from disgruntled customers who were unaware of the change. . .

How much dairying is too much in terms of water quality? – Daniel Collins:

On 21 November the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released her second report on water quality. It warned that business-as-usual dairy expansion by 2020 would leave our lakes and rivers more degraded than they are now, even with improved mitigation. I’d now like to re-cap what the report concluded, how it got there, and how it was received.

The report

The purpose of the report was to illustrate how land use change could affect future nutrient runoff – nitrogen and phosphorus – based on a simple, business-as-usual scenario for 2020.

Motu used a combined economics-land use model called LURNZ to project what land use changes are likely by 2020, driven by commodity process and knowledge of land use practices and landscape characteristics. Sheep and beef farming were expected to give way to dairying, forestry, and even reversion to shrubland. . .

Director elections mean an exciting Red Meat Industry:

Federated Farmers looks forward to working with the Boards of the cooperatively owned Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group following their recent Director elections.

“Federated Farmers congratulates the new directors elected to our two largest cooperatives, Don Morrison at Alliance Group as well as Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake at Silver Fern Farms,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We also congratulate Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart on his re-election.

“Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre wishes to formally thank Alliance Group’s Owen Poole and Jason Miller as well as Silver Fern Farms’ David Shaw for their service to shareholders. . .


Three MIE candidates on two boards

December 16, 2013

Three Meat Industry excellence group candidates have won election on to the Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms’ boards.

MEAT INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE (MIE) endorsed candidates Dan Jex-Blake of Gisborne and Richard Young of Gore have been elected to the board of SFF.

The results of the election which closed on Friday (December 13) were: Richard Young, 36,155,094;

Dan Jex-Blake, 25,511,166, David Shaw, 19,435,482.

This follows Alliance shareholders also voting for a change last week with Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group-backed candidate Don Morrison, Gore, elected by a narrow margin.

The Silver Fern voter turnout was 26.76% of eligible voters, up from 16.70% in the previous election in 2010. . .

Voter turnout was also higher in the Alliance election.

Approximately forty-nine percent (48.83%) of eligible votes were exercised in the directors’ election.

Alliance Group Chairman Murray Taggart said that the forty-nine per cent turnout for the directors’  election was significantly improved over recent years and reflected the interest in the issue. . . .

In 2012 the turnout for the directors election was 25% compared with 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. . .

There is discontent in the industry and a mood for change but there are no easy answers.

Jason Miller, who lost his seat on the Alliance board to Morrison, was elected by the Meat Industry Action Group with a mandate for change in 2007.

Little has changed since then.

 


Morrison replaces Miller on Alliance board

December 13, 2013

Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart has held his seat on the board but Jason Miller has lost his to Don Morrison who was on the Meat Industry excellence (MIA) Group.

. . . Approximately forty nine percent (48.83%) of eligible votes were exercised in the directors’ election.
Alliance Group Chairman Murray Taggart said that the forty-nine per cent turnout for the directors’ election was significantly improved over recent years and reflected the interest in the issue.
In 2012 the turnout for the directors election was 25% compared with 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. . .
Miller, who was active in the Meat Industry Action Group, was voted onto the board in 2007 when long-serving chair John Turner lost his seat.
That he’s been replaced by someone who was active in the MIA is not without irony.

Rural round-up

December 10, 2013

Meat industry looks to tackle over-capacity:

The meat industry needs to keep looking for a solution to its processing over-capacity because it’s an issue that isn’t going to go away, the head of one of the country’s big four meat companies says.

ANZCO Foods has been exploring rationalisation options with the two big meat co-operatives, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance.

They have been focusing on solving the over-capacity issue, as having under-used processing plants erodes meat company profitability – a problem which is worsening due to the ongoing loss of sheep and beef production to dairy expansion.

The Government turned down a request for legislative backing to tackle over-capacity by introducing a tradeable processing rights system, because other companies were not supporting it. . .

More ‘foodies’ less producers -

AUSTRALIA’S “foodie” culture might be booming but at the same time, there’s a growing shortfall of young people interested in producing our food.

That’s according to Dr Brian Jones, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, who has helped design and will lecture in the university’s new Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness, starting in 2014.

“Exact figures on the employment shortfall are hard to calculate, but in agriculture alone, it has been shown that while there have been around 700 graduates per year Australia-wide in recent years, job advertisements suggest demand for approximately 4500 tertiary qualified graduates per annum,” Dr Jones said. . .

Wandering stock warnings:

THE NZ TRANSPORT Agency and Police are reminding rural property owners particularly in Canterbury to ensure their properties are adequately fenced to contain their livestock.

The reminder comes after a number of reports of wandering stock on state highway road reserve in Canterbury in recent weeks.

The Transport Agency’s highway manager Colin Knaggs says wandering stock poses a serious safety risk to all road users, not only on the state highway network but also local roads. . .

Five-stand shearing record bid - Abby Brown:

Today five shearers are taking on something that has been never attempted before – setting a five-stand, eight-hour lamb-shearing world record.

Odd-numbered stand sheds were uncommon, with most four or six stands, event organiser Emily Welch said.

The five shearers would aim to shear 2800-2900 sheep during the Cavalier Woolscourers record attempt, she said.

Sam Welch, Angus Moore, and Cole L’Huillier would aim to shear 600 or more sheep, while Richard Welch and Peter Totorewa would aim to shear 500-550.

The record attempt will take place at Cashmore Farms, between Clevedon and the Firth of Thames, near Auckland. . .

Prevention best protection for facial eczema risk:

While hot humid weather across the country has provided the perfect conditions for lush pasture cover this spring, farmers need to stay alert for an increased risk of facial eczema through summer.

Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, deer and goats are all susceptible to facial eczema which can damage the liver and cause inflammation of the bile ducts and an accumulation of certain compounds resulting in sensitivity to sunlight.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Animal Nutrition Product Manager, Jackie Aveling, says even before physical signs appear exposure to facial eczema can have a significant impact on animals particularly cows where it can result in an immediate drop in milk production. . .

PGW talks up farm sales:

LAND SALES should continue to rise through summer, says PGG Wrightson Real Estate.

After what it describes as an “auspicious spring”, PGW’s general manager real estate, Peter Newbold says farmers and their bankers are taking a lead from good weather and market outlooks.

“Climatic conditions this spring have been favourable over the whole country, setting up what should be an excellent growing season. Projected income for the agriculture sector also looks positive,” he notes. Newbold says some vendors have already capitalised on the competition for the limited number of farms for sale. . .


Rural round-up

December 7, 2013

Lochinver set for record price – Stephen Bell:

Lochinver Station on the Napier-Taupo Road is expected to set a New Zealand farm price record of more than $70 million.

Though bigger farms have been sold in the South Island Lochinver is the most productive rural property ever put up for sale in NZ, Bayleys managing director Mike Bayley said.

The land was waste and scrub when Sir William Stevenson bought it in 1958.

It is now being sold as Stevenson Group, one of the country’s biggest privately-owned companies, rebalances its investment portfolio to exclude farming, chief executive Mark Franklin said. . . .

Trade deals coming thick and fast – Alan Barber:

The TPP may not be happening as soon as expected, but free trade agreements with individual markets, Chinese Taipei and Peru, will come into effect, some aspects immediately, and provide more immediate rewards for our exporters.

Although multinational trade negotiations make more dramatic headlines, history suggests that they have a similar gestation period to an elephant, in fact quite a bit longer in the case of WTO rounds. The TPP looks as if it will follow a similar course because of the USA’s demands about trade partners’ internal arrangements, like Pharmac, and farmer lobbies in countries like Japan and South Korea. This makes it extremely difficult to conclude a binding agreement that meets the requirements of all the countries participating in the negotiations.

Unilateral trade agreements are not as highly regarded or sought after, but they are an essential part of international trade and, for New Zealand with its high trade dependency, very important to our future prosperity. . .

Police fear poaching fatality – Neil Ratley:

Farm workers and their houses are being caught in the spotlights of poachers, and southern police fear someone will be killed unless the illegal practice is stopped.

Constable Steve Winsloe of Winton said police and farmers were taking a collaborative approach to the problem to prevent a potential tragedy.

Landowners had had enough and were working with police to prevent poaching and other rural crime, he said.

“Farmers are getting caught in the spotlights when they are out working after dark. It just takes one poacher to see a glint of an eye that may not be an animal and they pull the trigger” he said.

“The last thing police want is a fatal shooting.” . . .

ANZCO bounces back into profit - Alan Williams:

ANZCO Foods has released early its trading result – a pre-tax profit of $12.6 million – in response to what it says are rumours about its financial strength.

The company was not only profitable in the year ended September 30 but increased its operating cashflow and equity ratio on a year earlier.

Revenue increased to $1.28 billion, from $1.21b previously.

It will also pay a dividend to shareholders, as it has done every year since the shareholding structure was put in place in 2001, chairman Sir Graeme Harrison said. . . .

Alliance operations on move - Collette Devlin:

The Alliance Group is in the process of transferring beef rendering operations to its new $25 million rendering plant at Lorneville in Invercargill.

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff said the company started moving operations from the Mataura beef plant about a week ago.

It was also clearing out the rendering plant at Makarewa, where lamb slinks processing finished about a month ago, he said.

Alliance Group is consolidating its southern rendering operations at the new Lorneville plant to improve productivity. . . .

Flood of interest in storage dam idea- Matthew Littlewood:

The burgeoning Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury has led to a rush of applications for water storage dams.

Environment Canterbury’s consents spokeswoman confirmed that none of the 21 applications within the Arundel-based scheme’s 16,000 hectare “command area” were declined, because all of them fitted within its notified Land and Water Regional Plan.

“To clarify – these are off-channel storage dams (no waterways were dammed) and these include four certificates of compliance (where a dam met the permitted activity requirements and no consent was required),” she said.

The capacity of the storage dams ranged from 8000 to 210,000 cubic metres. . . .


Rural round-up

November 27, 2013

Moment of truth for MIE and its board candidates – Allan Barber:

In the seven months since MIE’s first farmer meeting in Gore, there have been more meetings, discussions with meat companies and, most recently, nominations for the boards of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group. Meat companies have tried and failed to find an acceptable solution to the problems raised by MIE.

Previous MIE executive members Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake are standing for election to Silver Fern Farms’ board. Don Morrison has been nominated for the Alliance board as a farmer director, while a shareholder, Mark Paterson, has proposed a resolution to nominate Fonterra director John Monaghan for the independent directorship vacated by Owen Poole. This will be voted on by those members present at the AGM, but the result of that vote is not binding on the board.

Alliance Group’s AGM takes place on the 13th December and SFF’s on 18th. Therefore we will know before Christmas how many of these candidates have actually made it onto one or other of the cooperative’s boards. . .

Northland trust goes dairy with Te Tumu Paeroa:

A Northland Maori trust has entered into a partnership with land administrator Te Tumu Paeroa to turn a sheep and beef farm into a money-making dairy operation.

The Omapere Rangihamama Trust runs a farm near Kaikohe, which is currently used for forestry and maize, as well as sheep and beef.

But chair Sonny Tau says the Rangihamama Farm will soon be converted into a dairy farming operation, with 500 cows over 278 hectares. He says it will mean a better financial return on the land. . .

New x-rays and staff to strengthen border biosecurity:

New x-ray technology and more frontline staff will help to beef up New Zealand’s biosecurity defences at the border, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Mr Guy today unveiled a new x-ray machine at Auckland Airport, one of 12 machines that have been installed around the country.

“The new machines will be more reliable than the Ministry for Primary Industries’ older x-ray units and will provide better image quality,” says Mr Guy.

“MPI will be able to screen baggage with greater accuracy and image quality. This means border staff will be better equipped to spot biosecurity risk items before they enter New Zealand. . .

Labour Inspectorate extending dairy farm visits to regions:

The Labour Inspectorate is extending its dairy farm visits to regions across New Zealand to check compliance with minimum employment rights.

Labour Inspectors began visiting dairy farms in Southland in August, with the work now being replicated in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.

The visits are part of a long-term operation to identify breaches of employment law, with particular focus on a practice called seasonal averaging and the failure to keep accurate time and wage records. . .

AgResearch, Invermay and Genetics – Peter K. Dearden:

The opinions below are my own, and not necessarily those of the University of Otago, my employer.

You may be aware that AgResearch has decided to move its genetics/genomics team from Invermay near Dunedin, to Lincoln. This move has excited a great deal of attention in the Otago press, and some consternation around here. Genetics Otago  has been drawn into this as a centre of research excellence and hub for genetics and genomics that AgResearch is linked into, that they will lose the benefit of if they move. This has led to some unfortunate exchanges in the media, so I thought I would write something from my point of view.

AgResearch has had a long-term and excellent genetic/ genomics group at Invermay. Many of that group are members of Genetics Otago. Genetics Otago has over 200 members across the University of Otago, AgResearch, AbacusBio, and others (both companies and individuals) across Otago. AgResearch is a small, but important, part of that collaboration. . .

Herd TB status changes encourage testing:

Farmers and lifestylers are being encouraged to get their cattle and deer tested for bovine tuberculosis (TB) as soon as they have been registered with the TBfree New Zealand programme.

To ensure the programme’s testing requirements are as accurate as possible for all animals, some changes have been made to the TB status of herds.

The changes directly affect newly-registered breeding herds and non-breeding (dry stock) herds. All new herds now start off on a Suspended (S) herd TB status until they have passed their first whole herd test. . .

New Zealand’s Favourite Honey: Manuka Trumps Clover in 2013 National Honey Week Survey:

The popularity of Manuka honey has been confirmed in a recent national survey, which places it above Clover and other floral varieties. In the New Zealand-wide survey launched by Airborne Honey this month to celebrate the country’s first National Honey Week, 40% of Kiwis named Manuka as their favourite and 29% choose Clover. A number of other floral honeys featured further down the scale, including Vipers Bugloss (3%) and Rewarewa (2.26%).

The survey also revealed that the favoured way to eat honey in New Zealand is on toast (57%), followed by a sweetener in hot drinks (9%) and straight off the spoon for medicinal purposes (9%). Most New Zealanders eat honey once or twice a week with only 2% never eating honey at all. . . .

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre wins International Wine Tourism Award:

A New Zealand cellar door has won a 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism award with the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre in Marlborough being the only New Zealand cellar door to win this prestigious award.

The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, home of Brancott Estate wines, is located at Brancott Vineyard, the site of the original Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough.

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network recently announced the winners of the 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism awards at a ceremony held at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, California. The nine international winners were chosen from 53 local ‘Best Of‘ winners from nine Great Wine Capitals. In all, 350 applications were received this year. . .


Rural round-up

November 22, 2013

Farmers welcome the PCE’s water contribution:

Federated Farmers has welcomed the report of Dr Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, entitled, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution and is offering to help ground truth some of the modelled assumptions.

“Federated Farmers has consistently said we need good science to underpin policy decision making,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson.

“As Dr Wright conceded at the launch water is complex and the modelling arguably represents the worst case.  It does however highlight the cumulative effects of land use intensity upon water.  It represents our future if we do absolutely nothing but that is not a future we’d like to be a part of.

“Farmers understand there are some challenges but we mustn’t forget that New Zealand has some of the best quality water on earth.  There is also enormous resource and work being put into finding practical workable solutions and we have made some good progress. . .

Time and tide waits for no man or woman – Jeanette Maxwell:

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Zambia for the inaugural World Farming Organisation Women’s committee meeting, the international day of Rural Women and the Zambian National Farmers Union conference.

This has much resonance for the issues we will be discussing over the next two days.

Travelling to a country like Zambia gave me an opportunity to see how farmers do business in a developing nation.  A working farm there can be anything from 10 hectares to many thousands of hectares.

In Zambia I found that 62 percent of all farmers are women.  Women also make up a large share of the labour force and much of the weeding and crop maintenance is done by women.

For many farmers the land is transferred by succession and while there are opportunities to buy land you do need to know the right people.   In Zambia, succession is seen as being critical for the continuation of farming and for feeding the nation.   Sounds familiar. . . .

New DOC boss signals cultural shift:

Farming leaders are applauding a cultural shift signalled by new Department of Conservation (DOC) boss Lou Sanson.

Mr Sanson, who took over as DOC chief executive about two months ago, told the Federated Farmers’ national council in Wellington on Tuesday that DOC would be focusing more on partnership arrangements with farmers and other community and commercial interests, including fishing and mining.

He said Canterbury’s Hakataramea Basin was an example of what he meant by a cultural change for DOC, with a lot of land taken back into its control through tenure review.

“We’ve also taken a lot of musterers’ huts. Generally a farmer 100 years ago put a poplar or a willow beside the hut to give him firewood for the hut,” Mr Sanson said. . .

Contest gives credit to sharemilking role - Sue O’Dowd:

New Zealand’s premier dairy farming contest can be traced to a Taranaki man who thought a sharemilkers’ competition would provide a window to show off their skills.

Murray Cross was a sharemilker at Ngaere when he suggested the Taranaki Sharemilkers Association should run a Sharemilker of the Year competition. At the time he and wife Ruth were on the farm his father, Sydney Hamilton Cross, had bought after he returned from World War II.

Murray Cross drew his inspiration for the competition from going through the process for a Nuffield scholarship. Although he was unsuccessful, he thought he could apply what he had learned to a competition in Taranaki for sharemilkers.   . .

Meat co-ops see obstacles to merger:

Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group, agree that further consolidation is needed in the meat industry.

But both big farmer-owned co-operatives see different obstacles in the way of the farmer campaign to merge the two co-ops as the starting point for forcing wider changes in the industry.

The Meat Industry Excellence group is frustrated at the failure of the major processors and exporters to agree on any reform measures after months of discussions. It is pushing a merger idea in co-op board elections currently underway.

However, Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart of Canterbury says it does not support the view that the co-operatives should be the main vehicle for consolidation and bear the costs. . .

Sustained crop returns for wheat and maize:

Digging a little deeper into the budget for grain fertiliser has valuable paybacks in terms of crop yields for maize and wheat, according to recent studies funded by Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

Trials were undertaken in Canterbury, Southland and Waikato in spring 2012 to evaluate the performance of standard urea against Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s SustaiN, which is urea coated with the urease inhibitor AGROTAIN®. Agrotain is a nitrogen stabiliser that has been proven to suppress ammonia volatilisation, delivering more nitrogen directly to the soil where it can contribute to plant growth.

The trials showed that the additional cost of $11/ha for SustaiN (applied at 100 kg N/ha) was readily recouped. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 18, 2013

Silver Fern Farms makes second loss – Alan Williams:

Silver Fern Farms made a pre-tax loss of $36.5 million in the year ended September 30, on top of its $42m loss the previous year.

The company has negotiated a new debt package with its banks for a two-year period, with a first-year facility of up to $609m, chief executive Keith Cooper said.

The preliminary result did not disclose total assets at balance date, but at the same time in 2012 Silver Fern had $316.6m of borrowings funding total assets of $796m.

The latest loss was disappointing and unacceptable, outgoing chairman Eoin Garden said. . .

Silver Fern Farms FY loss narrows to $28.6 mln, mulling options for sector overhaul :

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and marketer, narrowed its annual loss as it deals with the “collapse” of the sheep meat market last year, and is mulling options for a sector-wide overhaul to inject some life in the industry.

The net loss narrowed to $28.6 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 from a loss of $31.1 million a year earlier, the Dunedin-based company said in a statement. Sales slipped 1.5 percent to $2 billion. The company blamed last year’s sheep meat market spike and subsequent collapse for the two years of losses, and said it has completed a programme to work through the downturn.

“Market consumption and pricing continued to decrease in the first half of the 2012/13 year, resulting from further writedowns of balance date stocks,” chairman Eoin Garden said. “In reality, the market collapse dramatically impacted upon two financial years due to large stock positions over the September 2012 balance date.” . . .

Meat co-ops see obstacles to merger:

Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group, agree that further consolidation is needed in the meat industry.

But both big farmer-owned co-operatives see different obstacles in the way of the farmer campaign to merge the two co-ops as the starting point for forcing wider changes in the industry.

The Meat Industry Excellence group is frustrated at the failure of the major processors and exporters to agree on any reform measures after months of discussions. It is pushing a merger idea in co-op board elections currently underway.

However, Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart of Canterbury says it does not support the view that the co-operatives should be the main vehicle for consolidation and bear the costs. . .

Hopes scare a ‘turning point’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English hopes Fonterra’s recent whey contamination scare is a ”turning point” for New Zealand.

Addressing the recent Global Food Safety Forum in Dunedin, Mr English likened the fiasco, which turned out to be a false alarm, to the earthquakes in Christchurch.

Christchurch now had a better city and he believed the incident should be like an earthquake for Fonterra and the dairy industry. . .

[I think it's a bit premature to say Chirstchurch now has a better city, but it is getting better]

Fonterra Welcomes NZ Sri Lanka Dairy Cooperation Arrangement:

Fonterra today welcomed a new Dairy Cooperation Arrangement between the New Zealand Government and Sri Lankan Government signed by Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs Gamini Lakshman Peiris and New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs Murray McCully on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo yesterday.
 
Fonterra Director and farmer-shareholder John Monaghan, who was in Colombo representing Fonterra at the Commonwealth Business Forum earlier this week, said the agreement will help formalise and support further public and private sector dairy sector cooperation between the two countries.
 
“The New Zealand dairy industry and Fonterra have a long history working with the Sri Lankan dairy industry. . .

Fonterra gives $100,000 to typhoon relief -

Fonterra has donated $100,000 to ChildFund New Zealand to support its relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan.

The money will provide desperately needed food, water and essential hygiene items and help to establish safe spaces for children.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the co-operative is encouraging its farmers and employees to donate. . .

Interest keen for Hawke’s Bay wines at Hong Kong fair:

Two Hawke’s Bay wineries represented the region at a huge wine fair in Hong Kong and report that there is keen interest in wines beyond those from Marlborough, with importers and distributors wanting to know more about local wines.

Elephant Hill Estate and Winery and Moana Park manned the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc. stand that was part of the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Fair held over three days earlier this month that attracted over 20,000 buyers. . . .


Rural round-up

November 8, 2013

‘Farmers understand need to improve water quality’:

PRIMARY INDUSTRIES Minister Nathan Guy believes most farmers are environmentalists and understand the need to improve our water quality.

Speaking at the launch of freshwater proposals yesterday, he said farmers want to leave the environment in a better state than they found they found it.

“Farmers recognise the importance of our freshwater resource and understand there will be costs; and they have shown they want to work constructively,” he says. . .

China helps lifts co-op’s returns:

Meat co-op Alliance Group has reported a net profit before restructuring costs and tax of $10.9 million for the year ending 30 September 2013. The co-op’s turnover for the year topped $1.4 billion

After providing for restructuring costs of $2.5 million and tax of $2.8 million, the company recorded a net profit after tax of $5.6 million.

The company’s balance sheet is also strengthening with an equity ratio of 61% and an operating cash flow surplus of $89 million.

In announcing the result, Alliance Group chairman, Murray Taggart, said the return to profitability was a positive result, albeit at an unsatisfactory level, and follows a year with widespread drought conditions and lingering economic weakness in key export markets. . .

Wild pigs a potential TB risk in Waikato:

Reports of wild pigs being illegally released and the risky disposal of their remains has prompted a Waikato farmer to speak out about the bovine tuberculosis (TB) threat it potentially poses to domestic cattle and deer.

Pigs can carry TB and spread the disease when infected carcasses are scavenged by wild animals, mainly possums and ferrets. Bovine TB-infected possums are responsible for the majority of new herd infections in TB risk areas.

Local farmer and Waikato TBfree Committee Chairman John Bubb expressed concern over the reported practices on behalf of herdowners in the region.

“People need to consider the possible consequences of dumping wild pig remains that could be infected with TB,” said Mr Bubb. . .

Public perception vital in a crisis - Hugh Stringleman:

Rescuing Fonterra’s reputation after its botulism scare is problematic, crisis communications researcher and adviser Professor William Hallman says.

“The first thing they taught me as a psychologist is that perception is reality,” Hallman said.

“The fact that it was a false alarm is important, but reputation isn’t entirely based on facts.”

Hallman is head of the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers, the New Jersey state university.

He was contracted to provide information to the Fonterra independent inquiry into the whey protein concentrate recall on best practise in crisis communications, his principal area of expertise. . .

Southern land producing quality wool – Alan Williams:

Good, clean Southland pasture through spring and early summer helps Jeff Farm produce lambs’ wool to the standard required by United Kingdom fabric manufacturer Camira.

“We put the wool in from 10,000-12,000 lambs and most of it gets accepted,” farm manager John Chittock said.

The wool has to have 0% vegetable matter (VM) and be pesticide-free to meet Camira’s exacting standards under the Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) contract.

“At this time of year we don’t have any problem with the VM. The country here is pretty clean and we don’t have to do anything special with them,” Chittock said.

Mixed response to buffer zone compromise – Richard Rennie:

Western Bay of Plenty landowners have gained a compromise on proposed buffer zones sought by Transpower around electricity lines on their land.

The State-owned enterprise had wanted zones on existing lines inluded in a district plan change, which put it offside with horticulturalists, farmers, and even Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

The dispute was destined to be heard in the Environment Court after Transpower appealed the council decision to follow the recommendation of a commissioner, which was to note the buffer areas in planning documents.

Federated Farmers has arrived at a compromise on the changes being sought by Transpower, with the proposed buffer zones significantly reduced. . .

Great Start for 2014 Dairy Awards:

Nearly 100 people have entered the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards since entries opened a week ago, up 10 on the same time last year.

“The signs are promising that the 2014 awards are going to be a boomer,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“What is really satisfying is the number of people who are entering for a second or successive time. We work really hard to make sure all entrants – not just the winners – gain real value and benefits from their experience and so it is heartening to see that about half the entries so far are from those that have entered in the past.” . . .

#gigatownoamaru has had a great start too.

 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2013

Fonterra 2.0 – Willy Leferink:

There has been more than a little soul searching by Fonterra’s Board. For all the bad press it gets slammed with locally, I can say from the World Dairy Summit in Japan that Fonterra is not just respected; it is admired by many and even feared by some across the world.

With its independent report on the non-botulism scare, Fonterra’s Board dropped a very big hint that things are going to be different going forward in deeds more than words. Given former act leader Rodney Hide admitted in print this year that “politicians leak all the time,” it must have come as a shock to the media that such a critical and sensitive report was kept tight right up until 2pm last Wednesday.

I didn’t have an advance copy just a general heads up so I raced to the internet at the same time as everybody else. There was no leak and nor was it timed to clash with some other event; Honesty 1 v. Spin Doctors 0. Even the media conference was webcast live for anyone to watch anywhere on earth. I don’t want to sound like a commercial here, but wait, there’s more. Critical parts of the report were translated into key languages so I guess Fonterra’s Board did not want there to be any ambiguity.

Yet the words of Jack Hodder, who chaired Fonterra’s independent board inquiry, sticks in my mind – the biggest thing that needs to change within Fonterra is cultural. . .

 Farmers urged to vote in historic meat co-op elections:

Given strong moves to restructure New Zealand’s red meat sector, Federated Farmers is describing the director elections for Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group as historic.

“If you want empowerment in your farming business then as shareholders you need to vote,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, newly returned from a World Farmers’ Organisation event in Zambia.

“Set against a backdrop of what could be up to three million fewer lambs and declining stock numbers, future generations of farmers will ask current shareholders how they voted. . . .

New sentencing options for polluters not needed, says minister:

The Government has rejected a suggestion that more flexible sentencing options for judges are needed to help the fight against agricultural polluters

In a speech to the Environmental Compliance Conference this week, Environment Court judge Craig Thompson says more imaginative sentencing options could lead to better outcomes for both the environment and farmers.

Judge Thompson suggests that judges should have the power to shut down the worst offenders altogether.

He says those farmers or farm companies place a huge burden on the enforcement and prosecution resources of councils that are unfortunate enough to have them as ratepayers. . .

Fonterra and Tatua paths might cross in Australian tangle:

Cross-ownership and joint ventures could see two New Zealand rivals working together depending on the outcome of wrangling for ownership of an Australian dairy company.

Dairy companies throughout the world often own a stake in competitors or operate joint ventures, an Australian analyst Jon Hauser of XCheque says.

“There’s a whole range of commercial joint ventures and ownership structures between private companies and private companies, and private companies and co-operatives,” Hauser said. . .

Fleeced: 160 sheep stolen from field near village of Wool – Adam Withnall:

Dorset police are appealing for witnesses after 160 sheep were stolen from a field near the village of Wool.

The rustlers are thought to have had to use a large lorry to move the animals, which were all marked and electronically tagged.

Police said the incident took place between 8am on Saturday 2 November and 2.30pm on Monday, at the field which lies next to the A352 between Wool and the nearby village of East Stoke. . .

 

Gigatown competiton could benefit a rural town:

Farmers see the benefits for their rural town if it were to win Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town

FWPlus followers tweeted that it could have both indirect and direct benefits for farmers.

“Fantastic urban internet will help rural communities indirectly by helping their towns thrive,” @AaronJMeikle tweeted

The one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe – would act as a magnet and attract businesses to relocate to that town, he tweeted.

Another direct benefit, he tweeted, was that it would provide services that fitted farmers’ time constraints.

This is why I’m supporting #gigatownoamaru


Rural round-up

November 2, 2013

Fonterra on notice – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra is on notice from its leading independent director, Sir Ralph Norris, that another food safety scare would have serious global implications.

While it may be inaccurate and unfair, Fonterra is saddled with the melamine adulteration in China in 2008 and the DCD fertiliser concerns earlier this year, followed by the precautionary recall because of a botulism scare in August.

“That means it is important for Fonterra to learn from the whey protein concentrate events. The fact that the botulism scare was a false alarm doesn’t diminish the work of (our) inquiry,” Norris said. . .

Focus goes on communication – Alan Williams:

Fonterra’s communications team is being renewed as public relations contractor Baldwin Boyle Group (BBG) makes way for more in-house employees.

Five of the 33 recommendations made by the independent inquiry for the board concerning the botulism scare in whey protein concentrate are aimed at better communication.

The first recommendation is that Fonterra needs to continue building a directly employed, strong, specialist, and experienced communications team.

That should be done in key global markets, supplemented with contracted, high-calibre local expertise where appropriate. . .

Tough year for tulip grower – Alison Rudd:

Spring brings magnificent swathes of colour to Southland as hundreds of hectares of tulips bloom. But for tulip producers, the flowers are a byproduct and the real value of the plant lies in its bulb. Reporter Allison Rudd talks to one of the van Eeden family about the changing industry.

For many decades, van Eeden Tulips was the only tulip bulb producer in New Zealand of any significance.

For 45 years, it supplied most of the bulbs grown by commercial flower growers, home gardeners and council parks and reserves departments, before branching out into exports in the late 1990s. . . .

More Southland dairy farms expected – Terri Russell:

Low sheep returns and high milk prices have contributed to a rise in dairy farm conversions in Southland.

New dairy farm conversions totalled just seven for the 18-month period to July. But a recent spike in new conversions comes after Fonterra announced its record forecast payout of $8.30 per kilogram.

Environment Southland consents manager Stephen West said there had been more dairy farm conversion applications in the past four months than there had been in almost two years.

The surge in conversion numbers also coincides with the plan change 13 deliberations drawing to a close.

Plan change 13 has required all new dairy farms to obtain a resource consent before becoming operational since April last year, and the decision on whether the rule will become permanent will be made in December. . . .

No dividend, but Alliance’s system sorted – Sally Brooker:

Shareholders who packed out the Alliance Group Ltd roadshow meeting in Oamaru last week were told they are not getting a dividend.

Chairman Murray Taggart, an Oxford farmer who has taken over since Owen Poole retired on September 30, said times had been ”tough for meat processors and exporters”.

The equity ratio and operating cash flow were good, but not sufficient for a dividend. . .

Fonterra Acquires Stake in Bega Cheese Ltd:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has acquired a 6 per cent shareholding in Australian dairy company Bega Cheese Limited.

The 9.3 million shares were purchased at AUD4.95 per share for a total cost of AUD46 million.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said, “Australia is an important market for Fonterra, and we are committed to growing our already strong presence.

“There has recently been a lot of consolidation activity in the Australian dairy industry. It is important that Fonterra participates, and we have confidence in Bega and the strategy it is pursuing,” said Mr Spierings. . .

Foreign investors buy more South Island farmland:

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has approved the application by a Singaporean investment management company to buy half the shares of New Zealand Pastures Limited, a locally-owned company that operates seven South Island sheep and beef farms.

The farms :Three Rivers, Grantham Springs, Hitchin Hills, Quailburn, Hills Creek, The Styx and Huntleigh, cover almost 23,500 hectares.

Singapore company Duxton Asset Management is buying the shares on behalf of itself and two other overseas investment funds. . . .

Stalwart’s last stand gets support of mates - Ruth Grundy:

When his mates got wind John Hough was making his ”last stand”, they thought they would go along for the ride.

The Rakaia shearer and Shearing Sports New Zealand official who will only admit to being ”not 70 yet” began shearing at 18 and first competed in open-class shearing 40 years ago. . . .

#gigatownoamaru appreciates its rural hinterland.


Rural round-up

October 26, 2013

CHB dam supporters back Wilson – Marie Taylor:

Ruataniwha dam supporters filled the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council offices to over-flowing to back Fenton Wilson’s re-election as chairman last Wednesday.

At the council’s meeting in Napier Wilson was returned for a second term as chairman by the narrowest of margins – only one vote – in a meeting which was testy at times.

Wilson, from Wairoa, won the vote 5-4 against new councillor and former Labour MP Rick Barker.

About 150 farmers turned up to this first meeting of the new nine-person council, which has six new members. Only Wilson, deputy chair Christine Scott and Alan Dick from Napier were returned. . . .

One share ruse fails – Alan Williams:

Would-be board candidate John Monaghan says Alliance Group should have had an independent authority decide on his eligibility to stand for election as director.

“There shouldn’t be any hint of interference from the board,” the Fonterra Co-operative Group director said after Alliance ruled he did not qualify as a candidate.

Monaghan called for Alliance to separate governance from representation, as Fonterra has done, to ensure fair and transparent elections. . .

Pita Alexander tells dairy farmers to ‘make financial hay’ before milk prices fall; and sheep farmers turn to shine is coming:

It struck me the other day that within five years it’s more than likely that Australia and New Zealand will be able to sell more lambs than they will have available.

It’s no secret that our lamb flock has been on the wane and we are another couple of million down from last summer’s drought.

The law of supply and demand would indicate that better prices will result.

Scarcity is a marketing tool of a type, but it is not the whole answer. . .

Molesworth Station road opening early:

A 200 kilometre road through New Zealand’s largest high country station is opening to members of the public early this year.

Molesworth Station in Marlborough is opening Acheron Road from Labour Day Weekend (October 26) to Easter Weekend (April 21).

Previously the road had opened from December to April.

The 207km unsealed road, which runs between Blenheim and Hanmer Springs, will be open to four-wheeled-drive vehicles from 7am to 7pm subject to safety and weather conditions, the Department of Conservation says.  . .

Raise a Glass to Success Campaign 2013:

Raise a Glass to Success is an exciting new online campaign being launched by one of New Zealand’s premier wine brands to celebrate six everyday Kiwis whose passion inspire us all.

The six finalists will be individuals who demonstrate innovation perseverance and a determination to succeed in their chosen field – even when those around them said it couldn’t be done.

They can be involved in any area including the arts, fashion, design or hospitality or they could be up and coming innovators in sustainability or science research. . . .

Mortgagee sale a crushing finale for winery:

A boutique winery and hospitality operation in the Hawkes Bay has been placed on the market for sale by mortgagee tender.

Park Estate located at 2087 Pakowhai Road comprises a winery, restaurant and function centre located next to the expressway, linking Hastings and Napier. The property, in two titles, is being marketed by Bayleys Hastings by salespeople Glyn Rees-Jones and Hadley Brown.

Park Estate was started in the mid 1990s, and produced several varieties under the label of the same name. However, in recent years the business has diversified production into an organic fruit juice and beverage operation currently leasing the land and building. . .


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