Rural round-up

April 8, 2014

A taste of Waitaki -  Pam Jones:

Pam Jones travels a create-your-own wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley and gives the region top marks.

There is no formal wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley but it is not hard to create your own.

Take a trip from Omarama to Kurow and back to Oamaru and you will discover pinot noirs and aromatics that knock your socks off with their flavours and minerality.

Then add some gourmet treats or rustic farmers’ fare on the side.

It is a recipe for a wonderful day of wining and dining, or stay the night at places along the way to turn it into a multiday sojourn.

We start our loop at the Ladybird Hill Cafe, Restaurant and Winery in Omarama, tucked to the side at the southern entrance of the busy crossroads town. . .

Edendale Nursery sold to large forestry biotech – Sally Rae:

Forestry biotech company ArborGen has expanded its stable of nurseries with the acquisition of Edendale Nursery in Southland.

ArborGen, in which NZX-listed Rubicon has a 31.67% stake, is the largest supplier of seedlings in New Zealand.

It sells up to 25 million trees annually, predominantly in the North Island, and owns five production nurseries, two seed orchards, and a manufacturing facility for the production of radiata varietal seedlings. . . .

Making horseshoe among Young Farmers tasks – Sally Rae:

When Sonja Dobbie entered the North Otago district final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, she did not expect to do well.

The competition was held at Totara Estate, near Oamaru, last November and members of her Five Forks club encouraged each other to enter to ensure good representation.

But Miss Dobbie (23), a first-time entrant, finished third behind Marshall Smith (Upper Waitaki Young Farmers) and Steven Smit (Glenavy-Waimate), ensuring her a place in this month’s Aorangi regional final. . .

Sustainable, High-Performing Dairy Operation Collects Supreme Award In 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Okaihau dairy farmers Roger and Jane Hutchings are the Supreme winners of the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges described the Hutchings’ 680-cow business in the Bay Of Islands, Lodore Farm Ltd, as a very sustainable high-input system which is profitable across all aspects of the operation.

“There is a clear balance between the financial performance of the operation and the environmental and social aspects.”  . . .

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints top genetics positions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has appointed a Chairman and General Manager to run the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

Former Landcorp CEO and Massey University Chancellor Chris Kelly will chair the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Board and Graham Alder the former Genetics Business Manager of Zoetis, has been appointed General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

The appointments follow the successful vote at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting to combine the organisation’s current genetics investments. This means Sheep Improvement Ltd (the national sheep genetic dataset), the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test and Ovita, with added investment in beef genetics, come together with government funds to create the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics. . .

More success for PGP programmes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming success by three Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes this week, including an award nomination for a revolutionary seafood programme.

“The Precision Seafood Harvesting Programme has been nominated for a KiwiNet Research & Business Partnership Award. This is fitting recognition for a programme that could revolutionise the global fishing industry.

“The programme is developing new sustainable fishing technology that will allow fish to be landed on fishing boats alive, and in perfect condition, while safely releasing small fish and other species.

“The potential economic and environmental benefits of this are huge, and it’s no surprise it is attracting so much attention. This is a $52 million project with funding coming from both industry and government.” .

Another PGP programme – Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Ltd (SPATnz) – has also reached a milestone in selective breeding of greenshell mussels. . .

Telecom’s expanding mobile network connects locals in the Far North:

Locals and visitors to Houhora, Pukenui and the coastline north to Rarawa Bay may notice a boost in mobile coverage in the area, with Telecom announcing today that it has invested more than $175,000 on improved coverage to the region.

Telecom’s investment in the Houhora Central Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) site responds to the increasing demand for mobile coverage in the area and will give locals and visitors added access to voice, mobile broadband and text services over the Telecom mobile network, which has been built specifically for smart phones.

The improved mobile coverage is part of Telecom’s commitment to open up access to mobile data and applications for rural communities. . .

New Zealand seafood goes online in China promotion:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has joined forces for the first time with China’s most popular business-to-consumer online shopping platform Tmall.com, to promote New Zealand seafood in a week-long campaign.

The promotion with Tmall.com will take place between 9-15 April, allowing Chinese shoppers to buy live seafood fresh from the sea in New Zealand, then have it packaged and air freighted to Shanghai within 36 hours. Within 72 hours, the seafood orders will be delivered to Chinese consumers across the country. The New Zealand products available for sale include paua, greenshell mussels and Bluff and Pacific oysters.

The ability to sell and deliver live seafood to Chinese consumers is a significant milestone. A similar Tmall.com campaign with Alaskan seafood last year resulted in a total of 50 metric tonnes supplied to Chinese consumers. . .

The ‘B’ word – Mad Bush Farm:

Yesterday I read the forecast for Northland and I used the “B” word. It’s now Autumn, and yet again we’re in a drought. So is the Waikato and things are looking rather grim where rainfall goes. I’m letting the Toyota crew there say the “B” word on my behalf, and the rest of the rural crew out there looking up at the skies and praying it rains and soon!


Rural round-up

March 29, 2014

Land leasing lessons – Rebecca Harper:

Getting started farming in your own right can be a challenge and leasing is a great first option. Rebecca Harper investigates how it works and what you need to know about leasing.

David Skiffington has five lease blocks and has developed his own philosophy and system for leasing, building up to a viable farm business for him and his young family.

He got his first lease block in 2008 and is now leasing land from four Maori trusts and one private landowner in Manawatu, with about 100 hectares all up.

David is dead set against paying market price for a block. “I feel like the market rate is often set by the guy next door who has an advantage. Market price is set at a price where not much is economic.” . . .

Dairy prices may dip as record payouts prompt farmers to boost milk production -

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices will probably decline over the last few months of the New Zealand season as farmers ramp up milk production to benefit from record payouts.

Prices generally hold up on lower volumes heading into the end of the season in May, however volumes will be higher than normal this year as farmers had favourable growing conditions in the lead-up to the main producing season and bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, said ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny.

Auckland-based Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, last month raised its payout to farmer suppliers to a record level on the back of strong global demand. New Zealand dairy farmers will probably produce 11 percent more milk this season than last season, which will equate to around a 9 to 10 percent increase in volume for Fonterra, ahead of the dairy group’s forecast for a 7.5 percent increase in volume, ASB says. . .

Bovine Blackmailers and half a kennel - Mad Bush Farm:

The cows know I have a bag of feed just inside the door right now. It’s not theirs to have of course; it belongs to the old man. Sometimes, though, I do give them some of it, even though right now they don’t really need feeding much more than some hay.  Trouble is they’ve cottoned on that I feed the old man twice a day. They have it all figured out, along with how to muck up my recently cleaned windows (forget that now!) . . .

Apples and applesauce - Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s apple season here on CTF. I am steadily working my way through mountains of apples. OK ‘mountains’ might be a slight exaggeration, but there are certainly quite a few kilos!
Here is a big box of delicious ‘Reinette du Canada’ apples – a French heirloom apple – that I picked yesterday. This variety is great for cooking, but it can also be eaten as a dessert apple. We usually cook it.


Some of these apples get quite big. The biggest one I picked was 500g (18 oz)! . . . 

Good as green for top crop:

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return based on its production of Hayward green in the 2013 season.

Last season it produced an average of 15,109 trays per hectare with size 33 fruit, with an orchard gate return (OGR) in excess of $90,000 compared to the industry average of $43,000. It was the highest OGR recorded for 2013 by the orchard’s management company, Direct Management Services (DMS).

The orchard is owned by the Owen St George Family Trust and managed by Matt Greenbank of DMS. Owen’s daughter, Jackie, also works on the orchard.. . .

Hastings centre stage for next Regional Final:

The East Coast Regional Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest is set to be held in Hastings next weekend Saturday 5th April at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds.

Eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Christchurch 3-5 July and their share of a $14,000 prize pack including products, services and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

There is a wide range of competitors for this round of eliminations, with a variety of backgrounds, ages and skill sets. . . .

Value Added Products Get First Taste of Tomato Crop:

Wattie’s value added products are the first to benefit from the company’s 77th annual tomato crop, which is just passed the mid-point of the harvest.

In producing the country largest tomato crop Wattie’s carefully selects tomato varieties to meet and thrive in the Hawke’s Bay climate.

Wattie’s agronomist Jonny La Trobe who is responsible for the tomato crop, says the season is going well, and with half the harvest completed, the fruit quality and yields are good.

“While we may not pip last year’s exceptional volumes, favourable spring weather – which also benefited our peach crop – gave us an excellent start on which to build.” . . .


Rural round-up

March 19, 2014

Taumarunui farmer cheats death for a third time -Lachlan Forsyth:

Yesterday, 54-year-old Janet Kelland cheated death for a third time.

She cheated death on Mount Everest in 1996 in a storm that claimed the life of mountaineer Rob Hall.

And five years ago she broke her neck in a horse-riding accident.

Yesterday, the Taumarunui farmer was checking an electric fence when she stumbled across a wasps’ nest. . .

Wasp swarm attacks farmer – Ben Irwin:

A Waikato farmer had to walk 45 minutes for help after she was stung at least 50 times in the head by wasps when she stepped in a nest on a remote block of land northwest of Taumarunui.

A “really, really sore” Janet Kelland last night spoke to the Herald from her bed at Taumarunui Hospital after the ordeal which began about midday yesterday on the farm she part- owns.

The 56-year-old was walking up the fenceline of a paddock, checking that an electric fence was free from weeds and obstructions.

Moments later she stepped in a “big hole of wasps”. . . .

IrrigationNZ welcomes report on water’s value but questions pricing/allocation focus:

IrrigationNZ has welcomed today’s release of a report confirming the value of water for New Zealand, but cautions any moves to reallocate water or overhaul pricing in its wake would be ‘overly-simplistic’.

Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ’s CEO, says while the majority of recommendations in the NZIER report ‘Water Management in New Zealand – a road map for understanding water value’ resonate with the organisation, he has concerns about its recommendations around water allocation and pricing.

“IrrigationNZ agrees that transfer of water can be improved in New Zealand and that water permits need to be standardised and irrigation storage and distribution infrastructure enabled to do this. But calling for allocation reform is overly simplistic.” . . .

An overview of topical agricultural issues – Allan Barber:

There are four local issues exciting particular interest in the agricultural landscape at the moment: the ram breeders’ testy meeting with AgResearch in Gore, the case against Fonterra by MPI, the failure to award grants to three major research institutes, and Silver Fern Farms’ Eating Quality beef grading system.

First the meeting in Gore when AgResearch finally fronted up to the ram breeders and sheep farmers from the deep south to hear their complaints about relocating most of the scientists from Invermay to Lincoln. Unfortunately for the disaffected farmers AgResearch seems to have made its mind up a long time ago about its Future Footprint Programme which will see two hubs at Massey and Lincoln. After the meeting on 12th March, the word is that the Board will look at the issue again, but only very limited tweaks are expected.

Meeting convenor, Hugh Gardyne, intended to move a vote of no confidence in AgResearch’s board and management, but didn’t get the chance to table the motion. My impression is that the group has shot its bolt and is unlikely to achieve any significant change to the plans. . . .

Changes to Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare Proposed:

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

NAWAC is proposing that blunt force trauma may not be used for the routine killing of unwanted dairy calves on the farm.

“We understand that people are concerned about farmers using blunt force trauma to kill young calves on the farm,” says Dr Karen Phillips, Deputy- Chair of NAWAC.

“The risks of incorrect use, coupled with the fact that there are alternatives that can be better for animal welfare, meant that it was time to consider changing the rules on this.

“Industry bodies have been discouraging it over a number of years and it is no longer common practice. However, we agree that there are significant animal welfare concerns when this method is not used correctly,” says Dr Phillips. . .

Ahuwhenua field days farms achieve a level of rural development that has the world watching

Finalists of 2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award are achieving a level of rural development that is gaining increasing international interest, as the second of three field days kicks off today.

“The finalists this year are all exemplar models for growing rural economic development,” says Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI’s) Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton speaking from Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd’s field day near Hawera.

“There is increasing international interest in Māori agribusiness as a model for rural development, particularly from countries with rural land holdings capable of agriculture. . .

Regional Finals heat up in Taupo

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest heads to Taupo for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final, Saturday 22 March.

Eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Christchurch 3-5 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $14,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

This Regional Final will see a remarkable group of contenders come together for what will surely be a full on day of practical, physical and theoretical challenges at the Tongariro North Domain followed by the entertaining evening quiz-show held at the Taupo Great Lake Centre. . .

Hogget Mating Becomes Big Focus for Hill Country Farmers:

Hogget mating is becoming a big focus for more and more hill country farmers.

Wanganui Farmer and Focus Genetics ram breeder, Donald Polson held a farm field day recently and told farmers that farm profitability on hill country was driven by the number of lambs weaned.

“Our main goal is to put as many lambs on the ground as we can in a challenging environment. To achieve this we need to grow out good replacements and then we mate our ewe hoggets, which is efficient and more productive. We also run cropping systems which is another simple way to boost productivity.” . . .

New innovation supports confidence in NZ food exports:

In a world facing increasing concerns for food safety and quality, the ability for consumers to get independently verified information about a product, right at the point of sale, is a big step forward in supporting confidence in New Zealand food exports.

Seeing the opportunity to meet this AsureQuality, global experts in food safety and quality, developed the inSight™ brand which is designed to provide consumers with additional information about the products they are buying.

The rigorous process of supply chain assessment to gain an inSight™ licence allows producers to use the inSight™ brand and a unique QR barcode on their products. By scanning the barcode with their mobile devices, shoppers are taken straight to the inSight™ website (www.aqinsight.com). Here they can view independent evidence about the product features prior to purchase. . .

Ballance shareholders get free Ag Hub access:

Thousands of farmers throughout the country are being offered free access to the award-winning Ag Hub farm technology system.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients moved to full ownership of Ag Hub last year and Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau says that with farmers under increasing pressure to track nutrient use and manage nutrient budgets, putting the technology in shareholders’ hands has been a priority.

All of Ballance’s shareholders are being offered free access to the Ag Hub system for their nutrient information.

“Farmers want practical, accurate systems to support on-farm decisions and Ag Hub provides the level of real-time information to help them make the right calls, both for their business and for the environment,” says Mr Bilodeau.


Rural round-up

March 18, 2014

New staff to boost border security:

26 New Ministry for Primary Industries border staff begin training in Auckland today as part of a programme to beef up frontline resources, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Close to 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months and this is another big boost in resources.

“The 26 new staff will graduate around the middle of this year and will be posted around New Zealand.

“While there is increasing use of technology and intelligence to protect our border, we still need people on the frontline.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers. . .

Clover root weevil under attack in Southland - Sally Rae:

An industry-wide effort is under way in Southland to combat the damaging clover root weevil, whose economic damage has been measured in hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide.

Clover root weevil (CRW), identified by distinctive U-shaped notches on clover leaves, was discovered in the Waikato and Auckland in 1996 and has now spread as far as Southland.

A project, involving AgResearch, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Environment Southland, which has been releasing parasitised clover root weevils on Southland farms, is being accelerated. . .

Fonterra Chairman Visits New $126m UHT Milk Processing Site:

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson visited Fonterra’s new $126 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa on the weekend.The site is in its final stages of testing before commissioning Anchor UHT milk and cream products at the end of this month.

Mr Wilson said he was impressed with how quickly it had taken the site to get to this stage with construction completed in 12 months.

“It was great to get the chance to visit and meet the team who have brought our Waitoa site to life. There is a real sense of pride from the team on the ground.  . . .

History repeats itself in Northland:

David Kidd is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old sheep and beef farm manager of Shelley Beach took first place at the Northern Regional Final at the Kaikohe Showgrounds over the weekend, Saturday 15 March.

Thirty years after Mr Kidd’s father, Richard Kidd, became a Grand Finalist David is following in his footsteps. Richard placed third (on count back) in the 1984 Timaru Grand Final representing the Northern Region. “I don’t remember it, but I was at that Grand Final and it was my first Young Farmers experience,” said Mr Kidd. . .

Meet Dr Sunday – Alice Roberts:

A doctor living in rural Queensland says it’s the patients who have kept him in town for the past decade.

Dr Sunday Adebiyi has been a general practitioner in Dysart for 10 years.

He says it’s the friendships you strike up in regional areas that make the job worthwhile.

“I have some very, very good patients and I think about them and they think about me, they are concerned about my welfare and how I’m going,” he says.

“So with such people it would be very difficult to let them down. . .

Rabobank business alumni tour successful South Island farms:

More than 80 New Zealand and Australian farmers toured South Island farms last week as part of Rabobank’s Business Management Programme alumni tour.

They visited a deer operation, an intensive indoor robotic dairy operation and a mixed cropping and birdseed business, which was currently undertaking a dairy conversion.

They also visited North Otago dairy farmer Rogan Borrie’s four properties near Oamaru.

Borrie, a fifth-generation farmer, completed Rabobank’s Farm Managers Programme in 2007.

He said it was a rewarding experience to share the developments and technology introduced on-farm.

“We showed the tour our new computerised irrigation scheme with pivot and fixed grid sprinklers that we have recently installed in order to reduce labour time and energy and improve water efficiency,” he said . .


Rural round-up

February 19, 2014

Working group set to improve dairy traceability:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced a working group set up to improve dairy traceability.

“The independent Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident highlighted the importance of effective systems for dairy traceability,” Mr Guy says.

“The Inquiry recommended lifting the dairy sector’s ability to trace products and ingredients through a working group focusing on regulatory and worldwide best practices.”

“Improving the traceability of dairy products will further protect the public in the event of a suspected food safety issue,” Ms Kaye says. . .

Bob Ingham delivers golden egg in final year of NZ poultry production – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Bob Ingham, former owner of Australia’s biggest poultry producer Inghams Enterprises, achieved a record profit from his New Zealand operations in 2013, the final year before private equity firm TPG acquired the Australasian business.

Inghams Enterprises (NZ) lifted net profit by 19 percent to $27.2 million in the 12 months ended June 30, according to the annual report filed with the Companies Office. Revenue rose 5 percent to $336 million.

The Australian parent company was family owned for 94 years when sole shareholder Bob Ingham, grandson of the original founder, sold to TPG for A$880 million in June last year. The Ingham family retained bloodstock assets and some properties including the family farm. . .

Esquires may source milk from NZ:

Cooks Global Food is looking to start sourcing its supply of milk from New Zealand for its Esquire coffee houses around the world.

Cooks, which is listed on the NZX’s alternative market, has signed a master franchisee agreement in Oman and Qatar which will mean at least 16 new Esquires Coffee Houses opening.

The new deal means it has commitments for more than 80 coffee stores in the Middle East. . .

Defending champion returns:

Defending Tasman champion, Reuben Carter, is the first Grand Finalist to be named for the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old agronomist took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Murchison at the A&P Show over the weekend, Saturday 15 February.

Mr Carter had a dominant performance leading for most of the day and took out both the Silver Fern Farms Agri-Sports and Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenges giving him solid platform going into the evening show. . .

Young Farmers heading south:

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest heads south for the second Regional Final in Otago/Southland, Saturday 22 February in Alexandra.

It will be a full on day with practical events at Pioneer Park where competitors will be tested on a variety of hands-on, physical and theoretical challenges – all with an agricultural and farming focus.

The day’s events will be followed by the entertaining evening show and quiz round at the Alexandra Community Centre where a cool head and quick wits are vital. Tickets for the evening show can be purchased at ANZ Tarbert Street, Alexandra. . .

Biogas generation systems for rural Samoa:

The Samoan government says it is developing bio-gas generation systems which will use green waste to provide power in rural areas around the country.

It has received 300,000 US dollars from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, or SPREP, to do so.

The assistant CEO for energy at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Sala Sagato Tuifiso, says biogas generation systems are more cost effective than other renewable energy sources. . .


Rural round-up

November 28, 2013

Good Environmental Management No Add-On, Say Farming Ambassadors:

“Sustainability must be built into everyday farming, not bolted on”, was one of the key messages delivered to agribusiness and industry leaders by Canterbury farming ambassadors Roz and Craige Mackenzie.

National Winners of the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Mackenzies recently met with key industry stakeholders to promote good environmental practices and swap ideas on how to improve environmental management.

The five-day trip in November was organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and included an address to the Primary Production Select Committee.

The Mackenzies also met with sponsors of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and were impressed with how these organisations had taken the sustainability message to heart. . .

Equity partnership options to buy into a farm:

Equity partnerships offer an opportunity for young farmers and smaller investors to take part in the rise in farm values driven by high dairy payouts and continuing confidence in the long-term future of agriculture, says Justin Geddes, Crowe Horwath’s Dunedin-based Principal.

“Equity partnerships are a great vehicle to grow your own wealth for both farmers and investors,” said Mr Geddes.

The capital cost of running an economic farm unit runs to several million dollars, and one of the pressing issues facing the rural sector is how to get young farmers into farm ownership. . .

Fonterra Australia finalises purchase of Tamar Valley Dairy assets:

Fonterra Australia today finalised the purchase of the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy. The Tamar Valley Dairy business is now under full Fonterra ownership and management.

Under the terms of the sale, Fonterra has acquired the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. Fonterra worked closely with Deloitte Restructuring Services to achieve the completed sale.

Importantly, 122 positions of the Tamar Valley Dairy workforce will now transition to Fonterra to ensure the right skill-set and expertise are available to ensure continuity of operations and the long-term sustainability of the business. Regrettably, 18 roles are not required and have been made redundant by the Administrator. . .

Fonterra Wins National Accounting Award:

Two of Fonterra’s senior finance managers picked up the 2013 Innovation of the Year Award at last night’s New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Awards in Auckland.

Patrice Wynen, Director, Finance Delivery Centre, and Ken Stephens, General Manager Reporting Services, were recognised for a new month-end financial acceleration projects that reduced Fonterra’s group reporting time by 50 per cent.

Through the project, Fonterra’s group month-end financial close was reduced from six days down to just three. The reduction was achieved in less than eight months and without any form of technology change. . . .

Comvita posts 1H loss of $790k on margin squeeze - Paul McBeth:

Comvita, which makes health products from Manuka honey, reported a first-half small loss as its margins were squeezed by expensive honey and as trading conditions in Australia and the UK were stretched by stiff competition.

The Te Puke-based company made a loss of $790,000, or 2.7 cents per share, in the six months ended Sept. 30, from a profit of $2.39 million, or 7.95 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Sales fell 4.6 percent to $43.4 million.

That was in line with guidance last month, and Comvita affirmed its annual forecast to beat last year’s profit of $7.4 million and sales of $103.5 million, with about 60 percent of revenue expected to come in the second half. . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest sets sights on Taupo:

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest is pleased to announce the 2015 Grand Final events will be held in Taupo.

The decision comes after a unanimous vote by the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Management Committee.

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest alternates between the North Island and the South Island each year. This year it was held in Auckland and the upcoming 2014 Grand Final will be in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“After three Grand Finals based in larger metropolitan areas, I think the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final hosted in an increasingly agricultural area will go down as one of the most exciting and well-run events in the history of New Zealand Young Farmers,” said Terry Copeland, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO. . .

Trust announces Christmas present for the New Zealand wine industry:

Directors of Wine Competition Ltd, the company that owns and organises the Spiegelau International Wine Competition and Marlborough Wine Show, have established a Trust to fund initiatives designed to enhance the success of the New Zealand wine industry.

Margaret Cresswell and Belinda Jackson established Wine Competition Ltd in 2011as an independent company that owns and organises wine competitions and associated events in New Zealand. Knowing that there were a significant number of unopened bottles following the judging process, the pair decided to establish a Trust to which these bottles were donated. The Trust then auctions the wine with the objective of returning the ensuing funds to the industry.

Trustee, Belinda Jackson explains, “Producers pay to submit their wines for the judging process and send us samples. Though we request the least number possible – just three bottles, we feel strongly that those not used should be returned to the industry somehow.” She continues, “The easiest way is to monetise them and then offer that money back in the form of funding for industry grants and scholarships.” . . .

Queenstown trophy station on market - Chris Hutching:

Sothebys in Queenstown is marketing Homestead Bay overlooking Lake Wakatipu on Remarkables Station next to Jack’s Point golf resort.

The trophy property has been owned by three generations of the Jardine family after being founded in 1861 by Queenstown’s first European settler William Rees. The 45ha site comes with development potential for a resort village plus 27 less intensive building sites.

The station is a working farm that descends down terraces to the lake. . . .

Exporting New Zealand forward:

Federated Farmers is buoyed by surging primary exports that has turned in the lowest trade deficit for an October month since the mid-1990s.

“These export trade figures when coupled with the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research’s outlook for 2014 tells me we are turning the corner,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The primary industries have got our collective foot to the floor and in the month of October by value alone, dairy exports surged an incredible 84.7 percent, followed by logs (26.2 percent), red meat (9.4 percent), fish (5.7 percent) and wine (3.2 percent).

“Of our big six primary exports fruit admittedly did go backwards but the trend overall is positive. . .

NZ winery first in southern hemisphere to trade with bitcoin:

A small high-end winery in North Canterbury is set to become the first wine business in the southern hemisphere to accept bitcoin payment to make transactions easier for its strong domestic and international customer base.

Pyramid Valley Vineyards, Waikairi, produces collectable wines in New Zealand and sees the new currency as a development in line with its innovative approach to business.

“It’s exciting times we live in and bitcoin is a movement that is gaining huge international traction as a currency that is borderless,” says Caine Thompson, managing director of Pyramid Valley. “We’re increasingly getting requests from our international customers to be able to pay with bitcoin, particularly for our exclusive Home Collection wines. They don’t want to be worried about exchange rates and costly transaction fees.” . . .

Record year as NZ Racing Board continues transformation:

At the NZ Racing Board AGM, held at the Head Office in Wellington today, the NZ Racing Board reflected on a record-breaking financial year and outlined its ambitious vision and goals for the future.

Financial achievements in 2013 included a record turnover of $1,956.8m, and record distributions of $147.7m to the racing industry and sporting organisations.

Speaking at the AGM, NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes said the organisation and the industry still faced significant challenges, and ongoing transformation and a collaborative approach is key to further, sustained success for an industry that contributes almost 1% of GDP. . .


Rural round-up

October 9, 2013

Woman wins in rare shearing feat – Sarah Marquet:

For the first time since 1985, a woman has won the senior shearing title at the New Zealand Merino Shears, held in Alexandra on Saturday.Te Atakura Crawford (26), originally of Te Karaka, near Gisborne, but working in Australia, had only been back in New Zealand a few hours before she picked up the handpiece and took on 28 other shearers from around the country.

She was not the fastest shearer in the field but made up for it in quality points, something women are known for, according to New Zealand Merino Shearing Society president Mervyn Kinaston. . .

How dung beettles will improve NZ farms –  Dan Satherley:

Around 500 dung beetles have been released in the south Wairarapa as part of a plan to improve the soil on dairy farms.

This release will be the second to take place in New Zealand, after a Southland farm introduced dung beetles to its soil last month.

The big question is, what they will actually do for our ecosystem?

Bug expert Ruud Kleinpaste says the species being introduced into the North Island are “master diggers” that will return nutrients in cow manure right back into the soil where they fall.

“Nature knows no waste – whatever you and I may think of as waste, they think is a resource,” he said on Firstline this morning. . .

Silver Fern Farms addresses capacity issues, but no progress on meat industry restructure - Allan Barber:

The only meat industry capacity rationalisation evident so far is beef not sheepmeat related. Silver Fern Farms has announced the closure of the beef chain at its Waitoa plant which it bought 18 months ago from Wallace Corporation in, what CEO Keith Cooper said at the time, was an essential contribution to the meat industry’s sustainability.

The logic behind the purchase was to take out a competitor and to provide cover for the loss of Te Aroha’s capacity from a fire. According to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Winders the plant has fulfilled its purpose, but will be retained specifically for bobby calf processing for 12 weeks of the year. Management and veterinary oversight will be provided from Te Aroha which will not be operating at full capacity during the calf season.

Although Waitoa will be mothballed for the remaining 40 weeks of the year, it can be restarted on beef in the event of a drought. There will be 17 salaried positions made redundant as a result of the transfer of beef processing and management to Te Aroha. . .

Forest growers to elect first board:

The Forest Growers Levy Trust, the new organisation representing the interests of all plantation forest owners, large and small, is calling for nominations for its first elected board.

Chair Geoff Thompson says the referendum board of the Trust has applied to associate minister for primary industries Jo Goodhew for a commodity levy on logs and some other plantation forest products. The levy order, which is expected to be issued shortly, will establish a compulsory levy that will apply from 1 January 2014.

“In anticipation of this, elections are being held for the Trust board that will administer the funds raised by the levy. Nominations will be open from 14-31 October, followed by an on-line election for board members from 5-22 November.” . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest Launches in Christchurch:

The 46th season of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest officially got underway last Friday 4th October at the Commodore Hotel in Christchurch.

There was ample turnout at the launch from Young Farmers members, volunteers and representatives from sponsors ANZ bank, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
The Contest’s compere, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, opened the proceedings and was followed by other speakers such as outgoing NZYF CEO Richard Fitzgerald and Graham Turley, Managing Director Commercial and Agri for ANZ. . .

Second National Conference on Biological Farming Systems announced due to popular demand:

A Second national conference on biological farming systems will be held on 13-14 February 2014 in Rotorua. Theme of the conference is “Biological farming under different land uses”.

Biological farming is a holistic approach to modify and improve soil conditions for beneficial microbes to increase soil microbial activity that helps speed-up nutrient cycling, and to re-establish mineral balance in the soil. It is a mix of conventional and organic farming practices involving careful crop and soil monitoring to ensure optimum yields, nutritional density and humus production.

The conference will provide a forum for discussion of a wide range of topics for current and future biological farming systems research. The programme will include two days of technical sessions of oral and poster presentations, panel discussions and scientist-farmer interaction. . .


Rural round-up

May 22, 2013

Farmers will have to change regardless - Hugh Stringleman:

Sustainability is an economic issue, not just an environmental one, and dairy farmers are going to have to change, willingly or unwillingly.

That advice is being given Paul Gilding, veteran Australian environmentalist and former head of Greenpeace, to meetings of New Zealand dairy farmers called by Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The Grow Your Mind series was conducted throughout dairying regions last week, not without protest from dairy farmers annoyed at a Greenpeace activist being given a platform by Fonterra, council chairman Ian Brown said. . .

Lincoln develops farm output:

Lincoln University has formed a new Farms Committee to oversee the development of the 3900ha of farmland owned and operated by the university.

Assistant vice-chancellor Stefanie Rixecker says the new committee will deliver improved outcomes from the university’s portfolio of farms and farming partnerships, as well as expanding the portfolio in the future.

“The Farms Committee has been established to help Lincoln University make the most of its farms for better student experience, for more and better scientific research on productivity and the environment and, perhaps most importantly of all, for an enhanced interface between the university and New Zealand’s farmers,” says Dr Rixecker. . .

Supplier gets standing ovation:

Feeding the supply chain with 2450 lambs in the 2011-2012 season helped Rimrock Hills on the Taihape – Napier Road become Supplier of the Year for Ovation New Zealand.

Ovation’s commercial manager Patrick Maher said, “Their selection was based on them achieving a score of 88.5 per cent mark for supplying on time and to market specification (this made up 50 per cent of the total score). 

“Further marks were achieved for volume of stock supplied and length/loyalty of supply. This gave them a total score of 89.25/100 – a fantastic result,” Patrick said. . .

More Staff to Strengthen Border Biosecurity:

Twelve new frontline border staff will help ensure New Zealand’s biosecurity defences stay strong, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The new staff will receive their quarantine inspector warrants at a ceremony today in Christchurch.

The graduation follows the warranting of 43 new inspectors in December and a recent announcement by Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy that MPI will recruit 30 new quarantine inspectors this year.

“The new inspectors and upcoming recruitment programme will ensure that the biosecurity frontline remains fully staffed and isn’t affected by normal resignations and retirement,” says Steve Gilbert, MPI Director, Border Clearance Services. . .

Wonderful journey just the beginning – Hugh Stringleman:

The 2013 ANZ Bank Young Farmer Grand Final followed the form book, with winner Tim van de Molen, from Waikato-Bay of Plenty, and second-placed Cam Brown, from Taranaki-Manawatu, being previous grand finalists in a contest where experience and endurance mean a great deal. Hugh Stringleman puts van de Molen’s win in context.

This year’s Young Farmer Contest champion Tim van de Molen was back at work the Monday after his competitive ordeal and triumph, as an agri-manager for ANZ Bank in Waikato.

With June 1 settlement date looming for many of his dairy farming clients, he needed to be back on deck for their rural banking requirements. . .

Rockburn Wines Win Gold Medal in the World’s Biggest Global Wine Competition Decanter World Wine Awards:

Rockburn Wines has been awarded a Gold medal in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards for their 2011 – and was the only Central Otago producer to be awarded a Gold Medal in the competition.
Rockburn Pinot Noir, a wine already noted for its trophy success at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards last year.

The Central Otago winery has a history of winning gold medals, particularly for its Pinot Noir, at such competitions as the Air New Zealand Awards, the Sydney International Wine Competition and the International Wine and Spirit Competition and was most recently awarded Champion Open Red Wine for the Rockburn Pinot Noir 2011 at the 2012 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. . .


Tim Van de Molen wins Young Farmer contest

May 19, 2013

Tim Van de Molen of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Region is the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Champion.

“It’s an absolute honour and a privilege”, said Mr Van de Molen following the evening show at TVNZ Studios in Auckland.

The ANZ agri-manager and farm owner from Hamilton was runner up in the 2011 Grand Final. “I’m just delighted with the outcome, it is been a long road to get here”, said Mr Van de Molen.

Mr Van de Molen was not the only winner on stage tonight.

The youngest competitor, Matthew Bell of Aorangi, took out the Ravensdown Agri-skills Challenge and is the proud owner of $14,000 worth of Ravensdown and C-Dax products and services. Taranaki/Manawatu’s Cam Brown triumphed in the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge and won a $15,000 AGMARDT Scholarship towards a career development programme. Reuben Carter from Tasman dominated the Silver Fern Farms Agri-sport Challenge winning a Silver Fern Farms and FarmIQ farmer technology package worth $5,000. And, the Champion, Mr Van de Molen, also took out the Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge and received $9,500 towards an industry related conference package. . . .

It’s a sign of the times that the contest doesn’t get the publicity in general media that it used to.

But the contest, and the title, are still highly regarded in rural circles where the winner will get the respect he’s earned.


Rural round-up

May 18, 2013

Looking out for one another is positive for all - James Houghton:

Rural New Zealand has traditionally been made up of close-knit communities.

The knowledge that the people around you were looking out for you in tough times, as well as good, was a source of huge strength for heartland New Zealand. Lately I feel our rural communities are not as close as they used to be.

This is probably a reflection of society as a whole, but it would be great if we all made more effort to look out for our neighbours and get that sense of community back.

Are we in an era of entirely corporate thinking? Does extracting the value of every dollar and cent make us stronger?

I believe self-interest and self- preservation sometimes work against people. . .

Contestants battle elements as well as each other – Hugh Stringleman:

Seven Young Farmer Contest grand finalists and hundreds of supporters and schoolchildren battled steady rain at Kumeu Showgounds last Friday.

The weather got worse as the contestants tired, which made the combined technical and practical day an endurance test.

About 500 schoolchildren from Auckland secondary schools attended to hear presentations by primary sector leaders on career choices. That part was undercover and was well attended. . .

Mackenzie agreement confirms it is a working landscape:

Farmers who work the Mackenzie country are central to its future and that has been recognised in the Mackenzie Agreement, which was launched on Sunday. This Agreement fundamentally recognises the iconic region to be a working rural landscape.

“The Mackenzie Agreement is a significant achievement,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“This agreement is a tribute to all those who sat down to understand each other’s point of view. It is environmental groups, recreational users and tourism interests reaching common ground with farmers that the Mackenzie is a working landscape with high conservation values. . .

Small grazing blocks drive rural sale volumes:

While Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) data shows 67 more farm sales took place in the three-months to April 2013, this has been driven by the sale of smaller grazing blocks and comes with the median price per hectare falling 9.3 percent.

“While more farms were sold, 42 of them were grazing blocks with a median size of 65 hectares,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Perhaps more significant is that the median price per hectare across all farm types actually fell. At $20,241 per hectare, this is 9.3 percent down on the previous median of $22,317. . . .

Farmlands Marketing Man to Head New $2.2 Billion Co-op Marketing Team:

He’s headed marketing teams in industries as diverse as frozen foods, fragrances and farming and now Allister Bathgate’s success sees him appointed to an executive management role in New Zealand’s major rural retail co-operative.

Mr Bathgate’s new role as General Manger Marketing for Farmlands Co-operative Society Limited is a significant opportunity that doesn’t come along every day so he’s “rapt about it”.

Formerly the General Manager of Innovation and Communication for Farmlands, Waikato-born and bred Mr Bathgate’s new role is a result of the recent merger of rural retailers Farmlands and CRT. . .

NZ fine dining salmon wins global award:

New Zealand’s Ōra King salmon has been judged as ‘remarkable’ at the iTQi Superior Taste Awards in Belgium.

The brand has been developed specifically for fine dining by Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon and was launched only last year.

Ōra King Fresh Whole Salmon achieved two stars in the awards and an overall mark of 83.1 per cent.

The iTQi Superior Taste Awards are in their ninth year and are judged by more than 120 of the world’s opinion-leading chefs and sommeliers. . .


Rural round-up

May 17, 2013

Building water storage too important to become ‘political football’:

IrrigationNZ says it is increasingly concerned about political rhetoric around water storage and a cross-political party agreement is needed to advance the issue.

The national body representing irrigators and the irrigation industry was responding to comments from former Labour MP Stuart Nash that a future Labour Government wouldn’t fund water storage developments.

“As water storage has multiple benefits, from improved river flows to more productive farms and job creation for towns and cities, we struggle to understand why some politicians continue to see water storage as a negative. It’s far too important to be treated as a ’political football’. It’s an investment in New Zealand’s future and one we need to make now,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. . .

Mt Duthie manager single-minded – Sue O’Dowd:

A sheep and beef farmer near Taranaki’s northern gateway wants to see more farmers committing their stock to specific meat processing plants.

Grant Lowry, who manages the 1700ha (1000ha effective) Mt Duthie Station, near Awakino, backs the establishment of a single meat co-operative in New Zealand and the Meat Industry Excellence group’s efforts to get a mandate for industry reform.

The group is hosting its fifth meeting in Te Kuiti tomorrow afternoon, following meetings in Gore, Christchurch, Gisborne and Feilding attended by about 3000 farmers over the last month. . .

Farmers welcome ‘steady as she goes’ Budget 2013:

Federated Farmers is describing Budget 2013 as a ‘steady as she goes’ affair. While there is an increase in new operating spending, this $900 million increase is modest relative to total Government operating spending of $72 billion.

“Budget 2013 continues to move in the right direction as far as farmers are concerned and it is broadly consistent with Federated Farmers’ advocacy,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“We have called for Government spending to be capped and reduced over time to 30 percent of Gross Domestic Product. This is forecast to be achieved in 2016/17. . .

Ultimate Rural Challenge underway in Auckland:

Crowds gathered in Auckland at Aotea Square as the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest officially began.

Auckland City Councillor George Wood opened the proceedings and was delighted this leading agricultural event has come to the ‘City of Sails’.

“We townies look in awe as these young farmers from all over the country get into these different challenges and do such a great job”, Councillor Wood said.

The seven Grand Finalists, each representing a different region, rode into the square on farm bikes and were introduced to the public by Contest announcer Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins and Contest Chairman Bevan Proffit. “It takes a lot of passion and a lot of determination, you also have to be a good all-rounder”, commented Mr Proffit on what it takes to be the Contest Champion. . .

$80m for irrigation – boost to economy, environment:

Budget 2013 has confirmed $80 million in funding for regional irrigation projects, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“After the extreme drought that most of the country has struggled through this year, the need for better water storage is obvious,” he says.

“There is no shortage of water in New Zealand, but we lack the ability to store and use that water when it’s needed most. Currently, only 2 per cent of rainfall is used for irrigation. We need to do a better job of using this resource.

“Increasing irrigation could see a further 420,000 hectares of irrigated land becoming available, creating thousands of new jobs and boosting exports by $4 billion a year. . .

New Zealand has record year of success at International Wine Challenge:

New Zealand collect 38 Gold medals at IWC including 13 gold for their Pinot Noirs.

New Zealand winemakers demonstrated their excellence at the 30th International Wine Challenge winning 38 Gold medals in a record year of success.

Thirteen of the much-coveted Gold medals were awarded to Pinot Noir. “New Zealand’s Pinot just gets better and better and it is hard to beat in terms of quality, consistency and value. One theme that came through in judging this year was the regional diversity. This is great news for New Zealand Pinot and one that suggests that vine age is now starting to have a significant impact” said Sam Harrop MW, Co-Chairman of the IWC. Sauvignon Blanc also scored highly collecting eleven of the 38 Gold medals awarded to New Zealand. . .

‘Waitaki Wine Doctors see double’:

Drs John Forrest of Forrest Wines and Jim Jerram of Ostler Wines are today celebrating double successes with gold medals for their 2010 Waitaki Valley Pinot Noirs.

Awarded by the prestigious 2013 London International Wine Challenge, this echoes the 2012 event when the John Forrest Collection 2009 Pinot Noir was awarded a gold medal together with the Ostler Caroline 2009 Pinot Noir 2012 also winning gold at the equivalent event in Shanghai.

Waitaki Valley in New Zealand’s picturesque North Otago, was first planted in 2001 and the vineyards are mostly small, intensively managed and produce a range of distinctive cool-climate wines. The key viticultural characteristics are the area’s cool climate with warm summers and long, usually dry, autumn seasons. Its geological origins are complex with limestone, alluvial greywacke and schist being found in close proximity at different sites. . .

Coffee harvest plunges in Puerto Rico – Danica Coto:

Coffee production in Puerto Rico has hit the lowest level ever in the island’s history, leaving farmers and government officials worried about how to revive a once burgeoning industry amid a deep economic crisis.

Farmers produced some 39,900 kilograms of coffee during the most recent harvest, which represents only a third of local consumption, Agriculture Secretary Myrna Comas says.

Production in previous years has fluctuated between 47,600 kilograms and 68,000 kilograms, according to department statistics. . .


Rural round-up

May 11, 2013

$3000 colt now worth $1 million – Shawn McAvinue:

A sensitive Middlemarch colt who sold for $3000 is putting silverware on his rider’s mantelpiece and is now worth more than $1 million.

Clifton Promise, the mount of Jock Paget (29), the winner of the prestigious Badminton horse trials in England, was bred in Middlemarch by Kathryn Abernethy (53), of Mosgiel.

The winning 14-year-old gelding was the offspring of her Middlemarch mare Darn Style and Maheno-based American stallion Engagement. . .

Regional finalist brushing up skills – Sally Rae:

Life has been hectic lately for Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (27) will represent Otago-Southland in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Auckland later this month.

When he was not busy working on the farm, he could be found in the office, ”head down in the books”, he said. While at times the extra work could feel a little overwhelming, at other times it felt like he had it under control. . .

Beyond Reasonable Drought:

First the long drought, then the torrential rain – farming in Northland isn’t for the fainthearted! It takes guts to keep going in spite of the weather, the high dollar, and rising prices.

But it takes more than just guts to make a profit. It takes planning, flexibility, and the ability to assess the profitability of “what if” scenarios accurately and quickly.

In the past a farm’s annual financial accounts, probably at least a year old by they time they were completed, were the only way farmers had of deciding whether what they were doing was profitable. That is totally inadequate for today’s farm businesses. . .

Government and fishing industry trial technology:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Department of Conservation (DOC), in partnership with the fishing industry, have recently trialled an electronic monitoring programme in the Timaru set net fishery.

The trial used electronic monitoring technology to automatically record information such as vessel location and interactions between set net fishing vessels and protected species, including Hector’s dolphins. Electronic monitoring involves using on board sensors, cameras and GPS receivers. . .

Rare breed proves real hit with judges -

Colin Lyon hopes more beef farmers will consider trying his rare breed of cattle after making it to the Steak of Origin semifinals for the second time in three years.

He was a semifinalist in this year’s competition with his braunvieh/angus cross entry.

The Steak of Origin aims to find the most tender and tasty sirloin steak in New Zealand. The finalists were decided by a panel of judges in Christchurch yesterday.

His entry was a 27-month heifer, which had a carcass weight of 345 kilograms. . .

Astronuats boost Waikato milking:

Gavin and Susan Weal have become the latest dairy farmers to enter the space age by employing Astronaut A4 robots, made by Lely, on their Pokuru farm near Te Awamutu.

The Weals decided to spend nearly $1 million on three robots when they were faced with building a new dairy shed for next season when they sell 44 hectares of their Candy Rd family farm west of Te Awamutu.

From June 1, the Weals will milk 200 cows on 73ha, having previously milked 280 cows on 117ha. . .

Invivo Wines Awarded Gold Medals At World’s Largest On-trade Focused Competition:

New Zealand’s Invivo Wines has been awarded prestigious gold medals for both their Invivo 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Invivo Central Otago Pinot Noir at the world’s largest on-trade focused wine competition, The 2013 Sommelier Wine Awards recently held in London.  

The tasting panel for the Sommelier Wine Awards reads like a Who’s Who of the UK hotel, restaurant and sommelier scene, with a total of over 80 judges from some of the UK’s top establishments taking part in judging over 1800 wine entries. . .


Rural round-up

April 25, 2013

Concerns For Sheep and Beef Farmer Viability Show In
rural Confidence Survey:

Results at a Glance

• Half of sheep and beef farmers are concerned about their business viability

• Dairy farmers are the most optimistic of the sectors, driving some improvement in overall rural confidence

• One in three farmers on the North Island say their farm is severely impacted by drought

Half of New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers are worried about their ongoing viability as the impact of drought and a sharp fall in lamb prices over the past year take their toll, the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has showed. . .

Fonterra Announces Management Changes:

Fonterra Co-operative Limited announced today senior management changes in its Asia Pacific Middle East Africa (APMEA) business unit, including the departure of the existing Managing Director APMEA and the appointment of a new Managing Director for Australia.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said a new leadership team had now been confirmed for APMEA, effective June 1. It included a new Managing Director Australia, Judith Swales, who joins Fonterra after leading Heinz across Australasia and before that the Goodyear Dunlop Business in Australia.

“Judith has considerable experience in delivering business turnarounds across a number of industry sectors, with a great understanding of consumer, customer and operations which will be critical in our Australian business,” said Mr Spierings. . .

Farmers to learn about environmental best practice:

Federated Farmers is proudly promoting regional Field Days for the Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award Winners. Details of these upcoming Field Days are below.

“What Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award Winners showcase, is how farmers are responsibly using the environment,” says Bruce Wills Federated Farmers President.

“While they say you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, that saying does not hold with agriculture. Farmers devour information and use field days to learn better ways of doing things.

“In March, I was among 200 farmers at the Smedley Station Field Day in Hawke’s Bay. This gives you an idea as to how popular these Ballance Farm Environment Award Supreme Winner Field Days are. . .

Dairy Awards Drives Progress In Industry:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is succeeding in its goal of recognising excellence among farmers as they progress in the dairy industry.
 
Three of the 11 finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition are past entrants and regional winners in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year contest.
 
National convenor Chris Keeping says it is an exciting development in the awards programme, which has run in its current format since 2006 when the sharemilker/equity farmer, farm manager and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions were brought together. . .

New Zealand Seafood Industry Welcomes the National Plan of Action – Seabird:

The New Zealand seafood industry welcomes the new National Plan of Action – Seabirds launched today by the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries has involved many groups including industry and environmental NGOs, in developing the National Plan of Action. This collaborative approach has led to common-sense processes that will deliver results,” says Tim Pankhurst, Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand.

“New Zealand is geographically a global centre for seabirds and the New Zealand industry is committed to maintaining its role as world leader in reducing interactions between seabirds and fishing. . .

Countdown to the Ultimate Rural Challenge:


The Grand Final of the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest is just weeks away and the countdown is on. Tickets are still available for the different events, visit www.youngfarmers.co.nz for more details.

The Grand Final will take place between 16-18 May in Auckland at the Kumeu Showgrounds and SKYCITY, and there is sure to be something entertaining for all ages and interests.

The series of events kick off at 4.00pm, Thursday 16 May, with the Official Opening at Aotea Square. Here, spectators will be entertained with the first Head-to-Head Challenge and introduced to the seven Grand Finalists: Ian Douglas of Northern, Tim Van de Molen of Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Cam Brown of Taranaki/Manawatu, Aaron Passey of East Coast, Reuben Carter of Tasman, Matthew Bell of Aorangi, and Dean Rabbidge of Otago/Southland. . .

Karaka Million Payments Due Tuesday:

Payments for New Zealand Bloodstock’s $1 million Karaka Million– New Zealand’s richest race – are due next Tuesday 30 April.

Horses that were entered by the Entry Deadline of Wednesday 6 March have until 5pm (NZ time) on Tuesday 30 April to pay the Entry Fee of $1,750 + GST per nominated yearling in accordance with the Conditions of Entry.

Please note that any party who has not paid the nomination fee(s) by the deadline will remain liable for the entry fee but their yearling(s) will no longer be eligible for the Karaka Million 2YO or Karaka 3YO Mile. . .


Rural round-up

March 19, 2013

Patchy rains helped some areas, others left dry, Landcorp’s Kelly says – Kristen Paterson:

Patchy rains have provided relief for some farming areas and left others without substantive moisture, says Chris Kelly, chief executive of state-owned Landcorp, New Zealand’s biggest farmer.

The west of the North Island saw higher rainfall, with 15-40mm from Northland to Waitomo down through to Taranaki. The West Coast, which applied for drought status last week, received 20-40mm with more expected to come. The East Coast fared the worst, experiencing no substantial rains, MetService says. . .

Govt awards more than $4m to environmental projects:

A project that will use recycled potato starch to produce more than 17 million compostable packaging trays annually is among the successful recipients of more than $4 million in government funding.

Environment Minister Amy Adams today announced funding of more than $4 million to 11 innovative waste minimisation projects around New Zealand.

Earthpac receives $2.1 million for a project to manufacture compostable meat and vegetable trays. The trays are produced by capturing starch generated from washing potatoes. . .

DCANZ Cautiously Welcomes Japan To TPP:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) today cautiously welcomed Japan to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey said it is a significant achievement to have Japan enter into the TPP. However, at the same time he hopes that Japan’s entry won’t delay the conclusion of negotiations beyond the October 2013 timeline and that they will support the basic premise of TPP.

“We encourage Japan to uphold the commitment made by TPP leaders in Honolulu back in 2011, which was the comprehensive elimination of market access barriers like tariffs on traded goods,” Mr Bailey said. . .

NZ Pork Disappointed With Appeal Dismissal:

The New Zealand pork industry is very disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of its appeal regarding the Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) proposed new Import Health Standard (IHS), Chairman Ian Carter said today.

“We are disappointed as we have concerns about the level of risk the new IHS constitutes.”

MPI welcomes judgment on pork imports

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is pleased with today’s Court of Appeal judgment which found that MPI followed the correct decision-making process before allowing imports of raw pork from countries where the disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is present.

At issue in this case was MPI’s response to an Independent Review Panel report and the process that led to the Director-General’s decision to issue four new import health standards for raw pork.

NZ Pork had alleged MPI did not follow the correct decision-making process.

“Agriculture is vitally important to our economy. In order to protect our primary producers from biosecurity risks, it is essential that we do the right thing when developing import health standards and that we base them on the best available science,” MPI Director-General Wayne McNee says.

NZPork appealed against the introduction of a new IHS relaxing the border standards for importing pig meat from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). . .

Hard yards pay dividends in Methven:

Matthew Bell is the latest Grand Finalist to be named for the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Matthew will be joining six other contestants at the Grand Final in Auckland 16-18 May.

“It’s still all sinking in…I’m over the moon!”, commented Matthew on his triumph on Saturday (16 March) in the Aorangi Regional Final at the Methven A&P Showgrounds and Heritage Centre.

Sam Bryan was runner up followed by Phil Campbell and Phil Wilson placing third and fourth respectively. . .


Rural round-up

March 13, 2013

The big dry - Groping Towards Bethlehem:

We’re in a drought. Pastures are drying out, stock are stressed, and Wellington now has water restrictions (very mild water restrictions, it must be said).

The costs are being toted up. The figures being tossed around are in the $1 to $2 billion range (0.5% to 1.0% of GDP, roughly), which compares to agriculture being ~10% of GDP. If it hits lambing or breeding stock, the impacts could go on past this season. Given the weak economic recovery, there are concerns about moving back into recession.

The drought is, of course, a lack of water. But really, it’s a lack of insurance. By insurance, I mean information and infrastructure that protect us from downside risk. There isn’t enough of that around water in New Zealand, and no wonder. We haven’t needed it. But this year we do, and climate change is expected to increase the variability of weather and make ‘insurance’ more important. . .

Water governance and the RMA - Steve Couper at Waiology:

Deteriorating water quality is consistently rated by many New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern. Their concern is well placed. Some of our lowland waterways are now so badly polluted that the ‘clean green’ brand we promote is being actively challenged.

The evidence for declining environmental health in these waterways is strong. Monitoring 77 sites along 35 rivers, the National River Water Quality Network (NRWQN) shows an overall decline in water quality since its inception in 1989. While the bulk of this deterioration has been caused by diffuse pollution from intensification of agricultural land use, the waterways running through our urban environments are the most degraded. Urban dwellers are in no position to point the finger at “dirty dairying.” . . .

Drought backdrop to disaster research seminars:

Farmers digging in for the reality of a long drought will also have to face the implications of such dry spells on their lifestyle off the land too.

Massey University clinical psychologist Dr Sarb Johal, from the Joint Centre for Disaster Research says the likely recurrence of drought conditions in future farming seasons would not only cause a transition in the management of land and water use but also in the way farmers mentally handled challenges set to affect everything from economic productivity to leisure time.

Dr Johal is among other emergency management specialists gathering at Massey Wellington campus this week for a series of seminars addressing issues around preparing for and responding to natural disaster. . .

Drought could push farm businesses close to the wall – James Houghton:

After meeting with Ministry for Primary Industries representatives on Friday, I am pretty confident that a medium-scale adverse-event drought will be declared for Waikato and much of the upper North Island soon. While any drought declaration would be a relief for farmers, the reality is we need rain, stat.

Some of us have been reluctant to call for an official declaration, because farmers do not want to be seen as bludgers. In fact, we do not get any more help than any other sector struck by a natural adverse event.

There is enough science supporting that this weather is out of the ordinary. However, with this being the third drought declaration since 2008, we could be seeing the start of a worrying trend. . .

NZ wins tri-nations:

The 2013 Pure South Butchery Tri Nations has been taken out by New Zealand’s Wedderburn Sharp Blacks.

The team beat last year’s champions, Australia, and newcomers, Britain, to take the winners spot.

Taking a side of beef and a whole lamb, each team had to use the product to create a butchery display within a two-hour timeframe.

“The pressure was definitely on. We’ve put a lot of work into this competition and it feels great to walk away with the result we were after,” Wedderburn Sharp Blacks Captain Corey Winder said.

“Being on our home turf created the perfect setting for an unforgettable experience.” . .

Young Farmer time again - RivettingKate Taylor:

Okay now I am starting to feel old.

There was a time when I knew everyone (technically, not EVERYone) in Young Farmers, not just in my region, but around the country. Now, as the press releases roll in with the 2013 finalists, they’re just too young! I spoke to a young farmers meeting the other day with another hat on and some of them probably weren’t alive when I joined!

Not just from national conference, but the Young Farmer Contest.. I remember (just to name drop a bit….) when a friend Warwick Catto won in Hastings in1995 (Thomas and I were on the organising committee as well and Warwick is now high on the management list at Ballance Agri-Nutrients), our farming friends Shaun Baxter from the mighty East Coast in 1997 and Callum Thomsen in 2007. Some of them I don’t remember as such but the names are familiar to many in agribusiness in NZ - Young Farmers CEO Richard Fitzgerald was third in 1995, Philip Reid of Southland radio fame won in 1996, Waikato Federated Farmers chairman James Houghton (I think) was second in 1998 (yes Steve Hines, I’ll mention you too cos you won that year!) Paul McGill was in two Grand Finals – he’s just finished a stint as Wairarapa Feds chairman. . .

And Hat Tip CoNZervative:

Image

Townie: “What are those filing cabinets in the field?

Rural hick: “We need to keep accurate records of every sheep.”


Rural round-up

March 9, 2013

Teaching Farm Wins Top Award in East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A well-known Hawke’s Bay station and training farm has taken out the Supreme title in the 2013 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm also collected several category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 7, 2013.

Managed by Terry and Judy Walters, the 5054ha (3186ha effective) sheep, beef and deer farm near Tikokino, northwest of Waipukurau, is home to 22 cadets who are presented with a wide range of learning opportunities during the two years they live and work on the property.

BFEA judges said the intensely scrutinised station sets and achieves high benchmarks.

 “As a working farm Smedley not only practises profitable and sustainable management, it also teaches this ethos to tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.” . . .

Environmentally conscious couple asked to teach others:

An environmentally-conscious farming family in Waikato is being brought on board by Fonterra as part of a project to restore signifcant waterways around the country.

Andrew and Jennifer Hayes farm an 88 hectare dairy farm between two peat lakes – Kaituna and Komakorau (co-mark-a-row), at Horsham Downs in Waikato.

The Hayes have won environment awards for their guardianship of those lakes and Fonterra has asked them to share their knowledge with fellow farmers. . .

Survey Reveals Huge Pasture Investment:

In the past four years New Zealand farmers have sown enough new proprietary pasture seed to cover more than 1.5 million ha of land, new data shows.

“That’s the equivalent of just over 6600 average sized dairy farms,” says Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association (NZPBRA).

Based on tonnages of seed sold for the four years ending 31 December 2012, the data is a NZ first and reveals the ‘colossal’ potential and effect of proprietary plant varieties on NZ farms.

“What this clearly shows is that farmers are using well-bred, well researched, proven plant genetics to get the best out of their land, and their animals,” Chin says. . .

Brown paddock recovery plan – growing grass after the dry:

 Livestock management may have been farmers’ number one priority during recent dry weeks – and rightly so – but now it’s time to think about pastures too.

“We realise you need to look after livestock, however pasture is what’s going to fuel your recovery after rain, and it will be your main feed for the next 12 months,” says senior agronomist Graham Kerr.

“Continued dry conditions in the last three weeks have dramatically changed the pasture situation on many farms, and pasture renewal programmes need to change likewise.”

The best practice in this type of year is to assess all pastures on the farm, and divide paddocks into three categories. This information can then be turned into proactive pasture renewal and pasture management plans. . .

Ambitious Young Winners in Auckland Hauraki Dairy Awards:

At just 28, the 2013 Auckland Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, James Courtman, is young, ambitious and already successful.

Mr Courtman won the title and $14,000 in cash and prizes at the region’s Dairy Industry Awards dinner at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau last night.

“I entered the awards for the first time to challenge myself, to develop better goals, and to try and win!” he said. In February he contested the regional Young Farmers Competition final, winning the AGMARDT agri-business challenge. . .

Last chance for Aorangi Young Farmer:

Next weekend will be Phil Campbell’s last chance at a Grand Final in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. At 31, the last year for eligibility, the sheep, beef and cropping farmer will be the oldest competitor in the Aorangi Regional Final being held at the Methven Showgrounds and Heritage Centre, Saturday 16 March.

Eight competitors will be vying for a spot at the Grand Final in Auckland 16-18 May and their share of a considerable prize pack worth $13,000 thanks to ANZ, AGMARDT, Lincoln University Scholarship, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, and Husqvarna. . .

Cavalier Congratulates Speed Shearers:

The Golden Shears ‘Big Bang’ speed shearing event shows that New Zealand’s reputation for world class shearing is in good hands, says Cavalier Woolscourers Ltd (CWS).

The ‘Big Bang’ is part of the annual Golden Shears programme of events, and sees world class speed shearers compete in Senior and Open grades.

“CWS congratulates Brett Roberts – who topped a Seniors field of 29 contestants with a time of just 34.5 seconds – and Digger Balme, whose 28.92 seconds saw him triumph in the Open section,” said Nigel Hales, CEO of Cavalier Wool Scourers. . .

Wool prices continue firming:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction offering of 24,400 bales saw a 91 percent clearance and a firm to dearer market across the board.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was practically unchanged compared to the last sale on 28th February, firming by 0.23 percent.

Mr Dawson advises that the Fine Crossbred Fleece was generally slightly dearer with the shear types firm to 2 percent stronger. . .


Rural round-up

March 5, 2013

Personal reflections on Land and Water Forum Hugh Canard:

I was asked to contribute to Waiology’s series on water governance, and after a very brief struggle with my inertial guidance system, I thought my contribution should be from the inside of the governance tent looking out. I have been variously engaged in the early stages of the development through to the implementation phases of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, and I have been a member of the small group of the Land & Water Forum. I was selected as a representative of water-based recreation, not for any real or perceived level of expertise in science or engineering.

The Land & Water Forum was a bottom-up response to a rapidly deteriorating state of many of New Zealand’s waterways and failed attempts to address the wider legislative issues. Agricultural intensification and a widespread perception of abundance of water failed to deal with the creeping decline of water quality in many catchments. The stakeholders collectively approached a receptive environment minister to fund the forum in a collaborative process to produce a series of reports. . .

Not just luck in Palmerston North:

Cam Brown is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named for the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest. He earned his win over the weekend, Friday 1st March, at the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final in Palmerston North held at the Railway Land and Awapuni Racecourse.

It wasn’t all luck for the 30 year old Eketahuna dairy farmer.

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”, Cam said. Having a solid support team was essential for his success. “I had a wide range of people behind me to offer their expertise and help me up skill”, he said. . .

NZ organic pastoral sector growing in value – new research results:

 There has been a big increase (33%) in the value of organic dairy production in New Zealand in the past three years, and a smaller 11% increase in the value of organic sheep and beef production. This information and more on the growth in organics are contained in the latest research report on the organic sector – Organic Market Report 2012 – to be launched in Wellington on March 6.* . . .

DairyNZ welcomes NAIT levy reductions:

DairyNZ welcomes the decision of National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) to reduce the tag and slaughter levy on cattle from March 8.

“This is good news for farmers. We’ve been working with NAIT to ensure that it’s as low cost and farmer-friendly as possible,” says DairyNZ’s chief executive Tim Mackle.

“Farmers have responded to NAIT even better than we expected. The high uptake is an indication that farmers, as we knew they would, see the benefits of traceability in terms of increasing our preparedness and reducing risk to the industry.

“It’s great, as it means we’re in a position to lower costs to cattle farmers, earlier than anticipated.” . . .

Million milestone for Kim Crawford Wines:

New Zealand brand Kim Crawford Wines has hit a record one million case sales in the past 12 months with 60 per cent of them going to the USA.

The Kim Crawford label, launched in 1996, has been part of the Constellation Brands NZ Limited portfolio since 2006 with global sales having grown significantly since that time.

Constellation New Zealand’s President Joe Stanton says Kim Crawford is a raging success story overseas and represents in excess of 45 per cent of all Constellation exports.

“It is sold in more than 50 countries and 88 per cent of Kim Crawford wine going offshore is Sauvignon Blanc,” Mr Stanton says. . .


Rural round-up

February 20, 2013

Fonterra plays down reports of Chinese officials destroying NZ milk powder – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, is playing down reports that China’s quarantine administration destroyed three different New Zealand brands of milk powder as being nothing out of the ordinary and part of a regular review.

No Fonterra product was involved.

The kiwi dollar shed half a US cent amid headlines the Chinese agency destroyed the New Zealand powder, just weeks after a global scare about traces of the DCD nitrate inhibiter being present in locally produced milk. Units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund were unchanged at $7.13 today. . .

Agriculture course boosts school - David Bruce:

Waitaki Boys’ High School is returning to its roots with a major investment to boost its agricultural courses.

Rector Paul Jackson sees it as one of the keys to increasing the school roll.

”I want Waitaki Boys’ to again be a school of farming excellence,” he said.

The school last week began the first stage with an investment of about $60,000, virtually all raised through donations and in-kind contributions, to irrigate its farm – about 16ha of paddocks north and south of the school. . .

Green light for Wools of New Zealand as it reaches first threshold:

Wools of New Zealand announced today that it has achieved the minimum threshold of $5 million necessary to proceed with establishing a 100% strong wool grower-owned sales and marketing company.

Achieved one week ahead of the 25 February offer close, the company is now positioned to pursue its commercial, market pull strategy, putting Wools of New Zealand’s brands and market connections to work and further developing its technical and marketing capability for the benefit of its grower shareholders.

This milestone has been reached through the continued support of growers who recognise the need to invest beyond the farm gate. This includes investors in Wools of New Zealand who have converted some of their loans to the Wools of New Zealand Trust into shares in Wools of New Zealand, demonstrating their commitment and confidence in the proposition and their desire to see the company thrive under grower ownership. . .

Federated Farmers asks meat companies how parties can work together – Allan Barber:

Last week Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers’ Meat & Fibre chair, sent a letter to the chairmen and CEOs of the five major sheep meat processors and exporters. The letter asked them to suggest how the parties could work together for the good of the industry.

So far one company, AFFCO, has replied formally, but no doubt others will respond in due course. Maxwell sees this as an age of ‘collaborative governance’ in which farmers and meat companies must go forward together instead of fighting each other. She says there’s nothing to be gained by rattling the cage to no purpose and the intention of the letter is to start the conversation between the parties.

The last twelve months have been seriously stressful, if not disastrous for the meat industry. A year ago the companies were paying an unsustainable $8 a kilo slaughter weight or around $150 per lamb, but the market price and exchange rate combined had already sent this into serious loss making territory for the processors. Just how serious was confirmed by the published annual results from Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, although Blue Sky Meats’ result for the period ended 31 March gave a good indication. . .

Think before letting dogs breed – Anna Holland:

EIGHTEEN YEARS ago I retired from shepherding; I had been hitting my head against a brick wall for too many years. It had been a frustrating occupation met with much resistance. Slowly it is changing and now there are some very capable women being given the opportunity to work the land.

Since then I have tried my hand at other things. My passion for working dogs never waned and I still bred the odd litter of pups, and in the last few years I trained a number of young dogs to the point of being ready to join someone’s team. . .

Effluent results improving, but farmers could do better – NRC

Northland’s dairy farmers have received qualified praise for their increased compliance with farm dairy effluent resource standards but there’s still plenty of room for improvement, those doing the monitoring say.

The latest Northland Regional Council monitoring figures for the 2012/13 milking season show almost 80 percent of the region’s 978 dairy farms were either fully compliant with their resource consent conditions and or rules, or had only minor non-compliance.

Operations Director Tony Phipps says particularly pleasing for the council was a thirty percent drop in significant non-compliance, which fell to nearly 200 farms compared with close to 300 farms reported twelve months earlier.

He says in recent years many of the region’s farmers have invested heavily in improvements to their effluent disposal systems and it’s pleasing to see that outlay starting to pay off. . . .

Down to the wire at Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final -

Tim van de Molen is the second Grand Finalist in 2013 after he won the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final for the ANZ Young Farmer Contest on Saturday, February 16 in Hamilton at St Paul’s Collegiate School.

It was a very tight race throughout the competition, the final result came down to just one question.
Van de Molen had his work cut out for him narrowly taking the win by just two points ahead of competitor Dwayne Cowin. Josh Cozens and James Bryan were not far behind, placing third and fourth respectively. . .

Comvita flags 15% fall in FY profit on honey costs, supply shortages:

Comvita, which produces health products from manuka honey and olive leaves, expects a 15 percent fall in annual profit because of expensive honey, supply shortages and tough trading conditions in the UK and Australia.

The Te Puke-based company expects net profit of $7 million in the year ending March 31, down from $8.2 million a year earlier which it had been expecting to beat, Comvita said in a statement.

Sales are forecast to rise 4 percent to about $100 million. The profit warning comes after increases in wholesale honey prices of up to 50 percent, and weak consumer confidence in Australia and the UK, which made it hard to pass on rising costs. . .


Rural round-up

February 12, 2013

Are dairy farm workers well paid? – Milking on the Moove:

I often hear dairy farmers say “farm workers work hard, but they are paid well too”

Well are they?

I thought I would look at three scenarios and compare them to a few jobs in town.

They are:
Entry level dairy farm worker 

18 years old
1 years dairy experience
No tertiary qualifications
Is likely to break things/crash things/stuff things and generally do stupid things at any time with no reasonable explanation. . .

Historic Caterpillar tractors to remain in New Zealand:

A collection of 36 rare and historic Caterpillar tractors will stay in New Zealand – thanks to Ben Gough, executive director of Gough Group and his sister, Gina Satterthwaite.

The Canterbury-based brother and sister have secured a deal which will see the machines and associated equipment remain here following the sale in Rotorua of the privately-owned New Zealand Caterpillar Experience.

The Experience has operated for the last seven years, and is well known world-wide as a unique collection of rare machines.

“When the owner, Lindsay Willis, contacted us to see if we were interested in buying the collection, it was too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Ben Gough. . .

Tamariki get farm training on customary land:

A training centre set up to get more tangata whenua into farming has taken on its first students.

Eight people have so far signed up for lessons on a South Taranaki dairy farm owned by Te Rua o Te Moko.

It sits on blocks of customary land in Normanby – collectively controlled by 1100 owners. . .

New Zealand Campaign Signs Two Year Contract with Global Campaign for Wool:

The Campaign for Wool New Zealand has just signed a further two year contract with the global Campaign for Wool.

National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests, who manages the campaign, has endorsed the international plan focused on the concentrated global populations in the Northern Hemisphere, principally in Europe, USA and Asia.

Chairman, Stephen Fookes said, “The patronage of HRH Prince of Wales and other members of the Royal family has provided a huge boost to the aim of creating a wool renaissance globally. We are now starting to see real evidence of increased demand at the consumer end, and this must eventually flow back to wool growers”. . .

New Zealand cheesemakers set to battle for top honours at the tenth NZ Champions of Cheese Awards:

Wheels of cheese are turning, coloured wax is being applied and cheese is being carefully packed for shipping as the country’s finest cheesemakers vie for top honours at the tenth annual NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

From the smallest artisan cheesemakers producing one cheese a day to the biggest dairy plants exporting cheese globally, New Zealand’s best speciality cheese will take centre stage under one roof later this month.

Marking a ten year milestone this year, the 2013 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards judging will take place at The Langham in Auckland on Sunday 24th February.

With 413 entries from 59 different cheese companies, including six first time entrants and a larger number of smaller artisan companies, this year’s competition may deliver interesting results, organiser of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Vikki Lee Goode says. . .

Future of postal services: Rural delivery a lifeline says New Zealand Rural General Practice Network:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network agrees with Rural Women New Zealand when it says the special role of the rural delivery service needs to be acknowledged and preserved as far as possible.

The Rural Women NZ Postman pat-on-the-back Awards in 2012 revealed the extent of the social and practical services provided by rural delivery contractors who often deliver groceries, medicines, supplies or spare parts, all of which help farmers, small businesses and families overcome the obstacles of living long distances from town.

The award entries also revealed the very important social role played by rural posties. . .

First finalist named in Northern Regional Final:

Ian Douglas, from the Whangarei Young Farmers Club earned top place at the Northern Regional Final in Whangarei on Saturday 9th February, after a long day at the Barge Park Showgrounds.

Mr Douglas secured his spot at the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final in Auckland 16 – 18 May and took home the winner’s prize pack valued at $9000 which includes cash components from ANZ and AGMARDT, a Lincoln University Scholarship for an entrepreneurial workshop, quality fertiliser products from Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms retail products, and a Honda XR125 two-wheeled farm bike.

Prizes for the runners up included cash from ANZ, Ravensdown products, a Honda water pump, and outdoor power equipment from Husqvarna. All entrants have the opportunity to apply for one of seven Lincoln University Study Scholarships worth up to $4000 each. . .


Rural round-up

January 18, 2013

Groser welcomes new OECD-WTO report on international trade:

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the OECD-WTO’s estimates of “Trade in Value-Added” at the launch of the new database in Paris.

“This new data estimates trade in value-added terms, which helps convey the interdependencies of global value chains and reveal who ultimately benefits from trade,” Mr Groser says.

“Engaging internationally is crucial to all countries’ future prosperity. New Zealand is especially well connected to global value chains in the agriculture and food sectors.”

According to OECD estimates, 81 percent of New Zealand exports’ value is created domestically. This is higher than the OECD average of 72 percent, reflecting both our geographic distance and the importance of agricultural products to our exports. . .

Fonterra trading scheme adds new dynamic for farms -

The introduction of Fonterra’s Trading Among Farmers (TAF) share trading scheme has added a new dynamic to the market for dairy farms, and has potential to put downward pressure on farm values, Real Estate Institute of NZ rural market spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

The introduction TAF last November has been a spectacular success and probably far greater than Fonterra could ever have have anticipated, according to market participants.

The units, which do not carry voting rights and which can be owned by the public, last traded at $7.45 – a 35.5 per cent premium their $5.50 issue price. The success of the units has rubbed off on the value of Fonterra shares, which can only be traded by farmers. The shares last traded at $7.42 compared with a pre-TAF “fair value” share price – set by Fonterra – of $4.52. . .

Depression in rural communities a concern:

With a disproportionate number of suicides in the rural sector, Federated Farmers is calling for a proactive approach to solve the problem.

Hawke’s Bay farmer and the province’s Dairy Chairperson, David Hunt, has experienced depression first hand. He knows just how frightening and lonely it can be. Here is his story:

“A farmer suicide recently compelled me to come forward, as I have great respect for what John Kirwan has done for mental health and I wanted to share my experience to help farmers. What helped me accept my depression were the people opening up to me about theirs. There is no shame in it, depression is a hereditary illness that causes a chemical imbalance in your brain, there’s no choosing what illness you get,” he says. . .

Education will help quad bike safety – Jeanette Maxwell:

Quad bikes have been in the news following two deaths and several injuries over the Christmas and New Year period.

Most incomprehensible was the incident in which 6-year-old Ashlee Shorrock suffered serious injuries after being flung from a quad bike that veered off a Hawke’s Bay road late at night. What were she and the four adults also injured in the crash doing on the bike in the first place?

However, while it may not seem like it from the intense media coverage, quad bike deaths and serious injuries remain relatively rare despite the 100,000 machines in New Zealand.

While quad bikes are dangerous if mishandled and the farm toll is serious and must come down, we fear that politicians will respond to the media coverage by jumping at ”solutions’ . . .

Chance to win a free paddock and boost productivity:

Federated Farmers hopes all farmers will enter the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust’s (PRCT) ‘Win a Free Paddock’ competition which begins on 20 January and runs through to 28 February.

All farmers are eligible to enter for three chances to win $8000 worth of products and technical advice used in the pasture renewal process.

“Federated Farmers is proud to support PRCT’s work in this area because pasture renewal is a core farming activity improve pasture quality, which in turn brings greater productivity, increased returns, improved animal health and more farm management options,” Federated Farmers board member and New Zealand Grassland Association executive member Anders Crofoot says. . .

Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive announced:

The chair of Seafood New Zealand, Eric Barratt, today announced that Tim Pankhurst has been appointed chief executive of Seafood New Zealand effective from April 2013.

Mr Pankhurst is currently the general manager of the Communications and Media Industry Training Organisation (CMITO) and Print NZ, as well as having an advisory editorial role with the Newspaper Publishers’ Association (NPA). He was previously chief executive of NPA and is a former daily newspaper editor of The Dominion Post, The Evening Post, Waikato Times and The Press. . .

Husqvarna joins the Sponsor Family of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest:

New Zealand Young Farmers are proud to announce Husqvarna NZ have partnered with the ANZ Young Farmer Contest as prize sponsors of New Zealand’s Ultimate Rural Challenge.

Husqvarna is a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, designed to work in the toughest of conditions. One of the oldest industrial companies in the world with more than 300 years of history and experience, the Husqvarna Group today is the global leader in outdoor power products for forestry, lawn and garden care. . .


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