Rural round-up

December 10, 2013

Meat industry looks to tackle over-capacity:

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

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

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

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

More ‘foodies’ less producers -

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

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

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

Wandering stock warnings:

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

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

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

Five-stand shearing record bid - Abby Brown:

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

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

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

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

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

Prevention best protection for facial eczema risk:

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

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

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

PGW talks up farm sales:

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

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

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


Rural round-up

October 20, 2013

Access big hurdle in China – Tim Fulton:

ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison took the podium at the China Business Summit to argue the big problem for the meat industry in China was market access.

“New Zealand, like all countries supplying meat to China, is currently caught in the midst of a huge reform process, with food safety and related regulatory changes a very prominent part,” Harrison said.

The process of getting NZ meat plants approved by AQSIQ, China’s inspection agency, had been tortuous.

One ANZCO plant the Ministry for Primary Industries certified for export to China in 2009 was finally officially listed by AQSIQ four years later, he said. . .

Alliance profit but no dividend – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group made a profit in its latest year but not enough to allow pool distribution or dividend payment.

Alliance had achieved good cashflow and improved its equity ratio over the year, chairman Murray Taggart told shareholder farmers in Christchurch last week.

Alliance was cautious about markets for this season but there were several positives, Taggart said.

Detailed results of the latest year would be released soon. . .

Mega-merger of dairy industry was ‘miracle’ – Clive Lind:

It was a miracle the New Zealand dairy industry, with it’s strong-willed people and philosophical conflicts, completed the mega-merger that formed Fonterra, says the author of a new book.

Clive Lind, a Fairfax executive and former daily newspaper editor, spent three years researching and writing Till the Cows Came Home, to be published mid-next month.

Through the eyes of key industry people he interviewed, Lind tells the stories behind the multi-billion dollar industry – from 40 years ago when the single-seller Dairy Board was jolted into an urgent search for new markets when Britain started talks to enter the European Economic Community, to the emergence of added-value products, the economics-driven consolidation of more than 100 dairy companies into less than a handful, to the writing on the Beehive wall for the single-seller producer board and the efforts of the industry to find a structure solution for the future. . . .

Plant & Food Research innovation recognised:

Plant & Food Research had two reasons to celebrate at last nights New Zealand Innovators Awards held at Auckland Museum. The Crown Research Institute won the ‘Innovation in Environment and Agriculture’ category for research into insect sex pheromones, while the Biopolymer Network (BPN), a company jointly owned by Plant & Food Research, Scion and AgResearch, also won the ‘Innovation Excellence in Research’ category.

Sex pheromones, the natural chemicals released by the females of many insect species to attract mates, can be used to disrupt communication between insects, reducing their ability to identify mates and subsequently leading to a reduction in the population and reduced reliance on chemical controls. . .

Raw milk venture renews enthusiasm - Tony Benny:

Selling raw milk direct to the public has allowed a Canterbury farmer to get back to what he loves and that’s milking cows.

Geoff Rountree and his wife, Sandra, gave up dairy farming nine years ago because their hay-making business was growing and the days were not long enough to do everything.

“The contracting was building and it was getting a bit out of hand because the cows weren’t coming first, they were coming second and that shouldn’t have been the case,” he said.

The 105 cow herd went and the seven a side herringbone shed at Oxford was mothballed but Rountree missed being a dairy farmer. “Sandra always said to me, ‘stop pining to milk cows, go and milk someone else’s’.” . . .

Tweeting shows common concerns - Abby Brown:

A world-wide live Twitter discussion, #Agrichatworld, on issues facing farmers was a global first and revealed some recurring concerns, organiser Josien Kapma said.

Those concerns included climate, sustainability, ignorance of consumers, ever fewer farmers and complexity around farms.

The conversation also showed that farmers think the public have the wrong view of farmers’ values which is exacerbated by the rural/urban divide.

One of the questions asked by @AgrichatUK was what farmers wish the non-farming public knew about them.

The respondents’ tweets showed that farmers feel the urban/rural divide is alive and well and growing as the non-farming public tend to think as farmers only being about the bottom line and not also wanting to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. . .


Rural round-up

August 22, 2013

Age crisis dawns as sunset years sets on workers - Hugh Stringleman:

KPMG has delved into the perplexing reasons why young people don’t take careers in agriculture more seriously in a country which relies upon the primary sector. Hugh Stringleman has read its latest Agribusiness Agenda report.

The capability of the people who work the land has made New Zealand what it is today.

While competitors can replicate equipment and processes, it is not easy to replicate the insight and relationships that people have developed over decades, according to the latest KPMG agribusiness report.

But the ages of existing farmers, orchardists and scientists continue to rise and the entire primary sector faces manpower shortages now and in the future. . .

Balance sheets under stress from lower livestock numbers – Allan Barber:

After the discussions between meat companies, lobbying by MIE, conferences and strategy debates, right now an eerie calm has settled over the meat industry. This is partly due to the mid winter slowdown in processing activity with only bobby calves to get excited about

At this time of year companies are doing their best to minimise any losses in the last quarter. There is no doubt the final results will be a lot better than last year, but they have to be, because the large companies could not sustain another big hit to their balance sheets.

Combined current and non-current debt between Silver Fern Farms, Alliance and ANZCO of $710 million at 30 September 2012 to fund losses and inventories means a substantial improvement this season is absolutely essential. The noises from the processors suggest moderate profits at best, mainly because of a sell down of inventory leading to reduced current debt and better control of procurement, offset by lower margins. . .

Spierings leads charge of change – Fran O’Sullivan:

Fonterra boss Theo Spierings has consolidated his powerbase at the dairy co-operative with chairman John Wilson’s emailed statement to shareholders that the board has confidence in the way the chief executive is handling the tainted whey protein affair.

The brutal truth is that long-time senior executive Gary Romano – who ran the New Zealand operation – had already offered himself up as the sacrificial lamb.

Romano’s resignation came before the various inquiry teams had even started delving into who to blame for the late discovery of “clostridium” in a batch of whey protein which had been made into infant formula and other products.

Since then two other executives have been put on leave – a clear indication that Fonterra already has a good idea where the buck will stop on this fiasco. . .

Auctioneers competition returns:

Following a successful inaugural event, the Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition will return to the Canterbury A&P Show in 2013. 

The competition aims to showcase and develop young livestock auctioneers and improve the standard of auctioneering across the board. 

During the judging, which includes a test of auction rules and a mock auction, each entrant will be required to sell three lots of heifers/bulls. . .

Eastern Southland Dairy Conversion Benefits from Farm Environment Competition:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped a fledgling Southland dairy operation measure its progress as a successful and sustainable farming business.

South Coast Dairy Ltd, an equity partnership between five families, owns 202ha between Curio Bay and the Haldane Estuary in Eastern Southland. The former sheep and beef farm was converted four years ago and now milks 385 cows on a 135ha milking platform.

Mindful of the farm’s location in a sensitive coastal area, the owners have made a big effort to mitigate the environmental impacts of dairying, with extensive riparian fencing and planting work conducted following consultation with the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland, Landcare Trust and Fish and Game. . .

Brancott Vineyard celebrates its 40th anniversary:

As the pioneers of the Marlborough wine region and its signature varietals, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, Brancott Estate is excited to celebrate 40 years since the first planting of vines at Brancott Vineyard, home of world-renowned Brancott Estate wines.

On 24 August 1973, in front of a crowd of local media, politicians and business leaders, the Marlborough wine industry was born. At the time, the founder of what is now Brancott Estate, Frank Yukich made the statement that “wines from here will become world-famous” – and indeed they have, receiving many prestigious awards and accolades around the world. . .


Rural round-up

August 12, 2013

 

Bacteria detection a game changer for meat industry:

A SOLUTION to a meat industry headache is offered by Christchurch company Veritide.

“We’ve proven the concept of our real time, non-contact bacterial detection technology in the meat industry,” says chief executive Craig Tuffnell. “We have a known problem and a huge opportunity to provide a solution for meat companies and food processors that need to identify and manage their pathogen risk.”

Tuffnell says Veritide has worked with ANZCO to prove its concept, and it and other food processing companies will assist prototype development, testing and validation, and as an actual product is taken to market. . .

‘Part of deer industry fabric’ - Sally Rae:

”It’s not the end for Invermay. It’s not the end for Otago.”

That was one of the messages from Federated Farmers national vice-president William Rolleston as he outlined his thoughts on AgResearch’s proposed major restructuring, which will result in 85 jobs at Invermay, near Mosgiel, being relocated to other parts of the country.

While it was going to be tough on scientists and their families who were going to have to move – ”that’s always painful, we have to recognise that” – he believed that, in the long-term, it was a sensible strategy for AgResearch to be clustering itself around the country’s two agricultural universities. . .

Drought “response hero” gets life membership:

A long-standing Federated Farmers member has been granted life membership of Federated Farmers. Former Hawke’s Bay provincial president, Kevin Mitchell, was bestowed the honour after more than 30 years of outstanding service to the Federation.

“It is the least our organisation can do,” said Will Foley the current Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

”Kevin was my first introduction to Federated Farmers and has been an inspiration.  He has always strived to uphold the Federation’s drive to achieve profitable and sustainable farming. . .

Waste animal products turned into a winner:

PLACENTAS WERE never part of Angela Payne’s plans when she started in business in 2002 supplying ‘waste’ animal products to a few niche clients.

“I didn’t think I would end up collecting placentas, let alone they would become the main product,” says Payne, founder and sole owner of Agri-lab Co Products, Waipukurau. The business has won the 2013 Fly Buys ‘Making it Rural’ Award, recognising manufacturing and creative businesses run by members of Rural Women NZ.

The business sources waste animal products including placentas, glands and membranes from farmers and freezing works, and, in some cases, freeze-drying them for health supplements and skincare products. Most are exported as frozen raw ingredients for further processing overseas. . .

Cowboys accept challenge - Sally Rae:

Three Southern cowboys are heading to Australia this month as members of a high school team to compete in a transtasman challenge.

The team is captained by Omarama teenager Clint McAughtrie (17), a year 13 boarder at John McGlashan College, and includes Logan Cornish (16), from Central Otago, and Clint’s brother Wyatt (15), who is travelling reserve. The trio are all bull riders. . .

Over the moon about deer cheese:

John Falconer runs 5000 deer on 4000ha at Clachanburn Station and he’s milking them for all they’re worth – literally.

The Maniototo farmer has turned to milking hinds in the past 15 months to open up new avenues for growth.

And what does Mr Falconer make with his deer milk? Cheese, of course.

”It’s certainly different, it’s certainly unique,” he says of the cheeses’ flavour. . .

Campaign for planting bee friendly plants – Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury researchers believe they’ve come up with a way to increase biodiversity and bee populations on farms, and they say they can do it without having to use valuable productive land.

Cropping farmer John Evans is hoping to have thousands of healthy bees pollinating his crops this spring and summer.

That’s because he’s planted 12,000 trees on unused land around his irrigation pond, giving the bees something to eat even in the middle of winter.

“Good farming is always working with nature rather than against nature,” says Mr Evans. “The fact that we can encourage insects and bees is letting nature work for us rather than fighting it all the time.” . . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2013

Debt puts pressure on large companies to achieve solution – Allan Barber:

If there was ever a compelling reason for the meat companies to sort out the problems of procurement competition and excess capacity, the debt levels on the balance sheets of the big three at the end of last season provide one.

Between them they stacked up combined current and non-current borrowings of $710 million, 45% of these on Silver Fern Farms’ books, 28% on Alliance’s and 27% on ANZCO’s. No wonder they can’t afford another loss-making year like 2011/12 which makes this year so important for getting back into as healthy a condition as possible.

The forecast livestock volumes, especially sheep and lambs, for the next four years place a great deal of pressure on the companies to find a solution urgently before procurement competition breaks out yet again. MPI’s Situation and Outlook Report which came out in June predicts a gradual recovery in values, but livestock numbers and export tonnages are virtually static or declining, because of the effects of the drought, herd and flock rebuilding and the impact of dairy on land use. . .

Ballance pays record rebate after record performance:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients shareholders are in line for a record rebate and dividend of $65/tonne, along with a recommended 60 cent increase in the value of their co-operative’s shares to $8.10.

The rebate averaging $60.83 per tonne and a fully imputed dividend of 10 cents per share will be paid out nearly six weeks earlier during mid-August, with Ballance Chairman David Graham saying the payment has been brought forward to reward shareholders and assist them with cash flows at the start of the season.

“The drought may be over but the financial impacts are not, so we are fast-tracking the payment for shareholders in recognition of that so they can gain the full benefits of a good year for their co-operative as quickly as possible.” . . .

AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

 With food being to New Zealand what ‘Silicon Valley’ is to the United States’ technology sector, Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch’s strategic move to create two major research campuses supplemented by two smaller ones.

“Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch in what is an important strategic move for it and New Zealand,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Its masterplan is about supporting primary exports to reach $64 billion by 2025.

“We cannot deny there is a human element to this change and while 40 positions are slated to go, the actual number will be low given this is a four- year transition. That said, it will require a number of staff and their families to consider where their long-term futures lie.

“Federated Farmers is encouraged to see that no staff will be required to relocate until 2016. . .

Reduce nitrate leaching with mobile milking system – Milking on the Moove:

Unconventional ways to reduce nitrate leaching

Part 1 
A few weeks ago I explained how agroforestry is a farming system that is able to reduce nitrate leaching.

Part 2
Today I will talk about how a dairy farming system based around a mobile cowshed is able to reduce the level of nitrate leaching.

A traditional cowshed is in a fixed location. The cows have to be within walking distance of the cowshed because they need to get milked twice a day.

The main cause of nitrate leaching on dairy farms in the cows urine patch.

For this reason, the cows are always grazed on the same block of land surrounding the cowshed. . .

Honouring the unsung young heroes of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry:

Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Friday 2 August 2013.

Hawke’s Bay is internationally renowned for its wine. The local wineries and winemakers are household names, with exceptional reputations in New Zealand and further afield.

Less well known, but just as crucial to the crafting of world-beating wine, are the viticulturists. They are intimately involved in all aspects of vineyard management; their extraordinary knowledge ensuring winemakers have the best possible grapes to work with after each harvest.

The region’s best up-and-coming viticulturists are being honoured on Friday 2 August at the Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. This is being held at Mission Estate – their viticulturist Caine Thompson took out the Hawke’s Bay competition in 2009. He went on to win the national awards, before being named New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year. . .

Technology could be future boon for kiwifruit growers:

A new online system is being developed that might one day help kiwifruit growers make decisions on when to spray orchards for pests and diseases. The system is in the early stages of development in a joint project between the University of Waikato and Plant & Food Research (PFR).

The web-based tool is should help reduce time and costs associated with pest monitoring in kiwifruit orchards and spray application.

The current process of physically monitoring pest levels is time consuming, says University of Waikato summer research scholarship student Michael Fowke.

“Spraying is a necessary exercise for growers and a lot of time is spent trying to identify when or whether spraying is needed,” he says. “It will need a lot more testing in the field but potentially this system could cut that time down considerably.” . .

Iwi Suggests To Pull Plug on Dam:

At a Hui an Iwi held at Matahiwi marae last night, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated was asked by several Heretaunga hapū to oppose the Ruataniwha Dam project on their behalf.

The main reasons given were inadequate consultation, selective information release, and the failure by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to recognize and acknowledge the Tino Rangatiratanga that hapū had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial. . .

Keen-To-Learn Farmer Turns to Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Information and Inspiration:

Returning to the family farm five years ago was an in-the-deep-end experience for Waikato farmer James Bailey and his wife Ella.

‘Momona’, a 440ha (effective) Tirau sheep and beef farm, had been in the Bailey family for five generations, so James was eager to start off on the right foot. While he was mindful of the work performed by past generations, he was also keen to improve the environmental sustainability of the business.

James, a keen surfer, is co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines – an award-winning registered charity that organises coastal clean-ups, educational programmes and riparian plantings. . .


Rural round-up

April 11, 2013

Foray into farming stories for children proves fruitful - Sally Rae:

When Lee Lamb could not find books about farming to read to her young son, she decided to do something about it.

Brought up on Grampians Station, near Lake Tekapo, Mrs Lamb now lives on a sheep and beef station in northern Southland with her husband Jamie and their two young sons Jack (5) and Thomas (3).

It was while living in Omarama that she first picked up a pen, having become frustrated by being unable to buy a book about farming for Jack – who was farming-mad. She sat down one day ”and gave it a go” but did not take it any further until after moving to Waikaia and following the birth of Thomas, when she had a bit more spare time. . .

Dairy Awards Winners Achieve Goals:

The 2013 Canterbury/North Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Morgan and Hayley Easton, are using their knowledge to achieve their farming goals.

“Both Hayley and I are well educated in fields supportive of an agribusiness career, which we think is important when running large-scale dairy farms today,” Morgan Easton says. “Large dairy farms are big businesses with significant turnover and numbers of people employed. We feel the knowledge gained from our education has undoubtedly helped us achieve our farming goals to date.”

The other major winners at the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner held at Hotel Ashburton last night were Richard Pearse, the Farm Manager of the Year, and Adam Caldwell, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. Coincidentally Mr Pearse employs Mr Caldwell as an assistant on the Ashburton farm he manages. . .

Ferret trapping programme:

The Animal Health Board is taking advantage of the scavenging habits of ferrets to track bovine tuberculosis in western Southland.

There are only two cattle herds still under movement control in the region because of TB infection, compared with 56 herds in 1996.

TBFree Southland chairman Mike O’Brien said ferret trapping plays an important role in protecting cattle and deer herds from Tb-infected wild animals because they indicate whether the disease is present in other wildlife, especially possums, which can spread the disease to livestock. . .

Freshwater changes show promise – Environment Commissioner:

The Government’s proposed changes to freshwater management are much needed, but only if they are implemented properly says the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright.

Dr Wright submitted on the changes this afternoon, and says moves to improve water quality are welcome.

“It’s vital we make progress on water quality, and the proposed changes are a step in the right direction. . .

Last call for applications for leading farm business management programme:

Applications close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, the region’s leading agricultural business management course for the next generation of farm leaders.

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious Rabobank program offers young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia, and a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple says the Farm Managers Program is constantly evolving to reflect the changing challenges and opportunities in agriculture. . .

ANZCO’s published result confirms anticipated loss – but could have been worse - Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s financial result to the end of September 2012 was posted on the Companies’ Office website on Friday in compliance with the statutory requirement for private companies. ANZCO reported losses of $25.6 pre-tax and $19.2 million after tax. We now have the details for the big three meat companies which publish their results and, as anticipated, none makes pleasant reading – total pre-tax losses of $140.4 million and post-tax $102.2 million.

But after seeing the numbers from Alliance and Silver Fern Farms in December, it was possible ANZCO’s could have been quite a bit worse. That they weren’t appears to have been the combination of strength in beef and some good management decisions which mitigated the worst effects of a very difficult year. . .


Rural round-up

December 14, 2012

Food and beverage stars for NZ to hitch its wagon to – report – sticK:

There’s not that many reports you can sit down and study and go – uumm, interesting.

But Auckland-based Coriolis has done it (again), and their ‘Investors guide to emerging growth opportunities in NZ food and beverage exports’ is, and I don’t say this lightly, quite fascinating.

The company has deliberately taken its methodology and report-back from a (potential) investor’s point of view.

The simple objective was to find the next ‘wine’ – such as that fledgling industry existed 25 years ago.
Over 500 food & beverage items, based on export trade codes, were screened down to 25 candidates for stage II in-depth investigation. . . .

Strong Finish To Spring Selling Season:

Summary

Farm sales increase 9.8 per cent compared to October
Median $/ha price rose 11.9 percent compared to November 2011
After noticeable period of absence first farm buyers active in Waikato and Taranaki
Lifestyle property sales lift 24% compared to November 2011

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 25 more farm sales (+9.8%) for the three months ended November 2012 than for the three months ended October 2012. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months to end of November 2012, compared with 315 farm sales in the three months to November 2011, a decrease of 34 sales (-10.8%). 1,417 farms were sold in the year to November 2012, 23.4% more than were sold in the year to November 2011. . .

Cheese first made at least 7,500 years ago – Maria Cheng:

Little Miss Muffet could have been separating her curds and whey 7,500 years ago, according to a new study that finds the earliest solid evidence of cheese-making.

Scientists performed a chemical analysis on fragments from 34 pottery sieves discovered in Poland to determine their purpose. Until now, experts weren’t sure whether such sieves were used to make cheese, beer or honey.

Though there is no definitive test for cheese, Richard Evershed at the University of Bristol and colleagues found large amounts of fatty milk residue on the pottery shards compared to cooking or storage pots from the same sites. That suggests the sieves were specifically used to separate fat-rich curds from liquid whey in soured milk in a crude cheese-making process. . .

Debt is good under some circumstances – Allan Barber:

After my column last week about meat industry debt levels, Keith Cooper, CEO of Silver Fern Farms, took me to task for incorrectly reporting the situation with Silver Fern Farms’ debt facility.

I stated that these expired in September 2012 and therefore the company was operating on a temporary extension. The correct position was that the debt facility was originally negotiated for two years from September 2010 and consequently due to expire in September 2012. This remained the position at balance date in September 2011. However in the 2012 annual report, the facility was stated as expiring on 31 December 2012. . . .

Farmgate raw milk sales to continue:

Farm gate sales of raw milk will continue and the amount that can be purchased is likely to increase, Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson said today.

Farmers will also be exempt from the current requirement to have a costly Risk Management Programme for farm gate sales of raw milk and will instead need to adhere to certain animal health and hygiene requirements.

“The current Food Act allows people to buy only up to five litres of raw milk at the farm gate to drink themselves or give to their family,” Ms Wilkinson says.

Consultation carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on possible changes to rules for raw drinking milk sales attracted nearly 1700 submissions. . .

ANZCO embarks on group-wide energy management programme:

One of New Zealand’s largest exporters is set to save more than $2 million a year and enhance its global reputation as a sustainable producer through a company-wide energy management programme.

EECA Business today announced it would support the initiative over two years to help ANZCO generate long-term energy savings in its New Zealand plants.

With annual sales of NZ $1.25 billion, ANZCO Foods Ltd processes and markets New Zealand beef and lamb products around the world. The firm employs over 3,000 staff world-wide and has 11 meat processing plants in New Zealand. . .

Feedback sought about regulation of dairy herd improvement

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is looking for feedback on the rules surrounding the New Zealand dairy herd improvement industry.

The New Zealand dairy industry has been a world leader in herd improvement, and its ability to trace the performance of the national herd – through the dairy core database – has been central to that success.

Studies have shown that genetic gains through dairy herd improvement have accounted for about two thirds of the sector’s productivity over the last decade. . . .


Rural round-up

December 8, 2012

Fifty Four Farmers Complete 2012 Environmental Leadership Programme:

Another group of farming leaders is ready to spread the sustainability message, following the successful conclusion of the 2012 Building Dairy Environment Leaders Forum in Southland.

An initiative of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and DairyNZ, the annual forum enhances leadership qualities by giving top dairy farmers access to leading environmental and business leaders.

The 2012 event was held in Invercargill from November 27 to 29.

Forum chairman and Putaruru dairy farmer Martin Bennett said the 54 farmers participating shared their thoughts on how the dairy industry shapes its response to sustainability challenges. . .

WRONZ leader proud of legacy :

Injecting funds into research, without eroding the capital remaining after the winding up of the Wool Board, is something retiring Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand chairman David Douglas is proud of.

The North Otago farmer, who is stepping down after eight years as a director and five years as chairman of WRONZ, is one of three farmer representatives on the industry body that oversees post-farm gate wool research.

Capital had been built up from $28 million to $32 million and all research funding commitments had been met, Mr Douglas said.

A key achievement during his term had been the formation of the Wool Consortium in 2010. . .

Collaborative approach vital – Sally Rae:

Farmers intuitively know which are their best and poorest-performing paddocks.

The Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust is encouraging them to do something about the difference, citing the potential to significantly increase farm-gate returns, improve animal health and allow greater flexibility in farming systems.

The trust, an independent entity working to increase the rate of pasture renewal in New Zealand, comprises 14 agribusiness companies who sponsor key activities. . .

Meat industry’s high debt levels must concern banks – Allan Barber:

The levels of debt carried by at least some of the major meat companies must be causing concern to the bank syndicates that are providing external working capital to fund their operations. In total the big three have bank debts of a minimum of nearly $750 million.

 Silver Fern Farms is operating on a three month extension to its bank facility which expired at the end of September, but reported current (expiring within 12 months) loans of $316.7 million at the end of its 2012 financial year. In its last published annual accounts to September 2011, ANZCO had current and non-current loans of $220 million which must surely have increased in the very challenging 2012 year. Lastly at the end of September Alliance had $331.8 million of assets and non-current loans of $196.1 million which are clearly not causing any immediate concern. . .

Glamming Up For The Competition

The competition is heating up for the 2013 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies.

More than 100 entries from across the country will be competing next year for the Grand Champion title.

The competition, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Genetics, which aims to find New Zealand’s most tender and tasty lamb is entering its seventh year and sees farmers from across the country vying for the Grand Champion title. . .

And from the Peterson Farm Brothers who brought the world We’re Farming and We Grow it: (Hat tip: PM of NZ)

 


Rural round-up

December 6, 2012

Innovative Wellington Entrepreneurs Identify Massive New Wool Markets

A small Wellington company The Formary has a plan that will help China reduce its air pollution, while at the same time creating a potentially massive new market for New Zealand wool.

After China’s rice crop is harvested in the paddy fields, millions of tonnes of rice straw are burnt, causing massive air pollution, closing airports, shutting out the sun and creating health issues for millions of people. Working with Massey University in Wellington, The Formary has developed a rice-straw-wool fabric prototype that could lead to a multi-million dollar business.

The Formary is owned by Bernadette Casey of Wellington and Sally Shanks from Gisborne and the idea is an extension of another product they developed, when they identified the potential of using waste fibre from Starbuck’s vast amount of unwanted coffee sacks and blending it with New Zealand crossbred wool to create fabric they called WoJo®. . .

Government to assist kiwifruit growers:

A package of support measures is to be made available to North Island kiwifruit growers affected by the Psa-V vine disease, Primary Industries Minister David Carter announced today.

Mr Carter has declared Psa a medium-scale biosecurity event under the Government’s Primary Sector Recovery Policy, triggering further assistance for growers dealing with the impacts of the disease. 

“The Government has worked closely with kiwifruit industry representatives to ensure that this declaration is timed to give maximum possible benefit to growers,” says Mr Carter. . .

Help for Kiwifruit Growers as Psa-V Declared an Adverse Event:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) welcomes Government approval for a financial and recovery support package, for kiwifruit growers hit by the vine-killing disease Psa.

NZKGI President Neil Trebilco says the organisation has worked very closely with the Government, to firstly extend the coverage of existing adverse events recovery provisions to include incursions on pests and disease, and then get the Psa-V support package approved for kiwifruit growers.

“This will give some growers most affected by Psa a level of financial and welfare support to help them through the impact of this disaster.” . .

Equity raising and change of listing to the NZX Main Board

Today, A2 Corporation Limited (“A2C” or “the Company”) announces that it is undertaking an equity raising to provide additional funding to accelerate the global growth initiatives outlined in the recently announced strategic review.

The Company will issue NZ$20 million in new equity and the Company’s three largest shareholders have resolved to sell a percentage of their holdings in the Company to new and existing investors (together “the Transaction”) at a fixed offer price of NZ$0.50 per new share (“Offer Price”) to provide additional liquidity, contemporaneous with a change in listing to the NZX Main Board, thus facilitating inclusion in the NZX50. . .

Commitment needed by wool growers to ensure sustainable, profitable wool future:

A key objective of Wools of New Zealand is to build the company, evolving within five years to be a fully commercial grower-owned sales and marketing business.

Wools of New Zealand has spent considerable time meeting with all sectors of the industry in New Zealand and internationally building strong collaborative relationships and is now pursing commercial opportunities with supply chain participants for mutual benefit. The Directors are pleased with the cooperation and progress made to date. Wools of New Zealand is, for example, very supportive of the New Zealand scouring industry which underpins the quality and integrity of our fibre which supports the Company’s branded, market-pull strategy. . .

ANZCO Foods’ new Foodplus programme – comments by Sir Graeme Harrison:

ANZCO Foods Chairman, Sir Graeme Harrison, who has worked in the meat industry in various roles since 1973, is enthusiastic about the potential of the new Foodplus programme to enhance business opportunities for the sector.

ANZCO Foods and the Ministry for Primary Industries announced joint funding for the $87million Foodplus programme earlier this week. MPI Director-General Wayne McNee approved funding from the Primary Growth Partnership, which is administered by MPI.

Sir Graeme says it will give a vital boost to the meat industry. . .


Honours earned and deserved

June 7, 2011

ANZCO chair Graeme Harrison has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday honours.

It is worthy recognition for his contribution to agri-business.

He is not only a leader in his business. His views on the meat industry as a whole are among few which show real understanding of its complexity and his passion for agriculture is unquestioned.

Another meat industry leader, former Alliance Group chair and Southland farmer John Turner was made an Officer of the Order of Merit.

Chairman of the Alliance Group from 1998 to 2007 and director from 1987 to 2007, Mr Turner guided the company through a financial recovery to make it the world’s largest sheepmeat processor and marketer, with a turnover of more than $1 billion.

He has been a strong advocate for the co-operative principles of ownership allowing farmers to become involved in the meat industry beyond the farm gate, encouraging them to become knowledgeable about the end user of their products and thus ensuring quality.

During his time as chairman he initiated a range of programmes encouraging farmers to be on the leading edge in the production and quality of their product and was renowned for his ability to examine situations from many angles and make sound commercial decisions.

Sheep milking pioneer Keith Neylon was also made a Member of the Order of Merit.

Another worthy recipeint of an honour was stone mason Bill Dooley who was made a member of the Order of Merit for his contribution to the restoration of historic buildings:

Mr Dooley is the head of Dooleys Masonry, the Ouse St business that has spread its influence around the globe.

He has been a stonemason all his working life, learning the trade from his father and grandfather. Although he turns 80 next month, Mr Dooley has not yet retired. However, he says he “probably” will at some stage.

Sadly Des Templeton of Riverton who was awarded a Queens Service Medal died last week. The award was made for his contribution to the flax industry.

Des Templeton may have died too soon but not before he turned his family business, a flaxmill operating at Otaitai Bush, into a scenic wonder of Southland, a museum of national significance as the only original flaxmill in New Zealand operating on its original site.

Some sneer at honours. I know enough about the work each of these men has done to be confident the awards have been earned and are deserved.


Would-be weka farmer wins Agri-Personality of Year

June 26, 2010

Roger Beattie is the Federated Farmers’  2010 Agri-Personality of the Year.

 Roger Beattie is an eco-anarchist combining conservation with business acumen. Roger is passionate about endangered species, but believes commercial farming is a better model for long term survival. His interview on Close-Up with DoC’s Al Morrison of the status quo versus farming weka, saw 83 percent of viewers side with Roger.  Roger has also rescued a flock of wild Pitt Island sheep with a plan to selling them as a gourmet food product.  His latest victory against bureaucracy is the commercialisation of Undaria – an invasive Japanese kelp used in soups and salads overseas.  After a ten year fight he finally got the greenlight to start an industry that, in five years could be worth $10 million a year.   Roger is also the force behind Eyris Blue Pearls – Paua Pearls – exported around the world. 

The Agri Business Person of the Year is Graeme Harrison, founder and chair of ANZCO Foods.

Graeme created ANZCO foods in Japan in 1984, returning to New Zealand nine years later to lead the company’s subsequent growth. Today, ANZCO has annual sales of more than $1.2 billion and employs 2,800 people on 11 production sites within New Zealand and has sales and marketing offices in Japan, Taiwan, North America, the UK and Belgium. Graeme’s vision for the future has been key in ensuring ANZCO’s past and future success and this is evident in the company’s ongoing focus in increasing investment in downstream manufacturing. This includes food solutions, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and food flavourings.  Right through the process of ANZCO’s growth as a company, Graeme has shown leadership, vision and innovation and this has ensured that the business has been extremely successful.

This is the second year Federated Farmers has run the Cream of the Crop awards which Feds president Don Nicolson said gives the organisation the opportunity to celebrate how good farmers are.

The awards were sponsored by Ravensdown whose chair Bill McLeod was one of the judges.

 Other judges were Invercargill Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, farming and All Blacks legend, Sir Brian Lochore, Cathy Quinn, the Auckland based chair of law firm, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and 2010 Veuve Clicquot businesswoman of the year and Southland netball coach, Robyn Broughton.


Meat Industry Disunity Scuttles Taskforce

June 29, 2008

Disappointment but little surprise has greeted the news that the Meat Industry Taskforce  has disbanded.

Taskforce chairman Sir John Anderson said yesterday that consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which was commissioned to complete an industry analysis, could not get informed consent from all industry participants.

In addition, Sir John said that in the last week one company had announced it was withdrawing its support for an industry strategy, saying it was pursuing its own plans, making it impossible to compile a report.

Meat and Wool New Zealand (MWNZ) established the taskforce earlier this year to create a red meat industry strategy to address international marketing, supplier dynamics and processing.

Owen Poole who chairs Alliance Group said his company supported the taskforce and was disappointed it had failed. 

Mr Poole said the strategy could have been the catalyst for industry aggregation, and the fact PWC was going to seek contributions from farmers, meat companies and unions, would have produced meaningful results.

“I see it as a lost opportunity,” he said.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper said he supported any initiative to create an industry strategy, but the taskforce never released its terms of reference, so companies did not know what it was trying to achieve.

Mr Cooper said Silver Fern Farms (formerly PPCS) was not the reason the taskforce failed.

“In regard to the Meat Industry taskforce announcement, from a Silver Fern Farms perspective, we were never asked for informed consent by PWC on the issue.”

The company supported any initiatives to improve supplier returns.

“Silver Fern Farms supported any initiative about reviewing the industry strategy or structures.”

Anzco chairman Graeme Harrison was also supportive but not surprised it had failed, given the reluctance of the four major meat companies to co-operate on industry issues.

“Unless the four companies were prepared to talk in meaningful ways, then it was never going to happen.”

While he had reservations about the size of regulatory and commercial hurdles the taskforce faced, he said it would have provided an important circuit-breaker for farmer confidence.

Mr Harrison said commercial reality would now play its hand and there would be change.

“Sooner or later, something will happen and it will be a commercial decision.”

The 07-08 season was a very tough one for sheep farmers with falling returns and steeply increasing prices for fuel, fertiliser and other inputs. The outlook for next season’s lamb prices is more optimistic, but even so they’ll be hoping that whatever happens in the industry happens sooner not later.


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