Rural round-up

August 21, 2014

Increases for fish stocks show success of QMS:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced increases to catch limits for a range of New Zealand fisheries today, thanks to healthy stock levels.

“This shows the success of our world-leading Quota Management System (QMS). It is flexible and driven by science, which means that we can increase take as stock levels improve,” Mr Guy says.

Healthy stocks have led to increased Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for:

• Hoki 1 (10,100 extra tonnes across New Zealand)
• Orange Roughy 7A (1155 extra tonnes on the upper West Coast)
• Orange Roughy 3B (525 extra tonnes around the lower South Island) . . .

Just what the doctor ordered, no way or only a matter of time? - Allan Barber:

There are three possible responses to the prospect of an overseas, probably Chinese, investor buying seriously into the New Zealand meat industry: bring it on, not on your life or it’s inevitable.

So far Chinese interests have recently bought a minority stake in Blue Sky Meats and an application to buy Prime Range Meats is with the Overseas Investment Office; ANZCO is just under 75% Japanese owned with New Zealand management and staff holding the balance. ANZCO’s ownership structure has remained like this for over 25 years bringing positive benefits to the company, its suppliers and New Zealand as a whole. . . .

Back to the future? – Andrew Hoggard:

I am going to propose something provocative.  The big long term issue for us isn’t going to be water but will be employment and occupational health and safety. 

While the mention of water and farming gets some people worked up, the truth will eventually break through the spin and I think we are just starting to see this.  When it comes to employment matters though, our industries have been named by the government’s Worksafe NZ as the most dangerous.  Another part of government says a big minority of employers aren’t meeting basic employment law obligations.

If that’s not enough, we’re fully in the crosshairs of the Council of Trade Unions too. . .

It’s a super trim season yes, but milk and disaster, no – Chris Lewis:

Do you know that in the first half of 2014, the amount of global tradable milk grew by an amazing seven billion litres.  That’s enough milk to fill 2,800 extra Olympic sized swimming pools and it was available for export.  It goes to explain why Fonterra cut this season’s forecast payout by a $1 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS).

It would be nice if our politicians realised that farmers have good and bad seasons but they don’t.  All the spending promises seem to assume we’re constantly swimming in greenbacks.  We aren’t.  It is also why anyone, whether a Kiwi or a foreigner, who looks at a farm like a get rich quick property scheme will likely end up come a cropper. 

A farm is your business and your home.  This is why farmers are passionate about what we do and that makes us go the extra mile.  It is why I take exception to the line ‘milk and disaster’ being applied to dairy.  It is super trim season yes, but milk and disaster, no. It is great to see the latest GlobalDairyTrade average still in the US$3,000 a metric ton range but that slight 0.6 percent fall means we are on exactly US$3,000. . .

 High pin bones too prevalent in NZ – Yvonne O’Hara:

New Zealand has a rump angle problem, says Holstein Friesian classifier Denis Aitken.

As well as being a dairy farmer who is trying to retire, Mr Aitken, of Maungatua, is a member of the World Holstein Friesian Federation Type Harmonisation working group. He spent some time in Denmark attending its two-yearly meeting in May.

The working group was seeking to standardise or ”harmonise” 18 different physical traits in Holstein Friesians by classifying or precisely defining the ideal of each of those traits and promoting the evaluation system. . . .

Young Agricultural Professionals Are Driving Agricultural Development – Food Tank:

Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) is a global network of young agriculture and development professionals who are coming together to create innovative and sustainable agricultural development. YPARD enables its young members to share knowledge and information, participate in meetings and debates, promote agriculture among young people, and organize workshops.

Food Tank interviewed Rebeca Souza, a YPARD representative in Brazil, to discover what YPARD members have been accomplishing.

Food Tank (FT): How did you become a representative for YPARD?

Rebeca Souza (RS): Last year, I was doing an internship at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Three other interns and I decided to organize an event calling on young professionals to share innovative ideas to overcome world hunger and malnutrition. YPARD was one of our partners, and Courtney Paisley, the director, was attending our event. I came to her asking if I could be a country representative in Brazil since no one was appointed to this position yet. She said yes! . . .

 


Labour tries to out-Winston Winston

August 5, 2014

Labour has forgotten that is trying to out Winston-Winston Peters on sales of land to foreigners:

The next Labour Government will keep rural and residential land in Kiwi hands, Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker says.

“New Zealanders are sick of seeing their farms and homes sold to overseas buyers with the profits and opportunities going offshore. No overseas person has the right to buy our land.

The opportunities stay here where the land is, so do the jobs which go with it.

The profit is only what’s left after costs – including the purchase price, wages, repairs and maintenance, development and tax – are paid.

A friend is New Zealand manager for overseas investors who own several farms. That company reinvests all its profit in the farms and adds more money from other investments elsewhere for development which includes a very expensive experiment with organic farming.

Their money is making the farms better and they are putting far more into the country than they are taking out.

“In all but the rarest of cases, sales of rural land to overseas buyers will be banned. Non-resident investors will also be banned from buying existing Kiwi homes.

What will those rarest cases be and who will decide?

“Changing who owns what already exists does nothing to increase New Zealand’s output. It just sells off New Zealand’s profit stream and kills off the Kiwi dream of owning our farms and homes.

It could increase New Zealand’s output if the investment improved production.

“Labour will reverse the current approach so that overseas buyers of rural land will have to prove they will create more jobs and exports than any New Zealand investor. Given New Zealanders are among the best farmers in the world it is an extremely hard hurdle to get over.

The hurdles overseas must leap are already very high and include the creation of jobs.  Among other conditions local buyers don’t have to meet but foreigners do is allowing public access.

New Zealand farmers are very good but they often lack the capital to be even better.

“This will ensure our farms are not priced out of the reach of New Zealanders.

If that is the case it would also mean the vendor gets less to invest elsewhere.

“We will also limit the discretion of the minister to ignore recommendations from the Overseas Investment Office.

“Labour will also restrict sales of residential homes to any non-residents unless they intend to move here, helping to keep the Kiwi home ownership dream alive, especially for young New Zealanders currently locked out of the housing market.

“The National Government is ignoring the legitimate concerns of New Zealanders about New Zealand land and houses being sold to overseas interests.

These concerns are largely based on emotion rather than facts.

A very small proportion of farm land is owned by foreigners and the problems with housing are largely a result of planning restricting the supply in Auckland and the earthquakes in Christchurch.

“Instead of accusing New Zealanders of being xenophobic, John Key and Steven Joyce should respect New Zealanders’ desire to keep New Zealand land in New Zealand hands,” David Parker says.

The accusation of xenophobia is because the protest is loud when it is a Chinese buyer and quiet to non-existent when it is from other countries like the USA, Britain, Australia or Germany.

Wee parties can get away with outrageous policies because they can always use the excuse they didn’t have the numbers to get them enacted.

The bigger parties are usually more circumspect.

Labour has forgotten this in trying to out Winston Winston Peters with this dog-whistle to the xenophobic.

It is also ignoring the benefits from the sale:

Stevenson Group, the concrete, quarrying and engineering firm that owns Lochinver Station, ran an extensive tender before agreeing to sell the 13,843 hectare farm to Shanghai Pengxin and says it will reinvest the funds in other businesses. . .

 The Stevenson family has owned Lochinver for 60 years but started as a drain-laying business in 1912, expanding into quarrying and construction in the late 1930s, and making concrete blocks from 1946. The original 5,260 ha Lochinver farm was acquired in 1958 and the family expanded to 16,595 ha “breaking the wild country into farming land” with “an enormous amount of hard work.”

“Farming is not the core business of Stevenson Group,” chief executive Mark Franklin told BusinessDesk. The company is freeing up capital to invest in other businesses such as expanding its Drury quarry, he said.

Franklin said the company had “really intensive discussions with lots of people both domestically and internationally. You can be very clear, anyone who was interested, I have spoken to.”

While Lochinver has a rateable value of more than $70 million, the purchase price hasn’t been disclosed. Still, Franklin said Pengxin’s offer wasn’t necessarily the highest on price alone and his company had considered a range of factors including retention of workers and the future of the property. Lochinver was more a farm enterprise than a farm. “In New Zealand a lot of people own farms but this is part of a supply chain.”

He said Pengxin had a long-term strategy to build a vertically integrated business.

The value in the property was “in its ability to grow a lot of grass,” which made it attractive for both dairy support and wintering stock, he said. Sheep farming was likely to remain a core part of the business. . .

The owner gets a large amount of money to invest in its core business, the new owner will bring money into the country, spend more on running and improving the property which will require employing locals and using local goods and services.

Federated Farmers which supports foreign investment in general has some concerns over the sale of Lochinver.

While Federated Farmers supports positive overseas investment into New Zealand’s farming system, it is concerned the potential sale of Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin Group Co. Limited, may not provide sufficient benefit to New Zealand.

“Since there is no requirement to publicly notify applications to the Overseas Investment Office, Federated Farmers is frankly uneasy about the potential sale of Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“New Zealand absolutely needs foreign investment but it has to be of benefit to the local and national economy. 

“That is why a ‘substantial and identifiable benefit’ test was incorporated into the overseas investment decision tree, further bolstered in 2012 by a High Court decision adding a “with and without” counterfactual test. 

“This was to ensure any investment, such as the one being proposed, has benefit over and above just making a farm work better.  Since Lochinver Station is highly regarded in farming circles there must be something very special and we are keen to know what that is. . .

He might be reassured by a speech Prime Minister John Key made to Federated Farmers in 2010:

. . . I want to take this opportunity to outline the Government’s position on overseas investment and talk about the changes we are making to the approvals regime.

In summary, we recognise the huge contribution that overseas investment makes to Kiwi jobs and Kiwi incomes.

New Zealand benefits from openness, both in trade and in investment.

However, New Zealanders have legitimate concerns about some aspects of overseas investment, particularly when it comes to land.

I share those concerns.

Good policy is a matter of striking the right balance.

We have reviewed the rules around overseas investment. For the most part, we think those rules are appropriate and the overall legislation is sound.

However, we have made a few adjustments to the approvals regime and given ministers increased flexibility to consider a wider range of issues when assessing proposed investments. . .

What I want to say first is that you, as individual farmers, and as members of Federated Farmers, have been right in the middle of recent debates about overseas investment, because a lot of those debates have been about land.

I’m sure that between you, you have some strong views and quite possibly some mixed views about overseas investment.

Unfortunately, much of the debate in recent months has been stirred up by politicians who are more concerned about getting on the news than they are about well-thought-out policy.

We are likely to see more of this tub-thumping and political posturing in the lead-up to next year’s election.

Politicians who were unwavering advocates of trade and investment when they were in government have somehow turned into defenders of Fortress New Zealand while in opposition.

Their views appear to have changed 180 degrees, for the sake of politics.

That is a shame, because at stake here are New Zealand jobs, New Zealand incomes, and New Zealand futures.

The reason we allow investment to flow between countries – both into New Zealand and out of New Zealand – is because it benefits New Zealanders.

We don’t do it for any other reason – we do it because we benefit from it.

In particular, overseas investment in New Zealand creates jobs, boosts incomes, and helps the economy grow.

Overseas capital can make things happen here that wouldn’t otherwise happen, grow businesses that wouldn’t otherwise have the means to grow, create jobs that otherwise wouldn’t exist, and pay wages that are higher than they would otherwise be.

Overseas capital makes New Zealand a vastly more productive country.

So there is absolutely no way we could enjoy the standard of living we do without overseas investment.

And part of that standard of living is being able to afford the education, law and order, and health services that our families want.

A recent study concluded that overseas investment in New Zealand lifted national income by around $5 billion between 1996 and 2006. That is an estimate of the return to New Zealand from overseas investment, over and above the cost of paying interest and dividends on that investment. . . .

He gave examples from the wine industry.

Since the year 2000 the number of wineries in New Zealand has almost doubled, and the industry directly employs 6,000 people.

This expansion of the wine industry into one of our most important export industries has largely happened because of overseas investment.

That investment has not just been into big producers, like Montana, but smaller wineries like Craggy Range, Sacred Hill, Dry River and Te Awa.

Overseas investment has allowed the industry to grow exponentially, and also develop from being a small and family-based sector into a more capital-intensive and technologically-advanced industry with real global connections.

Overseas investment also plays a positive role in New Zealand agribusiness, providing a vital source of capital for ongoing expansion and growth. PGG Wrightson, Synlait, CRV Ambreed and Anzco are good examples of such investment. . .

He also pointed out investment is a two-way street.

New Zealand businesses and individuals are themselves investing abroad.

There has been considerable investment, for example, by New Zealand dairy farmers in overseas farms. Fonterra, of course, has processing facilities in a number of different countries.

A free flow of investment also allows New Zealanders to diversify their savings across different countries and different industries. Most of the savings that are in the Super Fund, for example, and in many KiwiSaver funds, are invested overseas.

In fact, the total amount of equity investment into and out of New Zealand is surprisingly balanced. According to the latest figures, New Zealanders have around $53 billion of equity invested abroad while overseas investors have $61 billion of equity in New Zealand.

So international flows of investment – both into and out of New Zealand – are very important for our standard of living. . .

Then he addressed concerns about foreign investment:

I’m sure most people have these concerns from time to time, because as New Zealanders we have a very real and very profound sense of attachment to the land.

For one thing, our economy is based on agriculture so we recognise and respect that the land has an important economic value.

We also have a strong tradition of aspiring to own land – our own house, section, lifestyle block, farm, or block of native bush. We are not entirely comfortable as tenants – we want to put our roots down and call some place our own.

We also value outdoor pursuits – tramping, hunting, fishing, camping and picnicking – and even when we don’t do those activities, we like the fact that we could if we wanted to.

Our tourism marketing is very focused on New Zealand’s natural beauty, and we’re proud of it.

I have recently said myself that we don’t want to end up in a position where New Zealanders are tenants in their own country.

So I think the fact that people are concerned with overseas ownership is perfectly legitimate.

But we should be careful not to let those concerns get out of hand.

For a start, about a third of New Zealand – including our most iconic land – is protected by being in the conservation estate. So no-one from overseas can come in and buy Mt Taranaki or the Franz Josef Glacier, for example.

Second, it is a simple fact that land can’t change nationality. People can change nationality, of course, and factories can be relocated overseas. But a piece of land in New Zealand will always be here in New Zealand.

Because it will always be here, the use of that land will always be subject to New Zealand laws and regulations. And ultimately we as New Zealanders get to determine what those laws and regulations will be.

Third, and contrary to what some people might think, there hasn’t been an acceleration of overseas sales in recent years.

In fact, as at a couple of days ago, only 11, 203 hectares of land has been sold so far this year. That is certainly well below the peak of 380,000 hectares that were sold in 2006.

Fourth, the issue of whether businesses and properties are owned by New Zealanders or people from overseas, is for the most part, squarely in our own hands.

What I mean is that no-one can be forced to sell their business to an overseas investor, just as no farmers can be compelled to sell their land to foreigners.

Obviously with mortgagee sales or receiverships things get a little more complicated but, in general, people who feel very strongly that New Zealand-based assets should remain in New Zealand hands are free to sell only to New Zealanders.

The problem is that it’s people who don’t own the land who are complaining and wanting to dictate to whom the owners can sell.

Moreover, New Zealanders can always buy land and other assets back. What makes that difficult isn’t the rules around overseas investment, it is the fact that New Zealand has a poor savings record and therefore a relatively small stock of capital available for investment.

If, as a country, we saved more, we would own more of the assets in New Zealand, including land, as well as being less in debt to overseas lenders.

Finally, there are specific safeguards contained in the Overseas Investment Act and in the regulations which the government makes under that Act.

Over the past year or so the Government has been reviewing this system of rules, to make sure we have got the balance right between three key objectives:

welcoming desirable investment, in recognition of the benefits it brings for New Zealanders

providing a stable investment environment, where the rules are settled and everyone is clear about what they are; and

addressing public concerns about overseas investment, particularly in regard to land.

This review has come to three conclusions.

The first conclusion is that the Overseas Investment Act is a fundamentally sound piece of legislation.

The Act makes it clear that it is a privilege for overseas people to own or control sensitive New Zealand assets.

In particular, it lays out that foreign investment in land is only acceptable if it substantially benefits New Zealand, according to a range of factors which include, among other things:

  • the creation of new job opportunities in New Zealand
  • the introduction into New Zealand of new technology
  • increased export receipts for New Zealand exporters
  • the introduction into New Zealand of additional investment for development purposes
  • increased processing in New Zealand of New Zealand’s primary products
  • protection of native bush and other indigenous vegetation; and
  • protection of game species and walking access.
  • In addition, farm land has to be offered on the open market so that New Zealanders can bid for it as well.

These are very stringent criteria.

In fact, these are the very same criteria that Phil Goff was trying to pass off as brand new policy a few weeks ago. I welcome his endorsement of the current provisions of the Overseas Investment Act which, of course, was passed by his government back in 2005. . .

The third conclusion we came to was that a couple of additions should be made to the existing rules.

These additions would make sure that all public concerns about overseas investment, both now and in the future, could be covered off under the rules.

So the Government is adding two more factors that ministers must consider when they assess the benefits of a proposed overseas investment in New Zealand land.

The first new factor is very wide-ranging and looks at whether New Zealand’s economic interests will be adequately promoted by overseas investment.

This will allow ministers to consider, for example, whether any of our key exports are in danger of being controlled by an overseas entity, or whether there are non-commercial motivations driving a proposed overseas investment.

The second new factor is a “mitigating factor” which looks at whether the investor has a meaningful commitment to New Zealand involvement in the running or oversight of the investment.

That could include, for example, part ownership with New Zealanders, appointing New Zealanders to the board, or listing on a New Zealand exchange.

These two new factors will be weighed up alongside all the existing factors when ministers consider applications for investment.

We are also going to outline the Government’s policy on foreign investment more clearly by amending the Directive Letter issued to the Overseas Investment Office.

This will make things clearer for both the Office and for overseas investors.

So in conclusion can I stress that we allow overseas investment to flow between countries – both into New Zealand and out of New Zealand – because it benefits New Zealanders.

With the appropriate checks and balances in place, this investment is good for jobs, wages and growth.

After reviewing the overseas investment regime, and making some amendments to it, the Government is satisfied that we do now have the appropriate checks and balances. . .

National strengthened those checks and balances.

Foreign investors must jump very high hurdles and if they don’t meet the conditions imposed on them by the OIO – conditions which are strictly monitored – they cannot keep the property.

The Overseas Investment Office has yet to make its decision on the sale of Lochinver.

If it does approve the deal, the strict criteria it must apply, made stricter by National, will ensure that the benefits to New Zealand are greater than any which would come from the sale to a New Zealander.


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. . .


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