GDT down 2.6%

April 16, 2014

The GlobalDairyTrade index dropped 2.6% in this morning’s auction.

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The price of anhydrous milk fat increase .6%; butter dropped 4.9%; butter milk powder dropped 8.6%; cheddar was down 3.3%; milk protein concentrate fell 7%, rennet casein was down 4.3%; skim milk powder went down 4.4% and whole milk powder was down 1.6%.

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This doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

The price is still above the long term average.

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The lower price is just reflecting greater supply here and overseas, in particular in the USA where a reduction in the demand for crop for biofuels has made cattle feed cheaper.

It does however, mean that sensible dairy farmers will be budgeting on a lower payout next season.


Rural round-up

April 13, 2014

Drought great time to show some compassion – James Houghton:

Another week and no drought declaration yet it is the second driest year on record in Waikato, and my has it revealed some peoples true colours! Default settings with graziers contracts are being ignored, and cooperatives are pretending there is no drought.

Farmers and graziers need to be working together through times like this. Not allowing for the affects of the drought to be considered and holding graziers to their contracts, can see them loosing money on a daily basis, trying to feed your stock. To expect a grazier to lose money to look after your stock shows no sense of community, which is what gets us through these adverse weather conditions, and could ostracise you in the long run. People do not forget unkindness. It goes both ways – if you are not showing flexibility on your grazing contracts, it could have a detrimental affect for you next time there is a drought, graziers could start charging you 10 to 50 percent more next time round.  It pays to compare that to the money you are saving in the short term, and whether it is really worth it. . .

Changing beef outlook - Allan Barber:

There have been some interesting beef market developments in recent days.

 Of immediate interest is the news of a forecast excess of US exports over production in the second half of the year as against a relatively small increase in production, reported in the USDA livestock supply and demand report which was released yesterday.

 This leads to a prediction of firmer prices for lean beef, although this will coincide with the seasonal downturn in New Zealand production. Australia is expected to be in a good position to take advantage of this situation.

 The other item of interest is the bi-lateral trade agreement between Japan and Australia which will reduce the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5% to 19.5% over 18 years and on fresh beef to 23.5% over 15 years. . .

Dairy Pawn – Milk Maid Marian:

These days, I feel a little like a chess piece; more pawn than queen.

The Australian federal government has rushed into a free trade agreement with Japan that does next-to-nothing to help Aussie dairy break through tariff barriers, even though Japan is hardly known for a growing dairy industry of its own that deserves protection. I don’t know why we were overlooked but a Sydney Morning Herald story quotes Warren Truss as citing “compromises”.

It’s been an interesting few days for dairy. Coincidentally, the ACCC forced supermarket superpower, Coles, to confess that it was lying when it claimed the $1 milk had not hurt dairy farmers. . .

Farmers back major Local Government NZ funding review:

Federated Farmers is fully behind a fundamental review by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) into the way local government and local roads are funded.

“LGNZ deserves praise for tackling a ticking time bomb made up of demographics and an ever narrowing funding base for council services and our local roads,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government spokesperson.

“This affects everyone but it is especially pronounced in our rural districts.

“Federated Farmers is very keen to participate in this review because for years, we have lobbied for alternative funding options over the antiquated narrow property value basis, we use for rating.

“LGNZ’s review is the biggest advance since the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry, which emerged from public unease over the rates burden. . .

Meat and fibre’s going green - Jeanette Maxwell :

I have been told by a staff member that a major retirement village operator has specified only nylon carpet for its villages. I don’t want to reveal the name just yet as we will be contacting them, let alone the Campaign for Wool, but it dumbfounds me. 

If it is what I suspect, a spurious concern over linting, then that’s a specification issue.  It seems very strange to deny people the choice of healthy natural fibres especially in a retirement village because natural wool is good for you.

A big benefit of wool is outstanding flame resistance.  Having a high moisture and protein content it tends to extinguish flames and does not melt or drip either like synthetics.  Wool also stabilises relative humidity by absorbing or releasing moisture during periods of high or low atmospheric humidity. That’s a benefit from evolution.

If wool is maintained then it will absorb and neutralise airborne particles and fumes such as formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides.  Wool is also resistant to static build up and being naturally curly, bounces back into shape after being crushed.   . . .

Awards spur on young dairy trainee  – Gerald Piddock:

Entering the Dairy Industry Awards has helped motivate Nathan Hubbard to focus on how he can improve his performance and progress his dairying career.

The 26-year-old, who was recently named Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year for 2014 said he entered the competition to show future employers his dedication to the industry.

“I want to challenge my knowledge against others at the same level that are motivated and thriving to succeed like I am.”

It was the second time he had entered the awards. After not making the top six on the first occasion, Hubbard said he was determined to do better this year. . .

‘Expensive brand beats expensive land’ - Tim Cronsahw:

Dairy farmers need to demand that dairy giant Fonterra invests heavily in brand development if increasing costs are to be offset by high-priced milk products, says a food marketing expert.

Global food and drink industry international speaker Professor David Hughes said New Zealand’s dairy companies had to spend more on developing patented clever dairy brands as domestic milk growth could not continue at its same rate forever.

“If you want to see Fonterra and smaller companies have higher valued products, they have to spend more on branding and research and development, and to do that has to be through brave farmer leadership saying hold on to more [revenue] and invest it on our behalf for our longer term, and don’t send it back to the farm and there would lots of farmers who don’t agree with that,” said Hughes who spoke at the Zoetis Dairy Summit in Christchurch this week. . .

Millar, Clark lead charge for dog trialling glory - Tim Cronshaw:

Every dog has its day, but only a select few will make the final cut at the Tux New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championship trials at Waihi Station near Geraldine next month.

As many as 300 competitors and their canine partners will line up for each of the four main national events in the main feature of the dog trialling calendar. The heading events are the long head and short head and yard and the huntaway events are the zigzag hunt and the straight hunt.

In good form is Stu Millar from Peak Hill Station who, with dog Rose, is the defending champion of the national short head and yard event in Taupo last year.

Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association promotions officer Sally Mallinson said the club trials had yet to be completed, but several Canterbury competitors and their dogs were standing out as possible contenders at the South Island and national events. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2014

North Island drought ‘worse than last year’:

Drought conditions are “worse than last year”, according to some North Island farmers.

Farmers across the North Island are desperate for rain after months of dry, windy weather, despite the Government saying the problem isn’t widespread enough for a drought to be declared, says forecaster WeatherWatch.

Some have had very little rain since the end of last year.

King Country farmer Dick Lancaster says conditions near Taumarunui are worse than last year’s drought.

“Natural stock water has dried up and northern-facing hills are becoming dusty and lifeless.” . . .

Blue Sky Meats strengthens Chinese ties after exporter pays premium for 11% of company  – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats has strengthened ties with China, its largest market by volume and value, after two Auckland-based businessmen paid a premium for 11 percent of the unprofitable meat processor.

Cook Huang and Qiang Zheng acquired the Blue Sky holding from Danish casings company DAT-Schaub Group for $2.33 million, or $1.80 a share in an off market share transfer, according to a Blue Sky statement to the Unlisted platform. Their investment vehicle, Blue Star Corp, is now the third-largest shareholder of Blue Sky. Its shares last traded at $1.10.

Huang exports New Zealand red meat, spring water, juice and chocolate to China through a separate company he set up in September, Everlast International, and with his business partner Zheng, he had been looking for a suitable investment.

Blue Sky had a good management team and produced quality meat and “we want to share” in its growth, he said. He expects it to make “good profits” in 2014. Huang also operates an immigration consultancy in Auckland called Everlast Consultancy. . .

Consent for new dryer welcomed:

Westland Milk Products welcomes the approval of its land-use consent application to the Westland District Council for a new dairy nutritionals dryer on its Hokitika site.

Subject to there being no appeals over the next 15 working days, Westland expects work on the $102 million project to commence almost immediately.

General Manager Operations Bernard May says Westland is pleased that the conditions imposed by the commissioner who heard the application are within the scope expected by Westland and, indeed, several are conditions the company itself suggested as part of its efforts to work with potential objectors to address their concerns. . .

Fonterra appoints interim MD International Farming Ventures:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the interim appointment of Henk Bles to the newly-created role of Managing Director International Farming Ventures.

Mr Bles has held leadership roles in the international dairy farming industry for more than 30 years, in dairy cattle, genetics and dairy development.

Henk is also a proven entrepreneur, who has established his own businesses: Bles Dairies Livestock BV; Bles Dairies Genetics / Eurostar Genes; and dairy development company The Friesian.  He also holds an advisory position with Semex Global and is a board member for the Dutch Cattle Association. . .

Farm company fined over tractor death:

Waikato company, Sundale Farms Limited, has been fined $25,400 over the death of a worker killed by a runaway remote controlled tractor.

Gursharan Singh was on his second day on the job harvesting broccoli in March last year when he was pulled under the wheels of a tractor at Sundale Farm’s Pukekawa farm.

Mr Singh was attempting to reach the tractor’s controls after it had accelerated unexpectedly from its normal speed of 0.3 kilometres an hour to 6.7 kilometres an hour. He was caught by the left hand rear wheel of the tractor and pulled to the ground and run over.

The tractor, which was towing a trailer for the loading of broccoli, was operated via a remote control system so that a driver was not required to sit at the controls. . .

NZ dairy awards finalists confirmed:

The search for the best in New Zealand’s dairy industry has been narrowed down to 33 finalists across three categories.

National awards convener Chris Keeping said many finalists were relatively new to the industry, having changed careers, and were tapping into the resources and knowledge available to boost their farm businesses and make rapid progress in the industry.

“Entering the dairy industry awards is one way they have identified they can improve their knowledge and skills, meet rural professionals and other like-minded farmers, lift their confidence, have some fun and enhance their reputation,” she said.

Award categories are sharemilker-equity farmer of the year, farm manager and dairy trainee.     . .

Generosity impresses dairy industry trainee:

The willingness of farmers to share their knowledge is one of the reasons a young Taranaki award-winner loves the dairy industry.

Ben Frost, who won the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year title, works on the 130ha Upper Glenn Rd farm of James Murphy, near Kapuni.

Murphy, who won the 2007 Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year title with sister and brother-in-law Catherine and Chris Cook, said he was proud of Frost’s achievements and believed the 21-year-old’s attitude and willingness to learn gave him a big future in the dairy industry.

Frost, who loves farming and being in the outdoors, is progressing to a farm manager’s position in June on Murphy’s 450-cow split calving farm where he is currently second in charge and in the midst of calving 200 cows. . .

Ambitious new PGP programme for avocado industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an ambitious new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme for the avocado industry, which aims to triple productivity and quadruple returns by 2023.

‘Go Global’ is an $8.56 million programme, with $4.28 million coming from the Government via PGP funding. It will be a five year partnership between the Avocado Industry Council and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“This is the first PGP programme involving the horticultural industry and will help the industry work together to capitalise on the growing demand here and overseas.

“Australia is currently the biggest market for New Zealand avocado, but this project will help expansion into Asian countries where there is major potential. . .

New Zealand Avocados set to “Go Global” with New Government Partnership:

The Avocado Industry Council announced today it will partner with the Ministry for Primary Industries in a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme called Go Global— a five year programme to increase the productivity and capability within the avocado industry to deliver significant additional returns for New Zealand.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive Officer of Avocado Industry Council, says it is a landmark development for the avocado industry that will increase sales to more than a quarter of a billion dollars by 2023.

“This PGP programme will create significant value across the industry, helping position New Zealand’s avocado industry to capitalise on the growing demand domestically and in Asia, for premium, safe, and healthy produce. Part of this will involve developing a New Zealand avocado story to highlight the health and versatility of our avocados,” says Scoular. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 7, 2014

Understanding Fonterra gets even harder – Pattrick Smellie:

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

First: the Canterbury rebuild.

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

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

Not so.. .

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

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

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

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

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

Farmers walk the environmental talk – Alan Wills:

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

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

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

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

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

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too:

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

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

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

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

Tikorangi dairy farm takes top Taranaki award:

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

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

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

Precision farmers feature of Fert and Lime Conference:

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

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

 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2014

Fonterra Australia and Woolworths announce proposed new 10 year milk partnership for Victoria:

Fonterra Australia and Woolworths today announced that Fonterra Australia has been selected as the preferred supplier to process Woolworths Own Brand milk in Victoria for the next 10 years in a deal that is great for customers and farmers. The proposed long-term arrangement will give farmers certainty that will allow them to invest in their businesses with the confidence that they have a guaranteed buyer for their milk. Woolworths existing contracts were for a period of one year.

It also means that all Woolworths Own Brand milk sold in Victoria will be made and processed in Victoria, supporting local farmers and jobs in regional communities. . .

Farmers told to talk through differences - :

Environment Canterbury boss Dame Margaret Bazley says she is committed to working with farmers to resolve issues with the recently notified Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan.

“I think if you don’t get any other message from me, just know that we at ECan are absolutely committed to working with you to get a solution to these things,” she told high country farmers at a Federated Farmers field day in the Mackenzie Country.

She said the Government’s national policy statement for freshwater required all regional councils to set water quality limits and to have a process and timeframe to achieve that. . . .

Simpler Compliance needed - James Houghton:

Last week I was in the midst of New Zealand’s High Country, watching my son row in the Maadi Cup Regatta. As a Waikato dairy farmer in the midst of a drought, I drew some surprising parallels from the iconic landscape to Waikato’s usually lush pastures back home.

Driving through the vast barren landscape, with sleet coming at us horizontally, you cannot avoid the conclusion that the High Country farmers here in the South Island must be made of some hard stuff.  To farm down here is certainly not for the faint hearted, and requires big thinkers who can innovate the land into a viable business. Through the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998, High Country farmers have effectively lost the grazing rights to the top 60 percent of the Crown’s land to conservation, so the need for water has become a much more pressing issue. They need water to negotiate their farm through the loss in feed, another similarity we are also experiencing in the Waikato right now with our second drought in two years. . .

High Court rejects kiwifruit growers’ claim - Niko Kloeten:

Disgruntled kiwifruit growers have taken the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to court over the performance of a German company that owns Turners & Growers.

But a High Court judge has rejected their challenge to the OIO’s view that German company BayWa, which now owns 73 per cent of listed fruit and vegetable marketer Turners & Growers, had fulfilled its consent conditions.

The OIO, which is an arm of Land Information New Zealand, approved BayWa’s takeover of Turners & Growers in 2012. . .

Change aplenty on FarmIQ demonstration farm:

BEEF COWS are out, dairy grazers in and ewe condition a priority on the first FarmIQ demonstration farm to hold a field day this autumn.

“Historically a lot of emphasis went on fattening lambs,” Duncan Mackintosh of White Rock Mains told a field day audience of about 30 farmers and industry representatives late last month.

With hindsight, some of that was at the expense of ewe condition. Now, they routinely condition score the flock when yarded for other operations. . .

Body language can cause confusion – Anna Holland:

THERE SEEMS to be some confusion out there reading dog body language. 

 A couple of people who had watched a DVD about dog training remarked to me that the dogs looked scared of the trainer. I hadn’t seen it so couldn’t comment however I have since seen the DVD and I don’t think the dogs are scared.

Also, at my training days, I have had people remark that the dogs I am demonstrating with have their tails between their legs. It seems to concern the person more than the dog. Why?


Rural round-up

April 3, 2014

Why is New Zealand’s retail milk so expensive? - Keith Woodford:

Visitors to New Zealand often ask me why our supermarket milk is so expensive compared to in their own countries. I tell them the answer is simple. First, we have little competition, with only two milk major processors (Fonterra and Goodman Fielder) and two major supermarket chains (Foodstuffs and Progressive). Also, unlike most other countries, the Government in New Zealand does tax food.   Both answers are typically received with surprise.

I am sure it will also come as a surprise to many New Zealanders to hear they pay more for their milk than the British, the Australians, the Americans and even the Canadians. So let’s do some comparisons. . .

Smoke and mirrors of business as usual? - Allan Barber:

This season shows many of the normal characteristics of the red meat sector, but it’s getting harder than ever to unravel the complexities of an industry which epitomises Winston Churchill’s 1939 quip about Russia – a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

In conversation with several senior industry executives, it has been possible to establish for certain only three things: first, this season is a bit easier than last and quite a lot better than two years ago, second, the trend to dairy support away from sheep and beef has gained momentum, and lastly China is extremely helpful for exports of both species.

There are conflicting views about other current issues and events. Beef is either tougher or easier than sheepmeat depending on the region or point of view, capacity must come out, but whose capacity again depends on the perspective taken, and, while some are closer than others to see the possibility, nobody is willing to predict a disaster. . . .

From farm to the boardroom - Annette Scott:

Dawn Sangster is a grassroots farmer, an Alliance Group director and is committed to making a positive contribution to the red-meat sector. She talked to Annette Scott about her fascinating journey in the rural sector.

Maniototo farmer Dawn Sangster grew up on the family farm in Paerau, Central Otago.

She attended Waitaki Girls High before graduating from Lincoln University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce degree in farm management. . .

Call for organic producers to unite - Alan Williams:

Southland farmer Craig Dowden reckons organic lamb producers can do better by teaming up and demanding a better price.

He wants them to decide on a fair minimum price and tell their processors that is a bottom line for supply.

Existing prices, providing typically a 20% premium over conventionally farmed lambs, weren’t enough, Dowden said.

The premium was needed to allow for reduced stocking rates, slower growth rates, and some stock-health issues involved in running a farm without some chemical treatments, he said. . .

 

TAF ‘a blueprint for the world’ - Tim Fuulton:

Fonterra’s Trading Among Farmers (TAF) scheme is being copied in Australia and the rest of the world is likely to follow, NZX head of capital markets Aaron Jenkins says.

Jenkins joined NZX last year from a role as Fonterra’s TAF general manager.

It is 16 months since the share-trade mechanism launched in a clamour of publicity.

Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn’s proposed share-trade mechanism was virtually identical to Fonterra’s TAF, except the Australians wanted to raise money externally, Jenkins told a recent function hosted by Christchurch law firm Tavendale and Partners. . .

 

Human health implications of A1 versus A2 beta-casein: theory and current evidence - Keith Woodford:

The health implications of A1 beta–casein relative to A2 beta-casein are controversial. At times the scientific debate can become clouded by the reality that milk is a commercial product. Conversion of all herds so as to replace A1 beta-casein with A2 beta-casein over one to two cow generations (4 – 12 years) is technically straight forward. Accordingly, the beta-casein issue can be presented as either a threat to, or an opportunity for, the mainstream industry, with elements of each perspective being valid.

The Key Science.

  • All bovine beta-casein was originally of the A2 type. A1 beta-casein is now produced by a considerable proportion of cows that have European bloodlines. In contrast, goats, sheep, buffalo, camels and humans produce beta-casein of the A2 type. . .

 


GDT drops 8.9%

April 2, 2014

GlobalDairyTrade’s Price Index dropped 8.9% in this morning’s auction.

It’s the second big drop in a row and reflects increasing supply in other countries.

Northern Hemisphere dairy production is in full swing and a big drop in the need for biofuel in the USA has lowered the cost of cow feed.

 

 

 


Country roads aren’t motorways

March 31, 2014

Rural Canterbury areas are campaigning to get motorists to slow down on country roads:

Selwyn District Council says the “country roads are not motorways” campaign has come about after 187 crashes in the district from 2009 to 2013, in which speed or driving too fast for the conditions were a contributing factor.

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Photo: IS 100k OK CAMPAIGN

Eight people died in those crashes and 33 received serious injuries.

Of all the speed related crashes during that period, 86 percent were on the open road.

The speed limit is a maximum not a target and drivers have a responsibility to drive to the conditions.

Narrower, windier roads which may or may not be sealed require a lot more care than many motorists, accustomed to little more taxing that Sate Highway 1, give them and 100 kph is often not OK on them.

But it’s not only visitors who speed. Locals and frequent users including stock can get a bit complacent and go faster than they should too.

That said, I’ve seen some very careful and considerate behaviour from Fonterra tanker drivers.

One summer evening I was at the top of a hill when I spotted a tanker on a farm track heading for the road a few hundred metres ahead.

I crept down the hill, round the blind corner, up the other side and found the tanker waiting patiently in the gateway for me to pass.


Rural round-up

March 29, 2014

Land leasing lessons – Rebecca Harper:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bovine Blackmailers and half a kennel - Mad Bush Farm:

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

Apples and applesauce - Cabbage Tree Farm:

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


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

Good as green for top crop:

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

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

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

Hastings centre stage for next Regional Final:

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

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

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

Value Added Products Get First Taste of Tomato Crop:

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

March 27, 2014

Guy prepared to help, but unwilling to interfere - Allan Barber:

Nathan Guy gave a very positive speech to Beef + Lamb NZ’s AGM on Saturday which covered three major points: what the government is doing for farmers, his vision for the red meat sector and thoughts on the discussions about industry structure.

Obviously, given MPI’s bullish view of agricultural exports, the Minister was extremely positive about economic performance. However he was at pains to point out the government’s role as an enabler, citing his focus on biosecurity resources, trade negotiations for market access, and investment in research.

He began by referring to his intention to strengthen resources at the border and to establish Government Industry Agreements (GIA) with various sectors which will ultimately involve the private sector in sharing the costs of biosecurity; different sectors are at various stages of negotiation on this issue. . . .

Project explores the potential of EID:

Warren Ayers farms 890ha of rolling country near Wyndham. The property runs 600 Perendale stud ewes and another 5,700 commercial ewes.

Lambing averages 135 per cent and lambs are finished to 17kg. Two-year-old replacement heifers are bought in annually for the 120-head Angus cow herd. Every year, all but the lightest 10 calves are sold at weaning. The policy is simple to manage and keeps the genetics of the herd diversified sufficiently that the same bull can be used for several years. For the past five years, the property has also wintered 650 dairy cows.

Warren has EID tagged his stud animals since 2006 and the commercial two-tooths have been tagged since 2009. . .

Fonterra begins construction on new IDR357 billion plant in Indonesia:

Fonterra today commenced construction on its first blending and packing plant in Indonesia, which will support the growth of its market leading consumer brands Anlene, Anmum and Anchor Boneeto.

Located in West Java, the plant is Fonterra’s first manufacturing facility in the country and its largest investment in a new manufacturing facility in ASEAN in the last 10 years.

Director General of Agro Industry at the Ministry of Industry, Panggah Susanto, joined Fonterra at an event in Jakarta to mark the official start of construction today.

Pascal De Petrini, Managing Director of Fonterra Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), said that Fonterra Brands Manufacturing Indonesia Cikarang Plant will allow Fonterra to meet the ever-growing demand for dairy nutrition in Indonesia. . .

Dry conditions in Northland and Waikato remain a big concern:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says dry conditions in parts of Waikato and Northland remain a serious concern.

“Local authorities in Northland have announced the western parts of their region are in drought. This reflects the tough few months they’ve had as pasture has browned off.

“Cyclone Lusi has helped green tinges appear in some places, but the rainfall was erratic and insufficient. Western Northland and large parts of the Waikato remain very dry.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is keeping a close eye on conditions here and elsewhere. I’ve seen for myself how dry things are on two trips to the Waikato in the last two weeks. . .

West Coast Northland drought declaration a relief:

The adverse event declaration covering drought in Northland’s West Coast the declaration will not provide a lot of direct financial assistance but will provide huge psychological relief.

“New Zealanders will get an inkling of what the guys on Northland’s West Coast have been going through. Not just since November, but since 2012 and even before that,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“The big thing a declaration triggers is the Northland Rural Support Trust, so any farmer can approach the RST for free advice on farm management, or just someone to have a decent chinwag with.

“Beyond this, it doesn’t mean much financially unless the absolute worst happens. There is a safety net, but it is exactly the same as for any other New Zealander and carries the same eligibility rules.

“Then there is Inland Revenue and to be fair to them they aren’t unapproachable. . .

Drought-affected farmers encouraged to talk to their banks

Drought-affected farmers should talk to their banks said the New Zealand Bankers’ Association in response to increasingly dry conditions in parts of Northland and Waikato.

“We encourage any farmers facing hardship as a result of the lack of rain to contact their bank to discuss options for assistance and how they can work through these challenging conditions,” said New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Kirk Hope. . . .

Fonterra profit down but revenue on track to break $20 billion:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s half year results means it could be back on track to break the $20 billion revenue barrier; corporate New Zealand’s ‘four minute mile.’

“I think the fall in operating profit will grab attention instead of where it ought to be focussed, on revenue,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“This is real money coming into the New Zealand economy.  I mean revenue for the half-year is up 21 percent to $11.3 billion.  While we’ve got close to the $20 billion barrier in the past, this time, we’ve got a real chance of breaking it.

“That said, the declared drought in Northland along with drought-like conditions in the upper North Island could act like a brake.  We’ve also seen GlobalDairyTrade retreat in recent trading events due in part to increased volume. . .

Pengxin picks up former Fonterra executive Romanos for NZ Milk role, report says:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin has hired Gary Romano, who resigned from Fonterra Cooperative Group last year during the botulism scare, to oversee the Chinese company’s overseas operations including its New Zealand farms, the NZ Herald reports.

Romano’s Linked In profile says he is “currently on the beach before becoming active again in 2014.” He resigned as head of NZ Milk Products at Fonterra last August as the company embarked on a global recall of whey protein concentrate. The bacterium was eventually shown to be harmless.

He will become chief executive of NZ Milk Management and a director of Pengxin’s two farm groups in the North Island and South Island, according to the Herald. Terry Lee, managing director of Pengxin’s Milk New Zealand unit, didn’t immediately return calls. . .

Samoa sheep farming increasing:

Sheep farming in Samoa is growing through a programme funded by the World Bank.

Under the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project, the World Bank is helping develop livestock, fruits and vegetable farming.

Sheep were introduced in Samoa in 2004, with the flock now grown to 700. . .

Macca’s hits milestone of three million kilos of Angus

AngusPure recognises programme as instrumental to success of Angus demand

McDonald’s New Zealand today announced it has sold a whopping three million kilograms of New Zealand Angus beef since 2009. With today’s launch of the promotional Angus the Great burger, the company expects to continue its contribution to the success of local Angus beef sales

This milestone is acknowledged by AngusPure’s chairman Tim Brittain, who says the ‘McAngus’ programme has been instrumental in helping grow the demand for Angus cattle, and that Kiwi farmers have been well rewarded since the original launch of the Angus burger range in 2009. . .


Revenue up, record payout, profit down

March 27, 2014

Fonterra’s half-year report shows increased revenue, a record milk payout and a lower profit.

Interim Results Highlights

•    Forecast Cash Payout for the 2013/14 Season of $8.75, up 42 per cent
-    Farmgate Milk Price $8.65 per kgMS
-    Estimated full year dividend of 10 cents per share
•    Revenue $11.3 billion, up 21 per cent  
•    Normalised EBIT $403 million, down 41 per cent
•    Net profit after tax (NPAT) $217 million, down 53 per cent
•    Earnings per share 13 cents, down 54 per cent
•    Interim dividend of five cents per share

Fonterra Co-operative Group is on track to deliver the highest-ever returns to Farmer Shareholders and the New Zealand economy, with a forecast Cash Payout of $8.75.

Chairman John Wilson said the forecast Cash Payout – comprising a forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $8.65 per kgMS and an estimated dividend of 10 cents per share – is strong compared with last season’s final Cash Payout of $6.16 per kgMS.  

“A forecast Cash Payout of $8.75 represents a $13.8 billion injection into the New Zealand economy.  An estimated 50 cents in every $1 of payout is spent by our farmers locally, meaning the benefits will be felt in urban as well as rural communities1,” said Mr Wilson.

We’re seeing the benefits in North Otago for farmers and those who work for, supply and service them and that flows through to the wider community.

“Our current Season forecast reflects sustained strong milk powder prices which, on average, are ahead by US$1,200 per tonne compared to last season.

“Although we are forecasting the highest-ever Farmgate Milk Price returns and have achieved strong revenue growth, NPAT is down 53 per cent to $217 million.  Normalised EBIT is also down 41 per cent to $403 million, compared with the very strong earnings in the first half of last year,” said Mr Wilson.

The formula for setting the milk price is governed by legislation.

The lower profit is partly a reflection on that price and also the company’s inability to make and sell more value-added product.

Milk supply is increasing in other countries which is likely to subdue prices and no farmer with any sense will be budgeting on a payout anywhere near this season’s levels in the next season.

 


Rural round-up

March 26, 2014

Environment and the economy are one in the same thing – Lynda Murchison:

“It’s a classic case of environment versus economics”, commented Parliamentary Commissioner Jan Wright in her report into water quality.

Economics certainly plays a part in addressing water quality issues but as a geographer, environmental planner and farmer I cannot look at fresh water as a choice between economics and the environment. The notion that environmental protection and economic development are potentially conflicting goals is not, in my view, a recipe for success. It removes any expectation that businesses should take responsibility for protecting the environment; or that environmentalists need to consider social or economic costs of environmental outcomes.

In my world, economic and environmental considerations are two sides of the same coin. It is hard to be green if you are in the red; but you cannot have long-term social or economic prosperity if you undermine the natural capital you rely on to create it. This link between economics and the environment is recognised in the purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991, the main statute that manages natural and physical resources in New Zealand. The purpose of the Act is not about economic development, nor environmental protection. It is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources – a concept that encompasses environmental, economic, cultural and social well-being. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week.

“These are the first products from the Steepland Harvesting Programme to be put into commercial use, which is an outstanding accomplishment,” says Mr Guy. . .

Federated Farmers looks beyond China exports:

The Prime Minister has focused on pushing trade with China this week, but sheep and beef farmers are trying to push their products to as many markets as possible.

The industry has faced a number of hurdles in recent years, including drought, a high Kiwi dollar and problems with Chinese border controls.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair Jeanette Maxwell says while much of the talk is about more trade with China, her industry believes it is important to get into multiple markets. . .

Fonterra food scare good for Irish milk industry:

Ireland’s Agriculture & Food Minister says Irish dairy companies gained new business off New Zealand during Fonterra’s food scare crisis last year.

Simon Coveney has been in New Zealand to learn how Ireland could also become a global dairy giant.

Mr Coveney told TVNZ’s Q+A programme, that at the time of the food crisis, customers were worried about relying on New Zealand suppliers:

“At the time of that difficulty I had a number of trade missions at the time. One was to the Middle East, and people were starting to say to me, look we source a lot from New Zealand, we like New Zealand we like Fonterra, we think they give us very good product, but we think we’re overly reliant on one supplier. And so a lot of countries are now looking at Ireland as a second supplier in case something goes wrong with their primary supply source.” . . .

Poor rail threatens food boom – Julie-Anne Sprague:

THE disgraceful state of rural railways means grain growers could become uncompetitive and miss out on big profits from the Asian food boom, warns GrainCorp chairman Don Taylor.

The chairman of eastern Australia’s biggest grains handler says urgent spending is needed on the railways.

“We don’t have any right to benefit from the food boom; we have to earn it,” Taylor tells The Australian Financial Review.

“The Canadians want to participate in [the Asian food boom]. The Ukranians are investing and doing things to participate in it. . .

How much would you pay for socks? – James Griffin:

How much would you pay for socks? Socks, actual socks that go on your feet, one per foot, not socks as a euphemism for a word that sounds a lot like “socks”.

Think about it a moment. Then settle on the absolute highest amount of dosh you would be willing to lay out for one pair of socks.

If that number is $1744.88 (or thereabouts, depending on what the exchange rate today is for £895) then, boy, have I got the socks for you. . . .

 


Rural round-up

March 18, 2014

New staff to boost border security:

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

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

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

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

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

Clover root weevil under attack in Southland - Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

History repeats itself in Northland:

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

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

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

Meet Dr Sunday – Alice Roberts:

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

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

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

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

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

Rabobank business alumni tour successful South Island farms:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Poll doesn’t support Green irrigation policy

March 17, 2014

An overwhelming majority of people don’t want large-scale irrigation schemes and intensive agriculture expansion unless there’s protection for downstream waterways so that they remain safe for swimming, fishing and food gathering.

The ‘Farming and the Environment Survey’ of 3134 respondents aged 18+ was commissioned by Fish & Game NZ and conducted independently by Horizon Research Limited, with a margin of error of just ±1.8%.

Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson says while the organisation’s primary interest relates to the habitat of trout and salmon and the pursuits of freshwater angling and game bird hunting which are enjoyed by many thousands of New Zealanders, this research proves that Fish & Game and the wider public are united when it comes to freshwater issues. 

“The sole focus on ramping up primary sector growth, whatever the costs, has put the economy on a collision course with the environment and public opinion,” he says.

“What this research shows is that nine out of 10 New Zealanders fundamentally link their Kiwi identity and lifestyle to their natural environment. It also exposes that a very clear risk of losing support exists for political parties which introduce policies promoting economic growth without guaranteed safeguards to protect the environment.”

A majority 67% of respondents say they are prepared to see large-scale irrigation schemes proceed to facilitate the growth of intensive dairy farming, but only if ‘scientific evidence proves that measures are in place to ensure downstream waterways will not be adversely affected’.

What this research shows is that people want clean water but don’t understand what it already being done by farmers to ensure their activities comply with regulations and don’t cause pollution.

“Presently we have a number of large-scale irrigation projects being proposed by Government and regional councils with scant regard being given to the adverse environmental consequences that invariably result from the change in land use, especially downstream water pollution including estuaries and coastal areas,” Mr Johnson points out.

That is simply not true.

Farmers have a vested interest in water quality not just for occasional recreation or food gathering but as a constant source for household use including drinking.

Mistakes have been made in the past but regional councils, farmers and dairy companies have learned from them and are applying what they learned for any new schemes.

North Otago Irrigation Company set a very good precedent for this. A condition of consent from the regional council was that all shareholders have to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited each year. Anyone who doesn’t meet the standards doesn’t get water.

“The ‘precautionary principle’ is being conveniently ignored here and this negligence is going to leave a legacy of pollution for future generations.”

 The poll also found an overwhelming 74% of respondents do not want regional councils to allow new agricultural development and expansion ‘if it restricts public use and makes waterways unsafe for swimming, fishing and food gathering’.

The only surprise there is that it’s not more than 74%.

What the summary doesn’t say, but the full report does, is that a good number of farmers are among them:

The survey finds

  • An overwhelming 89% of adult New Zealanders link their Kiwi identity to their natural environment
  • · Some 2.34 million of the country’s 3.199m adults believe dairying has worsened water quality in the past 20 years.

However,

  • 67% will agree to large scale irrigation schemes – to grow intensive dairy farming – being allowed to proceed, but only provided scientific evidence proves that measures are in place to ensure downstream waterways are not polluted.
  • · There is strong agreement that polluters should pay, including 76.1% of farm owners and managers. . .

I’m surprised those last two numbers aren’t higher.

The last point is a strong rejection of the Green Party policy at the last election.

They wanted to tax irrigators and use the money to clean up waterways.

That would mean people who are doing what they should be would be paying for those who weren’t and that’s not what those surveyed want.

The support for polluters-paying is reinforced further on:

Responsibility for improving water quality

There is a strong agreement that those who pollute waterways should be made accountable for their restoration so they are safe for swimming, fishing and food gathering.

Some 89% support this view; only 1.6% disagree. Agreement sweeps across all occupational groups, including farm owners and managers (76%)  and supporters of all parties currently in the New Zealand Parliament. Among those who cast their party vote for the  National Party in 2011, 88% believe polluters should be held accountable for restoration of waterways.

New Zealanders also want farmers to take responsibility for reducing any impact of dairying on the environment (only 15 % agree that they should not, 72% disagree with a statement saying farmers should not be required to take responsibility).

Dairy companies’ responsibilities

There is also strong support (73%) for requiring dairy companies to take responsibility for the environmental performance of their contracted suppliers .

This support rises to 82% among farm owners and managers and to 75% among 2011 voters for the National Party.

That is happening now.

The dairy industry and farmers are already  investing millions of dollars in managing their environmental impact and taking their responsibilities seriously.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says dairy farmers, through the milksolids levy they pay to DairyNZ, have boosted their industry environmental investment by 61 percent this financial year to $11 million per annum.

Dr Mackle says it is not surprising that a public attitudes survey just released and funded by Fish and Game paints a negative picture of public attitudes to dairy farming. He doesn’t see the survey work as particularly rigorous or important. “They are playing politics in an election year and dairy farmers are the convenient football to kick around,” he says.

“I think New Zealanders understand that dairying is important to the success of the New Zealand economy and that dairy farmers are an important part of our community. They just want to see the industry acting responsibly and managing its impact,” he says.

“We don’t need another survey to tell us what we already know – that New Zealanders care what the dairy industry is doing to live up to their expectations around environmental stewardship. We’re already acting on that concern in a range of ways - and have a strategy and plan for ensuring responsible and competitive dairy farming including a new, stronger Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord. We launched all that last year,” he says.

“Farmers have certainly recognised the need to lift their game in investing in industry actions above and beyond their usual on-farm investments to show leadership. Across the industry we have signed up to a new water accord and strategy and we’ve been putting our money behind meeting our commitments in those agreements.

“We have programmes and investments in place with regional councils in every major dairying region in the country - from Northland to Southland and every place in between. We need to work harder at making sure more New Zealanders have a better understanding of all that is being done. Farmers are certainly paying their fair share,” he says.

“Most dairy farmers are doing a great job. Industry standards for dairy farmers, no matter where you farm or what dairy company you supply, have now been set and are being implemented through company supply agreements with dairy farmer support. We’re still let down by a few bad performers but that’s like any industry,” he says.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore, says in Southland, dairy farmers, through DairyNZ, are spending $1.1 million each year on environmental work with the council and in the Waituna catchment. In addition, the on-farm investments by Waituna Catchment dairy farmers so far sit at around $1.5 million, with another additional $2 million of work still in the pipeline.

“Where we’re part of the problem, we’re investing in solutions with councils and communities - generally at a catchment level. Just ask any regional council. And this is above and beyond what individual dairy farmers are spending to meet their regulatory requirements or paying as rates including targeted rates in some areas.”

He says dairy farmers, through DairyNZ, are partnering with councils on projects and spending big money. Last year this included work with  Horizons Regional Council ($500,000), Waikato River Authority ($1.2 million), Environment Canterbury ($1 million), Northland Regional Council ($400,000) and $100,000 with the West Coast Regional Council.

“Fonterra dairy farmers have fenced 22,000 kilometres of waterways around the country now and that is all GPS mapped. Depending on how much riparian planting and maintenance is included, we estimate farmers have spent $100-200 million to achieve this, reflecting around $5-10,000 per kilometre,” he says.   

“DairyNZ is also investing dairy farmers’ money in leading New Zealand’s largest catchment project in the Waikato River above Karapiro. This $2.1m project, co-funded by DairyNZ, Waikato River Authority and central government, is delivering environmental management plans to all 700 farmers in the catchment.

“Each Sustainable Milk Plan for those farmers will cost us $2,400 to produce, and out of that will fall a range of actions and investments that the farmer will spend on their farms. That includes installing water meters on most of these 700 farms at a cost to farmers of around $1.5 million. Other examples are Taranaki farmers who are voluntarily investing an enormous amount of money and time to ensure waterways on the Taranaki ring plain are protected with fences and vegetation. Around $80 million has been spent on plants, fencing and contractors since the project began. That’s a fantastic achievement.

“So we can point to an increasing and substantial investment by dairy farmers that shows how much they are all paying in a range of ways to manage their environmental impact. On top of that the dairy industry supports the Government’s plans for farming within environmental limits that is rolling out across the country. This will address the bigger issue of managing land use change. Already in Canterbury, there will be ‘no grow’ areas for dairying in that region as part of implementing its new land and water policies,” says Dr Pridmore.

The poll results were reported to suggest most New Zealanders were against irrigation but another poll counters that.

In January this year, Kiwis voted 71% pro-irrigation in an independent poll commissioned by IrrigationNZ. . .

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says while he agrees with some of Fish&Game’s survey results, unfortunately the organisation has chosen to focus on the negative. In reality only a minority of Kiwis hold views that reflect no development or progress for New Zealand.

“Fish&Game is reiterating the same old rhetoric around the water quality problems that we all know exist in some parts of New Zealand. It’s like a broken record. Fish&Game need to change their focus and make a constructive contribution. After the Land &Water Forum the farming community is now focused on finding solutions – not throwing stones. Kiwis in our latest research emphasised that as long as irrigation is undertaken in a sustainable and responsible fashion, the majority are comfortable with it.”

“We do however acknowledge that Kiwis need more information on irrigation practice today and how it is monitored and managed and we hope to fill that information gap next month with the launch of our new SMART irrigation website.”

In the meantime we agree with the following findings from Fish&Game;

  • Industry bodies to better understand and align with public opinion on issues relating to irrigation, water and environmental protection in order to form responsible and acceptable policies and industry standards;
  • That irrigation which aids economic development must be managed responsibly with standardised measures and monitoring in place and that
  • ‘Smarter’ practices must be sought out which both enhance production but also protect New Zealand’s resources.

“Irrigation New Zealand is working with agencies, organisations and individuals to minimise the impact of irrigation on our rivers and river flow and water quality limits are being set so that irrigators sustainably manage the water we all value,” says Mr Curtis.

A lot of what appears in the media is a result of poor practices in the past.

There’s a lot of time and money going into remedying those problems and helping farmers do all they can to protect and enhance waterways now.


Rural round-up

March 16, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board elects a new Chairman:

Northland farmer and Northern North Island Farmer Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand James Parsons has been elected Chairman of the farmer-owned organisation.

Parsons was elected Chairman at a meeting of the board that followed the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting in Feilding yesterday.

Parsons said he was honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the sheep and beef sector through the work of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a vehicle for farmers to invest as a group, in work that they couldn’t do alone. Much of the core research and information we need in order to achieve greater profitability on our farms simply wouldn’t exist without farmer investment through Beef + Lamb New Zealand.” . . .

Fonterra needs more capital – Keith Woodford:

This is an outstanding year for dairy farmers with record farm-gate milk prices. Barring another major drought, national milk production records will also be set. But for Fonterra it is not a good year.

The problem is that Fonterra itself lacks fundamental profitability. Indeed if Fonterra were this year to pay its farmers the price which Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual calculations say it should be paying, then Fonterra would make a big loss.

Fonterra’s solution for 2014 is to build capital by retaining some 70c per kg milksolids (i.e. per kg of fat plus protein) from the theoretical milk price. This will see about $1 billion retained in Fonterra’s bank account, which in turn will avoid major new borrowings. . . .

Giant DHL moves on from fracas - Tim Fulton:

South Island farming giant Dairy Holdings Ltd believes it has emerged stronger on the other side of an ownership dispute involving titans of New Zealand farming. Chief executive Colin Glass talks to Tim Fulton about DHL’s approach to its 300 staff, its governance and industry outlook.

Dairy Holdings Ltd (DHL) could strictly be classed as a corporate, although its chief executive Colin Glass squirms at the word.

The business owns more than 50 farms and milks about 40,000 cows on more than 14,000ha but prides itself on another statistic – the number of staff it has helped into farm ownership.

Making the step from contract milker or sharemilker to outright farm ownership was difficult but not impossible, Glass said. . .

Where next for the badger cull? - Philip Case:

The future of the badger cull in England has been cast in doubt after a leaked report concluded the pilots in the South West were not effective.

Details of the long-awaited independent scientific assessment of last year’s trial culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset, seen by the BBC, claimed they fell short of their targets .

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which was appointed by DEFRA to evaluate the pilots, has apparently also concluded they failed the test for humaneness, after 5% of culled badgers took longer than five minutes to die.

On public safety, however, it is understood the panel will report there were no issues. . .

Dairy Industry Winners Focused On Debt Reduction:

The winners of the 2014 West Coast Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition, Chris and Carla Staples, are focused on reducing debt and increasing equity.

The couple, who won $11,300 in prizes, are positioning themselves to take the next step to farm ownership.

The other major winners at the 2014 West Coast Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards were Jason Macbeth, the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, and Amy White, winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year title. . . .

Weather or weevils? It pays to check:

Is it the weather or is it weevils? That’s the question farmers should be asking if poor pasture growth is threatening on-farm productivity.

Clover root weevil is being reported across the country and especially in the Lower South Island where its prevalence is particularly high this summer. Nodules on clover roots fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and provide a ‘free’ form of nitrogen fertiliser. Weevils feeding on them disturb the nitrogen fixing with subsequent damage to foliage and pasture quality.

“Many farmers may be putting slower pasture or animal growth rates down to lack of sunshine and overcast weather given the mixed summer we have had. However clover root weevil may also be an issue on their properties and is often a hidden cause of poor pasture productivity,” says Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto. . .

https://twitter.com/modernmilkmaid/status/444611760582975488

NZ Whisky proclaimed one of the world’s best:

He’s believed to have visited more whisky distilleries than anyone on earth and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible boasts over 4,500 whiskies. But few score 94 points or higher, so Murray has created a special symbol for the handful of whiskies that earn the status ‘Liquid Gold.’

In a great start to 2014 for the New Zealand Whisky Company, Jim Murray’s latest edition hot off the press in London, sees the South Island Single Malt 21 y.o. scored at 95 points, placing it in the highly coveted category. This is the first time ever that a New Zealand whisky has scored so high and been anointed ‘Liquid Gold’.  

“This is a salute to the craftsmanship of the Dunedin distillers,” says company CEO Greg Ramsay. “Being recognised as one of the world’s great whiskies by Jim Murray, that’s the ultimate endorsement of your dram and all the Dunedin distillers like Cyril Yates can be proud that what they were doing in the 80s and 90s in New Zealand, was every bit as good as what the Scots were doing over in Speyside and on Islay.”  . . .


Rural round-up

March 14, 2014

Concern over dry conditions in Waikato, Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has visited the Waikato today to see first-hand the challenging dry conditions facing farmers.

“Most farmers are managing the dry conditions in Waikato and Northland, but it’s becoming difficult for some. The last few months have been very dry as pasture has browned off.

“Rain is forecast to hit the upper North Island this week as the remnants of Cyclone Lusi hits New Zealand. Any rain will be gratefully received by farmers.

“At this stage, the Government has not been asked to declare an ‘adverse event’ in any region. MPI have been providing me with regular updates and I’ll be watching these dry conditions around the North Island closely.

“Farmers are not interested in handouts, but they want to know the Government understands the challenges they are facing. That’s why I’m here today to see firsthand how they are coping with the conditions. . .

Irrigation share offer a test run – David Bruce:

An irrigation scheme designed to bring water to about 40,000ha in the Waimate area and create up to 1200 jobs has taken a big step forward with farmers being offered shares, which will help determine if it is feasible.

The Hunter Downs scheme, originally estimated in 2009 to cost about $200 million, was first mooted about eight years ago and Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd has now issued a prospectus offering 40,000 shares to fund investigations to see if the scheme is viable.

The company needs to sell at least half of the shares, at $200 a share, for the share offer and scheme to proceed. . .

Dunne deal on doing things differently:

THE MINISTRY for Primary Industry (MPI) will look “quite different” as a result of an “alignment process” that started last week, says the new chief executive, Martyn Dunne.

Three months in his new role, he is ringing changes. For example, he has appointed deputy director-general Roger Smith to head MPI’s operation in China and is about to appoint two more staff there. He’s also adding staff to other key diplomatic posts in countries where market access is an issue.

Dunne told Rural News the “alignment process” is to meet the huge expectations and demands on his organisation. MPI and its previous incarnations have undergone almost constant restructuring for 25 years, but Dunne denies this is the case with the current moves.

“I don’t call it a restructuring and the staff don’t see it that way,” he says. “Normally restructuring is something driven by cost pressure and other demands and generally results in a downsizing. . .

Positive step in Fonterra accepting charges:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see Fonterra has accepted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) four charges over the whey protein concentrate recall last year.

“This scare has been invaluable learning curve for Fonterra and they are making positive changes already to make sure this never happens again,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Our reputation for food quality and safety is paramount to our success on the world stage. Whilst this product recall was a false alarm it has unearthed some flaws in Fonterra’s system. By whole heartedly accepting the charges laid by MPI yesterday, Fonterra has shown they are on the front foot of this issue. . .

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Raise Reputation:

The major winners in the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards, Duncan and Kim Fraser, have become role models in the industry after raising their profile from entering the awards.

The couple won the 2014 Manawatu Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title last night “One of the benefits of the awards is that it does raise your profile in the industry and so opportunities are now coming to us. People are also now coming to us to seek advice,” the Frasers say.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Awapuni Raceway were Sam Ebbett, the Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year, and Hayley Hoogendyk, the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Hot contest for dairy awards spurred on by record prize pool:

The region’s top dairy farmers will be revealed this Friday as they compete for a coveted spot in the national final and a share of the record $710,000 prize pool.

Several hundred people are expected at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Taranaki dinner at The Hub in Hawera where winners of three categories will be announced: Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The winners of each category will join entrants from 10 other regions around the country vying for the national titles to be announced in Auckland on May 9. . .

Extra feed equals extra dollars for dairy farmers:

With farmgate milk prices at an all-time high, maintaining production for the final months of the season is a priority for dairy farmers, and getting those extra kilos of milk solids means making some good calls around feed.

Low rainfall and drying winds in some parts of the country is slowing grass growth, while in other regions, there has been enough rain to maintain good pasture conditions. Ballance Agri-Nutrients General Manager Sales, Andrew Reid says farmers taking stock of mid-summer feed supplies can look to Ballance for the right advice on nutrient choices to keep herds producing.

“Because we take cover the complete farm nutrients spectrum, we’re in a good position to help farmers use forage and supplementary feed to keep up production. What to use, and when, will all depend on individual farm goals and weather conditions.” . . .

New rural masthead to showcase the best of our rural products to farmers:

Entrepreneurial agritech firm Bell-Booth has signed up to showcase their innovative probiotic products Queen of Calves™ and X-Factor™ through the new rural masthead product, Field Trials, being launched by “The rural sector is our nation’s backbone,” says Richard Stevens BrandWorld’s managing director.

“It’s also the single largest opportunity for many goods and services with around 68,000 holdings nationwide and an average per farm spend of $341,000 each year.

“With those sorts of budgets farmers are very astute businessmen so you have to find clever ways to reach them. Good suppliers like Bell-Booth know the trick is not to sell to those farmers but to give them the information they need, in a format they understand so they can make the best decisions they can.” . . .

Local Baby Formula Maker NuZtri reaches milestone with first shipment to China:

New Zealand owned Best Health Products Limited, producers of NuZtri Premium Formula and fortified Milk Powder today dispatched their first shipment of Fortified Milk Powder destined for the Chinese market.

“We have been waiting for some time for this day to arrive, finally NuZtri has dispatched our first shipment of Premium Forfeited Milk Powder to China” said Craig Calder General Manager of NuZtri.

“NuZtri has invested a considerable amount of money researching and developing a Premium Milk Powder product in New Zealand for the Chinese consumers. The demand for our product is high”. . .


Rural round-up

March 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Ahuwhenua Trophy farms to have field days - Stephen Bell:

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

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

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

Meating the market 100 years - Andrew Ashton:

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

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

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

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

Irrepressible 234 selected as link ram: – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

Rural sector makes beefy contribution to urban Christchurch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fonterra Milk for Schools Hits the High Seas:

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

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

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

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

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


Milk price down 4%

March 5, 2014

What goes up can also go down and the price index dropped 4% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

 

gdt change

 

gdt 10 yrs

 

The price of anhydrous milk fat fell 3.5%; butter increased 3.9%; butter milk powder dropped 5.8%; cheddar increased .7%; milk protein concentrated dropped 3.3%; rennet casein increased 2.9%; skim milk powder dropped 3.9% and whole milk powder fell 5.7%.

gdt 4.3.14

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2014

CPW shocked by ECan’s mistakes on nitrate loads – Tim Fulton:

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has admitted critical mistakes in calculating the nitrate loads for newly irrigated land in the Central Plains Water scheme.

Central Plains Water (CPW) has been stunned by a recommendation to halve its nitrate allowance under a land and water plan for the Selwyn-Waihora catchment.

The allocation was adjusted three times as CPW sought commitment from farmers to its scheme. Even though irrigators had been advised the calculations were subject to change, the nitrate allocation has bounced from 520 tonnes to 850t and back to 434t. . . .

The Heilala Vanilla story – Caitlin Sykes:

John Ross got a whole lot more than he was expecting for his 60th birthday.

 

A retired dairy farmer, Ross’ birthday wish was to sail to Tonga on a boat he’d built himself, have a family holiday and indulge his passion for spearfishing.

 

But he fell in love with the place. So much so that when a cyclone ravaged the Vava’u island group the year after he’d stayed there, Ross rallied a group of Rotary club friends to travel back to Tonga to help with the clean-up.

 

In thanks, a local family gifted him a plot of land, in exchange for him using it to provide employment for those living there.

 

The gift sent Ross on a journey of discovery, travelling around the globe to learn all he could about vanilla – a crop that only grows naturally 20 degrees either side of the equator and is perfectly suited to growing conditions in Tonga. . . .

Preparing a winner beats milking cows - Mike Dillon:

John Morell is one of a rapidly dying breed – rural owners who train their own racehorse from a farm.

 

Not only is that a rare group these days but farming owners who send their horses to professional trainers to be prepared are also becoming as rare as Len Brown supporters.

 

When Hall of Fame champion trainer Dave O’Sullivan was a year or so from putting his feet up he declared he had just one horse in his stable who was owned by a farmer.

 

“A few years ago half my team was owned by farmers,” he declared at the time. . .

Countdown to the NZ Product Wars – Bruce Wills:

What Shane Jones told Parliament regarding Countdown will probably not be news to thousands of current and former Australian dairy farmers.  You see they’re the ones who have footed the real cost of Australia’s A$1 a litre supermarket milk war.

Last May, the head of Coles warned its suppliers Australians were paying too much for groceries at the same time a A$1.5 billion full-year profit was announced.  Several months later Woolworths, its arch rival, revealed a A$2.3 billion net profit.  Combined, the two groups were making a net profit of A$7,229 every minute.  I do not begrudge successful businesses given many pension funds rely upon success like this.  What I do begrudge is if high profits come from breaking smaller businesses through predatory, anti-competitive practices.  Something I see in the Australian dairy industry.

If the 2011 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation into the supermarket milk war is anything to go by, it may leave some people on this side of the Tasman feeling deflated with our Commerce Commission about to look into things.  . .

 

McNee to ring changes at LIC - Andrea Fox:

Big job changes and expansion are planned at LIC as Wayne McNee, the new chief executive of the genetics and information heavyweight, starts flexing his muscle.

McNee, formerly chief executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is proposing structural change that could affect 56 jobs – many of them executive positions – and create 17 new roles.

His plan is expand LIC in the South Island, target international markets and focus the business on farmer needs for the future, instead of head office decisions. . .

$15 billion bonanza - Hugh Stringleman:

Record dairy prices and milk payout forecasts have a strong tail wind, which should carry them through the rest of the season.

Competing countries have their own weather woes and are unable to increase supply in response to the favourable worldwide demand.

Most New Zealand dairy farmers are seeing a double benefit – more production and the record prices– although some are contemplating a premature end to milking because of drought. . . .

Good turn-out at field days – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland Field Days filled all exhibitor spaces for the first time on its new home site as the regional economy recovers strongly.

Early last week Northland was reported by ANZ Bank to have the best economic activity numbers among 14 regions nationwide.

The activity index was up 2.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, following a similar-sized rise in the third quarter.

The six-monthly surge was the biggest since 2004. . . .

 

 

The Heilala Vanilla story


Lift in milk payout to record $8.65 – thanks China

February 28, 2014

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has lifted its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2013/14 season by 35 cents to a record level of $8.65 per kilo of milk solids.

The increase – along with a previously announced estimated dividend of 10 cents per share –amounts to a forecast Cash Payout of $8.75.

Chairman John Wilson said the higher forecast was good news for farmers, and for New Zealand.

“The increase reflects continuing strong demand for milk powders globally.

“Last December, the Board approved a forecast Farmgate Milk Price that was 70 cents per kgMS below the Farmgate Milk Price that had been calculated in accordance with the Milk Price Manual.

“We are maintaining this position, with today’s forecast being 70 cents lower than the $9.35 Milk Price derived under the Milk Price Manual.

“The Board has the discretion to pay a lower Farmgate Milk Price than that specified under the Manual, if it is in the best interests of the Co-operative,” said Mr Wilson.

The Board has also approved an increase in the Advance Rate schedule of monthly payments to farmer shareholders.  Payments from March through to June will be 25 cents per kgMS higher than the previously published schedule. . .

The increase will inject another half billion dollars into the economy but next season’s price is expected to be lower:

. . . Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said they maintained their view that increasing global milk production, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, would weigh on dairy prices from mid-2014.

”Consequently our forecast is for the milk price to fall next season to $7.10/kg MS.”

The payout along with what is expected to be new record highs in production, would provide a big boost to incomes in the rural sector, and would be a key pillar of stronger growth in the New Zealand economy in 2014.

For the average Fonterra shareholder nationwide with a herd of 402 cows milking 346kg milk solids per cow, it was an additional $48,682 in income, according to DairyNZ data for the 2012-13 season. . . .

The increase is due to continuing demand from China which is now our biggest export market.

In January 2014, goods exports were worth $4.1 billion, with $1.2 billion going to China and $556 million to Australia, Statistics New Zealand said today.

The rise in exports to China, up $590 million, was due to milk powder, butter, and cheese exports, up $469 million. The fall in exports to Australia, down $80 million, was due to unwrought gold and silver, and crude oil.

“A record 30 percent of our total exports headed to China in January 2014,” industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said. “These exports were more than double the value of those that went to Australia.” .

The trade balance for January 2014 was a surplus of $306 million (7.5 percent of exports). This is the highest-ever trade surplus for any January month. . .

The free trade deal with China is paying huge dividends.

Increased export income will be welcome at a personal level by farmers and the wise ones will use at least some of the increase to reduce debt.

It will also be welcome at a national level – adding to tax income and helping keep the country on track back to surplus.

 


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