Rural round-up

January 7, 2013

Rabbit rise may bring 1080 response – Gerald Piddock:

Environment Canterbury’s annual count shows that rabbit numbers are on the rise in the Mackenzie Basin and Omarama.

The regional council monitors rabbit trends every year and the latest draft analysis showed a noticeable increase of rabbits in the Mackenzie Basin, eastern Mackenzie around Haldon Rd and in Omarama.

ECan’s biosecurity team leader, Brent Glentworth, expected there would be some large 1080 operations this summer, particularly on the eastern side of the Mackenzie, as land owners battle to keep rabbit numbers down. . .

UK biofuels influence NZ wheats:

European, notably UK, breeding programmes, growers at PGW’s agronomy group field day last week heard.

 Europe is normally a regular exporter of wheat, but three massive biofuel plants have created an extra 2mt of demand for wheat, preferably high starch soft milling types that maximise ethanol yield, Limagrain’s UK director of sales and New Zealand coordinator, Alastair Moore (pictured), explained.

“We’re seeing quite a drive to the soft wheat end and a lot of the new varieties recommended [in the UK] were in that category.” . .

Insecticide removal would hit crops hard – Gerald Piddock:

Seed and cereal farmers face a major risk to their productivity and profitability from the removal of organophosphate insecticides from the market.

Current control practices used by farmers, particularly during crop establishment rely heavily on organophosphates which are currently the subject of a review and re-regulation by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Organophosphate insecticides are used by farmers to control grass grub, one of the country’s most destructive plant pests. . .

Van der Heyden works till end:

OUTGOING FONTERRA chairman Henry van der Heyden will be using the next five months as a director to help execute the co-op’s strategy refresh.

Van der Heyden is defending his decision to stay on the board after relinquishing the chairmanship to John Wilson. He says the decision has been taken in the interest of the co-op. Some shareholders have questioned the decision.
Van der Heyden says he has always done what is right for Fonterra. . .

Kirkwood takes vote for council – Gerald Piddock:

Oamaru dairy farmer Greg Kirkwood is the new Fonterra Shareholders councillor for ward 32 in Southern Canterbury.

Mr Kirkwood was elected to the council ahead of Geraldine dairy farmer Ad Hendriks.

He takes over from Desiree Reid, who retired from the position by rotation.

Mr Kirkwood said he put his name forward for the Shareholders Council because he wanted to get involved more in the co-operative.

Raw milk health risks under review:

Since the 1950s, New Zealand’s commercial milk supply has been pasteurised – treated with heat to kill bacteria – and most of us have swallowed the official position, that untreated milk is potentially dangerous to drink.

But there’s a growing trend of consumers wanting their food in a natural state, and that includes milk. They say raw milk is not only safe, it’s better for you, and a major study is underway to see if they’re right.

Most of us buy our milk pasteurised and from a dairy or supermarket fridge. But for mums like Angela Jones that’s changing. She’s one of thousands of townies making a regular trek to a trusted farmer to buy raw milk at the farm gate. . .


Farmers in Fonterra for long haul

November 25, 2012

Friends of Fonterra have shown strong interest in buying investment units in the company.

In an email to shareholders Sir Henry van der Heyden says that more than 2,500 people have applied to buy Units under the Friends of Fonterra offer.

o Nearly 900 farmer shareholders
o Nearly 200 sharemilkers
o About 70 retired farmers
o More than 1,300 staff
• Further 260 Australian dairy farmer suppliers also applied for Units

Only about 260 farmers offered to sell Economic Rights of around 5.5 million shares into the fund which means the board will top up the fund to $500m.

This shows that farmers have faith in the company, are with it for the long run and have confidence that they’ve more to gain by holding on to their shares than the short-term profit from selling them.

 


Good and bad news in clean-stream snapshot

March 18, 2011

A newsletter to shareholders from Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden says there’s good and bad news in the dairying and clean streams accord snapshot: 

  • Good news is we’re making headway.
    • Full compliance with effluent rules up 5% to 65%
    • 99% of farms have nutrient budgets
    • 85% of stock excluded from waterways
    • Less than 2% of farms need crossings bridged or culverted
  • Bad news is there’s been a 1% increase in significant effluent non-compliance from15% to 16%.

Fonterra said  the slight increase in significant non-compliance with regional council dairy effluent rules was unacceptable, but believed its Every Farm Every Year inspections regime was a concerted effort to turn this result around.

Today’s Dairying and Clean Streams Accord snapshot for the 2009/10 season shows significant national non-compliance rose by 1% to 16%, despite considerable improvements in Northland, Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.

Fonterra Group Director Supplier and External Relations, Kelvin Wickham said Every Farm Every Year was a concerted effort to address non-compliance by identifying farms at risk and ensuring remedial plans were put in place.

“The programme got underway nationally in August so it was never going to change last season’s results. But what is encouraging is that the compliance message is getting through and farmers are taking it seriously. That’s also evident in the snapshot results for full compliance which rose 5% to 65% last season.”

He said Fonterra’s Sustainable Dairying Advisors have completed 1188 consultations with farmers keen to ensure their on-farm effluent infrastructure is able to cope with the year-round demands put on it. Farms are referred to the advisors if the Every Farm Every Year inspection identifies properties at risk of non-compliance, but Mr Wickham said some farmers had also proactively sought advice ahead of their farm’s assessment.

“Our initiative is beginning to have a positive impact with farmers willing to accept advice and to spend the money needed to improve their effluent systems. By the end of this season we expect to have 1,000 remedial plans in place. Since August, 252 farms have already completed their plans and a further 582 are underway. There are no quick fixes but farmers are working hard to get it right and in many cases a significant investment is needed to ensure systems are compliant 365 days a year.”

Mr Wickham said good progress was being made on other Accord targets and Fonterra was this year highlighting the work of five farmers who were contributing to this progress.

Work done by these farmers who have put the Dairying  Accord into action can be seen here.  Their work includes improved fertiliser management, fencing waterways and tree planting.

“Across the country there is a lot of good work going on unnoticed and while we know there’s more work to be done, it’s also appropriate to acknowledge the real efforts being made.”

The snapshot showed 85% of farms nationally now have stock excluded from waterways and in Northland, Canterbury, Otago and Southland 90% have been excluded. Less than 2% of farms required bridges or culverts for waterways. Nutrient budgets had been adopted by 99% of farms but the challenge now was to work towards full management plans where nutrient inputs and outputs are measured and managed.

“The results show a lot of good effort has gone in from farmers, regional councils and organisations like DairyNZ and Every Farm Every Year is stepping up the effort in the key area of compliance.”

Farms working through remedial plans include those which could pass a compliance spot check, but farmers still accepted the work had to be done.

“Every Farm Every Year assesses whether an on-farm system is fit for purpose 365 days a year. This is about risk assessment and mitigation, not compliance monitoring. It’s not enough for a farm to comply 90% of the time. Year round compliance is what we are looking for and that’s where we are heading.”

Mr Wickham said risk factors being identified on farms mirrored those identified in the Dairying and Cleans Streams Accord snapshot.

“We know effluent storage capacity, irrigation systems and feed pads or standoffs are all potential trouble spots. Without adequate storage farmers can’t defer irrigation in wet conditions and Every Farm Every Year helps them recognise that. They are also recognising the value of effluent as a source of nutrients and can see the money spent on upgrading systems has a relatively quick payback through better grass growth and productivity.”

He said new tools like the Massey University effluent pond storage calculator were invaluable for ensuring individual farms had storage matched to soil types, herd size, production days, yard and feedpad areas and irrigation capacity. DairyNZ had also successfully established a new industry code of practice to ensure the design and installation of effluent systems meets set standards. Positive working relationships between regional councils, Fonterra and DairyNZ also meant farmers were getting good information and practical programmes such as open days.

“There is a lot of commitment out there and both Fonterra and our farmers are taking sustainability very seriously. There’s a way to go, but the effort is going in and we are starting to see some promising results.”

Agriculture Minsiter Minister David Carter said farmers are slowly taking heed of the need to lift their game to prevent pollution.

Mr Carter says that while progress could be faster, the message is gradually getting through to those farmers who have struggled with effluent compliance, and are now looking to their industry bodies and regional councils for support

“For example, in Canterbury, the ‘Check it, fix it, get it right’ initiative has been working to provide information and advice to farmers on adopting good effluent management practices.

“In the 2009/10 dairy season, 59 percent of Canterbury dairy farms were fully compliant with their dairy-shed effluent discharge conditions, up from 43 percent in the previous season. Significant non-compliance fell to 8 percent from 19 percent in the previous season.

“This initiative is now being rolled out throughout the North Island, and Southland.

The 2009/10 Snapshot shows progress has been made on four of the five targets set by the Accord.

Mr Carter also notes that Fonterra’s Every Farm Every Year checks of effluent management expects to have about 1000 farms on remedial plans by the end of the current dairy season.

“It’s encouraging that many of those farmers did not wait to be checked, but got in touch with the co-operative to ask for the plan.

“While it can’t be directly attributed to those initiatives, Environment Waikato has reported that significant non-compliance has more than halved in the season-to-date, with just 11 percent of farmers in serious breach of regional planning rules.”

“There is now a good deal of education, training and technological innovation underway in the dairy sector, all aimed at maintaining productivity while reducing environmental impact,” says Mr Carter.

Farmers in our area are taking the Accord very seriously. Most are motivated by the determination to keep the water they drink and swim in clean.

For the few for whom that carrot isn’t sufficient there’s the stick of severe and costly consequences of falling foul of regional council requirements. There’s also the knowlege that Fonterra has lost patience with the minority who are deliberately or carelessly polluting waterways and tarring all dairy farmers with their dirty brush.

The full snapshot is here.


Christchurch earthquake appeal goes global

February 27, 2011

Prime Minister John Key has launched a global appeal for the Christchurch earthquake recovery effort.

“It’s vital we reach as many people throughout the world as possible who want to help. This isn’t just New Zealand’s tragedy – the February 22 earthquake affected countless people internationally.

 “Like all Cantabrians and fellow New Zealanders, I have been humbled by the offers of help and assistance pouring in from individuals, organisations and governments around the world. This new Appeal gives people another means of donating to the people of Christchurch and the recovery effort.

 Mr Key said the Appeal was designed to complement those already established, such as the funds organised by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

 “It’s my intention that the Government will work alongside these organisations to make sure the funds are used in the best possible way.”

Mr Key said New Zealand government departments at home and around the world would be throwing their weight behind the Appeal. 

“This Appeal will have global reach, with our network of diplomatic posts able to reach millions of people world-wide.

“I am also pleased to announce that the proceeds raised for the earthquake recovery from Saturday’s special Lotto draw will go directly to the Appeal,” said Mr Key.

 Mr Key praised several organisations which had donated their time and expertise in order to get the Appeal up and running.

“Westpac has worked tirelessly with Clemenger BBDO, Direct Payment Solutions and AIM Proximity to turn the Appeal into a reality in a very short space of time. Facebook has also helped its users engage in the initiative, which gives the Appeal a truly international flavour.”

Mr Key also thanked Colenso BBDO and Run the Red, both of which worked with Westpac on the Appeal website and text message donation service respectively.

 “I’d also like to thank New Zealand’s other retail banks, which are working with Westpac on the Appeal.”

 Mr Key said he was encouraging New Zealanders to give generously to Christchurch.

 “Every little bit helps – every donation, no matter how small, will be welcomed.”

 Donations can be made at www.christchurchearthquakeappeal.govt.nz

 Telecom, Vodafone and 2 Degrees mobile customers can text chch to 933 to make an automatic $3 donation.

 Donations can also be made via internet banking, or at any branch of New Zealand’s retail banks, by depositing into account number 03-0251-0039807-00.

More information on the gloabl appeal can be found on Facebook.

Fonterra has arranged for shareholders to donate from their milk cheques and will match those donations and any from its staff dollar for dollar up to $1 million, on top of the $1 million donated last week.

A newsletter from chairman Henry van der Heyden on Friday said shareholders and staff had already donated $260,ooo which with the company’s matching donation meant more than half a million dollars had been given.


High dollar stops increase in Fonterra payout

November 6, 2010

Fonterra has confirmed the forecast payout for this season at $6.60 per kilo of milksolids and said the high dollar prevented an increase.

Farmers who are fully shared up will get an extra 25 to 35 cents per share.

This means an average farmer who is 100 per cent shared up to milksolids production is forecast to receive a total of $6.85-$6.95 per kgMS in cash payments for 2010/11, with the balance of Distributable Profit being retained by the Co-operative.


Fonterra Chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said dairy market prices were holding up better than initially expected, leading the Board to contemplate an increase in the forecast Milk Price. However, the recent strength of the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar meant it was not prudent to increase the forecast at this time.

Increasing the advance payout from $4.30 to $4.60 a kilo will help cashflows over the next few months but the company warns the outlook is volatile.

Sir Henry commented, “When we issued the season’s opening forecast of $6.60 in late May, we indicated that then market prices could have suggested a much higher Milk Price – but that given volatile market conditions at that time we expected to see some softening in prices and we therefore forecast at a lower level. While market prices retreated sharply over the next few months before stabilising more recently, they have held up better than initially expected. However, we’ve also seen the New Zealand dollar strengthen significantly against the US dollar, eroding the value of dairy export returns for our farmers.

“We should remain cautious as there’s still uncertainty and volatility in global markets and we remain vulnerable to adverse movements in dairy prices or exchange rates which could hit the Milk Price. There is always potential for both downside and upside in the forecast, so I would encourage all farmers to continue to take a conservative approach in their farm budgeting.”

Those of us who’ve learned the lessons of the last few seasons are taking a very conservative approach to budgeting. It’s only a couple of seasons since the forecast payout dropped and we don’t want a repeat of the problems that caused.


Fonterra milk peak sets new record

November 3, 2010

Fonterra’s 26 sites processed 7608 million litres of milk last Wednesday, October 27, setting a new record for peak production.

Gary Romano, Managing Director – Fonterra Trade and Operations, says the new record is three million litres up on last year’s record peak.

“It’s a real credit to our teams and our plants that we processed all the milk so smoothly.

“It was a slow start to the season with wet weather in the Waikato and Taranaki and snow in the South Island. However, this recent spell of fine weather has seen a sharp increase in production on-farm. . .

“Since Fonterra was formed, we’ve increased our processing abilities by investing in new technology and plants such as ED4 – the most efficient powder plant in the world – to ensure we can keep ahead of milk production increases in an efficient and sustainable way.

“We’ve handled this growth while maintaining a strong focus on the quality of our products and the health and safety of our people and we’re setting internal quality benchmarks in a number of areas as we continue to focus on improving our performance.

Mr Romano said season-to-date, overall milk production was now slightly ahead of last year but, with the season only a third of the way through, it was too early to talk about actual production figures for the year.

Prices were stable in this morning’s globalDairy Trade auction with no change in the trade weighted index.

The price of whole milk powder was even at $3495 a tonne; skim milk powder dropped 1.1% to $3,021; anhydrous milk fat was up 4.5% to $5,394 and butter milk powder was down 1.8% to $3,011.

In a newsletter to shareholders Fonterra chair Henry van der Heyden said CWT (Co-operatives Working Together) in the USA have stopped culling cows in favour of export subsidies.

Cheese prices are likely to come under pressure as a result of subsidised product from there but butter is still in tight supply in the USA and Europe.

Production in Australia has been hit by wet weather in September.


Snow’s no good for lambs

September 20, 2010

Spring had been merciful to lambs until now.

But Southland and Otago farmers are expecting big losses in the wake of the weekend’s snowfalls.

Federated Farms board member David Rose said:

“Winter in winter is OK but winter in spring is a bit of a disaster.”

They were in the middle of lambing and had quite a few losses because of the weather, Mr Rose said.

“You feel a bit helpless, really … it’s hard to do anything.”

There were only so many sheep they could put inside, which was difficult at the rate they had been lambing, Mr Rose said. “You do what you can … It’s inevitable you’re going to have losses.”

Feds Otago president Mike Lord said those worst affected could lose 200-300 lambs.

Newborn lambs had virtually no chance against the elements on Saturday because of the wind chill, he said.

Luckily, many late-lambing farmers were due to start today and the losses would have been much worse had the blast hit in a few days’ time, he said.

News reports like this often lead to questions of why farmers lamb at this time of year. It’s all to do with feed supply – having enough grass at the right time to flush ewes before tupping in autumn and to feed them and their lambs in spring and early summer.

Besides, storms strike at any time of the year.

Snow isn’t good for the potential fruit harvest either.

Alexandra’s Blossom Festival is scheduled for next weekend and orchardists have been fighting frosts.

A newsletter to shareholders from Fonterra chair Henry van der Hayden said up to eight inches of snow at Edendale prevented tankers getting out to farms. Several farmers had to dump milk into effluent ponds.

There shouldn’t be any environmental damage as a result of that providing it’s sprayed on to paddocks in the right way at the right time and the co-operative will pay out on estimates of milk lost.


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