Rural round-up

July 10, 2013

Fonterra price scheme proves popular – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price (GMP) pilot scheme for the current season has proven so popular that it has required scaling, the co-operative dairy giant said.

Fonterra said 328 farms have applied to supply 37 million kg of milk solids for the scheme but that it had maintained the size of the pilot at the targeted 15 million kgMS, about one per cent of its total milk supply.

As a result all applicants were scaled to 40 per cent of their requested kgMS, with a minimum threshold of 10 per cent of a farm’s production. . .

Synlait Milk sets share price at $2.20 a piece:

Synlait Milk will sell shares at $2.20 apiece before joining the NZX later this month, valuing the dairy processor at $322 million and making it the 43rd biggest company on the exchange.

The Rakaia-based company plans to raise $75 million of new capital, and existing shareholders will sell $38.7 million, or 17.6 million shares, in a secondary offer, listing on July 23, Synlait Milk said in a statement.

Cornerstone shareholder Bright Dairy and Food won’t participate in the offer, reducing its holding to about 39 percent from the 51 percent it acquired in 2010 after Synlait abandoned an earlier plan to go public because of tepid investor appetite after the global financial crisis. . .

Huge opportunity with Icebreaker - Sally Rae:

Nicola Simpson is a firm believer in taking opportunities as they come.

She was on holiday with her family at Pounawea when she checked her emails and found a message ”out of the blue” asking if she would be interested in joining merino clothing company Icebreaker.

It meant moving from Wanaka to Auckland, a city where the family had lived before, but it was a ”huge opportunity”, she said. . .

LGNZ Welcomes New Dairy Accord:

Local Government New Zealand has welcomed the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord released at Parliament today.

The Accord, which involves two tiers of “accountable” and “supporting” partnerships between a number of dairy industry bodies and agri-businesses, also lists 15 regional and unitary councils as “Friends of the Accord.” . . .


Rural round-up

July 4, 2013

To be or not to be questions for red meat: Speech by Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson, to the 2013 Meat & Fibre Annual General Meeting, Ashburton

In writing my address to you today, where we will be discussing the biggest change red meat has faced for a generation, the first four lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet come to mind. Especially since there seems to be something rotten in the state of our red-meat industry.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…”

Right there I seem to have exhausted my knowledge of Shakespeare!

Suffice to say Hamlet was a tragedy, which is not what we want for New Zealand’s red meat sector. Yet those lines pretty much sum up the position we are in. Do we leave things to chance, or do we do something about it? . . .

New pastoral lease rent system bedding in:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says 17 South Island High Country Crown pastoral leases are from this week on a new rent system.

There are 221 pastoral leases and each one has its rent reviewed every 11 years.

“The 17 leases were the first reviewed under new legislation (Crown Pastoral Land Amendment Act 2012) which bases rents on the earning capacity of the land and not on the value of the land exclusive of improvements. . .

Icebreaker Appoints Rob Fyfe as New Executive Chairman:

Rob Fyfe has stepped up his involvement in Icebreaker to become the Executive Chairman in September of this year.

Icebreaker founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Moon says he is thrilled to have Rob Fyfe more involved in the business.

“The chairman’s role is critical and works very closely with the CEO to steer the ship and set the priorities and objectives of the business for the future. I can think of no one better than Rob to be able to do this, given his wealth of experience. . .

Winter storms sends farm feed prices soaring:

Winter storms which which dumped heavy snow through much of the South Island and left some areas under water have sent supplementary feed prices soaring.

Southern farmers have been warned that feed shortages could become an issue if they get hit with more wild winter weather.

Otago Federated Farmers president Stephen Korteweg says farmers in the south did not go into winter with big surpluses of hay or straw. . .

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential:

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential for reducing hyperglycemia, weight gain and cholesterol levels.

“The blueberry’s ability to intervene in conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity is of critical importance,” says trial leader.

The results of a recently published research study highlight blueberries’ potential to play a significant role in helping to manage weight and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. . .


Rural round-up

June 24, 2013

Stock rescue mission – Rosie Manins:

A massive rescue operation is under way in Otago’s high country, where thousands of sheep and cattle are stranded in thick snow cover.

Volunteers are needed to help farmers access and feed stock on about 40 stations above 500m throughout the region.

Otago’s high country farms are among the worst-hit in the South Island.

Up to one metre of snow has isolated sheep and cattle and prevented farmers from surveying the damage, so it is too soon to know the extent of stock losses. . .

NZ Merino excited by Japanese contract – Sally Rae:

The signing of $2.5 million worth of New Zealand Merino contracts by Japanese brand Nikke has been heralded as a significant deal.

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and its fine wool growers have a 17-year relationship with the Japanese manufacturer of wool textiles.

NZM described the deal, signed in Osaka, as marking an ”exciting new era” in the partnership. Contracts were concluded for 132 tonnes of 14.3, 15.3, 16.3, 17.3, 19.5 and 21.5 micron, at prices ”significantly superior” to today’s market. . .

Innovation took merino to world – Tim Cronshaw:

Some of the best advice Icebreaker co-founder Brian Brakenridge gives to people with new business ideas is not to be afraid of being a non-conformist.

He and his wife, Fiona, were running merinos at Pohuenui Island in the Marlborough Sounds when they founded the merino outdoor garment business before the entry of “marketing guru” Jeremy Moon.

Brakenridge admits he sometimes feels uncomfortable being called the founder of the business, as Moon took it to its great heights. . .

Rural contractors take big hit from drought – Carmen Hall:

Western Bay of Plenty rural contractors lost as much as 50 per cent of their business because of the drought.

Hardest hit were hay, silage and cropping companies, which say most of their work was wiped out because of poor grass-growing conditions.

Bradstreet Contractors owner Peter Bradstreet says his workload is down 45 to 50 per cent and it is possibly the worst drought since the business began 35 years ago. “It has been particularly bad because the grass just didn’t grow.

“We’d get a little bit of rain but it would stop just when growing conditions looked good again … it was the longevity of the dry spell that did the damage.” . . .

 

Farmers add meat to debate on behaviour -David Burt:

Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre executive asked its members in April to participate in an online survey about farmer behaviour.

The aim was to gather information that would help the executive understand the drivers underpinning stock selling and related behaviours, which are thought to be one of the issues holding back the sector. The response from members was gratifying, with nearly 900 members participating.

A full analysis of the results is under way and will be presented to members at the Meat & Fibre Conference in Ashburton on July 3 and 4. . .

Double the support for Dairy Women’s Network:

Long-standing Dairy Women’s Network member Cathie Cotter has been appointed to a new role as convener co-ordinator for the South Island.

The network was boosting its support of dairying women throughout the country through two new roles which would help its regional groups increase memberships, increase local training opportunities and identify and support emerging leaders, executive chairwoman Michelle Wilson said. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 16, 2012

Chinese interest in Fonterra fund ‘predictable’ Feds say:

Chinese interest in investing in Fonterra’s Cooperative Group’s shareholder fund was predictable once the scheme was approved and underlines the need for constitutional protections for the Trading Among Farmers scheme, says the main farm lobby group.

China’s sovereign wealth fund, the US$400 billion China Investment Corp, is in talks to buy units in the $525 million fund with an investment smaller than US$100 million, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing people with direct knowledge of the plans.

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund aims to raise as much as $525 million selling shares in an indicative price range of $4.60 to $5.50 apiece, giving outside investors exposure to up to 7 percent of the dairy cooperative’s equity. The final price will be set by a bookbuild among institutions and NZX firms on about Nov. 27. . .

Huge bio-fuels opportunity for NZ from forestry: Pure Advantage -  Pattrick Smellie:

New Zealand’s plantation forestry estate represents a major opportunity for New Zealand to become more self-sufficient in transport fuels, says the latest report from the Pure Advantage business lobby group seeking support for a “green growth” push in New Zealand.

However, a “crisis of faith” in the forestry industry could stymie the newly emerging potential of forestry – a sector that has long confounded attempts to add value beyond the export of raw logs, mainly to Asian markets.

Pure Advantage trust chairman Rob Morrison told BusinessDesk the fragile state of the forestry industry is a major issue for realising the largest economic opportunity identified by a study conducted by London economic consultancy Vivid Economics and the Business School at the University of Auckland. . .

Icebreaker launches online shopping:

Icebreaker, the iconic merino clothing brand, will launch an online store in New Zealand today, at icebreaker.comin time for Christmas shopping.

“It’s no secret that online shopping is the fastest growing channel in retail today, with clothing showing some of the highest growth,” says Jeremy Moon, Icebreaker CEO and founder.

“We’re a multi-channel business, and our new eCommerce site in New Zealand will complement our presence in retailers throughout the country and in our Icebreaker TouchLab retail stores in Wellington and Auckland. Our customers are increasingly demanding choice – they want to be able to choose to shop either directly from a brand, or from a retailer with a wide variety of brands.” . . .

Prince Charles inspects the Glacial Wool rug bearing his coat of arms:

New Zealand Wool Services International is pleased to make available the attached photographs of the Prince of Wales inspecting a unique six square metre Glacial wool rug bearing his coat of arms during his visit to the New Zealand Shear Brilliance wool exhibition at The Could in Auckland on 12 November. The rug has been commissioned by New Zealand Wool Services International to honour the Prince and recognise his role as a champion and patron of the global Campaign for Wool.


Close to Paradise

May 18, 2012

Paradise is at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

We didn’t go quite that far on Wednesday, our water taxi from Queenstown stopped at Mount Nicholas Station on the southern side of the lake.

This family owned and operated station runs sheep and cattle and supplies merino wool to Icebreaker.

It also offers accommodation at the homestead where we lunched on vegetable soup, made from produce from the station’s garden, and venison pie.

Our afternoon visit enabled just a quick look around the lower country near the lake but provided plenty of vistas to prove that we were in deed close to paradise if down the lake a little from Paradise.


Baacodes link producers to purchasers

June 6, 2011

We’d just come back from a week visiting farms including one which supplies Icebreaker when I bought a t-shirt.

Hoping to find it was made with the wool from our friends’ farm I checked the baacode . This links producers to purchasers by enabling buyers to find where the raw material for Icebreaker clothes was grown and introduces them to the people who grow it.

The merino wool in my t-shirt wasn’t from Middlehurst Station which we’d visited but it did come Mt Nicholas Station which is run by other friends who featured on Country Calendar a couple of weeks ago.

The programme and the baacode clips are wonderful advertisements for high country farming and farmers.


Prince’s woolly thinking good idea

January 29, 2010

Prince Charles has been criticised in the past for some woolly thinking, but this time he’s got a good idea and has launched the Wool Project –  a scheme to help sheep farmers around the world boost the price of wool.

Devised by the Prince and the director of the Pastoral Alliance, John Thorley, the scheme was billed as a comeback for wool at the launch on a Cambridgeshire sheep farm on Tuesday (26 January).

The scheme aims to turn around the wool market’s fortunes, which has seen prices slump from 93p/kg in 1997 to 66p/kg last year.

It will promote the green credentials of wool to consumers as well as urging shops to promote it as a fashionable material for clothes, carpets and rugs.

The Prince intends to create a green label to adorn woollen products across the UK and Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Federated Farmers is supporting the move. Meat & Fibre chair, Bruce Willis, points to wool’s green credentials – it’s a fashionable eco-friendly alternative to synthetics.

It also helps you stay warm when it’s wet and it can be worn for longer in sweaty conditions without getting smelly which makes it ideal for work and tramping clothes.

Icebreaker has shown the way with casual clothing. Christina Perriam, is doing the same for fashion clothing. She features in the current NZ Life & Leisure, in which she says she’s:

. . . focused on relaunching her fashion label, creating key, affordable but beautiful pieces that New Zealand women will treasure and keep in their wardrobes for many years. And then there’s the New Zealand merino sleepwear range which caters for the growing need for organic, healthy, sustainable fibres to be worn next to the skin.

Both Icebreaker and the Christina Perriam range use merino. Finding uses and markets for crossbred wool is more problematic.

Wool carpet is great, but a lot of the world uses tiles rather than carpet.

Wool insulation has been round for a while but it isn’t making much headway against synthetic alternatives, although if my experience is anything to go by that’s not surprising.

Recently I asked about wool insulation at Wanaka’s Mitre 10. Once we’d got past a couple of minutes of crossed wires and established I was talking about wool not wall insulation, the shop assistant rummaged through the brochures on display, all of which were for synthetic materials. She then went in to an office and spoke with someone else who came out with a brochure and a couple of pages printed from a website about wool insulation.

I asked the price and how it compared with the cost of synthetic alternatives. The assistant consulted the woman in the office again and returned to tell me she’d never worked it out but thought wool would be a little bit more expensive, though it wouldn’t cost twice as much.

The producers of wool insulation are being very poorly served if the brochures for their products aren’t with the others and the sales people – or at least the two who were trying to help me – don’t know how the price compares with its synthetic competitors.

The idea of selling wool as an eco-friendly, natural, sustainable fibre pushes a lot of marketing buttons. But the Prince and his project have a lot of work to do if the products already available are marketed this poorly.

Hat Tip: Phil Clarke’s Business Blog.


Going to bed with wool

September 26, 2009

Coco Chanel is credited with saying that the only thing you should wear to bed is perfume.

That’s all very well on a warm Paris night. People in cooler climes might need a little more covering and AgResearch scientists have come up with something for them to wear which they reckon will make going to bed more enjoyable:

They’ve made a breakthrough in textiles which has resulted in a lightweight natural product which they say:

. . . has no chemical treatment, helps sleeping, maintains and regulates temperature and looks and feels fantastic.

“Easy Care Wool Sleepwear works in both summer and winter and we believe makes excellent nightwear and loungewear with its outstanding comfort properties,” said Dr Surinder Tandon, Senior Scientist, Textile Science & Technology.

The Sleepwear products targeted for the development include men’s and women’s nightwear and loungewear. These were developed using innovative combinations of merino wool and other natural fibres such as bamboo and silk, yarn structures, fabric weaves and knits, and finishing procedures.

The Easy Care bit is important because it’s not that long ago that wool was anything but. However, developments with merino by companies like Icebreaker which has brought us fashionable, itch-free, lightweight, machine washable clothes has helped wool products compete with synthetics.

AgResearch took their stab and fire resistant wool vest to the catwalk at Air New Zealand Fashion Week last year. It is going to invite well known designers to come up with garments made from Easy Care Wool in the hope they will be able to show them at next year’s fashion week.”

“They will look great, function well and be very comfortable,” said Dr Tandon.

The new sleepwear fabrics are being manufactured by South Canterbury Textiles, “This cutting edge textile is exciting from our point of view- it’s new, it’s got real advantages over other fabrics used for sleepwear and it creates opportunities for us once it is available,” said Andrew Miller CEO.

This sleepwear fabric development programme was supported by Textiles NZ under their industry scheme Transform, South Canterbury Textiles and Locus Research.

If this product can be commercially viable it will provide a much needed boost for the wool industry which has been faced with low prices for far too many years.

It will also provide something a bit warmer, and not necessarily any less alluring, for those who prefer to wear something a little more substantial than perfume in bed.


Where there’s wool . . .

April 6, 2009

We watched shearers taking the fleeces off sheep in amazement in Cumbria in amazement. It wasn’t so much wool as hair and it was going to be burned.

That would never happen in New Zealand, we said with just a touch of smugness, because when you don’t have subsidies you wouldn’t waste your energy and money on sheep with worthless fleeces.

But we spoke too soon. The ODT reports that when the costs of shearing came to more than the returns from wool Bruce Willis, chair of Federated Farmers Meat & Wool section, decided to farm sheep for meat only.

Merino is doing better, helped by quality products and niche marketing with brands like Icebreaker and Untouched World, but strong, or coarse as it is so prosaicly called – wool has gone backwards.

Much of the world covers their floors in tiles rather than carpets and research into alternative uses for the fibre has had mixed success.

There was hope that wool could be used to soak up oil spills but that doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. Wool insulation had a point of difference with consumers who prefer natural to synthetic fibres but isn’t widely used.

AgResearch’s stab and flame resistant wool fabric aroused interest at last year’s fashion week, but we need much more than that or a lot more farmers will be farming sheep for meat not fibre because where there’s wool there’s not much money.


Baa codes for Icebreaker

October 3, 2008

Icebreaker is asking the high country farmers who supply it with merino wool to tell their stories to customers.

Iconic merino clothing company Icebreaker has enlisted its back country wool suppliers to give its international customers an idea of what they are wearing.

Now selling in 24 countries, the Wellington-based company’s new range of garments include individual “baa-codes” which, when typed into the company’s website, take customers to where the wool originated from.

The website points out farm locations and includes comments or a video from the farmers about themselves or their operation.

I wear up to four layers of Icebreaker merino clothing in the depths of winter and found an Icebreaker tee shirt just as useful in the heat of a Spanish summer.

I don’t need a baa-code  to convince me how good it is. But I can understand what a great marketing tool it could be for those not already hooked on it because the stories from the merino growers and the country they live and work in will add to the charm of the clothes.


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