Rural round-up

July 3, 2014

Labour policy under fire from Hort NZ:

The Labour’s Party proposed immigration policy has come under fire from the horticulture sector which says it would make life more difficult for growers employing foreign workers.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock said if Labour’s new immigration policy was implemented it would penalise growers using the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

He said they would have to pay foreign workers more than local ones – and pay for their accommodation too.

“Those people (under the RSE scheme) are only brought in when we can prove that there are no New Zealanders to do the work, so we’re concerned it’s going to penalise people who are growing their businesses just because there are not New Zealanders available,” he said. . .

Lower dairy commodity prices and higher interest rates drive down farmer confidence:

Results at a Glance
• New Zealand farmer confidence dropped significantly, led down by a slide in dairy farmer confidence. Higher interest rates also tempering sentiment.
• Beef and sheep farmer confidence, however, rose to three-year high.
• Dairy producers concerned about falling commodity prices and the exchange rate, while sheep and beef farmers buoyed by improving prices.
• Investment intentions remain stable.
• 82 per cent of farmers consider that they are implementing best practices for environmental sustainability in their business.
• Only 50 per cent of farmers considering farm succession have formal plans in place. . . .

Sustainable farming protects economic skeleton:

Agriculture is not only the backbone of our economy, it is also its entire skeleton, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman David Peacocke told the Ballance Farm Environment Awards national sustainability showcase last week.

“To support our economy’s growth and our country’s growth, we need to look after those bones. That work starts with us as farmers on the land, but it also needs good working partnerships with regional councils and with local and central government so we can increase productivity and profitability and still safeguard our agricultural future.” . . .

New Meat & Fibre Executive:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Executive have elected their new Chairperson, Rick Powdrell, and consequently elected to the Federation’s Board.

“It is with great pleasure that I hand over the reigns to Rick Powdrell, who has been my vice-Chair for the past year. I would also like to congratulate Sandra Faulkner, as the new vice-Chairperson, the re-election of Chris Irons, and to our two new executive members, Michael Salvesen and Miles Anderson.” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers outgoing Meat & Fibre Chairperson.

“The new Meat & Fibre Executive have all been active members of the Federation’s Meat & Fibre Council, and I would like to congratulate them all on their well deserved appointments,” said Mrs Maxwell. . . .

Federated Farmers Dairy elects new executive:

It’s goodbye from him and hello from me

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Group has elected Fielding farmer Andrew Hoggard as its new chairperson. The Federation’s dairy council also elected Waikato’s Chris Lewis to be one of two vice-chairpersons, joining Kevin Robinson who was reconfirmed in that role.

“I am stoked dairy farmers have placed their faith in me,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers new Dairy chairperson.

“Willy has been a great leader and it is comforting to know he’s just at the end of the telephone.

“The challenges and arguments about dairy have grabbed the headlines but this has masked many of the good things dairy farmers are doing. . .

July marks final countdown for cattle in NAIT transition:

Farmers have one year left to make sure all cattle are tagged and registered with NAIT.

“We are entering the final 12 months of NAIT’s three-year transition for cattle. By 1 July 2015, all stock should be tagged and registered in the NAIT database,” said Dan Schofield, Acting NAIT and Farm Operations Manager.

This includes cattle that were born before the NAIT scheme became mandatory on 1 July 2012. Cattle born since July 2012 must be tagged within six months of birth, or before they are moved off farm, whichever comes first. . . .

Safety And Quality First for Forestry – Changes announced for national forestry training qualifications:

A review of qualifications for forestry workers led by industry training organisation Competenz has resulted in new qualifications being developed with an increased focus on health and safety, and environmental protection and quality.

The New Zealand Certificates, to be launched later this year, will give more weight to essential knowledge like health and safety and quality. They also increase the focus on supervisory and crew management skills.

Competenz’s newly appointed national manager, Mark Preece, says the organisation has closely collaborated with contractors, workers, forest owners, trainers and assessors throughout the country to develop the new qualifications. . . .

New Zealand’s Multi- Million Dollar Bee Industry Moving Towards One Body:

The country’s bee industry could soon be represented by one body, following a mandate given at the NZ Apiculture Industry conference last week.

“I recognised a clear indication from the both the floor at the conference and the AGM for the NBA to explore the value in uniting with other industry stakeholders in the formation of a single representative industry body,” says NBA President Ricki Leahy.

“For us to get results it is important that all the different categories within the industry such as commercial beekeepers, hobbyists, exporters, packers, and researchers and others, speak with one, united, clear voice, and that we are all on the same page when talking to government.”

Meanwhile Federated Farmers Bees agrees. . .


Rural round-up

July 2, 2014

Amazing claptrap over wind thrown trees:

Federated Farmers West Coast is staggered by the rhetoric on the Wind Thrown Trees Bill, passed under urgency last night, which allows for the recovery and use of native timber felled in Cyclone Ita.

“Being a Coaster, recycling dead trees into jobs will be good for us all,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president. 

“We’ll be able to salvage something from Ita’s natural calamity being jobs if not new businesses.  That’s something Federated Farmers supports.

“Even if some guys come in from outside the Coast, they have to stay somewhere and they have to be fed and watered too.  They will also need to have their equipment serviced so we’re more open-minded.  . .

Meat & Fibre – Climbing to the top:

Speech by Jeanette Maxwell Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, to Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Council at Federated Farmers AGM, Palmerston North

It is my pleasure to welcome you here to my last Meat & Fibre AGM as your chair.

Since our last AGM, in Ashburton last year, there has been some significant engagement within the industry and amongst our Meat & Fibre Council. . .

Launch of Wool Levy Farmer Consultation:

The Wool Levy Referendum Wool Grower Consultation was officially launched at Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre AGM today, in an effort to add value to the industry.

“Wool should be our first choice, it is the fibre of the future and this referendum’s is the industry’s chance to make a difference to its future,” says Sandra Faulkner, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Executive and Wool Levy Group Chairperson.

“Sheep is not a one dimensional animal, it is dual purpose but the value of wool is not recognised here or overseas, and as a result we are underselling ourselves in the market. New Zealand is the world’s third largest wool producer supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool. With 30 industry bodies in New Zealand, wool is the only primary sector that isn’t represented. . .

Farmers get into the Port business:

Three years after welcoming the formation of Kotahi, the joint freight logistics of Fonterra Cooperative Group and Silver Fern Farms, Federated Farmers South Canterbury is excited that the Port of Timaru will play a leading role in exporting South Island product to the world.

“Since Kotahi translates as standing together as one Federated Farmers is excited about what this means for South Canterbury’s development as a major South Island’s logistics hub,” says Ivon Hurst, Federated Farmers South Canterbury provincial president.

“News that Kotahi is to hub out of Timaru is great. News that Kotahi has taken a half-share in the Port of Tauranga owned container terminal operating assets at PrimePort is fantastic. . .

Top Chefs Do Amazing Things with Vegetables

The winners of the New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge 2014, a national competition celebrating the very best of fresh New Zealand vegetables were announced today.

Auckland’s The Riverhead’s demi-chef, Subhashini Sathanantham won the Breakfast category with her inspired dish of golden kumara and red beetroot tart, quail eggs, cauliflower sausage, potato toast, garlic-infused vine tomatoes, buttered spinach and pumpkin hollandaise.

Subhashini said that the win had given her a huge step up in her career and she was thrilled her passion for vegetables had caught the judges’ attention. . .

Seed Company Gains Organic Certification:

A Bay of Plenty business has just become New Zealand’s Largest Organically Certified Mail Order Seed Company. Kings Seeds have always lead the way when it comes to supplying gardeners the best range of seeds online and via their popular catalogue. After an extensive certification process overseen by BioGro NZ, the Kings Seeds team is proud to announce their status as having New Zealand’s largest range of Organically Certified seed.

Gerard Martin, Owner, Kings Seeds, says; “We’ve only ever supplied internationally certified organic seeds so it just made sense to formalise this by applying for New Zealand accreditation. For us, it reinforces our commitment to provide New Zealand gardeners with the most extensive range of organic seeds. A big thanks to the BioGro NZ team who did a thorough job of scrutinizing our business to ensure that we met their strict criteria. We’re extremely proud to have come through the process with flying colours.” . . .

Anglers appalled at Labour’s recreational fishing ideas:

Anglers are appalled at the policy and ideas being advocated by Labour’s candidate for Kaikoura, Janette Walker, and the support she has gained from Gareth Morgan, the Green benefactor who has ideas of aerially poisoning Stewart Island with 1080 and caging the family cat.

Alan Simmons, Outdoors spokeperson for United Future and an active angler was gob smacked when he read of her ideas presented to a meeting of Marlborough Recreational Fishers last week and then championed by Gareth Morgan as politician of the week.

Labour’s Ideas of licensing and charging all anglers and using the funds to buy quota from the commercial fishing industry will infuriate recreational anglers.  Furthermore Janette Walker and Labour are talking about reducing recreational catches as commercial demand increases forcing anglers to buy back their rights to their fish. . . .

Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale Catalogue Available Now:

Catalogues for New Zealand Bloodstock’s Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale on Friday 1 August are in the post and available to be viewed online now.

A selection of 97 broodmares account for the majority of this year’s catalogue which also features five yearlings, six two-year-olds, seven unraced stock and 14 racehorses.

Prolific broodmare sire Zabeel has three mares featuring in the Sale, the recently retired Cambridge Stud stalwart is the dam sire of 24 Group 1 winners to date. Also with three mares in the Sale is fellow super sire Danehill, the dam sire of 51 Group 1 winners worldwide. . . .


Rural round-up

June 22, 2014

In the rush to all things digital, are we missing a biological trick? – sticK:

New Zealand is missing a trick when it comes to the startup weekend, incubator, accelerator programme ecosystem that’s got lots of attention lately.

And sure, I can appreciate how the digital side of things is extremely quick at developing and validating a business through processes such as Lightning Lab.

Where I wonder if we’re underplaying to one of our strengths, is in the biology/technology economy (the analogue economy perhaps?).

What would be the new research and commercialisation projects if we had fired up scientists, engineers, manufacturers,  hands-on finance and distribution people, digital experts and some other odd and even people hothoused in a similar way to the incubator models? . . .

Cracking sheep source code vindicates grower support:

AgResearch’s internationally led mapping of the sheep genome is not just an unprecedented opportunity for New Zealand, but vindicates growers backing the creation of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

“With the loss of lowland pasture Federated Farmers is keen to see sheep bred with traits to thrive in hill and high country farms. Mapping the sheep genome is a crucial breakthrough,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We back the sheep industry to grow and genetic mapping will be of immense benefit to wool should farmers approve a proposed levy vote later in the year.

“We think it was said best at the KPMG Agribusiness Leader’s Breakfast at Fieldays, one megatrend could be beef, lamb and wool as high value luxury consumer goods. . . .

Electric farm bike under development:

Developers of an electric farm bike are hoping to put their idea into production over the next year.

Anthony Clyde and Darryl Neal’s Ranger-two wheel drive Lightweight Electric Farm Bike won two innovation awards at the Agricultural Fieldays.

Darryl Neal said the bike had been on the drawing board for about three years, but it was a rush to get a prototype built to display at the fieldays.

He said the concept grew from people who wanted to use bicycles on farms. . .

Prices and Sales Volume Lifting in Strong May Market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 52 more farm sales (+10.2%) for the three months ended May 2014 than for the three months ended May 2013. Overall, there were 564 farm sales in the three months to end of May 2014, compared to 498 farm sales for the three months ended April 2014 (+13.3%). 1,881 farms were sold in the year to May 2014, 26.2% more than were sold in the year to May 2013.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2014 was $25,018 compared to $20,499 recorded for three months ended May 2013 (+22.0%). The median price per hectare rose 1.8% compared to April. . . .

Dead heat for farmers and dentists on ‘most trusted professions’ list:

Farmers are tied with dentists as New Zealand’s fourteenth most trusted profession in Readers Digest New Zealand’s Most Trusted Professions 2014.

“It is gratifying to see farmers held in such respect by this Reader’s Digest survey,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and 2014 Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year.

“It is telling the company you keep. Being well within the top 20 means farmers are there with the professions that defend you and your animals, the people who feed you, the people who educate and the people who literally move you.

“Like any profession we have our share of ratbags but this survey demonstrates that most New Zealanders know farmers are hard working decent folk who genuinely try our hardest. . . .

Australia still owns the farm -

DESPITE an increase in farmland owned by businesses with some level of foreign investment, Australia’s farms and farm businesses remain largely Australian-owned.

Figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in its 2013 Agricultural Land and Water Ownership survey (ALWOS) show just under 99 per cent of Australian farm businesses are fully Australian-owned and just under 90pc of farmland is fully Australian owned.

Bruce Hockman from the ABS said the survey also confirmed that large businesses continue to account for the majority of foreign owned farmland, with less than 50 businesses accounting for 95pc of the total area of foreign owned farmland in Australia. . . .


Patrick George Morrison CMG – 25.4.31 – 26.5.14

June 1, 2014

One of Country Calendar’s early programmes was screening when we got to the Darfield Recreation Centre for Pat Morrison’s funeral on Friday.

He was a young man when it was filmed, about 50 years ago, but the programme showed Pat had already achieved a lot in and for farming and the community.

He continued to do even more.

Tributes could only touch on all he had done and done so well.

However, you could have walked in to the service not knowing him, and come out with a deep appreciation of him as a farmer, farming leader, community stalwart, family man and friend.

Tim Cronshaw writes:

Retired Darfield farmer Pat Morrison will be remembered for his relentless energy as the founding chairman driving out the Central Plains Water (CPW) irrigation scheme.

The farmer, irrigation champion and big business director died this week in his early 80s.

In a ceremony last month marking the first turn of the sod by Prime Minister John Key, Morrison confided that, along with others, he had spent as many as 800 days working on the scheme.

Longtime friend Fred Bull said if the truth was known, he’d probably devoted more of his time.

“It would be 800 full days because there was a lot of weeks he was in Christchurch for a day or two and I don’t think it would be there without his tenacity.”

During a long farming history Morrison was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and AC Cameron Medal and recognised for his services to farming in the honours list in the 1990s.

His commitment to public duty began as secretary of the local cricket club in 1951 and more than 60 years later he was still an active director on the CPW board, resigning as chairman after nine years in 2012.

He served with Federated Farmers, the Young Farmers Club and Malvern A & P Association and was a director of the BNZ bank. He took on the hard jobs as chairman of the New Zealand Wool Board and New Zealand Wool Services International and was a chief opponent of a proposal to put a landfill in the Malvern Hills.

Morrison had the mix of business and farming skills and connections through the industry to make him the perfect choice to lead Central Plains Water, said board member and Buddle Findlay partner Willy Palmer.

“He was respected by everyone and gave everything to any cause he pursued and did it with style and with a great sense of humour. … I don’t believe anyone else had the necessary skills to take Central Plains from a start-up company to where it got to when he resigned as chairman.” . . .

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairwoman Jeanette Maxwell said Morrison was respected by farmers for his work with Canterbury irrigation and before that with the wool industry.

“Back when I was a little girl he did a lot of work in the wool industry. He was a strong rural man and passionate about his industry. Along the way he provided strong leadership and would really drive to get things achieved.” . . .

He was a good man who gave far more than he got. His sudden death has left a big hole in his family, farming, the community and New Zealand.


Rural round-up

May 22, 2014

Dambusters must not damn Hawke’s Bay’s future:

The draft report from the Tukituki Board of Inquiry is a poor outcome for the entire Hawke’s Bay community, not just farmers.

“The recent Board of Inquiry draft report won’t be a good outcome for Hawke’s Bay if it ends up blocking the single largest environmental and economic opportunity we’ve got from progressing,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“We mustn’t kid ourselves that Ngai Tahu’s polite wording in its withdrawal, simply reflects the kicking Ruataniwha got in the draft decision. 

“They are a big loss but Ngai Tahu is also one very smart farmer.  If it can see the scheme is a financial goer then I am certain they’ll be back, as will other investors. . .

Recovery from Psa and record returns drive rebound of orchard values:

New Zealand kiwifruit growers have received the highest-ever average per-hectare return for supplying Zespri Green Kiwifruit, Zespri’s 2013/14 annual results show.

While the return to the individual grower is influenced by factors such as orchard yield, costs and fruit characteristics, the average $42,659 per-hectare Green return underlined confidence in the industry’s future, Zespri chairman Peter McBride said.

“After the impact of Psa over the past three years, there is a real sense of optimism in the industry now. Orchard prices have rebounded, investment has started again and the future looks bright,” Mr McBride said. . . .

Federated Farmers backs wool levy vote:

Federated Farmers welcomes the opportunity wool growers will have to vote on whether to reinstate a levy on wool.  It urges its members to engage in the process to come, to talk with the Wool Levy Group we’ll help to set up meetings with and above all, to vote.

“Wool has been the quiet export achiever worth $700 million to New Zealand in 2013,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“At that level, it easily eclipsed the exports of personal, cultural, and recreational services, which, by the way, includes motion pictures.

“We are here now because the pan sector Wool Levy Group has learned from history. It is defining what the levy will fund and do but boy, do we need to crack some industry good issues that are holding wool back. . .

$33,000 sale ‘amazing highlight’ for family – Sally Rae:

Selling a bull for $33,000 at the national Hereford sale at AgInnovation was an ”amazing highlight” for the Paterson family from Greenvale, near Gore.

Waikaka Skytower 1289 was bought by Peter Reeves, from Mokairau Station at Gisborne – the third-highest-priced Hereford bull at the sale.

The Paterson family, from Waikaka Station, have been breeding Herefords since 1954 and it was the highest price they have achieved. . .

Student ‘gets his name out there’ – Sally Rae:

It may have been his debut at the Hereford national show and sale – but young Middlemarch breeder Will Gibson made his mark.

His bull Foulden Hill McCoy was third in the Honda Motorcycles Impact Sires led class and went on to sell for $9000 to Nelson Hereford stud Lake Station.

Mr Gibson (20), a third-year student at Lincoln University studying agricultural commerce, also received the Hereford herdsman award. . . .

The simple answer to MPI milk chilling regulations:

There are very few dairy farmers who will not be affected by the new MPI milk chilling regulations. An innovation first revealed at Central Districts Field Days promises to be the simple solution, with some added advantages. And it’s already creating a flurry of interest in the industry.

Matt Parkinson and Dale Stone are already well known in the dairy and refrigeration industries and Snapchill is their answer to the issues that the MPI’s regulations will create.

Snapchill is a milk chilling solution aimed at the 75% of New Zealand farmers who have herds if between 300 and 600 cows. The unit can typically be fitted in a day or two and does not require a power upgrade to the farm supply. It sits between farmers’ existing pre-chillers and the bulk milk vat and works by creating ice during off-peak times when power is cheaper. As it does so, it recovers heat – enough to make a tank full of water at around 82° for the plant wash. . . .


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

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

February 15, 2014

Blind cows find love:

Two blind, aging cows were 350 miles apart, distressed and facing a dark future.

What happened next is a love story starring, not cows, but rescuers who worked across international borders for nearly a month to bring the bovines together.

It started when Sweety, an 8-year-old Canadian cow with a hoof infection, was rescued from the slaughterhouse by a horse sanctuary in Ontario. Workers at Refuge RR put out the word to the small legion of folks devoted to saving aging farm animals that she needed a permanent home.

Farm Sanctuary in New York is just such a place and they had a 12-year-old Holstein named Tricia, who seemed lonely and anxious after losing her cow companion to cancer a year ago. Cattle are herd animals and she was the only one at the shelter without a partner. . .

Synlait Milk commits to state of the art full service laboratory:

Synlait Milk has committed to building a state of the art full service quality testing laboratory to further support its position as a supplier of high quality value added ingredients, and infant formula and nutritional products.

The Company’s quality strategy has been to build in-house capabilities to support the testing requirements for the products it produces, however it has now significantly expanded the scope of the proposed laboratory from chemical and physical property testing to include full microbiological testing using the latest technologies.

In addition to the quality testing function there will now also be integrated facilities to support new product development, including the ability to conduct pilot scale trials, as well as allowing for sensory analysis to ensure the needs of the Company’s customers are met. . .

Farm toll on the decline:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that on farm deaths are on the decline, with both WorkSafe NZ and ACC statistics showing a declining trend in fatalities since 2008.

“We are seeing some positive results from industry efforts with WorkSafe statistics, released to us yesterday, showing that on farm fatalities for the Christmas New Year period have declined from four in 2010 to just one in 2014,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety Spokesperson.

“Coinciding with that, ACC’s statistics, on annual farm fatalities, show a 17.5 percent reduction (decline of 32) in deaths since 2008. We have also seen growth in farmers using Health and Safety plans on farm with a 48 percent increase in purchases of our Occupational Health & Safety Policy, and a 13.5 percent increase in purchases of our Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy, since 2012. . .

Environmental champions sought:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced that entries are open for the Government’s premier environmental awards, which honour those dedicated to protecting and improving our environment.

The Green Ribbon Awards recognise outstanding contributions by individuals, organisations or businesses to addressing New Zealand’s environmental problems.

“There are so many people, communities and businesses who work hard to improve our environment in their own quiet way, but it is often without thanks,” Ms Adams says.

“The awards are a fitting occasion to show the human face of environmental issues, and promote the fantastic work that is happening in our communities.

Upskilling for horticulture workers:

A training scheme for horticultural workers in Hawke’s Bay has led to permanent jobs for some people who were relying on seasonal work and the dole.

The scheme, which began last year, is a partnership between grower John Bostock, the Eastern Institute of Technology, Work & Income and community groups.

Ten students from the first course graduated on Wednesday at Te Aranga Marae near Hastings.

Mr Bostock heads a group of companies that grow, pack and market squash, onions, grain, organic apples and ice cream. . . 

Agrantec Launches Farmango Animal Management for Sheep:

Agrantec, the British agri-food supply chain management service company, today announced the launch of a version of its animal management system, Farmango, for sheep.

Farmango offers a full range of animal management functions. This covers everything from recording the full genetic history through multiple generations to recording sales information when the sheep are eventually sold on. The service offers two specific new functions designed for the management of sheep.

One is the system capability to manage groups of animals. Groups can be defined using a scanning “wand” to collect a list of individuals. Data can be directly connected as the wand is being used out and about on the farm. There is no need to return to the farmhouse to upload information onto a computer. This makes it quick and easy to record things such as treatments and movements. The second function is a direct automatic link to the ARAMS movement reporting system. Movements can be reported with few clicks of the mouse. . .

Hamilton’s manuka honey producers SummerGlow Apiaries sets up base in Taranaki region:

A LARGE quantity of quality manuka plants and an ideal landscape to produce pure manuka honey are the reasons why Te Kowhai-based SummerGlow Apiaries has decided to expand its operation into the Taranaki region.

SummerGlow Apiaries owners Bill and Margaret Bennett have recently purchased 900 acres of marginal farmland in the area, says company director, beekeeper and office administrator James Jeffery.

“We haven’t had a lot of experience with [the Taranaki manuka] yet given that it’s only our first season down there but the quality, density and amount of it is amazing,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

January 13, 2014

Inside this hut you see the sky – Sally Rae:

Remote Dansey Pass boasts a hut with all the home comforts. Not only does it have the kitchen sink, it also has the ultimate in hut luxury – a flat-screen television, as Sally Rae reports.

An entry in the visitor’s book says it all.

”Headed back to hut to watch rugby on the new edition. As Neville would say, she’s a bit flash Harry now.”

For as Dansey Pass farmer and prominent dog triallist Neville Hore says, his hut on 4046ha Mt Alexander Station is ”not the ordinary bloody musterers’ hut”.

Not that there is any sibling rivalry, but he did point out that while his big brother Jim’s flash hut over at Stonehenge, in the Maniototo, might boast a double bed, it did not have television. . .

Paper highlights foreign threat to meat industry – Hugh Stringleman:

Another year and another report on the problems of the meat industry.

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre section has published an options paper by its policy adviser Sarah Crofoot, after circulating it among members and seeking responses.

Section chairwoman Jeanette Maxwell said it was a “pick and mix” of solutions to the complex problems facing the industry.

She wanted to build federation policy by hearing from the members on one of the biggest issues facing New Zealand agriculture. . .

Fonterra’s ‘bigger than this’ - Gerald Piddock Stacey Kirk and Laura Walters:

Court proceedings brought by French food giant Danone were unlikely to cause long-term reputational damage to Fonterra or affect dairy commodity prices, experts say.

Danone has cancelled its supply contract with Fonterra and is launching legal action against the New Zealand dairy co-operative in a bid to win compensation for $492 million of losses incurred last year and reputational damage.

The moves follow a scare in August when Fonterra issued a milk powder contamination warning that later tests found was a false alert. University of Auckland head of marketing, Rod Brodie, said whether Fonterra suffered any long-term reputational damage as a result of the court action would depend on the way the company handled the proceedings. 

“While it will be expensive for Fonterra perhaps in court with litigation, in terms of its end markets I think Fonterra’s bigger than this.” . . .

Changing 30 years of habits to go organic a challenge – Helena de Reus:

Throughout Otago, people with a love of food and fresh produce are turning out amazing products. For some it is just a hobby; for others it has turned into their livelihood. Helena de Reus reports.

A wish to produce nutritious food for people led to the decision of a lifetime for farmer Graham Clarke.

He has farmed near the small South Otago township of Waipahi since 1983, and owns the 1000ha Marama Organic Farm with his partner, Giselle McLachlan, and his brother, Ian.

The sheep farm has been organic for the past eight years, after Mr Clarke heard a talk by a biological farming advocate, and decided the benefits outweighed the challenges. . .

Young adviser challenges farmers:

Sarah Crofoot researched and wrote the meat industry options paper for Federated Farmers quickly after starting employment as a meat, fibre and environment policy adviser last September.

By mid-November her paper was circulated to members of the Feds Meat and Fibre council and it was discussed in a closed session later that month.

The paper has been available to Federated Farmers members since mid-December and an electronic survey of responses conducted.

Crofoot wanted the paper to inform debate about the most important questions facing the New Zealand meat industry and have members help shape the federation policy on industry reform. . .

Scotland’s first bee reserve:

The future of Scotland’s native black bee is looking much brighter

 January 2014: The UK’s first honey bee reserve has been created in Scotland. From 1 January 2014 it has become an offence to keep any other species of honey bee on the Hebridean islands of Colonsay and Oronsay apart from the black bee (Apis mellifera  mellifera).

The black bee is thought to be the only native honey bee in Scotland and the new legislation is designed to protect the species from cross-breeding and disease. . .


Rural round-up

January 11, 2014

Inquiry after routine spray ruins vines:

The head of a chemical manufacturing giant has launched an investigation after winegrowers had their vines virtually destroyed after a routine insecticide spray went horribly wrong.

North Canterbury winegrowers Brent Knight and Trevor Bunting claim that a common moth insecticide used on the vines in early December last year had been mislabelled by Dow AgroSciences.

They say their vines have been devastated by the compound, which was sprayed over their vineyards.

The managing director of Dow AgroSciences says the company is investigating, but has not admitted liability. Pete Dryden says it is working with the growers to establish what happened, but would make no further comment. . . .

Federated Farmers’ options for red meat reform:

Federated Farmers has publicly released its discussion paper on major options for reforming New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat export industry. 

“The OECD-FAO expects world meat exports to increase by 19 percent by 2022, so the need for reform has never been clearer,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“The OECD-FAO said last year that meat prices will remain high in real terms over the next decade.  This was due to changing market fundamentals of slower production growth and stronger demand and represents the opportunity we have.

“What New Zealanders need to understand is that red meat could be so much more.  If it was a schoolchild then it would be the C+ pupil. The one with massive potential but has issues with concentration and does not play well with others. . .

Why I’m not an ‘agvocate” – Modern Milkmaid:

Advocating for agriculture is a worthwhile goal, no doubt. But who knows what being an agvocate means? Other agvocates. Your typical non farmer thinks you just spelt advocate wrong. The label serves only to identify yourself to others in the industry, most often those who farm the same way you do.

Lately, I’ve become frustrated and disillusioned with where I see agvocacy heading, primarily on twitter. Calling consumers ignorant, stupid, uneducated, brain dead, or scientifically illiterate for not understanding the industry is common. For many farmers, it’s the only life they’ve known. It makes it easy to forget that not everyone lives and breathes agriculture and food issues on a daily basis! I’ve lived both sides, and remember how difficult it was to cut through all the “facts” and “evidence”. We’re experts in our own field, but do you know every facet of the oil or aviation or whatever industries?! . . .

Vice getting prepped to be president – Abby Brown:

Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills, who will stand down in July, says it is normal for the vice president to take over as national president.

“Dr William Rolleston is working to replace me,” Wills said.

All the board members expressed confidence in Rolleston. . . .

 Calendar showcases women in agriculture - Jaclyn Pidwerbesky;

The Women in Ag calendar initiative was founded by three women proud to be members of the agriculture business community and even prouder to be Saskatchewan farmers.  Our mission is to raise awareness within the ag industry by showcasing smart and talented women of all ages, backgrounds and professions, and to contribute to a cause that advances the presence of agriculture in Saskatchewan.

Thus, the 2014 Women in Ag calendar was born.  Women from many different careers are involved in this project. The calendar has been designed to display and represent these women in their everyday work environment.  Our goal is to create a platform for women to promote each other, work together, and network. . .

South Island Farmer of the Year Winner’s Field day:

One of New Zealand’s most successful primary producers will share their ideas, learning and innovation at the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year winner’s field day next month.

Peter Yealands, of Yealands Wine Group, won the prestigious title for the 2013 season and will host the field day at the Yealands Estate Winery near Seddon, Marlborough, on Thursday 13 February.

Lincoln University Foundation Chairman Ben Todhunter says the informative programme planned for the field day will have practical relevance for farmers and other producers across the primary industries. . .

The Best Farmers’ Market in Munster - John Daly:

According to a survey conducted by Bord Bia earlier in 2013, 68% of Irish people admitted buying local products to support the economy, even if they sometimes cost more. Many small food and drink producers began life at farmers’ markets, and the effect of such direct, weekly contact with the public has provided an important stepping stone to many a fledgling start-up.

Farmers’ markets allow producers to develop a loyal customer base in their community, gather valuable feedback and suggestions for new products, as well as a vital source of regular cashflow. Farmers’ markets have experienced substantial growth in recent years, from less than 100 in 2006 to well over double that number today. Recognising the importance of neighbourhood markets to the general economy as well as encouraging local enterprise, a voluntary Good Practice Standard for Farmers’ Markets was launched in 2009. . .


Rural round-up

December 30, 2013

Irrigation holds key to future farming viability – Tim Crighton:

Water issues polarise people, not just in Canterbury but throughout the country. The debate is inextricably entwined with water quality and the link to dairy farming and irrigation.

New Zealand relies on the agricultural sector to provide economic success.  And in turn the sector relies on effective irrigation techniques and investment to increase land productivity, which also enhances capital value.

Dairy farming is the highest and best use of land within larger irrigation schemes but there have been periods when intensive arable land use has competed strongly on economic terms. . .

TracMap signs agreement to improve tomato harvest efficiency:

TracMap has further extended its market reach by signing a supply agreement with Kagome Foods, the largest tomato grower in Australia.

Kagome, part of the Japanese group of the same name, grows a range of process vegetables, with tomatoes being its main crop in Australia. They will use the TracMap systems to improve harvest efficiency and reduce risk of quality errors.

GM of Field Operations Jason Fritsch is excited by the TracMap technology. “We have 11 harvesters operating 24 hours a day a for over 2 months, so it’s fairly full on over this period”, said Jason. “With 2100 hectares of crop spread over a 150km range, logistics is a big issue for us, and the TracMap system solves most of those issues.” . . .

2014 will be ‘massive’ for New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat industry:

Federated Farmers members are currently mulling its options for how to best reform New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat industry.

“As red-meat industry revenues are worth around 35 Avatar movies each year and generates some 80 times the annual revenue of Xero, you can say its future is fairly important to every Kiwi,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“2014 promises to be a massive year for the red meat industry and for wool too. Just before Christmas, we got the great news that Wellington-based The Formary’s breakthrough mid-micron/rice straw fabric is moving into commercial production. . .

ECan’s Land & Water Regional Plan sets Federated Farmers to work:

Federated Farmers three Canterbury provinces are fully committed to doing their bit for the community and for farmers in the management of our most precious resource.

“As people head to the summer barbecues no doubt water quality will feature as part of the discussion, “says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury provincial president.

“The recent Lincoln perceptions survey shows we’ve got a wee way to go before public perceptions of what food producers do catches up with reality. . .

Artistic Vistas :

For 10 years North Canterbury’s Art in a Garden has been drawing crowds of about 2000 people to view work by some of this country’s leading artists.

The three-and-a-half day event is held at the Zino family’s Flaxmere Gardens, situated on river bed terraces of the Waitohi River at Hawarden, North Canterbury. Art in the Garden is regarded as one of the top events of its kind in New Zealand. It is an art exhibition in a garden that has been awarded the title A Garden of National Significance by The New Zealand Garden Trust.

These extensive and stunning gardens, covering 4ha, have been lovingly created and tended by Penny Zino. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 20, 2013

Red meat is worth 35 annual Avatars and could be much more:

Federated Farmers has started consultation among its membership covering reform of New Zealand’s $6 billion Red Meat industry.  The red-meat industry is currently worth around 35 annual Avatar movies to the New Zealand economy.

“Given Avatar Director James Cameron is also a Wairarapa farmer, reform of New Zealand’s red meat industry represents our economic blockbuster if we can pull it off,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“From the number of calls I have already received, I know both the media and our meat processors are very keen to see a copy of our paper. . .

Feds’ members only meat report:

FEDERATED FARMERS has put “three broad options” to its members on meat industry reform in a paper to be publicly released in the New Year.

Meat & Fibre section national chair Jeanette Maxwell says the solutions within the options are “more like a pick a mix” and suggests the processor focussed option will generate much discussion.
“There is a push by some in the industry to merge the cooperatives, something that’s much easier said than done. If the thinking is ‘just copy Fonterra’ then it will not succeed. To work, any merger needs a reassessment of the entire industry but especially its capital structures.” . . .

Alliance group’s Blue Sky Meat takeover talks fail – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) Meat co-operative Alliance Group’s talks about a potential takeover of rival South Island processor Blue Sky Meats have ended when Blue Sky withdrew after a failure to agree on key terms.

Blue Sky withdrew from the “respectful and amicable” talks early this month after being approached by Alliance a couple of months ago, Blue Sky chairman Graham Cooney said.

Both processing companies were based in Invercargill.

The farmer-led Meat Industry Excellence group had this year been pushing for closer integration of meat companies in an attempt to improve efficiency and boost profits.  . .

Farmers’ dairying halt boosts river -

Dairy farmers are adapting to the massive pressures of farming under the close scrutiny of the public eye, but one farmer on the outskirts of Palmerston township in East Otago has more at stake than most.

For a start, Alan and Iain Ford’s 100ha Glenlurgan dairy farm on fertile river terraces is neatly split in two by the Shag River.

To complicate matters further, the townships of Palmerston, Dunback and Goodwood all draw their water from a pumping station intake at the lower end of the farm. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

Christmas comes early for Westland dairy farmers:

Federated Farmers is thrilled about the latest announcement from Westland Milk Products regarding their milk pay-out forecast of $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids.

“Dairy farmers have had Christmas early this year with this pay-out announcement,” says Richard Reynolds, Federated Farmers West Coast Dairy chair.

“This is a huge difference from last years pay-out and I know a lot of dairy farmers on the West Coast will be ecstatic at this announcement. . .

Taranaki provincial president hands over the reins:

Federated Farmers is saddened to lose its Taranaki provincial president, Harvey Leach, following his resignation this week.

“Harvey has been a huge influence and a game changer in the Taranaki region, and we will all be sad to see him go,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The role of provincial president is voluntary and takes a lot of time and dedication.Our provincial presidents do a lot of great work that does not get a lot of coverage, but Harvey has always been one of life’s true gentlemen. He will be missed but he leaves his province in great shape. . .

Bloodstock – setting up to succeed:

The New Zealand’s bloodstock sector is more than just an agribusiness niche and is attracting renewed interest from investors, says Geoff Roan, Senior Manager, Bloodstock, for Crowe Horwath.

While sometimes seen as a high risk investment, if structured correctly and professionally managed as a business, the bloodstock sector can be both profitable and fun, says Mr Roan.

The bloodstock sector was valued at $1.6 bn in NZ by New Zealand Racing Board in 2010, which compares favourably with viticulture ($1.5 bn) and aquaculture ($1.7 bn).

Contribution to GDP $1.64 billion $1.5 billion $1.7 billion Direct employment impact FTE $8,877 $5,940 $10,520 Total employment impact FTE $17,000 $16,500 $26,600 . . .

2013 Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc textural and bursting with flavour:

Waipara Hills release their 2013 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, just in time for what is predicted to be a hot summer. The new release Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect partner on a balmy summer evening, with its fresh flavours of guava, melon, nettles and flint that flow from the nose into the mouth.

Waipara Hills Winemaker, Simon McGeorge, is really looking forward to showing off the 2013 Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc in the coming year. “I love the rich burst of fruit on the first sip, but it’s the texture and structure that I think are exciting. A grapefruit pith character, along with a nice rich mid-palate, gives this wine vibrancy and complexity which I believe will really have broad appeal.” Simon said. . .


Rural round-up

December 17, 2013

Canterbury suffers another blow:

Farmers are reeling from yet another blow, after a severe localised hail storm tore its way through the Mayfield area of Mid-Canterbury.

“As the year draws to a close and we are fast approaching harvesting season, Mid-Canterbury farmers are facing a financial nightmare after the hail storm yesterday,” says David Clark, Mid-Canterbury Grain and Seed Chairperson.

“This has been a mongrel year for farmers in Mid-Canterbury; we have gone from snow to wind storms to a very dry spring to now this. It is a horrible way to finish off the year, with radish and carrot crops shredded and wheat and barley crops having the stuffing knocked out of them. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

UK butter eaters lose taste for Anchor after dairy giant cuts NZ ties – Nicholas Jones:

British shoppers have noticed that their favourite Anchor butter tastes different – with the explanation being it’s no longer from New Zealand.

In Britain, the famous Kiwi brand is used by European dairy company Arla. Until recently, Arla had shipped over New Zealand butter made by Fonterra, but has now switched production to its British facilities.

The Arla logo has been added to block butter packs, but the company has faced a number of complaints from disgruntled customers who were unaware of the change. . .

How much dairying is too much in terms of water quality? – Daniel Collins:

On 21 November the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released her second report on water quality. It warned that business-as-usual dairy expansion by 2020 would leave our lakes and rivers more degraded than they are now, even with improved mitigation. I’d now like to re-cap what the report concluded, how it got there, and how it was received.

The report

The purpose of the report was to illustrate how land use change could affect future nutrient runoff – nitrogen and phosphorus – based on a simple, business-as-usual scenario for 2020.

Motu used a combined economics-land use model called LURNZ to project what land use changes are likely by 2020, driven by commodity process and knowledge of land use practices and landscape characteristics. Sheep and beef farming were expected to give way to dairying, forestry, and even reversion to shrubland. . .

Director elections mean an exciting Red Meat Industry:

Federated Farmers looks forward to working with the Boards of the cooperatively owned Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group following their recent Director elections.

“Federated Farmers congratulates the new directors elected to our two largest cooperatives, Don Morrison at Alliance Group as well as Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake at Silver Fern Farms,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We also congratulate Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart on his re-election.

“Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre wishes to formally thank Alliance Group’s Owen Poole and Jason Miller as well as Silver Fern Farms’ David Shaw for their service to shareholders. . .


Rural round-up

December 13, 2013

How we manage incidents still needs fixing:

While it is good news that the inquiry into the whey protein incident concludes there was no failure with New Zealand’s dairy regulatory system it simply confirms what we already knew, said Michael Barnett, chairman of the NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association.

“We do have world best regulations. We are world leaders in whey production. Within the terms of reference of the inquiry to look into our dairy food safety system the report is a good outcome.”

However in our view the incident was never a failure of our dairy regulations. “It was a failure to manage the situation and the reputational damage it caused New Zealand. This report will not fix that failure,” said Mr Barnett. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership underway:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has welcomed the announcement that the Red Meat Profit Partnership is underway, acknowledging the significant opportunities it will provide farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen says: “The significance of this collaboration cannot be underestimated as it draws together a big part of the red meat processing industry along with farmers and two banks, with the common goal of improving the profitability of sheep and beef farms. Profitability has been too variable and insufficient in recent years, but through this collaboration there is a significant opportunity to improve it.” . . .

Rabobank welcomes signing of Red Meat Profit Partnership:

Agricultural banking specialist Rabobank has welcomed the recent signing and successful contracting of the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The finalisation of the $64 million dollar partnership has been announced with the Crown officially contracting its support of the initiative.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the bank was pleased to confirm its support as a partner of the RMPP alongside the other co-investors. . . .

Week one in a revolutionary fortnight for red meat  – Jeanette Maxwell:

With red meat industry reform a big topic for farmers, Federated Farmers is welcoming the most comprehensive collaboration ever seen in the sector.  With the Federation going out to its members next week on meat industry reform options, this becomes the first week in a revolutionary fortnight for New Zealand’s number two export industry.

“It seems ironic that I am going to welcome 1.3 million fewer lambs being tailed in 2013 over 2012, but the second smallest lamb crop in nearly 60 years is a good outcome following the 2013 drought,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“To be brutally honest, that 4.7 percent decline to a 2013/14 crop of 25.5 million lambs, underscores how vital this week’s announcement of the Red Meat Profit Partnership is. . .

Government Industry Agreements to strengthen biosecurity:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed Cabinet’s approval of the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) Deed as an important tool in strengthening New Zealand’s biosecurity.

“Under the GIA, industry organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries can sign a Deed that formally establishes the biosecurity partnership. Partners will share decision making, costs, and responsibility in preparing for and responding to biosecurity incursions.

“The GIA is important because it will give industries a direct say in managing biosecurity risk. Joint decision making and co-investment will mean that everyone is working together on the most important priorities.

“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,” says Mr Guy . . .

Biosecurity Government Industry Agreements a major boost

Winning Cabinet approval for any policy initiative is never easy so the efforts of Primary Industries Minster, the Hon Nathan Guy with Government Industry Agreements (GIA), must be acknowledged for the way it will boost biosecurity readiness and response.

“GIA’s are a positive development for biosecurity,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.

“Cabinet approval is the roadmap forward and follows Federated Farmers leadership last year, which successfully unblocked five years of stalled talks by bringing together key industry players.

“For the general public, GIA’s are about ‘Readiness and Response,’ which are the two key planks to our biosecurity system.  . .

Forest owners welcome biosecurity deed:

Cabinet approval of the deed that will govern how the government and primary industries respond to biosecurity threats has been welcomed by forest owners.

“The biological industries need secure borders, effective monitoring for possible incursions and a rapid response if an exotic pest arrives here. It is essential that we all know who does what and who picks up the tab,” says Forest Owners Association biosecurity chair Dave Cormack.

“The forest industry, through the FOA, has partnered with government in forest biosecurity surveillance for more than 50 years and has funded its own scheme for the last 25 of those years. We look forward to formalising this relationship in a Government Industry Agreement. . . .

Warwick Roberts elected President NZ National Fieldays Society:

The Annual General Meeting for the National Fieldays Society was held last Thursday night at Mystery Creek Events Centre.

Experienced dairy farmer and local resident, Warwick Roberts, was elected President of the NZ National Fieldays Society and starts his term immediately.

Mr Roberts had held the position of Vice President of the Society since 2012 and takes over the presidency from Lloyd Downing, whose term ran 2010-2013.

In speaking about his appointment, Mr Roberts said he was very proud to be leading such a prestigious organisation. . .

Start date for farm training scheme - Annette Scott:

The farm cadet training scheme proposed for the upper South Island has a start date.

Mendip Hills Station, in North Canterbury, will host the new farm cadet training scheme aimed at the sheep, beef, and deer industries.

Scheme co-ordinator Sarah Barr signed a statement of intent agreement last week with Lincoln University, incorporating the Telford division of the tertiary institution, for the scheme to start in 2015. . .

Amendments to layer hens code of welfare:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced amendments to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012, in a move to avoid a large increase in the price of eggs.

“The final date of 2022 for all layer hens to be out of battery cages remains unchanged. However, the amendment alters the transition dates by two years:
• Cages installed before 31 December 1999 must now be replaced by 31 December 2018 (previously 2016);
• Cages installed before 31 December 2001 must now be replaced by 31 December 2020 (previously 2018).

The amendments have been made after advice from the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC). . . .

The long and the short of it is  . . . – Mad Bush Farm:

I got what I always wanted. I can wake up each morning, have breakfast and get a friendly greeting at the door. He got my toast,  I got my coffee and the company of an equine friend. Animals can do so much for healing a hurt, and helping us forget our troubles. And in turn we can help them get through their troubles. Most of the horses I have on the farm have had sad backgrounds. Ed too had a hard life before he came to me nearly ten years ago. His days are coming slowly to an end. Soon I’ll have to make a decision about his future. . .

New Zealand Young Farmers raises over $1400 for men’s health:

New Zealand Young Farmers was a proud participant in this year’s Movember campaign – and it was a wild and hairy 30 days.

For the month of November the Young Farmers Movember ambassadors Terry Copeland NZYF CEO, Ashley Cassin ANZ Young Farmer Contest Events Leader, and Nigel Woodhead Pendarves Young Farmers Club member, cultivated impressive moustaches all in the name of men’s health.

A charity quiz night was held on the last Friday (29th) of November at the Blue Pub in Methven as a final drive for donations. It was well attended with 13 teams and over 60 people participating. There were top prizes from Silver Fern Farms, Husqvarna and a sell-out raffle for a Vodafone Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.   . .  .


Rural round-up

November 25, 2013

Lenders suggest farmers get better governance in place:

Farmers are being asked by rural lenders to take a board approach to their operations and stop making important decisions around the kitchen table.

Fraser Farm rural financial advisor Don Fraser says banks are asking farmers to get better governance and structures in place.

He says the banks are wanting a board approach and it’s best practice for everybody including the lender.

Mr Fraser says while he can’t provide specific details of the banks asking farmers to take this approach he knows it is happening under the radar.

He says in the past farmers have often made decisions and then gone to the banks asking them to fund it. . .

Export tax proposal won’t fix forestry – Alan Emmerson:

The loss of jobs at Rotorua as the result of yet another sawmill closure is a tragedy.

The problem is the Chinese are prepared to pay a high price for logs and, speaking as a forester, I’ll take the best price I can get.

Ultimately I’m not concerned where my logs are processed, just that I can make the most money from my long-term investment.

The issue for sawmills is they have to pay a high price for logs and the New Zealand dollar is high. The combination of the two factors makes many export sawmills uneconomic.

Like it or not, that is the way of the market. . .

NZ faces massive pest explosion:

New Zealand faces one of its biggest pest population explosions in decades.

This year is a mast year for the South Island’s beech forests, which means the trees are going through their heaviest seeding in nearly a decade. That means a feeding frenzy for mice and rats which leads to an explosion in stoats and weasels.

And to make matters worse, DOC Director General Lou Sanson says possum control hasn’t been operating at full capacity over the last year. . .

Rabbit control at Earnscleugh’s heart – Sally Rae:

If it were not for rabbiters, the Campbell family would not still be on Earnscleugh Station.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the future of the vast Central Otago high country property hung in the balance.

Plagued by rabbits, they were in ”serious strife” and it was an ”absolute nightmare”, Alistair Campbell told about 300 people attending a field day at the property on Friday.

Today, 21,000ha Earnscleugh Station is a far cry from the barren landscape of those rabbit-plagued years when some areas resembled a desert, without a blade of grass. . .

Visiting Canada to study water issues - Sally Rae:

Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal will travel to Canada next year to study water management and beneficial farming practices.

Ms Soal, who is also a director of Irrigation New Zealand, has been named a 2014 Churchill Fellow, receiving a travel grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The Oamaru woman will head overseas in July next year and spend four weeks travelling in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, meeting government representatives, academics, water managers, farmers and members of the irrigation community. . .

Wine wins proof of Central’s strength – Timothy Brown:

The performance of Central Otago wines at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards has shown the area has matured as a wine growing region.

Central Otago wines won 18 gold medals in the initial judging process and dominated the pinot noir category.

The elite gold medal and trophy winners will be announced at the awards dinner on November 23 in Queenstown.

Akarua Winery won three golds. Winemaker Matt Connell said he was ”thrilled” with the results. . .

 Quad safety heading in the right direction – Jeannete Maxwell:

Quad bikes have been in the news again following coroner Brandt Shortland’s well-constructed findings into five deaths in 2010-11.

Given the families involved will be grieving anew it is something we need to be sensitive about.

Yet any mention of a quad bike these days seems to attract almost irrational media attention.

Quad bikes are bikes and are not all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), though Federated Farmers is seeking to get them reclassified as an agricultural vehicle. . .


Rural round-up

November 16, 2013

NZ & China work to improve rural water quality in China:

A joint New Zealand-China environmental science project investigating ways to improve water quality has started a series of field trials on a New Zealand owned farm.

New Zealand Minister of Science and Innovation Steven Joyce, who is currently in China, says the joint project is an important step in reducing nutrient discharges into waterways.

“Managing nutrient discharge is an important environmental issue for both New Zealand and China. It’s encouraging that our scientists are sharing their expertise and working together to reduce pollution in rural waterways in China,” Mr Joyce says. . . .

Meat exports steady, but no silver bullet in sight - Allan Barber:

Meat industry exports for 2012/13 were virtually the same as the year before at $4.4 billion, but there were some significant differences in how the total was made up. Notably within two years China has grown from 1% to 10% of total red meat volumes. Sheepmeat sales were slightly higher in value than beef at $2.3 billion compared with $2.1 billion.

China surged to become the biggest single destination by volume for sheepmeat, taking 33% of all sheepmeat exports, 28% of lamb and 52% of mutton. The EU as a whole remains the largest market for lamb and commands a much higher proportion of revenue at nearly twice the Chinese figure of $4800 per tonne. The USA is the highest paying market at $11500 per tonne followed by EU at $9000. . .

Red meat farmers seek 4.4 million cheerleaders;

Federated Farmers believes the New Zealand consumer needs to become central to New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar red meat industry.

“Farmers know we have 4.4 million cheerleaders and each one is called a New Zealander,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We may be export orientated but if we cannot tempt our fellow New Zealanders taste buds, then what hope is there to win in overseas markets? . . .

Real Journeys purchases Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Key New Zealand tourism player Real Journeys has purchased Cardrona Alpine Resort from Australian based Vealls Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

Real Journeys is a family owned South Island business that operates the 101-year-old steamship the TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak High Country Farm in Queenstown, world renowned cruises in Milford and Doubtful Sounds, the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, day walks on the Milford Track and Stewart Island ferry and tour services. The company also has stakes in Black Cat Cruises, Queenstown Rafting and Milford Sound Flights.

Real Journeys Chief Executive Richard Lauder says they are excited to be bringing Cardrona back into Kiwi hands and indeed into the Real Journeys family. . .

Horticulture winner promotes therapeutic gardening:

A passion for plants is the driving force behind the winner of this year’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

Kelly Jean Kerr, a Whanganui garden centre assistant, was one of six finalists from different horticultre sectors who competed in two full-on days of challenges in Auckland this week.

She says more people are getting into gardening and discovering there are therapeutic as well as economic benefits.. .

Department of General Practice and Rural Health celebrates 30 years:

Thirty years may not seem much when put in the context of the nearly 150-year history of the University of Otago, but for the University’s General Practice and Rural Health department, the milestone was well worth commemorating.

The milestone was marked by nearly 100 students, staff, alumni, and local general practitioners at a celebration held on Friday at the University Staff Club.

Associate Professor Chrys Jaye who currently heads the Department, says the event was a huge success. . .

Golden month for Sacred Hill HALO Chardonnay:

Sacred Hill HALO Chardonnay 2012 has won Pure Gold at the 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

The prestigious accolade comes less than a month after the same wine was one of only six Chardonnays to win gold at the 2013 Hawke’s Bay A & P Show Bayleys Wine Awards.

Sacred Hill winemaker Tony Bish is delighted with the double gold success for HALO Chardonnay, one of a range of wines which he describes as “crafted to bring premium wines back into people’s everyday enjoyment”.

“Our aim was to create a Chardonnay with real texture and depth and we are pleased to see the judges in both awards have recognised those qualities.” . . .


Rural round-up

November 12, 2013

Plant not closing – Simon Hartley:

Silver Fern Farms’ Silverstream lamb-processing plant near Mosgiel will not open for the start of its season as usual in December – but it is not being closed.

While the plant’s 12-strong management team are in consultation over potential redundancy, Silver Fern and the New Zealand Meat Workers Union are confident the Finegand plant near Balclutha could take the up to 180 boning staff should they choose to transfer there.

With no staff meeting or statements sent to individual staff, there is confusion over the plant’s future and it was ”inadequate for workers to be left dangling”, Otago-Southland Meat Workers’ Union branch president Daryl Carran said. ”Because Silverstream is for overflow processing, to bone lamb at the peak of the season, it’s more open to volatility.”

Coronial report on quad bike deaths – industry forum to be convened:

 Whangarei Coroner Brandt Shortland has today released findings into five workplace quad bike deaths:

As part of his concurrent inquests in April this year into the five deaths, Coroner Shortland invited submissions on quad bike issues from a series of experts and involved parties, and his findings include his conclusions and recommendations (see summary below).

“These findings and recommendations give weight, in the Ministry’s view, to the need to continue focusing on reducing the death and injury toll associated with quad bike use in agricultural settings,” General Manager Health and Safety Operation Ona de Rooy said. . . .

Federated Farmers welcomes coronial recommendations:

Federated Farmers is welcoming recommendations contained in Coroner Shortland’s written findings released today on quad bike related deaths in 2010 and 2011.

“Can we express our heartfelt commiserations to the family and loved ones of those people subject to the Coroner’s findings,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“The one thing we welcome in Coroner Shortland’s findings is that it recognises the practical realities of using quad bikes in a farm setting. Indeed, many of the recommendations are current industry practice and that is a good thing.

“There are far more quad bikes in New Zealand than registered road-going motorcycles. Many farmers will spend hundreds of hours a year operating a quad bike because they have become the farmer’s Swiss Army knife. . .

High input costs in China’s milk benefit NZ:

A dairy industry analyst says it’s a good thing for New Zealand farmers that it costs substantially more to produce milk in China than it does to produce the same volume in this country.

The International Farm Comparison Network 2013 Dairy Report shows that producing 100kg of milk in New Zealand costs $US35. In the United States it costs $US44 to produce the same amount and in China it’s 50% higher again.

NZX Agrifax’s dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says that reinforces China’s ongoing dependence on importing dairy products from countries such as New Zealand.

She says it’s importing feed that makes producing milk so expensive in China. . .

Star rating system for food could benefit primary industry sector:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says food labelling using a star rating system could benefit the primary industry sector in New Zealand.

The star system effectively rates the nutritional value of a product.

The minister announced last week a voluntary star rating system would be the focus of research as to how effective it could be and what consumers think about it.

Ms Kaye says it’s important consumers have the best possible information about making healthier eating choices which is why the New Zealand Front of Pack Labelling Advisory Group decided the system should be looked into.

She says the system could have flow-through benefits for the primary sector.   . .

Giesen, Johanneshof and Villa Maria dominate 2013 Marlborough Wine Show awards:

Family companies dominated the awards at the 2013 Marlborough Wine Show celebration dinner held in Blenheim on Saturday night with Giesen, Johanneshof Cellars and Villa Maria winning nine of the 14 awards presented.

In addition to 12 class trophies, there were two new awards – The Marlborough Wine Show Award for Vineyard Excellence which was presented jointly to Ara Wines and Villa Maria for their Seddon Vineyard and the Marlborough Museum Legacy Award which was presented to Johanneshof Cellars for their Gewurztraminer, vintages 2006, 2010 and 2012. . .


Connect for mental health

October 10, 2013

It’s Mental Health Week,  today is Mental Health Day and Associate Health Minister Todd McClay is urging people to connect:

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, which started Monday 7 October and finishes on Friday 11 October is CONNECT.

“Supportive friends, families whānau and communities are an integral component of good mental health. It is a responsibility that falls on all of us to connect with those around us and ensure that they are supported,” says Mr McClay. . .

Mr McClay will be attending a community barbecue in his electorate, organised by Lifewise Rotorua, to celebrate the week. Lifewise Rotorua is a community service for people and their whānau experiencing difficulty with their mental health or addictions.

As Associate Minister of Health with responsibility for mental health and addiction and suicide prevention, Mr McClay stressed the importance of maintaining community networks and social bonds with those around you.

“Whether it’s extending a helping hand, inviting your neighbour over for a cup of tea or checking in with friends and family, a small gesture can make a big difference.”

For those who were struggling or wanted to talk to someone, New Zealand has a range of services available, including the depression.org.nz website, the 0800 111 757 depression helpline and the lowdown.org.nz website for young people.

“If you’ve got concerns about your health or someone else’s, then reach out and connect. Help is only a visit, a phone call or a text message away,” says Mr McClay. . .

Federated Farmers would like to emphasise the importance of talking about depression and removing the stigma around the issue.

“Federated Farmers’ ‘When Life’s a Bitch’ campaign really took the lid off the issue in rural communities and this week is a great time to reinforce just how important it is to be open and aware of the issue,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Mental Health Spokesperson.

“When there are more suicides in New Zealand than road deaths, drownings and workplace accidents combined, and we are rated 22nd out of 23 countries for social wellbeing, there is a serious need to stand up and pay attention.

“Whilst environmental pressures have dropped for some, not all farmers are in the clear and people struggling with depression are still slipping under the radar. On the surface farmers may seem like they have it together however, the hangover from the drought is still very much here.

“I am still talking to farmers around the country who are under severe financial pressure from the drought and other adverse weather events. It is important to understand that depression is not a problem that just comes and goes with the weather.

“Positive change comes from people talking and connecting with each other, we are stronger when we band together. Conversations build communities creating awareness and breaking down the barriers of isolation.

“For this week we are focusing on connecting with each other, and there are a few events on around the country that you can attend as well as an online wellbeing game that makes you the master of your own happiness.

“Whilst we can help ourselves by talking and connecting with others there is more that needs to be done. Federated Farmers and the Rural General Practice Network are calling for the Government to recognise the issue by providing specific funding for rural mental health,” concluded Mrs Maxwell.

If someone breaks a leg we can see the plaster and generally know how to help.

You can’t put plaster on a broken spirit.  We often don’t recognise mental health problems. If we do it’s harder to know what to do, although connecting – providing the practical support and emotional comfort we’d offer to someone with a physical illness is a good start.

There’s more information at the Mental Health Foundation.


Rural round-up

September 25, 2013

Increases for selected fish stocks show success of QMS:

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

“These decisions today reflect the success of the Quota Management System (QMS), which is recognised as world leading. It is driven by science and responsive to change, which means that as stocks improve we can increase our sustainable take”, says Mr Guy.

Healthy stocks have led to increased Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for Hoki 1, Ling 5, Ling 7, Orange Roughy 3B, Scampi 2, Kingfish 7, Leatherjacket 3, Oyster 4 and Sea Perch 1.

“For several stocks, such as Ling 6, Bluenose 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8 and Snapper 7, I have decided to maintain the current TAC. . .

Regulatory Californication – Willy Leferink:

Isn’t it amazing how some people love catastrophy  Last month’s dairy recalls saw some truly leap off the deep end and when we were just getting through that, others latched onto a report by a New York-based dairy strategist.  It warned the New Zealand dairy industry could be squashed by a resurgent U.S. one.

I am only going off media reports but “Arise the Hunter: The Re-orientation of the US Dairy Industry and Implications for New Zealand,” by Tim Hunt certainly impressed the media.  The U.S. dairy industry produces five times the volume of milk as we do and its star used to be California.  I say ‘used to,’ because our new found love of red tape has me worried our dairy industry may be undergoing ‘Californication.’  There is a raunchy TV series going by that name where a fictional novelist solves his ‘writer’s block’ by having affairs.  Is our affair with regulation going to tie our industry up in knots, just like it did to California’s?

I learned how much California has become horridly regulated from Nicola Waugh.  As a Nuffield New Zealand Farming scholarship recipient, she travelled overseas in 2011 from March until October.  As a farm consultant for AgFirst Waikato, she also understands what regulation is. . .

Stay safe these holidays:

With school holidays starting this week, Federated Farmers is putting out a timely reminder to be vigilant with farm safety.

“Our home is our work place and when the children are home from school, we need to be more alert to hazards around the farm,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety Spokesperson.

“Last year we had 14 fatalities and 408 serious injuries on farm, don’t become a part of the statistic these holidays. Be mindful of visitors on farm wanting to experience the rural lifestyle, educate them on hazards and keep them safe. . .

More options for growers under Wools of New Zealand / New Zealand Wool Services International agreement:

Growers will be the ultimate winners of a direct farm-to-scour service agreement between Wools of New Zealand and New Zealand Wool Services International (NZWSI).

Wools of New Zealand will be the face to their grower shareholders and supporters with NZWSI providing all of the back office logistics to move wool efficiently from farm directly to the scour and ultimately, to market.

Ross Townshend, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand, says the agreement is a ‘win-win’ for shareholders and suppliers providing them with access to a range of sales options including a weekly schedule, monthly plans and more Wools of New Zealand brand contracts, such as the forthcoming Camira lambswool contract. . .

Big dairy results fortnight kicks off with Synlait:

In a big results fortnight for most dairy farmers and the New Zealand economy, listed milk processor Synlait has started the ball rolling with a net after tax profit for 2012/2013, which was ahead of its prospective financial information forecast. Fonterra Cooperative Group releases its 2012/13 results tomorrow with the other two cooperatives due to follow next week.

“For supplier-shareholders of Fonterra, Synlait, Tatua and Westland, this is going to be a huge fortnight, given Open Country Dairy has already paid its suppliers for the 2012/13 season,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Vice-Chairperson.

“I would add for New Zealand, too, since this relates directly to over a quarter of our country’s merchandise exports. . .

Wrightson chair John Anderson to retire at October meeting:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chairman John Anderson will retire from the rural services company at the annual meeting next month.

Anderson, who joined the board during a tumultuous shake-up in 2010, will step down from the board at the Oct. 22 meeting, the company said in a statement. A new chairman will be appointed after the meeting. Anderson’s appointment coincided with a changing of the guard in 2010 when Craig Norgate and Baird McConnnon left the board and China’s Agria Corp came on as a cornerstone investor, going on to mount a partial takeover of the company. . .

Lindauer Leads Lion’s Charge at New World Wine Awards 2013

New Zealand’s most popular sparkling wine wins gold medals at wine awards

23 September 2013 – Lindauer Classic Brut Cuveé, Lindauer Classic Rosé and Saints Sauvignon Blanc 2012 have scooped gold medals at the New World Wine Awards 2013, leading the way for Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs which won silver. In addition, following on from its gold medal win, Lindauer Classic Rosé was then named Champion Bubbles.

A record number of entries were received for this year’s New World Wine Awards, which were judged by an independent panel of 13 wine experts at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium in July. . . .

Spy Valley Chardonnay Named Champion White Wine:

Marlborough’s Spy Valley Wines is delighted to announce that their 2012 Chardonnay has been named Champion White Wine at the 2013 New World Wine Awards.

Now in its 11th year, the New World Wine Awards utilise the internationally recognised ‘20 point scoring system’, with wines blind tasted and evaluated by an independent panel of 13 judges, many from overseas. Winners of each category are then re-judged to find the Champion Red, Champion White and Champion Bubbles, with the sole criteria being that all wines must retail for under $25. . .

Mission Reserve Chardonnay 2012 wins Gold at the 2013 New Word Wine Awards:

One of only two Chardonnays to be awarded Gold.

The Mission Reserve Chardonnay 2012 is one of only two Chardonnays to win Gold at the 2013 New World Wine Awards. These Awards are exclusively for the very best wines retailing at under $25.

In total, a record 1,099 wines were entered from 157 wineries, with the Mission Reserve Chardonnay taking out Gold and a coveted place in the Top 50.

This recognition follows on from a Gold at the 2010 Awards, and marks 15 years of local and international acclaim for the classically crafted Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay. . . .


Rural round-up

September 2, 2013

NZ/Sri Lanka agree way forward on dairy issues:

The New Zealand and Sri Lankan governments have agreed to work toward a Dairy Sector Cooperation Agreement following a one day visit to Colombo by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

The visit followed the serious difficulties Fonterra has experienced in that market over recent weeks and the temporary closure of its Sri Lankan operations.

Mr McCully and Fonterra Chairman John Wilson met Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa to discuss progress in resolving the difficulties and future opportunities to expand cooperation in the dairy sector.

“Sri Lanka is keen to substantially build its domestic capacity in the dairy sector. Mr Rajapaksa clearly understands the world-class expertise and experience that Fonterra can bring to that. He was very interested in hearing how Fonterra might be able to assist. We took the opportunity to underline the greater certainty that Fonterra will need in the Sri Lankan market,” Mr McCully says. . .

Fundamentals still right: farm leader – Sally Rae:

It may have been a ”hellishly tough month” for Fonterra but the co-operative’s forecast milk price underlines that the fundamentals of the New Zealand dairy industry remain strong, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink says.

Last week, the co-operative revised its 2013-14 season forecast to $7.80, up 30c from the previous forecast late last month.

New Zealanders should ”rejoice” that the immediate financial damage from the recall and market access issues would not dent the economy, Mr Leferink said.

”With an eye to the future, we’ve got to accept that we cannot afford a repeat of this month’s problems, but right now, this confidence in the dairy industry is a huge relief. . . .

Rural folk urged to change drinking ways:

Rural communities need to change the present culture of binge-drinking and drink-driving, those in the emergency services say.

Otago rural area acting commander Inspector Andrew Burns, of Dunedin, said alcohol was a factor in the ”vast majority” of crimes in rural areas.

People were consuming alcohol differently in rural communities and the problem was not as ”visible” as it was in cities, but it was still a problem, he said.

”In the rural community it’s no different [to urban settings],” Insp Burns said.

”With a lot of domestic violence, alcohol is a factor and in violent crime it’s usually a factor.” . . .

Time to face up to rural mental health needs:

Federated Farmers is joining the Rural General Practice Network in calling for specific funding for rural mental health. This follows the latest annual release of suicide statistics by the Chief Coroner.

“When there are more suicides in New Zealand than road deaths, drownings and workplace accidents combined, there is a serious need to change tack,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“Last year, 541 New Zealanders took their own lives and we know the cost of suicide painfully well in rural New Zealand.

“As the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil McLean recently told 3 News, “Farming is tough. You’re at the whims of nature and markets and you have no control over this and it’s hard and demanding work in isolation. . .

Soaring milk prices boost for farmers - Hugh Stringleman:

Milk prices have taken off in a way not seen since the commodity boom of 2007-08, promising total farmgate returns of about $8/kg milksolids in a season that has only just begun. 

The country’s 12,000 dairy farm owners, their sharemilkers and staff members can whistle their way to work in the pre-dawn darkness.

Widespread rain, warm temperatures, steep pasture-growth curves, and good prospects for supplementary feeding should work to boost national milk production and turbo-charge the economy.

Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Willy Leferink said last week’s forecast increases by Fonterra and Westland co-operatives were almost too good to be true. . .

Aussie breakthrough for NZ deer velvet – Rod O’Neill:

New Zealand’s deer velvet industry is claiming a big win, with producer and processor Mountain Red poised to begin exporting into Australia after having its product licensed by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

It’s been a long hard battle to access the Australian market, said Mountain Red director Karen Morley.

The licence means Nelson-based Mountain Red’s range of therapeutic products can be distributed in Australia and even be prescribed by general practitioners practising integrated medicine.

“We’ve spent a hell of a long time trying to get into Australia,” Morley said. “The regulations are so hard.” . . .


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