Generation Lamb

January 26, 2014

Australian Lambassador Sam Kekovich does it again for Australia Day:

SAM Kekovich is about to hit our TV screens again with his annual Australia Day Address to the Nation, his 10th year in a row as “Lambassador”.

In the past he has launched a music video, set out on “dip-lamb-attic” missions to encourage the rest of the world “to be more Australian” and sparked a trans-Tasman furore over his remarks about New Zealand’s former prime minister.

This year he breaks with entertainment convention and is working with both animals and children when he is seen thrusting a lamb chop into the hands of a child or “Generation Lamb” in an irreverent ad which also features a swipe at the remaining original Wiggle and a giant baby crushing a vegan barbecue. . .

A decade down the track Kekovich still takes the campaign with a grain of salt – and maybe a touch of pepper and some tomato sauce.

“I’ve always been fighting the good fight for lamb, there is no doubt about that,” said the former Australian Rules footballer on Thursday. . .


Rural round-up

August 29, 2013

In quite pursuit of the perfect lamb - Peter Watson:

Drive past Brent and Bernadette Hodgkinson’s farm in the Tadmor Valley and you would barely give it a second glance.

There is no flash house and garden and the property is far from immaculate.

But behind the modest appearance is a very smart, profitable business.

Not only were the Hodgkinsons finalists in the recent national sheep supplier of the year awards, they grow the meatiest lambs supplied to our largest co-operative, Alliance, by any farmer in the country. And they have been producing high-quality, high-yielding lambs year after year from a property where soil fertility is naturally poor and the climate can range from bitterly cold in winter to drought in summer. . .

Unsung hero recognised - Sally Rae:

Kevin Smith loves farming and he enjoys passing on his knowledge and skills to the younger generation.

Mr Smith, from Middlemarch, was recently named the AgITO Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year at the Beef and Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards, beating fellow finalists Telford (a division of Lincoln University) and Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust.

No-one was more delighted than the woman who nominated him, AgITO’s Rebecca Williamson-Kavanaugh, who was ”extremely excited” and very proud. . .

Employing migrant workers in the primary sector -

With the rapid expansion of the primary sector, particularly in dairy farming, an international farm advisor specialising in labour management from the University of California, Professor Gregorio Billikopf, is visiting New Zealand to discuss labour changes and the increasing levels of migrant workers being employed.

In New Zealand for two weeks, Professor Gregorio Billikopf will have a number of speaking engagements, including addressing delegates at the Australasia Pacific Extension Network International Conference being held at Lincoln University from 26 to 28 August 2013, and a speaking engagement in Ashburton on Thursday 29 August. 

“Professor Gregorio Billikopf is an internationally recognised expert when it comes to migrant workers in the primary sector,” says Lincoln University’s Associate Professor in Employment Relations, Dr Rupert Tipples. . .

No more old tyres for silage stacks:

A THROW away remark – “there has to be a better way” – by Toni Johnson while helping her father place tyres on a silage stack cover, led to one of the best innovations at National Fieldays.

Aqua Anchors are either 14m or 16m long and 75mm or 65mm sections of lie-flat hoses hermetically sealed at both ends and filled with water. 

They lie over and around the edges of silage stacks to hold the cover in place and keep the crop from the elements. They replace traditional tyres. A patent is pending. . .

Nothing humble about the bumble:

Avocado growers are keen to hear the latest research findings on the use of bumblebees as pollinators, says AVOCO technical manager Colin Partridge, so they can plan to put the findings into practice and improve the consistency of harvests.

The topic will be addressed at the Australia-New Zealand avocado conference in Tauranga next month, and AVOCO, as principal sponsor of the conference and the largest grower group, appreciates the significance of the research.

“If avocado growers could soon be able to call in special reinforcements to pollinate their trees – the not-so-humble bumblebee – it will do a lot to stabilise the industry and could even help overcome the persistent boom/bust nature of the harvests,” says Mr Partridge. . .

Wairarapa Water Use Project Appoints Project Director:

The Wairarapa Water Use Project has appointed Michael Bassett-Foss to lead future investigations into what could be one of the largest economic and social development projects in the greater Wellington region.

Still in its early stage, the project aims to develop a multi-purpose water scheme to collect and store water then distribute it in the dry season for a variety of economic and community uses in an environmentally sustainable way.

Previously Mr Bassett-Foss has had regional development, investment and strategic roles in the private and public sectors in New Zealand, South America, Eastern Europe and South East Asia. . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2013

Korean visit to address fears about trade direction - Marie

Prime Minister John Key heads for South Korea on Thursday for an official visit warning that New Zealand’s fifth biggest trading partner will slip down the rankings without a free trade agreement.

War commemorations will be a central feature of the visit, with 30 New Zealand veterans joining Key’s entourage to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. 

Key said outside those events, the priority was to make progress on reaching an FTA. . .

Farmer Confidence Rebounds, New Survey Finds:

Federated Farmers’ New-Season Farm Confidence Survey, undertaken at the start of the 2013/14 season, has shown a major turnaround in farmer confidence.  This result is in keeping with other recent farm and business confidence surveys.

“Farmers are showing a lot more optimism in both the wider economy and individual farm prospects,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“You could say farmers are in recovery mode but this bounce back comes off a low base.  There is still a large gap in the sentiment of dairy farmers when compared to the other farming sectors.

“Six months ago, farmers were fairly negative about the wider economy and were very pessimistic about their own profitability.   This was particularly the case for sheep and beef farmers. In contrast, dairy farmers were feeling more optimistic than they had been at this point last year [July 2012], thanks mainly to better dairy commodity prices and growing conditions. . .

Alliance lamb in Oliver’s Russian eatery - Alan Williams:

Alliance Group lamb from New Zealand will be on the menu at the new Jamie Oliver restaurant due to open in Russian city St Petersburg.

The contract was a good boost to the business Alliance had built with Russian food service companies and restaurants over the past 12 years, marketing general manager Murray Brown said.

It highlighted the growing status of the group’s Pure South brand as a leading red-meat export, he said. . .

Eliminating wool’s dirty secret:

With New Zealand’s main-shear approaching, Federated Farmers and the NZ Shearing Contractors Association are backing moves to cut the woolshed contamination of wool. If successful, it could boost farmgate returns by a couple of million dollars each year.

“When you are dealing with a $700 million export, cutting wool contamination translates into a big opportunity for fibre farmers,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“As a farmer, the easiest way for us to increase our returns is to focus on what we can control. Woolshed contamination is a perfect example of this. . .

Head in a bucket – he does that every morning – Mad Bush Farm:

 He’s old, muddy, grumpy and he wasn’t making it any secret he wasn’t going to be sharing his breakfast with Ranger and the other little horses. As for me well the black eye has at last waned to a faded reminder of Muphy’s visit last week to the farm. The cows and naughty little Tempest, are finding out the hard way that an electrified wire is now on the road fence. We’ve had a few fine days, it’s still a bog hole here. My complaints are going unheeded by Mr Winter. He won’t be leaving until the end of August – darn. I’m going back to the mud now to complain some more or mayube I’ll just go and have a coffee instead

Talking of horses I found this beautiful tribute to the Arabian horse done with clips from the Black Stallion and other films. . .

Jousting for poll position – Milk Maid Marian:

Scuffles broke out right across the paddock as the weak winter sun lit the stage for a bovine pugilism festival. The cows were feeling magnificent and, unable to contain their energy, were ready to take on all comers.

The kids and I love watching the cows “do butter-heads” and the cows seem to love it, too. For every pair or trio engaged in warfare, there will be a group of curious onlookers and one scuffle seems to inspire more outbreaks.

Does butter-heads have a serious purpose though? Yes, it does. The herd has a very structured pecking order. Cows come into the dairy in roughly the same order every milking and the smallest and most timid are inevitably last. Mess them up by splitting the herd into seemingly random groups for a large-scale vet procedure like preg testing and you can expect trouble. . .


Rural round-up

July 21, 2013

Lamb price tipped to rise – Tim Cronshaw:

The return of $100 lambs for the 2013-14 season will go some way to lifting the spirits of sheep farmers.

Farmer confidence was hard to find during the worst drought in 70 years in parts of the North Island, spreading to a dry summer in Canterbury, and with an average lamb price of $85.

Meat companies believe $100 could be the average price for lamb for the new season starting in October, with industry good organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand setting only a slightly more modest $98.50. . .

Lamb slide “will be bigger than expected” – Richard Rennie:

IDA Valley farmer Rob Gardyne believes Beef + Lamb New Zealand analysts risk significantly underestimating how far lamb numbers will fall this year.

His flock of Perendale stud ewes in Central Otago is expected to deliver a 200% lambing rate, alongside 135% from a mixed commercial flock.

However, he estimated the hit to the sheep sector overall this year would be greater than anticipated.

This was due in part to heavier-than-estimated losses of ewes to slaughter in the drought, as well as continuing conversions to dairying. . .

Optimism on meat progress – Tim Cronshaw:

Sheep farming leaders sense that a group of meat companies are coming closer to announcing a decision on whether they can find a way to work together in reforming the red meat industry.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said he felt talks were “imminent”.

He said he would be surprised if farmers did not see some announcement in the next two to three weeks.

“We are going to have more in-depth industry discussions the next few weeks when the meat company proposal comes out. . . .

Pasture growth exceeds expectations - Tony Bennie:

As a few early calves arrived on Canterbury dairy farms this week, there were positive signs for the new season with good pasture covers throughout the region, says DairyNZ regional leader Virginia Serra.

“When we are talking to farmers, they are feeling quite positive and the main thing you consider now is the pasture cover on the milking platform. Is it where it should be for calving? And yes, in most cases it is,” Serra said.

Pasture growth had exceeded expectations in both June and July.

“The Methven area has been quite affected with the snow and they are perhaps just a little bit below target, but they are still quite happy with the amount of feed on the platform.” . . .

Westland enters infant formula market in China:

Westland Milk Products is the latest to enter the rapidly expanding infant formula maket in China, with the launch of three new products in Shanghai.

The West Coast co-operative is producing infant, follow-on and growing up powders, at a new plant in Hokitika as part of a move to reduce its reliance on bulk dairy commodties.

Westland has also appointed it’s first Chinese based representative, Harry Wang as nutritional development manager for China and is working with Chinese companies to distribute the formula products. . .

Time for an update – Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s Winter here at CTF, and we’ve had a few frosts, but some lovely fine days too. Fortunately not too cold being at the Northern end of NZ. We don’t get snow here, it’s usually just wet, with a cold southerly wind or else fine and sunny during the day but frosty at night.

I’ve been out pruning our many fruit trees, some of the bigger ones have needed quite a bit of work and that’s very time consuming. I’ve been fairly brutal to them poor things but they did really need to be ‘minimised’ – we don’t want huge fruit trees with inaccessible fruit for one thing! While we may not get such a great crop this next season, I’m hoping the following one will be good. . . .


Rural round-up

March 17, 2013

Alumni awards honour Luxton:

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton has been honoured by Massey University at its Distinguished Alumni awards.

Luxton, QSO, a former MP and current Dairy NZ chairman, received the supreme honour, the Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal.

Named after Massey’s founding principal, the award recognises a graduate who has reached the highest level of achievement in business or professional life or who has been of significant service to the university, community or nation. . .

Alliance confident about lamb sales in northern markets -

Southland-based meat processor the Alliance Group is quietly confident of a better season for meat sales in the pivotal Easter trade in northern hemisphere markets.

The last shipments of the company’s meat products for the Easter markets left New Zealand early in February and were still in transit, said chief executive Grant Cuff.

“We’ve only had early indications from those markets, but we’re more optimistic this Easter than we were last Easter,” he said.

Lamb prices were very high in northern hemisphere markets last Easter and customers were more pessimistic, with high unemployment and a lot of uncertainty around the world. . .

Working on quality - Terri Russell:

Southland meat processor Alliance Group is working on new initiatives after a visit from leading British retailer Marks and Spencer last month.

It was the retailer’s first visit since agreeing on an exclusive supply deal late last year. Marks and Spencer representatives visited the company’s Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to look at processing techniques and product specifications.

Alliance Group, in partnership with Marks and Spencer, will work together to improve shelf life and quality of product.

Alliance Group general manager marketing Murray Brown said the initiatives offered opportunities for farmer-suppliers. . .

Five star treatment for Camelot cows – Michelle Nelson:

In the shadow of the Mid Canterbury foothills lies a modern-day Camelot, where something magical is happening – huge super cows are milked by robots, and a dedicated team of humans attends to their every need.

Camelot Robotic Dairy Farm is owned by the Beeston family’s Blumoon Trust, and is a place where animal welfare and sustainable farming practices are kept at the forefront of decision making.

At 26, Frances Beeston manages the state-of-the-art robotic dairy farm, home to the Blumoon Holstein Fresian and Triann Brown Swiss studs. She says life doesn’t get much better.

The daughter of Bryan and Annette Beeston, Frances grew up with elite dairy cows, and wasted little time thinking about where her future lay.

“I worked on the farm with Mum and Dad when I was a kid. I had pet calves and loved going out at night to check on cows at calving – I always loved the lifestyle,” she says. . .

Alien weeds feared in imported hay - Terri Russell:

Southland farmers aren’t sending hay north to support drought-ravaged farms – and they would only accept North Island hay if they were “desperate” for the feed.

Truckloads of Canterbury hay have been sent to farmers in the North Island this week to underfed livestock in the drought-affected north.

While transport costs and dry conditions meant Southland farmers had shown no interest in sending hay north, industry leaders said if the situation was reversed farmers would need to be vigilant about hay coming to Southland. They did not want unwanted weeds in the hay to spread through the region. . . .

DoC tries to leave none behind – Tim Fulton:

Canterbury conservator Mike Cuddihy has a favourite song lyric, “I’ll be holding all the tickets and you’ll be owning all the fines”. Tim Fulton meets a top manager at the Department of Conservation.

Some trophy hunters shoot the bull tahr but leave the females behind to breed in great numbers, Mike Cuddihy has noticed.

His incidental comment on wild game captures his view of responsibility for the “huge canvas” of the environment.

DoC will happily work behind the scenes in conservation but the onus goes in all directions, the Canterbury regional manager says.

In the South Island high country, where DoC is a large landowner rubbing shoulders routinely with farmers, the bush-talk has been of a fractious relationship. . .


Why is NZ lamb tastier?

March 12, 2013

An email says:

A friend in London asked me about why Scottish lamb isn’t as good as New Zealand lamb. I thought you might know, or might know someone who knows what the actual difference in it is.

I’ve had lamb at Gleneagles and it was less dense in texture and a different flavour, perhaps more intense lanolin, but I am not sure.

All lamb isn’t equal.

John Key was one of the judges at the Glammies last year and said it was easy to detect  distinct differences in taste and texture between the entries.

A Spanish speciality is baby lamb which has a very different taste and texture from the older lamb we’re accustomed to.

Breeding and feeding both influence taste, even if the meat is prepared and cooked the same way.

I am not sure if climate and soils also have an influence which might explain why New Zealand lamb is tastier  than Scottish lamb and welcome answers to the email question from anyone who knows more.


Lamb cheaper here and there

January 17, 2013

Butterfly legs of lamb have been selling at an Oamaru New World supermarket for $19 a kilo.

I appreciate that as a consumer but as a producer realise that is reflecting lower prices for our stock.

The red ink in meat companies’ annual reports showed that last years prices were higher than they should have been and we’re paying for it now.

We’re not in this by ourselves, the National Sheep Association in Britain is calling for supermarkets there to favour local lamb ahead of ours:

The National Sheep Association has claimed supermarkets are not stocking UK lamb as it is ‘out of season’ and instead opting for New Zealand meat.

The association said it was a ‘bitter blow’ for sheep farmers at a time when many are not receiving financial returns to cover the cost of production.

Farmers are losing £29 on average for every lamb they sell at market after new figures revealed farm gate prices have dropped by a fifth in the past year.

Lamb prices are at their lowest in three years due to a poor summer, rising production costs and a longer finishing period.

“Given that New Zealand lamb on supermarket shelves is not as cheap as it has been historically, a better pricing structure in supermarkets, a wider selection of UK cuts and better presentation on the shelf would all benefit shoppers and farmers alike” the NSA said.

But Sainsbury’s pledged to increase the amount it pays for lamb until the end of February at more than 60p/kg above the market rate.

The news came after several farming groups called on retailers to show a ‘genuine commitment’ to their British suppliers and customers.

More than 800 farmers who supply Sainsbury’s own brands will receive £3.80/kg for lamb, in a move that will ease the burden on some already hard-pressed farmers struggling with the collapse in the price of lamb.

“Sainsbury’s has recognised that sheep farmers cannot run businesses on current prices. It’s clearly time for the whole trade to now show they are committed to a sustainable UK lamb industry” said NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe. . .

The recession has had an impact on demand and therefore prices for better cuts, notably lamb racks.

But the problem of low returns isn’t just due to meat prices, it’s also caused by low demand for wool and other by products.


Rural round-up

November 10, 2012

Synlait Farms Takes Out South Island Farmer of the Year title for 2012

Canterbury-based dairy enterprise Synlait Farms clinched the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition for 2012 last night (Thursday 8 November 2012) with an entry that judges hailed as a prime example of New Zealand’s leadership role in innovative and entrepreneurial agricultural practice.

Chief Judge Bob Simpson said that all four finalists demonstrated leadership, excellence and innovation.

“Any of the finalists could have won this award tonight,” Simpson said. “But in the finish it was Synlait’s blend of family-based traditional farming practices with the very best of modern corporate innovation and management systems that saw this multi-farm company stand out. Synlait’s approach to its people, its stock and its land can be held up as an example of what can be achieved when good leadership and good people go hand-in-hand.” . . .

Landcorp ready to run Crafar farms – Andrea Fox:

State farmer Landcorp says its Chinese client Shanghai Pengxin will settle the Crafar farms purchase with receivers on November 30 and it is scheduled to start managing the dairy farming estate the next day.

Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly said that to the best of his knowledge this was the timetable that would mark the end of the tortuous three-year Crafar farms sales process.

Landcorp’s management of the 16 central North Island farms is a condition of Government consent to the controversial sale to the Chinese company, which has waited through a string of court challenges and consent processes to put its money on the table as receiver KordaMentha’s preferred bidder. . .

Wool growers asked for $10m – Gerald Piddock:

Wools of New Zealand is asking for $10 million from strong wool growers in a capital raising offer to expand its sales and marketing capabilities.

The raising would give strong wool growers the opportunity to invest in a grower-owned sales and marketing, company, chairman Mark Shadbolt said.

The company has made significant inroads into transforming Wools of New Zealand into a commercial entity, aimed at connecting customer to grower, he said. . .

Wine sector senses a whiff of recovery – Claire Rogers:

The wine industry is on the mend after a gruelling few years that prompted a string of closures and collapses, New Zealand Winegrowers says.

One recent high-profile casualty, Hawke’s Bay winery and vineyard Matariki Group was put into receivership in September owing creditors, including the Government, about $11.2 million. Receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers said the winery struck financial trouble after reduced harvests in 2011 and 2012 led to weak sales, and that was compounded by a lack of capital.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the 2012 harvest was down 19 per cent on 2011, and that had dealt another blow to the industry, which had been struggling since 2008 with over-supply and weak demand from the global downturn. . .

Sea air tenderises spring lamb – Jon Morgan:

Logan Brown’s head chef Shaun Clouston takes a bite, chews thoughtfully, swallows and then licks his lips.

“By crikey, that’s beautiful,” he says, shaking his head slowly, wonder in his voice.

On the plate is a lamb rump, finely sliced, with kumara, crushed peas and roasted tomatoes. It’s a simple dish. “I want the lamb to be the hero,” Clouston says.

This is not any lamb. The meat is from a young spring lamb, only 4 months old when it was sent to slaughter, and from a farm on the coast south of Whanganui. . .

Kiwi to Lead International Tree Society

A Dunedin arborist became the first-ever Australasian president of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) last week.

Mark Roberts, an experienced arborist and academic director of horticulture training firm Thoughtplanters, is the second non-American elected to lead the 88-year-old society.

More than 20,000 arborists from 18 countries are members of ISA today. . .


Rural round-up

November 2, 2012

Alliance Group secures exclusive deal with iconic UK retailer:

Leading meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has secured an exclusive deal to supply chilled New Zealand lamb to iconic UK retailer Marks & Spencer.

The   cooperative   will   be   the   sole   supplier   of   chilled  New   Zealand   lamb   to   Marks   &   Spencer   from Christmas 2012, sourcing lambs from approved farms across the South Island for processing at the company’s Lorneville (Invercargill), Pukeuri (Oamaru) and Smithfield (Timaru) plants.  

This supply arrangement is the first time Marks & Spencer has agreed to an exclusive deal for chilled lamb from a single New Zealand supplier.  . .

AgResearch scientist gets funding for new TB vaccine:

An AgResearch scientist has won funding to investigate the development of a new type of vaccine to protect animals and humans against tuberculosis and, potentially, a wide range of other infectious diseases.

Dr Axel Heiser has been awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It gives him a year to explore the concept of a new vaccination technique that would be more effective and longer lasting than what is available at present. . .

Wasps to fight colding moth ‘will reduce need for spray‘:

Pipfruit New Zealand says a new biological control agent for codling moth could save apple growers millions of dollars a year in spray costs.

The wasp, Matrus ridens, originates in Kazakhstan and has been successful in helping control the moth in the United States.

On Thursday Plant and Food Research released 1000 of the parasitoid wasps into a Hawke’s Bay orchard. . .

Wool growers asked to put money into another international marketing venture:

Strong wool growers are being asked for up to $10 million to step up the scope of international marketing firm Wools of New Zealand.

Wools of New Zealand has been funded by the wool market development fee since 2010 and wants to raise $10 million by issuing shares to wool growers at $1 apiece. The marketing company was spun out of PGG Wrightson into a grower’s trust last year and is the latest attempt to build a central promotional body for the wool sector.

The Christchurch-based company needs to raise at least $5 million, and plans to use some of the funds to repay a $1.87 million loan owed to its shareholder, Wools of New Zealand Trust. The remaining funds will go to developing marketing and royalty earning programmes and to build supply chains. . .

More Fonterra farms in China:

Fonterra has signed a dairy farm investment agreement with local authorities in China’s Yutian County.

The agreement – forecast earlier this year by NBR ONLINE – paves the way for two more large-scale dairy farms to be developed for $100 million in Hebei province, which will complete the dairy giant’s goal of a five-farm “hub”.

The company says in a statement the two farms, 120 kilometres east of Beijing, will house more than 3000 milking cows each and collectively produce up to 65 million litres of milk a year.


Rural round-up

October 12, 2012

Business skill vital for farming success – Ali Tocker:

Business skills are crucial to high-performing and profitable farms, new research from DairyNZ shows.

The research covered 150 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury, and identified the key characteristics of the top-performing farms.

It took the top quarter of farms surveyed, ranked on operating profit per hectare, and identified their common characteristics.

“It’s not animal husbandry, feed or people management – the biggest skill gap is in the business area,” DairyNZ economist Matthew Newman said. . .

Lamb prices hurting Americans - Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers are not the only lamb producers facing tough times.

North American sheep farmers have had a 40 per cent drop in lamb prices with values now sitting where they were a decade ago, Beef+Lamb North American representative Andrew Burt said.

Mr Burt is back in New Zealand having recently taken up the role of Beef+Lamb’s chief economist.

US lamb producers were forecasting an over-supply of lamb for this coming season he said. . .

Alpaca breeders’ patience pays off – Peter Watson:

You need plenty of patience to breed quality alpacas.

New Zealand herds are invariably small and vary widely in quality, top animals are expensive to buy, females take almost a year to produce an offspring and twins are rare. . .

Apple orchardists on a roll south – Sandra Finny:

With little help from anyone outside of family, orchardists Peter and Danny Bennett are reaping the rewards after nearly six years of battling red tape to bring a lucrative apple growing franchise to South Canterbury.

The Bennetts, who own the established Waipopo Orchard near Temuka, are in expansion mode planting 50,000 apple trees on top of 40,000 they planted three years ago, which are already producing export crops to meet an insatiable demand for their trademark HoneyCrunch apples in US markets.

The apples are a point of difference with Southern hemisphere supply being market-led not producer-driven. . .

Unlocking the perfect sheep:

Imagine the perfect sheep; healthy, fertile, and high producing, with meat of unsurpassed eating quality and wool fit for high value markets. This is the sheep that will transform New Zealand’s sheep industry, providing higher returns to growers and elevating the fibre on which much of the New Zealand economy was built to new heights.

With assistance from the government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) is investing in production science initiatives to unlock the potential of this perfect sheep, which will thrive across a range of geographic areas and combine great quality meat and wool traits in the same animal. . .

And an interesting infographic on the difference between natural cheese and processed cheese.


Rural round-up

August 20, 2012

Shipment of branded lamb sent to Brazil:

Alliance has broken new ground in South America with its first shipment of branded lamb to Brazil.

The shipment, supplied by Southland farms, will arrive in Brazil in the middle of next month.

The lamb will be sold in 120 stores in Brazilo’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, as well as restaurants and hotels. . .

World leading treatment of animals is aim of review:

Federated Farmers will continue to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), to ensure New Zealand’s farmers have the highest levels of practicable rules around animal welfare.

“I know good animal welfare pays you back commercially and is why animal welfare legislation and associated codes of welfare matter,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers joint animal welfare spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers is active with the MPI, in ensuring pastoral farmers treat our animals in a humane and ethical way. . .

Government imports 1,205 dairy animals to boost dairy industry:

Two shipments of 1,205 dairy animals from New Zealand arrived in Cagayan de Oro City on June 18 and July 30, 2012, which are now being quarantined at the Feedlot of Del Monte Philippines, Inc. in Manolo, Fortich, Bukidnon.

This is the 13th batch of animal importation spearheaded by the National Dairy Authority (NDA) to dramatically increase dairy production and address the urgent demand for milk and dairy products in the country.  . .

2012 Forest Industry Training Awards:

New Zealand’s forestry sector will need more skilled people over the next decade as technology continues to change, more areas of forest become available for harvest, and the environmental advantages of wood products are increasingly recognised.

Ian Boyd, CEO of the Forest Industry Training and Education Council (FITEC), in releasing the names of finalists for the industry’s 2012 training and education awards, said practically every work discipline is required across the wide range of forest and wood manufacturing operations.

A total of 30 finalists have been selected by independent judges for the 2012 forest industry awards which will be held in Rotorua on September 20. . .

New Zealand Wine: Positioned for the Future:

Wine exports reach $1.18 billion, up 8%Sales (domestic and export) total 242 million litres, up 10%Tight supply means focus on higher priced segmentsNew Zealand wine is well positioned for the future.

Tighter market conditions provide new opportunities for New Zealand wines according to the June year end 2012 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers.

‘The vibrant and distinctive qualities of New Zealand wines continue to resonate with consumers in our key markets. In the past year exports value grew 8% to $1.18 billion and international sales volumes have now lifted 79% since 2008 This strong sales performance combined with a smaller 2012 vintage means a changed supply/demand dynamic for the sector in the year ahead’said Stuart Smith, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . .

Teppanyaki and Wagyu Beef On Menu in Queenstown:

A new Japanese and Teppanyaki restaurant to be launched in Queenstown early next month will also be the home of the highest quality Wagyu Beef available in New Zealand.

Kobe Cuisine will open at Queenstown’s five-star Millbrook Resort, in a building formerly occupied by Japanese restaurant Sala Sala.

Kobe Cuisine director Tony Lee said the combination of traditional Japanese cuisine, Teppanyaki grill, an à la carte Asian menu and the best quality‘fullblood’ Wagyu beef would all combine to offer the“best eating experience in the world”. . .


Cobbers and mates

January 26, 2012

It’s Australia Day.

Our cobbers and mates (is there a difference between the two?) across the Tasman are celebrating and don’t they do it well?

They have an Australia Day address – this year’s by Associate Professor Charles Teo Am, a first generation Australian.

You can listen to him delivering it and read a transcript at the link above. If you don’t have time for that, at least ponder this which applies just as much to New Zealanders:

. . .  I would like to see this Australia Day as a turning point. I want my fellow Australians, those who were born here and those who have immigrated here, to pause and think of the lives that have been sacrificed for what we take for granted today. I want everyone who finds themselves angry and intolerant to think first about the misfortunes of those who are less fortunate…such as those with cancer. I want anyone who has come from another country to embrace the Australian way of life, it has served us well. I want all Australians to see how immigrants have contributed to our nation and to appreciate that a rich and prosperous country such as ours has a moral and global responsibility to share our resources. . .

They have the Australian of the Year :

The Australian of the Year 2012, Geoffrey Rush, has now celebrated 40 years as an Australian actor, achieving the rare international distinction of the ‘Triple Crown’ – an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. . .

The Senior Australian of the Year 2012, Laurie Baymarrwangga, is an extraordinary elder from the island of Murrungga in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. . .

The Young Australian of the Year 2012 is 22 year old engineering advocate Marita Cheng of Brunswick East whose leadership is changing the occupational landscape for women by encouraging girls to pursue engineering studies and careers. . .

Australia’s Local Hero 2012 is foster mother and carer Lynne Sawyers of Darbys Falls. Lynne has shared her home, her family and her love with more than 200 children. For 15 years, she has been on call to care for lost, abused and bewildered children in heartbreaking circumstances. . .

They have family and community celebrations and they have lamb with lambassador Sam Kekovich:

They seem to have a unity we have yet to achieve over celebrating a national day. But they also have a contrary view: see Australia Day/Invasion Day: Unity/Disunity at Larvatus Prodeo.


By-products boom boosts sheep prices

October 29, 2011

When sheep prices were in the doldrums most of the fingers were pointed at the meat industry.

But meat is only part of the value of sheep and lambs. Until the last couple of seasons it wasn’t just meat prices but returns for by-products like wool, pelts, lanolin which were also low.

In the last couple of years returns from sheep and lambs has been much better, partly because of the increased demand and consequently price of meat but also because of higher demand and prices for the by-products.

Among those is lanolin, the price of which has doubled  as sheep numbers have dropped.

New Zealand Wool Services International (WSI) – one of the country’s  two scour operators – says prices for that product have almost doubled
in the past two years.

WSI chairman Derek Kirke says like wool, the price surge has been  driven by a world supply shortage, due to the drop in sheep numbers.

Tailing hasn’t finished yet but early indications are this year’s lamb tally will be well up on last season’s which was hit by big losses after the September snow.

Not all of those will be sold this season, if feed supply allows it, farmers will hold some stock back to rebuild flocks.

Demand is still expected to remain high although there will be a ceiling to the price.

Lamb is already out of reach of the budget conscious and there will consumer resistance from those with more disposable income if the price gets too much higher.


Will the good prices last?

August 22, 2011

Last season was the best in a generation for farmers, but there is reasonable confidence that bust won’t follow the boom.

Prices aren’t likely to stay at this year’s highs but Alliance Group expects protein markets to stay strong:

Speaking in Oamaru during the company’s annual series of shareholder/supplier meetings, chief executive Grant Cuff said it was expected 2012 prices to shareholders would remain high for lamb, sheep, cattle and deer.

Indicative pricing was that lamb would remain at $100 plus and sheep at $85 plus, with cattle prices down slightly.

Sheep and beef numbers were stable worldwide, consumption of meat was increasing and there were growing sales in the East.

Uncertainty in Britain, Europe and the USA is concerning but our two most important trading partners, Australia and China, are more stronger.

A free trade deal with India would provide more opportunities.

One of the benefits of new markets in Asia is that they are interested in the cheaper cuts which aren’t popular in our traditional markets.


There’s hogget and there’s hogget

August 20, 2011

My farmer noticed the price on the lamb rack I’d bought to serve friends for dinner and wasn’t impressed.

I didn’t think to point out that someone who makes a living selling stock shouldn’t complain about the price.

But next time I was at the supermarket I bypassed the lamb in favour of hogget chops which I grilled and served for dinner.

They were so tough I gave up after half a chop. My farmer persevered with one before giving the rest to the dog.

He then looked at the label on the package the meat had come in snorted.

Hoggets are supposed to be one-year old sheep but my farmer spends a lot of time at stock sales and reckons that butchers buy anything from one to three year-olds.

The chops I’d bought were definitely from a sheep at the older end of that range. They would probably have been okay if I’d casseroled them but they were definitely well past grilling.

Still, we both learned from the experience. I won’t grill hogget chops again and he won’t complain about the price of meat I buy.

 

 


Look at retailers not producers

August 3, 2011

Federated Farmers and Fonterra are both pleased that the Commerce Commission has decided it has no basis for a price control inquiry into milk.

However, it’s not ruling out a further inquiry  into how Fonterra sets the price it pays farmers and what it charges other processors.

Sue Chetwin from Consumer is calling for a milk commissioner and  Labour and Green MPs want the Commerce select committee to launch another inquiry.

If they’re doing that, should look at the whole supply chain.

The Commerce Commission report said there was enough retail competition between  two major supermarket chains, dairies, service stations and other retailers.

I’m not so sure about that. Almost everything is more expensive at dairies, service stations and other small retailers. Those are the places you go for emergency supplies, not normal grocery shopping.

That leaves the supermarket duopoly.

It is difficult comparing prices here with those overseas because of the exchange rate and different taxes, but our observation at restaurants and supermarket during our recent trip to the USA and Canada was that food there seemed to be cheaper than it is here.

Some prices in a Walmart in Canada were: beef mince $9.50/kg; T bone $16.22; sirloin $11.10; stir fry $15.06; roast beef $12.06; bacon $10.44; pork tenderloin $10.96; pork chops $8.80.

I don’t have local comparison for these, but a  New Zealand boneless leg  lamb was selling for $14.92/kg  at Walmart, I saw it priced at $29.99/kg at a New World  here yesterday.

A frozen leg of New Zealand lamb was $13.62/kg.

It looked good but beside it were Walmart’s own brand of frozen loin chops selling for $20/kg. The bag was full of ice and had they been a tenth the price we might have contemplated buying them for dog meat.

Eggs were $2.98/dozen; skim milk cost $1.38/litre, full cream milk was $2.77/litre..

Cheddar cheese cost $13.43/kg which, taking the exchange rate into account, wouldn’t be much different form here.

The only thing that was far more expensive – and to our admittedly biased taste buds, not nearly as nice – was ice cream. A small cone cost $5.

Prices recorded at one supermarket and the gut reaction from purchases at other supermarkets and restaurants aren’t much to build a case on.

But our overwhelming impression was that food was cheaper and we wondered how much that had to do with greater competition between supermarkets there in contrast to the duopoly which operates here.

If there’s to be an investigation into food prices it needs to be a thorough one which includes retailers not just producers and processors.


High lamb price cause for celebration not outrage

May 17, 2011

Phil Goff was reportedly outraged at the price of lamb during his weekend supermarket shop.

“We bought some chops, half a dozen chops – it was 15 bucks for that.”

Shock, horror, after several years of prices which barely covered the price of production, if that, farmers are getting a decent return. That’s coming from the demand for our meat on international markets and those prices are reflected in our supermarkets and butcheries.

The increasing price of food isn’t easy for people on low to middle incomes. But they’re boosting export income which is helping economic growth and that is the only sustainable way to boost jobs and wages.

It’s only three years ago that Federated Farmers’ T150 campaign which set a target of $150 for lambs was considered unrealistic. This season prices have been passing that – getting up to $199 at Temuka last week.

That is a cause for celebration, not outrage. Higher prices for primary produce are the seeds from which our much needed recovery will grow.


Lamb prices bouyant, crop down

May 10, 2011

The Southland blizzard, spring storms in the North Island and dairy conversions have taken their toll on this season’s lamb crop.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service announced today after reviewing the provisional half-year lamb slaughter numbers that total lamb production is on track to reach the forecast figure of 19.3 million head for the current season. This season is 7.7 per cent less than the 2009-10 season and is less than the 19.5 million head forecast in the November 2010 Lamb Crop report. This is the lowest lamb slaughter figure since the 1960-61 season.

Supply is down and prices are up and look bouyant for the rest of the season.

Lower global supply, including lower than usual exports from Australia, have led to higher mutton prices with record highs throughout the season even though our export mutton volumes are higher.

 Based on the provisional half-year slaughter numbers, we still expect at least 4 million head of mutton to be processed, which is 9.9 per cent more than last season.” Anecdotal comment suggests farmers are culling the bottom end of their flocks to take advantage of higher mutton prices and this could lift the mutton volume a further 5 per cent (0.2 million). In turn this may have an offset with more lambs kept as replacements lowering the export lamb slaughter by a similar number. Lamb prices for April averaged $116 per head and were up 53 per cent on last year’s $76 per head for the same month. Similarly mutton prices are up 63 per cent on 12 months ago and for April averaged $97 per head.

The last three seasons have been very tough for sheep farmers. This season’s improved returns for lamb and mutton and  are very welcome, especially when pelts and wool are also receiving better prices.


Restaurants should take note of 70g message

February 21, 2011

The good news is that red meat is good for you  and not linked to heart disease.

A report demolishes the ‘myths and misconceptions’ about the meat, saying that most people eat healthy amounts which are not linked to greater risk of disease.

Modern farming methods have cut fat levels, which can be even lower than chicken, while red meat provides high levels of vital nutrients, including iron.

A vegetarian having a Cheddar cheese salad will eat seven times more fat, pound for pound, than lean red meat contains, says a review by the British Nutrition Foundation.

But findings the World Cancer Foundation isn’t so positive and the report reinforces the message that red meat should be eaten in moderation to reduce the risk of bowel cancer: 

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) . . .  said, ‘Although the evidence is not conclusive, as a precaution, it may be advisable for intakes of red and processed meat not to increase above the current average (70g/day) and for high consumers of red and processed meat (100g/day or more) to reduce their intakes.’

A daily total of 70g is equivalent to about three rashers of bacon

Three rashers of bacon doesn’t sound much but most restaurant servings of meat would be far greater than that and some offer steaks of three, four or more times that weight.

I enjoy lamb, steak and venison but I’m satisfied with smaller servings and often choose fish when I’m dining out because the meat servings are far too big.

It’s what you do most of the time that matters. The odd big serving of meat won’t do any harm and would help with the intake of iron, B vitamins and other nutrients but it would be good if restaurants took note of the recommendation and gave customers the choice of smaller servings.

As a producer of lamb and beef I don’t want to reduce demand. But restaurants might sell a similar total amount by selling more smaller servings to people like me who don’t order big ones.


Bank the gains, budget conservatively

February 4, 2011

When was the last time prices for lamb, wool, beef, milk and grain were all reasonable at the same time?

I can’t remember.

In the last decade or two if returns for one product was up the rest were usually down.

But this year, in spite of the high dollar, all commodities are receiving better prices.

Even Federated Farmers , is chirpy:

While appreciating commodity prices will be positive for the New Zealand economy, it is only part of the cost equation for goods for all farmers, whether you’re producing cheese or lamb.

“Global commodity prices are up. Whole Milk Powder (WMP) prices have doubled in the last 12 months, and butter is at 20 year highs because of constrained supply,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Wool and meat are also showing positive signs and the positive economic contribution of agriculture is benefiting every New Zealander, every day.

“These are sustainable prices because food is the new black. About 70 million people join the human race each year as the global population heads towards 6.9 billion.

“We are seeing strong price signals from the ANZ Commodity Price Index and from Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auction yesterday.  Food is no longer a plentiful low cost good but is now starting to reflect the real cost of production and its scarcity.

Feds is warning there could be volatility ahead and advises farmers to bank the gains and budget conservatively.

If the grapevine in our area can be taken seriously, that is what most are doing. Memories of the crash from peak prices in 2006 are too fresh for anyone sensible to think what comes up can’t go down.

McKenzie also points out that higher prices are only part of the story.

“Farmers don’t get the retail shelf price. We have to meet the full cost of production and input costs are up. Last year dairy famers had on average only 70 cents profit out of the $6.10 milk price left over for debt, taxes and in dividends.

“It’s the compliance costs we have the least control over.  In the past year we’ve had increases in local authority rates, ACC levies and particularly the impact of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) on fuel and electricity.

“Dairy farmers in particular have greater environmental expectations upon them and we have to be in the black to be green,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Many of those costs are fixed ones which we face regardless of whether prices for our produce are going up or down. We must make hay while the financial sun is shining and this time it isn’t just food that is receiving better prices, fibre is too.

We got $4.80 a kilo for crossbred lambs’ wool last week, sold some more this week and received an extra 20 cents.

My farmer thinks it’s at least 20 years since wool was earning that sort of money.

That’s a very welcome turn around from the last few years when we were lucky if the price paid for wool did anything more than cover the cost of shearing it.

Timber too is finally worth more than the cost of felling the trees.

We’ve got a plantation of pines planted about 30 years ago. Any time we’ve looked at selling the timber in recent years we’ve been told the only market would be fire wood. But now the price has gone up we’re cutting them down, cover the costs of that and replanting and still have a bit left over.

As an investment over 30 years the return wouldn’t be particularly good, but the trees were planted on a steep hillside which wouldn’t have been good for much else anyway.


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