Rural round-up

October 30, 2014

The rising star of beef - Keith Woodford:

With so much focus on the current dairy downturn, it is easy to miss the rising star of beef. This year beef prices have been hitting record highs, both in US and NZ dollars. Young steers and bulls are fetching anywhere between $1100 and $1600 at slaughter, depending on weight and category.

The key driver has been demand for hamburger beef from the United States. Demand from China has also been increasing.

The New Zealand Meat Industry Association has reported beef exports of 380,000 tonnes earning $2.2 billion dollars for the year ending June 2014. Since 2001, these exports have fluctuated between about 325,000 tonnes and just over 400,000 tonnes with no clear trend. Cull cows from the dairy industry have been contributing an increasing proportion of total production. . .

Launch of renewable energy initiative in Southland:

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of New Zealand’s first region-wide wood energy heat hub that will help fuel the Southland economy.

Wood Energy South is a joint initiative between the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland that will partner with local businesses, schools and healthcare facilities to help them convert to cleaner, renewable wood burning technology.

“Southland’s strong forestry and wood processing industry creates a rich source of wood fuel for the region. This project will help local businesses realise the renewable energy potential in their own back yard. . . .

Lee Valley Dam must be affordable:

Federated Farmers is urging the Government to support the Tasman District Council’s (TDC) Waimea Dam Project to prevent the critical shortage of water for urban and farming development.

“It’s not a matter of whether the dam goes ahead, it is how it goes ahead,” says Martin O’Connor, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“We are living in a catch 22, because the build is likely to cost irrigators $520 per hectare and increase rates by 11 cents per cubic metre a year, but our rural and urban communities cannot survive without it. . .

 Testing the mobile cow shed – Milking on the Moove:

It’s been a busy month testing out the mobile cowshed. I took this video about a month ago & I have only now found the time to put it up. I’ve been getting a few requests for a video.

It’s just a quick look at how the system works. I’m still in the testing phase & we are ironing out all the little issues. 

At the moment I’m only milking 8 cows & the neighbours are taking the milk to feed to their calves.
I can’t start selling our milk until I have been approved by the ministry of primary industries. That journey is turning out to be a bit of a drama, but I’ll write about that another day. . . .

Sanford takes on KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover new processing technologies for mussels:

Sanford Limited is taking on a KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover novel proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help it process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels. Today, researchers at New Zealand’s public research organisations will be pitching ideas to improve mussel processing in Nelson at the Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop in a bid to win $5,000 of prototype development funding and the opportunity to work with Sanford to develop their solution for commercial application.

Sanford’s Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley says, “Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential. While we’re looking for a winning idea, we’re keen to investigate all good ideas, so we may end up with more research projects.” . . .

New fund to assist the growth of New Zealand dairy farming:

Dairy farmers looking to grow their family business will soon have access to a new source of funding, with the launch of an innovative new investment vehicle, the NZ Dairy Farming Trusts.

The Trusts – a joint venture between New Zealand farm investment company MyFarm Limited and German alternative-fund manager Aquila Capital – is seeking to raise up to $100 million from international and domestic wholesale investors. **

The initiative is aimed at providing the New Zealand dairy industry with much needed new capital in order to realise its economic potential. The fund plans to lend money at interest rates tied to milk and land prices, providing dairy farmers with alternative to taking on equity partners. . . .

Ballance moves to science specialisation:

With New Zealand farming systems as diverse as farmers themselves, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Science Extension team is making the shift to specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil types and farm types.

Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says knowledge about soils, fertiliser, forages and nutrient budgets is fundamental to support farmers in reaching their goals, and the demand for more specialised knowledge is growing rapidly.

“We have two driving factors. First, higher environmental demands mean farmers are now working within tighter controls around nutrient management and protecting water quality. There is no one simple solution for each farm and it is not just a case of managing fertiliser. Feeding regimes, stocking rates, stock movements and soil types all have an influence and they will vary from farm to farm. . .

 

Ballance Ward B Election draws record field:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ call last month for director nominations for its Ward B has yielded 9 candidates hoping to replace Dean Nikora who resigned as a director ahead of taking up an international posting.

Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke, says he is delighted that Ward B shareholders have such a strong field of candidates to choose from and he believes that 9 is a record.

“The strong field indicates that we have shareholders who recognise this is an excellent opportunity to contribute to the governance of our co-operative, which is close to being a $1 billion business in terms of revenue. Having high quality candidates for director vacancies is vital to the success of our co-operative, and the response to our call for nominations has certainly achieved that. We have a very good mix with six men and three women seeking election. . .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2014

No need for capital gains tax – experts – Andrea Fox:

Labour’s proposal to introduce a capital gains tax will reduce farmland values and add a new layer of bureaucracy but will give farm business succession planning a positive boost, tax experts say.

However, mostly it would simply duplicate taxes already enshrined in income tax law, they said.

Labour’s election policy promotes a capital gains tax from 2016 on property sales, including farmland, though not the farm family home. 

The party is targeting property speculators in the housing market, but farmers would be affected. . . .

We’re mobile milking – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been milking for 3 weeks now and it’s been a hectic 3 weeks. I’ve finally got a moment for a quick update.

I’m really happy with how the cowshed is operating. The second hand milking plant runs really well, the cows are walking on to the cowshed happily & I’ve learned how to manoeuvre the cowshed through gateways and up and down hills, while keeping both gateways & the cowshed in one piece.

It’s funny how over the last year I have thought about how to design various parts of the cowshed & pondered every little detail. Yet it only took 10 minutes of the first milking for me realise I had made mistakes with the layout of equipment etc.”>I’ll be honest, the first milking did not go to plan. I have bought 7 Heifer cows. They had just calved and they have never being milked before let alone on a mobile trailer with no yards to contain them. . .

Environment research focus for red meat sector - Sue O’Dowd:

An organisation funded by the country’s sheep and beef farmers is doing its best to help them deal with the juggernaut that is the environment, says a director.

Beef+Lamb NZ (B+L NZ) director Kirsten Bryant was addressing this week’s annual meeting of the Western North Island Farmer Council (WNIFC) in Stratford.

Increasingly, B+L NZ was turning its attention to helping farmers manage the challenges of the environment.

“It’s like digging a hole and throwing money into it,” she said.

“But it’s not a conversation we can avoid. We want outcomes that are great for sheep and beef farmers and to show leadership around environmental responsibilities.” . . .

 WEL change opens door to PWC shareholding – Jackie Harrigan:

Wool Growers are no longer the only group allowed to own shares in wool investment holding company Wool Equities Ltd (WEL).

A special WEL meeting on Friday changed the constitution to allow share ownership by any entity engaged in wool activities, including woolgrowers, grower groups, trading entities, and wool processors.

The change was sought to allow WEL to issue 5% of its equity to grower group Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) for $50,000. . .

Scholarship win scores US beef industry conference – Gerald Piddock:

King Country rural professional James Bryan will travel to the United States next month after being selected as an ambassador at this year’s Five Nations Beef Alliance conference and young leaders programme.

Bryan beat 13 other applicants to win the Beef + Lamb New Zealand scholarship, which covered the full cost of travelling to and attending the conference, to be held in Corpus Christi and Austin, Texas in October.

The scholarship is offered annually to New Zealanders aged 22-32, who are working in, and have a passion for, the beef industry. . .


Rural round-up

July 27, 2014

Changes likely in lakes camping – David Bruce:

Thousands of campers who pour in to Waitaki lakes camp sites during summer face some major changes in management by the Waitaki District Council.

Most of the camps could be handed over to private operators under leases or contracts, but before any final decisions are made, people will be asked what they want.

That is likely to be contentious. Similar proposals in the past have caused consternation among some campers.

But they could also look at the Mackenzie District Council’s Haldon Arm Camp, which is administered by the Haldon Arm Reserve Trust Board, made up of campers. . .

Water deal celebrated – Sally Brooker:

Compromise and co-operation are being hailed as the main ingredients in a South Canterbury agreement on nitrogen limits.

Farmers in the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury catchment had asked their Environment Canterbury zone committee for more time to work on allocating nitrogen emissions, within the maximum already set to meet the goals of a healthy environment and vibrant economy.

Since February, the farmers have held more than 10 meetings, with ECan supplying technical advisers. After fearing they would not agree, they eventually did.” . . .

Asian markets driving growth for NZ food & beverage exports:

Consumer demand in East and South East Asia for high value foods and beverages is driving export growth and diversification, a new Government report shows.

‘What does Asia Want for Dinner? Emerging Market Opportunities for New Zealand food & beverages in East & South East Asia’ was released today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The report finds that New Zealand’s overall food and beverage export performance to Asia is excellent; performing strongly in dairy, as well as in meat, seafood, produce and processed foods.

“Asia is the fastest growing food market in the world and is increasingly important for New Zealand exports”, Mr Joyce says. . .

Māori agribusiness showcased to international delegation:

New Zealand’s Māori agribusiness programmes are on show this week, as delegates from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies visit New Zealand to address common barriers to rural economic development. Through case studies and on-farm visits, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will share experiences learned while helping to build the capability of New Zealand’s rural economic development.

The visiting delegates from Peru, Indonesia, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines will attend a two-day APEC PPFS Rural Development workshop from 22-24 July 2014, hosted by MPI and the Northland Māori agribusiness partners.

“Food security is a common APEC challenge with increasing demands and a need to focus on sustainable productivity,” says MPI’s Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton. . .

Don’t write of dairying MyFarm says:

People should not be in any hurry to write off dairy farming just because prices have taken a dive, MyFarm executive director Andrew Watters says.

The average whole milk powder price in the Fonterra GlobalDairyTrade auctions has fallen by 38 percent since February.

Dairy farmers and economists say with the recent sharp drop in prices, it is inevitable Fonterra’s $7 per kilogram of milksolids price forecast will come down – one predicted as low as $6.

But Mr Watters said predictions of the end of the good times in the dairy industry were premature.

He pointed out that Fonterra only sold only about a third of its product at the auction, and that volumes at recent auctions had been low.

The positive, longer-term outlook for dairy farming had not changed, he said. . .

Grow Movie – A Great Documentary Which Outlines Young Urbanites Turning To Farming - Milking on the Moove:

I watched the Grow Movie the other night. 

It’s a documentary that tells the story of how young urban people are being attracted to farming.

The movie follows a few young farmers in the US state of Georgia. We learn how they found themselves farming & why they love it.

Most of the people were highly educated with degrees in finance, engineering & soil science etc, but they have chosen the small scale rural lifestyle. . .

MPI introduces new biosecurity sniffers

Two young biosecurity sniffers were introduced to the world today, along with a new type of detector dog and a new home for the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Auckland-based canine team.

Beagle puppies Darcie (girl) and Darwin (boy), collectively known as D-litter, were born by caesarean in May to working detector dog Zuma under the MPI detector dog breeding programme.

Steve Gilbert, MPI Director Border Clearance Services says the MPI breeding programme “provides a cost-effective way of producing fit-for-purpose biosecurity detector dogs”.

The programme has produced 27 litters since 1996 and nearly 80 percent of the individual puppies have become successful biosecurity detector dogs. . .

Brits buy record amount of NZ wine:

New Zealand premium wine sales soar in the UK market

New Zealand wine has become the number 2 country of origin in the UK market for wine sold over £7 according to the latest Nielsen data (MAT 21-6-14). New Zealand now sells 18% of all wines sold in this premium price segment, having overtaken Australia and now sits behind France.

The latest statistics also show New Zealand’s average price per bottle has increased to £7.34 from £6.79 – an 8.1% increase (Nielsen MAT 21-6-14). . . . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Welcome Boost to Horticulture Industry:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) has welcomed the Government’s plans to get more Kiwis into seasonal work, and its decision to increase the annual Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap to a total of 9000 workers.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says this boost to seasonal workers is essential in delivering the industry’s forecasted future growth.

“The kiwifruit industry is recovering quickly from Psa and is poised for big future growth. Over the next few years we are going to see a significant increase in Gold3 volume. . . .


Orange and red flags ignored

October 10, 2013

Months after the precautionary recall of products containing whey protein which was later proved to be clear of botulism there is still a lot of confusion about what happened.

Keith Woodford explains it was all about orange and red flags:

. . . It all started back in May 2012 when some plastic came loose in a whey concentrate dryer at the Hautapu plant near Hamilton. The risk was that this plastic had got smashed up and possibly melted within the dryer, and then mixed with the whey.

The only way to find out for sure was to hydrate the whey powder (which is soluble) and then filter out any solids.  For reasons not clear, Fonterra chose to do this using equipment that had not been used recently.  Unfortunately the equipment had not been properly cleaned.

Once hydrated and then re-dried, the product passed the mandatory bacterial tests, but did have a level somewhat higher than typical.

By this stage there should have been two orange flags but the Fonterra system recognised neither.  The first was that once the product had been reprocessed, then it should have been drafted away from human use and used for stock feed. The second orange flag was when the re-processed whey powder gave elevated but technically acceptable bacterial counts. Once again, this should have been enough to restrict its use to stock feed. . .

He explains what happened next and about the testing in the clearest summary I have come across. It is very interesting reading.

He then gets on to the ongoing fallout:

. . . As events have turned out, it is now apparent that it was a false alarm. Further testing overseas has confirmed that in fact it was not botulinum.  However, great damage to Fonterra’s and New Zealand’s reputation occurred, with the recall being splashed globally in the news media, and particularly so in China  where many of Fonterra’s products are sold. In fact I am writing this from China, and I can confirm that it has very much come to the attention of Chinese consumers.

It will be interesting to see how this now plays out. Here in China there is no doubt that Danone in particular has suffered great damage, with their leading infant formula brand Dumex being particularly badly hit. (Dumex is the equivalent of ‘Karicare’ in New Zealand, with Karicare being marketed by  Danone’s  Nutricia subsidiary.)  .

Earlier this week, in a Shanghai supermarket, there was a message over the in-store radio every five minutes advising that the Fonterra food safety scare was actually a false alarm. But unofficial sources tell me that sales of the Dumex brand are still hugely affected, with up to 90% loss of sales. Consumers have moved to other brands and now have to be painstakingly won back. A Google search using Chinese characters for ‘poisonous’ and ‘milk powder’ and ‘Dumex’ produces over one million references. . .

There is an irony that Fonterra’s milk powder is still flowing into China unimpeded, and prices for these bulk products have not suffered.  It is the consumer brands that are not owned by Fonterra that have suffered. . .

It isn’t just milk products which are affected:

Glen Herud at Milking on the Moove was speaking to a food safety consultant recently:

He has a client who manufactures and sells blackberry powder to the Asian market.

His product has been stopped from entering into some Asian countries. 

He was notified by his customer via an email in broken English explaining that they won’t purchase anymore product because botulism was in New Zealand products. . . 

Inquiries into exactly what went wrong at Fonterra and the subsequent handling of the issue are continuing and so are the consequences.

Whatever comes out of the inquiries, all food processors need to be sure they have systems which recognise and respond appropriately to orange flags long before any red ones are raised.


Rural round-up

October 8, 2013

On Farm Productivity Is Good, But The Big Money Is Made From Off Farm Productivity – Milking on the Moove:

There’s a lot of talk about productivity in New Zealand these days.

But are we focusing on the right areas?

The government has set a target of doubling the primary sectors export earnings from $32 Billion to $64 Billion by 2025.

Nobody doubts that this is a difficult ask.

New Zealand’s primary sector has a strong record of productivity gains.

The sheep industry alone has increase productivity (expressed as meat sold /ewe) by 80% over the last 25 years.

That’s 2.5% productivity gain every year. Any business analyst will agree that that is impressive.

But are sheep farmers any better off?

Despite 20 years of productivity gains sheep farmers recently experienced their lowest level of profitability, according to Beef & Lamb NZ data. . .

Setting a pathway to a sustainable future – James Houghton:

The judges ruling on the One Plan has got everyone claiming a win, which is an unexpected result coming from two sides who have always been quite opposing in their views. What a fantastic result Honorary Justice Stephen Kòs has managed to keep both sides happy! For us it has allowed us, in conjunction with the regional council, to come up with a workable solution to the One Plan.

I was sitting next to a Fish & Game representative last Tuesday and I said that the primary industries are committed to putting money into getting good science around achieving the goals of healthy rivers and work forward for sensible solutions. I don’t know where he has been hiding for the past few years because he was quite surprised.

The plan as it now sits means everything is about making the pathway to improvements on farm achievable, and that’s all we ever wanted. It is all part of managing risk and making the most of the resources we have. But at the same time other stakeholders like Fish & Game and Forest & Bird need to have realistic expectations of what can be achieved through good management practice on farm. This all comes down to setting the values through open and honest consultation and this is why we are setting up the Stakeholders Group, who will represent the community in Waikato and identify where the issues are, as well as the Technical Alliance Group (TAG) who will come up with the solutions. . .

Raetihi farmers frustrated but coping:

Farmers reliant upon Raetihi’s water supply are as frustrated as the urban residents are but remain hopeful alternative water supplies maybe secured by the end of this week.

“With livestock understandingly refusing to drink from contaminated troughs, it has been a difficult week for the affected farms and especially those who draw water from Raetihi’s water supply,” says Lyn Neeson, Federated Farmers Ruapehu provincial president.

“What we need now is some heavy rain and it looks like some is on the cards for mid-week.

“Farmers are coping quite well by moving stock to alternative sources either on or off-farm. This includes on-farm water supplies like dams through to sending stock off-farm. . .

Colombian Farmers Get First-Hand Look at NZ Agri Expertise:

The New Zealand Agribusiness Centre, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade this week welcome the largest Colombian delegation to ever visit New Zealand.

Some 170 Colombian farmers are spending a week in New Zealand to get first-hand insights into New Zealand’s pastoral farming systems and agritechnology. The visit includes an exhibition and seminar with major players in New Zealand’s agriculture sector at Mystery Creek Event Centre (home of Fieldays); fieldtrips to dairy, beef and sheep farms; and a visit to Landcorp’s pastoral farm development blocks near Taupo.

Led by Fedegan, the Colombian Federation of Ranchers, the delegation to New Zealand follows Prime Minister John Key’s official visit to Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil earlier this year as part of the Government’s increased focus on strengthening bilateral relations and capitalising on trade opportunities with Latin America nations. . .

NZ study tour on offer for international farmers:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today announced a new programme for overseas farmers to spend time in New Zealand on an agri-tech study tour.

“Four places a year will be available for farmers to spend up to three weeks here, looking at improved agricultural productivity and reducing on-farm methane emissions,” says Mr Guy.

“This programme will be fully funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries and will help promote New Zealand’s agribusiness expertise overseas.

“My recent trip to South America has reinforced to me just how well respected New Zealand is overseas for the success of our agricultural sector. . .

Federated Farmers aids New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy:

Federated Farmers has successfully tabled a paper at the World Farmers Organisation that could greatly contribute to New Zealand’s global agricultural diplomacy.

“I am pleased to say New Zealand’s proposal to invite farming organisations has been warmly received by the World Farmers Organisation and will further our country’s global outreach and engagement,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The World Farmers Organisation is currently writing to our Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to agree a programme for farmers from developed or developing countries to travel to New Zealand for an agri-tech study tour.

“We envisage each visit will be coordinated by MPI but will involve industry good bodies, research institutions and ourselves. It will enable visiting farmers to spend two to three weeks working alongside our farming community and agricultural science sectors. . .

NZCTA urges positive action in light of botulism scare:

The New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA) is urging industry and Government to work together to learn serious lessons from the Fonterra botulism scare. Official reviews have yet to be published, but the NZCTA is encouraging its members to continue to monitor the situation with respect to the China market.

“There is no doubt that the incident has damaged New Zealand’s image as a source of safe, high quality food products and the implications of this have been felt in terms of earnings for a number of our members, and this is unlikely to be fully resolved until New Zealand can prove that it has adequate systems in place to safeguard the industry and export markets” says Association Chairman Tim White. . .

City-fringe farm with a history of dairy and cattle grazing goes on the market for sale:

A dairy support farm described as being ‘as close to the city as you can get without being a lifestyle block’ has been placed on the market for sale.

The 185 hectare unit near the township of Waiuku in the Counties region of Auckland is a sheep farm which has been converted into a cattle and finishing block capable of running up to 650 head of cattle.

The farm is divided into some 40 paddocks and raced for efficient stock movement and separation. This year the farm has stocked 100 dairy heifer yearlings, 150 dairy heifer calves, 200 beef yearlings and 200 beef calves. . .


Rural round-up

August 8, 2013

Fonterra launches probe into food scare:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has launched an investigation into a food contamination scare after accounting for the potentially tainted product.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told a briefing in Auckland all affected whey protein and its derivatives had been contained internationally, and he was satisfied the contamination scare had stabilised. The dairy company has launched an investigation into the “human error” that caused the failure, and introduced extra testing until the probe is completed, Spierings said.

“An internal investigation has already started and it’s also likely that we will go for an external investigation,” Spierings said. “Fonterra will keep everybody in the loop and informed of our findings.” . . .

Conclusion of NDRC investigation

Fonterra Co-operative Group today confirmed it has been issued with an administrative fine of approximately NZD 900,000 (RMB 4.47 million) following the conclusion of the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) review of pricing practices in the mainland of China for consumer dairy products.

“Fonterra has been co-operating fully and openly with the NDRC throughout this process. We accept the NDRC’s findings and we believe the investigation leaves us with a much clearer understanding of expectations around implementing pricing policies which is useful as we progress our future business plans,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“We understand that a number of companies in the dairy industry were fined, with Fonterra’s fine being in the lowest range.” . . .

To change perceptions farmers need to connect – Milking on the Moove:

It’s a perception Issue

I often hear people in the agricultural sector say things like “We need to remove the emotion from the issue” or “It’s a perception problem”.

We will never remove emotion from decisions, because everybody forms judgments based on their emotions, past experience and prejudices.

People make snap judgements

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink”. In his book he outlines research that shows people make judgements on a person, product, brand based on very small amounts of information.

He says that once a judgement has been made, a person is unlikely to change their mind. . .

Stress on Rural Business Prompts New Initiative From Business Mentors:

Business Mentors New Zealand has announced a new initiative to increase business mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand, which are facing increasing levels of stress worsened by the aftermath of the recent drought, tighter regulations on health and safety, and environmental controls.

The new initiative supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment sees the $150 Business Mentors’ registration fee waived for businesses in areas where a medium-scale drought was declared. The country’s 17 Business Mentoring agencies are being encouraged to place greater emphasis on supporting rural enterprises. . .

‘I’d never buy Fonterra milk,’ says man purchasing three bottles of Anchor – The Civilian:

A man at a local supermarket has told a 17-year-old cashier that he would “never buy Fonterra milk,” particularly after this week’s contamination scandal, and said that this is why he’s made the conscious decision as a consumer to purchase Anchor milk instead.

The man, 29-year-old Brandon Gray, said he was “pretty savvy” when it came to selecting his products, and he wouldn’t let Fonterra’s domination of the dairy industry prevent him from expressing his disapproval of their operations. . . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2013

Debt puts pressure on large companies to achieve solution – Allan Barber:

If there was ever a compelling reason for the meat companies to sort out the problems of procurement competition and excess capacity, the debt levels on the balance sheets of the big three at the end of last season provide one.

Between them they stacked up combined current and non-current borrowings of $710 million, 45% of these on Silver Fern Farms’ books, 28% on Alliance’s and 27% on ANZCO’s. No wonder they can’t afford another loss-making year like 2011/12 which makes this year so important for getting back into as healthy a condition as possible.

The forecast livestock volumes, especially sheep and lambs, for the next four years place a great deal of pressure on the companies to find a solution urgently before procurement competition breaks out yet again. MPI’s Situation and Outlook Report which came out in June predicts a gradual recovery in values, but livestock numbers and export tonnages are virtually static or declining, because of the effects of the drought, herd and flock rebuilding and the impact of dairy on land use. . .

Ballance pays record rebate after record performance:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients shareholders are in line for a record rebate and dividend of $65/tonne, along with a recommended 60 cent increase in the value of their co-operative’s shares to $8.10.

The rebate averaging $60.83 per tonne and a fully imputed dividend of 10 cents per share will be paid out nearly six weeks earlier during mid-August, with Ballance Chairman David Graham saying the payment has been brought forward to reward shareholders and assist them with cash flows at the start of the season.

“The drought may be over but the financial impacts are not, so we are fast-tracking the payment for shareholders in recognition of that so they can gain the full benefits of a good year for their co-operative as quickly as possible.” . . .

AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

 With food being to New Zealand what ‘Silicon Valley’ is to the United States’ technology sector, Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch’s strategic move to create two major research campuses supplemented by two smaller ones.

“Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch in what is an important strategic move for it and New Zealand,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Its masterplan is about supporting primary exports to reach $64 billion by 2025.

“We cannot deny there is a human element to this change and while 40 positions are slated to go, the actual number will be low given this is a four- year transition. That said, it will require a number of staff and their families to consider where their long-term futures lie.

“Federated Farmers is encouraged to see that no staff will be required to relocate until 2016. . .

Reduce nitrate leaching with mobile milking system – Milking on the Moove:

Unconventional ways to reduce nitrate leaching

Part 1 
A few weeks ago I explained how agroforestry is a farming system that is able to reduce nitrate leaching.

Part 2
Today I will talk about how a dairy farming system based around a mobile cowshed is able to reduce the level of nitrate leaching.

A traditional cowshed is in a fixed location. The cows have to be within walking distance of the cowshed because they need to get milked twice a day.

The main cause of nitrate leaching on dairy farms in the cows urine patch.

For this reason, the cows are always grazed on the same block of land surrounding the cowshed. . .

Honouring the unsung young heroes of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry:

Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Friday 2 August 2013.

Hawke’s Bay is internationally renowned for its wine. The local wineries and winemakers are household names, with exceptional reputations in New Zealand and further afield.

Less well known, but just as crucial to the crafting of world-beating wine, are the viticulturists. They are intimately involved in all aspects of vineyard management; their extraordinary knowledge ensuring winemakers have the best possible grapes to work with after each harvest.

The region’s best up-and-coming viticulturists are being honoured on Friday 2 August at the Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. This is being held at Mission Estate – their viticulturist Caine Thompson took out the Hawke’s Bay competition in 2009. He went on to win the national awards, before being named New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year. . .

Technology could be future boon for kiwifruit growers:

A new online system is being developed that might one day help kiwifruit growers make decisions on when to spray orchards for pests and diseases. The system is in the early stages of development in a joint project between the University of Waikato and Plant & Food Research (PFR).

The web-based tool is should help reduce time and costs associated with pest monitoring in kiwifruit orchards and spray application.

The current process of physically monitoring pest levels is time consuming, says University of Waikato summer research scholarship student Michael Fowke.

“Spraying is a necessary exercise for growers and a lot of time is spent trying to identify when or whether spraying is needed,” he says. “It will need a lot more testing in the field but potentially this system could cut that time down considerably.” . .

Iwi Suggests To Pull Plug on Dam:

At a Hui an Iwi held at Matahiwi marae last night, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated was asked by several Heretaunga hapū to oppose the Ruataniwha Dam project on their behalf.

The main reasons given were inadequate consultation, selective information release, and the failure by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to recognize and acknowledge the Tino Rangatiratanga that hapū had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial. . .

Keen-To-Learn Farmer Turns to Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Information and Inspiration:

Returning to the family farm five years ago was an in-the-deep-end experience for Waikato farmer James Bailey and his wife Ella.

‘Momona’, a 440ha (effective) Tirau sheep and beef farm, had been in the Bailey family for five generations, so James was eager to start off on the right foot. While he was mindful of the work performed by past generations, he was also keen to improve the environmental sustainability of the business.

James, a keen surfer, is co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines – an award-winning registered charity that organises coastal clean-ups, educational programmes and riparian plantings. . .


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