Rural round-up

July 24, 2014

 

 

Kiwi red meat really starting to sizzle – Graham Turley:

“When the first shipment of red meat sailed from Dunedin in 1882, it was a turning point for New Zealand’s economy. Now the red meat sector faces another turning point having lost out to dairy as NZ’s star export.

For the past two decades red meat’s low profits, lack of reinvestment, wide differences in performance between farms and a troubling misalignment between farmers, processors, and markets, have seen its glorious past recede into memory.

On-farm production figures show how the gap with dairy has grown. Between 1993 and 2013 dairy farmers increased per hectare output from just over 600kg of milk solids a hectare to over 1,000kg, while production of meat and fibre per hectare was almost flat, averaging about 130kg. . . .

The dominant role of agribusiness co-operatives - Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about the Farmlands co-operative which, together with other co-operatives dominate the farm supplies sector. I suggested that farmers have a natural affinity for co-operatives. This is because these co-operatives, which are owned by the farmer members, exist for the purpose of working in farmers’ interests.

Whereas Farmlands and similar co-operatives such as RD1 and Ashburton trading Society (ATS) are merchant traders who have their own retail stores, there is also a range of other farmer co-operatives that supply specific and specialist inputs, either directly to farmers or through the merchants.

Most notable of the specialist supply co-operatives are the Ravensdown Fertiliser and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients co-operatives. They are of similar size, each with about $1 billion of annual revenue. Between them, they have over 90% of the fertiliser market. . .

 Speech to GIA signing with NZ Pork – Nathan Guy:

It’s great to be here today to witness the signing of the Government Industry Agreement Deed by the New Zealand Pork Industry.

This is a historic day. It’s the result of the hard work over several years of both industry and government to realise the benefits of working in partnership. 

There is a simple but important principle behind the GIA: by working together, we are stronger.

This agreement means we can share our expertise, experience and knowledge to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response.

Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding.

In May this year, the Kiwifruit industry became the first signatory to the GIA Deed. I’m very pleased to have the pork industry onboard as the first animal sector industry into GIA. . .

 

Is the future for our sheep their milk? Peter Kerr:

Being the farm raised boy I am, I’m keen on the idea of clever new and profitable products from our ability to convert sunlight, soil and water into them.

So, Blue River Dairy, the sheep milk products company which is over 10 years old, is something to keep an eye on.

It is the creation of Keith Neylon, a 60-something entrepreneur, who has had previous lives in deer recovery (owned 10 helicopters at one stage) and salmon farming (co-pioneered its development in NZ) among other things.

He was semi-talked into exploring sheep milk potential by a meat company chairman – and saw opportunity. . .

Looking for a home where the buffalo roam? – Nick Heydon:

A PROPERTY that previously grew bananas and was more recently home to cattle has been transformed over the past couple of years into what is a highly unusual rural listing – a wildlife retreat home to deer, buffalo and a range of other species.

Some cattle do still remain on the 311 hectare (770ac) Queensland property “Mountain Creek”, abut 30 kilometres south west of Gympie, but when current owners Michael and Kate Read purchased the grazing land they decided to fulfil a dream of building up a wilderness retreat.

Selling reluctantly for health reasons, the Reads have decided to offer the property on a walk-in walk-out basis with animals included in the sale, meaning buyers can take advantage of much of the hard work that has gone into selecting species for this rare offering. . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2014

Medium scale adverse event declared in Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has declared a medium-scale adverse event for the primary sector in storm-hit Northland.

“This will provide the overarching framework for any Government support as assessments continue to be made.

“The first stage of this is to provide funding for Northland Rural Support Trust (NRST) to deliver help, support, and management advice to farmers and growers. The Trust have been working closely with MPI and local authorities to determine what’s required in the clean-up phase after severe flooding and wind damage.

“The storm has impacted around 80% of the primary sector in Northland with very high winds and heavy rainfall over a solid four day period. I’ve seen for myself the damage today at an avocado orchard severely damaged by wind and dairy farms near Whangarei under water. . .

Grower quits after $100,000 avo thefts – Kristin Edge:

Northland avocado growers are being warned to be on high alert for fruit thieves with one Whangarei grower estimating $100,000 worth of fruit has been stolen over the past five years.

The Whangarei grower, who did not want to be identified because she feared for her safety, said her orchard had been continually targeted by thieves and she was selling up due to the financial losses and emotional stress.

The latest theft comes only days after an industry-wide warning was issued to growers to be extra vigilant to protect the new season’s crop. . .

Farmers focus on debt – Jeremy Tauri:

We spend a lot of time worrying about the residential property market, if prices are out of control and how young people will get their first homes.

But although we have focused on the price of a house and section in the suburbs, many people have ignored what’s been happening out of town.

The rural sector is the biggest driver of this country’s economy and in the regions we feel the impact of farmers’ fortunes even more acutely. But although we’ve been bemoaning that, nationwide, house prices have increased two-and-a-half times since 2000, rural land prices have trebled. Real Estate Institute statistics show the median price a hectare for farms sold in the three months to May 2014 was $25,017. . . .

Shepherd makes tracks to France - Sally Rae:

Come September it will be ”au revoir Waihaorunga” and ”bonjour France” for young South Canterbury shepherd Alex Reekers.

Mr Reekers (23), a member of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club, and Mitchel Hoare (19), of Te Kuiti Young Farmers Club, will represent New Zealand at the final of the World Young Shepherds Challenge in Auvergne, France, in September.

The pair earned the top scores in the preliminary round of the challenge, held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest grand final at Lincoln. . . .

Trust works more at top of the cliff – Sally Rae:

The Otago Rural Support Trust’s emphasis is changing.

Traditionally, the work of the trust had been ”the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”, mostly during adverse weather events like floods, snow storms and droughts.

But increasingly, the trust was ”doing more work at the top of the cliff”, assisting rural families who were under stress, chairman Gavan Herlihy, of Wanaka, said. . . .

New agri-chemicals safety campaign:

A new rural safety campaign is underway, and this one aims to encourage farmers and growers to wear the right safety gear when using agricultural chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has teamed up with agri-chemical industry body Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand for the campaign. Rural retailers are also participating by displaying posters and other information in more than 260 stores.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said the main point was to eliminate the “she’ll be right” attitude towards farm chemical and safety gear. . .


Rural round-up

July 4, 2014

Red Meat Profit Partnership tries to answer crucial question - Allan Barber:

Analysis of the objectives and methodology of the RMPP suggests the programme has highlighted the most important issue facing the red meat sector. Briefly stated, it is to work out why there is still such a significant gap between the top farmers and those in the middle of the pack and to lift the average closer to the top performers.

When the Red Meat Sector Strategy identified behind the farm gate specifically as a major area of potential improvement, there was much mumbling about why the industry structure wasn’t being more usefully exposed as the area most in need of improvement. But figures released by the B+LNZ Economic Service show this isn’t the case. . .

 Out of cow muck comes magic – Emma Rawson:

Although it has grizzly beginnings in the blood and gore of the meatworks, there is a fairytale element to the story of biomaterials company Southern Lights.

A little like the Brothers Grimm’s goblin Rumpelstiltskin, who spun straw into gold, the Napier company transforms cow byproducts which would otherwise be destined for pet food and fertiliser into extremely lucrative Type 1 polymeric collagen.

At about $50,000 a kilogram it is no exaggeration to say the polymeric collagen is worth its weight in gold – only a few thousand shy of the price of bullion. . .

Award for science professor:

Lincoln University plant science professor Derrick Moot has won an award recognising the successful application of research or experience to an aspect of animal production.

Prof Moot was presented with the New Zealand Society of Animal Production’s Sir Arthur Ward Award at the society’s 74th annual conference on Tuesday night.

Prof Moot has been identifying plant pasture species which will survive and thrive on the dry East Coast, and developing ways to incorporate them into mostly sheep and beef farming systems – but also some dairying ones.

Lucerne ticked most of the boxes as it was a legume which fixed nitrogen from the atmosphere, was high in protein and energy and also had a deeper rooting system than other pastures, he said. . .

Filthy pigs? Not on our patch … – Sue O’Dowd:

The proud co-owner of a Taranaki piggery is so confident about its cleanliness that he sometimes walks around in it in his socks.

Ron Stanley, of Oaonui, is frustrated at this week’s television portrayal of a Canterbury piggery. Filmed earlier this year, the footage showed squalid conditions, severe overcrowding, and suffering animals.

The Stanley Piggery co-owner found the footage disturbing.

“That’s not the way we keep our animals,” he said. “I always say if I can’t come over to the piggery in my socks on a dry day, then there’s a problem. . .

Farm buildings to be exempt from assessment:

Farm buildings are to be exempt from the requirements for assessments under the Government’s earthquake-prone buildings policy, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“The Government is not satisfied that the risks posed by farm buildings justify the cost of every building being assessed. These buildings have a low occupancy rate and there is no record of a fatality caused by a farm building collapsing in an earthquake,” Dr Smith says.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill requires all buildings to be assessed in the next five years and for those under 34 per cent of the building standard to be upgraded within a period of 15 years, with a further 10-year extension available for heritage buildings. The Bill currently excludes residential buildings except those that are multi-storey and contain more than two homes. . .

Farmers welcome windfall from wind farms - Gerard Hutching:

Wind turbines west of Wellington are not only changing the landscape, they are also transforming landowners’ bank balances.

“They’re music to my ears, actually,” says Ohariu Valley sheep and beef farmer Gavin Bruce, who has a 440-hectare property with eight turbines.

All told there are 88 turbines on two Meridian Energy wind farms: 62 on the West Wind farm, situated on both Meridian’s own property as well as on Terawhiti Station, south of Makara; and 26 on the Mill Creek wind farm on four properties in the Ohariu Valley. . .

Driving safety home to farmers:

Rural retailers are backing government’s safety message to farmers.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), in partnership with Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand, is launching a campaign to increase awareness about the importance of wearing the right safety gear when using farm chemicals.

The campaign directly addresses the “she’ll be right” attitude toward using safety gear.

Agcarm distributor members across New Zealand will display posters and distribute flyers with practical tips about safety gear. . .

US Company churns out cloned cows -

In the meadow, four white-haired Shorthorn heifers peel off from the others, raising their heads at the same time in the same direction. Unsettling, when you know they are clones.

From their ears dangle yellow tags marked with the same number: 434P. Only the numbers that follow are different: 2, 3, 4 and 6.

The tag also bears the name of the company that bred them and is holding them temporarily in a field at its headquarters in Sioux Centre, Iowa: Trans Ova Genetics, the only large US company selling cloned cows.

A few miles away, four Trans Ova scientists in white lab jackets bend over high-tech microscopes in the company’s laboratories. They are meticulously working with the minute elements of life to create, in Petri dishes, genetically identical copies of existing animals. . . .

You Won’t Believe What This Guy Did With Old Farm Scrap Metal. Seriously, WOW:

Farmers of South Dakota, if you see John Lopez going through your garbage, please let him continue to do so. In his hands, what was unfixable or unwanted to you becomes art. Not just any art, though. Big, striking sculptures that celebrate the American Old West. The kind of stuff you’d probably like! At the very least, you’ll be impressed by his work. Who wouldn’t be? . . .

https://twitter.com/Fonterra/status/484566445662027776


Getting balance right for water

July 4, 2014

National has announced national standards for water quality which balance economic development and environmental sustainability.

The Government has today announced clear, robust national standards for freshwater that will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy say the changes announced today are a critical milestone in the Government’s drive to improve water quality.

“Ensuring an on-going and reliable supply of healthy water is one of the most important environmental and economic issues facing New Zealand today,” Ms Adams says.

“It is critical that we protect and improve the water quality that we all care so much about.”

Mr Guy says the changes balance economic growth with environmental sustainability.

“It’s not an either-or situation – we need both.

This is very important.

We can have, and we need, both economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Primary industries contribute more than 76 per cent of our merchandise exports and largely depend on freshwater, while tourism also relies on the beauty of New Zealand’s water bodies.

“We all want sustainable and profitable primary industries. That will mean changes to some of our farming practices, but I know farmers are up for the challenge.”

Among the changes announced today, is the introduction of national standards for freshwater in New Zealand.

This means, for the first time, New Zealand rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

More than 60 freshwater scientists from public, private and academic sectors across New Zealand have come up with numeric values proposed for the national standards.

“In 2011, the Government required Councils to maintain or improve the water quality in their lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers across their region. If their water quality is already above the national standard it cannot be allowed to deteriorate,” Ms Adams says.

“However, where a water body currently falls below the national standard, councils and communities will need to ensure that the standard is met over sensible and realistic timeframes.”

To help councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, Ms Adams is currently considering applications from regional councils for $1.1m of funding for activities that support regional planning and community participation in freshwater management. Decisions will be announced shortly.

The Government has today also released a high level snapshot of the freshwater reform programme.

Delivering Freshwater Reform provides the history and context for the reforms, outlines why they need to take place and what the desired outcomes are, in an accessible and understandable way.

“Recent freshwater reform documents have had to include sufficient detail for the stakeholders who have a strong level of engagement and acceptance of the reforms,” Ms Adams says.

“This document focuses on providing information to a wide range of New Zealanders who care deeply about water quality and are unlikely to be participating in the more detailed consultation phases.” . . .

Irrigation NZ has welcomed the policy:

. . .  INZ agrees that New Zealand’s fresh water needs nationally consistent, better, more direct and clearer policy to ensure it is sustainably and effectively managed for the benefit of all.

“By having national bottom lines and allowing for regional and local circumstances, the NPS and NOF will prevent situations where unrealistic conditions are set on water quality for irrigation schemes,” says Andrew Curtis, INZ CEO. “Having everyone work off the same page will mean that resource consent processes will be less onerous and less time and money will be wasted reaching acceptable outcomes.”

INZ is pleased that the updated NPS seems to have broadened its measures of water quality and now requires a fuller understanding of issues which impact a body of water before setting limits. “The NPS now suggests that biotic indicators such as the Macro-invertebrate Community Index (MCI), should be included as performance measures – this is a good thing,” says Mr Curtis.

INZ believes that if community freshwater values, as now set out in Appendix 1, are to be realised, attention needs to be paid to an inclusive range of factors such as pest management, habitat restoration, sediment loads, as well as nutrients, to maintain and improve river health.

 “There are many examples around the country which show how habitat restoration alongside stock exclusion and phosphate management have created thriving rivers – despite relatively high nitrate levels – such as the Wakakahi stream in south Canterbury,” says Mr Curtis.

“New Zealanders need to understand maintaining and improving water quality is complex and can be achieved in many different ways – sticking a number on it and regulating everyone to this does not achieve outcomes,” he says.

Additionally, INZ believes that the exceptions provisions may pose a future risk and looks forward to greater clarification.

“Healthy waterways are the responsibility of both urban as well as rural New Zealand, and we must face New Zealand’s water quality challenges as a nation. Farmers are not solely responsible for issues with waterways and should not be picked on to solve these problems on their own.”

INZ is committed to finding a way for New Zealand to develop sustainably managed irrigation schemes within acceptable environmental limits.

“Water is our most valuable renewable resource and we believe that irrigation in New Zealand is essential to protect against climatic variations and to enhance the country’s ability to feed its population and to contribute to feeding the world,” says Mr Curtis.

Fonterra welcomes the framework too:

Fonterra says the Government’s announcement on changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management lays the groundwork for consistent and robust decisions about the management of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Fonterra Acting Group Director Cooperative Affairs, Sarah Paterson, says, “Today’s announcement is an important step towards a nationally consistent approach to managing freshwater. At the same time, it gives communities the tools they need to make decisions about their waterways.”

Ms Paterson says regions across the country have been grappling with the challenge of setting workable environmental limits. Setting national standards for freshwater will provide greater clarity on the science that needs to underpin environmental limits.

“Fonterra and our farmers have been taking part in a collaborative community approach to develop environmental limits. We want these discussions to be based on sound science and economic analysis, and we believe these national standards will help achieve this.”

“We are absolutely committed to lifting environmental performance and improving water quality in New Zealand. Fonterra’s farmers have mapped every waterway and fenced over 23,500km of waterways. Nutrient data has been collected from nearly 4,000 farms to provide information on mitigating the impact of nutrients,” says Ms Paterson.

“We recognise the huge amount of work that has so far gone into preparing these national standards, and we welcome the continuing efforts being made to complete the task.”

Regional councils are supportive of the standards:

The establishment of National Water Standards are being welcomed by the regional sector as bringing valuable guidance to local decision making.

Chair of the regional sector, Fran Wilde, says the standards provide a clear direction from central government while allowing local democracy to do its job.

“All sectors of the community rely on freshwater for one reason or another. Regional councils are responsible for managing the country’s lakes and rivers and, in doing so, must balance the needs of the community.

“New Zealand’s geography alone results in the nature of rivers and lakes being vastly different depending on where in the country you are. Just as the alpine rivers of the south are valued for their aesthetic beauty, so too are the lowland river flats valued for their agricultural productivity.

“As a sector we believe it’s critical for local people to have a say in how their waterways are managed and to what level.”

Ms Wilde says that minimum standards provide a solid foundation to begin conversations with communities about the values they place on a waterway and whether any changes are needed in the way it’s used and looked after.

“Until now, we haven’t had central government direction around how our rivers and lakes should be managed. The establishment of minimum standards provides clear guidance without disregarding the views of the community should they wish to go beyond these standards.”

Ms Wilde says the maintenance of New Zealand’s freshwater relies on a strong partnership with central and regional government and this is evident in the number of restoration initiatives underway around the country.

“Regional councils and our communities are working closely with central government through programmes like A Fresh Start for Freshwater to improve rivers and lakes throughout the country. In many cases government funding is being met with regional funding with over half a billion dollars from taxes, rates and private initiatives going towards cleaning up and protecting our lakes and rivers since 2000.”

These are minimum standards, not a ceiling.

Councils and communities will want better quality in many places and will need to work together to achieve it.

The Minister made this point in question time yesterday:

Hon AMY ADAMS: At the moment, of course, the counterfactual is that there is no requirement for any particular standard for human health. Actually putting in place a minimum requirement that at the very least every fresh water area must be safe for wading and boating is a big step forward. What we have done today is confirm that every council must consider whether it is appropriate to also manage for swimmability. What has to be understood is that each time we move the bar up through that ladder, it brings considerable extra cost on to communities and councils. If the member is campaigning that her party will set the standard there and not leave that choice to local communities, it is welcome to do so, but I look forward to seeing those billions of dollars included in its financial estimates.

Eugenie Sage: Why is the Minister leaving it to regional councils to consider swimmability, and does she not think that it is a national issue and a central government responsibility to ensure that rivers across New Zealand are clean and safe for swimming?

Hon AMY ADAMS: Well, I had always thought that that member was a proponent of local decision-making, but actually we do think it is for communities to decide—above that minimum standard, which is brand new and has never been there before—which areas are to be used for swimming and are to be protected for that, and which are not. We are not going to impose billions of dollars of costs on ratepayers and communities in areas where they do not seek it. What we have put in place is a considerable step forward from what Labour and the Greens were happy to live with, and we are very proud of it.

Eugenie Sage: What does she say to the Otago Regional Council, which said that the bottom line for human health should be contact recreation because such a low standard as secondary contact, where rivers are fit for only wading and boating, is “not consistent with the national identity New Zealand associates with its clean image of its water resources”?

Hon AMY ADAMS: What I would say to the Otago Regional Council is that it is very welcome to set that standard across its water bodies if that is what its community chooses. The difference now is that we have a national expectation of a minimum standard, which has never been there before. That alone is going to impose some costs on communities, but the extent to which they want to go beyond that is up to them. It would be a nonsense to impose costs on water bodies that no one wants to use for swimming or that no one has contemplated for swimming. That is why regional decision-making then becomes important.

Eugenie Sage: Why did the Minister ignore the approximately 90 percent of submitters who wanted the bottom line for human health to be rivers that are clean and safe for swimming?

Hon AMY ADAMS: We have not ignored it. What we have done is made it compulsory now for every council to consider whether swimming is the appropriate standard for that water body. That was not in the draft, and the reason we have done that is that we understand the cost impact that goes with that. As I have said, if those members want to include the billions of dollars of impact from putting that standard in, I look forward to seeing that in their alternative budgets.

Eugenie Sage: Does the Minister still claim that no river quality is allowed to deteriorate, when the Freshwater Sciences Society said that the proposed limits on nitrate in her proposals last November have the potential for “New Zealand’s rivers to become some of the most nitrogen-polluted amongst OECD countries whilst still remaining compliant” and her announcements today have not changed the nitrate limit?

Hon AMY ADAMS: I do not accept that, because, as that member well knows, there is already a requirement for water quality in a region to be maintained or improved. There is no ability—and nor do I imagine there is any desire—for councils to suddenly rush downwards in their water quality. In my experience, communities and councils are absolutely focused on improving water quality, but the important point is this: today there is nothing stopping our lakes and rivers from being completely dead environments. That is what Labour and the Greens were happy with. We are not. This is a step forward, no matter how the member tries to spin it. . .

New Zealand’s water standards aren’t as good as they used to be.

That’s because we used to have pristine water and it’s important to remember while that is no longer the case in all but a very few secluded places, our water quality is still very high by world standards.

That said, some waterways are of unacceptable quality and need to be cleaned up.

Most are okay and that standard should be at the very least maintained and preferably improved.

We can and must learn from other countries and the best practice here to ensure that happens.

There’s more information on the Government’s freshwater reforms, including the updated National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management here.

 

We’re taking action to improve freshwater quality for all New Zealanders. http://ntnl.org.nz/1opocYo #Working4NZ


Rural round-up

June 17, 2014

New $65m high-security biocontainment lab:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says a new $65m high-security biocontainment laboratory announced in Wallaceville today is another demonstration of the Government’s commitment to biosecurity.

“The new facility will replace the existing high security laboratory and continue more than 100 years of animal disease diagnostics at the site,” says Mr Guy.

“The existing laboratories and skilled personnel have an essential role in responding to disease outbreaks, protecting public health and providing international trade assurances about New Zealand’s animal disease status. . .

Agritech companies debut at the World Dairy Expo & Summit China:

 Seven companies joined New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) at the 12th World Dairy Expo and Summit in Xi’an, China, over the weekend.

The World Dairy Expo and Summit is the premier annual event for China’s dairy industry, attracting thousands of visitors from across China and around the world including professionals in dairy production and cow breeding, buyers, government officials, experts and media.

With an exhibition area of 25,000sqm, the Expo focuses on the entire dairy production chain, from breeding and farm facilities to processing and packing equipment, ingredients, and dairy products.
NZTE’s Trade Commissioner in Beijing, Liam Corkery, says that the Expo is an opportunity for New Zealand companies to present their solutions to potential customers in China that are actively looking for farming and milking systems expertise and technologies. . .

Taranaki bags Maori farming award:

A Taranaki dairy farming operation has won this year’s top Maori farming award, the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd which runs 500 cows on a 170-hectare farm near Hawera, was one of three finalists for the award.

The farm trust’s chair Dion Maaka said it stood out because it was an amalgamation of four separate Maori trusts, representing more than 1000 landowners, who had successfully combined their small uneconomic blocks into one larger and more viable dairy farming operation. . .

A thousand owners share dairy delight:

An award-winning Maori dairy farming operation says its ownership structure provides a successful model for others to follow.

Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd, based in southern Taranaki, has won this year’s top Maori farming award, the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

It runs 500 cows on a 170-hectare farm near Hawera. . .

Lincoln University drives into the rough - Keith Woodford:

Lincoln University is New Zealand’s land-based university, with a special focus on agriculture and related industries. In recent years, the University has been facing hard times. This is despite the resurgence of New Zealand’s agricultural industries, and the export dominance of agri- food products.

This year the situation at Lincoln has reached crisis point. The University has been shedding academic and other positions in an attempt to balance the books.

The current shedding of staff involves a net decrease of 53 staff through a combination of voluntary redundancies, enhanced early retirements, and compulsory redundancies. Inevitably, the loss of staff is going to affect delivery capacity. The question now is whether Lincoln can survive in its present form. . . .

Fieldays looks at boosting footprint:

The organisation behind the national agricultural expo says it isn’t letting the grass grow under its feet after wrapping up this year’s event.

The organisation behind the national agricultural expo says it isn’t letting the grass grow under its feet after wrapping up this year’s event.

More than 900 exhibitors took up 50 hectares of space at the giant agricultural showcase this year, including 28 new large outdoor sites. . . .

Going ‘nuts’ for Mediterranean diet - Ashley Walmsley:

A MEDITERRANEAN diet could be the key to better health and increased nut sales according to an international researcher.

Professor Jordi Salas-Salvadó, chairman of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research presented nut health information at the 33rd World Nut and Dried Fruit Congress, in Melbourne last month.

The Congress saw nearly 900 guests from Australia and overseas come together to talk about the current state and future of global nut consumption. . .

 New Zealand wine industry gets WiSE

A world leading sustainability scorecard and reporting tool is being launched to New Zealand wineries and grape-growers today. WiSE (Wine Industry Sustainability Engine) will be used by around 2000 wineries and vineyards from Northland to Otago. It will record and manage winery and vineyard activities to ensure they meet international sustainability standards required by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.

The New Zealand wine industry is already seen as a driving force in sustainability with over 94% of the vineyard producing area certified under an independently audited sustainability programme, and WiSE is set to bolster this reputation. . .

Canterbury Butchers Carve up the Competition:

The Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year is well underway with the Upper South Island Regional held yesterday in Christchurch.

Jeremy Garth of New World Woolston, Christchurch and Timmy Watson from Ashburton’s Allenton Meat Centre, drew a tie in the hotly contested Alto Young Butchery regional.

Competenz Butcher Apprentice regional winner Rowan Lee of Pak’ n Save Riccarton, Christchurch demonstrated he was a cut above the rest in yesterday’s competition, joining the two young butchers in the next stage of the competition. . . .

New acne cream brings new meaning to ‘adding value to dairy’:

Hamilton company, Quantec Personal Care, believes Cleopatra may have been onto something when she bathed in milk.

The research focused company has developed a clinically-proven anti-acne cream whose active, patented ingredient is derived from New Zealand cow’s milk.

The company believes this breakthrough skincare product, marketed under the Epiology brand, is a world first in its category and represents an entirely new approach to improving acne and problem skin.

Quantec founder and Managing Director, Dr Rod Claycomb, explains, “The bioactive enzymes and proteins found in our Epiology anti-acne cream are essentially the same active enzymes and proteins that all mammals produce to protect themselves from potentially harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. . . .

 


Rural round-up

June 15, 2014

Breeder takes on challenge - Tony Benny:

When Gerald Hargreaves took over the family farm from his father in the 1970s, he wasn’t very interested in the Angus stud his father had established in 1954. But a comment reported back to him by a friend fired him up.

“My father gave me some cows and I wasn’t really interested in the stud to be honest and I sold them, but thought I’d better not sell my father’s,” Hargreaves says.

“One of the opposition breeders said, ‘He probably doesn’t know what he’s doing, he should have sold the lot’. I said, ‘stuff you’ – it took someone to challenge me.” . . .

Kiwifruit growers upbeat at Fieldays:

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has noticed a remarkable turnaround in the mood among growers coming to the national agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek this year.

Zespri grower and government relations manager Simon Limmer said a lot of kiwifruit growers were calling into its site, and the contrast with the past few years as they battled the PSA bacteria scourge could not be more striking.

“The mood is very positive, very optimistic, and on the back of three years of real uncertainty and a certain sense of desperation as to where this industry was heading – it’s a really good place to be,” Mr Limmer said.

“Growers are feeling positive the PSA situation looks to be manageable, we’re seeing volumes of gold kiwifruit recovering heading into the market – market returns are up across all varieties. . .

New graduates strengthen biosecurity frontline:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says 29 new biosecurity graduates will further strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system, and help safeguard our primary industries from pests and diseases.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today welcomed 24 new quarantine inspectors and five new dog handlers at a ceremony in Auckland.

The new quarantine inspectors will be based at Auckland (15), Wellington (3) and Christchurch (6). Five new biosecurity detector dog teams will be split between Auckland (4) and Christchurch (1). . .

Forestry company fined after worker hit by log

Forestry company HarvestPro has been fined $80,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $40,000 after one of its workers was hit by a log weighing more than a tonne.

Tau Henare was working on a logging operation at Whakaangiangi on the East Coast when the incident occurred in September 2012. His job was to attach strops to fallen logs, which were then dragged up a hillside to be prepared for transport away from the forest.

Mr Henare was hit by a log that had come lose from the jaws of a loader on a landing above and slid down a steep hillside. He suffered fractures to his arm and leg that have required multiple surgeries and left him unable to work. . .

How to calculate the maximum number of hours an employee can work during calving and mating -  John Brosnan:

Over the last year or so there has been a lot of discussion in the media around farm practices in relation to keeping wage records, hours worked on farms and in particular employees not earning minimum wage within their pay period.

This was not helped by rumours that MBIE (the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment) were going to treat an accommodation allowance as a part of salary/wages differently from how IRD have traditionally viewed it. . . .

Goodman Fielder plans $27M upgrade of Christchurch milk factory to meet Asian demand - Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Goodman Fielder, the Australian food ingredients maker, will spend $27 million to expand its Christchurch ultra heat treated milk plant, giving it additional capacity to meet increased demand for its Meadow Fresh brand in Asia.

Work to extend the existing UHT building and install a new pasteurising, sterilising and palletising line as well as a new 250ml high-speed filler is expected to be completed by October 2015 and will boost production at the site by 50 percent, enabling it to process an extra 32 million litres a year, Sydney-based Goodman Fielder said in a statement. . .

Fun side of farming:

In just a few short weeks rural youth will be out in full force trying to prove they’ve got what it takes to be the 2014 AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg Champions.

Close to seven hundred primary and secondary aged students battled it out in the seven Regional Finals across the country earlier this year. The top three teams from each region progressed through to the Grand Finals, set to be held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“These students have been preparing for months,” said Josie Hampton AgriKidsNZ & TeenAg Project Leader. “They pour everything they’ve got into this competition and it’s quite an honour for them to represent their schools at Grand Final.” . . .

Wool.i.am the star of new campaign for Cavalier Bremworth:

Long established New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Bremworth has launched a quirky new ad campaign which focuses on its unique ability to manage the quality of its wool carpet from the farm right to the floor. It’s also a celebration of having Kiwis on the job every step of the way.

View here at: http://goo.gl/FNqV97

The hero of the campaign continues to be its animated sheep (Wool-i.am) who takes a journey with the wool from the farm to its tufting plant in Auckland. Cavalier Bremworth, as part of parent company Cavalier Corporation, is the only carpet maker that owns and controls the whole process for wool carpet production – it owns a wool buying business, a half share in the country’s biggest wool scours in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay, and then its own dyeing and spinning plants in Napier, Wanganui and Christchurch. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2014

Farmers warned of dangers of meth labs – Susie Nordqvist:

Waikato police have told farmers at Fieldays they’re too trusting about whom they’re renting their farm cottages to, and tenants that end up using farmland for methamphetamine labs can cost farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Basically the chemicals are all placed into this flask and then it’s boiled, well it’s heated, on an element [and] the pseudoephedrine comes off, and you end up with the finished product,” explains Detective Senior Sergeant Nigel Keall. . . .

Red meat delegation heads to China:

A major delegation of New Zealand red meat exporters is heading to China next week.

The group, being led by the Meat Industry Association, represents more than 95% of New Zealand red meat exports.

The Chairs, Chief Executives and other senior staff will meet with Chinese regulatory agencies, industry bodies and customers. . .

Sheep and sheep meats in China – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about one specific region in China’s pastoral zone, high on the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau. This is just one part of China’s pastoral zone which extends for thousands of kilometres from Inner Mongolia across to Xinjiang and down through the western provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet. The precise numbers of sheep on these lands is unclear. It is not because the Chinese Government hides the correct numbers, but because pastoral farmers keep the numbers to themselves. The United Nations FAO agency estimates that in 2012 there were 187 million sheep in China, but no-one really knows.

What happens in China’s pastoral zone is important to New Zealand for two reasons. The first is that we are all part of a global environment, with sustainability a global issue. The second is that China is now New Zealand’s most important market for lamb and mutton; the gap between local demand and supply in China is the key driver of sheep industry profitability back here in New Zealand. . . .

Fieldays shoes might seem ‘exotic’ to Aucklanders – Mike McRoberts:

Footwear is an essential part of farming and also appears to be a big part of the National Fieldays this year.

Horselands’ Angie Gil is selling boots at the four-day event and says visitors are expecting a bargain.

“I think that you don’t come to park in a paddock and then walk around Fieldays to not get a bargain.” . . .

Minister welcomes KPMG Agribusiness Agenda:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today welcomed the annual KPMG Agribusiness Agenda at the National Fieldays, noting the strong correlation between Government and industry priorities.

This year’s Agenda reiterated the importance of strong biosecurity and food safety systems, and highlighted uncertainty around a potential change of Government as a major point of concern across the over 150 industry leaders surveyed.

“I’m not surprised to see the significance of biosecurity flagged again by industry, and it has been my number one priority since becoming a Minister,” says Mr Guy. . .

The biggest myth about organic farming – Ross Pomeroy:

The majority of Americans believe that organic foods are healthier than food grown using conventional methods. The majority of Americans are wrong. Two systematic reviews, one from Stanford University and the other by a team of researchers based out of the United Kingdom, turned up no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or lead to better health-related outcomes for consumers.

But the idea that organic foods are healthier isn’t even the largest myth out there. That title belongs to the widely held belief that organic farming does not use pesticides. A 2010 poll found that 69% of consumers believe that to be true. Among those who regularly purchase organic food, the notion is even more prevalent. A survey from the Soil Association found that as many as 95% of organic consumers in the UK buy organic to “avoid pesticides.”

In fact, organic farmers do use pesticides. The only difference is that they’re “natural” instead of “synthetic.” . . .

Families mark a century on the land – Sally Rae:

Since 1905, successive generations of the Simpson family have farmed Springside at Tokarahi in North Otago.

From draught horses to large, modern tractors and combine harvesters, each generation has kept up with new farming practices.

The Simpson family was among 42 families to attend the recent New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards in Lawrence, for families who have farmed the same land for 100 years or more.

It was the highest number of families to be recognised for their commitment since the awards were first held in 2006. . .


Record primary produce exports

June 10, 2014

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says new figures show primary sector exports will reach record levels of $37.7b over the last year – around $1.3b more than previously forecast.

The Ministry for Primary Industries today released Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries 2014 (SOPI 2014) ­- an annual publication that provides a snapshot and forecast for our major primary sectors over the next four years.

“SOPI 2014 reveals export prices increased across most sectors for the year ending June 2014. Both dairy and forestry sectors stood out with good increases in both price and production,” says Mr Guy.

“Dairy now accounts for 46 percent of total primary industry export value and 35 percent of total New Zealand merchandise export value. High price levels for dairy were underpinned by robust demand from China, which remains an important market for dairy, meat and wool, seafood and logs.

“Meat and wool exports have broken $8 billion, which is fantastic considering last year’s drought. Exports are expected to increase by around 22 percent for the five years to 2018.  

“Demand for logs from China is driving the growth of the forestry sector, with export value reaching $5.1 billion at the end of June 2014. Domestic demand for sawn timber is expected to increase with the Auckland and Christchurch housing markets growing.

“SOPI also forecasts horticulture export revenues to surpass $4 billion in 2016, a major milestone for the sector. Last week’s National Horticulture Fieldays in Hawke’s Bay was a great showcase of the potential of this exciting industry.

“Export earnings for the New Zealand seafood industry are expected to increase to $1.64 billion in 2018, with prices likely to remain high due to strong demand from China, Australia, US and the EU.

“This results are helped by programmes such as the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), Sustainable Farming Fund, and the Irrigation Acceleration Fund which all deliver long-term value to the sector, and the New Zealand economy. 

“This report makes great reading for New Zealand’s primary industries as it enters the 2014/15 year, and I’m anticipating positive vibes at this week’s Mystery Creek National Fieldays,” says Mr Guy.

The full report is here.

While the report is forecasting a bright future for primary produce, Liam Dann is arguing that the dip in the dairy boom is a warning to diversify:

How worried should we be about the slump in global dairy prices? After all these years, New Zealand is still a giant grass-processing factory and milk remains the lifeblood of our economy.

In fact, dairy products now account for nearly 30 per cent of the country’s merchandise exports, by value. That figure was closer to 20 per cent when I first started covering the sector more than a decade ago.

Dairy exports are on track to generate a record return in excess of $17 billion this year – about $4 billion more than they delivered on average across the previous three years.

That big return is due to a historically unprecedented spike in dairy prices that peaked in February.

So the 23 per cent fall in dairy prices since then is certainly significant. It has prompted Fonterra to lower its payout forecast for the 2014/15 season and is finally starting to put downward pressure on the dollar. . . .

Last season’s payout was a record, this season’s was expected to be lower but the forecast is still the fourth highest.

The lowering dollar in response is how it’s supposed to work.

Dairy may be ahead of the curve in terms of New Zealand commodity export prices. It seems likely that a boom in log prices will peak this year. Other commodities like beef and lamb are also contributing to a record balance of payments.

If they start to fall too, that will add to the downward pressure. But really, for the bloke on the Wall Street trading desk who keeps an eye on this part of the world, the New Zealand story is all about dairy.

To put the other sectors in perspective, the $4 billion fluctuation in dairy returns between 2013 and 2014 is likely to be in excess of the total return for all lamb, mutton and wool exports combined last year.

So much for New Zealand living off the sheep’s back.

Dairy prices are also where the attentions of the Reserve Bank are fixed.

The bank’s economists won’t be panicking just yet. They will be keeping the current prices firmly in context. The giddy heights that dairy prices reached early this year mean that even now they are sitting at historically high levels.

I can still recall the excitement in the dairy sector when Fonterra announced its first $7 payout – the figure Fonterra is picking for the 2014/15 season. That was a record and reflected the peak of the dairy price cycle in 2005.

If the price plateaus at that level then that would be a pretty sweet bottom end to the cycle.

There are good reasons – most of them to do with Chinese demand – why the global dairy price now has a much higher top and bottom than it had a decade ago.

But the trend will become concerning if it continues, and China is the great unknown.

Where the current slowdown in Chinese economic growth settles is anyone’s guess. If there were to be a more serious and uncontrolled financial economic crisis in China then things could get ugly fast.

Meanwhile, good grass growing conditions and continued expansion of dairying in the South Island are driving increased production volumes which will prop up overall export returns to New Zealand.

A major drought next summer would still have a greater impact on New Zealand’s economic outlook than the current dairy price.

That is why irrigation is so important. It doesn’t replace rain but it insures against too little.

What a slowdown in the dairy boom does do is remind us that we should maintain a firm focus on diversifying and expanding the economy into new and less commodity-focused areas.

Ironically, chief among those is the dairy sector itself. Fonterra is well aware that lower prices for milk powder will provide more opportunities to drive the brands side of the business.

Turning more New Zealand milk powder into yoghurt and baby formula before we export it suddenly makes even more sense.

Meanwhile, that $4 billion of extra dairy cash from the 2013/14 season still has to wash through the economy and should buoy domestic growth for a while yet.

Our “rock star” label won’t stack up if our growth is all pinned to dairy and the Christchurch rebuild. Both of these factors have been timely in getting New Zealand ahead of the recovery curve in comparison with other nations – notably Australia.

The trick is to have the rest of the economy firing efficiently when we come out the other side.

A diversified economy will be a stronger one.

But our climate and soils give us a natural advantage when it comes to producing protein for which there’s growing world demand.

I’m pleased to see that Dann isn’t downplaying that and isn’t suggest we do less farming, but that other parts of the economy step up to play their parts in New Zealand’s success.

 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2014

Review Panel releases consultation document and plans for travel:

The Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel released its public consultation document today. The document can be found on the Review’s website at www.ifsr.co.nz.

WorkSafe New Zealand statistics showed that between 2008 and 2013, there have been 967 reported instances of serious injury related to forestry and logging. In this time 28 workers died in accidents. That is just one person fewer than were killed in the Pike River mining disaster. The Review is being undertaken to address this very poor safety record.

Panel Chair, George Adams commented that “Forestry in New Zealand is far too dangerous. Everyone in the industry recognises that fact and that’s why the Review has been established. It is clear change must occur to prevent injuries and save lives. The consultation document provides an opportunity for everyone in the industry and the public to have a say in what those changes should be”. . . .

Forestry industry leaders need to own, manage and measure contractor health and safety:

Forestry industry leaders need to make themselves accountable for the health and safety of their contractors if the industry’s poor safety record is to improve, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

“They need to own this issue, and they need to manage it and measure how well they and their contractors are performing on health and safety,” says Forum Executive Director Julian Hughes.

A consultation document released today by the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel highlights that there is no simple fix to forestry’s safety problems, Julian says. . .

Time for Silent Majority to be heard:

Forest safety is something that many of the leading forest contractors take seriously. So the next step in the forest safety review process is being welcomed by Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the many forest workers their members employ.

Several industry associations have a keen interest in ensuring that as many workers as possible get their voices heard by the panel members as they move around the country to discuss forest safety and how it can be improved.

One of the groups, the Forest Industry Contractors Association, represents over 55% of the companies providing forest operations and harvesting services. With staff numbers in the thousands it is important that they find their voice and make sure it is heard by review panel members. . .

TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The negotiated positions of parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement will be crucial in developing other free trade pacts that are either emerging or on the table now, even if the current negotiations fail, says International Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Speaking in the Philippines as part of a business delegation in the capital, Manila, Groser said the TPP negotiations were now “at a crucial stage”, but that if the talks were to fail, the developments they achieved would still prove useful for the ultimate liberalised trade zone, the Free Trade Area in the Asia-Pacific, otherwise known as FTAAP. . .

Spider venom may hold key to saving bees:

Researchers believe spider venom may hold the key to protecting bees from harmful toxins after finding a bio-pesticide made from a combination of plant proteins and the arachnids poison is harmful to pests but not honeybees.

It is thought that neonicotinoid pesticides are behind the dramatic decline in honeybee populations, and this catastrophe could spell disaster for humans as food production greatly relies on pollinators such as the bees.

A team of Newcastle University scientists tested a combination of natural toxins from the venom of the Australian funnel web spider and snowdrop lectin bio-pesticides and found that it allowed honeybees to forage without harm even when exposed to unusually high doses. . .

Agricultural Fieldays keeps growing:

The sprawling national agricultural fieldays site at Mystery Creek near Hamilton has been a hive of activity as exhibitors get ready for the biggest annual event on New Zealand’s rural calendar.

Most of the major structures are up, but preparations and fine tuning will continue into the late hours on Tuesday night, before the gates open on Wednesday morning.

The exhibition area covers about 50 hectares with more than 900 exhibitors on 1380 sites. . .

Top NZ dairy technology goes on show in China:

For dairy operators in China looking to build new dairy complexes, leading dairy technology innovator Waikato Milking Systems and herd management technology company Afimilk offer total milking solutions.

Whether dairy companies in China’s growing dairy industry want a whole new large-scale milking system, or high-technology products to get more out of their existing milking system, these two companies have the expertise to deliver results. The companies will have a joint display at the World Dairy Expo in Xi’an in China on 13 to 15 June 2014. . . .

Commission begins process for the 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission today released a paper outlining the proposed process and timeline for a review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is what Fonterra pays the farmers who supply them milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year and 2013/14 is the second time the Commission will undertake a calculation review. The review will assess the extent to which Fonterra’s approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently while providing for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk. The scope of the review is to only look at the base milk price, not the retail price that consumers pay for milk. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Primary Sector Future Capability Report:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it’s important to have an understanding of the sector’s workforce requirements, to be well placed to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy, has today launched the ‘Future capability needs for primary industries in New Zealand’ report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

The report says that for red meat and wool, the challenge will be in training and retaining people with market and product-oriented skills as well as cultural and language capabilities. This is because over 90 per cent of the sheepmeat and beef produced in New Zealand is exported to overseas markets. . . .

Applications Open for Fonterra Farmers to Lock in Guaranteed Milk Price:

Following last week’s announcement of the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, applications are now open for Fonterra farmers to lock in a price for a percentage of their milk.

Building on the success of the Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) pilot in the 2013/14 season, Fonterra has further developed the programme to give farmers even more flexibility to help manage the effects of commodity price volatility and give greater income certainty.

There will now be two opportunities in the 2014/15 season to secure a GMP on 60 million kgMS – up to 40 million kgMS is available in June, and up to 20 million kgMS is available in December. There is also a new approach to determine each GMP and allocate the available volume. . . .

Leading New Zealand wine brand celebrates a new beginning:

Matariki, one of New Zealand’s most prestigious wine brands has formally announced its return to market with the launch of its ultra-premium 2009 wines.

Now under the ownership of Taurus Wine Group Limited, the wines remain under the stewardship of John O’Connor and the watchful eye of the mother and her six daughters that form the visible stars in the Matariki constellation, appropriately re-appearing in the night sky on June 28 heralding the Maori New Year.

Matariki is marking its new beginning with the release of its flagship red blend, Quintology and single varietal range Les Filles (The Daughters), all from the 2009 vintage. . .

SATO Signs Master Service Agreement with Fonterra:

SATO, a leader in barcode printing, labeling, and EPC/RFID solutions, announced today that it has signed a Master Service Agreement (MSA) with Fonterra Cooperative Group Limited, a leading global dairy company based in New Zealand, to provide supplies, services, and support for barcode systems in Fonterra’s factories and distribution centers worldwide.

SATO has been working closely with Fonterra in New Zealand and Australia, playing an instrumental role in standardizing their barcoding systems and configurations. Furthering this partnership, SATO Holdings Corporation and Fonterra have signed an MSA which will cover all countries Fonterra operates in, allowing SATO’s global subsidiaries to better offer localized services matching the requirements of Fonterra operations in each country. Key applications that can be provided under the agreement include product traceability solutions, product anti-counterfeiting solutions, label management and printing solutions, wireless infrastructure solutions, and many more. . . .

Grand Final tickets selling out:

The showcase event of the rural community is just weeks away and tickets for events are selling out fast.

New Zealand Young Farmers members, supporters and competitors will descend upon Christchurch for the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final, 3-5 July.

Over a demanding three days the seven Grand Finalists will be put through their paces in a number of challenges, tested on all facets of New Zealand agriculture and farming.
Lincoln University Library will play host to the Official Opening, Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm, as the Grand Finalists come together for the first of two head-to-head challenges. Free for spectators. . .


Rural round-up

June 8, 2014

Feds top job too good to pass up – Andrea Fox:

New Federated Farmers chief executive Graham Smith is the first to admit his previous employer is upset over his quick exit from a new job, but says the federation role is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he could not resist.

Smith will leave not-for-profit new technology company incubator Soda, where he has been chief executive for less than two months, to head the federation late next month. . .

Minister launches primary industries capability report:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today launched The Future capability needs for the primary industries in New Zealand – a report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary sector.

“The report highlights that employment in the primary industries is expected to increase by 50,000 by 2025 to reach the Government’s goal of an export double. Over half of these workers will need a Tertiary or Level 4 Qualification,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealand has a proud tradition in the primary industries – it’s an innovative sector that requires our best and brightest across a range of skills. As international markets become more sophisticated and competitive, it is crucial New Zealand’s primary industries keep pace. . .

We’re working with primary industries to make sure they keep innovating and keep growing. http://ntnl.org.nz/1hilnZ8

High country conference discusses neighbourliness:

What it means to be a ”good neighbour” was discussed at Federated Farmers’ high country conference in Queenstown yesterday.

The conference was examining how neighbours could look after each other in regard to water and nutrient management and pest control, Federated Farmers high country chairman Chas Todhunter said.

”We need to communicate with each other to understand each other’s differences and work towards mutually acceptable outcomes,” he said. . .

Innovation pitch finalists chosen:

After two days of intensive workshops nine innovators have been chosen to pitch their ideas at the National Fieldays Innovation Den on Thursday.

The chosen innovations include LiquidStrip, a filtration system designed to efficiently separate liquid and solid from waste effluent to allow for superior disposal options; Ice Cycle, a snap milk chiller capable of chilling milk from the cow at 34C to 4C in under three seconds, and Patrick Roskram with his Gudgeon Pro 5-in-1 fencing tool that is used to quickly and accurately hang gates. . . .

 ‘Black List’ proposed for ecological invaders:

A new scheme to rank invading species according to their environmental impact has been developed by a global team of leading experts in ecology and conservation.

The scheme, described in the journal PLOS Biology and co-authored by Lincoln University Professor of Plant Biosecurity, Philip Hulme, proposes a standardised approach for ranking alien species relative to their negative environmental impact. In so doing, globally recognised ‘Black Lists’ of unwanted species can be produced. . . .

Lifting farmgate returns the solution:

AUSTRALIA’S share of the global dairy market has been slipping gradually and turning the industry around is going to be a huge challenge, Murray Goulburn chairman Phillip Tracy says.

At the same time the company is cutting jobs across Victoria.

The co-operative’s commitment to lift farmgate returns by $1 a kilogram of milksolids by 2017 was the type of price rise needed to turn the industry around, Tracy said. . .

Foreign investment’s tough wrap - Jenna Cairney:

THERE’S no “foreign takeover” of our agricultural land and while a debate on foreign investment is worthwhile, any blows have to be above the belt.

At a packed NSW Farm Writers lunch last week John Corbett, the director of the often camera-shy Qatari government’s agricultural arm Hassad, dispelled some of the foreign direct investment (FDI) misnomers, in particular via sovereign wealth and institutional funds.

Hassad was created in response to the 1997 grain shortages and now owns more than 250,000 hectares of farmland in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, with the aim of producing 165,000 tonnes of grain and 100,000 lambs annually. . .

 A ‘turnip’ for the canola books - Gregor Heard:

MOST broadacre croppers would say they are happy to leave turnip and cabbage crops to their horticultural cousins.

However, researchers at the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) are using the two vegetable crops to make valuable discoveries about canola.

The relatively recently developed canola plant has a mixed heritage of both turnip and cabbage genetics. . . .


Rural round-up

June 7, 2014

Use of blunt force on calves banned:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has confirmed the use of blunt force to euthanise calves will now be ruled out, except in unforeseen emergency cases.

“In February this year I asked the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) for advice on euthanising calves on farms by manual blunt force,” says Mr Guy.

“NAWAC received 357 submissions during consultation and a large proportion supported the proposed changes to the code. . .

  Minister launches primary industries capability report:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today launched The Future capability needs for the primary industries in New Zealand – a report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary sector.

“The report highlights that employment in the primary industries is expected to increase by 50,000 by 2025 to reach the Government’s goal of an export double. Over half of these workers will need a Tertiary or Level 4 Qualification,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealand has a proud tradition in the primary industries – it’s an innovative sector that requires our best and brightest across a range of skills. As international markets become more sophisticated and competitive, it is crucial New Zealand’s primary industries keep pace. . .

  Sharemilkers and dairy farmers respond to vote call:

After being sent a rocket just over a week before DairyNZ’s 2014 levy referendum vote closed, sharemilkers and dairy farmers have responded with the strongest turnout since 2002.

“What an amazing turnaround from apathy to action,” says Neil Filer, Federated Farmers Sharemilkers section chairperson.

“From just over 20 percent sharemilker turnout with a week to go we’ve ended up with a shareholder turnout, 13 percent up on the 2008 result. . . .

US dairy takes aim at Fonterra:

A group of dairy companies in the United States has written to the country’s trade representatives urging them to tackle what it says is Fonterra’s unfair advantage during the Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

Companies aligned with the National Milk Producers Federation and the US Dairy Export Council wrote that the serious non-tariff policies of the New Zealand government have unfairly and uniquely given advantage to Fonterra.

They say these policies have allowed Fonterra to become the largest dairy exporting company in the world. . .

Warning about wild kiwifruit vines:

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Kiwifruit Vine Health are urging kiwifruit orchardists and farmers to be careful about what they do with reject kiwifruit, as the picking season comes to a close.

They are also encouraging everyone to keep an eye out for wild kiwifruit vines and report sightings to the council.

The council said birds feed on kiwifruit that was left out on vines, in reject bins or dumped in paddocks for stock feed. Seeds dropped by the birds grow into wild kiwifruit vines in native bush and forestry blocks. . .

Why haven’t chickens died out yet?

A new UK government-funded project aims to unravel the history of bird domestication.

The ‘Chicken Coop’ experiment will examine human history from the perspective of our feathery friends.

It plans to find out everything from their dietary habits to why they haven’t been wiped out by disease caused by inbreeding. . . .


Rural round-up

June 6, 2014

Milk production hits record levels - Gerard Hutching:

Chasing higher prices, dairy farmers have produced a record 1.8 billion kilograms of milksolids in 2013-14, a 160 million kg hike over the year before, the latest economic update from the ASB reports.

“Of the 10 per cent increase, 7.5 per cent comes from Fonterra’s farmers, with other companies lifting it to the 10 per cent,” economist Nathan Penny said.

He said that the increase was not just a response to higher prices, but farmers had also bounced back from the drought of 2012-13.

“But you don’t get a rebound from the drought two years in a row, it’s harder to get a big jump again,” Penny said. . .

Industry champion rendered speechless – Annette Scott:

Being named the winner of this year’s Deer Industry Award came as a bit of a shock for Paddy Boyd, who admits he was lost for words. He talked to Annette Scott.

When Mackenzie farmer and Haldon Station manager Paddy Boyd was named winner of this year’s Deer Industry Award he was lost for words.

The announcement at the industry conference in Methven came as a surprise for Boyd, who said he was usually able to string a few words together as a voice for deer producers. . .

Flock House farm to be jointly run:

A Rangitikei based iwi, a Maori incorporation and local Pakeha farmers will be working together to run the historic Flock House farm near Bulls.

AgResearch has completed the sale of its Flock House farm to Nga Waiariki-Ngati Apa for an undisclosed sum.

The farm was brought by Te Runanga o Ngati Apa, in partnership with Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation and Waitatapia Station Limited, and farming will be carried out by Te Hou Farms Limited Partnership. . .

$7m to assess irrigation viability in South Canterbury:

A new funding agreement will investigate the viability of the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme for up to 40,000 ha in South Canterbury, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

‘The Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund will provide $7.044 million over two years to co-fund technical investigations and design work to determine if an irrigation scheme is viable, both from a technical and economic perspective,’ says Mr Guy.

‘This will be matched by funds from shareholder equity and the scheme’s partner, Meridian Energy. . .

Green Ribbon Award finalists announced:

To mark World Environment Day, Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced the finalists for the 2014 Green Ribbon Awards, which honour outstanding contributions to protecting New Zealand’s environment.

“Over the 24 years of the Green Ribbon Awards, more than 150 environmental champions have been recognised for their initiative, commitment and dedication to tackling environmental issues,” Ms Adams says.

“For this year’s awards, 113 nominations were received across 12 categories. The finalists come from a range of backgrounds and the work they do is challenging, time-consuming and sometimes unrewarded. . . .

Federated Farmers @ Fieldays 2014:

Federated Farmers has not only uprated its 2014 Fieldays presence with a site in the feature pavilion but will hold the final meeting of its current Board in Hamilton ahead of Fieldays.

“Federated Farmers will make Hamilton, or should I say, Megatron, as its base for Fieldays week,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President, who retires from the role in July.

“As this is my final Fieldays as National President, I am pleased to say we are making our largest ever investment into our Fieldays site.  . . .

Drinking water from poo nearly ready for market:

A technology for extracting drinkable water from manure is on its way to commercial application this year, a US university said today. The technology is particularly useful for animal operations in dry regions where water is at a premium, according to Michigan State University.

The McLanahan Nutrient Separation System is an add-on to an anaerobic digester, which extracts energy and chemicals from manure. The system adds ultrafiltration, air stripping and a reverse osmosis system to produce water that’s clean enough for cattle to drink. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2014

Lower forecast still good - Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confident opening forecast of $7 a kilogram of milksolids for the new season has equal upside and downside in volatile times for world prices and the New Zealand dollar, chairman John Wilson says.

Many uncertainties meant the only thing Fonterra could predict was that the 2014-15 season wouldn’t end on $7, he joked.

“The best way we can serve our farmers in the pre-season is by giving the most accurate forecasts.”

The market realities included considerable volatility in world prices, high NZ dollar exchange rates, and potential for big milk production increases in Europe and the United States, he said.

That said, Fonterra surprised market commentators with its opening price because some were picking $6.50 or less. . .

Wool stands up well when the heat goes on – Alan Williams:

People going to see I’m Loving Wool at Auckland’s Britomart as part of Wool Week were shown how wool can’t be set on fire.

Shearer and showman Billy the Sheep Man – also known as Billy Black – set an oxy-acetylene torch to the fabric to show bystanders its inflammability. 

He also showed how easy it was to set fire to a synthetic fabric.

“The blowtorch was really good,” Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) chairman Bay de Lautour said. 

“It showed up wool’s fire-resistant qualities and we need to do more on that to show how safe woollen children’s wear is.” . . .

The reasoning behind my micro dairy business – Milking on the Moove:

In the next 2 months, I’ll begin milking a small herd of 15 cows. I’ll sell the milk direct to the public. I’ll milk my herd on leased lifestyle blocks, using my mobile cowshed.

In my last blog post I outlined 5 points that I wanted to achieve with my new business.

  • Create a truly environmentally sustainable dairy business
  • Create farming opportunities for young people that also provided a great lifestyle
  • Keep control of the value chain
  • Offer real unaltered whole milk to the public
  • Concentrate on building a brand rather than owning land

It’s taken a few years of thinking about the issues and I wanted to briefly outline how I have come to settle on my current system. . .

He has a  quick video of the mobile cowshed.

Overseas experience to boost foot and mouth preparedness:

A team of vets and animal industry representatives are heading to Nepal next week for first-hand experience in dealing with foot and mouth disease (FMD), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This field training is part of a newly signed agreement with Australia to cooperate and work together on preparedness for this disease,” Mr Guy says.

“While both countries are determined that it never enters our borders, we still need to be prepared and work on our readiness and capacity.

“Everyone knows that an outbreak would have major impacts on our valuable livestock industries, disrupting our exports and trading reputation. It would be devastating for farming families, rural businesses and communities. . .

Govt Inquiry into WPC to conclude in November 2014:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today that they have received a letter from the Chair of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, advising that:

“The Inquiry has considered the time that will be needed to report, taking into account the work already undertaken by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Fonterra investigations, the number and nature of the issues arising from the Terms of Reference; the number of participants; volume of material; and the need for fairness to all participants.

Our preliminary advice has been that 6 -9 months would be an appropriate estimate. However, conscious of the need to resolve matters promptly, and in anticipation of full cooperation from all participants, the Inquiry’s present estimate is that it will require until Friday 28 November 2014 (6 months) to present its final report. Participants with whom the Inquiry has consulted have accepted this is a realistic estimate.” . . .

Addressing the big issues at our High Country Conference:

Federated Farmers will be addressing the big issues at their High Country Conference next week in Queenstown.

“We will be talking about what it means to be a ‘Good Neighbour’, and what it means in achieving positive outcomes,” says Chas Todhunter, Federated Farmers High Country Spokesperson.

“We are pleased that we have both sides of the political spectrum speaking, with Eugenie Sage, Green Party spokesperson on the Environment, Conservation, Water and Local Government, and Hon. Jo Goodhew, Associate Primary Industries Minister, both attending. I would expect there will be a lengthy question time from our delegates. . .

New programme set to transform hill country farms:

A new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme focussed on transforming hill country farms is formally underway, after this week’s contract signing between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and industry co-investor Ravensdown.

Announced in principle in June last year, the Pioneering to Precision: Application of Fertiliser in Hill Country PGP programme is a seven-year programme that aims to improve hill country sheep and beef farming productivity and protect the environment through more efficient and more precise use of fertiliser. 

By doing this, the programme will improve the profitability of hill country farming and generate earnings of $120 million per annum by 2030 from additional exports of meat and wool. . .

Dairy Awards Help 7000 Entrants:

About 7000 entries have been received in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, since the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition began 25 years ago.

“It’s a pretty impressive number. When we started to look at the figures and add up those that have entered over the years we were really surprised,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“What is also true is that the number of people involved or touched by the awards is many more times that.”

Mrs Keeping says many of the entries received were from couples and they were supported by farm owners, farm staff and families. Sponsors have also played a significant role in the awards programme with sponsor representatives from throughout the country backing the awards and encouraging clients to participate. . .

50 MPI officers swoop on rock lobster black market:

Fifty Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) compliance officers wrapped up an undercover operation today that targeted recreational fishers catching and selling rock lobster (crayfish) in the South Island.

The operation was focused on activities in the Kaikoura area but also included the Christchurch and Marlborough/Nelson areas.

It is illegal to sell your recreational fishing catch with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine. . . .


Rural round-up

May 29, 2014

Speech to the B3 Better Border Biosecurity Conference - Nathan Guy:

Thank you to Better Border Biosecurity (B3) for hosting this important conference. The theme is “10 years on – Adding Value to New Zealand’s Plant Biosecurity System through Research”.

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of biosecurity to New Zealand, and the importance of scientific research to back it up.

I want to start by acknowledging the B3 partnership as a great model for working together on research.

The signed up partners include four Crown Research Institutes (CRI), a university based research entity, three government agencies, and an industry group. It’s important that it involves end-users from both government and industry.

The importance of biosecurity

Everyone here has probably heard me say many times that “biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.” Today I want to say a few words to remind why that is, and why this agreement today is so important.

The primary sector is the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy, accounting for over 70 percent of our export earnings.

It helps pay the bills for our schools, hospitals and social services, and supports many jobs in our regions and cities. . .

Farmers cream productivity profit:

ANZ Bank economist Con Williams says many people are overlooking the huge improvements in productivity dairy farmers have achieved recently.

Fonterra on Wednesday set next season’s initial forecast farmgate milk price at $7 per kilo of milk solids, which was higher than some had expected.

However, the dairy giant has cut this season’s forecast payout by 25 cents to $8.40 per kilo of milk solids. That would reduce farmers’ incomes by nearly $400 million but Mr said it represented just a little less cream from what was still a record payout.

The average annual yield per cow was close to 381kg of milk solids – a new record and about 7.5 percent ahead of trend. . .

NIWA gets down to brass tacks with farmers - Tony Benny:

National Fieldays seminar host Niwa is taking its science directly to farmers to optimise water use and lessen the negative impacts of dairy effluent.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief scientist, environmental information, Jochen Schmidt, said the organisation has moved its focus to the one-on-one farmer level gradually over the past five years. 

“This is definitely an area that we’re strategically pushing at the moment. The minister [Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce] is our shareholder and that’s what he told us because the growth agenda is out there and we want to ensure our primary sector is growing while sustainably managing the environment. . .

 

StockSense workshops take pressure off calving:

DairyNZ is running 19 StockSense events in June and July to help farmers prepare for the calving season.

The events are split into two workshops – one for junior staff and one for senior staff – with each workshop focusing on developing skills to help the calving season go well and reduce stress.

Humane slaughter on-farm and udder health will be the focus of the senior level workshop.

DairyNZ’s animal husbandry and welfare team manager, Chris Leach, says the humane slaughter topic is particularly timely due to the expected change in the animal welfare code and the implications for farmers.

“Farmers need to understand what’s expected of them,” says Chris.

The senior workshop will also focus on actions owners and managers can take to reduce stress for themselves and their teams, to help calving go smoothly.

“The workshop will provide tips and tricks to stay healthy during the busy period. Being prepared and staying healthy eases stress and will make for an easier spring,” says Chris. . .

New report shows PGP delivering major benefits:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the findings of an independent report into the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), which estimates it will add $6.4 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The NZIER report further concludes that the PGP has the potential to achieve an additional $4.7 billion per annum by 2025 if all the R&D is successful, the aspirational stretch of PGP programmes is achieved, and the innovations are widely uptaken. 

“This would add up to $11.1 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The PGP is about supporting innovation in the primary industries, which are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy – accounting for over 70% of our merchandise exports. There are currently 18 announced programmes jointly funded by industry and government.” . .

Steak stakes double success:

Ballyhooley Beef has done it again – winning best retail brand with the Murray Grey meat at the Steak of Origin competition last week in Feilding.

But this year, Winton farmer Barry Macdonald and his beef have done one better, as his steak was chosen as the tastiest by the public, also winning the people’s choice award.

In what was a first for the competition, Mr Macdonald’s steak was put up against the other 19 finalists to see which the public liked best. . .

2013 winner a bachelor no more - Sonita Chandar:

Sorry ladies, it’s official – 2013 Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Simon Washer is now spoken for.

However, a whole new group of eligible young men are set to strut their stuff at the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays in June.

Washer only entered the competition by default as his fellow members of the local young farmers’ club balked at the idea of entering.

“I was the chairman of the club at the time the entry form came through and when I asked the guys if anyone was interested in entering, they all gave me a dirty look,  pointed the finger at me and then nominated me so I didn’t really have much of a choice. . . .

 

 


Anti-irrigation, anti farming, anti-provinces

May 20, 2014

Thursday’s Budget included $40m of new funding for irrigation and the environment:

The Budget’s $40 million of new funding for irrigation projects will deliver economic and environmental benefits for New Zealand, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This will help unlock the potential that water storage and irrigation can deliver, giving a real boost to jobs and exports in regional economies,” he says.

“This new capital funding of $40 million comes from the Future Investment Fund and will be used to purchase shares in Crown Irrigation, enabling it to make further investments. It is in addition to $80 million allocated in last year’s Budget.

“If current proposals are advanced there could be a further 420,000 hectares of irrigated land available for a variety of uses over time. Research from NZIER suggests that exports could be boosted by around $4 billion a year by 2026.

“Irrigation often has real environmental benefits, with more consistent river flows in summer and reduced pressure on ground water sources.

“Only 2 per cent of rainfall in New Zealand is captured and used for irrigation. Clearly we need to do a better job of using this precious resource.

“After the extreme drought most of the country suffered last year, and the one earlier this year in Northland and Waikato, the need for better water storage is obvious,” Mr Guy says.

Crown Irrigation makes targeted bridging investments in irrigation schemes that would not be established with private finance alone. All decisions are made by an independent board.

Last month, Crown Irrigation announced its first investment, with $6.5 million going towards the Central Plains Water Scheme in Canterbury.

Bridging investment enables schemes to get off the ground and must be paid back.

The extra money shows the government recognises the importance of irrigation for both economic and environmental reasons.

That has always escaped the Green Party and now Labour too is turning its back on irrigation.

This has, not surprisingly, upset Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills:

. . .  A recent jaundiced attack upon irrigation has me questioning if the Party gets it.  This speech reads as an electoral game plan designed to demonise a minority of the population while amplifying prejudices and preconceptions about what we do.  Labour’s political calculus is cynical because ‘farming equals bad water’ is dog whistle politics.  Something, I honestly thought we’d moved beyond when Labour Leader David Cunliffe said, in more agricultural parlance, that farmers are good guys.

Labour’s anti-irrigation stance is a flip-flop from when Jim Anderton was Agriculture Minister.

Anderton talked a lot about irrigation but never delivered.

He used to come to North Otago, promise the earth, get positive media coverage for that but failed to do anything at all to support irrigation in the area.

It also contradicts Labour’s desire to enact the world’s most repressive Emissions Trading Scheme.   Winding up the Crown Irrigation Company not only flies in the face of regional economic development but regional climate adaption.  Are memories so short, we have forgotten adaption was a key criticism of the International Panel on Climate Change? 

According to the IPCC, the Hawke’s Bay can expect to double or even triple the time spent in drought by 2040.  Adaption means new pastures and technologies, but fundamentally, it means storing rainwater.  Residents in towns and cities do not wait for rain before taking a shower.

While water is vital to farming, without stored water, it means some of our rivers will increasingly run lower and warmer.  This is a consequence of less rainfall in a changing climate.  It will also impact farming and the environment equally.  The most distressing thing about dog whistle politics is that it denies that farmers live where we farm. It denies that we drink water and denies that our families swim and fish too.  It is a naked attempt to make farmers a breed apart.  It is unreconstructed class warfare.

One thing we agree with Mr Parker on is his speech title, because “you can have both.”  Farming and the environment are flipsides of the same coin so are we perfect?  Far from it.  Does intensive agriculture have an impact on the environment? Of course it does.  Do our growing cities impact the environment? Of course they do. 

Look, farming does need to do better and we are putting huge resource and effort into reducing the footprint of our most important export industry.  This takes money but it also takes time and yet we can point to marked improvements from Lake Rotorua to Otago’s Shag River.  Last year, the Ministry for the Environment’s river condition indicator, said that 90 percent of the sites tested were either stable or improving. You need a clean and healthy environment to farm successfully, so making innovations like water storage more difficult, simply isn’t going to help. 

A denial of water in concert with an ETS seems just the start.  If I can surmise Labour’s economic strategy from this speech, it seems to tax agriculture into the sunset hoping that something, anything, will take its place.   That’s an unprecedented gamble.

According to David Parker, we can also look forward to Resource Rentals targeting farms and a Capital Gains Tax too, which pretty much puts the Sword of Damocles over our head and the 138,000 jobs we support.  I have recently seen policies and politics akin to what’s being proposed.

Argentina may not have capital gains tax, but it does have taxes on property sales with stamp duty on rented accommodation.  It may not have resource rentals but it does have GST on utility leases like water of 27 percent.  It may not have a punitive emissions trading scheme, but it does have export taxes on primary exports of up to 35 percent.  Argentina has a tax for almost every occasion and it also has 30 percent inflation.

As some Argentinean farmers face 86 percent taxation, the only way to survive is to farm in wide but ever decreasing circles.  Its big export is soy where over 20 million hectares is in cultivation and that’s a lot more acreage in one crop than the entire South Island.  It is also overwhelmingly genetically modified and that I was told came at the behest of the Argentinean government.  All needed to fund a tax and spend Catch-22.

What is at stake here is a very large chunk of New Zealand’s $50 billion merchandise exports which pays for everyone’s daily bread. 

A calculated demonisation of farming is an attempt to drive a wedge between a farming minority and the urban majority. It plays on every cliché and every negative perception about farming and it was telling there was no mention of the Land and Water Forum’s success.  It is a worry when many positives seen in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Dairy Industry Awards, QEII National Trust and the NZ Landcare Trust are blithely ignored.

While Labour certainly took one small step forward with its Monetary Policy, this tone represents one giant leap backwards, which is why Federated Farmers has the backs of farmers.

Labour’s not just anti-irrigation, its for more taxes and Feds’ Dairy chair Willy Leferink says Labour is gunning for farmers:

Let me put my cards on the table I am a swing voter so Labour’s recent economic policy release from Finance spokesperson, David Parker, pricked my interest.  If a week is a time in politics a few days must be like years, because another speech from him had me shaking my head in disbelief.

According to Parker, National is allowing “public rivers and estuaries to be spoiled by nutrient and faecal contaminants from agriculture.”  Funny I didn’t think we had private ones.  We also got this, “In the absence of effective environmental standards, this will also mean more dairy effluent and nutrient run-off into our rivers and lakes, and into our estuaries and inshore fisheries.”  It reads like something from Fish and Game’s head office.

Labour’s big idea is to tax farming.  I wonder what that will do to supermarket prices let alone our international competiveness.  Labour also keen to impose the world’s most extreme Emissions Trading Scheme incorporating all biological emissions.  That will see our costs explode and consumers will ultimately foot the bill.  That’s not all.  Instead of giving more money to DoC to save Kiwi, they’re going to save lawyers by toughening up the RMA and DoC’s advocacy role.

But wait there’s more.  In a bizarre contradiction, given the UN’s climate boffins say New Zealand isn’t doing enough to adapt to climate change, Labour is going to scrap all public support of irrigation. 

This gets even surreal since Labour will introduce a Resource Rental Tax on water but only that used by agriculture.  I can only surmise Mr Parker believes there is zero pollution whenever he enters the littlest room.  There’s got to be a Tui billboard in that.

When you put this together with a Capital Gains Tax (yep, targeting farms) you’ve the impression Labour doesn’t like us and wants to tax us into the sunset. 

The sting in the tale means the price of food will skyrocket but I bet Labour has a KiwiFarm policy up its sleeve.  It will have collectivised state farms producing cheap bountiful food for the masses to be sold in nationalised KiwiSupermarkets.  I think the Soviets once tried that.

Yet we shouldn’t worry because clean energy is apparently the new dairy.  Despite the fact you cannot export electricity, Parker says we have great opportunities in clean energy like hydro and geothermal yadda yadda yadda.  He talks about LanzaTech but misses the point they left New Zealand because of stultifying regulations and that’s under National!  Hydro must also be an in-joke given the last aborted attempt to build one failed and under Labour, the RMA will be tightened.  Meanwhile, any industry capable of using this bountiful energy won’t be able to emit a puff of greenhouse gas without being walloped by the ETS.

The most distressing thing to me is Labour’s clichéd view of farming.

It was a real shame the only MP at the recent New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland was Nathan Guy.  The lack of an opposition MP surprised and disappointed me in equal measure.  One person volunteered, ‘because the tickets weren’t free’ and perhaps that is sadly true.  As a farming leader and as farmers, we get a few raspberries chucked at us but this makes you look in the mirror. 

While my farm gate is open to Mr Parker, can I suggest visiting the inspirational entrants of the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.  Being close to this competition, which Federated Farmers started 25 years ago, I know the winners are really first among equals.

Charlie and Jody McCaig have gone from being Taranaki farm management winners in 2011 to become 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity farmer of the Year.  How about Ruth Hone, who was named Dairy Trainee of the Year and the first ever women to lift that title.  She is smart, capable and adaptable and those words sum up the dairy industry in 2014.  Then you’ve got a 27 year old Nick Bertram, who came into dairy with a background in accounting thanks to his teacher dad, but no farming experience.  He was named Farm Manager of the Year for 2014. 

These awards showcased others who’d joined dairying from fields as diverse as professional rugby, hospitality, engineering and the police.  As one in the eye for Kim DotCom’s party, it included an IT professional too.

Then again I suppose it shows why politicians are far less trusted than us farmers.  While they may subscribe to ‘don’t let the facts get in the way’ we don’t.

Labour has given up any pretence it’s supportive of farming and in doing so shows it has also given up on the provinces which depend so much on farming success.

The Waitaki District’s population has been going backwards for decades.

Last year’s census showed that it is beginning to grow again. The biggest influence on that must be irrigation.

There were four houses on our farm and the two nearest neighbours before irrigation, now there are 14.

We’re building a 15th and another neighbour is building two more.

That is happening everywhere that’s been irrigated bringing economic and social benefits to the district and it’s being done with due regard for the environment.

All shareholders in the North Otago Irrigation Company must have independently audited environmental farm plans which ensure that soil and water quality aren’t compromised.

Farmers used to have some faint hopes that Labour would counter the anti-irrigation, anti-farming policies of the Green Party.

Those hopes have been dashed and should they get into power, the provinces will be the first to pay the price.

 


Rural round-up

May 8, 2014

Despite Strong Currency, New Zealand Winemakers Are Thriving  – Neena Rai:

New Zealand’s wine exports hit a record high in the year through end-March, led by rising demand for new-world wines from British, American and Canadian consumers.

New Zealand wine exports reached more than NZ$1.3 billion in value in those 12 months—up around 9% on the year-earlier period, according to data from Statistics New Zealand.

The gain was fueled by a bumper harvest in 2013, which has made it possible for New Zealand’s vintners to ramp up wine sales overseas.

“The very robust export performance reflects the continued demand in key markets and increased availability of the wine from the 2013 vintage,” said Phillip Gregan, chief executive officer of industry body New Zealand Winegrowers. “We expect further strong growth in the year ahead when the 2014 vintage wines are released” he added. . .

Dairy firm wants restrictions removed:

Dairy livestock genetics company LIC is asking the Government to consider removing regulations that were imposed on it when it had a monopoly on national dairy herd testing.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has started consultation as the dairy industry prepares for the transfer of its core br 3_news.4_web_news.air

eeding database from the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) to DairyNZ.

MPI said it needs to decide whether it’s appropriate to continue regulating LIC once that’s happened.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said its farmer owners agree it’s time to do away with the restrictions. . .

Part A of WPC Ministerial Inquiry initiated:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today that the final part (Part A) of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident will begin on 12 May.

“Part A will examine how the potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate entered the New Zealand international markets and how this was subsequently addressed,” Mr Guy says.

“Part A could not begin until the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance investigation was complete, sentencing had occurred, and the appeal period had expired.

“Inquiry Chair Miriam Dean QC has been conducting preliminary work with the Department of Internal Affairs on a suitable date to begin the inquiry to ensure availability of other inquiry members and that a secretariat is available,” Ms Kaye says. . . .

Black beetle numbers on the rise:

AgResearch scientists warn that one more mild winter could result in a population explosion of black beetle.
 
“Recent AgResearch trial work shows that black beetle populations are on the increase and development is more advanced in autumn 2014 than in the previous five years,” says AgResearch Science Team Leader Biocontrol and Biosecurity Dr Alison Popay.
​“This means that the adult black beetles will have plenty of time to feed and build up fat reserves to help them through the winter.  If warm conditions continue through autumn and spring conditions are right, some farmers could be facing another serious black beetle outbreak next summer.” . . .

 

Food and beverage sector driving growth:

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry is well positioned for substantial growth, with exports on track to double in value in the next 15 years to US$40 billion, according to reports released today.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today released the 2014 edition of the Investors’ Guide to the New Zealand Food and Beverage Industry. The Investors Guide showcases the key factors driving New Zealand’s food exporting success: high-quality ingredients, disease-free status, comprehensive network of free trade agreements, world-leading business environment, and strong food science capability.

“The Investors Guide shows significant investment and acquisition activity which indicates a dynamic and growing industry, and we are seeing the results in export performance,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Timber products exported without chemicals:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the expansion of a trial which has successfully exported timber products to Australia without chemical treatment.

“Forest product exporters are normally required to fumigate with methyl bromide or other chemical treatment during the summer flight season of the burnt pine longhorn beetle,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The non-chemical solution requires that inspected timber is either kept within an insect-proof environment until it is put in a container and sealed, or put in a container during daylight hours of the same day to avoid the nocturnal beetle. . . .


Rural round-up

May 6, 2014

Growing US dairy industry shouldn’t be ignored:

Dairy farmers are being urged not to ignore the growing United States dairy industry as it starts to muscle in on this country’s traditional export markets.

The US is now New Zealand’s second biggest dairy competitor.

David McCall from DairyNZ says large-scale farms with feedlots of up to 30,000 cows makes for a much cheaper operation.

He says that, until recently, most American dairy products were consumed domestically, but that’s now changing.

“They’ve made some changes to set up their dairies and some of their processing factories directly to produce export product, is one thing that they’re doing. And they’re producing the sort of products now that Chinese and other markets are demanding. . .

Forest owners seek safety solutions:

Forest owners and contractors say they aren’t sitting on their hands while an independent review panel carries out its investigation into the high death and injury toll from forestry accidents.

They have responded to strong Council of Trade Union criticism of safety standards by urging the umbrella group to take any evidence backing its concerns to the review panel.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls says the panel will need input from everyone in the forestry sector to come up with practical solutions to improve work safety.

He says steps to reduce the accident rate had started years before the review was launched in March and those are continuing while the review panel and the Coroners Court carry out their investigations. . .

 NZ to join foot & mouth exercise in Nepal:

A New Zealand team of vets and industry representatives will go to Nepal later this year to get first hand experience of dealing with foot and mouth disease.

It’s part of a new agreement between New Zealand and Australia to work together more closely on measures to combat this livestock disease.

Primary industries minister, Nathan Guy said a team of about 10 New Zealanders will be join an Australian foot and mouth training programme in Nepal, which is one of the countries battling the disease.

“It makes sense for us to be working closely with Australia because they know as a pastoral based economy that it would cause a huge amount of damage to the Australian economy if they ever got FMD and the same here in New Zealand. . .

Horticulture now 8% of New Zealand’s exports:

.Horticultural products now account for 8% of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports, according to the latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts.

In the year to 30 June 2013, the horticulture industry generated more than $3.6 billion in export revenue, with the major products being wine ($1.2 billion) and kiwifruit ($934 million). The biggest gains were seen in onion exports, which increased by 47% over 2012 values to a total $90 million, and apple exports, which increased by 40% to $475 million.

Total produce from the horticultural industry was valued at $6.7 billion, including $770 million of domestic spend on New Zealand grown fruit and $1.09 billion on vegetables.

“The success of New Zealand’s horticultural exports has been founded on a keen understanding of market needs and a passion for delivering high quality product that commands a healthy premium,” says Plant & Food Research CEO Peter Landon-Lane. . .

China temporarily bans British cheese imports:

China has temporarily banned imports of British cheese after the country’s food inspectors complained about hygiene standards at an unnamed UK dairy.

The Chinese officials were reportedly dissatisfied with its maintenance and storage, raw milk transport temperatures and air sanitisation.

However, the dairy they visited does not export its produce to China.

UK farming minister George Eustice has called for restrictions to be lifted “as soon as possible”.

“British cheese is the best in the world and produced to the highest safety and quality standards, so it is disappointing that China have put a temporary block on cheese imports,” he said. . .

Farm Environment Trust Assembles Top Panel for National Winner Judging:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust has welcomed two new judges to the panel responsible for choosing the National Winner of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Comprising six people with a broad range of skills and experience, the National Winner judging panel will select the next holder of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy from the ten regional Supreme winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The winner will be announced at a National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The 2014 National Winner judging panel is chaired by Simon Saunders, deputy chair of the NZFE Trust, and includes Jamie Strang, BFEA National Judging Coordinator, Warwick Catto, Head of Research and Environment, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and Paul Lamont, Regional Manager, Rabobank. Newcomers Charmaine O’Shea and Bruce Wills have joined the panel this year. . .

Snow Sports NZ and Cardrona Alpine Resort Sign Partnership Agreement:

Snow Sports New Zealand and Cardrona Alpine Resort Limited have signed a Partnership Agreement which will see Cardrona become the official resort partner of Snow Sports NZ, the naming rights sponsor of the New Zealand Park and Pipe Team and the naming rights sponsor of the NZ Freeski & Snowboard Junior National Championships.

Cardrona Alpine Resort and Snow Sports NZ have a positive long-standing partnership and the national freeski and snowboard team do all of their halfpipe and slopestyle training at the resort throughout the southern hemisphere winter. Cardrona also hosts key events such as the NZ Freeski Open, NZ Winter Games and an international spring training camp after the resort closes to the public.

The purpose of the formal agreement is to recognise the growing importance of the partnership and cement the relationship. A four year term has been agreed, subject to satisfactory annual review, during which time Cardrona will be recognised as the official resort partner of the NZ Park and Pipe Team and the team will be called the Cardrona NZ Park and Pipe Team. . .

Sanford agrees to buy assets of Greenshell NZ, Greenshell Investments from receivers:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, the listed fishing company, agreed to buy the assets of Greenshell NZ Limited and Greenshell Investments from the receivers of the mussel farming and processing group.

No price was disclosed in a statement from Sanford. Chief executive Volker Kuntzsch said the assets “were a strategic fit for Sanford’s aquaculture business as they allow for improved supplies from a wider geography.”

Receivers Brendon Gibson and Grant Graham of KordaMentha were appointed last November by Rabobank after depressed prices for the shellfish over a number of years culminated in a “significant” operating loss in 2012. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2014

 Govt reallocates $24 million for Rotorua water clean-up:

The Government will reallocate $24 million to a new project that encourages land owners in the Lake Rotorua catchment to switch to low nitrogen land uses or find other ways to reduce the amount of nitrogen polluting the lake water, Environment Minister Amy Adams has announced.

“The Rotorua community has asked us to shift existing funding commitments to a land use management and change project, as part of the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes water quality improvements programme,” Ms Adams says.

“The original plan was to use the money for diverting nutrient-rich streams flowing into the lake and capping sediments to stop nutrients flowing up from the lake bed. Cabinet agreed with the lake stakeholder advisory group that these short term initiatives really just shifted the problem somewhere else. . .

Rotorua farmers pleased with Government contribution to nitrogen reduction:

Farmers in the Lake Rotorua catchment were relieved to hear confirmation on Monday that the Government will fund half of a $48 million scheme to reduce nitrogen losses from pastoral land around the lake.

This money had been budgeted for “in-lake” actions so there is no additional cost to taxpayers and ratepayers who share the cost equally. The scheme is part of a wider effort to improve water quality in Lake Rotorua by reducing nutrient inputs – both nitrogen and phosphorus – from urban, rural and natural sources.

Rotorua farmers are working with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and other stakeholders to develop draft rural land use rules around nitrogen. Those rules will target a 140 tonne nitrogen reduction by 2032, in addition to an incentive scheme target of 100 tonnes.  . .

Australia and New Zealand partner to fight animal disease threat:

Australia and New Zealand have agreed to work together to prepare for the unlikely event of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in either country.

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, met today in Melbourne and welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to stress the importance of collaboration in combating the disease and its devastating impacts.

“Our number one plan and focus of much of our biosecurity efforts is to keep FMD out of Australia and New Zealand—but you can’t stick your head in the sand about something this significant —you have to plan for the worst,” Minister Joyce said. . .

Vets work on drug resistance:

Vets and doctors have an obligation to work together to face the threat of resistance to anti-microbial drugs, New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) president Dr Steve Merchant says.

“The threat of anti-microbial resistance is recognised as one of the greatest risks to human and animal health and is a high priority for the veterinary profession,” he said.

“After more than 70 years since the first use of penicillin in human medicine there are a number of bacteria in circulation across the world that are resistant to one or more anti-microbials. . .

 

 Abuzz about chainsaw safety – Rebecca Malcolm:

She’s come straight from big-city beauty salons to farming, so it’s fair to say Jodie Vaughan has had a few things to learn.

The former Aucklander has been on an Atiamuri farm for only a matter of weeks after she and partner Rhys Williams moved down to take over farm management roles on the family property.

On Thursday Miss Vaughan was one of more than a dozen women who took part in a chainsaw safety workshop run by Stihl New Zealand as part of Chainsaw Safety Awareness Week, which finishes tomorrow. . .

Farmers urged to attend Ruataniwha public meetings:

With Federated Farmers’ Hawke’s Bay annual general meeting taking place next Wednesday, the Federation is urging its members to find out all they can from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

“It is true members are now putting Ruataniwha under a microscope, especially following the recent Board of Inquiry draft decision,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“I genuinely imagine Ruataniwha will be a talking point at our provincial annual general meeting, next Wednesday at Vidal’s Restaurant in Hastings. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 1, 2014

China’s taste for hotpot elevates lamb flaps from offcut to prime cut, sending prices to record – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – China’s taste for hotpot, where meat and vegetables are cooked in a broth at the dining table, has driven a four-fold increase in the price of lamb flaps, turning the offcut into a premium cut and lifting the overall return kiwi farmers can get from their animals.

Lamb flaps, the gristly ends of the ribs trimmed away when the butcher cuts racks and rib chops, used to be considered a cheap cut, retailing for about US$1.35 per kilogram as little as eight years ago. It has soared 84 percent to US$5.84/kg, overtaking shoulder at US$5.64/kg and narrowing the gap with lamb leg at US$8.12/kg, based on Agrifax data.

In China, the meat is processed into a lamb roll and sliced thinly for hotpot, the dominant cooking style for lamb and a staple of the national diet. Chinese sheepmeat imports nearly doubled to 165,300 tonnes in the 2013 export year as a growing population, higher incomes and a decline in the world’s largest sheep flock spurred demand for imported protein. . .

New Zealand companies approved for infant formula exporting to China:

Five New Zealand manufacturers have been approved for exporting infant formula to China, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye have announced today.

“These manufacturers represent around 90% of our infant formula exports to China by volume,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealand officials have been working intensively with manufacturers and Chinese officials to address corrective actions, allowing these five manufacturers to be registered as of May 1.

“We appreciate the cooperative relationship with Chinese authorities in registering these New Zealand manufacturers. The new rules signal China’s desire for greater accountability for imported infant formula from all countries.

“MPI is working with all manufacturers to ensure the new Overseas Market Access Requirement (OMAR) – issued last night – is complied with. This sets out the requirements needed to produce infant formula for export to China from 1 May,” says Mr Guy. . . .

Nutricia takeover targets Sutton Group, Gardians among first to get China registration – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Sutton Group and Gardians, the dairy manufacturers acquired by Danone’s Nutricia arm, are among infant formula companies to gain registration to export to China under that nation’s new food safety regulations.

Nutricia itself gained registration, as did Fonterra Cooperative Group, GMP Pharmaceuticals and Dairy Goat Cooperative (NZ). They represent about 90 percent of New Zealand’s infant formula exports to China by volume.

Other companies can be registered after the May 1 deadline although owners of infant formula brands who can’t demonstrate a close relationship with a manufacturer may struggle to meet Chinese requirements, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today. . .

Nutricia to Add Milk Drying and Packing Capacity to Existing Platform in New Zealand:

Nutricia today announces an agreement for the simultaneous acquisition of the spray dryer of Gardians, located near Balclutha, and the blending, packing and can-forming activities of the Sutton Group in Auckland.

This transaction will provide Nutricia with a large milk drying capacity, along with a long-term fresh milk supply access. It will also add an infant formula blending and packing facility to Nutricia’s existing operations platform. . . .

Dairy Herd Consultation Underway:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today announced consultation on the future direction of the dairy herd improvement industry.

“The government’s main objective is to ensure New Zealand’s dairy industry can benefit from genetic gain in the national dairy herd. This objective supports the National Breeding Objective to identify animals whose progeny will be the most efficient converters of feed into farmer profit, says Marianne Lukkien, Acting Director Sector Policy.

“To achieve this we need to ensure the Dairy Core Database is fit for purpose, services are accessible at competitive prices and above all farmer’s interests are protected.

“The dairy industry is preparing for the transfer of the Dairy Core Database from Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) to DairyNZ. . .

A new generation of tools for the primary sector:

The primary sector is facing a major evolution in how they operate their businesses. Whether its satellite imagery of plantation forests, GPS tracking and real-time scheduling of transport and logistics, soil management through wireless sensor monitoring and automated tractor or irrigation systems, our primary sector businesses have a lot to benefit from improved mobile technologies.

Some of the best minds in New Zealand and Australia came together last year in Wellington for this region’s inaugural MobileTECH Summit 2013, an event designed to discuss and showcase new mobile technologies best suited to increase productivity for the primary sector. Building on this momentum, MobileTECH 2014 will be running this year in Brisbane, Australia and again, in Auckland, New Zealand in August. . .

Chinese buy five vineyards

Hong Kong-owned QWIL and Accolade Wines have been given the go ahead by the Overseas Investment Office to buy five vineyards from Mud House Wines.

The deal for $46.4 million involves the acquisition by QWIL of a freehold interest in five vineyards – Woolshed Vineyard in Marlborough, Home, Mound and Deans Vineyards in Canterbury, and Claim Vineyard in Otago.

The land comprises about 596ha. . . .

 


Rural round-up

April 30, 2014

PM turns first sod on Central Plains Water irrigation scheme:

Prime Minister John Key today turned the first sod of the $375 million Central Plains Irrigation Scheme near Hororata in Canterbury.

First conceived in 2001, Stage 1 of the 60,000 ha scheme is expected to deliver water to 20,000 ha of Central Canterbury in September next year.

Chief executive Derek Crombie said that the first major work on the $140m first stage, comprising the 17km-long headrace canal and bridges, will commence immediately, with construction of the 130km-long pipeline network picking up momentum mid-year.

“We expect to have up to 150 contractors working on a number of sites in the near future and to this end we are heartened by the experience of our two major contractors, Fulton Hogan/John Holland JV on the headrace canal and Downers, supported by subcontractors Aquaduct NZ Ltd, for the pipe network. . .

Construction begins on Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of construction on the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury, which has the potential to create up to $1.4 billion in new economic activity.

“This is a proud day for the Canterbury region, with major benefits both economically and environmentally.

“When fully completed the scheme will irrigate about 60,000ha in the central Canterbury area, bounded by the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers, and the foothills and State Highway 1.

“It’s estimated there will be additional economic activity of between $1 billion and $1.4 billion created, an export boost of $300 million per year, and around 1,100 new fulltime equivalent jobs. . .

Sheep and beef farm profits forecast to increase 35 per cent:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s latest forecast, released today, tells a positive story for farmers and the wider industry.

The organisation’s Mid-Season Update predicts better pricing and strong demand for sheepmeat and beef products from key markets.

The report outlined improved product prices which are expected to drive average sheep and beef farm profit up by 35 per cent on the drought-affected level of last season. The Mid-Season Update estimates that farm profit before tax for the 2013-14 season will rise to an average of $113,700 per farm.

B+LNZ Economic Service Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says total gross farm revenue is expected to increase 9.2 per cent to $460,200, reflecting a 12 per cent increase in sheep revenue. Total farm expenditure is estimated to be up 2.8 per cent, to $346,500, on the back of increases in repairs and maintenance expenditures. Interest expenditure dropped by 2.6 per cent, thanks to a slight decrease in farm debt and lower interest rates. . .

The full report is here.

Agricultural footprint risks getting out of balance – Allan Barber:

While not exactly a new or revolutionary call for action, Fish and Game’s call last week for an independent review of water use and leaching into waterways was another bit of pressure on the future development of New Zealand farming. The organisation has long been agitating for such a review, but the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways has provided it with further ammunition.

Inevitably dairy is cited as the main culprit for the increase in pollution because stocking rates are higher and there is more runoff into rivers and waterways from dairy than from sheep and beef. Fonterra says it has collected nutrient data from nearly 4000 farms which will provide information on how to mitigate the impact of nutrients; in addition fencing of waterways is now an obligatory condition of milk collection, although Fish and Game questions how rigorously this is being audited.

According to modelling by NIWA and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, by 2020 a further 400,000 hectares of sheep and beef farm land will have been converted to dairy. There will be a large increase in nitrogen runoff in most regions including Canterbury, Southland, Otago and Wellington. . .

Kiwi and Korean deer farmers to work together:

The deer industry plans to work with Korean deer farmers to further build demand for New Zealand deer antler velvet in South Korea, its largest market.

“The Korean Deer Breeders Association used to be opposed to velvet imports, but they now accept that by working together we can grow the pie for their farmers, as well as ours,” says Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup.

Long part of the allure of deer farming, with an Asian medical pedigree going back thousands of years, velvet has recently stepped into the modern era.

“In South Korea there is growing demand among affluent consumers for health foods and tonics based on traditional ingredients like velvet and ginseng. Because of New Zealand’s reputation for natural, safe and quality-assured product, respected Korean food companies see us as the ideal source of velvet,” Mr Coup says. . . .

Fonterra takes sustainable dairy farming to YouTube:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is putting dairy farm water and environmental conservation in the spotlight with the launch of a series of YouTube videos focusing on responsible dairying initiatives taking place on New Zealand farms.

Entitled Farm Focus, the series begins today and will feature one farm every Wednesday for four weeks on Fonterra’s YouTube channel. The videos will also be posted on Fonterra’s Facebook and Twitter pages under the hashtag #farmfocus.

The four farms featured are from the central and eastern North Island of New Zealand. Each video accounts for one farm and the activities undertaken to protect waterways and natural resources while enhancing the economic viability of a farm. . . .

Birds are on the menu once more:

The 2014 Gamebird Food Festival is opening this Saturday with restaurants from Kerikeri to Invercargill opening their kitchens to cook either this year’s catch of duck, pheasant and quail, or commercially sourced birds.

So far 13 restaurants have confirmed they are taking part in this year’s Gamebird Food Festival to celebrate the hunting season, which opens on Saturday (3 May).

The aim of Fish & Game New Zealand’s Festival is to promote game birds as a delicious, free-range food source: Hunters can take their own birds into participating restaurants to have them prepared by professional chefs, or non-hunters can choose commercially sourced duck, pheasant or quail from the menu. . .

Yealands Family Wines wins ‘Green Company of the Year’ in leading global sustainability awards:

Yealands Estate has been selected as the “Green Company of the Year” by the UK’s leading drinks publisher, Drinks Business.

The Green Awards are the world’s largest programme in the drinks trade raising awareness of green issues and recognising those leading the way in sustainability and environmental practice.

Founder of Yealands Family Wines, Peter Yealands, says this global recognition is another welcome endorsement of their philosophy, culture and focus on continual environmental improvement. . .


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