Rural round-up

August 21, 2014

Increases for fish stocks show success of QMS:

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

“This shows the success of our world-leading Quota Management System (QMS). It is flexible and driven by science, which means that we can increase take as stock levels improve,” Mr Guy says.

Healthy stocks have led to increased Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for:

• Hoki 1 (10,100 extra tonnes across New Zealand)
• Orange Roughy 7A (1155 extra tonnes on the upper West Coast)
• Orange Roughy 3B (525 extra tonnes around the lower South Island) . . .

Just what the doctor ordered, no way or only a matter of time? - Allan Barber:

There are three possible responses to the prospect of an overseas, probably Chinese, investor buying seriously into the New Zealand meat industry: bring it on, not on your life or it’s inevitable.

So far Chinese interests have recently bought a minority stake in Blue Sky Meats and an application to buy Prime Range Meats is with the Overseas Investment Office; ANZCO is just under 75% Japanese owned with New Zealand management and staff holding the balance. ANZCO’s ownership structure has remained like this for over 25 years bringing positive benefits to the company, its suppliers and New Zealand as a whole. . . .

Back to the future? – Andrew Hoggard:

I am going to propose something provocative.  The big long term issue for us isn’t going to be water but will be employment and occupational health and safety. 

While the mention of water and farming gets some people worked up, the truth will eventually break through the spin and I think we are just starting to see this.  When it comes to employment matters though, our industries have been named by the government’s Worksafe NZ as the most dangerous.  Another part of government says a big minority of employers aren’t meeting basic employment law obligations.

If that’s not enough, we’re fully in the crosshairs of the Council of Trade Unions too. . .

It’s a super trim season yes, but milk and disaster, no – Chris Lewis:

Do you know that in the first half of 2014, the amount of global tradable milk grew by an amazing seven billion litres.  That’s enough milk to fill 2,800 extra Olympic sized swimming pools and it was available for export.  It goes to explain why Fonterra cut this season’s forecast payout by a $1 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS).

It would be nice if our politicians realised that farmers have good and bad seasons but they don’t.  All the spending promises seem to assume we’re constantly swimming in greenbacks.  We aren’t.  It is also why anyone, whether a Kiwi or a foreigner, who looks at a farm like a get rich quick property scheme will likely end up come a cropper. 

A farm is your business and your home.  This is why farmers are passionate about what we do and that makes us go the extra mile.  It is why I take exception to the line ‘milk and disaster’ being applied to dairy.  It is super trim season yes, but milk and disaster, no. It is great to see the latest GlobalDairyTrade average still in the US$3,000 a metric ton range but that slight 0.6 percent fall means we are on exactly US$3,000. . .

 High pin bones too prevalent in NZ – Yvonne O’Hara:

New Zealand has a rump angle problem, says Holstein Friesian classifier Denis Aitken.

As well as being a dairy farmer who is trying to retire, Mr Aitken, of Maungatua, is a member of the World Holstein Friesian Federation Type Harmonisation working group. He spent some time in Denmark attending its two-yearly meeting in May.

The working group was seeking to standardise or ”harmonise” 18 different physical traits in Holstein Friesians by classifying or precisely defining the ideal of each of those traits and promoting the evaluation system. . . .

Young Agricultural Professionals Are Driving Agricultural Development – Food Tank:

Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) is a global network of young agriculture and development professionals who are coming together to create innovative and sustainable agricultural development. YPARD enables its young members to share knowledge and information, participate in meetings and debates, promote agriculture among young people, and organize workshops.

Food Tank interviewed Rebeca Souza, a YPARD representative in Brazil, to discover what YPARD members have been accomplishing.

Food Tank (FT): How did you become a representative for YPARD?

Rebeca Souza (RS): Last year, I was doing an internship at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Three other interns and I decided to organize an event calling on young professionals to share innovative ideas to overcome world hunger and malnutrition. YPARD was one of our partners, and Courtney Paisley, the director, was attending our event. I came to her asking if I could be a country representative in Brazil since no one was appointed to this position yet. She said yes! . . .

 


Rural round-up

August 20, 2014

Waitaki River group objects to planned changes:

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

But a Waitaki River users group says a deal to drop the river’s minimum flow would badly harm an already sick river.

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

The plan includes a cut to the minimum flow by a third during a dry spell. . . .

Shark finning to be banned from 1 October:

A ban on the finning of all shark species within New Zealand waters will take effect from 1 October this year, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“Implementing this ban has happened much faster than originally proposed. It reinforces New Zealand’s strong international reputation for sustainability and protecting our natural environment,” Dr Smith says.

The Ministers released a revised National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks) earlier this year, which included a commitment to phase in the ban on shark finning in New Zealand by October 2016 at the latest. A first tranche of shark species was to be covered by the ban from 1 October 2014, a second tranche from 1 October 2015, and only the highly migratory blue sharks was to be left until 1 October 2016. . . .

Botulism scare prompts diary working group:

Last year’s botulism scare has prompted the creation of a new working group in the dairy processing sector.

It was one of the recommendations of the independent Government inquiry into the whey protein concentrate contamination, which sent shock waves through New Zealand’s dairy industry.

The inquiry highlighted a shortage of experienced people with processing expertise and so the group has been set up to fix that.

The working group will be chaired by Northland dairy farmer and former Fonterra board director, Greg Gent, who said it was an exciting project. . .

NZ software could scupper mouse outbreaks:

A New Zealand-designed software system designed to predict and tackle mouse outbreaks is being trialled in Australia.

MouseAlert is an interactive website which uses mapping technology to enable arable crop growers to record and view mouse activity in their local area in real time.

Landcare Research has been providing the expertise on building this information into computer models which can then forecast plagues of mice. . .

Farmers welcome GlobalDairyTrade stabilisation:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see stabilisation in the latest benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction result but warns price volatility will likely continue until well into the last quarter.

“It is great to see GDT average still in the US$3,000 a metric ton range but that slight 0.6 percent fall means we are on exactly US$3,000,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“It seems to underscore how similar this season is to 2012/13. At a similar point two seasons ago, the average winning price was just US$54 more except it had come up from the high 2,000’s.

“But before anyone traipses back to the beginning of the year to make a more dramatic story, any price before 1 June is completely irrelevant when you are talking about this 2014/15 season. . .

 

China dangerous market reliance or exciting market growth? – Andrew Watters:

The economic growth of China over the past four years has resulted in huge demand for New Zealand dairy and meat products; lifted our terms of trade to historical highs and provided a major fillip to agriculture and the wider NZ economy.

However the somewhat dramatic slide in global dairy prices since their peak in midFebruary has the appearance of China exiting the market causing demand to stall.

It has prompted several commentators to ponder whether exciting market growth has become market over-reliance.

At MyFarm we see ‘China growth’ as a major boost to farming industry returns – one that will have a profound affect for the next two decades. . .

 

Informercials used to sell NZ meat in China - Dave Gooselink:

TV shopping shows and infomercials have become a popular way of selling everything from exercise equipment to kitchen and beauty accessories. But one New Zealand company has struck gold in China with a very surprising product – packaged meat.

It’s home shopping as most Kiwis will be familiar with, but the Chinese shopping show is selling something a little unusual – prime cuts of New Zealand beef and lamb.

Most of us Kiwis, we’d never think about buying our lamb or beef on a TV shopping channel,” says Silver Fern Farms head of sales Grant Howie. “But in a 30-minute slot earlier this year, we sold 12.5 tonnes of our beef.” . .  .

Minister approves Marlborough coastal plan changes:

Plan changes to enable three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds were signed off today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at a function at the Marlborough District Council with Mayor Alistair Sowman and representatives from NZ King Salmon.

“These three new salmon farms at Waitata and Richmond in Pelorus Sound and Ngamahau in Tory Chanel are hugely important to Nelson and Marlborough’s aquaculture industry and wider economy. They will enable NZ King Salmon to grow its products from the current 6000 tonnes per year to 9000 tonnes per year in 2015 and 13,000 tonnes per year by 2033. These new farms will grow our GDP by $120 million per year, our exports by $50 million and employment by 150 new jobs,” Dr Smith says.

“I am well satisfied that our region can maintain the conservation and recreation benefits of Marlborough Sounds while enabling the growth of the aquaculture industry. These three farms will take up only about five hectares of surface water space out of a total area of over 100,000 hectares in the Sounds, or less than 0.01 per cent.” . .

The forest safety battle is not yet won

Point scoring in the media will not make our forests safer places to work, says the Forest Owners Association.

“The unions are claiming credit for a sudden reduction in the fatality and serious accident rate and Worksafe NZ is slamming us for a lack of safety leadership. These comments are unbalanced and unhelpful,” says association president Paul Nicholls.

“Political posturing and blaming others won’t save workers lives. To transform the industry’s safety culture, participants will need to acknowledge their past shortcomings and to share experiences and knowledge. They are less likely to be open to this if they are being publicly pilloried.” . .

Implementing Reform:

The sweeping reforms to the ways water is managed, as recommended by the Land and Water Forum two years ago, are now beginning to be implemented. The final shape and rate of reform will be very dependent on what government is elected in a few weeks. Therefore this is a particularly apt event looking at policy reforms that could reshape the way we manage and think about water.

“Implementing Reform” is the theme of the Water NZ annual conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention centre in the final week of the election campaign – 17 – 19 September.

Water reforms already implemented in Australia will be discussed in the first two sessions of the conference starting at 9.40 am on Wednesday 17. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

August 15, 2014

Commission releases draft report on 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses if Fonterra’s calculation approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The scope of the Commission’s review is only to look at the base milk price, not the retail price that consumers pay for processed milk. . . .

 

Fonterra’s farmgate milk price out of step with efficiency – Pattrick Smellie:

 (BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission says Fonterra Cooperative Group’s decision to cut the last season’s forecast payout to farmer shareholders by 55 cents per kilogram of milksolids below the result produced by its Farm Gate Milk Price calculation is not consistent with the milk price regime’s intention to make Fonterra operate efficiently.

However, it says the decision – the first ever taken to vary the payout from the calculated level since the Farm Gate Milk Price regime came into force in 2009 – was consistent with ensuring competitive provision of milk to alternative suppliers, the commission concluded in its annual review of the regime.

Under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, which allowed a merger to create Fonterra despite creating a dominant local market player, the commission must monitor how Fonterra sets the price it pays farmers for milk as part of efforts to ensure it’s possible for local dairy market competitors, such as Synlait or Westland Milk, to emerge.

Under the monitoring and reporting regime, the commission has no ability to force any change on Fonterra. . .

 

Latest dairy farm visits reveal poor record keeping:

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate has released the results of the third phase of its national dairy strategy, which involved visits to farms that employ migrant workers.

The findings show that while no exploitative conduct was found, a quarter of the farms visited were in breach of employment laws for poor record keeping.

Senior Labour Inspector Kris Metcalf says the visits were part of a long-term operation to check compliance with minimum employment obligations at dairy farms across the country.

“The majority of the 42 dairy farms visited in this phase were meeting minimum employment standards,” says Kris Metcalf.

“However, 11 farms were found to be in breach of their minimum employment obligations which is disappointing. . .

Government migrant dairy worker survey highlights procedure hole:

Following the third phase of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) dairy strategy, focussed on migrant workers, Federated Farmers knows a sizable minority of farmers still need to meet basic employment law and the Federation is offering to help.

“The latest information from MBIE shows that there has been a significant improvement in the performance of dairy farmers, but far too many are failing to take accurate time sheets seriously enough,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson.

“We are pleased MBIE inspectors did not find any exploitative behaviour of migrant workers on the 42 farms they visited. That said we’ve still got a bit of work to do with our guys on record keeping and basic employment practices. . . .

Softening the dairy blow:

• NZ dollar is under pressure
• Interest rate predictions delayed
• Meat sector outlook remains bullish

While eleven of the last twelve dairy auctions have recorded price falls, the sheer magnitude of the falls is bringing other factors in to play, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“With dairy prices down by 37 percent on a year ago, the NZD has finally come under some pressure” says Nathan Penny, ASB Rural Economist.

“The NZD has passed its peak. We expect the NZD to trade at around 85 US cents for the rest of the year.”

“The dairy price falls are also a major reason why we’ve pushed back our interest rate call.” ASB Economics now expects the next OCR increase in March 2014 rather than their previous call for a December 2014 hike. . .

 

Working group for dairy processing sector:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced the establishment of a working group to develop a ‘roadmap’ on how to meet the future capability needs of the dairy processing sector.

“This was a recommendation of the independent Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident last year. It found that our food safety regulatory model for dairy is among the best in the world, but also recommended improving people capability to strengthen the food safety system.

“The inquiry highlighted the shortage of experienced people with processing expertise across the industry’s regulatory sector, and at all levels of the system. . .

 Does Australia want to compete? – Jo Bills :

Recently the Business Council of Australia released a report it commissioned from McKinsey & Co – Compete to Prosper: Improving Australia’s global competitiveness.

It was fascinating reading – taking a helicopter view of the Australian economy and the global competitiveness of industry sectors.

Most of us probably regard Australia as a trading nation, but the McKinsey analysis highlights the fact that our economy remains quite inwardly focussed – while we are the world’s 12th largest economy, we rank 21st in terms of global trade – well behind some that you might assume we should be ahead of.

As part of the study, the McKinsey number-crunchers developed a Relative Competitiveness Score, applied it to all sectors of the Australian economy and found that only one sector – agriculture – stood out as truly competitive. . .

Boost for wilding tree control in Waimakariri:

A group of volunteers dedicated to clearing wilding trees around Flock Hill in upper Waimakariri is to receive a major funding boost, Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner announced today.

Waimakariri Ecological and Landscape Restoration Alliance will receive $309,000 over the next three years from the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Partnership Fund.

“Wilding trees are now the most significant threat to biodiversity and infrastructure in the 60,000 hectares of public and privately owned lands in the upper Waimakariri Basin. . .

Forest contractors welcome WorkSafe submission:

Today the government’s safety agency for forestry, WorkSafe NZ, has publicly released its submission to the panel of the Independent Forest Safety Review. The Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA), the industry group that originally initiated the review, has welcomed the comments from the regulator.

“We’re pleased that some vital issues have been highlighted by Gordon MacDonald’s WorkSafe NZ team,” says spokesman John Stulen of the Forest Industry Contractors Association, “They’ve made some very practical observations vital to making change in our industry.”

Stulen says WorkSafe NZ has been open and frank in their criticism of some shortcomings, yet has also been constructive at the same time. . .

Feed Partnership Set to Shake Up South Island Mag Regime:

South Island dairy farmers can now reap the rewards of a revolutionary new Magnesium product, which is transforming Magnesium use in dairying.

Animal feed ingredient supplier, BEC Feed Solutions, is partnering with South Island animal feed manufacturer and blender, James & Son (NZ) Pty Ltd, to give the region’s dairy farmers convenient access to its Bolifor® MGP+ product.

Bolifor® MGP+ is a unique alternative to messy pasture dusting and laborious daily drenching, and contains the essential minerals Magnesium and Phosphorus in the one product. It’s anticipated thatBolifor® MGP+ will be well received in the South Island, given that farmers, vets and animal nutritionists are observing an increase in Phosphorus deficiency due to the region’s dependency on fodder beet crops and changing land use. . .


Rural round-up

August 9, 2014

New remote control technology for forestry could save lives:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says the results from a trial using remote control technology in tree felling, which could save lives in forestry harvesting operations, show promising results.

“During the successful trial the operator was able to successfully fell and bunch several trees from a safe distance at the top of a steep slope using a remote control device,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Much of the forestry work in New Zealand is done on steep land. The use of remote control to operate machinery on steep land will essentially remove forestry workers from hazardous areas and prevent injuries and death—a valuable and critical step forward for the industry.” . . .

Russia wants our cheese but at what cost? – Niko Kloeten and Stacey Kirk:

New Zealand may have escaped Russia’s trade crackdown, but companies need to be careful doing business there, a trade expert says.

New Zealand has been warned that continuing to trade with Russia could damage its international reputation.

Russia today announced a ban on food imports from most Western countries, including the United States, Australia and the 29 member countries of the European Union, in retaliation against trade sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

New Zealand was not included in the ban, and Russia has signalled it will increase cheese imports from New Zealand to make up some of the shortfall. . .

Foreign ownership of farms ‘about right’ – Guy – Tim Cronshaw:

Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy is comfortable with the level of foreign investment in farmland as opposition grows against big tracts of land being bought by overseas owners.

Guy said New Zealanders should not lose sight they had relied heavily on foreign investment for a long time.

He said foreign ownership of land had become an election issue and the Government was confident of its position.

“We have to keep a reasoned and balanced debate through this issue and of course we will have political parties say they will do one thing on the campaign trail and maybe another when in government,” said Guy at a Christchurch luncheon this week. . .

Local people preserve the environment better than governments – Fred Pearce:

“FOR the Wapichan, our forests are our life.” Nicholas Fredericks, a local leader of these indigenous South American people, peers out from his village into the bush. “Outsiders have a financial view of the land,” he says. “They see our forests as money. We see them as life. We have to protect them for the future of our people.”

The Wapichan, who live in southern Guyana, have just completed a high-resolution map of their traditional lands to justify their claim for legal title. They want 14,000 square kilometres to be protected as a community forest. Guyana’s government has so far ignored their proposal. . .

 

 

The importance of ‘nutrient efficiency’ - Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter and early spring are when nutrients – whether introduced as fertiliser or produced by stock – are most at risk of getting lost from farms.

That’s due to seasonal and other factors such as high rainfall, reduced pasture growth, a huge amount of urine being produced, soil compaction and pugging.

To help farmers keep on top of the implications of this for their property’s profitability and impact on the environment, a farm nutrient budget is a valuable indicator of the status of nutrients in a farm system.

It indicates where fertiliser applications are inadequate and leading to a decline in the soil nutrient status. Conversely, it can indicate excessive inputs which result in a nutrient surplus and greater potential for losses of contaminants to waterways and groundwater. . .

 

New standard for measurement of ‘water footprint’:

A new international standard will guide organisations to measure their ‘water footprint’, and New Zealanders were involved in developing the standard.

ISO 14046 Environmental management – Water footprint – Principles, requirements and guidelines will allow all kinds of organisations, from industry, to government and NGOs, the means to measure their ‘water footprint’, or their potential environmental impact of water use and pollution.

Developed by experts from all over the world, the standard is based on a Life Cycle Assessment and can assist in: . . .

CRV Ambreed couple re-locate for South Island farming clients:

CRV Ambreed herd improvement specialists, Mark and Sue Duffy, have packed up their bags and shifted to Oamaru, where they will be helping to improve farmers’ businesses across the South Island region.

The Duffy’s have a long passion for herd management and breeding and are looking forward to sharing their dairy experience with farmers who want to get the best results for their herd.

“We’ll be working across the region to help farmers achieve a productive, healthy, fertile and efficient herd,” said Mr Duffy. . .


Rural round-up

August 1, 2014

Westland forecast follows Fonterra’s suit:

The dairy cooperative, Westland Milk Products, has charted a similar course to Fonterra’s benchmark forecast released yesterday for the current 2014/15 season, by announcing a pay-out forecast of $6 to $6.40 per kilogram of Milksolids (kg/MS).

“Given Fonterra’s announcement yesterday, farmer-shareholders on the Coast appreciate this early heads-up from our co-op,” says Renee Rooney, Federated Farme0rs Dairy chairperson.

“Even better is firming confirmation of the 2013/14 final payout in the $7.50 – $7.70 kg/MS range. Of course we’ve got retentions on top but it is set to be a good payout and Westland’s supplier communication has been pretty good. . .

Heads of Agreement and Strategic Relationship formed between Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa and Lincoln University:

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa and Lincoln University today announced the signing of a Heads of Agreement and Strategic Relationship.  This relationship agreement forms the basis for partnerships across education, training, research and commercial development.  The Ngā Wairiki-Ngāti Apa people of Whangaehu, Rangitīkei and Turakina own the Rūnanga, and have interests in seeing their people developed in all levels of the primary industries.  The Rūnanga is also keen to see the general Māori population in the region given better access to primary sector training and tertiary education.

Rūnanga Chairman Pahia Turia said that “Through our Treaty settlements we have land, and we have recently established Te Hou Farms Limited Partnership which purchased the historic Flock House farms near Bulls, early in June.  We are therefore committed investors in the primary sector, and we have a real interest in seeing our own people developed and working at all levels in the primary sector on and around our investments.” . . .

The Changing Face of the Global Dairy Industry:

Standing in front of the milk powder dryer of Oceania Dairy Limited’s new factory at Glenavy, Shane Lodge has a feeling of deja vu – but with a difference.

Shane’s 30 year career in the dairy industry has seen him involved in new plant construction for Fonterra and New Zealand Dairy Limited. The difference this time, is that Oceania’s owners are Chinese and that is a reflection of the changing face of the global dairy industry. . .

How to take the anxiety out of farm succession planning:

Many farmers put succession planning into the too hard basket because of rising capital values, but it’s a crucial process that will be a lot less fraught with danger if family members are involved in the process, says Neil McAra, Crowe Horwath’s Managing Principal – Southland.

“It’s never too early to start planning for retirement and farm succession,” said Mr McAra, who noted that one key to a successful plan was distinguishing between reward for services provided by family members and the risk/reward for ownership/investment in the business.

Another key element was for the farm owners to ensure they had considered whether they would have an ongoing role in the business, and define what that role would be.
“To alleviate the possibility of things getting off track, it is important to ensure that owners adequately plan for the future of the farm and the people within it, so that all runs smoothly and they can enjoy the transition process.” . .

Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill passes third reading:

A bill to strengthen the regulation of foreign-owned commercial fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters has passed its third and final reading in Parliament today.

The Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Bill will require all foreign charter vessels to carry the New Zealand flag from 1 May 2016, and operate under full New Zealand legal jurisdiction.

“This bill will help maintain our reputation around the world. It shows that we are serious about the fair treatment of fishing crews, the safety of vessels and New Zealand’s international reputation for ethical and sustainable fishing practices,” Mr Guy says. . .

Seafood New Zealand Says Kaikoura Conservation Legislation a Community Template:

Seafood New Zealand has hailed the passage of the Kaikoura (Te Tai-o-Marokura) Marine Management Bill by Parliament today as a template for seafood and environment conservation measures throughout New Zealand.

Parliament passed the bill into law on the last day of sitting before the House rose for the election campaign.

Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says the legislation is designed to serve the long term interests of those who use and enjoy the Kaikoura coastline. . .

Rural Valuer recognised with top industry award:

QV registered Valuer David Paterson has had his outstanding service to the valuation profession recognised with the New Zealand Institute of Valuers (NZIV) Premier Award – the John M Harcourt Memorial Award.

Paterson, who has been a valuer for more than 30 years and is the National Manager of QV business, Rural Value, accepted the award in front of 300 attendees at the NZIV conference in Rotorua earlier this month.

He told the audience, “I feel honoured to receive this award, especially when you note some of the previous recipients.” . .

Aussie investors to sell their NZ vineyard investments:

The high value of the New Zealand dollar has motivated the Australian owners of several vineyards in the heart of New Zealand’s premier sauvignon blanc grape growing region to place two of their properties on the market for sale.

Both neighbouring vineyards are in the highly-fertile Waihopai Valley in Marlborough. The larger of the two vineyards is a 43 hectare holding – with almost 38 hectares planted in a mix of sauvignon blanc and pinot gris varieties. The second vineyard is a 36 hectare landholding planted in almost 24 hectares of sauvignon blanc grapes. . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2014

Speech to Red Meat Sector conference – Nathan Guy:

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to address you all tonight.

Following some challenging years, there are strong indications of improved results for many companies in the sector this year.

This resilience is a reflection of the hard work of people throughout the red meat sector.

The meat and wool sectors make up 21 percent of total primary sector export revenue at an estimated export value of $8 billion for the year ending 30 June 2014, which is a record.

The recovery of dry stock numbers after last year’s drought and the productivity improvements need to be acknowledged.

In the face of forecast decreases in stock numbers these capabilities will be important assets for the future. . .

Growth in global milk pool ‘unusual,’ says Spierings, in cutting forecast - Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The global market for dairy products have been in the unusual situation where most producers have been lifting supply, while demand weakened in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, says Fonterra Cooperative Group chief executive Theo Spierings.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter today cut its Farmgate Milk Price forecast for the 2014/2015 year to $6 a kilogram of milk solids from a previous forecast of $7 kgMS, reflecting a slide in global dairy prices, which touched their lowest levels since December 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction. It flagged a dividend of 20 cents to 25 cents, up from last year’s 10 cent payment.

“All milk pools around the world showed significant growth – we see milk coming from everywhere,” Spierings said. “On the demand side, China is looking at pretty high inventories” although in-market sales “are still very, very strong in China.” Demand in Southeast Asia and the Middle East had dropped off faster than expected as rising prices were passed onto consumers, he said. . . .

Agri industry passion leads to new appointment – Rabobank:

With a clear passion for the agricultural industry and strong knowledge of the sector, Georgia Twomey is thrilled to be appointed as a commodity analyst in Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team.

Based in Rabobank’s Australia/New Zealand head office in Sydney, Ms Twomey will oversee sugar, cotton and wool – three key sectors for Rabobank’s business in the region.

Ms Twomey says she has always loved working in the agricultural industry, particularly being raised with a farming background, growing up in Goulburn in southern New South Wales.

“I love the agricultural industry and believe the sector really holds the key to Australia’s future economic security,” she says. . .

More emphasis on microbes required in food safety -

Current concepts regarding food safety and security may be inadequate for fully addressing what is an increasingly complex issue. That’s according to Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology, Dr Malik Hussain.

Dr Hussain has been invited as a representative of the University’s Centre for Food Research and Innovation to the Asian Food Safety and Security Association Conference to be held in Vietnam in August. He will also chair a workshop at the conference on risk assessment and management with regard to food safety.

Although the matter of food safety and security may sound simple enough, it is, in fact, a multi-dimensional and complicated issue, made all the more so from increasing pressures stemming from rapid population growth. . .

Steve Yung appointed as new Sealord CEO:

Sealord Group Ltd’s Board of Directors has appointed experienced food industry leader Steve Yung as the company’s next CEO.

Canadian born Yung has most recently been Managing Director of McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand and will take up his new role, based in Auckland on the 25th August 2014. He was a member of the global Senior Leadership Team at McCain.

Sealord Group Chairman Matanuku Mahuika said Yung has a strong set of skills that will help the company’s growth and development, particularly in the Australian market. . . .

Protecting your winter grazing business:

Both graziers and those sending animals for grazing have obligations under the NAIT programme to record the movements of animals from farm to farm. It is the grazier’s responsibility to record a NAIT movement from the grazing block to the home farm for animals that have been wintered on their property.

It’s also important that the person in charge of the animals at the receiving home farm confirm with NAIT when the cattle arrive back from grazing.

This can be done through movement related notification emails that include a direct link to the NAIT system, where animal movements can be confirmed or rejected in just a few clicks. Alternatively, you can contact NAIT on 0800 624 843. . . .

UK supermarket giant partners with New Zealand Ag-Tech company for major R&D collaboration:

British supermarket Sainsbury’s is teaming up with New Zealand’s Techion Group to run an international, cutting edge, technology project. The two-year international research & development project will roll out on-farm technology to effectively manage parasites increasing product quality and profits for farmers.

 J Sainsbury Plc, in conjunction withTechion Group Ltd, has announced Sainsbury’s will support the cost of implementing Techion’s technology, the FECPAK G2 system, both in New Zealand and the UK. The project team includes meat processors Alliance Group (NZ), Dunbia (UK) and Randall Parker Foods (UK).

Greg Mirams, Founder and Managing Director of the animal parasite diagnostics company, Techion, is at the centre of the project. He is confident it will have a significant impact on farmers’ profit and efficiency here and in the UK. . .  .


Labour wants to meddle in meat industry

July 28, 2014

Labour loves to meddle in businesses where it has no business to be and if it gets into government it will be meddling in the meat industry:

Labour will create more jobs and wealth by providing the leadership and funding to help participants reform the meat sector through developing a larger scale sustainable model as part of our Economic Upgrade for the sector, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The meat sector continues to decline and must meet new challenges to maintain a secure and skilled workforce. Like our wider economy it needs an upgrade to compete overseas.

“Labour will do this by encouraging the creation of businesses with real market scale and, if required, we will look to amend the Commerce Act to achieve this aim. We will also work with Iwi and large agricultural companies to consolidate efforts and interests for the long term. . .

The meat industry is dominated by two farmer-owned co-operatives and there are also several smaller players.

What they do and how they do it is primarily the business of these businesses and their shareholders.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has repeatedly, and correctly, said he will not intervene unless there sector comes up with a plan supported by the players which requires his assistance.

Anything else would be interference in private enterprise where the government has no right to be.

The industry does have challenges but Guy, and the National Party, understand any change in the meat industry must come from farmers and the processing companies.

Any attempt to impose a solution from the government down would be expensive and have the potential to contravene free trade agreements.


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. . . .


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