Rural round-up

September 5, 2014

New forestry body provides unity - Alan Williams:

The linking of the forest products processing and manufacturing sector in one industry organisation should set it up to be internationally competitive, the group says.

It would also allow the Government to see the sector as a major industry entity, in the same way it sees Fonterra in the dairy sector, Wood Processing and Manufacturing Association (WPMA) chief executive Jon Tanner said.

The new association was launched officially in Wellington last week but has been operating for a couple of months. 

It links the entire processing supply chain outside the forest boundary – businesses involved in pulp and paper, packaging, solid wood, engineered wood, and a lot else, including the Frame and Truss Manufacturers Association, which will continue as a separate entity within the overall umbrella. . . .

A2 cornerstone shareholder Freedom Foods buys $589k of shares after dilution – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Freedom Foods Group bought almost one million shares of A2 Milk Co this week for about $589,000 after its stake was diluted in the past year due to the issue of partly-paid shares.

The Sydney-based food company bought 942,500 shares in four transactions in A2 this week at an average price of about 62.5 cents, according to a substantial shareholder notice filed to the NZX. Freedom Foods holds about 117.9 million shares, or 17.9 percent of A2, leaving it as the biggest shareholder in the milk marketing company.

Because A2 issued partly-paid shares to executives earlier this year, Freedom Foods’ stake was diluted down from 18.1 percent when it made its last disclosure in December 2012. . . .

Venison prices on the move:

European market prices for chilled New Zealand venison are reported to be up about 5 per cent on last year, with exporters hopeful of reduced competition from European game meat supplies. But prices to farmers are currently being held back by a stronger New Zealand dollar.

Venison exporters have recently indicated they see the venison schedule potentially reaching $8/kg for 55-60 kg AP stags. This would be similar to the 2012 national average published schedule peak of $7.95/kg and much better than last year’s peak of $7.40/kg.

The main factor restraining prices to farmers at this point in the traditional chilled game meat season is currency, with the Kiwi dollar 8.4% stronger against the Euro than at the same time last year. This is reflected in an average schedule that is 7% weaker. . . .

Look for rooks :

 Thousands of eyes on the ground are needed to help Otago Regional Council (ORC) eliminate rooks.

Its rook control programme has begun and runs until November. The council is asking people to look out for rooks and their rookeries.

Anyone noticing rooks in Otago can call Malcolm Allan on 027 278 8498, or ORC on 0800 474 082 or email info@orc.govt.nz

At their peak there were several thousand nesting rooks in Otago but their numbers have been drastically reduced through the council’s control programmes.

Rooks, part of the crow and raven family, are larger than magpies and totally black. . . .

New Ballance director brings new dimension:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has appointed Genesis Energy Chief Executive Albert Brantley as a new independent director to its board.

The farm nutrient co-operative reconfigured its board in 2012 to include three appointed directors to work alongside six regional directors elected by its farmer shareholders.

Ballance Chairman David Peacocke says independent directors are crucial to the governance of the co-operative with its turnover of close to $1 billion and profits of $90 million.

“We have come a long way from being a simple fertiliser company. We have divisions including complex fertiliser and feed manufacturing, we are developing leading edge farm technology and we are an integral part of the agricultural sector which drives our economy. A combination of farmer directors and appointed directors ensure we have the balance of skills, experience and perspectives for good governance. We take our commitment to performing consistently for our farmer shareholders seriously, and having strong governance is an essential component of this.” . . .

 

 New Zealand Avocado Launches New Campaign at Asia’s Largest Fresh Produce Trade Show:

 New Zealand’s avocado industry will launch its new export market promotional material at Asia’s leading fresh fruit and vegetable trade show Asia Fruit Logistica (AFL) this week in Hong Kong.
Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of New Zealand Avocado, says the new marketing collateral positions New Zealand avocado as a premium product promoting quality, safety and health.

“The unique property of New Zealand grown avocados that we will promote in Asia is time. New Zealand grown avocados hang on the tree for much longer than in other producing countries – at least a year, during this time they are fed by the generous rainfall and sunshine all the while being nurtured by our dedicated growers,” says Scoular. . . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2014

Federation wins rates remission against urban sprawl:

Federated Farmers is thrilled that common sense has prevailed in the Horowhenua District Council’s unanimous decision to adopt a rates remission for farms being rezoned as urban.

“Due to the urban sprawl, farmers are increasingly being rezoned as urban, and consequently being faced with enormous rates bills, but thankfully the Council listened to us and has taken a more common sense approach,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“Federated Farmers suggested a similar rates remission policy to its neighbouring Kapiti Coast, in order to avoid unnecessary costs to farming businesses, which would reduce their competitiveness with other farmers in the region. . .

Council and farmers work together – Chris Lewis:

As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. This is now evident in the Waikato as we see comparative data in effluent compliance, prepared by the Waikato Regional Council, pre the collaborative process and to now.

With farm inspections on the ground having increased by just over 200 farms since 2012, we are seeing a conscious effort to work alongside farmers rather than be a distant enforcer. Every successful business or individual knows that their achievement depends on a community working together, with a shared vision or goal. . .

Focus on farm-exit water quality :

The Otago Water Plan’s Plan Change 6A (PC6A) was not about the Otago Regional Council using a ”big stick” to ensure compliance for water quality, chief executive Peter Bodeker said.

He said the council did not wish to dictate to land owners, farmers, horticulturists and forest owners how they managed their properties.

The council decided to take an ”effects-based approach” to controlling discharges from properties, rather than regulating operational methods, and to encourage management practices that ensured water leaving the property was of sufficient quality. . .

Gold surge tipped for Zespri - Richard Rennie:

An impending avalanche of Gold kiwifruit will present as many challenges as opportunities for growers over the next two seasons and returns are expected to ease as a result.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager used this year’s annual meeting to caution growers about the prospect of moving from a post-Psa famine in gold fruit to a feast by 2018.  

The latest harvest yielded the lowest volume yet of the high-value fruit, at 11.1 million trays, reflecting the grafting change from the disease ravaged Hort16a variety to the more Psa-tolerant Gold3 and associated varieties. . .

Ag scientist’s career marked by contrasts  - Sue O’Dowd,

Agricultural science has provided a Taranaki man with a career marked by contrasts.

There’s been the ice, snow and dry valleys of Antarctica and the desert of Saudi Arabia. Malcolm Macfarlane has also worked for the New Zealand Fire Service and in the hillcountry of the North Island’s East Coast, where he’s undertaking forage research.

Although he lives in Inglewood, where wife Rosie Mabin is Inglewood High School’s principal, he’s a scientist for Hastings-based On-Farm Research. . . .

The latest dairy farm syndicate spurns debt as investors focus on risk – Greg Ninness:

Roger Dickie NZ has launched a dairy farm investment syndicate that will have almost no debt.

The company is best known for putting together forestry investment vehicles, but its latest offering, Eastbourne Dairy Farm Ltd, will be its third dairy farm offering and it has also previously syndicated a sheep and beef property.

Eastbourne has been set up with a company structure in which investors will buy shares, with 11 million shares on offer at a dollar each and the minimum investment being $25,000.

The proceeds will be used to buy an established 241ha dairy farm in Southland and a 520 cow herd. . . .

 


Rural round-up

May 12, 2014

Beer cheese ‘natural joint project’ – Rebecca Ryan:

Joining forces to create a beer cheese was a ”natural collaboration” for Oamaru companies Whitestone Cheese and Scotts Brewing Company.

Since January, the businesses have been trialling different recipes and techniques to develop a beer cheese.

The final product, an ”Indian Pale Airedale”, is due to be launched in spring, with manufacturing starting in the next few weeks.

”We’ve just come up with one we’re really pleased with,” Whitestone Cheese chief executive officer Simon Berry said. . .

Meat industry reform and the phony war - Keith Woodford:

The current situation in the meat industry reminds me of two famous phrases from the First and Second World Wars. From the First World War, came the term ’all quiet on the Western Front’. And then early in the Second World War there was the ‘phony war’. Both were periods of quiet while the protagonists geared up for major battles. All parties knew that it was actually the quiet that was phony.

The current situation in the meat industry is similar. Eventually hostilities will inevitably break out as the processing and marketing companies compete with each other for survival. In beef there is scope for most to survive, but in sheep meat there have to be casualties. . . .

Turned on the weather – RivettingKateTaylor:

By the time I arrived home from the Farmer of the Year field day yesterday it was raining, freezing and dark. Just an hour earlier I was standing in the sun in the yard at Drumpeel, partaking of some yummy Silver Fern Farms product, catching up with some of Hawke’s Bay’s rural clan.

About 264 people attended the 2014 Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year field day (according to the man counting at the gate!) at the CHB property of Hugh and Sharon Ritchie and their four beautiful children (sorry David, let’s try one handsome son and three beautiful daughters). . .

Kate has more photos of the field day here.

Irrigation agreement signed with ORC - David Bruce:

Otago Regional Council councillors and staff on Thursday saw how the North Otago Irrigation Company and its farmers are managing efficient use of water and flow-on effects before signing an agreement with North Otago irrigation companies and representatives.

Cropping and dairy support farmer Peter Mitchell with the help of the company’s environmental manager Jodi Leckie, explained how variable rate irrigation and close monitoring of soil needs helped both the farmer and the environment on a Fortification Rd property.

The Memorandum of Agreement is with North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC), the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company (LWIC), and the Waitaki Irrigators’ Collective Ltd and concerns implementation of the council’s Regional Plan: Water for Otago Plan Change 6A. . .

 

Great conditions for olives this season:

The olive harvest is off to a good start with the hot dry summer combining with the industry’s maturing trees to provide lots of high quality fruit.

Olives New Zealand president Andrew Taylor said the harvest began in the far North in late March and will finish up in Canterbury in July.

He said it was the second consecutive summer that the industry had had ideal weather conditions for growing olives, which had led to excellent fruit quality, and the odds of great oil were high. . .

Sustainable piggeries in American Samoa preventing contamination:

Farmers in American Samoa have been told to avoid using water to clean out their piggeries in a move to avoid contamination.

Almost 100 farmers were schooled last week on environmentally-friendly ‘dry-litter’ piggeries, that use woodchips instead of water to deal with waste, which then provides composting options for crops.

The chief piggery compliance officer, Antonina Te’o, says wash-down systems can cause land and water pollution and allow waste material to infiltrate the drinking water supply. . . .

 


Farmers angry with AgResearch

March 18, 2014

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson said last week’s meeting with farmers in Gore was constructive over plans to move scientists from Invermay to Lincoln was constructive.

The meeting was initiated by the Southern Texel Breeders and hosted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
Eighty seven people attended the meeting, of which about 50 were farmers.

“It was good to be able to speak to concerned farmers directly about our plans to deliver them better science and higher returns. It was a good wide-ranging discussion, and wasn’t solely focused on our reinvestment plans for AgResearch campuses,” says Dr Richardson.

“There was also discussion on government investment in science, industry support for science and how to take research forward.

“Regards our campus reinvestment plans, we understand the concerns of Southland and Otago farmers, and it was an opportunity to reinforce the fact we are not closing Invermay – in fact we’d like to increase the numbers of staff there who are dealing with on farm and regional environment issues.”

AgResearch’s Future Footprint plan will position the organisation for the long-term to deliver better science, more effectively, to New Zealand farmers, the pastoral sector and the New Zealand economy.

The Southern Texel Breeders passed a motion requesting an independent review of the plan, which will involve the co-location of scientists into science innovation hubs, allowing for a more effective collaborative approach to tackle national science ‘big issues’.

Dr Richardson says the plan will see $100 million reinvested to create modern facilities that are functional, adaptable and fit for modern science.

“Future Footprint will see us maximising the use of our facilities and specialist infrastructure to achieve better returns for AgResearch, our clients and the pastoral sector,” says Dr Richardson.

“We remain committed to find the best solution to continue to deliver the science all New Zealand farmers rely on to stay ahead of their international counterparts.”

Farmers aren’t convinced and they’re angry.

They pay levies which provide a good part of AgResearch’s funds and they want scientists to stay based where the bulk of sheep and beef farming takes place – in Otago and Southland.

Immigration Minister and Dunedin-based MP Michael Woodhouse isn’t convinced AgResearch has yet made its case for shifting scientists from Invermay to Lincoln.

As the debate about the merits of an AgResearch hub being established at Lincoln, Mr Woodhouse confirmed to the Otago Daily Times yesterday he had visited Invermay and talked to the staff.

There had been a fear that leaving just 20 scientists at Invermay to deal with farming services and animal services was a ”death spiral” number. But Mr Woodhouse had been ”assured” by AgResearch 20 was the absolute minimum number of scientists and it was hoped to lift the number to 50 scientists at Invermay in the future.

”We need to test that plan and make sure it is the right thing to do for New Zealand Inc and New Zealand agriculture. Can we be confident moving 50 scientists out of 80 from Invermay is better than moving the 30 from Christchurch to Invermay? I am not convinced AgResearch has met the test set them by Minister [Steven] Joyce.” . . .

The plan hasn’t met the farmers’ test.

Dr Andrew West tried to merge AgResearch and Lincoln when he headed AgResearch and failed. Farmers think he’s trying to achieve the same thing by another route now he’s vice chancellor of the university.

They wonder if the plan has more to do with shoring up Lincoln than what’s best for the industry.

AgResearch gets a lot of their money and they are worried that much-needed research will suffer from the loss of institutional knowledge and distance from the main concentration of sheep and beef production.

Whether or not the move goes ahead, one option for any spare buildings no-one has mentioned is as the headquarters for the Otago Regional Council.

The ORC has been looking for a new home and had expensive plans for one in the city. That was torpedoed but they still need a bigger base.

Invermay, with or without the current AgResearch staff, could be an option.


Rural round-up

March 8, 2014

Otago water plan appeals resolved:

The appeals of Federated Farmers and others on Otago Regional Council’s Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) have been constructively resolved for farming and the environment.

“Otago Regional Council’s Plan Change 6A is now a reality,” says Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president.

“On paper, at least, it offers a roadmap for maintaining or improving water quality in Otago. Now the hard work of implementing the plan begins. . .

What’s good for the farmer also proves good for the environment - Jamie Gray:

In Canterbury, the cockies are only half joking when they say they’re into hydroponics.

For dairy farmers, once they have the land it’s just a matter of adding water, the right feed, nutrients and cows and the result is milk. Lots of it.

In some parts of the province, you only have to dig down a few centimetres before hitting gravel and soil can vary widely in depth and quality.

Dairying does have an impact on the environment and it is heavily reliant on irrigation. So it comes as no surprise that water usage and quality is a hot topic in the region and the nation in general. . .

New posting to boost MPI presence in the Middle East:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the creation of a new position for an Agricultural Counsellor to be based in Dubai.

The announcement has been made as part of the Minister’s current visit to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“This new position is the latest step by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to increase its presence in the Middle East. It recognises the growing importance of the New Zealand relationship with the region and will provide further support for New Zealand exporters,” says Mr Guy.

“Based in Dubai, the position will cover key markets in the Middle East and seek to advance our trade and economic relationships. The position will also contribute to New Zealand’s strategy to develop strong government and private sector relationships with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). . .

Why wait till disaster strikes? – Katie Milne:

Ten years ago last month, the Manawatu suffered flooding in scenes eerily similar to what we saw in Britain and now Christchurch.  That 2004 flood event cost $300 million with Palmerston North coming within a hair’s breadth of disaster. 

In Britain, a former head of its Environment Agency dismissively said of Somerset’s flood management: “I’d like to see a limpet mine put on every pumping station.”  The UK’s Environment Agency acts like a huge regional council for England and Wales on flood and coastal management.  Its embattled head, Lord Smith, now faces headlines like this: “Environment Agency bosses spent £2.4million on PR… but refused £1.7million dredging of key Somerset rivers that could have stopped flooding.”

In October 2010, the late Horizons Regional Councillor, David Meads, told the Manawatu Standard that the Resource Management Act made it harder for his council to deliver its core business of flood protection:  “…that $6 million saved Palmerston North…But the work lower down, on the tributaries, was way behind. As we found out in 2004.”  Farmers felt shut out on consultation on flood and drainage schemes yet, “they were the people whose gumboots overflowed when heavy rain caused flooding on the plains.” In Christchurch, I guess we can add homeowners. . .

Husband and Wife to be tested in Kaikohe:

The Northern Regional Final of ANZ Young Farmer Contest will see husband and wife Rachel and Robert Cashmore of Papakura, battle it out in Kaikohe, Saturday 15 March.

The couple, along with six other competitors, will be vying for a place at the Grand Final and their share of $14,000 in prizes from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

The events begin with the practical day at the Kaikohe Showgrounds which will test competitors’ skills, strength and stamina. There will be a variety of hands-on, physical and theoretical challenges – all with an agricultural and farming focus.. .

Fieldays seeks agricultural innovators:

The highly regarded Fieldays Innovation Competition is back after yet another ground breaking year which saw previous entrants finding fame and fortune.

The most innovative competition in the agricultural industry is now open for 2014 and organisers are urging inventors to enter their rural innovations in the distinguished competition held annually at Fieldays, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agribusiness expo.

The competition celebrates New Zealand ingenuity by showcasing the latest innovations, backyard inventions and commercial improvements, with thousands of Fieldays visitors eager to view the latest rural advancements. . .

Years of Dedication Sees Double Award Win for Goat Cheesemaker:

Rural Waikato cheesemaker Jeanne Van Kuyk is celebrating an incredible double win at the 2014 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards after claiming a highly sought-after supreme award and major category win.

Aroha Organic Goat Cheese cheesemaker, Jeanne, was presented with the Milk Test NZ Cheesemaker of the Year Award at a gala dinner and awards night held at The Langham, Auckland on Tuesday night (March 4).

While the certified organic, and GE free company is no stranger to award wins, this is the first time Aroha Organic Goat Cheese has taken out one of the coveted supreme titles. . .


Oyster farming secret cracked

September 9, 2013

Bluff Oyster Co says it’s cracked the secret to farming oysters for export:

A Bluff oyster company says it has cracked the secret to farming the Bluff oyster for export.

But the company, which is based in the old Ocean Beach meatworks in the port town, will not be ready to start production until it finds suitable waters to finish off the oysters.

New Zealand’s Bluff Oyster Co general manager Rodney Clark said they would then be ready to produce millions of oysters for the world market.

Mr Clark, who has been involved in the Southland fishing industry for 25 years, said he started pioneering the project a decade ago.

The hatchery and nursery were now “perfected” and ready to produce millions of oyster spat and adult-sized oysters for export, he said. . .

This is good news for oyster lovers all over the world.

I’m not among them but accept the verdict of oyster lovers that the Bluff ones are the best.

“This has the potential, with the right support in the southern region, to produce hundreds of new jobs but it will need support from councils and local government,” he said.

Targeting the export market would avoid flooding the New Zealand market and help to protect the existing wild Bluff oyster industry, Mr Clark said.

The oysters would be grown in the hatchery before moving into Bluff Harbour. But the harbour is not “certified waters” so the oysters would need to be moved to other certified waters approved for the sale of shellfish for export.

New Zealand’s Bluff Oyster Co is working with Southern Clams, which is based in Dunedin.

Southern Clams operations manager Dave Redshaw said he was in the process of applying for a resource consent to finish the Bluff oysters in Otago Harbour.

The farmed Bluff oysters would be moved to the harbour for two weeks to cleanse before meeting export standard, he said.

The Otago Regional Council had rejected two applications because of insufficient information, but the company expected to present its third application next month, he said. . .

The ODT is running a Stand Up Otago campaign which is supported by the ORC and Dunedin City Council.

Having a how-can-we-help attitude rather than a you-have-to-do-this one from councils plays an important part in business development.

I’m not suggesting they should break any rules, just that they need to ensure the rules they have are necessary and that applicants are helped to comply with them.

The south needs all the jobs it can get and councils must ensure they’re not putting unnecessary hurdles in the way of businesses which could crate them.


Rural round-up

February 21, 2013

Fish war on canals :

”Greedy” salmon anglers threatening to turn a salmon bonanza in the Waitaki hydro canals into a free-for-all are being accused of ignoring catch limits and using illegal methods to catch easy prey.

Following the release of 36,000 salmon smolt from the Mt Cook Alpine Salmon hatchery at Ohau 18 months ago, anglers have reported being able to hook a fish on every cast at some spots on the Tekapo and Ohau canals.

However, Central South Island Fish and Game field officer Graeme Hughes said the easy fishing had resulted in more people fishing illegally and ignoring the two-salmon quota. .  .

Tarras scheme reprieve - Rebecca Fox:

Potential irrigator Tarras Water Ltd has had a reprieve, but it has come with a stern warning from the Otago Regional Council.

The council voted 7-3 to overturn its own hearing panel’s recommendation not to amend the long-term plan to allow for investment in the irrigation scheme at a meeting in Dunedin yesterday. Instead, the ORC is proposing the amendment go ahead.

As the decision gives the council the option to invest in the scheme, a meeting will be held, possibly as early as next month, when councillors will make the decision whether to invest – with conditions attached – or not. . .

Cautious steps in goat milk expansion:

An Australasian goat milk company, CapriLac, is looking to expand “in a cautious way” in the Waikato.

Co-owner Rupert Soar said the family-owned company was advertising for goat farmers who were interested in selling their goat milk or leasing their operations to the company.

The company had received “quite a bit of interest”, and was following up leads, Soar said.

Farmers did not need to buy shares to get involved, as the company was not a co-operative. . .

Mining rights unlikely to affect farm sales – Terri Russell:

Solid Energy’s decision to sell farmland and keep mineral rights for mining would not turn away potential buyers, a Southland rural agent says.

About 1000 hectares of farmland near Mataura have been put on the market, and the mining giant plans to retain rights to lignite resources under the surface for about 30 years.

Last year, the company reviewed its land holdings after a drop in coal prices and a $40m loss for the year ending June 2012.

Southern Wide Real Estate director Philip Ryan said potential buyers would not be put-off if it were reserved for mining because about half of Southland had mineral rights. . .

A finalist but best still home – Gerald Piddock:

Doug and Jeannie Brown have made the final of the 2013 Glammies.

The North Otago farmers made the cut in the best of breed – traditional for one of his romney lambs grown on his farm at Maheno.

It was the third time they had entered the Golden Lamb Awards and the first time they have made the finals. This year four sheep were entered into the competition.

Their entry was one of 20 finalists which made the cut out of 180 entries from around the country. . . .

 

 

 

 

 


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