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

June 11, 2014

Sector in good heart – judge – Sally Rae:

After travelling 3800km in nine days, visiting 27 farms throughout New Zealand, Preston Hope is heartened by the state of the sheep industry.

Mr Hope, who farms with his wife, Tori, at Deep Stream, between Middlemarch and Outram, was one of three judges for the final round of the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

The couple won the competition in 2012 and it was an honour to be asked to officiate, he said. . . .

2014 New Zealand wine vintage to support export growth:

The 2014 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked across the country.

“All grape growing regions experienced very favourable growing conditions through the summer and into the early autumn. 2014 is set to be another memorable, high quality vintage which will provide a further boost to growing wine exports” said New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Officer Philip Gregan.

According to the 2014 Vintage Survey, 445,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2014 crop is up 29% on the harvest last year and will position the industry well for the continuing consumer demand for New Zealand wine. Virtually every region has achieved production growth and for the first time Nelson, Waipara and Central Otago have exceeded 10,000 tonnes. . . .

Skilled and off-farm jobs the growth areas for agriculture – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Support services will be the biggest source of job growth for an increasingly sophisticated agricultural sector, a report on the future workforce needs of primary industries concludes.

Projections for the Ministry of Primary Industries, published today, forecasts that some 140,000 primary sector support services jobs will be required by 2025, compared with around 105,000 now, making it the fastest area of job growth and the largest source of employment in the primary sector, which covers sheep, beef, dairy and other animal farming, horticulture, fishing, and forestry.

Sheep and beef farming shows the largest fall in projected workforce size will be in the sheep and beef sectors, where jobs are expected to shrink to around 70,000 by 2025, from around 95,000 in 2002. The booming dairy sector shows hardly any job growth in the next decade, settling at around 50,000. . . .

Accommodation shortage of Fieldays - Susie Nordqvist:

It might be the biggest event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, but Fieldays management says the event’s future growth could be threatened by an accommodation shortage in Hamilton.

So canny locals are cashing in and renting out their homes.

“I’m renting out my house to exhibitors who are exhibiting over the week of Fieldays, and I’m going as far away from here as I possibly can,” says homeowner Sam Ward. . .

Forest owners want people to speak up

The sponsors of the Independent Forestry Safety Review welcome the public consultation document issued by the review panel on Friday.

”It poses a series of questions which will provide a useful structure for the public consultation meetings that begin on 12 June. We strongly encourage forest owners, contractors, workers and anyone else with an interest in improving the safety of people working in forestry to go to one of the meetings, or to make a private submission,” says Forest Owners Association (FOA) president Paul Nicholls. . . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales For 2013-14 Season:

New Zealand’s avocado industry today announced it has more than doubled its sales from last season to $136m, setting new records in both export and New Zealand markets.

This stunning return eclipses the previous sales record of $84.1m set in 2009-10 and is far in excess of the $60.4m worth of avocados sold last year.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says this season’s success is due to a number of reasons including initiatives which are transforming the industry into a more cohesive and competitive sector. . . .

B+LNZ Sheep Industry Awards 2014:

Help us recognise the best of the best in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards. Nominations close 30 June.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is excited to be hosting our annual showcase for sheep farming excellence in Napier this year, the first North Island venue for the event. . .

Search for top NZ rural consultants gets closer

Nominations for the annual Consultant of the Year Awards have closed and Farmax is one step closer to announcing this year’s top New Zealand dairy, sheep and beef, and emerging rural professionals.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said the awards were developed last year to recognise the expertise and value agricultural consultants and rural professionals provide to the New Zealand pastoral farming industry, which often goes unnoticed.

“On a regular basis we see first-hand the invaluable service that rural professionals provide farmer clients with. The feedback we receive from farmers about their consultants is really uplifting. It shows just how much of a difference consultants can make to their clients’ businesses,” Mr McEwen said. . . .


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. . .


Politics Daily

June 7, 2014

John Key in the Pacific

Claire Trevett @ NZ Herald – Key’s Pacific visit an election entrée

John Banks

Brook Sabin – PM to consider refusing Banks’ vote

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Don Brash on John Banks

Liz Banas @ RadioNZ – Power Play

Fran O’Sullivan @ NZ Herald – Act needs to move on and Banks needs to do the decent thing

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff - Farcical options for Banks

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – Move along please, sir.

IMP

Matthew Beveridge – The Internet Party candidates on Twitter

Internet Party – Internet Party candidate shortlist

Ian Apperley – Mana and Internet Party unholy alliance is an insult to all NZ ICT workers

Election

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Labour candidate seeking a poor person

Taxpayers’ Union – Election funding for satire no joke

Abbie Napier @ The Press – Electoral commission grant to ‘fun’ political party criticised

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Broadcasting allocations

John Armstrong @ NZ Herald – Right-left jockeying real news of the week

Verity Johnson @ NZ Herald – Make politics sexy

Other

Pattrick Smellie @ NBR - TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Sledge of the day 7 June 2014

Dominion Post – Today in politics: Saturday, June 7

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Can you name the politician?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – A bit of a history lesson

Matthew Beveridge - Twitter Stats : 6 June


Rural round-up

April 7, 2014

Understanding Fonterra gets even harder – Pattrick Smellie:

Ask anyone with half an eye on the New Zealand economy what’s leading its current recovery and they’ll tell you two things.

First: the Canterbury rebuild.

And second: the extraordinary boom in both the price and volume of dairy industry exports.

The dairy boom being what it is, you’d think the country’s only multi-national company with global scale, Fonterra, would have produced a stonking half-year profit result last week.

Not so.. .

Pukeuri meatworks still waiting for China go-ahead - Daniel Birchfield:

A resolution to the ongoing certification issue surrounding Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant looks no closer to being resolved.

The plant’s certification for China was suspended by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in July, after incorrectly labelled product was shipped to China.

Alliance Group general manager of processing, Kerry Stevens, said at this stage there was “no change” to the current situation.

Stevens declined to comment on how the issue at Pukeuri was affecting Timaru’s Smithfield plant in terms of staffing. . .

Farmers walk the environmental talk – Alan Wills:

. . . In a nut shell farming has a great future in New Zealand. We have our challenges but the long term future in my opinion is better than just good.

Why? We are naturally good farmers.  We have the climate and water availability in some areas to take the vagrancies out of seasonal production.  Globally this is called the ‘pastoral sweet spot’ and there aren’t too many countries in the world in it.

We have very good infrastructure here and abroad to effectively market what we produce. We have very focused research and development supporting us to stay on the front foot.  Politically, our Westminister type democracy provides stability and stability begets confidence.  I can think of one country that is like our twin except for politics and policies that shoots its economy in the foot.  Here, nothing is going to fall over by revolution or in a coup. 

Finally, we can produce food products in particular that the rest of developing world wants.

All of these attributes are vital in any successful production and marketing process. . .

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too:

The release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report’s chapter on Australasia, reinforces science, research and water storage are fundamental to New Zealand’s adaptive response.

“The IPCC report contains both good and bad news for the New Zealand farm system and New Zealand as a whole,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President, who has recently returned from the World Farmers Organisation’s General-Assembly.

“The report predicts that New Zealand will likely become drier in the northeast of the South Island as well as the east and north of the North Island.  On the other side of the ledger, it will likely become wetter in the south of the South Island. 

“This will change pest pressure and biosecurity risks and the effectiveness of biocontrols. . .

Tikorangi dairy farm takes top Taranaki award:

A TIKORANGI dairy farming operation is the inaugural winner of the 2014 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

It was described by judges as an outstanding example of best dairying practise.

The region’s first Supreme title was presented to Gavin and Oliver Faull, Faull Farms, and their sharemilkers, Tony and Loie Penwarden, at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards ceremony on April 3. . .

Precision farmers feature of Fert and Lime Conference:

THE WORD improvisation can conjure images of ad hoc solutions and a slightly less than professional approach, but when it comes to precision agriculture, it’s not a dirty word: in fact, it’s exactly what’s needed, says one of New Zealand’s leading academics on the subject.

 Out of necessity, New Zealand farmers have become inherently good at improvising over the years and that background will stand them in good stead with the growing array of precision farming techniques becoming available, says Professor of Precision Agriculture at Massey University Ian Yule. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2014

Deutsche Bank keeps ‘sell’ rating on Fonterra, seeks more transparency – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group needs to make it far clearer to farmers and other investors how its business model operates, says Deutsche Bank after the dairy exporter shored up a slump in half-year profits by intervening in the regulated price it pays for milk at the farm gate.

Deutsche Bank retains its ‘sell’ rating on Fonterra Shareholders Fund units, with a 12-month target price of $5.64. The units slipped 0.2 percent by mid-afternoon to $6.08, and have fallen from a closing price of $6.15 on March 26, when the result for the six months to Jan. 31 was declared.

Fonterra posted a 53 percent fall in first-half net profit to $217 million, a result that would have been far worse if the cooperative had not taken the unprecedented action last December of deciding to reduce the regulated Farm Gate Milk Price (FGMP) to farmer-shareholders by 70 cents per kilogram of milk solids. . . .

New Zealand dairy farmers are responding to high prices by cranking the handle on their production to cash in on record payout – Jeff Smith:

Our dairy farmers are “cranking the handle” on production in response to high prices they are receiving for their milk.

As a result nationwide dairy production is expected to be up by 11% this current season.

Strong dairy prices have “handed the baton” to strong dairy volumes, ASB says in its economic update released today.

Volumes would be higher than normal this year as farmers had bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny told interest.co.nz today. . . .

Farmer lands $30,000 in prizes - Elliot Parker:

Hard work has its merits.

Hinakura farmer Donald McCreary can attest to this after winning the award for the Beef and Lamb Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year and in the process scoring himself $30,000 in prizes.

McCleary has been farming in Hinakura, east of Martinborough, since 2004 on a 1375 ha property which is predominantly steep, hill country.

The property contains 6700 ewes and 225 breeding cattle.

McCreary says his approach to good farming is to be well versed in all areas of farm management. . .

Meat industry on the rise - Carmen Hall:

Higher lambing percentages and export carcass weights are helping offset a dramatic drop in sheep numbers.

Numbers have almost halved since 1991, but the amount of product being exported has remained stable as farmers focus on improving their systems.

Negative publicity has overshadowed the fact farmers have made significant gains in productivity and the industry has the potential to cash in on future growth, industry leaders are saying. Beef and Lamb New Zealand chief executive Scott Champion says the organisation focused on “best practice behind the farm gate”. . .

Finance support adds up for farmers :

Tauranga HR company Teaming Up hopes to connect accountancy firms with farmers in an economic development project that could generate millions of dollars.

The company spearheaded the Beyond Reasonable Drought inaugural road shows in the Bay of Plenty and East Coast last month, which attracted nearly 1000 people.

Marlborough sheep and beef farmer Doug Avery, who was on the brink of disaster 15 years ago after consecutive droughts, presented the seminars. He overcame adversity by adopting a scientific approach to agriculture and introducing deep-rooted, drought-tolerant lucerne. He employs six full-time staff, including son Frazer, and his business is a profitable operation that promotes high-reward, low-impact farming. . .

Honey lovers could get stung:

Honey prices could rise as much as 20 percent due to one of the worst seasons in decades.

Beekeepers say lower than usual temperatures in January meant the insects stayed inside their hives during the peak season and produced less honey. . .


Protection costs

February 17, 2014

An educational story about the costs of protection:

In 1990, Brach’s Confections Inc. threatened to close a West Side factory that employed 1,100 people. The candy maker said it would move abroad unless the federal government acted to reduce the artificially inflated cost of sugar. Washington ignored the threat, and Brach’s found ways to keep the plant going. But in 2003, it closed the factory and sent much of the work to Mexico.

The reason for the move was a federal undertaking whose entire purpose is to prop up the price of sugar for the benefit of a small number of growers. It does so by restricting imports, limiting how much farmers can plant and guaranteeing them a certain price. These methods work: The price of sugar in this country is usually double or triple the price in the rest of the world.

That enduring accomplishment comes at a cost to companies that buy sugar, like Brach’s. It also burdens a larger group of people: those who eat. In a typical year, the average American consumes nearly 100 pounds of sugar and other high-calorie sweeteners. The total cost to consumers amounts to as much as $3.5 billion a year.

That doesn’t count the jobs shipped to Mexico or Canada. Defenders claim the program saves American jobs in sugar production. But a 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that for each job it saves in those sectors, it destroys three jobs in candy making.

It’s not just that protection costs consumers and taxpayers, it costs jobs as well.

But there is an alternative:

For decades, Life Savers were made at a facility in Holland, Mich. But in 2003, Kraft Foods shut it and moved the production to a plant near Montreal.

What does Quebec have to offer that Michigan doesn’t? The Canadian Sugar Institute is happy to explain: “The Canadian sugar industry is internationally unique in that it does not depend on government subsidies. Basing its prices on world raw sugar markets, it sells sugar at prices that are among the lowest in the world.”

Some companies can afford to eat the extra cost of operating in the U.S. But when the composition of your product is 99 percent sugar, it’s not so easy. . .

Given that sugar is now regarded as a harmful substance this might not cause much concern, but it’s not just sugar producers who are protected in the USA and elsewhere.

Growers have been protected by import barriers since 1789, and the current complicated system dates back to the Great Depression.

The country was a very different place then. In 1930, one of every four Americans lived on a farm. Today, it’s one in 50. But the farm bill passed by Congress and signed by the president this month was a missed opportunity to enact changes that would reflect the vast changes over the past 80 years.

The politicians could have started with this system, which bleeds the many to enrich the few. “No industry is as coddled as farming, and no industry as centrally planned from Washington,” writes Cato Institute policy analyst Chris Edwards. “The federal sugar program is perhaps the most Soviet of all.”  . .

New Zealand farming used to be very heavily protected and subsidised.

Producers responded to the dictates of politicians and bureaucrats rather than the market and as a result we produced food no-one wanted to buy.

Farming became very difficult when we were forced into the real world in the mid-1980s but we got through that and now the industry and the country are far better for it.

If the Trans Pacific Partnership succeeds, farmers in the USA and other countries which sign up to it will go through some short-term pain as we did but they and their countries will benefit in the medium to longer term as we did.

Apropos of the TPP – Pattrick Smellie explains 10 things its opponents don’t want you to grasp.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,405 other followers

%d bloggers like this: