Rural round-up

September 26, 2014

Biofuels vs food production – Keith Woodford:

There is an inevitable tension between using crops for biofuel or for food. In working out the capacity of the world to feed itself in the future, the demand for biofuel is an essential part of the equation.

In the last ten years, the global quantity of biofuels has more than doubled. The big question is where will it go in the next ten years? It is widely agreed that biofuels are a key reason why grain prices have been much higher in this current decade than in the previous decade.

The largest producer of biofuels is the US, where 40 percent of the corn crop is now distilled into ethanol. To put that into perspective, corn is by far the most important crop grown in the US. The US produces four times as much corn as wheat, and it is corn that underpins both the animal feed and much of the human food industries. . .

New Zealand’s dairy opportunities in China - Keith Woodford:

This is the fourth in the ‘China series’ of articles written for the journal  Primary Industry Management by Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock and myself. It was published in September 2013.

As with other products to China, the statistics have moved on in the last year but the drivers of change are similar.

In the last year since the Primary Industry Management paper was written,  New Zealand’s total dairy exports to China have increased from $NZ2.9 billion for the 12 months ending 30 June 2013, to NZ6.05 billion for the 12 months ending 30 June 2014. These numbers will almost certainly decline in coming months, not because of a decline in volume, but from the current major downturn in prices. . . .

Passion for dairy drives manager  – Sally Rae:

When it comes to succeeding in the dairy industry, Maigan Jenkins believes passion is needed.

”You’ve got to want to be out there. It’s not a job where you go to work just for the money,” the young Clydevale herd manager said.

Brought up in South Otago, Miss Jenkins (21) had always enjoyed being around animals and wanted to be a vet from a young age. . .

Sculptor aims for essence of Shrek  – Lucy Ibbotson:

Capturing the ”multi-faceted personality” of New Zealand’s most high-profile sheep was a challenge relished by sculptor Minhal Halabi.

Central Otago celebrity wether Shrek, who died three years ago, will soon be immortalised in bronze in his hometown, Tarras, as a $75,000 sculpture by Mr Halabi nears completion.

Shrek’s owner, John Perriam, commissioned the piece, which will be unveiled later this year in the Tarras village. . .

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1409/S00825/comvita-sees-annual-earnings-lift-of-up-to-32.htm

Comvita sees annual earning lift of up to 32 %  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which produces health products derived from manuka honey, sees annual earnings growth of up to 32 percent, while bemoaning a growing imbalance between the first and second halves of the year.

The Te Puke-based company expects net profit of between $9 million and $10 million in the year ending March 31, 2015, up from $7.6 million a year earlier, on revenue of between $140 million and $145 million, up from $115 million, it said in a statement. That will largely come through in the second half of the year, due to uneven sales between the northern and southern hemispheres, and after the honey harvest is collected between January and May next year, which will generate revenue from the beekeeping operations.

 Strong Wool Sale

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that at today’s South Island Wool Sale prices held firm to slightly dearer across all categories.

The Trade Weighted Indicator continued its recent decline at 0.7269 against 0.7305 last week.

A small Half-bred offering was generally 2.5 to 3.5 percent dearer through all microns 25 to 30. . . .

 


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

September 2, 2014

Farming app in running for award – Phillipa Webb:

A Manawatu-developed smartphone app could see dairy farmers spending more time on smartphones and less time in paddocks.

The Grass2Milk app developed by the OneFarm Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management – a joint venture by Massey and Lincoln universities – was shortlisted in the environmental category of the 2014 World Summit Award mobile competition.

Massey University agri-business student Hamish Hammond helped to test the app, which allowed farmers to see whether herds were fed enough to reach daily milk and body condition targets to plan feed allocations for the day.

“Most farmers would be really intuitive when it comes to feeding, but they could use [the app] as a gauge.” . . .

China deal factor in Fonterra’s lower credit rating – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s credit rating has taken a hit following the announcement of its proposed partnership with a Chinese infant food manufacturer.

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has lowered the dairy co-operative’s long-term rating from A+ to A and affirmed its short-term rating of A-1.

Last week, Fonterra said it was forming a global partnership with Beingmate to help meet China’s growing demand for infant formula.

Fonterra’s proposed sizable shareholding in a commercial company operating in China indicated a financial risk appetite that was ”more aggressive” than Standard and Poor’s had factored into the previous rating, credit analyst Brenda Wardlaw said in a statement. . . .

Teasing out the beta-casein evidence – Keith Woodford:

In last week’s column I advocated that the mainstream dairy industry should convert New Zealand herds away from the production of A1 beta-casein. To not do so creates unnecessary long term risk to the industry. However, the mainstream industry remains locked into a defensive position.

In this article I will therefore briefly review some of the major strands of health evidence. I cannot cover it all – it took me a whole book to do so back in 2007. Since then, there has been a lot more evidence forthcoming.

In assessing the evidence, it is helpful to recognise that A1 beta-casein is the consequence of a historical mutation. Goats, sheep camels, buffalo, Asian cattle and humans produce beta-casein that is totally of the A2 type. It is only cows of European ancestry which produce A1 beta-casein. . .

Allied Farmers back in black as livestock unit grows – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers, which is rebuilding from a disastrous takeover of the Hanover and United Finance loan books, returned to profit as its core livestock unit lifted income with gains in Taranaki and Waikato.

The Hawera-based company reported a profit of $1.03 million, or 1.03 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30, turning around a loss of $1.12 million, or 2.94 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Revenue in the slimmed down entity shrank 38 percent to $16.9 million.

“The focus for the coming year will be to continue to grow the livestock business and to leverage off the client relationships and trust that exists with those clients to provide value for money services,” chairman Garry Bluett said. “The effect of the reduced dairy payout is likely to have some uncertain impact on dairy livestock sales going forward and the continuing high dollar is already having some impact on meat exports at the early stage of this season.” . . .

 New Zealand firm creates health focused flavoured milk; export potential:

Christchurch-based New Zealand Dairy Brands believes it is a world leader in its sector in the production of health products with the launch of its highly innovative Go Milk flavoured milks.

The range has no added sugar, a low GI (glycaemic loading) and is low fat, making it suitable for diabetics and excellent in the fight against obesity. The product was a recent finalist in the NZIFST awards in the product innovation category.

Just released on New World and Pak n Save supermarket shelves in New Zealand, a trial export shipment of Go Milk has already been sent to China and the product is destined for the Australian market also. . . .

 Compass points new crop direction – Gregor Heard:

RESEARCHERS are excited about the prospects of a new barley variety set to be commercialised next year.

Speaking at a trial walk at last week’s Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grower update in Horsham, Birchip Cropping Group research agronomist Simon Craig said the Compass variety, developed by the University of Adelaide research team and commercialised by Seednet, showed outstanding promise.

“It looks to have a very good fit right across a range of low to medium rainfall zones.” . . .


Rural round-up

May 24, 2014

NZ’s rural businesses struggle to attract equity capital to develop – Graham Turley:

Agri-business is New Zealand’s most productive and successful business sector yet it struggles to attract investor capital.

It seem counter-intuitive, particularly with all the talk of food bowls for Asia, that a sector which represents more than 25 per cent of New Zealand’s economy is widely perceived as difficult and inaccessible for investment – whether those investors are retail, large fund managers or overseas looking to invest in New Zealand’s agricultural success story.

Few successful agriculture-based businesses are listed on the NZX, especially when you consider how significant a contributor agriculture is to the economy. . .

Mackenzie Country farmer wins top deer award:

Paddy Boyd, manager of Haldon Station in the Mackenzie Country, is the winner of the 2014 Deer Industry Award.

The announcement of the award at the annual Deer Conference in Methven on Wednesday was followed by a sustained standing innovation for a farmer who has been a behind-the-scenes industry leader from the 1970s to the present day.

The award citation listed Paddy’s involvement in numerous industry groups including quality assurance, the Cervena strategy, velveting standards, Tb eradication, genetic improvement and environmental standards. . .

Kiwi team and supporters in charge in Ireland:

Six New Zealand shearers, including World Championships representatives Rowland Smith and John Kirkpatrick, have made it to the semi-finals of the Irish All-Nations Open championships semi-final in Gorey, Ireland.

Smith headed the 18 qualifiers after 70 shearers took part in the open-entry heats on the first day of the 16th Golden Shears World Championships, while Kirkpatrick qualified in third place.

They were separated by Scottish World championships contender Hamish Mitchell, whose teammate and defending World champion Gavin Mutch was a surprise elimination. The All-Nations has no bearing on the World Championship, for which the first round will be held tonight (Friday NZT).

The other New Zealanders still in All-Nations contention are five-times World champion David Fagan and son Jack, and Smith’s brothers, Matt and Doug. . . .

Passenger to be investigated for carrying plants:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating an air passenger it nabbed carrying two concealed plants in her shirt.

Watchman, one of MPI’s most experienced detector dogs, sniffed out the plants on the passenger arriving from China at Auckland airport yesterday afternoon.

The woman had rooted cuttings in a plastic bag hidden in her shirt sleeve and under a coat.

“It appears the cuttings were to be planted and that this was a deliberate attempt to smuggle risk items into New Zealand,” says Craig Hughes, MPI’s Manager, North, Passenger and Mail. . .

Delegat’s says 2014 harvest supports sales growth projections – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Delegat’s Group, the winemaker which last year bought Australia’s Barossa Valley Estate, said its just completed 2014 harvest will allow it to achieve its forecast future sales growth.

The Auckland-based winemaker expects to increase wine sale volumes by 2 percent to 1.985 million cases in the year ending June 30, accelerating to an 8.8 percent pace in 2015 and 8.9 percent in 2016, according to projections detailed in its 2013 annual report. The 2014 harvest amounted to 35,127 tonnes, as its New Zealand vintage increased 18 percent to 34,123 tonnes. Its Australian harvest, the first vintage since acquisition of Barossa in June last year, amounted to 1,004 tonnes, the company said today.

“The 2014 vintage has delivered excellent quality in all regions,” managing director Graeme Lord said. “The group has appropriate inventories to achieve future sales growth in line with guidance provided in the 2013 annual report.” . . .

Researchers start a wine revolution:

The global wine industry may be on the cusp of a revolution, thanks to pioneering genetic research conducted by scientists at Lincoln University and Plant & Food Research that not only has ramifications for controlling disease and increasing productivity, but will quite likely mean completely new varieties of grapes and styles of wine.

The research project initially commenced to fill a knowledge gap in the identification and function of the genes that underpin the key characteristics of grapevines. The goal was to bed down a research framework, such as those used by researchers with other plant species, to establish a knowledge base for the study of gene behaviour and the critical processes of grape production.

As the research developed, however, new opportunities became apparent, and a greater emphasis was placed on investigating the potential for manufacturing and encouraging the expression of genetic elements within grapevines which may, in turn, come with commercial benefits. . .

Premium Amisfield Wines to Be Showcased At International Event in Venice, Italy:

Celebrated New Zealand wine producer Amisfield will showcase a premium selection of its wines to a select international audience at the prestigious 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.

The specialist producer of multi-award-winning Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines will be the exclusive wine sponsor and supplier to the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) exhibition at the Biennale from June 5 to November 23.

Amisfield wines, sourced from fruit grown on its estate vineyard beneath the Pisa Mountain range in the renowned Central Otago region, will be served during the official opening events and associated events for the duration of the Biennale at the New Zealand exhibition, to be staged in the Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina. . .

Comvita annual profit rises 3.3% as honey price squeezes margin, sees more growth in 2015 - Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which produces health products from manuka honey and olive leaves, lifted annual profit 3.3 percent as the rising cost of honey squeezed margins, and said revenue and earnings would grow in 2015.

Net profit rose to $7.6 million, or 24.37 cents per share, in the 12 months ended March 31 from $7.4 million, or 24.52 cents a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. That’s slightly ahead of the $7.5 million profit Comvita signalled earlier this month. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 11 percent to $16.4 million and revenue gained by the same amount to $115.3 million.

“Margins were impacted by the very strong New Zealand dollar and from further sharp rises in the cost of Manuka honey,” the company said. “Because of contractual commitments on pricing in the fast growing China market these costs couldn’t be recovered within the annual time frame.” . . .

New president for Federated Farmers Waikato:

Federated Farmers is thrilled to welcome our new Waikato provincial president, Chris Lewis, who is replacing James Houghton following their provincial AGM.

“Chris has been a part of Federated Farmers for nine years and is well versed on the issues surrounding the Waikato region as well as the dairy industry at a national level,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“I would like to thank outgoing provincial president, James Houghton for his service to the province and Federated Farmers and congratulate him on his role on the Waikato Waipa Stakeholders Group, in continuing the collective conversation around water quality in Waikato.

“We are in a year of change within the Federation with leadership changes throughout the organisation, both nationally and provincially, Chris is an incredibly passionate advocate for the farming community and I know he will do a fantastic job,” said Mr Wills. . .

Shocking Sharemilker compliance revealed:

With just over a week until it closes, Federated Farmers is blowing the whistle on the four-fifths of Sharemilkers who are yet to vote in the 2014 DairyNZ Levy referendum.

“The last time I checked only 20 percent of sharemilkers had voted and that’s a shocker turn out,” says Neil Filer, Federated Farmers Sharemilkers section chairperson.

“It’s like seeing only 100 people physically in Eden Park for the upcoming England test.

“I need to send a rocket to our guys to pull finger and vote. We’re the ones that get the most from the levy as it sets up the best possible industry for us. . . .


Rural round-up

May 11, 2014

Last chance to apply for leading farm business management program – 2014:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Executive Development Program, Australasia’s well-regarded agricultural business management course for leading primary producers.

Now in its fifteenth year, the prestigious Rabobank Executive Development Program gives leading New Zealand and Australian farmers from a range of agricultural sectors the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank CEO New Zealand Ben Russell said the business of running an agricultural enterprise has become increasingly sophisticated, with farm owners and managers needing to draw equally on their farm knowledge and professional business skills in order to remain competitive and profitable. . .

 Changes lurk below gloss - Andrea Fox:

Dairy farmers enjoying the economic sunshine have been warned a new reality is coming, bringing an end to low global interest rates and a requirement for cash-backed investment.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie told the DairyNZ Farmers Forum in Hamilton shifts in United States economic policy influenced New Zealand’s long-term interest rates much more than Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler and some changes lurked under the current export gloss.

“We are transitioning internationally to a fundamentally different economic environment,” Bagrie said.

“The era of low interest rates and low cost of capital is coming to an end. . .

Hone first woman to win Diary trainee award -

Ruth Hone, representing the Central Plateau region, is the first woman to take the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the year title.

Charlie and Jody McCaig from Taranaki were named Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year and Nick Bertram from Hawek’s Bay/Wairarapa became the Farm Manager of the Year at the awards in Auckland last night.

It was fitting the McCaig’s came from Taranaki to take the 25th award because the contest had its roots there, where the idea was born in the 1970s before the first national contest was held in 1990, national convenor Chris Keeping said. . . .

Talent galore at Dairy Awards - Anne Boswell:

New Zealand Sharemilkers of the Year 2014 Charlie and Jody McCaig say competing in the Dairy Industry Awards was the most challenging and rewarding part of their career to date.

The McCaigs, who took out the prestigious title at the National Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland last night, said the award was a culmination of all they had worked toward throughout their five year journey in the industry. They are currently 50/50 sharemilking 500 cows in Hawera for the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust.

“What an honour it is to win, given the calibre of all the entrants,” McCaig said. “They are all fantastic people, doing fantastic things.” . . .

BNZ grabs more agribusiness lending, upbeat on rural sector – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Bank of New Zealand, the local unit of National Australia Bank, continued to grab more market share of agribusiness lending and is upbeat on the prospects for the rural sector.

The lender made a concerted effort to build its capability in rural lending three years ago and continued to lift market share of agri lending in the six months ended March 31, with 22.2 percent of the market, up from 21.7 percent a year earlier, and 19.2 percent in 2010.

Chief executive Andrew Thorburn, who will become chief executive at the NAB group later this year, told BusinessDesk agribusiness is “an important focus for us” after the lender’s decision to boost capability three years ago, with asset quality “improving significantly.”

Growth in business lending and lower impairment charges on distressed loans underpinned a 3.4 percent increase in BNZ’s first-half cash earnings to $400 million. . . .


Rural round-up

January 28, 2014

Synlait hikes annual profit forecast on value-add earnings growth, unsure on Chinese sales target – Paul McBeth:

Jan. 28 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy Food as a cornerstone shareholder, will beat its annual profit forecast by as much as 77 percent on earnings growth, though might miss its sales target for infant formula into China due to stricter regulations.

The Rangiora-based company anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July, it said in a statement.

Synlait lifted its forecast milk payout to between $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and $8.40/kgMS from $8/kgMS previously as global dairy prices climbed, but is reaping earnings growth from its value-add products and a favourable product mix, chairman Graeme Milne said. . .

Sheep farming area now a dairy melting pot - Mike Crean:

The old mail box has the name Inniskillen stencilled on the front. Beside it are nine small, modern mail boxes. To Dick Davison, they illustrate the greatest social change in the history of North Canterbury’s Amuri Basin.

It is the change from an aristocracy of established sheep farming families to a multi-cultural society of dairy farmers, managers, labourers and sharemilkers. The change is greater even than the transformation caused by breaking up the large estates a century ago, Davison says.

He and wife Liz bought his family’s farm, Blakiston, across the road from Inniskillen, in 1976. Recently they sold most of it, retaining an elevated block where they have built their dream house. . .

Honey price tipped to rise:

Beekeepers are struggling through one of their most challenging seasons, with cool temperatures and wind significantly slowing honey production.

National Bee Keepers Association president Ricki Leahy said the weather so far this summer had been exactly what the bees did not thrive in.

“We have hives down the West Coast and it has certainly been a miserable summer down there, really,” Mr Leahy said.

“The main problem we have with unsettled weather is the bees need to build up a momentum to get a good honey flow going.

“You also need that constant heat to get the nectar in the flowers … so everything depends on a nice, long stretch of fine weather.” . . .

Little risk in biocontrol insects:

An international study into the use of introduced insects to control weeds has found little evidence of them going wrong.

Dr Max Suckling of Plant & Food Research said there had been concerns about introducing non-native insects as weed biocontrols because of the risk of them attacking non-targetted plants.

But Dr Suckling said their worldwide survey of more than 500 insect biocontrol cases, dating back more than 150 years, had found few examples of them causing serious damage to other plants. . .

China pays up big for Australian cattle – Warwick Long:

Australian dairy and even beef farmers are making the most of Chinese demand for live cattle.

China’s dairy industry killed two million cows last year as smaller subsistence farmers left in droves on the back of high meat prices.

The price of an Australian six-month-old dairy heifer for live export has risen by over $400 in just a couple of months.

Independent livestock agent Darren Askew says farmers are now earning over $1,350 per animal.

The trade of dairy cattle to China is a volatile market, which has been this high before and then crashed. . .

What inspires a young man to become a dairy farmer – Milk Maid Marian:

We received an unusual phone call the other week. A vet student with no family connections to dairy, Andrew Dallimore rang out of the blue saying he was keen to become a dairy farmer and wondered if he could ask us a few questions.

Well, what a series of questions! What were the challenges we faced becoming dairy farmers, why did we choose it, the ups and downs, where we look for knowledge and what are the pros and cons of raising children on a farm? At least, these are the ones I remember. And he took notes.

It felt like being at confessional, somehow. You have to be totally honest with someone so earnestly and diligently researching his future. Wayne and I were both immensely impressed, then gobsmacked when he offered to do a few hours work on the farm with the payment of just our thoughts and a banana! . . .


Rural round-up

December 18, 2013

Fonterra faces big milk problem – Chalkie:

If Heath Robinson designed a contraption to pluck the feathers from a mallard with barbecue tongs, it would be the epitome of elegance compared with Fonterra.

Our giant dairy co-operative, bless it, is like an elephant balancing on a stool built by engineering students out of toothpicks – a gravity-defying feat of complexity that threatens to go crashingly wrong at any moment.

The elephant hit the deck big time last week when Fonterra had to press the manual over-ride on its intricate milk pricing machinery and Chalkie reckons the damage will be more than a few splinters in the bum. . .

Farmer loses cows to feed ‘hardware’ – Sandie Finnie:

Carterton dairy farmer Chris Engel is out of pocket but better informed after two of his cows died of “hardware disease”, the industry term for cows that die from ingesting metal fragments in palm kernel expeller supplementary feed.

Now he wants to alert other farmers to the importance of reading the fine print on their PKE supply deals.

Mr Engel sought compensation of $12,522.23 from PKE supplier INL through the Masterton District Court Disputes Tribunal.

It would have covered the death of the cows, lost milk production, veterinarian fees and other costs. . .

New Chancellor for Massey University:

Wellington businessman Chris Kelly is Massey University’s new Chancellor.

Mr Kelly replaces Dr Russ Ballard, who has been Chancellor for the past five years. Mr Kelly is a veterinary science graduate of Massey and highly regarded New Zealand business leader with multiple directorships. This year he retired as chief executive of state-owned Landcorp Farming Ltd, a role he was in for 12 years. He has been on the University Council since August 2005 and has been Pro Chancellor – deputy chair of the council – since July last year.

The University’s new Pro Chancellor is Michael Ahie, also from Wellington. . .

Meat industry takes stock:

The Red Meat Sector Strategy coordination group has released a progress report on how the sector is tracking towards the goals of the Red Meat Sector Strategy, released in May 2011.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy was developed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. It identified ways to secure improved and sustainable growth for the sector against a background of volatile sales and variable profitability, over the past decade in particular.
 
Just over two years after the launch of the strategy, this report outlines the progress in each of its focus areas and towards realising the opportunities outlined. The report records where progress has been made and where work is actively ongoing. It also identifies the areas where progress has been limited. . .

Fitch gives Fonterra thumbs up over unchanged farmgate payout, dividend cut – Paul McBeth:

Fitch Ratings has praised Fonterra Cooperative Group’s [NZX: FCG] decision to hold the forecast payout to farmers and slashing its dividend by two-thirds amid a growing gap in prices between milk powders and its cheese and casein products.

The Auckland-based company’s decision is “characteristic of the fiscal discipline that underscores its credit rating,” Fitch said in a statement. Fonterra has an AA rating. Earlier this month the cooperative surprised analysts by holding the forecast payout for this season at a record $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and cutting its expected dividend to 10 cents from 32 cents. . .

Better water quality won’t happen overnight … but it must happen – Jenny Webster-Brown:

If we cannot stop ongoing water quality degradation, and effectively restore degraded water environments, we stand to lose much that we value about New Zealand and our way of life. We will lose recreational opportunities, fisheries and our reputation for primary produce from a “clean” environment. We will lose functioning ecosystems, the ecosystem services they provide and the beauty of our iconic water features. We will have to pay for increasingly higher technology to treat drinking, stock and even irrigation water … like so many drier, more populous or older nations, who have long since lost their natural water amenities. This is not what we have known, or what we wish for our children, or their children. To improve water quality, we need only three things: the will, the means and the time. . .

Wine industry shows increased profitability in 2013:

Financial benchmarking survey optimistic despite challenges for smaller wineries

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2013 on the back of improved profitability, especially for large wineries, according to the eighth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2013 tracks the results of wineries accounting for almost half of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2013 financial year. New participants provided data this year making for the most even spread across the revenue band categories in the survey’s history. . .

How to count grass - Baletwine:

The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters.

Towed behind an ATV / RTV or utility vehicle at up to 20kph, this machine provides a fast, practical method of measuring grass cover particularly over large areas over all terrain that can be safely covered by an ATV/vehicle.  The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters. Developed and proven in New Zealand, there are 3 models ranging from manual paddock ID entry to fully GPS with auto paddock start /stop. . .


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